FM newswire for 12 February, articles for your morning reading

Today’s links to interesting news and analysis.  If you find this useful, pass it to a friend or colleague.  First, the regular news:

  1. A conservative visits the Tea Party Convention:  “Black Helicopters Over Nashville“, Jonathan Kay (Editor at Canada’s National Post), Newsweek, 9 February 2010 — “Never mind Sarah Palin and the tricornered hats. The tea-party movement is dominated by conspiracist kooks.”
  2. Nobel laureate Krugman: ‘Dark age of macroeconomics’ is upon us“, MIT News, 9 February 2010
  3. News from the front of the culture war:  “Menace in mad march of the thought police“, The Australian, 10 February 2010 — “The dark spectre of illiberalism is slowly poisoning Western liberal democracies.”
  4. There have been rumors about this, going back to the S&L crisis:  “The Great Highway Robbery Continues: How The FDIC Is Legally Transferring Billions In Taxpayer Money To Hedge Funds“, Zero Hedge, 10 February 2010

Updates in the climate wars, as the heat builds on the leaders of the global warming crusade:

  1. Today’s must-read article:  “Plausibility and the blogosphere in the post-normal age“, Jerome Ravetz (Prof Philosophy of Science, Oxford), Watts Up with That, 9 February 2010
  2. Suddenly things the sceptics have said for years have become respectable (but they themselves have not):  “If you’re going to do good science, release the computer code too“, The Guardian, 5 February 2010 — “Programs do more and more scientific work – but you need to be able to check them as well as the original data, as the recent row over climate change documentation shows”
  3. Fact and fiction about global warming:  “Climate Götterdämmerung“, The Editors, National Review, 10 February 2010 — Many of these quotes are unattributed, hence probably lies.  We love lies, which is why people write so many of them.
  4. Disturbing research, but not new:  “Climate ‘Tipping Points’ May Arrive Without Warning, Says Top Forecaster“, ScienceDaily, 10 February 2010
  5. The paper discussed above: “Regime shifts in ecological systems can occur with no warning“, Alan Hastings et al, Ecology Letters, 10 February 2010
  6. Now even the fools who rely on the US media for their news learn about the IPCC chapter of ClimateGate:  “AP Story Breaks US Media Wall of Denial on IPCC Mess; Al Gore Still Silent“, Walter Russell Mead (Council on Foreign Relations, bio), The American Interest Online, 10 February 2010 — “While the American press is still reporting the basic news, the (strongly environmentalist and center-left) Guardian is asking experts around the world how the IPCC can be fixed. Hint to the American press: this, guys, is what journalism looks like.”
  7. More IPCC fabrications:  “IPCC burned on claim of wildfires affecting Canadian tourism“, ClimateQuotes, 10 February 2010
  8. More fruits from ClimateGate:  “IPCC: cherish it, tweak it or scrap it?“, op-ed in Nature, 11 February 2010
  9. If you don’t have a subscription, see this:  “Scientists say IPCC should be overhauled or scrapped“, The Australian, 11 February 2010

Today’s Special Features:

(A)  Good advice from Karl Popper, a disinfectant to propaganda
(B)  A horrible, chilling, probably false Quote of the Day from Senator Tim Wirth.

(A)  Good advice from Karl Popper, a disinfectant to propaganda

“Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve.”
— Karl Popper, Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach (1972)

(B)  A horrible, chilling, probably false quote of the Day from Senator Tim Wirth

As Senator Timothy Wirth (D-Colo.) put it: “We’ve got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing, in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.”
— From Science Under Siege: Balancing Technology and the Environment, Michael Fumento (1993)

Fumento makes no mention of when or where Wirth allegedly said this.  No citation for the quote.   Does Fumento believe us to be morons, uncritically accepting any fodder put into our trough?  Perhaps so.  This quote has sixteen thousand hits on Google; and appears often in sceptics’ articles about global warming.


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5 thoughts on “FM newswire for 12 February, articles for your morning reading”

  1. “It was a period, Krugman suggested, that was especially dismal not merely due to, say, rampant barbarism, but because it constituted an intellectual reversal: “In the Dark Ages, people forgot what the Greeks and Romans had learned.” ”

    Were the dark ages bad? I recall watching Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives (UK) and he explained that it wasn’t all that bad. 70 days of work went to the king and the rest was left to you. not bad. I think that 19.5%.
    FM reply: A comparision might make this clearer. Life for the upper and middle classes of Rome was in many ways similar to that of those in 1800 of London; in some respects (clean water for drinking and bathing) similar to those of 1900. Think of losing all that, going back to substance farming. I doubt you would take such a loss with such complacency.

  2. FM, I think the apparent abrupt change from Pax Romana to Dark Age is a bit exagerrated, as I’m sure you’d agree. I think certainly the majority of people didn’t notice much of a difference, other than maybe they got new bosses over a period of time. Heck, from the Atlantic to the Rhine the language didn’t change from the Vulgar Latin used.
    But I do see the point of the article and the terms used are in common usage.
    FM reply: I agree completely, as you added two key qualifiers: “abrupt” and “majority of people.” The transition took place over several generations (radiating from the frontiers inwards), and afftected the upper and middle classes far more than the bulk of the population (e.g., slaves on farms). But for the upper and middle classes (we have records almost entirely about them), the change was so immense that’s its burned into our culture. Such as the echo memory that the past was grander than today, which is almost false in every way.

    For some numbers about this see “How Prosperous were the Romans? Evidence from Diocletian’s Price Edict (301 AD)“, Robert C. Allen (Dept of Economics, Oxford), October 2007 — Abstract:

    The paper compares the standard of living of labourers in the Roman Empire in 301 AD with the standard of living of labourers in Europe and Asia from the middle ages to the industrial revolution. Roman data are drawn from Diocletian’s Price Edict. The real wage of Roman workers was like that of their counterparts in the lagging parts of Europe and much of Asia in the middle of the eighteenth century. Roman workers earned just enough to buy a minimal subsistence consumption basket. Real wages were considerably higher in the advanced parts of Europe in the eighteenth century, as they had been in Europe generally following the Black Death in 1348-9.

  3. I’m not sure I find your global warming quote as chilling as you do. To the extent that such warming is measurable, it seems to be happening. (Whether this measured amount is “caused” by the behavior of mankind is another story, of course, probably impossible to determine.) Nevertheless, this seems to be a sort of faith, or “great idea”, around which many people wish to rally. It reminds me of the Gothic cathedrals, also built on some faith impossible to substantiate, and yet worthy of our admiration all the same. So, if a faith in global warming inspires innovation in energy production and efficiency in consumption, what’s wrong with that? As Popper points out, if the theory –that global warming is incorrect theory– is the only one that is correct, then perhaps you are misunderstanding the problem it was intended to solve. People need something to believe in. There is knowing, but there is also believing.
    FM reply: Thank you for calling to my attention that this was poorly written (I just tweaked it for greater clarity). The quote is unsourced, and hence IMO should be considered false. It is widely quoted as something significant (I described it as “chilling”, a bad pun), by credulous people who measure truth by how well it matches their beliefs.

  4. I think the so called Dark Age was only a European thing . The rest of the world were getting on with science , trade , conquests , and stuff.

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