Category Archives: Rogue’s Gallery

The rise of the Google Galileo

Antivaxxers, climate change deniers, crystal worshippers, conspiracy theorists, anti-fluoridationists, homeopathy practioners etc are the way they are because they are unable to shake free from the shackles of evolution and develop mature critical thinking skills. In a nutshell, they are cognitively less evolved and lazy.

from Michael Thomas at exposingtruth

An Increasing Number Of People Think Astrology Is Science…

Astrology is the study of how the position of the stars relative to us on Earth have a supposed effect on people here, primarily based on their date of birth. Of course, most (or all) astrological predictions are worded so vaguely that anyone looking to see themselves in the statement would do so, for instance “you have a creative side that you don’t spend enough time nurturing” or “you have a tendency to sometimes be critical of yourself” would apply to pretty much everyone who wants to find the key to their lives in a tabloid prediction.

The effect behind astrology “fitting” so well, for so many, is known as the Forer effect and is defined as “the observation that individuals will give high accuracy ratings to descriptions of their personality that supposedly are tailored specifically for them, but are in fact vague and general enough to apply to a wide range of people.” It leads people to think statements to which almost everyone could agree with are specifically tailored to them, and it makes the reader feel, ironically, special.

The National Science Foundation study actually brings up a more important point than a growing misguided belief in astrology, and that is the growing belief in pseudoscientific principles. We all have that friend, the one who continues to claim studies and science support their beliefs but can never actually say which studies or scientific theories support these beliefs. To most of us, this seems harmless, except that this very type of person is making use of social media and YouTube to gain cult-like followings. Without naming any names: these types of people are actually doing far more damage than we tend to believe.

The increasing belief in pseudoscience like astrology is, in my opinion, directly linked to the increasing dominance of social media as a source of information. The fact is that the type of algorithms that Facebook and others use actually give an advantage to factually wrong but exciting texts. The scary part is that a large number of people who see these essentially false or misleading headlines, or read the pseudoscientific articles, are not exercising sufficient critical thinking to grasp the real picture. These people then perpetuate their false impressions further, causing all the bullsh!t to float to the top and be believed by even more people.

This is not just some abstract threat, some theoretical loss: I meet people perpetuating disinformation, even within my university, relatively often. When I discuss topics like biosphere stability or species loss, I am very frequently greeted by relatively easily disproveable excuses as to why this is no reason to worry. The majority of these people base these beliefs on articles they read on Facebook or beyond, almost always shared by their friends or into groups they belong to, and which in their eyes warranted no further investigation.

Part of the problem is that human evolution did not anticipate the emergence of science, empirical data, and statistics. Most of us primarily rely on our intuition and accept the beliefs of our friends because, in the history of humanity, that was usually the best way to understand the world around us. Unfortunately for all of us alive today, our friends are no longer the best source of information. In fact, the many views held by members of the media are vastly divorced from available statistical data: leading them to continue misinforming even those who have reason to consider themselves well-informed.

The problem is not insurmountable, but solving it does require us to exercise a degree of discipline and critical thinking: not simply believing an unnamed study or completely unsourced claims. Many websites make more money than any of us by simply writing what people already believe, want to hear, or are excited or upset to hear. A lot of readers simply bite this bait hook, line, and sinker: upping its online relevance and oftentimes pushing misinformation into popularity.

The world of online media is both a blessing and a minefield. It enables the skilled seeker to find a wealth of information far beyond the dreams of even the most resourceful librarian of 100 years past. Unfortunately, it also has the capacity of making liars look like heroes and trick well-meaning people into arrogantly defending disinformation.

Original article here


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Abbott sabotages RET, Palmer greenwashes ERF…

from Precarious Climate

It’s been a depressing three weeks for Australian climate policy.

Abbott kills large-scale renewables

On 22 October, the Abbott government announced it would seek to persuade the Senate to slash the 2020 large-scale renewable energy target (LRET) from 41,000 to 26,000 GWh. Renewables will be allowed to meet no more than 50% of new energy demand (if there is any new demand). This, the main recommendation of the Warburton review, will essentially kill Australia’s wind and large-scale solar industries. The day after the announcement Keppel Prince, Australia’s largest manufacturer of wind towers, closed most of its wind tower manufacturing operations.

Even before the announcement, large-scale renewable energy investment in Australia had already ground to a halt, because of a surplus of RET certificates and the political uncertainty fostered by the fossil fuel lobby and government. For these reasons, and because of the urgent need to get to 100% renewables to mitigate global warming, the target should have been increased, not decreased.

On the bright side, the government says it will continue to support “household solar”, which at face value appears to mean the small-scale renewable energy scheme (SRES) will be left intact. Ominously, though, the government has refused to clarify that there will be absolutely no changes to SRES, so it too could yet be quietly weakened or sabotaged.

It’s pretty obvious solar would never have been (apparently) saved if not for the “Save Solar” campaign, which seems to have…..

Read the rest here.


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Abbott will be booed at his own funeral.

Yet another market for Australian coal looks shaky but still our backward government fails to grasp the economic and climate consequences. The opportunity for this country to be a world leader in renewable energy science and innovation is fast slipping and Abbott is hellbent on clinging on to 20th century technology for the sake of his political donors. Meanwhile he is selling out the economic prosperity of future generations, let alone the health of the planet for those future generations. “Coal is good for humanity” he claims. He must have a special dictionary that defines “humanity” as “lobbyist and donor paid political power at the expense of thought and reason.”

Future historians will not be kind to Abbott. He will go down in history as the Prime Minister who missed the chance to be a great leader. The Prime Minister whose wicked and regressive ideology turned a once great and prosperous nation of innovators into an international laughing stock. The Prime Minister whose legacy will want to be forgotten but can’t as every heatwave, drought, flood, bushfire and and super-cyclone brings it back into sharp focus. The Prime Minister who will be booed at his own funeral.

Solar cheaper in India than imported Australian coal.

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Pave paradise, put up a parking lot

from Kaye Lee at The AIM Network

When Julia Gillard left office we had a carbon price in place, a burgeoning renewable energy industry, and the respect of the world as leaders in taking action on climate change. The system had not been perfected but it was underway and open to refinement with expert bodies set up to advise us on the best way forward.

Now we are advised on climate change by Maurice Newman and Dick Warburton. Billions of investment dollars have been lost due to the abandonment of the Renewable Energy Target.  Instead, we are pinning our economic future on coal whilst killing our natural wonders and tourism industry.  Instead of collecting $10 billion from polluters, encouraging them to move to clean practices, we will give them $3 billion to do their upgrades while we pay for the research – a $13 billion turnaround in revenue.

When Julia Gillard left office, we had a mIning tax that paid us a small but growing dividend for the huge profits being made by selling our resources. Once again, it was not ideal but at least it was in place and the original concessions like accelerated depreciation were running out.

Now we have no mining tax which, even according to Hockey’s pessimistic outlook, will cost the budget about $5.5 billion in foregone revenue.

When Julia Gillard left office, we had signed agreements with most states and territories for hospital and school funding. To get the federal funding, the states had agreed to matching proportional funding, locking both parties in, and to accountability reviews where standards had to be achieved to maintain funding support.

Now we have reneged on those agreements, cut $80 billion in funding from health and education, released states from their obligation to direct set amounts into these areas and from accountability goals, and seem on the road to privatising both sectors and increasing the GST.

When Julia Gillard left office, the rollout of a world class National Broadband network was underway where over 90% of us would have fibre to the premises. There were teething problems as there would be with any such undertaking, but the contracts were signed, the plan was made, and premises were being connected at an increasing rate.

Now the rollout has slowed down while Malcolm Turnbull conducts three reviews into why Labor was bad. In the meantime we have no contract with Telstra, who are in a monopoly situation, who can hold out for the best deal for their shareholders (note the dividends this year were higher?).  We will now get some mix of technology sometime, maybe, but certainly not soon and definitely more expensive in the long run.

When Julia Gillard left office, the orders had been given to bring home our troops from Afghanistan.

Now we are sending them back to Iraq and farewelling them with a wage cut.

[And before anyone mentions the one year freezing of politicians’ wages, could I point out that in the 16 months leading to July last year, they received three payrises, delivering a salary boost of $54,220 or more than $1000 a week since March the previous year.]

When Julia Gillard was in office, she was unable to get her media reform laws passed that would have protected against ownership monopoly, and against factually incorrect reporting. Who could forget the screams of censorship and the Murdoch photoshopping.

Now we have the possibility that the Attorney-General can decide to prosecute and incarcerate a journalist for ten years for telling the truth about what our government bodies are doing.

When Julia Gillard left office, pensions were indexed to rise with Average Male Weekly Earnings which kept their standard of living relative to the community.

Now pensions will be indexed to the Consumer Price Index. The proposal to change the indexation, due to commence in 2017, would cut the value of the Age Pension, Disability Support Pension, Veterans’ pension and Carer Payment by an estimated $80 a week within ten years. Despite the anger the changes sparked, they raised a modest $449 million over five years.

When Julia Gillard left office, we had a universal health care system that was the envy of the world.

Now we will have to pay every time we see the doctor or have a test and our Pharmaceutical Benefits System will be at the mercy of free trade agreements.

When Julia Gillard left office, we finally had universal agreement for a National Disability Insurance Scheme funded by an increase to the Medicare levy, a move widely accepted by the population, even if the Opposition didn’t bother to turn up for the introduction of the legislation of this groundbreaking reform in Parliament.

Now we find Mitch Fifield tasked with the job of holding it up for as long as he can while he conducts….you guessed it… more reviews.

The third quarterly report on the NDIS, released in May, makes clear that there is no case for any cut, cap or delay to the NDIS but Tony wants a surplus so I guess he will collect our increased levy and sit on it while he pays consultant mates to recommend winding it back or leaving it to Labor to pay for.

In response to the capability review, the Agency has developed an action plan and will provide further advice as to whether the current implementation timetable is consistent with a successful full scheme rollout.  Mitch Fifield, March 2014

Senator Fifield’s comment echoes previous statements from senior Coalition figures that indicate the national start date of 2018-19 could be pushed back.

The NDIS has an inbuilt review, a cost review at this point in time is both curious and concerning. Costs are right on track, package numbers are consistent and hopes are high. We need to move forward, not tread water while we undertake yet another review. Ara Creswell , CARERS AUSTRALIA, 1 May 2014

…we expect the State and Territory Premiers and Treasurers to stand by people with disability and their families and stand firm against any attempts to change the agreements made. Kevin Stone, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL COUNCIL ON INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY, 1 May 2014]

What will be next?

“Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.”

Principiis obsta and Finem respice—‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.’

-Martin Niemoller


Original article here

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special person alert!

Well……. every now and then we come across special people. While commenting at another blog, I came across a special person.

Now, as my regular readers know, I’m not in the business of providing a forum for climate change deniers, conspiracy theorists etc. It becomes tiresome having to correct them and demonstrate where and how they are wrong. Science is not on their side leaving them with feelpinions and feelpinions have no place in science unless they are tested and backed up scientifically.

Today however, I am going to make an exception. I am going to provide a link to a blog that is….. well….. a whole special little world of feelpinions, mathturbation, pseudoscience, conspiracy ideation and the list goes on. What makes this special little blog so special is that everything is written by one person….one special person…. one special person with a LOT of time on his hands. I am posting the link to his blog because it is an excellent example of everything that science isn’t and because the author thinks I am afraid of his brilliance.

So, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I give you the next Galileo. Bask in his brilliance here.



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How the electricity industry is trying to block solar part 2

Following on from RenewEconomy’s earlier post. Here is the rest of how the fossil fuel generators try to discourage the uptake of solar.

How the electricity industry is trying to block solar part 2.

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NSW flags wind farm planning changes as it seeks to move turbines

I really am at a loss trying to understand idiots like Pru Goward, Joe Hockey and Alan Jones when they try and justify their beliefs that wind turbines cause illness. I’m not going to rehash how stupid this actually is. If you like you can read about it here, here, here and here. Personally, I find the argument that wind turbines are ugly or “utterly offensive” even more ridiculous.


Anyway, read all about the latest nutjobbery from conservative NSW politicians here.

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