Friday, July 31, 2009

Distinguishing Real Science from Political Bias

Ignoring Science is the title of the linked article. The paper references a scientific paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research which implicates nature rather than man as the culprit for recent climate changes. These climate changes and the presumption that they are generated by human activity form the basis on which legislation like Cap and Trade is justified. That legislation is likely to cost the American consumer money and jobs at a time when the economy is perilously weak. Quoting from the article:

"The surge in global temperatures since 1977 can be attributed to a 1976 climate shift in the Pacific Ocean that made warming El Nino conditions more likely than they were over the previous 30 years and cooling La Nina conditions less likely" says co-author de Freitas.

"We have shown that internal global climate-system variability accounts for at least 80% of the observed global climate variation over the past half-century. It may even be more if the period of influence of major volcanoes can be more clearly identified and the corresponding data excluded from the analysis."

These findings are largely being ignored by the mainstream media. They simply don't fit the worn narrative that man is dangerously warming the Earth through his carbon dioxide emissions and a radical alteration of Western lifestyles mandated by government policy is desperately needed.

HT: Clare


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Immunity from Reality

The Maddening Times Op-Ed Page by Kevin Williamson, appears at the National Review site. The second paragraph:

Krugman leads off with a stolen base: "O.K., Thursday’s jobs report settles it. We’re going to need a bigger stimulus." I don't think Krugman is right about that, but he could be; I wonder if it ever occurs to Krugman that he could be mistaken? Krugman indulges the vice that liberals attributed to George W. Bush and hated him for: absolute immunity from doubt. That settles it? One unemployment report on a Thursday morning settles the enormously complex questions of national-level macroeconomics?

Williamson has put his finger on two key points. I touched on one of them in an open thread at Telic Thoughts. Leftists are immune to evidence that runs counter to their ideological narrative. That narrative includes the belief that government spending is needed to jump start the nation's economy during a recession. That article of faith was the impetus for the almost 800 billion dollar stimulus bill passed in February 2009. The fact that the bill has not achienved its purpose namely, to stimulate the economy, is not seen by liberals as a reason to doubt the wisdom of its passage rather, it is viewed as the reason why we might need a second stimulus bill. No real world evidence can change the thinking of one committed to the government spending approach. If the economy turns around it vindicates the spending strategy. If it does not it means we did not get enough of a "good" thing; meaning we need another stimulus bill.

The answer to Williamson's question about Krugman thinking he might be mistaken is: no way. Krugman is wearing ideological blinders. The only thing Krugman and like minded thinkers believe they could have been mistaken about was their diagnosis of the problem's severity. The solution is never in doubt. It can't be. These are political and economic fundamentalists whose core doctrines and narratives are beyond empirical reproach.

Williamson's point about the source of liberal hatred for George Bush is right on target. Bush was not a self-doubter. People often loath a trait they possess when they find it in others. It's easier to hate Bush than it is to come to grips with real problems. Stuck in stimulus mode is not an intelligent response to our economic malaise. It puts posterity in hock and for what? Nothing good that can be gleaned from economic reality.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Copy Number Varients

Mechanisms of change in gene copy number is a paper which appears in Nature Review Genetics. Its authors are P. J. Hastings, James R. Lupski, Susan M. Rosenberg and Grzegorz Ira. The paper takes note of a genetic phenomenon known as copy number varients (CNVs) which are duplications and deletions of chromosomal segments. They have been shown to account for variation among individual humans.

There was an interesting reference to cellular stress which it is thought "might induce repair of broken replication forks to switch from high-fidelity homologous recombination to non-homologous repair, thus promoting copy number change."1


1. Mechanisms of change in gene copy number; Nature Reviews Genetics 10, 551-564 (August 2009); P. J. Hastings, James R. Lupski, Susan M. Rosenberg and Grzegorz Ira.


Monday, July 20, 2009

On TT's Narratives

I posted the blog entry Narratives at Telic Thoughts. Quoting:

There is prominent opposition to Intelligent Design which is by no means all encompassing but whose adherents dominate the expression of opposing views. These opponents generally fall under the rubric of what are dubbed New Atheists. They too have both core tenets and narratives. The core tenets include the belief that God is both non-existent and irrelevant to the way one lives his life. Nothing new here. But it is the narratives that are more interesting.

New Atheist narratives hold that the belief in God is part of an ancient tendency toward superstition. It is inherently irrational and evidence for God is to be found in the gaps of our knowledge. Yet the belief in God is not simply a useless, harmless thing. It has resulted in great historic injustices attributable to those holding the superstition. Science, on the other hand, is a tool which reveals reality. Scientific data debunks the foundation for theistic beliefs. Those who disbelieve in God are aligning their beliefs with rational scientific data and those who advance a belief in God are furthering an ancient, outdated superstition that is out of step with history.

By arguing that design is detectable in the physical universe Intelligent Design advocates are lending support to superstitions and undermining a pillar of the New Atheist narrative namely, the linkage of scientific rationalism to atheism.

It is the challenge of the linkage of science to atheism which most agitates atheist critics in my view. The difficulty for atheist critics of ID is that even if ID is not placed on solid empirical grounds its potent criticism of scientific support for materialism runs counter to a basic narrative tenet of New Atheism. Maintaining the integrity of one's narrative is more important than truth for most critics.


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Highlights from Telic Thoughts

Some posts and comments at Telic Thoughts:

Retina Design which links to Is the Backwards Human Retina Evidence of Poor Design? from ICR and Eye Evolution from Viewpoint.

A Materialist Red Herring which has this to say:

The origin of life is a dilemna that has defied attempts at resolution since Darwin. Sure we have a hodgepodge of theories as to how it went down. We also have identified properties of cellular biochemicals thought by OOLers to justify their faith in chemical pathways to cells. Their faith is never so evident as when critiques of their beliefs are branded God in the gaps. The cliche reveals a number of things about those who use it. Lack of originality for one. It is one of the first cliches learned by critics and is subsequently mindlessly tossed about. Ever more so when a telling blow is landed on a theoretical weak spot.

It is also a cliche well suited for those who would presume to know the thoughts of another or simply ignore well known theistic views in the interest of maintaining their own prejudice and the comfort zone that theological ignorance affords them. Most of those who believe in God attribute the origin of all natural laws and natural phenomenon to God. They do not look for gaps thinking that God is detectable in them. That's the straw man that defines the mindset of critics.

But the most interesting aspect of the cliche is how it is used to hide a sleight of the materialist hand. If materialism is to maintain the fiction that it is sustained by scientific data then it must at least attempt to separate empirically derived assertions from assertions not sustained by empirical data. To assume favorable data exists and has not yet been found is to demonstrate faith in an outcome in lieu of an empirically grounded argument. It also places a philosophical bias into an unknown and asks that discernment be averted in the interest of maintaining an unverified expectation. Don't mention the inadaquacy of evidence or the fact that the emperor is wearing no clothes.

RNA Polymerase II

Some comments:

This one by Salvador Cordova.

This one from Rock:

I don't get it. Protein production is ternary, and that's somehow for our "convenience"?

I also understood that in the nested hierarchy of formal languages, DNA-sequences belong to the class of extended context-free grammars.

For our convenience?

This comment wherein Rock turns the tables:

You know, JW, chemistry bears an “uncanny” resemblance to coding. If I recall correctly (and I’m sure you will correct me—you are a chemist?), modern chemistry really began with the recognition of the existence of a chemical element; that elements are distinguishable by common properties, such as mass, weight, volume, density, etc.; and that elements combine in definite mathematical proportions.

If anyone didn’t know what a “code” is before, I just told you!

A code is a finite set of elements, related by common properties that vary amongst the elements (including mass, weight, volume, density, etc.), and which are combined according to a set of rules (grammar) that are summarized in terms of definite mathematical proportions (such as in the case of the DNA-code, ~3/1).

Let’s say I am a code-designer (not God) and I restrict myself (for the purposes of practical application) to the set of chemical elements. Am I also restricted to use chemistry’s grammatical rules?