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Fun With Cutting And Pasting

Dafydd ab Hugh has a fascinating dissection of a New York Times piece today regarding the Navy's plan to shoot down a failing and falling US spy satellite. As the ever-worthy Dafydd notes, it's a wonderful example of "damned if you do, damned if you don't" arguing: if the missile fails, then the whole idea of missile defense is worthless; if it succeeds, it doesn't prove anything.

I'm not going to recap Dafydd's arguments -- they stand just fine on their own, without my "improving" on them -- but while I was reading it, I felt the urge to apply the same sort of reasoning to a few causes that the New York Times traditionally champions:

Education:
successes with vouchers, private schools, charter schools, and other reforms championed by conservatives mean nothing; the consistent failures of the public school system mean that enough money has not yet been thrown at the problem.

Gun control
: no matter how the murder rate tends to rise with tighter gun controls, no matter how many people die in mass shootings in "gun-free zones," the solution to gun violence is always to take guns away from everyone. Naturally, the plans call for starting with the law-abiding gun owners first. I'm not quite sure how that will make people safer, but that always seems to be the first step.

Global warming:
every single climatic event is proof of global warming. Nastier winters, milder winters, high hurricane season, low hurricane season, warmer summers, cooler summers, increased rainfall, decreased rainfall, average wing-beat velocity of migrating swallows, groundhog shadow perception -- everything. If you ever want to have some fun with a believer in global warming, ask them to cite something that would cause them to doubt that the phenomenon exists. They're like the worst of the religious zealots -- EVERYTHING reinforces their faith, and absolutely NOTHING can challenge it.

I can see why the New York Times is taking that approach to the upcoming missile test. Life is so much easier if you start with your conclusion, then work backwards to make everything support it. It's kind of like the conspiracy nuts who fixate over the Kennedy assassination or the 9/11 attacks, but couched in slightly less crazy packaging.


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Comments (21)

I heard on the new today th... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

I heard on the new today that some California state legislator wants public high schools to offer a course on Global Warming. Once again, someone is starting with a conclusion and wants to teach children their views in the name of science. I'm all for a course on Climate or even Climate Change where ALL peer reviewed science on the subject is reviewed.

According to CNN Obama "Supports national law against carrying concealed weapons, with exceptions for retired police and military personnel." Obama is starting off with the conclusion that law abiding citizens somehow contribute to crime, and thus, taking away their ability to carry them somehow reduces crime. It matters not to Obama that the statistics show just the opposite.

You forget Darwin's theorie... (Below threshold)
Baggi:

You forget Darwin's theories on evolution. Of course, this is always what the New York Times means by the word evolution, Darwin's theories or Neo-Darwinian theories.

Every single scientific discovery is proof of Darwinian evolution. Even when a scientific discovery completely contradicts are previously held to be factual scientific discovery, it still fits perfectly into the framework of Darwinian evolution.

Hey, Baggi. If you are goin... (Below threshold)
Dodo David:

Hey, Baggi. If you are going to make a wild claim about evolution theory, then please be so kind as to support your claim with evidence. Otherwise, I will have no reason to believe what you claim.

Actually, Baggi makes a poi... (Below threshold)

Actually, Baggi makes a point — just not the one he thinks he's making. I had almost exactly that kind of discussion once with a "young Earth" creationist. I asked them what it would take to convince them that the Earth is more than 6000 years old, or that species can come about through explainable, natural means; their answer was essentially that nothing could so convince them. (It took a significant amount of discussion of grammar, and a thesaurus, to finally convince them that that's what they were saying.)

They then asked what it would take to convince me that the Earth was not older than 6000 years, or that species cannot come about naturally from predecessors. My answer was that there were hundreds of ways they could convince me that they were right about the age of the Earth; how about a repeatable experiment that shows that Carbon-14 does not decay at a constant rate? And that there were numerous ways likewise that they could convince me that speciation does not occur naturally, but they would have to start by convincing me that all of the many experiments with insects and the like that showed speciation under controlled but natural conditions were fraudulent or misinterpreted.

The discussion then moved on to how I was too stubborn to accept The Truth.

Global Warming advocates and militant atheists — heck, any radical religious types — are similarly tedious.

they would have to... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
they would have to start by convincing me that all of the many experiments with insects and the like that showed speciation under controlled but natural conditions were fraudulent or misinterpreted.

How about if they showed you that no such experiments exist?

For all the experimentation done on insects none has ever produced a new species. Carbon 14 decays at a known and constant rate, but it's not created at a known or constant rate in the atmosphere. Tree rings are used to calibrate for this variability in carbon 14 production, but there's no such check for other radiometric dating techniques that use much longer half-life isotopes. All of these techniques assume a homogeneous mix of elements in the rock prior to solidification. That fundamental requirement has been shown to be wrong in many specific instances. Thus, the scientific dating of the Earth as well as the sequence of fossils found in it is on shaky ground. The theory of evolution is used as a check for radiometric dating and radiometric dating is used to validate the theory of evolution. That circular logic works for "science" because it rejects the only alternative explanation. Why, because one of the most fundamental tenets of science is that the universe is unreasoning, and thus, any explanation relying on intelligence is not scientific by definition.

The problem is that science's most fundamental tenets are statements of faith, not fact. That's true because a being as described in the Bible could frustrate any experiment intended to discover them if that was their purpose. Of course it would take a miracle to convince some that evolution is based on faith and curricular logic.

However, the 6,000 year-old-earth theory is based on one interpretation of the Bible, but it's not the only interpretation. It all hinges on a the meaning of a single Hebrew word. It's relatively straight forward to show a young earth advocated that there is another possible interpretation for the biblical underpinnings of a young Earth. Thus, it's much easier for them to accept an alternative explanation of the Earth's age than to convince an evolutionist there's an alliterative explanation to life.

Jay, why didn't you address... (Below threshold)
BarneyG2000:

Jay, why didn't you address the real issue? At first the word out of the Bush administration was there was nothing to fear. Now we have to blast it so toxic fuels wont harm the populace?

Like they didn't know that in the first place? The Bush administration failed to launch a spy satellite into the proper orbit they knew it was going to fall back to earth.

It looks like another example of Bush's incompetence.

Barney now thinks that Geor... (Below threshold)
SPQR:

Barney now thinks that George Bush personally builds space launchers.

Sheesh, Barney, I think you are getting dumber over time.

It used to be "All the News... (Below threshold)

It used to be "All the News That's Fit to Print" but somewhere along the way it became "All the News That Fits, We Print". The "Grey Lady" has certainly seen better days.

Now we can watch Murdoch run her into the ground as he repositions the Wall Street Journal as a direct competitor and takes on the NYT head to head. Battle of the Titans.

spgr, we were told that th... (Below threshold)
BarneyG2000:

spgr, we were told that there were no concern, so what is your explanation? Is it ignorance of the toxic nature of what is on board or do they have secondary purpose?

Do I really have to "tool" you in consecutive treads?

Barney, you are really not ... (Below threshold)
SPQR:

Barney, you are really not going to "tool" anyone but yourself. In this thread or any other.

Claiming that a failed space launch is an example of Bush's incompetence already showed that you are a blithering idiot.

The material of concern on ... (Below threshold)
Maggie:

The material of concern on the failing satellite
is hydrazine. Not so much concerned with toxicity
is the fact this stuff is so flammable it burns
anything it touches including concrete, dirt, etc.
Of course it's also a very efficient oxygen
scavenger.
Having personally worked with the shit stuff, I remember my boss
telling me if it's leaking out of containment
don't be the little dutch boy, and use your
finger to stop the leak.
Of course its notoriety is McChimpyBushHitler's
fault.
/sarc

Ok hopefully Maggie didn't/... (Below threshold)
Knightbrigade:

Ok hopefully Maggie didn't/doesn't work at Dunkin Donuts.
Anyway this situation is being dealt with, can the libtards just STFU for once and stop being negative?!
YA know..... it could hit a progressive house just as easy as any other.

I used to patronize Dunkin'... (Below threshold)
Maggie:

I used to patronize Dunkin'Donuts, never
worked there.
Hydrazine is one of the components used in the
making of raw materials in units as olefins.
/ex chemical jockey

The poster of this rant nee... (Below threshold)
Paul:

The poster of this rant needs to get his facts straight regarding his attacks on the believers of global warming. When discussing the wing-beat velocity of migrating swallows he does not even differentiate between the African & European swallow.

I think Jay and other glob... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

I think Jay and other global warming sceptics or deniers don't understand how are ecosytems in this planet are linked. That's why there are so many signs of the efects of glbal warming, and nowhere more so than in our oceans..for example in this week's 'National Geographical News'

No Pristine Oceans Left, New Map Shows..

Every area of the oceans is feeling the effects of fishing, pollution, or human-caused global warming and some regions are being affected by all of these factors and more... Of all the human effects on the ecosystem climate change is having by far the largest overall impact, the researchers. estimate ..(for example in the phenomenon of acid oceans).. carbon dioxide dissolves into ocean waters, turning them more acidic, which makes it harder for corals, shellfish, and other animals to grow their protective skeletons or shells
.
Steve, when the global warm... (Below threshold)
SPQR:

Steve, when the global warming advocates can even produce a single good, completely reviewed, open data access, open methodology study of historical temperatures that shows current temperatures are actually unprecedented, then I'll believe its human-caused.

The short version of this p... (Below threshold)

The short version of this phenomenon:

"Heads, I win; tails, you lose."

RE Global Warming fundament... (Below threshold)
Mark:

RE Global Warming fundamentalism:
Gore said it;
I believe it;
That settles it!

Yes SPQR, temperatures were... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Yes SPQR, temperatures were warmer during the early middle ages and in other longer periods ages or epochs ago. It is the end of the thread, so I will just list some passages that might point the way that not withstanding, the recent increased Co2 emissions over the last few decades, are the reason for this smaller current global warming period.

The report confirms that the current level of carbon dioxide, a critical heat-trapping gas in the atmophsere "exceeds by far the natural range over the last 650,000 years." Since the dawn of the industrial era, carbon dioxide and other key heat-trapping gases have increased at a rate that is "very likely to have been unprecedented in more than 10,000 years."

Now the historical record that talks to your point that yes that the current high temperature levels are not 'unprecedented'.

These lags show that rising CO2 did not trigger the initial warming at the end of these ice ages - but then, no one claims it did. They do not undermine the idea that more CO2 in the atmosphere warms the planet.

We know CO2 is a greenhouse gas because it absorbs and emits infrared. Fairly basic physics proves that such gases will trap heat radiating from Earth, and that the planet would be a lot colder if this did not happen.

This does not mean that there will be a perfect correlation between past temperature and past CO2 levels. Many other factors also affect the climate: when there are big changes in these factors, the relationship between CO2 and temperature will be obscured.

So why, over the past million years or so, has Earth repeatedly switched between ice ages and warmer periods? The long-held theory is that this is due to variations in Earth's orbit - known as Milankovitch cycles - that change the amount and location of solar energy reaching Earth. These correspond with most - but not all - climate transitions (see Graph). However, their direct heating or cooling effect is small, and does not fully explain the temperature switches.

and getting back to the oceans..

While CO2 was only a secondary player in the ice ages, further back in time there are examples of warming triggered by rises in CO2 (see below). What the ice ages tell us is that temperature can influence CO2 levels as well as vice versa, which is a cause for concern. At the moment, the oceans are soaking up 40 per cent of the extra CO2 we are emitting. If they switch to emitting CO2 instead, cuts in human emissions will make little difference.


First the IPCC is a politic... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

First the IPCC is a political body, not a scientific body. Second, like other U.N. committees, the IPCC is fundamentally corrupt. In 2007 over 400 prominent scientists voiced significant objections to major aspects of the so-called "consensus" on man-made global warming. That's more than the actual number of IPCC reviews. Actual as in offering any input, rather than just being on a list.

The tide turned in 2007 with more peer reviewed scientific studies disputing aspects of the IPCC's position than supporting it. More and more evidence shows the surface temperature data is corrupt due to weather stations being improperly located (funny). Satellite data shows no warming trend in the last 8 years.

MAc Lorry. . .SPec... (Below threshold)
Ryan:

MAc Lorry. . .

SPecies are a HUMAN category, not an irreducible thing like a rock.

FUrthermore, there are demonstratably new species - ones that did not previously exist and ones that no longer exist. I'm listing a number of bullet points, tell me which ones you disagree with.

1: Animals - and people - have offspring;

2: those offspring inherit some, but not all, of the characteristics of their parents.

3: Not all of the offspring are equally likely to survive.

4: The ones that survive are much more likely to have children that pass on their characteristics than those that do not survive.

Unless you disagree with one of those statements, you logically are accepting evolution on at least some scale.

HEck, we have massive evolution experiments: Dogs. Bred Cattle. In those cases WE make the selection pressure: What we like. ANd the time scale is vastly accelerated. Yet it is, demonstratibly, evolution.




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