Embiggening the science

Josh of cartoonsbyjosh.com writes:

See Judith Curry’s great post about what looks like an interesting new book by David Weinberger Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren’t the Facts, Experts are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room is the Room.

Feels like familiar territory.

Here’s the cartoon:

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40 Responses to Embiggening the science

  1. I just heard an interview with him on CBC radio on Sunday. Not bad, but nothing struck me as new.

  2. Bloke down the pub says:

    Sorry Josh, but one Mann is too many. The idea that there’s a room somewhere full of them is just too creepy.

  3. George E. Smith; says:

    Not to mention Embigenning the English Vocabulary.

    I’m going to steal that one from you fair and square.

    George

  4. In Burrito says:

    There’s nothing novel about “embiggening” George…it’s a perfectly cromulent word.

  5. Adam Gallon says:

    All in purple. Are they, sorry,is he a David Icke fan?

  6. Andrew says:

    Seeing that cartoon reminded me of one of my favorite old brain teasers…”If you were in a room and all four sides were facing south…and a polar bear walked by…what color is the bear?”

    The answer…white, because you are at the North Pole…and it would have to be a polar bear.

    I am not sure what the point of all this is, but it’s kinda funny. Because in Mann’s World not only will there not be snow in England for all kiddies of tomorrow (non specific time frame – double sarc). My dumb joke will really confuse feeble minds, because there won’t be any polar bears, nor any ice because the North Pole will be a Tropical Paradise…which is kinda like Military Intelligence… I think…

  7. Mike Mangan says:

    His eyes are drawn too big. He looks much more like Mole Mann to me, in real life.

  8. RockyRoad says:

    The only thing green about Mann is his shoes, because everybody knows what he repeatedly steps in.

  9. Scott Covert says:

    Now MM the surgeon wearing purple scrubs and green crocks. That’s exactly what the surgeon that did my wife’s biopsy looked like except for the surgical doo rag.

    MM holding something sharp is a frightening thought.

  10. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    Another cautionary tale about the dangers of human cloning…

  11. Matthew W says:

    In Burrito says:
    January 10, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    There’s nothing novel about “embiggening” George…it’s a perfectly cromulent word.
    ===============================================================
    I didn’t know those were words until I moved to Springfield !!

  12. Rosco says:

    “Bloke down the pub says:
    Sorry Josh, but one Mann is too many. The idea that there’s a room somewhere full of them is just too creepy.”

    Not really – so long as the room has nice padded walls and is on a large estate surrounded by unclimable walls and staffed by lots of nice nurses, orderlies and doctors.

  13. George E. Smith; says:

    “”””” In Burrito says:

    January 10, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    There’s nothing novel about “embiggening” George…it’s a perfectly cromulent word. “”””

    my German is crappy, beyond belief, specially when it comes to those umlauts; well all louts really.

    Is “em” a short form of “in dem”, so we have ” in dem beginning “”

    Nope; got some typos there; that is biggening, and not beginning; and I think the Prussian part is actually “im” rather than “em”.

    Damn, I thought I already had it decoded !

    I’m sure I read that “in dem beginning” somewhere; some old book. I know it’s not “A tale of Two Cities” that’s something like: ” It was the best of times; it was the worst of times” Well make up your mind; which book you are going to write.

    Well that “cromulent” izzat something to do with Tamale husks; they are pretty cromulent, if you try to eat the Tamale, in the husk; put me off the damn things for years, before someone told me to discromulate them first. Now I can’t stand them but MIL still makes the world’s best ones; so I eat them just to please her.

  14. Ric Werme says:

    Andrew says:
    January 10, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Seeing that cartoon reminded me of one of my favorite old brain teasers…”If you were in a room and all four sides were facing south…and a polar bear walked by…what color is the bear?”

    That must be the modern, politically correct version. The one I read in Scientific American’s Mathematical Games was “A hunter heads one mile south, then one mile east, then one mile north and finds himself where he started. He shoots a bear, what color is it?”

    While there is only one place in the northern hemisphere where that path works, there are an infinite number of latitudes in the southern hemisphere. The northernmost one is one mile north of the latitude circle that has a one mile circumference. (Of course, the next path will include the latitude circle half a mile in circumference.)

    There won’t be any bears there, so the question as stated has only one correct answer.

    What was the topic? Oh multi-Mann. No problem going off-topic in this thread, then. :-)

  15. Andrew says:

    George E. Smith; says”:…..yada yada yada….”

    George, I think you have it all wrong. “In dem beginning”…is a reference to some old baseball movie about the Anaheim franchise or something.

    The Best of Times is a song from a rock band called Sticks…or something.

    …and I think “A tale from Two Cities” was written by the same guy that wrote about catching that big fish…I think it was a Dolly Varden, Salvelinus malma malma, but I might need to check my facts.

    I am amaized you can call MIL’s Tamales the Worlds Best, when you are clearly a Tamale Denier…but I digress…and who is MIL? Now I am confused…I am just an ordinary average guy, not some super smart science guy.

  16. Matthew W says:

    George E. Smith; says:
    January 10, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    “”””” In Burrito says:

    January 10, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    There’s nothing novel about “embiggening” George…it’s a perfectly cromulent word. “”””
    =========================================================================
    No, think more “low brow”
    The Simpsons”!!!!

  17. TerryS says:

    I see Josh has the same issue as climate modellers – he never takes account of the clouds.
    They are obviously the most intelligent ones in the room since nobody understands them.

  18. James Sexton says:

    Yes, we knew that already. We’ve know this for years. And, in regards to our climate, it will always be so. We don’t, we can’t, know what we don’t know. All of the questions lead back to the original question. And the answer to the original question requires faith before one can know it.

  19. Alan Clark of Dirty Oil-berta says:

    I found this Bloomberg article today interesting in that I was unaware that Barack Obama had an initiative in consideration that implores publicly-funded scientists to share their data and their code or lose their funding.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-10/scientists-share-secrets-or-lose-funding-stodden-and-arbesman.html

  20. George E. Smith; says:

    “”””” Andrew says:

    January 10, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    George E. Smith; says”:…..yada yada yada….”

    George, I think you have it all wrong. “In dem beginning”…is a reference to some old baseball movie about the Anaheim franchise or something. “””””

    Well MIL is my Mother in Law. and now that you tweaked my memory, it was Satchel Paige wot said “in dem beginning.”, and as old as that old coot was, he had to be there in dem beginning.

    Actually got to see old Satch play for the St Louis Cardinals circa 1964-67 in STL I figure he was 137 years old even then.

  21. Pamela Gray says:

    How can you tell the difference between a really good new PhD climate scientist and a bad one? If it walks like a Mann, acts like a Mann, and talks like a Mann, it is a bad one. Sorry guys, but just had to say it.

  22. Bill Illis says:

    This is the reason I got into this debate.

    Having had experience in complex systems where, at the end of the day, it just became the most reasonable position to take to say we have to measure what “actually happens” after the fact because the projections almost never matched what actually happened at end of the day, it was clear to me that the theory and the climate model projections were too theoritical (and too dogmatic in that theory) while measuring what actually happens was almost disregarded. This is not science and I also had a strong interest in good science.

    The Earth receives 1.1 X 10^38 solar photons each day and emits 6.7 X 10^38 IR photons each day and the energy represented by these photons spends time in 8 billion different molecules before they escape from the Earth and the delay in this absorption and emission produces the 2 metre air temperature that we experience.

    We are NOT going to be able to model that system. The numbers and the interactions are just far too complex and far too large. 10^38 times too complex.

    We have to measure what actually happens after the fact and then we will know a billion (or 10^38) times better what will happen in the future rather than relying on some dogmatic theory.

  23. Only one Mann has a smile. Is that the one who can see the hockey stick? ;-)

  24. wayne says:

    Oh no! Gavin clones!! The bricks will cover us all.

    > Great as usual Josh.

  25. polistra says:

    Trying to return to the topic…. The Amazon description of the book begins: “We used to know how to know. We got our answers from books or experts.”

    Well, actually that was only true for a short while in certain circles. Roughly speaking, it was true in the 20th century among educated people in a few rich countries.

    Nearly all humans through nearly all of history got their knowledge from direct observation, or by verbal and experiential teaching from parents and other elders. I suppose you could class the elders as “experts”, but they weren’t licensed by universities or governments; they were trusted because their advice turned out to be true.

    In other words, it was all experimental, tested in various ways, How-knowledge.

    The 20th century trusting of books (What-knowledge) and credentialled celebrity experts (Who-knowledge) was a temporary aberration, and we’re starting to return to a more sane respect for How. Thank God.

    [This might be Weinberger's point anyway, but I didn't get that feeling from the reviews at Amazon.]

  26. dtbronzich says:

    Quantum Manns! Oh Noes!!!

  27. Otter says:

    Someone must have felt that the Good Ship IPCC was under-manned…

  28. Jim Masterson says:

    >>
    Andrew says:
    January 10, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Seeing that cartoon reminded me of one of my favorite old brain teasers…”If you were in a room and all four sides were facing south…and a polar bear walked by…what color is the bear?”
    <<

    I’m being just a little nit-picky, but you put the punch line in your riddle. It should read: “If you were in a (rectangular) room where all four sides were facing south and a bear walked by–what color is the bear?” You had to deduce that you were at the North Pole and that the animal was a polar bear. The color of the bear then follows.

    Jim

  29. John Brookes says:

    I’ve noticed this idea appearing on “skeptic” web sites. Its the, “oh no its too complicated for us to understand” idea.

    The knack, of course, is to work out what is knowable, and go after it. Thus far climate scientists and their models seem to be doing pretty well.

  30. clipe says: January 10, 2012 at 3:35 pm
    Polar Bears aren’t white.
    *********
    Thank you for pointing this out. Calling Polar Bears “white” is to denigrate their ethnicity. They are “Ursus-Americans”!

    (Well, Ursus Maritimus – Americans to be more correct. Not to be confused with Ursus Arctos Horribilis – Americans who have even a cooler name!)

    Regards,
    Steamboat Jack (Jon Jewett’s evil twin)

  31. Brian H says:

    Andrew says:
    January 10, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    My dumb joke will really confuse feeble minds, because there won’t be any polar bears, nor any ice because the North Pole will be a Tropical Paradise

    Nope. That requires eliminating Antarctica, or at least dragging it off the South Pole.

    John Brookes says:
    January 11, 2012 at 3:08 am

    I’ve noticed this idea appearing on “skeptic” web sites. Its the, “oh no its too complicated for us to understand” idea.

    The knack, of course, is to work out what is knowable, and go after it. Thus far climate scientists and their models seem to be doing pretty well.

    I’d say “You have to be joking!” but you clearly aren’t.
    Climate scientists and their models are first and foremost doing pretty well at demonstrating that climate’s definitely far too complicated for THEM to understand. That’s why they restrict themselves to toy model ‘scenarios’.

  32. Brian H says:

    Steamboat Jack says:
    January 11, 2012 at 6:56 am

    clipe says: January 10, 2012 at 3:35 pm
    Polar Bears aren’t white.
    *********
    Thank you for pointing this out. Calling Polar Bears “white” is to denigrate their ethnicity. They are “Ursus-Americans”!

    (Well, Ursus Maritimus – Americans to be more correct. Not to be confused with Ursus Arctos Horribilis – Americans who have even a cooler name!)

    Regards,
    Steamboat Jack (Jon Jewett’s evil twin)

    Under their translucent, hollow fur hairs their skin is black. The fur maximizes SW transmission to the dark skin, but blocks IR outgoing. Very clever, those bears!

  33. kwik says:

    Otter says:
    January 11, 2012 at 1:35 am

    “Someone must have felt that the Good Ship IPCC was under-manned…”

    It’s from the outlook post in the bow of the Titanic.

  34. Brian H says: January 11, 2012 at 11:06 am
    (Ursus Maritimus, AKA Polar Bears)……… Under their translucent, hollow fur hairs their skin is black. The fur maximizes SW transmission to the dark skin, but blocks IR outgoing. Very clever, those bears!
    **************
    Dang! That sounds suspiciously like they are Global Warming Bears! Does Al Gore know about this?? No wonder they are all going to drown. The Bearskin Greenhouse Effect is going to turn them into fireballs which will melt through the ice! Maybe all the way to China! It’s much worse than we thought!

    The Horror of it All is giving me palpitations!
    Steamboat Jack (Jon Jewett’s evil twin)

  35. Brian H says:

    In the Embiggening, there was the IPCC, which created Mann to worship It.

  36. Brian H says:

    Steamboat Jack says:
    January 11, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    Dang! That sounds suspiciously like they are Global Warming Bears! Does Al Gore know about this?? No wonder they are all going to drown. The Bearskin Greenhouse Effect is going to turn them into fireballs which will melt through the ice! Maybe all the way to China! It’s much worse than we thought!

    The Horror of it All is giving me palpitations!
    Steamboat Jack (Jon Jewett’s evil twin)

    Nah. They’re very selfish bears; they keep all that heat to themselves. That’s why they get so fat; it’s an ursine function of E=mc^2, or m=E/c^2, expressed as blubber. Under extreme cold-stress, they can reverse the process to walk on water!

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