My Proposed White House Petition – Please Review

The White House has a web page set up to allow citizens to petition the White House on a change in policy or to ask the Administration for clarification on some of its positions. The site is https://petitions.whitehouse.gov. If a petition gets more than 100,000 signatures in 30 days, the White House will respond within 60 days.

I was appalled at many of the Secretaries in the Trump Cabinet. Some are on record as opposing the mission of the department they are leading; some are totally unqualified for their position. This cannot lead to good decision making or policy.

I am proposing a petition to address this. Full text is below. Please look over it, and please offer comments on how to improve it. Thank you.

Require qualifications for cabinet-level officials

Some Cabinet Secretaries have been singularly unqualified for their positions. For example, current Secretary of Energy Rick Perry has a BS in Animal Science, and is a lifelong politician with no technical expertise in energy. (By contrast, the last Secretary of Energy under President Obama, Dr. Ernest Moniz, has a Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics and is a nuclear physicist.) While we recognize that there are skills other than technical expertise that are useful in these positions, lack of any knowledge or experience calls into question policies from the departments.

We propose that each appointed Cabinet Secretary have a minimum level of education or expertise in his position. A list of qualified education or experience for each department will be determined by an independent panel.

I have not yet posted the petition. Once I do, I will share the URL here. It is only visible to me and people I share it with until it gets 150 signatures. Then it will be publicly searchable on We the People. Once the petition is finalized and posted, I would really like for you to sign it.

And while you’re at the site, perhaps you will be inspired to create your own petition, or to sign one of many that are already there.

This is another small way I am becoming active in government.

President Trump’s First 100 Days – Wait, It’s Less than 20?

President Trump hasn’t wasted any time pissing off lots of people as President. He’s done a lot, but we need to pay attention to each misfire.

NPR recently ran an article describing the timeline of President Trump’s first two weeks in office. Many of the executive orders he signed and statements he made have been questionable at best; some may have even been illegal.

Here is a bullet list of Trump’s actions in the first two weeks:

  • Spoke at CIA; complained about coverage of inauguration (claims turnout was largest inauguration turnout; pictures and subway ridership numbers belie this)
  • Met with Congressional leaders; claimed there were between 3 million and 5 million illegal votes cast (did not offer sources; many reports point out only a handful of voter fraud cases)
  • Signed order reinstating Mexico City policy concerning federal funding for abortion providers
  • Spoke about withdrawing from the TPP
  • Issued federal hiring freeze
  • Approved construction of Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines
  • Ordered the construction of a wall on the southern border with Mexico
  • Directed Homeland Security to withhold funds from “sanctuary cities”
  • During interview, repeated his false claim that there were millions of illegal votes
  • Addressed GOP congressional retreat
  • Gave interview to Sean Hannity; talked about crowd size and illegal votes again, and stated he believes waterboarding works (his defense secretary, Gen. James Mattis, disagrees)
  • Issued an executive order blocking travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries; issue was met with much confusion and protesting, and a stay has been issued by federal court
  • Hosted British prime minister Theresa May
  • Appointed Steve Bannon to permanent member of the Principals Committee of the National Security Agency, and demoted director of national intelligence and chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff to as-needed members
  • Called Russian President Vladimir Putin
  • Called Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull; call was tense
  • Banned administration appointees from ever lobbying foreign governments and from federal lobbying for 5 years after leaving office
  • Directed administration to develop a comprehensive plan to defeat ISIS
  • Authorized Navy SEAL raid in Yemen; one SEAL and several civilians were killed
  • Fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, after she told Justice Department lawyers not to defend the travel ban
  • Signed an order that says for every regulation the executive branch proposes, two others must be repealed
  • Nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court
  • Traveled to Dover AFB for return of Navy SEAL killed in raid
  • Spoke at National Prayer Breakfast; asked nation to pray for Arnold Schwarzenegger, pledged to allow churches more leeway to enter political discussions
  • Signed order directing the review of the Dodd-Frank financial regulations
  • Signed order halting implementation of a rule mandating financial advisers act in the best interest of their clients
  • Tweeted about judge who suspended travel ban
  • At meeting of sheriffs, joked that he will destroy the career of a Texas senator
  • At same meeting, claimed muder rate is highest it’s been in 47 years (wrong; it’s half as high as it’s been at its maximum, about 4.9 deaths per 100,000, compared to more than 9% in the seventies)

There are a lot of items on this list, but let’s not let that stop us from fighting back on each and every one of them. The actions run the range from showing Trump doesn’t understand the role of President of the United States to being outright unconstitutional.

It’s human nature to forget the last egregious action when the next egregious action happens. Let’s never forget.

Gotta Pick ’em All!

Lately, I’ve been hearing this refrain from my conservative friends, as well as conservative media types: “The election is over. You lost. Get over it.” My response to that has been it’s not merely the fact that Clinton didn’t win the presidency, it’s that Trump did. I wasn’t this upset or anxious when George W. Bush won in 2000. It’s less about a Republican in the White House than it is that a misguided, thin-skinned real estate tycoon who has no political experience, and has shown it, is in office.

I’ve also heard a common statement from liberal commentators: “Pick your battles.” They suggest that some things Trump is doing are innocuous enough that we can let them slide, and we can then focus on bigger issues.

Unfortunately, the way I see it, all Trump’s issues are big ones. Fortunately, the anti-Trump movement has enough people to address all the issues.

Everyone saw the large crowds on Saturday the 21st all over the country. (OK, maybe everyone except President Trump.) That was a huge outpouring of support, and even if it doesn’t influence any lawmakers, it galvanizes the anti-Trump people and gives the energy to continue.

Certainly, with all those people involved, we can address all Trump’s issues; we don’t have to pick our battles. We can use President Trump’s own tactics against him. (It felt very good to say that.) In a previous blog post, Lies, Damn Lies, and Tweets, I said that a strategy President Trump and many of his on-air surrogates use is to throw many lies at us so fast that we can’t keep up. If we all continue to call President Trump out on all his actions, and start lawsuits wherever possible, we can inundate him and his staff so much that they will be spending all their energy fighting back, and won’t have time or energy left to further screw up the country.

In the same blog post, I talked about acting like they did in the old Faberge commercial: I’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on.

Maybe if each larger organization focuses on their area of strength (DGA on state issues, DNC and Congress on federal issues, Greenpeace on environmental issues, and so on), we can tackle all the issues. There are certainly enough groups who have been affected by one or more of Trump’s executive orders that they all can be addressed without overlap.

Individually, we probably do need to pick our battles, just so we don’t get burned out. But, let’s support everyone else who is picking their separate battles. If we hit the wall in enough places, soon enough a weak spot will appear, and the whole thing will come crashing down. (I hope some Mexicans hear that and start assaulting the real wall – if it ever comes close to being built.)

Personally, I wrote to my two senators and my representative and asked them not to replace the ACA until a substitute plan is ready to be put in place. I explained how the ACA helped me, and how it is helping millions of Americans who will have no fallback position if it is repealed. I heard back from two of them. I don’t think I swayed them, but they did hear my voice, and some staffer added one more check to the “opposed” side in the repeal the ACA discussion.

Tell me your stories about what you’re doing to counteract the onslaught coming from the White House. I’d love to hear from you, and others will feel supported and emboldened by your stories.

Pick your battles? We gotta pick ’em all!

Lies, Damn Lies, and Tweets

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.

— Mark Twain

President-elect Donald Trump has been using the same tactics with his tweets that other TV conservatives, like Rush Limbaugh and Kellyanne Conway use when speaking on air: throw out so many lies and twisting of facts that by the time you respond to the first, he is already on the fifth. At that point, responding to the first statement is being petty, because we need to be “moving on.”

With on-air personalities, unless the interviewer is able to interrupt and talk over the person (not even possible with Rush Limbaugh), you might not remember, let alone be able to counter, the statement. It seems like the only way to stop the parade of misinformation is to refuse to allow them to be interviewed. Networks are loath to do that; these commentators draw interest, and the networks want to appear to be even-handed and fair.

Journalists need to get back to their original motivation – to make sure the truth is heard. If they need to get all sides of the story to find the truth, they can do a filmed interview and edit it for their piece, instead of having them on the air live. If the story is primarily presenting facts, they don’t even need to provide an alternate point of view. Facts are facts, regardless of what people believe.

And, if the networks are being honest in their search for the truth, they need not respond to the constant claims of liberal bias in the mainstream media (a claim which has shown to be false numerous times – see The Phantom Menace (of Liberal Media Bias) ). They just need to be diligent in their methods and ignore any unfounded criticism. Maybe they can consider taking a page out of Trump’s playbook – sue for libel anyone who refers to the mainstream media as liberal. It is a false statement, and it is designed to lessen the value of the reporting, thus costing the company money. Those are the two elements required for a successful libel suit.

Trump’s tweets have already become legendary – and he’s not even President yet. Fortunately, there are only so many lies that can be spread in 140 characters. Still, the tweets often get covered by the media, and are not quickly or colorfully rebutted, that they have the desired effect of getting Trump’s version of the story out and making it stick. Short of Twitter banning Trump from having an account – a story that has been floating around the Internet, but is not true – it appears there is no way to react effectively.

To counter Trump’s tweets may require an army of tweeters. Fortunately, there already exists an army of tweeters who are opposed to Trump. Actually, it’s more like a militia, because it isn’t organized. Let me suggest that one way to counter the distortions present in Trump’s tweets is to rebut them quickly. If everyone who opposes Trump responds to his tweets, it would likely cause Twitter to crash.

We don’t need to have everyone respond to every post. If each person responds to, say, one a week, there would still be enough people making a big enough response to get the message across. Multiple rebuttals are likely to get more support than a single rebuttal. Psychology studies have shown that if everyone in a small group except for one person lies, the lone wolf is very likely to change his position to the lie, even if he knows it is a lie. Peer pressure on one person is simply too difficult for many people to go against. However, if a second person agrees with the lone wolf, the likelihood of maintaining an opinion different from the group as a whole rises tremendously. I suspect the same phenomenon would work the other way: if one person dissents, he will be ignored, but if there are multiple dissenters, people will start to take notice.

I know the number of people who read my blog is very small, but I encourage you to spread the word. We can redo the Faberge shampoo commercial from the ’80s: tell two people, and they’ll tell two people, and they’ll tell two people, and so on.

Let’s see what happens. I think it’s worth a shot.

Oh, and in the spirit of calling out fake news, the above quote was not initially said by Mark Twain. He popularized it in the United States, but the quote is attributed to British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.

When you’re taking a break from your tweeting, please leave me a comment.

A Message…

I’m becoming a big fan of Medium.com. The site is a compendium of articles, mostly opinion pieces, from various publications and diverse contributors. (There are guidelines for submitting stories. I will look into them, and may publish on there soon.)

This piece is from a Russian journalist, Alexey Kovalev. He is very clear that he is describing a Putin press conference, but see if you notice any parallels:

“A message to my doomed colleagues in the American media”

What Mr. Kovalev doesn’t do in his essay is discuss ways of combating these tactics. He may be limited in his actions, because he is Russian; we have more freedoms. I have been racking my brain trying to think of how to fight this. There must be a way. If you have thoughts on what to do, please comment. Maybe we can generate some good ideas and truly challenge Trump.

Because he needs to be constantly challenged.

New Year’s Resolutions

(Note: to read the full post, click on the link to open it in WordPress.)

It’s a little late, but better late than never.

First of all, I want to thank everyone who is following my blog, whether on Facebook, Tumblr, or Google+. A special thanks to those of you who posted comments; I guess my begging worked. If you are following me, please post a reply so I can be sure you’re out there.

This site started out in response to some of the discussion threads on Facebook. I often found that I couldn’t fully express my opinion and make it readable. Having to scroll through a long, narrow Facebook post makes it hard to fully follow the discussion. I often found that if I made a comment, it was misinterpreted, and my explanations were lengthy, and often to no avail. So, rather than posting memes, or responding to them, I decided to start a blog so I could discuss items in more depth.

So far I’m enjoying it. I’ve always liked writing, and this certainly gives me a chance to write regularly. Even if no one else reads it, I enjoy putting together an essay and seeing it on the screen.

I did say in the title that this blog post was about new year’s resolutions. I’ve tried to get away from making resolutions on New Year’s Day; I want to constantly improve myself. In this blog post, I want to focus on resolutions about this blog. So, here goes:

  1. I will post more regularly. I want to make this timely, so I will need to write something in response to current events soon after it happens. Plus, the more I write, the more chances someone will read something I write, and I hope my name will spread.
  2. I will improve the look of the site. Right now this site could not be more plain. I’d like to make it more snazzy and more in line with the “virtual bar” theme. So, be on the lookout.
  3. I will post more regularly. I know I already said that, but in addition to the reasons noted above, I want to make sure Trump’s issues stay front and center. The worst thing that can happen is that we get tired of hearing about Trump, and we stop paying attention. In a previous post, An Embarrassment of Riches – Emphasis on Embarrassment, I pointed out many ways Trump can get himself in trouble. I’d like to keep people aware of those items, so they stay vigilant.

I do have other resolutions, but they’re not related to this blog, so I won’t write about them – yet.

So, again, thanks for reading this, thanks for following me, and thanks for commenting.

Happy New Year!

There is a Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.” I have a feeling 2017 is going to be very interesting.

An Embarrassment of Riches – Emphasis on Embarrassment

(Note: To read the entire post, click on the story below.)

Earlier this week, on December 28, NPR ran this story:

http://www.npr.org/2016/12/28/506342901/11-times-donald-trump-looked-like-he-was-done-for

To summarize, here are the 11 serious missteps Trump made during his campaign:

  1. John McCain is “not a war hero”
  2. Trump says he’s never asked God for forgiveness
  3. Feud with Megyn Kelly: She had “blood coming out of her wherever”
  4. Megyn Kelly feud, part 2: skipping the final Iowa debate
  5. Losing Iowa
  6. Trump defends his manhood: “I guarantee you there’s no problem”
  7. Mocking a disabled reporter
  8. The “Mexican” judge
  9. Trump goes after a Gold Star family
  10. “Second Amendment people” may be able to stop Clinton
  11. And, of course, “grab them by the p****”

All this happened before he was elected President. History may have given us another “Teflon Don.”

After Trump was elected, he continued to show his lack of understanding of diplomacy, or in fact of anything related to being President. Here is a short list:

  1. He received a call from the president of Taiwan, breaking a 40-year relation with China and raising their ire.
  2. He has decided to forego daily intelligence briefings, saying he is “like a smart person” and doesn’t need to hear the same information every day.
  3. He had his daughter Ivanka in the room when he met with the prime minister of Japan, while she was working to get a hotel built in Japan.
  4. He spoke with the president of Argentina to get restrictions lifted so he could build in the country.
  5. He has refused to divest himself of his earnings, leading to possible profiting from his position as president (not a crime) and of receiving gifts from foreign leaders (prohibited by the Constitution). Depending on how the actual law was written, he may also run afoul of the STOCK Act.
  6. His relationship with President Vladimir Putin is also dangerous for national security. When asked about the Russian involvement in trying to affect the election, he said we should move on with our lives. When Putin refused to expel American diplomats after Obama expelled Russian diplomats and closed two Russian installations in the US, Trump called Putin “very smart.”

In regards to the last point, I’m anxious to see how he will react to the new sanctions once he takes office. If he immediately rescinds them, he will clearly be seen as toadying to the Russians. If he keeps them in place, whatever goodwill he tried to arrange with Russia will be lost.

Please note that this list is just things that are either illegal or a threat to national security. There are numerous other tweets made that, while not illegal, certainly show how thin-skinned our president-elect is, from reaction to the cast of “Hamilton” to reaction to “Saturday Night Live.” If this is how he reacts to celebrity and civilian comments, imagine what he would do when criticized by members of Congress or foreign leaders.

He also has shown a great disdain for the press. While nearly every President has cast a wary eye on the press, Trump has gone so far as to sue journalists who criticize him, and mentioned he would open up federal libel laws, so that he could more easily sue. (This is despite the fact that there are no federal libel laws.)

I’m sure there are more examples, as I suggested in the headline, an embarrassment of riches. If I’ve missed your favorite, please comment and let me know.

What progressives and other anti-Trump activists need to do now is to pay close attention to everything Trump does, and pounce at the first opportunity to call his actions into legal question. Fortunately, many have echoed this sentiment and are at the ready.

62,000,000 Trump Supporters (including Putin) Can’t Be Wrong – Can They?

(click on the link below to view the full article in WordPress)

The headline refers to a meme floating around cyberspace concerning possible Russian interference in our election process. It shows four photos of crowded Trump rallies, and has the caption “All of this was not caused by a Russian hack.” In addition to this statement, the majority opinion, based on what I’ve seen floating around Facebook, is that it doesn’t matter if Russia was complicit in the release of DNC emails; what’s more important is that the emails were revealed and showed underhanded dealings by the Democrats.”

The story is “The Russians didn’t do it, but if they did do it, it didn’t affect the election, but if it did affect the election, it did it by exposing Democratic dirty tricks.”

No surprise that a lot of information – and misinformation – has been floated about the discussion of Russian interference in our election process. Many different issues have been convoluted, some incorrectly. I’m going to try to sort out the issues separately here.

Was Russia involved in the hacking of the DNC servers? Seventeen out of 25 government agencies, based on their research, believe it was. Rebuttals have said “The CIA says so, but not the FBI,” and “Loretta Lynch doesn’t think it’s true,” and “It might be Russia, or it might be China.” The last comment came from Trump, so I put more faith in government investigative organizations and their research than I do in a proven liar.

The FBI was simply not as quick to release their findings. The FBI and CIA have different purposes. The CIA is interested in gathering accurate information. The FBI is interested in gathering actionable information, which is a higher standard. It’s not surprising they took longer to reach the same conclusion.

In response to the claim that not all government agencies said Russia was behind the hacking, I say, if even a few say there is credible evidence, doesn’t that warrant investigation when our national elections are at stake?

Did the hack affect our elections? The meme I mentioned at the start of this blog suggests that there were a lot of actual Trump supporters, and that ballot boxes were not stuffed, or election machines hacked. I agree that it is difficult and fruitless to try to hack individual voting machines. It is costly, and must be done on a massive scale, making it difficult to conceal what was being done. So no, there were actual people who voted for Trump – around 62,000,000.

There are other ways to affect elections. One way is by a government official releasing information that knowingly affects a candidate. Congress viewed this as a real enough threat that they passed the Hatch Act, named after Utah senator Orrin Hatch. The Hatch Act makes it illegal for a government official to release information knowing it will affect the outcome of an election. In fact, Nevada senator Harry Reid sent a letter stating he believed Comey violated this Act when he presented his information to Congress in October.

So our government believes it is possible to affect an election by releasing information. This is what the Russians have been doing.

Doesn’t the fact that the emails reveal irregularities in the DNC trump the way the emails were retrieved? (Pun intentional.) Even though it is not directly relevant to the issue at hand, I want to bring up the constitutional protections against unlawful search and seizure. In criminal investigations, police are careful to make sure their evidence is legally obtained. If the courts determine that the evidence was obtained illegally, it is not permitted to be seen, regardless of how convincingly it proves their case. Not pursuing the bad actors (in this case, the Russians) can set a bad precedent; agents will be more likely to attempt to hack into servers knowing that the public will be more interested in the information than in the fact that it was illegally obtained.

Second, what the emails revealed is that the DNC wanted Clinton to be the nominee and targeted the Sanders campaign. DNC chairman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz resigned over this discovery. This was met with outrage by some in the Sanders camp, and served to increase distrust in Democratic voters. However, nothing illegal was done.

Each party is entitled to choose their nominee however they like. (This is in contrast to general elections, where the method of election is clearly spelled out, and there are serious penalties for trying to bypass those methods.) The party hold a vote, then have a handful of people meet in a smoke-filled room and choose their nominee, regardless of the outcome of the vote. True, this is a sure way to alienate voters, but there is nothing illegal about it. Remember, some Republicans were trying to engineer a change at the Republican convention to have someone other than Trump be the nominee.

If you listen to detractors, they would suggest that Clinton and the rest of the Democrats should be executed for what their emails say they did.

So, the bottom line is that 17 of 25 government agencies concluded that the Russians were behind the hack of the DNC servers. In addition, they believe the Russians did it specifically to help Trump get elected. If it also comes out that some people in the Trump campaign were complicit in working with the Russians – well, I heard the word “treason” brought up in several news outlets.

All of this deserves to be taken extremely seriously.

What is more frightening to me is what information on the Republicans the Russians may be holding, and if they release any after Trump assumes power. Despite what it might reveal about the Republicans, I really don’t want that other shoe to drop.

This Article Is Fake

Fake news has become a buzzword of late. In fact, PolitiFact called fake news its “Lie of the Year” for 2016.

Actually, fake news has been going on for a long time. The “National Enquirer,” “The Star,” and any number of other tabloid papers have been around since I was young (as I said, a long time). Penn State had the “Daily Collusion” and other names for its annual parody of the local “Daily Collegian.” That was from 1978 to 1982, and may still be going on today.

And satire, while big now, has always been around. Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” was an ideal satire: an idea, presented to the extreme, calling attention to a serious problem. Many publications had taken up the mantle, like “Mad Magazine” and “National Lampoon.”

There is a big difference between fake news and satire. Later on I will talk about a study researching fake news that does a great job of categorizing various publications.

Many have argued that fake news stories might have swayed the election. We have seen the effects: a gunman entered a Washington, D.C. pizzeria, “doing his own research” on a story about Hillary Clinton running a sex slave operation in the basement. (The pizza shop didn’t even have a basement.) The spread of a lie might have cost lives. Yet people retweet stories that are fake all the time.

The only way to stop its proliferation is to do your research, find the truth yourself, and call out the lies. We really don’t have time for that, so we rely on others to do their research, which is why fake news is dangerous. It totally undermines the value of a free press.

Conservatives are saying liberals are decrying fake news while they get their news from “The Daily Show.” There is a big difference. Jon Stewart has always been very clear that he is not a journalist, and is only poking fun. Still, the stories are well-researched and have some very sound arguments. There is a liberal slant to their presentation, but I don’t think anything has been an outright lie. John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” on HBO covers the same territory in the same way – with the added bonus of swearing!

Fake news publications like The Onion and the above-mentioned Daily Collusion clearly state that their stories are fake (if you couldn’t tell after reading the headlines). Their goal is clearly entertainment; anyone who believes any of their stories needs to get a few lessons in analytical thinking.

Then there are sites whose sole purpose in presenting fake news is to inflame their base. This article in The Daily Dot discusses a study by Melissa Zimdars, media professor at Merrimack College. She lists four categories of fake news sites, with descriptions. It is a more concise and helpful list, much more so than anything I could possibly come up with.

“CATEGORY 1: Below is a list of fake, false, or regularly misleading websites that are shared on Facebook and social media. Some of these websites may rely on “outrage” by using distorted headlines and decontextualized or dubious information in order to generate likes, shares, and profits. These websites are categorized with the number 1 next to them.

“CATEGORY 2: Some websites on this list may circulate misleading and/or potentially unreliable information, and they are marked with a 2.

“CATEGORY 3: Other websites on this list sometimes use clickbait-y headlines and social media descriptions, and they are marked with a 3.

“CATEGORY 4: Other sources on this list are purposefully fake with the intent of satire/comedy, which can offer important critical commentary on politics and society, but have the potential to be shared as actual/literal news. I’m including them here, for now, because 1.) they have the potential to perpetuate misinformation based on different audience (mis)interpretations and 2.) to make sure anyone who reads a story by The Onion, for example, understands its purpose. If you think this is unnecessary, please see Literally Unbelievable.”

The entire article is at http://www.dailydot.com/layer8/fake-news-sites-list-facebook/. You may also want to check out “Literally Unbelievable” (link above). It is both sad and hilarious.

There is a difference between Category 1 sites and Category 4 sites. Any meme stating otherwise is playing fast and loose with what they call “fake news.”

How do we learn to recognize fake news, and what can we do about it? I see a few steps.

  • Learn which sites deal in fake news. The article above is a good starting place for fake news sources.
  • Develop and strengthen your bullshit detector. My wife is better at that than I am; she has pointed out scams that I didn’t recognize. Try to set biases aside, and see if a story makes sense. If it doesn’t, check it out to see.
  • In addition to sites that deal in fake news, learn where to go to verify a story. PolitiFact and Snopes are two of the biggest, but CNN is starting to do fact checking, and The Skeptical Inquirer has been around for a long while, if only in print form.
  • Finally, if someone reposts a story that smells bullshitty, and you find out that it is, show the person what you found. Help him learn what you looked for. You might get pushback, you might even get people who say, “I know that story about Clinton is wrong, but look at all the other horrible stuff she’s done.” I hope there will be a few who see what they did and try harder to smell out the fake stories.

 

We must all stay vigilant. That can start by bookmarking http://www.snopes.com and http://www.politifact.com.  I’ve done that.

Why Are We Still Debating Climate Change?

Let me start by presenting some articles. The first four present results of surveys of scientists concerning their thoughts on climate change. The last one is an article in National Review challenging the results in these surveys.

http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/11/4/048002

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/eost2009EO03/epdf

https://skepticalscience.com/97-percent-consensus-cook-et-al-2013.html

http://www.pbl.nl/sites/default/files/cms/publicaties/pbl-2015-climate-science-survey-questions-and-responses_01731.pdf

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/425232/climate-change-no-its-not-97-percent-consensus-ian-tuttle

 

I won’t rehash the articles; you can read them for yourselves. Highlights I found:

  • The surveys explain their methodology in detail.
  • In all cases, the vast majority of scientists conclude that climate change is real.
  • The vast majority of scientists also conclude that climate change is man made.
  • The degree to which the scientists claim global warming has manmade causes increases as the expertise in climate change increases.
  • The National Review article misrepresents the results from the other articles.

I have heard the argument from many people, including some national news sources, that this winter is cold, so therefore global warming isn’t real. Anyone who has taken any statistics course can see why this is not a sound argument. It’s like saying that above average height is not important in basketball because Scottie Pippen is short.

The earth’s temperature has been varying; many factors contribute to the temperature on any given day. However, the trend over hundreds of years shows a slightly increasing trend up until about 1900. At that point, the trend increases dramatically. Throughout the period, the temperature has fluctuated, but the overall trend has been upwards. One point does not a trend make.

Some people will suggest that I am getting my information from biased sources. (They already have, even before I presented anything.) The sources above (other than the National Review and maybe Skeptical Science) are impartial, interested only in presenting scientific findings. In my mind, even if the source might be biased, if the methodology is clearly laid out, and if the results are peer reviewed, any possible bias is irrelevant.

Any suggestion that the data are being tweaked by scientists to further their cause has several major flaws. First, it does a great disservice to scientists, who are seeking answers in the most accurate ways possible. Second, if you believe that tens of thousands of scientists across the globe can coordinate their research and their peers’ analyses to further their cause, you are delving into tin-foil hat territory. Massive conspiracy theories at this level have never been proven true.

Originally I was going to discuss why I don’t think scientists, politicians (Al Gore specifically), or countries (China) are perpetrating a hoax for financial gain. Then I realized the point is moot; the consensus is overwhelming that global warming is man made. They need no reason to be deceptive, because they aren’t being deceptive.

Experiments also suggest that we can reduce the effect of global warming by moving away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy. Many more enlightened leaders are currently making moves toward reducing the effect of man made causes of global warming.

This is exactly the place for government to take action. Corporations have no incentive on their own to change to renewable sources. There is no immediate economic gain. The long-term downside could be catastrophic. What the government can do is make sure there is an immediate economic gain to converting to renewable energy.

Some people may not believe global warming is happening, but the thing about facts is they don’t care what you believe.

Why are we still debating climate change?