Ice, Swine, and Sun

Ice, Swine, and Sun

Summary: Uninformed mob response: the illiterate shouting down of rational decision making, is becoming an every day factor in any kind of management - and that's both very sad and utterly dispicable.

SHARE:

The last third of BIT's introduction to the Unix and Open Source Culture ran on Friday, February 27th - and drew one comment, a click-by sneering unrelated to the thing's content:

The bottom line is ...

Sun's SPARC equipment is sh*t @ the price and no none is buying!

Posted by: junknstuff@... Posted on: 02/27/09 (Edited: 02/27/2009 @ 12:12)

On that same day the wattsupwiththat blog published something under the heading: George Will's battle with hotheaded ice alarmists that included this bit:

The Arctic sea ice trend is often used as a tool to hammer public opinion, often recklessly and without any merit to the claims. The most egregious of these claims was the April of 2008 pronouncement by National Snow and Ice Data Center scientist Dr. Mark Serreze of an ice free north pole in 2008. It got very wide press. It also never came true.

To my knowledge, no retractions were printed by news outlets that carried his sensationally erroneous claim.

A few months later in August, when it was clear his first prediction would not come true, and apparently having learned nothing from his first incident (except maybe that the mainstream press is amazingly gullible when it comes to science) Serreze made another outlandish statement of "Arctic ice is in its death spiral" and "The Arctic could be free of summer ice by 2030". In my opinion, Serreze uttered perhaps the most irresponsible news statements about climate second only to Jim Hansen's "death trains" fiasco. I hope somebody at NSIDC will have the good sense to reel in their loose cannon for the coming year.

Not to be outdone, in December Al Gore also got on the ice free bandwagon with his own zinger saying on video that the "entire north polar ice cap will be gone within 5 years". There's a countdown watch on that one.

So it was with a bit of surprise that we witnessed the wailing and gnashing of teeth from a number of bloggers and news outlets when in his February 15th column, George Will, citing a Daily Tech column by Mike Asher, repeated a comparison of 1979 sea ice levels to present day. He wrote:

As global levels of sea ice declined last year, many experts said this was evidence of man-made global warming. Since September, however, the increase in sea ice has been the fastest change, either up or down, since 1979, when satellite record-keeping began. According to the University of Illinois's Arctic Climate Research Center, global sea ice levels now equal those of 1979.

The outrage was immediate and widespread. Media Matters: George Will spreads falsehoods Discover Magazine: George Will: Liberated From the Burden of Fact-Checking Climate Progress: Is George Will the most ignorant national columnist? One Blue Marble Blog: Double Dumb Ass Award: George Will George Monbiot in the Guardian: George Will's climate howlers and Huffington Post: Will-fully wrong

They rushed to stamp out the threat with an "anything goes" publishing mentality. There was lots of piling on by secondary bloggers and pundits.

Junknstuff is wrong, so's Al Gore; but both illustrate a pervasive culture of purposeful ignorance that rewards its members with mutual emotional support - and tries to shout down rational decision makers who step out of line.

I don't know whether it's more sad or more dispicable, but either way mob response by scientific and business illiterates is a factor you have to take into account when making any significant decision: including the decision to abandon the stupidity of Wintel for rational, open source, solutions on Unix.

Topics: Oracle, Browser, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

32 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Rudy you can't polish a turd!

    You bang on about how Sun is the only tech company that has any solutions that work. Your blog description reads "A free-ranging daily blog on issues related to Unix - including Linux, BSD, and Solaris". That is misleading..no it's a lie for the most part!

    You should really change this because you never do anything but put down AIX, HP-UX, Linux. All you do is big up Sun/SPARC. I suspect this is because you do not have the background to effectively give balanced perspectives on these UNIX's. It is certainly true for Linux. You just don't get open source.
    You are not a UNIX enthusiast just a pro Sun bigot!

    Now you have to grudgingly acknowledge Open Source since that will be the only thing that saves Solaris.
    the world of IT has changed much since Sun's heyday and you attempt to shoehorn reality into you fixed idea of what you still wish Sun was is pathetic.

    You should just call your blog "Solaris Corner" because that would have some dignity to it.
    You really should just blog about Sun/Solaris and make sure that your blog description reflects this.
    I could not really knock that.

    Ed Bott, Mary Jo, Larry Dignan, Perlow all blog like Pro's. What's wrong with you...? Not a Pro I guess.

    The bottom line is still the same and thanx for including Al Gore in the same blog as me. I am flattered.

    junknstuff@...
    • junknstuff a troll, perhaps?

      Methinks you protest too much. Perhaps you work for Microsoft?
      Aragorn_z
  • RE: Ice, Swine, and Sun

    I would have expected George Will, an erudite print journalist,
    would know that newspapers do not retract predictions. I
    believe newspapers only retract the mistakes they make in the
    reporting of facts, quotes, or descriptions of statements.

    A prediction that does not come true certainly shows that the
    basis of the prediction had something not right. While it could
    be true that a theory that global warming is occurring provided
    the incorrect element, here, it could also be bad numbers
    regarding polar ice or the modeling did not address the true
    complexity of the real world. It could also be that the
    researcher went for fame at the cost of science. If true, it
    wouldn't be the first or the last time.

    To be specific, global warming describes a set of observations.
    The theoretical aspects of the discussion are in what do the
    observations mean and what is causing the phenomenon. There
    is a theoretic question as to what, if observed trends maintain
    at current rates, what the future holds, and this question enters
    into the fields of politics, economics, and sociology.

    Newspapers, and now blogs, publish the sensation. Some quick
    meditation on the subject, with citations to fictional films
    "Citizen Kane," "Front Page," "Ace in the Hole," "The Man Who
    Shot Liberty Valance" and dramatized film "All the President's
    Men" will confirm my point. Selling papers and getting clicks is
    the name of the game.

    But, sir, the propagation of a bad prediction (even doubled
    down as this was) does not overthrow automatically the entirety
    of a scientific theory. I would expect, as one who argues the
    merits of enterprises choices based on metrics of cost, would
    understand how science and the scientific method work.

    A few months ago, you took an observation, some companies
    had converted from Linux to Windows and realized a cost
    savings, and addressed it vis a vis your theory that Unix
    (including Linux) was a better enterprise choice and your
    general prediction that companies will save money by leaving
    Windows and running Linux. Your explanation of the data
    point: it was a case of Windows people goofing up the Linux
    deployment. I hope you see my point.
    DannyO_0x98
    • Yes; I do see your point

      In science, however, theories are tested against predictions derived from them. If the predictions fail, the theories are discarded.

      But, as I'm sure you know, this blog is about the mobish over reaction by the uninformed, not the nature of the misinformation.

      murph_z
      • Polarization of Mobs

        There has been a lot of good science that has been corrupted by mob thinking. Evolution is one, social Darwinism was the corruption of the idea of evolution.

        Predictions that do not pan out may have failed due to other considerations. The prediction you mentioned about no sea ice last summer was not good science, the prediction that it may be gone by 2030 is better but may not be valid. This should not be thought of as invalidating the concept that world temperatures are changing.

        Informing us that we are uninformed is one thing, where is the information and how can it be distributed in a way that sticks to facts and not hype?

        sboverie
      • "theories are tested against predictions"

        "In science, however, theories are tested against predictions derived from them. If the predictions fail, the theories are discarded."

        While perhaps true, that doesn't mean that all the predictions _made_ can necessarily be legitimately derived from the theory. So a prediction that the global ice cap will be gone is perhaps a little far off the mark.

        A more valid prediction is that average global temperature increases from year to year. That would be implied from the term Global Warming.

        It may be totally inappropriate to make any prediction of a localized possible _consequence_ of GW. I have friends that laugh at global warming because we've had more severe winters than before.
        DevGuy_z
  • Regarding Will

    I read the blog a little differently. The reaction to Will's
    column--the kneejerk, over the top vilification of non-
    conformist views--has a close cousin in the I.T. world.
    You can see this regardless of whether you agree with him.
    It's more than just unthinking criticism, it's aggressive,
    vitriolic intolerance based on nothing. I (too frequently)
    use the quote "that Thundering Herd of Independent
    Thinkers," a sarcasticay summing up of this kind of group-
    think.

    If you substitute "Internet" for "journalism" you can hear it
    in the bitter sharpness of an Oscar Wilde comment, "By
    giving us the opinions of the uneducated, journalism keeps
    us in touch with the ignorance of the community."

    John

    jcawley
    • Thanks!

      Oscar Wilde said that? before the internet? Some day I'll have to read his stuff.
      murph_z
      • Re: Thanks

        No, thank you...for a good post.

        Oscar Wilde was vivisected by the press of the day for having been
        outed as a homosexual.

        He turned his literary skill against that his critics to the point where
        the wit he displayed outlasted the memory of his attackers.

        I don't necessarily espouse his views, but his talent was undeniable.

        Changing subjects, I saw your reply to a Jonathan Schwartz blog--part
        accusation, part plea, for a better sales organization in Sun (a view I
        share, btw). Did you ever get a reply?

        John
        jcawley
  • RE: Ice, Swine, and Sun

    murph,

    I usually like your blog posts...but please don't let your right-wing politics influence sheer logic. If I read you correctly, you are saying that the Arctic Ice-cap is not melting and Al Gore et al's efforts at creating awareness about mindless pollution (of all categories) is alarmist at best and dishonest at worst.

    I think that's where you part from logic. Global Warming is a reality, you don't have to be a decorated PhD to know that. Vested interest groups will try and subdue objective voices that try and make the masses aware of the problem with mindless materialism and gluttonous consumerism (our little economic hiccup is a direct result of that, so is Global Warming).

    That said, I think Sun's position as a Green Computing Pioneer actually helps offset both (provide economic advantages and help control global warming), if its technology gets appropriately adopted.

    A little disappointed in this post of yours, given that you usually display signs of wisdom.

    Unix_Magic
    • ummm

      I was drawing an analogy between what happens to those who question global warming and those who question wintel. Both draw mobs - and it's the mobs whose existence and reactions add a patina of threat to rational decision making.

      As to whether global warming is real.. it isn't and you owe it to yourself to find out about this. Let me suggest three steps:

      1 - check for global warming on other planets. Now, do you really believe it's a coincidence that mars venus pluto etc warm and cool with the earth? i.e. we don't know what causes climate change there, but we're causing it here?

      2 - check out CO2 causation. You'll find CO2 concentration trails rather than leads change in the past and that there's no basis for the greenhouse gas claims in the science.

      3 - check out the medieval warming period - and ask yourself: how fast did the polar bear evolve? (because it was much warmer for 200+ years then, and we have bears now..)

      The whole thing is/was a con.
      murph_z
      • hmmm

        Murph,

        Check out this article, which compiles and elucidates the problem of Global Warming, with necessarily cited references (I don't see you quoting any specific references -- why don't you share those with me so I can validate/invalidate the credibility of these thereof?) --

        http://medhajournal.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=562:a-primer-on-climate-change-and-global-warming-part-i&catid=96:articles&Itemid=292

        Also this one --

        http://medhajournal.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=581:primer-on-climate-change-and-global-warming-part-ii-impact&catid=96:articles&Itemid=292

        The author is one of those "mobsters" who spent a good part of her academic and professional career, studying the Global Climate.
        Unix_Magic
        • try wattsupwiththat

          Read the blog quoted - you'll find lots and lots of references etc.

          Remember it's quality, not quantity, that counts in science. Ask yourself,m can a million grant getters be wrong? does attributing idiocy to an idiot make it true?

          Do your own research. Use google, try to explain global warming on Mars while sustaining the human causation argument here. Try to find a rational explanation for why CO2 is bad - and think about that its absence means here.

          And when you're all done: ask yourself why doubting the climate idiocy makes me right wing - could it be that the climate claims are political in nature?

          And when the bulb clicks on for you, maybe you too can grasp the analogy between the wintel shouters and the climate shouters.

          murph_z
          • Ah! I See a compelling argument...

            Murph,

            Again you disappoint me. If I end up doing my own research, I'd have to dedicate time for some "serious" research. I lack both the time and resources to embark on such an effort (as is the case with most people out there, trying to make a living).

            So here's the other alternative -- Find reputable researchers who deal with this subject and rely on their testimony (that's why scientists are funded). You will find a majority of them suggesting that Global Warming is a reality and it is man-made in nature. Burying one's head in sand doesn't make the world go away -- it only makes one a really silly ostrich.
            ;)

            Unix_Magic
          • just for ****s and giggles...

            http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/fq/science.html#10

            [pre]
            Are human activities responsible for the warming climate?

            Careful measurements have confirmed that greenhouse gas emissions are increasing and that human activities (principally, the burning of fossil fuels and changes in land use) are the primary cause. Human activities have caused the atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane to be higher today than at any point during the last 650,000 years. Scientists agree it is very likely that most of the global average warming since the mid-20th century is due to human-induced increases in greenhouse gases, rather than to natural causes.[/pre]
            Unix_Magic
          • Google as a serious Science Tool

            Murph (or whatever your name is)
            So apparently by going to Google we can find the truth, and not have to read boring, properly peer-reviewed, referenced scientific papers.

            Of course we can! :-)
            Just type in "Elvis on Mars" in Google and on the first ten hits you will see clear confirmation and "evidence" (as far as you are obviously concerned) that the King does live, and is there, rather than expiring on the toilet quite some time ago.

            Get real people, as you said yourself, it is the quality of research, not quantity. Google definitely serves quantity before quality! get your self a better record and take your head out of the dirt and sniff the (warming) air. Climate is changing, and no matter how much you want to pretend that your unsustainable and predatory way of life is not only justifiable (yeah right!) but also not responsible for any impact is truly the massive lie here. Anything rather than give up the big cars (sorry, is that an SUV?), air-con, crass materialism eh?
            Chalfont
          • Mob Mentality?

            "Climate is changing, and no matter how much you want to pretend that your unsustainable and predatory way of life"

            Though I believe Murph is fully capable of defending himself, I thought I'd respond just to point out I believe you have helped prove Murph's point. I don't think he ever disagreed on climate change and it's ability to occur, he even refernced evidence of it on Mars. Where he questioned it was on the cause of the effect. Then you show typical mob mentality of fear and accusation by condemning him as a stereotypical scapegoat for your agenda.

            Your show of dishonor by stereotyping and condemning people lowers the quality of arguement.

            A warming or cooling cycle could have many different causes which I believe is what the scientific research is trying to figure out.

            So what if they do conclude that it is caused by humans, would you be willing to sacrifice for it? Really, what if the truth comes to be yes humans are the cause but not from fossil fuels(which are a pollutant I agree, there is a difference) but the fact that each human produces 250-2400 BTU's/hr depending on activity of the body. OK there's my hypothesis. And would your mob be willing to point it's fingers back upon itself? Sometimes I think the green movement would be willing to kill themselves to "save" the world.

            Anyways back to lurking mode I go...
            ~Obelix~
      • Not good public arguments.

        First, the press, the arbiter, will present alternative hypotheses to Global Warming mockingly and do such investigation as it can afford to do into the personal background of scientists endorsing the idea. The hope is to find some connection to an organization the press has previously branded a villain.

        Second, the fanaticism of advocates will result in work to find some facts which don't fit or counter arguments which can be asserted loudly. The press will declare the feeble attempt to dislodge the consensus ended. When the attacks are met slowly by those with lesser resources, the rebuttals and refutations will be ignored or treated as old news.

        Putting up a definite alternative is part of the scientific process, not the Global Warming campaign.

        Anton Philidor
      • While I agree with you...

        While I agree that greenhouse gassed caused GW is not a fact, the evidences you site are not sufficient to disprove it either.

        The one I find most troubling is the CO2 lag "evidence" I don't think Ice core information gives us the precision to establish much in the way of lag or lead time. That is, it really can't be proven if temperatures lead CO2 or CO2 leads temperature but there is a clear correlation and no real evidence that one leads of lags the other.
        See the following for objections to your line of arguement
        http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2006/02/co2-lags-not-leads.php


        DevGuy_z
    • Keeping up with the latest on Global Warming

      The stubborn insistence of the Earth on cooling for the past decade has led to what seems a growing consensus among Global Warming advocates that some oddity, perhaps a water flow in the Pacific beyond el nino, has masked the underlying warming.

      In some brief but unspecified period of time, the anomaly will end and warming begin or resume.

      This sort of short term prediction that an inconvenient, obvious fact will disappear meets the criteria for a promising attempt to fool the public in my discussion of rhetoric posted below.

      The press's relentless attempt to sell Global Warming and insults to the many climate scientists attempting a more balanced view allows those who want to believe to keep believing. We can all wait comfortably for a problem to appear and react appropriately, holding disruptions in abeyance.


      Anton Philidor