Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Be the party of good science

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  • James Butler,

    "Why the NZ Government needs to embrace Natural Healthcare into the Health System"

    (disclaimer - Green Party member)

    Oh god... what pains me most here is the hijacking of the word "Nature". If "Nature" is the system of intrinsic laws which governs the universe, then surely a dose of antibiotics when you have an infection, or a course of chemo when you have cancer, is by definition more "natural" than Reiki or Holistic Pulsing, because it is derived from the best of our imperfect understanding of said natural laws. What's intrinsically "natural" about imaginary made-up bullshit?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    The only reason this occurs is because of the lack of will and talent displayed by journalists. When journalists only want a one sentence answer then complex issues can never be explained. When interviewers interrupt and derail experts who are trying to explain things then the public never even has the chance.

    That is true, but the cause is more systematic. New Zealand has one of the most deregulated media environments in the world, which has resulted an effective duopoly across every media, and a large number of regional monopolies.

    The exception is radio, which is perhaps the healthiest, and still has a public institution.

    Why is poetry so awful these days?
    I only ask because
    I was listening to Jenny Bornholdt on
    Nine to Noon and thought to myself
    "This is crap."

    Paul advises that they are in decline, however.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2078 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    You can make the same argument about any form of consumer regulation: unsafe food, unsafe cars, products that do not work as advertised, rip-off loans. And the answer is that not everyone does serious due-dilligence whenever they buy a lightbulb (or a car, or a happy meal, or a heater), and that in the absence of regulation some will inevitably be ripped-off.

    Assuming both CFLs and incandescent to be safe for usage in the home, the only relevent factors are price and lifetime costs. That choice is quite simple.

    And to turn your argument back on you, if its a choice you think no sane person would ever make anyway, why are you so upset to lose it?

    This is about respect, does the government respect our ability to make simple decisions and does the government earn our respect by making complex decisions?

    The government exists to perform tasks of importance and make hard decisions. There are quite a few problems existant that are more complex than choosing lightbulbs - like the appropriate national debt, balance of payments, youth suicide, homelessness, waiting lists, economic growth, Afghanistan, unemployment, Fiji, immigration, over burdened prisons or global warming - to which I'd like to see the government focus some energy.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Well, no. I'd even accept: they are willing to let inequality increase in exchange for increased economic growth, etc. But `happy for inequality to increase'? Yeah. No.

    And yet, I see a spectacular lack of hand-wringing from them. Let alone any effort to explain the compromise and why they made it. You know - treating us like adult citizens whose consent must be sought, rather than morons to be spun to.

    (Which neatly wraps back onto an earlier part of the thread: why doesn't Labour fight its corner? Why don't they advocate for their beliefs? Why are they so bloody timid? Are they that embarassed about their views? Are they that scared of saying anything?)

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1591 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    it does seem to imply a kind of top-down, shadowy cabal, kind of deliberate manipulation.

    God no. Didn't mean to imply that. It isn't a shadowy cabal just accountants maximising the amount of money made in the media. that it no longer meets the wants of the public is irrelevant to them so long as they can sell the product.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3108 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    if they really gave a shit, they'd do a lot more. They don't, therefore they don't - classic modus ponnens.

    No, that's modus tollens. Modus ponens is "a, therefore b. a. Therefore, b." Modus tollens is "a, therefore b. Not b. Therefore, not a."

    I knew the philosophy degree would come in useful one day.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 707 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    No, that's modus tollens. Modus ponens is "a, therefore b. a. Therefore, b." Modus tollens is "a, therefore b. Not b. Therefore, not a."

    D'oh! Shows how much I've forgotten over the years.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1591 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Let alone any effort to explain the compromise and why they made it.

    You are kidding right? If I had a penny every time some Labour type has said `now we support that in principle but the money just isn't there' then I'd be able to fund half these damn programs.

    The problem with the Parliamentary Labour Party isn't that they want bad things; it's that they are going about good things the wrong way.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1251 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Let alone any effort to explain the compromise and why they made it. You know - treating us like adult citizens whose consent must be sought, rather than morons to be spun to.

    To follow on from this: when the Greens compromise - on the Prisoners and Victims Claims Act, on the ETS, on cooperating with National - they have the decency to a) say they are doing it; and b) tell us why and what they hope to gain (and what they expect to lose) by doing so. In short, they treat us like adults. It would be nice if the leading party of the left did the same.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1591 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    <quote>You are kidding right? If I had a penny every time some Labour type has said `now we support that in principle but the money just isn't there' then I'd be able to fund half these damn programs.</quote.

    But they don't talk about the big compromise, why the money isn't there: their continued commitment to NeoLiberal economic policies.

    Why not? Because people might not like it. So they lie to us instead.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1591 posts Report Reply

  • Caleb D'Anvers,

    If you want to attack consumerism, fine, be my guest. But individualism is perfectly compatible with being on the left.

    So, um, what is it we're disagreeing about so vehemently, again?

    East Greenwich • Since Mar 2008 • 411 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    (Which neatly wraps back onto an earlier part of the thread: why doesn't Labour fight its corner? Why don't they advocate for their beliefs? Why are they so bloody timid? Are they that embarassed about their views? Are they that scared of saying anything?)

    Do they have any beliefs? Is there any difference between the 2 major parties? Will, 6 or 9 years from now, there be a copy + paste of this thread over on Kiwiblog?

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    There are quite a few problems existant that are more complex than choosing lightbulbs - like the appropriate national debt, balance of payments, youth suicide, homelessness, waiting lists, economic growth, Afghanistan, unemployment, Fiji, immigration, over burdened prisons or global warming - to which I'd like to see the government focus some energy.

    And this is where the problem is. The light bulb and home water systems minimum standards were a response to climate change, and there is at least some kind of popular mandate for measures to address climate change. Energy efficiency is also about how much money you have left in your pocket at the end of the year. Burning less natural gas for electricity every year would also help our balance of payments. Labour completely botched their explanations, and the idiots took full advantage of it.

    They were also complementary to minimum standards* in other consumer products, there because market failure means that people choose products that impose significant externalities, and don't deliver to people's stated expectations. Markets can fail to deliver products adequately, despite demand, because of barriers to access. Regulation can, when used effectively, remove those barriers to access.

    *If anyone says ban, I'll gently correct them.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2078 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    So, in other words, they disagree with you, so they are lying nasty people? Yeh.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1251 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Hilary, that'd be because in the EU it's possible to carry out some fairly significant degree of "social engineering" without the media and the public screaming and ranting about it.

    Also, the European Commission isn't democratically elected. No, really.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7315 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    And the completely frustrating thing? Mandating minimum standards are by far the most cost effective measures for combatting climate change. They actually save large amounts of money.

    This very neat graphic demonstrates where they stand

    The decision of the New Zealand Government today to not regulate 170g minimum emissions standards for passenger vehicles is just beyond belief.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2078 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The exception is radio, which is perhaps the healthiest, and still has a public institution.

    Hardly. Commercial radio in NZ is a voracious duopoly. The media sector with the most -- and the most independent -- players is the magazine market.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17940 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Hardly. Commercial radio in NZ is a voracious duopoly.

    You are absolutely right about the ownership of commercial radio.

    I was thinking about the wide range of non-commercial stations. There's healthy diversification even in some very small submarkets. I've heard the anecdote that Auckland has more radio stations per capita than any other city of comparable size, and while I don't know if it's true, it wouldn't surprise me.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2078 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    The light bulb and home water systems minimum standards were a response to climate change, and there is at least some kind of popular mandate for measures to address climate change.

    Yes, the measures were a small and meaningless response to climate change.

    They were also complementary to minimum standards* in other consumer products, there because market failure means that people choose products that impose significant externalities, and don't deliver to people's stated expectations. Markets can fail to deliver products adequately, despite demand, because of barriers to access. Regulation can, when used effectively, remove those barriers to access.

    CFL sales were increasing very rapidly, in fact CFLs are one of the great product successes of the past decade. They are available nationwide with no barrier to access apart from purchase price (which this never addressed). There was no market failure and the legislation lowered no barriers.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    What's intrinsically "natural" about imaginary made-up bullshit?

    Call it another modus tollens (thank you Jack) - Science = Unnatural, imaginary made-up bullshit = Not Science, therefore Not Unnatural. Science is logical and also provable, but stuff like homeopathy feels right. It's one of the most infuriating things about humanity at large.

    Not that I object to anyone paying for the placebo effect, but given the scorn lavished on the medical system by "alternative" practitioners - which can often lead to people not getting healthcare they actually need - it can be outright dangerous.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2087 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    CFL sales were increasing very rapidly, in fact CFLs are one of the great product successes of the past decade.

    Jesus H. Christ, Angus, do you even read your own links?

    From your link:

    A large part of the increase in CFL sales has been due to government action. In 2007, Aus tralia became the first country to ban the sale of incandescent bulbs, and sales there will be phased out entirely by 2009.14 The European Union, Ireland, and Canada have since announced plans to ban incandescent bulbs. The United States has also passed legislation increasing the efficiency standard required for lightbulbs, which will effectively phase out incandes cents. In total, more than 40 countries have announced plans to follow suit.

    But not us. Because although everywhere else in the world is adopting efficiency standards in this area, and it's driving the new market in CFL bulbs, our government shouldn't do it because it might hurt your feelings ...

    (OTOH, when you link to something that blows your own argument out of the water, it does make for easy rebuttals ...)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17940 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    What does it say about a government that thinks it needs to take such an easy choice out of the hands of ordinary New Zealanders? Do they think we are stupid?

    There's a straw man argument which would only make sense if everyone had rushed out and bought power-saving lightbulbs, which they clearly haven't.

    Old heat producing lightbulbs are a "freedom of choice to beat yourself about the head" argument.

    But... we should be, and are, free to do dangerous things to ourselves. I'm weary of resorting to "for your own good" arguments. That isn't a reason to restrict our choices.

    Arguments against unrestricted use/access to economic resources (by which I mean scarce resources, in the strict economic sense) can be made on grounds that don't require a 'society knows best' approach. If purchasing a certain kind of bulb, or polluting the environment, or whatever, affects others then it isn't just about personal liberty.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1122 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Uptake was slow, and there were two main reasons. 1) People were poorly informed about their benefit, safety and functionality. 2) Price signals weren't transparent – you can't tell how much of your power bill was for your lightbulbs, and how much was for your dryer. So even if your incandescent lightbulb wasted $118 more power, you'd never know, since the price signals weren't clear to the end user. That's market failure.

    I was going to reply, but I found that Keith Ng's acidic takedown of this line of argument is better than I could do

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2078 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen,

    If I had a buck for every person who's told me that CFLs would save me money, I could probably afford to get my house re-wired. Which seems to be the requirement if I want CFLs to last more than a month.

    This household is nowhere near breaking even, let alone saving $500. But I don't blame Phil Goff. Not when I can blame the Business that built my house, the Business that made the CFLs' and the Business that sold them to me. Capitalist bastards one and all, right RB? ;-)

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 193 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    My populace's what?<quote>

    Here

    <quote>But it's not even working for Obama particularly well. He's trying to Sinatra his way to health care reform because he knows he can't talk facts. People don't give a shit. Information no longer as any value if most people watch 4-5hrs of bad TV a day and think Close Up is the news.

    Which Close Up TV programme were you referring to?
    The US one doesnt seem to exist.
    Or you just think people in general dont give a FF?
    Regardless of country

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1149 posts Report Reply

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