Certainly not!

by Judith Curry

Good science requires cultivating doubt and finding pleasure in mystery. – Stuart Firestein

Stuart Firestein has a blog post entitled Certainly not!, which is based on his book Ignorance: How it Drives Science that was discussed in a previous Climate Etc. post Ignorance: the true engine of science.  Excerpts from Firestein’s essay:

Physicist Isidor Isaac Rabi grew up in an immigrant family in New York City in the early 20th century. When he came home from school his mother would not ask him what he learned that day, as his friends’ mothers did. She would ask him, “Did you ask any good questions today?” Apparently Rabi asked many good questions. In 1944, at age 46, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for developing nuclear magnetic resonance, a technique for probing the atomic nucleus that was later developed into the medical diagnostic technology known as MRI, magnetic resonance imaging.

Questions, not answers, are how science makes progress. Science may appear to serve up answers in its huge textbooks, volumes of encyclopedias, and now online resources. (Is there anything Wikipedia doesn’t know?) And it may seem a pretty impressive collection. But it also makes science appear as a scary, insurmountable mountain of facts, rather than the playground of inquiry it actually is.

Questions, on the other hand, go places, take you down new avenues, generate curiosity and inspiration. They are the critical ingredients to new experiments. Of course, answers are important, but too often they are treated as an end. Think about the word “conclusion.” It is an answer drawn from data, but it can denote the end of the process, of the story, of the adventure. It is at once a determination and a termination. We may hear about the conclusive results in this or that study, or the conclusions to be drawn from this work, but the last thing a scientist wants is a conclusion in the sense of, “there ain’t no more to do.” For all the talk about drawing conclusions in scientific studies, there is relatively little in science that is conclusive.

The contemporary view of science puts too much emphasis on answers. What leads to good science is uncertainty. That doesn’t mean scientists shouldn’t be certain about their findings. It means they should be comfortable that their findings are not the final answer.

Negative Capability is just as important to the scientist, who should always find him- or herself in a state of “uncertainty without irritability.” Scientists do reach after fact and reason, but it is often when they are most uncertain that the reaching is the most imaginative, unhindered by a common-sense certainty of how something should work. Being a scientist requires having faith in uncertainty, finding pleasure in mystery, and learning to cultivate doubt. There is no surer way to screw up an experiment than to be certain of its outcome.

But don’t scientists know a lot of things? They do. But lawyers, engineers, accountants, and electricians know a lot of things. Scientists, however, do something different with what they know. They don’t defend people, or treat people, or make money for people (or, I’m sorry to say, for themselves very often). They make new questions. Facts are not just to be accumulated. They are raw material for making improved, more sophisticated questions with new unknowns. Science, good science, creates as much ignorance as it does knowledge. Thoroughly conscious ignorance is the prelude to every great advance in science.

Any scientist will tell you that facts are the weakest link in the scientific edifice. They shift and change, regularly. You know that too. One day grapefruit is good for you and the next it can have deadly interactions with common drugs that can cause liver failure. Facts change, revisions are made, but it adds up to progress. In science, revision is a victory. And that process of revision has accelerated significantly in the last few decades.

Sometimes the most difficult task in science is convincing too confident researchers that they don’t know something they are sure of. Stephen Hawking has called the “greatest enemy of knowledge” not ignorance, but “the illusion of knowledge.”

There is no surer way to screw up an experiment than to be certain of its outcome.

This may seem disconcerting. What can we depend on? Facts change, authority is unreliable, viewpoints are modified, consensus dissipates. But it is important to recognize that new facts don’t bring down the whole edifice. Einstein’s theory of relativity didn’t undo Newton’s Principia, it extended it and made it more useful.

Of course, uncertainty in science can be abused and twisted to nefarious purposes. In his recent book, Golden Holocaust, Stanford historian Robert Proctor showed that tobacco companies willfully used claims of insufficient data and incomplete knowledge to block regulation of the sales of tobacco products. Indeed, most of the research showing that tobacco was harmful was paid for by the tobacco companies, with the knowledge that it would be very difficult to find a conclusive (that word again) causal effect between tobacco and cancer. Scientists still don’t know exactly how tobacco products cause cancer, merely that there is an overwhelming and highly predictable correlation between the two. As Proctor showed, tobacco companies persistently strove to keep the public in a state of uncertainty with the claim that more research was necessary.

Parallels with the current debate over the effects of human activity on the world’s climate are obvious. There is little question that human activity is causing the earth’s atmosphere to warm up and that this will lead to changes in climate patterns. The precise nature of those changes, the level of warming that may be acceptable, and the ability to reverse the changes remain unsettled. There are conflicting models, but none of them suggest that anthropogenic warming is not occurring—only what the results of this warming will be and when precisely they will take effect. This uncertainty has given some industry leaders and politicians, with their own special interests, an opening to declare that global warming is not anthropogenic. This is not only disingenuous, it is damaging in the worst way because it creates a wrongheaded notion about science in the public mind.

Unsettled science is not unsound science. Scientists tend to emphasize disagreements because this is where the work remains to be done. Why talk about what we know, when all our effort should be directed at what we don’t know? The highly accomplished Marie Curie, in a letter to her brother, noted that “one never thinks about what has been done, only what remains to be done.” Problems don’t get solved by sitting around and nodding in agreement. They are solved, indeed they are understood to be problems in the first place, by talking about them.

But short of becoming an expert in each of many disparate fields, unlikely for even the cleverest among us, how can we participate? Well, we can be more like scientists in one crucial area: the acceptance of uncertainty. Indeed, it is the too-well-crafted explanation, the one that explains everything, that should set off red flags, warning us that we are likely being deceived, misled, or outright duped.

I’m a neurobiologist, but I don’t know any more about quantum physics than any other non-physicist, nor about computability limits than anyone without a degree in computer science, nor about a thousand other things outside my narrow expertise. But as a scientist, I know the value of doubt and the danger of certainty. In science, dumb and ignorant are not the same thing.

To be realistically engaged with science means appreciating doubt and uncertainty as the necessary precursor to knowledge and illumination. We must learn to traffic in the unknown, be comfortable with uncertainty, take pleasure in mystery. While searching for knowledge we must abide by ignorance for an indefinite period. Above all, as Mrs. Rabi knew more than 100 years ago, we need to know how to ask a good question.

JC comment:  I find most of this essay to be exhilarating, but Firestein lost me on his discussion of tobacco and climate change; IMO Firestein missed a big opportunity to put climate science and the debate over climate change into a more meaningful context about asking questions, etc.

 

212 responses to “Certainly not!

  1. Heh, ‘There are conflicting models, but none of them suggest that anthropogenic warming is not occurring’.
    ==================

    • Hah, ‘an opening to declare global warming is not anthropogenic’. Listen fella, global warming isn’t global warming, it’s climate change, no, climate wierding. Get with the program.
      ============

      • He doesn’t doubt and he doesn’t question. Bah, bah, humbug.
        =============================

      • David Springer

        He lost me at the point where he compared global warming to tobacoo, too. That’s where he exposed himself as just another partisan paying lip service to the edifice of science then failing to practice what he preached.

        Firestein is a big fat hypocrite.

    • “There is little question that human activity is causing the earth’s atmosphere to warm up and that this will lead to changes in climate patterns.” (translation: “everybody knows it’s bad for you”.) Stuart doesn’t listen to Firestein.

      “This uncertainty [...] is damaging in the worst way because it creates a wrongheaded notion about science in the public mind.” Firestein doesn’t listen to Stuart.

    • This is one of the greatest postings ever.
      Here we have a believer who is not asking the right questions accusing the unbelievers of not asking the right questions.
      Here is a question for him. Why are all the climate models always wrong?
      I suggest the right answer is that it is based on flawed theory.

      • We did have several climate scientists lecture our climate study group. Sometime after the lecture, One of them remarked of our group, they could not pass my basic class. I have thought of that. He was 97% percent right. He requires 97% compliance with his consensus and most or many of us are rocket scientists and we are sucesfull because we question everything. When we did not question enough is when got in trouble. Climate science is in trouble because they require 97% compliance.
        Firestein says you must ask the right questions, but when someone does ask questions that are outside the 97%, he accuses them of being like big tobacco.

      • If consensus climate science was 97% right, they would have climate models that would be right 97% of the time instead of climate models that are always 100% wrong.

  2. I think the relation to the tobacco industry is consistent with the previous post about professional AGW skeptics whose views tend to concentrate the skeptical community in the most affected industries, and at high levels in those (and leaking into their funded politicians in the US case). If the skeptics have this kind of concentration in their professional interests, it is a red flag of the tobacco industry kind.

    • Funding for the warmist community is about 1000 times that of the skeptic community. It’s like Goliath complaining that David gets to throw stones at him.

      • The “warmists” get their funding from their various governments (both right and left leaning). How does that compare with “special interest” funding? At least it doesn’t point to a particular result being favored.

    • Jim,

      Hard to give you any credibility when you keep throwing out the funding shilliboth. In your tobacco relationship, what is the party playing the role of Big Tobacco?

      • I just was making the connection for Judith between the last two posts. I defer to what they said by way of evidence. Look out for professional skeptics, i would say.

    • “Big Oil is like Big Tobacco” he says but we’ve heard it before and it’s just a cheap shot here. There is a very interesting parallel between the effort to prove smoking causes cancer and the effort to prove man causes global warming. The first case was handled better.

      • The previous post about professional skeptics was making that connection by way of a survey and statistics. I await a counter-study to show they were wrong in how they located the skeptical concentrations at the top levels of of the Alberta fossil fuel industry. I call them professional skeptics because I don’t think they got into their positions by accident, but they were actually hired to have these “skeptical” views influence their decisions. The concentration in this industry implies that if they had worked elsewhere, they may not have had those views, so it is a view of “convenience” on behalf of, and encouraged by, their industry.

      • Jim D, note that the previous post was *not* about skeptics in the “Alberta fossil fuel industry”. I just added a note to the previous post to clarify that.

      • Diag, I meant the previous main post by Judith was about the Alberta skeptics and what they do for a living, not yours.

      • Big oil benefits more when they understand truth than when they don’t understand truth. This is true of climate and everything else to do with the oil industry.

    • The assertion that CAGW is like the tobacco issue is a “False Analogy“.
      A False Analogy is a type of Fallacy.
      http://onegoodmove.org/fallacy/falsean.htm

    • The skeptical movement started from industry, the Global Climate Coalition, not from any internal academic dispute about the importance of the CO2 level in controlling the climate, and there is still no internal dispute in that area, despite all the howling from outside.

  3. JC comment: I find most of this essay to be exhilarating, but Firestein lost me on his discussion of tobacco and climate change;

    I thought it was clear enough: Toying with “uncertainty” is a way to keep the informed and uninformed disarmed. It is an illusion. Does the consuming public really need precise and incontrovertible causality in the cancer/tobacco phenomenon? Sure it would be nice, but my Aunt Mary told me while I was in high school that in the 1920’s cigarettes were commonly referred to as “coffin nails”. Everyone knew the dangers even without ‘scientific proof’ of the risks.

    • David Springer

      The problem for the global warming lobby is that there is no strong predictable connection between CO2 and adverse effects like there is between tobacco and human health. That’s a fantasy. Warmists wish they had such strong correlation but they do not. Imagine if there were no lung cancer among smokers for 15 years while cigarette sales rose steadily the whole time.

      • Not proven – actually, disproved. There are studies which show by country how many smokers and how much lung cancer – Greece and Japan are examples with very high level of smokers and very low lung cancer rates.

        This association of lung cancer to smoking has like origins in the AGW hysteria against carbon dioxide, which began as anti coal by greenies but was taken over by all kinds of people interested in getting onto the bank wagon.

        The secondary smoke was another such clamber aboard – I recall reading in the Times quite a while back an interview with the doctor who began this scare, he said it was not true but he hated smoking..

        A thirty year study in California tracking health and ‘passive smoking’ found no connection.

    • Or was Firestein’s actual message to paraphrase Orwell, “All questions are created equal, but some are more equal than others.”

  4. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN INSECURE PEOPLE ARE SCARED FROM GENUINE QUESTIONS?:::

    :Q: do you know that: oxygen + nitrogen are 998999ppm in the troposphere, CO2 only 260-400ppm? Q: do you know that O+N expand /shrink INSTANTLY in change of temperature? Q: do you know that: where they expand upwards, on the edge of the troposphere is minus-90⁰C? Q: why O&N expand more, when warmed by 5⁰C, than when warmed by 2⁰C? A: when warmed by 5⁰C, they need to go further up, to release more heat / intercept more, extra coldness, to equalize. Q: if O&N are cooled after 10minutes to previous temperature, why they don’t stay expanded another 5 minutes extra? A: not to intercept too much extra coldness, to prevent too much cooling. A2: they stay expanded precisely as long as they are warmer – not one second more or less – that’s how they regulate to be same warmth units overall in the troposphere, every hour of every year and millenia!

    • Stef and Chef and the other Aussie AGW deniers, I have a post on atmospheric expansion @
      http://theoilconundrum.blogspot.com

      Read it and you will see how temperature and pressure interrelate. The empirical data can be used to deduce changing lapse rate behavior.

      • I had a quick look at your latest article and it seems to be supported by the empirical data. However, sea level rises of 1mm per year averaged over the last 100 years seem not catastopheric to human life except for those who choose to live on a coral atoll that is less than a foot above sea level. These people need to either adapt by moving away or perish!

        I was also interested in your thoughts on the battery management seminar you attended because my caravan electrics are solar based and the SOC of the caravan battery is never far from my mind when I’m out and about camping in the bush. It seems that caravan batteries should be carefully matched with the expected overnight loads (ambient climate would be a major “externality”) and the expected available daylight recharge rate.

        It is indeed fortunate that with solar PV panel systems in caravans, the more sunlight the higher will be the charge available to compensate for higher ambient temperatures and their corresponding increase in loads.

      • Sorry 10 years not 100.

      • Peter Davies,

        However, sea level rises of 1mm per year averaged over the last 100 years seem not catastopheric to human life except for those who choose to live on a coral atoll that is less than a foot above sea level.

        Coral atolls grow with sea level. They have grown up from what were volcanic islands when sea level was 100 m lower than now. For those concerned about rising sea levels, they should choose to live on a coral atoll. But they must not draw fresh water from under the atoll, because that causes it to subside and they must not mine the sand or interfere with how the sand moves on the beaches. It is all those activities of man that are causing subsidence of coral atolls, not sea level rise.

      • WebHubTelescope (@whut) | July 17, 2013 at 4:06 am said: ”Stef and Chef and the other Aussie AGW deniers”

        Telescope, you have ”sandpit formulas” obsessed with. You cannot answer the basic questions; and that’s all the fuss about. When you are warm – wind cools you down / wind made from O&N, nothing to do with CO2! You suffer from ”truth phobia” same as the Water Chef – so stop comparing me with him; otherwise you will be talking to my solicitor.

        The Chief is obsessed with CO2, same as you are – he is your roll of toilet paper / doing your dirty job…

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Dinner’s over – serf food. Pork chipolata with mash and brown onion gravy. Mmmm – Mmmm.

      Webby is a bigger maniac than Stef – and that’s saying something.

      The dry adiabatic lapse formula is:

      dT/dh = -g/Cp

      Where Cp = 5R/2

      There is a derivation here – http://clivebest.com/blog/?p=3941

      You might like to compare it to webbys’ nonsense – I can’t be bothered.

      It is the dry adiabatic lapse rate. Warm air rises – expands to a lower pressure – and cools. It is a purely theoretical value and the real world doesn’t obey at all well. It comes under the heading of climate trivia that webby is so bad at.

      • Chief Hydrologist | July 17, 2013 at 4:46 am said: ”Dinner’s over – serf food. Pork chipolata with mash and brown onion gravy. Mmmm – Mmmm”

        Chief, it’s hard to answer my simple questions – because you as a ”Fake” is suffering from ”truth phobia”

        put mu questions under your pillow; some day you will be ready to face the reality, cheers!

  5. “Indeed, it is the too-well-crafted explanation, the one that explains everything, that should set off red flags, warning us that we are likely being deceived, misled, or outright duped.”

    To paraphrase the previous post: This is one of the most interesting articles that I’ve encountered on climate change advocates.

  6. Another post or comment with in the last week or so already referred to the “Certainly Not!” article. But I can’t find it now. Can anyone give me a link to it. I already posted brilliant comments on it :)

  7. Serfs, never too certain where the next meal’s coming from,
    tend ter be skeptical by naychur. Re ‘facts are the weakest
    link … one day grapefruit is good for you and the next [not.]‘
    Seems to some of us serfs that ‘facts’ don’t change, only
    what some with misplaced certainy believe to be ‘facts.’
    Hawking’s ‘illusionary knowledge.’

  8. Certainty has two t’s I knew that .
    Bts

  9. Judith Curry

    Thanks for an interesting post. Here are my comments for what they’re worth.

    Stuart Firestein had me pretty much nodding in agreement until he came to this paragraph:

    Parallels with the current debate over the effects of human activity on the world’s climate are obvious. There is little question that human activity is causing the earth’s atmosphere to warm up and that this will lead to changes in climate patterns. The precise nature of those changes, the level of warming that may be acceptable, and the ability to reverse the changes remain unsettled. There are conflicting models, but none of them suggest that anthropogenic warming is not occurring—only what the results of this warming will be and when precisely they will take effect. This uncertainty has given some industry leaders and politicians, with their own special interests, an opening to declare that global warming is not anthropogenic. This is not only disingenuous, it is damaging in the worst way because it creates a wrongheaded notion about science in the public mind.

    The GH effect is well known, as is the fact that CO2 is a GH gas and that human activities result in emissions of CO2 and other GH gases.

    However, contrary to what Firestein has written, there is a serious question whether or not ” human activity is causing the earth’s atmosphere to warm up and that this will lead to changes in climate patterns”.

    Could it be that most of the observed late 20th C warming was caused by natural factors rather than ”the effects of human activity”?

    The answer to that question is highly uncertain. The IPCC “consensus” view is that “most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations”.

    However, many scientists are skeptical of this claim, as there is great uncertainty regarding the extent of natural factors.

    The lack of warming over the past 12 years or so despite unabated GHG emissions and CO2 concentrations reaching record levels has only added to this uncertainty.

    In addition, ”the precise nature of those changes, the level of warming that may be acceptable, and the ability to reverse the changes remain unsettled”, as Firestein writes.

    Yes, it is true, as he writes, that ”this uncertainty has given some industry leaders and politicians, with their own special interests, an opening to declare that global warming is not anthropogenic”.

    But Firestein misses the point. It is not only ” industry leaders and politicians, with their own special interests” who have questioned whether or not a significant portion of the past global warming has not been anthropogenic, as IPCC has claimed. A significant number of climate scientists also question the IPCC claim.

    Firestein’s last sentence is pure CAGW rhetoric IMO. There is nothing “disingenuous” about questioning the IPCC claim on attribution of past warming. In fact, Firestein starts off applauding scientists, like physicist Isodor Isaac Rabi, who “question” the status quo – and here he is calling them disingenuous for doing so.

    I completely agree with your analysis of this paper, which I will repeat below:

    I find most of this essay to be exhilarating, but Firestein lost me on his discussion of tobacco and climate change; IMO Firestein missed a big opportunity to put climate science and the debate over climate change into a more meaningful context about asking questions, etc.

    Max

    • Yes, the value of doubt is in the end dissed, and skeptics, once again, accused of using it to protect evil commercial interests against the efforts of the Pure to Save Us All. Jeez. Gimme a break.

    • Max, you took the words right off my keyboard (either that or you were reading my mind while I was reading the essay!)

      I wonder why it is that intelligent, insightful writers (who are probably excellent science “communicators”, even!) can so readily (and disappointingly) buy into – and recite without question – the standard CAGW memes and party-lines.

      This almost knee-jerk recitation of the words of those who are so dedicated to “the cause” – that they appear to become further and further removed from practicing scientific principles with each passing pal-reviewed paper – is surely a phenomenon that cries out for an objective, transparent and comprehensive study by psychologists of the pre-post-modernist kind :-)

      • When you consider that “climate change” reporting in the media almost always repeats the mantra of consensus or that the President of the United States declares that climate change is happening and now is the time for action, not more debate, it shouldn’t be that surprising for people like the authors of the last couple of papers Dr Curry has linked to, to assume that the key points of climate change are well known and settled.

    • Max, I agree with most of what you say. I also lost Finlenstein at the same paragraph. I lost you at the paragraph “The GH effect is well known as if the fact the CO2 is a GHG….”.

      Gerlich and Tscheuschner make more scientific sense than the mainstream view on the Greenhouse. Oliver Manuel’s “iron sun” makes more scientific sense than the mainstream view that the sun is a ball of impossibly heavy molten gas glued together by magical forces.

      I guess the scientific media could one day cope with “we all got it wrong, the sun isn’t a ball of gas”, because they aren’t heavily invested in the simple acceptance of a gaseous sun. The “greenhouse” is a much harder problem, because a whole generation (Y) and “green” political parties and the environmental movement is invested in action to “save the planet”.

      I have not seen a single experiment demonstrating thermalization of IR by any IR absorbing/emitting gas outside of an IR-reflective measuring chamber (all radiative transfer data is in this category). No doubt Tyndall was a good and methodical scientist. If he lived longer, he would have tried the thermalization experiements himself.

      The scientific tragedy is that scientific disputes can be properly settled by apporpriate experiments. But climate scientist are so heavily invested in the “Greenhouse” that to contemplate a falsifiable hypothesis is akin to a person of religious faith denouncing their god.

  10. First he says:
    Stephen Hawking has called the “greatest enemy of knowledge” not ignorance, but “the illusion of knowledge.”

    Then a few sentences later he says:
    “There is little question that human activity is causing the earth’s atmosphere to warm up and that this will lead to changes in climate patterns.”

    My conclusion is that Climate Change is not so much a scientific debate as a mental disorder. One first described by Orwell. It’s called “Doublethink”.

  11. Willis Eschenbach

    Of course, uncertainty in science can be abused and twisted to nefarious purposes. In his recent book, Golden Holocaust, Stanford historian Robert Proctor showed that tobacco companies willfully used claims of insufficient data and incomplete knowledge to block regulation of the sales of tobacco products. Indeed, most of the research showing that tobacco was harmful was paid for by the tobacco companies, with the knowledge that it would be very difficult to find a conclusive (that word again) causal effect between tobacco and cancer. Scientists still don’t know exactly how tobacco products cause cancer, merely that there is an overwhelming and highly predictable correlation between the two. As Proctor showed, tobacco companies persistently strove to keep the public in a state of uncertainty with the claim that more research was necessary.

    Parallels with the current debate over the effects of human activity on the world’s climate are obvious. There is little question that human activity is causing the earth’s atmosphere to warm up and that this will lead to changes in climate patterns. The precise nature of those changes, the level of warming that may be acceptable, and the ability to reverse the changes remain unsettled. There are conflicting models, but none of them suggest that anthropogenic warming is not occurring—only what the results of this warming will be and when precisely they will take effect. This uncertainty has given some industry leaders and politicians, with their own special interests, an opening to declare that global warming is not anthropogenic. This is not only disingenuous, it is damaging in the worst way because it creates a wrongheaded notion about science in the public mind.

    This comparison, of people objecting to bogus science and the kind of trickery exposed by Climategate on the one hand, to tobacco companies on the other hand, is a pile of reeking crap that has no place on a scientific website.

    Judith, your guest posts were just getting ridiculous. Now they are getting downright insulting. Trying to peddle this “skeptics = tobacco companies” claim is not only anti-scientific. It is a slap in the face to honest scientists and interested researchers like myself.

    This is the lowest you’ve gone, trying to disguise this shameless attack as science. This is scraping the bottom, not of the pool, but of the septic tank.

    This congenital idiot truly thinks climate alarmists have standing to accuse skeptics of misusing the science? After the alarmists have indulged in turning off the air conditioning to convince Senators that it’s warming, after their cherry picking and the obstruction and packing peer-review panels and trying to intimidate editors and the publication of meaningless papers and the subversion of the IPCC process by the Jesus paper and everything else the alarmists have done, this unpleasant fool compares me and the other skeptic to the tobacco companies, and not Jones, Mann, and company?

    Physician, heal thyself. And Judith, this is a most pathetic, unpleasant, uncollegial, untrue, and all-around nasty post. For a college professor, you sure like to fight dirty.

    w.

    • Willis, with all due respect, I believe your criticism of Judith is completely over the top and unwarranted.

      I personally have just as much of a problem with those who (in my view) abuse the privilege of commenting at WUWT by telling Anthony what he should or should not be posting, as I do with far too many who take such liberties here.

      Sorry, but I find such behaviour somewhat akin to that of one who accepts an invitation to someone’s home for dinner, barges in and demands that they change the menu and immediately replace the sofa in the living room with one more to their liking!

      This is Judith’s blog, and I believe she’s entitled to post whatever she damn well pleases – without being subjected to barrages of temper tantrums!

      We all have our hot buttons (and blind-spots); but, in someone else’s home, so to speak, perhaps we need to remind ourselves to take a step back. I know I certainly do from time to time (although, I have been known to take other “guests” to task for their choices … but never the host or hostess)!

      And now that I have that off my chest … :-)

      If you remove the two (admittedly offensive, ill-informed, and – in my view – completely irrelevant to his essay) paragraphs, do you not see there is much to commend this excerpt which was adapted from Firestein’s book?

      For all we know, these two paragraphs may not even have been included in the original. I think it would be interesting to know what (and/or who!) might have persuaded him that there was any merit to including them.

      We know that (at least 97% of) those who’ve taken the trouble to do their own due diligence before forming an opinion, would never have considered including such paragraphs. So my guess would be that, in this instance, Firestein made the mistake of, well, not asking good questions!

      He certainly wouldn’t be the first scientist to have made such an error, and I doubt that he’ll be the last!

      As Judith said, although perhaps you missed it:

      [...] Firestein lost me on his discussion of tobacco and climate change; IMO Firestein missed a big opportunity to put climate science and the debate over climate change into a more meaningful context about asking questions, etc.

      And, as she had written on her earlier Firestein post:

      How and why did climate science stop having faith in uncertainty, finding pleasure in mystery, and learning to cultivate doubt? When did climate science go off the rails, and start talking about facts and consensus (with anyone disagreeing with their “facts” and consensus as deniers)? Sounds like it might have been Madrid, 1995.

      I think Judith’s criticisms of this excerpt are valid – and that her earlier questions are excellent. Wouldn’t you agree?

    • David Springer

      Willis Eschenbach | July 17, 2013 at 1:56 am | Reply

      This comparison, of people objecting to bogus science and the kind of trickery exposed by Climategate on the one hand, to tobacco companies on the other hand, is a pile of reeking crap that has no place on a scientific website.

      Twice in as many days I find myself agreeing with Willis.

      I have obviously crossed into bizzarro world where black is white, superman is evil, and Willis makes sense.

    • Willis more than sufficiently criticizes these objectionable paragraphs. I just find the rest trivial and repetitive. If we haven’t heard this before then we haven’t taken basic science courses where at least lip service is paid to the theme of this essay. What’s new about the idea that it deserves several hundred more words? Maybe the topic should be why there is a “contemporary view of science” that “puts too much emphasis on answers.” That deserves some exploration.

    • Steven Mosher

      “Judith, your guest posts were just getting ridiculous. Now they are getting downright insulting. Trying to peddle this “skeptics = tobacco companies” claim is not only anti-scientific. It is a slap in the face to honest scientists and interested researchers like myself.”

      Its not a guest post. stop being stupid this instant. Just stop it.

      This is a reaction piece. Judith posts a piece by someone else and people comment on it. No different than what Anthony or others do. Stop being stupid.

    • You are a clown, willis.

    • Willis, take a chill pill. Judith is not a skeptic. She’s properly skeptical. She takes on your opponents often enough on your behalf and does so in a polite and reasonable manner. But in all probability she’s closer to this post’s author in beliefs than she is in yours. Why in heck shouldn’t she post this? Your description of what the guy wrote is way, way over the top. As is your criticism of Judith. You’re better than that. Calm the heck down.

      • This is unfair. All I do is tweak Mosher on obscurantist debate tactics, and I am threatened with a butt whipping behind the schoolhouse after class. All Willis gets for his rant against our fair hostess is “take a chill pill.”

        Oh the injustice of it all!

    • ozzieostrich

      Willis,

      Steady on there, laddie.

      Are you exhibiting bad form due to ignorance, or just being gratuitously offensive?

      Or maybe you are just uncontrollably narcissistic. I find it difficult to believe you consider your comments to be part of normal etiquette, but I must accept your assurance if this what you believe.

      May I have your permission to adopt a similar approach in relation to responding to any future comments you may care to make?

      Live well and prosper,

      Mike Flynn.

    • Remember when I said that one should be able to know when to ignore Springer and when to pay attention, as well as to recognize when you are in your crabby state?

      Dr Curry’s posting of an article or paper does not equate to endorsement. Is it unreasonable to think she is simply making us aware of what people are saying and giving us the opportunity to comment and/or poke holes in their arguments?

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Thanks, Tim. You say that:

        Dr Curry’s posting of an article or paper does not equate to endorsement. Is it unreasonable to think she is simply making us aware of what people are saying and giving us the opportunity to comment and/or poke holes in their arguments?

        Tim, a lot of folks who don’t know a lot about the climate read Dr. Curry’s blog. She swings a reasonable amount of weight, and deservedly so.

        Now, the Climategate emails revealed that Mann and Jones and Bradley and Amman and the rest of the un-indicted co-conspirators lied, cheated, packed the peer-review panels, tried to intimidate the journal editors, and misrepresented the science.

        And on the skeptic side, there has been no corresponding malfeasance or misbehavior.

        Now, Judith has published without comment a scurrilous attack claiming that the skeptics, not the leadership of the alarmists but the skeptics, of acting like the tobacco companies. And the tobacco companies are the bete noir of honest science. They cheated, lied, and misrepresented the science, and are deservedly scorned because of that.

        Not only am I and the other skeptics as lying, cheating and misrepresenting the science, but the equivalence is asserted as being totally obvious. After describing the tobacco companies the author says:

        Parallels with the current debate over the effects of human activity on the world’s climate are obvious.

        So when someone unfamiliar with the backstory comes here to learn something about climate, what they learn is the scurrilous lie that I and the other scientific opponents of the consensus are like the tobacco companies. There’s no question, it’s “obvious” that Steve McIntyre and Anthony Watts and I and other skeptics are just like the tobacco companies.

        Meanwhile, the truth is that the leadership of the alarmists are convicted by their own words in the Climategate emails of doing just what the tobacco companies did, lying and cheating and misrepresenting the science. They did it, and other skeptics and I are getting accused of it.

        So not only is the accusation a scurrilous lie, it is aimed at exactly the wrong people. This is freaking Orwellian or perhaps Kafkaesque. Judith is promoting the words of a man who is accusing skeptics of the lying and cheating that the climate alarmists are actually doing … and I’m the bad guy for thinking that that is impolite, wrong, and a piss-poor example of the type of collegiate communication that she is always calling for?

        So to answer your question, viz:

        Is it unreasonable to think she is simply making us aware of what people are saying and giving us the opportunity to comment and/or poke holes in their arguments?

        Yes, it’s very unreasonable. Quoting someone falsely accusing the opposition of doing what their side is doing, without pointing out that fact, is not a neutral statement. It is an insult. It is impolite. It is in opposition to communication. It is supporting a scurrilous liar by republishing their scurrilous lie. People come here to learn the science, and to learn about what is disputed or in debate. Lying to those people is not OK, and it is bad for Judith’s reputation.

        And I’m the bad guy for saying hey, Judith, stop publishing lies about me and the other skeptics? I’m the wrong one for being too upset? As far as I’m concerned, other people are not upset enough.

        w.

      • Tim pretty much has it right. I put interesting or otherwise provocative articles out there to provoke critical thinking and discussion.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        curryja | July 17, 2013 at 10:55 pm |

        Tim pretty much has it right. I put interesting or otherwise provocative articles out there to provoke critical thinking and discussion.

        Judith, thank you for your response. Interesting and provocative articles, those I strongly support.

        On the other hand, puffed-up academics falsely accusing me and the skeptics of lying, cheating, and twisting the science?

        Not so much.

        You keep talking, Judith, about the need for collegiality and communication, for bridging the gap, for building the dialog, for restoring the trust.

        Then you re-publish someone calling me a liar and a cheat and saying I’m hiding the scientific truth, in short saying that my friends and I are acting like the tobacco companies.

        I’m sorry to break the news, but falsely accusing your scientific opponents of being like the tobacco companies does not “provoke critical thinking and discussion”. It provokes anger and rejection, as this thread amply demonstrates.

        Is that how you try to “provoke critical thinking and discussion” with your colleagues or with your students? By falsely accusing them of lying and twisting the science?

        Look, Judith, I don’t think you understood what an insult you were publishing … but that’s part of the problem. Such false accusations from the alarmist side have become so common that they are believed purely because of repetition.

        And when you re-publish such lies on your website, wittingly or not, you become part of the communication problem you’re always talking about. Because at that point, it’s YOUR website that is publishing lies, it’s you that is republishing libelous attacks.

        Now, you’ve published posts and quotations here from lots of good folks wondering why climate scientists are unable to convince people of their claims. You and guest posters have detailed all kinds of theories, about professional people and having to breach their defenses, about how it’s a question of the framing of the issues, about whether climate skepticism is some form of clinical problem, about how the scientists just don’t know how to use the media, about lack of the ability to get the word out … the theories are endless.

        Actually, it’s much simpler than that.

        People don’t trust the climate alarmists because we keep being lied to, and we keep being lied about.

        And it’s cruel hard to see someone of your stature and intelligence, someone who should know better, re-publishing those lies, without the slightest effort to point out to the uninitiated that you are re-publishing vile misrepresentations and nasty personal attacks that you certainly should know are untrue.

        My best to you,

        w.

      • Hey Willis, this blog aint about you. The feeling is mutual: scientists don’t like your brand of skeptics because they are strident and call scientists liars.

        So where does that leave us? Well this is a blog where I post on topics that interest me and that I think will provoke an interesting discussion among the denizens. Any given post is bound to jerk the chain of at least 20% of my audience, which provokes a dialogue that is usually interesting and sometimes illuminating.

      • “scientists don’t like your brand of skeptics because they are strident and call scientists liars. ”

        Spot on.

      • Willis

        You say;

        ‘Now, you’ve published posts and quotations here from lots of good folks wondering why climate scientists are unable to convince people of their claims.’

        The people that NEED to be convinced- opinion formers and those setting policy- ARE convinced.

        We therefore surely need to convince such people and organisations that we have an alternative and persuasive voice by picking apart the ‘consensus’ view and forming a coherent, science backed and convincing alternative view.

        Personally, I think the only way to do that is to try to go down the peer reviewed route AND to correspond directly and politely with those that directly matter in this debate, which includes such organisations as the Met Office and the British Government.

        With regards to the latter I think we are winning in trying to stop the nonsense of huge solar parks that gobble up taxpayers money, industrialise the landscape and provide virtually no worthwhile energy contribution to our creaking energy infrastructure-especially in winter.

        I have chosen to go down the peer review and attempted persuasion of people that are important route.

        I hope its a route that might appeal to you and other sceptics who believe,rightly or wrongly- and we are fleas on the back of an elephant- that we have something of value to contribute to one of the greatest debates of our time.

        tonyb

      • tonyb
        “Personally, I think the only way to do that is to try to go down the peer reviewed route AND to correspond directly and politely with those that directly matter in this debate…”

        Just added the bold in case you had forgotten it. ;O)

      • Dr. Curry is an ensconced Climate Insider. Adjust your expectations accordingly.

        Andrew

      • Tony, you write “Personally, I think the only way to do that is to try to go down the peer reviewed route AND to correspond directly and politely with those that directly matter in this debate, which includes such organisations as the Met Office and the British Government. ”

        With all due respect, I disagree. On any given aspect of CAGW there is a peer (pal) reviewed article which supports CAGW; guaranteed. If a new aspect comes up, then in short order an appropiate pal reviewed article appears.

        The one place where the warmists cannot control what is happening is the empirical data. That is the one place where peer review cannot overcome the facts. It will take time, but if, as we suspect, CAGW is a load of scientific nonsense, then sooner or later the empirical dat will support our point of view and prove it to be correct.

        We just need to have patience. The one saving grace is that no-one is his/her right mind is going to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels. Until we find a substitute, we are en route to consume every last ton of coal, ever last barrel of oil, and ever last cubic foot of natural gas.

      • Jim

        There are plenty of people going down the calling scientists liars and fools route, but with little success, as not surprisingly scientists are believed in scientific matters rather than sceptics.

        Everyone must decide their own route to follow but we have had little tangible success following the current one, so perhaps its time to try a different one.

        Sceptics are a disorganised loose grouping with no proper strategy who frequently disagree amongst ourselves. We use our own money and time rather than the taxpayers penny, all of which makes it difficult to mount a coherent, plausible and sustained alternative view.

        Willis, and others, must choose their own route but its difficult to see how the climate elephant is even going to notice we are on its back unless we use different tactics.
        tonyb

      • Matthew R Marler

        Willis Eschenbach: Judith is promoting the words of a man who is accusing skeptics of the lying and cheating that the climate alarmists are actually doing …

        Prof Curry posted long excerpts of an essay in which some opinions were indefensible, and some opinions are both welcome and defensible. Here the good and the bad get examined in detail. Prof Curry is not “promoting” any of the assertions that you have objected to; at worst she is reminding us that many otherwise good folks are wrong on some details.

      • David Springer

        What I like the most about Willis is he makes me look affable. Affable I tell you.

      • David Springer

        curryja | July 18, 2013 at 9:35 am |

        “Any given post is bound to jerk the chain of at least 20% of my audience, which provokes a dialogue that is usually interesting and sometimes illuminating.”

        Evidently Willis thinks that’s naughty and that you deserve a spanking.

        I should probably shut up now.

      • David Springer

        My! You seem to be doing well today.

    • Dr Curry, thank you for posting this I would never have found that story without you. See my other posting about this. I am going to repeat it here, slightly changed to what I posted over on Nautilus.

      Here we have a believer who is not asking the right questions accusing the unbelievers of not asking the right questions.

      Here is a question for him. Why are all the climate models always wrong?

      I suggest the right answer is that climate models are based on flawed theory.

      • We have had more than a decade with above average snowfalls. Earth keeps some of that a multi-year ice. Climate Scientists have thrown it all away and some more than that. They make a lot of measurements low in the mountains and extrapolate that to the upper elevations. This recently broadsided them. Satellite data has showed them they made a serious mistake. To fix their theory and models, they must start keeping the multi-year snow.

      • The travesty is not that earth is hiding the heat from the Consensus People.
        The travesty is that earth is hiding the truth from them in plain sight. The truth is in the ice core data that we already have and in many other data sets that we already have.
        The data shows that it always snows more when earth is warm. The data shows that ice accumulation is always more when temperatures are warm and less when temperature is cold.
        Look at the actual data. The record of more ice accumulation when temperatures are warm is the proof that earth keeps some of the more snow as multi-year ice.

  12. Tobacco again!

    Has anybody found and believed proof that lung cancer and emphysema rates in rural low pollution areas were the same in the era before heavy tobacco use? I doubt it. On the other hand, evidence of climate “extremes” and major climate shifts are written in Chinese documents, Japanese cherry flowering records, old English harvest rolls (ask tonyb!), in the shifts of cultivated plant species, the movements of ancient populations, the Icelandic sagas…and even in the alluvial flows of Yellowstone (where that MWP coincided with big fires.)

    But major climate shifts are also recent. I’ve just posted elsewhere on the subject with regard to my own part of the world, saying essentially this:

    When eastern Australia became a wetter place after 1949, it did so suddenly. The rain in 1950 was quite something, but it’s that inland sea the size of England and Wales which formed to the west of Sydney in 1955 during the Hunter Floods which stands out for me. Here’s the question I like to pose: if the same thing happened again, or if we had a repeat of the extraordinary Bulahdelah Tornado of 1970, or of Cyclone Mahina of 1899, or of the world’s greatest known wildfire (Victoria 1851)…could we trust the climatariat to be sufficiently balanced to point out that these things had occurred before? Even with allowances for different land use, observational means etc? I’ll say boldly that we could not trust them one bit and that they would instead insist on modern climate exceptionalism. They would exploit things to the hilt. If pressed on the past they will shift to fairy floss like “frequency” and “extremes” to keep their case alive. What’s frequent? What’s extreme? (No doubt we’ll soon be treated to 97% increases in frequency of extremes.)

    In my region, all of the records for driest month were set between the 1880s and the 1950s. All of them. 1902 was, understandably, the driest year, while 1963 was our wettest. How could anybody have argued for a permanently drier Australia based on the drier decades after 1980? Yet the “consensus” did just that. Now the same pretend experts are cunningly shifting the terms to “extremes” and away from simple heat and drought. They think they are on to a good thing there and they are right. They will never run out of “extremes”; it’s just a matter of emphasising and dramatising the freshest events while leaving the previous ones to fade away in a drawer. It is a massive falsehood.

    Who are those who resemble the tobacco apologists?

    • The fact the CAGW’ers have to keep dragging out tobacco shows how little they have in the way of evidence for just about anything they say.

      • CAGWER – I like that. Over on climate audit, one commenter suggested the term ‘climate practitioners’ rather than climate scientists. I can’t find it now, Steve may have deleted it, but it’s good term for some of them. You know who you are.

      • ‘Practitioner’ has a fine connotation, much too good for these CAGWy Quackers.
        ========

      • I prefer climatologists. It has such a similar ring to cosmetologists. Another profession that depends on vanity as its life blood.

      • Pooh, Dixie

        “Hot Heads”? (Just kidding.)

  13. Judith,

    There are scientists and reaearch scientists. As the latter I can appreciate amd agree with much of his views. Unfortunately climate science was ambushed eatly in its life by economists and poloticians.

  14. Why don’t GHG-denying climate skeptics ask any of the of the good and very obvious questions?

    Like how to account for the +33C discrepancy?

    • ozzieostrich

      WHT,

      What 33C discrepancy? The surface of the Earth started out at more than 3000C. The average temperature of the Earth (including the interior) is still more than 3000C.

      The surface has obviously cooled quite a bit. It is now whatever it is. You appear to have measured its present temperature, so I won’t argue with your figure.

      If you believe the Earth, (molten core and all), stopped cooling – and it would have to, if, as you seem to think, it is now increasing in temperature – then of course this leads to me asking two questions –

      1. When did the Earth stop cooling?

      2. What mechanism caused this?

      I would be most grateful if you could refrain from spouting rubbish about stopping the surface from cooling whilst the interior remains molten.

      Live well and prosper,

      Mike Flynn.

      • Flynn, Very good questions for an elementary school tyke. Dig a hole about 30 feet into the ground or go into a cave. There you will read a steady state temperature much cooler than the surface.

      • Ozzie, you’re right for the wrong reasons. The surface receives far more energy from the sun than from the interior, in fact the top few metres of the crust is heated more by the sun than by the interior.
        However, there has never been a time in the Earth’s long history when the average surface temperature has been anywhere near as low as -33C, nor has there been any period when there has been zero greenhouse gases – in fact, the original atmosphere was mostly methane. So it’s not as if CO2 has had to double so many times in order to raise the temperature to what it is in the absence of water, water vapour, clouds etc – those conditions have never existed.

      • ozzieostrich

        WHT,

        Tried that at night. It was warmer.

        It’s warmer under the permafrost too.

        You are being a little selective with the truth.

        Did you not understand my questions? If so, I am sure I can simplify them.

        Would you believe that the temperature profile is such that temperature increases with increasing depth? This imposes a practical limit to mine depths, and also limited the depth to which the deepest hole could be drilled in the crust.

        So, might I ask again, when did the Earth stop cooling, and why?

        If you don’t know, just say so.

        Live well and prosper,

        Mike Flynn.

      • phatboy,

        Thank you for your input.

        I was hoping WHT could back up his implied assertion that the Earth’s surface was 33C colder than at present.

        Of course, his response is to avoid answering a simple question about providing some evidence in support of his assertion.

        You may have misunderstood my queries to WHT. I will ask you a question along the same lines, but expressed a little differently.

        Given that the surface was molten, what was the mechanism that resulted in a solid surface with an average temperature of say, 290K, given that the present average surface temperature might be 288K?

        When did the temperature reach 290K?

        Two fairly simple questions, based on a logical progression from molten surface to today’s obvious less than molten state.

        I would appreciate your answer.

        Live well and prosper,

        Mike Flynn.

      • Webster, “Flynn, Very good questions for an elementary school tyke. Dig a hole about 30 feet into the ground or go into a cave. There you will read a steady state temperature much cooler than the surface.”

        On Earth it is cooler below the surface whether you dig a hole or dive in the ocean. On the Moon, digging down it gets warmer. On Venus there is not much difference.

      • ozzieostrich

        captdallas,

        “Geothermal gradient is the rate of increasing temperature with respect to increasing depth in the Earth’s interior. Away from tectonic plate boundaries, it is about 25°C per km of depth (1°F per 70 feet of depth) in most of the world. Strictly speaking, geo-thermal necessarily refers to the Earth but the concept may be applied to other planets.”

        Whether you like 20C or 25C per km of depth, the temperature increases as you get closer to the mantle/core.

        Believe. Don’t believe. The Russian team that gave up on the Mohole, the diamond mining companies that run into cooling costs associated with trying to mine really, really deep, the companies trying to exploit geothermal energy, disagree with your unsupported opinions.

        The oceans (in general) get colder with increasing depth.

        An interesting exercise is comparing the water temperature at the bottom of Lake Baikal with that of the rock surrounding the lake at the same depth. Look it up, and then tell me I’m wrong.

        Good thing nobody is particularly concerned about what either of us thinks. I enjoy the relaxation. What’s your motivation?

        Live well and prosper,

        Mike Flynn.

      • 1. Has not.
        2. Radioactive decay.

      • ozzieostrich

        RobertInAz,

        Thanks. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I assume you are responding to the questions I asked WHT.

        You agree that that the Earth has not stopped cooling, if I understand you correctly.

        I then asked, (as a follow up to anyone who disagreed,) for a mechanism to explain how the Earth stopped cooling. I am inferring that you are providing a reason for the Earth not cooling as fast as would otherwise occur, due to energy resulting from radioactive decay.

        If this is the case, we are in agreement. The brevity of your answers is a little confusing.

        I apologise for appearing a trifle dense.

        Live well and prosper,

        Mike Flynn.

      • Ozzie, as rock is a very poor conductor of heat, it takes a very long time for the heat from the interior to reach the surface. This means it does lose heat via the surface, but very slowly, and only at times when the sun isn’t heating the surface more than the heat’s coming up from below.

      • ozzieostrich

        Playboy,

        I wonder if it is possible that you have misunderstood me.

        I asked a couple of simple questions – I am finding it hard to believe that nobody has answers – or even admit that the Earth would have to stop cooling before it could start warming.

        Are my questions too complicated for you to understand? How can I make them simpler?

        Live well and prosper,

        Mike Flynn.

      • Yes, all of that ozzieostrich.

        To answer your questions:
        A1. Relatively soon after it was formed as it does not take long for radiative thermal equilibrium to be achieved.
        A2. Reaching radiative thermal equilibrium “equilibrium”.

        It is nearly self evident that an earth in thermal isolation from space and with no sun would be rather warmer approaching the temperature of the core. Compare to the moon without an internal heat source where a moon in thermal isolation from space with no sun would be rather chilly.

        For the climate community who can’t do experiments on earth’s system, how about a moon experiment. If we filled up the moons (admittedly thinner) atmosphere with water vapour and CO2, could we increase its mean surface temperature?

      • Flynn had said in the past that he has no formal scientific education. At some point he will have to understand the mathematics of thermal diffusion and how a very small thermal diffusivity of mantle rock translates into a very limited heat flow.

        Flynn also seems not to be interested in the question of what else besides GHG’s can cause the +33C discrepancy. The molten core is certainly not it, even though an untrained scientific mind might think that to be the case.

        Flynn will continue to impugn the integrity of scientists who have ruled out other options, while following with an unctuous rejoinder of “live well and prosper” that virtually drips with insincerity.

      • Mike Flynn, “An interesting exercise is comparing the water temperature at the bottom of Lake Baikal with that of the rock surrounding the lake at the same depth. Look it up, and then tell me I’m wrong.”

        You are not wrong, just going on a different tangent that Webster’s.

        Webster started with his 33C “discrepancy” red herring. There is no discrepancy and 33C depends on cloud albedo which is not fixed. Then he said, “Dig a hole about 30 feet into the ground or go into a cave. There you will read a steady state temperature much cooler than the surface.” Which is incorrect. The temperature of the cave or hole will be close to the long term average temperature of the region where the cave or hole is located. It can be much cooler in summer or much warmer in winter, but it is about average over the year.

        Of Earth, Venus and the Moon, only Earth has a subsurface temperature inversion. That is because the Earth is 70% covered with water which cools the surface by ~ 88Wm-2. The “average” surface energy is ~390Wm-2 and the “average” subsurface energy is ~335Wm-2 because of evaporation. The Moon’s “average” subsurface temperature is approximately equal to its ideal black body temperature, just like Earth. Venus’ is not because with the density of its atmosphere it tends to maintain its geothermal lapse rate past its “surface”.

        The “average” DWLR energy estimated happens to be approximately 335Wm-2 because is depends on the “average” subsurface temperature, not the “surface” temperature.

        “Surface” is in quotes because there are several surfaces that can be used as frames of reference.

      • blouis79,

        It appears we are in agreement, more or less.

        I won’t seek further clarification from you.

        However, I am sure you can see, that if the lowest temperature for the Earth’s surface is, say, 287K, then then that would have to be your “equilibrium” temperature. That must have occurred after the temperature descended through whatever it is now, say 288K. This has to be true if the current average surface temperature has risen above the lowest temperature reached.

        If both the Warmists and yourself are correct, this inflection point must have occurred within the last few hundred years.

        Rather more than “relatively soon after it was formed”.

        Fourier, Lord Kelvin, and many others calculated the age of the Earth based on the increase of temperature with depth. Without the knowledge of mass to energy conversion resulting from the radioactive decay process, their efforts were doomed to failure, regardless of their individual brilliance.

        The Moon, according to recent research, does indeed have a molten core. Small, but there nevertheless. Its relatively small size fits with its supposed history, and the greater surface to volume ratio compared with Earth.

        Anyway, it is of little import in any practical sense.

        Thank you for your comment.

        Live well and prosper,

        Mike Flynn.

      • WHT,

        You keep referring to a 33C discrepancy. There is no discrepancy, any more than you can heat an object by wrapping it in CO2.

        Look beneath your feet. You see precisely no molten surface. The Earth has cooled. Live in denial if you wish.

        In all sincerity, I offer compassion rather than condemnation.

        Live well and prosper,

        Mike Flynn.

    • David Springer

      Is the supposed 33C discrepancy your new hobby horse?

      The discrepancy is based on the temperature of planar black body evenly illuminated by a 240W/m2 source.

      The earth is a spinning sphere mostly covered by water unevenly lit by a 1360W/m2 source.

      The discrepancy arises from not compariing apples to apples. It’s a bullshiit comparison.

      The tropical ocean is pumped with energy at twice the average rate of the whole planet, some 1000W/m2 at high noon (500W mean daily). This results in an ocean surface temperature of up to 35C which then spreads poleward hugging the surface because the warmer water is less dense. Diminishing insolation with increasing latitude retards heat loss along with water’s greenhouse sequestration of the tropical energy (water is transparent to shortwave and opaque to longwave). The so-called greenhouse effect is largely a consequence of the earth being covered by water which is heated by the sun to many meters depth at the speed of light and where the heat at depth must be mechanically transported to the surface at far less than the speed of light (to say the least) before it can escape.

      Put that in your 33C discrepancy pipe and smoke it.

      • SpringyBoy,
        Nice narrative for what we use to call a story problem. You would find these story problems at the end of chapters in scientific textbooks. The problem is that some math has to be applied to solve these story problems. If you don’t provide the math, you don’t get credit for a solution. Scientific education is harsh in that way.

        Not surprising that you are such a fan of Intelligent Design, where instead of providing math, you can simply say that “a miracle occurs”.

    • Web,

      Here is a question for you – how have this year’s ice out dates compared to previous years?

  15. Consensus Climate Scientists are no longer Skeptical.
    Consensus Climate Scientists are no longer Scientists.
    Scientists are always Skeptical.

  16. I do have a skeptical approach to everything I hear and read. But regarding the theory of anthropocentric global warming (AGW), I am a doubter, not a skeptic, at least not in the philosophical sense.

    I do not doubt the correctness of atmospheric physics. So-called greenhouse gases do indeed trap energy.

    I can demonstrate that water and plants trap energy with images from the ASTER instrument flown on the TERRA satellite. That much is obvious.

    Simple arithmetic allows anyone to build a one-dimensional model in Excel to assess whether or not the uncertainty in the AGW theory is great or small.

    The albedo (reflectivity) of the oceans is only about 10% to 15%. So it is clear that water more than the atmosphere traps energy from sunlight. Since water bodies cover about 70% of the Earth’s surface about 50% of the incident energy is absorbed by the oceans. Incident sunlight is not as much affected by greenhouse gases as it is by clouds. Clouds raise the albedo and reduce the heating of the oceans..

    Land areas that are free from ice and snow have an average albedo not much higher than the oceans, mainly because plant life and soil moisture lower the albedo. But land area is only 30% of the Earth’s surface. Clouds can raise the albedo and reduce the heating of the atmosphere..

    Ice and snow have very high albedo and winter the poles alternate in raising the Earth’s albedo. But on average the area of ice and snow is small relative to the entire surface of the globe.

    Clouds have an average albedo of about 60% and on average clouds cover about half the Earth’s surface.

    So climate models should give cloud effects adequate treatment. Nobody knows how to do this, so the models parameterize cloud effects instead. Nobody knows if this is a sufficient method for projecting future climate states.

    [Parameters can be adjusted according to assumptions input into the models. Parameterization allows modelers to inject into the models their estimated impacts of cloud effects. The modelers speak to us through their models, not Nature as some believe.]

    My Excel spreadsheet give me a bird’s-eye view of the Earth’s interaction with sunlight and leads me to the conviction that uncertainty about cloud effects is not trivial. Clouds are “the elephant in the room”.

    Still I am in doubt about my convictions. I wonder if I suffer from confirmation bias. Decades ago Hubert Lamb convinced my that climate has varied in a cyclical way throughout the middle to late Holocene. For more than ten years I have collected papers about climate cycles. So perhaps I did not convert to Warmism when Lamb converted because he was less biased than me.

    For me, the null hypothesis is still that climate change is a natural phenomena, not mankind drives climate..I am not convinced that the null hypothesis has been falsified.

    I doubt the theory of AGW but I will continue to doubt my doubting for another 15 years. Fifteen years of not much change plus another 15 years will make 30 years, half of the 60-year cycle. Either 30 years of cooling or 30 years of not much change will convince me that the AGW is not falsified and is not likely to be falsified. Meanwhile the best economic policy is to do nothing but watchful waiting.

    In the meantime…

    “You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should….With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. ” Max Ehrmann, Desiderata

    .

    • frankpwhite,

      Meanwhile the best economic policy is to do nothing but watchful waiting.

      Yes!. But we should also implement ‘No Regrets’ policies

    • frankpwhite,

      Here I was, but a while back, posting on poor communication
      between us serfs, and here I am now, saying how yer comment
      above speaks ter me. as “a chlld of the universe, no less than
      the trees and the stars; ” I and others ” have a right to be here.
      And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is
      unfolding as it should ….With all its sham,drudgery, and broken
      dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”

      Beth-the-serf.

      • Hector Pascal

        Life is sweet, brother.

        Do you think so?

        Think so! There’s night and day, brother, both sweet things; sun, moon and stars, brother, all sweet things; there’s likewise a wind on the heath. Life is very sweet, brother; who would wish to die?

        I would wish to die?

        You talk like a gorgio–which is the same as talking like a fool–were you a Romany chal you would talk wiser. Wish to die, indeed! A Romany chal would wish to live for ever!

        In sickness, Jasper?

        There’s the sun and stars, brother.

        In blindness, Jasper?

        There’s the wind on the heath, brother; if I could only feel that, I would gladly live for ever.

      • Hector Pascal

        Oops. Forgot the attribution.
        George Borrow
        Lavengro

      • ‘There’s the wind on the heather.’ yes ter that, Henry Pascal,
        and more..
        ,

    • ozzieostrich

      frankpwhite,

      I don’t believe in an object increasing its temperature merely by surrounding it with CO2.

      I wonder if you could let me know your definition of “trap energy”?

      I accept that CO2 can be warmed, and subsequently cool.
      So can everything else. In spite of extensive searching, I am unable to find experimental verification of the GHE.

      This “trapping of energy” seems to embrace the caloric theory of heat – where “heat” is a “subtle fluid”. Unfortunately none of the Warmists seem to be able to formulate this remarkable property of heat trapping in any way that enables experimental verification.

      Over the years, I have been unable to demonstrate the GHE by experiment.

      Have you found any experiments that demonstrates the GHE? I am aware that V. Pratt claimed to have contradicted Woods’ findings, but had no success replicating the results.

      I admit I am currently sceptical, but like Keynes, I am willing to change my mind if new facts emerge.

      Thanks.

      Live well and prosper,

      Mike Flynn.

    • Frank, To think of “trapped energy” as heat is mistaken. An object in the sun warms up. An object in space (eg earth at night) cools down. An atmosphere damps the thermal oscillations. A moon ranges from reportedly +100degC to -173degC. The earth also has an internal heat source (molten), probably not dissimilar to the sun’s molten core if you believe in the Iron Sun theory.

      If one converts energy to a different form, then one could regard it as “trapped”. But trapped energy is not heat. “Trapping” sunlight via photosynthesis does not make warm leaves and they do not emit same energy at night. Stored chemical potential energy in plants persists until is released by combustion or metabolism. This is a different phenomenon from water with a large thermal mass absorbing sunlight, since it emits it at night.

      OTOH, you will also be able to find thermal images of cities showing the magnitude of the “airport heat island” effect caused presumably by a combination of jet fuel combustion, tarmac, and braking energy. Airport heat islands several degreesC hotter than the leafy suburbs bias the land-based temperature record.

  17. Parallels with the current debate over the effects of human activity on the world’s climate are obvious. There is little question that human activity is causing the earth’s atmosphere to warm up and that this will lead to changes in climate patterns.

    When the temperature is well inside the bounds of all of the past ten thousand years there is a huge question about humans causing any warming. If we have cause warming, why are we well inside the bounds of the past ten thousand years.

    This warm period is much like the Roman and Medieval Warm Periods.
    I guess humans must have caused those as well, but they did not use CO2 on those events.

    What is happening with temperature and sea level is well inside the bounds of the past ten thousand years.

    Chicken Little, Give up, you don’t have any data to support your Alarmism.

    • John Carpenter

      HAP, it’s an inertia problem and that’s part of the problem.

      Again, please point us to the data you are speaking of that shows your theory to be correct.

      Please, feel free not to answer my questions as usual. Q: You know how skeptics view people and theories that don’t or can’t answer simple questions posed to them? A: with extreme skepticism.

  18. Sorry about that:

    For me, the null hypothesis is still that climate changes are natural phenomena. Nature, not mankind, drives climate..I am not convinced that the null hypothesis has been falsified.

  19. “There are conflicting models, but none of them suggest that anthropogenic warming is not occurring—only what the results of this warming will be and when precisely they will take effect. This uncertainty has given some industry leaders and politicians, with their own special interests, an opening to declare that global warming is not anthropogenic”.

    Whether or not anthropogenic warming is happening is a purely academic question. If we all say “it is happening” during the current standstill, we have to believe its effect is wholly offset by natural variations of unknown scope and extent – which might (or might not) swamp it entirely for the next century or so. But that debate tells us nothing at all to help policymakers determine whether attempted intervention would cause net gain or net pain.

    An alternative explanation is that “it is not happening”. Perhaps that is because the expected warmth is heading out to space or into the unplumbed depths of the ocean or being eaten by evaporation. Why is this question “disingenuous” and “wrongheaded”? Why does Firestein laud questions but declare this one to be verboten?

  20. Peter Miller

    As a geologist in the private sector, I am a natural sceptic.

    You instinctively know something is wrong when the gatekeepers of land based, climate data routinely update the historical temperature figures to make the recent past cooler in order to ‘prove’ the concept of global warming. However, the ‘updating’ of this data since the beginning of the satellite era is negligible. Why? Because the satellite data forces the gatekeepers to be honest.

    As for climate models – obviously beautiful in the eye of their makers – they are just like geological models at the start of an exploration project. You have a concept, there are some clues and you have to test them – in climate science, the models need to be time proven; in geology, Mr Drill provides the proof. In geology, the first models usually prove to be wildly inaccurate, the same applies in climate science.

    As for climate computer models, the analogy would be that we are now at about Hole 5 in a 250 hole drilling program. In other words, we have a very long way to go, as the amount we do not know or understand far outweighs what we do by a factor of at least 10 to 1.

    Good science is all about recognising there is always more to understand and discover. Bad science is all about blindly accepting the concensus and forcing those beliefs on others.

    And that is why so much climate science is bad science.

    • A good explanation of one reason why geologists, who have a lot of accumulated experience in the field, tend to be more sceptical about the climate model outputs (and those who believe them) than people from other disciplines.

      There are other reasons as well, as others have explained on this thread, why geologists, engineers, economists and senior managers who work in business have a better understanding of the damaging consequences of the policies proposed by the those who have little experience in the commercial world and simply do not understand.

    • Apart from present day reality checks, geologists also have a deeper understanding of the geological history of earth, which reinforces what HermanAlexanderPope says earlier – we are not outside of the bounds of earth scale historical temperatures.

      For more details on warming from another geologist, I like Timothy Casey http://greenhouse.geologist-1011.net/

  21. tempterrain

    Judith,

    “Firestein lost me on his discussion of tobacco and climate change…”

    Does “lost me” mean you didn’t understand what he was saying? I can’t believe you failed to grasp it. If you really didn’t, I’ll have a try at explaining it myself but I’d be hard pressed to make it any simpler than:

    “Of course, uncertainty in science can be abused and twisted to nefarious purposes………..”

    or ” tobacco companies persistently strove to keep the public in a state of uncertainty with the claim that more research was necessary…

    Although you could perhaps try replacing the words “tobacco companies” with “the fossil fuel industry” or “those who try to answer scientific questions using right-wing political considerations”.

    • temp,

      I highly doubt Dr Curry needs you to “simplify” things for her. You on the other hand are giving us the impression that simple is about all you can handle.

      Unless you can show how you have “followed the money”, comparisons to Big Tobacco are at best specious and more likely fabrications.

  22. If parallels are to be drawn to tobacco, they should more properly be drawn to the hullabaloo around so-called ‘second-hand smoke’, which really amounts to epidemiological malpractice at its worst.
    For a good dose of irony, come to the UK and witness railway stations where the air is thick with the choking fumes of a half-a-dozen idling locomotives, while the platforms are littered with ‘No Smoking’ signs. You couldn’t make it up, really.

    • tempterrain

      “……the choking fumes of a half-a-dozen idling locomotives,”

      Don’t worry the fumes from Diesel and other polluting engines are next on the “hit list”!

      At least I’d hope so.

      • My paternal grandfather was a coal miner who started smoking in his early teens and didn’t quit until his 70’s.

        He lived past the age of 92.

        Your genetics will far outweigh any other factor in how long you live.

      • tempterrain

        timg56,

        “Your genetics will far outweigh any other factor in how long you live.” ?

        I started writing out a reasoned argument why this was so obviously not true but I’ve just deleted it all. There was nothing that you couldn’t work out for yourself anyway so I’ll leave it as an exercise for the student.

  23. Stuart Firestein, writes “To be realistically engaged with science means appreciating doubt and uncertainty as the necessary precursor to knowledge and illumination”

    Yes and no. There are different sorts of uncertainty. If we can measure some quantity, we know how accurately we can know what the numeric value of that quantity is. We are certan of this inaccuracy. The key to understanding what the physics means is our ability to actually measure what we are studying.

    In CAGW, the key quantity we need to measure is climate sensitivity. The fact of the matter is that the earth’s atmopshere is so chaotic, non-linear etc, that we are currently unable to measure climate sensitivity. Because of this, scientists should have stated that we cannot prove that the hypothesis of CAGW is correct. Instead of which, the claim was made that climate sensitiviy can be estimated, and the result is equivalent to a measurement. This is, of course, nonsense.

    It comes down to the discussion I have had with Steven Mosher. Back on the thread Why Libertarians should support a carbon tax Steven wrote

    Steven Mosher | July 15, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    @@@@@
    B. “Measurement” and “estimate” describe the exact same things.
    Wrong. They are not categorically different but they are quantitatively different. The both come with uncertainty and innaccuracy and measurements have very small uncertainities. Measurements also rely on fewer governing asssumtions. So when I measure something with a ruler for example the number of assumptions I have to make is really small ( like rulers dont change length when I am using them. Estimates on the other hand usually carry many more assumptions and much larger uncertainties. But if you are trying to argue that something must be measured to be known, then you are invoking an epistemic standard and that standard is not grounded in any categorical difference.
    @@@@@

    I wrote in reply
    @@@
    I am not going to debate this issue any more. What Steven has written is just plain garbage. Just, in the future, should I write any posts on this issue, it will on the basis of what Physics 101 teaches as to how things are measured. If Steven wants to object, sobeit. I will not join in the discussion.
    @@@

    As long as there are people like Steven who confuse the categorical difference between measurements and estimates, the pseudo science of CAGW will presist.

    • Steven Mosher is married to AGW. So just like a conventional marriage, Steven is going to have to do and say things to keep the wife happy that he normally wouldn’t do or say. She needs to be accommodated. So Steven has an awful choice to make every day: Compromise or divorce. Compromising is demeaning and embarrassing, but divorces are messy and sometimes very messy.

      Andrew

      • Thanks Andrew. The point is that Steven claims that there is no categorical difference between estimates and measurements. I claim there is. I cannot prove he is wrong; likewise he cannot prove I am wrong.

        One of us is wrong. There is no use our discussing the issue. But who is right and who is wrong? I hope someone who knows more about Physics than I do can say who is right and whom is wrong. Maybe our hostess?

      • Jim,

        I think the larger point here is that if Mr. Mosher isn’t an AGW pusher, he never argues this with you.

        Andrew

      • Steven Mosher

        “Jim,

        I think the larger point here is that if Mr. Mosher isn’t an AGW pusher, he never argues this with you.”

        wrong. the argument is philosophical and has nothing to do with the science issue being discussed.

        Here is how measurement and estimate could be CATEGORICALLY different.

        A) if one had zero error and the other had some error.
        for example 2+2 = 4 has zero error. that operation unlike measurement and estimate has zero error. It is categorically different.

        B) if one relied on assumptions and the other did not. Reliance on
        assumptions goes to the foundational character of the warrant.
        For example, if one piece of knowledge required no assumptions
        it would be foundational. If another piece of knowledge required an assumption, it would not be foundational.

        Those two characteristics would give you a categorcial difference. So if we could say : measurements have no error whereas estimates do, then we have an argument that appealed to the fact that something is estimated rather than measured would have traction. Likewise, if you could say measurements require no assumptions whereas estimates do, then you could also make a good argument that appealed to the lack of measurement. But measurements like estimates have error and require assumptions. That does not make them THE SAME, but it means that you simply cant appeal to the fact of “un measured” to make any epistemic headway. To be sure if you have an estimate and a measurement you pick the measurement. why? because measurements require FEWER assumptions, and because measurements have smaller errors. So, you could reject a estimate because it has too many assumptions, or because the error bars are too large. But to reject it because its “not a measurement” implies that there is some catagorical difference between estimate and measurement which renders the former worthless.

        Lets put this in context. If Jim argued that the response to doubly c02 was a useless number because estimating it required too many asssumptions, or because the resulting anwser was too uncertain, I would have no issue whatsoever with his claim. None. zero.
        But thats not his argument. His argument is that the quantity is not measured. for that argument to gain traction it assumes there is a categorical, rather than a practical, difference between. It implies that without measurement there is no knowledge or warranted belief. Its pretty simple. If you or jim want to say. we prefer measurement over estimate and the estimate of sensitivity requires too many assumptions and is too uncertain, then I have no issue with that argument. But if you want to argue that unless a thing is measured it is unknowable, then I have an issue with that whether you are talking about sensitivity or the temperature at the center of the sun.

      • Steven, Words, words, words. You have omitted my major point about the differemce between measurements and estimates. When you make a measurement, you automatically get the value of the uncertainty; the +/-. The one goes with the other. They are inseperable. Once you asked me to prove this. I cannot. I have forgotten the details of what I was taught in Physics 101. But I defy you to present a measurement in physics that does NOT have a +/- associated with it.

        When you only have an estimate, you have no measurement of accuracy. None whatsoever. That is the core difference between estimates and measurements. The +/- accuracy, which ALWAYS goes with a measurement.

        And this is where the IPCC makes it’s fundamental error. With only estimates and no measurements, and therefore no measurement of accuracy, they claim that things to do with CAGW are “extremely likely” or “very likely”. I have no objection to CAGW being a hypothesis. I object to people claiming that this hypothesis supports any sort of political action.

      • “has nothing to do with the science issue being discussed”

        There was a specific claim that Climate Sensitivity has been Measured, which you Mr. Mosher, chose to defend. Measuring is a scientific act and the context is climate (a scientific arena). It has everything to do with the science.

        Andrew

      • Progressives love it ‘May’ day.

      • BA,

        While I like the analogy, I don’t agree with your conclusion. The concept that compromise is demeaning, embarrassing or otherwise a bad thing can be a major obsticle to getting anything accomplished.

        I remain a huge Ronald Reagan fan. One of his great skills was his willingness to compromise in order to advance his policies and goals. He understood that getting some of what you want is better than not getting anything and hoping that if you are just resolute enough, everything you want will eventually be yours. He also understood that just because you agree to a compromise solution, it doesn’t mean there will be no round 2, where you can gain the next step forward.

      • John Carpenter

        “When you make a measurement, you automatically get the value of the uncertainty; the +/-.”

        No Jim, it’s not ‘automatic’, it is better understood and therefore more reliable.

        “When you only have an estimate, you have no measurement of accuracy. None whatsoever.”

        That is wrong Jim. The accuracy of an estimate is less well understood and less reliable, but you can put practical upper and lower bounds on estimates which is an accuracy.

        I can measure a board with a measuring tape and find it is 96 inches long (8 ft) +/- 1/32″ of an inch. I can estimate the same piece of wood to be about as high as the ceiling of the room I am sitting in. I know my ceilings are 7.5 ft tall in the old part of our home and 8.5 ft tall in the rooms where we put on an addition. I know the board will stand up all the way in the taller ceiling rooms but not in the lower ceiling rooms. I can bound my estimate between those two knowns and estimate the board to be 8 ft +/- 6 inches.

        I could give you examples all day long like this where I can measure with a more reliable, smaller error and estimate the same with a less reliable, large error. But I can always give an estimate a practical upper and lower bound.

      • John, you write “No Jim, it’s not ‘automatic’”

        Sorry, John, when it comes to measurements in physics, any measurement ALWAYS comes with a +/-; there are no exceptions. I defy you to name any measurement in physics that did NOT come witha +/-. Such measurements dont exist.

        I realise I have been less that precise in discussing estimates. There are clearly two different types of estimates, Where measurements have previously been made, it is possible to have estimates based on those measurements. In such cases, estimates can be quite accurate. In the case of climate sensitivity there has been no measurement, and the case is entirely different. Where estimates are based on something other than previous measuements , then no-one has any idea how acurrate these estimates are.

    • Far be it from me to come to the defense of Steven Mosher. I doubt he needs or wants that. But my comment to which he responded was simply about the use of semantics to obscure debate.

      But in the context of climate sensitivity, I have to say I don’t see how you “measure” something like that. “Climate sensitivity,” being the response of the climate to a doubling of CO2, is simply another way of describing a climate model. It only makes sense as a term if you know all the processes by which the climate reacts to CO2. Then, calculating all the other forcings and feedbacks, you could theoretically determine climate sensitivity.

      In other words, if you can’t model the climate, you have no way of knowing what the climate sensitivity is. So how do you “measure” something that is the end result of a series of extremely complex calculations? You can calculate it, estimate it, infer it, make it up out of whole cloth. But how do you measure it?

      Is there a climate sensitivityometer?

      If we’re going to hold the warmists to the actual definition of the terminology they use, and I really think we should, then we should follow suit.

      • Gary, you write “But in the context of climate sensitivity, I have to say I don’t see how you “measure” something like that.”

        You are absolutely so right. This is something that I would have thought was so completely obvious to anyone who has anything to do with CAGW, that it ought to be incontestible. In particlular, it must have been obvious 40 to 50 years ago, when CAGW was first studied. Yet the people who claimed that CAGW was real, chose to ignore this fact. One wonders why.

        The warmists refuse to concede, that because climate sensitivity cannot be measured, it is impossible for CAGW to be anything other than a hypothesis,

      • Is it almost self-evident that “climate sensitivity” is nonsense. The concept requires direct proportionality of atmospheric temperature to some component of it. A linear model is rather clearly not what the climate system is.

        This simple notion could be very easily tested in a physics lab. I hypothesise that the radiative thermal equilibrium temperature of a mass of any gas exposed to IR and free to radiate to space is independent of its composition.

      • John Carpenter

        Climate sensitivity to CO2 does not have to be measured by using a model only. It can also be derived from proxy data, which is empirical, measureable data of the type Mr Cripwell is so fond of. It can then be compared with model calculations. I’m not saying the right answers have been determined either way yet, but likely ranges can be determined and have. Those are also debatable. It’s better to debate the likely ranges than whether a value like climate sensitivity can be measured at all IMO.

    • Jim Cripwell

      Your debate with Steven Mosher concerning the difference between the words “measurement” and “estimate” goes back to a more basic difference between empirical versus theoretical data.

      Wiki tells us:

      Empirical evidence (also empirical data, sense experience, empirical knowledge, or the a posteriori) is a source of knowledge acquired by means of observation or experimentation. Empirical evidence is information that justifies a belief in the truth or falsity of an empirical claim. In the empiricist view, one can only claim to have knowledge when one has a true belief based on empirical evidence. This stands in contrast to the rationalist view under which reason or reflection alone is considered to be evidence for the truth or falsity of some propositions.

      Wiki goes on to describe empirical evidence in science:

      In science, empirical evidence is required for a hypothesis to gain acceptance in the scientific community. Normally, this validation is achieved by the scientific method of hypothesis commitment, experimental design, peer review, adversarial review, reproduction of results, conference presentation and journal publication. This requires rigorous communication of hypothesis (usually expressed in mathematics), experimental constraints and controls (expressed necessarily in terms of standard experimental apparatus), and a common understanding of measurement.

      IMO Steven falls into the logic trap of confusing “measurement” (empirical evidence, based on observation or reproducible experimentation) with “estimate” (hypothetical reflection based on theoretical reasoning, model studies, etc.).

      Both obviously have a place in the scientific method.

      But I would agree with you that the two are basically different.

      Max

  24. Paul Vaughan

    A comfortable life spent swimming unproductively in uncertainty on the taxpayer’s dime…

    The drunkenly romanticized notion that scientists should appreciate and be comfortable with ignorance & uncertainty is an unacceptably lazy recipe for yet larger unproductive armies of enduring government & university stagnation.

    Comfort IS THE PROBLEM.

    Give the funding instead to hardworking people with sufficient drive & capacity to endure whatever discomfort may exist on the challenging path that actually reaches beyond uncertainty.

    Prescribing a comfortably ignorant life on “scientific” easy street isn’t helpful.

    • Paul, +100. As I have tried to point out, if we follow the scientific method, and measure things instead of estimating them, then we are certain of the uncertainty. This excuse our hostess continually brings forward of just uncertainty, is nonsense.

      • Jim

        Did you see the ensuing hilarity on the last thread when Mosh said that ‘Measurement and estimate’ were two different things, thereby negating dozens of his posts to you saying the opposite?
        tonyb

      • Paul Vaughan

        97% is certain:
        1+1 = 2

        Maybe someone can sell scenarios for the other 3%.

    • “A comfortable life spent swimming unproductively in uncertainty on the taxpayer’s dime…”

      Exploration is similar to science.
      If either is supported by the taxpayer dime, it would be reasonably to expects a large part of it to have a direction rather than merely wandering around.

      If exploring for a King, one is expected to be looking for stuff which has value for the Kingdom.

      Otherwise, off with their heads.

  25. We can’t double the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere and expect nothing bad will happen.

    • Bob, you bwrite “We can’t double the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere and expect nothing bad will happen.”

      Why not? CO2 concentrations have been much higher in the past, and we and the world are still here and thriving. Please, let us have some solid science for a response; not just handwaving.

      • Jim, It has all been shown to you, yet you continue to fail to see the light.
        Yes CO2 concentrations have been higher in the past.

        Why don’t you google Ontong-Java or the Siberian Traps for examples of catastrophic examples of historical CO2 excursions.

        By the way, have you provided any cites to support your positions?

      • Bob, you write “By the way, have you provided any cites to support your positions?”

        How can I have cites to support my position? You claim it is bad to double CO2. I ask why it is bad. I can find no evidence to support the claim that it is bad. So I haved no cites. If you are claiming that all the garbage written by the warmists is evidence of things that CO2 does, which are bad, then all I can say is I have read most of them, and I find the evidence completely unconvincing. Where is the DIRECT evidence that adding CO2 to the atmopshere from current levels does any harm, such as raise global temperatures?

      • Bankers aren’t wrong;…

        http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/16/us-worldbank-climate-coal-idUSBRE96F19U20130716

        bad things may happen to poor people just like the rest of US.

      • Tom,
        Nice to see some World Bank sanity.
        Might save some miners from going down, down and dieing.
        Which is another good reason not to burn coal.

      • How about the CAMP?

        http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2013/volcanic-eruptions-triggered-end-triassic-extinction-0321.html

        Caution this link contains the buzzword “ocean acidification”

      • David Springer

        Jim Cripwell | July 17, 2013 at 12:29 pm |

        “Where is the DIRECT evidence that adding CO2 to the atmopshere from current levels does any harm, such as raise global temperatures?”

        Where’s the evidence that raising global temperature causes harm?

        In other words what exactly is the optimum global temperature and why?

    • We can’t double the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere and expect nothing bad will happen.

      It will still be a trace gas which is practically 100% HOLE in the atmosphere – some thermal blanket you’ve got there..

      • Yeah, but it does pretty good at the appropriate wavelengths.

      • Bob, there are no examples of CO2 being used as a thermal insulator in industry. There are no experiments demonstrating CO2 thermalization of IR. The only available data is the radiaitve transfer data collected within IR-reflective apparatus. The reality is aborption+emission = scattering

        Specifically, the total amount of CO2 between surface and top of atmosphere (17km) is equivalent to about 3.7m thickness of 100% CO2. We could increase the pressure and say 1m thickness at 4atm (60PSI). Ask the questions – what temperature would be expected inside 1m thick of CO2 at 4atm in the sun contained within IR-transparent vessel. Why hasn’t anybody dared to do the experiment?

      • “What are safe levels of Carbon Dioxide?

        “Source: http://cdiac.esd.ornl.gov/pns/faq_othr.html Levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), a colorless, odorless gas, have been known to reach 3,000 parts per million (ppm) in homes, schools, and offices with no ill effects. The maximum recommended by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for an 8-hour occupation is 5,000 ppm (13 times the current level of 380 ppm). The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also use 5,000 ppm as their threshold for occupational safety.

        “But 5,000 ppm appears to be a very conservative estimate of safe levels because other sources claim we can tolerate up to 1.5% of it in air, 15,000 parts per million.

        “Consider: people with respiratory problems are given medical gas typically consisting of 95 percent oxygen and 50,000 ppm (5 percent) carbon dioxide. This gas can also be obtained with CO2 ranging from 1% to as high as 10% for treating people who have been asphyxiated.

        “Also consider: we would die if we did not breathe in such a way as to retain very close to 65,000 ppm (6.5%) of CO2 in the alveoli (tiny air sacs) of our lungs.

        “And finally, the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) reports that 100,000 ppm (10%) of CO2 is the atmospheric concentration immediately dangerous to life.”

        http://theroadtoemmaus.org/RdLb/11Phl/Sci/CO2&Health.html

        Re the 6.5% – this is what we produce out of our own carbon for every lungful of atmosphere we breathe in. That is the optimum level for our bodies to be able to use oxygen, if it falls to 4.5% we’re in trouble.

        “Conclusion

        “Over the last 350 million years CO2 has varied by 10 fold, approximately 250 ppm to 2,500 ppm with an average level of 1,500 ppm. This average level happens to be the optimum level for plants, it seems by evolutionary design, and is the reason that this level of CO2 is used in greenhouses Since plants and animals evolved together it’s likely that humans also evolved to function best at some higher level.

        “However, at 380 ppm we are not far from the lower end of that 10-fold range. Because so many people benefit from enhanced levels of CO2, it appears that our present atmosphere is already lower than the minimum to which some people can adapt. Scientific studies and established medical practices leave no doubt that increased levels of CO2 help people with respiratory problems and, some time in our lives, that will include nearly every one of us.”
        http://theroadtoemmaus.org/RdLb/11Phl/Sci/CO2&Health.html

      • Pooh, Dixie

        Myrrh | July 17, 2013 at 5:21 pm

        You linked to http://theroadtoemmaus.org/RdLb/11Phl/Sci/CO2&Health.html in which it is claimed “considered, thanks to Al Gore, a pollutant by the U.S. Supreme Court?”

        A minor point in that web page, but incorrect: It was the EPA that declared it was a pollutant.

        The EPA, under the much-reviled Bush Administration, had declined to characterize CO2 as a “pollutant”. That EPA claimed it lacked authority.

        A lawsuit was brought to force the EPA to recognize it had such authority and regulate CO2. Thanks to sloppy legislation that allowed anything airborne to be ruled a pollutant, the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA had such authority, just in time for the EPA (under Carol Browner http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carol_Browner ) to rule that CO2 was a pollutant.

        This gave the EPA authoritarian control over 70% to 80% of our energy supply.

        Justice Stevens. “MASSACHUSETTS ET AL. V. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY ET AL.,” April 2, 2007. http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/06pdf/05-1120.pdf

    • David Springer

      We can’t double the concentration of CO2 and expect nothing good to happen either. Undoubtedly there will be some amount of both good and bad. The question is how much of each and at what cost may the ratio be changed.

    • Bob,

      Why can’t we?

      While I might be willing to accept “We can’t double the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere and expect no warming will happen.” where is the evidence that warming equates to bad things happening?

      FYI – I included the qualifier “might” because I do not think anyone has come close to showing clouds could not have a large moderating effect on how much warming CO2 will lead to.

    • Bob Droege

      You write:

      We can’t double the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere and expect nothing bad will happen.

      Why not?

      Please elaborate.

      Max

  26. Seems like most of the posts are off-topic.

    I bought his book, very short with several case studies showing the power of “ignorance” in scientific inquiry. Very interesting. I had thought to use it in a non-majors course but I have only read 1/4 of it and my wife gets sick of it laying around and keeps hiding it on me.

    Sadly, his example with climate is somewhat opposed to everything else he said. Here is willing to trust the “consensus”. Changes of a few words however would make it correct. Such as it is probable that man “can” affect the climate, there are probably several good examples. The effects of CO2 may increase warming but to what extent is still a question. That kind of thing. I think that he might even be persuaded of that by someone who pointed that out to him in a few calm, clear sentencesb. Someone like Judith say. Many of the rest of you might scare the poor man.

  27. “What leads to good science is uncertainty.”

    I think that skepticism and being skeptical is what leads to a good science. Certainty is an error inherent to the system being analyzed. Being s skeptical is an innate trait of the scientist that drives discovery.

  28. Looks like a moderately sophisticated hit piece to me. We need a tobacco variant of Godwin’s law.

    The problem for the alarmists is skeptics are not a monolithic, easily identifiable target. We cannot be sued or, in this era, silenced. Everybody probably knows a few. We are still invited to family functions. Our friends and relatives know their appeals to authority will be met by a pleasant response along the lines of “let’s look at what the science says.” So they stop asking. People, even if they are addicted to Everquest or Second Life, really do understand that computer models do not define reality.

  29. David L. Hagen

    As a research engineer, I explore what is not known to see how it can be improved. To do that I also have to search for the major uncertainties to identify what is considered “certain” that ‘taint so.

    Worthwhile insights by Richard P. Feynman
    “We are trying to prove ourselves wrong as quickly as possible, because only in that way can we find progress.”

    “If you thought that science was certain – well, that is just an error on your part.”

    “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.”

    “I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong. If we will only allow that, as we progress, we remain unsure, we will leave opportunities for alternatives. We will not become enthusiastic for the fact, the knowledge, the absolute truth of the day, but remain always uncertain … In order to make progress, one must leave the door to the unknown ajar.

    “We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. But there are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on.

    Conversely, Mark Twain observed:
    “There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.”

  30. Willis Eschenbach

    Hilary Ostrov (aka hro001) | July 17, 2013 at 4:09 am | Reply

    Willis, with all due respect, I believe your criticism of Judith is completely over the top and unwarranted.

    I personally have just as much of a problem with those who (in my view) abuse the privilege of commenting at WUWT by telling Anthony what he should or should not be posting, as I do with far too many who take such liberties here.

    Sorry, but I find such behaviour somewhat akin to that of one who accepts an invitation to someone’s home for dinner, barges in and demands that they change the menu and immediately replace the sofa in the living room with one more to their liking!

    This is Judith’s blog, and I believe she’s entitled to post whatever she damn well pleases – without being subjected to barrages of temper tantrums!

    Hilary, her poster attacked me personally, claiming that my actions and those of my friends were in the mold of the tobacco companies, which lied and cheated to further their point of view.

    This is bizarro-world stuff, because the side that actually has mimicked Big Tobacco are the alarmists, not the skeptics.

    You are right, Judith is entitled to post whatever she pleases. But if you think I’ll sit still for her posting the slimy attacks of some scumbucket who calls me a liar and a cheat, you are very wrong.

    So she can post what she pleases, but when you sow the wind, you just might reap the whirlwind …

    And what it is like is behaviour somewhat akin to that of one who accepts an invitation to someone’s home for dinner, comes in, and is immediately attacked, told that they are liars and cheaters who are as bad as the tobacco companies and that they’re twisting the science … perhaps you’re the woman to sit still for that and not make any comment.

    Me, I’m not. I will say something when that happens, that’s what friends do when they see their friend driving the bus off the cliff. They scream “You’re going off the cliff”, they don’t sit silent like you advise.

    And what I said was, this guest poster is not scraping the bottom of the barrel for Judith. It’s scraping the bottom of the sewer. And yes, Hilary, she’s free to scrape the sewer bottom as long as she wants … I’m just trying to get her to notice that it is damaging her reputation to continue to do so.

    w.

    • David Springer

      It’s not a guest post, Willis. Curry excepted from the original which falls within fair use and requires no permission or other contact with the author and/or copyright holder.

      Calm down. Maybe count to ten a few times or something before flying off the handle.

    • Hilary, her poster attacked me personally, claiming that my actions and those of my friends were in the mold of the tobacco companies, which lied and cheated to further their point of view.

      Willis, first of all – in the interest of truth in posting – it was not Judith’s “[guest] poster”. It was a selection of excerpts from an adaptation of a book, which contained two paragraphs both of which were generalizations that Firestein had obviously picked up from the “brainwashing” that’s been going on for the last 20+ years (as was evident from what I’ve watched, so far, of today’s US Senate Committee Hearings – and yesterday’s U.K. Commons Sci Tech Committee Hearings).

      Just in case you hadn’t noticed, Judith quite often posts material of others on a variety of topics (my guess would be that this is why she calls her blog, Climate Etc) But I digress …

      Was Firestein wrong not to have done some due diligence before including these two paragraphs? Absolutely!

      My blood pressure certainly rose – or if I might borrow one of your very apt neologisms, “I was angrified” – when I saw the title [Golden Holocaust] of Proctor’s book, let alone the subject and subsequent unthinking parroting of Gore/Oreske’s “parallel”. Even more than it did ~3.5 years ago when I first stepped onto this battlefield and learned, much to my horror (as you may or may not recall from our conversation, in late 2009) that I’m a “denier”!

      But I know that Firestein doesn’t know who I am – and with all due respect, Willis, he probably doesn’t (well at least didn’t) know who you are either. Nor, I suspect, does he even have a clue who Mann, Jones, Gleick et al might be (let alone their well-documented misdeeds and dishonesty).

      So while I certainly get that you feel – if not that you are firmly and adamantly convinced – that Firestein “attacked [you] personally”, you were not named (nor was anyone else, for that matter) in these two paragraphs (which, as I had mentioned in my comment, IMHO were irrelevant to his discussion and key arguments.

      Two measly and misbegotten paragraphs out of sixteen, Willis. A mere 275 words out of 1,274. And this makes the content of Judith’s whole post an ‘attack on you personally’?! Not to mention the rest of the (IMHO) unwarranted criticisms you seem hell-bent on repeating and/or embellishing ad infinitum.

      Come on, Willis!

      Please consider taking a step back (as opposed to continuing to dig in your heels, as you appear to be doing)!

      And, perhaps, ask yourself: Is berating Judith or (as I note you have done on the post from which she’d captured these excerpts) brow-beating Firestein with a barrage of over the top insults and tirades – on issues about which, for all we know, he may not have a clue – likely to win friends or positively influence people? Let alone persuade them to think they should, well, ask some good questions.

      Can you think of no other way to lead Firestein to the path of enlightenment?! And if not, may I respectfully ask, why not?

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Hilary Ostrov (aka hro001) | July 19, 2013 at 6:04 am | Reply

        First, my thanks, Hilary, for your nuanced and peaceful post. My comments follow.

        Willis, first of all – in the interest of truth in posting – it was not Judith’s “[guest] poster”.

        Agreed. It was a long selection of someone’s writing that she quoted, not a guest post, I misspoke. However, I fear I don’t understand what difference that makes.

        It was a selection of excerpts from an adaptation of a book, which contained two paragraphs both of which were generalizations that Firestein had obviously picked up from the “brainwashing” that’s been going on for the last 20+ years (as was evident from what I’ve watched, so far, of today’s US Senate Committee Hearings – and yesterday’s U.K. Commons Sci Tech Committee Hearings).

        Just because a man is “brainwashed”, whatever that means to you, does not excuse his lying about his opponents. Surely you would agree with that, unless you are absolving him from personal responsibility.

        Just in case you hadn’t noticed, Judith quite often posts material of others on a variety of topics (my guess would be that this is why she calls her blog, Climate Etc) But I digress …

        Indeed she does, and I have often lauded her for it and linked to her blog in my posts. I have no problem with that.

        My objection is to her uncritically republishing ugly lies, things that she knows are not true.

        Was Firestein wrong not to have done some due diligence before including these two paragraphs? Absolutely!

        I don’t care about Firestein, he’s some no-name academic. I do care about what Judith posts, because people expect it to be honest.

        My blood pressure certainly rose – or if I might borrow one of your very apt neologisms, “I was angrified” – when I saw the title [Golden Holocaust] of Proctor’s book, let alone the subject and subsequent unthinking parroting of Gore/Oreske’s “parallel”. Even more than it did ~3.5 years ago when I first stepped onto this battlefield and learned, much to my horror (as you may or may not recall from our conversation, in late 2009) that I’m a “denier”!

        But I know that Firestein doesn’t know who I am – and with all due respect, Willis, he probably doesn’t (well at least didn’t) know who you are either. Nor, I suspect, does he even have a clue who Mann, Jones, Gleick et al might be (let alone their well-documented misdeeds and dishonesty).

        Again, my issue is not that Firestein is telling lies about my friends and I. It is that Judith knowingly reprinted those lies. At a minimum that is hugely impolite and insulting, particularly from someone with a professed goal of restoring trust.

        So while I certainly get that you feel – if not that you are firmly and adamantly convinced – that Firestein “attacked [you] personally”, you were not named (nor was anyone else, for that matter) in these two paragraphs (which, as I had mentioned in my comment, IMHO were irrelevant to his discussion and key arguments.

        I know he didn’t attack me personally, that’s obvious. But if someone talks like that about say Jews or people of color, individual members of that group feel attacked. There’s not a lot of vocal well-known skeptics out here on the planet. I’ve met a good chunk of them. He’s attacking my friends and acquaintances and me en masse, not me personally … again, so what?

        Two measly and misbegotten paragraphs out of sixteen, Willis. A mere 275 words out of 1,274. And this makes the content of Judith’s whole post an ‘attack on you personally’?! Not to mention the rest of the (IMHO) unwarranted criticisms you seem hell-bent on repeating and/or embellishing ad infinitum.

        In part it was so objectionable because it was only two paragraphs, because it was slipped in so cleverly and quickly and seamlessly. No long discussion, no debate, no evidence presented, he asserted that obviously the skeptics were acting like the tobacco companies, which means lying, cheating, and hiding data for base reasons. And unknowing people who read that lie will likely believe it for a long, long time, because it’s only two paragraphs and it’s “obvious”, no discussion required.

        Come on, Willis!

        No, you come on, Hilary. Perhaps having someone republish false accusations that you are lying, cheating, and hiding data doesn’t bother you. But for me, this kind of attack is like someone quoting from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in the middle of a scientific paper. Not a lot, mind you, just a couple of paragraphs out of sixteen, which stated as a known fact that it was obvious that Jewish scientists lied, cheated, and concealed data.

        Thats how I feel about this scurrilous lie, Hilary. Now, you can call both me and the Jewish scientists hypersensitive or something. Or you could say that since the Protocols didn’t mention any Jewish scientists by name, that no Jewish scientist should be upset, just as you have said to me.

        I’m sorry, but I’m not made that way. It angrified my blood mightily. But I have low thermal mass, I heat up and cool down quickly. Now, as I said to Judith, I’m more sad than angry.

        Please consider taking a step back (as opposed to continuing to dig in your heels, as you appear to be doing)!

        And, perhaps, ask yourself: Is berating Judith or (as I note you have done on the post from which she’d captured these excerpts) brow-beating Firestein with a barrage of over the top insults and tirades – on issues about which, for all we know, he may not have a clue – likely to win friends or positively influence people? Let alone persuade them to think they should, well, ask some good questions.

        I am not looking to win friends. I don’t see this as a popularity contest. I’ve been raked over the coals too many times to have that illusion.

        As to whether Firestein has a clue about these issues, I can assure you that he damn well has a clue about these issues now. He may not believe me, but he can see the effect his words have had and he has heard my objections.

        As to whether my outrage is over the top, again I say, if he were telling those kinds of lies about Jewish scientists, it’s possible you might be as outraged as I am. It is unacceptable to uncritically republish those kinds of blatant blanket untruths.

        It is particularly insulting when the opposition, the scientific leaders of the climate alarmist movement, actually have done the things of which the skeptics stand falsely accused.

        Can you think of no other way to lead Firestein to the path of enlightenment?! And if not, may I respectfully ask, why not?

        Hilary, if something that I have done has made a man angry, really angry, if I have wronged that man through my actions, I would greatly prefer that he tell me about it and not mince his words. If I’ve done something wrong I want him to give me chapter and verse, and shout and pound the table if that’s how he feels. That’s the only way I can find out just how upset he really is and exactly what I have done to upset him so.

        On the other hand, if the guy shows up and is all mush-mouthed and polite and kind, rubs my tummy and blows in my ear and says oh, by the bye, old chap, I was actually quite bothered by what you said in your recent billet-doux … in that case I may never, ever understand how angry he really is and the actual size of the wrong that I may have done him.

        As a result, I don’t want to lead Firestein to the path of enlightenment, in your lovely turn of phrase. Or perhaps I do, but I want to enlighten him about just how I feel as the target of his nasty untrue allegations. I want him, and Judith as well, to understand what such offhand ugliness feels like to the people they are attacking.

        And yes, it is likely that my words were hasty and intemperate, and for that I certainly and wholly apologize personally to both Judith and to Firestein. But when you tell lies about people, mean, spiteful lies, well, they tend to get hasty and intemperate …

        In any case, that’s why after i cooled down I restated to Judith my objections in much more measured tones, and said hey, let’s start over.

        Hilary, I am happy that Judith has her blog, it’s great. I support it and link to it from my posts. And while I often disagree with the things she posts for discussion, that’s a large part of the game, and what keeps it interesting. She posts a wide breadth of things to stir up discussion of the issues.

        But you can’t uncritically republish ugly broad-brush unsubstantiated lies about Jewish scientists acting like the tobacco companies under the guise of promoting discussion. I’m sorry, but that’s not on.

        Thanks again for your thoughtful post,

        w.

  31. Willis Eschenbach

    Bill | July 17, 2013 at 10:28 am | Reply

    Seems like most of the posts are off-topic.

    I bought his book, very short with several case studies showing the power of “ignorance” in scientific inquiry. Very interesting. I had thought to use it in a non-majors course but I have only read 1/4 of it and my wife gets sick of it laying around and keeps hiding it on me.

    Sadly, his example with climate is somewhat opposed to everything else he said. Here is willing to trust the “consensus”. Changes of a few words however would make it correct. Such as it is probable that man “can” affect the climate, there are probably several good examples. The effects of CO2 may increase warming but to what extent is still a question. That kind of thing. I think that he might even be persuaded of that by someone who pointed that out to him in a few calm, clear sentencesb. Someone like Judith say. Many of the rest of you might scare the poor man.

    Bill, this is a guy who makes a big claim, the claim that he has some deep understanding of science.

    Then, from out of that deep understanding of science, and the insight that his deep thoughts about uncertainty have given him, he says that the opponents of climate alarmism like myself are just like the tobacco companies, lying and cheating and concealing adverse results.

    To me, that’s a guy WITHOUT a deep understanding of science, or even a shallow understanding of science, and with no understanding of uncertainty at all. If he had those things, he wouldn’t have made those accusations.

    You seem to think those things can coexist, that it’s just some kind of small mistake in this field but overall he has a deeeeeep understanding of uncertainty.

    Me, I think it’s like the old saying about someone, “He’s a nice man, but he’s got a nasty dog.” This saying points out a simple fact—nice men have nice dogs, and if a man has a nasty dog, he may not be a nice man.

    So when Mr. Firestein comes in, and his dog start biting people and accusing them of scientific malfeasance … well, I gotta conclude he’s not a nice man at all.

    w.

    • Willis,

      I like the man/dog assessment. While I can see some exceptions to the rule (the dog being a rescue dog or badly trained as a guard dog) it is rather difficult to believe a truly nice person can have a nasty dog.

      Unless the dog is a Chihuahua. I’m convinced they are innately mean little mothers.

    • willis

      I’d agree with you that Firestein “lost it” when he started the silly tobacco comparison and wrote about climate change.

      Up to that point his essay made sense.

      Was the sensible part just a “lead-in” for the rubbish part?

      That’s up to everyone to decide for themselves.

      Max

  32. Willis Eschenbach

    ozzieostrich | July 17, 2013 at 2:03 pm | Reply

    Willis,

    Steady on there, laddie.

    Are you exhibiting bad form due to ignorance, or just being gratuitously offensive?

    Or maybe you are just uncontrollably narcissistic. I find it difficult to believe you consider your comments to be part of normal etiquette, but I must accept your assurance if this what you believe.

    May I have your permission to adopt a similar approach in relation to responding to any future comments you may care to make?

    Live well and prosper,

    Mike Flynn.

    Certainly you can adopt this approach. Next time I accuse someone, without presenting a scrap of evidence, of being like the tobacco companies, which is the same as accusing them of scientific malfeasance and lying and cheating and hiding evidence, you have my permission to tell me to go to hell in any way you choose.

    And you damn well should, that kind of behavior is not acceptable.

    And it’s doubly not acceptable when the climate activists are doing exactly what he is excoriating me for doing, and he attacks me and not them.

    But you see … I don’t do that kind of thing, so I have nothing to fear. I don’t accuse people of being liars and cheaters unless I have firm evidence in hand.

    w.

    PS—Is this part of “normal etiquette”? Well, when “normal etiquette” includes a dickhead falsely and shamelessly accusing an honest man of being a liar, and said dickhead doesn’t present a shred of evidence to back up his nasty untrue attack … well yes, in that case, where I come from “normal etiquette” would be much worse than what I did.

  33. After introducing the big tobacco variant of Godwin’s law, our guest writer than states: “Parallels with the current debate over the effects of human activity on the world’s climate are obvious’. And herein is the BIG LIE. The parallels are almost non-existent other than in the eye of the beholder,

    The one common theme I see is activist academics and government types aligned themselves to attack a human behavior. Smoking in the tobacco case and consuming (or even existing) in the climate case. After that, the parallel collapses. The tobacco enemy was “big tobacco” and could be easily identified. The climate skeptic “enemy” is the legion of smart people who understand the science and are not easily drawn in by appeals to authority. This “enemy” has nothing to gain by its opposition. That we drive the alarmist crazy may be indicated by the increasing bizarreness of their argument and the vitriol of their attacks,

    The critical “settled science” in the case of the tobacco was the historical data. The critical “settled science” in the climate case is the output of computer models. The historical data, no matter how heavily massaged, just refuses to cooperate.

    • David Springer

      RobertInAz | July 17, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Reply

      “After introducing the big tobacco variant of Godwin’s law,”

      Damn. I should have thought of that line.

      Good one.

    • Kent Draper

      “The historical data, no matter how heavily massaged, just refuses to cooperate.”
      A quote from Kevin Trenberth might be appropriate……
      “it’s a travesty that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment.”
      I always wondered why it was a travesty? That evidence of “catastrophic” global warming couldn’t be accounted for. Why would some one hope for something, anything, that was catastrophic?

  34. Every few days, Professor Curry posts a new essay or excerpt. Immediately, the usual suspects respond. The first few write about the posting. After that, the debate reverts back to the same old, same old, same old, same old, same old argument about whether greenhouse gases warm the atmosphere. The same people make the same arguments, most of which seem foolish to me. There doesn’t seem to be any progress and we are mired in a whirlpool of eddies that keep us locked in the same old debate. In this case, the author said:
    “There is little question that human activity is causing the earth’s atmosphere to warm up and that this will lead to changes in climate patterns. The precise nature of those changes, the level of warming that may be acceptable, and the ability to reverse the changes remain unsettled. There are conflicting models, but none of them suggest that anthropogenic warming is not occurring—only what the results of this warming will be and when precisely they will take effect. ”
    I can’t think of a more innocuous, more accurate, more insightful, more cogent summary of the situation, and yet it has fomented over 100 responses, most of which are either tangential or irrelevant. But this statement itself is so vague, so encompassing and so lacking in specificity that it provides an umbrella for almost any one of any climatological persuasion to seek comfort under. We simply don’t know whether 5% or 95% of warming in the last century was due to greenhouse gases, and we don’t have a clue as to what to expect quantitatively in the next century – only that it certainly will be warmer – how much will only be revealed to my grandchildren. Meanwhile, the repetitive debate continues. Same old, same old, same old, …

    • The curious thing–to me at least–is how paralyzed we have become. The science or what will happen may not be paramount. What the various risks are and what we do about them are paramount and an appropriate time-frame do matter. That is, given all of this uncertainty and given that the time needed for resolution of the science may exceed the time constraining the determination of any viable appropriate actions, the real problem is how to making progress from the perspective of global warming/not warming risk management–not the the science. Such is the nature of decisions to varying degrees.

      Given how we have done so far I am pulling for disaster, any disaster. That’s my judgmental side. Never underestimate the ability of people to destroy themselves.

      • Donald Rapp,

        Excellent comment.

        MW Grant, I agree with your comment except the last paragraph. I think the opposite is the case. There will be no disaster caused by GHG emissions. We will manage the GHG emissions issue appropriately.

        I like your mention of “decisions” which I interpret to be a reference to Decisions Analysis which is a subject you are a highly experienced practioner of if not an expert. I would encourage you to expand on what you mean and how it could be applied to help people support rational policies.

      • Hi Peter,
        Maybe you mis-interpreted the second paragraph. I am being judgemental and merely expressing a preference for disaster, any disaster. You can not disagree with that because you are not privy to my state of mind ;O)

        After a couple of years of observation I sincerely believe that the ‘debate’ is well beyond a rational salvation–even in a ssubcontext providing only one of a number of inputs to the actual decision processes.

        BTW Donald Rapp–well expressed comment, although I might expect a local flap over ‘innocuous’.

    • “The first few write about the posting. After that, the debate reverts back to the same old, same old, same old, same old, same old argument about whether greenhouse gases warm the atmosphere. The same people make the same arguments, ”

      My experience is the first comment frequently veers off topic. This thread was better than most. The most virulent comments related to the outrageous big tobacco analogy. I view the innocuous opening as a rhetorical device to disarm the reader before the writer figuratively slips the knife into the skeptic community.

      In addition to the lousy analogy, the writer mischaracterizes the respective positions by presenting that innocuous description of the science as we know it and continuing as if skeptics opposed it and alarmists embraced it.

      Like I said, a moderately sophisticated hit piece.

  35. Michael Larkin

    Willis, I agree with your assessment of the article, but not of Judith, and if you want to behave half decently, you’ll hold your hand up and apologise to her. Like Mosh said, she published an article to stir up comment, and AW does the same kind of thing on WUWT. You are way, way out of line, and have been embarrassingly rude on this occasion.

  36. curryja writes:

    “IMO Firestein missed a big opportunity to put climate science and the debate over climate change into a more meaningful context about asking questions, etc.”

    Maybe, maybe not. Weighing in on the debate in a serious, credible manner requires a level of knowledge beyond that needed for mau-mauing or kibitzing. This is particular the case when you consider that you need to know greater detail than in the written contribution. If one is an active researcher in another area as well as the chair of a department (Biological Science) at a major university then demands on time may be more than that available. Instead it is the obligation of those in climate science to put their house in order. If Firestein provides some good perspective, insight, and words at a higher level it can be adapted and used to good advantage by those in the climate field. Ultimately climate scientists need to fix their own house.

  37. Matthew R Marler

    I find most of this essay to be exhilarating, but Firestein lost me on his discussion of tobacco and climate change; IMO Firestein missed a big opportunity to put climate science and the debate over climate change into a more meaningful context about asking questions, etc.

    People write about tobacco, but not about the equally informative cases of global human near-extinction (Ehrlich, Holdren et al), limits to growth, aspartame, acrilonitrile, and others. There is a rather rich legacy of scientists being wrong. It’s a shame that, in an essay about ignorance and asking questions, the author concludes that AGW is true, and asks no questions about any of the evidence concerning any of the mechanisms and other claims. Maybe a friend of his can read the essay to him and point that out.

  38. Willis Eschenbach

    curryja | July 18, 2013 at 9:35 am |

    Hey Willis, this blog aint about you.

    Thanks again for your reply, Judith. I know this blog ain’t about me … but then I don’t recall saying it was. I had hoped it was about the truth.

    The feeling is mutual: scientists don’t like your brand of skeptics because they are strident and call scientists liars.

    I am strident, but I don’t call scientists liars. I call liars liars. I do so specifically and by name, and I make damn sure that I have the evidence in hand before I do do. For example, Phil Jones flat out lied to me about his data, Judith. He’s convicted by his own words in the Climategate emails. Phil and the un-indicted co-conspirators may not like that, but it’s the truth. Michael Mann has lied through his teeth, it’s all a matter of public record. Should we ignore that, and pat their tummies and blow in their ears and pretend that’s all OK?

    But I truly don’t understand your logic. You are re-publishing things you know are lies, in the hope that you “provoke a dialog”? And your defense of re-publishing lies about skeptics like myself is that “scientists don’t like my brand of skeptics”, and that I justifiably called Phil Jones a liar because he lied to my face?

    That’s your justification? “Son, we can tell lies about you because we don’t like your brand of skeptics around these parts!”?

    Really? Have you had your first coffee yet? Hey, I won’t hold you to that nonsense if if you hadn’t had your coffee, or you want to change it for any reason either … I wouldn’t leave it like that, though. Doesn’t reflect well.

    So where does that leave us?

    So far, it leaves your blog being a place where people can read uncontested lies about me and the other skeptics, a Orwellian situation where I’m falsely accused of doing what the leading climate alarmists actually did, and me protesting the lies vociferously, and you justifying them.

    Well this is a blog where I post on topics that interest me and that I think will provoke an interesting discussion among the denizens. Any given post is bound to jerk the chain of at least 20% of my audience, which provokes a dialogue that is usually interesting and sometimes illuminating.

    Judith, you may think that it “advances dialog” to republish someone saying (as if it were an obvious and uncontested fact) that I and other skeptics are acting like the tobacco companies, which means that we are liars and cheats who are hiding the scientific evidence for pecuniary or other base motives.

    I asked you before, and you didn’t answer. Is this how you “advance dialog” with your colleagues, by republishing things about them on the web that you know to be hurtful, hateful lies? Is that how you, what was it, “provoke critical thinking and discussion” among your students, by publicly and uncritically posting an accusation that they are cheating and concealing evidence and twisting the science?

    Because that is what you have done here, and if that’s your idea of some post-nomal Socratic method, I gotta tell you … its not working.

    Judith, in response to my pointing out that you are uncritically republishing lies about skeptics like myself, you have lots of possible choices.

    One would be to start by saying “Yes, I know that the tobacco company comparison doesn’t apply to you and the skeptics, and I also know it does apply to the leaders of the climate alarmist movement.” Then you could go on from there.

    Another might be to say “Dang, I guess this experiment in stirring up discussion by republishing a nasty, underhanded personal attack backfired badly”.

    Or you could say “Look, I’ll put a note at the head of the post saying that I disagree about the accusation, and that I don’t think that the skeptics are liars and cheats who conceal the science for base motives like the tobacco companies.”

    And if you wanted to you could add to your note “The Climategate emails did show, however, that the leaders of the climate alarmism movement did act like the tobacco companies”, then you’d be telling the truth even though Mr. Firestein is not.

    Now, I note that you have made no attempt to claim that his lies were true. And that’s a good thing.

    But as a choice of responses, I gotta say that the “tu quoque” argument, that it’s OK for you to republish lies about me because “scientists don’t like [my] brand of skeptics” approaches comedy material for a college sitcom.

    Now, like I said, there’s lots of possible responses to me pointing out that it is offensive in the extreme for you to uncritically republish ugly lies about me. And I said I wouldn’t hold you to that pathetic justification for your actions.

    So … if you want to start over again, that’s OK with me. Let’s put the past behind us. I’ll repeat my objection, in more peaceful tones, and you can respond to it.

    You have uncritically republished a man asserting that it is obvious that I and other skeptics are acting like the tobacco companies. This is a serious accusation of scientific malfeasance, and one which is completely untrue.

    To make things really bizarre, regarding the leaders of the climate alarmist movement, the accusation is actually true—they did act like the tobacco companies.

    Now, many people read your blog, for good reason. In addition to skeptics and global warming supporters and scientists of all stripes, there are lots of newbies and people unaware of the science and the situation who come to your blog to learn about climate science, and rightly so. It’s one of the few blogs I subscribe to, most of them aren’t worth it.

    So when you uncritically republish such accusations, you are publishing lies that many people will not even notice. The sneaky guy you republish slips it in very deftly, as if there were no debate, he cleverly claims it’s “obvious” that skeptics are acting like the tobacco companies … how many of the uninformed will go “wait, what’s obvious about that”?

    The uninformed come here for information because they have little. How would they know it’s a bald-face, backwards accusation that actually applies to the climate alarmists?

    So it’s deceptive, Judith, perhaps unintentionally so as I said a while back when I said “wittingly or not”, but it is very deceptive, extremely impolite, offensive, and most importantly, IT’S A LIE. The skeptics don’t lie and cheat and conceal evidence, no need to, the mainstream climate scientists have that field totally covered.

    You are free to defend that if you wish, on the basis that republishing what you know to be not only a nasty, vicious lie but a reversal of the true situation is justified because it stirs up dialog.

    I say all you are stirring up by republishing lies is hatred, rejection, and more mistrust. How on earth does a lie, and not just a simple lie but a nasty 180° reversal of the actual truth, help to bridge the gap between the two sides?

    As I mentioned upstream, people don’t trust climate scientists because we’ve been repeatedly lied to and lied about … so you’ll have to explain to me how uncritically republishing lies about skeptics on your blog helps that situation.

    Like I said, I’m not holding you to your previous response … would you like to choose a different one, one more in keeping with your avowed goal of restoring trust between the two sides?

    w.

    • Rob Starkey

      Well written- it will be most interesting to read Judith’s reply

    • willis, get over yourself. how can you read this article, and cherry pick a few statements that you don’t like or disagree with and characterize them as personally hurtful or hateful, and then blame me for being hurtful just for posting it?

      People on both sides of the debate need thicker skins (and this goes especially for Mann and Jones). Most skeptics seemed to have developed fairly thick skins but obviously not you. People on both sides need to be open to considering a range of perspectives, and in trying to find some good in an article that they might not overall agree with, and avoid dismissing an entire article because of a few statements that you don’t like.

    • Matthew R Marler

      Professor Curry already wrote: I find most of this essay to be exhilarating, but Firestein lost me on his discussion of tobacco and climate change; IMO Firestein missed a big opportunity to put climate science and the debate over climate change into a more meaningful context about asking questions, etc.

      Do you, Willis, require that she write a diatribe like yours? I find her understated disparagement of Firestein’s analogy more agreeable. She certainly did not “defend” it.

  39. It is difficult to run a blog with postings every few days when our knowledge of climate change requires many decades of new data. Judith does a great job compared to any other blog I am aware of. But maybe all the blogs should shut down until 2023 when we can do a ten year retrospective of whatever smidgens we learned from 2013 to 2023?

  40. Willis Eschenbach

    curryja | July 18, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Reply

    willis, get over yourself. how can you read this article, and cherry pick a few statements that you don’t like or disagree with and characterize them as personally hurtful or hateful, and then blame me for being hurtful just for posting it?

    Judith, get over yourself. The fact that you are a respected and tenured college professor does not give you the right to uncritically publish libelous lies about your opponents under the guise of promoting critical thinking.

    If I republished something that cleverly slipped in an accusation that “obviously” the professors at the University of Georgia were all lying, cheating, and concealing the science for pecuniary gain, I doubt very, very much that you would consider an objection to those lies “cherry picking” …

    I offered you a chance to pick another response to your uncritically republishing blatant lies. I said they were offensive, untrue, sneakily inserted, and a barrier to communication.

    I’m not sure what I expected in response. You had lots of options open to you.

    But I didn’t expect a defense of the lies, nor did I expect a claim that somehow the lies are immaterial.

    You have asked many times, Judith, and in many ways, why the message of the mainstream climate scientists doesn’t get across.

    In part, it’s because of actions like yours. You republish a man who calls your opponents liars and cheats, and who claims that we concealing the data and defrauding the public. That gives you plenty of plausible deniability, you haven’t said these offensive things yourself … you merely republished them. You republish fraudulent accusations that I and others are acting like the tobacco companies … and when I protest that nasty, offensive lie about me and the others, you accuse me of “cherry picking”??!??

    You republish scurrilous lies about me and others, and now I’m the bad guy for pointing that out? How does that work? You college professors must be adept at using some kind of new post-normal logic or something.

    Ah, well, thinking that you were actually part of the forces of decency and communication was a nice illusion while it lasted. But you did well for a while there, I truly had mistaken you for someone interested in furthering the discussion between the two sides.

    But in future, I’m not buying that you are working to increase communication and restore the trust between us. Someone wanting to restore trust and increase communication doesn’t repost slimy lies about their opposition without comment.

    And assuredly, someone wanting to restore trust and increase communication doesn’t accuse the target of those slimy lies of “cherry picking” when they protest being lied about.

    So if that’s your explanation, if that’s how you wish to leave it, then next time you start in on another keen and penetrating article on the need for better communication and more collegiality, next time you’re giving us your insights about why the poor mainstream climate scientists are not getting their message across, and trying unsuccessfully for the Nth time to explain why so much of the public thinks climate scientists are frauds … well, at least people will know enough to point and laugh at your two-faced antics.

    Because at this point, your credibility on the subject of communication and collegiality and trust is vanishing fast, Judith. People who care about communications and about collegiality, people working to restore trust, they don’t uncritically republish lies about their colleagues and their opponents as a means to “provoke critical thinking and discussion”, and they certainly don’t defend publishing those lies when they are pointed out …

    So, if you’d care to try a different response, I’m willing to start over again, once again. At this point I’m not angry. I’m sad. And I’m still working to further communication and trust, so you can have another go at your response if you wish.

    But if that’s your final answer, well … then I don’t know what to say, except that I misjudged you completely, you had me completely fooled.

    w.

    • Willis, you are being hung by your own tortured logic. Check your premises.

      • David Springer

        You may have broken the Guiness ROIW record here with Willis.

        ROIW = Return On Invested Words

      • Willis Eschenbach

        curryja | July 19, 2013 at 4:11 pm | Reply

        Willis, you are being hung by your own tortured logic. Check your premises.

        I would love to, Judith, but I don’t have any idea which part of my logic you think is tortured, and which of my premises you think are wrong. A bit more detail would help immensely, because your last post is just handwaving without substance.

        w.

      • Matthew R Marler

        Willis Eschenbach: I don’t have any idea which part of my logic you think is tortured, and which of my premises you think are wrong.

        I can address your lack of ideas:

        1. for tortured logic, the assertion that something you disagree with is a lie.

        2. for false premises, start with your assertion that Prof. Curry defended a lie.

        That’s a beginning.

    • Heh.

      And I’m still working to further communication and trust,

      Yes, indeed. Because what better way to work on furthering communication and trust than to say:

      …at least people will know enough to point and laugh at your two-faced antics.

      As always, Willis – just spectacular.

    • Matthew R Marler

      Willis Eschenbach: The fact that you are a respected and tenured college professor does not give you the right to uncritically publish libelous lies about your opponents under the guise of promoting critical thinking.

      She did not do that.

      But I didn’t expect a defense of the lies, nor did I expect a claim that somehow the lies are immaterial.

      She did not do that either.

      As far as I can tell from re-reading your posts, you have not identified a “lie”, nor shown that Prof Curry posted anything “uncritically”, nor shown that she defended “lies.” The only apparent lie is the comparison of some “skeptics” to tobacco company defenders; that is a misleading analogy that a lot of people have criticized and others promoted as informative.

      Perhaps, as you prefer in other settings, you could quote exactly what you identify as “lies” (do note your use of plural), and quote exactly where she “defended” them.

    • Matthew R Marler

      Willis Eschenbach, earlier: This comparison, of people objecting to bogus science and the kind of trickery exposed by Climategate on the one hand, to tobacco companies on the other hand, is a pile of reeking crap that has no place on a scientific website.

      Sez you! Your evaluation is not evidence that the writer is a “liar” or the assertion a “lie”.

      So, if you’d care to try a different response, I’m willing to start over again, once again. At this point I’m not angry. I’m sad. And I’m still working to further communication and trust, so you can have another go at your response if you wish.

      Neither sad nor angry, but arrogant and self-righteous. If you have been working to further communication and trust, you must have deleted those posts instead of letting us read them.

  41. Willis Eschenbach

    climatereason | July 18, 2013 at 10:24 am |

    Jim

    There are plenty of people going down the calling scientists liars and fools route, but with little success, as not surprisingly scientists are believed in scientific matters rather than sceptics.

    First, it’s not “scientists versus skeptics”. It’s mainstream scientists vs. skepical scientist, and not surprisingly, not all people believe the scientists you’d like them to believe

    Here’s a discussion of poll results (emphasis mine):

    The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of American Adults shows that 69% say it’s at least somewhat likely that some some climate scientists have falsified research data in order to support their own theories and beliefs, including 40% who say this is Very Likely. Twenty-two percent (22%) don’t think it’s likely some scientists have falsified global warming data, including just six percent (6%) who say it’s Not At All Likely. Another 10% are undecided.

    (To see survey question wording, click here .)

    The number of adults who say it’s likely scientists have falsified data is up 10 points from December 2009 .

    Fifty-seven percent (57%) believe there is significant disagreement within the scientific community on global warming, up five points from late 2009. One in four (25%) believes scientists agree on global warming. Another 18% aren’t sure.

    So I’m sorry, climatereason, but not surprisingly, some climate climate scientists are thought to be frauds, the public is aware of the disagreements, and many people believe skeptical scientists in scientific matters …

    Finally, as I said, I don’t call scientists liars. I call liars liars, and I make damn sure I have hard facts in hand before I do so. Your preferred route, of ignoring liars if they are scientists, is how we got into this trouble, not how to get out of it …

    w.

    • Willis

      Your 8.34pm has taken my comments completely out of context. You have subsequently constructed an extraordinary narrative suggesting I support obfuscation and lies.

      If you would care to read what I actually wrote, you will note that I was saying that climate scientists ARE believed by people (e.g MP’s) and organisations (e.g. The Met Office) who DIRECTLY influence the climate debate. I didn’t say that was right, just stating facts. What the general public believe about climate scientists is therefore unfortunately irrelevant, as they are not the ones setting policy.

      Have you EVER read any of my articles? If so you would realise how insulting, misguided and inaccurate your two comments here are;

      ” It’s mainstream scientists vs. skepical scientist, and not surprisingly, not all people believe the scientists you’d like them to believe.”

      AND

      ‘Your preferred route, of ignoring liars if they are scientists, is how we got into this trouble, not how to get out of it …’

      Willis, Please READ what people write before issuing a succession of increasingly baffling comments that bears no relationship whatsoever to the truth or my position

      You owe an apology to me for your frankly daft, insulting and inaccurate comments above. I would suggest that this also should be extended to Judith as well who spends hundreds of hours behind the scenes in ensuring that sceptics such as myself have a good say on her blog. I would not personally classify her as a ‘sceptic’ in the context we are using the word here, but in the classic sense of someone who questions the positions of both sides and whose certainties are perhaps less than they were for her a few years ago.

      Thank you for your time
      tonyb

    • Once again, Willis takes a sloppy approach to science. He uses a poll to confirm his biases and further his arguments, even though the poll is devoid of meaningful context.

      Do we know how these views about scientists, or even climate scientists, differ from views on dentists? Meter maids? Night crawler salespeople? “Skeptics” such as Willis?

      Do we know what it really means when we read that X % of the public things that it is at least somewhat likely that some climate scientists have falsified research data?

      Do we know how political orientation might be associated with those views?

      Do we know how what % of the public think that it is the likes of Spencer or Lindzen who were “at least somewhat” likely to falsify research data?

      Do we know how those numbers might have changed in the last 1.5 years. Shouldn’t we think that information is important since we know that various factors influence public opinions w/r/t climate change?

      Do we know that it has been pointed out to Willis in the past that his use of this poll data is specious?

      Well, yes, we do know the answer to that last question. But despite that it has been pointed out in the past to Willis that he is using a poll in a sloppy manner so as to invalidly confirm his biases – he continues in the same fashion.

      Do we know why he persists in doing so?

      • Joshua

        You’re the master of motivational dissection so presumably you will provide answers to your own questions.
        tonyb

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  43. Pooh, Dixie

    Overall: Dr. Curry has done us a favor with this post. I appreciate the posts of people with whom I disagree.

    Here is why: It informs me of the breadth and depth of the other arguments and advocates. Forthright arguments should be considered. If correct, one can change his mind. If not, one is forearmed when they come up again. However, once the opposition resorts to deprecation (or even slander), their argument can be discounted; it is weak.

    This is analogous to the role of the military intelligence officer (S2). It is not the S2’s job to divine what the adversary will do. The S2’s job is to figure out what the adversary is capable of doing.

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  45. “JC comment: I find most of this essay to be exhilarating, but Firestein lost me on his discussion of tobacco and climate change;”

    That decisively makes it clear that you are not “trying to peddle” or are in support of this matter then.

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