The "science" of climate change revealed

If you've been following the news (not necessarily the mainstream news) then you may have heard of a recent package of damaging data liberated from one of the major climate science research centers.  I say "liberated" because it was supposedly released by a team of hackers who broke into the computer systems and collected the data.  There are arguments about whether it may have been an internal leak trying to disguise the source.  While the provenance of the data is somewhat questionable, official sources have confirmed that there was a data leak and so far have said there's too much data to verify whether or not it is real.  That's a careful avoidance of saying it's faked, and it's a treasure trove of information about so-called scientists' efforts to stifle investigation and debate into the anthropogenic global warming myth.

So, without vouching for the data, or condoning the means by which it was obtained, I've put together a few links to sites that have done some careful examination of the data:
Assuming the data is mostly genuine, this seems like a classic case of whistleblowing.  We have emails talking about how to avoid releasing their scientific data to reviewers, including how to avoid freedom of information act requests; how to hide a decline in the warming trend; how to avoid accounting for the inconvenient medieval warm period; the unreliability of tree ring data on which vast amounts of climate science is based... there's a lot there, and perhaps worst of all, the complete datasets from major articles that were being suppressed.

The emails are very damaging and will likely be career-ending for some of the people featured in them.  The datasets, however, may well prove capable of destroying the entire global warming myth... simply by exposing their claims to real peer review.  

Mon Nov 23 12:05:27 CST 2009 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

UK implements Big Brother

In addition to police-monitored cameras all over the country, the government of Britain has decided to track every single user's internet usage.  Data will be retained for a year and can be accessed without a warrant, simply by obtaining the authorization of a senior police officer or deputy head of department.  Over 600 different government agencies will have access to this information, including police, local councils, and tax authorities.

Sigh.  The death of privacy is complete.

Tue Nov 10 12:40:26 CST 2009 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Adoption and Guns

Should an adoption agency be able to consider whether a household has firearms as part of a decision on whether to allow adoption?  The question has come to a head in Florida, where at least one agency is using forms that ask about firearms ownership as part of the adoption process. 

This one strikes a little close to home for me because I was adopted.  My adopted family did not have guns in the house while I was growing up, and I do not think that was a good thing.  Obviously it doesn't determine the outcome of a child's life, but it's made my own interest in firearms more difficult to pursue -- and I had more opportunities than most kids in a home without firearms would have, because I encountered firearms in a controlled and positive environment outside of the home.  Many others would have only negative experiences with guns in the absence of a family that can demonstrate positive gun ownership. 

So what are the pros and cons of considering gun ownership in the adoption process?  To start with, let's frame the question a little bit more.  Kids are not only adopted as newborns; some are adopted significantly older than that, even potentially as teenagers.  Some are adopted by strangers, others by family friends or relatives after the parents pass away.  There's a broad spectrum of adoptees to consider, and many of those who are no longer newborns are not exactly angels either.

So, on the pro side:
  • Some children may not be responsible enough to handle firearms when adopted, through no fault of the adopting parents;
  • Some children may intentionally misuse firearms.
  • The adopting parents are taking an unknown factor into their home, and may not fully appreciate the necessary precautions.
  • The decision to allow an adoption is one where a great deal of discretion is present on many different factors.  Gun ownership is by no means the only potentially discriminating factor.
  • There is some evidence that responsible use of legal firearms helps children to avoid other negative behaviors.
On the con side:
  • Asking about firearms ownership creates a registry of firearms in the possession of the government agencies charged with making that decision.
  • Asking about firearms is likely to strongly, and irrationally, prejudice the people making the decision whether to allow the adoption.
  • Making a gun-free home a prerequisite for adoption is likely to discourage an enumerated Constitutional right, even if such restrictions are not applied to a broad segment of the population.
  • Nothing that I know of prevents adoptive parents from acquiring a firearm after the adoption decision has been made.
  • The degree of scrutiny applied to potential adopting parents is almost certainly already sufficient to screen out felons, who are already prohibited from possessing firearms.
What it boils down to is simple.  There are people who can be trusted with firearms, there are people who can't be trusted with firearms, and people move between those groups in both directions.   Asking about gun ownership is not enough information (even if answered truthfully) to determine whether someone is a responsible gun owner, or whether a child is at particular risk for a bad outcome from being in a gun-owning home.  Asking the question by itself (regardless of how the answer is handled) creates some negative consequences.

And it's all unnecessary, because we already have a societal proxy for responsible gun ownership.  Quite simply, we treat felons (plus those convicted of domestic violence) as not being sufficiently responsible to own a gun; all other adults are considered responsible by default.  The adoption process almost certainly checks for a criminal record already.  Thus, we are already weeding out the "bad gun owners" earlier in the process, using a method which does not have privacy implications and does not impose a Constitutional right. 

Because felons are already excluded, asking about firearms specifically during the adoption process can only lead to negative results.  There is no positive benefit to asking about firearms in addition to checking for criminal background.

That should make the decision simple.

Tue Nov 10 12:18:47 CST 2009 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

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