Saturday, June 20, 2015

The "Name One Exception" Challenge

Last time, I shone light briefly on the "name one exception" challenge. This is an argument device that makes it difficult for your opponents to weasel out, using the usual polemical tricks. Under normal circumstances, such stark and spectacular challenges should only rarely be available, since they expose the other person as painted into a corner of his or her own making. Alas, in this era of declining reason and logic -- and skyrocketing dogmatism -- it is actually all-too easy. Like shooting fish in a barrel.

The example I gave last time had to do with the top excuse given by certain Asian-mercantilist states, for their relentlessly predatory trade practices. "We are only taking reparations for the harm done to us under brutal colonialism," goes the justification. Only I then ask: 

"Across four millennia, name for us one example of a great and loyal foreign friend that your nation ever had? One powerful friend who ever came - voluntarily and repeatedly (though not always vigorously or intelligently or with complete purity of motives) - to your nation’s aid, in times of need?"

It's a good example of this method, in practice. Worth reading... and socking away for the international arguments to come.

== The Challenge to our Dogma-Blinded Neighbors ==

But of course, the most worrisome plummet into fact-free dogmatism is happening in the USA, once a domain of moderate-pragmatists. For more than a decade, I have been searching for ways to get around the rigid, defense mechanisms that keep so many of our fellow citizens locked into rigid ideologies, along an insipidly lobotomizing "left-right axis." 

It's not easy! Some brilliant (if traitoriously cynical) minds have concocted rationalizations and incantations that keep radicalized voters murmuring: "I know my side is crazy... but our opponents are worse!"

(Aside: if you visit this space often, you know that I believe one end of the political "spectrum” to be more dangerously crazy, right now. But don't you worry, far-leftists, I spare some jaundiced ire to aim in your direction, now and then. Your wing of craziness is far, far less dangerous to the Enlightenment Experiment at this point in time. But we remember the USSR.  “Less crazy, less numerous, less anti-science, less-often wrong and less dangerous” is hardly an encomium. (Watch:  Why Our Politics Doesn’t Work.) But sure. Let’s turn back to the worse crazies.)

To the point: I have found that my “name one exception” challenges are very effective at weaning intelligent conservatives away from the Confederacy. For example:

Name one statistically significant and attributable metric of U.S. national health that improved across the span of either Bush administration.”

Or: “Name more than a couple of statistically significant and attributable metrics of U.S. national health that did NOT improve dramatically across the span of either the Clinton or Obama administrations.”

Or: Name one “winner” of the Bushite wars, other than Iran, the Saudis and Bush-Cheney family companies.”

Or: Name one industry that - for all their talk - Republicans ever actually deregulated, other than banking-Wall Street and resource extraction… and we know how those sweetheart deals worked out, for the 99.99%.”

(In fact, democrats did all the effective loosening of government in this last half century: from the ICC and CAB and ATT to GPS and the freaking Internet… and any libertarian who ever votes republican is -- to put it frankly -- a hypocrite.)

Or this great old standby:  Name one accurate prediction ever made by Supply Side “economics.”

I have a ton of these “name one exception” challenges, any one of which woud prove that the GOP should never again be trusted with a burnt match.  

Only now I guess there’s two of them I will have to retire!

== Okay, Okay, so you got me, this time… ==

The problem with the "name one exception challenge" is that sometimes, even members of a crazy movement are actually able to meet the challenge.  They are able to come up with an exception.  In fact, here are two of them that were answered!

“Name one fully-red state that has done a damn thing about the utterly criminal cheat known as gerrymandering.”   


“Name a red state that has joined two dozen blue states in (variously) backing out of the insane so-called War on Drugs.”

Taking them in order: more than a dozen blue states have seen citizen revolts to end gerrymandering’s foul, evil and treasonous practice, plus a few purple ones. (Illinois and Maryland are still blue cheaters. Hey, I admitted there are scoundrels on the left. They’re just not as numerous or anywhere near as perfectly disciplined-organized.)

Red citizens and states, in contrast seem perfectly happy with monstrous, vote-stealing cheat-crimes like tortuous districts… except, as someone recently pointed out…

"Prior to 1994, the Idaho Legislature was responsible for redrawing its own districts. In 1993, the Legislature passed SJR 105, creating a constitutional citizen's body that would instead be responsible for drawing the districts. The voters of Idaho passed that constitutional amendment in 1994, with 64% in favor and 36% against."

Idaho did that? Dang! This is the first of my "name one exception" challenges that I am gonna have to retire, then. (I’d still like to see how it worked, in practice. In fact, Idaho is so deeply red, they probably figured it didn’t matter.)

Likewise… it turns out one red state has joined the blue surge against the Drug War.  It is Alaska. Though seriously.  You’d have to call sourdoughs anomalies. Perhaps they’ll lead the libertarian exodus, at long last, from the GOP.  Start a genuine guns n' get govt outta my face party, instead of remaining lap dogs to the Grand Oligarch Party?  Hey I could respect that.

Okay, that’s two cases where challenged folks came up with an actual counter-example! 

Rats. I have found the "name one exception" riffs to be very effective at showing still-sapient conservatives how spectacularly vile the hijackers of their once-proud movement have become. But by revealing a single red state exception, in each case, at least my honestly shows. (Try it, some time. Letting a fact affect your dogma. Especially re climate change.)

I now have to say;

“NEARLY ALL red states support criminal gerrymandering" instead of all

And “NEARLY ALL red states support the staggeringly insane and evil Drug War" instead of all.

I can respond to data and change my assumption sets.  Can you?  Then name exceptions to my other challenges.

 == Oh... by the way...  ==

ocean acidification... ocean acidification... ocean acidification... ocean acidification... ocean acidification... ocean acidification... ocean acidification... ocean acidification... ocean acidification... ocean acidification... ocean acidification... ocean acidification... ocean acidification... ocean acidification... and
ocean acidification...

How is that a “name one exception” challenge?  It amounts to the same thing. Name a way that the debasing of the seas is not (1) blatantly happening, (2) blatantly dangerous to us all, and (3) blatantly the result of atmospheric carbon dioxide created by humans burning Koch/Saudi/etc. products.

The method works.  I got a ton of ‘em.  And so should you.

OH... AND BY THEY WAY,  in case you denialists averted your gaze, let me force you to face the basic fact... ocean acidification... ocean acidification... ocean acidification... ocean acidification... ocean acidification... ocean acidification... ocean acidification... ocean acidification... ocean acidification... ocean acidification... ocean acidification... ocean acidification...

== Another “Name an exception” challenge. ==

Here’s another:
“Can you point to a single positive item on the Republicans’ agenda, now that they control Congress?”

(Other than Keystone XL, which will give the US zero actual oil.)  

 It’s one thing to disagree over agendas.  It’s another to have NO agenda, except versions of “no.” Again, the challenge — name one positive-assertive republican goal.

Banish the Export Import Bank that gave taxpayers a net profit all but one year out of the last forty?  Sure, it benefits exporters of goods and services, not resource extractors, so off-with-its head! But that’s a negative. 

Reverse Obamacare? (Without offering the 6-years-promised replacement?) Ambitious… but negative. 

Same with reversing Obama’s immigration moves. He said he’d stop them the instant Boehner put a credible bill on the floor, like one the GOP leadership agreed-to, six years ago. But no. With American politics killed-dead (deliberately murdered) we’ve been operating on *continuing resolutions* for ages. Now even those are impossible.  And so we lurch. Lurching is the new normal. It’s hilarious and sob-inducing to watch a sane conservative blink and try to talk sense.

Or making a real budget. Take Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma, who said he hoped his colleagues had learned to “stop making the perfect the enemy of the good.” …and… “You make the progress and the deals you can. You’re going to have to bargain, and that means the other side has to get something, and in this House, you have to understand that beating on the table and yelling doesn’t turn 54 into 60.”

Poor Mr. Cole sounds like a republican of the Eisenhower days. Heck, Nixon negotiated. Even Reagan did. Mr. Cole is like a sincere missionary urging a mob of zombies to use a knife and fork while eating braaaaiiins.

What does it mean, when your side has nothing but negatives to put on the table? Not one tangible proposal of any kind... about anything at all?  Seriously, this has nothing to do with "left-vs-right."

It is about being the deep-depressive side of our national bipolar disease.  (Hey dems!  Guess what that makes YOU!)

== More on morons moving the goal posts ==

We have got to do something about the troglodyte tactic called “moving the goal posts.”  That is, declaring that science cannot prove something and then - when it is proved - drawing a new line in the sand and proclaiming this is what we really meant, as the line you’ll never cross! 

In another place, I dissected how this has been the core process by which climate denialism maintains itself. A decade ago, that cult declared that glaciers were advancing everywhere and the real danger was from an ice age. Then it became “what warming?”  Then “Okay the North Pole is melting, but not the south!”  Then: “Okay ice is collapsing in north and south and Greenland, but it’s all natural!”

Such agility is actually quite impressive!  See it also illustrated here, with the latest snarky position of the creationist cult’s Discovery Institute, who used to pooh-pooh the possibility of planets beyond our solar system… in part because that would entail admitting that the light from those worlds was emitted more than 6000 years ago.  Now that we’ve lately discovered thousands of other planets out there, implying truly vast numbers across the univers? Those trillions of planets and galaxies out there are just the natural “slosh” and spillover from God’s process of perfecting one Earth, one sapient species, intended to last just 6000 years.

Until recently, even the possibility that microbial life might exist out there was ruled not only heretical, but also impossible (via crackpot mathematics.) Now? According to this report, the intelligent design crowd doesn’t any longer rule out the existence of what it calls “simple life” on other worlds. However, “we likely won't be satisfied with microbes barely surviving on a moon. … We are looking for much more complex life, with a brain capacity similar to our own, and the ability to modify its surroundings into complex technology.”

That admission would have been anathema, just a few years ago! Now they admit life might evolve?  Just not into anything impressive! And so here we return to the Moving Goal Posts Problem.  The tendency of fanatics to deal with any factual challenge by redefining, with great agility, their own arguments and goals.

Do not think for an instant that this is solely a province of the Mad Right!  A lesser version of the same reflex can be seen in those sectors of the left that utterly refuse to accept the notion that we’ve made real progress, as a species, nation and civilization.  While rightfully demanding further movement against racism, sexism, poverty and environmental neglect, too many activists deem it anathema ever to admit that past actions, by millions of sincere citizens, actually made things better, bringing us to a higher plateau  and raising our standards. 

While the liberal version of Goalpost Shifting may be less harmfully crazy, it is still kind of nuts.  And ultimately unhelpful.


Alex Tolley said...

"“Can you point to a single positive item on the Republicans’ agenda, now that they control Congress?”"

1. Passing the USA Freedom Act which includes banning bulk surveillance under section 215. This may not be positive for DB, but it is a small win for those of us that want to maintain some privacy.

2. Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act of 2012.
reduces one avenue of corruption in Congress and puts them on equal footing with the country.

3. Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act)
Democratizes investment finance

While the Republican controlled congress has passed very few laws, and most of them extensions, the 3 above are, IMO, net benefits from a liberal perspective.
Unfortunately your wording assumes what is a benefit, which will differ depending on ideology.

As a technique, I don't think it makes much sense unless dealing with neutral people. We know people espouse opinions based on tribal affiliation. To support opinions, facts can be made up, or interpreted differently. The costs to debunking "facts" is high. When faced with irrefutably debunked facts, the receiver will actually strengthen their adherence to the debunked facts.

Blue Heron said...

Which asian mercantilist state are you specifically referring to? Hard to come up with an answer without knowing. Alex brings up a good answer with the USA Freedom Act. First time in memory such a significant number of republicans and democrats felt the same way about something, with over 70% of each base hating the idea of unwarranted surveillance.

Konstantin Koptev said...

“Name one “winner” of the Bushite wars, other than Iran, the Saudis and Bush-Cheney family companies.”

While I view these wars as a criminal waste of blood and treasure from an American perspective, I think the Kurds qualify as the exception in this case. An independent, maybe even sovereign, Kurdistan is starting to look more and more likely as the aftermath of Iraq's destruction plays out.

LarryHart said...

Alex Tolley:

Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act of 2012.
reduces one avenue of corruption in Congress and puts them on equal footing with the country.

Republicans didn't control the Senate in 2012, did they?

Sure, they could filibuster anything they wanted, but that's not a means of passing their agenda, just a means of not-passing the Democrats' agenda.

David Brin said...

Geez Blue Heron you are easily pleased. Minor tweaks to an over-reach... and THAT you call actually positive agenda items? How low we've sunk, that you actually think that qualifies as an "exception."

Konstantin -- yeas, I suppose I should add the Kurds. But seriously. It's happenstance, and backwash from the real winners.

Alex Tolley said...

@Larry - Fair point, the Senate was Democratic majority. The bill was introduced by Lieberman (Ind) so I will retract that example.

Duane Hewitt said...

David Brin the casting of stones by you regarding moving the goal posts is very interesting considering your history of alarmism over global warming/climate change which appears to have now shifted to alarmism over ocean acidification. I expect a response from you which involves "denier" labelling but little of substance addressing the failure of IPCC climate models to predict with any degree of accuracy changes in global temperature over the past two decades. The shift from "global warming" terminology to "climate change" reflects repositioning due to this contrary data. The term climate change is really nonsensical because climate is always changing. The fundamental question which remains undetermined is the extent of human impact.

Paul451 said...

Duane Hewitt,
"The shift from "global warming" terminology to "climate change" reflects repositioning due to this contrary data."

{sigh} You whine about being labelled a "denier" when you mindlessly regurgitate their propaganda like this? How many times does this need to be debunked. Research papers always used both terms since the '50s, with "climate change" always being the most common in formal papers, and "global warming" being the more informal. Only the media shifted from using "global warming" to "climate change" between the '80s and '90s.

But that's the point, isn't it, you are only interested in the public perception of an argument, not in the actual science, nor in actual skepticism.

Paul SB said...

Paul 452, the change of terminology argument is not the only deeply ignorant statement Duane Hewitt made here. The ocean acidification argument, for one to ocean acidification, as ocean acidification is a direct consequence of the unnatural build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Since the only other thing that can cause this is massive, continent-covering volcanic outgassing as happened in the Permian Extinction, the anthropogenic source is quite obvious. Another stunningly stupid argument is the no change in global temperatures over the last two decades horse shit. I've explained this one here before. The walking down the up escalator technique, which is outright dishonesty. I'll include the youtube link to an episode of Frontline that shows this graphically. Slide forward to 17 minutes and watch for the next 2 minutes. It's a simple enough underhanded tactic the right wing is using to lie to its base.

I doubt Mr. Hewitt will bother, though. People who regurgitate this kind of blatant propaganda are usually very guilty of confirmation bias. They just don't want to hear anything that contradicts their preconceived notions, especially if they think it is in their best financial interests or are socially entrained by a monolithic peer group.

Tacitus2 said...

I've given up (after one or two minor successes) on this "Challenge" theme. The issue is how things are judged. I have said repeatedly that it is David's site to do with as he pleases. Also that a certain degree of vitriol is counterproductive to actually having a positive impact on anybody. There are so many ways that an example could be dismissed out of hand...its plain old demographics, or it reflects something good or bad by the preceding administration, or it is not a good/bad thing at all. Tiresome. Honestly, so long as the Host is judge and jury we see nothing more than his opinions and those of a brave few willing to be Contrary. Not that there is anything wrong with either.

If we were operating on a "Captain of the Ship" basis I think a wider ranging discussion could be generated. All Ship Captains - and all Presidents - are very much human beings. They all do things that turn out well.....or not. As the person in charge of the ship (of State) they bear primary responsibility for everything that happens. Fair? No. Exceptions? Sure. A first Lt. who assumes command when the Captain is swept off the bridge by grapeshot or gale is not responsible for water in the bilges. He, or she, is responsible for what happens in the months and years to come. How did damage repairs go? Did they successfully sink or disengage from the enemy? If you leave port knowing that the bearings are making unhappy noises and schedule an around the world cruise, you bear a lot of the fault when you are adrift off of Tobago. Great captains prevail over adversity. Dimwits run into rocks on clear sailing days.

Just a few nautical thoughts.

Happy Father's Day for those of you to whom such sentiments are applicable.


Alex Tolley said...

Also that a certain degree of vitriol is counterproductive to actually having a positive impact on anybody.

Absolutely. You don't win arguments that way. To win an argument both sides needs a common worldview otherwise facts can mean different things. This plays out in ideological beliefs about the goals of society and hence redistribution of wealth and income, public vs private goods and services, etc. This leads to one side seeing deficit financing as good whilst the other sees this as bad. Same facts, different interpretations.

In the UK, falling public financing (austerity) is seen as good by conservatives but bad by "liberals". Interestingly the "fiscal balance" meme is also also shared by the Labour and the media, despite this being against economic theory (which is in turn disputed by ideological viewpoints).

As Randy Olson has suggested ("Don't Be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style"), just trying to appeal to rational thinking is not sufficient, you need to persuade the emotions. As educated liberals emphasize rational thinking, the arguments don't have the required impact, and of course not everyone plays by the rules of debate.

David Brin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Brin said...

Tacitus I appreciate your metaphors and suggestions, however I am also frustrated. The whole and entire purpose of "name an exception" is to illustrate that we are not in a situation wherein sweet reason reigns. If ANY of these challenges stand unanswered, then it is objective proof that the American right has gone insane.

That should matter. But, instead of either coming up with the exceptions... or else admitting the problem... fellows like you always try to change the subject to matters of civility. Causing folks like me to blanch and seek ways to avoid tumbling into guffaws --

-- because there is no comparison between the incivility of the American right and its opponents.

Finally, you imply, over and over again, that you HAVE come up with large-scale, unambiguous and attributable exceptions to my "name one exception" challenges... and I have repeatedly asked you to name them.

I have shown willingness to back off, when such explicit exceptions are shown. In this very blog I admitted two exceptions. That ALL BUT ONE of the red states avidly support gerrymandering and vote-stealing cheating, but there is an exception...

.... and ALL BUT ONE of the red states avidly support the utterly discredited "War on Drugs," but there is an exception. The conclusion of any sane observer will still be that the present version of US conservatism is wedded to cheating and fact-resistant prohibition. But the PURITY of the challenge is lost.

Oh there are others! UTAH is an exception to the general rule that red states are net tax parasites whose children engage in more teen sex and STDs and domestic violence and substance abuse. See? I am willing to look, when exceptions arise.

So? Show us the supply side "economics" prediction that ever (on a large scale) came true re tax cuts for the rich reducing deficits. One will do!

If you cannot... might you be willing to admit that there is nothing "subjective" about the core GOP "economics" catechism simply... being... flat-out... and spectacularly... wrong?

Might you be willing to glance at the other challenges with anything other than "Brin's at it again" sighs and shrugs?

Because whether or not you find "exceptions," every one of those challenges shows that your side is led by monsters, not by men and women worthy of Barry Goldwater. Or even Newt Gingrich.

locumranch said...

To echo Tacitus, the 'Name One Exception' challenge is of limited utility because (1) it assumes a 'Captain of Ship' fallacy and (2) the outcome (goalpost) endpoint is relatively soft, 'moving' and therefore arbitrary. To whit: (1) 'W' Bush may have started the entire Afghanistan fiasco (Operation Enduring Freedom) yet almost 75% of Afghanistan-related US casualties occurred under the watch of (Captain) Warmonger Obama; and (2), while the Democrats like to claim full credit for all the 'good things' related to the 1965 Medicare Benefit Program, they absolutely REFUSE to accept responsibility for its current 'Greek Exit' levels of INSOLVENCY, preferring to cast the blame on the always-evil Republicans.

Now, on the ever popular topic of 'Ocean Acidification', it is important to note that (1) the current atmospheric pCO2 is 403.7 ppm (as of May 2015), (2) the current estimated average Ocean pH is 8.1, and (3), according to an empiric titration of CO2 solubility (in pure water) by Marozewski, "As CO2 doubles (100%) from 350 ppm to 700 ppm, pH decreases by 0.15 units, or acidity increases by 30%", MEANING that we can expect the average Ocean pH to stabilize at a still BASIC 7.95 units when our atmospheric CO2 approaches 700ppm if we ASSUME the nonsensical existence of UNBUFFERED PURE WATER oceans, MEANING that the current 'OCEAN ACIDIFICATION' battle cry is a bit of an exaggeration, and a more appropriate cry would be 'LIMITED OCEAN NEUTRALIZATION', which would most likely be partially ameliorated by biological induction (the ideal CO2 concentration for photosynthesis being MEASURED at 800ppm), reduced industrial CO2 production (as the petroleum bubble bursts), an increased global temperature (which would in turn reduce the solubility of CO2 in water), and the REAL WORLD Ocean Bicarbonate Buffering System. No doubt, however, OCEAN ACIDIFICATION will remain the preferred cry of histrionic CHICKEN LITTLES everywhere.


David Brin said...

Such utterly stunning hypocrisy is almost stupefying. Clearly our ocean life is adapted to a somewhat alkaline ocean. You want to be prim about "acidification?" Sorry, but I used it absolutely correctly since it speaks of the DIRECTION of change... and along that direction, whole ocean ecosystems are dying.

But all right, then we are De-BASING the oceans. Writhe out of THAT one!

Such hypocritical (and utterly failed) nitpicking is unworthy of a mind meriting respect.

Paul SB said...

I took a look at loci's site, and while it is extremely long, I found a lot of red flags that made its veracity doubtful. Let's just take this little gem to begin with:
"One cannot deduce a past static state using a dynamic conditions method."

We have discussed this one more than once before, but the denialist fools keep using this same argument again and again, assuming that if they repeat it often enough people will fall for it (the Ad nauseam fallacy: or among many others). Once again, no one who knows anything about climate is assuming that climate has EVER been static. Modern climate models are based on dynamic balance, meaning fluctuation within a range or variation.

They also show a graph of atmospheric CO2 concentrations going back to the Cambrian, and make the laughable comment that life on Earth survived even when CO2 levels were at their highest point, not mentioning that fact that the highest point on the graph represents the End-Permian Extinction, a.k.a. The Great Dying, when 90% of all life on Earth went extinct. They note that CO2 concentrations were quite high during the Carboniferous, but don't mention that warm-blooded animals did not exist at this time, and there were insect walking around that were 30 feet long. Likewise CO2 levels were high during the Mesozoic when dinosaurs were the dominant life form, but this only seems unproblematic if you assume that it would be possible for humans and dinosaurs to co-exist. This is pretty unlikely, not for the "Jurassic Park" reason, that they would eat all of us, but because the temperatures need to keep such huge, cold-blooded animals alive would coagulate our blood in a heartbeat. I don't know if Michael Crichton had ever heard of Bergman's Rule, but anyone who has knows why "Jurassic Park" could never happen.

Whoever created this site (Friends of the Sea?) is assuming that their readership will not read carefully and will not have the background knowledge to realize how utterly stupid their arguments are. They are also guilty of a Strawman here, as they are assuming that climatologists claim that climate change will destroy all life on Earth. If it gets as hot as it did during the Mesozoic, there are quite a few life forms that will be able to adapt to it. Humans are not likely to be among them. Most mammalian life is likely to go extinct, to say nothing of ocean life.

How many fallacious arguments here? Make sure we add Confirmation Bias and Belief Perseverance. It's all good!

Paul SB said...

Oh, and Dr. Brin has talked about the acidification as reducing the basic pH level before, too. But that's the best these people can do, apparently.

Tacitus2 said...

Forget about anything I am "implying", what I am saying is that I have snuck a few grudging acceptances out of you under the prevailing rule set. (you gave me the nod for GW Bush favorably impacting HIV death rates in Africa for one thing.).
And I am also saying, not implying, that the utility of this sort of "Challenge" looks to me, and evidently to some others on the topic, to be of less importance than you ascribe to it.
Civility is good. I strive for it. But that is not the main point at all.

David Brin said...

Tacitus, yes, The Bush generated HIV efforts were valid. Hence my challenge is to find beneficial outcomes for the people and society called the United States of America. We thought we had hired the Bushes to do that.

In fact, the Saudis, living next door to Africa, probably okayed the HIV initiative for their own good.

But here's another "name an exception challenge." One time when a Bush ever thwarted the interests of the Saudis, even when a dozen Saudi nationals directly attacked the US doing us the worst direct harm since WWII.

LarryHart said...

Duane Hewitt:

The shift from "global warming" terminology to "climate change" reflects repositioning due to this contrary data.

The term shifted only because deniers liked to point out local areas (such as Chicago) which experience colder weather as proof that "global warming" isn't happening. To me, "global warming" accurately describes a situation where the earth's average temperature is increasing, but some people with a straight face claims that it can only apply if the globe is warming everywhere.

Thus, the ridicualous situation in...2010, was it?...where the Vancouver Winter Olympics could barely generate enough man made snow becaue it was so warm in Canada in January, but because it snowed in Washington D.C., that "proved" that global warming was a hoax.

Jumper said...

Debunking the Myth: Obama's Two-Year Supermajority
Not on topic but we all need reminding, so as to deal with the trolls.

Tony Fisk said...

Mr. Hewitt would like it framed that Brin has *shifted* his 'alarmism' from global warming to ocean acidification. I would suggest that 'extended his 'concern' might be more accurate. One does not handle a marathon by panicking.

Alex Tolley said...

Let's be clear what pH is: the -ve log of H+

Thus a change in ocean pH from 8.25 (5.62*10^-9)to 8.14(7.24 * 10^-9), is really

100(7.24 - 5.62)/5.62 % = 29% change in H+ activity. Not so small.

Experiments show the impact on calcium shell forming organisms, confirming observations in the oceans, especially of foraminifera abundance and coral reef growth.

David Brin said...

Tony do not bother with Mr. Hewitt. Anyone too dumb to see the connection between human-generated CO2 causing climate change and human-generated CO2 causing ocean acidification is too far gone down dogmatism to be reasoned with.

Joel Greenwood said...

Although I remember my grade 11 Chemistry class showing how someone blowing into a cloudy liquid (indicating basic) becoming clear (indicating acidic), I'm not sure most of the general population would. I contend it's non-obvious unless it's explained.

And I don't believe climate deniers will wait for the explanation, since they know it's leading to demonstrate climate change is 'factual'. Their "tribes" don't speak about models or experiments to test their theories, they only speak about scientific snow-balls to weaken the climate change position, throwing different ones as needed.

raito said...

Personally, I prefer that the goalposts move. It indicates retreat. And it's certainly preferable to not having them move at all.

You aren't going to get agreement from fanatics. So having them chip away at their own position is probably the best you can hope for.

And on an earlier subject, it always amuses me to see English referred to as the 'lingua franca' of business and technology. It would also be interesting to see the graph of who speaks what language vs. how much wealth they have.

Alex Tolley said...

"...One time when a Bush ever thwarted the interests of the Saudis, even when a dozen Saudi nationals directly attacked the US doing us the worst direct harm since WWII."

This challenge assumes that the correct answer is that the US must thwart Saudi Arabia. But this really begs the question of what the correct response should have been. I well remember the sentiments after the Trade Towers attack. There was a lot of "lynch mob" sentiment, including "turn the M.E. into a sea of glass".

But consider. Suppose a radical Evangelical Church group bombed the Bank of China building in Hong Kong causing similar damage. Should China have gone to War with the US, or perhaps another country it didn't like but now had an excuse due to some linkage? I think a rational response would be to treat this as any other non-state actor crime and insist on some action by the US to deal with the Church or extradite them to China for trial. I would certainly think that most US citizens would be appalled that they had to suffer the consequences for a group that they had no association with.

The true crime here is not whether Saudi Arabia should have suffered the consequences of its own citizens committing crimes on US soil, but rather why was this turned into a war with Iraq and Afghanistan by the then US President (and continued with the current one).

Alex Tolley said...

@raito And on an earlier subject, it always amuses me to see English referred to as the 'lingua franca' of business and technology.

One reason is that English is highly adaptable to new concepts and the creation of new words. French in particular is periodically "kept pure" by banning Anglicisms like "Le Weekend". Chinese is similar in terms of not very adaptable. Listen to any Chinese natives speaking about technology or finance and you will hear a lot of English words scattered in the Cantonese(? I cannot tell whether it is Cantonese or Mandarin - I just assume the former). In Silicon Valley, Indians communicate in English, even when they might have cause to use a native language, like Urdu. Science publications are still dominant in English.

The good news is that real-time translation is getting better and better. I cannot speak Spanish, but I have used Google Translate and an iPhone speech translator to communicate with Spanish speakers. It works, although it is still clunky.

Alex Tolley said...

@raito "Personally, I prefer that the goalposts move. It indicates retreat. And it's certainly preferable to not having them move at all."

I agree. That is what we have seen with organized religion as science has answered questions that the Church has deemed to be in their purview. Apart from radical Christianity, the establishment Christian Churches have accepted evolution, the age of the universe, and slowly but surely the bounds that constrain God. far better to keep pushing the boundaries so that the goalposts must be moved, because then that very moving can be used as part of the argument for easing further movement.

I see moving the goalposts as evidence the other side is retreating and resetting their argument. far better than denial of facts.

Alex Tolley said...

Further thought on "moving the goalposts". Objecting to this reflects a binary win/lose mentality. In a combatative, complete victory must be gained, debate, goalpost moving is really annoying. But it can also be seen in Sun Tzu's advice: "supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

LarryHart said...

Alex Tolley:

"...One time when a Bush ever thwarted the interests of the Saudis, even when a dozen Saudi nationals directly attacked the US doing us the worst direct harm since WWII."

This challenge assumes that the correct answer is that the US must thwart Saudi Arabia.

No, it assumes that our interests and the Saudis' interests don't correlate 100%

locumranch said...

More on the 'binary mentality' of climate debate:

To identify those who fail to accept every aspect of climate change narrative as 'deniers' is to engage in disingenuous false dichotomy, the intellectually bankrupt equivalent of arguing that any colour that is not 'black' must therefore be 'white', and so it is with the gospel of ocean 'acidification'.

Current Ocean Acidification dogma fails to differentiate between Ocean Eutrophication (The ACIDIFICATION of the ocean in response to the addition of artificial or natural substances, mainly nutrients, river sediment, phosphates, detergents, fertilizers & sewage, most prominent in coastal areas) and 'Evil' Ocean Acidification attributed to human-mediated CO2 release, even though this is a false distinction because CO2 represents a de facto equilibrium-dependent NUTRIENT necessary for the oceanic ecosystem.

Most certainly, the oceans are undergoing human-mediated multifactorial de-BASE-ment; however, it remains unclear as to whether or not CO2 is the primary driver (the causative agent) or merely a reddish herring when compared with other multifactorial CAUSES like sewage, CO2, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, medications, agricultural runoff & over-fishing (etc), especially when the very idea of a global 'average' oceanic pH is (essentially) a fictional convenience that assumes pre-existent Steady State Equilibrium rather than an unbalanced dynamic state seeking the new equilibrium.

That, and the fact that oceanic pH is known to vary widely based on season, temperature, depth, location, current & the degree of mixing, and the human prejudice to prioritize higher end O2-dependent oceanic life over that of phytoplankton plants (the so-called 'dead zones'), even though these 'dead zone' plants BENEFIT from a LOWER pH, lower O2 levels and higher amounts of CO2, and produce all the food and (about) 70 to 90% of our globe's life-giving oxygen that higher animals rely on.


LarryHart said...

Alex Tolley:

@raito And on an earlier subject, it always amuses me to see English referred to as the 'lingua franca' of business and technology.

One reason is that English is highly adaptable...

I might be wrong, but I thought he found it amusing that proponents of English-language supremacy would use an obviously non-English term like "lingua franca" to explain the superiority of English.

Alfred Differ said...

I wouldn't bet on a independent Kurdistan. They aren't a united people except in the face of outside opposition... and then only barely.

It is far more likely they will be divided into the historical two or three groups they know for they live on the borderland between two natural empires. They will be divided between the Persians, Ottomans (Turks nowadays), and anyone who can keep Mesopotamia out of the hands of the first two.

It's not a matter of destiny.
It's a matter of them not getting along with each other.

LarryHart said...


Debunking the Myth: Obama's Two-Year Supermajority...

Geez, I'm going from memory here, but IIRC, there were only about five months (between Al Franken's ascension after the months of court challenges and Ted Kennedy's death) in which the Democrats had the 60 votes necessary to block a filibuster if you counted Independents Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman among the 60 (the latter having campaigned for John McCain against Obama in 2008). It was never a sure thing that all sixty non-Republican Senators would hold the line. For the other 19 months of President Obama's first term, there were always enough Republicans to successfully filibuster as long as they all voted to maintain the filibuster. And they always did.

Paul SB said...

Dr. Brin,

You recently wrote: "Tony do not bother with Mr. Hewitt. Anyone too dumb to see the connection between human-generated CO2 causing climate change and human-generated CO2 causing ocean acidification is too far gone down dogmatism to be reasoned with."

But doesn't this logic also apply to locumranch? Hewitt has spoken out here once, and has not yet returned with any kind of follow up. Now I am not holding my breath, but it is possible Hewitt might spend some time looking at sources of information outside the Fox/Beck/Limbaugh realm and concede a point or two. Loci, on the other hand, keeps coming back with the same attacks, attacks that are easily swatted away, yet he never gets it.

In his latest: he conflates ocean acidification with eutrophication, a very different issue, and one easily differentiated, as ocean acidification that comes from CO2 dissolving from the atmosphere into water turns into carbonic acid, which is easily distinguished from other types of acids. A couple paragraphs later he claims that we are prejudiced in favor of animal life, demonstrating that he does not know what eutrophication actually does. Phytoplankton behave like terrestrial plants in that they proliferate when the nutrients are available, but when those nutrients run out they suffer an enormous die off. The dead zones created by phytoplankton blooms are dead because the phytoplankton have died off (which would be natural except that our run-off allows the phytoplankton to grow many times their natural biomass) and absorb most of the dissolved oxygen as they decay. So there is first a die-off of an unnatural amount of phytoplankton, followed by a die-off of oxygen-breathing animals as the oxygen is depleted by decay. Now he is correct that the CO2 produce during a eutrophication event might be indistinguishable from atmospheric CO2, except that you can measure CO2 levels in eutrophied dead zones and compare that to places outside the dead zones. (There are also isotopic techniques that could be used here, but I am unaware of any case in which they have been used.)

Another beauty: "oceanic pH is known to vary widely based on season, temperature, depth, location, current & the degree of mixing" As if the oceanographers don't know this?!

and: "the very idea of a global 'average' oceanic pH is (essentially) a fictional convenience that assumes pre-existent Steady State Equilibrium" How many times have we been over this one? Yet he never answers these things, he just comes back with more of the same. It seems logical that what you wrote about Hewitt should apply here, too.

Alex Tolley said...

@Larry hart - on the contrary. Although it sounds foreign (Italian) and may have originated there, it is now an accepted English phrase, much as we use "beef" which is derived from the French "boeuf". English has both evolved and adapted foreign words, proving its adaptability.

Alfred Differ said...

Regarding goal post movement, I have learned to accept it because these aren't really arguments about science theories. They are economic arguments. The deniers might be trying to pick on science evidence and models, but their real concern is the economic changes that will occur if we accept the science evidence. Binary win/loss demands work in science where we are supposed to stick to falsifiable statements, but economics isn't even remotely like that. One way to see this is to extend one of the 'Name One' games. Instead of focusing just on Supply Side Voodoo, consider all of Keynesian economics. Name one ex ante claim the Keynesians made that came true. There are plenty of ex post claims that work, so focus on predictions made before the fact. Goal post moving is just the classic retreat of those who cannot face an argument or refutation in a non-science field of study.

@Alex: I think you Bank of China example is weak due to the fact that China can't actually project force all that far, let alone against us in our homeland. Lobbing a few missiles isn't enough. They have an insignificant navy, so what are they going to do if they were attacked the way you describe? Stop trading with us? Pfft.

David Brin said...

Um let's paraphrase:

"Okay de-basing works. But I'll just move the goal posts. Sure, I admit the ocean Ph is changing because of human activity... but I will smirk and snark because even though most scientists think the principal cause is humans fouling our nest with excess CO2... I MAINTAIN that instead it COULD be a bit more due to humans fouling their nest with excess chemical fertilizers, pesticides, medications, agricultural runoff & over-fishing!

"Aha! I gotcha then! And because I imagine I see a flaw in the eco nut narrative -- because I can point at OTHER kinds of nest-fouling -- that means we don't gotta do Nuthin' about humans fouling our nest, in principle! You chicken littles!"

To which I respond that you, sir, are simply and purely certifiably insane.

As for the Saudis. Notice the illogic. How "name one exception to the GOP ALWAYS doing what the princes want... the polemical trick is to claim that I want us to NEVER do what they want, as a matter of principle and policy.

It is a deceitful trick

Alex Tolley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex Tolley said...

"oceanic pH is known to vary widely based on season, temperature, depth, location, current & the degree of mixing"

Rather like the temperature is different depending on where you are, the time of year and the time of day.

IIRC, wasn't that the argument of some climate change deniers - "The difference between day and night time temperatures is far larger than any claimed global average change. I still occasionally read Jerry Pournelle still arguing that no one can measure 1/10th degree changes so AGW is false. Pournelle isn't stupid or uneducated, so it is hard to tell whether this is now just ideological affiliation or an unwillingness to face facts.

Someone should try a more humorous approach, perhaps along the lines of the Monty Python, Life of Brian scene "All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us? " Substitute Environmentalists, Climatologists, etc.

Alex Tolley said...

Rather than making a true analogy, the point was to reverse roles and put oneself in other people's position. I hope my intention was clear.

[China] have an insignificant navy, so what are they going to do if they were attacked the way you describe? Stop trading with us? Pfft.

I rather think that exemplifies the US attitude. "Nyah, nyah. My military is bigger than yours". After all who would even think of nuking the M.E if there were true retaliatory consequences? We have argued that the US police need to be made more accountable. Are we saying the US shouldn't be accountable? Oh for a multipolar world.

Alex Tolley said...

@Larry Hart
This challenge assumes that the correct answer is that the US must thwart Saudi Arabia.

No, it assumes that our interests and the Saudis' interests don't correlate 100%

As with DB, you have twisted words to avoid even answering the question.

greg byshenk said...

Alex Tolley
I thought the EU doesn't want Greece to default is that this could infect other weak states. IIRC, the same argument was made for Eire, so every effort was made for Eire to comply.
I'm not Laurent, but I don't see a response, so I'll comment here. When the crisis started, there was a lot of concern about possible 'contagion', but in the years since, there has been sufficient change that the consensus among European finance ministers, central bankers, and the like, is that a Greek default would have only limited impact on the rest of the Eurozone. Of course the rest of the EU states would prefer that Greece remain in the Eurozone -- but not at -any- cost.

Paul SB said...


"Someone should try a more humorous approach, perhaps along the lines of the Monty Python, Life of Brian scene "All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us? " Substitute Environmentalists, Climatologists, etc."

Love the idea, but maybe you should start just with scientists in place of Romans. I have known so many people who loudly claim they hate science and all scientists, while taking cholesterol medication made possible by science, driving motor vehicles made possible by science, living past 40 made possible by science, taking fertility pills made possible by science, and ranting over the internet made possible by science.

But for obvious reasons I would hesitate to try, "He's a scientist and he's okay, he sleeps all night and he works all day..."

raito said...


Sure, the Academie says it's trying to keep the French language 'pure', but that's not something that works. Go to France and hear young people speak. They're not using 'pure' French.


It amuses me that 'lingua franca' meant 'the language everyone uses when they can't speak their native tongues', while the direct translation means French, because that used to be the language that was the common one (and used for diplomacy quite a bit).

There really aren't any 'pure' languages any more.

So referring to English using a phrase that refers to French is what's amusing.

Marino said...


"lingua franca" has little to do with French, it was the term modeled after an Arabic term meaning "the language of the Fereng" i.e. "of the Westernes"... in the "lingua franca" itself, which was the trade language of the Mediterranean, based mostly on Italian and Spanish (no French), then the term passed in general usage in most European language in the meaning of any "trade pidgin", any language mutually understandable between different cultures, and now it's applied to English as common second language.

locumranch said...

As I actually BELIEVE in CO2-mediated climatological effects, I may actually be as "insane" as our host suggests. What I don't accept, however, are these highly emotional, alarmist & non-empiric climate change projections (these 'chicken little-isms') that have all but replaced unemotional scientific reason & discourse in the media-based battle to 'win the hearts, minds & FUNDING' of society in general.

DENIERS like J Pournelle (who points out the difficulty of documenting a 1/10th of a degree temperature change in the face of 'margin for error') and I have valid points that the current climate change narrative has not yet to be proven by traditional scientific criteria, but we are ignored & 'dissed' by flibbergibbets who fail to differentiate between equilibrium states (Stable v. Dynamic) and appropriate (Closed v. Open) system methodologies, and fail to comprehend that our oceanic bicarbonate system (which determines oceanic pH) is both an OPEN and DYNAMIC system which (1) sequesters CO2 in an active fashion, (2) receives a constant influx of raw materials (nutrients & CO2) from terrestrial sources and (3) can NEVER be said to 'be at equilibrium' BECAUSE a 'Stable' Equilibrium presupposes a 'Closed' System.


David Brin said...

Why do I even read his drivel? Again, nitpicking the guys and gals who actually know the Navier-Stokes equations from their behinds is permissible and even welcome, in science. But Using nit-pickery as an excuse to ignore the advice of the folks who actually understand all this stuff is... yes... utter and complete insanity.

Questioning authority figures is a good reflex... science teaches it! But sane people do it WHILE taking precautions and reasonable TWODA measure, just in case the people who actually know stuff may have a clue what they are talking about... and in science they usually do. And nitpicking amateurs and politically motivated cable news shows usually (not always) do not!

Especially when the experts at issue transformed the joke of a 4 hour "weather report" into spectacularly useful TEN DAY forecasts of today, using cellular gas-vapor balance models that span an entire planet, using exactly the same methods and tools that also have successfully modeled climate on EIGHT PLANETS. Such geniuses might conceivably be in error here and there and skeptical questions are welcomed by then (unlike any previous "priesthood.")

But it is another thing for morons to shove the burden of proof onto those who actually know stuff, declaring that any nitpick should cancel all TWODA.

Delay the cancer treatments until every other crackpot theory has been tried! Do that, oh confederates. Please. Just do that.

Tacitus2 said...

"Delay the cancer treatments until every other crackpot theory has been tried! Do that, oh confederates. Please. Just do that."

Somewhat immoderate sentiments but they do bring up an interesting point. Sometimes delaying or even forgoing treatment turns out to be exactly the right thing to do. Oh, certainly not always. Saw a new onset Type I diabetic last night. Good parents, they brought the lad in after only a couple of days of non specific illness. The deluded folks who try a week of intense prayer first are getting it wrong.

But we have seen and continue to see instances where some diseases are treated with aggressive tactics approaching furor. Prostate cancer. Some very early breast cancers. At least with the first, and perhaps with the second, a calmer look at the science suggests watchful waiting is better than knives and chemo.

But, but, but! You must be anti-man, or anti-woman! Nah. You have to recognize that the pressure to DO SOMETHING can be intense and that some factors turn up the heat quickly. Say the word cancer and associate it with one of a person's favorite parts and logic can go flying out the window. And of course the medical system stands ever ready to do ever more, making a tidy profit along the way.

In my current line of work I have fewer opportunities to preach moderation. People come to ER so that things happen. And that's ok. I had a young guy show up with what looked like nonsense symptoms and turned out to have cancer everywhere. I told him to dig in and fight, I suspected it would turn out to be testicular primary and that he had a good chance.

On other occasions I have to face people with metastatic, non treatable cancers who come in with full code status. I have a talk with the this a fully discussed and resolved question?

I won't get hauled into the Climate Change litany that so many Contrary Brin discussions drift into. I guess in place of the discussion you actually wanted to have in the original post it is....well, better than dead band space.

But will those who are not ready to make immediate radical moves to Fight the Evil turn out to be deluded fools, soon to die in agony? Maybe. But it is always possible that the Science needs a dispassionate review by those with no profit motive. There are guys who declined radical prostatectomy who are alive, kicking and with better continence for their skepticism.

Because my sole remaining function here is to feed David new material I will say that my analogy is imperfect. The person who makes a bad call on cancer treatment does not drag us along with him/her.


Alfred Differ said...

@David: If someone moves the goal posts by admitting the ph of the ocean is changing while using the nest fouling narrative as an alternate explanation, they are doing us a favor by pointing out alternative avenues of research (which we can argue they should help fund) and by retreating from ground we can now claim. The deceit isn’t in the moving of the goal posts. It lies in their attempt to ‘do nuthin’ because a plausible alternate narrative can be found. The correct counter-response is to point out that doing nothing is no more morally defensible for nest fouling than it is for CO2 dumping. Both are forms of nest fouling, so TWODA applies equally.

Some of the people I’ve met who want to do nothing have two points I have to consider when I’m in a rational mood.

1: Doing nothing might be better than doing something stupid. They point to some of the nuts who want us to devolve back to the Stone Age as their justification for not compromising. I usually counter with a demand that they should co-opt the movement to displace the stupid responses with sane ones. Doing nothing is like choosing not to fight evil in that case.

2: Doing nothing now doesn’t mean doing nothing later once some of the TWODA options are less expensive. While global markets continue to expand and billions more of us get involved, the odds for black swans being found increase, don’t they? They argue that we can afford to wait for a black swan we can be fairly certain will occur if we don’t siphon off the world’s wealth into ineffective early efforts and possibly prevent the very pain that would motivate the creation of black swans. I usually counter with the observation that some swans bite and that reliance upon inherently unpredictable events smacks of blind faith in markets.

Both complaints lead to potential compromise solutions, but I have to tolerate them moving the goal posts to get them to talk to me.

This all reminds me of a similar situation where atheists press against faith arguments and believers have to retreat with each advance of science. The wiser scholars among the believers know better than to put forward a ‘God of the Gaps’ argument because they know their history of retreat. Most lay people aren’t that well educated, though. The Denialists who keep moving their goal post are actually using a similar gap argument, so they can be attacked the same way. Unless the world is going to end tomorrow from our nest fouling, we should be pressing the attack as one of our own TWODA options. As long as we are gaining ground, we should keep pushing while we demand their surrender even if we know they won’t surrender.

Alfred Differ said...

@tacitus2: I had a kidney doctor a couple years ago explain to me that because of my delay in showing up at the ER to seek hospital admission, I had all the symptoms they needed to correctly diagnose my Wegener's situation. If I had shown up earlier with only a few of them, he explained the odds of a correct diagnosis were low. Of course, I had shown up, but only in front my family practice doctor who starts from very different assumptions than ER doctors do.

Waiting made it a close scrape and my family really, really didn't like that. What ended the wait was my family doctor giving up. From the perspective of someone who demands that SOMETHING BE DONE this looks lame. In hindsight, though, I think it worked well enough. I'm in good shape now.

I suspect we will have to do something similar regarding the climate.

Tacitus2 said...


Wegener's, now there's one I have not seen in a while. I believe the name has been changed as the good Dr. W. had some unfortunate involvement with Third Reich experimentation. Glad you are doing well, it is a condition that was once invariably lethal.

You are wise to see that the difference between ER and FP practice is one of perspective. I have done both and am not/was not smarter in either role. A big part of it naturally is that the second or third (or hat tip to Larry) sixth or seventh doctor to ponder an issue has the advantage over his or her predecessors.

My mantra in ER work, which actually does encompass a lot of complicated diagnostic stuff that should be seen elsewhere, is this:

I can listen to a story and be 90% sure of what is going on. Technology used wisely can hopefully get me to 99%. I never get to be 100% sure of anything.


David Brin said...

Tacitus... your dictum is fine. And yet we must answer ... TWODA. Perhaps rushing to the doctor too early can be wrong, if he declares "let's remove that lung, just in case there's a tumor in there!"

It is not wrong if she says: "Well, it's too soon to ell if that's a tumor... but might you consider stopping chain smoking, while we find out?"

Those who would have you conflate those two things and declare all doctors to be evil fools... those people are behind the war on science. They are enemies of your children.

And they control your "side."

raito said...


Thanks for pointing that out. Less amusing, but still amusing.

And you will note that I'm not going to say that we should scrap the public education system that gave me a wrong bit of knowledge. At least there's a bit of French in it! :)

And Dr. Brin, I do know Navier-Stokes equations from my behind, even if my diff-eqs aren't as solid as they were in college.

Always question authority. But at least have the nerve to listen to the answers.

Alfred Differ said...

@Tacitus2: I still use his name to protect certain people from the medically descriptive words for what that condition actually does. It only gets worse if you tell them what the older regimen for dealing with it does. Thank goodness for UCLA research doctors. 8)

I saw your mantra at work when I woke up one day surrounded by three internal medicine doctors. (Kidney, lung, and I don't know what.) They were each at there 90% level, but because they agreed, they were beyond 90% as a team. They wanted to do more tests, but they also wanted to start the mega-dose anti-inflammatory. I put on the best smile I could and agreed. Ugh. It's a good example of TWODA, though, and probably analogous to what David is advocating.

David Brin said...