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

If You're Not a Xenophobe, Why Are You So Dumb?

My last post discussed the total lack of skepticism shown by a well-known global warming Skeptic, Jeff Id. His response is fascinating. I had said some sort of racism/xenophobia is the only explanation I could come up with for Jeff Id's deranged commentary on illegal immigrants stealing elections. This seems to have upset him enough to become even more unhinged.

To be clear, the rhetoric Jeff Id uses in his response isn't what I find fascinating. What fascinates me is how bad his arguments are. I can't imagine how anyone could come up with a response as idiotic as his.
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Skeptics Aren't Skeptical, An Example

I recently saw this comment over at Climate Audit:

I recognized the commenters, Jeff Id, as a notable Skeptic who has shown up in various controversies (for example, being a person directly misrepresented by Stephan Lewandowsky in a scientific paper). Having not seen anything from him in a while, I was curious what he's been up to and clicked the link to his site. I quickly found this:

The irony hurts too much not to discuss.
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I Think I Found The Source of a Fabricated Quote

Some time back I commented on how Mark Steyn included a seemingly fabricated quote in his book he wrote about Michael Mann:

Phil Jones to Michael Mann on February 3rd, 2005:

The two MMs [McKitrick and McIntyre] have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the U.K., I think I'll delete the file rather than send to anyone.6

And, indeed, the CRU subsequently announced that they had "inadvertently deleted" the requested data.

The e-mail Steyn quoted was genuine, but the claim "the CRU subsequently announced that they had 'inadvertently deleted' the requested data" baffled me. I was following the events being discussed at the time, and I had seen the CRU's responses on the issue. The phrase "inadvertently deleted" was never uttered by the CRU.

Given this mystery, I spent some time trying to track down the origin of the quotation. In doing so, I found Steyn had self-plagiarized an article he wrote for his website, but that article didn't include a source for the quotation either. I did find a Google Groups discussion which had the same claim, but it didn't offer a source either. I eventually gave up.

But recently, I started taking stock of some things I've done over the years, wondering if they were a waste of time. One of those things was the work I did examining Steyn's book, finding over a hundred minor misquotations, dozens of quotations whose context was changed to significantly distort their meaning, multiple quotations which were misattributed and numerous untrue factual claims. I put quite a bit of time into it, and I only publicly "published" a fraction of that work.

Was that a waste of time? I don't know. Nobody seems to care Steyn's book is a horrendous piece of trash, a lazy, dishonest smear campaign of the sort we expect from politicians. Maybe I'm wrong though. Maybe I could find some interest if I collected the notes I took and published them in the right way. That's something I was pondering when I decided to revisit that quotation I could never find a source for. And it seems today, I've found the answer.

I won't bore you with all the details of how I found this. The way things spread across the internet, especially when people don't provide links to things they reference/quote, is murky at best. But after tracking things back a bit, I found this article which says:

Email 1107454306 is particularly interesting. In it, Dr Jones writes:

The two MMs [McKittrick and McIntyre] have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I'll delete the file rather than send to anyone.

What makes this interesting is that the CRU, in later years, announced that they had "inadvertently deleted" their raw data when they responded to an FOIA request from ... McIntyre.

What makes this interesting is the link provided in this article goes to a blog post which does not contain the phrase "inadvertently deleted." It appears what happened is this article, written by one Charlie Martin, used the phrase "inadvertently deleted" with scare quotes to indicate he was being facetious, that he felt the deletion was not truly inadvertent. People saw this, failed to understand his meaning and thought this was a real quotation. The result is for years people have been saying it was announced data had been "inadvertently deleted," as though that were an actual quotation.

I think that's fascinating. We have a fake quotation which has been around for years and years, all because a person used scare quotes to indicate facetiousness and people didn't notice. People have been using the phrase "inadvertently deleted" in quotation marks for years in reference to this issue, while changing everything else about the commentary they post, and... there's no reason for it.
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Yeah, You're a Bigot*

I am so tired of people saying things like, "I'm not a bigot, I just want illegals to follow the legal process!" Most of the people who say things like that are the same people who demonized "caravans" as an invasion of illegals.

Guess what? People have the right to come to the country and apply for asylum. People you demonize are following the legal process. You constantly spread hate for them anyway. That shows you're full of it. If your concern really were for the law, you wouldn't spew vitriol over people who follow it.

So yeah, that makes you a bigot. Or at least, a xenophobe.

Rebutting Conspiracy Theories Seems Pointless

A recent post may have made you realize I really don't want to discuss conspiracy theories about the alleged chemical attack on the city of Douma by the Syrian government. I've been trying to avoid discussing that topic, especially on Twitter, but I let myself get dragged into it today.

Don't worry. I'm not going to write a long screed about the topic. That's not the point of this post. The point of this post is to show why I didn't want to. I always come away from exchanges on topics like this feeling they were pointless. Most of the time, I find myself putting more work into examining what others say than they did.

This is why I ask people to make their case in a collected, coherent manner with all the requisite information provided in a single location. It almost never happens. I understand doing so requires a fair amount of work, but not doing so simply forces anyone who cares to examine what you say to do the work you refused to do.

Today, I'd like to show a Twitter exchange why I describe the discussions so many people try to get others to participate in are pointless. Also, I'd like to keep a copy for record keeping.
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Funniest Question of the Year?

There was a post at Andrew Gelman's blog recently about a topic I've discussed here often so I chimed in on a couple things. An exchange happened because I made a couple remarks about things like how climate change is not expected to drive humanity extinct or even cause the deaths of billions of people. In my comments, I mentioned how the worst projections of the IPCC aren't anywhere near that extreme. This lead to a discussion of the tired meme which says the IPCC is overly conservative in its projections of the impacts of climate change, a meme which relies upon the alarmist views of a relatively small number of people. Discussion of this idea led to what may go down as the funniest question of the year:

For those who don't know, the IPCC won a Nobel prize. Michael Mann was an author on an IPCC report so he went around repeatedly telling everybody he had won a Nobel prize, which was not true. Personally, I don't think the fact Mann stole credit for the IPCC's Nobel prize means he should be trusted over the IPCC.
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