Can Contrarians Lose?

No.

Thesis – Contrarians always win

Proof. Let the following assumptions hold: (1) science is a corrective process; (2) scientific beliefs are revisable; (3) contrarians could (and probably will, one day, with AI) claim everything science doesn’t claim. Ergo, Betteridge’s Law strikes again. End of proof.

Remark. The last assumption (3) might be the most contentious one. For our proof to work, we need something like the totality of all possible ideas. It would contain the sum of all current scientific knowledge. The existence of both sets may be disputed. Further, the proof itself implies that it will: if there’s no scientific counterpoint to it, there’s at least a contrarian who would, hopefully in the current comment thread.

Corrolary 1 – Contrarians never lose.

Proof. Define losing as not winning. Confer to the above thesis. There’s no third step.

Observation. This definition sidesteps the possibility of any kind of Pyrrhic victory. That would be a bummer. Forget I told you about that. Look at the silly monkey!

Corrolary 2 – When a contrarian win, every contrarian win. Forever.

Proof sketch. Since contrarians fill all the niches the scientific establishment does not, any scientific revolution makes contrarians win. We have empirical evidence that contrarians share the wins of any other one, however contradictory their mutual beliefs could be. Make provision for the idea that a contrarian isn’t an agent characterized by its belief states, but by opposition to what the scientific establishement holds. Keep that idea for later – you’ll need it.

Example. Galileo was once a contrarian. Science progressed. He then was right. Checkmate. Every single contrarian since Galileo are thus enshrined by that righteousness. Contrarians won, are winning and will win again and again.

Open problem. Are contrarians tired of winning?

Corrolary 3. Every scientific correction confirms that contrarians were right all along.

Proof. It’s an easy one. Left as an exercice to readers.

Gloss. Inconsistency is an asset, not a liability. It allows contrarians to split their roles and build an infinite amount of Dutch books executed through double binds. Being right all along doesn’t hinder the following:

Corrolary 4. It is preferable when contrarians are “not even wrong.”

Proof. Obviously, having no standpoint to defend accelerates the validation process, as it precludes any possibility that science ever become contrarian-proof.

Alphabetical Listicle.  How to express contrarian concerns –  Arguing alternatives. Counterfactual thinking.  Dogwhistling FUD.  Incredibilism.  Just Asking Questions. Plausible deniability.  Sealioning.  Whataboutism.  Et cetera. You know the drill.

Corrolary 5 (Muller, 2012). As soon as a contrarian identifies with a winning belief that gets added to mainstream science, he loses its title of contrarian.

Proof. Recall the idea I told you to hold? Apply it. Bingo.

Warning. Losing the contrarian title includes side-effects like having to support your claim, read what otters write before commenting, cite your sources, and quote those with whom you disagree. Incidents of reciprocation and constructive criticism have also been reported. In the extreme, we witnessed a feeling of aloofness among those who had to deal with contrarians. You know, having to work and work and work to get nothing in return except being treated like the rug in The Big Lebowski? That feeling of aloofness.

Conjecture. Happy 2018, a year with many more contrarian wins to come!

 

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About Willard

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83 Responses to Can Contrarians Lose?

  1. Gm poulos says:

    Don’t understand what you have written but it sounds to me like you’re whining because people don’t agree with you? Since global warming (I refuse to use the “new” words) is almost a religious belief among the people of the world and since “you people” seem to look down from on high at those of us who are not convinced I will give you a quick thought.
    I am reminded of Archie Bunker arguing with George Jefferson. They argued whether god was black or white. Like them the mighty scientific minds think they are arguing with the simpletons of the world that global warming as presented by them IS the real deal and the rest of us are saying it is not. Bullshit, we are simply saying that you ain’t that smart, I personally don’t think you are within 100 years of having your minds wrapped around the problem. In my opinion you are not a scientist if you are not a sceptic. If you have a science degree and you believe whole hearted in global warming please take 20 minutes and read about Piltdown man. Then you will know how easy it is to sucker the smartest people in the world into believing what you want them to believe. If you think you are wiser or smarter than all the scientists who believed in Piltdown man then that’s most likely where the actual problem lies on this whole global warming subject.

  2. Joshua says:

    When a contrarian win, every contrarian win. Forever.

    Tectonic plates move. Ulcers are complicated. Dietary fat is complicated.

    Which, of course, all just boil down to the most elegant, mother of all Contrarians win! arguments = “Galileo.”

  3. Joshua says:

    Gm poulos adds another classic “winning” contrarian argument = “religions exist.”

    And how could I have forgotten the classic “Piltdown man?”

    I’m so ashamed.

  4. In fact, we wrote a book chapter about “global warming” vs “climate change”. The chapter is Polluted Discourse: Communication and Myths in a Climate of Denial, and the abstract says

    We examine the role of contrarian narratives in climate communication, focusing on two terminological claims—(1) that scientists abandoned the term global warming in favor of climate change in response to a change in temperature evolution, and (2) that catastrophic anthropogenic global warming is the mainstream scientific position—and find them to be without merit.

  5. Gm poulos,
    I think a brief summary of the post is essentially that mainstream positions always change. Hence if you present yourself as someone who is questioning the mainstream position, you will always end up being able to say “see, I told you it was wrong”. This, of course, does not require that your alternative be correct, and does not depend – in any way – on the magnitude in the shift of mainstream position; it simply needs to change with time, as it almost certainly will.

  6. Magma says:

    If you have a science degree and you believe whole hearted in global warming please take 20 minutes and read about Piltdown man. — whoever

    From an on-line encyclopedia I recently found called ‘Wikipedia’: “As early as 1913, David Waterston of King’s College London published in Nature his conclusion that the sample consisted of an ape mandible and human skull. Likewise, French paleontologist Marcellin Boule concluded the same thing in 1915. A third opinion from the American zoologist Gerrit Smith Miller concluded that Piltdown’s jaw came from a fossil ape. In 1923, Franz Weidenreich examined the remains and correctly reported that they consisted of a modern human cranium and an orangutan jaw with filed-down teeth.”

  7. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    Example. Galileo was once a contrarian. Science progressed. He then was right. Checkmate. Every single contrarian since Galileo are thus enshrined by that righteousness. Contrarians won, are winning and will win again and again.

    Contrarians love them some Galileo*- and they seem to find new martyrs for The Cause of Science on a weekly basis. The exchange rate on Galilean coinage seems to suffer from hyper-inflation.

    Of course, like everyone else except Richard Tol, Galileo was right only part of the time.
    No contrarian references Galileo’s dismissal of Kepler’s (correct) theory of elliptical planetary orbits.
    No contrarian references Galileo’s rejection of Kepler’s (correct) theory of the tides.

    But one historical checkmate is one more than enough for any contrarian gambit.

    *Although it should be said, not ALL contrarians.
    https://galileowaswrong.blogspot.ca/

  8. lerpo says:

    Where does “but piltdown man” fit into the thesis… Corrolary 3?

  9. > Where does “but piltdown man” fit into the thesis… Corrolary 3?

    It’s an easy one. Left as an exercise to readers.

  10. Windchaser says:

    Also summed up as:

    “We don’t know everything, therefore we don’t know anything.”

  11. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Thanks Vinny. It is a bit of a canard, the IPCC was set up in 1988, so the phrase is not exactly new.

  12. Gm poulos,

    I assume you are DimitrisP:

    http://dimispoulos.wixsite.com/dimis

    This site is still cited in the Colophon of the Contrarian Matrix:

    https://contrarianmatrix.wordpress.com/colophon/

    However, the citation on that page leads to a hacked website.

    Would you be so kind as to send me a PDF?

    From now on, I’ll add the PDF directly in my Matrix, as this page:

    https://contrarianmatrix.wordpress.com/lots-of-theories/

    already contains deprecated URLs.

    Your PDF is supposed to be under “solar winds.”

    Thanks.

  13. izen says:

    Tyndall’s paper on the heat-trapping properties of CO2 and the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species were in the same year (1859) IIRC.

    Gm poulos uses exactly the same arguments that are used by Evolution deniers.

    “(almost) a religion”; -check

    “I don’t think you are within 100 years of having your minds wrapped around the problem”; personal incredulity – check

    “you are not a scientist if you are not a sceptic”; proper science can never establish undisputable facts – check

    “Piltdown man”; Science makes mistakes therefore it is wrong now – check, amazing how often that was invoked by anti-evolutionists!

    As Magma points out, Piltdown Man was only ever believed by a small, but influential, group of British anatomists who for jingoistic reasons wanted an earlier human fossil than the recent German finds. Outside Britain, and within it by dental experts, it was viewed as a mistaken attribution. A good example of the self-correcting process of science.

    Of course God is Black. The Bible claims man was made in God’s image, the first Humans were black, they only lost that pigmentation when they migrated to less sunny climes and micro-evolution caused them to change.

  14. Willard says:

    > Of course God is Black.

    What if I told you that God does not exist yet, but may do one day?

  15. Joshua says:

    As soon as a contrarian identifies with a winning belief that gets added to mainstream science, he loses its title of contrarian.

    Interesting how the Mueller arguments track with the Muller arguments.

  16. Willard says:

    “Contrarians were at war with the scientific establishment; therefore contrarians had always been at war with the scientific establishment.”

  17. izen says:

    @-Willard
    “What if I told you that God does not exist yet, but may do one day?”

    I would tell you that the accepted definition of God is an entity outside material space-time, an eternal being.

    Something that has temporal limits fails to meet the criteria of an infinite, unbounded intentional agency.

  18. Willard says:

    > Something that has temporal limits fails to meet the criteria of an infinite, unbounded intentional agency.

    All your base are belong to the God I have in mind, izen.

  19. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    I would tell you that the accepted definition of God is an entity outside material space-time, an eternal being.

    The accepted definition of The Word does not constrain the universe to abide it.
    If a thing is outside material space-time, then it isn’t a entity, much less a being.

    BTW – Pink is the new Black.


    All your base are belong to the God I have in mind, izen.

    STOP PEEKING INTO MY MIND!

  20. Harry Twinotter says:

    Gm poulos.

    Was that a Poe?

  21. izen says:

    @-Willard
    “All your base are belong to the God I have in mind, izen.”

    The your mind contains a God exhibiting mutually contradictory, or at least paradoxical, qualities.

    But that is the inevitable result of almost ANY concept of divinity.

  22. izen says:

    @-Rev
    “The accepted definition of The Word does not constrain the universe to abide it.
    If a thing is outside material space-time, then it isn’t a entity, much less a being.”

    Agreed.
    You have to invent some unobservable (Platonic?) realm of abstract absolutes to provide a viable environment for such unicorns.

  23. Willard says:

    > that is the inevitable result of almost ANY concept of divinity.

    As an empirical claim, I trust your word for it. As far as formal theology is concerned, I doubt it’s correct. Goedel’s proof comes to mind. There are others. It’s still an active research field, e.g.:

    There has been a trend within natural theology to present arguments for theism deductively, such that at least one of the premises is likely to be extremely controversial. For those arguments with less controversial premises, the conclusion is usually something short of theism. On these grounds, some have employed probabilistic reasoning to revive classical arguments – to use less controversial premises in achieving a conclusion directly relevant to whether theism is true or not. Here, I formulate the kalam cosmological argument in Bayesian terms, and argue that doing so renders many objections levelled against it obsolete.

    https://dovetheology.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/kalam-paper.pdf

    Non-deductive approaches might be needed to save Sound Science from the Contrarian Matrix’ onslaught:

    Bart quotes Peter as saying,

    “All piecharts and graphs, including those made by the critics of Harvey et all. tell the same story: the positions taken by the contrarian blogs is very different from that taken by the science based blogs and the peer review literature. That is the main conclusion from the paper. It has not been challenged in any meaningful way yet.”

    This is like saying people who think premise A is correct take a position that is different than people who think premise A is not correct. It’s a conclusion that tells us nothing of value. It only states that different people, when separated into groups who have different beliefs, have different beliefs. Which is absurdly obvious.

    The conclusion appears to take on value if one commits the logical fallacy of Appeal to Authority to conclude that the science-based blogs are correct. But doing so is illogical.

    The conclusion could also appear to have some value if one accepts the implication that the contrarian blogs are wrong. But then we have circular reasoning; “the science-based blogs are correct because they hold an opposite view of the contrarian blogs,” which simplifies to, “the science-based blogs are correct because the science-based blogs are correct,” which is also illogical argument.

    So, if Peter has correctly defined the conclusion of the paper it should be withdrawn because the conclusion is illogical handwaving that has no value but attempts, in an underhanded and illogical way, to discredit people who hold different beliefs.

    If the scientist authors wish to show that the contrarian blogs are incorrect, they have to actually produce scientific evidence that indicates they are incorrect.

    https://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2017/12/22/how-blogs-convey-and-distort-scientific-information-about-polar-bears-and-arctic-sea-ice/#comment-39810

    After two weeks of pussyfooting over the word “true” and “wrong,” ThomasM is eating more than he can chew with the concept of claim. (H17 does too – don’t tell him that.) Sooner or later, he’ll realize the meaning of the word is.

    Stay tuned.

  24. izen says:

    @-Willard

    Sigh…
    You have the advantage that you obviously follow this stuff and are deeply informed.
    It is a couple of decades since I paddled in the shallow end of philosophy/theology, even then it was mainly as self-defence when engaging in the ‘EvolutionBall’ games.

    I have regarded Goedel as one of those scientists who strove to discover/invent one thing, and ended up (much to their chagrin?) to be known (and perhaps lauded or reviled) for a result the exact opposite of their intention. Einstein had an element of that, his work on the photoelectric effect ushered in Quantum Mech that he strongly opposed. Midgely is probably the ultimate example, a 3 time loser…
    Goedel set out to find a definitive positive proof that absolute TRUTH could be determined, and is credited with proving such a task is impossible.

    @-“So, if Peter has correctly defined the conclusion of the paper it should be withdrawn because the conclusion is illogical handwaving that has no value but attempts, in an underhanded and illogical way, to discredit people who hold different beliefs.”

    I think this critique of H17 misses a key element of the findings. It is not that sides A and B use different sources to justify their position and can only be distinguished by an appeal to ‘scientific Authority’ or some independent criteria about who is right or wrong.

    There are measurable differences in the structure of reference or citations that each side uses. Both in the number of primary sources they use, and the secondary (and tertiary, etc…) connections those sources then link with.
    There is a width and depth of associated information on one side that contrasts with the very shallow, often singular, ‘appeal to authority’ seen in the contrarian blogs.
    One side is singing “three blind mice’, the other is performing a Bach cantata.

    Sou makes the point in the most recent Hotwopper post. I see Richard Cina (tallbloke ??) has trumpeted that there are 485 scientific paper casting doubt on AGW theory. (of course most do not) But that is out of over 100,000 papers published in the field.
    Science may not be a democracy, but when a position is such a clear minority stance it makes no sense to claim the two sides are treating their scientific validation as indistinguishable.

  25. Steven Mosher says:

    I had a whole essay composed.
    with blockchain examples and everything..
    fricking GFW glitched and my genius was lost to the ether… haha

    Nice work willard. Different approach than I was thinking..

    I veered into contrarian qua contrarian..

    The best you can hope for is a draw with a contrarian, or with them losing honor ( individual honor)
    in the case of “staked” or bonded dialogs ( bets).. what would it take to change your mind?

    The only real loss comes when nature bats last using the contrarian head as a ball.
    because skepticism cannot be lived.

  26. Szilard says:

    One of my PhD supervisors developed a proof that the Axiom of Choice implies the existence of God. He was kind of funky.

  27. Willard says:

    Fair enough, izen. I think the best we can hope for formal theology (there’s a GitHub for the formal proof of Gödel’s sketch) is a bunch of more or less dubious assumptions. I need to find back the name of the French philosopher from whom I borrow the future God argument. Vaguely recall that he was into transcendental materialism. Will report.

    I agree with your analysis of ThomasM’s argument.

    Y’all might like this, by one of the most brilliant philosophers eva:

  28. Willard says:

    > He was kind of funky.

    I prefer when they’re schwifty:

  29. Willard says:

    > I veered into contrarian qua contrarian..

    STOP PEEKING INTO MY MIND!!!!

    It actually happened at BartV’s:

    > My comments do not presume Thomas is right, they anticipate a possible clash between someone I expect to have a great deal of knowledge about humidity and fog (and clouds) and another who I expect to be a total numbskull.

    Wait, Singer. Are you suggesting that ThomasM’s interpretation of H17’s argument is totally misplaced?

    Perhaps H17 also leaves to its readers the exercise of their superior logic to work out who to believe between the Contrarian Matrix and mainstream science on the question of the relationship of sea-ice loss and polar bears vulnerability.

    https://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2017/12/22/how-blogs-convey-and-distort-scientific-information-about-polar-bears-and-arctic-sea-ice/#comment-40129

    It then devolved into some SpeedoScience, after which BartV pulled the plug on Singer.

    How Singer and ThomasM could join forces together even if the former is into “it’s the Sun, stoopid” while the second is more into “it’s the Cloudz, stoopid” was a thing of beauty.

  30. anoilman says:

    Reads title… thinks, “I bet Willard wrote this.”

  31. izen says:

    @-Willard
    “I need to find back the name of the French philosopher from whom I borrow the future God argument. Vaguely recall that he was into transcendental materialism. Will report.”

    Ok; I can offer two examples from fiction.
    Greg Bear in the Eon/Eternity stories has a future evolved God come back to get mankind to destroy a trans-dimensional wormhole humans created because it interferes with their attempt to reach the Omega point.
    Stanislav Lem has a short story in which the future scientists discover they can send a ‘bullet’ of information back in time to the Big Bang to create a better universe. However personal rivalry and preferences result in the corruption of the bullet creating the sub-optimal mess of the material reality we now inhabit. And that this was/is/will be the act that caused it to come into existence anyway.

    When it comes to cosmological arguments…
    The claim that ‘fine tuning’ of the universe that enables our existence denotes intention, is the equivalent of intelligent fish in Lake Erie concluding that the perfect fit of the water in the hole it occupies implies an act of special creation.
    Of course intelligent fish in Lake Mead have a point. There is a part of their universe that does not match the Nature of the rest, and (black)holes that drain away mass and energy for some unknown purpose.

    Multi-dimensional Intelligent Constructional Engineers, (M.I.C.E) construct a ‘dam’ (the big bang) to contain ‘substance’ from which they can extract a stream of enthalpy…?!

  32. Magma says:

    @ lerpo

    It’s been so long since I read that I thought you were linking to a different, even shorter story (“Answer”) in a similar vein by Frederic Brown. The key lines follow.

    *SPOILER ALERT*

    “The honor of asking the first question is yours, Dwar Reyn.”
    “Thank you,” said Dwar Reyn. “It shall be a question which no single cybernetics machine has been able to answer.”
    He turned to face the machine. “Is there a God?”
    The mighty voice answered without hesitation, without the clicking of a single relay.
    “Yes, now there is a God.”

  33. Magma says:

    Fredric, not Frederic. (I’m a non-contrarian, and errors bother me.)

  34. Szilard says:

    Teilhard de Chardin, I guess.

    Steven Mosher: I suspect yr blockchain thoughts might correspond quite closely to the “proof” of the existence of God assuming the Axiom of Choice.

    http://alexanderpruss.com/papers/MeyerProof.html

  35. Be of good courage, Steve:
    “The only real loss comes when nature bats last using the contrarian head as a ball.”
    has as its corollary:
    “The only real win comes when the contrarian bats first using its head as the ball.”

  36. Now all we need are some bookies to help us calculate the odds.

  37. Steven Mosher says:

    ‘Steven Mosher: I suspect yr blockchain thoughts might correspond quite closely to the “proof” of the existence of God assuming the Axiom of Choice.”

    No the thoughts had to do with Settlement finality.
    Also, entering into a smart contract with an oracle providing the information to enforce the contract.

    basically. Contrarians qua contrarians are just a form of scepticism. And so the question “can contrarians lose” is really the question can skepticism be defeated. And to put it in terms I like
    can words ever force ( with some kind of finality) a counterparty to relent.
    In the best case you can battle a skeptic to a draw, in which case, Pyrhonic victory.. (haha)
    skeptics win all draws. otherwise known as delayism

    One exception is where you bond your dialog or commit to a contract with stakes held by a third party. Otherwise known as a bet. This manefests itself like so
    “what do I have to show you for you to admit you are wrong”
    And some third party holds your bond.
    You could also see that if someone submits to this kind of dialog, the crowd holds his money
    and his money is his honor.
    He can walk away from this bet, but he loses his honor.. not the argument, but his honor.

    A) What would I have to show you
    C) Show me X
    A) here is X
    C1. thats not X
    C2. whattabout this ,changing the topic
    C3. Crickets
    C4 etc
    Onlooker: That was a stupid bet, beating a stupid contrarian is no victory.
    Onlooker2: What about Mann?
    blah blah blah

    So even in a bonded dialog the contrarian can avoid defeat. Nothing can force him to say
    uncle except twisting his arm up behind his back and snapping it off, and even then
    he can refuse to admit defeat.

    And that is really what you are after. The admission of error. i was wrong. I change my mind.
    I re organize my identity. For some it takes hitting rock bottom. The only way I know is for a doubter to actually DO WORK.. do you own frickin science.. and then you face this dilemma: call it the muller moment.

    lets make it personal ok?
    for a long time I thought adjustments were bogus and UHI was a problem.
    After years of work I decided I was wrong.
    well actually there was choice: I was either wrong before or all my years of work were shit.
    unfooling yourself is hard work.

    Anyway. last point is that in the end life defeats skepticism. Living means choosing. All choice happens with uncertainty, and so at some point the contrarian qua contrarian is defeated.
    not by argument, but
    by natures bat if he is unlucky enough to live that long.

  38. Steven Mosher says:

    ‘One of my PhD supervisors developed a proof that the Axiom of Choice implies the existence of God. He was kind of funky.

    I vaguely recall that one

    All you really need to know is that you are not god.

    my fricking honors director ( william earle) almost refused to pass me because I maintained
    I knew I was not.

    ( he was a rational mystic)

  39. Joshua says:

    izen –

    Gm poulos uses exactly the same arguments that are used by Evolution deniers.

    Actually, I have now switched over to the evolution deniers. I used to be with the evolution believers.

    But the transition from Obama to Trump definitely disproves Darwin’s theory.

  40. Joshua says:

    izen –

    In the best case you can battle a skeptic to a draw,…

    Plenty of skeptics will acknowledge losing. It’s when you’re dealing with Contrarians, or “skeptics” that you’re dealing with someone who can’t lose.

  41. Joshua says:

    Oops. Last comment wasn’t to izen

  42. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    “But the transition from Obama to Trump definitely disproves Darwin’s theory.”

    Perhaps you misunderstand the theory.
    It does not predict improvement, or that things get better.
    Only that what is ‘good enough’ will survive in an environment.

    I gather Trump has questioned why there are not more immigrants from Norway.
    It is a better environment for wages, holidays, medical care, education, life expectancy, infant mortality, social welfare, transport infrastructure, cultural tolerance… in fact by comparison the US environment is a shithole.

  43. I’ve been thinking about Stopping Rules. It’s Gordian Knots all the way down.

  44. lanzu says:

    “Since contrarians fill all the niches the scientific establishment does not, any scientific revolution makes contrarians win.”
    I am a contratian to to this assertion. I don’t think all niches are already known and there might be uncountable many. Therefore, nearly all niches are not filled by anybody.

  45. Steven Mosher says:

    “I’ve been thinking about Stopping Rules. It’s Gordian Knots all the way down.”

    it would be cool if there was a magic way that if you proved someone wrong the words would have to come out of their mouth ” i was wrong”.

    Lets take DK and dr Tol as an example. DK has been logical and polite in pointing out the error
    but nothing he can do… nothing he can say can compell Tol to say the words ‘ i was wrong, or I made a mistake” As outsiders we make our judgment, but even our refereeing doesnt give DK what he desires.. the opponents admission of being wrong.

    That’s the final settlement I think we fight for. Nothing can compell it short of force. And that too is not very satisfying is it? Even watching nature have its way with them isnt all that great.

  46. Andrew Dodds says:

    @izen, @Joshua

    Actually, the election of Trump (and the Brexit vote, driven by similar demographics) can be understood in terms of the evolved use of game theory – specifically this:

    If you are repeatedly forced to play a game that you will lose, then the only rational move is to break the game – knock the board over, play stupid moves, whatever – just make it so that is no longer worthwhile for the other person to play. Most 6 year olds understand this approach.. In the case of the UK and US, there is a significant chunk of the population who are placed in the position where they cannot get anywhere no matter how hard they work, but are told by pretty much all politicians of any stripe that that’s just they way things are and there is nothing anyone can do. In which case, why not vote to screw things up for the ‘reasonable’ politicians?

  47. izen says:

    @-Andrew Dodds
    “…but are told by pretty much all politicians of any stripe that that’s just they way things are and there is nothing anyone can do. ”

    Or worse, are told thats the way things SHOULD be.

    Until someone comes along and tells them that it is all the fault of foreigners, taking OUR jobs, sovereignty, and precious bodily fluids…

  48. Greg Robie says:

    A koan-like approach to the thesis:

    If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? If a sound is heard in the woods, is that hearing an action? If action is taken in the woods without a sound, has a tree fallen? When no tree falls, when walking in the woods, is a sound made?

    The physics of hearing is action, but the physics of speaking a sound is not an action in the physical world if it is not acted on. This is both a blue collar bias, and systemic truth: walk is, paradoxically, talk. In the absence of action, an idea – scientifically owned, or otherwise – is no more than a wish. Acted on, an idea become a hope and is manifested in the physical world. Without action there is no knowledge; no ideas. Ergo, what we do is the substance of what we really know; what we hope in. (Hebrews 11)

    The denial of this truth is what motivated reasoning, as a neurological adaptation, accomplishes for us. Due to the perceived stress due to our latent power in creation, we cannot live with the RedPillReal how of how we are “as gods” in it. Regardless, with the creation of our social construct of corporations, we learned how – without eating of the tree of life – to live forever in our wish filled power-as-power-over paradigm. And the dominate aspect of humanity that we have hereby made eternal is our immature capacity to be greedy. An immature psychosis has no need for ideas of knowledge that do not feed, cloth, shelter, and entertain it. Since we live in a cosmos where power only exists as power-with, what we do, not what we know, is what interacts with the physics of the physical. In this sense – this RedPillReal – there are no contrarians. Contrarians-R-us. And we can, and have, with our creation of our Anthropocene (as GREED-as-go[]ds) lost to physics’ abrupt climate change.

    To the degree 2017 is repeated, 2018 will be another year on ATTP in which wishes are squabbled over and scientifically owned ideas and knowledge negated by this noise.

    Blue collar corollary: those who can’t do, teach … or as I would modify this to include the role of motivated reasoning more explicitly: those who won’t do, and are academics, are silent.

    =) aka, TheCoolBot 😉

    sNAILmALEnotHAIL …but pace’n myself

    https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCeDkezgoyyZAlN7nW1tlfeA

    life is for learning so all my failures must mean that I’m wicked smart

    >

  49. Joshua says:

    izen –

    Perhaps you misunderstand the theory.
    It does not predict improvement, or that things get better.

    Of course. Just making a joke. I don’t actually have that misperception about the theory, but I get that you’d want to correct what is a common misperception. (that said, the question of whether evolution is in some way “directional” is one that I find interesting.)

  50. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    SM:

    And that is really what you are after. The admission of error. i was wrong. I change my mind.

    No.
    If Marc Morano suddenly began to make the same noises as Al Gore, they would still both be a couple of guys with opinions.
    Judith Curry could appear before the Senate, again, and declare defeat. Someone equally vapid would take up her rhetorical crusade.

    I don’t care one jot what you or anyone else is willing to say in the confessional.

    I just want you kids to to get off my lawn!


    Contrarians-R-us

    We have met the enemy, and the wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round…

  51. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    ” the question of whether evolution is in some way “directional” is one that I find interesting.”

    The obvious direction is towards increasing complexity and diversity.
    Especially after major extinction events wipe out the dominance of established forms.

  52. Andrew Dodds says:

    izen –

    Well, it seems that way. But also consider that for the majority of species, the majority of the time, evolution is extremely conservative. Species evolve in a geologic instant, hang around apparently unchanging for geologically significant amounts of time, and then vanish. Any trend towards higher complexity only emerges over timescales that are long not only compared with individual lifetimes, but also compared with species lifetimes. How this happens looks a bit of a mystery..

  53. Joshua says:

    I got into a convo here:

    http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2017/11/8/midweek-update-teaching-criminal-law-voluntary-manslaughter.html

    regarding directionality and evolution. Any feedback would be appreciated. If, understandably, you don’t want to slog your way through somewhat formulaic blogospheric bickering, this is one of the articles I came across during the discussion that I thought was pretty interesting:

    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/predictable-evolution-trumps-randomness-of-mutations/

  54. off topic, but:
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-017-0033-0
    article shows en event reduces mass of antartic ice sheets and raises height by seawater melt from underneath and fresh snow deposit on top. This raises a physics question for me: doesn’t this inevitably lead to a less stable leading edge of the ice sheets? Is it time to predict or project increased calving and loss of stability of the icesheets that are floating on sea water?

  55. > One exception is where you bond your dialog or commit to a contract with stakes held by a third party. Otherwise known as a bet. This manefests itself like so “what do I have to show you for you to admit you are wrong.” And some third party holds your bond.

    Yes. ClimateBall shows that consistency alone doesn’t provide enough skin in the game. Money bets are good for easily verifiable claims, e.g.:

    In fairness, JamesA lost to Whitehouse a smaller sum during Da Paws. That sum was sponsored by the BBC, all he lost was a bit of honor. He estimated his chances 3 to 1 in his favor that at least one temp record would be set in 2008-2011, and JamesA won more than he lost at betting. UK’s taxpayers have been very unlucky, that’s all.

    My working hypothesis to add more skin in the game is to make sure contrarians work more than me during a ClimateBall exchange. If they ask me a question, I ask them a question that requires the same amount of work. If they don’t respond, I don’t need to respond. If they sealion me, I make sure that the work I produce will burden them with more work than I did. The idea is that it’s easy to come up in a comment thread and ask the owner for a cup of coffee. It’s less easier if you need to work to have it. This amount of work one is willing to give compared to what one is willing to get in return is subjective. The crucial matter is to set up the limits of the diminishing returns.

    Being trolled is getting caught in a transaction where you lose resources. Frustration emerges, and with it lulz. By making sure that resources are pooled and shared in an equitable manner, the incentive to troll disappears. Contrarians concerns never really disappear – those who shovel them can get frustrated in return. Witness ThomasM, Singer, and Groundskeeper reacted at BartV’s.

    The same lesson applies to phone sollicitation:

    While this works to deal with scam artists, this protocol also works to create positive outcomes. Socrates might have been the first troll, or at least the first conter-troll. The Trolley Problem is a good troll. More on this later if needed.

    ClimateBall is a game of attrition.

  56. Willard says:

    > I don’t think all niches are already known and there might be uncountable many. Therefore, nearly all niches are not filled by anybody.

    Not if you define a contrarian position by complementation. Perhaps I should have clarified that I had the absolute complement in mind.

    There’s a way to reinforce that objection. Let a position be a claim that answers a question. Recall that there will always be more questions than answers. It’s an adaptation by Popper of Gödel’s incompleteness theorems if memory serves well. See this for some background. Under that model, there’s an infinity of unsolvable questions that lie beyond the powers of Science and Contrarians.

    One key to my Poe was to bypass this limitation. I hinted to it by suggesting that by taking no position contrarianhood becomes even stronger. It really does: their domain encompasses the universe of all possible questions.

    There’s no way Science can win against contrarians that implement omnipotent skepticism.

  57. An application to what I said earlier about skin the game:

    > I would expect a paper attacking concepts of Polar bear numbers now and in the future would set these facts […]

    That expectation might not be justified. Expressing it may indicate that reading BartV’s post or H17 has not been done beforehand:

    Our paper is first and foremost a characterization of the blogosphere, and how it compares to the scientific literature. We restricted our literature search to scientific articles that investigate both polar bears and sea ice, and that shed light on polar bear ecology and how it may or may not depend on the presence of sea ice.

    […]

    Even though it is not the main scope of our paper, we described the scientific context of polar bear ecology and explained how and why polar bears depend on their sea ice habitat (summarized in my previous blog post).

    https://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2017/12/22/how-blogs-convey-and-distort-scientific-information-about-polar-bears-and-arctic-sea-ice

    High expectations contrarians should read first, and harder.

    Incidentally, BartV’s post contradicts the claim according to which H17 needed to show that the lichurchur is indeed correct. To show that the Contrarian Matrix disregards the overwhelming evidence regarding sea-ice loss and polar bears vulnerability, all H17 needs is to make sure it indeed does.

    Does any high-expectation contrarian dispute H17’s main result?

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/can-contrarians-lose/#comment-109846

    Hat tip to Doc for the Q.

  58. Greg Wellman says:

    ” … read what otters write before commenting, cite your sources, …”

    Otters really hate sealioning. 🙂

  59. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    ” If, understandably, you don’t want to slog your way through somewhat formulaic blogospheric bickering,…”

    Well some of it was quite amusing.

    The idea that the problem of climate change could be solved if only “those lefties” would put their money where their beliefs are and stop, or reduce their use of fossil fuels comes straight out of the ‘consumer as independent intentional agent’ unconstrained by the limited choice of alternative options.
    It ties back to seeing individual choice as purely a matter of disposition, rather than situational.

    Rather like the cure for increasing obesity being a matter of individual choice to stop eating junk food, ignoring the fact that for many there is no socially viable alternative. The system that delivers calories to the population constrains choice.

    The comment that mutation is not purely random, but is non-uniform seems about right. The structural biochemistry constrains random genetic change to either be neutral, (most common) deleterious, or advantageous, IF the environment presents a situation where it can equal or exceed the previous version. (v rare!)
    This is why most of the time Darwinian selection acts to constrain variation and prevent change. And why extinction events promote diversity because of the new ecological opportunities it creates.

    The mutations at the codon level of the genome are uniformly random. But the genome is not a simple list of ingredients, it is also a control system, the HOX ‘toolbox’ that shapes the effects of the underlying mutations. But all this is re-active. Any apparent teleology is in the eye of the beholder.

    I did find the murder/manslaughter discussion odd, perhaps I skimmed to fast, but I saw little mention of the elephant in the room. That across most societies the mitigation or reduction of murder to some less punishable act of killing is predominately used to the benefit of men who have killed women for the socially acceptable reasons of personal jealousy or family honour.

    Try as I might, I can think of no way to tie this back into the subject of contrarian intransigence. So my apologies to Willard !

    (If you want to pursue this conversation further I will watch for comments on my blog?)

  60. Willard says:

    > Otters really hate sealioning.

    !!

  61. Steven Mosher says:

    Hmm

    im gunna do a Token for Climateball

  62. angech says:

    “High expectations contrarians should read first, and harder.”
    Bart – “Most scientific articles as well as science-based blogs assess Arctic sea ice extent to be shrinking and polar bears to be threatened as a result, and most denier blogs take a contrary view on both sea ice and polar bears.”
    The article “Here, focusing on Arctic sea ice and polar bears, we show that blogs that deny or downplay AGW disregard the overwhelming scientific evidence of Arctic sea-ice loss and polar bear vulnerability.”

    I would expect a paper attacking concepts of Polar bear numbers now and in the future would set these facts”

    Just like I would expect discussing scientific ideas to use scientific facts. I would not call that high expectations.
    I did read the article and Bart’s view and the extensive replies and counter replies.
    There seems to be no answer to the factoid that as the ice has shrunk the number of Polar bears has purportedly increased. If the ice disappears completely we could be over run with the critters.

  63. Willard says:

    > Just like I would expect discussing scientific ideas to use scientific facts.

    You’re just repeating something that my quote countered, Doc, but I do expect you to equivocate on “scientific facts” when (1) H17 countains all the relevant facts to draw their conclusions and (2) it’s about an inferential matter anyway.

    Social-network analysis is something the Wegman report used, BTW.

    ***

    > There seems to be no answer to the factoid that as the ice has shrunk the number of Polar bears has purportedly increased.

    You might have missed Marco’s reply, then. Or not.

  64. JCH says:

    Nic Lewis is always right.

  65. izen says:

    Looks like someone has been absorbing the ‘How to talk to climate change skeptics’ handbook. That it is not a knowledge deficit, and the best approach is to engage their economic interests.

    https://www.thelocal.no/20180111/paris-agreement-provides-business-opportunities-norway-pm-solberg-to-trump

    “If I might just add that there are business opportunities in this,” Solberg said in response to the US president’s views on the Paris Agreement.

  66. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    There’s no way Science can win against contrarians that implement omnipotent skepticism.

    It takes two to tango.
    Science can thank them for their contrarian concerns, and go for lunch.
    Not feeding trolls is a win in my books.

    Contrarianism gets all of its power from the mere fact that it can, and does, generate debate.
    Contrarians offer up squirrels.
    If a squirrel gets enough attention to initiate a dog-chase, the contrarian is well on the way to winning – Because the debate has now been legitimized by both parties.
    Now the chase will quickly devolve into meta-debates about the fairness of dog versus squirrel and about what state(ment) will define the end of the chase.
    The initial debate is further legitimized.
    Second-order dogs are now chasing second-order squirrels.
    Otters with their respective porpoises arrive, rabbit-holes appear everywhere, and there are always sacred cows, and elephants in the room.
    Bulls defecate. Crickets.
    The chase takes a tern for the worst.
    Now there is a zoo full of Denizens.

    Some might call it co-dependency. Or even enabling.

    That’s why I left Curry’s dog park – the squirrels were too damn addictive.

  67. Willard says:

    > Contrarianism gets all of its power from the mere fact that it can, and does, generate debate.

    Debates it generates all by itself. We’re stuck with it. It’s there to stay.

    The windmills of the contrarian mind is a resource. I bet we can tap it. If we don’t it’s on us.

    We’re all in it together. The Great Vehicle has become the Great Spaceship. No Buddhas, no Jesuses, no Neos. Too many Captain Ahabs.

    Thankfulness for contrarian concerns is only the first step.

  68. Ragnaar says:

    And why pursue someone admitting they are wrong?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malleus_Maleficarum#Torture_and_confessions

    It is part of a show conducted for others. In the case of the trials it was this entity central to life in that region at the time. How can I be this person that has risen to such heights not be proven to be right? This pursuit was a weakness.

    I think most of us do our jobs that pay us, not extracting admissions of failure from others. I don’t think I have once felt I needed to break a client down as part of what I do. I think the trials have one theory of mental defect suffered by those favoring prosecutions.

    Admissions will sometimes be wrapped in our leniency. When I bargain with the witch I offer a win/win. I give you mercy, if you say you agree with me. Otherwise…

    I will pursue your admission.

  69. JCH says:

    So the descendants of “only square wheels will roll” are walking among us forever?

  70. Steven Mosher says:

    “Admissions will sometimes be wrapped in our leniency. When I bargain with the witch I offer a win/win. I give you mercy, if you say you agree with me. Otherwise…”

    good one.

  71. izen says:

    A specific bet is so rarely taken up, by either side, that it seems of limited utility.

    However the idea of offering a reciprical compromise can appear more promising. I have in the past (on the Delingpole blog!) used the tactic of explaining that while I do not agree with the views about climate change that someone advances there ARE circumstances that would cause me to change my mind, or at least make me doubt my present point of view. I would then suggest what pattern of observations of temperatures, OHC/sea level rise, and acidification, or new theories that would better explain the observations, would prompt me to alter my opinions and ask if THEY had any criteria that would cause them to at least doubt or question the certainty they had about their current understanding.

    It was rarely succesful. In true ClimateBall(TM) fashion it would sometimes be cited as evidence that my because my position on AGW was open to modification, AGW was a weak theory or that I was incapable of holding a valid opinion.

    Skepticism seems less important than dogmatic certitude on many occasions.

    Of course that is not an attitude confined to one side of this debate.

  72. > So the descendants of “only square wheels will roll” are walking among us forever?

    Not even self-immolation works, JCH.

  73. Joshua says:

    Ragnaar –

    And why pursue someone admitting they are wrong?

    IMO, any such expectation, with contrarians/”skeptics” that is, if anyone has such an expectation, is a waste of time.

    There might be a reason to pursue someone admitting they’re wrong if they’re engaging a discussion in good faith, with an intent towards mutual insight. Someone admitting error can be a step towards (mutual} greater understanding

    izen –
    A specific bet is so rarely taken up, by either side, that it seems of limited utility.

    However the idea of offering a reciprical compromise can appear more promising.

    One aspect of a “bet” is that there is, necessarily, an agreed upon framework, based on shared definitions. (although sometimes, later, those definitions might come back under argument).

    And that’s where the notion of “reciprocal compromise” starts to come into play, IMO – although I think of it rather differently, from more of a stakeholder dialog perspective, where shared ownership over the outcome is the agreed-upon, goal. When people agree to share ownership over the outcome, the whole scenario changes. Winning and losing become rather beside the point – which, IMO, is kind of ironic because winning and losing are self-sealing illusions when there is no shared goal.

  74. I think there’s a blurry line between contrarians and trolls. In either case, I find these folks to be a waste of time either because of their personality as contrarians or their troll goal of wasting your time (don’t think of elephants? you can’t avoid the attention trap).

    So, I keep it simple and ignore them or simply say once: “Time will pass and your position will look increasingly wrong. That will happen because you are so wrong.”

    Set a calendar event if you or the contrarian wants to do that to come back and see who looks more correct as each year passes. We know how that will turn out. Don’t let them waste your precious time. Give your time and attention to sensible and intelligent folks who want to engage honestly with you. That’s pretty simple, is it not?

    Warm regards,
    Mike

  75. assman says:

    There are obvious counterexamples. Like for instance E.T. Jaynes who was a huge contrarian on Quantum Field Theory and was decisively proven wrong to the point where he admitted it. He was also a contrarian on probability theory where it appears he is now winning.

  76. Willard says:

    > was decisively proven wrong to the point where he admitted it

    Then he’s not a contrarian anymore, is he?

    ***

    > He was also a contrarian on probability theory where it appears he is now winning.

    Then he’s not a contrarian anymore, is he?

  77. Willard says:

    Regarding subjective probability, there’s this old BBC programme that recalls how Savage mostly rediscovered in the 50s an old paper by Frank Ramsey, who died in his 20s. Richard Braithwaite, his editor, blames himself in part for this predicament.

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