April 24, 2016 3 Comments
Well, perhaps a reminder of why businesses settle where they do. From Bill Whittle
The view from the Anglosphere
April 22, 2016 7 Comments
The problem with science is that so much of it simply isn’t. Last summer, the Open Science Collaboration announced that it had tried to replicate one hundred published psychology experiments sampled from three of the most prestigious journals in the field. Scientific claims rest on the idea that experiments repeated under nearly identical conditions ought to yield approximately the same results, but until very recently, very few had bothered to check in a systematic way whether this was actually the case. The OSC was the biggest attempt yet to check a field’s results, and the most shocking. In many cases, they had used original experimental materials, and sometimes even performed the experiments under the guidance of the original researchers. Of the studies that had originally reported positive results, an astonishing 65 percent failed to show statistical significance on replication, and many of the remainder showed greatly reduced effect sizes.
Their findings made the news, and quickly became a club with which to bash the social sciences. But the problem isn’t just with psychology. There’s an unspoken rule in the pharmaceutical industry that half of all academic biomedical research will ultimately prove false, and in 2011 a group of researchers at Bayer decided to test it. Looking at sixty-seven recent drug discovery projects based on preclinical cancer biology research, they found that in more than 75 percent of cases the published data did not match up with their in-house attempts to replicate. These were not studies published in fly-by-night oncology journals, but blockbuster research featured in Science, Nature, Cell, and the like. The Bayer researchers were drowning in bad studies, and it was to this, in part, that they attributed the mysteriously declining yields of drug pipelines. Perhaps so many of these new drugs fail to have an effect because the basic research on which their development was based isn’t valid.
When a study fails to replicate, there are two possible interpretations. The first is that, unbeknownst to the investigators, there was a real difference in experimental setup between the original investigation and the failed replication. These are colloquially referred to as “wallpaper effects,” the joke being that the experiment was affected by the color of the wallpaper in the room. This is the happiest possible explanation for failure to reproduce: It means that both experiments have revealed facts about the universe, and we now have the opportunity to learn what the difference was between them and to incorporate a new and subtler distinction into our theories.
The other interpretation is that the original finding was false. Unfortunately, an ingenious statistical argument shows that this second interpretation is far more likely. First articulated by John Ioannidis, a professor at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, this argument proceeds by a simple application of Bayesian statistics. Suppose that there are a hundred and one stones in a certain field. One of them has a diamond inside it, and, luckily, you have a diamond-detecting device that advertises 99 percent accuracy. After an hour or so of moving the device around, examining each stone in turn, suddenly alarms flash and sirens wail while the device is pointed at a promising-looking stone. What is the probability that the stone contains a diamond?[…]
[Speaking of the scientific method] If peer review is good at anything, it appears to be keeping unpopular ideas from being published. Consider the finding of another (yes, another) of these replicability studies, this time from a group of cancer researchers. In addition to reaching the now unsurprising conclusion that only a dismal 11 percent of the preclinical cancer research they examined could be validated after the fact, the authors identified another horrifying pattern: The “bad” papers that failed to replicate were, on average, cited far more often than the papers that did! As the authors put it, “some non-reproducible preclinical papers had spawned an entire field, with hundreds of secondary publications that expanded on elements of the original observation, but did not actually seek to confirm or falsify its fundamental basis.”
What they do not mention is that once an entire field has been created—with careers, funding, appointments, and prestige all premised upon an experimental result which was utterly false due either to fraud or to plain bad luck—pointing this fact out is not likely to be very popular. Peer review switches from merely useless to actively harmful. It may be ineffective at keeping papers with analytic or methodological flaws from being published, but it can be deadly effective at suppressing criticism of a dominant research paradigm. Even if a critic is able to get his work published, pointing out that the house you’ve built together is situated over a chasm will not endear him to his colleagues or, more importantly, to his mentors and patrons.
We see this all the time, don’t we? From climate science, to sugar in our diets, to low fat diets, to almost everything else, we have far more information available than any generation before us. That’s likely a good thing, except it all means this. We have far more false information available than any generation before us.
Maybe it wouldn’t matter but, as George Canning once observed:
I can prove anything by statistics except the truth.
And here’s another part that we must never forget, from Josiah Stamp:
The government are very keen on amassing statistics. They collect them, add them, raise them to the nth power, take the cube root and prepare wonderful diagrams. But you must never forget that every one of these figures comes in the first instance from the village watchman, who just puts down what he damn pleases.
See also: The Week: Big Science is Broken
April 1, 2016 15 Comments
A cosmetology license, required for hair braiding? Really?
Here: from the Daily Signal.
Just two weeks ago, Nebraskans who wanted to make money braiding hair had to undergo 2,100 hours of training to obtain a cosmetology license, which state officials say dedicates little time to natural hair braiding techniques.
But now Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican, has signed legislation into law that will lift arduous occupational licensing requirements on the state’s hair braiders. […]
She said the government is often “too intrusive” and enacts restrictions that prevent people from earning an honest living. She hopes her bill, which Ricketts signed into law March 9, will empower female professionals to take risks, which she said will help build self-esteem.
“It’s the pursuing of the American Dream,” Fox said. “I think when you start taking risks and accomplishing things, it kind of makes you, the entrepreneur, set the bar higher and try to accomplish more.”
Yes, yes it does. That’s exactly what it does. The opportunity to accomplish something on your own. If you don’t know this 2100 hours is about 52 weeks at 40 hours per week, what we call full time, by the way, all that for hair braiding.
Furth said Nebraska’s legislature should continue to deregulate work in the state, where there is “no serious, proven risk” to public safety.
“One easy way to deregulate is to accept other states’ licenses: If you’re good enough to be a dentist in Iowa, you’re good enough to be a dentist in Nebraska,” he said. “That’s an easy way for a state to attract more skilled workers without being accused of risking public safety.”
That I don’t completely agree with. While she’s right, as far as she goes, but she doesn’t go nearly far enough. As most of you know, I’m an electrician, and yes, I’m a pretty good one. And yes, bad electrical work can kill you, and do it quick, by electrocution, by fire, and by other things. But you know what, Nebraska’s licensing system, isn’t really about safety, maybe it was at one time, but now it functions as simply a medieval guild. It exists to prevent other equally good electricians from competing with the ones that have a license. If memory serves, neither Pennsylvania or Indiana have state licenses, although they likely have some sort of inspection regimen. By the way, here you need a state permit to change an outlet, which costs about $50 additional. Yeah, I know!
Short form is this, having a bloody piece of paper, and having pushed a broom for four years, and having passed a test I could have passed when I was 14 just does not make you a competent electrician, neither does mandated continuing education, which requires that half of the courses you take each biennial period duplicate over and over again. Electrical theory hasn’t changed much in the last fifty years, but what has changed is the material we work with. I spent most of my time in the last few years with single board computers, programmable logic controllers, variable frequency drives, computer networks and sensors, and other things that didn’t exist in 1980. I did not learn that in bogus seminars for licensing requirements, I learned that mostly in the field, by reading, and by taking real seminars that allowed me to do the job.
The code has changed, it’s purpose now is, as near as I can tell to keep an unattended two year child, or a stupid drug addict safe, and like I said in one of the linked articles, it forces us to refuse to work on really hazardous installations, unless the client can afford the tariff.
Are there solutions? Sure, but we’re not looking for them, because the manufacturers want to sell higher priced material, and the authority having jurisdiction, who by the way, is not your local inspector, have a need to, at all costs, protect their jobs, for which, frankly, I don’t blame them at all.
And yes, all of this has much to do with why I retired or was that got too tired to deal with it.
March 15, 2016 2 Comments
Continuing from yesterday, if you haven’t read part one, you should. These are some of the other things businesses look at when they think about opening new plants.
“Infrastructure: The US is tied together by a tight web of roads, ports, utilities, airports and railroads unmatched in the world. If you want to build a factory here, all you have to do is hook up to public utilities and pave a road from your parking lot to a public thoroughfare. That’s a tremendous advantage that much of the world doesn’t offer.
“Energy: Who here remembers $4.00/gallon gas? Remember dropping 60, 80, even 100 dollars or more, just to fill up the tank? Well, today you can fill up for 20-30 bucks. As much as I bet you like that, businesses like it more. […]
In fact, our infrastructure is so good that it’s cheaper for goods bound from China to Europe to be shipped from China to our west coast, loaded onto railroad cars, moved to our east coast, and reloaded onto ships bound for Europe, than it is to ship directly there by sea. Think about that one for a bit. That’s one reason you see so many container trains in America.
Note, that is not necessarily true for all business. For example, it’s not true for the crony green energy companies, or sometimes for the oil companies, or the big banks, and likely some others. But you know what, they’re big boys, they can adapt, or find productive things to do, instead of sucking at the public teat.
Labor: We’ve talked about labor cost, but as we agreed, that can’t be helped. American labor is the best in the world, and it shows. The problem is that labor is the only one of these things that employers think they have control over. If some other country makes them an offer that they believe balances out the USA’s advantage in stability, infrastructure and energy, and if that country has a much lower labor costs that top shelf American workers, that employer may see a high incentive to relocate, costing American workers their jobs. It would also seem that there is nothing that can be done about that, unless we curb…
“Regulatory expense. This is a big deal, and it is something that the Democrats are NEVER going to talk about. Regulatory compliance costs US companies just over 2 trillion dollars per year. Two trillion dollars. Even in Washington DC that’s a lot of money, it would retire the entire national debt in less than a decade. Hillary won’t talk about this. Bernie certainly won’t talk about this. No Democrat is ever going to mention the cost regulations impose upon American businesses and thus American jobs, because Democrats have only one solution to every problem: more regulation. It’s been said that when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, and Democrats have been hammering away American jobs with their regulatory hammer for decades.
“It’s actually insane. Clinically insane. Something is seen as a problem. Pass a new regulation! Don’t bother to see if existing regulations already exist or if your new regulation contradicts them, Let the peons worry about that, just pass a new law. Look! We DID SOMETHING!! Cost? Who cares about cost? Full speed ahead.
“More regulations mean more money and more power for the Washington cartel. Meanwhile, out here in the real world, businesses are getting hammered until moving out of the country entirely seems like a good solution. That $2 trillion? That works out to about $10,000 for every working man and woman in the country. Wouldn’t you like to see some of that money come back into your paychecks?
I’ll give you just one example here. If I as an electrician walk into the panel room of an industrial plant, I (and the company I work for) am responsible for every code violation in that room. I don’t have to upgrade it to current code, usually, yet anyway. But I’m supposed to fix all violations of whatever version of the code. The problem is, if I don’t, I can lose my license. If I do, nobody is required to pay me for doing so, and they won’t. It’ll come out of my pocket. How’s that working out? Very few electrical contractors will do industrial work anymore. And a fair number of us, have simply retired, because the money, which isn’t bad, just isn’t worth the hassle, in any part of the market, anymore. How do I know that? That’s what I did when I hit 62. Know what? You’re not going to build that factory without skilled and experienced electricians, and we’re damned rare on the ground, not least because we’re just plain tired of the nonsense.
So there’s a quick overview of some fundamentals for you. And you know, I think the American people might just still be smart enough. If Ted Cruz would say this, I suspect many would respond positively to it. Problem is, he’s a lawyer, not a salesman. Ronald Reagan, who said much of this, was a salesman, and we’re still living off his legacy, but the till is getting empty.
Always talk about the benefit, not the feature. Essential advice for us all.
March 11, 2016 8 Comments
Because Americans love Britain, and because we are a presumptuous lot, we often advise the United Kingdom on its foreign policy. And not only the UK, but Europe. Successive US administrations have urged European nations to form a United States of Europe as an answer to the question attributed to Henry Kissinger: ‘Who do I call if I want to call Europe?’
The latest such unrequested advice was offered to your Prime Minister by no less a foreign-policy maven — see his successes in Libya, Middle East, China, Crimea — than Barack Obama. The outgoing president informed David Cameron that his administration wants to see ‘a strong United Kingdom in a strong European Union’. He seemed to assume that, in the words of the Sinatra ballad, you can’t have one without the other.
But many of us here in the US are rooting for Brexit, and not just because we want what is best for Britain. We think Brexit would be in America’s interests.
Britain has long been America’s most valuable ally.
Yup, a full hundred years now, and our history of cooperation goes back even further, to almost immediately after the War of 1812. We’re proud of that, but there’s more. In many ways we are you. We, like you, look back at the long sweep of history and we see our political ancestors, fighting for liberty, against the Stuarts, the Plantagenet’s, and the Normans, all the way to Alfred the Great and perhaps further to Aethelbert of Kent, who wrote the first written law code in any Germanic language. Here, with the codification of Aethelberts’ Law is the origin of The Common Law, our joint heritage, and the one thing above all others that has made Britain and the America the only modern superpowers.
And mind you, the common law is the basis of the entire modern age, without its protection of lives and property from random seizure by an autocratic king, the world we jointly have made, would not exist. It would likely still be Hobbes’s vision, “Nasty, brutish, and short.” Look around, at the world, and where our influence is strongest, the people, not just the rulers prosper, where it wanes, the people suffer.
Dr. Suzannah Lipscomb made a video a few years ago that is on point, I think
I think she correct, and you know, if the Tudors made you what you are, you, at the height of your freedom, made us, it is above all the common heritage of the Anglosphere, and one that the whole world envies. If you would know why Britain and America are hated, look no further, it’s all based in envy of the people, and fear on the part of their rulers. Because we, and pretty much only we, have done all the things required to make it work. The rest, including most of Europe, give our principles only lip service, if that, and that is why thrice in the twentieth century, we, led by Britain and America, have had to rescue them from tyranny. Thrice, no less!
What I see in the European Union is still another attempt to bring Britain back under the control of Europe. One of the best analyses on this I’ve read is from Think Defence, an excellent British defense blog. He ends this way:
From a short to medium term operational defence and security perspective, I actually think the impact of BREXIT would be minimal either way. The advantages and disadvantages of EU membership, at least from this writers view of the defence and security landscape, seem to be hugely exaggerated by both sides of the debate.
NATO would remain, bilateral cooperation would continue and develop in other ways, defence spending will go up and down depending on threats and mechanisms for intelligence sharing explored, developed and implemented.
There are risks and opportunities on either side, but short term doom and gloom or the wide open uplands, in defence and security, you are looking in the wrong place.
At moment, more EU defence generally means more HQ’s, marching bands and flags, but after a remain vote and a period for dealing with the migrant crisis, calls for actual, real and tangible integration will get louder and louder.
For me at least, this is the question we should be dealing with, do we want a single EU state with a single EU Navy, Army and Air Force?
Everything else is a minor detail.
As an American, I can’t help but believe that the day the White Ensign is furled for the last time, succeeded by that obvious rip-off of the canton of the American flag, the chance of real freedom in the world, for all of us, will be reduced immeasurably. The Tudors made you (and us), it would be a shame to let Europe undo six hundred years of improving the human condition.
March 9, 2016 2 Comments
Over at RedState yesterday, Seton Motley has an article about how the Democrats are using chaos theory to destroy industry after industry, and I’ll add that they are doing so with at the least Republican acquiescence. It’s a sad story of the corruption (and weakening) of the Republic, but it is not a new one, it goes back to Teddy Roosevelt and Wilson, but picked up a lot of speed with Franklin Roosevelt, and even more with Johnson. Now it is getting to the end game, and either we do something about it or the dream ends, I think. Here’s a bit.
Government Flutters Its Wings – and Industries Nationwide Are Blown Away
A Leftist governmental principle is the Butterfly Effect: “A property of chaotic systems…by which small changes in initial conditions can lead to large-scale and unpredictable variation in the future state of the system.”
The Butterfly Effect is also known as Chaos Theory: “The field of study in mathematics that studies the behavior and condition of dynamical systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions.”
In layman’s terms: “It has been said that something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world.”
Leftists use government – to create private sector chaos. Even the tiniest of new laws or regulations send huge shockwaves throughout the economy. Leftists increasingly flap government’s wings – to further amp up the private sector typhoon.
No administration has marshaled more winged creatures – than has the Barack Obama Administration. And don’t think butterflies – think dragons. The resulting, ramped up economic typhoon has been devastating. Sector after sector has been consumed by the storm.
For instance, pre-President Obama said “If someone wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can – it’s just that it’ll bankrupt them.” Mission being accomplished: “Obama’s policies have ‘helped spur the closing of dozens of coal plants across the country,’ according to Politico. The November 2015 report states: ‘More than one in five coal-related jobs have disappeared during Obama’s presidency, and several major U.S. coal mining companies have announced this year that they would or may soon seek bankruptcy protection.’”
And believe me – you do not want to be a farmer in the Age of Obama.
It was already awful four years ago. EPA Regulations Suffocating U.S. Agriculture: “The Environmental Protection Agency has set in motion a significant number of new regulations that will significantly change the face of agriculture.
Yep, and don’t think it’s limited to business, which farming is, it has repercussions in many people’s lives, especially the poor, and downtrodden amongst us. Bill Whittle covered that better than I can here, in his Death by Democrats:
Adam Smith did indeed write to Sir John Sinclair with regard to the news of Burgoyne’s surrender at Saratoga that:
And that may save us yet if we put our shoulders to the wheel, but the hour grows later and later.