John Lott is wrong again

It has been well-documented that John Lott is a big, fat liar. He writes slanted pieces to pursue his own agenda, not truth. So it comes as no surprise that he would post an article on his blog which claims that an Obama advisor is “wacky” for being concerned about global warming. Okay, so no big deal. Just another ignorant mook that cites non-scientific sources in order to pursue lies. Sure, it’d be nice if he would just go and post at Conservapedia, FOX News, or WorldNetDaily, but the whole concept of free speech does allow for anyone to speak his mind, even if the thoughts within said mind are utterly ignorant. Ignorant how? As is so common (especially among conservatives – extra-especially among FOX News conservatives), John Lott is ignorant in science. In this case, it’s sun spots.

First let’s note how Lott cites an article from Investor’s Business Daily (that highly regarded scientific organizati…business newspaper). He excludes eight grafs on his blog. Three of the grafs are either introductory or conclusion grafs. The other five are as follows.

The Little Ice Age has been a problem for global warmers because it serves as a reminder of how the earth warms and cools naturally over time. It had to be ignored in the calculations that produced the infamous and since-discredited hockey stick graph that showed a sharp rise in warming alleged to be caused by man.

The answer to this dilemma has supposedly been found by two Stanford researchers, Richard Nevle and Dennis Bird, who announced their “findings” at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. According to them, man not only is causing contemporary warming. He also caused the cooling that preceded it.

According to Bird and Nevle, before Columbus ruined paradise, native Americans had deforested a significant portion of the continent and converted the land to agricultural purposes. Less CO2 was then absorbed from the atmosphere, and the earth was toasty.

Then a bunch of nasty old white guys arrived and depopulated the native populations through war and the diseases they brought with them. This led to the large-scale abandonment of agricultural lands. The subsequent reforestation of the continent caused temperatures to drop enough to bring on the Little Ice Age.

Implicit in this research is that the world would be fine if man wasn’t in the way. We either make the world too cold or too hot, a view held by many in high places.

Given the derisive nature of these grafs, it may actually may have made sense for Lott to publish them, but two of them contain some contradictory science to his silly dogma. That just doesn’t fly for these global warming denialists. I’m beginning to think Lott maybe does visit Conservapedia.

So now that we have Lott’s continued dishonesty out of the way, let’s tackle the main issue: sun spots. The unscientific, babbling article the unscientific, babbling Lott cites tries to stake a claim that all this hoo-hah about global warming is really just scientists misinterpreting data because they never considered sun spots.

When the sun is active, it’s not uncommon to see sunspot numbers of 100 or more in a single month. Every 11 years, activity slows, and numbers briefly drop near zero. Normally sunspots return very quickly, as a new cycle begins. But this year, the start of a new cycle, the sun has been eerily quiet.

The first seven months averaged a sunspot count of only three and in August there were no sunspots at all — zero — something that has not occurred since 1913.

According to the publication Daily Tech, in the past 1,000 years, three previous such events — what are called the Dalton, Maunder and Sporer Minimums — have all led to rapid cooling. One was large enough to be called the Little Ice Age (1500-1750).

(Don’t worry, Lott posted that part).

Okay, so because there are few sun spots to be seen toward the end of this current solar cycle and global temperatures have dropped in 2008, global warming is due to that. There are so many things wrong with this it makes me mad.

First of all, this horrific article cites the first seven months of this year. Guess what? Those months correspond to the end of the last solar cycle. It wasn’t until the past three months that the new 11-year cycle was detected (Hey, John, that’s a scientific citation; use it sometime).

Of course, it’s possible to go so far as to use the misleading information provided by this business newspaper and still show it to be wrong. Let’s assume this solar cycle does correspond with the change in global temperature. It would necessarily follow because there was a rise in temperature in the first seven years of this century that there was also a rise in solar activity. In truth, this past 11-year solar cycle peaked in 2000 and has been decaying ever since. Wow! The wonder of slight research and knowledge! Oh, how it destroys ignorance so quickly. It’s too bad John Lott isn’t interested in doing that.

What’s more, this article cites the Little Ice Age, as if it was entirely and decidely caused by solar activity. The issue is far more nuanced than that – and certainly too nuanced for such an unqualified business newspaper.

Global thermometers stopped rising after 1998, and have plummeted in the last two years by more than 0.5 degrees Celsius. The 2007-2008 temperature drop was not predicted by global climate models. But it was predictable by a decline in sunspot activity since 2000.

Wow. This is just so fucking wrong that it just made me go and fucking swear at its wrongness. Global temperatures have been rising since 1998. From 1995-2006, 11 of the 12 warmest years on record were recorded. As far as this past year goes, it was a decline over the first years of this century – of course, that doesn’t really matter when it was still the 10th warmest year on record. In fact, part of the reason it was cooler than other years was the moderation experienced from La Niña. As is well known (except by John Lott, in all likelihood), water is tremendously useful for retaining temperature. Since La Niña shrinks the warm pool of water in parts of the Pacific, it can make a noticable difference in global temperatures. Still, because of man-made pollution and deforestation, La Niña was not strong enough to prevent 2008 from being the 10th warmest year on record.

It’s unsurprising that John Lott would make a post like this. He has a history of making posts concerning things on which he has no knowledge. Take a look at his posts on evolution. They’re disparate, sometimes contradictory, often with no commentary to give some context. Granted, he shouldn’t be giving commentary on anything, but he also shouldn’t be making posts first concerned with human evolution accelerating and then subsequent posts concerned with human evolution slowing down. Bah. I don’t know why I continue to expect more out of these far-right, a-science mooks.

Einsteinian Religion

There are these perverse notions floating around about what Einstein believed or didn’t believe regarding religion and god(s). The page at Conservapedia – which deserves no link – will give the impression that Einstein believed in some sort of conscious, higher power. Any research will show this is highly unlikely. Einstein believed in ordering physical principles to the Universe which are ultimately far beyond the understanding of humans. This is not a god at all, which is why it’s somewhat unfortunate that he used the term “god” to describe these ordering principles. On the one hand, it’s misleading and it tends to invite people to attempt to associate a brilliant thinker with their own positions, as if appeals to authority confer truth to a statement or thought or idea. On the other hand, there’s a certain poetry to his language; we should all appreciate personification in our literature.

Ultimately, Einstein was an agnostic. Precisely where he stood on, say, Richard Dawkins’ Scale of Religiosity is unclear. I suspect he may be slightly to the left of someone like Carl Sagan (physically assuming “1” is left and “7” is right – see scale video). That may place him as a 4, as I would place Sagan as a 5. Unfortunately, neither man can clarify at this point. However, it is quite clear that neither one believed in any personal god – the seeming indifference of Nature to our plights, our planet, our solar system, our galaxy, it all indicates a lack of personality, of personalization, no matter how much poetic personification we like to use.

No, science only has a bias toward reality.

Apparently, some people think science can be either conservative or liberal. Well, it can’t. So why do the nuts over at Conservapedia think otherwise? What’s more, why do they think creationists tend to win debates with ‘evolutionists’?

Morris also said regarding the creation scientist Duane Gish (who had over 300 formal debates): “At least in our judgment and that of most in the audiences, he always wins.”

You may be wondering, who the fuck is that guy? Well, that’s Henry Morris, one of the founders of the Institute for Creation Research – an organization which does nothing but undermine science. Apparently, Conservapedians believes if they cite the opinion of a creationist on the issue of debating evolution that they have an air-tight case that creationists tend to defeat those EVILutionists in debates. This is about as valuable as those text polls FOX News took after the presidential debates where McCain apparently destroyed Obama, winning roughly 90% of the votes. What’s more, the fact that even if there were some empirical way to measure debate winningness*, it wouldn’t matter since, just as Hitler has no bearing on the truth value of evolution, the random opinions of anti-science mooks is rather irrelevant.

*Creationist would likely reject such a measure were it possible since they believe science to only be science when it gives them results they already like.

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