Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Still Blogging in a Twitter World

I've taken some time off from blogging, and might take more. I just don't see the return in it, unless somehow I can make some money from it. Or I might take to Twitter (@davidappell), where short and pithy comments are easier and more appreciated, and equally meaningless.

Some things I've noticed lately:
  • This paper in the journal Atmospheric Environment looks at air pollution in China is causing 418,000 to 514,000 deaths annually (I think it's per year), with 511,000 deaths avoided in the last decade. (The abstract isn't absolutely clear about the time periods of the numbers involved.) That's a lot of air pollution.
  • This press release about prostate cancer says that 90 million American adults read below the high school level. (It advocates dumbing down patient information.) Can that possibly be true? If so, damn, we're a pretty dumb country. American Exceptionalism? Yeah, right.
  • I don't know either if Michael Mann has any chance of winning his lawsuit against NRO, Mark Steyn, and Rand Simberg -- an article in Science magazine minimizes his chances, but doesn't put them at zero --  but clearly what those pseudo-intellectuals wrote was deplorable. (And completely devoid of science -- the hockey stick has been replicated by several other groups and completely independent mathematical techniques.) Of course, accuracy and insight has never been what the attacks on Mann have been about -- they're about plunging a finger in what's been manufactured to be seen as an open wound, seeking to enlarge and inflame it. I think Mann will go down in history as the Galileo of our time, and his assailants as the ignorant Catholic officials whose truculence represented the beginning of the end of their misplaced ideas. 
  • That said, I don't think authors for the IPCC ought to go around claiming they are Nobel Laureates, as Mann has recently attracted some attention for doing. What's wrong with the title "Nobel Contributor?" (Scientific American recently wrote about the need for the Nobel committee to better recognize groups and not just individuals.) It maintains its due connection to the prize, but doesn't place the title holder in the set of Bohr and Dirac, Feynman and Weinberg (where they don't belong). To me it sounds just right.
  • Richard Cohen nails it in the Washington Post: "The president who seems not to care."
    "...somewhere between the campaign and the White House itself, Obama got lost. It turned out he had no cause at all. Expanding health insurance was Hillary Clinton’s longtime goal, and even after Obama adopted it, he never argued for it with any fervor. In an unfairly mocked campaign speech, he promised to slow the rise of the oceans and begin to heal the planet. But when he took office, climate change was abandoned — too much trouble, too much opposition. His eloquence, it turned out, was reserved for campaigning. 
    "Obama never espoused a cause bigger than his own political survival. This is the gravamen of the indictment from the left, particularly certain African Americans. They are right. Young black men fill the jails and the morgues, yet Obama says nothing. Bobby Kennedy showed his anger, his impatience, his stunned incredulity at the state of black America. Obama shows nothing."
    Honestly, do you have any impression that Obama wants anything more than to get re-elected -- or that Mitt Romney would sell his children, if he could, to attain the office? I still think Steve Duin of The Oregonian said it best, this July:
    "Who still believes that either candidate wants anything from the rest of us beyond a show of hands?"
    This election marks the end of my belief that much of anything will ever again change for the better in America -- or that it's possible in a country of our size. In a Twitter world, what do you expect, really?


The Sanity Inspector said...

Aesthetic disdain is not a healthy attitude towards democracy. It is a common academic vice: to conclude that, because one is more widely educated than most anyone at random, one is therefore more intelligent than everyone put together. It isn't so.

David Appell said...

TSI: People who can't read at a high school level are hardly paragons of earthly wisdom. They might know a thing or two, but mostly they're just dumb.

Doug said...

Mark Steyn is one of the best satirical polemicists writing in the English language today, and your characterization of him as a "pseudo-intellectual," while praising Mann as the Galileo of our time shows how desperate you've become for blog traffic.

You've amused Mark and he's linked to your comment. I'm hoping Anthony Watts doesn't take the bait.

David Appell said...

Just goes to show -- "satirical polemicists" don't know crap about science.

Hal said...

Oh brother. Why don't you google Richard Muller for his insights about your precious Michael Mann.

David Appell said...

Oh brother. I have already written about Muller's objections -- about the hockey stick, he was clearly wrong:


Hal said...

You call that an argument against Muller. Laughable.

OH well.....your qualifications compared to Mullers. Nuff said.
Or perhaps Judith Curry? Nope she's more qualified than you too.

Pielke Jr.? Nope, same thing.

Lindzen? Damn....another supremely qualified scientist who disagrees with you.

I'm afraid I will side with the rational scientists while you can continue to embarrass yourself supporting the enormously self important nobel laureate himself!!!

Hal said...

P.S. A new paper out by Briffa (of all people) shows that the following papers utilized Mann's now tarnished data.

Perhaps these were some of the papers you were referring to?

Rutherford et al 05
Jones 98
Crowley 00
Briffa 00
Esper 02
Mann, Jones 03
Osborn, Briffa 06
D’Arrigo et al 06

David Appell said...

What paper by Briffa?

(Your appeals to authority are weak tea.)

David Appell said...


1) What is tarnished about the data?

2) Why would tarnished data, revealed now, make Mann the devil?

-- David

Doug said...

27David Appell said...

Just goes to show -- "satirical polemicists" don't know crap about science.


Neither does your "Galileo." He was always about driving policy through manipulated science. He's as much a polemicist as Steyn but he lacks the wit to be satirical.

He's a fraud. There I've said it, Michael. Sue me.

David Appell said...

What manipulation?

Prove it or shut up.

Hal said...


Hal said...

And these other two recent papers that disappear the "hockey stick". I'm a bit shocked that you aren't aware of them. Perhaps you should get a better source than MM???


Or this one. "Variability and extremes of northern Scandinavian summer temperatures over the past two millennia

Jan Esper, Ulf Büntgen, Mauri Timonen, David C. Frank"


Palaeoclimatic evidence revealed synchronous temperature variations among Northern Hemisphere regions over the past millennium. The range of these variations (in degrees Celsius) is, however, largely unknown. We here present a 2000-year summer temperature reconstruction from northern Scandinavia and compare this timeseries with existing proxy records to assess the range of reconstructed temperatures at a regional scale. The new reconstruction is based on 578 maximum latewood density profiles from living and sub-fossil Pinus sylvestris samples from northern Sweden and Finland.

The record provides evidence for substantial warmth during Roman and Medieval times, larger in extent and longer in duration than 20th century warmth.

Hal said...

And needless to say (but I will anyway) that the dogged and brilliant Steve McIntyre predicted this in 2005.

Hal said...

And finally, you dare to call my reference to several highly qualified and eminent scientists, an appeal to authority? That's really rich isn't it? You've been doing it for years with the IPCC and the usual suspects otherwise known as "the team". I don't think an argument to authority makes any sense for either position. Mine is an argument based on the best science. The difference is that I seem to be able to tell who has the best science and arguments and you don't.

After you've read the papers we can continue this discussion. I wonder what you'll say?

Dr. Hal

David Appell said...

Hal: I'm well aware of the literature.

I don't want to know what you can cut-and-paste -- I want to know what you understand.

What is the problems with Mann's methods, in your own words?

David Appell said...

Hal wrote:

And why do you think this makes Mann a fraud?

This seems to be a paper questioning his methodology..... Such papers have appeared since the beginning of time -- it's the story of science -- someone puts a calculation out there, and other people evaluate it and find its problems, or better methods....

So what is Mann's crime?

Chuck said...

His being a fraud is what makes him a fraud. He's a carnival barker hiding behind bogus computer models.

Cingoldby said...

Whoops, it seems like David Appell has bitten off more than he can chew!

Criticising appeals to authority when an appeal has actually been made to data and evidence and then basing your own argument on a blatant appeal to authority is hilarious.

Is this blog for real or is it actually a brilliant satire on how desperate the global warmists are getting?

Jackwagon said...

There are many dissenting opinions in the scientific community concerning anthropogenic climate change, that all have one thing in common: their opinions aren't subsidized.

Pouring money into research that will only continue if the results are positive will result in more positive results, and the applause of others in the same racket.

Hal said...


I didn't say he was a "fraud". I said his use of data has been shown to be "tarnished", i.e. wrong. As for explaining "in my own words" I'll get back to you when I have a bit more time. But the literature seems very clear to me that Mann's hockey stick is severely damaged.

Unknown said...

Did Galileo sue the Catholic Church for criticizing his science? Hm.

X said...

If Galileo was alive, he'd sue you for associating him with those Penn State cats.

Unknown said...

Mr. Appell, you are correct in pointing out that the hockey stick has been replicated. The problem is, it can be replicated with red noise (random walk) data in lieu of actual tree ring measurements. So the hockey stick is a product of some serious data molestation rather than an inherent feature in the data.

Bop said...

The Catholic Church was quite right in its argument with Galileo. Unfortunately we live in a dark age where historical and theological illiterates are not only so ignorant as to believe that they actually know something, but also think they know better than the Church. May God help them.


Jay Alt said...

Hal: The temperatures of FennoScandinavia during medieval times tell us little of global temperature reconstructions or trends. I enjoy dominos now and then. But domino theory is not a substitute for scientific enquiry. And they make a very bad pizza.