Thursday, November 29, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Moreover, its not just education that is advocated, but education of a particular brand and type. Oftentimes, educational reform doesn't necessarily mean positive change. Sadly, new educational "initiatives" often seem to emphasize measurable metrics of performance and not real learning nor improved instructional intelligence. This happens at the elementary level, in secondary education and in higher education, where teaching remains a very poor relation to those other main enterprises: research and administration.
At all levels good teaching, good instructional practices and good administrators exist. Sadly, at all levels, they remain a minority. Moreover, as this article discusses, we seem almost pathological in our resistance to institutional instructional learning:
The biggest impediment to kids' learning to read is not biological or genetic: it's instructional. Instructional casualties account for the majority of that 50-60 percent of our poor kids who can't read.
...Does whole language work better than phonics? That's a dumb dichotomy. That's political. Science asks: For which kids are which instructional strategies most beneficial, at which developmental phases, in what classroom, and by what teachers?
We've pretty much answered those questions. But will anybody use our answers? No.
...People say, "Well, if you teach them too directly, they'll never love reading." I've never met a kid who loves something he cannot do.
- persistent overestimates in the widely quoted U.N. reports have long skewed funding decisions and obscured potential lessons about how to slow the spread of HIV
Monday, November 26, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Occasionally, ecomyths are not just about interpretation. They also are foundationed on poor science, selective science and/or incorrect science.
The major narrative in environmentalism over the past decade has been global warming. In large part, a fundamental part of that narrative has been the assertion that climate today is both unprecedented in its high temperatures and alarming in the rate of change in those temperatures. The selling of this narrative by global warming advocates relied heavily on the infamous hockey-stick graph.
That graph has been thoroughly discredited but proponents of global warming persist in denying this fact, variously reasserting that the graph is "basically still correct", "substantiated by other data" and/or seeking to downplay its role just as vigorously as they sought to promote its use when it was in vogue.
The graph that appears here comes from this post on ClimateAudit. It should forever conclude debate about the veracity of the hockey stick. For those not familiar with the issues, it comes to this:
- the hockey stick relies heavily on one or two series of data
- uses statistical methods incorrectly
- presents a false representation
- confirms a Medieval Warm Period comparable to today's temperatures, and
- fails to suggest any alarming upswing in temperature this century.
Not only is the science not a self-evident as proclaimed, our experience does not seem to suggest catastrophic warming:
- Global warming? Not in South America, not this year.
- It is enough that people are beginning to question the IPCC and what it doing.
Friday, November 16, 2007
The first shows the editorial manipulation of an interview to create the story the media wanted, rather than the one it got. The second illustrates the overt manipulation of media for political purposes.
Sadly, these are not isolated examples. They reflect an ethos which suborns freedom and democracy in favour of an ideology wherein the end is used to justify the means: those manipulating and/or controlling the story are so sufficiently self-convinced by their own correctness and beliefs, that a sense of paranoia pervades all their actions and expressly non-democratic activities are justified as being in the name of democratic reform.
The examples above are a graphic reminder that personal ethics and collective morality are not slogans, nor sound bites, but a habit reflected in the daily practice of life.
As Ghandi taught:
- We do not need to proselytise either by our speech or by our writing. We can only do so really with our lives. Let our lives be open books for all to study.
- You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
- My life is my message.
Sometimes new items appear just at the right time. This article further underscores the point about a free media and the selectivity which the mainstream media often chooses to employ in determining what news gets reported. It also underscores how significant a role blogs have played in breaking the information monopoly mainstream media outlets used to enjoy.
Friday, November 09, 2007
- That the “hockey stick” should have been so comprehensively invalidated by two highly qualified, independent, peer reviewed studies and public hearings, and yet is retained in any guise by the IPCC in its latest AR4 report, indicates how insular and unscientific a body the IPCC has become.
- Despite substantial research over the last 20 years by paleoclimatologists at significant expense to taxpayers, there is no historic temperature reconstruction that can accurately replicate the instrumental temperature record from 1860 to 2000, let alone to 2007.
- Unless all important studies are independently verified, it cannot be said that the late 20th century warming was particularly exceptional. And especially so given that no global warming at all has occurred since 1998, a period of eight years over which atmospheric CO2 increased by 15 ppm (4%). It is crystal clear that natural causes are a possible explanation for the entire instrumental temperature record to date.
- So far as I am aware, there is no empirical evidence published in refereed journals that invalidates this null hypothesis.
- Wegman et al. showed that the paleoclimate field is heavily influenced by “a tightly knit group of individuals who passionately believe in their thesis.” Similar small groups almost certainly exist in other key areas of climate science, such as amongst those scientists who study the instrumental temperature series or who perform the computer model attribution studies.
- The IPCC WGI is effectively run by small groups of inbred scientists from UCAR, CRU and the Hadley Centre, who have a strong and disproportionate influence on its processes and agenda. Rather than the consensus of thousands of scientists, the IPCC conclusions represent the passionate belief of a small number of scientists whose funding and research careers depend heavily upon continuing alarm. The belief is then shared by a much larger number of environmentally and politically motivated individuals, organisations and also businesses that have evolved to service the emission reductions that the IPCC calls for.
- The vested interests of these groups are powerful sources of bias.
Interestingly, the vote stirred up a lot of controversy, not least of which was the "science" character of Climate Audit, the tenor of which did much to illuminate both the ignorance and prejudice of those making the claims. In particular, I liked the quick way people sought to dismiss and minimize a blog that had not even read.
No matter, Climate Audit was voted #1.
All of these factors are attributable to the efforts of Steve McIntrye and Ross McKittrick, given wider awareness by the #1 Science Blog, Climate Audit.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
the Women's Health Initiative Dietary Modification Trial is the most recent, and one of the largest and most expensive, randomised controlled studies of the effect of diet and weight on breast cancer, colon cancer, heart disease and stroke. It studied 49,000 American women over an eight-year period. The women in the intervention group ate diets that were low fat and high fibre with six servings of grains and five servings of vegetables and fruits per day.
There were no statistically significant differences between the intervention group and the control group in the incidence of breast cancer, colon cancer, strokes or heart attacks. Ironically, the women following the 'healthy' diet designed to reduce cancer and heart disease didn't even weigh less than they did at the beginning of the study, or less than the women in the control group who continued to eat as they always had.
Not only did the prescribed diet fail to yield any of the predicted health benefits, diet alone was shown to be ineffective as a tool for weight loss.
If not for global warming, the obesity myth would be the biggest ecomyth presently being inflicted on people.
Monday, November 05, 2007
- why are there no socialist countries without an overwhelming housing shortage? why does provision of adequate housing defy state intervention, economic control and the imposition of central planning?
- why does every successful capitalist nation have homeless people?
Saturday, November 03, 2007
This situation is exacerbated by the tendency for many issues, especially ecomyths, to be presented in terms that over-simplify science, ignore counter-evidence and present a false, dogmatic representation of scientific information. A situation based characterized as pathological.
I am often asked after a presentation disputing ecomyths how so many other scientists and experts can persist in presenting their perspective if the information I have presented is indeed true.
It is that others either disagree (their beliefs are different), fail to see the whole picture (their expertise is more narrowly confined) and/or they are merely operating within a dominant paradigm wherein so much that underpins ecomyths is simply accepted as axiomatic -- so self-evident that it is accepted without question. Ideas are then framed within this dominant political narrative, and issues of scientific integrity and dispute are subsumed by the larger politics of science, groupthink and a culture that discourages dissent, independent thought and individual responsibility.
We are a culture with tremendous pressure and incentives for conformity. We are quick to censure and in a pervasive culture of fear, people learn quickly to adapt to the dominant paradigm of how society perceives an issue.
Of course, society rarely perceives an issue: individuals do. But most are not operating as free-thinking individuals and their knowledge is "framed" by the manner with which the media, educators and institutions of authority present information.