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Monday  December 7, 2009

Letter from England

Last Sunday, Diane and I gave a Thanksgiving Dinner for American and Canadian students at the university. One student was obviously doing a careful survey of our fantasy collection, so I gave her a complete set of Ciardi's Dante. She went off walking on clouds.

 On Saturday, we participated in "The Wave" march in London <http://tinyurl.com/ydmj4hm> <http://tinyurl.com/ybu9348> <http://tinyurl.com/ykrt4rm>. I was there mostly for the ecumenical Christian service at Westminster Central Hall led by the Archbishops of Canterbury (CoE) and Westminster (Catholic), but I also went on the march. It drew contingents from a smorgasbord of organisations from left to right (including some anarchists, who were watched carefully). The colour people had been asked to wear was blue, which is associated with the Tories and really bothered the socialists and leftists. During the trip home afterwards, I was interviewed by a local radio station, which gave me a chance to talk about the policy issues and options--how energy was wealth, so a policy of reducing individual energy usage was DoA, particularly in the second and third world; why nuclear energy would be a necessary part of any viable solution; the value of spending money on climate modelling and research; and the need to manage atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration to avoid both ice age and overheated conditions. I was asked about my opinion of Brown's open support to the march, and I responded with 'Where's the money?'

 Book of the month: Turnaround: Leading Stressed Colleges and Universities to Excellence (Hardcover) by James Martin (Author), James E. Samels (Author). This book explores the process of salvaging fragile universities, but also provides ideas relevant to communities and churches under stress.

 Gordon Brown declares class warfare <http://tinyurl.com/yzm7zo8> <http://tinyurl.com/ykgg5lj> <http://tinyurl.com/yb6fyma> <http://tinyurl.com/yclsoue>. My suspicion is that many in the working class would *prefer* to become members of the middle and upper classes to getting rid of those classes.

 The Labour Government proposes national service beginning at age seven <http://tinyurl.com/ylz2pal> <http://tinyurl.com/yz6x8zf>.

 Britain faces decades of debt <http://tinyurl.com/ylokl47>.


"If they do that with marks and grades, should they be trusted with experimental data?"

Harry Erwin, PhD


: About the scandal of "ClimateGate" -

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

"If Sarsi wants me to believe with Suidas that the Babylonians cooked their eggs by whirling them in slings, I shall do so; but I must say that the cause of this effect was very different from what he suggests. To discover the true cause I reason as follows: "if we do not achieve an effect which others formerly achieved, then it must be that in our operations we lack something that produced their success. And if there is just one single thing we lack, then that alone can be the true cause. Now we do not lack eggs, nor slings, nor sturdy fellows to whirl them; yet our eggs do not cook, but merely cool down faster if they happen to be hot. And since nothing is lacking to us except being Babylonians, then being Babylonians is the cause of the hardening of eggs, and not friction of the air." And this is what I wished to discover."



A. Romain


More about global warming and carbon sinks

Dear Jerry,

Aren't there species of bamboo that grow more than 4 feet every day? If I were even worried about the carbon dioxide issue, one of the first things I would look into is creating bamboo farms of various types and using them to a) Sequester CO2 b) Find various types that have useful and multiple purposes, i.e. construction material, food, fuel supply instead of corn, etc., medicinal... c) Reforestation of formerly arable land by working in from the edges.

Since the Sahara, for example, was a grassland within historical times and became a desert due to overgrazing, it has always seemed to me that introduction of bamboo around the edges, in areas where water is available, either fresh or salt for desalinization, could start a process of reforestation that would accelerate as weather patterns changed and brought rainfall back to the region. Other areas that would be good candidates would be many parts of Australia.

Mind you, I am actually thinking more of the economic benefits rather than reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. If the Earth Homeostasis deniers are even correct, they are not actually claiming to be able to "demonstrate" when the process would stop. That is to say, if all CO2 emissions were to stop right now, when and how do they claim the temperature rise would stop?

Leslie Rubinstein

I am not entirely easy about running an uncontrolled experiment on raising CO2 levels, and finding ways to use up some of that would seem to be a no-brainer. This has nothing to do with warming, it's merely common sense. As to transforming the northern edges of the Sahara, there used to be a lot of attention to that. In historical time some of those desert areas were the breadbasket of the Roman Empire, until nomads brought in herds of goats to denude the green areas. That can be undone -- how fast I do not know. But global warming took attention away from altering desertifications.


Satellite photos of Arctic ice coverage 

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

I keep hearing from the "monotone media" that the ice caps are melting.

The antidote is the "The Cryosphere Today" web page put up by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

There's a handy page to do a side-by-side comparison of the Arctic ice cover for just about any two dates you care about. (Data for a lot of days in 2009 is missing, but a most of it seems to be there.)

Here's December 1 2007 vs. December 1 2009.


It looks like more ice to me. There's less in Hudson Bay and a bit less between Svalbard and Novaya Zemlya, but more everywhere else: the Bering Strait has dramatically more ice, and there's more on the eastern side of Novaya Zemlya that may make up for less on the west.

This is so easy to check that the only conclusion that I can come to is that the monotone media is lying to us. Again.

-- Mike Van Pelt

We know there had to be less ice at the North Pole in Viking times.


The limits of pluralism, and the necessity of an identity

An interesting, thoughtful article about Islamism and the direction of Islamic societies. Worth a read




Obama's Jobs Summit Remarks


Today you wrote:

From the Obama Jobs Summit:

Despite the progress we've made, many businesses are still skittish about hiring. Some are still digging themselves out of the losses they incurred over the past year. Many have figured out how to squeeze more productivity out of fewer workers. And that cost-cutting has become embedded in their operations and in their culture. That may result in good profits, but it's not translating into hiring and so that's the question that we have to ask ourselves today: How do we get businesses to start hiring again?

President Obama

I am not sure what progress has been made...

For a clear explanation, see this from Reason Magazine:



Obama's Stimulus Numbers

Regards, George


Subject: On Bureaucracy


From http://www.kitco.com/ind/Galland/dec032009.html 

This could supplement the Iron Law.

Recognize the bureaucracy for what it is. These are not “public servants” but rather an entrenched interest group that is actively engaged in a systematic effort to look after itself, with no regard for the damage it’s doing to your family finances and to the country.

Now, there are two schools of thought as to how you deal with the bureaucrats. My dear friend and partner, Doug Casey, would tell you to take every opportunity to let the bureaucrats know you hold them in low esteem. For example, by asking airport security personnel how old they were before they realized they wanted to make a career out of pawing through people’s underwear.

The second approach is to accept that the bureaucrats, backed by the voting masses, hold most of the cards at this point. Poking at them with a stick risks unnecessary aggravation and worse. So, keeping a low profile and going about your business is certainly a rational choice.

-- PDAB,


"Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened." —Winston Churchill

“The opinion of ten thousand men is of no value if none of them know anything about the subject.” —Marcus Aurelius


Ike was right.


--- Roland Dobbins


Subj: Richard Feynman on Cargo Cult Science

In the previously-cited quotation, Feynman refers to Cargo Cult Science but does not define it.

Here's his essay, adapted from his 1974 CalTech commencement address:


Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com


Echoes of "Fallen Angels"

Dear Jerry,

There were a few stories in the news over the past couple of days with climate change as the topic. One of them was a commentary by Gary Sutton in Forbes magazine: [ http://www.forbes.com/2009/
12/03/climate-science-gore-intelligent-technology-sutton.html  ]. Sutton mentioned something I'd never heard of before:

"In 2002 I stood in a room of the Smithsonian. One entire wall charted the cooling of our globe over the last 60 million years. This was no straight line. The curve had two steep dips followed by leveling. There were no significant warming periods. Smithsonian scientists inscribed it across some 20 feet of plaster, with timelines.

"Last year, I went back. That fresco is painted over. The same curve hides behind smoked glass, shrunk to three feet but showing the same cooling trend. Hey, why should the Smithsonian put its tax-free status at risk? If the politicians decide to whip up public fear in a different direction, get with it, oh ye subsidized servants. Downplay that embarrassing old chart and maybe nobody will notice."

He also mentions the global cooling speculation in the 70s, the Little Ice Age, and a green Greenland in Leif Ericcson's time. But what made me think of "Fallen Angels" most strongly was this:

"To be fair, those reports [of freakish snow in Dallas and frosts in California] are short-term swings. But the longer term changes are no more compelling, unless you include the ice ages, and then, perhaps, the panic attempts of the 1970s were right. Is it possible that if we put more CO2 in the air, we'd forestall the next ice age?"


Steve Erbach, Neenah, WI (http://www.TheTownCrank.com)

“The ferocious determination to impose hair-shirt policies on the public – taxes on holiday flights, or covering our beautiful countryside with wind turbines that look like props from War of the Worlds – is bound to cause a reaction in any democratic country.” -- David Davis, Tory MP

Fallen Angels was a good story.


Freedom of speech....

Feinstein, Durbin Seek To Limit Citizen Journalism http://www.riehlworldview.com/

In the wake of the citizen journalism that has outed the ACORN, SEIU, et al "misbehavior" some Democrats are moving to strike any "journalism" protections for citizen journalists who do not work for the MSM er LSM, Lame Stream Media.

This is not a good thing. (But, then, neither is Waxman talking about awarding dinosaur media special tax benefits, vastly eroding the split between the government estates and the press estate.)



The 'Religion of Peace' and that pesky First Amendment

Hello, Jerry,

Well, if you can't, or in this case, are not allowed, to DEFINE the problem the problem will undoubtedly prove to be 'intractable'.

The fallout from adopting 'Category Error' as a national policy continues:


The student apparently did not approve of the professor exercising his 'First Amendment' rights in conducting his anthropology class. Since the professor was an expert on 'Comparative Religion', he probably had the unfortunate temerity to actually compare some of them in class.

Bob Ludwick




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Tuesday,  December 8, 2009

: Neat comment

From MacInTouch <http://www.macintouch.com/
readerreports/backup/index.html#d08dec2009>  2Dec Robert Camner:

"When I was a kid, my dentist had a sign in his office that read "You don't need to floss all your teeth, just the ones you want to keep!" Just substitute "backup all of your data" and you've got the aphorism for the early 21st century."

This is a "cute" way to say what you've said many times...;-)

Steven @ The BAF


California gives green light to space solar power



* 03:12 08 December 2009 by David Shiga <http://www.newscientist.com/search?rbauthors=David+Shiga

Energy beamed down from space is one step closer to reality, now that California has given the green light to a deal involving its sale. But some major challenges will have to be overcome if the technology is to be used widely.

On Thursday, the California Public Utilities Commission gave its blessing <http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PUBLISHED/NEWS_RELEASE/110678.htm> to an agreement that would see the Pacific Gas and Electric Company <http://www.pge.com/> buy 200 megawatts of power beamed down from solar-power satellites beginning in 2016.

A start-up company called Solaren is designing the satellites, which it says will use radio waves to beam energy down to a receiving station on Earth.

The attraction <http://www.newscientist.com/article/
beam-solar-power-from-space.html>  of collecting solar power in space is the virtually uninterrupted sunshine available in geosynchronous orbit. Earth-based solar cells, by contrast, can only collect sunlight during daytime and when skies are clear.<snip>


Space Elevators

I was just reading Sheffield's Space Elevator book, when I decided to check out the latest news on Nanotubes.

Not only are they near the minimum required tenshile strength but the Japanese Government plans on buidling one within the next 20 years!

They have allocated 5 Billion dollars into the startup and think they can get one built for less than 10!

http://io9.com/5052993/japan-prepares-to-board-the-space-elevator <http://io9.com/5052993/japan-prepares-to-board-the-space-elevator

http://www.v3.co.uk/vnunet/news/2226676/japan-sets-plans-space-elevator <http://www.v3.co.uk/vnunet/news/2226676/japan-sets-plans-space-elevator

http://www.isn.ethz.ch/isn/Current-Affairs/Security-Watch/Detail/?id=93730  <http://www.isn.ethz.ch/isn/Current-Affairs/Security-Watch/Detail/?id=93730

David March

You would think that the global warming non-deniers would be all out for space solar power.


your recent piece on Afghanistan

10 December 2009

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

I very much enjoyed your recent Chaos Manor piece "The Truth about Afghanistan and its Meaning for US Policy."

I cannot imagine what President Obama and those advising him think can be accomplished in the next 18 months that we have not managed to accomplish in the last eight years. The most essential point is, as you put it, that we "have no real national interest in Afghanistan. . .[t]he only strategic importance of the area is its ability to harbor our enemies." Quite so. If we are not able to affect that, or if a different sort of effort might affect this as well or better than current plans, than we're on a fools errand. The place is intrinsically worthless to us. There is not one thing in Afghanistan worth the meanest carbuncle on the body of the worst bad-bargain recruit in the whole of the US military.

As is, all the Taliban has to do is wait us out, avoid our engaging their main forces – just keep the casualties high enough for us to keep the public and the media demoralized, pummel the Mayor's troops and supporters, the better to remind the locals that the Taliban’s still there, and will remain when we have left.

I did not like the tenor of the President's speech. The messages are all wrong. The policy as announced in effect tells our soldiers and their families not to be the last one killed, because we're pulling out. The Taliban has been told to hold out, that they'll have it all. The Mayor of Kabul (as you call him) and his hangers-on have been told to start getting their exile nests padded, their book contracts, and teaching jobs lined up. The locals have been told that they're fools to back us, or the Mayor's troops: "the Yankees are leaving, but the Taliban is forever." Finally, we’re telling the world (as if it needed reminding) that we really don’t do counterinsurgency.

All along, the Mayor of Kabul and the so-called democratic Afghan government have reminded me of nothing so much as Joseph Bonaparte, King of Spain. An amiable enough fellow personally, but king nowhere except where his brother's armies were camped, barely ruler of his capital, and gone with the baggage train whenever the foreigners leave. Supported by nobody but a bunch of self-seeking fortune hunters and a bunch of well-meaning local liberals who had about as much in common with the people of the country they purported to govern as they did with Martians.

In any event, I enjoyed your piece.

All the best, Hale Cullom

Joseph Bonaparte had a competent big brother...


Dear Jerry I've asked my friends with Military experience to read and respond to your clear questions on Afghanistan. This is the response from Steve Scholtz.

Very Best Regards Douglas M. Colbary -

In response, my suggestion:

The USA (no “allies”) leases 400 sq miles of rocks and sand in SE Afghanistan ($100M/ year?) We call it the DZ “dead zone”. Smack in the middle we build a state of the art IT base, a runway for supplies, some hard bunkers and a swimming pool, and sunscreen (another $100M?). Staff it with 100 maintenance specialists 10 weapons officers and three dozen privates with 10+ years Play Station experience (sorry, Muslims need not apply.) The mission is that nothing non-USA is permitted to be alive in the DZ. Screw the enviros and PETA. From the base they run UAV’s for recon/strikes in the DZ, the surrounding mountains, deserts, caves, trails, whatever. We stay out of their politics. We choose to “buy” only correct info or the head of a defined enemy combatant….whoever the source. We offer Pakistan the same deal.

Capitalism gains a foothold.

Until some wussie from Europe comes to kick our asses out, or al-Q’s refuge is utterly destroyed, we stay.

Also, no lawyers are permitted in the DZ. ………wait, I want to rethink that part.

Tell JP I’m serious. I got 10 minutes in this exercise.



Re: Student Kills Prof

The actual worst item in the report was almost a footnote. The wingnut had been charged with *second degree murder*. That is, the DA is ducking on calling this a premeditated with malice aforethought murder. And that means no needle. Which, from the fragmentary evidence available, seems to be both richly deserved and necessary if judicial punishment is to have ANY deterrent effect on others.

900 pound gorilla in the room: killer is Muslim, deceased is an ex-Muslim, or 'an apostate' as the fatwa would describe him (presuming there was a fatwa).



The 'Religion of Peace' and that pesky First Amendment

Regarding Bob Ludwick's pointer to the murder of a professor let's note that the murderer was a Saudi Arabian. And the media are still afraid to state the blindingly obvious, he is a Muslim. There be no other creatures "from" Saudi Arabia. No other religions are allowed. Yet the media STILL pussyfoots around the fact.

Disgusting in itself. (But the EPA regulating breathing takes the cake. CO2 is a waste product of much of living matter and food for most of the rest. Yet, now, it is declared a noxious substance based on bad science. I hope you have your guns well hidden. They emit CO2, too.)

I've taken to wondering if this is all some grand psychologist's experiment to see just how much (censored verbiage) Americans will tolerate before they explode.


An interesting experiment indeed. And Olaf, on what once were knees, does almost ceaselessly repreat, there is some ---

ah well.


Subject: Schools

"The Egyptian MP Dr. Hosni Al-Sayyed of Egypt's Center for Education Research gets it. He termed the plan (for American schools in Egypt) a "blatant infiltration of Egypt's education system." ... He said, "Education is a matter of national security, and any attempt to infiltrate [our education system] must be resisted.""

Maybe he is telling us something about our policy of allowing Islamic schools here in the US, as well? The big question is whether or not we can do anything about it within our national legal framework. At least we can take back our own schools and refuse to pay for their schools. Virginia please take note.

Reactions to U.S. Plan for Establishing American Schools in Egypt http://www.memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=SD267509 



Eh> Unpopular with whom?

>The current Administration and Congressional Leadership seem bent on imposing carbon taxes and >government health care despite the unpopularity of these measures: meaning, I presume, that they >intend to stay in power through political means unrelated to their policies.

Eh? I keep hearing statements like this - mostly from Fox news talking heads - but it surprised me to hear it from someone who thinks as deeply as you.

Personally, almost everyone I talk to is in favor of some kind of health reform, and some kind of climate management. The details of what each group wants is, of course, so divergent as to appear to be in opposition. But still - health care reform and climate management appear to be very popular. With a great majority of people.

Usually I hear statements like the above from people who are politically motivated to undermine the Obama administration, and will will use any tactic whatsoever to achieve that. Bring on the Obama Waterloo - that type of thing. The Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh types. (Uh- if you like those types, it's a free country. I find them rather revolting, along the same lines as Howard Stern. )

Understand, I do not think that of you in any way, but still, I am led to wonder did you actually mean what the words seem to mean? Much more likely, my understanding of what you said is incomplete or just plain mistaken. The sentence I quoted above was a "showstopper" for me though, and I had to force myself to get past it.

I think I managed to wrap my mind around what you are saying, but then I fail to see any difference between the Obama, Bush, or even Clinton administrations. They all had their pet agendas to push. Obama does it with popularity, Bush did it with bullying, and Clinton tried to do it with reason, but was stymied by his own un-ethical behavior - like Nixon.


I don't have much regard for "you're another' arguments: some things are bad for the Republic. I said so at the time regarding Bush 1, Clinton, and Bush II. Of course politicians maneuver for their pet agendas. Some of those agendas are far more harmful than others.

As to the popularity of health care and carbon taxes, the polls I have seen do not show it. If you phrase the questions generally enough you can get almost any result you like, but when you get to specifics and include costs, those are not popular measures. "Do you want to pay higher premiums on your insurance in order to cover people who don't have insurance?"


Subj: The Climategate propaganda machine kicks in 

Dear Jerry,

Yesterday I heard a remarkable example of how propaganda is conducted in a free society. Like a stage magician, one cannot merely toss out lies. One simply directs audience focus away from the truth.

During a long drive, I listened to NPR (who else?) discussing Climategate and the public opinion response. The actual facts of global warming and the mechanics of the falsification were barely mentioned.

Instead NPR focused on "public opinion". Polls of global warming belief from major countries were compared and reasons discussed at length by three pro-climate-change speakers (which included the moderator).

There was one, small, rather inadequate speaker for the anti-climate-change side. English was obviously not even his first language! Modern journalistic ethics obviously don't consider stacking the deck to be actually cheating. We are appalled but not surprised.

Discussions boiled down to something like . . .

1. Global warming science has been cooked, contrived and crooked. Answer: But that doesn't really matter because global warming is such a threat to Earth.

2. Why do People believe that? Answer: Because global warming scientists have been telling them that for ten+ years, of course.

3. But . . . (start over again). Repeat for a hour of air time.

A finer exemplar of circular logic could hardly be imagined. Also the later stages of the "Big Lie" technique.

"Have you noticed, once you have succeeded in convincing a man of something incredible, he believes it with an enthusiasm that he wouldn't dream of showing for an obvious, simple fact?" - Sir Harry Flashman, _Flash For Freedom_ by George MacDonald Fraser

ERRATA: The pro- side constantly peppered their statements with denouncements that "some of" their critics "have an agenda". The anti- speaker was totally unequal to the challenge and never pointed out the billions of dollars up for grabs by the pro- side, which if not an "agenda" then the word needs a new definition. Obviously why he was chosen.

Every time the moderator used the phrase "public opinion" as if it were a physical law of nature I wanted to shout " Who the Hell cares?? 'Public Opinion' overwhelmingly thought the earth was FLAT a thousand years ago!"

"The opinion of ten thousand men is of no value if none of them know anything about the subject." — Marcus Aurelius

NPR - paid for with our tax dollars.

I apologize for the length of this email. I didn't have time to make it shorter. I think I'll go take a fistful of antacids and confine my listening to Mannheim Steamroller Christmas music for the nonce.

Despair is a sin, indeed.

Cordially, John

While the polls show a general belief in global warming there isn't a lot of support for higher taxes and fewer jobs.



Jerry P:

Your comments on Prevx and the Black Screen hits exactly what is wrong with current, can we call it journalism? The multiplication factor coupled with the sound bite news casts makes it important to test the source or your information. That is what most of us who read Chaos Manor look for and appreciate. There has to be a filter and modulation going on all the time. There is too much going on the Internet that is simply noise, and hopefully most will fail as they are shown to be poorly sourced and edited. Thanks again.



Soak the Rich  

Word in the newspapers is that the Labour Government will be imposing a top tax rate this year of 60-70%, up 30% from a couple of years ago.

See <http://tinyurl.com/ykquyyj>  <http://tinyurl.com/yfwsg9t>  <http://tinyurl.com/y9x8g5r>  <http://tinyurl.com/y8bk5g5

Mandatory community service for all students: <http://tinyurl.com/yz774wt>  <http://tinyurl.com/ykfdfek>  <http://tinyurl.com/ylq3429>  <http://tinyurl.com/yhzstlg

-- Harry Erwin

And you ain't seen nothing yet...


From another conference:

A correspondent said:

I'm still confused over how fudged data is making the glaciers receed, sea levels rise, spring to come early, and why the birds of the south are  suddenly filling local forests.

No one denies that the Earth has been on a warming trend since the end of the Little Ice Age. We all know or should know that the cannon of Ticonderoga were dragged across the froze Hudson to Washington in Harlem Heights, and were taken across that river in his retreat in 1776.  The Hudson hasn't frozen that solid in I think 100 years. Clearly there was warming.

 Again the records of cuckoo nesting dates, the first cuckoo of spring, and the dates of stream freezing and spring ice breaks show warming trends since people started keeping such records -- sometimes surprisingly long times.  Most of those records show that much of the warming was between 1800 and 1890, and that is very unlikely to be CO2 related.

 Arrhenius first looked at the CO2 hypothesis in 1895 and concluded about 1 degree F in a century; I haven't seen much to change that since.

 Certainly there has been warming since the Viking colonies in Greenland. Some of those dairy farms are still under ice. Kilimanjaro lost over half the ice recorded  in 1880 by 1936 when Hemingway published his story. Since that time we've had the New Ice Age scare of the 1970's.

 The question isn't whether or not there's warming -- there likely is although it seems a bit slower now -- but what causes it. We ought to be looking for causes and remedies. Should we paint roofs black or white? Is ridding the atmosphere of high altitude reflective particulates a good idea or might we want to think of increasing them? Seeding the seas with iron isn't as simplemindedly effective as first analysis showed it might be, but we've barely looked at the subject.

 In other words, are we in for the big burn or the big chill, and which should we prepare for?  And if we spend all of mankind's discretionary funds in reducing CO2 will that be effective? Because we sure as hell won't have much left over.

 I'd have thought those relevant questions, but I don't hear them being debated in Copenhagen

 Jerry Pournelle

Chaos Manor


Choice blindness: You don't know what you want http://www.newscientist.com/
-you-dont-know-what-you-want.html  * 18 April 2009 by Lars Hall and Petter Johansson


When asked to defend a choice, most of us will justify it in great detail--even if our original choice has been covertly exchanged for something else (Image: Peter Cade/Iconica/Getty)

WE HAVE all heard of experts who fail basic tests of sensory discrimination in their own field: wine snobs who can't tell red from white wine (albeit in blackened cups), or art critics who see deep meaning in random lines drawn by a computer. We delight in such stories since anyone with pretensions to authority is fair game. But what if we shine the spotlight on choices we make about everyday things? Experts might be forgiven for being wrong about the limits of their skills as experts, but could we be forgiven for being wrong about the limits of our skills as experts on ourselves?

We have been trying to answer this question using techniques from magic performances. Rather than playing tricks with alternatives presented to participants, we surreptitiously altered the outcomes of their choices, and recorded how they react. For example, in an early study we showed our volunteers pairs of pictures of faces and asked them to choose the most attractive. In some trials, immediately after they made their choice, we asked people to explain the reasons behind their choices.<clip>


For a PDF copy of A Step Farther Out:



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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Air Force Confirms Use Of "Beast Of Kandahar" Drone.

AFP <http://mailview.custombriefings.com/
2980593-585e&l=00f-c3b&t=c>  (12/9) reports the US Air Force on Tuesday "confirmed for the first time that it is flying a stealth unmanned aircraft known as the 'Beast of Kandahar,' a drone spotted in photos and shrouded in secrecy." The RQ-170 Sentinel, developed by Lockheed Martin, is designed "to provide reconnaissance and surveillance support to forward deployed combat forces," the Air Force said in "a brief statement." AFP notes that "aviation experts dubbed the drone the 'Beast of Kandahar' after photographs emerged earlier this year showing the mysterious aircraft in southern Afghanistan in 2007." Then earlier this week, "a blog in the French newspaper Liberation published another photo...feeding speculation among aviation watchers about the classified drone."


: Still Confused?

"I'm still confused over how fudged data is making the glaciers receed, sea levels rise, spring to come early, and why the birds of the south are suddenly filling local forests."

But thats just it, none of these are true, lets start with the first point and go through them one by one, shall we?

Fudged data, I wouldn't call it fudged, in fact, it is legally criminal now, since withholding data when there is a freedom of information request is a criminal offense. In fact, if you look here http://wattsupwiththat.com/
climategates-hidden-decline/#more-13783  , you can see that the whole hockey stick graph that started this whole warming thing is not even based on actual tempuratures at all, the tree data it was based off of differed from the actual tempurature data, showing that the whole hockey stick graph does not actually show what the tempurature was really like back before actual thermometers existed. it is, in fact, a fake. Note also that the IPCC 1990 graph showed the MWP, then did not show it at all later, yet we can see here that it did in fact exist http://www.co2science.org/data/mwp/mwpp.php  (from every continent), thus we see further proof that the hockey stick graph, and thus the whole idea of Global Warming, uh, I mean "Climate Change" (we're supposed to say that now instead) never existed. The current climate is nothing unusual. If you want even more fudged data, check this out as well http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/08/
the-smoking-gun-at-darwin-zero/#more-13818  , and I could come up with a lot more like that, here's a start http://wattsupwiththat.com/climategate/

"Glaciers receed", well, that's easy, simply report on those glaciers in some areas of the world that are receding (which could have to do with percipitaion patterns as well as tempurature, see here http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/05/02/
new-zealand-glacier-findings-upset-climate-theory/  ), while stricktly ignoring those in other areas (even close by) that are growing, like these http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/11/27
/glaciers-in-norway-alaska-growing-again/  In Norway and Alaska. Make it dramatic and emotional, "we're all gonna die!" sort of thing. The trick in propaganda isn't so much what you say, it's what you do not say, and show all kinds of emotionally laden pictures, make it "telereal" (an old word that means they won't believe it unless they see it). After all, you can always find a melting glacier somewhere (in summer). This also shows why the current push from congress to penalize news sources outside of the mainstream press is going on, the press has been tamed and reports only on what the masters desire to be reported, once those other sources are squashed, all you will ever hear about will be the melting glaciers and never the growing ones.

Sea levels rise, um, nope, seems to have stopped since 2006, pretty much flat now, see here http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/04/06/
sea-level-graphs-from-uc-and-some-perspectives/  , all you ever hear is all the horrible things that might happen if sea level rises, with emotianal emphesis on how horrible they are, and no one looking on whether it is actually happening or not. All that sea level rised caused by melting ice caps, right, well, they're not, see here http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/04/17/
revealed-antarctic-ice-growing-not-shrinking/  ,but what about the arctic, see here http://igloo.atmos.uiuc.edu/
&fy=2007&sm=12&sd=01&sy=2009  and here http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/04/17/
media-recycles-photos-and-storylines-from-previous-years/  , so much for ice caps. Besides, it's been rising at an avarage of 3mm a year, that's all (except lately) for centuries, no acceleration in its rise has been seen, shouldn't it have been by now? I mean, WHEN'S IT GONNA HAPPEN?

Spring to come early, nope, see here http://wattsupwiththat.com/
2009/04/05/global-warming-and-the-early-spring/  , one can always find some local spot where spring is earlier than somewhere else as well, thats called weather.

Birds, in some cases more cherry picking of data, on others, like the robin story, a flat out, bald faced lie, see below: “Robins: With global warming, robins, the harbinger of spring for many Canadians, have been spotted for the first time in Arctic areas, where the Inuit had no name for the birds.”

Thanks to Dr. Pat Michaels, From World Climate Report:

“The article that caught our eye was titled “The Naming of Birds by Nunamiut Eskimo” by Laurence Irving of the Arctic Health Research Center of the U.S. Public Health Service in Anchorage, Alaska. It appeared in the March 1953 (Vol. 6, pp. 35-43) issue of the aptly-named journal Arctic (…) Irving’s list is the Nunamiut Eskimo word for ‘robin.’ For those interested it is “Koyapigaktoruk”—apparently a derivative of the sound of the robin’s song. Irving designates the robin’s status in the region as “NM” for “nesting” and “migrant.”


“Further, in his article Irving refers to an earlier compilation of Eskimo names for birds, “The most complete list of Eskimo bird names for this part of Alaska so far published” that can be found in the book My Life with the Eskimo by V. Stefansson published in 1913. As it so happens, the contents of this book are accessible through Amazon.com. If you visit the link http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/1417923954#  , and enter the search term “robin” and read the contents of page 493, you will see a description of where robins have been sighted in the Canadian Arctic prior (obviously) to 1913, including along the far northern coast. Accompanying these location descriptions are the word for ‘robin’ in several other Eskimo tongues, including (phonetically) “Kre-ku-ak’tu-yok” (Mackenzie Eskimo) and “Shab’wak” (Alaskan Eskimo).

So, as it turns out, there are plenty of Eskimo words for robin that have existed for a long time and in languages that are spread among bands of Inuit all across the North American Arctic—and it is all plain to see with only a few clicks of the mouse along the information superhighway of the internet.”

So...what about that fudged data again?


I do believe that it's time to renew the debates, not just on blogs. In particular, the authenticity of the data including the operations used to generate it needs to be discussed.


: EPA 


Having started the day with temperatures near zero and 3" of fresh snow in Denver, flown to Nashville over solid cloud cover and some of the highest cloud tops I've ever flown over, driven from there to Huntsville in an inches/hour rain with wind gusts up to 60 mph, and returned home to note (our old friend www.solarcycle24.com)  that we're back to 16 days without a sunspot, I have one thing to say to our friends in the EPA and their finding regarding carbon dioxide:

I urge everyone to write their Congressperson and Senators to support some version of the following resolution:

Resolved: Notwithstanding any United States federal agency or judicial findings regarding carbon dioxide or other so-called "greenhouse gases," the Senate (or House) hereby resolves that no agency funding, either direct or indirect, shall be applied to regulation of such gases, nor shall any such regulation have any force of law, in the absence of legislation which formally imposes, defines, and restricts such regulation.

The DATA are unequivocal: global warming is a HOAX.



(I have to sign this one; it's too important for the future of the world.)

You may have to sign it, but I don't think I have to publish the name. I'll leave that up to you. This is from a PhD in hard sciences.

It is clear enough that the "consensus" isn't so thorough that the panic justifies bypassing Congress to allow the Administration to seize control of a huge part of the economy to avert the coming doom.


Medieval warming and tree rings

Dear Sir:

In 1947 I visited a museum (Wells Fargo, possibly?) in Los Angeles and at the end of one room was an enormous slice taken from the butt of a Redwood tree. The exhibit included a time line starting somewhere well before the birth of Christ. It has always seemed to me that there are far to many variables - temperature, moisture, nutrient availability, stress from disease, infestation, even the size of the subject tree relative to the surrounding forest, to place much faith in the historical relationship of climate to the width of a tree ring. If the exhibit is still open to the public however, anyone in the area should be able to check and see for themselves some actual tree ring evidence covering the past 2,000 years or so.

Very truly yours, Paul Bloom


A subscriber writes

North Pole ice


Jerry P:

"We know there had to be less ice at the North Pole in Viking times. " Well that is a reasonable hypothesis, but not a known fact. The problem could be the Gulf Stream and circumpolar currents which did or did not bring warmer currents to the area the Vikings settled. As I read the literature on the topic, thermohaline effects are not well understood and this means that the locus and magnitude of the sinking of heavier saline water is not exactly understood. I would submit that weaker effects would allow the warmer current to close on the Greenland mass before cooling and sinking. Modeling the oceans is more important than modeling the atmosphere as the oceans control the net climate not the atmosphere.


Well, we have no evidence that the Gulf Stream ever got up around Greenland and Iceland, and it almost certainly was not there during the Viking times. Perhaps it accounts for Vineland and the Greenland dairy farms, but an alternate hypothesis of Thor and Odin can account for it too. I suppose the wandering Gulf Stream theory is considerably more likely, but a large number times a very small number is generally not very large even so.

As you say we don't know much about ocean currents and temperature changes. If we did we could predict el Nino events, which we can't. But the Gulf Stream seems pretty stable.

On that score: what is the temperature of the sea? I can go off the coast of Florida and get 10 different values in 20 miles at the same depth and latitude. Which one do I use as "the temperature off Florida"? Now consider that question write large and tell me the temperature of the ocean.

In any event there is considerably more evidence of a general Medieval Warm in Viking times than just the Greenland data; and given that the Earth was warmer then, should we not predict less North Polar ice? It's not my specialty, but I do read history books, and I think I can rely on crop records at least as much as tree rings. Of course I'm not trying to predict to a fraction of a degree. Just "a lot warmer" and "a lot colder" are about all I can get from history; I am not convinced that the more "accurate" numbers are accurate to fractions of a degree, or even to a degree F.  Perhaps I am deluded; but I don't get a lot of comfort from the answers I get to these questions.



Michael Flynn on Cooked Data

This is from another conference, published with Flynn's permission:

In reply to:

I'm still confused over how fudged data is making the glaciers receed, sea levels rise, spring to come early, and why the birds of the south are  suddenly filling local forests.

Mike Flynn says

the "fudged data" doesn't mean any of that. It's not that the earth is not warming. It has been, for several centuries now. The debate among scientists is whether it is doing so for mostly natural or mostly man-made reasons. There is also debate over whether anything and everything that happens *during* a warming happens *because* of the warming. To your list add the northward advance of "tropical" diseases, the increase in the number of hurricanes, every summer heat wave, the polar bears, etc.

a) But many of the glaciers have been receding since George Washington's time. Others are stable or even advancing. Kilimanjaro lost more than half its surface ice *between 1890 and 1936* with a slower rate of loss since then -- but due to a shift to a drier climate, not an increase in temperature. Malaria was a major cause of death in the building of the TransCanadian Railway in the 19th cent., and yellow fever and malaria regularly ravaged such "tropical" cities as Philadelpia in the 18th cent. We didn't hear much about increased hurricanes this past year. The Arctic was relatively ice-free a few years ago, just as it was in the 1940s and at other times, but this was primarily because of an occasional shift in the ocean currents and the ice has returned in the last three years. I have even heard it said that animals can shift habitats for many different reasons. Back in the early 70's, the southward migration of armadillos was cited as proof of cooling. And around here the Canadian geese don't seem inclined to return to Canada. Some polar bear populations are increasing or remaining stable; two are declining - from hunting. There may be more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of yet in our philosophy, or even in our computer models.

The above ties into the Duesberg Debate as follows: physicists had falsified heliocentrism because the theory predicted visible parallax among the fixed stars, and none could be observed. Ergo (saith Archimedes) heliocentrism is disproven. Of course, the reason turned out to be that the stars were much farther away than scientists thought. (Companus of Novara put the outer edge of the Saturnian sphere at 73,383,747 miles.) The hypothesis was really {heliocentrism AND the assumed stellar distances} implied {visible parallax}. The lack of parallax falsified one OR the other. Because the distance to the celestial sphere was well attested by apparent magnitudes and diameters, it seemed a safe bet. This is called the Duhem Thesis and it's why there can never be a "crucial experiment."

b) Temperatures have been increasing since the end of the Little Ice Age, when the sun began ramping up toward Grand Max. On top of this trend is overlaid the 50-60 year Multi-Decadal Oscillation. Currently, the MDO has crested and temperatures since the El Nino peak of 1998 have been i) higher than previously and b) flat to declining. That is the nature of crests. Russian astrophysicists have predicted that this decline will persist until about 2030. Dr. Trenberth called the failure of the computer models to account for this "lack of warming" a "travesty." It seems Y = f(X1, X2, ..., Xn) and should have been Y = f(X1, X2, ..., Xn, Xn+1,... Xn+k)

c) The prior commitment to man-made reasons led to a determination to "get rid of the medieval warm period." (As I read in a disturbing article about fifteen years ago. At the time, the recipient of the email did not want his name revealed for grant-eligibility reasons, and so the goal statement was dismissed.) The way to eliminate the MWP was to define medieval temps downward by using "reconstructed" temperatures from selected tree ring series. (When other tree ring series were used, the Medieval Warm period reappears. It also appears world-wide in research of 752 scientists from 45 countries. And while medieval annalists did not know about thermometers, they did know when the ice melted or the rivers froze. There were broadleaf trees in Scandanavia.) When I was a quality engineer, I was generally suspicious when a manager announced ahead of time what he wants to find and then he finds it.

d) Unfortunately, the tree ring data after 1960 diverged from the thermometer temperatures. The tree rings indicated a decline in while the thermometer temps increased. Any competent quality engineer could have told them that different methods of measurement will generally produce different results. To "hide the decline" in the tree ring data, they simply tossed the post-1960 data and replaced them with thermometer data. This would be like plotting tensile strengths of heats of steel reconstructed from the Rockwell hardness of the ingots poured; and then, for the most recent heats, replacing that with actual tensile test results on rolled sheet. This is always illegitimate technique unless it is highlighted prominently, the reasons explained, and consideration is given to whether the correlation still holds. (The Rockwell/tensile correlation depends on the alloy of the steel. The tree ring/temperature correlation depends on the species of the tree, the soil, the drainage, the direction of the drainage, overshadowing by taller trees, and whether a deer dumped a load of dung on the ground several yards away, and other stuff.)

e) That the reconstructed temps diverged from thermometer temps after 1960 calls into question the validity of the correlation that was used to make the reconstructions. If they didn't match post-1960, why suppose they matched in 1660 or 1360? But instead of investigating to determine the "assignable cause," which might have unearthed either a metrology problem or a new nugget of scientific fact, they elected to "hide the decline." Seems to me that post-1960 is just when urban heat island effects would have started overtaking thermometers originally placed outside the urban areas. Other possible metrology issues involve the way the raw data is "homogenized."

Anyhow, the problem is not the warming, per se; but the concerted effort to bury the MWP so as to accentuate the present-day warming and obscure the obviously natural aspect of the older warming phase. The current inflection point is more worrisome than the one after the 1930/40s high temps. Then, it was simply the downturn of the MDO (and the possibly related lengthening of the solar cycle). The current slump in solar activity seems deeper and some have claimed the beginning of another Dalton or even a Maunder Minimum. It's way too early to tell. If it is - and some Russian scientists seem to think it is - it will make Global Cooling of the 50s-70s seem like a summer day.

__ "Data! Give me data! I can't make bricks without straw!" -- Sherlock Holmes in "The Copper Beeches."

My remedy to all this is to find more data, and to fund contrarians: if they can be refuted we can feel better about spending trillions on remedies. And if what's coming is ice rather then warm, it would be well to know that.


Australian Conservative parties see through the con on Global Warming.

G'day Jerry,

You might find this interesting. In Australia we've had to put up with a government that was insisting that Global Warming was settled and "deniers" were worse then Holocaust deniers. They even conned the leader of the opposition into going along with a massive new tax that would double the average houshold power bill, not to mention the costs on everything else. The result was a revolt in the party room and a new leader on the conservative side of politics. (The conservative side of politcs in Australia are the Liberals, don't ask)


Hopefully we'll now start to have a bit of sanity injected into things and a bit of rebellion against the new religion that is being forced down our throats by the watermelons (Green outside but red in the middle).

Regards, Chris Papalia.


"Unpopular with whom?"


Could Paul be suffering from a problem similar to Pauline Kael, late movie critic of the New York Times, who is reported to have said after the 1972 Presidential Election, " I can't understand how Nixon won, I don't know a single person who voted for him.

As Paul said, "almost everyone I talk to..."

Bob Holmes




I am glad you picked up on the EPA. I was even more glad to see that someone finally called this move for what it is, The President's Coup made in the UK and the EU.


-- PDAB,



Coppenhagen and TSA

Well, Lord Monckton threatened a House of Lords investigation if they did not produce a copy of this so-called treaty. He got the copy and found that they plan to create 700 more bureaucracies, not bureaucrats, entire bureaucracies that you will have to pay for that will run even more aspects of your life. Then, the bomb shell came. You may recall that developed nations were selling this plan to underdeveloped nations by saying that, basically, the U.N. would rob the rich nations and give that money to the poor nations.

Now remember, this is the same IMF and World Bank that sent economic hitmen such as Perkins in and paid corrupt leaders to NOT pay back the loanshark rate (30%+) loans given to those nations. This caused those nations to default, and under terms of the loan transfer their infrastructure--and basically the entire country--into IMF and World Bank receivership. Imagine their horror when they get the addendum to the Copenhagen Summit, and realize that they are duped once more! http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/

Stateside, TSA screws up yet again! The jobs program for losers / bailout for the airline companies really did it this time. They published their security procedures and sensitive information online. Ever wondered what a Senators ID card looks like? Ever wondered what CIA credentials look like? Well, now you can see thanx to TSA! http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/massive-

Manual here: http://a.abcnews.go.com/images/

See CIA credentials here: http://a.abcnews.go.com/images/Blotter

Sleep well tonight! ooooooooops militant ignorance and compound stupidity strike again!

-- PDAB,


"Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened." —Winston Churchill

“The opinion of ten thousand men is of no value if none of them know anything about the subject.” —Marcus Aurelius


What climate scientists believe about climate change:


There’s a lot of fascinating stuff here. Short summary – a pretty good consensus and a lot more dissent than anyone is admitting.


What it shows is that the consensus is not nearly overwhelming enough to justify spending trillions without more discussion. The debate is not over, the science is not established, and it is not certain; and this is pretty clear from the article. It takes a while to read this. It's worth the time if you are interested in this.


"Cooked" climate data


You (and your readers) may wish to click on over to this link: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/
12/08/the-smoking-gun-at-darwin-zero/  It's a lengthy piece, with lots of charts, and I'm not prepared to take the time to compose an adequate summary here.

Willis Eisenbach spends some time looking at how raw climate data has been adjusted. If what he presents is true, I can see why some people might be more than a little suspicious of the methods used to cook the raw data.

.............Karl Lembke

One reason why I think it justified to inquire about how the "confirmation" of Arrhenius observation is "confirmed" or denied. It's very hard to determine just what is happening other than the gross levels of "did the Hudson freeze" and "when do you plant spring crops" and "when did the birds come back from flying south?"  Those questions won't get you fraction of a degree accuracy, but I am beginning to think nothing else will either. We need the data --and they haven't got it.

Over the periods when we sort of know, the warming trend is not so obvious.





CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


This week:


read book now


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hubris -

Hi Jerry,

The UN released a statement yesterday calling the past decade the warmest on record. This in the face of the falsified data scandal, and the widely reported fact (including in the whistleblower memos) that there has been a cooling trend for the past 13 years.

Call me silly - I've only had 4 semesters of college statistics, but that math just does not compute. If we've been cooling for longer than the reporting period, it's nearly impossible (other than some form of heating inertia, which has not been posited), for the reporting period to be warmer than the previous one. I suspect that this is absolutely direct evidence of 1) falsified data, or 2) the urban heating factor.

In business we have a term: mushroom. It's someone who you keep in the dark and feed a lot of fertilizer (usually expressed as profanity). The UN clearly thinks that the entire educated population of the world are mushrooms.

Unfortunately, a large portion are.



I would like to know on what evidence this is the warmest year in a decade. I am freezing, there's record snow falls -- and it was not a warm summer. It may have to do with sunspots.




would larger icebergs surviving to lower latitudes be evidence of global warming, or global cooling?


(Nods:P Drudge)

Which do you want it to be?


: Copenhagen climate summit: 1,200 limos, 140 private planes and caviar wedges (Daily Telegraph) b


Copenhagen climate summit: 1,200 limos, 140 private planes and caviar wedges

Copenhagen is preparing for the climate change summit that will produce as much carbon dioxide as a town the size of Middlesbrough.

By Andrew Gilligan Published: 10:55PM GMT 05 Dec 2009

Ms Jorgensen reckons that between her and her rivals the total number of limos in Copenhagen next week has already broken the 1,200 barrier. The French alone rang up on Thursday and ordered another 42. "We haven't got enough limos in the country to fulfil the demand," she says. "We're having to drive them in hundreds of miles from Germany and Sweden."

And the total number of electric cars or hybrids among that number? "Five," says Ms Jorgensen. "The government has some alternative fuel cars but the rest will be petrol or diesel. We don't have any hybrids in Denmark, unfortunately, due to the extreme taxes on those cars. It makes no sense at all, but it's very Danish."

The airport says it is expecting up to 140 extra private jets during the peak period alone, so far over its capacity that the planes will have to fly off to regional airports - or to Sweden - to park, returning to Copenhagen to pick up their VIP passengers.

As well 15,000 delegates and officials, 5,000 journalists and 98 world leaders, the Danish capital will be blessed by the presence of Leonardo DiCaprio, Daryl Hannah, Helena Christensen, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Prince Charles. A Republican US senator, Jim Inhofe, is jetting in at the head of an anti-climate-change "Truth Squad." The top hotels - all fully booked at £650 a night - are readying their Climate Convention menus of (no doubt sustainable) scallops, foie gras and sculpted caviar wedges.<snip>


Regarding making video podcasts:

you have it already

Your Mac Book came with everything you need, It is the iLife suite of programs. They work together well. Just use iMovie ., input video, photos, you can use Garage Band to make the audio. Then edit you iMovie to Fit. I am using it to make videos for youtube (foxyroxyshow). It Helps to have good quality well lit video.

Nuclear Power, It's not rocket science it's PLUMBING !

Thomas Weaver 

I am discovering that. Oddly enough, there are also movie programs available free with Windows 7. I will try them all.


Missile failure done right

Dr. Pournelle,

If you must have a missile launch failure, this is the way to do it.


I have anecdotal reports from friends of mine who live in Norway, that a fairly large number of people were hiding underneath objects while muttering something about aliens and the end of the world.

From the pictures, it looks like a failure similar to an upper stage nozzle blowout or gymbal failure sent it into a corkscrewing ascent (the blue spiral). At some point it must have gone completely sideways and maybe even vented propellant, resulting the white spiral pattern. When I first saw the pictures, I wondered if you could do this with a very high powered pulsed laser firing into high altitude ice clouds, but I don’t think anyone has *blue* lasers of any significant power. A missile spiraling up out of control makes a lot of sense however.


And of course there are flying saucer reports...


Subject: Physicists assemble world's smallest snowman


Tracy Walters, CISSP


the environment

I'd sure rather spend my money on this than on "cap and trade" http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,579956,00.html

 John F. Gothard, Ph.D.

I would far rather spend the money on monitoring and data gathering, but I do not trust that lot to be honest in reporting it.


Banning Water

After mentioning the recent EPA action classifying CO2 as a public health threat to an acquaintance of mine he tipped me off to this wonderful Penn & Teller clip. It shows a woman trying to convince people to sign a petition banning di-hydrogen monoxide.


Arondell Hoch

JoAnne Dow started this back in BIX days as I recall. Di-Hydrogen Monoxide


Saturn's Mysterious Hexagon Emerges from Winter Darkness http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=29776 

Scientists cannot even explain the atmospheric circulation over a gaseous billiard ball. How in heck can they have the hubris to claim they can explain Earth's climate let alone human involvement?












 read book now




CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


read book now


Friday,  December 11, 2009

Subject: UN Security Clampdown on Press Conference Questions in Copenhagen

Very disturbing suppression of what I think are very reasonable questions courteously asked.


Is anyone astonished?


Old Problem, New Topic

 Dr. Pournelle -- 

I saw this in "Watts up with that":

 "... perhaps a consiracy is unnecessary where a carrot will suffice..."


 "... Paul Vaughan responded as follows:

       Actually not so hard.

      Personal anecdote:

      Last spring when I was shopping around for a new source of funding, after having my funding slashed to zero 15 days after going public with a finding about natural climate variations, I kept running into funding application instructions of the following variety:

             Successful candidates will:

      1) Demonstrate AGW.
      2) Demonstrate the catastrophic consequences of AGW.
      3) Explore policy implications stemming from 1 & 2.

             Follow the money — perhaps a conspiracy is unnecessary where a carrot will suffice.   This confirms the stories that I’ve been hearing over the last few years."

 Some time ago, another of your readers quoted Butler's "Hudibras"

 "What makes all doctrines plain and clear?
 About two hundred pounds a year.
 And that which was prov'd true before
 Proved false again?  Two Hundred more."

 How do we get away from this attitude of, "Don't bother me with the facts, tell me what I want to hear"?


Which is why I have been trying to get people to consider that if we are to have government funding, there should be an anti-consensus funding board with from 5 to 10% -- 5 would probably be enough -- of the budget, whose goal is to fund tests of the consensus hypothesis. Examples would have been to give Duesberg the money for his crucial experiment. Fund those who question the data in the climate consensus; and so forth. The question is larger than climate.


: global temperature data

Your comments about the accuracy of global temperature data and the remarkable precision with which it is stated were fresh in my mind when I stumbled across this:

The weaker the data available upon which to base one's conclusion, the greater the precision which should be quoted in order to give the data authenticity.--Norman Ralph Augustine

Mr. Augustine had interesting insights on many things.



Hide the Decline: McIntyre’s reconstruction


I can’t know about the details, of course, but it sounds egregious, if true. McIntyre seems like a dangerous guy to have on your trail.

As to the Darwin data, there have been a number of posts linking to a rebuttal by Tim Lambert. It is all discussed at great length in the comments on the Darwin post. As usual, I don’t have a clue about the details. I am happy to let the scientists sort it out, as long as they are behaving like scientists.


Let them publish the actual data. That's all that's needed. Adjustments may have to be made, but predending accuracies that don't exist is not good science. See today's view.


Krauthammer: 'If you want to revolutionize society -- as will drastic carbon regulation and taxation in an energy economy that is 85 percent carbon-based -- you do it through Congress reflecting popular will. Not by administrative fiat of EPA bureaucrats.'


--- Roland Dobbins


White House seeks public input on science policy

Dr. Pournelle,

I just wanted to make sure you had seen the attached.

Best Regards, D.R. Williams

--- On Fri, 12/11/09, Alan I. Leshner, CEO, AAAS <announcements@members-aaas.org>  wrote:

From: Alan I. Leshner, CEO, AAAS <announcements@members-aaas.org> Subject: White House seeks public input on science policy To: DRWILLIAMS@IX.NETCOM.COM Date: Friday, December 11, 2009, 10:55 AM

<http://www.members-aaas.org/l.jsp?d=3273.376356.654.4uN8kfSh9>  <http://promo.aaas.org/images/
careers09/09_aaas-plus-u/J-2305_bluepixel.gif>  Make your voice heard!

We have been asked to relay to the broad scientific community the following opportunity to advise US government policymaking deliberations. You can read the latest updates at: www.whitehouse.gov/open  <http://www.members-aaas.org/l.jsp?d=3273.376355.654.4uN8kfSh9

The Obama Administration is seeking public input on policies concerning access to publicly-funded research results, such as those that appear in academic and scholarly journal articles. Currently, the National Institutes of Health require that research funded by its grants be made available to the public online at no charge within 12 months of publication. The Administration is seeking views as to whether this policy should be extended to other science agencies and, if so, how it should be implemented.

The Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President and the White House Open Government Initiative are launching a "Public Access Policy Forum" to invite public participation in thinking through what the Federal government's policy should be with regard to public access to published federally-funded research results.

To that end, OSTP will conduct an interactive, online discussion beginning Thursday, December 10. The discussion will focus on three major areas of interest:

* Implementation (Dec. 10 to 20): Which Federal agencies are good candidates to adopt Public Access policies? What variables (field of science, proportion of research funded by public or private entities, etc.) should affect how public access is implemented at various agencies, including the maximum length of time between publication and public release? Add your comments >> <http://www.members-aaas.org/l.jsp?d=3273.376354.654.4uN8kfSh9

You will want to read the "Terms of Participation <http://www.members-aaas.org/l.jsp?d=3273.376353.654.4uN8kfSh9>  " and will need to register a new account <http://www.members-aaas.org/l.jsp?d=3273.376352.654.4uN8kfSh9>  and log in <http://www.members-aaas.org/l.jsp?d=3273.376351.654.4uN8kfSh9>  using the link at the bottom of the page to comment. Tips on how to comment and moderate posts are listed in the right-hand column.

* Features and Technology (Dec. 21 to Dec 31): In what format should the data be submitted in order to make it easy to search and retrieve information, and to make it easy for others to link to it? Are there existing digital standards for archiving and interoperability to maximize public benefit? How are these anticipated to change?

* Management (Jan. 1 to Jan. 7): What are the best mechanisms to ensure compliance? What would be the best metrics of success? What are the best examples of usability in the private sector (both domestic and international)? Should those who access papers be given the opportunity to comment or provide feedback?

Each of these topics will form the basis of a blog posting that will appear at www.whitehouse.gov/open  and will be open for comment on the OSTP blog <http://www.membersaaas.org/l.jsp?d=3273.376350.654.4uN8kfSh9>  at blog.ostp.gov. 


Alan I Leshner<http://promo.aaas.org/images/sciencecareers/09_03_membership/dr-leshner.gif

Alan I. Leshner, CEO, AAAS and Executive Publisher, Science

<http://promo.aaas.org/images/careers09/09_aaas-plus-u/J-2305_bluepixel.gif>  <http://promo.aaas.org/images/careers09/09_aaas-plus-u/J-2305_bluepixel.gif

Even though I am a Fellow of the AAAS I doubt they want my inputs. But thanks. And who knows, perhaps the horse will learn to sing.


The world is catching up to you...

Jerry -

Editorial from Barrons last week. (respected financial weekly) Sounds like you!



Shedding Light on Climate Data

By THOMAS G. DONLAN <http://online.barrons.com/public/

With the credibility of some climate scientists called into question, we need fresh data -- and more balanced analysis.

SEEKING LIGHT IN COPENHAGEN ON ONE of the shortest days of the year isn't a perfect example of a fool's errand. Copenhagen is 11 degrees south of the Arctic Circle -- just a little farther north than Edmonton, Alberta. On Dec. 18, when the United Nations Climate Conference is due to close, the Danish capital will enjoy about seven hours of sunlight and grope through only 17 hours of darkness.

Heat will be more abundant than light, however. In a minor demonstration of man's ability to affect his surroundings, hot air generated by thousands of delegates and tens of thousands of activists will cut the fuel bill for many Danish hotels. And in a major demonstration of man's inability to agree on scientific facts and an appropriate course of action, the climate conference will achieve practically nothing.

Most of the participants will wish it were not so. They want to reduce the world's use of fossil fuels, and many will not even recognize that their conference would be all but unthinkable without such fuels.

Copenhagen is the latest gathering point for a significant part of the scientific community, whose members have been shouting from the rooftops for more than two decades. They warn that human activity, primarily the combustion of fossil fuels generating carbon dioxide, is about to cause a large increase in temperatures around the world. They have predicted dire consequences for vulnerable species, including humans.

Billions of people, however, refuse to take notice. They go about their business, consuming energy and creating carbon dioxide in quantities proportionate to their wealth and productivity. The scientists feel terribly frustrated by mankind's stubbornness.

Levels of Complexity

Unfortunately, the complex computer models that make predictions are not as complex as the forces that affect the climate. Even if they were, the models could be only as accurate as the data that researchers use. There has always been room for reasonable skepticism about the data, the models and the warnings.

Which brings us to the "Climategate" scandal. Some scientists have been more frank about the limits of their models and their data in private e-mails to one another than they have in their public discourse. Some such embarrassing e-mails recently were purloined by hackers and published on the Internet. Anyone can read about statistical "tricks" and unworthy political tactics used to keep global-warming deniers at bay. In one e-mail, a scientist suggested that colleagues destroy data rather than release them under a Freedom of Information request.

The big scandal, however, is in the data themselves, not in the alleged cover-up. The furor about the nasty arguments among climate scientists also has exposed the flimsy and inferential nature of the historic data used in the models, and called into question the statistical manipulations carried out to make the data seem more convincing. Worse, some of the scientists have been refusing to publish their data for review by skeptics, and some of the unmanipulated original data has been lost, or something.

The scientific method can't work without skeptical testing of data and methods. As they deserve, the credibility of some climate scientists has been weakened. Phil Jones, director of the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit, left his job, at least temporarily, while the British government conducts an investigation. It was Jones who advised a colleague not to release data, and he also wrote about keeping research with unhelpful data out of a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

What We Don't Know

The global-warming issue shouldn't be dismissed because of a few ugly e-mails. It needs further study -- credible study.

The earth has been warming and cooling for billions of years. The most recent warming cycle ended in the last ice age, more than 10,000 years ago, and we don't know how it happened or how long the natural warming will go on. People have been burning significant quantities of coal, oil and natural gas for a century or so, and we don't know enough about carbon dioxide's importance compared with the more abundant greenhouse gases, such as water vapor.

Instead of a global agreement to limit carbon-dioxide emissions -- which isn't going to happen at Copenhagen anyway -- the nations of the world should agree to fund more research into the facts. New researchers untainted by past indiscretions should gather new data, regather old data and publish all the raw facts for anyone to analyze.

Skeptics also should be wary. The movement to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions does include people who would use any stick to beat the dogs of capitalism, suburbanism, energy production and industrial development. But their presence on the other side isn't proof that the other side is wrong.

Another Science Should be Heard

Good data might demonstrate that the sky really is falling, although not indicate what to do. So another topic to explore afresh is the economic consequences of action. Econometric modeling is also subject to error and lack of data; there is an ominous gap between the highest and lowest estimates of how much it would cost to give up a large part of our consumption of fossil fuels. The author of a 2006 British report on the cost of carbon control said the other day he had been too optimistic by half at least. Instead of costing 1% of global GDP for 50 years, it might take 2% or even 5%.

James Hansen, one of the first climate scientists to ring the alarm bell about global warming, said recently: "Fossil fuels are the cheapest form of energy. As long as they are, they are going to be used." He sounded like an economist for once, although Hansen considers the use of cheap fossil energy to be a "fundamental problem," not a law of nature. If it is a fundamental problem, only a cheaper source of energy will cure it.

Open-minded people should support more research, more skepticism and more collection of more data. Those who say it is too late or almost too late are damaging their own cause. Those who say the science is settled with 90% certainty place too much faith in models. Those who say that "green energy" will create millions of jobs must count the cost as well.

Economics is also a useful discipline in climate science.




Frank Frazetta's Son Breaks Into Father's Museum With Backhoe

Dr. Pournelle,

Sorry to clog your email with two in one day, but this is too good to pass up:


Best Regards, D.R. Williams

Good Grief!


This week:


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This week:


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Saturday, December 12, 2009

I took the day off.






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CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


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Sunday, December 13, 2009      

wattsupwiththat's smoking gun

Hi Jerry, enjoyed your recent postings on various elements of "Climate-quiddick". regarding the smoking gun, I have seen a claimed refutation here http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2009/12/trust_scientists 

I have a technical degree but this is beyond me. still, I am highly suspicious. there may or may not be validity in any particular challenge to the orthodoxy but they've given plenty of reason for us to distrust them. extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof. before they re-jigger the global economy I want to see a LOT more checking of the data.

best wishes, Jim Uren

What I read is that there are estimates of the effect of changing structures and housings; this is very reasonable, but it's a significant change, comparable to the change recorded. Excerpt:

"Here's why: homogenising historical temperature data records is extremely complicated. People who maintained weather stations starting in 1880 didn't think to themselves, "Maybe someday people will need to measure climate change, so I better put down a really accurate thermometer and then ensure nothing about the instrument or the surrounding area changes for the next 130 years." They were mostly just trying to do garden-variety meteorology. The early temperature measurements we have are a broken and incomplete record of more and less good data from instruments that were often changed, moved, or that found themselves in different settings over time. When scientists started putting together the vast library of the planet's temperature records in the 1980s in order to do climate-change assessment, they needed to be able to weed out these changes and errors. And they couldn't always do that by reading meteorologists' diaries. They needed to use statistical tools to hunt for anomalies."

Precisely. And when doing that, one should not pretend to data accuracies that aren't there. That's really my point. You can always put a hockey stick into the data if you get to manipulate it; data changes need to be made with an eye to what uncertainties have been introduced, and what I haven't heard from the IPCC is any sense of uncertainty at all.

Weeding out changes and errors is fine: but having seen what the American Physical Society did in its analysis of Strategic Defense -- 31 errors all in the same direction -- I am a bit hesitant about the weedings. Perhaps all this was explained and analysed prior to the recent analyses, but I haven't seen them. Sure: we all knew the thermometer was moved in 1941 and we all know that the Darwin airport went from an isolated wind-swept area to an urban area since. Now what adjustments are needed to take care of such matters? Worth discussion I would think -- and do the adjustments always go in one direction?


Here's another station study in Alaska - I suspect there will be many more. "Climategate" is getting a lot of press in Europe and on the web. It's getting very little in the American Press. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/

There's also a very interesting "open letter" reply to the unsigned criticism in The Economist of the "Darwan Zero" story at http://wattsupwiththat.com/.  It's the third story down as I write this (Sunday morning at 10:30 AM Pacific time).

John F. Gothard, Ph.D.


On science policy & temperature reconstruction

Hi Jerry, A friend of mine pointed me to Wednesday's post and I thought I'd respond to both of you.

There are a number of ways to reconstruct global temperature. A 2006 book on the subject was written by a committee convened by the National Research Council. Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Years can find be found online here: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11676

The National Research Council is a group intended to be free of political bias that completes research at the direction of Congress on pressing scientific issues. They assemble lead researchers in the relevant field to serve as temporary committees to write these reports. The scientists who participate receive no pay for their work on NRC committees.

You say you've not found a book on the topic. I have to wonder, with all due respect, if you actually looked for a book on the subject. There's been a fair amount written about the subject. The most commonly cited year for the warmest on record is 1998. NASA factors in more polar data and identifies 2005 as the warmest year. The NASA calculation came after the publication of the above referenced book.

You suggest that you've not spent enough time looking for the explanations of the climate models. I think you're right about that. There's ample description of the design of climate models in the scientific literature. You may find good resources within the National Academy Press <http://www.nap.edu/> site that hosts the book referenced above. If not, do a search on Google Scholar <http://scholar.google.com/> .

If I had more time, I'd point you to more specifics that would result from following the above suggestions, but I don't have the time and it seems to me this fairly straightforward look at the literature should have been done before you wrote your piece.

I didn't read the self-published study on the survey about scientific consensus. It seems like if the study is done reasonably well, it should pass muster for publication in a peer reviewed publication. The consensus is really quite clear. Agreements among the National Academies of Science from dozens of countries and from the most prominent scientific organizations in the world is really unprecedented. There's a fairly good collection of consensus statements from various organizations in this Wikipedia article <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_consensus_on_global_warming>  . I think it's especially worth noting what it says when you look at scientific organizations in dissent of the consensus position:

With the release of the revised statement <http://dpa.aapg.org/gac/statements/climatechange.pdf> by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Association_of_Petroleum_Geologists> in 2007, no remaining scientific body of national or international standing is known to reject the basic findings of human influence on recent climate change.[70] <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_consensus_on_global_warming#cite_note-AQAonAAPG-69

Statements by individual scientists opposing the mainstream assessment of global warming <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
_scientific_assessment_of_global_warming>  do include claims that the observed warming is likely to be attributable to natural causes.

A good description of the basic science that's so hard to effectively dispute is here:


I'll note that some of what I've cited above isn't peer-reviewed, but it does a good job of taking the peer reviewed science and making it accessible. Cheers, Don

=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+= Don Duggan-Haas, Education Research Associate Paleontological Research Institution and its Museum of the Earth

One would assume that there is no quibble about the six easy steps, but in fact there is. Leave that: we all know what the models say will happen. What we wonder about is the data. I have a hundred theoretical models of Dean Drives and other spacedrives, but I haven't seen any data showing they work.

The CO2 model first cut doesn't take into account such things as, does the warming produce more water vapor? Water vapor overwhelms the greenhouse effect: that is, doubling the CO2 doesn't double the greenhouse effect. Now what happens to the water vapor? Does it form clouds? Do they warm or cool? That is, do the reflect heat back to the Earth that might have gone off into space, or do they reflect solar radiation back to space that might have got to Earth? Simple things, but hard to model. CO2 has an effect in cold dry places; if it's wet the water vapor overwhelms the CO2 effect.

The back of the envelope measure from Arrhenius was about 2 degrees "extra" from doubling the CO2. Our measurement errors for estimating the Earth's temperature in 1895 cannot possibly be accurate to a single degree: actually we're pretty close to guessing what accuracy we have. We may or may not have the "extra" predicted by Arrhenius. Depending on the adjustments one makes in the observed data, that may or may not have happened: the adjustments overwhelm the trend.

As time goes on our accuracies get better, and the observed trends -- well, for the past few years, the observed trends don't seem to be climbing. It's cold out, and there seem to be a lot of cold weather records.

And as to the science involved, we'd all feel a lot better if the IPCC chairman hadn't just told us about the warmest October in history. Most of us didn't think so when he said it, and then we discover that the Russians weren't reporting the data for October, possibly because they hadn't been paid in a while; but for whatever reason they sent in the same data as last month. One wonders how often this happens, and why there was no alarm or indeed notice that central Asia was warming faster than anywhere else.

As to the unprecedented agreement among scientists you find in Wikipedia, consensus is fine but it might be better to look at the data. Warming happens. The models see causes. They do not however take initial condition data from, say, 1950 and give us an accurate "prediction" of what happened from then to 2000. Or indeed 1970 to 2000. Or indeed 1980 to 2000. Why must we bet trillions that they'll be right on 2010 - 2090?

Back in 1990 Petr Beckmann noted that the modelers were all agreed on what was coming, and the data gatherers were all agreed they weren't seeing it. Perhaps I am wrong, but it seems to me that situation hasn't changed much. The Earth warms. By how much is not clear; best guess would be that it continues about as it has since the end of the Little Ice Age.  And you know, I'd have a lot more confidence in all this if it weren't for that attempt to make the Medieval Warm period go away.

As to the openness of the models, I seem to recall a hockey stick model, I'll leave that to people more familiar than I am. I seem to recall vigorous defence of the hockey stick model with less than open sources of its derivation and data.

And it's late. Thank you.


Global Historical Climate Network (NOAA) temperature data

Jerry, The climategate affair led me to look around the net for some temperature records. From what I have read, NOAA's records, the Global Historical Climate Network are the considered as good as any, and the best of the bunch by some. I downloaded them, wrote a simple C program to compute the average temp by year and plotted the results. The plots are on my blog (address below).

Results are variable. A plot of the data from file v2.mean shows a steady rise from perhaps 9 degrees C in the 1700's to 14 and a skosh today. A plot of file v2.mean_adj shows pure garbage from 1701 until 1838. Presumably the "adjustments" trashed that portion of the file.

 From 1838 to present the adjusted data shows a pretty flat line right up to the present of about 10 degrees C, with a slight decline over the last ten years. Color me confused. The raw data shows a steady rise, the adjusted data does not. If you believe in the adjustments. Web searches have turned up little to no information about the NOAA data. The file format is old fashioned. The data must have resided on IBM 80 column punch cards and later been transferred to mag tape.

-- David J. Starr

Blog:  http://www.newsnorthwoods.blogspot.com



Temperature Data  

Hi Jerry,

You wrote

"It's too late to do that for past years, but I propose that given the enormous economic importance of climate trends, the IPCC should publish all the raw data: uncorrected, not homogenized, just the numbers you'd get if you went out on the porch and read the thermometer (or dropped your thermocouple over the side of a boat, or whatever it is they do to get the numbers); and also publish the corresponding "corrected" or "homogenized" number that is fed into the models. That's publishing a few gigabytes of data per year, or some 10 megabytes a day. Let everyone on earth look at the data, and do things like calculate differences between raw and corrected data. We can all look at the trends and differences."

That data is available, from NOAA. And when people look at it, and report on it (in the "skeptic circle") they are consistently finding that the raw data and the homogenized data routinely diverge.

What we need are the "corrections" and their justifications. It should be very straight forward: tell us exactly, for every single station, how and why you modified the data, or else we completely ignore everything you say on the subject.


Exactly. When I was younger I'd have undertaking making a big spread sheet out of it myself.

I have seen "peer reviewed" publications of trends that were established only if you agreed when to start and when to stop; moving the beginning or the end would change the slope a lot. When challenged the result was hems and haws.

My science policy would be to have an anti-consensus portion of the budget: fund competent people who challenge the consensus. When trillions are at stake it's well to be sure of one's conclusions. Somehow that doesn't happen: instead those who challenge are hooted at. As with the "debates" in Copenhagen. A strange way to settle international policies.

Where are the studies on engineering? Where is the debate on cost/benefit of warming and warming prevention? Why is the 1895 condition of the Earth supposed to be some kind of "norm" to which we would like to return? Or 1950? Or -- well, when?

If the problem is CO2 is cutting down on burning coal the best way to get the CO2 out of the atmosphere?

Ah well.


More on hiding the decline


Steve Chu

This seems extreme.

One thing I am pretty sure of: this wasn't the warmest October I can remember. Why would anyone be eager to say it was?





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