Thursday, September 20, 2012

Countdown To CAOmageddon: Flaw #46 - ZomBAS Apocalypse

Of all the problems associated with the CAOs, one of the most difficult to overcome is bad data interpreted badly, and then jumping to conclusions about it. For a non-CAO illustration, look at what the Department of Ecology has had to do recently. Their fallibility has been demonstrated in rather high profile as they have been forced to backtrack from some of their most frequently repeated environmental alarmist claims of recent years. We saw this with Ecology's claims about stormwater where they said the equivalent of an Exxon Valdez oil spill washed into Puget Sound every two years. After three years of shouting from every mountaintop, they had to backtrack. As the previous post in this blog noted, Ecology just had to do this again after release of their new report on Hood Canal, where they had to reverse their frequently stated claim that humans were to blame for fish kills there. A more thorough review of the science concludes that such occurrences are due to a "cascade of natural events."

The term I use for bad data interpreted badly is zombie data, and there is a lot of it around here. Zombie data is dead on arrival, but for some reason, it is able to wander around un-dead for years. And it usually ends up eating people and their property before meeting its ultimate demise. Unfortunately for us, there is a cottage industry of non-profits and quangos who generate hordes of this crazy stuff, usually funded by grants. Data collection is great, but it has to be done by people who know what they're doing, and then the collection methods and interpretations need impartial peer review. We should take the approach that all data and interpretations are suspect, not definitive, until/unless subjected to the highest standards of independent quality review (not consensus-building review, but authentic independent critique).

Our Best Available Science (BAS) and BAS synthesis are so full of zombie data that we might as well call it zomBAS. This doesn't stop our Council members from believing it, however. They can't tell dead data from living data. Others can. Below are some excerpts of critiques of our zomBAS.
Email Excerpts -- Barbara Bentley PhD to the Council about BAS
Please re-read all these references again to make sure that the data actually support their conclusions. Most of them are unpublished in-house reports without peer review. From my reading, even “anecdotal” is a stretch for some of them.

... The documents of greatest concern are those produced by Kwiaht. I have worked with Russel in the field as well as read through those documents that I can get a copy of. Frankly, I’m NOT impressed with the methods, the data, the analyses, or the unfounded conclusions. His 2008 and 2010 “papers” are unpublished manuscripts, and both have these very serious flaws. I described them in my letter to the Council and would be willing to talk with you in more detail if you wish. Others in the same category include Brennan, Moulton, Wyllie-Echeverria (2008).

... I also have some concerns about oral presentations. Details of methods and analyses are often not part of a powerpoint presentation and thus the validity of the data cannot be assessed. These include Beamer, Canning, Whitman, Wyllie-Echeverria.

... And finally, it makes me more that a bit nervous to have “circular citations” --- BAS reports citing other BAS reports, such as Herrera, Adamus, and The Watershed Company all citing BAS reports by Herrera.
Excerpts from Tim Verslycke PhD Report about BAS
The buffer sizing procedure proposed in the Wetland and FWHCA Regulations includes two components: a Water Quality-Sensitivity Buffer and a Habitat Buffer. The Water Quality-Sensitivity Buffer sizing procedure is based on whether runoff will flow above- or below-ground, and then relies on an analysispublished by Mayer et al. (2007) to determine appropriate buffer widths for a given level of pollutant removal. There are significant technical issues with the proposed procedure:

  • The meta-analysis presented in Mayer et al. (2007) found only weak correlations between riparian buffer width and nitrogen removal, indicating that factors other than buffer width influence buffer effectiveness. Furthermore, Mayer et al. (2007) found that only herbaceous buffers were more effective at removing nitrogen when wider, whereas no statistically significant relationship was found between nitrogen removal and width of forested, forested/wetland, and wetland buffers. As a result, the proposed buffer sizing procedure is based on weak correlations between only one pollutant (i.e., nitrogen) and only selected vegetated buffers (i.e., herbaceous) and it is therefore not reflective of best available science; and
  • The statement that "nitrogen is one of the most difficult contaminants to remove, and if buffers will adequately remove nitrogen it is likely to remove many other contaminants" (San Juan County Council, 2012a, p. 7) is a significant oversimplification of the current state-of-the-science of chemical fate and transport and buffer effects on water quality (e.g., as summarized in San Juan County, 2011, pp. 58-60) and is not reflective of best available science.
... As an example, two studies by Barsh et al. are cited throughout the Best Available Science Synthesis document (San Juan County, 2011) as providing evidence of chemical contamination (e.g., pesticides, surfactants) in San Juan County surface waters (Barsh et al., 2008) and a localized freshwater fish population (Barsh et al., 2010). It is my opinion that both studies are of limited value and should not be used to infer the presence of ecological risks. Both studies rely on commercial kits to analyze chemical concentrations. While these kits are useful screening tools and may inform the need for further study, they are no substitute for properly conducted monitoring studies using standard analytical methodologies, nor for relying on regulatory field sampling protocols (including appropriate data quality controls, such as field replicates, field blanks, matrix spikes, etc.).


  1. Again, their "science" is not important. It's just a phony cover for rearranging the world to their "progressive" values. Mental patients all.

  2. If people think that land use is a joke, they should have been at last night's meeting at the Mullis Center which ended with Frank Penwell having to file a police report because he was threatened with "a stray bullet" and then subjected to Sharon Kavisto calling him a "fucking liar" at full voice infront of perhaps 35 people.

  3. Any other witnesses to this??

  4. I understand there were many witnesses, and we're checking on that. If true, how ironic it would be for Kivisto to engage in such behavior considering she piled on the "what happened to civility" bandwagon as CAO opposition started to surface. As recently as July 20, Kivisto had an opinion piece that asked, "Whatever happened to civility?"

    In keeping with her alleged behavior last night, maybe she can write a new article titled, "Whatever happened to f---ing civility, you liar?"

  5. There are also reports that Sharon Kivisto threw objects around the room while screaming and was earlier muttering obscenities to people walking past. Certifiable. Turret's syndrome perhaps. Could happen to anyone sitting in council chambers as long as she has. Its a shriek for help.

  6. To save you the trouble of looking for more anonymous witnesses. Yes I did lose my temper which I shouldn't have done.

    It had nothing to do with the meeting. It has to do with one of the at least four lies Mr. Penwell has posted about me on Facebook. They weren't worth responding to, but he went beyond the pale Wednesday night.

    The lie I am referring to is he is saying he has security camera tape of me at Consignment Treasures and since I didn't buy anything while I was there he is puzzled why I would have been there.

    I have informed him I wasn't there. I could brush this off as perhaps he has a low quality system, bad eyesight, or mistook me for someone else except he is still insisting I was there and the tape shows it.

    I spoke to him after the meeting Wednesday, he said I write things about him which aren't true. I asked him to point out an example. He could not.

    I then reiterated the fact that his claim that I had been at CT and he has me on security tape is false.

    He said he had witnesses. He called Kay Kohler over who then said to me: "Don't you remember the conversation we had in the building at Consignment Treasures last Saturday."

    Again I was not there. She was lying.

    I don't know what Mr. Penwell's game is or why he is dragging accomplices into it.

    It was at this point I lost my temper and did say what Anonymous said I said.

    Bob Jarman has spent much of today attempting to get together with Frank to view the tape, something Frank agreed to last night.

    I hope this is resolved soon. It is a rather bizarre experience and yes it was uncivil of me to say what I said.

    I just read the comment posted while I wrote this. I did not throw anything around the room.

    I'm curious why you guys don't use your names?

  7. If it is true you were actually intentionally lied to and you know there there was no miscommunication or case of mistaken identity, then your best course of action would be to issue a San Juan Islander Rumor Control and lay out your version of the truth. It would also be another opportunity for you to apologize. As to the anonymous posting ability of the blog. That is a feature that Google provides. Its a free speech thing. It's not a technical problem. Thanks.

  8. An open minded person left of left coming from the trenches of SF, I'm a bit amazed at the vitriol and apparently outright threats to anyone who might dare might push against the established order here.

    Birds have told me that when Rich Peterson voted his conscience against public funding of the "Brickworks" all hell broke lose for his household.

    So I continue to be amazed that it ain't the assumed usual suspects "packing" the artillery it is indeed the "pacifists."

    As these dudes see their power base questioned and eroded they are totally freaking out. IE: Lovel and Howie just gotta attend THAT meeting.

    Big deal, 35 people.

  9. From what I know, Kivisto's story is correct. A consignment treasures employee mistook another customer for Kivisto and A woman resembling her appeared on CT's cameras. Frank has apologised and now we can perhaps go on living on this island like adults. It seems to me that people can make mistakes and people can loose their temper and that makes us just human. But both Kivisto and Frank have noted their shortcomings and we should move on and not gape like spectators at a gladitorial event in late Rome.

  10. Thanks for the comments everyone. As for this blog's perspective about allowing anonymous posts, the identity of the commenters simply isn't that important to us. It's more important that people contribute at their comfort level rather than not participate. We're grateful that people care enough to write thoughtful comments that help us understand perspectives and situations better ... and we don't care who helps us with that.

  11. My name is actually Anonymous. My parents were very secretive.

    Folks call me Andy.

    I don't mind that others post with my name here.

  12. Just to clarify the attendance numbers at the meeting the other night. It was well attended, over 80 people were there. The incident took place after the meeting had wrapped up a number of folks at left, so there were apparently about 35 folks remaining. This is a good turnout for a mid-week community meeting on any topic. It would have packed smaller spaces like the Grange Hall often used for these kinds of meetings. And yes, local politics is controlled by an authoritarian breed of old time radical left masquerading as Progressive Democrats. They are not progressive and they are not Democrats, regardless of who they pretend to be.

  13. Sharon,
    My experience in these islands is if you don't fit the narrative, you will be verbally attacked and isolated socially. When I weigh these costs for speaking up, I often choose to remain silent. This is why I value anonymous posts - they expand dialogue in a dogmatic environment.

    I miss the anonymous comments for your paper. Haven't you noticed how few comments you get now that anonymity has been abolished? The unintended effect of pursuing your desire to promote personal accountability, has been to diminish dialogue. It's a large price to pay and I wish you would reverse your policy.

  14. Sharon,

    I don't use my actual name in my posts here because I don't want to "catch a stray bullet", or have special Friends trespass on my land looking for ways to harass me, or have my car vandalized, or have my business windows broken, or experience any of a hundred other small little ways the Progressive community here lets you know they love you when you commit thoughtcrime...

  15. Sharon, Have you considered that people post anonymously here, because they have tried to write letters, with signed names to your paper and they don't get published because they are counter to your opinion and agenda??

    This forum has been great and EK will keep the posts in check..For instance, if someone were to commit libel (or "verbal slander" as I like to call it) he would remove it. Or if someone were to use extreme vulgarity, such as yelling "You F%^&ing liar", it too would be removed.

    Your forthrightness about this issue was appreciated, in all sincerity.


  16. After some additional fact checking with witnesses it turns out that Sharon's statement that "I did not throw anything around the room" is not true. The report is that she in fact, stood up abruptly, hurled a sharp instrument -- possible a writing instrument -- to the table, which then flew as a missile toward the public, where-upon she yelled expletives and obscenities. In other words, a public nuisance masquerading as a journalist. There are indications that this is not an isolated incident, unfortunately.

  17. The real Progressive Democrats are OK for the most part, we're dealing with a few bad apples. Hooligans and thugs. Not progressive, they are reactionary. Not democrats, they are authoritarian control freaks. Certainly not anyone's "friend" that's for sure. It's just a little local mafia with a few tinhorns and tinpots strutting and fretting their hour upon the stage, in time will be heard of no more. They rely on the really cheesy bullying tactics on full view at the community meeting earlier this week. And like the Irish are fond of saying, we shall know them by their limping. Their days are numbered.

  18. BS. Study the "progressive" movement from its beginning. It has always been about left wing power and Control. This thinking that there are a few bad apples gives the movement too much cover. Progressives are not good people. Wake up!