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Science vs. “science”

Megan McArdle touches on one of the great political truths of today:

Ask a Washington dinner party full of moderately well informed people what will happen with Iran over the next five years, and you’ll end up with a consensus that gee, that’s tough. Ask them what GDP growth will be in fall 2019, and they’ll probably converge on a hesitant “2 or 3 percent, I guess?” On the other hand, ask them what’s going to happen to the climate over the next 100 years, and what you’re likely to hear is angry.

How can one be certain about outcomes in a complex system that we’re not really all that good at modeling? Anyone who’s familiar with the history of macroeconomic modeling in the 1960s and 1970s will be tempted to answer “Umm, we can’t.”

And that’s sort of the root of the problem, isn’ t it?  The “science” of “climate change” is based in modeling “a complex system that we’re not really all that good at modeling”, just as in years past economists attempted the same thing with similar results.

So, how is the inability to capture all the variables, even variables of which little is known at present (and, dare I say it, some unknown) and put them in a model and claim … “science”.  Seems to me its a guess at best.  That’s certainly what economists found when they tried to model economies or even parts of economies.  The number of variables is just too vast and the knowledge of those variables is imprecise at best.

McArdle goes on to talk about the experience of economists and how models have pretty much been put in their place in the “dismal science”.  They’re aids, but they’re certainly nothing to bet your career or economic policy on.

Somehow, however, that’s not been the case with climate models – even when they’ve been shown to be horribly inaccurate time after time (in fact, not even close and have such a tenuous grasp on the mechanics of climate they can’t even reproduce the past).

That’s not stopped those who proclaim the “science is settled” from attempting to vilify and condemn those who disagree.  Money grafs from McArdle:

This lesson from economics is essentially what the “lukewarmists” bring to discussions about climate change. They concede that all else equal, more carbon dioxide will cause the climate to warm. But, they say that warming is likely to be mild unless you use a model which assumes large positive feedback effects. Because climate scientists, like the macroeconomists, can’t run experiments where they test one variable at a time, predictions of feedback effects involve a lot of theory and guesswork. I do not denigrate theory and guesswork; they are a vital part of advancing the sum of human knowledge. But when you’re relying on theory and guesswork, you always want to leave plenty of room for the possibility that your model’s output is (how shall I put this?) … wrong.

Naturally, proponents of climate-change models have welcomed the lukewarmists’ constructive input by carefully considering their points and by advancing counterarguments firmly couched in the scientific method.

No, of course I’m just kidding. The reaction to these mild assertions is often to brand the lukewarmists “deniers” and treat them as if what they were saying was morally and logically equivalent to suggesting that the Holocaust never happened.

And that’s where we are.  McArdle ends with a plea for sane and objective discussion but in my opinion, that ship sailed when we saw state Attorney Generals band together to prosecute “deniers” under the RICO statutes.  Of course that doesn’t change the science or “science” but it does make it much more difficult to dial back the rhetoric.  There is a reason for that:

The arguments about global warming too often sound more like theology than science. Oh, the word “science” gets thrown around a great deal, but it’s cited as a sacred authority, not a fallible process that staggers only awkwardly and unevenly toward the truth, with frequent lurches in the wrong direction. I cannot count the number of times someone has told me that they believe in “the science,” as if that were the name of some omniscient god who had delivered us final answers written in stone. For those people, there can be only two categories in the debate: believers and unbelievers. Apostles and heretics.

This I wholeheartedly agree with and the actions of those who believe in man-made climate change constantly validate my position. This has moved well beyond objectivity and rational discourse.  It is into the realm of religious belief.  It is interesting which side of the ideological curve tends to believe the “science” presented and to agree with the oppressive sanctions offered to silence those who disagree.  The same ones who will tell you they’re “progressive”.  For those of us who read a bit, we know the history of “progressivism” and what is happening on the “progressive” side of this issue is exactly what you’d expect from them.

Now apply that knowledge to other “progressive” ideas and policies and you’ll soon understand what their end game looks like.


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Economic Statistics for 1 Jun 16

May motor vehicle sales kept pace with April, at a 17.5 million annual rate, with North American vehicles selling at a 13.8 million pace.

The Fed’s Beige Book seems to indicate the economy is slowing, characterizing the nation’s economic growth as generally “modest”.

Construction spending fell -1.8% in April, with the year-on-year rate falling to 4.5%, the lowest since June, 2013.

The PMI Manufacturing Index for May fell -0.1 points to 50.7, but the ISM Manufacturing index rose 0.4 points to 51.3.

Gallup’s U.S. Job Creation Index rose 3 points to 33 in May.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales growth rose to an anemic 0.9% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s even weaker 0.4%.

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -4.1% last week, with purchases down -5.0% and refis down -4.0%.

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The state of “science” today?

These numbers should make everyone cringe, especially “scientists”:

  • The biotech company Amgen had a team of about 100 scientists trying to reproduce the findings of 53 “landmark” articles in cancer research published by reputable labs in top journals.
    Only 6 of the 53 studies were reproduced
     (about 10%).
  • Scientists at the pharmaceutical company, Bayer, examined 67 target-validation projects in oncology, women’s health, and cardiovascular medicine.  Published results were reproduced in only
    14 out of 67 projects
     (about 21%).
  • The project, PsychFileDrawer, dedicated to replication of published articles in experimental psychology, shows a
    replication rate 3 out of 9
     (33%) so far.

How can this be?  Where is the rigorousness?  Where is the peer review?  Where are the reproducible results and why aren’t we getting more than we are?

Oh, with a minute:

[T]he US government gives nearly $31 billion every year in science funding through NIH only, which is mainly distributed in research grants to academic scientists. The 10% reproducibility rate means that 90% of this money ($28 billion) is wasted. That’s a lot. How are the tax-payers supposed to respond to the scientist plight for more research funding given these numbers? Would you give more of your own money to someone who delivered you such a result?

Any bets on what the 90% unreproducible results help further?


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Economic Statistics for 31 May 16

In April, Personal income rose 0.4%, Consumer spending rose 1.0%, and the PCE Price index rose 0.3%. The Core PCE Price index rose 0.2%.

The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index for March rose 0.9%, and is up 5.4% on a yer-over-year basis.

The Chicago purchasing Manager’s Index slipped into a contractionary reading of 49.3 in May, from April’s 50.7.

The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index fell -2.1 points to a lower-than-expected 92.6 in May.

The State Street Investor Confidence Index fell -2.0 points to 106.6 in May.

The Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey turned strongly negative, falling from 5.8 to -13.1 in May.

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Stray Voltage

When you combine identity politics with favoritism, you’re bound to see this:

A group called the Asian American Coalition for Education plans to file an official complaint tomorrow with the federal Department of Education and Department of Justice noting that Yale, Brown, and Dartmouth have “unlawfully discriminated” against Asian-Americans in their admissions policies.

The Coalition, “which is composed of more than 100 local, state and national organizations,” claims the colleges “have the lowest acceptance rate for Asian Americans,” and maintain quotas for the (racial) group.

It also points out that Asian-American enrollment at Yale has declined “despite the number of college-aged Asian-Americans more than doubling since 2011.”

This is the first such complaint against the elite Connecticut university.

Just part of the toll of “affirmative action.”  When you’re not the favored minority, you have to compete, even if the playing field isn’t level.  What hypocrisy from both government and academia.

Another dishonest “journalist” has been unmasked.  In this case, we’re talking about Katie Couric and her deceptively edited hit-piece on guns (you can see the scene in question and hear the raw audio at the link).

At the 21:48 mark of Under the Gun a scene of Katie Couric interviewing members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a gun rights organization, is shown.

Couric can be heard in the interview asking activists from the group, “If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?”

The documentary then shows the activists sitting silently for nine awkward seconds, unable to provide an answer. It then cuts to the next scene.

The implication, obviously, is the activists for gun rights had no answer to Couric’s question.  The problem is, however, they did … lots of them:

However, raw audio of the interview between Katie Couric and the activists provided to the Washington Free Beacon shows the scene was deceptively edited. Instead of silence, Couric’s question is met immediately with answers from the activists. A back and forth between a number of the league’s members and Couric over the issue of background checks proceeds for more than four minutes after the original question is asked.

Of course, anyone with the IQ of a lemon realizes that felons are not likely to shop where background checks are performed.  But hey, why deal in facts when you can deal in fantasy that furthers  your obvious agenda.  There’s been some who’ve remarked that other journalists have been silent about this.  Of course they have.  The left has made it clear many times that it believes that lying and deception are perfectly fine if it is done for a good cause – a good cause as they define it.  The biggest sin is being caught in your lie or deception.  Heck of a job, Katie!

Some people are beginning to question why Hillary Clinton hasn’t been indicted over her handling of classified material on her private server, especially since it seems that doing what she did is not really that much different than a sailor did recently:

A Navy sailor entered a guilty plea Friday in a classified information mishandling case that critics charge illustrates a double standard between the treatment of low-ranking government employees and top officials like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and ex-CIA Director David Petraeus.

Prosecutors allege that Petty Officer First Class Kristian Saucier used a cellphone camera to take photos in the classified engine room of the nuclear submarine where he worked as a mechanic, the USS Alexandria, then destroyed a laptop, camera and memory card after learning he was under investigation.

Apparently none of the classified material was compromised but the sailor is going away for 3 years on Federal charges.  But hey, those sorts of laws are only for “the little people.”

Another “cherry picked” story about SJWs, this time from The Atlantic.

Last fall, student protesters at Yale University demanded that Professor Nicholas Christakis, an academic star who has successfully mentored Ivy League undergraduates for years, step down from his position as faculty-in-residence at Silliman College, along with his wife, Erika Christakis, who shared in the job’s duties.

This is a very interesting and telling story.  Erika Christakis wrote an email to the students of Silliman College after the Yale administration had put one out about offensive Halloween costumes.  Essentially all Christakis was trying to do was empower the Silliman College students to make their own decisions concerning costumes and/or how they react to those that might offend.   In reality, what she was doing was making the case that they were wise enough and mature enough to handle that without a directive from above.

Boy was she wrong.  The article also points to the disconnect between what the students believe is the role of the college and what the faculty believe it to be.  To put it succinctly, the difference between a parent and a mentor.  Interesting read.

Meanwhile at Harvard:

Earlier this month, Harvard President Drew Faust announced that students who joined single-sex organizations would be subject to punitive measures. They would be ineligible for certain scholarships and could not accept formal leadership roles in official campus groups. The policy is intended to quash the existence of politically disfavored extracurricular groups, like fraternities. It will also hurt female-only clubs.

Of course Harvard is a private institution and can do whatever it wants, but in this case it generated a backlash that reached into the faculty ranks.  It seems the faculty is a bit miffed about the unilateral nature of this directive and it appears they plan to kill it

A group of the faculty put together a resolution:

“Harvard College shall not discriminate against students on the basis of organizations they join,” the proposal reads.

The resolution is a shot across the bow for the administration, which would need faculty approval to implement the sanctions policy if it requires a change to the student handbook.

Faculty leaders interviewed by the Crimson said they weren’t consulted before the school announced the new policy

Now, if these colleges and universities would only stand up against the ridiculous SJW student demands and outrageous conduct, we might begin to believe the adults were in charge again.

Finally, the chief apologist for America is on the road again. Barack Obama visited Hiroshima and was photographed embracing a survivor of the nuclear blast there. On a human level, I get it. But this isn’t just some every day American choosing to do that. In fact, nothing the President of the United States does is done without some purpose in mind and frankly, the purpose that seems obvious, at least to me, is to physically express sorrow for the US doing what was necessary to win and end WW II.

Of course it is fashionable today to attempt to do things like that. Contextless gestures that ignore the reality of the history of the time. The fact that even after the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the War Council split which meant the war continued. And Nagasaki brought the same result. It took the unprecedented intervention of the Emperor to finally see surrender happen. The Japanese had a 14,000,000 man home militia as well as over 2,000,000 troops. They’d saved many thousands of kamikaze craft (submarines, aircraft and boats) for use if invaded. Casualties were estimated to run about a million on the US side and untold millions on the Japanese side.

The one who should be hugging people is the Emperor of Japan, saying Japan is sorry to the dwindling survivors of Pearl Harbor.

Harry Truman got it right:



Have a safe Memorial Day weekend and don’t forget that Memorial Day is for honoring those who’ve fallen in service and defense of our country – like the sailors at Pearl Harbor.


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Another chapter in “WTF”?!

Seems college isn’t about college anymore – at least at Oberlin.  The shot:

recent piece in The New Yorker examines the effects of a new wave of student activism at Oberlin College, a small, private liberal arts institution in Ohio, and it’s pretty eye-opening.

According to writer Nathan Heller, Oberlin is “at the center of the current storm” of activism on college campuses, with students heavily involved in issues including classroom diversity, safe spaces, racial inequality and social injustice.

Due to the intense focus on those issues, many progressive students are dropping out.

They claim that their activism is getting in the way of their studies, and other students, the faculty and the administration have made it impossible to live on campus.

The chaser:

Heller spoke to self-identified “Afro-Latinx” student Megan Bautista, who said that she was upset that the school refused her demand to erase any grades below Cs.

“A lot of us worked alongside community members in Cleveland who were protesting (the death of Tamir Rice in the fall of 2014 – ed.). But we needed to organize on campus as well—it wasn’t sustainable to keep driving forty minutes away. A lot of us started suffering academically.” In 1970, Oberlin had modified its grading standards to accommodate activism around the Vietnam War and the Kent State shootings, and Bautista had hoped for something similar. More than thirteen hundred students signed a petition calling for the college to eliminate any grade lower than a C for the semester, but to no avail. “Students felt really unsupported in their endeavors to engage with the world outside Oberlin,” she told me.

But that’s not the real world even if it is the world the students feel they need to embrace.

It’s funny to me.  You go to college and you essentially make a commitment to that college to take classes you choose and to perform well enough to get a good grade.  Then … squirrel!  Suddenly that commitment is put on the back burner as you discover a new and more important one.  Well, more important to you.  The old, “I want my cake and I want to eat it too” selfishness of a child who has always gotten their spoiled way.

And who is supposed to suddenly change the rules because you’ve decided on this new commitment and thrown over the old one?  Oh, yeah, the institution you made the previous commitment too.

Students should feel “really unsupported” by the school because they’ve reneged on their commitment to the school. Why should the school feel obligated to support them if they don’t feel obligated to their commitment to the school?

Mature folk actually know the right answer to that question.   The immature?  See above.

Maybe they should offer a Maturity 101 course for these children.


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Former McDonald’s CEO goes one for two

Ed Rensi is the former CEO of McDonalds and he commented on the reality of a $15 minimum wage and how most businesses will handle it:

I was at the National Restaurant Show yesterday and if you look at the robotic devices that are coming into the restaurant industry — it’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 an hour bagging French fries — it’s nonsense and it’s very destructive and it’s inflationary and it’s going to cause a job loss across this country like you’re not going to believe.”

He continues, “It’s not just going to be in the fast food business. Franchising is the best business model in the United States. It’s dependent on people that have low job skills that have to grow. Well if you can’t get people a reasonable wage, you’re going to get machines to do the work. It’s just common sense. It’s going to happen whether you like it or not. And the more you push this it’s going to happen faster.”

That’s the one he got right.  Here’s the one he got wrong:

I think we ought to have a multi-faceted wage program in this country. If you’re a high school kid, you ought to have a student wage. If you’re an entry level worker you ought to have a separate wage. The states ought to manage this because they know more [about] what’s going on the ground than anybody in Washington D.C.

Good grief, Mr. Rensi, why not let the market handle it?  You know, supply and demand?  What the heck is wrong with you?  You wouldn’t even be discussing this if government hadn’t intruded and decided unilaterally that you should pay your employees a certain amount of money for their labor.  It is because of government you’re even discussing automation above.  And now you think government – even state government (you know like California or New York?) – would be the solution?


And you were a CEO of a major corporation?



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Where does this administration find these idiots?!

I’m sorry, I’m a little angry today.  That’s because of this statement:

“When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? Or what’s important? What’s important is, what’s your satisfaction with the experience?” McDonald said Monday during a Christian Science Monitor breakfast with reporters. “And what I would like to move to, eventually, is that kind of measure.”

That’s a statement by VA Secretary Robert McDonald addressing a question about excessive wait times at VA facilities.  All I can figure is he must have been a rather mediocre product of public education because this screams “STUPID!”.

When waiting in line for “Space Mountain”, Mr. Secretary, do people die?  No?  Then, you idiot, it’s not a valid comparison.

And secondly, what sort of “satisfaction with the experience” can someone who died waiting have, dumbbell?  I’ll tell you now, since it is obvious you can’t figure it out – a very UNSATISFACTORY experience.

But of course, the dead can’t speak, can they you moron?!

Tell you what, why don’t you quit trying to find ways to explain the excessive wait times that are killing veterans and fix the effing problem?  Ever think of that?


What a freaking imbecile.



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