Category Archives: Political Commentary

Kurt Schlichter

My neighbor of a few blocks away is whining about his victimhood:

I am also victimized for my unpaganhood, and I am constantly pressured to conform and accept weird weather religions and the theological musings of internet hipsters who think the idea of Christian grace is some sort of supernatural point system where you get into heaven for accomplishing a set number of good deeds. I reject these attempts to subjugate me to the dominant discourse, just as I reject the liberal Jesusplaining that seeks to steal my savior and turn him into some sort of socialist hippie, a Bernie Sanders in a robe who thinks the only sin is generating too big of a carbon footprint.

And then there is the systemic hate for my rigidly male monosexual identification and my pronounced pro-chick agenda. Too often those of you who are genderfluid deny the identity of those of us who are gendersolid.

Same.

SLS/Orion

It’s official; it’s slipped into 2019. Just put it out of its (and our) misery.

[Update a couple minutes later]

[Update a few minutes later]

And in related news, the space-suit situation is as screwed up as ever. I was looking into thie problem 35 years ago for military man-in-space at the Aerospace Corporation, and we still don’t have a usable suit that doesn’t require pre-breathing.

[Update early afternoon]

A reminder, from the comments at the Berger piece:

This rocket is a colossal waste of NASA’s limited resources and valuable expertise. They are building it entirely at the micro-management of the Senate to make sure that certain districts get the jobs. Its going to end up costing around $2 billion per flight, has zero reuse built in, and this first model with the 70mt capacity and interim upper stage will only fly ONCE. Right now we have 3 US heavy/super heavy lift rockets in development: Falcon Heavy, Vulcan, and New Glenn. They are each a fraction of the cost per kg and they are all incorporating reusability and are all going to be ready to fly astronauts before this one does.

Yup. Well, maybe not Vulcan. That one’s funding constrained.

Gavin Schmidt

He attempts to discredit Judith Curry, and you’ll never guess what happens next!

There is one wonderful thing about Gavin’s argument, and one even more wonderful thing.

The wonderful thing is that he is arguing that Dr. Curry is wrong about the models being tuned to the actual data during the period because the models are so wrong (!).

The models were not tuned to consistency with the period of interest as shown by the fact that – the models are not consistent with the period of interest. Gavin points out that the models range all over the map, when you look at the 5% – 95% range of trends. He’s right, the models do not cluster tightly around the observations, and they should, if they were modeling the climate well.

Here’s the even more wonderful thing. If you read the relevant portions of the IPCC reports, looking for the comparison of observations to model projections, each is a masterpiece of obfuscation on this same point. You never see a clean, clear, understandable presentation of the models-to-actuals comparison. But look at those histograms above, direct from the hand of Gavin. It’s the clearest presentation I’ve ever run across that the models run hot. Thank you, Gavin.

Yes, thank you.

[Update a while later]

Semi-related: Chelsea HubbellClinton tweets about science, and you’ll never guess what happened next!

Yesterday’s Senate Space Hearing

Bob Zimmerman has a roundup of links, and some thoughts:

Cruz’s effort here appears incredibly bi-partisan. The only other Senate attendees to the hearing were Democrats, with the former and new ranking leaders of the subcommittee from the Democratic Party, Bill Nelson (R-Florida) and Ed Markey (R-Massachusetts), participating eagerly and without rancor. They were both there for the entire hearing, and were clearly being influenced not only by Cruz’s remarks but by the testimony of the witnesses. That no other Republican attended this hearing was I think not because they were boycotting Cruz (several fellow committee members, such as Mike Lee (R-Utah), are strong conservative allies) but because Cruz does not need to convince them to support his position. He was working here to bring the Democrats to his side, and it appeared that he was having some success.

Most important of all, however, were the repeated references to the Outer Space Treaty by Cruz and others. That Cruz noted that maybe it is outdated and needs revision did not surprise me. What was significant, and not captured by the stories above, was his reference to the idea of incorporating the American concept of homesteading in that revision. Even more significant was Bill Nelson’s hearty endorsement of the idea, noting that his own family had obtained land through homesteading in the early 20th century, a piece of land that just happened to be located near one end of the space shuttle runway at the Kennedy Space Center.

While these senators might have been influenced by my op-ed in The Federalist last week, I think it much more likely that they have been, like me, considering this issue themselves, and that I more likely sensed the wave coming from many different places, and caught it with my op-ed at just the right time.

If there’s any administration that could take action on the OST, it’s this one.

Bill Nye

Enough with the “extra” children already. I don’t think he has any self awareness of what a totalitarian he is.

[Update Thursday morning]

The bullies of climate change:

“It should trouble everyone in the scientific community that the primary response of its leading voices when they encounter a voice they don’t like is to try to get that person fired from their job. That is doesn’t trouble anyone very much says something,” wrote Roger Pielke, Jr. in a blog post this month. Pielke is a scientist who concluded a decade ago that climate change was not contributing to more extreme weather events such as hurricanes and floods, a finding that was eventually supported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

By exposing this flaw in climate science, Pielke has since been targeted by powerful climate interests determined to destroy his career and reputation. He has been called a climate denier, even though he believes human activity is causing climate change and he supports a carbon tax. President Obama’s top science adviser, John Holdren, wrote a lengthy missive against Pielke, which prompted one Democratic congressman to call for an investigation into Pielke’s research (he is a professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder). The coercion was so great that Pielke left the field of climate science a few years ago.

He’s back in the fray now, after some climate bullies, including Mann, who is suing National Review for alleged defamation, attacked Pielke for his testimony on Capitol Hill last month on climate science. Pielke will start posting a monthly blog about climate issues, mostly to fight back against the campaign of intimidation by climate activists and the complicity of the scientific establishment. By exposing this flaw in climate science, Pielke has since been targeted by powerful climate interests determined to destroy his career and reputation.

“The science community not only allows this bullying, they applaud it. And the power brokers endorse it. There are no ordinary checks and balances in the profession,” Pielke told me. “There is a view among climate activists that if they can get everyone to believe the same thing, then the right policies will take place. It gives these people political standing.”

And that is what most terrifies the climate tribe: the loss of political power and policymaking influence, as well as the government funding that goes with it. In a recent interview, Steven Koonin, a former undersecretary in Obama’s Energy Department and now the director of NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress, said scientists are fearful of reprisals if they hold a different view of climate change: “If you get scientists in a room together, it’s a vibrant, alive science. But somehow that gets muted, if not suppressed, when you get out into the policy-making discussions,” Koonin said. “It’s very difficult to get into the club, so to speak, if you’re a contrarian. You might see your money cut off, but even more significantly, you’ll see opprobrium from your peers. If you speak up, you can be in big trouble.”

Or even threatened with violence. After the March for Science this past Saturday, shots were fired at the office of John Christy, a climate scientist at the University of Alabama, Hunstville, and a well-known climate-change skeptic. Christy’s colleague, Roy Spencer, reported the shooting on social media on Monday: “When some people cannot argue facts, they resort to violence to get their way. Maybe the ‘March for Science’ should have been called the ‘March to Silence.’”

Maybe.

[Mid-morning update]

Bill Nye, the Scientism Guy:

The new show (supposedly aimed at adults but still written at a grade-school level) uses occasional references to science to introduce simple political advocacy, broken up by bad jokes and interludes of actual screaming. This isn’t science but scientism, the invocation of science in areas where there are legitimate differences of values. “See, you, me we’re in this together,” Nye tells his audience at the outset of the first episode. “If we think together and work together, good things are gonna happen.” This might be a tempting thought to some — “Come, join our mob, happiness will ensue!” But groupthink isn’t science.

No, not it’s not.

[Late-morning update]

Bill Nye’s view of humanity is repulsive. Why yes, yes it is:

“Here’s a provocative thought,” Rieder says. “Maybe we should protect our kids by not having them.” This is provocative in the way a stoner wondering why airplanes don’t run on hemp is provocative. That’s because the entire case for capping the number of children rests on assumptions entirely devoid of scientific or historical basis.

Mindless Eating

and mindless research:

Problems with p-hacking are by no means exclusive to Wansink. Many scientists receive only cursory training in statistics, and even that training is sometimes dubious. This is disconcerting, because statistics provide the backbone of pretty much any research looking at humans, as well as a lot of research that doesn’t. If a researcher is trying to tell whether changing something (like the story someone reads in a psychology experiment, or the drug someone takes in a pharmaceutical trial) causes different outcomes, they need statistics. If they want to detect a difference between groups, they need statistics. And if they want to tease out whether one thing could cause another, they need statistics.

The replication crisis in psychology has been drawing attention to this and other problems in the field. But problems with statistics extends far beyond just psychology, and the conversation about open science hasn’t reached everyone yet. Nicholas Brown, one of the researchers scrutinizing Wansink’s research output, told Ars that “people who work in fields that are kind of on the periphery of social psychology, like sports psychology, business studies, consumer psychology… have told me that most of their colleagues aren’t even aware there’s a problem yet.”

I think the hockey stick episode shows that this is a problem with climate research as well.

The point of peer review has always been for fellow scientists to judge whether a paper is of reasonable quality; reviewers aren’t expected to perform an independent analysis of the data.

“Historically, we have not asked peer reviewers to check the statistics,” Brown says. “Perhaps if they were [expected to], they’d be asking for the data set more often.” In fact, without open data—something that’s historically been hit-or-miss—it would be impossible for peer reviewers to validate any numbers.

Peer review is often taken to be a seal of approval on research, but it’s actually more like a small or large quality boost, depending on the reviewers and scientific journal in question. “In general, it still has a good influence on the quality of the literature,” van der Zee said to Ars. But “it’s a wildly human process, and it is extremely capricious,” Heathers points out.

There’s also the question of what’s actually feasible for people. Peer review is unpaid work, Kirschner emphasizes, usually done by researchers on top of their existing heavy workloads, often outside of work hours. That often makes devoting the time and effort needed to catch dodgy statistics impossible. But Heathers and van der Zee both point to a possible generational difference: with better tools and a new wave of scientists who aren’t being asked to change long-held habits, better peer reviews could conceivably start to emerge. Although if change is going to happen, it’s going to be slow; as Heathers points out, “academia can be glacial.”

“Peer review” is worse than useless at this point, I think. And it’s often wielded as a cudgel against dissidents of the climate religion.