Thursday, August 20, 2015

Bad Science, Fraud, and Peer Review - Updated

Updated below.

Article: A Scientific Look at Bad Science


  • "By one estimate, from 2001 to 2010, the annual rate of retractions by academic journals increased by a factor of 11..."
  • "A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reviewed 2,047 retractions of biomedical and life-sciences articles and found that just 21.3 percent stemmed from straightforward error while 67.4 percent resulted from misconduct, including fraud or suspected fraud (43.4 percent) and plagiarism (9.8 percent)." 
  • In 2012, a researcher then at the biotechnology company Amgen wrote in Nature that when his team tried to reproduce 53 landmark cancer studies, they could replicate just six." [Ed: that is, about 11%]
  • "And according to a news report in Nature, a project aiming to reproduce the findings of 100 psychology papers has managed to replicate results for only 39 of them (the project’s findings are still under peer review)." 
A retracted paper means that it is has been published, after being peer reviewed. And 43% of the papers above were peer reviewed and later found to involve fraud.

What is peer review?
Peer review means that a board of scholarly reviewers in the subject area of the journal review materials they publish for quality of research and adherence to editorial standards of the journal before articles are accepted for publication. If you use materials from peer-reviewed publications they have been vetted by scholars in [the] field for quality and importance.  
Peer review is often waved as a magic wand conferring legitimacy on a controversial paper. While peer review may find some misconduct, it is mostly used for quality control.

The article points out that the need for a paper to be "important" is actually driving the misconduct. The research reported must have "positive" results, even though a lot research give "negative" results. However, negative results are important, but they are not "sexy" enough for the popular press, the scientific press and for the peer reviewers.

At its worst, peer review has been used to weed out results that are controversial and go against the "consensus" position in a field.

One reviewer of papers in neurobiology was notorious for demanding that the paper reference something about prions, and that the paper had to agree with the reviewer's position regarding prions.

Press Release: Retraction of articles from Springer journals
Springer confirms that 64 articles are being retracted from 10 Springer subscription journals, after editorial checks spotted fake email addresses, and subsequent internal investigations uncovered fabricated peer review reports.
And how many have not been found?

The EPA Contaminates Colorado River: Updated and Bumped, again

It is now 3 million gallons. See below.

Updated again.

Article: Animas River fouled by 1 million gallons of contaminated mine water
A spill that sent 1 million gallons of wastewater from an abandoned mine into the Animas River, turning the river orange, set off warnings Thursday that contaminants threaten water quality for those downstream. 
The Environmental Protection Agency confirmed it triggered the spill while using heavy machinery to investigate pollutants at the Gold King Mine, north of Silverton. 
Downstream in Durango, hundreds of people gathered along the Animas River to watch as the blue waters turned a thick, radiant orange and yellow just after 8 p.m., nearly 34 hours after the spill started.
The orange color is apparently due to iron oxide.

Article: EPA confirms Colorado mine spill contains heavy metals
The mustard-colored muck that spilled from a Colorado mine and surged into a river contains heavy metals including lead and arsenic, federal environmental officials confirmed Friday, but they didn't immediately discuss amounts in the water or health risks. 
The spill also contained cadmium, aluminum, copper and calcium, the Environmental Protection Agency said. During a public meeting in Durango, EPA Regional Director Shaun McGrath did not mention whether the elements posed a health hazard but said local authorities were right to close the Animas River to human activities.
The Animas River is part of the Colorado River system and the spill "pulse" will contaminate drinking and irrigation water all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

Fortunately for the EPA, the refusual to hold bureaucrats responsible for their failures, even catastrophic ones, usually means no one will be punished.
EPA and contractor crews accidentally unleashed 1 million gallons of wastewater from the shuttered Gold King Mine on Wednesday, and it flowed into the river through a tributary.
Well, maybe the contractor will be fired.

Update: EPA Says It Released 3 Million Gallons Of Contaminated Water Into River

NPR does a straight news article, blaming the EPA, and talking about the toxic waste.

Hoot: Abandoned Mine Leaks Millions Of Gallons Of Bright Orange, Toxic Water Into A Colorado River

On the other hand, left wing site,, produces an amazing piece of propaganda full of blame-shifting in the linked article. 

The waste "leaks," the EPA is trying to contain the waste (the opposite of what it did), "unexpectedly," the article blames the locals for not being to clean up the mess, the mine operators "just walked away," and so on.

Arrogant: EPA: No health risks to wildlife after Colorado mine spill, but impact to humans still unknown

And the tobacco companies claimed for years that cigarettes did not cause harm.

And still more: 'They're not going to get away with this': Anger mounts at EPA over mining spill

"They are not going to get away with this," said Russell Begaye, president of the Navajo Nation, which intends to sue the EPA. 
Begaye said Saturday at a community meeting in Shiprock, N.M., that he intends to take legal action against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the massive release of mine waste into the Animas River near Silverton, Colorado. 
"The EPA was right in the middle of the disaster and we intend to make sure the Navajo Nation recovers every dollar it spends cleaning up this mess and every dollar it loses as a result of injuries to our precious Navajo natural resources," Begaye said. "I have instructed Navajo Nation Department of Justice to take immediate action against the EPA to the fullest extent of the law to protect Navajo families and resources."

The EPA waited 24 hours before warning towns downstreams that it had dumped the waste.

The EPA had not filed any sort of environmental impact statement, had not notified the state or local governments what they were up to, and never did any work to study the site and determine the best way to proceed. A private industry that did this would be under federal criminal investigation and there would be jail terms and fines.
The craven acquiescence of environmental organizations, which are completely in bed with the EPA, is disgusting. 

Article: Transgender Regret Is Real Even If The Media Tell You Otherwise

The article is written by a person, Walt Heyer, who underwent sex-reassignment surgery, male-to-female, and now regrets it.
Fair-minded individuals would see the cumulative effect of the findings—20 percent have regret, 41 percent attempt suicide, 90 percent have a “significant form of psychopathology”, 61 percent also have other psychiatric disorders and illnesses, 50 percent had depressive symptoms, 40 percent showed symptoms of anxiety—and be troubled by the push to surgery and transition as the first course of treatment for transgenders. 
Apparently transgender lives do not matter: not to the LGBT and not to the media. 
I have given this a "bad science" tag because 1) the one reporter cherry-picked one study to prove her point and 2) the science shows that "transgender regret is real."

Article: Johns Hopkins Psychiatrist: Transgender is ‘Mental Disorder;' Sex Change ‘Biologically Impossible’

This is a republishing of the original report, plus some new reporting.
Dr. Paul R. McHugh, the former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital and its current Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry, said that transgenderism is a “mental disorder” that merits treatment, that sex change is “biologically impossible,” and that people who promote sexual reassignment surgery are collaborating with and promoting a mental disorder.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Article: Genetically engineered yeast produces opioids
It typically takes a year to produce hydrocodone from plants, but scientistst have now genetically modified yeast to make it in just a few days. The technique could improve access to medicines in impoverished nations, and later be used to develop treatments for other diseases. 
After a decade's work a team led by Stanford bioengineer Christina Smolke succeeded in finding more than 20 genes from five different organisms and engineering them into the genome of baker's yeast. In so doing they created two different microbial assembly lines, each of which took less than five days to convert sugar into one of two medicinal compounds: either thebaine, which can be refined into painkillers, or hydrocodone which is a prescription painkiller.
My first thought is, "Great! No more dependence on poppy growers in war-torn parts of the world. Poppy plants can be eradicated without a problem."

My second thought is, "Oh, no! Anyone who can make beer can now make opioids."

Article: Humans responsible for demise of gigantic ancient mammals
Scientists claim their research settles a prolonged debate over whether mankind or climate change was the dominant cause of the demise of massive creatures in the time of the sabretooth tiger, the woolly mammoth, the woolly rhino and the giant armadillo. 
Humans arrive, and megafauna went extinct. The authors had no way of determining if the extinctions due to hunting, competition, or habitat change.
Examining different regions of the world across these scenarios, they found coincidences of human spread and species extinction which illustrate that man was the main agent causing the demise, with climate change exacerbating the number of extinctions. However, in certain regions of the world -- mainly in Asia -- they found patterns which patterns were broadly unaccounted for by either of these two drivers, and called for renewed focus on these neglected areas for further study.

Article: Grammar: Eventually the brain opts for the easy route
Languages are constantly evolving -- and grammar is no exception. The way in which the brain processes language triggers adjustments. If the brain has to exert itself too much to cope with difficult case constructions, it usually simplifies them over time, as linguists demonstrate in a study on languages all over the world. 
The grammar of languages keeps reorganizing itself. A prime example of this is the omission of case endings in the transition from Latin to Italian. 
Then how did language get complicated in the first place?

Climate change and corruption

Article: Is Climate Change Now Its Own Industry?
The $1.5 trillion global “climate change industry” grew at between 17 and 24 percent annually from 2005-2008, slowing to between 4 and 6 percent following the recession with the exception of 2011’s inexplicable 15 percent growth, according to Climate Change Business Journal.
Global warming activists make hysterical accusations about one "skeptic" who earned $2500/day for consulting, 20 years ago, and is still a skeptic today. How many scientists, pundits, politicians and bureaucrats can $1.5 trillion buy?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Article: Peak Oilers Shut Up Forever Please

"Peak oil" was a Malthusian fad, just like the Club of Rome predictions about the stuff we would run out of by 2000, and Paul Ehrlich's "Population Bomb." [Other failed projections.]

Some people just off on doom, especially doom due to their (or their parents') evil ways.
Princeton University geologist Ken Deffeyes predicted that global oil production would peak on Thanksgiving Day, 2005. In 2005, daily global oil production averaged 85 million barrels per day. Daily petroleum liquids production in July was 96 million barrels per day.
Linked article: OPEC just kicked oil into the $30s

Diet and Observational Studies

Woody Allen, Sleeper:
Dr. Melik: This morning for breakfast he requested something called "wheat germ, organic honey and tiger's milk."
Dr. Aragon: [chuckling] Oh, yes. Those are the charmed substances that some years ago were thought to contain life-preserving properties.
Dr. Melik: You mean there was no deep fat? No steak or cream pies or... hot fudge?
Dr. Aragon: Those were thought to be unhealthy... precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true.
Dr. Melik: Incredible.
Two more pieces of traditional dietary advice take a beating.

Article #1: Trans fats, but not saturated fats like butter, linked to greater risk of early death and heart disease
Contrary to prevailing dietary advice, a recent evidence review found no excess cardiovascular risk associated with intake of saturated fat. In contrast, research suggests that industrial trans fats may increase the risk of coronary heart disease. 
Saturated fats come mainly from animal products, such as butter, cows' milk, meat, salmon and egg yolks, and some plant products such as chocolate and palm oils. Trans unsaturated fats (trans fats) are mainly produced industrially from plant oils (a process known as hydrogenation) for use in margarine, snack foods and packaged baked goods. 
To help clarify these controversies, de Souza and colleagues analysed the results of 50 observational studies [ed., emphasis added; see below] assessing the association between saturated and/or trans fats and health outcomes in adults.
Or: Butter Good, Margarine Bad

Article #2: The science of skipping breakfast: How government nutritionists may have gotten it wrong
Researchers at a New York City hospital several years ago conducted a test of the widely accepted notion that skipping breakfast can make you fat. 
For some nutritionists, this idea is an article of faith. Indeed, it is enshrined in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the federal government’s advice book, which recommends having breakfast every day because “not eating breakfast has been associated with excess body weight.” 
As with many nutrition tips, though, including some offered by the Dietary Guidelines, the tidbit about skipping breakfast is based on scientific speculation, not certainty, and indeed, it may be completely unfounded, as the experiment in New York indicated.
The scientific speculation was based on some concept of how metabolism might work.

This is not some moldy, old-wive's tale piece of advice that has been hanging around for decades (like needing to drink 8 glasses of water a day). This was only added to the guidelines in 2010.

The advice was based on "observational studies." That is, researchers simply observe people behaving naturally. The self-selected "fasters" where more likely to obese than those who ate breakfast.

However, if "observational studies" are replaced by actual experiments, with randomized controlled trials and all the rest of the modern scientific method, the experiments disprove the conclusions of the observational studies 90% of the time.

[Note: the study in the first article was an "observational study".]

This may be due to "confounders."
One of the primary troubles in observational studies is what scientists refer to as “confounders” — basically, unaccounted factors that can lead researchers to make mistaken assumptions about causes. For example, suppose breakfast skippers have a personality trait that makes them more likely to gain weight than breakfast eaters. If that’s the case, it may look as if skipping breakfast causes weight gain even though the cause is the personality trait.
And moralizing the dietary guidelines creates problems.
Allison attributes the widespread adoption of the breakfast hypothesis at least in part on researchers who read too much into observational studies, and wrongly ignore the stronger evidence from the randomized controlled trials. In addition, he speculates that there “maybe some sense that eating breakfast is ‘moral’ and ‘upstanding,’” and that makes people more willing to believe it’s good for you.
For the record, most of the hypothesis of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming is based on observational studies that have been moralized.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Two articles on global warming computer models. The first is a lucid explaination of how the climate models work, and why it is impossible to verify the models.

The second one is on how the modelers themselves have it impossible for the models to be validated (a usually necessary step in determining how well models actually work).

Article #1: The Trouble with Global Climate Models

Article #2: Validation Of A Climate Model Is Mandatory: The Invaluable work of Dr. Vincent Gray

Fudging and Nudging
The climate models cannot be validated because they should be set up so that they accurately predict the past ("hindcasting"). However, the models cannot do so until the modelers have added a number of fudge factors that nudge the curves into the right shape BEFORE they run it. So, of course, it looks like the models are doing what they are supposed to.

To put this into computer programmer terms.

Imagine a computer programmer programming a computer that runs a robot that makes light bulbs or wraps candies (I know people who do that).

Evaluation of the model is like the programmer giving the program to a systems analyst to check the program. The analyst may run parts of it in a simulation, but does not actually use it run the robots.

Validation of the models is like the programmer running the program and seeing if the robots do what they are supposed to do. If the robots correctly wrap candies, the program is valid.

The programmers of the climate models have made it impossible to actually validate their models by throwing in enough "fudge factors" to make the model work on the past ("hindcasting") that the models cannot predict future ("forecasting"). The fudge factors push the models to predict things that are not happening.

Headlines of Deadlines to Doom

Article: Six climate headlines from 2009 that tell us something important about the run-up to the 2015 Paris climate conference

In the run-up to the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference, the usual suspects made the usual hysterical headlines of doom. Several of those deadlines have now expired, with nothing catastrophic happening.

Revisit the hysteria of yesteryear in order to guard against the hysteria sure to be generated in the run-up to this year's global climate conference.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Article: Corrected sunspot history suggests climate change not due to natural solar trends
The Sunspot Number is a crucial tool used to study the solar dynamo, space weather and climate change. It has now been recalibrated and shows a consistent history of solar activity over the past few centuries. The new record has no significant long-term upward trend in solar activity since 1700, as was previously indicated. This suggests that rising global temperatures since the industrial revolution cannot be attributed to increased solar activity. 
The Maunder Minimum, between 1645 and 1715, when sunspots were scarce and the winters harsh, strongly suggests a link between solar activity and climate change. Until now there was a general consensus that solar activity has been trending upwards over the past 300 years (since the end of the Maunder Minimum), peaking in the late 20th century -- called the Modern Grand Maximum by some. 
I am skeptical about this. First, this is first time I have heard about the "prevously indicated" increase in solar activity. However, I will take that as a given, even though I have been reading everything I can about sunspot activity for over 20 years.

Second, this is hard on the heels of researchers suddenly, and miraculously, finding all the heat that has been missing for last 20 years in the oceans, despite the fact no one measuring the oceans had noticed it before. The Hiatus has been magically wiped out.

Now, long-standing sunspot activity data has been suddenly, and miraculously, been recalibrated to show steady levels of sunpot activity since the end of the Maunder Minimum.

I would like to see confirmation of this by independent researchers.

Since the industrial revolution followed both the uptick in sunspots following the Maunder Minimum and the end of the Little Ice Age, it still is not clear if the warming earth has experienced since then is anthropogenic or due to increased solar activity.

Now, I believe that there has been a modest uptick in global temperature over the last 150 years, but whether that was totally anthropogenic or only partly is unknown.

Third, a long held belief among researchers that the Great Modern Maximum exists has just been overturned. Global warming consensus, anyone? 

This is how science advances. By asking questions, being skeptical about received knowledge, and performing one's own research. 
Article: The timebomb under Yellowstone: Experts warn of 90,000 immediate deaths and a 'nuclear winter' across the US if supervolcano erupts

A nice long article with lots of graphics, bullet points, and information boxes.

Low chance of blowing any given year, but likely to happen sooner or later.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Article: Massive toxic algae bloom reaches from California to Alaska
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Oceanographers are studying whether climate change is contributing to an unprecedented bloom of toxic algae that spans the Pacific Coast of the United States and Canada, raising health concerns and leading to multimillion-dollar income losses from closed fisheries. 
The runaway bloom of pseudo-nitzschia algae is believed to have been spawned in part by unusually warm ocean water along the West Coast that scientists have dubbed "the blob."
"The blob" is a natural and recurrent phenomenon, possibly linked to El Nino. And large blooms are common where water is warmer than normal or high in plant nutrients (usually from human sources).

However, half of the article tries to tie it into catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, i.e., climate change.

The article is full of tentative words/phrases: whether climate change is contributing; have yet to determine; global climate change; may be a harbinger; things to come; climate change; a window to the future; could see happen; climate change scenarios.

Two reporters and two editors are responsible for this mash-up.

Article: Airplane Poop Could Help Track Global Disease Outbreaks
IN THE SUMMER of 2013, researchers at the Technical University of Denmark headed to the Copenhagen airport for a special delivery: poop. The crew who clean out airplane toilets had siphoned it from flights arriving from around the world just for them. 
Back in the lab, the researchers turned the samples into DNA soup and fed them through a sequencing machine. Out the other end came antimicrobial resistance genes and potential pathogens—all traceable to the individual plane’s country of origin.
From the airplane waste, the Danish researchers could identify regional patterns. Genes for antimicrobial resistance, for example, were more abundant in samples from South Asia than North America. They found differences in specific bacteria, too: Salmonella enterica, which can cause diarrhea, was more common in South Asian samples while Clostridium difficile, the bacteria behind a difficult-to-treat hospital-acquired infection that often follows a course of antibiotics, was most common in North American samples. 
Article: Pocket-calculator climate model outperforms billion-dollar brains

Money quote:
Unlike the complex climate models, each of which uses as much power as a small town when it is running, the new, “green” model – which its inventor runs on a solar-powered scientific calculator – had not been repeatedly regressed (i.e., tweaked after the event) till it fitted past data. 
Lord Monckton, the inventor of the new model and lead author of the paper, said: “Every time a model is tweaked to force it to fit past data, one departs from true physics. The complex models are fudged till they fit the past – but then they cannot predict the future. They exaggerate.
The new model uses straightforward physics to model the changing climate. It both accurately predicts the past, and the future, unlike the billion dollar models.

There is a list of "refutations" from the "profiteers of doom” that the authors of the original article point out are wrong.

Additional links:
The Pause draws blood – A new record Pause length: no warming for 18 years 7 months

Satellite data shows continued hiatus.

Indian Environment Minister dismisses Himalaya Global Warming concerns

Title says it all.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Article: MSNBC. Obama’s climate policy is ‘practically worthless,’ says expert 

Hat tip: Obama’s climate policy is ‘practically worthless,’ says Dr. James Hansen
“The actions are practically worthless,” said James Hansen, a climate researcher who headed NASA’s Goddard’s Institute for Space Studies for over 30 years and first warned congress of global warming in 1988. “They do nothing to attack the fundamental problem.”
Considering that Mr. Obama's policy proposal is to end reliance on coal to fuel electrical power generation in the US by government fiat, one wonders exactly what a "worthy" policy actually involves.
Hansen suggested a gradually rising fee for fossil fuel extraction, collected at the port of entry or, in domestic cases, the place where the material actually comes out of the ground. “As long as fossil fuels are allowed to (appear to be) the cheapest energy, someone will burn them,” he wrote in an email to msnbc. “It is not so much a matter of how far you go. 
"Gradually rising" to how much? Until all fossil fuels are too expensive to use? What will substitute for them? ("Renewables" are too unreliable.)
Article: Saudi Arabia may go broke before the US oil industry buckles

This is a reminder that the US may not be as nimble as a dictatorship, but a free market economy always beats a centrally planned one in the long run.

An extended look at the US shale oil (and natural gas) revolution, its continued and rapid technological advances, and the economic and political ramifications to the Saudi Arabians.

While it may be too optimistic about the US oil industry and too pessimistic about the Saudis, a lot of it confirms what I am reading elsewhere, in one neat package.

And, at least partly, the bad news for the Saudis is good news for the US; they will have less money to spend on fundamentalist Islam.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Video Clip: Moon’s Farside Crosses Earth’s Face | DSCOVR Satellite Time-Lapse Video

Repeated loop of moon crossing earth's face.

Warning: autostart.

Article: Senate Passes Commercial Space Bill

Good news.

NASA does a lot of things well. However, it has become a sclerotic mess: over-regulated, pork-barrelled, and with a bad case of mission creep. Its core "space" mission is doing well with awesome work like the missions to the various planets and the various space telescopes.

Further, its reputation has been damaged by association with some of the more hysterical global warming activists who have hijacked the climate data.

It has also lost the sense of adventure and derring do it had during the 1960's

Article: Figueres: First time the world economy is transformed intentionally

The Top UN Climate Change Official is optimistic that a new international treaty will be adopted at Paris Climate Change conference at the end of the year. However the official, Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of UNFCCC,  warns that the fight against climate change is a process and that the necessary transformation of the world economy will not be decided at one conference or in one agreement. 
"This is  probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model, for the first time [ed; since the fall of the USSR, and actually Venezuela is failing at it now] in human history", Ms Figueres stated at a press conference in Brussels. 
"This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the industrial revolution. That will not happen overnight and it will not happen at a single conference on climate change, be it COP 15, 21, 40 - you choose the number. It just does not occur like that. It is a process, because of the depth of the transformation."
This is not from a right wing site. This is not from some obscure periodical. It is front-paged and in-the-title at a UN website.

This Marxist/socialist/progressivist claptrap has failed, repeatedly, over the last 230 years (I am using the French Revolution as a starting point).

Hat tip: Global Warming Alarmists Run Into Brick Wall Of Facts

Article: Women are at greater risk from global warming than men, claims MEP in 'bonkers' EU row
The report – Women and Climate Change – calls for a 40 per cent female quota on all EU delegations in climate negotiations and on the committees that allocate climate aid from member states. Funding is set to reach £62billion a year by 2020. 
I have no idea was "climate aid" means, but £62 billion (about $100 billion dollars) is a lot of money.

Article: Secret sanctions revealed against university hosting $1.25 billion biolab
Kansas State University — where a controversial $1.25 billion biosecurity lab facility is under construction — secretly faced federal sanctions last year after repeatedly violating safety regulations during its research with bioterror pathogens, records obtained by USA TODAY show. 
Kansas State’s “history of non-compliance” during four consecutive inspections over two years shows a “systemic problem” and has “raised serious concerns” about the university’s ability to put safeguards in place to ensure safety and containment of dangerous pathogens, according to a March 2014 letter to the university from federal lab regulators.
No further comment.
Article: The U.S. government is poised to withdraw longstanding warnings about cholesterol

The original research (1915) on the issue of dietary cholesterol was done in rabbits and rats. Rabbits showed an adverse effect with a high cholesterol diet; the rats did not. The obvious lesson of being cautious because we could not test, and therefore could not know, how humans reacted to a purely high cholesterol diet was missed.

Additional research, and the knowledge that atherosclerosis was caused by cholesterol deposits, implied that high dietary cholesterol was a problem. More recent research implies that diets high in saturated fats and carbohydrates are more of a problem.

The paradigm shifts.
The nation’s top nutrition advisory panel has decided to drop its caution about eating cholesterol-laden food, a move that could undo almost 40 years of government warnings about its consumption. 
The group’s finding that cholesterol in the diet need no longer be considered a “nutrient of concern” stands in contrast to the committee’s findings five years ago, the last time it convened. During those proceedings, as in previous years, the panel deemed the issue of excess cholesterol in the American diet a public health concern. 
The finding follows an evolution of thinking among many nutritionists who now believe that, for healthy adults, eating foods high in cholesterol may not significantly affect the level of cholesterol in the blood or increase the risk of heart disease. 
The greater danger in this regard, these experts believe, lies not in products such as eggs, shrimp or lobster, which are high in cholesterol, but in too many servings of foods heavy with saturated fats, such as fatty meats, whole milk, and butter. 
The new view on cholesterol in food does not reverse warnings about high levels of “bad” cholesterol in the blood, which have been linked to heart disease.  

 Rudel and his colleagues have been able to breed squirrel monkeys that are more vulnerable to the cholesterol diet. That and other evidence leads to their belief that for some people -- as for the squirrel monkeys -- genetics are to blame. 
“These reversals in the field do make us wonder and scratch our heads,” said David Allison, a public health professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “But in science, change is normal and expected.” 
When our view of the cosmos shifted from Ptolemy to Copernicus to Newton and Einstein, Allison said, “the reaction was not to say, ‘Oh my gosh, something is wrong with physics!’ We say, ‘Oh my gosh, isn’t this cool?’ ” 
Allison said the problem in nutrition stems from the arrogance that sometimes accompanies dietary advice. A little humility could go a long way. 
“Where nutrition has some trouble,” he said, “is all the confidence and vitriol and moralism that goes along with our recommendations.”
"Confidence and vitriol and moralism." People get emotionally bound up in their own opinions and beliefs. And once that happens, it is hard to shift them. It is one of the reasons that paradigm shifts, even in science, begin in the young and are completed when the holders of the old paradigm die out.

[See also the recent shifts concerning dietary salt, as well.]

These belief systems substitute for religion, and all that religion implies.

"Health Nazi's." "Food fascists." "Vegetarian separatists."

And the analogy to the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming hypothesis is clear.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Article: How good is the NASA GISS global temperature dataset?

[And an update with more adjusted data]

Take away - 82.5% of all weather stations have siting issues that increase the recorded temperature. In addition, these were then used as the standard by which pristine sites were adjusted, increasing their temperatures as well.
It is generally accepted that there are two major land temperature record issues: microsite problems, and urban heat island (UHI) effects. Both introduce warming biases. 
The project manually inspected and rated 1007 of 1221 USHCN stations (82.5%) using the 2002 Climate Reference Network (CRN) classification scheme (handbook section 2.2.1). The resulting preliminary paper shows a large temperature trend difference (about 0.1C/decade) between acceptably sited stations (CRN 1 or 2) and those with material microsite problems (CRN 3, 4, 5).
In the Surface Stations supplemental materials (available at only 14 CONUS stations have pristine CRN 1 siting (1.2%). 4 are labeled urban, 3 are suburban, and 7 are rural. Since these 14 have zero microsite issues, they can be used to examine the GISS UHI homogenization.
A spurious warming trend was introduced into all three suburban and 6 of 7 rural CRN 1 stations. Only Apalachicola FL emerged from GISS unscathed. 
Automated homogenization algorithms like GISS use some form of a regional expectation, comparing a station to ‘neighbors’ to detect/correct ‘outliers’. BUT 92% of US stations have microsite issues. So most neighbors are artificially warm. So the GISS algorithm makes the hash illustrated above. How could it not? And by extension NCDC, BEST, Australian BOM, …
Additionally, the older data from some of the pristine sites was adjusted cooler which either introduced or exaggerated a warming trend.
Even though the satellites of RSS and UAH are watching, all three of the terrestrial record-keepers have tampered with their datasets to nudge the apparent warming rate upward yet again. There have now been so many adjustments with so little justification – nearly all of them calculated to steepen the apparent rate of warming – that between a third and a fifth of the entire warming of the 20th century arises solely from the adjustments, which ought to have been in the opposite direction because, as McKitrick & Michaels showed in a still-unchallenged 2007 paper, the overland warming in the datasets over recent decades is twice what actually occurred.
Article: New Nuclear Power Seen as Big Winner in Obama’s Clean Power Plan

The Obama administration gave the struggling U.S. nuclear industry a glimmer of hope this week by allowing new reactors to count more toward meeting federal emissions limits. 
States can take more credit for carbon-free electricity to be generated by nuclear power plants that are still under construction as they work to comply with emissions-reduction targets set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The boost for new nuclear was outlined in the Obama administration’s final Clean Power Plan released Monday.
Not mentioned in the article are the new generation of designs for nuclear power plants that could be game changing: smalller and cheaper. They can be maufactured in a plant and moved into position. They do not necessarily use either uranium or plutonium, thus making for less radioactive waste.

Global Warming Science Links - 8/4/15

Article: A (Not Quite) Complete List Of Things Supposedly Caused By Global Warming

"And all on 0.006 deg C per year!"

Article: EPA: We don't need to justify our regulations to avert warming .01 degrees

EPA head McCarthy refuses to release the science behind proposed new regulations.

"McCarthy stressed that the science is generated through the peer-reviewed process," which shows she has no idea how science operates.

Article: All This for .01 Degrees Celsius?

By Joe Bastardi, Penn State graduate in meteorology, and co-founder of Accu-Weather.

A reminder of three things that are true about the climate that conveniently gets forgotten.

Article: And Now, The Co-Founder of Greenpeace Explains Why Climate Change is a Sham`

Video clip of Patrick Moore.

Article: Two new studies show that global warming is not behind California drought

Summary of the two studies.

Additionally a quoted geologist, posits that the "blob" of warm water off of California's coast may be due to volcanic activity.
The blob also has all the characteristics of another less-known phenomena termed megaplumes: massive underwater vents that spew out vast amounts of heat, which in turn warm the waters above. According to geologist James Kamis, “An ongoing very large megaplume is responsible for generating a cell of unusually warm seawater that extends across a vast region of the Pacific Ocean, including much of North America’s west coast. This sub-sea volcanically induced giant warmed cell is acting to alter normal California climate patterns and inducing a long term draught.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Article: The Unknown Newton
Only in the last few years have many of Newton’s writings become accessible to the general public. The scholars and staff of The Newton Project — a nonprofit organization at the University of Sussex dedicated to publishing all of Newton’s writings, online, for free — have been working since 1998 to transcribe (and sometimes translate) many shelves’ worth of Newton’s forbidding writings.  
The Newton Project... has thus far published over six million of Newton’s words, equivalent to about eight King James Bibles. This mammoth undertaking presents many of Newton’s writings to the public for the very first time and gives scholars around the world better access to what the Irish poet Henry Jones called Newton’s “all capacious Mind.” 
The mind disclosed by these writings proves that the common image of Newton as a scientific hero is woefully incomplete. We can begin now to see the unknown Newton: a staunch but untraditional Christian, a Church historian who wrote thousands of pages of biblical interpretation, a thinker more in tune with Renaissance tradition than Enlightenment skepticism, and a scientific genius who strove with equal vigor to unlock both the principles of physical motion and the arcane secrets of alchemy.
Five authors tackle different aspects of the "Unknown Newton."

Hat tip to Instapundit. 

Cross posted at Root In Him.

Science Links: 8/1/2015

Article #1: How Far Can the Human Eye See a Candle Flame?
The brightest stars, such as Vega, have a [apparent] magnitude 0. At what distance would a candle flame be comparable to a star like Vega, they asked. 
Some straightforward nighttime experiments with a candle suggested that the distance was 338 meters. “To our eyes the candle flame and Vega appeared of comparable brightness,” they say.
This is apparent magnitude. So, at 338 meters (about 370 yards or 0.2 miles) Vegas and a candle would be equally bright.

They compared the magnitude of the dimmest stars we can see with how far away the candle had to be in order for it to have the same magnitude. That distance was about 1.6 miles

Article #2: Earth's 'magnetic personality' much older than previously thought

By measuring the magnetic field of magnetite from Australian zircons, researchers concluded that the magnetic field of earth was at least or 4.2 billion years old. Or it has existed for at least 80% of earth's history.

Article #3: California ‘rain debt’ equal to average full year of precipitation

California averages about 20 inches of rain a year, but the actual amount in any given year swings fairly wildly.

California regularly experiences drought years, but this is the third year running that there has been a rain debt and the total over the last 3 years equals 1 year.

California has had larger rain debt, for example, "a 27.5 inch deficit of rain and snow occurred in the state between 1986 and 1994."

That was less of a crisis than today because the population was smaller, less agriculture was irrigated, and less water was diverted for environmental purposes.

There is a good discussion of the mechanics of the flow of air which creates both drought and surplus conditions, along with a discussion of how El Nino plays into the atmospheric dynamics.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Article: Scientists warn an entire eco-system is under threat from climate change

I am not doubting the connection between craneflies, bogs and rare birds. And that they are all threatened by increasing droughts.

However, I ran across a comment a few weeks ago about the tentativeness of predictions involving the effects of global warming (and, no, I refuse to use "climate change.")

So here are the "tentative" words, and some comments.
Warn; threat; climate change (actually global warming); are being put at risk; climate change; warn; climate change; [predicted] rising temperatures; climate change; predicted; will cause; peatland model; climate change; predictions; could see; securing the future; peatland model; climate change; climate change; risk; climate change; big change; change; climate change; climate change. 
The body of the article has about 694 words (WordPerfect), 22 sentences, 26 "tentatives" and 10 uses of "climate change."

The peatland model is based on climate models and accepts them as accurate, even though all of the climate models in the IPCC reports have not been falsified.

Article: Readiness of America's biology teachers questioned
Data spanning 1987 to 2007 show changing demographics among public high school biology teachers. The workforce has become less experienced and has been destabilized by turnover, and biology teachers are more likely than other science teachers to work outside of their discipline.
I do not have enough personal knowledge about this. However, I do know that of the 6 people who teach biology at my high school, none teach all biology all the time. Four of the 6 teach biology related courses, while 2 teach other sciences. 

Bold-faced is mine. 
The authors support alternatives to the typical calls for more stringent certification and targeted professional development. In their view, it would be better to match curricula to existing expertise. They propose a model in which "instead of offering a static, predetermined slate of science courses at each school, district, or county, the curriculum is chosen largely as a function of the expertise of those teachers who they employ." 
Currently, curriculum is "top down" and controlled at the state and federal levels.

Actually having biology teachers teach their areas of expertise is a throw back to a previous, and long gone era.
Article: Researchers just developed a revolutionary vaccine that offers '100% protection against Ebola'

Good news.
The test, backed by drug firm Merck, the WHO and the governments of Canada, Norway and Guinea, saw 4,123 high-risk people vaccinated immediately after someone close to them fell ill with the deadly haemorrhagic fever.  
None of the vaccinated group caught the virus, according to study results published in The Lancet medical journal.

Article: European Renewable Energy performance for 2014 falls far short of claims
By 2014 European Union countries had invested approximately €1 trillion, €1000,000,000,000, in large scale Renewable Energy installations. 
This has provided a nameplate electrical generating capacity of about 216 Gigawatts, nominally about ~22% of the total European generation needs of about 1000 Gigawatts.
The actual measured output by 2014 from data supplied by the Renewables Industry has been 38 Gigawatts or 3.8% of Europe’s electricity requirement, at a capacity factor of ~18% overall.
Contrast that with coal or gas power plants that can operate at close to 100% capacity.
Accounting for capacity factors the capital cost of these Renewable Energy installations has been about €29billion / Gigawatt.  That capital cost should be compared with conventional gas-fired electricity generation costing about €1billion / Gigawatt.
Renewables cost 29X as much to install as gas-fired plants.

The wealthy elite are gaga over renewables, but they can afford to spend a lot more for energy. Back when Al Gore was pushing his "documentary" it was revealed that his primary residence used more electricity in one month that the average American used in one year.
In spite of their [ed., "there"] being virtually no costs for fuel, Renewable Energy installations can still cost up to 1.5 – 2.5 times as much to operate and maintain as conventional Gas Fired plant.
And the effect is to increase the cost of renewables even more.
Accordingly German Renewable installations perform at only ~13% overall.  They are by far the least performant in Europe because of their heavy commitment to Solar Energy at Northern latitudes.  Germany is followed by Italy with a more Southerly position but still with a heavy commitment to Solar Power.
Low solar incidence angle and short days for 6 months of the year. Berlin, Germany is 52 degrees North. Northernmost Maine is 47 degrees North. How did any rational person think that solar energy was a good choice for Germany?
In France which already has the lowest CO2 emissions levels/head [ed., per capita] of population in the developed world (substantially less (~60%) than China) because of its commitment to Nuclear electrical generation, the installation of Renewable Energy (Wind Power and Solar) in France would seem to be particularly costly and pointless.
If governments want low CO2 emissions, they should go with nuclear.

If they want to kill poor people in the winter, so with renewables.
To date about € trillion, (€1000,000,000,000), has been spent on the installation of Renewable Energy technologies for electricity generation in Europe.
By Government and EU diktat, this expenditure has been extracted by extra charges imposed on utility bills throughout Europe.  Viewed as taxation this is very regressive form:  it imposes more burdens on poorer people whilst leaving wealthier people who are able to pay less affected.  It is also invisible in Government accounts as a tax income at all, as it is an industry price imposition on consumers.
These regressive “Green taxes” have already lead to significant fuel poverty throughout Europe.
As I said, if they want to kill poor people in the winter, go with renewables.
The USA has made significant CO2 emissions reductions over the past few decades by replacing Coal Fired generation with Gas Fired electricity generation with the feedstock provided by the fracking revolution.  It is estimated that using natural gas for electricity generation as opposed coal burning saves about 30% of CO2 emissions.  
So the most environmentally sound, logical, rational, scientific, economic, compassionate choices are
1) Natural gas (and fracking).
2) Nuclear.

On the other hand renewables are the best choice for the elite because they offer
1) Smug moral superiority
2) Good opportunities for cronyism and graft.
It is also questionable whether these Renewable Energy industries, when viewed “from cradle to grave”, including manufacturing, site works, installation, connection and demolition costs, does in fact reduce CO2 emissions to any significant extent overall.  The CO2 saved may never exceed the CO2 emissions generated to erect the total installation.  
This is like the ethanol boondoggle in the US. Use lots of land and fossil fuels to grow and harvest corn, then lots of fossil fuels convert the corn to alcohol and purify it. Then claim that you are reducing CO2 emissions by using a "biofuel" from a renewable resource. All the while by driving up food (and fuel) costs by diverting corn (and land) from being a feedstock.

Science LInks - 7/31/15

Article: Independent expert confirms that the "impossible" EM Drive actually works
As efficient as this type of propulsion may sound, it defies one of the fundamental concepts of physics - the conservation of momentum, which states that for something to be propelled forward, some kind of propellant needs to be pushed out in the opposite direction. 
For that reason, the drive was widely laughed at and ignored when it was invented by English researcher Roger Shawyer in the early 2000s. But a few years later, a team of Chinese scientists decided to build their own version, and to everyone's surprise, it actually worked. Then an American inventor did the same, and convinced NASA's Eagleworks Laboratories, headed up by Harold 'Sonny' White, to test it. 
The real excitement began when those Eagleworks researchers admitted back in March that, despite more than a year of trying to poke holes in the EM Drive, it just kept on working - even inside a vacuum.
It might turn out that we need to rewrite some of our laws of physics in order to explain how the drive works. But if that opens up the possibility of human travel throughout the Solar System - and, more importantly, beyond - then it's a sacrifice we're definitely willing to make. Bring on the next set of tests.
Article #2: Engineers demonstrate the world’s first white lasers
While lasers were invented in 1960 and are commonly used in many applications, one characteristic of the technology has proven unattainable. No one has been able to create a laser that beams white light. 
Researchers at Arizona State University have solved the puzzle. They have proven that semiconductor lasers are capable of emitting over the full visible color spectrum, which is necessary to produce a white laser.
Applications include replace standard lighting because lasers are more efficient in change electrical energy into visible light. More vivid display screens (computers and TVs). And communications.

The lasers are also "tunable".

So far, this is "proof of concept" and not yet practical.

Article #3: Astronauts find living organisms clinging to the International Space Station, and aren’t sure how they got there
During a spacewalk intended to clean the International Space Station, Russian astronauts took samples from the exterior of the station for a routine analysis. The results of the experiment were quite surprising. Astronauts expected to find nothing more than contaminants created by the engines of incoming and outgoing spacecraft, but instead found that living organisms were clinging to outside of the ISS. The astronauts identified the organisms as sea plankton that likely originated from Earth, but the team couldn’t find a concrete explanation as to how these organisms made it all the way up to the space station — or how they managed to survive.
The article leads with a photo of diatoms (phytoplankton), but says that the organisms are invertebrates.

Article #4: Scientists identify men who died at Virginia's Jamestown 400 years ago
The men were identified as the Reverend Robert Hunt, Captain Gabriel Archer, Sir Ferdinando Wainman and Captain William West. All of them helped guide the colony during its difficult years after its founding in 1607. 
Researchers used archaeology, skeletal analyses, chemical testing, 3-D technology and genealogical research to identify the men who lived and died when the settlement was on the brink of failure due to famine, disease and war.

This is post #300.

Allow me to congratulate myself. ;)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Article: The Colossal Hoax Of Organic Agriculture

Well, yes.

Points made:

  • The "organic" pesticides permitted are still toxic. 
  • There is a huge premium to buying organic (up to 100%)
  • Researchers found that “99.99 percent (by weight) of the pesticides in the American diet are chemicals that plants produce to defend themselves.”
  • Food certified organic may contain GMOs. 
  • "The organic community... opposes more frequent mandatory testing of organic products for prohibited and excluded substances."
  • It is "faith based" because food is certified as organic if the farmer follows the correct process, not if there are low amounts of pesticide residues in the food. 
  • It is "faith based" because farmers have an incentive to substitute cheaper non-organic food for more expensive to produce organic food. 
  • "Organic agriculture is an unscientific, heavily subsidized marketing gimmick..."

Speaking of trust and faith—or lack thereof–in organic foods, there was the example of holier-than-thou Whole Foods importing large amounts of its supposedly “organic” produce from China, of all places. Those imports even included Whole Foods’ house brand, “California Blend.” (Yes, you read that correctly.)
I began reading the magazine, "Organic Gardening" while in my teens (early 1970's). One aunt and uncle also grew most of their garden organically and I talked with them a lot.

I grow my own garden organically, although I will use the classic herbicides on my lawn and gravel.

For me it is a choice. I police the garden for various types of caterpillars, and I hand weed. I let mildew take the cucumbers and daisies.

However, organic farming, and selling food as "organic" I always thought was a waste of money, with a large amount of "tribal value signalling."  "Look at me! I am virtuous; I buy organic. I support Mother Earth."

Additionally, the idea that organic agriculture should be the way to go instead of "non-organic" farming is an elitist view. People who can afford to pay premium prices should not impose that on others. Poor people benefit from cheap food. Period.

It is an actual example of the story falsely attributed to Marie Antoinette. When told that the bakers of Paris did not have enough bread for the poor, she is supposed to have reply, "Let them eat cake."

Organic methods simply not as productive on a per acre basis. This, by itself, both drives up prices and decreases the food supply.

"Let them organic," is not as resonant, but no less true.

I gave this a "moral panic" tag because of the fear of pesticides.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Article: Genes influence academic ability across all subjects, latest study shows [Update: Eugenics 2.0]
Around 60% of differences in GCSE results can be explained by genetic factors, with the same genes responsible for maths, science and the humanities 
The study suggests that a weakness in one subject is most likely to be caused by environmental factors, such as teaching, as the genes affecting ability for different subjects are the same. 
Results in all subjects, including maths, science, art and humanities, were highly heritable, with genes explaining a bigger proportion of the differences between children (54-65%) than environmental factors, such as school and family combined (14-21%), which were shared by the twins.
The article linked below suggests that inheritability of homosexuality is about about 35%; or, in other words, about half the inheritabilty of academic ability (including intelligence, memory, diligence, and curiosity).

I found this article in a post I will not link to. One of the points that the author makes is that "eugenics 2.0" is inevitable. Eugenics 2.0 will target the bearers of specific genes; for example, those involved in violence or low academic ability. While there will be a disparate impact in terms of race and ethnicity, eugenics 2.0 advocates will be able to declare that their motivation will not be racism. Eugenics 1.0, an enterprise of early 20th century Progressives, openly advocated sterilizing of the "unfit" and controlling the population of inferior races. Eugenics 2.0 will not have to and still acheive the same result.

Update: National Security Will Drive Genetically Enhanced Offspring
Eugene Volokh thinks the US will feel pressure to allow offspring IQ boosting or fall behind other nations. It becomes a national security issue if the American population becomes 20 IQ points lower than China, India, and Russia. So expect the national wing of a nation's elites to promote offspring genetic engineering. 
In spite of the outliers I expect offspring genetic engineering will lead to brighter, better looking, higher performing, and healthy children and adults. What I'm less sure about is personality traits and moral reasoning circuitry.  
Then the rate of human evolution will skyrocket. We live in the final decades of human wild type. Some day wild type humans will be the minority. In some countries that will happen in this century.

Article: Mind-Blowing Temperature Fraud At NOAA

Actual measured US climate data shows a longterm downward trend.

NOAA massaged data shows a longterm upward trend. The upward trend is due to taking data from urban (heat island) sites and "filling in missing rural data" that would be cooler than the urban sites.

There are three graphs supporting this accusation.

Unmentioned is fact that the NASA satellite data shows the same downward trend.
Article: The association between intelligence and lifespan is mostly genetic
Background: Several studies in the new field of cognitive epidemiology have shown that higher intelligence predicts longer lifespan. This positive correlation might arise from socioeconomic status influencing both intelligence and health; intelligence leading to better health behaviours; and/or some shared genetic factors influencing both intelligence and health. Distinguishing among these hypotheses is crucial for medicine and public health, but can only be accomplished by studying a genetically informative sample.
A long standing, and powerful, assumption among many people is that human beings are born as a "blank slate" and that any differences in outcomes among individuals or various socioeconomic groups must be due to disadvantages and oppression. This is another nail in the coffin of that pernicious paradigm.
Key Messages
  • It has been reported that brighter people live longer; we asked ‘why?'.
  • We found, using data from three studies, that the small association between being brighter and living longer was mostly genetic in origin.
  • This is a key finding in cognitive epidemiology; it is a further indication that intelligence is not just ‘school-smarts'.
I like this also because it shows the scientific method in operation.

Observation: Brighter people live longer.
Problem: Why do brighter people live longer?
Hypotheses: This positive correlation might arise from
1. socioeconomic status influencing both intelligence and health;
2. intelligence leading to better health behaviours;
3. and/or some shared genetic factors influencing both intelligence and health.
Experiment: retrospective analysis of three, long-term twin studies
Results: a small association between intelligence and living longer is mostly genetic in origin.
Conclusion: "intelligence is not just ‘school-smarts'."

Hypothesis falsification:
Factoring in socioeconomic factors, and health behaviors, using data from Sweden, seems to indicate that these factors do not influence lifespan.

In other word, environmental factors have a smaller effect on life span than genetic factors, such as intelligence.

Article: When the Cat Comes Back, With Prey

Another British study on the ecological effects of cats, considered a "predatory, non-native species."  Previous studies have attempted to determine how much of an impact cats had. This one is more about the attitudes and actions of the cat's owners.

Take aways:
  • cats are predators, good predators
  • their owners allow their cats to roam during prime hunting hours.
  • their owners know they hunt, and catch, other animals.
  • their owners underestimate how many prey animals their cats catch.
  • their owners do not want to contain their cats to protect wildlife
Addtionally, at then end of the article there is a discussion about cats avoiding parks and public lands in the US. Turns out that they are apparently avoiding coyotes.
That was even true of Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C., which is surrounded by residences and likely thousands of pet cats. Yet in six months, researchers caught coyotes on camera 125 times in the park, but photographed a cat only once.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Article: Hot and Bothered: Air conditioning isn’t bad for you or even (relatively) for the planet.
[T]he case against AC has always been more a moral judgment than a scientific one. Summer cooling is no more damaging to the climate than the heating that we do in winter. In fact, it’s substantially less so, since the United States burns more fuel on radiators than it does on air conditioners. According to the most recent stats available from the federal government (which cover 2010), the average American household puts 40.4 million British thermal units into home heating, and just 9.3 million BTUs into home cooling. As I’ve pointed out before, this explains why the long-term shift in population from our coldest, Northern states into the hot and humid South has in sum reduced the amount of fossil fuel we burn to keep our houses at a comfortable temperature. Simply put: It’s more efficient to air-condition homes in Florida than it is to warm the ones in Minnesota. 
Europeans have trouble understanding the US's fondness for AC. They assume that our climates are like theirs. However, the climates in our midwest and east coast are very different from theirs, being much hotter and more humid during the summer. Only our west coast climates, mostly cool and humid or warm and dry, are similar to theirs.

Article: Male sexual orientation influenced by genes, study shows
A study of gay men in the US has found fresh evidence that male sexual orientation is influenced by genes. Scientists tested the DNA of 400 gay men and found that genes on at least two chromosomes affected whether a man was gay or straight. 
A region of the X chromosome called Xq28 had some impact on men's sexual behaviour – though scientists have no idea which of the many genes in the region are involved, nor how many lie elsewhere in the genome. 
Another stretch of DNA on chromosome 8 also played a role in male sexual orientation – though again the precise mechanism is unclear.
The cause of homosexuality in males is a fraught subject. There are, basically, three possible causes: free choice, genetic determination, and envirnmental factors.

Most male homosexuals say that, looking back, they knew they were homosexuals from an early age based on what and who attracted them. And they reject the idea that they chose a homosexual orientation.

It is obvious from previous studies on twins, going back to the 1980's, that there is a genetic component to male homosexuality, although there is not a 1:1 correlation with genes and homosexuality as there is with genes for eye color or (most) hair colors.  It is much lower.
Wikipedia: Biometric modeling revealed that, in men, genetic effects explained .34–.39 of the variance [of sexual orientation], the shared environment .00, and the individual-specific environment .61–.66 of the variance. 
In other words, while genetics plays a factor causing male homosexuality, its effect is half the size of enviornmental factors, whatever they may be.
The flawed thinking behind a genetic test for sexual orientation is clear from studies of twins, which show that the identical twin of a gay man, who carries an exact replica of his brother's DNA, is more likely to be straight than gay. 
A very clear example of the larger effect of environmental factors.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Science Links 7/25/2015

Article: Mystery beach blast in Rhode Island blamed on hydrogen gas

Abandoned and corroded copper cable releases hydrogen gas; catastrophically combines with oxygen creating a blast.

Article: Exploring deep microbial life in coal-bearing sediment down to ~2.5 km below the ocean floor

Lignite coal bed, about 2 miles below the surface of the Pacific Ocean off of Japan. Buried for "tens of million of years." Still has an active bacterial ecosystem.

Article: New Horizons: Pluto may have 'nitrogen glaciers'
Scientists believe they see evidence of surface material having flowed around mountains and even ponding in craters. 
The activity is certainly recent, they say, and may even be current.
I love bizarre geology (or "plutology").
The other key detection was of hazes in the atmosphere. These are likely the consequence of high-up methane being broken apart and processed by sunlight into simple hydrocarbons like ethylene and acetylene, which then fall, cool and condense to form a mist of ice particles.
And bizzare meteorology.

Article: Abrupt climate change may have doomed mammoths and other megafauna, scientists report

During the Late Pleistocene, over about 50,000 years, most megafauna outside of Africa went extinct.

Old hypotheis: megafauna went extinct due to rapid cooling events.
More recent hypothesis: megafauna went extinct due to human migration into the megafauna's ecosystems.
New hypothesis: megafauna went extinct due to rapid warming events.
The study, published in Science on Thursday, is the first to link specific climatic events to localized extinctions of megafauna. In this case, the events are called “interstadials,” or short warming periods that occurred throughout the era. The interstadials saw temperature increases anywhere from 4 to 16˚C, the study’s authors explain, and sometimes that warming occurred over just a few decades. Once warming occurred, the Earth would stay warm for hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years. 
[Alan Cooper of the University of Adelaide] Cooper’s model suggests that climate-driven extinction events happened in a pattern over time, closely tied to warming events that occurred through the era, going back until at least 50,000 years ago. Those patterns, Cooper said, weren’t always discernible from the fossil record. Instead, the team used a combination of DNA and radiocarbon dating to link localized megafauna extinctions to a series of rapid warming events over time.
The article ends with obligatory tie-in to global warming.

Article: Abrupt warming events drove Late Pleistocene Holarctic megafaunal turnover
The mechanisms of Late Pleistocene megafauna extinctions remain fiercely contested, with human impact or climate change cited as principal drivers. Here, we compare ancient DNA and radiocarbon data from 31 detailed time series of regional megafaunal extinctions/replacements over the past 56,000 years with standard and new combined records of Northern Hemisphere climate in the Late Pleistocene. Unexpectedly, rapid climate changes associated with interstadial warming events are strongly associated with the regional replacement/extinction of major genetic clades or species of megafauna. The presence of many cryptic biotic transitions prior to the Pleistocene/Holocene boundary revealed by ancient DNA confirms the importance of climate change in megafaunal population extinctions and suggests that metapopulation structures necessary to survive such repeated and rapid climatic shifts were susceptible to human impacts.

Article: Rise in Autism May Be Due to Semantics, Study Finds

Autism, autism-spectrum disorder, and Asperger's syndrome. 
A new study suggests the idea that more kids are being diagnosed with autism not because something catastrophic has happened to U.S. children, but rather because they're simply being classified and diagnosed differently.
Special education enrollment figures suggest 97 percent of the increase in autism seen between 2000 and 2010 could simply be accounted for by reclassification — at least among older kids — a team at Penn State University found. [And about 2/3 of the total increase.]
Santhosh Girirajan, an assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and of anthropology at Penn State and colleagues looked at 11 years of special-education enrollment data covering more than 6 million children a year. They found that the increase in students designated as having autism could be offset by a nearly equal decrease in students diagnosed with other intellectual disabilities often seen along with autism.
Additionally, higher autism rates are found in children of teen parents and of older parents. Since there has been more of those two groups over the last 30 years or so, that could account for some of the rest of the increase. 

Also, there is a genetic factor at work as well. Parents who are detailed oriented tend to be at an increased risk of having children with autism. It used to be that men who were detailed oriented tended to end up certain occupations, such as engineering. Women in others. These men would tend to find spouses at church or in social organizations or in support staff where they worked. These women would be less likely to carry any autism related genes. 

Because detail-oriented women are being encouraged to move into engineering type occupations, detail oriented men and women are now  more likely to marry each other. This increases the risk of a "double dose" of the genes related to autism. 

If these three things are true, they probably account for close to 100% of the increase in the diagnosis of autism and its related syndromes. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Article: ‘Deny’ and ‘Hoax’: Trump Words Intended to Shut Down Debate
The reason “deny” or “denial” or “deniers” is such a useful appellation to slap on people you disagree with is because of a phrase that entered the lexicon to describe an actually deranged point of view: Holocaust denial. Every time a variation on “deny” is used in such willy nilly fashion, the user is implicitly linking the target of your words to those who reject that the Holocaust happened.** Leave aside the damage this does to the ability to have a rational debate on the issues: that’s just a gross misappropriation of a humanitarian tragedy to score cheap political points. 
Now look: there are any number of reasonable debates to be had over this practice [Planned Parenthood selling "baby parts"]. Maybe the practice of selling dismembered-fetus organs actually saves lives! Maybe it is not only legal but also moral! Supporters of Planned Parenthood could try to convince us of these things. Instead, however, they say things like: [HOAX!]
Ad hominen logical fallacy. Don't deal with the facts, don't deal with the argument, shriek "Denier!"

And he does not even deal with Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming deniers. 

Arctic Sea Ice: 4 Articles

Article: Arctic ice 'grew by a third' after cool summer in 2013
Researchers say the growth continued in 2014 and more than compensated for losses recorded in the three previous years. 
The scientists involved believe changes in summer temperatures have greater impacts on ice than thought. 
"We looked at various climate forcing factors, we looked at the snow loading, we looked at wind convergence and the melt season length of the previous summer," lead author Rachel Tilling, from University College London, told BBC News. 
"We found that the the highest correlation by far was with the melt season length - and over the summer of 2013, it was the coolest of the five years we have seen, and we believe that's why there was more multi-year ice left at the end of summer."
However, 2014 was supposed to have been the warmest on record (according to recently "adjusted" "data"). How can the warmest summer on record be reconciled with increased sea ice if that should have caused decreased sea ice?

Article: Arctic ice EMBIGGENS, returns to 1980s levels of cap cover

To be fair, it is total sea ice, Arctic and Antarctic, that has reached 1980's levels. While the Arctic ice is still down from its 1980's high, Antarctic ice is at record breaking levels, and still increasing.

Article: CCGS Amundsen re-routed to Hudson Bay to help with heavy ice

The Amundsen is an icebreaker. During the summer it does double-duty as a "floating research center."
Johnny Leclair, assistant commissioner for the Coast Guard, said Tuesday conditions in the area are the worst he's seen in 20 years.
Because of the large amount of ice this summer (supposedly the hottest on record, so far) the icebreaker has had to return to its normal duties.

Trip down memory lane:
2007 Article, also at the BBC: Arctic summers ice-free 'by 2013'
Real world 
Using supercomputers to crunch through possible future outcomes has become a standard part of climate science in recent years. 
"We use a high-resolution regional model for the Arctic Ocean and sea ice forced with realistic atmospheric data. This way, we get much more realistic forcing..."
Yes, the BBC actually used the section heading, "Real World."

Yet another falsification of the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming hypothesis.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Article: The Many Manipulations of the Planned Parenthood AttackVideos:
An OB/GYN explains how medically incorrect language is used to distort the facts

Article in regular print; my fisking is in bold.

The anti-choice [pro-abortion groups want to be called "pro-choice" but refuse to use the "pro-life" for their opponents] organization Center for Medical Progress—which, in 2013, claimed tax-exempt status as a biomedical charity—have recently released two “undercover” [scare quotes] videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing post-procedure tissue [biologically, cells make up tissues, tissues working together make organs, and organs working together make up organ systems. A late term abortion, the subject of the 1st video involved selling the developed organs for an aborted child.] donation [sale, not donation]. The group claims the videos demonstrate that Planned Parenthood profits from fetal tissue donation (which would be illegal) and that they are “haggling” [scare quotes and the video shows haggling] over the price of “baby parts.” [more scare quotes; livers and hearts can be termed parts.]

As an OB/GYN [appeal to authority logical fallacy], I can tell you that neither of these claims are true. [The transcript from the 2nd video - link - shows them haggling over the price. The other claim, that they "profit" is harder to determine, partly because of the many definitions of the word profit. The PP doctor admits receiving money for fetal tissue; isn't that profit?]

These are not "baby parts." [scare quotes] Whether a woman has a miscarriage or an abortion, the tissue specimen is called "products of conception." [As the commericial used to say, "Parts is parts."] In utero, i.e. during pregnancy, we use the term "embryo" from fertilization to 10 weeks gestation and "fetus" ["from Latin, act of bearing young, offspring; akin to Latin fetus newly delivered, fruitful;" it was used in Latin for newborns, but was not the normal word, "infans".] from 10 weeks to birth. The term baby is medically [narrow definition, designed to hide a difference that could be counted in inches or minutes] incorrect as it doesn’t apply until birth. Note: are medical terms the only ones that can be used?] Calling the tissue “baby parts” is a calculated attempt to anthropomorphize [since this is a human fetus, with all the genes of chromosomes of a human, and in the 2nd and third trimesters is recognizably human. They are "anthropomorphizing" a human. Not very hard to do.] an embryo or fetus. It is a false image—a 10-12 week fetus looks nothing like a term baby—and is medically incorrect. [Tecnically true for the 2nd video, but in the first video, the PP doctor and the actors were discusses 3 trimester fetuses (to use their word) which does have recognizable, functioning organs. Third trimester infants are viable outside the womb; I had a friend, now in her 60's, that was one of the first early trimester babies to survive.]

I am cutting this off here. It runs on for 3 paragraphs. My point is made.

The thesis of this argument is in the title: An OB/GYN explains how medically incorrect language is used to distort the facts. 

Simply, what does the argument that medical terminology really mean? It is a way of hiding what is going on behind a bunch of Latin derived euphemisms: fetus, embryo, products of conception (most of us who have had children refer to them as children, not "products of conception"), post-procedure tissue and the rest.

The title of the article uses the word manipulative and, boy, is this article manipulative. 



Governor Jerry Brown spend 3 years studying for the priesthood before completing a bachelors of arts in classics. He then earned a law degree from Yale University. He has a fine mind, trained to read, interpret, and think. He is not a scientist, however, and is not trained in dealing with how science operates. His opinions about global warming are just that, opinions. And these opinions are informed by the deep, leftist bubble he has lived in all his life.
"Right in the middle of this problem, we have fierce opposition and blind inertia and that opposition is well financed. Hundreds of millions of dollars going into propaganda, in falsifying the scientific record, bamboozling people of every country, television stations, political parties, think tanks, PHDs, university personnel," Brown said.
Biblically, even legally, this is slander. Oddly enough, I agree with it, because this is true of the climate-acedemic-media complex that operates in the US that promotes global warming. The only people "falsifying the scientific record" are the global warming activists, including NOAA and NASA's Goddard Climate Center.
[Rome’s Mayor Ignazio] Marino, a former surgeon, underscored the problem of organ trafficking, saying the phenomenon was on the increase, with tens of thousands of operations carried out each year around the world to extract organs—particularly kidneys—for sale to rich patients. Marino’s statement came just after it was revealed in the United States that the nation’s largest abortion provider Planned Parenthood has been harvesting organs from aborted babies and offering them for sale.
The Catholic Church has long had deeply thought out, theological positions against abortion, slavery, prostitution, homosexuality and organ theft. What are Gov Brown's positions with regard to these issues?
1. Brown’s newfound love for Saint Paul seems to gloss over the apostle’s strong words condemning homosexual practice, which would clash with the governor’s favorable position on same-sex marriage. 
2. A former Jesuit seminarian studying for the priesthood, Brown has evolved considerably since his seminary days, and his support of abortion in opposition to the Catholic Church’s defense of unborn children has earned him the plaudits of Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice groups.
Why have such a person, who is in opposition to important parts of Catholic theology, show-cased at a meeting in the Vatican?

Gov. Brown: troglodytes, deniers, bamboozled, un-Christian, greedy swindlers.

"Climate change deniers" is a straw dog logical fallacy. NO ONE denies that the climate changes. Gov Brown is calling catastrophic anthropogenic global warming "climate change" and then saying people are denying that it is happening.

Name calling is a logical fallacy called the ad hominen logical fallacy.

If it is necessary to use these fallacies, it is evidence that you know your arguement is actually very weak, and the only thing you can do is to fake it.
Governor Brown: "God is not mocked for whatsoever a man soweth that he shall also reap and what Saint Paul said in reference to God, we can also say about God's creation. We have heard what we are doing to that creation. What a trillion tons of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses will do," Brown said.
So, how well does Gov Brown's fine mind interpret the Bible?
The Bible: Galatians 6:6-10 (NASB)6 The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. 7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. 10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
The context of Paul's admonition is to be generous to those in the church who teach and lead. Gov. Brown is advocating sowing to the flesh (concern about the things of this world).

If he is going to sow slander, that is what he will reap. If he sows hate, that is what he will reap. If he calls his opponents "un-Christian," and judges and condemns them, that is what he will reap. If he sows the murder of innocents, then that is what he will reap.

And may God have mercy on his soul.