Tag Archives: evidence

Evidence-free policy on cars

His Tel­stra term has appar­ent­ly left Zig­gy Switkows­ki with a taste for Gaullist illog­ic. He reck­ons that the absence of a ratio­nale — oth­er than rent-seek­ing — is not fatal to a pol­i­cy that sup­ports a “diverse” indus­tri­al pat­ri­moine. It is very hard to make a con­ven­tion­al busi­ness case for sub­sidi­s­a­tion of (or, more fash­ion­ably, […]

What new evidence for a carbon tax?

A tax has been announced—contrary to ear­li­er promises—that has no jus­ti­fied role in cli­mate mit­i­ga­tion. It is being held up as a “cor­rec­tion” the car­bon-inten­si­­ty of our econ­o­my. But that’s not evi­dent­ly a prob­lem and even if it were, a uni­lat­er­al tax could lead to an over­all increa­sein glob­al emis­sions. Ms Gillard’s new com­mit­ment to […]

Feather duster ambush

Of course, the Labor par­ty would not have need­ed to “back down” if it hadn’t inflat­ed the issue with worse-than-WMD hys­te­ria, reli­gious zeal (cf. Ross Garnaut’s invo­ca­tion of Pascal’s wager) and con­tempt for con­trary evi­dence. “Julia Gillard has put the pret­ty wrap­ping paper of con­vic­tion and con­sen­sus around Kevin Rudd’s emis­sions trad­ing back­down. But inside […]

Led by lunatics

Mark Lawson’s new book “A Guide to Cli­mate Change Luna­cy” (Con­nor­Court Pub­lish­ing, 2010) arrives with bril­liant tim­ing, just as Aus­tralia gets anoth­er chance to make a choice on cli­mate change poli­cies in the 2010 elec­tion. Based on his cre­den­tials as a respect­ed jour­nal­ist — he’s a lead­ing sci­ence jour­nal­ist and edi­tor for the Aus­tralian Finan­cial […]

Revisiting the climate evidence

Julia Gillard’s deter­mi­na­tion as Prime Min­is­ter to revis­it the debate about an Aus­tralian response to the poten­tial dan­gers of cli­mate change calls for a review of the evi­dence to ensure that any response is pro­por­tion­ate and effec­tive. In my view, the rel­e­vant data show less and less rea­son to attribute recent warm­ing to human activ­i­ties […]

Counterfeiting data is phoney

Ottawa Uni­ver­si­ty Pro­fes­sor of Law, Michael Geist, points to a new U.S. Gov­ern­ment Account­ing Office report that con­cludes the U.S. government—and they might add, oth­er gov­ern­ments nego­ti­at­ing the poi­so­nous ACTA “anti-coun­ter­feit­ing” treaty —have been invent­ing their esti­mates of loss­es from glob­al coun­ter­feit­ing.

Three com­mon­ly cit­ed esti­mates of U.S. indus­try loss­es due to coun­ter­feit­ing have been sourced to U.S. agen­cies, but can­not be sub­stan­ti­at­ed or traced back to an under­ly­ing data source or method­ol­o­gy. First, a num­ber of indus­try, media, and gov­ern­ment pub­li­ca­tions have cit­ed an FBI esti­mate that U.S. busi­ness­es lose $200-$250 bil­lion to coun­ter­feit­ing on an annu­al basis. This esti­mate was con­tained in a 2002 FBI press release, but FBI offi­cials told us that it has no record of source data or method­ol­o­gy for gen­er­at­ing the esti­mate and that it can­not be cor­rob­o­rat­ed.

Sec­ond, a 2002 CBP press release con­tained an esti­mate that U.S. busi­ness­es and indus­tries lose $200 bil­lion a year in rev­enue and 750,000 jobs due to coun­ter­feits of mer­chan­dise. How­ev­er, a CBP offi­cial stat­ed that these fig­ures are of uncer­tain ori­gin, have been dis­cred­it­ed, and are no longer used by CBP. A March 2009 CBP inter­nal memo was cir­cu­lat­ed to inform staff not to use the fig­ures. How­ev­er, anoth­er enti­ty with­in DHS con­tin­ues to use them.

Third, the Motor and Equip­ment Man­u­fac­tur­ers Asso­ci­a­tion report­ed an esti­mate that the U.S. auto­mo­tive parts indus­try has lost $3 bil­lion in sales due to coun­ter­feit goods and attrib­uted the fig­ure to the Fed­er­al Trade Com­mis­sion (FTC). The OECD has also ref­er­enced this esti­mate in its report on coun­ter­feit­ing and pira­cy, cit­ing the asso­ci­a­tion report that is sourced to the FTC. How­ev­er, when we con­tact­ed FTC offi­cials to sub­stan­ti­ate the esti­mate, they were unable to locate any record or source of this esti­mate with­in its reports or archives, and offi­cials could not recall the agency ever devel­op­ing or using this esti­mate. These esti­mates attrib­uted to FBI, CBP, and FTC con­tin­ue to be ref­er­enced by var­i­ous indus­try and gov­ern­ment sources as evi­dence of the sig­nif­i­cance of the coun­ter­feit­ing and pira­cy prob­lem to the U.S. econ­o­my.” Extract from U.S. Gov­ern­ment Study: Coun­ter­feit­ing and Pira­cy Data Unre­li­able (empha­sis added)

I argued in my sub­mis­sion to the Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment, oppos­ing their inten­tion to joint the nego­ti­a­tion, that the OECD esti­mate of glob­al losses—mysteriously the same num­ber as that invent­ed by U.S. agencies—was derived by implau­si­ble means and should not be accept­ed at face val­ue.

Ques­tion: could we say that this GAO report sig­nals an “ACTA-gate” (a data manip­u­la­tion at least as sus­pi­cious as that con­trived by the “Cli­mate­gate” sci­en­tists)?

Evidence on State hospital administration

Adam Cress­well in The Aus. offers us the data instead of spin. The impres­sion of ‘excel­lence’ in Vic­to­ria fades in the light of the evi­dence.

…[H]ealth experts say offi­cial com­par­isons show no evi­dence that Victoria’s sys­tem is any bet­ter: whether cheap­er or, the more impor­tant ques­tion, whether patients emerge health­i­er on the oth­er side” Extract from Diag­no­sis: state of medi­oc­rity | The Aus­tralian

Anoth­er major pub­lic pol­i­cy decision—the fight over State and Fed­er­al con­trol of health funding—being spun, in pub­lic and in the Par­lia­ment at least, by hunch­es and impres­sions.