Brandon S has gone off on Mark Steyn with one of his posts. A while back, Brandon argued that Mann’s suspiciously SLAPP-like litigatory effort should go forward as judge for the case Frederick Weisberg ruled. Weisberg’s narrow focus involved determining whether Steyn’s writings were capable of being defamatory. He ruled ‘yes’ and set another court to determine whether they were defamatory. In other words, hair-splitting on a monumental scale. In normal minds separating the two would be next to impossible. Like showing someone a piece of red paper and asking: “Is this a colour?”
I noticed a new fad. It consists of writing short words and exclamatory sentences broken up into pieces by periods to convey outrage. Here it is in action at Tamino’s blog:
The long Tamino post begins with:
You might already have guessed that this post is not about science, or math, or climate change.
Just a while back, he began another post with:
Before you read further I’ll warn you that this is a rant which has nothing to do with climate science.
Tamino’s long post is on how all men are to be blamed for women feeling unsafe when alone outside at night etc.
David Appell shows examples of Tamino’s misogyny hypocrisy in the comments:
‘Aunt Judy’ refers to Judith Curry. In response, Tamino has a meltdown:
Let’s ask the women who are reading this. Women readers: would you feel safe enough with David Appell to confide in him?
Travel back in his blog and others and there are further examples:
From Hotwhopper, a blog dedicated to fighting ‘sexism on the internet’
Rest assured – these are not the only personal attacks on Curry of this nature. Recall the ‘hoe’ jokes on Katherine Hayhoe.
The headless chicken fallacy
Independent researcher Sami Paju writes why genetically ‘modified’ organisms pose ‘systemic risks’, i.e., creating random mutations and selling them as products could unleash monstrous harm. His contentions are similar to the half-baked nonsense laid out by Rupert Read and Nassim Taleb, i.e., a hoary biological version of Pascal’s wager:
What we are doing with GMOs is effectively playing a lottery …
Paju admits the linchpin of his routine passes through the disseminative potential of global transport and industrialized agriculture, rather than any uniquely destructive capability of the mutants.
Taleb’s version is extended: what exists in nature is essentially stress-tested, what comes into existence new is capable of almost anything, including causing great harm. In the past, harmful genetic variants either killed everything around them or were eliminated. We see lots of things around us, meaning they survived previous murderous mutants. Meaning it was the mutants who were killed off. The style of self-contained nostrum is similar to circular explanations encountered in evolution.
Paju says biotechnology companies that create genetic variants carry little risk themselves but spread the risk of ecological collapse to entire populations. How different are well-settled, wealthy academic Nostradamuses broadcasting doom and catastrophe to everyday people?
Betting on catastrophe is the safest possible bet. The superstitious are drawn to it but the rich can afford it.
I do not wish to pay—or have my descendants pay—for errors by executives of Monsanto. We should exert the precautionary principle there …
Taleb rightly slams biotechnology business for claiming their products to be ‘tested’ and ‘safe’. However, ironically, in using such marketing language companies are responding to a toxic atmosphere of risk aversion perpetrated by people like Taleb.
IPCC science-government chimera
Richard Tol has an excellent synthesis of problems with the IPCC, particularly those connected to the structure of its peer-review system and government involvement. Tol offers solutions. The root cause however lies in historical evolution. Organizations like the IPCC were designed to amplify the cause of a group of committed individuals. Reviewers suborned to authors, science-government chimeras and back-propagated text changes are essential ingredients.
Activist scientists are foolish enough to believe they control the reports’ final text. They think they are trapping governments by letting them swirl fingers in the report and snapping the lids shut (Warning: link to Realclimate):
The SPM process also serves a very useful political purpose. Specifically, it allows the governments involved to feel as though they ‘own’ part of the report. This makes it very difficult to later turn around and dismiss it on the basis that it was all written by someone else.
Cat-and-mouse games with government may enthrall a section of IPCC scientists but it does little good for science. Tol documents how the environment departments of governments, poorly selected scientists, committed green activists and busybodies join hands to bring standards down, as only an insider can.