Author Archives: Paul Carlisle Kettler

Top 10 Liberal Wheezes of All Time

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10. Terminate innocent life — promote abortion — but save evil life — abhor capital punishment.

9. Proclaim women’s and gay’s rights — but welcome all Muslims, including some who would kill women and gays.

8. Assert rights under the Constitution to those who are not citizens, legal residents, or legal visitors.

7. Bash Jews and Christians, denying the Judeo-Christian ethic underpinning American values.

6. Reject blind justice by ignoring crimes of the liberal elite, while railroading conservatives.

5. Aver that hate speech is any speech with which they disagree.

4. Not baking a cake for a gay wedding in anathema, whereas advocating the assassination of the President is free speech.

3. Health care, which is expensive, is somehow a right, whereas the air we breathe, which is free, is subject to restrictive regulation.

2. Closed borders are fine when they are a liberal’s front door, but not when they are geographical features, like the Rio Grande.

1. The instinct of self preservation, embodied in the right to protect one’s life from violent criminal attack, is repealed.

Climate Change and the Scientific Method

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For once and for all, let’s put to rest the relationship between climate change studies and the Scientific Method (hint: none.)

So frequently we hear from the so-called “Scientific Community” that perceived climate change is the result of human activity since the industrial revolution. This conclusion cannot be the result of application of the Scientific Method which requires that experiments be repeatable. The issue concerns the obvious, that there is only one record of climate change for planet earth.

Repeating the experiment of observing climate change requires, therefore, that the evolution of the earth be repeated, many times in fact, to accumulate reliable statistics. One could argue where these reruns should start, maybe 500 million years ago at the onset of life, or better, back to the origin of the solar system. Why stop there, however? Let’s say to rerun history from the Big Bang.

First, a digression: the word “change” so often part of the discussion, implies there is some underlying function which is seen to change. This can be temperature as a function of time, or ice cap thickness, again as a function of time, for examples. It is this underlying function which climate change students (as I refrain from saying “scientists”) wish to extrapolate. “Curve fitting,” the process by which such functions are created from data, is a highly suspect practice, especially when employed to make forecasts. Remember the “hockey stick”? a worthless piece of research if ever there were one.

Now, “change” as applied to a function normally amounts to taking the derivative, a function itself one step removed from the original, or level, function. Derivatives of fitted functions are deservedly infamous for attaining extreme values. In extrapolation, derivatives can instill fear easily in the minds of those who are not schooled in the theory and practice of “robustness,” as the subject is called. Suffice it to say that small changes in the fitted function as a result of selecting an alternative data set, or even changing a single point, can result in large changes in the derivative of the function, ringing the five-alarm bell in the minds of the innocent.

The late eminent Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould recognized that the record of life on earth is but a single instance of a stochastic process, and that therefore the Scientific Method cannot be employed to analyze it. Needless to say, he advocated other methods of inquiry to infer useful results, or else he would not have had a career.

The same is true for Albert Einstein who mainly employed inductive thought in his research, including his constructions for Brownian motion, which won him the Nobel Prize, and special and general relativity.

For an excellent short article on the use (and abuse) of the Scientific Method in modern research see this offering by the Tapestry Institute, and references therein: The Scientific Method Ain’t

Risks and Rewards, Capitalism and Communism

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The relationship between risk and rewards is a much studied phenomenon. The relationship is fundamental to behavioral economics and states that the higher the perceived risk the greater the expected reward.

The relationship frequently is assigned the name of “tradeoff,” as in “the tradeoff between risk and reward.” This label is somewhat of a misnomer, however, for tradeoff implies that the greater is one quantity, then the lesser is the other. Risk and reward go together; both go up or both go down

In an effort for greater understanding the econometrician quantifies risk and reward. Risk frequently, but not always, appears as variability of return on investment, the statistical variance. Reward frequently, but not always, appears as mean return. Alternative quantities, respectively, can be semi-interquartile deviation and median.

In a capitalist society risk in the form of entrepreneurship is encouraged. In consequence variability is high. Some succeed greatly. Others fail. Also, though, expected reward is high, providing the incentive to entrepreneurs. In a communist society risk is discouraged. Equality of outcome is stressed, leading to reduced variability of performance. In consequence mean results are low. In both forms, capitalism and communism, human nature is the same. Risk and reward go together.

It is no surprise, therefore, that capitalist societies are more productive and communist societies are less productive. It all has to do with human reaction to circumstances. Risk and reward go together.

The econometrician goes further to define and analyze this relationship. He speaks of the “efficient frontier.” This is where one maximizes return, given variance, or minimizes variance, given return. In the investment world this means adjusting one’s portfolio to achieve these goals. The efficient frontier emerges as a curve on a graph. At any point this curve has a slope, which defines, at that point, the quantified relationship between risk and reward.

The difference between capitalism and communism now becomes clear. In a free capitalist society the entire efficient frontier is available for choice by the citizens. In a communist society availability of the curve by the subjects is artificially restricted by state control to the low variance/low mean end. For the communist society, the stated purpose is to pursue a goal of “social justice.” The uniform result is an empoverished society.

One may make comparisons to the calls for intensive surveillance to maintain state security, down to the demands of university students for “safe spaces.” Inferences await as well the student of Scandinavian cradle-to-grave welfare states. These pursuits are left to the reader.

European Mathematical Society Issues Letter
Critical of U.S. President Donald Trump
and His Administration

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On 10 February 2017 the European Mathematical Society [EMS], of which I am a member of the governing Council, published a letter along with 55 other societies entitled, “European science organizations: maintain transparency, open communication and mobility of scholars and scientists.” The letter was not addressed to anyone, and thus rather was rather a statement of policy. A copy of the letter appears here: Letter Critical of Donald Trump. I suggest you read it before continuing.

First, I issue a disclosure. I am an American. I am grateful for my election to the Council by my peers, believing I am the first and only American so to serve. With this confidence placed in me by my peers I strive to serve their interests always ahead of my own.

Please be aware now that no one consulted me about the decision to publish this letter, to which I would have objected. I know not whether other members of the Council were consulted, but the authorization for the letter must have come either from President Pavel Exner of the EMS or its Executive Committee. The normative issue here is that confirmation by the Council to publish this letter should have been sought, if for no other reason than to protect the President and the Executive Committee from repercussions. Now they are coming.

The letter pure and simple is a diatribe against the President of the United States Donald Trump and his administration. It is a thinly veiled attempt to force the United States government to genuflect to the European scientific community, adhere to its concepts of worthy research projects, and to fund them to the full extent of the wishes of this community. Donald Trump is President of the United States, not of the world, nor even the European community of states, however described. As such, he and his administration have no duties to this community other that those specified by American law. These would include treaties as ratified by the Senate, including membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and membership in the United Nations. Nowhere included is a duty to send money to European scientists.

In particular, none of these signatories to the letter has any financial claim for research funding on any American institution, such as the National Science Foundation or the National Institutes of Health. The implication that they do devolves from this arrogant European stance that somehow American taxpayer money must fund their research projects under the guise of academic freedom. Further supercilious posturing includes ad hominem attacks on the United States President for his assumed positions on such subjects as climate change, and on his approach to the related concepts of state security and immigration policy.

I, along with almost all Americans support freedom of speech, and the right of these 56 institutions, including the EMS, to make the statement of their letter. However, let us not forget that to preserve this right, and others we hold dear in our Western democracies, over 117,000 American military personnel sacrificed their lives in Europe in the First World War, and over 185,000 sacrificed their lives in Europe and the Atlantic Theater in the Second World War. Many of these casualties are buried in cemeteries all over Europe.

So, back to the letter. It’s all about the money, isn’t it? How crass, how coarse, how base. But, what more does one expect from this bunch of elite snobs?

A book recommendation

P for Paul

Recently I read a very good book, especially for those mathematics buffs with a penchant for probability. The book is Fluke, the math and myth of coincidence by Joseph C. Mazur, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, Marlboro College, Marlboro, Vermont. You can read my review here, along with the complete citation: Referee Report

The book is available for purchase from Amazon, where it is also offered for the Kindle. Note that I have no financial interest in this referral.

Seventh European Congress
of Mathematics

Seventh European Congress of Mathematics

The Seventh European Congress of Mathematics has concluded in Berlin, Germany, during the period 18–22 July 2016. With over 1200 participants this quadrennial event is the largest gathering of mathematicians in Europe. The Congress, sponsored by the European Mathematical Society, lasted five days, with two days preceeding reserved for meetings of the EMS governing Council. Additional sponsors included the:

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The Nation in Princeton’s Service

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In its April 24, 2013, issue the Princeton Alumni Weekly published its recurring column, “The President’s Page” by soon-to-leave-office Shirley M. Tilghman. For this issue President Tilghman penned an unabashed lamentation, “The cold wind of sequestration,” referring to the United States Congress having allowed planned cuts in federal spending to go forward. Continue reading

Energy Finance 2012

Energy Finance 2012 Banner

The Energy Finance Conference 2012, sponsored by the Department of Industrial Economics and Technology Management of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, took place on the 4th and 5th of October at the Rica Nidelven Hotel. This Conference was a spectacular success, one of the best I have ever attended. Congratulations go to Conference Chairman Prof. Sjur Westgaard, Conference Vice Chairman Prof. Stein-Erik Fleten, and Secretary of the Steering Committee Postdoctoral Fellow Peter Molnar. Continue reading

Sixth European Congress
of Mathematics

Sixth European Congress of Mathematics

The Sixth European Congress of Mathematics has concluded in Krak√≥w, Poland, during the period 2–6 July 2012. With about 1000 participants this quadrennial event is the largest gathering of mathematicians in Europe. The Congress, sponsored by the European Mathematical Society, lasted five days, with two days preceeding reserved for meetings of the EMS governing Council. Additional sponsors included the Polish Mathematical Society and the Jagiellonian University, host of the event. Continue reading

Nordic Chapter Conference Oslo

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On 30 May 2012 the Nordic Chapter of Sigma Xi held its Third Annual Meeting and Research Conference in Oslo, Norway. The event was co-sponsored by the Centre of Mathematics for Applications, a Centre of Excellence of the Norwegian Research Council, and the University of Oslo, and took place on the Blindern campus of the University of Oslo in in the house of Niels Henrik Abel, named for the late, great, early 19th Century Norwegian mathematician. Continue reading