By JR on Saturday, April 29, 2017
Motor vehicles and particulate pollution
The article below appeared under the heading "Toxic diesel particles penetrate right through to the heart, scientists warn". But the research concerned showed no such thing.
The article is part of a decades-long Greenie campaign to demonize motor vehicles by showing that they are harmful to health. And there have been countless studies showing that people who live beside busy roads do have more illness of various sorts. It has been known for decades that that proves nothing but the studies keep rolling out.
It proves nothing because it is mostly poor people who live beside busy roads. Richer people can afford more leafy environments. And the poor have more illness in general -- for reasons that I will glide over -- so the illnesses shown by road studies could well be poverty effects, not pollution effects.
So to the study below: It was an experiment using particles of gold so was from the beginning inconclusive -- unless motor vehicles start spewing out gold for their tailpipes.
And even using gold no health effects were shown. All that was shown was that nanoparticles can be very penetrative in the body, which we already knew. There is a whole literature on the possible effects of nanoparticles too.
So if motor vehicle emissions cause ill-health we are still waiting on a study to show that. No doubt at some level they do cause harm but where is the cutoff? Do such emissions cause harm in normal life?
There is a reason why they probably do not. We in fact breathe in all sorts of junk every day. But our bodies are used to that and normally cope with it seamlessly. They even cope with all the poisons in tobacco smoke pretty well. There are a lot of Jewish centenarians in NYC and about a third of them smoke.
So the only reasonable question about motor emissions is whether or not they increase the disease burden beyond the already low level that other atmospheric pollutants inflict? Considering what we cope with already, it seems unlikely.
And note that even mesothelioma, a disease that stems from heavy exposure to asbestos fibres, is normally not fatal or even apparent until the patient is in his 60s. Asbestos fibres are quite large particles compared with what we have been talking about here but even they are very slow to inflict harm. If the body tolerates even asbestos fibres relatively well, why should we believe that much smaller particles are not well tolerated?
Toxic particles from diesel vehicles can work their way through the lungs and into the bloodstream, raising the risk of heart attacks and strokes, researchers have proved for the first time.
The nanoparticles, which cannot be traced by Government measuring equipment, stay in the body for months and tend to build up in areas that are most prone to disease.
Scientists have long known that air pollution is bad for the lungs, but until now they did not know whether exhaust particles were able to penetrate further into the body.
A team at Edinburgh University used harmless gold nanoparticles, at an equivalent size to diesel, in a human experiment that simulated cycling through a city.
By looking at surgically removed body samples they found that the gold had accumulated in the fatty areas inside blood vessels that are responsible for heart attack and strokes.
This tallies with previous research showing that cardiovascular disease, of which stroke is a form, accounts for 80 per cent of the roughly 50,000 premature deaths from air pollution each year in the UK.
The scientists say the findings are particularly worrying as officials only have the capacity to measure the overall volume of pollution particles in the air, rather than their number.
While the overall volume of pollution has been falling, they say the number of the most toxic tiny particles able to get deep inside the body is on the rise.
Dr Nicholas Mills, Professor of Cardiology at Edinburgh and one of the study’s co-authors, said: “We have always suspected that nanoparticles in the air that we breath could escape from the lung and enter the body, but until now there was no proof.
“These findings are of wide importance for human health, and we must now focus our attention on reducing emissions and exposure to airborne nanoparticles.”
While petrol particles are also able to penetrate the lungs, a petrol engine will throw out roughly 50 times fewer particles than a diesel engine of equivalent size, the researchers said.
The particles are also capable of penetrating the masks worn by some cyclists to avoid pollution.
Dr Mark Miller, who led the Edinburgh study, said: “It is striking that particles in the air we breathe can get into our blood where they can be carried to different organs of the body.
“Only a very small proportion of inhaled particles will do this, however, if reactive particles like those in air pollution then reach susceptible areas of the body then even this small number of particles might have serious consequences.”
It is possible to fit filters onto diesel vehicles to reduce the number of particles they emit, however these can make cars and lorries inefficient, burning more fuel overall, as well as more expensive.
The research team said a mandatory imposition of filters on all vehicles was premature.
By JR on Friday, April 28, 2017
"I was born in Australia and I don’t want to assimilate" -- but integration and assimilation are not the same thing.
Koraly Dimitriadis does make an important point below but it may not be the one she has in mind. For a start, she is clearly reflecting the views of her Greek parents. Greek immigrants of yesteryear typically saw Australians as a low lot with no morals or standards. They fitted in very well to Australian society with the fish-shops, greengrocers and milk bars that they set up (among other things) but were very strong on maintaining their cultural separateness. "Separateness" in Afrikaans is "apartheid". So they were clearly racists in a loose application of that term and Ms Dimitriadis clearly has a similar view of "old" (Anglo-Celtic) Australians.
Amusingly, as time has gone by, the lack of "standards" that older Greeks deplored in Australia has turned up in Greece also. So young Greeks who return to Greece to absorb their heritage tend to find that modern Greece is much more like Australia than it is like the Greece of their parents' description. I believe that even "hooking up" has arrived in Athens, which would be anathema to older Greeks.
But the underlying fact that Ms Dimitriadis seems not to realize is that integration and assimilation are not the same thing. Australia has absorbed vast numbers of immigrants from Europe and Asia with only minor frictions. The migrants concerned often did not assimilate in that they retained much of their own culture and customs but they integrated into Australian society by working for their living and not making waves. They rarely did break and enters and they don't go around shooting and bombing people in the name of Allah. So no-one was bothered by them and very little was required of them if they wanted to become citizens.
So the recently proposed citizenship test is not remotely aimed at Greeks, East Asians or Hindu Indians. Almost nobody is concerned about them gaining citizenship. There is nothing to be concerned about. What the tests are aimed at is the two groups of recent arrivals that I mentioned: Africans and Muslims. It is they whom the government wants to crack down on. But in an era of political correctness, they do not feel able to be frank about their aims. If they made the citizenship test applicable to Africans and Muslims only, there would be a huge uproar about "racism" from the Left. So a test designed to restrict Africans and Muslims has to be made applicable to all immigrants.
And, reasonably, some people, such as Ms Dimitriadis, feel the test is not and should not be applicable to her or her relatives. Ms Dimitriadis is undoubtedly a good citizen of Australia and deserves no special scrutiny of herself or her culture. So what she has highlighted in the difficulty that political correctness imposes. It causes her and her relatives to be treated like some very obnoxious groups are treated. It removes an important opportunity to make reasonable distinctions.
Just a small aside in conclusion: At the end of her article, she says:
"I’ll be proud to call myself Australian, to follow Australian values, when I see some values I’d like to follow, until then, I’ll stick to being myself"
She might more frankly have said, "I’ll stick to being a Greek Australian". And there is no reason why she should not do that. Greek Australians have made great contributions to Australia. The only difficulty is that political correctness would have made that statement racist
When asked about recent swift changes to obtaining Australian citizenship, he responded: “… if you want to become Australian you have to assimilate and integrate into Australian society.”
I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I was born in Australia and I am not interested in assimilating.
Assimilate and integrate into what? Australian society? Isn’t Australia a multicultural society made up of different people, cultures and faiths? Maybe what the government actually means is Anglo Saxon Christian Australian society.
“Australian values” and fluency in the English language will be some of the revamps to the new citizenship testing. Anglo Saxon English migrants will do just fine then. Migrants where English isn’t their first language will be at a disadvantage.
Just off the back of the Senate rejecting the proposed changes to Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and racist Australians crying out “freedom of speech”, in conjunction with the recent skilled migration visa changes, it seems our government this year has adopted Pauline Hanson-style discrimination politics.
While the list of questions for the test has yet to be finalised, whether or not it is appropriate to hit your wife is an example being thrown around. Apart from the ludicrous idea that someone applying for citizenship would tick “yes”, wouldn’t appropriate police checks be done when applying for permanent residency and citizenship?
“Membership of the Australian family is a privilege and should be afforded to those who support our values, respect our laws and want to work hard by integrating and contributing to an even better Australia,” Mr Turnbull said.
Since when is knowing fluent English proof you’re a true blue Aussie? Isn’t the language of Australia the hundreds of indigenous languages? Lucky Section 18C is still intact and the words “insult”, “offend” and “humiliate” were not replaced with “harass” because I am terribly offended right now.
Many members of my extended and immediate family who migrated to Australia in the 70s don’t know fluent English and they are prouder Aussies than I am and I was born here. From the day their ship docked, they have worked hard creating flourishing businesses, they have purchased their own home, educated their children to university level, and contributed not only to the economy but to the face of Australia’s multicultural society. It seems when it comes to appreciating different cultures, Anglo’s are good at appreciating the cuisine, not so much the customs and language.
Koraly Dimitriadis was born in Australia but will follow her own values for now. (Pic: Kaliopi Malamas)
See, this is why I don’t sing the Australian national anthem. Why would I want to pledge my allegiance to a racist country? The only Australia I am interested in is multicultural Australia. Not racist Australia, not Anglo Australia, but multicultural Australia. But all this government has shown me is they are interested in fuelling segregation. Just from the changes to the skilled migration visas and citizenship changes, racist Australians are getting validated by our government.
I can just hear it already: “Stop stealing our jobs, learn English or go back to where you came from, and give us our freedom of speech to offend you out in public rather than discretely behind closed doors.”
If the government really wants to keep jobs for Australians, maybe they could start by banning big companies from outsourcing their call centres to third world countries.
The government needs to realise that the words “assimilate” and “integrate” can be highly offensive to people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Because assimilate means integrate into the dominant power and that dominant power is Anglo.
The entire parliament of Australia needs a lesson in multiculturalism, in unifying communities rather than tearing them apart. I’ll be proud to call myself Australian, to follow Australian values, when I see some values I’d like to follow, until then, I’ll stick to being myself.
By JR on Thursday, April 27, 2017
Property Council urges more urban land, low-deposit loans in housing affordability plan
Nobody can repeal the law of supply and demand so what the rising prices clearly reveal is that supply is not keeping up with demand. And that is so. With Australia taking in a couple of hundred thousand immigrants in every year, something like a couple of hundred thousand new houses need to be built. Because of the slowness of local councils to release more building land, that is not happening. Councils are the choke point. But how anybody can squeeze their balls remains to be seen
The lobby group representing property developers has unveiled a "10-point plan" to boost housing affordability in Australia's major cities, urging an increase in the availability of urban land, a system of low-deposit home loans and incentives for older home owners to downsize.
The Property Council, which has been a high-profile opponent of Labor's proposals to curb negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions, has released its plan two weeks out from the government's budget, which will outline a suite of housing affordability measures.
Released on Wednesday, their plan reiterates the council's opposition to negative gearing reform, and calls for an increase in housing "supply, diversity and choice" through a strategy that increases the amount of land for new homes supported by infrastructure in capital cities.
It wants charges and "red tape" to be reduced to make it cheaper for property developers to build, incentives for states to reform competition policy, risk-assessed low-deposit loans for owner-occupiers, the creation of "built to rent" housing, and the phasing out of stamp duty.
The low-deposit loan scheme would be based on Western Australia's Keystart program, which has been accessed by 85,000 people and results in fewer defaults than the market average, according to the Property Council.
The council also suggests boosting the supply of fit-for-purpose retirement living, and protecting some surplus cash from the pension-assets test.
Winding back stamp duty, the group said, would make the tax system more efficient and increase economic growth.
Average dwelling prices were 6.9 times average wages in 2016, up from 4.3 times average wages 15 years ago. In 2001, it took 85.9 per cent of the average household income to pay for a home deposit. This rose to 138.9 per cent in 2016.
"For 20 years we have had a logjam of costly regulation, poor planning decisions and excessive taxation across all levels of government. This has driven up construction costs, impeded supply, and resulted in the dramatic increase in house prices in our major cities," Property Council chief executive Ken Morrison said.
"Our plan seeks to support housing construction, broaden housing choice, reduce unnecessary construction costs, incentivises the states to undertake planning reform, induce institutional investment in new rental stock, and help first home buyers bridge the deposit gap."
The report outlines lagging supply, strong population growth, monetary policy, strong employment levels, low inflation, low interest rates and increased competition in the mortgage market as drivers of house prices.
Mr Morrison said negative gearing underpins the rental market and warned the government to "tread carefully otherwise it runs the risk of undermining the flow of jobs and investment throughout the economy".
By JR on Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Immigrants advance Australian economy, but what happens if we 'close the door?'
The discussion below has some reasonable points but it comes from the Left-leaning ABC so commits the usual Leftist error of treating all immigrants as the same. There has long been a broad consensus that Australia should prioritize immigrants with useful skills and that implies that all immigrants are NOT the same. So the Left are being deliberately obtuse about this. The truth is that immigrants from both ends of the Eurasian continent -- Europe and East Asia -- have indeed assimilated well and made a great contribution to the development of Australia. But that is NOT so of immigrants from the Middle East and other Muslim lands. So to apply the lessons from past immigration to the inflow we are getting those days is totally invalid and deceptive. Muslim and African immigrants are largely parasitic and are not even grateful for their reception.
And the claim that hostility to Muslims is our fault and not theirs rests not only on a refusal to look at Muslim behaviour but also rests on an accusation that Australians have always been hostile to immigrants. That is nonsense.
The example that always comes to my mind concerns the government of NSW a few years back. Under the Iemma administration an Italian Premier was assisted in government by a Greek finance minister and several other Italians. NSW was run by what some would once have called "wogs" with hardly any consciousness of that. All the politicians concerned were born in Australia of immigrant parents and were freely elected by the people of NSW to run Australia's most populous State. Where did the racism go in that?
There will always be racists in every community but to point to a few isolated examples of it does not establish a generalization. My example of what millions of NSW people did with their vote does, however, tell you much more about the attitudes of Australians in general
For a nation built mostly on newly-arrived immigrants, it's an issue guaranteed to inflame heated and at times vicious debate.
Outright distrust and opposition to anything "foreign" was part of our social fabric until 70 years ago, and at one stage was enshrined in our political system via The White Australia policy.
Then, the post war immigration boom saw waves of European refugees flee their war-torn homelands in search of a better life.
Those new arrivals changed Australia forever, overwhelmingly for the better, as did the influx of Asian immigrants fleeing conflict in the 1970s.
But despite the proclamations from our leaders that we are a tolerant mob who embrace cultural diversity, the deep-seated distrust among established Australians never really evaporated, as evidenced by the animosity towards new arrivals from the Middle East.
So inflamed are passions, it is nigh on impossible to have a sensible debate over levels of immigration whether it be in regards to the continent's environmental sensitivities or on the impact on the economy.
Those who raise legitimate concerns often are accused of racism.
That's understandable given environmental protection and the economy have become convenient smokescreens for those who harbour deep prejudices.
From around 90,000 at the turn of the century, our annual intake of immigrants has risen to more than 200,000 a year.
That's put a rocket under our population growth rate, which has surged to 1.8 per cent over the past 15 years, way above the OECD average of 0.7 per cent.
From a humanitarian perspective, it's allowed us to strut the world stage from the vantage of the high moral ground.
However, from an economic viewpoint, it's delivered our leaders a convenient buffer with which to hide a multitude of fiscal sins and allowed them to shirk making tough decisions.
How immigration boosts GDP
There's a fairly simple relationship between immigration and economic growth. The more people you have, the bigger your economy. More people buy more goods and services.
There's nothing inherently wrong with boosting your growth through immigration.
But the crime committed by Australian governments of all persuasions in the past 20 years is that, while they've been happy to accept the kudos for economic growth, they've been totally unwilling to spend the necessary cash to ensure the economy can cope with such a dramatic influx of new arrivals.
In essence, they've cooked the books.
As a result, many of our major cities are choking. Our infrastructure is obsolete. Utilities are struggling. That, in turn, has adversely affected our productivity and led to further distortions in how our wealth is distributed.
The laughable illusion of our economic miracle — the nation that fuels and feeds the world — is highlighted by looking just one small step beyond the raw GDP data.
If you simply divide our economic growth performance by the number of Australians, our growth doesn't look anywhere near as flash.
On an annualised basis, our per capita GDP growth has never been much above 2 per cent since the last recession 25 years ago, and that was for just a few years around the new millennium.
Most of the time it's been around 1.5 per cent and more recently 1 per cent. That's tepid at best.
That's the reason why, in recent years, it often has felt like a recession. In fact, during 2009, the economy was in reverse when measured in per capita growth terms.
Once you spread the extra wealth around all those extra people, we've been barely marking time. So much for the boom.
More people, less pay, same old infrastructure
Most new arrivals head to where they can find work. That's meant most immigrants have headed towards the biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne.
Since around 2003, Melbourne's population has swelled by almost 1 million, with Sydney not far behind.
All those extra people have to live somewhere and that puts pressure on housing.
Despite the common misconception peddled by shock jocks that new immigrants flock here for social security benefits, most in fact are desperate for work. That puts pressure on wages.
It is little surprise then that in the past decade, housing prices, particularly in the major centres have soared while wages growth now is the slowest since the last recession.
It's never a simple, linear argument. Immigrants are amazingly adept at starting their own businesses, thereby creating employment.
And record low interest rates combined with tax incentives that have transformed housing into a preferred investment vehicle have been the primary drivers in inflating the east coast housing bubble.
But there's no denying the failure of successive governments to develop infrastructure that would have facilitated new housing, thereby helping alleviate the dangerous east coast property bubble, and maintained productivity.
Immigration crackdown — Where now for growth?
In the past week, there has been a clear shift in Federal Government thinking. The scaling back of 457 visas — which undoubtedly have been rorted — and the tougher approach to citizenship appear to herald a new approach to immigration.
Once again though, the motivation appears to be more on pandering to electoral and party room prejudice than being sourced in sound economics or environmental grounds.
Political posturing aside, it would appear Canberra unwittingly has exposed itself to a far greater problem.
Without the immigration sugar hit, what will drive the Australian economy into the future?
Most of our economic growth forecasts have been based on population growth of around 400,000 a year; almost a new city.
With the mines now running at peak capacity, resource prices in decline and the east coast housing boom on its final doomed run, a pull back on immigration — the secret weapon in our economic miracle — will leave our leaders with nowhere to hide.
To further complicate matters, if productivity is to be lifted, a major infrastructure spend is required; the money that should have been spent all along to cope with the immigration intake.
Perhaps they will be forced to confront serious fiscal issues if they truly want to bring the budget deficit back under control instead of simply relying on endless numbers of new arrivals to inflate the economy and the tax base.
Maybe they will get serious about a resources rent tax, rather than idly standing by and watching the nation's riches hauled off for little return.
Tax cuts for foreign corporations may take a back seat to enforcing the law on company tax. And they might even question whether we can afford the enormous tax breaks on superannuation and property investment for the wealthy.
Maybe. But it will probably take a recession to do it.
By JR on Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Warmists have just lost the Antarctic peninsula
The peninsula was the only bit of the Antarctic that suited the Warmists. They gleefully reported glacial breakups there, quite ignoring that the Antarctic as a whole was certainly not warming and was in fact tending to cool. The study below however shows that the warmer period on the peninsula was an atypical blip that has now reversed
Recent regional climate cooling on the Antarctic Peninsula and associated impacts on the cryosphere
M. Oliva et al.
The Antarctic Peninsula (AP) is often described as a region with one of the largest warming trends on Earth since the 1950s, based on the temperature trend of 0.54 °C/decade during 1951–2011 recorded at Faraday/Vernadsky station. Accordingly, most works describing the evolution of the natural systems in the AP region cite this extreme trend as the underlying cause of their observed changes. However, a recent analysis (Turner et al., 2016) has shown that the regionally stacked temperature record for the last three decades has shifted from a warming trend of 0.32 °C/decade during 1979–1997 to a cooling trend of − 0.47 °C/decade during 1999–2014. While that study focuses on the period 1979–2014, averaging the data over the entire AP region, we here update and re-assess the spatially-distributed temperature trends and inter-decadal variability from 1950 to 2015, using data from ten stations distributed across the AP region. We show that Faraday/Vernadsky warming trend is an extreme case, circa twice those of the long-term records from other parts of the northern AP. Our results also indicate that the cooling initiated in 1998/1999 has been most significant in the N and NE of the AP and the South Shetland Islands (> 0.5 °C between the two last decades), modest in the Orkney Islands, and absent in the SW of the AP. This recent cooling has already impacted the cryosphere in the northern AP, including slow-down of glacier recession, a shift to surface mass gains of the peripheral glacier and a thinning of the active layer of permafrost in northern AP islands.
Science of The Total Environment. Volume 580, 15 February 2017, Pages 210–223
By JR on Monday, April 24, 2017
Police misbehaviour in Australia
Most times that I see them, I put up here reports of police misbehaviour. As well as posting them on my AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, blog, I have a separate site that records reports about police only. I have recently brought it up to date and the overwhelming feeling I got from it was shock about how frequent such behaviors are. For anybody with concerns about the police, it could be a useful resource
By JR on Sunday, April 23, 2017
Donald Trump has 'dangerous mental illness', say psychiatry experts
Psychiatrists will usually not hazard a diagnosis of someone they have not personally interviewed -- but for Trump that basic precaution flies out the window. And their "diagnosis" is very loose. He is a narcissist, a paranoid, and prone to grandiose thinking. It's a catalog of abuse rather than any serious attempt at a diagnosis.
There is no doubt that Trump is a most unusual man in all sorts of ways. That makes any attempt at diagnosis difficult and unlikely to fit. You can show that certain unusual behaviors fit one category but where does that leave you with all the other unusual behaviors? Diagnosis is extraordinarily risky in such cases and most unlikely to be accurate.
Nonetheless, I think Trump's pattern can be reduced to a single obvious syndrome -- one that the psychologists below clearly avoid. But I am not going to offer my thoughts on that in case they are twisted by the totally unscrupulous Left. It's Trump's policies that matter, not his personal idiosyncrasies
Donald Trump has a “dangerous mental illness” and is not fit to lead the US, a group of psychiatrists have warned during a conference at Yale University.
Mental health experts claimed the President was “paranoid and delusional”, and said it was their “ethical responsibility” to warn the American public about the “dangers” Mr Trump’s psychological state poses to the country.
Speaking at the conference at Yale’s School of Medicine on Thursday, one of the mental health professionals, Dr John Gartner, a practising psychotherapist who advised psychiatric residents at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, said: “We have an ethical responsibility to warn the public about Donald Trump's dangerous mental illness.”
Dr Gartner, who is also a founding member of Duty to Warn, an organisation of several dozen mental health professionals who think Mr Trump is mentally unfit to be president, said the President's statement about having the largest crowd at an inauguration was just one of many that served as warnings of a larger problem.
“Worse than just being a liar or a narcissist, in addition he is paranoid, delusional and grandiose thinking and he proved that to the country the first day he was President. If Donald Trump really believes he had the largest crowd size in history, that’s delusional,” he added.
Chairing the event, Dr Bandy Lee, assistant clinical professor in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, said: “As some prominent psychiatrists have noted, [Trump’s mental health] is the elephant in the room. I think the public is really starting to catch on and widely talk about this now.”
James Gilligan, a psychiatrist and professor at New York University, told the conference he had worked some of the “most dangerous people in society”, including murderers and rapists — but that he was convinced by the “dangerousness” of Mr Trump.
“I’ve worked with some of the most dangerous people our society produces, directing mental health programmes in prisons,” he said.
“I’ve worked with murderers and rapists. I can recognise dangerousness from a mile away. You don’t have to be an expert on dangerousness or spend fifty years studying it like I have in order to know how dangerous this man is.”
Dr Gartner started an online petition earlier this year on calling for Mr Trump to be removed from office, which claims that he is “psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President”. The petition has so far garnered more than 41,000 signatures.
It states: “We, the undersigned mental health professionals (please state your degree), believe in our professional judgment that Donald Trump manifests a serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President of the United States.
“And we respectfully request he be removed from office, according to article 4 of the 25th amendment to the Constitution, which states that the president will be replaced if he is 'unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office'."
The claims made in the conference have drawn criticism from some in the psychiatric establishment, who say they violate the American Psychiatric Association’s “Goldwater rule,” which states psychiatrists are not to give professional opinions on people they have not personally examined.
They have also been condemned by Republicans, including Connecticut Republican Party Chairman JR Romano, who accused the group of “throwing ethical standards out the window because they cannot accept the election results.”
Responding to the criticism, Dr Gartner said: “This notion that you need to personally interview someone to form a diagnosis actually doesn’t make a whole lotta sense. For one thing, research shows that the psychiatric interview is the least statistical reliable way to make a diagnosis.”
The doctors have said that even if it is in breach of tradition ethical standards of psychiatry, it was necessary to break their silence on the matter because they feared “too much is at stake”.
It is not the first time Mr Trump's mental health has been called into question. In February, Duty to Warn, which consists of psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers, signed an open letter warning that his mental state “makes him incapable of serving safely as president”.
The letter warned that the President’s tendency to “distort reality” to fit his “personal myth of greatness” and attack those who challenge him with facts was likely to increase in a position of power.
By JR on Saturday, April 22, 2017
The Other Poison Gas Killing Syrians: Carbon Dioxide Emissions
"If Trump and his cronies really cared about children killed by noxious gases, they wouldn’t be trying to spew ever more CO2 into the atmosphere"
Prof. Juan Cole goofs again below. The Leftist "expert" on the Middle East (a professor of Modern Middle East and South Asian History in the History Department at the University of Michigan), Juan Cole, gets shown up for the know-nothing he is here. And there is another scathing takedown of him here. For more on that see Mark Kleiman. We also read here that Cole thinks Iraq is on the Mediterranean! And if you read here you will see that the wacky Prof. Cole does not even know that a large part of what is the USA today was taken from Mexico!
But his identification of CO2 below as a noxious or deadly gas is a low point even for him. Does he realize that he himself breathes out a noxious gas every minute? Cole calls his blog Informed Comment, in the fine old Leftist tradition of calling a thing by its opposite
And it's just guesswork that attributes the severity of the Syrian drought to global warming. The Sahara was once lush but went into drought. Was that because of all those ancient Egyptians running around in SUVs when they weren't building pyramids? Climates certainly change but nobody so far has been able to predict it
And drought usually goes with cooling, not warming. Warm oceans give off more water vapour which brings rain. So are we saying that the Middle East has been really cool in recent years? Could be
UPDATE: I should perhaps repeat here something I noted on 6th:
It is true that poor cropping conditions in the Middle East led to food shortages but that was not because of global warming. Why? Because there was no global warming during the period concerned. The drought (roughly from 2005 to 2011) behind the crop failures occurred in the middle of the 21st century warming "hiatus". So nothing at that time CAN be attributed to warming. Neither droughts in the Middle East nor anything else can be caused by something that does not exist.
The gas attack in Syria on April 4 consumed the world’s attention and galvanized the Trump White House, leading to the launch of 59 cruise missiles on a small airport from which the regime of Bashar al-Assad has been bombing the fundamentalist rebels in Idlib province. The pictures of suffering children, Trump said, had touched him. Yet the president and most of his party are committed to increasing the daily release of hundreds of thousands of tons of a far more deadly gas—carbon dioxide. Climate scientist James Hansen has described our current emissions as like setting off 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs each day, every day of the year.
The Syrian civil war has left more than 400,000 people dead, among them graveyards full of children and innocent noncombatants. About half the country’s 23 million people have been left homeless, and of those, 4 million have been driven abroad (some of them contributing to Europe’s refugee crisis and its consequent rightward political shift). The war occurred for many complex reasons, including social and political ones. The severest drought in recorded modern Syrian history in 2007–10, however, made its contribution.
The mega-drought drove 1.5 million farmers and farmworkers off the land to the seedy bidonvilles ringing cities such as Homs and Hama. In the northeast, 70 percent of the farm livestock died in those years. These displaced and dispossessed day laborers, who seldom found remunerative new work in Syria’s stagnant urban economy, joined in the demonstrations against the regime. Some were later drawn into the civil war as militiamen. Others in the end fled their country.
A team of scientists found no natural explanation for how rapidly Syria has been drying out over the past century.
Of course, Syria has had milder periodic droughts all through history. Moreover, some countries in the region, such as Israel, have been much better at water management than the decrepit Baath state in Syria. It matters how such crises are handled. A team of scientists writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year, however, found no natural explanation for how rapidly Syria has been drying out over the past century or for the withering severity of the latest drought. Human-caused climate change, which has raised the temperature of the planet 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880, they concluded, made this Frankendrought as much as three times more likely to happen than if our coal plants, factories, and automobiles had left Mother Nature alone.
By JR on Friday, April 21, 2017
Leftists never learn
I reproduce below an article by some VERY uncritical thinkers. What they write reveals their thinking to be just about the same as the thinking of Adorno et al. in 1950. The great mass of criticism and refutation thrown at the Adorno work (See for instance the first half of Altemeyer's first book) has had no impact on them at all.
But there is a reason for that. In the minds of most psychologists, the Adorno work is impervious to criticism. No matter how aware they are of the criticisms and refutations of it: Its conclusions are just too delicious to let it go. In the best projective style, it accuses conservatives of all the faults that liberals themselves have, such as authoritarianism. Its conclusions are emotionally irresistible. So the authors below are not alone in continuing to produce "research" that repeats the old catnip. They quote many others who have not learned from the criticisms either. Their article is in fact mainstream among Leftist psychologists.
But it takes only a moment of inspection to show that the latest study, like most before it, is entirely reliant on value judgments. What seem like sober empirical findings are in fact all "spin". As is so common among psychologists, they take some highly detailed laboratory task and draw huge conclusions about all humanity from it. They do not rest at saying that liberals and conservatives respond differently to a particular experimental task but rather claim with great expansiveness that this shows how conservatives think generally.
And they do it all on the basis of responses from an available group of university students -- and students have often been shown as responding very differently from the population at large. The authors conclude that "liberals" behave in a certain way rather than "A non-random selection of 44 students from Northwestern university" behaved in a certain way. In the absence of representative sampling the latter is the only conclusion they are entitled to draw from their data but they are far more expansive than that.
But two can play at their silly game. Where they conclude that:
"Liberals solved significantly more problems via insight instead of in a step-by-step analytic fashion"
I would conclude from the same set of results that liberals leap to conclusions whereas conservatives are more careful. Broadly, "conservatism=caution" so that is hardly a startling conclusion.
An amusing feature of the article is that they accept that liberals have a need for novelty. They are sensation seekers. I reported the same many years ago -- and my sample was a random one. I interpreted the finding as showing that liberals are impulsive airheads but the authors below seem to see it as a good thing. "De gustibus non disputandum est", I guess.
Adorno,T.W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D.J. & Sanford, R.N. (1950) The authoritarian personality. New York: Harper.
Altemeyer, R. (1981). Right-wing authoritarianism. Winnipeg: University Manitoba Press.
The politics of insight
Carola Salvi et al.
Previous studies showed that liberals and conservatives differ in cognitive style. Liberals are more flexible, and tolerant of complexity and novelty, whereas conservatives are more rigid, are more resistant to change, and prefer clear answers. We administered a set of compound remote associate problems, a task extensively used to differentiate problem-solving styles (via insight or analysis). Using this task, several researches have proven that self-reports, which differentiate between insight and analytic problem-solving, are reliable and are associated with two different neural circuits. In our research we found that participants self-identifying with distinct political orientations demonstrated differences in problem-solving strategy. Liberals solved significantly more problems via insight instead of in a step-by-step analytic fashion. Our findings extend previous observations that self-identified political orientations reflect differences in cognitive styles. More specifically, we show that type of political orientation is associated with problem-solving strategy. The data converge with previous neurobehavioural and cognitive studies indicating a link between cognitive style and the psychological mechanisms that mediate political beliefs.
Q J Exp Psychol (Hove). 2016 Jun; 69(6): 1064–1072. doi: 10.1080/17470218.2015.1136338
By JR on Thursday, April 20, 2017
Scientific proof that Trump voters are racist?
Excerpt below from Thomas Wood, an assistant professor of political science at Ohio State University. Tom may know a lot about political science but he knows nothing about psychometrics. Both his measure of authoritarianism and his measure of racism have no known validity at predicting actual behaviour in the general population.
Rather hilariously, The Stenner scale of "authoritarianism" is embarassingly INVALID. That may be because it is in a "forced-choice" format that makes it difficult for many people to report their views accurately. It has been PROCLAIMED as a measure of authoritarianism but there is no proof that it is. More on that here
And the Symbolic Racism scale is problematic in what it defines as racism. Its items could in fact be seen as simply true or false hypotheses. Take, for instance the item:
"Generations of slavery and discrimination have created conditions that make it difficult for blacks to work their way out of the lower class".
That is a Leftist credo but where is the evidence for it? That it is a false statement could reasonably be concluded from the fact that many other initially disadvantaged minorities have in fact worked their way up to prosperity.
So is it racist to acknowledge reality? Leftists seem to think it is but everything they disagree with is racist to them so that tells us nothing. The scale results could in fact tell us that Trump voters are more open to reality.
One also wonders why results from only 4 out of the 8 items of the Symbolic Racism scale were presented. Were results from the other four less congenial to the beliefs of the writer?
But in any case the scale is known only to predict other attitudes, not any aspect of actual behaviour. The results below therefore tell us nothing firm
During the 2016 presidential campaign, many observers wondered exactly what motivated voters most: Was it income? Authoritarianism? Racial attitudes?
Let the analyses begin. Last week, the widely respected 2016 American National Election Study was released, sending political scientists into a flurry of data modeling and chart making.
The ANES has been conducted since 1948, at first through in-person surveys, and now also online, with about 1,200 nationally representative respondents answering some questions for about 80 minutes. This incredibly rich, publicly funded data source allows us to put elections into historical perspective, examining how much each factor affected the vote in 2016 compared with other recent elections.
Below, I’ll examine three narratives that became widely accepted about the 2016 election and see how they stack up against the ANES data.
The rich, the poor, and the in-between
The first narrative was about how income affected vote choice. Trump was said to be unusually appealing to low-income voters, especially in the Midwest, compared with recent Republican presidential nominees. True or false?
The ANES provides us data on income and presidential vote choice going back to 1948. To remove the effects of inflation and rising prosperity, I plot the percentage voting for the Republican presidential candidate relative to the overall sample, by where they rank in U.S. income, from the top to the bottom fifth. To most directly test the Donald Trump income hypothesis, I’ve restricted this analysis to white voters.
2016 was plainly an anomaly. While the wealthy are usually most likely to vote for the Republican, they didn’t this time; and while the poor are usually less likely to vote for the Republican, they were unusually supportive of Trump. And the degree to which the wealthy disdained the 2016 Republican candidate was without recent historical precedent.
Authoritarians or not?
Many commentators and social scientists wrote about how much about authoritarianism influenced voters. Authoritarianism, as used by political scientists, isn’t the same as fascism; it’s a psychological disposition in which voters have an aversion to social change and threats to social order. Since respondents might not want to say they fear chaos or are drawn to strong leadership, this disposition is measured by asking voters about the right way to rear children.
The next chart shows how white GOP presidential voters have answered these questions since 2000. As we can see, Trump’s voters appear a little less authoritarian than recent white Republican voters.
Did racism affect the voting?
Many observers debated how important Trump’s racial appeals were to his voters. During the campaign, Trump made overt racial comments, with seemingly little electoral penalty. Could the unusual 2016 race have further affected Americans’ racial attitudes?
To test this, I use what is called the “symbolic racism scale” to compare whites who voted for the Democratic presidential candidate with those who voted for the Republican. This scale measures racial attitudes among respondents who know that it’s socially unacceptable to say things perceived as racially prejudiced. Rather than asking overtly prejudiced questions — “do you believe blacks are lazy” — we ask whether racial inequalities today are a result of social bias or personal lack of effort and irresponsibility.....
Finally, the statistical tool of regression can tease apart which had more influence on the 2016 vote: authoritarianism or symbolic racism, after controlling for education, race, ideology, and age. Moving from the 50th to the 75th percentile in the authoritarian scale made someone about 3 percent more likely to vote for Trump. The same jump on the SRS scale made someone 20 percent more likely to vote for Trump.
Racial attitudes made a bigger difference in electing Trump than authoritarianism.
By JR on Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Liberalism and Low Self Esteem
The article below from late last year by Sean Last makes points that I have been making for many years -- though I allow that he expresses it better than I have. I think it was first in 2002 that I pointed out that Leftism is clearly motivated by ego needs. Leftism makes Leftists feel good -- as being wise and caring, whether or not they actually are, and mostly they are not. And Leftists are shallow enough to NEED that boost -- which is why they run away from any information that might undermine their half-baked policy preferences of the day.
But there is more than one source for Leftism and I have outlined many here. I actually think that the needy egos have hopped onto a train that had already been got rolling by others: The haters. As the huge demonstrations against Trump show, Leftists are huge haters. And their hate is primarily directed at the society in which they live. They want to destroy it, in the delusion that they can create a better society. So anybody who wants to make America great is anathema to them.
A better society can indeed be created. From the industrial revolution on, society has become richer and kinder and more capable of improving human lives. But none of that was done by Leftist policies of expropriation and destruction. It was done by the steady accumulation of human wisdom and ingenuity that a capitalist society enabled and produced. Other societies did well only insofar as they copied capitalist societies.
So the hatred that Leftists have for the society in which they live is at best impatient and at worst blind. There is much to criticize about modern society but Leftists want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. They fail to see that a better society is steadily evolving out of our existing society and that attacks on existing society are therefore attacks on the only hope for the future.
When Leftists do get the opportunity to mould a whole society into what they think is desirable, all we get are ghastly tyrannies like the Soviets, Mao's China, Pol Pot in Cambodia and the dead hand of Castro's Cuba.
But the hate thrives nonetheless. Why? It can have many causes. It can be a traditional hate for "the bosses" that we see in places like Scotland, it could come from some personal deprivation, like being born into a very poor family, or it could be the expression of a pathological personality. Karl Marx hated just about everyone and that is said to be because for most of his life he had painful boils on his butt.
But by far the most obvious source for a personality that is full of hate from birth onwards is psychopathy. I have in fact had academic journal articles published which report research into psychopathy so I have enough knowledge of psychopathy to see how startling are the parallels between psychopathy and Leftism. I go into details here
To summarize briefly, Psychopaths love only themselves and hate anyone who does not take them at their own high valuation of themselves and have no real morality or ethics whatsoever. They are masters of "faking good" -- of saying things that they think will make them look and sound good regardless of any truth in it. They lie at the drop of a hat. So they are very shallow thinkers. Only the here and now exists to them. I think that is a pretty good description of most prominent Leftists. Getting principles or even consistency out of a Leftist is a mug's game. They will say one thing one day and something else the next day. He/she will say anything that makes him/her look good on the given occasion. Obama's 180 degree turn on homosexual marriage is a good example of that. Or Bill Clinton's claim that Hillary was named after Sir Edmund, the Everest hero.
So that is where the needful ego guy comes in. He is not necessarily fully psychopathic but he shares the psychopath's need for praise and ego boosting. He jumps onto the psychopathic train being run by prominent Leftists. I set out here the reasons why the Clintons, Barack Obama and John Kerry are clear cases of psychopathy -- JR
In this post I am going to argue that one important reason why many people adopt a liberal political ideology is that it boosts their self esteem by allowing liberals to view themselves as noble warriors in a great battle against evil. There is a good deal of empirical data which is consistent with this theory. But I will also be making use of some evidence which is purely anecdotal. I fully recognize the limitations of such data. But I am still going to talk about it because it adds something meaningful to this theory.
The first question that needs answering is why liberals would need to increase their self-esteem in a way that conservatives do not. The answer is simple: liberals have less self esteem than conservatives to begin with. This is the conclusion of a 2012 paper published in the Journal of Research on Personality. The paper included two studies that found that liberals had lower self esteem than conservatives. The first study’s sample was moderate in size and consisted of college students. The second study made use of decades of data from the General Social Survey. The GSS is a large and highly representative survey that has been administered in the United States for over 40 years. Another paper published in 2014 replicated this finding in two more samples. Thus, the finding that liberals have low self esteem has been replicated several times, including one replication with an extremely high quality sample.
There is also experimental evidence showing that self esteem has a causal relation to liberalism. Researchers from Stanford have shown that causing people to feel especially good, or bad, about their looks influences their political beliefs and behavior. The researchers manipulated how people felt about themselves by asking them to recall incidents in which they felt either very attractive or very unattractive. When participants were made to feel good about themselves they became more likely to believe that social inequality was caused by individual differences in talent rather than by systemic forces outside of the individuals control. That is, they became more likely to endorse the conservative view on inequality. They also became less likely to donate to organizations aimed at lessening social inequality. When participants were made to feel poorly about themselves the opposite happened: they adopted a more liberal worldview and were more likely to donate to liberal groups.
So far we know that liberals have low self esteem and that having low self esteem causes people to be more liberal. There are at least two ways of looking at this. One way is to say that having low self esteem causes someone to be liberal because it makes it rational for them to favor equality. Equality helps everyone on the bottom half and that’s probably where you think you are if you have low self esteem. There’s clearly some truth to this narrative. But I believe that people with low self esteem will also be attracted to liberalism because being a liberal helps your self esteem a little bit. In particular, being a liberal lets you view yourself as a kind of moral hero waging a battle against dark and evil forces. Who doesn’t feel good about themselves while playing super hero?
The thing that initially caused me to think that liberalism boosts self esteem is the fact that liberals seem to be very proud of their political ideology. They want everyone to know about it. You can tell someone is liberal by the car they drive, the clothes they wear, and the food they eat. Non-liberals aren’t normally like this. I can’t look at someone and know whether they are a moderate, a conservative, a libertarian, etc. It’s only liberals that I can reliably spot on sight.
It also seems clear to me that morality is involved. Liberals are always crusading against something immoral. It’s never a simple factual disagreement. Conservatives are sexist, racist, homophobic, etc. And they hate the poor. Of course, many of these charges are ridiculous. For example, conservatives advocate the economic policies they do because they think that everyone will benefit from them. It has nothing to do with hating the poor. Notice that conservatives don’t respond in kind: conservatives don’t normally argue that liberals hate the poor, women, straight people or minorities, even though they think that liberal policies will negatively effect these groups.
Research by the moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt lends support to this theory. Haidt has developed surveys that ask people about their moral values. Early in his research Haidt found that liberals and conservatives tended to fill out these surveys differently. After replicating this finding several times Haidt did something pretty cool: he had liberals fill out the surveys as they imagined conservatives would and vice versa. Haidt found that conservatives were fairly accurate in their depictions of the moral values of liberals. But liberals were widely inaccurate in their view of conservative morality: they drastically underestimated how much conservatives cared about moral values like fairness and kindness. Haidt also had liberals fill out the surveys as if they were the average liberal and conservatives fill out the surveys as if they were the average conservative. Once again, conservatives were far more accurate than liberals. Liberals consistently over-estimated how much the average liberal cared about various moral values. And thus, Haidt showed that liberals irrationally view conservatives as immoral and view themselves as far more righteous than they actually are.
The behavior of liberals is also consistent with viewing them as moral crusaders. Pew polling shows that liberals are far more likely than conservatives to end a friendship with someone due to a political dispute. This is what we would expect from people who view the opposition as evil. Who wants to be friends with evil people?
I think this explains why liberals care so much about things that are offensive and don’t matter. If you want to feel morally superior to everyone around you, you can’t agree with them. And so you have to find things wrong with society which society won’t admit to. And so as time has gone on, liberals have had to invent increasingly ridiculous complaints about society. Consider transsexuals and people with autism. By even the most liberal estimates of transsexual prevalence, autism is about five times as common as trannies are. And no one could argue with the fact that autistic people have hard lives. But the left doesn’t generally care about people with autism because supporting autistic people isn’t offensive to most people. If the left launched a campaign to help autistic people most people would probably feel sorry for the mentally ill and agree with them. And then there would be no bogey men to wage war with. So the left concentrates on trannies instead. There are basically no trannies. And most of the few that do exist are clearly insane. So they are the perfect group for the left to champion. A lesser but similar case can be made about gay marriage. Being gay is rare, and almost no gays actually want to marry. But gay marriage is offensive to many people. So it is a great issue for the left. It creates lots of bogeymen.
I’ve found that this theory helps to explain a lot about how liberals debate. In my experience, liberals are more concerned with proving that I am evil than proving that I am wrong. (“The races differ in mean IQ scores.” … “You’re racist!”) I now think that this is because they can only grandstand by showing that I am evil. Showing that I am wrong won’t boost their self esteem the way that showing to the world that they are battling evil does.
In summary, studies show that liberals have low self esteem and that causing low self esteem causes people to be more liberal. Research also shows that liberals have unrealistically negative views of the morals of conservatives and unrealistically positive views of the morals of liberals. And polling shows that liberals are far more likely to break social ties with people over politics. They are moral crusaders. The fact that liberals want everyone to know that they are liberal, that they seem to purposefully pick offensive views, their debate style, and the fact that being morally superior normally feels pretty good, suggests to me that the moral crusading and the low self esteem are connected. Liberals are liberal so that they can say that society sucks, so that they can say that they are better than everyone else, so that they can feel a little less shitty about themselves.
By JR on Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Apex crime gang declared a 'non-entity' by Victoria Police
So all the people who reported being robbed and assaulted by Africans were colour-blind? Give us a break! Victoria police are notorious for cover-ups so the report below should be taken with a shaker full of salt. But you can to some extent read between the lines. Take this neat little utterance:
"Predominantly, a large cohort of that gang was in fact Australian-born offenders," Deputy Commissioner Patton said
Maybe they were. But who were their parents? Africans?
In any case, the problem is African crime, not one particular gang. And African crime is huge in Melbourne, as it is wherever there are Africans
Victoria Police have declared the Apex crime gang a "non-entity" saying it is no longer and never was predominantly African.
Giving evidence to a Parliamentary Inquiry into Migrant Settlement Outcomes, Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton said at its peak the gang consisted of about 130 people who loosely claimed to be members.
He said it was now in recession and was not made up of one or two ethnicities, but from people from a range of backgrounds. "Predominantly, a large cohort of that gang was in fact Australian-born offenders," Deputy Commissioner Patton said
Police said they now believed they had "broken the back" of the gang. "We have charged the leaders of that gang and imprisoned them," he said. "We would call them a non-entity in terms of a gang."
The spectre of Apex came to prominence at the Moomba riots in 2016, when youths ran amok in the CBD and thrust the idea of migrant crime to the forefront.
In its first incarnation, the gang was named after a Dandenong Street and was made up of South Sudanese and Pacific Islanders.
The inquiry is being chaired by Liberal MP, and former police officer, Jason Wood who has been outspoken about the so-called threat of Apex and migrant crime gangs in Melbourne and called for the Federal Government to crack down.
However, the inquiry heard after the Moomba riots it morphed into an all encompassing group loosely linked through social media.
Deputy Commissioner Patton said the carjackings, home invasions and jewellery store robberies that have plagued Melbourne are being carried out by criminals from all backgrounds. "Over 50 per cent of them are Australians," he repeated when questioned by Mr Wood.
Commander of Victoria Police's anti-gangs division, Peter De Santo, said there may be "some remnants" of the Apex gang but they have morphed into "networked offending" linked by social media.
He added that Middle Eastern crime gangs had recruited some "disadvantaged youth" but it was the exception to the rule.
By JR on Monday, April 17, 2017
Arctic meltdown: Sea and land ice are cracking up at a record pace (!)
I imagine that the figures below are all carefully cherrypicked in the usual Green/Left way but whether they are or not they are no disaster. As Archimdes discovered over 2,000 years ago, melting sea ice does NOT raise the water level. And the only substantial land mass in the Arctic is Greenland. And while there is some melting of Greenland coastal ice the interior icecap is and always has been stable. So it is only the coastal ice that could have some effect. But in a recent study it was projected to raise global sea levels by a whole 1.5 inches by 2100! So the shrieks of horror below are entirely without justification
The images from the Arctic ice death spiral are haunting. The impacts will be terrifying.
Driven by warming air and water temperatures, Arctic sea ice continues its death spiral. A big new crack has been found in a major outlet glacier of the Greenland ice sheet, whose disintegration is speeding up.
Last month set records for the lowest Arctic sea ice extent ever in March, as well as the lowest sea ice volume and lowest sea ice thickness.
The Pan-Arctic Ice Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (PIOMAS) at the University of Washington’s Polar Science Center provides monthly updates of Arctic sea ice volume. They using numerical modeling based on “observations from satellites, Navy submarines, moorings, and field measurements.”
Ice volume is determined by figuring out sea ice extent or surface area — and then factoring in the ice thickness.
The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) tracks sea ice extent with satellites, and this year has seen record lows set every month. Indeed, as this figure shows, sea ice extent has been unusually flat over the last three months, which is normally a time of significant refreezing.
But not only has sea ice extent been setting records for months, so has sea ice thickness.
Arctic sea ice is in a state of meltdown, and at some point soon will simply become too thin and fragmented to be called an “ice cap.”
Significantly, what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. Arctic amplification drives more extreme weather in North America, while accelerating the defrosting of carbon-rich permafrost, which releases CO2 and methane that each cause faster warming — a dangerous amplifying feedback.
Earth’s melting permafrost threatens to unleash a dangerous climate feedback loop
In addition, as the sea ice disappears and Arctic warming speeds up, that causes faster melting of the land-based Greenland ice sheet, which in turn causes faster sea level rise. A recent study found that Greenland ice mass loss has tripled since 1997.
So perhaps it’s not totally surprising that, as the Washington Post reported, “Scientists just found a strange and worrying crack in one of Greenland’s biggest glaciers.”
The implications of the ice cracking up at an accelerating rate are terrifying for humanity. The images created by it are haunting.
By JR on Sunday, April 16, 2017
Donald Trump and the Nature of Victory
Sean Gabb is an English libertarian/conservative but there are notoriously as many versions of libertarianism as there are libertarians. So I do not wholly agree with his points below. But the strength of Libertarianism is its ability to generate fresh pespectives -- and Gabb certainly provides that below. He thinks that Trump may go off the rails in some ways but his rise to power shows the way for future liberty-oriented politicians. Pure libertarianism will not do. You need to combine libertarianism with an appeal to national pride, national self-interest and anti-elitism. I think he is right
Since I am pushing myself into a debate between foreigners, I must begin by explaining myself. I am not an American, and do not wish to be one. I do not live in America, and do not wish to live there. The only country I love and know well is England. This being said, I have an obvious right of audience in the debate on Donald Trump. England and America share a language. Any impartial observer looking at the two countries will see two ruling classes, almost joined at the hip, facing two subject peoples whose assumptions about the good life and how it may be promoted largely overlap. If the relationship is unbalanced by an inequality of size and wealth, what happens in either country has an inescapable effect on what happens in the other. Rules of politeness that hold me from commenting on affairs in France or Germany do not apply to America. Here, then, are my thoughts on what has happened in America during the past week.
I am disturbed my Mr Trump’s apparent breaking of his election promises. He promised no more interventions in the Middle East. He has attacked Government forces in Syria, and on grounds that seem dubious in themselves. He promised better relations with Russia. These relations now seem lower than they were when Mr Obama was the American President. He denounced NATO as “obsolete.” He is now happy with NATO. American healthcare is not my proper concern. But it is worth observing, in the light of his foreign policy, that he seemed to promise his working class supporters a system less dominated by entrenched special interests. It is a mercy, I am told by friends whose judgement I trust, that his only attempt at reform was frustrated.
It may be that he has no intention of keeping his promises. Perhaps he never had any intention of keeping them. Perhaps he has seen the scale of resistance to what he promised, and has given up. Or it may be that he is playing some clever game, and will, once more, come out unexpectedly triumphant. I think it will take a year to know the truth beyond reasonable doubt. For the moment, however, I will assume the former possibility. I first voted in a general election in 1979, and paid close attention, over the next decade, to a woman [Margaret Thatcher] who, in breach of every actual or implied promise, made my country more regulated, more heavily taxed, more diverse, more subservient to foreign interests, and generally more enslaved than she found it. Ronald Reagan followed roughly the same course. It strikes me as more likely than not that Mr Trump is now doing the same.
If so, this would be a disappointment. But it is no cause for despair. 2017 is not the early 1980s. The differences go far beyond changes of fashion and an updating of lies. They are roughly as follows:
First, Mrs Thatcher and Mr Reagan took up the rhetoric of market liberalism. Many of us looked at the chapter headings, and assumed the promise was of radical deregulation and a general penumbra of changes that seemed to follow from this. We ignored the main text, or the alternative meanings that could be placed on words. I realised what was happening earlier than most. Even I took till after the 1983 general election to understand that the real agenda was one of corporatism and the beginnings of a police state. It took me longer still to see that this would be a politically correct police state.
The rhetoric that Donald Trump took up in his campaign was of populism – and a populism that took account of all that had been done to his country since about 1980 or before. There is no unread text in the promises he made. His words have no alternative meanings. He promised an end to foreign intervention, and an end to political correctness, and an end to domination by special interests. After a very short time – and, I grant again, that this short time may not yet be over – broken promises stand out as plainly as a wrong in arithmetic.
Second, in the 1980s, we faced a narrative constructed and maintained from the centre. There was a centralised media that allowed only certain issues to be discussed, and that ensured they were discussed only in certain ways. This is not to say that control of the media was monolithic. Debates were lively, and even acrimonious. But important facts were often withheld, and the public was encouraged to look at those facts that were published through various kinds of partisan lens that kept the truth from being perceived. Of equal and associated importance, the media in those days were organised to broadcast from the centre to the periphery. They did little to enable a conversation between the centre and the periphery, and conversations within the periphery were localised and compartmentalised. What has happened since then is too obvious to need describing. When Mr Trump ordered those missiles to be launched, Facebook and Twitter and the blogs began an unmanaged and unmanageable debate in which ordinary people could discuss in public whether and to what extent they had been lied to.
Third, and following from the above, Mr Trump’s supporters have the advantage of hindsight. I will boast again that I rumbled Mrs Thatcher earlier than most. Even so, it took years for it to dawn on me fully that she was fronting an elaborate fraud – or, at least, a mistake. Here, I speak from English experience, though I believe it was much the same in America. The Enemy she and her friends pointed us toward was a coalition of pro-Soviet union leaders and alleged degenerates. The remedy involved vast military spending, and an attack on the working class, and things like the prepublication censorship of video recordings. The actual enemy was a coalition of university graduates who wore suits, had at best a lingering taste for Marxism-Leninism, were not hostile to certain kinds of corporate enterprise, were out of love with the social liberalism of the 1960s, and whose own agenda can be summarised as political correctness plus the constable. Whether or not they noticed these people until it was too late, the Thatcherites did nothing to stop them, and tended to promote them. The rest of us were encouraged to laugh now and again at their linguistic tricks – and then go back to fretting over Arthur Scargill’s plan to make England into a copy of East Germany.
Nowadays, we know exactly who the Enemy is. These people run education and the media, and criminal justice and the administration, and most of big business. If they are not perfectly united, they stand together in a project to make the rest of us into denatured tax serf-consumers. Just because some of them work in the formally private sector does not make them into friends of private enterprise. Just because some of them want to make pornography illegal does not make them into social conservatives.
Fourth, and again following from the above, the Enemy is getting old. When I was a student, these people were in their thirties or my own age. They had a messianic belief in their own self-righteousness, and considerable networking abilities. Most of us, on the other hand, were old farts, pining for the 1950s, or semi-autistic libertarians, prepared to shun each other for taking a wrong view of the non-aggression principle. Those who were neither were chancers or shills. Hardly surprising if we were shoved aside or simply ignored.
The Enemy is now old and discredited. The successor generation is stuffed with mediocrities. The new generation of dissidents is young and not particularly bound by considerations of ideological purity. Open borders? Shut them! Socialised healthcare? If our own working classes want it, let it be! Trade policy? Whatever is politically useful! The managerial state? Shut down what we cannot take over; what we can take over use before we shut it down! Though I wrote one of its early texts, I am not sure if I qualify for membership of the Alternative Right. But I recognise quality when I see it. None of my old friends ever made the Enemy hysterical with fright. None of us ever reduced the Enemy to a laughing stock. I doubt if we ever did much, beyond voting for them, to help our clay-footed idols get elected.
The two big events of 2016 were the British Referendum and the election of Donald Trump. For a moment, it looked as if with a bound, we were free. We are now finding that not all may be as it then seemed. At the same time, those elections were won. They were won explicitly as rejections of the present order of things. Unlike in the 1980s, the correlation of forces is on our side. If Donald Trump sells out, that is unfortunate. But there will be other chances.
By JR on Saturday, April 15, 2017
More on politics and IQ
Further to my recent comments on IQ, someone has drawn my attention to a 2014 article by Noah Carl. Carl recently came to attention for his articles on Leftism among academics. I had some comments on that on March 5 and on March 17. Carl is clearly something of a bad boy from a Leftist perspective. The 2014 journal article is as follows:
Cognitive ability and party identity in the United States (2014)
Carl (2014) analysed data from the U.S. General Social Survey (GSS), and found that individuals who identify as Republican have slightly higher verbal intelligence than those who identify as Democrat. An important qualification was that the measure of verbal intelligence used was relatively crude, namely a 10-word vocabulary test. This study examines three other measures of cognitive ability from the GSS: a test of probability knowledge, a test of verbal reasoning, and an assessment by the interviewer of how well the respondent understood the survey questions. In all three cases, individuals who identify as Republican score slightly higher than those who identify as Democrat; the unadjusted differences are 1-3 IQ points, 2-4 IQ points and 2-3 IQ points, respectively. Path analyses indicate that the associations between cognitive ability and party identity are largely but not totally accounted for by socio-economic position: individuals with higher cognitive ability tend to have better socio-economic positions, and individuals with better socio-economic positions are more likely to identify as Republican. These results are consistent with Carl's (2014) hypothesis that higher intelligence among classically liberal Republicans compensates for lower intelligence among socially conservative Republicans.
So what are we to make of it? Let us first compare it with two papers by the indefatigable Ian Deary. Deary has access to some very well sampled British databases so is in a position to report highly generalizable results:
Childhood intelligence predicts voter turnout, voting preferences, and political involvement in adulthood: The 1970 British Cohort Study (2008)
Ian J. Deary
Little is known about the association between measured intelligence and how people participate in democratic processes. In the 1970 British Cohort Study, we examined the association between childhood intelligence and, at age 34: whether and how people voted in the 2001 UK general election; how they intended to vote; and whether they had taken part in other political activities. People with higher childhood intelligence were more likely to vote in the 2001 election (38% increased prevalence per SD increase in intelligence), and were more likely to vote for the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats (49% and 47% increased prevalence per SD increase in intelligence, respectively). The intelligence-Green party voting association was largely accounted for by occupational social class, the intelligence-Liberal Democrat voting association was not. Similar associations between intelligence and preference for the Green Party or Liberal Democrats were found as regards voting intentions, but neither of these associations was accounted for by occupational social class. People with higher childhood intelligence were more likely to take part in rallies and demonstrations, and to sign petitions, and expressed a greater interest in politics (40%, 65%, 33%, and 58% increased prevalence per SD increase in intelligence, respectively).
Bright Children Become Enlightened Adults (2008)
Ian J. Deary
We examined the prospective association between general intelligence (g) at age 10 and liberal and antitraditional social attitudes at age 30 in a large (N = 7,070), representative sample of the British population born in 1970. Statistical analyses identified a general latent trait underlying attitudes that are antiracist, proworking women, socially liberal, and trusting in the democratic political system. There was a strong association between higher g at age 10 and more liberal and antitraditional attitudes at age 30; this association was mediated partly via educational qualifications, but not at all via occupational social class. Very similar results were obtained for men and women. People in less professional occupations-and whose parents had been in less professional occupations-were less trusting of the democratic political system. This study confirms social attitudes as a major, novel field of adult human activity that is related to childhood intelligence differences.
So in the first Deary study above we find that high IQ British voters did lean Left but they leant towards minority Leftist parties, not the major Leftist party, the Labour party. The Labour party has some repellent union associations so may have been seen as unattractive for that reason. The two minor parties, however, come across as high-minded.
The second study looked at the correlates of attitudes rather than vote. And ever since LaPiere in the 1930s we have known that attitudes are at best only weakly related to behaviour. Deary found greater social liberalism among high IQ people.
And so we come to Carl's 2014 American study. GOP identifiers were found to be slightly brighter on average than Democrat identifiers.
It is of course perfectly possible and reasonable that trends in Britain might not be reflected in the USA -- and vice versa. That would seem to be the case here. But note that in no case is the major Leftist party favoured. But the association between vote and IQ was in any case weak so IQ is clearly a very minor factor in determining vote. As I have often argued, it is a miserable personality that makes you Leftist. See, for instance, here
By JR on Friday, April 14, 2017
Will N.E. Asia eclipse Caucasians by the end of this century?
It seems obvious that they will. Japan and S. Korea are already rich and influential countries and China is just getting into its stride -- while economic growth rates in Europe and America are very sluggish.
And something I notice because I read a lot of academic journal articles across several disciplines is that there always seems to be an East Asian among the list of authors. There are very few single-author papers these days. So East Asians are already there at the heart of Western science. How soon will it be before the corresponding (main) author usually has an Asian name?
Prophecy is a mug's game unless it is based on clear extrapolations from the past and present and even then "Black Swan" events can upset the applecart. But we are all interested in the future so at least we can attempt informed opinions. My opinion is that China will once again be the centre of the world by the end of this century. So I want to look at why I might be wrong. No Leftist ever seems to do that but it is certainly in line with conservative caution.
An obvious factor is the law of diminishing returns and the ogive curve that seems to describe most variations in biological phenomena. Apologies for that bit of academic-speak but it will become VERY clear if we look at Japan. For about 4 decades after WWII, Japan astonished the world by it huge economic growth rates. It leapt to some sort of parity with European countries very rapidly and European countries were growing richer at that time too.
But it did not continue. It just about hit a brick wall. Japan has had negligible growth for around a couple of decades now. A statistician might say that Japanese economic growth has approached an asymptote. And lots of things do approach an asymptote. It is normal for natural processes to have limits on how far they can change. So Japan will almost certainly never again see high rates of economic growth. It will probably stay on some sort of parity with Western countries but may never get further than that. Could that happen to China too? It is clearly possible.
It is also possible that the USA could get steam up again. Under Obama, huge numbers of Americans left the workforce, middle incomes stagnated and business was ever more tightly strangled by regulations. But that already seems to be going into reverse under Trump. And it's early days yet. The more Uncle Sam gets his fingers out of business, the more the economy is likely to grow. And in my reading we are in fact due for a boom under Trump.
It would be too much of a diversion to tackle the arguments of economists against Trumpenomics but let me just note that Trump does have an economics degree and America thrived mightily behind high tariff walls in the 19th century.
So if America booms again, it might be very difficult for N.E. Asia to keep up, let alone excel.
A standard criticism of E. Asians is that they are not creative. They just use well what others have invented. That might seem like stupid old racism but some recent work in genetics gives it some substance. And it is in part the work of that intrepid outspeaker, Edward Dutton -- a Briton who has been "exiled" to Northern Finland. Maybe he just likes cold climates. His latest paper that I know of (2015) is below:
Why do Northeast Asians win so few Nobel Prizes?
Kenya Kura, Jan te Nijenhuis & Edward Dutton
Most scientific discoveries have originated from Europe, and Europeans have won 20 times more Nobel Prizes than have Northeast Asians. We argue that this is explained not by IQ, but by interracial personality differences, underpinned by differences in gene distribution. In particular, the variance in scientific achievement is explained by differences in inquisitiveness (DRD4 7-repeat), psychological stability (5HTTLPR long form), and individualism (mu-opioid receptor gene; OPRM1 G allele ). Northeast Asians tend to be lower in these psychological traits, which we argue are necessary for exceptional scientific accomplishments. Since these traits comprise a positive matrix, we constructed a q index (measuring curiosity) from these gene frequencies among world populations. It is found that both IQ scores and q index contribute significantly to the number of per capita Nobel Prizes.
Linking Nobel prizes to genetics is undoubtedly clever and impressive so my objections to their conclusions are rather weak. My objections may however be right. The key statistic in their results is the variance explained by their q factor and IQ combined. It is only 19%. Many other factors could be at work.
And an obvious factor is history. Nobel prizes are normally awarded late in the Nobelist's life. And for something like 98% of the time over which Nobels have been awarded, China had not even got its boots on academically. Among those Asian co-authors of academic papers today may be a majority of the Nobelists of tomorrow. In other words, the criterion for achievement -- a Nobel -- may be too narrow. I believe it is.
So where does that leave us? All things considered, I suppose the future will be a lot like the present, with the new ideas coming mainly from people of N.W. European ancestry (including Russians, Britons and Americans) and Asia implementing those ideas even more effectively than we do.
I am still vastly impressed by China, however. My only visit to China was many years ago but my son has been to China a couple of times on problem-solving missions and I have Sinophilic friends. All tell me that China already dazzles in many ways. My son is a software engineer and his verdict from contact with them is that the Chinese are unbeatable. I am inclined to agree. I am inclined to think that China will eventually pull ahead of the USA in most ways. But I am also of the view that the USA will remain an indispensable second place-getter in many ways.
By JR on Thursday, April 13, 2017
Study offers a dire warning on climate change
They're getting cautious: New prophecy tells of the 23rd century, so is unfalsifiable to us.
There is much to amuse in it in addition to the postponed disaster date. For many years, Warmists claimed that it would be the clap of doom when we reached 400ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere We have now arrived there and nothing has happened. Thor/Zeus/Jehovah seems to have put away his thunderbolts. So now 900ppm is the new arbitrarily chosen level of doom.
And the whole article depends for its estimates of the levels of CO2 and the effect of CO2 on what other Warmists have written. The authors get their estimate of climate sensitivity by using that given in previous studies. So there is no new data in the paper at all. It is just an exercise in climate theology
But they makes some pesky admissions along the way. They say that the historical trend is for CO2 levels to FALL. See their graph below. So if CO2 is a danger, we have got history on our side
I add the journal abstract to the summary article below
Continuing to burn fossil fuels at the current rate could bring atmospheric carbon dioxide to its highest concentration in 50 million years, jumping from about 400 parts per million now to more than 900 parts per million by the end of this century, a study warns.
And if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated beyond that point, the climate could reach a warming state that hasn’t been seen in the past 420 million years.
Some research suggests that, if humans burned through all fossil fuels on Earth, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations could hit 5,000 parts per million by the year 2400.
The new study speaks to the power of human influence over the climate. It suggests that after millions of years of relative stability in the absence of human activity, just a few hundred years of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are on track to cause unprecedented warming.
To come to these grim conclusions, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers constructed a continuous record of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations spanning the last 420 million years. They created the record by compiling more than 1,500 estimates of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations drawn from 112 published studies.
According to lead author Gavin Foster, a geochemistry professor at the University of Southampton, those estimates were constructed mainly using the carbon isotope composition of ancient soil samples or examining the abundance of pores on the leaves of fossilized plants, an indicator of how much carbon dioxide was available for them to draw from the air while they were alive.
The findings suggest that, until humans started rapidly burning fossil fuels with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, Earth’s climate had been relatively stable for millions of years, and carbon dioxide concentrations were declining. Thanks to the human emission of greenhouse gases, though, that’s all changing at a record-breaking pace.
Current concentrations of CO2 emissions are at their highest in human history, hovering around 400 parts per million and continuing to rise. Before the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide concentrations had settled into an average of about 280 parts per million.
On a business-as-usual pathway — in which greenhouse gas emissions would continue at their current rate — carbon dioxide concentrations would hit a level that hasn’t been seen in 50 million years, according to the research.
The warming that will be brought on by the continued emission of greenhouse gases will only be compounded by an increase in solar radiation as the sun continues to grow brighter, the researchers said.
A business-as-usual trajectory suggests that carbon dioxide levels could exceed 2,000 parts per million by the year 2250, concentrations that were last seen about 200 million years ago. But thanks to the combined influence of a hotter future sun, the planet’s resulting warming will probably be greater than at almost any point in the past 420 million years.
Additionally, at least one study has suggested that concentrations could be as high as 5,000 parts per million by 2400 if humans were to burn through all the fossil fuels on Earth, and that would result in both the highest carbon dioxide levels and the highest temperatures seen in the study period.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has presented estimates of how much the Earth might warm under a business-as-usual trajectory over certain time periods. It suggests that by 2300, the Earth could warm by nearly 48 degrees Fahrenheit. But there are many factors that could affect temperature trends in the long-term that remain uncertain, Foster suggested, such as changes in terrestrial vegetation or the amount of carbon dioxide the ocean has room to absorb in the coming centuries.
As a result, he said, long-term warming could end up being even more intense than we estimate now.
The study helps address a kind of paradox in the Earth’s climate history. Based on our knowledge of the way stars generate energy, scientists know that our solar system’s young sun would have been much dimmer millions of years ago. Over time, its intensity has increased, and is likely to continue doing so for millions or even billions of years.
If the sun has been getting hotter for millions of years, though, then one would expect the planet’s climate to have steadily warmed during that time, as well, Foster noted. But there is ample evidence from the fossil record to suggest the planet’s climate actually remained mostly stable for millions of years before humans began burning fossil fuels. Scientists have hypothesized that this stability came from a long-term reduction in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, which offset the warming caused by a brightening sun.
The new study supports this idea. The researchers’ record suggests that, while there have been fluctuations throughout history, the long-term average carbon dioxide concentration generally declined until the Industrial Revolution as a result of natural processes related to the formation of Earth. Thanks to human activity, carbon dioxide levels are rising again, on track to break millennial-scale records if mitigation efforts aren’t undertaken, the study says.
Foster emphasizes the new historical record is not perfect. But as far as we know, future warming “is going to be unprecedented.’’
Future climate forcing potentially without precedent in the last 420 million years
Gavin L. Foster et al.
The evolution of Earth’s climate on geological timescales is largely driven by variations in the magnitude of total solar irradiance (TSI) and changes in the greenhouse gas content of the atmosphere. Here we show that the slow ∼50 Wm−2 increase in TSI over the last ∼420 million years (an increase of ∼9 Wm−2 of radiative forcing) was almost completely negated by a long-term decline in atmospheric CO2. This was likely due to the silicate weathering-negative feedback and the expansion of land plants that together ensured Earth’s long-term habitability. Humanity’s fossil-fuel use, if unabated, risks taking us, by the middle of the twenty-first century, to values of CO2 not seen since the early Eocene (50 million years ago). If CO2 continues to rise further into the twenty-third century, then the associated large increase in radiative forcing, and how the Earth system would respond, would likely be without geological precedent in the last half a billion years.
Nature Communications 8, Article number: 14845 (2017)doi:10.1038/ncomms14845