Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Daily Embarrassment

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  • linger,

    (Erratum: For "exploratory" above read "confirmatory".)

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1943 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis,

    For those who asked for the reference

    http://www.scientificexploration.org/jse/abstracts/v19n2a5.php

    David Deming ,Journal of Scientific Exploration
    Book review of State of Fear
    ...An example is provided by revisionist efforts of some researchers to extinguish the existence of a Medieval Warm Period. The politicization of science is a threat to the process of free inquiry necessary for human progress.

    The full text is not online, I got the direct quote from elsewhere.
    lets see what the Global Warmongers make of that

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    And now you're using a partisan review of a work of pulp fiction by Michael Crichton?!

    Bozhe moi. What next, The Chronicles of Narnia?

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    And now you're using a partisan review of a work of pulp fiction by Michael Crichton?!

    Google it. State of Fear is endlessly cited by "sceptics" as if it were something other than an airport novel. It's bizarre.

    Peter Doran's NYT op-ed about Crichton's misuse of his research is worth reading.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    Regarding I/S's strong words about cash for honours and the fisaco that has been taking place in the UK...

    Whilst I agree that simply providing funding to a political party in exchange for an honour is unseemly this is not what is at issue in the UK. In fact, that aspect of party funding was investigated and a decision taken not to prosecute.

    What is at stake in the UK is the way "loans" to parties have been used to circumvent political financing rules. The fact is, money has been changing hands in secret and, probably, in breach of the law. This has been an opaque process and runs totally counter to an open democracy.

    Owen Glenn's contributions to Labour are the exact opposite of that approach, something even The Herald seems to recognise. If the only benefit he gained was a gong, well, who cares...really.

    It is the secrecy of donantions, the hidden paybacks and then the subsequent lying about that funding that is "smells" and "reeks".

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    It is the secrecy of donantions, the hidden paybacks and then the subsequent lying about that funding that is "smells" and "reeks".

    Yeah, that's an interesting one. The original Herald story stated Robertson's donation to National as a fact, but National's campaign manager told TV3 in 2005 that "There are no cheques from Americans".

    I didn't approve of Mallard's stunt in 2005 because he claimed without benefit of evidence that Julian Robertson had been buying favours. It's the same claim lots of Kiwibloggers have merrily made this week about Glenn, also without benefit of evidence.

    But on the issue of whether Robertson was or was not a National donor ... well, someone's not right.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    Yes, I should be clear "the hidden paybacks" refer to the British situation.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    Google it. State of Fear is endlessly cited by "sceptics" as if it were something other than an airport novel. It's bizarre.

    I know, hence my incredulity. I await Doctor No being used as an insightful and authoritative analysis of Chinese foreign policy.

    A millipede couldn't shoot itself in the foot more often...

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Heather Gaye,

    A millipede couldn't shoot itself in the foot more often...

    well, that's because millipedes don't have opposable thumbs.

    Morningside • Since Nov 2006 • 533 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    Would they use little guns because their feet are very little and an ordinary sized gun and bullets would probably shoot all their legs and body off with one shot?

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Whilst I agree that simply providing funding to a political party in exchange for an honour is unseemly this is not what is at issue in the UK. In fact, that aspect of party funding was investigated and a decision taken not to prosecute.

    The fact that the UK's ever-flexible attorney-general (whose public credibility was at rock-bottom over Iraq, before he decided not to prosecute over this or BAE's corruption) decided to ignore a crime does not mean it is not an issue.

    The lying, the deceit, and the violation of electoral finance legislation simply adds whole extra levels of wrongness on top of Blair's corruption.

    As for Glenn, I agree - at least his donations were made transparently and publicly. Which is more than you can say for most of those donating to the National Party.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Which is more than you can say for most of those donating to the National Party.

    You're quite right, Idiot/Savant. I've donated a little under two grand to the National Party this millennium through membership dues and various fundraisers. Oddly enough, National - like every other political party in this country - does not publish its membership rolls, or post financial data publicly and is not legally or ethically required to do so.

    Then again, it mightn't be a bad idea if parties were. Might throw into sharp relief how stupid this all is.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner,

    And here we have a prediction of global cooling...

    http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20080103/94768732.html

    Earth is now at the peak of one of its passing warm spells. It started in the 17th century when there was no industrial influence on the climate to speak of and no such thing as the hothouse effect. The current warming is evidently a natural process and utterly independent of hothouse gases.

    The real reasons for climate changes are uneven solar radiation, terrestrial precession (that is, axis gyration), instability of oceanic currents, regular salinity fluctuations of the Arctic Ocean surface waters, etc. There is another, principal reason—solar activity and luminosity. The greater they are the warmer is our climate.

    And

    Carbon dioxide is not to blame for global climate change. Solar activity is many times more powerful than the energy produced by the whole of humankind. Man’s influence on nature is a drop in the ocean.

    So who knows? But it certainly doesn't seem to me that "the science is settled" as is so oft repeated by those wishing to stifle discussion and rush ahead with their daft schemes.

    And of course there is the fact that warmer climates and more CO2 have some very positive effects, so even if GW is in fact happening, taking massively costly actions in futile attempts to control the climate may be the wrong thing to do anyway.

    Some countries sign Kyoto and try (and fail) to reduce CO2 emissions, meanwhile China is exempt from Kyoto and increases its CO2 emissions every year, by the entire amount of Germany's CO2 emissions. What a farce.

    And as far as relying on scientists is concerned, it is not as though they have never been wrong before is it? I remember the global cooling scare in the 70s and according to some bright scientific sparks we were supposed to have run out of food and have mass starvation by 1990 or was it 2000? And how many times have we been supposed to run out of commodities or oil? Must be in double digits by now.

    Crossing politics with science, as has unquestionably happened with GW, is very dangerous as well. Just look at the history of Eugenics if you want to get a feel for how badly things can go off the tracks in that regard.

    I hope that cooler, more sensible heads prevails on GW. Might be a less than even bet at this stage, but the longer the GW alarmists predictions continue to fail to materialize, and their much hyped global climate models continue to be wrong, the more their credibility will decline, putting a stop to this nonsense. It can’t happen soon enough.

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 353 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner,

    RB,

    The hurricane predictions for the past 2 seasons have been way off


    http://www.miamiherald.com/news/broward/story/320606.html

    A different team at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted 13 to 17 named storms, seven to 10 hurricanes and three to five intense hurricanes.

    The actual results for the 2007 season: 14 named storms, five hurricanes, two intense hurricanes.

    That turned a season predicted to be extremely active into one that was about average in number of storms and well below average in total intensity.

    Even mid-season corrections issued by both teams in August -- somewhat akin to changing your prediction about a baseball game during the fifth inning -- proved wrong.

    Their pre-season predictions in 2005 and 2006 were even worse.

    So we can't predict a hurricane season (or El Nino, La Nina etc.) from a range of only a few months. and we know a lot more about hurricanes and El Nino than we do about how the exponentially more complicated global climate works, but we think we can predict how the global climate is going to change for decades into the future?

    You don't need to be a scientist or climatologist to see a load of complete bollocks when it is that plain and obvious and staring you right in the face.

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 353 posts Report Reply

  • Philip Wilkie,

    Had a read of the Russian link you made and at this point either the English translation is a cockup, or you need to clear a nice big space on the floor to have a good roll around:

    "Hothouse gases may not be to blame for global warming. At any rate, there is no scientific evidence to their guilt. The classic hothouse effect scenario is too simple to be true. As things really are, much more sophisticated processes are on in the atmosphere, especially in its dense layer. For instance, heat is not so much radiated in space as carried by air currents—an entirely different mechanism, which cannot cause global warming."

    I hesitate to have to say this, but given that space is a vacuum, then air currents cannot be the mechanism of carrying heat off into it. I suspect what is being said here is something about the relationship between the troposphere and the stratosphere and the way energy moves between them, but this clumsy article has failed to make its point, much less prove one.

    As for your hurricane data:

    Administration predicted 13 to 17 named storms, seven to 10 hurricanes and three to five intense hurricanes.

    The actual results for the 2007 season: 14 named storms, five hurricanes, two intense hurricanes.

    That is actually not a bad result for a prediction... and one that is still well above the long-term average. Anyhow Russell has already pre-empted you on this one:

    http://www.pewclimate.org/global-warming-basics/facts_and_figures/impacts/storms.cfm
    http://www.pewclimate.org/hurricanes.cfm

    And you also make two other basic mistakes:

    1. Using short-term data from one year to attempt to say something about a long-term trend.

    2. Using data from one region (the North Atlantic) to attempt to say something about the planet as a whole.

    Since Mar 2007 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    3. Citing the Journal of Scientific Exploration?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    well, that's because millipedes don't have opposable thumbs.

    Well, a decent ergonomist could probably design a gun that could be used with opposable legs - after all a millipede has plenty to spare. It would take nanotech to achieve though.

    Armed millipedes, one for DARPA

    Re the 'new ice age', it was largely mistaken and overhyped (that link is subscriber-only, alas.

    It has been noted that we're in an unusually long interglacial period now and that over the scale of thousands of years, the ice age may intensify again (we're not really out of it). That's thousands, GW is over hundreds. An order of magnitude difference, which I have to point out before some twit says, 'well, won't one cancel out the other?'

    The paper that may have started it was published in 1971 by Stephen Schneider, who found that he had miscalculated, vastly overestimating the effects of aerosol cooling, and by 1975, the US National Academy of Science, concluded that more research might be necessary, but the case was weak. By 1977 Scheiner had retracted his earlier findings and was bemoaning the role of the mass media and conspiracy 'theorists' - see here

    There was an apparent period of global cooling mid 20th century, but it was comparitively short lived and doesn't buck the trend. The oft-repeated claim that 'they', presumably meaning all or most scientists believed in the coming of a new ice age sooner rather than later is a media myth.

    It was a short-lived scare, proposed by relatively few, based on limited and erroneous data, not broadly corroborated, not part of the mainstream of scientific thought and soon discarded. GW is not comparable in any of these aspects. It only made good headlines.

    Also, the "'they' said this, then 'they' said that" is very poor logic, being an essentialist argument rather than recognising neither the quantitative nor the qualitative.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    Armed millipedes, one for DARPA

    Erratum/Addendum: one for the Ignobel prize too, I'd think. I can see the papers now: 'Self-harm and suicide incidences among millipedes: an investigation.' 'Marksmanship and potential military applications among the arthropoda' War games and exercise with army ants (of course) against commando squads of...

    Yes, I do need a cat, Russell.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Speaking of the tiny and violent, I just powered up the demo version of the original, teeny-pixel graphic Worms last night. It didn't play very well in OSX's classic thingy, but it's still better than any of the other versions.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    well, that's because millipedes don't have opposable thumbs.

    You don't need thumbs to fire any kind of gun I can think of.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis,

    Allready they are scouring last seasons data so they can upgade some tropical storms to hurricanes, just to make sure Karen that goes to hurricane strength for 12 hours gets counted, on that only on one sensor reading
    http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/pdf/TCR-AL122007_Karen.pdf

    And guess what the above average prediction is then met for the year

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    ...and once again we go sailling on stormy seas to conspiracist la-lal-land with a crew of straw men.

    The frequency of hurricanes is uncertain and not taken as a major make-or-break issue. The suggestion that it is is misinformation.

    __New Scientist's__ summary says,

    General climate models are not detailed enough to accurately predict the effects of warming on hurricane activity. Instead, modellers have tried to feeding in predictions from general models to detailed regional models of hurricanes. This has produced some widely varying results, but the consensus among experts is that global warming will not lead more hurricanes overall, but will increase the average intensity of storms.

    and

    There are problems with such studies. For starters, tropical cyclone activity in some regions seems to rise and fall in cycles lasting many decades. “This variability makes detecting any long-term trends in tropical cyclone activity difficult” concluded the 125 members of a World Meteorological Organisation international workshop on tropical cyclones and climate change, held in December 2006

    As for for the motives that 'they' have 'just so they can'... whatever... well, my sarcasm's being overused these day's so I'll just say keep an eye out for those black helicopters.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    With regard to "ice ages", the onset might not be gradual, over thousands of years. This article by Elizabeth Kolbert (pdf) in the New Yorker cites ice-core drilling in Greenland that has produced evidence that on the way into an ice age (and possibly also coming out) temperatures might swing very erratically- as much as 8 degrees in a single year.
    I don't think there's any consensus as to the mechanism that triggers ice ages, or the inter-galacial "thaws". There are quite a few theories. But there's an awful lot we don't know about global climate.
    Two things we do know: human activity has changed the world quite radically, in the last century- which makes prediction even more difficult. And at more than 12000 years, "ours" (the time of the humans!) is already a longish inter-galacial period, in relation to the pattern over the last two million years or so.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner,

    This link may appear to be way OTT at first glance but it is relevant to the discussion on GW because it shows that "scientific studies" by respected organizations that appear in respected publications that are taken very seriously and impact public attitudes and potentially public policy can in fact be almost certainly a complete load of shit.

    http://news.nationaljournal.com/articles/databomb/index.htm

    Scientists are just like the rest of us. They make mistakes; they see what they want to see, they are vain and or greedy for recognition and or money, their personal biases can creep into their work (or drive it in the first place as appears to be the case with the Lancet studies). This destruction of the Lancet study is just proof positive that we should always be skeptical of scientific studies.

    I wonder how many GW studies are as badly flawed as the Lancet study. Quite a few would be my guess.

    RB, your comments on the National Journal article? You have cited the Lancet study number frequently in your posts.

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 353 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    And then there was Malcolm McPhee: Climate of fear starting to make my temperature rise in Fridays Herald ...

    Which was given a brisk fisking by Hot Topic, where it was described as "breathtakingly nonsensical".

    Jim Hopkins shared his boundless wisdom on the topic of climate change on Friday too.

    Is the Herald trying to look stupid?

    Ditto that...

    Speaking generally, the political/editorial coverage at the Herald is of a regrettably low standard. I saw a couple of senior writers interview a Cabinet minister on Agenda recently. They were trying to maintain a "i´ll-make-the-perceptive-comments-here, thanks" tone, when it was reasonably obvious that the Minister knew quite a bit about the topic (climate change in this instance) and they did not.

    IMO, the tone and style of the Herald´s political coverage is in serious need of change. If you are going to offer what is essentially insta-opinion poorly disguised as context and analysis in a major newspaper, get someone who knows their topic and has good ideas to write the stuff (I acknowledge the possible irony of this remark).

    Thinking back, the comments page has generally been good when they get two "guest" experts to write, not necessaily in contradistinction, but perhaps with each writer having a different perspective.

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

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