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Sandpit

August 27th, 2012

A new sandpit for long side discussions, idees fixes and so on.

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  1. August 27th, 2012 at 11:22 | #1

    With the (barely reported) news of the all-time record Arctic sea ice melt, I came across a great essay from Alex Carey from 1976 about “Pragmatism & Propaganda”.

    It’s a few thousand words but I found it nailed some key reasons for so many of the world’s problems today. Highly recommend it.

    This part about the concept of “truth”:

    “Dewey similarly holds that beliefs should be distinguished as ‘good’ and ‘bad’, not as `true’ and ‘false’. Beliefs are good if believing them has beneficial consequences.[5] ‘Facts’ do not exist for Dewey, Bertrand Russell observes, ‘in the sense that “facts” are stubborn and cannot be manipulated’.[6] For Dewey proposed to replace the notion of truth with the notion of ‘warranted assertibility’.[7] Any belief which can be claimed to bring useful consequences may acquire ‘warranted assertibility’ on that ground alone.”

    People often question/argue whether climate change deniers with megaphones (eg: Bolt) are ‘dishonest’ or ‘stupid’, but reading this essay I reckon that is the wrong way to look at what they are doing:

    “There is a remarkable correspondence in attitude to truth between pragmatists and propagandists. Both justify the promotion of false beliefs wherever it is supposed that false beliefs have socially useful consequences. Indeed the principal difference between them consists perhaps in this: the ordinary propagandist may know that he is telling lies, but the pragmatist-propagandist, having redefined truth to make it indistinguishable from propaganda, is likely to become inescapably trapped in the supposedly ‘useful’ deceptions and illusions he approves as ‘warranted assertibilities’.”

    So these people are much better described as “pragmatist-propagandists” in the sense Carey uses it.

    Here’s a link to the essay:

    http://fanonite.org/2008/02/21/pragmatists-and-propagandists-in-america/

  2. Ikonoclast
    August 27th, 2012 at 11:58 | #2

    The search for objective, verifiable truth must be our highest value after the necessary a priori assumption or starting axiom that our own and all other human lives have prime and equal value in the human social/civilizational context.

    It is not possible to decide what is good or bad for humans (life affirming or life destroying) without being able to decide objective, verifiable truths.

  3. Troy Prideaux
    August 29th, 2012 at 10:18 | #3

    At last, a good night for MSM free-to-air TV last night. Both Dateline and Lateline well above par. I was particularly impressed with Emma Alberici’s questions to Penny Wong re the future of our trade and exactly where the blazes our national trade income will come from. I don’t often yell questions at the TV during an interview and it’s even rarer that the interviewer would subsequently ask exactly those questions straight after me yelling them :)

  4. September 1st, 2012 at 11:21 | #4

    Well the REP party got one thing right: Dirty Harry bought the house down.

    I thought his interview with an empty chair was the best piece of political theatre ever. Theatre of the absurd.

    Whatever you might think of Eastwood’s politics at least he did mention what should be the central issue of the election (although crowded out by debt panics): unemployment – “a national disgrace”.

    Here’s to Clint Eastwood, doing it “my way or the highway” in true American style.

  5. Nick
    September 7th, 2012 at 17:07 | #5

    To quokka, apologies for not replying on this sooner. I’ve been knocked around by a cold all week, and trying to power through it Monday and Tuesday did me no favours at all…I finally felt up to having another look today.

    Here are a couple of rather damning rebuttals of Maugeri:

    http://ftalphaville.ft.com/blog/2012/07/24/1094111/is-peak-oil-dead

  6. Nick
    September 7th, 2012 at 17:08 | #6

    http://odac-info.org/sites/default/files/Maugeris-decline-rate-assumptions_commentary.pdf

    Nice to see that my instincts are relatively sound even when I have no idea what I’m talking about (hopefully that is…you may still beg to differ). It’s possible I’m suffering from massive confirmation bias, but the more I read, the clearer it all becomes…

  7. Nick
    September 7th, 2012 at 17:08 | #7

    The main problem with shale oil appears to be its fast decline rates – 6 years on average before wells become ‘strippers’, or only 10 to 15 barrels a day being recovered.

    (see http____av.r.ftdata.co.uk/files/2012/08/Bakken_typecurve_Bernstein.png)

    I’ve read that they cost roughly about $10 million each – and there are hundreds producing virtually nothing already. An average in the Bakken of around 200 bpd for the first year, 100bpd for the second, 50, then 30, then 20, then 10…

    At $100 a barrel, in 6 years you’d be lucky to rake in $15 million – from a well which cost you $10 million to finance! This is on average of course – a lot of companies/investors will do much much better, and just as many others will lose their shirts.

    That said, I’ve also read other reports that the average decline rate in North Dakota is only 35%, not ~50% (ie. Montana is skewing things down a lot), which would change things somewhat…time will tell for sure I guess.

    But here’s the most comprehensive breakdown on how individual companies are doing month by month in North Dakota:

    https://www.dmr.nd.gov/oilgas/mpr/2012_06.pdf

    You’ll see from the first table that the current average across all fields is about 100bpd. And even for those doing better than average, if oil prices don’t go up by a lot(!) in the next few years, guess where all the company profits have to go…right back into record capital expenditure. And there’s your problem…

  8. BilB
    September 9th, 2012 at 10:11 | #8

    JQ,

    I would like to request that you attempt an occasional Sandpit for discussion of Apps that people may have discovered and found useful.

    Thisis not a frivalous persuit as Apps can be extremely useful on the one hand, and they will be one of the powerful contributors to growth without resource consumption of the present and future.

    I’ll kick thisoff with 2 Apps that I discovered (by intuition) just this week. After spending about 3 hours searching through boxes of business cards I suddenly wondered if some one had done an App to cope with this type of problem. Sure enough.

    CamCard and CamScan, give them a fly.

    CamCard scans up business cards via your phones camera, corrects and resizes the image, extracts the data, and places both in a digital business card holder. Absolutely brilliant. It works perfectly on my Android HTC.

    CamScan does the same but for documents, and allows you to share these over the broadest commucation portfolio that I have seen to date. It also creates PDF docs from the scans.

    Th other package that I have been using for a while is OfficeSuite Pro. This is basically MS Office for your phone, but by someone else. It allows me to access and process any office doc while out and about. Also Brilliant.

    The App world is hotting up and moving into so many fields it is truly incredible. The latest is a test for Alzimers and Dimentia, but for use in conjunction with your doctor. Phones are replacing stethascopes, field microscopes, and so many other devices.

  9. BilB
    September 9th, 2012 at 10:11 | #9

    JQ,

    I would like to request that you attempt an occasional Sandpit for discussion of Apps that people may have discovered and found useful.

    Thisis not a frivalous persuit as Apps can be extremely useful on the one hand, and they will be one of the powerful contributors to growth without resource consumption of the present and future.

    I’ll kick thisoff with 2 Apps that I discovered (by intuition) just this week. After spending about 3 hours searching through boxes of business cards I suddenly wondered if some one had done an App to cope with this type of problem. Sure enough.

    CamCard and CamScan, give them a fly.

    CamCard scans up business cards via your phones camera, corrects and resizes the image, extracts the data, and places both in a digital business card holder. Absolutely brilliant. It works perfectly on my Android HTC.

    CamScan does the same but for documents, and allows you to share these over the broadest commucation portfolio that I have seen to date. It also creates PDF docs from the scans.

    Th other package that I have been using for a while is OfficeSuite Pro. This is basically MS Office for your phone, but by someone else. It allows me to access and process any office doc while out and about. Also Brilliant.

    The App world is hotting up and moving into so many fields it is truly incredible. The latest is a test for Alzimers and Dimentia, but for use in conjunction with your doctor. Phones are replacing stethascopes, field microscopes, and so many other devices.

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