Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations – this blemished chapter in our nation’s history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia.”

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

'Cause Descartes Said So!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Hypothetically speaking

I must say, now that I’ve turned to the denialist side, I see things a little differently.

Oops, did I just say denialist? I meant skeptic……don’t want to be associated with the holocaust or anything. Did anyone actually catch us raping, pillaging, indiscriminately killing or denying that such things may or may not have occurred? No. So that’s settled. Skeptic it is.

I really like the form of William M. Briggs. Fancy asking: “Is climatology a pseudoscience?” Briggs, in a fit of mind-bending intuition, wrote the following hypothetical:

...suppose, if you are able, that significant man-made climate change is false; further, that it cannot happen, and that all changes to the climate system are due to external forcings, such as those caused by changes in solar output. Just suppose all this is true for the sake of argument.

Now put yourself in the place of a climatologist, one of the many hundreds, in fact, who was involved with the IPCC and so shared in that great validator, the Nobel Peace Prize*. You have spent a career devoted to showing that mankind, through various forms of naughtiness, has significantly influenced the climate, and has caused temperatures to grow out of control. Your team, at a major university, has built and contributed to various global climate models. Graduate students have worked on these models. Team members have traveled the world and lectured on their results. Many, many papers were written about their output, and so forth.

But something has gone wrong. The actual temperature, predicted to go up and up, has not cooperated and has instead stayed the same and even has gone down. What do to? Let’s take a “What would a scientist do” quiz and find out.

Your model has predicted that temperatures will go up because CO2 has, but unfortunately temperatures have gone down. Do you:

1. Abandon the model and seek a new career

2. Discover where the model went wrong; publish results admitting why and how you were wrong

3. Sit and wait: after all, the temperature is bound to increase sooner or later, hence validating your model

4. Believe that the model cannot be wrong, else so many people wouldn’t believe it, and so posit some new source that is “holding back” warming, and only if that new source weren’t there, your model would be perfect.

Some would say that the rhetorical device of posing a clearly false or, at best extremely unlikely, hypothesis and using it as a cover to attack the scruples of those with whom you disagree is disingenuous to say the least.

I, of course, wouldn’t say that.

Briggs, sadly, uses the age-old wing-nut cop out.
Like I wrote before, climatologists are generally nice people genuinely struggling with understanding the immense complexities of the oceanic-atmospheric (and space!) system.
Wait for it....wait for it...

Not all climatologists will fall prey to these temptations [options 3 and 4]; many or most will modify their models, will see that mankind is not in as much trouble as originally thought, and move on to do work on, for example, the Indian monsoon. But…..
But. BUT. BUT!!!!

There it is – good ‘ol ‘but’. Always there to save those who are afraid to commit to full ownership of their statements that follow. ‘I have plenty of aboriginal friends BUT’…….you know what I mean.

You’ll notice I do the same thing all the time.

But what, you may ask?

For William (and henceforth myself), BUT climate modellers are frauds and the logical equivalent of those who believe in the paranormal and…get this….attempt to stare goats to death.

Stare goats to death?

It’s hard work and I don’t recommend it.

Some readers will be old enough to remember when paranormal research was the rage in the early 1970s. Peer-reviewed papers appeared on the subject, even in prestigious journals like Science. Just around the corner, mankind would be able harness untold power by just using his mind. Goats, for example, could be killed just by staring at them (yes, really).
So, in the spirit of fair play that is the very basis of denialist thought….I’ve proposed my own hypothetical, coz, you know, we’re just as hard on our own side.

Just say, and why not, that there are those of a right-wing paranoid different persuasion who fanatically believe that main stream climate science, as exemplified by the IPCC reports, consists solely of a bunch of misrepresentations and lies. Hypothetically, and again, why not, let us say that these people are not only completely wrong, they’ve also been caught in a compromising position with a clydesdale.

Do they:

1. Admit they’re wrong on all counts and blame the horse.

2. Fight every last claim to the death and need to have each and every point explained over and over again before they’ll relent and admit they’re wrong. And blame the horse.

3. Extol the virtues of closer relations with our equine friends and ignore all else.

Now many a skeptic is a good honourable person, but...........

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