Climate models

May 29, 2012

The science coverage at Ars Technica (when the subject has political implications) tends to spin left, so I wasn’t too surprised when I read today’s article about two studies of public discourse on climate change and saw that it tried to present the studies in a way that supports the progressive narrative. But reading between the lines, this is what the researchers seem to have found out: opponents of the “climate change” movement spend more time talking about the models that provide the supposed science than supporters do, and the more scientifically literate and numerate people are, the more likely they are to be skeptical about climate change. (Actually, you won’t really get that last from the Ars Technica article. This article just says that conservatives—“hierarchical individualists” in the jargon of the researchers— become more skeptical the more they know, while left-wing types—“egalitarian communitarians”—become less. You’ll have to read The Register’s coverage of the same study to learn that the majority of the scientific and numerate types were right-wing, so that the overall trend was “the more you know, the more skeptical you are.” And maybe some day I’ll write another post on the goofy ways left-wingers try to describe conservatives.)

Anyway, when I read:

This image of models being nothing more than meaningless computer games seems to resonate with some people who, after seeing a clear weather forecast for the weekend, have instead quite literally had it rain on their parades. If we can’t predict the weather a few days in advance, the popular thinking goes, how can we know what climate will be like in 50 years?

it reminded me of something that happened back in college. A semester or two before I graduated, I took an honors biology course. Hans and another physics major (I’m not sure I remember her name) were in the same class, and we always used to give the professor a hard time about Biology not being a “real” science like Physics. Anyway, one day he came in really exited about some other scientist’s work on a theory about ecology. He went on and on about how great it was, culminating with, “and he’s even done Computer Simulations!” So I raised my hand and said, “Last night I did a computer simulation. I killed 40 Klingons.”

The great thing about computers is you can model almost anything. The test, as far as science is concerned, is not that a group of scientists has reached a consensus that the models are the bees’ knees, it’s that the models predict things that are subsequently verified by reality. “If we can’t predict the weather a few days in advance how can we know what climate will be like in 50 years?” is actually a good question, and “We’re scientists, and we say so,” isn’t really a good answer. If the climate models had a track record of accurately predicting climate that would be one thing, but no one seems to be claiming that. Until they do, I’ll remain skeptical.

It’s been a while since I linked to Walter Russell Mead (and I’ve been meaning to post this for over a week) but I thought this was particularly good: The BBC and “The Jews”

Via Meadia spends quite a bit of time calling attention to the ominous rise of anti-Semitism around the world. It isn’t because we think that anti-Semitism is the only form of hate and bigotry in the world, or that we think that it is more important to fight prejudice against Jews than prejudice against other people. But anti-Semitism, besides being on the ascent at times when many other forms of hatred are mostly on the back foot, is particularly dangerous, and not just because of what anti-Semitism can do and has done to the Jews.

The rise of anti-Semitism is a sign of widespread social and cultural failure. It is a leading indicator of a loss of faith in liberal values and of a diminished capacity to understand the modern world and to thrive in it. Societies that tolerate anti-Semitism take a fateful step toward the loss of both freedom and prosperity. People who think “the Jews” run the banks lose the ability to understand, much less to operate financial systems. People who think “the Jews” dominate business through hidden structures can’t build or long maintain a successful modern economy. People who think “the Jews” dominate politics lose their ability to interpret political events, to diagnose social evils and to organize effectively for positive change. People who think “the Jews” run the media and control the news lose the ability to grasp what is happening around them. And people who think “the Jews” control America’s Middle Eastern policy lose the ability to understand, much less to influence, American policy in this vital part of the world. Emancipation from anti-Semitism is thus one of the necessary steps that many individuals and cultures have to take before they are able to act effectively and participate meaningfully in contemporary life.

If the rise of anti-semitism isn’t bad enough, read this and this. Attempted intimidation like this can’t be allowed to continue.

Scotty in orbit

May 22, 2012

Star Trek’s Scotty boldly goes where he always wanted to

By all accounts James Doohan was a great guy. May he orbit in peace.

Sam again

May 5, 2012

I tried to post this on the bus going to work, but the wi-fi wasn’t up to it. Anyway, here’s what he had to say this week:

Hey Y’all and a special howdy to Daniel for emailing his own thing.

We had exchanges with the district leader on Wednesday. This time I went with the DL’s comp into their area. They cover the Swahili branches in the valley so that was fun. We dropped by this lady at work and it turns out her vending machine was broken. She had spent the last 8 hour trying to fix it and we figured it out in 20 min. In thanks she gave us a couple of drinks.

Yesterday we taught in a combined priesthood and relief society class. Then the ward mission leader came up after us. His lesson was titled “doing missionary work the hard way.” I really liked it. He basically said to bring people to the gospel there are three things involved. You have to respect their Agency, have Charity, and bring the Spirit. That’s basically what the mission has been talking about this whole time.

Then we hurried over to help teach a combined YM/YW group in one of our focus wards. That was pretty good too.

So, I’m planning on talking with Pres about maybe Skyping on mothers day, but don’t plan on it yet.

Gotta go. I love y’all.