About w.w.wygart

I don't really look like Schiller on acid, but if you take 500mcg of acid I look exactly like him.

Felix Culpa! – The Happy Error – Academic Freedom and the Pessin Affair at the Augean Stables-Stuck in moderation limbo again


A torrent of scholarship cleanses the Augean Stables [Phi Studios, © 2012]

A torrent of scholarship cleanses the Augean Stables                                         [Phi Studios, © 2012]

I have a couple of comments, apparently stuck in moderation limbo, up at the Augean Stables concerning Prof. Richard Landes’ article My Talk at Connecticut College About the Pessin Affair, and  which I have aggregated below.  This article was a continuation of the discussion of the Pessin Affair which began at the Augean Stables back on July 29, 2015: Salem on Thames, what Connecticut College’s Andrew Pessin teaches us.  A briefer version of the article was published at American Interest on July 30, 2015.

In brief, the Pessin Affair involved the fallout from events at Connecticut College during the Spring of 2015 concerning Philosophy Professor Andrew Pessin.  I give a brief expert of Prof. Landes’ article below for the context.

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An Open Letter to Amanda Marcotte -Towards rising above our own pettiness in the debate on Truth.


The ascent of the happy human [© 2015 Atani Studios]

The ascent of the happy human                                                                          [© 2015 Atani Studios]

 An old acquaintance of mine, a close friend in fact of one of my oldest friends, and someone I still have occasion to converse with in the digisphere, posted a preformatted piece of propaganda on the social media from fellow blogger Amanda Marcotte.

Atheists are routinely asked how people will know not to rape and murder without religion telling them not to do it … When you use this argument, you terrify atheists. We hear you saying that the only thing standing between you and Ted Bundy is a flimsy belief in a supernatural being made up by pre-literated people trying to figure out where the rain came from. This is not very reassuring if you’re trying to argue from a position of moral superiority.” ~ Amanda Marcotte

I’m not going to tell you what I think of Ms. Marcotte, lest you think I am resorting to an ad hominem attack on her but I will tell you what I think of what she wrote.

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Argument from ignorance? – Berlinski on the Question: How in the world could these complex machines and systems have come about without intelligence? – A first look at the question


Warning 64pxAttention:  This is not necessarily an article about Intelligent Design; this is an article about how we think, how we think about scientific propositions, how we think about our own and other people’s thinking and more particularly how the logical fallacy of the Argument from Ignorance can be part of the dynamic.

All of what follows was wrapped around a conversation that was organized around a discussion of Intelligent Design hosted by the Watermark Community Church in Dallas on April 19, 2009 at a forum called The Creation Conversation.  Ok, the building, the host, and the audience were some brand of evangelical Christian, and their ulterior motives were whatever they were, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing for the rest of us to learn from what transpired there, that is if you can be open minded enough to set aside for the moment the place and intentions of that particular conference and learn something from what was said there.

Therefore, we will all be expected to proceed, for the sake of the discussion, as of the subject matter is worth of being treated as a legitimate hypothesis, to be falsified or passed forward to the next round of discussion because it attempts, in good faith, to answer a question that other hypotheses have failed so far to answer:  How in the world could these complex machines and systems have come about without intelligence?

Fair enough?

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THE FOURTH OF JULY – a few days late


Star Flag

A woman sews a star on a United States flag, 1917

In the post-post modern post colonial west, particularly among its disciples in liberal Europe and even aux Etats Unis [such as Hakim Bey] have been busily propagating the idea that the American Revolution of 1776 represented some kind of an anti-colonialist movement that once having achieved a kind of hegemony over the natives decided it no longer needed the protection of the motherland to secure their power rose up against their former masters cast and them off.

This point of view is of course factually and demonstrably false.

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PAGES2K Non-Corrigendum, Which Way is Up? – Disingenuousness or Defective Thinking in Climate Science?


Don't fall behind the power curve    [atani studios ccsa 3.0]

Don’t fall behind the power curve                                                                [atani studios ccsa 3.0]

This is yet another blog article that fell by the wayside as other projects took over, but I had put too much effort into it already to abandon it completely.  So, here it is even if it may no longer be quite as interesting as it might have been a couple of weeks ago – but hopefully still somewhat relevant – or maybe its the other way around.

Over at Steve McIntyre’s Climate Audit, the topic of discussion has moved away from the parsing of the Michael Mann defamation suite and the shenanigans of blog commenter Nick Stokes towards a multi-part discussion of the publication of the recent “non-corrigendum” by the  PAGES2K Arctic Workingroup of a significant revisions to their  PAGES2K Arctic database of paleoclimate data.  The series started with McIntyre’s Revisions to Pages2K Arctic back on October 1st.

The original version of this particular product of the PAGES Consortium had garnered strong criticism at Climate Audit in the past particularly in regards to the inclusion of several contaminated lake sediment proxy series, the use [or misuse] of several series in an orientation that is either ambiguous or inverted to that used by specialists in the field, and a small laundry list of other complaints since it was first published in 2010.  McIntyre said of the publication:

Kaufman and the PAGES2K Arctic2K group recently published a series of major corrections to their database, some of which directly respond to Climate Audit criticism. The resulting reconstruction has been substantially revised with substantially increased medieval warmth. His correction of the contaminated Igaliku series is unfortunately incomplete and other defects remain.

McIntyre goes on in his ensuing series of articles to dissect in great statistical detail precisely what the remaining defects are in the PAGES2k Arctic database, why he thinks it is important that they be corrected as well, and why he thinks a formal corrigendum at the original publishing journal, Nature.com, is warranted – so those errors do not remain “in play” for other scientist to use [or misuse] by continuing to cite them in future research.

All of McIntyre’s reasoning seems reasonable and correct to me – the last and least among the readers who are non-experts at CA.

 

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I Atticus Finch – Too Long for YouTube, again – Putting down a diseased arguement humanely


 [CCSA3.0 Atani Studios]

Operation Frantic: blood on the boarder lands                                     [CCSA3.0 Atani Studios]

Every once in a while I come across something said on the internet that is so egregiously backwards that it requires a reply so equal in incisiveness that it bursts the bounds of the host site’s normal reply mechanism and the social requirement for the polite give and take of civilized netiquette.  So, today you seem to be victim of another Too Long for YouTube breakdown because of some YouTube commenter who’s replies are so rabid in the defense of the Nazi cause I have momentarily let slip good taste – though hopefully not common sense.

At these moments I feel prompted to act in a way like Atticus Finch, in Harprer Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” when the gentleman lawyer is compelled to shoot dead with one well-aimed shot, a hydrophobic dog wandering the streets of his town before it can cause harm any innocent bystander – or itself continue to suffer with its fatal affliction.

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Heyerdahl and Parallel Evolution at the Talkshop


Going with the flow, Heyerdahl and Kon-Tiki

Going with the flow, Heyerdahl and Kon-Tiki

There is a recent post up over at Tallbloke’s Talkshop: Thor Heyerdal: Retrospective on an Adventurous Anthropologist, which charts the man’s life and career on the occasion of the one hundredth anniversary of his birth: October, 6th 1914.

The article at the Talkshop commented at some length on Heyerdal’s various ocean voyages to support his ideas about trans-cultural diffusion over very long ocean distances.

Heyerdahl in particular inspired by his experiences in the south pacific in French Polynesia was possessed by the idea that the similarities between the famous moai figures of Easter Island and certain sculptures of pre-Columbian Peru indicated the possibility that vayagers from Peru encountered the native inhabitants and this was attested to in the oral legends of the islands inhabitants the Rapa Nui.  Examining the possibility of a voyage by ancient Peruvians to Easter Island lead to the famous Kon-Tiki expedition in 1947.

Another, similar, idea that possessed Heyerdahl was that the similarity between the pyramids of the ancient Egyptians and the Mayans indicated a possibility of a previously unrecognized trans-oceanic connection there as well.  This lead to the various Ra expeditions between 1969 and 1970.

I had a comment started which rapidly became too large to post there without blushing, so I posted a much abbreviated version there and the full length analysis below.

Heyerdahl was a hugely determined and brave adventurer, a great man and a great inspiration, but not much of a scientist in my opinion.  Heyerdahl certainly did prove that it was possible for a Norske to build a raft and to drift across two different oceans following the trade winds  – knowing there is someplace to wind up and the possibility of a safe return via boat or aircraft – but not much else in my opinion.

As for embarking on his later quest to effect the transformation the chief of the pantheon of your own culture’s archaic religion to a historical ruler/king somewhere in central Asia, a lot of other people besides Heyerdahl have fallen into that particular folly.

The problem with Heyerdahl’s thinking, and which is pretty common even in academic anthropology and archeology is to mistake a morphological similarity due to parallel evolution with a line of decent – an easy mistake to make.

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In Moderation Limbo – Michael Mann’s legal fictions


 The treason trial of Aaron Burr

The treason trial of Aaron Burr, legal pleadings or legal fictions?

A Comment Lost in Limbo

Steve McIntyre. announced a change in moderation policy a few days ago at his blog Climate Audit in response to the recent Fokker Scourge of blog spam that has been sweeping the blogosphere.  Somehow I seem to have fallen afoul of the new anti-spam procedures, which is ok, but my most recent comment, presently in moderation limbo, awaits the Descensus Christi ad Inferos promised to posts that despite their possible sins, died in friendship with the moderator and await their present resurrection.

Hopefully Steve M. or some kind moderator will notice before the comment becomes completely irreverent – things move quickly in the blogosphere.

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Science Eats Her Young – Consensus vs Correctness, the Scientific vs the Political and the happy news of the unkown unknown


Karl Popper, the godfather of falsifiability [Φ phi studios 2014]

Karl Popper, the godfather of falsifiability                                                           [© phi studios 2014]

There is a new guest article up at Judy Curry’s blog, Climate Etc. by Will Howard titled Appeals to the Climate Consensus Can Give the Wrong Impression that is of particular interest to Meme Merchants because it is both relevant in scientific current affairs and is also relevant generally in the discussion of scientific epistemology in regards to how people generally are supposed to know what the state of the science is at any given moment.

The article was originally posted at The Conversation.  Will Howard is a Research Scientist at University of Melbourne  School of Earth Sciences and is also the Deputy Chair of the Australian National Committee for Antarctic Research.

On the current events front of science, there is a bitter and on-going debate about the supposed scientific consensus regarding anthropogenic global warming due the volume of CO2 emitted by human activity.  The debate rages far and wide about this supposed consensus: what is this consensus actually? how many scientists hold this ‘consensus view’? which scientists [or who’s] really count in the matter?  who should do the counting? who owns the ‘consensus’, and what does all of this mean for the rest of us anyway?

No Meme Merchant is going to settle the debate about the specifics of the consensus about the catastrophic global warming debate – there are lots of places trying to do that – but we would like to take up a very confined look at the “what does all of this mean anyway?” specifically in regards to Mr. Howard’s article – before I launch into a rave about what’s so great about science as a way of knowing.

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The Conspiracy of the Like Minded-truth in data as big lie


The latest hack  [©METoffice 2014]  The official caption: Figure 3: Observed (black, from Hadley Centre, GISS and NCDC) and predicted (blue) global average annual surface temperature difference relative to 1981-2010. Previous predictions starting from November 1960, 1965,... 2005 are shown in red, and 22 Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) model simulations that have not been initialised with observations are shown in green. In all cases, the shading represents the probable range, such that the observations are expected to lie within the shading 90% of the time. The most recent forecast (blue) starts from November 2013. All data are rolling annual mean values. The gap between the black curves and blue shading arises because the last observed value represents the period November 2012 to October 2013 whereas the first forecast period is November 2013 to October 2014.

Fig 1 – The latest hack from the Hadley Centre                                                        [©METoffice 2014]    The official caption:  “Figure 3: Observed (black, from Hadley Centre, GISS and NCDC) and predicted (blue) global average annual surface temperature difference relative to 1981-2010. Previous predictions starting from November 1960, 1965,… 2005 are shown in red, and 22 Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) model simulations that have not been initialised with observations are shown in green. In all cases, the shading represents the probable range, such that the observations are expected to lie within the shading 90% of the time. The most recent forecast (blue) starts from November 2013. All data are rolling annual mean values. The gap between the black curves and blue shading arises because the last observed value represents the period November 2012 to October 2013 whereas the first forecast period is November 2013 to October 2014.”

Update – I’ve added a new figure Fig. 4a below, a version of the AR5 SOD Fig. 1.4 with the “grey swoosh” redacted.

Today, after giving my opinion on the subject of Syria, my sister told me I was being, “Negative, pessimistic, and paranoid” – all possibly true – but being a scientist I am driven to that position by the apprehension of the evidence.

Later in the day I came across the above graphic from the UK MetOffice’s 2014 Decadal Forecast over at Tallbloke’s Talkshop in an article entitled MET- Office: New four year ‘decadal’ forecast spaghetti.  This is what fellow WordPressian Tallbloke had to say:

Ed Hawkins tweeted up  the latest offering from the MET-Office this morning. It’s a “Decadal forecast”, which runs from now to the beginning (not the end, Ed) of 2018. Stop tittering at the back there! But compounding matters, the ‘forecast’ is a spaghetti of similarly coloured lines. I said STOP LAUGHING!

I thought the MET-Office was getting out of doing these longer range forecasts they’ve had so much trouble with them the last many years, not that I pay any attention to them since it seems that Met Office Global Forecasts Too Warm In 13 Of Last 14 Years.  And, if that’s not enough just scratch the surface of this iceberg.

Actually, that wasn’t the very first thing I noticed, what I noticed immediately was the curious way that the graph was constructed, namely that visually the tag end of the graph from 2010 on functions as graph within a graph. Its actually a little like a fractal – self-similarity at different scales  Maybe you noticed that too.

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The Real Scope of the Problem – Energy Access – Iron Age to Modern Age in a single generation – Avoiding the drawbridge mentality


The true scope of the problem  ©Center for Global Development

The true scope of the problem                                                             ©Center for Global Development

FAIR WARNING – you may have some reading to do.  This article is mostly a slim collation of other articles you may want to read if you want to bring yourself up to speed on the subject of ‘energy access’ and energy poverty.

The other day Pielke the Younger unwittingly, handed me the perfect graphic to illustrate the scope of the problem that lies at the crux of the good humored dispute I have been having with Willis Eschenbach from WUWT regarding Willis’s scheme for The Powerhouse School Concept.

The Graph of the Day: Africa Power Needs, at the top of the page originally came to Pielke the Younger from an article titled: How Much Power Does Africa Really Need? by Todd Moss,  Todd is director of the Emerging Africa Project at the Center for Global Development.

Willis’s rural power generation and transmission scheme for the rural poor arose out of his insight that Expensive Energy Kills Poor People, an insight with which I am in total agreement with Willis.  The problem I see with Willis’s scheme is that it doesn’t go far enough to solve the real problem of energy access in the developing world.  I commented at Willis’s article at WUWT and expanded upon that comment here with my article Powerhouse School Project-unintended consequences of what works.

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Fisked by Willis – Further Comments on the PowerHouse School


Pleasant journey in bear country ©tipiman 2001

Pleasant journey in bear country, note the PV pannel on the trailer.                          ©tipiman 2001

I was fisked today [in a gentle way], it was actually a small honor in this case, the author of The Powerhouse School Concept bog post I wrote about yesterday, Willis Eschenbach, did me the honor of taking some of his time to respond to my comment almost point by point. I actually appreciate this kind of critique, and in this case also garnered some appreciation for some of the points I was making and general agreement on others.

As far as I know Willis hasn’t figured out that the ping-backs to his post are coming from here and hasn’t read either of these two posts.  Or, maybe he has better things to do.  Of course he is welcome to comment or guest post here.

I think the greatest bone of contention arose between Willis and I over my insisting on emphasizing the importance of economic development for the adults in his community based scheme, which Willis seemed to interpret as a downplay of his scheme’s educational aspect.  This was not my intent at all.  My intent was to express that both were equally important and that there was a danger of one undermining the other.

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