Author Archives: Brandon Shollenberger

Trump Impeachment?

I've been wanting to talk about the latest impeachment craze for President Donald Trump because the reactions are fascinating, but the story is complicated and developing quickly. It's difficult to figure out how to give an introduction to the topic while explaining just why what Trump did is so wrong. After three half-written posts, a person I was talking to about them suggested I watch this video:

It does a much better job than I could hope to. I think comparing what that video says to what you'll see elsewhere is fascinating. I challenge anyone to start here and not laugh. Trump famously boasted during his presidential campaign

I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters,

People's reactions to Trump's recent call with Ukraine make me suspect that might be true now.

I Did Something

I did something today I've debated doing for a while. I don't know if it'll have any effect, but I'm happy to have finally decided to go ahead and do it. It'll be interesting to see what, if anything, comes from it over the next couple weeks.

Sorry for being vague. I just wanted to make a note of this for timing purposes.

A Slow Burn on IPCC Coral Misrepresentation

One of my latest posts discussed how, after nearly a year's delay, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released material for its latest report. There's a lot of interesting things to be found in it. Today, I'd like to add to a previous post I've written, which you can find here. You don't need to read the post to understand what I'll discuss today, but I'd recommend it if you have the time.

As a quick summary of what I said before, the IPCC wrote about the supposed dangers faced by coral reefs if the world were to warm by 1.5°C or 2.0°C. That discussion took place in several parts of the report, with the different parts making inconsistent statements. On top of this, it was difficult to figure out where the numbers they used came from, and they seemed to misrepresent at least one source they cited. With the release of these materials, we can see how these inconsistencies happened and confirm the IPCC did in fact misrepresent sources to exaggerate the perceived threats of climate change.
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How Blatant Can Fabrications Get?

I'm about 2,000 words into a post I'm working on to follow-up on my latest, but I just saw something via Twitter I have to comment on. I saw this tweet after it was retweeted by Glenn Kessler, Fact Checker for the Washington Post:

Curious, I looked at the article. I wanted to see what sort of factual basis there was for this idea. Aside from ex-employee remarks, the first cited piece of evidence I came across was:

A draft of his testimony was obtained by the New York Times last month, with tracked comments and edits from White House officials. One comment from the National Security Council on the document suggests striking an entire section of his testimony titled “Scientific Baseline,” with the comment: “A consensus of peer reviewed literature has nothing to do with truth.”

This is a remarkable claim. Quite frankly, I find it unbelievable. And with good reason. It is a fabrication. Continue reading

IPCC Releases Supporting Material After Ten Month Delay

Readers of this blog may remember I've written a about how it is difficult to discuss the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report due to the fact the IPCC did not release supporting material for it even though they were supposed to release nearly a year ago. I'm happy to announce that material is now available: I discovered this earlier today when the IPCC responded to a tweet of mine about the material:

Which led to me observing they put this material online quietly about a month ago, ten months after the IPCC launched a major PR campaign telling the world about the latest report it had published. I couldn't find any statement about this release, much less an explanation of why it took them ten months to make it, but hey, at least we have it now.

Of course, having it almost a year late means the contents of the material is largely irrelevant. The media talked about this report for a couple months. They're done with it. So is the public at large. By delaying its release of the material, the IPCC made sure anything that might be embarrassing in it will likely be ignored.

Even if there is nothing embarrassing in this material, the IPCC said it would publish this material when it published the report. Instead, it delayed the release of the material for ten months, without notification, explanation or apology. That is bad. One, the potential for malfeasance can easily do as much damage as actual malfeasance. Two, it's dishonest. It is not okay to tell the world you'll do one thing at a certain time then... just not do it and not tell people.

Why You Shouldn't Trust "Experts"

Approximately 20 years ago Michael Mann was the lead author of a paper which purported to reconstruct historical temperatures back to 1400 AD, with a follow-up paper extending his work back to 1000 AD. To test the validity of his results, Mann calculated a number of verification statistics. He published a number which were favorable but hid some which were abysmal. He then helped write a chapter for an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in which he said his reconstruction "had significant skill in independent cross-validation tests" even though he knew his reconstruction failed one of the tests miserably, something nobody could know because he had hidden that fact. Because of his deception, his reconstruction went on to become the most impactful graphic in the global warming movement, making him famous. Two decades later, the climate science community still defends him, his work and his behavior.

Today I"m going to discuss an exchange I had with a oceanographer who promoted himself as an "expert," often ridiculing me for daring to disagree with him even though he was wrong about everything he said. The falsehoods, often blatant ones, the arrogance and the rudeness we'll see from this "expert" is a hallmark of people who defend Michael Mann, which unfortunately, still makes up a significant portion of the climate science community. As for the rest, those who don't actively defend Mann, they will studiously avoid looking at or caring about Mann's blatant falsehoods. In doing so, they enable Mann and his scientific fraud to go unanswered. Because of this, I feel justified in saying there is no integrity within the climate science community.
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An Example of Pointlessness

So I've been trying to get more disciplined in how I handle some things so I don't let pessimistic moods prevent me from doing things I'd like to get done. Part of how I plan to do that is to look for sources of enjoyment within the things which make me unhappy. Today's post will be an attempt at doing so. I sm going to look at a discussion and highlight just how ridiculous pathetic, and at least in a certain light, funny, it is.

The discussion in question happened in the comment section of this post by David Appell. The post is about the recent dismissal of a defamation lawsuit filed by Michael Mann against Tim Ball. Mann is (in)famouse for his "hockey stick" temperature reconstruction while Ball is... a relative nobody.

The case was recently dismissed, and this is uncertainty/dispute about what the reason for the dismissal was. One idea is the case was dismissed because Ball requested material underlying Mann's hockey stick, Mann refused to provide that material for years, and the judge dismissed the case because of the delay. Another idea, one discussed by Appell, is the judge concluded Ball's words were read by too few people to have harmed Mann in any meaningful way, plus he's too old and sick for a trial.

Appell has long been a fervent defender of Mann, and naturally, he embraced this latter idea without question. In his mindless zeal to defend Mann, Appell... well, let's just look at what he said. Continue reading

Why I'm Find it Hard to Talk Much

Sorry for being silent lately. I keep wanting to write out thoughts, but whenever I start, I find myself wonder, "What's the point?" I don't aim to change the world. What I want is for discussions to cause me to think about new things. That hasn't been happening. I've been having a hard time finding material that makes me think. It may just be I've been feeling kind of down. I'm not sure.

But think about this. Millions of people across the world genuinely believe there is an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving god who will condemn to eternal suffering for all eternity anyone who fails to beg him for his acceptance. That's... really weird. The idea of a loving god torturing people for all eternity, if only by proxy, is strange enough. But what's truly bizarre is there's no biblical basis for this belief. The idea of "hell" as a place of eternal suffering is not rooted in the Bible. There is no scholarly basis for saying unbelievers will be tortured for all eternity.

But does this matter? No. People came up with the idea of a hell of fire and brimstone where "sinners" would suffer for all eternity, and that idea is so accepted by so many people they invent justifications for it. It's done in the same way so many people claim the Bible says homosexuality is a sin, even though it, as a matter of indisputable fact, does not label homosexuality a sin.

Seriously. For Centuries gay people have been victimized on the basis the Bible says homosexuality is a sin even though any examination of its text shows it does not. That's insane. Millions of people for hundreds of years believe something that flies in the face of any factual examination, and... how can we expect rational conversations?

I'm not saying this to single out Christians or people of other religious faiths. I could just as easily point to how many people believe Christopher Columbus set out to prove the world was round, an insane idea which flies in the face of any and every piece of evidence that exists. The problem isn't one idea people hold is nuts. The problem is, humans don't seem to care if there is any real basis for what they believe.

That's why I haven't been talkative lately. I'm finding it hard to care about exploring evidence or ideas. What kind of conversations can I hope to have when people seem not to care if there's any actual basis for what they believe or think? I'm not troubled by the idea I won't convince people of things. What I'm troubled by is the expectation people's views will be so set in stone I can predict everything they will say before they say it. If facts and evidence don't matter, what can people offer to discussions that's worth the trouble?

How Much Should We Care About Voter Fraud?

I had a different post planned, but I feel it's important to examine a continuation of what's been covered here recently about paranoia over "illegal immigrants stealing our election!" My discussion of this began when I saw a post by a notable global warming Skeptic which began:

I called him out on this as it is utterly insane to believe thousands of voters "self-identified as illegal aliens." it was trivially easy to show there was no evidence to support his description of people as being "literally the people who admitted to [being an illegal alien] in a government office!" He responded by changing the subject, and now, he has a new post which changes the subject yet again, referring to:

an immigrant dumb enough to self identify as a non-citizen and got caught voting in Illinois in a federal election.

I'd like to discuss this specific example, and the more general "evidence" offered, to show just how desperate this person is to justify his paranoia about voter fraud. It's not because I want to single him out, but because many people share his views (including at least one commenter who came here to make the same arguments).
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The North Were not the Good Guys, Part One

Neither were the South. The Civil War was not a battle between "good" and "evil." Slavery is evil, but the South doing lots of evil things is not the end of the story. Many conflicts are between bad and less bad people or groups. I want to talk about this because of a set of really bad arguments about the Civil War I came across in this YouTube video:

But before I do, I want to answer the question this video asks. No, we should not still be watching Gone With the Wind. It's a bad movie. Continue reading