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Tag Archives: Character

5 Big Reasons Why “Global Warming Is A Fact” Is A Lie

burningearthIs man-made global warming occurring? Despite what you may read or hear from the media, man-made global warming has not been established beyond a reasonable doubt. Here are five big reasons why:

1. Many experienced and credible scientists with good character do not believe that man-made global warming has been proved.

2. Proponents of man-made global warming claim that warming is a fact because of “consensus”; i.e they say that a majority of scientists agree that man-made global warming is happening. But consensus is a logical fallacy, and a sign of junk science. There have been numerous instances where a minority of scientists have ultimately been proven correct, regardless of the prevailing consensus of the day. Science is based on fact, not on a vote of scientists.

3. Proponents of man-made global warming, if they truly believed in their research and analysis, would welcome the views of skeptics, because only by such challenges does science eventually converge on the truth. Instead, many proponents of man-made global warming do not welcome criticism or skeptical inquiry, and instead wage personal attacks on the skeptics. (Personal attacks are an example of the “ad hominem” logical fallacy.)

4. Proponents of man-made global warming base their beliefs on data that cannot be replicated by other scientists.

5. Proponents of man-made global warming are continually adjusting the “models” they previously created and used for predicting today’s weather, when today’s weather is not what was predicted by their earlier models. And rather than admit failure, the proponents try to obscure that fact by making up excuses and continually tinkering with their models.

A couple of interesting and thorough overviews of the junk science underlying the proponents of global warming can be found here (both by Robert Wagner):

Global Warming ‘Science’; What Investors Need To Know, Don’t Just Trust The “Experts

Climate ‘Science’ Bombshell May Be Getting Ready To Burst

The following recent article is also of interest:

The game is up for climate change believers” by Charles Moore.

(Be sure to check the comments at the end of the article by Exton, “Word of the Environmentalist.”)

p.s. I’m finding less time to compose in-depth posts, so am trying to provide brief updates of interesting news bites through twitter, which you can follow here: http://twitter.com/engthinking

-Ed Walker

 

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Where Is Eliot Ness?

Eliot Ness, the lawman best known for his major role (1927-1931) in taking down Chicago mega-gangster Al Capone, was known to be incorruptible, as were his hand-picked team members (known as “The Untouchables” because they could not be bribed). Ness also helped clean out the highly corrupt Cleveland city government, weeding out over two hundred crooked police officers and public officials.

So why is ET talking about Mr. Ness? Because integrity is essential, not only for upholding the law, but also for making good decisions.

IF THE INFORMATION WE USE TO MAKE DECISIONS IS CORRUPT
THEN OUR DECISIONS WILL BE WRONG

Engineers know this. We simply cannot do our work without accurate and reliable data. If it’s discovered that an engineer has falsified data, or engaged in any other deceptive behavior, they are (in my experience) always fired. Integrity is mandatory for an engineering professional.

One of the most important decisions we make is whom to elect to represent us in our federal and local governments. If politicians seeking office were subjected to an engineering design review, it would be a straightforward process; i.e. the “spinners” (liars) would be detected and rejected. Unfortunately, the method we use to select politicians is hugely corrupted by bad data, and here’s a major reason why:

You may be aware, in watching or reading the news, that politicians (or their allies in the media) often use exactly the same phrases. e.g., “taxing the rich,” “shared sacrifice,” “pay their fair share,” “balanced approach,” “drive the economy over a cliff,” “the extreme right wing,” etc. The reason these phrases sound like they are all part of a chorus is that, well, they are. “Talking points” (emotionally-laden and focus-group tested phrases) are distributed to all like-minded politicos and their friends, who repeat them at every opportunity. The idea is that the average person, upon hearing the same viewpoint expressed by many supposedly independent sources, will conclude that the viewpoint must be true.

But talking points are not based on the search for truth, they are based on the search for votes, and are simply propaganda, sometimes blatant, sometimes subtle. To the extent that the intent is to make you believe something is true when the speaker knows it is not, they are lies. Unfortunately, they are very effective, and they are extremely destructive; not just because they are false and misleading, but because they very often appeal to our worst nature (e.g. encourage us to be envious of those who make more money than we do, a position that is neither logical or moral (see “Is The President’s Reason For Taxing The Wealthy Logical?“; “Is The President’s Reason For Taxing The Wealthy Moral?“)).

Can we clean this up? Are you today’s Eliot Ness? Are you an Untouchable, the man or woman who cannot be bribed, who will always tell the truth? When you hear a politician utter an emotionally-laden smear, will you speak up and challenge them? Will you change careers or come out of retirement and run against the liars, so we can rid them from our government?

Please step forward, we need you.

-Ed Walker

 

 

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Is Your Boss A Narcissist?

Narcissists, similar to sociopaths (i.e. those with antisocial personality disorder), can wreak havoc because most of us are not equipped to detect their deceptions. For a recent study, please check “Narcissists rise to the top because people mistake their confidence and authority for leadership qualities,” by Anna Edwards, 11 Aug 2011, Mail Online.

What do you do if your boss is a narcissist? If at all possible, find another job.

-Ed Walker

 

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Shameful Behavior Award: Pushing Grandma Off A Cliff

The image to the left (from YouTube) is from an ad created by the Agenda Project. The ad states, “Now, Republicans want to privatize Medicare,” as it shows a man wheeling an elderly lady up a cliff, against her will, and then dumping her over the edge.

From an ET perspective, does the ad portray any empirical evidence to support its allegations? No. Does it provide any analysis to support its allegations? No.

The Republican plan, put forward by congressman Paul Ryan, does not affect anyone over 55, which rules out most elderly “Grandmas” as depicted in the ad. It also tries to responsibly address the fact that Medicare, as it presently exists, is broke, and a plan such as Ryan’s will be required to save Medicare. This is exactly the opposite of the message conveyed in the ad.

Creating and running an ad designed to scare the elderly, and doing so by blatantly lying, is despicable. Therefore ET awards its Shameful Behavior award to the Agenda Project, and its founder, Erica Payne.

 

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ET EXTRA: Protecting Your Life: Hip Replacement Corruption

Wright Medical Group receives the ET Shameful Behavior Award

Due to severe hip pain, 42 year old professional umpire Mark Hirschbeck received a hip replacement, using a ceramic joint made by Wright Medical Group and recommended by his doctor, John Keggi.

The joint subsequently shattered, “leading to an infection and four more surgeries that left Hirschbeck permanently sidelined. He later learned that Wright paid tens of thousands of dollars to a foundation Keggi helps run and gave him a trip to a conference in the Bahamas. Keggi recommended the ceramic device over the kinds of implants used in 97 percent of cases.”

-from “New Hips Gone Awry Expose U.S. Kickbacks in Doctors’ Conflicts” by David Armstrong, 11 June 2010 Bloomerg.com

 

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Why Pizzanomics Is Immoral

In prior posts (“The Economy Is Not A Pizza Pie,” Part1 and Part2) we discussed why Pizzanomics is an economic fallacy. In this post we’ll examine why Pizzanomics is also immoral.

At first glance it may appear to be an appealing idea (if we are not wealthy) that we allow our government to forcibly take money from the rich and give it to those who are less fortunate. Let’s apply a little engineering thinking to see if this idea is valid.

First, why should our government treat one class of citizens differently than another class? In private business this issue does not exist. If anyone — rich, poor, or in between — goes to a store to purchase a loaf of bread, they are all charged the same price. We don’t even think about it, fair is fair. Everyone pays the same amount for the same item.

However, when it comes to federal income taxes (which in essence are payments for services that the federal government provides) somewhere along the line we have succumbed to the thesis that it is perfectly acceptable for wealthy folks to be forced to pay more tax than regular folks.

But why? Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft and one of the wealthiest men on the planet, gets the same government services as anyone else. Although one of the essential services of the federal government is protection of the homeland, one does not find extra squadrons of fighter jets defensively circling Mr. Gates’ neighborhood, nor are there any Navy Seals assigned for his personal protection when he goes sailing. In other words, Mr. Gates gets (in general) the same benefits from the government as the average citizen, yet he pays enormously more taxes.

Therefore, why is it acceptable to charge rich folks more than average folks, when rich folks receive the same service? Perhaps the ten commandments are today considered quaint by some, but nestled amongst them is the admonishment for us to not covet our neighbor’s goods. Aren’t we displaying poor moral judgment when we allow our illogical envy of the wealthy to justify taking from them to give to ourselves?

If you were fortunate as a child, your parents bestowed upon you some of the pearls of humanity’s hard-earned wisdom in the form of children’s fables. These bedtime guides to good moral behavior, particularly a good work ethic (e.g. “The Little Red Hen,” “The Three Little Pigs”), provide a solid and essential foundation to ensure that a child grows up to be a mature, responsible, and happy adult. The reasons that such tales are essential is that they are what engineers call a calibration reference; that is, they provide a set of highly accurate rules about human nature that can be relied on to successfully guide personal, as well as societal, behavior.

Have Your Morals Been Calibrated?

Without a moral foundation, folks tend to become obsessive about material things. It has been firmly established, however, that material acquisitions — beyond having food to eat and a roof over one’s head — do not make one happy. On the contrary, an obsession with possession leads to deep unhappiness.

Some children, with nothing yet to show of great accomplishment, resort to distinguishing themselves by calling attention to their designer clothing or by “look at me” show-off behavior. Adults who flaunt their three hundred dollar sneakers, or who make it a habit to be conspicuously seated at fine dining establishments, are likewise exhibiting childish behavior.

Although most of us enjoy material things, the more mature among us do not use them as a proxy for our self-worth. To the contrary, true grown-ups feel a dash of pity (in addition to a dollop of annoyance) toward status-flashers, knowing that such antics are a sign that the flashers have likely accomplished little of real value in their lives. If they had, there would be no need to bring out the bling. They would instead frame a diploma, display pictures of their well-adjusted children, or discuss current events, art, science, and (quietly) their charitable endeavors.

Those folks who champion Pizzanomics, therefore, may be unwittingly exhibiting not only their lack of understanding of basic economics, but also giving us a glimpse into their immature and envy-riddled world view.

Next post:

A Summary of Engineering Thinking Principles

-Ed Walker

 

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ET EXTRA: Protecting Your Life: Customers Claim “Fixed” Toyotas Are Still Accelerating

Engineering Thinking Extra Is A Short Review Of A Current Hot Topic

“…the Department of Transportation released data Thursday showing that more than 60 people have complained of sudden acceleration incidents in vehicles that have been repaired by Toyota as part of the recalls to address the problem.”
Los Angeles Times, “Top lawmakers want more data from Toyota,” 6 March 2010.

The problem with Toyota is not that they have experienced a problem. All technology products have problems, although for high quality products the problems are usually minor and only affect a small percentage of products sold.

Problems occur because, despite our advances in technology, it is a simple fact that it’s not humanly possible to achieve a perfectly safe and reliable product. Plus, the price tag for trying to achieve perfection always reaches a point where the customer is not willing to pay the price. We all would be safer if we drove vehicles that were built like tanks, but their low fuel efficiency, cumbersome performance, and high price would make them much less attractive, all things considered, than the less-safe autos that we willingly purchase today.

Also, technology is not capable of completely compensating for human error. Drivers can mistakenly step on the gas pedal rather than the brake pedal, and in a panic keep their foot jammed to the gas pedal because they think they are stepping on the brake. (In engineering parlance, this is an example of a feedback loop that has — because of the application of foot to incorrect pedal — changed abruptly from a stable loop to a completely unstable one.) Although I have not seen any convincing data on how often we should expect human error to create “unintended acceleration” events, the hypothesis is plausible and should not be dismissed.

No, the problem with Toyota is not that they claim that human error is sometimes to blame, or that they have some product defects. The problem with Toyota is their response to the issue, which has been documented to be one of delay and obfuscation (link). This demonstration of poor character is what may kill Toyota.

An avenue of investigation that I have not seen addressed by Congress is a request to review Toyota’s design validation documentation. This would be the set of analyses and test reports that are the gold standard for high-reliability products. The analyses would include a Worst Case Analysis and a Fault Tree or a Single Point Failure Analysis. In my view, if these documents do not exist, it indicates that Toyota has not adopted “best engineering practices” regarding safety-critical products.

If they do exist, they can be reviewed for thoroughness and accuracy. And if they are thorough and accurate, there is a high likelihood that the problem has already been identified. If so, this means that Toyota ignored their engineers for cost-containment purposes, to the detriment of public safety. Toyota is acting as though this indeed is what happened.

Toyota: show us your analyses.

-Ed Walker

 

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