William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Category: Links (page 1 of 78)

The statistics of both climatology and meteorology.

Daily Liks & Comments

@1 Free concert tomorrow, Sunday, 27 October. 1:30 pm. Salve Regina: Music for the Heavenly Queen. St. Catherine of Sienna. 68th street between First and York. Gregorian Chant, Ave Maris Stella, etc., etc. The music there is good.

@2 Chemists show life on Earth was not a fluke. But “[h]ow life came about from inanimate sets of chemicals is still a mystery.” Link

@3 Tenured professors says, “That’s it. I’m outta here.” Why I Jumped Off The Ivory Tower. Link

@4 Keep the scourge of scientism out of schools. Why evidence-based teaching methods are a bad idea. Link

Please prefix your comments with “@X” to indicate which story you’re commenting on. I should hardly need to say that a link does not necessarily imply endorsement.

Daily Links & Comments

@1 The Loss of the Permanent Things in Higher Education: trivial, multicultural, relativistic, sexual and politically correct studies supplant what had been a focus on Western civilization. Link

@2 November 9th, Thomas Aquinas and Philosophical Realism. Among others, our main man Edward Feser on, “An Aristotelian Argument for the Existence of God.” Free! NYU Catholic Center. Link

@3 The Problem of Polygenism and the Theory of Evolution. Long live Monogenism! Link

@4 The Will Rodgers phenomenon in statistics. “When the Okies left Oklahoma and moved to California, they raised the average intelligence in both states.” Think about it. Link

@5 University of Colorado Boulder tells students to avoid costumes including cowboys, indians, white trash or anything potentially deemed offensive. You racist! Link

@6 An interesting time series, plotted in just the right way. Onwards and upwards to a brave new future! Link

Please prefix your comments with “@X” to indicate which story you’re commenting on. I should hardly need to say that a link does not necessarily imply endorsement.

The Case of the Missing Global Warming: A 17th Precinct Mini Mystery

A 17th Precinct Mini Mystery

This originally ran four years ago on 21 September 2009. One or two minor details have been changed to make the post current. Update: I see I screwed up the update and lost the copy where it was Michael Mann calling in the report. I have no luck with WordPress’s scheduler. Use your imagination.

“Hey, Sarge. Got a lady here who wants to file a missing persons report…Sarge?” Officer Hannigan stood in front of Sergeant Fitzgerald’s desk and rustled a sheaf of paper just loud enough so that it didn’t sound intentional, but with enough force to be heard.

Sergeant Fitzgerald was dozing and he almost started at the noise, but long experience enabled him to remain still. He did not want his junior to know he had been asleep, so he counted to three then slowly made the sign of the cross and said, “Amen.” He let his watery eyes find Hannigan’s.

“Oh, sorry, Sarge.” Hannigan was new enough not to have seen the act before. “But I got this strange call and I didn’t know what to do.” Fitzgerald raised both eyebrows a millimeter. “This lady wants to report a missing person, only…”

Enough consciousness had seeped into Fitzgerald’s being that he was able to slap the table. “Now, young Hannigan. Nothing could be easier. You have the right forms?” A nod. “You’ve followed procedure and asked the right questions?”

“I have.”

“Then there is no problem.” He shifted his weight and turned his attention inward.

“But Sarge, the answers made no sense!”

Fitzgerald sighed and knew that sleep was banished. “Well, then. Let’s have it. Who’s missing?”

“Global Warming.”

“And what’s that, then?” A shrug was his answer. He sighed. “How long has it been missing?”

“Lady said about sixteen years, maybe seventeen.”

“Seventeen years! Good God in Heaven, you’re having me on.” Hannigan stood his ground.

“Who made the complaint?”

“Somebody called Fanny Armstrong. Said she was a movie director. Called from some kind of ‘solar movie tent’ over by the U.N.” In answer to the look on Fitzgerald’s face, he said, “What she said, Sarge.”

“Gimme the number.” Hannigan handed over the paperwork and made his way to the coffee pot. As he was stirring his two sugars he heard Fitzgerald make contact.

“Mrs. Armstrong…Ah, sorry, then. Miss Armstrong…Oh, Mizz, is it? Well, then, Mizz. This is Sergeant Fitzgerald from the 17th precinct. I understand you are looking for, what was it, ‘Global Warming’?…Yes, yes…I see…Yes, quite understandable. But Mizz Armstrong, what puzzles us is why you waited for—what was it?—seventeen years before making a complaint?…Ah, you do, then…Yes…No, I see that could be a problem…No, Mizz, I don’t mind holding.”

Hannigan placed a coffee on Fitzgerald’s desk. The Sergeant took a sip then covered the microphone with his hand. “Mizz Armstrong is taking a call from His Eminence Ban Ki Moon.” More coffee.

“You were right about that tent-thing, Hannigan. This Global Warming, as far as I can make out, is to be featured in some movie premiere, a world-wide broadcast. They’re in a panic because their star can’t be found. Fetch me a new pen, now, would you? This one is dry.”

Fitzgerald sipped at his coffee and settled back to wait, but not for long. “Ah, Mizz. Mr Moon doing well, is he?…Good, good. Remember me to him, would you? Mention parking tickets…Don’t worry, he’ll know. Now, we need some facts before we can help. For instance, what does this Global Warming look like?…Uh huh…Yes…yes…Are you sure, Mizz?…Well, the reason I ask, Mizz, is that the description doesn’t match anything that we…True, Mizz, true. Just a second. Let me ask one of my men who knows the area well.”

“Hannigan, there. Young Mizz says that Global Warming can be found in the temperature record. Just you have a look at it. She says that it will show as a steady, dangerously increasing line, starting from about 1970.”

“Nothing like that here, Sarge. The series seems to be going down or holding steady, and has been for a long time.”

“Did you check the outer boroughs? Be careful with Staten Island. Being that close to the ocean can hide changes in diurnal temperature variations.”

“No, Sarge, nothing. Not anywhere in the world. No record of a Global Warming answering to her description.”

“You heard, Mizz?…No. I assure you our records are quite complete…Um, hmm…Yes. Well, let’s put it this way. How do you even know this Global Warming exists? You’ve never actually see it…Michael Mann? No, Mizz, I have not. Christopher Nolan?…No, sorry. Me and the Mrs. prefer quiet evenings at home…I see…That is a lot of movie stars you have there…What is the name of your film?…The Age of Stupid, is it?…About how people ignore Global Warming? Perhaps they should, since it doesn’t seem to exist?…No, sorry; just a wee joke. Don’t you worry, Mizz. With all those celebrities involved, nobody will even notice that your Global Warming is missing…Quite, sure, Mizz…You have a nice day, too.” He hung up the phone and said to Harrigan, “Another case solved.”

Hannigan went to his desk to finish his paperwork, glad he didn’t have to go out. Fitzgerald again crossed himself, closed his eyes, and said a silent prayer to St. Genesius. “Save us from celebrities if you can. They’re a nervous bunch.”

Monday Mail

Incest can be swell.


I’m several hundred emails behind. This weekend, always the slowest of the year, allowed me to catch up some. I appreciate very much all the missives and apologize if everybody doesn’t get a timely reply. My backlog of story ideas—which I am thrilled you all send in—goes back to 2011. All great, meaty ideas. Keep ‘em comin’!

To help catch up, I’m going all British style for a few running Mondays, with brief quips and links.

Note: unless you tell me not to, I assume it’s okay to say who sent what.

Krauss comes out for brotherly & sisterly love

“Nothing” specialist Larry Krauss (@LKrauss1), über-skeptic, recently said “It is not clear for me that incest is wrong.” It’s also not clear to him that something is not nothing. He stubbornly will not acknowledge that the “laws” of physics, quantum mechanical fields, and the “multi-verse” is not nothing. My bet is he knows of his critics but is too vain to admit to error.

Incest, says he, is an “empirical taboo”, meaning “most cultures” shun it because incestual matings result in politicians and other genetic defectives. Yet that only pushes the problem back a level. Why is having defectives wrong? And why is whatever reason you have for that right or wrong? No: you always end up flapping in the breeze; unless, that is, you can build morality on a solid foundation. “Nothing” holds nothing up. Being Itself can support everything.

Watch the video. He’s okay with a brother and sister going at it, as long as they use contraception and as long as they “love” each other and that their behavior “doesn’t affect anything else.”

Incest clip sent in by Anonymous.

Iowa Democrats Thank Not God

Iowa Democrats thanked “God” for abortions.

We give thanks, oh Lord, for the doctors, both current and future, who provide quality abortion care…

Today we pray for the families who have chosen. May they know the blessing of choice…

We pray for women who have been made afraid by their paternalistic religion.

I think these ladies are on their way to Switzerland.

Found this myself.

Bill Watterson Abides

Cartoon, via Mark Shea.

Nut Nudges

Cass Sunstein, yet another of Obama’s retired “czars” and now “Harvard” professor, thinks people don’t “fear” global warming enough.

Sunstein thinks that even though global warming has not yet struck, it will. With a vengeance! It will be Sharknado City all over the place. If only we could get people to believe! We must overcome common sense and the plain evidence of a steady thermometer and assure them that if only we increase the size, scope, and power of government, all will be well.

It’s not clear, but it looks like Sunstein wants to create a government agency which will hide agents behind bushes dressed like global warming. Whenever citizens pass by, they’d jump out and frighten the begeebers out of them. And thus, in their induced nervousness, vote for the Establishment in greater numbers.

All above me, but then, as I said, Sunstein is at “Harvard”, which makes what he says gospel.

Sent in by Willie Soon.

Guns reduce crime?

Take the headline “Harvard gun study concludes gun bans don’t reduce the murder rate.” I haven’t looked at his, and probably won’t, except to note that everywhere this appeared it had a headline which mentioned the place of origin of the authors.

Is it a case of “It’s Harvard, gosh” or “I thought all the profs at Harvard were unthinking, reflexive lefties, all of whom despise guns and freedom, so this new gun stuff must be true”? Or it is the standard appeal to authority fallacy? You tell me.

Sent by Al Perrella.

SSM is too political

Not as in exceedingly, but as in “It is, too!” Proof? The organization to be least affected and indeed likely to suffer a lack of clients, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, felt it had to issue an “official endorsement.

Abolish gender!

A substantial and growing proportion of the professoriate ready to chuck out science and embrace lunacy in the goal of not hurting feelings. Take Dr Russell Luyt, a specialist in gender and identity at Anglia Ruskin University, who said

Gender is another social category, like race or social class. It remains something we consider important in differentiating between people.

My feeling is that gender is a social construct, something that we have imagined into being. It’s not real but it has a real importance in terms of how we act and feel and behave.

One interesting question is why even ask it in the first place and what makes it an important category for birth certificates?

Hire me!

I accept remuneration in any currency. Or donate (in lieu of advertising!).

The Genetic Fallacy: He Works For An Oil Company!

The COMT gene “for” altruism is mighty selfish.

This post originally appeared on 17 April 2013. Readers are invited to suggest other fallacies they would like covered.

The genetic fallacy is committed when a proposition is accepted or rejected because of its origin, history, who speaks it, or who paid for it to be spoken.

It is one of the most popular of all fallacies, probably because it is the most fun. You get to raise your eyebrow when using it, and even leer. It is like gossip because it makes you feel superior and need only be put in the form of an unsubstantiated aspersion. It is thus the favorite fallacy of journalists and activists.

An example, which is said in a whisper between two people or boldly shouted if on a website or newspaper, is: “What he says can’t be true. His organization accepts money from a certain corporation. You know the one I mean.” Examples of corporations are Apple, Abercrombie & Fitch, or New York Times Company.

So if you criticize Greenpeace or the Sierra Club by saying they accept money from oil companies, it does not prove that whatever Greenpeace or the Sierra Club says about oil (and its derivatives) is therefore true or false.

So if you criticize a Columbia University professor by saying she is a convicted bomber and accomplice to murder and is otherwise thoroughly disagreeable, it does not prove that what this professor says about sociology is therefore true or false. This example works at several universities.

So if you criticize an NPR reporter by saying his salary is based upon money from corporate advertisers, it does not prove that whatever the reporter says about rivals to those corporations (rivals who did not advertise) is therefore true or false.

So if you criticize a Nineteenth Century philosopher who claimed Utopia would evince once the State was in control of all, it does not prove that his philosophy was true or false because it was uttered so long ago.

So if you criticize a politician by saying he was lobbied furiously (including receiving generous campaign donations) by MoveOn.org, it does not prove that the bill sponsored by the politician is therefore good or bad.

So if you criticize a scientist by saying he accepted grants from an ever-increasing government, and that his entire career is based on the government so increasing, it does not prove that the conclusion reached by the scientist is therefore right or wrong.

Further examples of people who take money or accept consideration to provide opinions: everybody. Except hermits and my Uncle Donald.

Don’t confuse the genetic fallacy with the gene fallacy, which is all the rage among the over-educated. This fallacy claims we are all slaves to our selfish—or rather “selfish”, which does not mean selfish but something else like selfish but not—genes. This fallacy claims our thoughts, will, and reason are fully determined by “blind” genetic forces. It is likely this fallacy is embraced because it is so wildly at odds with commonsense, and is a way to separate occult masters from the endarkened masses.

Full disclosure Your author, unlike Greenpeace, has never, very unfortunately, received any consideration from any oil or tobacco company, nor any of their subsidiaries—even though he would have taken the money were it offered.

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