Tuesday, September 25, 2012


1. AAUP proposes revisions of rules on research misconduct:

The proposal defines research misconduct as "fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results." To arrive at a finding of research misconduct, in-vestigators would have to establish that the conduct in question was a significant departure from accepted practices in the relevant research community, and that the action was committed intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly.
My emphasis added.  Doesn't sound all that different from current rules that are being flaunted by George Mason University over plagiarism among their climate denialist academics.

UPDATE:  No wonder it sounded familiar, it actually was the old set of rules - I stumbled through a link and thought it was new (HT to John Mashey).  Even more importantly, I should've said "flouted" the rules instead of "flaunted" the rules.

2. My sadly-unpaid advertising for Chris Mooney's Point of Inquiry continues, this time about the Truth Markets innovation that attempts to reward truth in political discourse with money.  Great idea, no idea if it will work.  I don't share Mooney's concern that the conservative reaction to the mostly truthful wikipedia - creating Conservapedia - represents a successful response on any level.  OTOH, the proposal for a Truth Campaign, "Over 95% of American scientists believe climate change is real" is problematic.  It should read "over 95% of climatologists publishing on climate change believe climate change is real."  Still, I hope the overall idea works out.

3. Nice Felix Salmon article about the positive interaction between straight regulation, a gas tax, and a theoretical carbon tax:
Porter is also right that in countries with higher gas taxes, fuel economy tends to be much higher. But he’s not necessarily right that the higher gas taxes alone are responsible. Porter implies that the US only has fuel-economy standards just because “a tax on gasoline doesn’t stand a chance” of being passed. But the fact is that even countries with very high gas taxes have fuel-economy standards as well. And, guess what, they’re significantly tougher than ours, and they always have been.... 
Auto emissions pollution was a problem in the 70s and 80s; it’s not a problem now, with today’s much cleaner cars. [Wow, that was a really wrong sentence in an otherwise smart article - Ed.
The fact is that fuel-economy standards are a pretty good way of ensuring that carmakers can plan for a more fuel-efficient future, without worrying about competitors undercutting them with gas-guzzlers. If the US government ever comes to its senses and increases the gas tax, or if it — wonder of wonders — actually implements a broader carbon tax, then at that point you would have three different forces conspiring to make America’s fleet more efficient. You’d have the tax, you’d have the fuel-economy standards, and you’d have the general global increase in fuel efficiency.
I added the emphasis, a point that I hadn't thought of before.


William Connolley said...

> The fact is that fuel-economy standards are a pretty good way of ensuring that carmakers can plan for a more fuel-efficient future, without worrying about competitors undercutting them with gas-guzzlers.

Errm, simply writing "the fact is..." before a bald assertion doesn't make it a fact - it remains a bald assertion.

Anonymous said...

Bill, the statement "the fact is..." is followed by the indication that this IS a fact: "carmakers can plan...without worrying about competitors undercutting them...".

I.e. if every car maker has to increase fuel efficiency, requiring R&D investment, then no car maker can cut their costs to steal custom while those aiming for the future have to keep prices the same to retain the same profit level.

Jon said...

Did you mean "flouted" rather than "flaunted" in the reference to GMU. I would have thought so but "Display (something) ostentatiously, esp. in order to provoke envy or admiration or to show defiance." sort of fits - they're certainly defying academic norms.

dhogaza said...

Your emphasized point is exactly why the US auto industry welcomed this last round of CAFE standards. They're not opposed to spending R&D money on increasing fuel efficiency now that the buying public is interested in fuel efficient cars, and they see how well toyota's investment in developing hybrid technology 20 years ago has worked out.

Their fear is that market fashions will change, gas will become cheaper again, and they'll be stuck scrambling to build gas guzzlers again.

CAFE standards minimize that risk and makes long-term investments in technology more attractive.

It may be a "bald assertion" but we've seen it work out this way with safety requirements. All new cars look "fat", this is largely due to side collision safety improvements mandated by recent US safety regulations (they're putting beams in the doors). They all have airbags. They're constructed with crush zones in front. The latter was developed by mercedes benz many years ago (adopted from race car technology) but only adopted by the entire industry when safety regulations demanded cars that are more survivable in front-end collisions.

I see no reason why the same approach can't be used to significantly increase fleet fuel economy and therefore CO2 emissions per mile driven.

Hank Roberts said...

> carmakers can plan ... without
> worrying about competitors

Look at the DOE utility transformer energy efficiency rulemaking proceedings. The utilities, conservation groups, and several states together sued the Bush Dep't of Energy to get a higher minimum acceptable energy efficiency for that infrastructure, for the same reason. All involved initiating the lawsuit agreed, they wanted to bring the overall efficiency of the transmission system up. Only the Bush Admin. wanted a race to the bottom for cheap inefficient equipment acceptable.

Hank Roberts said...

http://www.resco1.com/index.php/department-of-energy-doe-transformer-efficiency-update/ -- note the manufacturers whose position is given here are _still_ trying to defeat the improvement in energy efficiency, and their last hope is to get Congress by November 2010 to gut the improvements.

This shit never stops.

Hank Roberts said...

November 2012, that is. Note the more efficient equipment isn't built in the USA, it has to come from overseas or the US manufacturers have to build the plants to build the more efficient equipment -- and why would they do that if the race to the bottom is still in effect?

John Mashey said...

1) I used to help sell computers to auto companies - at one point almost every car company used SGI gear for crash simulations.
2) From past jobs in Silicon Valkey, and where I live, corporate executives are thick in the ground around here and I've talked to many over the years.

I have heard the "we want to do the right thing, but we need sensible regulation to let us not be disadvantaged" refrain pretty often. Of course, this was from the engineers and executives I often met, some of whom would do the right thing anyway.

Of course, the tobacco industry or guys like Don Blankenship would not subscribe to this.

Brian said...

Flouted is right.

I'm flaunting my questionable grammar.

david lewis said...

Re your point 2, where you say you "don't share Mooney's concern that the conservative reaction to the mostly truthful Wikipedia - creating Conservapedia - represents a successful response on any level"

Mooney was expressing his fear that since as he and Hayes agreed "more baloney is coming from the right", if TruthMarket succeeds it will be refuting more "right" wing "facts" than left wing "facts", and what may happen is something like when the "right" came up with Conservapedia so they could have a place where they could find out their own facts as opposed to that horrible Wikipedia that seemed to be refuting everything they believed. Mooney wasn't characterizing Conservapedia as a "successful" response it seemed to me, he was saying his fear was, what good can TruthMarket do when the right insists on making up its own facts and believing in them no matter what?

He was encouraging Hayes and wishing him well, but as he said "that's my ultimate problem with the TruthMarket" as a concept.

David B. Benson said...

The automobile stuff is just nibbling at an edge of the problem. The electic transformer stuff is another nibble.

When will we be ready to start taking big bites?

Marlowe Johnson said...

the reason that the detroit 3 opposed cafe standards before, and still do (although to a lesser degree) is that the margins on large SUVs are much, much higher than they are on more efficient SUVs or smaller cars. they have far less experience in those segments of the market than the europeans and the asian manufacturers, and so naturally want to preserve a playing field that works to their advantage.

dhogaza said...

"the margins on large SUVs are much, much higher"

Is this still true?

One of the reasons for the invention of the SUV was that Detroit successfully got the government to consider them trucks, which had (have?) a high duty charged on imports. When Japanese companies agreed to start building cars in the US, threatened duty increases were set aside, but trucks were still disproportionatly taxed on import.

This automatically gave the US automakers an increased profit margin on SUVs. I don't know if this duty structure is still in place.

The most popular SUVs in the past few years have been crossovers, built on auto rather than truck chassis. Are they still given favorable treatment? Hard to believe with all the japanese crossover SUVs you see on the road ...

Also, detroit's opposition to CAFE standards preceeded the invention and marketing of modern SUVs ...

Marlowe Johnson said...

it's true that the margins have shrunk a bit because more technology (in addition to bucket leather seats) can now be found in the cross-overs. but the profitability is still skewed towards larger, less fuel efficient vehicles.

the new cafe standards are footprint-based rather than using the simple car/truck classification, so this has helped mitigate a lot of the gaming that you saw with the old system (e.g. the PT Cruiser being classified as a truck).

Anonymous said...

Dr. Lumpus Spookytooth, phd.



popular tech says over 1100 peer reviewed papers support skeptical arguments about global warming.

Please reference peer reviewed papers in support of global warming, to prove your assertion that over 95% of scientists support your opinion.

J Bowers said...

Surveys of scientists' views on climate change, paying particular attention to the most recent, Farnsworth (2011), "Only 5% disagreed with the idea that human activity is a significant cause of global warming."

Then again, I guess we can dismiss every national and international scientific academy in the world with a policy statement on climate change: Scientific opinion on climate change

ligne said...

poptech is an insane crank. i'm not sure you want to be basing your argument on anything he produces...

Anonymous said...

Dr. Lumpus Spookytooth, phd.

@J Bowers

but that would imply that every member of those academies agree with the official academy statement.

In other news, I encourage everyone to try my favorite beer, Spookytooth. It was recently brewed through Fathead's an excellent and healthy lunch choice. The beer is an imperial pumpkin, 9% alcohol. Eli must try it.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Lumpus Spookytooth, phd.

VERY OT: the diagram Netanyahu had of the cartoon bomb has me in tears. I still can't stop laughing about it. It was like watching Wil E Coyote hatching a plan to catch the road runner with his cartoon bomb.

J Bowers said...

"but that would imply that every member of those academies agree with the official academy statement."

If they don't resign their membership or petition to have the climate change statement modified, then yes, it does mean that individual members of those academies implicitly agree with such statements.

dhogaza said...

"the new cafe standards are footprint-based rather than using the simple car/truck classification, so this has helped mitigate a lot of the gaming that you saw with the old system (e.g. the PT Cruiser being classified as a truck)."

Yes, that's exactly the kind of thing I'm thinking of.

I'm curious about the duty status, though, if I get some time I may look it up. When the truck duty was maintained it gave domestic manufacturers an automatic $2K? $4K? wholesale price umbrella to hide under, and SUV truck classifications such as you mention made it very hard for the Japanese to compete in the SUV/truck market.

So with all the Japanese cross-overs, it makes me wonder ...

dhogaza said...

Gee, I almost agreed with Lumpy for a change, except spy vs. spy not wiley coyote came to mind.

Back to the more serious matter of debunking everything less Lumpy has to say:

"but that would imply that every member of those academies agree with the official academy statement."

No, you'll find members of the NAS or other professional scientific societies who think the earth is about 6,000 years old and any other crank or ideologially-motivated belief you care to mention.

That's why the measured opinion of such societies at large are much better barometers of scientific thought than the random thoughts of random scientists.

And poptech is insane. Or at least stupid.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

dhogaza: "And poptech is insane. Or at least stupid."

Actually, I'm pretty convinced poptech is a bot. Definitely doesn't pass the turing test. Lumpus Spunkydrawers...not sure yet. He could be a 14 year-old nerd in his parents' basement who comes here when his mom is home and he can't look at porn. Or he could also be a bot.

Rattus Norvegicus said...

This is proof that people need to get more creative with their Downfall videos.

Joe Bob sez: "Check it out"...

Rattus Norvegicus said...

I think we need to let the pros deal with the great flout or flaunt question.

Anonymous said...

Some of the posters have discussed the reasons for the popularity of SUVs in the US. Wasn't there also a very attractive tax break for trucks (defined as vehicles over a certain weight) bought for business use? My recollection was that this effectively favored SUVs since they fit the bill as vehicles that could qualify for the tax break (at least the larger ones) while still being suitable for personal use.

dhogaza said...

"Wasn't there also a very attractive tax break for trucks (defined as vehicles over a certain weight) bought for business use?"

I think you're refering to a one-timer passed at the beginning of the great recession, end of the Bush administration IIRC.

It was a very annoying short-term program but just a blip in terms of the overall popularity of SUVs.

Marlowe Johnson said...

it wasn't just a one time thing. note the date stamp in the article


cheap gas + dealer incentives + gov incentives + fear (perception of safety of large vehicles) = more SUVs

dhogaza said...

This is what threw me (from Marlowe's link):

"Plus, until 2004, there is a bonus deduction of 30 percent of the rest of the cost of the truck."