Climate Delusional Disorder (CDD) 2021 Update

2021 Update comes from Brendan O’Neill writing at Spiked Climate Derangement Syndrome.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.   Let’s Go, Brendan!

It’s the hysteria about climate change that poses the greatest threat to humanity.

The first thing to note about Climate Derangement Syndrome, whether it’s coming from the posh road-blockers of Insulate Britain, Clarence House or the Church of England, is that it has nothing whatsoever to do with science. This eco-hysteria single-handedly shatters the myth that contemporary environmentalism is a science-driven movement, merely concerned with acting upon the warnings contained in graphs and models drawn up by climatologists. Show me the piece of scientific research that says a gang of boys will rape your mother if we don’t achieve Net Zero by 2030. Where’s the peer-reviewed study that pinpoints the moment when slaughter, rape and genocide will occur if our governments fail to cut back on fossil fuels?

Of course no such studies exist. These malarial visions of future horrors spring from the realm of fantasy, not science. They are the misanthropic prejudices of the depressed middle classes, not scientific projections. They emerge from the well of existential dread in which the contemporary elites wallow, not from cool, calm modelling. And the truth is that this has long been the case with climate-change alarmism. ‘Science’ is the garb thrown on what in reality is the End Times foreboding of this new millennium’s morally at-sea elites. ‘Climate change’ is the all-encompassing idea of doom through which the Western bourgeoisie expresses its sense of moral, political and economic exhaustion.

All the recent talk of doomsday and genocide captures the extent to which the issue of climate change has been catastrophised to an extraordinary degree, how it has been transformed:

  • from a perfectly manageable problem into an apocalypse modernity brought upon itself;
  • from a scientific theory about mankind’s impact on the planet into certain, unquestionable proof of the folly of the industrial era;
  • from one challenge among many facing humankind in the 21st century into an indictment of the entire human species.
  • In short, from a technical conundrum into a God-like revelation of the wickedness of greedy, industrious mankind.

Climate Derangement Syndrome is at root a revolt against modernity. It is a reactionary, Romantic, nostalgic cry of angst against the incredible world of production and consumption mankind has created over the past 200 years. This is why some at COP26 openly denounced the Industrial Revolution. First came Greta Thunberg, the prophetess of doom of contemporary environmentalism. She angrily denounced the British government as ‘climate villains’. The UK, she said, is largely responsible for the horrors of climate change – this ‘more or less… started in the UK since that’s where the Industrial Revolution started, [where] we started to burn coal’.

It was the Industrial Revolution that dragged the populace away from the brutal, back-breaking serfdom of the land into the mad, teeming cities of London, Manchester, Sheffield, Glasgow. It revolutionised how we worked, how we lived, how we conceived of ourselves. It was the cradle of solidarity and struggle and demands for voting rights, employment rights, educational rights. It is not a coincidence that life expectancy was depressingly short for all of human history until the Industrial Revolution, when it started its stunning and steady rise. Without this revolution, most of us would still be tied to the land, never venturing further than the farm fence, unable to read, dead by 35. That’s the idyll eco-regressives fantasise about? These people are as historically illiterate as they are pseudo-scientific.

The COP26 mockery of the Industrial Revolution – more than that, the depiction of that revolution as the starting pistol of the coming climatic genocide – shines a harsh light on what is motoring today’s green hysteria. Not steam or coal, that’s for sure.

No, it’s the elites’ loss of faith in modernity and in the human project more broadly. This is why climate-change hysteria is a far larger problem for humankind than climate change itself.

As Bjorn Lomborg recently explained on spiked, climate change is a ‘middling problem’. It is the derangement over climate change, the painting of it as an End Times event we probably deserve, that truly disrupts and undermines our civilisation. With its misanthropic disdain for human behaviour and aspirations, with its revisionist treatment of the birth of modernity as essentially a crime against Mother Earth, with its incessant demands for reining in economic growth, and with its censorious branding of anyone who questions any part of the regressive green agenda as a ‘climate-change denier’, climate-change alarmism is an express menace to growth, democracy, freedom of speech and the right to dream of an even more prosperous future for all.

Prince Charles is right that we need to get on a ‘war footing’. Not against climate change, though. Rather, against this ceaseless diminishment of humanity’s achievements and the baleful, untrue claim that modern man is a plague on the planet. This manmade apocalypticism threatens to upend the remarkable civilisation we have created far more than a bit of carbon does.

Background on Climate Delusional Disorder

WebMD tells What You Need to Know about this condition.  Delusions and Delusional Disorder. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Delusions are the main symptom of delusional disorder. They’re unshakable beliefs in something that isn’t true or based on reality. But that doesn’t mean they’re completely unrealistic. Delusional disorder involves delusions that aren’t bizarre, having to do with situations that could happen in real life, like being followed, poisoned, deceived, conspired against, or loved from a distance. These delusions usually involve mistaken perceptions or experiences. But in reality, the situations are either not true at all or highly exaggerated.

People with delusional disorder often can continue to socialize and function normally, apart from the subject of their delusion, and generally do not behave in an obviously odd or bizarre manner. This is unlike people with other psychotic disorders, who also might have delusions as a symptom of their disorder. But in some cases, people with delusional disorder might become so preoccupied with their delusions that their lives are disrupted.

What Are the Complications of Delusional Disorder?

  • People with delusional disorder might become depressed, often as the result of difficulties associated with the delusions.
  • Acting on the delusions also can lead to violence or legal problems. For example, a person with an erotomanic delusion who stalks or harasses the object of the delusion could be arrested.
  • Also, people with this disorder can become alienated from others, especially if their delusions interfere with or damage their relationships.

Treatment most often includes medication and psychotherapy (a type of counseling). Delusional disorder can be very difficult to treat, in part because those who have it often have poor insight and do not know there’s a psychiatric problem. Studies show that close to half of patients treated with antipsychotic medications show at least partial improvement.

Delusional disorder is typically a chronic (ongoing) condition, but when properly treated, many people can find relief from their symptoms. Some recover completely, while others have bouts of delusional beliefs with periods of remission (lack of symptoms).

Unfortunately, many people with this disorder don’t seek help. It’s often hard for people with a mental disorder to know they aren’t well. Or they may credit their symptoms to other things, like the environment. They also might be too embarrassed or afraid to seek treatment. Without treatment, delusional disorder can be a lifelong illness.

An example of CDD

H.Sterling Burnett and James Taylor write at Epoch Times United Nations Misleads About Food Production and Climate Change. Excerpts in italics with my bolds

There is no better way to describe the arguments contained in the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) new report, “Climate Change and Land,” released just in time to influence discussions at the United Nations’ 68th Civil Society Conference. Citing anecdotal evidence instead of hard data, IPCC’s new report paints a dark, disturbing picture about the current and future state of crop production and food availability.

“Climate change, including increases in frequency and intensity of extremes, has adversely impacted food security and terrestrial ecosystems as well as contributed to desertification and land degradation in many regions,” the report claims.

“Warming compounded by drying has caused yield declines in parts of Southern Europe. Based on indigenous and local knowledge, climate change is affecting food security in drylands, particularly those in Africa, and high mountain regions of Asia and South America,” the report continues.

Here, climate alarmists in the United Nations are doing nothing more than “pounding the table,” hoping fear will drive the public to demand “climate action now!”

Of course, the fake news media eagerly amplified the alarmist report. For example, an Aug. 8 NBC News headline reads, “Climate change could trigger a global food crisis, new U.N. report says.” Many other major media outlets published similar stories.

The biggest problem is the report’s thesis and “facts” are totally wrong—and that’s quite a problem!

For instance, the United Nations’ own data shows farmers throughout the world are setting new production records virtually every year. In fact, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reports new records were set in each of the past five years for global cereal production, which is composed of the Big Three food staples: corn, wheat, and rice.

Indeed, World-Grain.com reports in 2016 world cereal production broke records for the third straight year, exceeding the previous record yield, recorded in 2015, by 1.2 percent and topping the record yield in 2014 by 1.5 percent. These facts should not surprise anyone because hundreds of studies and experiments conclusively demonstrate plants do better under conditions of higher carbon dioxide and modestly warmer temperatures.

The ongoing record crop production perfectly illustrates the difference between the Climate Delusion perpetrated by IPCC and other government-funded alarmists and what is actually happening in the real world. To make the news gloomy, IPCC’s report nefariously engages in semantic tricks to give readers a false impression of declining global crop production. The report cites anecdotal evidence crop yields are declining in “parts” of Southern Europe, ignoring copious data showing crop yields are rising across the globe, including throughout Southern Europe.

Instead of highlighting this welcome development, IPCC focuses on what it claims are yield reductions in some small regions of Southern Europe. Readers who are not paying close attention will be led to believe, incorrectly, that crop yields are declining throughout Southern Europe. In reality, the exact opposite is true!

IPCC claims “indigenous and local knowledge” indicates food production is declining “in drylands” in Africa, Asia, and South America. However, such indigenous and local knowledge does not trump objective data, which are readily available to IPCC’s authors and show crop yields are increasing throughout Africa, Asia, and South America as a whole, including in dryland areas.

Tragically, IPCC’s misleading claims result in people who dare to point out crop production continues to set new records being accused of “denying” climate change and attacking science. Climate change is real and record crop production is in fact consistent with it. In fact, record crop production is partly due to climate change.

This is just the latest example of the ongoing Climate Delusion, as radical environmental activists, government bureaucrats, socialists, and a biased news media, looking to transform U.S. society, repeatedly make ridiculous climate claims with no basis in real environmental conditions. They hope the constant drumbeat of authoritative-sounding claims will fool people into stampeding politicians to give governments more power over the economy to combat the false climate crisis.

Fortunately, we can avoid this fate. Factual data showing the truth about global food supplies and other climate conditions are readily available to anyone willing to search the internet. Let’s hope the public accesses the facts. Enacting policies that restrict the use of abundant energy supplies will rob people of choice and harm the economy. This won’t hurt the global elite, but it will result in everyone else living poorer, more precarious lives.

See also Alarmists Anonymous

We Are CO2

Raymond has published a new slide on the World of CO2, shown above.  Carbon is an essential part of every human body, as explained in the accompanying text:

The organic molecules of the human body consist of carbon chains that are used to build carbohydrates, fats, nucleic acids and proteins. The breakdown of carbon compounds is the source of energy we need to live. The air we breathe provides the oxygen needed to break the carbon bond, which then produces CO2, that we exhale.

The set of 14 infographics can be accessed at The World of CO2 – RIC Communications

Infographics can be helpful, in making things simple to understand. CO2 is a complex topic with a lot of information and statistics. These simple step by step charts should help to give you an idea of CO2’s importance. Without CO2, plants wouldn’t be able to live on this planet. Just remember, that if CO2 falls below 150 ppm, all plant life would cease to exist.

– N° 1 Earth’s atmospheric composition
– N° 2 Natural sources of CO2 emissions
– N° 3 Global anthropogenic CO2 emissions
– N° 4 CO2 – Carbon dioxide molecule
– N° 5 The global carbon cycle
– N° 6 Carbon and plant respiration
– N° 7 Plant categories and abundance (C3, C4 & CAM Plants)
– N° 8 Photosynthesis, the C3 vs C4 gap
– N° 9 Plant respiration and CO2
– N° 10 The logarithmic temperature rise of higher CO2 levels.
– N° 11 Earth’s atmospheric composition in relationship to CO2
– N° 12 Human respiration and CO2 concentrations.
– N° 13 600 million years of temperature change and atmospheric CO2

There is also a high quality introductory video:

Raymond has also produced a second series of Simple Science graphics on the theme The World of Climate Change.

Infographics can be helpful, in making things simple to understand. Climate change is a complex topic with a lot of information and statistics. These simple step by step charts are here to better understand what is occurring naturally and what could be caused by humans. What is cause for alarm and what isn’t cause for alarmism if at all. Only through learning is it possible to get the big picture so as to make the right decisions for the future.

– N° 1 600 million years of global temperature change
– N° 2 Earth‘s temperature record for the last 400,000 years
– N° 3 Holocene period and average northern hemispheric temperatures
– N° 4 140 years of global mean temperature
– N° 5 120 m of sea level rise over the past 20‘000 years
– N° 6 Eastern European alpine glacier history during the Holocene period.

For example:

Editing Science Textbooks for Desired Public Opinion

 

An article at Science Daily is  Uncertainty on climate change in textbooks linked to uncertainty in students.  The author shows how important it is not to leave students in any doubt regarding politically correct opinions. Excepts in italics with my bolds.

A new study suggests textbook wording that portrays climate change information as uncertain can influence how middle and high school students feel about the information, even for students who say they already know about climate change and its human causes.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Education Research, has implications for how teachers can prepare students to face misinformation about climate change.

“I thought students’ knowledge or social norms surrounding climate change would buffer them from misinformation,” said study author K.C. Busch, an assistant professor of STEM education at NC State. “But it didn’t matter how much knowledge students had; they did not react to the text differently. That’s problematic. We think that if we could improve students’ knowledge, they can integrate that knowledge in the real world to sniff out misinformation or disinformation that’s being presented to them. That didn’t happen.”

In the study, Busch surveyed 453 students in California about how certain they felt about climate change before and after they read one of two articles about climate change. The articles’ wording suggested either low or high uncertainty about climate change.

Busch took the high uncertainty text directly from an earth science textbook published in 2008 in California. For the other reading, she adapted the textbook language to remove uncertainty. For example, she changed “not all scientists agree about the causes of global warming” to “97% of scientists agree about the causes of global warming.”

“The cleanup of what I’ll call the ‘bad text’ was actually super slight,” Busch said. “It was so slight that I was almost thinking that it wasn’t going to have any effect whatsoever. This study showed strategies that are subtly used to cue the reader did have an effect.”

Although students in both groups began the experiment with similar average certainty about climate change, students’ certainty changed after reading the texts. The survey students took used a four-point scale, with 4 meaning students were “extremely sure” climate change is caused by people, and 1 meaning they were “not at all sure.”

For students who read the text framing climate change as uncertain, average certainty decreased from a 2.81 to a 2.67 average on the four-point scale. Meanwhile, students’ certainty increased from an average of 2.89 to 3.16 if they read a text that used a more straightforward wording.

Before the study, the students reported that, on average, they were knowledgeable about the causes and effects of climate change, and very sure it was caused by humans.

They were also moderately concerned about climate change, and confident they could do something about it. However, Busch saw that knowledge and beliefs of students and of the people in their social circle didn’t have a statistically significant impact on how students reacted to the textbook information.

The findings built on a previous study that found language in four sixth grade textbooks adopted in California presented climate change as uncertain in terms of whether it will happen, as well as its human causes. Busch said that there are other signs that climate change topics are absent or mistreated in classrooms. A report from the National Center for Science Education found 10 states received a grade of D or worse for their standards for climate change education, and that included some of the country’s most populous states.

“We chose a sixth grade text for this study, and my son was in sixth grade at that time. This was the textbook that he had in his science classroom,” she said. “Textbooks last in classrooms forever, so it very well could still be in circulation.”

But beyond replacing textbooks, Busch said it could be that educators need to teach students about the process and language that scientists use to describe their conclusions to help them evaluate information in real-time, as well as to bolster their ability to critically evaluate information and misinformation.

“My recommendations for education are teaching more basic skills, including an understanding of how science is done and the language of science and certainty,” Busch said. “Science has often been presented as a book of canonical, established fact. We need students, and the general public, to have a stronger understanding of the scientific process.”

More research is needed to understand how teens use their outside knowledge, beliefs and the beliefs of their friends and relatives to evaluate climate change information, Busch said. Other studies have found that social norms — such as the beliefs and attitudes of their friends and family members — can be very influential for teens, and can predict how accepting young people are of climate change. It could be that the students in the study saw the survey as a test, and it may not reflect their actual views.

The study, “Textbooks of Doubt, Tested: The Effect of a Denialist Framing on Adolescents’ Certainty about Climate Change,” was published online Sept. 9, 2021, in Environmental Education Research. It was funded with a research fellowship from the Stanford Interdisciplinary Graduate Research Fellowship and with a research grant from Stanford Graduate School of Education.

Comment:  Where to start?  The author acknowledges that science is not a canon of beliefs to be adopted, and then seeks to remove any doubt in textbooks which students regard as authoritative.  She edits a text to claim as a fact 97% of scientists agree, apparently unaware this is an activist fabrication.  She presumes a consensus on global warming/climate change, and advocates students should believe this instead investigating the range of viewpoints. She wishes to whitewash away the uncertainties, lest students discover dissonance in their preconceptions from social interactions.

Welcome to the snowflake academy, where critical intelligence is not allowed.

Science Also a Pandemic Victim

John P.A. Ioannidis writes at The Tablet How the Pandemic Is Changing the Norms of Science. Excerpts in italics with my bolds aand some added images.

Imperatives like skepticism and disinterestedness are being junked to fuel political warfare that has nothing in common with scientific methodology

Before the pandemic, the sharing of data, protocols, and discoveries for free was limited, compromising the communalism on which the scientific method is based. It was already widely tolerated that science was not universal, but the realm of an ever-more hierarchical elite, a minority of experts. Gargantuan financial and other interests and conflicts thrived in the neighborhood of science—and the norm of disinterestedness was left forlorn.

As for organized skepticism, it did not sell very well within academic sanctuaries. Even the best peer-reviewed journals often presented results with bias and spin. Broader public and media dissemination of scientific discoveries was largely focused on what could be exaggerated about the research, rather than the rigor of its methods and the inherent uncertainty of the results.

Nevertheless, despite the cynical realization that the methodological norms of science had been neglected (or perhaps because of this realization), voices struggling for more communalism, universalism, disinterestedness, and organized skepticism had been multiplying among scientific circles prior to the pandemic. Reformers were often seen as holding some sort of a moral higher ground, despite being outnumbered in occupancy of powerful positions. Reproducibility crises in many scientific fields, ranging from biomedicine to psychology, caused soul-searching and efforts to enhance transparency, including the sharing of raw data, protocols, and code. Inequalities within the academy were increasingly recognized with calls to remedy them. Many were receptive to pleas for reform.

Opinion-based experts (while still dominant in influential committees, professional societies, major conferences, funding bodies, and other power nodes of the system) were often challenged by evidence-based criticism. There were efforts to make conflicts of interest more transparent and to minimize their impact, even if most science leaders remained conflicted, especially in medicine. A thriving community of scientists focused on rigorous methods, understanding biases, and minimizing their impact. The field of metaresearch, i.e., research on research, had become widely respected. One might therefore have hoped that the pandemic crisis could have fostered change.

Indeed, change did happen—but perhaps mostly for the worst.

Lack of communalism during the pandemic fueled scandals and conspiracy theories, which were then treated as fact in the name of science by much of the popular press and on social media. The retraction of a highly visible hydroxychloroquine paper from the The Lancet was a startling example: A lack of sharing and openness allowed a top medical journal to publish an article in which 671 hospitals allegedly contributed data that did not exist, and no one noticed this outright fabrication before publication. The New England Journal of Medicine, another top medical journal, managed to publish a similar paper; many scientists continue to heavily cite it long after its retraction.

The pandemic led seemingly overnight to a scary new form of scientific universalism. Everyone did COVID-19 science or commented on it. By August 2021, 330,000 scientific papers were published on COVID-19, involving roughly a million different authors. An analysis showed that scientists from every single one of the 174 disciplines that comprise what we know as science has published on COVID-19. By the end of 2020, only automobile engineering didn’t have scientists publishing on COVID-19. By early 2021, the automobile engineers had their say, too.

Many amazing scientists have worked on COVID-19. I admire their work. Their contributions have taught us so much. My gratitude extends to the many extremely talented and well-trained young investigators who rejuvenate our aging scientific workforce. However, alongside thousands of solid scientists came freshly minted experts with questionable, irrelevant, or nonexistent credentials and questionable, irrelevant, or nonexistent data.

Social and mainstream media have helped to manufacture this new breed of experts. Anyone who was not an epidemiologist or health policy specialist could suddenly be cited as an epidemiologist or health policy specialist by reporters who often knew little about those fields but knew immediately which opinions were true. Conversely, some of the best epidemiologists and health policy specialists in America were smeared as clueless and dangerous by people who believed themselves fit to summarily arbitrate differences of scientific opinion without understanding the methodology or data at issue.

Disinterestedness suffered gravely. In the past, conflicted entities mostly tried to hide their agendas. During the pandemic, these same conflicted entities were raised to the status of heroes.

For example, Big Pharma companies clearly produced useful drugs, vaccines, and other interventions that saved lives, though it was also known that profit was and is their main motive. Big Tobacco was known to kill many millions of people every year and to continuously mislead when promoting its old and new, equally harmful, products. Yet during the pandemic, requesting better evidence on effectiveness and adverse events was often considered anathema. This dismissive, authoritarian approach “in defense of science” may sadly have enhanced vaccine hesitancy and the anti-vax movement, wasting a unique opportunity that was created by the fantastic rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines. Even the tobacco industry upgraded its reputation: Philip Morris donated ventilators to propel a profile of corporate responsibility and saving lives, a tiny fraction of which were put at risk of death from COVID-19 because of background diseases caused by tobacco products.

Other potentially conflicted entities became the new societal regulators, rather than the ones being regulated. Big Tech companies, which gained trillions of dollars in cumulative market value from the virtual transformation of human life during lockdown, developed powerful censorship machineries that skewed the information available to users on their platforms. Consultants who made millions of dollars from corporate and government consultation were given prestigious positions, power, and public praise, while unconflicted scientists who worked pro bono but dared to question dominant narratives were smeared as being conflicted. Organized skepticism was seen as a threat to public health.

There was a clash between two schools of thought, authoritarian public health versus science—and science lost.

Heated but healthy scientific debates are welcome. Serious critics are our greatest benefactors. John Tukey once said that the collective noun for a group of statisticians is a quarrel. This applies to other scientists, too. But “we are at war” led to a step beyond: This is a dirty war, one without dignity. Opponents were threatened, abused, and bullied by cancel culture campaigns in social media, hit stories in mainstream media, and bestsellers written by zealots. Statements were distorted, turned into straw men, and ridiculed. Wikipedia pages were vandalized. Reputations were systematically devastated and destroyed. Many brilliant scientists were abused and received threats during the pandemic, intended to make them and their families miserable.

Politics had a deleterious influence on pandemic science. Anything any apolitical scientist said or wrote could be weaponized for political agendas. Tying public health interventions like masks and vaccines to a faction, political or otherwise, satisfies those devoted to that faction, but infuriates the opposing faction. This process undermines the wider adoption required for such interventions to be effective. Politics dressed up as public health not only injured science.

It also shot down participatory public health where people are empowered, rather than obligated and humiliated.

There was absolutely no conspiracy or preplanning behind this hypercharged evolution. Simply, in times of crisis, the powerful thrive and the weak become more disadvantaged. Amid pandemic confusion, the powerful and the conflicted became more powerful and more conflicted, while millions of disadvantaged people have died and billions suffered.

I worry that science and its norms have shared the fate of the disadvantaged. It is a pity, because science can still help everyone. Science remains the best thing that can happen to humans, provided it can be both tolerant and tolerated.

John P.A. Ioannidis is Professor of Medicine and Professor of Epidemiology and Population Health, as well as Professor (by courtesy) of Biomedical Science and Statistics, at Stanford University. His complete COVID-19-related publications can be found here.

 

Socialists Command, Failures Ensue. Here’s why.

quote-social-engineering-the-art-of-replacing-what-works-with-what-sounds-good-thomas-sowell-133-50-80We are witnessing again politicians attempting to command social outcomes, which in market societies not only fails but makes matters worse.

An insight is provided by an observer of the “Blue State Model” example of NY under Cuomo and DeBlasio.  At AMAC newsline Cuomo Might Be Leaving Office, But His Failed Blue State Model Remains.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Following a sexual harassment scandal that captured the attention of the nation over the past several months, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that he will resign as governor, effective two weeks from yesterday. But while New Yorkers may finally be rid of their creepy, handsy governor, the legacy of Cuomo’s disastrous policies will unfortunately continue its negative impact on the Empire State and weigh down attempts at economic recovery and growth.

Ironically, if Cuomo had prioritized working with small businesses, eliminating bureaucratic red tape, and removing onerous taxes, he could have had more small businesses and lower costs. But he instead chose to move in the opposite direction and, as is usually the case, more government involvement in private industry created a nightmare for companies and consumers.

One law in particular from earlier this year is a perfect case study, not only in Cuomo’s dreadful governing record, but in the bullying, Big Government, Blue State model that he so vividly represented. On April 16, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed legislation to impose price controls on high-speed internet. Under this bill, providers were only allowed to charge $15 a month to low-income residents, regardless of the cost of providing service. Governor Cuomo celebrated the law, stating, “This program – the first of its kind in the nation – will ensure that no New Yorker will have to forego having reliable home internet service and no child’s education will have to suffer due to their economic situation.

Almost immediately, the law was challenged by representatives of the telecommunications industry. They asserted that it was grossly illegal and that the state has no legal basis that would permit them to set or regulate the price of internet access.

Cuomo’s office was defiant. They immediately declared, “If these companies want to pick this fight, impede the ability of millions of New Yorkers to access this essential service, and prevent them from participating in our economic recovery, I say bring it on.” The infamously pugilistic Governor made it clear he wasn’t backing down – a trait that would again haunt him during his trial by media over sexual assault allegations a few months later.

In June, a federal court found merit in the industry’s challenge and temporarily banned the measure from being instituted. In the proceedings, it was revealed that the ban and its justification were almost ludicrously ill prepared and planned. When the state was challenged as to how it could legally set the price of a private industry service, they insisted that they weren’t actually setting the price at $15 because providers were free to charge less than $15. Additionally, the $15 price point wasn’t based on any research or knowledge. Even a cursory understanding of the telecom industry would reveal that many providers pay more than $15 per person in taxes and fees alone.

Needless to say, the judge wasn’t buying Cuomo’s argument. Within a matter of months of signing the bill, the state of New York abandoned it and chose to discontinue the case. The decision surprised few insiders. Some analysts theorized the Cuomo plan was mere “political theater.” They alleged that it was an attempt by the Governor to appear tough on corporations while accomplishing very little.

While Cuomo attempted to portray himself as standing up against “big business,” the truth is far more complicated. Many of the fiber optic cables laid across the country are not placed by large corporations. There are a number of small providers who specifically service areas that large providers ignore due to perceived inefficiency and cost. Currently, hundreds of thousands of homes are serviced by these small providers.

These companies had to spend millions of dollars and countless hours fighting Cuomo for their very survival. Additionally, although they technically won the battle, the legacy of the law could lead to a major chilling effect in which providers will be hesitant to provide low-cost fiber optic cables, out of fear they will be financially ruined should a future court rule in favor of a more cunning and well-prepared administration. In effect, Cuomo’s attempt to make internet access more ubiquitous and affordable would have made it more restricted and expensive.

Mercifully, with the three-term governor on his way out, New Yorkers will have a chance to pursue a different direction under hopefully more capable leadership. Unfortunately, however, the failed progressive model that tale exemplifies remains stubbornly in place in Blue State capitals across the country.

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Of course the same Blue State model of governance has produced a mess in California, resulting in a recall campaign against the perpetrator, Gavin Newsom.  Meanwhile at the US federal level, 2021 has seen political command behavior on steroids, and social and economic destruction unprecedented in such a short period of time.

Lisa Benson cartoon

A deeper discussion of failed progressive administrative behavior is from a previous post reprinted below.

Why Technocrats Deliver Catastrophes

technorats-magazine-e1624833565281

Mark E. Jeftovic writes insightfully on the ways technology backfires when applied by bureaucrats in his article Why the Technocratic Mindset Produces Only Misery and Failure. H/T Tyler Durden at zerohedge. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Technocrats have the most fundamental aspect of reality backwards

Saw this article come across, come across my news alert for “Transhumanism”. In it Dr. David Eagleman talks about how not only can we augment human senses with fantastic new abilities (like to “see” heat and electromagnetic patterns), but how we’ll even be able to build machines that think too.

There is a line in his thinking that one can glean from the article: on one side of the line are enhancements and augmentations to the human experience which are startling and amazing and which will transform our societies: even more radical life extension will be in the cards quite soon (for those who can afford it).

Where Eagleman crosses into technocratic thinking is when he veers into the idea of being able to build thinking machines. The logic is that because we’ll be able to increasingly bioengineer our own living bodies, it means we should also be able to bioengineer a mind into machines using the same principles.

I think this is wrong and it’s the same theoretical mistake that leads directly to technocratically inspired catastrophes.

Yes, we continue to build on technological advancements, but we also commit a lot of unforced errors that inflict incalculable misery on humanity. These errors may manifest as policy blunders, economic crises and worse. Most recently, for example, we seem to have gotten ourselves into a global pandemic because a bunch of technocrats funded some gain-of-function experiments in hopes of preempting the next pandemic. Do you see the dynamic here?

Over the years a lot of thinkers have pointed out that technocratic policy tracks, devised by centralized groups of experts within an elite managerial class, often bring about the very conditions they were impaneled to obviate.

• Raising minimum wages increases unemployment.
• Holding interest rates to zero creates economic instability and increases wealth inequality.
• Forcing green energy initiatives creates systems with lower energy efficiency and higher carbon footprints.
• Banning guns increases gun violence.
• Censoring “hate” speech fosters more hatred and polarization.

It’s almost as if the managerial class has no awareness of second-order effects. When they inexorably come to pass they are often blamed on the very people who were counselling against the initial policy in the first place.

Thus, financial meltdowns are blamed on runaway free markets and capitalism gone wild. Global warming (if it truly plays out along prognosticated lines) is blamed on industries who are most rapidly transitioning toward greener energy anyway (like Bitcoin mining).

Climate change is another theme that exemplifies the technocratic dynamic: As a society we’re going to transition off of fossil fuels no matter what anybody thinks about the environment because we’re already past peak oil, and peak demand will probably flatline around 100M bpd and start coming down from there in a secular downtrend, for a variety of reasons (prolonged economic malaise and the ascent of green energy).

Yet the most viable pathway toward transitioning away from fossil fuels, nuclear (and in this I include Thorium), is currently relegated as problematic by technocrats and ideologues.

casper-landfill-2-e1624827835334

It all seems backwards and for a long time I’ve been positing a fundamental root cause of this backwardness. The premise is: We have the mind/matter equation completely backwards in the way we think about how the world works.

Conventional thought is that what we experience as consciousness is something that emanates from the brain. Like steam from a kettle. This is also the core assumption of AI. If we build something that resembles a brain, it’ll think. It’s a kind of Frankenstein approach that Eagleman alludes to in his article.

That won’t work and AI will never be achieved as long as the mechanistic, material reductionist worldview persists. Yet, technocrats put a lot of faith in AI, and they think models derived from AI are or will be superior to anything we can figure out on our own because they were outputted by machines with a bigger/faster/hardware brains.

It is completely… wrong.

I think that what we experience as matter are energy patterns that emanate from an underlying, and conscious sub-strata of reality. This is basic quantum theory. Quantum theory can be problematic because it opens the door to all kinds of New Age Woo Woo, which may not even be entirely wrong at its core, but is prone to deeply flawed implementations (like anything, I guess).

People, and probably most living things, have a sense, an intuitive awareness of this sub-strata of reality. Our mythology and sacred texts are probably the stories of sometimes being more attuned to it and sometimes less so. The late British writer Colin Wilson wrote at length on the consciousness of the Egyptians of the upper kingdom, possibly over 7500 years BC. Their consciousness and language was pictorial not linear. It may even be possible (my extrapolation, not his) that the demarcation point between conscious awareness between individuals was blurred somewhat. 

So what happened?

Into this awareness came religions. Organized structures that would begin to dictate the basis on which members of society were to comprehend and approach this Great Sub-Carrier. Priesthoods evolved – the first monopolies. Religions. Hierarchies. Rulers. Subjects.

One of the earliest forms of social deviance was heresy: approaching the Divine Sub-Carrier from a direction outside the religious structure. Can’t have that.

This dynamic is as old as humanity. It could even be argued that historical progress is the story of the public coming to realize that the monopoly thought structure they were in was flawed or obsolete and then society moving on to the next one. The elites of the day would endeavour to halt the progression or when that failed, co-opt whatever came next.

Then new elites would erect a new orthodoxy that placed them directly in the nexus of what was unknowable and what the rabble thought they needed to know in order to perform their primary function of ….servitude.

Today the great sub-carrier is best described by science, not religion. But again, the priesthood is saying that all knowledge of the sub-carrier should come through them. That’s Scientism. That’s Technocracy. Management by Experts.

The last two years of life on earth are a foretaste of a full blown technocracy. Follow The Science™, plebes.

Only our elites can fathom how to approach and extract knowledge from The Great Externality, but this time they’ve made things even worse because they have it exactly backwards. They think the Great Externality doesn’t even exist. It’s for flakes and Bible bangers. The technocratic priesthood holds that material reality is near completely understood and that our minds are side effects of chemical reactions in our brains.

They hold that if only we can crunch enough Big Data and calculate out all the models we’ll be, like God (who doesn’t exist), able to fix everything and eliminate all bad outcomes, for everybody, everywhere. We may even be able to eliminate death, and we could upload our consciousness (which is an illusion) into the cloud and live forever.

Because of this backwardation, we will always be careening from one catastrophe to the next, and most of them will be of our own making. We collectively suffer from an illusion that we are in control.

But we are not in control. We’re a pattern. A dance. A cycle. Waveforms. Vibrations. What we as humans do specifically well, which is our superpower and has led to our technological advancement which could conceivably continue on a trajectory that makes humanity an interstellar phenomenon, is adapt.

What technocrats can’t understand, or admit is that we can’t control what is going to happen. Either on an individual scale of people thinking in ways they’re not supposed to think, or geological, cultural, geopolitical or cosmic scales. We can’t get interest rates right, we can’t get everybody to agree on whether it’s “Gif” or “jif” and somehow we’re going to change the trajectory of the climate? Achieve immortality? Crank out a Singularity?

That is highly unlikely and in trying to preempt theoretical bad outcomes we typically bring about horrible actual outcomes.

The lab leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, if it occurred and it is looking increasingly likely that it did, was the result of gain-of-function studies on bat coronaviruses. They didn’t do it as a bioweapon. It’s not a global conspiracy to institute a Great Reset (all that talk is opportunism more than planning).

They were trying to figure out how to plan for a future global pandemic that may catch humanity off guard and cause incalculable damage. What did they accomplish? They unleashed a global pandemic that caught humanity off guard and caused incalculable damage. Soon to be compounded by global, de-facto compulsory inoculations with experimental vaccines that have a distinctly politicized impetus behind them.

That same dynamic is applied to economics (its where the .COM crash and Global Financial Crisis came from), and social policy (the Woke movement), to climate is all the same technocratic mindset that doesn’t understand the order of reality (mind, then matter) but even worse thinks it knows it.

We’re stuck with that for awhile because the technocratic mindset is incapable of introspection or entertaining the possibility of being wrong about anything. The only move it knows is to double-down on failure.

The antidote to all this is massive decentralization on a global scale, which has the added benefit that decentralization by definition, is not something that gets decided from the top (it never is). It just happens, even in spite of the people in the centre of power who may feel something about their gravitas melting away.

That’s what has started to happen. A global opt-out. The Great Reject. As sure as the Reformation gave way to the Enlightenment despite the protestations of the Church, we’re headed into a world of networks and the sunset of nations. All the while the propagandists of the old order shrieking that in this direction lies certain doom.

The Enlightenment arose from an increase in the level of abstraction, structurally the universe changed from the Ptolemaic worldview (the world as the centre of all existence) to the Heliocentric solar system.

Now we’re experiencing a similar shift away from static top-down hierarchical structures as the natural shape of civilization and toward shifting, impermanent, overlapping networks.

Footnote:  Another Example of Technocratic Adventurism

From American Thinker The Grave Perils of Genetic Editing.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

A company called Oxitec, based in the U.K., is piloting a program using gene-/information-modified mosquitos to eliminate the invasive female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in the Florida Keys. The mosquitoes potentially spread diseases such as Dengue fever and Zika.

Dr. Nathan Rose, head regulator of Oxitec, said mosquito-borne diseases are likely to worsen as a result of climate change. According to the CDC, in a ten-year span between 2010 and 2020, there were 71 cases of Dengue fever transmitted in Florida. In essence, the experiment is being conducted for fear of climate change causing a drastic increase in incidence of Dengue fever. In the Fox article, Rose states that Oxitec will first experiment in Florida, collect data, then “go to the U.S. regulatory agencies to actually get a commercial registration to be able to release these mosquitoes more broadly within the United States.”

Don’t think the Florida Keys just opened their arms with a great big bear hug to this experiment. No, there were pushback and questions. In fact, Oxitec had been pushing this experiment to Key Haven and Key West for years, only to be rejected. Many other places have also declined this experiment. When it was conducted in Brazil, it initially seemed to work, but in the end, the mutated mosquitos transferred mutations to the general public. Thankfully, gene drive was not used in the Brazil experiment, for this type of gene manipulation cannot be reversed and can wipe out a species over time.

Evidently, Oxitec has created a second-generation “friendly mosquito” technology, where new male mosquitoes are programmed to kill only female mosquitoes, with males serving and passing on the modified genes to male offspring for generations. Yes, they are programmed to kill. Oxitec CEO Grey Frandsen announced in 2020 that Oxitec looked forward to working with the Florida Keys community to “demonstrate the effectiveness of our safe, sustainable technology in light of the growing challenges controlling this disease-spreading mosquito.”

Let’s hope the Florida mosquitoes experiment is truly a necessity and not some type of climate-change fear-mongering “sustainable” technology based on speculation.

Wokeness Worms Eating Science Academies

J. Scott Turner writes at American Mind The Brainworms Come For Big Science.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

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The parasite leucochloridium paradoxum, shown here infecting a snail, is a flatworm that takes over the brains of gastropods and forces them into self-destructive behaviors. As this essay demonstrates, woke social teaching has been known to do the same with academic departments.

Woke grievance is eating expert inquiry from the inside out.

A large gathering of scientists and engineers was brought together by the National Science Foundation (NSF). We were there to compete for a very large sum of money.

At stake was funding for a “research center,” something akin to national laboratories like Brookhaven Labs or Livermore Labs. Research centers are built around a strategic theme, like nuclear physics, and are intended to provide a venue for scientists nationwide to come together to explore that theme. Research centers are high-stakes competitions, involving tens of millions of dollars doled out over a term of ten years or so. The prizes are big, and the prestige immense. They are intended to go to the best of the best.

If a team is awarded a planning grant, the next step is a “planning meeting,” where the NSF gathers the successful teams together to provide detailed guidance on what might make for a successful proposal. I was on one of those teams, and that is how I came to be in that hotel ballroom.

At the opening session, we were told that proposals would be judged on four “foundational components,” or “pillars,” as they were styled in the PowerPoints. A successful proposal would be strong on all four: weakness in one would cast the proposal into the abyss, we were told, no matter how strong the other pillars might be. At the planning meeting, each pillar was to have a dedicated panel discussion, just to make clear to us what the NSF’s expectations were. Three of the four pillars were conventionally scientific and academic: innovation, training, etc. The remaining pillar was “Diversity and Culture of Inclusion” (DCI).

That was where things took a bizarre turn.

The DCI panel consisted of bureaucrats from the NSF’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI). Naturally, there were many questions from the floor about what the criteria for a strong DCI pillar would be. We are talking about engineers, remember, whose culture is: “give us ‘the specs’ and we will solve any problem.” The assembled engineers were looking for “the specs” they needed to build that DCI pillar.

I remember the scene. Each team was seated at its own round table on the ballroom floor. The DCI panel was seated on a raised platform, looking down on us, as from thrones on high. 

One engineer at a neighboring table kept trying to pin the DCI panel down on those DCI specs. They kept deflecting the question. We’ll know it when we see it, was the blithe answer, issued with the monotonous imperiousness of the entitled ruler indulging inconvenient questioning from the proles. Engineering is too white and too male, was one panelist’s message to us, and that needed to be corrected. Irony alert: the engineer pressing the point was not white, but an Indian immigrant.

It became clearer with every question that the specs not only would not be laid out: they would in any event change according to inscrutable whim of the ODI bureaucrats. Foolish engineers, one might imagine Jabba chortling, the “specs” are not to help you solve a problem: they are there to keep you off-balance, uncertain, and in my power. It is enough for you to know you depend upon my mercy for funding.

How the Parasite Takes Over

All are familiar with the Left’s “long march” through the institutions. What might not be so well known is just how thorough the conquest has been. Evidence of this sometimes pops up into prominent public view, as in the recent exposure of “critical race theory” training in federal agencies (including places like Sandia National Labs, where one would expect such hokum to be laughed out the door). Such incidents, though quite frequent, are only the tips of a very large iceberg.

In the academic sciences, where I have spent my career, “diversity, inclusion, and equity” (DIE) has become as pervasive as one might expect it to be in any grievance studies department.

How did this happen? More to the point, how could it happen to the supposedly sensible people that scientists are generally thought to be?

The concept of “zombie parasites” provides an apt metaphor for how things got to this point. These are parasites that colonize the brains and nervous systems of their hosts, taking the controls, so to speak, over the host’s behavior. One striking example of a zombie parasite is a worm that infects the brains of snails, which normally crawl around stealthily at night. A snail infected with the parasite crawls out onto a grass stalk during the day, where it is now visible to birds that gobble them up. The parasite then breeds in the bird’s digestive tract and deposits its eggs in the bird’s feces. When uninfected snails eat the feces, the parasite’s life cycle is completed.

DIE has spread into the academic sciences as a kind of zombie parasite. It is not a real worm at work, of course, but a metaphorical “brainworm”—three of them, in fact, that together spread a kind of altered cognitive reality through any institution that is infected by them.

The route of infection usually starts with a “study” that identifies a “problem” that no one knew existed: the overwhelming whiteness of, say, fishery science. Once an unwitting host takes the bait, the next phase of the infection kicks in: all are invited to contemplate with horror the dark future that awaits should fishery scientists not take immediate steps to correct the “problem.” In the final stage of the infection, the brainworm plants its “diversity is our strength” meme in the host’s nervous system. The infected now babble about solving the impending crisis through a crash outreach program to “under-represented” or “marginalized” groups, who, by virtue of their class membership, think differently about fisheries, and so can save the field from stultifying white maleness.

As in those parasitized snails, the DIE brainworm induces a cognitive disconnect in the infected. None of the assertions planted by the DIE zombie parasite have a sound basis in fact or reason. The accusation of too much whiteness usually is based upon a simple observation that the ethnic, gender, and sexual orientation mix in, say, fishery science, departs from the statistical distributions found in the general population. Why this should be, where it is considered at all, is usually buried under a panoply of repetitive charts and diagrams of dubious critical value.

What makes the DIE brainworm a zombie parasite is how it hijacks the host’s behavior to facilitate its spread, to the host’s ultimate detriment. Universities, where future scientists are trained, are a common target. Incubating a future scientist has traditionally involved a very close relationship between a professor and a student (“mentor” and “mentee,” in today’s clumsy parlance).

Fishery scientists, to trot them out again, become fishery scientists because, well, they love fish. They want to devote their lives to getting to know fish better. The same may be said of nearly every scientific endeavor in academia: at the vital core is a love that can verge into obsession. The genius of the academy is that it provides a place where that love can give value to the society that supports it. Disrupt that elemental drive, and you degrade the real social value of the sciences.

This almost primitive love provides a kind of immunity to the DIE brainworm, which makes it a particular target. To spread, the parasite must plant the idea that the familial network of relationships cloaks a hostile and dangerous climate, propped up by cronyism, privilege, racism, sexism, and hostility to the non-binary. The only way to make science “safe” for the marginalized, or excluded, or under-represented, is to disrupt the traditional mentoring family. Students and new faculty who are members of “under-represented” or “marginalized” groups are drawn from their intellectual families into self-referential bubbles of grievance: support groups, safe spaces, counseling services, etc., where the normal stresses of academic life can be transformed into evidence of the hostile climate without.

At some point, earnest administrators, who know nothing about science and understand even less how it works, are brought in to “listen” to the newly aggrieved. At that point, discontent is turned into actionable grievance: committees and study groups are appointed, action plans formulated. Excluded from all this, of course, are the keepers of the academic traditions which, inconveniently for them, have already been condemned in absentia as the problem.

Pressure is brought on these erstwhile traditionalists to conform, to “listen” to other voices, to “check your privilege,” to be “open” to different “perspectives.” If the brainworm has spread far enough to implant a DIE bureaucracy on campus, penalties for non-conformity will be quietly placed in a corner of the room, a visible reminder of the consequences of resistance to the brainworm. Once that happens, the path is open for the entire academic institution to become infected, triggering the next, and most dangerous, stage of the infection.

Follow the Money

Parasites do not simply invade a host: they require fertile ground and food. For the DIE brainworm, the mother’s milk is money. And it is the academic sciences, not the humanities, where the ground is lushest. Compare two sources of federal funds that are often tied to woke ideology on campuses: the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). These are NSF-style agencies that fund academic work in the arts and humanities, and in similar ways. Artists and scholars submit proposals, these are scrutinized by peers, and funds are doled out to the successful proposals.

How much money? The NEA presently enjoys an annual appropriation of about $150 million. For the NEH, it is about $160 million. In contrast, the federal money directed to academic science in 2017 stood at around $40 billion: 250 times more. Over the course of the 50 years of its existence, the NEH has funded a cumulative total of roughly $4.7 billion dollars in grants. The cumulative tally of federal support of academic research over the same time span has been nearly $900 billion: about 200 times more.

It is to the sciences, then, that the DIE brainworm has gone to feed, and there it has spread as if it were an epidemic. Evidence for this can be ferreted out from the NSF’s searchable databases of its grant awards, by searching for keywords such as “under-represented,” “minority,” or “marginalized” in the grant documents. Prior to 2010, no award carried these keywords. The first to do so was in 2010, when the NSF awarded a large research center grant to MIT, which contained within it a significant program of outreach to marginalized groups.

Since that year, NSF expenditures on research grants containing the “woke” keywords have risen exponentially, doubling at a rate of about 50% each year, just as a novel virus would when spreading through a new population. In 2018, the last year for which a complete picture can be discerned, the NSF funded nearly a thousand research grants devoted in whole or part to DIE aims, to the tune of more than $1.3 billion. From 2010 to 2018, a total of more than $4 billion have been awarded to more than 2,200 DIE-oriented grants.

Which is how we get to that scene in the Arlington hotel ballroom, where DIE now holds the trump card in deciding what science is worthy of funding. No matter how stellar the science, the message is clear: gobble up the DIE brainworm, or your funding will dry up, and your career along with it.

Footnote:  The DIE acronym reminded me of this poem by e.e. cummings
nobody loses all the time

i had an uncle named
Sol who was a born failure and
nearly everybody said he should have gone
into vaudeville perhaps because my Uncle Sol could
sing McCann He Was A Diver on Xmas Eve like Hell Itself which
may or may not account for the fact that my Uncle

Sol indulged in that possibly most inexcusable
of all to use a highfalootin phrase
luxuries that is or to
wit farming and be
it needlessly
added

my Uncle Sol’s farm
failed because the chickens
ate the vegetables so
my Uncle Sol had a
chicken farm till the
skunks ate the chickens when

my Uncle Sol
had a skunk farm but
the skunks caught cold and
died and so
my Uncle Sol imitated the
skunks in a subtle manner

or by drowning himself in the watertank
but somebody who’d given my Uncle Sol a Victor
Victrola and records while he lived presented to
him upon the auspicious occasion of his decease a
scruptious not to mention splendiferous funeral with
tall boys in black gloves and flowers and everything and
i remember we all cried like the Missouri
when my Uncle Sol’s coffin lurched because
somebody pressed a button
(and down went
my Uncle
Sol

and started a worm farm)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bug Apocalypse Not!

Jon Entine writes again lamenting false alarms by scientists and journalists The Insect Apocalypse That Never Was.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

For the past four years, journalists and environmental bloggers have been churning out alarming stories that insects are vanishing, in the United States and globally. Limited available evidence lends credence to reasonable concerns, not least because insects are crucial components of many ecosystems. But the issue has often been framed in catastrophic terms, with predictions of a near-inevitable and imminent ecological collapse that would break ecosystems, destroy harvests, and trigger widespread starvation. Most of the proposed solutions would require a dramatic retooling of many aspects of modern life, from urbanization to agriculture.

Considering the disruptive economic and social trade-offs being demanded by some of those promoting the crisis hypothesis, it’s prudent to separate genuine threats from agenda-driven hyperbole. Are insect declines really threatening to precipitate a catastrophic ecological crisis? And, given the available data, what should a responsible society be doing?

The silver lining around the cloud of gloomy advocacy-focused studies and reporting is that entomologists are doing a deeper dive into the reasons behind the global declines. Goulson’s upcoming media blitz notwithstanding, the most thorough studies to date on insects in North America challenge the catastrophe narrative (although you may not have heard about them as they have been almost ignored by the media), and even offers some reassuring news.

The Moran study, published last August, specifically examined four to 36 years of data on arthropods (insects and other invertebrates) collected from US Long-Term Ecological Research sites located in ecoregions throughout the country. The authors found that: “There is no evidence of precipitous and widespread insect abundance declines in North America akin to those reported from some sites in Europe.”

The robustness of the Moran study data suggests the insect population story is much more complicated—and less dire—than many headlines suggest. If a thorough examination of the data on one continent can lead to such a dramatically different and more hopeful conclusion, broad trends in the vast, highly diverse, and relatively unstudied continents of Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Australia cannot be characterized through extrapolation with any assurance.

The overall paucity of data provides an opening for alarmists to speculate, and Goulson and others have taken advantage of that. But why are the data so fragmentary? Moran attributed the lack of corroborating studies supporting the consensus view that insect populations are mostly stable to what he calls “publication bias … more dramatic results are more publishable. Reviewers and journals are more likely to be interested in species that are disappearing than in species that show no change over time,” he wrote in the Washington Post.

It’s a reinforcing feedback loop, with journalists playing a key role in this misinformation cycle. Scientific publications are more likely to publish reports of declining species. Then, when researchers search for data, “declines are what they find.” The media often seize on incomplete or even biased conclusions to build a compelling narrative—an insect apocalypse or insectageddon or zombie-like resurrections of debunked reports of birdpocalypses and beepocalypses.

Background previous post:  Epic Media Science Fail: Fear Not Pollinator Collapse

Jon Entine returns to this topic writing at the Genetic Literacy Project: The world faces ‘pollinator collapse’? How and why the media get the science wrong time and again. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

As I and others have detailed in the Genetic Literacy Project and as other news organizations such as the Washington Post and Slate have outlined, the pollinator-collapse narrative has been relentless and mostly wrong for more than seven years now.

It germinated with Colony Collapse Disorder that began in 2006 and lasted for a few years—a freaky die off of bees that killed almost a quarter of the US honey bee population, but its cause remains unknown. Versions of CCD have been occurring periodically for hundreds of years, according to entomologists.

Today, almost all entomologists are convinced that the ongoing bee health crisis is primarily driven by the nasty Varroa destructor mite. Weakened honey bees, trucked around the country as livestock, face any number of health stressors along with Varroa, including the use of miticides used to control the invasive mite, changing weather and land and the use of some farm chemicals, which may lower the honeybee’s ability to fight off disease.

Still, the ‘bee crisis’ flew under the radar until 2012, when advocacy groups jumped in to provide an apocalyptic narrative after a severe winter led to a sharp, and as it turned out temporary, rise in overwinter bee deaths.

Colony loss numbers jumped in 2006 when CCD hit but have been steady and even improving since.

The alarm bells came with a spin, as advocacy groups blamed a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, which were introduced in the 1990s, well after the Varroa mite invasion infected hives and started the decline. The characterization was apocalyptic, with some activist claiming that neonics were driving honey bees to extinction.

In the lab evaluations, which are not considered state of the art—field evaluations replicate real-world conditions far better—honeybee mortality did increase. But that was also true of all the insecticides tested; after all, they are designed to kill harmful pests. Neonics are actually far safer than the pesticides they replaced, . . . particularly when their impact is observed under field-realistic conditions (i.e., the way farmers would actually apply the pesticide).

As the “science” supporting the bee-pocalypse came under scrutiny, the ‘world pollinator crisis’ narrative began to fray. Not only was it revealed that the initial experiments had severely overdosed the bees, but increasing numbers of high-quality field studies – which test how bees are actually affected under realistic conditions – found that bees can successfully forage on neonic-treated crops without noticeable harm.

Those determined to keep the crisis narrative alive were hardly deterred. Deprived of both facts and science to argue their case, many advocacy groups simply pounded the table by shifting their crisis argument dramatically. For example, in 2016, the Sierra Club (while requesting donations), hyped the honey bee crisis to no end.

But more recently, in 2018, the same organization posted a different message on its blog. Honeybees, the Sierra Club grudgingly acknowledged, were not threatened. Forget honeybees, the Sierra Club said, the problem is now wild bees, or more generally, all insect pollinators, which are facing extinction due to agricultural pesticides of all types (though neonics, they insisted, were especially bad).

So, once again, with neither the facts nor the science to back them up, advocacy groups have pulled a switcheroo and are again pounding the table. As they once claimed with honeybees, they now claim that the loss of wild bees and other insect pollinators imperils our food supply. A popular meme on this topic is the oft-cited statistic, which appears in the recent UN IPBES report on biodiversity, that “more than 75 per cent of global food crop types, including fruits and vegetables and some of the most important cash crops such as coffee, cocoa and almonds, rely on animal pollination.”

There’s a sleight of hand here. Most people (including most journalists) miss or gloss over the important point that this is 75 percent of crop types, or varieties, not 75 percent of all crop production. In fact, 60 percent of agricultural production comes from crops that do not rely on animal pollination, including cereals and root crops. As the GLP noted in its analysis, only about 7 percent of crop output is threatened by pollinator declines—not a welcomed percentage, but far from an apocalypse.

And the word “rely” seems almost purposefully misleading. More accurately, most of these crops receive some marginal boost in yield from pollination. Few actually “rely” on it. A UN IPBES report on pollinators published in 2018 actually breaks this down in a convenient pie graph.

Many of these facts are ignored by advocacy groups sharpening their axes, and they’re generally lost on the “if it bleeds it leads” media, which consistently play up catastrophe scenarios of crashing pollinator communities and food supplies. Unfortunately, many scientists willingly go along. Some are activists themselves; others hope to elevate the significance of their findings to garner media attention and supercharge grant proposals.

As John Adams is alleged to have said, ‘facts are stubborn things.’ We can’t be simultaneously in the midst of a pollinator crisis threatening our ability to grow food and see continually rising yield productivity among those crops most sensitive to pollination.

With these claims of an impending wild bee catastrophe, as in the case of the original honeybee-pocalypse claims, few of the journalists, activists, scientists or biodiversity experts who regularly sound this ecological alarm have reviewed the facts in context. Advocacy groups consistently extrapolate from the declines of a handful of wild bee species (out of the thousands that we know exist), to claim that we are in the midst of a worldwide crisis. But just as with the ‘honey bee-mageddon, we are not.

Those of us who actually care about science and fact, however, might note the irony here: It is precisely the pesticides which the catastrophists are urging us to ban that, along with the many other tools in the modern farmer’s kit, have enabled us grow more of these nutritious foods, at lower prices, than ever before in human history.

Footnote:  Activists have played both sides with their insect warnings Alarmists: Global Warming Destroys Good Bugs and Multiplies Bad Bugs

insect

Summary: These scares always sound plausible, but on closer inspection are simplistic and unrealistic. The above shows that each type of insect has a range of temperatures they can tolerate and allow them to develop. They are stressed and populations decrease when colder than the lower limit and also when hotter than the upper limit. Every species will adapt to changing conditions as they always have. Those at their upper limit will decline, not increase, and their place will be taken by others. Of course, if it gets colder, the opposite occurs. Don’t let them scare you that insects are taking over.

Imperfect Climate Scientists

josh-knobs

Tom Chivers writes with insight as Unherd’s science editor Can we trust the climate scientists?  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The reaction to Steven Koonin’s book highlights just how toxic this debate has become

There’s a problem with writing about science — any science — which is that scientists are human like the rest of us. They are not perfect disembodied truth-seeking agents but ordinary, flawed humans navigating social, professional and economic incentive structures.

Most notably, scientists, like people, are social. If they exist in a social or professional circle that believes X, it is hard to say not-X; if they have professed to believe Y, they won’t want to look silly and admit not-Y. It might even be hard to get research funded or published if it isn’t in line with what the wider group believes.

All this makes it very hard, as an outsider, to assess some scientific claims. You can ask some expert, but they will be an expert within the social and professional milieu that you’re looking at, and who will likely share the crony beliefs of that social and professional milieu. All of which often makes it hard to disentangle why scientists do and say the things they do. Especially when it comes to scientific claims that are politically charged, claims on hot-button topics like race, sex, poverty — and of course climate.

I couldn’t help thinking about that as I was reading Steven Koonin’s new book, Unsettled. Koonin is (as it says, prominently, on the front of the book) the “former Undersecretary for Science, US Department of Energy, under the Obama administration”. The publishers are obviously very keen to stress the Obama link: “…under the Trump administration” might not have carried the same heft.

Koonin came to public attention a few years ago, after he wrote a controversial opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal headlined “Climate science is not settled”. It was a response to what he considered the widely held opinion among policymakers and the wider public that, in fact, climate science is settled. His particular concern was that we can’t yet accurately predict what the future climate shifts will be. The book itself is best thought of as the extended version of that op-ed, with added graphs.

Climate Science is not Settled:  We can break down his thesis into, roughly, three areas.

One, is that despite “the mainstream narrative among the media and policymakers”, it is hard to be sure that the climate has changed in meaningful ways due to human influence. In particular, floods, rainfall, droughts, storms, and record high temperatures have not become more common, and although the climate is unambiguously warming and sea levels have gone up, it’s hard to confidently separate human influence from natural variability.

Two, he says, climate models are highly uncertain and struggle to successfully predict the past, let alone the future, so we shouldn’t trust confident claims about the climate future. And if we do accept the IPCC’s predictions, they aren’t of imminent catastrophe. Instead, they point to slow change to which humanity can easily adapt, and, broadly speaking, to humanity continuing to prosper.

And three, he continues, there is basically nothing we can do about it anyway, partly because carbon dioxide hangs around in the atmosphere for so long, but mainly because the developing world is developing fast, and using ever more carbon to do so, and actually that’s a good thing.

These are — according to Koonin — all, by and large, only what the IPCC assessment reports and other major climate analyses say.

The public conversation, which he says is full of doom and apocalypse and unwarranted certainty, has become unconnected from the state of the actual science. And he blames scientists — and policymakers, the media and the public — for that disconnection.

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So is he right? Certainly he has a case when it comes to Point One: I think he is correct that the media narrative about climate change is not especially well correlated with the IPCC’s own central assessments. For instance, I think it’s fair to say that the recent floods in London, China and Germany have been held up as examples of a changing climate. But the IPCC’s most recent assessment report, 2014’s AR5, found studies showing evidence for “upward, downward or no trend in the magnitude of floods” (see p214 of the AR5 Physical Science Basis document; be warned it’s a big PDF), and concluded that they were unable to be sure whether, globally, river floods had become more or less likely.

Similarly, I think there is a perception among many commentators and policymakers that storms, hurricanes, and droughts are all more common as a result of climate change, but the IPCC’s own report (see p.53 of AR5) has “low confidence” that those things are more common than they were 100 years ago. I know some scientists think the IPCC is overoptimistic, but it is the closest we have to consensus climate science.

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That said, there is some fairness in accusing Koonin of cherrypicking. He spends a lot of time arguing about extreme daily temperatures, convincingly (to my mind) debunking a claim in the 2017 Climate Science Special Report (CSSR), the flagship US government climate science assessment, that US extreme daily temperature records have gone up. In fact, CSSR is comparing the ratio of extreme high temperatures to extreme low temperatures, and what in fact has happened is that extreme low temperatures have become less common. Which is interesting.

But the IPCC does think extreme daily temperatures have gone up globally (see p53 again). In his chapter on “Hyping the Heat”, Koonin doesn’t mention the IPCC, and the IPCC outranks the CSSR. His detective work is interesting, but he is fighting a henchman, not the end-of-level boss. Maybe the IPCC is wrong as well, but we don’t learn that here.

On Point Two, I don’t feel competent to assess the models; certainly it seems highly plausible to me that there are enormous uncertainties in predicting something as inherently chaotic as the climate, especially when to do so you first have to predict something as inherently chaotic as people. But my non-expert understanding is that broadly speaking the models have been getting it about right.

That said, I think he is right that, if you were to ask the average person in my social circle, you would hear that climate change will lead to catastrophe in the near future. And I think that is overstating what the IPCC reports actually say. For instance, it is true that the IPCC predicts more people will go hungry than otherwise would have: it says that almost 140 million children will be undernourished, in a world where climate change goes unmitigated, compared to 113 million in a world where there is no climate change (see p730 of this IPCC report). But that is still fewer than went hungry in 2000 – almost 150 million, out of a much smaller population. The IPCC predicts that a world with climate change will be worse than one without; but not so much worse that other things, such as economic growth and technological progress, won’t broadly keep the big things, like life expectancy and human health, improving. That does seem worth saying.

And Koonin’s Point Three is worth making too. If India were to increase its per capita emissions to those of Japan, “one of the lowest emitting of the developed countries”, he says, then that change alone would raise global emissions by 25%1. Realistically, we’re not going to be able to stop India — or China, or Brazil, or Mexico, or any of the other middle-income countries — from developing, and development at the moment means carbon.

More importantly: we don’t want them to stop developing. Richer countries have healthier, longer-lived citizens and are better able to cope with a changing climate. Even huge, swingeing cuts to Western emissions — politically unrealistic — would only go some way to offsetting the inevitable growth in the developing world. Those cuts may be worth doing, but there are limits to how much good they can do.

But even if Koonin is right about almost everything — if the best guess of the science is that we’re heading towards things merely getting better more slowly, rather than getting worse — then I think he’s missing a major point. That is, climate change models are uncertain. In fact Koonin claims they’re even more uncertain than we think. So they could easily be erring on the side of optimism.

And the one thing we should have learnt from the Covid pandemic is that it’s not enough to say “the most likely outcome is that it’ll be fine, so let’s act as if it’ll be fine.” The correct thing to say is “the most likely outcome is that it’ll be fine, but if there’s a 10% chance that it’ll be completely awful, then we need to prepare for that 10% chance.” Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the developed world reduces the chance of some unforeseen but plausible disaster: as a happy bonus, it makes our cities more pleasant places in which to live. It will come at some cost, but hopefully not too high, because green technology is getting so cheap and effective these days.

Reviews by climate scientists have been unimpressed. “I would normally ignore a book by a non-climate scientist,” starts one review, which goes on to not ignore it. Another accuses him of cherry-picking his fights (not entirely unfairly, as I said). A third says the book is “distracting, irrelevant, misguided, misleading and unqualified”.

But none that I’ve read really addresses the nitty-gritty of his arguments — which is hard to do in a 900-word review, of course, but still. They usually pick some line out of the first chapter or two, disagree with it, and then say the whole book is therefore rubbish. But I wanted a bit more meat to the objections.

The third review, for instance, quotes Koonin as saying “The warmest temperatures in the US have not risen in the past fifty years,” and then asks “According to what measure?” Well, Koonin tells you the measure, at length: absolute record extreme daily temperatures. Maybe he’s wrong, but he does answer that in the book. (And your next sentence is “Highest annual global averages?” He’s talking about the US! You just quoted that bit!)

Similarly, it complains that Koonin says that the sea is only rising about a foot per century, saying “The trouble is that while seas have risen eight to nine inches since 1880, more than 30 percent of that increase has occurred during the last two decades.” But again: Koonin addresses this, for pretty much an entire chapter. His point is that most of the rest of the rise came during an (unexplained by climate models, according to him) period of rapid warming from 1910 to 1940, before human influence should have been relevant. That, he says, is good evidence that natural variation is driving the current acceleration. Is he right? I don’t know. But the reviewer is not attacking Koonin’s argument at its strongest point.

In fact, none of them seem to: they just want to dismiss the book. They attack Koonin’s credibility and credentials, his temperament. They say he was only hired by the Obama Energy Department because of his contrarian views; they call him a “climate denier”, which seems de trop since he accepts most of the central claims of the climate consensus. The response felt more like a circling of the wagons than a serious effort to counter a serious argument. After all, it is unpleasant to hear reasons why you might be wrong about something: cognitive dissonance is painful.

I started this book confident that climate change is a serious concern, and I finished it only slightly less confident; Koonin has not persuaded me. But I’m glad Unsettled, flawed though it is, has been written. As I said at the beginning, science in a politically charged environment is very hard to assess. Scientists are as prone to groupthink and motivated reasoning as anyone else, and I know very well that there are some who feel they need to keep heterodox views quiet. The reviews, which make so little effort to engage with the substance of the arguments, do not reassure me that climate science is a uniquely groupthink-free discipline.

One thing Koonin suggests is a so-called “Red Teaming” of climate scientists: getting scientists to act as adversarial critics of the existing consensus, a method used by superforecasters, among others, to improve their accuracy by actively hunting out flaws in their reasoning. Science can only progress if assumptions are tested. Red teams in climate institutions — any institutions — seem like a good idea, and I’d support them.

Whether it’s possible or not, of course, is tricky to say. The climate debate is so highly charged, so borderline toxic, that it might be difficult for any climate scientist to take on the red-team role without making their own life more difficult. According to Koonin, one senior climate scientist told him “I agree with pretty much everything you wrote, but I don’t dare say that in public.” The old “in my emails, everyone agrees with me” line is hardly a new one, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s a bit of truth in it.

But if the Catholic Church was able to stomach someone advocating for the Devil, then climate science should be able to stomach one doing it for the sceptics. And in the meantime, this book does an acceptable job.

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Footnote:  I encourage you to read the comments at the Unherd website.  For example this from Norman Powers:

I feel that’s a bit unfair to Tom. Reading the arguments of people who disagree, thinking about them carefully and weighing up debate is a large part of critical thinking, and he does all those things in this article. Just because he hasn’t arrived at the same conclusions as you (yet?) doesn’t make it not critical thinking.

Moreover, the social factors that apply to scientists apply to journalists as well. Do you think it’s easy for Chivers to talk about climatology and criticize climatologists so directly? He basically says none of their reviews of the book even meet basic standards of coherence, let alone being convincing. There aren’t many media outlets that would pay for such journalism, regardless of the truth.

Beyond your criticism of the author I feel all your points are well made.

For me, what really shook my belief in climatology to the core was the discovery that the temperature record itself is the output of modelling. Yes, you read that right. Not merely predictions about the future or truly ancient temperatures come out of models. Temperatures recorded by thermometer, in Europe and the USA, in the past 100 years or even just the past decade, are also the output of models. Although the raw data is given as an input the models proceed to heavily modify it; the outputs are then presented as “the history of temperature” without making it obvious what’s happened.

One of the consequences of this is that temperature time series often have multiple “versions”, reflecting the fact that the model software evolves over time. These new versions invariably seem to create warming when the prior versions didn’t show it. This has been going on for decades. They have a variety of justifications, all of which sound plausible on first glance, some of which seem less plausible on deeper analysis.
But. At school I was taught in no uncertain terms that in science you are not allowed to edit your raw data. All the marks for science assignments were allocated to the methodological correctness, and if you did an experiment and the data didn’t line up with the theory but what you did followed the rules, you wouldn’t be marked down (of course, in practice, if you failed to replicate a simple and famous experiment you probably did make a mistake somewhere so the distinction rarely mattered).

This was their way of teaching us that the rules are there for a reason, and that scientists aren’t allowed to tamper with their data post-facto. That’s taboo. Except, not in climatology. The risks are obvious: climatologists only really have one theory, so data that shows temperatures not going up undermines the entire community. Once the Rubicon has been crossed and model outputs are being substituted for real data, it’s very easy for people to try lots of different ways to “fix” errors in the data and then select only the ones that line up with what everyone knows “should” be happening. Over time this process keeps repeating until the theories become unfalsifiable.

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Leftists Obsessed with Bogus Numbers

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Lubos Motl writes with insight gained from the Czech experience with imposed Communism in his blog article CO2 emissions, “cases”, … fanatical leftists love to worship meaningless quantities as measures of well-being.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Leftists hate money and the conversion of things to money. Why is it so? In the old times, the leftists were the losers who didn’t have much money. The decision based on the “maximization of money” was a decision usually made by “some other people, e.g. the capitalists”, and those may have had different interests than the Marxist losers, and that’s why the Marxist losers generally didn’t like the decisions based on the maximization of the financial benefits. They had a low influence on the society’s decision making (because they were broke) and the interests of the capitalists weren’t always the same as the interests of the Marxist losers. (In reality, what was in the interest in the capitalists was ultimately good for the Marxist losers as well but the latter just didn’t understand it.)

That is the likely reason why the leftists always wanted to switch to some “more objective” measures of well-being. They saw all “subjective” (i.e. money-based) decisions to be dominated by evil people, the class of enemies. Where did this leftist strategy go?

Well, during the 40 years of communism in Czechoslovakia,
the communist party often mindlessly wanted to

maximize the production of coal and steel in tons.

Steel and coal are just two major examples that were used to “objectively measure the well-being”. You may see that within a limited context, there was a grain of truth in it. The more machines we make, the more hard work they may replace, and we need steel and coal for all those good things. But the range of validity of this reasoning was unavoidably very limited. They could have used the U.S. dollars (e.g. the total GDP, or in sustainable salaries) to measure the well-being (that should be maximized by the communist plans) but that would already be bad according to their ideology. Needless to say, it was a road to hell because in the long run, there is no reason why “tons of steel or coal” should be the same thing as “well-being” or “happiness”. And it’s not. We kept on producing lots of steel and coal that was already obsolete, that was helping to preserve technologies and industries that were no longer needed, helpful, or competitive, and the production of coal and steel substantially decreased after communism fell in 1989. We found out that we could get richer despite producing less steel and coal!

In 1989, communism was defeated and humiliated but almost all the communist rats survived. This collective trash has largely moved to the environmentalist movement that became a global warehouse for the Bolshevik human feces, also known as the watermelons. They are green on the surface but red (Bolsheviks) inside. They were willing to modify some details of their ideology or behavior but not the actual core substance. The detail that they modified was to “largely switch the sign” and consider the coal and steel to be evil.

Instead of maximizing steel and coal, the goal became to minimize the CO2 emissions.

The obsession with the CO2 emissions (which now carry the opposite sign: CO2 emissions are claimed to be bad!) is similar to the obsession of the Leninists and Stalinists with the maximization of the steel and coal production except that the current watermelons, the gr@tins of the world, are far more fanatical and unhinged than the Leninists and Stalinists have ever been. And one more thing has changed: these new, green Marxists promote these “objective measures of well-being” because it reduces the freedom, wealth, and power of everyone else. In that sense, they are still Marxists. However, they don’t protest against some people’s getting very rich as long as it is them. By this not so subtle change, we are facing a new class of Marxists who are still Marxists (more fanatical than the old ones) but who are often very rich, too. It is an extremely risky combination when such creatures become both powerful and rich.

Needless to say, the CO2 emissions aren’t the same thing as “evil”, the reduction of the CO2 emissions is in no way the same thing as “well-being”. Instead, if you are at least a little bit rational, you know damn too well that the CO2 emissions are totally obviously positively correlated with the well-being. The more CO2, the better. CO2 is the gas we call life. Its increase by 50% since 1750 AD has allowed the plants to have fewer pores (through which they suck CO2 from the air) which is why they are losing less water and they are better at water management (and at withstanding possible drought). Just the higher CO2 has increased the agricultural yields per squared kilometer by some 20% (greater increases were added by genetic engineering, fight against pests etc.). And the man-made CO2 has freed us from back-breaking labor etc.

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The obsession to minimize the CO2 emissions is completely irrational and insane, more insane than the maximization of steel and coal has ever been – but its advocates are more fanatical than the steel and coal comrades used to be. On top of that, most of the projects proposed to lower the CO2 emissions don’t even achieve that because there are always some neglected sources or sinks of CO2 (and lots of cheating everywhere, contrived public “causes” are the ideal environment for corruption, too). Also, the price of one ton of CO2 emissions is as volatile as the Bitcoin and depends on the caps that may be basically arbitrarily chosen by the rogue politicians.

Tons of CO2 are a different quantity to be extremized than tons of coal or steel. But the obsession to “mindlessly minimize or maximize these quantites” is exactly the same and builds on the leftists’ infinite hatred (often just pretended hatred, however) to money as an invention. The hatred towards money is equivalent to the hatred towards the “subjective conversion of costs and benefits to the same unit”. Leftists hate the subjective considerations like that (which are equivalent to counting the costs and benefits in the Czech crowns) because they hate the “subjective thinking” in general. Well, they hate it because the subjective thinking is the thinking of the free people – i.e. people who aren’t politically obedient in general. They prefer “objective thinking”, i.e. an imbecile or a clique of imbeciles who are in charge, have the total power over everybody, and tell everybody “what they should want and do”! When whole nations behave as herds of obedient sheep or other useless animals, the leftists are happy.

Such a general scheme is bound to lead to a decline of the society,
regardless of the detailed choice of the quantity that is worshiped
as the “objective measure of the human well-being”.

In 2020, the epoch of Covidism, if I use the term of the Czech ex-president Václav Klaus, began. The most characteristic yet crazy quantity that the new leftist masters want to minimize (in this case, like the CO2 emissions, it “should be” minimized) are the “cases” of Covid-19, i.e. the number of positive PCR tests (or sometimes all tests, including Ag tests). From the beginning, it’s been insane because most people who are PCR tested positive for Covid-19 aren’t seriously sick. A fraction is completely asymptomatic, a great majority suffers through a very mild disease. On top of that, the number of positive tests depends on the number of people who are tested (because most positive people are unavoidably overlooked unless everyone is tested at least once a week); on the number of “magnifying” cycles in the PCR process; on the strategy to pick the candidates for testing, and lots of other things.

These are the reasons why it has been insane to be focused on the number of “cases” from 2020. But when the methodology to pick the people is constant, when the percentage of the positive tests is roughly kept constant, and when the virus doesn’t change, it becomes fair to use the number of “cases” as a measure of the total proliferation of the disease, Covid-19, in a nation or a population. However, there’s an even deeper problem, one that is related to the main topic of this essay:

Even when the testing frequency and techniques (including the selection) are constant, the number of cases may in no way be considered a measure of the well-being.

The reason is that “being PCR positive” is just a condition that increases the probability that one becomes sick; or one dies. And the number of deaths from Covid-19 is clearly a more important measure of the Covid-related losses than the number of cases – the filthy Coronazis love to obscure even elementary statements such as this one, however. The conversion factor e.g. from the “cases” to “deaths” is the case fatality rate (CFR) and that is not a universal constant. This is particularly important in the case of the Indian “delta” variant of the virus because it also belongs among the common cold viruses. It is a coronaviruses that causes a runny nose. This makes the disease much more contagious, like any common cold, and (in a totally non-immune, normally behaving urban, population). On the other hand, the nose cleans the breathing organs rather efficiently and the disease is unlikely to seriously invade the lungs where it really hurts. In fact, the runny nose indicates that this variant of the virus “likes” to play with the cosmetic problems such as the runny nose, it is not even attracted to the lungs. The same comments apply to any of the hundreds of rhinoviruses, coronaviruses… that cause common cold!

You may check the U.K. Covid graphs to see that despite the growing number of “cases” in recent weeks, the deaths are still near zero. The ratio of the two has decreased by more than one order of magnitude. A factor of 5 or so may be explained by the higher vaccination of the risk groups (older people); the remaining factor is due to the intrinsic lower case fatality rate of the delta variant. It is simply much lower than 0.1%, as every common cold virus is. That is much smaller than some 0.4% which is the expected fraction of the people in a civilized nation that die of Covid-19 (to make these estimates, I mainly use the Czech data which seem clean and I understand them extremely well: some 80% of Czechs have gone through Covid-19 and 0.3% of the population has died, so the case fatality rate must be around 0.4%).

So the conversion factor from a “case” to a “death” may have dropped by a factor of 30 or more in the U.K., relatively to the peak of the disease (the more classical variants of Covid-19). So it is just plain insane to pretend that “one case” is the same problem or “reduction of well-being” as “one case” half a year ago. The disease has turned into a common cold which is nearly harmless. But the society has been totally hijacked by the moronic, self-serving, brutally evil leftists who have simply become powerful assuming that they socially preserve the (totally false) idea that “the number of cases is an important quantity that must be minimized for the society’s well-being”. It is not important at all. The number of cases means absolutely nothing today because almost all the U.K. cases are just examples of a common cold that just happens to pass as a “Covid” through a test because this is how the test was idiotically designed. Everyone who tries to minimize the number of cases as we know them today is a dangerous deluded psychopath and must be treated on par with the war criminals, otherwise whole nations will be greatly damaged. The damage has already been grave but we face the risk of many years (like 40 years of the Czechoslovak communism) when a similar totally destructive way of thinking preserves itself by illegitimate tools that totally contradict even the most elementary Western values.

“Cases” mean nothing, especially when the character of the disease that is detected by the tests becomes vastly less serious. They mean even less than the “CO2 emissions” and even that favorite quantity of the moronic fanatical leftists hasn’t ever been a good measure of anything we should care about. Stop this insanity and treat the people “fighting to lower the cases” as war criminals right now. Thank you very much.

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Why Technocrats Deliver Catastrophes

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Mark E. Jeftovic writes insightfully on the ways technology backfires when applied by bureaucrats in his article Why the Technocratic Mindset Produces Only Misery and Failure. H/T Tyler Durden at zerohedge. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Technocrats have the most fundamental aspect of reality backwards

Saw this article come across, come across my news alert for “Transhumanism”. In it Dr. David Eagleman talks about how not only can we augment human senses with fantastic new abilities (like to “see” heat and electromagnetic patterns), but how we’ll even be able to build machines that think too.

There is a line in his thinking that one can glean from the article: on one side of the line are enhancements and augmentations to the human experience which are startling and amazing and which will transform our societies: even more radical life extension will be in the cards quite soon (for those who can afford it).

Where Eagleman crosses into technocratic thinking is when he veers into the idea of being able to build thinking machines. The logic is that because we’ll be able to increasingly bioengineer our own living bodies, it means we should also be able to bioengineer a mind into machines using the same principles.

I think this is wrong and it’s the same theoretical mistake that leads directly to technocratically inspired catastrophes.

Yes, we continue to build on technological advancements, but we also commit a lot of unforced errors that inflict incalculable misery on humanity. These errors may manifest as policy blunders, economic crises and worse. Most recently, for example, we seem to have gotten ourselves into a global pandemic because a bunch of technocrats funded some gain-of-function experiments in hopes of preempting the next pandemic. Do you see the dynamic here?

Over the years a lot of thinkers have pointed out that technocratic policy tracks, devised by centralized groups of experts within an elite managerial class, often bring about the very conditions they were impaneled to obviate.

• Raising minimum wages increases unemployment.
• Holding interest rates to zero creates economic instability and increases wealth inequality.
• Forcing green energy initiatives creates systems with lower energy efficiency and higher carbon footprints.
• Banning guns increases gun violence.
• Censoring “hate” speech fosters more hatred and polarization.

It’s almost as if the managerial class has no awareness of second-order effects. When they inexorably come to pass they are often blamed on the very people who were counselling against the initial policy in the first place.

Thus, financial meltdowns are blamed on runaway free markets and capitalism gone wild. Global warming (if it truly plays out along prognosticated lines) is blamed on industries who are most rapidly transitioning toward greener energy anyway (like Bitcoin mining).

Climate change is another theme that exemplifies the technocratic dynamic: As a society we’re going to transition off of fossil fuels no matter what anybody thinks about the environment because we’re already past peak oil, and peak demand will probably flatline around 100M bpd and start coming down from there in a secular downtrend, for a variety of reasons (prolonged economic malaise and the ascent of green energy).

Yet the most viable pathway toward transitioning away from fossil fuels, nuclear (and in this I include Thorium), is currently relegated as problematic by technocrats and ideologues.

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It all seems backwards and for a long time I’ve been positing a fundamental root cause of this backwardness. The premise is: We have the mind/matter equation completely backwards in the way we think about how the world works.

Conventional thought is that what we experience as consciousness is something that emanates from the brain. Like steam from a kettle. This is also the core assumption of AI. If we build something that resembles a brain, it’ll think. It’s a kind of Frankenstein approach that Eagleman alludes to in his article.

That won’t work and AI will never be achieved as long as the mechanistic, material reductionist worldview persists. Yet, technocrats put a lot of faith in AI, and they think models derived from AI are or will be superior to anything we can figure out on our own because they were outputted by machines with a bigger/faster/hardware brains.

It is completely… wrong.

I think that what we experience as matter are energy patterns that emanate from an underlying, and conscious sub-strata of reality. This is basic quantum theory. Quantum theory can be problematic because it opens the door to all kinds of New Age Woo Woo, which may not even be entirely wrong at its core, but is prone to deeply flawed implementations (like anything, I guess).

People, and probably most living things, have a sense, an intuitive awareness of this sub-strata of reality. Our mythology and sacred texts are probably the stories of sometimes being more attuned to it and sometimes less so. The late British writer Colin Wilson wrote at length on the consciousness of the Egyptians of the upper kingdom, possibly over 7500 years BC. Their consciousness and language was pictorial not linear. It may even be possible (my extrapolation, not his) that the demarcation point between conscious awareness between individuals was blurred somewhat. 

So what happened?

Into this awareness came religions. Organized structures that would begin to dictate the basis on which members of society were to comprehend and approach this Great Sub-Carrier. Priesthoods evolved – the first monopolies. Religions. Hierarchies. Rulers. Subjects.

One of the earliest forms of social deviance was heresy: approaching the Divine Sub-Carrier from a direction outside the religious structure. Can’t have that.

This dynamic is as old as humanity. It could even be argued that historical progress is the story of the public coming to realize that the monopoly thought structure they were in was flawed or obsolete and then society moving on to the next one. The elites of the day would endeavour to halt the progression or when that failed, co-opt whatever came next.

Then new elites would erect a new orthodoxy that placed them directly in the nexus of what was unknowable and what the rabble thought they needed to know in order to perform their primary function of ….servitude.

Today the great sub-carrier is best described by science, not religion. But again, the priesthood is saying that all knowledge of the sub-carrier should come through them. That’s Scientism. That’s Technocracy. Management by Experts.

The last two years of life on earth are a foretaste of a full blown technocracy. Follow The Science™, plebes.

Only our elites can fathom how to approach and extract knowledge from The Great Externality, but this time they’ve made things even worse because they have it exactly backwards. They think the Great Externality doesn’t even exist. It’s for flakes and Bible bangers. The technocratic priesthood holds that material reality is near completely understood and that our minds are side effects of chemical reactions in our brains.

They hold that if only we can crunch enough Big Data and calculate out all the models we’ll be, like God (who doesn’t exist), able to fix everything and eliminate all bad outcomes, for everybody, everywhere. We may even be able to eliminate death, and we could upload our consciousness (which is an illusion) into the cloud and live forever.

Because of this backwardation, we will always be careening from one catastrophe to the next, and most of them will be of our own making. We collectively suffer from an illusion that we are in control.

But we are not in control. We’re a pattern. A dance. A cycle. Waveforms. Vibrations. What we as humans do specifically well, which is our superpower and has led to our technological advancement which could conceivably continue on a trajectory that makes humanity an interstellar phenomenon, is adapt.

What technocrats can’t understand, or admit is that we can’t control what is going to happen. Either on an individual scale of people thinking in ways they’re not supposed to think, or geological, cultural, geopolitical or cosmic scales. We can’t get interest rates right, we can’t get everybody to agree on whether it’s “Gif” or “jif” and somehow we’re going to change the trajectory of the climate? Achieve immortality? Crank out a Singularity?

That is highly unlikely and in trying to preempt theoretical bad outcomes we typically bring about horrible actual outcomes.

The lab leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, if it occurred and it is looking increasingly likely that it did, was the result of gain-of-function studies on bat coronaviruses. They didn’t do it as a bioweapon. It’s not a global conspiracy to institute a Great Reset (all that talk is opportunism more than planning).

They were trying to figure out how to plan for a future global pandemic that may catch humanity off guard and cause incalculable damage. What did they accomplish? They unleashed a global pandemic that caught humanity off guard and caused incalculable damage. Soon to be compounded by global, de-facto compulsory inoculations with experimental vaccines that have a distinctly politicized impetus behind them.

That same dynamic is applied to economics (its where the .COM crash and Global Financial Crisis came from), and social policy (the Woke movement), to climate is all the same technocratic mindset that doesn’t understand the order of reality (mind, then matter) but even worse thinks it knows it.

We’re stuck with that for awhile because the technocratic mindset is incapable of introspection or entertaining the possibility of being wrong about anything. The only move it knows is to double-down on failure.

The antidote to all this is massive decentralization on a global scale, which has the added benefit that decentralization by definition, is not something that gets decided from the top (it never is). It just happens, even in spite of the people in the centre of power who may feel something about their gravitas melting away.

That’s what has started to happen. A global opt-out. The Great Reject. As sure as the Reformation gave way to the Enlightenment despite the protestations of the Church, we’re headed into a world of networks and the sunset of nations. All the while the propagandists of the old order shrieking that in this direction lies certain doom.

The Enlightenment arose from an increase in the level of abstraction, structurally the universe changed from the Ptolemaic worldview (the world as the centre of all existence) to the Heliocentric solar system.

Now we’re experiencing a similar shift away from static top-down hierarchical structures as the natural shape of civilization and toward shifting, impermanent, overlapping networks.

Footnote:  Another Example of Technocratic Adventurism

From American Thinker The Grave Perils of Genetic Editing.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

A company called Oxitec, based in the U.K., is piloting a program using gene-/information-modified mosquitos to eliminate the invasive female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in the Florida Keys. The mosquitoes potentially spread diseases such as Dengue fever and Zika.

Dr. Nathan Rose, head regulator of Oxitec, said mosquito-borne diseases are likely to worsen as a result of climate change. According to the CDC, in a ten-year span between 2010 and 2020, there were 71 cases of Dengue fever transmitted in Florida. In essence, the experiment is being conducted for fear of climate change causing a drastic increase in incidence of Dengue fever. In the Fox article, Rose states that Oxitec will first experiment in Florida, collect data, then “go to the U.S. regulatory agencies to actually get a commercial registration to be able to release these mosquitoes more broadly within the United States.”

Don’t think the Florida Keys just opened their arms with a great big bear hug to this experiment. No, there were pushback and questions. In fact, Oxitec had been pushing this experiment to Key Haven and Key West for years, only to be rejected. Many other places have also declined this experiment. When it was conducted in Brazil, it initially seemed to work, but in the end, the mutated mosquitos transferred mutations to the general public. Thankfully, gene drive was not used in the Brazil experiment, for this type of gene manipulation cannot be reversed and can wipe out a species over time.

Evidently, Oxitec has created a second-generation “friendly mosquito” technology, where new male mosquitoes are programmed to kill only female mosquitoes, with males serving and passing on the modified genes to male offspring for generations. Yes, they are programmed to kill. Oxitec CEO Grey Frandsen announced in 2020 that Oxitec looked forward to working with the Florida Keys community to “demonstrate the effectiveness of our safe, sustainable technology in light of the growing challenges controlling this disease-spreading mosquito.”

Let’s hope the Florida mosquitoes experiment is truly a necessity and not some type of climate-change fear-mongering “sustainable” technology based on speculation.