The title says it all.

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Roger Ehrenberg dissects Ben Stein’s shaky grasp of markets in “How to Lie With Statistics” a/k/a Ben Stein’s Modus Operandi. So Stein’s an Evil Darwinist Conspiracy theorist and an Evil Traders Conspiracy theorist. I wonder if he’s an HIV denialist or a global warming “skeptic” to complete a woo trifecta.

38 Comments

And PZ points to another columnist eviscerating Stein. Maybe he should have stuck to acting.

or writing speeches for criminal presidents.

Is it really fair to call it acting when all he does is read a script in his boring monotone?

Bueller? Bueller?

I haven’t even read the post in full yet, but I want to say this already -

It would astound me if Stein is NOT a climate change denialist. He almost certainly is. I would bet multiple bottles of single malt Scotch on that. (And I don’t work at a Baptist university, so I can drink Scotch with a clear conscience.)

I would put better than even odds that he is an HIV denialist as well.

He’s a standard issue kool-aid drinking American right wing authoritarian who claims, not necessarily convincingly, to be religious.

It makes sense that science denial follows from authoritarian political positions, as I’ve noted so often. Science by its nature questions authority and dogma (in the spheres to which scientific inquiry applies)

Of course, the converse doesn’t work as well - great scientists have sometimes supported authoritarian regimes.

I first heard of Stein a year ago by reading a financial column of his. It was so stupid that I made a special note of his name so as to never waste 2 minutes again.

Not sure what is going on here except that his traders pushing the market around theory is laughable in the present environment. Oil is $91/barrel, gas is $3.25/gallon, the dollar is collapsing, inflation picking up, and the subprime mess is taking the housing industry and banks and financial sector down hard. We are looking at a probable recession and it may be a severe one. Or not. People in front of a moving train have a habit of running first and worrying about its mass and speed later.

My guess, having very diligently not followed Ben Stein’s financial babbling is that he failed to anticipate the economic problems and stock market directions. That anyone who followed his advice to “don’t worry, be happy” is taking big losses right now. Of course, for weaker minds, gains are always due to their brilliance and maybe even god’s and Jesus’s plan. Losses are due to demons and “them”, demons, traders, and Wall Street Plutocrats etc..

Stein is just a no talent bottom feeder, doing anything for a few bucks. I doubt he believes ID or even cares. A troll but a hustling, energetic one. Nothing wrong with supporting oneself, we all have to eat. But taking a bottom feeding troll seriously can get one in big trouble.

This guy is simply nuts. There is this simple thing called Price Earning Ratio, known to everyone from the newbie stock traders to the wise old trade-nothing-but-index-ETF Bogelheads. For the S&P 500 index it is currently 15, last year it was slightly under 20.

For every penny of profit made, the stock price was 20 cents, (or now it is 15 cents). It means straight away, for a 100 Billion dollar loss, the stock price should fall by 2 trillion dollars at P/E=20 from last years prices! With P/E dropping from 20 to 15, and the profits falling by about 100 B$, the financial sector alone could explain the 2.5 T$ loss of valuation. In fact some analysts think the second level effects of subprime debacle (erosion in home values, reduction in consumer spending, etc) have not yet been fully priced into the market yet.

But to be fair, there are traders who plant stories and false leads in the media for the consumption of chumps. They are Ben Stein’s cronies. There are journalists who would willingly purvey these stories. They are people like Ben Stein. While the chumps do a double take “may be there is something to it. Things are not bad after all” for a while before reality hits them hard. By that time Ben’s cronies would have unloaded all they want to unload and leave the chumps holding the bag.

This is my favourite bit:

As I see it, this is what traders do all day long — and especially what they’ve been doing since the subprime mess burst upon the scene. They have seized upon a fairly bad situation: a stunning number of defaults and foreclosures in the subprime arena, although just a small part of the total financial picture of the United States. They have then tried — with the collaboration of their advance guards in the press — to make it seem like a total catastrophe so they could make money on their short sales. They sense an opportunity to trick other traders and poor retail slobs like you and me, and they generate data and rumor to support their positions, and to make money.

So much money that their banks recorded multi-billion dollar losses for the quarters “since the subprime mess burst upon the scene”. Those cunning traders.

It would astound me if Stein is NOT a climate change denialist.

Well, I don’t know if he’s a strict denialist, but he’s definitely aiming to be the super-concern-troll on that issue as much as he is regarding evolution:

Cybercast News Service: This reminds me of the global warming debate. The Union of Concerned Scientists, exactly one year ago, put out a report on Exxon Mobil for their position on global warming, and in their report they say too often journalists’ inclination to provide political balance leads to inaccurate reporting - and that members of the media should not quote ExxonMobil officials or anybody who questions the scientific consensus.

Ben Stein: Yes, that is precisely the analogy. Very well done. I totally agree. There are still plenty of scientists who question fossil fuels’ role in global warming, but you’re not allowed to question that anymore.

www.cnsnews.com/ViewNation.asp?Page=/Nation/archive/200801/NAT20080117a.html

In truth, he’s not even a definite evolution denialist, he just thinks it completely wrong for scientists to do anything but question settled issues, and to consider over and over again failed ideas like “design in biology” (or he really is dumb enough not to recognize how thoroughly ID has been dealt with). It’s like he has some phobia about any question being settled and a theory becoming a useful guide to research (another moron who functionally opposes the science that provides him with the tools to deny science).

Anyway, he really does claim conspiracies behind all of his pet crackpot ideas, from ID, to global warming, to economics. Wait for the movies about how the media, the courts, the education, and the relevant experts not only comprise a conspiracy to shut down questioning of “Darwinism,” but also how they conspire to prevent consideration of voodoo economics (no, not Reaganomics, at least not Reaganomics alone) and the new ice age which no doubt is practically upon us.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/3yyvfg

There are still plenty of scientists who question fossil fuels’ role in global warming, but you’re not allowed to question that anymore.

I thought I’d take the time to point and laugh at that contradictory statement, which is about as sane as putting out a movie denying that, in its bases, evolution is settled science, and also claiming that one is not permitted to deny that, in its bases, evolution is settled science (sure, moonbats sans evidence are not welcomed by other scientists with open arms, but of course they should not be, partly in order to protect the public from scams like ID).

By the way, there was an article in a recent Nature, I believe it was, telling of some work being done which potentially puts anthropogenic warming in some doubt (even that work finds the last 15 years or so to be anomalous, however). To be sure, anthropogenic warming is not about to be overthrown by just that work (the preponderance of evidence is against the denialists), but good science tends to at least be published, while scandalous pseudoscience like ID does not (other than in scandalous ways, like in the Sternberg affair).

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/3yyvfg

harold Wrote:

He’s a standard issue kool-aid drinking American right wing authoritarian who claims, not necessarily convincingly, to be religious.

I just skimmed the article, but he sounds like the paranoid anti-capitalist left-winger that I was 20 years ago:

“In short, Mr. Stein’s thesis is that traders push the market around, plant stories with the press, get the hype machine going, and make a ton of money on the backs of dumb retail investors like you and me.”

Funny that you call him “right wing authoritarian,” as that’s what I have been calling anti-evolution activists for nearly a decade. As I became more conservative, that word no longer fit those who are impossibly liberal with what they think qualifies as science.

Is it true what they say? That Ann Coulter is Ben Stein’s love child with Phyllis Schlafly????

Ok, I’m in the dark.

I read Stein’s piece Can Their Wish Be the Market’s Command. Nothing about Evolution here. And I would argue that there were no / little statistics.

I read Ehoenberg’s article How to Lie With Statistics aka Ben Stein’s MO. Nothing about Evolution here. Also, no statistics.

“So Stein’s an Evil Darwinist Conspiracy theorist and an Evil Traders Conspiracy theorist. I wonder if he’s an HIV denialist or a global warming “skeptic” to complete a woo trifecta.” - R. Hoppe

Why is Hoppe’s article posted?

Ehoenberg criticizes Stein about his “statistics”, but actually was less about his Statistics, and more a criticism of his general attitude toward business ethics. I’m not sure that we should “dis” Stein’s impression.

Here, Hoppe compounded things with statements about Stein being an Evil Darwinist Conspiracy theorist which may be true but not mentioned in the two articles.

The Evil Traders Conspiracy theorist moniker was then added, presumably because R. Ehoenberg disagreed with B. Stein’s image of modern business ethics - sans statistics. Ok, then why not just add a couple more things not related to what Panda’s Thumb is all about and question Stein’s beliefs about HIV and Global Warming, and Poof… with a very few key strokes, and obviously No thought, R. Hoppe has wasted everybody’s time.

I feel like I came to the hanging late and just saw the dead body.

It’s not about an “attitude toward business ethics”. It’s about an absurd conspiracy theory which is completely contradicted by the facts - ie the institutions who are supposed to have made lots of money by shorting the market at the expense of retail investors have, in fact, lost billions upon billions of dollars. The reason for posting it is because Panda’s Thumb readers are interested in Stein, and especially his wacky conspiracy theories, as he has made a wacky conspiracy theory film about intelligent design.

All this may be true, but “Win Ben Stein’s Money” was still a fun game show.

Mr. Stein’s history of being Pro-Intelligent Design aside.

My comments criticized the absurdity of one person making a mountain out of mole-hill, out of another person making a mountain out of a mole-hill, about somebody’s article that is probably not too far from the mark.

There is no conspiracy theory about the many scandals concerning stock market manipulations. The SEC was created to prevent problem and is working hard to prevent problems today, but as recent history shows, problems still occur. And has, in fact, involved billions of dollars.

If Mr. Hoppe desires to skewer somebody else in the future, I would hope he would do it in a less circuitous manner, address an issue, and give some kind of validation to his view.

I enjoy Panda’s Thumb. It addresses an issue that I care about, and I don’t want the articles turned into inane battles like what I see in response to Trolls.

Befuddled Theorist writes

If Mr. Hoppe desires to skewer somebody else in the future, I would hope he would do it in a less circuitous manner, address an issue, and give some kind of validation to his view.

I will apologize for the brevity of the post – I had a much longer one written offline when I lost power due to the cold front that went through Ohio last night and the draft was whacked. I was too tired to reconstruct it.

My point is simple: In his NYTimes column Stein displays his notable lack of knowledge of more than just evolution as exemplified by public comments he’s made concerning “Expelled.” Even in fields in which he claims expertise – economics in the present instance – he subscribes to a daft conspiracy theory. In a national newspaper he blathers on about what the evil traders do, providing no evidence beyond marginally relevant anecdotes.

Befuddled wrote further

There is no conspiracy theory about the many scandals concerning stock market manipulations. The SEC was created to prevent problem and is working hard to prevent problems today, but as recent history shows, problems still occur. And has, in fact, involved billions of dollars.

And that’s a non sequitur. Stein’s claim is that recent market behavior (across the market system from equities to fixed income to currencies), attributed by most knowledgeable people to spreading uncertainty generated by the meltdown in subprime lending, is really due to concerted actions by traders manipulating the markets. However, no evidence supports that claim, and a good deal contradicts it. For example, firms that house some of the sharpest traders (and some of the best trading and risk estimation algorithms) are taking multi-billion dollar writedowns. If their traders were manipulating the markets they’re doing a singularly poor job of capitalizing on the manipulations. UBS, for example, has written down $18 billion recently. The trading firms that have made money (and there are a few) did so not by manipulating the market but by recognizing the bubble produced by the subprime mortgage abuses of the last couple of years.

Further, the sheer size of those markets makes it implausible that a coterie of traders could generate the kind of behavior we’ve seen. Trading in the financial derivatives markets is a negative sum game, and both sides of the trades have smart people and fast computers trading on a time grain of milliseconds. Stein’s conjecture that the relevant markets are vulnerable to manipulation on the scale required is flatly ludicrous.

To be blunt, a billion dollars is a drop in the bucket in those markets – they trade trillions of dollars a week. To give but one example, the notional value of open contracts on Eurodollar futures on the Chicago Merc alone is $1.213, and the volume traded yesterday represented a notional $2.612 worth. A few billion pushing one way or the other is miniscule in the markets at issue. Stein’s “analysis” is so wide of the mark as to be in another county.

Finally, that Befuddled Theorist mentions the SEC in this context is indicative of the appropriateness of the first word in his nom de net. The SEC is irrelevant to the derivatives markets where the current writedowns are occurring.

The point was, Ben Stein is a polykook polymoron. It is not unusual for someone who believes an impossible thing before breakfast to believe 10 impossible things before breakfast.

If you disagree fine. It is relevant because Stein is shilling himself out to the IDers. He is an actor, just his job but we are allowed to laugh at bizarre comedians who will do just about anything for money.

Befuddled Theorist, I think most of the problems you refer to are more because of salesmen selling instruments that the customers don’t understand at inflated prices. The buyers of the sub-prime mortgage bonds is the latest scandal in this area. Read Liars Poker and FIASCO.

Traders if they are large enough can temporarily move markets but other traders start getting on the other side of the trade if they see the market moving out of whack. Blaming the short-sellers has a long tradition amongst the wingnuts. After the 1939 stock market crash rules were put in place to limit short selling of stocks, even though short sellers add liquidity to a falling market as they are the only buyers. The wing nuts cannot let it be seen that the current problems are due to short sighted governments and corporate America.

Traders have moved on the short side because it is obvious that the market is tanking and is going to continue to tank for a while yet.

So yes Virginia his finance wisdom is at the same level as his science wisdom.

Losses are due to demons and “them”, demons, traders, and Wall Street Plutocrats etc..

Nah. It’s all due to some bull’s ass in Mumbai. Sounds as likely as Stein’s claim, and the jokes just write themselves.…

harold said:

It would astound me if Stein is NOT a climate change denialist. He almost certainly is. I would bet multiple bottles of single malt Scotch on that. (And I don’t work at a Baptist university, so I can drink Scotch with a clear conscience.)

What exactly is a “climate change denialist”? Climate is always changing. So to say that it doesn’t is just plain silly. Are you saying that the current changes are absolutley, positively, undeniably attributed to the burning of fossil fuels? If so, I’d say your belittling tone is an impediment to good science. During the 1970’s, many of the “leading climatologists” were saying that a mini ice age was beginning. What did they attribute it to? Burning of fossil fuels.

I have not seen enough unbiased data (a lame film by the inventor of the internet doesn’t count) to come up with a convincing argument for either stance. And yet, anyone who questions the popular stance will be viciously attacked. I’ve seen calls for laws to be enacted to make it a crime against humanity to even question it.

He’s a standard issue kool-aid drinking American right wing authoritarian who claims, not necessarily convincingly, to be religious.

It makes sense that science denial follows from authoritarian political positions, as I’ve noted so often. Science by its nature questions authority and dogma (in the spheres to which scientific inquiry applies)

Of course, the converse doesn’t work as well - great scientists have sometimes supported authoritarian regimes

Most college campuses have left wing authoritarian political positions. I do not think they are hostile to science, unless of course, science is questioning global warming.

Science denial is practiced by any authoritarian regime who’s ox is being Gore’d (pun intended). Ideally science would exist outside of political and religious ideologies, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

Scientists, great and otherwise, are human, and are therefore subject to desires of self advancement and greed, just like the rest of us.

MememicBottleneck Wrote:

I have not seen enough unbiased data…

What sort of data, from what sources, can you envision that might convince you?

MememicBottleneck wrote

I have not seen enough unbiased data (a lame film by the inventor of the internet doesn’t count) to come up with a convincing argument for either stance.

What does “unbiased data” mean? Data are data. Interpretations of data may be biased, and to be sure scientists are human and have biases, though one makes efforts to dilute the effects of those biases. Peer review and the desirability of intersubjective replicability are directed at reducing the effects of idiosyncratic biases on interpretations of data. But what are “biased data”?

Apropos of the climate change derailment, Nobel Intent has a relevant post up.

And it looks like more folks think Stein is full of it. And I’m not the only one who thinks old Ben is hawking conspiracy theories.

Ben is shrewd enough to know that if you want to sell columns and books, there’s nothing better than conspiracy theories.

So, no, Ben Stein is not an idiot. Unless he actually believes that the global market declines have been caused by a few self-interested windbags–in which case he’s delusional.

MememicBottleneck:

I have not seen enough unbiased data … to come up with a convincing argument for either stance.

Go over to Real Climate and start with the Start Here link at the top of the page. If that is not enough, go down to the first link in the Science Links section of the sidebar, the Discovery of Global Warming web site.

Need more? A bit further down the side bar is the link to the IPCC AR4 reports.

After that, you will know enough to ask reasonable questions in the comments sections, where there are many knowledgeable amateurs you are ready to respond and provide additional reading resources.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m far from being any kind of authority in climatology. Most of what I get from this area comes from the news, as it isn’t a topic that holds much interest for me. However, I tend to be very skeptical of claims when personal interests are involved.

To me, Al Gore is possibly the worst spokesperson for global warming. He has a hugh carbon footprint, and justifies it by buying “carbon credits”. I’ve read he buys these from an LLC that he is the majority owner. Furthermore, you must be very wealthy to be allowed to purchase shares … errr credits, from this LLC.

I can’t say that I have a “data threshold” or a “trusty source”, but over the last several years I’ve seen a number of articles like the one below that generally don’t get a response from the “man made” warming crowd.

http://www.hno.harvard.edu/gazette/[…]ingSuni.html

I’ve also not seen any data that shows that this is not a normal climate cycle. During the dust bowl in the 30’s, the average temp was higher than it is now. There have been other warmer and cooler cycles during human history.

In short, (I know, too late) I’d like to see studies that show why other sources of warming are not the problem, and that it is only carbon that is.

If the earth continues to warm, and it becomes a long term problem, it doesn’t make sense to destroy the world’s economies on a guess, or because it fits well with someones ideology. Humanity is better served by finding the actual root cause and trying to develop a workable solution.

What does “unbiased data” mean? Data are data. Interpretations of data may be biased, and to be sure scientists are human and have biases, though one makes efforts to dilute the effects of those biases. Peer review and the desirability of intersubjective replicability are directed at reducing the effects of idiosyncratic biases on interpretations of data. But what are “biased data“?

I stand corrected. I do not consider myself qualified to interpret the data, so what I really meant was an unbiased interpretation of the data.

MememicBottleneck said: I’ve seen a number of articles like the one below …

So you prefer a 10 year old article in a college newspaper quoting a couple of astronomers who thought the sun brightening in its regular cycles might play a part in warming rather than hundreds of papers from climate specialists, who actually study the subject, that disagree. If you really wondered what a “climate change denialist” is, just look in a mirror.

Most college campuses have left wing authoritarian political positions.

No doubt you have another old college newspaper article that claims this. Who needs actual facts when you can make unfounded assertions.

MememicBottleneck wrote

I’ve also not seen any data that shows that this is not a normal climate cycle. During the dust bowl in the 30’s, the average temp was higher than it is now.

That is false. According to NOAA, 2006 had the highest recorded average annual temperature for the contiguous 48 states – see here for a handy graph. While final figures for last year will be published sometime this spring, 2007 was well on its way to being in the top 10 warmest years. The 10 warmest (globally) years on record have occurred since 1997, and 7 of the 8 warmest years globally have occurred since 2001 (including 2007). Those numbers took me about 3 minutes to find on trustworthy (= “unbiased”) sites, including NOAA’s site.

Anthropogenic climate change, including a sharp increase in the average annual temperature and in the rate of annual increase, is a 200-year trend, and cherry picking one or two apparent outliers and then misrepresenting their magnitude does not constitute a refutation. It only illustrates another way to lie with numbers. The pity is that the attempt is so easily shown to be false.

Most college campuses have left wing authoritarian political positions.

Which has…what to do with climatology?

This might be relevant in the humanities and political science departments (economics departments are quite market based these days), but what does this have to do with science?

That relies on a systematic biasing of peer reviewed data (PHYSICAL data) in the sciences that would be exactly equivalent to the bias creationists accuse biologists of having. In other words, you are arguing just like a creationist.

RBH-

Temper, Temper Mr. Hoppe.

“Finally, that Befuddled Theorist mentions the SEC in this context is indicative of the appropriateness of the first word in his nom de net. The SEC is irrelevant to the derivatives markets where the current writedowns are occurring.”

First - the SEC is relevant concerning market manipulations. Stein’s article wasn’t directed to any particular part of the derivative market.

Second - Please use proper etiquette. I criticized your article only as unnecessary and inappropriate for Pandas Thumb. I still believe that. Lets keep articles relevant, informative, clear, concise, and not merely inflammatory. If you had a good article written, I would have waited for the re-write to read it, and probably enjoyed it.

Erm, do you even know what falls within the purview of the SEC and what doesn’t? None of the trading of the various instruments related to the current subprime debacle is regulated by the SEC. Virtually all of it is OTC. Some hedging and spec trading occurs on exchanges regulated by bodies other than the SEC, for example the CFTC for U.S. exchange-traded futures and options. The movements of the stock markets (regulated by the SEC in the U.S.) are secondary to the much larger volumes moving in the various derivatives markets, some regulated, some not. I trade in those markets for a hedge fund, and the SEC is irrelevant to my derivatives trading.

Based on Stein’s column, I doubt that he knows the first thing about trading in those markets, which ignorance is on a par with his knowledge of evolution. He’s a purveyor of nonsense in both domains.

RBH

MememicBottleneck

Are you saying that the current changes are absolutley, positively, undeniably attributed to the burning of fossil fuels? If so, I’d say your belittling tone is an impediment to good science. During the 1970’s, many of the “leading climatologists” were saying that a mini ice age was beginning.

False. There were a couple of scientists who raised the possibility, which led to an article in Time magazine that attracted a lot of popular attention. False statements, such as the one you’ve made, deserve belittling responses and pointing out that the statement is false is in no way “an impediment to good science”.

If you say “leading geographers thought the earth was flat when Columbus proposed his voyage” you’re likely to get a belittling response, too, and in now way would this be an “impediment to good history”.

It was never accepted by mainstream science. Those proposing the possibility themselves stressed the primitive and preliminary nature of their climate models. Industrial pollutants that form aerosols *do* contribute to cooling (and to some degree counterbalance CO2-induced warming). The Milankovic cycles *have* driven the ice-age/warmer cycles experienced by earth on multi-ten-thousand year cycles.

So:

1. This fell into the category of speculation, not settled science, and was never put forward as being anything different by the scientific community, not even the researchers doing the speculation. You only know about it for two reasons: a) an article in Time and 2) lying denialists who purposely distort the record in order to slander mainstream science. Sound familiar? A bit like the DI?

2. Many of the factors leading to that speculation were and are real, and play a role. One could argue that they’re right, that we *are* entering a new ice age, if one wants to talk in a timeframe of tens of thousands of years. But neither I nor my sisters children or eventual grandchildren will be around then, so pardon us for focusing on a more relevant timeframe? And if aerosol pollutants had been cut back drastically in Europe and the United States in the 1970s, CO2-induced warming would’ve been masked for a longer time. So that speculation would not have seemed so lame now as it does. They had no idea that industrial pollutants would be cut back so drastically in the first world when they published their speculation.

What did they attribute it to? Burning of fossil fuels.

No, they didn’t. They understood that burning fossil fuels and increasing CO2 in the atmosphere would have a counterbalancing warming effect (as this has been known for over 100 years). Get basics right if you expect any respect whatsoever among the fairly clever group of people who post here.

I’ve also not seen any data that shows that this is not a normal climate cycle. During the dust bowl in the 30’s, the average temp was higher than it is now.

As RBH pointed out above, this is incorrect. If we look at the temperature record for the lower 48 United States ONLY, 1934 and 1998 are in a statistical TIE for the honor of “warmest year on record”. Denialists have taken this tie for ONE YEAR and turned it into the lie that “average temps in the 1930s were higher than today”.

This is a lie for two reasons:

1. Even for the lower 48 United States, the average temperature of the last decade has been higher than the average temperature during the 1930s.

2. The United States is not the world. Global maps provided upon request. 2005 is the warmest year by global average, 1998 the second. The 1930s warming was a REGIONAL, not global, phenomena. Once again, The United States is not the world. If you want to discuss global warming, please stick to the subject. Thank you.

I stand corrected. I do not consider myself qualified to interpret the data, so what I really meant was an unbiased interpretation of the data.

The best place to get an unbiased interpretation of data is from the scientists doing the work. Not industry-funded ex-tobacco-denialists DDT-is-harmless industry shills like junkscience.com, or Fred Singer, etc. After all, you don’t go to Answers in Genesis to learn about biology, do you? (crosses fingers)

As mentioned above, the best site to get the mainstream science view is Real Climate (realclimate.org).

To me, Al Gore is possibly the worst spokesperson for global warming.

Then ignore Al Gore. Science isn’t about Al Gore. If you don’t trust him, turn to the scientists who do the work.

I can’t say that I have a “data threshold” or a “trusty source”, but over the last several years I’ve seen a number of articles like the one below that generally don’t get a response from the “man made” warming crowd.

Then you’re just not paying attention. The fact that you don’t SEE a response doesn’t mean that scientists ignore such claims.

It may surprise you to learn that many climate scientists are themselves solar physicists, and that indeed they do comment on such pieces (or at least on the published science papers that are the basis for popular magazine articles).

It may also surprise you to learn that we’ve been measuring solar output a bazillion ways from Sunday for decades now, from the earth, from satellites…and that there are NO measured increases in solar output of ANY kind that can account for measured warming over the last 30 years.

NADA. NONE.

So those who propose that the sun is the cause are faced with a serious question - “OK, then, why aren’t we measuring it? What new thing in physics have you discovered that no one else knows about nor measures”. Likewise with cosmic rays. Some have proposed cosmic rays (atmospheric death rays? :) as being the cause. Problem is, we measure them. “oh, must be cosmic rays at energy levels we’re not measuring”.

Now, that’s science for you! Proposing a mechanism that is unknown and currently unmeasurable as a counter to the phsyics of CO2 absorbtion of infrared radiation that has been known for over 100 years? The lab measurements establishing CO2 as a greenhouse gas go back that far in time, you know?

Sorry for my harsh tone, but you’re approaching the climate warming issue *exactly* as evolutionary biology is approached by creationists.

Further, the sheer size of those markets makes it implausible that a coterie of traders could generate the kind of behavior we’ve seen.

I worked for one of the really big trading firms last year, and there was talk of seeing if we could singlehandedly encourage an upswing by taking a big enough position at the right moment, getting the other big players to collectively agree this was the moment to get aggressive again. The conclusion was not a chance whatsoever. The other big players would be as aware as ever that the Bush recession is looming, the denialists have been exposed, and then make a terrific bundle off our folly.

In other words, Ben Stein is an idiot.

RBH

Stein’s story was about a Bear run on I.B.M. stock, not derivatives, in the wake of the subprime mess. The SEC, as far as I know does oversee the securities market. Stein seem to be pushing things a little when he said that the press was helping traders to push runs on stocks, but I chose not to visualize a Conspiracy.

Stein’s comments: “They (traders) don’t act on the basis of what seems to them the real economic situation, but on what’s in it for them…” “As I see it, this is what traders do all day long (Bear runs) — and especially what they’ve been doing since the subprime mess burst upon the scene.…” “MORE than that, they trade to support the way they want the market to go. If they are huge traders like some of the major hedge funds, they can sell massively and move the market downward, then suck in other traders who go short, and create a vacuum of fear that sucks down whatever they are selling…” “Note what is happening here: They are not figuring out which way the market will go. They are making the market go the direction they want.”

Apparently I didn’t read the article the same way you did. I don’t think Stein was saying that traders are influencing the subprime problem, just the securities market in the wake of the subprime problem.

MememicBottleneck:

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m far from being any kind of authority in climatology.

I can’t say that I have a “data threshold” or a “trusty source”, but over the last several years I’ve seen a number of articles like the one below that generally don’t get a response from the “man made” warming crowd.

http://www.hno.harvard.edu/gazette/[…]ingSuni.html

I’ve also not seen any data that shows that this is not a normal climate cycle.

In short, (I know, too late) I’d like to see studies that show why other sources of warming are not the problem, and that it is only carbon that is.

Humanity is better served by finding the actual root cause and trying to develop a workable solution.

Since you are not an authority, why do you continue to blather on about what you clearly know nothing about?

Real Climate has threads explaining why the sun is not the cause.

If you go to Real Climate you could actually find the data.

I even gave you, in my prior post, the links on Real Climate which will help you to understand why carbon is the major (not the only) cause.

The root cause is known: burning fossil carbon. See Real Climate to relieve your ignorance.

The thread running through Ben Stein’s work is his own gullibility.

He listens to his parents talk about monetary policy at dinner, and becomes convinced that he’s a whiz at economics.

His brother-in-law Melvin casually mentions the term “legal realism”, and Stine suddenly realizes that law is “all show business and personal bias”.

An egotistical trader boasts that the market trembles at the trader’s slightest breath, and Stine buys it lock, stock, and barrel.

An scientist who spends too much time on his ID hobby rather than his science job tries to blame his poor job evaluations on the bias of others rather than on his own poor performance, and Stine swallows this story too.

Befuddled claimed

Stein’s story was about a Bear run on I.B.M. stock, not derivatives, in the wake of the subprime mess. The SEC, as far as I know does oversee the securities market. Stein seem to be pushing things a little when he said that the press was helping traders to push runs on stocks, but I chose not to visualize a Conspiracy.

No, Stein used an anecdote (from a dead man) as support for a much broader claim:

Just as a tiny example, years ago a close friend, now deceased, was a trader in London for a big financial house. As he told it, one day I.B.M. came out with stellar numbers. The boss of the trading floor said, “O.K., the guy who’s getting the prize is the one who can make us money selling I.B.M. short.”

The claim the Stein thinks that anecdote supports is that the recent gyrations of world stock markets is due to the same (alleged) manipulations:

To my humble eyes, this is what we have seen recently on world markets. Note that the losses in United States markets alone are on the order of about $2.5 trillion in recent weeks. How can a loss of roughly $100 billion on subprime — with some recoveries sure to come as property is seized and sold — translate into a stock-market loss 25 times that size? The answer is trader realism.

“Trader realism” is Stein’s name for the kind of manipulation alleged in his IBM “tiny example.” So Stein is making a much broader claim than a bear run on an individual equity, and Stein offers no evidence for that broad claim. That broader claim falls prey to the implausibility argument regarding the size of markets and causal efficacy. It requires believing that coordinated actions by a large number of traders across hundreds of securities is occurring. That’s a conspiracy theory, pure and simple, and wholly ignores the fact that those traders are direct competitors in a negative-sum game. That fact alone eviscerates any coordinated action conjecture.

Except that it bears on Stein’s willingness to posit implausible scenarios involving cooperation among a large group of people who are in vicious competition with one another, this thread has wandered far from the original point, so I’m going to close comments now.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on January 29, 2008 11:34 PM.

Michael Shermer on The Market As An Evolutionary Process was the previous entry in this blog.

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