The definition of counterproductive

I’m not a UFO conspiracy guy myself, but it’s not hard to see how this sort of government behavior is going to confirm the more radical X-File-style UFOlogists in their suspicions:

Britain’s official UFO investigation unit and hotline were closed down at the start of December. Since then reports of strange sights in the skies sent to the MoD have been kept for 30 days before being thrown out, the newly released policy document shows. This stance was adopted so defence officials would not have to publish the information in response to freedom of information (FoI) requests or pass it to the National Archives.

It says: ”Reported sightings received from other sources should be answered by a standard letter and… should be retained for 30 days and then destroyed, largely removing any future FoI liability and negating the need to release future files post-November 30 2009.”

The memo reveals that MoD chiefs made a point of not discussing their plans to close the UFO unit with other countries because of fears this could be perceived as part of a global cover-up.

It states: ”We have deliberately avoided formal approaches to other Governments on this issue. Such approaches would become public when the relevant UFO files are released, and would be viewed by ‘ufologists’ as evidence of international collaboration and conspiracy.”

Actually, this approach could work well for the “climate scientists” too. Gather the data, then throw it out as soon as you’ve generated your hockey stick graph so that you don’t have to show it to anyone. Now, I know that most people are idiots but this is really astonishing. Hiding and destroying information is not exactly the most effective means of convincing the general public that there is nothing to hide.


That’s a negative?

This is one of the more positive two-star reviews I’ve ever happened to see:

Overall, Mr Day’s book is too detailed, verbose, and essentially reads too much like an academic level text. Good points made at the end of his book could have been arrived at in fewer pages. This book would do well in a graduate level econ. class.

It’s true, the points made at the end actually don’t require most of the preceding chapters because it’s not necessary to understand the rival economic theories in order to understand the range of forecasts by various economists and the policies that I recommend. RGD is a book about economic theory and recent economic history more than it is one dedicated to practical policy measures. As for it being too detailed and verbose, to paraphrase the immortal words of Cecil Vyse, I can only plead guilty to it being such a book.

Anyhow, as a Japanese reviewer concludes, it’s a pretty good value even so: “I just want to add that the Kindle version is currently $1.59, which is about the price of a 20oz soda. Needless to say, this was the best $1.59 I have spent since gas was less than a dollar a gallon.”


The unfalsifiable “science”

I couldn’t agree more with these commenters at Brad DeLong’s place:

I’d say the point is not that economists have come up with a lot of false hypotheses. That’s normal and just the way hypotheses are. The point is that the status of those so-called hypotheses is not reduced by empirical evidence. As noted by Quiggin, one problem is that they aren’t hypotheses at all but rather statements so vague that they can’t be tested. The other problem is that many economists draw policy implications of statements so vague that they can’t be tested.

Of course, economics isn’t the only “science” that begins with the letter E that suffers from these problems. What’s worse about economics, though, is that they already have at least three alternative hypotheses that work much better on both logical and predictive bases than mainstream Samuelsonianism or Efficient Markets.

None of the mainstream economists saw the financial crisis of 2008 coming. None of them realize that we are in a giant economic contraction now, not an economic recovery. None of them are paying any attention to the commercial real estate debt crisis or understand how that is going to affect the economy. (Here’s a hint: it could be bigger than the total Finance and Household sectors debt-deflation of $1.1 trillion to date and has the potential to take down up to 40% of the banking system in the next three years.) And despite some public tearing of hair-shirts, as per the famous article in The Econonomist, no mainstream economists have shown any signs of abandoning their failed hypotheses, policies, statistics, or econometric models.


If NASA operated like the CBO

A tale by Desert Cat

“Sir, according to our calculations, we should have just entered orbit around the moon.”

“You’re sitting in the parking lot.”

“No, sir, we should be in orbit now.”

“I’m looking out my window right now. I see you in your pod talking to me.”

“Sir, that cannot be. We have carefully checked our calculations. We are in orbit. Shall we initiate the landing sequence?”

“Look, you’re not in orbit around the moon. You did not get off the ground on earth. You’re sitting in your pod in a parking lot behind the building, talking to me on your cell phone. Look out the window of your pod. What do you see?”

“I can’t, sir.”

“What?”

“I can’t look out the window.”

“Why not?”

“It doesn’t fit with our calculations.”

“Oh FFS! I am ordering you to look out your pod window! Now, I am waving at you from my office window. What do you see?”

“…”

“Hello?”

“…”

“What do you see?”

“Sir?”

“Yes?”

“Sir, you may not believe this, but I think we’ve come face to face with an alien life form.”

“Huh?!”

“It is a large, cube-shaped craft, hovering next to our pod. The aliens appear to be trying to hail us…”

Truly excellent work. It is becoming evermore apparent to those who are cognizant of a reasonable range of economic theories that the more stubbornly the Neo-Keynesians cling to their econometric models, the further from reality they will find themselves.



A question for Ed Brayton

Michael Heath attempts an illogical defense of Ed Brayton:

Ed’s response to the comments regarding him in this thread is here. Ed does have a debating background. He is not a scientist in a relevant field, however he’s scientifically literate and has an in-depth understanding of both the evidence for evolution and creationist attempts to discredit those claims.

One of his commentors in the link above regarding this debate suggested Ed only debate in written form, I agree. I’ve yet to experience a creationist that can debate this subject without complete dependence on rhetorical and logical fallacies coupled to frequent use of the Gish Gallop. A written debate provides no cover for such intellectual dishonesty.

We such a rhetorical fallacy here where Mr. Day fails to address Mr. Brayton’s point and instead moves straight into avoidance mode.

We have absolutely nothing of the kind here. Ed Brayton asked Ellis Washington a question for the apparent purposes of evading a debate with him. Calling my non-response to a question asked of Ellis Washington “a rhetorical fallacy” isn’t just ridiculous, it doesn’t even make sense. First, asking such a question is not an appropriate response to a debate challenge; one does not engage in the debate prior to it actually taking place. Second, asking a question in lieu of a clear yes-or-no response strongly suggests that the individual asking the question does not wish to engage in the debate. Third, it’s a ridiculous and logically fallacious question because the absence of an alternative hypothesis does not, in itself, testify to the accuracy of the current hypothesis. For example, Keynesian general theory has been shown to be false on both logical and empirical grounds and it would still be false on those grounds even in the absence of Neo-Classical, Austrian, or Post-Keynesian Minskyan models.

Of course, one can’t expect much in the way of logic from either biologists or journalists who are said to possess “an in-depth understanding” of “the evidence for evolution”. So, what does Brayton himself have to say?

“Someone went and posted a link to my response to Ellis Washington and my question about endogenous retroviruses in a comment on Vox Day’s blog. Vox did manage to stop combing his mohawk and counting his world class IQ long enough to make a couple of nasty and substanceless comments about me, as did several of his readers. Guess what none of them attempted to do? Explain the patterns found in retroviruses without common descent. I bet Ellis won’t either. What he will do, as I predicted earlier, is try to change the subject from evolution and common descent to atheism. What else can he do?”

Nasty and substanceless comments? Let’s see, what did I say:

1. Brayton doesn’t want to debate Washington. That’s neither nasty nor substanceless. Notice that in neither of his two posts has he answered the obvious question of whether he wants to or not.

2. Brayton wants to avoid debating Washington without looking like he is ducking Washington. That’s neither nasty nor substanceless, that’s exactly what it looks like. And if this is incorrect, Brayton can make it clear that he will debate Washington and will ask Washington the question during their debate.

3. Brayton is a coward. Nasty, perhaps. Not substanceless. Possibly true. That’s exactly what it looks like now to me and pretty much everyone else on both sides of the issue. Michael Heath’s assertion that “Ed has a debating background” says absolutely nothing about whether he wants to debate Washington or not. Now, I know nothing about Ellis Washington and am perfectly open to the possibility that Brayton would destroy him. But, considering Brayton’s past demonstration of illogical infelicities, it is by no means a given.

4. Brayton isn’t very bright. That’s neither nasty nor substanceless, it’s just an observation. He’s a journalist, which is a field well-known for being filled with poorly educated bubbleheads, and his blog shows little in the way of evidence for intelligence much higher than the average literate individual. Furthermore, the fact that he thinks Washington has no options other than turning the discussion from evolution and common descent to atheism shows that his “in-depth understanding of evolution” is nothing of the kind. Brayton appears to be engaging in psychological projection here, for as the past discussions of evolution on this blog will testify, it is usually atheist supporters of evolution who prefer to turn the subject to religion whenever direct questions addressing the various flaws in the theory of evolution by natural selection and common descent are asked.

Anyhow, it’s quite easy to establish if I am correct in my suspicions about Ed Brayton by asking him one simple yes-or-no question. Mr. Brayton, do you want to debate Ellis Washington?

UPDATE: Further evidence supporting my hypothesis that Brayton isn’t that bright: “I made a simple factual claim: there is no coherent, reasonable explanation for the patterns found in endogenous retroviruses other than comment descent (i.e. the theory of evolution). If that’s wrong, show why it’s wrong; if you can’t, then all this talk of arrogance, snobbery and “Christophobia” is irrelevant.”

Brayton clearly doesn’t understand that it does not matter if his “simple factual claim” is wrong or not. What matters is that the truth or falsehood of that “simple factual claim” says nothing about the truth or falsehood of the theory of evolution by natural selection, which happens to be the subject that Washington raised with him. The proposition that there is only one coherent, reasonable explanation for something is not tantamount to the proposition that the coherent, reasonable explanation is actually correct.



A crack in a wall of blind faith

It’s very difficult to read this touching atheist declaration of faith in his idol without laughing:

Of course, it is a possibility that Dawkins knows this and is lying to us all. You never know. But my personal opinion is that he isn’t. Richard may be saying awful things about us that aren’t true, but that doesn’t stop me from being on his side. I may be wrong (I sincerely hope not), but I personally believe that Richard isn’t aware of all this and that his team have successfully kept him in the dark as to what really happened…. He has been as much of an inspiration in my life as the community we helped create, and he still is. I support his cause, and everything he helps us do by promoting critical thinking and attacking the idea of ignorance being taught as a virtue.

This is quite funny. First, the idea of RichardDawkins.net as a place of genteel, high-flown reasoned debate is absurd on its face. As a number of reasonable atheists and agnostics eventually discovered to their chagrin, it was little more than a place for petty little people who are insufficiently intelligent or knowledgeable to engage in debate to hide without having their idols and ideas confronted. Longtime readers here will recall the pathetic response to the publication of TIA, in which the recommended response was to hunker down and hope not too many people noticed that Dawkins’s specious arguments such as the Ultimate 747 had been obliterated.

Futhermore, the idea of Richard Dawkins as an opponent of ignorance borders on the oxymoronic. With the exception of Christopher Hitchens, the man is one of the most ignorant public ideologues still active today. I’ve seen contestants on Jay Leno’s old Jaywalking interviews with better grasps of history. Clearly Reality is My Religion is about to have a religious experience, because reality is about to slap him in the face with the discovery that some people are not assholes because they are atheists, they are atheists because they are assholes.


Mailvox: Let’s describe a certain female

A few of you asked me why I came down so hard on Dana Loesch aka Mamalogues after her moronic blathering about how she’s all for small government and Ron Paul so long as it doesn’t get in the way of invading and occupying every country that might conceivably harbor a terrorist somewhere. Here’s a reminder of how remarkably clueless she was even before she jumped on the hapless Tea Party bandwagon and threw over mommyblogging* for life on the road as an Instapundit groupie:

The ripples of this extended all the way over to World Net Daily, whose columnist by the pseudonym of Vox Day (seriously, I think there were like 20 of those pseudonyms back in my junior high AOL chatroom days) – excuse me – Christian columnist Vox Day (real name Theodore Beale; he’s a rich kid and his dad was on the board at WND, which undoubtedly helped Beale to get some ink) decided to go on a rant against women with emphasis on mothers who blog and basically called us all stupid. I realize that intelligence is probably very important to a man who works “I’m in Mensa” in every biographical footnote and pick-up lines, all the while juxtaposing it next to a standard Myspace headshot replete with a hairstyle and goatee sported by every teenage male member of my Ozark family…. I would go so far as to say Day is acting like a “manazi.

It’s hard to know where to begin cataloging the dumb bitch’s errors… I suppose the fact that I’ve never had a goatee would probably be a reasonable one. I had no idea who the blithering little idiot was until she took exception to my pointing out that one of her fellow mommybloggers was a vacuous cow. (Stops and consults blog archives.) Excuse me, I stand corrected. A narcissistic, brainless, lactating cow. Now she’s followed Michelle Malkin’s lead in parlaying her attractive-for-a-thirty-something looks into a minor degree of Internet notoriety, but she clearly hasn’t gotten any smarter. And, of course, she’s a confirmed liar as well.

So it is more than a little amusing to see wannabee political analysts like her rambling on and on about the interfactional horse races and engaging in pointless Tea Party posturing while the very ground beneath the vast edifice that sustains their superficial activities continues to crumble. It’s not unlike watching partisans of the Greens and Blues argue about who has the better charioteer as a giant Persian army storms the undefended walls. Also, in my experience, I’ve noticed that the only people who give a damn about my Mensa membership are those who are almost, but not quite, qualified to join.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m not interested in US politics per se. They’re irrelevant, as Scott Brown’s support of Obama’s $15 billion jobs bill shows. Huge victory there, Tea Partiers! Who could have ever seen that one coming? And I’m even less interested in the commentator-as-career game. I don’t care who ends up on Fox or MSNBC since I don’t watch it and no amount of television appearances or radio cameos will make anything one says or writes any more intelligent. Not only does the accuracy of one’s analysis have no positive correlation to the size of one’s audience, but recent media history strongly suggests that the relationship between accuracy and audience size is a negative one. Most people are idiots, after all, and Ms Loesch is clearly a woman of the people.

Always outnumbered, never outgunned.

*The woman may actually still be mommyblogging for all I know. I don’t read her and never have.


Avoiding the obvious conclusion

Calculated Risk considers his indicators:

Historically the best leading indicator for the economy (and employment) has been housing. I’ve been writing about this for years. For a great summary paper, see Professor Leamer’s presentation from the 2007 Jackson Hole Symposium: Housing and the Business Cycle

For housing as a leading indicator, I use Residential Investment (quarterly from the BEA’s GDP report), and monthly data on Housing Starts and New Home sales from the Census Bureau, and builder confidence from the NAHB.

1. “Total starts had rebounded to 590 thousand in June, and have moved mostly sideways for eight months.”

2. “The record low was 8 set in January 2009. This is still very low – and this is what I’ve expected – a long period of builder depression. The HMI has been in the 15 to 19 range since May 2009.”

3. “New Home Sales in January were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 309 thousand. This is a record low and a sharp decrease from the 348 thousand rate in December.”

I don’t think the correct conclusion is to say that “any growth will be sluggish and choppy”, but rather “this supports the debt-deflation data showing economic contraction and very clearly shows that there is no recovery no matter what the GDP numbers say”.