May 19th, 2013 by Klaus Rohde
Inspite of recent announcements by the American president, nothing important has yet happened with regard to climate change. Large sections of the American public remain unconvinced that human activities are responsible. Why? Lack of scientific evidence certainly is not the reason. See here:
A quote from this article:
“The disinformation campaign can only survive for so long. We saw, as in the case of tobacco, there was a similar disinformation campaign decades ago to obscure the science and the scientific link between the use of tobacco products and lung cancer. But eventually the truth of what the science had to say became accepted. There are some positive signs that we are moving in that direction; the rest of the world is moving increasingly towards renewable energy …. We are lagging behind but we are slowly making progress ourselves.”
- Michael Mann, director of Penn State University’s Earth System Science Center
May 19th, 2013 by Klaus Rohde
According to a recent television report, Australia is the world leader in extinguishing languages. There are two reasons for this, the large number of native languages that invite to be extinguished, and the attitude of those who do the extinguishing.
However, Australia is not alone, France -for example- is doing its best to get rid of minority languages in its territory. The only reason why it is not a world leader is that the number of minority languages is rather small. See here: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2013/05/201351616123286864.html
April 28th, 2013 by Klaus Rohde
A study by two American economists (i.e., Harvard economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff), published about three years ago and widely cited, pretended to show that countries with very high rates of debt have considerably reduced economic growth. They “presented empirical evidence from 44 nations over a 200 year time span to demonstrate that countries with a public debt over 90 percent of GDP (the United States is at about 100 percent, Japan at 200 percent) have average growth rates one percent lower than other nations.” It has now been claimed that the data and analysis are severely flawed, “coding errors, selective exclusion of available data, and unconventional weighting of summary statistics lead to serious errors that inaccurately represent the relationship between public debt and GDP growth.” “Adjusting for these errors, the Amherst team contends that “the average real GDP growth rate for countries carrying a public debt-to-GDP ratio of over 90 percent is actually 2.2 percent, not -0.1 percent.” (cited from article linked below).
Misleading information by supposedly distinguished economists may have fatal consequences. For example, austerity measures in the European Union have lead to mass unemployment in several European states. In the U.S. , right wing politicians advocate austerity measures such as cutting down on social security and health benefits, with enormous consequences for large segments of the population.
Interestingly, the two Harvard economists cited above have links to Pete Peterson, a Wall Street billionaire who has been advocating “cuts to Social Security and Medicare for decades in order to prevent a debt crisis he warns will spike interest rates and collapse the economy.”
For full article see here:
April 3rd, 2013 by Klaus Rohde
The heading of a recent article in The Guardian:
“Climate change making extreme events worse in Australia – report
Country faces more frequent and more severe weather events if it fails to make deep and swift cuts to carbon emissions”
Full article here:
A recently published scientific report in Nature Geoscience has shown that forecasts about global warming have been remarkably accurate (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/mar/27/climate-change-model-global-warming?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487)
Interesting, in this context, that Tony Abbott, the leader of the opposition, according to the Sun Herald, has signaled that Professor Tim Flannery’s job as climate commissioner would go if the Coalition wins government. “It does sound like an unnecessary position given the gentlemen in question gives us the benefit of his views without needing taxpayer funding.” Also “Mr Abbott said if elected as prime minister on September 14 and given the opportunity to revoke the carbon tax a whole range of climate change bureaucracies would also be axed.”
Of course, Tony Abbott’s views about climate change are well kown (see here: http://blog.une.edu.au/klausrohde/2010/07/26/politics-climate-change-big-business-and-the-press-in-australia/).
See also my article here: http://krohde.wordpress.com/article/on-the-way-to-fascism-climate-change-xk923bc3gp4-138/
March 30th, 2013 by Klaus Rohde
A just published scientific article examines the mind of so-called climate change sceptics.
NASA Faked the Moon Landing—Therefore, (Climate) Science Is a Hoax
An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science
1. Stephan Lewandowsky1
2. Klaus Oberauer1,2
3. Gilles E. Gignac1
1. 1University of Western Australia
2. 2University of Zurich
1. Stephan Lewandowsky, School of Psychology, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, Western Australia 6009, Australia E-mail: email@example.com
Psychological Science March 26, 2013, 0956797612457686
Although nearly all domain experts agree that carbon dioxide emissions are altering the world’s climate, segments of the public remain unconvinced by the scientific evidence. Internet blogs have become a platform for denial of climate change, and bloggers have taken a prominent role in questioning climate science. We report a survey of climate-blog visitors to identify the variables underlying acceptance and rejection of climate science. Our findings parallel those of previous work and show that endorsement of free-market economics predicted rejection of climate science. Endorsement of free markets also predicted the rejection of other established scientific findings, such as the facts that HIV causes AIDS and that smoking causes lung cancer. We additionally show that, above and beyond endorsement of free markets, endorsement of a cluster of conspiracy theories (e.g., that the Federal Bureau of Investigation killed Martin Luther King, Jr.) predicted rejection of climate science as well as other scientific findings. Our results provide empirical support for previous suggestions that conspiratorial thinking contributes to the rejection of science. Acceptance of science, by contrast, was strongly associated with the perception of a consensus among scientists.”
(Cited from http://pss.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/03/25/0956797612457686.abstract
March 29th, 2013 by Klaus Rohde
Australian elections are approaching. Opinion polls supposedly forecasting the outcome are becoming more numerous. Are the predictions accurate and do the polls contribute to the outcome?
Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, a German political scientist, proposed the theory of “spiral of silence”, according to which an opinion becomes dominant because people “adjust” to the supposed majority opinion, being afraid of speaking out because of the fear of isolation, and other factors. “Mass media can create pluralistic ignorance by focusing on the spread of one opinion and muting the minority opinion, causing people to believe what they believe is what everyone else believes also”, and “in which predictions about public opinion become fact as mass media’s coverage of the majority opinion becomes the status quo, and the minority becomes less likely to speak out” (cit. from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiral_of_silence).
In Australia opinion polls are published every few weeks or sometimes more frequently, supposedly suggesting that Labour has practically already lost the coming elections due later in the year. To what degree do these polls actually contribute to the outcome? And to what degree are the polls meant to change the outcome?
February 24th, 2013 by Klaus Rohde
I have drawn attention to this book in an earlier post (see here:
Details of the book (contents, contributors, excerpts) can be found here: http://www.cambridge.org/gb/knowledge/isbn/item6964672/?site_locale=en_GB
The book has now been published (Cambridge University Press, February 2013) and the Vice-Chancellor and Head of the School of Environmental and Rural Sciences will launch it on March 11 from 1-2 p.m. in the C.J. Hawkins Homestead foyer – W47.
January 25th, 2013 by Klaus Rohde
There seems to be no scientific justification for homeopathy. How can medications that do not contain any or hardly any active molecules have a curative effect? If so, why do insurance companies which are not known for their benevolence and free-spending activities cover the costs of homeopathy in some countries?
Can the placebo-effect give an explanation? Is it possible that, if people strongly believe in something, they may feel relieved and the insurance companies have to pay less for a relatively cheap homeotherapeutic treatment than for a “proper” one? After all, even in generally accepted treatments based on well established, scientifically “approved” procedures a placebo effect may be at least partly involved.
See this article, which describes experiments to find the physiological basis for the placebo effect:
some excerpts here:
.”…….. researchers have found that placebo treatments—interventions with no active drug ingredients—can stimulate real physiological responses, from changes in heart rate and blood pressure to chemical activity in the brain, in cases involving pain, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and even some symptoms of Parkinson’s.”
“The study’s results shocked the investigators themselves: even patients who knew they were taking placebos described real improvement, reporting twice as much symptom relief as the no-treatment group. That’s a difference so significant, says Kaptchuk, it’s comparable to the improvement seen in trials for the best real IBS drugs.”
“This suggested that placebo treatments spurred chemical responses in the brain that are similar to those of active drugs, a theory borne out two decades later by brain-scan technology. “
January 15th, 2013 by Klaus Rohde
Chinese have had a long history of “eugenic” selection, by putting those in positions of influence who had passed rigorous state examinations. It seems that this policy has now been brought up to date by incorporating findings of modern science. How has the “West” responded?
See this very interesting article by an evolutionary psychologist. And see many other responses to the question of what one should worry about most.
January 12th, 2013 by Klaus Rohde
What is the truth behind the Cuban missile crisis? Western media almost unanimously reported that it was resolved by the courageous actions of John Kennedy, who repelled an “unprovoked” Soviet attempt to install nuclear-armed ballistic missiles right under the nose of the USA, in Cuba, thus averting a nuclear war.
The official story as spread by the US government:
” On October 16, 1962, John F. Kennedy and his advisers were stunned to learn that the Soviet Union was, without provocation, installing nuclear-armed medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles in Cuba. With these offensive weapons, which represented a new and existential threat to America, Moscow significantly raised the ante in the nuclear rivalry between the superpowers—a gambit that forced the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear Armageddon. On October 22, the president, with no other recourse, proclaimed in a televised address that his administration knew of the illegal missiles, and delivered an ultimatum insisting on their removal, announcing an American “quarantine” of Cuba to force compliance with his demands. While carefully avoiding provocative action and coolly calibrating each Soviet countermeasure, Kennedy and his lieutenants brooked no compromise; they held firm, despite Moscow’s efforts to link a resolution to extrinsic issues and despite predictable Soviet blustering about American aggression and violation of international law. In the tense 13‑day crisis, the Americans and Soviets went eyeball-to-eyeball. Thanks to the Kennedy administration’s placid resolve and prudent crisis management—thanks to what Kennedy’s special assistant Arthur Schlesinger Jr. characterized as the president’s “combination of toughness and restraint, of will, nerve, and wisdom, so brilliantly controlled, so matchlessly calibrated, that [it] dazzled the world”—the Soviet leadership blinked: Moscow dismantled the missiles, and a cataclysm was averted. ”
For the truth, as reported by Benjamin Schwarz based on research by the American historian Sheldon M. Stern and others, see here: