It is backed like a weasel

DSC_4035 Carlos Frenk, Director of the Institute for Computational Cosmology at Durham University says some sane-but-not-surprising things about peer review. In other respects, the venue this appears in – IAI, the Institute of Art and Ideas – appears to have been taken over by septics, see for example Climate Change: a Rhetoric of Risk, Are climate change sceptics unfairly ignored by mainstream media? where they take Benny Peiser seriously.

Musings on Quantitative Palaeoecology is Richard Telford’s blog, which I’ve only just found. He takes the piss out of Monkers which is always a difficult sport and (although I didn’t know it at the time) joined in the, errm, examination of Pattern Recognition in Physics (looking at it looks to me as though nothing has happened since the re-launch, incidentally). However, unlike me he actually has some interesting things to say about real science – for example Thoughts on tipping points relevant to Praetorius & Mix (2014).

And ATTP has a post on Nic Lewis’s paper on priors, which as far as I can tell mostly says the same things about uniform priors that James Annan has been saying for some time, and then says some wrong things about Jeffries’s prior, which JA has already talked about. I should point out that I’m not following the details; all this amounts to is that I’ve learnt to trust JA in these matters.


“Very Like A Whale”

by Ogden Nash

One thing that literature would be greatly the better for
Would be a more restricted employment by the authors of simile and
Authors of all races, be they Greeks, Romans, Teutons or Celts,
Can't seem just to say that anything is the thing it is but have to
go out of their way to say that it is like something else.
What does it mean when we are told
That that Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold?
In the first place, George Gordon Byron had enough experience
To know that it probably wasn't just one Assyrian, it was a lot of
However, as too many arguments are apt to induce apoplexy and
thus hinder longevity.
We'll let it pass as one Assyrian for the sake of brevity.
Now then, this particular Assyrian, the one whos cohorts were
gleaming in purple and gold,
Just what does the poet mean when he says he came down like a
wolf on the fold?
In heaven and earth more than is dreamed of in our philosophy
there are great many things.
But I don't imagine that among them there is a wolf with purple
and gold cohorts or purple and gold anythings.
No, no, Lord Byron, before I'll believe that this Assyrian was
actually like a wolf I must have some kind of proof;
Did he run on all fours and did he have a hairy tail and a big red
mouth and big white teeth and did he say Woof woof woof?
Frankly I think it is very unlikely, and all you were entitled to say,
at the very most,
Was that the Assyrian cohorts came down like a lot of Assyrian
cohorts about to destroy the Hebrew host.
But that wasn't fancy enough for Lord Byron, oh dear me no, he
had to invent a lot of figures of speech and then interpolate them,
With the result that whenever you mention Old Testament soldiers
to people they say Oh yes, they're the ones that a lot of
wolves dressed up in gold and purple ate them.
That's the kind of thing that's being done all the time by poets,
from Homer to Tennyson;
They're always comparing ladies to lilies and veal to venison,
And they always say things like that the snow is a white blanket
after a winter storm.
Oh it is, is it, all right then, you sleep under a six-inch blanket of
snow and I'll sleep under a half-inch blanket of unpoetical
blanket material and we'll see which one keeps warm,
And after that maybe you'll begin to comprehend dimly
What I mean by too much metaphor and simile.

(this is a copy of the text as found at puisipoesy).

7 thoughts on “It is backed like a weasel”

  1. Can’t resist adding, we also use too many adverbs. Something is not more true for being extremely so, I believe.
    (and I’m not immune)


  2. I can’t quite get my head around the target demographic for such a group. I can only think that the idea is to confuse those who should know better. (Kind of like Lomborg insisting that we should give money to the third world, and not do anything about climate change.)


  3. IAI also offered What we don’t know about CO2, including Bob Carter, Richard Corfield and Michael Mcintyre. Carter:
    (“Even if we double and then double again carbon dioxide, we will still have a carbon dioxide-starved atmosphere.”)
    Host Gabrielle Walker:introduced Carter including “scientific advisor for the international climate science commission.” (?)

    That IAI piece is certainly instructive, starting:

    ““Benny Peiser is a social anthropologist best known for his work on the portrayal of climate change. The founder of CCNet, a leading climate policy network, Peiser is co-editor of the journal Energy and Environment and director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation.”


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