Monday, December 29, 2014

Social psychologists attack the "denier" accusation

Almost  any Leftist writing with a pretense at scholarship is conspicuously marred by its one-sidedness.  Only "facts" that support Leftist prejudices will be considered.  This of course can only be considered as propaganda and will do little to persuade anybody with some knowledge of the field concerned.  Jonathan Haidt and a few others have come to realize that such writing is largely pointless.  It will only persuade those who are already believers.

So in an effort to upgrade the standards of scholarship in the social sciences, Haidt has spoken the unspeakable.  He believes that conservative viewpoints should be included in social science debates. He is swimming against the huge tide of suppressing conservative thought that pervades Leftist discourse. The huge efforts at censorship emanating from the Left are not for him.

I actually feel rather sorry for Haidt and his lieutenants.  Haidt has not considered WHY Leftist discourse is so selective in its consideration of the facts.  Leftists are selective because they HAVE to be.  Reality is so at variance with central Leftist assertions that it just cannot be confronted in full. The historic  Leftist assertion about the malleability of human nature, for instance, flies in the face of the whole discipline of genetics.  And, as time goes by, the findings in genetics move ever more strongly towards showing an overwhelming influence of genetics on human behaviour. Human beings are NOT a "blank slate".

But Leftists need to say that people are blank slates in order to justify their authoritarianism.  Leftists want to CHANGE people (can you get more authoritarian than that?).  They even once dreamed of creating a "New Soviet Man".  But if they are up against genetic fixity in people, attempts at change will be futile.  They may say that it is not people but "the system" that they want to change but "the system" consists of what people do --  so that is a detour that leads nowhere.

So as he lets fact-based conservative ideas into his head, I think Haidt will himself become a conservative.  And that will ditch his career!

At any event, I reproduce below a journal abstract of an excellent paper by Haidt and his associates that puts the case for intellectual diversity in science.  I also reproduce one example from the body of the paper about Leftist bias rendering research unable to show what it purports to show.  The example concerns the common Warmist accusation that climate skeptics are "deniers"

Political Diversity Will Improve Social Psychological Science

Jos L. Duarte et al


Psychologists have demonstrated the value of diversity - particularly diversity of viewpoints - for enhancing creativity, discovery, and problem solving. But one key type of viewpoint diver sity is lacking in academic psychology in general and social psychology in particular: political diversity. This article reviews the available evidence and finds support for four claims: 1) Academic psychology once had considerable political diversity, but has lost nearly all of it in the last 50 years; 2) This lack of political diversity can undermine the validity of social psychological science via mechanisms such as the embedding of liberal values into research questions and methods, steering researchers away from important but politically unpalatable research topics, and producing conclusions that mischaracterize liberals and conservatives alike; 3) Increased political diversity would improve social psychological science by reducing the impact of bias m echanisms such as confirmation bias, and by empowering dissenting minorities to improve the quality of the majority's thinking; and 4) The underrepresentation of non - liberals in social psychology is most likely due to a combination of self - selection, hosti le climate, and discrimination. We close with recommendations for increasing political diversity in social psychology.

One closely reasoned example of bias from the paper

Denial of environmental realities: Feygina, Jost and Goldsmith (2010) sought to explain the "denial of environmental realities" using system justification theory (Jost & Banaji, 1994). In operationalizing such denial, the author s assessed the four constructs listed below, with example items in parentheses:

Construct 1: Denial of the possibility of an ecolog ical crisis ("If things continue on their present course, we will soon experience a major environmental catastrophe," reverse scored).

Construct 2: Denial of limits to growth ("The earth has plenty of natural resources if we just learn how to develop them. ")

Construct 3: Denial of the need to abide by the constraints of nature ("Humans will eventually learn enough about how nature works to be able to control it.")

Construct 4: Denial of the danger of disrupting balance in nature ("The balance of nature is s trong enough to cope with the impacts of modern industrial nations.")

The core problem with this research is that it misrepresents those who merely disagree with environmentalist values and slogans as being in "denial." Indeed, the papers Feygina et al (2010) cited in support of their "denial" questions never used the terms "deny" or denial" to describe these measures. Clark, Kotchen, and Moore (2003) referred to the items as assessing "attitudes" and Dunlap, Van Liere, Mertig, and Jones (2000) characte rized the items as tapping "primitive beliefs" (p. 439) about the environment.

The term "denial" implies that 1) the claim being denied is a "reality" - that is, a descriptive fact, and that 2) anyone who fails to endorse the pro - environmental side of these claims is engaged in a psychological process of denial.  We next describe why both claims are false, and why the measures, however good they are at assessing attitudes or primitive beliefs, fail to assess denial.

Construct 1 refers to a "possibility" so that denial would be belief that an ecological crisis was impossible . This was not assessed and the measure that supposedly tapped this construct refers to no descriptive fact. Without defining "soon" or "major" or "crisis," it is impossible for this to be a fact. Without being a statement of an actual fact, disagreeing with the statement does not, indeed cannot, represent denial.

Similar problems plague Construct 2 and its measurement. Denial of the limits of growth could be measured by agreement with an alternative statement , such as "The Earth's natural resources are infinite." Agreement could be considered a form of denial of the limits of growth. However, this was not assessed. Absent a definition of "plenty ," it is not clear how this item could be refuted or confirmed. If it cannot be refuted or confirmed, it cannot be a descriptive fact. If it is not a fact, it can be agreed or disagreed with, but there is no "denial."

Even strongly agreeing with this statement does not necessarily imply denying that there are limits to growth. "Plenty " does not imply "unlimited." Moreover, the supposed reality being denied is, in fact, heavily disputed by scholars, and affirming the Earth's resources as plentiful for human needs, given human ingenuity, was a winning strategy in a famous scientific bet (Sabin, 2013) .

Construct 3 is an injunction that we need to abide by the constraints of nature. Again "constraints of nature" is a vague and undefined term. Further, the construct is not a descriptive fact - it is a philosophical/ideological prescription , and the item is a prophecy about the future, which can never be a fact. Thus, this construct might capture some attitude towards environmentalism, but it does not capture denial of anything. It would be just as unjustified to label those who disagree with the item as being in denial about human creativity, innovation, and intelligence

Construct 4 is similarly problematic. "Balance in nature" is another vague term, and the item assessing this construct is another vague prediction. One can agree or disagree with the item. And such differences may indeed by psychologically important. Disagreement, however, is not the same construct as denial.

Whether some people deny actual environmental realities, and if so, why, remains an interesting and potentially scientifically tractable question. For example, one might assess "environmental denial" by showing people a time - lapse video taken over several years showing ocean levels rising over an island, and asking people if sea levels were rising. There would be a prima facie case for identifying those who answered "no" to such a question as "denying environmental realities."

However, Feygina et al. (2010) did not perform such studies . Instead, they simply measured support for primitive environmentalist beliefs and values, called low levels of such support denial, and regressed it on the system justification scores and other measures (a third, experimental study, did not assess denial ).

None of Feygina et al's (2010) measures refer to environmental realities. Thus, the studies were not capable of producing scientific evidence of denial of environmental realities. Vague environmentalist philosophical slogans and values are unjustifiably converted to scientific truths even though no data could ever tell us whether humans should "abide by the constraints of nature."

It is not just that people have different environmental attitudes; the problem is the presumption that one set of attitudes is right and those who disagree are in denial. This conversion of a widely shared political ideology into "reality," and its concomitant treatment of dissent as denial, testifies to the power of embedded values to distort science within a cohesive moral community

Much more HERE

NOAA Demonstrates How To Defraud Taxpayers At Christmas

The Arctic and its future are looking dimmer every year, a new federal report says.

Spring snow cover in Eurasia reached a record low in April. Arctic summer sea ice, while not setting a new record, continued a long-term, steady decline. And Greenland set a record in August for the least amount of sunlight reflected in that month, said the peer-reviewed report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies.

The fine scientists at NOAA are defrauding taxpayers with omissions of key information. Why did they refer only to April snow cover? Autumn snow cover just set an all-time record maximum.

Since CO2 hit 350 PPM, autumn/winter snow cover is increasing much faster than the decline in spring/summer snow cover.

Arctic sea ice extent is at a 10 year maximum, and has been for the past two months.

Greenland has gained nearly 300 billion tons of ice since the end of August, and surface melt area has been generally below normal this year. NOAA forgot to mention these things.

NOAA’s intent was clearly to disinform, rather than to inform. So the question is, why does climate science peer-review allow such blatant propaganda through?

SOURCE  (See the original for links and graphics)

Why are Warmists so dogmatic?

The left needs science to serve as a metaphysical validation for their worldview—even if they have to kill it to capture it

Robert Tracinski

The recent Neil deGrasse Tyson kerfuffle and the dogmatic defense of the global warming consensus raises the question: what’s the impetus? Why do people feel the need to proclaim themselves so loudly as the pro-science side of the debate and to write off all opponents as anti-science? What makes scientists so susceptible to a cultural vogue like global warming and so willing to be dismissive of evidence that contradicts their theory?

The least satisfying explanation is that it’s easy to make a name for yourself and get funding and research grants if you back the global warming consensus. That’s true, but it doesn’t seem quite sufficient. There are lots of way to get rich and famous and get invited to the right cocktail parties. Why choose this one? Nor is it enough to say that people are looking for an excuse to feel smugly superior, because there are also lots of ways to do that. I’ve even had Evangelical Christians do it to me, and truth be told, I’ve probably been a little smug once or twice myself.

All of these are just extra inducements added on to a deeper motive.

Given the size, breadth, and intensity of the global warming vogue and the pro-science pose of its supporters, it must answer some profound need, some crisis of the soul.

It is needed because the left is fundamentally reactionary.

The modern left formed as a reaction against capitalism and the Industrial Revolution. I think this reaction was driven by a deeply ingrained attitude toward morality. Practically every moral philosophy has warned against the evils of greed and self-interest—and here was an economic system that encourages and rewards those motives. You could look at this and decide that it’s necessary to re-evaluate the moral issues and come to terms with self-interest in some way. Most factions of the modern right have done so, whether they accept self-interest as a necessary evil or to make a virtue of selfishness.

But if you’re not willing to make such an accommodation, you’re going to look around, see all this heedless profit-seeking, and conclude that it must be evil in some way and it must be leading to evil consequences. So you will lend an eager ear to anyone who claims to validate your moral suspicions about capitalism.

In the first go-around, these anti-capitalists tried to capture the science of economics, forming theories about how capitalism is a system of exploitation that will impoverish the common man, while scientific central planning would provide abundance for all.

Let’s just say that this didn’t work out. When it turned out that central planning impoverishes the common man and capitalism provides abundance for all, they had to switch to a fallback position. Which is: to heck with prosperity—too many material goods are the problem. Our greed for more is destroying the planet by causing environmental catastrophes. This shift became official some time in the 1960s with the rise of the New Left.

Some of the catastrophes didn’t pan out (overpopulation, global cooling) and others proved too small to be anything more than a speed bump in the path of capitalism (banning CFCs and DDT). But then along comes global warming—and it’s just too good not to be true. It tells us that capitalism is not just exploiting the workers or causing inequality or deadening our souls with crass materialism. It’s destroying the very planet itself.

The global warming theory tells us that the free market is a doomsday machine bringing about the end of the world. It turns capitalism into a metaphysical evil.

And there is no halfway solution to the problem, no practical fix or technological patch. Carbon dioxide emissions are an unavoidable byproduct of the burning of fossil fuels, and the entire system of industrial capitalism runs on fossil fuels. So the only way to avoid catastrophe is to shut it all down.

You can see how this brings order and balance back to the left’s universe. Their visceral reaction against capitalism is validated on the deepest, most profound level.

You can see how this would be almost like a drug or like an article of religious faith. How can you allow people to question and undermine the very thing that gives meaning to your life? Hence the visceral reaction to global warming skeptics.

Then there is a second dilemma faced by the left. Their own history—and indeed their present—hasn’t always been so liberal and enlightened and progressive. The hard-core advocates of central planning had embraced or excused Soviet totalitarianism, with its party lines and Lysenkoism, and the central planners and “pro-science” types of a previous era had embraced eugenics. Today, there are still those who want to shut down opposing opinions, and every couple of years somebody floats a proposal to imprison global warming skeptics. Or maybe they just try to sue them and shut them down in the courts.

What to do? Construct an alternative narrative in which the political right is the modern-day successor to the Inquisition and the political left is the inheritor of a tradition of bold free-thinking that goes all the way back to Giordano Bruno. Even if you have to fudge a few facts to make it work.

Now put these two together: the left’s imperative to think of itself as a tradition of free-thinkers opposed to religious dogma, and their need for a scientific theory that validates their prejudice against capitalism—and you get the impetus for the whole mentality of what the blogger Ace of Spades calls the “I Love Science Sexually” crowd (a play on the name of a popular Facebook page). And you can also understand their adulation of popularizers like Neil deGrasse Tyson who repeat this conventional wisdom back to them and give it the official imprimatur of science. Once the narrative is established, it becomes a bandwagon and others jump onto it because being “pro-science” sounds like (and is) a good thing, and because they don’t know enough to question the story they’re being told.

You can also see why they would be more concerned with having the image of being “pro-science” than they are with actually being scientific. The first allows you to hold fast to the specific conclusions that are comforting to you; the second means that you have to be willing to challenge them.

In short, this is an attempt to capture science as a metaphysical validation for the worldview of the left—even if they have to kill it to capture it.


Fred Singer discusses Lima,Peru results

The just concluded confab in Lima, Peru, didn’t really conclude anything — certainly no binding Protocol to limit emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) — but “kicked the can down the road” to the next (21st annual) international gabfest in Paris, scheduled for December 2015.

Recall, however, that in July 1997, the US Senate passed the Byrd-Hagel Climate Resolution by unanimous vote. Robert Byrd (D-WV) wanted to protect West Virginia coal mining; Chuck Hagel (R-NE) wanted to protect the United States from unfair competition. A direct consequence of this bi-partisan Resolution was that Clinton-Gore never submitted the infamous Kyoto Protocol to the Senate for ratification. [Kyoto was designed to put teeth into the UN-FCCC (Framework Convention on Climate Change), popularly known as the Rio (1990) Global Climate Treaty].

Kyoto expired in Dec 2012 after wasting literally hundreds of billions in 15 years — without accomplishing its main goal of reducing global emissions of the much-maligned greenhouse gas CO2. On the contrary, emissions rose — mainly from greatly increased industrial growth in China, which was fueled primarily by coal-fired power plants. At the same time of course, global agriculture benefited from these higher levels of CO2, which is a natural plant fertilizer.

China Accord: a bad deal

In Nov 2014, president Obama and Chinese president Xi inked an agreement that Obama thinks might lead to another Kyoto; it was hailed as an “important breakthrough.” However, while the US would have to cut CO2 emissions drastically over the next decade, China merely promised to peak its emissions by 2030 — maybe — but would be free to continue its industrial development, at our expense. It’s a bad deal for the US; energy would become super-expensive, stifling economic growth, forcing industry to flee, and killing productive jobs — all of the calamities that Hagel, back in 1997, feared might happen.

Obama’s war on coal is indeed making electricity prices “sky-rocket” — just as he promised in 2008, when he ran for president. Voters were beguiled by the vision of “slowing the rise of the oceans” and of “saving the climate.” Little did they realize that they were being fed nonsensical science and that high energy prices would instead lead to growth of poverty. Had they had the good sense to look at the European experience, they might have rejected Obama’s siren song. Blame, if you will, the main-stream media, TV, Hollywood, Greenpeace, Sierra Club, etc. George W. Bush could have saved the situation but he didn’t.

Hagel to the rescue?

Here is a great opportunity for Chuck Hagel to save the US economy. Who else can boast of early opposition to Kyoto? He is no longer bound to silence as a member of Obama’s Cabinet. Free to speak out, he has much going for him:

**a Congress anxious to take on a lame-duck president on Constitutional issues
**courts skeptical of executive over-reach
**public anger towards a hated EPA, IRS, and Dept of Justice
**foreign-policy disasters, like Benghazi, and the threat of terrorism within the US
**a clear majority of states with like-minded governors, attorneys-general, and legislatures.

More specifically, on the climate/energy issue Hagel can point to:

**Nature rules the climate — and always has — not human activities
**the disastrous record of Kyoto and scandalous waste of resources and human efforts
**how “saving the climate” detracts from solving genuine world problems
**the sad experience of European energy-cost rise, industry flight, and job losses
**the shoddy science of the UN-IPCC, exposed by independent NIPCC reports
**the 18-year “pause” in global warming and the failure of IPCC climate models to reproduce it
**the conspiracies of “Climategate” and the subsequent whitewash efforts
**how destructive energy regulations are based on non-validated science
**how Obama got snookered by China and sold out the US for personal glory.

And that is why we must strongly oppose creating a second Kyoto in Paris in 2015
— with the active assistance of India, Japan, Australia, and Canada.


This ban is a fracking outrage

New York’s ban on fracking is an act of pure green elitism

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration announced that it will ban fracking - the practice of hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas from shale-rock formation - in the state of New York. With this decision, New York becomes the first state with significant gas-production potential to ban fracking. While greens and celebrity campaigners are jumping for joy, the masses in upstate New York are reeling from the blow the decision represents, as they are in desperate need of the kind of economic development that fracking would have brought.

This has been a class battle. New York state is geographically enormous, but its politics is dominated by the ‘downstate’ area in and around New York City. Cuomo and the Democrats reflect the interests of the urban elites who push an anti-industrial, green agenda. On the other side are the people of upstate New York. The areas of New York with the most potential for fracking, such as those in the ‘southern tier’, are also among the most economically depressed regions in the entire United States.

Many people in upstate New York were hopeful that fracking would give their economy a welcome boost. It may have appeared likely given how tremendously successful fracking has been nationally, in areas such as Texas, North Dakota and Ohio. Fracking has added about 2.1million jobs and contributed an extra $473 billion to the US economy. It has lowered energy prices and reduced carbon dioxide emissions.

Upstate New Yorkers would only have had to cross the border into Pennsylvania to see the potential. Jobs in Pennsylvania’s energy sector have more than doubled, to about 28,000, between 2010 to 2014, with average salaries at $93,000, compared to the state average of $40,000. And the benefits have been spread across communities. Energy companies have generated more than $2.1 billion in tax revenues in Pennsylvania, funding social improvements such as road and bridges, water and sewer projects, local housing and parks.

The New York Department of Health report found ‘significant uncertainties about the kinds of adverse health outcomes that may be associated with’ fracking that ‘could adversely affect public health’. ‘The science’, according to the report, ‘provides insufficient information to determine the level of risk to public health.’ Health commissioner Howard Zucker added: ‘The potential risks are too great. In fact, they are not even fully known.’

What the review did not find is any evidence that fracking is unsafe. Instead, New York’s administrators are effectively saying that, because of inconclusive information, uncertainties and unknown risks, we are going to ban fracking. There could not be a clearer example of the so-called precautionary principle, which states that, if there is any risk whatsoever, we should not act.

It is noteworthy that the review searched for evidence in academic ‘what if?’ studies, rather than studying the existing practices of fracking operations around the country. If they had done the latter, they would have to admit that there has been no evidence of harm. As Lisa Jackson, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, has noted, there is no example of fracking leading to the contamination of a water supply.

The logic of the report – which is the logic of the green opponents of fracking – is that if development entails any risk, we must not permit it. But by this logic, we would never have had any industrial progress. Imagine if we were discussing the introduction of air flight today. Opponents would ask: ‘Will airplanes lead to a single death? Will they cause any pollution, produce any carbon emissions? We can’t allow that.’ This approach is truly reactionary, and betrays no appreciation of how we as a society advance. We learn by doing. With air flight, we learned to make it one of the safest forms of travel by learning from crashes; the truth is, without those unfortunate accidents and deaths, there would have been no progress.

That’s how we should approach fracking. It’s not that fracking entails no risks — but we should do what we can to minimise the risks and learn from our mistakes in the pursuit of progress. And that’s what has been happening in practice in the US: as the process of fracking has become more widespread, it has become safer. That is how appropriate oversight and regulations are supposed to work.

It is also noteworthy that New York’s health review found that fracking would bring ‘interference with quality of life (eg, noise, odours), overburdened transportation and health infrastructure’. But you could say that about any industrial development. Yes, more people moving into town, more people going out shopping and dining, that will all bring more noise and traffic. We can’t have that, say the greens, who would prefer the silence of the ghost town. Comments about noise and traffic in the report show that the notion of ‘public health’ has been expanded well beyond its brief. They also reveal that the opposition to fracking is a rant against industrialism and change itself, masquerading as debate over chemicals in the water.

In announcing the decision to ban fracking in his state, Governor Cuomo wouldn’t even take responsibility for it. ‘I don’t think I even have a role here’, he said, claiming the ban was down to his administrative officials. Elsewhere he said he was deferring to the scientists, averring ‘I’m not a scientist’. The idea that public policy is a question of science is wrong and a copout. ‘The science’ has nothing to say about assessing the value of jobs and prosperity. Cuomo’s attempt to hide behind science is cowardly.

So what is Cuomo’s big idea for jobs in upstate New York, the economic development alternative to fracking? Casinos. It is a sick joke. Of course, casinos will bring no new wealth creation to the region; they will just provide an alternative way for people to spend their dwindling incomes. And as many have pointed out, relying on casinos is yesterday’s big idea (scam), now that many resort casinos in the northeast are realising big losses.

The southern tier is the area of upstate NY that was a prime candidate for fracking. To add insult to injury, a few hours after the fracking ban was announced, Cuomo’s administration broke the news that the southern tier had lost their bid to have one of the new casinos. The frontpage headline of the region newspaper, the Press & Sun Bulletin, screamed ‘NO!’ in red type. ‘The casinos went down, fracking went down – come on; this place is dead in the water now’, said a Binghamton resident, quoted in the New York Times: ‘This whole area was thumbed at, snubbed, like it was nothing.’

The question of moving forward with fracking, as with other forms of industrial development, is not simply a technical, scientific one. People’s livelihoods and prosperity are at stake, and the science doesn’t tell us what value we should place on lifting people out of poverty. The decision to ban fracking in upstate New York is based on flimsy ‘it’s possible something bad could happen’ grounds, at a time when such drilling is being deployed successfully and safely elsewhere. The decision was made in the context of grinding poverty and over the heads of the local people who want it. It was promoted by a green elite that cares more about supposed threats to the Earth than about the masses who need jobs and lower energy prices. For these reasons, the fracking ban should be seen for what it is: an obscene and immoral decision.


Global warming will be bad for Christmas trees!

The presents are unwrapped. The children's shrieks of delight are just a memory. Now it's time for another Yuletide tradition: cleaning up the needles that are falling off your Christmas tree.

"I'm not particularly worried about it ... I'll just sweep it up," said Lisa Smith-Hansford of New York, who bought a small tree at a Manhattan sidewalk stand early this week. She likes the smell of a real tree, she said, comparing it to comfort food.

But others do mind. Consumers consistently cite messiness as one of the most common reasons they don't have a real tree, says the National Christmas Tree Association.

Some kinds of trees, like the noble fir or Fraser fir, are better than others at maintaining moisture and keeping their needles once they're in your house, says Gary Chastagner of Washington State University. But even within a given species, some trees are better than others, he said. Needle retention is an inherited trait: if a tree does well, so will the offspring that grow from the seeds in its cones.

Trees that experience warm autumns tend to have more needle loss later, Chastagner said. So if global warming leads to warmer falls in the future, it could be bad news for Christmas trees, he said. But since his studies focus on tree branches harvested before cold autumn weather sets in, they may identify trees that will do well in a warming world, he said.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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