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12 Jan 18:29

Recent CO2 Climate Sensitivity Estimates Continue Trending Towards Zero

by Kenneth Richard

Updated: The Shrinking

CO2 Climate Sensitivity

A recently highlighted paper published by atmospheric scientists Scafetta et al., (2017) featured a graph (above) documenting post-2000 trends in the published estimates of the Earth’s climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 concentrations (from 280 parts per million to 560 ppm).

The trajectory for the published estimates of transient climate response (TCR, the average temperature response centered around the time of CO2 doubling) and equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS, the temperature response upon reaching an equilibrium state after doubling) are shown to be declining from an average of about 3°C earlier in the century to below 2°C and edging towards 1°C for the more recent years.

This visual evidence would appear to indicate that past climate model determinations of very high climate sensitivity (4°C, 5°C, 6°C and up) have increasingly been determined to be in error.  The anthropogenic influence on the Earth’s surface temperature has likely been significantly exaggerated.

Scafetta et al., 2017   Since 2000 there has been a systematic tendency to find lower climate sensitivity values. The most recent studies suggest a transient climate response (TCR) of about 1.0 °C, an ECS less than 2.0 °C and an effective climate sensitivity (EfCS) in the neighborhood of 1.0 °C.”

Thus, all evidences suggest that the IPCC GCMs at least increase twofold or even triple the real anthropogenic warming. The GHG theory might even require a deep re-examination.”

An Update On The Gradually Declining Climate Sensitivity

The graph shown in Scafetta et al. (2017) ends in 2014, which means that papers published in the last 3 years are not included.   Also, there were several other published climate sensitivity papers from the last decade that were excluded from the analysis, possibly because they did not include and/or specify TCR and/or ECS estimates in isolation, but instead just used a generic doubled-CO2 climate sensitivity value (shown in purple here).

Below is a new, updated graph that (1) includes some of the previously unidentified papers and (2) adds the 10 – 12 climate sensitivity papers published in the last 3 years.  Notice, again, that the trend found in published papers has continued downwards, gradually heading towards zero.  The reference list for the over 20 additional papers used for the updated analysis is also included below.

For a more comprehensive list of over 60 papers with very low (<1°C) climate sensitivity estimates, see here.

Reinhart, 2017 (<0.24°C)

Our results permit to conclude that CO2 is a very weak greenhouse gas and cannot be accepted as the main driver of climate change. … The assumption of a constant temperature and black body radiation definitely violates reality and even the principles of thermodynamics. … [W]e conclude that the temperature increases predicted by the IPCC AR5 lack robust scientific justification. … A doubling [to 800 ppm] of the present level of CO2 [400 ppm] results in  [temperature change] < 0.24 K. … [T]he scientific community must look for causes of climate change that can be solidly based on physics and chemistry. … The observed temperature increase since pre-industrial times is close to an order of magnitude higher than that attributable to CO2.

Abbot and Marohasy, 2017  (0.6°C equilibrium)

The largest deviation between the ANN [artificial neural network] projections and measured temperatures for six geographically distinct regions was approximately 0.2 °C, and from this an Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (ECS) of approximately 0.6 °C [for a doubling of CO2 from 280 ppm to 560 ppm plus feedbacks] was estimated. This is considerably less than estimates from the General Circulation Models (GCMs) used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and similar to estimates from spectroscopic methods.
The proxy measurements suggest New Zealand’s climate has fluctuated within a band of approximately 2°C since at least 900 AD, as shown in Figure 2. The warming of nearly 1°C since 1940 falls within this band. The discrepancy between the orange and blue lines in recent decades as shown in Figure 3, suggests that the anthropogenic contribution to this warming could be in the order of approximately 0.2°C. [80% of the warming since 1940 may be due natural factors].

 Harde, 2016 (0.7°C equilibrium)

Including solar and cloud effects as well as all relevant feedback processes our simulations give an equilibrium climate sensitivity of CS = 0.7 °C (temperature increase at doubled CO2) and a solar sensitivity of SS = 0.17 °C (at 0.1 % increase of the total solar irradiance). Then CO2 contributes 40 % and the Sun 60 % to global warming over the last century.

Bates, 2016  (~1°C)

Estimates of 2xCO2 equilibrium climate sensitivity (EqCS) derive from running global climate models (GCMs) to equilibrium. Estimates of effective climate sensitivity (EfCS) are the corresponding quantities obtained using transient GCM output or observations. The EfCS approach uses an accompanying energy balance model (EBM), the zero-dimensional model (ZDM) being standard. GCM values of EqCS and EfCS vary widely [IPCC range: (1.5, 4.5)°C] and have failed to converge over the past 35 years. Recently, attempts have been made to refine the EfCS approach by using two-zone (tropical/extratropical) EBMs. When applied using satellite radiation data, these give low and tightly-constrained EfCS values, in the neighbourhood of 1°C. … The central conclusion of this study is that to disregard the low values of effective climate sensitivity (≈1°C) given by observations on the grounds that they do not agree with the larger values of equilibrium, or effective, climate sensitivity given by GCMs, while the GCMs themselves do not properly represent the observed value of the tropical radiative response coefficient, is a standpoint that needs to be reconsidered.

Evans, 2016 (<0.5°C equilibrium)

The conventional basic climate model applies “basic physics” to climate, estimating sensitivity to CO2. However, it has two serious architectural errors. It only allows feedbacks in response to surface warming, so it omits the driver-specific feedbacks. It treats extra-absorbed sunlight, which heats the surface and increases outgoing long-wave radiation (OLR), the same as extra CO2, which reduces OLR from carbon dioxide in the upper atmosphere but does not increase the total OLR. The rerouting feedback is proposed. An increasing CO2 concentration warms the upper troposphere, heating the water vapor emissions layer and some cloud tops, which emit more OLR and descend to lower and warmer altitudes. This feedback resolves the nonobservation of the “hotspot.” An alternative model is developed, whose architecture fixes the errors. By summing the (surface) warmings due to climate drivers, rather than their forcings, it allows driver-specific forcings and allows a separate CO2 response (the conventional model applies the same response, the solar response, to all forcings). It also applies a radiation balance, estimating OLR from properties of the emission layers. Fitting the climate data to the alternative model, we find that the equilibrium climate sensitivity is most likely less than 0.5°C, increasing CO2 most likely caused less than 20% of the global warming from the 1970s, and the CO2 response is less than one-third as strong as the solar response. The conventional model overestimates the potency of CO2 because it applies the strong solar response instead of the weak CO2response to the CO2 forcing.

Gervais, 2016 [full]  (<0.6°C transient)

Conclusion: Dangerous anthropogenic warming is questioned (i) upon recognition of the large amplitude of the natural 60–year cyclic component and (ii) upon revision downwards of the transient climate response consistent with latest tendencies shown in Fig. 1, here found to be at most 0.6 °C once the natural component has been removed, consistent with latest infrared studies (Harde, 2014). Anthropogenic warming well below the potentially dangerous range were reported in older and recent studies (Idso, 1998; Miskolczi, 2007; Paltridge et al., 2009; Gerlich and Tscheuschner, 2009; Lindzen and Choi, 2009, 2011; Spencer and Braswell, 2010; Clark, 2010; Kramm and Dlugi, 2011; Lewis and Curry, 2014; Skeie et al., 2014; Lewis, 2015; Volokin and ReLlez, 2015). On inspection of a risk of anthropogenic warming thus toned down, a change of paradigm which highlights a benefit for mankind related to the increase of plant feeding and crops yields by enhanced CO2 photosynthesis is suggested.

Marvel et al., 2016 (1.8°C transient, 3.0°C equilibrium)

Assuming that all forcings have the same transient efficacy as greenhouse gases, and following a previous study, the best estimate (median) for TCR is 1.3°C. However, scaling each forcing by our estimates of transient efficacy (determined from either iRF or ERF), we obtain a best estimate for TCR of 1.8°C. This scaling simultaneously considers both forcing and ocean heat uptake efficacy. Other estimates of TCR which differ slightly due to choices of base period and uncertainty estimates and the aerosol forcing used, are similarly revised upward when using calculated efficacies.  We apply the same reasoning to estimates of ECS. Using an estimate4 of the rate of recent heat uptake Q = 0.65 ± 0.27 W m-2, we find, assuming all equilibrium efficacies are unity, a best estimate of ECS = 2.0°C, comparable to the previous result of 1.9°C.  However, as with TCR, accounting for differences in equilibrium forcing efficacy revises the estimate upward; our new best estimate (using efficacies derived from the iRF) is 2.9°C. If efficacies are instead calculated from the ERF, the best estimate of ECS is 3.0°C. As for TCR, alternate estimates of ECS are revised upward when efficacies are taken into account.

Soon, Connolly, and Connolly, 2015 [full] (0.44°C)

Nonetheless, let us ignore the negative relationship with greenhouse gas (GHG) radiative forcing, and assume the carbon dioxide (CO2) relationship is valid. If atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have risen by ~110 ppmv since 1881 (i.e., 290→400 ppmv), this would imply that carbon dioxide (CO2) is responsible for a warming of at most 0.0011 × 110 = 0.12°C over the 1881-2014 period, where 0.0011 is the slope of the line in Figure 29(a). We can use this relationship to calculate the so-called “climate sensitivity” to carbon dioxide, i.e., the temperature response to a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide. According to this model, if atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were to increase by ~400 ppmv, this would contribute to at most 0.0011 × 400 = 0.44°C warming. That is, the climate sensitivity to atmospheric carbon dioxide is at most 0.44°C.

Lewis and Curry, 2015 (1.33°C  transient, 1.64°C  equilibrium)

Energy budget estimates of equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) and transient climate response (TCR) are derived using the comprehensive 1750–2011 time series and the uncertainty ranges for forcing components provided in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Working Group I Report, along with its estimates of heat accumulation in the climate system. The resulting estimates are less dependent on global climate models and allow more realistically for forcing uncertainties than similar estimates based on forcings diagnosed from simulations by such models. Base and final periods are selected that have well matched volcanic activity and influence from internal variability. Using 1859–1882 for the base period and 1995–2011 for the final period, thus avoiding major volcanic activity, median estimates are derived for ECS of 1.64 K and for TCR of 1.33 K.

Johansson et al., 2015 (2.5°C  equilibrium)

A key uncertainty in projecting future climate change is the magnitude of equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS), that is, the eventual increase in global annual average surface temperature in response to a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration. The lower bound of the likely range for ECS given in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report was revised downwards to 1.5 °C, from 2 °C in its previous report, mainly as an effect of considering observations over the warming hiatus—the period of slowdown of global average temperature increase since the early 2000s. Here we analyse how estimates of ECS change as observations accumulate over time and estimate the contribution of potential causes to the hiatus. We find that including observations over the hiatus reduces the most likely value for ECS from 2.8 °C to 2.5 °C, but that the lower bound of the 90% range remains stable around 2 °C. We also find that the hiatus is primarily attributable to El Niño/Southern Oscillation-related variability and reduced solar forcing.

Kissin, 2015 (~0.6°C)

[A] doubling the CO2 concentration in the Earth’s atmosphere would lead to an increase of the surface temperature by about +0.5 to 0.7 °C, hardly an effect calling for immediate drastic changes in the planet’s energy policies. An increase in the absolute air humidity caused by doubling the CO2 concentration and the resulting decrease of the outgoing IR flux would produce a relatively small additional effect due to a strong overlap of IR spectral bands of CO2 and H2O, the two compounds primarily responsible for the greenhouse properties of the atmosphere.

Kimoto, 2015  [full] (~0.16°C)

The central dogma is critically evaluated in the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory of the IPCC, claiming the Planck response is 1.2K when CO2 is doubled. The first basis of it is one dimensional model studies with the fixed lapse rate assumption of 6.5K/km. It is failed from the lack of the parameter sensitivity analysis of the lapse rate for CO2 doubling. The second basis is the Planck response calculation by Cess in 1976 having a mathematical error. Therefore, the AGW theory is collapsed along with the canonical climate sensitivity of 3K utilizing the radiative forcing of 3.7W/m2 for CO2 doubling. The surface climate sensitivity is 0.14 – 0.17 K in this study with the surface radiative forcing of 1.1 W/m2.

Ollila, 2014 (~0.6°C equilibrium)

According to this study the commonly applied radiative forcing (RF) value of 3.7 Wm-2 for CO2 concentration of 560 ppm includes water feedback. The same value without water feedback is 2.16 Wm-2 which is 41.6 % smaller. Spectral analyses show that the contribution of CO2 in the greenhouse (GH) phenomenon is about 11 % and water’s strength in the present climate in comparison to CO2 is 15.2. The author has analyzed the value of the climate sensitivity (CS) and the climate sensitivity parameter (l) using three different calculation bases. These methods include energy balance calculations, infrared radiation absorption in the atmosphere, and the changes in outgoing longwave radiation at the top of the atmosphere. According to the analyzed results, the equilibrium CS (ECS) is at maximum 0.6 °C and the best estimate of l is 0.268 K/(Wm-2 ) without any feedback mechanisms.

Loehle, 2014  (1.1°C  transient, 2.0°C  equilibrium)

Estimated sensitivity is 1.093 °C (transient) and 1.99 °C (equilibrium).  Empirical study sensitivity estimates fall below those based on GCMs.

Skeie et al., 2014  (1.8°C  equilibrium)

Equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) is constrained based on observed near-surface temperature change, changes in ocean heat content (OHC) and detailed radiative forcing (RF) time series from pre-industrial times to 2010 for all main anthropogenic and natural forcing mechanism. The RF time series are linked to the observations of OHC and temperature change through an energy balance model (EBM) and a stochastic model, using a Bayesian approach to estimate the ECS and other unknown parameters from the data. For the net anthropogenic RF the posterior mean in 2010 is 2.0 Wm−2, with a 90% credible interval (C.I.) of 1.3 to 2.8 Wm−2, excluding present-day total aerosol effects (direct + indirect) stronger than −1.7 Wm−2. The posterior mean of the ECS is 1.8 °C, with 90% C.I. ranging from 0.9 to 3.2 °C, which is tighter than most previously published estimates.

Scafetta, 2013 (1.5°C)

A quasi 60-year natural oscillation simultaneously explains the 1850–1880, 1910–1940 and 1970–2000 warming periods, the 1880–1910 and 1940–1970 cooling periods and the post 2000 GST plateau. This hypothesis implies that about 50% of the ~ 0.5 °C global surface warming observed from 1970 to 2000 was due to natural oscillations of the climate system, not to anthropogenic forcing as modeled by the CMIP3 and CMIP5 GCMs. Consequently, the climate sensitivity to CO2 doubling should be reduced by half, for example from the 2.0–4.5 °C range (as claimed by the IPCC, 2007) to 1.0–2.3 °C with a likely median of ~ 1.5 °C instead of ~ 3.0 °C.

Asten, 2012 (1.1°C)

Climate sensitivity estimated from the latter is 1.1 ± 0.4 °C (66% confidence) compared with the IPCC central value of 3 °C. The post Eocene-Oligocene transition (33.4 Ma) value of 1.1 °C obtained here is lower than those published from Holocene and Pleistocene glaciation-related temperature data (800 Kya to present) but is of similar order to sensitivity estimates published from satellite observations of tropospheric and sea-surface temperature variations. The value of 1.1 °C is grossly different from estimates up to 9 °C published from paleo-temperature studies of Pliocene (3 to 4 Mya) age sediments. 

Lindzen and Choi, 2011 (0.7°C)

As a result, the climate sensitivity for a doubling of CO2 is estimated to be 0.7K (with the confidence interval 0.5K – 1.3K at 99% levels). This observational result shows that model sensitivities indicated by the IPCC AR4 are likely greater than the possibilities estimated from the observations.

Florides and Christodoulides, 2009 (~0.02°C)

A very recent development on the greenhouse phenomenon is a validated adiabatic model, based on laws of physics, forecasting a maximum temperature-increase of 0.01–0.03 °C for a value doubling the present concentration of atmospheric CO2

Gray, 2009 (~0.4°C)

CO2 increases without positive water vapor feedback could only have been responsible for about  0.1 – 0.2 °C of the 0.6-0.7°C global mean surface temperature warming that has been observed since the early 20th  century.  Assuming a doubling of CO2 by the late 21st  century (assuming no  positive water vapor feedback), we should likely expect to see no more than about 0.3-0.5°C global surface warming and certainly not the 2-5°C warming that has been projected by the GCMs [global circulation models].

Chylek et al., 2007 (~0.39°C)

Consequently, both increasing atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases and decreasing loading of atmospheric aerosols are major contributors to the top-of atmosphere radiative forcing. We find that the climate sensitivity is reduced by at least a factor of 2 when direct and indirect effects of decreasing aerosols are included, compared to the case where the radiative forcing is ascribed only to increases in atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide. We find the empirical climate sensitivity to be between 0.29 and 0.48 K/Wm-2 when aerosol direct and indirect radiative forcing is included.
27 Dec 17:50

Girls rule(s)

by curryja

by Judith Curry

The #MeToo movement is spawning considerable reflection in academia.  Here are some reflections and advice from a senior female scientist (moi) who came up through the academic system during the bad old days of the 1970’s and 1980’s, and who has mentored many young female scientists as they navigate the professional world of academia.

The problems in academia have been articulated in a recent op-ed published in Science by Robin Bell and Lora Koenig: Harassment in Science is Real.  Also an article published in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The American Geophysical Union has a new policy that defines sexual harassment as scientific misconduct [link]

A different take on this is provided by Jacquelyn Gill and paleoclimatologist Dr. Sarah Myhre in this podcast: #MeToo: The Harassment of Women Scientists Online – and Off.  More on this podcast and Sarah Myhre later in the post.

My motivation in writing this essay is to remind these young female scientists that female scientists have never had it so good, they are on the cusp of genuine influence (‘girls rule’), but that this opportunity can be squandered (individually and collectively) by their inappropriate behavior.

The ‘bad old days’ of the 1970’s – 1980’s

Well things were definitely bad prior to the 1970’s (read this essay by famous meteorologist Joanne Simpson).  I didn’t emerge onto the scene until the 1970’s; here a few personal anecdotes, to give you a flavor, in roughly chronological order:

  • As an undergraduate, I was the only female student in my major.  One of my professors was particularly obnoxious.  I recall the class being outside take temperature and humidity measurements using a sling psychrometer.  The Professor said:  “Make sure you stand far away from Judith, you don’t want all of her body heat to contaminate your measurements.”
  • As a graduate student, I was the only female student in my cohort.  The first time I went to a Professor’s office hours to ask a question about a homework problem, he told me that I didn’t belong in the program and that I should find another major. p.s. I ended up getting an A in the course.
  • As a graduate student, I felt the need to hide the fact that I had a child, for fear that I would not be taken seriously.  Once I was ‘found out’ (when my child was 3 years old), I heard from a faculty member in another department that that this was a topic of substantial discussion among the faculty, along with changes in my marital status.
  • An amorous assistant professor wouldn’t take no for an answer and snuck into my house.  Fortunately I was studying karate at the time and managed to scare him off.
  • As a new faculty hire awaiting the start of my appointment, I subsequently heard that at a social event for a distinguished visitor, one senior faculty member got up on a table to complain about my hire, with a crude pantomime that involved menstruation.
  • This same senior faculty member was chair of the promotion and tenure committee and worked hard to sabotage my tenure (that had already been approved and was in my contract).

Apart from this litany, I was without any female role models or mentors until I arrived at the University of Colorado in 1992.  As I prepared to attend my first professional conference, I had no idea what to wear.  The few female academics that I had seen around campus either wore clothes that a man would wear or wore rather frumpy earth mother type clothes.  Sounds silly, but what to wear is an issue of non trivial importance, as we will see later in this essay.

In closing this section, I want to acknowledge several mentors who were very supportive of me during this period — Clayton Reitan (deceased), Louis Kaplan (deceased), Hsiao-Lan Kuo (deceased), Jerry Herman, and Ernie Agee.  My eternal gratitude to you.

Sexual harassment

In the late 1980’s and 1990’s, we begin to see affirmative action programs in the universities for hiring female faculty members (something from which I benefitted from in one hire).  However, the environment for female faculty members was pretty hostile.  There was plenty of misogyny among the faculty and lower level administrators, even if the higher administration was theoretically supportive.

After what I had faced over the years, I had developed a hide as thick as an alligator’s — all of this cr@p just rolled off me and I ignored it.  But at some point, I realized that this wasn’t just about me — what I saw was adversely affecting other females (students, postdocs and future faculty hires).

The last two bullets in the previous section were only the tip of iceberg of the discrimination and hostile environment that I faced in one of my early faculty positions.   I complained to the Chair — he rationalized the behavior of the male faculty members.  I complained to the Dean — I later heard that he told a male faculty member that ‘this is just a case of a female faculty member complaining about that stuff because she really isn’t good enough to be here.’  I finally found someone in the higher administration who would listen to me — an assistant provost  who was an African American — and I provided him with the full dossier.  He conducted a very thorough investigation, resulting in sensitivity training for the entire faculty in that department and some fairly severe sanctions for one of the faculty members.  At this point I had another job offer in hand and I left that university.

In the 1990’s there was growing awareness of sexual harassment in the universities.  In the early 1990’s, I was on a university committee to evaluate new training materials on sexual harassment.  I was astonished when I saw that ‘winking’ and ‘elevator eyes’ were on the same list as rape and quid pro quo behavior.  There was simply no hierarchy of sexual harassment sins — a problem that continues to concern me as we hear the latest litany of accusations.

The most vexing issue was ‘hostile environment’ and the subsequent  ‘backlash’ if you reported anything.  This issue became very real to me when a female faculty member in my department complained about lewd and crude cartoons being posted on the walls of  the Center administrative offices.  She complained to the Center Director – he wouldn’t take them down.  She complained the the Department Chair, essentially no response.  But then the backlash began, with attempts to harm her career.  She lawyered up based on the backlash, and after several agonizing years she apparently won her case (details were never made public) and managed to salvage her career at the same university and go on to have a very successful career.  What was exceptional about this case is that her job and career were salvaged in the outcome — other successful litigants in such cases usually ended up leaving their university because the situation was too hostile and unsalvageable.  I suspect that having a female Associate Dean helped this to happen.

The failure to discriminate among the hierarchy of sexual harassment behaviors is evident in the current round of accusations.  Behaviors in the ‘hostile environment’ category are particularly vexing, as individual women have very different sensitivities and desires in context of their casual social interactions with men.  However, assault, quid pro quo and backlash situations are very unambiguous, and we need to make sure that ambiguous hostile environment issues don’t detract from the most serious transgressions.

Navigating academia – challenges for females

Guidelines under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the U.S. for  sexual harassment in the workplace have evolved over the decades; I would say that nearly all universities had some policies in place with some actual ‘teeth’ by the dawn of the 21st century.  Overt sexual harassment, particularly of the quid pro quo variety, seems to be swiftly dealt with once it comes to light.  At this point there is some minor affirmative action that favors hiring of females, but rarely are positions set aside anymore specifically to hire female faculty members.

All this does not mean that it is particularly easy being a female in academia. There is a very ‘leaky pipeline,’ whereby many female graduate students and postdocs aspiring to an academic career simply drop out before they are tenured (or even hired into a tenure track position).  Apart from issues of gender discrimination and sexual harassment, there are numerous major challenges facing females in academia:

  • Females in academia very frequently have spouses in academia, making the two body career problem very challenging — either finding a faculty position at the same university or another university nearby, or necessitating long weekend commutes to see their spouses
  • The desire to have children in their 30’s, rather than wait until they are tenured and at higher physical risk.
  • Horrendous challenges facing single parents — particularly with regards to the large amount of traveling involved in building a national and international reputation
  • The drain of the above three points on your time — time spent commuting and on parenting takes away from the huge amount of time it takes to build a successful career at a top research university.
  • The pressure of the above  issues, making you realize that you are falling behind as the tenure clock ticks.
  • Culture and isolation if there aren’t other female faculty members in your environment

In 2002, when I was hired as Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech, I had an opportunity to do something about all this:

  • I hired a total of 9 female faculty members, all of whom are now tenured (or are on their way to a successful tenure case)
  • Implemented family-friendly policies above and beyond what the university provided, supporting both female and male young parents with reduced teaching and service loads and in some instances additional financial help.
  • Aggressively sought jobs for spouses of faculty members, including numerous ‘couples hires’ in my department
  • Set up a series of panel discussions for graduate students and postdocs helping them navigate a range of challenges, including those associated with families, problems with advisors, etc.
  • Personal mentoring of individual female scientists, including advice on the most impactful things to spend time on, setting up alternative work loads and evaluation criteria such as rewards for excellent teaching, mentoring of students and university service work (all the while making sure tenure criteria are met).

I informally referred to these policies as ‘girls rule(s)‘, which gives the title to this essay. I did think twice about using the word ‘girl’ here, but decided sufficient context was provided to avoid any conceivable offense someone might take from my use of the word ‘girl’.

You can see that it’s rather difficult to categorize me as a ‘misogynist’, which is becoming rather problematic for some females (see below).

Who gets harassed?

Apart from the above career challenges, female scientists continue to face sexual harassment. Somewhere I read an article within the last week and now I can’t find it that surveyed a large number of females, which they categorized into ‘ladies’, ‘flirts’, and ‘tomboys.’ The article found that ladies were subject to the least amount of harassment, with flirts being subject to the most.  Not sure how to categorize myself:  a cross between ‘lady’ and ‘tomboy’ (if that makes any sense); most definitely not a ‘flirt.’

This opens up two issues:  how males perceive an individual female in terms of her susceptibility/interest in their behavior or advances, and how individual females perceive these same actions by males.  Re the latter, some females enjoy slightly bawdy banter with males, whereas other females might find this same banter offensive.  This is not easy to navigate, with mores varying between different workplace sectors, different regions, and changing with time (not to mention individual sensitivities).

This leads us to the topic of dress.  While in the 1980’s and 1990’s most female academics that I encountered were dressed like males or earth mothers, I did start to see a few fashionably dressed female academics in the 1990’s that were clearly paying attention  to their appearance.  For the most part these women were very tastefully dressed, although a few wore mildly provocative clothing such as  short skirts and tight clothing.

In the past decade I have started to see some young female scientists dress in a way that I find inappropriate, such as showing substantial cleavage.  Many of these women aren’t in the ‘flirt’ category; instead something else is going on.  I will relate one personal anecdote to illustrate this.  I was in a seminar with about 60 people in the audience.  The female speaker was wearing a skin-tight thin stretchy nylon top (sort of like a ballet leotard), with large nipples prominently poking forward.  The audience was stunned and appalled.  A senior male faculty member sitting next to me seemed to think that this was some sort of a ‘wardrobe malfunction’ and thought we should do something about it.  However, it was clear to me that this was a ‘statement’ — ‘my pregnancy boobs in your face’.  If the definition of ‘hostile environment’ is ‘unwelcome or offensive physical behavior’; well then I would say that this female seminar speaker was guilty of creating a hostile environment during that seminar.

There is a new category of females that superficially might resemble the ‘flirt’, but who most definitely are not flirting.  I will label these as ‘radical lipstick feminists.’  Paleoclimatologist Sarah Myhre provides us with description in this article she wrote for the Stranger:

Feminist rage has burned through my days and nights this last week, leaving me exhausted and anger-hangover every morning. Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK, Roy Moore, Al Franken–take them all down. I have fiery images in my mind’s eye of the careers of powerful men toppling like Saddam’s statue. BURN THEM ALL DOWN. I rage silently in my lipstick and heels, dressing as powerfully and sexually I can–as if to say, “try it on me motherfuckers”. I rage-walk from the bus to day care to work to the grocery store and I stare down every man on the street, silently shaming him with my eyes. It is a game I play through these rage-soaked days.
Read to the bottom of the article with a response from UW Professor Cliff Mass, who was attacked by Myhre in her article.  Read the comments, they are very illuminating.
Is this category of female scientists particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment?  Probably not.  However, owing to their strident and often irrational behavior, they are very vulnerable to not being taken seriously by males in the scientific community and viewed as undesirable for faculty or other leadership positions.
The video by Sarah Myhre and Jacquelyn Gill referred to earlier: #MeToo: The Harassment of Women Scientists Online – and Off raises the prospect of online bullying of women.
Hmmmm . . .  such as what Michael Mann has done to me?  Wait, Andrew Montford (Bishop Hill) spotted a tweet from Sarah Myhre from last spring,
My response:
If you read her tweets, you can see her conflating misogyny and climate denial (I seem to represent a particular challenge to her!)
If you see ‘misogyny’ everywhere (even from other females!), then perhaps you need to step back and reflect.  What is being objected to is not your gender but your behavior: your attempt to gain fame and build a career based on ‘victim’ status, your unfounded attacks on serious and responsible scientists in your field, and your irrational statements and general intolerance of anyone who is not in your ‘club’. This negative reaction to your behavior is not sexual harassment (or any kind of harassment) or discrimination.
Climate science has developed a perverse incentive structure that seems to reward this kind of unethical, bullying behavior — and I’m seeing more and more female scientists taking full advantage of this.
Girls rule
Here is some text from a very insightful article entitled The Warlock Hunt:

When Hanna Rosin wrote her 2010 Atlantic essay, “The End of Men,” she was not exaggerating. “What if,” she asked, “the modern, postindustrial economy is simply more congenial to women than to men?” What if? Because it seems very much that it is. “The postindustrial economy is indifferent to men’s size and strength,” she wrote. “The attributes that are most valuable today—social intelligence, open communication, the ability to sit still and focus—are, at a minimum, not predominantly male.” America’s future, Rosin argued, belongs to women. “Once you open your eyes to this possibility, the evidence is all around you.” And it is.

Revolutions against real injustice have a tendency, however, to descend into paroxysms of vengeance that descend upon guilty and innocent alike. We’re getting too close. Hysteria is in the air. The over-broad definition of “sexual harassment” is a well-known warning sign.  We are on a frenzied extrajudicial warlock hunt that does not pause to parse the difference between rape and stupidity. Mass hysteria and making demons of men will get us nowhere we should want to go.

In recent years, especially, we have become prone to replacing complex thought with shallow slogans. We live in times of extremism, and black-and-white thinking. We should have the self-awareness to suspect that the events of recent weeks may not be an aspect of our growing enlightenment, but rather our growing enamorment with extremism.

Women have long been victims, but now we are in so many respects victims no longer. We have more status, prestige, power, and personal freedom than ever before. Why would we want to speak and act as though we were overwhelmingly victims, as we actually used to be? What’s in this for us?

No woman in her right mind would say, “I want the old world back.” We know what that meant for women. But perhaps, instead, we are fantasizing that the old world has come back, rather than confronting something a great deal more frightening: It’s never coming back. We are the grown-ups now. We are in charge.

 Girls’ rules

The Science article states:

The scientific community must recognize the difficult conversations that have started and embrace this watershed moment as an opportunity for rapid and essential cultural change.

We don’t want to squander this moment by merely using this as an opportunity to ‘vent’ and shame males for minor transgressions long in the past.  In my essay I have not named any names or even named specific institutions.

This really is a tremendous opportunity for rapid and essential cultural change. To seize this moment, we need to:

  • Provide an unambiguous definition of sexual harassment that clearly distinguishes rape and quid pro quo from minor social transgressions.  Codes of conduct are needed. Due process should be followed for addressing any accusations.  Avoid turning this situation into a land mine for males.
  • Provide institutional support and train females to become more resilient and anti-fragile in the face of career challenges and in avoiding potential harassment situations.  Your behavior and dress matters.
  • Resist playing the victim card — instead,  focus on changing policies and weeding out the serial harassers.
  • Recognize that there are also female predators: I know of examples in my field of serial  ‘power fucking’,  and a female who cried rape when a consensual relationship didn’t go the way she wanted and also attempted to destroy the career of a young female scientist of whom she was jealous.  Females shouldn’t get a free pass for sexual or other types of harassment.

If we want to be equals or in positions of power, we need to seize the high ground of ethical leadership.  Let the discussions begin!



19 Dec 17:43

Celebrating Socialism

by tonyheller

So much of left-wing thought is a kind of playing with fire, by people who don’t even know that fire is hot.

– George Orwell

19 Dec 17:36

“FBI appears to have investigated – and considered prosecuting – FOIA requesters”: Investigative rep…

by Charles Glasser

h/t Jts5665

FBI appears to have investigated – and considered prosecuting – FOIA requesters“: Investigative reporting blog and FOIA tool provider Muckrock shows that as far back as 2016, the FBI refused to produce documents that had the names of deceased FBI staff (nullifying any privacy concerns), but consistently failed to redact personal information about the requesters — a clear violation of privacy:

“Despite redacting the names and email addresses of the public servants handling the case, the FBI released not only the author’s name and address in the file (technically improper since there was no waiver, albeit understandable) but the name, email address and home address of another requester who also used the script to file requests. Their name along with their email and physical addresses were left unredacted not once, not twice, not thrice – but seven times, not including the email headers, several of which also showed their name and email address.”

Other emails show that the FBI’s Obama-era FOIA office consulted a number of people from the Criminal Justice Information Services division for the purpose of singling out “suspicious” FOIA requests for possible prosecution targeting.

I’d love to know what they considered a “suspicious” FOIA request.

19 Dec 15:44

12/06/17 PHD comic: 'The Office Coffee Flowchart'

Piled Higher & Deeper by Jorge Cham
Click on the title below to read the comic
title: "The Office Coffee Flowchart" - originally published 12/6/2017

For the latest news in PHD Comics, CLICK HERE!

19 Dec 03:48

SteemFest2 Talks featuring Steemit CEO Ned Scott [Video]

Hello Steemians, Today we are sharing two videos from SteemFest2 featuring the CEO of Steemit, @ned. The first video is his keynote in which he discusses: - how Steem is ahead of the competition - the many great apps built on Steem like and - the growth of the platform - the Steemit Team - Smart Media Tokens

Ned’s SteemFest2 Keynote The second video is Ned’s fireside chat with the journalist @andrewmcmillen (Andrew McMillen), author of the amazing article featured in Wired Magazine titled The Social Network Doling Out Millions in Ephemeral Money. They talk about: - how Ned first got involved in cryptocurrencies - what elements of the technology drew him in - his thoughts on bitcoin - the religious elements around cryptocurrencies - what motivated the creation of Steem and - the importance of encouraging dissenting opinions and challenging one’s own beliefs - potential use cases for Smart Media Tokens

Ned’s fireside chat with @andrewmcmillen Special thanks to @roelandp for throwing an amazing SteemFest as well as providing some of the footage and audio used in these videos. We hope you enjoy them! *Steemit Team*
19 Dec 03:46

Bitcoin Cash Development & Testing Accord

by Jimmy Nguyen - Chief Executive Officer

nChain believes Bitcoin Cash is the true Bitcoin. With its bigger blocks, faster speed, and lower transaction fees, Bitcoin Cash can fulfill the Satoshi Nakamoto white paper’s vision – a peer-to-peer electronic cash system. nChain is committed to using its research, technology and resources to ignite the growth of Bitcoin Cash, and help change the world.

To advance this vision, we look forward to working with other members of the Bitcoin Cash community. nChain is pleased to join in the Accord recently announced among key developer and testing groups for Bitcoin Cash client software – Bitcoin ABC, Bitcrust, Bitprim, Bitcoin Unlimited, Bitcoin XT, ElectrumX, nChain and Parity (collectively, the “Developer and Testing Groups”). Last week, some other developer groups published statements about key aspects of this Accord, as well their additional interests. This is nChain’s statement about the Accord.

As other groups have explained, all the Developer and Testing Groups operate independently. However, even in a decentralized ecosystem, the Developer and Testing Groups realize the value in having an organized approach to support the future of Bitcoin Cash and its protocol. To that end, after conferring with the other Developer and Testing Groups, nChain is pleased that the groups will coordinate in these areas:

  1. Massive Scaling. The Developer and Testing Groups commit to enable massive scaling of the Bitcoin Cash network, so that Bitcoin Cash becomes a fast, low-fee, global peer-to-peer electronic cash system.
  2. Regularly-Scheduled Protocol Updates. To achieve that vision, the Developer and Testing Groups will schedule Bitcoin Cash protocol upgrades on a planned date every 6 months – beginning May 15, 2018 and November 15, 2018. This regular schedule gives the Bitcoin Cash user community significant advance notice to prepare for protocol upgrades in an organized manner.
  3. May 15, 2018 Protocol Upgrade. Under the semi-annual schedule, the next protocol upgrade is planned for May 15, 2018. nChain is pleased to see that the Developer and Testing Groups will work towards incorporating the following features, to the best extent possible:
    1. Block Size: Increase the default block size limit, with a goal of 32MB for the next upgrade. nChain will support appropriate testing with the Developer and Testing Groups, which will help determine the increased block size. Whatever size is ultimately decided, nChain is pleased to see a commitment to larger blocks. Additionally, for a future protocol upgrade, the Developer and Testing Groups intend create an adaptive algorithm to determine the maximum block size.
    2. Difficulty Adjustment Algorithm: Implement further improvement to the DAA to continue stabilizing mining on the network;
    3. Op Codes: Begin the process to restore op codes that were previously disabled in the legacy BTC chain (now SegWit)
    4. Transaction Order in Blocks: Remove the current restriction on transaction order in blocks, and replace it with a canonical order by transaction ID.

    For the next following upgrade (on November 15, 2018) and subsequent upgrades, the Developer and Testing Groups will confer on what features to include.

  4. Extension Points. The Developer and Testing Groups intend to use known extension points to introduce new features into Bitcoin Cash. To date, there have only been 2 ways to upgrade the Bitcoin (or Bitcoin Cash) network, commonly known as a hard fork or a soft fork. Both mechanisms have their own shortcomings. Soft forks are activated by miners and there is no way for node operators to voice their opinion nor oppose on the fork. On the other hand, hard forks require all users to upgrade in lockstep and creates risk at time of activation. Extension points provide a new, and easier, third method to implement protocol upgrades. (Extension points are a method by which nodes implement new Opcodes and other changes that are not, strictly speaking, hard or soft forks. This is accomplished by introducing an indeterminate state that is neither “valid” nor “invalid” but temporarily valid and dependent upon proof of work using a form of emergent consensus.) The Developer and Testing Groups will evaluate when, and how, to begin using extensions points for the upgrade process.
  5. New BCH Address Format. The Developer and Testing Groups will work on a new address format for BCH, in order to prevent the risk of users mistakenly sending BCH to a BTC address, and vice versa.

nChain will continue its collaborative dialogue with the other Developer and Testing Groups, and we welcome input from the Bitcoin Cash community. We all need to work together in order to achieve the vision of a true peer-to-peer electronic cash system. Let’s go change the world with Bitcoin Cash.

– Jimmy Nguyen
CEO, nChain Group

The post Bitcoin Cash Development & Testing Accord appeared first on nChain.

28 Nov 20:20

Gotta love Uber: It lowers the rate of fatal accidents and arrests for DUI, disorderly conduct and assaults

by Mark Perry

uber-logoThis is from the abstract of a new research paper titled Ride-Sharing, Fatal Crashes, and Crime by economists Sean Mulholland and Angela Dills:

The advent of smart-phone based, ride-sharing applications has revolutionized the vehicle for hire market. Advocates point to the ease of use and lower wait times compared to hailing a taxi or pre-arranging limousine service. Others argue that proper government oversight is necessary to protect ride-share passengers from driver error or vehicle part failure and violence from unlicensed strangers. Using a unique panel of over 150 cities and counties from 2010 through 2013, we investigate whether the introduction of the ride-sharing service, Uber, is associated with changes in fatal vehicle crashes and crime. We find that Uber’s entry lowers the rate of DUIs and fatal accidents. For most specifications, we also find declines in arrests for assault and disorderly conduct.

Here is a summary of some of the researcher’s main empirical findings:

1. Fatal Accident Rate. Specifically, we find that entry [of Uber] is associated with a 6% decline in the fatal accident rate. Fatal night-time crashes experience a slightly larger decline of 18%.

In both the weighted and unweighted estimations, we also discover a continued decline in the overall fatal crash rate and the rate of vehicular fatalities for the months following the introduction of Uber. For each additional year of operation, Uber’s continued presence is associated with a 16.6% decline in vehicular fatalities.

2. DUIs and Crime. We find a large and robust decline in the arrest rate for DUIs. Depending upon specification, DUIs are 15 to 62% lower after the entry of Uber. The average annual rate of decline after the introduction of Uber is 51.3% per year for DUIs. For most specifications, we also observe declines in the arrest rates for non-aggravated assaults and disorderly conduct.

Here’s the paper’s conclusion:

Claiming consumer protection, some community’s leaders have sought greater government oversight and limits on the entry of ride-sharing services. Articles often cite concerns about the safety of riders and drivers in this comparatively unregulated service.

We investigate and find that many of these concerns are, at least on net, unwarranted. Using a differences-in-differences specification and controlling for county-specific linear trends, we find that the entry of ride-sharing tends to decrease fatal vehicular crashes. We also observe declines in arrests for assault, DUI, and disorderly conduct. In many cases, these declines become larger the longer the service is available in an area.

MP: We already know that ride-sharing services like Uber are better, cheaper, and more convenient than traditional taxis. We’ve now got even more reasons to love Uber — it provides huge public safety benefits to the communities it serves by lowering fatal accidents and arrests for DUI, assault and disorderly conduct.

Prediction: It’s probably already obvious to many today, but I predict future generations will look back on ride-sharing services like Uber and consider them to be one of the most important and significant innovative breakthroughs in transportation of the 21st century.

The post Gotta love Uber: It lowers the rate of fatal accidents and arrests for DUI, disorderly conduct and assaults appeared first on AEI.

24 Nov 16:38

What It Means When a Boy, 9, Is Accused of “Inappropriate Touching” For an Accidental Touch During Soccer

by lskenazy

My post is here at Let Grow. Come join the discussion!



24 Nov 04:01

New Jersey High School Students Take Stand Against Police Abuse after Brutality Video goes Viral

by Ben Keller

Hundreds of students staged a walk out of a New Jersey high school in protest of police brutality after a video of an officer roughly arresting two fellow students went viral.

Officer Hanifah Davis was caught on video grabbing Nyasia and Kyasia Sorrells, twin sisters, by the hair, tossing them to the ground and mounting himself on top of them.

It was such an egregious display of brutality, a school board member was ticketed for stepping in to intervene.

The twins, who are honor roll students, were charged with obstruction and resisting arrest.

One of them was was also charged with aggravated assault.

On Friday,  students walked out of class and marched to the Orange Police Department’s station holding signs while chanting “We want justice!,” according to NBC New York.

The incident happened at the Orange High school after it was letting students out for the day.

Nyasia and Kyasia were getting pizza on Thursday near the high school when Davis attempted to clear the corner.

Video footage shows Davis telling the girls to back up.

When Nyasia approached, officer Davis grabbed her by the hair then tosses both of the girls to the ground.

“He grabbed me by my hair and swung me on the ground, and started like, bashing my head on the ground,” Nyasia Sorrells told Pix11.

“He has both of us on the ground, and his knees was on both of us, and we couldn’t do nothin’,” her sister Kyasia Sorrells added.

Orange police later identified the officer as Hanifah Davis.

The twins’ father, Mike Sorrells, was furious after viewing footage of the way his daughters were treated.

“They knew they was wrong. You don’t do that to nobody’s kids,” he said.

“He needs to be fired.”

“He needs to go to jail,” the father said,  adding his concern that video footage of the incident my have a negative impact on his daughters’ plans for college.

“Anybody who got kids, feel the same way right now. They’re here to protect and serve. Who they protecting? What they serving’? Brutality?”

A spokesman for Orange, Keith Royster, said what city officials saw in the short clips led them to suspending Davis immediately.

“In a word, it was sickening. It was not the best of the Orange Police Department. And the police director pretty much said that today,” Royster said.

An internal affairs investigation, which will determine if Davis is able to keep is job, is pending.


The post New Jersey High School Students Take Stand Against Police Abuse after Brutality Video goes Viral appeared first on Photography is Not a Crime.

24 Nov 03:52

Arizona Cop Heading to Trial for Killing Unarmed Man Claims it Would be “Unfair” to Show Jury Body Cam Footage of Shooting Death

by Carlos Miller

The former Arizona cop preparing to go to trial for shooting and killing an unarmed man in a hotel hallway last year is now arguing that it would be “unfair” to show the jury body cam footage of the shooting.

But the footage is probably the strongest piece of evidence that will determined whether or not Mesa police officer Philip “Mitch” Brailsford truly feared for his life when he shot and killed Daniel Shaver after ordering him to come crawling towards him on January 18, 2016.

Brailsford, who has since been fired, described it a “terrifying” experience, but so do all cops who shoot and kill unarmed citizens. That’s just Cop Spin 101.

Daniel Shaver and Laney Sweet and their children.

Shaver was a pest control worker from Texas who was staying in a La Quinta Inn in Mesa when he met up with two acquaintances and brought them to his room to show them his pellet gun.

At one point, he or somebody in the room was pointing the pellet gun out the fifth-floor window, which prompted somebody on the ground floor to call police.

Several Mesa police officers responded and made their way up to the fifth-floor, ordering everybody outside the room. Shaver, who was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, no longer had the pellet gun in his hand.

But police still ordered him down on his hands and knees and ordered him to come crawling towards them.

“Please don’t shoot me,” Shaver pleaded, according to witness statements.

But Shaver’s shorts slipped off as he was crawling towards them, which is when his hand instinctively reached down to hold them up.

And that Brailsford claimed, made him fear for his life, prompting him to fire five rounds from his personal AR-15 with the words, “You’re Fucked” inscribed on it.

Five other cops that had their guns trained on Shaver did not fire, so evidently, they were not as terrified as Brailsford, the son of a veteran internal affairs cop with the Mesa Police Department.

The judge determined that the fact Brailsford personally had the words, “You’re Fucked” on his rifle is not admissible in the trial.

But the judge has not determined whether showing the video of the shooting to the jury would be unfair to Brailsford, who was “in shock” when he learned he would even be charged for the shooting death.

Shaver’s widow, Laney Sweet, has since filed a lawsuit against the Mesa Police Department, which you can read here.

Video from the shooting incident – minus the actual shooting – has since been released to the public, which you can read below.



The post Arizona Cop Heading to Trial for Killing Unarmed Man Claims it Would be “Unfair” to Show Jury Body Cam Footage of Shooting Death appeared first on Photography is Not a Crime.

24 Nov 03:12

Bonus Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux

h/t Jts5665

(Don Boudreaux)


… is the opening of Deirdre McCloskey’s new paper “Populism Is Zero Sum Under Majority Rule”:

Populism revives the ancient ideology of zero sum for an age of majority rule.  [Classical] Liberalism, by contrast, is a recent ideology of positive sum, with rights for minority groups, which often generate the positive sum.

DBx: I can’t decide which is more ludicrous: Sandersnistas and other “Progressives” embracing mercantilist doctrines as if these are the results of cutting-edge and egalitarian thinking, or conservatives embracing mercantilist doctrines as if these are key to restoring national greatness.

24 Nov 03:02

Nightmare Email Feature


h/t PheliX

"...just got back and didn't see your message until just now. Sorry! -- TIME THIS MESSAGE SAT HALF-FINISHED IN DRAFTS FOLDER: 3 days, 2 hours, 45 minutes."
18 Nov 22:43

In search of harmony between human progress and wildlife welfare

--- #### This essay discusses some aspects of the interplay between human progress and animal welfare, with a particular emphasis on free market environmentalism. --- ###### Image source:, License: CC0, Public Domain
### Introduction When my wife ([@lisa.palmer]( and I bought our house, one of the most attractive aspects of the home was not even something that we were purchasing. The house had about 15 acres of undeveloped land out back, and percolation tests of that land had failed, so unless public water became available, that land was going to stay unoccupied. As a result, during the last 17 years, we have enjoyed a sort of a defacto nature preserve right on the other side of our back yard. We have frequently observed deer, fox, raccoons, groundhogs, and other wildlife wandering from the woods into our own yard. However, fortunately for the property owners - but unfortunately for us - human progress happens and public water became available. So, during the last week, we have watched most of that forest bull-dozed by a developer's construction equipment preparing the land for home construction. Now, directly behind our home there is still about an acre of woods that has a different owner, but the other 14 or so acres have been leveled. ###### Original photo, by me. LG-G4 camera, Nov 17, 2017. View in new tab to see the deer.
It's sort-of funny how the mind works. I know that this sort of development happens all around the world all the time, but seeing it happening every time you look out the window gives you a different perspective on it. Of course, there's no comparing displaced wildlife with human lives, but it is reminiscent of the quote that's frequently attributed to Stalin: "*The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic.*" It makes me sad to think of these newly created wildlife refugees, and especially to see the now homeless deer congregating in our back yard at night time, when the construction crews have left. Ironically, this is happening at the same time as the Internet blew up with news that Trump allowed, then disallowed [elephant trophy imports](, so the topic of wildlife conservation has been on my mind frequently in recent days. It would be nice if there were black and white answers to the questions of wildlife preservation, but there are so many competing interests that it turns out to be quite complicated. In particular, two of the values that I prize, human autonomy and property rights can often seem to come into conflict with the well-being of wildlife. I wrote about this topic last year in, [Making Wildlife Conservation Fun and Profitable](, but today I thought I'd take another look at it. First, I will briefly revisit the ideas in that article; Next, I will express my thoughts about the interplay between property rights, human autonomy, and wildlife preservation; and finally I will discuss some innovative and encouraging real world concepts that I have read about in the year since I wrote that article. ### Section 1: Turning Wildlife Conservation Into a Game ###### Image Source:, licensed under CC0, Public Domain
In the card game of [Concentration](\(game\)) the player is challenged to pick up a deck of cards that are laid face down by remembering the position of the cards, and identifying matching pairs from memory. In my article last year, I imagined a scavenger hunt sort of activity that would harness the same sort of matching incentive to pair property owners and tourists in a lottery style photography game. The property owner could post online photographs of animals found on their property, and the tourists could try to take matching photos. The game application would validate the matches and pay out "bounties" to the owner and tourists based on the scarcity of the matched species and/or other criteria. The game developer could even go on to sell the photos and share revenue with the game players. The idea here is that the property owner would have an incentive to preserve endangered species on their own property. Care would have to be taken, however, that the incentives did not encourage the killing of animals in order to increase scarcity. As I said in the article, the whole concept winds up being sort of a combination of [Airbnb](, [Project Noah](, and [Pokémon Go]( In my opinion, for preservation efforts to be effective, they need to be sustainable. And this means that they should not depend on a particular set of government policies that are subject to revocation at the next election or on philanthropic contributions that might dry up during an economic down turn. This game was an attempt to imagine a sustainable system of incentives that would naturally and voluntarily lead to the preservation of wildlife. ### Section 2: Animal Rights and Human Rights ###### Image source:, License: CC0, Public Domain
I can't remember who posted it, but I recently came across a Facebook post where someone posted something like this (paraphrasing): > To those who say that animals have rights, do you feel remorse when you step on a bug? It should be apparent to nearly anyone that this argument is a [logical fallacy]( (perhaps the "straw man" or "black or white" fallacies). We can quickly move from that example to the examples of dog-fighting or cock-fighting for pretty convincing examples that animals do, in fact, have some rights. The subject of animal rights is something that I've thought long and hard about, yet I still can't say that I've came to any conclusions, except that it's a hard question. I don't accept the arguments at either pole of the spectrum, either that animals should be entitled to legal representation - as if they were human, or that animals have no rights at all. But I also don't know how to identify the exact rights that an animal should be entitled to. When a question is complex, and I don't know the answers, I tend to think that the market is usually the best way to sort it out. The question doesn't really have to be a human's rights vs. an animal's rights. Instead, it can be a question of enforcing property rights. Problems with a political solution include the fact that policy is always subject to revocation, and second, that by attempting to use government coercion to impose my will on the use of someone else's land, I would be denying that person their own self-determination, autonomy, and property rights. I may not know what rights animals have, but I'm certain that I don't have the right to do that to another human. Philanthropic solutions are part of the market process, and I don't object to them, but it is my experience that they are often unsustainable. For example, my wife's Great-Uncle owned a sizeable piece of land for many years that he diligently kept away from developers in order to protect the wildlife that lived there. However, when he passed away, that land was divided among a number of heirs. I am fairly sure that it's now just a matter of time until that land gets developed. So, to me, it seems that the best way to balance human rights and animal rights (whatever they are) is to let property owners each enforce their own versions of animal rights on their own properties (subject to limits for abusive cases like dog-fighting) and to construct sustainable incentive systems that will continue to protect the wildlife well into the future. ### Section 3: Real World Innovations ###### Image source:, License: CC0, Public Domain
A few years ago, I learned of the concept of Free Market Environmentalism from the web site, []( I can't honestly say that I've read as much about it as I'd like to, but superficially it strikes me as steps in the right direction. The example I discussed in Section 1 was inspired by this concept. In this section, I'll discuss some other examples of Free Market environmentalism that I've learned about recently. These include [Pennsylvania's Hawk Mountain Bird Sanctuary](, the [Welgevonden Game Reserve]( in South Africa, and Namibia's [Community conservancies]( #### Section 3.1: The Hawk Mountain Bird Sanctuary In 1933, [Rosalie Barrow Edge]( attended a NY meeting of the Hawk and Owl society, where she was motivated into action to stop the widespread slaughter of hawks by hunters of the day. In the midst of the Great Depression, she was able to raise enough funds to buy 1400 acres in the Appalachian Mountains of Pennsylvania. At the time, hawks' propensity to eat chickens had them widely regarded as vermin. Four score years later, the site continues to operate with funding from membership dues, visitors fees, and charitable donations. It is now one of the world's premier hawk watching sites, hosting approximately 70,000 visitors and 18,000 hawks each year. I have visited Hawk Mountain many times, as a child and as an adult, but it was only recently that I associated it with the concept of free market environmentalism. #### Section 3.2: The Welgevondon Game Reserve According to [Business Insider](, [The Internet of Things is putting poachers on the endangered list]( The article describes how the Welgevondon Game Reserve is using IoT technology from [IBM]( to detect and deter poachers. They found that animals react in different ways to different type of perceived threats, and that by fitting the animals with collars, they could detect poachers by monitoring animal movement. The really interesting thing about this is that the initiative is to protect the endangered white rhino, but the collars get fitted to other species of animals, so even the game reserve's workers cannot use the monitoring to track the actual rhinos. I didn't spend a lot of time on the [Game Reserve's web site](, but the 37,000 hectare property seems to be funded by tourism revenues. My only concern after reading the article is that collaring these other species might also turn them into targets for poachers, so we'll have to wait and see how that turns out. #### Section 3.3: Namibia's Community conservancies In [African animals need to be owned to survive](, Karol Boudreaux tells us about the community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) techniques that Namibia is using to fund wildlife conservation with tourism. In addition to protecting wildlife, this is providing economic opportunities for the citizens. Although she has mixed results to report, Boudreaux writes, > Putting local people in charge of wildlife management, and giving them a real stake in the protection of these animals has shifted their incentives: they are much less likely to poach animals and much more likely to protect them. The results have been a steady increase in income for rural communities and, at the same time, a rise in the numbers of wildlife. ### Conclusion As someone who values both human progress and wildlife conservation, I have long observed that these values can seem to be in conflict, and searched for ways to resolve that tension. At the moment, the construction that's happening a few hundred yards from my back door is making me painfully aware that I have not been completely successful, but my search for intellectual balance between human rights and animal welfare always seems to find itself centering on the ideas of free market environmentalism. --- ##### As a general rule, I up-vote comments that demonstrate "proof of reading".

--- #####
Thank you for your time and attention.

--- Here's a reward for anyone who made it this far: ---
###### Steve Palmer is an IT professional with three decades of professional experience in data communications and information systems. He holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics, a master's degree in computer science, and a master's degree in information systems and technology management. He has been awarded 3 US patents. ###### Steve is a co-founder of the [Steemit's Best Classical Music]( Facebook page, and the @classical-music steemit curation account. ###### Follow: @remlaps ###### [RSS for @remlaps](, courtesy of []( ---
15 Nov 20:25

Freeman Dyson on ‘heretical’ thoughts about global warmimg

by Anthony Watts
By Freeman Dyson My first heresy says that all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated. Here I am opposing the holy brotherhood of climate model experts and the crowd of deluded citizens who believe the numbers predicted by the computer models. Of course, they say, I have no degree in meteorology and I…
15 Nov 17:00

WASTE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN: Somebody wrote an email bot to waste scammers’ time. Introducing Re:sca…

by Stephen Green

h/t Jts5665

WASTE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN: Somebody wrote an email bot to waste scammers’ time.

Introducing Re:scam – an artificially intelligent email bot made to reply to scam emails. Re:scam wastes scammers time with a never-ending series of questions and anecdotes so that scammers have less time to pursue real people.

If you think you’ve received a scam email, forward it to and we’ll take it from there. We’ll even send you a summary of the conversations Re:scam has had with the scammer – sometimes they can be quite funny!

I’m in.

11 Nov 01:00

Bitcoin Classic Team to Cease Code Support In Wake of 2x Suspension

by Rachel Rose O'Leary
Proposed bitcoin scaling solution Bitcoin Classic has said it will be closing its doors, touting bitcoin cash as the best alternative.
10 Nov 02:19

Ideas from Edge about artificial intelligence and human culture

--- ##### Summary and commentary with some ideas about artificial intelligence and human culture from [The Human Strategy: A Conversation With Alex "Sandy" Pentland \[10.30.17\]]( via [Edge]( --- ### Introduction I think I've mentioned before that I'm a long-time fan of the [Edge]( web site. In this week's e-mail newsletter, they linked to the article, [The Human Strategy: A Conversation With Alex "Sandy" Pentland \[10.30.17\]]( Pentland is a Professor of Computer Science at MIT; Director of MIT's Connection Science and Human Dynamics labs; and Author of "[Social Physics](" The articles and videos in their newsletters typically require a substantial time investment, so I can't always take the time to watch or read them, but I'm glad that I clicked through to this one. In this wide-ranging article and video, Pentland weaves together some of his ideas about artificial intelligence (AI), culture, human behavior, and government in a fascinating way. On AI, Pentland discusses the current state of AI as a network of "dumb" nodes that yields a brute force paradigm that's dependent on massive amounts of data. He discusses the possibility of improving it by creating a mesh of smarter nodes that have contextual awareness. On culture and human behavior, he talks about how evolution can be a process of exploration and exploitation. Individuals explore by searching for popular ideas, and innovate by copying and adapting those ideas for their own needs. He also brings to light the concept of "Social Physics," or the use of big data to build a computational and predictive theory of human behavior. In his discussion of government, Pentland talks about the need for transparency and more granular oversight, and he makes the insightful observation that government regulators and other bureaucracies really aren't very different from AI implementations. The [article]( is in textual and video formats, but I didn't find a way to embed the video here, so you can click through to read, watch, or both. I will offer summaries and commentary on each of the above topics throughout the remainder of this article. ###### \[Image Source:, License: CC0, Public Domain\]
### Section 1: Artificial Intelligence AI is a recurring point of commentary throughout the article. Pentland notes that today's AIs make use of dumb neurons to survey massive amounts of data and learn useful patterns. He also points out that because the neurons use linear processing, training requires millions of examples, and it does not generalize well to new uses. He describes the mechanism that accomplishes this as a "credit assignment function." According to him, the credit assignment function takes "*stupid neurons, these little linear functions, and figure out, in a big network, which ones are doing the work and encourage them more*." This model suffers from the shortcomings that it doesn't generalize well, it is not contextualized, and it behaves as a sort of "idiot savant." Contrasting with that, he offers the idea of better AI's with neurons making use of smarter algorithms to make better decisions with less data. In the first example of this, Pentland talks about physics. He claims that if neurons are programmed with specialized knowledge of physics, AIs can "*take a couple of noisy data points and get something that's a beautiful description of a phenomenon*." In a second example, Pentland talks about neurons that use the newly emerging science of social physics to model human decisions. Pentland describes it as something like Skynet, that "*that's really about the human fabric*." Eventually, Pentland extends this to the idea of even using humans as the neurons, and asks, "*...what's the right way to do that? Is it a safe idea? Is it completely crazy?*." On one hand, this is a radical idea that's reminiscent of *The Borg* or *The Matrix*, but on the other hand it's not. Maybe it all depends on implementation. Recently, I offered this, [in a comment here on steemit]( > Of course, Kurzweil's vision has always been of the dominant human-machine hybrid, which I still think is plausible. Maybe a machine can out-think one person, or ten or twenty, but can a machine out-think an entire society with brains linked together via high speed interconnects? > > I imagine a future global supercomputer which is a conglomeration of human and machine intelligence supplemented by mostly mechanical labor. Maybe "going to work" means plugging in a head-set and renting our intellects to the Matrix for the day. It's worth noting that teams of humans aided by computers are now beating the best AIs in chess tournaments. Two notable points that caught my attention while reading and listening were: 1. His mention of *[distributed Thompson sampling](*, which he said is, "*combining evidence, of exploring and exploiting at the same time*," and "*has a unique property in that it's the best strategy both for the individual and for the group*." He went on to note that when you use this technique for selection, you can select the best groups, you're also selecting the best individuals; and when individuals act in their own best interest, they're also acting for the group's best interests. *-AND-* 2. It occurred to me that, when applied to social networks, his credit assignment function is superficially similar to steemit's reputation system and voting aggregations. Which makes leads into another one of his topics, culture. ###### \[Image Source:, License: CC0, Public Domain\]
### Section 2: Culture A simple explanation of Thompson sampling, when applied to culture is this: 1. Look at what other people do. 2. If it looks useful copy it. It's a simple, but remarkably effective for innovation and progress. Good ideas spread and bad ones get lost in the crowd. The limitation is that three things are required: trusted data; known and monitored algorithms; and fair assessment of behavior. According to Pentland, fair assessment of behavior doesn't exist yet. Fake news, propaganda, and advertising all work in opposition to the desire for fair assessments of behavior. Accordingly, one of Pentland's objectives is to identify facts that everyone can agree on, like the US census - for example. This paragraph gives some insight into how he's thinking about it: > A common test I have for people that I run into is this: Do you know anybody who owns a pickup truck? It's the number-one selling vehicle in America, and if you don't know people like that, that tells me you are out of touch with more than fifty percent of America. Segregation is what we're talking about here, physical segregation that drives conceptual segregation. Most of America thinks of justice, and access, and fairness as being very different than the typical, say, Manhattanite. He extends this point by saying that economic segregation is on the rise around the world, and that in almost all places, the top quintile and bottom quintile of society never see each other. He has more to say about extreme wealth noting that Europe has deeply entrenched wealth and power, whereas America has so far resisted that entrenchment. In America, he says, "*If you win the lottery, you make your billion dollars, but your grandkids have to work for a living,*" which brings to mind the old axiom about there being three generations from shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves. As I recall, de Tocqueville also remarked on this difference in his, "[Democracy in America](". Additionally, he didn't mention it, but it occurs to me that by preventing copying, intellectual property rights may also impede Thompson sampling from operating effectively in human societies. In order to promote human cultural intelligence, Pentland is working on open algorithms and open data. He reports interest and support from surprising governments such as those in Europe, China, Latin America, and Arica. He reports that his projects include work in fields of health care and economics in places like these. Which segways into his discussion of government. ###### \[Image Source:, License: CC0, Public Domain\]
### Section 3: Government To me, one of the most surprising aspects of this article was its observation that regulators, bureaucracies, and other parts of government operate very much like instances of artificial intelligence. Information goes in, where it is sent through a variety of rules, bureaucratic hierarchies, and processes. After this processing, decisions come out. These decisions have real world impact, and in practical terms, there is little oversight. We get to cast a vote every year or two or four. From this observation, Pentland argues that more transparency is needed and that controls need to be far more granular. How can we know if our court system works, he asks, if we have no reliable data? He further notes that the digitization of media has led to a media that is failing us, and that when society doesn't have a trusted institution providing accurate information, they are subject to manipulation. Additionally, he notes that notions of justice have changed from informal and normative to formal, and that legal systems are failing as a result of that shift. This is the area of Pentland's commentary that I thought was the most speculative. It's hard to know if things are really as different as all that in the digital age, or if we are just more aware of it, because all of the blemishes have become more transparent when information flows at the speed of light. At any rate, it's hard to disagree with his desire for transparency and more granular control of the bureaucracies. ### Conclusion There's far more in the original article than I could adequately cover in this summary, so I emphatically recommend that you [click through]( and read the original or listen to the video. In my opinion, Pentland gave a fascinating, if wandering, discussion of AI, culture, and governance, and I especially intend to learn more about the concept of distributed Thompson sampling and Social Physics. --- ##### As a general rule, I up-vote comments that demonstrate "proof of reading".

--- #####
Thank you for your time and attention.

###### Steve Palmer is an IT professional with three decades of professional experience in data communications and information systems. He holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics, a master's degree in computer science, and a master's degree in information systems and technology management. He has been awarded 3 US patents. ###### Steve is a co-founder of the [Steemit's Best Classical Music]( Facebook page, and the @classical-music steemit curation account. ###### Follow: @remlaps ###### [RSS for @remlaps](, courtesy of []( ---
02 Nov 17:16

Campus insanity versus freedom of speech

by curryja

by Judith Curry

The aim of education is to make people think, not spare them from discomfort. – Robert Zimmer

Campus craziness

In case you haven’t been following this issue, there have been some disturbing events and trends in the ivory tower.  For an overview, see:

Two particular articles motivated this post:

Class struggle: how identity politics divided a campus.  At Reed College,  a freshman named Hunter Dillman who had been branded a racist after asking the organiser of a Latina student group an innocent question. He was ultimately hounded off campus.

Take Back the Ivory Tower.  Alice Dreger, author of Galileo’s Middle Finger, describes her travails as a researcher and public speaker with a non-‘politically correct’ perspective on intersex and transgendered persons.  She resigned her faculty position at Northwestern University over censorship issues.  Unfortunately the article is behind paywall, you can read the intro here.

My concern is that without viewpoint diversity where everyone is heard, research and scholarship suffers.  Further, students cocooning in safe spaces will be ill-prepared for dealing with the moral and political controversies and ambiguities that they will face throughout their lives.

Views from University administrators

A summary is provided by an Inside Higher Ed article: Presidents and Provosts Gather to Consider Free Speech Issues.  Some perspectives on these issues from individual University administrators:

Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro stresses the importance of safe spaces [link], which he defined as places on campus where students can find friends and build the confidence to have difficult conversations.

10 miles across town at the University of Chicago, President Robert Zimmer stated [link“Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called ‘trigger warnings,’ we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.” “Concerns about civility and mutual respect,” the committee wrote, “can never be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable those ideas may be to some members of our community.”

If you can’t speak freely, you’ll quickly lose the ability to think clearly. Your ideas will be built on a pile of assumptions you’ve never examined for yourself and may thus be unable to defend from radical challenges. You will be unable to test an original thought for fear that it might be labeled an offensive one. You will succumb to a form of Orwellian double-think without even having the excuse of living in physical terror of doing otherwise.

That is the real crux of Zimmer’s case for free speech: Not that it’s necessary for democracy (strictly speaking, it isn’t), but because it’s our salvation from intellectual mediocrity and social ossification. In a speech in July, he addressed the notion that unfettered free speech could set back the cause of “inclusion” because it risked upsetting members of a community.

“Inclusion into what?” Zimmer wondered. “An inferior and less challenging education? One that fails to prepare students for the challenge of different ideas and the evaluation of their own assumptions? A world in which their feelings take precedence over other matters that need to be confronted?”

Princeton University‘s President on pluralism and the art of disagreement:

This University, like any great university, encourages, and indeed demands, independence of mind.  We expect you to develop the ability to articulate your views clearly and cogently, to contend with and learn from competing viewpoints, and to modify your opinions in light of new knowledge and understanding. 

This emphasis on independent thinking is at the heart of liberal arts education.  It is a profoundly valuable form of education, and it can be exhilarating.  It can also at times be uncomfortable or upsetting because it requires careful and respectful engagement with views very different from your own.  I have already emphasized that we value pluralism at Princeton; we value it partly because of the vigorous disagreements that it generates.  You will meet people here who think differently than you do about politics, history, justice, race, religion, and a host of other sensitive topics.  To take full advantage of a Princeton education, you must learn and benefit from these disagreements, and to do that you must cultivate and practice the art of constructive disagreement.

Speaking up is not always easy.  As a student on this campus and, indeed, throughout your life—at work, in social settings, and in civic organizations—you will encounter moments when saying what you believe requires you to say something uncomfortable or unpopular.  Learning the art of disagreement can help you to choose the moments when it makes sense to speak, and to do so in ways that are effective, constructive, and respectful of the other voices around you.  But no matter how good you become at the art of disagreement, you will also need the personal courage to say what you believe—even if it is unpopular.

The UK is tackling this issue also [link].

It will not surprise you to hear that I am staunchly in Robert Zimmer’s corner on this.

Identity politics and the culture of victimhood

At the heart of this debate is identity politics and the culture of victimhood. From an article in Spiked:  Fear, Loathing and Victimhood.  Excerpts:

Some not limited by circumstance sometimes choose victimhood, adopting fashionable assumptions about their fragility and subordinate status.

There are, after all, substantial advantages to declaring yourself disadvantaged. Victims never have to say they’re sorry. Apologies – and accountability – are for victimisers. Victims are creditors, owed not just compassion but practical relief, like the power to censor whatever they consider offensive speech. The expression of unwelcome images or ideas in the presence of self-identified victims is labelled another form of victimisation, as student demands for trigger warnings and ‘safe spaces’ suggest.

Free inquiry is unnecessary to people convinced they have absolute truth on their side. It’s considered unfair or abusive to people presumed to require the suppression of contrary ideas in order to be ‘free’ to express their own. In this perverse and nonsensical view, freedom lies not in de-regulating speech but in re-regulating it, to protect a growing list of victim groups.

By now, successive generations of students have been taught to regard free speech as the enemy of equality and simple human decency.

Who may qualify as a victim – subordinate or even oppressed and, therefore, entitled to restrict other people’s liberties? On many campuses virtually anyone except a narrow category of white, heterosexual (or cisgender) Christian or Jewish men who aren’t obese, physically or mentally disabled and haven’t been sexually abused can claim membership in a disadvantaged group. In some circles, off campus, the opposite is true: virtually no one except white heterosexual Christians can lay claim to being victimised – by a ‘war’ on Christmas, secularism, gay marriage and the ‘homosexual agenda’, affirmative action’s ‘reverse discrimination’, and immigration, whether involving Mexicans, Muslims or others from whom members of a dwindling white majority aim to ‘take our country back’. Visit a progressive campus immediately before attending a Donald Trump rally or browse a right-wing Christian website and your head will be spun by polarised versions of reality and victimisation.

Identity politics and the victimism it fuels are non-partisan, inter-generational phenomena. 

Who’s doing what to whom? That is the question posed by identity politics and our debased legal and political discourse. Framing ideological opponents as either victims or oppressors exacerbates the rigidity of identity groups and invites authoritarianism, right and left. By reflexively declaring yourself a victim, you doubt or diminish your own agency and encourage appeals by demagogues who confirm your angry sense of impotence and promise to take charge – to be strong where you are weak. That is one ominous lesson of the Trump campaign, an exemplary and often overlooked exercise in victimism and identity politics.

Some articles on the ‘oppressors’ as ‘victims’:

And what about ‘climate deniers’ who are ‘victims’ of, among other things, lawsuits by Michael Mann (who feels ‘victimized’ by climate deniers). Ha ha. It never ends.  Mann’s recent lecture on academic freedom is not to be missed, it made my irony meter explode.

The pernicious aspects of victimization are many, but of relevance here is that it is stifling freedom of speech and university scholarship. Further, victimization sanctions teach students that an easy way to gain political power is through identification with victimized groups and shouting down your opponents, rather than through accomplishments and arguments.

Freedom of speech

Which leads us to some fundamental reflections on freedom of speech, in context of universities and scholarship.

The Brookings Institution has published results from a survey of college students regarding freedom of speech.  Excerpts:

Does the First Amendment protect “hate speech”? 39% Yes, 44% No, 16% Don’t Know.

Do you agree with those shouting down speaker who “is known for making offensive and hurtful statements”? 51% Yes, 49% No. 

Do you agree with those who use violence to prevent speech by someone who ”is known for making offensive and hurtful statements”? 19% Yes, 81% No. 

An article from Forbes:  Students aren’t the only ones who don’t understand free speech.  Excerpts:

The author of the Brooking’s study, John Villasenor, speculates that “if college faculty and administrators were asked the questions in this survey, the results would, at least in broad terms, be similar to the student results.”

Sadly, even though we don’t have polling of university faculty on the question, observance of everyday practice would seem to support Villasenor’s speculation. According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, 33.9% of public universities have policies that severely restrict freedom of speech. Another 52.8% have policies that narrowly restrict speech or policies that could be applied in an unconstitutional way. Only 6% of universities do not seriously threaten free speech.

This implicates another finding of the Brookings study that showed 53% of college students believe that the universities mission is to “create a positive learning environment for all students by prohibiting certain speech or expression of viewpoints that are offensive or biased against certain groups of people” rather than expose students to different viewpoints.

This last finding perhaps gets at the root of the problem. Yes, it’s true students don’t understand free speech. But perhaps that is because no one is teaching them.

From:  Does Disruption Violate Free Speech?

Contrary to the view of these protesters, individuals do not have a right to prevent others from speaking. It has long been recognized in constitutional law that the “heckler’s veto” — defined as the suppression of speech in order to appease disruptive, hostile, or threatening members of the audience — can be as much a threat to rights of free expression as government censorship.

The idea that private individuals cannot censor what the government is required to protect played a vitally important role during the civil-rights movement, when courts prevented officials in the South from stopping speeches and marches based on the threat of hostile audiences.

A thoughtful scholarly analysis of the free speech issue:  The US safe space campus controversy and the paradox of freedom of speech.  The paper  discusses the moral foundations of freedom of expression.

And finally, an excellent article from the New York Times on how to respond to situations such as white nationalist Richard Spencer who gave a talk at University of Florida.

JC reflections

Universities play a hugely important role in scientific and public debate; this is where ideas are tested and scrutinized.  Students learn to make effective arguments, and learn from considering the arguments of those that disagree with them.  Its a place where students grow into critically thinking, rational adults, ready to grapple with the moral and political issues they will encounter in adult life.

Well that’s the way it is supposed to work.  For the past decade, universities have become increasingly dysfunctional with political correctness and identity politics, to the exclusion of alternative perspectives. In my essay JC in transition, I didn’t see any hope for personally effecting any change, so I resigned my faculty position and went on to other things.

While a faculty member and Department Chair, I went out of my way to interact and support individual  students that needed help, were conflicted, etc.  Often this related financial issues, family issues, health issues, conflicts with other students or staff members, harassment, concerns about grades and career prospects, death of a faculty member.  I also instituted a series of informal panel discussion on topic related to a broad range of student concerns. Universities should have a good support system in place to help individual students that need it.

With regards to any feelings of group victimization, I have to say I have never had time for this.  Students will seek out other students who share common interests and concerns, and develop informal support groups.  Wasting their energy on group identity issues, in the absence of specific, concrete concerns of their own, is a distraction from dealing with a student’s own challenges and overcoming their own obstacles. It teaches them some really bad habits for dealing with the challenges in adult life..

There is a more pernicious aspect to all this — students (and activist faculty members) are using group victimization as a method to gain political power and to ostracize people with different perspectives.

There are inevitably injustices in any organization; the challenge is to identify them and work together to formulate constructive and equitable solutions.  It is not a solution to institutionalize marginalization of anyone with a different perspective.  This sends the whole system down a slippery slope of political polarization, demagoguery and intellectual mediocrity.

I applaud the work of to educate and and work to implement changes at universities to support viewpoint diversity.

In closing, a recent statement by former Vice President Joe Biden:

I taught constitutional law at Widener law school for 22 years. The First Amendment is one of the defining features of who we are in the Bill of Rights. And to shut it down in the name of what is appropriate is simply wrong. It’s wrong.


02 Nov 16:53

Understanding Segwit2x: Why Bitcoin's Next Fork Might Not Mean Free Money

by Pete Rizzo
CoinDesk offers a high-level overview of the coming Segwit2x fork, how it differs from the hard forks before it and what it might mean for bitcoin.
02 Nov 14:27

A More User-Friendly Bitcoin Market? OpenBazaar Version 2.0 Is Here

by Brady Dale
The startup behind OpenBazaar has released version 2.0 of its popular bitcoin market, with new features and more user-friendly interface.
02 Nov 14:22

Bitcoin 'Battle'? Core Developers Apathetic as Segwit2x Fork Approaches

by Alyssa Hertig
Bitcoin developers, once outraged by the Segwit2x hard fork, are now indifferent, believing it stands no chance of replacing bitcoin.
31 Oct 23:59

Legal Risks of Segregated Witness in Bitcoin: Law Journal Article

by Jimmy Nguyen - Chief IP, Communications & Legal Officer

In his law journal article, “The Risks of Segregated Witness: Problems under Electronic Contract and Evidence Laws,” nChain executive Jimmy Nguyen raises key legal issues triggered by the implementation of Segregated Witness (and the proposed SegWit 2x) in bitcoin.  SegWit is intended to answer Bitcoin’s critical question – how to scale the network to achieve faster transactions and improved usage – by separating signature data from transaction data. But in doing so, as Nguyen argues, SegWit fundamentally alters the nature of bitcoin and makes it difficult to authenticate blockchain-recorded transactions under the leading legal frameworks for both electronic contracts and evidentiary laws.

Published in The Computer & Internet Lawyer journal, Nguyen’s article asks: what happens if companies and consumers cannot easily authenticate and prove transactions later, in the case of legal disputes? These risks could impede the greater vision of Bitcoin 2.0, in which bitcoin is used both as a currency and as a way to power technological functions like smart contracts. Nguyen concludes that SegWit hinders the network’s ability to be demonstrably reliable and authentic to businesses, courts, regulators, and legislators.

Jimmy Nguyen’s full article is available for download here.

The post Legal Risks of Segregated Witness in Bitcoin: Law Journal Article appeared first on nChain.

30 Oct 18:49 Updates: Design and Security

New homepage layout

We've been busy synthesizing community feedback and designing ways to improve Over the next few weeks, we'll be rolling out a series of changes to the User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI). To kick things off, we've started a series of small improvements to the homepage which are explained below by our Head of Design, Pon Kattera:

Putting people first

We've included the author's profile picture alongside each blog post. It's the people within our community that makes Steemit special and we hope this small change helps to deepen the connection between you and your fans.

Improve the scannability of each blog post and separate the key actions

We changed the layout of the post summary. By separating the author and timestamp from the key user actions (like upvote and reblog), it's now easier to quickly scan posts with elements in predictable, consistent places.

A picture is worth a thousand words

We've built a new expanded blog view layout. This gives you another more visual layout to browse posts. There is a toggle so you can quickly switch between the compressed and expanded views.

A new right sidebar on desktop

Yes, it does look a little lonely out there right now but this new structure sets us up for some new content items currently in development. --- Design is never done. In this period while we're testing new designs and rolling out changes, there are some visual inconsistencies scattered across the site. We're acutely aware of this and we’re working hard to unify the design and make it better. *@pkattera*

Improving security

The following pull requests help make condenser ( more secure.

Accidental private key sharing

[Pull request 1763]( added a warning to users who accidentally paste their private keys in the memo field when doing a wallet transfer. ![](

Malicious link warnings

[Pull request 1839]( will prevent malicious links from being clickable and will show the actual URL behind them. The text will be changed to red to warn users. Any link where the actual URL does not match the URL that is being displayed will be changed. You will now see something like this: ![]( Instead of: ![]( [Pull request 1822]( added a warning to the wallet history to caution users about potentially malicious links that may be sent as wallet transfer memos. ![](

Change to hide-post logic

[Pull request 1838]( updated the logic to show and hide posts so that any user’s post can be hidden if it receives enough downvotes. Previously users with a reputation of 65 or higher were exempt from being hidden. This will prevent malicious users from being able to use a hijacked level 65+ reputation account to post links without being hidden by downvotes.

Other changes

- “Submit a Story” was changed to “Post” in [pull request 1768]( - [Pull request 1808]( updated the “Claim Rewards” button so that users know it is in progress, and cannot click it a second time while it is still working. ![]( - The user profile page that users see if they view their own blog when they haven’t made any posts yet was updated to have new links. ([Pull request 1785]( ![]( - [Pull request 1787]( ensures that hashtags found in a post are only added to the categories if they don't exceed the limit of five. This will prevent users from getting a validation error if they use more than five hashtags in the post body. #fun #hashaway - Links were added to the main menu for "The Steemit Shop" and the "Steem Bluepaper" ([Pull request 1724]( ![]( - [Pull request 1804]( made several updates to the FAQ page to clarify the stolen account recovery process.

More to come

The recent changes to are the first of many that we will be making to the website layout over the coming months, so stay tuned and *Steem On*! _Team Steemit_
30 Oct 18:48

Update your STEEM apps! Big changes coming for 3rd party developers We have created a new public [jussi]( endpoint for third party applications to use. Jussi is our custom built caching layer, for use with steemd and other various services (such as [SBDS]( The jussi endpoint is available now at ``. [Condenser]( (the front-end application for is already using `` today. We encourage all third party developers to begin using the new endpoint right away. We are planning to deprecate the `` endpoint in favor of `` in the near future. ### What does this mean for third party developers? For our public steemd endpoint using, apps will need to speak to it through http/jsonrpc instead of websockets. The libraries we maintain will soon be updated to default to instead of ``, which will cover a lot of apps that don't set an endpoint and just use the default. JSONRPC has been chosen to be used for all of our infrastructure for a variety of reasons; the two biggest being the ability to more easily load balance and manage connections, and the ease of use for new developers - as JSONRPC is much more common than websockets. ### Is it going to be difficult to update my steem apps? In most cases it will be extremely easy to make this change. The four most popular steem libraries (steem-js, steem-python, radiator, and dsteem) that the majority of steem apps are built with already support http/jsonrpc. Other libraries may as well. All you'll need to do is update the endpoint/url to `` from the older `wss://`. If you have a custom written app that doesn't use one of the popular libraries you will need to change your transport method to http/jsonrpc from websockets. ### How long do I have? The timeframe for deprecating `` is not determined yet, but you should start implementing this change as soon as possible if you are using our public nodes for your STEEM apps. We will announce a final date before the endpoint is taken away.
30 Oct 18:46

Thinking out loud. What does Metcalfe's Law tell us about Bitcoin or Steem adoption?

On LinkedIn recently, steemit's CEO, @ned, shared this video of a Tech Insider interview with Tom Lee talking about his Bitcoin valuation model. According to Lee, a model using Metcalfe's law predicts something like 94% of Bitcoin's pricing over the last year or so. So what is Metcalfe's law? According to [wikipedia]('s_law): > Metcalfe's law states that the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system (n2). First formulated in this form by George Gilder in 1993, and attributed to Robert Metcalfe in regard to Ethernet, Metcalfe's law was originally presented, c. 1980, not in terms of users, but rather of "compatible communicating devices" (for example, fax machines, telephones, etc.). So if Lee is right, as long as Bitcoin's user base is growing, we can expect to see **powerful** growth in the price of Bitcoin. To understand how Bitcoin will grow, we just need to appreciate the explosive potential of n2. (Those of us who were here in the days of Steem's N2 rewards curve definitely have a sense of it!) It looks like this: | # Users | Valuation factor | | --------- | ------ | | 1 | 1 | | 2 | 4 | | 3 | 9 | | 4 | 16 | | 5 | 25 | | ... | ... | | 10 | 100 | | ... | ... | So after a very short time, every additional user adds much more than 1 unit in increased value. If you double the number of users, you multiply the valuation factor by 4, and if you increase the number of users by a factor of 10, the valuation factor multiplies by 100, and so on. If you start with 10,000 users, adding just a single user increases the valuation factor by 20,001. Amazing. --- **In short:** _**Every existing user becomes more valuable to the network whenever a new user is added.**_ --- Now, if we assume this is correct about Bitcoin, then go a step further and also assume that it's true about Steem, then what does this tell us? Here are a couple of things off the top of my head. 1.) It goes a long way towards explaining why people on Steem are so eager to get other people to sign-up. I've been in IT since before the dotcom boom, and I cannot think of another platform where people have made their own marketing gizmos for the platorm to the extent that you see it here. With Steem, tons of people (myself included) have made their own steemit branded T-shirts, coffee cups, brochures, and other sorts of paraphernalia. 2.) It tells us that recruiting new users is more important for the network than getting existing users to participate more, and that - counterintuitively - it might even make economic sense for Bitcoin or Steem holders to give away small amounts of Bitcoin or Steem to new users for free. 3.) And this is big. It tells a potential new user that, "Your investment in Bitcoin or Steem will automatically increase in value just because you make it." (How weird is that?) So those are my thoughts. I'm interested to hear what others have to say. If we assume that Metcalfe's Law describes the growth of Bitcoin and Steem prices, what insights might that lead to? --- ##### As a general rule, I up-vote comments that demonstrate "proof of reading".

--- #####
Thank you for your time and attention.

###### Steve Palmer is an IT professional with three decades of professional experience in data communications and information systems. He holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics, a master's degree in computer science, and a master's degree in information systems and technology management. He has been awarded 3 US patents. ###### Steve is a co-founder of the [Steemit's Best Classical Music]( Facebook page, and the @classical-music steemit curation account. ###### Follow: @remlaps ###### [RSS for @remlaps](, courtesy of []( ---
30 Oct 18:40

Beethoven, Grieg, and Brahms in South-Eastern Pennsylvania: Reviewing a Concert by the Lenape Chamber Ensemble

--- ###### A Review of the Lenape Chamber Ensemble's October 15 concert at Delaware Valley University, near Doylestown, PA. --- ### Introduction A couple weeks ago, @cmp2020 was invited to turn pages for his piano instructor at a performance by the [Lenape Chamber Ensemble]( The performance was held in the Life Sciences Auditorium at [Delaware Valley University](, near Doylestown, PA. They have more performances scheduled in November, March, and April, so I thought I would write up a review for anyone near south-eastern PA that might enjoy an experience like this. ### Venue If I recall correctly, according to the fire capacity sign, the Life Sciences Auditorium held a maximum of about 300 people. I would guess that it was about 2/3 full. With a sound screen positioned behind the piano, and the shape of the auditorium, the acoustics sounded great to me. Audience members had their choice of seats on the ground level or in the balcony. I spoke to several members of the audience, and they told me that they had been seeing performances by this pianist for as many as the last 20 years. Several audience members complimented the pianist's skills with claims that he is excellent and amazing. Claims with which I came to agree. If I have any complaint at all about the experience, it would only be that there was another event scheduled at the university at the same time, so parking was a little bit difficult. ### Performers Stringed instruments were played by Cyrus Beroukhim - violin, Emily Daggett Smith - violin, Danielle Farina - viola, and Arash Amini - cello. Piano was played by Marcantonio Barone. The program and the [Ensemble's web site]( list the performers' backgrounds, and even before the first note, I was quite impressed by all of them. Here are some highlights from the group's web site. [Cyrus Beroukhim]( (violin) plays with the New York City ballet and has appeared as a soloist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, New York Symphonic Ensemble, Oakland East Bay Symphony, and others. He also holds a doctorate from [The Juilliard School]( [Emily Dagget Smith]( (violin) has appeared in a number of prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall, Disney Hall in Los Angeles, and Boston's Symphony Hall. She also appeared as a soloist with the Juilliard Orchestra and the New York Classical Players. She has appeared on PBS' national broadcast, "Live at Lincoln Center", and twice on NPR's "From the Top." [Danielle Farina]( (viola) has a diverse resume, including roles as soloist, chamber musician, orchestral musician, teacher and recording artist. She performs classical and popular music, and has toured extensively in North America and Europe. She is also on faculty of the Manhattan School of Music's Contemporary Performance Program, Vassar College, Hunter College and the Juilliard School's Pre-College Division. [Arash Amini]( (cello) has performed as a soloist, orchestral and chamber musician in North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia, including Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. He is a graduate of [The Curtis Institute of Music]( and [The Juilliard School]( He performs often with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and has been featured in a large variety of media from The Wall Street Journal to NPR and Voice of America. [Marcantonio Barone]( (piano) first played with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the age of 10. Since then, he has performed with orchestras in North America, South America, Europe and Asia including Philadelphia, New York, Houston, London, Moscow, and St. Petersburg. He is also a graduate of [The Curtis Institute of Music]( I arrived about a half hour early, so I had plenty of time to read through their summaries several times before the event started. After doing so, I was eager to hear the performance, and I am pleased to report that the music far exceeded my, already lofty, expectations. Honorable mention goes to @cmp2020. In addition to his primary role turning pages for Mr. Barone, he also did an excellent job with rearranging the music stands and seats for the musicians, even receiving a small scattering of applause for his technique at handling the equipment. ; -) ### Musical Selections #### Beethoven's String Quartet in A, Op. 18, No. 5 According to the program handout, this work was created in 1799, when Beethoven was famous for his virtuosity on the piano, and was beginning to gain a reputation as a composer. He learned to compose for string quartets, largely by studying the works of Haydn and Mozart. This was his first one, and he spent more than a year polishing it. Without being a copy, Quartet number 5 was patterned - movement by movement - after [Mozart's Quartet in A \(K. 464\)]( As with much of Mozarts' music, much of this quartet has a light, playful, lilting quality to it. I didn't take any recordings that day, but here is a video of the piece that I found on youtube. The performance in the video is done by the Alban Berg Quartett. #### Grieg's Violin Sonata No. 2 in G minor, Op. 13 Although @cmp2020 has studied piano with Mr. Barone for more than a year, now, this was my first time seeing him play. I thought he was simply fantastic, as was Ms. Smith on violin. My only disappointment is that I frequently distracted myself by watching @cmp2020 turning the pages, because this was my first time seeing him do that, too. It's curious to note how interesting page turning becomes when your son is the one doing it. Interestingly, although the piece has a pensive tone to it, Grieg composed it on his honeymoon. According to the handout, that is because the Scandinavian musical style at the time was nationalistic, and Grieg wrote this piece to resemble the typical Norwegian village scene of his native land. Here is a youtube video of the piece that was performed by David Oistrakh and Vladimir Yampolsky in 1958. #### Brahms' Piano Trio in C Major, Op. 87 I am not always a fan of Brahms' music, but I really enjoyed this piece. As Beethoven was influenced by Mozart and Haydn, Brahms was influenced by Beethoven. The first movement of this work and the finale both have three main themes, somewhat somber in tone. The second movement reveals Brahms' interest in gypsy music, and the third movement, a scherzo (a light-hearted or humorous composition that often takes the place of the more formal minuet), has been described as "an eerie rustling light". It seemed to me that the third movement is the one that really showcased the musicians' skills. Here is a video of the work from 1974, performed by Eugene Istomin, piano; Isaac Stern, violín; and Leonard Rose, cello. ### Conclusion If you are near south-eastern Pennsylvania on the dates of one of the ensemble's upcoming concerts, I highly recommend it. Tickets are $18 for adults, $5 for children, and $15 for seniors and students. In my opinion, this is an amazingly low price to hear music played by such talented performers. According to [the web site]( upcoming concerts are scheduled on Nov 3 and 5, March 2 and 4, and April 6 and 8. Friday night events are held at the Upper Tinicum Lutheran Church. Sunday events are held at Delaware Valley University. The web site also has [directions]( --- ####
Thank you for your time and attention!

###### Steve Palmer is an IT professional with three decades of professional experience in data communications and information systems. He holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics, a master's degree in computer science, and a master's degree in information systems and technology management. He has been awarded 3 US patents. ###### Steve is a co-founder of the [Steemit's Best Classical Music]( Facebook page, and the @classical-music steemit curation account. ###### Follow: @remlaps ###### [RSS for @remlaps](, courtesy of []( ---
30 Oct 18:36

Q: What nation on Earth has reduced its carbon emissions more than any other? - Publications – AEI

by Mark Perry

h/t Jts5665

Q: What nation on Earth has reduced its carbon emissions more than any other?

Inconvenient Answer: According to climatologist Dr. Patrick Michaels, it’s “the good old USA, and that’s because we’ve been substituting natural gas for coal for power generation” as can be seen in the top chart above, which shows that CO2 emissions from electric power generation in the US last year were the lowest in 28 years, going all the way back to 1988. How often is that reported in the media?

Update: Bottom chart above shows total US CO2 emissions, which were the lowest during the January-June period this year since 1992, 25 years ago.

In the video below, Dr. Patrick Michaels, director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute and author of the book Lukewarming: The New Climate Science that Changes Everything, offers a current assessment of the political debate over climate change. He explains how the free market is allowing natural gas to be substituted for coal  worldwide at a rate that will achieve a lower level of global warming than would occur with strict adherence to the regulations of the Paris Accords.

Q: What nation on Earth has reduced its carbon emissions more than any other?
Mark Perry

18 Oct 18:09

EPA harnessed: Pruitt Issues Directive to End EPA “Sue & Settle” Practice

by Anthony Watts
From Dr. Roy Spencer, who says he received this via EPA’s email system. It isn’t on the EPA website yet, but I’m guessing their press office is running slow today due to the shock. However, it has been covered by the Washington Times who apparently got the same email. It was an “oral directive” since…
18 Oct 17:36

IBM's Stellar Move: Tech Giant Uses Cryptocurrency in Cross-Border Payments

by Michael del Castillo
IBM has been settling real cross-border payments in the South Pacific on a blockchain using Stellar's Lumen cryptocurrency.