Sunday, February 17, 2019


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG deplores the medevac legislation

Heat on Australian Bureau of Meteorology over data records rewrite</>

Odd that Warmist revisions of the temperature record always make the past colder.  If the revisions really were corrections for errror, we would expect that some records of the past would show up as warmer occasionally.  It doesn't happen.  The "errors" are systematic. Jennifer Marohasy has shown on a few occasions that their "adjustments" are unreasonable.  Her comment on the latest fandango is here

The Bureau of Meteorology has rewritten Australia’s temperature records for the second time in six years, greatly increasing the rate of warming since 1910 in its controversial homogenised data set.

Rather than the nation’s temperature having increased by 1C over the past century, the ­bureau’s updated homogenised data set, known as ACORN-SAT, now shows mean temperatures have risen by 1.23C.

Bureau data shows the rate of mean warming since 1960 has risen to 0.2C a decade, putting the more ambitious IPCC target of limiting future warming to 1.5C close to being broken.

Homogenisation of temperature records is considered necessary to account for changes in instrumentation, changes in site locations and changes in the time at which temperatures were taken. But the bureau’s treatment of historical data has been controversial. In recent years there have been claims that the organisation was treating temperature records in such a way that left it exposed to accusations that ideological pursuits had trumped good scientific practice.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott unsuccessfully pushed for a forensic investigation into the bureau’s methods.

A number of reviews of the ­bureau’s network equipment and its temperature data handling have been carried out. A technical panel found the homogenisation methods used were largely sound.

But a key recommendation, to include confidence levels or error margins in the data, remains ­unfulfilled. A BoM spokesman said work was under way on a number of scientific papers looking at uncertainty and confidence intervals for temperature data ­observations, adjustments and national averages. “This work will be made available to the public following ­thorough peer review,” the spokesman said.

The bureau had fiercely defended the accuracy of its original ACORN-SAT data. But more ­recent analysis, including the ­removal of rounding errors, has effectively increased the rate of warming by 23 per cent, compared with the earlier homogenised ACORN version-one data.

Detailed technical information on the ACORN-SAT ­update was published late last year, but there has been no public ­announcement of the revised data, which is now considered the official national average temperature record. A bureau review of the ­homogenised data said the new version had “increased ­robustness and greater spatial ­coherence”.

The updating of the ACORN-SAT data coincided with the ­release last October of a new version of US weather agency NOAA’s global land temperature data set.

A bureau spokesman said ACORN-SAT version two was the bureau’s “improved official homogeneous temperature data set”. The new data set benefited from “the numerous scientific and technological advances which have occurred over the past six years, as well as the ­insights and recommendations from an independent ACORN-SAT technical advisory forum”.

“It also contains new data which was not previously available when the bureau developed the first data set,” he said.

The bureau said the updates had been independently peer-­reviewed, and the findings were that the methodology was “rigorous and reliable”.

Scientist Jennifer Marohasy said that while version two of the data had used the same set of 112 stations as had been used in version one, the data had been remodelled relative to the raw data and also relative to the remodelled version one.

The bureau said the data in version two was subjected to two rounds of homogenisation, as had been the case with version one. “In total, 22 of the 966 ­adjustments applied in version two of the ACORN-SAT data set arose from this second-round procedure,” the bureau said.

A technical analysis of ACORN-SAT 2 by the bureau said 1910-2016 trends in Australian temperature were about 0.02C a decade higher than those found in version one. It said rounding errors in version one accounted for much of the new trend.

Dr Marohasy said the bureau had not explained how it could have generated a 23 per cent increase in the rate of warming, just through updating the official ACORN-SAT ­record.

The maximum-temperature trend from 1910 to 2016 at the 112 ACORN-SAT weather stations is now an increase of 0.116C a decade. It was 0.09C a decade in the earlier homogenised data.

The minimum-temperature trend is now an increase of 0.13C a decade, compared with 0.109C in ACORN-SAT 1.

The bureau said improved ­accounting for the widespread relocation of sites out of towns during the 1990s and 2000s, and the incorporation of recent data from new sites, were also substantial contributors.

Dr Marohasy said movement of sites was meant to be part of the adjustments made in the first version of the data.

“The incorporation of data from new sites may account for some of the 23 per cent increase,” Dr Marohasy said, “because the bureau have opened new sites in hotter western NSW, while closing higher-altitude weather stations, including Charlotte Pass in the Snowy Mountains.”

She said there had been no proper analysis of the effect of changing from manual to automatic weather stations.

The bureau said no evidence was found of a significant systematic impact arising from the change from manual to automatic weather stations. It said that ACORN-SAT 2 had increased robustness and greater spatial coherence, especially for minimum temperatures.

The new data records are likely to be seized upon by green groups in the lead up to the federal election.


Border security policy not based on ‘racism’ and ‘hate’

It was one of the more naive propositions from a journalist so far this year. On Tuesday, ABC TV 7.30 presenter Leigh Sales interviewed Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton on border protection. The specific focus was on the Labor/Greens/independent bill that passed the House of Representatives, concerning medical evacuations of refugees and asylum-seekers currently on Manus Island and Nauru.

After apologising for continuing to interrupt, Sales put it to Dutton that, following the new legislation, a people-smuggler would now have to refine the product on offer to asylum-seekers who are based in Indonesia or nearby. According to Sales, the new offer would be as follows: “OK, you can get on a boat to Australia, but there is a very high chance that you will be turned back. If you’re not turned back, you might be sent to Nauru and Manus Island. If you’re there, you might be able to get two doctors to sign off on a medical evacuation for yourself. The minister might allow that to happen. If you get to Australia, you might be able to lodge a court action and find yourself staying in Australia.” She added: “That doesn’t sound like a very attractive product.”

How naive can you get? For starters, people-smugglers — who grow rich on the misfortune of others — are not truthful. They highlight the chance to success, not the possibility of failure. And certainly not the likelihood of drowning.

Any perceived weakening in Australian border protection makes it easier for people-smugglers to sell their product. When prime minister John Howard and Tony Abbott put up the red flag, the boats stopped coming. When Labor’s Kevin Rudd moved the sign to amber, some 50,000 asylum-seekers reached Australia by boat in around five years. It is estimated that some 1200 of the 50,000 drowned at sea.

It was Rudd who put asylum-seekers on Manus Island and Nauru when he replaced Julia Gillard as prime minister in the lead-up to the 2013 election. And it was Abbott — with the assistance of first Scott Morrison and then Peter Dutton — who effectively stopped the boats for what has now amounted to six years.

It is perfectly understandable that some Australians feel sympathy for asylum-seekers and refugees in detention. However, it should be remembered that virtually everyone who arrives in Australia by boat has taken part in a secondary movement. In short, they are not fleeing immediate fear of death or persecution at the place from which they embarked on their sea journey.

Take a young Iranian man currently in offshore detention, for example. He probably will have flown, on a valid passport, from Iran or close by to Jakarta with the expressed intention of engaging a people-smuggler to reach Australia. Meanwhile, refugees in the UNHCR camps in parts of Africa and Asia, who cannot afford to pay people-smugglers, have to wait until places are found in such nations as the US, Canada and ­Australia.

Many Australians who strongly oppose unauthorised boat arrivals do not object to our generous refugee and humanitarian intake, currently running at about 17,500 a year.

Also, the decision of the Abbott government to accept a special intake of some 12,000 victims of the civil war in Syria was widely accepted and appears to have been successful.

In other words, there are well-meaning people on both sides of the debate. It is understandable that some Australians believe that detainees on Manus Island and Nauru should be accepted immediately in Australia. And it’s understandable that some focus on the likely unintended consequences of well-meaning actions.

However, anyone arriving in Australia on Tuesday and turning on ABC TV’s The Drum would not get this impression. The program’s co-presenters Julia Baird and Ellen Fanning like to describe The Drum as being long on respectful discussion and short on rhetorical aggression.

This was not the case on Tuesday, when former race discrimination commissioner Tim Soutphommasane let fly at the Coalition policy on border protection in general and its opposition to the medical evacuation legislation — which will give medical practitioners in Australia a significant role in determining which refugees and asylum-seekers will remain in offshore detention.

Soutphommasane described the government’s decision to re-open the detention centre on Christmas Island as “flicking the switch to fear”. He depicted this as the “foreshadowing of some race politics to be played later this year”. Later, he labelled some of those whom he disagreed with as racists engaging in hate. Baird did not contest his assertions.

Soutphommasane’s Drum appearance followed the publication by MUP of his booklet On Hate. This is a profoundly partisan treatise. The author sees hatred as rampant in Australia but defines it as related to identity. He depicts non-white Australians as the target of hate — along with women plus “gays, lesbians or transgender people”.

Soutphommasane is so ideologically blinkered that he only sees hate in right-of-centre or conservative circles. He ignores the reality of anti-Semitism. Hatred of Jews was once the preserve of the extreme Right. Not any more. Anti-semitism is rife within left-wing or left-of-centre politics. I You would never know this from reading On Hate.

Likewise, Soutphommasane ignores the hate and ridicule directed at conservative Christians. And he overlooks the violence and threats of violence directed at right-of-centre individuals.

Unlike journalists and commentators, democratic governments have to make decisions and resolve problems. It’s all too easy to shout “racist” or “hate” when a government moves to enforce border security and, as a consequence, eliminate or reduce drownings at sea. And it’s all too easy to believe that people-smugglers are truthful traders.


Misreading the data will not help the teachers

Outdated teaching methods based on disproved theories remain widespread despite the abundance of good and easily available information on effective, evidence-based instruction.

The gap between research and practice is an enduring and critical challenge in education — nowhere more so than in how to teach reading. Many children in developed countries with high levels of education spending have low literacy when almost all children can learn with good instruction.

What is preventing the uptake of proven teaching methods in classrooms? The Reading Recovery program gives an almost perfect illustration. It is arguably the most widely used intervention for children who need such support in the early years of school.

Developed in New Zealand by Dame Marie Clay in the 1970s based on her theories about how children learn to read, it is used in thousands of schools around the world. Its advocates are strongly committed to the belief that it helps the children who participate. Its critics say that there is no good evidence that the program works, and its teaching methods do not reflect what we now know about how children learn to read.

In this case, lack of evidence doesn’t mean lack of research. Reading Recovery has been the subject of dozens of studies over several decades.

Much of the research is low quality in terms of evidence standards. But some recent research is more rigorous, including longitudinal studies published in Australia, the US and England in recent years.

A large Australian study published by the NSW Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation in 2016 involved more than 20,000 students. It found that children who had participated in Reading Recovery in Year 1 performed worse on the Year 3 NAPLAN reading assessment than a matched sample of students who had not participated in the program. That’s right. Worse.

After up to 20 weeks of daily one-to-one 30-minute lessons with highly trained teachers, these children ended up with lower reading ability than peers who had similar reading ability at the start of the study.

As a result, after years of ignoring researchers in Australia and New Zealand who had been loudly and unswervingly warning that Reading Recovery was not effective for most students, the NSW government finally stopped providing dedicated funding for it.

Nevertheless, despite some of the clearest findings in educational research, public and non-government schools around Australia have continued to fund the program from discretionary budgets. They are convinced that it works, and any new piece of research that appears to confirm that belief is seized upon.

New findings published in Britain last year would appear to vindicate the loyalty of Reading Recovery acolytes. In reality, however, it only proves the lengths that Reading Recovery supporters will go to in order to defend it, even to the extent of obfuscating data.

The latest UK Every Child a Reader study, conducted by academics from University College London and funded and published by the KPMG Foundation, was launched with great fanfare at the House of Lords in December. The report claims to show that Reading Recovery in Year 1 was responsible for high scores in the General Certificate of School Education 10 years later.

The KPMG Foundation commissioned an economic analysis which estimated a £1.2 billion ($2.2bn) boost to the economy if all struggling readers were given Reading Recovery.

However, closer scrutiny of the latest report revealed a methodological mystery — a group of students present in the five-year follow-up study published in 2012 were missing from the 10-year study. The missing children comprised an entire group of more than 50 students (about 20 per cent of the sample) who had formed a second comparison group in the original study and in the
five-year follow-up. The omission of this second comparison group is neither acknowledged nor explained in the 10-year study report.

Why is this a big deal? Because the data from the missing second comparison group completely undermines the conclusions drawn in the published report.

To explain: In the original study, there were three groups of students. Two groups of students came from a set of Reading Recovery schools. Some of the students in the Reading Recovery schools did Reading Recovery in Year 1 (RR group) and some did not do Reading Recovery (RRC). A comparison group of students was drawn from a set of non-Reading Recovery schools (CC).

In the five-year follow-up study, the three groups were compared on their results in the Key Stage 2 (KS2) curriculum tests, taken in Year 6 of primary school. There was no statistically significant difference in the KS2 scores of the two groups of children in Reading Recovery schools (RR and RRC). Both of these groups had significantly higher KS2 scores than children in the non-Reading Recovery schools (CC).

That is, in Year 6, the children in Reading Recovery schools outperformed the comparison students irrespective of whether they actually participated in Reading Recovery.

This indicates that any advantage of the students in Reading Recovery schools was not attributable to participation in Reading Recovery — it must have been due to something else about those students, those schools, or both. In the published version of the 10-year follow-up study, only two groups are compared — the students who did Reading Recovery (RR) and the comparison group from non-Reading Recovery schools (CC).

The students in Reading Recovery schools who did not do Reading Recovery (RRC) are omitted. The RR group had markedly higher GCSE results than the CC group, allowing the authors to conclude that “the positive effect of Reading Recovery on qualifications at age 16 is marked in this study and suggests a sustained intervention effect.”

Having remembered that the five-year study was much less straightforward and conclusive, I wrote to the lead author of the study — Jane Hurry — and asked about the missing group. The professor replied with the explanation that she had written two versions of the 10-year follow-up study, one that included the second comparison group results and one that excluded them. KPMG Foundation chose to publish the latter.

Hurry readily provided me with the copy of the alternative unpublished version of the 10-year follow-up report. It shows that there was no difference in GCSE scores between students in the set of Reading Recovery schools who had done Reading Recovery and those that had not (the missing RRC group). Both of these groups had significantly higher scores than the children in comparison schools.

Again, this means that the higher GCSE scores of children in the set of Reading Recovery schools was not due to participation in Reading Recovery. Children from the same schools who had not done Reading Recovery had performed just as well.

Tolerance for poor evidence standards in education is not a victimless crime. The total cost of implementing ineffective reading programs is much larger than the budget allocated to teacher training and teacher time.

There are enormous and tragic opportunity costs for the children involved, with profound impacts on their educational achievement and wellbeing.



Australian tribunal finds that Muslims are not a race.  So criticism of them is not racist

TV host Sonia Kruger vilified and stereotyped Muslims living in Australia during a controversial segment on Channel 9’s Today program, but she did not racially vilify Muslims because religion is not a race, a tribunal has judged.

Nine has said the network is standing by its star.

The Nine Network was taken to the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NSW CAT) by Sydney man Sam Ekermawi after he saw a segment on Today on 18 July 2016 where Kruger said no more Muslims should be allowed into Australia “because I want to feel safe”.

On the show’s Mixed Grill segment, Kruger and co-hosts Lisa Wilkinson and David Campbell discussed a newspaper opinion piece by News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt on Muslim immigration within Europe.

The discussion came just days after an attack in the French city of Nice perpetrated by a Muslim terrorist that saw 86 people killed when a truck slammed into revellers at a Bastille Day celebration.

Talking to Wilkinson about whether Australia’s border should be closed to Muslim immigrants, Kruger said: “Personally, I think Andrew Bolt has a point here, that there is a correlation between the number of people who … are Muslim in a country and the number of terrorist attacks.

“Now I have a lot of very good friends who are Muslim, who are peace-loving who are beautiful people, but there are fanatics.

“Personally I would like to see it stopped now for Australia. Because I want to feel safe, as all of our citizens do, when they go out to celebrate Australia Day.”

Later Wilkinson asked Kruger to clarify if she really “would like our borders closed to Muslims at this point?”.

“Yes I would. I think we have something like 500,000 (Muslims) now in our country … but for the safely of the citizens here, I think it’s important,” Kruger replied.

Mr Ekermawi complained Kruger’s comments amounted to racial vilification.

The tribunal said the comments went “beyond simply a fair report of Andrew Bolt’s article”. “(Kruger) provided her own views and commentary on the issues and these additions were not just opinion, they were vilifying remarks in their own right,” it said.

Mr Bolt’s article, the tribunal noted, said that “the number of Muslims in the country does not tell the full story” and that Germany might have faced fewer attacks because many Muslims who had emigrated there had come from Turkey, a country with a more western outlook. However, a similar distinction was not expressed by Kruger.

“In particular, we refer to her remarks that all Muslim migration should be stopped now ‘because I want to feel safe, as all of our citizens do, when they go out to celebrate Australia Day’,” the decision read.

“Ms Kruger could have expressed her comments in a more measured manner to avoid a finding of vilification. For example, she could have referred to the need for Australia to engage in greater security checking of people wishing to migrate who may happen to be Muslims and the need to prevent a drift towards radicalisation among Muslims currently in Australia, rather than simply stating that 500,000 Muslims represents an unacceptable safety risk which justifies stopping all Muslim migration.”

Overall, the tribunal accepted that the discussion was in the public interest and Kruger and Nine “were acting in good faith without malice and not for an improper purpose”.

But the tribunal said they could not accept Kruger’s statements were “reasonable” and appeared to be “unsupported by any evidence or material”.

“A type of stereotyping was being made in … that all members of this ‘Muslim community’ were tarnished as potential terrorists or sympathisers of terrorism,” it found.

The tribunal said Muslim Australians face discrimination and Kruger’s comments could have stoked this.

“Some ordinary members of the Australian population already harbour feelings of hatred towards, or serious contempt for, Australian Muslims as a whole. In our view, such feelings or emotions would be encouraged or incited among ordinary members of the Australian population by Ms Kruger’s remarks.”

“I want to make it very clear that I have complete respect for people of all races and religions. I acknowledge my views yesterday may have been extreme,” she said. “There is no simple answer here and if we are to find a solution, at the very least we need to be able to discuss it.”

The tribunal dismissed Mr Ekermawi’s racial vilification claim chiefly because it could not find grounds for a religion being a race. “The evidence does not support a finding that Muslims living in Australia are a ‘race’ by reason of a common ethnic or ethno-religious origin.”

However, the NSW CAT said had the definition of race been different: “we would have found that both of the Respondents engaged in racial vilification of the Australian Muslim community.”


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

1 comment:

Paul said...

Funny how Jews seem able to be a race when it suits their purposes.