Ice, Swine, and Sun

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.
Written by Paul Murphy, Contributor

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.

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