Articles to 2016-04-01

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First the link to this week’s complete list as HTML and as PDF.


In a striking example of political correctness Mattson more or less verbatim states: “Radiation hormesis has been demonstrated in many experiments, but we refuse to accept it, as that would draw the rug out under the religiously required demonisation of nuclear energy.” Eppur si muove!


Undoubtedly carbon dioxide does have a warming influence on climate and volcanic CO2-accumulation probably was what finally thawed the snowball earth some 650 Ma ago. That said, by Gasson et al.’s own admission most of their proxies are poorly constrained and poorly resolved temporally, so causation and temporal order can’t be demonstrated. Given enough tuneable parameters any model can show anything you want it to and they admit they imposed temperature and CO2 values, that their models failed to generate on their own. So what do we make of it? Is carbon dioxide primary and does it drive the sun’s orbit and insolation among other things, or is the sun the primary driver for climate, and carbon dioxide a resulting effect following climate in preindustrial and preagricultural times? If it has to be artificially imposed on the models for the Miocene, can it be the models have the causality backwards and quite the wrong order of magnitude for the size of atmospheric positive feedback? Models are not data and just because something is shown to be possible, it need not be true. I’m just glad that the standards of proof have not deteriorated as much in the courts (yet), as they have in politically motivated science.

There were times when temperatures and sea level were higher than today and as long as models can’t reproduce those conditions without undue and unwarranted meddling, how can we have faith in them predicting the same values for the future?


I am somewhat unhappy about Gächter & Schulz’s choice of the term "intrinsic honesty", when what they are talking about is culturally modulated personal honesty. Their study design focusing on averages intentionally masks the large range of interpersonal variation. They do not cite Greene 2009 (PNAS 106, 12506–11) who focused on the truly intrinsic contribution to honesty. I believe – although admittedly I can’t cite any sources for this – that this personality trait manifests at a very early age, long before influences from the wider society can have any importance.

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