1081: "Argument Victory"

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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby Biliboy » Sat Jul 14, 2012 9:36 pm UTC

Spoiler:
drewster1829 wrote:
Max™ wrote:I am not an AGW denier, a denier is a unit of fabric measurement or a defunct unit of currency. I am not a denialist, that is a term used to cast a negative light on anyone who doubts the AGW hypothesis.

I prefer the term skeptic, but among the hardcore AGW followers who insist on calling me a denier, as they've generally gone to the point of treating AGW as a religion I have a far better term for my position: heretic.


This...right...here. I can't explain to people that the science is very very very complicated, and the fact that no definite large-scale conclusions can be drawn and that the models have not been able to predict climate change over even a short period of time automatically makes me a "climate change denier." Language is used to manipulate the way we think, and denier is a word associated with anyone who doesn't seem to admit that anthropogenic climate change is a scientifically proven theory.

Do I think that humans have a significant effect on Earth's global climate? Maybe. It's certainly possible. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is certainly not a bad idea, but when it's presented to me that climate change is a fact, I get a little upset. I can't say anything, though, or else I'm a "denier." The only thing I deny is our ability to accurately model the Earth's climate as a whole on a large scale.

Max™ wrote:There won't be any climate problem because warmer climates are inherently more hospitable, and worries about people who live on beaches having to move inland over the next 80 years aren't what I call problems.


This reminds me of the Newsweek article from 1975 about global cooling:

Meteorologists think that they can forecast the short-term results of the return to the norm of the last century. They begin by noting the slight drop in overall temperature that produces large numbers of pressure centers in the upper atmosphere. These break up the smooth flow of westerly winds over temperate areas. The stagnant air produced in this way causes an increase in extremes of local weather such as droughts, floods, extended dry spells, long freezes, delayed monsoons and even local temperature increases – all of which have a direct impact on food supplies.


Replace cooling with warming (and local temperature increases with local temperature decreases), and the effects of extreme weather are exactly the same. Does this mean that ANY change in the average global temperature leads to more extreme weather? I'm not saying that this article is correct, and I'm not saying that this proves that global warming (aka, climate change) is a crock. What I AM saying is that the alarmism rhetoric for global warming is exactly the same as it is for global cooling, which makes me a bit skeptical about the consequences of global warming presented by the media.

That said, I don't know if I would agree, Max, that warming would be a universally good thing...it probably has both positive and negative consequences that may not have even been thought of, yet.

J Thomas wrote:The last I checked, the models probably weren't very good. That means we do not have good estimates for what will happen, and we don't have good estimates for just how bad our estimates are. There is no particular reason to think that the climate will be stable. There is no particular reason to think it will change slowly. There is no particular reason to think we understand what directions it will change. The climate scientists don't know much about what to expect, and their detractors know even less. This should not be a comfort.


Completely, wholeheartedly agreed with this, though I still think that it's not a reason to panic.

J Thomas wrote:Currently, it's appropriate for us to be in a state of FUD. We don't know what to expect, and there's no reason to expect it will be pleasant. IPCC was a UN scientific body designed to collect research done by other people and fit it together in a way that made sense to governments. It suffered a political hatchet job, and now various people think that the IPCC was completely wrong and they use that to say that the whole of climate science is wrong, and therefore there will be no climate problem. This is utterly bogus logic. Not that you are saying anything like this. Just, if you are an AGW denier who is not saying that, then you are such a tiny minority that your position is insignificant in the denial movement.


So, what is an AGW denier? Is it a label given by the denier him/herself, or by someone else? Is it someone that denies global warming is occuring? Or someone who denies that it is caused by humans? Am I a denier?

I agree with both you, J Thomas, and with Max, to a certain extent. I think that much action should be withheld until we, as a species, know exactly what course of action would be best. While the trend is for a push to cut CO2 emissions, what happens if we reduce CO2 (and other greenhouse gas emissions) and it doesn't change the climate trend? Or even makes it worse (which is certainly possible, in my non-enlightened opinion)? To know the best course of action, we need better models, and to understand the climate to a much better extent than we do now. I'm not saying that there will not be a problem...but I'm not saying that there will be, either. I am also of the position that humans may or may not have a significant impact on the global climate, but even if we do, I don't think that there is a very good understanding of how.

I don't deny that the climate is changing, but I wonder if it has EVER been stable, or if human activities have any significant impact on it.


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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby Max™ » Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:01 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:I give that label to people who meet a particular set of criteria.

1. They argue that the science is bogus because climate scientists are being paid to do climate science. Max hints at that but doesn't do the full monte.

Eh, I don't intend to hint at this, the science is fine, but climate models aren't a replacement for experiment and observation, and without the model projections suggesting doom and gloom, there isn't much of an argument. Model outputs get more respect than they deserve, simply due to being computer results. Whether it is a good model or a bad model, you tell someone a computer model shows x, they're going to give x more credit than y, whether the methodology in designing the model and running the simulations is crap or not. If you build models to see if human CO2 has an influence on the climate and find that the models show human CO2 has an influence on the climate, what is that actually evidence of?

2. They know about some climate science, but only things that imply climate science is bunk. For example, solar forcing, paleoclimate (the climate has changed before, future changes will be like past changes because they have the same causes, so past climate change tells us any change will be slow and small), IPCC (IPCC is completely corrupt and wrong and political, so climate change is not a threat), climate models (climate models don't predict well so climate change is not a threat), clouds (climate models are all wrong about clouds so climate change is not a threat), etc. Max does this, but he leaves off the certain claim that it proves there is no climate problem.

Well, I recognize that climate changes, and am biased towards warmer climates. I don't just know enough to imply that it's bunk though. I also separate my arguments, that the IPCC is a political body which is treated as a scientific group is frustrating, but that isn't why I disagree with them alone. Shit like their treatment of water vapor (assumptions of constant relative humidity with increasing temperature which pegs water vapor directly to temperature changes with no allowance for the time lapse between evaporation/condensation/convection/transport, etc), their minimizing of other influences, pushing the idea that CO2 drives everything, deliberately presenting data in a vague manner for the policymaker supports, etc.

3. They argue that climate change is good for us anyway, so why worry? Max does this.

Well, I argue that warmer climates are better, and that much of the "catastrophic" effects claimed are bullshit. I do take particular issue with two things though: CO2 is required for plants, plants are required for us to live, it is impossible for CO2 to be pollution, and droughts/desertification/aridity is a result of water being locked up in ice caps, not warmer climates.

4. They argue that it's all politics and politics is mostly lies, so you can't take it seriously. Max kind of does this.

Well, the IPCC is a political body, and the idea that CO2 drives everything doesn't hold up to basic observations anymore, so yeah, it's a lie.

5. They argue that we shouldn't do anything about climate change until the science is all worked out correctly and we know exactly what the problem is. Max kind of does this. So do I. Lots of people I wouldn't regard as deniers do this one, more or less.

Well, I'm all for cutting CO2 emissions from hydrocarbons, we do need more CO2 for our crops to be more productive, right now plants are damn near suffocating, and I think it would be a tragic irony if we fucked over our agriculture by pulling CO2 out of the air trying to save ourselves.

So I don't consider Max a climate change denier because he doesn't quite match #1 #2 or #4.

Hopefully you consider me less likely to fit that label now.

I agree with both you, J Thomas, and with Max, to a certain extent. I think that much action should be withheld until we, as a species, know exactly what course of action would be best. While the trend is for a push to cut CO2 emissions, what happens if we reduce CO2 (and other greenhouse gas emissions) and it doesn't change the climate trend?


Yeah, like what if we stopped doing those special banking housing derivatives and such, and we still had a problem? That would mean we should keep doing it, right?

Well, the derivatives are obviously the problem, CO2 is not obviously the problem. :P

Or even makes it worse (which is certainly possible, in my non-enlightened opinion)?


That's possible, but I consider it unlikely. It's possible to argue that doubling or tripling the amount of CO2 in the biosphere will have no effect. Like if we had a big gold strike and in 6 months or so we tripled the amount of gold in international markets, that wouldn't have much effect on the economy, right? It wouldn't have had much effect in 1849, right? There's only a tiny amount of gold in the system, you could put it all into a cube less than 20 feet per side. Triple that and it surely wouldn't matter much.

But if you think that adding a great big slug of something important does make a difference, it isn't likely it will be more disruptive if you add it slower.

True, but it should be noted that CO2 effects on infrared are on a logarithmic scale, so most of the result from doubling CO2 HAS to be present right now. The more you add, the less it can do.

To know the best course of action, we need better models, and to understand the climate to a much better extent than we do now. I'm not saying that there will not be a problem...but I'm not saying that there will be, either. I am also of the position that humans may or may not have a significant impact on the global climate, but even if we do, I don't think that there is a very good understanding of how.


I almost agree with you. I figure there are things we could do that might avert a giant catastrophe. But we completely lack the will or the organization to do those things. I agree with Max that it's mostly useless to try to get politicians to solve problems that aren't centered around you sucking more money out of the system so you can give them more graft. When multiple governments around the world would have to agree? Unlikely. Regardless whether we need to do something or whether we should do something, the truth is that we can't do anything much. The existence of a well-organized and well-funded organization of deniers trying to make sure nothing is done is only the last nail in the coffin.

We have to hope we can adapt when we need to, because hoping is the plan that we can actually follow.

I'd have to disagree at the idea that there is a well organized and well funded denial organization, like I said, we're talking a thousandth the funding and groups that have almost no credibility or a handful of credible but treated as "kooky" traitor scientists.

I'm sure we can adapt to temperatures 1 or 2 K warmer than the present on average, because we survived them already, 8000 years ago, 5000 years ago, during warm periods we created civilization... I think we'll survive if we're entering another warm spell.
I don't deny that the climate is changing, but I wonder if it has EVER been stable, or if human activities have any significant impact on it.


First the question whether humans have ever had so much impact on climate. I have read some population genetics papers that claim the last big population bottleneck among humans was around 80,000 years ago. I'm not sure I understood them. I had the impression that they were saying we used to have a bigger population, and then for awhile we had a very small population, and then it got bigger again. I didn't follow the math and I may have misunderstood.

Could there have been hi-tech civilizations before ours, say before 80,000 years ago, that collapsed? I don't see any strong evidence there were. Evidence against it includes a whole lot of unburned coal and oil, and a lot of silver that could be easily mined and was not. If they existed, they did not need the oil or the silver. More likely they did not exist and did not have big effects on climate.

The bottleneck event was the Toba eruption I think, about 70k years ago or so, but we weren't terribly likely to be above hunter gatherer societies, remember this was during the ice age, harsh, dry, difficult to survive, not likely to find enough food to begin building an agricultural community, and so on.

I would say the climate has never been all that stable, but it appears to have a whole collection of feedback mechanisms that stabilize it somewhat. We are currently doing something that is unprecedented in the last 300 million years. In the course of less than 300 years we are adding a whole lot of carbon to the ecosystem that has been gone for a long time.

Well, the climate has been staying within a 10~ K range for most of the history of the planet, that's pretty damn stable.

Currently we have a nominal 560 billion tons of carbon in all the life in the world.

We have about at trillion metric tons of coal still in the ground. Around 150 billion metric tons of oil. 160 billion tons of natural gas. We will burn it all, unless we find some other energy source that is plentiful and cheap. And also whatever reserves we find that we don't know about yet. On top of what we have already burned, which is around half a trillion tons?

There is a possibility this will not have much effect, or that any effect it has will be very slow.
There is that possibility.


Edit: A quick look at wikipedia suggests the bottleneck theory is somewhat discredited. The genetic results are also compatible with a very long time before around 70,000 years ago when the population was small.

Yeah, the Toba is what I mentioned above.
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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby J Thomas » Sun Jul 15, 2012 5:47 am UTC

Max™ wrote:
J Thomas wrote:I give that label to people who meet a particular set of criteria.

1. They argue that the science is bogus because climate scientists are being paid to do climate science. Max hints at that but doesn't do the full monte.

Eh, I don't intend to hint at this, the science is fine, but climate models aren't a replacement for experiment and observation, and without the model projections suggesting doom and gloom, there isn't much of an argument. Model outputs get more respect than they deserve, simply due to being computer results. Whether it is a good model or a bad model, you tell someone a computer model shows x, they're going to give x more credit than y, whether the methodology in designing the model and running the simulations is crap or not. If you build models to see if human CO2 has an influence on the climate and find that the models show human CO2 has an influence on the climate, what is that actually evidence of?


It shows how much you've thought it out. The only alternative I see to making explicit models is to go by your gut feel, to work out the interactions in your head.

It's possible to build models based on first principles. Like, you could build economic models based on your ideas about how people act in free markets. See how the models work out, and notice whether the results surprise you. You might get results you didn't expect, which would show that you had not completely thought out the implications of your assumptions. That's worth doing, but of course it only helps you improve your thinking. You can't expect it to result in predictions for the real world, any more than a gedanken experiment will predict lab results.

Better when you can have quantitative models. Use whatever you know about real physics and chemistry, use whatever experimental data you have. See what results you get from modeling that. It always seems to turn out that there are hidden variables, things that are very important which you haven't managed to measure. You can use the models to predict those variables, but of course when you have N equations in 2N variables you get a lot of leeway at predicting the missing parameters. One really good result from this sort of model is it can give you a clear idea of what needs to be measured that has not been measured.

Computer models are tools for thinking. They don't turn into great tools for predicting the future until the models are refined so far that you don't need to think about them any more. They don't make good predictions until after you are modeling a solved problem.

2. They know about some climate science, but only things that imply climate science is bunk. For example, solar forcing, paleoclimate (the climate has changed before, future changes will be like past changes because they have the same causes, so past climate change tells us any change will be slow and small), IPCC (IPCC is completely corrupt and wrong and political, so climate change is not a threat), climate models (climate models don't predict well so climate change is not a threat), clouds (climate models are all wrong about clouds so climate change is not a threat), etc. Max does this, but he leaves off the certain claim that it proves there is no climate problem.

Well, I recognize that climate changes, and am biased towards warmer climates. I don't just know enough to imply that it's bunk though. I also separate my arguments, that the IPCC is a political body which is treated as a scientific group is frustrating, but that isn't why I disagree with them alone. Shit like their treatment of water vapor (assumptions of constant relative humidity with increasing temperature which pegs water vapor directly to temperature changes with no allowance for the time lapse between evaporation/condensation/convection/transport, etc), their minimizing of other influences, pushing the idea that CO2 drives everything, deliberately presenting data in a vague manner for the policymaker supports, etc.


See, you know about the talking points against one of their models. If I picked some part of the model at random could you talk so clearly about it? Here's how it looks to me. Probably every climate science specialist who looks at how some particular IPCC model handles his specialty, can point out details they got wrong. He can suggest improvements, and he can suggest research to clear up unknowns that they have assumed answers for. In each case their motive is to improve the model. On the other hand you are quoting denier talking points, things that deniers claim are proof the model is no good. That makes it look to me like you got your talking points from deniers, without actually studying the models.

3. They argue that climate change is good for us anyway, so why worry? Max does this.

Well, I argue that warmer climates are better, and that much of the "catastrophic" effects claimed are bullshit. I do take particular issue with two things though: CO2 is required for plants, plants are required for us to live, it is impossible for CO2 to be pollution, and droughts/desertification/aridity is a result of water being locked up in ice caps, not warmer climates.


It only makes sense that more faster plant growth is better, right? Who could argue with that? If plants grow faster than they ever have since before primates existed, that's got to result in a world human beings will do better in! Just because we evolved to survive in something else doesn't matter, we'll be even more competitive in a world with more plant growth and faster plant growth, it just stands to reason, right?

And of course it stands to reason that if the oceans are bigger then there won't be as many deserts or droughts. More water in the oceans has to result in more rain on the land, it's just obvious. Different weather patterns, more water and less land means less drought. How could it be otherwise?

Ah, give me a moment to get the irony taste out of my mouth.

4. They argue that it's all politics and politics is mostly lies, so you can't take it seriously. Max kind of does this.

Well, the IPCC is a political body, and the idea that CO2 drives everything doesn't hold up to basic observations anymore, so yeah, it's a lie.


?? We've already added a lot of carbon -- about as much as the total biomass of the planet. We're getting ready to add more than twice as much more. This is a big change that's happening in only one direction. All the other drivers appear to be fluctuating around stable values, or taking random walks. Something else could change things faster than the carbon will. But the carbon is the one that's continuing to push in one direction -- more carbon. What are you saying is a lie?

5. They argue that we shouldn't do anything about climate change until the science is all worked out correctly and we know exactly what the problem is. Max kind of does this. So do I. Lots of people I wouldn't regard as deniers do this one, more or less.

Well, I'm all for cutting CO2 emissions from hydrocarbons, we do need more CO2 for our crops to be more productive, right now plants are damn near suffocating, and I think it would be a tragic irony if we fucked over our agriculture by pulling CO2 out of the air trying to save ourselves.


It's been a long time since CO2 levels were this high, and our crops did OK without it. We don't want to get CO2 levels to what's best for the crops because first, that would be bad for us, and second, it would produce acids that would tend to destroy our soil. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laterite

Any idea how to cut CO2 emissions from hydrocarbons and coal?

It's possible to argue that doubling or tripling the amount of CO2 in the biosphere will have no effect. Like if we had a big gold strike and in 6 months or so we tripled the amount of gold in international markets, that wouldn't have much effect on the economy, right? It wouldn't have had much effect in 1849, right? There's only a tiny amount of gold in the system, you could put it all into a cube less than 20 feet per side. Triple that and it surely wouldn't matter much.

But if you think that adding a great big slug of something important does make a difference, it isn't likely it will be more disruptive if you add it slower.

True, but it should be noted that CO2 effects on infrared are on a logarithmic scale, so most of the result from doubling CO2 HAS to be present right now. The more you add, the less it can do.


One of the tragedies from this stuff getting politicized is that it got turned into a yes/no question. If we get warming provably caused by human-produced CO2, then the AGW guys were right. Any other outcome including any other disaster doesn't count. But increased temperature caused by atmospheric CO2 is only one of the potential problems, and likely not the biggest of them. We don't begin to understand the consequences of our actions.

To know the best course of action, we need better models, and to understand the climate to a much better extent than we do now. I'm not saying that there will not be a problem...but I'm not saying that there will be, either. I am also of the position that humans may or may not have a significant impact on the global climate, but even if we do, I don't think that there is a very good understanding of how.


I almost agree with you. I figure there are things we could do that might avert a giant catastrophe. But we completely lack the will or the organization to do those things. I agree with Max that it's mostly useless to try to get politicians to solve problems that aren't centered around you sucking more money out of the system so you can give them more graft. When multiple governments around the world would have to agree? Unlikely. Regardless whether we need to do something or whether we should do something, the truth is that we can't do anything much. The existence of a well-organized and well-funded organization of deniers trying to make sure nothing is done is only the last nail in the coffin.

We have to hope we can adapt when we need to, because hoping is the plan that we can actually follow.

I'd have to disagree at the idea that there is a well organized and well funded denial organization, like I said, we're talking a thousandth the funding and groups that have almost no credibility or a handful of credible but treated as "kooky" traitor scientists.


You have made this claim before. But first, funding for the anti-science lobby often does not have to get reported. And second, most of the science budget goes to actually, you know, doing science. Very little can be spared for propaganda and hiring experts on how to mold public opinion etc.

And consider this -- 38% of Americans believe that there is no global warming, even today, when there is no rational basis for that belief. That's an impressive result! Tobacco supporters had the advantage of defending a highly addictive drug and lots of addicts strongly wanted to believe it was OK. These guys don't have that. If they are fooling 38% of Americans with a low budget, disorganized conspiracy that's even more impressive!

I'm sure we can adapt to temperatures 1 or 2 K warmer than the present on average, because we survived them already, 8000 years ago, 5000 years ago, during warm periods we created civilization... I think we'll survive if we're entering another warm spell.


Is that 1 or 2 degrees K? Yes, sure, that's unlikely to drive humanity extinct. We could lose billions of people, but we could adapt to that fine in the long run. But we don't know what's coming. It might be 2 degrees warmer without a lot of other changes. It might be something else. The best current scientific estimates are for slow changes that we can adapt to, but the best estimates are not very good. We do not know what to expect.

I don't deny that the climate is changing, but I wonder if it has EVER been stable, or if human activities have any significant impact on it.


First the question whether humans have ever had so much impact on climate. I have read some population genetics papers that claim the last big population bottleneck among humans was around 80,000 years ago. I'm not sure I understood them. I had the impression that they were saying we used to have a bigger population, and then for awhile we had a very small population, and then it got bigger again. I didn't follow the math and I may have misunderstood.

Could there have been hi-tech civilizations before ours, say before 80,000 years ago, that collapsed? I don't see any strong evidence there were. Evidence against it includes a whole lot of unburned coal and oil, and a lot of silver that could be easily mined and was not. If they existed, they did not need the oil or the silver. More likely they did not exist and did not have big effects on climate.


The bottleneck event was the Toba eruption I think, about 70k years ago or so, but we weren't terribly likely to be above hunter gatherer societies, remember this was during the ice age, harsh, dry, difficult to survive, not likely to find enough food to begin building an agricultural community, and so on.


I want to consider the possibility there was a hi-tech society before that, which has left few traces. The question was asked whether humans might have changed the climate on a large scale before. When I think about it, I see little reason to think it happened, and some reason to think it didn't. It doesn't seem plausible to me.

I would say the climate has never been all that stable, but it appears to have a whole collection of feedback mechanisms that stabilize it somewhat. We are currently doing something that is unprecedented in the last 300 million years. In the course of less than 300 years we are adding a whole lot of carbon to the ecosystem that has been gone for a long time.

Well, the climate has been staying within a 10~ K range for most of the history of the planet, that's pretty damn stable.


Temperatures vary a lot more than that across the globe on a given day.

Currently we have a nominal 560 billion tons of carbon in all the life in the world.

We have about at trillion metric tons of coal still in the ground. Around 150 billion metric tons of oil. 160 billion tons of natural gas. We will burn it all, unless we find some other energy source that is plentiful and cheap. And also whatever reserves we find that we don't know about yet. On top of what we have already burned, which is around half a trillion tons?

There is a possibility this will not have much effect, or that any effect it has will be very slow.
There is that possibility.


Edit: A quick look at wikipedia suggests the bottleneck theory is somewhat discredited. The genetic results are also compatible with a very long time before around 70,000 years ago when the population was small.

Yeah, the Toba is what I mentioned above.


There is naturally some controversy about that. The genetics more-or-less coincide with the history. But it doesn't fit the archeology etc. I don't have an opinion myself.
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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby Max™ » Sun Jul 15, 2012 8:36 am UTC

J Thomas wrote:It shows how much you've thought it out. The only alternative I see to making explicit models is to go by your gut feel, to work out the interactions in your head.

It's possible to build models based on first principles. Like, you could build economic models based on your ideas about how people act in free markets. See how the models work out, and notice whether the results surprise you. You might get results you didn't expect, which would show that you had not completely thought out the implications of your assumptions. That's worth doing, but of course it only helps you improve your thinking. You can't expect it to result in predictions for the real world, any more than a gedanken experiment will predict lab results.

Better when you can have quantitative models. Use whatever you know about real physics and chemistry, use whatever experimental data you have. See what results you get from modeling that. It always seems to turn out that there are hidden variables, things that are very important which you haven't managed to measure. You can use the models to predict those variables, but of course when you have N equations in 2N variables you get a lot of leeway at predicting the missing parameters. One really good result from this sort of model is it can give you a clear idea of what needs to be measured that has not been measured.

Computer models are tools for thinking. They don't turn into great tools for predicting the future until the models are refined so far that you don't need to think about them any more. They don't make good predictions until after you are modeling a solved problem.

Well, no, make a very simple model, a ramp, a stationary ball, and a ball rolled down the ramp into the stationary ball.

There are very few variables, surface friction, ball weight, air resistance, and you can reduce these all in various ways.

Perform the experiment directly and perform an arbitrary number of model runs, even a basic system like this is unlikely to correspond exactly from run to run just with itself, much less with the experimental runs.

See, you know about the talking points against one of their models. If I picked some part of the model at random could you talk so clearly about it? Here's how it looks to me. Probably every climate science specialist who looks at how some particular IPCC model handles his specialty, can point out details they got wrong. He can suggest improvements, and he can suggest research to clear up unknowns that they have assumed answers for. In each case their motive is to improve the model. On the other hand you are quoting denier talking points, things that deniers claim are proof the model is no good. That makes it look to me like you got your talking points from deniers, without actually studying the models.

I get all of my points from the IPCC reports or general scientific study. I deliberately avoid anything from any skeptic/denier/etc sites.

It only makes sense that more faster plant growth is better, right? Who could argue with that? If plants grow faster than they ever have since before primates existed, that's got to result in a world human beings will do better in! Just because we evolved to survive in something else doesn't matter, we'll be even more competitive in a world with more plant growth and faster plant growth, it just stands to reason, right?

And of course it stands to reason that if the oceans are bigger then there won't be as many deserts or droughts. More water in the oceans has to result in more rain on the land, it's just obvious. Different weather patterns, more water and less land means less drought. How could it be otherwise?

Ah, give me a moment to get the irony taste out of my mouth.

Actually what I said was less water locked up in ice caps means a less arid climate overall, ice ages are the driest most arid periods. Given how much land we use for agriculture, I don't think jumping to a night of the trifids conclusion is warranted, even if you're just being ironic.

?? We've already added a lot of carbon -- about as much as the total biomass of the planet. We're getting ready to add more than twice as much more. This is a big change that's happening in only one direction. All the other drivers appear to be fluctuating around stable values, or taking random walks. Something else could change things faster than the carbon will. But the carbon is the one that's continuing to push in one direction -- more carbon. What are you saying is a lie?

All of the carbon dioxide we're adding was once biomass.

Btw, your math is wonky, roughly 25% of the mass of CO2 is carbon, humans have added 250 gigatons of carbon in the form of roughly 1 teraton of CO2, the oceans contain another 30 to 40 teratons of CO2, and the total biomass is in the area of 1 teraton.

I'm not saying that CO2 isn't increasing, I'm saying temperatures should have been increasing more than they have if the climate was driven by CO2, as far as other drivers fluctuating or being random, there was something which reduced the global temperatures for a couple centuries between 1400 and 1800~, that the planet began warming up after a prolonged cool period should come as no surprise.

It's been a long time since CO2 levels were this high, and our crops did OK without it. We don't want to get CO2 levels to what's best for the crops because first, that would be bad for us, and second, it would produce acids that would tend to destroy our soil. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laterite

Any idea how to cut CO2 emissions from hydrocarbons and coal?

Stop burning hydrocarbons and coal? I'm all for that for other reasons though, I'd be more worried about the uranium and shit in coal ash than CO2.

Not sure what laterite has to do with acids destroying our soil, it's a chemical weathering result, but in order for it to be a worrying outcome you need to first agree with me that it will be wetter if it warms up more.

Laterites are soil types rich in iron and aluminium, formed in hot and wet tropical areas.


One of the tragedies from this stuff getting politicized is that it got turned into a yes/no question. If we get warming provably caused by human-produced CO2, then the AGW guys were right. Any other outcome including any other disaster doesn't count. But increased temperature caused by atmospheric CO2 is only one of the potential problems, and likely not the biggest of them. We don't begin to understand the consequences of our actions.

Indeed, we also don't know what the outcome of the sorts of drastic geoengineering programs to try and counter the planet warming would be.

You have made this claim before. But first, funding for the anti-science lobby often does not have to get reported. And second, most of the science budget goes to actually, you know, doing science. Very little can be spared for propaganda and hiring experts on how to mold public opinion etc.

And consider this -- 38% of Americans believe that there is no global warming, even today, when there is no rational basis for that belief. That's an impressive result! Tobacco supporters had the advantage of defending a highly addictive drug and lots of addicts strongly wanted to believe it was OK. These guys don't have that. If they are fooling 38% of Americans with a low budget, disorganized conspiracy that's even more impressive!

That 38% number has been going down in the last few years, but that's not really related to my point.

I simply don't find the claims of CO2 driving the climate convincing.

Is that 1 or 2 degrees K? Yes, sure, that's unlikely to drive humanity extinct. We could lose billions of people, but we could adapt to that fine in the long run. But we don't know what's coming. It might be 2 degrees warmer without a lot of other changes. It might be something else. The best current scientific estimates are for slow changes that we can adapt to, but the best estimates are not very good. We do not know what to expect.

Yeah, I dislike Celsius, Kelvin ftw.

Losing billions of people though, that's part of the catastrophic fearmongering, there is no reason to actually think that is likely, and most of those claims seem to hinge on the idea of people just sitting slackjawed on the coast for 80 years until the water rises up and drowns them, if there are billions of people that dumb, we don't need to worry about them, do we?

I want to consider the possibility there was a hi-tech society before that, which has left few traces. The question was asked whether humans might have changed the climate on a large scale before. When I think about it, I see little reason to think it happened, and some reason to think it didn't. It doesn't seem plausible to me.

Eh, the closest I get to this line of thought is that I am curious about the portion of indonesia which was above sea level during the last ice age. We know humans went through there because they reached australia. We know homo erectus lived in the region for most of a million years.

As for a society more advanced than hunter gatherers, that's a rather extraordinary claim with a dearth of extraordinary evidence unfortunately.

Temperatures vary a lot more than that across the globe on a given day.

Well, yeah, weather and day/night cycles cause large changes on top of the variation between equator and poles. Over long periods of time though the planet tends to remain between 285 and 295 K on average.

There is naturally some controversy about that. The genetics more-or-less coincide with the history. But it doesn't fit the archeology etc. I don't have an opinion myself.

Yeah, same, we know Toba happened and it would have sucked but some research pushed the Y-chromosome Adam back around 120~140 kiloyears ago, so the bottleneck is difficult to support now.
mu

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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby *Kat* » Sun Jul 15, 2012 11:07 am UTC

ijuin wrote:Meh, sufficiently committed conspiracy theorists (or any other form of fanatic) are impervious to argument anyway. They are so certain of their own rightness that they will absolutely not be swayed by any form of evidence or persuasion, so why bother continuing to try once you have identified them as immovable?


A-f'n-men!

I have a friend who well and truly and completely believes that 9/11 was an inside job. Nothing, but nothing I have said will sway him from his conviction. My good points are ignored, the ones that were written on the fly are seized as evidence of how brainwashed I am.

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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby hawkinsssable » Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:46 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:
hawkinsssable wrote:So I came to post about how I thought this comic didn't work at all - waterslide guy had already obviously invested a bunch of time and effort arguing with conspiracy guy, and the fact he's calling belatedly calling it quits doesn't salvage very much, and the whole thing kinda implies that the conspiracy theorist would win at life if he'd just had the sense to go on a waterslide first. The whole source thing irks me, too - Wikipedia is useless, biased and misleading in my particular area of study.


That's interesting. Could you fix Wikipedia in your particular area of study? Or is somebody keeping it from being fixed? Would you reveal some of the details?


Wiki citation! I tidied it up quite a bit a while ago, but actually fixing it is too exhausting a job. The citations are all rubbish, and none of the relevant legal, medical or anthropological literature is mentioned, nor is any of the highly relevant (and easy to access) stuff from the WHO, MESOT, ESOT and every transplantation society ever is missing. It gets a bunch of facts wrong (re: liver transplants, 'legal trade' in the Philippines, Iran's actually massive waiting list - some evidence of which is hinted at in the very source used to back up the opposite claim, ffs - the role of CASKP in Iran and the way the whole system works, the weird, incoherent and false stuff on Illich, and a bunch more little errors found all the way through.) The 'debate' section is biased - it doesn't even do justice to the case for and only mentions one source even remotely noteworthy, but the 'case against' (insofar as there's even anything on it) doesn't even resemble anything said on the issue. It's also missing highly relevant information on Pakistan, Israel, Turkey, Brazil, Moldova and a bunch of other places. Anybody happening across the page would learn more wrong information than right.

J Thomas wrote:I'm no clear how much it costs to do that stuff effectively. For the military it doesn't really matter how much it costs -- they can just go to Congress and get more. But others have to consider just how valuable public opinion is to them. Meanwhile, you can't stop them by arguing with them. It just uses up your own personal time. If you come up with particularly good arguments, they will work out ways to counter them and add them to the playbook in case somebody else does it again -- you are beta-testing their product for free. So only do it if it's fun.

I wasn't being particularly serious, but you're absolutely right. Possibly the only worthwhile thing to do if you care enough is arrange some massive multiple-user spamming of your own.

J Thomas wrote:
Then I read this last page of comments, and I wanted to jump in on the whole IPCC, ACC, global warming discussion.


Only do it if it's fun.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QR1jRM4XTyc

That clip is amazing.

I think arguing with people on the internet is, when it works, basically just a good way to force you to learn some new stuff, look up some new stuff, argue better, and basically try on ideas for size. And it's sometimes even kinda fun.

Until you actually get invested in an argument that can only ever be won by attrition (or going on a waterslide? iunno)

Max wrote:Losing billions of people though, that's part of the catastrophic fearmongering, there is no reason to actually think that is likely, and most of those claims seem to hinge on the idea of people just sitting slackjawed on the coast for 80 years until the water rises up and drowns them, if there are billions of people that dumb, we don't need to worry about them, do we?


Image

Tabasco sauce bath, anyone?

Ijuin wrote:Meh, sufficiently committed conspiracy theorists (or any other form of fanatic) are impervious to argument anyway. They are so certain of their own rightness that they will absolutely not be swayed by any form of evidence or persuasion, so why bother continuing to try once you have identified them as immovable?

Do any internet debates actually resolve themselves with one side admitting the other was right all along?
Reason has always existed, but not always in a reasonable form.

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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby noodle » Sun Jul 15, 2012 1:41 pm UTC

Just chiming in about the source of this comic (the "Pressures" debate, aka "Steve Waterman v. the World'.) (sorry I'm new and can't use BBcodes for URLs)

I wonder how many others became totally entranced. I spent hours reading the posts. At first, developing an entire understanding of Gallilean transformations (as well as freshening up on Cartesian geometry) on a background of just high school maths. Once I grasped what Waterman's problem was (I think 10 pages in) in that he wanted points on the Cartesian plane to move when a coordinate system is moved, (in complete defiance of standard pan-earth conventions), I stopped reading his (repetitive) posts and concentrated on responses for other posters.

It was surprising how patient, kind and helpful they were. XKCD posters are truly wonderful people(and I mean this without sarcasm) in their desire to help others to come to understand and appreciate their wonder of science and mathematics. It was also interesting how long most took to realise Steve has disordered thinking, and that *no amount of talk was ever going to make him think clearly*. I think many, like me, initially thought he was a troll - but no troll could have the kind of persistence and patient he had with his own disordered thinking.

One day soon, some prominent psychiatrist/psychologist is going to be pointed at that thread, lengthy analysis will ensue, and...

To quote:
"My God..this will mean a half a dozen papers, a thesis or two, and a chapter in every book on" disordered thinking and its effect on others.

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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby Kit. » Sun Jul 15, 2012 2:57 pm UTC

Well, I find it silly. Can't you all keep your science discussions in the threads where they belong? The model of the phone is what should be discussed here... you know, we cannot discuss it in those threads!

So, any guess on the model?

(I still own a Nokia 5500 Sport. It's a waterproof smartphone, but it's pain in the a** when it comes to texting. Besides, it's considerably smaller than the one shown in the comic. And my bigger Nokia E75 recently died in my pocket during a not-so-heavy rain. So if there is a pocket-sized waterproof physical QWERTY keyboard smartphone on the market, I would gladly buy one).

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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby chenille » Sun Jul 15, 2012 3:40 pm UTC

Max™ wrote:I'm not saying that CO2 isn't increasing, I'm saying temperatures should have been increasing more than they have if the climate was driven by CO2...

What? The only way to estimate how much things should have been increasing is modeling what would happen. The models we have do not show temperature increases inconsistent with what has been happening, and you criticized them for making the assumption that CO2 is driving things. So how you can say that same assumption would give even larger results is beyond me.

Incidentally: it's only reasonable not to treat water vapor the same way as CO2, since it adjusts on a timescale orders of magnitude smaller. Treating things like that as feedback when you consider the effect of the slower-changing variable is how modeling works.

Also, it is well-documented increasing CO2 alone does not help plants much; rather this type of change in conditions gives some plants an advantage over others and so changes the composition of the flora. People have been studying what way, but in most cases changes like that mean a few generalists do really well and others get crowded out. Suffice to say you can't just assume it would help crops more than weeds.

Edit: Really, though, the oceans are a much larger concern. There are still a lot of people who rely on the ocean for food, and there are lots of things there that are sensitive to pH levels, that do demonstrably poor when carbon dioxide increases. And those include most algae and corals that produce calcium carbonate, which is a key way carbon gets taken out of the CO2-biomass cycle.
Last edited by chenille on Sun Jul 15, 2012 4:02 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby gonxkcd » Sun Jul 15, 2012 4:01 pm UTC

*Kat* wrote:
ijuin wrote:Meh, sufficiently committed conspiracy theorists (or any other form of fanatic) are impervious to argument anyway. They are so certain of their own rightness that they will absolutely not be swayed by any form of evidence or persuasion, so why bother continuing to try once you have identified them as immovable?


A-f'n-men!

I have a friend who well and truly and completely believes that 9/11 was an inside job. Nothing, but nothing I have said will sway him from his conviction. My good points are ignored, the ones that were written on the fly are seized as evidence of how brainwashed I am.


Kat: I wonder what your explanation for the destruction of Building Seven is. We are lucky on this forum to be among people who understand science and are open to evidence and persuasion. What is your understanding of how that building came to fall freely to the ground?

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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby J Thomas » Sun Jul 15, 2012 4:03 pm UTC

Max™ wrote:
J Thomas wrote:It shows how much you've thought it out. The only alternative I see to making explicit models is to go by your gut feel, to work out the interactions in your head.

It's possible to build models based on first principles. Like, you could build economic models based on your ideas about how people act in free markets. See how the models work out, and notice whether the results surprise you. You might get results you didn't expect, which would show that you had not completely thought out the implications of your assumptions. That's worth doing, but of course it only helps you improve your thinking. You can't expect it to result in predictions for the real world, any more than a gedanken experiment will predict lab results.

Better when you can have quantitative models. Use whatever you know about real physics and chemistry, use whatever experimental data you have. See what results you get from modeling that. It always seems to turn out that there are hidden variables, things that are very important which you haven't managed to measure. You can use the models to predict those variables, but of course when you have N equations in 2N variables you get a lot of leeway at predicting the missing parameters. One really good result from this sort of model is it can give you a clear idea of what needs to be measured that has not been measured.

Computer models are tools for thinking. They don't turn into great tools for predicting the future until the models are refined so far that you don't need to think about them any more. They don't make good predictions until after you are modeling a solved problem.

Well, no, make a very simple model, a ramp, a stationary ball, and a ball rolled down the ramp into the stationary ball.

There are very few variables, surface friction, ball weight, air resistance, and you can reduce these all in various ways.

Perform the experiment directly and perform an arbitrary number of model runs, even a basic system like this is unlikely to correspond exactly from run to run just with itself, much less with the experimental runs.


Sure, but you can get it very close and you likely won't find any additional variables to measure and control that improve your results. It's a known system and the engineering has been worked out, starting I think with Galileo.

See, you know about the talking points against one of their models. If I picked some part of the model at random could you talk so clearly about it? Here's how it looks to me. Probably every climate science specialist who looks at how some particular IPCC model handles his specialty, can point out details they got wrong. He can suggest improvements, and he can suggest research to clear up unknowns that they have assumed answers for. In each case their motive is to improve the model. On the other hand you are quoting denier talking points, things that deniers claim are proof the model is no good. That makes it look to me like you got your talking points from deniers, without actually studying the models.

I get all of my points from the IPCC reports or general scientific study. I deliberately avoid anything from any skeptic/denier/etc sites.


Interesting. What a surprising coincidence!

It only makes sense that more faster plant growth is better, right? Who could argue with that? If plants grow faster than they ever have since before primates existed, that's got to result in a world human beings will do better in! Just because we evolved to survive in something else doesn't matter, we'll be even more competitive in a world with more plant growth and faster plant growth, it just stands to reason, right?

And of course it stands to reason that if the oceans are bigger then there won't be as many deserts or droughts. More water in the oceans has to result in more rain on the land, it's just obvious. Different weather patterns, more water and less land means less drought. How could it be otherwise?

Ah, give me a moment to get the irony taste out of my mouth.

Actually what I said was less water locked up in ice caps means a less arid climate overall, ice ages are the driest most arid periods. Given how much land we use for agriculture, I don't think jumping to a night of the trifids conclusion is warranted, even if you're just being ironic.


You have made a nice generalization but I don't think it's workable to apply it to specific cases like the future of this particular world.

?? We've already added a lot of carbon -- about as much as the total biomass of the planet. We're getting ready to add more than twice as much more. This is a big change that's happening in only one direction. All the other drivers appear to be fluctuating around stable values, or taking random walks. Something else could change things faster than the carbon will. But the carbon is the one that's continuing to push in one direction -- more carbon. What are you saying is a lie?

All of the carbon dioxide we're adding was once biomass.


Sure, but it was biomass that got taken out of the system before the rise of the angiosperms. Mostly before the dinosaurs. When we add it back there's no reason to think things will go back to being the way they were before. Instead we will get something new, because we've had hundreds of millions of years of evolution since the last time that stuff was loose.

Btw, your math is wonky, roughly 25% of the mass of CO2 is carbon, humans have added 250 gigatons of carbon in the form of roughly 1 teraton of CO2, the oceans contain another 30 to 40 teratons of CO2, and the total biomass is in the area of 1 teraton.


I never talked about the mass of CO2, I kept it all in terms of carbon. There's room for argument about all the figures. Total biomass has not been measured very well, estimates vary some. It's understandable that you would use the high-end value. Carbon from fossil fuels burned so far ought to be more precise but probably is not, you say 250 gigatons and it's understandable that you would use the bottom-end value. Current reserves of fossil fuels are also estimates that are not very good. OPEC gives member nations strong reason to lie that their reserves are higher than reality, while it's unclear how much of our coal reserves can actually be extracted. And we keep discovering more. But we should count all the reserves because we fully intend to burn all of them within the next generation or so.

I'm not saying that CO2 isn't increasing, I'm saying temperatures should have been increasing more than they have if the climate was driven by CO2, as far as other drivers fluctuating or being random, there was something which reduced the global temperatures for a couple centuries between 1400 and 1800~, that the planet began warming up after a prolonged cool period should come as no surprise.


You keep repeating the denier talking points you say you haven't seen. You bring them up one after another with no indication you have done any critical thinking about them. Just saying....

It's been a long time since CO2 levels were this high, and our crops did OK without it. We don't want to get CO2 levels to what's best for the crops because first, that would be bad for us, and second, it would produce acids that would tend to destroy our soil. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laterite

Any idea how to cut CO2 emissions from hydrocarbons and coal?

Stop burning hydrocarbons and coal? I'm all for that for other reasons though, I'd be more worried about the uranium and shit in coal ash than CO2.


OK, I'd support that. I don't like the little bits of ash in the coal either. (Of course it's possible we might find some cheap way to collect that stuff before it blows away, and store it somewhere. But I'll gladly align with you on finding ways to leave a lot of it unburned.) How would you suggest we arrange to burn less fossil fuel? Should we do some sort of politics?

Not sure what laterite has to do with acids destroying our soil, it's a chemical weathering result, but in order for it to be a worrying outcome you need to first agree with me that it will be wetter if it warms up more.


Get atmospheric CO2 levels up to 1000 or so, where you say the plants like it best, and enough CO2 comes down in the rain to dissolve away the Ca, Mg, K etc and leave laterite behind. No uniformity there, different soils would give different results. That would presumably work faster with more rain, but it happens with whatever rain you get.

One of the tragedies from this stuff getting politicized is that it got turned into a yes/no question. If we get warming provably caused by human-produced CO2, then the AGW guys were right. Any other outcome including any other disaster doesn't count. But increased temperature caused by atmospheric CO2 is only one of the potential problems, and likely not the biggest of them. We don't begin to understand the consequences of our actions.

Indeed, we also don't know what the outcome of the sorts of drastic geoengineering programs to try and counter the planet warming would be.


Yes. "There was an old woman who swallowed a fly...." Speaking facetiously, if we killed 3/4 of the world population and reduced the amount of human action by 3/4 or more, it's predictable that we would have less effect on the world than we do now. But realistically this is not feasible. We would be creating a horrible disaster in the hope that we could prevent a worse one, when there's no ironclad guarantee a worse disaster is coming or that this would prevent it. We won't do that, unless it's an unintended side effect of something we do for some other purpose.

Similarly, we could tell the whole third world that development will not be allowed, and do things to reduce the first world to third-world status. We won't do that either.

The idea of reducing our use of fossil fuels in any significant way is just politically a non-starter. The only thing that might help us with that is some other energy source that's cheap and plentiful. But that's just my opinion. I'd welcome ideas.

You have made this claim before. But first, funding for the anti-science lobby often does not have to get reported. And second, most of the science budget goes to actually, you know, doing science. Very little can be spared for propaganda and hiring experts on how to mold public opinion etc.

And consider this -- 38% of Americans believe that there is no global warming, even today, when there is no rational basis for that belief. That's an impressive result! Tobacco supporters had the advantage of defending a highly addictive drug and lots of addicts strongly wanted to believe it was OK. These guys don't have that. If they are fooling 38% of Americans with a low budget, disorganized conspiracy that's even more impressive!

That 38% number has been going down in the last few years, but that's not really related to my point.

I simply don't find the claims of CO2 driving the climate convincing.


I know you don't. You selectively pick up arguments that imply it doesn't happen and ignore research indicating that it does. I don't say you're a terrible person for that -- it's what individual human beings do. We tend to come up with mindsets and then selectively notice things that fit our preconceptions and reject things that don't. It's like we're part of a great big genetic algorithm experiment, and we come up with simple clear unified points of view and try them against the environment to see which of them can be viable. Different people latch onto different ideas, and we get farther testing out the different mindsets than we would if we were more open-minded.

I say that releasing thousands of gigatons of carbon from fossil fuels is very likely to have some big effects, and I can't predict very well what those effects will be. It is a great big change and it is unprecedented. We have no data what to expect because it has never been done before, in the geological history of the earth. This carbon got sequestered largely in the carboniferous period and before. We cannot know what to expect by looking at the geological record since then, because for all the geological ages since then that carbon stayed underground.

You can use whatever evidence you like to be convinced or unconvinced by. We simply do not have much hard data to go on. You'd do better to predict horse races. With them you know nothing too unexpected will happen. A horse you never noticed won't suddenly get big enough to see and eat some of the other horses. A swarm of deerflies won't start biting the horses and blind some of them. An earthquake won't reshape the course during the race. For that matter the racetrack owner won't suddenly change the length or the direction of the course. And the race will be over soon and you will have won or lost. If you get good at predicting horse races you can make money.

Is that 1 or 2 degrees K? Yes, sure, that's unlikely to drive humanity extinct. We could lose billions of people, but we could adapt to that fine in the long run. But we don't know what's coming. It might be 2 degrees warmer without a lot of other changes. It might be something else. The best current scientific estimates are for slow changes that we can adapt to, but the best estimates are not very good. We do not know what to expect.

Yeah, I dislike Celsius, Kelvin ftw.

Losing billions of people though, that's part of the catastrophic fearmongering, there is no reason to actually think that is likely, and most of those claims seem to hinge on the idea of people just sitting slackjawed on the coast for 80 years until the water rises up and drowns them, if there are billions of people that dumb, we don't need to worry about them, do we?


If anything seriously interferes with our agriculture our poorest billions will starve. We have no basis to decide what's likely. It's a brand new situation.

I want to consider the possibility there was a hi-tech society before that, which has left few traces. The question was asked whether humans might have changed the climate on a large scale before. When I think about it, I see little reason to think it happened, and some reason to think it didn't. It doesn't seem plausible to me.

Eh, the closest I get to this line of thought is that I am curious about the portion of indonesia which was above sea level during the last ice age. We know humans went through there because they reached australia. We know homo erectus lived in the region for most of a million years.

As for a society more advanced than hunter gatherers, that's a rather extraordinary claim with a dearth of extraordinary evidence unfortunately.


I agree. It's worth reconsidering the possibility occasionally, as new evidence arises. Currently it looks unlikely to me. So I think humans have probably never had as much influence on their environment as they do now.

Temperatures vary a lot more than that across the globe on a given day.

Well, yeah, weather and day/night cycles cause large changes on top of the variation between equator and poles. Over long periods of time though the planet tends to remain between 285 and 295 K on average.


I've seen those figures before and to me they look vastly oversimplified. What does it even mean? It's supposed to represent some sort of global average, and it comes from a mishmash of different experimental techniques that get extrapolated to global temperature. It could be good for something but you have to be very careful how the measurements it's based on fit into your uses.

There is naturally some controversy about that. The genetics more-or-less coincide with the history. But it doesn't fit the archeology etc. I don't have an opinion myself.

Yeah, same, we know Toba happened and it would have sucked but some research pushed the Y-chromosome Adam back around 120~140 kiloyears ago, so the bottleneck is difficult to support now.


I haven't looked at that in any detail. Population genetics is notorious for giving complicated results that are hard to interpret into simple answers to simple questions. A ways up in the comments I was using a possible bottleneck as something compatible with a former civilization. Hard to figure a complex high-tech civilization with only a few people. If there was one with a lot of people, and then for some reason it failed and a lot of people died, that could give you a population bottleneck. If there definitely wasn't one then there probably wasn't an ancient advanced civilization. I don't see that the bottleneck is established or disproven, but neither of us has much riding on it.

_________________________

Hawkinsssable wrote:I tidied it up quite a bit a while ago, but actually fixing it is too exhausting a job. The citations are all rubbish, and none of the relevant legal, medical or anthropological literature is mentioned, nor is any of the highly relevant (and easy to access) stuff from the WHO, MESOT, ESOT and every transplantation society ever is missing. It gets a bunch of facts wrong (re: liver transplants, 'legal trade' in the Philippines, Iran's actually massive waiting list - some evidence of which is hinted at in the very source used to back up the opposite claim, ffs - the role of CASKP in Iran and the way the whole system works, the weird, incoherent and false stuff on Illich, and a bunch more little errors found all the way through.) The 'debate' section is biased - it doesn't even do justice to the case for and only mentions one source even remotely noteworthy, but the 'case against' (insofar as there's even anything on it) doesn't even resemble anything said on the issue. It's also missing highly relevant information on Pakistan, Israel, Turkey, Brazil, Moldova and a bunch of other places. Anybody happening across the page would learn more wrong information than right.


Now I want to ask you to speculate. Why did this happen? Is it "political", with people who want to spread lies and prevent truth? Is it just that there are people who think they know what's going on but they don't, while you know the truth? If you did find the energy to fix it, would they come back and claim you're wrong?

I have found that Wikipedia is often a good way to find out the common wisdom on a topic. It can quickly tell you what some people believe that isn't strongly disputed.

Image


This sort of thing is ultimately unconvincing. You have given somebody's conclusions for what's likely to happen. You don't say why we should believe those conclusions, or even who said it. People who already believe that's plausible will tend to accept it, while people who already deny it will go right ahead and deny some more.

Still, I like the Hedonists' Creed for this sort of thing.
If it feels good, do it.
Until it stops feeling good. Then quit.


Do any internet debates actually resolve themselves with one side admitting the other was right all along?


Seldom. Usually, if somebody actually learns something important he'll slink off to think about it. He's likely to get all surly. He might go through all his old arguments again, asserting them vigorously, while he tries to see what went wrong with them and why they stopped working. Looking desperately for a way to patch them up and make them work.

And if, just at the point he's thinking, somebody crows that he's wrong and they won, he's likely to stop thinking and start screaming, or try to forget the whole thing.

I figure if somebody actually stops to think it's a victory for him. If I stop to think it's a victory for me. People who stop to think tend to be too busy to tell other people they were right all along. Particularly since the guy who's thinking doesn't know yet what's right and wrong. He used to think he was right and he learned better. That doesn't make some random arguer right, just because that was the one he was arguing with when he saw he didn't have it all thought out. That guy is probably just as wrong as everybody else.
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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby JimsMaher » Sun Jul 15, 2012 4:15 pm UTC

"... I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question." ~ Charles Babbage

Infographic of rhetoric and logical fallacies ... http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/rhetological-fallacies/

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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby kulukimaki » Sun Jul 15, 2012 5:25 pm UTC

The real reason I am inclined to believe that there is a conspiracy, is that Randall keeps telling me that there isn't.

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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby steve waterman » Sun Jul 15, 2012 5:45 pm UTC

JimsMaher wrote:"... I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question." ~ Charles Babbage

Infographic of rhetoric and logical fallacies ... http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/rhetological-fallacies/


from my shoes, tactics employed against me,

Appeal to Traditional Ridicule
Appeal to Incredulity
Appeal to Circular logic
Appeal to Wishful thinking
Appeal to Ridicule
Appeal to Slippery Slope
Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
Affirming the consequent
Appeal to Straw man
Appeal to Confirmation basis

Appeal to Ad Hoc Rescue
I am Guilty of this
"listening to all objections"... whittling down a proof, not expanding it, the precise objective behind a discussion/collaboration.
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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby Soteria » Sun Jul 15, 2012 6:26 pm UTC

What good does panic do? My guess is that panic is useful when you suddenly notice you have been ambushed. If you do something that nobody can predict, there's a chance it will befuddle your enemies and let you escape. You can't hope things to work out well if you wait for your enemies to carry out whatever plan they have, while you are clueless. So do something random, fast. I don't see any other circumstance where it's useful. Climate change is not a good candidate for panic. Your enemies won't care. The climate won't care.


In combat training, marines are taught to turn into an ambush and assault. A buddy of mine who had actual combat experience said that's exactly what we do, and it works like a charm. Apparently it surprises the ambushers every time. I take from that example that panic isn't the best response in that situation, but rather a coordinated group response. I'm not sure there's ever a good time for panic unless maybe you're dying and there's nothing to be done in any case. I suspect the random things people do when panicked are not very threatening to an ambusher and are easy to deal with rationally.

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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby ivnja » Sun Jul 15, 2012 6:57 pm UTC

Why do you bother to come back if you feel like you've been so wronged by "xkcd," as you've been tending to refer to the subset of posters that have replied to you? You've already "left" more than once, only to come back again within a matter of hours. You've not convinced anyone to come around to your way of thinking in the past month, and in the process you've managed to come off as so unwilling to even attempt to understand what others are saying that you've been essentially blacklisted in the mathematics and science subforums. You don't seem to like us, so what's your end game?


As an aside, does anyone else wish that RealGrouchy and perhaps even rachel were still active to demonstrate that gmalivuk is in fact being rather lenient with his moderation?
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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby AdmiralJota » Sun Jul 15, 2012 7:07 pm UTC

JimsMaher wrote:Infographic of rhetoric and logical fallacies ... http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/rhetological-fallacies/


You expect us to listen to someone who's citing a .net page?

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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Jul 15, 2012 7:24 pm UTC

gonxkcd wrote:What is your understanding of how that building came to fall freely to the ground?
None of the towers fell at free-fall speeds, and the collapse of WTC 7 isn't actually mysterious.
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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby Radical_Initiator » Sun Jul 15, 2012 7:28 pm UTC

ivnja wrote:As an aside, does anyone else wish that RealGrouchy and perhaps even rachel were still active to demonstrate that gmalivuk is in fact being rather lenient with his moderation?


I'm not familiar with those names, but I'm almost curious enough to want to see the phenomenon to which you refer. Almost.

Edit: Also, I'd like to see (preferably in a PM) examples of those tactics Steve claims were used against him, assuming he's referring to his experience in "Pressures", and not just arguing against classical physics without actually discussing physics in general. Some of them, I'll grant you (Appeal to Ridicule - yeah, calling him a "crank" doesn't actually refute his arguments, but the actual refutations of the arguments did that well enough, and when steve ignored them, the "crank" epithet was bound to fly), but others, I don't see. I'm not even sure what "Appeal to Traditional Ridicule" is; how does it differ from more modern forms of ridicule? Should we have used Ye Olde Insultes?
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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby ivnja » Sun Jul 15, 2012 7:34 pm UTC

They both had rather acerbic tongues, and did not brook any bullshit. I miss them greatly.
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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Jul 15, 2012 8:34 pm UTC

One difference between me and RG and rachel (and hermaj and Saladin, who was the biggest asshole of the bunch) is that I'm only a magistrate, which means I don't actually have moderation powers outside of a few specific subforums.

In addition, I conveniently have steve waterman foed, so I don't actually see any of his posts without clicking on them. That makes it a lot easier to avoid acerbicism, which is totally a word.

(Also, I don't remember you from way back when that lot were more active. Did you just start posting again recently after a hiatus?)
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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby ivnja » Sun Jul 15, 2012 9:10 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:One difference between me and RG and rachel (and hermaj and Saladin, who was the biggest asshole of the bunch) is that I'm only a magistrate, which means I don't actually have moderation powers outside of a few specific subforums.

In addition, I conveniently have steve waterman foed, so I don't actually see any of his posts without clicking on them. That makes it a lot easier to avoid acerbicism, which is totally a word.

(Also, I don't remember you from way back when that lot were more active. Did you just start posting again recently after a hiatus?)

Yeah, I basically dropped off once the board got big enough that I couldn't read every new post that was made. I came back for a while (including a spell under another name), but the setup was different and most of the people I knew had disappeared, so eventually I left again and only stopped in very occasionally to lurk. Then about a month ago I was talking about GIS and surveying with a friend, and the conversation led to "You know the Waterman butterfly projection? Well, we've been arguing about coordinate transformations on the xkcd fora with the guy that developed it..." And here I am again.

I do miss having a small board, and definitely miss hermaj and Verysillyman and aldimond and that whole bunch. It's fun looking back on old threads and seeing Randall participating, too. But time goes on and things change, and it is what it is. For what it's worth, I do remember you from back then, mostly for having notably well-argued posts. It was pretty cool to come back and see you with a colorful name.

(My avatar back then would have looked something like this:Image, I think, if that jogs your memory any. Even then, I wasn't in a ton of threads so you wouldn't have seen it especially often.)
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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby J Thomas » Sun Jul 15, 2012 9:48 pm UTC

Soteria wrote:
What good does panic do? My guess is that panic is useful when you suddenly notice you have been ambushed. If you do something that nobody can predict, there's a chance it will befuddle your enemies and let you escape. You can't hope things to work out well if you wait for your enemies to carry out whatever plan they have, while you are clueless. So do something random, fast. I don't see any other circumstance where it's useful. Climate change is not a good candidate for panic. Your enemies won't care. The climate won't care.


In combat training, marines are taught to turn into an ambush and assault. A buddy of mine who had actual combat experience said that's exactly what we do, and it works like a charm. Apparently it surprises the ambushers every time. I take from that example that panic isn't the best response in that situation, but rather a coordinated group response. I'm not sure there's ever a good time for panic unless maybe you're dying and there's nothing to be done in any case. I suspect the random things people do when panicked are not very threatening to an ambusher and are easy to deal with rationally.


You may be right. But then, things that work for a group of well-trained Marines might not work as well for random victims. And consider that our feelings got built in before we were humans. If you watch a panicked squirrel running in random directions ... worthless for escaping a car that wasn't aiming at it anyway, but maybe pretty good to keep a set of jaws from closing on it. In our evolutionary history, sometimes we were prey.
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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby gonxkcd » Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:53 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
What is your understanding of how that building came to fall freely to the ground?
None of the towers fell at free-fall speeds, and the collapse of WTC 7 isn't actually mysterious.


(sorry for lack of urls in quote, forum won't let me include the urls. ? ? )

Did you notice that the first link you gave claims "The towers did not fall at or below free fall speeds"? So that link suggests that towers were falling faster than free fall speeds (or, to be more precise, fell at acceleration rates faster than freefall). ...But that page deals with buildings 1 and 2 anyway. I had not mentioned those, just building 7.

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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby ivnja » Sun Jul 15, 2012 11:29 pm UTC

gonxkcd wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:
What is your understanding of how that building came to fall freely to the ground?
None of the towers fell at free-fall speeds, and the collapse of WTC 7 isn't actually mysterious.


(sorry for lack of urls in quote, forum won't let me include the urls. ? ? )

Did you notice that the first link you gave claims "The towers did not fall at or below free fall speeds"? So that link suggests that towers were falling faster than free fall speeds (or, to be more precise, fell at acceleration rates faster than freefall). ...But that page deals with buildings 1 and 2 anyway. I had not mentioned those, just building 7.

No urls until you've got 5 posts under your belt.

If you read the text of the first link, even just the first paragraph, it's clear that the header is a (very bad) typo. That aside, since you are concerned with WTC 7 for right now, what are your thoughts on the second link?
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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby J Thomas » Sun Jul 15, 2012 11:41 pm UTC

gonxkcd wrote:
Kat* wrote:
ijuin wrote: Meh, sufficiently committed conspiracy theorists (or any other form of fanatic) are impervious to argument anyway. They are so certain of their own rightness that they will absolutely not be swayed by any form of evidence or persuasion, so why bother continuing to try once you have identified them as immovable?

A-f'n-men!

I have a friend who well and truly and completely believes that 9/11 was an inside job. Nothing, but nothing I have said will sway him from his conviction. My good points are ignored, the ones that were written on the fly are seized as evidence of how brainwashed I am.


Kat: I wonder what your explanation for the destruction of Building Seven is. We are lucky on this forum to be among people who understand science and are open to evidence and persuasion. What is your understanding of how that building came to fall freely to the ground?


gmalivuk quoted a very good link.
http://www.debunking911.com/pull.htm

Basicly, Building 7 got hit with parts of a falling WTC tower and was not very stable. I've never seen a photo of it from that side after it was hit, probably because there were no tourists or reporters between it and the destruction from the big towers. Firemen measured that wall's changed shape. It isn't unreasonable that fuel lines inside the building would be broken and catch fire. Firemen reported those fires.

It isn't reasonable that the disaster preparedness center in Building 7 would have a whole lot of illegal fuel stored. They would need that fuel so they could run generators in an emergency that left them without electricity. But they should have spent the money to do it right. It doesn't make sense that the City of New York would admit they did such stupidity, falsely, as part of a cover-up for somebody else's conspiracy. They came off looking really bad, and it's easier for me to think that in the middle of a long drawn-out crisis after the disaster they just couldn't muster the effort to CYA for the stupid mistake. Harder to think they went along with looking real bad for something they didn't actually do. That takes a great big conspiracy.

The New York locals who got dragged in at the last minute to be fall guys, to admit to crimes they didn't do so the falling Tower 7 doesn't look so implausible? They would spread rumors that they didn't do it. The Bush administration could threaten to kidnap and kill them if they stood up in public and said it was a conspiracy, but you don't kill people because anonymous rumors said they didn't have illegal fuel supplies in Building 7.

Right down the line, the American authorities came off looking stupid and unprepared. I'd almost rather believe it was an incredibly well-organized conspiracy and they want us to think they were incompetent so we won't know how clever they were. But I'm afraid they were in fact not prepared.

There could have been a conspiracy, but I think it would need to be a small one. A small US conspiracy, or a small Israeli one. Not a whole lot of people involved. No need to wire explosives to blow up the towers because having standing wrecked towers on the New York skyline would have fit the objectives just as well. Maybe better. Maybe all a US or Israeli conspiracy would need to do, would be to send the go signal to four out of eighty arab sabotage teams that had been waiting for that signal for years.... Plus make sure the US responses failed by for example staging a simulated hijacking drill the same day, and sending away the pilots who would normally be assigned to protect those areas, etc.

I believe that small successful conspiracies are more plausible than big effective conspiracies. Simple successful conspiracies are more plausible than complex successful conspiracies.

If I believed that there was a giant conspiracy that involved mining three towers for detonation so they would fall straight, and hoping that the explosives would work correctly after an airplane crash, and then one of the planes crashes or gets shot down so they have a mined tower full of evidence that they have to detonate anyway....

and then afterward they actually succeed in keeping the story suppressed except for a bunch of amateur conspiracy theorists....

I would give up and emigrate, as quickly as I could.
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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby gonxkcd » Sun Jul 15, 2012 11:52 pm UTC

ivnja wrote:
gonxkcd wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:
What is your understanding of how that building came to fall freely to the ground?
None of the towers fell at free-fall speeds, and the collapse of WTC 7 isn't actually mysterious.


(sorry for lack of urls in quote, forum won't let me include the urls. ? ? )

Did you notice that the first link you gave claims "The towers did not fall at or below free fall speeds"? So that link suggests that towers were falling faster than free fall speeds (or, to be more precise, fell at acceleration rates faster than freefall). ...But that page deals with buildings 1 and 2 anyway. I had not mentioned those, just building 7.

No urls until you've got 5 posts under your belt.

If you read the text of the first link, even just the first paragraph, it's clear that the header is a (very bad) typo. That aside, since you are concerned with WTC 7 for right now, what are your thoughts on the second link?


The second link has a lot to read. I am not through it yet. A lot of it is concerned with whether or not Silverstein ordered the building to be demolished. This is not a question of physics, so I do not worry about it either way. Even if he did order the building demonlished that would not prove that it took place.

From what I have read, the site does not dispute free fall of the building. It states that the penthouse started to fall earlier than the rest of the building. But it does not (or I have not read that part yet) claim that the faces showing in the videos did not fall as if in free fall. Neither have I found an explanation for the free fall. There is a lot of mention of fire. But fire simply does not result in a building falling freely. To fall freely the support of a building has to simply vanish. Since the videos of this building falling show it falling very uniformly, all of the steel collumns supporting the north and west faces would have to lose all of their integrity at the same time. I have yet to read an explanation for how this happened.

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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Mon Jul 16, 2012 12:15 am UTC

gonxkcd wrote:So that link suggests that towers were falling faster than free fall speeds

This is not possible unless they were being propelled downwards.

(Do you have any background in physics?)
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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby Max™ » Mon Jul 16, 2012 1:48 am UTC

Going to spoiler as it's a derail at this point which most probably don't care about.
Spoiler:
J Thomas wrote:Well, no, make a very simple model, a ramp, a stationary ball, and a ball rolled down the ramp into the stationary ball.

There are very few variables, surface friction, ball weight, air resistance, and you can reduce these all in various ways.

Perform the experiment directly and perform an arbitrary number of model runs, even a basic system like this is unlikely to correspond exactly from run to run just with itself, much less with the experimental runs.


Sure, but you can get it very close and you likely won't find any additional variables to measure and control that improve your results. It's a known system and the engineering has been worked out, starting I think with Galileo. [/quote]
You still won't be able to predict exactly where the ball winds up with any accuracy, and we're talking about a very simple model.

Interesting. What a surprising coincidence!

I got tired of having points I make tossed aside strictly due to their source, if I can't make my point using the data given by the scientists doing the work, or the condensed version the IPCC includes in their reports, then it is unlikely that I am right.

It's a courtesy for those discussing the topic with me as well, I wouldn't want you to feel like you've wasted your time arguing a point which is summarily dismissed due to coming from some "denier" site.

Actually what I said was less water locked up in ice caps means a less arid climate overall, ice ages are the driest most arid periods. Given how much land we use for agriculture, I don't think jumping to a night of the trifids conclusion is warranted, even if you're just being ironic.


You have made a nice generalization but I don't think it's workable to apply it to specific cases like the future of this particular world.

Well, it's not a generalization, it's a fact that deserts are caused by lack of water, the definition includes "receives less than 10 inches of rain per year", as I recall. When you have lots of water and heat you get a rain forest, less water and heat you get grasslands and savannah, less water than that and you get deserts, regardless of heat. Antarctica is a desert. Warming the planet up and melting ice caps leading to less water available is a rather absurd claim.

Sure, but it was biomass that got taken out of the system before the rise of the angiosperms. Mostly before the dinosaurs. When we add it back there's no reason to think things will go back to being the way they were before. Instead we will get something new, because we've had hundreds of millions of years of evolution since the last time that stuff was loose.

This is true, but there is also no reason to think the planet will become dramatically warmer either.

Btw, your math is wonky, roughly 25% of the mass of CO2 is carbon, humans have added 250 gigatons of carbon in the form of roughly 1 teraton of CO2, the oceans contain another 30 to 40 teratons of CO2, and the total biomass is in the area of 1 teraton.


I never talked about the mass of CO2, I kept it all in terms of carbon. There's room for argument about all the figures. Total biomass has not been measured very well, estimates vary some. It's understandable that you would use the high-end value. Carbon from fossil fuels burned so far ought to be more precise but probably is not, you say 250 gigatons and it's understandable that you would use the bottom-end value. Current reserves of fossil fuels are also estimates that are not very good. OPEC gives member nations strong reason to lie that their reserves are higher than reality, while it's unclear how much of our coal reserves can actually be extracted. And we keep discovering more. But we should count all the reserves because we fully intend to burn all of them within the next generation or so.

Keeping it in terms of carbon is misleading. I wasn't using the bottom end value btw, there's around 3 teratons of CO2 in the atmosphere, we know we've added around 750 gigatons of CO2 since the 1850's, so 250 gigatons of carbon is actually a high estimate.

I'm not saying that CO2 isn't increasing, I'm saying temperatures should have been increasing more than they have if the climate was driven by CO2, as far as other drivers fluctuating or being random, there was something which reduced the global temperatures for a couple centuries between 1400 and 1800~, that the planet began warming up after a prolonged cool period should come as no surprise.


You keep repeating the denier talking points you say you haven't seen. You bring them up one after another with no indication you have done any critical thinking about them. Just saying....

I bring this up because despite the efforts to eliminate the little ice age and medieval warm period from the record, they existed.

Any idea how to cut CO2 emissions from hydrocarbons and coal?

Stop burning hydrocarbons and coal? I'm all for that for other reasons though, I'd be more worried about the uranium and shit in coal ash than CO2.


OK, I'd support that. I don't like the little bits of ash in the coal either. (Of course it's possible we might find some cheap way to collect that stuff before it blows away, and store it somewhere. But I'll gladly align with you on finding ways to leave a lot of it unburned.) How would you suggest we arrange to burn less fossil fuel? Should we do some sort of politics?[/quote]
Cut fossil fuel subsidies, stop being scared of the nuclear bogeyman and open new plants.

Get atmospheric CO2 levels up to 1000 or so, where you say the plants like it best, and enough CO2 comes down in the rain to dissolve away the Ca, Mg, K etc and leave laterite behind. No uniformity there, different soils would give different results. That would presumably work faster with more rain, but it happens with whatever rain you get.

Well, I didn't say we need CO2 levels that high, just noting that plants do better with higher CO2 levels.

Similarly, we could tell the whole third world that development will not be allowed, and do things to reduce the first world to third-world status. We won't do that either.

That's kinda the point of carbon taxes, isn't it?

The idea of reducing our use of fossil fuels in any significant way is just politically a non-starter. The only thing that might help us with that is some other energy source that's cheap and plentiful. But that's just my opinion. I'd welcome ideas.

Well, like I said, cut fossil fuel subsidies, that would go a long way, though you first need to get rid of the oil and coal lobby.

That 38% number has been going down in the last few years, but that's not really related to my point.

I simply don't find the claims of CO2 driving the climate convincing.


I know you don't. You selectively pick up arguments that imply it doesn't happen and ignore research indicating that it does. I don't say you're a terrible person for that -- it's what individual human beings do. We tend to come up with mindsets and then selectively notice things that fit our preconceptions and reject things that don't. It's like we're part of a great big genetic algorithm experiment, and we come up with simple clear unified points of view and try them against the environment to see which of them can be viable. Different people latch onto different ideas, and we get farther testing out the different mindsets than we would if we were more open-minded.

No see, what you're describing involves building beliefs. I've tried to disprove my position, I'm not selectively picking up arguments nor ignoring any research.

If you have research showing that the powerful positive feedbacks the AGW hypothesis requires are real, by all means share.

I say that releasing thousands of gigatons of carbon from fossil fuels is very likely to have some big effects, and I can't predict very well what those effects will be. It is a great big change and it is unprecedented. We have no data what to expect because it has never been done before, in the geological history of the earth. This carbon got sequestered largely in the carboniferous period and before. We cannot know what to expect by looking at the geological record since then, because for all the geological ages since then that carbon stayed underground.
Well, we'd need to raise CO2 concentrations another 400+ ppm to get gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere.

You can use whatever evidence you like to be convinced or unconvinced by. We simply do not have much hard data to go on. You'd do better to predict horse races. With them you know nothing too unexpected will happen. A horse you never noticed won't suddenly get big enough to see and eat some of the other horses. A swarm of deerflies won't start biting the horses and blind some of them. An earthquake won't reshape the course during the race. For that matter the racetrack owner won't suddenly change the length or the direction of the course. And the race will be over soon and you will have won or lost. If you get good at predicting horse races you can make money.

A horse race is far less complex than the climate, but still virtually impossible to predict with any accuracy.

Yeah, I dislike Celsius, Kelvin ftw.

Losing billions of people though, that's part of the catastrophic fearmongering, there is no reason to actually think that is likely, and most of those claims seem to hinge on the idea of people just sitting slackjawed on the coast for 80 years until the water rises up and drowns them, if there are billions of people that dumb, we don't need to worry about them, do we?


If anything seriously interferes with our agriculture our poorest billions will starve. We have no basis to decide what's likely. It's a brand new situation.

Well, no, it's not really brand new, we survived periods warmer than today.


I've seen those figures before and to me they look vastly oversimplified. What does it even mean? It's supposed to represent some sort of global average, and it comes from a mishmash of different experimental techniques that get extrapolated to global temperature. It could be good for something but you have to be very careful how the measurements it's based on fit into your uses.

Well, global average temperature is what the IPCC projections deal with. I agree that it's not terribly informative, but hey.

I haven't looked at that in any detail. Population genetics is notorious for giving complicated results that are hard to interpret into simple answers to simple questions. A ways up in the comments I was using a possible bottleneck as something compatible with a former civilization. Hard to figure a complex high-tech civilization with only a few people. If there was one with a lot of people, and then for some reason it failed and a lot of people died, that could give you a population bottleneck. If there definitely wasn't one then there probably wasn't an ancient advanced civilization. I don't see that the bottleneck is established or disproven, but neither of us has much riding on it.

Yeah, it's an interesting idea, but eh.
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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby hawkinsssable » Mon Jul 16, 2012 1:55 am UTC

J Thomas wrote:Now I want to ask you to speculate. Why did this happen? Is it "political", with people who want to spread lies and prevent truth? Is it just that there are people who think they know what's going on but they don't, while you know the truth? If you did find the energy to fix it, would they come back and claim you're wrong?

I have found that Wikipedia is often a good way to find out the common wisdom on a topic. It can quickly tell you what some people believe that isn't strongly disputed.


See, some of my edits have been reverted, which is a big part of why I can't be bothered working on the wiki page. Say, the part where I deleted the false stuff on Illich and respectfully outlined how, in fact, it's a distortion of the view presented in the cited paper that forms only a tiny part of a cumulative argument that can't be attributed to Illich anyway.

Why? At a guess, because it's so much less effort to write rubbish that's either based on unreliable references (despite better ones being readily available from places like the WHO website or some rudimentary google scholaring), or write something not actually in (or even contradicted by) the reference, than it is to fix up other people's mistakes and demonstrate exactly how or why they're wrong. Combine this with how popular the topic is among free market think tanks, Ayn Rand websites, and undergrad applied philosophy units, and the number of people editing the wiki page who don't really know what they're talking about will probably overwhelm those who do.

There is a (small) political element in the issue, especially surrounding the Iranian system, but that mostly comes through in journal articles that aren't actually referenced on the wiki page.

Personally, I think Wikipedia is generally only decent for specialised issues or those that attract so many editors rubbish claims can be filtered out at the same rate they're made.

J Thomas wrote:This sort of thing is ultimately unconvincing. You have given somebody's conclusions for what's likely to happen. You don't say why we should believe those conclusions, or even who said it. People who already believe that's plausible will tend to accept it, while people who already deny it will go right ahead and deny some more.


Max said that:
a) he puts stock in the IPCC, and
b) global warming will only kill people stupid enough to let themselves be drowned by slowly increasing sea levels

So I figured that an image from the IPCC, detailing the many ways in which climate change is widely thought by people working in relevant fields to be able to kill people, should be at least a little persuasive.
Reason has always existed, but not always in a reasonable form.

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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby Max™ » Mon Jul 16, 2012 2:02 am UTC

hawkinsssable wrote:
J Thomas wrote:This sort of thing is ultimately unconvincing. You have given somebody's conclusions for what's likely to happen. You don't say why we should believe those conclusions, or even who said it. People who already believe that's plausible will tend to accept it, while people who already deny it will go right ahead and deny some more.


Max said that:
a) he puts stock in the IPCC, and
b) global warming will only kill people stupid enough to let themselves be drowned by slowly increasing sea levels

So I figured that an image from the IPCC, detailing the many ways in which climate change is widely thought by people working in relevant fields to be able to kill people, should be at least a little persuasive.

Yeah, I've seen that graphic, and I said I pull my arguments and information from the IPCC or similar sources, avoiding skeptic/denier sites deliberately to avoid having an argument dismissed due to the source alone.


chenille wrote:
Max™ wrote:I'm not saying that CO2 isn't increasing, I'm saying temperatures should have been increasing more than they have if the climate was driven by CO2...

What? The only way to estimate how much things should have been increasing is modeling what would happen. The models we have do not show temperature increases inconsistent with what has been happening, and you criticized them for making the assumption that CO2 is driving things. So how you can say that same assumption would give even larger results is beyond me.

Incidentally: it's only reasonable not to treat water vapor the same way as CO2, since it adjusts on a timescale orders of magnitude smaller. Treating things like that as feedback when you consider the effect of the slower-changing variable is how modeling works.

According to the model projections from which the original "CO2 is driving the climate" claims originated, Hansen, et al (1988), we have been following the high emissions scenario but are at or below the unchanged/level concentrations scenario temperatures.

The water vapor assumptions are a whole other can of worms, like I said, look at what "constant relative humidity with rising temperatures" means.

Also, it is well-documented increasing CO2 alone does not help plants much; rather this type of change in conditions gives some plants an advantage over others and so changes the composition of the flora. People have been studying what way, but in most cases changes like that mean a few generalists do really well and others get crowded out. Suffice to say you can't just assume it would help crops more than weeds.

>.> You do know we have greenhouses which make use of higher CO2 concentrations, right?

Edit: Really, though, the oceans are a much larger concern. There are still a lot of people who rely on the ocean for food, and there are lots of things there that are sensitive to pH levels, that do demonstrably poor when carbon dioxide increases. And those include most algae and corals that produce calcium carbonate, which is a key way carbon gets taken out of the CO2-biomass cycle.

Now THIS is an issue from rising CO2 which I actually agree is worrisome, changing the pH of the oceans is a provable effect with testable results.
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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Jul 16, 2012 2:06 am UTC

Max™ wrote:A horse race is far less complex than the climate, but still virtually impossible to predict with any accuracy.
Nonsense. If the odds given for bets on horse races weren't fairly close to accurate, bookies would go bankrupt. While it might not be possible to predict precisely which one of all the horses is definitely going to win, odds are assigned to horse races with quite a bit of accuracy.

I would liken this to predicting temperature increases with hefty error bars, which is what climate scientists actually do in the real world. They're not putting all their money on some very precise amount of increase, but that doesn't mean they can't be reasonably confident that it will fall somewhere within the predicted range.

Well, no, it's not really brand new, we survived periods warmer than today.
Name a single such period with an agricultural system anywhere near as globalized as it is today. We're living in a time when a drought in one country can lead to large food price fluctuations ten thousand miles away. That has never happened before in history, nor has the planet ever had so many people on it as it does now. So I'm not quite sure what relevance prior warm periods have to the discussion of modern climate change.

As I've said in another thread, it doesn't actually take especially strange weather to completely ruin a region's production of particular seasonal crops. A couple warm weeks in late winter followed by a couple more early spring freezes and there goes most of your fruit.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby Max™ » Mon Jul 16, 2012 2:25 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Max™ wrote:A horse race is far less complex than the climate, but still virtually impossible to predict with any accuracy.
Nonsense. If the odds given for bets on horse races weren't fairly close to accurate, bookies would go bankrupt. While it might not be possible to predict precisely which one of all the horses is definitely going to win, odds are assigned to horse races with quite a bit of accuracy.

I would liken this to predicting temperature increases with hefty error bars, which is what climate scientists actually do in the real world. They're not putting all their money on some very precise amount of increase, but that doesn't mean they can't be reasonably confident that it will fall somewhere within the predicted range.

They can be confident that if their assumptions are correct, and if the interactions within the system are realistic, they can expect things to land within the predicted range.

You can assign odds for horse races, but you can't make a computer simulation which models all of the variables and accurately predicts each outcome. A horse race is far less complex than the climate.

Well, no, it's not really brand new, we survived periods warmer than today.
Name a single such period with an agricultural system anywhere near as globalized as it is today. We're living in a time when a drought in one country can lead to large food price fluctuations ten thousand miles away. That has never happened before in history, nor has the planet ever had so many people on it as it does now. So I'm not quite sure what relevance prior warm periods have to the discussion of modern climate change.

As I've said in another thread, it doesn't actually take especially strange weather to completely ruin a region's production of particular seasonal crops. A couple warm weeks in late winter followed by a couple more early spring freezes and there goes most of your fruit.

There are numerous issues with our food production that are unrelated to climate. The diet of the average american is far more likely to lead to starvation in another country than a bad spell of weather. Beef is even worse due to the absurdly huge amount of resources wasted producing every pound of beef.

Though I do again need to point out, increasing droughts might sound like a reasonable outcome from a warmer planet, but if your intuition tells you droughts and arid environments are due to heat, your intuition is wrong.
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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby JustDoug » Mon Jul 16, 2012 2:33 am UTC

BAReFOOt wrote:I had no idea that Randall had no idea what a proper argument… or a fallacy… is…

[b]PROTIP:

Of course, going down that slide is the ultimate “I’m giving up. But I’m a sore loser, so I won’t admit you won.” move, showing very clearly that you are wrong, and don’t even know why you thought you were correct in the first place. Like flipping the chess board.
Hint: If you find yourself doing that, even though your opponent is provably dumber than canned bread on a tricycle with four-wheel-drive, maybe you are playing your opponent’s game, keep throwing things at him, and he just has to reject them, and change the rules at will. The trick here is, to let him play your game. Let him throw stuff, that you can just reject.
But to avoid being no better than him, you and your game adhere to the rules of logic and reason (bot not ignoring emotions)… assuming that other than the figures in the comic, you know them.
Then just wait for your opponent to “flip the chess board”. Done. ^^


Better ProTip: When your opponent in an argument is the one that's treating a list of Logical Fallacies as a style guide, ignoring any and all contrary evidence by dismissing it with a hand wave and a stated, "That's what they want you to think" and going on to treat unlikely, if not outright impossible, conjecture and opinion as immutable natural law and the only possible interpretation of reality, it's time to hit the slide.

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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Jul 16, 2012 2:55 am UTC

Max™ wrote:if your intuition tells you droughts and arid environments are due to heat, your intuition is wrong.
It's not my intuition.

Increased heat causes increased atmospheric water vapor, which in turn can both decrease the frequency of rain and increase its intensity. Thus we can get increases in both droughts and flooding.

But in any case I'm not sure why you're hung up on droughts specifically. Increased rainfall can also have disastrous effects on certain crops, as can a simple shift in when during the year most of that rainfall occurs.

A region doesn't have to become a desert to become significantly more hostile toward food crops.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby Radical_Initiator » Mon Jul 16, 2012 3:05 am UTC

JustDoug wrote:
BAReFOOt wrote:I had no idea that Randall had no idea what a proper argument… or a fallacy… is…

[b]PROTIP:

Of course, going down that slide is the ultimate “I’m giving up. But I’m a sore loser, so I won’t admit you won.” move, showing very clearly that you are wrong, and don’t even know why you thought you were correct in the first place. Like flipping the chess board.
Hint: If you find yourself doing that, even though your opponent is provably dumber than canned bread on a tricycle with four-wheel-drive, maybe you are playing your opponent’s game, keep throwing things at him, and he just has to reject them, and change the rules at will. The trick here is, to let him play your game. Let him throw stuff, that you can just reject.
But to avoid being no better than him, you and your game adhere to the rules of logic and reason (bot not ignoring emotions)… assuming that other than the figures in the comic, you know them.
Then just wait for your opponent to “flip the chess board”. Done. ^^


Better ProTip: When your opponent in an argument is the one that's treating a list of Logical Fallacies as a style guide, ignoring any and all contrary evidence by dismissing it with a hand wave and a stated, "That's what they want you to think" and going on to treat unlikely, if not outright impossible, conjecture and opinion as immutable natural law and the only possible interpretation of reality, it's time to hit the slide.


Possible extension: just like in poker, where you may find better strategy in folding more hands than you play, you may find it a better life strategy to hit the slide more often than you stay to argue.
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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby Max™ » Mon Jul 16, 2012 3:18 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Max™ wrote:if your intuition tells you droughts and arid environments are due to heat, your intuition is wrong.
It's not my intuition.

Increased heat causes increased atmospheric water vapor, which in turn can both decrease the frequency of rain and increase its intensity. Thus we can get increases in both droughts and flooding.

Uh... where do you get that it might decrease the frequency of rain?

Total evaporation and total precipitation are very strongly tied together, you can't increase evaporation without increasing precipitation, basic physics.

But in any case I'm not sure why you're hung up on droughts specifically. Increased rainfall can also have disastrous effects on certain crops, as can a simple shift in when during the year most of that rainfall occurs.

Droughts are cited as being something to worry about which will actually not happen, increased rainfall will happen, and yes we will have to adapt to that if it warms more, but droughts are not a result of a warmer planet.

A region doesn't have to become a desert to become significantly more hostile toward food crops.

True, and a region which is a desert, like the Sahara, can become significantly more viable for farming if the planet wasn't too cold.

The Sahara is a desert because of how COLD the planet is, and the large amount of water locked up in ice caps plus the reduced evaporation. If it warms enough, the Sahara will turn green again. All but a few of the issues cited as potential threats to agriculture resulting from global warming are more accurately caused by reduced precipitation, which is associated with colder climates, not warmer ones.
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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby pablo_oldaq » Mon Jul 16, 2012 4:48 am UTC

If human-induced climate change were a conspiracy, then it would be the biggest conspiracy you could imagine. It would involve 98% of actively-publishing climatologists; the majority of the world's governments; and even the world's biggest oil and mining companies. Why are they conspiring to deceive us exactly...?

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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby pablo_oldaq » Mon Jul 16, 2012 5:08 am UTC

I think conspiracy theorists latch on to the existence of "Big Brother" for the same reason that religious people believe in God. It's comforting to know that there is someone or something out there that sees and controls everything. That there is some kind of overall plan. We want that to be the case, so we create ways to believe it.

We don't even necessarily want to believe this force is benevolent. If it's harsh and punishing, then that helps to explain all the 'bad' in the world. And it's this aspect that drives belief in an evil "BIg Brother".

I also think we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater, by dismissing everything that looks like a conspiracy theory. All geniuses, revolutionary thinkers and heroic political change-agents were once considered mavericks. So we owe maverick ideas a chance to be heard and investigated.
(But what conspiracy theorists forget is this: "All geniuses were once mavericks, but not all mavericks are geniuses")

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Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

Postby willpellmn » Mon Jul 16, 2012 5:17 am UTC

It's true that the government is in no condition to maintain a conspiracy, but that by no means proves that a conspiracy doesn't exist. It's far more likely to be run by individuals NOBODY has ever heard of - not the Bilderberg group or the like, but silent partners of successful but unglamorous corporation CEOS, who have no public relationship with them but secretly control everything they do with extremely clandestine forms of blackmail and extortion and such.


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