William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

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“The Church Believes In Science.” And That Global Warming Is Akin To Slavery?

Picture from Der Spiegel

Picture from Der Spiegel

Der Spiegel conducted an interview with the President of the Pontifical Science Academy Bischop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo. It’s worth going over a few of the questions (I used Google translate).

His Excellency doesn’t think Pope Francis will attend the Paris climate conference, but claims the rumored environmental encyclical will arrive in June or July. Now to the meat.

Bishop S. says the Pope was “disappointed” by the last climate festival in Peru. Because, he says, or says the Pope says, “There was a lack of courage, the participants have stopped at the decisive point.” This is false. There was lots of courage, but no will; because, as is not surprising, not all countries wanted to be saddled by yet another bureaucracy or to pay enormous sums to be used in ways nobody was quite clear about.

The good Bishop went on to say these curious words:

[H]umanity, created in the image of God, should be the guardian of creation. But climate change has had to bear adverse effects on the poorest two thirds of humanity who have no access to fossil fuels, but the consequences of consumption. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, patriarch of Constantinople, Opel, compared to climate change at the conference of religious leaders in December with modern slavery.

Man should be the guardian of creation. But from that dictum very little follows. Does guardianship imply a mandatory global carbon tax? Or the empowering of a group of pests to oversee the daily activity of citizens? Obviously not.

It is false that man-caused climate change bore “adverse effects on the poorest two thirds of humanity”. It is true that a lot of folks still do not have ready access to fossil fuels. Solution? Provide the access, which consists mainly in removing the impediments to access. It’s fossil fuels, a.k.a. cheap energy, that also accounts for the availability of inexpensive sustenance. We can fix (real) poverty with oil. Given, of course, we first fix political will. Nobody has figured that out.

And so the mouthful Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople says climate change is equivalent to slavery. Ah, yes. I myself had my hat nearly blown off my head by a strong breeze the other day. I felt so degraded. And the government did nothing to stop it! What I most want to know is from whom do I demand reparations?

Is it helpful or harmful to hoist hyperbolic metaphors into service?

Anyway, Bishop Sorondo is sure that Paris will result in an increase in worldly government. I doubt it, but he might be right.

Der Spiegel asked, “Why the Church is committed at once so strong for the environment?” And the Bish answered, “Because they believe in the science” (“Weil sie an die Wissenschaft glaubt”). Note that this is the science and not just science as was summarized in the Der Spiegel headline. Naughty editor, there.

But it isn’t true. What is true is that Bishop Sorondo believes in some but not all of climatological science. The part he is apparently unaware of is the old-fashioned science rule that theories which make consistently rotten wrong unskillfull predictions must be wrong. As must be the theories that drive climate models. Because they stink.

If you say you believe in science, you cannot pick and choose just those parts most pleasing to you. It’s all or nothing.

Amusingly, Der Spiegel, shocked that the Church agrees with any kind of science, brought up the old Galileo fairy tale, which His Excellency modestly countered. But the reporter was confused and asked (the tortuous grammar is from the automatic translation), “Even with current scientific topics, the Church is often against the expertise of researchers, so really believes them to the results?” The interaction continued:

Sánchez Sorondo: To believe in the science does not mean so that the church could not make moral judgments.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: contradictions of scientific expertise, such as the subject of birth control, AIDS, cloning or the search for extraterrestrial life, are moral judgments?

Sánchez Sorondo: The Church is against birth control, because it believes it is a contradiction to the laws of nature. The Church is against the use of embryonic stem cells, because it also keeps the embryo in the earliest stage of human beings. To clone we do not have any official position. But in the search for extraterrestrials, the church is very open. The church has also always believed in angels, so it has no problems with it, to imagine another life, which has also been endowed with reason. But we need to find just now!

The reporter’s confusion is common, the result of a culture swimming in scientism. This is the fallacy that all questions eventually are answered, “Science!

But what’s this about the Church not having a position on cloning? That doesn’t seem to be the case.

We’ll have to talk more about the PAS soon.

Pew’s Public and Scientists’ Views on Science and Society Survey

pewsurvey
Pew did a survey on the Public and Scientists’ Views on Science and Society that is of modest interest. Turns out civilians love whitecoats.

Science holds an esteemed place among citizens and professionals. Americans recognize the accomplishments of scientists in key fields and, despite considerable dispute about the role of government in other realms, there is broad public support for government investment in scientific research.

Love scientists they might, but civilians don’t always agree with them. The featured picture shows a set of questions and the percent agreement of American Association for the Advancement of Science scientists and civilians, and the agreement “gap” or discrepancy.

Take the discrepancy between “Safe to eat genetically modified foods”: 88% of scientists say yes, 37% of the public say no. Scientists would, ceteris paribus, know more than civilians about genetics and should be trusted. So should they be believed when they say it’s “Safe to eat foods grown with pesticides”, which has a gap of 40%. Scientists also know more about (the non-stellarly worded) “Humans have evolved over time”, which has a gap of 33%.

In one way, scientists are one up on civilians about “Childhood vaccines such as MMR should be required”, an 18% gap. But now wholly. Scientists can say what would happen given such-and-such a percentage of kids were not vaccinated for disease X, but the consequences of the things that happen are not scientific but moral questions. Should all kids be forced by the government to be injected with Gardasil, a vaccination which does carry the risk of side effects, or should they rather be taught to keep their pants on? Not a scientific question.

Ordinarily, you’d expect scientists to have superior knowledge about whether “Climate change is mostly due to human activity”. Mostly?! But that field is ruled more by politics than physics, so the civilians have an edge. Civilians are right to say that we cannot make this claim with anything approaching confidence, but most civilians, except to emphasize the politics, can’t articulate why. This is not a good situation.

Another knowledge imbalance comes with “Favor building more nuclear power plants”, a 20% gap. Who better than a physicist to describe energy output? These same folks can also tell you what would happen in a meltdown—and how exceedingly unlikely such a thing is. But not all scientists are trustworthy. Remember when our Surgeon General advised Americans to take iodized salt after Fukushima? I was in San Francisco at the time and saw a run on containers of Morton’s. Many rolled gently down Stockton as crowds of worried mothers plunged into the huge stack of boxes.

“Growing world population will be a major problem”, a 23% gap, is trickier. Most of the growth will be in people not dying as soon as they used to. This will be a problem in societies like Japan where, we have read, the sale of adult diapers now exceeds baby nappies. What to do about this is only marginally a scientific question. (Eliminate porn, perhaps? The Japanese aren’t having sex.)

The statement itself is ambiguous. One interpretation is that people can increase without number. They cannot. If, in any area, food is scarce, people will not reproduce. Human reproduction is self-limiting. Localized famines can occur, of course, but there can’t be new people (in any area) when there is not enough food. It is because of the increase in cheap food and energy that population has increased.

The survey goes on about other things. The most curious is this. 84% of scientists think it’s a major problem that the “Public doesn’t know much about science”. And the reason for this, the majority of them say, is “Not enough K-12 STEM” and “Lack of public interest in science news.” One follows from the other. Who has interest in subjects which they don’t understand?

More education is always the call. At the risk of sounding elitist…the heck with the risk. Elitist is what we should be. Any body of advanced knowledge—and science is only one of these—is elitist by definition. Scientific truths are not easily won. It takes not only effort, which more attention to education can cure, but also ability, which it won’t. There’s a very good reason only a tiny fraction of people end up as scientists. It’s the same reason, in nature, why most people aren’t in the NBA. It isn’t easy and not everybody is capable.

Interestingly, 34% of civilians say “Private investment is enough” to fund science, an increase from 2009’s survey. Then 48% of scientists say this is a “Bad time” for scientist, also an increase; more than a doubling. Why? Because 83% say “Federal funding” is harder to find. Ah. So the expansion-team syndrome has struck. There are too many scientists, which necessarily drains more money and also produces a greater proportion of lousy work.

Why must scientists always go begging to government? What makes government beneficent and disinterested? Nothing.

Proof? Read the linked article and consider this survey finding. Some 58% of scientists say that science “Always/Most of time” best guides government regulation in “New drug and medical treatment.” They’re less sanguine about how science influences “Land us” and “Clean air and water” regulations. The secret is out. Science—good or bad—is increasingly relied on by government for the express purpose of regulating. As in The Science Has Spoken.

The Fourth Crisis Of The Church & Pope Francis

Athanasius was not too popular with the powers that were.

Athanasius was not too popular with the powers that were.

In lieu of our continuing tour through Summa Contra Gentiles, this post. The site that hosts the book is having hiccups—a subject which I know all about. Let’s pray it’s back by next week or we’ll have to seek new a new source.

We have the right pope for our times. Stick with me because what I mean by this is subtle.

Background first. I was watching Michael Voris’s video (is it just me or does anybody else wish he’d smile every so often?) the other day about Bishop Athanasius Schneider and his statement that “We are in the fourth great crisis of the Church”.. His Excellency is the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana, Kazakhstan, and, reports are—I have this from people who met him—a most holy man.

What were the first three crises? Crudely:

  1. A bishop of the Church, Arius, decided the Christ was Superman but not God. And he got quite a few people to follow him, before he died a most horrific death. The Pope at the time, siding with Arius, actually excommunicated that most tenacious defender of the faith, Saint Athanasius (what would bloggers have said about this?). This was the first major split.
  2. Some bishops and priests of the Church thought the pope ought not to receive any special distinction and that the State should. This lead to the division of the East and West. The bright spot is that divorce is showing small signs of repairing itself.
  3. A priest of the Church, Martin Luther, was dissatisfied by the way the Church ran its business (a healthy complaint), but he also thought it would be grand if everybody could eschew tradition and interpret the Bible as they may. This would be like allowing civilians to define, say, quantum mechanics as the spirit moves them—which happens and is how we ended up with Deepak Chopra, and with innumerable Protesting Christian sects, most of which are filled with earnest, and honest, and faithful people, a circumstance which is not stopping them from melting away like the wicked witch of the West.

Bishop Schenider says the fourth crisis is caused by certain priests and bishops of the Church embracing a “new paganism”. This is so but perhaps there exists better, more evocative names. I think loss of essence superior.

It is the essence of man to be a rational creature. It is his nature to procreate: the division of the sexes is part of this nature, and must be acknowledged. Marriage must be the union between a man and woman, and because the essence of this union is procreation, the mating must be for life and should be without impediment (there’s a good euphemism for you). That means families are a natural part of our existence (acknowledged since Aristotle’s day, rejected finally in ours). Holding to essence—to natural law, that is—logically implies that any situation differing from these must be against Truth and should be resisted.

Western culture is running away from essence faster than a congressman does his obligations. This is why there are members of the Church saying that women can be priests (funny they never argue men should be nuns), that contraception and abortion are hunky dory, that those with same-sex attraction are not harming themselves or others by acting on their lusts and that their unions of two (for now) should be blessed in the Church. This is why they are saying divorce is okay, why “gender” is something we construct and is not based in biological reality.

You know the rest. Disbelief in essence, wedded to a profound manic irrational desire for Equality in everything, defines The Crisis. If not contravened, it will corrode the Church—and the whole of the West, too, for that matter.

Now to the Pope. Anybody who follows the Church knows that Pope Francis likes to shoot from the hip—whether he’s wearing his pistols or not (I can torture metaphors better than most). Harsh, perplexing words come out of his mouth one day, which are followed the next by corrections and amplifications; not from the Pope, but from his staff and others.

Last October, the Synod on the Family Part I resulted in a comic spectacle where modern versions of Bishop Arius released a document which not only denied the essence of man, but said that man was of a fluid, self-defined nature. From this it somehow followed that those who prefer sex outside marriage have special “gifts and qualities” with “sexual orientations” which should be “valued”. (The final relatio was modified, to a certain extent, but the writers of the first draft still exist.)

The Pope doesn’t correct himself publicly. He is seemingly content to let both the right and the left applaud or react with dismay. Yet his behavior has particularly emboldened the left. Gone are the whispers for female ordination and blessing of same-sex attraction: now come defiant public pronouncements and demands.

The Pope has succeeded in drawing the enemies of essence into the open. The enemies of natural law have left themselves with no retreat. Whether the Pope did this out of cunning or merely because the Holy Spirit knew what He was doing (or both) is beside the point. This is the right Pope for our time. What does it all mean?

The Synod reconvenes this October. Since the Church is not a political organization but the Body of Christ, the result must be the upholding of doctrine. Dogma will not change. It can’t. To say that this will not please the new pagans in the Church (I saw nothing about the opinions of those outside her walls) is as gross an understatement as claiming our National Debt is harmless.

Shocked horror. Panic. Actual fainting. Torn and abandoned vestments. Weeping and gnashing of teeth. A split; schism, even. Those who would align themselves with the decadent culture, those who would be “on the right side of history“, those who would abandon their very nature will throw a conniption fit more powerful than the eruption of Vesuvius. It will wondrous to watch.

The only uncertainty is tempo. No previous crisis played out in Hollywood time, thus it is rational to conclude this spiritual civil war, which Bishop Athanasius said started the first time somebody said “spirit of Vatican II”, will be years of calumny and heartbreak. How many? Five? Ten? Twenty? You tell me.

Government Funding Is A Conflict Of Interest: Cowardly Calls For Climate Scientist’s Firing. Update

willie

The Beast

What entity pours by far the most money into scientific research? I’ll give you a hint. It’s the same entity that has been growing without bound, mercilessly muscling aside all competitors who would encroach into its space. It’s an entity which has a keen and abiding interest in the research it funds. An entity with desires. This entity cares results from its funded research turns out this way and not that.

No, not an oil company. Nay, not Apple corporation. Not even a pharmaceutical. It’s Uncle Sam!

Did you not know the scientists who receive Uncle’s lusciously large lasting grants are the same scientists who sit on the committees which award the grants? Conflict? It’s true the various wealthy agencies have a permanent and ever-burgeoning staff (see Parkinson’s Law and this) which shuffles the booty to and fro, but they’re advised by transient academics who today are at their home institutions standing erect with their hands out, and tomorrow are on the Metro to the NIH to sit (erect) in judgment of their peers.

Yes, the same people who award the grants are those that receive them.

Didn’t you know this? It’s true a man can’t award himself a grant, but he can give one to his pal and neighbor, and when its his pal and neighbor’s turn to sit on the review committee, he can and does return the favor.

But aren’t grants anonymous? Sure, some of them are. In the same way you think your online presence is anonymous. It takes almost a full minute of scrutiny in most cases to discover the name of the pleader. And many times there is no pretense of anonymity. This makes it easy to punish your enemies and boost your buddies.

What about the nature of the grants?

If the EPA solicits applications for the grant “Find something wrong with this power plant” do you think their pleadings will go in vain? No, sir, they will not. Dozens upon dozens of imploring missives will arrive at headquarters, all promising to finger the culprit. And do you think the investigations of the winner (and now richer researcher) will disappoint? No, sir, these investigations will not. Besides the ordinary willingness to please found in cooperative well-fed persons, there is also the promise of future monies for a job well done.

Not only will the researcher gladly suck at the government teat, strengthening his own bank account, but the researcher’s boss will benefit, too. For in each government gift is attached the miracle of overhead. This amounts to an additional 50% (more or less) of the grant’s value, a sum which goes to the researcher’s boss to spend as he pleases.

As he pleases, I say.

Overhead can be, and has been, spent on all nature of things. New offices and furnishings. Wintertime junkets to sunny uplands. Hiring of nephews and nieces. This overhead is very pleasing to the researcher’s Dean and the Dean’s guard of deanlettes. The Dean encourages grants for this reason, making sure to hire just those folks who are likely to bring in more government overhead.

The system feeds on itself.

For these and for many more similar reasons, the biggest conflict of interest in scientific research is government grants. It is an open scandal of monstrous proportions that scientists who receive government money do not declare that they might have been influenced, that they never admit their interest (beyond saying, “This grant was funded by grant xxx-yyy”).

Climate chaos

And so we come to one of the most cowardly unethical asinine foolhardy pig-ignorant acts we have witnessed in the thing we used to call Science.

You can see the picture above. It’s being passed around by the juvenile simpleton—this is an provable accusation, not meaningless abuse—named Greg Laden. He would like to see Willie Soon fired from his job, because why? Because, and I quote the ass,

Apparently, his research is paid by the fossil fuel industry.

The research in question is the paper “Why models run hot: results from an irreducibly simple climate model” written by Lord Monckton, Wille Soon, David Legates, and Yours Truly. See Climate Paper Causes Chaos, Angst, Anger, Apoplexy! (Hacking?) for more details.

Not one penny, not one iota of consideration of any kind, was received from any source for the writing of this paper. It was a labor of love, done on personal time (of which, for my heresies, I have mountains). We wrote and re-wrote, and re-wrote some more, then decided which journal might enjoy seeing the paper. We knew (see Climategate) our names alone would cause its rejection from the usual “Consensus” sources. So we went where we were not known, figuring the work would be judged on its merits and not its politics. It was.

We submitted. Then we endured a grueling peer-review process (your proctologist was not as thorough). Our paper was accepted. And that’s it.

That makes Laden’s insinuation a lie. No fossil fuel industry funding was received. And even if it was, the details I gave you about the true source of tainting money in research also proves that there is nothing special about oil money. Indeed, oil money is less influential because (1) there’s much, much less of it, and (2) there is not the habit of the same people who receive the grants also awarding them.

The believers in science-is-politics who have organized the petition have attracted “21,263 signers so far“. This is a crowd that wouldn’t be able to define convection. This is a crowd that knows nothing about global warming, but they sure as heck believe in its solution.

Idiots.

Update

Laden is still deleting my comments from his site. He can dish it out (albeit weakly) but he can’t take it. My latest asks him whether he curls up at night in the dark wondering if he will be sued. Here’s what Laden tweeted.

If you can’t read it, it says, “That Briggs guy is some sort of nut job, isn’t he? Hadn’t heard of him before.” Laden still blocks me from reading his direct tweets (I can read this because it has my handle in it).

And the amusing thing about this is that it caught the interest of the smug maniac (and academic philosopher) Lawrence Torcello, who said “misinformation” (defined by him, a man almost completely ignorant of physics) about the climate “criminally negligent”. We met him before here. About this article this fallacy propagator tweeted (among others):

Torcello calls this post the result of some sort of “conspiracy ideation” and says “Mere ideation need not be in error. It’s my duty as a philosopher to be precise. :)” He said before that (in the article linked) “Deniers” are “criminally negligent in their willful disregard for human life.” This is a philosopher being precise.

Torcello, the precise academic philosopher, also says this:

Which reads, “Why is it that every time students protest a campus speaker someone accuses them of wanting to squelch free speech? Students have it too.”

These are the people in charge of the academy, folks.

Update Torcello the academic philosopher responded to me on Twitter. This brief exchange ought to tell you everything you should know about our enemies.

After pointing out Torcello was a maniac for calling for the arrest of his enemies, he tweeted:

Which reads “Are we playing make believe argument? Then Briggs is that maniac who calls for the breeding of dogs with oranges.” Huh? I responded:

Which reads, “So, Torcello, learn any physics yet? Like models which cannot make skillful forecasts should be abandoned?” He answered with this non sequitur:

Which reads, “I’ve learned that people who promote conspiratorial nonsense shouldn’t be indulged.” My last response was:

Which reads, “Tell me. Do you try to educate yourself in physics or do you seek those who tell you you don’t have to?”

He answered this not at all.

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