Hard News by Russell Brown

Read Post

Hard News: Shonky scepticism

167 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 7 Newer→ Last

  • Don Christie,

    But does being allergic to Marxist analysis make me an anti-intellectual?

    Maybe. Do you break out in a rash when close to Stephen Franks?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Riddley Walker,

    Looks like Durkin went to the Coddington Memorial School of Pretend Statistics.
    And how dare he use the title Against Nature for his neocon rubbish, Huysmans' original novel from which he stole the title is a masterpiece of subtlety and subversion of conservative dogma. Seems Channel 4 is inviting a lot of flak for its tinpottism lately.

    AKL • Since Feb 2007 • 890 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Ackroyd,

    DOH, I thought Tom was just being all Paul Holmesey...

    *looks around, points at self*
    who, me?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 159 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Do you break out in a rash when close to Stephen Franks?

    That give me an idea - perhaps an elimatination diet, Russell? I mean, is it the dialectic, the poststructuralism ...

    I would suggest you started by avoiding sophistry, but they put that stuff in everything these days.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    Sophisting is against nature...

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    "Darwinian thinking as it applies to human nature should be brought to bear on social policy"

    How would Darwinian thinking be brought to bear on social policy? Eg, it seems obvious that stepfathers would have an in-built disposition to improve their reproductive success and murder their stepchildren having impregnated their new partner - what policy decisions might we make on that basis?

    Your statement has raised my eyebrows so far I think I've strained a muscle in my forehead.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3121 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Ackroyd,

    That give me an idea - perhaps an elimatination diet, Russell? I mean, is it the dialectic, the poststructuralism ...

    I'm pomo intolerant. Gives me irritable brain syndrome.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 159 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Oh and journalists and statistics... so tragic. It might be amplified by the way it can sometimes only takes one person in a medium sized chain. For example, if the guy who decides what's newsworthy has no grasp of statistical significance, he probably won't be told.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Sophisting is against nature...

    You'd be amazed what you can find on the internet, though.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Ackroyd,

    I merely meant to suggest that a move from "blank-slate" to "informed by science not sociological wishful thinking" philosophy in the formulation of social policy might be seen as a Good Thing. By me, for instance.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 159 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    I'm not sure how fortunate the choice [Singer's] of 'Darwinian' as an adjective was. As in, I actually don't know because I haven't read the book.

    For me, 'Darwinian' in the context just made me think of some evolutionary psychology which fits more into the 'sociological wishful thinking' (or at least unfalsifiable speculation) camp.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Hi Andrew

    I should probably read to the bottom of the thread to see if any others have replied but I can't help myself.

    What you've forgotten is turbulence.

    Yes CO2 is heavier that Nitrogen or oxygen the major components of the atmosphere, so yes if air is completely undisturbed the CO2 will settle to the bottom.

    BUT even the heat at room temperature creates enough movement to completely mix the CO2 into the air. So if you had a jar of CO2 N2 and O2 in layers, then after a period of time they would become thoroughly mixed.

    In the atmosphere the wind currents alone create so much mixing that it simply isn't possible for the "heavy" CO2 to settle.

    cheers
    Bart

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4449 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Tony wrote

    I think maybe scientists need to do a better job explaining to the general public why they truly do believe ...

    Heh As someone involved in the GE debate I can say fairly confidently that communication is only part of the answer. Some folks don't want to listen to scientists, some folks think they aren't smart enough to listen to scientists (generaly not true) and some scientists struggle to find the words to communicate ideas.

    That latter isn't surprising since some of the ideas have required many years of study for the scientists to understand so to expect an easy description to a lay person is a tough ask. That's nothing to do with intelligence but simply to do with the large amount specialist knowledge required to understand some subjects.

    Finally how do us scientists get the chance to communicate? The media are very reluctant to spend more than 30 seconds of news time, the print media are reluctant to spend column-inches to difficult subjects (although eventually the NZ media did do that in the GE debate).

    If I want my friends eyes to glaze over I can talk about the latest cool stuff in plant molecular biology and I bet it's the same for climate scientists. So asking scientists to communicate better is an easy thing to ask but harder to achieve.

    cheers
    Bart

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4449 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    While the RCP is definitely wrong on global warming, I wouldn't regard every idea that they have as wrong headed.

    I think their ideology stems from anti-authoritarianism (hence opposition to immigration controls, internet censorship). They have a view, which I share, that western governments (especially Britain) are willing to sacrifice individual freedom all to readily in order to rectify "risky" situations - and that the risks have been overexaggerated.

    Their views on the war on terror seem quite reasonable to me, for instance.

    Their wishful thinking approach seems to be based around the idea that to prevent global warming, governments are going to do things (like preventing developing countries from industrialising, forcing people to stop using cars, etc) that will make people worse off and less free. Thus any evidence that these measures are unnecesary is to be seized on.

    Unfortunately global warming *is* real...

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Tony Judd,

    Bart:
    I know what you are saying - as a working scientist I know that I spend a lot of time working on reports, and I try to make those reports as readable and applicable to the audience as possible. The vast majority of those reports are only ever seen by a client and never see the further light of day however. And often they are pretty specialised and of no interest to the greater public anyway.

    Many other scientists working in their own fields probably have similar experiences, or if they are working as academics then they publish in academic journals which are usually only ever read by other scientists in the field.

    Magazines such as New Scientist or Scientific American etc try to present science to a wider audience, but who reads New Scientist? Probably mostly scientists I would guess.

    Science blogs like the ones at ScienceBlogs are a good start at presenting science to the world, but again - who is their readership?

    Perth • Since Nov 2006 • 63 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Refuting statistics is a long process, it is impossible unless fully acquainted with any stats presented, the methodology used to arrive at the stat, and the information to be conveyed. And if any of the calculations are wrong.. well you get the picture.

    So it takes someone who knows a subject to refute stats but by then it is usually a few days later and 50%(a guess) of the people who watch a programme such as Swindle are back at work saying this Global warming thing is BS. Im buying a f**king SUV and running over (insert derisive words here).

    So like most stats and their "truth" are something I rely on others to verify. But if I find out their figures are cooked well...

    The thing that gave away that this programme was probably a load of s**t was the last segment on Africa.
    One dodgy solar installation does not make a case. And after all that has/is happening on the African continent, I doubt if good solar/renewable energy source installers can be found readily in the phone book, then there's the problem of finding a phone.

    And I wondered if the much touted resources, and future financial gains that may come from them, would actually be used for the benefit of the mass of the population on the continent as the programme suggested, i.e. building power stations to run the electric stoves that are going to be installed in their mud huts.

    If you get my drift.

    [But what pisses me off is how those in the west ,e.g. a not very PC person crowing about "warmists" getting theirs. He may sometimes make sense (sort of) on other issues, but please give it a rest on this.]

    So for the above reason and the lack of enough benchtop hotplates in Africa, or till someone clears up all the stats this Swindle would appear to have been cooked up.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1874 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    Blimey, Che has a blog.

    writing shlock sci-fi/horror just wasn't scratching that itch.

    main thing to note is that the content of object dart will differ from politique substantially.

    turns out that i was being rather closely monitored from within the state sector, and the best distance i can maintain from old and bad habits, the better.

    i'll clear out some residual clarifications about the public service code of conduct, and move on. i think this will mean more talking about books, recipes, and things-of-interest-that-aren't-policy/politics-oriented.

    if that's at all possible

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • dylan,

    For me the point about the climate debate is not whether or not you can absolutely prove that human activity is contributing to global warming but whether or not their is sufficient evidence to support action.

    The mind set goes something like...
    If in 20 years we discover that we could have stopped global warming and we did nothing our children will not forgive us.
    If in 20 years we discover that global warming doesn't exist or is not caused by us then by acting now we will have lost very little (a couple of percentage point lost from GDP).

    The public seem to have decided that there is sufficient evidence. I think we are likly to see significant action on this from Europe and even the US in the next few years.

    netherlands • Since Nov 2006 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I'm pomo intolerant. Gives me irritable brain syndrome.

    I think what gets me is the way the famous pomo thinkers and their acolytes tend to regard obscurity as a virtue. And when the rest of us make the bullshit call on bad writing, we're decried as anti-intellectual.

    So I have a wee bit of time for the likes of Camille Paglia, whilst continuing to express open affection for the line with which Julie Burchill concluded her fax war with Ms Paglia:

    "Fuck off you crazy old dyke."

    Guess you had to be there, but damn that was good.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    writing shlock sci-fi/horror just wasn't scratching that itch ...

    Keep at it. Wellington is so the kind of town where you'd sell that script.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    If in 20 years we discover that global warming doesn't exist or is not caused by us then by acting now we will have lost very little (a couple of percentage point lost from GDP).

    Or even an increase in human knowledge as we're obliged to think harder to maintain our quality of life while we reduce our impact on the planet.

    You determine a problem with the technology you have; you create some new technologies. That's usually a good thing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    While the RCP is definitely wrong on global warming, I wouldn't regard every idea that they have as wrong headed.

    I think their ideology stems from anti-authoritarianism (hence opposition to immigration controls, internet censorship). They have a view, which I share, that western governments (especially Britain) are willing to sacrifice individual freedom all to readily in order to rectify "risky" situations - and that the risks have been overexaggerated.

    Thanks. That's a useful insight. Anarchist Marxists? Libertarian Marxists?

    But the nature of Durkin's output (which has drawn on people from the same political grouping) does suggest at least parts of it have gone completely off the rails.

    Sometimes, actually, it is the job of government to protect people.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Ackroyd,

    1.

    If in 20 years we discover that we could have stopped global warming and we did nothing our children will not forgive us.

    <Devil's Advocate>
    Isn't the whole "we owe it to our children" thing just craven hedging?
    </Devils's Advocate>


    2.

    "Fuck off you crazy old dyke."

    I love it. Do you have a link?


    3.
    Buy some Sam Broad gear at Craft 2.0

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 159 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    How would Darwinian thinking be brought to bear on social policy?

    If one accepts that the mind, our moral faculties and our very ability to socialise rely on in-built mechanisms that evolved then it makes a great deal of sense that an understanding of evolution should have a role in social policy development. Even if only to promote caution - the attempts last century by both the Left and Right to change society without regard to our innate human condition lead to horrendous consequences.

    But people like Singer are arguing more positively, that the Left can be invigorated via Darwin after the disaster of Marxism. I've read about a Darwinian analysis of government department restructuring which is very interesting.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    "Fuck off you crazy old dyke."
    I love it. Do you have a link?

    Yep. The site seems to be down but it's still there in the Google cache.

    I have my misgivings about Burchill, but she was cracking in this.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 7 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.