Transitional Technical Difficulties?

See here – all the Science Blogs type blogs are transitioning platform. This has been semi-secret or something, who knows, anyway clearly it isn’t quite so secret anymore. I don’t know any deadlines or suchlike, but it can’t possibly make the comment system any worse.


* That value of English law thing again

On getting out more

No, not physically, alas. Though I did go to Oxford. This post is about people getting too stuck in their own comfort ghetto. Not me, obviously – plenty of people are attacking me :-).

This is thrown up by comments at my Economics and Climatology? post, though I’ve been thinking this for a while.

So, if you make the mistake of visiting the cess-pit that is WUWT, you’ll find a cloistered worldlet full of septics. Visitors with an interest in the truth (as opposed to the Truth) are welcome, but only as long as they can be shouted down or allow themselves to be sidetracked into the odd issues that interest that worldlet. Anyone who sticks to pointing out basic truths is made very uncomfortable, and if they’re too good at it, they get banned. Because its a walled garden, and the regulars really don’t want to be too disturbed, nor do the management (in fact in many ways its better thought of as a daily comic editon, there to confirm prejudices not provide new facts, but that’s quite another matter). The downside of that, though, is that they have a mindset and words that can’t survive contact with the real world. Try and discuss, perhaps, the Greenhouse effect and you’ll get nutters who don’t believe it exists at all, and who prove this by hand-waving about “the second law of thermodynamics”; the conversation degrades into irrelevancies. That’s the low end, but try and talk about really any aspect of climatology and you encounter yawning gaps of understanding. Another example is their common use of “CAGW” – this is “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming”, which we “warmistas” are all supposed to believe in. Apparently the IPCC believes it too. Its never really defined though, but that hardly matters, because they have no interest in discussing the details. Or talk about temperature trends, and they will confidently tell you that the temperature is going down. Present them with the obvious – a graph of the temperature, which is going up – and it doesn’t affect them in the least. Its the wrong temperature record. Or suddenly, they don’t believe the record at all. Or they want to look over a different period. But again, none of that matters to them – what they have in their heads is this idea – “temperature is going down”, or perhaps more accurately “all this climate science is wrong”. They “know” this, as a general principle; any individual isolated disproof just bounces off, and of course the form of debate makes going through the entire catalogue impossible. Another nice feature is that they have traditional posts which are “known” to demonstrate certain ideas. They’ve never read, or thought about, these posts, or they’d know they’re trash: all they done is read the headlines, seen they fit their worldview, and internalised them.

All these problems, which are so obvious to anyone from the outside, seem to go unnoticed by the inhabitants. Because they never see anything different.

Which brings me to the economics discussed on climate blogs, which is similar. Not (I hasten to add) to the same degree; and the people (of course) are all Nice rather than Nasty. But the same problems exist: people talking about things they don’t understand; people continually re-presenting memes that they’ve accepted but never challenged; woolly thinking; and just a lack of taking these ideas out into the real world and getting them challenged.

So – naming no names, but you know who you are – people might try to say “Ricardo has been disproved for the modern world!” apparently unaware that this makes as little sense as stating that 0.999.. != 1 in the modern world. Or arguing that economists, by building in concepts like “discount rate”,… limit our choices. Or conflating politics and economics. Or “JP Morgan just lost $2b” as though it dealt a body-blow to modern banking.

I could write more, but I suspect you get the point now, and don’t agree, so I won’t bother.

[Update: thank you for your various comments. Having read them, my opinions haven’t altered. There is too much wishful thinking, too much reliance of alternative sources as mainstream. The difference in language between those who know some economics and those who don’t is both obvious and painful.]


* Bringing the Denialist Faith to the next Generation

Economics and Climatology?

Reading P3 and mt I got stuck at

…economics makes grandiose claims to be the science of collective behavior, or even the science of collective happiness. Yet it dismisses any philosophically interesting aspects of these questions in favor of counting dollar-denominated transactions. Nevertheless, it claims for itself a unique position among the sciences, as the crux, the central weighing mechanism, for all public decision-making.

Leaving to the side, if I can for the moment, the “philosophically interesting” aspects I’m interested in the “central weighing mechanism” point.

It isn’t clear to me if mt is rejecting (a) the idea of having a weighing mechanism, or (b) the idea that economics is it?

I don’t think (b) is plausible – economics is, pretty well by definition, the weighing mechanism. Assuming you believe in one.

That leaves (a) (I think. Are there other options?). I think that’s a bad choice – the only alternative to a central mechanism is a decentralised mechanism, where everyone uses their own prejudices. Which is the bad bits of the current political mess (if you want an example of decision-making not based on economics, then try this or more generally). I think you want more economics, not less, but done properly.

Once upon a time I think I would have rejected (a), or perhaps I would have not got past my reservations over it. There are still immense problems with reducing everything to a common monetary unit (e.g. Stern is broken). But I now think that to refuse to accept (a) is just to stick your head under a blanket. These decisions and trade-offs will be made anyway; its impossible not to make them. So they should be made in the best way.

[Update: if you want an example of why doing things non-economically is a bad idea, try this].


* Carlyle and the Racist Origins of the Idea that Economics was “the Dismal Science”
* The crash wasn’t derivatives and it wasn’t big banks: as Spain shows
* Covered in Bees finds mt a bit hand-wavy too.

Counting animals: written in blood?

Interesting article from The Economist science section about establishing the presence of shy animals in rainforests by examining leech blood.

A highlight comes from one of my relatives:

They also found genetic material from the… small-toothed ferret-badger, which is (apparently) impossible to distinguish from the related Burmese ferret-badger without getting close enough to handle it.

Comic edition

It has rained quite a bit recently.


I did go down from the bridge and give them a hand in, you realise. In other news…

* Adventures in Vim!
* Pointless resentment – one for all the people who would rather criticise than help
* Swan reveals bone-breaking technique – about Mr Asbo if you hadn’t realised. He even has a facebook page.
* Hitler was a vegetarian etc. etc., you know how it goes.
* TCBC – Total Eclipse of the Heart

So long, and thanks for all the fish

Or, A child’s garden of wikipedia, part 2.

I’ve been banned from WUWT, after exposing too many of his errors. Although naturally AW doesn’t phrase it quite like that. Also, he didn’t much like me not showing the adoration that he gets from his fanbois either. Indeed, presumably in an effort to pretend that there is no censorship, AW can’t even bring himself to say “banned”: instead preferring the Orwellian you have been dis-invited from further commentary here. Even that may disappear if it becomes too inconvenient, so you can see a webcited version here.

The cause of all this (dismissing as a smokescreen his nominal reasons “you have summarily and regularly violated WUWT policy. While on one hand you have made some valid points, on the other, your behavior here (with follow up taunting on your blog) is serially mendacious, disruptive, dismissive, insulting, and condescending, and as I’ve pointed out the threads Mr. Connolley visits get hijacked by his interaction, making them about him and his taunts. In essence, as you’ve demonstrated on Wikipedia, your participation here is not in good faith either”) looks to be his embarrassment over his errors at wikipedia.

I told AW and his people that they were all whingers-on-the-sidelines who, whilst using wiki whenever it suited them, preferred complaining about it to ever contributing. This struck a nerve with AW, who clearly had a long-built-up resentment to get off his chest:

I submitted the original page on the Climate Reference Network to Wikipedia in April 2008 after my invited visit to NCDC. I actually did it from my hotel room in Asheville because no page existed on it and I thought there should be one after meeting with NCDC staff (who I was impressed with BTW for that project division). So I took the description from NCDC and posted it along with the appropriate title and cites. It was then promptly deleted by one of the pseudonym named climate bullies you cavort with. My crime was using my own name….because well, we just can’t have that awful Watts person submitting to Wikipedia. Only the anointed get to touch the holy Wiki climate reference book it seems, mere unclean mortals like myself get their contributions deleted wholesale. So I don’t bother anymore. I know others that have been turned off by the bullying as well.

[Italics in the original]. The problem is that all of this, apart from his submitting the page, is pure fantasy, as I told him (unpublished comment, oddly enough). To clear away some confusion, he doesn’t mean Climate Reference Network he means US Climate Reference Network. The initial version of that was submitted by User:Wattsupwiththat as that user’s only contribution ever. As you can see from the page history (or perhaps more clearly in a diff from then to just-recently) it wasn’t deleted, nor indeed was it substantially changed (technically you or I as humble users can’t see any deleted revisions of the page, but I’ve asked an admin who has confirmed that there are none).

What probably confused AW was the tagging for speedy deletion as a copyvio. Since it was just a cut-paste job, this isn’t unreasonable. But that tag only survived for an hour and a half before it was removed – its a copy of some US govt work, so is permissible, just about. And AW got a note on his talk page explaining this.

So we can now look at AW’s claims in detail:

* It was then promptly deleted – this is false
* by one of the pseudonym named climate bullies – since it wasn’t deleted, this is automatically false. But the person who added the tag, Bradv, has nothing to do with climate as far as I know. Notice, incidentally, how the nominally-polite AW throws around false accusations of being a “climate bully” so readily.
* you cavort with – false. I’ve had no interactions with him at all, as far as I know.
* My crime was using my own name….because well, we just can’t have that awful Watts person submitting to Wikipedia – false. There is not the least hint of this; the tagging was just an automatic reaction to cut-n-paste, with no hint that Bradv even knew who AW was.
* Only the anointed get to touch the holy Wiki climate reference book it seems, mere unclean mortals like myself get their contributions deleted wholesale – false. For all the reasons given above, or even from just looking at the article history, which has contributions by a number of people, none of whom have anything to do with GW (well, until I merged the two articles just a while ago).
* I don’t bother anymore – this certainly is true.
* I know others that have been turned off by the bullying as well – there is certainly a whole group of septics out there who use similar fantasies as their excuse for not editing.


* Now Anthony Watts Is Calling Me!