Comments Posted By Oecolampadius
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I'm sorry to darken your door after I had promised to depart, but I felt that this followup on a previous discussion is appropriate. It is now clear that the entire NAFTA-gate issue was a manufactured falsehood. The Canadian government and the Canadian Embassy have issued blanket denials of the whole story, admitted that the supposed memo misrepresented the facts, and apologized to Mr. Obama. Here's a CBC story about it:

And of course, the Canadian government would never lie about such a thing. You're even more naive than you are a talking point bot. It was clear as early as last weekend that the Canaidian government was desperate to undo the damage of the leaked memo and Goolsbee visit.

Keep living in your little bubble. It must be very comforting.


Comment Posted By Oecolampadius On 5.03.2008 @ 19:35


Sheesh, you sure like to spin the story. "Obama’s two faced NAFTA policy"? The "infamous" real estate transaction that is part of the story that the "national media has finally woken up to"? "NAFTAgate"?

This story reads like conservative wishful thinking, not objective analysis. You are definitely making a mountain out of a molehill on this NAFTA story. I recognize that, as a conservative, you want to put the most effective spin on the stories that you can, but sheesh, don't you worry about your credibility? If you want to be a conservative cheerleader like Ms. Coulter, I'm sure that's a lucrative ecological niche in the commentator biz, and you'll always have faithful followers, but don't you want to be taken more seriously than Ms. Coulter is? When you overreach yourself as you have done in this case, you only damage your credibility. Tone down the rhetoric, aim for analysis, not propaganda, and ultimately you'll be more effective. In my own ignorant and humble opinion ;-)

Me, I'm willing to wait out the next 36 hours before I make any grand declarations. We might know who'll Mr. McCain will be facing by Wednesday morning.

Comment Posted By Oecolampadius On 3.03.2008 @ 17:11


One other thing: your headline is completely unjustified by your body text. Animal rights terrorism is a group activity; you have presented absolutely nothing connecting the suspect to any group. Methinks your journalism in this instance has gotten a little too yellow.

Comment Posted By Oecolampadius On 3.03.2008 @ 11:41

I'm an animal lover. I have cats, dogs, ducks, and burros. While I don't find your speculations in any fashion offensive, I do think that they're so lacking in foundation as to be a waste of time. You mention that he was a computer graphics artist. Perhaps something about being a computer graphics artist can push someone over the edge so they start manufacturing ricin. Perhaps living in a residence hotel is what led to his actions. Perhaps living in Utah can do it. Right now, my speculations are just as useful as yours.

Why don't we wait for some more information before we start second-guessing things?

Comment Posted By Oecolampadius On 3.03.2008 @ 11:18


SSheill asserts that none of the existing climate models are able to postdict accurately. That is not true. There's voluminous evidence in support of the overall utility of climatological models; I ask SSheill to specify which models he believes cannot accurately postdict and to further specify the magnitude of the postdiction error generated by that model.

Comment Posted By Oecolampadius On 3.03.2008 @ 16:53

I am disappointed but entirely unsurprised by the many comments here that reject the scientific conclusions of so many scientists. I am reluctant to get into a point-by-point rebuttal because I have learned the hard way that arguing science with a non-scientist is a waste of time -- because they really don't care about the science, they just grab talking points from the Internet.

But I would like to drive home this point:

Render unto science the things that are science's, and unto politics the things that are political.

This has two implications for the climate change debate. First, we should not respect any non-scientific opinion on scientific matters. Or, to put it the other way, the only scientific opinions worthy of our considerations are those of professional scientists. I am disturbed by the advance of anti-rationalism in our culture, the willingness people have to reject scientific conclusions for political or religious reasons. Creationists reject Darwinism for religious, not scientific reasons. Some leftists reject nuclear power technology for political, not scientific reasons. Right wingers reject climate change science for political, not scientific reasons. Many left-wingers reject evolutionary psychology for political, not scientific reasons. The assault on science is coming from all sides, and I warn the readers, if you contribute to this assault, then don't complain when people on the other side of the political spectrum use exactly the same tactics to promulgate false claims.

We are faced with increasingly complex problems, many involving complex science, and if we impose our personal political or religious beliefs upon scientific conclusions, then we will fail to address those problems effectively, and we will fail as a civilization. Or, to put into a sound-bite: admit reality or die.

The second implication of my "render unto" aphorism is that science and policy are two completely different things. Let's be honest here: conservatives reject climate science only because they don't approve of the policy proposals offered to address the problem. In other words, because they don't like the solutions, they deny the problem. This is nonsense! Intellectual integrity demands that you confine your objections to what you find objectionable. If you don't like the policy proposals, argue against those. Don't deny the science because you don't like the policy. You have a sound case that some of the policy options are expensive. Argue the case where you're strong, not where you're weak.

Comment Posted By Oecolampadius On 3.03.2008 @ 10:45

I'd like to commend you, Rick, for a very solid and reasonable analysis of the difficulties in this controversy. I hold an MS in physics and have read the IPCC reports and have a decent grasp of the science. For me, the compelling argument is that basic physics (sophomore level) clearly shows that, if you increase CO2 concentrations, the earth will warm up. However, I will not ask you or anybody to accept that argument, because ultimately you're relying on my testimony -- and nobody should ever accept the scientific opinions of any individual, no matter how much expertise that individual commands.

I do have an argument, however, that I think is compelling. My first suggestion is: block all the noise from the peanut gallery. Ignore Al Gore, people who comment on blogs (myself included!), bloggers, journalists, scientists quoted in the media, and so forth. Ultimately you have only two ways of resolving the dispute in your own mind:

1. Learn the science so that you can understand the issues and draw your own educated conclusions. That will take, at the very least, the equivalent of a BS degree in climate science, meteorology, or physics. That's probably more effort than most people are willing to expend.

2. Find the most reliable source of objective scientific analysis and see what they have to say on the matter. Fortunately, the US Congress realized the need for such an organization about 140 years ago and so established the National Academy of Sciences, and charged it with providing the government with thorough assessments of politically significant scientific issues. Therefore, the NAS bears a relationship to science similar to the Supreme Court's relationship to law: it is the final judge on scientific matters as they relate to political decision-making. However, there are a few differences between the NAS and the Supreme Court:

a. The Supreme Court has 9 judges; the NAS membership consists of hundreds of the most eminent scientists in the country, and it selects those whose expertise most closely matches the needs of any particular problem.

b. The Supreme Court has to resolve a case during its nine month term; the NAS takes as long as it needs to fully evaluate a question, and is constantly re-evaluating the evidence. Sometimes it takes years to render a decision.

c. The Supreme Court will render a final decision on a 5 to 4 vote. The NAS insists on a much higher degree of agreement among the members of its committees before publishing a report.

d. Over the course of its history, the Supreme Court has on a number of occasions issued decisions that are now generally regarded as just plain wrong. The NAS has never issued a report that was subsequently shown to be incorrect. Never. Not once.

Therefore, if you're going to trust anybody, I suggest that you trust the NAS. And what have they said? You can find a quickie summary of their results (a bit dated) here:

Some highlights of that summary:

"Changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly due to human activities." [this from a 2001 report]

"Warming will continue, but its impacts are difficult to project."

"Climate change impacts will be uneven."

As you can see, the NAS summary is really cautious. I strongly urge everybody to read it. There's a lot more stuff on the NAS website, and my own opinion of the material published since that quickie summary was written is that it amounts to "It's worse than we had thought." The evidence just keeps mounting, the models keep getting better, and the projections look worse and worse. But don't take my word for it -- read the stuff yourself.

Comment Posted By Oecolampadius On 2.03.2008 @ 11:48


This is a funny story. No matter how careful you are, when you're a candidate for the Presidency, there's always somebody out there ready to catch you on the slightest mistake. This particular mistake is about as innocent as they come.

Comment Posted By Oecolampadius On 1.03.2008 @ 19:11


Good Lord, Nessus, I am surprised at the prejudice you show. There are a great many Muslims here in the USA making real contributions to our society. One of our Congresscritters is a Muslim. My wife's broken leg was treated by a Muslim doctor (and he did an excellent job with a badly shattered bone). Let's lay off the hate speech, OK?

Comment Posted By Oecolampadius On 1.03.2008 @ 18:28

Rick, I think you've missed a nasty problem for the candidates. If they follow your recommendation and reject the support of nasty people, where do they draw the line between nasty people whose support should be rejected and merely distasteful people whose support can be accepted? If they reject the support of a blatantly racist figure but accept the support of a merely implicitly racist figure, then they'll be accused of insincerity. A candidate needs a rule that doesn't open the door to such accusations.

My own approach to such a situation would be to declare, "It's a free country" when asked about the support of some questionable person. If pressed, I would expand by saying, "I don't judge individuals; I judge ideas. I consider racism in all its forms despicable. I totally reject religious intolerance and hatred for gays." If further pressed, I would say that gossip has no place in politics and that the battleground is one of ideas, not individuals.

Comment Posted By Oecolampadius On 1.03.2008 @ 11:09


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