Why Is Climate Change Special?

Josh Marshall wonders why the science around climate change, which is not based to any greater extent on “theories” than any other branch of science, seems to so many people to be uniquely assailable.

“[V]ery few people doubt physicists or oncologists when it comes to their areas of specialty even though theories come and go in those fields as well. There’s little doubt, for instance, that physicists at the end of this century will know a lot of things today’s scientists got wrong or don’t know. And they’ll know how many things today’s physicists believe that are just wrong. Still, I’m pretty confident nuclear warheads will go off, even if, as far as I know, one’s never been tested on the tip of an ICBM. Perhaps more to the point, medical science today clearly has only a very limited understanding of cancer. But how many oncology skeptics do you know who choose to take a pass on chemo or radiation if they get sick?”

Seems to me that we could ask the same questions of the anti-vaccinationists, as well (although, to be fair, I seem to recall some overlap between some of them and the shark-cartilage-for-cancer-cure crowd.)

Update On Asian Monster Fish

Speaking of Asian carp (and I believe we were), my source in the Ninth Coast Guard District (which includes the Great Lakes) tells me that beating back the monstrous fish “has been our number-one priority since approximately September.”

The Coast Guard Commandant has not yet authorized his forces to employ this method of responding to the threat:

I wonder how often one of those lines ends up getting dragged into the prop?

The Copenhagen Conspiracy: What’s In It For The Scientists?

Today’s column at Went West considers individual scientists’ experience of the Great Anthropogenic Global Warming Conspiracy.

“[T]o accept that AGW is fake, you also have to believe that thousands of scientists around the world are playing along, juking their data and faking their experiments just to further the conspiracy.

There are several reasons why I have trouble believing this. Here’s the biggest one: the blood lust of scientists. If you’ve ever sat in on a lab meeting, you’ve seen the vigor and even glee with which scientists attack the slightest weakness in each others’ data and experimental designs. There is a lot of science-career hay to be made from finding problems in other peoples’ work, so an AGW conspiracy would require the willing collusion of whole departments, not just individuals working in isolation.”

Read the rest here.

Amanda Knox Guilty? Or Railroaded by Satan-Obsessed Prosecutor?

From my latest column at Went West:

“[The prosecution’s] conclusions simply seem a stretch, based on the facts presented at trial. Knox’s DNA was found on the handle of a knife she admitted using-to make dinner. A dab of genetic material on the tip was supposed to have been Kercher’s, but the Italian investigators’ handling of DNA evidence seems shockingly careless. Scan through this video for footage of them passing evidence from hand to hand; this certainly doesn’t seem like the best way to avoid contamination.”

Read the rest, why don’t you?

The Week’s Tweets (2009-12-05)

  • I will be very angry if you do not read my latest Went West column, about anger. http://bit.ly/7lqBW3 #
  • Does anyone in Missoula have office space I can use for free/some nominal fee? #
  • Under the muffs, at my desk. #
  • Do I need a lawyer to help me write a will? #
  • Research help needed: anyone know anything about the treatment of people in comas? #

Another Hit of Sweet Anger

My latest column is up over at Went West. Here’s an excerpt:

A couple of nights ago, I was listening to NPR’s coverage of the latest road-rage incident to grab national attention. In July, while driving on a narrow, curvy stretch of Mandeville Canyon Road in Los Angeles’s Brentwood neighborhood, Dr. Christopher Thomas Thompson exchanged angry words with two cyclists, then swerved in front of them and slammed on his brakes, grievously injuring both of them. …

As various commentators piled on to Thompson, however, I was surprised to find myself identifying with him.

Read the rest here.

Amanda Knox Guilty

So concludes the trial of Amanda Knox for the murder of her room-mate Meredith Kercher.

“A jury in Italy convicted American college student Amanda Knox of murdering her British roommate and sentenced her to 26 years in prison shortly after midnight Saturday.

Her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito was also convicted and sentenced to 25 years.”

Invading Asian Monster Fish

I was startled to hear on the radio just now that American inland waters are under attack from Asian carp, which can grow to four feet, weigh as much as 100 pounds, and consume nearly half their body weight each day. They’ve already invaded the Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio rivers, and they’re closing in on Lake Michigan.

“The most drastic action to date to try to stop Asian carp from getting into Lake Michigan was taken Wednesday, when authorities dumped 2,300 gallons of the fish-killing toxin Rotenone into a 6-mile stretch of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship canal. Authorities conducted the massive fish kill to ensure that no Asian carp were in the waterway and could sneak through while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shut down for maintenance an underwater electric barrier designed to turn back the fish.”

What’s at stake here, anyway?

“When startled by boat motors, Silver Asian carp can jump 10 feet into the air. With so many of them in the Illinois River, several boaters and Jet Skiers have been injured by the flying fish.”