A new study from UCSB finds significant increases in businesses hiring organized shills to push products online. These ‘malicious crowd-sourcing systems’ enlist dozens or hundreds of professional shills to orchestrate mass account creation, generate bogus ratings, and post canned cut-and-paste positive reviews — with each ‘task’ costing between 13 and 70 cents. ‘Unscrupulous crowd-sourcing sites, coupled with international payment systems, have enabled a burgeoning crowdturfing market that targets U.S. websites, but is fueled by a global workforce.’
Cyber Shill Business Is Booming
2011-12-16 4:57 amre_re
So I take it you are not a fan of Ayn Rand
2011-12-16 5:19 amtransputer_guy
Probably not since I am not a fan of Ron Paul or Rush Limbo and other Libertarians but I was in the past to some degree. I get some of their points, but some are just plain daft and anti science.
I do intend to borrow the library DVD when it comes out to see what the heck everyone is talking about since it seems to have a scifi theme in it.
2011-12-16 6:17 amtransputer_guy
Since you brought up a political theme I will go there.
I have this theory that seems to be borne out by evidence all around the web and on blog comments.
Greenpeace activists hate nuclear tech and agree about AGW, thinking solar panels will save the world one photon at a time. Another litmus test here. They trust science more or less but not evil businesses.
The primary AGW websites are factually accurate but also very anti nuclear even though Thorium LFTR has no real waste to speak of, it is still evil.
Conservatives like nuclear power but don’t believe in AGW, that is a litmus test. Many of these don’t trust scientists (they must all be liberals living rich off the gov) but they do trust business to do the right thing and develop the right products. Since greens like solar it must be wrong and ergo nuclear is right.
The main anti AGW is WhatsUpWithThat plus 100s of other Heartland Institute fronts with misleading data that attacks the science, and yet they all support nuclear with open arms esp Thorium LFTR, its like a no brainer.
Conundrum, who will save the world, greens or cons?
As an engineer that uses science and economic arguments I must support both nuclear and AGW so it is complicated.
There is no point in arguing about AGW with cons since they already support nuclear.
Arguing with greens over nuclear is really tough, it is all based on wishful thinking and anti nuke science, they will not look at the real numbers and rely on other antis for more misinformation.
I may have to vote solely on who is most likely to push nuclear forward.
2011-12-16 9:04 amsubsider34
Check out AmericansElect.org they’re trying to form a new nationwide party using crowd sourced values.
Edited 2011-12-16 09:05 UTC
2011-12-22 9:52 pmzima
Or tyranny of the masses…
(no, but really, it’s basically what we have, anyway; systems of governance as a whole largely also reflect their societies – from where the people in administrations would come from?)
2011-12-16 9:34 amNeolander
I’m with you on this one
I think there are enough proofs of global warming right now to stop arguing with the few remaining shills of the oil industry. If they stop getting people’s attention, they should naturally disappear.
However, I am also of the opinion that much of the discussion on nuclear power is blinded by misinformation on both side. Between people who are afraid of the natural radioactivity of potatoes and people who pretend that there’s nothing to change in the way we currently operate nuclear power plants, it’s hard to form a relatively objective opinion on the exact advantages and drawbacks of the technology.
And that’s speaking from France, which is pretty much the home country of nuclear power — a reign which has been disputed ever since the Chernobyl politics and media manipulation, but without anyone proposing a serious alternative.
Edited 2011-12-16 09:35 UTC
2011-12-17 3:39 pmtransputer_guy
France is also a nuclear weapons state.
You are right, the pluses are obvious, low cost power, avoidance of CO2, not much foreign dependance except on friendly Australia. Its base load and stable.
The minuses include the Pu239 that comes out of Uranium fission reactions, it is nasty and as the greens remind us has 20k year half life, so even 100k years still leaves it hot and deadly poisonous.
But there is a really good alternative in Thorium in the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor or LFTR (Lifter) named after the god of war Thor ironically. It was invented by the same guy that invented the current PWR reactor, Alvin Weinberg a nuclear chemist.
Pluses, 4* more Th232 than U238 and it burns almost 100% into lighter valuable elements. U238 only burns about 1-5% in the once through cycle so almost all the waste is in fact unspent U238 fuel mixed with deadly Pu239 and useless Pu240 and other waste that needs a complex future breeder reactor. That won’t likely ever happen anywhere.
The Thorium LFTR produces no Pu (okay 10000 less) in the waste so it decays to background in 300 yrs and this can be exploited for rare earths and radio medical isotopes worth their weight in gold in just 5 years.
Thorium is very simple to process into stable fluoride salts, 1 ton of metal per year produces 1GW continuous power for 1M homes with 1 ton of simple waste with very short decays.
The LFTR is intrinsically safe, if it overheats it melts a safety plug and shuts down, no backup needed. It is the ultimate passive design and it also follows load.
With the efficiency gained, Thorium allows for 100 times the total energy capacity of Uranium, enough for 10B people for 10000 years. Uranium can only power the worlds richest countries with a hidden agenda for weapons Pu.
The LFTR is also an excellent way to dispose of the current stock of unspent fuels, it eats them in the process of burning Thorium, that is how we get rid of the Pu waste.
So why do we use Uranium, simple, the US, UK, France, Israel, Russia, China, NKorea and Iran want the Pu for weapons and Thorium was killed off by Nixon because it is totally useless for weapons.
2011-12-17 3:45 pmNeolander
In the case of thorium-based reactors, wasn’t there also an issue with the production of extra neutrons, that are needed to keep the subcritical fission reaction going ? Or am I confusing with another reactor design ?
2011-12-18 9:19 amtransputer_guy
The liquid Th232 is fertile so it needs to be bred to Protactinium and then to U235 by adding a small starter source of slow thermal neutrons from a fissile material like U232, U235 or Pu239 which could come form weapons or power plant wastes. Or you could just use a neutron beam powered by protons hitting lead, an energy amplifier.
Once it starts, Th232 => Prot => U235 => fission energy + moderated slow thermal neutrons and back to more Th232 => Prot => U235 …….
The loop gains is 2 or so but is self moderated back by the fluoride salt.
There is only a tiny amount of U235 in the loop at any time, it breeds itself as it follows the load slowly but surely consuming the Th232 and replacing it with the fission products of the self procreating U235. Just 1 ton of Th232 gives 3GW/yr thermal power and 1 ton of interesting waste, (almost 1 ton, remember e=mcc).
See Kirk Sorenson for the story.
In Fukushima the reactor did shut down properly, but had no extra water from the backup deisel to cool the reactor with, hence the chain of events.
The LFTR is completely self moderating for load and if it overheats it shuts down by melting its own bath plug. As it drains it cools in a few hours since it is always in liquid fluoride salt form. No emergency devices or computers or people or power needed. To restart, heat the bath tub/pan and start the pumps up. The heat from the tiny amount of U235 in the salt is exchanged with a steam or helium or CO2 turbine.
Modern passive Uranium designs like the AP1000 will copy some of the same ideas but really most active reactors are an accident waiting to happen with probability in the 1 in 1000..s of years per site unless they are passive by design. A few active reactors is safe, but 1000s of them is begging, so the next generation must all be passive by design and I’m sure they will be. Even better if the LFTR would replace the U235 cycle as it is maybe 100* more efficient with the fuel.
2011-12-18 6:04 amNeolander
Also, another question about the LFTR reactor : even if it is subcritical, doesn’t it have the same cooling problems that plagued some of Fukushima’s reactors ?
IIRC, the problem with some reactors was that the core of the reactor remained hot while the flow of coolant was interrupted due to a power shortage, which caused the bottom of the reactor to melt and wastes to flow to someplace where they were not supposed to flow (the sea ?)
2011-12-18 9:30 amtransputer_guy
Send me an email for a longer version, its in my account.
The story of nuclear power really starts when the larger stars go supernova, as the stellar core collapses there is one enormous neutron flux that converts some of the iron, nickel into fertile U238 and Th232 in just a few seconds. The sequence that follows is similar to what happens in current reactors.
2011-12-22 11:42 pmzima
The story of almost everything starts with a supernova
2011-12-16 4:15 pmDavid Adams
You’ve identified a serious schism in the environmentalist community. The old guard still reflexively opposes nuclear power because there’s a long and glorious history of opposing nuclear power, and a lot of that is tied up in the fact that nuclear power was always a fig leaf for nuclear weapons (and still is, e.g. Iran). This mindset goes way back to before cimate change was even on the radar.
But there’s been an insurgency that’s led by a group of “realists” who realize that we’re never going to cut back on our energy use, that solar is not going to cut it anytime soon, and that when facing the lesser of two evils, they’ll pick new nuclear tech over doing nothing and rolling the dice with climate change. And one of the founders of Greenpeace is in this camp: http://www.wired.com/science/planetearth/news/2007/11/moore_qa
It’s an interesting philosophical struggle. I myself have come over, with trepidation, into the realist camp.
2011-12-22 11:38 pmzima
I have this theory that seems to be borne out by evidence all around the web and on blog comments.
Which is still an incredibly filtered view, as far as drawing such clear demarcation lines goes – not the least just because of, say, linguistic barriers; or how little you can really see …and what you expect to see (a few cognitive biases dealing with this one)
Overall, it’s not so clear, not so simple (it never is in the real world). Few points…
Greenpeace is not the end of it; heck, I have one fairly strong ~local group of environmentalists who absolutely support nuclear – they (and I, many benefits all around, also ‘immediate’ local ~societal ones) wouldn’t mind living in a backyard of one, and are among the first to lament the colossal waste of one abortive attempt http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Å»arnowiec_Nuclear_Power_Plant …but we also see the sensibility in diversifying – solar panels in the apparently implied meaning of photovoltaics (but also in general) are not the only thing BTW, and Sahara is a big chunk of essentially wasted space.
Conserves absolutely hate regulation that must come with nuclear, the larger structural model of industrial activities that they love could be quite literally disastrous here. Distrust of non-passionate science generally can reflect very bad on long-term planning.
And it’s not hard to find overall too much cult in that direction, as well (heck, I’ve stumbled on people essentially treating nuclear like self-sustaining organism, the more the better, ultimately not seeing a problem of essentially paving over the planet with industrial parks, quarries, etc. …it takes way too much effort to ‘miraculously’ make such hard cases less overboard)
Or – NVM specifics of Fukushima, what’s important is that supporters counted it among the shining examples of nuclear (not specifically of course, but among that group) – while, in recent time, it came out that there were concerns about the design, about the flaws, ignored for FOUR DECADES.
And remember how the discussion went when Fukushima was unfolding? “OK, so we have a bit of a situation, n happened, but not n+1” – a day to few later, and we had “OK, so n+2 happened, but not n+3” …repeat few times.
WTH? This is far for breeding trust.
Then comes the validity of claims about, say, thorium reactors …but the thing is, VERY similar claims were made about the present bunch of reactors.
And you’re doing yourself something at least on the level of what you accuse others of… you remember about the part of studies which suggest the cycle to be viable, not problematic, “no real waste to speak of” (might be not so straightforward… http://lpsc.in2p3.fr/gpr/english/NEWNRW/NEWNRW.html#tex2html14 )
Now, thorium might very well have its place, but it also won’t be the whole solution, we need a group of them.
People in general are a bit distanced about nuclear (thorium is essentially the same tech) after that, not “greens” (quite a few of those supporting nuclear like I mentioned; why do you have to think there’s only Greenpeace, to ‘diminish’ criticism? Criticism is something absolutely essential with something like nuclear, and the investments it requires).
Oh, and ultimately, nuclear industry mostly just wants to ride on the investments they already made.
Overall cons don’t support nuclear per se, mostly continuing burning of “dinosaurs” (really, you want to depend on people who can suddenly flip at “nuclear is bad because it must be regulated by big and scary gov”? …well, maybe, how they don’t see govs being in direct relations with big businesses is another issue).
They’re more likely to support drilling in the Arctic (conveniently, we’re on our way to getting rid of that pesky ice) and, quite soon, in the Antarctic (here it will take few thousand years of course, but the gradual uncovering of perks will also do)
Or maybe, in your place, there’s also a typical effect of what is at the core of conservatism – remembering past as better than it was (so, also, the euphoria about nuclear from half a century ago …which was crazy, when you think what people did); that could be another factor, another way to see it.
Around here, cons just want to continue burning coal (often brown coal at that…), and are very much against nuclear (that’s what the evil commies do, vide: Czernobyl they sprayed us with! Also, that’s the way EU multinational interests will get hold of us! Coal is “our gold” / and of course AGW is all lies, to make possible the encroachment of foreign nuclear industry and EU interests in general)
Most importantly, it is not either-or. Both solar (of many kinds, not only “solar panels” which entrenched itself as meaning “photovoltaics”) and nuclear have their place, among many more.
And supposedly, this will be the century of biochemistry …getting a hold of proper ~’synthetic photosynthesis’ could largely do the trick, once we’ll master it our energy problems could be largely over (but the thing is, this or nuclear won’t do much without populations recognising conspicuous consumption, and what is way into “good enough” and sane)
You forget about solutions proven to work nicely (solar water heaters adoption in Israel or Cyprus for example – and that’s in countries with quite high levels of urbanization, moderate levels of urban sprawl; or more sensible housing designs in general – something which usually goes by the name of passive house, or elements of it at least)
While the beauty with many renewable sources is that you can choose an appropriate mix (not only them in that mix of course, also nuclear for example; but that’s also) – which is greatly assisted by how many can coexist with people easily, you can essentially live under solar or wind plant
What we need to primarily do is to not focus on any one wundersolution, that’s what largely got us into this mess in the first place (in the past, sequentially: “wood / peat / coal / oil / nuclear will solve the problem of energy, promise!”). Thorium will get its chance if its worth anything, there are enough nuclear research centres exploring (because BTW it’s not really something individuals can influence, but large teams and investments).
Problem is, people (naturally…) miss larger picture, so many small things which, collectively, would make a significant contribution. Well, not really a problem, there are enough people and efforts in most directions …but don’t lament them (& don’t be overenthusiastic about your chosen darling), it’s a good thing
But it is really irrelevant in the end, IMHO we will exhaust (and largely emit to atmosphere) virtually all oil reserves.
Overall, either way, we will ‘borgify’ this planet eventually (would be really “funny” with http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medea_Hypothesis ), I think it’s pretty much inevitable …we might be able to moderate the rates somewhat, giving us better chances (but still by no means a guarantee) to adapt without much turmoil.
Maybe that’s the solution to Fermi paradox…
2011-12-16 5:03 amumccullough
They win by drowning out the discussion.
This has become pretty common on techdirt.com now – whenever an anti-SOPA or similar article pointing out the flaws of anti-piracy laws – the comments turn into a lovefest of copyright-maximalist anonymous cowards telling everyone that they’re pirates and the “free ride is over”…
Sometimes they’re the first couple comments after the article goes live, which suggests they’re corporate shills subscribed to an RSS feed with nothing better to do but post bullshit comments the minute the article hits.
It’s kind of sad, in a way…
2011-12-16 5:21 amtransputer_guy
I have been told that this is entirely automatic, no idiots required. So we may actually be doing a Turing test with each bot and losing!
2011-12-22 9:37 pmzima
You know, your words here are exactly something a bot would say to strengthen its standing as a human
2011-12-16 8:20 amlucas_maximus
Basically people scrap a webpage to get cheap web hits. I been asked to do it before.
2011-12-17 8:47 amunclefester
You should read a lot more before commenting.
Shell and BP have been funding pro-AGW research since 1969 when they jointly created the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (home of the Climategate emails).They also very generously fund a number of environmental groups such as WWF and Greenpeace.
Why would Big Oil fund Big Green? Very simple they want to close the coal industry so they can sell more natural gas and oil.
2011-12-17 4:12 pmtransputer_guy
I never realized they funded the Climate Research unit, some kudos for that.
Things get complicated, Shell BP and others are also in the Solar business of panels and plant, profit is profit. No doubt BP needs as much green cred as it can get since the Gulf oil spill.
BP just built the solar plant at Brook Haven National Labs in Long Island, basically it is a Tombstone for the nearby Shoreham nuclear plant that Greenpeace shut down in the 70s.
The BP plant claims 32MW and feeds 4500 homes. That is a lie by omission, it is equiv to a 4.5MW plant that delivers 1kW per home and no more. It also cost $298M or about $66k per fed home, that gives us $66/W which is bloody expensive. If anyone thinks I stretch the truth, check with any solar calculator for a 4.5kW roof install, the price is about $220k. Scale that 1000 and adjust for plant level quality and you get $298M.
The original Shoreham plant should have produced 540MW and was built for $75M in 1973, today that would be $350M. So the BP plant produces power at 100* the cost of the nuclear plant it sits on. Today a modern nuclear plant would be a few times the $350M, $4M/MW is fair for a mass produced modular reactor.
Funding WWF and Greenpeace serves two purposes, it cuts them some slack so they go after coal as you said, they also go after nuclear just as bad. That puts BP on the wrong side of history.
Also Climate Progress is also very anti nuclear, now I know why.
The irony is that the majority of anti AGW people support nuclear so we see the 2 armies lined up with their components.
We need to reshuffle the pack so an energy company can form that can mix fossils with nuclear and eventually slide off carbon.
A Thorium LFTR nuclear plant can also be used as a thermal power source for industry and it can make cheap synthetic fuels like DME (diesel substitute) and others to replace dwindling oil reserves while being carbon neutral.
2011-12-17 11:08 pmunclefester
I never realized they funded the Climate Research unit, some kudos for that.
BP and Shell don’t deserve any kudos whatsoever. They created (not just funded) the CRU with the sole purpose of attacking the coal industry. This was originally done to create a bigger market for their North Sea gas in the late 60s and early 70s.
BP entered the solar business purely to make money. They don’t give a shit about the environment. They sold the business because they were priced out of the market by cheaper Chinese products.
The environmental activist groups like Greenpeace and WWF are nothing more than useful idiots manipulated by Big Business to lobby politicians into subsidising expensive “clean” energy.
The atmosphere is heated by the transfer of heat from the oceans primarily via evaporation and condensation not by a totally spurious “Greenhouse Effect”. The work of Arrhenius was totally discredited by Angstrom, the leading spectroscopist of the time, by 1900. The very existence of the Greenhouse Effect was shown to be impossible by the Nobel Prize winning work of Bohr (1905).
The alleged recent industrial C02-warming is nothing more than a part of a 60 year natural cycle that ended in 1998. The warmest decade of the 20th century was the 1930s. The Earth should now begin a cooling cycle until around 2040 before warming up again.
The geological record going back 550 million years shows zero long term correlation between CO2 and climate. We have had CO2 levels 10x as high as now without high temperatures and ice ages with CO2 concentrations higher than now. It has also been warmer with lower CO2 concentrations.
2011-12-18 8:26 pmtransputer_guy
I don’t have the time or interest to spend on ClimateProgress or WattsUp or a gazillion others sites arguing over the AGW nuances.
Water vapor, methane and CO2 are most certainly heat trapping and have been keeping the climate warm in one way or another since the atmosphere evolved. Each works in different ways. The recent upswing in CO2 from 280 to 390 ppm most definitely introduces a slight tipping force. It could be offset by significant increases in tree planting or burying of vast amounts of biomass equiv to the carbon in the fuels burned, C-bury for C-burn. All the credible science says this, only the fringe science says otherwise.
I would wonder what Arrhenius, Angstrom, Bohr would say today given new information.
Why does BP benefit from the CRU science attacking coal, all fossil fuels combust to CO2, and gas is as likely bad as coal when you include methane leaks. Coal also has the mercury, uranium traces in its CO2 stream.
When you rearrange the earth plates over millions of years or tilt the earths axis in different ways Milankovich cycles, that obviously can change the relationship of CO2 to mean temp, but over very short time ranges of 100s of years CO2 changes most definitely correlates with temps when you factor out volcanoes and other fast inputs. Water, methane and CO2 both drive the cycle short term and are driven by the long term cycle.
You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know this. Every time a massive volcano blows like Krakatoa, Vesuvius, Pinatubo, it tips the climate for a decade or so breaking the correlation, but it recovers. The human forcing of CO2/methane is accumulating. Even changes in energy usage changes insolation patterns as in the switch for home coal burning to cleaner gas in the 60s. China is just repeating the 60s smog cycle.
My agenda is to support energy sources that are millions times more energy denser than solar, wind or fossils, what is yours?
2011-12-22 11:58 pmzima
energy sources that are millions times more energy denser than solar, wind or fossils
No they are not, certainly not millions; you have to factor “size” (if you talk about density per se) of whole infrastructure, also of its externalities, distribution, or how nuclear plants actually have very strict requirements for locations (and compete in that with people – the places are usually rather nice for habitation but nobody wants to live next to serious industrial installations, industrial noise)
Or… by your methodology, one can count the energy density of solar as that of a single photon.
(and generally, really, don’t go overboard with your, for some reason, the one darling wundersolution & everything else can go to hell)
BTW, IIRC the self-wonder about wasteful practices of the (it seems) anti-AGW crank (judging by his hilarious distortions even of the most elementary data) & conspiracy theorist to which you replied above, his agenda is “I like burning ~’dinosaurs'”
Need be no shadier than Amazon:
It actually generates problems for the marketing people themselves as well. Collecting direct and wide feedback on new products (both own and from competitors) is essential for any consumer oriented company.
For market research purposes the estimate is nowadays that somewhere between 50 and 75 percent of all product reviews or opinions left on the web are non-authentic.
That is not just a problem for consumers wanting to learn more about a product, but also for the companies making the products and needing actual user feedback for their product development.
Based on text analysis (repeating pattern, word distribution and use) it is somewhat possible to filter out or at least estimate the percentage of the non-authentic responses. But the influence of those non-authentic responses on the actual user opinions is so big, that in effect they become useless to gather any data.
Since a few years there is actually a return to traditional channel marketing efforts — talk to real people. Unless you’re among the biggest players in a market, sadly it’s almost impossible to end on top in this new astroturf playground.
2011-12-17 8:50 amunclefester
Clever companies don’t let you review a product on their website unless you have purchased that item from them. This almost completely stops shills and false reviews
Well, the point is that such companies are “buying positive opinions” to be posted on “other’s” mind-leading websites.
For example before going to cinema or theater, i’m always looking for votes of past spectators. Should this system be completely rigged by false reporting, i may end up looking at a piece of shit with nonetheless massive 5-star ratings.
Can’t say I have seen any of this commercial shilling in product reviews yet, but when you look for product reviews you only find the same reviews on dozens of content-less review portals relinking the same old stuff, too little content, too many review sites.
What concerns me far more is the automatic bots that the Koch brothers and the Heartland Institute use to send literally millions of anti science trolls to attack the comment sections on famous scientific websites that cover controversial subjects like AGW. This tactic was used by the Tobacco companies too, same people different venue.
As soon as a new paper is released adding more confirmation to AGW, the links are uploaded to WhatsUpWithThat and their pay masters and out they all come. Practically every one of them is totally clueless and repeats the same old nonsense that has already been debunked years ago. They win by drowning out the discussion.
You would think that Physorg for example would be frequented mostly be physicists, scientists and engineers and the like, but the number of crackpots there can be quite staggering.
Hey I can’t recall any crackpots on OSNEWs, maybe some overzealous fanbois, but crackpots, no.