Sunday, June 22, 2008

Last Week's Flooding: Blame It on Global Warming!

This is amazing. It's an article by a Wisconsin Environmentalist, and activist named Keith Reopelle, that appeared in today's Wisconsin State Journal. As you may know, we had horrific flooding here in the Midwest last week. The news has been carrying pictures of detached houses piled up against bridges, and many other horrors. In the article, this guy blames your flooding on [insert sinister music from Jaws here] global warming.

This article is the most perfect tissue of informal fallacies that I have ever seen, in print, in my life.

He asserts, as weighty reasons to accept his conclusions, that the floods have caused hardship and suffering. "We have all witnessed the devastation floods can wreak on Wisconsin 's towns, landscape and economy. One has hardly been able to escape the images of homes sliding into a torrent of water, city streets submerged and Lake Delton drained." This is the argumentum ad misericordiam, or appeal to pity. This is awful -- therefore accept my solution (or you're a hard-hearted bastard!!!).

Then there is the appeal to authority, or argumentum ad verecundiam. "For years, climatologists, researchers and scientists have predicted that ..." "Leading U.S. scientists are now telling us that..."

Alright, I admit that this is only two fallacies, but these are the only things in the piece that could be called argumentation. There is nothing in it that even remotely approaches the status of evidence for his explanation of the flooding.

Worst of all, he never says word one about the most obvious problem for his thesis. As everyone knows, there has been no global warming for a while now, as is pointed out in this contrasting opinion piece in today's State Journal.

I have heard of actio en distans (action at a distance, aka. magic) but this is nuts.

Global warming is indeed a magical thing. Not only does it predict both droughts and flooding (so that it is confirmed almost whatever happens -- goodbye Karl Popper!) but it can cause these awful events without even raising the temperature.

Like I said, amazing.

20 comments:

"Q" the Enchanter said...

But Lester, outside formal reasoning, appeals to relevant authority are not fallacious. Here, the existence of a scientific consensus on the contribution of anthropogenic warming to the frequency of extreme weather events is clearly relevant. If there's a problem with this author's appeal to authority, then, it's factual, not formal.

Manu said...

"Scientific consensus" on Global Warming is like the supposed "scientific consensus" on "HIV=AIDS"

List of 2,604 listed doubters:
http://aras.ab.ca/rethinkers.php

The "consensus" is a media manufactured, brutally enforced "consensus" which, in spite of all the efforts to silence, smear and in some cases destroy the career of those who have spoken out, still has cracked.

As the author of this blog pointed out in his passionate and accurate last post using an argument by John Stuart Mill:

"If you feed false information into the public debate on an issue, you will in the long run bias the mechanism of debate in the direction of wrong results. Garbage in, garbage out. You may think you know how the mechanism works, so that you can manipulate it like a mere tool, but you can't. The mechanism is a truth-discovery device, and to manipulate it as if you already know the truth is a fundamental mistake."

That is the most stunningly perfect example to illustrate how a "consensus"does not necessarily lead to the truth. A forced false consensus will still crack even when it is wrong.

I am pretty sure that once you add the list of those who openly declare they do not believe in the "AIDS" or "GW" "consensus" all those who are afraid to speak, or because they can't and you will realise that there is no "consensus" at all, scientific or otherwise.

I applaud Lester Hunt for having the integrity and the wisdom to openly ask questions and not give in to the terror one is threatened with if and when one does.

"Q" the Enchanter said...

""Scientific consensus" on Global Warming is like the supposed "scientific consensus" on "HIV=AIDS""

True -- if only in that know-nothings on the Internets persist in parroting bizarre claims on such issues. ("Garbage in, garbage out" indeed.)

Lester Hunt said...

"q," You're right, appeals to authority are not necessarily fallacious. But that is true of all informal fallacies. Sometimes they are, sometimes not. (The same is true of appeals to pity.) This I think is a clear case of the fallacious variety. After all, what these scientists were predicting was not any old flood, but floods in the context of temperatures rising in the recent past. Since temperatures have obviously not risen in the recent past, something more must be said before this can count as evidence at all. In other words, if anyone is convinced by what this guy has said here, it is because of the mind-numbing power of words like "leading ... scientists," "researchers," etc.

"Q" the Enchanter said...

Lester, this was the author's claim:

"For years, climatologists, researchers and scientists have predicted that the frequency of these extreme weather events will increase as a result of global warming.

If these models remain accurate, Midwest storms will become less frequent but more intense, resulting in increased instances of severe droughts and intense floods.
"

Say what you will about the article as a whole, the appeal here strikes me as clearly legit. Yes, there's an obvious muddle in his reasoning about the relation between frequency and intensity. But that is not a problem with his appeal to authority; it's a problem with his misconstruing what the authority actually says.

I'm picking this nit because the erroneous notion that there is some logical problem inherent in appeals to authority is widespread and epistemically toxic. In particular, it serves as a truthy pretext for dismissing robust scientific consensus (regarding the status of evolution, anthropogenic warming, AIDS-->HIV, etc.) as epistemically irrelevant. This confusion is all too useful to those who in the name of "thinking for yourself" promote the idea that you should wage belief independent of "what the experts think." A poor recipe for knowledge, but great for turning out cranks.

Lester Hunt said...

"q," As to your second comment: This may be unnecessary to say, but I'm not in either the "there's no global warming" or the "HIV does not cause AIDS" camps.

"Q" the Enchanter said...

Lester, that's a ten-four on your 2:29 PM. (You didn't need to say it for my benefit, but you never know who else may be reading!)

Manu said...

"know-nothings on the internet..."

You know nothing of me. What do you know what I know or what my hands on experience is?

So let's just accept your mysterious claim of to authority here, even though it is expressed in an insulting manner. Maybe you would like to explain this if you are such a genius. Both these statements come from main figures and not from "internet know-nothings":

"HIV is unquestionably transmitted through heterosexual intercourse. Indeed, heterosexual intercourse is now responsible for 70-80% of all HIV transmissions worldwide"
----Dr. Nancy Padian, UCSF, (2006)

"It is very unlikely there will be a heterosexual epidemic in other countries. Ten years ago a lot of people were saying there would be a generalised epidemic in Asia – China was the big worry with its huge population. That doesn't look likely. "
--Dr. Kevin De Cock, World Heath Organization, Dept. of HIV/AIDS (2008)

and this, which even though you ignore it is there: There is NOT NOW NOR WAS THERE EVER SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS ON HIV=AIDS. Period
List of 2,604 listed doubters:
http://aras.ab.ca/rethinkers.php

To claim there is "consensus" is stupid. Show me the consensus. Where is it?

You have limited yourself to insults yet you answer nothing. Typical!

Lester. So what camp are you in then? You seem to be criticizing both these. Are your posts meant to be read superficially and not as a kind of invitation for people to think and look closer at what the real evidence and information is.

Are they?

Lester Hunt said...

Manu,

The GW/flooding post was about the logical cogency of what the author was saying, not about the truth or falsity of his conclusions. Although I grant you that in this case the logic was so terrible that it is not real easy to make this distinction. (This is pure speculation, I admit, but I suspect that this GW activist's brain has grown fat and lazy from seldom having to give real evidence for his conclusions.)

"Q" the Enchanter said...

Manu, there is nothing "mysterious" about the claim of authority here.

Every mainstream science and health organization accepts as the consensus view that HIV causes AIDS. The NAS. The Mayo Clinic. The NIAID. Go read their FAQ pages.

Every mainstream periodical and compendium accepts as the consensus view that HIV causes AIDS. Encyclopedia Britannica. Wikipedia. Science Magazine. Go and look.

Every health insurance company that can pay the rent distributes information brochures about "HIV/AIDS." Go and look.

Absent some compelling counter-evidence, such a robust consensus clearly warrants at least our tentative assent.

The poorly-formatted document you've linked to is awesomely far from constituting such counter-evidence. It's a fringe document on its face. It claims that those named signed a petition to the effect that they "question[] the hypothesis that Hiv [sic] causes Aids [sic]," yet neither links to nor incorporates the text of the alleged petition. More importantly, those named on the list generally lack any relevant credential. Consider the listed credentials of the first ten signatories:
1. Assistant Professor of Anthropology;
2. MSc (Economics);
3. Country Director Pan African Educational Services;
4. [No credential];
5. Medical student;
6. PhD [discipline unspecified];
7. Researcher, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Dept. International Centre of Insect Physiology [my emphasis];
8. Engineer;
9. PhD [discipline unspecified];
10. Journalist, Author.

That's ten out of ten with no apparent specialty in human biology, biochemistry, medicine, epidemiology... (Sort of makes the Discovery Institutes list of 700 evolution doubters look like a who's who of Nobel laureates.)

Even without doing any research, then, you'd have every reason to dismiss this document out of hand. Yet you actually commended it to us, Manu. I am not impressed.

But I will be impressed if you can admit now that doing so was in error. Absent such a concession, though, yours will have to be the last word.

LS said...

Hi, Lester, Manu, and make-believe named person:

Manu asked a question, you ignored it.

How do these ideas square with these realities:

"HIV is unquestionably transmitted through heterosexual intercourse. Indeed, heterosexual intercourse is now responsible for 70-80% of all HIV transmissions worldwide"
----Dr. Nancy Padian, UCSF, (2006)



Here's what Padian is defending against, her 10-year study in Norther California:

* “We followed up 175 HIV-discordant couples [one partner tests positive, one negative] over time, for a total of approximately 282 couple-years of follow up… No transmission [of HIV] occurred among the 25% of couples who did not use their condoms consistently, nor among the 47 couples who intermittently practiced unsafe sex during the entire duration of follow-up…”

* “We observed no seroconversions after entry into the study [nobody became HIV positive]…This evidence argues for low infectivity in the absence of either needle sharing and/or other cofactors.”


Then we move to Dr. de Cock's recent mea culpa:


"It is very unlikely there will be a heterosexual epidemic in other countries. Ten years ago a lot of people were saying there would be a generalised epidemic in Asia – China was the big worry with its huge population. That doesn't look likely. "
--Dr. Kevin De Cock, World Heath Organization, Dept. of HIV/AIDS (2008)


Let's let go of philosophy, for a moment, and also consensus, and style of argument, except for Cartesian.

Please explain Dr. Padian's first statement, versus the results of her research, followed by the statement that the world was lied to for 20 plus years by the Aids medical authority about heterosexual epidemic among the wealthy, white and well-fed of the world.

Lester Hunt said...

I'm not sure that I understand your question, but Padian's second statement, about how she could not find people transmitting HIV heterosexually, is about Northern California, while the subsequent back-pedaling statements saying that heterosexual sex is the principal means by which HIV is transmitted probably take in sub-Saharan Africa. So the statements may be logically consistent. The big difference between them of course is political. But it sounds like you know that.

"Q" the Enchanter said...

"Make-believe named person" would be a great pseudonym.

Anyway, FWIW, I'm fully willing to grant that the infectivity of AIDS, particularly through heterosexual sex, may have been sensationalized by the media, as well as by various special interest groups. Or not. That particular red herring wasn't the one I was addressing.

Since you mentioned it, though, the infectivity of AIDS through heterosexual intercourse can be increased by factors like STD co-infection, circumcision practices, the variety of partners, the (non)use of condoms, viral loads among the infected, and so on. This would account for and lead us to expect the local differences in infection rates Padian notes.

The reasons de Cock can relate the good news that AIDS will likely remain in relative abeyance is that (1) safe sex practices make a big difference, while (2) the world by and large has taken to adopting such practices. We can see this clearly by actually reading the article Brendan O'Neill himself linked to (emphases all mine):

"But the smaller numbers should not lead to complacency, said Kevin de Cock, director of HIV/Aids at the WHO. 'This remains the leading infectious disease challenge to global health,' he said. 'We have to recognise the very long-term nature of the HIV pandemic.

"'We are very well aware of Aids fatigue and the situation in the industrialised world where the advent of treatment has dampened enthusiasm for prevention.'

"Paul De Lay, UNAids director of evidence, monitoring and policy, warned that new infections hit 2.5m last year, with 2.1m deaths: 'We do not have a curative intervention," he said. "We have repeated evidence from countries that as we back away and become less vigilant and our programmes start to diminish, we are seeing a return of the epidemic.'

In the USA, the UK, Germany and also in Uganda, which was once lauded for bringing down its HIV rates, prevalence was rising again.

Treatment programmes in sub-Saharan Africa, where 1.5 million people are now on antiretroviral drugs, are having results, the UNAids report says, but death rates remain high because of the large numbers who cannot get the drugs. There is also evidence of a reduction in high-risk behaviour in some countries, such as having many sexual partners, as a result of education efforts....
"

Okay. I'm done.

LS said...

Howdy.

You write:

"I'm not sure that I understand your question, but Padian's second statement, about how she could not find people transmitting HIV heterosexually, is about Northern California,"


No, amigo. It's about Heterosexual sex in non-drug addicts.

Not "nice vacation spots." It's about sex organs, not geography.

It's about antibody response in non-drug addicts, not Half-Moon Bay.

You write:

"while the subsequent back-pedaling statements saying that heterosexual sex is the principal means by which HIV is transmitted probably take in sub-Saharan Africa."

And heterosexual isn't heterosexual sex?

The questions being begged here are simple. Either:

1) "Hiv" isn't transmitted among non-drug addicted heterosexuals, despite having anal sex, according to the study, in sufficiently large numbers.

Or,

2) "Hiv tests" don't measure "Hiv."

3) Or both.

You write:

"So the statements may be logically consistent. The big difference between them of course is political."


Bit miss on the first one, DingDingDing on the second. Political. Keep digging into politics - or politics of "hiv testing."

Find out what the tests say they are measuring, and what they're known to measure, and you'll be more than halfway there.


And "Senator Q", (I've promoted you to office), don't change the subject! Answer Padian first, and what it means, before moving to studies that you accept uncritically. Or, admit that you're not willing to be critical of the belief in either sexual "Aids", or the validity of "hiv testing."

That's fine, as far as it goes, but then it's not worth talking, unless you're willing to debate the literature, and its inherent internal assumptions, on these topics. The literature assumes that sex is the primary mode of transmission (among non-white, non-heterosexuals); and that the tests measure any particular particle.

see ya'll soon.

And Global temp change?

Well, that's a funny one. I like to look at the massive changes in Europe in the 14th and 16th C, I believe. No SUVs, no major metropolitan areas filled with autos and factories.

Nevertheless, there were mini-ice ages, massive flooding, then, of course, in the 14th, the very real Black Death, notable for the giant nodes and pustules forming on the body, under the armpits, in the lymph nodes. Death was sudden and swift.

It wasn't political. And if you were exposed, regardless of your sexual practices or nation of origin, you probably died within a week, or days.

Tests that don't test for a thing, projected onto entire populations because of an assumption of "validity" based on skin color and sexual orientation?

That's politics, hombres. We've seen it before, we'll see it again.

Manu said...

-If it were left to people like you we would still believe that the earth were flat and that malaria was caused by bad air.

"Every mainstream science and health organization accepts as the consensus view that HIV causes AIDS. The NAS. The Mayo Clinic. The NIAID. Go read their FAQ pages."

-You said it “mainstream”…who believes anything mainstream anymore? I am not listing for you the well known list of things the “mainstream’ has been wrong on throughout history. You can look that up if you don't know it, which would not surprise me in the least bit.

"Every mainstream periodical and compendium accepts as the consensus view that HIV causes AIDS. Encyclopedia Britannica. Wikipedia. Science Magazine. Go and look."

-That is the official “dogma” yes. They also say that everyone is at risk equally too, which now we have top level admission that it was never now nor ever will be the case.

"Every health insurance company that can pay the rent distributes information brochures about "HIV/AIDS." Go and look."

-As the whore said to the Archbishop:

Well they would wouldn’t they!

"Absent some compelling counter-evidence, such a robust consensus clearly warrants at least our tentative assent."

-This is no proof of consensus and even if there were it is a political one and not a scientific one.

"The poorly-formatted document you've linked to is awesomely far from constituting such counter-evidence. It's a fringe document on its face. It claims that those named signed a petition to the effect that they "question[] the hypothesis that Hiv [sic] causes Aids [sic]," yet neither links to nor incorporates the text of the alleged petition. More importantly, those named on the list generally lack any relevant credential. Consider the listed credentials of the first ten signatories:
1. Assistant Professor of Anthropology;
2. MSc (Economics);
3. Country Director Pan African Educational Services;
4. [No credential];
5. Medical student;
6. PhD [discipline unspecified];
7. Researcher, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Dept. International Centre of Insect Physiology [my emphasis];
8. Engineer;
9. PhD [discipline unspecified];
10. Journalist, Author."

-These people do not accept the prevailing HIV=AIDS theory or the “consensus” you say exists. There are 2600 odd signatories there which you list the FIRST 10 to draw judgment, but that’s no surprise coming from an “AIDS” apologist. It just reminds me of how we actually got this hypothesis to start with.

If you are at all familiar with this subject, as you claim to be, than I am sure you are more than aware of the names there on that list, which would clearly indicate that there NO TOP LEVEL consensus, scientific or otherwise. You know well there are some pretty “hot” names there including Nobel winners with scientific credentials as well as members of the Academy of science. You look them up, if you don’t know whom they are, as you are the one who seems lacking basic information here. Duesberg, Mullis, Stewart...those names ring any bells?


"That's ten out of ten with no apparent specialty in human biology, biochemistry, medicine, epidemiology... (Sort of makes the Discovery Institutes list of 700 evolution doubters look like a who's who of Nobel laureates.)"

-Well try reading some more names instead of huffing and puffing that you now have to work harder at defending this farce. You lot have had it way too easy for way too many years.

"Even without doing any research, then, you'd have every reason to dismiss this document out of hand. Yet you actually commended it to us, Manu. I am not impressed."

-Not doing any research seems right up your street... Q enchanter, I am not impressed either.Predictability is never impressive.

"But I will be impressed if you can admit now that doing so was in error. Absent such a concession, though, yours will have to be the last word."

-You impress me first. You are the one claiming authority, or yes let let it be, save you have some real proof of that consensus you say exists, which, as yet I see no evidence of.

The HIV=AIDS hypothesis is the most embarrassing episode in modern science, followed by "global warming".

One shoe is now off: "heterosexual AIDS is OVER." The next will come soon; it will run something like this on some major left-wing paper:

"NIH Announces "AIDS" caused by mycoplasma! World Delights in News!"

And on that great and sorrowful day, all men will be free to drop their pants publicly, square their shoulders toward the National Institutes of Health in Maryland,

...and commence taking the biggest group urination ever seen on the seven continents of planet Earth.

PS- This last bit comes courtesy of a friend who thought it most apt for this post and was kind enough to donate it.)

Lester Hunt said...

LS,

Either: 1) "Hiv" isn't transmitted among non-drug addicted heterosexuals, despite having anal sex, according to the study, in sufficiently large numbers.

Or,

2) "Hiv tests" don't measure "Hiv."


It sounds like you are assuming that the large number of (presumably heterosexual) Africans who have HIV are drug addicts. From what I have read, the best explanation for the African heterosexual pandemic is the hypothesis that, given the prevalence of genital lesions in these tropical countries, heterosexual sex can easily involve blood-sharing -- and it is the transmission of blood, not the heterosexual sex per se, that spreads AIDS in this view. Which I think is consistent with your main point.

Manu said...

"Anyway, FWIW, I'm fully willing to grant that the infectivity of AIDS, particularly through heterosexual sex, may have been sensationalized by the media, as well as by various special interest groups."

What about the Durban Declaration? Are these: " media and various special interest groups" too?

"The Durban declaration has been signed by over 5,000 people, including Nobel prizewinners, directors of leading research institutions, scientific academies and medical societies, notably the US National Academy of Sciences, the US Institute of Medicine, Max Planck institutes, the European Molecular Biology Organization, the Pasteur Institute in Paris, the Royal Society of London, the AIDS Society of India and the National Institute of Virology in South Africa. In addition, thousands of individual scientists and doctors have signed, including many from the countries bearing the greatest burden of the epidemic. Signatories are of MD, PhD level or equivalent, although scientists working for commercial companies were asked not to sign."

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v406/n6791/full/4060

Oh, but you're done...how typical, yes run, I would too.

Manu said...

Lester, let's go back to basics here.

How do you define "AIDS"?

here is mine: A list of initially 3 conditions which over the years has grown to 30+ and now including even cervical cancer!!

Who has AIDS?

It depends on your status.

If you are NOT "HIV+" and have diarrhea you have diarrhea.

If you have diarrhea and you are "HIV+" you have "AIDS"

What determines your status?
A test.

What does that test detect? How does it work?
It detects NOTHING SPECIFIC to HIV. They DO NOT work.

You can look up any information on tests and check what i am saying. Here is a taster, this is a typical Disclaimers from HIV Test Manufacturers:

"EIA testing alone cannot be used to diagnose AIDS, even if the recommended investigation of reactive specimens suggests a high probability that the antibody to HIV-1 is present. [...] At present there is no recognized standard for establishing the presence and absence of HIV-1 antibody in human blood. Therefore sensitivity was computed based on the clinical diagnosis of AIDS and specificity based on random donors"

So, who is "HIV Positive"?

"Q" the Enchanter said...

LS, I appreciate the promotion, but as I said, I'll submit on what I've written.

"Q" the Enchanter said...

Manu, as I said, then, yours will have to be the last word.