Balkinization  

Friday, August 31, 2012

Does Mitt really care if Boston drowns?

Sandy Levinson

The pundits are predicting that the money line from Mitt Romnehy's acceptance speech is: "President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. MY promise...is to help you and your family." Is it entirel unfair (say, more unfair that the treatment of the Republican Party toward a number of statements by President Obama) to suggest that the coded meaning of this is that global warming, with the threat of rising sea levels and the inundattion of a number of cities, including Boston, New York, and Miami (for starters), is just nonsense, that the important thing--no, change that to the only thing--is to focus on a version of "what's in it for me in the short run" and leave everything else, including, quite literally, the future of the world, to chance?

There is certainly no affirmative evidence that either Romney or Ryan gives any credence to global warming as a problem. Romney, we know, simply scoffs at alternative energy sources to coal. Is Mitt simply stupid? Is he in thrall to some aspect of esoteric Mormon theology that actually is looking forward, as do many Evangelicals, to the end times and the rapture, while the rest of us are sent to roast in hell because we have the wrong religious views? Or what?

I'm not particularly interested in getting into a substantive debate about the science of global warming, in part, admittedly, because I'm not a scientist myself and simply tend to believe that the now overwhelming consensus, joined recently by some former deniers, is more likely to be true than not. The only thing I'm really interested in is whether my surmise about how to interpret the money sentence--the orgasmic moment that should lead to a frisson of pleasure in the audience for the political pornography that we call contemporary politcial campaigning--is correct or not? Is it really unthinkable that one might suggest that one way of creating jobs is to encourage development of wind or solar energy instead of relying, for example, on coal? Or do we simply rely on the same market that brought us the economic collapse to decide, just in time, when it's time to shift away from coal and carbon-based energy?

Everyone should track down Stephen Colbert's program this evening, with former Utah Gov. John Huntsman, which offers a far deeper analysis of our present situation than anything found on PBS or the shouting bloviators on CNN. And Jon Stewart's interview with former RNC Chair Michael Steele was also remarkably candid and illuminating.

Comments:

Mitt mentioned in his acceptance speech that he has a plan to create 12 million jobs. Of course, he did not reveal his plan's contents (a la Richard Nixon's 1968 campaign plan to end the Vietnam War). Perhaps many of those 12 million jobs will be filling sandbags to thwart rising seas.

And Mitt can reveal the location of those plates of gold to support the GOP plank on the return to the gold standard to solve America's fiscal issues.

Perhaps Mitt's selection of Ryan as his running mate has inoculated Mitt with a dose of Ayn Rand on selfishness now, do anything to get elected. This leads me once again to their bumpersticker:

'R-MONEY/R-AYN 2012"
 

Jon Stewart wondered why Clint Eastwood was the surprise speaker. Perhaps it was because John Wayne wasn't available.

Has there been a translation of Huntsman's Mandarin words on his true feelings for Mitt? Stephen Colbert suggested it would make a good bumpersticker. But I don't think it could compete with mine for dyslexic conservatives.
 

I really admire you, which is why it pains me to read a sentence as bad as this one:

"Or do we simply rely on the same market that brought us the economic collapse to decide, just in time, when it's time to shift away from coal and carbon-based energy?"

Really? Don't you feel that kind of rhetoric is below you?

First of all, I think this kind of political, adversarial way of thinking is a terrible way to think about economics. You should be thinking about margins, and equilibria, not good guys and bad guys. And certainly not assigning the market itself the role of bad guy. The existence of coordination problems that the market cannot solve is not a good reason to demonize the market. It's a good reason to fix the coordination problems.

Second, the the economy that collapsed is the same thing as the market that you blame for collapsing it. So the worst thing you can say about it based on the collapse is that it wasn't as unbelievably great as we thought it was in 2006. Its still pretty great. Especially compared to the alternatives. I mean, what kind of economy would you rather have? Pre-industrial agrarian? Communist? Every rich country on earth is more-or-less capitalist.

Furthermore, On what basis do you conclude that it was the free market that brought us the economic collapse? Rather than fraud, the implicit promise of bailouts, and/or the federal reserve steering NGDP into a ditch?

What makes you think that the political system (the same political system who's dysfunction you constantly point out) is more capable than private economic calculation to time our transition from coal, or to decide what energy tech to transition to? Wouldn't it be better to shift incentives away from coal in some neutral, broad-based way (carbon tax or cap and trade), rather than "encourage development of wind or solar". I think people would take climate change a lot more seriously if it weren't associated with such obvious channels for graft as wind subsidies and biofuel.
 


PS: Why is nobody ever particularly interested in getting into a substantive debate about the science of global warming? Why is everyone so quick to recuse themselves from that kind of debate on the grounds that "I'm not a scientist myself", and instead refer to some vague but authoritative "overwhelming consensus"? I'm sorry but that is just not what reliable scientific knowledge looks like.

I'm not a biologist but I can judge for myself the evidence for evolution. I don't have to take anybodies word for it. I can look at the fossil record. I can look at the fact that every life on earth uses the same genetic code. I can look at the remarkable level of agreement between pre-genetic taxonomy and genomic data. I may not have the scientific knowledge (or time) to rigorously evaluate each piece of evidence, but there's just so *much* evidence that rigor isn't really required of me. Either there's a global conspiracy to fake biological evidence or evolution is true. Any rational person can justifiably draw that conclusion on their own, without referring to "experts", or "overwhelming consensus". That's what reliable scientific knowledge looks like.

Whatever we do know about global warming, it's clearly not up to that standard of epistemic reliability. We need to be having a real, substantive debate about the science of global warming. We need to understand what we know, and how we know it. We need to understand it in much greater detail than anyone is willing to go into. I'm so sick of hearing about experts and consensus. I'm not going to trust the news media or politicians or bloggers to tell me who the experts are, or what their consensus is. I want to see the evidence for myself. If the experts can't yet convince me, then their work is not yet done. And if they can't convince someone like me, they are defiantly not going to convince people who vote red before its too late.

 

Sandy:

The Romney reference rather effectively skewers Obama's arrogance and has really nothing to do with the AGW faith.

In 2008, Obama pitched himself as The One and promised to change the America and the world. Perhaps the most overweening of these pitches was Obama's Berlin speech, where he promises to lower the oceans like some latter day Moses.

It is perfectly fair for Mr. Romney (like nearly every speaker before him) to contrast Obama's self aggrandizing promises with the reality of his failed presidency and with Romney's promise to dedicate his presidency to the voters and not himself.

There is nothing Americans like better than to see the self important humbled.
 

Here's a revision of our yodeler's assertion of Obama in 2008:

"In 2012, R-MONEY pitched himself as The One and promised to change the America and the world."

to reflect Mitt's acceptance speech at the GOP convention. Yes, "R-MONEY/R-AYN 2012" have a plan to add 12 million jobs but have not disclosed the details (just as Richard Nixon did not disclose his plan in the 1968 campaign to end the Vietnam War - and how long did that take - and was it an honorable victory?).

Considering that the 2008 Bush/Cheney Great Recession was the worst since the Great Depression that started under businessman GOP President Herbert Hoover with the 1929 Crash in the first year of his term (after 8 glorious years of GOP dominance during the Roaring Twenties), which further deepened in Hoover's remaining three years in office, and took many years to recover from under FDR, the recovery from the 2008 Great Recession is taking more time than anticipated, which is not surprising considering that the GOP fought tooth and nail against Obama from day one, obstructing efforts to get the economy moving again. Despite such obstruction, millions of jobs have been created under Obama following the job losses from the 2008 Bush/Cheney Great Recession. Just what are the details of the "R-MONEY/R-AYN 2012" plan for 12 million jobs - and when?
 

"Is it really unthinkable that one might suggest that one way of creating jobs is to encourage development of wind or solar energy instead of relying, for example, on coal?": Maybe there would be more jobs created by letting the world go to hell and then mounting an all-out effort to fix it. After all, how many people can you employ to climb on roofs installing solar panels? Such a claim could easily degenerate into a debate about clean energy vs. many other ways of creating jobs, maybe even many more jobs. Not that I really believe we should let the world go to hell. But why should job-creation be the only acceptable justification for doing anything? Aside from deficit reduction, of course.

Apropos of the end times and the rapture, one might also conjecture whether that's why most convention delegates care about whether Israel has been thrown under a bus, as the man said.

As for Larry's comment asking why the evidence of climate change isn't so obvious as that for evolution: for one thing, it relies on computer models, photochemistry, statistics, etc. instead of dinosaur skeletons so charismatic that even a 4-year-old can appreciate them. And one always has the option of reading Nature, Science, PNAS, Nature Climate Science, etc. for oneself. But as the sages say, let your ears hear what your mouth is saying: if the evidence for evolution seems so obvious, and yet people in red states don't buy it anyway, then scientists can't entirely be blamed if people in red states don't buy into global warming either.
 

Larry D'Anna, the "free market" includes "fraud" and in most places, it means government regulation that affects what the market does. "Free market" in some utopian sense don't exist. So, I think that's off.

"Why is nobody ever particularly interested in getting into a substantive debate about the science of global warming?"

I also don't know about this since in fact there are many people who DO discuss and debate the science of global warning. Andrew Sutter is correct that the science is more complicated than evolution, which itself is not generally debated by the general public to my knowledge. To the degree science is "debated," I'm unsure how global warning is debated less.

As to solutions, I agree various solutions are possible, and some of the ones offered might very well work, especially since carbon taxes (not something Republicans generally support) would encourage alternative fuels too.
 

@Joe

When you say "the free market includes fraud" you're engaging in exactly the kind of low-brow political rhetoric I'm criticizing. Taken literally, of course what you say is true. Fraud does take place in free market economies. It also takes place in every other kind of economy, so one might wonder why you even bothered to say it, or what your point was. The answer is you don't have a point, you just wanted slather a negative-connotation-carrying word like "fraud" all over the free market, because you just don't like the free market very much, because people who's politics you don't agree with do like the free market.

The rational argument for government intervention on climate change is

* it's a tragedy of the commons
* markets don't deal well with tragedy-of-commons without dividing the commons into private property
* there's no way to divide the earth's atmosphere into private property

The rational argument is not snaky, deceptive comments attempting to identify the market with fraud.

 

Larry D'Anna, the concern is that the specific market that developed in this country became too laden in certain things (such as fraud) and the "free market" idealized by some therefore became broken, changes, including certain types of regulations being necessary.

This is not "low-brow political rhetoric" to say this; it in fact shows people aren't against the free market totally, but specific problem spots they flag.

What sort of "snaky, deceptive comments" are being made to "identify the market with fraud" here? The OP thinks a particular sort of market ("the same market" ... not any sort of market) did not work well. He wants to change it in certain ways, including to encourage wind or solar energy MARKETS.

The market was shown quite undeceptively to be fraudulent in various ways the last few years. It was and continues to be part of the problem. This doesn't make the market totally corrupt any more than saying man is sinful makes man totally corrupt.
 

Jon Huntman and Gary Johnson to me were credible Republican candidates, the latter more credible since he is running on the libertarian line.

Huntsman clearly seems to think his party went off the rails, but he is only enabling them by endorsing Mitt Romney. No need to you know campaign against him or anything, but why endorse the guy? Is it some loyalty oath thing?

It's like Clint Eastwood, pro-choice, against moralizing and so forth, supporting the anti-choice candidate, apparently since the invisible Obama he sees doesn't appeal.

This is a bit snarky, I admit, though his speech was a bit off. But, really, some of the "reasons" offered to support Romney (representing various things he is on record being against) is not based on actual reality.

Good interview on Colbert, anyways -- still think his seven minutes with John Paul Stevens was quite educational.
 

@Joe

It's low brow because the economic collapse has nothing whatsoever to do with climate change. It's low brow because the only reason to even mention the economic collapse is transport the emotional reaction people have to the collapse into a totally unrelated debate.

The argument that the market ought not be trusted with climate change because the market is responsible for the collapse is just bad. The market is not a person or organization who's good judgment is in question. The market is a set of economic institutions. Those institutions serve us well in most areas, but not in others. The market cannot solve climate change for basic, structural reasons, not because of any feature of "the specific market that developed in this country". The argument OP made was bad. It was stupid and it was logically incoherent. The only reason somebody would make it is for the emotional reaction people have to words like "market" and "collapse", (and now "fraud"). Sandy is better than that, and he should have made the real argument, not the quippy, political argument that he did make.

PS: oops, i meant to type "snarky" not "snakey"

PPS: "the market" was not shown to be fraudulent, a particular set of market participants were shown to be fraudulent. I'm generally a big fan of the market. That doesn't mean I'm a fan of banks.
 

@Andrew Sutter

I'm sure you're right that the evidence for climate change is more difficult to understand than evolution, but we still need to have the debate. We still need to understand. Specifically, we need no know what's going to happen to the climate, when it will happen, and what kind of intervention it will take to stop it. And we need to know what kind of uncertainty we're dealing with for all of those things.

We need to know how the computer models were constructed and why anybody is confident they're right. We need to know what kinds of statistical inference is being used, and how robust it is to systematic errors. We need to know the details.

For all I know, letting Boston drown could be the right thing to do. Maybe it's a choice between letting Boston drown and letting the majority of China remain in abject poverty. I'm not saying it is that way, I'm saying I have no idea if it is or not. Expert consensus is never going to convince people that they need to make real sacrifices, that they have to accept a lower standard of living for the good of strangers. You're going to have to really convince people by presenting real evidence in a form they can understand.

I can't remember ever seeing anything in popular media that went beyond the liberal talking point of "expert consensus". The people that were going to be convinced by that already are, and the people that aren't are never going to be. Somebody with an audience is going to have to actually make a case for it.
 

Interesting with respect to Republican presidential candidate nominee Romney's climate obfuscation rhetoric, is to compare those remarks to the November 2006 Supreme Court argument interchange in case 05-1120 Massachusetts v EPA, in which the Chief Justice, Mr. Roberts, questioned the Assistant Attorney General of the state of Massachusetts, James Milkey, Esq., as follows at page 10]:

"CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: How is that consistent with our taxpayer standing cases where the argument is that a taxpayer doesn't have standing to challenge an illegal expenditure as a general matter simply because his contribution, the benefit that he's claiming is so small and so widely dispersed?

"MR. MILKEY: Your Honor, it is different because here there is particularized injury that we have shown. The injury doesn't get any more particular than states losing 200 miles of coastline, both sovereign territory and property we actually own, to rising seas."

The ensuing argument is equally impelling as the next questioner is Associate Justice Alito...q.v.

I heard only a fragment of Romney's oratory last evening at the convention on the airwaves. I noted several other classical yet modern Republican features: one Romney remark was an insult directed at the Democratic candidate's work history laced with caste-conscious remarks quite similar to those heard during early 'Reaganomics' concerning the uselessness of the socialsafetynet. I believe I heard gov. Romney criticizing the Univ of Chicago law school because to work there is not to hold a private industry job. I imagine candidate Romney will discover those disparagements will elicit unfortunate responses.

It seemed gov. Romney/Bain Capital, were cajoling, 'Please, there's profit to be made in the global warming sphere, so, don't regulate it too early or too closely.'
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

Larry D'Anna, the reference in the OP to the market was small -- the OP thinks the market as currently situated cannot really be trusted as a long term solution and since the market is a large part of dealing with climate change (how could it not be given major drivers are market driven?), such a reference is germane.

The various adjectives ("bad," "stupid" etc.) as with your last reply is imho simply overwrought given the small point made.

BTW, since Jon Huntman et. al. think there is a consensus on climate change, why is that a "liberal talking point" as such? Why the question begging laden rhetoric here in response to what is deemed the same?

"The market" is not just some amorphous thing, it is made up of market participants. And, yes, it was shown that let's say "banks" (a major market) was in some significant part driven by certain fraudulent things. Note I'm not saying that it just is one big fraud.

BTW, changing the market in certain ways, such as certain regulatory reforms, doesn't require per your previous comment SL to support "pre-industrial agrarian? Communist?" or something. If SL is being a bit too emotional (if you like him, you might notice he tends to do that on the blog the last few years) or unproductive, is this really much better?
 

Mr. D'Anna

In highly specialized areas I think its doubtful that laypersons can simply 'examine the evidence' and come to very meaningful conclusions. At some point trusting scientists in general seems a reasonable thing to do.

But to the extent the evidence can be meaningfully laid out for laypersons (of which I am one), I personally found the IPCC Report to be understandable and persuasive, I'd highly recommend it (I googled it and found it online here:
http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/contents.html )
 

@Larry: do you mean debate about what actions to take to combat global warming, or do you also mean debate about the science? The things you say we need to "know" -- what's going to happen to the climate, when it will happen, and what kind of intervention it will take to stop it -- can't be considered "known" until a debate about the science is settled. This is problematic for at least three reasons.

#1, there aren't only "known unknowns" but still lots of "unknown unknowns" about how the earth works. E.g., turns out viruses living in the ocean kill bacteria, causing them to break open, releasing certain particles that can become airborne via sea spray, and then form the nuclei of clouds. But when Kyoto Protocol was being negotiated, people hardly knew these viruses existed, much less that they are the most abundant life-forms on earth, or affected cloud cover. Just for example. So long as we know there are unknown unknowns, we can't quantify the uncertainty of models (as if we always can when unknowns are known, anyway).

#2, there doesn't appear to be any consensus within the US polity on a criterion for considering the scientific debate settled, i.e., sufficiently settled that the debate shifts to the discussion of action. This is like the situation with the "debate" about evolution -- except that we don't need to do anything about evolution, whereas we most likely do need to do something about global warming.

#3, and related to both ##1 and 2 above, even if we could agree on such a criterion, perhaps that would include such a stringent limitation of uncertainty that by the time we could meet it, it would be too late to act, or the costs of acting would be substantially higher than they would be now.

A better way to think about this might be to consider some recent disasters. Hurricane Katrina: you can see Hurricane Katrina approaching. Exactly when and where it will hit, what its effects will be, etc. couldn't be known in advance. But there were some precautions it would have been good to have taken, and that could have been taken before its arrival. Subprime meltdown: Back in 2005, my local bank branch manager in San Jose, CA told my wife and me that the subprime stuff would explode. She didn't know when it would be, or how global its effects would be, or what could be done to reduce its effects. We all expected just that the economies of California and some other US regions would be a mess sometime in the next few years. But that was enough to go on. Out of precaution we didn't drag our feet, and moved to Japan at our first chance in 2006. Good move – the country wasn’t hit as bad as the US or EU.

Both examples suggest acting based on the "precautionary principle," even when there are plenty of known unknowns. Douglas Kysar has a terrific book defending it. Prof. Sunstein and others ridicule it, and favor cost-benefit analysis. In our generation, they’ve won (though see the great critiques of CBA by historian Theodore Porter and economist Frank Ackerman, among others).

But when it comes to the debate about action, even consensus to use CBA doesn't end it. There isn't necessarily consensus that Americans should do *anything* about global warming. E.g., some fundamentalists might believe that the earth is ours to exploit, and it only needs to last long enough for the end of days, as Sandy suggests, or as a former Secretary of the Interior put it "I do not know how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns." Prof. Sunstein, who, as far as I know, is neither a fundamentalist Christian nor a global warming skeptic, has written that it's not in US interests to do anything about it as long as some other major countries don't. And indeed, some countries, like India, disclaim any responsibility to do anything, though for different reasons. You wanted debate - when it comes it will come in many layers. As my grandmother would have said, you should live so long.
 

UPDATE: Friday night Jon Stewart's Daily Show and Stephen Colbert (w)rapped up the closing Thursday night of the GOP convention with (im)pertinent commentary. I was surprised, however, that neither mentioned the need for a day after GOP political pill, especially with Clint's imitation of Tim Conway's "old man" schtick, which Stewart described as a "Fistful of Awesome" and "The Old Man and the Seat." [No toilet jokes, please!] Colbert picked up on Sandy's global warming beef translating Mitt's line to "F*** THE PLANET!."

FURTHER UPDATE: Via the Internet and their websites, Stewart and Colbert's coverages of the entire GOP convention are available. I suggest a seriatim review.
 

We see signs of the senior citizen audience of Stewart/Colbert. Not just for young punks any more!
 

R-MONEY/R-AYN 2012 will be making their:

"MAKE MY DAZE!"

tour as a follow up to Clint.

By the Bybee [expletives deleted], it was either Stewart or Colbert who come up with this bumpersticker:

'CHAIR/RYAN 2012"

(Does this suggest that "Chair" has more personality than R-MONEY?)
 

Mr. Whiskas said...

In highly specialized areas I think its doubtful that laypersons can simply 'examine the evidence' and come to very meaningful conclusions. At some point trusting scientists in general seems a reasonable thing to do.

Why?

As a trial attorney, I can engage and have engaged scientists to testify under oath as to the "truth" of both sides of nearly any issue. Scientists will whore for money.

ALWAYS question categorical claims made by scientists (good scientists are very cautious concerning the significance of their findings), especially if they are being provided billions of dollars of grant money by folks with a dog in the fight.

If you do not possess the knowledge concerning a subject, educate yourself. You do not need to be credentialed in order to think for yourself.

The problems with the AGW faith are legion, but they can be boiled down to three:

1) Statistically, the temperature record for the world over the past century is unreliable because of problems in coverage, measurement consistency and human influences. We are being offered guestimates claiming to measure world average temperature to within a tenth of a degree with have statistical noise of 1-2 degrees.

2) If you assume the temperature record is accurate, the bouncing temperatures bear no statistically significant correlation to the exponential rise in human CO2 emissions. AGW proponents can't even get past correlation to get to causation.

3) The computer models offered by the IPCC are not scientific evidence, they are hypotheses filled with thousands of assumptions concerning the variables of climate. Such hypotheses are proven when the model can reliably explain past climate and predicate future climate. No model to date has come close.
 

"Why?"

It's simple. Many fields of knowledge are very complex, requiring many years of study and work in that area to know much about it. No person can do this for all or even many fields. Therefore you have to trust those who have done so. To do otherwise would be a bit silly.

"Scientists will whore for money."

I'm sure some will. That's why people actually rely on what is called "consensus." When hundreds or thousands of scientists in the relevant area, people from different countries, working for different organizations, are coming to the same conclusion, then they are probably closer to the truth than the few who do not or the laypersons who claim they know what's really going on.

I think your points demonstrate my argument. To take just one: You claim things about these computer models. Have you ever run such a computer model? If you have not, how can you judge how they are or should be run?

You're a lawyer. Think about this: if a relative told you they were planning on taking a huge decision in life involving legal matters based on the advice of a guy who had no official training or recognized work in the law but who thinks they have "educated themselves" about the law, wouldn't you tell them to consult a trained lawyer first?


 

Our yodeler's:

"Scientists will whore for money."

may well apply to attorneys. Query: Do more attorneys or scientists serve as lobbyists?

 

To get serious on the subject of scientific evidence, especially in the judicial system, instead of relying upon our yodeler's obvious limitations, those really, really interested should check out the "Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence," Third Edition, prepared by the Federal Judicial Center and National Research Council, 2011. Warning, with index the pdf runs 1034 pages.
 

DailyKos has a 9/2/12, 6:45 PM post that starts with this:

*****
“The demographics race we’re losing badly,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.). “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”
--Washington Post, August 29, 2012

****

How does "R-MONEY/R-AYN 2012" plan on such generation? Let's remind Lindsey of what Tonto said to the Lone Ranger when he said "We're surrounded by Redskins": "What you mean 'we,' ..., Kemo Savvy"? Lindsey isn't too savvy faire, is he?
 

Mr. W:

Consensus NEVER equals fact, otherwise science would never evolve. The finest minds of the Dark Ages burned women alive based on a consensus that they were witches.

In any case, there is no consensus concerning the proven facts of the AGW hypothesis.

Hundreds of scientists dissent to one degree or another from the AGW hypothesis and dozens were falsely cited as supporters by the IPCC report. Even those who subscribe the hypothesis, disagree on its particulars.

The IPCC reports were literally politically negotiated documents and not science. In my book Never Allow A Crisis To Go To Waste, I have detailed multiple admitted frauds included in those reports.

The vast majority of the scientists who support the AGW hypothesis work for the government bureaucracies, receive government grants or do not personally work in the field and simply accept the published works without having tested them.

Finally, NEVER automatically assume that your lawyer is always correct. Use your God given common sense. If the lawyer says something that does not sound quite right, question him or her to make them clarify and support their position. It is your money or you ass on the line, not theirs.

BTW, using lawyers as a proxy for scientists is not helpful to your argument for deferring to credentials. We are trained to argue persuasively on both sides of any issue on behalf of the client who is paying us. ;^)
 

BD: "Scientists will whore for money."

shag: may well apply to attorneys. Query: Do more attorneys or scientists serve as lobbyists?


We have a bingo! Attorneys would be my Exhibit 1 why you should never defer to credentials.


 

Speaking of lobbyists, I caught a rerun of Bill Moyers' current PBS program that focused primarily on the comeback of Ralph Reed. Also featured were Jack Abramoff and Grover Norquist, who with Reed were referred to as the "Three Amigos" going back to the Reagan Administration, then joined at the hip in college republicans ranks. The entire program is available at Bill Moyers' website. Of the three, only Abramoff went to the slammer. But when Abramaoff was know by lobbyists as "Casino Jack," he was able to get his lobbyist clients - Indian Tribes - to provide direct payments to both Reed and Norquist. Reed did run into a tad of hot water that kept him out of the political/religious game for a couple of years. But God apparently forgives Christian sinners and he has a hot not-for-profit Christian organization that provides funds to a for-profit of which Reed is a principal to support the election of GOP candidates.

All this is sort of a "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" of GOP politics. Only Abramaoff has repented, but that apparently doesn't work for a non-Christian.

Reed's current goal seems to be to gin up the Christian Coalition groups to accept R-MONEY and his Mormonism, which many in that Coalition consider a cult. The money Reed is raising is huge. Yes, he has seen the light (of redemption) and has reshaped it as a political halo, with the help of Citizens United and the Supreme Court.

I don't have the URL for Bill Moyers' website; just try Googling. It's worth the effort.
 

Consensus NEVER equals fact, otherwise science would never evolve. The finest minds of the Dark Ages burned women alive based on a consensus that they were witches.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 1:34 PM


That is complete nonsense. It wasn't "the finest minds" who created witches, it was religious nutcases like you. Science is ALWAYS about consensus. It evolves when there are new facts or better explanations for existing facts.

Right now the consensus is the current rapid warming and climate change is man-made. If you have a better explanation, you win a Nobel. Until that day comes along, shut the fuck up.

Anyone who takes you seriously is an idiot.
 

"Consensus NEVER equals fact, otherwise science would never evolve"

You misunderstood my point. I'm not arguing that a fact is established because there is a widespread agreement by experts on an issue, but that the reasonable thing for a layperson is to bet on the probability that the majority of experts, rather than a minority or 'self-educated' folks with less training and time working in the area, are correct.

"there is no consensus concerning the proven facts of the AGW hypothesis"

I'd agree that while there is a pretty compelling consensus on the broader point, there is much debate on many particulars.

"The vast majority of the scientists who support the AGW hypothesis work for the government bureaucracies, receive government grants or do not personally work in the field and simply accept the published works without having tested them."

Even if this were true, it's also true that we are talking about many different governments around the world. Republican governments, Democratic governments, Labor governments, Tory governments, etc. It's not like it's a monolithic thing. I'm betting many of the 'facts' that persons like yourself cite against AGW were derived from scientists who work for governments (directly and indirectly). This shows that the research that flows from such sources is not determined to be one-sided. Besides, there are lots of non-governmental sources of funding for anyone who finds dissenting evidence.

"Finally, NEVER automatically assume that your lawyer is always correct"

This is a dodge of my question, which was, if you had a friend or relative who was about to embark on serious legal matter relying on a 'self-educated' helper rather than a trained lawyer, how would you advise them? I think the answer is clear. This is what the public and policmakers are facing with respect to something like global warming: trained people who work in the field saying one thing, 'self-educated' skpeptics saying another. Forgive those of us who go with the former..






 

BD: "The vast majority of the scientists who support the AGW hypothesis work for the government bureaucracies, receive government grants or do not personally work in the field and simply accept the published works without having tested them."

Mr. W: Even if this were true, it's also true that we are talking about many different governments around the world. Republican governments, Democratic governments, Labor governments, Tory governments, etc.


Agreed and the government scientists agree with their governments.

For example, Russia went along with the IPCC claims until the government decided that the IPCC proposals were not in Russia's national interests. Then Russian scientists started tearing apart the CPU "adjusted" temperature data for arbitrarily eliminating dozens of Siberian weather stations from their figures because they showed cooling.

China plays it both ways. The PRC supports the IPCC mandates on the west so it can sell the west wind and solar equipment, but fights tooth and nail from being placed under those mandates itself.

This is politics, not science.

Mr. W: It's not like it's a monolithic thing. I'm betting many of the 'facts' that persons like yourself cite against AGW were derived from scientists who work for governments (directly and indirectly).

Most of the skeptics come from the commercial climatology community or are from other disciplines such as physics, chemistry and mathematics who disagree with the way the climatologists are playing fast and loose with their data.
 

"Agreed and the government scientists agree with their governments"

I'm not sure what a "government scientist" is. Many scientists work for universities that are run by in part by governments (many of them, in the US many of them are in Republican controlled states, others in Democratic controlled states). Many work for private colleges and institutions, but they may at times do work that involves government grants. Of course they likely also do work that involves private grants. And many work for private commercial agencies. This is hardly some monolithic group.

But the scientific professional organizations, as well as surveys, show that the overwhelming majority of these people from different nations and organizations agree on the basic tenets of AGW.

"come from the commercial climatology community "

So, according to your theory that science follows their paymasters, should we dismiss these folks' work?

"or are from other disciplines such as physics, chemistry and mathematics"

So it's like a biologist telling an engineer that the latter is wrong in an area of engineering, or a lawyer commenting on how trained climatologists have got climatology wrong?




 

BD: "Agreed and the government scientists agree with their governments"

Mr. W: I'm not sure what a "government scientist" is."


I am using the term to refer to those working as a government bureaucrat (think NASA's Hanson) or those whose work is financed by the government (think Prof. Michael Mann).

BD: "come from the commercial climatology community "

Mr. W: So, according to your theory that science follows their paymasters, should we dismiss these folks' work?


These are the folks who provide you with weather reports and AGW research is not part of their normal work.

BD: "or are from other disciplines such as physics, chemistry and mathematics"

Mr. W: So it's like a biologist telling an engineer that the latter is wrong in an area of engineering, or a lawyer commenting on how trained climatologists have got climatology wrong?


No, its like a physicist telling a climatologist that his assumptions as to the green house effect of atmospheric CO2 are physically impossible.
 

"a government bureaucrat (think NASA's Hanson) or those whose work is financed by the government (think Prof. Michael Mann)."

Those are good examples. Your implication is that their findings must be tilted towards their paymasters. There are several problems with that view. For one thing, both Hanson and Mann could easily get work in a variety of sectors, they just currently happen to work in public institutions. Secondly, I'm betting Mann has done work funded by private grant money as well as his public work. Third, take someone like Mann, who worked for public colleges in Virginia and Pennsylvania: both states have had GOP administrations that were not favorable to AGW. So it seems silly to suggest he was just 'pleasing the boss' in that case.

"its like a physicist telling a climatologist that his assumptions as to the green house effect of atmospheric CO2 are physically impossible"

The American Physical Society has endorsed AGW.


 

Off topic:

This evening I saw on TV a trailer for Clint Eastwood's new flick "Trouble With the Curve" in which he stars. It's about baseball. Is it coincidence that Clint was the GOP convention's mystery guest and within a week promoting his new flick on TV? Did "R-MONEY/R-AYN 2012" know about this? Did Clint throw "R-MONEY/R-AYN 2012" a capitalist curveball? Does Bain have an investment in the film? Maybe Clint threw a fastball by "R-MONEY/R-AYN 2012." Hopefully for Clint there won't be empty chairs in theaters featuring "Trouble With the Curve."

Now back to science.
 

BREAKING OFF TOPIC:

Might Clint Eastwood be the "R-MONEY/R-AYN 2012" version of "Curveball" who served Bush/Cheney so well on WMDs in Iraq?

Back to science. But can Daubert be tied into the discussion to demonstrate how late SCOTUS came to recognize science in judicial proceedings (although still lagging on certain forensic "sciences," like handwriting, finger/palm prints, etc)? Keep in mind SCOTUS' skills on (law office) history per Heller and McDonald.
 

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I like baseball movies, often like Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams movies and probably will watch that baseball film, even if he IS a scout for the (grr) Braves. I thought he said he was retired from acting though. Guess he works better from a script than doing a Harvey impression.
 

My Internet journey this morning, as customary, started with the NYTimes website. I was quickly bitten by the nostalgia bug with Dick Cavett's "The Fine Mess-Maker at Home," of Cavett's meeting with Stan Laurel (of Laurel & Hardy fame). I remember my Saturday afternoons at the movie house back in the late 1930s and early 1940s, enjoying Laurel & Hardy, as well as other comedians of that time. (Back here in downtown Boston at that time, we had the "Laff Theatre" on Washington Street, featuring all of them. I was too young for the heyday of Vaudeville, but this was the closest I would get to it.) Yes, a little eye moisture was generated, as Cavett weaved his story with Jack Paar and Johnny Carson moments on Stan Laurel. It made my day.
 

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