Category Archives: Mathematics

High Blood Pressure

This looks interesting, but I’d like to see some numbers. Like, how much does it cost, and what kind of reductions are they seeing? I often see studies that amuse me, as though a barely-statisrically-significant 10% risk reduction for some expensive drug with unpleasant side effects is actually worth it.

And is it a permanent solution, or does it require periodic retreatment? Also, are there side effects (like insufficient blood flow to the brain on suddenly standing up)?

The Big One

What will happen to Seattle and Portland when it hits?

Flick your right fingers outward, forcefully, so that your hand flattens back down again. When the next very big earthquake hits, the northwest edge of the continent, from California to Canada and the continental shelf to the Cascades, will drop by as much as six feet and rebound thirty to a hundred feet to the west—losing, within minutes, all the elevation and compression it has gained over centuries. Some of that shift will take place beneath the ocean, displacing a colossal quantity of seawater. (Watch what your fingertips do when you flatten your hand.) The water will surge upward into a huge hill, then promptly collapse. One side will rush west, toward Japan. The other side will rush east, in a seven-hundred-mile liquid wall that will reach the Northwest coast, on average, fifteen minutes after the earthquake begins. By the time the shaking has ceased and the tsunami has receded, the region will be unrecognizable. Kenneth Murphy, who directs FEMA’s Region X, the division responsible for Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska, says, “Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.”

…we now know that the Pacific Northwest has experienced forty-one subduction-zone earthquakes in the past ten thousand years. If you divide ten thousand by forty-one, you get two hundred and forty-three, which is Cascadia’s recurrence interval: the average amount of time that elapses between earthquakes. That timespan is dangerous both because it is too long—long enough for us to unwittingly build an entire civilization on top of our continent’s worst fault line—and because it is not long enough. Counting from the earthquake of 1700, we are now three hundred and fifteen years into a two-hundred-and-forty-three-year cycle.

As she notes, the only question is when, not if. I hope it’s not any time soon; I’ll lose a lot of friends.

[Update a few minutes later]

This is a key point:

On the face of it, earthquakes seem to present us with problems of space: the way we live along fault lines, in brick buildings, in homes made valuable by their proximity to the sea. But, covertly, they also present us with problems of time. The earth is 4.5 billion years old, but we are a young species, relatively speaking, with an average individual allotment of three score years and ten. The brevity of our lives breeds a kind of temporal parochialism—an ignorance of or an indifference to those planetary gears which turn more slowly than our own.

This is also why it’s easy to persuade people that extreme weather events aren’t normal, and can be attributed to “climate change.” People have either not experienced, or don’t recall similar ones from the past, when the CO2 levels were lower.

Bernie Sanders

I have to say, I admire his honesty:

There are very few unspoken rules among major-party candidates for president, and Bernie Sanders is breaking one of them. He’s saying that America’s leaders shouldn’t worry so much about economic growth if that growth serves to enrich only the wealthiest Americans.

“Our economic goals have to be redistributing a significant amount of [wealth] back from the top 1 percent,” Sanders said in a recent interview, even if that redistribution slows the economy overall.

“Unchecked growth – especially when 99 percent of all new income goes to the top 1 percent – is absurd,” he said. “Where we’ve got to move is not growth for the sake of growth, but we’ve got to move to a society that provides a high quality of life for all of our people. In other words, if people have health care as a right, as do the people of every other major country, then there’s less worry about growth. If people have educational opportunity and their kids can go to college and they have child care, then there’s less worry about growth for the sake of growth.”

Socialists don’t understand that in order for wealth to be redistributed, it has to be created.

How To Stop A Centralized Bureaucracy


The only thing that will upend the carefully crafted apple cart the political bosses have set up is math. The math that Mark talks about in the Soundcloud clip I posted is rapidly becoming a reality in states like Illinois. The answer from Democratic politicians has been to look for ways to increase taxes and fees to keep the shell game going. None of them have cut the size and scope of government. None of them have deregulated anything to allow more choice and freedom for people. Interestingly, the United States federal budget allocates 62% of all spending to entitlements, and the number will rise dramatically with Obamacare. It’s totally unsustainable but the crony capitalists in Washington don’t care about it. They’ll be fine.

They were told there would be no math.


Is it ever “settled”?

As things stand today, Darwin’s notion of evolution, especially when we extend it with the things we’ve learned in the intervening 160 or so years, has stood up very well to attempts to falsify it.

That’s what science as a process really is: that process of observing, proposing explanations, and then trying to knock those explanations down. Eventually, you have only a few explanations left standing: our best explanations for what we observe in the real world. It’s that collection of best explanations that we call “science.”

What isn’t science is (e.g.) climate models, particularly when they can’t even hindcast.

“Settled science” is a newspeak phrase that the Left has come up with to impose their policy preferences on us.

[Update a few minutes later]

Why biology students have misconceptions about science.

I think there’s more of a crisis in science education (as with all education) than most people realize.

Birds Of A Feather

The Wisconsin thug who helped target Scott Walker and his associates was close friends with Lois Lerner:

After Walker’s victory in a recall election, Lerner’s long time friend Kennedy helped Milwaukee County prosecutors conduct an onerous, several-year investigation into Walker’s political allies, complete with secret subpoenas for phone, text message and email records and armed, middle of the night raids on Walker associates’ homes.

I know! I’m shocked, too!

Nobel-Prize Land

Not all is well there. They have “deniers” in their midst:

Giaever was one of President Obama’s key scientific supporters in 2008 when he joined over 70 Nobel Science Laureates in endorsing Obama in an October 29, 2008 open letter. Giaever signed his name to the letter which read in part: “The country urgently needs a visionary leader…We are convinced that Senator Barack Obama is such a leader, and we urge you to join us in supporting him.”

But seven years after signing the letter, Giaever now mocks President Obama for warning that “no challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change”. Giaever called it a “ridiculous statement.”

“That is what he said. That is a ridiculous statement,” Giaever explained.

“I say this to Obama: Excuse me, Mr. President, but you’re wrong. Dead wrong,” Giaever said. (Watch Giaever’s full 30-minute July 1 speech here.)

“How can he say that? I think Obama is a clever person, but he gets bad advice. Global warming is all wet,” he added.

“Obama said last year that 2014 is hottest year ever. But it’s not true. It’s not the hottest,” Giaever noted. [Note: Other scientists have reversed themselves on climate change. See: Politically Left Scientist Dissents – Calls President Obama ‘delusional’ on global warming]
The Nobel physicist questioned the basis for rising carbon dioxide fears.

“When you have a theory and the theory does not agree with the experiment then you have to cut out the theory. You were wrong with the theory,” Giaever explained.

Giaever said his climate research was eye opening. “I was horrified by what I found” after researching the issue in 2012, he noted.

“Global warming really has become a new religion. Because you cannot discuss it. It’s not proper. It is like the Catholic Church.”

You don’t say.

He’s wrong, though. There’s little evidence that Barack Obama is a “clever man.”

Science, Uncertainty And Advocacy

Judith Curry is attending an interesting conference in the UK, and has some formal comments:

Some people regard any engagement of a scientist with the policy process as advocacy – I disagree. The way I look at it is that advocacy involves forceful persuasion, which is consistent with the legal definition of advocacy.

In the code of ethics for lawyers, where forceful persuasion is part of their job description, they are ethically bound only not to state something that they know to be false. Lawyers are under no compunction to introduce evidence that hurts their case – that’s the other side’s job.

Unlike lawyers, scientists are supposed to search for truth, and scientific norms encourage disclosure of sources and magnitude of uncertainty. Now if you are a scientist advocating for a specific issue, uncertainty will get in the way of your forceful persuasion.

In principle, scientists can ethically and effectively advocate for an issue, provided that their statements are honest and they disclose uncertainties. In practice, too many scientists, and worse yet professional societies, are conducting their advocacy for emissions reductions in a manner that is not responsible in context of the norms of science.

Much of climate “science” abandoned science years ago, going back to Schneider.