Yes, Bush really does hate science

By Phil Plait | December 12, 2007 3:30 pm

I’ve been pointing out for months now that President Bush and his Administration have been waging a planned, protracted, and devious attack on science in almost every field across the board. I’ve been taken to task by some commenters on this, saying I am being unfair (implying I simply hate Bush and will disagree with everything he does — never mind that the more likely scenario for most folks is the other way around).

For those of you who think I am being unfair, U.S. Representative Henry Waxman would like a word with you.

Waxman is the chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. They have been studying Bush and his stance on global warming, and have just released their findings. Surprise! Bush is waging a planned, protracted, and devious attack on science. Check it (emphasis mine):

For the past 16 months, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has been investigating allegations of political interference with government climate change science under the Bush Administration. During the course of this investigation, the Committee obtained over 27,000 pages of documents from the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Commerce Department, held two investigative hearings, and deposed or interviewed key officials. Much of the information made available to the Committee has never been publicly disclosed.

This report presents the findings of the Committee’s investigation. The evidence before the Committee leads to one inescapable conclusion: the Bush Administration has engaged in a systematic effort to manipulate climate change science and mislead policymakers and the public about the dangers of global warming.

Yeah, shocker. And if only this were the only front on which Bush and crew were engaging in criminal stupidity. There is also health, sex education, religious freedom, the CDC, the FDA, the EPA, the Fish and Wildlife Administration, and and and.

Oh yeah, and NASA, too.

I wonder if anyone (besides Keith Olbermann) in the mainstream media will pick up on this?

Read Waxman’s report. It’s not terribly long, but it’s certainly damning.

Hat tip to C&L.

Comments (70)

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  1. The Anchoress — A First Things Blog | July 22, 2009
  1. Christian X Burnham

    Yes, this is part of the reason why we need a science debate to make sure we don’t vote in another president who likes to play fast and loose with scientific advice.

    I only watch Olbermann, but I assume it’s common knowledge that Bush has been lying about Iran for the past few months.

  2. flak

    I hate to say it, but most people will probably only notice that there’s a ‘D’ in front of Waxman’s name and that Democrats are in charge of the investigation so they’ll discount the findings as partisan. Which they most likely are not given the overwhelming evidence against the Bush administration on this issue.

  3. Just Al

    Cue the Republican denialists who will invent elaborate reasons why this cannot possibly be so, in order to avoid the inescapable conclusion that they made a really bad decision. There is no more powerful force on this planet than being too insecure to admit you screwed up.

    But yeah, I agree with flak. You’ll see plenty of whining that it’s

  4. Zoot

    That’s it. I came here for astronomy, and all you do is post political propaganda. I’m leav…aahhh just kidding. Gotcha didn’t I?

  5. Just Al

    Dammit, hit a stray key and posted without being done…

    But yeah, I agree with flak. You’ll see plenty of whining that it’s a “Liberal Conspiracy,” because, you know, the evidence all points to Conservative monkey business. Didn’t we play that game in first grade? “I know you are but what am I?” Something like that.

  6. Ad Hominid

    As I have said several times, recent creationist uprisings, especially here in Texas, are strongly linked to GW denialism. Sometimes this link is made directly. I have heard more than one fundy say something like, “These are the guys who think we’re descended from monkeys. Why should I believe them about global warming?”

    The fallacy of assumption the consequent is familiar to all students of conspiracism and of weird ideas in general. Once you accept one nutty improbability, others flow from it by a natural process of proliferation.

  7. Ad Hominid

    Oops, “assuming the consequent.”

  8. Ad Hominid

    This is all very odd in some ways. I am old enough to remember the Sputnik hysteria of 1957-58, when the Soviets’ first satellite launch led many Americans to believe we had fallen behind in science and technology and needed a crash program to catch up.
    From the perspective of 50 years later, this was not really the case but it did lead to a huge public investment in science education.

    Having lived through that, and benefited from it personally, I have always tended to see scientific research as something that nationalists and patriots would tend to support for the sake of our national prestige as well as for the material, intellectual, and strategic advantages it can bring.

    Bush is actually a little older than I am but his memory may not be as good.

    A Chinese Moon landing, the “Sputnik from Hell,” might be just what we need. There would be wailing and gnashing of teeth in Washington, Congressional hearings, and lots and lots of finger-pointing. Some of it could even find the right targets.

  9. KaiYeves

    Hurray, my browser will open this blog once more!

  10. Ken

    Democrats wouldn’t shape public opinion and policy according to their political outlook. They wouldn’t interfere in the results of solid unbiased science/research.

  11. Mike R.
  12. Michael

    What a shock! Henry Waxman finds against Bush. I can hardly believe it….

  13. jrkeller

    Ken,

    I hope you are being sarcastic.

  14. ThePug

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v234/Churchill2004/TEXASHUCKABEE.jpg?t=1197512129

    Just as proof that Texas and “conservatism” didn’t always equate with authoritarian theocracy.

    Though the government shouldn’t be taxing people to pay for “science”, as long as they do it’d be decent to have actual science instead of psuedo-science.

  15. Ken

    jrkeller: Of course I am.

    I recently received a report from the Alpha Centauri research institute which suggested that the Sun (aka Sol) hates Earth. According to this report, Sol is the only star that generates radiation in Earth’s direction. I intend on blogging about it, most likely under a subject title of “Yes, Sol really does hate Earth”.

    Universal constants are for suckers. Lets all pick our side of the same coin and hold a popularity contest.

  16. Bush Ws Right

    Scientists can now obtain stem cells from skin cells and last week it was announced it may lead to a cure for sickle cell. BUSH WAS RIGHT and YOU ARE WRONG!!!

  17. Jamie

    I’m no fan of President Bush myself, to say the least, but I still think you’re being unfair. He opposes climate change science because he’s ignorant and fundamentally unwilling to do work when he thinks he can get out of doing it. His views on sex education and the role of religion are, sad to say, consonant with a good chunk of Americans. On the other hand, the importance of NASA is highly debatable, and even many deeply scientific individuals (like me) aren’t convinced that NASA’s money is well-spent. Yes, we personally find their discoveries fascinating — but many people do not. And in the words of Richard Dawkins: “Justifying space exploration because we get non-stick frying pans is like justifying music because it is good exercise for the violinist’s right arm.”

    A few particular cases don’t prove a general rule. You haven’t shown that Bush is opposed to science as a whole.

  18. Bush Ws Right: nice troll, but in fact Bush’s policy actually delayed the research that was done which led to this breakthrough. And it’s a lot more complicated then making stem cell from skin cells. If you’re not a troll, you should at least do the bare minimum of research before showing exactly why I fight antiscience like your claims.

  19. Jon D.

    I came to this website (after a year-long absence from it) looking for some good, bad-astronomy. I am sorry to see these political and bigoted, Bush-hating, Christian-bashing rants. I am a college professor of astronomy and physics, and up until this hour, I have in the past suggested this website to my students.

    Unless some of these posts (Bush is attacking science; Christians are stupid; etc.) are supposed to be examples of “bad astronomy”, I can no longer suggest this website to help my students grow in their education.

    I’ll check back in a few months to see if the tone has changed.

  20. Yes, this is part of the reason why we need a science debate to make sure we don’t vote in another president who likes to play fast and loose with scientific advice.

    Yeah, cos there’s no possibility that presidential candidates would, you know, just tell the scientific community what they wanted to hear during a science debate, but then forget about everything they’d said once they were safely in the White House, is there?

    Unless some of these posts (Bush is attacking science; Christians are stupid; etc.) are supposed to be examples of “bad astronomy”, I can no longer suggest this website to help my students grow in their education.

    I’ll check back in a few months to see if the tone has changed.

    Oh no, Phil – you’ve been busted! Quick, turn off the puppy grinder before the cops arrive!

  21. revmonkeyboy

    Jon D.

    The only reason many of us bash Bush and Christian fundies, is their attacks on science, education and freedom. If they did not do these things the science minded would let them be, plain and simple. A simple example is Bush’s “teach the controversy” remark. There is no Controversy. There is only evidence and the attacks of those who refuse to understand or use the evidence. This lack of understanding should make anyone who has studied the evidence cringe with fear. There is a definite conspiracy to destroy science, by the same people who’s lives are saved by medical procedures that would be worthless without evolution. These are not attacks for the love of abusing a political party or religion, this is self defense. I am happy to attack all responsible, including the science professions. The attacks on science should be ridiculous to everyone with a grade school education. The professionals need to get off their high horses and get into the trenches, they need to teach. They need to give interviews, they need to explain the evidence and the process that acquires it.

    My anger about the situation is metered out to anyone with fault, reguardless of religious or political leanings. I cannot speak for all here, but I think I am not alone on this view.

    If you wish to steer your students in the right direction and give them a love of astronomy, send them here. If you wish to protect your own world view or discourage free thought then don’t send them here. Phil does a great job of encouraging questions, and thought. You should too if you wish to train students. END OF STORY.

  22. Randy A.

    I would like to suggest to all of you that you write (or call or e-mail) to Waxman and his committee, and thank them for their work. Yes, they’re just doing their job, but don’t you like to hear that you’re doing a good job?

    Then write (or call or e-mail) your representative, and ask why he or she hasn’t voted to impeach Bush. “A systematic effort to manipulate climate change science and mislead policymakers and the public about dangers” would seem to qualify as a “high crime or misdemeanor”. Especially since lying about a BJ also qualifies…

    Also, IMHO, “Bad Astronomy” certainly does include discussions of politicians and religious leaders who suppress good science and advocate for fables and myths in place of science.

  23. Christian X Burnham

    Jon D. I am a fantastically wealthy Count of an otherwise poor country who wants to support good Christians like yourself who are definitely not trolls and greatly improve discussion on the internet. Fortunately, I have recently inherited 8 billion dollars and can now realize my dream of helping people who want to see an astronomy site they can show their students that doesn’t bash Christians or our brave Commander in Chief. Please send me your bank account number and SSN so that I can wire you the money henceforth.

    Yours, etc. etc.

  24. Mark

    I’m not a Bush fan nor a creationist. Hell, I’m not even an American.

    But. Guess what. Next year is 2008 and I hear there’s an election happening in the States. And George W can’t run again. So the field is wide open in both parties for the job. From observation in past elections, I’d bring a kilo of salt to any political document produced at this time.

    Climate is a straw man to big issues like certain countries refusing to sell oil in US currency. Or the whole collapse of empire thing of which creationism, fundamentalism, adventurism, narrow mindedness, etc are symptomatic of. (Bush is/was such the “right” man for the times. And, as the times often make the man, I sadly expect the next President to be just as right as Bush.)

    Anyhow, I think the real questions are more along the lines of:
    1) Is American culture moving away from a general understanding of science? 2) If it is, why?

  25. Ken

    Revmonkeyboy, if all right-wingers are driven from the site because of broad-brush political attacks from BA, how is that going to aid the fight against ignorance? If scientists are seen to be the tools of 1 side of the political spectrum..well I don’t even have to speculate. Just look at global warming debate. I try to read information from all over and even I have no damned idea what the “truth” might be. I can’t imagine how my parents generation who are reliant on newspapers, radio and TV are going to making an informed decision.
    Alienating almost half the population is a bad idea. Alienating more than the majority is not the way to change policy. (Right wingers + religious types)

    I can understand why BA doesn’t want ID in schools, but maybe he should create a separate blog for that? A generalised critical-thinkers blog would be a better place. That way those wishing to enjoy the entries directly relating to science here don’t have to battle against the negative emotions invoked by the other stuff.

  26. Stripe

    I read that they used genes that are know to induce cancer in cells to create these stem cells. So get a cure of Parkinson’s but pick up cancer instead?

  27. My understand is that Max Mayfield is disputing some of the committee’s findings.

  28. Laguna2

    Stripe thats fundamental research. They are years if not decades from using it as a treatment for any disease.

  29. I’m a foreigner here, too, so I don’t really know, but I would expect something called a ‘House Committee’ to be bipartisan, and for its reports to be signed off by all the members. Failing that, there would be a dissenting minority report.

    In Britain, something like this released by a Parliamentary Committee would be political dynamite at any time, election or not.

    The difference between our systems leads me to think that the best way to rubbish it, if that’s what you wanted, would be to attack Congress, either by claiming it’s exceeding its powers (the Bolton approach) or via a tame Senator.

  30. Nigel Depledge

    The BA even made a link from the Blog front page, and some people still won’t read it…

    To anyone who would like to complain about the BA making blog entries about politics or other non-astronomy topics, read this:
    http://www.badastronomy.com/bablog/2007/07/15/politics-science-me-and-thee/

  31. Given that the current debates aren’t even real debates anymore (and haven’t been for a long time), any science “debate” would just be a load of pap intended to mollify a statistically negligible minority (scientists) and not really serve any purpose whatsoever. Like anything else the responses would go “[mildly on subject response] [transition to wedge issue] [statement of superiority over other candidates] [vote for me] [half-assed closing].”

    Of course, a properly scientific candidate wouldn’t have much of a platform to begin with. “I don’t know exactly what we should do as I have insufficient information with which to make a pledge at this time, but I will make every effort to determine a reasonable and effective course of action and then put it into practice.”

  32. Max Mayfield – “The former director of the National Hurricane Center says political pressure did not cause him to change his congressional testimony to downplay the link between global warming and hurricanes — contradicting the findings of a Democratic led investigation released Monday. “I can truthfully say that no one told me at any time what to say in regard to possible impacts of climate change on tropical cyclones,” said Max Mayfield in an e-mail to ABC News.

    But people are always welcome to believe only the reports that agree with their views if that’s what they want.

    And I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone that hated science. People who wanted to control it maybe, but not anyone that hated it.

  33. DrFlimmer

    America is doomed, isn’t it?

    But you are not alone: England is doomed, too, well nearly doomed!

    http://space.newscientist.com/article/dn13045-uk-pulls-out-of-key-physics-and-astronomy-projects.html

  34. Daffy

    Conservatives are an interesting lot: this site has often criticized Democrats for foolishness…yet the only thing conservatives notice is when Republicans are criticized.

    Conservative rule of thumb: if you criticize any Republican for anything, you are part of the Great Liberal Media Conspiracy. Such devotion to a political party is nothing short of frightening.

  35. Tit for Tat

    Nigel Depledge “To anyone who would like to complain about the BA making blog entries about politics or other non-astronomy topics…”

    The BA “I’m telling the drama queens that when they leave, they can simply do so without The Grand Speech”

    wouldn’t you think it inevitible that after delivering your own partisan diatribe, the partisan reader would feel the need to respond in kind?

    personally, I’d rather have you spared the words to discuss the substance of the report and it’s ramifications for climate science.

  36. David D.G.

    # Jon D.on 12 Dec 2007 at 9:15 pm
    I came to this website (after a year-long absence from it) looking for some good, bad-astronomy. I am sorry to see these political and bigoted, Bush-hating, Christian-bashing rants. I am a college professor of astronomy and physics, and up until this hour, I have in the past suggested this website to my students.

    Unless some of these posts (Bush is attacking science; Christians are stupid; etc.) are supposed to be examples of “bad astronomy”, I can no longer suggest this website to help my students grow in their education.

    I’ll check back in a few months to see if the tone has changed.

    Jon D.:

    1. The vast majority of this site, including this blog, is still devoted to astronomy. I cannot fathom why you can’t tolerate the blog deviating from that exclusive focus, especially when it still deals with this country’s treatment of science (including, need I say, astronomy). There is still a mountain of astronomical material here to keep your students busy and well informed, and more is being added all the time. So what if a few posts also acknowledge a severe political problem? It is a problem for science in this country, so it *is* relevant! But even so, if you wish to avoid the political posts, feel free. You are under no obligation to read them. But I hope your students are less inclined to censor themselves from useful information about the scientific world, which, sadly, includes politics, whether we like that about it or not. Burying your head in the sand hardly seems like a good response for a science teacher to have.

    2. President Bush absolutely deserves legitimate criticism (i.e., what you call “bashing”) on the subject of his administration’s treatment of science (and on many other subjects as well, but we’ll stay on topic here), as Phil documents every single time he brings this up. And he isn’t partisan about it — as others have noted, he also often criticizes Democrats who are antiscience (or who just plain irresponsible about science issues). The site is called “Bad Astronomy,” but from the beginning Phil has used it to criticize those who abuse science and foment misinformation in all sorts of disciplines. There is no reason why the President of the United States, or other politicians, should be immune to such criticism, especially when the stakes are this high and the potential (and real) harm so great.

    3. Phil also documents evidence to support his reasons for criticism when he criticizes right-wing Republicans as a group for such stances, or, in the same vein, Christian fundamentalists; when they stop being antiscience, I’m sure Phil will stop making a fuss about them on this particular blog. The complaint about “Christian-bashing rants” is especially unfair and inaccurate. From what I have seen, Phil does NOT lambast “Christians” as such, nor the faith itself, but just those fundamentalists and other religious extremists who are antiscience advocates (e.g., creationists). These “godly” people are fools and/or liars of the worst sort, deliberately misrepresenting reality just to protect their personal delusions (and/or their personal power over followers). You of all people, as “a college professor of astronomy and physics,” should be as alarmed as we are at their invidious practices and should welcome Phil’s support of your profession — the way things are going in this country, you could use it.

    4. Please make sure that your criticisms (e.g., the claim of a post to the effect that “Christians are stupid”) deal with Phil’s posts and not with those of his commenters. He may raise the topics, but others here often make remarks much stronger or more loosely phrased than his. If you have a problem with what another commenter says, please don’t take its presence as an endorsement from Phil just because the comment isn’t removed. It is still attributed for a reason.

    5. Finally, Jon D., when you return in a few months, I hope it is *your* tone that has changed.

    ~David D.G.

  37. Sloan

    Henry Waxman? A committee report from a Democrat-controlled Congress that’s highly critical of a sitting Republican president? And it comes out just as we’re heading into the election cycle?

    Forgive me if I’m just a little skeptical. I’ll read the report, but these days sometimes you can’t even believe what Congress tells you.

  38. Sergeant Zim

    David, that was awesome. You said what I’ve wanted to say ‘lo these many months, every time somebody complains about BA not ‘sticking to astronomy’.
    You forgot to mention, though, that from time to time Dr. BA appears to step in it himself (the recent post about the hummer that gets 100 MPG -which may or may not be true, but it was posted without attribution) and when he does, there are plenty on this board who are not at all reluctant to call him on it (almost eager, in fact LOL).

    The bottom line is that this blog is one of the best resources I’ve found to learn about the current issues in science (even when they are political issues) and to discuss them with (mostly) like-minded people who are usually more interested in learning than in pushing a party line. It’s even more cool that we can have disagreements without getting into the usual flame wars that are so pervasive on other forums, and I don’t know about you, but there’s a couple of dozen regulars on this board that I would love to sit down and have a friendly beer with.

    I’ll admit, my own posts tend to run more to the sarcastic side, but as Mrs. Sarge says, that’s 1/2 of my charm.

  39. Daffy

    Sloan, it’s easy to tell someone’s bias when they refuse to refer to the Democratic Party, and instead call it the “Democrat” Party. One of (IIRC) Newt’s little bits of misdirection.

    Should we refer to the Republican controlled Congress of the previous 12 years as the “Republic controlled” Congress?

  40. Steve H

    Sergeant Zim;

    I have no problems when Phil defends honest science against a minority of religious people who say some rather stupid things.

    Daffy: I hope that everyone in America supports a Rebublic controlled Congress, since that is what the country has always been about.

    “Global warming” is today’s most popular religion, so I find it rather funny to see people attacking one religion, while defending their own.

    Acutally, that is human nature, and it is fully understood!

  41. Steve H

    Article. IV.

    Section. 4. The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened), against domestic Violence.

  42. “Global warming” is today’s most popular religion, so I find it rather funny to see people attacking one religion, while defending their own.

    Right. Because having hundreds of peer-reviewed journal articles and mounds of data in support is exactly like a religion.

    This kind of rhetoric puts you in the same camp as the anti-science crowd. You sound exactly like the creationists who proudly exclaim “Darwinism is just another religion!” Reflect on that.

  43. DAV

    Re: “Right. Because having hundreds of peer-reviewed journal articles and mounds of data in support is exactly like a religion.”

    What he meant was Anthropomorphic Global Warming. Nobody really doubts that the Earth hasn’t been warming. The real question is it natural or forced? If it isn’t forced, the any debate boils down to complaining about the weather.

    When it comes to AGW, yes, it’s very much like a religion. There is no real proof. Peer review isn’t the catch-all that you seem to think it is. Paleoclimatology study is perhaps the best source (and maybe the only source) for resolving the question. But, in the paeleoclimatology world, there are no genuinely qualified statisticians yet almost the entire field relies on statistics for results. Without sufficient statistical expertise how is a reviewer to know when the maths have been inaptly used? What usually happens (and apparently has happened) is the reviewer relies on gut feel. IOW: I’m getting the answer I expect so it MUST be right. The result is a perfunctory review but now the paper has been “Peer Reviewed” — whatever that is worth.

  44. DAV

    re: “Nobody really doubts that the Earth hasn’t been warming.”

    Er, Nobody really doubts that the Earth HAS been warming. Darn sneaky double ngatives!

  45. Actually #Davis, Steve H is correct and you just proved his point. Global Warming is treated like a religion regardless of what articles and data do or don’t support it. Steve H didn’t even say whether he agreed or disagreed with it, just a comment on how it was treated, and you jumped all over him and said, “This kind of rhetoric puts you in the same camp as the anti-science crowd. You sound exactly like the creationists who proudly exclaim “Darwinism is just another religion!”” So who needs to do the reflecting?

    “You got a beef? Put it on the table. I’ll eat it with a fork and a knife.” – Stevie

  46. Sergeant Zim

    DAV, the problem with the GW debate isn’t so much whether GW is natural or Anthrogenic. The thing is, IF it’s caused by humans, by the time enough evidence has been collected to convince the leigon of right-wing talk show ‘experts’ it will be too late to do anything about it. And since they are unconvinced, and have loud voices, their opinions tend to prevail. OTOH, if steps are taken voluntarily to reduce the human causes of GW the economic impacts will be less initially, and profitable in the long run (tell me why a car that is mandated to get 50 MPG is an economic disaster, or why bicyling to work isn’t a good idea – if it’s feasable in your particular case, or any of the hundreds of energy-saving suggestions that are out there, not being used by the vast majority).

    I’ve heard Hannity pooh-poohing GW debate on many occasions, and at least once it was suggested by a caller that Hannity purchase a more fuel-efficient car. Hannity said, “I LIKE my hummer, and I don’t see why I should give up something I like.” (He also made the same argument when another caller suggested the return of the 55 MPH speed limit, that actually DID reduce national fuel consumption back in the early 70’s)

  47. To both DAV and Ken S:

    Actually, you’re making my point for me. My attack was directed at the rhetoric used, not the position. And both of you are continuing to use the same rhetoric, putting yourselves in the anti-science camp as well.

    Why? Because science is about believing based on the best available evidence. Currently there is a great deal of evidence supporting climate change, and even AGW. Now it’s possible to be pro-science and disagree with AGW — you do that by supporting your case with evidence, and discussing why you question the large body of published research (because in science, the peer-reviewed research is considered the most reliable body of evidence available, flawed though it may be).

    The intellectually honest way to disagree with the scientific consensus is to acknowledge that the mainstream side does indeed have evidence supporting its beliefs (that’s why it’s the consensus), even though you may dispute that evidence. When you play the “Global Warming is treated like a religion” card, you’re treating science like it’s politics and ignoring pretty much the entirety of how science works. And that, my friends, is anti-science.

  48. DAV

    Sarge Zim,

    “The thing is, IF it’s caused by humans, by the time enough evidence has been collected to convince the legion of right-wing talk show ‘experts’ it will be too late to do anything about it. ”

    There’s a lot to be said about caution but there’s an equal amount to be said about overriding panic.

    The way I see it, there is a HUGE push to not just get more fuel efficient cars but to effectively cut our throats via international treaty based on nothing more than “well it SEEMS reasonable.”

    “And since they are unconvinced, and have loud voices, their opinions tend to prevail.”

    Well, the strange thing is it appears the other way around to me. Every day I am constantly bombarded with GW and the effects thereof in newspapers and TV reports and Scientific American has devoted more than one issue to it. If the bombardment isn’t carrying the sly “GW equals AGW” message then why is it so newsworthy? And when someone is labelled a GW DENIER, what is meant is an AGW DENIER.

    “tell me why a car that is mandated to get 50 MPG is an economic disaster”

    I’m afraid you have much to learn about economics (I’m no real expert — it was one of my minors). If such a car was economically feasible people would be beating a path to the manufacturer’s door. Mandating something that’s NOT economically feasible is a recipe for disaster. Look at what happened in the USSR in the twentieth century.

    But, really, the whole point is getting people to behave in “the correct way” isn’t it?

    Don’t you think the best way is to get the facts straight and stop the absurd panic mode when you clearly don’t have the facts? Operating on faith without real evidence is the religious way.

    In any case, mandating “good” behavior has never worked well in the past. Why should you think it will work now?

  49. DAV

    Davis,

    “And both of you are continuing to use the same rhetoric, putting yourselves in the anti-science camp as well. And both of you are continuing to use the same rhetoric, putting yourselves in the anti-science camp as well.”

    How very strange. I, personally, read the papers “supporting” AGW and, as a statistician (well, one of my degrees, anyway) and member of the ASA, I am fully aware of the statistical arguments against those papers. I also happen to agree with those arguments. And I’m not alone. Well respected statisticians share in the agreement.

    The fact that you think that rhetoric shows your not-so-deep understanding of the issues. Perhaps because you’ve been told otherwise?

    “you do that by supporting your case with evidence”

    So exactly what evidence is it that you want? You want me to produce evidence for a negative, i.e., proof of no AGW? Get real. If you want evidence supporting the very bad use of statistics by at least one paleoclimatologist, I refer you to both the Wegman and North reports which are in agreement on this.

    “scientific consensus”

    Talk about rhetoric! WTF does “consensus” mean in scientific terms? Since when does popularity “prove” anything? You are effectively promoting the “consensus” to a position of authority. Believing something because it comes from authority is religion no matter what else you want to call it.

    A bit reminiscent of the 100 scientists recruited by the Nazis to “disprove” Einstein whose amused response was in effect, “If I was wrong, it would have only taken one of them.”

  50. The fact that you think that rhetoric shows your not-so-deep understanding of the issues. Perhaps because you’ve been told otherwise?

    Calling AGW “religion” is rhetoric, plain and simple. Do you disagree? Because this is what I was arguing against. And speaking of rhetoric, nice cheap shot you’re trying to land with the “you’ve been told otherwise” garbage.

    WTF does “consensus” mean in scientific terms? Since when does popularity “prove” anything?

    “Consensus” means the vast majority of people and published research in the field support the theory. Popularity doesn’t prove anything — science isn’t always about being right, it’s about how you come to your conclusions. But if you’re going to argue against a broad consensus, the onus is on you to present compelling reasons to question the large body of research that’s currently out there. (Every field has some junk and some mistakes in the literature, so color me unimpressed if you can name a few papers with statistical errors.)

    Let me rephrase this in a short form: the difference between science and anti-science is in tactics, not in the position you hold. “AGW is religion!” is an anti-scientific tactic, not a scientific one. “I think there are some major flaws in the research” is the scientific approach to being anti-AGW. You seem to mostly take the latter approach, DAV, so I’m not sure why you’re defending the former approach.

  51. Chip

    >>>Jon D says: [Wagnerian Music with sound effects of wind and rain] …I am a college professor of astronomy and physics, and up until this hour, I have in the past suggested this website to my students. Unless some of these posts (Bush is attacking science; Christians are stupid; etc.) are supposed to be examples of “bad astronomy”, I can no longer suggest this website to help my students grow in their education. I’ll check back in a few months to see if the tone has changed.” [/Wagnerian Music with sound effects of wind and rain] <<<

    Please place your moniker in “Find” on your computer and read what others have said above. They have good advice. As for me, I had difficulty understanding your post even with binoculars as it was displayed so far away, obscured by clouds of pompousness, when you rode away on your high horse.

  52. DAV

    “Calling AGW “religion” is rhetoric, plain and simple. Do you disagree?”

    Do I agree it’s rhetoric? Or do I agree it’s religion?

    What exactly do you call a belief when the belief is not based on evidence? I call it religion.

    The claims of proof of AGW are all based upon the so-called Hockey Stick. The very same piece of evidence was promoted by the IPCC by its author. I’m afraid I’m not guessing or simply have the opinion that the author used very bad statistics — I KNOW. He made a very newbie level error which grossly violated the underlying assumption of the methods used and that should have been caught straightaway but it was not. It’s not like is was really subtle.

    What prevented it from being caught?
    1) most in the paleoclimatology field are not statisticians so perhaps really didn’t know better (giving them the benefit of the doubt).
    2) the paper (MBH98) was circumspect about the methodology
    3) the data and code used to generate it were never archived properly and it took congressional action to get all of it.

    So, what happened after it was caught?
    1) denial, of course (still continuing today!)
    2) Ad Hominem attacks on the discoverers (still continuing today!)
    3) No call for revocation of the paper (because it isn’t wrong — right?)
    4) No call for correcting the review process that allowed it to pass through
    5) A circling-of-the-wagons by other paleoclimatologists
    6) a raft of supposedly independent papers showing that the original conclusion was right EVEN THOUGH BASED UPON FAULTY METHODOLOGY!
    7) No change in the archiving process is evident

    (1) and (4) are understandable. The industry is populated with humans after all. I particularly sympathize with (4). I am subject to similar QA procedures and, yes, they can be a real PITA.

    (2) was, and still is, uncalled for.

    (5) is understandable only if one realizes that the industry is unwilling to own up to the fact that they don’t really know what they’re doing when it comes down to the maths.

    You’d think the whole affair would be embarrassing to all but (3-6) don’t leave much room for benefit of the doubt. Maybe it was, privately of course. (6) is the most puzzling of all. Don’t they know anything about logic?

    (7) implies that no one seems particularly interested in doing follow-ups of the work of others thus NO chance of verification. Sure, it’s best to concentrate on one’s own work but, hey, what are grad students for?

    If this ends up as a sweeping damnation of paleoclimatology, so be it. The paleoclimatologists have eagerly supplied the broom.

    So, Mr. Davis, given what I feel about the quality of paleoclimatology efforts what evidence should I look at that lies outside of the paleoclimatology empire?

    “difference between science and anti-science is in tactics,”

    Interesting. What would you say about the following quote? Would you call it science or anti-science?

    “To capture the public imagination, we have to offer up some scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements and little mention of any doubts one might have. Each of us has to decide the right balance
    between being effective, and being honest.” — Dr Stephen Schneider, Discovery magazine, October, 1989.

    If you don’t know who Schneider is try Google or Wikipedia.

    Also, what would you call the tactic used by Al Gore when he showed one of Thompson’s graphs with grafted-on MBH99 results (the continuation of MBH98)? If you want, I’ll provide you a link to Thompson’s paper and you can see for yourself that the graph presented by Gore was manufactured. It was Jim Hansen — PB’s buddy(?) ; boss (?) , as the Science Consultant for Al’s presentation IIRC, who gave the imprimatur for the merged graphic which purportedly validates MBH98 and MBH99. Curiously, Thompson isn’t complaining.

    Talk about anti-scientific tactics!

  53. #Davis, it’s funny how unsurprised I am that my post would have you putting me also in the anti-science camp. Some people do treat global warming as a religion. That statement does not make me anti science. Now if I were to say, “some people treat global warming as a religion, therefore it’s not true,” you’d have a complaint about my playing a “card”. And you’d have a point about my lack of scientific evidence. Now tell me where I’ve done that. And seriously, are you suggesting politics isn’t being played on both sides of the discussion?

  54. The claims of proof of AGW are all based upon the so-called Hockey Stick.

    And with that laughably false statement, you’ve annihilated any interest I have in discussing this topic further.

    So, Mr. Davis…

    And that’s Dr. Davis to you, sir.

  55. Some people do treat global warming as a religion.

    What does that even mean?

  56. DAV

    “science isn’t always about being right, it’s about how you come to your conclusions. ”

    Ummm, that’s philosophy. The real issue is what do you base you conclusions on? In philosophy, the conclusions must logically follow from the initial premises (which are given). Neither the initial premises nor the conclusions have to match anything in reality.

    True, science has roots in philosophy but the science is about the REAL world. That means the conclusions are based upon facts. So, sorry, that means that it’s all about being right.

    “‘Consensus’ means the vast majority of people and published research in the field support the theory. Popularity doesn’t prove anything ”

    Ummm, here too. “Popularity” means support by the majority (not necessarily favorable to them). Presumably, they find it favorable to agree. That’s “consensus,” son.

  57. DAV

    “And with that laughably false statement, you’ve annihilated any interest I have in discussing this topic further.”

    As you wish.

    I note you didn’t answer the question, DR.(?) Davis. Maybe it’s because you can’t?

  58. Wait, you were saying that because I said global warming is treated like a religion I’m in with the anti science crowd and now you’re asking me what “some people do treat global warming as religion” means?

  59. IBY

    That begs a question. Is it just a coincidence that the Earth is warming right after the industrial revolution? Am I wrong or am I asking the wrong question?

  60. DAV

    IBY,

    “Is it just a coincidence that the Earth is warming right after the industrial revolution? Am I wrong or am I asking the wrong question?”

    It’s a great question. Now the first thing to ask did it warm after the industrial revolution? Well, yes it did. Was the industrial revolution the cause? Well, that’s really hard to answer. That was supposed to be the answer supplied by the Hockey Stick. That graphic showed relatively stable temperature until the 20th century. The same graphic seems to have eradicated the Medieval Warm Period. Unfortunately, the Hockey Stick came about because of faulty mathematics. Then, too, is the not so mathematical idea that tree rings may not be good temperature proxies after all as they are measures of at least three, not easily separated variables. A recent study of ice cores does indeed show the MWP and other studies have shown that the MWP wasn’t confined to Europe.

    One of the premises of the GHG theory is that rise in temperature should follow rise in GHG. There is also the claim that the rate of sea-level rise has been accelerating in tandem with the rate of rise in the air’s CO2 concentration and/or its temperature (MBH99). In [Larsen, C.E. and Clark, I. 2006. A search for scale in sea-level studies. Journal of Coastal Research 22: 788-800], the authors say: “[sea level] shows no indication of the pronounced mid-20th-century increase in temperature indicated by Mann et al. (1999),” and “neither is there a relationship to the atmospheric CO2 record.”

    Is there someway to format this? I tried HTML but the tags are simply stripped. Maybe I did it wrong?

  61. IBY

    One more question, i read somewhere that greenhouse gas increased 50ppm during the last few decade. Doesn’t that explain AGW, if not, why?

  62. DAV

    I wish I could live in your simple world.

    You’ve asked a question but the question implies admitting more than one assumption. In the legal world that’s known as a wife-beating question. Before I proceed answer the following:

    1) did GHG indeed increase 50ppm in the last 10 years or even 1990-2000?
    2) specifically which ones and how much of each?
    3) how much of any increase was anthropogenic contribution?
    4) how do you separate any anthropogenic contribution from the others?
    5) how strong is any correlation between each contribution and the temperature?
    6) are there any other possible causes of temperature rise?
    7) if so, how do you separate them?

    To answer (5) you may need to ascertain the following:
    a) is there any time when there has been a temperature rise that preceded a GHG increase?
    b) are the concentrations and temperature cyclic?
    c) if so, how well do the periods and amplitudes correlate?
    d) are there any conditional dependencies between GHG and other variables?
    e) what are the independencies?

    If you intend to use statistical analysis as a basis for establishing cause you need to proceed with caution. There is an oft repeated maxim in statistics, “correlation does not mean causation,” that predates the 20th century and expresses a lot of truth. It addresses an abuse of statistics that continues through today. However, that doesn’t mean statistics can’t be used to establish causality. For starters I recommend “Causality: Models, Reasoning, and Inference” by Judea Pearl, 2000, Cambridge University Press. It even describes the IC* algorithm that can be used to automate the discovery of causation.

    But, what the hey? Why bother with all of that bo-oring, humdrum work trying to answer the above when you can have your opinions spoonfed to ya by blogs and the media? Lately, I find myself coming to the conclusion that many soft sciences are conducted primarily in the media. What other reason could there be to have press releases precede the presentation and discussion of papers? I mean other than preloading the dice for the next send-more-money toss? And then people like Phil wonder and complain about the public’s disaffection with science.

  63. DAV

    I must have low blood sugar!

    (d) and (e) in the above should have read:

    d) are there any conditional IN-dependencies between GHG and other variables?
    e) what are the dependencies?

    Generally, establishing (e) before (d) can be a real timesaver.

  64. DAV

    Your welcome. Pearl concerns himself, for the most part, with graphical representations of probabilistic relationships. If you should become interested you could also try the following two books by Richard Neapolitan who takes a tangential to Pearl’s approach to graphical structure discovery. Both authors devote at least one chapter to some of the philosophical aspects of probability. Neither author gets too deep into mathematical formulae beyond what is actually required. About as close to an English description as you are likely to find without glossing over the actual mechanics. Neapolitan though tends toward theorem and proof before explaining his purpose. Takes some getting used to.

    1) “Learning Bayesian Networks,” 2004, Prentice Hall (Artificial Intelligence Series)
    2) “Probabilistic Reasoning in Expert Systems: Theory and Algorithms,” 1990, John Wiley and Sons

    The latter provides more in-depth coverage IMO but is no longer in print and hard to find. I believe there are some copies available on either e-Bay or Amazon Used/New.

  65. DAV

    Further recommendations before I’m done.

    There were some comments above about the similarity to religious argument. It’s interesting to compare the AGW/non-AGW blog postings to those between theists/atheists. Ignore the content and just examine the form. For example, try substituting “GW Denier” for “atheist” or “Big Oil Companies” for “Satan.” The atheists marvel at the gullibility of theists while theists are certain atheists are in league with the devil and therefore must be drowned out. Look familiar? Note the subtle shift from “AGW Skeptic” to “GW Denier” or simply “Denier.” Not much different than equating “disbelief in God” with “amoral hedonist” IMO. I am often amazed at the amount of bile this topic generates.

    One way to combat this is to examine the issue yourself and try to avoid allowing the opinions of others to become your own by default. Granted, some of the issues require an enormous amount of time to sort out; you may not particularly care enough; and some points may be simply lost due to a lack of the requisite skills. If so, at least try to recognize that and, by all means, avoid echoing secondhand opinions.

    For example, I’m no whiz at quantum mechanics. There are certain aspects which I am more or less forced to accept on faith because 1) I trust the sources and 2) I can see (but not necessarily fully understand) the reasoning. Just the same, it would be foolhardy for me to wander into debating those aspects or even voicing my secondhand opinions. The former because I’m hardly qualified which makes the latter a “so what?” matter.

    —-

    For those interested in a jumping-off point. This 6 part video (about 50 minutes total) is likely one of the best presentations of the non-AGW issues. It does this without getting into the nitty-gritty one might encounter at say ClimateAudit. It’s a video so don’t expect any references. Think of it as an overview that should be used to familiarize yourself with the major points and guide further research topics.

    The “further research” part is the most important. It’s really the only path to a valid opinion. Of course, if you don’t have the time, inclination nor expertise and want to hold a “so what?”-valued opinion, be my guest.

    Video on YouTube:
    playlist: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=4506A18E60798509
    Haven’t tried it so I don’t know if it works.

    Part one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9Qp5bxrp-c
    Part one will lead you to the other parts. The parts are really one continuous video and sometime stop in midsentece so try the playlist link first.

    There are deeper investigations into the video’s points at http://www.climateaudit.org with http://www.realclimate.org in particular taking the opposite view(s). Interestingly, ClimateAudit links to opposing view but this is rarely reciprocated. It’s the AGW proponents style to pretend there are no critics but, for whatever reason, they are find themselves forced to address criticisms. Amusing.

  66. LeeTheAgent

    Just wondering… as a skeptic, but one who hasn’t followed everything Bush has done (and I’m defending him by a long shot, personally, I think he’s dangerous as hell to science), but what do you all (not just Phil) think about how Bush is the only president recently to actually to endorse interplanetary explorations? I don’t recall Clinton, or the previous Bush being for it. I don’t know, I think it has (more than) a hint of colonialism to it, but at least its getting us out there, instead of focusing on the shuttle or the ISS… could our worst enemy actually be useful for our purpose?

  67. Slide2112

    Yeah, Bush HATES science. Hates it? This kind of hype is exactly why YOU are part of the problem Doctor! A bad cop is worse then the criminal he catches. And Henry Waxman as a source, save us…

  68. DAV

    Considering how old this thread is, the following may very well be spitting into the bit bucket.

    In keeping with the idea of “see for yourself,” I’m posting a link to the entire (or most, anyway) IPCC AR4 Working Group 1 documents below. Included are the first and second order drafts along with comments and reasons for accepting/rejecting each comment.

    There’s quite a lot to slog through. If you are one of those with a need for spoonfed opinions, don’t bother. For the rest, it’s an interesting read. Far more information than the media snippets from the Summary for Policy Makers. Anyone notice the difference between the chapter content and the Summary for Policy Makers?

    http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/Comments/wg1-commentFrameset.html

    I wish to thank Phil for allowing me to burn some of his bandwidth even though it seems he doesn’t agree with anything I say. I offered to help defray the cost but he politely turned me down so I’m now forced to buy some of his crummy T-shirts :) I suggest y’all do the same if you haven’t already. He’s dong great work. It’s not his fault he has (*ahem*) blindspots :)

    Cheers,
    DAV

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