Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Aaro on denialism

Perfectly sane and sensible and the only churlish thing I can think of to say is that he describes here exactly the approach he took to civilian casualty estimates in Iraq.

21 Comments:

Anonymous andrew adams said...

I was going to say that the Decents are usually pretty reasonable on climate change and that even HP does not fall for the idiotic conspiracy theories. Of course that was before this -

http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/11/24/climategate/#comment-413725

11/24/2009 11:24:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I do like the way that for two posts in a row (this one and the one about HRW), the HP Sauce author admits to neither having read the thing he's discusing nor to understanding the issues involved.

BUT STILL...

11/25/2009 08:22:00 AM  
Anonymous bubby said...

HP Sauce are currently bigging up, via Norm, a Hitchens' article which takes issue with the idea that the WOT contributed to Major Hasan's attack at a US base.

Hitchens, who I assume as a key Decent intellectual is always OT, produces an arguement of quite staggering bad faith which ignores all the evidence regarding routes to radicalisation.

At the heart of it is a fundamental misunderstanding, shared with Norm, who should really know better, about the notion of how people see the world and act on their perceptions. Hitch and Norm have a view, that the World looks like X and everyone must see it this way because it really is like X.

So they have a view that the great bulk of the atrocities in the Muslim world are committed by Muslims against other Muslims and so it would be utterly inconcievable for a Muslim to be more concerned
with what the US is doing than say Al Qaeda. Ergo any such concerns must be motivated by 'free floating' religious radicalism.

What's missing from this analysis is an understanding that different groups sometimes interpret the same events very differently- this is realted to a plethora of factors such as identity, culture, history and experience etc.

Hitchens and Norm can seem to understand that this will cause Muslims to interpret events in a radically different light to the way they see things.

In some ways considering Hitchens' strange trajectory post 9/11 I don't expect any more from him than this kind of idiocy. But Norm is supposed to be an intellectual of some sort and for a Professor of Social Science this really is very poor.

11/25/2009 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

thanks for the heads up - I agree that this is an important article and deserves a proper writeup.

11/25/2009 12:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

Another thing perhaps worthy of an article is Gove/CSC's abortive attempt to put Decency at the heart of Tory education policy, as witnessed at PMQs yesterday...

11/26/2009 11:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Simon said...

From the Evening Standard

"David Cameron was embarrassed today after the Tories admitted to mistakes in his attack on the funding of two schools linked to Islamic extremists.

"Senior Tories admitted that the political attack had been “not a perfect operation” although they insist Mr Cameron's main thrust was valid. The admission suggests tensions in the party leadership, with officials in Mr Cameron's camp privately blaming shadow schools minister Michael Gove's team for inadequate research."

Memo to Dave: Don't trust Gove.

11/26/2009 11:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess Cameron was going for his "swamped by people of a different culture" moment, but let down by the CSC's shoddy work. Doesn't this open a flank for Cameron ? If he is going to rely on CSC stuff for PMQ's , that means there can be exposes of the 'anti muslim bigots who feed information to Cameron', with quotes from Douglas Murray's speeches about Islam being an "opportunist infection " winning because of the "AIDS of the West", and "It is late in the day, but Europe still has time to turn around the demographic time-bomb which will soon see a number of our largest cities fall to Muslim majorities. It has to. All immigration into Europe from Muslim countries must stop" , and Alex M-Hitchens articles about how great the English Defence League are.

11/26/2009 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger Gregor said...

'David Cameron was embarrassed today'

I very much doubt it. He got out the 'Gordon Clown for terrorists' soundbite, few people will follow the story beyond that point.

11/26/2009 12:44:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Cohen has Gone Bezerk! over all of this on his Standpoint blog...

11/26/2009 01:19:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

'David Cameron was embarrassed today'

He would have been if he saw Newsnight last night - the Tory guy on there was absolutely bonkers.

11/26/2009 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Nick has mentioned What's Left in his last four blog posts. Maybe he's hard up.

11/26/2009 05:09:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

but why is he promoting that one rather than "Waiting for the Etonians"?

11/26/2009 06:08:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

There's a strong Kathy Olmsted-like element in climate change rejection. The perception that those in charge are not being entirely open and honest is good grounds for suspicion, and the failure to disseminate proper clear evidence means that, er, proper clear evidence has not been disseminated.

I mean, wtf is this: "of the top ten warmest years in this country, eight have happened since 1997". Is that supposed to be conclusive (or indeed any substantial) evidence? Sane and sensible my arse.

The complacent, autocratic assumption that everyone should just accept the conclusions, end of, gives plenty of room for wankers to take advantage.

I accept climate change at least on a balance of probabilities. I think most of those campaigning against its acceptance are doing so in pursuit of particular interests. I think the expected value of action is large and positive. I think there are independent reasons for taking much the same steps anyway.

But I still think the evidence that's actually made available is much shitter than (surely?) it need be, there is bad faith on both sides, and the climate change asserters rely on non-argumentative methods to propound the argument. Never mind the details of the evidence, we've got that under control, just accept it or we'll start with the meta-arguments about motives, gullibility, the name-calling, etc.

Suppression of falsehood is still supression, and indirectly gives it much more traction. Where is JS Mill when you want him?

The recent news story about the emails shows how debased the debate is. Some email that looks and sounds like data is being at best fudged comes out. Well, I think, that's just an email. I'm not going to disount my credence much for an email or two plucked out of context - let's see what they have to say. Should be easy to clear up.

But no. No real explanation is offered, just hand-waving about how you can't take thigs out of context, and more name-calling. What are people supposed to think?

Then the 'idiotic conspiracy theories' tag - based on read-ahead: 'but...but... if you dispute the evidence, you must think that [fill in suitably ridiculous story]'. Why not just stick to the tractable stuff and explain why the criticisms are wrong. Then there's no need for a priori sociology, psychology, and forensics to establishing that this stuff must be infallible.

The ad hominem (in the respectable sense) about Iraq casualties is quite right. But so might be the complaint that the political, media and press orthodoxy about the grounds for invasion weren't trusted, and that this is not clearly distinguisble from that. The motives for the war are still rather obscure, and will probably pretty soon go to the grave with Cheney, who was basically in a position to be decisive in mashalling the vectors of influence. If something passable as 'WMD' had been found or planted, the consensus would probably not now be that there was a conspiracy to start war.

And just to be quite clear, I don't drive, hate cars, am moderately green in outlook, and disdain the ludicrous crap about how damned impossible it is to harness tide and current and wave, as well as the concentration on the crappest form of green energy: bloody great wind turbines all over the countryside grabbing feebly but noisily at thin air. So there.

11/26/2009 11:21:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

with respect to Tim W's cri de coeur, cf the debate over vaccination, where it is equally clear that one side is right and one side wrong, and equally clear that the side that is right have behaved abominably with respect to the standards they profess to maintain.

11/27/2009 01:06:00 AM  
Blogger pj said...

"equally clear that the side that is right have behaved abominably with respect to the standards they profess to maintain."

Typo? Could you expand on that?

11/27/2009 08:14:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

No, it's not a typo - it's just that (as happens woefully often when scientific debates get politicised), it seems quite clear from the stolen emails that the climate scientists were actually behaving really badly in terms of shutting out other people's research and enforcing a party line; what started off as a perfectly sensible self-defence mechanism against bad science ended up turning into bad-science behaviour itself.

It doesn't change a single fact about global warming, but they did behave really badly and this sort of thing does erode trust in scientists. If so many scientists didn't take such a totally mindless attitude toward sociology of science perhaps this might not happen over and over again.

11/28/2009 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Also see "discussions of nuclear power a generation or two ago", except in that instance they were wrong.

11/29/2009 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

aye there's the etc

11/29/2009 10:36:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

I mean, wtf is this: "of the top ten warmest years in this country, eight have happened since 1997". Is that supposed to be conclusive (or indeed any substantial) evidence? Sane and sensible my arse.

It's an argument against the specific claim that GW stopped happening in 1998, it's not supposed to be an arument to prove AGW itself.

12/01/2009 12:27:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

I don't agree that the emails revealed anything really serious - the worst was an unwise suggestion to delete some mails (but not data) relating to a FOI request.
If you look into the background of some of those email which look bad on the surface there is usually a reasonable explanation.
I agree that there has been a general failure to communicate the hard evidence for AGW, but then the media has been far too quick to give exposure to anti-scientific nonsense.
I don't apologise for using the phrase "idiotic conspiracy theories" - what else do you call the belief that AGW is a hoax in which thousands of them most highly qualified scientists in the field in dozens of countries, some of the most prominent scientific bodies (Royal Society, NAS etc)and the most respected peer-reviewed scientfic journals must neccessarily be complicit?

12/01/2009 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

me: Well, I think, that's just an email. I'm not going to disount my credence much for an email or two plucked out of context - let's see what they have to say. Should be easy to clear up. But no. No real explanation is offered, just hand-waving about how you can't take thigs out of context...

aa: If you look into the background of some of those email which look bad on the surface there is usually a reasonable explanation.

----------------------

me: Then the 'idiotic conspiracy theories' tag - based on read-ahead: 'but...but... if you dispute the evidence, you must think that [fill in suitably ridiculous story]'.

aa: the belief that AGW is a hoax in which thousands of them most highly qualified scientists in the field in dozens of countries, some of the most prominent scientific bodies (Royal Society, NAS etc)and the most respected peer-reviewed scientfic journals must neccessarily be complicit

-------------------

me: I mean, wtf is this: "of the top ten warmest years in this country, eight have happened since 1997". Is that supposed to be conclusive (or indeed any substantial) evidence?

aa: It's an argument against the specific claim that GW stopped happening in 1998

No, it specifically isn't.

12/05/2009 10:52:00 PM  

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