Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

That outdated concept called “academic freedom”

“Outdated” because it confilicts with liberalism.  Here’s a senior at Harvard’s view:

In its oft-cited Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, the American Association of University Professors declares that “Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results.” In principle, this policy seems sound: It would not do for academics to have their research restricted by the political whims of the moment.

Yet the liberal obsession with “academic freedom” seems a bit misplaced to me. After all, no one ever has “full freedom” in research and publication. Which research proposals receive funding and what papers are accepted for publication are always contingent on political priorities. The words used to articulate a research question can have implications for its outcome. No academic question is ever “free” from political realities. If our university community opposes racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of “academic freedom”?

Instead, I would like to propose a more rigorous standard: one of “academic justice.” When an academic community observes research promoting or justifying oppression, it should ensure that this research does not continue.

And what is it called when one promotes the quashing of dissenting views that they find to conflict with their ideas?

Call is “social justice” or whatever you choose, it is plain old, Brand X “oppression”.

That’s right.  Every oppresive regime in the history of our world has been intolerant of dissent and has taken action to quash it.  Here we see the same old tired argument presented by a liberal to further the cause of liberalism.  Don’t want to hear any dissenting voices, oh no.

And yet this newly trained “scholar” presents this as if it is a brand-new, brightly minted and spectacular idea. She’s a senior at Harvard and “is a joint history of science and studies of women, gender and sexuality concentrator”.

No kidding. What a surprise. There seems to be quite a concentration of potential oppressers in that particular field of study. There certainly seems to be a dearth of critical thinkers however (she probably comes from the school of “it hasn’t worked properly yet because I haven’t been in charge”).  It’s a pity she didn’t take a run-of-the-mill world history course or two to see who else in the past has shared that bright idea with her.  Past hell, there’s are entire countries which have implemented that exist now.

China, Cuba and North Korea come to mind.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 25 Feb 14

Despite the recent downbeat economic news, the State Street Investor Confidence Index rose 8.6 points to 123.0 in February.

In weekly retail sales, Redbook reports a 2.9% increase from the previous year. ICSC-Goldman reports a weekly sales drop of -0.6%, and a weak 1.4% increase on a year-over-year basis.

The FHFA House Price Index rose 0.8% in December, a 7.7% increase from the previous year.

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 0.8% in December, which was 13.4 higher than the previous year.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index for February fell from 80.7 to 78.1.

The Richmond Fed manufacturing index for February plunged from 12 to -6, the first negative reading since July.


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And this woman wants to be a lawyer

I’m sure by now you’ve at least heard of the female Duke freshman who is paying for her college tuition by being a porn star.

She apparently wants to be a lawyer some day.  She’s a woman’s studies major.  She says she can’t afford the financial aid she needs to study at Duke and so she’s decided to do porn.

So what’s my beef with her?  Well it is not that she is okay with being in porno.  Its not illegal, and if there is no force or fraud involved, I have no problem with her choice even if I disagree.

The beef?  Read this first:

I was offered scholarships at a lot of places. I was offered full tuition at Vanderbilt, for example, and was accepted into USC, Wellesley, Barnard, Pepperdine, some others. But I visited Duke last year on Blue Devil Days [Duke’s programmed weekend for admitted freshmen], and I remember walking into the Duke Chapel — I’m a very spiritual person — and just feeling an energy that told me, “This is the place you need to be.” And I felt something in the chapel in that moment that told me that I needed to be here and go to Duke and it was something that would be an amazing experience for me.

Yup … apparently something “spiritual” happened and she just had to choose Duke. Had too.  That is the place for her, even though she couldn’t afford it.  Even with a “full ride” at Vandy, she wanted to go to Duke instead.

And?

Would you still do porn if Duke cost less?

No. If Duke had given me sufficient financial aid, if they had given me the proper resources and made college affordable for my family, I would not have done porn. I would’ve just gotten through college and been fine. The financial burden that Duke put on me was absolutely enormous and insurmountable with the resources that I had.

And it’s Duke’s fault she’s doing porn because, apparently, it was Duke’s job to realize what a catch they had in her and make college more affordable for her family and herself.

So, instead of going to a very good college which had offered her full tuition (which I’m sure has “womens studies” major as well), she selfishly chose to go to one she couldn’t afford because, you know, something happened in the chapel at Duke or whatever.  She’s now doing porn to pay for it.  And it’s all Duke’s fault or at least Duke is the reason she had to make that choice.

You know, I think college has gotten outrageously expensive and I hope the bubble pops very soon.  ROI for the money has been shown to be not so good.  And the debt load one has to take on to get a degree is outrageous.

But seriously, her justification is just so pathetic I couldn’t pass up commenting on it.  Btw, she says she loves doing porn, so who cares?  But to lay it off on the school when it was completely a result of her choice of  schools – is just the ultimate in BS reasoning.

Yeah, if she ever gets a law degree, I’d say avoid her like the plague.

~McQ

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A story of how this administration misuses “science”

But first a fond farewell to Piers Morgan – don’t let the doorknob hit you in the ass as you head back to the UK, you jackwagon.  Oh, and would you mind taking Alex Baldwin and that Beiber thing with you?

Now to the point.  One of the things that the Obama administration told us in the beginning is that it planned on putting “science” back in its proper place as something serious and non-political (an obvious political shot at the opposition who, candidate Obama claimed, used it for political purposes).

How’s that gone?  Well we’ve watched the global warming bunkem.  And the Keystone Pipeline nonsense.  But here’s a story that will demonstrate best how much of a lie (and I don’t know how you describe what’s happened any other way) that original promise was:

A case in point is the story of DOI science adviser and scientific integrity officer, Dr. Paul Houser, who found out that by simply doing his job can be hazardous to one’s career. Dr. Houser is an expert in hydrology who was hired by DOI’s Bureau of Reclamation to evaluate scientific data used in the department’s decision making process. He was assigned several Western State projects including a scheme to remove four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River in Northern California—the largest dam removal project in U.S. history. When a summary of science posted on the web to support DOI’s claim for removal of the dams omitted several crucial factors from expert panel reports, Dr. Houser brought his concerns to his superiors. He was repeatedly told to refrain from sharing his concerns through electronic communication, which could be subject to Freedom of Information Act discovery.

Dr. Houser learned firsthand that policy was driving the science, rather than the other way around, when he was told by his superiors at DOI, “Secretary Salazar wants to remove those dams. So your actions here aren’t helpful.”

According to the DOI the premise for Klamath River dams removal is to restore Coho salmon spawning habitat above the dams. However, official DOI documents reveal scientific concerns that dam removal may, in fact, result in species decline based on millions of tons of toxic sediment build up behind the dams that will make its way to the ocean. Water temperature increases without the dams could also negatively impact the salmon. These studies were ignored. Concerns about the human toll and impact to local Klamath Basin communities were also brushed aside. Those most interested in the well-being of the environment they live and work in, were given a backseat to special interests thousands of miles away.

The Klamath hydroelectric dams provide clean inexpensive energy to thousands of local residents who will be forced to pay much higher premiums if the dams are removed because California has strict new laws for use of renewable energy. The town of Happy Camp sits on the banks of the Klamath River and could be wiped out with seasonal flooding without the dams. Once Coho salmon are introduced into the upper Klamath, farmers and ranchers will be faced with water use restrictions and invasive government regulation of private land. The economic impact will be devastating, property values will depreciate and the agriculture community, often operating on slim profit margins, will be subjected to the fate of the once vibrant logging industry which fell victim to the spotted owl crusades.

Last year, Dr. Houser raised these concerns and was subsequently fired by the DOI. “I put my concerns forward and immediately thereafter I was pushed out of the organization,” he stated. The agency sent a clear message to the rest of their employees and scientists – Salazar’s dam busting agenda cannot be subject to any internal scientific scrutiny. Goebbels would be proud. Truth must be repressed when it contradicts the objective.

Dr. Houser did the right thing. He did his job. His integrity as a scientist was more important than a paycheck. But he remains concerned about his colleagues in DOI, “There are a lot of good scientists that work for the government but they are scared, they are scared that what happened to me might happen to them. This is an issue (about) the honesty and transparency of government and an issue for other scientists in government who want to speak out.”

Those fish have an advocate.  That advocate is named Salazar.  Salazar has decided he wants a certain outcome.  “Science’s” role is to justfy it.  Never mind the human toll.  Never mind the economic toll.  Never mind any of the toll.  Ken Salazar and his radical environmental cronies will feel just peachy about themselves if they accomplish this … even if the fish actually die as a result.  Because, well because this is how nature did it to begin with, people are pests and it is more important that we let fish spawn where they once did than worry about how it will effect the pests.  And by George he has the power of government and “science” behind him to do as he wishes.  Houser didn’t toe the line, had actual scientific integrity and spoke out.  And was fired.

Frankly, this doesn’t surprise me a bit.

You?

~McQ

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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 23 Feb 14

This week, Michael, and Dale talk about the Ukraine, Free Speech, and guns.

The podcast can be found on Stitcher here. Please remember the feed may take a couple of hours to update after this is first posted.

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Stitcher. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here.

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Krauthammer takes the hammer to the myth of “settled science”

In a great column by Charles Krauthammer, he those who spout the “settled science” mantra their just due:

“The debate is settled,” asserted propagandist in chief Barack Obama in his latest State of the Union address. “Climate change is a fact.” Really? There is nothing more anti-scientific than the very idea that science is settled, static, impervious to challenge. Take a non-climate example. It was long assumed that mammograms help reduce breast cancer deaths. This fact was so settled that Obamacare requires every insurance plan to offer mammograms (for free, no less) or be subject to termination.

Now we learn from a massive randomized study — 90,000 women followed for 25 years — that mammograms may have no effect on breast cancer deaths. Indeed, one out of five of those diagnosed by mammogram receives unnecessary radiation, chemo or surgery.

So much for settledness. And climate is less well understood than breast cancer. If climate science is settled, why do its predictions keep changing? And how is it that the great physicist Freeman Dyson, who did some climate research in the late 1970s, thinks today’s climate-change Cassandras are hopelessly mistaken?

A fair and unanswered question to this point.  Instead alarmists offer excuses or twist science in such a way it is unrecognizable in order to justify their claims.  Krauthammer continues:

They deal with the fluid dynamics of the atmosphere and oceans, argues Dyson, ignoring the effect of biology, i.e., vegetation and topsoil. Further, their predictions rest on models they fall in love with: “You sit in front of a computer screen for 10 years and you start to think of your model as being real.” Not surprisingly, these models have been “consistently and spectacularly wrong” in their predictions, write atmospheric scientists Richard McNider and John Christy — and always, amazingly, in the same direction.

Settled? Even Britain’s national weather service concedes there’s been no change — delicately called a “pause” — in global temperature in 15 years. If even the raw data is recalcitrant, let alone the assumptions and underlying models, how settled is the science?

Precisely.  Climate change is happening because climate change always happens.  Climate isn’t a static thing.  But suddenly, using these wildly innaccurate and downright wrong models, “scientists” are trying to lay off the responsibility for that change on man.  Nothing new there.  The extreme left of environmentalism sees man as an intruder to be gotten rid of rather than a natural part of the world.  And they, for one, see this as an opportunity to work toward that goal.  The politicians, of course, see revenue.  It is a dangerous combination.

Krauthammer then covers the alarmists attempts to use weather events as harbingers of climate change.  But just like the temperatures these past 15 years, the data just doesn’t support their claims:

But even worse than the pretense of settledness is the cynical attribution of any politically convenient natural disaster to climate change, a clever term that allows you to attribute anything — warming and cooling, drought and flood — to man’s sinful carbon burning.

Accordingly, Obama ostentatiously visited drought-stricken California last Friday. Surprise! He blamed climate change. Here even the New York Times gagged, pointing out that far from being supported by the evidence, “the most recent computer projections suggest that as the world warms, California should get wetter, not drier, in the winter.”

How inconvenient. But we’ve been here before. Hurricane Sandy was made the poster child for the alleged increased frequency and strength of “extreme weather events” like hurricanes.

Nonsense. Sandy wasn’t even a hurricanewhen it hit the United States. Indeed, in all of 2012, only a single hurricane made U.S. landfall . And 2013 saw the fewest Atlantic hurricanes in 30 years. In fact, in the last half-century, one-third fewer major hurricanes have hit the United States than in the previous half-century.

Similarly tornadoes. Every time one hits, the climate-change commentary begins. Yet last year saw the fewest in a quarter-century. And the last 30 years — of presumed global warming — has seen a 30 percent decrease in extreme tornado activity (F3 and above) versus the previous 30 years.

Facts.  My goodness how to explain pure and simple facts that contradict the “settled science.” They can’t.

He concludes beautifully with a stake through the heart of “settled science” myth and calls it what it really is – whoring.  Science whoring and political whoring:

None of this is dispositive. It doesn’t settle the issue. But that’s the point. It mocks the very notion of settled science, which is nothing but a crude attempt to silence critics and delegitimize debate. As does the term “denier” — an echo of Holocaust denial, contemptibly suggesting the malevolent rejection of an established historical truth.

Climate-change proponents have made their cause a matter of fealty and faith. For folks who pretend to be brave carriers of the scientific ethic, there’s more than a tinge of religion in their jeremiads. If you whore after other gods, the Bible tells us, “the Lord’s wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit” (Deuteronomy 11).

Sounds like California. Except that today there’s a new god, the Earth Mother. And a new set of sins — burning coal and driving a fully equipped F-150.

But whoring is whoring, and the gods must be appeased. So if California burns, you send your high priest (in carbon -belching Air Force One, but never mind) to the bone-dry land to offer up, on behalf of the repentant congregation, a $1 billion burnt offering called a “climate resilience fund.”

Ah, settled science in action.

Indeed.

UPDATE: Speaking of “settled science”, one of the biggest proponents of that mantra can’t even get short range forecasts right:

The Met Office’s ‘pitiful’ forecasts were under fire last night after it was revealed it told councils in November to expect ‘drier than usual’ conditions this winter. In the worst weather prediction since Michael Fish reassured the nation in October 1987 that there was no hurricane on the way, forecasters said the Somerset Levels – still under water after more than two months of flooding – and the rest of the West Country would be especially dry. Last night, it was confirmed the UK had instead suffered the wettest winter since records began.

~McQ

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