It’s Important To Report Non-results

You get a hunch, form a hypothesis and gather a bunch of data to test it. Graph or otherwise interrogate the data and…your hunch isn’t right and there’s nothing remarkable about what you found. At that point you have two choices:

  • Throw what you did in the trash because there’s nothing worth saying.
  • Write it up anyway because non-results are important.

In proper scientific research, there is a inherent publication bias because of the first choice. Unremarkable results don’t get published as often because of multiple filters of humans discarding what is essentially dull. Those filters mean that what may be statistical quirks or the results of error stand a greater chance of being published than they otherwise should.

Of course there is another reason for reporting non-results: when you spent part of your day gathering data on a hunch about a publisher’s output only to find your hunch was wrong and now you have nothing to write about.


My hunch was that everybody’s least favourite Finnish publishing house had reduced their output of books. I collated data from Amazon and graphed it using a running total and…no, it’s pretty much the same rate of rubbish being published. Indeed, a bit more as I only counted books rather than their dire comics.


So, sorry but both research ethics and not otherwise having blogpost content means I have to.

The Right Don’t Need To Win To Stop Climate Policy

I perhaps didn’t emphasise this enough in recent posts on Australian politics. Yes, it is complex and factional and there is a lot going on around opinion polls and personalities and feuds. You particularly can’t ignore race and racism in this mess when, as Megpie commented on my last post “instead of the current Minister for Locking Children Up In Camps, we get the Former Minister for Locking Children Up In Camps”

BUT I’m going to focus on a single issue for a moment because it is a big one. Australia is a big country with a relatively small and urban population. The majority of its elected representatives believe that climate change is real and caused by human activity and that the government should take action on climate change. Successive Prime Ministers have promised to take actions on climate change. The non-urban population of Australia is also highly vulnerable to climate change and many Australian farming communities are currently suffering from an extended drought.

BUT Australia is a country with a lot of mineral wealth and a lot of that wealth is concentrated in the hands of a small number of wealthy people. If a government tries to take action on climate change then the political right will move heaven and earth to stop it. There are lots of factors in Malcolm Turnbull’s downfall but it is notable that this specific toppling occurred directly around his attempt to pass a new energy policy – a very insipid policy watered down to extremes to get it past the right of his party but nonetheless, an energy policy.

Rudd, Gillard, Turnbull have each been successively punished by the right faction of the Australian Liberal Party, some select media outlets (two Murdoch controlled) and money from the mining industry. The conservatives in the Liberal Party just demonstrated that they’d happily trash THEIR OWN PARTY to use a kind of mutually-assured destruction tactic to hamper any moves on climate change. And that’s all they need to do – they don’t need to actually govern because ideologically they only need to wreck to achieve results for the vested fossil fuel interest.

Update on Canberra

As was likely Peter Not Actually A Sontaran Dutton was not appointed Prime Minister of Australia by the Liberal Not Actually Liberal Party. Instead the picked Scott Morrison, who is basically like Dutton in lots of ways but marginally less horrible.

So there you go.

How To Edit This Year’s Hugo Novel Finalists Into One Giant Voltron Like Book

Obviously, the best way of approaching the six Hugo finalists is as seperate books with their own distinct plots and characters. However, imagine the book world was under attack by some giant monster and all the books had to team up to fight it, how would that work exactly?

A reader who has considered the matter carefully might say “What are you talking about? Did the fumes from cleaning the cat’s catnip vomit go to your head?” The answer to those rhetorical questions are “see above” and “yes” and “why does the room keep wobbling like that?”

Where to start?

Luckily both New York 2142 and Six Wakes have connections to New York in the nearish future. The Collapsing Empire, Provenance and Raven Stratagem all have space empires in different phases of development. The Stone Sky has to team up with the whole of the Broken Earth series first but its post-apocalyptic back story puts the story way into the future.

So for a sequential order of a giant history of humanity try this order:

1. New York 2142 – in the near future humanity struggles with the impact of climate change

2. Six Wakes – shortly after which humanity develops a unique ‘cloning technology’ and begins space exploration

3. The Collapsing Empire – humanity has continued to colonise space but it’s method of interstellar travel has restricted its capacity to grow

4. Provenance – (somehow) humanity has found a way past the technological limits of space travel and now is spread all over. A remnant of a galactic empire exists that makes use of the ‘cloning technology’ (see 2.) but that’s not important for this book.

5. Raven Stratagem – technology has advanced even further to a peak of reality bending. Unfortunately toxic empires have grown even stronger.

6. The Stone Sky – we return to Earth were hubris and human experimentation have left the planet as a tectonic mess