Category Archives: Science

Will Global Warming skeptics ever get the apologies they deserve?

It’s all over the news; we’ve gone about 17 years without any meaningful increase in global temperatures, and the experts are now declaring we’re in the middle of a “pause” based on factors they think maybe they can explain and maybe they can’t; the consensus seems to be to try to explain it away by the oceans, but this is as sloppy as anything they ever accused the skeptics of.

They’re now suggesting that it may be 10 years before temperatures resume their supposed escalation–10 years being the classic prediction people use when they have no real idea,  because it sounds reasonably in the foreseeable future but in reality, in 10 years no one will remember you predicted something 10 years ago. And a lot of these people will be retired by that point and won’t really have to directly answer for anything they might have got horribly wrong all those years ago.

Those who expressed skepticism all along were viciously attacked, mocked, in some cases careers ruined, as “anti-science” and “denialists” all for saying “hold on a second.” And no, those who accused pro-Global Warming scientists were not “just as guilty”; one side held most of the money and power, the other was little but a bunch of upstarts saying the Emperor appeared to possibly be missing some clothing,  and they were severely punished for daring to hint that maybe there was some problem with those fancy garments.

You can read a pretty good summary of where we are now here on Forbes.

Yes, the skeptical upstarts got a little bit of money here and there from vested interests themselves, but it was dwarfed by the money gotten by the establishment who declared Ex Cathedra that they had The Truth.

Money pollutes science. It just does. So once there’s a strong vested monetary or political interest in one side or the other of a hypothesis–as there always was here–you have to work more diligently than ever to focus on the data, and making that data as transparent as possible, and predictable, falsifiable results, not what you want to believe.

Maybe there still is warming caused by humans. If so, those who say so should be making their assertions with a great deal more humility and reflection on the possibility that they may be wrong and that in being wrong they can potentially cause damage too. We can only hope they do, anyway.

Those of you who called everyone who had any doubts crackpots, lunatics, “science denialists,” whatever? You lost the plot on how science is supposed to work, which is by testing and questioning and probing and debating and transparency and reproducible predictions. Instead you turned it into a religion with Bishops and Imams who were Not To Be Questioned lest the Wrathful Gods of Climate Change should destroy humanity.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. The history of science is filled with this kind of closed-minded bullying of doubters and skeptics. Why would we think human nature has changed now in our supposedly more enlightened age?

In any case, one thing’s for certain: The Climate Change establishment has its tail between its legs. Good. It’s needed it for some time. Now I hope they keep studying the climate, and start giving more respect to dissent and skepticism, and allow much greater transparency in how they collect their data and how they do their calculations.

Over 100 fraudulent peer-reviewed papers discovered…

by accident.

And these were only cases of blatant cases of obvious fraud in one area.

When “science” is an industry that depends largely on “publish or perish” just to get government and corporate funding en masse, why is it crazy or “conspiracy-theorist” to think that reforms are needed and that there’s not much good reason for the public at large should trust something just because it’s from “Scientists” with a capital “S?”

This is, frequently, taxpayer money on the line, and I’m rather sick of hearing that the general public is out of line to even ask questions like this, or just trust that because someone’s a scientist, they know what they’re talking about and are telling the truth.

Question: if you had a few million dollars in funding on the line, and you discovered the hypotheses you were working on were failed and had reached a dead end, but you had your own career and those of many under you on the line, how likely would you be to do the noble thing and say “this is all wrong, we need to start over from scratch,” versus, trying to find every way you could to justify continuing to support a failed paradigm or hypothesis?

I think this incident goes to show what at least some would do.

And please don’t use “but they were found out!” as a defense. This crap got right past the reviewers, they were found by computer search. No one else even frickin’ noticed.

Dishonesty by the “Encyclopedia of American Loons”

I recently discovered that in random Google searches on my name, some obscure blog called the “Encyclopedia of American Loons” comes up with a posting about me full of half-truths and distortions and irrational ad hominems about public positions I’ve taken in years past.

There was a period 5-10 years ago where I was getting pretty incoherent in my blogging, while in the depths of a bad marriage and trying to soothe it with alcohol, and therefore occasionally ranting hyperbolically more than I should have. I was also regularly getting gang-slammed and trolled by people on the internet, mostly on other blogs, saying nasty things about me that probably (no, definitely) exacerbated my temper. Nevertheless almost none of those assertions in the “Encyclopedia of American Loons” are really true–and if the “Encyclopedia of American Loons” were linking the original articles I wrote, quoting me directly instead of what other people were saying about me, or what other people were quote-mining me on, or what other people were imputing to be my positions instead of just asking me what they were, it would be at least a lot more honest. I know I’ve said things in the past that embarrassed me, especially when speaking or writing in haste, but anyone who asked me to clarify my positions would know where I really stand.

In any case, yes 1) it’s true that I respect Peter Duesberg, Professor of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology at the University of California at Berkeley, and believe he has been sorely mistreated by the scientific establishment, and that many (not all) so-called “AIDS Denialists” deserve more respect than they get, 2) I did at one time argue that running to court to throw silly Creationist literature and idiotic Creationist stickers out of the schools was more destructive than allowing their nonsense to be discussed in science classes–because banning it by force just feeds the Creationist paranoia that scientists are censoring them and leads to more parents pulling their kids out of the public schools and/or telling their children that their science teachers are lying to them (and that this essay by Michael Baltar is spot on, and 3) yes, I do indeed believe that in many (not all) areas of the sciences, the peer review process (which I know a great deal about actually) has been terribly corrupted by money. This, apparently, makes me a “loon” and a “crackpot” and a “conspiracy theorist.”

The fact that on #1 I talked to multiple fully credentialed scientists and mainstream journalists who supported Duesberg in whole or in part is not of course mentioned, the fact that on #2 I made it repeatedly clear that I think Creationism is stupid and that “Intelligent Design” is not a science, and the fact that on #3 my criticism about money polluting the peer review process merely echoes what a lot of other working scientists will tell you isn’t mentioned either. Neither do they mention my regular writing about how toxic conspiracy theories are, and my repeat explanation that “corruption” is not a “conspiracy,” it’s corruption.

But it’s clear that the “Encyclopedia of American Loons” isn’t really interested in being truthful. It’s interested in well-poisoning. I guess if you’re going to take public iconoclastic positions on the internet, you should get used to it. So in a way, I’m honored to be so important to them. I just wanted to mention, for the record, this “encyclopedia” entry is dishonest, and it would make me question anything written by or about anyone else on it. But hey, at least I’m honored to be noticeable and prominent enough in their eyes to merit an article.

*Update* You know, upon reflection, I’m a little surprised that the “Encyclopedia of American Loons” editors did not also note my frequent assertion that the overwhelming evidence from the peer reviewed scientific literature is that eating fewer calories and exercising more is not an effective cure for obesity — maybe because they know that’s not really refutable — or that I think Bjorn Lomborg has the most sensible attitude about Global Warming and that Watt’s Up With That and that Climate Audit are both important sites if you’re actually interested in rational skepticism about the subject of Global Warming. I imagine on the latter, they also almost certainly consider all of the above “crackpots” and “conspiracy theorists” too.

Black Hole Sun…

A black hole and a red dwarf are orbiting each other… [insert joke here]

But seriously, this is a cool story. They’ve found a black hole and a red dwarf sun orbiting each other at a dizzying [snerk!] speed of once every 2.4 hours. The video at the link there is obviously a computer animation not the real thing but it’s still bloody awesome that we’re finding things like this. I’m old enough to remember when black holes were still considered theoretical and how big a deal it was when someone proved the existence of just one. Now we’re regularly finding things like this.

I love, you science. :-)

Criticizing “Autism Speaks” – Citizen Autistic

For anyone who is on the autism spectrum or has a friend or family member who is autistic, I recommend seeing this documentary about autism by and about autistic people.

It is fiercely critical of the organization “Autism Speaks” as well as a number of other problems that autistics face, especially as adults. I strongly recommend it.

*Update*: Ack! They took it down. It’s gone. My apologies. It was up there last night. Great film, hope it comes back.

Dare to Disagree

The only problem with this otherwise magnificent speech I can see is that it doesn’t address the fact that people who indulge in this kind of disagreement, especially these days, are in danger of losing careers and even their lives at the hands of vested interests who don’t like what they have to say–a problem I think has grown significantly since Alice Stewart’s day. But I suppose that’s out of scope for this otherwise brilliant talk:

The quality of TED talks has gone down in recent years, alas, but this one is golden.

Testosterone Causes Aggression?

Nowhere near that simple. In fact, it’s a ridiculous stereotype. And we needn’t even get into the strong link between estrogen and aggression, do we? Nope, we can just keep saying testosterone makes boys thuggish animals, and estrogen makes girls nurturing carers, and be done with it, right?

Treating our young men as if they are by nature ready to explode into violence (sexual or otherwise) at any second if we don’t shame and tame them, while at the same time pretending young women are sweet little angels to whom violent behavior is a bizarre aberration, is dysfunctional insanity on multiple levels. But it’s not just widespread, it’s an unconscious assumption most of the population appears to unquestioningly work under. Should it be any wonder, then, that we’re not only seeing a rise in violence in young women, but a rise in the number of boys feeling like garbage about themselves and failing to succeed in life? This isn’t the only problem our flagging population of young men faces, but it’s certainly not helping the problem.

*Update*: Might our attitudes about these things help contribute to outrages like this? I suspect so.

Deep space mining and manufacturing?

Well I’ve been expecting this to be formally announced for some time, although I have to wonder what their timelines look like and how they really plan to get things back here. I also must admit to having some suspicions that it may actually be a new Glomar Explorer sort of operation (i.e. a shell for something else). Although I wonder if I’m messing with national security even to mention such suspicions. ;-)