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Sandpit

January 14th, 2013

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

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  1. Mel
    January 25th, 2013 at 14:55 | #1

    Ikonoclast: “… operative certainty 99.9999 recurring % kind … ”

    No major scientific body, not the IPCC or any science academy, claims that level of certainty.

    ” You would have to effectively dispute and refute at least one of these statements to plausibly advance a claim of functional and operative uncertainty about the AGW case.”

    Both you and I are laymen who lack the skills, knowledge and resources to carry out the necessary work. Even if we did, we still couldn’t deliver certainty. None of the major philosophers of science, Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos, Feyerband etc , claim science offers certainty.

    Mel – coarse and hostile language does nothing to advance your case. Any more of this, and I will have to block you from this thread – JQ

  2. Tim Macknay
    January 25th, 2013 at 16:30 | #2

    @Ikonoclast
    Oh yeah, James Howard Kunstler. He was the guy who though the Y2K software problem would “converge with and amplify other forces already in motion around the world, namely a global economic deflation and the political dissolution of more nation states”, “disable federal and state bureaucracies” and “deeply affect the economies-of-scale of virtually all activities in the United States, essentially requiring us to downsize and localize everything from government to retail merchandising to farming”.

    Clearly an astute analyst with awesome predictive powers. ;)

  3. Jordan
    January 25th, 2013 at 18:15 | #3

    @Tim Macknay
    Kunstler have a strong apocalyptic bias, he wants apocalypse to arrive sooner then later, but his analysis is correct on very long term. Some of those changes can happen in near term operationaly, but major ones like reducing the suburb and getting more concentrated population is a 30-50 year trend. And resource constraints are guaranteeing that such trend is ongoing now.

  4. Jim Rose
    January 25th, 2013 at 18:25 | #4

    kevin1, You are evasive about unpacking the black box that is the internal working of industry policy. How do they pick those winners?

    You directed me to to Westphal, Larry 1990. “Industrial Policy in an Export-Propelled Economy: Lessons from South Korea’s Experience.” Journal of Economic Perspectives.

    Look at your own reference’s lessons section at page 56:

    “Korea’s industrial performance owes much to the government’s reliance on Free market institutions to provide for flexibility in resource allocation. It has resulted in many highly profitable ventures (socially as well as privately) that were either not foreseen or not actively promoted by the government”

    Your champion attempts but fails to make a case for successful government interventions. He ignores how the Koreans picked winners when others could not.

    Westphal does conclude that “Though accepted by many knowledgeable observers, the conclusion is controversial—inherently so owing to insufficient historical information and lack of agreement about the required counterfactual.”

    Jagdish Bhagwati, Anne Krueger, Ian Little, T N Srinivasan and Bela Balassa take the view that outward orientation and pro-market policies were the primary forces behind the Asian tigers. Their export subsidies neutralised the import barriers, yielding domestic relative prices that more or less corresponded to world prices.

    The experience with infant industries policies in South Asia has been uniformly negative. Korea grew fast despite its industry policies rather than because of them.

    HT: http://www.columbia.edu/~ap2231/ET/et25-april01.htm Korean Growth Experience by Arvind Panagariya, 2001

  5. Jordan
    January 25th, 2013 at 18:33 | #5

    @Ikonoclast

    “When and where will it begin to observably and indisputably break down?”

    “What response will this provoke from the suffering portion of the affected population(s)?”

    “What reaction will popular response in turn elicit from the governing powers?”

    My opinion is that population will adjust to the new realities and technology and constraints will be slow enough to allow for adjustment. So in my opinion it is not going to break down.
    Kunstler describes how it will adjust; more local economy requiers less fuel, reducing the suburban type of living to highly congested populations, a la good sci-fi movies, also requiers less energy and resources. A house requiers much, much more spending then apartments with pooled and common maintenance.
    It could adjust so much to manage needs by pooling resources and creating common distribution, maybe even common production.

    The only way the society could break down that i can see is by political inaction and crazy beliefs in financial or operational constraints. The only way is if climate gets worse and affects large areas of destruction and desperation, which we are seeing all over the world, while government pretending that there are no resources to help them will leave such area with people desperate to feed their famillies. Desperate to get out of zones with diseases, hunger and devastation they will attempt looting of rich areas provoking violent government response but it will be unstopable.

  6. Fran Barlow
    January 26th, 2013 at 08:00 | #6

    So Clive James got a gong on Australia Day? Hmm… He’s also a fellow traveller of the climate denial movement:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8322513.stm

  7. Fran Barlow
    January 26th, 2013 at 08:06 | #7

    The “Kochtopus” that stands behind Donors Trust, and its role in promoting bogus information on climate change:

    h t t p / / w w w DOT independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/how-the-kochtopus-stifled-green-debate-8466316.html

    h t t p / / w w w DOT independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/exclusive-billionaires-secretly-fund-attacks-on-climate-science-8466312.html

    I’ve edited the above to evade the sp&m trap. Those wishing to link should write the initial referral strings themselves.

  8. Chris Warren
    January 26th, 2013 at 09:21 | #8

    @Mel

    But in the right context, science does offer certainty.

    Even science at the high school level. If I trap just over 4 joules of energy in a gram of water, its temperature will certainly rise by just 1 degree C. No august scientific institution will dispute this.

    If you change the atmosphere of a planet enough, its temperature will certainly change.

    Maybe you have the pot covering your eyes?

  9. Ikonoclast
    January 26th, 2013 at 09:26 | #9

    @Mel

    Ignorant abuse of considered argument is no refutation. You clearly don’t even understand my points. Waste of time debating with you.

  10. John Quiggin
    January 26th, 2013 at 09:35 | #10

    I haven’t been following this argument at all closely.

    But the IPCC routinely provides probability judgements about the reliability of its conclusions. IIRC, these are now above 90 per cent for the composite conclusion that the global average temperature is rising and that human activity is the primary cause of this.

    Arguments about certainty get into Descartes/Berkeley philosophical territory pretty fast. But plenty of conclusions derived from science are as certain as Dr Johnson’s “I refute it thus” response to Berkeley, kicking a rock and observing (a) a moving rock (b) a sore toe.

  11. Fran Barlow
    January 26th, 2013 at 09:51 | #11

    And now, another post from the land that sense escaped from in fear for its safety demanding asylum:

    Gun Nut who purchased assault weapon points it at teenage daughter on learning she got two Bs

    Nope, it’s not an Onion piece. In that spirit though …

    It’s a little known fact that before the Illuminati and aliens from the planet Zog began tampering with the constitution and rewrote the 2nd amendment to what is wrongly believed to be its present form it read as follows:

    Whereas the freedom of a free people can only be sustained by protecting the sense of achievement that the cognitively challenged men can take in wielding weapons of war against their apparently useless offspring, the right of gun nuts with self-esteem and anger management problems to threaten their kids with assault weapons to make themselves feel better shall not be infringed. You know it makes sense, and if it doesn’t, that’s because your (sic) some gun grabbing urban elite tax and spend liberal commie urban vegan.

    You can see why the Illuminati and Zoggians knocked that text out! ;-)

  12. Ikonoclast
    January 26th, 2013 at 10:05 | #12

    @Chris Warren

    Yes, Mel is taking an absurdly Pyrrhonist position. A little learning is a dangerous thing for Mel-type thinkers. They learn that all knowledge comes with degrees of uncertainty. They then immediately run to a “nothing can be known position” or “it’s all just theories”. No, actually it’s not all just theories, a great swathe of it is empirical experimentation and observation.

    Few of these people squawking about uncertainty in scientific theory ever mention experiment, observation, repeatability, corroboration, confirmability, dependability etc. They never mention the masses of confirming data already extant for theories they don’t like. They want to argue about science and they have not the least idea (or not the least interest) in how the scientific method proceeds in practice. They think a little uncertainty means it is all uncertainty. By the same logic the salt sea is pure salt.

    Mel clearly doesn’t understand that thousands (or even millions) of experiments and observations confirming a theory and coupled with positively confirmed linkages to other parts of hard science (indeed to the whole edifice of hard science) raise certain scientific theories to a very high degree of dependability. For all practical purposes it raises the dependability to almost 1.0 for many theories. A caveat it is that is raises the practical dependability to almost 1.0 where the theory’s limiting conditions are met. (I am thinking of the dependability of Newtonian physics versus Relativity physics. Whilst relative speeds are low fractions of the speed of light, Newtonian physics is accurate and dependable enough for all practical purposes.)

    Our daily empirical experience confirms the dependability issue in broad terms. We all know we can’t pass through robust, solid objects, unbreakable by our own muscle power. This is dependable knowledge to a very high degree of certainty. What’s more it is practical, useable knowledge. Sensible people don’t go round trying to walk through power poles or standing on the road to allow semi-trailers to “pass through” them. Yes, modern quantum thoery tells us there is maybe a probability (almost infintesimally small) that a large (macro) solid object could by random quantum variations pass through another macro solid object. I suppose Mel would say this proves that the “solidity rule” is not dependable, thus he can jump in front of a speeding semi-trailer. Be my guest, Mel!

    The famous Pyrrhonist dictum is “Nothing can be known, not even this.” Taken to this extreme we can see that absolute Pyrrhonism is self-refuting nonsense.

  13. Fran Barlow
    January 26th, 2013 at 10:07 | #13

    @John Quiggin

    AIUI, the consensus position Sigma 5 — 95% certainty of human agency in warming. This benchmark was chosen fairly arbitrarily, which is why that famous troll the deniers ran on Phil Jones about “no significant warming” could be run. The same standard was used to describe “significance” (over a 15-year time frame. It fell just short.

    IIRC, if the standard had been 92.7% the observed 15 year warming would have been “significant”.

    There is as you say, an epistemological problem with asserting certainty, but it’s moot because nothing important that humans decide ever demands certainty in practice. Very high probability always suffices, assuming the prospective risk/harm from ignoring the probability warrants a decision based on it.

    If the decision point is remote in practice, we may continue to gather more data and more closely approach certainty before relying on an inference about the world to inform an act, as this deferral doesn’t add to downside risk/cost* — it’s a freebie — but of course, the greater and more pressing the harm/risk, the lower the standard of certainty one needs to be rational in relying on it.

    * Of course, sometimes “how long before we need to make a decision?” is itself a question in dispute — uncertainties attach to that as well. Certainly, that is germane in discussions of climate, and intersects policy debates as well. It’s not clear how long we have to begin acting robustly as significant communities to mitigate our impact on ecosystem services (or that we haven’t already passed a tipping point) and are now only able to reduce the scale of the harm to a serious setback.

  14. kevin1
    January 26th, 2013 at 10:40 | #14

    @Jim Rose
    JR, I’m glad you’ve been doing some reading, not just passing on aphorisms from your pantheon of deities – I guess it’s a start. Of course, rather than put together a coherent and balanced argument, you take the cheap path: the tit for tat exchange of selective quotes. You’ve trawled through Westphal (1990) to find on p 56: “Korea’s industrial performance owes much (sic) to the government’s reliance on Free market institutions…”. So if you take his word on that, you would endorse his comment (on page one, so you must have seen it): “This paper argues that the government’s selective industrial policies have contributed importantly to Korea’s rapid achievement of international competitiveness in a number of industries.”

    But these are not contradictory: I can accommodate both statements from Westphal, including “owes much”, but you can’t, as your view of the world sees free enterprise as “salvation” in all places, at all times. On cherry picking quotes, quotes which deal with matters of historical fact are less arguable: like these about the 1960s from “Industrial Policies in Developing Countries: History and Perspectives” by Michele Di Maio (available on the web):

    “There were monthly meetings between top government officials (chaired by the President) and leading exporters. Export targets were set at the industry, product and firm level by bureaucrats who were also held responsible for achieving these export targets in their respective industries, and had to keep in close touch with exporting enterprises (Rhee et al. 1984).” and

    “In South Korea import protection was high, prolonged and selective but, at the same time, the export performance was used as the discipline device for both firms and bureaucrats (Amsden, 1991).”

    So strong intervention did happen. This debate was never (to me anyway) about whether industrial policy was crucial rather than other govt facilitation (eg. education expenditure, business credit), it was about your cover-up of actual events and facts which didn’t fit your theory – govt is intrinsically destructive. Your message is self-contradictory when you tell us that export subsidies neutralises import barriers – this is not a free market story, ISI and EOI are govt intervention on both sides of international trade! The three schools of thought which Panagariya discusses put different weights on the policy settings, but they all agree that government was crucial, one way or another, to economic development. None of these writers are as extremist as you.

    I think of opening the front door to find a couple of evangelists – you and Mitt Romney – with pale smiles and a faraway look in their eyes, because they’re talking not to me but to the shimmering white aura – my soul – which is the object of conversion. It’s not your opinions but your distortions which I object to, which I guess is why our host JQ tolerates you, but within boundaries. It seems that your credibility on this blog is not very high, so I guess the harm from your distortions is minor; sort of a victimless crime really.

  15. Ikonoclast
    January 26th, 2013 at 10:40 | #15

    @John Quiggin

    Yes, Berkeley is one of my favourite philosophers even though I do not agree with him in several matters. I am not an idealist in the philosophical sense.

    Berkeley’s prose is a joy to read. His construction of argument is clear, elegant, precise and logical. His conclusions are impeccably derived and irrefutable if one accepts his premises. Metaphysical philosphy always seems to have that character; namely that any particular system always hinges on some unexaminable (unproveable, un-refutable) premises.

    This does not mean that metaphysical philosophy is uninteresting or unuseful. Once the unproveable premises are established a lot of useful empirical philosophy can get done. Berkeley came up with an elegant proof that all motion must be relative motion. This was 150 years before Einstein. I do not know if Berkeley was the first to assert that all motion must be relative motion. He did it by elegant thought experiments that left me a little uncertain whether to term those particular procedures of his as idealist or empirical philosophy. Probably they were empirical thought experiments if that is not a contradiction.

    Berkeley also questioned aspects of Newtonian physics (for example the assumption of the empty, absolute reference frame of “space” required to make Newtonian physics work). Berkeley argued in essence that absolute emtpy space or absolute nothingness could not exist as it was an ontological contradiciton. Only “something” can exist. Modern cosmology proves Berkeley is correct. Space is not nothing it is a field (the scalar field) and it has extent and energy (vacuum energy) IIRC.

    Berkeley also questioned the Newtonian concept of gravity as an attracting force. Again, he argued there could be no attracting force if there was nothing (Newtonian Nothing) between the objects to carry or transmit the force. Berkeley was correct and the Theory of Relativity proved him correct by demonstrating that a “fabric” or field of four dimensioanl space-time exists between all objects. Gravity distorts this field. A three-dimensional analogy is to imagine a medicine ball on a trampoline. The medicine ball draws the trampoline down around it and a tennis ball can be made to orbit the medicine ball (briefly because of friction issues). In a similar way, the earth orbits the sun because of the space-time “hollow” or “sink” generated by the sun’s gravity which “guides” the earth around the sun. Sorry, that last explanation is not at all good. I am not a cosmologist nor am I a physicist.

  16. Ikonoclast
    January 26th, 2013 at 10:43 | #16

    An interesting thought. Is political economy metaphysical philosophy? Does each system have its unprovable premises? The Orthodox Marxists will have my guts for garters for asking that. ;)

  17. Ikonoclast
    January 26th, 2013 at 10:50 | #17

    @Fran Barlow

    “There is as you say, an epistemological problem with asserting certainty, but it’s moot because nothing important that humans decide ever demands certainty in practice. Very high probability always suffices, assuming the prospective risk/harm from ignoring the probability warrants a decision based on it.” – Fran.

    That I agree on. In practical terms we are on the same page, Fran. We have our disagreements in another area, perhaps on the “terminology and discourse” page. I admit I get angry when I think I have made a clinching logical argument and people still have the “temerity” (as I see it) to disagree with me. Is that a male thing? Maybe it is. Or maybe it’s just a cranky old man thing!

  18. Fran Barlow
    January 26th, 2013 at 11:09 | #18

    @Ikonoclast

    Well I (almost) never take things personally. I mostly argue because IMO, important pieces of public policy are in question. I am profoundly troubled when useful knowledge or insight — which is the legacy every human ought to seek to pass about and forward — is subverted in pursuit of relative self interest or simply trashed by reckless vandals.

    Anyone can disagree honestly without offending another, and of course sometimes, they become so invested that it can get personal. We’re humans and at times, that’s where it goes, much as it shouldn’t.

    I try to avoid doing that, but unless I see persuasive reasons to rate someone a troll, then I don’t make it my business to recall harsh words exchanged. Life is too short, and there are important matters to set right, in collaboration with others willing to help do so.

  19. Ikonoclast
    January 26th, 2013 at 11:55 | #19

    JQ, says “IIRC, these are now above 90 per cent for the composite conclusion that the global average temperature is rising and that human activity is the primary cause of this.”

    Wikipedia says, “The scientific opinion on climate change is that the Earth’s climate system is unequivocally warming, and it is more than 90% certain that humans are causing it through activities that increase concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as deforestation and burning fossil fuels.”

    I would like Fran, Prof. J.Q. and others to enlighten me (not being facetious here) if they can. Where is the uncertainty?

    1. The Earth’s climate system is unequivocally warming. This is from data measurements estimates over at least one century. As I argued elsewhere, once a lot of data is in and cross-checking has eliminated measurement errors etc. then an event that has already happened is extant emprical fact not prediction subject to uncertainty. For an event that has happened, the chance that it has happened is 1. No uncertainty here.

    2. Man burning lots of fossil fuels produces lots of CO2 which goes into the atmosphere. The measurement record shows this (as well as it being basic chemistry). Chance that has happened / is happening = 1. No uncertainty here.

    3. Basic greenhouse theory (greenhouse gases cause heat trapping in closed gaseous systems) fully supported by spectrum absorption / re-emission characteristics and by green house experiments. Full empirical proof so no uncertainty here.

    4. The earth is a complex system so we may be missing factors and parameters of its response to increased greenhouse gases in our models. Yes, we may be but the fact that it is actually warming very strongly suggests we have missed no signicant compensatory or homeostatic systems.

    5. Warming may come from another cause. Has all the research to date uncovered another cause? Remember, thermodynamics is hard science. There are only two or three places the extra heat energy could be coming from (a) the sun (b) the mantle (vulcanism, earthquakes) (c) heat releasing chemical reactions other than direct fossil fuel burning.

    Given all the above where exactly is the uncertainty? I for one can’t see where more than about 0.1% uncertainty could come from. Clearly I need some enlightenment as the IPCC scientists know a heck of a lot more than I do about climate science and probability projections.

  20. Mel
    January 26th, 2013 at 12:34 | #20

    Ikonoclast: “Clearly I need some enlightenment as the IPCC scientists know a heck of a lot more than I do about climate science and probability projections.”

    Right, so you now admit that you are not God’s gift to climate science yet you continue to maintain that IPCC scientists have got it wrong by acknowledging a degree of certainty greater than 0.1%. Now, rather than repeat things you’ve read on wikipedia, how about publishing that Nobel prize winning paper that sets out your case?

  21. Fran Barlow
    January 26th, 2013 at 13:05 | #21

    @Ikonoclast

    I would like Fran, Prof. J.Q. and others to enlighten me (not being facetious here) if they can. Where is the uncertainty?

    There’s very little uncertainty about the data. Of course, measurement of climate data today though qualitatively better than it was even 50 years ago is still a practice one wants to corroborate by a range of means. The uncertainty lies in what the data tell us and when discussing trends, whether we have enough data to ensure that the error bars are too narrow to exclude a trend.

    So assuming, for the sake of argument, that we had 100 parallel universes and obtained the same data from each of them, and we found that in only five cases were the data we obtained produced by the confluence of unaccounted variables, we could conclude 95% confidence in the trend line being genuine: 5-sigma confidence IOW.

    AIUI that’s where we are with human attribution.

    We do have proof of principle on Charney forcing. We can measure incoming longwave and outgoing shortwave radiation at the top of the stratosphere and conclude that in energy balance terms, the world is warming. We can also see that the bandwidths that are disrupted on exit from the stratosphere are exactly those one would expect from Charney forcing and match current atmospheric concentrations well. We know that the variance in atmospheric concentrations of CO2e are of human origin from both their isotopic profile and the mere fact that oxidised carbon from conversion of chemical energy must go somewhere.

    There was I understand at IPCC gatherings in the last decade of the 20th century, much lobbying from Saudi Arabia, the USA and other jurisdictions about how much confidence to declare in human attribution, and it became clear that without compromise, no consensus report could be published. In the end, the scientists agreed that haggling over the 95% or 90% confidence level wasn’t a useful exercise and conceded the ground. (Here, I agree Ikono, that your objections to the concept of “consensus” are valid, though to be fair, the scientists were arguing for a 5-Sigma consensus).

    Is there uncertainty? Well, notionally, yes. In practice though, the probability that the salient data could have been produced by some as yet unaccounted set of confluent events is too remote to take seriously — and certainly not one on which any prudent person could rely. Whether one calls that “95%” or “90%” or “99%” certainty is moot.

    The reality is we don’t have 100 parallel universes with which we can compare data, and even if we did, the risks from assuming that we were one of the 10% or 5% or 1% that were anomalous would be unacceptable.

  22. Ikonoclast
    January 26th, 2013 at 13:28 | #22

    “Is there uncertainty? Well, notionally, yes. In practice though, the probability that the salient data could have been produced by some as yet unaccounted set of confluent events is too remote to take seriously.” – Fran.

    “Is there uncertainty? Well, notionally, yes.” This is interesting statement. It implicitly sets up the split of notional uncertainty versus practical or real uncertainty.

    “The probability that the salient data could have been produced by some as yet unaccounted set of confluent events is too remote to take seriously.” This also suggests that real practical uncertainty about the case is very low, say less than 1%.

    This all suggests to me that the overall method of assigning a certainty-uncertainty range in the IPCC report is politically tainted or skewed. Again, Fran more or less says this. “In the end, the scientists agreed that haggling over the 95% or 90% confidence level wasn’t a useful exercise and conceded the ground. (Here, I agree Ikono, that your objections to the concept of “consensus” are valid,”

    I point out the above not to “win” an argument against Fran at all (it does not here pertain to that “discourse” argument). I point it out to literalists who assign complete objectivity to the (actually politically skewed) IPCC framework for calculating uncertainty. The IPCC report uses the best atmospheric science and the best mathematical methods for calculating probability (I have no doubt) but the framework of assumptions used to set the basis for calculating uncertainty are clearly biased in favour of setting the certainty calculation too low. This follows from the logic of my last post and the logic of Fran’s last post.

    The IPCC report is a scientific report inside a political framework. The political framework has clearly skewed what they are permitted to say about the certainty-uncertainty of the case.

    This is all very unfortunate and damaging to chances of taking serious action. Fran, intentionally or not, has confirmed my strong suspicions that the situation is lot more concerning than the IPCC are officially permitted to say.

  23. Mel
    January 26th, 2013 at 13:47 | #23

    FTR, here are the reasons why I’m irked by Ikonoclast et al exaggerating the case for AGW:

    1/ It treats science as if it were an infallible religion, in spite of the regular and observable overthrow of established wisdom by new theories defines science

    2/ It gives ammunition to those on the right, many of whom are undoubtedly being disingenuous, who want to paint AGW as ideological zealots rather than scientifically minded.

    3/ It goes way beyond what the more cautious statements of leading scientists in the field are saying (with some exceptions, like Hansen, who does more extreme pronouncements)

    4/ It inadvertently gives credit to the notion that certainty is necessary before a public policy response is necessary (when in truth the same principle that makes us take out insurance is sufficient for action)

    5/ It means the Left will have egg on its face and be demoralised for a generation or more in the unlikely event that IPCC predictions aren’t borne out.

    I also note with great interest and amusement that many of the arguments that I see on skeptic sites mirror some of the academic hard left arguments that I became acquainted with as a social science undergraduate, for example, arguments about scientism, Big Science, the role of funding, vested interests, institutional bias and ideology muddying science.

  24. Mel
    January 26th, 2013 at 13:58 | #24

    Ikonoclast: “Fran, intentionally or not, has confirmed my strong suspicions that the situation is lot more concerning than the IPCC are officially permitted to say.”

    Lol. The IPCC working groups who produce the IPCC reports disband almost immediately after reporting. There is no regime of sanctions against comments by the (volunteer) IPCC scientists outside a conspiracy theory mindset. Having said that, it would be better if the IPCC was a more permanent body with secure funding at arms length from individual governments.

  25. Jim Rose
    January 26th, 2013 at 14:43 | #25

    kevin1, you continue to be slippery and evasive about unpacking the black box that is the internal workings of industry policy.

    How did they pick winners in S. Korea?
    • What analytical tools were available at those Korean monthly meetings that were unavailable to other industry policy makers abroad?
    • How was the mass of knowledge dispersed across countless people collated and summarised into bureaucratic hands in a world of uncertainty and constant small changes?
    • Why did the Korean autocrats and their bureaucracy have an incentive to use that information wisely and before it was out of date?
    • What hard budget constraints and other institutions ensured learning, adaptation and selection of the fittest in S. Korea?

    The necessary precondition for a development miracle is that the country is not exploiting a significant amount of the global pool of useful production knowledge and thus is poor relative to the industrial leaders when their miracles began.

    • In 1965, there were many countries besides S. Korea that were abjectly poverty. Most remain poor today because unlike S. Korean they did not adopt new policies that greatly reduced barriers to the efficient use of this global pool of knowledge

    • S. Korea in the 1960s was like China in the 1980s. They were both so dirt poor that a few good choices could overcome some very bad continuing policies.

    • Development miracles occur when policies that prevent firms from making use of readily available technologies are removed on a permanent basis.

    Leaving your obscure Italian economist’s working paper to one side, the World Bank wrote a book in 1993 on the Asian Tigers downplaying the presence of industrial policy in East Asia, concluding that “rapid growth in each economy was primarily due to the application of a set of common, market-friendly economic policies.”

    Korea and Taiwan experienced major institutional changes such as land reform that led to a virtual elimination of local elites that might have obstructed industrial growth (Olson 1982).

  26. Ootz
    January 26th, 2013 at 15:00 | #26

    Frankly all this sophistry on this thread about the philosophy of science as well as haggling on levels of confidence, degrees of certainty and bone headed truth is not just tiring, more importantly wasting valuable time and resources. As Prof Q, as well as several others including me have pointed out above, that in the language science uses, the probability of AGW is above 90%. Now these are exceedingly high odds, many people gamble a fortune on much less than that. However, what it means in real term is, a risk with these odds would in any other field, say OHS, immediately engage professional risk management. We do have international codified risk standards ISO 31000 with clear definitions and processes. Why are we so stuck with this science thingy, with most of us not having the capacity to even understand our limitations in that field, yet we all practise risk management in our professional capacity as well as in every day life like applying sunscreen. In reality even if the odds would be far far less than those disputed or dismissed, given the magnitude and pervasiveness of the risk posed by AGW, we would be absolute fools not to act and follow the established professional procedures.

    Btw Iko re “Where is the uncertainty?”, as I mentioned above, you are too stuck on your empiricism/positivism stance of science, as indicated, amongst others, by your labeling of FB as a ‘Pomo’. Perhaps you want to look up some solid critiques of these powerful albeit limited thinking tools of modernity. However, in risk management terms-
    “Uncertainty (or lack of certainty) is a state of being that involves a deficiency of information and leads to inadequate or incomplete knowledge or understanding. In the context of risk management, uncertainty exists whenever your knowledge or understanding of an event, consequence, or likelihood is inadequate or incomplete.
    So, you can reduce your uncertainty by getting better information and improving your knowledge and understanding. You can reduce your uncertainty and manage your risk, by using a systematic
    approach to risk management.”
    Source http://www.praxiom.com/iso-31000-terms.htm

  27. Ootz
    January 26th, 2013 at 16:14 | #27

    On reflections/
    There is a beauty in the last sentence of above ISO 31000 definition of ‘Uncertainty’. I see almost a self referential equation in there, with the (you) on one side. According to above link, the ISO 31000 definition of (you) is:

    “A risk owner is a person or entity that has been given the authority
    to manage a particular risk and is accountable for doing so.”

    So according to ISO 31000, as a stakeholder in context of AGW, I am entitled to ask who is (you) the risk owner.
    ___
    btw iko, you have your propensities and I have mine. I really appreciate yours, they are a major source of motivation for me to follow the JQ blog. They indeed dare me to participate and hopefully contribute in my way :) Hope you’ll have a wonderful Australia day and to many more to come.

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