Sunday, January 29, 2012

Why Lisa Kennedy, aka "Kennedy", is a Moron!

Lisa Kennedy Montgomery, talk show radio host and sometime commentator for reason Tv, appeared on the Bill Maher HBO 'Real Time' show Friday night. For the first several minutes, I watched and speculated that an intelligent newcomer find was perhaps made by Bill. While it's always nice to see and hear the usual brilliant guests, like Gore Vidal, Rachel Maddow, and Prof. Michael Dyson, it's great to get the perspectives of new minds too.

Regarding "Kennedy" or Ms. Kennedy (or Ms. Montgomery) the most useful trope applicable in Maher's Friday night show might have been along the lines of "better to remain quiet and be suspected of being a fool, than to open one's mouth and confirm it". In this case, my suspicions were first triggered when the panel discussed the Jan Brewer incident a few days ago, when the Arizona governor confronted President Obama on the airport tarmac in Phoenix and wagged her finger in his face. At least this is what the photograph showed.

As usual, Bill and his other guest Martin Bashir had the correct take that it was the epitome of disrespect. Dana Rohrabacher was somewhat off the wall, saying Brewer was "entitled" on account of the fact "a President is not a King or Queen" - implying that to critique this gauche conduct of the AZ governor was the same as obeisance. I basically wrote Rohrabacher's reply off as the product of one suffering from Alzheimer's and awaited Kennedy's response.

She asserted there was no way that a governor who was male would be criticized like Brewer had been. In other words, to this bubblehead, it was all about sexism and nothing more. Anyway, my suspicions that she was a nitwit had been established.

She then confirmed it with two later remarks-comments in the course of a rapid conversation touching several subjects. One of these was global warming, which of course the libertarian crowd (that runs 'Reason' magazine) doesn't accept. So, one more or less expected a stock, stupid answer and we got it:

"Sunspots!" Kennedy blurted

In other words, all the climate change debate amounted to was blaming manade CO2 instead of the true culprit: the heating from "sunspots".

Personally, I doubt Lisa even knows what a sunspot is, but let's briefly review. According to the standard (sunspot) theory of former Univ. of Chicago astrophysicist Eugene Parker, the "inverse ion hurricane" represented by a large sunspot, enables the basis for the latent energy to translate into a convective collapse process so the luminosity can flow out and around the periphery of spots. This effect operates according to the ionization reaction:

H + (energy) -> H+ + e(-)

backing up the supposition that a super-adiabatic temperature gradient is largest near the surface and its associated latent energy. Thus, what we see happening with accumulation of large spots (see the photo which I took of a mammoth group of spots on Nov. 4, 1980) is the redirection of heat to the periphery of the spot(s) yielding an enhanced solar irradiance. This is counterintuitive, since spots are actually cooler regions in relation to the Sun's surrounding photosphere, which is roughly 1500 K hotter.

The irradiance is just the solar radiance - in watts per square meter per steradian - integrated over the full solar disk."Steradian" denotes a solid angle measure. See, e.g. the definitional details (with diagrams) here:

Needless to say, solar irradiance has a direct bearing on the issue of climate change and to what degree the Sun is responsible, and especially whether (quantitatively) its irradiance over any one solar cycle or period therein overrides the human-incepted, CO2 -driven, greenhouse effect.

So, at least if "Kennedy" somehow meant this when she blurted out "sunspots" she was in the ballpark. But of course given she didn't elaborate, we simply don't know.

Where the problem comes in, is the actual relative contributions of heating arising from a nonlinear driver or forcing agent from global warming, vis-a-vis the contribution from solar irradiance.

In his lecture at the 40th Meeting of the Solar Physics Division of the American Astronomical Society ('Solar Irradiance: Recent Results and Future Research Plans'), in June, 2009, Thomas N. Woods of the University of Colorado dealt with the matter as it pertains to the current cycle, and in particular some recent measurements.Woods began by noting the assorted recent periods wherein irradiance measurably varied, including: the Medieval maximum, the Sporer minimum (1400s), the Maunder minimum (1600s), the Dalton minimum (1800s). He noted with emphasis that there was no single uniform value to characterize a time interval or period, since the radiance itself can vary hugely on small or local scales. For example, solar flares can propel radiance increases 50 times over normal and thereby affect the irradiance.

On average though, with such violent inputs smoothed out, the Earth's temperature changes by about 0.07 K (kelvin) over a given solar cycle - but not continuously cumulative, i.e. the temperatures don't keep building but diminish with the next sunspot minimum. Compare this to the 0.6 K change (increase) in global temperatures over the past 100 years arising from human-caused greenhouse effect. Thus, the human component is over 8.5 times greater.

Even if the solar forcing on climate is enhanced by positive feedbacks the amplification is usually no more than a factor 2. So that T= 0.07 K increases become T' = 0.14 K increases. The human component is still more important by a factor 4.2, a point made by Woods when he emphasized that the recent results support the hypothesis that anthropogenic greenhouse gases are the primary contributor. This despite all the politicos, think tanks, Libbies and their Reason mags or tv -radio shows and other yahoos who keep blabbering that climate change arises from "natural cycles" - meaning the Sun is responsible. Sunspots obviously enters into this.

Now, what can be conceded here is that we may need to re-examine the standard solar dynamo theory. This is the Babcock-Leighton theory that every 11 years or so, magnetic fields on the Sun attain a high torsional component which causes them to "twist" up and also move from more northerly to more southerly solar latitudes where most active regions (ARs) form.

Typically, this is around 22-23 heliographic degrees. But during the interphase of the current cycle (24) with its predescessor, the torsional oscillation flow for the latter had been hovering near heliographic latitude 33 degrees, nearly 10 degrees off. Even moving at about 7 Mm (mega-meters or 10^6 meters) a year southward, this would take over 2 years to reach a latitude of 23 degrees, where large active regions (and spots!) ought to form.

THIS is what we would need to account for, a time delay associated with sunspots arriving at their "correct" heliographic latitudes. Any such remodeling of the basic dynamo model would, obviously, be difficult and require more detailed analysis of associated cycle tachoclines, and the meriodonal flows inside the Sun. This means MONEY.

But my point here is that while the time delay aspect needs to be re-visited, the relative warming contributions of sunspots vs. the nonlinear climate agents (greenhouse gases) do not. We know CO2 alone is driving up the solar insolation -heating at the increment of 2 watts per sq. meter per year with every 2 parts per million added. The reason as I stated before, is that all greenhouse gases act as primal heat amps on account of their molecular vibration properties. So, maybe if Ms. Kennedy is going to comment on "sunspots" in relation to climate change, she'd best do so by first getting a Physics degree in addition to her Philosophy degree. (I walways wondered where philosophy majors ended up. Now I know, on conservative talk radio shows!)

Anyway, Kennedy's other vacuous, lowbrow remark was that "Atheism is a religion". Bill Maher did his best to rebut this recycled foolishness in the time he had, but it wasn't enough and he moved on to his 'New Rules'.

But let's make no mistake that the claim is absurd on its face. The misplaced strategy, however, is always to attempt to place atheism within the same logical context as religion and then attack it on the basis of occupying an analogous “belief” spectrum. In the end, this is a fool’s errand.

For one thing it turns the very meaning and basis of religion on its head. We know all religions embody centralized beliefs or dogmas that issue from some sacred scripture or a body of theology based on scriptural interpretations.. Atheism has none of these, since there are no central propositions or beliefs with which all atheists agree.

A religion, by contrast, will have a core set of beliefs to which EVERYONE subscribes.

Further, atheists numbered amongst the most dominant version ("implicit atheism") withhold belief, they do not invest it. This alone separates atheists from religionists or people of faith. Second, atheists make no positive claims for any transcendent existent that requires their worship or obeisance. They simply acknowledge no god or entity with which to build a religion in other words. Third, atheists maintain no sacred works, scriptures, or ancient artifacts, from which their “truths” are extracted. They have no analog to a Bible, Qu’ran, Talmud or anything remotely similar. Instead, atheists pursue objective truth via open inquiry predicated on current science, which may provide fewer certainties or answers than if they merely placed their faith in a book.

Fourth, atheists convene no regular rituals, services or ceremonies to honor, or propitiate any entity. By contrast, the centerpiece of 99 percent of religions is precisely some social ritual, for the purpose of assembling together like-minded believers toward a common goal. Moreover, their churches, synagogues, temples etc. dot the landscape, taking up room that could be used to house the homeless in each respective area or locale.

Perhaps most importantly, there is no "acceptance" of atheist core principles from any “congregation” since there’s no homogeneous congregation to bestow it. Atheists often disagree on as many things as they agree on, precisely because no formal coda exists to fix beliefs within a uniform dogma.

Indeed, atheists can't even agree on whether the foundational philosophy of Materialism (actually scientific Materialism) is the cornerstone for atheist thought! Even the ones that do accept some form of Materialism don't always agree on which type. Thus one might encounter:

- Physicalist Materialism (everything in the cosmos has a physical nature)

- Epiphenomenalist Materialism (non-physical processes occur that are contingent on physical origins, organs, etc.)

- Panpsychic Materialism (attributes a mental character to physical entities)

- Emergent Materialism (can attribute vitalist forces to physical nature)

- Dialectical Materialism (mental processes evolve from physical ones)

Despite this, there remain some (evidently like "Kennedy") who insist that if an atheist simply doesn’t believe in the supernatural or God he is expressing a belief, albeit a negative one. If expressing a negative belief, then it's the same as a positive belief such as invoked in religions, ergo he is professing a religion. This is utter nonsense.

It would be akin to asserting that if I decline belief in ghosts I still have “negative ghost belief” and therefore am a Ghostologist ! The error inheres in asserting that an absence of belief is the same as a belief. This error repeats the canard that the onus is on the atheist to disprove the believer’s claim, instead of acknowledging it is impossible to prove a negative. Some sophists attempt to get around this by claiming it isn’t impossible to prove a negative. They argue that they can prove “there are no black balls” in a box by simply emptying the box out and finding all white balls. But this misrepresents the example, since the possibility of “all white” balls was never in question! The analogy is specious because the existence of God IS in question, and isn’t objectively verifiable, unlike counting real balls. The analogy trivializes the deity existence question while not validating the sophist.

The bottom line is that Lisa Kennedy, in her debut on Maher last night, merely showed herself to be another conservo meathead like a former guest Maher had on some time ago, the pseudo-atheist and pseudo-intellectual S.E. Cupp. See, e.g.


Nessa said...

My goodness, I am glad to see someone took the time to spell out WHY this woman is a complete, airhead, conservative walkie-talkie. The way she mixed up her "sassy" voice while spewing garbage.. like she was trying to be hip, or funny? It makes me more sad than anything. I can understand a republican in office acting that way (Dana, he was awful, but I digress), I just can't abide some talk radio mouthpiece like her. Or as she would probably say, I'm a sexist. Hah. It's one thing to disagree with policy, but just like you said.. her whole faux stance became so clear when she opened her mouth about sunspots. Please, please let there be a conservative out there that says "I disagree with Obama, but I'm not crazy enough to ignore scientific FACT." Please, show me that. Because these days, it seems like more than ever it's all or nothing, and the right is very angry. Like Maher says, they live in the bubble and there's no place for real life in there, but there's so many people in that bubble that it really frightens me for the future of our country, and one half of the panel of last Fridays show was a perfect example of it. It makes me wonder if they actually believe what they are saying.. but they must, to go on tv and make asses of themselves.

DMAX said...

I'm in the midst of watching this episode of 'Real Time' and wow! She seems to just cling onto the last sentence of the last person speaking and attach some argumentative cliche to make herself sound smart. It is taxing to watch. Eww. I doubt she has any rooted views, right or left. Anyhow, she is not only dumb but so incredibly annoying.

lherman22 said...

"Atheism has none of these, since there are no central propositions or beliefs with which all atheists agree. A religion, by contrast, will have a core set of beliefs to which EVERYONE subscribes." Hmmm...let us consult a dictionary.

Atheism as defined by Merriam-Webster:
a: a DISBELIEF in the existence of deity
b: the DOCTRINE that there is no deity

Atheist as defined by Merriam-Webster:
one who BELIEVES that there is no deity

Atheism, by defintion, IS the specific proposition, belief, and teaching that there is no God or a god(s): You are NOT an atheist if you do not believe this, hence ALL atheists agree on said belief in the nonexistence of God or a god(s). Learn to use a dictionary.

Copernicus said...

lhermann22 thus spake:

"Atheism as defined by Merriam-Webster:
a: a DISBELIEF in the existence of deity
b: the DOCTRINE that there is no deity

Atheist as defined by Merriam-Webster:
one who BELIEVES that there is no deity"

And your point is, what? I need to use a dictionary to define atheism? A dictionary is intended mainly for the lazy, insecure or unknowledgeable who - unable to process subtlety in parsing competing philosophies, -isms etc. need to be spoon fed and hand held. Hence, those who are actually atheists - as opposed to outsiders who need to be verbally guided and mentally-herded, don't require dictionaries. Whether Merriam-Websters, the Oxford or any other variants.

Thus, in its most basic form - divested of the interpretations and filters of non-atheists, atheism is simply the **withholding of belief**.

What is happening here is not active disbelief, i.e. making a statement 'I believe there is no god', but rather simply passively withholding belief/acceptance in a statement already made. Hence, the deity believer has made the positive claim. The ontological atheist’s is the absence of belief in it. No more - no less.

If you are mentally unable to discriminate between the absence of a thing and a manifestation of it, there's not much more I can do for you - other than maybe bracket you with Lisa K.

"Atheism, by defintion, IS the specific proposition, belief, and teaching that there is no God or a god(s): You are NOT an atheist if you do not believe this, hence ALL atheists agree on said belief in the nonexistence of God or a god(s). Learn to use a dictionary. "

No - you learn to use your own mind and not have to use a mental crutch to get you through a comment. There are actually TWO basic manifestations of atheist: explicit and implicit (the latter usually confused with agnostics). The first essentially asserts there is no god, the second withholds belief in any claimed by theists.

The second is not an "agnostic" because he rationally maintains the onus is on the claimant to prove his entity, not on him to disprove it. Hence, he subscribes to Sagan's original injunction that 'extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.'

Since God is an extraordinary claim, at least as supernaturally conceived, then we require extraordinary evidence. In its absence we are entitled to withhold belief in the claim. This is NOT the same as negative belief, though I doubt you will ever understand the difference.