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Making Rulers Uncomfortable

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One of my favorite blog postings this year is The Left is Too Smart to Fail by Daniel Greenfield at Sultan Knish.  Science is for Stupid People is equally worthy and an excellent companion piece to the first article.

Excerpts:

Science, the magic of the secular age, is their church. But science isn’t anyone’s church. Science is much better at disproving things than at proving them. It’s a useful tool for skeptics, but a dangerous tool for rulers. Like art, science is inherently subversive and like art, when it’s restricted and controlled, it stops being interesting. 

But manufactured intelligence has the same relationship to intelligence as a painting of the ocean does to the real thing.

The real ocean is complicated and messy. So is real intelligence. Manufactured intelligence is the fashion model playing a genius in a movie. Real intelligence is an awkward man obsessing over a handful of ideas, some of them ridiculously wrong, but one of which will change the world.

Real intelligence isn’t marketable because it doesn’t make an elite feel good about its power.

Biblical fake prophets were often preferred to real prophets because they made rulers feel comfortable about the future. The modern technoprophet assures a secular elite that it can effectively control people and that it even has the obligation to do so. It tells them that “science” is on their side.The easy way to tell real religion from fake religion is that real religion doesn’t make you feel good. It doesn’t assure you that everything you’re doing is right and that you ought to keep on doing it.

The same holds true for science. Real science doesn’t make you feel smart. Fake science does.

No matter how smart you think you are, real science will make you feel stupid far more often than it will make you feel smart. Real science not only tells us how much more we don’t know than we know, a state of affairs that will continue for all of human history, but it tells us how fragile the knowledge that we have gained is, how prone we are to making childish mistakes and allowing our biases to think for us.

Science is a rigorous way of making fewer mistakes. It’s not very useful to people who already know everything. Science is for stupid people who know how much they don’t know.

A look back at the march of science doesn’t show an even line of progress led by smooth-talking popularizers who are never wrong. Instead the cabinets of science are full of oddballs, unqualified, jealous, obsessed and eccentric, whose pivotal discoveries sometimes came about by accident. Science, like so much of human accomplishment, often depended on lucky accidents to provide a result that could then be isolated and systematized into a useful understanding of the process.

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The Impact of Government Distrust

From Jeff Carter at Points and Figures, Ebola Helping the Market Break

Excerpt:

ISIS is on the march trying to erect a Muslim caliphate.  Putin is taking back the Soviet empire, brick by brick and biding his time.  Obama’s White House has had scandal after scandal.  Crony capitalism will do that for you.  Our southern border is more porous than usual.   Meanwhile, Obama is disengaged, and doesn’t have the will to crush opposition because he doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism.  The American media, try as they might, cannot sweep it all under the rug because the wave of bad news on virtually every front is overwhelming like a tsunami.

Except, the market has known the above facts for a while.  The only new fly in the ointment is the spread of Ebola out of west Africa and onto the US continent.   Where it stops no one knows.  But the American governmental bureaucracy is unable to function to do anything about it.  More spending isn’t going to make it function any better.

I believe that general lack of confidence in the American bureaucracy (not Congress) to do anything worthwhile has also seeped into the market.  If we were confident, we wouldn’t be that worried about things like Ebola.  Butwe know that the government bureaucracy, processes, paperwork, and shiftlessness cannot do anything to help.  Only people exercising individual liberty and critical thought can save us now.

Government doesn’t always do what’s best for you. It does what’s best for government. The Ebola scare will continue, and the market will continue to get spooked. As soon as things get under control, the market will stabilize.

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Welcome to Civilization

rickperry

From Rick Perry Speaks in London in The Washington Post by Jennifer Rubin

Excerpt:

The hatreds of unassimilated radicals only draw further attention to anti-Semitism in general.  It’s a familiar problem in a new time. In Europe it ranges as in times past from thuggish abuse to desecration to commentaries on Israel that cover crude dislike in the veneer of respectable opinion. There is a way to deal with anti-Semitism, and it’s not by smiling politely and hoping that it goes away. The full force of law, when people and property are harmed, is only the most obvious response. Just as important is what Chancellor Merkel did a few weeks ago, to her great credit, when she called this sin by its name. She has stated in confident, unmistakable terms that tolerance ends where anti-Semitism begins. It shaped Europe’s past, in ways that everyone regrets and no nation can afford to let it shape Europe’s future.

But to every extremist, it has to be made clear: We will not allow you to exploit our tolerance, so that you can import your intolerance. We will not let you destroy our peace with your violent ideas. If you expect to live among us and yet plan against us to receive the protections and comforts of a free society while showing none of its virtues or graces then you can have our answer now:  No, not on our watch! You will live by exactly the standards that the rest of us live by. And if that comes as jarring news then welcome to civilization.

tips to Instapundit

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Sensitivity to Contradiction

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from The Global Warming Statistical Meltdown by Judith Curry in The Wall Street Journal

Excerpts:

Human-caused warming depends not only on increases in greenhouse gases but also on how “sensitive” the climate is to these increases. Climate sensitivity is defined as the global surface warming that occurs when the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere doubles. If climate sensitivity is high, then we can expect substantial warming in the coming century as emissions continue to increase. If climate sensitivity is low, then future warming will be substantially lower, and it may be several generations before we reach what the U.N. considers a dangerous level, even with high emissions.

We also estimated what the long-term warming from a doubling of carbon-dioxide concentrations would be, once the deep ocean had warmed up. Our estimates of sensitivity, both over a 70-year time-frame and long term, are far lower than the average values of sensitivity determined from global climate models that are used for warming projections. Also our ranges are narrower, with far lower upper limits than reported by the IPCC’s latest report. Even our upper limits lie below the average values of climate models.

Our paper is not an outlier. More than a dozen other observation-based studies have found climate sensitivity values lower than those determined using global climate models, including recent papers published in Environmentrics (2012),Nature Geoscience(2013) and Earth Systems Dynamics (2014). These new climate sensitivity estimates add to the growing evidence that climate models are running “too hot.” Moreover, the estimates in these empirical studies are being borne out by the much-discussed “pause” or “hiatus” in global warming—the period since 1998 during which global average surface temperatures have not significantly increased.

The sensitivity of the climate to increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide is a central question in the debate on the appropriate policy response to increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Climate sensitivity and estimates of its uncertainty are key inputs into the economic models that drive cost-benefit analyses and estimates of the social cost of carbon.

Continuing to rely on climate-model warming projections based on high, model-derived values of climate sensitivity skews the cost-benefit analyses and estimates of the social cost of carbon. This can bias policy decisions. The implications of the lower values of climate sensitivity in our paper, as well as similar other recent studies, is that human-caused warming near the end of the 21st century should be less than the 2-degrees-Celsius “danger” level for all but the IPCC’s most extreme emission scenario.

This slower rate of warming—relative to climate model projections—means there is less urgency to phase out greenhouse gas emissions now, and more time to find ways to decarbonize the economy affordably. It also allows us the flexibility to revise our policies as further information becomes available.

HKO

Reliance on models has created a delusional sense of urgency.  When so much effort has been devoted to models for so long it is human nature for the designers of the models to develop defensiveness to facts that contradict them.

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Kovacevich on the Financial Crisis

Richard Kovacevich writes for Cato,  The Financial Crisis: Why The Conventional Wisdom is Wrong

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