William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Page 145 of 701

Coming Clean On My Global Warming Funding

This is everything.

This is everything.

Since the “Why models run hot” flap started a witch hunt in Congress, I thought I’d give the complete story of my funding for any work of any kind done on climatology since after I graduated Cornell. When I was a student I made about $13,000 a year.

I have received $110 in direct cash payments from donors (for which I am immensely and most sincerely grateful). That’s one hundred ten. United States dollars. This all came within the last three months. So I’m gathering up speed.

A generous reader sent me to the Heartland Conference last year, picking up the tickets, registration, and hotel bill (was it one night or two?). This ran to, say, six or seven hundred. I didn’t speak (wasn’t invited) but I did blog about the event, as regular readers will remember.

When I was a professor at the Cornell Medical School, they sent me to three or four AMS meetings and the like. Call it $3,000.

And one I nearly forgot. I was at the first Heartland Conference many years ago. I got some kind of honorarium for a talk on hurricanes (and boy was I boring: this was before I learned what I now know about statistics), the exact same talk I had given to the AMS annual conference a couple of months before that. This was around $1,000. I did the work on the hurricane papers on my own (I don’t recommend reading them).

Round it up to, say, $5,000. Spread over more than a decade. Because you’re my friends, I can tell you I blew that $110 all on whiskey and cigars.

How much did I get for “Why models run hot”? Nothing.

Of course, you have to balance that hefty five grand by the amount I’ve lost. For instance, I was being groomed to take over a spot at Lawrence Livermore lab a few years back (Ben Santer’s playground). And then, one day, the powers-that-were there suddenly forgot who I was. Emails and phone calls were never returned. Right, Bill?

I had another job lined up with a firm whose purpose was to expose bad science. But they backed off and said they didn’t want themselves to become known as working with a “denier.” I’d tell you who they were, but I signed a non-disclosure. They weren’t the first or last.

An interview I had with a small teaching college (“our students come first” kind of place) is typical. I did so well that I was brought into the office of the chair and shown just where to buy houses (there is obviously more to this story than I’m telling here). But later a department member found my website. This kind of thing has happened more than once.

Although, to be fair, this particular incident was exacerbated because I admitted that I would not write any government grants. I might have been forgiven for being a “denier”. But to refuse to bring in government money? Never. That’s academic freedom for you. It also hasn’t helped me that I don’t want to teach frequentist statistics to impressionable kids and fill their skulls with fallacies. Academic freedom insists you teach what you’re told. Of course, my stance that Diversity equates Mandated Uniformity is somewhat of a taint. Academic freedom again.

Understand I’m not complaining: it’s these schools’ money and they’re free to spend it any way they wish. Until the government makes it spend it the way they insist. I just don’t think the term “academic freedom” has any meaning.

That new CATO group was going to hire me on, at least to write some pieces for them. But I got a call that said one of the VPs there couldn’t work with me because of my stance on gay so-called marriage. Guess I’m a “denier” on that one, too.

And this is why I say on my “Who’s WMB” page that except for two weeks a year I am “completely independent”, a pleasant enough euphemism. At least it’s giving me time to finish this damned book about a better way to think about and do probability and statistics (almost there; stay tuned).

That’s about it. I do not jest when I say I’m thisclose to using what I learned by working with my father and setting up as a handyman.

Fair’s fair. Now let’s hear from the other side. If they have the guts.

Summary Against Modern Thought: That God Is One II

This may be proved in three ways. The first...

This may be proved in three ways. The first…

See the first post in this series for an explanation and guide of our tour of Summa Contra Gentiles. All posts are under the category SAMT.

Previous post.

Finishing the God is one argument this week. Many words, but boy do they flow. If you’ve been following the discussion, this should be a breeze. But if not, review the subjects of essence and existence, and recall the in God they are the same.

Chapter 42 That God is One Two (as in Part two)

[9] Furthermore, given two gods that are posited as agreeing in the necessity of being, either that in which they differ is in some way required for the completion of their necessity of being, or it is not. If it is not, then it is something accidental, because that which accrues to a thing without contributing to its being is an accident. Hence, this accident has a cause, which is, consequently, either the essence of the necessary being or something else. If its essence, then, since the necessity itself of being is its essence, as is evident from what was said above, the necessity of being will be the cause of that accident. But the necessity of being is found in both gods. Therefore, both will have that accident, and thus will not be distinguished with reference to it. If, however, the cause of the accident is something else, it follows that, unless that something else existed, this accident would not exist; and unless this accident existed, the aforesaid distinction would not exist. Therefore, unless that something else existed, these two supposed necessary beings would not be two but one. Therefore, the proper being of each depends on the other, and thus neither of them is through itself a necessary being…

[11] It is, therefore, not possible to posit many beings of which each is through itself a necessary being.

Notes In other words, it isn’t and can’t be turtles all the way down, which each one giving something to another which the other doesn’t have.

[12] What is more, if there are two gods, either the name God is predicated of both univocally, or equivocally. If equivocally, this is outside our present purpose. Nothing prevents any given thing from being equivocally named by any given name, provided we admit the usage of those who express the name. But if it be used univocally, it must be predicated of both according to one notion, which means that, in notion, there must be in both one nature. Either, therefore, this nature is in both according to one being, or according to a being that is other in each case. If according to one, there will not be two gods, but only one, since there cannot be one being for two things that are substantially distinguished. If each has its own being, therefore in neither being will the quiddity be its being. Yet this must be posited in God, as we have proved. Therefore, neither of these two beings is what we understand by the name God. It is, therefore, impossible to posit two gods…

Notes Shorter version: since God’s existence and essence are one, as previously proved, to say there are two (or more) gods is to speak equivocally.

[13] …therefore there cannot be several beings of which each is a necessary being. It is, consequently, impossible that there be several gods.

[15] Furthermore, either the nature signified by the name God is individuated through itself in this God, or it is individuated through something else. If through something else, composition must result. If through itself, then it cannot possibly belong to another, since the principle of individuation cannot be common to several, It is impossible, therefore, that there be several gods.

[16] If, again, there are several gods, the nature of the godhead cannot be numerically one in two of them. There must, therefore, be something distinguishing the divine nature in this and in that god. But this is impossible, because, as we have shown above, the divine nature receives the addition neither of essential differences nor of accidents. Nor yet is the divine nature the form of any matter, to be capable of being divided according to the division of matter. It is impossible, therefore, that there be two gods.

Notes Of course, this follows even if you’re not yet convinced God exists. And if you are not yet convinced, you need to go back and re-read especially Chapter 13. And the material proving God is pure act, actuality only, and in Him there is no potential or accidents (if you like, parts that are not essential).

[17] Then, too, the proper being of each thing is only one. But God is His being, as we have shown. There can, therefore, be only one God…

[19] Furthermore, we notice in each genus that multitude proceeds from some unity. This is why in every genus there is found a prime member that is the measure of all the things found in that genus. In whatever things, therefore, we find that there is an agreement in one respect, it is necessary that this depend upon one source. But all things agree in being. There must, therefore, be only one being that is the source of all things. This is God.

[20] Again, in every rulership he who rules desires unity. That is why among the forms of rulership the main one is monarchy or kingship. So, too, for many members there is one head, whereby we see by an evident sign that he to whom rulership belongs should have unity. Hence, we must admit that God, Who is the cause of all things, is absolutely one…

Notes This is St Thomas being complete. I don’t think these last arguments are convincing on their own. [19] relies on earlier material on being-in-act, and where that ultimately arises. [20] seems to be missing premises about what God is up to. But, of course, we don’t need either of these two and have enough both from last week and this to prove (with certainty) there is only one God who is the ground of all being, the Unmoved Mover, etc.

Video: How To Think About Statistics, Figures, And New Ideas

Hard link to the video.

It is a delight to change the subject from the dismal used-to-be science of global warming—it would be a blessing if I never had to write of it again—to something more useful.

Now many don’t know it, but the Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen was a very learned man. He not only did these television broadcasts and a series of popular books, but he also have several scholarly works, including a volume on the philosophy of science which is highly recommended.

This short video (from 1955) is as good an introduction to statistics are you’re likely to find. Particularly in that it cautions, or rather hints over and again, that there are far better things to worship than research results. And don’t’cha just love that bit about the 12.3%? I know I do. And the good bis. even has things to say about conflicts of interest (reminder: the government, the scariest thing out there on these shores, funds most research).

At the 10:48 mark, if you don’t know. In 1936, the Literary Digest polled 10 million folks, of whom some 2.4 million replied, about who they’d vote for in the upcoming presidential election. The poll gave a guess of 370 electoral votes for Landon and 161 for Roosevelt. Oops. And don’t forget that all polls are scientific, and all are valid—for the types of people sampled (here and here).

Some juicy quotes to which we can all assent:

  • “…never take graphs and statistics too seriously.”
  • “That was the problem Kinsey had. Did everybody tell Kinsey the truth? Not on your life.”
  • “Now here’s one statistic which you can take from me that is absolutely reliable, and it’s worth remembering: 50% of all of the married people in the United States are women.”
  • “There are styles in thinking just as there are styles in clothes.”
  • “If you marry the mood or the spirit of the age, you will be a widow in the next one.”
  • “And to think well, remember that you cannot takes the methods and conclusions of one science and apply them indiscriminately to another science.”
  • “To think well, one has to have principles that are independent of space and time, by which one can live.”

Regarding that 50% of married are women statistic, you might now think it untrue and not so reliable. But it is in fact still, and ever will be, true. A number different than 50% claim to be married, but that is nothing. Sanitariums are chock-full of folks who think they are Napoleon, but the real number is none. “It is the easiest thing in the world to tumble into some mood today.”

Besides the false belief that essence can be defined at will, we have scientism.

Government Witch Hunt Of Scientists Begins: DOJ To Join In? Update! Inhofe Fights Back

Congressional subcommittee on the Investigation of Proper  Science.

Congressional subcommittee on the Investigation of Proper Science.

Please help publicize this calumny.

Agree with me about this. If—and I only say if—the global-warming-of-doom we have been promised is false, then there is nothing for government to do about it. Yes? (The ability to assent to this proposition will separate the men from the boys.)

The government, then, has a tremendous, almost overpowering conflict of interest in encouraging belief in global-warming-of-doom. Note very, very carefully that it doesn’t actually matter to government if global-warming-of-doom is true, only that a sufficient number of people believe that it is.

Now what would happen if some scientists publicly declared, using argument, equations, and all that standard sciency stuff, that global-warming-of-doom was probably false?

You guessed it. Government would seek to discredit, demean, defrock, and destroy those scientists. The government cannot bear to think of itself as unwanted and unnecessary, and so it must strike with all its might and vigor when challenged.

The witch hunt has already begun, both in the House of Representatives and the Senate, and, if a mysterious character named Gollum is right, then in the Department of Justice, too.

It started with the wholly artificial, politically manufactured attempt to take down the four authors of “Why models run hot“, a paper which challenges global-warming-of-doom based on the commonsense argument that lousy predictions are proof of false theories, and climate forecasts have been routinely lousy. The paper offers a suggestion why the models are lousy. The authors are Lord Christopher Monckton, Willie Soon, David Legates, and me.

The attack on Soon gained traction. True Believers ignorant of physics are trying to have him fired.

Nowhere was the panic clearer than in the opprobrious opportunism of Senators Edward Markey, Barbara Boxer, and Sheldon Whitehouse on the Committee on Environment and Public Works (guess their political party). They issued a press release about how they were going after 100 “fossil fuel companies, trade groups” and “Climate Denial Organizations” for their role in funding research these Senators disliked.

The Senators accused private groups of funding “scientific studies designed to confuse the public and avoid taking action to cut carbon pollution”.

This is either immoral thuggery or these Senators evince a collective mental acuity well below the historical average of that august body. My guess is the former, which is worse. Why? “[D]esigned to confuse the public”. This assumes it is government, not scientists, who gets to define and broker scientific truth. Results other than those amenable to increasing government control are marked as “confusing”; research into areas uncomfortable to regulation are to be made anathema. This is intellectual terrorism.

The government demands the names of every researcher who received funding from an organization on the hit list, how much money they got, copies of private documents, and more (the list is here).

Congressman Raul Grijalva from Arizona, ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, compiled a suspect list of seven scientists, some of whom even support global-warming-of-doom (Roger Pielke, Jr). Grijalva sent letters to the employers of these scientists (example) demanding they turnover material related to “external funding”, which includes “consulting fees, promotional considerations, speaking fees, honoraria, travel expenses, salary, compensation and other monies…that did not originate from the institution itself.”

Enter “Gollum”, a mysterious person who spoofed Soon’s name and who sent us a series of messages. Gollum is how this person alluded to himself, referring to a cryptic poem from The Hobbit.

Before every turn of the screw on Soon, Gollum sent an email gleefully anticipating it. He even knew the names on Grijalva’s enemies list in advance. On the 25th, he emailed “What will presdent [sic] say next? What will department of justice do?”

The president’s actions we already know. Mr Obama recently released a list of “deniers” and asked citizens to “join the team” in “calling” them out. Charming.

Gollum is likely an insider of some kind, perhaps a member of the cult-like Greenpeace, or maybe a reporter who received Willie Soon’s emails, or even a government functionary. At any rate, unlike global climate models, Gollum’s forecasts have never erred. So although his DOJ warning could be bluster, given what we’ve seen elsewhere, it probably isn’t.

Good thing there are still some of us—like we who wrote “Why models run hot”—can do research without funds of any kind. But ironic, is it not, that an “investigation” into the funding of science could get started by a study that used no funds.


Senate EPW Republicans Take a Stand for Academic Freedom

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OKla.), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), today led all EPW Republicans in a letter promoting scientific discovery and academic freedom. The letter was sent to the same 107 recipients of letters sent earlier this week by Congressional Democrats to universities, private companies, trade groups, and non-profit organizations, asking for detailed information on funding climate science. As explained in the EPW Republican letter sent today, there is a real concern the Democrats inquiry may impose a chilling effect on scientific inquiry and free speech.

“Rather than empower scientists and researchers to expand the public discourse on climate science and other environmental topics, the [Democrats] letter could be viewed as an attempt to silence legitimate intellectual and scientific inquiry,” said the Senators in today’s letter.

There has been a public outcry in response to the Democrats letters. Noted climate scientist, Dr. Michael Mann spoke of the letters calling them “heavy handed and overly aggressive.” Earlier today the American Meteorological Society warned that the letters sent by Congressional Democrats send a “chilling message to all academic researchers.”

“At the end of the day, those disagreeing with certain scientific findings should judge them based on whether or not they are sound and transparent,” said Chairman Inhofe.

The full text of the letter is as follows:

February 27, 2014

Dear __________,

We write in regards to the recent request for information on your support of scientific research initiated by several of our colleagues in the United States Congress. At the outset, we are deeply concerned the letter calls into question the importance of scientific discovery and academic freedom. Rather than empower scientists and researchers to expand the public discourse on climate science and other environmental topics, the letter could be viewed as an attempt to silence legitimate intellectual and scientific inquiry.

Federal government-sponsored research is good and necessary, but such funding has limits. The federal government does not have a monopoly on funding high-quality scientific research, and many of the nation’s environmental laws require decisions be based on the best scientific information available—not just federally funded research. At the core of American ingenuity are those researchers who challenge the status quo whether in matters of climate, economics, medicine, or any field of study. Institutions of higher-learning and non-governmental funding are vital to facilitating such research and scientific inquiry. Limiting research and science to only those who receive federal government resources would undermine and slow American education, economic prosperity, and technological advancement.

The credibility of a scientific finding, research paper, report, or advancement should be weighed on its compliance with the scientific method and ability to meet the principles of sound science; in short, it should be weighed on its merits. The scientific method is a process marked by skepticism and testing, rather than dogma. If the work can be reproduced and independent experts have a fair chance to validate the findings then it is sound, irrespective of funding sources. Science the federal government uses to support regulatory decisions should also comply with the integrity, quality, and transparency requirements under the Information Quality Act and Office of Management and Budget Guidelines.

Indeed, science is only one criterion we must take into consideration when developing laws and regulations. Credible deliberation requires thoughtful analysis and an understanding of the economy, policy, and legal framework in which we function. Dissenting opinions fostered through the encouragement of all ideas is what truly facilitates intellectual prosperity and political discourse.

The letter you received from our colleagues is a wholly inappropriate effort to challenge these well-accepted truths. We ask you to not be afraid of political repercussions or public attacks regardless of how you respond. Above all, we ask that you continue to support scientific inquiry and discovery, and protect academic freedom despite efforts to chill free speech.


Sen. Jim Inhofe, Chairman

Sen. David Vitter

Sen. John Barrasso

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito

Sen. Mike Crapo

Sen. John Boozman

Sen. Jeff Sessions

Sen. Rodger F. Wicker

Sen. Deb Fischer

Sen. Mike Rounds

Sen. Dan Sullivan


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