Of doubting, guessing, and testing 2

Religion is apodictic. It permits no questioning of its dogma. It is a brake on all thinking, all progress.

It was doubt that made the greatness of the West. Socratean doubt – lost and forgotten for the thousand years of darkness brought down on Europe by Christianity, but revived in the Enlightenment. Doubt is the motor of experimental science.

Here is a minute or so of illumination from the great Richard Feynman. ( A clip from an old video, re-issued this month.)

Posted under Commentary, Religion general, Science by Jillian Becker on Friday, April 17, 2015

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The settling of the scientists 2

We picked this cartoon from PowerLine’s The Week in Pictures.

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Posted under Climate, Environmentalism, Science, United States by Jillian Becker on Sunday, March 29, 2015

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A long good-bye to Mann-made global warming? 4

Will the myth of Anthropogenic Global Warming be laid to rest?

The solar physicist Willy Soon debunked it recently. The warmists fell upon him like a swarm of hornets. Unable to disprove his science, they poured contempt on the sources of his funding, being possessed of the peculiar theory that if a scientist’s work is funded by government it is moral, but if it is funded by business and industry it is not only immoral but for that very reason invalid. The implication is that a scientist who accepts money from non-government sources is being bought, and will make dishonest findings to suit his backers. Those who accept government money, on the other hand, cannot be similarly charged because the motives of government are always pure as the waters of a mountain spring.

Now comes more evidence against the AGW theory:

This is from Breitbart, by James Delingpole:

A new scientific paper has driven yet another nail into the coffin of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming theory.

The paper – Rethinking the lower bound on aerosol radiative forcing by Bjorn Stevens of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany, published in the American Meteorological Society journal – finds that the effects of aerosols on climate are much smaller than those in almost all the computer models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Aerosols are the minute particles added to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels (as well as by non-anthropogenic sources, like volcanoes). The reason they are important is that they are so often cited by alarmists to excuse the awkward fact that the world has stubbornly failed to warm at the disastrous rate they predicted it would.

Apparently – or so the excuse goes – these aerosols are masking the true extent of runaway climate change by cancelling out the effects of man-made CO2.

Here, for example, is a NASA expert in 2009:

Using climate models, we estimate that aerosols have masked about 50 percent of the warming that would otherwise have been caused by greenhouse gases trapping heat near the surface of the Earth

Here is a report on a study from another institution – NOAA – with a long track record of ramping up the alarmist cause:

A new study led by the U.S, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows that tiny particles that make their way all the way up into the stratosphere may be offsetting a global rise in temperatures due to carbon emissions.

Aerosols are often used to explain the lack of “global warming” in the cooling period between 1940 and 1970 (when the growth in industrialisation and all that extra man-made CO2 ought to have begun taking effect).

They have also been used in [a]  2011 paper – whose co-authors include one Michael Mann, which gives you an idea of its quality and reliability – for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS). It claims that the reason there has been a “hiatus” in global warming since 1998 is because of the effect of aerosol emissions. This got one of the BBC’s resident alarmists Richard Black very excited. He wrote it up in an article entitled Global warming lull down to China’s coal growth. (Oddly he forgot to surround it with scare quotes, or finish it with a question mark.)

The new Stevens paper has been described as a “game-changer” by one expert in the field, Nic Lewis.

According to the IPCC’s models, the effect of aerosols on climate could be as much as 4.5 degrees C. But Stevens paper suggests that this is a considerable overestimate and that the reduction they effect on temperature cannot be more than 1.8 degrees C.

This pretty much kills the alarmists’ “the aerosols ate my homework” excuse stone dead. If the cooling effects of aerosols turn out to be much smaller than the IPCC thinks, then what this means is that the rise in global temperatures attributable to man-made CO2 is also much smaller than the alarmists’ computer models acknowledge.

As Andrew Montford comments here:

Jim Hansen, Bob Ward, Kevin Trenberth, Michael Mann and Gavin Schmidt, your climate alarmism just took one helluva beating.

So will the AGW theory be abandoned?

In the light of Bjorn Stevens’s new research, coming on top of other accumulating evidence such as Willy Soon’s, the answer should be yes.

But we think the right answer is, sadly, no. Because it was never expounded just to convince us that we were dangerously (and wickedly) over-heating the planet; it was always to give the would-be controllers of our lives – governments, and projected world-government – an excuse to extend their power over us.

The Daily Caller reports:

The United Nation’s climate chief says that reordering the global economy to fight climate change is the “most difficult” task the international body has ever undertaken.

“This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model, for the first time in human history,” Christiana Figueres, who heads up the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, told reporters.

“This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for the, at least, 150 years, since the industrial revolution,” Figueres said.

So there you have it.

Today is Charles Darwin’s 206th birthday 15

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Posted under Science by Jillian Becker on Thursday, February 12, 2015

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Debunking the “fine-tuning” argument for the existence of a creator god 5

Fun to watch.

Posted under Religion general, Science, Videos by Jillian Becker on Sunday, February 8, 2015

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Dawkins disproves design 2

The last argument for the existence of a creator god is that the material universe is intelligently designed.

Richard Dawkins demonstrates that it isn’t, in this fascinating video from November 2013.

Posted under Religion general, Science by Jillian Becker on Friday, December 26, 2014

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The vanishing god 18

His only existence was in the superstitions of human beings.

Now even that dim identity is fading away.

We have watched the religious retreating until their backs are to the wall.

Once firm beliefs – in the name of which believers would put disbelievers to torture and death – have quietly been abandoned within the stretch of living memory.

It’s not long since Christians believed in a physical Heaven and Hell. After all, a bodily resurrected Jesus Christ has to have a physical dwelling place. The Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ was physically hauled up into  Heaven – the hauling job by angels is called her Assumption – so there had to be some solid ground to put her on once they got her up there. And if sinners were to suffer in hell, they needed nerves and a brain to suffer pain from being burnt with actual fire.

What theologians speak of that now – or of the Trinity? Only simpletons do. Many among the laity do go on believing in an old bearded man named God, somewhere in the sky, dressed in a kind of nightshirt, with his son, a pretty young man – golden curly hair, blue eyes, also in nightwear – seated beside him on something-or-other, among billowing clouds in a rosy dawn. But that’s all for the commonalty in this twenty-first century since the chosen birthdate of the putative Savior Christ; not the great thinkers.

Science has done what it was bound to do: show up religious accounts of how the universe came into being, and how mankind arose, to be nonsense. Highly imaginative  nonsense. In some aspects, highly ingenious nonsense. But nonsense all the same.

Theological defense of the existence of “God” has steadily dwindled. It came all the way down to the dogma of “intelligent design”. And that’s also manifest nonsense. Whom does it deceive (not counting the gulls and simpletons)? Our universe is so obviously not designed. A design is for a purpose, and the propounders of the idea can point to no purpose. And where is the evidence of intelligence, when life forms fail, hideous deformities occur, animal survives by devouring animal …. the list of natural events that are easily explained by evolution but not by the idea of intelligent design could be very long.

Proponents of “intelligent design” at least had the sense to drop the notion that the supernatural Designer was benevolent. It must finally come home to even a dull mind that the Designer, or god, who made (for example) Ebola, is not a source of unqualified benefit to humankind.

The defense is worn down to the wire. The result is utter confusion.

The Catholic Church cannot allow the “intelligent designer” to take God’s place; cannot have God reduced to an architect who could shout “Hey presto!” at his drawing board and have his design spring into existence. Or don a robe decorated with moons and stars and meteors, and a tall pointed hat, and take a wand in his hand, and wave it about in some medium of ultra-space and so fill an infinite void with galaxies – and prepare Jesus Christ to be born from the womb of a virgin on the little planet Earth.

But how then can it cope with the challenge of science?

To see its best effort, witness this crap, this stew of anachronistic notions thrown into the pot with gobs of scientific truth. It shows how Roman Catholicism does not know what to say, and can only dither vague denials and assertions that add up to nothing – like these, gabbled just the other day by Pope Francis, head of that once powerful and terrible, tyrannical and cruel institution, the Catholic Church (a relic of the darkest centuries of human history):

Delivering an address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Pope Francis continued his habit of making provocative, seemingly progressive statements. The pontiff appeared to endorse the theory of the Big Bang and told the gathering at the Vatican that there was no contradiction between believing in God as well as the prevailing scientific theories regarding the expansion of our universe.

He said:

When we read about creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so. He created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfillment.

The pope avoids gesturing at the thorny issue (at least for some Christians) of whether humans descended from apes. Atheists argue, moreover, that understanding the Big Bang and what emerged from that cosmic moment obviates a need to believe in a deity. On that count, Francis obviously disagrees. He repeated the idea of God not being a “magician,” an entity that conjured all into being.

“God is not a divine being or a magician, but the Creator who brought everything to life,” Francis said. “Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”

In other words … God is more a clockmaker than a conjurer of miracles.

Could anything be less like a clock designed to work in a fixed unchanging manner for a particular purpose than this universe of ever-changing matter?*

Such thinking is not new for the Catholic Church, which for six decades — since the reforms of Pope Pius XII — has espoused belief in theistic evolution. That hinges, of course, on the fundamental acceptance of a higher power.

A 2006 article in the Vatican’s main newspaper also distanced the Catholic Church from the idea of “intelligent design,” which it said should not be taught in schools as science. …

What the church does insist upon is that the emergence of the human supposes a willful act of God, and that man cannot be seen as only the product of evolutionary processes, it said. The spiritual element of man is not something that could have developed from natural selection but required an “ontological leap”.

Francis’s more conservative predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, espoused this view and found the American debate between creationists and those who backed evolution “absurd’. He asked in 2007 why “those who believe in the Creator would not be able to conceive of evolution, and those who instead support evolution would have to exclude God”. And then went on:

This antithesis is absurd because, on the one hand, there are so many scientific proofs in favor of evolution which appears to be a reality we can see and which enriches our knowledge of life and being as such. But on the other, the doctrine of evolution does not answer every query, especially the great philosophical question: where does everything come from? And how did everything start which ultimately led to man? I believe this is of the utmost importance.

Skeptics and atheists, though, may agree with the importance of those questions. But they’re still looking for very different answers.

We sure are, bro!

The intellectually beleaguered theologians of the Catholic Church saw that some interpretation, some clarification of this garbage was needed. So they’ve come up with this, from the Catholic News Service, by John Thavis:

Intelligent design not science, says Vatican newspaper article

Intelligent design is not science and should not be taught as a scientific theory in schools alongside Darwinian evolution, an article in the Vatican newspaper said.

The article said that in pushing intelligent design some groups were improperly seeking miraculous explanations in a way that creates confusion between religious and scientific fields.

At the same time, scientists should recognize that evolutionary theory does not exclude an overall purpose in creation – a “superior design” that may be realized through secondary causes like natural selection, it said.

What overall purpose?

The article, published in the Jan. 17 edition of L’Osservatore Romano, was written by Fiorenzo Facchini, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Bologna in Italy.

The article noted that the debate over intelligent design – the idea that certain features of life and the universe are best explained by an intelligent designer rather than adaptive evolution – has spread from the United States to Europe.

The problem with intelligent design is that it turns to a “superior cause” – understood though not necessarily named as God – to explain supposed shortcomings of evolutionary science. But that’s not how science should work, the article said.

If the model proposed by Darwin is held to be inadequate, one should look for another model. But it is not correct methodology to stray from the field of science pretending to do science.

The article said a Pennsylvania judge had acted properly when he ruled in December that intelligent design could not be taught as science in schools. [The judge said:]

Intelligent design does not belong to science and there is no justification for the pretext that it be taught as a scientific theory alongside the Darwinian explanation.

From the church’s point of view, Catholic teaching says God created all things from nothing, but doesn’t say how, the article said. That leaves open the possibilities of evolutionary mechanisms like random mutation and natural selection.

God’s project of creation can be carried out through secondary causes in the natural course of events, without having to think of miraculous interventions that point in this or that direction.

What the church does insist upon is that the emergence of the human supposes a willful act of God, and that man cannot be seen as only the product of evolutionary processes .. The spiritual element of man is not something that could have developed from natural selection but required an “ontological leap’ … 

The article said that, unfortunately, what has helped fuel the intelligent design debate is a tendency among some Darwinian scientists to view evolution in absolute and ideological terms, as if everything — including first causes — can be attributed to chance.

Science as such, with its methods, can neither demonstrate nor exclude that a superior design has been carried out.

From a religious viewpoint, it said, there is no doubt that the human story “has a sense and a direction that is marked by a superior design”.

What direction? Going where? Why?

So if God may not be boiled down to an “intelligent designer”, then what is he? What is this new orthodoxy of the Catholic Church? He’s still “the creator of all things from nothing”. But he didn’t create things exactly as we know them at this passing moment. He launched evolution. By a special “willful” act he had humankind “emerge”. (Whether from earlier ape-like Hominoidea or not is left an open question.) Man’s unique “spiritual element” could not have developed through evolution. So it must have been put in him by God. Man’s spiritual element, it may be inferred, proves the existence of God.

God is a launcher of evolution, into which process he uniquely intervened to create humankind, to which he gave something new in the universe, a “spiritual element”.

This new Catholic God is not very different from the old Catholic God, but he seems to have shed his son and the Holy Ghost. At least neither the Professor of evolutionary biology nor the befuddled Pope says what’s happened to them.

So even the “intelligent designer” fades out. The old Creator is glimpsed as the launcher of a process through billions of years which finally did not result in the creation of humankind. That was a special new creation. For what purpose is still not said.

He is very frail, that being. Very thin, transparent, ghost-like. Going, going … almost gone.

 

* We do, however, accept Karl Popper’s splendidly explicated thesis that “all clouds are clocks and all clocks are clouds” in his lecture “Of Clouds and Clocks”. In his sense only, having nothing to do with theological “intelligent design”, organic things may be said to be clock-like. You can find the lecture here, or in the collection of Popper’s essays titled Objective Knowledge.

A cloak of invisibility 4

Science, not magic.

We cannot resist posting this video.

Posted under Science, Videos by Jillian Becker on Sunday, September 28, 2014

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R too D to leave you free 5

When all the news is depressing or fearful, it’s great to have a good laugh. Even if the laugh is a trifle hysterical.

We laughed that sort of laugh at this story from the Washington Free Beacon:

The National Science Foundation has committed $10 million to build robots that will act as “personal trainers” for children, in an effort to influence their behavior and eating habits.

The government has spent $2.15 million so far for the five-year project, which is being led by Yale University. The project, “Robots Helping Kids,” will ultimately “deploy” robots into homes and schools to teach English as a second language, and encourage kids to exercise.

The project will develop a “new breed of sophisticated socially assistive’ robots, designed to help children learn to read, appreciate physical fitness, overcome cognitive disabilities, and perform physical exercises”, according to a news release by Yale University …

“Just like a good personal trainer, we want the robots to be able to guide the child toward a behavior that we desire,” said Brian Scassellati, a computer science professor at Yale and principal investigator for the study. “What we want to do is move these robots out of the laboratory and into schools and homes and clinics, places where we can directly help children on a day-to-day basis,” he said. …

“The need for this technology is driven by critical societal problems that require sustained, personalized support that supplements the efforts of educators, parents, and clinicians,” the [NSA providers of] the grant said.  

Scassellati envisions the robots influencing nearly every aspect of children’s lives.

“We want them to help children learn language, we want to help them learn better eating habits, we want them to learn new social or cognitive skills through their interactions with these robots,” he said. …

Social skills with robots. Interaction with robots who must therefore, presumably, also have social skills. This truly is a brave new world!

Of course kids will probably love having a robot as a pet and companion. Better than a doll or a stuffed bear!

But will the robot be sending info back to a mad professor or the state? We guess so. “He didn’t eat his salad today.” “She quarreled with a classmate.”

The kids will be in the constant presence of a spy. Nurturing a serpent in their little bosoms.

The project is seeking to create robots that could be personal companions to children for up to a year. Scassellati said he wants to “build a healthy relationship of trust and respect between the child and the robot.”

Respectful robots! They may spy on you, but they’ll do it respectfully.

“At the end of five years we’d like to have robots that can guide a child toward long-term educational goals, be customized for the particular needs of that child, and basically grow and develop with the child,” he said. “We want the robot to be the equivalent of a good personal trainer.”

The NSF has allotted $10 million for the study through 2017. The grant is one of the highest amounts the agency dispenses.

The University of Southern California, MIT, Stanford, and Tufts University are listed as partners for the project. Willow Garage, a personal robotics company, is also participating in the research. …

We bet they are. Most lucratively.

Scassellati said the robots would “not replace” humans, but provide additional attention and guidance for children. The research is focusing on both “regularly developing children and those with social or cognitive deficits.” Some of Scassellati’s prior research has focused on how robots can help kids with Autism.

Did you think the do-good factor, the “help” because “we care” factor would be missing? The state always exercises totalitarian control only for your own good.

“If we’re successful in this, we think we can make a real difference in the lives of children,” he said.

We don’t doubt it for a moment. The personal robot scheme will serve the government’s indoctrination purposes much better even than compulsory pre-kindergarten schooling could. Now the state will be with you 24/7. You’ll have no secrets from it. It’ll  be in bed with you, at the table with you, in the bathroom with you, at school with you. And it will be fun!  This is how you’ll come to love Big Brother.

“And we think that we can produce some of the most interesting, the most engaging, and the most competent social robots that we’ve ever seen.”

You could make them pretty too, Brian. The things could have the look of this or that Hollywood star, for instance.

Considering the official prurience of the state these days, they will very likely be programmed to teach the kids practical sex. No holds barred, of course. (Sado-masochism is strongly advised by state-supported institutions right now.)

Loads of fun for the next generation coming up! Who said that the age of American vision ended with the close of its space exploration?

And – parents – note that the interesting, engaging, competent companion of your kid will not need feeding. It won’t consume the teeniest bite of the arugula, kale, broccoli, coarse bread and dandelion tea that it will prescribe for you and yours.

Brace yourselves for its constant (respectful) criticism though. It will be there to keep you in line too. Can’t risk your preferences or bad influence of any sort undoing its good work.

Shameless 4

When future generations try to understand how the world got carried away around the end of the 20th century by the panic over global warming, few things will amaze them more than the part played in stoking up the scare by the fiddling of official temperature data.

– So Christopher Booker writes at the Telegraph. He goes on:

There was already much evidence of this seven years ago, when I was writing my history of the scare, The Real Global Warming Disaster. But now another damning example has been uncovered by Steven Goddard’s US blog Real Science, showing how shamelessly manipulated has been one of the world’s most influential climate records, the graph of US surface temperature records published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

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[click to enlarge charts]

Goddard shows how, in recent years, NOAA’s US Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) has been “adjusting” its record by replacing real temperatures with data “fabricated” by computer models.

The effect of this has been to downgrade earlier temperatures and to exaggerate those from recent decades, to give the impression that the Earth has been warming up much more than is justified by the actual data.

In several posts headed “Data tampering at USHCN/GISS”,* Goddard compares the currently published temperature graphs with those based only on temperatures measured at the time. These show that the US has actually been cooling since the Thirties, the hottest decade on record; whereas the latest graph, nearly half of it based on “fabricated” data, shows it to have been warming at a rate equivalent to more than 3 degrees centigrade per century.

When I first began examining the global-warming scare, I found nothing more puzzling than the way officially approved scientists kept on being shown to have finagled their data, as in that ludicrous “hockey stick” graph, pretending to prove that the world had suddenly become much hotter than at any time in 1,000 years.

Any theory needing to rely so consistently on fudging the evidence, I concluded, must be looked on not as science at all, but as simply a rather alarming case study in the aberrations of group psychology.

Why the deception? The main reason (as everyone knows) for the creation of the theory is that it serves political interest; and the “scientists”, and Al Gore, make a lot of money out of it.

(See our posts: The most powerful magician the world has ever known, December 21, 2009; Al Gore and the sale of indulgences, April 29, 2010; Mann-made global warmingOctober 17, 2013.)

 

* GISS – [NOAA’s] Goddard Institute for Space Studies

*

For more on data tampering – and many more highly informative charts at USHCN/GISS that prove it – go here.

The measured USHCN daily temperature data shows a decline in US temperatures since the 1930s.  But before they release it to the public,  they put it thorough a series of adjustments which change it from a cooling trend to a warming trend. …

(Hat-tip our reader and commenter REALBEING]

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