Statistical methods do not prevent mistakes, faulty reasoning, incorrect conclusions, inaccuracies, or faulty use of statistics…
Managerium – the heaviest element known to science.
This element has no protons or electrons, but has a nucleus composed of 1 Neutron, 2 Vice-Neutrons, 5 Jr. Vice-Neutrons, 25 Asst. Vice-Neutrons, and 125 Jr. Asst. Vice-Neutrons all going round in circles.
Managerium has a half-life of three years, at which time it does not decay but institutes a series of reviews leading to reorganization. Its molecules are held together by means of the exchange of tiny particles known as morons.
from: Management? It’s not what you think! – Henry Mintzberg, Bruce Ashland, and Joseph Lampel (2010).
Yesterday I attended a presentation at the University of Northern BC on the B.C. Government’s proposed “Cumulative Effects Assessment Framework”. Apparently this ‘framework’ has been in the works for quite some time… In a quick online search I found reference to a document from the BC Oil and Gas commission from 2003 discussing development of a similar ‘framework’.
Unfortunately, like so many of these government-created ‘frameworks’ this one’s about as big a pile of BS as any other ‘environmental monitoring’ ‘framework’.
Here’s a fine image of how the best interests of Moose (for example) will be looked after:
Look somewhat like the new Managerium element?
Or an Org Chart for the Ministry of Environment?
This new proposed ‘framework’ does front a ‘definition’ of cumulative effects:
And apparently, here’s all the things (e.g. “Values”) that this ‘framework’ is going to ‘measure’ or ‘assess’ or consider in assessing “cumulative” effects:
And here’s the “Drivers” for the ‘framework’…
That first one oddly resembles parenting… ‘managing for desired outcomes’… and most parents probably recognize how that goes…
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And, saving the best for last… the joy of the Matrix… here’s how “decision making” will occur in this fantastic “risk management approach” (hmmm, I think i’ve heard this before… sub-prime mortgage, anyone?)
A stringent “Management Approach” will be lead by “Government & Industry”?… hmmmm?!?!
And more Matrix: the “Values Screen”…
Apparently, all those things in the “Values” table above will be reduced to “Low” “Moderate” and “High” risks, with simple arrows indicating the ‘trend’:
… which includes (apparently): “Community Well-being”… and the phrase that is inherently full of bias: “Economic Development”… what about no ‘development’ as a potential option…? as in those ‘wilderness’ values that are at the bottom of the “values” list. (note: bottom of list).
A few basic questions for the BC Gov and developers of this framework:
1. what about Federal Gov. managed thingees…? (like salmon, endangered species, or… Pipelines)
2. Where’s the ‘baseline’ for these ‘values’? Who determined the baseline? How do we know if the arrow should be going up or down on the trend (or north, or south), or diagonally (like a good Scottish rain: “straight sideways”).
3. Which community values? – the urban, or the rural? east or west? AB or BC? Who determines ‘community well-being’?
4 . Who determines “resource capability” (e.g. from table of “initial values” above)? Do the trees, or do the foresters, or do the harvesters of ‘non-timber forest products’?
Unfortunately, this is an exercise in ‘waffle words’… ‘bafflegab’… or my favorite:
Nothing more than BUREAUCRATIC BUMPF. With the general public as the ‘morons’ as the tiny particles holding it together (e.g. from the opening quote and illustration).
The government presenter yesterday justified development of this ‘framework’ saying that it overwhelmingly came about as a result of the “general public demanding something that assesses cumulative impacts”…
not sure this is what Ms. or Mr. or Dr. general public had in mind… if one was to buy that line anywyays…
There’s a pretty decent review at Scientific American that sums things quite well:
…he’s brilliant, funny and fearless and tackles consequential topics. What are the limits of science? Of understanding and prediction? Given our limited ability to know and control the world, how should we live our lives? How can we prosper in spite—and even because—of life’s vicissitudes?
A former derivatives trader, Taleb made his reputation by bashing conventional economics and finance, but his scope has always ranged far beyond Wall Street. His Big Idea is that life inevitably serves up surprises, or “black swans”–from AIDS and nuclear weapons to the 9/11 attacks and the internet—that our necessarily retrospective models of reality cannot foresee.
…Here is how he sums up his message in The Wall Street Journal: “We should try to create institutions that won’t fall apart when we encounter black swans—or that might even gain from these unexpected events… To deal with black swans, we instead need things that gain from volatility, variability, stress and disorder.” That is what Taleb means by “antifragile.” He offers some suggestions for achieving antifragility in government, business and other spheres: “Think of the economy as being more like a cat than a washing machine.” “Favor businesses that learn from their own mistakes.” “Small is beautiful, but it is also efficient.” “Trial and error beats academic knowledge.” “Decision makers must have skin in the game.”
Taleb has a decent editorial in the Wall Street Journal this past November:
Several years before the financial crisis descended on us, I put forward the concept of “black swans“: large events that are both unexpected and highly consequential. We never see black swans coming, but when they do arrive, they profoundly shape our world: Think of World War I, 9/11, the Internet, the rise of Google.
I also recommend Taleb’s earlier book from 2007, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. The review on Amazon sums it well:
A black swan is a highly improbable event with three principal characteristics: It is unpredictable; it carries a massive impact; and, after the fact, we concoct an explanation that makes it appear less random, and more predictable, than it was. The astonishing success of Google was a black swan; so was 9/11. For Nassim Nicholas Taleb, black swans underlie almost everything about our world, from the rise of religions to events in our own personal lives.
This certainly sounds like the 2010 return of Fraser sockeye… the big one. And in turn the ‘collapsed’ run of the year previous.
There are some pretty good YouTube clips of Taleb speaking. He’s known to be volatile and unpredictable at times. In one of his calmer appearances, he has a great comparison between plane crashes and bank failures…
He suggests that when a plane crashes, generally people die – however, we learn from those crashes, which in turn reduces future plane crashes.
Yet when big banks crash and fail, we don’t learn from those events and in fact, more big banks fail more regularly.
Taleb suggests, as the handwritten quotes above suggest, that we spend far too much time and resources trying to predict things, that we can’t in fact predict.
Hmmmm. like salmon runs? for one.
And two, predictions of how many salmon can be caught from those badly predicted run sizes… yet retain the ‘health’ and ‘resilience’ of these runs, or collection of salmon runs which comprise the Fraser sockeye runs?
And so on, and so on.
We know that the concept, and formulaic practice of determining Maximum Sustainable Yield in fisheries is a highly failed, flawed, and screwy model. It should be banished, yet it still dominates ‘fisheries management’…. [see free E-book in right hand column]
…that term in itself a misnomer… it implies we can ‘manage’ the fish, and in turn the ‘fishers’ that target and bonk them… the latter being somewhat more ‘controllable’… ‘manageable’….
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Wading through Justice Cohen’s reports, evidence (or lack of…), and 1000+ pages makes me think of Taleb’s quote above: ‘the limit is mathematical, period, and there is no way around it on this planet. What is nonmeasurable and nonpredictable will remain nonmeasurable and nonpredictable no matter how many PhDs you put on the job.’
And like banks and politicians — no one is held accountable for making bad or wrong predictions based on complex spreadsheets and formulaic equations. As Taleb essentially asks: what if we held scientists accountable, would we continue to get the same bullshit models and faulty prediction regimes? He suggests that far too few ‘predictors’ and ‘spreadsheet makers’ are ever held accountable for their ‘predictions’.
What if fisheries scientists and predictors and prognosticators were held accountable for their predictions? and risk models? and so on…?
Would we all of a sudden see a massive simplifying of this ever-increasing ‘science’ which is not really a ‘science’. Similar to economists, fisheries scientists can predict future salmon runs with as much accuracy as the prognosticators predicting where financial markets will close next Wednesday…
So why do we continue to waste millions and millions of dollars on faulty science, predictions, consultants, law professionals, and so on.
As has been pointed out in recent posts, and many past posts, wild salmon inhabit far too many vast areas (e.g. the North Pacific) of which we will never, ever be able to make accurate ‘predictions’ about. So why flaunt and flit about suggesting that we ‘understand’ things that we don’t…
It’s kind of like lying on one’s resume then getting the job, or taking performance enhancing drugs for decades and yet maintaining innocence, or lining one’s own pockets or those of their friends while an elected politician…
“Our track record in figuring out significant rare events in politics and economics [and natural systems] is not close to zero; it is zero.”
“The undoubted sign of a society well under control or in decline is that language has ceased to be a means of communication and has become instead a shield for those who master it…” -John Ralston Saul, Canadian thinker.
Wow, where did these folks come from…(see photo above)? …Oh, wait, I think I can tell you… but i’ll leave that to my inside voice.
Let the gutting of Canada as you know it… Begin.
Maybe the Harper Conservatives/Reform didn’t watch the crash and burn of Danielle Smith’s girls gone Wild-rose party earlier this week in Alberta.
Even Canada’s “heartland” folks that some might say lean towards the right side of the spectrum and maybe a little tinge of crimson on the back of the neck… were not ready for ‘gays will die in hellfire’ and ‘white folks make better candidates’-type comments coming from folks wanting to be elected to government in AB.
…And a leader that said “gee, shucks, that’s just their personal views, don’t worry those won’t affect their politics…”
Or…maybe… just maybe… was it a crash and burn, or, simply completely blown polling results… who’s to know really…
But then we have Harper and his crew.
Take the picture above, straight off the “Fisheries and Oceans Canada” website: Harper Government Commits to the Responsible Protection and Conservation of Canada’s Fisheries.
The Honourable Keith Ashfield, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, announced that the Harper government will introduce changes to protect the productivity of recreational, commercial and Aboriginal fisheries. This means focusing protection rules on real and significant threats to these fisheries and the habitat that supports them while setting clear standards and guidelines for routine projects.
And there it is… a point made many times on this salmonguy site… The Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans has the mandate to conserve and protect fish and fish habitat.
NOT… “responsible protection and conservation of Canada’s fisheries”…
Someone… pardon the pun… is missing the boat.
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From the Vancouver Sun yesterday:
OTTAWA — The Harper government unveiled a massive omnibus budget implementation bill Thursday that includes Fisheries Act amendments that will strip the term “habitat” from the most crucial section of the law.The government’s intent, according to a spokeswoman, to assist “everyday Canadians” in their dealings with federal fisheries bureaucrats.
And the official said allegations that the government is giving in to demands from energy and mining lobbyists are false.
“These are changes being made in our department that are designed to help Canadians — everyday Canadians: landowners, municipalities, farmers – be able to undertake activities on their properties without obtrusive interference by our department,” said Erin Filliter, spokeswoman for Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield.
Hmmm… interesting… this is about everyday Canadians… says Ash-field.
But… but… I thought it was about “Responsible Protection and Conservation of Canada’s Fisheries”
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The Vancouver Sun the day before yesterday:
The federal government’s planned overhaul of the Fisheries Act may reduce the regulatory burden companies such as Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. face in getting approval for major projects, Fisheries Minister Keith Ash-field said Tuesday.
But Ashfield rejected opposition accusations that the federal government’s plan for a “more sensible and practical” Fisheries Act was a result of corporate pressure from the energy and mining sectors. “It certainly hasn’t influenced me in any way shape or form. I have never sat down with [or] had any discussions with Enbridge,” he said in an interview.
Ashfield said farmers, municipalities and even some conservation groups in Canada support the government plan to shift regulatory enforcement focus away from general fish habitat and toward specific fish and fish habitat that are of “vital” importance to the recreational, commercial and aboriginal fisheries.
Oh yea… what about scientists, researchers, and streamkeeper groups? What about the 100,000 plus or so BC’ers that spend time cleaning creeks and streams and looking after fish and fish habitat?
Ashfield drew attention to groups outside the mining and energy sectors backing the changes, including the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Canadian Federation of Municipalities.
What horseshit, last time I checked, Ducks Unlimited wasn’t really a fish conservation organization… doesn’t it work on protecting wetlands so that there’s more ducks to potentially shoot…?
And of course the federation of municipalities is going to go for it…
The bullshit that elected officials will spew out in the name of marketing and PR is astounding.
But Ashfield acknowledged his proposals could reduce Enbridge’s requirements under Fisheries Act habitat protection rules for the estimated 1,000 waterways its Northern Gateway pipeline will cross. “It could be determined that some of these waterways may not necessarily be vital waterways,” Ashfield said.
The government announcement stressed that the current fisheries law, which bans activity that results in the “harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat,” has been too broadly enforced.
Too “broadly enforced”!?
Show me all the frigging fines and convictions then.
You can’t, because there were only two in 2008.
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The Globe and Mail also ran an article on this issue the other day:
…But critics argue the government is looking to reduce the regulatory burden on energy and mining companies, and the changes will jeopardize rivers, streams and lakes that are part of broad and important ecosystems.
“This announcement does indicate an intention to compromise for some of Canada’s lakes, rivers and streams – whichever the government officials deem to be not vital,” said Lara Tessaro, staff lawyer with the Vancouver-based EcoJustice group.
“In the context of environmental protection, it is a really bizarre approach to have government officials handpick which lakes are not important. … What fish need to survive is healthy and productive habitats, from spawning grounds to rearing grounds to habitats for their entire food chain.”
Ms. Tessaro added that the legislative amendments are unnecessary if all the government wants to do is streamline the process for minor development projects, because they are covered by policy guidelines that could be easily changed.