Death of a salesman, part 3 or 4

PXL_20220924_101743338 I must be getting old; or the GW wars are getting old; it seems to be more obituaries than births nowadays. The latest to shuffle off this mortal coil is Tim Ball, who may perhaps be most notable for the number of times he has bounced in and out of wiki. Like a rubber ball, geddit? Anyway, he is there now but not here, so to speak. And as we speak, the talk page is trying to find a [[WP:RS]] for his passing away, the Dork Side not being considered suitable1.

As a tribute to him, I can imagine no better memorial than the Youtube video that WUWT recommends, especially TB himself speaking. TB leads off with Global Cooling, but as you'd expect, doesn't talk about the science, instead he talks about a pop book: Lowell Ponte's The Cooling. Then there's a pile of paranoia about Maurice Strong. Then (15:20) he confuses the radiative effects of clouds with those of humidity. Then some paranoia about Soros. Then I got bored.


Patrick Michaels suffers hard delete

Mann vs Ball dismissal: the transcript

No, a cherry-picked analysis doesn’t demonstrate that we’re not in a climate crisis - ATTP. Though I still find all the stuff I read on TC's etc deeply unconvincing; e.g. Hurricane Ian is no anomaly. The climate crisis is making storms more powerful by Michael E Mann and Susan Joy Hassol.

* Latour has kicked it, too. As RS notes.

What Conservatives Have Forgotten about Subsidiarity and the Common Good.


Henderson on Gray's Arbitrary Lines.

The End of History and The Last Man and Liberalism and Its Discontents.

* Governments do not stabilize markets by Scott Sumner.

Ukraine’s Path to Victory - https://www.foreignaffairs.com/.


1. Finally, there's an obit in the Winnipeg Free Press.


Ye workes of ye Francis Bacone

DSC_2891 This summer, looking for something free to read on my Kindle, I stumbled upon Francis Bacon, and thought: why not? The answer turns out to be: because he is a windbag2. I think I was put on to Bacon by something at ACX, but can no longer recall quite what. With that stupendous introduction, now read on, bearing in mind that this review is not entirely fair, and is largely reconstructed from my impressions of a month ago dredged out of my notoriously poor memory. However I feel that in reviewing someone who is mainly telling us that his predecessors were wrong, it would be wrong of me to be over kind.

Wiki says that Bacon "has been called the father of empiricism" which isn't his fault. Stanford, normally a bit more sober, goes for "one of the leading figures in natural philosophy and in the field of scientific methodology in the period of transition from the Renaissance to the early modern era". Between those two you can find enough nice things said about him and his works, so I don't need to trouble to do that.

Of his works I consider three: Novum Organum (1620), The Advancement of Learning (1605), and The New Atlantis (posthumous, 1627).

Novum Organum, sive Indicia Vera de Interpretatione Naturae

This is the Big One. Curiously, I find that the LibertyFund has it, so that will do (I read Gutenberg's version on my Kindle). Let's give you some taste of his style:

They who have presumed to dogmatize on nature, as on some well investigated subject, either from self-conceit or arrogance, and in the professorial style, have inflicted the greatest injury on philosophy and learning. For they have tended to stifle and interrupt inquiry exactly in proportion as they have prevailed in bringing others to their opinion: and their own activity has not counterbalanced the mischief they have occasioned by corrupting and destroying that of others. They again who have entered upon a contrary course, and asserted that nothing whatever can be known, whether they have fallen into this opinion from their hatred of the ancient sophists, or from the hesitation of their minds, or from an exuberance of learning, have certainly adduced reasons for it which are by no means contemptible. They have not, however, derived their opinion from true sources, and, hurried on by their zeal and some affectation, have certainly exceeded due moderation. 

It is interesting that Newton's Principia was published a mere 67 years later but is utterly revolutionarily different: eschewing entirely the windbaggery in favour of actual content5.

Bacon gets credit for realising that a lot of the old stuff is wrong: Plato, Aristotle (note that the name NO is a riff on A's Organon), whatever; and that new thought is needed. I shouldn't minimise how hard this is to do, because just waking up is difficult enough. In the beginning he is keen to stress how peaceable he is with "We make no attempt to disturb the system of philosophy that now prevails"; but I think that is just fluff; not long after he says "we regard all the systems of philosophy hitherto received or imagined, as so many plays brought out and performed, creating fictious and theatrical worlds".

B is keen on Induction not Syllogism. By which I think he means deducing general principles from lots of observations; rather than a stepwise logically-impeccable deduction of a chain of truths from... something; or possibly; rather than just Making Shit Up1. I had no great patience with this, so you may prefer wiki's Baconian Method article. His method tends towards the "gather large numbers of observations and facts and from them make theories" kind of thought, which doesn't really work, as it neglects the role of theory in deciding what things you want to observe; though to be fair he does give some role to iteration between the two.

PXL_20230412_212035223 As far as I can tell he believes in "continuous matter" not atoms (This method will not bring us to atoms, which takes for granted the vacuum, and immutability of matter (neither of which hypotheses is correct); and thus he can try things like The first regards the body as an aggregate or combination of simple natures. Thus, in gold are united the following circumstances: it is yellow, heavy, of a certain weight, malleable and ductile to a certain extent; it is not volatile, loses part of its substance by fire, melts in a particular manner, is separated and dissolved by particular methods, and so of the other natures observable in gold. An axiom, therefore, of this kind deduces the subject from the forms of simple natures; for he who has acquired the forms and methods of superinducing yellowness, weight, ductility, stability, deliquescence, solution, and the like, and their degrees and modes, will consider and contrive how to unite them in any body, so as to transform it into gold. Which is charming: you can move things towards being gold by separately pushing them on axes of yellowness, density, malleability and so on, This is wrong, of course, but that's not the point: the point is that he is doing what he charges the antients with: Making Shit Up3. I don't think he even attempts to postulate the idea of an experiment which might distinguish the two views.

[2023/04 update: added pic, from Trinity chapel, where he is one of the worthies seated at Newton's feet. Doubtless he is intended to be pondering deeply, but he looks like a portly old gentleman resting his eyes for the afternoon after too much ale at lunchtime.]

[2024/01 update: see-also Extension and divisibility section from Kant's Dialectic.]

Random: he hasn't realised that biological processes are Really Complicated, and so if you want to investigate, say, heat, you really ought to start by separating organic from inorganic and looking at the latter.

He is fond of lists. A significant part of the book is "Prerogative Instances"; for example We will treat of the instances of divorce as the fifteenth of our prerogative instances. They indicate the separation of natures of the most common occurrence. They differ, however, from those subjoined to the accompanying instances; for the instances of divorce point out the separation of a particular nature from some concrete substance with which it is usually found in conjunction, while the hostile instances point out the total separation of one nature from another. They differ, also, from the instances of the cross, because they decide nothing, but only inform us that the one nature is capable of being separated from the other. They are of use in exposing false forms, and dissipating hasty theories derived from obvious facts; so that they add ballast and weight, as it were, to the understanding. For instance, let the acquired natures be those four which Telesius terms associates, and of the same family, namely, heat, light, rarity, and mobility, or promptitude to motion; yet many instances of divorce can be discovered between them. Air is rare and easily moved, but neither hot nor light; the moon is light but not hot; boiling water is warm but not light; the motion of the needle in the compass is swift and active, and yet its substance is cold, dense, and opaque; and there are many similar examples. I found all that unenlightening.

He is also fond over vague over-arching "aristocratic" or "dilettante" science, and doesn't seem to have much patience for the details4, where progress is to be found: Men generally make their experiments carelessly, and as it were in sport, making some little variation in a known experiment, and then if they fail they become disgusted and give up the attempt; nay, if they set to work more seriously, steadily, and assiduously, yet they waste all their time on probing some solitary matter, as Gilbert on the magnet.

That's about it I think. Did I miss anything?

Of the Proficience and Advancement of Learning, Divine and Human

Largely a pre-tread of NO, from my recollection, and so not worth reading independently unless you really want all the latin tags, which I think are fewer in NO. Gutenberg text here.

The New Atlantis

An unfinished Utopia knock-off, which shows us a society which has used his ideas, and whose main content is a loong speech by a worthy of the "Salomon's House" telling us about all the kewl kit they have over there. Ironically but inevitably this exposes Bacon's total lack of any actual rather than meta ideas, since everything they have is just like what England had at the time, only bigger; or better; or hotter; or colder.


1. I supply the example "The circle is a perfect shape; the heavens are perfect; thus planets move in circles" as an example of Making Shit Up.

2. He is also massively over-rated by Ye Populare Mediae, but is hardly unique in that.

3. And also for being pretty vague about it all; try searching the Standford article for "atom".

4. Another instance: the tides: let the required nature be the flow and ebb of the sea, which is repeated twice a day, at intervals of six hours between each advance and retreat, with some little difference, agreeing with the motion of the moon. But he makes no attempt to establish observations of the times of the tides, and compare these to lunar position.

5. Or I suppose Galileo's Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems of 1632.



The city without zoning / Martha's Migrants

* Renaissance Science – LI: ThonyC / The Renaissance Mathematicus on Bacon

Magnetic Variations – VI De Magnete - ThonyC quoting William Harvey, in his Brief Lives, John Aubrey tells us “had been physitian to the Lord Chancellour Bacon, whom he esteemed much for his witt and style, but would not allow him to be a great Philosopher. Said he to me, ‘He writes Philosophy like a Lord Chancellour,’ speaking in derision, ‘I have cured him.’” (Gutenberg)


Bad beekeeping, autumn 2022

Not so much to report this time. Summary: before:


And after:


In more detail... the one on the left is mine, and healthy; the one on the right is my friend's, and healthy; the one in the middle is mine, and dead. So I took the two supers of empty frames and gave them to the live hive, which was looking quite full and probably glad of the space.

It has been quite a long time since I've had a proper chance to look into the brood box in the middle. It was not a pretty sight, shall we say. Here's the floor, which should be clear, and was instead littered with the junk of many years, mostly old cells that I've hastily stripped off and let fall; but also the odd snail.


The brood comb isn't in great shape either, but the cobwebs are spider, not waxmoth, so may be saveable. They are just a touch dark though, because I'm very bad at replacing comb. Hopefully I'll get round to a refurbishment over the winter.


I didn't even try to take any honey off, since I have enough for my needs now and it can wait until spring.


* ATTP goes up


Missus Quin her dead

83089283_2925698737451727_9214368273573871616_o Compare and contrast two Twits:

Embassy of Ukraine to the UK:

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will forever remain in our hearts as pattern of impeccable public service and devotion to duty. We bow our heads in sorrow together with the subjects of the British Crown around the world.

Barack Obama:

Like so many of you, Michelle and I are grateful to have witnessed Her Majesty’s dedicated leadership, and we are awed by her legacy of tireless, dignified public service. Our thoughts are with her family and the people of the United Kingdom at this difficult time.

The first is simple, dignified, moving. The second is focussed on the audience of the Twit, then on the Obamas, and only thirdly on her Maj. Despite his brutal barrage of complete sentences, this seems all too typical.

As to what I think: when young I was a good republican, of course; now it hardly seems to matter in comparison to other matters; having someone vaguely sane as a non-political figurehead seems like a good idea.


* Heart of Darkness


Vaclav Smil and Steve Koonin

PXL_20220826_172834416 In a recent interview in New York Times Magazine, energy expert and polymath Vaclav Smil found himself quoting Stoat... that's not quite strictly true; what he said was "I cannot tell you that we don’t have a problem because we do have a problem. But I cannot tell you it’s the end of the world by next Monday because it is not the end of the world by next Monday. What’s the point of you pressing me to belong to one of these groups?". Which is essentially my If it isn’t catastrophic we’ve got nothing to worry about, have we? from 2014: Stoat, always leading from the front!

I wouldn't trouble you with this, except it begins RP Jr's review of Unsettled by Steve Koonin (substack; arch). RP's view is that For well over a decade, the American debate over climate change has largely been a battle between two extremes: those who view climate change apocalyptically, and those castigated as deniers of climate science... Predictably, the categories map neatly onto the extremes of left-versus right politics; and that Koonin had a chance to push back on this "framing"; and (as a what we could generously regard as a side effect) RP gives us his framing. I agree that the "debate" is often largely unproductive; I'm not at all convinced that SK ever had a chance to produce a productive book because of his inbuilt biases and history. And while RP is correct to call out the quality of debate, this is cheap; and I couldn't really recommend his analysis.

This is reminiscent of Remarks by President Biden on the Continued Battle for the Soul of the Nation, which compares so unfavourably to The Gettysburg Powerpoint Presentation. The man, and all his advisers, are so partisan down to their boots that they're incapable of even seeing it.

I apply the usual "Stoat Test" to Koonin: he is a by-blow in The East is Red and All of this will soon be moot, anyway but the author of a dodgy and pointless amicus brief in the Alsup case.


Nature: Manuscripts that are ideologically impure and “harmful” will be rejected

O’Sullivan’s Law Has A Different Cause

Pinochet, less shit than modern progressives - Timmy

The importance of science communication - ATTP

Gorbachev failed. That's why he was showered with honors

Simple models predict behavior at least as well as behavioral scientists

Tribalism and Electoral Politics - "Clinton put many potential voters, the Trump supporters, in the “them” category. Trump put foreigners who don’t vote, in the “them” category"

* Inflation: Why Didn’t We Think of That Before? by Pierre Lemieux

* The Caplan-Singer Debate: My Opening Statement on “Do the Rich Pay Their Fair Share?”

Global economic inequality: what matters most for your living conditions is not who you are, but where you are


Sawyer, 1972, impartially consider'd

PXL_20220827_132643563 Today marks the 50th anniversary of a remarkable research paper on global warming, says CarbonBriefMan-made Carbon Dioxide and the “Greenhouse” Effect by J Sawyer. I have a PDF of it available here, for reasons I can't recall; and Archer has one here; mine appears to be of slightly higher quality. 

It is said that the article makes one of the first predictions of future global warming – that temperatures would rise 0.6C by the end of the 20th century. Which is a bit odd, because the "prediction" just takes the 2.4 CS value of Manabe and Wetherald and scales it to a 25% CO2 rise by 2000. The article got a 35th birthday too (in 2007, oddly enough) but everyone has forgotten that. And ScepticalScience noted it in 2014.

Is this of any importance? No. S, aka M+W, happened to get about the right answer, but this provides little or no confirmation of GW theory; the models were too simple. If they had got the wrong answer, no one would care, so you're not allowed to make much of the right answer; you can't retrospectively make it into a test. Gavin somewhat disagrees with me, but in matters of climate models I know who I'd trust more. I said this about Hansen 1981 somewhere too, but can't find that right now.