Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Global Warming and Argumentum ad numerum

OK, please try to follow the spoor trail here because it’s a little long but trust me - It's worth it.

James Taranto at Best of the Web Today (first item) calls attention to Scientific American blogger Christopher Mim’s cherrypicking of data from a poll mentioned on yet another blog site, in a vain attempt punch up the Global Warming scare with a kind of pop-consensus angle.

Taranto promptly skewers the poll and its silly findings with his ‘sarcasm tag’ discretely hidden:

“Well, if 63% of the American public says it, it must be true, right? That's how science works!”
Which is a great deal more entertaining than flatly pointing out that some people are engaging in Argumentum ad numerum .

Taranto then takes up Mim’s invitation to check the rest of the results and then uses what he finds to further beat down the Global Warmers. But what really caught my eye in the BOTW piece was the closing paragraph, where he refers to two poll questions on page 3 of 8 in the questionnaire (link to .pdf ):

And if you think the people in the survey are unqualified to weigh in on such matters, they beg to differ: 71% of them agreed with the statement "I consider myself an intellectual," and 59% agreed that "I have more ability than most people." We'll bet a high proportion of them read Scientific American.

And based upon those responses I’ll bet an even higher proportion of them are unskilled and unaware of it (.pdf).

The (few) regular visitors to this blog have seen this linked reference before, but for anyone who visits rarely or never before, it takes your browser to a wonderful APA paper that explains a lot of things you may have been wondering about. It has the winning little title of Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments”. Get your own copy and read the fascinating AND entertaining findings. If the title didn’t grab you here’s the overview (emphasis mine):

People tend to hold overly favorable views of their abilities in many social and intellectual domains. The authors suggest that this overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it. Across 4 studies, the authors found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability. Although their test scores put them in the 12th percentile, they estimated themselves to be in the 62nd. Several analyses inked this miscalibration to deficits in metacognitive skill, or the capacity to distinguish accuracy from error. Paradoxically, improving the skills of participants, and thus increasing their metacognitive competence, helped them recognize the limitations of their abilities.
I view this ‘poll’ for what it is: an indicator of the how well the global-warming scaremonger propaganda machine has performed to date. Too bad for the ‘Warmer’s side that Langmuir plays the long game.

Addendum: Wow! What are the Odds? Scrolling further down in BOTW to the fifth item, we find a ‘Kos Kid’ who from the skills demonstrated, also might have been a majority respondent in the Yale poll.

To close, in case anyone is interested in seriously exploring the Global Warming issue, I gave some good starting links a while back here.

Update: I decided to read the comments at the Mim's SciAm site and 'The Sietch'. At The Sietch, I found the post's author declaring he wasn't taking a position, just passing along information. I take him at his word and wanted to tell him so. Therefore I tried to leave the followup comment on his site -- but I don't leave real e-mail addresses where they are published. If I had been able to leave a comment I would have told him:

If you were just passing along the info, you should have mentioned that fact in your post where I could have seen it BEFORE I lumped you in with SciAm's Mim at my place. Advocacy such as: "It’s clear that the public is not waiting for the government to take the lead. Americans no longer think it’s entirely the domain of government to solve environmental problems. They expect companies to step up and address climate change and other concerns” when passed along without comment,looks an awful lot like "agreement".

Monday, March 26, 2007

Iranians Like Taking Those Hostages Don't They?

Taking Hostages is the First Instinct of a Second-Class Tyrant
I started to post this bit as a comment to this piece at In From The Cold, then I decided my verbosity could end up stealing a lot of blog space that wasn't mine, so let me me now just give Spook 86 his 'hat tip' from this locale and using my own bandwidth.

To an outsider this misadventure would appear to be a pretty clever move by the Iranians (or some subset thereof from this point forward referred to at 'they' and derivitaves thereof) whereby Iranians hope they can pull off another fast one if they:

1. Don't provoke the 'Great Satan 'directly
2. Can get the desired results by scooping up Coalition partner troops.
Spook 86 makes a good summary of the likely game they are playing, i.e. 'swapping' the Brits kidnapped from Iraqi waters for the pile of Iranian 'operators' we seem to have been collecting lately.

This act speaks volumes as to how the Iranians think and what they believe. If they thought for one minute that we (U.S and/or Great Britain) would take immediate and forceful punitive steps against them, they never would have done it in the first place. That they opted to take Britons instead of Americans, tells us they were betting on a more tepid response than if they had tried to do the same against the U.S. That they got the intial response they were looking for has to give them a sense of confidence in their operation to date (let us hope that it is as misplaced as I think it is).

So What is Iran's Plan B?
I don't think the Iranians really thought this through very well at all. The likelihood of a quick ending to the situation through a swap of kidnap victims for prisoners is, I believe, small...unless the Iranians who were captured in Iraq also happen to be in UK custody.

Spook 86 points out that this kind of move is a desperate one, and I don't think we will have to escalate this very much before the Iranians decide maybe it wasn't such a good idea after all. Iran, as poorly connected to the world as it is, is very much dependent upon Globalization and the rule sets that connected nations have to abide by. They are feeling the crunch economically already, and even the nit-noi sanctions imposed in the shadow of the kidnappings provide a little more torque to the 'limited' clamps now placed on Iran.

They also know they are vulnerable to energy sanctions from both ends of the issue, as while they are a major producer of crude oil, they are a major importer of gasoline as well. And all oil out or gasoline going in has to get by the Coalition.

I think the Iranians are expecting a little tit-for-tat for now. I'd like to think we would decide to break protocol and 'Triple-Dog Dare' Iran with a blockade until the Brits are returned unharmed. If that doesn't work, it would be trivial effort to anonymously (or not, if one prefers) 'shack' only a very small number of aimpoints some moonless night that would temporarily stop their existing refinery output as well. Re-apply as necessary.

We'll have to listen to the cries of inhumanity ala the Iraq Sanctions for only a little while. The Iranians will either come to their senses or not. But, I think we'll know fairly quickly if the Iranians have any desire to kick off Praying Mantis II .

Updated 03/23/07 in the AM: Added Link to 'rule sets'

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Militia Foils Pinko-Hippie-Anarchist Alliance


"Pinko Losers & Aging Hippies Herded Like Cattle by Real Americans"

I was going to blog on this in detail, contrasting the smelly, Commie-Pinko, "Anti-Victory" Hippies with the upstanding citizens of the Gathering of Eagles, thus protecting the monuments from the desecration that occurred last time. But then I viewed Michelle Malkin's excellent summary (with pics) and knew it couldn't be topped.

Go to Michelle Malkin's site. See real Americans, from different walks of life, make a stand against the anti-civilization hordes.

And lest you think I jest about the Commie-Pinko Hippies, here is the URL (sans "http:" as I don't want to link to this filth) for International Answer: "//". Scroll only a bit to see the nice selection of Che shirts.

I've often wondered where the natural curiosity of the press is concerning the true nature of these 'organizers'.

Update 03/25/07 -- corrected one horrible mispelling of Michelle Malkin's name. (I'm so ashamed)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Ack! It's Don't Ask Don't Tell.....Again!

Surprise! (not really)

General Peter Pace, good military man that he is, defers to and supports official policy (“Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” or DADT) but makes the egregious error of thinking he was speaking to human beings when in reality he was speaking to reporters and also offers an aside on his personal beliefs, that he was raised with the belief ….gasp!....that homosexuality is immoral.

Why if one believes the Christianphobic press machine, this is as outrageous a thing as if he said he actually believed in the 10 Commandments! (If one can be ‘homophobic’ simply by not believing homosexuality is moral, the press can be ‘Christianphobic’ for insisting a Christian belief is ‘bigoted’)

Now that an aged moderate (but pro-defense) Republican has come out calling a Christian belief ‘bigoted’ by reversing his position on “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, Captain’s Quarters has chimed in on the topic (where Captain Ed is, alas, un-typically WAY off-base this time). There’s a lot of popping sounds in the comments section drowning out the few comments by people who understand the real issue….and the real issue is this:

Until separate sleeping and hygiene facilities that are provided in every possible field situation can be reasonably guaranteed to be equal to a female’s vis-à-vis heterosexual male and vice versa -- how will (insert name here)’s sense of personal privacy and freedom from harassment be protected? Doesn’t (insert name here) have as much of a right to not be quartered with a homosexual of the same sex as (insert name here) does to not be quartered with a heterosexual of the opposite sex? (And isn’t all this PC gender-speak lovely?)

An Illustrative Tale (all quotes approximate since it has been 25 years)

One of my most interesting off-duty moments while stationed at Keflavik NAS (Iceland) in the early 80’s came while sitting in my quarters watching the weekly AFRTS cable show called “Feedback”. The show was like a weekly Commander’s Call and bulletin board all wrapped up in one. This particular show was the monthly edition with the senior commanders of the Naval and Air Force components of the Icelandic Defense Force taking telephone questions from people on the base.

There was a grand opening (or reopening ) coming up of a dormitory that would house the unaccompanied Senior Enlisted (mostly Navy Chiefs) with the top floor to be dedicated to housing unaccompanied female naval personnel. This was controversial at the time because the Navy housed its people by units, and the new arrangement would move the females out of ‘female-only’ areas of their respective unit living quarters. The female personnel were not at all happy about this change: they did not want to be separated from their units -- so the phone calls became more and more irate as the show went on.

The AF Colonel was barely containing his enjoyment at his counterpart’s difficulty in fielding the tough questions, when the Navy Captain finally blurted out at the last questioner that he really “didn’t see the problem” with or "understand everyone's resistance" to the move and that this new arrangement would help “protect the females from ‘all the predatory’ males”…..when the female caller responded with heartfelt concern:

‘But who is going to protect me from all the females?”

The Colonel and Captain’ jaws dropped and crickets chirped for a while….

Then the Captain responded sheepishly with:

‘um, ah, we like to think that we don’t have that kind of problem …..

And the show wrapped up faster than you can say "DADT".

So all you people who say it won’t be a problem to lower the bar of acceptable behavior and allow homosexuals to openly serve in the military and that it won’t be prejudicial to good order and discipline, I hear:

‘um, ah, we like to think that we won’t have that kind of problem …..


Navy Chiefs at ‘Kef’ were extremely heavy-handed in many things, and among them were being especially aggressive in gathering females in areas off-limits to junior enlisted without an invitation. A couple of months after the dorm was occupied, ‘someone’ (no doubt a junior enlisted male) pulled the fire alarm of the dorm in question. I was treated to quite a good show from my ‘accompanied’ quarters: all those flashing lights, with Chiefs and ladies milling around in the cold after being made to evacuate their Toga Party on the second floor, but not having enough clothes on to go anywhere else.

Extra Homework: Advanced Reading Topic

Talk about the tyranny of the minority!

Can anyone believe we would still be rehashing this as a ‘civil rights’ issue if NORC hadn’t chickened out and gamed the data summaries to hide the fact that homosexuals make up closer to 1% of the population instead of 3%?

For those who might not remember or be familiar with the study, the normally respected and disciplined NORC tried to pawn off ‘3%’ to the population in their study/book: “Sex in America”, in 1994. They did it by drawing the circle around the definition of homosexuality in an extremely broad context. All it did was piss off those (primarily religious conservatives) who thought it should be less than 1% on the one hand, and pro-homosexual activists that thought it should be 10% or more on the other. I think the end result was that hardly anybody actually read the book or studied the data provided. I highly recommend it. Read it and see for yourself what YOU think the data indicates.

Update 03/25/07 - corrected another fat-fingered typo

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Illinois Number 1? HAH and NEVAH!

Via Ann Althouse (in an Acting Instapundit role), we find Illinois making some noise in the 'Varsity Corruption League'.

Sure Illinois is always a favorite in the “Regionals”, but they’re never quite good enough to take the "National" title. That honor has to go to the perennial Champion: Louisiana!

Heck, Louisiana’s program is culturally imbued: 'English Law' states haven’t a chance against the 'Napoleonic Code'. Louisiana is SO dominant that surrounding states only offer token competition. Now, the run-up and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina may have provided enough impetus to cement the dynasty for another decade.


John Fund

Corruption as Usual

Louisiana's history of corruption bodes ill

Louisiana Corruption Roundup

Corruption Costs Jobs : August 16, 2005

Although the American Spectator seems to believe that Louisiana may have sacrificed quality for quantity, and a couple of years ago the Corporate Crime Reporter (PDF) tried to jigger the formula (ala BCS) in a misplaced Yankee effort to make Connecticut more competitive, let there be no doubt: the 'Huey Long Trophy' will reside in Louisiana as long as they can sustain that special 'Nawlin’s magic'.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Has Lancet Fired Horton Yet?

Courtesy of Charles Johnson at LGF (once again!), we have a followup to the story he pointed out last year and I commented on here.

As I noted last time:

Now this is the second Lancet sham piece on the subject of Iraqi war deaths (as I’m sure you’ve heard about by now or remember the first), so one wonders how much longer he will be at the helm of what was once the “world’s leading independent medical journal” given his apparent proclivity to spew this nonsense, alienate others in his profession AND bite the hand that feeds him.
Now that there has been additional exposure to the scale of this sham, will Horton soon be gone?

Also, it looks like I scooped The Times last October with my update the same day:

UPDATE: The lead 'researcher' of this 'study' is the same as the last one. Coincidentally, he just happens to be a New York Democrat with political aspirations AND (Surprise!) an apparent bug up his sphincter about the war in Iraq.
All I did at the time was do a 'search' on the study author's name. What took the Times so long? (Just kidding I'm sure they and a lot of other people knew somehere and maybe I just missed the coverage).

Saturday, March 03, 2007

CPAC Straw Poll: One Possible Future

From Hugh Hewitt we find that the Straw Poll of the GOP Presidential contenders at the CPAC yielded these results:

First Choice Vote Breakdown:
Romney 21%
Giuliani 17%
Brownback 15%
Gingrich 14%
McCain 12%

First and Second Choice Breakdown:
Giuliani 34%
Gingrich 30%
Romney 30%

I visited the links that HH listed and took away two main observations:

1. It looks like Romney was ‘salting the mine’ at CPAC.
2. It is striking how strong a guy who isn’t even going to decide on whether or not to run for another year (Gingrich) is a strong contender.

Oh, of course the Gingrich naysayers are out in force – but they are thinking inside the box. Consider Newt Gingrich taking the indirect approach. What if he doesn’t have eyes on 2008, but rather is once again thinking long term?

Newt Gingrich:
1. Is able to work with people from other parts of the ideological spectrum,
2. Has organized and led powerful political alliances before,
3. Is a proven creative thinker capable of big ideas,
4. Is an articulate communicator who can get those big ideas across to the whole of America and the world and
5. Is capable of being a leading agent for change and is more than comfortable in that role.

Is there anything in the above list that wouldn’t make Newt Gingrich an ideal Vice Presidential Candidate in 2008?

Vice President Cheney could someday soon be referred to as the SECOND most powerful Vice President in history.

I’d really like to vote for Gingrich as President. If not that, then having him on the ticket could motivate me to vote for a few more other candidates that I otherwise might have trouble supporting without holding my nose. Here’s a draft for MY bumper sticker:

Update 04/02/07: I meant to mention this earlier, but if Fred Thompson gets in the race I'm making a new bumper sticker (LOL)