Monday, November 27, 2017

When science entered the policy greenhouse

The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.
These words in the second assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change can now be seen as pivotal in the history of global warming science.
However tentative the wording, this was the first time that an official assessment had made a positive ‘detection’ claim.
The breakthrough was widely celebrated and then used to justify a change of US policy, towards support for binding greenhouse gas emissions targets.

But this came only after protests over what had been done to the IPCC report to make way for this statement. Just days before the US policy change was announced, an op-ed by leading US scientist, Frederick Seitz, described the late removal of sceptical passages as ‘a major deception’, and a ‘disturbing corruption of the peer-review process’, where policymakers and the public had been misled into believing ‘that the scientific evidence shows human activities are causing global warming’.
https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/11/24/after-the-catastrophe-signal-when-science-entered-the-policy-greenhouse/

Friday, November 24, 2017

Gore’s Oil Money

"Occidental’s investment in Gore has paid rich dividends. In late 1997 the Vice President championed the Administration’s $3.65 billion sale to the company of the government’s interest in the Elk Hills oilfield in Bakersfield, California, the largest privatization of federal property in US history. On the very day the deal was sealed Gore gave a speech lamenting the growing threat of global warming. Gore also maintains a close friendship with Occidental CEO Ray Irani. In 1996 the latter spent the night in the Lincoln Bedroom. Two days later his company donated $100,000 to the DNC. In 1994 Irani traveled with Commerce Secretary Ron Brown on a trade junket to Russia. Four years later, Irani was invited to a state dinner at the White House for Colombian President Pastrana."
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"Occidental and the Administration are also cooperating in promoting President Clinton’s controversial $1.6 billion package in military aid for Bogotá. (Occidental already pays the Colombian military to keep an army base next to a refinery it runs in the country.) The aid request came in the wake of three reports–from the US State Department, the United Nations and Human Rights Watch–that slammed Pastrana’s government for human rights abuses and for failing to cut ties between the army and paramilitary death squads. According to the Human Rights Watch report, at least seven senior military officials in Colombia who have links to paramilitary units are graduates of the US Army’s School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia.

On February 15 an Occidental vice president, Lawrence Meriage, testified before a House subcommittee in favor of the package, saying that Colombia’s military “lack mobility, equipment and, perhaps most serious, they lack the intelligence-gathering capabilities afforded to their better-funded adversaries.” Meriage took the opportunity to denounce opposition to his company’s Samore project, which he said is limited to “extremists” in Colombia and “several fringe nongovernmental organizations in the US.” The latter–which Meriage didn’t name but which include the Rainforest Action Network and Project Underground–are “de facto allies of the subversive forces that are attacking oil installations, electric power stations and other legitimate business enterprises,” the Occidental executive said.
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Gore has also rebuffed members of his own party who have asked him to support the tribe. On February 22 Representative Cynthia McKinney wrote to Gore and urged him to meet with U’wa leader Perez and to support an immediate suspension of the Samore project. “I am concerned that the operations of oil companies, and in particular Occidental Petroleum, are exacerbating an already explosive situation, with disastrous consequences for the local indigenous people,” she said. “I am contacting you because you have remained silent on this issue despite your strong financial interests and family ties with Occidental.” "

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Pathogen levels preceded shifts in gender equality

"It turned out that a decline in levels of infectious disease was the most robust factor predictor of rising gender equality, a finding we were able to replicate in the UK, and in both societies we found evidence that changes in pathogen levels preceded shifts in gender equality "

Penile coital injuries in men decline after circumcision

"Penile coital injuries are one of the suggested mechanisms behind the increased risk of HIV among uncircumcised men. We evaluated the prevalence and correlates of self-reported penile coital injuries in a longitudinal community-based cohort of young (18-24 years old), newly circumcised and uncircumcised men in Western Kenya."

"Self-reported penile coital injuries were common and decreased significantly following circumcision. Improving sexual experience through the removal of a potential source of sexual discomfort may resonate with many men targeted for circumcision services. The role of penile coital injuries in sexual satisfaction, HIV, HSV-2, and as a motivator for seeking circumcision services should be explored further."

Medical male circumcision has health benefits for women, review finds

"male circumcision is associated with decreased risk in women for cervical cancer, cervical dysplasia, herpes simplex virus type 2 (the main cause of genital herpes), chlamydia, and syphilis. They also found additional evidence that male circumcision is associated with decreased risk for human papillomavirus, or HPV, which causes cervical cancer and genital warts."
"These findings confirm that voluntary medical male circumcision is associated with protection for female partners from diseases that severely impact their health," said the study's first author, Jonathan Grund, from the CDC's Division of Global HIV & TB. "Existing prenatal care services and cervical cancer screening programs already counsel women about staying healthy. If that counseling includes encouraging male partners to get circumcised and referring interested men to these services, it can improve women's health programs and HIV prevention programs simultaneously."

Monday, October 16, 2017

THE ANTI-DEVELOPMENT BANK



"The turning point came when, in the mid 1990s, with the opening up of world capital markets to most developing countries outside Africa, the bank had three choices, as noted by Anne Krueger:

:to downsize and concentrate only on the countries that are truly poor, and phase out activities in middle income countries

:continue to operate in all countries, focusing on the ‘soft issues’ of development, such as the environment, women’s rights, labour rights and the encouragement of NGOs

:to shutdown.


The new President James Wolfensohn chose the second option. I argued in my Reviving the Invisible Hand for the third. The arguments of this paper provide further support for my position. "

Monday, October 9, 2017

First, They Came for the Biologists

https://www.wsj.com/articles/first-...

The revolution on college campuses, which seeks to eradicate individuals and ideas that are considered unsavory, constitutes a hostile takeover by fringe elements on the extreme left. Last spring at the Evergreen State College, where I was a professor for 15 years, the revolution was televised—proudly and intentionally—by the radicals. Opinions not fitting with the currently accepted dogma—that all white people are racist, that questioning policy changes aimed at achieving “equity” is itself an act of white supremacy—would not be tolerated, and those who disagreed were shouted down, hunted, assaulted, even battered. Similar eruptions have happened all over the country.

What may not be obvious from outside academia is that this revolution is an attack on Enlightenment values: reason, inquiry and dissent. Extremists on the left are going after science. Why? Because science seeks truth, and truth isn’t always convenient.

The left has long pointed to deniers of climate change and evolution to demonstrate that over here, science is a core value. But increasingly, that’s patently not true.

The battle on our campuses—and ever more, in K-12 schools, in cubicles and in meetings, and on the streets—is being framed as a battle for equity, but that’s a false front. True, there are real grievances. Gaps between populations exist, for historical and modern reasons that are neither honorable nor acceptable, and they must be addressed. But what is going on at institutions across the country is—yes—a culture war between science and postmodernism. The extreme left has embraced a facile fiction.

Postmodernism, and specifically its offspring, critical race theory, have abandoned rigor and replaced it with “lived experience” as the primary source of knowledge. Little credence is given to the idea of objective reality. Science has long understood that observation can never be perfectly objective, but it also provides the ultimate tool kit with which to distinguish signal from noise—and from bias. Scientists generate complete lists of alternative hypotheses, with testable predictions, and we try to falsify our own cherished ideas.

Science is imperfect: It is slow and methodical, and it makes errors. But it does work. We have microchips, airplanes and streetlights to show for it.

In a meeting with administrators at Evergreen last May, protesters called, on camera, for college president George Bridges to target STEM faculty in particular for “antibias” training, on the theory that scientists are particularly prone to racism. That’s obvious to them because scientists persist in using terms like “genetic” and “phenotype” when discussing humans. Mr. Bridges offers: “[What] we are working towards is, bring ’em in, train ’em, and if they don’t get it, sanction them.”

Despite the benevolent-sounding label, the equity movement is a highly virulent social pathogen, an autoimmune disease of the academy. Diversity offices, the very places that were supposed to address bigotry and harassment, have been weaponized and repurposed to catch and cull all who disagree. And the attack on STEM is no accident. Once scientists are silenced, narratives can be fully unhooked from any expectation that they be put to the test of evidence. Last month, Evergreen made it clear that they wanted two of its scientists gone—my husband, Bret Weinstein, and me, despite our stellar reputations with the students they claimed to be protecting. First, they came for the biologists…

Science has sometimes been used to rationalize both atrocity and inaction in its face. But conflating science with its abuse has become a favorite trope of extremists on the left. It’s a cheap rhetorical trick, and not, dare I say, very logical.

Science creates space for the free exchange of ideas, for discovery, for progress. What has postmodernism done for you lately?