Patterico's Pontifications

3/28/2007

Notes From A Proud Global Warming Skeptic (part 4)

Filed under: Accepted Wisdom,Environment — Justin Levine @ 11:02 pm

[posted by Justin Levine] 

I believe that author Michael Crichton is a prophet and the savior of mankind. The Christon has come to dispense with the Goreacle…

Ok, maybe not that. But Crichton is one of the most sensible voices in the global warming debate that I have come across.

I urge everyone to read a recent interview he gave on the issue.

I linked to this Crichton speech in another post in this series, but I didn’t really emphasize it at the time.  Crichton’s “Aliens Cause Global Warming” speech is must reading. I dare say that it is some of the best writing he has ever done. The scientific community should take it to heart.

Just a brief sample of a speech that is solid gold from start to finish - 

Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough. Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E=mc2. Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way.

What does that do, huh? Does that blow your mind?? THAT JUST HAPPENED!

96 Responses to “Notes From A Proud Global Warming Skeptic (part 4)”

  1. Why do you have to rely on Crichton? He has no expertise in climate science, and is an endorser of such pseudoscience as spoon-bending, clairvoyance and aura reading. Is he really the best you can come up with?

    BTW, Crichton’s quote about consensus is flat-out wrong. The scientific consensus for evolution is frequently pointed out, much to the dismay of intelligent design creationists.

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  2. I am not familiar with Crichton’s “endorsing” spoon-bending, clairvoyance and aura reading. Can you provide a link?

    Why do global warming proponents rely on Gore? he has no expertise in climate science. Neither do I. But like Crichton (and Gore, and you), I can study the scientific evidence and draw my own conclusions.

    Who knows where this debate will go? But one thing is certain – by merely engaging in it, you have helped to dispell two of the great lies put forth by global warming proponents:

    1. There is consensus on this issue. (There is not. Neither on the science, nor the policy aspect of it.)

    2. The debate is over. (It is only getting started.)

    Justin Levine (20f2b5)

  3. BTW – There is no consensus about evolution. There is merely a large majority opinion. But there are still plenty of intelligent design theorists who have impressive scientific credentials. Crichton quote about consensus is right on the money. Take gravity for instance. Would you even waste your time telling people about the “consensus” on gravity if somebody denies it? I certainly wouldn’t. I’d simply let the fool walk off the edge of the building and suffer the consequences of his belief. Now THAT is science fact – something that objectively exists regardless of what people may or may not say about it.

    But let’s get back to global warming for a second Brad. If you honestly believe in man-made global warming theory, and you honestly believe that it poses a threat to humanity, would you go about trying to convince people about it the way it has been presented the past few months? Or would you change anything in terms of the discussion?

    Justin Levine (20f2b5)

  4. Bradley: Final question before I await your response (if you have both the time and desire to do so) -

    Is there any other specific contention of Crichton’s that you take issue with in these links? (Other than the point about ‘consensus’ which you have already addressed.)

    Justin Levine (20f2b5)

  5. I’d simply let the fool walk off the edge of the building and suffer the consequences of his belief.

    Not if the fool was tied to you with a rope.

    Doug (5d0532)

  6. Crichton’s rebuttal to the scientific method:

    In the meantime, as you know, my own prediction for warming over the next 100 years is 0.8 degrees C. I arrived at this by a complex formula that I will reveal in future years.

    I think I’ll take peer-reviewed scientific research over Crichton’s secret formula. (Maybe it will also reveal the Colonel’s 11 secret herbs and spices!)

    Doug (5d0532)

  7. It’s really striking that the movement to deny climate change is now reduced to relying on science fiction novelists. The “head in the sand” approach has left the extremists increasingly isolated as the majority of Americans, and even the majority of mainstream Republicans, have come to (grudgingly) accept reality.

    I noticed this article in the Business section of yesterday’s New York Times:

    Earth’s Climate Needs the Help of Incentives
    By DAVID LEONHARDT
    Published: March 28, 2007

    The politicians who deny that global warming is a problem used to be the biggest obstacle to a solution. They’re not anymore. They have lost the argument.

    When former Vice President Al Gore came back to Capitol Hill to testify last week, a few of the global-warming holdouts in Congress confronted him with their usual tactics. They took the actual uncertainties over climate change — how fast seas and temperatures will rise, how serious the effects will be — and tried to make them sound like uncertainty over whether human beings were making the planet hotter. But the skeptics didn’t get very far. In the last few months, this debate has shifted incredibly quickly.

    As Representative Ed Whitfield, a Kentucky Republican (lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union: 90 out of 100), told Mr. Gore, “I think everyone recognizes — as you have said and the scientific community agrees — that there is global warming caused by human activity.” On Monday, Gallup released a new poll conducted before the hearings. In it, 86 percent of respondents said they favored new action to deal with environmental problems.

    No wonder, then, that the political debate now revolves around what that action should be. In the current Congress, there are six bills to deal with climate change, and more are on the way. Senator John McCain, a Republican presidential candidate, helped write one bill, and Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, the leading Democratic hopefuls, are co-sponsors of it.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/28/business/28leonhardt.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

    Oregonian (bcba81)

  8. It’s really striking that the movement to deny climate change is now reduced to relying on science fiction novelists.

    Who happens to have graduated from Harvard summa cum laude (a tad higher than Gore) got an MD from Harvad and and did post-doctoral fellowship study at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies

    the last while not a center for climactic studies is one of the cutting edge scientific centers for biological and genetic research.

    That give the man solid scientific credentials even if he did not spend three years researching the subject prior to writing State of Fear

    Dan Kauffman (839d43)

  9. It’s really striking that the movement to deny climate change is now reduced to relying on science fiction novelists.

    It’s really striking that the entire “consensus” crowd is basing their pronouncements on admittedly flawed models built on assumptions based on an unproven premise.

    Taltos (c99804)

  10. Doug and Oregonian,

    Might I recommend reducing your carbon footprint by turning off your computer.

    Just a thought… if you are really that concerned about AGW.

    odysseusinrtp (2c33a3)

  11. Crichton’s point was far less about ‘global warming’ than it was about pseudo-science – which has always been a plague on the scientific community and is a problem today. The question is, did he establish a strong link between the techniques employed in pseudo-science and global warming? So far, it quacks like a duck…

    quasimodo (edc74e)

  12. about a year ago, a new republic editor named michael crowley wrote an article criticizing the science in “state of fear”.
    crichton did not take this lying down. in his next book “next”, he inserted a character named “mick crowley” who anally raped a two year old with his small penis. what a swell guy you’re holding out to us as the savior of mankind.
    i haven’t read “state of fear” and it’s not on my list, but i regret to say i’ve read a couple of other crichtons when i was stuck somewhere. i thought his book about japanese businessmen “rising sun” was a racist screed, and his book about sexual harrassment “disclosure” was misogynistic.

    assistant devil's advocate (06b237)

  13. BTW – There is no consensus about evolution. There is merely a large majority opinion. But there are still plenty of intelligent design theorists who have impressive scientific credentials.

    The scientific community’s position on evolution is analogous to its position on anthropogenic climate change. In both cases, there is an overwhelming consensus backed by an enormous body of evidence from multiple sources. Both topics are the focus of intense research and there is considerable debate about details, mechanisms, rates, and so forth. But there is no significant opposition to the consensus that both evolution and anthropogenic climate change are currently taking place all around us.

    If you want to see the consensus in the scientific community, go look at the website for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Triple A-S (or AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society. As their website notes, “Founded in 1848, AAAS serves some 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of one million.”

    So where do they stand on these issues? Read it for yourself:

    “Evolution is one of the most robust and widely accepted principles of modern science. It is the foundation for research in a wide array of scientific fields and, accordingly, a core element in science education.”
    http://archives.aaas.org/docs/resolutions.php?doc_id=443

    and

    “The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society. Accumulating data from across the globe reveal a wide array of effects: rapidly melting glaciers, destabilization of major ice sheets, increases in extreme weather, rising sea level, shifts in species ranges, and more. The pace of change and the evidence of harm have increased markedly over the last five years. The time to control greenhouse gas emissions is now.”
    http://www.aaas.org/news/press_room/climate_change/mtg_200702/aaas_climate_statement.pdf

    In fact, the first two featured areas listed on the AAAS website are “climate resources” and “evolution resources.”

    (And if enough charlatans start disputing the distance to the sun, then “solar distance resources” will probably be listed there too.)

    Oregonian (bcba81)

  14. Justin,

    Here’s the scoop on Crichton and spoon-bending, etc. Since you have justly criticized scientists for speaking beyond their expertise, why do you promote someone who’s not even a scientist?

    And if you don’t think there is a scientific consensus on evolution, you need to do more research. The intelligent design theorists you speak of are mostly not trained in evolution, some aren’t even scientists. They are speaking out of frankly religious motives, not scientific ones, but they dissemble in public except before their fellow believers. Did you follow the Kitzmiller trial?

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  15. Justin,

    BTW, I am open to scientific evidence either way on global warming. But citing someone like Crichton is no way to build your credibility. It’s not just that Crichton isn’t a scientist, it’s that his wacky paranormal beliefs reveal Crichton has a poor understanding of science. Crichton doubts global warming but believes in seeing auras, clairvoyance and spoon-bending. Strains at a gnat, swallows a camel.

    Can’t you find an actual scientist, trained in the relevant fields, who doesn’t spout this paranomal gibberish?

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  16. the last while not a center for climactic studies is one of the cutting edge scientific centers for biological and genetic research.

    That give the man solid scientific credentials even if he did not spend three years researching the subject prior to writing State of Fear

    That education gives Crichton scientific credentials in biological and genetic research, although those decades-old credentials are now rather long in the tooth. Also, Crichton’s education was in a field far away from climate science. So if we are to criticize Carl Sagan for speaking out of his area of expertise — and I think that is a valid point — it applies even more to Crichton.

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  17. And sorry for yet another post, but lest I be misunderstood, Al Gore is also not a primary source on science. I wouldn’t dream of citing him as an expert. I haven’t even seen “An Inconvenient Truth”.

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  18. assistant devil’s advocate,

    I concur: Crichton is a terrible writer.
    “Timeline”… holy crap, that book sucked.
    “Congo”… who cares?

    I hadn’t heard the thing about “Next”; I guess that makes Michael Crichton as evil as *Jim Webb*, what with the sordid pedophilic fantasies and all.

    Leviticus (43095b)

  19. Justin,

    Would you also suggest that there should be debate regarding whether or not HIV causes AIDS? There is a scientific consensus on the issue (including a consensus statement). There are a number of prominent detractors (including a professor at UC Berkeley), who claim that the HIV research community suppresses dissent and is only interested in maintaining the status quo so that research dollars continue to flow to HIV research. And, there are (or were) several African countries who took this line, and used it as an excuse to refuse to deal with the growing HIV problem.

    I’m not saying that this necessarily has any relevance to the AGW debate, but, then neither do Crichton’s arguments that scientific consensus statements, on their own, belie an actual lack of certainty.

    Adam (40d1a3)

  20. “Al Gore is also not a primary source on science.”

    Nor does he claim to be. He’s the spokesmodel [spokesdrone?]

    AF (c319c8)

  21. Al Gore is also not a primary source on science. I wouldn’t dream of citing him as an expert. I haven’t even seen “An Inconvenient Truth”.

    Comment by Bradley J. Fikes

    Isn’t it odd that this supposedly large community of concerned scientists would allow a goofy politician to be their spokesman? It doesn’t seem like these Warmist scientists have made themselves available, at least not in a formal manner, to defend and debate their “settled science”.

    J Curtis (d21251)

  22. Comment by Bradley J. Fikes:

    Why do you have to rely on Crichton? He has no expertise in climate science, and is an endorser of such pseudoscience as spoon-bending, clairvoyance and aura reading. Is he really the best you can come up with?

    Comment by Michael Crichton:

    Any departure from environmental orthodoxy is marked by ad hominem attack, vigorous spread of false information, claims of criminality and mental derangement, and general nastiness. Apparently this is one area where reasonable people cannot disagree.

    THAT JUST HAPPENED

    TakeFive (2bf7bd)

  23. In the meantime, as you know, my own prediction for warming over the next 100 years is 0.8 degrees C. I arrived at this by a complex formula that I will reveal in future years.

    I think I’ll take peer-reviewed scientific research over Crichton’s secret formula. (Maybe it will also reveal the Colonel’s 11 secret herbs and spices!)

    Doug,

    It’s called sarcasm.

    mark (0c2a08)

  24. TakeFive,

    It’s not ad hominem to point out someone has a poor understanding of science.

    Bradley J. Fikes (a1ae41)

  25. “Any departure from environmental orthodoxy is marked by ad hominem attack,”

    Crichton has no expertise on the issues at hand but speaks as if he does. He is not a scientist. He believes in the paranormal.
    These are simple statements of fact.
    —-

    “Isn’t it odd that this supposedly large community of… [PICK ANY SUBJECT] would allow a goofy politician[s] to be their spokesm[e]n?”

    Depressing maybe but not odd: people aren’t smart enough to listen to experts, they need actors to explain things to them.

    AF (c319c8)

  26. I have seen “An Inconvient Truth,” Bradley. In it Gore lays out the case for global waring in a clear, straightforward reasoned manner. Apparently this is intolerable to some people. Why I cannot imagine.

    David Ehrenstein (2289f8)

  27. What we should strive for is a single standard to judge the credibility of spokespersons on scientific topics. It’s not ad hominem to point out that Carl Sagan’s views on global warming were on a subject outside of his area of expertise. Likewise, it’s not ad hominem to point out that Michael Crichton’s views on global warming are on a subject far outside of his area of expertise, and that he holds some extremely unscientific views. A GW skeptic such as John Christy, a practicing climate scientist, would be far more apt as an expert source.

    Bradley J. Fikes (a1ae41)

  28. Bradley J. Fikes:

    You first comment out of the box was and ad hom “…Crichton…is an endorser of such pseudoscience…”. While I don’t know what he “believes” I take no issue with anyone wanting to investigate spoon bending or global warming and honestly analyze the data as well as be open to the possibility that new data may render your previous conclusions in error.

    This is what the man is arguing for and it doesn’t matter what branch of science you hail from. You don’t need to be in the hard sciences to appreciate proper data handling and analysis.

    This reminds me of the arguments against auto insurance companies charging people based on where they live rather than how they drive, or mortgage companies charging higher interest to minorities. Is it possible where you live may have some correlation on the likelihood of theft or contact with an uninsured driver, or that since many minorities are in the lower economic classes, they might be a greater credit risk?

    Of course it’s easier to blame racism than admit failings just as it is to accept man (well, the white man anyway) as the despoiler of the environment. Rachel Carson pulled this same stunt with “Silent Spring” and uncritical acceptance of its premises may cost many, many lives.

    TakeFive (2bf7bd)

  29. Nowhere have I seen Chrichton claim himself to be an expert on global warming. HIs opinions are just that, his opinions. His beef is with the decline of hard science as it’s become more politicized. The constant chant of “consensus” just proves his point. If every scientist on the planet agreed that eating peanuts will make you fly it would mean precisely nothing if they can’t prove it. So where is the proof that man has any significant effect on global warming? Proof mind you, not models that exclude numerous factors and operate on preconceived outcomes.

    Science is an adverserial endeavour at heart, constantly trying to prove your theory right and the other guy wrong. No real scientist would ever in his right mind declare “the debate is over” on anything.

    Taltos (c99804)

  30. TakeFive

    You first comment out of the box was and ad hom “…Crichton…is an endorser of such pseudoscience…”.

    That’s not ad hominem. Crichton’s endorsement of pseudoscience speaks directly to his understanding of the scientific method. He’s not a reliable guide on science.

    While I don’t know what he “believes” I take no issue with anyone wanting to investigate spoon bending or global warming and honestly analyze the data as well as be open to the possibility that new data may render your previous conclusions in error.

    Did you read my link to Patterico’s post about Crichton? The guy openly discussed in “Travels” his belief in the paranormal. And while we must leave our minds open to new evidence, Crichton made up his mind based on a very incomplete and subjective experience, including taking peyote and wandering in the desert. Such tricks as spoon-bending are done by stage magicians all the time. As Patterico pointed out, James Randi has a $1 million challenge to anyone who can prove such paranormal claims. Why doesn’t Crichton take that challenge?

    Bradley J. Fikes (a1ae41)

  31. TakeFive,

    So you won’t have to hunt for it, here is the link to Patterico’s post on Crichton.

    Excerpt:

    I really like Michael Crichton. I think he’s a brilliant man. And he writes interesting books. I’ve read most of them. So when I first read Travels, I tried to be open-minded. I tried to see my aura, and to bend spoons. I really did.

    But none of it worked. I decided that the “auras” he was describing were just an optical illusion. And I couldn’t bend spoons. And I didn’t want to take peyote and wander in the desert. I started to get the feeling that perhaps Crichton had taken one too many hits of peyote himself. . .

    Bradley J. Fikes (a1ae41)

  32. Bradley J. Fikes

    “That’s not ad hominem. Crichton’s endorsement of pseudoscience..”

    Oh come on. Call a GW proponent an endorser of pseudoscience and see how it’s received.

    “The guy openly discussed in “Travels” his belief in the paranormal.”

    Does he propose that these “beliefs” are a concrete fact? Does he posit that the “debate is over” as do many on the global warming side? Does he liken skeptics of his belief akin to holocaust deniers? Does he propose, no, demand radical lifestyle changes for (but not all) based on his beliefs?

    “…including taking peyote and wandering in the desert.”

    Bradley – you must be very young or very old. I don’t think many children of the sixties would make this a disqualification from having the mental ability to draw rational conclusions. I’m sure you weren’t making an ad hominem here though, right?

    TakeFive (2bf7bd)

  33. Bradley Sikes (and other commenters on this thread): I do not RELY on Crichton as an authority on global warming. I cite him because he states some objective truths about the nature of scientific inquiry that I have long held – only he manages to do it in a much more eloquent and clear fashion than I have been able to do up until now. As a result, it doesn’t matter what his scientific qualifications are. If a 10 year old had given the same speech, I would be linking to it to and begging people to read the remarks, ok? So hopefully, that will put the debate over Crichton’s “qualifications” to bed. If you still think that is relevent, you completely missed the point of both this post, and Crichton’s comments.

    What you linked to regarding the “spoon-bending” does not show that Crichton “endorses” spoon-bending as “science”. I invite everyone else to read the post you linked to and draw your own conclusions. I think you need to do better than that to debunk ideas concerning the philosophy of science and how the scientific community has operated in the modern world.

    Justin Levine (6e1290)

  34. Bradley – Also regarding Crichton’s alleged “endorsement” of spoon-bending as “science”: Takefive pretty much nailed it in comment # 30.

    Justin Levine (6e1290)

  35. To Brad, AF and the others –

    Let’s take Crichton out the equation for a moment. Imagine this speech was given anonymously by an unsigned speaker. I would STILL be linking to it because it makes very powerful arguments that accurately track the problems with the scientific community today. Are you willing to debate them on the merits?? Or are you going to rely on the line that Crichton doesn’t have the right “credentials”, and thus we don’t need to debate the underlying ideas he has articulated?

    Forget Crichton, let’s discuss the speech.

    Justin Levine (6e1290)

  36. Might I recommend reducing your carbon footprint by turning off your computer.

    I do, when it’s not in use. It’s possible to save the world without disrupting your life, and it saves you money in the process!

    It’s called sarcasm.

    Darn, and I was really hoping to get the scoop on those herbs and spices! (I hear three of them are salt.)

    Doug (5d0532)

  37. Justin and TakeFive,

    To respond to #30, I was quoting Patterico. Leave aside his snark, and the point about Randi’s challenge remains. Claims of spoon-bending and aura-reading, etc, have consistently failed to pass controlled experiments. Crichton’s failure to realize this doesn’t speak well for his credentials as a science skeptic.

    But I will take Crichton out of the equation, as you suggest. I’ll look at the speech on its own merits, probably over the weekend. I’ll watch the GW documentary too, and then we can discuss it.

    Until then, let’s just agree to disagree.

    Bradley J. Fikes (d238ea)

  38. A somewhat related matter: The NYT’s obituary on Cathy Seipp falsely stated that global warming was a favorite topic of hers.

    Her favorite targets included political correctness, global warming, same-sex marriage, abortion and gun control — and the Hollywood luminaries who espoused those causes.

    In fact, Cathy Seipp almost never wrote about global warming, and accepted the theory. She was also pro-choice on abortion. In these, as in other ways, she was not a lockstep conservative.

    I don’t think this was malicious on the NYT reporter’s part. It was just sloppiness. The reporter heard that Cathy was a conservative, so he “knew” what she thought on various topics. Since Cathy frequently wrote about this very failing of reporters, the laziness and inability to understand people who think differently than them, this drives me up the wall.

    What chances would you give us getting the NYT to correct its error?

    Bradley J. Fikes (d238ea)

  39. All this spoon talk got me curious. What say we bypass the middleman (sorry Patterico) and read the man’s own words:

    Q:
    Do you still “believe” or participate in the spiritual experiences you had in Travels? What is your take on your views then, in todays world? Such as talking to plants, seeing/healing/ cleansing auras, spoon bending…. I respect your work so much but, I guess one needs to experience spoon bending himself to believe it!

    A:
    …Of all the things I wrote about, spoon bending seems to stick in the rationalist throat. It just bugs people. I don’t know why.

    I don’t know why spoon-bending occurs. I have no explanation. I can’t describe it any better than I did in the book. But I have no doubt that it occurs. More than seeing adults bend spoons (they might be using brute force to do it, although if you believe that I suggest you try, with your bare hands, to bend a decent-weight spoon from the tip of the bowl back to the handle. I think you’d need a vise.)

    …I think that spoon bending is not “psychic” or bugga-bugga. It’s something pretty normal, but we don’t understand it. So we deny its existence.

    complete post:

    http://www.crichton-official.com/travels/travels_books.shtml

    TakeFive (2bf7bd)

  40. To be ad hominem, the argument doesn’t need to be evaluated on the basis of if it was sufficiently hateful.

    The whole point is whether the argument focuses on the credentials of the original speaker.

    From the first post down, the focus hasn’t been on “Is there _any_ merit in the argument?” as opposed to “This guy isn’t qualified to listen to.”

    So instead of discussing clear conflicts of interest in how grants are requested and awarded, the discussion is focused on spoon-bending. Excellent.

    Al (b624ac)

  41. TakeFive,

    The spoon-bending contention is that metal spoons can be bent without applying force. There is certainly a “normal” explanation for this, such as using spoons that were pre-bent and so had metal fatigue. But that’s not what Crichton is saying. He went to a spoon-bending party and reported that spoons bent and that children bent heavy metal bars without experting themselves. He didn’t subject any of this to a controlled experiment. That’s not science, that’s credulity.

    Bradley J. Fikes (d238ea)

  42. TakeFive,

    Here’s a description from Crichton about attending a spoon-bending party:

    I looked down. My spoon had begun to bend. I hadn’t even realized. The metal was completely pliable, like soft plastic. It wasn’t particularly hot, either, just slightly warm. I easily bend the bowl of the spoon in half, using only my fingertips. This didn’t require any pressure at all, just guiding with my fingertips. . .

    Of course, spoon bending has been the focus of long-standing controversy. Uri Gellar, an Israeli magician, who claims psychic powers, often bends spoons, but other magicians, such a James Randi, claim that spoon bending isn’t a psychic phenomenon at all, just a trick.

    But I had bent a spoon, and I knew it wasn’t a trick. I looked around the room and saw little children, eight or nine years old, bending large metal bars. They weren’t trying to trick anybody. They were just little kids having a good time. Staying up past their bedtimes on a Friday night, going along with the adults, doing this silly bending stuff. . .

    And as for Crichton’s colossal gullibility, here’s a real howler (italics mine):

    . . .The only thing I noticed is that spoon bending seemed to require a focused inattention. You had to try to get it to bend, and then you had to forget about it. Maybe talk to someone else while you rubbed the spoon. Or look around the room. Change your attention. That’s when it was likely to bend. If you kept watching the spoon, worrying over it, it was less likely to bend.

    Bradley J. Fikes (d238ea)

  43. Taltos said,

    This is what the man is arguing for and it doesn’t matter what branch of science you hail from. You don’t need to be in the hard sciences to appreciate proper data handling and analysis.

    It brings up a point about funding being cut for NASA’s Sunspot count. How else to explain a cut in funding for such vital climate research then that it’s conclusions differ so markedly from ‘scientific consensus’?
    Examples

    Recent research (3) indicates that the combined effects of sunspot-induced changes in solar irradiance and increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases offer the best explanation yet for the observed rise in average global temperature over the last century. Using a global climate model based on energy conservation, Lane et al (3) constructed a profile of atmospheric climate “forcing” due to combined changes in solar irradiance and emissions of greenhouse gases between 1880 and 1993. They found that the temperature variations predicted by their model accounted for up to 92% of the temperature changes actually observed over the period — an excellent match for that period. Their results also suggest that the sensitivity of climate to the effects of solar irradiance is about 27% higher than its sensitivity to forcing by greenhouse gases. link

    And here

    Periods of low sunspot activity corresponded to peaks in the price of wheat, indicating a lower crop yield. This backs the idea that the solar cycle affects climate and crop yields on Earth, possibly by changing levels of cloud cover. link

    papertiger (894e4f)

  44. Ok, then lets put aside the spoon bending and peyote taking and address the specific quote that Justin placed in his original post. That is, the idea that serious scientists would not claim a consensus if the facts were truly certain. In my previous comment (#18), I mentioned one case where this was clearly untrue. HIV researchers were forced to publish a consensus letter, because certain political figures were using the supposed controversy as an excuse to deny vital medications to their people. Crichton’s argument doesn’t hold and that’s why I find his statement ridiculous. And, it has nothing to do with whether or not he can bend spoons or how much peyote he’s taken.

    Adam (40d1a3)

  45. Adam wrote:

    HIV researchers were forced to publish a consensus letter, because certain political figures were using the supposed controversy as an excuse to deny vital medications to their people.

    That’s a pretty bold statement – any links to reference?

    I don’t doubt that a lot scientists toed the line on HIV in order to keep their funding, but this is the first I’ve heard of withholding medication.

    But the HIV “crisis” is an interesting parallel. The alarmists of the day also made bleak predictions for humanity and dissenting scientists were excoriated. I recall one dissenter – I think Dr. Dusenburg was his name – that said AIDS wasn’t caused by HIV, but rather drug use (specifically the poppers (Ecstasy?) used in the gay bath houses) and HIV was merely a co-factor. This guy got relegated to the UHF talk shows. Imagine the temerity of criticizing someone’s lifestyle choices!

    TakeFive (2bf7bd)

  46. So where is that great big heterosexual HIV population we were hearing so much about in the media? I know it was the consensus that most non auto accident related young American deaths were supposed to be due to aids.
    Didn’t happen.
    Poof goes another consensus.

    papertiger (fbc22c)

  47. TakeFive,

    I think Adam is referring to South Africa, where HIV/AIDS denialism is a problem among the leaders.

    Here is a quote from the linked site:

    The slow provision of treatment has been linked to unconventional views about HIV and AIDS amongst the government. Alongside President Mbeki’s questioning of whether HIV really causes AIDS, his health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has caused controversy by promoting nutrition rather than antiretroviral drugs as a means of treating HIV. These views have caused widespread criticism, both within South Africa and amongst the international community.

    Bradley J. Fikes (2d121e)

  48. Any “consensus letter” from scientists about HIV were likely more a public debate issue, not a scientific issue. Some, like Duesberg, put forth arguments with little validity but because of the novelty and their impressive credentials they received a hearing. (Duesberg was from Berkley, molecular biology, I think.) No letter about a consensus opinion about HIV was needed from a scientific point of view.

    I heard Duesberg in person probably late 80′s. A person in the audience stood to thank him publically and announced he would stop taking his meds because of the info Duesberg had presented. The data and opinion were clearly flawed.*

    I sometimes wonder how often people read through all of the posts on a discussion thread, as at times points are made that seem unnoticed or just ignored. As said previously, Crichton was an MD before he decide writing The Andromeda Strain would be more enjoyable than treating it. Also as said above, I think the linked speech is very good for what it is. Is it a detailed rebuttal to GW? Of course not and it doesn’t claim to be. It does give some interesting perspective, however, and I do think it stands on its own merits no matter who wrote it and all spoon bending aside.

    “Consensus opinions” are common in medicine, but not as the final “truth” on a topic. The known scientific evidence regarding a certain disease or treatment is reviewed, what is debatable is discussed, what needs to be studied is proposed, and everyone tries to agree on what is a reasonable approach to take when one sees a patient Monday morning with the illness, given we don’t know everything.

    *If interested, a brief critique of Duesberg’s claim that HIV meds cause AIDS (during the time I heard him, anyway):
    - Per Duesberg, “Medications that fight HIV such as AZT (zidovudine or Retrovir) interfere with nucleic acid synthesis. You need nucleic acid synthesis (DNA, RNA) to be healthy. Taking AZT makes you unhealthy.” (paraphrase)
    - An analagous (and false) argument by me-
    Erythromycin (a common antibiotic in use the last 40+ years) interferes with protein synthesis. Stopping protein synthesis will kill you. No one should take erythromycin.
    - Many have taken erythromycin, usually without problem except for some mild GI upset. Yes, it inhibits protein synthesis, ESPECIALLY the protein synthesis of BACTERIA, which have different enzymes, etc., than humans. Likewise, AZT is a more potent inhibitor of the nucleic acid pathway from RNA to DNA by the reverse transcriptase enzyme which the HIV virus needs to reproduce than the pathways that are normal in humans.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  49. papertiger-

    The truth is:
    - heterosexuals can get HIV, it is not a “gay disease”.

    The truth also is:
    - like any sexually transmitted disease, the greater and more frequently a person is exposed to the infection, the more likely he/she is to get it.
    - HIV is relatively hard to transmit compared to many other illnesses
    - Even if “the risk is low”, “it is 100% for the person who gets it”.

    Ideal goals:
    - educate people to take action to decrease/eliminate the risk of contracting HIV
    - if infected with HIV, seek treatment
    - minimize stigma associated with the disease that would make people avoid dealing with it.

    Lots of opinions and ideas go into making policy decisions in trying to accomplish the goals. How scientific facts get translated is the issue.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  50. MD in Philly wrote:

    papertiger-
    The truth is:
    - heterosexuals can get HIV, it is not a “gay disease”.

    I believe what papertiger was alluding to was the “epidemic” among the strait population that was posited by various groups and the media. My recollection is of outlandish claims of 1 in 10 people would have HIV by so-and-so year, so everyone was at risk, which was just nonsense.

    And it persists to this day. You should see the big fuss they make when some kid gets a bloody nose at the soccer field. You’d think the kid had the ebola virus.

    TakeFive (2bf7bd)

  51. Here is the a link to the Nature issue that covered the statement. There are a couple of articles on the issue that can be found there, in addition to the text of the statement itself.

    Yes, the statement of consensus was a political issue, but it was also an attempt to stop useless debate on a matter of fact. HIV does cause AIDS. While some of the most cataclysmic predictions about HIV spread didn’t end up occurring, there was, and still is, a real problem with HIV infection of straight people in Africa.

    Anyhow, my point is not regarding whether or not lifestyle plays a role in HIV infection, or even to start a debate about politics and AIDS. All I’m saying is that sometimes scientists get together and release a ‘statement of consensus’ (for any number of reasons), and that doesn’t mean that they are simply covering up weak science. This example directly refutes Mr. Crichton’s quote in the original post. That’s all. Please don’t read more into it than that.

    Adam (40d1a3)

  52. Adam wrote:

    All I’m saying is that sometimes scientists get together and release a ’statement of consensus’ (for any number of reasons), and that doesn’t mean that they are simply covering up weak science. This example directly refutes Mr. Crichton’s quote in the original post. That’s all.

    Fair enough. I shall ponder on that this evening.

    TakeFive (2bf7bd)

  53. The truth is:
    - heterosexuals can get HIV, it is not a “gay disease”.

    How does a heterosexual male sexually acquire HIV?

    The science/medical research community was pushing the heterosexual HIV lie so that the money would flow. The public would never hand over billions upon billions of dollars if they knew the clear truth about HIV.

    There were others whose agendas helped to promote the lie: Those who wanted to prevent the stigmatization of homosexuals and all the way on the other side of the sociopolitical spectrum, religious types who wanted to promote heterosexual abstinence.

    J Curtis (d21251)

  54. I don’t really want to get into a debate on this topic, but…

    #53: It is an established fact that HIV can be transmitted via heterosexual, vaginal, sex. However, it occurs at an, approximately, 10 fold lower rate than during anal intercourse. If you don’t believe me, or need a more detailed mechanistic description, I’d be happy to provide some links or explain it to you. But, I’m not sure it’s completely appropriate for this forum.

    Adam (40d1a3)

  55. “The science/medical research community was pushing the heterosexual HIV lie so that the money would flow. ”

    Jesus Fucking Christ
    The World Health Organization estimates that heterosexual transmission has accounted for 75% of the HIV infections in adults world-wide.

    STATS:
    Estimate/ Range
    People living with HIV/AIDS in 2006 39.5 million /34.1-47.1 million
    Adults living with HIV/AIDS in 2006 37.2 million/ 32.1-44.5 million
    Women living with HIV/AIDS in 2006 17.7 million/ 15.1-20.9 million
    Children living with HIV/AIDS in 2006 2.3 million/ 1.7-3.5 million
    People newly infected with HIV in 2006 4.3 million/ 3.6-6.6 million
    Adults newly infected with HIV in 2006 3.8 million/ 3.2-5.7 million
    Children newly infected with HIV in 2006 0.53 million/ 0.41-0.66 million
    AIDS deaths in 2006 2.9 million /2.5-3.5 million
    Adult AIDS deaths in 2006 2.6 million/ 2.2-3.0 million
    Child AIDS deaths in 2006 0.38 million/ 0.29-0.50 million

    More than 25 million people have died of AIDS since 1981.

    AF (c319c8)

  56. AF,

    As expected, you didn’t answer the question:

    How many heterosexual males have sexually acquired HIV.

    You have demonstrated the propaganda nicely though.

    J Curtis (d21251)

  57. J. Curtis:

    How do you think that almost 20% of the population acquires a disease? Is the homosexual population really that large? And, how about the women? Who are they getting infected by?

    Come on, don’t be ridiculous now.

    Adam (40d1a3)

  58. Adam,

    Once you honestly answer the first question, you can begin to contemplate the other questions.

    J Curtis (d21251)

  59. J Curtis:

    Ok, what’s your answer to the first question, then?

    Adam (40d1a3)

  60. Males with HIV acquired through Heterosexual contact IN THE US: Estimated 61,914 as of 2005

    AF (c319c8)

  61. Following up with the theme that the medical facts are pretty clear cut, it’s how they are interpreted and “spun” that brings confusion.

    HIV is like any other infectious disease, the larger the amount of the “inoculum”, the amount of the germ one is exposed to, the greater the risk of infection. Some diseases need a large exposure, others small. The exposure may need to be in a specific manner- e.g. inhaled, not on contact with skin.

    Too much graphic description not necessary as Adam has said, but I’ll make a few points.
    1. The number of different sexual partners is important. (“Duh”) In parts of Africa it is somewhat normative for a man to have his wife, his “wife” in town, “his wife” in the big city, etc. While the man is “allowed” to be promiscuous, the woman is not, supposedly. Obviously, unless the female to male ratio is 3:1 or 4:1 some of those men are “sharing wives”.
    2. Any inflammation in the genital area will be a source for more virus to be shed, and a larger area for infection to occur. Africa has higher rates of some “ulcerative” STD’s, and probably less available treatment. Also, as has been mentioned in the press recently, male circumcision decreases transmission of HIV, especially from female to male.

    I don’t think the scientific community was pushing the idea of heterosexual AIDS for the sake of funding, as plenty of funding was happening before people talked about the spread of AIDS into the general public. It was a new and dramatic medical puzzle, we didn’t know just what was going to develop in the future, “AIDS Activists” were making lots of noise and no one wanted to be accused of being anti-gay. (When I was a third year resident in 87 and making effort to learn about “the new drug AZT”, one attending said he thought I was “wasting my time”, that it would be “so expensive no one would want to pay for it”. He obviously was wrong (truely a rare event for him), and he politically is pretty much an “East Coast Liberal”.

    My feeling is that the general message about heterosexual AIDS, that “anyone can get it”, is more a reflection of removing stigma from the illness as well as communicating that all sexual behavior is legitimate, as long as you “take precautions”. (Not my view).

    The AIDS situation in Africa was already bad in 1990, it’s just that the West was too freaked out about this new untreatable disease themselves there was no interest of what was happening elsewhere. Once treatment was available the initial excitment turned into a “ho-hum routine”, and then people took notice of Africa and elsewhere. When people started talking about S. Africa it was years after Uganda had hit the 1/4 sexually active people in regions of the country. In fact, uganda already had HIV cases going down through their “ABC” prevention efforts, as people died but fewer were catching it.

    I’ve always thought it is misleading to say “anyone can get AIDS” as if it is a random event that all Americans have an equal risk. Anyone can die of a drug overdose too, if they are abusing drugs, that is.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  62. A brief comment re AF’s numbers from the CDC. Obviously that’s the place to go to get the best estimates, but as one who submits data to the authorities, you go by what the person tells you, no matter what evidence you have contrary to it. For example, if a male pt claims he got it through heterosexual sex, but also has chronic Hep B and Hep C, odds are that they were likely an injection drug user. Very common scenario.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  63. …and people lie about sex all the time

    AF (c319c8)

  64. Adam,
    Look at what you have done to our nice little AGW discussion.
    I am prepared to renounce my part in turning it into Straight Talk About HIV if you are.

    papertiger (b56000)

  65. Adam,

    It would be much more instructive regarding the purpose for which the question arose if you answered the question.

    What percent of HIV cases were contracted by males during heterosexual sex?

    Shouldn’t that number be included somewhere in all of those AIDS statistics that get tossed around? It would be very curious if that number didn’t show up in the official statistics, wouldn’t it?

    J Curtis (d21251)

  66. J Curtis,
    I know I’m not Adam but I answed your question above, TWICE!

    AF (c319c8)

  67. Sorry…I couldn’t check this site until now (still at work). But, I think AF and MDinPhilly answered the question. If there’s something else that you want answered, you’ll have to be more specific.

    Adam (40d1a3)

  68. J Curtis-

    AF is correct, he has provided links with the answers you want.

    In addition, I directly answered some and others could be deduced.

    In Africa the male:female HIV ratio is nearly 1:1, which is reflective of male HIV in Africa being primarily through heterosexual contact, as I discussed above and as AF’s second link explained,

    In the US it is considerably smaller. I’m sure less than 20%. I’m too tired to look at AF’s CDC link to find out for you.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  69. Justin Levine asked for some debate on the merits of Crichton’s speech. I didn’t read the speech he linked to, but did read one that Crichton himself linked to in the interview Justin linked to. If you don’t mind, here are my comments on the merits of that speech, entitled “Our Environmental Future” from the National Press Club on January 25, 2005. (Warning: the page will try to resize your browser.)

    First of all, Crichton is a master of rhetorical style. This is what makes him such an engaging author (to some at least) and public speaker. And he understands also that the purpose of any presentation is to persuade. In his pursuit of persuasion, he understandably highlights ideas that support his thesis and ignores information that contradicts. Unfortunately, he strays too far IMO into the realms of disingenuousness and nigh-dissembling.

    He starts out with a great sentiment…

    I still believe that environmental awareness is desperately important. The environment is our shared life support system, it is what we pass on to the next generation, and how we act today has consequences-—potentially serious consequences—-for future generations.

    … but then goes on to argue against taking any action. His main argument? We can never know the future with complete certainty — an excuse that could be invoked to avoid all sorts of proactive behavior.

    He first trots out the mid-century “global cooling” canard, which I’ve addressed before, but eventually gets to the meat of his presentation, a critique of the two charts on page three of the Summary for Policymakers from the IPCC TAR. Because I don’t have enough time, I’m only going to look at the former.

    I won’t deny it: charts can lie. Crichton deftly makes the point by taking the now well-known chart of global surface temperatures over the last century and re-plotting it, this time showing what he calls the “entire average fluctuation” on a scale of 0 to 20°C. On this scale, the temperature changes truly look like what he calls “this little fluttering on the surface.”

    This is why I admire (grudgingly I guess) Crichton’s rhetorical style. It’s obvious the re-chart is meaningless, but still, the first time I saw it, I was taken aback. It’s an impressive juxtaposition.

    But why choose 0°C as the minimum? Is there something special about the freezing point of water? No, what he should have done was use the thermodynamic temperature scale, with absolute zero as the minimum. (See my versions of the charts.) Plotted thusly, temperature is essentially flat over the last century! Climate change no longer exists. In fact, at this scale, even ice ages are nearly indistinguishable from interglacials! So why does everyone still complain about the weather?

    (Note: I used data from NASA and NOAA.)

    His graph is meaningless of course because global temperatures are not expected to vary by >14 degrees. He even admits that he constructed his graph to mislead: “Let’s be clear that I am graphing the data in a way that minimizes it.” So because Crichton is able to distort data, we are to conclude that data should never be trusted? It is entirely appropriate to graph the data at a resolution that reveals meaningful information.

    After trashing the charts and some other meanderings, he begins to quote extensively from the TAR to point out phrases that emphasize the uncertainty of various aspects of climate science (uncertainty I should add that has diminished since 2001 when the TAR was written). He then claims that any uncertainty means the whole report can legitimately be ignored: “Surely it should lead us to close the book at this point.”

    Those of you who bemoan the constant claims from the GW crowd that “the debate is over” should read this section and see who is really demanding an end to debate. Certainty and uncertainty are equally unacceptable it seems.

    Here’s one example of uncertainty that Crichton discusses at length: the range of future temperature predictions in the TAR is an increase of 1.5 to 6 degrees by the end of the century. That’s a 400% variation! Such a level of uncertainty would result in fines by the IRS if applied to tax estimates!

    But what if I told you that a certain activity — say being convicted of armed robbery — would result in a prison term of anywhere from 1.5 to 6 decades, would that level of uncertainty encourage you to lead a life of crime? You can’t tell me exactly how long I’ll be in jail? I now feel free to ignore the consequences!

    I’m about out of time… Let’s see, what else? He confuses local weather with global climate… 100 years is too long for us to worry about (What have future generations done for us?)… Something worse than climate change might eventually happen (so we should focus on that instead?)… A society that hasn’t solved Problem A should ignore Problem B…

    I’m not impressed yet.

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled program: When HIV-Infected Spoon-Benders on Peyote Attack!

    Doug (3b32e8)

  70. Justine:

    Thanks for the effort you have made for us in furthering the exposure of this scam.

    Doug:

    Your logic is flawed; minimizing data is not distorting data. Claiming that it is is a distortion.

    RJN (e12f22)

  71. In Africa the male:female HIV ratio is nearly 1:1, which is reflective of male HIV in Africa being primarily through heterosexual contact, as I discussed above and as AF’s second link explained,

    In the US it is considerably smaller. I’m sure less than 20%. I’m too tired to look at AF’s CDC link to find out for you.

    Comment by MD in Philly

    Your post seems to argue that homosexuals in Africa are much more well behaved and practice safer sex than US homosexuals. Why do you think that is?

    J Curtis (d21251)

  72. The current uptick of one degree (in world wide temp) started around 1910, with a slight dip of two tenths of a degree from the 40′s to the 80′s, which Doug says was due to aerosol polution. From 1910 til 1942 the temp rose half a degree, from 1978 to now it rose another half a degree. (see Fig. 1)
    In 1939 three new long term storms, simular to the great red spot, formed in Jupiter’s south temperate zone. In 2000 these three storms merged to form a new red spot (a giant storm larger then the Earth).
    Storms like this would take alot of energy to generate.

    Jupiter receives 4% of the Solar energy per meter squared that the Earth does. Doesn’t sound like much but when you factor in the enormous size of Jupiter’s surface it turns out that Jupiter receives over 2 1/2 times the total sunshine received by Earth. Here is how it works.
    Jupiter has 122 times the surface area of Earth. Divide by 2 to get how much of Jupiters surface is facing the Sun at any given time.
    66 * .04 = 2.64

    Now the next thing is Jupiter’s atmosphere. It isn’t CO2. CO2 is peanuts compared to Jupiters thermal blanket. Jupiter has 2500 ppm of Methane. Methane is 23 times more effective a heat blanket then CO2 and Jupiter has proportionally 6.5 times as much of it.
    23 * 6.5 = 149.5
    149.5 * 2.64 * 1 degree of global warming = the amount of warming we could expect to see on Jupiter.

    It’s a wonder that we don’t see Jupiter’s atmosphere boiling over.

    Well actually you can see it boiling over with a six inch telescope.

    papertiger (b40a74)

  73. minimizing data is not distorting data

    From “The American Heritage Dictionary,” distort: To give a false or misleading account of; misrepresent. (2nd definition)

    I explained why I thought it was misleading.

    Doug (5d0532)

  74. J Curtis-

    I’m not sure what your point is.

    Unless you think that male homosexual behavior is much more common in Africa than in the US and Europe, to attribute the high prevalence of HIV in males to homosexual behavior (which happens to equal the incidence in females from heterosexual contact) doesn’t seem to be reasonable.

    You previously asked, “How does a heterosexual male sexually acquire HIV?” I addressed the reason for increased incidence of heterosexual HIV in males in Africa previously, and the link from AF addresses this further. In short, men get HIV from heterosexual contact the same way they get gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis, but transmission is “less efficient” for HIV, unless other factors are present (as previously discussed).

    If you claim the risk of widespread heterosexual HIV in the US was overblown, I agree. {Whether it was from the science of flawed computer models or the way realistic science was publicized I don’t know, haven’t looked at that aspect too hard.) The message that a woman can get HIV from heterosexual contact is certainly true, and happens, including when the woman doesn’t know as much about the guy as she thinks.

    Doug-

    Thank you for informing us of Crichton’s discussion of Global Warming, but it is somewhat tangential to the original discussion. At most you give us reason to question the validity of Crichton’s arguments, which we would do anyway if we read the originally linked speech. Evidence of poor reasoning in one area does raise the concern of poor reasoning in other areas, but being wrong on one issue does not mean being wrong on (all) other issues. If that was true, nothing of human discussion would mean much.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  75. “In Africa the male:female HIV ratio is nearly 1:1″

    Not true
    My quote above from Data on S. Africa:

    “About 5.54 million people were estimated to be living with HIV in South Africa in 2005, with 19 percent of the adult population affected. Women in the 25-29 age group were the worst affected, with prevalence rates of up to 40 percent.”

    Women in sub-Saharan Africa are the majority of people living with HIV and AIDS with nearly 60 percent being those between 15 and 49 years of age.

    http://www.who.int/gender/hiv_aids/en/

    AF (c319c8)

  76. Al Gore is not a scientist he is a poltical hack and a liberal hypotcrit and his film is nothing but lies and junk science as well as his own over inflated ego

    krazy kagu (e22b83)

  77. MD in Philly,

    The problem is that we aren’t getting the complete story. It’s not a real comfortable thing to talk about it and it’s in that tabooness that the disinformation is allowed to go unchecked.

    I contend that the HIV in males in Africa, Latin America/Caribbean and SE Asia is almost always acquired via being on the receiving end of a homosexual act and very often not consensually. That information is entirely missing from the data because it is taboo, especially in those parts of the world. I also contend that a very small percentage of that 61,000 in the US was contracted via open sores on the penis and almost all of them were concealing the real way they came down with the virus.

    Almost all women who have acquired HIV in the US did so via a male partner who was either bisexual or a needle sharer.

    I’m not even saying that the authorities were wrong to promulgate some false perceptions regarding HIV. If the complete truth was laid bare, there would probably be many more incidents of violence against homosexuals in some of these countries and it can be argued that anything that disuades promiscuity has a societal benefit. My point is that a concensus can be built around a fallacy.

    J Curtis (d21251)

  78. Al Gore is a generally honest, hard working man with a genuine concern for the environment which he believes is best tackled by big government. I don’t find him particularly hypocritical. I just find him to be incorrect. His cure will be worse than the disease, especially since we haven’t figured out the disease yet.

    I’m tired of these unjustified, ridiculously hyperbolic attacks on Al Gore, even though I think he is quite mistaken.

    I wish he had picked reforming Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid. That’s something only government can do. But who can predict the object of a man’s passion.

    Yours,
    Wince

    Wince and Nod (931cf0)

  79. If CO2 which only makes up about .03% of the atmosphere were to increase by even 10% of its volume (a huge increase, not even close to what has happened) that would make it only .031% of the earths atmosphere. Does that sound like a climate changing, pole melting shift? BTW, since plants use CO2 for fuel and to produce O2, then wouldn’t a tiny increase in CO2 increase the amount of plant life fuel and thus make the planet greener while converting the tiny CO2 back into O2 anyway? Why do so many liberals claim the earth is hotter now when every study recording the drought that occuried in the US over the last two years states that the 1930′s drought was worse because it was hotter then? Did any of you libs bother to read the state reports on the 2004-2006 drought?
    Doesn’t it hurt to think for yourselves for a moment, ehh libs?

    Ray Robison (a76d70)

  80. Doug:

    Using the lower region, of a presented spread of values, to reach a conclusion, is not a distortion.

    RJN (e12f22)

  81. AF-
    “About 5.54 million people were estimated to be living with HIV in South Africa in 2005, with 19 percent of the adult population affected. Women in the 25-29 age group were the worst affected, with prevalence rates of up to 40 percent.”
    -that doesn’t give the information you need to make the case the ratio isn’t (roughly) 1:1. We know that 19% of adult population is infected, and the specific demographic with the highest incidence is women 25-29 at nearly 40%. We don’t know the breakdown of men and women of the 19% total. We don’t know the distribution of incidence in women or men.

    Women in sub-Saharan Africa are the majority of people living with HIV and AIDS with nearly 60 percent being those between 15 and 49 years of age.
    - Again, is the “majority” being women 51%, 75%, or what?
    - “Nearly 60%” refers to what? The percent of women with HIV that are between 15 and 49?

    When I stated the 1:1 ratio it was meant as an estimate, based on the stats from some time ago. The point I was trying to make was the explosion of HIV in Africa was not majority male as in the US.

    To J Curtis-
    I’ll agree with you that in the US the overwhelming majority of women infected with HIV had partners who were bisexual or drug users or both. (From what I’ve been told, it doesn’t even have to be injection, as sharing a crack pipe will sometimes result in burns/blood which can be transferred to another person. If anyone thinks that’s a bunch of nonsense I’m open to hear your argument.)
    I’ll also agree that in the US the amount attributed in males to heterosexual behavior is exaggerated.

    I don’t agree with your claim that the large majority of HIV in males in Africa and elsewhere is caused by unreported homosexual behavior or assault. The factors affecting transmission rate to males as discussed above are a quite rational, and I see no reason why one needs to invoke the idea that all male sexually acquired HIV is from
    homosexual contact. Green has written of his observations of the successful HIV fight in Uganda, where hiv infections are down. Nothing was done targeting homosexual contact, and they have seen the infection rates.

    Also, I have a number of colleagues who have spent significant time in Botswana setting up AIDS services there. They have not encountered
    this while there.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  82. MD in Philly,

    Why is AIDS an almost exclusively homosexual problem in the US and an almost exclusively heterosexual problem everywhere else in the world?

    Shouldn’t we all have a problem with that question’s premise?

    J Curtis (d21251)

  83. I remember reading somewhere that it is believed by African males suffering from AIDS, that if they have unprotected sex with a virgin that this will magicly cure them.
    When you bandy about infection figures of 60% or more of African women, between the age of 15 and 49, it’s not hard to imagine that a fair bit of rape, mixed with superstition, and desperation, would result in an asymetry between the sexs like that.

    papertiger (830204)

  84. “When you bandy about infection figures of 60% or more of African women”
    When you learn to read you’ll know that’s not what the sentence said. And after learning to read you’ll be able to find the answers to the questions you’ve asked, perhaps even in the links I supplied!

    MD in Philly. You should read up o this a bit more.

    AF (c319c8)

  85. I’m mixing up papertiger and J.Curtis.
    I’m not sure it matters

    AF (c319c8)

  86. AF-

    Please, I think I’ve been trying to have a reasonable discussion, I’m not sure what i said to deserve the claim that I’m allitrit.

    I’ve spent many, many hours reading about HIV from the perspective of:
    - antiretroviral treatment
    - diagnosis and treatment of the many opportunistic infections
    - direct consequences on the nervous system, heart, and kidneys
    - manifold problems of drug-drug interactions
    - treatment of other conditions such as chronic pain syndromes and emotional syndromes that frequently occur.

    All of this from the perspective of someone who has treated individual people (adults) with HIV
    for the last 20+ years. What I know about epidemiology has been pretty much the standard stuff that “comes with the territory”, as opposed to focusing time on reading/research those issues.

    In addition to personal knowledge of several people who have been involved with setting up a system of care for the country of Botswana sponsored by the Gates Foundation, I have known and supported folks who have been working with orphans (mainly due to HIV infection) in Uganda since around 1990.

    To J Curtis-

    Yes, it is a good question. The traditional answer has been that the major “leap” of HIV from Africa to the United States was through a “patient zero” who was a male flight attendent who was a promiscuous gay male who is thought to have infected over 200 other gay men himself. The fact that the disease was first introduced into a specific community of people who were at high risk of transmission due to the number of sexual contacts and practices that were associated with a “high efficiency” of transmission determined the pattern of spread in the US, Europe, and other developed countries.
    The pattern of spread in Africa was thought to be linked with heterosexual prostitution along the truck routes from central Africa to the south and north (after a jump from non-human primates to humans in the central African region).
    The spread of HIV from one locale to another will be somewhat dependent on the specific route of transmission and group of people infected. In a locale where it is introduced via an injection drug user it will show up there predominately first.
    All of this is complicated by the long period between original infection and the time it takes for the disease process to advance where clinical problems occur- up to 10 years on average. So people with AIDS today are people who contracted HIV on average 10 years ago. (Some people “get sick” much sooner or later, depending on a number of factors known and unknown).

    Yes, among many regions of subsaharan Africa there is the belief that sex with a virgin will transmit the disease to her (true), and hence the disease will “leave” the man (not true), as if the disease is caused by a single entity that can’t be in two places at once (like an evil spirit). This, along with the common practice of having “different wives” in different locals promotes heterosexual spread, along with lack of circumcision and other STD’s, as discussed before.

    As I said previously, “HIV is like any other infectious disease, the larger the amount of the “inoculum”, the amount of the germ one is exposed to, the greater the risk of infection. Some diseases need a large exposure, others small. The exposure may need to be in a specific manner- e.g. inhaled, not on contact with skin.”
    The amount of exposure is determined by:
    1) the amount of infectious particles coming from the source of infection and
    2) the area of exposure that can be infected.
    Take those two things and the properties of the HIV virus and everything is explained. Direct blood to blood is easy, especially with a large amount like in a blood transfusion, much less likely is transmission with a needlestick by a solid needle to the hand of a doctor suturing a wound. Same principles follow with sexual contact.

    papertiger- please do me a favor if you have time, read AF’s post of statistics, my response, and AF’s response to me in understanding the logic in interpreting the original quoted statements. Thanks.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  87. MD in Philly,

    You are telling me that the traditional theory is that HIV in America came from the African homosexual community ( patient zero being the go-between ) but then you’d also have me believe that homosexuality in Africa hasn’t contributed to the AIDS epedemic on the African continent.

    J Curtis (d21251)

  88. J Curtis,

    I’m not asking you to believe that homosexuality in Africa hasn’t contributed to the AIDS epidemic in Africa.

    I’m asking you to believe that in a society where:
    1. ongoing heterosexual promiscuity is common (not “serial monogamy”, but ongoing relationships with multiple partners over years)
    2. infection with untreated STD’s are much more common than in the US, such as chancroid and LGV, along with GC, chlamydia, and herpes
    3. circumcision is relatively uncommon, and not being circumcised increases the relative risk,
    it is not unreasonable to expect a larger incidence of HIV spread by heterosexual contact.

    “Patient zero” may have contracted the infection from homosexual contact or heterosexual contact, I don’t know. His pattern of behavior along with that of the gay community was a way it was spread quickly through that population. An individual heterosexual who contracted the disease from a prostitute in Africa and then gave it to a partner in the US would not constitute a large outbreak. The situation in Africa allowed heterosexual transmission to spread the disease much more rapidly.

    Many, if not most, of local/regional outbreaks of syphilis in the US the last many years have been among gay males. That doesn’t prove there is no heterosexual transmission of syphilis.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  89. I’m not really interested in African Aids rates. Perhaps if the Nat Geo did an honest assessment of the problem maybe I’ll read up on it.
    Besides that if you can’t find a suicide bomber, on a whole continent of people who are going to die a slow painful progressive death, willing to take out Mugabe, then I am disinterested in their welfare.

    papertiger (1afea2)

  90. “Patient zero” may have contracted the infection from homosexual contact or heterosexual contact, I don’t know.

    I thought you might say that. Wouldn’t he have infected some women in the US if he was bisexual?

    J Curtis (d21251)

  91. J Curtis,

    I find you continually picking at sidepoints instead of considering the main. “So what” if Patient Zero infected 200 women (big issues for the women involved, but we’re talking about societal epidemiology). Each of those 200 women, unless working as a prostitute, would not have anywhere near the number of sexual contacts as Patient Zero and his typical contact in the gay bath house scene. Furthermore, for reasons already discussed, each female who contracted the disease would be able to infect a relatively few number of males, even if she was a prostitute with many contacts. What you get is an explosion of disease among the high risk population where it first appeared. This actually supports the idea of heterosexual spread in African, a situation where heterosexual transmission is more efficient (also for reasons previously discussed), unless you postulate that as many men practice homosexual behavior in Africa essentially as often as heterosexual behavior.

    I may or may not be able to take the time to post again on this. A great source of info for anyone interested (in most professional’s opinion) is at the Johns Hopkins website:
    http://www.hopkins-aids.edu/.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  92. Adam –

    re; # 19. The AIDS example actually PROVES Crichton’s point. The fact is, scientists today don’t constantly tell people that “a consensus exists that HIV causes AIDS” the same way that it is ALWAYS bandied about in the Global Warming debate. They don’t have to, because they aren’t threatened by the few dissenters who claim otherwise. You DID hear the “consesnus” talk about the HIV/AIDS connection in the late 80′s because the evidence and research was far less developed than it was today. Scientists may have felt the need to make the Durban declaration at the time (2000) simply because the AIDS conference was being held in South Africa at the time and it was the South African head of state who challenged them. But it wouldn’t have mattered if they made the declaration or not – the actual science would remain an objective reality no matter who decalred what on the issue.

    That’s the real point Crichton makes – that “consensus” is ultimately irrelevent to science. So it doesn’t matter if there is or is not consensus on HIV/Evolution/Gravity/Flat Earth Theory, etc. The fact is that scientists are not as insecure when they speak about gravity or the fact that the Earth is round – so they don’t have to point to their own “consensus” (which exists absolutely in very few scientific issues).

    Justin Levine (20f2b5)


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