Saturday, February 12, 2011

Preconditions of stupid

How should you set about the task of lying about science? Let us count the ways!

You can, for example, fabricate things that supposedly appeared in New York Times articles; if the article's in that multidecade gap that isn't covered in the Times's online archive, you can be fairly confident that no one's going to take even a quick step toward checking your claim. Or you can smudge over a massive difference -- say, the difference between "no" and "nearly significant at 95% confidence" -- on grounds that the journalist's job is to cut through all the egghead hoo-hah and get The Facts out to The People.

Those are actually rather rare. But like their lesser brethren, they flourish best in carefully cultivated soil, and that's where the heavy lifting is done. For all conclusions to be equal, all results, all methods, all data and all theories have to be equal too. Thus, the fourth most super-important story of the day at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network:

Will the wandering magnetic North Pole create crazy superstorms?

A sensational article at notes that the Earth's magnetic poles are moving more rapidly than ever before, and argues that this may increase the likelihood of devastating superstorms  and tubocharged tsunamis -- and in general cause life-threatening havoc with the world's weather.

"When the field shifts, when it fluctuates, when it goes into flux and begins to become unstable anything can happen. And what normally happens is that all hell breaks loose," the article claims.

OMG Mayans buy gold and freeze-dried food and head for the hills!!1!!!1!!!!! Or not:

Poppycock, say the best scientific minds in the Northern Hemisphere.

"Trying to link all of these things together is kind of preposterous," said Dr. Carol Raymond, principal scientist and a geophysicist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, which operates a fleet of satellites that closely monitor the planet and leads the charge in Earth Science research.

Well, I mean, OK, yeah, if you want to get all technical about it -- "kind of preposterous" is what you might say if you know the organization that called you up for comment on this one isn't going to print the more scientific "bullshit." But what raised the question in the first place?

It's a "new article," just as the promo claims, and it's at ("a locally owned news service for Salem - Oregon's capital city"), equally true. It appears to have originated over at, "the face of the publishing revolution." Let's have a look at that Helium ethos:

Helium is also a knowledge co-operative where our writers are also our editors who read and rate every article on the site.

At Helium, we believe that everyone can contribute what they know to share with millions of readers around the globe.

At Helium, we believe readers want a choice of viewpoints – not just one opinion on any subject.

At Helium, we believe publishers need an easier, more efficient way to get the content they need.

At Helium, great writing rises to the top. And great writing reaps great rewards.
If the unloving world has thus far spurned your carefully footnoted explanation of how the Aztecs invented the vacation, in other words, look no further. And the qualifications that landed this particular author at the top of the front page of a (kaff) major national news organization? has described Aym as a 'Renaissance man.' Others perceive him as eclectic in his knowledge and interests. And while Aym does tend towards a heterogeneous style, his goal is often to gather diverse elements or subjects and - using them like a catalyst - create a synergy between them. He believes this approach offers the reader a stimulating new perspective on both older news and breaking news.

Well, everybody has a hobby.

What's the story doing in such an exalted position at a news site allegedly run by grownups? Once again, let's let the readers who commented on the story tell us why it's there:

Simple solution - Tax people that live in the United States. If only we can all give more to the UN, and to anyone who claims that Global Climate Change is causing this, then we will all be able to look back at this, as the time when the President not only pushed back the seas all by himself, but then he single-handedly forced the poles not to shift!

Global warming junk science. I know four things. The tide comes in, the tide goes out, the sun goes up, the sun goes down. All of that happens without the aide of science. It always has done this and it will always do this. We have no control over it. Only God makes these things happen. There is nothing we can do to stop this. If the world gets hotter, it is because God wants it that way.

It's nice to know that Al "Grope 'Em" Gore wants to protect us from Global Warming, but who will protect us from Al "Grope 'Em" Gore?

And the Al Gore worshiping global warming loons want to regulate what?

I am so tired of the scare tactics about the weather. Glogal cooling in the 70 and 80s global warming in the 90s and 00s, now climate change which runs the gamut from drought to increased hurricanes to now devestating lightening... It's weather guys... It does what it wants when it wants to... Heck my local weather person can't seem to get it right more then about 40% of the time...

Why does she (Raymond, the NASA scientist) say that? Climate freaks lie, and connect pigs to atmosphere all the time, in the effort to prove 'Climate Change'! We've already let them change "Global Cooling" to "Global Warming" to "Climate Change"...which as a result of the proposition, cannot be disproved because, yep, climate changes...with the past inference of 'global warming' still lingering if you try.

You can bet Al Gore is already lining himself up to huckster money off of this one. The U.N. won't be far behind in seeking money out of this too.
Slight shift of gears. The weirdest thing I've read yet today comes from the New Republic's visit to the midway at the CPAC fest in Our Nation's Capital:

The Collegians For a Constructive Tomorrow let passersby hurl eggs at pinup photos of Al Gore and Penn State paleoclimatologist Michael Mann; I saw one girl chuck an egg so vehemently that she has to leap back to avoid the splatter.

Gore, of course, is Goldstein. He's the face on the telescreen for the Two Minute Hate up and down the visible right-wing spectrum, from the polysyllabic serial liar Charles Krauthammer:

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Look, if Godzilla appeared on the Mall this afternoon, Al Gore would say it’s global warming… [Laughter] …because the spores in the South Atlantic Ocean, you know, were. Look, everything is, it’s a religion. In a religion, everything is explicable. In science, you can actually deny or falsify a proposition with evidence. You find me a single piece of evidence that Al Gore would ever admit would contradict global warming and I’ll be surprised.

... through the objective detachment of Fox's news coverage to the brownshirt rage of Limbaugh and Hannity to the raw diaper-soiling paranoia of Glenn Beck.

Mann represents a different kind of demon. He's a real scientist who had the misfortune of becoming a target of right-wing vilification just as it became clear that Cardinal Fang actually has access to the levers of the legal system.

Michael Mann isn't really a heretic, and climate change isn't really a religion. Nor is science as a whole, for that matter. The brilliance of the Fox approach -- elevating a DOGS FLEW SPACESHIPS!!!! tale from the happy land of Helium to the same general epistemic category as climate scholarship in general -- is that it makes the two indistinguishable.

That, I think, is what stirs the peasants to take up their pitchforks and head for the castle. The eggs seem like a promising start.

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Blogger John Cowan said...

A slightly tilted laptop screen and some resulting illusory ligatures gave me the impression that you were talking about and pimp photos of Al et al.

Didn't seem out of place at all.

3:15 PM, February 12, 2011  

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