William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

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Global Warming Hypocrisy: Or, Science Is Politics

Take that, global warming! You fiend!

Take that, global warming! You fiend!

Lefties take money, too

In an interview with far-left New York Times, activist and part-time scientist Michael Oppenheimer says “nothing follows” from his taking moola from the EDF (Environmental Defense Fund; a radical group which awards “environmental justice grants”) and a “few hundred thousand from Barbara Streisand”.

Yet earlier in the interview, Oppenheimer suggests skeptical climate scientists like Willie Soon who accept funds from non-governmental sources cannot be trusted.

Oppenheimer is not a hypocrite. Science is a political tool to the Enlightened. Ideology says that capitalism must go, to be replaced by managed-from-above community of property. Therefore Science must—will—say the same thing. This is why the Science is “settled.” It is settled. It was settled long before we understood how poor climate models are. It will remain settled well after we recognize the world will not end in heat doom.

Heartland

I’ve been invited to speak at Heartland’s Tenth International Conference on Climate Change June 11 and 12th in DC on the subject of “attacks on scientists and the corruption of science.” Boy, do I know about that.

Bonus! Rumor has it that something to do with the much-anticipated Climate Hustle will also happen at this meeting. Could it be a premier? I won’t say. I can say that Yours Truly is in that documentary. Stay tuned for updates.

Autograph hounds are cautioned to bring their own pens.

Climate reparations

More proof wasn’t needed, but here from Nature magazine is witness that Science equals politics. “Global-warming limit of 2?oC hangs in the balance: Panel creates scientific baseline for debate about climate reparations.

Reparations? Meaning redistributing monies from those who have lots to those who have little. And who could argue with that? It sounds fair. “Led by low-lying island nations and many of the poorest countries — which are likely to be hit hardest by rising seas and extreme weather…” We never tire of the old joke “World Ends: Poor Hardest Hit” do we.

“For many poor countries, the debate is about social justice…” Thus speaks a mind already made up. Climatology is social justice, Science is politics.

Prostitutes

Last week, Congresswoman “Barbara Lee proposed a resolution in the House of Representatives that claims women will eventually be forced into prostitution in order to obtain life-sustaining food and water for their families.”

“Women will disproportionately face harmful impacts from climate change,” Lee’s resolution reads. It continues claiming, “Food insecure women with limited socioeconomic resources may be vulnerable to situations such as sex work, transactional sex, and early marriage that put them at risk for HIV, STIs, unplanned pregnancy, and poor reproductive health.”

Science is politics. I’ll let you guess the Congresswoman’s party.

Fight song

U.S. to submit plans to fight global warming; most others delay.

Ever notice how progressives (and neocons) always want to “fight” whatever it is they’re against? Fight HIV, fight cancer, fight global warming, fight fight fight. How militaristic.

For fun, I searched “join the fight against” and found I could take up arms against: extreme poverty, sexism, ISIS, hydro rates (yes), muscular atrophy, cruelty, women’s cancers (men deserve what’s coming to them), human trafficking, and many more.

Why, even “Feared terror group al-Qaeda discussed strategies to combat CLIMATE CHANGE“. Hard to behead climate, though.

If only we could join forces and fight together to combat the climate from changing! Why, if we spill enough of the right blood, we can keep the climate from changing completely. Yes, a complete static climate is what we’re after. We won’t stand for anything else! Let’s march! Let’s craft giant puppets!

Debate

Remember the debate over climate model goodness which ensued when our world-shaking “Why models run hot” came out?

Neither do I. Instead, panicked progressives, for whom the Science is settled, and despite loud and insistent warnings from people such as Yours Truly, managed to change the subject. And we let them.

Now don’t you feel back? Let’s get back to what’s really important, shall we?


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Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act & The End Of Democracy

Many people sincerely believe Indiana’s RFRA new law will allow private individuals to “discriminate” against those who suffer from same-sex attraction. This shows two things: that propaganda works, and that political systems which rely on the wisdom of the public are doomed to failure.

Man with same-sex attraction walks into an Indianapolis patisserie and orders an organic orange-oil infused scone. The owner, a faithful Christian, asks, “You some kind of person who enjoys sodomy?” Man answers, “Why, yes, I am.” Owner says, “Then I can’t give you the scone. You can have one of these rosemary water crackers if you like.”

You may well think this a horror almost unimaginable, something unfit even for the Middle Ages, but I assure you, dear reader, many worse scenarios are playing out in the minds of demagogues and their victims. The most prominent propaganda has the SSA being hounded from Indiana by non-smartphone-owning used-car-driving Walmart-shopping Jack-Chick-tract-passing honky tonkers, many of whom have never even watched a single episode of the Daily Show.

Apple’s Tim Cook himself, a man who publicly admits enjoying organic orange-oil infused scones, has called the law “dangerous”. He says, “Apple is open. Open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love.” Presumably, grown men who love prepubescent boys will be submitting their applications to Cupertino. Never mind. Cook says Apple “will never tolerate discrimination.”

Except in China, the country in which many of Cook’s products are made and sold. China takes a more traditional view not only of who may marry whom, but of many sexual practices. The word “perversion” is still in use there. If Cook is seriously serious about not tolerating “discrimination”, look for Apple to bring their manufacturing back to these once United States. (Has to be here: he won’t find much abetting of same-sex attraction in any low-wage Asian country. Say, just why does Apple want to pay people so little? Skip it.)

Chances are, of course, that Cook is lying. Cook will take no action which even possibly might lighten his wallet. He’s merely an elite signaling to other elites his secular holiness (HT NBS).

Public displays like Cook’s are very popular, and even enjoyed by our betters. It’s not a stretch to say these culture warriors—they are armed mainly with screech bombs—look forward for these little opportunities to exhibit their superior enlightenment.

Is there any use trying to get this right? Probably not, though let’s have a go.

Two men walk into the Jesus Is Lord Photography Studio and say, “We want you to film our wedding and reception, at which will be live demonstrations of our physical love.” Owner says, “I’m sorry, but I’d rather not.” Men say, “Owning a business is a government-granted privilege and not a right. If you don’t do this, we’ll sue and force you into penury, where bigots like you belong.”

The pastry chef would have to sell the scone under Indiana’s law, but the photographer would be able to spare his eyes from the decadence to come. Selling a cookie, making a loan, renting an apartment and other similar activities which cannot be construed as participating in or encouraging Biblically forbidden sexual deviance are untouched by the new law. All the bill does is allow people with sincere (traditional, ancient) religious beliefs to excuse themselves from partaking in and contributing to cultural decadence.

Isn’t that a good compromise?

Of course it isn’t. Those who would celebrate or take “pride” in same sex attraction cannot countenance disagreement. They insist everybody believe as they do, or at least admit to believing alike. Silence is unacceptable: only full-throated support will do.

It is a peculiarity of Democracy that right and wrong are matters of vote. When the bulk of a population (and not only a mere majority) shares a more-or-less similar view of morality, and that morality lines up roughly with the Truth, then a Democracy can steer society in reasonable directions.

But when that society is split, as ours is, or when the shared morality is not aligned with Truth, as ours almost isn’t, then a Democracy must come to grief. As we will.

Don’t take it too badly, though. No Democracy has ever lasted, and all end badly. It’s as well to expect it, however, so that the shock will not be as great.

Update You have to feel for Progressives. Some of their favorite people are lined up squarely against them.

Update Christian Bakers Who Refused to Make Cake for Lesbian Wedding Found Guilty of Discrimination; Will Have to Pay Up to $150K. Uh huh. One hundred and fifty thousand. A sure and certain indication of a culture that has gone insane.

Update More on Elite Signaling: We’re “disappointed” in Indiana for passing RFRA, says…NASCAR.


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The Falls-Disproportionately-On-The-Poor Fallacy

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Still on the road; something quick.

Like the good Bishop said, and said well, “If we ignore the poor, we will go to hell: literally.” The poor figure in two of the four sins that cry to heaven for vengeance. For those with check-sheets, these are: murder, sodomy, oppression of the poor, and defrauding workers of their just wages.

Serious business, then, the poor. So important that we must strive to understand what we mean when we say “The Poor”? Who are these unfortunates?

We’ve all heard the quip, unfortunately not apocryphal, of the politician who laments that, despite the best, intensive, and expensive efforts of the government, fifty-percent of all individuals still make less than the median income. Yet less appreciated is that the same asininity occurs regardless which quantile is used.

The problem of defining “The Poor” relatively is that they will then always be with us. Nothing short of perfect and exact equality for all—each and every, no exceptions, all as in all, as in even you, my dear, even leaders—which is impossible in practice, can eliminate “The Poor” when they are defined relatively.

If being poor is relative, poverty cannot and will not be eliminated. The benefit of this definition is that there will always be something for activists and the government to do, a permanent goal to progress towards with increasing vigor, but one which is ever receding and unattainable. Defining poverty relatively is thus a form of cultural insanity and a guarantee of misery.

So who are the real poor? Well, that’s difficult. The same person can be poor at one time and not-poor another, vice versa, and so on (see Thomas Sowell). Knowing who is an official member of The Poor is an imperfect science. Maybe that’s why the same religion that insists one must care for the poor says to love your neighbour and not The People™. You’re in a much better position to know what’s going on in your own family and with real neighbors—you know who really needs what—than you are with some amorphous mass of strangers. Indeed, if the bulk of us took this commandment to heart, and looked after those closest to us, we could do real good and never have to worry about The People™.

One thing is clear: poor people have fewer resources at their command than the rich. It’s a gross simplification, but useful shorthand, and anyway true, to say that poor people have less money. Careful! Money is relative—the absolute amount of it is not fixed and there is no objective standard to say a dollar or a yen means this level of poverty—so the danger of lapsing into poor-as-relative is real. Stay alert.

We’re finally to the fallacy, which is in the class of informal fallacies. Headlines like this appear with depressing frequency: “Fuel Prices Rise: Poor Hurt,” “World Ends: Women, Minorities, the Poor Hardest Hit.” This first is logically equivalent to “Fuel Prices Rise: Everybody Who Buys Fuel Will Now Pay More”. Since the poor have less money, and the poor like to be as warm as everybody else, they will of course pay a greater relative amount of their wealth than the rich. But if heating does indeed cost more, than nothing can be done to prevent this. And when the world ends, we all go, poor and rich alike.
Raise the price on anything and it follows that the poor will pay relatively higher amounts of their wealth—unless the price is raised so that the rich by design pay a higher proportion of their wealth, which happens only with the government and taxes. Enforced equality.

The “Falls disproportionately on the poor” is thus a variant on the ad misericordiam, the appeal to pity. It is a fallacy if it is used to imply that something need be done (by, say, government) because the cost increase falls “disproportionately” on the poor. As said, unless the cost increase is gauged so that it increases more, not relatively but absolutely, for those with less, which is unheard of, the increase will not be disproportionately against the poor (though it is true as said any fixed increase, by definition, will cost the poor a greater percent of their wealth).

All uses of the fallacy are restating what amounts to the tautology “The Poor have less money than the rich.” And it never goes toward solving what it means to “be poor,” how being poor is defined absolutely, not relatively. Indeed, the fallacy is usually used to argue the poor should have a product or service the absence of which would not make somebody poor absolutely.


13 Comments

Bill Nye The Science Guy Confuses Scientific Uncertainty Versus Doubt

Uncertainty versus Doubt.

Uncertainty versus Doubt.

On the road, so something quick.

Reader Paul Mullen writes:

Briggs,

A fellow at the salt mine was thoughtful enough to leave a copy in the break room of April’s issue of *Men’s Journal*. The back page features a short interview with Bill “The Science Guy” Nye. One of the questions was, “What do you think the average American needs to understand about science?” His reply:

The seriousness of climate change. It’s serious, serious business. Do not screw around with it. The fossil fuel industry has been very successful—using techniques pioneered by the tobacco industry—introducing the idea that scientific uncertainty is equivalent to doubt, which wouldn’t matter if we weren’t all going to die.

Ignoring his failure to answer the question, it seems to me that if you’re feeling uncertain while simultaneously not having any doubts, you’re doing it wrong. Does his statement make any sense from a formal epistemic standpoint?

No.

That’s too telegraphic, so here’s a more expansive answer. It’s Lent, so I’ll interpret Nye’s response in the most generous way possible. Even given that, what he said is a mixture of falsity, confusion, and error.

Nye’s global warming conspiracy theory is either a direct lie on his part or blank ignorance, and anyway something close to the opposite of the truth. The fossil fuel industry is scarcely shoveling money into the hands of non-governmental scientists. Indeed, as Alex Epstein showed in the Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, they’re working against their own interests to appear to be good global citizens.

I’ve had my hand out, but have not received penny one from any fossil fuel company, nor any of their affiliates. I’m far from alone. Many global warming activists, on the other hand, are earning a tidy living pushing doom. I’m sure Nye gets something for his sky-is-falling speeches.

Suppose what is false: that I and my fellow skeptics have been as lavishly funded as Nye claimed. Not to the extent that research professors awash in the millions and millions of government—and activist and even fossil fuel industry!—grants are funded, just that we got money.

Are fossil fuel companies acting immorally or unscientifically when funding research which might provide information useful or amenable to them? If so, then isn’t the government as immoral and unscientific in funding research which provides information useful and amenable to them? What makes the government so pure? Nothing.

Isn’t it true that however scientific information comes to be known its source of funding is irrelevant to whether that information is true or false? Yes: yes of course.

About the phrase “scientific uncertainty is equivalent to doubt”. It appears—and this is only a guess on my part—that Nye equates “scientific uncertainty” with “highly probably true” or “mostly true with negligible indeterminateness on matters scientists will mop up in time”. And he implies, or appears to imply, “doubt” is tergiversation, purposeful evasion of known truths.

Epistemologically speaking, uncertainty is the measure of how probable some proposition is with respect to given evidence. Doubt is to say the proposition is not certain, or, familiarly, that it is improbable, or not likely on that same evidence. Nye is saying, or seems to be accusing, that because somebody finds uncertainty (given some evidence) that they are equating that uncertainty with doubt, or improbability. In other words, that global-warming-of-doom skeptics insist any probability less than one is automatically equivalent to a very small probability.

But nobody is saying this about global warming. Well, no scientist is. Lord only knows what the Internet holds. What some of us say is that, given the twenty-some year failure of climate models to make good predictions, it is rational to doubt them and the theories which created the models. It used to be a well known and accepted-by-all scientific principle that bad forecasts imply wrong theories. That principle, which Nye denies or is ignorant of, was abandoned in the face of strong politics.

What to make of Nye’s we’re-all-going-to-die hysteria? Well, it’s true. All of us will die. This should not be particularly newsworthy given the solid evidence that tens of billions of those not now alive have already died. Unless Nye means to claim that we’re all going to die because of global warming.

That is preposterous, utterly ridiculous, grossly irresponsible. It can only be doubted. Give what we know about model performance, it seems almost impossible any man even the least bit familiar with climate science would suggest such a thing. Yet it has happened. Why?


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