May 2008

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« Almost as Funny as a Turd | Main | Proof of God »


Jeffrey Horn

And still more people unable to understand another human being's viewpoint on an issue, just because she chooses to look at the positive side of a negative issue:,2144,2829811,00.html


I'm more than a bit behind with your blog at the moment and so wouldn't normally comment but I simply had to repond to this one (and without reading other comments so appologies if this point has already been made).

I think you've had a bought of cognitive dissonance yourself relating to the dailykos article. If you analyse the text from both angles you haven't been accused of supporting Lomburg, simply finding his arguements "entirely reasonable" which isn't the same thing - although still wide of the mark. The key point to me is about your aparent definitions relating to global warming deniers and hybrid car supporters, I can see how the writer has come up with that but I believe he simply didn't get your use of humour in your post.

For the record I am in IT and have an educational background in Maths,I regularly find myself in the middle of arguements using lines like "I see where your coming from but I can also see his point"

Bruce Harrison

About Al Gore: here is his exact quote: "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet."

It would have been better (for him) if Gore had said "invented." To say he created it is to say he willed it into being, rather than "inventing" the idea for it.

Some have said that what he meant was that blah blah blah apologist apologist apologist. Remember, this is the same guy who said that he was the one who discovered the problems with Love Canal, and that he and Tipper's relationship was the basis for Erich Segal's "Love Story" (Tipper had better keep looking over her shoulder to keep the ending from coming true in her case).

By the way, he did defend himself on this point a number of times, but his defense came down to this: "I never said I invented the Internet." That is true, in a Clintonian sense, but hardly the point.

And he's the guy you believe on anthropogenic global warming, huh? Wow.

Adrian D.

Steven McDaniel:

You are correct that I am not a true believer in evolution (that would be the conjecture that evolution is responsible for all the species that we see; I am currently satisfied with the evidence of the lesser claim that species do adapt to their environment.) I only called you on the universal negative because that was your claim -- that evolution was statistically impossible.

We all have preconceived notions. For example, I believe that I am operating in a real world and not having my perceptions force-fed through a Matrix-like system. I have no way of proving this; and I would probably resist contradictory evidence.

Oh, I must disagree with you on one point. The claim that humans are causing global warming is as disingenious. With evolution they have a fossil record which is, at least, reasonably consistent (that's consistent, not conclusive) with their claims. With human-caused global warming, they only have "we say so."

I will happily think for myself. I get quite irate when others try to do my thinking for me. I too wish you well.

Steven McDaniel

Well, Adrian, you've got me cornered with the old expectation that I have to prove a universal negative, or I suffer from predisposition. I cannot prove evolution 'doesn't exist' anymore than you can prove it does, or we can prove that Santa Claus doesn't exist. But seeing as you say you can't know for sure this infers you are not a true believer in evolution, so I have no argument with you. However, Adrian, the scientific community has in no other instance been so pervasively disingenuous than in its promotion of evolutionary philosophy as science. So, like me, you're going to have to think for yourself, buddy. I wish you the best of fortune in your journey of discovery. My good wishes go out to you.

Eric H

"My blog on how Bill Maher and his panelists misunderstood Lomborg"

Wow, you wrote an entire blog devoted to that one show?

Or maybe you wrote one post to your existing blog?

On another note, you could take a religious right-wing website, take out the word "creation", drop in the words "global warming", and then claim it was a post from DailyKos, and both sides would believe it. "How can they question it? It's obviously true. Deniers are obviously evil!"

Adrian D.

Steven McDaniel:

I consider the fact of information known to be missing to be important. You appear to hold the impossibility of evolution as a core belief (you believe it without evidence and you would shield the belief from any contrary information).

From my perspective, we simply don't know what happenned. (By the way, invoking a god is also "something magical.") I don't know of any way we could know for certain -- although there may be a way of which I have not thought. But you cannot convince someone of something when, in reality, all your agrguments are based on the assumption of your "conclusion." People who already agree with you may think it's a good argument; but it's just going in circles.

Steven McDaniel

Adrian D

As regards your analogy involving a roulette wheel, that illustration would indeed be remotely pertinent if all our organism needed to ‘evolve’ and survive in the wild world was a couple of lucky numbers. However, we both are conscious of the fact that it involves vastly more than that kind of thing happening to render evolution any more than a ludicrous fallacy.

Take the viper with its simple ‘light sensitive spots’, for instance. For the light sensitive spots to have a slight chance of any advantageous ramifications, in avoiding predators, for instance, the spots would have to also arise interconnected with a neural network which could convey the signal to a central processing unit (brain) tuned somehow to receive and interpret the signal, recognizing it as the presence or absence of light. This brain would then have to initiate a reaction, either through conscious thought, or instinctively, to hide or flee from the predator on the basis of a moving shadow. And of course it would need complex musculature to provide the locomotion initiated at the prompting of the brain signal. This all would have to arise from an infinite number of fortuitous mutations producing cooperating mechanisms on the atomic, molecular, anatomical, biochemical, level, etc, etc. There is no sane ‘analogy’ you could use purport that random mutations could have ever come up with such a concerted effort with such uncanny synchrony.

You can tell me that ‘we don’t have all the information necessary,’ as if that will make it any more reasonable to assume (something magical?) that we don’t know about might have happened. As a matter of fact, all the ‘maths’ (and common sense, actually) is in place within our reach to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that this ‘random mutations combined with survival of the fittest’ is the most blatantly unscientific hoax to capture the imagination of the world in the history of mankind.


I just saw Bjorn Lomborg speak at the Oxford Union; he mentioned the blog and how you had noticed the cognitive dissonance that somehow makes both ardent environmentalists and gas-guzzler drivers want to attack him for things he never said.
If it's any comfort, none of the students went down that path, even the non-economists!

Adrian D.

Steven McDaniel:

For your analogy, the counterargument would be that, if you dropped millions of people out of airplanes -- all without parachutes -- some would be better able to survive than others. If this were repeated over many generations, natural selection would favor those better able to survive.

You can say, "Do the math," all you want; but you know as well as I do that we don't have all the information necessary. There may be many ways to generate a light-sensitive area. If the odds (in a single trial) of a light sensitive area being produced by *some* mutation (sum of all possible ways) is a million to one against, it can still be expected to happen after a million offspring are produced; after that, if it is an advantage, it will be reproduced ad nauseum.

There is no point to saying "statistically impossible." At this time, it cannot be established either way. All it does is show a preconception. We do not know how many different ways there are to reach certain types of features; nor do we know how advantageous the points on the paths are.

Let me use my own analogy here. Someone could stand by a roulette wheel, note the results for 1000 spins, and talk about how unlikely that particular run was. The true question about this is how likely it is that intelligence and communication would develop through a combination of mutation and removing the bulk of mutations that are harmful -- aka mutation and natural selection. The other things argued (wings, eyes, smell) are artifacts of the particular run. Other runs might have different artifacts. Intelligence and communication are critical because without them discussions of how we came to be are not possible.

Steven McDaniel

Adrian D:
"..Steven McDaniel:
I don't see why it would necessarily be "statisticly impossible." We certainly don't know how many ways an initial light sensitivity can be achieved. The idea of evolution is that some random mutations are more adapted for survival in the environment. Descendents with those genes will reproduce more. Most mutations, of course, are useless or even harmful. Descendents with those genes will reproduce less. Over the history of the planet, we are dealing with trillions of "trials;" and there may very well be "small steps" that are useful in one way or another.."

Adrian, thanx for the input. Even with trillions of gazillions of 'trials,' it is still statistically impossible for these things to happen. The word 'random' should give us a clue. Even with 'survival of the fittest,' an extremely broad driving force at the very least, it just couldn't happen. An analogy that is perfectly consistent for illustrating this line of reasoning is the example of a man falling out of an aeroplane. Survival of the fittest would require that he would sprout wings (it's not the fall that hurts - it's the sudden stop at the end). Or at least a parachute... 'But Steven, you don't realise that this would happen over many generations, and the person had trillions of miles and aeons of time to fall.' Well, on the way down, even if he managed to join the 'trillion mile high club', the descendants wouldn't even develop flying mechanisms, even huge flaps under their armpits, like Richard Dawkins' squirrels. You see, the need for survival would not supply a sufficient imperative for random mutations to come up with such developments, even in 'small steps', even over trillions of miles, falling for trillions of years and with trillions of people falling from trillions of aeroplanes. This is only an analogy; I use it because it illustrates in a compelling manner statistical verities adherents of evolution refuse to directly face up to. If you'll pardon the pun, that is where evolution falls flat on its face. Based on this patently obvious statistical logic, I can't help but see that evolution is not even, as you confer on it, a 'reasonable hypothesis'. Do the maths....

Adrian D.

Steven McDaniel:

I don't see why it would necessarily be "statisticly impossible." We certainly don't know how many ways an initial light sensitivity can be achieved. The idea of evolution is that some random mutations are more adapted for survival in the environment. Descendents with those genes will reproduce more. Most mutations, of course, are useless or even harmful. Descendents with those genes will reproduce less. Over the history of the planet, we are dealing with trillions of "trials;" and there may very well be "small steps" that are useful in one way or another.

Please note: The above is only intended to show that evolution is a reasonable hypothesis. It is not a declaration of what happenned. I am interested in the past only insofar as it generates useful predictions for the future.


That's pretty unsettling/depressing.

Steven McDaniel

"..You're well out of date. IIRC it took about 20 years for someone to come up with an explanation.
Look at the simple spider eye. Then the more complicated eyes of snakes, then ours. Look at the light sensitive pits on pit vipers (much easier to create and a lot less effective than a proper eye).
There's a large specrum of eye (of which the human one isn't the pinnacle by a long shot) and at no point is there a "half eye".
Maybe you should try evolving..." Mark

Mark, I don't care if there is a species with a brownie box camera sticking out of their ear, my point that you obtusely evaded while pretending to crush me with your enlightened rhetoric is that it is statistically impossible for any of the forms of eye (as I said, 'for instance' and you just gave other instances) to have developed all by themselves. You are just answering another assertion by some other doubter of evolution that I happen to know involved the phrase 'half eye'). I suggest you go back to your favourite websites and lift out an argument that addresses what I myself had to say. Till then, I will decline on your invitation to evolve a taste for BS. However, I will concede that Richard Dawkins has already proved that chimpanzees on typewriters can indeed come up with literary works.


I always wondered why Al Gore never defended himself from the attack “He said he invented the Internet.” What he did is get funding for the Internet before most people had even heard of it. I thought he could have easily turned the attacks into a positive with something like, “I never used the word ‘invent,’ but I did play a big role in funding the creation of the Internet before anyone else in Congress saw its potential. That’s the sort of vision you need in a president.”

Logical error here: what Al Gore actually said was he took the initiative in creating the Internet. That's way, way more credit than he deserved, and he was rightly mocked for the assertion.

If he'd said what you suggested, he'd have received credit for what was a mildly insightful task. Instead he stupidly exaggerated and got busted, much like John Kerry pretending to be a Vietnam hero who volunteered for combat and spent Christmas in Cambodia, as opposed to being a guy who accidentally ended up in combat duty while looking for cushier duty than being at sea all the time, and quickly manufactured a trip home on a technicality, then said awful things about our troops.

The media will let Dems lie shamelessly for most of their political careers. They generally don't get called on it till they run for President.


I'm personally on the frame of mind that we need to move past whether there is climate change that is uncontrolled, unpredictable, and changing too fast for species to adapt to: what are we going to do about it? To answer this question, and actually implement it is much more difficult problem. It probably won't be one thing, but involve both the industrial nations using using less energy and resources, developing efficient and economically scaled alternative energy, and yes even controlling human population growth. But those are unpleasant topics. The main reason why rational minded people object to Lomberg is that he hand waves yes yes this is happening, but is still arguing for DOING NOTHING, handing out snack crackers while the ship is sinking. It is very reminiscent of the gun lobby repeatedly stating for example lack of gun control don't increase shooting deaths, fighting gun control, and then when there is uncontrovertible evidence, the stance changes to, well I never said that, what I mean is that there are so many guns in this country the criminals will get their hands on them anyways so (throws up hands).

He makes good points but uses them for bad ends. And you, author of pointy headed bosses, should have pointed that hypocrisy out.


After reading your blog I was shocked to read the response that some people had to your comments. I thought that your comments made complete sense and I thought that they were very reasonable arguments. It can be either annoying or entertaining how worked up some fanatical liberals can get. I respect you for your boldness and your impartial analysis of things. Way to go!


When I read a blog like DailyKos, I like to ponder the fact that every individual that posted there receives the same say in our government that I do. The same say that Scott does. The same say that Brittany Spears does . . . wait, that one doesn't work.



For your collection of interesting critics :
(see post of Sept 28)

Among other things, this post :

- Ignores the cognitive-dissonance part of your post (aka the main theme), and focus on the Lomborg vs Global Warming dispute.
- Accuses you of being stupid and naive enough to have fallen under Lomborg's "salesman" spell.
- Claims that "change deniers" and "hybrid promoters" are not "equally extreme" (apparently they are both extremists, but in different degrees).
- Believes Dilbert is smarter than you (for the record, I think Dogbert is smarter than all of us)
- Presents as evidence some quotes from Lomborg.



Scott -

Welcome to the world of rational thinkers, where a well-meaning supporter can ruin a perfectly rational position by supporting it with irrational arguments. Just because someone has a perfectly rational opinion doesn't mean they arrived at that opinion through a rational thought process.

Most people in this world don't understand that attacking an argument is not the same thing as attacking the conclusion of an argument. If you argue, they reason, you must hold an opposing viewpoint.

I've found that it's fruitless to explain the difference. Those who understand the difference already understand the difference, and those who don't often can't. Whe engaging in such conversations it's best to understand which type of person you are dealing with. Material intended for consumption by the masses should never make the attempt, unless you are Ok that the majority of your audience will misunderstand.

Chris @ Martial Development

Scott, is dissonance the key to baiting a link from a top 100 blog such as yours? Also, if you hate freedom so much then why don't you move to Iran with all the other crypto-fascist liberals?

- Chris


Scott, I must correct you on this:

Al Gore DID NOT invent hydrid cars, nor did he ever claim he did!

Your confusion on this matter is muddying an already confusing issue.

And what's so bad about hydrid cars anyways?




Do you really think that it's healthy to hate a public figure to the extent that you look to everybody to be an ignorant, hateful fool?

As has been pointed out already, you are badly misinformed about the object of your hatred.



Kudos for not commenting on the Richard Bell comment.

I read the interview, Blomberg seems even MORE reasonable to me now and Richard Bell seems out to lunch to me. Just my opinion.

*putting on kevlar underpants*


You wrote:

[I challenge anyone to read this Berger-Lomborg exchange and not come away understanding that Lomborg's claim was, from a scientific point of view, deceitful, and consciously so, given the edited quote.]

Ok, I accept the challenge. I went to Salon and read the interview and it seems to me that you're vastly overstating your case here. Actual quote in question:

[But you edited the quote. The whole thing goes like this: "It is difficult to envisage the survival of polar bears as a species given a zero summer sea-ice scenario. Their only option would be a terrestrial summer lifestyle similar to that of brown bears, from which they evolved. In such a case, competition, risk of hybridization with brown bears and grizzly bears, and increased interactions with people would then number among the threats to polar bears."]

Here is the footnote Lomberg gave:

[The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment finds it likely that disappearing ice will make polar bears take up 'a terrestrial summer lifestyle similar to that of brown bears, from which they evolved.]

Three things here.

1) Polar bears, faced with no ice in summer, will have to find land and will be forced to live like other bears to survive. The original assessment and Lomberg agree.

2)The assessment, in that case, lists the following risks to polar bears. One, competition with other bears. Two, inbreeding with other bears causing a grizzly / polar bear mix I suppose. Three, increased interactions with humans, which I take to mean people shooting them. Blomberg does not list these risks - which Mr. Bell is calling consciously deceitful.

3) I disagree. The only fact stated is that without summer ice, polar bears need to find land.

The speculation is we can't imagine polar bears as a species surviving under those conditions... but that isn't a given. I'm imagining it now, so, at least the envisioning of such a state isn't impossible.

It sure looks like they'll have a tougher time than they do now, but brown bears and grizzlies are both surviving in northen areas, with competition, breeding and hunting firmly in place.

Blomberg quotes the fact and leaves out the speculation.

There isn't anything unethical about that.

I think it is clear to anyone with half a brain that polar bears, removed from their ecological niche, will suffer. But it isn't clear that they will immediately go extinct.

They are good hunters in harsh conditions and freakishly strong. It is not hard at all for me to imagine them doing just fine competing for food against smaller brown bears and interbreeding with the occasional grizzly, then going north for easy hunting, gorging / hibernation cycle in the winter.

You on the other hand, engaged in personal attacks against Scott - for pointing out that people are misquoting and misunderstanding Blomberg. He was 100% correct in that assessment.

If you have a problem with Blomberg, take it up with the source. Should we not ask the question, "is the money and effort we are spending having the greatest positive impact?"

Are you really arguing against that? Wow.

Whether you admit it or not, there are a lot of people who think the projected impact of global warming is an unclear problem at best and complete kuso at worst.

They number in the millions and form a popular camp on this issue.

In my mind, you just joined Bill Maher as someone who is so consumed by your point of view that you can't see another one, no matter how rationally presented.

Ben Holliday

How about "Sometimes the best you can do is move the turd under you to another OFFICE (or branch)!"

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