Category Archives: Science And Society

The Pacific Salmon Are Back

…and of course, the environmentalists hate it:

The point deserves emphasis. The advent of higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere has been a great boon for the terrestrial biosphere, accelerating the rate of growth of both wild and domestic plants and thereby expanding the food base supporting humans and land animals of every type. Ignoring this, the carbophobes point to the ocean instead, saying that increased levels of carbon dioxide not exploited by biology could lead to acidification. By making the currently barren oceans fertile, however, mariculture would transform this putative problem into an extraordinary opportunity.

Which is precisely why those demanding restraints on carbon emissions and restrictions on fisheries hate mariculture. They hate it for the same reason those demanding constraints in the name of allegedly limited energy resources hate nuclear power. They hate it because it solves a problem they need unsolved.

I hope this means a lot of cheap fresh wild salmon in the stores this summer.

A “Tenuous Grasp Of Science”

That’s certainly a polite way to describe these fools:

A half-liter of urine dumped in a 143 million-liter reservoir would get a urea concentration of about 3 parts per billion, according to Slate. (We calculated it would be a 50 nanoMolar solution.) Meanwhile, the EPA allows concentrations of arsenic in drinking water up to 10 ppb. Salt water has a salt concentration of around 35,000,000 parts per billion, or 600 milliMolar.

Do these morons have any idea how many birds poop in that lake every day? In drought-stricken California, that wouldn’t be just a firing offense — they’d be strung up. But I’ll bet he’s all on board with battling climate change.

As Glenn says, the nation is increasingly being run by chuckleheads.


What are they thinking?

Miklósi, I was surprised to learn, had also conducted the pointing test with felines. Like Agrillo, he had a hard time getting cats to cooperate in his laboratory—so he went to their homes instead. Even then, most of the animals weren’t interested in advancing science; according to Miklósi’s research paper, seven of the initial 26 test subjects “dropped out.” But those that did participate performed nearly as well as dogs had. Cats too, it appears, may have a rudimentary theory of mind.

But when Miklósi took the study a step further, he spotted an intriguing difference between cats and dogs. This time, he and his colleagues created two puzzles: one solvable, the other impossible. In the solvable puzzle, the researchers placed food in a bowl and stuck it under a stool. Dogs and cats had to find the bowl and pull it out to eat. Both aced the test. Then the scientist rigged the exam. They again placed the bowl under a stool, but this time they tied it to the stool legs so that it could not be pulled out. The dogs pawed at the bowl for a few seconds and then gave up, gazing up at their owners as if asking for help. The cats, on the other hand, rarely looked at their owners; they just kept trying to get the food.

Now before you conclude that cats are dumber than dogs because they’re not smart enough to realize when a task is impossible, consider this: Dogs have lived with us for as many as 30,000 years—20,000 years longer than cats. More than any other animal on the planet, dogs are tuned in to the “human radio frequency”—the broadcast of our feelings and desires. Indeed, we may be the only station dogs listen to. Cats, on the other hand, can tune us in if they want to (that’s why they pass the pointing test as well as dogs), but they don’t hang on our every word like dogs do. They’re surfing other channels on the dial. And that’s ultimately what makes them so hard to study. Cats, as any owner knows, are highly intelligent beings. But to science, their minds may forever be a black box.

As another recent study showed, cats recognize our voices. They just don’t care.

Outside The “Consensus”

Notes from a climate-change “denier”:

Gradually I have found myself more impressed with the arguments of the climate change skeptics–the reviled “deniers”–than with the Michael Mann school of hockey stickology or the IPCC striptease in which it discards its pretences to “settled science” a glove at a time without ever getting down to bare truth.

…In my own field, anthropology, I have lived through the replacement of “consensus” on the idea that the makers of the so-called Clovis spear points, which go back 13,500 years, were the first Native Americans. The “Clovis First” theory always had doubters but it dominated from the 1930s until 1999, when archaeologists in large numbers accepted the evidence of older populations. Likewise, there was a long-established consensus that Neanderthal and modern Homo Sapiens did not successfully interbreed–though here too there were always some dissenters. We now know for a certainty (based on the successful sequencing of the Neanderthal genome) that our species did indeed mix, and modern Europeans carry a percent or two of Neanderthal genes.

In time, scientific controversies get resolved, often by the emergence of new kinds of evidence that no one originally imagined. Views that are maintained, to some degree, by a wall of artificial “consensus” die hard. That, of course, was one of the lessons of Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), which inaugurated the long vogue for the word “paradigm” to describe a broadly accepted theory. Kuhn’s work has often served as a warrant for those who see science as a social project amenable to political manipulation rather than an intellectual endeavor with strict standards of evidence and built-in mechanisms for correcting mistakes.

Thus when the “anthropogenic global warming” (AGW) folks insist that they command a “consensus” of climate scientists, they fully understand that they are engaged in a political act. They intend to summon the social and political dynamics that will create a “consensus,” by defining the skeptics as a disreputable minority that need not even be counted. It is a big gamble since a substantial number of the skeptics are themselves well-established and highly respected scientists, such as MIT’s Richard Lindzen, Princeton’s Will Happer, and Institute of Advanced Studies’ Freeman Dyson. But conjuring a new “paradigm” out of highly ambiguous data run through simulation computer models is tricky business and isn’t likely to produce a “consensus” all on its own.

No, it always needs help from demagogues with an agenda.

Climate Change

What we don’t know:

We shouldn’t worry, we should just accept that this will happen and we should adapt to it and regard it as a business opportunity.

Its arrogant to assume that climate will remain static.

The whole language of climate change is designed to confuse the public and policy makers

Bob Carter says the IPCC has accomplished the inversion of the null hypothesis, where the onus is now on disproving dangerous anthropogenic climate change

We should focus on protecting people from natural hazards, and not worrying about what is causing them

It makes sense to encourage alternative energy and see what happens.

Bob Carter closed with this: no scientist can tell you whether it will be warmer or cooler in 2020, so we should prepare for both.

Yes. We don’t know much more than we do know.

And as she notes, the people speaking sensibly are independent or retired, not those receiving government funding.

A Clash Of Sticks

“…were [Mann] to prevail in the upcoming Mann vs Steyn trial of the century at the DC Superior Court, it would be the biggest setback for the First Amendment in the half-century since New York Times vs Sullivan.”

A brief history of the case to date, from Mark Steyn.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court of Virginia upheld the university, Mann, and secrecy.

[Update a while later]

“Don’t start deleting those emails just yet, Mikey“:

One thing the order does is give the green light to the University of Virginia to crank up the incinerator for the biggest destruction of research material in a critical area of public policy – not to mention what my old colleague at the Telegraph in London, Christopher Booker, called the other day “the worst scientific scandal of our generation”. Before they grab the matches and gasoline, however, please note that my lawyers have requested a lot of the same material for Mann’s defamation suit against me. I’ll have more to say about this later today.

We’ll see.

More On The One-Way Discovery

Mark writes about the judge’s latest order:

…some climate alarmist was in a bit of hurry with his rewriting and those “seven other organizations” became “seven organizations”. But, whether seven or nine, they have all “proved Mann innocent”. In fact, there has only been one investigation of Michael E Mann – the one that was the subject of my original “defamatory” post; the joke investigation by Penn State set up by a now disgraced college president currently facing 30 years in the slammer for obstruction of justice. That’s the only investigation. Yet somewhere along the way Mann grasped that, as with his non-existent Nobel Prize, if he simply declared himself “investigated” and “exonerated” by multiple bodies on both sides of the Atlantic, most of the people in his Climate Bubble would never bother checking.

No comment.

Mann Suit Update

The judge has stayed discovery for everyone, including Mann against Steyn, because he doesn’t think there should be two separate discovery processes despite the fact that Mark has severed his legal relationship with the other defendants. The stay is in place until the appeals court makes a ruling either dismissing or allowing the trial(s) to move forward.

What a mess.

Why Do We Eat?

It’s generally not because we’re hungry.

I can generally go all day without eating, and often do. There’s a lot of evidence that fasting has some of the benefits of caloric restriction, in terms of life extension.

I’d note, though, that the article seems to subscribe to the caloric theory of weight gain and loss. It doesn’t say what “high-density” foods are, energetically speaking, but not all are created equal. Eating fat doesn’t make you fat.

One-Way Discovery Channel

Mark Steyn has an update on his court case:

On Saturday, I noted that Mann had yet to join me in filing an objection to National Review’s Motion to Stay Discovery. He did so today:

Defendant Mark Steyn opted not to appeal the denial of the motions to dismiss the amended complaint. Rather, Mr. Steyn has filed an answer and counterclaims and has expressed his intention to move forward with discovery, regardless of the fact that his co-defendants have opted to appeal.

Indeed, I have. So what’s Dr Mann’s position? Well, it’s a two-part response.

On the one hand, he’s in favor of his proceeding with discovery against me:

The fact that Mr. Steyn has not appealed the denial of the motions to dismiss counsels further against a discovery stay. Mr. Steyn, like Dr. Mann, has made clear his desire to have this Court resolve this lawsuit and to move forward with discovery immediately. As such, there is no reason for this Court to delay discovery further.

On the other hand, he’s totally opposed to my proceeding with discovery against him:

While Dr. Mann agrees with Mr. Steyn that discovery should move forward on Dr. Mann’s claims, discovery cannot move forward on Mr. Steyn’s counterclaims.

Oh, my. You do surprise me.

I am shocked, too, of course.

What Is A Scientist?

Some thoughts. I may see if there’s some interest at USA Today to run something in response.

[Update a while later]

You know, in rereading, and thinking about it, that lead is quite fascinating in it’s apparent implications:

Keith Baugues is not a scientist, but that didn’t stop him on a recent wintry day from expressing skepticism about global warming — something that is broadly accepted in the scientific community.

Let’s leave aside for a moment the issue of whether or not Baugues actually is a scientist. Should we infer from this that only scientists are allowed to express skepticism about global warming? Or that “true” scientists aren’t skeptics, and therefore no one can be? Or what?

Rethinking Fat

Even NPR is starting to figure it out.

But note, that, as with climate “science,” dissenters have trouble getting published when they have actual science in opposition to the “settled” science in nutrition:

“Fat was really the villain,” says Walter Willett, who is chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. And, by default, people “had to load up on carbohydrates.”

But, by the mid-1990s, Willett says, there were already signs that the high-carb, low-fat approach might not lead to fewer heart attacks and strokes. He had a long-term study underway that was aimed at evaluating the effects of diet and lifestyle on health.

“We were finding that if people seemed to replace saturated fat — the kind of fat found in cheese, eggs, meat, butter — with carbohydrate, there was no reduction in heart disease,” Willett says.

Willett submitted his data to a top medical journal, but he says the editors would not publish his findings. His paper was turned down.

“There was a lot of resistance to anything that would question the low-fat guidelines,” Willett says, especially the guidelines on saturated fat.

Willett’s paper was eventually published by a British medical journal, the BMJ, in 1996.

And that was almost twenty years ago, and the junk-science FDA guidelines that probably killed my father in the seventies remain pretty much in place.

Asteroid Strikes

New sensor data indicates that they’re from three to ten times more common than previously thought:

“The fact that none of these asteroid impacts shown in the video was detected in advance is proof that the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a ‘city-killer’-sized asteroid is blind luck.”

…The Sentinel Infrared Space Telescope Mission is currently due for launch in mid-2018, with an estimated mission cost of $400 million.

But we spend billions in trying to reduce the amount of plant food in the atmosphere.

“The Debate Is Over”

The syndrome seems to be spreading:

Let’s call it “the debate is over” syndrome, referring to a term used most often in relationship with climate change but also by President Barack Obama last week in reference to what remains his contentious, and theoretically reformable, health care plan. Ironically, this shift to certainty now comes increasingly from what passes for the Left in America.
These are the same people who historically have identified themselves with open-mindedness and the defense of free speech, while conservatives, with some justification, were associated more often with such traits as criminalizing unpopular views – as seen in the 1950s McCarthy era – and embracing canonical bans on all sorts of personal behavior, a tendency still more evident than necessary among some socially minded conservatives.

But when it comes to authoritarian expression of “true” beliefs, it’s the progressive Left that increasingly seeks to impose orthodoxy. In this rising intellectual order, those who dissent on everything from climate change, the causes of poverty and the definition of marriage, to opposition to abortion are increasingly marginalized and, in some cases, as in the Steyn trial, legally attacked.

When people say “the debate is over,” it generally really means they’re losing the debate.

[Update a few minutes later]

Thank goodness we are nothing like intolerant societies that are ruled by mobs. We have evolved.”

[Update a couple minutes later]

Begun, the Cold Civil War has.”

Yes, the culture was has been raging for a long time, except people didn’t notice it because it seemed to take place on the edges or in fringe settings. All the Eich affair did was make it obvious.

Ironically many people, even in the homosexual community, don’t want this culture war and are dismayed by the Eich witchunt. They don’t want it not only because … but I’ll get to that in a moment … especially since the Eich affair is not about gay marriage, except incidentally, any more than the Summers affair was about racism or feminism; or that Steyn’s suit has anything to do with warmism or denialism or the gunowners map was about school safety; or still less that the 2013 IRS persecution of Tea Party groups was to do with Citizen’s United.

The removal of Eich is about fascism. It’s about one group of people forcing everyone else to bow to their hat on a pole; it s about book burning, compelling obeisance to, as Jame Surowiecki put it, “a universal ideology” in a manner so bald that even those who might gain politically in the short term from it are horrified by its crudity.

Perceptive gays understand now, if they hadn’t noticed before, that a whole mechanism now exists for persecuting people whose views are deemed unacceptable. Today it is directed against Eich; once it was directed against Summers; on other occasions it was employed against Clarence Thomas. But sooner or later, probably sooner, they understand it will be directed against them — or us — or someone. And if it can get a corporate CEO who is widely regarded as the father of Javascript it can get pretty darned anyone.

They’ve sown the wind.

Scientists Warn NASA

Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn what scientists have to say about human spaceflight policy. It drives me crazy that we continue to operate under the delusion that NASA sends humans into space for the purpose of science, and that scientists have anything useful to say about the subject. Someone should write a book about that. Oh, wait.

[Update a few minutes later]

Here’s a better report on the topic.

Steve Goddard Explains

Why I do this”:

I have been an active environmentalist for almost my entire life. At age 16 I testified before a Congressional hearing in support of a proposed wilderness area in Utah. I worked to get the Clean Air Act passed, and worked for two summers as a wilderness ranger in New Mexico. I do all of my local transport and shopping by bicycle, and buy almost exclusively organic and free range food.

The reason I blog is because catastrophic global warming is junk science, used by unscrupulous people for unscrupulous political and financial purposes. It keeps environmentalists from doing anything useful, and provides progressives an excuse to push toward totalitarianism.

The global warming scam needs to be stopped. It has spiraled completely out of control, and no longer has any pretense of science behind the lies.

Pretty much, yeah.