Author Archives: Brandon Shollenberger

Red is Red, Blue is Blue

I'm supposed to have another post about mathematics going up today, but I can't figure out how to write it. I have all the calculations done, but some good news over the last couple weeks has left me in too energetic a mood to write about slow, detailed stuff. Rather than skip posting, I thought I'd do something different. Here is a recent headline:

Climate denial is like The Matrix; more Republicans are choosing the red pill

Based on that headline, what do you think the article would say? Specifically, how would a person make this comparison work? Continue reading

Internet Issues

I was meaning to have a new post up yesterday, but I've been experiencing some internet problems. Using a satellite uplink for internet is never ideal, and storms only make thins worse. That's not the reason for today's post though. Today's post is about something strange I've noticed over the last few days.

You see, I have a cell phone which I can use as an internet hotspot. The cost of data on it is high enough I don't like to use it that way too often, but it's a valuable backup. Most of the time. This week, it has been all but useless.

I normally set the hotspot up in my room in the same place because that's where my phone charger is plugged in. This week, my phone gets no internet service there. If I move the phone to the far side of the room, which is furthest from the nearest cell phone tower (I confirmed this via mapping), I get a connection. Sometimes. Depending on where I put it on the other side of the room, it can lose the internet connection anywhere from every 10 minutes to every 30 seconds.

I get many different factors play a role in signal strength, but I'm at a loss as to what factors are changing every 30 seconds. Even stranger, when the connection goes out in one spot, I can often move the phone to a different spot and get a connection yet not have a connection if I return it to the previous location.

I'm not sure what's going on, but it was a strange enough experience I thought I'd share. Hopefully I can resume normal posting over the weekend.

Just Doing Some Math

People familiar with my writing know I have discussed work by a man named Stephan Lewandowsky quite a bit. The short version of the discussion is he has behaved unethically, published false statements and, most importantly generated bogus results by misusing what is relatively simple mathematics.

I'm not the only person to say such, but the discussion has been spread out across many locations over several years. Today, I'd like to start working on collecting the information into a single resource by beginning with a discussion of the gross misuse of simple statistics.

Whatever one may believe about Lewandowsky and his behavior, the indisputable truth is the methodology he relied upon to publish several papers fabricates results because f how he misused it. Results he published are completely and utterly without merit.
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Happy Independence Day... Sort Of

Hey guys. As you all know, today is a holiday celebrating the independence of the United States. This means explosions, grilled food and whatnot. What it doesn't mean is that today was the day the United States became independent.

I'm not going to go into a lot of detail as I plan on enjoying some grilled hamburgers shortly, I just want to spread a little awareness of something I feel is important: The United States gained its legal independence On July 2nd, 1776. That is the date the Second Continent Congress voted to declare independence for what became the United States of America.

What makes this particularly interesting is people celebrate on July 4th because that is the date on the Declaration of Independence. That is interesting because historians generally believe the Declaration of Independence wasn't actually signed on July 4th, but rather, August 2nd. The evidence supports that idea even though Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson all claimed to have signed it on July 4th later in their lives. The presumption is that they themselves fell into the same trap everyone else has.

I don't know what the truth is. Maybe the Declaration of Independence truly was signed on July 4th, 1776. Maybe not. What's incredible is nobody knows for sure. Americans have celebrated Independence Day on July 4th for over two hundred years not because that is the day the nation became independent (it isn't), but because that's the date listed on a piece of paper, a date which may well be wrong.

I think that's kind of incredible. What I also think is incredible is the smell of what, if I'm not mistaken, are grilled peaches. I'm going to go check. I hope you all have a good July 4th, whatever the day may mean to you.

(Back With) More Junk Science

You guys may have noticed I've been a bit absent from this web site. You'd be wrong. I've been absent from this web page, but I've actually been quite active on the site itself. If you don't get the distinction, I'm just being pedantic. The point is I've been caught up with my birthday and some projects that didn't involve blogging. It was a nice break.

Unfortunately, this break was ruined by a man named Sander van der Linden. I was hoping to extend my break a little longer despite his interruption, but then I saw this tweet of his:

The person he is referring to is Stephan Lewandowsky. I couldn't ignore that tweet so I responded:

Which is about as brief a summary as one could give of Lewandowsky's work. He asked one group of people what they thought about conspiracies, and when they laughed at those conspiracies, he took that as proving a different group embraced those conspiracies. It makes absolutely no sense as a methodology, and it was only possible because Lewandowsky misused basic mathematical analyses in an stupendously stupid way.

That doesn't really have anything to do with today's post. Today's post is about a talk Dr. Sander gave. I bring up the Lewandwosky issue for three reasons: 1) It annoys me a completely bogus methodology which can fabricate results from no data is happily embraced by the field of social psychology; 2) Dr. Sander is acquainted/associated with a number of the people who use this methodology; 3) Dr. Sander's talk is every bit as nonsensical as what Lewandowsky did.
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I had a bit of a bad day today, culminating in a low speed bumper to bumper collision involving my Prius. The damage wasn't too severe, and because the bumper is plastic, I think I should be able to fix the dent by hand. I think some boiling water and pressure in the right spots will be enough to get things back in line. But still, the day was sucky.

Until some company stopped by and brightened my day. Continue reading

This Might be Pointless, but...

As you guys may remember, last month I asked "What Should a Person Do?" when confronted with a situation where authors of a paper published something they knew to be false. I still don't have a good answer, but today, I took one step in potentially addressing the issue by contacting the journal of the paper this particular example was published in. I thought I'd post it here as well so people could see. Maybe I should have done that first so I could get feedback?
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Splicing, Right or Wrong

An issue I discussed in my recent eBook is how Mark Steyn, widely admired figure within the Skeptic community, claims Michael Mann spliced instrumental temperature records onto his (in)famous hockeystick to cover up the fact proxy temperatures (estimated from things like tree rings) were going down. I discussed this because that claim is entirely false.

However, that Mann did not do this does not mean other people have not done it. I was recently surprised to see it is, in fact, an accepted practice within the paleoclimate community these days. This surprised me because years back when a user said:

Whatever the reason for the divergence, it would seem to suggest that the practice of grafting the thermometer record onto a proxy temperature record – as I believe was done in the case of the ‘hockey stick’ – is dubious to say the least.

Apparently holding the same incorrect belief as Steyn (misinformation tends to spread when nobody corrects errors like Steyn's), Mann responded:

No researchers in this field have ever, to our knowledge, "grafted the thermometer record onto" any reconstruction. It is somewhat disappointing to find this specious claim (which we usually find originating from industry-funded climate disinformation websites) appearing in this forum.

Mann said this in late 2004 so I can't fault him for being unaware of what would happen after 2010, but given the response Mann shows to this accusation, I find it strange this practice would be an accepted one a mere ten years later. Plus, I thought it was interesting nobody has pointed out any recent examples of it happening despite at least one being easy to find.
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I Can't Deal With This Today

I try to follow people with a range of views on Twitter so I can be exposed to ideas I might not otherwise consider. I've had a bit of trouble with that as a number of the people I'd follow for this reason have blocked me. I'd love to get some recommendations. I'd just like if not all of those recommendations post stupid stuff like this:

I don't follow that user, but a person I do follow retweeted that. Its claim was eye-catching so I took a look at the link. I wish I hadn't. I can't deal with this sort of nonsense today.
Continue reading