DAR roasts Bill

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Re: DAR roasts Bill

Postby Dardedar » Sat Mar 13, 2010 10:04 pm

Scratchpad link for a roast on Freakonomic guys:

The New Yorker has a particularly nice smack down of the Freakanomics guys who are making the circles with their latest pile of horseshit ("superfrekanomics"). Their last book sold 4 million and this one will probably be popular too (one guy was already peddling it on the Daily Show). Anyway, check out this response to the solar panel GW claim:


"Neither Levitt, an economist, nor Dubner, a journalist, has any training in climate science—or, for that matter, in science of any kind. It’s their contention that they don’t need it. The whole conceit behind “SuperFreakonomics” and, before that, “Freakonomics,” which sold some four million copies, is that a dispassionate, statistically minded thinker can find patterns and answers in the data that those who are emotionally invested in the material will have missed. (The subtitle of “Freakonomics,” published in 2005, is “A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything.”) In this way, Levitt and Dubner claim to have solved the mystery of why crime, after soaring in the nineteen-eighties, dropped in the nineteen-nineties. (The explanation, they say, is the legalization of abortion, some eighteen years earlier.) They also have proved—at least to their own satisfaction—that names like Ansley and Philippa will be popular for
girls in the coming decade, that reading to your kids doesn’t matter, and that drunks should be encouraged to drive rather than walk.

Given their emphasis on cold, hard numbers, it’s noteworthy that Levitt and Dubner ignore what are, by now, whole libraries’ worth of data on global warming. Indeed, just about everything they have to say on the topic is, factually speaking, wrong. Among the many matters they misrepresent are: the significance of carbon emissions as a climate-forcing agent, the mechanics of climate modelling, the temperature record of the past decade, and the climate history of the past several hundred thousand years. Raymond T. Pierrehumbert is a climatologist who, like Levitt, teaches at the University of Chicago. In a particularly scathing critique, he composed an open letter to Levitt, which he posted on the blog RealClimate.

“The problem wasn’t necessarily that you talked to the wrong experts or talked to too few of them,” he observes. “The problem was that you failed to do the most elementary thinking.” Pierrehumbert carefully dissects one of the arguments that Levitt and Dubner seem to subscribe to—that solar cells, because they are dark, actually contribute to global warming—and shows it to be fallacious. “Really simple arithmetic, which you could not be bothered to do, would have been enough to tell you,” he writes, that this claim “is complete and utter nonsense.”

It's a good article:

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/b ... z0X4MaRSZO
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Re: DAR roasts Bill

Postby Dardedar » Fri Jun 04, 2010 7:58 am

On morals and 2+2...

Allen Stairs writes:

"In the face of the Holocaust, for example, it is very hard to retain an
attitude of relativism. Indeed, one suspects that anyone who says: 'Well
we condemn the Holocaust, but the Nazis thought it was acceptable, and
ultimately, there is no right or wrong of the matter' is in one way or
another not serious -- is either posing or not really facing what he is
saying squarely.

What is the point, then? First, that the naturalistic view of things,
insofar as it suggests that morality is not factual, is not adequate to
our deep-seated and spontaneous reactions -- to our gestures of moral
condemnation in the face of outrageous deeds. So far, then, we may have
moved a step beyond raw naturalism: there are truths -- moral truths -- of
a sort that science cannot establish."

Now naturalism (a rejection of the supernatural) need not imply that there
are no moral truths. But naturalism is often connected with the idea that
the paradigm of genuine knowledge is science. Insofar as moral philosophy
falls significantly short of that emulating that paradigm (moral
statements not being 'testable' in the same way scientific statements are,
and consequently not being justifiable in the same way), many have thought
this a reason to deny the existence of moral facts. For what justifies
moral statements, if not the standard sort of facts that back up
scientific statements? Moral intuition, which varies between individuals?

Moreover, moral statements don't seem to be necessary truths, like 2+2=4.
If moral statements aren't scientific *or* logical truths, maybe they
aren't 'truths' at all.

James Rachels' answer in _The Elements of Moral Philosophy_ is that moral
reasoning justifies moral statements. But what is moral reasoning but
using deduction to work out implications of moral intuitions, where the
intuitions have no justification?

If there is a genuine fact-value distinction, this means that whatever
values are, they are not facts. But if not facts, what could they be?
Hence moral skepticism: moral statements are expressions of emotions,
commands, or false beliefs about objective moral values that don't exist."
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Re: DAR roasts Bill

Postby Dardedar » Mon Jan 10, 2011 2:51 pm

Post for Bigd on the question of...

"Do the Ten Commandments really say, "Thou shalt not murder?" The Hebrew word for "kill" in Exodus 32:13 is ratsach. (The word for "slay" in the contradictory command in Exodus 32:27 is haraq.) Depending on which version you use, there are about ten Hebrew words which are translated "kill." The five most common, in Hebrew order (with translation in order of King James frequency) are:

muth: (825) die, slay, put to death, kill
nakah: (502) smite, kill, slay, beat, wound, murder
haraq: (172) slay, kill, murder, destroy
zabach: (140) sacrifice, kill
ratsach: (47) slay [23], murder[17], kill[6], be put to death [1]

Modern preachers must be smarter than Hebrew translators if they claim that ratsach means "murder" exclusively. Muth, nakah, haraq, zabach, and ratsach appear to be spilled all over the bible in an imprecise and overlapping jumble of contexts, in much the same way modern writers will swap synonyms.
Referring to the cities of refuge" set up by Moses to shelter killers, Deuteronomy 4:42 says, "that the slayer [ratsach] might flee thither, which should kill [ratsach] his neighbor unawares, and hated him not in times past." This is hardly murder--it is neither premeditated nor malicious. It is an accidental killing, classed at most as manslaughter in our society.
Again showing that ratsach can be accidental: "But if he thrust him suddenly without enmity, or have cast upon him any thing without laying of wait, or with any stone...seeing him not...and was not his enemy, neither sought his harm: Then the congregation shall judge between the slayer [ratsach] and the revenger of blood according to these judgments." (35:22-24)

Verse 27 shows that ratsach can be considered a justified killing: "[if] the revenger of blood kill [ratsach] the slayer [ratsach]; he shall not be guilty of blood." Verses 30 and 31 show how the words are interchanged, and also indicate that ratsach was used for capital punishment: "Whoso killeth [nakah] any person, the murderer [ratsach] shall be put to death [ratsach] by the mouth of witnesses... Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer [ratsach], which is guilty of death: but he shall surely be put to death [muth]."

If this doesn't remove all doubt then consider Provers 22:13: "The slothful man saith There is a lion without, I shall be slain [ratsach] in the streets." Can animals be guilty of murder?

But all of this is irrelevant when we find verses repeating "Thou shalt not kill" in other Hebrew words. Leviticus 24:17 says, "And he that killeth [nakah] any man shall surely be put to death [muth]." Exodus 21:12, just twenty-one verses after the Ten Commandments, says, "He that smiteth [nakah] a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death." According to Scripture it doesn't matter what word you use: killing is against the law.

Joshua nakah'ed the people of Ai (Joshua 8:21), and David nakah'ed Goliath (I Samuel 19:5). This was considered justifiable killing in spite of the fact that nakah was expressly forbidden. What does this do to the "ratsach = murder" defense? If Joshua and David are not criminal, then the bible is again proved contradictory.

When the Israelite warriors marched through a village, slaughtering and plundering in the name of the Lord, ripping up animals, children men, and women, saving the virgins alive for themselves (Numbers 31:15-18), did they say to the pregnant woman with a sword in her belly, "By the way, I want you to know that I am not murdering you. I am lawfully killing you in God's name"? Would such a fine semantic distinction make much difference to the victims of righteousness?"

--Freethought Today, April, 1989. Reprinted in "Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist" by Dan Barker, pg. 207-209
"I'm not a skeptic because I want to believe, I'm a skeptic because I want to know." --Michael Shermer
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Re: DAR roasts Bill

Postby Dardedar » Mon Jul 25, 2011 11:06 pm

Debunk of an article by Canadian loon Mark Steyn.

Mostly chatter, when he does accidentally stray into saying something fact based, he gets it wrong.

Mark: "The Brokest Nation in History is the only country in the developed world...">>

Not true. We're not even close to broke. Let's be honest with language.

broke –verb
4. without money; penniless.
5. bankrupt.

Here is a list of nations sorted by public debt as a percentage of GDP:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_co ... ublic_debt

The US comes in 36th.

Measured by external debt, we come in 38th:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_co ... ernal_debt

Notice all of our very successful, wealthy, peer countries, in the top ten. They're not broke either. Our entire debt is just under our GDP for one year. My entire debt is about 5x what I make each year, and I'm not broke either. Our wealth VASTLY exceeds our debt, thus we are by definition, not broke. See also: "The Hollow Cry of ‘Broke’"

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/03/opini ... ml?_r=2&hp

MARK: "a land with over a trillion dollars in college debt,">>

That's actually a good thing. It means people are borrowing money to invest in their education and in their future. The notion that this would be a bad thing, is absurd.

MARK: "The American Dream, 2011: You pay four bucks a gallon to commute...">>

Our fuel is actually way under priced and a fraction of what many of our peer countries pay. Our price doesn't include the approximately $95 billion we spend per year to secure a steady supply. Nor is it taxed enough. Our gas taxes only pay about half of the cost of road building and maintenance. The rest comes out of general revenue. Gas taxes should pay for all of it. Our economy is hit hard by fuel price increases because for decades we have encouraged (with direct tax credits and subsidies to the wealthy), the purchase of profoundly inefficient and wasteful vehicles.

Contrast this with the Japanese example:

"Japan's energy consumption per person is now almost half that of the United States...
Japan now imports 16 percent less oil than it did in 1973, although the economy has more than doubled. Billions of dollars were invested in converting oil-reliant electricity-generation systems into ones powered by natural gas, coal, nuclear energy or alternative fuels. Japan, for instance, now accounts for 48 percent of the globe's solar power generation - compared with 15 percent in the United States."

www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/a ... 007/11/09/ (broken link)

Thus, when fuel prices increase (as they will continue to) Japan isn't hit nearly as hard as we are, because they are so much more efficient.

MARK: "In a sane world, Americans would be outraged at the government waste that confronts them everywhere">>

Actually, compared to our peer nations which clearly beat us on so many standard measurements of societal function, our social spending is a pittance in comparison. Note:

"The United States currently ranks thirty-fourth(34th) out of the thirty-four(34) members of the OECD in regards to spending on social programs, dead last.
The amount the United States spends is currently only 7.2% of our gross domestic product on programs that make up our social contract with the American people."

http://www.politicususa.com/en/u-s-rank ... l-spending

The notion that we vastly overspend on wasteful social spending is a right-wing canard.

MARK: "our elites worry about sea levels.">>

And with good reason. All scientific bodies of national and international standing agree with the basic findings of human influence on recent climate change, and that the earth is warming and we are causing it. This will have serious repercussion on sea level and the billion+ people living on coasts. Anyone who denies climate change has all, and I do mean all, of the peer reviewed science against them. Having all of the science against you, is never a good place to be.

MARK: "It’s America that’s drowning.">>

America is drowning in a sea of misinformation, which is widely distributed by people like Mark Steyn and his crackpot media accomplices. These people are without excuse, really should know better, and should be ashamed of themselves.
"I'm not a skeptic because I want to believe, I'm a skeptic because I want to know." --Michael Shermer
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