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Comment: Re:Goodbye free speech (Score 1) 205 205

I suspect that the death penalty is different from incarceration however - in that I truly believe it doesn't have much deterrent effect at all.
In areas where you have gang violence and the like - why be scared of execution your chances of being killed is so high to begin with that if anything sitting on death row increases your life expectancy.
For the suburb case there are basically three common motives for murder.
Crimes of passion: by definition these cannot be deterred, a crime of passion is an emotional act done in the moment, it doesn't include any rational thought - if it had, it wouldn't be a crime of passion, so since there is no rational consideration, there is no deterrence for it.
Crimes of insanity: again, a crazy person isn't thinking rationally, since their acts are not rationally considered, no rational consideration can deter them.
Crimes of greed: the guy who murders out of greed did make a rational decision - but he also believes he will get away with it (nobody murders out of greed if he expects to get caught) - so the punishment isn't a deterrent as he strongly expects never to experience it.

It's unlikely the death penalty has any deterrent effect whatsoever. I'm still not sure incarceration does - though like I said in the original post, it obviously reduces your odds of committing the crime again if only by making it impossible for a while.
Comparing crime rates across countries is never a very useful comparison (just look at every gun control debate) as there are simply too many factors (socio-economic, environmental etc.) which influence crime rates but are not being factored in for, but a more useful comparison is to look at countries where the death penalty was banned - and see how crime rates before and after compared.
The answer in every country I know about is - immediately before and after they were the same, over the longer term crime rates declined, but only by the same rate they were declining before.
So the conclusion appears to be that banning the death penalty had no impact whatsoever on crime rates anywhere it's been done.

Interestingly - here in South Africa the death penalty was banned in 1994. At the time South Africa had the highest crime rate in the world (a murder every 17 seconds). It declined rapidly over the next few years, but this is likely because so much of that crime was political in nature and the politcal environment had changed. Since 2000 there has been a steady decline (while the crime rate is still unacceptably high we are nowhere near the top of the list anymore) - yet calls to reinstate the death penalty remain incredibly popular among the population, one of the few things South Africans of all races actually agree on.
Personally I'm opposed to it, but I find it interesting that it's such a popular concept despite the fact that it very obviously had no impact on crime rates at all - yet it's deterrent effect is the most commonly cited reason for bringing it back. Which proves, I suppose, that what we consider "common sense" will trump facts and evidence every time.

Comment: Re:Goodbye free speech (Score 1) 205 205

If that is the methodology then indeed it would be the lowest - since they have the longest sentences, and so the the biggest gap where you can't repeat the crime, also that long gap in it must reduce the risk of going back to it (if only because it breaks your networks).

I strongly suspect that if you count "number of times the crime was likely committed before you were caught the first time" that for rape it is near the top - the rate of rapes occurring versus the amount of actual rapists suggest this almost has to be the case.

Murder is interesting as it's usually a very high profile crime with a lot of media attention - so police tend to have a lot of motivation to get the guy, this may reduce the number of times you can get away with it before you are caught. But even then it varies by who the victim is.
The likelihood of getting away with killing a white girl is simply much lower than if you kill a black man - society just cares less in the latter case, and so the police does as well.

Comment: Re:Goodbye free speech (Score 1) 205 205

Actually that conclusion doesn't follow even if you accept the premise. Most severe crimes are committed by repeat offenders who commit them many times - over and over.

So even if you accept the premise that prison has no deterent effect (a premise not entirely without merit I guess) it still doesn't follow that without a justice system crime rates would be unchanged - simply because it doesn't account for the crimes not committed while serving your sentence.

Comment: Re:Projections based on what? (Score 1) 310 310

>Nobody has proved that the rate at which energy leaves the system has decreased
We proved that in the 19th century already. That's what "greenhouse gas" means.

>Examples of positive feedback loops in nature are exceedingly rare
Utterly false- all of evolution is nothing BUT positive feedback loops. Something evolves eggs - now egg-eaters can evolve, so the egglayers evolve better defences.
One of the biggest ones in the case of climate change is that methane is a worse greenhouse gas than CO2. Most methane in the world is trapped under ice. Ice melts, methane is released, heat increases, more ice melts. While all this means lowering the earth's albedo so even less heat is radiated... now you've got two mutually reinforcing feedback loops.

>You are a CO2 producing engine with every breath you take.
A half-truth at best. Animals and plants are CO2 neutral. You produce no more CO2 than the carbon you ate before. For every atom of carbon in your breath - you had to consume an atom of carbon first, which you got from plants that got it from CO2 taken from the atmosphere.

Comment: Re:Projections based on what? (Score 1) 310 310

That depends on the time-frame. It's not one number, it's an exponential sliding scale.

The thirty year average we normally use in climate studies is still far more complex than describing a climate age. When we say "in the cambrian era the climate had these attributes" absolutely nobody expresses much doubt, even though we have far less evidence for that. We derive it by looking at what sort of organisms evolved at the time and, if we're lucky, maybe an ice-core here and there. A bit of geological evidence may hold some clues too.

So how come that is almost unquestioningly accepted ? Because a description of the climate over a period of several hundred million years is exponentially simpler than over one million years, let alone over centuries or decades...get down to months and weeks and our models break down within 5 days.

All the things deniers claim against climate models today apply far more to our models of ancient climates - and we have far less evidence to support those claims. But there is hardly any questioning about those (in fact deniers keep CITING those to try and argue that climate change cannot be influenced by man - considering every OTHER organism that has ever existed has influenced climate that's a bit silly in my view - why would WE be the only one that CAN'T ? We're just not that special. Fricking algae changed the climate and atmospheric composition irrevocably - they seriously believe we can't outdo ALGAE ?!).

Why don't they doubt the oxygen levels of near 40% in the carboniferous era ? The only evidence we have for that is giant insects (which needs that level to breath) and the fact that apparently trees all fossilized instead of decomposing at the time - and produced our fossil fuels.

Compared to the thousands of pieces of evidence for climate change today - from hundreds of disparate scientific fields with no other significant contact between them...
The only difference is that there is no political gain to be made from denying the carboniferous.

Sure there are scientists who question it - investigate it and may find evidence that one day leads to us adjusting that value to say 35% or 55% instead. But there's no news debates about that, it's scientists dispasionately collaborating by questioning each other - without malice.
Why the malice from deniers today ? Why the desperate desire to call themselves sceptics (even when they decidedly are not since sceptics by definition are people who support the theory with the most evidence) ?

It's got nothing to do with the science. The science is open to question - and frequently revised with new data as it should be. Technically we're at climate change theory number 500 and something. But the core theory is unchanged. It's fine detail adjustment - much like there have been lots of fine detail adjustment with Darwin's theory but the core theory remains intact.

But we have no theory that offers a better explanation of the observations. The hypotheses that have been advanced not only lack a single shred of evidence but are flat out disproven by the evidence we do have.
All the actual sceptics are supporting climate change because a sceptic is somebody who believes the evidence over their own ideology.

Comment: Re:Projections based on what? (Score 2) 310 310

Anyone who has taken thermodynamics also knows that if you reduce the rate at which energy leaves a system then the total energy in the system will go up over time.
Anybody who understands complexity theory knows that this is absolutely guaranteed to cause feedback loops in a complex system which accelerates the effect.

That's the problem with climate change denial - the evidence you would need to disprove climate change would also disprove all of physics AND chemistry.
Sure there is a chance it's wrong - but in a universe where it IS wrong, cars and powerplants don't work so the question is never asked - after all, why would anybody build CO2 producing engines in a universe where they don't serve any useful purpose ?

Comment: Re:Projections based on what? (Score 5, Insightful) 310 310

>Considering we don't know what the temperature will be tomorrow, or whether it will rain at my house, I'm pretty sure we don't know what the climate will be in 100 years. So, not settled in my book.

That's a ridiculously stupid claim to make. Climate is a LOT simpler than weather. Many, many orders of magnitude simpler. Why ? Because climate is an average.

If I ask you to predict the final results of a high school student randomly chosen, odds are you'd get it wrong almost every time.
If I give you a bunch of background information on him and his grades up until now, you'll get it right more often but almost never 100% for all subjects and there will still be outliers that surprize you.
Predicting a kid's final results is HARD -even with lots of data.

On the other hand - if I ask you to predict the average grade distribution for the state of New York for an entire high-school senior class and you say "It will be a normal-distribution" you will be right almost every time ! In fact, we're so confident in that outcome that if it's anything else that is - in and off itself - legally considered proof that there was large-scale cheating in the exam !

Same principle - even when it's VERY hard to predict a single data point, predicting an AVERAGE of those data points is far easier.
Climate is an average of weather over long periods (30 years typically). That's a LOT simpler to predict than the individual weather points that make it up.

Memory fault - where am I?