Author Archives: Brandon Shollenberger

It's the Laziness That Gets Me

There's a lot that can be said about the inanity of hit pieces one finds in the media nowadays. One can moralize about the rise in partisanship and whatnot, but what gets me isn't the close-mindedness. It's the stupidity. What I've come to realize is as people become less willing to consider views which differ from theirs, they become less capable of spotting errors.

I think that's why hit pieces are rarely intelligent. I'm not opposed to hit pieces in principle. I am just bothered at how bad a job people do of and with them. For instance, this new article by Michael Mann and Bob Ward in the Guardian is incredibly terrible.
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It's Not the Dishonesty That Gets Me, It's the Stupidity

I wasn't planning on following up my post from last week, but I saw another tweet by the author I criticized in it today, and I couldn't resist clicking the link to a new story he wrote:

The author in question, José Duarte, is really starting to weird me out. It's not that he keeps saying things which are untrue. I'm used to people doing that. It's not even that he says things which are obviously untrue. I'm used to people doing that too. What weirds me out is he keeps saying things anyone who looks at what he refers to would immediately see are false.

I can come up with explanations for dissembling. I can come up with explanations for lying. What I can't figure out is how to explain lying in a way everyone can easily recognize as lying. If you're going to say untrue things, shouldn't you at least try to hide it?
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So I Was in an Accident...

I drove my car into a ditch a fwe hours ago. It was only by good fortune there were no injuries. Things could have been much worse. This worries me as I think the intersection itself guarantees people will result in people doing exactly what I did. I'm going to try to write some thoughts on this tonight while everything is fresh.

To summarize what I'm going to say, I will offer two contentions. 1) A standard four-way intersection should not be designed so that traveling in a straight line through it will result driving into a 6+ foot ditch and creating a significant risk of bodily injury. 2) Should such an intersection exist, any signage intended to warn drivers should be placed with extra care to ensure they are abundantly clear and visible. When neither of these are true, I believe an unacceptable risk of accidents is created.
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How Can You Plagairize Something you Fabricate?

I had started writing a post about a recent example of misbehavior in climate science where a new methodological paper was published in Nature as a "comment" so as to avoid any critical review/examination of the methodologies because it had a "sexy" headline. Then I realized how pointless it was. That sort of shadiness is nothing new, and nobody really cares.

I was still in the mood to write though, and fortunately, my Twitter feed provided a perfect oddity to discuss in this tweet:

I've always held a love for words. There was even a time I wanted to become a lexicographer (basically a person who makes dictionaries). The idea a major dictionary would fabricate definitions for political purposes was so strange I had to investigate. And boy am I glad I did.
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25,000!

No, Really?

I've lost a lot of motivation for writing posts on this site as the climate blogosphere is basically a dead end of echo chambers and inactivity (and I've been spending much more time on game development projects), but today I heard Michael Mann released e-mails people have spent years trying to obtain via legal means. You can see his statement here as well as find instructions on how to access those e-mails. I wish they were bundled in a zip file so they could be easily downloaded and examined via a more normal method, but it's still good to have access to the information. Especially since it shows Michael Mann and the people he talked to were fully aware of many of the issues his critics would eventually raise.

For instance, a key issue raised by his critics is Mann's results were entirely dependent upon a small amount of tree ring data from one part of North America. Here is an e-mail from Mann in 2000 showing he knew that to be true for his results prior to 1400 AD:

A great deal of time was spent discussing this heavy dependence upon tree ring data from one region. Imagine how things would have played out if Mann had just been up front about this point, which he clearly knew to be true?

For the record, the same thing is also true for his results up to 1450 AD, save that Mann arbitrarily duplicated a series to use a second time and let himself claim he had two proxies that supported his results back to 1450 AD. And even then, he had to secretly extrapolate values for the duplicate series to do so.

It's Easier to See When it's Faster?

In response to accusations the White House was promoting an altered video created as propaganda, a White House spokesperson said, "That’s not altered. That’s sped up. They do it all the time in sports to see if there’s actually a first down or a touchdown."

Man, I couldn't tell if the ball crossed the line or not. You know what'd help? If we sped up the footage!

"Big Victory"

Whatever your views on politics may be, I think we should all be able to get a good chuckle out of this. Now that we know Democrats have won the House, Donald Trump is going around boasting about the "Big Victory" Republicans just had.

What a world we have where it's a "Big Victory" when you lose because you didn't lose by as much as you could have.

Yes, Words Can Have Multiple Meanings

I've been sick for a little while, and while it's not too bad, it has sapped me of almost all my energy. As a result, I was hoping to lie in bed resting and casually browsing the internet without any stress or need for coherent thought. That didn't work out. Instead, I wound up involved in an incredibly dumb argument.

It all started because of an unremarkable news article which discussed plans to install more battery storage capacity in the United Kingdoms electrical grid. Battery storage is primarily used for load balancing, where batteries are charged during periods of low demand so they can provide additional energy during periods of high demand. The use of stored energy for load balancing in electrical grids is commonplace and entirely unremarkable. When the article said:

Planning applications in the UK to install just 2MW of battery storage capacity in 2012 have soared since then to a cumulative total of 6,874MW in 2018. (92% of applications for storage projects are approved first time).

It should have been viewed as an innocuous statement the same as one might see in any of a hundred news articles. Instead, a number of "Skeptics" decided it was wrong. In fact, one decided it was not just wrong, but nefarious:

Why? Because they felt they get to dictate how the word "capacity" can be used. Continue reading