October 9, 2011

Green Army: Communications

Global War on Disinformation

John Quiggin (1956) [Professor of Economics, Queensland University]:
[The] culture wars are just a device to keep the right-wing base agitated enough to turn out, losing time after time but still providing the votes needed to keep pro-rich politicians in office. …
The great majority of [climate change] “sceptics” are, in fact, credulous believers in what they are told by trusted authority figures, notably including conservative political leaders.
(Climate claims a victory in the culture wars, Inside Story, 17 December 2015)

The Right to Personal Security

Jeff McMahon

If we didn't have all these guns in the United States, we would have far, far fewer homicides.
And we have all these guns in the United States only because people want to have them.
We could have legislation prohibiting private ownership of guns and putting all guns in the hands of the police tomorrow if the gun advocates didn't oppose it.

This is one thing that I think law abiding gun owners and criminals are both complicit in.
They both want access to guns.
And the thing that is disturbing about gun owners who are not criminals is that they are willing to insist on their own private possession of guns at the cost of criminals having guns as well.

(Philosophy Bites, 17 February 2013)


Media Hubs


Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Bioethics Bites
British Broadcasting Corporation

Canadian Broadcasting Commission

Commonwealth Club of California



Ethics Bites

Future Leaders


Huffington Post

Inside Story


New Yorker

New York Times

Philosophy Bites
Philosophy Now

Public Broadcasting Service

Quarterly Essay


Rolling Stone
Scientific American

Social Science Bites

Technology, Entertainment and Design

Network Hubs

Anti-Climate Change Extremism in Utah

Climate Ethics



Real Climate
Skeptical Science

Wikimedia Foundation

Media Hubs

The Age

  • Curse of Australia's silent pervasive racism, 5 April 2013.
    Waleed Aly: Lecturer in Politics, Monash University.

    [An] Australian National University study … found you're significantly less likely to get a job interview if you have a non-European name.
    The researchers sent fake CVs in response to job advertisements, changing only the name of the applicant.
    It turns out that if you're surname is Chinese, you have to apply for 68 per cent more jobs to get the same number of interviews as a Anglo-Australian.
    If you're Middle Eastern, it's 64 per cent.
    If you're indigenous, 35 per cent.

Bio-Ethics Bites

  • What Neuroscience Can Tell Us About Morality, 3 February 2012.
    Patricia Churchland: Professor of Philosophy, University of San Diego.

    [What Hume is doing in that passage] is lambasting clerics … who think there is a simple inference that takes you from something that is the case, to something that ought to be the case.
    [For example,] small boys do work as chimney-sweeps, therefore, small boys ought to work as chimney-sweeps.
    Hume thought that any inference that was simple and direct like that was stupid.
    On the other hand, Hume was a naturalist about ethics.
    Considerations of self-survival and the moral sentiment, that is, care about others, were motivating.
    And that meant that those were … facts about the nature of the species, in virtue of which, certain things ought to happen.
    So Hume … was quite willing to see that there is a way of getting from what is the case to what ought to be the case. …

    We have a fairly good idea of how, at a behavioral level, to enhance cooperation and to reduce violence.
    [What we] need is the will to do it. …
    There are lots studies regarding children and how to enhance cooperation.
    Role playing, and simple games, is one of the easiest and has a big effect.
    There are … good behavioral ways of achieving those ends …

  • Brain chemistry and Moral Decision-Making, 4 January 2012.
    Molly Crockett: Research Fellow in Neurobiology, University College London.
  • Responsibility and Personality Disorder, 1 December 2011.
    Hanna Pickard: Philosopher and Therapist.
  • Political Bioethics, 3 October 2011.
    Jonathan Wolff: Professor of Philosophy, University College London.

    There's [an] ideal of reason, where we should have a principle that we can apply to every case.
    This is the Holy Grail of philosophy.
    Ideally we want a principle that is as small as possible, maybe two variables and one relationship and universal coverage.
    But we know … we're not going to anything like that.
    Many more variables, exceptions and so on.
    So in the end … the principle has so many exceptions it's no longer a principle.
    What we're doing … is appealing to a whole range of values and seeing how weighty they [feel] to us.
    An quite often, all you can do is hope other people share the same view about how weighty the different values are. …
    There is room for principles, but nothing is going to determined fully by principles.
    You can appeal to all different types of considerations.

    [It] has something in common with legal reasoning.
    [If] there's some very clear principle of law … it's all cut and dried …
    [But if] there isn't are clear principle of law …
    [The judges] provide a set of reasoning, they employ new distinctions …
    They find a way of getting to an answer that is [rational and transparent, but it's not] applying a single principle to determine an answer.
    [A] lot of reasoning in life is more like the legal model, than the principled model …

    [We philosophers] thought we could solve the problems by coming up with the best theory.
    I no longer have any confidence that … we are going to be able to do [this].
    But we can clarify patterns of reason.
    We can make clear what patterns of values are involved.
    We can show what logical relations different values may have to each other.
    That if you believe in one thing, you shouldn't believe in something else.

    Now I wouldn't … say that only philosophers can do this. …
    But we have the advantage that this is [all we do.]

    [In bioethics] what we need are people with philosophical skills, not philosophical theories.

  • Status Quo Bias, 1 August 2011.
    Nick Bostrom: Director, Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford University.
  • Life and Death, 4 July 2011.
    Peter Singer.
  • Designer Babies, 1 June 2011.
    Julian Savulescu: Director, Oxford Centre for Neuroethics and Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics.

Canadian Broadcasting Commission

Commonwealth Club Of California

Ethics Bites

  • Free speech, 13 May 2008.
    Tim Scanlon: Professor of Philosophy, Harvard University.
  • Climate Change, 4 March 2008.
    James Garvey: Secretary, Royal Institute of Philosophy; PhD in philosophy, University College London.

    [Spatial] distance is morally irrelevant when it comes to doing what is right.
    [Peter Singer] argues that, if you are walking past a child who's drowning, you have to wade in even at some cost to yourself …
    The fact that [a child in Africa] is some distance away, is not relevant to the obligation you have to doing something. …
    [Temporal] distance doesn't matter …
    [Whether] the child is alive today, or in a year … you still have some obligations towards that child.

  • Business ethics, 1 April 2008.
    Alex Oliver: Reader in Philosophy, Cambridge University.
  • Blame and Historic Injustice, 4 March 2008.
    Miranda Fricker: Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, Birkbeck College, University of London.


Inside Story

  • Money, schools and politics: some FAQs, 28 September 2016.
    Dean Ashenden: Honorary Senior Fellow, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, Melbourne University.

    [On the Gonski school funding reforms, the conservatives] were duplicitous spoilers from the outset:
    • first bad-mouthing the whole idea;
    • then egging on Coalition-governed states to reject it;
    • then promising (at the eleventh electoral hour) a “unity ticket” on Gonski;
    • then (nano-seconds after the election) junking it; and now,
    • having found themselves wrong-footed by Gonski’s wide and deep support (not least inside the conservatives’ own ranks), having the gall to claim that it was Labor all along that has been the villain of the piece. …

    Was Gonski trashed by Bill Shorten, as alleged by federal education minister Simon Birmingham?
    Hardly. …
    It was Peter Garrett, Shorten’s predecessor in the education portfolio, who did most of that part of the damage, and he did so at the behest of his prime minister, Julia Gillard.
    Gillard deserves much of the blame for not driving Gonski home when she had the chance, thus giving the usual interest groups time and opportunity to bowdlerise a singularly bold and coherent plan.
    On the other hand, Gillard also deserves much of the credit for getting Gonski under way, as education minister and then as prime minister.

  • Innovation: the test is yet to come, 10 December 2015.
    John Quiggin: Professor of Economics, University of Queensland.
  • How New Zealand fell further behind, 11 November 2015.
    John Quiggin.
  • Eleven media myths, and why they matter, 3 April 2012.
    Sally Young: Associate Professor, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne.

    The Australian has … some excellent journalists [and] publishes some insightful writing [but it can also be] strident, defensive and bullying …
    Some of the paper’s journalists and commentators[, along with] some [at Fairfax,] have taken up arms against Finkelstein’s proposal [to increase media accountability.]
    Much of the hyperbole about “censorship,” “repression” and “state control” would be funny if it wasn’t such a poignant reminder that journalists are, all too often, their own worst enemies. …
    [Because] Australian news organizations [have failed to consistently live up to] their own standards of conduct and performance … they will struggle [more and more] in the future [to retain] educated readers who have high expectations and [are becoming increasingly aware] of how news media operate.

    1. Critical scrutiny is [only good] if journalists do it

      Journalists are told they must always [be sceptical.] …
      But when academics or others apply this approach to analysing the media and the work of journalists, this [is treated as a threat.]

    2. You need to work in journalism to understand how journalism works
    3. Even if you have worked in journalism in the past, you are still wrong
    4. [Real journalists only] work in journalism organizations
    5. Power is on the outside of media not on the inside

      “We scrutinize power,” journalists proclaim, but there is a strange failure to recognize that [collectively] the media [is at least as] influential [as] the hundreds of individual politicians sitting in parliaments across Australia. …
      The media require scrutiny as well as exercising it.

    6. Because there is no evidence of phone hacking here, there are no problems
    7. Media ownership – “nothing to see here”
    8. All academics are against us and all academics who are against us are left-wing

      Many journalists voice those same concerns in private and anonymously …
      [That] they just can’t do so in the outlets they work for … puts the lie to those outlets posturing about the importance of “free speech” …

    9. All academics who are interested in journalism teach journalism
    10. Academics are experts but only when they say what we want to hear

      Many media outlets are keen to have academics in their pages lending credibility and authority to analysis [except when it is applied to the media itself.]

    11. Media accountability and media futures are separate

The New Yorker

The New York Times

Philosophy Bites

  • The Linguistic Turn in Philosophy, 10 November 2013.
    Rom Harré.
  • Afterlife, 14 September 2013.
    Samuel Scheffler.
  • Hume and Buddhism, 14 September 2013.
    Alison Gopnik.
  • The Chinese Room, 24 June 2013.
    Daniel Dennett.
  • Gun Control, 17 February 2013.
    Jeff McMahan.

    What's most fundamental here, is not so much the right to self defense, but the right to personal security.
    Now if there is a right of gun ownership as a means of self-defense, its a derivative right.
    The right to own a gun is derivative from the right to self defense.
    Because the right of self defense implies the right to some means of self-defense …
    [But] if everybody has this right right to self defense and the means to self defense, you're going to have a society in which lots of people have … guns.
    If that's a society in which people are less secure, personally, than one in which they don't possess all these guns, then the most fundamental right, namely, the right to personal security, is actually being violated by people's possession of guns rather than protected. …

    You see it in the statistics comparing gun deaths in the United States with gun deaths in other countries.
    When large numbers of people are armed with guns, everyone's security declines. …
    For a particular individual, it may well be true, that he's going to be more secure having a gun, than not having a gun, whatever is true of everybody else.
    But is he has a gun, and it's a condition of his having a gun that everyone else can also have a gun, then everyone's going to have a gun, and he's going to be less secure than if he didn't have a gun and other people didn't have guns either. …

    [Unlike people who are killed driving cars,] many of the people who get killed by firearms are not participants in this practise. …
    I don't own a gun [and] I don't want to have a gun.
    [Yet, my] security is reduced by people possessing guns.
    If I ever get killed by a gun, I won't be in any way be implicitly consenting to this practise. …

    There are statistics to suggest that when people get guns in their houses they diminish their security, because
    • they may use those guns domestically,
    • someone may take the gun away and use it against them [or]
    • someone may steal the gun from them.
    I myself don't want to make a contribution to this situation.
    Even if [despite the evidence to the contrary,] I would be more personally secure to have a gun in the house, I'm unwilling to increase my personal security in that way at the expense of other people's security. …

    [If, for arguments sake, people in the US] are more violently disposed than they are in other countries [for social and cultural reasons] they will succeed a lot better in being violent and killing people if they're all armed with guns than they would it they were not armed with guns. …
    The man who went into the elementary school in Newtown with a gun killed 20 children.
    And he shot most of them several times.
    There were no survivors.
    But right around the same time, another man in China went after children with a knife, and [while he] managed to stab 22 children … they all survived. …

  • Jeremy Bentham's Utilitarianism, 11 February 2012.
    Julian Savulescu.
  • On Moral Enhancement, 20 May 2011.
    Philip Schofield.
  • Locke on Toleration, 16 June 2008.
    John Dunn.
  • Hume's Significance, 13 April 2008.
    Peter Millican.
  • Consequentialism, 3 September 2007.
    Brad Hooker.

    Rule utilitarians are sometimes accused of being rule worshipers, in the sense that they always stick to the rule no matter what …
    [This is] a misunderstanding of rule utilitarianism.
    One of the rules that would maximize happiness for everyone to accept would be a rule which says:
    Break any other rules when necessary to prevent absolute disasters.

Public Broadcasting Service

American Experience



Rolling Stone

  • Global Warming's Terrifying New Math, 19 July 2013.
    Bill McKibben.

    [May 2012 was] the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average …
    [The odds of this occurring by chance are] 3.7 x 10^99 [—] a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe. …

    The First Number: 2° Celsius

    167 countries responsible for more than 87 percent of the world's carbon emissions have signed on to the Copenhagen Accord, endorsing the two-degree target.

    The Second Number: 565 Gigatons

    Scientists estimate that humans can pour roughly 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by midcentury and still have [a four out of five chance] of staying below two degrees. …

    The Third Number: 2,795 Gigatons

    [This is] the amount of carbon already contained in the proven coal and oil and gas reserves …
    {2,795 is five times 565.}
    [So we'll] have to keep 80 percent of those reserves locked away underground to avoid [a two degree rise. …]
    [At] today's market value, those 2,795 gigatons of carbon emissions are worth about $27 trillion. …

    [Germany now generates] half its power from solar panels within its borders. …

    [The Obama administration has] opened up a huge swath of the Powder River Basin in Wyoming for coal extraction [—] 67.5 gigatons worth of carbon (or more than 10 percent of the available atmospheric space) [— and has] indicated that it would give Shell permission to start drilling in sections of the Arctic. …

    [The] tar sands of Alberta … contain as much as 240 gigatons of carbon … or almost half of the available space …
    [And the Venezuelan] Orinoco deposits are larger than Alberta's — taken together, they'd fill up the whole available atmospheric space. …

    [In June 2013, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson] told a New York audience that global warming is … an "engineering problem" that has "engineering solutions." …
    Changes to weather patterns that move crop-production areas around — we'll adapt to that.

    The Koch ["fossil fuel" brothers [— with] a combined wealth of $50 billion [—] reportedly plan to lavish as much as $200 million on this year's elections.
    In 2009, for the first time, the US Chamber of Commerce surpassed both the Republican and Democratic National Committees on political spending …
    [In 2010] more than 90 percent of the Chamber's cash went to GOP candidates, many of whom deny the existence of global warming.
    Not long ago, the Chamber … filed a brief with the EPA urging the agency not to regulate carbon …
    [Populations] can acclimatize to warmer climates via a range of behavioral, physiological and technological adaptations. …

    Around the turn of the century … BP made a brief attempt to restyle itself as "Beyond Petroleum," …
    In December [2011, it] finally closed its solar division.
    Shell shut down its solar and wind efforts in 2009.
    The five biggest oil companies have made more than $1 trillion in profits since the millennium …
    [There's] simply too much money to be made on oil and gas and coal to [consider pursuing the alternatives.]

    (emphasis added)

    Would you like to do more?

  • The Vanishing Ice Sheets, 22 September 2010.
    Ben Wallace-Wells.
  • Who's to Blame — 12 Politicians and Execs Blocking Progress on Global Warming, 19 January 2011.
  • Climate Change and the End of Australia, 3 October 2011.
    Jeff Goodell.

Social Science Bites

  • Inequality, 1 May 2012.
    Danny Dorling: Human Geographer.


Anti-Climate Change Extremism in Utah

Barry Bickmore


Tim Lambert


Jim Hoggan


Skeptical Science

John Cook
  • Why Curry, McIntyre, and Co are Still Wrong about IPCC Climate Model Accuracy, 4 October 2013.
  • Climate Misinformers
  • The Debunking Handbook
  • The Scientific Guide to Global Warming Skepticism, December 2010.
    John Cook.

    [Human 'Fingerprints' of Climate Change

    1. Fossil fuel signature in the air and coral — declining C13:C12 ratios due to release of C12 from burning fossil fuels. (p 2)
    2. Less heat is escaping out to space — trapping of heat by green house gases (GHGs) and low cloud (p 3).
    3. The ocean warming pattern — warming is greatest on the surface and declines with increasing depth (p 4).
    4. Nights warming faster than days — GHGs slow night time heat loss into space (p 5).
    5. Australian annual-average daily maximum temperatures have increased by 0.75 °C [and] overnight minimum temperatures have warmed by more than 1.1 °C since 1910.
      (CSIRO/BOM, 2012, p 2)
    6. More heat is returning to Earth — heat trapped by GHG is reradiated back to earth (p 7).
    7. Winter warming faster — GHGs slow winter heat loss (p 9).
    8. Cooling upper atmosphere — stratosphere would be warming if increased solar irradiance was responsible, instead it is cooling (p 10).]


  • Banking Blockade, 24 October 2010.

    [WikiLeaks has been] forced to temporarily suspend publishing whilst we secure our economic survival. …

    Since 7th December 2010 an arbitrary and unlawful financial blockade has been imposed by Bank of America, VISA, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union.
    The attack has destroyed 95% of our revenue.
    The blockade came into force within ten days of the launch of Cablegate as part of a concerted US-based, political attack that included vitriol by senior right wing politicians, including assassination calls against WikiLeaks staff.
    The blockade is outside of any accountable, public process. …
    The US government itself found that there were no lawful grounds to add WikiLeaks to a US financial blockade. …

Would you like to know more?

Wikimedia Foundation

Jimmy Wales [Founder]:
Google might have close to a million servers.
Yahoo has something like 13,000 staff.
We have 679 servers and 95 staff.

Advertising is not evil.
But it doesn't belong here.
Not in Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is … like a library or a public park.
It is like a temple for the mind.

When I founded Wikipedia, I could have made it into a for-profit company with advertising banners, but I decided to do something different.

[Please] consider making a donation … to protect and sustain Wikipedia.

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