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Comment Arrogant Scientist Are Not Project Managers (Score 2, Insightful) 505

I hate to break it to you but all programming is highly specialized. Climatology is in no way special in this regard.

Neither do programmers have to understand the abstract model of the program to write it or evaluate it. The vast majority of professional programmers do not understand the abstract model of the code they create. You do not have to be a high-level accountant to write corporate accounting software and you don't have to be a doctor to write medical software. Most programmers spend most of their time implementing models created by non-programmers from fields of which the programmers have no detailed knowledge.

Does that mean that programmers can't spot crappy code just because they don't understand the details of the model? No, it does not. Most software errors don't arise from the model but from sloppy practices in the management of the software project itself. An experienced programmer doesn't even have to know the language of project to see that it's creation and maintenance was incompetently handled.

You don't have to be a climatologist to know that the CRU software was utter crap that would produce sound outputs only by divine intervention. For any experienced programmer, it was immediately obvious that it was a great reeking gob of amateur coding with no structure, no plan and no standards. In my experience, most scientific software is like the CRU software. It evolves in an ad hoc manner over many years with no governing organizational structure.

Commercial software developers have created a wide range of tools and procedures to manage large, vital projects. In the main, scientist use none of these tools and most of them appear unaware they even exist much less why and when they are needed. As a result most scientific software project management is completely amateurish. If most scientific software were written for commercial applications, the developers would be sued or imprisoned for fraud.

Scientist tend to be arrogant and dismissive of the work of others especially those who work in the commercial sector. You believe that because you understand climatology that you therefore understand all the tools you are using. Well you don't. You think that because no one can understand your abstract model that therefore they cannot find significant errors in your code. Well, they can. You think we should reengineer our entire civilization based on your unquestioned and unexamined computerized ivory tower auguries.

Well, we won't.

Your just going to have to suck it up and withstand the at least the same scrutiny we give important commercial software.

Comment Re:It's Crap and Here's Why (Score 1) 474

Well, its a common trope that anyone who disagrees with a leftist is a rightwing ideolouges.

The basic problem here is that politicians gain power when people are afraid of something and they turn to the state for protection.

Since WWII, the right has specialized in making people afraid of external enemies and criminals. When people fear external attack or crime, they vote for the right.

Since the late 60's, the left has specialized in making people afraid of busines and technology. When people fear the economically productive and technology, they vote left.

Tens of millions of people today are absolutely convinced they are being poisened, irraidated, genetically modified etc by evil corporations and that there only hope to survive lays in investing leftist with greater and greater amounts of state power.

Just as we can with some justice accuse those on the right of magnifing fears about terrorism, we can accuse those on the left of magnifying fears about technology and the businesses that create it. They have a powerful motive to do so regardless of whether the threat is real or not.

I think we should keep that in mind when people start impunging motives.

Comment Re:It's Crap and Here's Why (Score 1) 474

Everything you say is true however a large number of these "meta" studies are actually done by sociologist and other "soft" scientist who are in the school of liberals arts which is the dominated literally 9 to 1 by extreme leftist. A recent poll of academics found that 17.4% of American academics in the liberal-arts self-identified as marxist. These people are often quoted as "experts" and "researchers" in the media even if they are commenting on matters far outside their field.

With in the technical fields (fields controlled ulitmately by perfomance instead of popularity) like engineering, the science and business, there almost an even balance between left and right. However, academics in all fields are statistically a good bit to the left of their counterparts in non-academic world.

My main point was to remind people that there are more motives for the deceptions oneself and others than just profit motive. More importantly, motives are illrelevent to the ultimate validity of science.

Comment It's Crap and Here's Why (Score 5, Informative) 474

(1) Based on the standard rules of statistical acceptance, a study only has to reach requires a 95% confidence level. That means that 1 in every 20 identical studies will produce a false positive merely by chance. When you have an area of study in which thousands of studies have been done over decades you end up with hundreds of studies reporting positive results just by chance.

(2) Statistical meta analysis of studies is largely nonsense unless your talking about a field in which nearly identical studies are done over and over again. Usually, when these meta studies hit the media you find they they equally weight to every study regardless of presumed rigor of the studies. In this case, the gold standard is the Swedish study that followed tens of thousands of people over decades. How to you compare that to a study that just data mined a few hundred medical records?

(3) Exposure to all types of radio range radiation has increased by literally millions of times since WWII. We know spend something close to 3% of our entire energy budget generating radio signals. Yet, in the last 50+ years, cancers rates have not increased and indeed most likely have fallen (especially when you exclude cigarette smoking.

(4) A a sociological matter, just because a study is not linked to an industry does not mean that the researchers or the people funding them are some how impartial or operating from nobel motives. A lot of people outside of industry have both inherent biases as well as professional and monetary incentive to distort science. Academic today tilt strongly to the left side of the political spectrum and many believe in the post modernist concept that every one has a moral obligation to use whatever power they have, such as that held by respected scientist, to advance their political beliefs. They are inherently hostile to the economically productive. Politicians have incentives to create crises to protect voters from. Trial lawyers stand to make hundreds of millions on law suits and they fund "studies" to contaminate the jury pool. Even competing industries can use studies to undermine competitors.

We should remember that science has its reputation because it produces the same answer regardless of the individual motives of the people who create it. When someone begins the question the motives of researchers, they are making an implicit statement that they have no science to back their position up and that they must instead fall back to human factors. If you have solid science, then you don't need to smear people's motives and call their integrity into question.


Submission + - Would Someone Please Release a MacOS X Virus! ( 3

Shannon Love writes: Would Someone Please Just Release a Mac OS X Virus Already? For eight plus years we've been told that Mac OS X is just as easy to subvert in the real world as Windows. For eight plus years, I've waited for the predicted malware tsunami to hit the Mac. Yet, it's never happened and the suspense is killing me!

Some intrepid hacker needs to put an end to this debate and put Mac users out the misery of eight plus years of waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Unless of course, they can't. After all this time, with Apple being the highest profile computing company in the world and with tens of millions of supposedly bare assed Macs out there why hasn't anyone actually succeeded at making a Mac OS X virus or worm? Shouldn't someone have done so by now at least as a prank or a proof of concept?

At what point do we begin to suspect that we've misunderstood something important about Macs and self-reproducing malware?

The Internet

Submission + - UK's Anti-filesharing Bill Could Breach Human Righ 1

Grumbleduke writes: The UK Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights has recently reported on the controversial Digital Economy Bill which seeks to restrict the connections of anyone accused of infringing copyright using the internet. According to the BBC, the committee noted the lack of details in the Bill as it stands, asking for "further information" from the government on several issues. They also raised concerns that some punishments under the bill could be "applied in a disproportionate manner" and said that the powers the bill granted to the Secretary of State (i.e. Lord Mandelson) were "overly broad". These echo the concerns raised in recent months by the Open Rights Group, a consortium of web companies including Facebook, Google, Yahoo and eBay and the UK's Pirate Party.

The Bill is currently being scrutinised by the House of Lords and if it passes there, will likely be forced through the Commons quickly, despite the opposition from the public, industry and members of parliament. The committee's full report can be found on the parliament website, here.

Submission + - How the Apple Tablet Could Save Computing (

Shannon Love writes: "Creating software requires more than just technology. Actually getting real software into the hands of individual end users requires a business model that connects users to programmers and keeps the programmers paid. In this month's Popular Science, Tom Conlon frets that the rumored Apple Tablet computer could spread the iPhone software distribution business model to the rest of the computing word. He believes that this will destroy the freedom and power of end users.

I argue that the Apple App store model will do the opposite. It will give end users more options and better software while at the same time making it possible for diverse small developers to make a living actually writing software. The article is aimed at a non-technical audience. (1800 words)"

Comment Effectively Zero Risk (Score 5, Insightful) 222

Based on that data, a 50% increase would raise one's theoretical high-end risk of developing a tumor in the head from 0.003% per year to 0.0045% per year.

This translates into an effectively zero risk. The risk is so low that an individual couldn't really justify spending any time or money trying to lower it further.

We've got to learn that even though our advancing technology allows us to measure smaller and smaller risk, that doesn't mean that "something has to be done!" for every risk we can measure.


Army Buys Macs to Beef Up Security 342

agent_blue writes "The Army is integrating Macs into their IT network to thwart hack attempts. The Mac platform, they argue, is more secure because there are fewer attacks against OS X than Windows-based systems. 'Military procurement has long been driven by cost and availability of additional software--two measures where Macintosh computers have typically come up short against Windows-based PCs. Then there have been subtle but important barriers: For instance, Macintosh computers have long been incompatible with a security keycard-reading system known as Common Access Cards system, or CAC, which is heavily used by the military. The Army's Apple program, created [in 2005], is working to change that.'"

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We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a clever but highly unmotivated trick. -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"