Data, Skepticism, Judgment

By Sean Carroll | December 16, 2009 8:50 am

In one of the comments to Daniel’s post on the stolen climate emails, techskeptic points to a wonderful chart at Information is Beautiful. The author did a great deal of gruntwork to lay out the various arguments of “The Global Warming Skeptics” vs. “The Scientific Consensus.” As far as I can tell, it’s a legitimately balanced view of both sides, complete with citations. If you’re confused about the various issues and accusations being bandied back and forth, there are worse places to start. This is a small piece of the full chart.

climatecomparison

Of course, there is no such thing as a purely objective and judgment-free presentation of data, no matter how scrupulously the data itself may be collected; if nothing else, we make choices about what data to present. And a side-by-side comparison chart like this can’t help but give a slightly misleading impression of the relative merits of the arguments, by putting the conclusions of an overwhelming majority of honest scientists up against the arguments of a fringe collection of politically-motivated activists. But it’s certainly good to see the actual issues arrayed in point-counterpoint format.

Still, there remains a somewhat intractable problem: when people are arguing about issues that necessarily require expert knowledge that not everyone can possibly take the time to acquire for themselves, how do we make judgments about who to believe?

This problem has been brought home by the incredibly depressing news that James Randi has come out in favor of global-warming denialism (via PZ Myers). Randi is generally a hero among fans of reason and skepticism, so it’s especially embarrassing to see how incredibly weak his reasoning is here. It basically amounts to: “The climate is complicated. And scientists don’t know everything. And I admit I don’t know much about the field. Therefore … we have good reason to distrust the overwhelming majority of experts!” Why Randi chose not to apply his vaunted powers of skepticism to the motivations behind the denialists remains a mystery.

This gets to the heart of why I’ve always been skeptical of the valorization of “skepticism.” I don’t want to be skeptical for the sake of being skeptical — I want to be right. To maximize my chances of being right, I will try to collect what information I can and evaluate it rationally. But part of that information has to include the nature of the people making arguments on either side of a debate. If one side consists of scientists who have spent years trying to understand a complicated system, and the other is a ragtag collection of individuals with perfectly obvious vested interests in the outcome, it makes sense to evaluate their claims accordingly.

By all means, we should apply our own powers of reason to every interesting problem. But when our reasoning leads to some conclusion at odds with the apparent consensus of a lot of smart people who seem to know what they’re talking about — whether it’s on the nature of dark energy, the best way to quantize gravity, the most effective route to health care reform, or the state of the environment — the burden is on us to understand the nature of that difference and try to reconcile it, not to take refuge in “experts don’t know everything” and related anti-intellectual piffle.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Science and Society
  • Reginald Selkirk

    Still, there remains a somewhat intractable problem: when people are arguing about issues that necessarily require expert knowledge that not everyone can possibly take the time to acquire for themselves, how do we make judgments about who to believe?

    A demonstrated record of excellence in the relevant field would be a good place to start. For example, you might not be the person to whom I turn for guidance on grammar.

  • joel rice

    It depends on what you mean by agreement among a lot of smart people
    the news always says it is over 2000 but no names are released, and does
    one include Al Gore in this list ? There he was going on about Global Governance
    and more taxes. What annoys me is – HOW MUCH socalled warming is due
    to humans and how much is NOT – and if I do not get a straight answer then
    I am going to assume there is a large component of propaganda and lying with
    statistics.

  • http://betadecay.wordpress.com/ Grad Student

    Joel,
    Your question, “HOW MUCH socalled warming is due to humans and how much is NOT…” has been answered clearly. When climate models are run without human produced emissions they do not reproduce the observed warming trend. When such emissions are included, the models do reproduce the warming trend. The discrepancy in temperature between those two scenarios is the answer to your question.

  • Sam Gralla

    Thanks for the tip on the graphic.

    I think the basic problem with public perception of climate science is that it is tough to trust the experts when they don’t trust you.

    An example is the “trick” email, which was, in fact, about a trick in the bad sense of the word–in the WMO report they plotted two kinds of data as if they were one kind, smoothing the transition period (and didn’t explain). The point is they didn’t trust non-expects to come to the right conclusion in the presence of all the information, so they hid some of it in the document presented to non-experts. This strategy was conscious on their part and documented in other emails.

    I think the strategy is unethical, but perhaps more importantly, it doesn’t work, anyway, because people figure it out and get mad that they were tricked.

    In summary, If the expects want to be trusted, they need to start trusting the public.

    (By the way, they are not showing signs of starting to do this. Many climate scientists are still trying to pretend that the email referred to graphs in the peer-reviewed literature (which are fine). Of course the email is clearly about the WMO graph, which is not fine.)

  • http://www.davidnataf.blogspot.com/ David Nataf

    In reference to Sean’s last paragraph, I think part of the problem is that a lot of smart people never realize (subconsciously) that there are tons of other people smarter, wiser, and more rational than they are particular with respect to certain disciplines.

    When individuals like James Randi grow up, they’re likely to be the first or second smartest person in the room (e.g. second grade classroom). As such they develop the unstated mental approximation that if someone else disagrees with them, it’s because that person is an idiot. Which was valid often enough at the low levels. Another example of this would be the Superfreakonomics writers thinking they’re more clever than everyone else and having the hubris to say everybody else’s challenges can be resolved trivially.

    The flip side of this, at the other end of the bell curve is the role of fox news. There’s no shortage of “skeptical” documentaries on FN asking if aliens built the pyramids and that sort of thing. Superficially it makes a lot of people trust no authority, and paradoxically it makes them trust Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.

  • marcel

    But when our reasoning leads to some conclusion at odds with the apparent consensus of a lot of smart people who seem to know what they’re talking about — whether it’s on the nature of dark energy, the best way to quantize gravity, the most effective route to health care reform, or the state of the environment — the burden is on us to understand the nature of that difference and try to reconcile it, not to take refuge in “experts don’t know everything” and related anti-intellectual piffle.

    As is so often the case, Randall Munroe was recently on the case. (Don’t neglect to hold your cursor over the image for the hidden text.)

  • AndyC

    I actually read the post before looking at the name of the author, I was shocked when it turned out to be Randi. Incredibly disappointing.

  • http://www.hobbitmanor.com/ Kevin

    No mention of the feedback effect. Doesn’t anybody read the blog Climate Skeptic?

    Also – no mention of the fact that the models are much, much more accurate on the time period BEFORE their creation than the time period following their creation — ie evidence they include fudge factors to make them appear more accurate than they really are.

  • Ryan Scranton

    James Randi, AGW denier. Thanks, Sean; this week just keeps on getting better. By Friday, I’m expecting news that cancer has become airborne and contagious (h/t Patton Oswalt).

  • SLC

    It should be noted that Prof. Carrols’ Discover mate Dr. Phil Plait has yet to comment on Mr. Randis’ post, despite the decidedly negative reactions on his blog. Just for the information of the readers, Dr. Plait was not shy about labeling Prof. Bob Park a man who doesn’t know what he’s talking about relative to the latters’ negative views about manned space flight. Time for Dr. Plait to step up to the plate and give Mr. Randi the same treatment as he gave Prof. Park .

  • Janne

    Since when has this armwrestling match been just about the science (no anti-science strawman arguments, please). There is some very serious policy behind this and there needs to be a transparent, open, democratic process to determine the steps to be taken. Anything less simply won’t do and this will have consequences in itself already.

  • PhilG

    The only real similarity in those two graphs is that there is a picture of a hocker stick superimposed on them.

    Randi has a point. I dont judge a case by counting the number of experts for and against, especially when there are so many unscientific influences at work. I want to see what the data and the models actually show and I want to be reassured that the original data is available so that any conclusions can be checked or disputed by others.

  • http://radical-moderation.blogspot.com/ TheRadicalModerate

    Several questions/comments:

    1) I’m perfectly willing to believe the opinion of experts on issues like dark energy, the best way to quantize gravity, etc., because these are areas where there is no public policy component. If it were suddenly to be the case that we had to adopt a global gravity quantization tax, I’d be asking a whole bunch more hard questions.

    2) Could somebody please tell what this overwhelming scientific consensus is? To which of the following statements does it apply?

    a) Measured temperatures indicate that the world is warming, and the only forcing factor that accounts for it is anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

    b) Our proxy data and the theory surrounding its interpretation is so good that we can state with authority that the rise in temperatures is unprecedented in the last, say, 2000 years.

    c) Our predictive models are so good that they unequivocally prescribe dramatic reductions in CO2 emissions or we’re all going to have a very hard time of it.

    d) Reduction in CO2 emission is the most cost-effective geo-engineering strategy to mitigate the risk.

    I’m down with a). I’ve got questions on b) relating to the climategate “hide the decline” narrative, in that, to pore ol’ ignerint me, it seems to blow a decent-sized hole in the reliability of the tree ring proxy data, which in turn calls into question what the historical global temperature has been. To get me to believe in c), you’d have to convince me that the predictive models were falisifiable in something less than real time. And, frankly, for d), the idea that the best geo-engineering strategy we can some up with is this brute-force approach seems like the worst form of governmental group-think.

    3) Just what is the falsifiability strategy on all this climate science? I’m prepared to believe that we’ve got some decent thermometric measurements. Beyond that, I’m at a loss to see how you verify that the mapping of proxy data to real temperatures is correct, and I’m equally confused as to how you’re going to verify a computer model that forecasts non-linear behavior fifty or a hundred years into the future.

    So, yeah, I’m skeptical, or at least confused. If somebody can help me out here, I’d be very grateful.

  • Peter Beattie

    » TheRadicalModerate:
    Could somebody please tell what this overwhelming scientific consensus is?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change
    http://www.ipcc.ch

    It’s not really that hard to find about that.

  • DaveH

    Randi could have checked whether The Petition Project was indeed a petition signed by the relevant scientists.

    This petition is updated from an earlier list. Of the original 17,200 signatories:

    “signers of this petition so far include 2,660 physicists, geophysicists, climatologists, meteorologists, oceanographers, and environmental scientists.”

    http://web.archive.org/web/20070820102903/http://www.oism.org/pproject/s33p357.htm

    This is obviously supposed to be the core experts. Yet physicists have no place being in this group. Also, “Environmental scientists” is much too broad to be relevant.

    The rest of those signatories are in irrelevant fields or are not even scientists.

  • DaveH

    If you look through the beginning of A you will find:

    Earl M. Aagaard, PhD. – 4 papers on Google Scholar for EM Aagaard. On Osteoporisis + factors affecting medical students.

    Charles W. Aami – Couldn’t find anything.

    Roger L. Aamodt, PhD -National Cancer Institute.

    Wilbur A Aanes. Veterinarian. Joint author of “A Muscle Separating Approach to the Equine Shoulder Joint for the Treatment of Osteochondritis Dissecans”

    M. Robert Aaron, deceased. (August 21, 1922 – June 16, 2007) was a noted American electrical engineer specializing in telecommunications.

    Ralph F Abate of Abate Associates Engineers & Surveyors.

    Paul Abbett. Well, there is a WP Abbett and he does appear to at least be a scientist. Not a climate scientist. An astrophysicist.

    Wyatt E Abbitt III. I could find nothing for this name, nor WE Abbitt on Google Scholar.

    I noticed that I was not the only one who had looked through some of the As:

    http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2008/05/22/one-more-petition-still-a-consensus/

    This is on the 2008 version of the petition, but you will see much the same names.

    So I thought I’d have a look through some of the Qs:

    Ma Qin – M Qin named in papers on DNA, osteoarthritis, and transgenic mice.

    Kathy Qin – Not much on google. There is a K Qin who works at Department of Pediatrics, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. This K Qin is co-author of “Aromatase deficiency in male and female siblings caused by a novel mutation and the physiological role of estrogens”.

    Forrest W Quackenbush of the American Oil Chemists Society. Died may 2007. Age 99.

    JR Qualey is almost on the right sort of lines. No, don’t get excited. He’s not a climate scientist. He’s a physical chemist.

    Russell J. Qualls. Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, University of Idaho.

    Ryan D Quam is a civil engineer.

  • SLC

    Re Dave H @ #16

    It also includes folks like Fred Singer, a world class denier who has also denied that CFCs are a cause of ozone depletion and that cigarettes are a cause of lung cancer.

  • Lachlan O’Dea

    I thought James Randi’s article was very reasonable, so thanks for the link.

  • lemuel pitkin

    RadicalModerate-

    a, b, and c.

    d is probably true too, but it’s a different kind of claim.

  • Arrow

    The fact that tree ring data do not match instrumental record after 1960 is an unquestionable experimental proof that tree rings are not a reliable proxy for temperatures. The hypothesis that they are is therefore completely invalidated and there is absolutely no basis to trust any other tree rings in any other time period.

    It is actually shocking to me that real climate scientists think they can still use tree ring data up to 1960 and simply ignore the part that doesn’t fit observations!

    Another important point is that ice cores only record local temperature so it’s not possible to reliably reconstruct past average global temperatures without collecting ice cores from all over the globe.

    With tree rings discredited and with only limited coverage of ancient ice how can we say anything conclusive about past average global temperature?

  • Maledict

    Mass delusion. It’s all mass delusion. Newton and all his ilk were wrong–there is no such thing as mass, it’s all a delusion foisted off on the scientific world to cover up statistical errors made by scientific types from Archimedes on down. Pass the word on–we have to stop this delusion that science really helps us understand how the natural world works!

  • DaveH

    Arrow #20,

    The fact that tree ring data do not match instrumental record after 1960 is an unquestionable experimental proof that tree rings are not a reliable proxy for temperatures.

    No. The fact that tree ring data do not match instrumental record after 1960 is an unquestionable experimental proof that tree rings are not a reliable proxy for temperatures after 1960.

    With tree rings discredited and with only limited coverage of ancient ice how can we say anything conclusive about past average global temperature?

    With Newtonian gravity discredited and atoms so tiny and impossible to see into how can we say anything conclusive about nuclear fusion?

    The 2007 AR4 IPCC report uses the following terms

    Virtually certain > 99% probability of occurrence
    Extremely likely > 95%
    Very likely > 90%
    Likely > 66%
    More likely than not > 50%
    Unlikely < 33%
    Very unlikely < 10%
    Extremely unlikely < 5%.

  • PresqueVu

    So DaveH, according to the IPCC’s own definition of terms, global warming is unlikely to be caused by humans since the science is only 10-50% probable.

    Actually they do recognise this in their report – IPCC 2001a, Chapter 1, p.97.

  • Arrow

    What many people do not realize is that science is only reliable in those areas in which experiments are easy to perform. This is the reason why there are such drastic differences between various fields – while physics and biology made enormous progress during the last century psychology and economy hardly moved. Progress requires a way to test predictions, to tell good ideas from bad ones, this is relatively easy to do in physics and biology but exceptionally hard in psychology and economy.

    Unfortunately in climate science meaningful experiments are as hard if not harder then in economy making these two disciplines comparable. Keep this in mind when deciding how much confidence one should have in an expert opinion on climate.

  • Brian137

    Provocative article, Sean. Of course, I can read it in light of whatever opinions and feelings I have about the possibility or degree of anthropogenic global warming, but that seems to lead back to the same old succession of points and counterpoints. I have long been interested in the question you raised here:

    “Still, there remains a somewhat intractable problem: when people are arguing about issues that necessarily require expert knowledge that not everyone can possibly take the time to acquire for themselves, how do we make judgments about who to believe?”

    This is, in part, a question about psychology and decision-making by human beings, areas that, quite frankly, interest me more that climatology. As you point out, it is not only a matter of deciding who has more expertise – I also try to assess each commentator’s level of veracity and commitment to discovering and embracing the truth. I do so partly through introspection because we all have some similarities.

  • http://radical-moderation.blogspot.com/ TheRadicalModerate

    DaveH @ 20: What is it about tree ring data that makes it unreliable after 1960 but reliable before then? This is a mostly non-rhetorical question–there are lots of people assuming what you said is correct, but I don’t understand why. What makes post-1960 conditions different from all other conditions in the history covered by tree rings?

  • DaveH

    @ PresqueVu #23,

    What you said is of course untrue. That is not to say you were deliberately lying. You may simply be mistaken.

    Would you care to tell me which paragraph?

    Here’s an actual sentence from p97 of the IPCC 2001a report:

    Thus, humankind has dramatically altered the
    chemical composition of the global atmosphere with substantial
    implications for climate.

  • DaveH

    What makes post-1960 conditions different from all other conditions in the history covered by tree rings?

    Well, firstly, let’s be clear that reconstructions of past temperatures are not reliant on tree ring data.

    What is certain is that temperature extrapolated from tree ring data before 1960 closely matched the temperature as worked out from using all the other methods.

    Since 1960, other factors such as acid rain and air pollution have been significant to tree ring growth. Climatologists go into it further here (1998) : http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v391/n6668/full/391678a0.html . Incidentally, note that they were not “hiding the decline” but writing about it in Nature!

  • Brian137

    Posts #23 and #27 highlight the dilemma of what and whom to rely upon. I have never read the page in question, and I do not intend to. PresqueVu, in post #23, presents what I presume is intended as a paraphrase telling me that “…the science is only 10-50% probable.” I am not sure what that statement means. DaveH, in post #27, claims that Presque is either lying or mistaken, and I cannot figure out what Presque even meant, although I believe I catch his drift.

    Vita brevis, tempus fugit. I lack both the time and inclination to check most of this stuff, yet I do form opinions that, of necessity, rely on some of what I hear. Perhaps I protest too much. I have enjoyed both the OP and the comments on this thread.

  • DaveH

    Brian,

    Even if you don’t read the page, quick searches would show you that neither “unlikely” nor “10%” nor “50%” can be found on it.

    The page (which #23 probably chose at random) is in fact unequivocal. Apart from the sentence I already quoted there is this:

    “The reason the Earth’s surface is this warm is the presence of
    greenhouse gases, which act as a partial blanket for the longwave
    radiation coming from the surface. This blanketing is known as
    the natural greenhouse effect. The most important greenhouse
    gases are water vapour and carbon dioxide. The two most abun-
    dant constituents of the atmosphere – nitrogen and oxygen – have
    no such effect. Clouds, on the other hand, do exert a blanketing
    effect similar to that of the greenhouse gases; however, this effect
    is offset by their reflectivity, such that on average, clouds tend to
    have a cooling effect on climate (although locally one can feel the
    warming effect: cloudy nights tend to remain warmer than clear
    nights because the clouds radiate longwave energy back down
    to the surface). Human activities intensify the blanketing effect
    through the release of greenhouse gases.

    My bold.

  • Brian137

    DaveH,
    I think you ran the table.

  • http://lablemminglounge.blogspot.com/ Lab Lemming

    Re #25
    Having read Randi’s actual statement, and assuming that he is genuinely skeptical, it appears that one of the main problems here is the ability (learned as part of one’s expertise) to know what information is useful data, and what is noise/background/cover/alteration.

    In the natural sciences, the set of total available information is much larger than the set of useful data. Without knowing what to look for, it is easy to come to a “this is all too complex” conclusion.

  • MichaelG

    Sean, how can you possibly make the statement “As far as I can tell, it’s a legitimately balanced view of both sides, …” when the source of your information uses the title ‘climate-change-deniers-vs-the-consensus’ in the link and then the author professes to state that “Realclimate” was the primary source of all the information? Those two things alone should make it obvious that the information has been produced from an AGW perspective and is not a balanced point of view. But I assume that because you also use the term “denialist” that you aren’t really interested in the validity of the skeptical viewpoint.

  • Fyodor Uckoff

    SC said:”whether it’s on the nature of dark energy, the best way to quantize gravity, the most effective route to health care reform,”

    You know, one of the strongest reasons I have for being an atheist is that I find utterly incredible the religious idea that there is an objective “fact of the matter” about moral questions. Now SC tells us that there is a “fact of the matter” about health care reform, and that there exist apolitical “experts” who can tell us what to do about that little problem. Amazing. Sean is a Christer! Jeez. So to speak.

  • Damian

    MichaelG:

    Because climate change deniers exist and there is also a general consensus among climate scientists.

    And Real Climate is run by climate scientists. Where else would you expect someone to go for information about climate science? To a medical doctor or computer scientist?

    “Skeptics” have had nearly a decade to persuade the scientific community, and yet, the consensus has only grown stronger as the science has matured and become overwhelming.

    I suppose that it would depend what someone is skeptical about. It is reasonable, at this point, to argue about potential solutions, and perhaps even the projected magnitude of the impact, but there is little room for maneuver regarding the general conclusions.

    It’s really not that difficult to spot a denier, to be honest. If you don’t understand the science, and particularly if you haven’t even bothered to learn the basics, you really shouldn’t be making any proclamations about the science, at all, unless you are simply asking questions in good faith.

    But even if we look at some of the more well known “skeptics”, who do at least understand some of the science, they regularly make inexcusable errors, and then when called on them, tend to ignore the corrections and repeat the same “mistakes” time and again. That is a sure sign of either an incompetent, or an intellectually dishonest charlatan.

    Anyone who is genuinely interested in working toward an understanding of reality will be quite happy to be corrected, and will then endeavor to avoid making enormous whoppers in the future. And those kinds of people are generally honest with their readers, and avoid making ignorant statements, as they fear losing credibility. Those who aren’t interested in realty are generally none of the above, go to computer scientists and pretty much anyone but the real experts for their information, and also have a habit of implicating thousands of scientists in far fetched and deeply offensive conspiracy theories.

    To all:

    Only a subset of tree rings diverge from the other methods after 1960. All of the others continue to correlate with thermometer readings, as well as all other records. We don’t know exactly why this happens, although there have been several peer-reviewed papers that have attempted to explain it, so it has hardly been kept a secret, contrary to what the Glenn Becks (well known climate scientist, of course) of the world have been saying.

  • OXO

    It’s all going to hell in a handcart. The russians have now joined the denying cause:

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100020126/climategate-goes-serial-now-the-russians-confirm-that-uk-climate-scientists-manipulated-data-to-exaggerate-global-warming/

    And all because the AGW proponents thought it would be a good idea to bias the data to support their arguments.

  • MichaelG

    Damian, You have completely missed the point of my issue with Sean’s claim and I have purposely steered clear of the relative scientific merits of either side of the climate debate so as to not confuse the issue.

    Sean stated that it was a balanced viewpoint of the various arguments between “The Global Warming Skeptics” and “The Scientific Consensus.” However this is not what the readers are presented. Instead we have a presentation of a pro AGW viewpoint that aims to debunk a representation of the skeptics viewpoint. Furthermore, the skeptics are labeled as deniers. I’m sorry, but that is not balanced.

    Investigating further, I discovered that the author of this work is David McCandless, who describes himself as a London-based writer, designer and author. Hardly an expert in the field of climate science and gives away his bias by starting his blog entry with “I’m fascinated by climate deniers. How could anyone deny the climate change is happening?” He then goes on to thank Gavin Schmidt for his assistance.

    As to the rest of your unsubstantiated ramblings and accusations, I really have no idea what point you are trying to make, except to make it obvious on which side your opinions lie.

  • http://cdsweb.cern.ch/record/444592 Carl Brannen

    As far as I can tell, none of the writers on this blog, nor any of the commenters have been paid to read the papers, and to provide a determination on whether or not AGW is hype or not.

    After I accepted the job of VP of Engineering at a company designing an ethanol plant a few years ago, along with a percentage ownership of the project, I had to look very carefully at AGW. This was necessary in order to make an analysis of how long government subsidies would exist for reduction of CO2. My conclusion was that the AGW was bad science, that world temperatures were steadily reducing, and that the political will behind CO2 reduction would fail by 2012, but that subsidies for oil import replacement would continue.

    Now the situation is that 1/3 of the AGW world has been shown to be unethical and unscientific. The emails are not the most damaging part of the release. Their data has been released to the skeptic side which will be publishing papers based on it shortly. The other two climate centers will soon be forced to make their own FOI releases and will also fall into disrepute.

    If you want to understand climate from the point of view of a particle physicist you have to read the CLOUD proposals at CERN, and only then make a judgement. Click the link or google “CERN-SPSC-2000-021″.

    I’m reminded of the physicists I knew from the mid 1970s who were the last true believers in Communism. They were still arguing that the Soviet Union was a people’s paradise even after the Jews started getting out and telling the true story. Their claim was that “oh, those are just stories from people who were unhappy, that’s why they left.” The definition of human could be “the animal that believes its own BS”, and this applies to scientists just as much as to anyone else, especially when they are outside their area of specialty.

  • Janne

    There is a strong “us vs. them” mentality developing in these discussions. I always thought skepticism was good for the science. Apparently not the case.

    One of the points made by the skeptics is the lack of reproducibility of these graphs. Yes, I’ve been taught all along that this is a key point for credible scientific work. Another thing that goes against my formal education is that I’ve never seen confidence levels or error bars associated with these graphs that sell the idea to the public.

  • Damian

    “Sean stated that it was a balanced viewpoint of the various arguments between “The Global Warming Skeptics” and “The Scientific Consensus.” However this is not what the readers are presented. Instead we have a presentation of a pro AGW viewpoint that aims to debunk a representation of the skeptics viewpoint. Furthermore, the skeptics are labeled as deniers. I’m sorry, but that is not balanced.”

    Are you a journalist? I only ask, because most of them appear to believe that if a scientist claims that the earth is (very close to) an oblate spheroid, then “balance” somehow dictates that they ask for the opinion of a flat earther. This is palpable nonsense, of course, as is your claim that balance requires a fair look at both what the scientists say, as well as the pseudo-skeptics.

    Balance actually requires that when looking at an issue you should take in to account the relative expertize of those involved, placing particular importance on a consensus of relevant scientists. It emphatically does not mean that you should present two ideas as if they have equal merit.

    To “balance” an argument such as this, given the weight of evidence and expertize on the side of AGW, the “skeptics” would need an extraordinary amount of evidence and argument in their favor. In actual fact, they have very little.

    “Investigating further, I discovered that the author of this work is David McCandless, who describes himself as a London-based writer, designer and author. Hardly an expert in the field of climate science”

    But he is doing what is both ethical and rational, which is to place a far greater emphasis on the climate scientists than anyone else. What other alternative do non-experts have? To trust non-scientists and non-climatologists? If you have citations from the peer-reviewed literature that refute anything that he has said, please reveal them, and then let him know that he has made errors.

    And this doesn’t work both ways, either. If you wish to argue against a consensus, you have very few options. They include doing the work that is necessary to fully understand the science, and then either taking part in the scientific process, or, at the very least, taking your doubts to the relevant scientists and discussing it with them.

    Anything else is, in my opinion, unethical, particularly with a matter of such import. The scientific process dictates that you must spend however much time is necessary to have your ideas accepted by the other scientists in that field. And if they are not, that is just hard luck, I’m afraid. You won’t win anyone over by starting a blog as have many “skeptics” (and non-climate scientists), rather than fight the battle in the market place of scientific ideas (the literature).

    Again, that is a sure sign of someone that you really should be skeptical about.

    “As to the rest of your unsubstantiated ramblings and accusations, I really have no idea what point you are trying to make, except to make it obvious on which side your opinions lie.”

    Well, to be fair, I’ve never hidden the fact that it somehow appeals to me to accept the overwhelming consensus among relevant scientists. It’s crazy talk, I know, because I usually ask the local plumber to cut my hair and an illiterate electrician looks after my accounting.

  • DaveH

    Delingpole fails at journalism. Again.

    A solitary Russian newspaper (Kommersant – lit. “The Businessman”) reported claims by “the Institute of Economic Analysis”, based in Moscow, that the Hadley Center for Climate Change cherrypicked Russian meteorological data.

    This story was gleefully swallowed by “a libertarian conservative who writes brilliant books and brilliant articles, and is really great on TV, radio and the internet too.

    Since Delingpole is, at best, too lazy to check his sources, others will have to do it for him.

    So, who the hell are the Institute of Economic Analysis, and what would they know about climate science?

    The IEA was created by Andrey Nikolayevich Illarionov , a Russian libertarian economist and former economic policy advisor to the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. A well known global warming skeptic, Illarionov is currently employed by the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity at the Cato Institute, a pro-free market, libertarian think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C.

    The IEA retains close links with the Cato Institute. The IEA website reports on a recent joint conference.

    It seems that once again we have a smear story from the rumour mill that has absolutely nothing to do with climatology.

  • Mark K

    As a physics Phd, but now a working engineer specialising in open ended non-linear dynamics i am deeply shocked by the reliance on “climate models” being promoted by many posters of this blog. The fact is we can only create models which “mimick” the chaotic properties of the type of systems in question. Using the models as some sort of empirical device is going to lead us up the garden path. Having worked with similar models in an attempt to decribe far less complex systems than the climate I can guarantee all that current models are at best primitive descriptors of the probably infinite variables/initial conditions which will affect our climate.

    That does not make me sceptic about anthro induced climate change, but my working experience makes me very suspicious of claims regarding GCM accuracy in simulating climate reality (not climate idealistion).

    People appear to have forgotten important lessons learnt starting from Newton—>Poincare—->Lorenz etc…

    The hubristic statements of certainty regaridng how our climate will change based on projections from GMCs is, frankly laughable.

  • blueshifter

    MichaelG, you have completely missed Damian’s point, as you yourself admit:

    “I really have no idea what point you are trying to make”

    Seems to me, he quite clearly explained *why* the left side of the chart is labeled “Deniers”, by defining for you what constitutes a Denier. Here is my summation of his definition:

    * [do not] understand the science [because they have] not bothered to learn the basics
    * regularly make [factual] errors
    * ignore the corrections [to those errors] and repeat the same “mistakes” time and again.
    * have a habit of implicating thousands of scientists in […] conspiracy theories.

    You say you “steered clear of the relative scientific merits of either side of the climate debate so as to not confuse the issue.” But this *is* the issue! Once you understand the merits of the science, you are left with no other option than to label a denier a denier – someone who denies the overwhelming data!

    Let’s imagine the chart was about biblical creationism vs. evolutionary biology; would you want the left side to be labeled “Darwinism Skeptics”, to be fair and balanced to the debate? At which point do you declare the debate over? How much data is enough?

    Sean in the OP and Brian137 raised interesting points on how we make decisions to determine who is telling the truth in a debate. Damian noted that for climate science:

    ” ‘Skeptics’ have had nearly a decade to persuade the scientific community, and yet, the consensus has only grown stronger as the science has matured and become overwhelming.”

    This growing consensus can be tracked in the IPCC reports, or more informally:

    http://www.usnews.com/articles/news/national/2008/04/23/survey-tracks-scientists-growing-climate-concern.html

    I first heard of AGW in the late 90s, from an apocalyptic Greenpeace hippie (his own label). It was one of many doomsday scenarios he would go on and on about, along with Y2K, peak oil, fascist takeover, water wars… you name it. So I can assure my very first reaction was STRONG skepticism. This carried over well into this decade; I never saw Al Gore’s movie because I *knew* it was chicken-little propaganda.

    Then a year ago I decided to buy a beachfront condo in Florida. That’s when I dug into this whole “sea levels are gonna rise” talk. And it did not take much research to see WHO was saying the sea levels are going to rise, and WHY they were saying it. My skepticism towards the basic tenets of AGW are gone. Burning ginormous amounts of coal and petroleum have raised atmospheric CO2, no debate there. Via the Greenhouse effect, this has caused global atmospheric temperatures to rise. No debate there. Sea level rise to follow, as has been the case in earth history when the temperature goes up, because the polar ice melts. Again, no debate there.

    AGW is predictive and falsifiable, and those predictions are already coming to pass – the ice IS melting! Could it be something other than the human released CO2 raising temps? Of course! Have those other mechanisms been modeled, probed, investigated thoroughly by subject matter experts? You betcha! It’s not sun spots, it’s not Milankovitch cycles, it’s not the Greys pointing a space microwave at us. Take out the CO2 from the models, the warming dissapears. Put it back in, and the model temperatures match the multiple, independent, cross-corroborating methods we have for measuring real temperature. No one has been able to come up with an alternative to AGW to explain the warming. Pointing out small errors in a huge mountain of data doesn’t make that mountain crumble.

    Now, what to do about it? There we surely have a robust debate. Me, I didn’t buy that condo; but I AM going to buy a car that can handle flood waters… I’m thinking a nice V8 Range Rover. :)

  • http://mirror2image.wordpress.com mirror2image

    The problem here become not scientific but political/organizational. All climatology brunch of science is under suspicion. (And as we known there could be hole crooked branches of science – look at psychology) . Therefor climatologists couldn’t be impartial arbiters in public opinion. The problem could be resolved organizationally – make impartial jury out of prominent physicists and mathematicians, let them check all the data and make conclusion once and for all. That’s a pure utopia of cause.

  • blueshifter

    @RadicalModerate you were looking for opinions on 4 points, including:

    c) Our predictive models are so good that they unequivocally prescribe dramatic reductions in CO2 emissions or we’re all going to have a very hard time of it.

    I don’t know about that one. We could very well take the same money it would cost to bring the CO2 back down to 1950 levels, and instead spend it on levies and flood walls where feasible and population relocation efforts where not. Deal with the change, not try to “set the world back to the perfect climate of the Holocene circa when we showed up”. Climate always changes, and will always change. We know biodiversity has been just fine in previous eras with way hotter climates. We’ll be able to feed everybody in a hotter world. In fact, it’s the glaciation events that are the real doomsday scenarios in my book. I’m not sure why everyone is panicking over our demonstrated ability to stymie the cooling that the Milankovitch cycle theory predicts should be currently happening.

  • MichaelG

    Damian, you are still getting bogged down in the relative merits of the scientific debate. When I say the argument is not balanced, I am not saying that each side should be presented as having equal scientific basis. I am simply saying that each side should be articulated accurately, from their own viewpoint. It is then up to the reader to assess the evidence (including the source) and make up their own mind. So, I repeat my earlier assertion that Sean has not presented a balanced debate because both sides of the argument come from the one side. Now the end result of a rational person reviewing all the arguments may agree with the “consensus science” but this blog’s representation of that argument doesn’t allow a rational person to make an accurate determination.

    And if you must know, no I am not a journalist. I studied mathematics and statistics before becoming a Navigator in the Air Force (so I know all about oblate spheroids). And good luck with your hair cuts and taxes.

  • blueshifter

    “When I say the argument is not balanced, I am not saying that each side should be presented as having equal scientific basis. I am simply saying that each side should be articulated accurately, from their own viewpoint.”

    You really don’t see what you’re doing here? How can both viewpoints be accurate, if they are of unequal scientific merit?

  • MichaelG

    blueshifter, when I say accurate, I am talking in terms of how the viewpoints are portrayed, not whether those viewpoints are valid. For example, if the AGW argument is A, B & C and the skeptic argument is X, Y & Z, then I expect the arguments to be presented as such. They can then be argued on their scientific merit and one of the two will be proven correct. Now X, Y & Z may be total rubbish (as many people believe), but I believe that this blog has presented X, Y & Z as x, y & z. Hence my original point that a balanced argument has not been presented here.

    Does my use of the word accurate and my desire to avoid getting bogged down in the validity of the scientific argument now make sense to you?

  • http://eternal-cartesian.blogspot.com/ Cartesian

    I did study environment in Germany during a year (what was rather a good time anyway) and I know that in order to make progress their science they are putting some motivations leading to excess, because of money for example (and industries are quite happy with it (taxes) because it helps them to go where workers are cheaper, because they have a good apology in order to leave). Otherwise it is strange that more we do worse is the situation and more is asked to us, more money and free contributions, I think it is going a bit too far currently. Finally human activity should have an impact, but the fact that some homosexuals are at the basis of the green movement will also have an impact on the future, which can be bad if they have too much power (see « The Spirit of Laws », by Montesquieu, book 15, chapter 19).

  • Damian

    OXO:

    Are the CRU data “suspect”? An objective assessment:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/12/are-the-cru-data-suspect-an-objective-assessment/

    Try it out for yourself. It’s amazing how easy it is to avoid being made to look silly if you have the minimal amount of intellectual curiosity.

  • Damian

    MichaelG:

    What should have been included? I cannot judge the merit of your claim, without first understanding why you believe that it isn’t balanced. And although I have been “arguing” with you, I’m really not sure that it matters a great deal, anyway. It is one website, with one interpretation. Sean thought that it was a nice illustration, and yes, balanced, and you don’t. As I’m sure that you would agree, it isn’t really relevant to the science or the politics.

    However, I do notice that you failed to mention that the “skeptics” arguments are sourced to various books by climate skeptics. Now, it may well be the case that those aren’t the best arguments — although, all of the arguments that would make any difference to the relevant conclusions have been answered — but, again, this is all a matter of judgment.

    Of course, the easiest thing to do would be to create your own X vs. Y chart, and then explain in detail why you have chosen the specific arguments. Or you could even send a list of arguments to the owner of that website and ask them to produce another version.

    I would imagine, however, that the result may not be terribly different.

  • Haelfix

    I do think the science of climate reconstructions is very shady technically and statistically.
    The case for AGW doesn’t hinge upon that, but it does take some of the bite out if you accept that we are not in unprecedented warming periods. At the moment, I have zero faith in any of the socalled independant reconstructions out there, and its pretty easy to see that in fact they are not independant.

    As far as the actual warming in this century. That much is irrefutable and more or less troubling by itself.

  • http://www.hobbitmanor.com/ Kevin

    Damian, how about the issue of feedback? http://tinyurl.com/yjynpev

  • http://meadowsweet-myrrh.blogspot.com/ Ali

    “But when our reasoning leads to some conclusion at odds with the apparent consensus of a lot of smart people who seem to know what they’re talking about […] the burden is on us to understand the nature of that difference and try to reconcile it, not to take refuge in ‘experts don’t know everything’ and related anti-intellectual piffle.”

    Sean, I completely agree! Which is why I think it continues to bother me when scientific New Atheists such as yourself, Dawkins, and PZ Myers (among others) completely dismiss the subtleties and complexities of sociological and theological approaches to religion as so much fluff and sloppy wording. Of course, I’m not suggesting that simply because 90% of the world believes in some kind of spiritual existence that you are obligated to believe it, too. I’m merely pointing out that there are areas of expertise beyond the realm of the hard sciences, and many scholars who have devoted their lives to studying the amazingly diverse and complicated issues of religious belief and identity, most of which are completely overlooked or misunderstood by the simplifications found in the New Atheist arguments. I look forward to a time when we can agree that more than scientists belong in the set of “a lot of smart people.”

    (I realize this response barely touches on the main focus of this post, but I saw this particular paragraph quoted elsewhere and, as a long time reader of this blog and a big fan of the science though not of the often myopic lecturing about religion, I simply couldn’t resist the opportunity to point out a wonderful example of irony.)

  • Sergey, VT

    >>If one side consists of scientists who have spent years trying to understand a complicated system, and the other is a ragtag collection of individuals with perfectly obvious vested interests in the outcome,..

    Science vs vested interests. How simple and easy! So why would those nice guys interested only in understanding complex system would temper with the data? Here is one big news from Russia:
    (from http://biggovernment.com/2009/12/16/climategate-just-got-much-much-bigger/)

    On Tuesday, the Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) issued a report claiming that the Hadley Center for Climate Change based at the headquarters of the British Meteorological Office in Exeter (Devon, England) had probably tampered with Russian-climate data.

    The IEA believes that Russian meteorological-station data did not substantiate the anthropogenic global-warming theory. …The data of stations located in areas not listed in the Hadley Climate Research Unit Temperature UK (HadCRUT) survey often does not show any substantial warming in the late 20th century and the early 21st century.

    The HadCRUT database includes specific stations providing incomplete data and highlighting the global-warming process, rather than stations facilitating uninterrupted observations. …

    IEA analysts say climatologists use the data of stations located in large populated centers that are influenced by the urban-warming effect more frequently than the correct data of remote stations.

    Here is the Russian report (in Russian, but the graphics should be clear)
    http://www.iea.ru/article/kioto_order/15.12.2009.pdf

  • Sergey, VT

    >>>by putting the conclusions of an overwhelming majority of *honest* scientists up against the arguments of a fringe collection of *politically-motivated * activists.

    RE : *honest*

    from http://climateaudit.org/

    On Mar 31, 2004 Jones wrote to Mann as follows:

    “Recently rejected two papers (one for JGR and for GRL) from people saying CRU has it wrong over Siberia. Went to town in both reviews, hopefully successfully. If either appears I will be very surprised, but you never know with GRL.”

    Climategate emails show that Phil Jones of CRU, acting as a reviewer of the CRU data used in the HadCRU gridded temperature, “went to town” to block the publication of criticisms of his handling of Russian data.

    On Dec 15, 2009, it was reported that the Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) issued a report “claiming that the Hadley Center for Climate Change based at the headquarters of the British Meteorological Office in Exeter (Devon, England) had probably tampered with Russian-climate data.” (h’t Jeff Id) There is an online technical report dated Dec 15, 2009, which states that it considered data released by the UK Met Office on Dec 8, 2009 in response to “increasing public pressure”.

  • Sergey, VT

    >>>by putting the conclusions of an overwhelming majority of *honest* scientists up against the arguments of a fringe collection of *politically-motivated * activists.

    RE : *politically-motivated * activists.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_McIntyre

    http://www.galaxy.gmu.edu/stats/faculty/wegman.html

  • joel rice

    Grad Student – you made my point by not saying how much – just that it is
    the difference . If the difference is 5 percent then nobody cares, if it is 95 percent
    then maybe we worry. The subject has been politicized – I remember letters in Science
    taking an alarmist stance – long ago. What is the proper baseline anyway –
    no humans ? Should civilization have no effect on the planet ? If volcanos have an
    effect, why can’t we ?

  • DaveH

    Here is one big story from Russia

    Sigh. Here is comment 41 again:

    Delingpole fails at journalism. Again.

    A solitary Russian newspaper (Kommersant – lit. “The Businessman”) reported claims by “the Institute of Economic Analysis”, based in Moscow, that the Hadley Center for Climate Change cherrypicked Russian meteorological data.

    This story was gleefully swallowed by “a libertarian conservative who writes brilliant books and brilliant articles, and is really great on TV, radio and the internet too.

    Since Delingpole is, at best, too lazy to check his sources, others will have to do it for him.

    So, who the hell are the Institute of Economic Analysis, and what would they know about climate science?

    The IEA was created by Andrey Nikolayevich Illarionov , a Russian libertarian economist and former economic policy advisor to the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. A well known global warming skeptic, Illarionov is currently employed by the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity at the Cato Institute, a pro-free market, libertarian think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C.

    The IEA retains close links with the Cato Institute. The IEA website reports on a recent cozy joint conference. Isn’t that nice?

    It seems that once again we have a smear story from the rumour mill that has absolutely nothing to do with climatology.

    The IEA was created by Andrey Nikolayevich Illarionov , a Russian libertarian economist and former economic policy advisor to the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. A well known global warming skeptic, Illarionov is currently employed by the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity at the Cato Institute, a pro-free market, libertarian think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C.

    The IEA retains close links with the Cato Institute. The IEA website reports on a recent joint conference.

    It seems that once again we have a smear story from the rumour mill that has absolutely nothing to do with climatology.

  • Surferosad

    I considered debating the deniers once again, but fortunately I came to my senses. Futile exercise, if there ever was one.

    So instead, I will quote this Hilaire Belloc poem, which I dedicate to deniers all over the world:

    “Matilda told such dreadful lies,
    It made one gasp and stretch one’s eyes;
    Her aunt, who, from her earliest youth,
    Had kept a strict regard for the truth,
    Attempted to believe Matilda:
    The effort nearly killed her.”

  • http://vacua.blogspot.com Jim Harrison

    What always amazes me is that the same people who promote a drastically skeptical attitude towards conclusions they don’t like are utterly credulous when it comes to any reported result that they think supports their own views.

    I’m not a scientist myself–as a technical writer and editor I’m more of a fellow traveler. I do read the journals regularly, however, so I learned long ago not to be much impressed by any single paper or even small number of papers. In practice the sciences advance by fits and starts with many failed tries and brief enthusiasms. Nevertheless, the amoeba eventually gets there. I’ve particularly followed the debate about climate change as it unfolded in umpteen articles, papers, and letters in the journal SCIENCE and therefore know that all sides of the debate engaged in an exhausting, drawn-out, and often acrimonious running battle before a consensus emerged. Emerged it has, however, and were this issue a normal scientific matter like, say, a question of whether a particular order of mammals is monophyletic, everybody would have long since moved on to another problem. What keeps the argument going in this case, as with cancer and cigarettes or the theory of evolution, is something extraneous to science, i.e. powerful ideological and financial interests that are never going to be convinced by evidence.

  • Scott B

    @59 Dave H:

    I don’t care who created it or who they are linked to. People on all sides of this argument have vested interests. I’ll be skeptical of the IEA’s claim until we have access to the data from stations that are not collected in the measured temperature records. It is known that there was a massive loss of Russian stations in our global temp records around 1990. If many of those stations are still accurate and show significantly different trends from those shown by nearby stations that are counted or different from how the global temp records filled in data at that point between other counted stations, then I’ll put more weight into their claim. If we never see the data for those stations, I’ll throw this article out as propaganda. But to just accept or throw out claims based on who people are associated with is extremely closed minded.

  • Le Mur

    “If one side consists of scientists who have spent years trying to understand a complicated system, and the other is a ragtag collection of individuals with perfectly obvious vested interests in the outcome, it makes sense to evaluate their claims accordingly.”

    But…but…that hypothetical situation doesn’t have anything to do with the global warm…, er, the climate change controversy, so why mention it?

    As a certified super-duper in-depth thinker kinda guy, I ask: Is it possible for something to be true even though Al Gore says it’s true? Any examples?

  • DaveH

    I don’t care who created it or who they are linked to.

    Then you are foolish. Non-scientists linked to libertarian think tanks are not of equal credibility to scientists on this issue.

    People on all sides of this argument have vested interests.
    Except no-one has really explained how the climate scientists are getting rich, or how AGW suits the vested interests of the political leaders of the top industrial nations!! Clue – It doesn’t, but we have one planet, and millions of people living beside water.

    But to just accept or throw out claims based on who people are associated with is extremely closed minded.

    Pull the one with bells. All opinions are not equal. Credibility of a news source is always pertinent to the rational person. There is no science involved in the story. It’s pure spin.

    Andrey Nikolayevich Illarionov is the man who in a 2004 interview with the BBC’s Jeremy Paxman claimed, contrary to basic physics, that there was no link between carbon dioxide and climate change (by citing two old IPCC reports that did not back him up, and ignoring two more recent IPCC reports that even more strongly contradicted him), and then went on to say that the Kyoto protocol “violates the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens.”

    That is narrow minded.

    Understand this: The party is over. Reality does not endorse the extremes of Laissez-faire ideals. That is not reality’s fault. It is not even the left-wing’s fault. It’s how the fuck it is. We have realized we have limited fossil resources and that the environment does not feel any obligation to provide ideal conditions for human life.

    So forget your equal weight, listen-to-all-sides-“valid”-0pinions, teach the controversy crap and pay attention to what the scientists are telling you about the planet your grandchildren will be living on.

  • Sergey, VT

    DaveH #59,
    Your opinion as usually is based on solid science: argumentum ad-hominem and guilt by association.

    But it is easy to check out and for sure we will soon see if the Russian report is false or Brits fudged the data.

  • Sergey, VT

    >>>by putting the conclusions of an overwhelming majority of *honest* scientists up against the arguments of a fringe collection of *politically-motivated * activists.

    RE[2] : *honest*

    How a person who deletes data and asks collegues to delete implicating emails 3 weeks after the data and emails were requested via FOIA can be “honest” rather than a criminal?

    How people who put “fudge factor” in code and talk about “completely artificial adjustement” of time series after 1961 can be honest?

  • Sergey, VT

    >>So forget your equal weight, listen-to-all-sides-”valid”-0pinions, teach the controversy crap and pay attention to what the scientists are telling you about the planet your grandchildren ..

    When the question is about statistsics I would listen to a statistiticians as Ed Wegman:

    ‘It is important to note the isolation of the paleoclimate community; even though
    they rely heavily on statistical methods they do not seem to be interacting with
    the statistical community. Additionally, we judge that the sharing of research
    materials, data and results was haphazardly and grudgingly done. In this case
    we judge that there was too much reliance on peer review, which was not
    necessarily independent. Moreover, the work has been sufficiently politicized that
    this community can hardly reassess their public positions without losing
    credibility. Overall, our committee believes that Dr. Mann’s assessments that the
    decade of the 1990s was the hottest decade of the millennium and that 1998 was
    the hottest year of the millennium cannot be supported by his analysis.’
    – Excerpt from Wegman report

    So, if these guys are not good at statistics, then what good you can expect from their models?

    You are right DaveH, the party is over! After Climategate everyone in US will realize that IPCC science is massive fraud, it is junk-science , not science. And btw Rajendra K. Pachauri is just a former railroad engeneer :-), he would have done better if remained with his old job. IPCC is toast.

    Your rumbling about future of our children have no scientific basis whatsoever and no one is going to take it seriously in any case . We won, you lost, now get a life.

  • Janne

    So, some people are strongly proposing that world policy should be dictated by an elite scientific community, to put things clear.

  • Scott B

    “Then you are foolish. Non-scientists linked to libertarian think tanks are not of equal credibility to scientists on this issue.”

    If this was some complicated scientific issue, I might agree. The counting of stations and how their temperatures are spread between each other to fill in the missing gaps is mostly statistics.

    “Except no-one has really explained how the climate scientists are getting rich, or how AGW suits the vested interests of the political leaders of the top industrial nations!! Clue – It doesn’t, but we have one planet, and millions of people living beside water.”

    Millions of people, all in competition with each other. Copenhagen is a good example of that. Scientists are interested in their funding. Politicians (on both sides) get their money from lobbyists. The top industrial nations will have more control over green energy sources than they do over fossil fuels. Personally, I think that’s a worthy goal, just that we should go about it in a completely different way. I promise you, most of the politicians aren’t concerned about all those people living next to water (which we should be moving away from anyway in any cyclone vulnerable areas).

    “Andrey Nikolayevich Illarionov is the man who in a 2004 interview with the BBC’s Jeremy Paxman claimed, contrary to basic physics, that there was no link between carbon dioxide and climate change (by citing two old IPCC reports that did not back him up, and ignoring two more recent IPCC reports that even more strongly contradicted him), and then went on to say that the Kyoto protocol “violates the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens.”

    That is narrow minded.”

    I can go find some narrow minded opinions of IPCC reviewers too. Does that disqualify all of their reports from consideration? Again, I leave it up to the Russians to demonstrate their claim.

    “Understand this: The party is over. Reality does not endorse the extremes of Laissez-faire ideals. That is not reality’s fault. It is not even the left-wing’s fault. It’s how the fuck it is. We have realized we have limited fossil resources and that the environment does not feel any obligation to provide ideal conditions for human life.”

    I didn’t mention any Laissez-faire ideals. This is your political bias speaking. The way to fix our energy problems is not by just letting the free market fix it. Personally, I think we should use these fossil fuels to mass produce nuclear plants and invest in other renewable sources where they are efficient. We should also completely rebuild our power grid in the US to eliminate waste. In the very long term, we should focus on fussion power which would solve all of our energy problems (if the NIF is successful next year, it may be sooner).

    I do find it strange that you mention limited fossil fuel resources next though. If they were that limited, some of those Laissez-faire ideals would have already kicked in. It is true that we will need different sources of energy though. That should be our focus, not simply reducing CO2 emissions. And, can you tell me what are ideal human conditions? Nature has never been obliged to provide them to us whatever they are. It’s been up to us to adapt to nature. The key is, what is the best way to do this? Can you point me to any resource that takes a look at all of the possibilities for future warming, both the good and bad things it would cause, and a valid cost/benefit analysis of our various options to take? I’ve never seen it. I’ve only seen hyperbole that makes the base assumption that just because we are effecting our climate means we need to stop completely.

    “So forget your equal weight, listen-to-all-sides-”valid”-0pinions, teach the controversy crap and pay attention to what the scientists are telling you about the planet your grandchildren will be living on.”

    So, instead of reading papers and making my own opinions, I should simply trust scientists. No matter what assumptions they make to come to their conclusions. No matter what errors they’ve been shown and refused to admit. Sorry, I’ll remain skeptical of all sides. Until the thourough, unbiased, analysis is done to make sure the choices politicians will make will most likely be best for both the planet my grandchildren will live on and the lifestyle they will be able to have, I have to.

  • DaveH

    Sergey, when are you going to stop wrongly invoking logical fallacies? I can’t say you’re the only person on the internet who does it, but it makes you look like an idiot.

    When trying to find the truth of a matter, there is actually nothing wrong with examining credentials and disclosing interest. “Ad Hominem” is Latin and a fallacy, so it must be wrong to examine credentials and disclose conflicts of interest, right? WRONG.

    FAIL.

    I need make no apology for disclosing what the IEA is.

    Guilt by association is what you are trying to do by incorrectly associating the real science of AGW with a mantra about one scientist allegedly deleting FOIA requests.

    we will soon see if the Russian report is false

    There is no reason for any thinking person to expect it to be anything other than false.

    You want the “other opinion”? Peer reviewed science or STFU.

    How a person who deletes data and asks collegues to delete implicating emails 3 weeks after the data and emails were requested via FOIA can be “honest” rather than a criminal?

    To ask how a person who deletes data can be honest is to admit to never having handled data.

    Besides, as you should know if you were making the slightest effort to keep up, NO RAW DATA WAS DELETED.

    As could be explained to a young child, but apparently not you, IF one scientist deleted FOIA requests illegally it would not change the science nor would it change the fact that the overwhelming majority of scientists are honest.

    In fact, even IF (we have investigations and trials in our country) a scientist illegally deleted FOIA requests it would not discredit him as a scientist, just as an administrator.

    http://www.realclimate.org/

  • Surferosad

    Q: How many climate sceptics does it take to change a lightbulb?

    A: None. It’s too early to say if the lightbulb needs changing.
    A: None. It’s more cost-effective to live in the dark.
    A: None. We only know how to screw the planet.
    A: None. Changing lightbulbs is for engineers.
    A: None. Eventually the lightbulbs will right themselves.
    A: First we need more research and we need more research about what that research will be.
    A: I can’t hear you! I can’t hear you! I can’t hear you!

  • DaveH

    Scientists are interested in their funding.

    Meteorologists would be funded whatever. As would oceanographers.

    But really, to say that scientists are human and want funding does not invalidate the science.

    You cannot equate scientific findings with some libertarian institute’s wanking.

    I didn’t mention any Laissez-faire ideals. This is your political bias speaking.

    No, this is me pre-empting and speaking past you and being EXASPERATED of finding politically motivated non-scientific crap from yet another group with links to the US extreme right. It took me about twenty minutes to find out that information about the IEA and I am furious that Delingpole if he were genuinely conscientious could have saved me the trouble.

    By its nature, there is no endeavour more honest, more amenable to self-correction than science. Yeah, humans are less than perfect.

    So, instead of reading papers and making my own opinions
    By all means read papers. By scientists.

    I should simply trust scientists. No matter what assumptions they make to come to their conclusions.

    Question your own assumptions first.

    No matter what errors they’ve been shown and refused to admit.

    Peer reviewed science or STFU.

    Sorry, I have no patience with this anti-science diatribe. WHAT errors they’ve been shown and refused to admit?

    Can you point me to any resource that takes a look at all of the possibilities for future warming, both the good and bad things it would cause, and a valid cost/benefit analysis of our various options to take?

    Start with the IPCC report, and I imagine also this video, but I haven’t seen the latter myself yet.

    http://www.realclimate.org

  • DaveH

    So, some people are strongly proposing that world policy should be dictated by an elite scientific community, to put things clear.

    No, world policy should be guided by reality. Scientists study nature and how it works. Thus they are well qualified to inform us about reality in the natural world.

    Scientists are “elite” only in that they know stuff. You do not become a scientist to get rich.

    Scientists don’t even have a set political affiliation, so the idea of a ruling scientific elite is fantasy.

  • Gordon

    Obviously Sean, you are biased. Did you look at the annotated code from the CRU??
    If this is indicative of scientific modelling in Climate Science, then it is a pseudoscience.

  • Sergey, VT

    >> IF one scientist deleted FOIA requests illegally it would not change the science nor would it change the fact that the overwhelming majority of scientists are honest.

    DaveH,
    I was not talking about science here, I was talking about Seans dihotomy of “honest scientists up against the arguments of a fringe collection of *politically-motivated * activists” How did you miss the subject?

    >>Sergey, when are you going to stop wrongly invoking logical fallacies? I can’t say you’re the only person on the internet who does it, but it makes you look like an * idiot*.

    What you writte and the way you argue makes me to believe you are a geophysicist/geologist . (All geophisicist whom I met while in University in Russia were unable to understand basics of philosophy or logic; they were almost animal kind. ) So I am really qurious: are you a geologist, David?

    >>“Ad Hominem” is Latin and a fallacy, so it must be wrong to examine credentials and disclose conflicts of interest, right? WRONG.

    OK, being a liberiterian puts you in conflict of intrerest and you can’t talk about temperature data fraud. Great thinking!

    If you are teaching then you probably grade your students based on their political views. All Republicans get D no matter how well they do homework. If they are Republicans they fail just because they are biased. On the other hand if they are liberals then they are neutral and unbiased.. Is that the case?

  • DaveH
  • DaveH

    If you are teaching then you probably grade your students based on their political views. All Republicans get D no matter how well they do homework. If they are Republicans they fail just because they are biased. On the other hand if they are liberals then they are neutral and unbiased.. Is that the case?

    What do you think?

    It’s like this:

    Students who cite politically-motivated think tanks left or right wing to support their argument will get very low marks for use of sources. Whereas students who cite academic literature from the relevant field will do somewhat better.

    It’s not Republicans that are the problem, but political extremists. Idealogues. On this issue the science-deniers happen to be right wing, but history has shown that left wing idealogues are just as bad.

  • Sergey, VT

    >>To ask how a person who deletes data can be honest is to admit to never having handled data. Besides, as you should know if you were making the slightest effort to keep up, NO RAW DATA WAS DELETED.

    DaveH,
    Why do you want to whitewash the fact that raw data were withheld from FOIA request? And why do you talk about honesty of overwhelming majority of scientists? It does not matter what overwhelming majority is, the matter is that Jones, Mann and Co were dishonest and what they did may be a crime. Hansen’s failure to release his raw data makes him suspect too. As you know he is going to get a court case because of this.

    You like to disqualify peoples opinion based on merely their political believes or past associations. If you do so you should admit that it is much more logical to disqualify people based on actual acts of dishonesty they committed. Judging only by the released code, request to delete emails owned by government you can see that CRU team is dishonest. And now let us use the same trick as you do: they are dishonest so I we should not trust them. Unlike you however I do not claim that making my opinion in this way is actually “based on science” (because I am not a Geophysicist, I am a Mathematician :-) )

  • Sergey, VT

    DaveH #77
    What you say sounds logical at first glance. The problem is that you decide at will what constitutes a think tank. You may decide to designate e.g. “Energy and Environment” as a think tank forum and designate e.g. Hansen as an unbiased person, not an activist in any way. Such designations will merely reflect your own bias. I see it as a problem. To be unbiased you must judge papers and reports based on their content. If they are wrong you should be able to tell why they are wrong.

    I like Steve McIntire because he argues based on content rather than on guilt by association and personality assassination. I have inclination to trust him more because unlike folks from realclimate he does not argue as a political activist.

    http://climateaudit.org/

  • DaveH

    What I say sounds logical because it is how academia works.

    you can see that CRU team is dishonest.
    More libel.

    As could be explained to a young child, but apparently not you, IF one scientist deleted FOIA requests illegally it would not change the science nor would it change the fact that the overwhelming majority of scientists are honest.

    In fact, even IF (we have investigations and trials in our country) a scientist illegally deleted FOIA requests it would not discredit him as a scientist, just as an administrator.

    Such designations will merely reflect your own bias.

    No faux postmodern bollocks, please. A think tank is a think tank, especially if it calls itself a think tank, and a scientist is a scientist.

    James Hansen is a scientist. The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank.

    I imagine you like Steve McIntyre because he is not a climatologist and his blog goes against the conclusion you don’t like which also happens to be the overwhelming scientific consensus as summarized by the apolitical UN body, the IPCC, in its reports.

    I like http://www.realclimate.org because it contains scientific information as presented by the actual climatologists, and helpful links to explanations of the IPCC reports.

    The news is I don’t like the scientific consensus either. However, not liking it doesn’t change reality.

  • Sergey, VT

    >>As could be explained to a young child, but apparently not you, IF one scientist deleted FOIA requests illegally it would not change the science

    As could be explained to a young child, but apparently not you, I am talking about dishonesty per se not even the content of science. This is procedural dishonesty which may or may not reflect on content, but it certanly make it suspect. Second, it was not just FOIA request, it was code with “the fudge factor.” And that is more direct evidence of fraud. Have you looked at that code David? Oh no, you are a geophysicist….Thirdly there were report from Russia and New Zeland about aledged tampering with data by CRU. These are sistematic signs of fraud. Stop whitewashing this, it makes you to look as disengineous biased person. We need to recollect raw data and recalculate all these timeseries and then only we will see who was wrong and who was right.

    >>James Hansen is a scientist. The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank.

    I have been working in environmental institute ( as a programmer). The institute is de-facto extreme -left thinktank, though it is set up within a conventional University within school of Environmental Studies. I have not met any “scientist” within that school who is not an activist in one or another way. And their environmental activism effect what they teach and the way they write. So I do not care how James Hansen desinates himself, for me he is a radical activist just as my former collegues.

    >>The news is I don’t like the scientific consensus either. However, not liking it doesn’t change reality.

    If I have evidence that leaders who coocked IPCC report were coocks, I can’t take it as a reality and when I see active supression of descent via illegitimate manipulation of peer-review process I can not call it consensus. “Climate Consensus” is a lie.

    So, what about the trends in the real climate? I do not really know about the reality and I prefer to be explicit agnostic on the issue. I did not examine all literature and I do not have my own opinion. I have sufficient evidence to distrust the lie of consensus and I do not think that any sane person should act based on a lie. So, I wrote to my representatives and senator asking them not to support any international agreement on climate. Not that VT liberlas would listen, but Climategate is good indication of the suspect fraud which even they can understand. Nobody is going to believe now in scientists in white robes flying unicorns and seeking only truth when there is evidence that they are coocks.

    So, IPCC is a toast and they deserve it. The sad thing is that now general public will have less respect for science and this is trully regretable: A small bunch of dishonest geophysicists spoiled the prestige and honor of everyone else.

  • Toiski

    Can somebody give me an approximation on this thing: If we burn through so much of the remaining fossil fuel reserves in the next few decades, that it becomes prohibitively expensive to use them, will we have done irreversible damage to the climate? (According to the consensus scientists).

    I think the real question should not be whether we’re going to limit emissions, it should be whether it’ll be cheaper to do so or to survive the change. Lowlands be damned, they can sink for all I care.

  • DaveH

    This is procedural dishonesty which may or may not reflect on content, but it certanly make it suspect. Wrong.

    As could be explained to a young child, but apparently not you, IF one scientist deleted FOIA requests illegally it would not change the science nor would it change the fact that the overwhelming majority of scientists are honest.

    In fact, even IF (we have investigations and trials in our country) a scientist illegally deleted FOIA requests it would not discredit him as a scientist, just as an administrator.

    Since you persist in repeating falsehoods on which you have been corrected, it must be concluded that you are a serial liar.

    Second, it was not just FOIA request, it was code with “the fudge factor.”

    Your reaction to scenarios and REM code demonstrates you are as much a programmer as you are philosopher.

    And that is more direct evidence of fraud.

    More libel. There’s nothing wrong with anonymity, but repeated anonymous libel is pure cowardice.

    Thirdly there were report from Russia and New Zeland about aledged tampering with data by CRU.

    See comments #41 and #59.

    If you followed the news, you would know the New Zealand story is nonsense too.

    We need to recollect raw data

    Go ahead. Then publish in a peer reviewed scientific journal.

    I have been working in environmental institute ( as a programmer). The institute is de-facto extreme -left thinktank, though it is set up within a conventional University within school of Environmental Studies.

    Your anecdotes might convince some plankton. On a particularly gullible day.

    If I have evidence that leaders who coocked IPCC report were coocks

    Cooks? Crooks? You don’t have such evidence either way. Well, maybe that they can whip up an omelette at home, idk.

    Since you persist in repeating falsehoods on which you have been corrected, it must be concluded that you are a serial liar.

    illegitimate manipulation of peer-review process

    No such thing happened.

    I can not call it consensus.

    If you are a serial liar and conspiracy theorist, you can avoid calling the scientific consensus a consensus, yes.

    but Climategate is good indication of the suspect fraud

    The only confirmed criminal activity is that the CRU servers were hacked and their emails stolen!

    Since you persist in repeating falsehoods on which you have been corrected, it must be concluded that you are a serial liar.

    A small bunch of dishonest geophysicists spoiled the prestige and honor of everyone else.
    Libel again.

    Since you persist in repeating falsehoods on which you have been corrected, it must be concluded that you are a serial liar.

    Smears about scientists, unfounded aspersions about the science, and demonstrable lies. That is all you have.

    Present the peer reviewed science or STFU.

    http://www.realclimate.org

  • MichaelG

    DaveH, could you please advise which Police investigation concluded that the release of the CRU emails was in any manner illegal?

  • http://blog.teledyn.com mrG

    it is all about repeatability, and falsification: what piece of data would you need to see to completely change your mind? Certainly the hockeystick is an oft-quoted tool of persuasion, but then …

    well, first the data itself: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11646-climate-myths-the-hockey-stick-graph-has-been-proven-wrong.html and similar debunkings suggest (as I believe) the stick itself is valid no matter how you look at it

    unless …

    unless you step back a bit … http://www.rense.com/general88/warming.htm — the charts on that page show the hockeystick to be valid, yes, but completely absurd and irrelevent to the picture, indeed they show that the stick only appears if you crop the data AT THAT POINT.

    So now, which is it? Is Rense.com making this up? (It is Rense after all) Or are the hockey fans hiding something? Is there a second source for the 1000-year and 10000 year data? Anyone know of any educated debunkings one way or the other?

  • DaveH

    MichaelG,

    Yes, it is possible it may turn out that they were leaked, in a manner that was not illegal (by someone who had the authority to access all the emails and data and release them).

    I revise my statement – There is currently no confirmed criminal activity surrounding the UEA emails.

    Mr G,

    The Medieval Warm Period was a local not global phenomenon.

    The info you want is at http://www.realclimate.org, and in the IPCC report, and in the MSM eg http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7592575.stm and on wikipedia….

  • Sergey, VT

    >>As could be explained to a young child, but apparently not you, IF one scientist deleted FOIA requests illegally it would not change the science nor would it change the fact that the overwhelming majority of scientists are honest.

    It will make him suspect and will say nothing about the majority.

    >>>In fact, even IF (we have investigations and trials in our country) a scientist illegally deleted FOIA requests it would not discredit him as a scientist, just as an administrator.

    Again, an intellegent person will think about reason why the record was deleted. What the scientist has to hide? But as you are not an intellectual person, you can not put yourself in shoes of an intellectual person and can not think of how any normal person would think.

    >>>Since you persist in repeating falsehoods on which you have been corrected, it must be concluded that you are a serial liar.

    You did not correct anithing you just expressed your dumb geophysicist opinion and what you said does not count as an intellignent argument. Only becuase of your arrogance you may assume that your “corrected” something.

    >>Smears about scientists, unfounded aspersions about the science, and demonstrable lies.

    You did not demonstrate anithing, all what you have a posture, smeares, ad-hominem arguments .

    In any case Dave I started feeling as if I am talking to an animal or some sort of American version of a Russian Communist commisare who can throw allegations without any considerations and shut people without any investigation. Your tone may be appropriate for a geophysicist union, but here it looks outlandish. There is no point in having a debate with an intellectual thug like you are. Repeating one sentence in bold in differnt places of your message also suggests that you may be a paranoid.

    If you defend possible fraud from inquery, you should be treated as a potential criminal.People like you can not be reasoned with they can be only destroed and I hope that Jim Inhofe and other Republicans will find the way to defund junk scientists like you and put you out of business in the nearest future. I will send them modest contribution of $25 per person to support their campaigns.
    with utmost disgust,
    sergey

  • DaveH

    Again, an intellegent person will think about reason why the record was deleted. What the scientist has to hide?

    We do not know that ANY were deleted.

    As could be explained to a young child, but apparently not you, IF (big IF) one scientist deleted FOIA requests illegally it would not change the science nor would it change the fact that the overwhelming majority of scientists are honest.

    Nor would it automatically mean they had anything to hide. Also, we have trials in this country.

    But, we do not know that ANY were deleted.

    You realise that the IPCC is NOT one scientist, nor is it one university. It is the global Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change. Its job is to reflect the worldwide scientific consensus.

    The very idea that this allegation based on flimsy circumstantial evidence which has nothing to do with the published scientific papers from many different sources invalidates all those years of scientific research, especially when so much of the data is available to the public, is frankly ridiculous.

    If you defend possible fraud from inquery, you should be treated as a potential criminal.
    If you beat your wife you should be treated as a potential criminal.

    People like you can not be reasoned with they can be only destroed

    Okaaay…

  • Sergey, VT

    >>Nor would it automatically mean they had anything to hide. Also, we have trials in this country.

    Actually, all what I suggested is that “lost” aka deleted raw data from CRU should be recollected and time series should be recalculated. Let NASA and CRU release their raw data and all their algorithms and if I can reproduce their calculations I may even agree with them. At the moment I merely suspect that the raw data would considerably alter the so called “science of global warming.” Yes we have many scientists in IPCC, but we have only few data centers and if data is compromised only in 2 places all research may be at fault. My suspicions may be wrong but they are reasonable. The fact is that neither NASA nor CRU t release many of their crucial data and algorithms in spite of FOIA requests and if you deny this one then you are a denier. And that is sick to deny the fact. (May data sets are available, so what? It is a demagogy to talk about *some* available data sets when FOIA requests are still not answered by CRU and Goddard Institute)

    But I agree with both of your sentences above. Let them have a trial and if found guilty that should be followed by swift execution. And that is what Jim Inhofe wants to do while you want to shield potential fraud from just inquiry with your demagogy which only a geophysicist could take seriously. But nobody else is going to take your demagogy seriously.

  • Brian137

    Among the several topics discussed in the OP was an article by Randi, who has now posted a follow-up article titled “I Am Not ‘Denying’ Anything,” which clarifies his stance. The article can be accessed here:
    http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/swift-blog/806-i-am-not-qdenyingq-anything.html

    The following is a brief quote.

    “I do not, and did not, deny the established fact — arrived at by extensive scientific research — that average global temperatures have increased by a bit less than one Celsius degree. My commentary was concerned with my amateur confusion about the myriad of natural phenomena that obviously bring about worldwide climate changes and whether we can properly assign the cause to anthropogenic influences. Yes, I’m aware of the massive release of energy — mostly heat — that we’ve produced by exhuming and burning oil, natural gas, and coal. We’ve also attacked forests and turned them into fuel by converting them into paper at further energy expense, paper that is also burned, in turn. My remarks, again, are directed at the complexity of determining whether this GW is anthropogenic or not. I do not deny that possibility. In fact, I accept it as quite probable. I remain respectful of science and its participants.”

    My bold.

  • DaveH

    Let them have a trial

    No. Investigation first, and then a hearing IF and only IF any wrongdoing were found.

    and if found guilty that should be followed by swift execution.

    Er, yeah. We’ll put that one down to translation.

    The fact is that neither NASA nor CRU release many of their crucial data

    NASA have released their entire gridded temperature anomaly data. All of it. Temperature anomalies are what they study, and all the GISTEMP data is available for download.

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp

    CRU don’t even own all the data they use.

    If they haven’t cleared the backlog of FOIA requests, so what?

    As far as the science goes, which is what matters, there are plenty data, and the scientific papers which anyone with a subscription can read, and the IPCC report and http://www.realclimate.org

  • http://vacua.blogspot.com Jim Harrison

    Those of us who are old enough to remember how boring doctrinaire Marxists used to be will find the zealots of neoliberalism rather familiar. Simple economic ideas such as the old lefty bit about surplus value and the new righty bit about the omnipotence of market mechanisms are like Chinese finger puzzles. Apparently some folks are quite incapable of escaping them. Meanwhile, the Sergey’s “Let them have a trial and if found guilty that should be followed by swift execution” line, if actually meant, harkens back to the bloodthirstiness of previous ideologues, some of whom were doubtless also named Sergey. Of course for the time being it is just puerile.

  • mitch

    #3 grad student

    can you cite papers that quantify the magnitude of the greenhouse effect with direct measurement? preferrably a rigorously instrumented satellite measurement. not trying to be a troll here, just seeking knowledge.

  • OXO

    This discussion is just pointless hot air. All it proves is:

    Never argue with an idiot, they drag you down to their level and beat you with experience

    Irrespective of which side you are on..

  • Sergey, VT

    Jim # 92, The ideas about free market and federalism belong to founders of this country, they are not new. If you have no clues about a subject why to bring the subject in?

    >>Meanwhile, the Sergey’s “Let them have a trial and if found guilty that should be followed by swift execution” line, if actually meant, harkens back to the bloodthirstiness of previous ideologues.

    Of course I would not use word “execution” in its literal meaning. I mean it to be the penalty for fraud, something which Bernie Madoff got or something which tobacco companies got for their fraud. Do you have any problem with what was done to tobacco companies?

    Also, the old ideology which was probably not so boring to you sometime ago never relied on trial. There were just executions without trial.

    >>>some of whom were doubtless also named Sergey.
    I like this one…It is like talking to a young teenager. You say that you are old yet, still you did not learn how to stay within limits of decency. OK, let me explain you what you parents should have explained you: ” Some criminals were doubtless also named Jim. Should this fact make you look as criminal? Of course not. Secondly, decent kids do not make fun of other kids names. Now, please go and play in schoolyard with your friends and do not be mean to them”

  • http://www.astro.multivax.de:8000/helbig/helbig.html Phillip Helbig

    “Yes, I’m aware of the massive release of energy — mostly heat — that we’ve produced by exhuming and burning oil, natural gas, and coal. We’ve also attacked forests and turned them into fuel by converting them into paper at further energy expense, paper that is also burned, in turn. My remarks, again, are directed at the complexity of determining whether this GW is anthropogenic or not.”

    This is Randi’s reply to the criticism of his post. Read it at

    http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/swift-blog/806-i-am-not-qdenyingq-anything.html

    Randi thinks that GW is a result of the heat released by burning stuff, and not the result of the greenhouse effect. A back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that the heat released as a result of human activities is negligible. Randi needs to do some highschool-physics level reading before spouting such nonsense.

  • DaveH

    @93

    http://www.ipcc.ch – You can dl the tech summary of the latest report from there.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/data-sources/ – loads and loads and loads of lovely data

  • OXO

    @97

    >>http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/data-sources/ – loads and loads and loads of lovely data

    All massaged by members of the Climate Cult? No thanks..

  • DaveH

    All massaged by members of the Climate Cult? No thanks.

    That’s data, or links to data, from scientists all around the world.

    From labs in Japan, to universities in Europe, to American state universities, Caltech, the Antartic and Artic weather stations, MIT, NASA…

    Including raw data from satellites.

    If you think science is a cult what are you doing on a science blog?

    I hope you’re wearing your tinfoil hat.

    Incidentally, the online Flat Earth Society argue that there is a NASA conspiracy (spaceflight isn’t possible, and the sun is a NASA spotlight 3000 miles away, you see…)

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/data-sources/

  • Surferosad
  • Brian137

    OXO,
    You said,
    “loads and loads and loads of lovely data

    All massaged by members of the Climate Cult? No thanks..”

    One of the questions raised in the OP was “…how do we make judgments about who to believe?”

    I am very interested in the question of how people form their beliefs. Have you reached any conclusions concerning AGW, or are you an “agnostic?” If you have reached some conclusions about climate, did you arrive at them solely on your own, or did you base them, at least in part, on some sources? If the latter, how did you make judgments about which sources to rely upon?

  • OXO

    @101

    It’s pretty easy.

    1. Start by disbelieving everything, then accept evidence slowly, only if it makes sense.

    2. Pay no heed to:

    – the reputation of the data providers, whether they are NL, Phd, or whatever.

    – Anybody who has a vested interest in a particular result.

    3. Apply Occams Razor

    The warming is perfectly well explained by the natural cycles of ice ages which have been coming and going for millions of years, There is plenty of evidence for it in the geological record.

    No need for any other explaination.

  • Brian137

    OXO,
    Thank you for responding to my question.

  • http://www.columbiadisaster.info davesmith_au

    “Of course, there is no such thing as a purely objective and judgment-free presentation of data, no matter how scrupulously the data itself may be collected; if nothing else, we make choices about what data to present. And a side-by-side comparison chart like this can’t help but give a slightly misleading impression of the relative merits of the arguments, by putting the conclusions of an overwhelming majority of honest scientists up against the arguments of a fringe collection of politically-motivated activists.”

    And the second sentance of this paragraph shows clearly that no objective presentation was made here

    Then we have those in the comments sending us to the great bastion of truth, Wikipedia. Pu-lease! Any moron can (and often does) edit Wikipedia, it may not say the same thing today on a topic as it did yesterday, or will tomorrow. Of course, there’s plenty of Science Apologists monitoring it to make sure none of its readers dare think for themselves…

  • Brian137

    Happy Holidays.

  • DaveH

    The warming is perfectly well explained by the natural cycles of ice ages which have been coming and going for millions of years, There is plenty of evidence for it in the geological record.

    No need for any other explaination.

    Except that the warming is NOT perfectly well explained by the natural cycles of ice ages. NO climatologists, even skeptics, claim this.

  • OXO

    @106

    Except that the warming is NOT perfectly well explained by the natural cycles of ice ages. NO climatologists, even skeptics, claim this.

    It is, and they do. You should read more.

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  • DaveH

    Who?

  • OXO

    @109

    “Who”

    You, you, it’s you! Read those books!

    When you grow out of those short pants and juvenile argumentative ways, you may discover that there is no substitute for doing your own work, read books for yourself, evaluate all options, then come to a reasonable conclusion. Don’t expect to be spoon-fed by others.

    Be a free thinker!

  • DaveH

    Timewaster.

    :rolls eyes.

  • Brian137

    Hi OXO,
    One of Sean’s points in the OP is that he and I do not have the time to pursue extensive and scrupulous investigations of every topic (so little time, so much to investigate, sometimes little inclination), so we do, in fact, make judgments about whom to believe in some areas. Maybe you have put in lots of hours studying this one topic, but you would have done so at the expense of spending that time in other ways. So the question of how we decide whom to believe is a relevant and, to me, an interesting one.

  • OXO

    Hi Brian,

    It’s a personal choice. We choose to research those topics which interest us the most. For me, the high level of bunkum spouted on this one, combined with the fanatical actions of the believers just sucked me in.

    I’m not going to be a famous scientist in this life, but following the example of the greats in doing your own investigations and take nothing at face value can’t be the wrong approach.

    Actually what annoys me most is those who claim that “scientific consensus” is a fact to be taken into consideration when weighing the argument for and against AGW.

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  • Brian137

    OXO,

    Actually what annoys me most is those who claim that “scientific consensus” is a fact to be taken into consideration when weighing the argument for and against AGW.

    I make no claim as to what other people should or should not take into account because that is up to each one of them. I enjoy the diversity of human perspectives and have often learned from those I initially thought were wrong. In my case, however, the seeming consensus among climate scientists counted a lot. If the IPCC had concluded that the apparent warming was not anthropogenic, then that opinion would have counted a lot also.

    Of course, each person is a unique individual, but I think I understand the basic mathematical and scientific temperament. I feel that most science- and math-oriented people that I have met are, in many respects related to those disciplines, like me, so many of my feelings about their methodology and analysis come from introspection and projection. My guess is that many of them think and act roughly the way I would. I trust myself to do a good job, so, at least to some extent, I trust them. Of course, as with all the rest of us, they could still be wrong, but I just don’t see anyone else with what I would guess is a better chance of being right.

  • Neal J. King

    An interesting signature of the enhanced greenhouse effect phenomenon is the simultaneous temperature rise at ground level while the temperature at stratospheric levels decreases.

    This is not predicted by any other proposed explanation for warming – and it has been detected, from what I have heard.

  • moptop

    That’s it, Neal King, that’s the one they seem to have gotten right. Of course, another cause of stratospheric cooling is a drop in TSI.

  • moptop

    OK, I looked at it. Here is the shorter version:

    – Skeptical Criticism (sometimes distorted)
    – Assurance skeptic is wrong, (seldom supported)

    Little better than the “rhetorical proofs” that one sees by the warmies all over the web. I call it “Modus Lefty”, because it is not limited to climate alarmists:

    A) Skeptical Argument
    B) Rejection
    C) Rhetorical Proof of rejection (Usually, but not always, in the form of a rhetorical question.)

  • Neal J. King

    moptop:

    But a drop in TSI is not compatible with the overall warming over the last 150 years. The cooling in the stratosphere is of the same timescale as the warming; whereas the putative drop in TSI would be applied (with reservations) only to the last 10 years.

    Keep your timescales straight.

  • moptop

    Well, the overal warming over the last 150 yrs is based on the “work” of Phil Jones and his merry crew of temperature adjusters.

    I wasn’t suggesting that drop in TSI accounted for all of stratospheric cooling, just that AGW is not the only explanation, and that point about strat cooling seems to be just about the only thing the models have got right, so it might be fair to consider it an interesting coincidence for now. Maybe if the models get a couple more predictions right…

    Oh yeah, and a warming trend coming out of the Little Ice Age… very impressive. What? You are saying their was no Little Ice Age? Based on whose work? Briffa?

  • Gary

    by Sean

    “Of course, there is no such thing as a purely objective and judgment-free presentation of data, no matter how scrupulously the data itself may be collected; if nothing else, we make choices about what data to present.”

    Data collection is rarely accomplished without error. Same with the choosing.

    “And a side-by-side comparison chart like this can’t help but give a slightly misleading impression of the relative merits of the arguments, by putting the conclusions of an overwhelming majority of honest scientists up against the arguments of a fringe collection of politically-motivated activists.”

    By which source of apolitical natural legitimacy is it only you who can decide which are the “honest conclusions” and which are merely only “fringe arguments”?

    “…when people are arguing about issues that necessarily require expert knowledge that not everyone can possibly take the time to acquire for themselves, how do we make judgments about who to believe?”

    And what of us with expert knowledge who don’t believe as you do?

    “But part of that information has to include the nature of the people making arguments on either side of a debate. If one side consists of scientists who have spent years trying to understand a complicated system, and the other is a ragtag collection of individuals with perfectly obvious vested interests in the outcome, it makes sense to evaluate their claims accordingly.”

    Especially when scientists with spent years of investment in their own trying to understand a complicated system have perfectly obvious vested interests in ensuring their time was well-spent, not necessarily rationally; ragtag-like.

    “By all means, we should apply our own powers of reason to every interesting problem. But when our reasoning leads to some conclusion at odds with the apparent consensus of a lot of smart people who seem to know what they’re talking about … the burden is on us to understand the nature of that difference and try to reconcile it, not to take refuge in “experts don’t know everything” and related anti-intellectual piffle.”
    Why should you presume the anti-intellectual piffle is not your own?

  • moptop

    Sorry to pile on to your good post Gary.

    “when people are arguing about issues that necessarily require expert knowledge that not everyone can possibly take the time to acquire for themselves”

    The funny thing is that PCA is commonly used by engineers, who do have the expert knowledge to understand their use. People who understand the uses and limitations, and the assumptions implicit in the use of PCA; these are the people who have the questions. They don’t want “re-assurances” that people who understand the problem better than them, “lots of smart people”, say its OK, they want to know why their training in this area is wrong, at a minimum.

    “the burden is on us to understand the nature of that difference and try to reconcile it,” Uh, that is what we are doing. If this was some arcane area of particle physics without immediate impact on our lives; not an area where proponents are demanding trillions of dollars, then perhaps no further burden exists, but that is not the case here.

  • Gary

    Accept Defeat: The Neuroscience of Screwing Up

    http://www.wired.com/magazine/2009/12/fail_accept_defeat/

    “Kevin Dunbar is a researcher who studies how scientists study things — how they fail and succeed….”

    “by Sean

    “Of course, there is no such thing as a purely objective and judgment-free presentation of data, no matter how scrupulously the data itself may be collected; if nothing else, we make choices about what data to present.”

    So true.

  • Brian137

    Especially when scientists with spent years of investment in their own trying to understand a complicated system have perfectly obvious vested interests in ensuring their time was well-spent,….

    Gary,
    I hope the following series of questions is not overly intrusive. Your responses might bear on the point Sean raised about “how do we make judgments about who to believe?” Please feel free to equivocate or ignore. If you tell me to go fly a kite, I will try to oblige, weather permitting. Well, here goes:

    If you were (are) a professional climate scientist, who had (has) “spent years of investment in their own trying to understand a complicated system,” what do you envision your, Gary’s, “vested interests” to be? Would (Do) these interests affect your, Gary’s, science? If so, how? If you answer, please do not speculate about attitudes or actions of third parties. I am interested only in answers about you, personally. Thank you.

  • moptop

    Brian,
    Gary seems perfectly capable of answering for himself, but I would like to ask you a question: “If the question for you personally is not about the science, but about “who to believe?”, why do you even bother trying to understand the scientific issues at all. My guess is that you will say that you don’t, because it is impossible without spending years learning it. Then I ask, what gives you the percieved authority to spout off about it on what is putatively a science blog?

    It took decades and decades to work out the intracacies of calculus, theorums by many mathematicians that were worked out over time even centuries. Yet, when I went to school, it was a three semester course, and at the end of it, you had a pretty good handle on calculus.

    Also, look at Copenhagen and the demands by many warmy believers that the West hand over hundreds of billions, trillions of dollars over time, based partly on the work of this hypothetical climate scientist, http://www.sltrib.com/ci_13960030?source=rss So given the nature of this knowledge the climate scientist has, he has no obligation to share it?

    Can you answer that question? My bet is no.

  • Brian137

    moptop,
    I will try to respond to at least some of your points:

    …why do you even bother trying to understand the scientific issues at all.

    Well, how about because doing so is a lot of fun – the main motive for most of my leisure-time activities. (Reginald Selkirk, please do not pedantically hound me about how my last “sentence” is a fragment).

    Then I ask, what gives you the percieved authority to spout off about it on what is putatively a science blog?

    Again, I thought we were having fun. I claim no “authority” other than possession of a computer with a keyboard. I did realize that my questions to Gary might seem aggressive, and I apologized for any offense he might take. My apology was no rhetorical device – it was an attempt at affability and accomodation.

    Thing is, I am sincerely interested in any answers Gary might give – apparently, 99.9% of our DNA is the same, Gary and me. Of course, you cannot speak for Gary, but if you agree with him that “…scientists… have perfectly obvious vested interests….,” I invite you to answer my questions yourself, but, as is only fair, about yourself.

  • Brian137

    Also, look at Copenhagen and the demands by many warmy believers that the West hand over hundreds of billions, trillions of dollars over time, based partly on the work of this hypothetical climate scientist, http://www.sltrib.com/ci_13960030?source=rss So given the nature of this knowledge the climate scientist has, he has no obligation to share it?

    Can you answer that question? My bet is no.

    moptop,
    The front section of the newspaper is really boring, and I hardly ever watch TV. I am waiting for this to come out as a video game.

  • moptop

    whatever…

  • Brian137

    To love and be loved,
    Oh Fortunate One,
    Fulfill your heart now.
    It’s time to have fun.

  • Gary

    124. Brian137 Says:

    “Gary,
    I hope the following series of questions is not overly intrusive.”

    I hope that they would try to be. I’m not inclined to hold your hand while you tear up. ;)

    “”If you were (are) a professional climate scientist, who had (has) “spent years of investment in their own trying to understand a complicated system,”…”

    I’m not a professional climate scientist. Never have been.

    I’m a degreed inorganic chemist who retired after 2+ decades teaching Astronomy. I’ve professionally presented on matters of comparative planetary geology and atmospherics (surface-atmosphere interactions).

    I’m not an absolute expert on any of it (as much as I would like to be; who is?)

    I know what I know, and what I think I know, and I know enough to suspect that others don’t know as much as they think I should think they know.

    “what do you envision your, Gary’s, “vested interests” to be?

    Knowing best-known fact from fiction.

    ” Would (Do) these interests affect your, Gary’s, science? If so, how? If you answer, please do not speculate about attitudes or actions of third parties. I am interested only in answers about you, personally. Thank you.”

    I think that too many people think that they’re smarter than they actually are, and some of them think they’re actually smarter than the rest of us.

    I’ve chosen to pick on Sean because he’s smart, and because he isn’t a climate scientist either.

    Picking on climate scientists is no longer sport; it’s become like beating up on the handicap.

    I’m wondering why accomplished physicists are so slow on the uptake. ;)

  • Brian137

    “Gary,

    I hope the following series of questions is not overly intrusive.”

    I hope that they would try to be. I’m not inclined to hold your hand while you tear up. ;)

    I was just trying to indicate the intent of my questions – that I was interested in understanding your perspective. I have enjoyed your comments. Thank you for responding.

  • Gary

    Brian,

    You’ll get farther being more intrusive. ;)

  • Gary

    Notice Sean doesn’t do FOIA just like the climies.

  • Brian137

    Gary Says:
    January 3rd, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Brian,

    You’ll get farther being more intrusive. ;)

    What is your deepest desire?

  • Gary

    Er, drilling Anwar?

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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] cosmicvariance.com .

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