Radical essays on science & technology

by Judith Curry

The Dublin based Livewire Publications has produced a new collection of essays titled Science & Capital – Radical Essays on Science & Technology, with the intention to;

“bring together some of the more radical essays on science and technology written over the years – so as to highlight some of the dangers inherent in the blind trust we are often encouraged to place in science and scientific experts”.

Table of Contents:

  • Chapter 1: From L’Encyclopedie des Nuisances, by Jaime Semprum
  • Chapter 2: And Yet It Moves, by Boy Igor
  • Chapter 3: No to Electronic Watchtowers, Elements of Reflection onVideo Surveillance, by the collective Smile, You’re Being Filmed
  • Chapter 4: How to Defend Society against Science. Extracts from Paul Feyerabend
  • Chapter 5: Science & Authority, by Michael Bakunin
  • Chapter 6: Further links to reading materials

The book is reviewed by libcom.org, some excerpts:

The lengthy introduction by Phil Meyler, (aka Phil Mailer of “Portugal, the Impossible Revolution?”) has a critique of some of the perils of modern science, since its substitution of religion, and our often uncritical acceptance of “scientific experts”. It analyses the Sokal affair, a critique of post modernist ideas on science, as well as “junk science”, the internet and the spectacle of modern commodity technology.

The recurring theme running through the essays is to critique claims for the supposed impartiality of science. Rather, these essays investigate science’s role as an ‘objective’ authority in the service of class society. Science as an elitist technological innovator of commodity production and consumption is contrasted with the possibilities for a liberated scientific activity within new forms of social organisation. In the last (and oldest) essay, Bakunin’s prescient and penetrating observations on the tensions between the authoritarian and potential libertarian uses of science still resonate from the 19th century to the present and are echoed through the other essays in this book;

“Science, as a moral entity existing outside of the universal social life and represented by a corporation of licensed savants, should be liquidated and widely diffused among the masses. Called upon to represent henceforth the collective consciousness of society, science must in a real sense become everybody’s property. In this way, without losing thereby anything of its universal character, of which it can never divest itself without ceasing to be science, and while continuing to concern itself with general causes, general conditions, and general relations of things and individuals, it will merge in fact with immediate and real life of all individuals.”

This is a stimulating book that questions many dominant assumptions about the function of science and technology in capitalism.

Paul Feyerabend
.
I googled around, trying to find copies or source material for these essays, and I encountered Paul Feyerabend‘s 1975 essay How to Defend Society Against Science.  The full essay is a classic and well worth reading.  Some excerpts:

I want to defend society and its inhabitants from all ideologies, science included.

Any ideology that breaks the hold a comprehensive system of thought has on the minds of men contributes to the liberation of man. Any ideology that makes man question inherited beliefs is an aid to enlightenment. A truth that reigns without checks and balances is a tyrant who must be overthrown, and any falsehood that can aid us in the over throw of this tyrant is to be welcomed. It follows that seventeenth- and eighteenth-century science indeed was an instrument of liberation and enlightenment. It does not follow that science is bound to remain such an instrument. There is nothing inherent in science or in any other ideology that makes it essentially liberating. Ideologies can deteriorate and become stupid religions. Look at Marxism. And that the science of today is very different from the science of 1650 is evident at the most superficial glance.

For example, consider the role science now plays in education. Scientific “facts” are taught at a very early age and in the very same manner in which religious “facts” were taught only a century ago. There is no attempt to waken the critical abilities of the pupil so that he may be able to see things in perspective. At the universities the situation is even worse, for indoctrination is here carried out in a much more systematic manner. In society at large the judgement of the scientist is received with the same reverence as the judgement of bishops and cardinals was accepted not too long ago.

Nobody would deny that it is commendable to speak the truth and wicked to tell lies. Nobody would deny that – and yet nobody knows what such an attitude amounts to. So it is easy to twist matters and to change allegiance to truth in one’s everyday affairs into allegiance to the Truth of an ideology which is nothing but the dogmatic defense of that ideology. And it is of course not true that we have to follow the truth. Human life is guided by many ideas. Truth is one of them. Freedom and mental independence are others. If Truth, as conceived by some ideologists, conflicts with freedom, then we have a choice. We may abandon freedom. But we may also abandon Truth. My criticism of modern science is that it inhibits freedom of thought.

Against method

[T]heories cannot be justified and their excellence cannot be shown without reference to other theories. We may explain the success of a theory by reference to a more comprehensive theory (we may explain the success of Newton’s theory by using the general theory of relativity); and we may explain our preference for it by comparing it with other theories.

Such a comparison does not establish the intrinsic excellence of the theory we have chosen. As a matter of fact, the theory we have chosen may be pretty lousy. It may contain contradictions, it may conflict with well-known facts, it may be cumbersome, unclear, ad hoc in decisive places, and so on. But it may still be better than any other theory that is available at the time. It may in fact be the best lousy theory there is. Nor are the standards of judgement chosen in an absolute manner. Our sophistication increases with every choice we make, and so do our standards. Standards compete just as theories compete and we choose the standards most appropriate to the historical situation in which the choice occurs. The rejected alternatives (theories; standards; “facts”) are not eliminated. They serve as correctives (after all, we may have made the wrong choice) and they also explain the content of the preferred views (we understand relativity better when we understand the structure of its competitors. . . [Knowledge] forces our mind to make imaginative choices and thus makes it grow. It makes our mind capable of choosing, imagining, criticising.

Against results

The most important consequence is that there must be a formal separation between state and science just as there is now a formal separation between state and church. Science may influence society but only to the extent to which any political or other pressure group is permitted to influence society. Scientists may be consulted on important projects but the final judgement must be left to the democratically elected consulting bodies. These bodies will consist mainly of laymen. Will the laymen be able to come to a correct judgement? Most certainly, for the competence, the complications and the successes of science are vastly exaggerated. One of the most exhilarating experiences is to see how a lawyer, who is a layman, can find holes in the testimony, the technical testimony, of the most advanced expert and thus prepare the jury for its verdict. Science is not a closed book that is understood only after years of training. It is an intellectual discipline that can be examined and criticised by anyone who is interested and that looks difficult and profound only because of a systematic campaign of obfuscation carried out by many scientists (though, I am happy to say, not by all). Organs of the state should never hesitate to reject the judgement of scientists when they have reason for doing so.

Education and myth

The progress of science, of good science depends on novel ideas and on intellectual freedom: science has very often been advanced by outsiders (remember that Bohr and Einstein regarded themselves as outsiders). Will not many people make the wrong choice and end up in a deadend? Well, that depends on what you mean by a “dead end.” Most scientists today are devoid of ideas, full of fear, intent on producing some paltry result so that they can add to the flood of inane papers that now constitutes “scientific progress” in many areas. And, besides, what is more important? To lead a life which one has chosen with open eyes, or to spend one’s time in the nervous attempt of avoiding what some not so intelligent people call “dead ends”?

I’ve pulled some of the statements from the essay that are interesting to me.  There are some pretty radical and strange statements in the essay that I did not excerpt. Not surprisingly, this essay has been controversial (see the Wikipedia article).  An essay at nutters.org discusses Feyerabend’s arguments and concludes:

Feyerabend, with reference to Mill and Darwinism, provides us with a recipe for scientific progress, or at least a recipe for an environment which encourages it. This is distinctly different from what other philosophers of science have attempted to provide; namely, a formal account of “the scientific method”. In closing, I would like to briefly discuss this distinction, and argue as to why Feyerabend’s approach is the better one.

It is a common mistake to think of Feyerabend as “anti-science”. He is only anti-science to the extent that he is pro-freedom, and sees science as a tyrant. He does not claim that science is dogma, but rather that science has become dogmatic, as does any ideology which gains an effective monopoly. 

Science is not the only worthwhile human goal, and within science as a goal there is no one proper method. Perhaps, if the task of science is ever completed, we will be able to look back over its history and discuss whether any particular method would have been sufficient to the entire task. In the meantime, we are better off with many methods than with dogmatic adherence to any single method. So let us have many methods, and many spirited debates as to why one method is better than another. Let the practitioners of each method boast with their results, the progress that they make, the technologies they develop, the discoveries they bring to light, their explanatory or predictive power; and let them adopt all the best techniques of their opponents as they recognise them.

It may well be that science deserves an exalted seat in the pantheon of knowledge, but, on the other hand, maybe it is no more or less important than other kinds of knowledge. Whatever the case, if Feyerabend and Mill are right, all branches of knowledge should adopt an attitude of humility, and encourage diversity of opinion rather than engaging in a process of elimination. They should do this for the sake of their own progress, as well as for intellectual liberty in general.

Recent blog essays on Feyerabend are found here:

JC comment:  Some provocative ideas here, as we contemplate the complexity of the climate change debate – not only the complex physical system, but the broader implications of change, impacts, and proposed solutions and the participation of of the public in this debate.

The role that climate science plays in dogma and ideology is a concern of mine (see here and here and here), providing a concrete example of some of the concerns raised by Feyerabend.

326 responses to “Radical essays on science & technology

  1. The catch 22 is money.

    Since at least WW2, ‘big’ science has been dependent on the state for funding, and the government has an political agenda, and mobilises science in support of that agenda (eg: bigger bombs). At the same time, scientists with particular agendas must lobby the government to believe in their views so that the money is forthcoming.

    This mutual dependence leads to a joint agenda, and the erosion of any alternative points of view.

    Examples are legion: Teller and US paranoia over the USSR having the bomb; von Braun and the US need to beat the USSR to the moon; Eco-science and the need to get the votes of the Green lobby.

    Climate Science is just the latest where government needs and the agendas of specific groups of scientists co-incide, leading to the dollar spigots being opened.

    I always hated Feyerabend, and the view that scientists could be dogmatic and tools in the hands of others, but with Climate Science and the Climategate emails we see it bare and fully exposed.

    Of course this is oversimplified, but I don’t think it is a strawman. Sometimes the zeitgeist means science and government are being blown in the same direction, and woe betide anyone with contrary views.

    • Models and Money: Simplistic models that could be understood by the bureaucrats distributing public funds and sold to the public as truth.

      Climate models, solar models and economic models are all mixtures of facts and fantasies that incorrectly forecast CO2-induced global warming, stable H-fusion with neutrinos that oscillate away, and green jobs galore!

      Today the public is beginning to grasp that reality matches none of these model predictions, and world leaders are trapped like rats on a sinking ship, unable to make global temperatures rise, stable H-fusion reactors to meet future energy needs, or jobs out of model fantasies.

      • Wrong, Oliver. I am totally correct. Ike did not mention the sun. It would be mildly interesting if you would explain why somebody is trying to hide the fact of whatever your discovery is regarding iron sun…blah…blah…blah, for the last four decades. But this really isn’t the place for it.

      • “I am totally correct” and “the science is settled” are myopic conclusions of those who cherry-picked experimental data

        http://www.omatumr.com/Photographs/PhotoGallerySolarOutput2.htm

        But cannot make global temperatures rise, stable H-fusion reactors to meet future energy needs, or economic growth out of model fantasies.

      • Oliver,

        You do the same thing josh does. I said I am totally correct about Ike not saying anything about the sun in that clip. I didn’t say anything about the science being settled, or stable H-fusion reactors, or any of that other nonsense. You boys just make things up. That’s why nobody takes you boys seriously. You boys are just shameless attention seekers.

      • Don, You boys? Has Oliver morphed into multiple persons or his solar brilliance making you squint. BTW I do agree Oliver is being a bit testier(?) than normal

      • Radicalism in science has grown in response to attempts by world governments to impose a one-world, “correct” view of the universe.

        One ending to this unfolding drama is described in the book George Orwell wrote in 1948 and titled “1984” to show what life would be like if government gained total control of information:

        http://www.online-literature.com/orwell/1984/

        We have progressed along this path, despite Eisenhower’s warning in Jan 1961, as documented in the 1998 CSPAN recording of NASA hiding isotope data from the 1995 probe of Jupiter:

  2. The role that climate science plays in dogma and ideology is a concern of mine (see here and here and here), providing a concrete example of some of the concerns raised by Feyerabend.

    Oliver will be along shortly with the youtube of Eisenhower predicting all of this 50 years ago. Funny how it takes intellectuals 50 years to see what a General saw.

    • Yes, P.E., I too was a left-wing environmentalist until late 2009, when Climategate emails and documents suddenly revealed why government scientists had hidden or manipulated data on the Sun for the previous four decades.

      Here is Ike’s 1961 warning of the demise of science:

      • Oliver,

        I listened three times, but I didn’t hear him mention the sun. I must have blinked. Anyway, I think your story would get more attention, if you said the sun was made of gold. Iron is not interesting. In fact it is dull and the sun doesn’t look like it is made of a lusterless metal. Ancient cultures always represented the sun with objects made of gold, not iron. They must have been tipped off by alien visitors, from planets where all research is privately funded. Gold. Think about it. Or maybe go with platinum. Iron is not working for you.

      • Don is partially correct. Eisenhower did not specifically mention Earth’s climate, nor the Sun, nor the Galileo probe of Jupiter.

        Sunlight comes from the photosphere, which consists almost entirely of the two lightest elements (91% H and 9% He: Element #1 and #2 ). All heavier elements there together (Element numbers 3,4,5,6, . .92) comprise only ~0.2%!

        Why? Mass fractionation in the Sun. That same answer came from precise measurements of:
        a.) S-products in the photosphere, and
        b.) Isotopes from the Sun (Solar Wind).

        http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2005/pdf/1033.pdf

  3. Mathis Hampel

    ie, no epistemic hierarchy is natural.

  4. Nothing provocative here for me, only the obvious. I am glad that Feyerabend is getting some space here. Brava Judith!

  5. incandecentbulb

    There is nothing more antithetical to a dispassionate search for truth for its own sake than a tenured professor in the governmental education complex of Western academia.

    • Agree. Crackpots are no danger at all. Hystory is the teacher.

      • Or Herstory. :P

        Andrew

      • History! LOL.

      • Agree. Crackpots are no danger at all. Hystory is the teacher.

        Since you mentioned crackpot, I put together a list of the ones that regularly comment on this site LINK DELETED- JC. This is the equivalent of a FAQ so we don’t have to continue to explain what quack theories these commenters are peddling.

      • Funny. The list is surprisingly short, although I’d question whether tony makes the grade.

      • I debated whether to put Tony on there as well, but the effort he put into that list of anecdotal historical evidence is astonishing to me. All of that is subjective and qualitative at best and would never pass as scientific data.

      • Robert Austin

        WebHub,
        I concur with your list to some extent but why did you leave out Jim Hansen?

      • WebHub,
        I concur with your list to some extent but why did you leave out Jim Hansen?

        Can you fill that one in for me? Does Hansen have a scientific theory of AGW that differs fundamentally from someone like Raymond Pierrehumbert?

      • Web –

        “All of that is subjective and qualitative at best and would never pass as scientific data”

        Feyerabend could have addressed much of his work to you, specifically. You seem to have an unnecessarily (and unjustifiably) harsh demarcation between that which is admissible for our understanding, and that which is not. Science appears to be the new religion, and if it’s not science, you’re not interested.

        What you misunderstand is that tonyb’s anecdotes are not trying to “pass as scientific data” – they are being what they are. If you’re not interested in them fine, but don’t pretend they are attempting to be something they are not. To me they are interesting, and the fact that they don’t come from your bible of acceptability doesn’t deter me one bit.

        What has science to say about disaster, or catastrophe? Nothing – it is blind, deaf and dumb before such things, which is why when Michael Mann says the science has ‘spoken’ you should add his name to your list of crackpots. Climate has meaning to people, and that meaning is often lost when reduced to numbers.

        I’ll mention Milikan’s oildrop again here – the relevant perspectives as to why scientists fooled themselves are psychology and sociology, and you’ll find an anecdote much more informative than a quantitative study.

        Science isn’t the only tool in a human beings toolbox for understanding. Sometimes it isn’t even the most appropriate.

      • steven mosher

        Web,

        Interesting that you put Tony on a list of “theories”. As far as I know Tony hasnt espoused a theory. What he has observed is that a good portion of climate history is incomplete. The temperature record is not, if I want to pin its ears to the wall, anything remotely close to “scientific” data. The temperature record is derived from a compilation of historical documents that happen to have numbers in them. The study of these historical records uses a branch of mathematics called statistics. Nothing, very close to what one would call “science.” More like statistically assisted history.

        Tony compiles additional historical evidence. I don’t happen to think that the information he compiles is very useful, but it’s not a theory to collect such information and point to it. Finally, I’d be very careful before throwing out all documentary evidence. Depending on how one draws the line about documents you could end up throwing out some paleo.

      • @ Web, you should an entry for Anteros. Climate sensitivity is wrong because Millikan oil drop.

      • steven mosher

        Rust.

        “Climate sensitivity is wrong because Millikan oil drop.”

        No, what Ant (perhaps) and I would argue is that in some areas of climate science it seems like scientists are fooling themselves. That is there are definite signs of inadequate reflection. For example, if you want to study the HS, psychology and sociology might be better tools to use than statistics. because if you use statistics you’ll be stuck asking yourself, “how could anybody do this in good conscience?”

        As for climate sensitivity, ask your self this. Our best science explains that volcanoes can cool the planet for temporary periods. Explain why the IPCC continues to use a hodgepodge of GCMs, some that represent volcanoes and some that explicitly do not? Explain why with the planet at stake we continue to use some models for forecasting that hindcast poorly? Weird. it’s nothing like the idealized scientific method so many here tout ( on both sides ).

      • Mosh,

        “how could anybody do this in good conscience?”

        You’re not looking at it the right way. When the most important thing is the cause, how can you not do this in good conscience?

        Put on your Captain Planet tards and cape and ask that question again.

      • Mosher –

        You surmise correctly about what I would argue.

        And the lessons (not) learned from Milikan’s experiments (or their aftermath) are extremely relevant to the forces at play in ‘estimations’ of climate sensitivity. It is an area where objectivity is very hard to come by, and self-fooling is a piece of cake.

      • Ant, Here’s a bleeping anecdote for you. My dad used to tell me about the Millikan oil drop experiment that he had to do for an engineering school lab while at U Wisconsin. He said it about drove him crazy. I can’t ask him again about why it specifically drove him crazy because he has since died. My anecdotal memories are faulty; it’s better to get a grip and move on.

        Notice that all the crackpot ideas occupy distinct categories. The tonyb category seems to be in creative historical imagining, and it comes with its own cheerleading section. I won’t remove it because the responses seem overly defensive for such a weak scientific argument.

      • Just cracking wise, WebHub. Everybody knows that Jim (coal trains of death) Hansen is the very embodiment of consensus climate science and thus is ineligible for crackpotdom.

      • Web –
        You missed a opportunity to learn one of the great lessons from the history of science by saying “My anecdotal memories are faulty; it’s better to get a grip and move on”

        When you characterise tonyb’s historical research as a “weak scientific argument” I think you completely miss what everybody has been saying. It isn’t a scientific argument – which is why you reject it [we think to your loss] and it’s at the heart of why Feyerabend said science becomes no different to a fundamentalist religion when we totally exclude other ways of gaining understanding about the Universe, including ourselves.

      • FWIW –

        I think that tonyb’s work on these threads are highly suggestive of an argument – that his collection of anecdotal data (perhaps he would, as others have, questioned whether it should be described as anecdotal) undermines the assertions of climate scientists who think that the degree of recent warming is likely anomalous (controlling for “natural” forcings).

        To me, it is not particularly skeptical to assert that he isn’t presenting an argument.

        I don’t think that his argument amounts to a “crackpot” argument, however – although I do think that it is a worthy target for skeptical analysis.

      • Go back and reread that comment thread from tonyb’s top-level post:

        http://judithcurry.com/2011/12/01/the-long-slow-thaw/#comment-145881

        It’s kind of funny in that tonyb shows a painting of a snow scene near Antwerp, Belgium, indicative of the Little Ice Age. I point out that currently there is a cross-country ski center within 70 miles of Antwerp. A couple of commenters can’t figure out the connection. And then EFS_Junor points out that none of the measurements appear to be calibrated, which is a very good point. He eventually gets rewarded for his keen observations when everyone goes postal on him.

        These anecdotal arguments are just plain stupid and they drive everyone stir crazy.

      • steven mosher

        Joshua,

        I have no doubt that tony has an argument to make, but he hasn’t proffered a theory.

        What Web misses, of course, is that documentary evidence does play a role in some climate reconstructions. For example, I listened to Phil Jones at AGU and he had a nice chart, I think it was CET, where documentary evidence had been used to fill in the record. What was missing from tony’s piece I thought was some kind of repeatable method of going from words in the text to numbers in a graph. What Web forgets is that all documentary evidence of past temperatures is ink on paper..to be utterly literal and empiricist about it.
        I don’t think one can draw a bright epistemic line between the two between stories and records. One can draw a practical line. Tony’s “evidence” is good for making an argument, I’m not so sure it adds much to our “knowledge” about past global averages. But, I’m willing to review a proceedure for turning the stories into numbers. As it stands its not actionable. Its not that its “unscientific” ,its not practical.

        One could look at it this way. The averages compiled to date, give us our best estimate of the average temperature, but we realize that it might have been warmer or colder. Tony’s anecdotes merely reinforce the contingency of our “knowledge” they dont supplant that knowledge.

        Web can of course keep tony as an example of somebody giving an alternative theory.. but empirically tony is proffering additional “facts”.
        That web cant tell the difference between these two, isnt his fault. Theory and observation are impossible to separate cleanly.

      • Joshua –

        “To me, it is not particularly skeptical to assert that he isn’t presenting an argument”

        Well, that’s handy – I can’t see anyone on this thread asserting such a thing. There is someone [me] asserting that he isn’t making a scientific argument, which speaks to exactly what this thread is about – that there is an unfortunate perception that science ‘stands apart’ in its usefulness as a way of understanding the world.

        Feyerabend’s contention is that many other sources or perspectives [say, historical anecdotes] have much to teach us and ‘scientism’ can become just as fundamentalist as can any religion.

        Discussion of tonyb’s writing illustrates this tendency perfectly – it is dismissed because it contains no quantifiable data. Not science = not useful/an aid to truth.
        How is this different from dismissing something because it is not referenced in a particular religious text?

      • On self-reflection of where I stand, I agree with mosh. My choice of tonyb is not perfect, as it his is not a completely worked out theory yet, but it had so many holes that I couldn’t pass it up. Other candidates are Girma’s one note crusade, DocMartyn’s budding theory, and Cap’n Dallas’s wandering thoughts. The latter two show some clear motivation to explore the available science, so I give them some slack and we can hash these ideas out on this kind of forum. That is what open, free-form science is all about, free from dogma.

      • Web, Arrack’s argument is testable and is being tested since about 2003 when the AMOC flow started being measured with any form of accuracy. So far there appears to be no change in the flow rate which matches up well with the lack of OHC increase and the stalling of global temperatures. I wouldn’t place any confidence in cause and effect based on this, but it will be interesting to see if they move in tandem in the future.

      • Crackpots are the fun part of history or herstory. They tend to be a little obsessive about their ideas, so small doses are recommended it they are to be the most entertaining. They all have a unique view, one might say frame of reference, of things :)

        http://redneckphysics.blogspot.com/2012/01/never-ending-debate.html

        Which leads them down the rabbet holes of unconventional reasoning. Silly things like, what if man wasn’t so good at removing snow and clearing land to grow food. Or not so good at clearing water ways of ice to transport goods. Rivers could clog with ice, fields stay covered with snow late in the year. Heck, glacial bound lakes might grow and form large areas like Siberia for example, it to vast lakes.

        Naw!, that’s crazy talk :)

      • Steven,
        Arno Arrak is on the list because he is persistent in pushing his pet theory, to the exclusion of considering the basic science objectively. He is persistent because just today he just had to call AGW a “carbon dioxide fairy tale”

        http://judithcurry.com/2012/01/14/historical-perspective-on-the-russian-heat-wave/#comment-159114

        He also wrote a book, the basis for which was rejected by both Nature and Science. He goes on to whine about this awkward turn of events in the foreword to the book and then references Lysenko! Huge points on the Crackpot Index for that remark! Congrats Arno for making the list, BTW

      • steven –

        I have no doubt that tony has an argument to make, but he hasn’t proffered a theory.

        I’m glad that you can get beyond your fantasized visions through a “window into [my] soul” long enough to post a more well-grounded response.

        I guess I need to understand better how you him presenting an argument that is not based on a theory. I see tonyb’s posts as suggesting an argument that relies on evidence to persuade readers towards a particular conclusion. It seems to me that if an argument is not rooted in a theory, then the argument is incoherent. tonyb’s posts don’t strike me as incoherent.

        It seems to me that tonyb’s theory is that the evidence he provides disproves the theory that recent temperature trends are anomalous (due to anthropogenic influences). Are you saying that an argument that a given theory doesn’t explain all the available and relevant evidence is not in itself a theory?

        It is true that he doesn’t seem to present a repeatable methodology for going from words in a text to numbers in a graph – is that in itself why you think he presents an argument but not a theory?

      • Web thats fair.
        I think Willis would be a good addition to your list as he has a couple of theories..
        Now, I do think tony exhibits a certain mindset that is predominantly skeptical.. lets call it the resistence to averaging….

      • WHT you again display your inability to distinguish disconfirmation from counter-theory, and by extension, sceptics from countertheorists.

        @ Anteros – I disagree that Tonyb’s work does not entail “scientific argument” – I see much in his work that sets all sorts of constraints on the real past world he is describing. Evidence of ice is surely evidence of an ambient temperature below 0C? Such evidence surely forms a scientific argument, as it can disconfirm an assertion that the temperature was above zero. (or vice versa, of course)

        It is not, however, a counter-theory, nor any the less valuable for it.

      • Tom,

        You don’t get it. The humans who write history, are only human. They lie about things like ice. Trees and upside down sediments, always tell the truth. The climate science has spoken, even though WHT has thoroughly discredited himself.

      • randomengineer

        Mosher

        Maybe tonyb’s stuff is more useful than you think

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/01/16/criegee_biradicals/print.html

        This looks like a previously unseen regulatory mechanism. I wonder how forestation etc estimates jibe with tonyb’s stuff. It sure doesn’t seem to have any correlation to the hockey stick.

  6. Dr. Curry excepted, of course!

    But the other tenured professors and their desperate-for-tenure followers will be after you, Judith, you questioning rebrobate, you…. :-)

  7. Well, we are in a bind aren’t we? We have to simultanously protect society from Scientific *and* Anti-Scientific Forces.

    Obama will help us. ;)

    Andrew

  8. A very provocative article. Because never before have I read a fantasy/rant about the dangers of “blind trust” in science.

    Well, except ever time I read Climate Etc.

    • Hello again Joshua.

      If it was physicists trying to determine whether an anti-muon did this or that, trust would be given.

      However, you surely can’t deny that there is an element of ‘Agenda Science’ in AGW? Blind trust needs to be replaced with a degree of ‘what are they trying to push on us now?’.

      • cui bono –

        However, you surely can’t deny that there is an element of ‘Agenda Science’ in AGW?

        I think that there is an element of “agenda science” on both sides of the debate. I also think that the amount of fear-mongering and doom-saying I read about “blind trust” in science outpaces the amount of “blind trust in science” that I see. By a wide margin.

        My point is that I don’t see what is “provocative” about this. It’s pretty much standard: Nothing that I haven’t seen time after time in post after post in thread after thread here, at WUWT, etc. The basic message is fine. I think that skepticism and caution w/r/t the value of science is warranted, laudable, important, valid, desirable, commendable, noble, and meritorious.

        I know that “blind trust” in science – as if it is immune to various biases – would be misplaced. It seems abundantly obvious to me.

        What I don’t get is why people feel it is necessary to hand-wring about it endlessly.

        One might even ask “to whose benefit” is all this concern about “blind trust in science?”

    • Joshua – far too simplistic of a characterization. People on both sides on this blog like to quote or reference to, Galileo and Feynman, among others. Here’s Feyerabend on both:

      “The church at the time of Galileo was much more faithful to reason than Galileo himself, and also took into consideration the ethical and social consequences of Galileo’s doctrine. Its verdict against Galileo was rational and just, and revisionism can be legitimized solely for motives of political opportunism.”

      “The withdrawal of philosophy into a “professional” shell of its own has had disastrous consequences. The younger generation of physicists, the Feynmans, the Schwingers, etc., may be very bright; they may be more intelligent than their predecessors, than Bohr, Einstein, Schrödinger, Boltzmann, Mach and so on. But they are uncivilized savages, they lack in philosophical depth – and this is the fault of the very same idea of professionalism which you are now defending.”

      • BillC –

        Sure. People on both sides also use Nazi metaphors to characterize the other side of the debate.

        My question is what is the value of cautionary tales about “blind trust” in science? Is it similar to the value of using Nazi metaphors: i.e., none, other than to further polarize the discussion?

        Which do you think more likely: Encountering someone who has a “blind trust in science” or encountering someone who exploits rhetoric about “blind trust in science” to mischaracterize someone else who doesn’t trust science blindly but sees reason to give credence to scientific opinions and to think it is relevant if a wide consensus of scientific experts fall out on a certain side of a debate?

        At some level, discussing the dangers of a “blind trust in science” is a useful intellectual exercise, but at the level to which I find it I think it is similar to “realists” using the label of “denier” for all who are skeptical (no quotation marks) about climate change.

      • Joshua – actually, I don’t know that I can make that call. Both seem likely. Kids are home, more later.

    • You have never heard of science being used for political ends? Fascinating. This explains a lot. Oliver will be disappointed. You have not watched the Eisenhower video. I am beginning to think it is the most important post here.

      • David W –

        You have never heard of science being used for political ends?

        Not at all. I have been, for years,

        very much impressed

        by the prescience of Eisenhower’s views on the military-industrial complex and his warnings about science. I agree that the issues he raised are extremely important.

        My point is that the characterization of having a “blind trust” in science is an overstatement – used for rhetorical purposes.

        What’s interesting is that more typically what I’ve seen is people on the left bringing up Eisenhower’s “military-industrial complex” and people on the right dismissing it as conspiracy-mongering.

    • Joshua –

      A very provocative article. Because never before have I read a fantasy/rant about the dangers of “blind trust” in science.

      Well, except every time I read Climate Etc.”

      That’s quiet rabid for you, and one of your sweeping “every” statements.

      It is slightly ironic, too, because you like to characterise the alarmed, the alarming and the alarmist as “realists”. When exposed to some rather pertinent observations about the human capacity for creating demagogic, fundamentalist thought systems, you respond with the characterisations of “fantasy” and “rant”.

      Scepticism – something you claim to have been brought up with – is most usefully applied to those things we are prone to take for granted. For the majority of us, that is the fiction that “science is the only way to approach understanding”.

      Feyerabend’s enormous contribution to enlightenment was simply to spell out that simple observation.

      • Anteros –

        It is slightly ironic, too, because you like to characterise the alarmed, the alarming and the alarmist as “realists”.

        I’ve explained my usage of “realist” before. I use “realist” in the same sense that I use “skeptic.” I feel that the two terms are equally non-judgmental. The quotes indicate that I use the terms as a qualified descriptor. Just as there are some “realists” who are not realists, there are some “skeptics” who are not skeptics.

        That’s quiet rabid for you, and one of your sweeping “every” statements.

        Point taken. “Every” is an overstatement. Often would be more accurate.

        For the majority of us, that is the fiction that “science is the only way to approach understanding”.

        That doesn’t jibe with my experience. I know few people who think the way you just described. Perhaps that is in part due to our different nationalities, but just look at the % of Americans who hold religious beliefs that are not well supported by a scientific approach to understanding. I know of very few people who have a “blind trust” in science. If the point is to discuss at what degree of trust in science is merited, that makes a lot of sense. But I think that creating a straw man and from that generalizing about the majority of those in disagreement on a very controversial subject, is merely a fairly useless rhetorical device.

      • Judith,

        Why did you remove my comment on josh’s latest gratuitous bigoted insult to religious Americans-namely Christians: “but just look at the % of Americans who hold religious beliefs that are not well supported by a scientific approach to understanding.” And you left the insult intact. Don’t you know that he is talking about you? Don’t you think that josh is capable of defending his blathering? Please tell me what you object to in my comment and I will try to modify it to meet your ill-defined and haphazardly enforced moderation policy. Is the problem that I was too blunt? I can get josh to advise me on how to weasel word it.

      • Don your post was in violation of blog rules. Objectionable statements include

        You are really an ignorant, bigoted little hypocrite, joshy.

      • Joshua –

        Obviously I’ll have to disagree about the use of “realist” and “skeptic”, and I would suggest that you are in a minority of one if you think these are equivalent. The next most frequent term used to abuse non-alarmists (after ‘denier’) is “fake skeptic”. Have a quick visit to Romm’s or Tamino’s to see how widespread this form of abuse is. To just use “skeptic” is the most non-neutral term anybody could use – barring “denier”. There is absolutely no equivalent with “realist” – it doesn’t exist. “Skeptic” is rhetorical abuse, and the way that language works means what is relevant is how it is taken. It is not taken neutrally – and the last 5 or 10 thousand comments of yours lead me to suspect that it is not meant neutrally either. Most of your ire seems to be that “skeptics” are something different from that meant by a word you heard growing up. It seems such a trivial angle on which to attack people – and fundamentally misunderstands how language works. See them as just non-believers (neutral) and you could save yourself 300 comments a week.

        Except, of course, that you find it ‘fun’. OK, but then the motivation isn’t to find a neutral terminology, it is an exercise in pure tribalism.

        ***

        With your last paragraph I think we may be in some agreement – I’m well aware of the number of people who have a rigid view of the world and see the bible as the only source of ‘truth’. You say –

        “I know of very few people who have a “blind trust” in science

        Well, on this thread, Web’ comes to mind, but what about scientists themselves? I suspect the vast majority feel that science is the only sure route to a true understanding of the Universe – which is exactly where Feyerabend starts to see a major problem – as do I. You just end up with a fundamentalist religion under another name.

        This doesn’t (to my mind) especially apply to either side of the climate debate even though believers like to think the science has ‘spoken’ for their side. I actually think that science has precious little to do with which side of the divide people end up on – which we’ve mentioned before.
        I’d agree that debating how much ‘trust’ we should place in science would be valuable, and I’d probably go further – like Mike Hulme – to ask why other approaches can’t be placed alongside science when we talk about the climate.

      • Thanks, Judith. I will try to tone it down.

        josh,

        Why are you always bringing up religion? Why is this type of offensive nonsense necessary?

        “but just look at the % of Americans who hold religious beliefs that are not well supported by a scientific approach to understanding.”

        Aren’t you the confused self-professed Jewish agnostic, who can’t decide whether or not there is a God? Your level of scientific understanding can’t be any better than the folks you look down on for holding religious beliefs-specifically conservative Republican Christians. Are liberal Jewish Democrats unscientific?

        No person of any religious faith needs to show you any scientific proof to justify their choice to believe. Aren’t you pro-choice…?

      • Anteros –

        I could use skeptic and realist in opposition to each other as the most neutral terms. Those on one side the debate see themselves as realists and those on the other side of the debate see themselves as skeptics. But I think that on both sides there are combatants for whom those terms are not accurate, so I use the terms in quotations to imply a putative connotation.

        Just as you see the term “skeptic” as denigrating, so would many people view your preferred terms of warmist or believer, or my usage of “realist.” I don’t think that there are any perfect terms, but I think that opposing skeptic (without quotes) with warmist or believer is certainly not neutral. And with believer in particular, it isn’t accurate (see below). If you have a suggestion of an accurate but more neutral term, I’d be happy to consider using it. Opposing skeptic with believer or warmist don’t cut it for me.

        See them as just non-believers (neutral) and you could save yourself 300 comments a week.

        This is clearly how you view it, as you have stated often that you see some clear imbalance in the debate. For example, you see some vast imbalance in the doom-saying on the two sides, respectively. That’s not how I see the debate. I don’t think that “skeptics” can generally be described as “non-believers.” They, as a rule, believe in things also – sometimes things that are, IMO, no less far-fetched than what you seem to think mots “realists” believe. They are just as fervent in their beliefs. Using the term believer for only those on one side of the debate seems very inaccurate to me.

        Most of your ire seems to be that “skeptics” are something different from that meant by a word you heard growing up. It seems such a trivial angle on which to attack people – and fundamentally misunderstands how language works.

        You are mistaking criticism for ire, Anteros. In fact, there seems to be a distinct note of ire running throughout that post, ironically. Is it only criticism? Perhaps, I guess. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between the two.

        Well, on this thread, Web’ comes to mind, but what about scientists themselves? I suspect the vast majority feel that science is the only sure route to a true understanding of the Universe – which is exactly where Feyerabend starts to see a major problem – as do I.

        I doubt that Web has a “blind trust in science” and that is the notion that I objected to. As to whether he thinks that science is the “only sure route to a true understanding of the Universe,” I don’t know – but even there, I don’t see such a believe as equivalent to having a “blind trust in science.”

        even though believers like to think the science has ‘spoken’ for their side.

        “Skeptics” are believers also, Anteros, and one of the things that they believe is that the science has ‘spoken’ for their side.

      • Joshua –

        I think there is obviously many areas where our characterisations don’t overlap.
        Perhaps it would help me to assert that I don’t see myself or any other reasonable (and predominantly realist) critic of the consensus view – which includes the prediction of disaster – in your delineation of “skeptic”.

        I think it would be not just appropriate for you to remember to add ‘some’ when you mention “skeptics”, but to also note that you are focusing on the most extreme, the most politically minded, the nuttiest, the most facile-reasoning and quite often the most unpleasant of people who largely don’t have much interest in climatology. Why not engage with people who have more defend-able reasons for being sceptical about CAGW?

        Those people [the extremists you see] certainly carry strong beliefs, but for most of us who doubt the predictions of doom, we just doubt the predictions of doom – and that only pedantically carries the same weight of ‘belief’.

      • Good move, josh. Keep your mouth shut. It’s indefensible:

        “but just look at the % of Americans who hold religious beliefs that are not well supported by a scientific approach to understanding.”

        I wonder how this country has survived with such a high % of folks with religious beliefs not well supported by science. Our Founding Fathers were reputedly religious, to a man. Various types of Christians, I think. How those primitives could have gotten this thing off the ground without science is a real mystery.

      • Anteros –

        Perhaps it would help me to assert that I don’t see myself or any other reasonable (and predominantly realist) critic of the consensus view – which includes the prediction of disaster – in your delineation of “skeptic”.

        Skepticism is a part of “skepticism,” just as realism is a part of “realism.” I don’t think there are any perfect terms. I think that skepticism about climate change is valid at a number of different levels. I think that Judith’s skepticism about quantification of uncertainty is valid (even if I’m not sure about the “answer” in that scientific argument), I think that someone like Pielke Jr.’s skepticism about the economics of climate change policy is valid (even if I’m not sure about the “answer” in that economic argument), I think that skepticism about tribalism among climate scientists is valid (even if I’m not sure how deeply said tribalism has corrupted the scientific debate), etc. The difficult for me is in distinguishing the skepticism there from the :”:skepticism.”

        I think it would be not just appropriate for you to remember to add ‘some’ when you mention “skeptics”,

        I agree – which is why when you point out that I failed to add “some” I acknowledge the point.

        but to also note that you are focusing on the most extreme, the most politically minded, the nuttiest, the most facile-reasoning and quite often the most unpleasant of people who largely don’t have much interest in climatology. Why not engage with people who have more defend-able reasons for being sceptical about CAGW?

        My point is that I have trouble distinguishing between the two when skeptics don’t seem particularly interested in differentiating themselves from “skeptics.” When someone like Judith routinely says that there is some “vast asymmetry” in the debate, that becomes difficult. Likewise, when you say that there is some vast asymmetry in the doom-saying, that becomes difficult. You seem like a reasonable-enough fellow, but when you state a vast difference where I see none, in order to understand whether you’re a “skeptic” or a skeptic, I need to get more informaiton. My experience in reading Climate Etc. is that a very high % of the “skepticism” I see comes from very people who have very clear political or other ideoogical orientations. In order to understand whether they are “skeptics” or skeptics, I need to see how they control for the potential influences of those strong ideological orientations. That becomes difficult when they scoff at the possibility, or attack me for suggesting that such influences might be in play, or that there is some vast asymmetry in the degree if influence of such partisanship. My experiences, and my understanding of the interplay between psychology and reasoning, suggests that what they are saying exists, is very unlikely. It is within the realm of possibility – but my skeptical nature requires more evidence than I’ve seen thus far.

        Those people [the extremists you see] certainly carry strong beliefs, but for most of us who doubt the predictions of doom,

        Once again, the “predictions of doom” exist on both sides of the debate – as I see it.

        we just doubt the predictions of doom – and that only pedantically carries the same weight of ‘belief’.

        That is hard for me to assess. As I see it, your belief that there is a vast asymmetry in the doom-saying makes your belief system very weighty – as you see an asymmetry that seems to me to not reflect reality. As an example – this thread originates in a very extremist belief system about science and public views on science. Most specifically, it focuses on a putative widespread and “blind trust in science.” I don’t see evidence of such a widespread “blind trust”. That’s why I raised the questions I raised. To me – one needs to have extreme beliefs to be convinced that there is some widespread “blind trust in science.”

      • sorry …. “That becomes difficult when they scoff at the possibility [of strong ideological orientation being an influence], or attack me for suggesting that such influences might be in play, or simply reject out of hand the possibility that there is not some vast asymmetry in the degree if influence of such partisanship.

      • joshy, joshy

        You are a glaring example of one who has a “blind faith” in the so-called settled climate science. You have not put forth one comment in the thousands that you have plastered here that indicates you have a clue about the science. You are dazzled by the consensus and the fact that it suits your ideology and your prejudices. The religious right is agin’ it, so you must be for it. And there are a lot more like you who have been mesmerized by Academy Award winning BS movies, Nobel Prizes, and the drumbeat messaging of the purveyors of doom in the dominant left-stream media.

      • Josh,

        This response is to your Jan 15, 9:14 pm comment and considers other related, comments as well, by Anteros and Don.

        You say: “If you have a suggestion of an accurate but more neutral term…[realist vs. skeptic]”

        Mostly OT, but let me begin by saying that I’ve just returned from the Deltoid blog, and it is such a relief to get back here to Climate etc. The bad-faith rancor on that blog beggars belief. I left a comment on that blog encouraging a disgruntled participant to visit Climate etc. and offered a complimentary description of my fellow commenters here that would make you all blush with embarrassment (meant it too). The only tie-in with my following thoughts, in this comment, is that I really, really think there’s a needs for there to be some form of the climate-science “debate” that is neither an exchange of beat-downs, a point-scoring exchange of booger-flicks, nor a carefully controlled censorship of opposing views (Climate etc. is the closest to my idea of a dispassionate, good-faith forum for the subject, I might add). And I think that the basic terminology materially gets in the way of those seeking a more problem-solving and fully rigorous examination of the science of climate and its derivative policy options.

        To date, my contribution to climate-science terminology has been limited to a one-man crusade to match “denier” with an opposite term of equal nastiness. My feeble efforts, so far, have produced the less-than-satisfactory terms (by my own judgement, at least–and since the terms never gained traction the view of others, as well, I surmise) “greenshirt” and doom-butt (stealing Anteros’ “doomer” to get to that last). But obviously, such terms intensify the polarizing and irrational tribal character of any debate.

        So with that wind-up out of the way, here’s my suggestion for an improved terminology that I offer for your (any and all’s) consideration:

        Open-minded decided (OMD)

        Open-minded un-decided (OMU)

        My justification for the above terms follows:

        The nature of the division in climate-science and derived policy recommandations, at least that which generates public controversies, revolves, ultimately, around CO2 public policy:

        -OMD denotes those who in good-faith and with an open-mind have concluded that the weight of the current CO2-related science, advocate, at least on a precautionary cost/benefit basis, massive and costly investments in CO2 reduction now. This last position further assumes that those OMD advocates have, at the ready, identifiable courses of action that are technically, politically, economically, and socially feasible now and will achieve the required CO2 reduction.

        -In contrast, OMU denotes those who advocate that we do not have a sufficient basis upon which to launch a massive and costly CO2 reduction effort, at this time, due to the uncertainties of the science, cost/benefit analysis, efficacy of the proposed solutions, and/or feasibility of the proposed solutions technically, politically, socially, and/or economically.

        Voila! My best shot. Now I need you guys with all the G-2 to crush my little proposal like a bug. I’ve got my last cigarette lit as we speak (and I’m a non-smoker) and am trying to keep my knees from quaking. Ready!…Aim!…You know the rest.

      • Sorry, in the third from bottom para in my last comment, “justifies” should replace “advocate.”

      • Joshua said:
        ‘I doubt that Web has a “blind trust in science” ‘
        Well, I (a skeptic) have a blind trust in science.
        Or, to be more exact – in the scientific method. I don’t have a blind trust (or any trust) in scientists.

      • Jacob –

        Well, I (a skeptic) have a blind trust in science.

        That’s an interesting twist – with an implication that your “skepticism” is based on the non-scientific nature of AGW theory.

        But while I think it’s a top-shelf rhetorical twist – I’m skeptical about what you profess. Do you really have a blind trust in science? I guess we’d have to dig down further into what that means. I guess you think it means that you have a blind trust in science that you think is unquestionably based in unambiguous data and foolproof analysis.

        Can you give an example of such science that you have a blind trust in as opposed to (non-scientific) counter-theories?

      • randomengineer

        Joshua

        He appears to speaking of blind trust in the scientific method itself. Safe to assume everyone who posts here thinks likewise; I know I certainly have complete and utter trust in science.

        Where trust is lost is when science is politicised and/or abused by bad actors claiming to be be on the righteous side of science and justice when clearly they are not.

        I would trust you about as far as I could drop-kick you, and that’s a great deal further than I would trust Michael Mann.

      • mike –

        As usual, I appreciate the humor in your post.

        Your taxonomy seems a lot like on that I poked around with a while back – breading the entire spectrum of the debate into two sub-spectra: skeptical convinced/believers and skeptical un-convinced/deniers.

        But that taxonomy has a problem that is unique, and problem that upon further reflection, I think is shared with your proposed taxonomy.

        (1) The unique problem – it uses terms that are inherently pejorative in generally accepted connotation (believer and denier) and one that carries too much baggage (skeptical). Although I think that putting the terms in quotes deals with the generally perceived connotations, I recognize that the terms are nonetheless going to be too provocative to be optimally useful.

        (2) The share problem – both my taxonomy and yours have an inaccurate implication. Both sides have believers and both sides have convinced. They just believe in and are convinced of different things.

        I have some problems, also, with your explanation:

        OMD denotes those who in good-faith and with an open-mind have concluded that the weight of the current CO2-related science, advocate, at least on a precautionary cost/benefit basis, massive and costly investments in CO2 reduction now. This last position further assumes that those OMD advocates have, at the ready, identifiable courses of action that are technically, politically, economically, and socially feasible now and will achieve the required CO2 reduction.

        First, I don’t accept the question of “costly investments” in the sense that I haven’t been convinced of the weight w/r/t a comprehensive cost/benefit analysis – in particular relative to potential long-term impact of non-action. I don’t rule out the possibility of “costly interventions” being the best description, but I think that the jury’s still out.

        Second, I think that I’m not alone in thinking that there is a potential for mitigation policies to prove effective even though I don’t hav eany at the ready identifiable courses of action that are proven feasible and that will definitively achieve desired results. I do, however, support investigating the matrix of related costs and risks, and I wish the tribalists would just settle down and get to that important task.

        Third – I think that your taxonomy is too binary. For example, I think I’d have to invent a new category in your taxonomy

        Open-minded leaning towards mostly decided (OMLTMD).

        That said, I think that your taxonomy is an improvement over most of what I see – and an improvement over my similar taxonomy (by virtue of eliminating unnecessarily provocative language) – but still not optimal.

      • mike –

        Wow – that post was even more error-filled than my typical post (it’s time for dinner and I’m distracted by my hunger), but I think you can get past the typos and poor editing to get the gist of what I was going for.

        I will make this one correction:

        “Both sides have believers and both sides have decided” (in place of convinved).

      • RE –

        I would trust you about as far as I could drop-kick you, and that’s a great deal further than I would trust Michael Mann.

        Well, given what you usually have to say about me, I’ll take that as a compliment.

      • Josh,

        If I get this comment properly in place in the thread, it will be a miracle. But thanks for the feed-back. Yeah, I guess the problem of labels is pretty intractable–the issue is a manichean duality to its advocates on either side, but no paired-terms agreeably capture that division. Curious predicament. Guess we’ll limp along with what we’ve got as long as the issues are alive.

        And, Josh, I can hardly believe your powers of endurance. It wears me out seeing you take on all comers with such sustained powers. Your “Battle of the Titans” exchanges with Don, another stalwart (must be the paratrooper in him) of this blog, were very much part of what I had in mind when I extolled the virtues of Climate etc. elsewhere. Thanks to you both and many others.

      • Oh no, mike! Josh and I are lightweights here. I know next to nothing of the science, and josh knows nothing. I just pick on him because he is so despicable and he’s a soft target. But I will agree that he can crank out the product prodigiously. As if he is getting paid by the word. I don’t have to work so hard, because I learned to keep it simple. I haven’t taken an English or composition course, that wasn’t required, since High School. My old high school teacher taught us about economy. Stuck with me. Also, I learned something called radio discipline. You keep the discussion to a minimum, when you are calling in air or arty strikes to get the bad guys off your backs.

      • I said I have a blind trust in the scientific method. There is no other way to learn about the physical world around us.
        I don’t buy Fireabend’s argument that the scientific method is flawed and needs to be replaced, or that there are other methods (better or worse) for this purpose. It’s the only one there is, even if it is an ideal that is difficult to reach.
        Scientists, on the other hand are human, and therefore fallible. Many false, and even ridiculously false, crackpot false, theories have been advanced by scientists. (Phrenology, eugenics, and many others).
        Scientists, unlike the Pope, are not priests, and are not “spiritual authorities”.
        So, I doubt everything. I trust just what I can judge, personally, to the best of my (very limited) ability.
        About the CAGW theory – some of it leaves me unconvinced (the verdict on this is: I don’t know). Other parts (like the hockey stick) have received a definite verdict: nonsense.
        That the “scientific community” suffers gladly such nonsense diminishes my (non existing) respect for it.

      • steven mosher

        “I don’t buy Fireabend’s argument that the scientific method is flawed and needs to be replaced, or that there are other methods (better or worse) for this purpose. It’s the only one there is, even if it is an ideal that is difficult to reach.”

        Well, he wasnt selling that argument. Go back and read against Method.
        What you will see is that the “ideal method” has not historically been followed, and yet science advanced. So factually, you will find instances, for example, where a new theory was proposed in the face of observational falsification, and the proponents held on to their theory despite what the ideal proscribed. Either they acted irrationally or the method is not ideal. In the end, the new theory replaced the old. Those factual episodes put into question the method. In short, the ideal method is neither necessary nor sufficient to its purpose, or irrational behavior on the part of some researchers lead to a better understanding of the world.

        His argument is a reductio. you need to understand that.

      • @tonyb

        “Breughel paintings are frequently cited…”

        Shame on you, Tony, don’t you know Bruegel’s “….Skaters” has been extensively peer-reviewed and found to have an incorrectly-scaled y-axis?

      • The scientific method: there is no other way to obtain knowledge. I don’t believe in divinely inspired knowledge beeing planted into the brains of some select individuals (prophets) – this being the only possible alternative to the scientific method.
        What is lacking in climate science, is, IMO, that when you don’t know – i.e. don’t have enough data, or enough understanding you say so: you say “I don’t know”, you don’t say: “the sky is falling down”.
        If you make a guess (a hypothesis) – you must not claim that it is more than a guess – the scientific method requires that you be clear and exact in what you claim.
        The scientific method doesn’t guarantee the acheivement of knowledge – it’s only a path toward it.

      • Mosher
        “So factually, you will find instances, for example, where a new theory was proposed in the face of observational falsification”

        Isn’t CAGW another such instance ? (:
        Anyway, even if there was in the past an instance were the theory was correct, after all, that does not mean that this is the right path to knowledge – i.e. that ignoring observational falsification is the correct thing to do.

    • Web Hub telescope

      I am astonished-and personally disappointed- that you put me on your ‘list’ based on a misrepresented and out of context conversation we had within my article.

      http://judithcurry.com/2011/12/01/the-long-slow-thaw

      You claim that;

      “You see, Brown claims the painting was of a lowland area in Belgium or Holland, while the shape of the mountains suggest the Dolomites. And thus, voila, allegorical proof against the hockey stick!

      http://judithcurry.com/2011/12/01/the-long-slow-thaw/

      I said no such thing. I pointed out that allegorical nature of the painting and pointed you to that well know sceptics web site;

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2006/dec/18/art.climatechange

      which clearly explains the purpose behind the painting and that it showed a very real example of supporting climate change (as did the numerous scientific studies I also cited).

      I make no claim that my work as such is ‘scientific’ and I proffer no theories. I think Mosh has summed up my work very well. It has a place as so few people these days are putting climate history into context. There is certainly scope to take the work I did and create a scientific context to it.

      I record history that often gets forgotten or has been taken out of context and throughout the article we had a perfectly reasonable discussion and I am therefore surprised and disappointed that someone I had taken to be perfectly rational should resort to this sort of incomplete and inaccurate portrayal of my work. For shame WHT. Are you frightened of history that you need to put this inaccurate spin on people such as myself that chronicle it?

      I hope you will remove that unfounded slur on me and return to the higher levels of discourse that I had previously thought you capable of.
      tonyb

      • That stuff is like having to listen to your grandpa describe how hard he had it in his day, walking to school uphill, both ways, in the snow.

        Mixing subjective data derived from anecdotes is fraught with difficulty. There are qualitative reasoning schemes available but these need calibration and even then no one has been able to find much use for qualitative reasoning outside of the social and softer sciences.

        You chose to use that opinion piece article to support your thesis. It didn’t attach itself.

        Here is an acid test. If you were to continue with this approach as a scientific doctoral or PhD thesis, what discipline would you choose to place it under?
        And what discipline would accept it? Perhaps a cognitive science department, or perhaps the department that hired Feyerabend? In retrospect, your thesis is well-suited for a radical view of the scientific method, whereby any subjective and qualitative anecdotes are allowed.

      • Webby,

        Have you checked to see if he has a criminal record that you could use against him? Post a link for us.

        You are losing it. I used to think that you were a gentlemen and a scholar, even if wrong. You are getting vicious. You need to check yourself. And how about giving us your real name so we can see what kind of crimes and misdemeanors you have on your record?

        Some of you people are taking this stuff far too seriously.

      • Billc,

        Did you really have to do this? WTF is wrong with you people?

      • @ Don Momfort,

        I can guess what you were complaining about though I think Judith has cleaned up the thread. That reference has surfaced previously. People bring it up now and again. If it’s BS someone should call it. If there was a resolution, that helps get rid of the BS. Then we’d all know it was BS when somebody referred to it.

      • BillC,

        Do you really need to know the resolution? It is irrelevant to the discussion here. And it is hypocritical and slimy for an anonymous warmista coward to go there, for no other purpose than to hang it around the necks of “skeptics”.

      • I don’t know what resolution stuff you are referring to, all I know is what I have seen referred to on other blogs. Certain crackpots are known far and wide.

      • Don – The resolution might matter if this thing keeps seeing the light on various climate blogs, which it will because people introduce it. To me personally – no it doesn’t really influence my responses to comments of the individual in question, or lack there of, or opinion of his standing re the things he posts about. FYI the thing appears to have de-escalated but that’s all I can find, and no I am not going to spend a ton of time searching. It might be useful to know, if only to debunk, if it could be. That the individual in question chooses not to discuss it, is not necessarily a free pass from it being discussed – back to your original point yes, it is fundamentally irrelevant. But unfortunately it has seen the light – so do your best Richard Tol* on me if you wish.

        *spreading disinformation

      • BillC, if that is really your name.

        So you agree that it is fundamentally irrelevant, but you want to keep yammering about it. Judith does not want people being tarred and feathered on her blog. Why don’t you and the anonymous coward with the tar and feathers start your own blog. I am done with this trash.

      • Got my own blog, going on seven years now. I use it to update research ideas before I pull all the information together. Just goes to show your complete lack of intellectual curiosity outside of your narrow minded worldview. You force yourself to see only what agrees with your preconceived notions, whereas I actually dig into this stuff. And you don’t like what you hear, so you attack the messenger.

      • I just had a quick look at your website. Your discussion of Black-Scholes caught my eye. Typical naive left-wing anti-capitalist claptrap. Still I didn’t scan anything to indicate that you are the black-hearted coward that you have revealed yourself to be here on Judith’s blog. I guess you have enough sense not to soil your own nest. You are not going to do the right thing, apologize and move on, so that’s all the time I have for you.

      • Sounds good. Go back and count your loot, it might help you relax.

      • steven mosher

        tony,

        I have the advantage of having read your contributions for a quite some time. Folks should note that it is almost a reflex reaction to expect that someone critical of a piece of science should have a “theory” of their own.
        That expectation is not always accurate.

        Steve McIntyre has struggled against this.

      • And it’s also a reflex for some people to hop on to an alternative theory. The problem with alternative theories is like the problem with “who shot JFK” theories: there are too many of them. And they’re probably all wrong. Which doesn’t make the “consensus” right.

      • Tomfp

        Nice one.
        Tonyb

      • And it’s also a reflex for some people to hop on to an alternative theory. The problem with alternative theories is like the problem with “who shot JFK” theories: there are too many of them. And they’re probably all wrong. Which doesn’t make the “consensus” right.

        There is only one on the current list that is correct. Not hard to spot.

    • Joshua,
      You claim “to have never read a fantasy/ rant about blind trust in science”.
      Argument by ignorance is tedious for everyone stuck watching you act it out.
      perhaps you could reconsider if you have really never read anything about the dangers of science run amuck?.
      A reading list of books that can help you become less ignorant, if you would like, would include for starters
      Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”
      H.G. Wells’ “The Invisible Man”
      Michael Chrichton’s “The Andromeda Strain”….well almost anything by Chrichton, especially his book on climate.
      The list is rather long, and I am short on time and this is just a hint.

      • WHT said

        “Just goes to show your complete lack of intellectual curiosity outside of your narrow minded worldview. You force yourself to see only what agrees with your preconceived notions, whereas I actually dig into this stuff. And you don’t like what you hear, so you attack the messenger”.

        I assume you have a terrific sense of irony or were were just blissfully unawre of what you wrote? Attacking the messenger because of your preconceived notions and lack of intellectual curiosity is exactly what you have done with your strange list.

        I assume that as climate history is outside of your field of expertise that you are totally unaware that Breughel paintings are frequently cited as internationally recognised symbols of changing climate, for example by Prof Brian Fagan in his Book ‘The little Ice age’. Is he a crackpot?

        Your web site is interesting and I don’t understand why you want to diminish your standing here by producing something that seems totally out of character.
        tonyb .

      • Hey tony –

        I found your comments on the latest Willis meltdown over at WUWT to be a bit surprising. Your suggestion was that Tallbloke should rise above the episode? Is that because you think that Willis is simply not capable of doing so, or are you actually rationalizing the bizarre nature of his name-calling spree and then his hilarious and self-aggrandizing explanation? There was nothing in the entire episode that wasn’t completely typical for Willis. Credit to many of the WUWT readers for calling him out for his arrogant behavior. – I have to say that on that thread I saw more actual skepticism than I ever have previously at that site – w/r/t the observations noting Willis’ frantic, transparent, and pathetic attempts to rationalize his boorish behavior.

        I also love the appeals to how he is harming the “cause.” The whole thing is, indeed, very popcorn worthy.

      • Like I said, I hate anecdotes and for every one you dredge up, I can find a contrary one. Look, just this month I was cross-country smoking in the Jura Mountains, which are north of the Alps. Lots of snow at a fairly low elevation. And I know there are cross-country ski centers near where those paintings supposedly took place.
        I do indeed have an open mind and I take it all in, but some of these circumstantially built arguments based on questionable, qualitative, and subjective anecdotes will really lead nowhere.

        My suggestion is to grab all the questionable historical quantitative data you can, try to remove all systematic biases and calibrate the best you can, and go from there.

      • randomengineer

        cross-country smoking

        Sounds self-defeating.

      • cross-country smoking

        You have to wonder what kind of thought process could lead to that conflation. Was he thinking about skiing very quickly? Enjoying a spliff while on the trail?

      • That’s a wild spelling correction. I must not have noticed it because I usually skate ski and I will smoke the trails with those suckers.
        Carbon fiber everything is the future.

      • randomengineer

        I’m guessing we’ll soon see the Jean Luc Besson documentary of this new sport entitled “Breathless.”

    • Joshua : … never before have I read a fantasy/rant about the dangers of “blind trust” in science. Well, except ever time I read Climate Etc.

      Yes – hiding declines, hiding data etc etc, and generally sabotaging the science process, is elsewhere now fully accepted as a central pillar of modern climate science, and indeed forms the bedrock of the alarmist consensus against which posters here often rant.

  9. Various different problems get easily mixed in discussions of this type.

    One is due to the direct influence of political and ideological views on the subject science of induvidial scientists and groups of scientists. That has sometimes a huge influence on the outcome in social sciences including economics.

    Another issue is related to the conclusions that the scientists have reached based on the mostly rather objective methods of physical sciences and to the way they react to these results. The social factors affect the conclusions also in physical sciences, but not as directly as in social sciencies.

    Research on environment, in particular on the environment on global scale, may be intermediate to the above two cases. Methodologically the research is perhaps closer to physical sciences, but the formulation of the results for publication may be strongly influenced by problems typical to social sciences.

    The climate issue including questions of proper policy actions is a combination of physical sciences, tecnology, and social sciences (and totally non-scientific factors). Thus it’s not surprising that the full spectrum of problems is present. It’s perhaps also to be expected that everything gets mixed in public debate on climate policies. The physical science part gets also used in ways mostly less typical for it.

    • Not really. Environmental science is probably more likely to be carried off by a political juggernaut. It’s a hammer looking for nails. No nails, unemployed hammer. Of course they’re going to be looking for problems under every rock.

      And you missed the other obvious example: medical research. Lots of venality going on there, in subtle ways that aren’t always apparent. For example, health orgs taking money from the maker of nicotene gum, and then campaigning against e-cigs. No conflict of interest there, huh?

      • The total list of questionable practices, purposeful misrepresentation of science and outright frauds is much longer. Another very long list is that of incompetent scientists that make serious and rather trivial errors.

        I tried to comment only work that’s done in good faith by reasonable people with legitimate differences in their views and conclusions.

        If environmental science is more biased than many other fieds, it’s probably in part due to selection bias in the constitution of the group of environmental scientists. (It’s more likely that they start having environmentalist attitudes than having in mind to become competent in counteracting misdirected environmentalism.)

      • Stephen Schneider, for example, was an environmental activist before he studied science and became a professor. He remained an activist. The same is true, probably about many other climate scientists.

    • Joshua

      My replies at the time were around first and sixth in the thread the latter one immediately after a comment by tall bloke and I hoped that this spat would fizzle out and roger should not make it worse by posting something in haste.

      Willis is a mercurial character and sometimes his threads are interesting and sometimes he goes on a rant but this was a misconceived and unpleasant thread. I’m glad he was called out and it’s a shame that anthony didn’t call a halt to it.
      Tonyb

      • tony –

        Willis is a mercurial character…

        I don’t get that at all. Although I have no idea as to his character, I see Willis’ behavior as being extremely consistent in nature (everything is always about him). What changes, for the most part, is who finds his behavior objectionable; some only find it objectionable when they are the target of the attacking and tribalistic attributes of his behavior. There only thing unusual in that thread was who he was targeting. The vitriol, childishness, and partisanship-influenced reasoning was quite typical for him.

        On another topic – please see this comment to mosher –

        http://judithcurry.com/2012/01/15/radical-essays-on-science-technology/#comment-159177

        Are you saying that you don’t have an argument? Are you saying that you have an argument but not a theory? If it is the later, can you explain how you can have an argument without having a theory?

    • Wht
      I know the Juras,rather too low for someone like me to risk as i have to travel a long way, although I generally prefer medium height resorts, I often ski at Leysin.

      I’m not sure what point you are making about cross country skiing in the vicinity of the painting. No one brought it up before you did, I cant see it’s relevance. The lia and it’s cold and warm periods are very well documented, I quoted numerous scientific studies that support the ‘anecdotes’
      Tonyb

      • That’s the problem with all anecdotal information. What’s the point with bringing up anything as it is completely subjective. You can’t even see my point that Belgium gets cold today like it did back then, probably because I used an anecdote to convey that point!

        BTW, Try Les Mosses instead of Leysin. It’s only a few miles away on the main pass, and the XC skiing is the best and longest.

      • Joshua said to me;

        “tony (wrote) –

        Willis is a mercurial character… ”

        “I don’t get that at all. Although I have no idea as to his character, I see Willis’ behavior as being extremely consistent in nature (everything is always about him). ”
        ———-
        Joshua, I tend to read WHAT people write, you tend to query WHY they write it. We therefore may see Willis differently so lets just say that his articles are highly variable and some I find more convincing than others. At his best his articles can be original and insightful.

        I have already answered your other point in my reply to Mosh. Enough people have theories without me adding to them.
        tonyb

      • After reading that WUWT post and comments, I have confirmed my respect for Willis. He is a motivated self-starter willing to tough out the understanding.

    • Mosh

      I really don’t have a theory and I enjoy history. Nothing is unprecedented if you look closely enough and I write articles to put things into context for others, and as an antidote to the belief that we are living in strange times.

      History is no ally of agw proponents and they need to better demonstrate the radiative physics that may mean the future may be radically different to the past.
      Tonyb

      • web

        Sorry, I still don’t get your point-are you trying to draw an analogy between 2012 Belgium and the the very severe lia winters that Breugel depicted, events captured anecdotally allegorically as well as scientifically?

        i know les mosses very well and also les diablerets. Nice slopes in that part of the world.
        tonyb

      • Hi Tony

        “I really don’t have a theory and I enjoy history. Nothing is unprecedented if you look closely enough and I write articles to put things into context for others, and as an antidote to the belief that we are living in strange times.”

        Well, that’s a theory right there. My point would be this: Nobody who understands climate science believes that C02 causes warming BECAUSE of the temperature record. Destroy all historical temperatures and we still know that c02 causes warming. We know that because of basic physics.

        “History is no ally of agw proponents and they need to better demonstrate the radiative physics that may mean the future may be radically different to the past.”

        The physics are quite simple. They are used in everyday engineering.
        C02 is not transparent to IR. The more C02 you add to the atmosphere the more opaque the atmosphere gets. The more opaque it gets the higher the effective radiating height becomes. That means that radiation returns to space from a higher and hence colder altitude. That fact alone tells you the surface must warm to compensate.

        Through the course of history, of course, a myriad of factors are at work to determine the final temperature. But rest assured basic physics tells you that if you make the atmosphere more opaque the effective radiating height increases. Increase that height and the surface warms. No two ways around that one.

        we cannot continue to dump c02 into the atmosphere and expect temperatures to fall. They will be higher that they would be otherwise. Bump and valleys will come and go. Spikes and troughs will come and go. But if you increase C02 and nothing else compensates… it will get warmer.

      • Mosher, you have a hobby horse of your own there. We know that what you just described was a spherical cow. There are other things going on than just that. I’m not saying that there isn’t going to be some warming, just that it’s nowhere near as simple as you describe.

      • Mosher –
        Well put – clear and succinct.

        However, my departure from the whole narrative that you left unstated (or unfinished) but which is in everyone’s mind, is the degree to which we have evidence for qualitative aspects of the future warming – and what, if anything, science can do to add anything to that evidence.

        Taking the latter part first, I would suggest the answer is nothing. science can provide us with nothing at all to help us with evidence for the qualitative aspects of the future.

        Therefore we have to use other things – many other things – to inform our expectations of how good, positive, interesting, challenging, delightful, wonderful and warm the future will be.

        I suggest people make their minds up on this issue prior to any consideration of the ‘science’ of climatology, but I’m with kim-not-bot on this: Warmth=diversity+thrivingness.

        Let us not bemoan this 15 year hiatus, but look forward to the resumption of the mildly warming interglacial!!

      • Bollocks-to-bolding :)

      • Ant,
        I don’t know that science can tell us anything about the qualitative aspects. In some ways I think that even trying to quantify the future effects can be misguided.

        let’s say I come down on the side of common sense. Basic physics tells us that changing the atmosphere will change the climate, over time.
        That argues for two things.
        1. find pathways to curtail that activity
        2. build societies that are resilient to climate change.

        I think people have jumped to solutions far too quickly without getting agreement on broad principles. FWIW.

      • PE.
        It is that simple. what is complicated is what you want to conclude from the simple facts. Reacting in fear becuase you believe the effects to be disasterous or sticking your head in the sand because you dont know the answer to 3 decimal points, are both disfunctional responses.

      • Mosher (Can I call you that) says;
        “Through the course of history, of course, a myriad of factors are at work to determine the final temperature. But rest assured basic physics tells you that if you make the atmosphere more opaque the effective radiating height increases. Increase that height and the surface warms. No two ways around that one”.

        An interesting observation. You may know that Ned Nikolov, Ph.D. and Karl Zeller, Ph.D. have now explained that very phenomenon in their recent study and theory titled: The Unified Theory of Climate. It’s proving very hard to disprove and looks being a better worse theory than AGW.
        It’s a work in progress, and a bloody eye opener.

        Their have theory allows the prediction of a planets surface temperature regardless of the atmospheric composition. A second essay is being produced with further proof of the fallacy of AGW.

      • Mosher –

        Perhaps my out-of-control bolding made my sentences opaque like a Co2 drenched atmosphere, or perhaps you meant quantitative aspects otherwise we’re at cross purposes. Whatever – I agree with you about the difficulty of quantification. Or at least attempting to peer more closely than the subject annoyingly allows. But we know the sign of the change and the ballpark size.

        I think there is a profound is/ought leap that is unsupportable, and I volunteer myself to play Hume (for a moment). You say

        let’s say I come down on the side of common sense. Basic physics tells us that changing the atmosphere will change the climate, over time.
        That argues for two things.
        1. find pathways to curtail that activity
        2. build societies that are resilient to climate change

        There is no logic that I have ever come across that argues for such things.
        What is at work (and doing the arguing) is a big chunk of imagination that creates a picture of terrible events and circumstances and then an unjustifiable assumption which is that “these things will come to pass unless we do x,y, and z”. Why? What logic, reason or science allows us to create such pictures? None, to my mind – it is imagination alone and the incredible human capacity to look into the dark and clearly see doom.

        You say, justifiably, that “changing the atmosphere will change the climate, over time”

        And?

        And what? – that’s nice? That’s worth following because it’ll be fun to see when (and if) it becomes noticeable? That’s going to provoke those prone to worry to tear their hair out? That maybe it’ll overall make very little difference to anything?

        It seems to me your common sense tells you to do something slightly different to mine – I’m yet to make the assumption that changes average ‘windiness/raininess’ etc will be particularly noticeable or (especially) negative.

      • Mosher –

        P.S. The one area where my imagination starts doing the same thing as everybody else’s is sea levels. We’ve noticed (and projections on the subject abound) that the levels of the top of the sea relative to the land have been changing increasingly – from ten times as slow as your thumbnail grows, to only five times as slow.

        My imagination, like yours perhaps leads me to see people as yet unborn living in different places from their gandparents. I’m yet, though, to see them getting their feet wet.

      • Ant hasn’t demonstrated that he understands the distinction between qualitative and quantitative historical data. Subjective and objective qualification as well.

        My recommendation is to start anew with a comprehensive review of the history of failed qualitative reasoning studies.

    • Web said

      ‘Like I said, I hate anecdotes and for every one you dredge up, I can find a contrary one.’

      My article covered a specfic area (central England) over a specific period outside of the instrumental record (1538 to 1658) I gathered together many thousands of anecdotes, records and studies.

      I challenge you to find contrary ones within the area and timescale I write about. It will greatly help in writing version 2.
      tonyb

      • Since it is completely subjective it is easy to come up withEngland-specific examples. Shakespeare lived during the time of the LIA, right? He never wrote about that but wrote Midsummer Night’s Dream which is very evocative of warmth.

        It’s all rather tiresome, with no exit criteria to the analysis. Tedious in the sense of how do you know when you become enlightened?

      • Web said, “It’s all rather tiresome, with no exit criteria to the analysis. Tedious in the sense of how do you know when you become enlightened?”

        Your analysis of the Greenland ice cores showed a great deal of variability. Did the frequency of the variability change with time?

        All data lies, so all data is useful to figure out which is lying the most. Tonyb’s simple historical method tends to roughly confirms the Greenland Ice cores, what confirms the Vostec ice cores? Should you give the data set with the least amount of confirmation greater weight than one even partially confirmed by another, albeit course, method?

      • Current state of play is
        – Tonyb covered a specfic area over a specific period outside of the instrumental record. He challenged Web to find contrary examples.
        – Web was unable to supply any serious ones.

      • Web : Shakespeare lived during the time of the LIA, right? He never wrote about that but wrote Midsummer Night’s Dream which is very evocative of warmth.

        Your otherwise learned response seems to have overlooked the “Winter of our discontent”, clearly inspired by the LIA.

      • To say nothing of A Winter’s Tale.

  10. Science usually begins with some observation(s). Speculations about the observation(s) can lead to quantification for those so inclined and motivated. Most of us do observation and quantification simultaneously “…there seem to be more people in the mall this year…” followed by speculation “…it seems that people have more money this year than last.” One can read in the business section of the newspaper a quantification of that observation and validation of the speculation: the retail sales this Christmas… which means that….. Nobody is surprised when I point out the observation, quantification, speculation paradigm, only few would call this: science, as I do. The drift of the public away from interest in the catastrophe of climate science prognostications comes about because the public can’t make sense of the observations, quantification and speculations of the CCS. The news reports that the city of Nome Alaska is running low on fuel as the barge that was to deliver fuel this Fall was blocked from approaching Nome because of ice. The picture of the US Coast Guard ice breaker, as large as the Russian tanker bringing fuel to Nome, is visual testimony that there is a lot of ice, very thick ice up there near the Arctic Circle. Under the picture is stated that the tanker can only get within a mile of the harbor as the ice is otherwise impenetrable. Hmmm. Catastrophic Climate Scientists’ solemnly declare, by their adjusted data, that the Arctic is melting and the seas will rise, the ice will part, and ships will navigate the North Pole freely; ahhh, just not this year. The Catastrophic Climate Scientists that practice science believe the public are science illiterate so the problem CCS have is one of educating the public about science. However, when observations, whether on television or newsprint or whatever the medium, do not jive with the science as professed by the professionals, then the science is wrong in my book. Now I don’t exactly know why the science is wrong, but its kind of interesting, don’t you think?

    • John Costigane

      The science is wrong because it is ‘settled’. How can anything be ‘settled’ when knowledge of the climate is incomplete?

    • Mosh

      You said in reply to me;

      ‘Well, that’s a theory right there.’

      Its not a theory to say that history happens and that taking all the evidence into account what I chronicle appears to be the sequence of events. A sequence of events that would have appeared unremarkable and non contentious to the historians of 20 or 30 years ago.
      .
      Of course I am aware of radiative physics, which is precisely why I say that it would be more profitable to better prove what is happening now or likely to happen in the future without always pointing to the past, as it does not show that todays events are unprecedented.
      tonyb.
      .

      .

    • web said to me;

      ‘Since it is completely subjective it is easy to come up with England-specific examples. Shakespeare lived during the time of the LIA, right? He never wrote about that but wrote Midsummer Night’s Dream which is very evocative of warmth.’

      Lots of people write about things -its called fiction. :) For a generalised example such as that to be more useful it has to be tied to a place within central England and a year and preferably a month. Your example is anecdotal in the extreme but might be interesting as general background only if the precise circumstances were known, as the Breughel ones are-but these are again a general background which need to be tied in with other records.

      Look forward to your specific counter anecdotes related to known weather events in a defined geographic area as a counter to my specific anecdotes that were set in a defined time and place You did look at my ‘supplementary information’ didn’t you?

      tonyb

      • And artistic expression, as in paintings of fictional landscapes, is not fictional?

        There is no way that this discussion will terminate because of the issues with subjectivity combined with qualitative views. Hence my use of the adjectives tiresome and tedious. Please don’t look forward to any “specific counter anecdotes” from me.

        I will confess one thing. Over the last two years, I was involved in a research project that originally proposed that qualitative reasoning would solve a sticky problem. We had big names in the that cognitive research domain on our team. That part of the project failed miserably and the rest of us were stuck cleaning up the mess with conventional quantitative approaches. I honestly don’t see how you will fare any better, based on my experience. You have qualitative data that is (1) uncalibrated, (2) systematically biased, (3) subjective, (4) censored, (5) spotty, with (6) questionably sufficient counting statistics.
        That said, Good Luck, as you will need it.

      • You have qualitative data that is (1) uncalibrated, (2) systematically biased, (3) subjective, (4) censored, (5) spotty, with (6) questionably sufficient counting statistics. … – WHT

        Not only that, the sun will never set on it.

  11. Judith Curry

    Thanks for posting this interesting information.

    Paul Feyerabend’s 1975 essay How To Defend Society Against Science was written over 35 years ago, but it applies spot on for climate science today.

    [Interestingly, President Eisenhower foresaw many of these problems in his famous “military-industrial complex” speech.]

    Feyerabend starts off with the interesting lines:

    I want to defend society and its inhabitants from all ideologies, science included. All ideologies must be seen in perspective. One must not take them too seriously. One must read them like fairy-tales which have lots of interesting things to say but which also contain wicked lies, or like ethical prescriptions which may be useful rules of thumb but which are deadly when followed to the letter.

    We have been taught, starting very early in school, that ”science” is the ”search for truth”, and hence an inherently noble endeavor. We are taught that the scientific method is an absolute avenue to finding the truth. Lysenkoism or scientific theories of Aryan supremacy are seen as aberrations to an otherwise pure and clean field.

    However, as soon as one accepts Feyerabend’s proposition that “science”, as practiced by humans, (like “religion”) is an “ideology”, the concept becomes clear.

    Feyerabend writes:

    The most important consequence is that there must be a formal separation between state and science just as there is now a formal separation between state and church. Science may influence society but only to the extent to which any political or other pressure group is permitted to influence society.

    Scientists may be consulted on important projects but the final judgement must be left to the democratically elected consulting bodies. These bodies will consist mainly of laymen. Will the laymen be able to come to a correct judgement? Most certainly, for the competence, the complications and the successes of science are vastly exaggerated.

    These lines pretty well summarize the key problems we have with climate science today, as it is practiced following the IPCC “consensus process”.

    The ” formal separation between state and science” does not exist. Almost all ”climate science” is funded with taxpayer money by politicians, many of whom have their own ideas on how the results should look. IPCC, a political body founded under the United Nations, has been allowed to hijack climate science to support the political agenda of its parent, the UNFCCC. As has been documented for several specific cases, the “consensus process” ensures that the “mainstream view” of alarming AGW, as favored by IPCC, is the only view, which is given any weighting in the IPCC assessment reports, while dissenting papers and studies are either discounted or totally ignored.

    As a result, the projections for the future made in these reports based on ”model simulations with various assumed storylines and scenarios” should be ”read like fairy tales” and not taken too seriously, as Feyerabend suggests..

    As far as how governments should react to opinions of scientists, Feyerabend suggests:

    Organs of the state should never hesitate to reject the judgement of scientists when they have reason for doing so. Such rejection will educate the general public, will make it more confident, and it may even lead to improvement.

    The much-maligned Senator Inhofe (and the many others who agree with him that the ”consensus position” as presented in the IPCC reports does not represent the only correct view on climate science today) might take some comfort in these words.

    However, climate science can play an important role in order to correct the current situation by getting the ”ideology” back out of ”climatology” and thereby regaining the public confidence in this field.

    IMO this can only be accomplished by abandoning the IPCC and its corrupted ”consensus process”. It will also involve removing CAGW activists from the key scientific positions and replacing them with more objective scientists, who are not pursuing agenda-driven science to support their cause.

    It appears to me like you are going to be a key player in getting this mess straightened out.

    Max

    • I read Manacker’s comment until I was forced to invoke Godwin’s law.

    • WHT said

      ‘And artistic expression, as in paintings of fictional landscapes, is not fictional? ‘

      The painiting is of a specific known event with a great deal of symbolism because of the circumstances, which can be validated by other records and has more value than the highly generalised example you gave and I suspect you must know that. No, I wasn’t holding my breath expecting you to come up with a list of subjective anecdotes, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a place, when used in context.

      By the way do you consider the hockey stick to be both scientific and accurate?
      tonyb

      • The upturn in CO2 is one of the most WTF moments in scientific data collection history. Second behind that is the sharp peak and decline in oil discoveries. These are facinating in that they are very quantifiable but generate huge controversies in implications.

    • To invoke Godwin’s law is to concede an argument. Just without admitting it.

  12. Congratulations Judith!

    I’ll return later when I have more than a few moments, but it’s great to see mention of one of the greats of the Philosophy of Science referenced on Climate Etc. You say of Feyerabend’s paper, that

    “The full essay is a classic and well worth reading”

    I heartily agree [although I suspect Web and a few others won't]

    • I suspect many on the skeptical side will not appreciate Feyerabend. When I discussed this with Ravetz, I remarked that we seem to be in a situation where the skeptics have this naive unreflective trust in the scientific ‘method’ (typically popperian ) and think that one can easily ‘remove’ politics from it. AGW types, tend to be operating in bad faith, arguing that their science is ‘innocent” and free of politics. Somewhat of a cartoon view of things, but it works to explain some things.

      “It is a common mistake to think of Feyerabend as “anti-science”. He is only anti-science to the extent that he is pro-freedom, and sees science as a tyrant. ”

      the issue is how one keeps that tyrant in check by promoting openness and transparency. Power cannot be eradicated, the issue, for me, is checks and balances and governance. Science is not necessarily self correcting.

      • steven mosher

        It appears to me that the “mainstream consensus” climatology folks will have a bit more of a problem with Feyerabend than those who are rationally skeptical of the “mainstream consensus” view.

        Agree with you, though, that the key is “openness and transparency”.

        “Truth” (such at exists) likes light – “lies” (or whatever one wants to call them) hate it.

        “Science” only exists because of “people”, therefore it is as fallible as humans. The “checks and balances” to which you refer are performed by “people”, as well – whether this is a Steve McIntyre or (oh horrors!) a Senator Inhofe. And the “governance” has to come from within – but also from “people” – whether this is a Judith Curry or a Steven Mosher.

        And you’re 100% right that “science is not necessarily self-correcting” (at least in the short term). I do believe that over the long term it is, however.

        Max

      • What’s new about the climate issue though, is the intensity of political fire tangled up in it. That takes what was a potential problem and turns it up to 11. Even with all the outside scrutiny in the world, there’s still going to be excruciating pressure to go with the flow.

        This is exacerbated by the incredibly lopsided political bent of the university. It’s hard to be a professor and not be a left-wing extremist. That’s just how the culture rolls. So in addition to everything else, there’s this culture exerting pressure. It’s almost sacrilegious not to get swept up into the cause. They make you feel like you’re not a good member of the parish.

      • Science is self correcting. The correction can be fast or slow. Sceptics and contrarians and outsiders do the corrections.

        More openness and transparency leads to more efficient and faster correcting.

      • Steven Mosher –

        I’m glad to say that I’m very much not-bothered what ‘many on the sceptical side’ feel about Feyerabend – I think his insights are useful to all.
        I agree he is not ‘anti-science’ but I think he is less pro-science than you suspect. It is not only in his pro-freedom stance that he cautions against elevating science to a ‘special’ method of interpreting the world. We have indeed verged on the point of scientific statements having the absolute authority of religious texts. See M.Mann’s continual reference to the science having spoken This is exactly what Feyerabend saw as the consequence of injudicious fawning over the power of the ‘scientific method’.

        There’s a little irony in Mike Hulme’s re-iteration of the same caution given the depths of his Christian beliefs, but for me, his iconoclastic observations are also welcome.

      • people who think that ‘science’ is self correcting
        ought to consider the following.
        1. ‘science’ is not a thing
        2. ‘science’ is never correct.

        Be more scientific about science and you will observe something quite different. If you are “metaphysical” about science, of course, you can imput many properties to it. But, you’re not being scientific about science

      • Mosher just stepped in it…

      • steven mosher

        PE.

        I don’t necessarily agree with everything Feyerabend writes. I think some of his reductios against naive “falsificationism” are spot on. See his work on Method.

      • P.E. –

        You make a very good point about the culture creating pressure. How many partisan advocates have we heard saying that AGW is the great moral issue of our time? The pressures being brought to bear are guilt and shame…

        There’s a funny side to it here in England. The vanguard of the enviro movement found a lot of easy mileage in re-cycling, even though the cultural pressure to be ‘green’ was fairly universal. So people took to defending themselves with “but I do my recycling!” when quizzed by the po-faced doomers looking askance at a new car or somebody watering their lawn.

        I’ve seen many not-very-confident people trying to not feel guilty about their normal lives by displaying their re-cycling bin prominently and looking at it anxiously when green guests come snooping round their houses looking for evidence of wasteful consumerism and outright selfishness. Will the hint of recycling be enough? Will I be made to feel guilty? Am I condemned to burn in hell? Will the inquisition convict me?“but I do my recycling!!”

        Wasn’t it Al Gore who tried to say that we’ll come to see sceptics like the racists of the sixties? No attempt at moral pressure there!!

      • Steve:
        You make a good point about some skeptics believing that true science would certainly lead to the truth about the scope and nature of climate change. However, I have a general problem with Feyerbrand type of critical thinking and argument – it paints with too broad a brush and leads to its own distortions and false generalizations. As the climategate emails make clear, the distortions in some of the scientific arguments come from particular individuals engaging in particular behaviors that run counter to the general set of expectations that we have of those engaged in research. There is a neat little book that shows that it is individuals, even truly great scientists, who behave badly not Science or Ideology: Newton’s Tyranny: The Suppressed Scientific Discoveries of Stephen Gray and John Flamsteed
        by David H. Clark and Stephen Clark.

      • steven –

        AGW types, tend to be operating in bad faith, arguing that their science is ‘innocent” and free of politics.

        Does that description not apply to “skeptical” types as well?

      • Bernie, individuals can’t really be changed. That’s why it’s important to create an environment where individuals will be discouraged from engaging in particular behaviors that run counter to the general set of expectations that we have of those engaged in research. Individuals are individuals. We need negative feedbacks for “pseudo-science” and positive for real, open, transparent and falsifiable science. But first we need some kind of epiphany to open the public eyes about state of science. The problem is not widely recognised yet. I didn’t recognise it only a ~decade ago. I trusted blindly like most people (scientists and laypeople) do. I also atacked anything I perceived as crackpotery and “spent my time in the nervous attempt of avoiding what some people call dead ends”. I don’t know why I did that, I guess that was simply my upbringing.

      • Web said

        ‘The upturn in CO2 is one of the most WTF moments in scientific data collection history…’

        That may or may not be so, but it doesn’t answer my question which is do you believe the hockey stick to be scientfic and accurate (in its portrayal of temperature and trends over the past 1000 years)
        tonyb

      • tony –

        I know you sometimes get frustrated with the nesting – so I just wanted to call you attention again to this post:

        http://judithcurry.com/2012/01/15/radical-essays-on-science-technology/#comment-159614

      • That’s the hockey stick graph that I am aware of, the Mauna Loa graph is probably the most famous graph in history, partly because of the meticulous data collection that went into it and partly because of the interest it got in documentaries.

        I suppose now you are going to criticize me for subjectivity. Spare me the hypocritical attitude.

      • Mosh : skeptics have this naive unreflective trust in the scientific ‘method’ (typically popperian ) and think that one can easily ‘remove’ politics from it.

        Yes. We can however at least try and remove as much as possible – by promoting openness and transparency, as you also mention.

        But when virtually all the funding is from a single source – in this case, the state – this is no easy task. Like any organization, the state will tend to give preference to its own interests over those of others, so where openness and the state’s interests clash, agents of the state will seek to stifle openness. Like removing access to ZODs, for example.

    • Feyerabend!

      One of the looniest post-modern peddlers of sciency sounding philosophical claptrap.

      • How unsurprising.
        Let’s guess that you like your science to be pure, truth-focused and absolute.

        As in, just like religion.

      • No, I’m just for rational investigation, testable hypotheses and argument from the evidence – ie science.

        Feyerabend’s post-modern ramblings were anything but ….yeah, more like religious beliefs.

      • Web

        I wasnt going to criticise you for anything
        tonyb

      • Joshua

        I answered you last night at 4.03-its currently three posts below the one you linked to. You have to go some way down the thread in order to find a spare ‘reply.’ It is a bit frustrating. Its purely luck that I saw Webs reply and noticed yours.

        tonyb

      • Michael : Feyerabend! … One of the looniest post-modern peddlers of sciency sounding philosophical claptrap….I’m just for rational investigation, testable hypotheses and argument from the evidence – ie science.

        And apple pie of course. But to what extent is (politically-funded) “climate science” today science in any real sense, and to what extent is it political propaganda/religion dressed up as science ? Unless you are a typical IPCC-style dyed-in-the wool blinkered Truebeliever in the ‘consensus’, you may be more of a fan of Feyerabend than you realize.

    • I heartily agree [although I suspect Web and a few others won't]

      I have my own approaches on how scientific ideas could spread, such as the use of open access publishing together with free-form peer review. Did Feyerabrand advocate anything like that before he died?

  13. Dr. Curry in the intro mentioned Russian Michael Bakunin
    For those in revolutionary mood or of the anarchist inclination, Bakunin’s essay Science & People is available here:

    http://az.lib.ru/b/bakunin_m_a/text_0090.shtml

    If you don’t understand Russian language try using http://uk.babelfish.yahoo.com/ (more accurate than google).

  14. How fascinating to see Feyerabend again. What I took from Against Method in the 1970s was the way in which we defend our hypotheses against criticism by building walls around them rather than, as Popper and Feynman would urge, try first to demolish them ourselves. Defending hypotheses against criticism seemed to be what the class analysts (neo-Marxists) were doing at that time. They would say ‘Australia has a ruling class, and there is a class culture that supports it.’ Using my survey data I would reply, ‘But class is not important to most Australians — see here, and here!’ They would respond, ‘Ah, but those people have false consciousness. They’re not even aware of their class position.’ Or they would say, ‘But you didn’t ask the question the right way.’ If I had asked the question the right way, whatever that was, it must have revealed false consciousness. They themselves never used survey data, and regarded it as worthless.

    I see the same all the time in the ‘climate change’ world. Observational evidence to the contrary is diverted by a defensive wall.

    AGW: Warming is continuing.

    Sceptic: But the observations don’t quite support that. Look, here and here. CO2 is going up, but temperature is levelling out if not actually falling.

    AGW: Ah, that must be because of the aerosols.

    Sceptic: Well, why weren’t they there earlier?

    AGW: Ah, well they were there then too, and without them the warming would have been even stronger. Oh, and there’s China as well.

    There are numerous examples of this diversion of criticism through the use of a supplementary hypothesis which the critic is supposed to overturn. IMO, the onus is on the AGWist to provide evidence about the effect of the aerosols, evidence that would be based on observations. TTBOMK that hasn’t been done. It wouldn’t matter, anyway, for the AGWist would have a further supplementary hypothesis (introduction of BEST findings, masking by natural variability, doubt about the sceptic’s data, and so on) — anything that diverts attention from the problem, which is the failure of the prediction to be supported by observation.

    I should add that people can be less than aware of their situation, and that there may be an aerosol effect. But I don’t think it’s the sceptic’s job to play the game set up by the AGWist. If there is an important aerosol effect, it should be demonstrated by those who propose it, not by the sceptic.

    • I think it goes more like
      AGW: It is warming due to CO2 modulated with small amounts of natural variability
      Skeptic: But it stopped warming and it was mostly natural variability anyway
      AGW: It stopped warming because of the natural variability part
      Skeptic: It can’t be natural variability. The CO2 theory must be wrong.

    • “AGW: Warming is continuing.

      Sceptic: But the observations don’t quite support that. Look, here and here. CO2 is going up, but temperature is levelling out if not actually falling.

      AGW: Ah, that must be because of the aerosols.” – Don

      This is just a misunderstadning/misrepresentation of the science.

      There has never been any expectation that there will be a smooth progression of increased temps for year to year. Natural variability will always dominate the short term signal.

      Your argument is just knocking down a straw man and has zilch to do with real scepticism.

      • Michael,

        “Natural variability will always dominate the short term signal.”

        Whatever GISS and Hadley do with their temperature series the fact remains that warming over the last 15 years has been at a crawl.

        Maybe someone could explain exactly what natural variables might be responsible.
        Volcanic eruptions? Nothing major.
        ENSO? Nothing unusual.
        La Ninas? Yes, but to override the CO2 signal they would surely have to be more powerful than they have been.
        The Sun? Well, that would be fun given all the dismissals of solar influences in the past.
        Aerosols? From where? Why now?

        ‘Natural variation’ used to be dismissed as the skeptics battlecry when warming was going on in the 80s and 90s. Now it’s the AGW excuse for little warming.

        If half the research effort that has gone into GHGs had been expended on understanding the actual natural climate mechanisms involved, we might at least know what these variables are to a greater degree.

      • cui bono, this is why it is advisable to only look at decadal average global temperatures. Almost no natural variability survives that filter and you can see the warming signal. The 2000’s were warmer than the 90’s, and I am sure 2005-2015 will be warmer than 1995-2005.

      • I’ll come back to you on that. In 4 years. :-)

      • Jim D

        Are you concerned that the 2010’s won’t be warmer than the 2000’s?

      • “fact remains that warming over the last 15 years has been at a crawl.”

        Shorter cui; yes, it’s undeniably warming, but let me quibble.

      • Anteros, if I was a betting person I would put money on 2010-2020 being warmer than 2000-2010 (and have said so here before). In fact, 2000-2010 presents a soft target to beat with a long solar minimum and no strong El Ninos like 1998. Given the last few decades I would say that the difference would be in the region of 0.15 degrees.

      • Jim D –

        I’d agree with you. Although there’s the minor cherry-picking that can be done. The usual rationale would be to start decades [and centuries, and millennia] with 1.

        Doing that, I’d happily bet that 2011-2020 will be less than 0.15 C warmer than 2001-2010.

        I like 0.15 because it means the IPCC FAR prediction was (and will continue to be) 100% too high. Which is also interesting because it would make the 5 scenario mean best estimate [not including B1] from AR4 also 100% too high – if the warming stays at that rate.

      • Od course I left it out. It’s the cause of all of the confusion. The AGW trend is essentially unchanged in the 2000s, during which one year tied 1998, and four years exceeded it.

        And the trend is continuing right now.

        On to 2015 and the end of this nonsense.

      • Michael : There has never been any expectation that there will be a smooth progression of increased temps for year to year. Natural variability will always dominate the short term signal.

        This is quite true. The question is : how long is short-term? CO2 is going through the roof, and we’ve already gone fifteen years with no appreciable warming, so how many more years before questions need to be asked ?

        About five years ago, Realclimate Gavin’s answer was : another five years. I’m not sure what his position now is though.

    • Don:
      Neatly put.

    • Read against method again.
      Here is a better guide

      http://www.galilean-library.org/site/index.php/page/index.html/_/essays/philosophyofscience/anything-goes-feyerabend-and-method-r76

      “My intention is not to replace one set of general rules by another such set: my intention is, rather, to convince the reader that all methodologies, even the most obvious ones, have their limits. The best way to show this is to demonstrate the limits and even the irrationality of some rules which she, or he, is likely to regard as basic. (1975, 32)”

      • Good stuff, and brought back memories. But I don’t want to read the whole book again! Life moves on.

        In general, the quote you provide seems to me to have a lot to it. Don’t you think so?

    • Don, I found much to like in Judith’s excerpts of Feyerabend’s work, but much that was simply baffling. Take this “…any falsehood that can aid us in the over throw of this tyrant is to be welcomed.” As someone who appears familiar with the man and his work, what the hell is he talking about?

      “the use of a supplementary hypothesis” – I have seen this described as “theory-saving” activity – the CAGW monkeys, as far as I can see, devote the greater portion of there energies to it.

      • TomFP, I am in no way an authority on Feyerabend, but a long time ago I read what he, Lakatos and later Milliband (the father) wrote about method, science and intellectual argument. I found there insights that were worthwhile, plus a lot of stuff that was over my head — and plainly had to do with the life histories of the authors.

        But If you get one worthwhile idea from a book it was really worth reading!

  15. I kind of agree with Mosher but do see some things here that I am not totally comfortable with. In the Wikipedia article on Feyerabend, we are told that

    “He was especially indignant about the condescending attitudes of many scientists towards alternative traditions. For example, he thought that negative opinions about astrology and the effectivity of rain dances were not justified by scientific research, and dismissed the predominantly negative attitudes of scientists towards such phenomena as elitist or racist. In his opinion, science has become a repressing ideology, even though it arguably started as a liberating movement. Feyerabend thought that a pluralistic society should be protected from being influenced too much by science, just as it is protected from other ideologies.”

    Perhaps he was stating an extreme position for effect. I think this goes somewhat too far, but not by much. I do agree with him that science is an ideology and its more militant advocates can be dangerous to human freedom. This is illustrated perhaps best at the edges of science, for example, the social darwinism or eugenicism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries which was a very pervasive idea among intellectuals of all stripes. The only force opposing it was religious. I do believe the tension between science and religion is good because it serves as a check on science. There are lots of other examples. Militant scientific fundamentalism is still around in the form of people like Dawkins and his ilk. The example set by Darwin is far more palatable. We must not forget that the most deadly political ideologies of the 20th century had pseudo-scientific roots, including Communism and Fascism. Bertrand Russell was also in the fundamentalist camp even though he strongly supported freedom and despised both Fascism and Communism and allowed all his children complete freedom to choose religious belief if they wanted. And he bemoans the fact that some became ardent Anglicans. The advocates of scientific fundamentalism claim to be motivated by compassion for the suffering of the deluded masses, but I think its actually something much more selfish.

    The other theme that I think plays a role here is the modern versions of the pagan worship of Nature in various forms. This movement has perhaps captured the environmental movement, having driven out conservationists of a more conservative stripe. It is strange to see the idea that mankind is some sort of evil influence on Nature and that if we don’t sacrifice our standard of living on the alter of Nature, we will all be punished by Nature. One thing that is indisputable is that Christianity is vastly superior to the paganism that it replaced. The resurgence of paganism is something to be concerned about I think. One has only to look at the Roman Empire to see what true tyrrany and corruption looks like. And this is where I disagree with Feyerabend. I don’t view this with equinimity and am concerned, just as Russell was, by the trend since Rousseau away from rationalism and towards what is essesntially paganism.

    • Today it is not religious opposition, it is mostly corporate and political opposition that formulates counter theories to AGW. Would Feyerabend be supportive of those too, despite their obvious self interests and attempts to wield their own power? I suspect he was opposed to any side trying to use science towards a self-interested end, so the politically motivated skeptics wouldn’t get much sympathy from him. It is correct to keep science separate from other issues, so that it is discussed on its own merits by the relevant experts.

      • I agree we should keep science separate from other interests, but in the case of climate science, we may be too far gone for that to happen. I am noting that Mann is getting increasingly involved in the politics, and then there is Hansen. This I think harms science. Anything can be justified by saying “look at how bad my opponents are.” To exercise leadership, you must rise above this level and forgo the strokes obtained by trying to save the world from itself. Let the science speak for itself. And where are the scientists “in the middle?” Perhaps Judith is one of them. But generally, the field is very polorized and everyone I think is pressured to take sides. Judith has talked about how this worked with her. Anyway, I would argue that if Hansen and the team want to win the only way to do it is to get themselves out of politics and try becoming the scientist “in the middle” on the issue.

      • Jim D said, “Today it is not religious opposition, it is mostly corporate and political opposition that formulates counter theories to AGW. ”

        Of course it is. They are Merchants of Doubt. Doubt is skepticism. Skeptics are not to be believed. Skeptics are pawns of big oil, big tobacco, big coal, big nuclear, big electric, big industry, big business. Skeptics are successful. Only big government is to believed. Politicians that do not believe in big government are pawns of the Merchants of Doubt. Religions that do not believe in big government are pawns of the Merchants of Doubt. Only religions that believe in big government are to be trusted. Scientists that believe in religions that do not believe in big government are pawns of Merchants of Doubt.

        If you doubt, you are evil, not to be listened to.

        Totally rational, nothing religious at all as long as you cling to the belief in the evilness of the Merchants of Doubt :(

      • randomengineer

        Today it is not religious opposition, it is mostly corporate and political opposition that formulates counter theories to AGW.

        Nuts.

        The “corporate opposition” thing is a canard. Let’s see, the folks at BigOilCO have ridiculously deep pockets and they use these to recruit the best and the brightest minds. These nascent geniuses then decide to profit obscenely enough that the public is even more prone to supporting policies that threaten nationalisation or killing the business as they know it (i.e. the equivalent to coming up with “42”)

        Wouldn’t *really* evil geniuses at BigOilCo be instead supporting AGW efforts but buying every patent imaginable so as to shift the focus and make even *more* obscene profits? The correct path for BigCoalCo is to buy the patents up for sequestering and **begging** the government to enforce it. They’d make a frakking mint either way.

        In other words, if you want to invent evil bogeymen, can you at least favour us with something not part of 2D central casting in a Michael Moore film?

        This isn’t really that difficult. Where do you guys get your accusatory philosophy from, the back of gum wrappers? Don’t answer; this is mere rhetorical snark. The real answer is that the anti-corporate idiocy on display in this debate (in these pages no less) is part and parcel of a political philosophy where corporations = evil by definition, meaning that if you wake up with a headache, the pavolvian response kicks in: Aha! Coporation. Toothache? Coporation.

        Frankly, I reckon anyone making the “corporation” argument to be a clueless, unimaginative nimrod, and invariably leftist.

      • Yeah, Captain. And btw, they’re coming out with a new Dallas series, so we’ll have Big Oil personified again. J.R really is a piece of work, huh? Not like the Team…

      • randomengineer, I don’t think big oil and big coal were able to recruit the best minds, which is why the skeptical science is so weak, but they have influenced some politicians as a back-stop in case the science can’t be controlled. I think the involvement of big oil like Exxon Mobil in the GCC is more than a rumor, so I can back up what I said quite easily.

      • randomengineer

        …which is why the skeptical science is so weak…

        This is at least three Armstrong giant leaps past absurd. There is no such thing as “skeptical science” and no such effort. Skepticism isn’t an alternative science movement. Skepticism is and has been nothing more than simple doubt. Have you been paying the least bit of attention?

        As for rich oil companies I was referring to their BUSINESS minds, and yes, they really do hire the brightest.

      • randomengineer, the wiser fossil companies are diversifying into non-fossil alternative energy and fuels. Look at BP and Conoco Phillips. They could even benefit from government incentives.
        I agree that there is no skeptical theory, but the efforts to broaden the error bars beyond 2-4.5 C per doubling are consistently aiming at the low side, which looks motivated to me. If the science is so uncertain, why not the high side too? Makes you wonder, doesn’t it.

      • JimD,

        “I agree that there is no skeptical theory, but the efforts to broaden the error bars beyond 2-4.5 C per doubling are consistently aiming at the low side, which looks motivated to me. If the science is so uncertain, why not the high side too? Makes you wonder, doesn’t it.”

        I dunno…. maybe it’s something to do with the fact that empirical observations thus far showing temperatures falling on the low side of the 2-4.5c is making us sceptics stupidly think that temperatures might well end up staying on the low side of the 2-4.5c!

      • randomengineer

        …the wiser fossil companies are diversifying into non-fossil alternative energy and fuels.

        They’re energy companies. That’s why they hire the bright guys and gals. I’d be a lot more concerned if they didn’t do that. They’re supposed to make money and be agnostic about it.

        Wise people operating utilities also exist; PG&E was negotiating for a pilot spaceborne solar plant until the economy went sideways. When the US gov’t pull its head out of its collective rear and gets adult level serious re energy policy I’d expect to see a lot of action in spaceborne solar and BP et al joining in accordingly, being the evil capitalists that they are. By the way was it BP that just recently dumped the PV solar unit? Wise move. Boondoggle brought to you by the current administration, and even deep oil pockets can’t make that work well enough. But spaceborne, that will work.

      • That is the problem with a random engineer. He scoffs at conventional PV, yet blithely accepts the possibility of spaceborne solar with absolutely no supporting evidence. You hold the most contrarian, negative attitude of anyone I routinely come across. I suppose you have done the crosswalk of terrestrial vs spaceborne solar in your gigantic brain, and see no need to elaborate for the rest of us. You see that would be in opposition to capitalistic principles, trade secrets and all. But please just this once could you spare to enlighten us with the trade study details?

      • Jim D,
        You misrepresent the skeptical basis for disagreeing AGW completely.
        Re-ask the question in a way that is not deceptive, please.

      • randomengineer

        WHT

        PV has its place but until physicists invent storage systems that work it doesn’t scale hence is not usable as a replacement for a coal plant. Ditto for wind. Without storage these aren’t useful as replacement tech. They don’t work to replace coal plants. Taxpayer money needs to be spent on stuff that can work. Not feelgood boondoggles.

        Spaceborne is something that has been known since the 70’s and awaits mere engineering refinement and political cajones. It’s the only “green” tech that works 24/7 and can scale and fits requirements NOW to replace coal plants.

        Feel free to utilise google in your quest for knowledge. Your reluctance to embrace spaceborne is largely rooted in what’s called in silicon valley as the NIH syndrome — not invented here. You have your sacred cow which is wrapped tightly with your anti-corporate political views and this blocks your view of everything. And you’re the guy who claims to embrace science. Ironic.

      • What a random dunderhead. By just invoking the term “spaceborne”, are we supposed to immediately genuflect to this as an answer?
        Your lazy-ass recommendation to use Google will result in just as many cons as pros to the approach. If you have an argument, then spell it out.

      • Jim D,
        The assertion that the best minds are not avaiable to industry and the inference that the ‘best minds’ are in academia is a really interesting assertion. Certainly you have some facts to back that up?

      • I can’t speak for JimD, but perhaps because they are mainly rock jocks? I know, can’t help recalling trash talk from college days.

    • Don’t expect the fossil fuel energy industry to be the least bit reflective. No one from that industry has sponsored a general interest book describing any of the challenges we face. And why should or would they, since corporations are only interested in profit. The consultants to the industry are the henchmen, with pundits like Daniel Yergin willing to create optimistic scenarios as his consultancy rakes in money from the databases that he sells back to his energy clients.

      It is up to someone independent to analyze the data and it certainly won’t be from the fossil fuel industry.

      As far as skeptical science is concerned, yes that rather broad discipline does exist, and it is best exemplified by Michael Shermer’s long running skeptic society and website, http://www.skeptic.com. Curious as to why Shermer has never investigated pressing energy or climate concerns as subjects for skepticism? You should submit something and see what the response is. Or is Shermer not radical enough for your refined sense of skepticism? He did write some good books, one of which is called “Why do people believe in weird things?”. I probably should submit my crackpot page to Shermer’s site.

      • WHT,
        More and more you are just a kook.

      • That’s an improvement. Last September you called me an illiterate and an imbecile in the same sentence.

      • WHT,
        As long as you keep pitching Malthusian bs, any of those adjectives can fit that part of what you are pushing. Talk to people with some skin in the game regarding oil. You are so far off base that you are out of the stadium.
        You are obviously extremely smart and well educated. You are just wrong on your take regarding petroleum and gas resources.

      • randomengineer

        Hunter –You are obviously extremely smart and well educated. You are just wrong on your take regarding petroleum and gas resources.

        I concur re the former but not necessarily the latter. WHT is demonstrably smart and more right than wrong. Peak oil *is* something to be concerned about. Where web loses me is that he’s too wrapped up in green politics which then fouls the message to the point that it comes across as malthusian. Were web to adopt a more centrist political stance I think he’d be among the leaders everyone could trust to know WTF is happening and trust to recommend policy that was workable.

        i.e. as I see things it’s not the science that goes sideways, but the political view.

  16. An interesting historical perspective on the involvement of intellectuals in politics can be found in Samuel Morison’s Oxford History of the American People: “The depression not only spawned demagogues and cranks, each with his own panacea, but had a devastating effect on many young college graduates and other jobless intellectuals. It seemed to prove that representative government was finished. Whither, then, to turn? Polarity being a weakness of intellectuals, many decided to save America by embracing one of the two competing ideologies in Europe — fascism and communism.” He then goes on to describe how communists coopted some labor unions and even effected Lend/Lease at the time Stalin was allied with Hitler and the role of intellectuals in both the communist and fascist movements.

    Will history have an equally harsh judgment of our current crop of climate scientists and their adventures in politics?

  17. Michael Larkin

    Judith,

    I strongly recommend what Rupert Sheldrake has to say pertaining to this issue, which is, at bottom, a philosophical, even metaphysical, one. See:

    http://www.ctr4process.org/media/index.shtml#2011103

    Scroll down to “Conversations with Rupert Sheldrake” and check out the first video (Rupert Sheldrake on The Failure of Materialism) – and following ones if you have time – I recommend starting that first video at 22.30.

    Please don’t be put off by the fact that Rupert’s presentations are delivered and discussed at a college of theology. His emphasis ultimately is on science, because Sheldrake is a scientist, and a good one, but in addition, has a first-class, wide-ranging intellect. He covers the points in his first video in more detail in his new book, “The science delusion”, available at Amazon.

    Please ignore any prejudices or preconceptions about Sheldrake. Listen to his lecture before judging him. You might have to turn the volume up high as the recording level is quite low.

  18. What annoys me most is the wide spread use of “pseudo science” by groups and governments to force new policies down our throats.


  19. In society at large the judgement of the scientist is received with the same reverence as the judgement of bishops and cardinals was accepted not too long ago.

    It is great that the behind the scene doings of these scientists are now exposed, and hopefully looking at them with reverence will hopefully further diminish.

    • Grima – When a scientists speech is not dogmatic it is heard.

      Ian Clark turned around the dogma a year ago, because of dogma residual, there is a slow lapse rate for the dissipation of Anthropogenic Climate Warming hypothesis. The attractor known as reason was always going to tip it over.

      People like Josh, Cui Bono, Web Hub, Robert are like fleas unable to rid themselves from their host.

      The Dog has been consumed, only the tail remains.

      • markus –

        A strange concoction you have there. Cui bono and the idiot in the same sentence? A bit harsh methinks.

      • Thanks Anteros. I’ll come up witha devastating rejoinder to Markus, as soon as I figure out what he’s talking about! ;-)

      • “cui bono | January 16, 2012 at 4:46 am |

        Thanks Anteros. I’ll come up witha devastating rejoinder to Markus, as soon as I figure out what he’s talking about! ;-)”

        I’m in first. I seen any devestating rejoiners to other posters here from you, so I’ll be waiting awhile.

      • Hmm. Presumably you mean you ‘*haven’t* seen any devastating rejoinders..’.

        Why have you lumped me with 3 of the main spokesmen here for AGW? I’m more of a skeptic. If you haven’t realised this it implies either that your reading ability is very poor, or that the subtlety and fairness of my skepticism has led you to a wrong conclusion.

      • markus,
        Always and never are seldom true.
        Hansen has gotten away with dogmatic gibberish being heard at the highest levels of gov. for decades.
        cui bono is the antidote for the trolls you list him with. Perhaps you can clarify yourself a bit better?

      • Why have you lumped me with 3 of the main spokesmen here for AGW?

        Maybe he’s judging on the weight of your arguments, or your charm, not the side of the debate you’re on.

      • Hunter – thanks my friend.

        Joshua – now is that a compliment or an insult? I’ll take it as a compliment since I don’t think I’ve ever been rude to anyone here, so must have built up masses of goodwill. :-)

      • cui bono –

        It was a joke, my friend. I was pretending that the reason he included you in that group was because he felt that group was notable for their charm and/or weighty arguments.

        In reality, I suspect that he is \judging commenters based on the side of the debate they’re on rather than on any other aspect of their posts. He must have mistaken you for a “warmist,” and concluded that makes you like a flea.

        Well – either that or his reasoning is completely incoherent rather than just facile. Sometimes it’s hard to tell. Hopefully, he’ll post more so we can understand his logic (or lack thereof) better.

      • Ok. Thanks Joshua. I’ll put away the Spot-On for the moment. :-)

      • Joshua (and cui bono) –

        Actually I thought it was a damn fine joke.

        And if I were forced to choose, I think ‘facile’ would be a little lenient :)

  20. Judith,

    The problem with current science…

    If you create a whole new idea which has a large implication in science and yet is not marketable, you loose the science.
    Publishing science looks to follow a certain methodology. Following the current consensus only boxes in science that it cannot expand into unexplored areas.
    The current “science is settled” is the perfect example of confining science for a certain outcome which is fiction driven rather than fact driven as it should be with following science instead of creating fictional science.

    We have a perfect time to explore mechanical applications of our planet that were never considered due to the generalizing and confining.
    This would require reviewing science from the beginning.
    There is a vast many mistakes made with billions of dollars backing the scientists. Bringing up these mistakes will be ignored as the current scientists are the experts. Yet mistakes are mistakes and one day will catch up with the scientists that choose to ignore rather than explore.

  21. I never liked Feyerabend, as my interpretation of his views was that all opinions could be rendered equal, which I don’t think is remotely true. If you want to know about physics or chemistry, ask a scientist. If you want to know how to build a bridge, ask an engineer. If you want ideas about theology, ask a priest. If you want to be annoyed beyond endurance, talk to a Californian mystic with a collection of pet rocks and ‘healing crystals’.

    Science has notched up some amazing triumphs in the last few years. The ‘standard model’ of particle physics; decoding the human genome; finding planets around distant stars (which beggars belief). It may be it has led to some scientists suffering from overconfidence (ie: ‘getting cocky’). And if the science is wrong and unchallenged, the consequences can be dire.

    So perhaps Feyerabend had a point about science, the state and society: the ‘tyranny of science’ now cascades down and affects ordinary people in practical ways.

    For example:

    A windfarm (nice word for a monstrous collection of giant turbines) is proposed for a beautiful area of the English countryside. The locals villagers, including environmentalists, object. They hold meetings and sign petitions against it.

    Despite this, the planning authorities say it will go ahead. When asked how they can do this against local wishes, they cite new planning regulations which have been specifically introduced to allow new construction against any form of nimbyism, particularly against windfarms.

    Why was this introduced? Because Parliament passed laws mandating windfarms all over the countryside, together with ambitious targets for their construction (the 2008 Climate Change Act).

    Why did they pass this Act? The ‘need for a low-carbon economy’, supported by government scientists, the Green lobby, the wind turbine industry, bien pensant opinion formers, all citing the IPCC and warnings from climate scientists that ‘we must act now to avoid disaster’.

    Why did the IPCC come to this conclusion? Because the dominant assumption in climate science is that CO2 controls the long-term climate, and will brook no doubts on the matter.

    So we go from technical arguments about whether climate sensitivity is nearer 1 degree or 2 degrees, right through to the total helplessness of ordinary ‘little people’ who have no say about vast concrete & steel monsters appearing in their midst. In short, some calculations and theories from Hansen, Trenberth, Santer, Jones et al end up destroying the peace of the village.

    Did anyone think of the villagers, or the voters? Not in the UK, at least.

    I don’t believe that the climate scientists have the doubts about their theories that they should have. At least not in public. The triumphal Roman conquerers had a guy whispering in their ear “you are not the hotshot you think you are”. Cromwell had “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, consider it possible that you may be wrong”. All we get now is “the debate is over; the science is settled”. Certainty and power are a dangerous combination.

    /End of rant

    • cui bono –

      Nice post – but I have a question (I will put in some ellipses to help make my point):

      So perhaps Feyerabend had a point about science, the state and society: the ‘tyranny of science’ now cascades down and affects ordinary people in practical ways.

      For example:

      Why was this introduced? Because Parliament passed laws mandating windfarms all over the countryside, together with ambitious targets for their construction (the 2008 Climate Change Act).

      It seems to me that here you are equating an act of Parliament to an act of tyranny against ordinary people. Given that Parliament is an elected body – elected by ordinary people – I see that equation as problematic. Could you address that issue? (Extra points if you can do so without necessitating that WHT invoke Godwin’s Law.) Assuming that you don’t think that all acts of Parliament are tyrannical – what criterion do you apply to determine which are tyrannical and which are not?

      • heh – I forgot to put in the ellipsis – but I think you can tell where I meant to put it in.

      • Fair point Joshua, but…

        The best form of tyranny does not stamp on your face with a jackboot (do I get away that under Godwin’s Law?). The best ensures that no-one publically would dare to put themselves in the firing line by voicing any dissent.

        My complaint was that throughout the whole process the scientific consensus was never challenged; that MPs never consulted with anyone besides environmental lobby groups; the public was not heard, the press was squared, and that virtually no MPs spoke or voted against the Act.

        Why, in a dermocracy, was there near unanimity on the matter? MPs are not known for their knowledge of science (I think one, possibly two, have science degrees).

        No, MPs felt that Science Has Spoken, and that was the end of the matter. No need to think or ask awkward questions. Science-Has-Spoken.

        The tyranny is not that of an Act of Parliament, it’s the tyranny of decision-makers being in thrall to an idea that they probably only half understand, for fear of being labelled a dolt or a denier.

        Keynes once complained that decision-makers were under the control of ‘long-dead economists’. Now it’s once-obscure scientists

        Things have changed somewhat since 2008. Voices of dissent can be heard, and some media outlets don’t even label them cranks, kooks or on a par with pedophiles. Questions are sometimes asked when the phrase ‘the science is settled’ passes someones lips.

        In short, the Tyranny of Science is a Tyranny of Thought, rather than politics. And the Tyranny only occurs when scientists keep any doubts they may have to themselves and disabuse any dissent. If they have any doubts – frankly, it’s difficult to imagine Hansen laying awake at night wondering whether he might be completely wrong.

        To laymen like MPs, it appeared that scientists have thrown the climate cap over the wall, and they had *no alternative* but to follow.

      • Hehe. ‘Dermocracy’. Well, they say politicians are thick-skinned….

      • cui bono –

        For someone who started with an aversion to Feyerabend, you have a wonderful knack of expressing the heart of his critique!

        I think he was a huge fan of science but felt its greatest prospect of ruin (and causing harm) was for it to be treated as the sole golden avenue to truth – in exactly the way that many religions become tyrannical and in direct opposition to their original purpose . So he said some very provocative things about astrology [precisely because all of us with at least a smattering of science view it as garbage. Promoting something like Chinese medicine, or talking therapies which science-based people don't dismiss out of hand in the same way, wouldn't have made his point quite as well].

        I’d agree that when Feyerabend sounds like he is anti-science, he loses his appeal.

      • cui bono –

        It isn’t questioning how elected officials make decisions, or what influences might come to play in the decisions they make, that I find problematic.

        In that sense, I think that claims of tyranny should be very carefully considered – and the “jackboot” comment would, IMO, invoke Godwin’s law.

        I don’t have much knowledge about the circumstances in Britain – but I do know that energy and other industrial lobbies are not exactly “never consulted” in the formation of energy and related policies in the U.S. – (and I suspect that isn’t the case in Britain either). I don’t see American politicians being particularly driven by, as a rule, a fear of being labeled a dolt or a denier. I don’t see evidence of a “tyranny of thought.”

        This speaks to the problem I have with much of what I see from extremist libertarians, and some of the comments I see from “skeptics” w/r/t the climate debate.

        Concepts such as a “tyranny of thought,” or a “tyranny of science,” or a “tyranny of the majority” have a very important place in discussions about our political process and policy development in areas such as energy policy. But IMO, the importance of considering those concepts loses relevance when they are used in a facile manner to further a political agenda (not unlike Nazi analogies).

        Could there be a tyrannical aspect of how scientific evidence is considered by some scientists? Of course. As a theoretical construct, a consideration of tyranny is useful. But when we begin to evaluate what happens on the ground in detail more carefully, over-attribution becomes counterproductive.

        I don’t think that many scientists have a “blind trust in science.” In fact, the phrase “the science is settled” is uttered far more frequently by “skeptics” as a rhetorical straw man than it is uttered by scientists. The IPCC view of AGW as 90% likely to explain more than 50% of recent warming is, in itself, a contradiction to the accusation of a “blind trust in science.”

        Whether or not some scientists have appropriately assessed their level of certainty in appropriate measure given the certainty of the evidence is a valid question. But even if some scientists have not accurately quantified their certainty (something that I can’t evaluate given my limited background and intellect) there is some space between insufficiently substantiated quantification of uncertainty and a “blind trust in science” or “tyranny.” Failure to recognize that space suggests to me a binary mentality.

        And just a warning – there is a slippery slope from unintentional typing of the term “Dermocracy” to intentional typing of the term “Dumbocrats” ;-)

      • Anteros –

        I think he was a huge fan of science but felt its greatest prospect of ruin (and causing harm) was for it to be treated as the sole golden avenue to truth – in exactly the way that many religions become tyrannical and in direct opposition to their original purpose .

        Did someone around here say something about doom-saying?

      • Yes. Feyerabend strikes me as a very intellectually playful sort of chap, the sort who likes to throw the cat in with the pidgeons to shake up others opinions. A bit like Socrates. Of course this can be very annoying (look what happened to Socrates!).

        Still, every time I read him I had the overpowering desire to throw his work out of the nearest window, simply because he *did* equate science and religion. But listening to Hansen, he was definitely on to something.

      • Anteros

        Sorry – last remarks were in reply to you. The thread keeps expanding.

      • cui bono,
        You are being sucked in by the troll. His feigned offense at your use of ‘jack booted thugs’ is simply desigend to allow him to control what you say. He will revert to his pseudo-analysis of your comments soon, in a rather transparent attempt to stop your critique and manage the dialog to his goals.

      • Joshua –

        “Did someone around here say something about doom-saying?

        Even great thinkers like Feyerabend can be prone to irrational worry, needless fear and wild-doom imaginings. It is an almost ubiquitous human failing.

        Overcoming our fear of the dark may be the last great challenge for our species. Follow me ;)

      • cui bono –

        Heed hunter’s warning. My goals are Machiavellian. My intent is to protect the AGW-cabal from your critique. If too many people read opinions such as yours, I feel the entire house of cards will crumble.

        But just to clarify – I take no personal offense at your “jackboot” comment. I recognize it for what it was – part of a discussion of the merits of asserting tyranny.

        I don’t even take offense when hunter or others regularly insult me (or others) on these pages. Such insults are what they are: same old, same old.

      • hunter –

        I wouldn’t fear for cui bono’s safety. Joshua tends to attack mostly extremists/inconsistents [and Judith, and American conservatives, and people who use "skeptic" in a way he doesn't approve of (cf prescriptivism)]

        cui bono – Hansen is a good example, but so is your general description of the wind turbine thing – all because the new ‘priests’ decreed it so. I think an honest worth should be given to “because we don’t effing like it thank you very much!”

        It doesn’t do science any good to be raised inappropriately high – pride & falls and all that. Does mentioning Lysenko invoke a sort of Godwin’s echo?

      • Joshua,
        Having studied Machiavelli, I can assure you that you are no Machiavelli, but are instead a pretentious long winded troll.

      • Anteros –

        Could you please define what you mean by “attack?”

        As for this:

        and people who use “skeptic” in a way he doesn’t approve of (cf prescriptivism)]

        Whatever your meaning, I don’t “attack” anyone for their use of the word skeptic (spelling corrected, note). I offer my observations on what I see as the accuracy and biases connoted by different terms – and I use terms that I believe are more neutral and less biased.

        In contrast, it seems to me that it is you who has repeatedly criticized my usage of various terms (if by “attacked’ you mean criticized).

        Also – I am a descriptivist, not a prescriptivist. It seems to be you that says my terminology is invalid based on a prescriptive take on how the terms should or should not be used (I’m paraphrasing your comment about how I’m a minority of one, or something like that). I offer the rationale behind my usage of the terms, independent of how they might typically be viewed by others, and allow you to judge for yourself the validity of my rationale.

      • Joshua –

        I believe I’m very much miss-represented by you repeating that I think there is a vast asymmetry in the climate debate. To my recollection I’ve never said such a thing, and in fact, in discussion with you I have frequently agreed to see symmetries in many areas. And continuously, I’ve asserted that tribalism, motivated reasoning and confirmation biases exist throughout and all over.

        However, I believe there are some quite striking asymmetries. Some to do with majority/minority, mainstream/fringe and so on – some of which I agree with Judith about (but some not). What stands out perhaps is the dooming – apart from your bakers dozen of fanatics (cwon, Don and their band of not-so-merry men) I see a large number of people worrying and a smaller – but still vocal – number of people who simply don’t see the need for worry. They find the alarmed/alarmists strange and think this talk of potential catastrophe as very unrealistic.

        People mostly the same everywhere; the belief in something bringing out different things from a lack of belief in that something.

      • Anteros,

        Out of that mostly unintelligible verbous screed I got that josh had misrepresented your views (not surprising) and that I am a fanatic. Care to explain that last thing?

      • Anteros –

        I believe I’m very much miss-represented by you repeating that I think there is a vast asymmetry in the climate debate.

        Sorry for misrepresenting your views. I was referring to what I recall as your designation of a (vast?) asymmetry in the degree of doom-saying on the different sides of the debate. That seems to me to be a rather consistent theme running through your comments.

        What stands out perhaps is the dooming – apart from your bakers dozen of fanatics (cwon, Don and their band of not-so-merry men) I see a large number of people worrying and a smaller – but still vocal – number of people who simply don’t see the need for worry.

        And here I feel misrepresented in your characterization of my perspective. I consider extremists to be extremists. I find their presence in the debate to be of relevance, but I don’t characterize all “skeptics” in such a fashion. I think it is important, however, to clarify influences of extreme beliefs on both sides of the debate.

        To that point – I don’t consider cui bono, as one example, to be an extremist of the type you mention above, but I do think that his easy allusion to tyranny was a rather extreme argument. The same would apply, IMO, to your belief about an asymmetry in the doom-saying on the different sides of the debate – at a site where I regularly read what strikes me as doom-saying from “skeptics” about the outcome of phenomena I find to be quite rare,such as a “blind trust in science,” or assertions that the “science is settled.” It is not only the clearly extremist “skeptics” who dip their toe into the extreme end of the pool as they search for ways to make meaning of the climate debate. I think it is also less extremist “skeptics” who, IMO, overattribute views such as a “blind trust in science.”

        In fact, I made a similar point to you w/r/t your characterization of doom-saying on the “realist” side of the debate; I think that you sometimes inaccurately characterize those who express concern about potentially catastrophic impact from anthropogenic CO2 emissions as doom-sayers.

        Anyway, gotta go for now.

      • Joshua –

        Cross-posting..

        By ‘attack’ I mean criticise with sarcasm, as opposed to discuss/debate.

        We obviously mean something different by the terms descriptive/prescriptive which is interestingly self-referential. My central point is that insist on using a meaning for a word that has nothing to do with what the word is doing in the description of the people who use it/it is used for.

        It is simple. A climate “skeptic” is someone who has a lack of belief in one or other of the central tenets of the AGW consensus. It is used in a way that has bugger all to do with philosophical scepticism, Hume or anything you and I might connote if we talked about “skepticism” Nothing – might as well be a different string of letters.

        Now, to use this miss-understanding of what is meant by “climate skeptic” to attack people incessantly verges on the crazy. What is the point? It is beyond superficial – it is like gratuitous heckling I.e. only justified by rampant tribalism. Which makes your frequent mention of tribalism extremely ironic.

        It bugs me – obviously – and does so because I think you could be having a substantive debate with interested and interesting people who have a different view of the world to yourself. Take it as a compliment – I see it as repetitively wasteful of your brain and reasoning. It’s being stuck on a word – and for what it’s worth it is not words that have meaning, but people. Adjust to that and the obsession with “skeptic will vanish”

      • Before I go, I should add that it is not only non-extremist “skeptics” who dip their toe into the extreme end of the pool; non-extremist “realists” do so also, at times. I tend to doubt that there is any notable asymmetry in that regard.

      • Joshua –

        OK. No problem.

        If you pass by again, I think the nub of our disagreement about doom-saying may be that if you mention concern about “potentially catstrophic…..” I do indeed hear doom-saying. It is the language of fear and panic etc.

        This comes for me to the really central point of the debate – I don’t think it is just cultural prejudices and politics etc that lead people naturally to one side of the debate or the other – I think it is even deeper than that [and those deeper things may explain people politics and other views]

        Simply – are we anxious about the future? About change? About the dark? About human agency in the world? Do we have any residue of guilt or shame?

        I accept this is a one-sided perspective [people alarmed about the weather of tomorrow are just those prone to worry/ people carrying guilt/shame] but if you like that is my truth, my belief.

        It’s a while since I said this so….”Someone, somewhere has been saying “we’re heading for a catastrophe” every day since man first learned to speak”

        Thus I see the prophecies of Paul Ehrlich and Lester Brown as expressions of an emotional disposition and utterly unrelated to the reality of the Universe.

        Now you’ll see why I think “realists” are those who are unaffected by the meme of ‘potential catastrophe’.

        I’ve gone on too long……apologies.

      • Anteros | January 16, 2012 at 1:05 pm |

        ………………………….

        “I’ve gone on too long……apologies.”

        Thank you. It was getting quite tedious. You people write by the pound. Surely, josh can carry on with his foolishness without you for a while. You may resume your duties as his strawman, when you have rested up.

      • Joshua It seems to me that here you are equating an act of Parliament [[forcing windfarms on people who don't want them]] to an act of tyranny against ordinary people. Given that Parliament is an elected body – elected by ordinary people – I see that equation as problematic. Could you address that issue?

        In what way is using proactive force [ie political action] to impose windfarms on people who don’t want them, not tyranny?

        And if citizens A and B vote to rob or coerce citizen C, is that not tyranny because it’s “democratic” ?

    • randomengineer

      Despite this, the planning authorities say it will go ahead. When asked how they can do this against local wishes, they cite new planning regulations which have been specifically introduced to allow new construction against any form of nimbyism…

      I suspect that if the government were implementing things that actually work that you (and others) would have a different view on this, leaning more to a “someone has to pitch in for the team” viewpoint. i.e. if they were building 4th generation nukes (ridiculously safe) sure there would be pushback but this would be more from hippie crackpot types as opposed to the citizen paying sober attention (you.)

      The question is this — how much of this rant would you be making if you knew the technology in question was a proper answer? It seems to me that your rant is more about your disappointment in legislative idiocy and sheer gullibility than not.

      • randomengineer.

        You’re right, I’m showing a bias against wind.

        Although there are some differences in the two scenarios. Thousands of wind turbines all over the place vs. 10-20 (?) 4G nukes, and the new nukes could be put near the old nukes, the ones being decommisioned. In the case of the nukes, I suspect it would not be the locals who would be aggrieved, but busloads of imported protesters.

        That we have turbines rather than nukes is indeed more down to ‘legislative idiocy’ and the influence of Green lobbyists.

        I’d still stand by my point (while wishing I’d chosen a better example) that the whole process from IPCC to impact on ordinary folks was and is untarnished by any original thought. It was as if the Mount Sinai of the IPCC had laid down the law before MPs even got on the scene.

      • cui bono,
        The anti-nuke / pro-wind policies around the world are a failure of process.
        Tiny groups of loud extremists have hijacked the public square and sold ignorance to the detriment of the people and the environment.

  22. There are many points in Feyerabend’s essay that I largely agree with. That applies mostly to the section “Against Method”, but not so much to “Against Results”. On the very basic level I agree that everything is to some degree relative, absolute thruths and strict requirements on methods do not exist or are erroneous, but there’s much more justified practical certainty than Feyerabend is willing to accept. I believe that I have expressed these views repeatedly in other threads on this site. To me all judgments are relative, but many are certain “beyond reasonable doubt”.

    Science can be defined as an abstract concept or as practical activity that scientists are doing. The abstract concept is essentially an ideal that we hope the practical science to approach. It’s an imaginary process that has the virtues often listed for science: progress towards more and more correct knowledge through self-correcting processes. It’s abstract and not controlled by anybody or misused by anybody.

    In the real world some people will always wish to give the impression that they are the real high priests of science, while some others don’t pretend that they are scientists themselves but know, what to conclude based on science.

    The problems of science that appear to have led Feyerabend to his ideas about the results of science appear be due to bad science and the capability of the bad science to masquerade itself as real representative of science. This is a real program that we’ll never get rid of, but do believe that the real science cannot deviate from the ideal so strongly and for so long that the practical conclusions of Feyerabend would be justified. He uses repeatedly exampes to formulate his views on the value of real world scientific knowledge in a way that I find totally unjustified. The alternative ideas that he wants to allow on essentailly the same footing as science are not worth it.

    Perhaps we should put more weight on his remark in the introductory paragraph: To make the book sell I thought l should make my contribution a provocative one and the most provocative statement one can make about the relation between science and religion is that science is a religion.

    • Pekka, One of my takeaways is that we should be slow to “enact” the findings of science in the political or personal sphere. This has a lot of resonance for me. My brother keeps telling me not to worry about a lot of minor medical effects, such as cholesterol a little higher than the Ideal level. The effect on life expectancy is pretty small. It gets even dicier when the government comes in and tries to legislate behaviour or thoughts.

      Another thing that is very deep that supports Feyerabend is Gordel’s incompleteness theorem. Basically, there are fundamental limits to what the axiomatic method and by extension science can prove or disprove. You may be familiar with this because it was the root cause of Russell and Whitehead’s struggles to finish the Principia. There are simply a large number propositions in simple mathematical axiomatic systems that can be proven to be undecidable, i.e., it is impossible to prove them true or false. That does leave open the prospect that we may learn something of value outside the bounds of science. One might even argue that nonlinear systems exhibit this phenomena in that there are some features that are in practice impossible to predict. Fortunately, there are other things that can be predicted. Sorry this is vague, but I don’t have time to go look up the details from graduate school.

  23. Feyerabend is wrong, in the sense that Marxism didn’t deteriorate. It was wrong from the start on. The first sentence of the Communist Manifest show clearly that it was. History of men is not the history of class struggle, even when such events occurred every now and then.

    The very concept idealism and ideology is wrong, because they try to emulate the enormous insight that formulas gave to physics. While rather simple laws and mathematics were the explanation of complex gravitational systems such as our solar system, this does not work for history, society, culture or the general human condition.

  24. Judith,

    Is this kosher?:

    LINK DELETED: JC

    Is it OK for anonymous guests to remotely smear your guests, who choose to not hide their identities, and post a link here? DELETED JC

    • I don’t know how to get on google docs. From what you describe, it sounds awful. I am very much opposed to this kind of thing, but I don’t see what I can do other than go through all the posts and delete that link from the site. I will do that now.

      What thread was this originally posted on? can’t find it, but still looking

      • Judith

        WHT also called me a crank in that document and made a link to ‘the long slow thaw’ that took things out of context. I think the sad thing is that it has completely changed my view of WHT, who I had always taken to be a rational and mature commenter. It does his reputation no good at all to spend time developing this stuff. One thing we learn of course is that he seems frightened of what history can tell us about past climates.

        Can I suggest again to him that, if for no other reason than preserving his reputation, he removes this nonsense?.
        tonyb

    • I am sure that WHT has done background checks on all of us crank skeptics. What a moron.

    • Maybe Robert can host Web’s link and feature it prominently at his site. Seems like it might fit.

      I found it quite helpful as a resource, since I am not that regular a visitor. It could help in wading through the comment section. I still have the link and will try to make sure to share it.

  25. Judith,

    It is near the top of this thread. Thank you.

  26. josh thought it was funny:

    Joshua | January 15, 2012 at 4:23 pm |

    Funny. The list is surprisingly short, although I’d question whether tony makes the grade.

    • Don –

      I think that your constant stream of insults directed at me (putz, racist, misogynist, anti-semite, blah, blah) are funny also.

      I take no offense either way to insults made in blog comments. I find them to be instructive about the mindset of the insulter – as is the case with McKitrick, as one notable example.

      Questioning WHT’s mindset on the basis of his use of insults is fair game, IMO, just as it would be with anyone else who uses insults as a rhetorical device in discussions about difference of opinion.

      • Josh,

        There is a difference between an insult and a smear/defamation. You could readily see it, if your ox was being gored. That is why when I call you a hypocrite, it is not an insult. It is the truth.

      • Ok, Don –

        I thought that when you repeatedly call me a misogynist or an anti-semite, blah, blah, it was tantamount to a smear.

        Now I realize that it was just you presenting the “truth” about my character.

        Sorry for my confusion.

      • I don’t recall calling you an anti-semite, joshy. Did you just make that up too? I don’t think pointing out that you are self-loathing counts. You are clearly anti-Christian. Your other prejudices, that I often point out, are also evident. I am not the only who sees through you. And now we know that you think it’s funny, when some anonymous coward smears another person’s name with slimy innuendo, simply because the man with a name opposes (in his quaint way) the alleged consensus climate science. Have you people got no shame?

    • Bill C thinks the thing about Oliver is a bit suspect. I hope people don’t “go there” because they think he’s a kook.

    • Don, “This list is surprisingly short,..”

      I know, I am so disappointed to miss my chance at crackpotdoom. Perhaps I should leap to greater conclusions?

      • Me too.
        I feel I’ve let myself down. :(
        I mean, come on. tonyb got in and he doesn’t even espouse a theory, let alone a crackpot one!

  27. The reason these boards are often imbalanced is the false equivalence that Dr. Curry maintains between sides. Of course the center of political gravity is the eco-left, academically biased (left-wing) and pro-statist (UN/IPCC/Government funded research/leftist media, MSM) enclaves have dominated AGW promotion. The knee-jerk reactions to skeptical purity obfuscates the main point which comes up all the time.

    It isn’t enough to talk about “ideology” or “activism”, you have to identify exactly what it is to get to honest discussion. AGW is about all of the things many skeptics and I point out; eco-left, green party group think and peer bonding. Skeptics gain nothing but a halt in social decline in their view in the debate. AGW advocates have gained power, money and social/political advancement of their general world-view as far as it has gone. It reinforces educational propaganda and social customs to the eco-green-left, anti-production/capitalism life style.

    All the parties envolved should be identified on their greater political objectives and associations, then you get a better sense of the dispute. Day to day, Dr. Curry avoids the obvious and only covers it in generaliztions and summary posts. Window dressing.

    • cwon14:
      I think you are making a similar point to the one I was trying to make earlier. Problems in these arenas come not from methodologies and ideologies but from individuals – individuals with agendas, objectives and psychological predispositions that should be clearly understood when assessing their scientific contributions and decisions that affect science. (See The Tyranny of Newton mentioned above.).

      • Example; Dr. Curry lists an interesting post from “Armed and Dangerous” only due to the “Error Cascade”. Until she affirms the reality of Climate Zombie’s, Green Shirts and Gaianists and can discuss it the boards are deadends. How about an article from James Delingpole on what the real pulse of AGW politics is really about;

        Dr. Curry still offers shelter to the orthodox AGW minions even if she makes abstract criticism. Hence we have mush instead of truth about AGW advocacy.

  28. I read WebHubTelescope’s list before the link was deleted, and enjoyed the spirited attack. But I felt that, as he does from time, WHT rather missed the point. Very few of the sceptics have their own theory, and no one is obliged to have a theory. It is AGW which is the theory, and sceptics are sceptical of one or more aspects of it. Concentrating on those with a rival theory misses the point that the focus of virtually all of us is on the orthodox theory.

    I don’t have a theory at all. I see that the data that purport to measure temperature are pretty awful, especially those reporting SST, that global temperature itself is a strange, error-laden concept, that proxies come with their own error problems, that we may or may not have warmed over the 20th century, that we may or may not have experienced unprecedented warming, that all the forecasts of what might happen are based on models that are in their infancy, that warming may be a net blessing, that we still don’t know much about sensitivity, and that whatever relationship carbon dioxide increases have with global temperature they don’t seem to have had much effect in the last fifteen years.

    I am open to evidence one way or the other, and there is a lot of quasi-evidence knocked back and forth in the literature and cited here. But I remain deeply sceptical that we presently know enough to think that a carbon tax will have any effect whatever on anything other than making most of us poorer and some of us slightly richer.

    And WHT missed entirely the point of tonyb’s most interesting post, which is that generation after generation has had to endure strange weather that was out of the lived experience of its members. That is a salutary reminder to us, if not to WHT, that attributing everything to ‘climate change’ means nothing. In broad terms, there is nothing unprecedented about ‘weird weather’.

    • The point is that these people are all crackpots and for some reason like to advertise their theories relentlessly on this blog.

      I do have an interest in Michael Shermer’s work and his book “Why do people believe in weird things”, and some of my analysis is motivated by that. For example, why the non-scientific interest in weird anecdotes.

      More to the point, John Carlos Baez who runs the Azimuth Project site, long ago put together his Crackpot Index. This ranking system, although meant somewhat as an inside-joke, does work to detect crackpots among the scientists. Lots of people are gullible, perhaps through no fault of their own, and could use some assistance in identifying a whacko when they don’t have the scientific savvy to understand the merits of an argument.

      I don’t care if the link got deleted. No skin off my nose. It’s your loss and FUD’s gain.

      • You owe somebody an apology for that vicious stunt, WHT. You know why the link got deleted. Have you no shame?

      • What, too “radical” for you Montford?

        I started writing that list yesterday morning, saw that the topic was on radical science methods, somebody mentioned crackpots, so I commented with the link.

        Sure, mocking is mean, but how about the engineering professors who rightly have to flunk out 50% of the enrolled class because they are telling the honest truth about their potential? The problem is you can’t just tell the crackpots they flunked, because they never signed up for the course in the first place!! It’s like experiencing an episode of Seinfeld, and you have a bunch of crackpot Kramers auditing your course, and mocking the teacher!!

        This is the internet, and it is a bizarre place.

        Time for something radical.

        None of you are willing to clean house so you are now embarrassed and showing mock indignity as you go lie down on the fainting couch. Spare me.

      • WHT,

        I thought your little list was amusing, until I got to the vicious character assassination part. What were you thinking? That is not mocking. I can’t believe you are that dumb. I suggest you consult an attorney the next time you get the urge to do that to somebody on the internet. I rally have to wonder who raised some of you people.

      • Web, I agree with Don. You gain nothing by getting personal in this way. You merely make other people think less of you and cause the usually sanguine Judith to censor your post. That should tell you that a line has been crossed. Attack people’s ideas, but keep it at that level. The climate debate should not descend to the same level as politics. Basically, it is a sign of maturity to wish all people well in their personal lives and professions.

      • Montford said:

        I can’t believe you are that dumb. I suggest you consult an attorney the next time you get the urge to do that to somebody on the internet.

        Is your real name Fred Phelps?
        Please don’t sue me, ha ha ha.

      • I read it, but don’t recall anything that would require getting one’s knickers in a knot.

        Did I miss something?

      • You used to be respectable and intelligent. What happened to you? You haven’t damaged anyone’s reputation but your own. Get some help. That’s all I have for you.

      • Michael,

        Then you are another dummy.

      • The problem is the exploration of people’s personal lives. Look, its slimy and voyeristic. Some people have had bad things in their past. Bertrand Russell spent time in jail for opposing WWI. It’s sheer bigotry to suggest that his ideas are wrong because of this. Its irrelevant to the future, to the ideas, and to them as people. And for Web, who remains anonymous so noone can look at his credentials or past is very hypocritical.

      • “Some people have had bad things in their past. Bertrand Russell spent time in jail for opposing WWI. It’s sheer bigotry to suggest that his ideas are wrong because of this” – David.

        What the….?

        You’re trying to equate someone going to jail for a principle (pacifism), with the other matter??

        Yikes.

      • I don’t read insults, I notice them. The result is that I tend reread the insultee, because there has to be something there that infuriates the insulter. The other result is that I tend to look with more suspicion at what the insulter may say.

        Mind you, quite some very smart and influential scienists actually did have crackpot theories. Ernst Mach, whose name you may know from the speed of sound and whose ideas of ralivity influenced the young Albert Einstein thought that atoms weren’t a reality. Arthur Eddingtons fundamental theory became numerological sorcery after a while.

        It sometimes is a sign of the freedom of the mind, Web, to even allow contemplating crackpot theories, as much as it sometimes is a sign of having a cop in your head to use insults.

      • Peeke, Mind sharing which ones in the rogue’s gallery you think have anything substantial to offer? This blog’s objectives are all about reducing uncertainty after all.

      • FWIW I see nothing wrong with your list. I will note that as the evidence for AGW gets a bit more complicated you will see MORE crackpots.
        4 years ago we ddnt have this many crackpots.

        crackpots. please understand, I use that as a term of endearment.

      • Don,
        Apparently I missed a little something being busy these past few days. What did our friend Web figure out to do?

      • hunter,

        Send an email to Judith and ask her to explain why she deleted the anonymous coward’s link. It wasn’t because he was having a little clean fun calling people cranks. He was way out of bounds. Maybe he will post the trash on his own website for you to peruse. But I doubt it.

      • Steven,

        Nothing wrong with his list? Did you read it, all?

      • Well the link is gone.

        So does your off topic monotone ranting get you on your own list?

        “The point is that these people are all crackpots and for some reason like to advertise their theories relentlessly on this blog.”

      • What list are you talking about?
        Is that the one where I am the last entry?

    • There is really a lot to be learned from Tony’s analysis. Preindustrial temperatures fluctuated like today, but the events lasted longer. After industrialization, cold events still happen, just they become more just one season events today. With gas engines, farmers and municipalities can clear snows, drain fields, break ice bound sea ways. Most snow pack can’t carry over long enough to impact the next season.

      Industry has made life easier and had an impact on climate. Just not so much as individual impacts, but collectively.

      • There is really a lot to be learned from Tony’s analysis.

        Cap’n, Yes, you are are the one that just commented how you can’t trust an infrared pyrometer with today’s technology. I suppose some medieval barber’s guess at a temperature is much more accurate.

        But it doesn’t matter I guess. The global climate shows sensitivity to external forcing perturbations, whether they be from underground, like massive releases of CO2, or from pseudo-random solar variations. Just trying to ascertain which is the bigger forcing function.

      • Capt Dallas

        Yes, that struck me as well whilst reading the testimonies from the various weather chroniclers. As far back as the 15th century you can trace weather events-hot and cold-that lasted for many weeks or months rather than days. These often set the tone for a season and the period following.

        As I don’t have theories, perhaps some one well versed in weather can tell us if weather patterns in the past were sometimes more static, perhaps due to the AO, the jet stream, increasing or decreasing ice packs, or the many other forces we don’t fully understand as yet.
        tonyb

      • Web said, “Cap’n, Yes, you are are the one that just commented how you can’t trust an infrared pyrometer with today’s technology. I suppose some medieval barber’s guess at a temperature is much more accurate.”

        I never said you can trust an infrared pyrometer, just that the margin of error has to be considered. You can “trust” that data, from pyrometers, or anything else are inaccurate. That is why ALL data is useful, to help determine the accuracy of other data. Since you are a whiz at stats, I thought you might understand that. Never trust the numbers, always double check everything :)

    • Don,
      That Web is still basing his defense on demanding that skeptics supply alternatives, instead of defending AGW, is a tacit admissino he knows AGW is indefensible. But, great blog warrior he is, he is not going to deal with that, but instead demean himnself in fruitless attacks on others, and push peak oil bs.

  29. Three years hence, I am not sure if I agree now with myself, with Feyerabend, or with both!!

    Thanks Judy for the link.

  30. My dear Cui Bono. I have made a mistake which affected you and I am sorry.

    There is no excuse. Your writing is stylized and succulent and I have confused you with others who write similarly with less honorable intent.

    Again, my humble apologies.

  31. “Joshua | January 16, 2012 at 9:11 am |

    In reality, I suspect that he is \judging commenters based on the side of the debate they’re on rather than on any other aspect of their posts. He must have mistaken you for a “warmist,” and concluded that makes you like a flea.

    Well – either that or his reasoning is completely incoherent rather than just facile. Sometimes it’s hard to tell. Hopefully, he’ll post more so we can understand his logic (or lack thereof) better”.

    It is so Josh, that my reasoning is superior on the Weiss scale. It is the rhetoric of your arguments that offend me. Philosophy is intermingled with theory, but commentators like you base your arguments on subjectivity rather than the objective realities of science.

    It is clear you are driven by, as the good Lord Monkton of Beachley says, petitio principii.

    Good science is a passion, can you answer this?
    Is it the relationship of mass and gravity that define energy, or the relationship of energy and mass that define gravity, or is it the energy of gravity that defines mass?

  32. randomengineer

    Perhaps I should leap to greater conclusions?

    I’d probably throw out my back. (sigh)

  33. Copernicus and Galileo are remarkable. In Galileo’s lifetime, the evidence directly supporting “Si muove!” was … nothing. Galileo’s evidence falsified other aspects of Aristotelian cosmology, principally the doctrine that corruptible matter existed only in the sublunary realm. So far as I can tell, the first direct evidence the Earth moves was the latitude correction of the pendulum clock, which Huygens thought he settled in 1690, but wasn’t truly resolved until the debate over the oblateness of the Earth ended in 1738 in Newton’s favor. Other evidence, including stellar parallax, the eastward deflection of falling bodies, Ferrel’s mechanical explanation of large scale atmospheric circulation, and the Foucault pendulum all arrived in the 19th century.

    As for Copernicus, I am persuaded by Owen Gingerich’s claim the Thomas Kuhn was wrong to suggest scientific evidence had much to do with De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium; Copernicus made his decision based on an aesthetic preference for a theory in which the parts combined harmoniously.

    Feyerabend is great fun, but it should be kept in mind that his analysis against method is only necessary for the revolutionary scientists, who are only a tiny handful even among the great geniuses of science. The takeaway should be: Do Not Try This At Home! Incremental science is much better served by Popper straight up.

    Climate science has not had, and has not needed, a revolutionary thinker since Roger Revelle. What climate science needs is not Feyerabend, but a thorough elaboration of Popper in the context of an exceedingly complex system: identifying, and perhaps taming, the uncertainty monster.

  34. Steven Mosher said, in a nested comment string from hell, “The physics are quite simple. They are used in everyday engineering.
    C02 is not transparent to IR. The more C02 you add to the atmosphere the more opaque the atmosphere gets. The more opaque it gets the higher the effective radiating height becomes. That means that radiation returns to space from a higher and hence colder altitude. That fact alone tells you the surface must warm to compensate.

    Through the course of history, of course, a myriad of factors are at work to determine the final temperature. But rest assured basic physics tells you that if you make the atmosphere more opaque the effective radiating height increases. Increase that height and the surface warms. No two ways around that one.

    we cannot continue to dump c02 into the atmosphere and expect temperatures to fall. They will be higher that they would be otherwise. Bump and valleys will come and go. Spikes and troughs will come and go. But if you increase C02 and nothing else compensates… it will get warmer.”

    What we can expect is the unexpected. “That means that radiation returns to space from a higher and hence colder altitude.” In deed, if we had a simple atmosphere that decreased with altitude and did not have inversions, it would be a simple problem to tell how much would cause how much. We have inversions, the start of one is used to estimate the impact. That is where all the things that have to remain equal tend to not remain equal. Since CO2 will emit from a higher colder point, the higher warmer points have to acquire enough thermal mass to impact the lower colder points. So the question remains how much can we expect?

    You have experience with IR targeting. What is the emissivity between the surface and the tropopause? Approximately 0.86 should be the answer. That cannot vary as much as the TOA emissivity of 0.61. How close to saturation is the surface to tropopause in the CO2 spectrum? How significant do the things that must remain equal become as that approaches saturation?

    I am all for alternate energies, improved energy efficiencies and better science. The experiment has started anyway, why not learn as much while we can? Land use, black carbon and other elements will play a growing role, so why not shoot for a few more significant digits? :)

  35. Re: Science & Capital – Radical Essays on Science & Technology,
    … a stimulating book that questions many dominant assumptions about the function of science and technology in capitalism

    Little or no relevance to climate science then – since close 100% of climate science is state-funded, making it ‘science and technology in socialism‘.

  36. Judith Curry

    You are right. Feyerabend is radically controversial (but he is definitely NOT a “nutter”).

    The intro to the essays (by Feyerabend and others) – which you cited – reads:

    The idea behind this compact book ‘Science & Capital’ is to bring together a collection of some of the most radical essays on science and technology in order to highlight some of the dangers inherent in the naive trust people place in science and scientific experts.

    I do not see Feyerabend’s views as an attack on “science”.

    Or even an attack on “scientists”.

    I do see it as an attack on such things as the IPCC “consensus process” (although it was written long before there even was an IPCC).

    Feyerabend equates science with “enlightenment”, at the same time calling it an “ideology”, adding:

    Any ideology that makes man question inherited beliefs is an aid to enlightenment. A truth that reigns without checks and balances is a tyrant who must be overthrown, and any falsehood that can aid us in the over throw of this tyrant is to be welcomed.

    This is a pretty strong statement – even a “falsehood” that can help us overthrow “a truth that reigns without checks and balances” is “to be welcomed”.

    I don’t know if I’d go that far – I think the goal should always be to find the “truth” – but, at the same time, to continuously challenge the currently accepted paradigm of what the “truth” is.

    Feyerabend is also not too complimentary about science philosophers:

    Never before has the literature on the philosophy of science been invaded by so many creeps and incompetents.

    And this was written 30 years before we had the current batch!

    One blog comment asks:

    How is the blind trust in scientists any different than the blind trust in any other authority like doctor or a car mechanic?

    The main difference IMO (especially for climate science today) relates to the magnitude and scope of the impact.

    A doctor can have a very profound impact – but it is only on a personal level. A mechanic has an even smaller direct impact. Even a politician’s impact is limited, especially in our democratic society.

    But climate science today has an enormous potential impact on global politics, policy, economics and even our very way of life.

    That is why the ongoing scientific (and political) debate is so important. And the public is smack dab in the middle of it.

    To the role of science in policy making, Feyerabend writes (the paragraph you pulled):

    The most important consequence is that there must be a formal separation between state and science just as there is now a formal separation between state and church. Science may influence society but only to the extent to which any political or other pressure group is permitted to influence society. Scientists may be consulted on important projects but the final judgement must be left to the democratically elected consulting bodies. These bodies will consist mainly of laymen. Will the laymen be able to come to a correct judgement? Most certainly, for the competence, the complications and the successes of science are vastly exaggerated.

    The separation between “state and science” is pretty murky in climate science today (where most of the research work is financed by taxpayer funding), but this one paragraph should be printed in large script, framed and hanging on the wall of every scientist contributing to the new IPCC AR5 report, especially those working on the “Summary for Policymakers”.

    Max

  37. The separation between “state and science” is pretty murky in climate science today (where most of the research work is financed by taxpayer funding)

    The separation is “murky” ? Far from it – it’s quite clear there is virtually no separation at all. It’s conducted by the state, and can thus be expected to first and foremost serve the interests of state. Which by and large means fostering a belief in CAGW, to justify ramping up taxes and bureaucracies. Doesn’t mean there aren’t few genuine climate scientists in the mix too though.

  38. Thanks for the strategies you are giving on this site

  39. good and thanks. NIce

  40. Sorry for the huge review, but I’m really loving the new Zune, and hope this, as well as the excellent reviews some other people have written, will help you decide if it’s the right choice for you.

  41. I am curious to find out what blog platform you’re using?
    I’m experiencing some minor security problems with my
    latest blog and I would like to find something more risk-free.

    Do you have any solutions?

  42. Very nice post. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and wished to mention that I’ve really loved browsing your
    blog posts. In any case I will be subscribing for your feed and
    I’m hoping you write again soon!