Posts by Philip Wilkie

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  • Hard News: The Daily Embarrassment,

    Philip wants it spelt out bell, book and candle.

    Musical comedy indeed.... how appropriate. Wegman's testimony has been repeatedly misappropriated for this silly purpose. All Wegman was doing was commenting on the statistics... not the data.

    Wegman had been tasked solely to evaluate whether the McIntyre and McKitrick (2005) (MM05) criticism of Mann, Bradley and Hughes (1998) (MBH) had statistical merit. That is, was their narrow point on the impacts of centering on the first principal component (PC) correct? He was pointedly not asked whether it made any difference to the final MBH reconstruction and so he did not attempt to evaluate that. Since no one has ever disputed MM05's arithmetic (only their inferences), he along with the everyone else found that, yes, centering conventions make a difference to the first PC.

    So what happens when the "correct PC centering conventions" are applied to the data? It made almost no difference. Nor has it made any difference to the dozens of OTHER studies that have repeatedly arrived that the same result in the same decade since.

    The US National Academy report linked to by Kracklite spells this out... err.. with bells on.

    Since Mar 2007 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The Daily Embarrassment,

    but none suggest that it has been warmer at any time in the past 1000 years than in the last part of the 20th century.

    The "it was hotter in the Medieval Warm Period" (MWP) meme is another dishonesty doing the rounds. Between about 1000 - 1500 AD temperatures in Europe where higher than the long-term norm, while modern era temperatures are not a lot higher... so who cares?

    The dishonesty is this. The MWP arose naturally over many centuries. The rate of it's rise and decline was quite gradual. By contrast the rate of modern warming is dramatically faster.... worse still whatever we do now, even if we didn't burn another drop of oil or coal from today onwards....we are committed to at least another 30 years of temperature increases at the current rate of rise.

    Since Mar 2007 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The Daily Embarrassment,

    The fact that there have recently been more articles in various newspapers that deal with some aspect(s) of GW hype shows some movement on the subject.

    Showing up ignorant journalism as hype, discredits the journalist....not the scientist. On the other hand "smear by association" is always a handy dodge.

    Since Mar 2007 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The Daily Embarrassment,

    The passage of time has shown Mann to have published rubbish, I think the statistics he used was assesed by experts as being "graduate student level"

    Likely Steve Curtis doesn't know the difference between an eigenvector and a steinlager, but he seems happy to uncritically regurgitate this nonsense he's picked up from somewhere without quoting his source.

    The real reason for the ignorant lies being spread on Mann's paper has nothing to do with the obscure technicalities of the PCA statisictical methods he used, but that this now almost 10 year old paper was very much an iconic, high profile study. The sceptics logic behind smearing it is that if they can discredit this "AGW icon" in the court of non-scientific public opionion, then by association they hope to discredit the whole of AGW science. Which is of course a desperate dishonesty.

    In fact whether Mann's PCA analysis was right or wrong is almost entirely irrelevant, the underlying data and the obvious conclusions drawn from it, not only stand unchallenged, but have been confirmed by numerous independent studies in the decade since.

    And if Steve Curtis had bothered to read the NZ Press Council link he gave, he would read that their judgement was based entirely on journalistic considerations. The science did not enter into it.

    Since Mar 2007 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • OnPoint: Spoonfuls of sugar,

    Ulf Shoefisch's columm today is thinking along these lines:

    New Zealand is at a crossroad. With the OECD and IMF unlikely to take the lead, it is time for domestic policymakers to start a serious debate about where this economy should be headed and how to best get there. This is not about whether tax cuts are preferable to more government spending. This is about developing a vision of what niche this economy should carve out for itself in the fast- moving global environment, considering its size, location, strengths and weaknesses.

    There is no way for NZ to tax cut ourselves into equality with Australia; it's time for National to drop the "tax cut" mantra (even Bill English has) and bring some constructive ideas to the debate out of which a political consensus may arise. Years of petty bickering among the Auckland Local Govt has been much to the detriment of that city; similarly it doesn't take much imagination to believe that public farce of "opposition for opposition's sake" and disunity that our Parliament serves up as PR isn't doing NZ any favours.

    We know that the individual's involved are largely better than this. In the Committee rooms and Parliamentary corridors there is far less acrimony and a lot more useful consultation going on than most people suppose. If nothing else Clarke's most enduring legacy will be her working model for future govts of how to successfully manage the MMP environment.

    Yet personally I'm deeply tired of the old legacy mentality that forever locks parties into a largely pointless, tribal, dysfunctional public confrontation with each other. We don't run our families and businesses like this, so why to we try to run our nation like according to such a flawed model?

    Since Mar 2007 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • OnPoint: Spoonfuls of sugar,

    a politically mature debate would involve reframing the debate to focus on the quality of public spending rather than the quantity

    Agreed. Unfortunately such a debate might demand a level of thought and mature restraint to which blogland appears quite unaccustomed.

    Moreover the suspicious lefty mind rather tends to interpret a right winger saying "quality spending" as "spending cuts"...and many large govt expenditures (superannuation being the obvious one) have no obvious sense in which we might measure "quality". Especially when the call for "quality spending" is followed by hand waving vagueness and a thumping policy vacuum. If seriously pushed the right wing thinking might sometimes admit to a Victorian policy of "if we give them less money they will spend it smarter". Way to go.

    The six big items on the govts list are super, health, education, welfare, infrastructure and defense that between them account for about 80% of all expenditure. Any reframing the debate must focus on these items first. A tramper looking to reduce their pack weight is told to first of all examine the "big three", sleeping bag, pack and shelter; it is only after these have been optimised does it make any sense to start trimming back the handle on the toothbrush.

    Cullen to his credit has done more to make superannuation sustainable than any other Finance minister in all of our history; and given that the retired form a voting wedge that no party can defy at the ballot box it is hard to anticipate that this expenditure has much scope for cutting.

    Education. The bulk of the costs are for salaries, not much scope for "quality" reductions unless you can detail a plan for shedding the total head count in the sector.

    Welfare. Is pretty much at historically low levels, even when you combine unemployment and sickness beneficiary numbers. With a drum tight labour market there is not much scope for improvements here.

    Infrastructure. We still spend too much on roads, but the electorate seems to have an insatiable appetite for them.

    Defense. If we cut this any more we won't have any.

    Health is the nightmare. Even the extra $1.4b tossed at the DHB's this Budget will barely touch the sides. But again the big cost in this sector is wages and a global shortage of labour supply putting endless pressure on them.

    Where to go guys? I remain unconvinced that "privatisation" is a useful path as it fails to yield any significant long term nett efficiencies. Quibbling over how the public and private sectors get to divide up the pie are quite fruitless. The real debate should revolve around our structural imbalances; the lack of capital formation in NZ, the lack of investment in productivity and value creation, high interest rates, low wages, and the continued to struggle of the NZ business community to engage the global economy as equals.

    Since Mar 2007 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • OnPoint: Spoonfuls of sugar,

    I've just listened to Geoff Robinson's interview with Key's response to the Budget. When asked what HE would do rather than just bag Cullen..all Key could do was bag Cullen. And promise tax cuts.

    Rather hiliariously Key also managed to totally contradict himself in the same interview claiming that even with Kiwisaver NZ'ers still couldn't afford to save because they were overtaxed unlike Australia....and then a few sentences later stated that the total Australian savings rate was no different to NZ!!

    The National Party fixation with tax cuts is revealed by their continuous focus on Australian tax cuts....but never once a hint of the Australian compulsory super. Again Key bags Cullen for not indexing tax thresholds, yet in 2005 when Cullen proposed to do exactly that...he lead the chorus that derided them as "chewing gum tax cuts".

    Really this guy speaks out of both sides of his mouth. These days the philosophical divide seems to come down to "tax and save" Labour party, and a "borrow and spend" National party.

    Since Mar 2007 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Claims,

    No serious thread in NZ blogland is complete without Craig throwing a delightfully coloured tanty at some point. I mean the man has such a talent with the artfully posed insult that someone really ought to collect them all up and auction them off for a charity fund raiser or something.

    As the recipient of several of his better efforts (under an alternate guise) I have come to rather treasure the precious little things. Lie back, enjoy them....think of England if you have to. Stiff upper and all that.

    Since Mar 2007 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • Southerly: The Astonishing New Car from…,


    I've been driving efficient European turbo-diesels for about 6 years now, mainly because I actually prefer diesel engines to petrol (they just "feel" better to me).

    But for the average punter the gloss is wholly rubbed off by the Road User Charge thing that almost doubles the fuel cost. As one of the review articles linked to, it actually costs more to run the Loremo in RUC costs than fuel.

    Given that small efficient turbo diesels have the lowest carbon footprint of any available and practical "car class" vehicle available....a govt intent on improving our CO2 balance could do a lot worse than removing this very specific disincentive.

    Since Mar 2007 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Bad men,


    Rape cases are always difficult to prosecute, full stop; with so called 'historical' cases, the difficulties increase exponentially.

    Which is my sole point really. I believe it was a mistake to remove the Statute of Limitations and to lower the burden of proof to convict on uncorroborated testimony alone. It opens the door to very unsatisfactory cases such as this one.

    I would think that IF the Police had done their jobs properly 20 years ago and these alledged acts had reached a Court in a timely manner, there would likely been more public confidence in the outcome.

    reliving it over and over, let alone having their character and mental health dragged through a very public mill as part of a defence startegy

    Again if you allow a case to reach the Court solely on the word of the complainant, the defence has NO choice but to attack it's credibility. What else can they do if they are going to do their job at all?

    There are many good reasons why juries will always be reluctant to convict in these circumstances. Unlike the fraud case example you gave above, an "inexpert jury" is likely to comprehend this type of sexual offence case quite adequately and are perfectly aware that the chances are that the guy DID do it, but cannot bring themselves to leap the "beyond reasonable doubt" hurdle. Nor do I think that a jury with more than a few women members is likely to be so perversely misogynistic as to acquit an obviously guilty man simply because they want to inflict humiliation on a female rape victim, or "protect the patriarchy".

    Given this inevitable reality I do think that on balance historic cases such as this should only proceed if there is compelling corroborative evidence.

    Since Mar 2007 • 23 posts Report Reply

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