Monday, April 17, 2006 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Stanislav Petrov supersedes Easter Bunny and Jesus Christ

During the paganic era, people would celebrate Easter as the holidays of spring, fertility, and Easter bunny. The Christians cleverly overwrote this special season by the anniversary of resurrection of Jesus Christ, our savior. However, things changed again in 2006. The liberal blogosphere, including Cosmic Variance and In Search of 42, among hundreds of other blogs, has replaced the Easter bunny and Jesus Christ by a Soviet military officer: the Easter has become the Stanislav Petrov Day.

It is not exactly clear why the Easter season was chosen. Well, Stanislav Petrov (*1939) saved the world on September 26th, 1983. He realized that the Soviet computer system was crappy - because it was a technology developed in a left-wing political system - and discarded the warning of his computers that the American missiles were approaching the Soviet targets. By having failed to inform his superiors, he has arguably saved half a billion lives. ;-)

The details have been secret until 1998. However, the rough story was not. I remember that on Monday, September 26th 1983, when I was in the 4th grade, during Andropov's era, we were just playing volleyball in the gym or something like that when the school radio announced that the international situation deteriorated and the conflict was imminent. We have never learned anything else beyond this single message in the school radio and the worries faded away completely.

Today, Petrov lives in relative poverty as a Russian pensioner. A San Francisco peace organization named him the new savior of the world (only one of his two predecessors enjoys the same honor; don't confuse the honor with the true savior of modern music) and awarded him with a breathtaking amount of $1,000. Congratulations. If someone wants to send him more money, let me know.

Back to 2006

But we live in 2006 and the main target right now is not Moscow but Tehran. Professor James Miller who is a game theory expert and a candidate for the president of Harvard - one that vows to defeat feminism - has offered a smooth scenario how the U.S. attacks on Iran will be started and justified. The Israeli prime minister will inform Bush that Israel is threatened and it will have to nuke Iran unless the nuclear program of the crazy mullahs is stopped. Because Iran wants to wipe Israel off the map, Israel has a kind of moral right to make such an announcement. The U.S. weapons are much stronger and cleaner than the Israeli weapons. By using both types against Iran, Bush will save not only Israel but he will also save millions of Iranian lives that would otherwise be lost because of the dirty Israeli nukes.

Next year, Easter Bunny, Jesus Christ, and Stanislav Petrov will be replaced by George Bush (and James Miller), the new savior.

Mahmoud is probably a nail

Meanwhile, it's been announced that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is probably a nail. What kind of nail? He is a nail of the Hidden Imam who is secretly the Sovereign of the World and who has been hiding since 941. :-) See here. Mahmoud received the presidency from the Hidden Imam for promising to provoke a clash of civilizations.

Mahmoud realizes that the U.S. is the last infidel country whose military is not impotent and Mahmoud, supported by God, will defeat the U.S. in a long asymmetric war. But he will wait until 2008 when Bush is out of office because Bush is clearly an aberration - everyone else since Truman would run away. A divine anthropic coincidence puts the triumph of the Iranian Manhattan project, secretly pursued by Imam Hossein Nuclear University, to the same year 2008, Mahmoud argues. Wow. These people are real nutcases which is not a good combination with the advanced P-2 centrifuges that, according to the New York Times, are suddenly again being developed in Iran.

Mahmoud has just given Hamas the same thing that Harvard has pledged for the feminist programs: 50 million dollars. Finally, Reuel Gerecht from AEI asks the question:

The U.S. and the U.K. have already been training an occupation of a fictitious Middle East country called "Korona" in 2015 whose territory happens to coincide with Iran and whose citizens are Iranians. Well, obviously, some dynamics is on both sides.

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snail feedback (3) :

reader Pikkupoika said...

Sorry, this has nothing to do with the post.

I just wanted to let your know that I found something, at least in my opinion, "curious" in J. Annan's recent paper. I (with pseudoname "Jani") submitted the question regarding that to the end of his recent post. Since I do not want to be identified, and I spent some time on the issue, I just want someone "with undestanding" to to know about the "curiosity" (if he decides to delete the comment or something). So please check it.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Pikkupoika/Jani,

I certainly agree with you that assuming that there is a strict 0% probability that the climate sensitivity is negative is a manifestation of a bias of the scientist, and I am not aware of any solid argument why it must be positive.

More generally, it seems bizarre to assume a gamma distribution for a climate sensitivity. A gamma distribution is a derived concept generalizing events distributed according to the Poisson distribution (and the variable we are distributing is essentially time) - what does it have to do with climate sensitivity? Kind of weird. ;-)


reader Pikkupoika said...

Dear Lumo,

I agree. Not only the prior is a gamma -distributed, they also model one out of two "evidence distributions" with a gamma distribution...

Although I'm not a big fan of Bayesian analysis myself, I do find James's contribution (the idea of using Bayes's rule for determing climate sensitivity), per se, interesting. However, what does disturb me is the actual contents of the paper, and the fact, it has been accepted to, what I have understood, a major journal in the field. If I had been a reviewer, I would have demanded a major rewrite, see below.

Not only the choice of gamma distribution is somewhat wierd, the main problem, in my opinion, in the paper is that there is no real discussion of the fitting of the "evidence distributions". Usually the likelihood is obtained from data, but now since it was determined otherwise, there should have been some evidence that the fitting is adequate. I gave James a link to families of distributions, which are rather common for modelling skewed distributions (as he obviously wants to have some skewed distributions). If you had several "evidence distributions", then the fitting is not so important, but they only had two!

The other thing I do not understand in the paper, is the starting point. Why do they have "20th century warming" as a prior, shouldn't it be more like an evidence distribution? There exists a rather obvious (intuitively appealing) prior:
calculate the temperature change with an assumption that everything except CO2 is kept fixed. I'm no physicist, but I've understood that this is rather straightforward (hint: it would be nice to see this calculation, e.g., in your blog ;). Then your prior is simply a Gaussian with this mean, and some variance of your choice. This, at least in my opinion, reflects the idea of an uninformative prior for climate sensitivity: since we do not know, a priori, what is the net effect of the forcings, it is best to model the situation with Gaussian such that the mean is the situation with no feedback effects at all.

Well, "climate science" is not my field, and James (who also seems to be reading this blog ;) did give me an answer (which was pretty much I expected him to say), so I will not bother with this issue any more.

Cheers, pikkupoika

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