The partisan divide largely stems from conservatives’ perception...

PXL_20230119_192020009 Via RS, some considerations of language from UnSciAm. I'm doubtful that twatting around with language is going to help at all; substance is more important. But really the article is doomed from quite early on, where Our Author tells us that "The partisan divide largely stems from conservatives’ perception that climate change solutions will involve big government controlling people’s choices and imposing sacrifices". Asserting that the divide comes largely from one side is just foolish (you could if you're wildly biased assert that all the problems come from one side; that at least wouldn't be internally contradictory); asserting that the problem is only perception is more foolishness. In fact that latter problem is just sloppy writing (in an article about language: arf arf), because OA segues into Repubs hostility being "largely attributable to a conflict between ideological values and often discussed solutions", which is to say to substance, not perception. Continuing,

The language we use for climate solutions can exacerbate the cultural divide. Terms such as “regulate,” “restrict,” “cut,” “control” and “tax” are unpopular, especially among conservatives. Perhaps people would be more likely to support solutions described with words such as “innovation,” “entrepreneurship,” “ingenuity,” “market-based” and “competing in the global clean energy race.”

But it doesn't seem to ever occur to OA that if you want the Repubs support, rather than just shuffling words to describe things as "market-based", if would be a great idea to actually propose ideas that genuinely are market based. Like a carbon tax.


What Do Donors Want? Heterogeneity by Party and Policy Domain

The left has no theory of the behavior of the government?

The moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the Republican Party?

An epistemic crisis

Tell Me Why I Shouldn't Have Talked to Tucker - by Bryan Caplan

* Timmy on the NHS: So, Here’s The Actual Problem

* Animal and Plant Labor, part 1 - RP

* Timmy on the 1%

Implicit and Structural Witchery


Rahmstorf joins the Dork Side

PXL_20230105_142338298 There's yet another shot fired in the #exxonknew culture wars, with Assessing ExxonMobil’s global warming projections by the usual suspects of Supran and Oreskes, but - regrettably - adding new boy Rahmstorf endorsing this idiocy1. The material appears dull - these are the same kind of early dox we already know about - with the spin that they're assessing the projections. So, see Fueling the Climate Crisis: Exposing Big Oil’s Disinformation Campaign to Prevent Climate Action? and friends for context.

To make sure you're in the mood, and to try their best to avoid you reading this stuff neutrally, the piece is sub-titled "Insider knowledge"; yes, that's right, those evil fossil fuel companies were secretly publishing their results in the scientific literature, which no-one reads. Cunning or what.

Otherwise, the contention is "in private and academic circles since the late 1970s and early 1980s, ExxonMobil predicted global warming correctly and skillfully" (my bold). Per Who knew what when?, I don't find that at all persuasive: by IPCC 1990, the scientific consensus was that models aren't good enough to produce reliable predictions, so there's no way the even crummier models of a decade earlier - and this was a time of rapid progress - could be know to be good enough to be useful, at the time.

There's also the mysterious 'Today, dozens of cities, counties, and states are suing oil and gas companies for their “longstanding internal scientific knowledge of the causes and consequences of climate change and public deception campaigns.”' That's a quote, a rather leading quote: but who is it a quote from? They carelessly don't say, but it appears to be from Massachusetts v Exxon. Suing someone for knowing things is totally weird, or rather it would be, but they've mangled the quote; the original makes sense. Anyway, presenting something like that, unsourced, when it is deliberately leading lawyer-shite in an article in Science... tells you how far Science has slipped. Weirdly, they find no space to mention Alsup, once the Great White Hope, now I presume consigned to the memory hole for having produced the Wrong Answer.


Nierenberg, concluded: Oreskes is wrong

* #exxonlied (2016)

Yet more Exxon drivel (2016)

Not, In Fact, So - Timmy, on another aspect, investment

* The Beeb does at least ask Exxon, who correctly say this is a re-tread: "This issue has come up several times in recent years and, in each case, our answer is the same: those who talk about how "Exxon Knew" are wrong in their conclusions," the company told BBC News. Meanwhile, Oreskes doubles down on the privileged information drivel.

* On being ripped off

The Need for Heroes and Heroism

The 7 Habits of Freedom Loving Academics (reminder: yes, Jordan Peterson is a tosser)

Good-Faith Reading vs. Adversarial Reading

* Bryan Caplan: AI Bet! FWIW, I bet on the AI

Early oil industry knowledge of CO2 and global warming?


1. On Twatter, SR goes as far as "Study shows ExxonMobil hiding knowledge of the threat of climate change..." which I think is complete drivel (arch). In case you're not thinking - see the comments for BL's reaction - it isn't even possible for Exxon to hide public knowledge.


Let's Audit Alex Epstein

Or so proposes Bryan Caplan1. Happily, Waterstones has a copy of Fossil Future, and I browsed far enough to get past the vague wurble into real things that were potentially erroneous, and stopped. Here are two, since that's what BC wanted.

Hansen's predictions

hansen-so-they-say Here we see a graph of "Hansen's predictions" versus reality. Pretty shitty, huh? Case closed. Or... is it?

Those who swim in these things will recall Gavin's nice RealClimate posts discussing Hansen's predictions, and they look somewhat different. I've inlined it too, to save you the terrible effort of clicking on a link.

They aren't on the same time axis (I'm not sure why AE wants to go back to 1880) but they both cover the relevant period, 1960 onwards.

To understand which of the models runs (scenario A, B or C) you should compare to the obs is somewhat complex; Gavin does a good job of going through it; the answer is not-A, but (simplifying) somewhere between B and C. Naturally, he doesn't just pull this out of thin air, he goes through the assumptions and the numbers.

So how to reconcile that with what AE produces? Clearly, AE hasn't used Hansen's actual scenarios, because he shows two piece-wise linears. Indeed, he isn't using Hansen '88, he's using a New York Times story from 1986. Which is based (possibly loosely) on Hansen's testimony from 1986. Which after some effort I can find. It features (see the written testimony p 78) two scenarios, A and B, which I didn't examine in detail so I don't know if they're the same as 1988's version; but A is as in 1988 higher forcing (and from the testimony, and from figure 8 which appears to show B only extending to 1990, I think A was taken more seriously. I should also throw in the caveats that Hansen did, including that CS is uncertain - in his results - by a factor of at least 2). Looking at figure 8 (ha ha, you'll have to go open it yourselves) I'd say the delta-T from 1986 to 2010 in scenario A is about 0.8 oC, so I don't know where the NYT, and thus AE, have got their stonking 5 oF (note: oF) from.

Conclusion: using a newspaper report for a scientists work, when their testimony is available, is slovenly; we all know - or we all should know - that the media are not to be relied on for accurate reporting. Further, using exclusively the 1986 testimony rather than the much better know and analysed 1988 testimony is at best a puzzling choice, and should be justified, which AE fails to do.

Can you trust the SPM?

AE avers
One way to catch major distortions of synthesized research by disseming toes is to review, even briefly, the synthesis that they are claiming to report on

If you do this with the actual IPCC synthesis reports, you will likely be shocked by how badly they are distorted by mainstream dissemination including the IPCC's own disseminator document, the Summary for Policy makers.

The distortions involved in these summaries have been repeatedly documented by researchers who have resigned from IPCC dissemination bodies such as leading climate economist Richard Tol. Tol resigned from ammary group, protesting that "The IPCC shifted from... 'Not without risk but manageable, to 'We're all gonna die" - "from what I think is a relatively accurate assessment of recent developments in literature to...the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse."
While I am happy to agree that those discoursing on the IPCC reports frequently distort their content, I'm unaware of any use of "we're all gonna die" anywhere in any of the SPMs, whatever Tol may say (if you want to read him talking about Horsemen, see here). And AE doesn't actually provide any example of anything the SPMs distort; I'm doubtful that they do. Also, Tol resigned from WG2, not from the Synthesis report (IPCC produces WG1, 2 and 3 reports; and a Synthesis report; and Technical Summaries (not for the Syn) and Summaries for Policymakers (SPM) of them all.

This is important for AE, because he knows you aren't going to read the full IPCC reports, let alone the papers behind them. You (or at least the Important Busy Folk) are going to read the SPM. AE doesn't want to look like a rabid denialist, so he settles for trying to discredit the summaries.

Conclusion: if AE thinks any of the SPMs have shockingly distorted the reports they summarise, he really needs to spend some time documenting it; I doubt that it is true.


1. Regular readers will be forgiven for wondering "why on Earth would anyone bother to do that"? But I may wish to use this post before a shall-we-say "neutral" audience, so I omit the usual flings2. And no Epstein jokes.

2. You might even want to read through that link, since it is relevant to the general problem of expertise.


Cain's Jawbone

* "Billion Dollar Disasters" are a National Embarrassment: You won't find a more obvious example of bad science from the U.S. government - RP Jr via RS.

* From BC, Dan Klein: In 1893, in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the classical liberal Simon Newcomb explained that students need to be taught liberal precepts, to see the limits of such precepts, and yet see that such limits must not lead us to throw the baby out with the bathwater: It is not claimed that such propositions [about the beneficialness of liberalization] should be taught dogmatically, as if they were theorems of geometry.  Not only should their limitations be pointed out, when necessary, but the student should be encouraged to find or even to imagine conditions under which the maxims would fail. In doing this, the vice he should be taught to avoid is that of concluding that because he can imagine a state of things under which a maxim would fail, therefore it is worthless.

* Alex Epstein’s *Fossil Future* by  Tyler Cowen

Book Review: Fossil Future by Roger Pielke


Rawls on Liberty

1623945332945-e78214c8-45eb-4a5e-ae14-ae34dfc1a9cb_ I wasn't too keen on Rawls, but on New Year's Eve I happened to sit by a copy of AToJ so opened it in the middle, to Liberty, and read (around p 203, if you care):

Thus persons are at liberty to do something when they are free from certain constraints either to do it or not to do it and when their doing it or not doing it is protected from interference by other persons. If, for example, we consider liberty of conscience as defined by law, then individuals have this liberty when they are free to pursue their moral, philosophical, or religious interests without legal restrictions requiring them to engage or not to engage in any particular form of religious or other practice, and when other men have a legal duty not to interfere. A rather intricate complex of rights and duties characterizes any particular liberty. Not only must it be permissible for individuals to do or not to do something, but government and other persons must have a legal duty not to obstruct.

This is a bit iffy, although only a bit. If we consider, with Rawls, liberty of conscience - and taking the model of the US constitution - then there are indeed no legal restrictions, but the "other persons... legal duty not to interfere" is diffuse: it consists merely in not breaking the general laws; there are or should be no specific laws prohibiting individual's interference in another's freedom of religion. It's also just not very well written; "be permissible for" is subtly different from, and worse than, "the state is forbidden to interfere with". So I think he's failed to learn from his own constitution, which is regrettable.

Our Author continues:

Several brief comments. First of all, it is important to recognize that the basic liberties must be assessed as a whole, as one system. That is, the worth of one liberty normally depends upon the specification of the other liberties, and this must be taken into account in framing a constitution and in legislation generally. While it is by and large true that a greater liberty is preferable, this holds primarily for the system of liberty as a whole, and not for each particular liberty. Clearly when the liberties are left unrestricted they collide with one another. To illustrate by an obvious example, certain rules of order are necessary for intelligent and profitable discussion. Without the acceptance of reasonable procedures of inquiry and debate, freedom of speech loses its value. It is essential in this case to distinguish between rules of order and rules restricting the content of speech. While rules of order limit our freedom, since we cannot speak whenever we please, they are required to gain the benefits of this liberty. Thus the delegates to a constitutional convention, or the members of the legislature, must decide how the various liberties are to be specified so as to yield the best total system of equal liberty. They have to balance one liberty against another. The best arrangement of the several liberties depends upon the totality of limitations to which they are subject, upon how they hang together in the whole scheme by which they are defined.

And this too seems iffy. The general laws do prohibit govt interference in freedom of speech, and don't impose any "rules restricting the content of speech" except for the most extreme cases. His analogy of a constitutional convention fails, since those are not laws but self-imposed rules. Common society also imposes conventions of discussion too, not laws. And I think that Our Author is not innocent here: his aim is entanglement, the "assessed as a whole, as one system" which I think is to be avoided if possible, because his intent looks to be horse-trading amongst different liberties.

A final point. The inability to take advantage of one's rights and opportunities as a result of poverty and ignorance, and a lack of means generally, is sometimes counted among the constraints definitive of liberty. I shall not, however, say this, but rather I shall think of these things as affecting the worth of liberty, the value to individuals of the rights that the first principle defines. With this understanding, and assuming that the total system of liberty is drawn up in the manner just explained, we may note that the two-part basic structure allows a reconciliation of liberty and equality. Thus liberty and the worth of liberty are distinguished as follows: liberty is represented by the complete system of the liberties of equal citizenship, while the worth of liberty to persons and groups is proportional to their capacity to advance their ends within the framework the system defines. Freedom as equal liberty is the same for all; the question of compensating for a lesser than equal liberty does not arise. But the worth of liberty is not the same for everyone. Some have greater authority and wealth, and therefore greater means to achieve their aims. The lesser worth of liberty is, however, compensated for, since the capacity of the less fortunate members of society to achieve their aims would be even less were they not to accept the existing inequalities whenever the difference principle is satisfied. But compensating for the lesser worth of freedom is not to be confused with making good an unequal liberty. Taking the two principles together, the basic structure is to be arranged to maximize the worth to the least advantaged of the complete scheme of equal liberty shared by all. This defines the end of social justice.

As before, I think his "to maximize the worth to the least advanaged" is merely his own personal preference, rather than the logically-deduced postulate that he thinks it is. That this defines "social justice" as far as he is concerned is fine by me, because I'm with Hayek on social justice.

And so I'm no keener than I was before.


Revive Construction, Not the Rust Belt

Book review: Why Materialism is Baloney - Bernardo Kastrup

Stoat of the Year

PXL_20220924_101743338 It's time for the annual pick-of-the-year, as I record my slow slide into obsolescence.

Jan: Two views of democracy (20).

Feb: Meeting the objectives of climate resilient development requires society and ecosystems to move over (transition) to a more resilient state? (11).

Mar: The flower of poor thinking is to lack influence (18).

Apr: tie: Coronavirus days: tag, I'm it and Lucia Liljegren is not notable (9).

May: Why does the Evil Empire want to be paid in roubles? (11).

Jun: Church and State (49).

Jul: WV v EPA (12).

Aug: ZOMG catastrophe, part n (46).

Sep: Vaclav Smil and Steve Koonin (13).

Oct: No comments! But only two posts...

Nov: Pulling the wings off mosquitoes (7).

Dec: Happy Christmas (10).

Other: my exercise stats: Rowing 81 times, 84 h, 817 km; Indoor Rowing 51 times, 32 h, 384.8 km; Walking The Cat (coxing) 46 times, 53 h; Running 34 times, 25 h, 267.5 km. Not quite as much running as I might like; not even once a week on average.


* 2022: A year in review from ATTP

Happy New Stoat (2021)

BATTER my heart, three person’d God (2020)