Italy Erases 600 years of Scientific Progress

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The next time some liberal tells you the United States needs to act more like Europe, tell them, “no, we believe in science.”


Italy sentenced six scientists to prison for the felony of failing to predict an earthquake.


The people who brought us da Vinci, Columbus, and Marconi believe that those wizards in lab coats with all the machines that go “beep” are actually gods who control the earth and the stars.

Why not just force scientists to adopt the old Roman gods’ names: Jupiter, Juno, Neptune, Pluto, Apollo.

Most people with a 5th grade education know that science still cannot predict earthquakes with any degree of accuracy, anymore than Harold Camping could predict the end of the world.

By sending six scientists to prison for six years, plus fining them $130,000 each, Italy has likely ended its dalliance with modernity. Who in his right mind would work in a scientific field knowing that any error—or lack of capability—will bring on a prison sentence?

I hope our immigration laws will allow entry for great Italian Brain Exodus.

The left in America believes Europe has all the answers. Clearly, Europe believes it has answers that can’t be answered. And that’s scary in the year 2012.

Don’t Bet On Election Outcomes

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“Anybody will beat Obama.”

I get some comments and see a lot of tweets about the inevitability that any Republican will win in November.

That’s frightening.

The prospect of a Republican beating Obama isn’t frightening, of course—any of the four remaining candidates would be night and day better for our future.  What’s frightening is that so many people bet on the unknowable.

Except in rare cases—one candidate is caught stealing from a church weeks before the election—political elections carry too many variables for anyone to predict their results a month in advance, much less three-quarters of a year ahead.

News agencies and pollsters make their prognostications with an enormous caveat: “if the election were held today.” They’ve learned that a lot can happen between today and November.

The pundits seem to not know this. Or they prefer to ignore the reality of randomness, hoping their guess is correct, in which case, they’ll look like geniuses.

I’ve talked about the influence of memories on elections, and on the role of emotions.  But we can’t ignore the problem of, what Donald Rumsfeld called, “the unknown unknowns.” And these unknowns are why you shouldn’t bet on elections.

Herman Cain had a lot of unknown unknowns, didn’t he? Before the train of women problems emerged, I might have been tempted to say “Herman’s gonna do it.” My mind may have even thought that Herman was going to win.  Had I predicted Cain the winner and Cain had won, would I have been right?

Depends on what you mean by “right.”  On the one hand, the truth condition (Cain won) would match my prediction (Cain will win).  On the other hand, no matter how smart I might think I am, I could not have known Cain would win.  My chances of being right were no better than chance. Or, as Daniel Kahneman might say, my chances of being right are about he same as chimpanzee throwing darts.

If I believe my own predictions, if I build great defenses of my predictions, I might be quite convincing. Still, I’d be falling for what Nassim Taleb calls the narrative fallacy.

Again, from Daniel Kahneman:

Narrative fallacies arise inevitably from our continuous attempt to make sense of the world. The explanatory stories that people find compelling are simple; are concrete rather than abstract; assign a larger role to talent, stupidity, and intentions than to luck; and focus on a few striking events that happened rather than on the countless events that failed to happen. Any recent salient event is a candidate to become the kernel of a causal narrative. Taleb suggests that we humans constantly fool ourselves by constructing flimsy accounts of the past and believing they are true.

Kahneman, Daniel (2011-10-25). Thinking, Fast and Slow (p. 199). Macmillan. Kindle Edition.

The past in politics often includes opinion polls, past elections, and conversations with the butcher.  (If there still are conversations with butchers.)

When you hear someone say, “it doesn’t matter who wins the nomination, because most people will vote for anyone who isn’t Obama,” don’t fall for it.  Remind them that millions of Democrats believed the same about George W. Bush in 2004.

Who wins the Republican nomination matters, or will matter, in November.  But regardless of the nominee, the final outcome of the race is anybody’s guess.

If you want to exert more influence on the outcome of this year’s elections, attend the 3rd Anniversary Tea Party.  We’re dedicating Saturday to making us all more effective campaigners and advocates.

More Evidence That Al Gore’s A Liar

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This gem of bad news for environmentalist wackos comes from the U. S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works via Drudge:  Fewer than half of all peer-reviewed scientists who have written on global warming endorse the idea of man-made global warming.

Of 528 total papers on climate change, only 38 (7%) gave an explicit endorsement of the consensus. If one considers “implicit” endorsement (accepting the consensus without explicit statement), the figure rises to 45%. However, while only 32 papers (6%) reject the consensus outright, the largest category (48%) are neutral papers, refusing to either accept or reject the hypothesis. This is no “consensus.”

Of course, Al Gore and his idiot followers claim such a consensus exists.  But the alarmists carefully select the scientists admitted into the room before they take the poll.

The report by Dr. Klaus Martin-Shulte uses the same data collection methodology as researcher Naomi Oreskes, whose 2004 report invented the myth of a “consensus.”   Shulte, however, used a more recent sampling:  2004 to 2007.

Now that we know the sun is hotter and we know that most scientists do not endorse the IPCC position (written wholly by politicians, not scientists, by the way), can we please stop talking about carbon credits?   By the same token, would Al Gore please just go away?

Daily Tech has more detail.

And the Senate Environment Committee has this.