Author Archives: Brandon Shollenberger


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.
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This is a Bit More Rambly Than Normal

A person on Twitter suggested a recent paper might be of interest to me due to its use (or believed misuse) of statistics. I wasn't going to talk about it, but while reading it, I saw this line:

When it comes to the impact of AGW seriousness and existence beliefs on environmental attitudes and partisan identity, Republicans would be expected to be more likely to engage in motivated reasoning than Democrats.

I can't ignore that. This isn't about statistics. I'm not even going to talk about math today. Today, I'm going to just talk about some basic matters of logic. Because honestly, if you think one side of an argument is more likely to engage in motivated reason than your side, you probably need to rethink the fundamentals of your views.
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I shave with a shavette. It's basically a straight edge razor that uses disposable blades. I like it. I find it gives a close shave much like that of a straight edge without having to deal with all the fuss of maintaining the sharp blade. I've loved using one since the first day I tried one, and I've never regretted switching to them. Until today.

I have a long history with wasps. I've had encounters where a wasp ignored other people walking by but attacked me the moment I came near. I don't know what it is, but it's been a source of amusement for my family since I was a kid. Combine that with bad reactions to wasps, and I am somewhat paranoid about them.

I'm usually not worried they'll kill me though. My throat doesn't close up when I'm stung or anything like that. The last time I got stung a wasp got me on my ankle. I couldn't walk for three days. Now I hear that dreaded buzzing sound and I... react poorly.

This isn't just some random, embarrassing thing I'm sharing. Today, a wasp was hiding in my bathroom. It waited until I was halfway done shaving to attack. I didn't see the thing until it was a few inches from my face. I was holding a razor blade to my throat.

I think I'm switching to disposable blades from here on. Can anyone recommend a good brand?

The Meaning of Yellow

I recently ran a post about "building bridges" with people with whom you do not get along. The discussion it provoked was interesting, with several people showing up to effectively demonstrate why attempts at finding common ground and building bridges can fail. Yesterday, I had a similar experience when I commnted at The Blackboard. It might be my fault as I am told:

You might want to think about how hostile and petty your contributions sound from the get go.

I'll admit I can be hostile and petty at times. As such, I won't rule out the possibility that statement is accurate. People who care can judge for themselves how petty and hostile this comment is:

I happened to see this post and felt I needed to point something out. I get the analysis in this post is hypothetical, but I feel it is important to note Oregon doesnt require a car clear an intersection to avoid being given a ticket for running a red light. I dont know of any state which does. There may be some, but in the case of Oregon, you only run a red light if you enter the intersection after the light has already turned red.
I couldnt find Jarlstons analysis with a quick search so Im not sure what assumptions he used, but based on the formula this post provides for his analysis, it would appear he has made a non-trivial error. The W/v term should not be included in any analysis of yellow light timing in Oregon.
For what its worth, I tried searching for states where this scenario accurately describes the traffic laws. I couldnt find any. Someone else might be able to. If not, it would appear all red light cameras (in the United States, at least) are triggered only if a car has entered the intersection after a light turns red.
Incidentally, red light cameras generally have a small grace period between the light turning red and them starting to trigger. Ive found reports of them ranging from .1-.3 seconds. I dont know if thats worth including in ones analysis.

As well as the tone of the follow-up comment I posted 15 minutes later:

As a quick follow-up, I found this document providing detail on the analysis in question. I see I was mistaken to say that term shouldnt be included in timing of yellow lights. The reason Mat Jarlston includes that term is because it is relevant for safety purposes. You want vehicles in an intersection while on red to clear the intersection before the next green light comes on.
That just has nothing to do with running red lights. You only get a ticket for it if the light is red when you enter the intersection. If you cant safely stop at a yellow light, you shouldnt get a ticket for running a red light.

I don't think these comments exhibit a great deal of pettiness and hostility. Maybe readers will disagree. I'm not going to worry about that in this post. You see, I've become a bit fascinated by the subject matter discussed in those comments. Originally, I only spent a little time researching this topic. When I wrote those comments, I thought they'd just be taken as a minor point of interest that wouldn't go anywhere.

That wasn't the case. Because of how the discussion played out, I wound up spending quite a bit more time reading up on traffic lights. I even talked to a couple family members who are over for the holiday weekend about traffic lights in a casual discussion. What I came to realize is there is a lot of justified uncertainty and confusion about what traffic lights mean. Given that, today I'd like to discuss a simple question, "What does a yellow light mean?"
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This is not "Proof"

I came across an interesting story on Mark Steyn's website a couple days ago when looking for a quotation I had considered including in my recent eBook. The story caught my eye because it was about a man supposedly being poisoned, and, well, murder intrigue is intriguing. Here is what Steyn said happened:

Robert Spencer, the author of several bestselling books on Islam, a brave crusader against the dopier multiculti illusions and the proprietor of the indispensable Jihad Watch, gave a speech at the Grand Hotel, went to unwind at dinner afterwards, and was poisoned by a social-justice warrior.

That's a sexy story to share. Naturally, such a sexy story becomes less sexy as one examines it. Continue reading