The definition of counterproductive

I’m not a UFO conspiracy guy myself, but it’s not hard to see how this sort of government behavior is going to confirm the more radical X-File-style UFOlogists in their suspicions:

Britain’s official UFO investigation unit and hotline were closed down at the start of December. Since then reports of strange sights in the skies sent to the MoD have been kept for 30 days before being thrown out, the newly released policy document shows. This stance was adopted so defence officials would not have to publish the information in response to freedom of information (FoI) requests or pass it to the National Archives.

It says: ”Reported sightings received from other sources should be answered by a standard letter and… should be retained for 30 days and then destroyed, largely removing any future FoI liability and negating the need to release future files post-November 30 2009.”

The memo reveals that MoD chiefs made a point of not discussing their plans to close the UFO unit with other countries because of fears this could be perceived as part of a global cover-up.

It states: ”We have deliberately avoided formal approaches to other Governments on this issue. Such approaches would become public when the relevant UFO files are released, and would be viewed by ‘ufologists’ as evidence of international collaboration and conspiracy.”

Actually, this approach could work well for the “climate scientists” too. Gather the data, then throw it out as soon as you’ve generated your hockey stick graph so that you don’t have to show it to anyone. Now, I know that most people are idiots but this is really astonishing. Hiding and destroying information is not exactly the most effective means of convincing the general public that there is nothing to hide.

That’s a negative?

This is one of the more positive two-star reviews I’ve ever happened to see:

Overall, Mr Day’s book is too detailed, verbose, and essentially reads too much like an academic level text. Good points made at the end of his book could have been arrived at in fewer pages. This book would do well in a graduate level econ. class.

It’s true, the points made at the end actually don’t require most of the preceding chapters because it’s not necessary to understand the rival economic theories in order to understand the range of forecasts by various economists and the policies that I recommend. RGD is a book about economic theory and recent economic history more than it is one dedicated to practical policy measures. As for it being too detailed and verbose, to paraphrase the immortal words of Cecil Vyse, I can only plead guilty to it being such a book.

Anyhow, as a Japanese reviewer concludes, it’s a pretty good value even so: “I just want to add that the Kindle version is currently $1.59, which is about the price of a 20oz soda. Needless to say, this was the best $1.59 I have spent since gas was less than a dollar a gallon.”

The unfalsifiable "science"

I couldn’t agree more with these commenters at Brad DeLong’s place:

I’d say the point is not that economists have come up with a lot of false hypotheses. That’s normal and just the way hypotheses are. The point is that the status of those so-called hypotheses is not reduced by empirical evidence. As noted by Quiggin, one problem is that they aren’t hypotheses at all but rather statements so vague that they can’t be tested. The other problem is that many economists draw policy implications of statements so vague that they can’t be tested.

Of course, economics isn’t the only “science” that begins with the letter E that suffers from these problems. What’s worse about economics, though, is that they already have at least three alternative hypotheses that work much better on both logical and predictive bases than mainstream Samuelsonianism or Efficient Markets.

None of the mainstream economists saw the financial crisis of 2008 coming. None of them realize that we are in a giant economic contraction now, not an economic recovery. None of them are paying any attention to the commercial real estate debt crisis or understand how that is going to affect the economy. (Here’s a hint: it could be bigger than the total Finance and Household sectors debt-deflation of $1.1 trillion to date and has the potential to take down up to 40% of the banking system in the next three years.) And despite some public tearing of hair-shirts, as per the famous article in The Econonomist, no mainstream economists have shown any signs of abandoning their failed hypotheses, policies, statistics, or econometric models.

If NASA operated like the CBO

A tale by Desert Cat

“Sir, according to our calculations, we should have just entered orbit around the moon.”

“You’re sitting in the parking lot.”

“No, sir, we should be in orbit now.”

“I’m looking out my window right now. I see you in your pod talking to me.”

“Sir, that cannot be. We have carefully checked our calculations. We are in orbit. Shall we initiate the landing sequence?”

“Look, you’re not in orbit around the moon. You did not get off the ground on earth. You’re sitting in your pod in a parking lot behind the building, talking to me on your cell phone. Look out the window of your pod. What do you see?”

“I can’t, sir.”


“I can’t look out the window.”

“Why not?”

“It doesn’t fit with our calculations.”

“Oh FFS! I am ordering you to look out your pod window! Now, I am waving at you from my office window. What do you see?”




“What do you see?”



“Sir, you may not believe this, but I think we’ve come face to face with an alien life form.”


“It is a large, cube-shaped craft, hovering next to our pod. The aliens appear to be trying to hail us…”

Truly excellent work. It is becoming evermore apparent to those who are cognizant of a reasonable range of economic theories that the more stubbornly the Neo-Keynesians cling to their econometric models, the further from reality they will find themselves.

Dante’s Inferno – Cantos VI and VII

A rather interesting take on the fate of nations, I thought. And despite its age, much superior to the absurd notions of the end of history that were being bruited about much more recently.

A question for Ed Brayton

Michael Heath attempts an illogical defense of Ed Brayton:

Ed’s response to the comments regarding him in this thread is here. Ed does have a debating background. He is not a scientist in a relevant field, however he’s scientifically literate and has an in-depth understanding of both the evidence for evolution and creationist attempts to discredit those claims.

One of his commentors in the link above regarding this debate suggested Ed only debate in written form, I agree. I’ve yet to experience a creationist that can debate this subject without complete dependence on rhetorical and logical fallacies coupled to frequent use of the Gish Gallop. A written debate provides no cover for such intellectual dishonesty.

We such a rhetorical fallacy here where Mr. Day fails to address Mr. Brayton’s point and instead moves straight into avoidance mode.

We have absolutely nothing of the kind here. Ed Brayton asked Ellis Washington a question for the apparent purposes of evading a debate with him. Calling my non-response to a question asked of Ellis Washington “a rhetorical fallacy” isn’t just ridiculous, it doesn’t even make sense. First, asking such a question is not an appropriate response to a debate challenge; one does not engage in the debate prior to it actually taking place. Second, asking a question in lieu of a clear yes-or-no response strongly suggests that the individual asking the question does not wish to engage in the debate. Third, it’s a ridiculous and logically fallacious question because the absence of an alternative hypothesis does not, in itself, testify to the accuracy of the current hypothesis. For example, Keynesian general theory has been shown to be false on both logical and empirical grounds and it would still be false on those grounds even in the absence of Neo-Classical, Austrian, or Post-Keynesian Minskyan models.

Of course, one can’t expect much in the way of logic from either biologists or journalists who are said to possess “an in-depth understanding” of “the evidence for evolution”. So, what does Brayton himself have to say?

“Someone went and posted a link to my response to Ellis Washington and my question about endogenous retroviruses in a comment on Vox Day’s blog. Vox did manage to stop combing his mohawk and counting his world class IQ long enough to make a couple of nasty and substanceless comments about me, as did several of his readers. Guess what none of them attempted to do? Explain the patterns found in retroviruses without common descent. I bet Ellis won’t either. What he will do, as I predicted earlier, is try to change the subject from evolution and common descent to atheism. What else can he do?”

Nasty and substanceless comments? Let’s see, what did I say:

1. Brayton doesn’t want to debate Washington. That’s neither nasty nor substanceless. Notice that in neither of his two posts has he answered the obvious question of whether he wants to or not.

2. Brayton wants to avoid debating Washington without looking like he is ducking Washington. That’s neither nasty nor substanceless, that’s exactly what it looks like. And if this is incorrect, Brayton can make it clear that he will debate Washington and will ask Washington the question during their debate.

3. Brayton is a coward. Nasty, perhaps. Not substanceless. Possibly true. That’s exactly what it looks like now to me and pretty much everyone else on both sides of the issue. Michael Heath’s assertion that “Ed has a debating background” says absolutely nothing about whether he wants to debate Washington or not. Now, I know nothing about Ellis Washington and am perfectly open to the possibility that Brayton would destroy him. But, considering Brayton’s past demonstration of illogical infelicities, it is by no means a given.

4. Brayton isn’t very bright. That’s neither nasty nor substanceless, it’s just an observation. He’s a journalist, which is a field well-known for being filled with poorly educated bubbleheads, and his blog shows little in the way of evidence for intelligence much higher than the average literate individual. Furthermore, the fact that he thinks Washington has no options other than turning the discussion from evolution and common descent to atheism shows that his “in-depth understanding of evolution” is nothing of the kind. Brayton appears to be engaging in psychological projection here, for as the past discussions of evolution on this blog will testify, it is usually atheist supporters of evolution who prefer to turn the subject to religion whenever direct questions addressing the various flaws in the theory of evolution by natural selection and common descent are asked.

Anyhow, it’s quite easy to establish if I am correct in my suspicions about Ed Brayton by asking him one simple yes-or-no question. Mr. Brayton, do you want to debate Ellis Washington?

UPDATE: Further evidence supporting my hypothesis that Brayton isn’t that bright: “I made a simple factual claim: there is no coherent, reasonable explanation for the patterns found in endogenous retroviruses other than comment descent (i.e. the theory of evolution). If that’s wrong, show why it’s wrong; if you can’t, then all this talk of arrogance, snobbery and “Christophobia” is irrelevant.”

Brayton clearly doesn’t understand that it does not matter if his “simple factual claim” is wrong or not. What matters is that the truth or falsehood of that “simple factual claim” says nothing about the truth or falsehood of the theory of evolution by natural selection, which happens to be the subject that Washington raised with him. The proposition that there is only one coherent, reasonable explanation for something is not tantamount to the proposition that the coherent, reasonable explanation is actually correct.

It’s the Underwear Olympics

I have to admit, I’m not that interested in the NFL Combine. If you can’t tell if a man is a football player from the tapes of his games, what is a stopwatch going to tell you? Now, if they televised the interviews, that might be interesting.