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10 Dec 22:56

Programmable Trust For The Internet Of Things - How Bitcoin Is Transforming The Way We Do Business

What if there's a technological advancement so powerful that it transforms the basic pillars of our society. A technology that fundamentally influences the way that our economy, government systems. and businesses function and could change our conceptual understanding of trade, ownership and trust. **This technology already exists and it's called cryptocurrency.** ## Game Changing Technology ## People often think of bitcoin as only virtual money or a transaction system, but if you look closer you'll see that the monetary aspect is just the tip of the iceberg. That's because Bitcoin is a groundbreaking internet technology for which money is only one of the possible applications. Money exists to facilitate trade. Through the centuries, trade has become incredibly complex. Everyone trades with everyone worldwide. Trade is recorded in bookkeeping and this information is often isolated and closed to the public. For this reason, we use third parties and middlemen we trust to facilitate and approve our transactions. [![blockchain desktop.png](]( Think of governments, banks accountants, notaries and the paper money in your wallet. We call theses, trusted third parties. This brings us to the essence of Bitcoin. Bitcoin software enables a network of computers to maintain a collective bookkeeping via the internet. This bookkeeping in neither closed nor in control by one party, rather, it is public and available in one digital ledger which is fully distributed across the network. We call this the blockchain. In the blockchain all transactions are logged including information on the time, date, participants and amount of every single transaction. Each node in the network owns a full copy of the blockchain. On the basis of complicated, state of the art mathematical principles, the transactions are verified by the so-called bitcoin miners, who maintain the ledger. The mathematical principle also insures that these nodes automatically and continuously agree about the current state of the ledger and every transaction in it. If anyone attempts to corrupt a transaction, the nodes will not arrive at a consensus and hence will refuse to incorporate the transaction in the blockchain. So every transaction is public and thousands of nodes unanimously agree that a transaction has occurred at date X at time Y. It's almost as if there is a notary present at every transaction, this way everyone has access to a shared, single source of truth. This is why we can always trust the blockchain. The ledger doesn't care whether a bitcoin represents a certain amount of euros or dollars or anything else of value or property for that matter. Users can decide for themselves what a unit of bitcoin represents. A bitcoin is divisible into a hundred-million units and each unit is both individually identifiable and programmable. This means that users can assign properties to each unit. Users can program a unit to represent a euro cent or a share in a company, a kilowatt hour of energy or a digital certificate of ownership. ## Bitcoin Is More Than Money ## Because of this bitcoin is much more than simply money and payments. A bitcoin can represent many kinds of property. A thousand barrels of oil, award credits, or a vote during an election for example. Moreover, bitcoin allows us to make our currency smarter. and to automize our cash and money flows. Imagine a health care allowance in dollars or euros that can only be used to pay for health care at certified parties. In this case, whether someone actually follows the rules is no longer verified in bureaucratic process afterward. You simply program these rules into the money, ergo, compliance upfront. The unit can even be programmed in such a way that it will automatically return to the provider if the receiver doesn't use it after a certain amount of time. This way the provider can ensure that allowances are not hoarded. A company can control its spending in the same way by programming budgets for salaries, machinery, materials, and maintenance so the respective money is specified and cannot be spent on other things. Automizing such matters leads to a considerable decrease in bureaucracy which saves accountants, controllers and the organization in general, an incredible amount of time. [![replaced by the blockchain.png](]( The programmable, open character of bitcoin allows us to completely rebuild and innovate our financial sector and our administrative processes, make the more efficient and transparent and significantly decrease bureaucracy. But there's more. In the internet of things, our economy will be dealing with machines that actively participate in the economic traffic. In fact, they're already here. Think of a vending machine or drones delivering packages. These machines are unfamiliar with the concept of trust, but Bitcoin is not. Because of bitcoin, the drone can be 100% certain that it will deliver the package to the right recipient and know for sure that it has been paid for. And we can program the vending machine in such a way that it will automatically keep track of its supplies, order new supplies from the supplier and pay for them automatically. ## Conclusion ## Of course, you'll understand that this is only the beginning. Internet technology is disruptive and breaks the status quo. It opens markets and breaks the positions of middlemen all the time. Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies have caused a paradigm shift. It's time to explore this new technology constructively and critically and openly discuss potential applications. --- ### Related Posts ### [Bitcoin Vs Banks Technological Disruption Can Revolutionize Banking ]( ) [Five Ways Smart Contracts On A Blockchain Are Changing The Way We Do Business ]( ) [Blockchain Is Killing The Middleman Real Trust In A Virtual World ]( ) [Today I Learned More About Bitcoin And Blockchain Technology]( --- [![luzcypher-emoji-verified-2.png](](
10 Dec 21:42

Demand for electric cars is low — but automakers continue to roll them out (FCAU)

by Matthew DeBord

Chrysler Pacifica

One of the biggest critics of electric cars also runs one of the worlds largest automakers.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne has as much as begged customers to avoid buying his electric vehicles (EVs) because he loses so much money on them.

Demand for EVs isn't just weak — it's practically non-existent. Globally, electric cars have captured only 1% of the market.

Meanwhile, in the US alone, new sales records have been set as pickups trucks and SUVs powered by gas motors have experienced a massive resurgence in popularity.

It's not like the world's carmakers are against EVs. They've all seen Tesla make a business out of them, really from nothing, in just a decade. 

The issue is that they shouldn't want to commit to building and marketing cars that consumers don't want. And make no mistake about it, consumers are not showing runaway EV interest.

There have now been perfectly viable, affordable, and technologically sophisticated electric cars in the market for the better part of ten years. And sales haven't improved to the extent that a carmaker would normally think about spending the billions necessary to develop new fleets of EVs.

Sergio Marchionne CEO Fiat Chrysler

And yet, the EVs just keep on coming. Now, even Marchionne is changing his tune, as Bloomberg reported. The carmaker will reveal an all-electric version of its Pacifica minivan at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, wrote Tommaso Ebhardt and Jamie Butters.

"'A key theme for 2017 will be the increased availability of battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Michael Dean told reporters. 'This provides a dilemma for automakers as they sacrifice traditional cash-cow internal combustion engine sales for expensive and lower-margin electric cars, necessary to meet onerous new emissions legislation.'"

All these new EVs look cool and point toward a future in which the old-school gas motor will be a museum piece. Unfortunately, for the vast majority of consumers, the new wave of EVs are largely science fiction. 

Increasingly stringent new fuel-economy regulations are indeed driving the development of EVs, rather than natural market demand. The automakers derisively refer to these cars as "compliance vehicles" and undertake them only to be able to continue selling their profit drivers. Okay, that's not entirely why they explore EVs — they want to patent new propulsion technologies so that they don't get left in the dust if there is a big breakthrough that dramatically shifts that market.

The big car companies are hoping that a Donald Trump administration will give them a break on fuel-economy and emissions regulations. It remains to be seen if that will happen. But until then, the EVs will keep on coming, even if nobody wants to buy them.

SEE ALSO: Jaguar's F-PACE is the most beautiful luxury SUV money can buy

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Tesla reveals how your self-driving car sees the road

10 Dec 13:43

Mixing Graphene With Silly Putty Researchers, from Trinity College Dublin, recently decided to mix together graphene with some silly putty mix, and from that they were able to create sensors that had the ability to detect the footsteps of spiders; they were that sensitive. The researchers recently published their findings in the journal Science, and they demonstrated that the Silly Putty exhibits properties that resemble both a solid and a liquid, and it is capable of plenty more when it is combined with the nanomaterial graphene. Graphene truly is a remarkable substance and continues to be investigated in many areas, with millions of dollars going into research in this space. It is certain that we will see many uses for graphene in our everyday lives in the future. It's already quite remarkable to see the different applications that researchers have explored by using the material. With the Silly Putty + Graphene mixture, they also applied an electrical current and discovered that it was remarkably sensitive. Even the slightest touch, pressure, or deformation, would alter the electrical resistance. Pics: AMBER, Trinity College Dublin fivedollarfinds sources:
10 Dec 03:10

How Do Single-Celled Organisms Act in Groups?

Today, I'm going to write about one of my all-time favorite TED Talks: [How bacteria "talk"]( by [Bonnie Bassler]( The talk is on a concept known as "quorum sensing". I think I first learned of the concept of quorum sensing back around 2004, in [Science News Daily]( I was already intrigued at that point, but in this [TED]( video, Bassler really brings it to life. In this fascinating video from 2009, Bassler introduces the topic with a quick overview of bacteria. She begins by demonstrating the importance of bacteria, noting that the human body contains 1 trillion human cells and 10 trillion bacteria cells, and goes on to note that humans have 30,000 genes in our bodies with 100 times as many bacterial genes, so by her reckoning, humans are 90 or 99% bacteria. (*Note: I happened to read today in the PLOS article, [Revised Estimates for the Number of Human and Bacteria Cells in the Body](, from August 2016, that an updated estimate is 3.8 trillion bacteria and 3 trillion human cells, which is what reminded me of this video.*) She goes on to note that bacteria do useful things like protect our cells from external insults, digest our food, make vitamins, and help to keep bad microbes out of our bodies. She also mentions some harms that specific bacteria cause, such as lyme disease, toxic shock, food poisoning, ulcers, and cholera. This array of capabilities led the people at her lab to wonder how it is that bacteria do anything? They are so small in comparison to human cells, that - as individuals - their effects should be negligible, so how do single-cell organisms act to accomplish things in groups? She introduces the concept of quorum sensing by describing a particular symbiotic relationship between a squid and a species of luminescent bacteria. At night time, the bacteria emits light, and the squid adjusts a shutter in its body so that the light emitted by the bacteria beneath the squid exactly matches the light overhead, which prevents the squid from casting a shadow. In day time, the squid pumps out 95% of the bacteria colony, the light goes off, and the squid sleeps. During the day, the bacteria reproduce, so they're ready to produce light again at night time. The question is, how do the bacteria know to go dark during the day time? The answer to that question is that the bacteria emit a signaling molecule which is sensed by others. If there are few bacteria nearby, the molecule drifts away, but if many are in close proximity, they know that they're in the presence of a group, and they light up. After researchers discovered this behavior, they discovered that all bacteria have similar systems that govern hundreds of different types of behaviors. One of the important behaviors that is governed this way is virulence. If an isolated bacteria got into our system and became virulent, our immune systems would immediately overwhelm it. So what they do, instead, is to lurk in our systems doing nothing but emitting their signaling compound. Only when they detect enough other bacteria of the same type do they turn virulent, at which time our immune systems can be overwhelmed. Another interesting finding is that each species of bacteria has its own unique and private signaling molecule for intraspecies communication, and they also have a common molecule for interspecies communication. So bacteria are able to keep approximate counts of how many of their own species and other species are nearby. As you may be aware, a looming problem in the pharmaceutical industry is antibacterial resistance, seen here under time lapse video: Bassler notes that quorum sensing can be harnessed to reduce the pace of antimicrobial resistance by preventing the bacteria from sensing or receiving the signaling molecules. This would prevent disease without creating selective pressure by killing them. She closes the talk with four takeaways: - Bacteria talk to each other using chemicals. - Bacteria are multi-cellular, meaning that they carry out group tasks that individuals could not accomplish. - Bacteria can distinguish self from other. - Pharma-strategies can be developed to impede/improve quorum sensing. ### Conclusion While the idea of quorum sensing among bacteria is fascinating enough, what I really think is exciting about it is that it can also be used by humans in social media or smart phone applications. Isn't steemit's up-vote almost a form of quorum sensing among humans? How could that quorum sensing be used to go beyond awarding payouts to actually coordinating group behavior (like steemfest)? The possibilities, I think, are limitless. One difference between bacterial quorum sensing and the steemit up-vote is that molecular signaling coordinates behavior in time and space, because the molecule drifts away. It would be as if the voting percentage gradually diminished over time, and needed to be replenished in order to signal continued support for a post or action. Possibly an idea for some future web site or application to pursue. I hope you enjoyed my write-up, but I highly recommend watching the video. Here's [a link]( again, to save you some scrolling. --- **About the Author**: @remlaps is an Information Technology professional with three decades of business experience working with telecommunications and computing technologies. He has a bachelor's degree in mathematics, a master's degree in computer science, and is currently completing a doctoral degree in information technology.
10 Dec 03:06

How to get a C64 on WiFi and start BBSing again

by (Thom Holwerda)
Last year I created an account on Twitter to create a targeted feed for my hobby content and tweets for like-minded retro-gaming folk, separate from my personal account. On this hobby account I mainly follow retro-gaming and Commodore fans. When you use Twitter in a very targeted way like this, it actually can be extremely useful and enjoyable. In any event, during this time I began to see a healthy amount of discussion around BBS'es (Bulletin Board Systems) becoming "a thing" again for retro-computing nerds. And, amazingly, a few popular BBSes were being served off of 8-bit machines. "8-Bitters" were connecting to them, having virtually "off the grid" discussions and playing games outside the watchful eye of Google and the rest of the internet. I wanted to connect to them, too.
09 Dec 23:20

John Glenn wrote Jeff Bezos a beautiful letter that he read for the first time the day the astronaut died

by Rebecca Harrington

john glenn 1962_february_

The night pioneering astronaut John Glenn died, Jeff Bezos received a message from him.

Smithsonian Magazine was honoring Bezos, founder of aerospace company Blue Origin, at the American Ingenuity Awards on December 8.

Glenn was supposed to attend, but because of his declining health in the last month of his life, the former NASA astronaut wrote Bezos a letter on November 28, to be read at the ceremony.

Hours after he passed, Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space, read the letter to Bezos at the awards.

"I can tell you I see the day coming when people will board spacecraft the same way millions of us now board jetliners," Glenn wrote. "When that happens, it will be largely because of your epic achievements this year."

Here's the letter:

bezos glenn letter

Blue Origin has successfully launched and landed several rockets in the last year, and plans to launch its 313-feet-tall New Glenn rockets before 2020.

Before he received Glenn's letter, Bezos shared his condolences on Twitter Thursday:

Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, died Thursday at age 95. He went on to become a US Senator for Ohio, and returned to space in 1998 as the oldest astronaut ever at the age of 77.

Watch Jemison read Glenn's letter below:

SEE ALSO: 'An inspiration to us all': Scientists and space luminaries honor famed astronaut John Glenn

DON'T MISS: John Glenn, who died Thursday, was the first American to orbit the Earth — see the original video

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Jeff Bezos’ space company is about to blow the top off of its rocket on purpose — here’s why

09 Dec 23:11

Did Obamacare Really Insure 20 Million?

by Jared Hatch

One of the most frequently heard claims from the Obama administration is that Obamacare is responsible for insuring 20 million adults who were previously uninsured. But Heritage Foundation research shows the administration’s figure is off by a few million.

The Department of Health and Human Services claims that 20 million people have gained health coverage since the enactment of Obamacare in 2010 through early 2016.

Of those people, 2.3 million are said to be young adults (ages 19 to 25) that gained coverage between 2010 and 2013 as a result of the Obamacare provision allowing them to stay on their parents’ plan until age 26.

The remaining 17.7 million people gained health insurance from Obamacare’s first open enrollment period between October 2013 and early 2016.

However, it is important to note that the administration’s coverage estimates are based on survey data rather than calculating the actual change in coverage in different markets. Though surveys can provide useful information, they are not as precise as using enrollment data taken directly from insurance companies.

A recent analysis by The Heritage Foundation’s Edmund Haislmaier and Drew Gonshorowski uses the more accurate method, taking actual enrollment data from Medicaid and private insurance companies to assess the impact Obamacare has had on coverage.

The researchers found that just over 14 million people gained coverage from the end of 2013 to the end of 2015. Of those 14 million, 11.8 million gained their insurance through Medicaid and 2.2 million through private coverage.

The report provides several key takeaways from the first two years of Obamacare’s full implementation:

  • Private market growth has been slow.

Enrollment in the individual market increased by 5.9 million and the self-insured employer market grew by 3.9 million. However, these increases were largely offset by an enrollment drop of 7.6 million people in fully insured employer group plans. Overall, the net gain in private market coverage was only 2.3 million people.

  • Medicaid enrollment has surged.

In states that adopted Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, enrollment surged by 10.4 million. However, Medicaid enrollment also rose by 1.4 million in states that didn’t expand their Medicaid programs. Overall, enrollment in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program accounts for 84 percent of the total coverage gains from Obamacare since 2014.

  • Obamacare’s impact is diminishing.

Though only two full years of data are available, Obamacare appears to be having less of an impact on both private and public insurance markets after its first year of implementation.

For example, while the individual market saw an upsurge of 40 percent in 2014 (the first year of Obamacare’s implementation), it drastically slowed in 2015, with enrollment growth of just 7 percent.

Likewise, the law seems to be having less impact on the fully insured employer group market. In 2014, enrollment in that sector fell by 11 percent, but in 2015, it nearly broke even, decreasing by only 2 percent. Medicaid enrollment also experienced a similar trend. In states that expanded, enrollment increased 23 percent in 2014 but slowed to 4 percent growth in 2015.

Understanding exactly how Obamacare has affected health coverage is important as Congress works to repeal Obamacare and replace it with market-based reforms in the coming months.

The post Did Obamacare Really Insure 20 Million? appeared first on The Daily Signal.

09 Dec 21:37

Europe’s Wood Burning “Disastrous” for the Environment

by Jamie

h/t Whig Zhou

Europe may fancy itself a global green leader, but many of its “eco-friendly” policies don’t stand up well to close scrutiny. Take, for example, the EU’s predilection for burning wood to help meet its self-imposed renewable energy targets. As New Scientist reports, lax oversight over where this wood is sourced may mean that this supposedly green policy is actually increasing emissions:

The EU gets 65 per cent of its renewable energy from biofuels – mainly wood – but it is failing to ensure this bioenergy comes from sustainable sources, and results in less emissions than burning fossil fuels. Its policies in some cases are leading to deforestation, biodiversity loss and putting more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than burning coal.

“Burning forest biomass on an industrial scale for power and heating has proved disastrous,” says Linde Zuidema, bioenergy campaigner for forest protection group Fern. “The evidence that its growing use will increase emissions and destroy forests in Europe and elsewhere is overwhelming.”

Europe has a long history with this foolish green policy. Brussels can categorize burning wood chips and wood pellets as technically carbon neutral so long as the forests being felled to source all of this wood are responsibly and sustainably replanted. But, as is the case with any energy supply chain, it’s not as cut and dry (no pun intended) as that.

Negligence and outright malfeasance can make this source of biomass a decidedly brown energy source. For one thing, you need to be able to monitor replanting in order to assure the so-called lifecycle of the wood you’re burning is carbon-neutral. For another, you need to account for the various emissions produced by the machines cutting all of this wood down, the transportation of that wood to processing facilities, the actual processing itself, and—in some cases—the trans-Atlantic shipment those pellets or chips ultimately embark on (much of Europe’s biomass comes from wood sourced from the southeast United States).If we wanted to be glib, we could simply point to the fact that burning wood is hardly the sort of future-focused energy strategy that a supposedly environmentally-conscious bloc ought to be embracing. But a closer examination vindicates that initial impression—that wood pellets and wood chips sound like dubious renewables—and exposes yet another example of downright foolish green policymaking in Europe.
09 Dec 20:37

Why progressive professors should join Heterodox Academy, especially now

by Jonathan Haidt

The unexpected election of Donald Trump has created uncertainty and new challenges for most advocacy groups. Heterodox Academy is no different; we are witnessing two contradictory trends in the last month:

1. More criticism from people on the left who say that now, more than ever, our work plays into the agenda of the right because HxA validates their claim that universities lean left and are biased against conservatives.

2. More support from people on the left who say that now, more than ever, students and professors on the left must escape from bubbles and echo chambers and expose themselves to more viewpoint diversity.

I believe that both responses are correct, but within different time frames. HxA’s work does give the right a short-term tactical boost. They get to say “See? We told you so! Universities are partisan!” These boosts feel great, and this is why our work gets more coverage in right-leaning publications than in left-leaning ones. If you are a progressive professor who cares mainly about damage control this month, don’t join HxA.

But if you are a progressive professor who wants to strengthen the left in the long run, raise the credibility and federal funding of universities during a time of Republican dominance, and improve the reliability of the research upon which nearly all progressive reforms depend, then now, more than ever, is the time to join HxA.

Here is the case for joining and supporting Heterodox Academy, as made by three prominent voices from the left.

1) Nick Kristof

Kristof wrote a pair of New York Times columns this past May on the moral and educational case for viewpoint diversity. In A Confession of Liberal Intolerance he wrote:

“The stakes involve not just fairness to conservatives or evangelical Christians, not just whether progressives will be true to their own values, not just the benefits that come from diversity (and diversity of thought is arguably among the most important kinds), but also the quality of education itself. When perspectives are unrepresented in discussions, when some kinds of thinkers aren’t at the table, classrooms become echo chambers rather than sounding boards — and we all lose.”

Kristof was surprised by the intensity and uniformity of the response from progressive readers, who wrote things like “you don’t diversify with idiots.” In response, Kristof wrote a second column in which he laid out “three good reasons for universities to be more welcoming not just to women or blacks, but also to conservatives.”

A) “Stereotyping and discrimination are wrong, whether against gays or Muslims, or against conservatives or evangelicals.”

B) “There’s abundant evidence of the benefits of diversity. Bringing in members of minorities is not an act of charity but a way of strengthening an organization…Sure, achieving diversity is a frustrating process, but it enriches organizations and improves decision-making. So let’s aim for ideological as well as ethnic diversity.”

C) “When scholars cluster on the left end of the spectrum, they marginalize themselves. We desperately need academics like sociologists and anthropologists influencing American public policy on issues like poverty, yet when they are in an outer-left orbit, their wisdom often goes untapped.”

2) The Harvard Crimson

Three days after the election, the editors of Harvard’s main student newspaper published an editorial titled Elephant and Man at Harvard. They began by noting the results of a pre-election survey of Harvard undergraduates that found roughly 70% identifying as being on the left, and only 13% as being on the right. Only 6% said they would vote for Trump – far below the 35% of millennials nationwide who did so. They wrote that “the survey points to an overall lack of ideological diversity that should concern faculty, administrators, and students alike, especially at this moment in our history.” Here is their key argument:

“But when the disconnect has grown to such proportions, diversifying political expression in all settings ought to become an administrative priority. The pursuit of ‘Veritas’ which undergirds our intellectual life demands not only that each member of our community be able to debate politics freely, but also that we attend to the multitude of political views that exist in our nation. Stifling this discussion on campus is a disservice to our peers in the campus political minority, and to our own educational growth.

In the same vein, administrators and faculty should take active steps to ensure that students of all political stripes feel comfortable voicing their ideas, especially in the classroom. Concretely, this effort will likely involve actively encouraging the airing of different views, and curtailing unnecessary or inappropriate expressions of political favor by professors. Guaranteeing that more conservative professors teach in subject areas that clearly lean liberal, like the humanities, is also crucial.”

3) Nature

In the wake of the election, the editors of Nature published an editorial titled: Academia must resist political confirmation bias. The editors explained that “It is crucial to fight discrimination in all its forms, but it is unhelpful to exclude conservative voices from debate.”

They acknowledged that “confirmation bias is rife in all walks of life, including the practice of research and the political viewpoints of academic liberals. No one should kid themselves that they are immune.” The editors specifically noted the urgency of understanding contemporary populist movements (which are attempting to reverse progressive gains around the world) and said that “social scientists must weigh in more heavily to inform public debate and vigorously challenge misconceptions — on all sides.”


All of these writers understand that the left’s increasing numerical dominance of the academy has been a pyrrhic victory. John Stuart Mill explained it well in On Liberty:

“the only way in which a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a subject, is by hearing what can be said about it by persons of every variety of opinion, and studying all modes in which it can be looked at by every character of mind. No wise man ever acquired his wisdom in any mode but this; nor is it in the nature of human intellect to become wise in any other manner.”

When political orthodoxy suppresses dissent, it is the dominant group that loses the most. In fact, a 2005 New York Times article on Chief Justice John Roberts’ education noted that the left’s dominance at Harvard may have created stronger conservatives and less able progressives: “Conservatives at Harvard [Norquist said] learned to be ‘tougher than anyone else.’ Unlike students on the left, he said, they were constantly being challenged.”

So if you are a professor who is upset by the right’s recent electoral success – at multiple levels of government, and in many countries beyond the USA – then join Heterodox Academy. Add your voice to that of 300 colleagues who have pledged to welcome and support viewpoint diversity. Together we can improve the vitality of our universities, the quality of our research, and the readiness of the next generation to take up the challenges of democratic citizenship in a divided nation. In the long run, would that harm the left, or help it?

Opinions expressed are those of the author(s). Publication does not imply endorsement by Heterodox Academy or any of its members. We welcome your comments below. Feel free to challenge and disagree, but please try to model the sort of respectful and constructive criticism that makes viewpoint diversity most valuable. Comments that include obscenity or aggression are likely to be deleted.


08 Dec 23:51

Spelunking the alt-right

by Eric Raymond

Recently, on a mailing list I frequent, one of the regulars uttered the following sentence: “I’m told Breitbart is the preferred news source for the ‘alt-right’ (KKK and neo-nazis)”.

That was a pretty glaring error, there.

I was interviewed on Breitbart Tech once. I visit the site occasionally. I am not affiliated with the alt-right, but I’ve been researching the recent claims about it. So I can supply some observations from the ground.

First, while I’m not entirely sure of everything the alt-right is (it’s a rather amorphous phenomenon) it is not the KKK and neo-Nazis. The most that can truthfully be said is that ‘alt-right’ serves as a recent flag of convenience to which some old-fashioned white supremacists are busily trying to attach themselves.

Also, the alt-right is not Donald Trump and his Trumpkins, either. He’s an equally old-fashioned populist continuous with Willam Jennings Bryan and Huey Long. If you tossed a bunch of alt-right memes at him, I doubt he’d even understand them, let alone agree.

The defining characteristic of the alt-right is, really, corrosive snarkiness. To the extent an origin can be identified, it was as a series of message-board pranks on 4chan. There’s no actual ideological core to it – it’s a kind of oppositional attitude-copping without a program, mordantly nasty but unserious.

There’s also some weird occultism attached – the half-serious cult of KEK, aka Pepe, who may or may not be an ancient Egyptian frog-god who speaks to his followers via numerological coincidences. (Donald Trump really wouldn’t get that part.)

Some elements of the alt-right are in fact racist (and misogynist, and homophobic, and other bad words) a la KKK/Nazi, but that’s not a defining characteristic and it’s anyway difficult to tell the genuine haters from those for whom posing as haters is a form of what 4chan types call “griefing”. That’s social disruption for the hell of it.

It is worth noting that another part of what is going on here is a visceral rejection of politically-correct leftism, one which deliberately inverts its premises. The griefers pose as racists and misogynists because they think it’s the most oppositional stance they can take to bullies and rage-mobbers who position themselves as anti-racists and feminists.

My sense is that the true haters are a tiny minority compared to the griefers and anti-PC rejectionists, but the griefers are entertained by others’ confusion on this score and don’t intend to clear it up.

Whether the alt-right even exists in any meaningful sense is questionable. To my anthropologist’s eye it has the aspect of a hoax (or a linked collection of hoaxes) being worked by 4chan griefers and handful of more visible provocateurs – Milo Yiannopolous, Mike Cernovich, Vox Day – who have noticed how readily the mainstream media buys inflated right-wing-conspiracy narratives and are working this one for the lulz. There’s no actual mass movement behind their posturing, unless you think a thousand or so basement-dwelling otaku are a mass movement.

I know Milo Yannopolous slightly – he is who interviewed me for Beitbart – and we have enough merry-prankster tendency in common that I think I get how his mind works. I’m certain that he, at any rate, is privately laughing his ass off at everyone who is going “alt-right BOOGA BOOGA!”

And there are a lot of such people. What these provocateurs are exploiting is media hysteria – the alt-right looms largest in the minds of self-panickers who project their fears on it. And of course in the minds of Hillary Clinton’s hangers-on, who would rather attribute her loss to a shadowy evil conspiracy than to a weak candidate and a plain-old bungled campaign.

I’m worried, however, that that the alt-right may not remain a loose-knit collection of hoaxes – that the self-panickers are actually creating what they fear.

For there is a deep vein of anti-establishment anger out there (see Donald Trump, election of). The alt-right (to the limited and conditional extent it now exists) could capture that anger, and its provocateurs are doing their best to make you think it already has, but they’re scamming you – they’re fucking with your head. The entire on-line ‘alt-right’ probably musters fewer people than the Trumpster’s last victory rally.

It’s a kind of dark-side Discordian hack in progress, and I’m concerned that it might succeed. Vox Day is trying to ideologize the alt-right, actually assemble something coherent from the hoaxes. He might succeed, or someone else might. Draw some comfort that it won’t be the Neo-Nazis or KKK – they’re real fanatics of the sort the alt-right defines itself by mocking. Mein Kampf and ironic nihilism don’t mix well.

The best way to beat the “alt-right” is not to overestimate it, not to feed it with your fear. If you keep doing that, the vast majority of the rootless and disaffected who have never heard of it might decide there’s a strong horse there and sign on.

Oh, and a coda about Breitbart: anyone who thinks Breitbart is far right needs to get out of their mainstream-media bubble more. Compared to sites like WorldNetDaily or FreeRepublic or TakiMag or even American Thinker, Breitbart is pretty mild stuff.

All those fake-news allegations against Breitbart are pretty rich coming from a media establishment that gave us Rathergate, “Hands up don’t shoot!”, and the “Jackie” false-rape story and was quite recently exchanging coordination emails with the Clinton campaign. Breitbart isn’t any more propagandistic than CBS or Rolling Stone, it’s just differently propagandistic.

08 Dec 23:26

12/05/16 PHD comic: 'What we spend time thinking about'

Piled Higher & Deeper by Jorge Cham
Click on the title below to read the comic
title: "What we spend time thinking about" - originally published 12/5/2016

For the latest news in PHD Comics, CLICK HERE!

08 Dec 16:42

A new lease on life for the climate bet with 14 warmer months in a row

by admin

November 2016: After 14 months of global average temperatures closer to Mr Gore’s warming scenario than to Professor Armstrong’s bet on no-trend, the Climate Bet is more in contention than it has been for the past four years. Some commentators expectations of a rapid cooling after the recent warm El Niño months have not so far been realised in global average temperature anomaly.

So, with only 13 months of The Bet remaining, what would need to happen to temperatures over that time for Mr Gore to win the bet—had he been willing to take it. After November’s 0.45°C outturn, and a total of 107 months of the bet, Mr Gore’s cumulative absolute error is nearly 21% greater than Professor Armstrong’s. As a consequence, global temperatures would need to average higher than they were in November for the remainder of the bet period. Temperature anomalies have exceeded that level in 9 months of the bet period to date.

Followers of the site may have noticed that we have not posted news items over the past few months. Please accept our apologies. Having overcome some software and administrative problems, we expect to be posting updates regularly for the remainder of the bet period.

08 Dec 16:40

Quote of the Week: McIntyre’s comment to Dilbert creator, Scott Adams, on climate “experts”

by Anthony Watts
Dilbert creator, Scott Adams wrote a post on his blog yesterday that is well worth reading in entirety: The Non-Expert Problem and Climate Change Science Adams notes: It seems to me that a majority of experts could be wrong whenever you have a pattern that looks like this: 1. A theory has been “adjusted” in the past…
08 Dec 15:50

What Happened?

As forecasters attempt to understand exactly what happened in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the data itself may hold vital clues.

07 Dec 22:39

Trump’s EPA pick is causing green heads to explode

by Anthony Watts
From E&E Legal: “We are delighted with President-elect Trump’s selection of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Mr. Pruitt has led the charge in recent years to confront head on the enormous federal regulatory overreach proposed by the EPA as epitomized by the Clean Power Plan and Waters…
07 Dec 19:07

What I learned from 100 days of rejection | Jia Jiang

by (TED Conferences LLC)
Jia Jiang adventures boldly into a territory so many of us fear: rejection. By seeking out rejection for 100 days -- from asking a stranger to borrow $100 to requesting a "burger refill" at a restaurant -- Jiang desensitized himself to the pain and shame that rejection often brings and, in the process, discovered that simply asking for what you want can open up possibilities where you expect to find dead ends.
07 Dec 18:57

The Dood Reviews Steemit!

steemit logo So, I finally got over 100 followers and decided to do a steemit review. I figured once I reached a hundred followers I would have a pretty good grasp of the platform and be able to write a fair review. I'll admit right now, when I first signed up on the platform I was more than a bit skeptical but as time progressed and I used the platform regularly I did end up falling in love with it. For anyone that may not know what Steemit is, it's a social network / blogging platform that pays you in cryptocurrency for your posts. Payment is made in the form of STEEM, which is the platforms cryptocurrency, and the amount you recieve is basically determined by the popularity of your posts and the amount of votes each post recieves. I should state two things right from the start. I was more than a bit skeptical when I first signed up, and I never read the white paper. My reasoning for not reading the white paper was simple. First off The Dood's a bit lazy at times and this was one more white paper that I'd have to read. Also, I wanted to look at this as just another social networking platform. Most people don't read the TOS/EULA of social sites like Pinterest, Facebook, and Google + and I wanted to approach this from an end user point of view. Most people aren't concerned with the inner workings of their social site, they just want it to work. With that said, my first impression was that Steemit was a sparse and under-developed platform. I did however keep in mind that the site was still in beta. This is made perfectly clear to all users with the company logo in the upper left hand corner of the site that reads, "Steemit beta". Fair enough, they're still working on it, and this was pretty obvious in August when I signed up. steemit beta On a side note, I actually signed up earlier with a different account but didn't take it seriously till STEEM hit $4.00 each on the exchanges and The Dood lost his password to his original account. At that time, people were still waiting to be allowed to cash out. I had earned $50.00 but just didn't take it seriously.You can bet I kicked myself in the ass when my 50 dollar account was now worth a couple hundred and I lost the password and couldn't cash out. Derp! First Steemit lesson learned, guard your Steemit password just like any other cryptocurrency wallet credentials. If you lose the password there is no recovery option. So I've been using the site for about 4 months since my initial rocky start. I can honestly say that the site continuosly and consistently improves with new features being added all the time. The once sparse site now allows users to include avatars, profile info in the header, sharing tools, and a way to keep track of followers along with many other improvements made over time. It's obvious that given enough time, Steemit will not only compare but probably surpass the user experience of just about any other social site available today. The blogging platform itself reminds me of a cross between Blogger and Reddit. You can post articles and content you create in a blog style format, and your followers can comment and share additional information with you in the comments section like on Reddit. Users have to be Steemit members in order to comment on posts and interact with other users. The interface is user freindly and comparable to anything you might find on Blogger or Wordpress. A first time user can use the built in editor to create a post, and more experienced users can use either markdown or html to format their posts. Either way the interface is fairly straight forward and intuitive allowing most people to create a well formated asthetically pleasing post on thier first attempt. Steemit editor One of the features I don't like and that many new users seem to have a problem with is image hosting. Images have to be hosted by a third party. This is easily remedied by using a service like Imgur but it can be a little overwhelming to new users. There are however many tutorials throughout the site that teaches you how to accomplish image hosting, and the friendly users or (Steemians) are extremely helpful to new users. My understanding without reading the white paper is that each post is hosted on the blockchain, and adding images to all that data would be a burden on the blockchain. This leads me to the people. Steemit users or Steemians are truley wonderful people. Most users are very polite, friendly, and eager to help new users get accustomed to the interface. Help is as simple as asking in a post or even leaving a comment asking for help. Most of the users I've interacted with on the site are very pleasant, and conversation and interaction is highly encouraged amongst users. The community is diverse and you can find just about any topic imaginable to talk about. Topics range from politics, cooking, health and wellness, to crafts, wildlife, cryptocurrency and just about anything else your brain can think of. As far as cryptocurrency wallets are concerned, the Steemit wallet is really easy to use.If you're transferring STEEM to another user it's as simple as entering their username, the amount of STEEM to send and entering your password. If you want to transfer to an exchange like Bittrex or Poloniex you just enter the exchange name and place an account number that you recieve from the exchange in the memo box so they no which wallet to put your STEEM in when it hits the exchange. This is a really easy process for people that know and understand how cryptocurrency works, but people new to cryptocurrency do seem to have a hard time getting set up on an exchange and learning how to move around cryptocurrency. Again the friendly community comes to the rescue and help is as easy as just making a post asking for people to help you. The community on Steemit is really great, friendly and helpful. The platform wallet breaks down into four ways to save your STEEM, you can save it as STEEM, STEEM Power which increases your voting power, and STEEM dollars which are always worth one dollar of STEEM. There is also a savings account you can use to save. This post is really about the steemit platform, but I've read that there are Windows and CLI or Command Line Interface wallets available for STEEM the cryptocurrency. Personally, I don't think this is an issue unless you start to acquire thousands of dollars worth of STEEM, and some people on the platform do. Then you might want to look at other ways of securing your earnings. Leaving large amounts of cryptocurrency in an exchange is never a good idea either. So I could go on and on about the platform and the Steemit wallet but this is a review and not meant to be a tutorial. If your really interested in how this all works I suggest you read the white paper, the link can be found at the bottom of the post. For the sake of not turning this review into a dissertation I'll finish up with some pros and cons. I'll start with the cons so I can end on a positive note and because there really isn't a huge downside to this platform. For some reason the wallet permissions give you 4 public and private key pairs. I don't understand what these are for and have never had to use anything other than the main password. I've heard these are important for future upgrades and services the platform will offer. For now they're just confusing. New users to cryptocurrency have a hard time using exchanges and cashing out. Although most people comfortable with using cryptocurrency will find it easy and intuitive, new users get a little nervous cashing out, transferring around their crypto and signing up on a exchange. It would be nice if there was an easier way for new users, this however is a problem that faces all cryptos in general. Post voting. I've experienced nothing but positive voting for the most part. I have heard some people complain about unfair voting practices when posting something controversial or extremely spammy so it's worthy of mentioning. I've had a couple downvotes but never experienced what some people might refer to as "Vote Bullying", but there are many people that complain about it. If a whale or someone who has accumulated a lot of STEEM Power in their wallet doesn't like your post they can downvote it. The voting system may not be perfect and may need some improvements over time but for the most part it seems to work. Again the devs are always tweaking things so I'm sure if this is a problem it will be remedied eventually. My final con and it's a big one for me from an investors stand point. The payout structure seems fair, but I don't understand it completely. Again, read the white paper. Now I want it understood that this isn't sour grapes or "oh I want more STEEM for my posts". Without naming names, some internet celebrities receive several hundred to over a thousad dollars for a single post. One guy made over $100,000 in a week posting on the platform. These payouts seem a little extreme. Some published authors don't even make this on their first book deal. These guys are making this with blog posts. For that I say congratulations, but this isn't my issue with it. My issue with this is that this will amount to millions of dollars of STEEM liquidity that sooner or later will be dumped back into the market. It would seem to me that if just one of these guys decided to dump all their coin, and these things happen from time to time, it would wreak havoc on the market price of STEEM. Maybe there's something in the white paper that safeguards against this, and I know users aren't allowed to cash out their STEEM Power all at once, but this just seems like a recipe for disaster and could explain the downward trend of STEEM since it was at $4.00 a coin back in July. Now for the pros! There's a lot of them. I started out as a skeptic and ended up a believer. I love the idea of people being rewarded for good original content and Steemit does that well. I love that it introduces many new people to cryptocurrency. I love the usability of the platform and the large audience you are instantly connected with. I love the simple easy to use wallet. I could go on and on with all the things I love but my suggestion would be to just sign up on the platform and see for yourself. It may take some time to build up your following, and may take some time to start earning STEEM, but in the end I think you'll find the experience fun and rewarding. On a final note, I would strongly encourage anyone into blogging and social networking to give the platform a try. The community is large and growing all the time, and most of the users are extremely friendly. From an investors stand point I'm real bearish on STEEM the currency. I'm watching the market closely and waiting to see a bottom start to form and consolidate before I even consider hodling as an investment long term. I hold some earnings in my wallet, transfer a small portion each day into STEEM Power, and trade the highs and lows on the exchanges regularly. Hey, a traders got to trade! It has proven to be a fun and volatile market to trade. My personal opinion is that if STEEM can maintain a healthy market, and the dev team continues to improve on the platform at the rate they currently are, Steemit should have a long healthy life in the cryptosphere. Regardless of the end, this will be a history making project that will probably change the face of social networking as we know it. Steem on brothers and sisters! Steem on! If you want to find out more about Steemit you can use these links. Thanks for reading and hope you decide to follow me on Steemit! Steemit White Paper Sign up on Steemit Follow The Dood on Steemit I thought about doing this as a Steemit exclusive but then I thought it was silly to do a Steemit review and post it solely on Steemit. Everyone here already knows what Steemit is like. Anyway, this was also posted to The Dood's blog where my verified badge is also proudly displayed in the sidebar of my blog as POD or Proof of Dood! Thanks for following, reading and your support! The Dood really appreciates it man! ![](
07 Dec 15:41

2017 Social Media Predictions are Missing a Game Changer # Sometimes a Disruptive Technology is in Front of Your Face and You Still Can't See It. # Many of the social media professionals who wrote in their predictions for this article, ["2017 Predictions for Social Media and Content Marketing"]( are connected with me all over social media. I have known most of them for four years or more. Anabell and I have great respect for our peers. Without their trail breaking I would probably not be as successful as I am today. ## Predictions for Social Media in 2017 that are Huge. ## 1. User Generated Content will Continue to Grow. 2. Data Mining will Grow as Companies Try to Improve the Bottom Line. 3. Video will Continue to Grow. 4. Live Streaming will Mature. 5. Our Mobile Device is Where the Action Will Be. 6. Automation will Increase 7. Content Needs to be Top Notch in the Attention Economy. 8. Influencer Marketing will Increase for Brands. 9. Niche Marketing will Flourish. ## My Predictions for Social Media in 2017. ## ### 1. 2016 was the first instance of a successful launch of a Blockchain based social media platform. The success of Steemit in 2017 will attract attention from the media. [Neil Strauss of Rolling Stone]( was just the first influencer to notice. It was great meeting you Neil! ### 2. When top notch content producers realize they can have another revenue stream via sites like [Steemit]( or []( they will flock to the platforms. Why would I post my content on Medium first when I could earn income on a site like Steemit? I then can repost my content on Medium with a link back to the original content on the blockchain. ### 3. User content will shift to paid in the attention economy. Youtube was the first successful test of paying content creators. Now we will see it for every aspect of content creation. ### 4. The ability of blockchain companies to offer almost instantaneous digital money transfers via mobile wallets will bring millions of the unbanked into the world of content creation. Imagine a young woman in Venezuela who earns less than $1 a day at her job earning an extra $100 a month via Steemit converting that Steem currency to Bitcoin and buying products on Amazon sent directly to her home. Oh wait there are people already doing it in Venezuela! Look at [@luisucv34]( as a perfect example. ### 5. Social media companies will continue to struggle to find new ways to profit off the use of their social networks. I believe we will see a continued shift of companies like Facebook forcing users to stay on its platforms and a throttling of content with links off platform. ### 6. Censorship will continue unabated as pressure from government and media companies force social media companies to crack down on any content they deem does not fit their narrative. Forcing content producers to seek alternatives. ### 7. Steemit will be the platform that brings flocks of non crypto currency users to blockchain technology. ## An Amazing Conversation I had Last Night. ## Anabell and I were at a hotel in old town Panama City and we struck up a conversation with a local lawyer. She was in her early 30's. I asked her if she knew what Bitcoin was and if she was using it yet. She said, "what is it?" Ten minutes later she is wide-eyed and super excited to start using it for herself and her business. She said she could speed up her business many times over and maneuver around currency controls in countries like Venezuela. I showed her our [Wirex Bitcoin debit card]( I showed her how to open a Bitcoin wallet. We told her about the Bitcoin embassy we will be opening in Panama City and she was thrilled. The key is that most people still have no idea about blockchain technology, Bitcoin or even social media platforms like Steemit. When they take the time to learn they will be blown away! I think you will be also.
06 Dec 21:18

Climate Heretic: to be or not to be?

by curryja

by Judith Curry

On experts, lukewarmers, and unhappy heretics.

Shortly after I started Climate Etc. in 2010, Scientific American published an article Climate Heretic Judith Curry Turns on Her Colleagues. I responded with a blog post Heresy and the Creation of Monsters. Climate heresy, in response to the consensus climate change dogma, has been a major motivation and theme at Climate Etc.

This past week, there have been two terrific articles on  climate heresy and heretics.

Scott Adams – The non-expert problem

Scott Adams of Dilbert fame has published an astonishingly insightful article: The non-expert problem and climate change science. Excerpts:

Before I start, let me say as clearly as possible that I agree with the scientific consensus on climate change. I endorse the scientific consensus on climate change to protect my career and reputation. To do otherwise would be dumb, at least in my situation.

If you have been involved in any climate change debates online or in person, you know they always take the following trajectory: Climate science believers state that all the evidence, and 98% of scientists, are on the same side. Then skeptics provide links to credible-sounding articles that say the science is bunk, and why. How the heck can you – a non-expert – judge who is right?

You probably default to trusting whatever the majority of scientists tell you. But how reliable are experts, even when they are mostly on the same side?

Ask the majority of polling experts who said Trump had only a 2% chance of becoming president. Ask the experts who said the government’s historical “food pyramid” was good science. What you really want to know is whether climate change looks more like the sort of thing that turns out to be right or the sort of thing that turns out to be wrong.

It seems to me that a majority of experts could be wrong whenever you have a pattern that looks like this:

  1. A theory has been “adjusted” in the past to maintain the conclusion even though the data has changed.
  2. Prediction models are complicated.
  3. The models require human judgment to decide how variables should be treated.
  4. There is a severe social or economic penalty for having the “wrong” opinion in the field.
  5. There are so many variables that can be measured – and so many that can be ignored – that you can produce any result you want by choosing what to measure and what to ignore.
  6. The argument from the other side looks disturbingly credible.

I’m a trained hypnotist and I have studied the methods of persuasion for years. No one is using reason, facts, or common sense to arrive at a decision about climate science. Here’s what you are using to arrive at your decision:

  1. Fear
  2. Unwarranted trust in experts
  3. Pattern recognition

On the question of fear, in my experience, any danger we humans see coming far in the future we always find a way to fix.

On the question of trusting experts, I see experts as far less credible than most people assume.

And when it comes to pattern recognition, I see the climate science skeptics within the scientific community as being similar to Shy Trump Supporters. The fact that a majority of scientists agree with climate science either means the evidence is one-sided or the social/economic pressures are high. And as we can plainly see, the cost of disagreeing with climate science is unreasonably high if you are a scientist.

And if the risk of climate change isn’t real, I will say I knew it all along because climate science matches all of the criteria for a mass hallucination by experts. 

Roger Pielke Jr – My unhappy life as a climate heretic

Roger Pielke Jr has published a stunning op-ed in the WSJ – My unhappy life as a climate heretic.  Excerpts:

Much to my surprise, I showed up in the WikiLeaks releases before the election. In a 2014 email, a staffer at the Center for American Progress, founded by John Podesta in 2003, took credit for a campaign to have me eliminated as a writer for Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight website. In the email, the editor of the think tank’s climate blog bragged to one of its billionaire donors, Tom Steyer: “I think it’s fair [to] say that, without Climate Progress, Pielke would still be writing on climate change for 538.”

WikiLeaks provides a window into a world I’ve seen up close for decades: the debate over what to do about climate change, and the role of science in that argument.

When substantively countering an academic’s research proves difficult, other techniques are needed to banish it. That is how politics sometimes works, and professors need to understand this if we want to participate in that arena.

More troubling is the degree to which journalists and other academics joined the campaign against me.

I believe climate change is real and that human emissions of greenhouse gases risk justifying action, including a carbon tax. But my research led me to a conclusion that many climate campaigners find unacceptable: There is scant evidence to indicate that hurricanes, floods, tornadoes or drought have become more frequent or intense in the U.S. or globally. My conclusion might be wrong, but I think I’ve earned the right to share this research without risk to my career.

Instead, my research was under constant attack for years by activists, journalists and politicians.

Or look at the journalists who helped push me out of FiveThirtyEight. My first article there, in 2014, . . . pointed out that the global cost of disasters was increasing at a rate slower than GDP growth, which is very good news. Disasters still occur, but their economic and human effect is smaller than in the past.

That article prompted an intense media campaign to have me fired. Writers at Slate, Salon, the New Republic, the New York Times, the Guardian and others piled on.

In March of 2014, FiveThirtyEight editor Mike Wilson demoted me from staff writer to freelancer. A few months later I chose to leave the site after it became clear it wouldn’t publish me. The mob celebrated.  Penn State’s Michael Mann called my departure a “victory for climate truth.” The Center for American Progress promised its donor Mr. Steyer more of the same. 

Yet the climate thought police still weren’t done. In 2013 committees in the House and Senate invited me to a several hearings to summarize the science on disasters and climate change.

In early 2014, not long after I appeared before Congress, President Obama’s science adviser John Holdren testified before the same Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. He was asked about his public statements that appeared to contradict the scientific consensus on extreme weather events that I had earlier presented. Mr. Holdren followed up by posting a strange essay, of nearly 3,000 words, on the White House website under the heading, “An Analysis of Statements by Roger Pielke Jr.,” where it remains today.

I suppose it is a distinction of a sort to be singled out in this manner by the president’s science adviser. Yet Mr. Holdren’s screed reads more like a dashed-off blog post from the nutty wings of the online climate debate, chock-full of errors and misstatements.

But when the White House puts a target on your back on its website, people notice. Almost a year later Mr. Holdren’s missive was the basis for an investigation of me by Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee. Rep. Grijalva explained in a letter to my university’s president that I was being investigated because Mr. Holdren had “highlighted what he believes were serious misstatements by Prof. Pielke of the scientific consensus on climate change.”

The “investigation” turned out to be a farce. My heretical views can be traced to research support from the U.S. government. 

But the damage to my reputation had been done, and perhaps that was the point.

But the lesson is that a lone academic is no match for billionaires, well-funded advocacy groups, the media, Congress and the White House. If academics—in any subject—are to play a meaningful role in public debate, the country will have to do a better job supporting good-faith researchers, even when their results are unwelcome. This goes for Republicans and Democrats alike, and to the administration of President-elect Trump.

Academics and the media in particular should support viewpoint diversity instead of serving as the handmaidens of political expediency by trying to exclude voices or damage reputations and careers. If academics and the media won’t support open debate, who will?

Matt Ridley – My Life as a Lukewarmer.

In response to RP Jr’s op-ed, Matt Ridley tweeted the link to a comparable essay he wrote in 2015 –   My Life as a Lukewarmer. Excerpts:

I am a climate lukewarmer. That means I think recent global warming is real, mostly man-made and will continue but I no longer think it is likely to be dangerous and I think its slow and erratic progress so far is what we should expect in the future.

This view . . . is even more infuriating to most publicly funded scientists and politicians, who insist climate change is a big risk.

I was even kept off the shortlist for a part-time, unpaid public-sector appointment in a field unrelated to climate because of having this view, or so the headhunter thought. In the climate debate, paying obeisance to climate scaremongering is about as mandatory for a public appointment, or public funding, as being a Protestant was in 18th-century England.

I was not always a lukewarmer. When I first started writing about the threat of global warming more than 26 years ago, as science editor of The Economist, I thought it was a genuinely dangerous threat.

Gradually, however, I changed my mind. What sealed my apostasy from climate alarm was the extraordinary history of the famous “hockey stick” graph, which purported to show that today’s temperatures were higher and changing faster than at any time in the past thousand years. I began to read the work of two Canadian researchers, Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick.

What shocked me more was the scientific establishment’s reaction to this: it tried to pretend that nothing was wrong. And then a flood of emails was leaked in 2009 showing some climate scientists apparently scheming to withhold data, prevent papers being published, get journal editors sacked and evade freedom-of-information requests, much as sceptics had been alleging. That was when I began to re-examine everything I had been told about climate change and, the more I looked, the flakier the prediction of rapid warming seemed.

The policies being proposed to combat climate change, far from being a modest insurance policy, are proving ineffective, expensive, harmful to poor people and actually bad for the environment: we are tearing down rainforests to grow biofuels and ripping up peat bogs to install windmills that still need fossil-fuel back-up. Some insurance policy.

To begin with, after I came out as a lukewarmer, I would get genuine critiques from scientists who disagreed with me and wanted to exchange views. They often resorted to meta-arguments, especially the argument from authority: if the Royal Society says it is alarmed, then you should be alarmed. If I want argument from authority, I replied, I will join the Catholic Church.

One by one, many of the most prominent people in the climate debate began to throw vitriolic playground abuse at me. I was “paranoid”, “specious”, “risible”, “self-defaming”, “daft”, “lying”, “irrational”, an “idiot”. Their letters to the editor or their blog responses asserted that I was “error-riddled” or had seriously misrepresented something, but then they not only failed to substantiate the charge but often roughly confirmed what I had written.

Talking of the committee on climate change, last year Lord Deben commissioned an entire report to criticise something I had said. Among other howlers, it included a quotation from the IPCC but the quote had a large chunk cut from the middle. When this cut was restored the line supported me, not Lord Deben. When I pointed this out politely to Lord Deben, he refused to restore the excision and left the document unchanged on the committee’s website.

I suppose all this fury means my arguments are hitting home.

I have never met a climate sceptic, let alone a lukewarmer, who wants his opponents silenced. I wish I could say the same of those who think climate change is an alarming prospect.

JC reflections

The truly astonishing thing about all this is how little climate heretics – such as myself, Roger Pielke, and Matt Ridley – actually diverge from the consensus science position: RP Jr. hews strictly to the IPCC consensus; Matt Ridley is on the lukewarm side of the IPCC consensus, and I have stated that the uncertainties are too large to justify high confidence in the consensus statements.

RP Jr and Matt Ridley provide appalling examples of the personal and arguably unethical attacks from other scientists, journalists, elected politicians and others with government appointments.

Scott Adams provides some genuine (and as always, humorous) insights into the psychology behind the dynamics of the climate debate.

As to the question: to be or not to be a climate heretic?

I’m planning a climate heretic blog post shortly after the first of the year. After seeing RP Jr’s title, perhaps I will title it ‘Happy Heretic’ (stay tuned). Here’s to hoping that the Age of Trump will herald the demise of climate change dogma  and acceptance of a broader range of perspectives on climate science and our policy options .

Filed under: Sociology of science
06 Dec 19:50

Nullify Chapter 10: Jury Nullification, The Last Line of Defense

by Michael Boldin

TAC memberships help us produce more educational tools like this. Members can download this video and read the full transcript at this link.

Jury nullification is the last line of defense, and can turn around even the worst situation.

Watch More of This Series at this link


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05 Dec 18:15

The Left's Coming Counter-Attack

Remember how the Soviets handled their defeat in the Cold War?  Now is not the time to get complacent.
05 Dec 16:41

Mathematician: Fluctuating Light in Distant Star May be Aliens 'Star Mining'

A math professor in Germany has come up with a possible explanation for the mysterious brightening and dimming of Tabby's Star:It's being mined for energy by an alien civilization.
05 Dec 12:35

Virgin Galactic's new spaceship completes its first glide test

by Jon Fingas

h/t Roumen.ganeff

Virgin Galactic just came much closer to resuming its dreams of private spaceflight in the wake of its tragic crash from 2014. The company has successfully conducted the first glide test flight for VSS Unity, better known as the new SpaceShipTwo. The...
04 Dec 22:30

Oh Holy Night (Cantique de Noel) Piano Performance


My son on piano again.

Hello everyone, this is the next post in my series of Christmas song performances leading up to Christmas. I will be performing this song on the 15th for my church, so please let me know how I did in this video. Who knows, maybe I'll upload a video of the performance. Anyway, this is  one of the most famous Christmas songs. I don't know why, but in the last few years it has grown in popularity. Maybe it was the Josh Groban cover. Here is Cantique de Noel (Oh Holy Night) composed by: Adolphe Adam, performed by me.

[Image Source:, License: CCO Public Domain]  

Please leave feedback, and check back tomorrow for the Art of War review.

 Also remember to check for: My weekly 7 post, and my weekly piano performance of Christmas pieces.  

04 Dec 22:14

The Meaning of Emolument

by Michael D. Ramsey

There’s been much talk recently about the foreign emoluments clause, and probably someone has made the following point, but I’ve not seen it.  The clause provides:

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

I assume for purposes of this post that the clause applies to the President (although, as noted here, Seth Barrett Tillman makes a strong textualist/originalist argument to the contrary).  Applied to President-elect Trump, I assume Trump will not accept any “Office, or Title”; “present[s]” can be dealt with individually and in any event wouldn’t encompass his business dealings as a whole.   So the key word is “Emolument.”

The modern definition of emolument does not seem to cover anything we should reasonably worry about Trump receiving. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, for example, defines emolument as “the returns arising from office or employment usually in the form of compensation or perquisites.” has it as “profit, salary, or fees from office or employment; compensation for services.”  The Oxford English Dictionary similarly defines emolument as “A salary, fee, or profit from employment or office.” (And these definitions are consistent with the way “emolument[s]” is used elsewhere in the Constitution, where it could mean simply salary or other payment for employment.) If that’s the right constitutional definition, I don’t see what the fuss is about. Trump’s business dealings, whatever they may be, don’t amount to compensation for employment.

It’s often said, however,  that words can change their meanings over time, and this may be an example.  Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary (1755) defines “emolument” much more broadly as “Profit; advantage.” (And indeed, the modern Merriam-Webster entry linked above gives an “archaic” definition of emolument as “advantage.”)

Regardless of what other eighteenth-century dictionaries say (I haven’t done an extensive search), the broad definition in Johnson’s work seems enough to raise an inference of a broad use in the foreign emoluments clause — especially since, as a policy matter, it might seem odd to limit the prohibition to gifts and salaries, and the subsequent phrase “of any kind whatever” indicates that in choosing between a narrow and broad meaning, one should choose the broad one.  On this reading, Trump’s business dealings might well include “advantages” obtained from foreign states.

So perhaps Trump will need to rely on Professor Tillman’s argument after all. But I also like the fact that Trump’s opponents will need to rely on an eighteenth century dictionary.

NOTEThis post was originally published at The Originalism Blog, “The Blog of the Center for the Study of Constitutional Originalism at the University of San Diego School of Law,” and is reposted here with permission from the author.

04 Dec 04:04

SHOCK: The ‘Father of global warming’, James Hansen, dials back alarm

by Anthony Watts
James Hansen: We Have a Little More Time After All (Whew!) By Robert Bradley Jr. “Contrary to the impression favored by governments, the corner has not been turned toward declining emissions and GHG amounts…. Negative CO2 emissions, i. e., extraction of CO2 from the air, is now required.” – James Hansen, “Young People’s Burden.” October…
03 Dec 20:25

Court Awards Damages Following Bogus DMCA Takedowns


h/t Roumen.ganeff

What's that you say? You can actually fight back against bogus copyright takedowns and win? That's exactly what happened in this case and the guy was even awarded damages. Topdawg Entertainment Inc., Interscope Records and Universal Music Group must pay damages after issuing false DMCA notices which damaged an artist's reputation. Montreal hip hop artist Jonathan Emile teamed up with Kendrick Lamar on a track, but the labels wrongfully took it down from YouTube, iTunes and Soundcloud. Comments
03 Dec 20:22

Using Spartacus to Teach the Importance of Critical Thinking

I teach World History to high school students with learning disabilities. Nearly all of my pupils have severe reading deficits. Although this makes it challenging to expose them to a variety of sources (which of course include written material), I have found several ways around this. There are many ways for students to learn. There are just as many ways for them to practice analyzing a myriad of sources. One of my favorite types of sources to use to facilitate this learning is Hollywood movies. Although there are many excellent historical documentaries, those do not have the same impact on my students as ones made to entertain an audience. In other words, documentaries put my teenage students to sleep. Each year at the end of our unit on ancient Rome, I always show the 1960 movie *Spartacus*.
Why do invest so much class time in a 56 year old movie with terrible special effects and actors many of my students' *parents* haven’t even heard of? For one, it is seen as one of the greatest movies ever made. The film routinely finds itself on lists of the top 100 movies of all time. Therefore, I feel I am exposing them to quality art. They can benefit just by thinking about and discussing the challenges that went into making a war movie in 1960… before CGI and green screens. On the surface, the movie is the true story of a heroic slave who rises up against the all powerful Roman Empire. After viewing this, students discuss the evils of slavery and get to see that many civilizations used slaves to build their “Empire”. For students in the U.S., when someone says the word “slave”, they immediately picture slaves from Africa being brought to the Americas. This movie provides evidence that many different groups have been enslaved through out history. I also use the movie to spark discussion of heroes. World History can be a very depressing topic. So much of the content is based on war and death. It is good for my students to see examples of people standing up to tyranny and evil. Almost none of them have seen the movie before, so when the slaves each stand up and shout “I am Spartacus!” rather than betray their hero, my students are emotionally moved (and I get teary eyed *every* time). *Kirk Douglas as Spartacus*
Anything that can emotionally move a teenager has value. Some of the best conversations we have in class occur after this scene. I truly enjoy hearing what my students think about the reason why the slaves did this for Spartacus. I ask what characteristics a person needs to have in order to earn that type of respect. I hope my students consider developing some of these characteristics in themselves and seeking out others who have these traits. Although I am a huge fan of the hero theme, the true value of watching *Spartacus* is in all of the political intrigue that occurs in the movie. Yes it is a war movie. But the trickery and backstabbing between the members of the government is fascinating. I could try to explain that these types of things happen in government… or I could show them. *Spartacus* allows me to do just that. It provides a visual and engaging way to demonstrate complicated politics. In the film, there are two main political rivals. Crassus represents the rich oligarchy, while Gracchus seems to try to stand up for the common man’s freedom (he’s still rich of course). Much of the story is driven by their rivalry. *Laurence Olivier as Crassus*
When we are first introduced to Crassus, he brags that he has bribed the Senate in order to make his friend the leader of the garrison of Rome. When I ask my students why Crassus would do this, they immediately make the connection that Crassus wants military power and is using his friend as a puppet. *Charles Laughton as Gracchus*
Later Gracchus turns the tables on his rival by tricking the puppet to leave Rome in pursuit of Spartacus. Again my students immediately understand that this politician is using flowery words and a public spectacle to gain a political advantage. If they can recognize this in a film, perhaps they will recognize it in real life as well. These political games continue throughout the movie. Later, Crassus tries to use the threat of Spartacus’s army to force the elected Senate to appoint him as the dictator of Rome. Throughout the remainder of the World History course, there are several similar real life examples of leaders gaining total power due to fear. My students are able to relate these more modern examples back to the events of *Spartacus*. The movie helps provide a framework for the students' understanding of these more current examples. My students also get to see the political rival try to block his enemy's ascension to dictator. Gracchus tries one last effort to block Crassus from gaining power. He tries to assure that the slave army will escape. Some would see this as treason… yet Gracchus attempts this in order to prevent Crassus from taking the power form the people. This part of the story always leads to great discussions on the value of freedom. I challenge my students to *think* about how far they would go to assure their freedom. Ultimately, Crassus’ wealth and power is simply too much to overcome and he succeeds in his efforts to become the sole leader of Rome. This leads to discussion of how wealth and power can be related. *Being the richest man alive was not enough for Crassus. He wanted power as well... and did whatever it took to get it.*
My students are able to critically analyze the actions of these political rivals. They are able to see that in politics, not everything is as it seems. A citizen must truly research politicians to see what their real motives are. They must examine their words and determine if they are honest or merely carefully chosen in order to sway the population. In short… people must think. When we have these conversations, I am very careful never to take sides. It is not my place to say which way of thinking is better. It is my job to challenge my students to think for themselves and then come up with their own opinions. This movie provides them with material on which to practice their thinking skills. I am always impressed by their willingness and ability to try to stretch their minds. Although it is true that there are many books or other resources that can be used to teach this valuable lesson… I choose to use *Spartacus*. Whenever I run into former students, we never talk about the text book or notes. We always talk about the movies we watched. So far, none of my students have forgotten the lessons taught by this film. And besides, watching it also gives me an excuse to show them this…
*Image Links* [1](, [2](, [3](, [4](, [5](
02 Dec 17:37

1875: The Global Warming Solution

The new lifestyle requirements for believers in the theory.
02 Dec 16:29

You Opposed Donald Trump, So Why Aren't You Freaking Out?: New at Reason

by Reason Staff

Click through to the Harsanyi article.

"You opposed Donald Trump, so why aren't you freaking out?"

David Harsanyi answers:

Well, for starters, allowing liberals to determine my level of anxiety—which would be full-blown, round-the-clock histrionics—over what's nothing more than another election would be foolish. Until it's not. The era of Trump hasn't even started yet, and the entire establishment keeps using the term "era of Trump" as if things have actually changed.

They haven't. If you're genuinely interesting in being an effective critic of the next president, acting like Adolf Hitler is pounding at your doorstep every time Trump tweets something might not be the most effective plan in the long run.

Not to mention, the left has been such an astonishing hypocrite on so many issues related to Trump that it's a bit difficult to move forward without pointing it out. Joining activists who've spent years attacking the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth and Tenth Amendments—and now the Electoral College—in a newfound veneration of the Emoluments Clause is a bit much. Of course, Trump should be held accountable for his potential conflicts of interest, and one hopes conservatives who value good government will stand up when tangible evidence emerges that they exist. But the critics on the left aren't serious about the Constitution. They're serious about the Democratic Party.

View this article.