Roundup Feb 24

Gerard Henderson’s Media Watchdog. A really nuanced inside story on the situation in multicultural Sweden, h/t notofan from the Wed forum.
Dan Mitchell. Will Trump drain the swamp? Italy going down.

Agility in Action. At the cutting edge of innovation, a solution to the tomato sauce problem. How to get the last drops out of the bottle. Probably a spinoff from aerospace technology. h/t RWDB

Culture. The descent of the left into tribalism from reasonable social democracy into the hard left. A blast from the past but still sadly relevant. In Defence of Economic Rationalism. Living with bears. Bureaucracy versus the environment.

For nerds. A very perceptive and prescient piece by a CSIRO soil physicist published in 1991 making a number of points that are even more relevant today. Especially, too much use of mathematical models in place of fieldwork. After sketching the ideal of science that he grew up with he wrote.

You may well see this picture as a faded brown snapshot from a distant past that bears no relation to present-day reality. It is, of course, an ideal towards which it is increasingly difficult (and in some degree unrealistic) to aspire. But I do not invoke this ethos of science as an empty exercise. It stays with us as the standard, and deviations from it are a warning of danger. When it ceases to hold the loyalty of the leaders of science the whole scientific exercise is in peril.

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11 Responses to Roundup Feb 24

  1. bemused says:

    too much use of mathematical models

    This reminds me, as a long time photographer, of many debates that I’ve seen on photography forums where maths teachers and the like bring forth formulas etc regaling what works and what does not. None too surprisingly, you never see any evidence of actual photography to validate their arguments.

    I suspect that similar things pervade all manner of professions.

  2. Mark M says:

    24 february, 2017, michaelsmithnews (video):
    That well known champion of lower electricity prices Malcolm Turnbull writes on electricity
    Wait. What?
    Feb 09, 2010: Turnbull makes the speech Rudd should have
    “In December, just a few weeks ago, we had confirmation from three leading scientific organisations—the UK Met Office and, in the United States, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—that the past decade, the years from 2000 to 2009, was the hottest since record-keeping began …”
    NASA Global Temperature Trends: 2008 Annual Summation
    “Calendar year 2008 was the coolest year since 2000, according to the Goddard Institute for Space Studies analysis”
    Check the rest of Turnbull’s parliament speech of 2010 for pricing energy.
    3 link limit.

  3. Mark M says:

    Oops. link: “Believing, as a Liberal, that market forces deliver the most effective solutions…” Turnbull makes the speech Rudd should have

  4. King Koala says:

    Especially, too much use of mathematical models in place of fieldwork.

    Swap out fieldwork with experience and observation and you have what’s wrong with economics and libertarianism

  5. Mark M says:

    Either Turnbull deliberately lied and misled parliament, or he was poorly informed and advised.
    Turnbull should be made to make a note and apology in Hansard and correct his “hottest year evah’ claim.

  6. Mark M says:

    More on Turnbull’s lie to parliament:
    “These dozen climate scientists did not doubt there was an ongoing Pause in 2011”

  7. Rafe Champion says:

    Interesting to see that 64 Cats have checked out the Philip article and 58 the Betrayal of liberalism. This is from the statistics of the Rathouse website where these things and many others are located.
    A couple more nice bits in the Philip article.

    There is another source of misunderstanding of the scientific community. A significant, well-run research project may require 5 years or more, a period often longer than the tenure of politicians, CEOs, and bureaucrats and, indeed, the duration of “ideas in good currency” in society (Schon 1971). Failure to grasp this can lead to a simplified view of accountability, the dangers of which must be recognized.

    Imagine a 5 year grant nowadays! There is massive pressure to deliver results in a year or two in order to support the next grant application.
    Under the sub heading Marxism Persists even if Marx is dead

    There is no doubt that the Western world no longer holds in the highest esteem the one-time self-evident virtues of the life of the mind, the pursuit of understanding and the love’of ideas. Today their place is taken all too often by simplistic materialism, the pursuit of economic advantage, and the lust for power. It is noteworthy that Eastern communism has lost, out to the West, not in consequence of any unsuppressible yearning of the human spirit for freedom, but rather because Western materialism looks more efficient than the Eastern variant. [ After completing this article, I came on the remark of Max Perutz (1990) in a different but related context: “Marxism may be discredited in Eastern Europe, but it still seems to flourish at Harvard”.]

  8. Lem says:

    The inside story by the economist on the situation in Sweden is well worth the read, if not least because real figures are presented, and the guy is quite dispassionate. The summary:

    Swedes always like to say that “we don’t want it like the United States”; I joked it’s almost becoming too late for that, now the best Sweden can hope for is “we don’t want it like the Game of Thrones”. The inability of the European leadership to deal with the crisis is at once surreal and fascinating, almost like witnessing a Donald Duck version of the fall of the Roman Empire in real time.

    Indeed. If only the bleeding hearts knew a little history.

  9. Fess says:

    Wonderful articles linked – about Swedish immigration and on modelling thank you.
    John Philips’ observations about the influences of ‘managerialism’ and modelling on science were so clear for a man writing in 1991. As an engineer I see both of these having a pernicious influence. Both are just means to an end, yet practitioners are drawn to treating them as ends in themselves. I don’t see young(er) scientists and engineers able to think and write as clearly as Philips does.
    Philips predicted all of the sloppy practice around climate science and the reasons behind it. I wish they showed papers like this to school students and undergrads – but maybe they wouldn’t get it.

  10. Bushkid says:

    The article of the interview with the Iranian Kurd who migrated to Sweden at the age of 9 is fascinating. If a relatively recent immigrant can see the situation so clearly, and articulate it so clearly, why the hell can’t the “leaders” in Sweden, Europe and here in Oz see it? I really do despair for the continuation of our culture.

  11. egg_ says:

    None too surprisingly, you never see any evidence of actual photography to validate their arguments.

    Ditto audio forums – some are prone to ‘paralysis through analysis’, industry Pros always validate.

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