More hot air from Andrew Bolt over the IPCC

I see that Andrew Bolt is spearheading another baseless anti-IPCC rant over on his blog. Unsurprisingly, it’s another non-issue – involving the IPCC referencing reports by Greenpeace. Same old Bolt, same old story – click here to read just how wrong Andrew has been in the past. Instead of going for the science (after all, in our last debate, Andrew conceded “I am not a scientist, and cannot have an informed opinion on your research”), Bolt specifically takes a swipe at the inclusion of a report I authored back in 2000:

Considered the climate Bible by governments around the world, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is meant to be a scientific analysis of the most authoritative research.

Instead, it references literature generated by Greenpeace – an organization known more for headline-grabbing publicity stunts than sober-minded analysis. (Eight IPCC-cited Greenpeace publications are listed at the bottom of this post.)

In one section of this Nobel-winning report, climate change is linked to coral reef degradation. The sole source for this claim? A Greenpeace report titled “Pacific in Peril” (see Hoegh-Guldberg below).

This is the offending report – please feel free to read through and comment below.

Hoegh-Guldberg, O., H. Hoegh-Guldberg, H. Cesar and A. Timmerman, 2000: Pacific in peril: biological, economic and social impacts of climate change on Pacific coral reefs. Greenpeace, 72 pp. (link to PDF here)

Ignoring the blatant threats to myself and other scientists on Bolt’s blog, one of the most valuable comments in the entire thread is from a commentor, Eldon Degraw:

“What the IPCC reports have been shown to have is a consensus scientists, plus the consensus of WWF and Greenpeace activists, Guardian journalists and other non-scientists, submitting work that isn’t peer reviewed at all.

So, instead of showing a consensus of scientists in the IPCC reports, we have a ‘consensus of some people involved with the matter’. ”

You mean ‘a consensus of scientists plus other people involved in the matter’. I hardly expect climate scientists to be experts on areas outside of climate science (such as economic effects of coral reef degradation on Pacific cities). In fact the Greenpeace study you’re dismissing wasn’t being cited for scientific claims, only for the claims about likely economic impacts. I don’t see a problem. And the ‘Greenpeace Activists’ who wrote it were actually biologists (Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, for instance) whose other papers in peer-reviewed journals (Science, Nature) were used as references for scientific claims regarding the causes and current state of coral reef degradation. I don’t see your problem.

I also vote for changing the statement ‘consensus of climate scientists’. I think it should be ‘consensus of climate scientists…and more’.

Green sea slugs one up corals

Corals are holobionts (host-symbiont partners) – the coral host living in symbiosis with algae (and an array of other micro-organisms, including bacteria, fungi, and other algae). The symbiosis from these algae provide the coral with nutrients, explaining why coral reefs thrive in nutrient poor waters. Problems then arise when temperatures get warm – the algae and coral become stressed, and the coral host kicks out the algae. If the temperatures are prolonged or severe enough, the coral host will inevitably die due to starvation and disease.

Enter the green sea slug. Instead of relying on a constant supply of intracellular algae within the host tissues, this slug can actually produce the photosynthetic pigment chlorophyll a, essentially allowing the creature to become self sufficient and solar-powered. Through horizontal gene transfer, the slug actually acquired algal ‘photosynthetic genes necessary to produce proteins, making the slug truly part animal, part plant. More below from Wired magazine:

Shaped like a leaf itself, the slug Elysia chlorotica already has a reputation for kidnapping the photosynthesizing organelles and some genes from algae. Now it turns out that the slug has acquired enough stolen goods to make an entire plant chemical-making pathway work inside an animal body, says Sidney K. Pierce of the University of South Florida in Tampa.

The slugs can manufacture the most common form of chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants that captures energy from sunlight, Pierce reported January 7 at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. Pierce used a radioactive tracer to show that the slugs were making the pigment, called chlorophyll a, themselves and not simply relying on chlorophyll reserves stolen from the algae the slugs dine on.

“This could be a fusion of a plant and an animal — that’s just cool,” said invertebrate zoologist John Zardus of The Citadel in Charleston, S.C.

What would eat a spiny urchin?!

The black spiny Caribbean urchin Diadema antillarum is a formitable looking creature.  It is basically a pin cushion with black hypodermic needles for spines.  It seems reasonable to conclude that its spines are an adaptation to deter predators, and moreover, that they would be fairly effective. In fact, many Caribbean reef scientists assume few predators can eat Diadema.  For example, Harbone et al (2009) recently stated;

“Urchins are particularly susceptible to unregulated ‘plagues’ because only a few specialist predators can overcome their defensive spines

But surprising as it might seem, a wide range of fishes and invertebrates consume Diadema and could control it’s behavior and population densities.  (I love these natural history surprises that defy logic and human biases.)

Predators of Diadema include: snapper, jacks, porcupinefishes, trunkfishes, grunts including black margate, porgies, triggerfishes, pufferfish, large wrasses, parrotfish, octopuses, lobsters, large gastropods and even small crabs (which eat juvenile Diadema).

The classic paper on predators of Diadema on Caribbean reefs is Randall et al. (1964).  This paper, published before I was born, is a masterpiece of natural history and an invaluable documentation of the ecology of Diadema before it was wiped out by a disease in the early 1980s.  Randall et al. reported;

Predators of D. antillarum include 15 fishes of the families Balistidae, Carangidae, Diodontidae, Labridae, ostraciidae, Sparidae, and Tetraodontidae, two gastropod of the genus Cassis, and the spiny lobster (Panulirus argus).

Some interesting excerpts from Randall et al:

Two larger wrasses, the Spanish hogfish (Bodianus rufus) and the puddingwife (Halichoeres radiatus), appear to feed directly, on Diadema without depending on the efforts of another predator. The senior author watched a large B. rufus eating Diadema at St. Croix and noted that it ate spines which it could have discarded. It took a piece of test into its mouth from which several spines projected, one of which was very long. The spines were drawn in gradually, apparently by the action of the pharyngeal teeth, and completely consumed.

Two large pomadasyid fishes, the black margate (Anisotremus surinamensis) and the Spanish grunt (Haemulon macrostomum), feed heavily on Diadema as adults. The lips and mouths of these fishes nearly always show purple dots indicating the sites of entry of Diadema spines, and the bones around their mouths are stained purple, probably because of the continuous tatooing action of the spines.

The authors have observed Diadema antillarum preyed upon by the two helmet shells Cassis madagascariensis and Cassis tuberosa in the Virgin Islands (Schroeder, 1962). When these gastropod encounter an urchin on which they wish to feed, they elevate the foot anteriorly, creep forward, and fall upon the prey, pinning it beneath. Within about 10 minutes the proboscis rasps a hole in the test about 6 to 10 mm. in diameter for feeding. The helmets may remain on top of the urchins for an hour or more. At times Diadema was found completely crushed beneath them. Surprisingly, the spines rarely penetrate the foot of these large gastropod.

An adult Diadema with its spines cropped by an octopus. From Discovery Bay, Jamaica, 2003.

D. antillarum have a suite of known consumers. Common predators include diverse finfishes: triggerfishes (balistids), jacks (carangids), wrasses (labrids), pufferfishes (tetradontids and diodonids) and grunts (haemulids), among which the queen triggerfish (Balistes vetula) has been identified as the most important fish. Invertebrate predators include spiny lobsters, king helmet snails and fighting conch. Small carnivores, such as small crabs and fireworms may prey upon newly settled juvenile D. antillarum. The significance of these micropredatorson D. antillarum population dynamics has yet to be explored. – from the Diadema Workshop Report 2004

There was an email thread about Diadema predators that went around among a group of 20 or so reef ecologists during the holidays. The highlights are below.  I found the discussion fascinating.  It really emphasized the importance of unpublished yet key natural history information in understanding reef dynamics and management.  It also reminded me how knowledgeable and experienced these senior scientists are. I guess you do get something out of doing many thousands of dives over 3-4 decades!  (other than hearing loss and a crooked spine)

Martin Moe: On predation, I’m sure that predation has a great effect on reducing the number of juvenile Diadema that settle and survive on various reef areas. I think, however, that the substrate upon which the late larvae settle has an even greater effect on the numbers of settling larvae that survive to become small, stable, feeding juveniles that actually have a chance to avoid predation and become reproductive adults. Apparently differential predation on Diadema due to fishing effort had little observable effect on Diadema populations in the recent past when fishing effort was spotty and Diadema populations were high throughout the tropical Western Atlantic.

I base this speculation on the results of my May 6, 09 larvae rearing run. Settlement and metamorphosis from day 40 through day 55 produced many thousands of early juveniles that settled out on many different types of substrates including sand, bare rock, algae covered rock, shells, algae strands and plastic. Of the thousands of early juveniles only about 100 survived past the 6 to 10 day early juvenile phase when internal organs and feeding apparatus had developed. By far, the substrate that produced the best survival was acrylic strips with coralline alga and hard plated green algae. I assume that diatom and bacterial growths were also present. Filamentous algae and sediment coated surfaces did not appear to favor survival. I am sure that some survival occurred on other substrates but I am not sure which of these other substrates were effective. Once the feeding juveniles were established, they moved to many other substrates and there was no mortality in these juveniles that I was aware of. I was very surprised at the almost total lack of survival of early juveniles on natural substrates that I assumed would be excellent substrates for early survival and growth.

Les Kaufman: The more intact hard coral-dominated reefs in the Indo-Pacific help to place things in perspective.  On these reefs, herbivorous fishes are larger and more abundant than in the Caribbean (today), by many fold and up to at least one order of magnitude- a big difference.  Under these circumstances, urchin predators are also large and abundant, and urchins- indeed all motile macroinvertebrates- are very hard to find.  They are still there, but their movements are severely curtailed by the array of large, powerful invertivores moving about, especially by day.   In this milieu, fishes are the primary herbivores, and here, a marine reserve will not have the effect we are worried about for Diadema in the Caribbean.

So, the negative rebound from a marine reserve (through a predator-Diadema cascade) is a transient.   If fish populations were farther along in their recovery, fish herbivory would cover for the decrement caused by predation on urchins.  Or alternatively, the Caribbean may actually have always been on a different trajectory.  Do you think?

Jamie Bechtel: Yes – It would appear that micropredation  may have played a key role in preventing recovery of the diadema population.  My dissertation, which is now old and dusty; basically, diadema was found to be influenced by the entire echinoid complex – and it was only found when there were other echinoids something like 96% of the time. It was pretty astounding.  The theory being that diadema larvae – juveniles had to land on bare substrate cleared by other urchins or be eaten by crabs.  Implications of course for the role of bare substrate in phase transition.

Bill Precht: I always find these little tidbits that everybody adds quite enjoyable as they really fill in the picture.

The commonly held belief is that are very few predators of Diadema. This, even though Randall showed that there were at least 15 reef fishes that consumed adults not to mention ALL the micro-predators you all mention.

John Valentine: To add some observations to all of this: Based on our work in the keys, and hours of video tapes of predation on  small urchins, we found that most of our views are overly simple. In the lower keys it is small wrasses (when urchins are small), hogfish and  saucereye porgies. In the northern keys their was an attack sequence that  began with small wrasses who picked at the prey (without much success)  followed by attacks by either hogfishes or, oddly enough, redtail parrots.

Redtails attacked urchins in virtually every location we placed urchins,  fore and back reef and at horseshoe. I would add the urchins were  echinometra as we found no small diadema. there were larger ones around but  mostly at Little Grecian and once in a while at White Banks.   And in Hawkschannel, it was Cassis feeding on Lytechinus. The urchins seemed  to be aware of their presence and crawled to the top of the cages we had in  place at the time.

Rich Aronson: Specialist is probably not the right word anyway. All the fishes that eat Diadema, including queen triggerfish, are invertivores that include urchins in their diets. Queen triggers eat Diadema preferentially when and where they are abundant but switch to other skeletonized prey when Diadema are scarce or absent.

Boom-bust cycles appear to be a general feature of echinoderm ecology. II think Tom Ebert remarked on that somewhere, years ago.

Les Kauman: John (V) redial (chrysopterum) or redband (aureofrenatum)?  The latter has a high penchant for carnivory, be interesting to know if that is true of chrysopterum too and under what circumstances.

John Valentine: It was redband. We have struggled to find about much in the literature  beyond its grazing, and grouping as a herbivore. Any suggested readings would be appreciated.

Brian Keller: In DB olden days, on several occasions I witnessed parrotfish chomping Diadema spines down to nubbins (sorry Les – no idea what species!). I also observed broken “nubbin Diadema” tests, but did not witness the perpetrator.

Les Kaufman: Actually redbands are voracious carnivores, were always among the first to show at a deliberate urchin “kill” in the old days, and Rich Aronson and I share a favorite terminally rejected manuscript on this topic.

Les Kaufman: For what it’s worth, octopus have an astonishing ability to handle fully spined Diadema.  I’ve got footage someplace of an octopus (perhaps a briarium) draping a Diadema, its oral web gracefully (and one would think painfully) tented by the spines.  I don’t remember that instance leading to predation, but draping is often or maybe even usually (Rich?) an action pattern related to foraging.

Rich Aronson: Right you are Les: octopuses, especially O. briareus, hunt by extending their webbing over prey. They also pounce on rocks and coral heads, enveloping them with their webbing, and then insert their arms into crevices to hunt on spec. Roger Hanlon and others have looked into this behavior pattern.

Despite our recent obsession with regional and global forcing, it sure is nice to chat about natural history once in a while.

Additional observations and comments are welcome!


Harborne A, Renaud P, Tyler E, Mumby P (2009) Reduced density of the herbivorous urchin Diadema antillarum inside a Caribbean marine reserve linked to increased predation pressure by fishes. Coral Reefs 28:783-791

Randall JE, RE Schroeder and WA Starck II (1964) Notes on the biology of the echinoid Diadema antillarumCarib. J. Sci. 4: 421-433

The importance of stupidity in scientific research

I don’t entirely agree with this piece in it’s entirety, but stumbled across it doing literature searches and thought it’d make a great article for Climate Shifts. Titled “The importance of stupidity in scientific research”, below is an editorial piece published in the Journal of Cell Science by a microbiologist named Martin Schwarz that makes for interesting reading:

I recently saw an old friend for the first time in many years. We had been Ph.D. students at the same time, both studying science, although in different areas. She later dropped out of graduate school, went to Harvard Law School and is now a senior lawyer for a major environmental organization. At some point, the conversation turned to why she had left graduate school. To my utter astonishment, she said it was because it made her feel stupid. After a couple of years of feeling stupid every day, she was ready to do something else.

I had thought of her as one of the brightest people I knew and her subsequent career supports that view. What she said bothered me. I kept thinking about it; sometime the next day, it hit me. Science makes me feel stupid too. It’s just that I’ve gotten used to it. So used to it, in fact, that I actively seek out new opportunities to feel stupid. I wouldn’t know what to do without that feeling. I even think it’s supposed to be this way. Let me explain.

For almost all of us, one of the reasons that we liked science in high school and college is that we were good at it. That can’t be the only reason – fascination with understanding the physical world and an emotional need to discover new things has to enter into it too. But high-school and college science means taking courses, and doing well in courses means getting the right answers on tests. If you know those answers, you do well and get to feel smart.

A Ph.D., in which you have to do a research project, is a whole different thing. For me, it was a daunting task. How could I possibly frame the questions that would lead to significant discoveries; design and interpret an experiment so that the conclusions were absolutely convincing; foresee difficulties and see ways around them, or, failing that, solve them when they occurred? My Ph.D. project was somewhat interdisciplinary and, for a while, whenever I ran into a problem, I pestered the faculty in my department who were experts in the various disciplines that I needed. I remember the day when Henry Taube (who won the Nobel Prize two years later) told me he didn’t know how to solve the problem I was having in his area. I was a third-year graduate student and I figured that Taube knew about 1000 times more than I did (conservative estimate). If he didn’t have the answer, nobody did.

That’s when it hit me: nobody did. That’s why it was a research problem. And being my research problem, it was up to me to solve. Once I faced that fact, I solved the problem in a couple of days. (It wasn’t really very hard; I just had to try a few things.) The crucial lesson was that the scope of things I didn’t know wasn’t merely vast; it was, for all practical purposes, infinite. That realization, instead of being discouraging, was liberating. If our ignorance is infinite, the only possible course of action is to muddle through as best we can.

I’d like to suggest that our Ph.D. programs often do students a disservice in two ways. First, I don’t think students are made to understand how hard it is to do research. And how very, very hard it is to do important research. It’s a lot harder than taking even very demanding courses. What makes it difficult is that research is immersion in the unknown. We just don’t know what we’re doing. We can’t be sure whether we’re asking the right question or doing the right experiment until we get the answer or the result. Admittedly, science is made harder by competition for grants and space in top journals. But apart from all of that, doing significant research is intrinsically hard and changing departmental, institutional or national policies will not succeed in lessening its intrinsic difficulty.

Second, we don’t do a good enough job of teaching our students how to be productively stupid – that is, if we don’t feel stupid it means we’re not really trying. I’m not talking about ‘relative stupidity’, in which the other students in the class actually read the material, think about it and ace the exam, whereas you don’t. I’m also not talking about bright people who might be working in areas that don’t match their talents. Science involves confronting our ‘absolute stupidity’. That kind of stupidity is an existential fact, inherent in our efforts to push our way into the unknown. Preliminary and thesis exams have the right idea when the faculty committee pushes until the student starts getting the answers wrong or gives up and says, ‘I don’t know’. The point of the exam isn’t to see if the student gets all the answers right. If they do, it’s the faculty who failed the exam. The point is to identify the student’s weaknesses, partly to see where they need to invest some effort and partly to see whether the student’s knowledge fails at a sufficiently high level that they are ready to take on a research project.

Productive stupidity means being ignorant by choice. Focusing on important questions puts us in the awkward position of being ignorant. One of the beautiful things about science is that it allows us to bumble along, getting it wrong time after time, and feel perfectly fine as long as we learn something each time. No doubt, this can be difficult for students who are accustomed to getting the answers right. No doubt, reasonable levels of confidence and emotional resilience help, but I think scientific education might do more to ease what is a very big transition: from learning what other people once discovered to making your own discoveries. The more comfortable we become with being stupid, the deeper we will wade into the unknown and the more likely we are to make big discoveries.

How to start a new year: go clean a beach

We typically spend the holidays on Cape Hatteras, on the outer banks of North Carolina.  Today, January 1, 2010, we went to the beach (in cloudy, cold, windy conditions) to make a small difference.  The kids were more enthusiastic than us!  Just like an easter egg hunt!  Only we were seeking old flip flops, balloons, bags, tires, fishing line, etc.

We only had to walk a mile or so to fill two large Hefty bags.  And this is a national seashore, fairly isolated from major cities.

I usually don’t feel that I am tangibly benefiting the environment through my science, blogging, teaching, outreach etc. And picking up trash can be so satisfying.

I thought the most moving environmental post of 2009 was photographer Chris Jordan’s photo-essay of dead albatross chicks on Midway Atoll.  The birds had been fed a diet of plastic brought back from the remote central Pacific by their parents.  “On this diet of human trash, every year tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation, toxicity, and choking.”  See the slide show of Chris’s photos below.


I see this problem everywhere I travel.  Such as on this remote island on the Belizean Barrier Reef, where the beaches are covered with plastic from unknown origins.

At least there is a fairly simple solution for this problem.  Stop using plastics.  Stop throwing plastics in the ocean.  Start picking up plastics in your own backyard.

Kids love picking up trash!

So many flip flops!  One time when I was a grad student, a container of sneakers fell off a cargo ship and covered a cobble beach in Rhode Island with sneakers.  We called it sneaker beach.  15 years later, the name still fits.

Lots of old fishing line.  A big problem for birds, sea turtles, fish, etc.

All I had to do was carry the trash bag and the kids did all the work!

mucho ribbon


Lots of messes of tangled lines

netting and styrofoam

One hour of fun (and cold) = 2 tires and 2 bags-o-trash!

Just what we do in my family for fun.  Yesterday we pulled teeth out of a rotting dolphin carcass!

Sarah Palin has the intellect of an 8 year old child

The issue of climate change in Australian politics is often akin to beating your head against a brick wall  (see here, here and here for prime examples). Having said that, nothing beats the American political system when it comes to sheer willful ignorance. Prime example? Sarah Palin’s Twitter account. Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up:

Case #1

Earth saw clmate chnge4 ions;will cont 2 c chnges.R duty2responsbly devlop resorces4humankind/not pollute&destroy;but cant alter naturl chng


Case #2

Copenhgen=arrogance of man2think we can change nature’s ways.MUST b good stewards of God’s earth,but arrogant&naive2say man overpwers nature


Monbiot vs Plimer on lateline

The Monbiot vs Plimer debate is getting a little beyond common sense (see here for our previous coverage). Below is an excerpt from Lateline featuring both ‘contestants’ –  Plimer simply can’t answer a very, very simple question put to him. If anyone want’s to jump to Plimer’s aid and support his case, please comment below. It’s beginning to look a little one-sided…

Here is the link to the ABC transcript, and here are the full versions on Youtube: Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3.

Following the trail of denier lies

AGW deniers, universally known for being totally full of crap, seem to be ramping up their lies and baseless attacks this holiday season.

This is how it works.  One denier makes a  baseless claim, as a comment on a blog:

Personal anecdote:
Last spring when I was shopping around for a new source of funding, after having my funding slashed to zero 15 days after going public with a finding about natural climate variations, I kept running into funding application instructions of the following variety:

Successful candidates will:
1) Demonstrate AGW.
2) Demonstrate the catastrophic consequences of AGW.
3) Explore policy implications stemming from 1 & 2.

Another denier blogger at “Bishop Hill” , taking the unsourced, vague, unsubstantiated, anonymous comment as fact states:

This confirms the stories that I’ve been hearing over the last few years.

There you have it.   That is all it takes to convince a deep thinking “skeptic”.  Not 1 of 48 commentors (at time of this posting) pointed out the obvious, shall we say weakness in this argument.

Then, the stampede starts.  (Also see Jez’s post on this here)  Deniers, not known for their creativity, start linking to the story, making the same point themselves, etc.  Pretty soon, CLIMATEGATE II!

Here is the “climate skeptic” linking to the same comment and going on and on about biases in funding, the corrupting nature of funding only being available for AGW “believers”, etc.  And the dopey commentors – skeptics! –  take it hook, line and sinker.

Here is an example from Pete:

So much of this is anecdotal and hearsay. There is a very easy way to deal with this in the next IPCC report: adopt the judicial model of majority and dissenting opinions for the major findings and recommendations. Since there is alleged bias in selection of IPCC members that might limit dissent, include links to “amicus briefs” from outside individuals and organizations. Construct a website in which outside individuals could register their name, affiliation and simple support or opposition to specific findings and recommendations.

Ironically, the anecdote he refers to isn’t this BS post he is commenting on, but instead the IPCC report, which is sourced, includes figures, all supported by data that can be downloaded, peer-reviewed scientific papers, etc.  But the argument and legend based on a skeptic blog comment gets a free pass.  Yup, these people are really critical thinkers.

I made a comment over at ClimateSkeptic asking for a source of such a funding agency.  Lets see if anyone responds.   We have performed this experiment before at CS;  the skeptics usually shy away when asked for facts, citations, etc to support their nonsence.


Still no response to my query.  But I noticed two other commenters also had some issues with this logic and science-by-blog-comment approach.


I agree that this post relies too heavily on anecdotes. That story about the funding application, if real, was possibly taken out of context.


How fucking gullible can you get? Did you bother to look up who that commenter was? Did you try to find out whether they were actually a scientist, or if they had ever in fact published a climate-related paper? Clearly not. You just found a statement that fitted in with your retarded beliefs, and parroted it unquestioningly.

Searching for the ‘smoking gun’ in the climate change code

Since the now notorious CRU email distraction hack, it seems EVERYONE has become an expert in not only climate change but now code. Apparently ‘Armed and Dangerous‘ quote mined the code for ‘suspicious’ words like artificial, and stumbled across the following code in on of Briffa’s reconstructions of Northern Hemisphere temperatures.

; Apply a VERY ARTIFICAL correction for decline!!
valadj=[0.,0.,0.,0.,0.,-0.1,-0.25,-0.3,0.,- 0.1,0.3,0.8,1.2,1.7,2.5,2.6,2.6,$
2.6,2.6,2.6]*0.75 ; fudge factor
if n_elements(yrloc) ne n_elements(valadj) then message,'Oooops!'

…and reaches the following conclusion…

All you apologists weakly protesting that this is research business as usual and there are plausible explanations for everything in the emails? Sackcloth and ashes time for you. This isn’t just a smoking gun, it’s a siege cannon with the barrel still hot (Read more),

I’m not sure exactly how they managed to track this one given the person writing the code managed to spell ‘artificial’ incorrectly (searching for fudge, maybe?). Sorry to be an apologist here, but Tim Lambert over at Deltoid does a great job of showing exactly why its pretty pointless to analyse and critique code when you have no idea how the code functions. In summary, it’s neither false or deceptive. Still looking for that smoking gun?

But hey, code-mining is fun. Anyone here run a Linux system? Try this command:

find . -name *.[hcS] -not -regex ‘./.git.*’ | xargs cat | grep ”hack” | wc -l

Except replace the part in red with, oh, anything you like. If you want to see which files contain the word you are grepping for, use this:

egrep -H -A2 -ir “(hack)” *

Some of the comments in the Linux kernal are pretty revealing. You know, when you quote-mine for profanity:

arch/mips/pci/ops-bridge.c:      * IOC3 is fucked beyond believe …  Don’t even give the
arch/mips/pci/ops-bridge.c-      * generic PCI code a chance to look at it for real …
arch/mips/pci/ops-bridge.c-      */
arch/parisc/kernel/sys_parisc.c:/* Fucking broken ABI */
arch/parisc/kernel/sys_parisc.c-#ifdef CONFIG_64BIT
drivers/mtd/mtd_blkdevs.c:        registered, to prevent the link/init ordering from fucking
drivers/mtd/mtd_blkdevs.c-         us over. */
drivers/mtd/mtd_blkdevs.c-      if (!

lib/vsprintf.c: * Wirzenius wrote this portably, Torvalds fucked it up
lib/vsprintf.c- */

net/ipv4/netfilter/nf_nat_snmp_basic.c: * (And this is the fucking ‘basic’ method).
net/ipv4/netfilter/nf_nat_snmp_basic.c- */
net/ipv4/netfilter/nf_nat_snmp_basic.c-static int snmp_parse_mangle(unsigned char *msg,

Conclusions? Quote mining code is a waste of time unless you know what you are looking at.