Seriously it is worrying that he’s after the ‘hard’ scientists with apparently no respect of social sciences. That’s a mindset I distrust. Where is the moral compass of social purpose to come from ?

I rather think that’s the sort of mindset that Mr. Cummings is rather against…..

46 thoughts on “Re Dominic”

  1. My worry would be that he seems to fetishise the “hard sciences” and might be blind to their flaws. How long did it take before physicists acknowledged Millikan’s error? And as for social sciences, the Chicago School of Economics is wildly reductionist and that is supposed to be a good place! Why not go for Pragmatics, instead?

  2. Dunno. I like DomCum and wish him well, but he’s got some pretty major blind spots, for example:

    Before the 23 June 2016, many such as the Economist and FT predicted a Leave win would boost extremists and make immigration the central issue in politics. VL said the opposite would happen: that once people know there’ll be democratic control, it will quickly fade as an issue and attitudes towards immigrants will improve. VL was right, the FT was wrong — as all academic research shows. If you want immigration to fade from politics, then democratic control is the answer. If you go with Corbyn and free movement for the whole world, then immigration will be all over the news and extremism will grow. A system like Australia’s will be fairer, good for the economy and take the heat out of the issue.

    I dunno how much of this is what data scientists might call “true”.

    Yes, immigration hasn’t been the central issue in politics since 2016 – Brexit has been. To be fair to the Economist and the FT, they probably assumed the referendum would be respected.

    No, it’s not “extreme” for it to be regarded as a major political issue. Because it’s a major political issue.

    No, democratic control won’t magic away the problem by itself. Only actual border controls (and effective deportation of undesirables and economic parasites) has a chance of doing that. And even then, the Left and the CBI will continue to agitate for unlimited migration.

    No, I don’t think it’s necessarily true that an Australian type system would make it a non-issue. Because it’s still a contentious issue in Australia.

    Dominic isn’t a stupid man, so who’s he trying to kid?

  3. I see penury is leading the Great Potato to consider making his blog subscription funded (voluntary) at £2 a month

  4. If the social scientists would get back to doing some science, rather than the last 30+ years of, at best, ideology-based evidence fabrication, they might be worth listening to.

  5. I don’t believe immigration is a major issue in Australia.

    The treatment of boat people is, but that’s a different issue. The unbelievably poor treatment of people born in Australia but deported because not citizens, away from their entire families, barely raises an eyebrow.

    Also, the noise made by the activists should not blind one to the fact that no party in Australia is open doors.

  6. It’s not at all clear to me that ML (etc) is anything to do with “Hard Science”..

    Hard Science is generally established stuff – physics, for example.

    ML is in essence a hypothesis in the domain of statistics, so it’s sorta ‘researchy applied maths’

    And if La Patate had any sense at all (yeah, I know), he’d realise that the moral compass bit is from the politics side – what do you want to do, for whom, etc etc.

    The DomTeam is all about how to do whatever is desired, while also being able to explain that doing this that way won’t work, and mebbe a slightly different goal could be sought because, y’know, it might work.And have y’alls looked at doing *this*, because it looks like it would work if we did *that* and it’d benefit a whole bunch of folk. Etc.

    Now, do we actually have the toolkit to make such decisions well? I don’t think so, but ….

  7. I wonder how many regular visitors he expects to subscribe? My guess would be in single digit percent.

  8. Where is the moral compass of social purpose to come from ?

    Exactly the sort of arse wank we don’t need in the unCivil Service. Far too much already.

  9. Where is the moral compass of social purpose

    Nobody needs an SS Degree to know the difference between good & bad and right & wrong; for psychopaths an SS Degree won’t help

    In fact, UK would be a better country if 50% of degree courses (inc Nursing and Police) were abolished, or no student loans available

    Hip, hip, hooray for Dom C

    @Diogenes

    Dom’s “ad” is broad brush from most likely pool to provide those with optimism, perspicacity and pragmatism he wants

    @BiG

    +1 on ending the fraudulent Policy based Evidence making favoured by EU, UN etc; and the ignoring, hiding, dismissing of the “wrong result”

    @Tractor Gent

    There’s be an army of public sector bods who will put it on expenses as a ‘research subscription’ – he’ll still be sucking taxpayers teat

  10. How long did it take before physicists acknowledged Millikan’s error?

    Quite a bit faster than a large population of social scientists have acknowledged Marx’s though…

  11. Hard science knowledge! Not before time.
    Start with people clever enough to have spotted it’s dark at nights – and for longer in the winter – so that solar power is futile.
    Then to those who have noticed it isn’t always windy, and the huge herds of wild unicorns don’t seem to be around to provide the farts to keep the lights on.

    Without reliable power, and plenty of it, nothing else makes any difference.

    NB Has anyone else remarked upon the OFGEM report on the August outage?: not once does it mention the reduction in spinninginertia inherent in windmills and other troughing non-power schemes. This was a major factor in making the demand/generation difference cause such a rapid frequency divergence, and hence resulting in blackouts. Not a mention.

    We urgently need some people in HMG who are numerate and know why our average worker standard of living is beyond the dream of Roman Emperors. Or we will all soon be Spartacus.

  12. Preventing/Reversing this sort of state over-reach should be top of Dom Cs list

    In Scotland, SNP to introduce law: from 2024 homeowners compelled to insulate their homes to ‘approved standard’ at their own expense; failure to comply will lead to fines and forbidden to sell

    England responds: Conservative Gov’t raises and calls:

    Landlords who allow rented homes to get mouldy or too cold could face sanctions in new crackdown
    Sensors to be used in rental homes to check that they are not too cold or mouldy

    Renters homes will be checked to make sure they are not cold or mouldy in a crackdown on dodgy landlords.

    In a pilot scheme, councils will install new wireless technology sensors to test temperatures and humidity levels to ensure tenants are warm over winter.

    The government project aims to identify ‘particularly cold homes’ and enforcement officers will place the devices in flats or houses where renters have reported problems

    The sensors will then raise the alarm when the temperature gets too low or humidity reaches levels which can cause damp or mould in the trial being carried out in Greenwich, south-east London.

    The data gathered by the sensors will be used to ensure that landlords act to fix the problem or to take further action against them.

    Across Yorkshire and the Humber, 22 councils will be funded to train more than 100 enforcement officers….

    “Rogue Landlords”? Since when has it been a landlord’s responsibility to heat & ventilate a tenants home?

    Meanwhile, more Home Office lunacy
    ‘I feel I have stepped into a parallel universe… This is ludicrous’: Furious judge hits out after he has to delay sentencing three teenage robbers because they have been referred to the Home Office as potential victims of modern slavery

    Must have missed the news, I thought Diane Abbot was not our Home Secretary

    To end on some Good News
    Half of Britons want the BBC licence fee scrapped and for the broadcaster to fend for itself with adverts or subscriptions, new poll reveals

  13. Cummings implicit worldview seems to be a rejection of free markets. Instead, the best & brightest (as he defines them) should guide and plan the entire economy on behalf of the sheeple. How did that work out for the people subjected to Stalin or Mao?

  14. Bloke in Tejas,

    ML is based in science, but fairly simply math like Bayesian logic and Markov chains.

    The real expertise in it for things like data analysis is about how you use your dataset. It’s about knowing the domain of data you’re working in.

    Machine Learning is one of those technologies that sets off a Klaxon in my head when people start talking about it like: delivery drones, cloud computing, connected homes and self-driving cars. Within a couple of minutes, you realise that the person knows nothing except what some “technology correspondent” at Wired or the Telegraph has been feeding them.

    And the scary thing with government doing ML is that a lot of the data is total dogshit. It’s pure GIGO

  15. Chester – I think there’s been a fair dinkum amount of concern over “African gangs” (how did they get to Australia?) and some (so far) low-key discontent over the Chinese taking over entire neighbourhoods, in addition to the usual lefty psychodrama over “refugees”.

    I think a points system is a good idea, but it’s not going to fundamentally change the formula that diversity + proximity usually = war. And it’s not democratic control in itself that’s the key to de-fanging the immigration issue – it literally is a numbers game (albeit no two numbers are equal).

    Immigration itself is just an important subset of a greater problem – demographic instability being the font of much human misery, dating back to the invasions and genocides of the Iron Age. I get the feeling DomCum is too proud of this technological terror he’s constructed. But the ability to do clever boffin stuff with AI and Big Data is insignificant next to the power of the Force (human nature).

  16. Where is the moral compass of social purpose to come from ?

    As soon as someone starts talking about morality it’s wise to count your spoons. Morals are just subjective matters of opinion. Morality a personal opinion dressed up to be unarguable with.

  17. Quite, Mr in Spain. Plus, the phrase ‘social purpose’ can have no meaning capable of withstanding scrutiny.

  18. Everyone – your comments remind me what an absolutely fucking brilliant website Tim has created. My thanks to you all!

  19. @ Pcar

    Realise this is down in your quote, but the missus says that modern slavery is the new excuse everyone is using to appeal against criminal sentences.

    She works in Immigration so she sees a lot of this. Previous favourite excuses being that they would be persecuted for being gay (despite having wife & kids in tow).

  20. Bloke in North Dorset

    apparently no respect of social sciences

    I’ve no idea which social sciences he means but that doesn’t matter because (1) respect is earned and (2) it is people within a field who should, or should not, be respected.

    So far within the field of political economy, his apparent field, I’ve learned to despise him but yet I have a lot of respect for professor Helen Thompson, to give one current example.

  21. Where is the moral compass of social purpose to come from ?

    This is how a know-nothing justifies interference in the lives of others.

  22. Calling it social science doesn’t make it science.

    In fact, putting ‘social’ in front of any word makes it useless.

  23. “Where is the moral compass of social purpose to come from ?”

    Not from the social ‘sciences’ for certain. The only ‘social purposes’ that have come from the social sciences have been . . . murderous. They’ve caused untold misery and the loss of hundreds of millions of lives.

    *Respectable* social scientists are just telling you what IS. They don’t tell you what you ought to do about it. Its the ones that do – the ones pushing for new ‘social purposes’ that do that. And they’re the ones that end up killing people.

  24. @Gamecock – January 5, 2020 at 11:39 pm

    Calling it social science doesn’t make it science.

    In fact, putting ‘social’ in front of any word makes it useless.

    @Edward Lud – January 5, 2020 at 11:52 pm

    Not useless, Gamecock. Intellectually dishonest,but of considerable use to its proselytisers (sp?)

    Indeed… In Spades…

    If one may be permitted to paraphrase Prof Brignell – Putting “social” in front of “scientist” is the same as putting “witch” in front of “doctor”. (The good Prof reckoned it applied to “climate”.)

  25. When I was working away I took in tenants. They cooked with all the doors and windows closed, and complained the kitchen steamed up and got mouldy. They turned the boiler off and complained the house was cold. They poured pans of rice down the drain and complained the drains were blocked.

  26. It was one of the jokes that Jay and Lynn polished up for the book edition of “Yes Minister” to have Jim Hacker pooterishly record what a revelation he found Dr Carwright’s pet proposal for setting “failure standards” for public service projects:

    * “Apparently it’s called the scientific method; so naturally it was completely new to me as all my training has been in economics and sociology.”

  27. A memorable quote from the black swan was something like:

    ‘In social science the contagion of theories does not depend on their truth but their popularity.’

    Not useless, just not trustworthy.

  28. BiS

    “Morals are just subjective matters of opinion. Morality a personal opinion dressed up to be unarguable with.”

    As Ecksy would say, your claim is “subjectivist marxist cockrot”. Some moral judgements fit your bill, but not all by any means. If ‘It’s wrong to expropriate private property and engage in mass murder of people who oppose your regime’ is merely a subjective judgement, then there isn’t an argument against socialism and communism.

  29. Hear now the wise words of Ernest Rutherford (Baron Rutherford of Nelson) 1871-1937:
    The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the ‘social sciences’ is: some do, some don’t.

  30. Theophrastus

    Actually the line is finer than you might imagine. Certainly expropriation of private property is countenanced in many ethical systems. Those against tend to be those of an extreme libertarian bent. (Fairly anarchist in nature.) I’d suggest that Hayek might have favoured some form of income redistribution for the most unfortunate in society.

  31. @Theo
    “If ‘It’s wrong to expropriate private property and engage in mass murder of people who oppose your regime’ is merely a subjective judgement, then there isn’t an argument against socialism and communism”
    The argument against socialism & communism is they don’t work. If they did work, no doubt you’d be one of the people singing their morality.. Why do you want to involve morals? And what’s wrong about mass murder? Depends who you’re murdering & why.
    But thanks. You’ve neatly proved my point. Morality is a self defining system. The only arguments against immorality it can come up with is immorality is immoral.

  32. BiS

    “The argument against socialism & communism is they don’t work.”

    So you are not against socialism and communism in principle – only in practice! If anyone – such as the late Alex Nove – came up with a feasible version of socialism, you would have to swallow it.

    “If they did work, no doubt you’d be one of the people singing their morality.”

    Why would I do that when I hold that even the weakest form of socialism – Blairite social democracy – is morally wrong?

    “Why do you want to involve morals?”

    Because we are moral beings – even nihilists like you. Moral scepticism is self-refuting, because moral sceptics soon lapse into making moral judgements.

    “And what’s wrong about mass murder? Depends who you’re murdering & why.”

    Since ‘murdering’ means ‘wrongful killing’, you have just lapsed into moral judgement there or contradicted yourself.

    “Morality is a self defining system. The only arguments against immorality it can come up with is immorality is immoral.”

    Nope. There’s a core of moral principles that are almost universal. Those principles encourage and enable human flourishing because they broadly accord with human nature and create thriving communities. To deny humans the conditions in which they flourish – as socialism and communism do – is to cause humans harm and that is wrong. As the Catholic philosopher, Elizabeth Anscombe, observed, the content of moral judgements is human thriving.

  33. Ken

    By ‘expropriation’ I meant the complete confiscation of an innocent individual’s or a corporate entity’s assets. Modest redistribution is not expropriation, because in principle you can take your money and assets to another jurisdiction.

    PS By the way, Nozick’s argument that taxation is slavery has uncanny parallels with Marx’s theory of surplus value…

  34. @Mr Yan

    Thanks

    @jgh

    We had same problem. Arranged a visit:

    Tenants had closed/blocked all window trickle vents and blocked bathroom and kitchen extractor fans

    Explained why vents/fans necessary and suggested they buy a dehumidifier if they didn’t want ventilation

  35. “So you are not against socialism and communism in principle – only in practice! If anyone – such as the late Alex Nove – came up with a feasible version of socialism, you would have to swallow it.”

    Of course I’m not. If they produced a better outcome to capitalism or democracy, it’d be insane to oppose them. But they don’t. “Democracy may not be perfect but it’s better than the alternatives”. (Churchill, wasn’t it?) Then the same pragmatic principal should apply to socialism or communism if their outcomes were different.
    Your “moral” rejection of socialism & communism is exactly the same basis their supporters continue to champion them against all the evidence. They claim they are more “moral”.

    “Since ‘murdering’ means ‘wrongful killing’, you have just lapsed into moral judgement there or contradicted yourself.”

    As a Tory, you’ve no doubt supported the UK nuclear defence posture for the past 6 decades. Mutually Assured Destruction. You haven’t joined CND or anything? Using a thermonuclear flash to burn the faces off of children in Moscow school playgrounds could be loosely described as mass murder, no? It’d certainly be against Russian law.

    “By ‘expropriation’ I meant the complete confiscation of an innocent individual’s or a corporate entity’s assets. Modest redistribution is not expropriation, because in principle you can take your money and assets to another jurisdiction.”

    So your “morality” depends on how much? Decided by moralists such as yourself? Back where we started, aren’t we?

  36. “As the Catholic philosopher, Elizabeth Anscombe, observed, the content of moral judgements is human thriving.”
    You really have picked the wrong person to quote Catholic philosophers at, Theo. I live every day with the outcome of an entire dysfunctional continent in the thrall of Catholic philosophy. It’s embracing of enslavement & mass murder as high morality as just being the start.

  37. BiS:

    “Of course I’m not.”

    Yes, you are. You’ve shifted your ground from ‘workable’ to ‘works better’ – and the latter involves value judgements. A highly efficient form of S & C could conceivably exist, but involve appalling constraints on individual liberty. You would have to sccept it.

    “Your “moral” rejection of socialism & communism is exactly the same basis their supporters continue to champion them against all the evidence. They claim they are more “moral”.”

    But their morality is subjectivist and relativist, and they tie themselves in knots. They also deny that there’s a human nature. Their moral arguments fail; those based on human nature succeed, because you are appealing to something objective.

    You are scraping the bottom of your nihilist barrel with your other points, but here goes:

    Nuclear self-defence is not mass murder. Mass executions to remove a social class and enforce a political ideology are mass murder.

    Taxation in a democracy is not expropriation. UK taxation is not equivalent to Zimbabwean expropriation.

    And there are moral arguments for these positions…

  38. @bis

    +1 +1

    @Theo

    Thus, you agree with Mrs May in SA:

    “If South Africa passes a law saying expropriation is legal, I have no objections”, then distraction tactic “Watch me dance”

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