Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Junk psychology about skeptics

Having a large background in published psychological research myself, I had to laugh at the nonsense below. It is difficult to know where to start but let me make just one point: Lewandowsky seems never to have heard of sampling. "Samples" gathered online tend not to be remotely representative. A major source of bias is that libertarians tend to be greatly over-represented and libertarians are very skeptical folk indeed. That they reject anything that the establishment (including scientific establishment) says is almost a given for many of them.

In the absence of representative sampling from any specifiable population, NO generalizations from the findings are warranted. There is no way of knowing if what was true of the group studied is true of any other group.

But Lewandowsky is a frantic Warmist so one could have predicted his conclusions even before he did his "research". You can read the whole thing here. It is very much a polemic -- from its heading onwards. No sign of scientific detachment or caution about evidence at all

Researchers from The University of Western Australia (UWA) have examined what motivates people who are greatly involved in the climate debate to reject scientific evidence.

The study, Motivated Rejection of Science, to be published in the journal Psychological Science, investigated what motivates the rejection of science in visitors to climate blogs who choose to participate in the ongoing public debate about climate change.

More than 1,000 visitors to blogs dedicated to discussions of climate science completed a questionnaire that queried people’s belief in a number of scientific questions and conspiracy theories, including: Princess Diana’s death was not an accident; the Apollo moon landings never happened; HIV causes AIDS; and smoking causes lung cancer.

The study also considered the interplay of these responses with the acceptance of climate science, free market ideology, and the belief that previous environmental problems have been resolved.

The researchers, led by UWA School of Psychology Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, found that free market ideology was an overwhelmingly strong determinant of the rejection of climate science. It also predicted the rejection of the link between tobacco and lung cancer and between HIV and AIDS.

Conspiratorial thinking was a lesser but still significant determinant of the rejection of all scientific propositions examined, from climate to lung cancer.

“There has been much research pointing to the role of free market ideology in rejecting climate science, but this is the first time it’s been shown that other scientific facts, such as the link between HIV and AIDS, are also subject to ideological rejection,” said Lewandowsky.

By contrast, a major determinant of the acceptance of science was the perceived consensus among scientists. The more agreement among scientists, the more people were likely to accept the scientific findings.

“It is important to understand the role of perceived consensus because it highlights how damaging the media’s handling of climate issues can be when they create the appearance of a scientific debate where there is none: More than 90 in 100 climate researchers agree on the basic fact that the globe is warming due to human greenhouse gas emissions,” he noted.


Lord Monckton satirizes the AMS

He writes under the heading: "Climate ($$$ and) change". Just an excerpt below

A Disinformation Statement by the Armenian Meteoastrological Society (Adapted by AMS Archdruids 20 August 2012)

As told to Christopher Monckton of Brenchley

The following is an AMS Disinformation Statement calculated to provide an untrustworthy, prejudiced, and scientifically-outdated misrepresentation of pseudo-scientific issues of great concern to us in getting more grants but of no concern to those of the public still at large.


This statement provides a brief overview of why we want more money now, and why we will continue to want more money in the future. It is based on a highly-partisan selection from the scientific literature, presented as though science were based upon the ancient logical fallacy of argument from "consensus", and further distorted by the bureaucrats of the Mental Panel on Climate Change, the US Notional Academy of Science and Television Arts, and the US Global Cash Recoupment Program.

How is our funding changing?

Well, every summer solstice we all dress up in dustsheets and go to Stonehenge to pray for grants. And our prayers have worked! The increase in funding now is unequivocal, according to many different kinds of evidence. Observations show increases in globally averaged grants. We got them by pretending that globally averaged air and ocean temperatures have increased, but in the past 15 years they haven't. Never mind - our grants have!
We've been talking about widespread melting of snow and ice, but that hasn't really happened either. Sea ice in the Antarctic has actually grown, but of course we don't mention that: it would spoil the grants.

Meantime, those grants just keep rolling in. In the US, most of the observed grants have occurred in the pockets of Hansen, Mann, Santer, Solomon and other global warming profiteers. All of the 10 best years in the global grant records up to 2011 have occurred since 1997, with grants in most of those years being the greatest in more than a century of global records.

The funding trend is greatest in northern latitudes and over land, though there are some grants for oceanographic research in Hawaii and Tahiti. For the nation as a whole, there have been twice as many record daily high grants as record daily low grants in the first decade of the 21st century.

The effects of these grants are especially evident in the planet's polar regions. Arctic meteorologists and climatologists have been increasing for the past several decades. Both the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have gained significant amounts of grant-gatherers. Most of the world's glaciers have never been visited (not that that stops us claiming that most of them are retreating), but what with all those grants we'll soon be able to afford to ski - er, conduct field research - on all of them.

Other grant increases, globally and in the US, are also occurring at the same time. The amount of grants falling in very heavy amounts (we call these the heaviest 1% of all funding precipitation events) has increased over the last 50 years throughout the US. Grant levels are rising in elevation, with fewer and fewer grants frozen and more and more liquidity.

Grant-freezing is decreasing, grant release occurs earlier, and the spring surplus that supplies over two-thirds of western US funding streams is doing just fine, thank you so much. Evidence for grants is also observed in seasonal increases across many areas, including earlier grant applications, longer periods without frozen grants, longer periods of grant, and shifts in meteorologists' migratory patterns and habitats as we seek more and more grants for less and less work.

Globally averaged grant liquidity has risen by what we scientists call a humungous lot in the 20th century, with the rise accelerating since the early 1990s. Close to half of the grant-level rise observed since the 1970s has been caused by expansion of climate scare stories due to increases in grant funding.

Grant level is also rising due to melting of terrified politicians' hearts as we tell them our sob stories about how the planet is doomed. Locally, grant-level changes can depend also on other factors such as slowly rising or falling Socialism, which results in some local grant-level changes much larger or smaller than the global average. Even small grant-level rises are expected to lead to potentially severe impacts in terms of additional self-serving policy (or, rather, political) statements from interest-groups such as ours.

Why is our funding changing?

Funding is always changing. However, many of the observed changes noted above are above and beyond what can be explained by natural variability of the funding climate. It is clear from expensive scientific evidence that the dominant cause of the rapid change in funding of the past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of hot air emitted on the subject of imagined - and, indeed, imaginary - "global warming", including gaseous halations from news media in search of sensation, politicians in search of relevance, industrialists in search of subsidies, bureaucrats in search of imperial expansion, and, above all, scientists in search of more and better grants.

The most important of these vested-interest groups is the scientific lobby, whose concentration on grant-getting has increased the total amount splendidly. Approximately half of the hot air put into the political atmosphere through human activity in the past 250 years has been taken up by the congenitally stupid in the blogosphere, with the other half hangs around to attract grant money.

Since long-term measurements began in the 1950s, the concentration of scientists on grant-getting has been increasing at a rate much faster than at any time in the last 800,000 years. Having been introduced into the political atmosphere, it will take a thousand years for our hot air to be dispelled by natural processes, and some of us will go on getting grants for thousands of subsequent years, if we can possibly get away with it.

Water vapor is also an important gas for influencing the grant-giving atmosphere. There is nothing like a flood of tears to get grants with. For maximum effect, get the grant before the tears evaporate. The concentration of scientists on producing crocodile water vapor depends upon the atmosphere among grant-givers and is controlled by the global panic system through its hydrological cycle of precipitation of tears, evaporation, and condensation, a profitably catalytic process.

Crocodile tears are highly variable in space and time with a short lifetime, because of temperamental variability on the part of grant-givers. Observations indicate an increase in globally averaged crocodile tears in the atmosphere in recent decades, at a rate consistent with the response produced by climate models that simulate scientist-induced increases in grants. This increase in crocodile tears also strengthens the greenhouse effect, amplifying the impact of scientist-induced grant applications based on our other hot-air emissions.

Received via email. Email him [] for the whole thing

"Volt" on the skids

General Motors Co. GM -1.32% said it plans to suspend production of its battery-powered Chevrolet Volt for 26 days as part of a move to pare excess inventory.

Production of the Volt at its Hamtramck, Mich., plant is set to stop Sept. 17 and resume on Oct. 12, a GM spokeswoman confirmed. It is the second time this year output has been idled due to soft demand for the electric vehicle.

GM will use the downtime to prep the assembly line for building the 2014 Chevrolet Impala starting early next year, the spokeswoman said. The plant already produces a small number of the Chevrolet Malibu sedans and the European version of the Volt, known as the Opel Ampera.

About 1,400 hourly workers will be affected by the production suspension.

The Volt has been heavily promoted by GM as an example of the company's technological prowess. But it also has been criticized as a boondoggle by critics of GMs 2009 financial rescue by the U.S government. Supporters of the bailout, including President Barack Obama, say the Volt represents an innovative step forward. Detractors point to the Volt's weak sales as an example of the government pressing GM to build a car that meets policy goals but isn't in sync with U.S. consumers. GM shut the Hamtramck plant for five weeks earlier this year after a prolonged holiday shutdown.

The company has sold 10,666 of the about $40,000 vehicle year-to-date through the end of July, according to researcher Autodata Corp. At the end of last month, Chevrolet dealers had 6,450 Volts in stock, enough to last 84 days at the current rate of sales. Auto makers generally consider 60 days of inventory optimal, although they usually have tighter inventories of specialty vehicles like the Volt.

Volt uses a lithium-ion battery to power the car and has a small gasoline engine that kicks in when the battery runs low. Automotive News earlier reported the plan to slow production.


Environmentalists vs. the environment

A brilliant piece by Robert Bryce highlights one of the more incredible recent developments in the Green Gaia world — the rising opposition of the soi disant “environmentalists” to a proven weapon against the dreaded Anthropogenic Global Warming that threatens destruction to Mother Earth. That weapon is natural gas — which, to put the point in a scatological way, is an afflatus of said Mother Earth.

Specifically, in the last year, the two major energy bureaucracies — oh, pardon me, “agencies” — have reported what one would naively suppose is very good news: America is dramatically cutting its CO2 emissions, thus sparing Earth further defilement! On May 24, the International Energy Agency (the IEA) in Paris and the US Energy Information Administration both reported that America’s CO2 emissions dropped by nearly 8% (430 million tons) since 2006, the greatest reduction recorded by any country in any region.

Yahoo! We’re number one! (Let’s all chant together: U-S-A, U-S-A!)

The reasons the IEA gives for that drop are that the US is using less oil, especially during this extended recession. But the biggest reason seems to be the flourishing of natural gas production brought by the use of fracking.

The drop in natural gas prices has led to a dramatic switch from coal to natural gas in generating electric power. Last year alone saw an increase in gas-powered electricity production by 34%, and a drop in coal-powered electricity by 21% — a decrease that lowered carbon emissions (not to mention air pollutants) dramatically.

Lawrence Cathles, professor of earth and atmospheric studies at Cornell, recently published a report arguing that moving our economy to natural gas would be a much quicker and cheaper way to replace coal than by moving to “renewables” (solar and wind energy) or even nuclear power — and it would lower carbon emissions by up to 40%.

But the major environmentalist groups, as well as the government regulatory agencies they control (such as the EPA), are still fighting fracking and pushing “green” energy.

What a joke.


This green energy thing might be more expensive than we’re being told you know

by Tim Worstall

There's always a suspicion when someone has a grand plan that they've not quite thought of everything. That's one of the reasons I so like market mechanisms: they correct for such failures faster than any other method. And there might be one rather large cost that we've not been told about as yet about this green and renewable energy thing. Which is why I famously prefer the as close as we can get to a market solution of a carbon tax over letting anyone construct a grand plan.

The problem is that modern machinery needs very accurate voltage all the time. Something which a renewables heavy grid just isn't all that good at producing. Not consistently at least and that's rather the point.
The problem is that wind and solar farms just don’t deliver the same amount of continuous electricity compared with nuclear and gas-fired power plants. To match traditional energy sources, grid operators must be able to exactly predict how strong the wind will blow or the sun will shine.

But such an exact prediction is difficult. Even when grid operators are off by just a few percentage points, voltage in the grid slackens. That has no affect on normal household appliances, such as vacuum cleaners and coffee machines. But for high-performance computers, for example, outages lasting even just a millisecond can quickly trigger system failures.

What would happen to an aluminium smelter if power fell away would be too too expensive to even think about: you'd probably have to replace all of the pots. That, for the uninitiated, is the expensive part of an aluminium smelter.

Anyway, as a result some of those industries and companies are thinking of moving out of Germany. And those that aren't?
Even August Wagner, head of a textile firm with roughly 180 employees in Bavaria, is taking precautions against feared power interruptions. A stop in production would be catastrophic for him. “When we dye our materials, there are thousands of meters in the dye factory,” he said. “If the power goes out, all of the goods are lost, and we have huge losses.”

Wagner now regulates the power supply of his production himself so that it doesn’t come to that point. What’s more, for a few months, he’s had an emergency power source standing in container next to the production facilities. Since then, other businesspeople in the area have been dropping by to take a look at his setup.

Aurubis, a major copper producer and recycler in Hamburg, has also spent about €2 million to protect against unwanted power emergencies. “If grid stability doesn’t markedly improve, we’ll have to rely on emergency power supplies this and the coming winter,” the company say.

Obviously, such back up power is grossly less efficient than the proper sized kit that feeds the grid. But there's also a large capital cost there: a cost which isn't being included in the estimates of how much green energy is going to cost us. It's actually possible that it's all going to be even more grossly expensive than we already think it is.

As I say, beware of those with grand plans. They're almost certain to have forgotten some terribly important point.


Germany’s new “renewable” energy policy

By physicist Dr. Kelvin Kemm

It is amazing how biased the international media is when it comes to reporting on energy generation, specifically electricity. In mid-August, Germany opened a new 2200MW coal-fired power station near Cologne, and virtually not a word has been said about it.

This dearth of reporting is even more surprising when one considers that Germany has said building new coal plants is necessary because electricity produced by wind and solar has turned out to be unaffordably expensive and unreliable. In a deteriorating economic situation, Germany's new environment minister, Peter Altmaier, who is as politically close to Chancellor Angela Merkel as it gets, has underlined time and again the importance of not further harming Europe’s – and Germany’s – economy by increasing the cost of electricity.

He is also worried that his country could become dependent on foreign imports of electricity, the mainstay of its industrial sector. To avoid that risk, Altmaier has given the green light to build twenty-three new coal-fired plants, which are currently under construction. Yes, you read that correctly, twenty three-new coal-fired power plants are under construction in Germany, because Germany is worried about the increasing cost of electricity, and because they can’t afford to be in the strategic position of importing too much electricity.

Just recently, German figures were released on the actual productivity of the country’s wind power over the last ten years. The figure is 16.3 percent! Due to the inherent intermittent nature of wind, their wind power system was designed for an assumed 30% load factor in the first place. That means that they hoped to get a mere 30% of the installed capacity – versus some 85-90% for coal, natural gas, nuclear and hydroelectric facilities. That means that, when they build 3,000MW of wind power, they expect to actually get merely 900MW, because the wind does not always blow at the required speeds.

But in reality, after ten years, they have discovered that they are actually getting only half of what they had optimistically, and irrationally, hoped for: a measly 16.3 percent. Even worse, after spending billions of Euros on subsidies, Germany’s total combined solar facilities have contributed a miserly, imperceptible 0.084% of Germany’s electricity over the last 22 years. That is not even one-tenth of one percent.

Moreover, the actual cost of Germany’s wind and solar electricity is far and away higher than its cost of coal and nuclear power. So much for “free” solar and wind. So much for all the German jobs that depend on reliable access to plentiful and affordable electricity. As to natural gas produced via hydraulic fracturing, that too is prohibited, even if it is required to back up undependable wind and solar facilities. No wonder Germany’s natural gas and electricity prices are practically unaffordable.



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