Thursday, April 26, 2007

Wingnuttery or satire? You decide...

In the comments to a recent post, someone pointed me to this delightful letter, as featured on Tamino's blog:




There follows much discussion as to whether it was serious, or meant as a joke. The problem is that there is so much of this wingnuttery around, it is no longer possible to tell whether people mean it seriously. For example, Deltoid finds this example of cluelessness. And Conservapedia ("a conservative encyclopedia you can trust") has surely been infiltrated by members of the reality-based community who are helping the genuine contributors to make themselves look silly.

Frequent commenter and occasional guest columnist on Prometheus, Benny Peiser (see, I can do the "framing" thing too) is another occasional culprit. When he froths that "Plato's dream of the academic elites controlling and running the world is close to being realised as a nightmarish reality", others are left genuinely confused as to whether he really does sleep in a tinfoil hat or is merely parodying himself. Being some sort of an academic, one might expect that he takes himself seriously at least half the time, but I know of no effective way to discriminate between the two cases.

I suspect that some people just throw their spaghetti at the wall, see if it sticks, and then say "oh, that bit was a joke" for any that falls. Perhaps my comment to Fergus (as quoted by Stoat, with no link or attribution...and he didn't even buy me a beer at the EGU) has some relevance here. But what about the people who do not only "not value reason" but who are actually incapable of recognising it at all?

(PS According to Snopes, the letter really is a joke. Or so the author claims now...)

7 comments:

Kooiti Masuda said...

I find that the headline does not say "Daylight exacerbates warming",
Thus, it is a matter of feeling ... whether a shift of workplace
schedule by one hour makes people feel that the world have warmed.
And the answer may be yes, though not necesarily so.

Daylight is a real energy source. When we walk outdoors under clear
weather, we feel hotter with sunshine than without, all other factors
such as temperature, humidity and wind speed being equal.
If we work outdoors all day under clear weather, working under more
daylight is likely to make us feel warmer.

But let's think that air temperature is the representative variable.
In most locations, the maximum in the diurnal cycle of air temperature
occurs around in the aftrenoon. If we take assume that the curve is
symmetrical and the peak is at 1 p.m., and if we take 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
as the normal work hours, the added hour (8 - 9 a.m. standard time)
is likely to be cooler than the removed hour (4 - 5 p.m. standard time).

If we work in fully air-conditioned offices, however, the above fact
comes to our mind only when we think about expenditure of the offices.
If air-con is on just when people are working, the shift is likely
to be real saving. (But what difference if air-con is on all the time?)


Maybe the temperature at "walking hours" is more important than the
temperature at work hours for perception of warmth by indoor workers.
Suppose that the "normal" workers commute at 8 - 9 a.m. and 5 - 6 p.m.,
"dailyight saving time" makes them walk in cooler condition in the
morning and in warmer condition in the evening. The magnitude of
difference is likely to be similar in terms of temperature.
But how in terms of feeling? I guess that many Japanese people office
workers do not like to walk at 4 - 5 p.m. standard time in summer, and
that they do not feel compensated with somewhat more confortable morning.
(This is one of the reasons why I do not promote DST in Japan.)

Belette said...

Well it was all a joke.

As to your comment: sorry, I've updated it for attribution. As to the beer: sorry about that too, but you were to un-slack to find :-(

Fergus said...

Henk Tennekes, one of the FORPS,makes an interesting observation in the comments here: http://climatesci.colorado.edu/2007/
04/24/checks-and-balances-in-climate-
assessment/
in response to a question I asked him: that the response to climate science is now value-laden, so much so that it clouds the science itself.

If the public are looking for values which reflect their concerns, then perhaps this is the 'frame' in which effective discourse can take place.
Sorry; that doesn't seem very clear, but you get the idea?

Tom Adams said...

It's a joke on YOU. Goog before you blog:

http://www.snopes.com/humor/letters/daylight.asp

But, I guess the global warming discourse is so bad at the low end that it's as plausible than some of the sincerely posited theories.

James Annan said...

Tom,

Maybe you should have read to the end of my post...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
James Annan said...

the response to climate science is now value-laden, so much so that it clouds the science itself.

Fergus,

I can bring two recent occasions to mind where reviewers requested that some (IMO accurate, clear and scientifically appropriate) language was changed so as to avoid the risk of appearing to lend support to a "sceptic" point of view. I was an author on one paper, the other was by a colleague on a very different topic.

GMB,

I hope you feel better after that. Now go and wash your mouth out.