Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Warmist's Case For Lies And Fraud

IT MAY not in itself justify The Conversation's $6 million dollar existence, but this report on "impossible" crystals is fascinating. Read and enjoy if geological curiosities are of interest, but hold no hope of further entertainment at the site because academia's leading vanity press soon returns to form, which is a pity. After a bona fide man of science's thoughts on crystals, every word accessible and honest, Andrew Jaspan's visitors may next be confronted by Stephan Loondowsky, scourge of sceptics, who has slipped the leash once more to throw another foam-flecked fit.

Loondowsky's performance is even more alarming than one of those heretic-hunter videos he likes to post on YouTube (see below), and that is saying something, because this time the University of Western Australia's Savanarola on the Swan does more than serve as his own case study in abnormal psychology. In a display that can only dismay the university's fee-paying parents, the psychologist takes on utilitarianism and, in his efforts to explain it, loses badly. That he does so in defence of Heartland forger Peter Gleick's actions and motives is also a worry.

If Loondowsky were a philospher of old you would want to be very careful when selecting a spot to sit beneath the olive tree, as his gift for exposition and persuasion best suits someone who teaches dogs rather than young minds. Because Churchill deceived Hitler in order to defeat him, thereby improving the common good, lies are justified in a just cause. He doesn't quite mention utilitarianism or Bentham and Mill*, but that is just as well, as neither is known to have had much tolerance for simpletons, and this is the perspective of a mind that is either poisoned with condescension or, just as likely, which has absorbed little and retained less. Nor does he touch on Popper, who begged to differ about betterment being the correct denominator of enlightened choice, arguing that suffering's reduction must always be the better yardstick. Rafe and the Catallaxians could expand Loondowsky's horizons on that point, particularly in regard to the anti-carbon crusade's disproportionate impact on the world's poor, but they would need to be operating an outreach mission to the baffled and challenged if they were to go through the motions with any show of enthusiasm.

On second thoughts, Loondowsky's essay is worth reading, especially by whichever minister-to-be takes up tertiary education in the imminent Coalition government. The University of Sydney recently sent some 100 academics packing and the chill winds which prompted that eviction will grow only colder as the Abbott government's hunt for waste, fraud and abuse leads it quickly to the nation's institutes of higher learning. More mad uncles will be winkled out of their attic rooms and it would be reassuring to believe pink slips are being slid under the most deserving  doors.

* originally mis-typed as "milne". it was late, OK? Thanks to  commenter Stephen Dawson for the fix. 2 - AAAAARRRRRCCCCCHHH. THIS IS A CHERNOBYL MOMENT. NO BLOODY 'S'!!!!


  1. check out rory cahill at the same site.
    Tripe I tells ya

  2. By God he's a first rate tool.

    Can't wait to hear he's getting his pink slip. What a waste of precious oxygen.

  3. What I find of interest is that the "climate Scientists" who predict imminent catastrophe are for the most part Philosophers, Psychologists, Economists and practically every other humanity style academic. There is a dearth of "hard" scientist Physicists and (more importantly to my mind) Engineers.

  4. Lewandowski has the intelligence of a small furry animal. Apparently thinks of himself as one of the academic storm-troopers of the 21st century Green totalitarian apocalypse. One to keep an eye on nervously; could be the new climate commissioner if the pretend iron lady maintains her astute judgement.

    1. Thanks for the vid link, Prof. My god! Dr Strangelove lives!

  5. Don't universities have an embarrassment clause in their employment contracts ?

  6. He would make an excellent re education camp commandant in the soviet style gulags for climate change deniers.Should Tim Flannery resign as Climate Change Commissioner then we have his replacement.

  7. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.February 29, 2012 at 8:09 AM

    Why can't The Conversation engage in a genuine dialogue on climatic issues rather than just running a tired old political line? This is less a conversation, more a harangue. Either change the content, or change the title.

    1. Absolutely - let's start here - http://www.fool-me-once.com/2010/07/global-warming-has-stopped.html

    2. Oh for goodness sake, that's like saying climate stops .. it warms it cools, get over it and adapt.

    3. Numbers, you really are determined to prove to all here that you are both old and stupid. What a good German you are, placing your trust in fruitcakes like Lewandowsky and the IPCC with its massive conflict of interest in maintaining the funding gravy train. I listen to climate scientists with nothing to gain financially. http://www.drroyspencer.com/2012/02/ten-years-after-the-warming/

  8. Chuck Spinner did a good job of analyzing and commenting on the morality of Gleick's action in the Counterpunch piece below entitled 'Lying for the Cause'


    His commentary incorporates a handy summation of the deep sociological fault line between utilitarian and deontological ethics. Does the end justify the means or not?

  9. The entire Labor cabinet lied and lied and lied for 3 years(up until last week) about how brilliant Rudd was and how excellent were his leadership skills.

    Has the Labor party been living in a moral vacuum all this time, "or does morality legitimately involve a trade-off between competing ethical imperatives that includes consideration of the ultimate outcomes of one’s actions?"

    I need a little guidance, Steph.

  10. What a propagandist!

    There used to be a political commentator, Hans MÜencheberg, for the East German TV and Radio, who did this sort of work, denouncing the "enemy", and this guy seems to be a clone.

    Hans used to give a "translation" of news from the West and how it was being twisted to deceive the good guys, from the East - evidently it was akin to eating cement it was so palatable.

    Steve is probably really pissy he missed out on the good old days when you go to some totalitarian stronghold and re-educate the masses.

    One of those who always believes the customer .. is wrong, and only needs to be re-educated to see the "truth".

    Is he actually educating our youth, will we have compensation cases in the future? Therapy? Stolen generations?

  11. Ha! That voice, those glasses! It could have been some southern cult leader damning talking animals in Disney films as blasphemy likely to incur the wrath of God.

  12. I'm pretty silly so I'm probably wrong, but did you mean Bentham and Mills rather than Bentham and Milne?

    1. senior moment, stephen. Must have been thinking of the vanished glenn milne, who has made no notable contribution to philosophy. Fixed now.

    2. Mill not Mills, surely—unless you refer to the Mills: James as well as his son, John Stuart.

    3. And I think perhaps its Mill, not Mills. And Prof, it's not only mad uncles who need to be retired. Many Faculties are plagued by incompetent women appointed and promoted well above their deserts.

    4. Thus the power of suggestion. I screw up and write Mills, and even the erudite professor is unknowingly swayed. My apologies.

    5. some things are just cursed. that was one of them. this poor man's attempt to make peace with his estranged wife is another:


  13. Loondowsky is also one of those ignorant twats who think it's ever so superior to say "the data are".

    It just marks him as a supercilious wanker though:

    "The word `data', in English, is a singular mass noun. It is thus a deliberate archaism and a grammatical and stylistic error to use it as a plural.

    The Latin word data is the neuter plural past participle of the first conjugation verb dare, `to give'.

    The Latin word ‘data’ appears to have made its way into English in the mid 17th century making its first appearance in the 1646 sentence `From all this heap of data it would not follow that it was necessary.'

    Note that this very first appearance of the word in English refers to a quantity of data, a `heap', rather than a number.

    The English word `data' is therefore a noun referring variously to measurements, observations, images, and the other raw materials of scientific enquiry.

    `Data' now refers to a mass of raw information, which is measure rather than counted, and this is as true now as it was when the word made its 1646 debut.

    ‘Data’ is naturally and consistently used as a mass noun in conversation: the question is asked how much data an instrument produces, not how many; it is asked how data is archived, not how they are archived; there is talk of less data rather than fewer; and talk of data having units, saying they have a megabyte of data, or 10 CDs, or three nights, and never saying `I have 1000 data' and expecting to be understood.

    The universal perception of data as measured rather than counted puts the word firmly and unambiguously in the same grammatical category as `coal', `wheat' and `ore', which is that of the mass, or aggregate, noun.

    As such, it is always and unavoidably grammatically singular. No one would ask `how many wheat do you have?' or say that `the ore are in the train' if one wished to be thought a competent speaker of English; in the same way, and to the same extent, we may not ask `how many data do you have?' or say `the data are in the file' without committing a grammatical error.

    As a footnote; isn't it lucky English is now genderless, making `data' neuter, else we'd have to memorise masculine dati (dati dati datos datorum datis datis) and feminine datae, too?

    It’s much simpler just to speak and write English."

    1. English is not now genderless. See, for example the pronouns, he, she and it.
      Data may be singular in the sense you suggest, as a group noun; but it is neither ignorant nor supercilious to use data, in the correct sense of “provided things”, as plural. Similarly, media, agenda, bacteria and criteria are plural, as are cherubim, bedouin and seraphim withal.

    2. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.February 29, 2012 at 2:33 PM

      Yes, when we dismiss being all analytically numeric and fractional about it, data as a plural is too tricky by half.

      Thanks for putting a strongly argued and supported case for common English usage.

    3. I am grateful for that neat analysis by Anon.. It makes sense to me.
      But can she (he) do similar with the learned folk who use 'musea' as the plural of 'museum'? (By golly, 'musea' is a jarring word - I will feel much better if its use is incorrect).

    4. What a lovely putdown of an ignorant twat, Anon. Etymology is a wonderful thing.

    5. Datus - a giving. Datum - a gift. A Latin Dictionary - Lewis and Short.

    6. The abridged 'data' argument above was posted from notes I made after several conversations with Norman Gray, Astronomical Data Management, Astronomy Group, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow.

      I’m pleased to inform the billabong his irritation with ‘data are’ wankers has resulted in many more fun-facts being posted here: http://nxg.me.uk/note/2005/singular-data/

  14. This is such a great site. Not only for the Grumpy old Prof, but for the contributions like this. For years I have (incorrectly) understood that 'data' was the plural of the singular 'datum', being unable to remember that much Latin vocab or the proper declension. In practice I have used the word as a singular in writing various business papers. My thinking was that even if it was wrong, it is accepted in common usage, and it flows. Still I had this niggling concern that my social betters were going to denounce me for Crimes against Good Grammar, and ignore the substance of the argument as supported by the datums.

    It’s a pity it should be Anon though. Such a voice should be named.


    1. The voice is revealed above...


    Attended this event at Perth Writers Festival last Sunday:


    “Does every opinion on climate change need to be given the same weight, no matter what the qualifications of the opinion giver? Has the media's approach confused the messages around climate change? Misha Ketchell, Stephen Lewandowsky, Alom Shaha, James Paterson.”


    “The University of Western Australia Winthrop Professor Lewandowsky (WA) is a cognitive scientist studying the role scepticism plays in processing information.”

    Misha Ketchell replaced Andrew Jaspan. He is managing editor of The Conversation website. Worked on ABC TV's Media Watch. Previouslyeditor of Crikey. http://au.linkedin.com/pub/misha-ketchell/25/274/2b3

    Woeful performance from MS, full of ad hominems, silly false analogies, etc. Like so many liberal arts graduates, uncritically embraces Oreskes' nonsense.

    James Patterson (IPA) outnumbered, but impressive.

    Lewandowsky sought to discredit AGW/CC critics by referring to a (unnamed) meteorologist from NZ who apparently appeared recently on a Sunrise TV program and allegedly was the author of a book on "Cat Palmistry – How to read your cat’s paw".

    Credibility reached new depths when he seriously suggested that: “if there is any uncertainty about CC, it should scare us even MORE (than the certainty)!”

    Just around the corner, bust of an ancient Greek, with this inscription in stone:


  16. Lewandowsky opens with this misquote from Churchill: “Truth is so precious that she should be attended by a bodyguard of lies”.
    The full quote is: "In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies". Churchill was referring to the war strategy where it is helpful to mislead the enemy.
    In this case the "enemy" was not the Heartland Institute, they know what their policies are, Gleick's fakery was not directed there.
    Gleick's intent was to mislead the alarmists' enemy, the public.

  17. Methinks he'd be right at home with a career change as a cleaner thinking man pouring out his heart to Dr Jan