Roundup Oct 24

Suicide of nation..

Mr. Obama, who understood that a legislative push would be fruitless, told his advisers to figure out how to enact deep emissions cuts without Congress. They found a way through the Clean Air Act of 1970, which gives the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to issue regulations on dangerous pollutants.
In 2014, Mr. Obama unveiled the first draft of what would become the Clean Power Plan: a set of Clean Air Act rules that could lead to the closing of hundreds of coal-fired power plants.

Dan Mitchell on the downside of a big public sector.

We get bad policy because voters get seduced into voting for politicians who promise to pillage the “rich” and give goodies to everyone else. And since voters generally don’t understand that this approach leads to “an inferior economic outcome,” the process can continue indefinitely (or until the ratio between those pulling the wagon and those riding in the wagon gets too imbalanced).

And the rule of law and the global freedom index.

The great contribution of western civilization is the notion that the power of government must be constrained by laws. This doesn’t mean that all laws (or even most laws) are good. But, as explained in this video, if the choice is between the “rule of man” (the arbitrary and capricious exercise of power) and the “rule of law,” there’s no contest.

Judith Curry’s scientific week in review. Her political week in review. Jo Nova on the rule of skepticism and the way that voters will not buy climate change mitigation if they get a say in the matter.
•Fully 42% of US adults don’t want to pay more than a piddling $12 a year to stop climate change
•Only 3% of US people think climate is most important issue
•In a US Rassmussen Poll — 61% of US voters said the climate debate is not over
•Nearly one third in the US would go so far as to say “climate change a total hoax”
Check out The Spectator. And the Mannkal Economic Education Foundation, The Institute for Public Affairs IPA. The Centre for Independent Studies. The Sydney Institute. And Mark Steyn.

Books. Art and photography books from AbeBooks.

For nerds. Plato for Plumbers, winner of the New Philosophy writing award on technology, h/t Judy Curry. Actually I can see how it got a prize from philosophers but I think it is special pleading because I don’t think engineers have much to learn from philosophers. Certainly not the one teaching critical thinking at the Uni of Qld.
Summary of Popper’s first introductory lecture on the philosophy of science. Full text.

Welcome to the lecture. Do not expect too much because I am a very bad lecturer and the important part of learning is what you do yourself. Be free to interrupt and to criticize.
Degrees of understanding and levels of criticism.
The distinction between tentative criticism and serious criticism that is based on good understanding of the issue (but understanding can always be improved).
The wrong reason to go to university, to learn to speak impressively.
The proper reason is to find out how little we can ever know.
The overwhelming importance of simplicity and clarity.
We should try to educate people to tell the difference between a charlatan and an expert.
Confusing clarity with precision. Clarity and simplicity are ends in themselves but precision is context-dependent.
Second point for the day, on fast and slow reading. Not enough people recognize the difference between skimming and reading. And the first part of scientific method is the method of reading a book.
Don’t believe me, but do try to understand me and be prepared to argue, to criticize me and force me to clarify my views.

See also Stuart Firestein on the way science is driven by ignorance. In this sense, ignorance is not stupidity. Rather, it is a particular condition of knowledge: the absence of fact, understanding, insight or clarity about something. It is a case where data don’t exist, or more commonly, where the existing data don’t make sense

Dan Mitchell on attracting high quality, job-creating immigrants.

The good news is that we have some policies designed to make this happen, including the H-1B visa for skilled workers and the EB-5 visa for job-creating investors. And if the data on median income for certain immigrant groups is any indication, we’re getting some good results.

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7 Responses to Roundup Oct 24

  1. Roger

    The great contribution of western civilization is the notion that the power of government must be constrained by laws.

    Based on the foundational belief that man’s nature is basically corrupt. Government and human society will reflect that corruption writ large unless constrained.

    The trouble began when we ditched belief in original sin and replaced it with the belief in the natural goodness of man and his perfectibility, which government should then promote.

  2. struth


    the process can continue indefinitely (or until the ratio between those pulling the wagon and those riding in the wagon gets too imbalanced).

    Somebody has been watching youtube.

  3. ella

    Is there overlap between science and engineering?

    Physicist-mathematician-cosmologist, George F R Ellis, professor emeritus at University of Cape Town –
    co-authored ‘The Large-Scale Structure of Space-Time’ with Stephen Hawking – has knocked physicists for knocking philosophy, falsification, free will. George Ellis has an excellent knowledge of philosophy and believes scientists require knowledge of philosophy.

    “Ellis. … Scientists should stop indulging in low-grade philosophy in their own writings. You cannot do physics or cosmology without an assumed philosophical basis. You can choose not to think about that basis: it will still be there as an unexamined foundation of what you do. The fact you are unwilling to examine the foundations of what you do does not mean those foundations are not there; it just means they are unexamined.”

    Interview in ‘Scientific American’ 22 July 2014 by John Horgan: “Physicist George Ellis Knocks Physicists for Knocking Philosophy, Falsification, Free Will.”

    Apologies Rafe, the PC is in hospital.

  4. Rafe

    Good comment thanks ella, no need to apologise:)

  5. Nelson Kidd-Players

    Science searches for truth (or at least it should).
    Engineering exploits it.

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