Quick Roundup 486

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

In years past, I have usually been on the road to visit relatives on Thanksgiving, but my wife, a medical resident, is on call. So this year, we're in town visiting with another couple we know instead. But I did write today's post yesterday afternoon so I can do some cooking and pick up a car for the day.

In any event, let me take the occasion to thank you for making my blog a part of your rounds on the web.

An Invented People? An Irrelevant Premise.

The NewYork Times notes that quite a few people are up in arms about a new book's contention that there really is no such thing as the Jewish people.

Professor Sand, a scholar of modern France, not Jewish history, candidly states his aim is to undercut the Jews' claims to the land of Israel by demonstrating that they do not constitute "a people," with a shared racial or biological past. The book has been extravagantly denounced and praised, often on the basis of whether or not the reader agrees with his politics.
It's too bad that many Israelis rely on the notion of an ancestral homeland to justify their nation's existence. Professor Sand's charge would be easier for everyone to see as the farce that it is were more Israelis on the same page as Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute:
Only Israel has a moral right to establish a government in that area - on the grounds, not of some ethnic or religious heritage, but of a secular, rational principle. Only a state based on political and economic freedom has moral legitimacy. Contrary to what the Palestinians are seeking, there can be no "right" to establish a dictatorship.
Sand's insult is a peculiar one: It can sting only insofar as one accepts its underlying collectivism as legitimate.

Blog Carnivals

If I recall correctly, Rational Jenn is hosting this week's Objectivist Roundup and Martin Lindeskog is hosting his first "Good Thing in Life" carnival today.

Rapid Repair

My brother, who restores old Volkswagens as a hobby, forwarded me the link to the below YouTube video.

I thought this remark quite apt: "Yikes... tell ya what, I'll take the two minutes and do it with the motor OFF."


As I always say, "Real scientists don't have pet theories." This sounds like it needs investigating. There's more at the Wall Street Journal, too.

-- CAV

This post was composed in advance and scheduled for publication at 5:00 A.M. on November 26, 2009.


: Fixed an incorrect link (HT: Paul Hsieh).


Darren said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Gus. I'm thankful for your blog!

Gus Van Horn said...

Thanks, Darren!

Steve D said...


Happy Thanksgiving. You have a great blog, which covers a really broad spectrum of topics and does so well. It’s amazing how you can make so many quality posts and still find time for a lot of comments (and I assume a real life as well).

Your ClimateGate links were interesting. There is a lot to comment about here but for now I just say that I find using the term ‘gate’ for every and all scandals a bit predictable and old. (I am aware it is not your term)


Gus Van Horn said...

Thanks, Steve.

Yeah. -Gate is predictable and unoriginal, but I want this story to grow legs, assuming it is a big as it looks, so why slow things down with my own name for it?

Steve D said...

I am not actually sure I want the story to grow legs. I find this sort of dishonesty rather sad, especially when it involves people who call themselves scientists. I would much rather they had been honest but mistaken. However, it is important to know the truth.

In any event the main lesson is that we should always treat data or evidence with caution. Even if it is honestly obtained it doesn't mean it is high quality, correct or is actually applied correctly to the conclusion.

Gus Van Horn said...

"[I]t is important to know the truth."

That's all I mean. I want to know, one way or the other, whether there has been a massive fabrication of data.

Sadly, if there is, you can bet your bottom dollar that this will invite some new form of inappropriate government oversight over the scientific process.

Steve D said...

“invite some new form of inappropriate government oversight”

Further politicizing what is already far too political.

Climate theory is an extremely complex field; add that to the various political agendas involved and you have a mess - a great place for charlatans to make their mark.

“massive fabrication of data”

We could end up with an ironic twist. Fake data which has been assumed real and then misinterpreted!

Gus Van Horn said...

That reminds me...

I've been looking at the science behind global warming a bit lately and have been dismayed to see that many so-called skeptics of AGW misrepresent the science, too. A possible motive is heading off the massive expansion of the state that the AGW people want, but the end result (aside from that being the wrong way to oppose a political agenda) is that now, both sides look bad.

Steve D said...

I agree. It is a complete mess from both sides!

However, misinterpreting the data or even misrepresenting the science can be identified by looking at the data carefully and integrating it with general knowledge. If the raw data for whatever reason is incorrect it becomes essentially impossible to figure this out.

I’ve always been puzzled as to why the weather station data (surface temperatures are increasing) and satellite data (atmospheric temperatures are stable) are at odds with each other - if the weather station data is fake it would certainly explain this.

Gus Van Horn said...

True, and if the data really have been misrepresented, the AGW people will have suffered an irrevocable blow. But still, just imagine how much better off we'd be if non-AGW people were all squeaky-clean.