Friday, August 18, 2017

cognitive dissonance

Cognitive dissonance
  1. the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioural decisions and attitude change.


LAWRENCE KRAUSS: You’re more likely to be killed by a refrigerator, in the United States, falling on you. — ABC Q&A, 22 May, 2017

MEHDI HASAN: You are also much more likely, as an Australian in Australia, to be killed falling out of bed in the morning than by a terrorist during the day.— ABC ONLINE OPINION 10/7/2017 Australia, your misplaced fear is giving terrorists exactly what they want

JAMES GLENDAY: But the regular attacks in Europe do have a cumulative impact. There's no longer any surprise when they occur.  — ABC NEWS "ANALYSIS" 18/8/2017 Barcelona: Terrorist attacks no longer a surprise in Europe

ABC: where 2 plus 2 = 5 and white vans drive themselves.

A white van has sped down a pedestrian zone in Barcelona's historic Las Ramblas, swerving from side to side as it ploughed into tourists and residents, killing 16 people and injuring 100 in what authorities are calling a terrorist attack.

  • A van mounted the street and drove into pedestrians

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Why so hot: another lesson in lost history

ABC have a thing for climate catastrophe asking the question "Why so hot?" in this article reporting on recent above average August temperatures in eastern Australia. ABC's reporters have no sense of inquiry and poor sense of history.

August 1946 was another hot August in the nation's history, with many high weather records set, comparable to the temperatures mentioned in the article.
Casino reported 90F (32.2C) 11/8/1946
Yamba 36.1C 13/8/1946
Brisbane 32.8C 14/8/1946
Lismore reported 34.8C 13/8/1946

The conditions in Sydney summed up nicely in this SMH cartoon from 13/8/1946:

The Sun had this cartoon on the 9/8/1946:

Sydney had seen very little rain for the past month (hmm sounds familiar)...
 and there were bushfires in QLD.

ABC News once again demonstrates its poor sense of history and lack of curiosity. 

Sidenote: This SMH article from a few days ago caught our eye: Sydney sweats through warm night but cool weather is on the way

It includes this claim by BOM's Blair Trewin:

As 6am readings go, Sydney's 22.1 degrees pipped a reading of 21.8 on 24 August 2009 as the city's highest on record for that time of the day, Blair Trewin, senior climatologist at the Bureau of Meteorology, said.
The following table was included in The Sun newspaper 12/08/1946:
Unfortunately it seems the 6am reading was not recorded but the remainder are well above the temps recorded for 16/08/2017 (see below and link). Fair to say the BOM's grasp of our weather history is quite slim.

Temperature Sydney 2017
Temperature Sydney 1946

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

History repeating: dysfunctional RN repeats mistakes

Yesterday ABC's complaints division finally got around to publishing an upheld complaint made way back in May (wow, now that's a quick response!). The details are below:

Upheld complaints: 
The World , 16th May 2017
Summary published: 14th August 2017
A viewer complained that an interview with Max Bergmann from the Centre for American Progress was a “one-sided criticism of Donald Trump” and that the presenter failed to disclose the political affiliations of the Centre for American Progress.
Complaint Finding Status: Upheld
Upheld against 2.2 ABC Editorial Policies (11 April 2011)

Audience and Consumer Affairs response:
The ABC agreed that more information should have been provided about the Centre for American Progress. This information was relevant and important to the audience and its absence meant that viewers were not able to weigh Mr Bergmann’s observations and criticisms in their proper context. Accordingly, the broadcast was not in keeping with the ABC’s editorial requirement not to present factual content in a way that will materially mislead the audience. The complainant’s other concerns were not upheld.
Complaint finalised July 2017.

Now you'd think this may result in some ABC wide advice along the lines of: 

"When interviewing representatives from the Centre for American Progress don't forget to mention their political affiliations to provide listeners with the proper context in order to weigh the opinions and observations offered."

It seems Geraldine Doogue missed the memo, for last weekend she interviewed Max Bergmann from the Centre for American Progress, and once again listeners were given scant information about Mr Bergmann's background that would enable them to place his observations in their proper context.

ABC: the place where no one learns from history, and everybody ignores the complaints department.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Governor Gummed up: Guam fact check

In light of recent threats from that nut job in North Korea, ABC post some info about Guam.

It makes the following claims about who is in charge:

Who rules in Guam?
Guam is run by an elected governor, currently Democrat Madeleine Bordallo.
The territory has a 15-member legislature made up of senators.

Hmmm, Madeleine Mary Zeien Bordallo is the Delegate from the United States territory of Guam to the United States House of Representatives.

The current governor is Edward Jerome "Eddie" Baza Calvo. The eighth and current Governor of the United States territory of Guam since 2011 and a member of the Republican Party.

Here's the governor's most recent address.

Basic facts...FAIL.

Updated: Took them a little while but it seems ABC have now corrected their article. Oddly they have left off the respective political parties.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Awaye with the truth

This weekend Radio National's AWAYE segment featured a tribute to Kunmanara Lester who died recently, aged 75.

The program 'We don't dream': a tribute to Kunmanara Lester opens with the following introduction:

"When the British tested a nuclear weapon, the first on the Australian Mainland at Emu Field in 1953 it permanently blinded a Yankunytjatjara boy living down wind with his family at Wallatinna. That 12 year old boy, Kunmanara Lester, went on to become a visionary and a cultural leader like few others. In the 1980s he agitated strongly for a Royal Commission into the British nuclear tests at Emu and Maralinga." 

It is clear from Royal Commission testimony that Kunmanara Lester believes his blindness was due to radioactive fall out from the so called "Black Mist" that passed over Wallatinna after the Totem 1 test at Emu Field. There is also no doubt about his important contribution to recent Australian history. However the Royal Commission agitated for by Lester paints a more complex picture about the likely cause of his blindness that would have been worth ABC's attention. The most likely cause according to the doctor who treated him in the 1960s being trachoma exacerbated by poor nutrition and measles rather than solely from exposure to fall out from the nuclear tests. This would have been useful information for ABC listeners, as the incidence of trachoma remains unacceptably high among aboriginal communities to this day, its cause is related to poor hygiene in remote communities. According to the Fred Hollows Organisation  Australia is the only developed country in the world where trachoma is endemic. 

Emu Field and Wallatinna, SA

The McClelland Royal Commission spent some time examining the fall out at Wallatinna and the cause of Lester's Blindness (see p174-194).  It determined that fall out likely did affect the Wallatina area, 173km from the test site, but found that likely levels of exposure were very low (ref P.187). 

The commission reports the following medical evidence in relation to Lester's Blindness (P.191):
6.4.79 Dr David Tonkin first saw Lester on 6 August 1965, [RC 552, p. 2]. 
In 1983, based on his own examinations of Lester, and other records which were available, Tonkin concluded that Lester had:
1. a long history of red, sore eyes since childhood (there is evidence of trachoma scarring inside the lids) 
2. blindness since the age of 14 years, following ulcers during a severe attack of measles (presumably when the sight in the right eye was lost) 
3. loss of the left eye in 1957, the eye having been blind for nine years previously. 
'The findings in the right eye, both before and during surgery, indicate a long-standing history of infection (trachoma), with dense (total) corneal scarring, iris adhesions, and cataract changes following a severe corneal ulceration which had perforated.  Although severe, such ocular manifestations are recognised complications of trachoma, and in this instance they were possibly accentuated by measles. I [RC 552, p.2] 

Oddly Point 3 suggest that Lester was blind in his left eye 5 years prior to the tests. Which seems to contradict Lester's own evidence:

6.4.76 Yami Lester, who was at Wallatinna when the Black Mist incident occurred, and who was aged about 12 at the time, attributes his blindness to the incident. Describing the mist, and how it made people ill, he said 
'When people first got sick my eyes got sore. I couldn't open my eyes. I got diarrhoea and a rash on my skin. I remember when this happened my mother asked me to stay in the shade. Because I couldn't see I was led around with a stick like a digging stick. You hold it at one end and the person walking ahead of you holds the other end and you follow along. I didn't have the stick for long, I don't reckon it was even a week. My left eye sort of came good again so I threw away the stick but my right eye was permanently blind after that. I could see with my left eye but it gave me a lot of trouble. I could not see 100% wi th my left eye.' [AB 11, pp.6-7] 
6.4.77 Lester went on to say that he lost the sight of his left eye in 1957 [AB 11, p.8]. 

The commission also looked at the potential interacting effects of trachoma and measles with low-level doses of radiation but could make no firm findings based on lack of evidence or relevant studies.

In the end the commission made the following conclusions: in regard to fall out at Wallatinna and Lester's blindness:

6.4.92 (a) The differences in the details of Aboriginal accounts of the Black Mist are to be expected after the passage of over thirty years. The accounts are sufficiently consistent in general for them to have credibility. 
(b) An oral history of the Black Mist existed for many years before the incident became known to the general public. 
(c) Meteorological, mathematical and statistical modelling indicates that a black mist passing over Wallatinna and Welbourn Hil1 could have happened. 
(d) There is no reason to disbelieve Aboriginal accounts that the Black Mist occurred and that it made some people sick. Both radiation exposure and fear can lead to vomiting. At Wallatinna, the vomiting by Aborigines may have resulted from radiation. It may have been a psychogenic reaction to a frightening experience, or it may have resulted from both of these. 
(e) The Royal Commission believes that Aboriginal people experienced radioactive fallout from Totem 1 in the form of a black mist or cloud at and near Wallatinna. This may have made some people temporarily ill. The Royal Commission does not have sufficient evidence to say whether or not it caused other illnesses or injuries. 
(f) Given the historical uncertainties and the current state of scientific knowledge, the evidence presented does not enable the Royal Commission to decide one way or the other whether the Black Mist caused or contributed to the blindness of Yami Lester. 

From the Conclusions and recommendations report:
99. Given the historical uncertainties and the current state of scientific knowledge, the evidence presented does not enable the Royal Commission to decide one way or the other whether the Black Mist caused or contributed to the blindness of Yami Lester. (6.4.92-) 

It seems the truth is a little more complicated than the picture painted by the ABC. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Missing News: One Planet enough

ABCs catastrophists at it again promoting this piece of eco-activism as news...

Earth Overshoot Day: We used a year's worth of resources in seven months

It would have been worth asking for a counter opinion. Bjorn Lomborg provides this common sense reply:

One Planet Is Enough

For more than a decade, the World Wildlife Fund and other conservation organizations have performed complicated calculations to determine our total “ecological footprint” on the planet. In their narrative, population growth and higher standards of living mean that we are now using 1.7 planets and are depleting resources so quickly that by 2030, we would need two planets to sustain us. If everyone were to suddenly rise to American living standards, we would need almost five planets. The message is unequivocal – WWF tells us we face a looming “ecological credit crunch”, risking “a large-scale ecosystem collapse.”

But this scare is almost completely fallacious. The ecological footprint tries to assess all our usage of area and compare it with how much is available. At heart, this is a useful exercise, and like any measure that tries to aggregate many different aspects of human behavior, it tends to simplify its inputs.

Read the rest at the link.

Fact check: ABC score 25% on weather report

ABC's gun weather reporters and the BOM try and explain why Townsville is so dry.

Why is Townsville so dry? BOM explains its the topography
By Jenny Woodward and Allyson Horn

The report includes the following table:

It seems, as happens all too often, ABC has no sense of history. The reported figures come from currently open BOM stations. Taking a mere moment to look a little deeper through the available weather data changes things a little. Here's an updated table reflecting the full range of available data. This shows ABC score a palty 25% on the rainfall facts.

It is sad that ABC's reporters lack the curiosity to do their work properly. Sadder still is that these errors are paid for by the rest of us.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Wasting time and resources

ABC News think the following story is worth your taxes!

Inconvenient facts about NT's Hot July

ABC's ineffectual reporters once again fail to ask any questions in regurgitating a BOM report on a hot July in the top end.
ABC's report identified the following key points:

Key points:
  1. Some places saw temperatures between 3C and 4.5C above long-term average
  2. In Darwin the overnight low only dropped below 20C six times
  3. BOM says "hard to say if this is new normal"
Let's look at these one by one.
1. Some places saw temperatures between 3C and 4.5C above long-term average
ABC failed to question the BOM about the how the long term averages are currently determined. The changes quoted by BOM are based on the ACORN data. This is a manufactured dataset based on an undisclosed homogenisation algorithm with arbitrary adjustments (see below). For the NT it is derived from a handful of stations. The NT covers 1.421 million km²; over such a large area how useful is an average based on just a handful of homogenised stations? 

2. In Darwin the overnight low only dropped below 20C six times
So what! Based on the actual measurements from the Old Darwin Post Office (14016) and Airport (14015) this is not out of the ordinary and has been surpassed on quite a few occasions. It might have been worth the BOM pointing out that in 1915 NO (yes zero) nights dropped below 20C, and that there have been warmer overnight averages in Darwin the past (see tables below). ABC's reporter may have asked on how many occasions this had occurred previously and what was the record?

# nights below 20C-Selected months Darwin Post Office (BOM 14016) (More if you look).

3. BOM says "hard to say if this is new normal"
As usual ABC (and BOM) omit any context or history in claims involving climate change. The graphs below show actual mean maximum and minimum temperatures for Darwin Post Office (BOM 14016) and Darwin Airport (14015) for July from the start of records in 1869. For the Post Office observations were collected in a Stevenson Screen from at least 1890. For the Darwin area this shows a cyclic pattern of temperature variation in both Min and Max means. Interestingly, based on the un-adjusted data there is little change in the long term means. Mean temperatures provide little information about weather experienced on a day by day basis. As usual ABC (and BOM's) reporting is superficial, omits key information and fails to inform.

Jennifer Marohasy has an informative post on homogenisation of Darwin's temperature record. See HERE.

As an indication of the arbitrary nature of BOM's homogenisation process the list below shows recorded and ACORN minimum temperatures, and the difference for Darwin Post Office (14016) for July 1915. The range of adjustments over the period lack any credibility.

1st 21.7 21.1 0.6
2nd 21.2 20.1 1.1
3rd 21.7 21.1 0.6
4th 21.8 21.2 0.6
5th 21.7 21.1 0.6
6th 21.8 21.2 0.6
7th 22.3 21.7 0.6
8th 23.1 22.3 0.8
9th 22.3 21.7 0.6
10th 21.4 20.5 0.9
11th 20.1 19.2 0.9
12th 21.4 20.5 0.9
13th 22.5 21.9 0.6
14th 23.3 22.5 0.8
15th 23.3 22.5 0.8
16th 23.8 23 0.8
17th 23.1 22.3 0.8
18th 21.7 21.1 0.6
19th 22.8 22.1 0.7
20th 23.2 22.4 0.8
21st 22.3 21.7 0.6
22nd 23.1 22.3 0.8
23rd 21.8 21.2 0.6
24th 21.1 20 1.1
25th 21.4 20.5 0.9
26th 21.8 21.2 0.6
27th 22.6 21.9 0.7
28th 23.1 22.3 0.8
29th 21.9 21.2 0.7
30th 22.2 21.6 0.6
31st 22.5 21.9 0.6

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Another cyclone forecast BOMs out

A characteristic of ABC News is it's lack of inquiry in testing the outcomes of predictions on climatic events made by experts. One would think that the outcome of predictions would be newsworthy given the amount of money the government allocates to our premier weather agency.

The Bureau of Meteorology annually release an outlook of the coming tropical cyclone season in Spring. We have previously  looked at the accuracy of BOM's cyclone forecasts and ABC's reluctance to cover the disparity between forecast and outcomes, but have not had a chance to follow up on recent pronouncements.

Looking at the 2016-2017 season last year ABC reported that "Weather forecasters are expecting an average to above-average number of tropical cyclones to form this season in the region that includes the Northern Territory."

BOM claimed with a "high" level of accuracy :

  • The Australian region has a 67% chance of having more tropical cyclones than average, meaning a 33% chance of having fewer tropical cyclones than average. Typically, around four tropical cyclones cross the Australian coastline in a season. Outlook accuracy for the Australian region is high.

So what was the outcome? It seems BOM no longer produce the Darwin Tropical Diagnostic Statement that provided a near real time summary of cyclone activity. Perhaps its buried somewhere else in it's labyrinthine web page. However Wikipedia produce a season summary:  

Once again the numbers paint a poor picture of BOM's cyclone forecast skill, but ABC don't think this is newsworthy.