On confusing expertise and objectivity

by Judith Curry

Having great intelligence or specialized knowledge isn’t assurance against a person remaining unbiased in their public opinions.

I’ve been collecting material on this topic for several months, Tamsin’s essay has motivated me to actually write a post.   I’ve written previous posts on the topic of politics of expertise, mostly in the context of anecdotal examples.  The issue of objectivity in context of expertise used in public policy debates raises  profound ethical and epistemic issues and responsibilities. Here are some perspectives on expertise and objectivity.

Intellectual Conservative

Intellectual Conservative blog has an interesting post Philosophical Aspects of the Climate Change Controversy.  Excerpts

Few of us have the specialized knowledge necessary to make absolute pronouncements on [global warming/climate change concerns], yet all of us have a right, or even an obligation, to philosophically cross-examine the arguments presented for rational consistency.

We should realize that evidence never exists in a vacuum. All evidence requires interpretation, and all too often the interpretation of evidence is influenced by pre-existing ideology, not ruthless objectivity.

A second observation is what I call “the fallacy of appealing to expertise.” Let’s develop this point. It goes something like this: A consensus of credentialed scientists nearly all believe a certain thing, therefore it is true. This reasoning assumes that someone must be objective in the same proportion that they are an expert, or said another way, an expert can never be biased or affected by groupthink.

Suppose you go in for a dental examination with a new dentist, and while examining your mouth, your dentist says “have you considered taking out a loan?” Now are you dealing with a oral hygiene expert speaking objectively, or a businessperson speaking out of self-interest? You have to use your own judgment to discern the difference. In that case you have no difficulty seeing how bias can work contrary to knowledge. The appeal to expertise is not as strong an argument as it would appear to be, because specialized knowledge is not necessarily tantamount to pure objectivity.

Or take an example from our legal system. In a court case both the defense and prosecution may provide testimony from expert witnesses. But the opinions of equally qualified people are often in diametric opposition. What accounts for this? As a juror you must discern who is best at offering the more plausible explanation, though you are not an specialized expert on the topic in question.

So what am I saying? Are all these experts liars? Of course not. I am saying that I doubt every expert comes to their own conclusions independently from scratch, and that reputations and careers are sometimes of primary consideration when such persons publicly take a position.

In general, people confuse two concepts: expertise and objectivity. Having great intelligence or specialized knowledge isn’t assurance against a person remaining unbiased in their public opinions. Persons of all stripes are generally loyal to their source of income. We shouldn’t assume that every expert begins their search tabula rasa, that is to say, without an agenda or wholly independent of prevailing consensus.That is why appeals to credentials or expertise are never as conclusive as they ought to be.

Objectivity vs ‘Objectivity’

Nate Silver’s recent transition from the NYTimes to ESPN sparked an interesting piece at fair.org, here is the relevant text:

This is what I like to describe as the difference between objectivity and “objectivity.” Objectivity is the belief that there is a real world out there that’s more or less knowable; the “objectivity” that journalists practice holds that it’s impossible to know what’s real, so all you can do is report the claims made by various (powerful) people. The chief benefit of “objectivity” is that it means you will never have to tell any powerful person that they’re wrong about anything.

If someone comes along and tells you that, no, there are ways to figure out what’s actually happening with the world, and simply repeating without question what interested parties claim to be happening is not a very helpful approach, that’s going to be, as Sullivan put it, “disruptive.” That’s what I think she’s really getting at when she says, “I don’t think Nate Silver ever really fit into the Times culture and I think he was aware of that.”

Hotwhopper

A reaction to Tamsin’s post from hotwhopper that makes an important point:

Although it may be true (or not) that [Tamsin] doesn’t have the knowledge or experience, it doesn’t follow that other scientists don’t have it.

People who develop policy don’t have answers, they have questions first and foremost.  They weave answers from others into solutions.  Their expertise is rarely at the technical level.  It’s in policy formulation itself.  Policy developers and advisers turn to the technical experts for advice.  Those technical experts will work in science, economics, finance, human services and other arenas.  There are no sharp lines dividing technical experts from each other or dividing the technical experts from the policy developers and advisers.  Some scientists will end up in policy development roles.  They won’t suddenly jump from working in a laboratory to working in the west wing or a Minister’s office or on the executive floor.  They will be drawn into the role gradually.  For example, they may be tapped on the shoulder to sit on a committee or two.  They may be invited to take a short term assignment in a research advisory role or a management role.

In the same way, these people who will help shape the future will not suddenly find their ideas fully formed as they venture into these roles.  It doesn’t happen like that – or if it does it’s rare and I’d say it’s not a good thing when it does, being more likely some ideological driver rather than new skills learnt or a gradual appreciation of the subtleties of policy development and the myriad implications of broad-ranging policy alternatives.

Common cognitive biases

You are probably familiar with these, but I flagged an interesting blog post at io9 entitled The most common cognitive biases that prevent you from being rational. The article is well worth reading.    Excerpts:

Before we start, it’s important to distinguish between cognitive biases and logical fallacies. A logical fallacy is an error in logical argumentation (e.g. ad hominem attacks, slippery slopes, circular arguments, appeal to force, etc.). A cognitive bias, on the other hand, is a genuine deficiency or limitation in our thinking — a flaw in judgment that arises from errors of memory, social attribution, and miscalculations (such as statistical errors or a false sense of probability).

Some social psychologists believe our cognitive biases help us process information more efficiently, especially in dangerous situations. Still, they lead us to make grave mistakes. We may be prone to such errors in judgment, but at least we can be aware of them.

The post describes:

  • Confirmation Bias
  • Ingroup Bias
  • Post-Purchase Rationalization
  • Neglecting Probability
  • Gambler’s fallacy
  • Observational Selection Bias
  • Status Quo Bias
  • Negativity Bias
  • Bandwagon Bias
  • Projection Bias
  • Current Moment Bias

One that I hadn’t seen described before is Ingroup bias, a neurological explanation for tribalism:

Somewhat similar to the confirmation bias is the ingroup bias, a manifestation of our innate tribalistic tendencies. And strangely, much of this effect may have to do with oxytocin — the so-called “love molecule.” This neurotransmitter, while helping us to forge tighter bonds with people in our ingroup, performs the exact opposite function for those on the outside — it makes us suspicious, fearful, and even disdainful of others. Ultimately, the ingroup bias causes us to overestimate the abilities and value of our immediate group at the expense of people we don’t really know.

JC message to Joshua:  I can already anticipate your comments on this.  There is a  clearly defined ‘tribe’ associated with the IPCC and its supporters. The other side is extremely diverse, including skeptical academics who don’t have a high opinion of each other, data libertarians from the open knowledge movement, people interested in accountability of publicly relevant science, and yes those who are politically motivated by allegiance to fossil fuels.  Hence I argue that the tribalism issue is asymmetrical on the two sides of the debate.

JC comments:

Scientists play an important role in many public debates.  While advocacy by scientists is appropriate when pretty much everyone agrees on the problem and the solution (e.g. tornado warnings),  it is much less appropriate for wicked problems where there is substantial disagreement about the problem and/or solution and there is heavy reliance on expert judgment rather than on more objective and well-quantified analyses.  Trust in the experts then becomes a paramount issue, and political advocacy is a sure path towards public distrust of the experts.

The climate science-policy interface is a particularly difficult one to navigate, owing to the complexity of the science and its uncertainties,  the complex socioeconomic impacts of climate variability and change, and the high cost and potential unintended consequences associated with proposed policies.  I became interested in this issue circa 1999, and I am actively trying to learn more about the policy process and issues at the science-policy interface.  I have found the dialogue at Climate Etc. to be particularly helpful in this regard in developing understanding about bridging the science-policy gap.

Stealth advocacy is one thing; I argue here that inadvertent advocacy is something different that is heavily influenced by cognitive biases. We are all subject to cognitive biases, even scientists in the field of their science.  As scientists, we need to be aware of these biases and actively fight against them.  Instead, in the climate debate  I see far too much effort in the guise of ‘communication’  that attempts to pander to the cognitive biases of the public.

If I can be forgiven for generalizing a bit, it seems that the cognitive biases are asymmetrical among vocal proponents on the two sides of the debate:

  • ‘warm’:  ingroup bias, post-purchase rationalization, negativity bias, bandwagon effect, projection bias
  • ‘cool’: status quo bias, current moment bias (this group is so diverse, hence less easily characterized).

Both sides seem subject to observational selection bias and confirmation bias.  Each of us as individual scientists needs to continually challenge our own objectivity and and be on the lookout for cognitive biases.

The ‘bias’ in the climate debate is often ascribed to political motivation, but there are a host of other cognitive biases that come into play.  As pointed out by the Conservative Intellectual, reputations and careers are sometimes of primary consideration when such persons publicly take a position.

Finally, I would like to pick up on the issue raised by hotwhopper, about scientists being gradually drawn into the policy role, and taking time to fully form their ideas.  This introduces the ‘age’ issue into the science-policy process, something that was alluded to in the Tamsin’s twitosphere discussion.  Being effective at the science-policy interface requires experience and perspective that only comes with experience which implies seniority.

Leadership roles in the IPCC (as lead or coordinating lead authors) requires experience and perspective at the science-policy interface.  Assigning lead authors before the ink is dry on their PhD thesis (e.g. Mann) or as a coordinating lead author within 5 years of a Ph.D. (e.g. Santer)  seems  ill-advised to me.

And finally, climate scientists need to become more effective at the climate science-policy interface, and I do not mean effective at advocacy.  On the Tamsin thread, I quoted David Westcott as saying “advocacy” from many climate scientists has just plain sucked.  It seems extremely naive to me to have expected a ‘speaking consensus to power’ approach to have been effective at implementing a costly international energy policy.  There is no easy recipe to follow, since climate change is arguably the mother of all wicked messes.

But recognition of these challenges, and working to understand and eliminate our own biases, would be be a good starting point.

169 responses to “On confusing expertise and objectivity

  1. Many academics think that, just because they’re smarter and more knowledgeable than most, their hunches (outside their narrow area of expertise) are better than the hunches of other people; and a fair number also thinks that they are morally superior to other people.

    • Many have developed also the belief that their own field of expertise is of particular importance even when other fields have also some relevance on the final outcome. (Scientists are, however, such a diverse bunch that there are others who have the opposite bias.)

    • Pekka demonstrates his bias with this c omment:

      (Scientists are, however, such a diverse bunch that there are others who have the opposite bias.)

      Of course, that comment applies to all disciplines.

      I suspect Pekka’s comment is a demonstration of:

      Confirmation Bias
      Ingroup Bias
      Observational Selection Bias
      Projection Bias

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Peter,

      This is a comment that is utterly unworthy. A smartarse snark for the sake of being a smartarse – at some playground level at that.

      If you can’t give respect where it is due – or can’t tell the difference – I have some other suggestions for you. Let me know.

    • Pekka,

      A clarification? When you said “have opposite bias” are you saying that the computer scientists (for example) think that their field is of particular importance for the problem, but another scientist, say a geologist, may have the same belief but about their own field?

      So, not opposite, but maybe an “opposing bias” toward their own field? So, it would be the same type of bias but in a different field? Not trying to nitpick, just want to be clear.

    • No,

      I meant that some scientists belittle the practical value of expertise in their own field, if not permanently then at least based on the current level of understanding. They may think so, while others disagree and may perhaps prove soon that the field had, indeed, practical significance.

    • John Carpenter

      I’m not sure this (arrogance is what you describe) is exclusively an academic problem either. Most anyone who has achieved success within a given profession can fall into this type of thinking. Not sure about the morally superior aspect though, that seems to me to be a variable influenced by many other potential factors aside from one just thinking they are smarter or more knowledgeable. Factors such as religious beliefs, childhood upbringing and life experiences I would think have to be considered. But arrogance certainly can drive a person to behave in that manner.

    • John, the morally superior isn’t universal but it does apply to some of the more vocal “advocates” more likely due to a lack of proper upbringing and sheltered life experiences. Which is a problem. The scientists that really need to be heard are the ones that are quietly working.

      “Climate scientists have attributed changes in the westerlies over the past 50 years to the warming from higher CO2. The changes predicted by climate models in response to higher CO2 are fairly small, however, and tend to be symmetric with respect to the equator. The observed changes have been quite asymmetric, with much larger changes in the Southern Hemisphere than in the north (3). The results of Anderson et al. (7) suggest that in the past, the westerlies shifted asymmetrically toward the south in response to a flatter temperature contrast between the hemispheres. The magnitude of the shift seems to have been very large. If there was a response to higher CO2 back then, it paled in comparison. Changes in the north-south temperature contrast today are not going to be as large as they were at the end of the last ice age, but even small changes could be an additional source of modern climate variability.”

      That is by J.R. Toggweiler in his Shifting Westerlies paper Science magazine ( http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/bibliography/related_files/jrt0901.pdf ). I don’t think he is part of the Team and I haven’t heard of him being invited to Washington or in climategate or much in the news, but he seems to have a better clue than the more vocal.of his “peers”.

    • Heh.

      Many academics think that, just because they’re smarter and more knowledgeable than most, their hunches (outside their narrow area of expertise) are better than the hunches of other people

      Obviously Richard is not a regular reader of Climate Etc. if he thinks that arrogance is somehow disproportionately characteristic of academics. That is, unless Springer, Eschenbach, Chief, mosher, etc., etc. are lying about not being academics.

      And I love the “many academics” line of argumentation. This is from a scientist, mind you. An opinion based on a careful analysis of validated data, or a projection of opinion into a statement of fact with no acknowledgement of uncertainty whatsoever?

      You make the call.

    • Cap’n -

      John, the morally superior isn’t universal but it does apply to some of the more vocal “advocates” more likely due to a lack of proper upbringing and sheltered life experiences. Which is a problem.

      An interesting observation when we consider the moral superiority expressed here, on a daily basis, multiple times in thread after thread, but the likes of GaryM, Chief, David Young, Springer, manacker, Latimer, Willis, Wags (where’s he been lately, I miss that guy), Peter Lang, etc.

      On what basis do you determine that their sense of moral superiority is due to a lack of “proper upbringing and sheltered life experiences?”

    • Joshua, most of the ones you mentioned are more egotistical, not morally superior. They really would not care where you went to school, what your faith might be, whether you are a vegetarian etc. they are results oriented kinda guys. There is a difference between being a smart ass and a morally superior asswhole (wonder if that gets past moderation?)

    • Chief Hydrologist

      What basis do you have in carefully validated data – Dallas – for calling Joshua a morally superior asswhole (sic)?

    • Chief, Joshua is not a morally superior asswhole (MSA), he is just a bacon loving smart ass.

    • Joshua, most of the ones you mentioned are more egotistical, not morally superior.

      I disagree. The often denigrate the moral character of those whose political beliefs they are in disagreement with. It is clear that they are moral elitists.

      They really would not care where you went to school, what your faith might be, whether you are a vegetarian etc…..

      Perhaps not – but they regularly, all, pontificate on the moral inferiority of hundreds of millions of people – based merely on political identification.

      There is a difference between being a smart ass and a morally superior asswhole

      Well, of course, but those character traits are certainly not mutually exclusive – as Chief proves multiple times in practically every thread.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      I haven’t pontificated about the moral decrepitude of the pissant progressive for the longest time. There are essentially two tribes of people. One stalwart, direct of gaze, strong of limb, an active and questing intelligence, heirs to the Scottish Enlightenment traditions of freedom, democracy and the rule of law. The other grey skinned, twisted and mean spirited, slow witted, lacking humour and empathy, interested only in accruing power over other people. A bit like the Eloi and the Morlocks.

      There is a war between the tribes that has been going on for more than 100 years. Joshua is upset that I deny that there is any moral equivalence here. On our side there is there is the prospect for a bright, free and prosperous future. On the other blight, death and humanity gnawing on it’s own entrails. Ask yourself – which side is morally superior and which merely wears self righteousness without substance on it’s sleeve?

    • Latimer Alder

      They’d be very surprised and hurt to know that the outside world doesn’t necessarily share their high opinion of themselves.

      And some might argue that academics can be people who find reality too much to cope with and withdraw to a cosy cocoon with defined rules and an understandable hierarchical structure. Other examples; military, church, prisons……

    • …blogs? ;oP

    • Chief @12.37am,

      Agree re the long war between parliamentary democracy and
      centralist control. A battle of:

      Socratic values versus Plato – great – man – syndrome..

      Open society versus closed society.

      Scientific method versus shamenism.

      Hayek limits to arbitrary guvuhmint versus Stalinist totalatarian rule.

      Free trade versus socialist economics.

      Globalism versus seige mentality.

      Jokes re the human condishun versus ‘APCALYPSE NOW”
      (if not, then termorrer.)

      Jest a serf.

    • I am an academic, work with academics and your characterization is pretty much spot on.
      I know biophysicists who wear slip-on’s as laces are too complicated.
      Niche thinking is also common. I try to have one day a month where I read about developments in other fields.
      Some people never follow other disciplines nor ever move disciplines.
      You should know the tools of your trade, so if you analyse tree rings you should know about trees, if you want to understand the uptake of carbon by the ocean then you need to understand marine biology and ecology, not physics and inorganic chemistry, if you write computer programs then you need to understand software engineering and finally, if you are going to use statistics to examine non-normal datasets, you need to be a statistician.

    • Spot on, Doc.
      Blinders are very common in academia both in scientific fields and the humanities,.

    • Richard Tol,

      Excellent comment. Thank you. You invariably display characteristics that suggest you are as objective as is possible in a sea of groupthink.

    • Richard, anyone who takes fulll credit or blame for his talents or defects in any area – academics, arts, math, music, sports, etc. – is probably blinded by self will.

      “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”

  2. Paradoxically every time a scientific expert talks in absolutes we should lock up the man or woman, before their expertise unbridled by any doubt will lock us in a double hell, suffering for a Higher Purpose.

    All socially relevant scientific fields run the same risk: http://omnologos.com/the-double-hell-of-science-led-policy/

  3. (forgot “notify”)

  4. Having great intelligence or specialized knowledge isn’t assurance against a person remaining unbiased in their public opinions.

    Nor is it an assurance of a knowledge ready to make predictions. There are two problems, not only one. Bias, and knowledge. The first is more or less subjective, and difficult to check or agree. The second, not so much.

  5. Judith, you write “The climate science-policy interface is a particularly difficult one to navigate, owing to the complexity of the science and its uncertainties.”

    I beg to differ; the science is very straightforward. CAGW always was, still is, and always will be a hypothesis, since it is impossible to do controlled experiments on the earth’s atmopshere. This means that science, physics, can never answer the quetion as to what happens to global temperatures as you add more CO2 to the atmosphere from current levels. But warmists, such as youreslf, refuse to acknowledge this simple truth. We are doing an uncontrolled experiment of adding CO2 to the atmopshere, so maybe we will find out what happens

    • I must agree with Jim, compared with something like understanding neuronal function, climate science is a doddle.
      I am getting a bit fed up of it being described as so very difficult and at the same time claiming they can see 100 years into the future.

    • k scott denison

      A good observation in my opinion. I can’t think of another area of science where there is so much confidence about something we haven’t and cannot run controlled experiments on. Even in medicine, an attempt is made to use real experimentation on animal models, to do double-blinded studies of drugs, etc.

      In ‘climate science’ I see none of this. No attempts to conduct even rudimentary experiments based on real, direct observations. Seems the field would rather play with mathematical models and proxies. Just don’t see how this justifies the certainty.

    • Many people here think skepticism about climate science is unique. The amount of skepticism about animal models in drug testing is at least on par with that of climate models, and our labs need high level security, which climate science labs wouldn’t need, if they had labs and not offices.

    • John Carpenter

      Jim, it’s an inertia problem, that’s part of the problem of waiting to see what happens. You are certain there is no problem without any skepticism about that position. The current theory of radiative heat transfer is probably not wrong. it comes down to sensitivity of the climate to CO2 concentration of which you say looks like zero. Again, it’s an inertia problem. Most certainly future generations will know how it all turns out.

    • John Carpenter, you write “You are certain there is no problem without any skepticism about that position.”

      You are putting words into my mouth that I did not say. I am not certain that there is no problem. I have reiterated over and over again that CAGW is a very viable hypothesis. What I am saying is that is all CAGW ever can be. You cannot use science, physics, to prove that CAGW is anything other than a hypothesis.

      You are adding in what I have written in the past; that I think what little empirical data we have strongly suggests that the climate sensitivity of CO2 is indistinguishable from zero. That is a different discussion.

      Do you agree that science, physics, cannot tell us what happens to global temperatures as you add more CO2 to the atmopshere from current levels? That is the issue I am trying to address, and where I disagree with what out hostess wrote. And if you dont agree, why dont you agree?

      As a postscript, I think the science that the IPCC has presented could be right. What I object to is the warmists claiming that there is a high probability that this science is right

    • John Carpenter

      “You are putting words into my mouth that I did not say. I am not certain that there is no problem. I have reiterated over and over again that CAGW is a very viable hypothesis. What I am saying is that is all CAGW ever can be. You cannot use science, physics, to prove that CAGW is anything other than a hypothesis.”

      Well, I get the impression from a lot of what you say that there is no need to consider mitigation strategies because models and the physics used in them don’t agree with current observations. You use the term CAGW as if it is a measureable entity, yet it is not measureable… It’s not even defined as a term. So of course you cannot use physics to prove it as anything. Physics is used to describe theory which in turn is used to measure things we observe. How do you measure catastrophe? One persons idea of catastrophe could be another persons idea of a misfortune. How do you make a measured differentiation between catastrophe and misfortune? Yet we would not consider the two as necessarily the same thing. Physics cannot help us here. What we can be certain of is this. In the coming generations, observations will continue to be recorded and compared to theory of the GHE. If our planetary climates are more sensitive to increased CO2 concentration, in due time, if the current theories are more correct than not, higher temperatures will occur. In some places this could be catastrophic to the way local populations live. But it is a slow moving event that will take lots of time. So, the physics may not prove CAGW, but it may be able to accurately describe why temperatures went up which may cause problems in some locations around the planet. Or..Future observations may not agree with the current theory at all, or very little. In that case, the current theory will be refined to try and bring it in line with observation and catastrophes due to increased temperatures will be less likely.

      Personally, I do not think the climate is as sensitive to CO2 concentration to warrant alarm and the need to take aggressive mitigation strategies, however, I am not so certain CS is so low that we don’t need to be paying attention to a potential problem now. For reasons other than just AGW, I think we need to adopt better long term energy strategies and if those strategies were to reduce or eliminate CO2 output, then all the better. Like I said before, it’s an inertia problem and we can’t be sure the train is moving faster now or not.

    • John Carpenter, you write “Personally, I do not think the climate is as sensitive to CO2 concentration to warrant alarm”

      Thank you for the long response. But you have not answered my question, which is at the center of my original idea.

      “Do you agree that science, physics, cannot tell us what happens to global temperatures as you add more CO2 to the atmopshere from current levels?”

      That is the issue. What you and I think is irrelevant. What matters is what the science, the physics, can actually tell us about what happens to global temperatures as we add more and more CO2 to the atmosphere from current levels. Hence I am looking for an answer to the question.

    • John Carpenter

      “Do you agree that science, physics, cannot tell us what happens to global temperatures as you add more CO2 to the atmopshere from current levels?”

      No Jim, I think it can and will over time. Perhaps not exactly, but with the correct trends. It will improve.

    • John, You write “No Jim, I think it can and will over time.”

      That implies that you believe that science has not yet proven that CAGW is any more that a hypothesis. Have I interpreted you correctly?

    • John Carpenter

      Jim, I think it is in a grey area. We have observed warming over a period where CO2 concentrations have dramatically increased. So is it coincidental or is there true correlation or is something in between? I don’t think that part of the science is settled to the degree many believe and I don’t think we can confidently say CO2 concentrations have zero effect. To me this is the crux of the current debate, uncertainty reins on both sides, however the warm side has dominated the scientific literature and has a leg up on the skeptical side wrt to explaining and predicting what has happened and where we may be headed.

    • John, you write “Jim, I think it is in a grey area.”

      With all due repect, John, how can it possibly be a grey area? Either the science, physics, presented by the IPCC and the warmists has shown that CAGW is more than a hypothesis, or it hasn’t. Either the information presented shows that CAGW is actually occurring, or the infornation is insufficient to do so. Science, physics, in this sort of case, cannot be a grey area, so far as I understand what physics means.

    • John Carpenter

      Jim, again you are using catastrophic as though it is a metric that can be measured using physics. It can’t. We went through that already with no apparent disagreement from you. Are you of the belief that we either completely understand everything or we don’t understand anything about the climate? Attention Michael, binary thinking alert. That is where the grey area is. Please refrain from using the term ‘catastrophic’ as a measurable in the future as both you and I know we can’t measure an entity as CAGW which has never been defined. If you know the IPCC definition of CAGW, please provide that link for me.

    • John, you write “Please refrain from using the term ‘catastrophic’ as a measurable in the future as both you and I know we can’t measure an entity as CAGW”

      Fair enough. However, this leads to a semantic problem. I believe AGW is real; I just think the effect is negligible. So we cannot use the term AGW, since we both agree it is real. What term would you suggest I use to explain the idea that AGW is real, but it will not cause huge increases in global temperatures?

    • John Carpenter

      “I believe AGW is real; I just think the effect is negligible. So we cannot use the term AGW, since we both agree it is real.”

      I don’t follow you here Jim, what do you mean by this.

    • John, you write “I don’t follow you here Jim, what do you mean by this.”

      You object to the term CAGW, which, to me, means what I am trying to say. Anthropogenic global warming which causes catastrophically high temperatures. I am asking you to provide a term that is acceptable to you which describes this meaning.

    • John Carpenter

      Jim, I do not see AGW as being equal to what you refer to CAGW. AGW merely indicates that humans are influencing the warming with our activities. I believe this to be the case, but it does not mean we are heading for catastrophe. You say AGW is real yourself, so I don’t see where we disagree about that point and why we would need a different term. If we disagree about the amount of influence or how big is the A in AGW, then we should talk in terms of sensitivity. Somehow I know you will have a problem with this.

    • Sorry, John. I will continue to call it CAGW.

    • The experiment is ongoing, and the results are coming in as we speak. So far, the early results look like this (30-year running mean climate), but we need to run it longer to make sure, I guess.
      http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut4gl/to:2010/mean:360

    • You mean that the lineshape’s from 1900 and from 1960 are almost completely identical, even though the rates of [CO2] rise were quite different? Its almost as if there is some sort of sixty year warming/cooling cycle here.

    • Jim, you might want to plot the graph on the Kelvin scale to more accurately show the magnitude of the energy differences in play.

    • DocM, while the increasing solar irradiance from its last lull around 1910 might have something to do with the first rise (or you might deny that too), the last half of the century has not seen a solar increase, and possible a slight drop. This is why the experiment needs to run longer according to some. The Arctic sea-ice decline on top of this isn’t convincing enough, apparently, so I won’t even mention that.


    • logicalchemist | August 1, 2013 at 10:44 pm

      Jim, you might want to plot the graph on the Kelvin scale to more accurately show the magnitude of the energy differences in play.

      JimD, I think the LogicalChemist wants us to plot data like this:
      http://img607.imageshack.us/img607/8149/m9n.gif

      This is a plot of the temperature taken of two human patients on the absolute Kelvin scale. Since LogicalChemist is an objective expert, he should tell us what to do with Patient A and what to do with Patient B.

      Others can chime in, the 3% in particular.

    • Jim D,

      That is a very cool graph. I will be using it to point out why I am skeptical that CO2 is causing all the warming of the 2nd steep portion of the graph.

      Even the little dip after the flat region is there in both cases. How did you smooth this? (Or is that shown on the page w/ graph if I scroll to right?).
      Be interesting to see if that little dip shows up again in a few years.

    • David Springer

      It’s not an experiment, Jim. An experiment is a test under controlled conditions. The controlled conditions are such that variables of interest are isolated. We have no controls on the earth’s climate. The variables of interest are not isolated.

    • David Springer. +1000

    • “JIm: it is impossible to do controlled experiments on the earth’s atmopsher”

      I disagree. With today’s lasers and mixtures of gases in an enclosed space any experimrnts are poaaible on attenuations at any IR frequencies to simulate any condition of the real atmosphere. But don’t expect the IPCC to do that – as I have often said, they were not set up as a scientific esearch organisation

    • Sorry Jim D: it was the other JIm – Jim Cripwell that this was intended for.

    • Alexander, you write “With today’s lasers and mixtures of gases in an enclosed space any experimrnts are poaaible on attenuations at any IR frequencies to simulate any condition of the real atmosphere. ”

      I agree. But what you cannot do is a controlled experiment that neasures what happens to global temperatures as a result of adding CO2 to the atmosphere.

  6. “working to understand and eliminate our own biases, would be be a good starting point.” When do you plan to start?

  7. > JC message to Joshua: I can already anticipate your comments on this.

    That made me laughed out loud, Judy.

    Thank you.

    PS: I’m still giggling.

  8. Judith Curry,

    ” It seems extremely naive to me to have expected a ‘speaking consensus to power’ approach to have been effective at implementing a costly international energy policy.”

    To me, the whole CAGW paradigm is not about an energy policy. If it were, the discussion and discussants would have found another path. Rather, your point regarding having an agenda and ideology if it were, that remains hidden as, if it were articulated explicitly, would unmask the “real” intent.

    I see climate change wars as a surrogate for the struggles of a world view: top down vs bottom up. Hence, some of the peculiar participants, and the seeming off key soprano vocalizations.

    Making sense of any one part I think requires a context of competing world views with climate change as the foil. Science in this case takes a back seat as evident in the non scientific behavior of some in leadership roles.

    My onion of course.

  9. “Leadership roles in the IPCC (as lead or coordinating lead authors) requires experience and perspective at the science-policy interface. Assigning lead authors before the ink is dry on their PhD thesis (e.g. Mann) or as a coordinating lead author within 5 years of a Ph.D. (e.g. Santer) seems extremely ill-advised to me.” – JC

    Judith stil has a chip on her shoulder about this (“a certain young PhD” – LOL!).

    Judith the links you’ve posted say nothing about this (except in support) – you’re making out that the IPCC is a policy document.

    It’s purely information (at least the aspects thta the evil Santer and Mann were authors on) and so no more policy related than the individual providing information.

    • John Carpenter

      “It’s purely information (at least the aspects thta the evil Santer and Mann were authors on) and so no more policy related than the individual providing information.”

      Naive thinking at best. Yes, it is purely information… that will be used to inform policy…. you forgot that second part. Do you think that second part is not considered by the authors? Or do you really think its all done completely neutral, no bias at all? Remember, scientists are humans that have feelings and emotions that might get in the way sometimes. I mean, we don’t see any defensive behavior in the emails do we? Yep, no bias at all.

    • “Naive thinking at best. Yes, it is purely information… that will be used to inform policy…. you forgot that second part” – JC

      No thinking.
      Journal articles can be pure information, but be read by someone formulating policy – has the scientist suddenly committed ‘advocacy”??

    • John Carpenter

      “Journal articles can be pure information, ”

      Heh, of course they can be pure information, what written article isn’t? I assume you meant pure scientific information. In that case, yes some are. But some also include statements like… ” because of this, CO2 needs to be reduced immediately” or something along those lines. In that case, yes, the scientist is committing advocacy. Have you never seen that in all the reading you have done?

    • Michael, the Santer incident and the formulation of the policy section first with the science dove tailed to match, both events a matter of public record, indicate that your statement of informational only wrt IPCC is incorrect. The I for Intergovernmental should clue persons that indeed, policy and politics are intrinsic to the Process. If in doubt, read the discussion of IPCC’s Rule 10 that can be found on the internet at different blogs.

    • This particular incident and the politicization of the IPCC was covered in the Madrid posts by Bernie Lewin:
      http://enthusiasmscepticismscience.wordpress.com/2012/04/21/madrid-1995-was-this-the-tipping-point-in-the-corruption-of-climate-science/

    • Quite a silly article.

      The skpetical delusions about Santer and Madrid rest primarily on the rantings of a couple of hyper-politicised old PR shills (Setiz and Singer).

    • John Carpenter

      That’s right Michael, just wave it away as if it doesn’t exist. Close your eyes a little tighter. Go into denial mode.

    • JC,

      Fuuny that you don’t find it even a little ironic that Judith talks about the ‘politicization’ of the IPCC and points an example that is based on little more than a hyper-political attack by one of the most discredited old anti-science PR spin-merchants imaginable.

    • Delusion bias.

    • Bias bias. I win.

      “No”, says someone behind me.

      (Round-kick sounds.)

      “Chuck Norris bias”.

  10. “Although it may be true (or not) that [Tamsin] doesn’t have the knowledge or experience, it doesn’t follow that other scientists don’t have it.”

    So how does one know when he/she [or someone else] has the requisite knowledge and experience in a given policy context? Do we have some certified clairvoyants among us? hotwhopper’s perspective has its own limitation.

  11. Judith -

    There is a clearly defined ‘tribe’ associated with the IPCC and its supporters. … Hence I argue that the tribalism issue is asymmetrical on the two sides of the debate.

    Differences do not an asymmetry make.

    To start – I have never argued that “skeptic” are monolithic – although I will note that often, “skeptics” argue that they aren’t monolithic out of one side of their mouth even as they argue that essentially uniform (don’t doubt the GHE, don’t underestimate uncertainty, aren’t political advocates, etc.).

    Sure – the tribalism among the IPCC and “skeptics” has some different qualities. It would be hard to argue that the “in-group” bias would be as applicable to “skeptics” as it would be to the IPCC. In that regard, while I’d probably quibble about the magnitude of the assymetry, the difference in a clearly defined group identity would clearly manifest asymmetrically.

    Tribalism is a product pf one’s identifications that extend deeper than an identification as a “realist” or a “skeptic.” For example, identification as a libertarian, or a progressive, obviously largely predict whether people identify as “realist” or a “skeptic” within the climate debate. Their tribal identity is foundational, and their tribalism includes their positioning in the climate debate, but certainly is far from limited to that as a marker.

    And likewise, it would hard to argue that those other biases would be proportionally greater in extent for “realists” as it would be for “skeptics.” For example, confirmation bias is basically an human attribute. It affects us all and functions primarily at an individual level. And without a careful examination of all those other cognitive biases listed – I wouldn’t doubt that we’d find some that might be proportionately “asymmetrical” amongst “skeptics.”

    • k scott denison

      Judith: “Hence I argue that the tribalism issue is asymmetrical…”

      Joshua (doing his best Arkansan accent): “It depends on what the definition of the word ‘asymmetrical’ is…”

    • Judith Curry mentions post-purchase rationalization. Protecting ones previously stated position. I think there is some on both sides though, and we probably all have this bias at times. This bias is somewhat related to thankfully, an accounting term. Sunk Costs. It has to do with placing the proper weight on past mistakes that businesses make and taking the most profitable path forward. I bring this up as it’s one way of looking at the problem.

      “Tribalism is a product of one’s identifications that extend deeper than an identification as a “realist” or a “skeptic.” For example, identification as a libertarian, or a progressive, obviously largely predict whether people identify as “realist” or a “skeptic” within the climate debate.” – Joshua

      I agree. In a way, the climate debate was the next thing to come along, and we held to our biases the same as we did on the prior issue whatever it was. We keep doing the same things. I think Science was more so a part of this issue, than any others I can think of. I think the skeptics would in very broad terms place Scientists on the progressive side which tends to lead to more pointed and perhaps reckless criticisms of them in some cases. And if that does anything, it pushes the Scientists away. I think that’s unfortunate as those are the very people who are guiding us to the answers. Current circumstances have placed them front and center.

    • Steven Mosher

      Joshua

      “Differences do not an asymmetry make.”

      Moshpit: Hey Joshua your face is totally symmetrical?
      Joshua: what’s that mean?
      Moshpit: that means both sides are exactly the same.
      Joshua: what’s asymmetry mean?
      Moshpit: that means one side is different than the other.
      Joshua: thank you, I’m sure I’ll find a way to disagree, just give me a minute.

    • ” that means both sides are exactly the same.”
      oops ;o)

    • Steven,

      The only person you’re making a fool of with that comment, is yourself.

    • John Carpenter

      “The only person you’re making a fool of with that comment, is yourself.”

      No Michael, its binary thinking. Tell me what describes something that is neither symmetric or asymmetric? Either a juvenile food fight or talking science? Hanging out in the cafeteria or at the e-salon? Insert dumb reply below.

    • Steven Mosher

      Micheal,
      Ah yes, redfine asymmetry by calling the people who use it properly fools. very good tactic.

      You could of course argue that the differences were unimportant or inconsequential, but I dont think your up to making that argument. I’ll say this, as a part of the tribe who believes in global warming I see a consequential important difference between the way we treat members who stray away from the consensus and the way the skeptical tribe treats their members who stray from the straight and narrow.
      This different treatment has consequences. It is important.

      For my own part it was shocking to read personal attacks in the peer review of a scientific paper. The consequences for failing to follow the party line in all regards was real. However, if you want to deny that the difference is real, go right ahead and explain why what I witnessed was not real or important. Explain to tamsin why the pressure she experiences is not real or important. Explain to Judith why the treatment she got for inviting Mcintyre to Georgia tech was not real or important. Explain to us how black is white.

    • Steven,

      Go and look at how Judith used the term, which is what Joshua responded to, It wasn’t in the simple physical sense that you’ve tried to berate him with.

      Sure, you can dumb things waay down if you want, but you can’t be surprised when it’s noticed.

    • Perhaps the transition from skeptic camp to believer camp has more a crude quality of broken symmetry…

  12. In my limited experience in engaging with academics who are scientists other than climate scientists, and who also do not frequent the blogs; they seem to strongly believe in AGW or ACC because they have faith in the integrity of their peers. They often work in an environment which is singular in belief. Secondly, their work is ancillary to and dependent upon the work of their colleagues, therefore the pervasive thought process is the science is settled and do not even waste my time asking me to consider anything else. I have never been called a denier;however, the term carries with it a position of superiority and arrogance.

  13. Dear Dr. Curry,

    There is a toxic brew of ignorance and arrogance hurting discussions of public policy on topics from climate change to healthcare to immigration to taxation to terrorism. Additionally we are unable to discuss the manner in which ignorance contributes to grave national problems without being labeled “elite”, above it all, or “out of it“, “deniers”, etc. What is very clear to me in this post is that lots of thinking is severely flawed.

    There are many ways thinking can be flawed. First, one may not have all the relevant information; indeed, important information may remain undiscovered, or the information may not even be knowable. Furthermore, one may make unjustified inferences, use inappropriate concepts, and fail to notice important implications, use a narrow or unfair point of view. One may be a victim of self-delusion, egocentricity, or of a closed-mind. One’s thinking may be unclear, inaccurate, imprecise, irrelevant, narrow, shallow, illogical, or trivial. One may be intellectually arrogant, intellectually lazy, or intellectually hypocritical. Human thinking left to itself often leads to various forms of self-deception, individually and socially; and at the left, right, and mainstream of economic, political, and religious issues.

    Clear thinking requires careful reflection, a clearly stated objective, the ability to identify supporting evidence, logical consistency and the ability to develop an argument that is internally consistent and logically arranged. One must avoid sweeping or hasty generalizations, false dichotomies (either/or fallacies), personal attack, and appeals to fear or ignorance.

    Scientists have a responsibility for clear thinking and reasonable positions. They can certainly prefer one perspective over another but their argument must be based on facts. Different perspectives can give different weight to facts to change the preferred outcome but their perspective can’t change the facts. Otherwise they are nothing more than gossips, and I think that is where we are now. I simply cannot buy into an AGW hypothesis.

    JES

    • So there we have it. Clear-thinking and logical consistency falsifies the AGW hypothesis. And they said it couldn’t be done.

    • And a guy named Joshua who admittedly doesn’t understand climate science keeps commenting at Climate Etc like he’s desperate for AGW to be true. He wouldn’t be able to tell if it was true, even if it was.

      Andrew

    • k scott denison

      Bad Andrew | August 1, 2013 at 7:16 pm |

      … like he’s desperate for AGW to be true.
      ==============
      Very insightful. To my mind, this is one of the common tenets of the IPCC/CAGW tribe: they are desperate for their dire predictions to be true so that they can convince everyone to *act now*. They are so desperate they cannot even acknowledge that there is even the most remote chance that CAGW doesn’t exist and that *doing nothing* might just be the best course.

      The reason I feel this ways because over the great history of man, this type of desperation has nearly always been associated with fanatics whose primary goal was one of control. Seems the easiest way to control large groups is to first scare them with something they know little about, in order to establish oneself as the only one who can provide the answer and who must be obeyed.

    • Dude -

      Very insightful. To my mind, this is one of the common tenets of the IPCC/CAGW tribe: they are desperate for their dire predictions to be true so that they can convince everyone to *act now*. They are so desperate they cannot even acknowledge that there is even the most remote chance that CAGW doesn’t exist and that *doing nothing* might just be the best course.

      There is nothing there that even remotely describes any opinion you’ve ever read me express.

      What does it mean that you find a sheer fantasy to be “insightful?”

    • Joshua seems to be non-aligned about AGW but I believe that while he tends to pick on sceptics who are being “sceptical” he rarely picks on the AGWers on this blog. This may lead to some of us believing that he is an AGW supporter.

      I have always accepted that global warming is currently occurring but am not sure that climate science have a handle on why this is happening and whether natural variability has contributed to this.

      The current “pause” in warming (or even cooling) shown by the data proves nothing IMO because the last 15 years is a mere drop in the bucket of time that climate on Earth has been manifest through the proxy record.

    • ” Peter Davies | August 2, 2013 at 4:51 am |

      Joshua seems to be non-aligned about AGW but I believe that while he tends to pick on sceptics who are being “sceptical” he rarely picks on the AGWers on this blog. “

      Do you want to name some names of “AGWers” that Joshua refuses to pick on, Peter? It appears that the owner of this blog accepts AGW.

      Irony seems to always go over the heads of the 3%.

    • Web your 5% say that they need more money now to head off the Hot Heads.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23538771

      More-for-know comments.

    • Tom | August 2, 2013 at 6:52 am |

      “Web your 5% say …”

      That is the way a statistical distribution works Tom. There are a small percentage of stupid people at the bottom (the 3%) and a corresponding percentage of smart people at the top.

      I wouldn’t pooh-pooh the idea that statisticians found a real correlation between heat and violence. After all, it was that smart top 5% who found the link between atmospheric lead and the criminal behavior of young adults. After lead was removed as a fuel additive worldwide, crime rates decreased significantly in every country that was measured.

      http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2013/03/tetraethyl-lead-violence-link

      “a 1% increase in tonnages of air Pb released 22 years prior corresponded with a 0.46% rise in the aggravated assault rate in the present period.”

      This is a great example of objectivity versus “objectivity” in statistics that the Nate Silver article is about.
      “Objectivity is the belief that there is a real world out there that’s more or less knowable”

    • WebHub,

      The removal of lead from gasoline came about in the 70′s primarily (correct me if I am wrong) because congress enacted legislation that led to the premature use of catalytic converters which were then found to be incompatible with lead additives in gasoline.

      Therefore, we had to rush to get rid of lead due to the rush to catalytic converters. (One can be in favor of sensible, clean air policies and not like the way it was implemented). This was probably a really good thing as lead is toxic and can lead to neurological defects.

      However, another theory related to the decrease in violence is that the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 is responsible for the large decreases in violence that we are still enjoying to this day.

      So, it was not “the smart guys” that figured it out and then got lead banned. It was serendipitous. And there is not widespread agreement about why crime rates are down, as other “smart people” have other theories.

    • “Joshua seems to be non-aligned about AGW”

      You obviously haven’t read more than a few of Joshua’s comments. He’s and admitted Warmer who doesn’t understand climate science. His comments are almost invariably of the same theme: Criticize ‘Skeptics’.

      Andrew

    • David Springer

      WebHubTelescope (@WHUT) | August 2, 2013 at 7:43 am |

      “That is the way a statistical distribution works Tom. There are a small percentage of stupid people at the bottom (the 3%) and a corresponding percentage of smart people at the top.”

      Webby, I tested in the top 0.03%. From that vantage point the top 3% are still mostly dumbasses.

    • Web, The other 5%…

      “The respondents were then asked: “Have these stories about the controversial emails caused you to have more or less trust in climate scientists?” Over half (53%) said that the stories had caused
      them to have much less (29%) or somewhat less (24%) trust in scientists, while 43 percent said it had not affected their level of trust.
      Five percent said they had more trust in scientists as a result
      of the news stories.”

      can’t seem to see the forest, for all the trees.

    • Very well stated, JES

    • John Carpenter

      The vast majority of scientists working at understanding how our climate works are honest, well intentioned and clear thinking as far as I can tell. There are some that advocate AGW in ways that damage climate science image. You cant focus entirely on that. To base your decision on whether or not to agree with AGW solely on the idea of thinking all climate scientists are akin to gossips is to not follow any of the tenants of clear thinking you describe above and instead illustrates a good example of flawed thinking.

    • JES, fair enough, but to have faith in “clear thinking” at the conscious level, it’s useful to be able to access the conditionings and habit patterns in the deep so-called unconscious mind which drive that allegedly clear thinking. Know thyself, as many wise men have said (perhaps some women too, but they haven’t had the same coverage), so that you can observe the various cognitive biases at work.

    • ‘Know thyself’ … Yes.
      Heed the divine Socrates and the sceptical Monsieur Michel
      de Montaigne concernin’ discovering the fallibility within yerself. Recognise that nothing human is foreign to yerself. Say, what
      journey is more fitting ter a serf ( except fer yer mental giants,
      yer Galileo or yer Newton, unlocking secrets of the workings
      of the universe or the planets or particles thereof.)

  14. I would have to agree with your observation, darryl.

  15. “The other side is extremely diverse, including ….”

    I think another subgroup driver is those who realize that wind and solar are just not prime-time energies because of intermittency and see adaptation as less costly than mitigation even given high-sensitivity. But the same should be nuclear hawks, I guess, and see the transportation market as being electric via nuclear.

    • “rob bradley | August 1, 2013 at 7:17 pm”

      Speaking of expertise and objectivity, everything that this guy Rob Bradley says is very important and worthy of consideration.

      After all, he was one of the “Smartest Guys in the Room”

      Wikipedia –
      “Bradley spent nearly 20 years in the business world, including 16 years at Enron, where for the last seven years he was corporate director for public policy analysis and speechwriter for Kenneth L. Lay.”

      “What caused California’s energy crisis back in 2000-2001? Deregulation? Too many hands on the AC switch? What about “creativity” by Enron employees? On Jan. 17, 2001, amid rolling blackouts, a fellow at the energy-trading firm told a power plant worker to “get a little creative” and find a reason to shut down, tightening electricity supply. “OK, so we’re just coming down for some maintenance, like a forced outage type thing?” the worker offered. “I knew I could count on you,” his colleague replied on a tape revealed in a lawsuit. California’s grid eventually stabilized, but Enron itself blinked out — under hefty fines and criminal charges.
      http://xfinity.comcast.net/slideshow/news-thinking/10/

      Irony tends to go over the heads of the 3%

  16. The most significant treatise on this subject is “Intellectuals and Society”‘ 2d Edition, bt Thomas Sowell.

  17. Andy Revkin has a great example of bias and advocacy with his (approving) post of a really dumb “open letter” by scientists attacking Google for daring to contribute to James Inhofe. Inhofe represents the state where google has its server farm.
    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/01/google-science-fellows-challenge-companys-support-for-inhof/?_r=0
    What makes this so funny is that Revkin has been posting a bunch lately on natural gas and nukes, noting that lefties’ attacks on the stuff are pretty much all wrong and it’s necessary to reduce emissions.
    Inhofe has never opposed a gas well or a nuke plant. Never will.
    So what do you say about a pack of “climate concerned” scientists who go out of their way to attack a politician who would be quite happy to support effective alternatives to fossil fuels? They are certainly “advocates” but there is no reason for any honest observer to say they are advocates for science or climate.
    In fact it’s hard to see any way to read their letter as anything other than an effort to double down on a list of policy ideas that are not only going nowhere, but are actually being dialed back around the world. As one brave commenter noted, the idea that this is due to James Inhofe’s speeches is naive to the point of embarrassment.

    • The fact is that Inhofe was the one that recommended a criminal investigation of 17 climatologists based on their hacked emails, he said “the greatest scientific scandal of our generation” .

      http://nation.foxnews.com/?q=sen-james-inhofe/2010/02/23/inhofe-calls-criminal-investigation-global-warming

      I suppose the long-arm of the US congress and judicial system extends to England ?

      So Inhofe is facing pushback from the people he accused of being criminals and is being laughed at by the British, who at last count were citizens of a country other than the USA.

      Irony seems to go over the head of the 3%

    • The climate concerned would pardon the “death train” operators outside of the US? Good to know.
      When “science” writes open letters attacking the politicians and their donors for the crime of delaying action via insistence on Easter bunny solutions, then ill accept that science is unbiased.
      When they object to the hyperbole on both sides Ill believe it.

    • Webster, “I suppose the long-arm of the US congress and judicial system extends to England ?”

      Didn’t the “Tall Bloke” investigation involve UK and US agencies? With the larger number of difficult questions being asked in the UK Parliament, I don’t think there is much laughing going on.

  18. Institutional knowledge is both stiffening and enriching, warnings about ‘very pretty rubbish’ and of ‘extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence’, and indeed common caution and fear of being wrong, do not appear to apply much in the climate science field.
    Having a paper featured on the cover of ‘Science’, which was then shown to be basically be based on cherry-picking, miss identification and wishful thinking would be a career destroyer in any other field.
    Look at what happened to Wakefield and his MMR/Autism paper in the Lancet; Wakefield was struck off the Medical Register in May 2010, with a statement identifying dishonest falsification in The Lancet research, and is barred from practicing medicine in the UK.

  19. In science, a cogent argument consistent with all available facts always wins the day. So far only one side has one, which is why it has such a large majority of support.

    • I don’t think that is true, I think in most fields there are voids where most people state “no idea really, can describe it, but haven’t a clue whats going on”. Like physicists on gravity, geologists on predicting volcanoes or virologists predicting epidemics.
      The people who work out which strains of flu next years vaccine should be aimed at use ‘guesstimation’ and not supercomputer based models.

    • The Consensus Side has not supporting facts. They only have decades of failed models based on their flawed theory.
      The skeptics have all the facts on our side.

      The consensus side has 97% support in their clique.
      Their clique gets smaller every year that temperature does not do what they promised. They maintain a 97% support of a group that gets smaller every year.

  20. Some scientists will end up in policy development roles. They won’t suddenly jump from working in a laboratory to working in the west wing or a Minister’s office or on the executive floor. They will be drawn into the role gradually. For example, they may be tapped on the shoulder to sit on a committee or two. They may be invited to take a short term assignment in a research advisory role or a management role.

    A good example is John Holdren. He has a 30 year history of renewable energy advocacy and of being an anti-nuclear activist. He is now The President’s senior adviser on science and technology. He is far from objective.

    • Leaders with agendas do not pick objective people to lead their agencies. They want people who have the same bias that they want to promote.

    • He also used to mention that we might need to use mandatory contraceptives in drinking water to control population. He and Ehrlich would throw these ideas out there with very little sense that they found the ideas at all distasteful.

  21. Confirmation Bias
    Ingroup Bias
    Post-Purchase Rationalization
    Neglecting Probability
    Gambler’s fallacy
    Observational Selection Bias
    Status Quo Bias
    Negativity Bias
    Bandwagon Bias
    Projection Bias
    Current Moment Bias

    Balderdash.

    One word explains virtually all this bloviating about cognitive biases. Vanity.

    Confirmation Bias – I am smarter than you are, so anything you say that contradicts me must be wrong.

    Ingroup Bias – I am a (fill in the blank – X), I am superior therefore Xes are superior, therefore you are stupid.

    Post-Purchase Rationalization – I bought it, I am smarter than the sales person, so it must be a good purchase.

    Neglecting Probability – This isn’t vanity, it’s nonsense. There are perfectly logical reasons for people to fear flying more than driving, terrorism more than falling down the stairs. Control over the probability being the most obvious. (And no, I don’t fear either.)

    Gambler’s fallacy – OK, this one works. CAGW being a classic example.

    Observational Selection Bias – What I am seeing has something to do with me, I am the center of the universe, so now I will notice it.

    Status Quo Bias – This isn’t a bias, it’s a conscious decision, one hated and feared by progressives everywhere.

    Negativity Bias – I am superior, everybody else sucks, so news that shows everybody else sucks makes me feel better.

    Bandwagon Bias – (This one typifies moderates and independents best) I am superior, I can’t risk being wrong, so I will follow the crowd.

    Projection Bias – I am superior, therefore I must be right, therefore most people must agree with me.

    Current Moment Bias – I am the center of the universe. My happiness is all that matters. What makes me happy right now is most important.

    • In the early years of climate science, mainstream scientists came together and declared that man-made CO2 must be driving temperature rise because there are no other posibilities. (More or less). Now we know that they did’t understand many important attributes regarding natural variables. Was this bias, conceit, arrogance or noble courage?

    • Ignorance and arrogance.
      JES

  22. I had the good fortune to have research mentors and science teachers with a deep reverence for the basic principles of science. The reward was a joyful life of continuous discovery.

    Those who have not experienced the joy of discovery have been cheated, regardless of the number of research grants, awards or papers published.

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo

  23. Think you’re objective?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbP55N9trdM

    You’re not, and if you were, you’d be powerless to understand or affect the world.

    • If you have only one thing to remember, Bart R, is thank you.

    • Right, I have this Luntz ref in my Zotero citation manager
      http://www.actonfs.com/newsletters/issue18/newsletter18.html


      When asked why consistency is critical, Luntz replies, “Finding a good message and then sticking with it takes extraordinary discipline, but it pays off tenfold in the end. Remember, you may be making yourself sick by saying the same exact thing for the umpteenth time, but many in your audience will be hearing it for the first time. The overwhelming majority of your customers aren’t paying as much attention as you are.”

      The 3% don’t pay attention so they need to be bludgeoned over the head, repeatedly. Objectivity is at the mercy of propaganda techniques.

    • BartR, It seems that you would learn from the references you link.

      Carbon Tax – poor choice. Value Added Tax – good choice. It sounds like you are getting more for the effort.

      Min achrist – poor choice, sounds like you think you are the mini-me anti-Christ. Pragmatist- better choice.

      Global Warming- poor choice since is does warm uniformly. Climate Uncertainty- good choice because it is descriptive.

      “As a pragmatist, I support a value added tax to prepare for Climate Uncertainty.”

      Once you get into their wallets, do as you will.

    • captdallas 0.8 or less | August 2, 2013 at 8:07 am |

      You’re mistaking the ability to do a thing with the need to do a thing.

      I don’t need to manipulate emotions. I don’t want an emotional relationship with strangers on the interwebs. However, it’s not the only mistaken assumption you’re making.

      I’m not a pragmatist. Would a pragmatist ever bother with Climate Etc.? On what plausible basis?

      _MIN_archist suits me just fine, no matter how dyslexic a reading your collectivist brain puts on the idea that given two choices with otherwise inseparable outcomes, the one with less government is better. See what Frank Luntz so damningly says about how much better “government deregulation” sounds than “government subsidy” or “decreased safety rules”. That’s not what _MIN_archy (how the heck do you stretch your perceptions so fare you get a religious connotation from the word?) is about; a _min_archist seeks no affiliation, group or party but only consistent application of the common sense principle that people ought be in charge of their own lives, and not meddlers. Ask the rent-seeking David Wojick how he makes his money in that Luntzian enterprise of balking the public desire for healthy lives, David being well-paid to endanger American lives at the behest of a few carpetbagging lobbyists. Do I care that I just used all the wrong words according to Luntz’ focus groups? No, I’m okay with being honest.

      Carbon Tax? I’m not interested in another tax at all. My goal is privatization, the mechanism by which government gets smaller. Does the privatization of the carbon cycle grow government, or shrink government, relative to the size of the economy? Since it puts what right now the government has but fails to manage — as the Supreme Court has ruled with regard to CO2 and the EPA — into the hands of the Market to efficiently allocate, privatization wins. Do I care that I just used all the wrong words according to Luntz’ focus groups? No. I don’t mind being rationally right, rather than manipulative.

      Uncertainty? Pfft. There’s plenty of certainty. Isaac Newton laid the foundations for what certainty is in Science, and why, three centuries ago, and supercedes Popper on these questions: Parsimony, Simplicity, Universality — if an explanation is superior in all three of these measures, it is the accurate or very nearly true resolution, and we should treat this as certain until new observations require amendment of the explanation. Newtonian Policy grew the British Empire from a scattering of squabbling islanders to the greatest world power of its time, and was the power behind the advancement of America. This dithering New Ager uncertainty-oriented nihilism is just self-dooming waste of breath. If you want better words than Global Warming or Climate Change or Hockey Stick or Catastrophic Anthropogenic, discuss the more accurate Unnatural Normalized Trendology in Climate, and Unnatural Climate Kinetics due Forcing. Maybe use “Climate Infarct” or “Climate Tachycardia” or “Climate Arythmia”. I know the first two are kinda long, maybe make an acronym for them.

      And lastly, I most certainly am arguing for the opposite of laying strangers’ hands on others’ wallets, even my own hands. We know the world we have now is exactly the pickpocketing of hard working taxpayers by bloated corporate lobbyists and their elected lapdogs. Subsidies and favors to the fossil industry and the multinational foreign-owned auto industry? Check out how the pocket picking works just for parking regulation: http://www.uctc.net/papers/351.pdf

      See, you come to your conclusions based on how words make you feel without understanding the rational meaning behind them, and your interpretations lose all logical consistency.

      I’m not here to praise Luntz, but to bury him.

    • BartR, You are probably better off going with the mini-me-anti-Christ. A minarchist would oppose using government to confiscate property under the guise of privatization in order to redistribute wealth. A minarchist would promote a VAT in order to fund a limited government on a equitable basis knowing that the goal is not less government but the best government. A minarchist would not be foolish enough to believe everything he reads knowing that the real uncertainty is due to the biased choices of the authors.

      The way you are going you would “privatize” the carbon cycle, the solar cycle, the menstrual cycle and every other cycle you might find personally beneficial.

    • captdallas 0.8 or less | August 2, 2013 at 11:58 am |

      You’re awfully fond of telling people what words they ought to say instead, and what meanings you want people to hear instead for the words they’ve said. That’s kinda a thing people ought decide for themselves, no?

      Are you a natural bully, tyrant and meddler, or were you raised that way?

      When I say privatization, I mean privatization. If I meant redistribution, I’d have said redistribution. If I meant confiscation, I’d have said confiscation.

      What confiscation do you imagine? Do you imagine selling royalties for oil and coal gives the fossil industry unlimited right to steal the air of every citizen out of their lungs a molecule at a time? You keep repeating these memorized lines by rote from the playbook, but you don’t prove it true, and you don’t have the ring of truth. All you have is propaganda for a bunch of thieves. And by bunch, I mean collective.

      Speaking of, if I were a collectivist, I’d say I were a collectivist. As I say I’m a _min_archist — a term you are so thoroughly unfamiliar with that you confuse it with VAT advocate, which is fair, you’re unfamiliar enough to believe I’m a gullible bandwagon-jumping dyskeptic — it’s pretty much the opposite of how you want to imagine the people proposing things you object to.

      I have no particular opinion on a VAT except that it’s too early to discuss a VAT on the carbon cycle as the base price is not yet determined.

      How to determine the base price?

      By privatization first. Then tax the carbon cycle at a fair rate, if the government really needs the revenue. But don’t take a penny from the private returns to the owners of the carbon cycle in excess of the fair tax rate on anything else.

      Why do you dictate what others say and mean?

      Because you are at heart a Socialist, of the kind Stalin loved, jack-booted and goose-stepping and dictating what other people ought say, mean, and think.

      Your silly slippery slope argument misses the point of the fair business market for the carbon cycle.

      S.R.E.A.

      Is it S: Scarce?
      Is it R: Rivalrous?
      Is it E: Excludable?
      Is it A: Administrable?

      Then it belongs on the fair market where the free decisions of buyers and sellers as individuals can set the price and allocate the use, not under the command and control of government regulations.

      Currency, weights and measures, standards and oversight, those are not S.R.E.A. and thus must be treated as shared Commons under regulation until such time as someone smarter than you or I comes up with a better way to keep markets fair for hardworking customers and businesspeople.

      It’s the government’s job to take this role.

      As of now, the government not only has all those under its regulation, it also has the carbon cycle under regulation by order of the Supreme Court. Your way, some EPA politburo sets the regulations and the prices. The American way, the fair market decides by the negotiations and decisions of individual buyers and sellers, and the owners get paid a fair dividend in compensation for the risk and loss of the carbon cycle’s services to them.

    • > Would a pragmatist ever bother with Climate Etc.? On what plausible basis?

      Yes.

      Ideally, to make sure the Comedy of menace while awaiting for Godot gets acknowledged.

      As consolation, to let bystanders know that this is what we do hereunder, and to appeal to their own pragmatism.

      ***

      A synonym for dyskeptic might be dystopist.

    • Sure beats watching ‘Lucy’ with willard.

  24. Judith
    You might add Hubris bias.
    Diffenbaugh and Field are in a panic over what they think they know on prehistoric CO2 concentrations.
    Murry Salby set out to write/update his text book on atmospheric science. When he looked at CO2, he had the humility to recognize that there was alot that he thought he knew that didn’t fit the data. He had the integrity to start from scratch and derive the equations for CO2 diffusion in ice cores etc. Consequence – his models appear to invert conventional wisdom on ice core measured CO2 concentrations by a factor of 10.
    See Murry Salby’s April 18, 2013 Hamburg lecture

    • Murry Salby is hardly the expert any longer.

      Mashey at DeSmogBlog wrote up a huge expose that relies on state court records and federal grant records retrieved via FOIA requests that show Murry Salby has participated in many questionable ethical practices over the last several years.
      http://www.desmogblog.com/2013/07/12/murry-salby-galileo-bozo-or-p-t-barnum

      “Conclusion

      According to Salby, Colorado, CU, NSF, MU and various other individuals have treated him unfairly and illegaly, were wrong to do so, so he sued often, but lost.

      People might compare the NSF OIG report on Salby to other OIG examples and decide whether or not he got off lightly, compared to USA residents.

      Galileo: NO. Salby is not Galileo.

      Bozo: NO. Salby is a climate scientist, has written a textbook thought reasonable.

      P.T.Barnum: YES. Salby has a well-documented history of financial chicanery, deception and unwillingness to listen to warnings. If he was increasingly unable to produce much good science, perhaps he moved to anti-science to retain attention, get (paid?) speaking engagements at thinktanks, as per FIN3, PSY3 in reasons.

      Bozos: YES, many. Some people apparently accept anything that agrees with their views, without ever bothering to do even minimal credibilty checks.”

      The most puzzling part of Salby’s plight is that he has written what looks like a well organized text book on climate science and is well-cited on certain research topics.

      This looks mainly like a case of a guy who followed a certain path that he chose on his own accord, got found out, and then started to flip out, both in his work relationships and in his scientific research. His campaign to suggest that excess atmospheric CO2 is not caused by fossil fuels is a most misguided hypothesis, but has been lapped up by denialists. Mashey is right to call it anti-science.

      “Myrrh” Salby will become the unintended poster-child for the 3%.

  25. “Having great intelligence or specialized knowledge isn’t assurance against a person remaining unbiased in their public opinions.” I know you’re quoting Intellectual Conservative, but I hope the mistake “unbiased” in place of “biased” doesn’t end up going on forever. Or maybe it’s “against” in place of “of”? Anyhow, I’m tired of it already.

  26. ”Warmist / Paranoids” have to be bias, it’s part of their doctrine…

  27. “the “objectivity” that journalists practice holds that it’s impossible to know what’s real, so all you can do is report the claims made by various (powerful) people. The chief benefit of “objectivity” is that it means you will never have to tell any powerful person that they’re wrong about anything.”

    So a powerful person would be someone who could hurt or kill the journalist.
    I thought they were mostly a bunch of cowards, but I did not know they were deliberately following a policy that is designed to make them cowards.
    It certainly explains why they consistently brown nose terrorists, criminals, the assortment of dictators in the world.

    I thought the idea of objectivity had nothing to do with power- even that reporters are supposed to support the powerless. Naive, I guess.
    So I had thought that, “objectivity” was about fairness.
    So idea is that journalists/reporter have privileged position granted to them by the public to represent their interests, and therefore they should for sake of honoring this, be fair. As in blind justice.:
    “Since the 15th century, Lady Justice has often been depicted wearing a blindfold. The blindfold represents objectivity, in that justice is or should be meted out objectively, without fear or favour, regardless of identity, money, power, or weakness; blind justice and impartiality.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_justice_%28concept%29#Blindfold

  28. Barclay E MacDonald

    We all have biases. They are built in. We probably do not recognize many of our own biases. And our biases come coupled with a sense of certainty about them. Moreover, there is no reason to believe objectivity, or lack of bias, tracks intelligence.
    My favorite book on the subject is “On Being Certain, believing you are right even when you’re not” By Richard A Burton MD. I’ve read it three times! Judith, check it out!

  29. Persons of all stripes are generally loyal to their source of income.

    Very true.

  30. “I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.”

    Tolstoy

  31. “The climate science-policy interface is a particularly difficult one to navigate, owing to the complexity of the science and its uncertainties.”

    Of course it appears complex and uncertain when every property and process of matter and energy has been changed so taking out all rational thinking as now absent any logical physical connections.

    Your bias is that you have polerised the argument to be AGWs versus CAGWs, and as both have no, and I do mean no, grasp on the physical world around us, all this angst about bias in science policy interface is misplaced. You are really trying to analyse the actions of two groups of people who have strong faith in their respective religious convictions, neither of any interest to real science and neither group should have any say in policies directly affecting the general population through government intereference.

    There was a good reason for the separation of religion and goverment in the setting up of your country.

    Neither group are scientists is able to provide factual information about the subject, both resorting to imagination without the restraint which is encumbent on science, and both showing no ability to explain anything about climate because of this, that is the rub.

  32. The climate science-policy interface is a particularly difficult one to navigate, owing to the complexity of the science and its uncertainties, and the complex socioeconomic impacts of climate variability and change, and the high cost and potential unintended consequences associated with proposed policies.

    The science is difficult, but looking at past data is simple. We are in the same bounds we have been in for ten thousand years and what has happened will most likely happen again. We are in a Modern Warm Period and a Future Little Ice Age Will Follow. A fraction of a trace gas is not going to make a major change to what happens next.
    Computer output is not data and it is not science. When it is wrong for decades, it should be tossed out and actual data should be looked at to figure out what has happened, because what has happened is likely to happen again and what has not happened is unlikely to ever happen.
    CO2 is out of bounds, but it is in the most favorable direction. It is in the direction that makes green things grow better using less water. In the past 600 million years CO2 was much higher than now, most of the time. We have lots of fossil fuels because green things grew better when CO2 was much higher.

  33. Pingback: Pondering the Permian | Skeptical Swedish Scientists

  34. The late Philip Handler, former president of the National Academy of Sciences, said that “Scientists best serve public policy by living within the ethics of science, not those of politics. If the scientific community will not unfrock the charlatans, the public will not discern the difference– science and the nation will suffer.”

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/07/09/aliens-cause-global-warming-a-caltech-lecture-by-michael-crichton/

  35. Georges Clemenceau, the prime minister of France during WWI, famously remarked after yet another military disaster that war is too important to be left to the generals. In an analogous fashion, when a branch of science is being used to justify the complete restructuring of the global economy, it’s no longer a scientific issue but a political one.

    http://thepointman.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/why-would-anyone-believe-a-single-word-coming-out-of-their-mouth/

    Pointman

  36. Restructuring the global economy and restricting the freedom of
    the individual ter live w/out unnecessary restraints.
    Bts

  37. JC message to Joshua said:

    The other side is extremely diverse, including skeptical academics who don’t have a high opinion of each other, data libertarians from the open knowledge movement, people interested in accountability of publicly relevant science, and yes those who are politically motivated by allegiance to fossil fuels.

    I’d take issue with the last one: “ those who are politically motivated by allegiance to fossil fuels.

    First, It demonstrates bias to connect “politically motivated” and ‘fossil” fuels”. It suggests the author considers it is skeptics and those who support fossil fuels who are politically motivated but does not recognise that the “‘tribe’ associated with the IPCC and its supporters.”are politically motivated. The “‘tribe’ associated with the IPCC and its supporters” are mostly employees and tend towards being of ‘progressive’ political persuasion. I suspect the number of people “who are politically motivated by allegiance to fossil fuels ” is small. But what a large group of people are motivated by is allegiance to low cost, plentiful, reliable energy. I suggest this is an entirely rational position, and those who do not support this are not acting rationally. Those who are concerned about energy costs tend to be more aware of the economic implications of the advocated mitigation policies, are more economically rational and more likely to be of conservative political persuasion.

    Second, it misses another major group – those concerned about the economic costs and benefits of the policies being proposxed. This group want to see clear, well documented evidence, that has been fully exposed and tested in appropriate adversarial forums before we commit to the trillions of dollars that the policies advocated by the IPCC supporters would cost us.

    I belong to that group. I believe the largest proportion of skeptics belong to this group. IMO, the concern about the need to implement policies that will cost the world trillions of dollars is the main motivation for skeptics questioning every relevant detail of the evidence used to support the case for GHG mitigation. Furthermore, I suggest skeptics are being entirely rational by challenging every detail before they are prepared to support the high cost mitigation policies being advocated. At the moment, the case has not been made that the costs of such policies are justified. There is no evidence that the policies will deliver any benefits.

    It is unfortunate that, what I believe is the main reason for scepticism about CAGW, is not even recognised or acknowledged.

    • Peter, I agree. Why are we not inundated with CPAN-like debates on climate science?

    • michael hart

      Yes, Peter, I thought that part of the JC message was unjustifiably asymmetric. When I ask the question “qui bono?”, I can come up with a much longer list. A list that also includes some fossil fuel-related interests clearly in opposition to other fossil fuel-related interests.

  38. The analysis in interesting. Indeed, it seems to me that the climate snowball has come to be accidentally rather than conspiratorially. Everything seems to indicate that we will stumble our way out of this mess only to walk right into the next one.

  39. Please pardon me if this has been posted, but I ran accross this excellent presentation by Willie Soon about the sea level sat data. It’s a real eye opener.

    From her site:
    “Willie Soon has some fun with the sea-level debate, going back to William the Conqueror, and landmarks in England.

    Are sea-levels “accelerating”? Can the satellites resolve sea-level to 1mm changes a year? Why is the raw data so different?

    I think the strongest point is the one Nils Axel Morner has made about the extraordinary adjustments in the raw satellite data, which Willie Soon refers too soon after the 20 minute mark.”

    http://joannenova.com.au/2013/08/five-or-more-failed-experiments-in-measuring-global-sea-level-willie-soon/

    • I find the Pevensey area information especially intriguing. According to the article, the sea was much higher in the not so distant past. Is this true, has it been seen elsewhere? I’ll keep searching – thanks for the link to Dr. Soon’s lecture.

  40. David Springer

    Few None of us have the specialized knowledge necessary to make absolute pronouncements on [global warming/climate change concerns], yet all of us have a right, or even an obligation, to philosophically cross-examine the arguments presented for rational consistency.”

  41. Apologies for being late to the party. I have three comments. First, Dr. Tol reveals himself to the master of unintended irony in his first post. Second, in the “Jim and John” dialogue, I think an unrealistic test is being proposed for the theory of AGW. There seems to an expectation that the theory can explain every greenhouse-effect related manifestation in both short and long terms and in granular detail, and if it can’t it fails. I think that’s a dishonest test. The recognized complexity of the Earth’s climate system means that such granular predictions are a waste of time. But what AGW can and does tell us is that we have a meaningful amount of energy being added to the climate that is caused by our emissions of CO2 and that will manifest itself over time in a hotter planet. It’s not a failure of the theory that it can’t tell you what the average temperature in St. Louis will be next year. If a similar standard were applied to the theory of evolution, the biologists would be asked to explain in the detail the when and where of future new speciation.

    Finally, the idea that Ben Santer was unqualified to do his work for the IPCC is simply absurd.

    • The issue regarding Ben Santer is not his scientific credentials or his IQ. The issue is one of experience in navigating the science-policy interface, which pretty much by definition he did not have 5 years post Ph.D.

    • B. Levin demonstrates Santer’s heavy hand on the tiller in Madrid. He navigated, very effectively, and look at the treacherous waters he’s steered us into.
      =============

    • The issue with Santer is that he was brought in to do exactly what he did, by Houghton.

      Because, that was the whole purpose behind setting up the IPCC – its brief was to show anthropogenic global warming and when the real consensus of scientists working on the ’95 report found no such signal Santer was brought in to take out all references to their reasons and rewrite their conclusion which became the “official consensus”, which continues to be promoted.

      All of the AGW is a scam, and the ‘physics’ which created the concept “The Greenhouse Effect” is as fake as Santer’s rewrite.

      Both created out of the imagination without any reference to reality.

    • But what AGW can and does tell us is that we have a meaningful amount of energy being added to the climate that is caused by our emissions of CO2 and that will manifest itself over time in a hotter planet.

      Only if no other factors or feedbacks are at play.

  42. Perhaps the biggest mistake it to ignore who selected and is paying the expert. The ‘consensus’ is funded by government, and hence their conclusions are virtually forgone to be alarmist, since this is what serves the interests of government.

  43. Having great intelligence or specialized knowledge isn’t assurance against a person remaining unbiased in their public opinions.

    Quite – noone doubts hired guns can shoot straight.

    And in the climate case, 99% of the guns are hired a by huge single gang – aka The Government – that has a crystal-clear vested interest in the matter. And whose hired guns think nothing of hiding data etc etc.

  44. El Segundo
    Will Rogers once said “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it”.
    The same could be said about mainstream science’s approach to cognitive bias — we generate lists of different forms of it, mostly drawing on Tversky and Kahneman — but don’t seem to have well established procedures for detecting and remedying it. However, there is a well-established record of successful techniques for routinely vetting scientific and technological estimates for bias: geoscience and engineering forecasts of results from exploratory and development drilling for oil and natural gas projects. Example remedies include 1) the lognormal expectation for distributions of most geotechnical parameters; 2) reality and plausibility checks of estimated parameters; 3) procedures for obtaining unbiased “group wisdom”; and 4) disciplined post-audits of both successful and unsuccessful projects. Such procedures have gradually improved the success of E &P ventures across much of the Petroleum Industry.
    Needless to say, the likelihood of mainstream western science being willing to learn anything from a favored whipping boy is remote, but such concepts and procedures are, by now, well established and documented. For those who might be interested, see “Risk Analysis and Management of Petroleum Exploration Ventures” by Peter R. Rose, American Association of Petroleum Geologists (2001), now in its 7th printing.

  45. Pingback: Death(?) of expertise | Climate Etc.

  46. Pingback: Judith Curry: News Of ‘Death Of Expertise’ Greatly Exaggerated | The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s