Friday, May 14, 2010

In defence of Climate Research; stop the criticism!


It seems that climate scientists are pretty thin skinned when it comes to criticism. They want it to stop; especially the political attacks on the climate change advocates. So they have published an "open letter" basically saying stop the criticism we're right, so there. They invoke names like Galileo, Pasteur, Darwin, and Einstein claiming association with these past scientists and implying that their theory of anthropogenic global warming is on the same level as those past greats. May be, may be not, I don't remember any of those past greats asking for special consideration, their theories spoke eloquently and survived decades (centuries even) of scrutiny and controversy.
Meanwhile Al Gore is doing really well, bought a new house, did you hear?  Yes, just a modest $9 million seaside villa; nothing special really. Back to the scientists, check this column from Libertas Post, I wish I had said this.  

12 comments:

  1. Why should scientists tolerate sustained political attacks? Scientists expect attacks from other scientists who know what they are talking about, not ignorant politicians.

    From Libertaspost,

    "You can’t just break the public trust with a scandal like Climategate, and then ask for an end to the “politicization” of science by telling the skeptics to shut up and stop being “deniers”. Where I come from, we call that elitism."

    First, 'Climategate' wasn't a scandal. Conservatives and climate deniers created one through a campaign of misinformation. The only 'scandal' was the glacier data that the IPCC admitted had procedural errors leading to a wrong conclusion. The rest of the 1000-page report stands.

    Next, the climate denialists ARE politically motivated. The science is good and sound. Politicians should be using the data to create policy. They aren't doing this, I surmise, because they don't like what they need to do.

    'Elitism' isn't a bad thing. I would hope our Olympic hockey team are elite players. I would hope my doctor is an elite medical professional. I would hope the climate scientists are elite researchers. To dismiss the work of the 'elitist' scientists and instead listen to ignorant buffoons is stupid.

    A bit off-topic but it appears there is no evidence for wind turbines causing health effects: http://www.thestar.com/news/ontario/article/812479--wind-turbines-pose-no-health-hazard-says-ontario-s-top-doc?bn=1

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  2. Did I ever tell you I didn't like the term "denialists"? I don't. One reason is that I was born in a concentration camp in Germany after WWII - so it's a sensitive issue for me and my family, something that few can imagine. For the dimwitted global warmers like that piece of shit James Hansen (one the of elite pieces of shit) to compare they're pitiful cause to denying the Holocaust just makes me see red.
    As for your other comments - everyone is politically motivated (you too). My problem is that when knowledgeable people think they can tell every one else how to lives their lives - that they somehow know whats best for us all - well thats my problem. The rest is bullshit.

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  3. My original typed answer crashed so I'll be brief.

    A skeptic, as I define it, is someone who analyzes claims, verifies their source and looks for procedural flaws. A denialist doesn't bother to look at the evidence for a claim and usually presents their own 'facts' as a refutation.

    I see little distinction between an evolution-denier, holocaust-denier and AGW 'skeptic'. Lord Moncton is a denier, as is the writer of the Libertaspost. These people don't have the education or training to present their 'facts' on equal footing with real climate scientists.

    Potholer54 on Youtube, for example, is a skeptic of the deniers and is a retired science journalist. His latest video exposes the flaws with The Petition Project and the 31,000 so-called scientists who signed it against AGW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZzwRwFDXw0&playnext_from=TL&videos=3iqUKAsmTJQ&feature=sub

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  4. I wish I had your faith in "the scientists". I know that many of them would also be in favour of ridding humans of bad genes too, the NAZI's had many scientist allies. I bet I can get a eugenics petition from thousands as well. They must know what they are doing because..well..they are scientists (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_authority) and the rest of us are dumb, stupid and have no right to enjoy the fruits of our labour or pursue any interests we may choose while the planet is in "danger". We must divert some of our resources (the bill is not determined - its a blank cheque) to help save all of us from imminent peril. They must be right, because they have proof of what will happen in the future. (I wish I was that smart).
    OK, I'll stop the sarcasm, I'm very skeptical of anyone that thinks they have the right by virtue of "intellect", election by majority (like the 22% that voted for the Harper government in 2008), or just about any claim, to divert my resources from my control.

    My view is still "this too shall pass". The environmental delusion (that I think is waning from the world's agenda) will be replaced by the more pressing issues of economic survival soon. Government agendas are changing as I write this - the misallocated security resources we are spending on the G8/G20 meetings soon will clearly show where world priorities are to be placed....I hope.

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  5. BTW, if you have 12 minutes give a listen to this very sensible view on the global warming scare:
    http://media.mises.org/mp3/audioarticles/2912_Thies.mp3

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  6. "I wish I had your faith in "the scientists". I know that many of them would also be in favour of ridding humans of bad genes too, the NAZI's had many scientist allies."

    I'm used to reading statements like this from scientifically illiterate fundamentalist Christians but from an atheist and former science teacher? How convenient that every climate science researcher shares Nazi philosophy! I'm surprised you didn't throw in that AGW is part of the New World Order.

    Scientists are just as flawed as everyone else except that the methodology of science is, arguably, the greatest tool of mankind since it imposes group rationality on individual irrationalism. As Feynman said, "science is what we do to keep from lying to ourselves."

    I'm not ignorant of the economics of AGW. In fact, partly by reading your blog I've learned that economic solutions need to play a bigger role than I previously assumed. However, "the scientists" have done their work, the reality is upon us. The fix is going to be very expensive - we have a lot of past 'sins' to pay for. It's time to create the least-awful bitter pill and fix this mess.

    My children have seventy or more years to live through what those in their seventies have unwittingly done in allowing the dumping of CO2 into the air in the name of economic prosperity.

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  7. Remind me again why I should give weight to the opinions of an economist on the science of global warming (I did listen to it)?

    If I wanted to know if Car X had many mechanical problems, I'd ask a mechanic who works on cars. I'd be a fool to ask an economist, unless I'd want to know the cost of owning Car X. But even at that, the economist should be talking to the mechanic to determine the reliability. Thies should be asking questions like, "what is the economic impact of Greening our energy systems?" and not pretend he's an expert in a field he has no training in.

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  8. Everyone likes to use NAZI philosophy because it points to where seemingly innocuous and apparently benevolent thinking might lead, and I agree. The "new world order" bit, well I think it is really old order with a different twist.
    In all cases "principle" is paramount (in this case the principle is use of coercion - don't use it, it doesn't work anyway). I had this conversation with my wife recently - a law forcing people to wear a helmet when driving a motorcycle or use a seatbelt etc. is a bad law (in my world). While I may think it's foolish not to take appropriate safety precautions other people may not. I need to respect them and their right to choose and not force my opinions/judgements on them even though I think I know better. I learned that idea of acceptance through years of dealing with students and raising my own kids - not to impose my values on them (that does not prevent me from making suggestions). It works at the interpersonal level and its part of the libertarian idea.
    I can't argue with Prof. Feynman, he was correct, but science has no opinion on human action, and I believe economics (a part of human action) is as much a science as physics or biology. Like any science, economics has theories. Some theories of economics are false (Keynesian, Marxist economics etc) some are more correct. I like Austrian economics, I think they have it spot on. So even though economists may not be "expert" on AGW, their opinions are valuable to me and the rest of society because AGW deals with human action.

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  9. Economics should be about what to do if the science of AGW is correct, not questioning the science. Scientists don't make economic policy, economists shouldn't make science claims.

    Interestingly, here is a study that shows when a scientific result conflicts with a person's belief, the person tends to view the issue as being outside the realm of science. In other words, the tendency is to reject the science instead of one's belief.

    Article: http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2010/05/when-science-clashes-with-belief-make-science-impotent.ars

    The original research is here but it requires a subscription: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/123328312/abstract

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  10. Interesting article, but I don't see how it relates to my views. My answer above stands. As for disagreeing with scientists excuse me, but that IS science. I don't disagree that there is global warming - never did, I just disagree with a THEORY. It's a THEORY, that can fall with more information like any other THEORY. Even Einstein's theories are in jeopardy because they fail to include Dark Matter and Dark Energy. There will need to be a new theory at some point. Evolution is a theory, but in 150 years it has been unassailable! As for AGW, that is a theory that apparently many scientists and non-scientists including virtually all mainstream media organizations subscribe to. I think they are wrong. Similarly there are theories in economics that again are supported by virtually all mainstream economists including governmental ones (BoC, the Fed etc.) and all mainstream media and again, I think they are wrong. The Austrian school has predicted much of what has happened and its early days yet - I like that THEORY.
    You are making excuses, why not just accept that I disagree and I have every right too?

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  11. As Michael Specter said in a recent TED talk,

    "...and listen, everyone's entitled to their opinion... but you know what you're not entitled too? You're not entitled to your own facts."

    http://www.ted.com/talks/michael_specter_the_danger_of_science_denial.html

    I've never tried to block your right to disagree, I've pointed out the errors in the claims you present. Why persist? You have political aspirations and the desire to make public policy, therefore you need to carry a heavier burden - you need to ensure you know the facts before you make policy.

    It's been a number of years since you taught science but 'theory' does not mean 'guess' or 'hypothesis'. In science, a THEORY is an explanation for all known facts with the power to predict new facts. The current climate theory is that CO2 is the primary cause of global warming. Disagree? Fine, but with what facts? Everything you've presented has a strong rebuttal. I propose you disagree simply on gut instinct and it would be foolish to make global decisions just because it 'feels right'.

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  12. I may not be entitled to my own facts but facts are open to interpretation and as you are well aware there are many places offering contrary views and "facts" can be manipulated by all sides.
    As for public policy, thanks for the confidence that I may have any influence, I don't believe that, even though I persist at it. I don't think governments should be involved in this kind of policy making at any level in the first place, certainly global decisions should not be made, that is what I advocate.
    As far as the concept of AGW Theory, I actually think it may be the other way round - the CO2 is the result of warming not the cause - but I know you must have a strong rebuttal to that :-). I'm willing to wait and see who is right and do nothing in the meantime and I think that is what is going to happen given other realities that will be more pressing.
    As for THEORY, lets see who is right. Is this a predictive theory or will it fade away like all other "end of the world" theories?

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