Archive for February, 2011

Here’s the lazy man’s no science needed guide to why the anthropogenic global warming crowd is not worth listening to

February 27, 2011

Ken at PopeHat wrote the following:

As a result of my laziness, I am willfully ignorant — practically innumerate and scientifically demi-literate. Thus, when I evaluate the scientific issues of the day — from global warming to evolution — I am, on some level, succumbing to an argument from authority. Which people spouting science I barely grasp, using methodology I can’t follow past the Sunday-supplement level, do I believe?

As it happens, I find the evidence (as I understand it) of evolution to be very substantially more convincing than the criticisms levied against it. Similarly, I find the evidence of a global warming trend more convincing than the evidence and arguments to the contrary. The weight of consensus on one side or the other is one factor, though by no means a deciding factor. The whys and wherefores of that are far beyond the scope of this post.

I offered the following comment, reproduced here in case it gets lost in moderation:

Here’s the lazy man’s unscientific guide to why the anthropogenic global warming (human caused global warming) crowd is not worth listening to.

1: If the people who claimed they believe in it actually did believe in it, it would affect their actions, and their lives.

Al Gore, nevertheless, had a house in Nashville TN that used 20x the average amount of energy. Further, he had a swimming pool, and did not have a solar heater for teh swimming pool, even though solar heaters are cost effective. Would he act that way if he actually thought there was a problem?

Or, consider this. As a logical matter it is simply not possible to believe all four of the following things. Nevertheless, those trumpeting that “we must do something” tend to hold all four beliefs:

A: The world is warming up
B: This warming is caused by human activity
C: This warming is a bad thing, will lead to disaster, it’s a serious crisis, we must cut down on carbon emissions right now!
D: We should not make it easier, cheaper, and faster to build nuclear power plants, despite the fact that replacing coal, oil, and gas fired power plants with nuclear plants would lead to a significant and near immediate decrease in carbon emissions.

2: ClimateGate. Real science is reproducible. If you publish a paper claiming that you got certain results, and no one else can get those same results doing what you said you did, the immediate assumption in scientific circles is that you have committed fraud. This is why, when you publish a scientific paper, you have to give pretty much anyone who asks everything they need to re-create your work.

This is non-negotiable in pretty much every area of science (and pretty much every area of research. Remember Michael Bellesiles and Arming America”? His fraud was discovered when those who disagreed with him tried to replicate his research, and couldn’t).

Except for Climate “Science”. ClimateGate happened because the people at CRU fought tooth and nail to avoid having to release the data, tools, and methods behind their published papers. Post release, they’ve admitted that they can not replicate the data behind their papers.

None of the “scientific” groups that claim to release historical temperature records have ever given a full release of the data, tools, and methods behind their claims. None of them have ever said “here’s the data we used, here’s what we did to clean up and organize the data, here’s the programs (with source code) we used to do it.”

If they were not perpetrating fraud, they would have done that. It’s what any real scientist would do after publishing a paper based on a data set that they’d worked on. But if they did that, then people who do understand the science would be able to examine their assumptions. Would be able to point out how other, perfectly reasonable, ways of adjusting the data would lead to results that totally contradict the “scientists” preferred results.

How do I know that’s true? Because if it wasn’t true, there would be no reason not to release the data.

3: When last I checked the numbers, there was a heating trend of 1 degree C from 1900 to 1950, a cooling trend of 0.5 degrees C from 1950 to 1970, a warming trend of 0.3 degrees C from 1970 to 1998, and a flat to cooling trend since then. Going from that to “Human industrial activity is warming the planet, oh woe is us” requires a great ability to ignore any data that contradicts your preferred fantasy.

Kudos to DougJ for drawing the line just right so he could ignore all the inconvenient data.

State worker pay and the value of a college education

February 27, 2011

By way of the MinuteMan I came across this article in the NY Times comparing the pay of State workers to private sector workers.  Key grafs:

The clearest pattern to emerge is an educational divide: workers without college degrees tend to do better on state payrolls, while workers with college degrees tend to do worse. That divide has grown more pronounced in recent decades. Since 1990, the median wage of state workers without college degrees has come to surpass that of workers in the private sector. During the same period, though, college-educated state workers have seen their median pay lag further behind their peers in the private sector.

At the local level, the phenomenon is similar: the median wage for college-educated workers trails that of their private-sector counterparts by about 20 percent, while local workers without college degrees earn 10 percent more than their private-sector peers.

This is a clear example of “people unclear on the concept” (and I’m sad to say Tom appears to have missed this as well).  Allow me to break some new for the NY Times:

All college degrees are not equal.

Consider the folowing fields of “study”:

Sociology, Ethnic studies, Queer studies, History, Literature, Education, History of Consciousness, Political Science, Women’s Studies

What percentage of government employees have degrees in those fields?  What is the actual, real world value of the “education” received while attaining those degrees?  0?  Something negative?

higher education bubble, meet overpaid government workers.

Because while the private sector certainly suffers from too much credentialitis, it’s not nearly as bad there as it is in government, where people often get raises based solely on the fact that they’ve received a degree, no matter what that degree is.

You want to compare public and private sector?  Great, compare apples to apples.  Compare public school teacher salaries to private school teacher salaries.  Leave out the seniority, and whether they have an advanced degree, because that is irrelevant.  The only thing that is relevant is “how good is the teacher at teaching her / his students?”  And the “Teacher’s Unions” fight tooth and nail against any attempt to figure that out, let alone reward people based on it.

“Because the public sector is much more likely to be highly educated, we would fully expect them to earn more on average because of that, just like we would expect somebody with a master’s degree to earn more than somebody with a high school education,” said Keith A. Bender, an economics professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who has studied compensation in the public and private sectors.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.  I would hope and expect that the average mechanic makes far more than does the average person with a Racist or Sexists Studies degree, be it BA, MA, or PH. D.  Certainly the mechanic has learned far more of value, and provides far more value, than does anyone with such a degree.

What would actually be interesting, valuable, and never actually happen, is a comparison of degrees.  Federal / State / Local Government Employees / Private sector workers v. actual degrees attained (Field and whether it’s a BA / BS / MA / MS / Ph. D.).  It will never happen, because the results would show that the “college educated” goverment “workers”, by and large, have a much higher percentage of joke degress than do people in the private sector.

Which would quite adequately explain why they “make less”.