107 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. @Jim Rose

    Gee, gosh, whillikers, I had no idea. Taking what the Greens called ‘slim pickings’ from Finkelstein and the Convergence Review, springing them on a cabinet called to discuss a different matter, vesting those powers in a single part-time official appointed by a minister, and then trying to impose it as a parliamentary diktat strikes me as a surefire way not to do media reform.

    The UK reforms, by contrast, were negotiated much more widely and actually passed. The UK reforms cannot necessarily be translated directly into Australian terms, but their process seems to have worked much better and their reforms actually became law. The same week Gillard and Conroy tried to dictate this bungled mishmash into law they referred the question of a privacy tort to a new inquiry, despite the idea already going through two inquiries.

    It’s almost as though the Gillard government felt that not passing media reform was a desirable goal. I guess we should be grateful the bills did not mandate the wearing of red underpants.

  2. One of the many fallacies employed by climate alarmists is the non sequitur extension. It is inherent in terms such as “deniers” and “delusionists”. Apart from the disgraceful intent to link climate skeptics to holocaust deniers, it also implies that climate skeptics deny the evidence of science, such as rising CO2 levels or rising temperatures during the 20th century or the greenhouse effect of CO2. So when skeptics question the sensitivity of temperature to CO2 or the economic sanity of doing away with fossil fuels, alarmists can just dismiss the argument as silly anti-science denial. But 90% of what you slag skeptics for saying they don’t say. It’s easy for alarmists to misrepresent skeptics, with the help of some skeptics who talk nonsense. Skeptics can do likewise, and they can find the nonsense much further up the hierarchy of expertise. But that’s a fallacious way to conduct a debate.

  3. @John Dawson

    I hope, to be consistent, you also reject the scientific consesenuses (and masses of actual verifying data and repeatable and verifiable experiments of the theory of evolution, theory of relativity, the laws of thermodynamics and the entire bodies of medicine, chemistry, physics, nuclear phsyics etc and so forth.

    One wonders why people who seem to generally accept the empirical scientific cannon then selectively reject climate science. Sceptics (so-called) are not only denying climate science, they are denying the entire bodies of physics and chemistry that climate science is based on. Strange that they don’t realise that. Or maybe they really are scientific illiterates and just don’t have a clue at all. They are in deluded denial. Denialists and delusionists are the correct terms.

  4. The reality is that timber varies in size in relation to its age and degree of finish. A lot of of DIYers come to grief by underestimating materials and labour. I wonder how many failed DIY builders become AGW agnostics?

  5. @rog I accept the physics of the (diminishing) greenhouse effect of CO2 if that’s what you mean, I’m skeptical about the feedback impacts the AGW doctrine rests on, and on many other aspects of that doctrine, and above all about its single direction focus. So much on projections of next-century AGW damage and precautionary (non) remedies; and so little on any nul hypothesis or calculation of the this-century damage of those (non) remedies.

  6. I responded to your analogy about measurement @rog now you’ve changed it in order to revert to the customary ad hominem. Oh well.

  7. @John Dawson

    No, it’s a good example of why your point is nonsense. Care to explain what your AGW / climate change position is? Care to explain why you reject science in this area? Or alternatively, if you reject all science, do you care to explain why?

    You have only a few possible positions. Initially, to reject all science or selectively reject climate science and all of the physics and chemistry that it is based on. These positions are in fact almost the same thing.

    Either that or you are a genius who knows more about climate science than 1000s of climate scientists all over the world.

  8. @John Dawson

    There are several possible definitions of “doctrine” from ‘theory’ through to ‘dogma’.

    It is a curious choice of word. There must be a competing doctrine (presumably the one you subscribe to).

  9. @Ikonoclast good point on deniers?

    people should not be allowed to reject the scientific consensus in economics either.

    Appeals to authority in deciding scientific truth apply everywhere or nowhere.

    there are roles for expertise and a expert consensus, but knowledge grow through critical discussion.

  10. @Jim Rose

    Jim, there is not a scientific “consensus” in economics for the very simple reason that economics is not a science. More especially it is not a hard science like climate science (which when you get right down to it is completely based on physics and chemistry). A hard science (like climate science) can still be open-ended with probability issues due to the sheer complexity of modelling, the sheer extent of data and the impossibility of gathering and analysing absolutely all relevant data.

    Economics is more difficult again because it involves human biological, social and conceptual behaviour. The “noosphere” (sphere of ideas and consciousness) is so complex and unquantifiable that subjects like economics, or rather political economy, can never be a science in toto though some discrete sub-disciplines may scientised or formalised.

  11. @Jim Rose It’s a nonsensense analogy; you can’t measure economics like you can measure the temperature of boiling water. You can measure the quantum of various economic inputs but identifying the outcomes remains inconclusive.

  12. Care to explain why you reject science in this area?

    This is like asking “have you stopped beating your wife?” A loaded question worthy of contempt.

  13. John, as aside: how much of your day is taken up in blog administration and policing impolite posts?

  14. @TerjeP
    Not at all. Scientific data isn’t a semantic trick: either someone accepts it or proves why it’s invalid.

    By treating it as a gotcha, we can only assume that you prefer the endless merry-go-round of alternative theories that emerge on right wing blogs, only to get shuffled off when they’re disproved and replaced with the next type of pseudo-science apologia.

    What is it this week? Volcano carbon? Solar oscillations? Urban heat islands? Unicorn magic?

  15. @John Dawson

    Apart from the disgraceful intent to link climate skeptics to holocaust deniers,

    Almost all of which linking is done by actual climate deniers in a perverse attempt to play the victim and concern troll more generally.

    Speaking as someone who has spent much of the last decade on blogs and usenet discussing climate science denialism I’m yet to see a regular go “Godwin”. OTOH, deniers do like to suggest that advocates of climate policy are putative totalitarians and perhaps even incipiently genocidal or N@zi-like. Bolt ranted along these lines years ago, for example.

    The term “denialist” is by no means limited to holocaust deniers, and very much includes those who denied HIV was the cause of AIDS, or who denied that smoking caused lung cancer, or that thinning of the ozone layer or its impact on human health. There are people who deny the moon landings. For some years there have been “birthers” who deny the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate. There are those who deny evolution or deny that the Earth is about 4.5bn years old. {“Young Earthers”}

    Once again, the allegation of holocaust denial by the denialist shows the hand of a definite agency behind the high dudgeon affected by the climate science denialists one comes across.

  16. Dawson is just a troller. He hasn’t explained his position. No doubt because it wouldn’t stand up to any scrutiny. He should go to Catallaxy or Andrew Bolt and mutually validate there with the other science illiterates who all know more than all the PhDs in all the hard sciences.

  17. The hard sciences are rather backward sciences as compared to the social sciences because they can neither use introspection or interviews. Ever asked a rock why it does what it does? Much of economics can be deduced from the fact of scarcity.

    The hard sciences are primitive because they must wait for experiments and data.

    Kuhn’s book on the sociology of science was about the hard sciences and about how the hard sciences are not a march onwards and upwards towards the light. there are instead zigs and zags in knowledge.

    there is even a “Thomas Kuhn Paradigm Shift Award” in chemistry. is the one in climate science?

    Popper’s best essay is http://keidahl.terranhost.com/Fall/HIS3104/Popper%20Prediction%20and%20Prophecy.pdf “Prediction and Prophecy in the Social Sciences”

    Popper sees the main task of the theoretical social sciences is ‘to trace the unintended social repercussions of intentional human actions’.

    The other main task the social sciences is to tells us what we cannot do. Hayek had a similar view that the best social science is the study of what is not.

    Popper gave as an example of a conditional prediction in the social sciences: “you cannot, without increasing productivity, raise the real income of the working population”.

    Both Hayek and Popper argued that the social sciences can give us give us an idea of what can, and what cannot do. Popper argued that the practical role of science in social life was to help use to ‘choose our actions more wisely’.

    economics did this well for several hundred years without the help of econometrics.

  18. “you cannot, without increasing productivity, raise the real income of the working population”.

    Then Why are you against redistribution via taxes if that is true statement?

  19. @Jim Rose

    “The hard sciences are rather backward sciences as compared to the social sciences.”

    Your sentence makes no sense. One might as well say cheese is backward compared to chalk.

    “The hard sciences are primitive because they must wait for experiments and data.”

    I’m sorry, but this made me laugh.

    Do you mean as opposed to ideology, religion, metaphysics and bad social science where you can just make stuff up?

  20. @Ikonoclast

    Hey Iconoclast. Note the date of this post. Jim Rose is winding you up.

    Either that or he figures it was the right day to air some wacky ideas – like economics is a finished coherent science rather than a protoscience with wacky attributes and big globs of vested self interest – like alchemy with its phlogiston, predarwinian evolution with its elongated giraffe necks and cute little homunculi, Aristotleanism and its use of rhetoric, Astrology and its Hister and medicine and its miasmas – all interesting ideas which with a lot of stretching you could say were approximating what we have now.

    A third alternative is he is really an agent of the evil one (Andrew Bolt). But I dont think even Jim is that silly much as I disagree with some of his positions.

  21. @Ikonoclast Just stopping past to thank you for making the effort to post a fairly comprehensive response to my query on your own terms.

    Your reasons for the eurozone not being an OCA seem logical enough, as does your view that better regulation of private sector lending and leverage would constrain the inflation of prices in certain areas (McMansions etc).

    So thanks for that. I’ve also subscribed to Bill Mitchell’s blog to see what the fuss is about.

  22. @the Peak Oil Poet

    Tks POP re financial advisors. Personally I think ‘financial advisors is another of them thar euphemisms.

    But in fairness what can you expect. They get paid in proportion to the extent they weave the dreams you want to here even when they defy reality and a little reading of history – we’ve been here before – 1990, Poseidon, the Tulip bubble.

  23. @ Tom

    OCA does not exist nowhere at any level, it has to be managed by state in order to last. State has to redistribute surplus to deficit areas on all levels and then sustain it without provoking tribal antagonisms.
    Levels are; on the world level under Bretton Woods(gold standard is single currency area), country level, states level, region level, cities level, divisions within cities level, zones in cities, inside households (where norms replace state designed redistributions).
    Household has surplus – parents and permanent deficit – kids and providing for school, food and clothing is transfering mechanism from surplus to deficit area.

    EZ is a currency area like no other in the world, it has no redistribution mechanism for recycling surpluses. Without standard redistribution mechanisms it provoked tribal antagonisms.

    Standard redistribution mechanisms are; progressive taxes, unified education, health and retirement system, unified military and judicial system. They all provide for redistribution from surplus to deficit areas on all levels within a single currency area.
    This is the reason surplus (kapitalists) are raising against these systems all over the world and it is the demise of these mechanisms that is causing the global recession.

    OCA can not exist without mechanisms for recycling surpluses on permanent basis and when it breaks down like in 2008 in USA and in EU, tribal antagonisms arrive between all surplus and deficit areas (population), rich and poor are surplus and deficit, creditors and debtors are surplus and deficit areas.

    Here is full description of recycling mechanism on the world stage since GD untill today.
    I call that Nominal Surplus Circulation since it covers all levels not only on the world level as Yanis Varoufakis describes.

  24. @Tom

    What you think of OCA are countries with strong redistribution mechanisms, like Australia, northern European countries where social safety net is generous and strong. These countries are less succeptible to private sector crises and provide for strong countercyclical mechanism for private sector business cycle trough safety net.

    This is short Keynes or Bill Mitchell. It comes from assumption that currencies move goods and services not the other way around as classical, neokeynesian economics assume.
    If you read Bill Mitchell then you need to understand that he writes about movement of money which is postkeynesian take, not movement of goods and services and that prices of those goods are accurately reflected at all times as other economists assume.

  25. @Jim Rose

    “The hard sciences are rather backward sciences as compared to the social sciences because they can neither use introspection or interviews. Ever asked a rock why it does what it does? Much of economics can be deduced from the fact of scarcity.”

    It’s a good point, until rock answers all the questions I remain sceptical.

  26. @Newtownian did not two people get a nobel prize recently for showing that everyone was wrong about the causes of stomach ulcers?

    who is Andrew Bolt? never heard of him until recently. never watched him on TV ever nor read anything he has written. who does he work for?

  27. @rog

    You can’t really compare the hard sciences to the social sciences, at least not in the way Jim does. He implies that reliance on empiricism implies backwardness. In fact, the reverse is the case. Reliance on empiricism is the way out of the illusions and delusions of superstition, religion, metaphysics and ideology. It is these illusions and delusions that constitute backwardness. To the extent that the social sciences can begin excluding illusions they too must rely on empiricism as far as possible.

    Jim however is right to mention unintended consequences. It is certainly true that the application of science and technology has now led to large unforeseen consequences. Ignorance and superstition too lead to all sorts of unforeseen consequences. Science and technology are hardly alone in that.

  28. is empiricism another name for measurement without theory? you need a theory to tell you ‘what to look for’.

  29. “is empiricism another name for measurement without theory? you need a theory to tell you ‘what to look for’.” [Jim Rose]

    Fyi (for your information): Empiricism is the name given to a segment of the literature on the theory of knowledge.

  30. The Conspiracy to kill Martin Luther King: Not a theory but a fact

    Should the United States government be allowed to assassinate its own citizens? That question was in the air briefly not long ago. April 4 is an excellent day to revive it: On April 4, 1968, the government was part of a successful conspiracy to assassinate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    That’s not just some wing-nut conspiracy theory. It’s not a theory at all. It is a fact, according to our legal system.

  31. @Jim Rose

    “@Newtownian did not two people get a nobel prize recently for showing that everyone was wrong about the causes of stomach ulcers?”

    Sorry Jim but that isnt how it happenned. There were a whole lot ideas floating around about stomach ulcers. Notorious was the hypothesis of stress as a causative agent. But at the time biochemistry and physiology wasnt well understood compared to today (this is preMolecular Biology era). Microbiology was also relatively primitive – it was largely based on growing bacteria in petri dishes. This approach had been useful but most bacteria are in fact hard to grow. Anyway these limitations were increasingly recognised and Barry Marshall wondered maybe there was a bug involved (at the time it was more generally hotly debated how far viruses and other microorganisms were caused or associated with SOME cancers). This now is a non-issue as we know anything that screws with DNA can do this (viruse, radiation, mutagens, random miscopies). But the knowlege then didnt provide ideal clear examples in humans (though mouse and cat leukemia viruses which said it was more a matter of time).

    Of course people had looked for microorganisms causing ulcers in the past e.g. boils and carbuncles induced by S. aureus illustrates what is possible – but because they hadnt found anything and the stomach is pretty acid according to the medical paradigms of the time you wouldnt find live bacteria . However there were new technologies emerging at the time to address this needle in a haystack challenge – Scanning Electron Microscopy and fluorescence microscopy for example as well as new growth media for new bugs like Helicobacter – which they used to think was a Campylobacter. I’m pretty certain I remember seeing an early oral paper by one of your heroes showing some SEM pictures of this corkscrew bug. Interesting and plausible to me but the medical people were not convinced immediately – until Barry (?apocryphally?) took a swig of the bug and satisfied Koch’s postulates.

    Why I’ve told this story is that though this was a fabulous discovery and worthy of a Nobel:
    1. It fitted into the already evolving and improving understanding of the physical structure of the (microbiological) world.
    2. That Nobel work was not the product of some Velikovskian or Ayn Randian super-crank beavering away in a private laboratory but the product of some smart guys immersed in a larger scientific community – which is currently being trashed through a thousand cuts in the name of efficiency KPIs and other pseudoscientific business crap.
    3. While some of their research undoubtably used empirical reasoning this work integrated a whole swathe of fundamental scientific theories – subatomic theory supported the SEMs, physiology microbiology biochemistry all contributed to the discovery its detailing and the development of a really neat biochemical screening test.
    4. The science/medicine community was able to say happily hmmm, we had somethings wrong – ok now lets move onwards.

    This is how real science works and this included those disciplines inputting into current understanding of climate change. Unfortunately most outsiders dont seem to understand this and think their views on science are just as valid as a practititioner. Regretably though science is not an exercise in democracy.

    Jim your comments suggest you are struggling to understand what science is about, and why and how empiricism, hypothesis testing, theories and paradigms all fit together. Accordingly I suggest you read or do a course on philosophy of science – or maybe do a basic course in some basic sciences so you start to get an inkling at least of where things evolved (this stuff wasnt well taught when I first went through). Maybe if you have time have a look at this neat article which illustrates the difference between empiricism and theory based science. Dyson, F., 2004. A meeting with Enrico Fermi. Nature 427, 297-297.

    A final comment – all scientists I know (a lot) who look at economics by contrast find it perplexing in that it purports to be a kind of science but its structure, practice and theory are not what you see with conventional science. Neoclassical economics especially appears to be a case of making up a story and then forcing all information to conform to the normative narrative often using empiricism. Scientists do this a bit to test interesting ideas. But when they do it in extremis and there is dispute this is condemned as ‘Fudging’ and is questioned until the perpetrator either crawls back into their hole or gathers sufficient body of support to change the paradigm and is lionized. Its real constructive skepticism – and quite different from this climate denial nonsense that currently masquerades as skepticism.

  32. @Newtownian That’s a good point, “breakthrough discoveries” are usually the result of numerous studies and articles published in peer reviewed journals. Of course there is always an individual who likes to claim the credit.

  33. @rog

    While all science is built on the shoulders of the work of others I would still also not want to take anything away from Barry Marshall and his role in the helicobacter story and the resulting accolades – Or suggest brilliance doesnt exist or play a role.

    If I have done that, I recant, as science seems to progress through a combination of collective activities, and individual inspiration which may involve sudden insight or be the result of long hard yakka or even both.

    Regarding the latter the classic story you may be familiar with is that of Russell and Darwin. The former reputedly stumbled on survival of the fittest insight suddenly while recovering from a bout of Malaria (after lots of research) while the latter developed ‘natural selection’ over twenty years of painstaking work mostly in England. The happy outcome was they apparently got on well and shared the accolades. This is a good example of a really big breakthrough after lots of hard work on the part of the protagonists.

    That said fantastic insight can also come to well prepared minds from out of the blue. The two great science examples are the Anni Mirabilis of Newton (1666) and Einstein (1905). I came across the latter while looking up some stuff on Brownian Diffusion – this latter is totally different to the famous relativity stuff – but no less elegant. In all Einstein produced 4 DIFFERENT papers in 1 year any one of which should have got him a Nobel. Probably he had a bit of insufficiently acknowledged help and he did build on the work of others. But this doesnt detract from his genius.

  34. @Newtownian

    One suspects Einstein’s Jewish ethnicity played a role in the failure of these 1905 papers to get the recognition they deserved.

  35. @Jim Rose

    “The hard sciences are rather backward sciences as compared to the social sciences because they can neither use introspection or interviews. Ever asked a rock why it does what it does? Much of economics can be deduced from the fact of scarcity. The hard sciences are primitive because they must wait for experiments and data.”

    After this what should I say to your responses.

    Should I take them seriously or conclude they reflect an extended April Fools day. Probably the latter. However I do know people who really believe this sort of stuff sooo..

    So maybe its just time to close this thread and wish you a good weekend.

  36. @Fran Barlow

    He did get one Nobel eventually though – And he helped open a Pandora’s Box view of the Universe which is still being worked through. As importantly he along with his peers demonstrated what fundamental science style natural philosophy is about. And his softly spoken humanity is still an example to all. Not bad, not too bad at all.

    Conversely you have to worry if he had been more Germanic like Heisenberg whether the Nazi’s nuclear program would have been more successful – shudder. Maybe in this instance bigotry saved us.

  37. @Newtownian you should think more deeply about what you think you know about economics.

    Stigler pointed out that the canons of economics and conflicting empirical evidence allow for a wide range of viewpoints among economists.

    as you know, market socialism is based on neoclassical economics.

    market socialists such as Lerner and Lange made arguments that provoked a fruitful debate and deeper thinking on the subject of economic calculation by those with which they disagreed between the two wars such as Mises and Hayek.

    As late as 1989, Samuelson was arguing that : “Contrary to what many skeptics had earlier believed, the Soviet economy is proof that … a socialist command economy can function and even thrive.”

    The collapse of the Soviet Union came as a surprise to many neoeconomists. Its economy had long been portrayed in best selling undergraduate textbooks such as Samuelson’s as a viable alternative economic system to capitalism. Brute experience showed Samuelson to be wrong.

  38. @Jim Rose

    And post-communist Russia just proves that pure unrestrained capitalism is much better than a perverted version of communism in which a powerful dictatorial ruling elite tell the nation how to run – for the good of the “people”, of course.

    Or perhaps they’re roughly the same thing.

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