Saturday, April 30, 2011

Climate science exchange with TPP's Mark Meckler, and Qs for y'all

Minor edit, May 5 (added "analogy" quote)
Tea Party Patriot co-founder Mark Meckler shared the stage with Tom McClintock at Wednesday's TPP Town Hall Meeting, and afterward he spoke with me for a few minutes about climate science and credibility.

Tom McClintock on climate change, in his own words

It seems Tom McClintock was proud enough to post the text of his (March 2009) climate denial speech on his own website, here. (Hat tip to Frank, who'd posted an audio excerpt, for alerting me. )

Thursday, April 28, 2011

What may I blog about? A journo practices & standards Q

My question to you: What aspects of last night's Meckler/McClintock forum are legitimate turf for blogging?

Salient aspects & facts:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dialogue with Tom McClintock on Climate Change

It was a very brief dialogue.

Is Reasoning Built for Winning Arguments, Rather Than Finding Truth?

This is fascinating (and, after this evening, apropos). Mercier and Sperber, via Mooney:
"If reasoning evolved so we can argue with others, then we should be biased in our search for arguments [since] In a discussion, I have little use for arguments that support your point of view or that rebut mine. Accordingly, reasoning should display a confirmation bias: it should be more likely to find arguments that support our point of view or rebut those that we oppose. Short (but emphatic) answer: it does, and very much so. The confirmation bias is one of the most robust and prevalent biases in reasoning. This is a very puzzling trait of reasoning if reasoning['s purpose was]... bettering our beliefs—especially as the confirmation bias is responsible for all sorts of mischief….[but] Interestingly, the confirmation bias needs not be a drag on a group’s ability to argue. To the extent that it is mostly the production, and not the evaluation of arguments that is biased—and that seems to be the case—then a group of people arguing should still be able to settle on the best answer, despite the confirmation bias…As a matter of fact, the confirmation bias can then even be considered a form of division of cognitive labor: instead of all group members having to laboriously go through the pros and cons of each option, if each member is biased towards one option, she will find the pros of that options, and the cons of the others—which is much easier—and the others will do their own bit."
Why we need other people to bounce stuff off of: (whether we realize it or not)
"When people reason alone, there will often be nothing to hold their confirmation bias in check. This might lead to distortions of their beliefs. As mentioned above, this is very much the case. When people reason alone, they are prone to all sorts of biases. For instance, because they only find arguments supporting what they already believe in, they will tend to become even more persuaded that they are right or will develop stronger, more polarized attitudes."

The only known antidote to error

"Not even those of us who are scientifically trained actually do objective science consistently well. Like all other humans, we are predisposed, with biased, emotionally prejudiced human minds, to first see what we want or expect to see.
The one tool that has ever allowed humans to penetrate the veil of their own talented called Reciprocal Accountability. Or criticism, the only known antidote to error. We may not be able to spot our own mistakes and delusions, but others will gladly point them out for us! Moreover, this favor is one that your foes will happily do for you! (How nice of them.) And, in return, you will eagerly return the favor. In our enlightenment - and especially in science - this process is tuned to maximize truth-output and minimize blood-on-the-floor. But it requires some maturity. Some willingness to let the process play out. Willingness to negotiate. Calmness and even humor.

It doesn't work amid rage or "culture war." Which is precisely why culture war is being pushed on us. By those who want the enlightenment to fail."
- David Brin

McClintock/Tea Party town hall tonight; what will you ask?

Who/what/where/when: (from NCTPP)
Wednesday night, April 27. ...Tea Party Co-founder Mark Meckler and Congressman Tom McClintock....will be discussing budgets, deficits, and taxes, and plan to take questions from the audience.
...The Horsemen’s Club, 10600 Bubbling Wells Road (off Brunswick), Grass Valley. Event starts at 6:30...
What to ask McClintock?

I understand he voted No on this:
Congress accepts the scientific findings of the Environmental Protection Agency that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for public health and welfare.
Is it true that he voted against it? If so, which part(s) does he not accept?

Can he see a shift in coloration from left to right in this image?

Here's a letter (link) from a science-aligned Republican to his science-doubting congressman; feel free to adapt it.

One person (not me) suggests asking: "where were you really born?"

Also, this from Krugman (myth vs. fact on spending under Obama) might provide some ideas.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Science of Why We Don't Believe Science - Mooney, in MoJo

How our brains fool us on climate, creationism, and the vaccine-autism link; in the latest issue of Mother Jones.
"...motivated reasoning... our positive or negative feelings about people, things, and ideas arise much more rapidly than our conscious thoughts..." etc.

Very much worth reading.

Monday, April 18, 2011

On April 28, Tim DeChristopher Climate Trial Presentation, NSJ

Ran across this while perusing The Union's calendar (which I don't find easy to use; how do you de-clog calendars to filter out the usual repetitive stuff?)

Tim DeChristopher Climate Trial Presentation

WhenThursday, April 28, 2011, 7 – 8:30pm
WhereNorth Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center
Event typeYouth/Leadership
Event descriptionThe trial of Tim DeChristopher: a multi-media presentation by the Finding the Good traveling semester students. In March 2011, the students and faculty of Finding the Good traveled to Salt Lake City for the trial of activist Tim DeChristopher, who derailed a BLM oil and gas lease auction at the end of the Bush administration. This presentation tells their story and is a fundraiser for the film, "Bidder 70."

7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 28, at the N. Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center on the San Juan Ridge.

For information, call (530) 265-5490.

Is there a good western Nevada County events calendar somewhere, that I don't know about?

(The Union's calendar is full of exercise classes and ongoing art displays and doesn't allow the kind of filtering I'd like (and AFAIK doesn't have permalinks to events); KNCO's seems decent but underutilized (and yo, folks, Reno is not in western Nevada County); KVMR has its own & some of its radio folks' events only; they point us to Nevada County Gold's calendar (quality events, but sparse) and to Yubanet (underutilized, and again, with many nonlocal events))

And a fine demonstration was had by (nearly) all...

Tax Day Make Them Pay, outside the Bank of America in Nevada City, 4pm today, with Dixieland musical accompaniment:

The usual melange of messages and causes, eliciting complaint from one participant who was there for the demonstration's "cut corporate welfare" purpose only.

20-20 hindsight - should have gotten comments from BofA staff and customers, & a photo of the contrarian on opposite corner whose protest sign read "I like ice cream".

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Home&Garden show; A.P.P.L.E. clarifies focus

Note: see comments for discussion of the "A.P.P.L.E. clarifies focus" section of this post; there is dissent.

This weekend is the Home&Garden show at the fairgrounds, which are flat-out gorgeous. Don't miss the stock dog demo*.
Show costs $5 to park, but after that, admission is free.

APPLE had a booth, and a prominent tagline that I hadn't noticed before:
Living Well in a Changing World

This slogan does better match what APPLE does, & what's on offer at the APPLE Center up on Commercial St.; where I've had some conflict recently (the poster I assembled was non grata, particularly Tim DeChristopher's "Climate change is a war against the young") over the deliberate avoidance of the topic of climate change, except for the diversionary (link) "you can address climate change by personal carbon-footprint action" variety; but the "living well/changing world" tagline clarifies why climate education - about the science, about the stakes, about the moral imperative to fight it, about what actions are effective - lies beyond APPLE's bailiwick.

Their board president was in the booth, & confirmed-though-not-in-so-many-words that this [living well in a changing world] is indeed their focus.

(Which is their prerogative; it's just that many in this community are under the impression that APPLE advocates for climate change education & solutions as well.)

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Simple test to assess critical thinking skills

You can use this test to calibrate anyone; not just your representatives in government.


1. Ask how they would (or did) vote, on this:

"Congress accepts the scientific findings of the Environmental Protection Agency that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for public health and welfare." (link)
(Added Apr 15: Names of US Congressmembers who deny climate change, so their grandchildren can find them)

2. Ask if they see any pattern, to the colors in this image:
(are the colors randomly distributed, or do they change, from one side to the other?)


Refer them to David Brin (then Skeptical Science).

And finally, assess, based on how they've responded to this information.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

What organization's name is on the W-2 form of CABPRO executive director Martin Light?

I'll bet you a dollar it's not CABPRO.
(nor California Association of Business, Property and Resource Owners)
(Update: it seems I would have lost the dollar, according to a former executive director.)

that is all...

Sat a.m. update: yesterday I asked
this question of a former CABPRO director, who answered that he had no idea. Hmmm...
(A for-the-future etiquette resolution: next time, before
asking a Q & thereby taking up 10 seconds of someone's time, when they're sitting around waiting, I shall request permission to take up the time & ask the Q. Apologies and mild groveling, for not having thought to do so.)