A cut too far.

Discussion in 'Astronomy, Exobiology, & Cosmology' started by Trippy, Jul 6, 2011.

  1. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member


    And I will do so as soon as YOU post a LINK to the post where I made such a claim.

    Otherwise an apology would seem appropriate.


    Note: I did post a link to back up the specific assertions I made although that wasn't really necessary since they were in fact linked to by the original story which was linked to in the OP.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2011
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  3. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    I have a limited tolerance for addressing fallacies.
    Argumentum ad hominem - Accusations of wishful thinking (fantasy argument) can be regarded as a form of argumentum ad hominem.
    Classifying it as a Strawman hypothesis is a statement of fact, while it is valid to discuss the opportunity costs of the project, the fact that it has not been raised in this thread in a meaningful way by supporters of the JWST in no way shape or form implies that it has not been considered.
    The simple fact of the matter is that without my (or anyone else for that matter) having discussed you have no evidence, one way or the other, by which to judge our grasp of the concept of opportunity costs, and how it applies to the JWST (the implication of which is that your making an assertion as fact without knowing whether or not it is a fact). The most that you can validly infer from the posts made in this thread is that we consider the opportunity cost of going ahead with the JWST to be greater than the opportunity cost of not going ahead with it.

    Strawman hypothesis - there are only two people talking about reforming medicare to make room for this budget. You're one of them, I'm not the other one, in fact, I believe I have explicitly states in this thread that (for example) if Congress were to decline the USDOD the additional 37 billion that has been requested specifically for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, I would rather see the money go to NASA (for the JWST) NIST, NOAA, and the NSF (which have all also seen their budgets cut), and the remainder dumped into social services, healthcare, and education (for that matter, the same principle can be applied to the extra 15 Billion on top of the presidents budget that congress seems to think that the USDOD needs).

    Indeed, the only thing I have advocated here is that Congress should have signed off on the presidents budget, rather than inserting their own... Agenda into it.

    Argumentum ad hominem, strawman hypothesis.

    Pure baloney.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2011
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  5. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    occidental and aduocette:

    I need to resolve the issue that has been raised.

    occidental: Please provide links to the posts in which you claim adoucette made unsupported claims, and clearly indicate which claim(s) you are referring to.

    adoucette will then get a chance to repost his links to supporting evidence for those claims.

    After that, we will see where we're at.
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  7. occidental Registered Senior Member

    Arthur made this statement in post #2:

    Trippy outlined the basic parameters the figure was based on in post #3:
    And Arthur responded in post #4:
    So what I would like to know is

    From post #2, where is the link supporting the 1.5 billion dollar total fuel bill in Afghanistan last year.

    From post #4, where is the link to the "actual figures" that Arthur claims exist for what it costs to provide air conditioning to Iraq and Afghanistan. I think its reasonable to assume the "actual figures" would include the "actual" amount of fuel used for air conditioning, or in the very least the "actual" total amount of fuel used annually in both countries. I also believe it is reasonable to assume the "actual figures" would have some estimation of the logistical costs, roughly outlined by Trippy to include "the costs involved of shipping the fuel to power the equipment, the cost of getting the equipment there, the cost of setting up the infrastructure, and so on and so forth."

    It seems like a simple request to me. Arthur is claiming to be debunking an urban legend. Maybe he is, but all he has linked to so far is the original NPR article, and it doesnt support his claims.
  8. Telemachus Rex Protesting Mod Stupidity Registered Senior Member

    Trippy, you are incapable of addressing them. You are the perfect example of a poster with a limited understanding of (and tendency to abuse the concept of) logical fallacies. I have neither the time nor inclination to teach either logic or rhetoric, but you need to brush up. All you manage to do is dodge arguments by pretending that they are fallacious without engaging the argument itself. Simply calling an argument fallacious doesn't make it so.

    Worse, you suffer from your own complaint. It is itself a logical fallacy to assume that you have made any case at all for the JWST, simply because you'd decided to dismiss the counter arguments without addressing them. Physician, heal thyself.

    The bottom line is this: We are out of free cash in the U.S. Some assert that we have the cash elsewhere, in other programs, and that all we need to do is go and cancel those, instead, but:

    (1) No one has demonstrated that there is enough money in these other programs to both balance the budget and provide the funds needed for the JWST.

    (2) No one with the power to do so is actually going to cancel a sufficient number of other programs for this purpose, so saying that we might get money there is simply to engage in a counterfactual speculation. That means [B]we really don't[/B] have the cash to fund the JWST.

    (3) No one has put forward a compelling case for why the JWST is worth its multi-billion cost in the first place.

    We all like images from telescopes and we all like basic science, that is why we are on a science forum. We also all face real budgetary constraints, even at a national level, and no here has addressed that in a meaningful way.
  9. juliet2011 Registered Member

    this is the question that challenged government most
  10. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    I don't need your help, thanks.

    Which would be great if I were simply dismissing them as fallicous, I'm not. I'm labeling them as fallacies, explaining why they are fallacies (albeit breifly at times) and not engaging them further.

    If you think your arguments are otherwise, demonstrate it. But the simple fact of the matter is that I do not feel compelled to address (for example) straw man arguments. What is the point of addressing an argument that is not based on the argument I am making?

    You miss a point in here somewhere. It's ironic to me, because I'm fairly sure that you'll never figure it out, and it's kind of a core premise to your assertions.

    But you could sure do with taking some of your own advice.

    As an unrelated aside, your (and Pandmoni's) arguments are predicated on the assumption that your assertions regarding the opportunity costs of the JWST going ahead outweighing the opportunity costs of canceling it are tautological, and therefore anybody who disagrees with you doesn't understand the issue. This is just plain wrong.

    The Presidential budget found money for both.

    Again, the presidential budget found the money for both, it was republican led senate oversight committees that decided that science needed less money, and the military needed more.
  11. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    Please link me to your support for the following claim:

    i.e. please show "the actual figures" from the DOD.
  12. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    I already did.

    Several times.

    The original NPR article where this story originated, is linked to in the repeat of the story the OP links to, has the statement by the Pentagon that they dispute the figures and then they provide the ACTUAL FIGURES for the total of the fuel bill for ALL military operations for the entire year:


    Indeed the NPR article itself, which was used as the source of the claim, points out that the costs that Anderson includes are PART OF THE OVERALL WAR EFFORT which is enough all by itself to disprove the original assertion.

    (emphasis mine)

    Even without the NPR disclaimer though we can quickly use the actual figures provided to see that the $20 billion figure is wrong and that Anderson, a person trying to sell insulated tents to the Pentagon, has wrapped lots of the overall war effort costs into his figures.

    We know from other linked sources that only 11% of the annual military fuel bill is for generating electricity and so we can see that $1.65 Billion was the total possible fuel cost for generating electricity for worldwide military operations.

    That's a small fraction of the $20 Billion claimed and considering the many remote military bases in places like Guam that use fuel for all their electrical needs and all the onboard ship generators that use fuel for electricity generation and the fact that the military uses electricity for not just AC but for heating, lighting, cooking, computers, surveillance, communication etc, we can see that the total cost of fuel just for AC for tents for these two theaters simply can't be that much.

    And the article did provide other Actual Figures that help us narrow in on the issue:

    The annual fuel figure for Afghanistan is ~$2.25 Billion (I said $1.5 Billion but the report actually only gave an 8 month total, (my bad, but the difference doesn't invalidate my conclusion)), which at the average 11% usage for electrical generation would be ~$250 million for fuel for electricity generation for ALL uses.

    So from there we have to make some assumptions:

    To disprove it though, we will use very optimistic assumptions.

    If one assumes that twice as much as average, or 22% of the Afghanistan fuel cost is used for electricity generation and that 2/3s of that electricity was used for AC of tents, that would still only be ~$320 million a year.

    Note though that the 2/3rds use of electricity for AC is an overly generous assumption because Afghanistan is not hot the entire year, indeed, no fuel/electricity would be used for AC for at least 4 months of the year and and almost none at all in some places. Also electricity would be needed for other normal uses all year round and considering how cold it gets in much of Afghanistan, probably about as much fuel would be used for heating as for AC (looking at pictures of the various tent cities it appears the military uses reversible heat pumps for both heating and cooling).

    Note the short hot season where AC is needed in Kabul (~4 months where average temp is > 20 C and AC would be needed but over 5 months where the average is less than 10 C and heating would be needed, thus it's reasonable to assume that in places like Kabul the heating bill equals or exceeds the AC bill, which is one of the reasons the assumption of 2/3rds of the fuel being used for AC is way too high).

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    Kandahar might have 5 months where AC is used.

    Jalalabad might have 6 months where AC is used.
    etc, etc

    Even so we will go with both of these overly generous assumptions on 22% of fuel use for electricity and 2/3rds of that being just for AC.

    But it's not just fuel costs, and we also know that the US military pays as much as ~7X the normal cost to get fuel to far off areas.

    But not ALL Afghanistan fuel would cost 7X, probably less then half of it, but even if we assume that all of the fuel cost 7X, then that's ~$2.5 Billion for fuel at 7X the normal fuel cost to deliver AC to tents.

    Since the troop levels are approximately the same in Iraq and Afghanistan, and even if we make the same overly generous assumptions about Iraq fuel usage for AC for tents, the total bill comes to about ~$5 Billion or ~1/4 of the $20 Billion alluded to as the annual cost for AC for Tents.

    So, like I said in that first post, even when using overly generous assumptions, the Pentagon's Actual figures "quickly showed he was wrong".

    Last edited: Jul 28, 2011
  13. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Ok. Looks reasonable. Thankyou.
  14. Telemachus Rex Protesting Mod Stupidity Registered Senior Member

    The unbalanced presidential budget found money for it...a budget which yet again spent more money than the government would be able to collect in taxes. Which is like saying that a plasma TV is a good buy for an unemployed guy, as long as he puts it on his credit card.

    Even the President and the Democrats, in recent weeks acknowledge the need for budgetary reform so that we can balance the budget in a realistic way. The problem is that thus far there is no path in sight to budget that would accomplish this *and* be politically viable.

    The least we can do, given the political impasse, is seriously consider cutting/delaying those programs that (A) represent a net economic loss to the country (whatever the inspirational/non-economic value) and (B) which could, consistent with the current political climate, realistically be cut by lawmakers.

    The JWST is already about 400% over its original budgetary estimate, and needs another $1.6 billion. It is not inconceivable that this "last" $1.6 billion is another underestimate of what it will cost to finish it. NASA, after all, has all the economic efficiency one imagines when one thinks about a government bureaucracy.

    It seems that you simply don't care about the economics the nation faces or the economics of this particular project, so long as you get your space science, and I can't force you to understand economics. I can lead the horse to water, but I cannot make him think.
  15. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    Yes, thanks to American Companies, like Lockheed-Martin, and Perkin-Elmer that agree to do work for them, for a fixed price, within a fixed timeframe, then decide they need more time and more money.

    This is unsubstaniated opinion presented as a fact.
    What I care about, among other things, is that Congress has seen fit to give the USDOD an extra 37 Billion that they didn't budget for, just for their operations in Afghanistan and Iraq (on top of the extra 15 Billion that the president didn't think they needed, but congress decided they did) , that this money comes at the same time as the strip money from the sciences (NASA, NOAA, NIST and NSF are all suffering budget cuts) in the name of 'savings' and 'paying off debts' and that this money would be better off distributed among the science and social services, and paying off debt.

    And if you're going to keep making assinine assumptions, and presenting ad hominem arguments, we're done.
  16. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    It turns out I may have been right to use the past tense after all.
    The wave-front sensing technology developed for the JWST has already been implimented in optical surgery.
  17. billvon Valued Senior Member

    I agree. However, I think we should try to finish it when we have the money to do so, not when we are 14 trillion dollars in debt.
  18. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    Unfortunately, that's not what's being talked about, it's not the language being used by the senate oversight committee.. They're not talking about postponment, or deferral, or mothballing, they're talking about cancellation.

    Besides which, my recollection, for want of a better word, is that postponing a project inflates its cost.
  19. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    Not actually in the surgery.
    And the measurement is a tiny improvement at best.

    Since LASIK surgery has been around for far longer than development of the JWST mirrors and they are already getting better than 20/20 improvement with existing technology, for well over a decade.

    Again, this is not a DIRECT benefit, and this benefit from the technology used to test the mirrors is already accrued, so the billions more needed to launch it is now about these DIRECT benefits of which none have been even suggested.

  20. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    But NASA would store the project, as they do others.
    And like others, it will eventually get launched when conditions/needs improve.

    DSCOVR was terminated in 2005, but stored (at a relatively cheap ~$1 million per year) and may now be launched as a replacement for the aging Advanced Composition Explorer, which was launched in 1997, and is the only spacecraft currently providing short-term warnings of geomagnetic storms.

  21. Chopsocky Registered Member

    Apologies if this has already been covered, but I think the biggest loss from the end of the shuttle program is the human element. So many people from NASA who have a collective experience base of hundreds, possibly thousands of years, being released to possibly never work in the space industry again. When the US finally gets its house in order it may take another decade to get a proper workforce together for any future launch. To me this means that the space program really is in the hands of the private sector, or at least the low-Earth orbit section of space.

    Working with the private sector could end up costing the US Government more, as it's unlikely that the private sector will work without the chance of profit.

    Russia are already putting pressure on the US over ISS, saying they may ditch the space station in 2020. It's likely this statement is designed more to try and force the US into accelerating a heavy-lift program rather than relying on buying seat space on the Soyuz.

    It's an unfortunate set of circumstances, but on the balance of things the US does need to get its own financial house in order before committing to multi-billion dollar programs.
  22. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

  23. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    For those interested in why maybe you shouldn't vote for the JWST:

    The telescope that ate astronomy

    Note: Less than a year after this article was written the price tag had swelled by another $1.5 Billion dollars and the launch date had slipped 4 years.


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