Saturday, December 02, 2017

On the Evidence for Naturally Occurring Global Temperature Cycles

Over the past four years, I have gone from protesting human-caused global warming at the “Forward on Climate” Rally in Washington, D.C. to my current state of seriously doubting that humans play more than a marginal role in the Earth’s climate.

I have only chosen to write about this my views now because I have found multiple confirmations of climate predictions made by AGW skeptic David Dilley and discovery of the cycles of the Primary Forcing Mechanism that drive climate change globally.  There are two specific predictions in the last year that I find quite impressive.

  1. Dilley’s prediction in February, going against the mainstream academic researchers, that 2017’s hurricane season will be especially harsh.
    The newspaper where Dilley lives wrote the following about his system:
    “Dilley developed a computer model concept, which he touts as a one-of-a-kind long-range forecasting tool. It relies on weather cycles. The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration uses several short-term weather cycle-type oscillation models — as well as La Nina or El Nino influences — to forecast six months to a year into the future. NOAA does not use weather cycle data to predict hurricanes four years out.” -

  1. And then quite recently, I came across a blog post Dilley wrote in 2008, stating “about the year 2017 there will be another warming.” Again, this was not predicted by mainstream research organizations, which thought “the tapering off of an El Niño period... would hold down global heat levels.”

Given Dilley’s record of success in predicting weather events, I am somewhat surprised his work, freely available on his website since 2007, has not received mainstream attention.

Before discovering Dilley’s work, there are three main sources that progressively strengthened my skepticism regarding human caused climate change.

The first time I began to take climate skepticism seriously was in reading The Scientist as Rebel, a book by distinguished Princeton physicist Freeman Dyson. Dyson, who is quite liberal on most issues, claims there is no firm scientific evidence that increased carbon levels in the upper atmosphere and oceans will cause the climate crises that many other scientists forecast.

Dyson points out that the dire predictions about global warming are based on largely unproven computer simulations. Scientific truth is defined by proven experiment. I see an analogy here between the housing-market computer models used by bankers before the 2007 crash, and agree with Dyson that the scientific community needs to be wary about accepting long-term predictions of recently-developed computer models as equivalent to the results of orthodox laboratory experiments.

I find it too much to believe a scientist with as distinguished a career as Dyson would sacrificed his legacy for a corporate bribe, no matter how much he was offered. This significantly increased my openness to future arguments on the issue.

Despite Stefan Molyneux's Alt-Lite apologetics for the Alt-right, I’m including his video detailing his own experience writing code for computer climate models. Molyneux details the failure to hold climate computer models to any sort of falsifiable standard, and the resulting politicization of the climate research field. At the time, Molyneux had yet to stray into far-right apologetics, and his conviction on the issue was quite influential for me.

Soon after hearing Molyneux’s take, I found the work of Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore, who has been perhaps the most powerful and ruthless critic of climate alarmists, testifying before Congress, and later partnering with the conservative propaganda outlet Prager University [not a university] to make this useful overview, on the problems surrounding the idea of human caused climate change.

Discovering David Dilley’s work was the the real turning point for me. Only Dilley provides a scientific alternative to the mainstream, and the more I’ve thought about his proposals, freely available here, the more convinced I’ve become. At the risk of losing credibility for a hometown bias, I will also link to UA-Huntsville professor Roy Spencer’s website, as the discrepancy between surface temperature readings and Satellite temperature readings is an issue climate science should address.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Is it better to be bad than unlucky?

The phrase “better to be lucky than good” implies a logical contradiction, because how can something be better than goodness? The fact that we take the phrase as syllogistic truth today is a testament to the divided (pathological?) nature of today’s cultural consciousness.

It’s only in the past 70 years--since the development of modern warfare--that humanity has come to accept that the very core of our identities--our careers, how long we will live, whether or not we become rich, whether or not we live a long life--may be determined by random occurrences. Unlike many centuries-old sayings and common phrases, the phrase “better to be lucky than good” is only 75 years old. Before then, luck was a play thing--a part of children’s games and nothing more. They did not separate events from consciousness like the modern philosophy of “randomness” does.

Though I fully accept the validity of theoretical physics notion of quantum indeterminacy--that "randomness" is built into the fabric of things--I think it's dangerous for us to extend this to human experience. Randomness is fine for analyzing past events or predicting future ones, but the present moment is the domain of consciousness.

The word “random” comes from the Old English word “rinnan” which describes how river water runs and flows. Over the course of the last 800 years, the word has come to mean the opposite of the total connectedness of its original meaning “to flow”.

The flow of human consciousness excludes that possibility of randomness. The act of asserting consciousness creates a feedback loop that extends and projects more consciousness. To attribute the events of the present to “randomness” is to cut off that feedback loop from its power source.

Consciousness is nothing more, nothing less than the entirety of civil society taken as a whole. Consciousness is empathy for our fellow beings. Consciousness is the anticipation that the future holds unpredictable joys. Seeing the world through the lens of randomness excludes these emotions.

The present moment is not a simulation (despite what Elon Musk thinks!) What happens in this present moment is all that we have got. Computers have catapulted the idea of randomness to the front of our cultural consciousness. But right here, right now, there is no reset button. To call what happens in the present moment “random” is to turn off consciousness.

To confuse the randomness of computer programs and simulations with an essential part of reality is to turn away from consciousness. We need to spend more time facing the other direction.

Friday, July 14, 2017

On the Social Construction of Race and Gender

On the left today, we often hear about how race and gender are “social constructs”.  But what does this mean, and why do we on the left believe it is important?

There is a lot of confusion, even among academics, about what this means.

Experience can be categorized into the physical, the biological, and the mental. To say something is a “social construct” is simply to say that it exists on the mental level. (Marx referred to these levels as the “base and super-structure”).

Levels of existence
How do humans experience them?
The fact of our physical existence
How our organs, bones, and muscles works
Experience, thoughts, memories, emotions
What else has this existence?
Rocks, non-living molecules, water, fire, air
plants, amoeba
Social animals

Many academics argue against the primacy of social constructs in determining human behavior, claiming that “behaviour is a complex outcome of both biological and cultural influences.” (Wikpedia) This criticism is the same as arguing that “the laws of geometry are essential to understanding genetics.” Anyone who can comprehend a Punnett Square can tell you, “no, they are not!”  

Academia treats geometry and genetics as completely separate disciplines in separate departments, and yet some academics refuse to acknowledge that sociology and biology share just as big a gap.

Human social behaviors are best understood as socially constructed.

Claiming that genes determine behavior (the “resilience gene” or the “warrior gene”) is not very useful, because the process of how social behaviors is better analyzed from the social level.  Genetics is useful for analyzing biological features, such as handedness or eye-color. It is not useful to say genetics causes social behaviors, any more than it is to claim the laws of geometry “cause” biological evolution, or that Annie Oakley “caused” WWI (by not killing Kaiser Wilhelm decades before the war when he asked her to shoot the ash off of his cigar.) There is simply too large a gap between genetics and society for this type of analysis to be useful.

I like this blogger’s description of the social construction of gender:
“Gender is a construct of identity and language, as the ability to think and express a gender identity is essential to claiming one (rather than having one thrust upon you, as many do upon seeing a baby’s genitals). It’s not until children become verbal that they begin to process and sort out what they understand gender to be, as they try to map language to the world they see. Since our society so strongly prefers a binary understanding of gender that maps onto genitals, it simplifies things and collapses gender and sex into one thing.”
Capitalism is quite good at taking social constructs and manipulating them for its purposes. For example, capitalism relegated to women the unwaged work of social reproduction--socializing and preparing the next generation of workers.

Capitalism also, terribly, led white slave owners traders in the mid to late 17th century to create new legal categories of race in order to keep workers divided, and, later, to provide a moral justification for the funding of further imperialism through the rapid accumulation of capital on the backs of slave labor.

Race is an arbitrary legal categorization based on a superficial biological marker (skin color), which does not correspond closely to the genetic similarity of different individuals (i.e. a Chinese person will often have greater genetic similarity to an African than to many of the other Chinese from his or her hometown!).  

The following is some thoughts on religion, and my belief about its role in how social constructs were first formed.

The purpose of religion is to transform the biological into the mental. “Religion” comes from the Latin “religare” meaning “to bind.” As ominous as this sounds, I believe that religion is an innate human impulse, the whole point of which is to remember good experiences--to “bind” the memory of the experience to the mind through the creation of new descriptive language. Religion, thus, brought humans into a new type of existence--mental existence.

Originally, gender, I believe, is an example of this religious impulse to bring mental life into the biological experience of being human.

Today, though, through the process of cisgender normalization, gender sadly has come to play an opposite role. Rigid, bourgeois-prescribed gender norms take mental life out of our experiences. Free thinking is shut down by the ritualized shaming and assaulting of non-cisgender-conforming people.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Private Meditation as a Revolutionary Act

For Nietzsche, beauty is NOT primarily transcendent. Beauty is the difficult marriage of the transcendent with the immanent.

Unfortunately, our society has not heeded his advice. We have only accelerated the patriarchal addiction to transcendence, which, due to market competition for funding, has spread to every field. The easiest, and therefore best economic strategy, to receive funding is to dazzle the customer/donor/viewer.

Private meditation is dangerous to the whole idea.

The first commandment of American economic life is 'thou shalt appear constantly busy.' Even when there is nothing to do, we are strongly pressured to maintain an appearance of activity to others, or risk being labelled as "no fun" or depressed. To disrupt the appearance of activity is to call into question the premise on which our entire economic structure is based: our insatiable addiction to be dazzled by new products and consumer experiences. To say “no” to transcendence in this regard, even for a moment to desire balance instead, is outright rebellion.

Industry brings Meditation into relatively public group settings so that it, too, becomes a choice for consumption, becomes yet another stage where our addiction to transcendence can repeat its performance.

Rather than seeing our societal addiction as needing more rules, more techniques so that it can be controlled, imagine addiction as a frustrated passion frantically seeking a new mode of expression. That gives me hope.

This post is a slightly altered combination of a couple posts 2 years ago.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Slavoj Žižek on Why He Calls Himself a Communist

In some sense, I still consider myself a communist . Why?

The conflict, which is presented to us by the media and so on, as the main conflictbetween tolerant democratic openness and fundamentalismthis conflict, with which we are bombarded, is in some sense a false conflict. Something is missing in the equation. I think that both poles, here caught into each other, are part of the same self-propelling movement. What is missing is the left. And I here I follow Walter Benjamin who said that (accepting the designation of fundamentalism as fascism) that every fascism is a sign of a failed revolution. It’s easy to mock—"Ho, ho, ho. The left is over; it died"Yes. That’s why we have what we have today.

Second thing, the next question. Maybe liberal capitalism works. I’m the first to admit that, let’s be frank… There was no society in entire human history where such a large number of people lived such relatively comfortable, safe, and free lives as they did in Western Europe in the last fifty, sixty years. But I see dark spots, dangers on the horizon. And now I come to the crucial question—to put it in these bombastic, old Marxist terms. Are there antagonisms visible, which we will not be able to solve, with the means of global capitalism as we have it today? I think there are.

(A) Ecology. I know the market works wonders and so on, but I claim... the risks are too high. (B) Biogenetics. Even Fukuyama, as we know, he changed his position. He admits now that the biogenetic prospect ruins his notion of the end of history. (C) Then we have the problem of intellectual property. I claim intellectual property is a notion which, in the long term, will not be able to include it into private property. There is something in intellectual property which is, as it were, in its nature communist. It resists private property.

And (D) the last point, new walls everywhere, new forms of apartheid, and so on and so on. It is as if ironically the truth of globalization is not just that Berlin Wall fell. Berlin Wall fell, but now we have new walls all around. And again, I don’t have any naïveté here, I am not saying oh, there will be a new Leninist Party. No, that story is definitely over, I agree with you. Why communism? Because (a), all these problems that I indicated, ecology, intellectual property, and so on, are problems of commons, of something which is the shared substance of our life. And some—in ecology, it’s clear, some kind of new form of collective activity, but I totally agree with you, nothing to do with Communist Party, state, or whatever, that story’s over.

We’ll have to be inventive.

If not, if the system as it is will go on and on and on, then I think something will be going on which I fear very much. What in some of my books I called a “soft revolution.” We are not even aware of how, slowly, things are already regressing. At the level of ethical standards, even. For example, do you agree with this? When friends tell me, “Why such a fuss about Guantanamo, torturing, but isn’t it clear that in China they torture infinitely more?” I say, “Absolutely,” I am not a hypocrite here. But what matters to me is surface appearances. What worries me is that twenty, thirty years ago, if somebody were to advocate publicly torture, he or she would have been dismissed as an idiot. Like you don’t even have to argue. It would have been the same as to argue about rape. I would be very worried if I we re to live in a society where one would have to argue all the time that one shouldn’t rape women, how should I put it, no? 

And it’s not only the fact that we talk about torture in this way and numerous other facts, point toward something which I find a little bit worrisome... The problem is how “tolerance” overlaps with new forms of oppression, paradoxically, with new forms of censorships and so on and so on. So I find that, although apparently we don’t live in dynamic times in the sense of big struggles, sooner or later we will have somehow to confront the problem, which was at the same time the basic problem of communism and the problem basically also of ’68. Let’s not forget: ’68 was also a radical questioning of the existing global system.