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September 07, 2011


Poor Chris Mooney is not a scientist, so he's not able to explain what's supposedly wrong with Spencer amd Braswell's paper in Remote Sensing (SB11). Instead he criticizes the paper by pointing to other papers that were wrong. Of course, that's no way to judge a scientific paper. Furthermore, his analogy doesn't even work. His supposedly comparable papers were retracted, but SB11 has not been retracted. There's been no move to get it retracted.

Wolfgang Wagner provided a long explanation of why he resigned as Remote Sensing Editor, but his explanation doesn't seem to justify his decision. First of all, Wagner isn't an expert in the field of climate, so his opinion of the paper's accuracy is irrelevant. Wagner acknowledges that the journal's review process worked properly, so he didn't do anything wrong. At this point, it's not clear whether or not SB11 had serious errors. There's lots of back and forth discussion going on.

If Wagner thought there were mistakes in SB11, he should have printed another paper refuting SB11 and also allowed Spencer and Braswell to comment on this refutation. That's how science is supposed to work.

You can find a lot of relevant links giving arguments on all sides at http://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/the-spencer-braswell-dessler-papers/

Although I like Jane Clayson's report about the truthers, I question one point. She asks, "How have these ideas stuck around for so long in the face of all the facts? And what do they say about our country?" IMHO if she wants to know what truther beliefs say about our country, she ought to compare our country with other countries.

My impression is that truther beliefs are stronger in many other countries. E.g., the truther book L'Effroyable imposture sustained a number 1 bestseller position in France for six of seven weeks immediately after its launch, sold 164,100 copies in the first year, and a total of 300,000 up to date. It has since been translated into 28 languages (as of 2006), according to wikipedia.

Perhaps the greatest degree of truther belief is among Muslims. E.g., see http://m911t.blogspot.com/ and http://www.mujca.com/ and http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/09/13/associate-nyc-mosque-imam-calls-attacks-inside-job/ and http://911blogger.com/news/2010-10-04/huffington-post-muslims-believe-911-be-inside-job-how-could-so-many-muslims-be-so-wrong

Instead of asking what's wrong with America, maybe Jane Clayson should ask what's wrong with Muslims.

USA Today has made a stealth correction, so their article now correctly says,

"A hefty raise might not be as big as it looks. Extra money could bump you into the next tax bracket, which means you’ll pay a higher tax rate on earnings above a certain threshold. Relax: Your earnings below that threshold are still taxed at the previous, lower tax rate."

Also, a commenter pointed out that a few people could wind up poorer if they earn more because their marginal tax rate is over 100%. See http://mises.org/daily/3822

Enik Rising says Democrats have been pushing "an agenda of spending cuts, tax increases, and investment in infrastructure and education." Spending cuts???

Federal spending was around $3 trillion per year at the end of George Bush's second term. In just 3 years, Obama and the Dems in Congress have raised the federal spending level by a trillion dollars, to around $4 trillion per year. They passed an $830 billion "stimulus" (which didn't stimulate). They spent money on Cash for Clunkers, bailouts of banks and insurance companies, loans to clean energy, purchases of automobile companies, etc. etc. They passed health "reform" that will require much more federal spending in the future.

Today's news says Obama will call for another $300 billion of "stimulus". Some of it will be tax cuts, but most of the additional $300 billion will be more spending increases.

How Rising can identify the Dems as pushing spending cuts is beyond me.

Some time ago this site linked to an article by Chris Mooney observing that those with stronger scientific backgrounds are more likely to be global warming skeptics. Mooney sought some psychological explanation. Actually the reason for the difference is that skeptics' discussions are generally more scientific than warmists' discussions.

E.g., Mooney's "proof" that SB11 is a bad paper is to reference some other bad papers -- papers that have little or nothing to do with SB11. Another attack on SB11 writen by 3 scientists is essentially ad hominem. It claims that Spencer has "a history of making serious technical errors". The authors allege that SB11 has "serious flaws", but they don't identify a single supposed flaw.

OTOH this skeptical post supporting SB11 (or more precisely criticizing a paper that SB11 critcizes) addresses the appropriateness of alternative data sources, calculates the slope and r squared of various linear fits and looks at other scientific aspects.

Yes, Obama has used the word "sacrifice", but has he ever proposed and promoted real sacrifice? Megan McArdle at the Atlantic says "No":

As MuniLass said over Twitter,

Obama: "Here's the deal: I take credit for the new spending now; you take credit for making politically unpopular cuts later."

This is becoming a signature move for Obama. As far as I can recall, he has never taken the risk of proposing anything even potentially unpopular; even with something like health care, he let Congress take the lead. Eh voila--anything you like in the plan is a product of his wise leadership, while anything unfortunate is, y'know, the not-perfect stuff he had to sign in order to get Americans health care.
But it's hard for Obama to call for altruism on the part of Congressional Republicans when he wasn't willing to take the manly risk of saying out loud what taxes he'll raise or spending he'll cut. The speech may have appeased his base. But I doubt it did much to advance either of what were clearly his twin goals here: enacting policy, and wooing independents.

Ezra Klein thinks Republicans' position re stimulus is inconcsistent, thus must be explained psychologically. Actually, their position is consistent with their beliefs. Klein overlooks the difference between increased spending and decreased taxes.

Although a given amount of additional government spending adds the same amount to the deficit as the same amount of tax cuts, conservatives see these as different. Conservatives see government spending as a drag on the economy -- leeches. That's why Rep Ryan, e.g., supported a tax cut as a stimulus, but opposed a spending increase.

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