Comments Posted By glasnost
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The scenario you describe here, that you think is true, is definitely more realistic than say, Michelle Malkin's point of view. And if this was reality, I wouldn't find it incredible. But in fact, you're still not quite right, or rather this story is even less true than your halfway version. Not only does this not demonstrate a global conspiracy or that global warming is false, it doesn't even demonstrate bad scientific method on the part of so much as one scientist.

See here:

Since you're likely to reject the source out of hand, allow me to quote:

A common exercise in any intro statistic class is to split the students into two groups, one group flips a coin 100 times and records the results, another just makes 100 entries up off the top of their heads. The teacher then comes back, looks at the two lists, and usually identifies which is which with hardly a glance. How? The trick is the teacher knows that on the real list, there will be several sequences of four or five in a row of all heads or all tails, whereas on the other list students will tend to stick with a more heads-tails-heads-tails alternating approach.

Now, everyone knew what I meant just now when I wrote trick, right? Nothing deceitful, simply the method used to get an answer to a math problem. With that in mind, let's look at this 1999 email purporting to be evidence of fraud among some climate scientists:

"I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (i.e., from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline."

The email is one of thousands sent over a period of ten years by climate researchers and other scientists, journalists, lobbyists, and the occasional flake, stolen from a university network a few days ago. DeSmogBlog has more on the theft. Obviously, emails don't change the observed reality of human assisted climate change in the cryosphere and elsewhere. Nevertheless, climate change denialists have combed through them looking for anything they can pull out of context and pass off as evidence of a global conspiracy. They're getting some media mileage out of it. Even though, so far, the best they've been able to come up with is examples like the above.

The "Mike" is Michael Mann, "hide" means to account for (See also this comment), and the trick referred to is how to resolve a question involving two sets of data. One set is the "real" actual temperature readings, the other is by proxy, tree-rings, corals, ice cores and the like. When reconstructing the temperature record going back a thousand years or more, proxies are all you get -- there were no super accurate thermometers handily placed around the globe during medieval times! But proxies only give an approximation, hence the large variance in the now familiar reconstruction graph affectionately known as the Hockey Stick represented below as shading around the blue and red lines.

But as time rolls by, and proxy data become more plentiful, the error bars (i.e. the variable shading) shrink. Eventually, thanks to the invention of modern thermometers and ships to carry them, precise temperature readings from all over the world become more widely available and increasingly reliable, and there is a relatively short interval where both the proxy reconstruction (blue) and the instrumental record (red) are used. The proxy record ends (1980), but the instrumental record continues through 1999. That was the issue being discussed in the emails: why end the plot in 1980 when there's instrumental data through the 90s? In the original 1998 paper published in Nature, Mann et al showed the instrumental data through the 1990s to complete the plot. The emailer was following suit in his own work. That's "Mike's Nature trick". It really is that simple.

Moreover, both instrumental and proxy records were clearly labeled and delineated in the original papers and many since, so there was no opportunity for any ambiguity as to what was being shown. It makes sense that "Mike" Mann would be mentioned, he has worked extensively with both kinds of data, actual and proxy, and was one of the original paleo-climatologist who developed the Hockey Stick using them. The email is just a tiny snippet of several colleagues in the midst of discussing these points and others.

How hard was it to figure this out? Anyone could have done it, assuming they wanted to. Just like any competent reporter, I asked the people involved, including Prof. Mann:

I've quoted almost the whole thing, because I don't know how to cut it down while keeping its sense intact.

But this is, by far, the most logical explanation for the email gotchas. Your first quote hints at that, but this is a more complete explanation.

I don't know much about the story in your second quote, but I'm not sold on the fact that McIntyre's analysis really debunked anything.

There's nothing wrong with releasing underlying data, but there are undoubtedly several ways to misinterpret such underlying data so as to convince yourself and others that the scientist is a fraud, when is in fact following something like the kind of standard error correction practice that is widely accepted in his discipline as **part of the scientific method**. Most raw data sets tell no one anything at all about anything until, as part of the experiment, they are filtered according to some kind of experimentally derived, theory-based procedure. that process is most of what we call science.

Comment Posted By glasnost On 22.11.2009 @ 22:25



I'm kind of surprised that Pajamas Media tolerates your heresy. That's now how I had them pegged.

Comment Posted By glasnost On 22.11.2009 @ 16:06


Not only that, but if congress "scrapped" this bill, your conservative movement would howl at the moon and convince the media that this means the public hates democrats, health care reform, and risks, and that they have no chance of passing another bill. Why would they? Scrapping a bill is interepreted as evidence that you are weak, and is also assumed to weaken you itself even further. Add on the ticking clock until the Midterms, and you know there'd be poor chances of another bill passing.

And if Republicans gain even one Senate seat, health care reform is dead until a Republican is in the White House - and they will of course go on to fuck it up (TAX BREAKS FIX EVERYTHING YAYYY!). The R Party isn't filibustering this because of principle - they're filibustering to prevent the President from any law people might like passing while he's in office.

This is the only shot. There won't be another. (Realistically, if a Republican Party did anything to deal with spending, they would scrap Medicaid).

Comment Posted By glasnost On 20.10.2009 @ 21:42


I thought this was a pretty interesting post. I've noticed that you're quickest to comment in here when someone takes an assholish tone. I've done that. (Not that you're a resevoir of gentility either - not that you're obligated to be, nor am I) Anyway, the preamble here is an alternative to try to draw you to answer, instead of anger.

That's not really why I'm doing it - this post also just doesn't anger me. I get angry at intellectual dishonesty and blithe dismissal of serious problems - which is most of what conservatives offer on health care. Tax breaks or HSA's don't do jack diddly for low-income (but above Medicaid) folks. We pay little federal income tax anyway (although we pay plenty of state and local taxes & payroll taxes). There's nowhere near enough income taxes left to do a dime's worth of difference on health care costs that will instantly bankrupt us.

You've admitted the problem, which is a good start. I thought you were as ignorant on this issue as most conservatives when I commented on this last time - you demonstrated that I was wrong.

So you know some things, but you make inexplicably weak arguments.

How can you base how messy a bill this is on its length? It's a complete straw man. The Senate doesn't write legislation in this manner because making your bill 1000 pages long is fun. They do it because if you don't dot every I and cross every T, the law will be nullified by smart lawyers in 300-page court decisions. Or, in the exact opposite of your suggestion, it will be forced by not being 1000 pages to fail to explain how it should be reconciled with previous 1000-page bills. THAT!! is the moment when the law's intent can be most easily manipulated by bureaucrats.

However, thank you for, again, breaking with dishonesty and bullshit by not avoiding the truth that Reagan's tax bill was 1000 pages long. It may have been a bad bill (I don't even know if you're reffering to the 1981 one or the 1986 reform, which most people think was pretty good), but its length had nothing to do with the massively deficit-introducing consequences. Nor did, for the most part, the favor-trading. The deficit exploded because he cut federal revenue by massive amounts while growing government spending faster than Jimmy Carter. Everything else is trivia.

So that argument makes no sense.

Furthermore, a bill like the one you support would ALSO have to go through this "highly confusing" process wherein Nancy Pelosi picks the bill she wants, Max Baucus rewrites the bill that makes you happy, and then they have to negotiate something in between while handing out the favors to compensate for their compromises.

If you don't like it - I'm not thrilled with it myself. My suggestion would be to abolish the Senate and move to a unicameral legislature. Otherwise, every bill will be subject to the exact same twists.

By the way, there's no way the Baucus bill is "dead in the water" unless "dead in the water" means "going to pass with at least half its provisions intact" or even "going to pass almost exactly as written, with some extra revenue chunks and perhaps a mediocre public option.

So, in conclusion - reasonable background view, but I don't get the argument. You know, if you settled for being a conservative Democrat, you wouldn't have to come up with complicated reasons to be angry at things you basically support.

You know as well as I do that most of the things you want out of healthcare reform are both in the Baucus bill and will be in the final version.

The only place you really disagree with a liberal like myself is the public option.
Your argument there is also very poor. I actually don't like government for the sake of government, but there is absolutely no other way to provide any relevant competition in the market whatsoever.

Every state in the country is dominated by a near-monopoly or an oligopolistic cartel in the insurance market. For Pete's sake, there's an antitrust exemption, how else could it be?? Furthermore, the nature of risk pooling and the infinite advantage to scale in net liquid assets means that insurance should naturally be an, um, extremely uncompetitive market.

Futhermore, it's also incredibly inelastic. When your health is seriously threatened, you must take the services. There's no way to make demand fall, so prices can't decline.

If you don't get the insanely rapid rise in private health care costs to fall, you will never, ever, ever get Medicare costs under control. If Medicare payments get too far behind the private sector, the distribution network will collapse. Your choices are a) scrap Medicare or b) kill the constant rise in private health care and health insurance costs (200% in the last 10 years, I believe).

This bill is your only chance at that. The excise tax is a good start. A public option is a better one. The first one is a direct financial penalty to high costs. The second bands the un- and self-employed into an effectively organized interest group in a way that they will, never, ever, ever be able to do on their own.

How in the heck can you talk about the need to get Medicare costs under control, and not side with a bill cutting $400 billion out of Medicare?

Comment Posted By glasnost On 20.10.2009 @ 21:32


I’m not sure if it is possible to reintegrate these concepts into learning. My understanding of current education theory is that the very idea of critical thinking is seen as perpetrating the white power structure by brainwashing children to think only one way and not put “context” into their thinking. That “context” includes placing witch doctors on the same scientific level with western medical doctors. They aren’t superstitious practioners of pseudo medicine (despite the salutary effects of some herbal applications whose effects they ascribe to the supernatural), but rather they should be viewed as objectively on par with real doctors.

The first half of this post was pretty good - but your take on educational theory is a fantasy. Critical thinking = perpetuating the 'white power structure'? How many teachers do you claim hold this view? If 30 million teachers were all radical leftists - and we're talking something so fringe-y as to make Atrios seem like David Frum - wouldn't Dennis Kucinich have done better in the 2008 primary? Do you think Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama believe that critical thinking = "white power", and more importantly, is that how they rose to popularity?

Teachers are ordinary people. Educational theory does not have the power to conduct mass brainwashing.

Crazy stories are popular because people have no capacity to tell falsehoods from truth and because critical thinking is a genuinely hard thing that most people will fail at often enough to be non-unusual. No country on earth has ever been uneducated enough to avoid massive ignorance outbreaks, and none ever will.

If you spend a lot of money, or just try really really hard, for a long time, to tell people anything, singificant numbers of them will believe you.

Comment Posted By glasnost On 20.10.2009 @ 21:58


Big Business does not reduce profit, they pass costs on to consumers.

As an axiom, this is an absurd statement. If it was completely true, no profit margin of any company would ever fall throughout the history of its existence.

Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don't. And that doesn't even get into situations where the costs of such a regulation are equaled by the reduction of costs *somwhere else*!!!, with neither margins *or* net prices changing at all.

Please be so kind as to never throw around this dumb bullshit as an axiom again. Thanks.

Comment Posted By glasnost On 27.09.2009 @ 13:29

I don't know what you're smoking, Rich, but I don't want any of it. In order to make any version of this story - a completely legit and important story, which is, as follows:

"Textbook Example - Young Photogenic Cute Person Dies from Preventable Sickness B/C She Was Afraid of the Expense Of Treatment, While Her Local Politician Fights To Kill Laws That Would Help Her"

Then it has to be a someone who doesn't actually support health care reform. If it was in Nancy Pelosi's district, than the story would have to be either

"Cute girl Dies While Politician Fights To Make Sure Fewer People Die For The Same Reasons".

Which is a less interesting story. Controversy sells, man.

Anyway, what exactly are you worked up about? They went wayyyyyyy easy on Boehner. They hardly used language like a Malkin, or even like you. They mentioned the fact that she was in Boehner's district, and they pointed out that he doesn't support something that threatens his citizens. If said Malkin runs - and she would, in a heartbeat - a report about how Nancy Pelosi doesn't support some legislation to go deport Mexicans while Mexicans are out in San Fran mugging and raping her citizens - I would trash her for unfairly singling out Mexicans, for not looking at Pelosi's good reasons for not wanting to deport Mexicans, yada yada, but the basic argument "politician resists law meant to fix problems suffered by his constituents" is in no way out of bounds. Nor could it be out of bounds. Nor *should* it be out of bounds. That's, um, the essence of journalism.

You're way out of line. It may have set you off, but that doesn't make you right to be set off. Politicans kill laws that would save people's lives all the time, sometimes even for perfectly defensible reasons. It's ugly to point it out, but it's perfectly legitimate. Real life is ugly, and in real life we all let people die because we don't give a damn. Let Boehner take it like a man.

Comment Posted By glasnost On 26.09.2009 @ 21:08


My italics are in error. Sorry.

Comment Posted By glasnost On 15.09.2009 @ 17:28


Let me try to be polite here. I'd rather engage your connections to reality than slam you for being late to the party.

You've got some pieces of the puzzle. Here are some you're missing:

#1. There is no constituency for large cuts in government spending. Most popular supporters of "small-government" do not support cuts to the things they personally like and benefit from. Many people are in favor of cutting everyone else's pet projects, but that's about it.

#2. The only exception to the above is in a genuine crisis with no other possible solution. Until then, politicians who support massive cuts in most circumstances will not be elected. You want an example, look at Clinton's re-election on the strength of shutting down Republican attempts to kill entire Cabinet departments.

#3. Where do you get this?

Also conversely, any claim Dems had to fiscal responsibility went out the window with Obama. You can argue recession all you want but we didn’t need an $800 billion stim bill, nor 8,000 earmarks in the supplemental, or the rest to come.

Is this an honest or deep assessment? We didn't need the 800$ billion stim bill? Do you want to see my collection of links from mainstream economists stating that the stimulus bill is keeping the economy afloat? This is the farthest thing in the world from rocket science. Q1 GDP - down 6% annualized. Private spending is the Titanic. Q2: Down 1%. Private spending down about the same, government spending up, filling the gap between -1 and -6. These are not precise but absolutely the gist. Do you doubt me? Do you think I'm bluffing?

And the "earmarks" in the appropriations - you can tell the difference between "Congress" and "Obama", so what are you on about? Do you have something tying Obama to those earmarks? Can you demonstrate that they're Democratic earmarks and that Repubs have abstained? Furthermore, has you ever read any of the pieces making the accurate point that an "earmark" is just a piece of ordinary, programmed spending directed by Congresspersons to a specific target? You do know that just because a Congressman allocates it somewhere, you haven't in anyway demonstrated "waste", right?

You'd think you'd have learned this back when Bobby Jindal got humiliated using "volcano monitoring" as an example of "government waste" in such a bill days before a large volcano unexpectedly blew up in Alaska.

You pay attention to some things, some times, like discriminating between fine details. Why not here too?

At least you've absorbed that the bank bailout was signed by George W. Bush. That was also neccessary, although done in an ugly and corrupt manner imaginable. Thanks, Henry Paulson, Republican!

Comment Posted By glasnost On 15.09.2009 @ 17:27


A traffic camera, eh? We'll see.

Comment Posted By glasnost On 16.09.2009 @ 04:40


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