Justice and Injustice

There is a remark somewhere in Popper – but of course I forget where, and since I’m only struggling to remember this as an intro or lead-in I may even have made it up – to the effect that deep inquiry into the meaning of words is largely fruitless. And this is in the context of his attack on Plato, so my forward-reference to Plato spending an entire book trying to define Justice is apt.

The kind of thing I mean is Plato’s Concept Of Justice: An Analysis which just happened to be the top google hit, and now I’ve propelled it higher. Plato doesn’t really mean Justice, to be fair. He means a whole pile of things including morality, and the correct social order, which rather importantly included people like Plato being on top.

However, I’m ranting again. All I meant to say was that Hobbes rather beautifully turns this all around. First, in a State of Nature the notion of justice is absent:

To this warre of every man against every man, this also is consequent; that nothing can be Unjust. The notions of Right and Wrong, Justice and Injustice have there no place. [1]

But we’re interested in people in a society, so we have the succinctly titled “Justice And Injustice What” section, wherein he says:

And in this law of Nature, consisteth the Fountain and Originall of JUSTICE. For where no Covenant hath preceded, there hath no Right been transferred, and every man has right to every thing; and consequently, no action can be Unjust. But when a Covenant is made, then to break it is Unjust: And the definition of INJUSTICE, is no other than The Not Performance Of Covenant. And whatsoever is not Unjust, is Just. [2]

And the key, in case you missed it, is “And whatsoever is not Unjust, is Just.”

(perhaps you also need to know the immeadiately preceeding The Third Law Of Nature, Justice: From that law of Nature, by which we are obliged to transferre to another, such Rights, as being retained, hinder the peace of Mankind, there followeth a Third; which is this, That Men Performe Their Covenants Made: without which, Covenants are in vain, and but Empty words; and the Right of all men to all things remaining, wee are still in the condition of Warre.)

Anyway, at least you know what Hobbes is on about: it certainly beats the wordy windbagging twaddle of Plato (Justice implies superior character and intelligence while injustice means deficiency in both respects. Therefore, just men are superior in character and intelligence and are more effective in action. As injustice implies ignorance, stupidity and badness, It cannot be superior in character and intelligence… Plato prove that justice does not depend upon a chance, convention or upon external force. It is the right condition of the human soul by the very nature of man when seen in the fullness of his environment. etc. etc.).

And this in turn is sparked off by Ralph Cudworth (it seems very odd that he was called Ralph) who in seeking to refute a variety of what he regards as heretical notions, principally the notion that Morality might not be absolute (see-also [[Euthyphro dilemma]]) is moved to use Plato’s complaints about the Protagoreans and others, who inexcusably believe that nothing can be absolutely just, but all is a matter of social convention. Which is quite ironic because Cudworth is doing his best to demolish Hobbes, but justice is about the only thing that Hobbes would take as absolute; for example which books of religion you trust is (for Hobbes) clearly a matter of societal choice. But not for Cudders.

[I was going to try to avoid doing a review of 2011 by doing a review of “posts I wrote but didn’t post in 2011”. But I didn’t find many. I did find this though. Written in February.]


* [2018]: Soc Flop.
* [2019]: CafeHayek on Adam Smith on Justice noting that it is a “negative virtue”: you get done for injustice, you don’t get praised for being just. That’s from TMS.

RFS 9: Kill Hollywood

Well, this is an interesting take on SOPA (h/t Paul, and the atheist FAQ is worth reading too):

Hollywood appears to have peaked… [But] The people who run it are so mean and so politically connected that they could do a lot of damage to civil liberties and the world economy on the way down… The main reason we want to fund such startups is not to protect the world from more SOPAs, but because SOPA brought it to our attention that Hollywood is dying. They must be dying if they’re resorting to such tactics… SOPA shows Hollywood is beaten. And yet the audiences to be captured from movies and TV are still huge… What’s going to kill movies and TV is what’s already killing them: better ways to entertain people.

Plan 8 from outer space

The Mystery of Equation 8 refers, and offers me my title.

For a while now, there has been some weird septic stuff floating around about how the planet is warmer-than-it-would-be-without-an-atmosphere not because of the greenhouse effect or anything like that, but because of gravity. Nikolov and Zeller I think, though for all I know others are thinking the same. There are several threads, and vast piles of comments, at WUWT – for example, this one; or the original.

Since it was all obviously septic nonsense wrapped up in equations, I didn’t even bother to think about it, in much the same way that you really don’t bother with people who claim to disprove relativity over the intertubes. But then Willis Eschenbach was kind enough to put up a post explaining just why it was all rubbish, which is very good, because it can be understood without much thought, and also explains their killer result, viz fitting misc planetary temperatures.

[My own thinking about N&Z in arrears: if you have a planet with a radiatively non-active atmosphere, and make the usual assumption that you can consider it a point and forget about rotation and geometry; then the surface temperature without an atmosphere is such-and-such; and the energy balance at the surface is between incoming SW and outgoing (SW + LW); and if you add a radiatively inactive atmosphere that balance doesn’t change at all, in equilibrium; all that happens is that the atmosphere itself acquires some temperature via conduction (which it can’t shed radiatively, because its inactive). So the idea that something other than the radiatively active bit determines the surface temperature is twaddle.]

Anyway, it turns out that if you actually bother to read the tripe (as Willis Eschenbach has done) then it all boils down to:

Our analysis of interplanetary data in Table 1 found no meaningful relationships between ATE (NTE) and variables such as total absorbed solar radiation by planets or the amount of greenhouse gases in their atmospheres. However, we discovered that NTE was strongly related to total surface pressure through a nearly perfect regression fit via the following nonlinear function

and the equation is:

Or, put another way, there is no physics at all behind their “model”, just an equation with 4 free parameters which they have then fitted via regression. Which, as WE correctly points out, is a waste of time.

[Oh, and I may not have been paying attention to what other people have been saying about this, either, so if you’ve already taken this or similar apart, do let me know.]

Update: there have been Q’s in the comments here along the lines of “how can these guys be quite so wacko, do they really mean it? Someone claiming to be the Z in N&Z wrote the following at WUWT, which if genuine removes all doubt: they are utterly off their trolleys.

kzeller says:
January 25, 2012 at 9:51 am
Willis says …. “they claim to be able to calculate the surface temperature Ts of eight different planets and moons from knowing nothing more than the solar irradiation So and the surface pressure Ps for each heavenly body. Dr. Zeller refers to this as their MIRACLE equation…” …..”My simplified version of their equation looks like this: Ts = 25.394 * Solar^0.25 * e^(0.092 * Pressure ^ 0.17)” = A SIMPLER MIRACLE

You folks just don’t get it do you, you’re not seeing the forest for the trees: Willis’ rendition of our MIRACLE is also a MIRACLE!!!!!!! What is the Miracle you don’t see? We calculate the average global equilibrium surface temperature on any planet/moon using only Solar input and surface pressure! Why is this a miracle? Because it implys that the AGW theory is bogus. Why does it do that? Since the average global surface temperature of any planet/moon IS the basic bottomline determinator of that planet/moon’s climate and our Eq 8 accurately calculates this temperature without using greenhouse gas information.
Dr. Nikolov & I have been working on this for over 2 years, our first attempts looked like Willis’ simpler miracle, and we’ve played with density also, but we are trying to get it exact, currently Eq 8. You CAN NOT fit an elephant with an exponential equation, you can with a polynominal. The argument about the number of constants in our equation 8 would be valid it it were a polynominal – it’s not.
We are handing WUWT ‘THE NAIL’ to the AGW coffin and you guys have forgotten about the coffin and are fixated on the details of the nail! Is it galvinized? Why isn’t it a wooden spike? They need 2 more nails. Wonder what kind of hammer they plan to use?

I’m not quite sure that they understand the meaning of the word “Miracle” though when they say “Why is this a miracle? Because it implys that the AGW theory is bogus”. Presumably they don’t mean that only supernatural intervention could render AGW theory wrong. I can’t resist, I’m going to troll them with that.


* Plan 9 from Outer Space
* Step 3

Fossil fuels are sub-prime assets, Bank of England governor warned?

And, since I’ve been cwuel to the septics, I suppose I ought to have a go at the greenies, for balance:

A false balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight.
— Proverbs 11:1

So (h/t KZ) the Grauniad says:

Open letter to Sir Mervyn King says overexposure to high-carbon assets by London-listed companies risks creating a ‘carbon bubble’… The huge reserves of coal, oil and gas held by companies listed in the City of London are “sub-prime” assets posing a systemic risk to economic stability, a high-profile coalition of investors, politicians and scientists has warned Bank of England’s governor, Sir Mervyn King.

Or just skip the Graun, and read the letter direct.

Weeeeellll: much as I’d like us to reduce our carbon emissions over the next few decades, I really don’t see us managing that by actively deciding not to burn usable assets, to a degree likely to substantially depress their price.

Or, put another way, if the great and the good and the green who signed that letter feel like risking their money by shorting the companies on their list, errm, I certainly won’t be joining them.


* A surprising call from the investment community

Aiiee, the stupid, it burns!

There is an absolutely classic WUWT piece of stupidity up from Joe Bastardi (h/t QS, who has been annoying me with ZOD nonsense recently). Sometimes, it is nice to find a small simple easily understood issue which demonstrates how clueless the septics are.

And the quote is:

Nor am I going to question them as to why they believe a trace gas like CO2 (needed for life on the planet) with a specific gravity of 1.5 as compared to the atmospheres 1.0, was going to mix with air in a way to affect the earth’s temperatures

(bear in mind that isn’t all that is wrong with the article, only the stupidest).

Some of the commenters notice the problem: “Brian Macker says: January 19, 2012 at 5:24 am Joe, Are you claiming that if we measure CO2 levels at altitude that we will find lower percentages than at sea level? That’s what it sounds like.

Bastardi’s point is stupid on a number of levels. Most obviously, if CO2 was going to separate, so would O2 and N2, and argon, and… well, lots of stuff. That doesn’t happen, and the answer is turbulent mixing. Its not a difficult answer, and you can find stuff in the AMS glossary. Or, you can just look up CO2 variation with height (e.g. Concentration variations of atmospheric CO 2 over Syowa Station …. There is a similar septic talking point as to “how can CFC’s cause the ozone hole when they are heavier than air” and the answer is the same: (a) mixing and (b) measurement.

One of the commenters even finds some data: “Alistair Ahs says: January 19, 2012 at 6:00 am Further, on your point about the mass of a CO2 molecule, when compared to N2, a quick google search shows up a research paper by Waleter Bischoff (1961), who made a number of measurements of CO2 at different heights above Scandinavia. He *did* find that on average the concentration of CO2 declined with height, but the rate of this decline is really quite modest – from the highest value of 318ppm below 200m to the lowest value of 312ppm at near to 3km. I haven’t read that, but I’d guess this is more to do with CO2 sources at ground level not being immeadiately mixed. There definitely is slight variation in CO2 around the world – but the variation isn’t important for talking about the greenhouse effect.

And then lots of other people point out to Bastardi that he has got it wrong – all of them polite and respectful, indeed one gets the impression that they find it hard to believe that “their man” has got it so hopelessly wrong.

So Joe Bastardi replies at January 19, 2012 at 9:28 am

You folks that are coming at me about co2 sg, apparently dont understand that simply put, it does not mix well with air. There was just an article about that here on WUWT.

Yes, that’s right: even when it has been carefully explained to him by his own side, he is still not capable of thinking.


* A Word to the Resourceful
* Another Bastardi Failed Prediction
* Chatting with the climate scientist Newt dissed (h/t KK)

The Stoat's burrow

Well, it has finally happened – I’ve decided to make a place to keep all the comments I don’t publish because they are noise, stupid, or whatever. And I’ll take the opportunity to add here all the ones I feel obliged to partially censor, for whatever reason (other than simple gross personal attacks, which will still just get redacted out).

Commercial linkspam will still be just junked; I’ve included an example of that for your entertainment.

To add: you’re welcome to comment here, if you like. Obviously, comments that are simply stupid will just stay in the comment thread and won’t be moved :-).

Note: some people are going to get a slightly hard time, in that they will want to talk about stuff that I’ll regard as just trolling or flamebait. Well, tough.

Warning: some of the comments below here are Rude. Read on at your peril.

Continue reading “The Stoat's burrow”

Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge?


“Learn more” is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:SOPA_initiative/Learn_more: SOPA and PIPA are just indicators of a much broader problem. We are already seeing big media calling us names. In many jurisdictions around the world, we’re seeing the development of legislation that prioritizes overly-broad copyright enforcement laws, laws promoted by power players, over the preservation of individual civil liberties. We want the Internet to be free and open, everywhere, for everyone.


* Google
* Beeb
* Wikipedia blackout forces students to copy from printed ‘hardcopy websites’

Tweaking the wackos, part II

Tweaking the wackos refers. “James Pagett” wrote The Wonderful World of Wikipedia at WUWT complaining about the [[Soon-Baliunas controversy]] page. But despite the author knowing enough about wikipedia to have gotten himself topic-banned by arbcomm (which the post, oddly, doesn’t have room to mention) the article does a very poor job of explaining how wikipedia works. Which isn’t too surprising, as no-one outside does.

But because the post is at WUWT, and is about climate, and wikipedia, it doesn’t take look for the wackos to start ranting about me, even though I don’t feature in this story at all. Since I’d been invoked, I felt obliged to turn up (there, and in following comments). However, there is a disappointing lack of desire to learn about wikipedia, or indeed to make any attempt to back up assertions.

As far as can be told, the post didn’t lead to an invasion of septics; about the biggest consequence (apart from the correction at S+B) was someone insisting that “climate” must go in as an example of chaos [1]. But the impression, from the comment thread, is that the Watties don’t understand wiki, and they fear it, and they aren’t even going to try touching it. Which is by and large all for the good.


* Comparison of Wikipedia and other encyclopedias for accuracy, breadth, and depth in historical articles (no, I haven’t read it, the thing is behind a paywall, how ironic.