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US Gov't Scientist Fired for Web Post -- Revisited

By greyrat in MLP
Mon May 21, 2001 at 04:50:40 PM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

It seems we have been duped once again. The poor hapless employee who posted maps of the caribou calving grounds on the web did lose his job, but not necessarily for the reasons we heard about.


Here's the bullet on the Ian Thomas story (which was posted here on March 18), according to one of my favorite hoax sites:

  • He was a contract worker with the USGS, not a federal employee, and his superiors had already decided not to renew his contract before the controversy over his posting of the caribou data.
  • He was already in trouble at the USGS for other incidents (which led his manager to describe him as "a bit out of control"), such as his posting sensitive Department of Defense data on the USGS site.
  • The decisions to cancel his contract and pull his caribou maps were not made by Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton or any other Bush appointees, but by two biologists at his research center who are both Democrats and opponents of drilling for oil in the ANWR.
  • The caribou data he posted was not only obsolete (and therefore actually understated the prevalence of caribou breeding in the area) but was also well outside the scope of his job and the office he worked for.
  • Here also is the original K5 story from March 18.

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    US Gov't Scientist Fired for Web Post -- Revisited | 108 comments (107 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
    Thank God (2.83 / 12) (#2)
    by RangerBob on Mon May 21, 2001 at 10:08:32 AM EST

    It's about time that some actual facts about this case got posted instead of what was flung around previously. The guy was never the sweet, innocent, unfairly persecuted little fella that people were making him out to be.

    The sad thing is, people still won't learn to have these insane, knee jerk reactions to every little thing :(

    Yet more spin (1.95 / 20) (#3)
    by Eric Jonson on Mon May 21, 2001 at 10:15:28 AM EST

    Once again, the tree worshipping environmentalists have managed to create a story from nothing in order to support their position given the lack of hard evidence they can put foward. Of course they couldn't have done it if Thomas hadn't been such a petty-minded man that he couldn't take the termination of his contract - such behavior is childish at best. Then again, from the sounds if it his mentality was hardly that of a professional.

    The trouble with the net is that fabrications like this can be spread with rediculous ease amongst the credulous morons that make up the majority of people online. Thanks to the wonders of "modern culture" (ha!) people have been trained to believe what they are presented with, something the luddites masquarading as environmentalists have exploited in order to raise fears about global warming and so on.

    Again, it makes me wonder whether net access for all is the goal we should be aiming for, because all it will mean is more propaganda and more "scientific" bullshit pumped into the minds of the gullible. Maybe first we should take a look at the education system and it's liberal "one size fits all" policies that give rise to this herd-like behavior before we consider net access a priority.

    Global warming, man made or natural, is real. (1.75 / 4) (#6)
    by Tezcatlipoca on Mon May 21, 2001 at 11:48:00 AM EST

    The only thing that is under debate is how much human activity contributes to global warming.

    I guess species disapering (the only thing left in 100 years very well could be only domestic stuff) is also a hoax.

    And the reduction of the rain forest. Yeah, that is also a hoax (never mind the plethora of infomration and photograps during the last 25 years showing us this).

    Of course, CO2, that would kill you if it is the only thing you can breath, that is 100% proven to be a green house effect gas, is not a bad thing.

    Damn those scientists! Liars, liars, liars.

    I wonder who has the sheep mentality: the one that closes the eyes as long as everything seems ok to him or the one that worries that many things don't seem to be OK and has the capacity to think more than 2 months ahead.

    I'll send you your grass by DHL.



    Might is right
    Freedom? Which freedom?
    [ Parent ]
    Do you zero rate everything you don't agree with? (2.50 / 6) (#9)
    by Eric Jonson on Mon May 21, 2001 at 12:17:53 PM EST

    Because what, you don't believe other people should be exposed to alternative opinions? Because you're so sure that you're right that there's no point in anyone else seeing counter-arguments? Please, do explain.

    The only thing that is under debate is how much human activity contributes to global warming.

    In your mind perhaps. But despite propaganda from the UN and other "concerned" bodies, there is certainly no such agreement within the scientific community over whether global warming is a real phenomenon at all. There is no hard evidence to document that global warming is real at all.

    Please, prove me wrong. Show me some hard facts with definite causes.

    And the reduction of the rain forest. Yeah, that is also a hoax (never mind the plethora of infomration and photograps during the last 25 years showing us this).

    That is a different matter entirely.

    Of course, CO2, that would kill you if it is the only thing you can breath, that is 100% proven to be a green house effect gas, is not a bad thing.

    Of course not, it is essential to any number of natural cycles and processes. And yes, it is a "greenhouse gas", one that is vitally important to the well being of the world.

    Damn those scientists! Liars, liars, liars.

    The only lie is that global warming is real. It is at best a hypothesis, and yet is has been hyped up into a global catastophe by environmentalists and bodies like the UN, which would only be too happy to take control of the US's energy policy through treaties like Kyoto.

    I wonder who has the sheep mentality: the one that closes the eyes as long as everything seems ok to him or the one that worries that many things don't seem to be OK and has the capacity to think more than 2 months ahead.

    Or the one who believes everything they see in the news without doing some of their own research?

    [ Parent ]

    Well... (2.40 / 5) (#13)
    by Anonymous 6522 on Mon May 21, 2001 at 01:54:49 PM EST

    YAAT YHL HAND

    The only thing that is under debate is how much human activity contributes to global warming.
    In your mind perhaps. But despite propaganda from the UN and other "concerned" bodies, there is certainly no such agreement within the scientific community over whether global warming is a real phenomenon at all. There is no hard evidence to document that global warming is real at all. Please, prove me wrong. Show me some hard facts with definite causes.
    In your mind perhaps. Please, prove me wrong. Show me some hard facts showing that global warming is a myth.

    Of course, CO2, that would kill you if it is the only thing you can breath, that is 100% proven to be a green house effect gas, is not a bad thing.
    Of course not, it is essential to any number of natural cycles and processes. And yes, it is a "greenhouse gas", one that is vitally important to the well being of the world.
    I will give you $10 if you breath nothing but CO2 for 20 minutes. There are substances that are needed in small amounts, but are poison in large amounts.

    Or the one who believes everything they see in the news without doing some of their own research?
    What research have you done?

    YAAT YHL HAND

    [ Parent ]

    Oh come on (1.60 / 5) (#14)
    by Eric Jonson on Mon May 21, 2001 at 02:52:17 PM EST

    YAAT YHL HAND

    YAAT?

    In your mind perhaps. Please, prove me wrong. Show me some hard facts showing that global warming is a myth.

    I rather think the onus is on the ones trying to prove that there is an effect... :)

    I will give you $10 if you breath nothing but CO2 for 20 minutes. There are substances that are needed in small amounts, but are poison in large amounts.

    Yup. Well done. I already knew that, but thanks.

    What research have you done?

    I might ask the same about you.

    [ Parent ]

    Aay. (2.75 / 4) (#17)
    by Anonymous 6522 on Mon May 21, 2001 at 03:41:11 PM EST

    In your mind perhaps. Please, prove me wrong. Show me some hard facts showing that global warming is a myth.

    I rather think the onus is on the ones trying to prove that there is an effect... :)

    It's the responsibility of both groups to prove themselves.

    might ask the same about you.

    I looked at this this. That's all, but I'm not making claims that it exists/is a myth.

    [ Parent ]

    Easy (2.20 / 5) (#16)
    by weirdling on Mon May 21, 2001 at 03:22:14 PM EST

    Sattelite data is inconclusive. The effect of CO2 is overstated. The models do not predict the average temperature now, given 70s data. Global warming is the worst piece of junk science in a while. Of course, its from the Cato Institute, which many liberals refuse to read, primarily because it disagrees with pet liberal ideas, but it is a form of authority to cite: here.

    I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
    [ Parent ]
    To quote that study... (3.00 / 2) (#18)
    by Anonymous 6522 on Mon May 21, 2001 at 04:16:57 PM EST

    Regardless, it must be remembered that few scientists actually dispute the fact that the globe has warmed over the last 100 years and that industrial greenhouse gas emissions are probably the main reason for warming in the last 50 years. The central issue is not whether it has warmed or not, nor is it whether industrial emissions are responsible for that warming. The issue is how much warming will occur and how it will be distributed through time and space and whether it will prove harmful.

    So, according to this guy, global warming is a fact, and it is probably caused by industrial pollutants, but the temperature has not increased as much as some of the computer models had predicted. He says that we should be worrying about how much we will be able to affect the climate and if those effects will prove harmful.

    [ Parent ]

    Sorry, wrong study... (2.00 / 1) (#45)
    by weirdling on Tue May 22, 2001 at 03:02:25 PM EST

    Well, I thought that was the right one, but I can't seem to find the right one. So, for what it's worth, here is the simple story: Analysis of sattelite data is extremely tricky. Most scientists until recently avoided such analysis due to this difficulty and relied on land temperature readings. Problem is that these are spot readings, not global readings. Now, in recent history, their have been some new difficulties to go with the old ones of differing sattelites with differing correction patterns: the surface of the ocean simply isn't a good indication of ocean temperature.
    Essentially what I'm saying is that the data used to calculate the agreed status of global warming are faulty. There is no real consensus that says that the earth is definately warming up. The best estimates right now put it at around 1 degree per 100 years or so, or in line with estimates based on past global climate trends. In other words, we are coming out of an ice age, so it would seem obvious that the globe would be warming, and this isn't necessarily a bad thing or even something we can do anything about.

    I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
    [ Parent ]
    God damn you idiot (3.40 / 5) (#24)
    by delmoi on Mon May 21, 2001 at 07:43:11 PM EST

    I will give you $10 if you breath nothing but CO2 for 20 minutes. There are substances that are needed in small amounts, but are poison in large amounts.

    I'd take your $10 to breathe CO2 if there were about 20% oxygen mixed in. I will not cut off my oxygen supply for 10 minutes.

    every day I breathe 75-80% nitrogen. I would die if that figure was 100%, because I can't live without oxygen. CO2 and nitrogen are not harmful chemicals.

    If you put me in a room with enough oxygen for me to survive, I would be fine. If you doubled the pressure, and halved the percentage of oxygen I would be fine. If you quadrupled the pressure and quartered the percentage of oxygen, again, I would be fine.

    Saying that co2 is poisonous is absolute hyperbole and completely intellectually dishonest.
    --
    "'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
    [ Parent ]
    Hm (4.00 / 2) (#26)
    by fluffy grue on Mon May 21, 2001 at 09:35:32 PM EST

    What I'd be interested in is how comfortable one would be in an 80/20 CO2/O2 mix. After all, our feeling of suffocation is triggered by excess CO2, not by insufficient O2... fill your lungs with pure N2, He, or any number of things which aren't CO2, and you won't feel that you need to breathe, even though you're suffocating, but even when there's sufficient oxygen in the air, I'd imagine that the 80% CO2 would cause you to feel that you're suffocating and then hyperventilate, and then you'd probably pass out and die anyway. :)
    --
    "Is not a quine" is not a quine.
    I have a master's degree in science!

    [ Hug Your Trikuare ]
    [ Parent ]

    Me idiot? Me no idiot. (2.00 / 1) (#28)
    by Anonymous 6522 on Mon May 21, 2001 at 11:08:00 PM EST

    I'm only offering the $10 for breathing 100% CO2. I may give you $5 if you breath the helium/oxygen mixture that some deep sea divers use, but only if I can hear you talk.

    Saying that co2 is poisonous is absolute hyperbole and completely intellectually dishonest.

    I'm not trying to say that CO2 is poisonous, I'm saying that small amounts of some things are essential, but that doesn't mean that larger amounts can't be harmful. It was a bad choice to use the word "poison."

    This is how I would read the two sentences in question, along with what they were responding to.

    Of course, CO2, that would kill you if it is the only thing you can breath...

    Of course not, it is essential to any number of natural cycles and processes...
    I will give you $10 if you breath nothing but CO2 for 20 minutes...
    ...that is 100% proven to be a green house effect gas, is not a bad thing.
    And yes, it is a "greenhouse gas", one that is vitally important to the well being of the world.
    There are substances that are needed in small amounts, but are poison^H^H^H^H^H^Hharmful in large[r] amounts.


    [ Parent ]
    I'm glad you don't have easy access to CO2. (4.50 / 6) (#30)
    by plastik55 on Tue May 22, 2001 at 02:35:20 AM EST

    Christ, will you at least do a simple web search before you make ludicrous claims that may be hazardous to your health?

    If you look up the material safety data sheet for carbon dioxide, you find quickly (it's under "part 11: toxicological information") that the lethal concentration level (LCLo) is 9% CO2 for 5 minutes exposure. Longer term exposure (6% over 24 hours) will cause serious toxicity. Breathing air that is 3% CO2 might make you feel ill over the course of the day.

    An excerpt from what a google search turns up:

    Other human data: Signs of intoxication have been produced by a 30­minute exposure at 50,000 ppm [Aero 1953], and a few minutes exposure at 70,000 to 100,000 ppm produces unconsciousness [Flury and Zernik 1931]. It has been reported that submarine personnel exposed continuously at 30,000 ppm were only slightly affected, provided the oxygen content of the air was maintained at normal concentrations [Schaefer 1951]. It has been reported that 100,000 ppm is the atmospheric concentration immediately dangerous to life [AIHA 1971] and that exposure to 100,000 ppm for only a few minutes can cause loss of consciousness [Hunter 1975].
    Fucking idiot. Remind me again who was being "intellectually dishonest" and was speaking "absolute hyperbole."

    [ Parent ]
    oops (none / 0) (#67)
    by delmoi on Wed May 23, 2001 at 04:33:03 PM EST

    it appears I was mistaken.
    --
    "'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
    [ Parent ]
    Organizations who think global warming is real... (5.00 / 4) (#21)
    by jwilliam on Mon May 21, 2001 at 06:25:14 PM EST

    US Global Change Research Program

    US National Climate Data Center

    UK Meteorological Office

    Environmental Protection Agency

    US Global Change Research Information Office

    World Meteorological Organization

    NASA

    Out of curiosity, what would you call "agreement" within the scientific community?

    BTW, a number of those links are endorsing the IPCC view, and/or are presenting evidence at least partially based on the IPCC findings (the IPCC is a scientific endeavor initiated by the UN) . This hardly invalidates the fact, though, that we have US-based research laboratories saying "Yeah, we've read the reports and agree with their findings".

    Joe

    [ Parent ]

    Government Agencies spreading FUD about weather (2.00 / 2) (#31)
    by PresJPolk on Tue May 22, 2001 at 03:20:46 AM EST

    Did you ever think that maybe people who work in government full-time have an incentive to pay for pro-warming results, in order to gain public support for increased funding/power?

    Just as every study funded by oil or other industries is immediately dismissed for a conflict of interest, perhaps these should be, too.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Government Agencies spreading FUD about weath (4.33 / 3) (#32)
    by jwilliam on Tue May 22, 2001 at 05:05:38 AM EST

    Did you ever think that maybe people who work in government full-time have an incentive to pay for pro-warming results, in order to gain public support for increased funding/power?

    Sure.

    I'll admit I don't know the precise funding sources of the qouted agencies, but my gut instinct is that since the EPA, National Climate Data Center, and World Meteorological Organization provide services beyond the scope of global climate change, they would probley continue to receive significant funding even if their scientists determined there was no significant warming trends.

    UK meteorological office(Hardley Centre), USGCRP and Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies are slightly more suspectible, since they acknowledge one of their primary goals is studying how the climate changes. But their is nothing in their charters saying that they only study anthropogenic climate change (and in fact, they specifically state they want to study natural climate changes too). So, even here, I suspect their funding wouldn't be entirely at risk, since a drought caused by mother nature can wreak significant damage and it would be usefull to know when it's about to hit to plan for it.

    BTW, I goofed up, GCRIO is just a data warehouse for USGCRP and not an independant institute.

    Joe

    [ Parent ]

    Misinformation is not an alternative opinion. (3.00 / 1) (#34)
    by Tezcatlipoca on Tue May 22, 2001 at 06:09:05 AM EST

    As somebody else pointed out in this thread, there are plenty of serious organizations that support the fact that CO2 contributes to global warming. It is like those people that say the Moon landing is a hoax or that HIV does not cause AIDS. All of them will get 0 from me, not because they have different opinions, but because their "opinion" has been proven false by all serious accounts and to entertain yet again the same crap is a waste of time.

    As I said, we still have to find out how much hand made CO2 contributes to this, but either way is not in mankind interest to have too much CO2 as most scientists agree it would not be a good thing (climate change, raising oceans and the like).

    We can deal we climitic change in a normal natural fashion, our ancestors did. We will not be able to cope if those changes are too fast and abrupt.

    We have proven how destructive we can be, but yet we refuse to believe we could be causing damage. It is like if the Unabomber has a bomb ready to blast in his hands and somebody comes and say "no, he will blast nobody, it is all a goverment conspiracy and the leftist media".

    Anyway, there is little hope. Until Disneyland is covered by seawater most people will refuse to accept the facts, by then it will be too late.

    Might is right
    Freedom? Which freedom?
    [ Parent ]
    CO2? (3.50 / 4) (#22)
    by delmoi on Mon May 21, 2001 at 06:31:39 PM EST

    Of course, CO2, that would kill you if it is the only thing you can breath, that is 100% proven to be a green house effect gas, is not a bad thing.

    What the hell is this, slashdot? If there is not enough oxygen, then you die. It doesn't matter what else is there. The same is true for Nitrogen, even though it makes up 80% of the air you breath, you'll die if it's 100%. This has nothing to do with anything other then nitrogen and CO2's 'not oxygen'-ness.

    In fact, every time you exhale, you're breathing out CO2.
    --
    "'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
    [ Parent ]
    The Net isn't necessarily the cause (3.33 / 3) (#8)
    by RangerBob on Mon May 21, 2001 at 12:04:42 PM EST

    If people didn't get it through the Internet, they'd get it through television or hearsay. I think that the Net just allowed it to take less time than it did before. If anything, there's a bright side to the Net when places like Snopes will debunk things like this.

    [ Parent ]
    Spin (3.66 / 12) (#4)
    by wiredog on Mon May 21, 2001 at 10:26:04 AM EST

    The environmentalists made a big deal out of this. But the Republicans made a big deal out of this calculated effort to plant a damaging story.

    "Anything that's invented after you're 35 is against the natural order of things", Douglas Adams
    Who said (3.66 / 6) (#5)
    by Sikpup on Mon May 21, 2001 at 11:35:34 AM EST

    "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story."

    I think that might have been... (none / 0) (#36)
    by Whizard on Tue May 22, 2001 at 10:34:04 AM EST

    ...Rob Malda.

    *grins, ducks, and runs*


    --
    So Lawrence Lessig, John Perry Barlow, Rusty, and Prince are having dinner...
    [ Parent ]
    Good that the truth is out there. (3.00 / 6) (#7)
    by Tezcatlipoca on Mon May 21, 2001 at 11:59:35 AM EST

    If this guy deceived everybody it is a good thing that he is unmasked.

    Nevertheless the point remains the same: the US is the most ineficent country environmentaly speaking. This ineficency could (will I guess) be translated in more damage to now protected areas.

    When is it all going to stop? When there is nothing left?

    Those that seem so unconcerned as long as they can drive their car or turn their air con, don't you dread the consequences economical, moral, ecological of a depleted world in the not so distant future?

    For you is nice and dandy to say nothing is happening, because you are transfering the ecological costs to 3rd World countries or to remote areas where you can't see the damage. This equates to put the dust under the carpet. Sooner or later, the amount of dust under that carpet will be so much that there will be no place to hide it anymore, but by then it would be too late for your children or grandchildren.

    I hope they can trace the emails and messages of grandpa, so they know who to curse once they begin the ungrateful task of fixing the mess.

    Might is right
    Freedom? Which freedom?
    Heh... (3.57 / 7) (#10)
    by trhurler on Mon May 21, 2001 at 01:03:41 PM EST

    Interesting, if true. Unfortunately, a blatant falsehood. The US, when you adjust for land mass, population, and economic output, is the most efficient and cleanest nation on earth. When you then add "carbon sinks," we're so far ahead of everyone else that it isn't even funny. This despite Europe and Japan having a very heavy reliance on nuclear power.

    But you won't read that in the news, because it doesn't go along with the general anti-US ecofreak leftist bullshit dogma. :)

    --
    And when you consider that Siggy is second only to trhurler as far as posters whose name at the top of a comment fill me with forboding, that's sayin
    [ Parent ]
    cite? (3.50 / 4) (#11)
    by samth on Mon May 21, 2001 at 01:30:59 PM EST

    As a regular spouter of "anti-US ecofreak leftist bullshit dogma", I'd like to see your data on this.

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]
    Hmm... (3.60 / 5) (#12)
    by trhurler on Mon May 21, 2001 at 01:49:02 PM EST

    Before I even provide the cite, let me state that I think some of this guy's claims are, at best, a bit loony. However, his figures are interesting, and they're based on publicly available US government data.

    This guy does a somewhat poor job of citing, but I checked, and as he says, you can easily get the figures he uses from the US Departments of Energy and Commerce. I wish he'd been a bit more rigorous, but the fact remains that unless the US government is maintaining wholesale fictions as public data, his numbers are pretty close, if not dead on.

    The real question is, why would you be so surprised? Leftists have been no less averse to lying with statistics than anyone else, and in general, environmentalism has always been worse about this than most movements, partly because your average environmentalist is a teenaged enthusiast rather than an educated person engaged in reasonable debate over an issue. Emotion has always trumped reason in this arena, and probably always will, and yet you sound as though you cannot believe that anything you've been told could possibly be false? That's pretty gullible, if you ask me.

    --
    And when you consider that Siggy is second only to trhurler as far as posters whose name at the top of a comment fill me with forboding, that's sayin
    [ Parent ]
    I have often suspected this (3.33 / 3) (#15)
    by weirdling on Mon May 21, 2001 at 03:09:46 PM EST

    Two things bother me about the Kyoto accords. One, it seems that the makers of the accords are far more interested in destroying various carbon-using engines than reducing CO2 in the atmosphere; they don't even have any research to indicate how much the US' vast acreage of woodland affects the numbers. We have more land under wood than any other developed nation except Canada.
    The other thing that bothers me is that there has been a drive in Europe to force the US to conform to every other policy they have, as well. The US isn't subject to any world court, while most of the rest of the West is. The Kyoto accords would have set a precedent for the US being subject to an authority not inside its bounds, allowing the one-world people to get a foot in, as it were.

    I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
    [ Parent ]
    wrong (4.50 / 2) (#44)
    by samth on Tue May 22, 2001 at 02:08:01 PM EST

    At least trhurler has actual evidence.

    One, it seems that the makers of the accords are far more interested in destroying various carbon-using engines than reducing CO2 in the atmosphere; they don't even have any research to indicate how much the US' vast acreage of woodland affects the numbers. We have more land under wood than any other developed nation except Canada.

    As to your first point, uh, no. Exactly why would the various EU governments be interested in the destruction of "carbon-using engines"? Oh, sorry, I forgot. They're eco-freaks, and care abut nothing besides the destruction of modern society.

    As to your point about woodlands, I believe that Russia has more forest than either the US or canada (being much bigger than either). Also, if they don't care about the effects of forests, then why did they put a section on carbon sinks in the accord? [1]

    The other thing that bothers me is that there has been a drive in Europe to force the US to conform to every other policy they have, as well.

    And a damn good thing too. We could stand to learn a little.

    The US isn't subject to any world court, while most of the rest of the West is.

    Mostly because we haven't signed the ICC treaty yet, since our government is worried that we might be held accountable for our own human rights violations, instead of just talking about those of others. Gasp. Not that.

    The Kyoto accords would have set a precedent for the US being subject to an authority not inside its bounds, allowing the one-world people to get a foot in, as it were.

    Watch out. The UN and their black helicopters are coming to get you.

    Seriously, the US already participates in lots of international agreements which give up way more of our sovereignty than Kyoto. Kyoto just commits us to reduce emissions. The WTO commits us to change our laws if they don't properly conform to the interests of multinational corporations.

    And if you think the advocates of Kyoto are "one-world people", you really are clueless.

    [1] http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/pubs/factsheets/fs_sinks.html


    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    No, you're wrong (2.00 / 2) (#46)
    by weirdling on Tue May 22, 2001 at 03:05:29 PM EST

    Sorry, couldn't resist.
    Just to pull one error out: Russia has way less land mass than either the US or Canada. Or did you mean the former Soviet Union?
    Another one: learning something from Europeans would, I guess, be a matter of perspective. I'm thoroughly convinced that much of their policies are the cause for much of their problems, so why should we change our system, which works well, to mimic theirs, which works less well?

    I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
    [ Parent ]
    oops (5.00 / 2) (#48)
    by samth on Tue May 22, 2001 at 04:02:23 PM EST

    You lose.

    Just to pull one error out: Russia has way less land mass than either the US or Canada. Or did you mean the former Soviet Union?

    Actually, I meant Russia, which according to the CIA World Factbook has "Area - comparative: slightly less than 1.8 times the size of the US". Any other "errors"?

    Another one: learning something from Europeans would, I guess, be a matter of perspective. I'm thoroughly convinced that much of their policies are the cause for much of their problems, so why should we change our system, which works well, to mimic theirs, which works less well?

    Their problems? Like their murder rate? [1] Or their infant mortality rate? [2] Or their poverty rate? [3]

    Maybe you would like to revise your estimates of Europe.

    [1] http://www.mhhe.com/socscience/social/myers/sg/ch10/slideshows/sld007.htm
    [2] http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0004393.html
    [3] http://webmap.missouri.edu/htmlized/economics/poverty.young-n-old.html

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    Ok, point conceded (none / 0) (#63)
    by weirdling on Wed May 23, 2001 at 02:27:50 PM EST

    I did not realise Russia was that big.<br><br>

    As to the homicide rates, how about <a href="http://www.shadeslanding.com/firearms/kates.premises.html">here</a>. To summarise, murder rates are essentially not comparable even amongst European countries, and certainly not between more disparate countries, such as the US, GB, and Australia.<br>
    As to the poverty rate, I assume you realise that most European states are quasi-socialist? The US has a steady habit of increasing the poverty line in order to cause more people to be in poverty in order that the Democrats can show a need for such socialist policies. In other words, these numbers aren't really comparable, either, but since you asked, I'm not in favor of wonking politically to end this, as that will result in a system with less freedom and therefore less innovation; ie, a European system.<br>
    Make no mistake; the Europeans have what they want. I just don't want what they have. I'm willing to take a different set of trade-offs because I believe the result will be superior, and, historically, it has. Right now, the US economy is once again the strongest, largest economy in the world. This is, IMO, a result of our freedom, which the policies that cause the results that you demonstrate would destroy very surely. I'd rather live in the 'land of the free and home of the brave' in abject poverty...
    <br>
    I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
    [ Parent ]
    more points to concede (none / 0) (#94)
    by samth on Fri May 25, 2001 at 09:16:36 AM EST

    As to the homicide rates, how about here. To summarise, murder rates are essentially not comparable even amongst European countries, and certainly not between more disparate countries, such as the US, GB, and Australia.

    That link says nothing of the sort. It talks exclusively about gun violence, and only observes that European countries have lower rates of non-gun violence as well. This does nothing to disprove my point that European countries have lower murder rates.

    As to the poverty rate, I assume you realise that most European states are quasi-socialist? The US has a steady habit of increasing the poverty line in order to cause more people to be in poverty in order that the Democrats can show a need for such socialist policies. In other words, these numbers aren't really comparable, either, but since you asked, I'm not in favor of wonking politically to end this, as that will result in a system with less freedom and therefore less innovation; ie, a European system.

    Yes, I realize what the social safety net in Europe is like, and that was precisely my point.

    As to the "steadily increasing poverty line", much of that is due to inflation, as this page makes clear. This is an interesting discussion on the changes in the poverty line over time. A comprehensive reference on the poverty line is here. The actual rise in the poverty line is consisten with approximately 3.5% annual inflation over the last 20 years, ignoring other factors.

    Also, if you think that the Democrats' policies are "socialist", you need to get out more, and meet some actual socialists. The democrats nominated Al Gore, for god's sake.

    As for freedom , I claim that capitalism curtails freedom. On the innovation count, Linux, the Web, 3G mobile phones. And you don't get to count anything the government paid for (like the internet).

    I'm willing to take a different set of trade-offs because I believe the result will be superior, and, historically, it has.

    You say it's superior. I say it's disgusting.

    Right now, the US economy is once again the strongest, largest economy in the world.

    Well, the US economy is widely thought to be headed into recession. And the Europeans are doing quite well. Not to mention that the EU is a larger economy than the US. Finally, I hope that's not your most important measure of worth.

    I'd rather live in the 'land of the free and home of the brave' in abject poverty...

    Easy to say that now, when you aren't.

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    A few questions (none / 0) (#96)
    by weirdling on Fri May 25, 2001 at 01:48:10 PM EST

    Did you read the article? It has a discussion on comparing crime rates, which is what you were doing, and the difficulties involved. Sure, the European nations tend to have lower crime. They also have much more draconian laws and much easier prosecution. No thanks.
    The EU is humming away? Too funny for words.
    I guess the world needs a place to put people who think like Europeans, and Europe is a fine place for that, but leave America to those who think like Americans.
    Anyway, that social safety net in Europe is one of the reasons I would never live there. I have no interest in paying that sort of cash for the kinds of services offered.
    The US is headed into a recession? We call what is happening now a 'bear market'. They happen every once in a while in a free economy. It is the price you pay for the bull markets of the nineties. However, no bear market in recent history has ever lasted much more than a few years, although it might take ten years to hit a bull market again.
    As to rather being here in abject poverty, I have lived below the poverty line for most of my life. It really isn't that bad. The poverty line is artificially drawn high. It was done so to show a lot of people in poverty, hence the need for social programs. Over time, it has kept up with inflation, but to me, a more genuine poverty line would be one where the people in question can't even get food and shelter, not one where they are forced to wear hand-me-down clothes and do without cable. Did you know Gore and Clinton wanted federal subsidies to help the 'disenfranchised' get internet access?
    There is a lot of information to suggest that the great social programs enacted by liberals have kept an entire generation below the poverty line. The word is 'disincentivised'.
    As to the crack about libertarianism, I fail to understand the anger it provokes. However, throwing temper tantrums and denigrating those who disagree are two things liberals are very good at, so I am not surprised. I just want to know why you'd pick such a small and relatively insignificant political party to pick on unless you are seriously afraid of them...

    I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
    [ Parent ]
    uh (none / 0) (#99)
    by samth on Fri May 25, 2001 at 05:49:53 PM EST

    Did you read the article? It has a discussion on comparing crime rates, which is what you were doing, and the difficulties involved. Sure, the European nations tend to have lower crime. They also have much more draconian laws and much easier prosecution. No thanks.

    Well, they don't have more draconian laws, but they do have easier prosecution. However, the article specifically describes such reasoning about crime rates as "fatuous". In fact, he quotes someone else approvingly saying "the underlying determinants of the homicide rate relate to particular cultural factors".

    Anyway, that social safety net in Europe is one of the reasons I would never live there. I have no interest in paying that sort of cash for the kinds of services offered.

    I consider what you have an interest in to be of the utmost irrelevance.

    The US is headed into a recession? We call what is happening now a 'bear market'. They happen every once in a while in a free economy. It is the price you pay for the bull markets of the nineties. However, no bear market in recent history has ever lasted much more than a few years, although it might take ten years to hit a bull market again.

    Lots of people think the US is headed into a recession. Alan Greenspan is worried, for example.

    As to rather being here in abject poverty, I have lived below the poverty line for most of my life. It really isn't that bad.

    In earlier posts here, you've said you were born in Africa? Do you mean you lived below the poverty line there? Was that the US poverty line (obviously not directly applicable)? And presumably you haven't lived below the poverty line since you went to college, right?

    The poverty line is artificially drawn high. It was done so to show a lot of people in poverty, hence the need for social programs. Over time, it has kept up with inflation, but to me, a more genuine poverty line would be one where the people in question can't even get food and shelter, not one where they are forced to wear hand-me-down clothes and do without cable.

    I suggest you actually read the papers I linked to, which discuss this very question. Poverty doesn't mean being unable to feed yourself. And the poverty line has been drawn the way it is since before the Great Society.

    Did you know Gore and Clinton wanted federal subsidies to help the 'disenfranchised' get internet access?

    And why shouldn't they? Having internet access is one of the best ways to get skills to get a high-paying job. Why should that advantage be afforded only to the 'enfranchised'?

    There is a lot of information to suggest that the great social programs enacted by liberals have kept an entire generation below the poverty line. The word is 'disincentivised'.

    If that word is your 'lot of information', ha. If you really have a 'lot of information', produce it. But you'd have to counter the fact that poverty went down when the Great Society was introduced, and has gone up since it's programs were removed in the last few years.

    As to the crack about libertarianism, I fail to understand the anger it provokes. However, throwing temper tantrums and denigrating those who disagree are two things liberals are very good at, so I am not surprised. I just want to know why you'd pick such a small and relatively insignificant political party to pick on unless you are seriously afraid of them...

    I fail to see why the crack (which I have as my sig because it's funny, not because I care deeply about libertarianism) provokes anger either. Oh, that isn't what you meant? :-)

    If I denigrate someone here, it's because they said something stupid. And I challenge you to find me throwing a temper tantrum.

    Finally, I am certainly scared of anyone who thinks that it's a moral imperative to put dollars above human life.

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    Ok (none / 0) (#105)
    by weirdling on Tue May 29, 2001 at 04:07:45 PM EST

    Well, they don't have more draconian laws, but they do have easier prosecution. However, the article specifically describes such reasoning about crime rates as "fatuous". In fact, he quotes someone else approvingly saying "the underlying determinants of the homicide rate relate to particular cultural factors".

    Exactly so. Essentially, the original poster had used crime statistics to bolster the claim that Europe had things better.
    Lots of people think the US is headed into a recession. Alan Greenspan is worried, for example.

    Worried, yes. Sure, no. Right now, the US economy is about where it was ten or so years ago. It isn't wildly growing, but, at the moment, it isn't recessionary, either.
    In earlier posts here, you've said you were born in Africa? Do you mean you lived below the poverty line there? Was that the US poverty line (obviously not directly applicable)? And presumably you haven't lived below the poverty line since you went to college, right?

    Of course, the poverty line would have been much lower in Africa, but no, I was below the poverty line in the US for quite some time. It really isn't that bad.
    If that word is your 'lot of information', ha. If you really have a 'lot of information', produce it. But you'd have to counter the fact that poverty went down when the Great Society was introduced, and has gone up since it's programs were removed in the last few years.

    And you'd have to be particularly naiive to think that the only cause was the 'Great Society'. WWII actually ended the Great Depression, not the Great Society. The subsequent fifties and early sixties were the greatest period of economic prosperity in the US in history, period. During that time, a man could support his entire family. However, the societal revolution in the late sixties and early seventies changed all that, as did the Carter-era stagflation. Then came the eighties, leading to the nineties, during which time anyone could get a job here. Subsequently, now that we are in the 2000s, there is a mild increase in unemployment, but people are still hiring. What this means is that those who are less apt may not be able to get jobs. However, the driving force in poverty this whole time has not been social work but the economy.

    To quote a bit from here:
    Q- Figures for children in poverty were first calculated in 1929.
    In 1959, the figures stood at 26.9 percent and in 1985 at 20.1 percent meaning that although poverty had declined since the fifties close to 13 million children were living in families below the 1985 government's official poverty line cut-off of $10,989 for a family of four. Of those 13 million children, 43.1 percent were black, 39.6 percent were Hispanic and 15.6 percent white.
    A- Do you have figures for the 1990s yet?
    Q- According to the Census Bureau the number of Americans below the poverty line amounted to 13.5 percent of the U. S. population. The poverty figures released in September, 1991 showed the poverty rate for children under the age of six stood at 23.6 percent. The official poverty line, which varies according to such factors as family size and age, averaged $6,652 for an individual and $13,359 for a family of four.
    A- Not to belittle the financial straits of any family of four receiving only $13,000 in income, still I think it might be enlightening to consider that my own family has probably contributed to those figures in the past.
    Q- What do you mean?
    A- You should realize that in some fields it is not uncommon to receive large sums of money one year and then nothing for two or three years.
    If net worth were considered the poverty statistics would be more accurate.
    They would also show a more accurate picture if housing, health and food subsidies were counted in figuring the poverty level. It is well known that some people are better off financially by being on the dole, than they would be working for low pay. Many low-income families, while their earnings may put them above the poverty level, do not have as high a standard of living as those with lower incomes supplemented by government subsidies. I think everyone agrees the government needs to reward effort, not penalize work as it has been doing by its wrong-headed policies in the past.
    Q- Poverty was one of those subjective words until policymakers stepped in and made it "whatever they want it to mean." Many people are counted as poor who are not deprived in any objective standard, because there is considerable disagreement as to what should be considered in determining poverty.
    A- The results of a poll were released in the summer of 1991 showing that a very large percentage of the nation's children were going to bed hungry. I remember listening to the questions asked in the polling process and thinking to myself that if asked those same questions when they were young kids, any and all five of our sons could have answered in such a way that they would have been counted as "children going to bed hungry." In fact it was the rare child that wouldn't have.
    Q- That's the type of subjective information I was referring to earlier.
    I heard that in 1974, children became the poorest group in our population--whatever in the world that is supposed to mean since children have never had any money. Isn't money the thing that is counted in determining poverty statistics?
    A- Poverty thresholds were first set in 1961 when the Social Security Administration, along with the Agricultural Department, determined the income necessary to adequately feed the number of children and adults in any given household and multiplied by three---food took approximately one-third of most people's household budgets back then.

    Essentially, those on welfare, at least here in the States, are not incentivised to leave welfare. They do have a higher standard of living than if they worked. The result is, of course, that they stay on welfare, but the welfare system was much worse: you got more money by having more kids, who grew up on welfare. This is part of the problem of inner-city rot that the dot-com revolution went a long way to fixing. See, people on welfare are disincentivised to get their own money by the fact that they can't work and be on welfare.
    Further, standards of living are relative. Do you wish for the government to pay for everyone to achieve, say, Warren Buffet's standard of living? Where do you draw the line?
    Finally, I am certainly scared of anyone who thinks that it's a moral imperative to put dollars above human life.

    Standard liberal statement, but let's investigate. Say, for instance, we take people away from low-paying jobs, and give them government money. That money has to come from somewhere. It comes from taxes from people who make money, ie, contribute. Now, when those people have less money, they buy less. Those who can now purchase without contributing inflate the cost of goods while those who purchase less yet contribute face reduced quality of life. Eventually, too few people are really producing for the system to remain viable. Then you have high inflation caused by more people purchasing than contributing combined with a strong disincentive to produce, resulting in an economic crash. The pattern is incredibly predictable.
    So, you see, it isn't a moral imperative; it's merely an understanding of how things work. What I want to know is why it is a moral imperative to give those who have not earned it a higher standard of living than those who have. How is that fair? If I can and do earn a good living, why should I pay a significant portion of my income to those who do not contribute? In other words, my argument isn't a moral one; I don't believe in morality. My argument is, in the words of economics, a 'positive' one, based on how things are, not on some sort of ideal. 'Normative' arguments are based on how things should be and are often flawed as a result.

    I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
    [ Parent ]
    ok? (none / 0) (#107)
    by samth on Wed May 30, 2001 at 08:11:45 AM EST

    Exactly so. Essentially, the original poster had used crime statistics to bolster the claim that Europe had things better.

    Well, the original poster was me, and yes, I did make that claim. You haven't refuted it, and the only thing demonstrated about it so far is that it's unlikely that handguns are the sole cause of the differential. This in no way impacts my point.

    And you'd have to be particularly naiive to think that the only cause was the 'Great Society'. WWII actually ended the Great Depression, not the Great Society. The subsequent fifties and early sixties were the greatest period of economic prosperity in the US in history, period. During that time, a man could support his entire family. However, the societal revolution in the late sixties and early seventies changed all that, as did the Carter-era stagflation. Then came the eighties, leading to the nineties, during which time anyone could get a job here. Subsequently, now that we are in the 2000s, there is a mild increase in unemployment, but people are still hiring. What this means is that those who are less apt may not be able to get jobs. However, the driving force in poverty this whole time has not been social work but the economy.

    You seem grossly misinformed about what the Great Society was. It was the social programs, such as Medicaid, Head Start, and AFDC that were put in place under Johnson in the sixties. And as your very long quote states, poverty went down then, and has gone up since these programs were gutted. This was exactly my point.

    Essentially, those on welfare, at least here in the States, are not incentivised to leave welfare. They do have a higher standard of living than if they worked. The result is, of course, that they stay on welfare, but the welfare system was much worse: you got more money by having more kids, who grew up on welfare. This is part of the problem of inner-city rot that the dot-com revolution went a long way to fixing. See, people on welfare are disincentivised to get their own money by the fact that they can't work and be on welfare.

    The fact that people on welfare are punished for getting jobs is a flaw in the way our job market works. Namely, our job market provides jobs which cannot possibly support the workers, and since people need health care, but can't get it with these jobs, that's just one more reason to stay on welfare. These are not problems with welfare.

    Further, standards of living are relative. Do you wish for the government to pay for everyone to achieve, say, Warren Buffet's standard of living? Where do you draw the line?

    No, certainly, that would be impossible with current technology. I think that everyone can be given a reasonable standard of living. There is certainly no requirement for absolute equality. Beyond that is an implementation detail.

    Standard liberal statement, but let's investigate. Say, for instance, we take people away from low-paying jobs, and give them government money.

    Why are we taking people away from jobs?

    That money has to come from somewhere. It comes from taxes from people who make money, ie, contribute. Now, when those people have less money, they buy less.

    For some of them. For Bill Gates, losing the vast majority of his wealth would have no effect on his consumption. Furthermore, having people buy fewer yachts isn't always bad.

    Those who can now purchase without contributing inflate the cost of goods while those who purchase less yet contribute face reduced quality of life.

    Actually, people purchasing less with other people purchasing more will tend to balance out. And since wealth redistribution will most likely not be perfectly efficent, it will be a counter to inflation, since it will take money out.

    Eventually, too few people are really producing for the system to remain viable. Then you have high inflation caused by more people purchasing than contributing combined with a strong disincentive to produce, resulting in an economic crash. The pattern is incredibly predictable.

    That's quite a leap. It would seem to imply that all countries which redistribute wealth will eventually go into a death spiral. Given the vast number of counterexamples (as in, every country in existence), you need some evidence.

    So, you see, it isn't a moral imperative; it's merely an understanding of how things work.

    How you claim they work.

    What I want to know is why it is a moral imperative to give those who have not earned it a higher standard of living than those who have. How is that fair?

    Who said anything about fair, first? Second, how is it fair that you live and other people starve? Third, it's a moral imperative because otherwise these people will suffer a lot, whereas the cost to you is much less.

    f I can and do earn a good living, why should I pay a significant portion of my income to those who do not contribute?

    Who says they don't contribute? And even if they don't, you should contribute because your posession of that wealth is benifitting you much less than it would benifit them.

    In other words, my argument isn't a moral one; I don't believe in morality.

    Yikes. How do you decide what is right and wrong, or even what you should do?

    My argument is, in the words of economics, a 'positive' one, based on how things are, not on some sort of ideal.

    Actually, those are the words of philosophy, but no matter. And your argument is one dealing with what we ought to do. It is not possible for this to be determined from positive claims. Just ask Hume.

    'Normative' arguments are based on how things should be and are often flawed as a result.

    I fail to see why that is a flaw in an argument.

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    Actually, this is tedious (none / 0) (#108)
    by weirdling on Thu May 31, 2001 at 07:40:57 PM EST

    I'm only going to treat the question of morality; there is no real common ground in this discussion due to the fact that we have different moral imperatives.
    Essentially, to you, anyone suffering must be aided. To me, suffering is a result of two things: random chance and bad decisions. The mix is different, but it ends up the same in the end.
    Let's start with Rwanda, of which I have first-hand knowledge, having lived there. In Rwanda, starvation happens. Because they don't have enough land to grow food? No. Because they have a disease or other plague hurting working-age people? Well, they do, but that's not the reason, either. The reason? They farm *very* badly. No matter how much advice is given, they consistently ignore it and go on doing the same thing. In this case, suffering is a result of bad decisions, and the only way to make them see the error of their ways is to let them suffer. I don't care if kids starve there. They have to learn. Africa will happily produce enough children to strap the earth's food production facilities in no time if they don't.
    Now, let's talk about a friend I used to have. This friend was initially suffering because of random chance. I took it upon myself to help him out. However, over time, he became dependant on my help and I had to quit because he was no longer independant. Now, he suffers as a result of my direct actions. Random chance continues to hurt him, but I won't help him anymore because he made bad decisions while I was helping him, and, once again, he failed to become independant on his own, so I had to kick him out.
    Now, let's talk about broader things: healthcare. The society we used to have had available healthcare for just about everyone. What happened? Government intervened. Now, many people do not fund healthcare because it is subsidised by the government. They don't plan for their retirement, choosing, instead, to use social security. They don't work, choosing to draw welfare. All these things *encourage* behavior which is *detrimental* to them in the long run. Now, if we got rid of government-funded healthcare, business would have to fund healthcare, either by taking the money the government uses to do it and passing that money on to the employees who will then make a choice as to what they want to do with it or by buying healthcare themselves.
    Now, as to 'marginalized' people, who can't possibly make ends meet. A lot of these people heavily mismanage their lives. There are very few people in the US who honestly couldn't make it. I know people on welfare who make much more than people I know who aren't. Guess who's doing better? That's right; those who work for it do much better. For those who are truly in a tight place, I feel sympathy. However, I didn't accept help when I was in that same place, ending up homeless for a short time, and I don't expect anyone else to.
    Sooner or later, the market equalizes and people make what the market thinks they're worth. Some people will always fall through the cracks, but this will strengthen the society as a whole.
    So, in the end, a simplistic 'let's help everyone' approach isn't a whole lot more moral, although it certainly goes a long ways towards abasing those it is intended to help.
    Now, as to why I reject morality as a reason: it is hideously subjective and often at odds with reality. How do I decide what is right or wrong? There isn't any right or wrong; there is wise and unwise. Given your objectives, I can tell you which option is wisest, but I can never tell you what would be right or wrong for you.
    See, this moral supercilliousness has plagued me my whole life. I do things that are often considered wrong; I don't care, as others do things that would strike me as wrong, but since it doesn't hurt me or anyone else, I don't care.
    The only path to freedom lies through responsibility. Any scheme to help someone that derives from moral grounds will have strings attatched. To live and die free is an ideal that is long lost when society prefers to live dependant on the government and the benevolence of others. It is not for me, though.

    I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
    [ Parent ]
    fear and loathing in sigs (none / 0) (#103)
    by eLuddite on Sat May 26, 2001 at 06:02:11 AM EST

    As to the crack about libertarianism, I fail to understand the anger it provokes. However, throwing temper tantrums and denigrating those who disagree are two things liberals are very good at, so I am not surprised. I just want to know why you'd pick such a small and relatively insignificant political party to pick on unless you are seriously afraid of them...

    It's not the party that is fearsome, its the gradual cooptation of core libertarian beliefs in American political thinking. Whether you agree with American Constitutional govt or not, the steady erosion of the citizenry's understanding for its own role in govt is infinitely worse. This misunderstanding has facilitated the American citizen's adoption of libertarian ideals based on their superficial resemblance to language in the Constitution, abandoning government to autocratic rule in the bargain.

    In a sentence, libertarian concepts of freedom and government are Constitutional solecisms. You, particularly, are guilty of these Constitutional solecisms (and I do not mean the 2nd Amendment alone.)

    From Mortimer J. Adler's We Hold These Truths: Understanding the Ideas and Ideals of the Constitution:

    Over the last thirty-five years. I have also conducted executive seminars under the auspices of the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, in which the participants are graduates of our best colleges and universities and have reached positions of eminence in our society... Their understanding of the basic ideas in the Declaration and in the Preamble to the Constitution is not discernibly better than what I found among high school students.

    On one very special occasion, I conducted a discussion of the Declaration with leading members of President John F. Kennedy's Cabinet and his political entourage. To my surprise and chagrin, the result was the same.

    As a point of interest, I would be interested in learning your opposition to socialism based on the Constitutional solecisms you hold so dearly. Socialism, like democracy, is an ideal, the economic face of political democracy. This ideal is approximated in a society where all citizens are economic as well as political haves instead of have-nots; no one is deprived of a decent livelihood, to which every human being has -- speaking as Jefferson might -- a natural right. Democracy and socialism are two faces of the same coin.

    Apart from the fact that the Constitution was always meant to be a live document with a court for its interpretation and a means to amend it, there is nothing in the written Constitution that can be understood to preclude socialism. The danger of creeping libertarianism is that people, like you, think there is and that the Constitution is a "defense" against socialism. Rhetorical solecism are not a defense against anything.

    The Constitution is not an economic manifesto for capitalism, it is a covenant of political rights and a system to ensure their protection. However imperfect it is, it is light years better than its libertarian misinterpretation.

    ---
    God hates human rights.
    [ Parent ]

    Oh, come on... (2.00 / 1) (#50)
    by trhurler on Tue May 22, 2001 at 06:55:59 PM EST

    And a damn good thing too. We could stand to learn a little.
    From the people who put Sudan and China on a human rights commission?! Yeah, right. All you can learn from them is how to let petty emotion and politics triumph over reason. We ought to kick the UN out of the US and tell them they can't use our military without paying the costs it incurs on their little "peace" missions. They'd change their tune right quick, I assure you.
    Mostly because we haven't signed the ICC treaty yet, since our government is worried that we might be held accountable for our own human rights violations, instead of just talking about those of others. Gasp. Not that.
    Yeah, it has NOTHING to do with the fact that the treaty would be unconstitutional. It would subject US citizens to a court of law that does not respect the rights guaranteed to US citizens. ICC is not just about genocide; it is an international criminal court. It does not consider people innocent until proven guilty. It does not use anything approximating US standards for admissibility of evidence and testimony. It does not have any equivalent of first, second, fourth, or fifth amendment protections. It is a trial by judges, rather than by any sort of jury. I would rather see the US nuke Europe and Asia into the stone age than sign that "treaty."

    --
    And when you consider that Siggy is second only to trhurler as far as posters whose name at the top of a comment fill me with forboding, that's sayin
    [ Parent ]
    you come on (5.00 / 2) (#52)
    by samth on Tue May 22, 2001 at 09:34:46 PM EST

    From the people who put Sudan and China on a human rights commission?! Yeah, right. All you can learn from them is how to let petty emotion and politics triumph over reason.

    I refer you to actual facts on the matter of the human rights commission. And just so you don't have to read the linked comment, it points out that what happened was that people voted for Austria, France and Sweden ahead of us. There wasn't a race between Sudan and the US. And when was the last time the Sudanese blew up a medicine factory here?

    We ought to kick the UN out of the US and tell them they can't use our military without paying the costs it incurs on their little "peace" missions. They'd change their tune right quick, I assure you.

    Well, we aren't even the largest contributor to current UN peacekeeping missions. That would be the wealthy country of Bangledesh. And our current total back dues are more than we pay for peacekeeping. And paying more to keep our troops at home seems a fair trade (although not the one I would make).

    Yeah, it has NOTHING to do with the fact that the treaty would be unconstitutional. It would subject US citizens to a court of law that does not respect the rights guaranteed to US citizens.

    If the treaty doesn't properly guarantee the rights of the accused, then the treaty should be fixed. However, we need to take into account both that this treaty needs to be agreed to by many countries (so we can't just take USSC decisions as the sole basis for judgement) and that we wuoldn't be hearing about these unconstituationalities if it wasn't for people being scared about us losing the ability to act however we choose around the world.

    ICC is not just about genocide; it is an international criminal court.

    Right, the ICC is actually about 4 crimes: (1) genocide, (2) crimes against humanity, (3) war crimes, and (4) the crime of aggression. Which are precisely the kinds of crimes the US needs to be held accountable for.

    It does not consider people innocent until proven guilty.

    Try reading the actual statute next time. Around Article 66. Better luck next time.

    It does not use anything approximating US standards for admissibility of evidence and testimony.

    Given how well you did on the first point, I'd like to see some evidence of this.

    It does not have any equivalent of first, second, fourth, or fifth amendment protections.

    You're seriouly delusional if you think that the first amendment (or the second - ha) is a defense against crimes against humanity.

    It is a trial by judges, rather than by any sort of jury.

    Oh, sort of like every war crimes trial that we've been a part of in history. Only when it comes to punishing people responsible for killing them durn furreners, only then do we get worried. Sure.

    I would rather see the US nuke Europe and Asia into the stone age than sign that "treaty."

    I sincerely hope you don't mean that you would rather see the deaths of billions than us signing that treaty.

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    lies, damn lies, and (4.50 / 2) (#20)
    by samth on Mon May 21, 2001 at 06:21:33 PM EST

    First, this guy really could have done a better job citing stats (or even just using the same countries for all his comparisons). He also probably would have survived if he had mentioned a little bit more of how he calculated the data.

    Second, I think that emissions/GDP/capita is at least as bogus as emissions/capita.

    Thirdly, factoring in land area in as simplistic a fashion as he does just lying with statistics. Land area does not directly correlate in a linear fashion with transport costs, for obvious reasons. Additionally, there is no reason to suggest that the US should for some reason be let off the hook because our transportation costs are higher. One could think of many other ways to scale the data that would make any country you wanted look good.

    This guy's real point is that because we're a big country, Kyoto would harm us more than Europe, and that that's why Europe wants us to implement it. That may or may not be true. But he certainly had fun trying to prove it with statistics.

    Finally, his stats on freight rail are just wrong. The real numbers are about half what he says. [1]

    http://www.oecd.org/daf/clp/Roundtables/railw19.HTM [1]

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    Interesting (none / 0) (#23)
    by trhurler on Mon May 21, 2001 at 06:39:30 PM EST

    First, this guy really could have done a better job citing stats
    Yes, I mentioned that.
    Second, I think that emissions/GDP/capita is at least as bogus as emissions/capita.
    Then why'd you bother asking where it came from? I personally think it is a lot more interesting, because it is a measure that is going to make much more realistic pictures of what people are actually doing rather than just who has the least crushing poverty problems or the most draconian government regulations.
    Thirdly, factoring in land area in as simplistic a fashion as he does just lying with statistics.
    Agreed. As you should be able to see for yourself, as land area increases, transportation costs rise more than exponentially, especially if travel times are held constant or nearly so. As such, the US has it far, far worse than all of Europe combined in this area.
    Finally, his stats on freight rail are just wrong.
    I could care less about his stats on freight rail. Far more interesting to me is the fact that Kyoto proponents are choosing the method of representing the facts which makes the US look the worst every single time, and that method leaves out quite a bit of information that any reasonable person would find to be relevant. As usual, the methodology of the ecofreaks is "decide what we want, then try to justify it," rather than deciding what they want based on a prior justification.

    --
    And when you consider that Siggy is second only to trhurler as far as posters whose name at the top of a comment fill me with forboding, that's sayin
    [ Parent ]
    veery eenteresting (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by samth on Mon May 21, 2001 at 08:42:52 PM EST

    </fake-german-accent>

    Then why'd you bother asking where it came from? I personally think it is a lot more interesting, because it is a measure that is going to make much more realistic pictures of what people are actually doing rather than just who has the least crushing poverty problems or the most draconian government regulations.

    Because I was curious? Because I like to know the facts before I get into an argument? And emissions/GDP is another data point, which is worthwhile to know. In general, most statistics are only valuable in context, no more and no less than this one is.

    Agreed. As you should be able to see for yourself, as land area increases, transportation costs rise more than exponentially, especially if travel times are held constant or nearly so. As such, the US has it far, far worse than all of Europe combined in this area.

    Sadly, without further evidence on the relation of the gamma function to transport costs, I am unable to see that transportation costs rise more than exponentially. However, it is clear that they rise more than linearly with the land area. It's also clear that if transport costs make up 1/3rd of our energy consumption, (something not likely to be the same everywhere) that a simple per land area calculation is also going to miss things. But then, we don't even know what formula the author used, so this debate is pretty pointless.

    Also, the fact that we have a big country is not any evidence that we should be excused for our high energy consumption. We could factor in the presence of natural resources, and say that we should have lower transport costs because we have so many. Then Japan would do proportionally better. I'm just pointing out that his analysis is incredibly simplistic.

    Far more interesting to me is the fact that Kyoto proponents are choosing the method of representing the facts which makes the US look the worst every single time, and that method leaves out quite a bit of information that any reasonable person would find to be relevant. As usual, the methodology of the ecofreaks is "decide what we want, then try to justify it," rather than deciding what they want based on a prior justification.

    First, I very much hope you never meet an actual eco-freak. You might die of shock.

    Second, the odds that that article didn't leave out any relevant info are basically zero.

    Third, the justification that we should participate in Kyoto is not that our per capita emissions are greater or less than others, but that we have large amounts of emissions, we are wealthy enough to reduce those emissions, and that those emissions are bad for everyone around the world, including us.

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    So then... (3.00 / 4) (#38)
    by trhurler on Tue May 22, 2001 at 11:09:11 AM EST

    You think we should participate in Kyoto, even though lowball estimates say it will pretty much guarantee that the bottom third of our population will descend into third world living conditions?! I don't know if you understand this, but when you start pulling whole number percentages of our GDP and pouring them down the drain, it is NOT the rich guys who are going to get soaked. Then there's the fact that, as the article does point out, the amount of global warming supposedly eliminated by this plan is so tiny we won't even be able to find out whether it worked!

    All that for a theory(global warming) that's about as well established as ether physics... thanks, but no thanks. The argument here, which basically is where the ecofreaks say "ah, but what if we're right?!" is the same one Christians use to try to win converts: "Ah, but if you're wrong, you'll burn in hell!" Fine. Take off until you can prove it, and if I burn in hell, at least I burned for doing the right thing.

    I have a new theory. It says that if you don't give me all your money, you will be murdered tomorrow for your wallet. Just think - if you decide I'm wrong, you might die! You better give me your money right now, because I'm worried about you! To prove my theory, I have this model which shows that since in the past people have been murdered for their wallets on at least a few occasions, it will happen more and more, because success makes a man bolder. Police? Courts? Bah, they're too complicated to work in; it'd be like putting clouds in an atmospheric model!

    --
    And when you consider that Siggy is second only to trhurler as far as posters whose name at the top of a comment fill me with forboding, that's sayin
    [ Parent ]
    subject: (4.66 / 3) (#42)
    by samth on Tue May 22, 2001 at 12:32:58 PM EST

    You think we should participate in Kyoto, even though lowball estimates say it will pretty much guarantee that the bottom third of our population will descend into third world living conditions?!

    Pardon me if I believe this for exactly zero seconds. That's the most ludicrous claim I've heard in a while.

    I don't know if you understand this, but when you start pulling whole number percentages of our GDP and pouring them down the drain, it is NOT the rich guys who are going to get soaked.

    Well, you and your Cato institute friends say whole number percentages. The head of Clinton's Council on Economic Advisors says this:

    Although there may be job gains in some sectors and job losses in others, we do not anticipate any significant aggregate employment effect if we achieve the conditions we have discussed. The effects on energy prices described above will occur only 10 to 14 years in the future. Not only are these effects small relative to historical variations in energy prices, and offset by other policies like electricity restructuring, they would occur sufficiently far in the future to enable monetary policy to keep the economy operating at its potential. [1]
    Furthermore, the economy has grown by whole number percentages every year for a decade. Yet, somehow, even though the economy has expanded probably 20% or more during that time period[2], back in 1990, the bottom third wasn't living in third world conditions.

    Then there's the fact that, as the article does point out, the amount of global warming supposedly eliminated by this plan is so tiny we won't even be able to find out whether it worked!

    Well, the changes in CO2 released will certainly be measureable. You'll excuse me if I think that that might be a low-end estimate, and I was unable to find any further data on the subject via google.

    All that for a theory(global warming) that's about as well established as ether physics... thanks, but no thanks.

    Do you actually believe the planet isn't warming? That the sea level isn't rising? That the level of greenhouse gases isn't rising? That greenhouse gases don't trap heat? If so, this discussion is really a waste of time, since you obviously have some committment that prevents you from recognizing the facts.

    The argument here, which basically is where the ecofreaks say "ah, but what if we're right?!" is the same one Christians use to try to win converts: "Ah, but if you're wrong, you'll burn in hell!" Fine. Take off until you can prove it, and if I burn in hell, at least I burned for doing the right thing.

    First, stop misusing the word ecofreaks. It just reveals that you don't know what real radical enviromentalists are like.

    Second, the government spent trillions of dollars on protecting us from the Soviet threat, with basically the same logic that you describe.

    Third, if thousands of scientists tell me that they've found hell, and they can point to where it is, I just might start believing.

    I have a new theory. It says that if you don't give me all your money, you will be murdered tomorrow for your wallet. Just think - if you decide I'm wrong, you might die! You better give me your money right now, because I'm worried about you! To prove my theory, I have this model which shows that since in the past people have been murdered for their wallets on at least a few occasions, it will happen more and more, because success makes a man bolder. Police? Courts? Bah, they're too complicated to work in; it'd be like putting clouds in an atmospheric model!

    Sadly, your theory fails to take into account the fact that giving you my money wouldn't affect any potential muggers. Also, the fact that I don't have any money to give you. Sorry. Better luck next time.

    [1] http://www.fetc.doe.gov/products/gcc/infosrc/speeches/economic.htm
    [2] Assuming a conservative 2% per year growth rate.

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    subject? (4.00 / 2) (#43)
    by trhurler on Tue May 22, 2001 at 12:56:38 PM EST

    Well, you and your Cato institute friends say whole number percentages. The head of Clinton's Council on Economic Advisors says this:
    Clinton's economic advisors predictions came true precisely zero times during his presidency. What makes you think they're right this time, looking further into the future and at a much more complicated picture? I mean, these guys made the economic advisors from the 50s and 60s seem really clever! On the other hand, estimates by groups like Cato rely on little details like known previous impacts of environmental regulations; you'll find no reference to any past history in Clinton's estimates, because that would destroy the wild optimism. The first sign of bullshit is the bit about monetary policy; no economist worth his salt would claim that the US economy runs at anywhere near "its potential" or ever has, monetary policy or no.
    Furthermore, the economy has grown by whole number percentages every year for a decade. Yet, somehow, even though the economy has expanded probably 20% or more during that time period[2], back in 1990, the bottom third wasn't living in third world conditions.
    The value of a dollar is less than it was then, and the amount of goods has increased - but look at who has them. Mostly, not poor people. Increases help them a lot less than decreases hurt them, because decreases take away their jobs, even if only temporarily, giving them credit problems, costing them their homes, and so on. Cash flow is a very real problem for them, and what might only be new jobs for 100 people in the positive direction would be economic disaster for many more in the negative direction.
    Well, the changes in CO2 released will certainly be measureable.
    Yes, but nobody has yet shown that releasing carbon dioxide actually causes any rise in temperature in the atmosphere. They all scream that it is true, but that does not make it true.
    Do you actually believe the planet isn't warming? That the sea level isn't rising? That the level of greenhouse gases isn't rising? That greenhouse gases don't trap heat?
    The first two may be true, but the cause may or may not be the second two. The atmosphere is much more complicated than you're giving it credit for. As one example, it is quite likely that existing cloud cover has several orders of magnitude more effect on temperatures than carbon dioxide ever will, and there is evidence that shows that this effect may increase with planetary temperature, creating a buffer effect - and yet "scientists" are ignoring it!

    Until someone provides a causal link between "greenhouse gases trap heat" and "the planet is warming" greater than the happenstance intuition of a five year old jumping to conclusions, I will not support upending the lives of billions of people. That is not acceptable on a hunch.
    Third, if thousands of scientists tell me that they've found hell, and they can point to where it is, I just might start believing.
    I had the privelege at UM-Rolla of speaking on a couple of occasions with some people doing real atmospheric research. Your "thousands of scientists" are all engaged in an orgy at the government's trough, and only the ones who give the answers that are politically acceptable continue to receive funding. Given that scenario, what makes you think the word of thousands of "scientists" means anything more than the word of thousands of "corporate shills?" (Aside from the fact that there aren't really thousands of them; counting only the ones doing interesting work, rather than just rubberstamping the claims of others in a lame attempt to get on the cash bandwagon, there are probably only a few dozen.)

    --
    And when you consider that Siggy is second only to trhurler as far as posters whose name at the top of a comment fill me with forboding, that's sayin
    [ Parent ]
    subject! (5.00 / 2) (#47)
    by samth on Tue May 22, 2001 at 03:46:44 PM EST

    Clinton's economic advisors predictions came true precisely zero times during his presidency.

    This statement clearly demonstrates that you have prior commitments to beliefs that prevent you from dealing reasonably with facts. That statement is simply so outrageous that I find it remarkable you made it.

    The value of a dollar is less than it was then, and the amount of goods has increased - but look at who has them. Mostly, not poor people. Increases help them a lot less than decreases hurt them, because decreases take away their jobs, even if only temporarily, giving them credit problems, costing them their homes, and so on. Cash flow is a very real problem for them, and what might only be new jobs for 100 people in the positive direction would be economic disaster for many more in the negative direction.

    I'm glad to see such compassion for the poor. Wouldn't have expected it from you.

    So, you're saying that 20 percent economic growth doesn't affect poor people that much, but that 3 percent decline would throw 1/3 of the population into third world conditions? Give up on this point, it just doesn't make any sense.

    Yes, but nobody has yet shown that releasing carbon dioxide actually causes any rise in temperature in the atmosphere. They all scream that it is true, but that does not make it true.

    Well, merely considering natural effects (or 'forcings') on the global climate, the temperature should not have risen significantly in the last 25 years. But it has. However, taking into account human-caused forcings, we get very close agreement between the models and the observed data going back 150 years. Of course, CO2 emissions are by far the largest human forcing. In fact, the largest other human forcing is release of CFCs, which is a negative forcing. [1] Thus, in the abscence of better theories, and given the known greenhouse gas properties of CO2, the logical assumption is that human release of greenhouse gases, primarily CO2, has warmed the planet in the last 25 years.

    The first two may be true, but the cause may or may not be the second two. The atmosphere is much more complicated than you're giving it credit for. As one example, it is quite likely that existing cloud cover has several orders of magnitude more effect on temperatures than carbon dioxide ever will, and there is evidence that shows that this effect may increase with planetary temperature, creating a buffer effect - and yet "scientists" are ignoring it!

    If clouds provide such a "buffer effect", then why have planetary temperatures still been rising? Why, then, was 1998 the hottest year of the last millenium?

    Until someone provides a causal link between "greenhouse gases trap heat" and "the planet is warming" greater than the happenstance intuition of a five year old jumping to conclusions, I will not support upending the lives of billions of people. That is not acceptable on a hunch.

    Greenhouse gases trap heat. We put greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The planet heats up. Assuming that humans are causing increased greenhouse effects causes climate models to work for past data. What more do you want?

    Your "thousands of scientists" are all engaged in an orgy at the government's trough, and only the ones who give the answers that are politically acceptable continue to receive funding. Given that scenario, what makes you think the word of thousands of "scientists" means anything more than the word of thousands of "corporate shills?"

    Exactly why would evidence suggesting that we need to reduce our GDP significantly, as you claim, be politcally acceptable? Wouldn't the governemnt rather have some alternative explanation for global warming, that didn't require such drastic measures? Furthermore, you have just suggested that thousands of scientists are misrepresenting the facts so that they can arrive a polically acceptable conclusions. That's quite a charge, and requires at least a little support.

    (Aside from the fact that there aren't really thousands of them; counting only the ones doing interesting work, rather than just rubberstamping the claims of others in a lame attempt to get on the cash bandwagon, there are probably only a few dozen.)

    Again, slandering thousands of well-respected reasearchers without evidence. But as to your factual claim, this page would suggest that you are quite wrong.

    [1] http://www.met-office.gov.uk/research/hadleycentre/pubs/brochures/B2000/causes.html


    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    Geh... subject :( (none / 0) (#49)
    by trhurler on Tue May 22, 2001 at 05:16:14 PM EST

    I wrote a big reply, and then my web browser died. I hate my web browser. The central point, though, I can sum up briefly.
    Thus, in the abscence of better theories, and given the known greenhouse gas properties of CO2, the logical assumption is that human release of greenhouse gases, primarily CO2, has warmed the planet in the last 25 years.
    The mere absence of another explanation(which, by the way, is not the case - recent research has established that the planet warms and cools in 50-75 year cycles, and the geologic record shows many longer term changes also,) does not make a purely correlative conclusion correct.
    Greenhouse gases trap heat. We put greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The planet heats up. Assuming that humans are causing increased greenhouse effects causes climate models to work for past data. What more do you want?
    Children who are less intelligent do not do as well in school. Consistently, black children have done worse in school than white children. If we work up a model of black children being less intelligent than white children, it fits the data. What more do you want?

    (And yes, the example of children in school is precisely the same: it is a correlative conclusion without any demonstration of causality. Which is to say, it is meaningless. The only difference is that you agree with one conclusion and disagree with the other one.)

    --
    And when you consider that Siggy is second only to trhurler as far as posters whose name at the top of a comment fill me with forboding, that's sayin
    [ Parent ]
    Hume (none / 0) (#51)
    by samth on Tue May 22, 2001 at 07:08:01 PM EST

    I wrote a big reply, and then my web browser died. I hate my web browser. The central point, though, I can sum up briefly.

    Galeon

    The mere absence of another explanation does not make a purely correlative conclusion correct.

    Right. Correlation cannot prove causation. However, take that too far, and you dismiss all of science. Mass and gravitational force are just correlates, too. You can't prove that there isn't some third force causing them both. At some point, you have to say "This model fits the data. The others don't. End of story, at least for now."

    which, by the way, is not the case - recent research has established that the planet warms and cools in 50-75 year cycles, and the geologic record shows many longer term changes also

    That doesn't fit the data, though, at least not as an explanation of global warming. This report, despite being in PDF, provides lots of nice color charts showing that after 900 years of staying within a fairly narrow range of temperatures, the earth's temperature has recently skyrocketed, a change of something like 3 times the maximum deviation of the past millenium. The chart is on page 3.

    Children who are less intelligent do not do as well in school. Consistently, black children have done worse in school than white children. If we work up a model of black children being less intelligent than white children, it fits the data. What more do you want?

    Well, this example is different in two important ways from the global warming example. First, there are alternative explanations for the data, such as poverty and racism. Second, while the mechanism behind global warming is clear (everyone accepts that greenhouse gases trap heat), the mechanism by which genetic predisposition to higher quantities of certain pigments cause a lack of intelligence is totally lacking.

    (And yes, the example of children in school is precisely the same: it is a correlative conclusion without any demonstration of causality. Which is to say, it is meaningless. The only difference is that you agree with one conclusion and disagree with the other one.)

    As I pointed out, correlative conclusions are all we have. Proving causality is impossible, just ask Hume. And I've already pointed out the differences between the examples.

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    The infamous 'Hockey Stick' (none / 0) (#53)
    by sec on Wed May 23, 2001 at 01:43:07 AM EST

    That doesn't fit the data, though, at least not as an explanation of global warming. This report , despite being in PDF, provides lots of nice color charts showing that after 900 years of staying within a fairly narrow range of temperatures, the earth's temperature has recently skyrocketed, a change of something like 3 times the maximum deviation of the past millenium. The chart is on page 3.

    This is the infamous 'hockey stick', and it's completely bogus. It's well known that the early part of the last millenium was considerably warmer than it is today -- as the matter of fact, agricultural settlements were made on the southern coast of Greenland, something that would not work even today.

    Get the whole scoop here.

    [ Parent ]

    hockey (none / 0) (#55)
    by samth on Wed May 23, 2001 at 05:17:13 AM EST

    Very interesting. I am, of course, not qualified to evaluate the science at the same level as Mr. Daly apprently is. So I'll have to defer to the opinion of most scientists, and most that I've met, on the issue. Although, I have to admit to skepticism of anyone who claims that lots of people want to find global warming, a decidely non-positive trend for anyone.

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]
    Not true (none / 0) (#58)
    by trhurler on Wed May 23, 2001 at 11:41:09 AM EST

    I have to admit to skepticism of anyone who claims that lots of people want to find global warming, a decidely non-positive trend for anyone.
    But it is not! If you are a scientist whose ability to conduct further research and further establish his reputation depends on grants which are given depending on the opinion of other such scientists and some bureaucrats, and if those latter have staked their reputations on research they and their peers did that made claims about global warming, then it is to your advantage to find global warming! Do not underestimate the degree to which peoples' personal situations influence their work; having a PhD does not make you a detached observer free to act without bias in all things. Most of the papers submitted on the topic never even make it through the review process, and the few that do are usually among the weaker pieces to be published; invariably they are viciously attacked and defended, but all we see is the end result - a newspaper headline or two, a demonstration by a bunch of ignorant kids led by an ignorant teacher or two, and so on. Maybe that paper got trashed, but who besides a few scientists knows that?

    Basically, in light of the hundreds of years' history of pettiness and manipulation by scientists in matters pertaining to their pet theories, I find it unbelievable that you could be so credulous as to their motives. New science is, by its very nature, essentially useless to anyone but scientists.

    --
    And when you consider that Siggy is second only to trhurler as far as posters whose name at the top of a comment fill me with forboding, that's sayin
    [ Parent ]
    subjectivity and science (none / 0) (#65)
    by samth on Wed May 23, 2001 at 04:05:21 PM EST

    I certainly do not deny the sociological effects of the way science is currently done. But, my point is really these two questions:

    Why did anyone want to find this non-existent global warming in the first place?

    And, Why did it succeed in quickly overthrowing previous orthodoxy with regard to climate, if as you say there is so little evidence for it?

    Please try to refrain from using the term "eco-freak" in your response. :-)

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    Why? (none / 0) (#70)
    by trhurler on Wed May 23, 2001 at 04:46:22 PM EST

    Look into the history of both the global warming and global cooling theories. I don't remember his name, but you will find one man. He started them both, and his purpose was simple: fame. A reputation. Grant money. He as much as had to admit that he had made global cooling up out of thin air, and then people still believed him when he trotted out global warming. From there, it snowballed. The problem is, the correlative relationship is compelling to people who don't really understand just how much we don't know, and so what ends up happening is, honest scientists disagree on the matter, but the funding goes disproportionately to the ones who take one side in particular, and then there are the less than totally honest "scientists" also, and the end result is that politics has more influence on what is "common sense" than science ever can. Henrik Ibsen's observation that "the majority is always wrong" sums up the situation nicely, if you know the context in which he said it, although the scientist at the head of this particular fiasco is probably less than entirely honest, which is not the case with Ibsen's hero.

    --
    "Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, so why should we let them have ideas?" -- Josef Stalin

    [ Parent ]
    who (none / 0) (#74)
    by samth on Wed May 23, 2001 at 05:37:06 PM EST

    Well, I looked pretty hard, but of the only two people I could find, one has become a libertarian talk show host, and the other doesn't seem to do much anymore. So I hope you can remember his name.

    But my real question is, given that global warming is a bad thing to have happen, and bad politically for whoever has to deal with it, and that most new theories are widely denounced, why would anybody have believed him, since, as you claim, he had no evidence.

    Someone said "Science makes progress one funeral at a time". Why was it so easy for global warming, which has, according to you, the additional handicap of being false?

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    The reason is... (none / 0) (#76)
    by beergut on Wed May 23, 2001 at 06:07:00 PM EST

    Precisely because the "theory" was and is sensational, it gets beaten into the ground. Global warming, gloom-and-doom, conspiracy theories, and all that jazz sell.

    Modern-day Luddites love environmentalism, and especially global warming theories. These they see as their tools for halting industry. Socialists see them as a way to control industry to their own ends.

    I can't remember the guy's name now, but he was famous for predicting that we'd all be starving and eating each other by 1990 or so. Technology and agriculture advanced, and we can more than amply feed the world today (there are political reasons why we cannot and do not do so). I believe this was the guy who wrote _Soylent Green_.

    Anyway, this kind of crap makes money for media, which is increasingly sensationalistic. It doesn't make them as much money to say, "eh... it ain't so bad."

    A theory without sound premises is purely craptastic.

    i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
    i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

    -- indubitable
    [ Parent ]

    what? (none / 0) (#78)
    by samth on Wed May 23, 2001 at 06:32:43 PM EST

    Precisely because the "theory" was and is sensational, it gets beaten into the ground. Global warming, gloom-and-doom, conspiracy theories, and all that jazz sell.

    Maybe. Then why don't we hear about the really bad things going on in our world? Andy why did this particular "conspiracy theory" do so well? Lots of crackpot science is thought up every year. Very little science is the subject of multiple UN conferences.

    Modern-day Luddites love environmentalism, and especially global warming theories. These they see as their tools for halting industry. Socialists see them as a way to control industry to their own ends.

    I hope you aren't suggesting that most of the people who support global warming are socialists and luddites. That would make you as bad as trhurler.

    I can't remember the guy's name now, but he was famous for predicting that we'd all be starving and eating each other by 1990 or so. Technology and agriculture advanced, and we can more than amply feed the world today (there are political reasons why we cannot and do not do so). I believe this was the guy who wrote _Soylent Green_.

    Wel, the author of _Make Room, Make Room_, which became _Soylent Green_, is Harry Harrison. But I've found nothing associating him with either global warming or global cooling.

    As for feeding the world, it is correct that we have enough food to do it. And I take exception to your use of "can't" in reference to doing it.

    A theory without sound premises is purely craptastic.

    Yup. But does global warming have sound premises? That's the whole question.

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    To which the answer is... (none / 0) (#79)
    by beergut on Wed May 23, 2001 at 06:49:25 PM EST

    "We don't know. It requires more methodical study. Do not take drastic, foolish action unless and until we know that we are harming the Earth."

    i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
    i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

    -- indubitable
    [ Parent ]

    but (none / 0) (#82)
    by samth on Wed May 23, 2001 at 06:54:12 PM EST

    But if we are wrong about there being global warming, we lose some GDP. If we are right, but don't do anything, we lose real big. Like several countries. Like huge quantities of arable land. Like protection for very severe storms on a regular basis. So it isn't as simple as you make it out to be. Science with political consequences never is.

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]
    But the fact is... (none / 0) (#83)
    by beergut on Wed May 23, 2001 at 06:58:09 PM EST

    This sort of change won't happen in the next hundred years. Climate, like geology, is a slow process. We have time to study. We don't need to panic.

    Even if we cut our CO2 emissions by 100%, there would still be CO2 in vast quantities being released into the atmosphere. What about that? Kill or quash every source of CO2 on the planet?

    i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
    i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

    -- indubitable
    [ Parent ]

    sea level (none / 0) (#85)
    by samth on Wed May 23, 2001 at 07:05:12 PM EST

    A significant rise in the sea level (the high prediction is almost a meter by 2100) would destroy several island countries. It would also probably destroy the country of Bangledesh, potentially destabilizing several nuclear powers. Not to mention what it would do to Florida.

    So yes, very bad things could happen in the next hundred years. And to have any chance of stopping them, we would need to start now.

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    Anthropogenic? Are you sure? (none / 0) (#88)
    by beergut on Thu May 24, 2001 at 07:03:37 AM EST

    So yes, very bad things could happen in the next hundred years. And to have any chance of stopping them, we would need to start now.

    Which I still say may not be anthropogenic in nature. We just don't know, and acting rashly (i.e., destroying our economies and starving people) may not significanly change the outcome. Especially since something like Kyoto was aimed directly at us, exempting third-world nations and some of Europe, etc.

    If you have to hurt people, do so equally. No CO2 emissions beyond 1990 levels for, say, Botswana.

    i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
    i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

    -- indubitable
    [ Parent ]

    why? (none / 0) (#89)
    by samth on Thu May 24, 2001 at 02:55:29 PM EST

    Which I still say may not be anthropogenic in nature. We just don't know , and acting rashly (i.e., destroying our economies and starving people) may not significanly change the outcome. Especially since something like Kyoto was aimed directly at us, exempting third-world nations and some of Europe, etc. First, the evidence that this is going to starve people is pretty slim.

    Second, you missed my entire point. If it is anthropogenic in nature, we are fucked. In order to prevent that, we need to start now. And Kyoto doesn't exempt Europe, it actually hits them harder than it hits us.

    If you have to hurt people, do so equally. No CO2 emissions beyond 1990 levels for, say, Botswana.

    Why? And you were the one talking about starving people. That's the way to do it. Maybe we need to get China in on the reductions, but that's about it. It's not like Botswana's CO2 emissions are a problem.

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    China and... (none / 0) (#90)
    by beergut on Thu May 24, 2001 at 04:20:06 PM EST

    I'd like to see China, ALL of Europe, Russia, Japan, and all the other industrialized nations in on the thing, 100%, before we considered such an action. Give poorer nations about 10 years, and then they get sucked into this boondoggle, too. That way, if we suffer, we all suffer together. >:-)

    Botswana was an obvious strawman - but illustrative of the point. We don't know if the alleged warming is anthropogenic in nature. The data we've so far collected simply does not bear this out, as pointed out by some critics. That said, I'd rather not take Pascal's wager, thanks. That's a fool's bet.

    i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
    i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

    -- indubitable
    [ Parent ]

    facts (none / 0) (#91)
    by samth on Thu May 24, 2001 at 05:22:19 PM EST

    This nice list of emissions targets demonstrates that every industrialized country, and all the ones you listed except China, are already on the list.

    That said, I'd rather not take Pascal's wager, thanks. That's a fool's bet.

    I question the premises of Pascal's wager (I have to, I'm an atheist), but not that logic. What's wrong with it?

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    Oh, forgot... (none / 0) (#81)
    by beergut on Wed May 23, 2001 at 06:53:53 PM EST

    I hope you aren't suggesting that most of the people who support global warming are socialists and luddites. That would make you as bad as trhurler.

    I was illustrating two groups whose agendas are advanced by hyping "global warming", and whose agendas were likewise advanced by hyping "global cooling" when it was all the rage.

    That is not to say that most of the people who support the global warming theories are socialists and luddites. I personally believe that they are just fucking idiots.

    And, I am much worse than trhurler.

    Wel, the author of _Make Room, Make Room_, which became _Soylent Green_, is Harry Harrison. But I've found nothing associating him with either global warming or global cooling.

    I was trying to point out another big scare that simply didn't have any basis in reality, once more was known. This kind of utter festering crap is fanned to a flame by a sensationalistic media, who spoonfeeds it to a braindead populus, for the express purpose of extracting as many dollars from their woolen pockets as possible.

    i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
    i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

    -- indubitable
    [ Parent ]

    666 (none / 0) (#84)
    by samth on Wed May 23, 2001 at 07:00:33 PM EST

    I was illustrating two groups whose agendas are advanced by hyping "global warming", and whose agendas were likewise advanced by hyping "global cooling" when it was all the rage.

    Well, global cooling was significantly less the rage than global warming is now. And there was less attribution of it to human causes.

    That is not to say that most of the people who support the global warming theories are socialists and luddites. I personally believe that they are just fucking idiots.

    Glad I'm a socialist then. Wouldn't want to be a fucking idiot.

    And, I am much worse than trhurler.

    You sure? He's pretty scary. :-)

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    Ah! (none / 0) (#59)
    by trhurler on Wed May 23, 2001 at 11:48:32 AM EST

    Mass and gravitational force are just correlates, too. You can't prove that there isn't some third force causing them both.
    Any science that claims there isn't either has facts we're not aware of or is wrong. In point of fact, most physicists are hoping for a theory that, among other things, would do precisely what you say here.
    Well, this example is different in two important ways from the global warming example. First, there are alternative explanations for the data, such as poverty and racism. Second, while the mechanism behind global warming is clear (everyone accepts that greenhouse gases trap heat), the mechanism by which genetic predisposition to higher quantities of certain pigments cause a lack of intelligence is totally lacking.
    There are alternative explanations for warming, not the least of which is that the planet does warm and cool over time, and we do not know the various causes, timeframes, and so on very well at all as yet. These possibilities may seem weak to you, just as a racist considers the alternatives to black inferiority to be weak, but that intuition is not an argument.

    As for the mechanism behind global warming, it is not clear. We know that these gases trap heat when you take them and them alone and stuff them into a chamber and run tests. We know the planetary temperature has risen some. We know we've been putting gases into the air. That's all we know. We do not know that these gases have the same effect in the atmosphere, because it might be negated in whole or part by other factors. The only people to whom it is clear are people who have never studied any other planetary-scale phenomena, and who still think that things are "simple." They never are.
    Proving causality is impossible, just ask Hume.
    Beating the hell out of Hume isn't too difficult. He said a lot of very silly things. Unfortunately for us all, Kant didn't see through those things. (Among others, he admonished us to burn any book which did not contain mathematics or observations of reality - in a book that contained neither!)

    --
    And when you consider that Siggy is second only to trhurler as far as posters whose name at the top of a comment fill me with forboding, that's sayin
    [ Parent ]
    aaaaahh (none / 0) (#64)
    by samth on Wed May 23, 2001 at 04:01:33 PM EST

    Any science that claims there isn't either has facts we're not aware of or is wrong. In point of fact, most physicists are hoping for a theory that, among other things, would do precisely what you say here.

    Right, but there won't be proof (in the mathematical sense) that gravitons cause gravity either, just correlation.

    There are alternative explanations for warming, not the least of which is that the planet does warm and cool over time, and we do not know the various causes, timeframes, and so on very well at all as yet. These possibilities may seem weak to you, just as a racist considers the alternatives to black inferiority to be weak, but that intuition is not an argument.

    That's not an explanation. That's just saying "we have no idea what's going on". You can deny any evidence by simply claiming that there's something we don't know about causing all the evidence. That argument applies equally well to branches of science that you don't have an interest in disagreeing with.

    As for the mechanism behind global warming, it is not clear. We know that these gases trap heat when you take them and them alone and stuff them into a chamber and run tests. We know the planetary temperature has risen some. We know we've been putting gases into the air. That's all we know. We do not know that these gases have the same effect in the atmosphere, because it might be negated in whole or part by other factors. The only people to whom it is clear are people who have never studied any other planetary-scale phenomena, and who still think that things are "simple." They never are.

    My point was not that how global warming happens is entirely clear. My point was that CO2 has absorption properties which are well known, and can be demonstrated. Also, the greenhouse effect in general is not in dispute (otherwise we would all be very cold). There is no suggestion at all for any mechanism by which genetic predispositions to various pigments could have any effects whatsoever on intelligence.

    Beating the hell out of Hume isn't too difficult. He said a lot of very silly things.

    Maybe. But I'd like to see you prove the validity of induction without using induction.

    Unfortunately for us all, Kant didn't see through those things. (Among others, he admonished us to burn any book which did not contain mathematics or observations of reality - in a book that contained neither!)

    Really? I haven't read enough Kant to evaluate that statement - can you say where he says that?

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    Ambiguity (none / 0) (#69)
    by trhurler on Wed May 23, 2001 at 04:39:03 PM EST

    Right, but there won't be proof (in the mathematical sense) that gravitons cause gravity either, just correlation.
    Proof in a mathematical sense is not required, but correlation isn't even proof in a more common sense. This was the basic mistake Hume made; he assumed that "proof" meant mathematical certainty and that correlation meant absolute uncertainty and that there was nothing else; essentially, he ignored what people mean when they use the term "evidence," or else insisted that it was meaningless. There isn't even significant evidence in favor of global warming, because there is so much we know we don't know.
    That's just saying "we have no idea what's going on".
    Precisely correct. In some areas, we do know what is going on, or at least we really believe we do. If you believe that about global warming, then it is you whose agenda is blinding him to the obvious reality, which is that if there are a million things to know about the atmosphere, we know about one third of one of them, maybe, presuming our guesses are correct.
    There is no suggestion at all for any mechanism by which genetic predispositions to various pigments could have any effects whatsoever on intelligence.
    What if skin pigment is not the only genetic difference? What if, as researchers are finding out is increasingly common, the genes involved are multipurpose? (Please note that I don't believe for a minute that blacks are genetically inferior; my point is precisely that this sort of correlation between academic performance and intelligence or greenhouse effect in lab tests and the overall temperature of the planet is no basis for claims of the nature people make about global warming.)
    But I'd like to see you prove the validity of induction without using induction.
    Prove it in what sense of that term? I can provide you with a proof that satisfies the first criterion for knowledge: people who rely on it and yet still question it do better than people who refuse to do so - in other words, if you try it, you find out that it works. In point of fact, that's all the evidence we have for deduction and all other forms of reasoning, too, including inference from incomplete information, which is the single most common and single most effective tool we have, and yet one of the most unreliable(far less reliable than induction.)
    Really? I haven't read enough Kant to evaluate that statement - can you say where he says that?
    My sentence was confusing; the text I alluded to is Hume's. I refer you to the last paragraph found here. here. "Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: For it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion." From "An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding" by David Hume.

    Kant's basic mistake, on the other hand, was failure to understand Hume's fork. Hume claimed that all knowledge was either based on observation, and therefore necessarily uncertain, or based on pure logic, and therefore did not actually expand the realm of what was known - ie was merely some logical combination of a set of axioms which, once known, constitute the entirety of what can be known with certainty. Kant took that notion and expanded on it greatly, finding what he thought was a clever "solution." The problem was, his cure was worse than the disease, and the real fault was with Hume's fork, which is simply not correct.

    I don't have time to go into Hume's fork in great detail; you could write a book about its shortcomings. However, consider the things you believe to be true, and compare them to the things you have absolute certainty of, and what you will find, among other things, is that mathematical certainty is not the same as justified belief - in most matters of knowledge, people are fallible, and yet capable of finding the correct answer given time and effort.

    --
    "Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, so why should we let them have ideas?" -- Josef Stalin

    [ Parent ]
    dammit, i hate subjects (none / 0) (#71)
    by samth on Wed May 23, 2001 at 05:02:49 PM EST

    [ That's approximately equal to, not a Perl operator. ]

    Proof in a mathematical sense is not required, but correlation isn't even proof in a more common sense.

    You're missing my point. We have nothing other than correlation.

    This was the basic mistake Hume made; he assumed that "proof" meant mathematical certainty and that correlation meant absolute uncertainty and that there was nothing else; essentially, he ignored what people mean when they use the term "evidence," or else insisted that it was meaningless.

    Hume showed that induction cannot prove anything with certainty. You object to this that most people mean something different by "proof". Sorry, that doesn't cut it.

    here isn't even significant evidence in favor of global warming, because there is so much we know we don't know.

    Those two statements have nothing to do with each other. That should be obvious.

    Precisely correct. In some areas, we do know what is going on, or at least we really believe we do. If you believe that about global warming, then it is you whose agenda is blinding him to the obvious reality, which is that if there are a million things to know about the atmosphere, we know about one third of one of them, maybe, presuming our guesses are correct.

    Newton knew very little about what was going on with gravity. Yet his conclusions were correct. Anybody who pretends they know everything about chaotic systems is silly. But we can know lots of things about them.

    What if skin pigment is not the only genetic difference? What if, as researchers are finding out is increasingly common, the genes involved are multipurpose?

    So some genes do more than one thing. Any evidence linking the different genes that black people have to intelligence? You are still no where close to the "CO2 does this in a lab, so it might do it in the real world too" level of mechanism.

    Prove it in what sense of that term? I can provide you with a proof that satisfies the first criterion for knowledge: people who rely on it and yet still question it do better than people who refuse to do so - in other words, if you try it, you find out that it works. In point of fact, that's all the evidence we have for deduction and all other forms of reasoning, too, including inference from incomplete information, which is the single most common and single most effective tool we have, and yet one of the most unreliable(far less reliable than induction.)

    All inductive proofs (in the scientific, not the mathematical sense) rely on the premise that the future will be like the past. Yet the only evidence we have for that premise is that the future has been like the past in the past. Induction is certainly effective. But it assumes its own premises.

    My sentence was confusing; the text I alluded to is Hume's. I refer you to the last paragraph found here. here. "Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: For it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion." From "An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding" by David Hume.

    Well, that sentence only refers to books on metaphysics, which Hume might claim didn't apply to his. He might also say that it contained "experimental reasoning concerning matters of fact and existence". But that is really neither here nor there.

    [ Kant snipped. ]

    However, consider the things you believe to be true, and compare them to the things you have absolute certainty of, and what you will find, among other things, is that mathematical certainty is not the same as justified belief - in most matters of knowledge, people are fallible, and yet capable of finding the correct answer given time and effort.

    Those beliefs are justified, given that we assume the basic premise of induction, as stated above. That assumption has certainly been useful. That doesn't say anything about its usefulness in the future (since that would require assuming it).

    Like the new sig.

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    Subjects rock my world! (none / 0) (#73)
    by trhurler on Wed May 23, 2001 at 05:22:30 PM EST

    You're missing my point. We have nothing other than correlation.
    All knowledge involves a correlation, but that is not the only relationship we can establish between things. Granted, further relationships do rely on induction; see below for my argument against Hume.
    You object to this that most people mean something different by "proof". Sorry, that doesn't cut it.
    If by "doesn't cut it" you mean that I didn't show that Hume was wrong, you're right - but what I can show is that Hume is irrelevant; most people neither know nor care about mathematical proofs, and yet they know things, and those things are useful to them. Hume's theory of knowledge cannot account for this fact, and therefore is at best incomplete and at worst horribly off target.
    Those two statements have nothing to do with each other. That should be obvious.
    So, if I know that wheels roll and that nuclear energy exists, but know nothing else, and I study a car in motion, and I conclude that cars are nuclear powered, you think my evidence is sufficient to warrant that claim?
    Newton knew very little about what was going on with gravity. Yet his conclusions were correct.
    Actually, his conclusions were sort of correct. We don't really know even now whether he was precisely correct, nor whether there are exceptions to his theory of gravitation, and so on. You are making the mistake of assuming that what is widely and uncritically accepted must be true.
    You are still no where close to the "CO2 does this in a lab, so it might do it in the real world too" level of mechanism.
    Students do worse in a classroom, therefore they might do worse in the world at large. After all, classroom performance IS related to intelligence. The difference is in your willingness to believe, rather than in any logical or empirical aspect of what you are being asked to believe.
    All inductive proofs (in the scientific, not the mathematical sense) rely on the premise that the future will be like the past.
    All deductive proofs rely on the fact that inductively we know that the results of such proofs are borne out by reality. Without induction, we have no reason to believe that this will happen next time. I can do the same thing to any form of reasoning; to disbelieve induction is to disbelieve the possibility of knowledge, and no knowledge is more certain than induction. (You cannot prove your means of proof. This should be obvious.)
    Well, that sentence only refers to books on metaphysics
    Yes, but the structure of the argument that led up to it could have applied it to any and all books, and furthermore, Hume certainly makes metaphysical claims in his book.

    --
    "Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, so why should we let them have ideas?" -- Josef Stalin

    [ Parent ]
    :tcejbus (none / 0) (#75)
    by samth on Wed May 23, 2001 at 06:02:28 PM EST

    All knowledge involves a correlation, but that is not the only relationship we can establish between things. Granted, further relationships do rely on induction; see below for my argument against Hume.

    My point here is one you have agreed with, that all we have is induction from correlation. Good.

    If by "doesn't cut it" you mean that I didn't show that Hume was wrong, you're right - but what I can show is that Hume is irrelevant; most people neither know nor care about mathematical proofs, and yet they know things, and those things are useful to them. Hume's theory of knowledge cannot account for this fact, and therefore is at best incomplete and at worst horribly off target.

    Those thing that they supposedly know have been useful to them in the past. This is, of course, no reason to believe that they will be useful in the future.

    I'm not claiming people should stop using inductive methods of reasoning. I do it all the time. I'm just pointing out that they rest on unprovable assumptions.

    So, if I know that wheels roll and that nuclear energy exists, but know nothing else, and I study a car in motion, and I conclude that cars are nuclear powered, you think my evidence is sufficient to warrant that claim?

    That's a clever strawman. But what I claimed was that despite not knowing lots of things about the climate, we can still draw conclusions about the climate. I know very little about how cars work, yet I can still draw conclusions about how they work based on that limited knowledge.

    Actually, his conclusions were sort of correct. We don't really know even now whether he was precisely correct, nor whether there are exceptions to his theory of gravitation, and so on. You are making the mistake of assuming that what is widely and uncritically accepted must be true.

    Right. His conclusions were falsified by relativity. But gravity is, at least roughly, an inverse square law, and Newton was able to figure that out with very limited information. In fact, he was able to predict gravity lots better than people currently predict the weather.

    Students do worse in a classroom, therefore they might do worse in the world at large. After all, classroom performance IS related to intelligence. The difference is in your willingness to believe, rather than in any logical or empirical aspect of what you are being asked to believe.

    The degree to which you have missed the point here is so stunning, I'm not even going to try to explain it.

    All deductive proofs rely on the fact that inductively we know that the results of such proofs are borne out by reality.

    Sorry, no. The proofs I do in math class rely on no aspects of scientific induction, or on any bearing-out by reality.

    Without induction, we have no reason to believe that this will happen next time.

    Happen next time has no meaning for deductive logic. Deduction show that one statement follows from another. It has nothing to do with times things happened.

    I can do the same thing to any form of reasoning; to disbelieve induction is to disbelieve the possibility of knowledge, and no knowledge is more certain than induction.

    I don't disbelieve induction, but disbelieving induction merely requires rejecting knowledge about the world, not all knowledge. And you just failed to do that for deductive reasoning.

    You cannot prove your means of proof. This should be obvious.

    Of course. I have merely demonstrated that to use induction, you must assume that the present will be like the past. I see this as a more significant assumption than that all numbers have successors, or similar types of assumptions.

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    fhowrpg (none / 0) (#77)
    by trhurler on Wed May 23, 2001 at 06:28:23 PM EST

    Those thing that they supposedly know have been useful to them in the past. This is, of course, no reason to believe that they will be useful in the future.
    The survival of the human race up to this time belies the latter claim made here. If the universe makes any kind of sense, then induction is valid, and if not, then we would have been extinct long ago.
    That's a clever strawman.
    Look up 'straw man.' I do not think it means what you think it means. The car analogy is perfect; I can draw incorrect conclusions based on information which is far too incomplete. Furthermore, if we then assume that I might try to construct and operate a nuclear powered car, which of course would have probable negative consequences, then it becomes clearer why taking actions based on conclusions derived from massively incomplete data is dangerous. The action you're proposing has a probable negative impact on every one of the several billion human beings on this planet; if you can't show that it is both necessary to act and that your proposed action will be effective - not that it is possible, or that it appears likely based on knowledge you must admit to be horrendously incomplete - then there is no justification.
    The degree to which you have missed the point here is so stunning, I'm not even going to try to explain it.
    I'm tempted to reply in kind.
    Sorry, no. The proofs I do in math class rely on no aspects of scientific induction, or on any bearing-out by reality.
    You would not be doing them if they were not useful in dealing with reality - and knowledge of that utility is purely inductive. (The majority of of math developments were purely pragmatic in nature; it really is only in the last couple of hundred years or so that it has become something that people do just because they find it interesting. If it weren't for the practical aspect, there would be no theoretical study of mathematics. In fact, if math didn't map onto certain characteristics of the real world, such as numerability of objects and so on, you probably would be incapable of understanding it at all.)
    Happen next time has no meaning for deductive logic. Deduction show that one statement follows from another. It has nothing to do with times things happened.
    And how do you know that 2+2 will equal 4 the next time you add them? (This is a serious question; I realize it seems silly, but if you think about what it implies, you may well discover why I regard the question "why should I believe in induction" to be equally silly. The basic rules of everything would have to change in order to alter either one.)
    I have merely demonstrated that to use induction, you must assume that the present will be like the past. I see this as a more significant assumption than that all numbers have successors, or similar types of assumptions.
    Many people see it as a more significant assumption despite the fact that there is no basis for this in human experience. I am therefore led to believe that most people are idiots:)

    --
    "Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, so why should we let them have ideas?" -- Josef Stalin

    [ Parent ]
    explain that subject (none / 0) (#80)
    by samth on Wed May 23, 2001 at 06:51:07 PM EST

    The survival of the human race up to this time belies the latter claim made here. If the universe makes any kind of sense, then induction is valid, and if not, then we would have been extinct long ago.

    But why should the universe keep making sense? And why should the universe's lack of sense cause us to go extinct? And, of course, claims that include the phrase "up to this time" are claims about the past, which require an additional premise (guess which one) to make claims about the future.

    Look up 'straw man.' I do not think it means what you think it means. The car analogy is perfect; I can draw incorrect conclusions based on information which is far too incomplete. Furthermore, if we then assume that I might try to construct and operate a nuclear powered car, which of course would have probable negative consequences, then it becomes clearer why taking actions based on conclusions derived from massively incomplete data is dangerous.

    Dictionary.com agrees with me about the definition of straw man. I said that you could make correct conclusions based on incomplete information, and you pointed out that based on virtually no information, you could make incorrect conclusions.

    The action you're proposing has a probable negative impact on every one of the several billion human beings on this planet; if you can't show that it is both necessary to act and that your proposed action will be effective - not that it is possible, or that it appears likely based on knowledge you must admit to be horrendously incomplete - then there is no justification.

    We have impact x, from the Kyoto treaty. It has probability .5. We have impact y, from doing nothing. It has probablity .1. If both are bad, but y is ten times as bad as x, which is certainly the case here, then we should enact the Kyoto treaty.

    You would not be doing them if they were not useful in dealing with reality - and knowledge of that utility is purely inductive.

    No, that's wrong. They aren't useful to me in dealing with reality, and that's not why I study them.

    The majority of of math developments were purely pragmatic in nature; it really is only in the last couple of hundred years or so that it has become something that people do just because they find it interesting. If it weren't for the practical aspect, there would be no theoretical study of mathematics.

    This is totally irrelevant.

    In fact, if math didn't map onto certain characteristics of the real world, such as numerability of objects and so on, you probably would be incapable of understanding it at all.

    That's nice. That doesn't change the fact that the truth of the Cauchy-Schwarz inequality is not at all based on any real world fact.

    And how do you know that 2+2 will equal 4 the next time you add them?

    That question doesn't make sense. 2+2 equals 4 regardless of whether I add them or not, or when I add them. There is no "next time" here.

    Many people see it as a more significant assumption despite the fact that there is no basis for this in human experience. I am therefore led to believe that most people are idiots:)

    Huh? I didn't quite follow that. What is "it" in that sentence?

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    subject piped through rot13 (none / 0) (#86)
    by trhurler on Wed May 23, 2001 at 07:26:31 PM EST

    But why should the universe keep making sense?
    You are questioning the basis on which you are able to question things. Feel free, but you won't get far; there are no answers to questions of this type. (Another example is, where did the universe come from? The big bang is not the answer; that just leads to the question, where did the pre-big-bang stuff come from?)
    I said that you could make correct conclusions based on incomplete information, and you pointed out that based on virtually no information, you could make incorrect conclusions.
    And relative to the amount there is to know about the atmosphere and other planetary influences on overall temperature, we know virtually nothing. Why you keep denying this, I do not know.
    We have impact x, from the Kyoto treaty. It has probability .5. We have impact y, from doing nothing. It has probablity .1. If both are bad, but y is ten times as bad as x, which is certainly the case here, then we should enact the Kyoto treaty.
    Utilitarianism made no sense when uttered by foolish British wannabe philosophers, and it makes no sense now. You cannot measure the value of human life by counting heads.
    That's nice. That doesn't change the fact that the truth of the Cauchy-Schwarz inequality is not at all based on any real world fact.
    The rules of logic that underlie mathematics are in fact a function of the kind of reality we live in, and reflect upon it. The only alternative is to claim that they are purely a function of the kind of minds we have, which is just another way of saying the same thing indirectly.
    2+2 equals 4 regardless of whether I add them or not, or when I add them.
    And how do you know that? There is an implicit inductive premise in the very act of recalling previously known truth. You would like to believe that knowledge can be separated from the people who possess it and the method of function of their minds, but this is ludicrous.
    Huh? I didn't quite follow that. What is "it" in that sentence?
    Put another way, the assumption that numbers have successors is no more justifiable than the assumption that the universe makes sense and will continue to do so; if the latter is not true, then neither is the former. Mathematics is a part of reality; the mythical notion that it exists independent of reality is what you get when mathematicians do metaphysics and epistemology in their spare time. Clearer now?

    --
    "Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, so why should we let them have ideas?" -- Josef Stalin

    [ Parent ]
    subject (piped through rot26) (none / 0) (#87)
    by samth on Wed May 23, 2001 at 09:53:02 PM EST

    Clearer now?

    <flame>Yes. You know as little about metaphysics and epistemology as you do about ethics and political philosophy. One can only hope you make an exception to your ignorance for whatever it is that you do when you aren't posting here.</flame>

    There. Now I feel much better. On to what you actually said.

    You are questioning the basis on which you are able to question things. Feel free, but you won't get far; there are no answers to questions of this type. (Another example is, where did the universe come from? The big bang is not the answer; that just leads to the question, where did the pre-big-bang stuff come from?)

    These are not the same kind of question. They do have the same answer, the we are unable to know either that the universe will be the same in the future, or what happened "at the beginning". However, the former question is unanswerable because of the inherently circular nature of induction, whereas the latter question is unanswerable because of particluar characteristics of the big bang (namely, that it destroyed evidence of what came before). And neither question disrupts my ability to question things.

    And relative to the amount there is to know about the atmosphere and other planetary influences on overall temperature, we know virtually nothing. Why you keep denying this, I do not know.

    All I deny is that the current state of knowledge is insufficent to draw any meaningful conclusions. And I pointed out that meaningful conclusions have been drawn from less knowledge.

    Utilitarianism made no sense when uttered by foolish British wannabe philosophers, and it makes no sense now.

    I'm glad to see it's not just us socialist eco-freaks who get called names. And what precisely is the distinction between "wannabe" philosophers and real ones? Having written boring novels?

    You cannot measure the value of human life by counting heads.

    Just watch me. Anyway, you measure the value of human life by counting dollars. I think I'm doing better on that score.

    The rules of logic that underlie mathematics are in fact a function of the kind of reality we live in, and reflect upon it. The only alternative is to claim that they are purely a function of the kind of minds we have, which is just another way of saying the same thing indirectly.

    First, given the rules of logic, no reference to the rest of the world is required. Second, the rules of logic can be defined without reference to the rest of the world. And most importantly, they are independent of actual specific events in the world, or the relationship between different times in the world.

    And how do you know that? There is an implicit inductive premise in the very act of recalling previously known truth. You would like to believe that knowledge can be separated from the people who possess it and the method of function of their minds, but this is ludicrous.

    The fact that 2+2=4 is a direct consequence of the definitions of 2, 4, + and =. Once you define those terms, 2+2=4. You could have defined 6 too, and looked only at the statement 6=4+2. However, you would also have defined that 2+2=4. No act of addition is required.

    Put another way, the assumption that numbers have successors is no more justifiable than the assumption that the universe makes sense and will continue to do so; if the latter is not true, then neither is the former.

    Why? As to your first claim, that's what we all mean by "numbers". But it's not a neccessary part of the definition of the universe. And you could certainly adopt a mathematics that didn't have that principle. The real numbers, say. And assuming that induction is invalid is just as reasonable as assuming it's valid (in an abstract sense, we wouldn't do very well if we rejected it, since there aren't other good ways of getting justified beliefs).

    As to your second claim, why would assuming that the universe changing in radical ways (say, making gravity a repusive force) have any impact on number theory?

    Mathematics is a part of reality; the mythical notion that it exists independent of reality is what you get when mathematicians do metaphysics and epistemology in their spare time.

    Given that you know what 127.0.0.1, I think I can safely assume that you are also doing metaphysics and epistemology in your spare time. So, even though I haven't claimed that mathematics is not a part of reality, saying that it isn't requires more than ad hominem attacks that also apply to you.

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    This is your subject on drugs (none / 0) (#92)
    by trhurler on Thu May 24, 2001 at 08:41:58 PM EST

    Anyway, you measure the value of human life by counting dollars.
    Not even close. I'm not sure what you think I am, but you're clearly mistaken.
    Second, the rules of logic can be defined without reference to the rest of the world.
    The rules of logic only work because of the kind of reality we live in. You can define them in some hypothetical sense without reference to reality, but the mistake you're making is pretending that you exist at all to define ANYTHING without reference to reality. Further, even if you existed in a void with nothing else, just your mind sitting there by itself, you would be unable to conceive of logic; logic is learned by observation of things that obey logical rules. It may later be abstracted, but this does not mean it existed in your head independent of the world in which you live.
    And assuming that induction is invalid is just as reasonable as assuming it's valid (in an abstract sense,
    Our entire difference at this point(the items I'm still replying to,) is over this notion you have that abstraction will let you have consequences without their causes. Minds and their ideas do not exist in a vacuum, and cannot. The assumption otherwise which is so common in mathematics may be useful in thinking about mathematics, but it is not correct strictly speaking, and if you try to engage in philosophical speculations that involve divorcing the rules by which reality operates from the reality itself, you're going to end up saying silly things.
    Given that you know what 127.0.0.1, I think I can safely assume that you are also doing metaphysics and epistemology in your spare time.
    These days, yes. There was a number of years where this was not the case. I'm starting to get more and more back into philosophy, because I've got enough spare time to constitute a second occupation. Three cheers for the tech boom collapse; 40 hour workweeks are handy. At any rate, I've never seen good philosophy from a mathematician. This seems counterintuitive, but mathematicians seem always to make this mistake, thinking that abstraction can be done in a vacuum, rather than from a given starting point (or points) based in the world they inhabit, and then there are some who just have their own unique ways of screwing up; Wittgenstein comes to mind. Mathematician/logician by training, epistemologist because he thought he knew something. His early work was just plain silly(I can expound at length if you want, but I doubt you do:), and his later stuff(which contradicted the early on many points) made Kant look sensible(and readable, as it happens.)

    --
    "Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, so why should we let them have ideas?" -- Josef Stalin

    [ Parent ]
    This is your subject with a side of bacon (none / 0) (#93)
    by samth on Fri May 25, 2001 at 04:06:41 AM EST

    Ever see that poster?

    Anyway, you measure the value of human life by counting dollars.
    Not even close. I'm not sure what you think I am, but you're clearly mistaken.

    You would probably call them "property rights", but whatever you call them, they are standing between thousands of hungry people and the food that would keep them alive. That's all I meant.

    The rules of logic only work because of the kind of reality we live in.

    This is false. The rules of logic are rules for manipulating symbols. They would not stop "working" (for whatever value working has here) if the universe radically changed tommorow. If you disagree, provide an example of what kind of change you are talking about.

    You can define them in some hypothetical sense without reference to reality, but the mistake you're making is pretending that you exist at all to define ANYTHING without reference to reality.

    You seem to be claiming that a definition cannot have existence independent of its definer. I dispute this claim. That sentence isn't really clear enough for me to argue more than that here.

    Further, even if you existed in a void with nothing else, just your mind sitting there by itself, you would be unable to conceive of logic; logic is learned by observation of things that obey logical rules. It may later be abstracted, but this does not mean it existed in your head independent of the world in which you live.

    This is irrelevant.

    Our entire difference at this point(the items I'm still replying to,) is over this notion you have that abstraction will let you have consequences without their causes. Minds and their ideas do not exist in a vacuum, and cannot. The assumption otherwise which is so common in mathematics may be useful in thinking about mathematics, but it is not correct strictly speaking, and if you try to engage in philosophical speculations that involve divorcing the rules by which reality operates from the reality itself, you're going to end up saying silly things.

    This is not the sense in which I meant "abstract". Perhaps I was unclear. I meant that there are practical considerations which make it not worthwhile to take the position that induction is invalid. The most important of these are that our brains work that way, and that there aren't other good ways of justifying our beliefs. However, neither of those reasons has any bearing on the reasonableness of induction. If you were willing to reject the way your brain works, and to die in the near future (not that you'd know that, of course), you could certainly reject all inductive knowledge.

    At any rate, I've never seen good philosophy from a mathematician.

    While I disagree with a lot of what he says, Leibniz is usuall regarded as a decent philosopher.

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    This subject for rent (none / 0) (#95)
    by trhurler on Fri May 25, 2001 at 12:08:49 PM EST

    Yes, that poster is amusing.
    You would probably call them "property rights", but whatever you call them, they are standing between thousands of hungry people and the food that would keep them alive. That's all I meant.
    Lots more than thousands, actually, but I don't think property rights are the problem. To see why I think this, consider: if those countries had US-style governments and economies, those people wouldn't be starving. I'm not saying "if they were successful," either - even the poor in the US don't starve to death unless they're too pigheaded to accept help, and if they're obstinate enough to starve to death when help is available, then what do you do?
    This is false. The rules of logic are rules for manipulating symbols. They would not stop "working" (for whatever value working has here) if the universe radically changed tommorow. If you disagree, provide an example of what kind of change you are talking about.
    If you literally mean logic in its most abstract sense, then I am uncertain as to whether you are correct, but I am certain that people would never learn logic in the first place, if we could exist at all. And that's my entire point: we know of logic and its workings because we have discovered them in the world around us. We did not conceive of logic and then later start applying it to the world. If the world was different(say, events happened without cause as often as with,) then regardless of whether a given set of rules for manipulating symbols was still internally consistent, we'd never know that set of rules, and since it wouldn't be embodied in the universe and we wouldn't know it, it wouldn't exist at all.
    You seem to be claiming that a definition cannot have existence independent of its definer.
    You can write a definition down, but when you do, you are not embedding semantics. You are relying on the intellect that comes along and reads it to determine the sematics based on a great deal of information you did not write down and only a tiny amount that you actually put down. The definition is the construct of an intelligent mind; it associates a word with something else. Absent intelligent minds, there are no definitions. Now, you probably really meant to say that you think concepts can exist independent of people, rather than definitions, but I'd argue that the same way: people form concepts. The concepts may describe the way the world works, but they are a description, rather than the world itself, and they are our description.
    However, neither of those reasons has any bearing on the reasonableness of induction.
    You are using a standard of truth, which you call "proof," which involves deductive processes, and then saying that induction cannot meet it. I could just as easily say that, based on my inductive methods, I cannot show that deduction is valid. You have no better claim for the reasonableness of deduction than I have for induction, and in fact, induction seems a lot more reasonable, because a lot more people successfully apply it a lot more often than can be said for deduction. You can, of course, whip out a set of rules showing how if the premises are true, the conclusion must also be true, but in order to be a valid form of reasoning about anything useful(which is what we generally use induction for, and which is what the discussion started off about,) you have to assign premises and verify that they follow the rules of your argument to produce your conclusion - try and "prove" you did that right. (In general, you'll use induction to do so:) It is true; human knowledge is not certain. However, it is not reasonable to regard induction as an invalid means of reasoning just because you can't "prove" it using another valid means of reasoning, all the moreso when you can't even use the alternative means without using induction.
    While I disagree with a lot of what he says, Leibniz is usuall regarded as a decent philosopher.
    As it happens, there are a lot more good philosophers than there is good philosophy, which I suppose I should have made clear when I made my claim about mathematicians. Certainly, the mind for abstract thought is there, but that has not, in my reading at least, been enough to produce good results in the end. Interesting results, quite often, but that isn't quite the same thing if you actually want philosophy to be more than a meaningless academic diversion.

    --
    "Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, so why should we let them have ideas?" -- Josef Stalin

    [ Parent ]
    if you lived here, you would be home now (none / 0) (#97)
    by samth on Fri May 25, 2001 at 05:10:47 PM EST

    If those countries had US-style governments and economies, those people wouldn't be starving.

    I think this is clearly false. One, India has quite close to a US style of government, as does South Africa. Two, it is highly naive to think that if Ethiopia converted to a modern democracy tommorow, that people would stop starving.

    If you literally mean logic in its most abstract sense, then I am uncertain as to whether you are correct, but I am certain that people would never learn logic in the first place, if we could exist at all.

    Given that we already exist, and have already learned logic, I see this as irrelevant. However, what differences in the universe would suffice to make logic invalid (or even different than it is now)?

    You can write a definition down, but when you do, you are not embedding semantics. You are relying on the intellect that comes along and reads it to determine the sematics based on a great deal of information you did not write down and only a tiny amount that you actually put down. The definition is the construct of an intelligent mind; it associates a word with something else. Absent intelligent minds, there are no definitions.

    You aren't embedding semantics if you mean relationship to actual objects in the world, that's certainly true. But it's certainly possible to write down definitions and derive further statements from them without intelligence. That's what Prolog does.

    You are using a standard of truth, which you call "proof," which involves deductive processes, and then saying that induction cannot meet it.

    No, I'm saying that induction relies on a premise which must be assumed, and which we have no reasonable basis for assuming. If we knew for some reason that the future would be like the past, induction would no longer rely on an unsupportable premise.

    You have no better claim for the reasonableness of deduction than I have for induction, and in fact, induction seems a lot more reasonable, because a lot more people successfully apply it a lot more often than can be said for deduction. You can, of course, whip out a set of rules showing how if the premises are true, the conclusion must also be true, but in order to be a valid form of reasoning about anything useful(which is what we generally use induction for, and which is what the discussion started off about,) you have to assign premises and verify that they follow the rules of your argument to produce your conclusion - try and "prove" you did that right.

    I don't think this follows at all. Given the definitions of 2,4,6,+ and = w as we had earlier, what about induction is neccessary to show that 2+2=4? It is true that not using induction would be a bad idea since it's the only way to get knowledge about the world around us. But that is neither here nor there.

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    Don't ask me, lady. I live in beer. (none / 0) (#98)
    by trhurler on Fri May 25, 2001 at 05:37:33 PM EST

    One, India has quite close to a US style of government, as does South Africa. Two, it is highly naive to think that if Ethiopia converted to a modern democracy tommorow, that people would stop starving.
    I said governments and economies, and neither India nor Ethiopia has anything like the (relative) lack of regulation the US currently enjoys. Further, India's government, as much as it might on paper look like the US, suffers from rampant corruption, waste, and also engages in insane economic manipulations.
    Given that we already exist, and have already learned logic, I see this as irrelevant.
    Given that we already exist and have already learned logic, we are not apart from the reality in which we did it. That's my point. You want to think that logic would exist the same way in some alternate reality, but why couldn't that reality be utterly free of cause and effect, or at least partly so? Moreover, to what does logic refer absent any reality at all? What mind conceives of it in that setting?
    No, I'm saying that induction relies on a premise which must be assumed, and which we have no reasonable basis for assuming.
    Applying deduction to anything but a purely mathematical problem relies on induction. (Actually, applying any mode of reasoning to anything but a purely mathematical problem relies on induction.) I do not disagree that math can be done with certainty, but math itself, sans any interpretation mapping onto reality, has the interesting property of being useless.

    --
    "Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, so why should we let them have ideas?" -- Josef Stalin

    [ Parent ]
    q (none / 0) (#100)
    by samth on Fri May 25, 2001 at 06:11:06 PM EST

    I said governments and economies, and neither India nor Ethiopia has anything like the (relative) lack of regulation the US currently enjoys.

    Actually, I expect that Ethiopia has something like no regulation, especially in the parts with severe famine, mostly since there's not much economy to regulate. And lots and lots of economic activity in India is totally unregulated, and probably not even known to the government. And are you really suggesting that if Ethiopia stopped all economic regulation tommorow, people would stop starving?

    Further, India's government, as much as it might on paper look like the US, suffers from rampant corruption, waste, and also engages in insane economic manipulations.

    Well, I might accuse the US government of rampant corruption and waste too. But how much of those problems in India are an effect, not a cause, of poverty?

    Given that we already exist and have already learned logic, we are not apart from the reality in which we did it. That's my point.

    We are not. But logic could be.

    You want to think that logic would exist the same way in some alternate reality, but why couldn't that reality be utterly free of cause and effect, or at least partly so?

    Being partly free of cause and effect is sort of hard. And Hume said our reality was free of cause and effect (well, sort of). Finally, why should lack of cause and effect affect logic?

    Moreover, to what does logic refer absent any reality at all? What mind conceives of it in that setting?

    Logic doesn't have to refer to anything. It's just symbol manipulation. That was my point with the prolog example.

    Applying deduction to anything but a purely mathematical problem relies on induction. (Actually, applying any mode of reasoning to anything but a purely mathematical problem relies on induction.)

    No, it's possible to get your premises about the world in lots of ways. Making them up, for example.

    I do not disagree that math can be done with certainty, but math itself, sans any interpretation mapping onto reality, has the interesting property of being useless.

    Well, you could come up with some random mapping of math onto reality. And math is fun by itself. But more importantly, I never claimed one could have useful knowledge about the world without induction.

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    The BSD which can be explained is not the true BSD (none / 0) (#101)
    by trhurler on Fri May 25, 2001 at 06:28:29 PM EST

    I'm going to cut out the economic/political parts because they could go on forever and I don't care enough, honestly. On the other hand, if you say "I never claimed one could have useful knowledge about the world without induction" then why would you doubt the validity of induction? We're here. We are not extinct. What other evidence do you need? Yes, in principle, it could stop working tomorrow. In principle, we could all cease to exist tomorrow for no reason at all; there are some hypotheticals that just aren't worth arguing about if your point is to live your life rather than just be pointlessly argumentative.

    --
    "Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, so why should we let them have ideas?" -- Josef Stalin

    [ Parent ]
    x (none / 0) (#102)
    by samth on Fri May 25, 2001 at 06:36:04 PM EST

    Yes, in principle, it could stop working tomorrow. In principle, we could all cease to exist tomorrow for no reason at all; there are some hypotheticals that just aren't worth arguing about if your point is to live your life rather than just be pointlessly argumentative.

    If that's your purpose, what are you doing on K5? :-)

    Seriously, my point is that you can't have useful knowledge with induction either, where knowledge means justified belief, since induction cannot be justified, except that there are no alternatives. So we need to keep using induction, since we don't have a choice. But it still rests on an unsupportable premise.

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    On a clear disk, you can seek forever (none / 0) (#104)
    by trhurler on Tue May 29, 2001 at 11:16:30 AM EST

    "Justified belief" depends on how you define "justified." If you're looking for "proof," as in a deductive result, then you won't get one on induction - you're right about that. However, one of the things modern education, especially that of mathematicians and computer scientists and so on, utterly fails to do is to show people that "proof" is not the only standard by which we can validate our claims. It is certainly a good one, and it is the least risky, but it is not the only one.

    I think that I am justified in believing that induction is a valid means of acquiring knowledge, and I point to the entire mass of humanity on this planet and the very fact that they can exist at all, much less have become the dominant species on the planet, as my justification. You may not agree with me; in this case, your position is called "denial of reality." :)

    --
    'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

    [ Parent ]
    on an opaque disk, you can still see forever (none / 0) (#106)
    by samth on Wed May 30, 2001 at 06:35:58 AM EST

    I think that I am justified in believing that induction is a valid means of acquiring knowledge, and I point to the entire mass of humanity on this planet and the very fact that they can exist at all, much less have become the dominant species on the planet, as my justification. You may not agree with me; in this case, your position is called "denial of reality." :)
    Well, your justification rests on those facts, plus the assumption that the factors that allowed those occurances to happen will continue in the future. You seem to think that instead of an assumption, that is a fundamental truth about the universe. I think it's just an assumption.

    Of course, I will keep making this assumption, since to do otherwise would be basically impossible, and certainly pointless. But it's still just an assumption.

    Having said that, I don't think this debate is going any further, so unless you have something significantly different to say, I think we can agree to disagree on the matter of the above principle.

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    Misunderstanding the Greenhouse Effect. (none / 0) (#54)
    by sec on Wed May 23, 2001 at 02:01:34 AM EST

    Well, merely considering natural effects (or 'forcings') on the global climate, the temperature should not have risen significantly in the last 25 years. But it has. However, taking into account human-caused forcings, we get very close agreement between the models and the observed data going back 150 years. Of course, CO2 emissions are by far the largest human forcing. In fact, the largest other human forcing is release of CFCs, which is a negative forcing. [1] Thus, in the abscence of better theories, and given the known greenhouse gas properties of CO2, the logical assumption is that human release of greenhouse gases, primarily CO2, has warmed the planet in the last 25 years.

    You're ignoring a third possibility -- the earth hasn't warmed, but problems involved with gathering temperature data make it look like it has.

    Indeed, many problems have been noted with past temperature records, ranging from the Urban Heat Island effect to Siberian authorities underreporting temperatures so that they would be allocated more coal.

    See here for more details.

    Greenhouse gases trap heat. We put greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The planet heats up. Assuming that humans are causing increased greenhouse effects causes climate models to work for past data. What more do you want?

    The primary problem is that CO2 is a bit-player in the greenhouse effect, accounting for only a tiny fraction of the trapped energy. The primary player, accounting for 90-98% of the energy trapped, is water vapour.

    This is what makes some people skeptical about the whole business.



    [ Parent ]

    misunderstandings (none / 0) (#56)
    by samth on Wed May 23, 2001 at 06:02:54 AM EST

    You're ignoring a third possibility -- the earth hasn't warmed, but problems involved with gathering temperature data make it look like it has.

    Indeed, many problems have been noted with past temperature records, ranging from the Urban Heat Island effect to Siberian authorities underreporting temperatures so that they would be allocated more coal.

    See here for more details.

    Well, I was ignoring that point since trhurler agreed to it, but I'm sure he won't now.

    It should also be noted that saying "the data sucks" which is most of what the (quite interesting) web page you linked to said doesn't, of course, prove anything about what that data shows.

    Finally, I give the same response as I gave to your other post. I'm unable to evaluate these competing claims, and lots of people who can think that global warming is real. And any institute that thinks that CO2 is good for the world is at least a little loony.

    The primary problem is that CO2 is a bit-player in the greenhouse effect, accounting for only a tiny fraction of the trapped energy. The primary player, accounting for 90-98% of the energy trapped, is water vapour.

    Compared to the force of gravity on your body, getting punched is miniscule. But it still hurts. No greenhouse effect would be very bad for life on the planet. But too much would also be very bad.

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    Wrong measurement (none / 0) (#60)
    by trhurler on Wed May 23, 2001 at 01:13:55 PM EST

    Compared to the force of gravity on your body, getting punched is miniscule.
    First of all, it isn't even true, and second, it misses the point of punching someone. It isn't true because anyone who has either training or experience can most likely hit with more than the 150 pounds or so that you weigh; more than just arm muscles go into a good punch. And it misses the point because if gravity's effect was put into the middle of your chest as a point force, it wouldn't be long before you were dead; a fist is a lot closer to a point force than to the sort of distributed pull you get from gravity.

    --
    And when you consider that Siggy is second only to trhurler as far as posters whose name at the top of a comment fill me with forboding, that's sayin
    [ Parent ]
    thanks for missing the point (none / 0) (#62)
    by samth on Wed May 23, 2001 at 01:52:37 PM EST

    Ok, maybe being punched was a bad example. My point was that although the human body is adapted to enduring, and not even noticing, significant forces, significantly smaller increases in those forces are still noticeable.

    But, I don't even need an analogy to prove my point. If water vapor causes the greenhouse effect, with a little help from CO2, then more CO2 will increase the greenhouse effect. It's not like anyone's claiming that the temperature is going to rise by as much as the greenhouse effect currently affects us (about 30 degrees).

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    But it does... (none / 0) (#61)
    by beergut on Wed May 23, 2001 at 01:22:35 PM EST

    It should also be noted that saying "the data sucks" which is most of what the (quite interesting) web page you linked to said doesn't, of course, prove anything about what that data shows.

    "There are lies, damn lies, and statistics."
    "Figures don't lie, but lies do figure."

    The point is, you can't use faulty data to make a concrete scientific case. The whole notion of, "well, we have to do something!" is farcical.

    Also, consider that the "global climate optimum" experienced about six-hundred years ago saw farming in Greenland. Why was the Earth warmer in the past than it is now? Why did it get colder? Why, if true, is it getting warmer now? Could this simply be a natural cycle in the Earth's temperature that we've not yet been able to explain adequately? What of dire predictions of "global cooling" and a "new ice age" in the sixties and early seventies?

    I see the situation as this: there are too many conflicting opinions, and the data is inconclusive. Any speculation about global warming (by the same people who were hand-wringing about global cooling thirty years ago, no less) is empty-headed sophistry. There must be an agenda at work, which is aided by creating a big panic about something, and convincing the sheep to stampede.

    Follow the money.

    i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
    i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

    -- indubitable
    [ Parent ]

    does what? (none / 0) (#66)
    by samth on Wed May 23, 2001 at 04:30:38 PM EST

    The point is, you can't use faulty data to make a concrete scientific case.

    That was, in fact, precisely my point. Mr. Daly uses it to make a case against global warming.

    Also, consider that the "global climate optimum" experienced about six-hundred years ago saw farming in Greenland. Why was the Earth warmer in the past than it is now? Why did it get colder? Why, if true, is it getting warmer now? Could this simply be a natural cycle in the Earth's temperature that we've not yet been able to explain adequately? What of dire predictions of "global cooling" and a "new ice age" in the sixties and early seventies?

    The ability to farm in greenland (which was exadgeratted by Greenland's promoters, hence the name) does not prove that the entire earth was warmer then. I, not being a climatologist, am not able to say one way or another what it proves.

    The predictions of global cooling were wrong. But that doesn't prove anything at all, any more than cold fusion proves that modern physics is wrong.

    I see the situation as this: there are too many conflicting opinions, and the data is inconclusive. Any speculation about global warming (by the same people who were hand-wringing about global cooling thirty years ago, no less) is empty-headed sophistry. There must be an agenda at work, which is aided by creating a big panic about something, and convincing the sheep to stampede.

    The situation I see has most people agreeing with the global warming theory. I also see the links I'm pointed to being paid for by the Western Fuels Association, which has a very vested interest in discrediting global warming. There's certainly an agenda at work. The question is, who's agenda?

    Follow the money.

    Precisely.

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]

    So... we agree... (none / 0) (#72)
    by beergut on Wed May 23, 2001 at 05:17:28 PM EST

    Me:
    The point is, you can't use faulty data to make a concrete scientific case.

    You:
    That was, in fact, precisely my point. Mr. Daly uses it to make a case against global warming.

    [Note to self: learn how to do block-indenting]

    My take on the issue is, if the data is faulty, it cannot reasonably be used to show anything, one way or another. Any results based upon it are specious.

    This means that the global-warming doomsayers are wrong when they use this data to scream about the imminent failure of the sky-support system.

    This means that the global-warming deniers are wrong when they use this data to poo-poo Chicken Little.

    What the faulty, suspect data shows me is that we need to:

    • Improve our methods and technology for measuring climate.
    • Step back, monitor, and wait for real, solid data to indicate a long-term, concrete trend.
    • Make a concerted effort to de-politicize the whole fscking mess. Panic buys us nothing.
    • Investigate more thoroughly the relationship between greenhouse gases and non-greenhouse gases in the context of Earth's atmosphere.
    • Investigate more thoroughly the reasons for Earth's cyclic freeze/thaw.
    • Realize that we are unlikely to significantly change the Earth's climate no matter what we do, because we cannot (yet?) control Earth's natural processes. See: Mt. Pinatubo, etc.
    The ability to farm in greenland (which was exadgeratted by Greenland's promoters, hence the name) does not prove that the entire earth was warmer then.

    No, but other climatological, archaeological, cryptozoological, and other "ological"s point that direction. It is safe to say that the Earth was warmer in dinosaur-days, is it not? Why, then, did we cool down? Why were there ice ages before (and after)?

    I, not being a climatologist, am not able to say one way or another what it proves.

    Which is precisely why we should study more closely the significance of these issues, and the reasons for them. We should not act rashly. Correlation is not causation, and we should not behave as if it is. Beware of people who claim to want to help the world by hurting you.

    By saying, "I don't know what this means, but we should do something.", you have fallen into the trap laid by eco-wackos. You are playing to their agenda marvelously, without having studied at all any other reasons for the (supposed) upswing in global temperatures or, I suspect, casting a critical eye in their direction.

    I don't say, "do nothing." I do say, "study the problem closely, and if there is proven causation, modify our behavior." (iff the effects are truly harmful - if we find the effects to be beneficial, we should continue until such point as we have reached what we reason to be an "optimum").

    The predictions of global cooling were wrong. But that doesn't prove anything at all, any more than cold fusion proves that modern physics is wrong.

    It does serve to illustrate that dire predictions of impending doom, based on sketchy evidence, are worthless. It also serves well as a guide to the trustworthiness of the people and organizations involved. It is instructive to look to these organizations and ferret out their agendas.

    The same scrutiny should, of course, be directed at those who say there is absolutely no problem and no reason to further study the issue. We should be aware of, and leery of, any effects we have on our world.

    But, that doesn't mean we shouldn't endeavor to make our lots a bit better, if we can. If it is shown that by increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, we could end up with more arable land, more moderate temperatures, less severe weather, and a host of other good things, would we not be remiss if we did nothing to increase the amount of these gases in the atmosphere?

    The situation I see has most people agreeing with the global warming theory.

    Agreed. Now, you have to ask yourself: when is the last time you saw an objective story in the media which presented the opposing viewpoint, or one which urged us to gather more data before acting rashly? If you cannot cast a critical eye upon our "saviors" (the environmentalists who claim that global coo...warming is going to kill us all and invite the wrath of Gaia on our heads), then you obviously bleat for your supper.

    The whole thing boils down to this: there is not enough media attention (hence sheep-direction) focused on those who are skeptical of global-warming-doom-and-gloomers. There is no rational debate in the public arena about the issue, as those who have an opposing viewpoint, or a different explanation, are roundly shouted down and baselessly discredited in the public eye.

    I also see the links I'm pointed to being paid for by the Western Fuels Association, which has a very vested interest in discrediting global warming.

    Correct. There is bullshit galore. From all sides, there is enough to cloud the real issue to make a reasonable person throw up his hands and give up. That, along with sheer, unadulterated stupidity, is how you've come to see most people agreeing with global-warming theorists.

    There's certainly an agenda at work. The question is, who's agenda?

    The answer is, there is more than one agenda at work. The solution is, improve our methods, study the climate for about a hundred more years (at least), and see if we notice a trend, using consistent and proven methods of measurement (assuming that we can agree upon the correct things to measure). Then, if we see that we are having an adverse affect, modify our behavior.

    i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
    i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

    -- indubitable
    [ Parent ]

    Bogus data? (none / 0) (#57)
    by jwilliam on Wed May 23, 2001 at 06:49:21 AM EST

    Thanks for the info. I'm too sleepy to come to any definite conclusions on this myself right now, but for anyone interested, here's the original report Daly seems to be referring too. Note that the scientists actually do talk about all the problems with the surface temperature observations on pages 36-38. On pages 38-40 they talk about what they've tried to do to correct for it.

    [ Parent ]
    unbiased data (none / 0) (#68)
    by samth on Wed May 23, 2001 at 04:38:56 PM EST

    It turns out that the "Greening Earth Society" is paid for by the Western Fuels Association, a group of coal producers, who are currently suing a number of enviromental groups for criticizing them, and for claiming that putting CO2 in the atmosphere isn't wholly harmless, as the WFA would like you to believe. The degree to which that reduces the credibility of that report in my eyes is significant.

    Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
    [ Parent ]
    Cite (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by paulT on Tue May 22, 2001 at 12:30:41 PM EST

    . . . environmentalism has always been worse about this than most movements, partly because your average environmentalist is a teenaged enthusiast rather than an educated person engaged in reasonable debate over an issue.

    You seem to have a very scewed view of environmentalists that matches what is typically portrayed on the evening news.

    I am not a hard-core environmentalist, in fact I have spent a lot of time questioning the views and positions of environmentalists. As with any political movement, left, right, or otherwise, there is a wacky youth wing who still have a great deal to learn; but when you get into the core of environmental groups you tend to find middle-aged and older people, many with scientific backgrounds. The view of environmentalists given by the media just does not match my experience but if you have direct experience I'd like to hear it.



    --
    "Science is like sex: sometimes something useful comes out, but that is not the reason we are doing it" -- Richard Feynman
    [ Parent ]
    Dirst is dirt. (none / 0) (#33)
    by Tezcatlipoca on Tue May 22, 2001 at 05:40:48 AM EST

    For the sake of argument lets say you put 100 units of dirt in the environment.

    You are a big country. Still 100 units of dirt.

    You have a lot of people. Still 100 units of dirt.

    The fact remains that the US few people generate a lot of the CO2 and you are doing litte or nothing at all. I don't know why some people consider leftist ideology the right to breath clean air, drink clean water and damage as little as possible the environment. Actualy leftiest goverments had a track record of disregard of the environment, so the labeling could not be more inaccurate.

    You can try to adjust it nicely with statistics. The dirt is not going away for that.

    Might is right
    Freedom? Which freedom?
    [ Parent ]
    Yes, except... (3.00 / 2) (#37)
    by trhurler on Tue May 22, 2001 at 11:01:28 AM EST

    There's one minor detail you're leaving out. If the US puts out x units of dirt per y people per z amount of land mass, and land mass covered in trees absorbs p units per q square miles, and z is big enough, then f, the final amount of dirt at the end of the little game, is still very small, and it is spread over a very large area, meaning it has low concentration and therefore less effect and more time to dissipate and so on.

    Simplistic analyses based on half-assed understandings of what's going on sound all well and good, but there are assumptions in your model that just don't work, such as that once the "dirt" is created, that's that, and that the location and concentration of it don't matter, and so on. Similarly, the whole global warming panic is based on atmospheric models that don't account for clouds, don't account for the geologic record's statement of the way things changed in the absence of technology over time, don't account for natural disasters that undoubtedly impact the climate, don't account for known atmospheric "structures"(they presume the atmosphere is a uniform blanket of gases with uniformly decreasing density with altitude; things like the jet stream and so on just don't exist in their little world,) and so on. In other words, it is a fantasy.

    In fact, it is a fantasy from the same guy whose "global cooling" theory from the 60s had us headed into another ice age - because of carbon dioxide! Imagine that... one would almost think he was just some pandering loser trying to get grant money. In fact, that IS what I think.

    --
    And when you consider that Siggy is second only to trhurler as far as posters whose name at the top of a comment fill me with forboding, that's sayin
    [ Parent ]
    But that isn't the point (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by krlynch on Mon May 21, 2001 at 05:46:35 PM EST

    Nevertheless the point remains the same: the US is the most ineficent country environmentaly speaking.

    But, frankly, that WASN'T the point of the uproar. The point was that the awful Republicans who want to kill and stuff all the caribou, pump oil by the millions of barrels onto the pristine, never ever ever touched by man, tundra, kill babies and rape their children, were firing poor defenseless scientists who were only doing their job. THAT was the point of the story, to vilify the Republican administration. The rest may or may not be true (some of it is, some of it isn't), but you don't get to change the story in midstream, regardless of your leanings.

    [ Parent ]

    Oho (4.20 / 5) (#27)
    by Nimey on Mon May 21, 2001 at 10:46:40 PM EST

    How do we know that this new information isn't just disinformation? I personally wouldn't put it past the US government to cover its own butt like this.

    Some may call me paranoid, others cynical, still others bloody clever. Make up your own mind.
    --
    Never mind, it was just the dog cumming -- jandev
    You Sir, are an Ignorant Motherfucker. -- Crawford
    I am arguably too manic to do that. -- Crawford
    I already fuck my mother -- trane
    Nimey is right -- Blastard
    i am in complete agreement with Nimey -- i am a pretty big deal

    Quelle Suprise? (4.00 / 2) (#29)
    by V1ct0r Ch4rl3y on Mon May 21, 2001 at 11:27:55 PM EST

    A guy gets fired because he puts information up on a website that is available from many other sources. Come on folks... The map library at my University has that information, I asked them.

    Ah well, there are conspiracies out there... but I don't think Alaska oil drilling is one of them. I think what will be funny is listen in on the negotiations with the Inuit. They are a hell of lot better educated now then they where the last time the treaties for land use where negotiated.

    They can drill, but I don't know if they'll get the pipeline through Canada to support the increase in oil.

    __________________________
    'Me love you long time GI...'

    The Pipeline through Canada . . . (none / 0) (#39)
    by paulT on Tue May 22, 2001 at 11:56:58 AM EST

    . . .will not be a problem. The Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Alberta are all eager for any pipeline development. The NWT are looking at route already mapped out down the Mackenzie Valley that has the full support of the local natives and the Yukon has also secured support from natives living along the Alaska Highway. As for Alberta, our government is always game for more oil and gas development and never saw a pipeline they didn't want to sleep with.



    --
    "Science is like sex: sometimes something useful comes out, but that is not the reason we are doing it" -- Richard Feynman
    [ Parent ]
    hang on one cotton picking minute (4.33 / 3) (#35)
    by lower triangular on Tue May 22, 2001 at 06:55:22 AM EST

    Can I just ask one question which appears not to have occurred either to the Washington Post or to snopes.com?

    Thomas was removed from the building, his website taken down, etc *immediately* (within the space of an afternoon). Is this usual behaviour for a routine decision not to renew a contract? Or is it usual behaviour for bureaucrats trying to cover their asses by quickly ditching a hot potato?

    There's misinformation somewhere here, for sure ...

    Linux - the ultimate Windows Service Pack!
    Windows - the ultimate Linux Productivity Suite!

    spin indeed (4.33 / 3) (#40)
    by akb on Tue May 22, 2001 at 12:02:33 PM EST

    He was a contract worker with the USGS, not a federal employee, and his superiors had already decided not to renew his contract before the controversy over his posting of the caribou data.

    Thomas states this clearly.

    He was already in trouble at the USGS for other incidents (which led his manager to describe him as "a bit out of control"), such as his posting sensitive Department of Defense data on the USGS site.

    This mischaracterizes the Post story I think. First, Thomas isn't described as out of control, the situation is being described as out of control. Thomas was not being managed and he was working on what interested him, not unusual for a scientist. Second, Thomas didn't post the data on the web, he "sent out an email notifying the cartography community of his find".

    The decisions to cancel his contract and pull his caribou maps were not made by Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton or any other Bush appointees

    Please cite where this allegation is made, I have not seen Thomas or PEER or anyone else of merit say this. There were definitely political overtones to the firing, this comes out in the Post article.

    The caribou data he posted was not only obsolete (and therefore actually understated the prevalence of caribou breeding in the area) but was also well outside the scope of his job and the office he worked for.

    The new data had not been released. Also, he was not being managed and worked on what interested him. He and other scientists post information all the time, Thomas had posted thousands of maps to USGS websites that had not been peer reviewed, so this map was not unusual in that respect.

    Thomas said he would have taken the map down had he been asked, he was merely fired and not given a chance to respond. Had the map been on some other issue, he would not have been fired. Science flourishes when there is room for open dialougue, coupled with the peer review process. This event makes clear that political concerns and bureaucratic cruft enter science as practiced within government. Had Thomas been an eccentric map maker at a university being fired would be seen as an inconceivable muzzling of science.

    Clearly the issue has been spun by environmental groups, just as it is now being spun on this forum as environmental backlash. More important than the hows and whys of Ian Thomas' firing are the issues contained in the map Thomas made, the overlap of the caribou with proposed drilling. Its interesting to note that this issue got many times more attention than it would have had Thomas not been fired. This doesn't displease me, I think the issue needs more attention, but I hope the spin doesn't get in the way.

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    US Gov't Scientist Fired for Web Post -- Revisited | 108 comments (107 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
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