Prior discovery

DSC_3878 Timmy has been for a while my prime - and possibly only - example of a sane libertarian, climate-wise. In that he has frequently advanced economic arguments on the basis of accepting the IPCC WGI science. And, it has to be said, in the face of opposition from his commentariat, who are stupid, almost to a man. However, it has never been clear that he actually does believe it, and on various occasions he has been fairly Lomborgish: accept, nominally, but then downplay. Now, with This is the point at which we rise up and hang them all it finally becomes clear that he does believe the Daily Fail rather than science. This is over the latest Rose nonsense: data faked for the paper that insisted there was no pause and all that. Before we go on you want a few refs to the truth rather than the lies, so pick one or more of RC or RC or 'Whistleblower' says protocol was breached but no data fraud E&E news, or Boiling Bates down or the speed of entropy by Eli or Expose: David Rose does not understand baselines by ATTP or David Rose's alternative reality in the Daily Mail by VV.

This, in a sense, continues the theme begun in Scott Adams is a tosser: how do you find out where the truth lies? But I find there's one major omission from that, which is to recognise your own biases. Or, put another way, that no-one discovers facts story by story or paper by paper in some objective idealised-science way. Instead, people update their view of reality layer by layer; they update their priors, to use new and fashionable language; or, as Brian Gardiner used to tell us then-bright-eyed-young-folk, though we were relucatant to believe it being young, everyone has pre-placed filters to sieve reality before it gets too close.

And so, when someone reports to you something that they're read in the Fail, you learn nothing about what they report, but you do learn about their prior beliefs.


* Anthony Watts Does a Steve Bannon by QS
* the Giant Weasel of Sikkim by RS
* Wikipedia bans Daily Mail as 'unreliable' source - see also direct
* In his efforts to promote fake #climate news, Anthony Watts censors Nick Stokes - Sou
* How a culture clash at NOAA led to a flap over a high-profile warming pause study - Science
* Discussion: JC’s ‘role’ - alas, no surprise and no discovery; JC is now a shithead.
* Snopes
Breakdown of an anti-science hit piece in National Review
* Der Bates - more from Eli.


More like this

"How do you find out where the truth lies?"

Often it is easier to tell where the truth isn't.

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 08 Feb 2017 #permalink

Believing there were sane libertarians was your first mistake.

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 08 Feb 2017 #permalink

What Kevin O'Neal wrote in #4.

By David B. Benson (not verified) on 09 Feb 2017 #permalink

Apparently, focusing all his criticisms on Karl, claiming all his decisions were aimed at increasing warming and decreasing documentation...means that it isn't about Karl. According to Bates, that is...

And no, no, no, Bates also had no worries about the data, although Rose quotes him as claiming "they threw about perfectly good buoy data".

Since you mention Timmy, I was taken by his post about Michael Mann not getting it. The suggestion is that if renewables have fallen, then we've largely solved the problem and may now even have shifted to an RCP2.6 pathway. Even if Michael Mann doesn't get it, someone who thinks we've potentially shifted to RCP2.6, certainly doesn't.

My guess is that Timmy is amongst those who thinks that to follow a specific emission pathway, we simply need to get our emissions to the same level as that pathway by 2100, rather than needing to ensure that our total emissions don't exceed that for the pathway.

By ...and Then Th… (not verified) on 09 Feb 2017 #permalink

The world hasn't shifted to an RCP2.6 because the cost of replacements hasn't fallen low enough. We also have a problem because there's a bunch of Europeans and Yankees who think this can be solved shutting down nuclear fission power. To make matters even worse we got TV shows doing ITER propaganda, convincing people that in some undisclosed future they'll have cheap electricity from water.

The way I see it, the overall energy crisis will overwhelm any worries about climate change. On the positive side we may get to enjoy Delaware oranges.

By Fernando L. (not verified) on 09 Feb 2017 #permalink

The world hasn’t shifted to an RCP2.6 because the cost of replacements hasn’t fallen low enough.

Well, yes, that is probably the case, partly because we have yet to intitute a carbon tax. However, what I was getting at was that RCP2.6 would require emitting no more than about 750GtC. To date we've emitted about 600GtC and are emitting about 10GtC per year. Shifting to RCP2.6 would require emitting no more than about another 150GtC (about 15 years at current emissions) which would appear to be essentially impossible.

By ...and Then Th… (not verified) on 09 Feb 2017 #permalink

An important point people miss is that the scenario with the greatest renewable energy production at 2100 is RCP8.5.

I didn't actually know that. In a similar vein, though, is that many of the other emission pathways rely on CCS, which has yet to be shown to operate at scale.

By ...and Then Th… (not verified) on 09 Feb 2017 #permalink


It's shown on , original source is Van Vuuren et al. 2011.

To be clear, this only relates to the specific scenarios used to drive the four representative forcing pathways. There are presumably some RCP2.6 and RCP4.5-type scenarios with greater renewable energy production.

fwiw, I've stopped reading Tim W. It seems to me that something's changed in his blogging since the Brexit vote: he's no longer interested in seeming reasonable, he's just feeding his dim commentariat.

[I... haven't. The triumphalist stuff was distasteful but I kinda surf over it. But you know more economics than me so there's less to interest you. I found… interesting, for example. But then, I'm interested in the good that Trump might manage to do by accident -W]

By Paul Barden (not verified) on 09 Feb 2017 #permalink

" I’m interested in the good that Trump might manage to do by accident"

it would be remarkable if there was nothing

cue the joke about "motorways and train punctuality"

but there will undoubtedly be some benefits, - I suspect it might take some time to see them

The building of the motorways started earlier, but Adolf took credit. Where have we seen that lately?

By Victor Venema … (not verified) on 09 Feb 2017 #permalink

"sane libertarians"

I'm a libertarian. Ok, perhaps I should say a limited libertarian.
Or maybe recovered libertarian. Am I sane? Hard to say. Let me tell two tales.

The earliest societies we know about are hunter-gatherers. Everyone in such a society makes up their mind as to what to do. Join a larger group for a while, or go off a smaller group or with just your family group for a while. Advantages to both, hey, up to you. Very little "state". This society is probably ground into humans genetically, as this was the way our ancestors lived for millions of years. This is the way our genes are wired to have us think.

Key point. Nearly equal market power for everyone. HG society is nearly equal. Libertarian.

[You've just redefined L. The conventional defn is about laws, not equality -W]

Next hydraulic civilization. Put a place on this: Egypt. The Sahara is turning brown. More and more people are crowding near the river. A canal is dug to provide water for farming. New economics means new power structure. The guy running the canal has vastly more market power than the farmers. He can make their lives good with water. He can ruin them with no water. Vastly non-equal market power means libertarian ideals don't work. Hydraulic society isn't equal. The guy running the canal becomes the Pharaoh.

[Erm, wasn't it the other way round? The Pharaoh built the canal? -W]

The Pharaoh has so much economic power from owning the canal system his political power is almost an afterthought. How could such an economy be realistically run as libertarian? I don't see it, unless somehow the canal wasn't personal property. Rule of law? The Pharaoh's word is law. Property rights? As the Pharaoh allows, and only as the Pharaoh allows. Freedom of speech? Only if it doesn't offend the Pharaoh. Respect and obey, or get no water and starve.

[I'm very dubious that your economic history is correct. But I'm also doubtful that it is relevant. Egypt may have been a but the USA isn't and the West in general isn't -W]

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 09 Feb 2017 #permalink

Phil -

There seems to be a classic evolved group size for humans of around 100-150, which would correspond to a hunter-gatherer social circle. Even within that, you wouldn't have *that* much freedom. You can walk off - if you are an unattached adult male - but even then your survival chances are low. Otherwise membership of the group is essential for survival and reproduction.

Internal to such groups you would run on a libertarian paradise model of no formal laws, just going on reputation and barter. I suspect that this is why libertarianism has appeal. Unfortunately we don't live in such societies now; in any case, this 'paradise' in practice tends to be more like an organised crime gang. As long as you don't upset the Big Man and his associates, you are fine..

This model extends at high levels; you can have a boss-of-bosses and so on hierarchically; and the more productive the underlying economy is the more hierarchical levels can be supported. Eventually the diktats of the leaders of this lot become formalised into laws; later you get revolutionary concepts such as the leaders being bound by the same laws as everyone else, and balances put in place to stop laws being too oppressive.

By Andrew Dodds (not verified) on 10 Feb 2017 #permalink

Phil and Andrew Dodds -

There's also no (or very little) private property in our hunter-gatherer past.

Libertarianism is not really about 'liberty', whatever its deluded adherents think. It's about property, and the 'rights' of individuals to acquire as much of it as they can.

Some of them kind of acknowledge this, and wrestle with it, tying themselves in knots while doing so. (see here:

[I'm not sure that post is much use in general - the conflict between liberty and property is just bleedin' obvious - but the included "Libertarians are virtually defined by their commitment to both liberty and rights of private property" seems fair enough; which makes PH's redefinition of L as about equality still-baffling -W]

"You’ve just redefined L. The conventional defn is about laws, not equality -W"

From Wikipedia "Libertarians seek to maximize political freedom and autonomy, emphasizing the values of freedom of choice, voluntary association, self-ownership, and the rule of law." Agree?

[Yes, but none of that is anything to do with equality. Also, you're omitting "Some libertarians advocate laissez-faire capitalism and strong private property rights,[4] such as in land, infrastructure, and natural resources. Others, notably libertarian socialists,[5] seek to abolish capitalism and private ownership of the means of production in favor of their common or cooperative ownership and management." Private property rights are very important to the USAnian L's, and those are generally the context we're discussing. If you want to discuss LS, then I think you need to explicitly note that, if you wish to avoid confusion -W]

HG societies have freedom of choice, voluntary association, self-ownership and basically no state. Maximum of political freedom and autonomy. Why is this not at least very close to L, if not exactly L? What are the key difference(s), as you see them? Note that HG societies are evolved, and are similar to ape societies. They appeal to humans at a very deep level. As does L, as L is at minimum very similar to HG societies.

Equality leads to liberty.

[It is possible that HG is L (well, LS, see above). But if it is, it is only due to the lack of law (and I doubt there is really a lack of something that could be called law). But your "E leads to L" remains unproven (and unsuggested). Correlation does not prove causation -W]

Property in HG is limited to tools, clothing, shelter. Food is more complex. Land is group (band, tribe) owned. Mutual support and reputation is vital.

The Pharaoh built the canal? Or the guy that built the canal becomes the Pharaoh? Chicken or egg? In either case, the economics lead to a very non-L state.

Vast economic inequality leads to a Pharaoh.

[I don't believe that -W]

The USA has become more like a Hydraulic Empire and less like HG societies in my lifetime. Not sure of all the reasons why... Technology, economic and legal changes, politics and more.

[The USA doesn't in any way resemble an HE. I don't find your arguments here in the least persuasive. It might be a good idea to concentrate on just one, rather than scatter-shotting -W]

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 10 Feb 2017 #permalink

Equality and freedom are very related.

Take a completely unequal state: one person owns almost everything.

How would there be any freedom at all in such a state? Other than for the person who owns everything, of course?

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 10 Feb 2017 #permalink

Phil, I think you have some basic misconceptions on the relationship between equality and freedom. We have seen totalitarian nation states with a high degree of equality. We have seen modern mixed-economy, social democracies with a high degree of equality (e.g., Norway, Denmark), and we have seen many 'failed states' with a high degree equality (e.g., Afghanistan, Iraq). In other words, the degree of freedom that citizens experience doesn't tell us much about the distribution of income. More important, equality is a relative measure and it tells us nothing about the absolute level of wealth. Norway is one of the richer countries in the world and Afghanistan is one of the poorest, but they score nearly very much the same on measures of economic equality.

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 10 Feb 2017 #permalink

Phil, that there are a few rich people and many poor people actually leads to a high degree of equality. Most people have the same (very little in this case). You seem to think equality means that there are zero rich people. You can believe that if you wish, but you will be at odds with just about everyone else because they don't share your definition.

GINI coefficeints are used by economists to estimate equality.

P.S. Kazakhstan

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 10 Feb 2017 #permalink

Wiki says:

"A Gini coefficient of 1 (or 100%) expresses maximal inequality among values (e.g., for a large number of people, where only one person has all the income or consumption, and all others have none, the Gini coefficient will be very nearly one)."

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 10 Feb 2017 #permalink


“There is a small group of people getting rich — and I mean really rich — in Kazakhstan while the rest of society remains really poor,” Mr. Kazhegeldin said. “The leadership is not interested in pushing a market economy. They keep two sets of books, one for themselves and another for everyone else.”

Kazakhstan doesn't look like a good example. Unless you have access to the real set of accounts, not the public set of accounts.

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 10 Feb 2017 #permalink

I doubt if this group of USian libertarians are socialists. They seem big on Friedrich von Hayek and private property. But maybe I didn't read enough.


Vast economic inequality leads to a Pharaoh.

"I don’t believe that -W"

Consider a Gini of property ownership of exactly 1.000. The Pharaoh who owns everything, and everyone else owns nothing.

If you disagree with the Pharaoh, he evicts you from the house you are living in, which is of course his. You can't live on the street, it is his street. You can't eat, it is his food.

How could you have any freedom of any type living in a land owned by a Pharaoh? Even if, by some wild chance, the law wasn't owned by him. Even if, by some wild chance, the courts ruled according to strict Libertarian approved rules. And the police were not corrupt. House is his property, he can evict you. That is Libertarian. His street, move along. Libertarian. His food, go hungry. Libertarian.

That's not freedom. But it is Libertarian.

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 10 Feb 2017 #permalink

I'm not sure what Freedom of Choice could've meant for a hunter-gather society but all I have read indicates there is none of it.

By David B. Benson (not verified) on 11 Feb 2017 #permalink

Hunters and gatherers were not Libertarians. Given their emphasis on sharing and their lack of emphasis on personal property rights, most traditional forgers were closer to Marxism than they were to Libertarianism. Except, of course, they were not Marxists either, because it is inaccurate to take terms intended to describe political/economic philosophies developed in state level societies and blithely apply them to band level societies with no analogous political structure. Libertarians, at least the US variety, are downright fanatical about supposed rights to accumulate property and to do whatever they hell they want with it, which puts them completely at odds with the mores of most foraging societies.

My view of Dodd-Frank is that the Volcker rule is good, but in general legislation is the wrong approach to regulation. Most legislators have little understanding of financial markets, and the rest may have impure motives.

[This week's Economist suggests "The Volcker rule, for example, could have been distilled to a simple principle of “not conducting proprietary trading”; instead it ended up taking up almost 300 pages to define. It is a similar story with the fiduciary rule—a fine principle bogged down in overprescription -W]

By Paul Barden (not verified) on 12 Feb 2017 #permalink

> 300 pages to define.... bogged down in overprescription

that's from:…

[That's what I linked to, yes -W]

So it's not regulation, it's the lobbyists' successful fiddling with crafting and add fine details that work to their clients' benefit that's the problem here.

[It's from the F-D act. Which your lawmakers are responsible for. And no, they cannot palm responsibility off onto anyone else, and neither should you try to. They wrote this rubbish law - under Obama -W]

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 12 Feb 2017 #permalink

#31 Some, not all Libertarians claim hunter gatherer societies as examples of Libertarianism. Even some of the property rights types do, as part of a claim that their version of Libertarianism is the natural form of government.

Vast economic inequality leads to a Pharaoh.

“I don’t believe that -W”

Think about the change in early Egypt. An likely egalitarian libertarian with a small "l", socialist with a small "c" herder/hunter gatherer culture transformed into a totalitarian culture ruled by a god-king. Think about this, this is amazing. How did this happen, again?

I see no reason to expect that the hunter gatherers settling into Egypt were vastly different than than similar groups studied many different places since then. Do you see any such reason? So it seems likely, and I would love to hear why anyone disagrees, that the settlers into Egypt at the beginning of irrigated agriculture would be similar.

You said "The Pharaoh built the canal", how did the Pharaoh get the wealth and power to build a canal in an libertarian (socialist) egalitarian society? To build the canals, a lot of labor is needed. How did a member of an egalitarian society get enough wealth to get the canals built? How did a member of an egalitarian society become a god-king?

Did the building of the canals create a very non-egalitarian economy, which in turn created a very non-egalitarian society, including a very non-egalitarian government?

Or is there another explanation?

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 12 Feb 2017 #permalink

Try "socialist with a small "s", not "c".

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 12 Feb 2017 #permalink

Phil -

The case of Egypt is interesting; it is in many ways an atypical example. The seasonal flooding makes for a near unique combination of easy high crop yields with no soil depletion over long periods. And it's the surpluses generated by such a system that allow a big hierarchy to develop with the Pharaoh at the top.

Essentially, even if you start with a nice anarcho-libertarian society enjoying this easy agriculture, you'll get local groups of hard men who decide that they should be in charge (because if you complain you get stomped). These groups will come into conflict with neighboring such groups and the winners will end up in charge of larger areas. And so on until geographical limits are reached, and the biggest thug is called the Pharaoh. (cf Chief, King, Emperor et al)

Generally, even local gangs will operate by some rules - can't cause too much damage; at a larger scale these get turned into laws of one form or another. In many western societies at least, we have even succeeded in making these laws apply to everyone and membership of the ruling gang subject to elections and/or some merit.

But anyway - the size of such gangs is constrained by both geography and resources. A society with few surpluses cannot support many gang members, so there are smaller gangs and smaller areas under control. Highly productive societies like Egypt can support big gangs over large areas.

As far as egalitarianism goes.. those in the bottom 80-90% of society have, historically, barely had enough to survive and reproduce on, with the other 10-20% having access to exponentially higher resources as you rise up. Which is why such societies can be static for hundreds of years at a time; no one has anything to invest in doing things better, apart from rulers who are more interested in maintaining the biggest army possible.

By Andrew Dodds (not verified) on 13 Feb 2017 #permalink

> how do you find out where the truth lies?


That's a bigger omission. It covers your "our own biases".

Sooner or later libertarians will have to accept that individualism is dead, at least from an epistemological point of view.


I doubt they will ever accept that. Too many implications to central tenants of libertarianism, even more so if we extend it to questions of free-will.

This is why I find Hayek interesting. He had a very biologically-driven theory of mind in which he saw people and culture as a product of evolution and environment. Heck, he was a determinist[1]. It was right there in front of him, yet he somehow missed the obvious connection between that and the problems it causes libertarianism.

If people are determined (mainly by their environment and circumstance), then simply increasing (legal) liberty does not help people. Improving or counteracting their environment and circumstance does. In other words, allowing (legal) freedom to make a choice is rather meaningless if both the choices available to me and the process which I make my choice are restricted based upon my environment and circumstance.

Hayek seems to sweep this under the rug with his “practical dualism”. In Sensory Order he describes it thusly, “in some ultimate sense mental phenomena are ‘nothing but’ physical process…This, however, does not alter the fact that in discussing mental process we will never be able to dispense with the use of mental terms, and that we shall have permanently to be content with a practical dualism” (p. 191). His work on theory of mind leads him to be a determinist in theory but, convenient for his libertarian position, he can throw all that out in practice, because the brain is too complex.

But this doesn’t alleviate the problem. While it’s true we don’t know enough about the brain to have specific solutions to specific problems, we do know enough to understand how general situations can lead to general problems. Stable family life (support for contraception, child-family support), attention during development (child-family support, parental leave, free and easy access to daycare), education (free, high quality, accessible public education, free secondary education), proper nutrition (food stamps, low-income family tax relief) and unfortunately race and gender (affirmative action, inclusive education, racial and gender specific support programs) are all important aspects that we know impact future opportunities. We needn’t know the exact impact on every individual brain, as Hayek seems to suggest, to address these issues in a general sense.

And guess what – countries that try to address these issues (by imposing non-libertarian friendly social welfare measures) lead to higher levels of social mobility[2] (and happiness[3] and lower levels of inequality[4]). Libertarians love their “rags-to-riches” stories…so maybe they should support liberal ideology?

[1]See, or Sensory Order.

Time for another brexit means brexit thread?

How do the negotiations work? / Where is the balance of power?

Perhaps I don't understand the article 50 negotiations but to me it seems that:
27 counties each losing a bit of trade with one country is bad but not completely disastrous. One country losing a bit of trade with 27 countries is disastrous so balance of power is with EU.

Thus EU can offer horrible terms and sit back not budging and wait for UK to beg to be allowed to remain or suffer those horrible terms. Wonderful, not!

Is there a solution to this balance of power in the negotiations? My attempt at an answer would be that it is essential for May to reserve right to annul invoking of article 50 such that we remain in (perhaps subject to another referendum) on all the same terms as at present (ie including our rebate etc) if we don't like terms offered.

Is it possible for May to include such a reservation in her article 50 letter? Should/Would it change the balance of power at all in negotiations?

[My personal opinion is that leaving on no terms and switching to no-import-tariffs would be the best deal (by which I mean: the best deal that we can plausibly get. I think the EU negotiating machinery is likely to be so sclerotic that it would be unable to negotiate a better deal in time). However I don't feel like putting out a post saying that yet; you'll have to suffer several more Hayek-based posts first -W]