An awsommely bad idea

Arnold Kling perceives a rather unpromising historical analogy:

I was reminded of the Battle of the Somme, one of the worst policy blunders of all time. Having experienced nothing but failure using offensive tactics up to that point, the Allies decided that what they needed to try was….a really big offensive. Just as Feldstein and Stiglitz pay no attention to the on-the-ground the housing market, the British generals ignored the impact of machine guns on men advancing over open fields.

My guess is that in 1916, anyone who doubted his own ability to direct an enormous offensive involving hundreds of thousands of soldiers would never have made it to general. Similarly, today, anyone who doubts the ability of a handful of technocrats to sensibly allocate $800 billion would never make it into government or the mainstream media…. The arithmetic is mind-boggling. If 500 people have meaningful input, and the stimulus is almost $800 billion, then on average each person is responsible for taking more than $1.5 billion of our money and trying to spend it more wisely than we would spend it ourselves.

Considering that it was some 89 years ago that Ludwig von Mises first demonstrated the Impossibility of Socialist Calculation, it’s stunning to observe that Americans are collectively dumb enough to intentionally repeat one of Mankind’s greatest economic blunders. I mean, I am perfectly aware that most people are idiots, repeating that as a mantra is about the only way one can watch the news with equanimity these days, but come on!

Rethinking free trade

I know some of you have been requesting a blog post, and one will eventually be forthcoming. In the meantime, you’ll have to make do with listening to me discuss the issue with Jerry Hughes on his Straight Talk radio show at 4 PM Eastern. You can listen live if you like.

Mailvox: speaking of skepticism

Jamila sends us a timely reminder that questioning the blind dogma of scientific consensus can actually be a sound basis for proper science:

Findings reported by two University of Illinois at Chicago biologists have reaffirmed a recently disparaged “law” that says a species trait, once lost to the sands of time through evolution, can never be regained. Nineteenth-century Belgian paleontologist Louis Dollo argued that once natural selection for a complex functional trait is relaxed — such as when a species moves into dark caves and loses its need for sight — mutations that degrade the genes needed for the trait accumulate, and the sequence of mutations is unlikely to be exactly reversed.

But over the past two decades many biologists have challenged Dollo’s Law, often by using statistical tools to reconstruct trait evolution and ancestry by looking only at existing species and their present-day traits. Boris Igic, assistant professor of biological sciences, and Emma Goldberg, a post-doctoral student in Igic’s UIC laboratory and now at both UIC and the University of Maryland, became suspicious of those methods — which they also had used in evolutionary studies of plant fertilization. They found the methods flawed, prompting them to examine the challenges to Dollo’s Law.

“We used computer simulations to demonstrate that this methodology consistently gives incorrect results when the loss of a trait truly is irreversible,” said Igic. Fifteen years of studies have relied on these procedures to show that Dollo’s Law is frequently violated, Igic said. “But they used what we found was faulty methodology.”

Biologists using faulty methodology… this is hardly a surprise. Not only are many biologists borderline innumerate – as French mathematician Marcel-Paul Schützenberger demonstrated was true of Richard Dawkins – but they tend to be devoid of even the most basic education in the broader liberal arts. And, of course, it is the faulty methodology inherent in the backtesting approach that underlies most, if not all, evolutionary “predictions” that is the one of the foundations of my skepticism about the multitudinous iterations of the Darwinian model.

From the linked article: “Assessing the validity of Dollo’s Law shows the difficulty in reconstructing evolutionary histories using limited available data….”

You don’t say.

Global Warming: naming names

Now that the polar ice cap is not only NOT ice-free as predicted by the global climate change charlatans as recently as June, but is actually back at levels not seen since 1979, it is becoming ever more clear to all and sundry that the “scientific fact” of global warming is verifiably false. Of course, this also serves to demonstrate that science, as represented by so-called “scientific consensus”, is a fundamentally unreliable tool with which to establish verifiable facts. Because of this, I’m interested in keeping track of those science fetishists who have used global warming as a foundation of their argument that science is the only proper arbiter of reality. Here’s a few of the individuals I have identified as devotees of the global climate change charade; feel free to suggest more additions as you find confirmation of their belief in global warming.

Al Gore
“We could take the whole session talking just about the new scientific evidence of the last few weeks and months showing that the climate crisis is significantly worse and unfolding more rapidly than those on the pessimistic side of the IPCC projections have warned us.”

Richard Dawkins
RT: Is global warming a threat to the human species?

RD: Yes. You could say that the human species is a threat to the human species. I recommend Al Gore’s film on global warming. See it and weep. Not just for the human species.

Daniel Dennett
“The larger problem with this week’s ON FAITH question is that it is being asked at all. This question should not be seen as a matter of personal conviction or opinion at all. People’s hunches, anecdotal recollections, or personal convictions are of no more weight here than they would be about the causes of global warming. You have asked an empirical question, and there are established methods for answering such questions. Encouraging any other approach is actually undermining proper respect for scientific methods and facts, right alongside the nefarious tactics of the tobacco companies, the global warming skeptics, and the “teach the controversy” Intelligent Design crowd who have so successfully persuaded so many people to treat factual material as if it were mere opinion.”

Paul Myers
“What does “environmental religion” mean? Did they teach her to worship dryads or something? Or do you consider teaching someone about global warming, ozone holes, or ongoing extinctions, all established facts about our natural world, to be indoctrination?”

Arianna Huffington
“I am a firm believer that there are not two sides to every issue, and that on some issues the jury is no longer out. The climate crisis is one of these issues.”

But why, one must ask Daniel Dennett, should one have any respect for “scientific method and facts” when they are demonstrably less reliable* than intelligent intuition? The proper level of respect in these particular cases is, in fact, none. Now, at this point it’s still theoretically possible that these individuals will be rewarded in their faith over time if the recent cold snaps around the world don’t turn out to be a genuine trend. But, if they are not correct, then this will conclusively prove that there is no legitimate reason to pay a “scientific consensus” any more regard than one does the collective opinions of any other group of semi-educated people.

The insightful observer will further note that if all of the global warming models are confirmed to be false over the next five years, it will not only be reasonable, but downright necessary, to question other “established facts” held to be true on this same basis of scientific consensus by this gullible flock of the scientific faithful.

*“Dark Matter and Dark Energy…Dark Matter and Dark Energy…. Our two explanations are Dark Matter and Dark Energy…and Dark Vapor…. Our three explanations are Dark Matter, and Dark Energy, and Dark Vapor…and an almost fanatical devotion to Karl Popper…. Our four…no… Amongst our explanations are such elements as Dark Matter, Dark Energy…. I’ll come in again.”