by Judith Curry
The dogma post seems to have a struck a nerve, but both sides seem be talking past each other. One side sees the dogma as self-evident, the other side wants evidence.
Alexander Harvey points out that the word I probably want to use is dogmatism and dogmatist (although I was becoming rather attached to Tom Fuller’s “dogman.”) According to the Random House Dictionary:
Dogmatism is defined as “unfounded positiveness in matters of opinion,” and the “arrogant assertion of opinions as truths”. A dogmatist is “a person who asserts his or her opinions in an arrogant manner”.
The dogmatism that I am talking about is at the science-policy interface. Gallileo ran into problems with dogmatism at the interface of science and religion. The forces in play here are much bigger than just science. People will have a hard time convincing me that the public behavior I see among a number of scientists (e.g. use of the word “denier”) is not well characterized by dogmatism. But again, that is not my main point; my main point is how the larger forces in play enable and reward dogmatism, with science (not to mention policy) suffering for it.
I received this question in an email yesterday:
“Is it possible that, regardless of the best intentions on all parts, the intersection of science, funding, politicians, media and public policy is doomed to create bad science (in terms of oversimplification and suppression of uncertainty), questionable public policy and, in the internet age, bitter acrimony amongst those who should be colleagues?”
This is exactly what I am trying to understand.
My positive feedback loop post elicited over a hundred emails. My take home from these emails is that my argument isn’t particularly original (this kind of thing is endemic and widely discussed in other fields) and my argument was too narrow (I didn’t include the increasing financial interests and big $$ in all this, as well as politicians investing their careers in this.)
Text from the email message I received
“I am currently reading a book entitled “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes. I’m not sure if you have read it, and a quick perusal of other blogs finds no mention, so I thought I would bring it to your attention for the parallels to the development of the climate consensus. The book itself is concerned with various aspects of diet and health, and their interaction with public policy and public funding.
In two chapters in particular (‘The Creation of Consensus’ and ‘Fiber’) Taubes lays out a very compelling story, which begins with forceful personalities laying out a hypothesis based on scanty and somewhat contradictory evidence, which then becomes the accepted hypothesis of the large funding agencies, even in the absence of further evidence, due to its prima facie plausibility. Once it hit this state, the hypothesis became a forced consensus through the intervention of governmental funding (and concurrent need to simplify the science and reduce uncertainties for governments) and the general impression expressed through the media (which always seems to require a simple message, preferably of doom). It then, of course, became the basis of public health policy related to diet. Throughout this whole period, the scientists and researchers who has doubts the base hypothesis were derided at conferences, told that they shouldn’t disagree publicly (as it would dilute the main message), found funding difficult, had results re-interpreted or quietly ignored (or found it hard to publish), and generally either ignored or treated like heretics to a true faith. As a result of all this, fifty or sixty years after the original (probably) flawed hypothesis our public health agencies are still toeing the line on dietary guidelines – with no more hard evidence than they had originally.
This quick summary certainly doesn’t do Mr. Taubes’ book any credit, but I think you get the idea. The entire process of the development and imposition of the consensus – with the intervention of government, funding agencies and media – is remarkably similar to the process in the area of climate studies, up to and including the demand for public policy before the research has been solidified. Equally striking are the descriptions of the major groups and personalities involved, from scientists who became policy advocates, through politicians needing a simple solution, to environmentalists latching on to further their agenda. The only element that seems to be missing is the internet with its blogs capable of disseminating adverse information to a wider audience (the lack of which might explain the apparent lack of bitter acrimony).
Second, I would use these two parallel lines of development to ask the question: is it possible that, regardless of the best intentions on all parts, the intersection of science, funding, politicians, media and public policy is doomed to create bad science (in terms of oversimplification and suppression of uncertainty), questionable public policy and, in the internet age, bitter acrimony amongst those who should be colleagues?
A major caveat here. One thing that I’ve always believed, and is reinforced by Taubes’ work, is that the participants almost universally have good intentions and are following the course they believe is best. Human failings and their personalities often get in the way of this, and sometimes lead to excess on their part, but by and large I cannot see evil intent on anyone’s part, much as I may disagree with them. “
I seem to hear the message that scientists should not try to inform public policy. Am I missing something?
It is of course fine/necessary for science to inform policy makers and engage in the policy making process. Its when the scientists play “power politics” with their expertise that we have a problem.
Power politics with elected officials or NGOs such as the IPCC or as individuals? And is the NAS lumped in with the IPCC?
I’m still not at all clear what you mean by “power politics”.
I’m familiar with it relation to international relations, but with regard to scientists….???
The difficulty is that whether or not the scientists play “power politics” with their expertise, the policy makers — a polite term for politicians and bureaucrats — will play “power politics” with the scientists’ expertise. Whether or not the scientists have a political agenda, you may be sure the “policy makers” do — and they will use their policy-making power to ensure getting the right answer from the scientists. The entire history of the EPA illustrates this, over and over.
Actually, there are some middle men here, which is what my feedback loop was all about. I’m 100% fine with what Jim Hansen does, acting on his convictions. It is when institutions like the Royal Sociey, the NAS, AAAS, APS, etc. start advocating for action or whatever, that is what I am fighting and what I am calling the power politics of expertise.
Re: curryja (undefined NaN NaN:NaN),
That Hansen has access to and substantial control over NASA resources, and deploys them EXCLUSIVELY to bolster the AGW story, is not “fine”. It is a perversion of both science and policy.
We may have to split science into two completly seperate areas and give society the option of picking their science.
The correct and truthful science looking for absolute answers and the current system of theories that greatly conflict with each other.
I wish everyone with a dog in this fight would step back, take a deep breath, and think about this key statement:
The intersection of science, funding, politicians, media and public policy is doomed to create bad science.
Dr. Curry’s thoughtful approach is the most hopeful sign that these ‘climate wars’ might eventually reach an armistice.
I agree, the power / money connection is where things get jacked up.
Much of the reaction on the previous thread was due to the terminalogical inexactitude of the lead post.
And again, calling someone “denier” is in no way way evidence of dogma (in the pejorativr\e sensed that you like to use it). As has been pointed out to to in comments, dogma can simply be the truth. I’d happily call someone rejecting the existence of gravity a denier – calling gravity a dogma (again in the sense you use it) as a result would be silly.
There is a much bigger problem here than the sloppy use of the word – it’s that it obscures the discussion. Slinging the word “dogma’ around when discussion the interaction of science-policy, will only obscure the issues that need to be discussed and instead focus it on that inappropriately and inexactly used word.
II know you’ve developed a dogmatic attachment to “dogma”, but just drop it. We’ll all be better off.
The error that the IPCC made in asserting early Himalayan Glacier melt is a good example of the dogma that Judith is talking about.
When Pachauri was confronted with the error he calls the assertion voodoo science. In a later interview, when Pachauri is asked about the Himilayan Glacier melt error he begins discussing the flat earth society, implying that the accusation that the IPCC made an error was baseless.
I found the flat earth discussion particularly concerning. He had had a chance to investigate the assertion that the IPCC had made an error, an assertion made by Indian government scientists, and still discounted it. The truth – the original statement, that the Himalayan glaciers would melt within 30 years, came from a scientist in an interview. The statement was republished by an NGO where it was picked up by the IPCC.
Pachauri’s response showed complete disrespect for a dissenting opinion. That’s what dogma looks like.
That’s a category error – a mistake is not dogma.
Science is not ‘dogma’ as it is open to refutation, correction and improvement.
The error was not dogma. Discounting another scientist’s work as voodoo science without even rudimentary examination of the evidence is.
I’d call somebody denying the existence of gravity an idiot!
But there is a qualitative difference between denying the existence of gravity and of sceptics like me who do not believe that the case for catastrophic AGW has been well amd – if indeed there is one.
If you find it difficult to understand this simple point, then I fear that I would have very little confidence in any ‘science’ you cared to present.
But somehow the proponents of CAGW have an emotional attachment to the word. Sadly it shows that they have failed to understand any of the points that we ahve been trying to make to them for many years.
Certainly, one connotation of the word dogma should be that the belief involved does not jib with the current facts. The belief may been apparently reasonable at the time of its conception, but has been superseded by subsequent discoveries, analysis, and revelations. I believe there is some element of dogma in climate science, especially regarding the 3-(6-9) C / century warming due to feedbacks. This seems to be the weakest area of the science due to a lack of understanding of the role of clouds. This is the part that has become dogmatic, IMO.
I’d happily call someone rejecting the existence of gravity a denier – calling gravity a dogma (again in the sense you use it) as a result would be silly.
This example is a false analogy to the climate science issue, again as I have stated before, your are confusing events with mechanisms. Gravity that happens, is observed, is an event. The mechanisms (the theory) of how gravity works is not in any way settled. Scientists who hold one theory of gravity do not call others who hold on to another theory “deniers” of gravity.
The entire usage of the word “denier” is indeed dogmatic because such a word cannot be applied in scientific context when challening a theory (mechanism) which is attempting to explain climate events.
In science, you cannot “deny” a theory, you can, based on the evidence available, either accept the theory or reject it.
The usage of the term “denier” was a deliberate attempt to stave off anyone from questioning the premise of AGW. And that, my friend, is dogma.
Well, I object to the ‘denier’ label, in the climate change domain, on two grounds. First, if you call me a ‘climate change denier’ you are linking me with those who deny the reality of the Holocaust, which makes me sound some kind of crypto-Nazi. Second, you are asserting, by so doing, that the reality of ‘human-induced climate change’ is of the same historical and evidence-based reality as the Holocaust. It isn’t, by a long shot.
And, ‘dogma can simply be the truth’. Hm. How much of our present understanding of things scientific will hold good in fifty years, do you think? What have we overturned since 1950 in scientific understanding? I think you are on dangerous ground in making that kind of statement.
In any case, it doesn’t help matters to speak and act as though you have the truth, even if you think you have.
The Meriam-Webster dictionary notes the first recorded use of the term ‘denier’ in the 15th century, 500 hundred years before the Holocaust. Freedictionary makes no mention of the Holocaust in the use of the term “denier”, nor does
dictionary.com, nor do my copies of the OED, Collins, and Macquarie dictionaries.
Your “objection” is not based upon any recognised standard English usage of the term denier, which demotes one who denies a thing, whether it be evolution, radiation physics, Obama’s place of birth and religion, the moon landing, or the Holocaust.
Your confabulation of the generic and legitimate use of the term “denier” in the context of those who deny the physics of infrared-absorbing gases, with that small subset of deniers who deny the Holocaust, appears to be an exercise in some or all of:
1) logical fallacy
2) personal bias and/or misunderstanding
3) deliberate propaganda
I have friends who lost family or friends themselves in the Holocaust, and they have no objection at all to the use of the term “denier” in the context of those who deny climate change and climate change physics. Your assertion that others are asserting that “the reality of ‘human-induced climate change’ is of the same historical and evidence-based reality as the Holocaust” is incorrect, as is your confabulation of the meaning of the word “denier”.
By a long shot.
no one (credible) is ‘denying’ that physics of IR absorbing gases
no one (credible) is ‘denying’ that the climate changes or has changed or is currently changing.
Plenty of people are questioning the role of man in the recent changes (to head you off, the two things you’re looking for here are ‘feedbacks’ and ‘climate sensitivity wrt co2’).
As for the term ‘denier’, your argument fails almost before it is out of the gate. Citing early-history examples of the terms usage is irrelevant in this discussion as it is CLEARLY being used in the abhorrant context by the more political elements in a typical marginalisation attempt. It is the context and intent that is important here and i suspet you know it.
I’m glad that your friends and family don’t find it offensive- unfortunatley there are many who find it highly offensive.
above comment aimed at Bernard J
I know of 4 researchers/scientists that would jump onto the truthful science side and leave the current system to it’s fate.
Two research the suns activities and composition, one researches earth magnetics and gravity and the other (myself) motion and rotation. All have made great strides in truth finding.
Can you please give us some idea of what you think is the ideal response from the scientific community to Cristopher Monckton’s testimony to the US Congress? Do you know what was the actual response?
Also, I would like to hear your opinion of that simple fact, that Monckton is used as an expert witness. If you find that fact troubling, what problem is it symptomatic of? Do Monckton’s ideas about climate have any merit whatsoever in your eyes?
Genuinely interested, thanks.
I haven’t followed this too closely. Monckton is a politician, so asking him to testify in a political hearing is not inappropriate at all. He is a very clever and articulate politician. A few of his points are valid, whereas many of his points have been roasted and rebutted in ppt and essays that have been plastered all over the blogosphere. So all of this is part of the political process. If someone is getting their climate science from a politician (e.g. Monckton or Gore), well that is a sign that they care more about the politics than the science.
Shouldn’t all real scientists be willing to point out where the politicians one”their side” of the issue have unambiguously gone wrong? My obsession with climate science began when I read reviews of Gore’s movie that refused to face up to the difference between correlation and cause-and-effect.
Lawyers (and politicians) are permitted/expected to abandon their “integrity” and present biased or incorrect information in ways they personally know is misleading because they participate in a system where “truth” is found through an adversarial process that guarantees both side equal time before an unbiased jury. Scientists attempt to arrive at truth through a consensus based on conclusions from experiments that are assumed to be published with all of the “ifs, ands, buts and caveats”. Participation in the political process is corrupting how climate science is done.
Climate scientists were relieved and honored when Gore picked up the communication task; climate scientists weren’t doing a very good job and most didn’t want to deal with it. Gore had an impressive staff of climate scientists fact checking etc., and I was contacted a few times by his staff (after the Inconvenient Truth). The basics were consistent with the IPCC, but there was no question that there was spin, etc. Scientists figured that this was the way you needed to communicate effectively to the public. This worked really well in the short term, but there has been a huge backlash to the climate community because of the Gore factor. Chalk it up mostly to scientist cluelessness in this environment (although Gore should have been much much more careful with what he said).
As opposed to the backlash caused by the misinformation campaign conducted by right-wing/industry groups?
Besides being a scientist, I am a student (of sorts) of US history. In the lecture series on the Civil War, Prof. David Blight notes that every revolution has a counterrevolution. The Civil War/Reconstruction revolution was followed by the Redemption movement. The Civil Rights era was followed by Wallace and the Republican Southern Strategy.
The point is that threatened interests fight back, and the idea that truth will win out is rather quaint. Monckton makes scientific arguments, and claims to be a science adviser. He represents an anti-science pushback, but it appears that the major criticisms on this site are directed towards working scientists who dare to speak out rather than on those who peddle false tales.
Not all opposition is ‘anti-science pushback’. Some of it is ‘anti-power grab pushback’ or ‘anti-government expansion pushback’. Just because someone opposes the political side of the AGW/ACC debate doesn’t make them anti-science.
Not all of us agree that the proper response to whatever climate change may or may not be occurring requires government action. And that’s something that seems to be missing from the discussion. Sometimes it seems that all responses to man-made climate problems are presumed to require government intervention. And that’s yet another reason for pushback.
I would consider Mockton’s advocacy as anti-science.
The obvious solution to CO2 emissions is to reduce CO2 emissions. If there is a way for this to happen without government being involved I’d be all for it, but so far I don’t see it happening.
The obvious solution to “CO2 emissions” is to reduce CO2 emissions, but the answer to “global warming might be happening, what should we do?” is not so obvious. Shall we mitigate? If so, through restrictions on consumption as proposed by the UN/IPCC or through development efforts to foster technological innovation? Shall we adapt prior to events, and if so, what should we prepare for? +6°C or a new ice age?
Simplicity have no space in a serious discussion on a potential problem.
Re: Avfuktare Vind (undefined NaN NaN:NaN),
“Renewables” scams sucking rental incomes from governments (= world populations and economies) bad.
Insert that in your pipe and chew it.
“The Gore Factor” — I like that.
It’s not all that difficult to dismiss Gore’s work as propagandistic. Perhaps that’s wrong, but it’s easy to do, as he appears to sensationalize and distort the actual science, skewing the story towards dire catastrophe.
Al Gore is a politician first and foremost (please correct me — I’d love to hear about his lifetime as an entrepreneur, creating private sector jobs).
Is it all that unreasonable to question his motives when trying to convince us all to get on board?
hertz was happy when they signed OJ as a spokesperson.
selecting spokespeople is a job best left to professionals. Gore and anyone in Hollywood are the worst people you could choose to convince the people who need to be convinced. Absolute worst selection.
actually, apart from the usual gore-haters, the message in that film was very powerful in enlightening millions of people around the world about the challenges of agw. an inconvenient truth indeed
Hi Judith. You claim, of Monckton, that “a few of his points are valid”.
OK, let’s make it easy. If you think Monckton has made even one valid point about climate science of any significance, in any forum, at any time, please tell us what you think it might be.
“The dogma post seems to have a struck a nerve, but both sides seem be talking past each other. One side sees the dogma as self-evident, the other side wants evidence.”
I find it quite troubling that you routinely characterise the discussion as “two sides” with people who criticise something you say being on “the other side”. Your tendency to view the issue that way is increasing rather than decreasing the polarisation because you think/speak/act in a fashion which takes two opposing sides as a given.
” People will have a hard time convincing me that the public behavior I see among a number of scientists (e.g. use of the word “denier”) is not well characterized by dogmatism.”
This is again problematic because you want to bring everyone to the table but you’ve already labelled the seats. People are telling you they can’t sit down because they don’t agree with the label you’ve put there but you don’t seem all that bothered, you just tell them you don’t want them at the table anyway.
As for the whole problem of “dogma”. Considering the number of candidates who ran for and got elected to the US Congress whose platform included the position that global warming is a hoax and a conspiracy I find it hard to believe the “dogma problem” is one which can be solved by asking scientists to change their behaviour.
Sharper, you are missing my point. I am not asking scientists to change their behavior, it is what it is, and they will maximize their personal opportunity (however they personally define it) to succeed in the system. I am saying that what we might think of as pure science has gotten caught up in something that is much bigger than us scientists, and unless we understand this and try to counter this in an effective way, both science and policy will suffer. The current understanding of this situation by some IPCC proponents is that the forces of evil (oil companies and all that) are causing problems for scientists because they want to make money. And they are called “deniers,” as if they are actually focused on denying the science. This tragically misunderstood situation has led to dogman behavior by the scientists, and is reflected by calling everyone who disagrees with them a “denier.” Many of the people that are called “denier” don’t give a toot about climate science; rather they are driven by economics or politics (or even religion). Any scientist that casts doubt on the IPCC is regarded as playing into the denier playbook, and then the skeptical scientists get labeled as deniers. I am trying to clarify this situation, which I regard as lunacy, unneccessary, and very damaging. There is no question that there are now two polarized sides (read the comments on the previous thread.) I am hoping that by better understanding this dynamic, we can get rid of some of the polarization. This may seem convoluted and polarizing to you, but I can’t think of any other way to do it (and I’ve tried a number of different things.)
“The current understanding of this situation by some IPCC proponents is that the forces of evil (oil companies and all that) are causing problems for scientists because they want to make money.”
Their understanding is at least partially correct, this is a real element of the debate. Some of the people you’re talking about may well overestimate this element or reflexively presume criticism to be a component of it but it’s real and has to be considered.
“And they are called “deniers,” as if they are actually focused on denying the science.”
Again yes some are focused on denying the science. This is another real component of the debate. The motivations for “denying the science” are various but they’re out there and in force. You just have to read the comments at wattsupwiththat to see it.
“This tragically misunderstood situation has led to dogman behavior by the scientists, and is reflected by calling everyone who disagrees with them a “denier.””
I’ve never performed a comprehensive analysis of the output of any individual scientist but my reading of the situation is that some scientists have decided to focus on debunking the “denier” element of the debate. Yes I agree some are likely too quick to put people in the “denier” category but it’s also not possible to simply pretend either that the category does not exist or to stop addressing it.
“Many of the people that are called “denier” don’t give a toot about climate science; rather they are driven by economics or politics (or even religion). “
I’ve had many conversations with people like this and my approach is to try and help them differentiate between the science part of the issue, the potential consequences part and the policy part. When they make points that intermixes those aspects seamlessly I don’t tell them they made “good points” and move on I isolate their points from the first two parts above and try to show them that their problem is not with science.
“Any scientist that casts doubt on the IPCC is regarded as playing into the playbook of people that oppose UNFCCC policies for economic/political/regious reasons), and then the skeptical scientists get labeled as deniers. I am trying to clarify this situation, which I regard as lunacy, unneccessary, and very damaging. “
Well the problem is your clarification is only serving to confuse and alienate. This suggests that it’s not really clarifying the situation at all which further suggests that your current understanding of the debate is not accurate.
I don’t believe that gaining a better understanding of the debate is beyond your abilities but you only appear to listen to a very small number of people, consequently your understanding is constrained by their biases. The understanding of all of the participants in the debate is essential to understanding the debate. Anthony Watts is not a contributor to climate science in the way Gavin Schmidt is but you need to understand both of them to understand the debate between them. You cannot simply reduce the debate down to a few realclimate posters on one side (who are all wrong) and every single skeptic on the other side (who must never have their motivations or opinions questioned).
You need to listen to more people than you currently are. You need to understand why people believe what they believe even if you think it’s wrong or foolish. Only when you show that you genuinely understand the participants will you attract more than cheerleaders of the type I highlighted before.
sharper00 has nailed it, Judith’s view if this issue is very narrow and completely one-sided
Pardon, your projection is showing. Dr. C has been listening with some care to both sides of the debate, as her articles here clearly demonstrate.
It is neigh on impossible in this day and age to make scrambled eggs without breaking some heads, sorry shells. Here, she is the chef, we are the eggs. I think she’s going to try and stir things up a little and raise the heat too.
Sorry if I sound dogmatic, but raising the heat is not the way to make an omelette:
At around 1:30, Jamie Oliver says:
> If you cook eggs to hard and too fast you get this horrible crispiness to it […]
Try the boiling frog analogy. If you slowly increase the heat, they don’t notice they are being boiled. Rapid addition of heat makes them pay attention.
This is a myth, Judith:
My statement is an analogy to a myth
Another way to break eggs is to throw them pointlessly against a wall. The action of breaking eggs may occur as part of a productive process however it does not in itself demand the existence of a productive process. I believe many of the people criticising Dr Curry are in good faith attempting to figure out why she’s breaking eggs but can’t see any cooking going on.
The eggs have already been broken (e.g. climategate and the other gates), I’m trying to figure out how we can clean up the mess and how/why the mess happened in the first place.
Humpy Dumpty comes to mind. It’s possible that there is no way to put it back together again if the AGW priesthood is unwilling, and those profiting from AGW want to keep their gravey train going.
Would it possible to consider that what you are trying to call a dogma is what Thomas Kuhn called a **paradigm**, or Imre Lakatos a **research programme**?
It’s not impossible to talk about a paradigm in crisis or a degenerating research programme. Even Ravetz’ misunderstood concept of post-normal science could be invoked.
There is no need to reinvent the wheel if what you want to talk about “is endemic and widely discussed in other fields”, there is a possibility that you’re trying to describe a process that is still scientific.
I’m not sure the people involved will prefer it. At least this will provide an important body of work and a thorough conceptual apparatus.
Stay tuned for the post next Tues, a superb guest post on the scientific method. The stuff I’m talking about on these threads is what happens at the science-policy interface, with big $$, politicians careers, values, economics, and scientific egos all interact in crazy chaotic dynamics. This is the kind of stuff that Jerome Ravetz writes about, it is an issue for the sociologists of science more than for the philosphers of science.
Nowadays, both sociologists and philosophers of science are working together:
Yes, this is very exciting stuff
Haha, I wish. You can’t be a half-decent sociologist of science without getting your nose into philosophy, but it’s still quite possible to be a philosopher of science without taking interest in what the sociologists have been up to.
Agreed. There will come up a time when Peirce and the Strong Program will conflict. I’ll wait next tuesday.
For this Sunday morning, I would prefer to talk about good ways to make omelettes.
From my understanding the Strong Program is basically dead – its protagonists have largely moved on, and even if you can still find its principles in operation no one ever identifies with it. It’s main place is in historical accounts or as a punching bag for critics (much the same role Feyerabend plays in terms of philosophy).
I thought the Strong description of “expertise” was interesting tho
Here is an article from 2010 entitled **Reports of the Death of the Sociology of Science Have Been Greatly Exaggerated**:
Thanks for the link, I’m saving that one – some good historical recap in the first bit.
“Sociology of science” as referred to there is the post-Mannheim pre-Kuhnian variety, typically identified with Robert Merton, interested largely in the institution of science (it’s reward structure, funding, demographics) and often thought to have been replaced by SSK/the strong program and its successors which were more interested in how scientific knowledge is produced or constructed. Sociology of science is a very big and popular field right now, though it’s quite interdisciplinary and usually goes by names such as science studies, STS, PUS, scientometrics, social epistomology etc. Armstrong and Blute recognize how ambiguous and inconsistent the naming gets, yet they still think they can get valuable information by classifying the names and counting publications to prove “sociology of science” isn’t dead yet. I’d have to take a second look at their article to do a better analysis, but maybe I should reconsider what to identify as my area. “Sociology of science” seemed very general and neutral since I was sick of people’s need to keep renaming the field to reflect changing interests, but if Blute and Armstrong are to be believed the term still has a consistent meaning. Maybe I’ll just stick to “science studies”.
And maybe Blute and Armstrong can found a sociology of the labeling of social studies of science.
…”both sides seem be talking past each other. One side sees the dogma as self-evident, the other side wants evidence.”
The soldiers in the trenches are the last to stop fighting.
Human beings are reductionist creatures who look for patterns and prefer overarching explanations. I think we’re ‘hard-wired’ for this. In our natural environment, this serves us well – we have to make quick decisions in response to what are often immediate threats to life and limb.
A return to the Socratic dictum, ‘The more I know, the more I realise I do not know,’ works better in a world of extraordinary complexity.
For my part, I’ve seen several volte-faces over my 28 years in medicine. I was told as a medical student that ‘stress’ had nothing to do with ischaemic heart disease or strokes. Now stress is back with mounting evidence that anxiety and depression contribute to vascular disease via common ‘pro-inflammatory’ mechanisms existing in both the systemic circulation and in our brains. I could go on about subject after subject but it would be O/T.
Most of these shifts in perspective seem to have been accomplished with very little by way of conflict or rancour until you find your way into the courtroom when suddenly all the shades of grey become become sundered into black and white. I do a lot of court work btw.
Dichotomies appear when the context becomes adversarial. In the medical setting, this usually devolves around the tawdry subject of money (eg, in worker’s compensation settings and the like). Unfortunately, in my experience, the good intentions hypothesis assumed by Taubes seem unsupportable when you find yourself reading specialist reports which would rate a ‘fail’ in a final year medical student.
Paradoxically, the lawyers (whose job is to present their clients case in the best light) actually seem to have good intentions by and large. I recall a conversation with a lawyer friend who defends worker’s comp claims who spoke in naively sincere praise of a number of doctors widely regarded as ‘guns for hire.’
You can well imagine that the practice of engaging experts who take up near indefensible positions vastly inflates legal costs and prolongs distress for injured parties (inflating eventual medical/societal costs).
How this translates into the behaviour of scientists to whom politicians look to for advice is a separate issue. The mere fact of being caught up in an adversarial world can distort your perspectives. I’d like to think that I acted with good intentions delivering honest assessments to the best of my ability. However, looking back on some of the things I’ve said in that kind of feverish atmosphere, I can see many occasions where I clearly could have exercised better judgment, ie, looked like a prize idiot.
The AGW debate seems to do this to people. Very few of us are much good at admitting we got/did something wrong and sometimes we can only do it years after the event.
Thanks for this analogy, it is very apt.
I second willard’s point about presenting a false dichotomy. I often use the labels “denier” or “crackpot” but not for everyone who counts themselves in the skeptic’s camp. There are degrees of everyone’s positions here from those who think the IPCC is wrong because it is much too conservative through those who think the IPCC got it perfectly right to those who think the arctic sea ice has recovered because the record low level is now three years old through those who believe the GHE violates the laws of thermodynamics.
I think you have to better define which groups you are supposedly trying to make peace between. Or do you think it is possible or practical for the scientific community to deal with Lindzen’s peer reviewed publications in the same way as a really poor WUWT post?
I think you really must define your terms and very carefully at that. Everyone reads them with their own particular baggage and all this leads to is emotion and irrational dialogues, or at best the “talking past each other” you are already unhappy about.
Is *everything* published on the internet deserving of entering the congressional record? or being mentioned in the next IPCC report? How would *you* decide what should or should not be covered?
Read any of Michael Mann’s recent interviews that discuss deniers. Then look at the blogs of scientists like Roger Pielke Sr. I do not particularly view my role as peacemaker (that was Lemonik); rather I am building bridges with skeptics and decision makers and the public who think climate science is total bunk. That the main issue is now how I can build bridges between myself and the 1% (or whatever) that are actual IPCC dogmans, supports my point about the dogmans.
Well, Mann does not really specificlly define who he means by deniers either. I have certainly never heard any of the real climate folks call Pielke Sr (or Jr for that matter) a “denier”. Besides, I was really for interested in your groupings.
It is certainly not a main issue for me how or if you can or want to build bridges between yourself and Mann, Gavin, Jones or any of the others you label as “dogman” but I confess I was under the misimmpression that you want to bridge the gap between them and “skeptics”.
But since it is a bridge from “skeptic” to policy makers (public and politicians) it becomes even more interesting to me as to how you are going to decide who should be heard. Should policy makers be listening to the “there is no GHE” people? How about the “arctic sea ice is recovering” crowd? What is certain enough in climate science that you feel you would not waste congressional hearing time on? Monckton may be a politician but he was called as an expert witness. Was this wise in your view?
Without ever coming out with some concrete distinctions somewhere everyone in your audience will just categorize themselves and everyone else any way it pleases their particular point. That is guaranteed to get nowhere.
Coby, I am not attempting to build bridges between Mann, Jones, Gavin and the skeptics (I regard that as hopeless). I am trying to build bridges with skeptics, who have come to distrust climate science because of Mann, Jones, Gavin. The whole point of what I am doing is to not pre-define who should be heard. Let there a broad spectrum of viewpoints (there is certainly enough uncertainty to support a range of perspectives). The scientists need to do a much better job of characterizing and exploring uncertainty (not just framing it and communicating it to the D students). Uncertainty is information to be used in the decision making process (this is Part II of Decision Making Under Uncertainty, which I am despairing of getting back to).
I am provoking people to think about this mess in ways they haven’t considered before, at least not hearing it from a fellow climate scientist. All I can do is expose people to new ideas and hope it provokes some thought and self reflection. Hey, everybody seems to be scrambling to claim they aren’t a dogman, that has to be a move in the right direction :)
How about the “arctic sea ice is recovering” crowd?
Or how about the changes in sea ice are normal variations, that the Arctic was ice free during other interglacial periods, that sea ice is an anomaly? Do they get a chance to be heard? Or do you include them as “deniers”?
coby @ 9:02am —
Why do you often use these labels?
Does it meet with approval from your fellow partisans? (From my reading, I presume it does.)
Does it offend and alienate reasonable people in the skeptics’ camp? I can ask, because your comment stipulates that such people exist. (From reading and firsthand experience, I can say that it does.)
What are you trying to accomplish by writing blog comments? Who is your intended audience? What promotes dialog, if that is your aim?
Poop. Messed up blockquotes…
Coby, tell me this. You describe a hapless bunch of people that are scientifically ignorant but who for whatever reason care enough about climate to come to the internet and ask questions. If you asked this same group of people why we have seasons, most probably couldn’t answer. Do we call them “season deniers”?
Now lets talk about the “deniers” that Michael Mann refers to, the ones that have blown up energy/climate policy and make it necessary to hire a lawyer. The “deniers” in the first group are completely irrelevant here; at least in the U.S., climate change is not an issue that drives voters. Monckton and the oil companies are about politics and money. Half of Monckton’s act criticizes the behavior of climate scientists, which is fair game. So pretending that these guys are denying science is just a red herring, they are about politics and money. Equating what the Koch brothers and Monckton are up to with science denial assumes that IPCC climate science should dictate climate/energy policy (the stuff of dogmans.)
The whole denier thing makes no sense to me, and as a result the climate scientists have been shooting arrows at the wrong targets and pitching BB gun pellets at guys with kevlar vests.
You describe a hapless bunch of people that are scientifically ignorant but who for whatever reason care enough about climate to come to the internet and ask questions.
Coby clearly asked that people “note carefully the example arguments I have mentioned above and understand that it is not a broad brush slur on everyone who questions something from the IPCC.”
If you think Coby was lying, then defend that. Otherwise, simply ignoring what someone writes and arguing against straw men of your own creation hardly “promotes dialog.”
??? PDA, how do you interpret what I said to be “coby is lying”???? I am trying to understand Michael Mann’s deniers. I thought maybe Coby could provide some insights, since he was talking about deniers.
PDA, my statement responds to this description of Coby’s:
““Skeptics” come to my How to Talk to a Sceptic site all the time with various versions of the same arguments over and over. I try to give every visitor the assumption of sincere interest and a chance to defend their point of view (an effort that has been slipping over the years, I think I am tired) but the majority are immune to logic and scientific reason even on the trivial points like “weather is not climate” and “arctic sea ice is increasing“. ”
I agree with Coby, there is not point to spending time on such people. They are asking him about science. They are clearly clueless. They have no political power. Equating these people with Monckton makes no sense to me, he is a totally different category. This lumping of both into a label of “denier” implies that the stupid questions of science illiterate people are important. Monckton is important, but to me entirely unrelated to this other group.
(Replied at the end, seemed to be getting rather indented on my screen)
Thanks for the detailed reply.
There are indeed some people who have taken on a mission of educating people who are misinformed on climate-related issues, but are unaware of the limits of their, er, dogma. The blogger at ScienceOfDoom comes to mind. If your contribution is similar, then my hat is off to you (your Scienceblogs links aren’t working right now, from my location).
As I noted to another Pro-AGW-Consensus commenter, one potential problem with being upset that “Someone on the Internet is wrong!” is that it make it easy to skip past the notion that some of the people who disagree with you actually do have ideas or observations that are worth consideration.
This happens a lot in the Climate Wars, on all sides (if you hadn’t noticed). I see it a Bug, though it seems safe to say that some Climate Warriors (all sides) consider it to be a Feature.
So in your view people, regardless of who they are, educated people who wish to challenge the AGW faith, present possible alternatives, viable and logical alternatives based on evidence are deniers or crackpots? Just want to know where most of us here stand in your mind.
No, I welcome with interest viable and logical alternatives based on evidence.
I do however hold out little hope when the encounter begins with references to “AGW faith” or “religion”.
Ok, I’ll drop that reference if you look at this seriously: http://cdnsurfacetemps.blogspot.com/2010/02/southern-ontario.html as one example of evidence that does not support CO2 “warming” the planet. Unless you can explain how CO2’s heat retention abilities makes summers cooler.
The hypothesis being that the planet is returning to its normal state of short mild winters. Deep cold winters is what is abnormal. The hypothesis being we didn’t cause this “warm” trend, this “warm” trend spawned this advanced industrialized society.
Okay, I have watched one of the two video presentations on that page (the first).
If I may summarize for interested readers who do not want to follow the link and spend the 6 minutes required: the author of the page is using temperature data from a station(s?) in southern ontario to show primarily two things: one is that summer temperatures are not increasing, only winter temperatures are increasing therefore it is not in fact getting warmer it is only getting less cold (there is no argument that the seasonally averaged trend is rising); two is that the slight averaged rise is extremely small compared to the daily and seasonal temperature fluctuations. It is very nicely done, clearly presented graphics that support the argument well. I dislike the unecessary insinuation that this is something being delibrately hidden and the usual CRU and GISS global trend graphs are a deception.
But despite being well supported, the first argument itself is flawed in at least two fundamental ways. Firstly, the whole thing is an analysis of southern ontario versus the GISS global temperature analysis. Doesn’t that strike you as inappropriate, drawing a global conclusion from a single small part of the globe? Secondly, it is not convincing to me that just because it is only “less cold” (aka warmer) in the winter and not the summer that it is unfair to still say the climate overall is warming. Everyone involved in global temperature analyses defines what they mean when presenting average temperature, and that is globally and seasonally averaged temperatures. It is not unknown, or covered up or ignored that seasons may respond differently. I don’t know if your page’s author is actually correct in this summer/winter claim, I have no reason to doubt the numbers and their crunching, regardless an average is an average, this is simple statistics, not a trick. I do know that it is well known that aside from seasons, another observational feature is that nightime and daytime anomalies are different, nighttime is warming faster. This is actually strong evidence that it is in fact an enhanced GHE we are looking at and evidece it is not solar forcing. But again, these are interesting and important details, but they do not in anyway make the average temperature trend deceptive.
The second argument is what’s known as an arguement from incredulity. The trend looks so small, 0.8oC over 100 years, when the temperatures flucuate 10’s of degrees in a single 24 hr period, more than 100 degrees C summer to winter in some places. But that does not mean one’s incredulous intuition is right! Any scientist involved in the study of ecosystems will tell you how incredible sensitive some organisms can be to tiny changes. But for me the strongest evidence that small flucuations can have tremendous impact comes from the ice core and sediment records of the glacial/interglacial cycles. Here we can see that the difference between the climate the globe has today and one where kilometre thick ice sheets extended well into the continental US is a mere 5oC! 5 degrees, heck a good Chinook wind could make the temperature go up 4 times that from the time I left for school as a boy in Alberta and the time I got home. But when you are talking about climate, and not weather, 5oC is, apparently, huge.
I have written this comment up as a post at my own place as it is a bit off topic here I welcome your response over there.
will do because the reply is long
Sorry, it was not willard’s point, it was sharper00
Well, this is one side of the argument against your feedback loop theory, but it misses the other side. First that you have misjudged the chronology on how the IPCC formed, second, echoed by many, that it was too broad brushed (von Storch and Kloor), it doesn’t take into account how the IPCC bureaucracy has turned over several times over the years (Eli Rabbet), you’ve never provided proof as to how the IPCC’s control extends out into the academic realm, and it completely overlooks all the other possibilities, ie, the strength of the science is robust and the risk dire enough to receive to the amount of funding, attention, etc. and any other option at the time would have been outrageous, especially considering that what has been predicted is currently happening.
I think moving on, and then adding to the argument without dealing with these important details only weakens your argument.
To paraphrase Einstein:
Climate is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.
I am sure you have good intentions. IMO, the reason your posts are getting so much attention is that you are insulting the audience you wish to engage. If you rewind and rewrote your posts without the ridiculous generalizations, you would probably get a great discussion.
Your Italian flag is perhaps a good analogy. Let’s assume 1% are the fundamental “skeptics” (let’s make them green) and 1% are the fanatic climate scientistist (let’s make them red). The majority of the climate science community lies in the 98% white part. You even implied this in one of your comments that there was a spectrum of people. You wrote your posts with an all out attack on the red 1% and in the process greatly offended the 98% that is white. At least, I hope you were writing about the 1%, if you weren’t, frankly, you are on the wrong planet.
Another issue is you totally mischaracterise the IPCC and its relation to climate scientists. All the climate scientists I know think the IPCC should have quite a few changes. Maybe not as you would like, but your audience thinks changes are needed. Yet, you imply they are fundamental IPCCists. I am not aware of any climate scientists that keeps the AR4 in their bed side table, worships the high priests (who are?), and tries to convert everyone they see in the street. If this is not what you mean, then I suggest a change of language could be productive.
I suspect the reason people ask you to name names, is they cant fathom what you are writing. You dont need a long list, but when you write IPCC dogma, for example, you could follow with “as is demonstated by the behaviour of X”. Otherwise, since you use the term “climate scientist” you are implying that it is me that you talk about.
Perhaps also mention some good climate scientists, for example, “X does great research and engages with those interested in their research”. Or are you implying all scientists are dogmatic?
This could be a great discussion, but it is hard to find the content amongst the generalizations and innuendo.
Glen, my original feedback loop post clearly identified who i was talking about, which is basically your 1%. This 1% has an inordinately high public profile. And they have influenced a much larger body of climate scientists (and other scientists) into going along with them, because they are brought into this by working to fight the good fight against the war on science by the dark forces. And this perspective becomes institutionalized by, well, institutions. and so on.
I know because I got caught up in all this stuff during the period 2005-2006. I felt all this, and I wanted to fight the good fight against the dark forces, especially when I saw them attacking the part of climate science that I was personally associated with. Then I started to talking to the so-called “dark forces.” I began seeing uncertainty, I began understanding the range of motives, getting a glimpse of how complicated this whole situation was. The release of the emails turned on a big lightbulb in my head, in terms of how wrong that approach was in dealing with the situation, and how poorly the IPCC defenders understood their “enemy.”
As a very quick example of that sort of behaviour, you might consider the “Eleven” that Tom Wigley wrote to. (0880476729.txt.) Tom’s letter does set out a lot of the issues between the normal scientists and the activist scientists quite clearly. It’s not the whole story with regard to the disagreement here, but it’s an example that might act as a starting point for understanding.
Tom, and presumably others, evidently realised and were concerned about this long ago. It’s only a shame they couldn’t say it in public.
The majority of the climate science community lies in the 98% white part.
Excuse me, but those who preach the AGW Gospel claim there are only 2% of climate scientists in the white part. We get the same mantra all the time “98% of climate scientists accept AGW as fact!” That’s the red part.
The 2% seems to be red. Everyone ignores the white, where the silent majority lies, presumably with a spectrum of opinions on all this.
I suspect in reality the red is less than 1%, just the 99% in the white are too scared to be vocal (present company excepted of course). It’s just funny that a supporter of AGW now claims their support is only 2% not the 98% we keep hearing from them. Telling indeed.
well it all depends on the population. The 1% by my definition is the dogmans, not the people that generally agree with the IPCC science.
The way I read Glen’s flag was that the 1%s on either side were the dogmatists, and that the overwhelming majority of people are in a range between. Again, though, a lack of clarity and specificity thwarts discussion. Maybe Glen can explain what he meant.
I meant the 1% on either side are the dogmatists.
Having said that, jrwakefield wrote ‘We get the same mantra all the time “98% of climate scientists accept AGW as fact!”’. I would say that 98% in the white do believe that AGW is real in a general sense. That does not mean they believe every word of the IPCC reports as gospel and it does not mean they believe that there are no uncertainties. This is the problem of making generalizations! Very few fit a generalization exactly.
It is futile to make a generalization of a climate scientists in the context of an IPCC report. Perhaps only if you consider WGI. For example, many people associated with WGIII will know nothing about what I would call “climate science”. I dont believe there would be a single person who knows enough to support everying thing in an IPCC report (most people are specialists on a particilar aspect that may cover only a few pages of an IPCC report).
Very few people are black or white, they are shades of grey. So dont put them in a box of black or white.
Please don’t. We have seen what Big Tobacco did to science, and what the pharma companies are doing to medicine. Unfortunately funding needs to come from government. See no choice in that (other than foundations). That means the onus is on the scientists to be honest, which is what the peer review process was supposed to do. But in climate science it got too politicized, and hence dogmatic.
So, if “he who has the gold makes the rules”, are we objectively better off to have the government holding the purse strings? Is the science trading one self-interested master for another?
I agree with you on that, BTW.
But I see similar (and potentially worse) bad outcomes with the state holding the purse strings. One of those outcomes is (at least in part) the subject of today’s discussion.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, the dilemma for funding science is not easy to solve. Unfortunately, science is not capable of funding itself. The best course of action I see is for government to fund the science, since the outcome of science is for all of society anyway, but hands off. The position of science should be to government “you fund us but stay out of our way.” Pipe dream I know.
Big Tobacco and Pharma were/are only able to corrupt science insofar as government protection in the form of ATF and FDA allowed/allows. If their science were truly private, it would succeed or fail on its merits and be much less dangerous. Regulatory capture is inevitable in government dominated endeavors. The only question is who makes the capture.
Judy, if in the fiber story, something equivalent to the Climategate emails had landed in the public domain, what would have happened? Would the issue have been taken up by a US government agency or would the govt have been content with inquiries from a provincial UK university with the flaws of the present inquiries?
My guess is that the answer depends on which party is in power. If the Republicans, then there would have been government hearings (because politically they don’t like climate change). For the Democrats, I am sensing some gnashing and consternation behind the scenes (Steven Chu has made some pretty interesting public statements about all this), trying to figure out how to fix the problems. I am sensing the Democrats don’t want to go public with this for fear it will interfere with climate/energy policy (which is why the Republicans are interested in going public with this.) But the vibes I am picking up (for what they are worth) is that Steven Chu wants to get more robust information (esp data) to support the decision making. I don’t think the Democrats are interested in investigating individual wrongdoing, whereas the Republicans would be, on this particular issue.
Re: curryja (undefined NaN NaN:NaN),
Does Chu want to get more robust data to support decisions already made, or the process? AFAIK, he is a committed mitigator, and has shown no inclination to entertain other options.
“Mistakes were made, but not by me”. In the wake of Climategate and the IAC report on the IPCC, it has become ever more evident that a great many scientists were simply following the IPCC reports and the core scientists in the “red” section of the flag. Many of them now feel their trust in these authorities was somewhat misplaced. Dr Curry has always clearly referred to the core IPCC personages, including also key researchers and blogs, not to the “silent majority” (ranging from quasi-skeptics through indifferent to quasi-believers). But a large portion of the silent majority itself is now uneasy, especially in the “quasi believer” range of the spectrum, and will welcome a clearer separation from the core, and a chance to quietly withdraw to a more balanced range of opinions.
The 1% cited as being for or against AGW is unlikely to be accurate in the context of global population; the vast majority are otherwise preoccupied. If one assumes this relates to those who take an active interest in the AGW debate, there are probably significantly more than 1% at each end of the spectrum. Whatever the shortcomings of the recent Scientific American survey, it showed polarisation in the realms of >30%. John McLean’s analysis of AR4 found only 53 authors and 5 reviews explicitly supported the claim of human influence on climate. 166 climate scientists signed the Copenhagen Challenge to Ban Ki Moon and >700 international scientists made submissions to the US Senate dissenting from the “consensus”. A thorough Italian flag analysis would be instructive.
Well, the the PNAS paper (with Schneider as a co-author) has a data base for attempting this. The categorization was crazy, whereby Sun Akasofu (a highly regarded solar physicist that is a skeptic) was left off the skeptics list because his expertise isn’t relevant (well I guess they don’t consider solar variability relevant). Resorting the people on that list, first sorting out the scientists that have some expertise on detection and attribution from the others, then into red, white, green based upon where they stand relative to IPCC’s attribution statement. I think this analysis might give quite a different message than the one in the PNAS paper.
I will go have a look at that, thanks.
Perhaps a well thought out survey in the blogosphere, properly adjudicated could be useful not least it could include non-scientists who have studied the evidence (or at least taken an interest).
Well, I’ve written my last post and I feel it only appropriate that my last comment appear here.
Best of luck, Dr. Curry. I hope you are able to quickly sort out those who wish to engage with you from those who are only looking to impeach your testimony, as they conflate blog posting with scientific pronouncements.
This series of threads has been entertaining as well as illuminating, serving pretty much as a Rorschach test for those who have commented so far. What little I have to add is probably not new.
The biggest mistakes warmists make are:
1. Equating the certainty of different things. Gravity is not at all similar to the sensitivity of earth’s atmosphere to a doubling in the concentrations of CO2 therein.
2. Wrongly equating all who oppose them with the worst that oppose them.
3. Wrongly equating those who dispute a particular with those who dispute the whole.
4. I think they may have a small problem with uncertainty, as well.
The main problems with skeptics are:
1. Assumption that this is a political plot with political ends, as opposed to a scientific investigation being hijacked where possible by a few unscrupulous actors.
2. Unwillingness to wait for the fullness of time and data before declaring victory.
3. A blindness to certain effects in the biosphere of climate change, some which have arrived and some which can be easily predicted.
4. Equating all opponents with the worst of them.
Lukewarmers? Hey, we’re all perfect…
I’m not certain that we are dealing with dogma when it comes to the warmist brigade. I think it’s more of a political set of talking points that are rushed out in response to certain cues. After all, the warmists have been able to shift their responses at times, as the politics of the day demanded.
I’ll close with what were, for me, the lessons of Climategate in all of this:
There are those in the warmist camp willing to defend the indefensible. There is no justifiable context for Phil Jones plea to delete emails in advance of FOIA, and other actions revealed by the Climategate emails. None.
The absence of a suitable response from the ‘adults’ in the warmist community to the issues raised by Climategate have led to the introduction this past year of more ‘juvenile’ (in methodology and expertise only) efforts to attack skeptics–I refer of course to Prall, Schneider et al, the attacks on Wegman, and Angliss’ attempt to use numerology to eliminate evidence of malfeasance. Because of lack of skill, these efforts appear to have failed, but I would not be surprised if more skillful attempts gain traction in the upcoming year.
And I regret not being able to be part of the discussion over the next year or two.
Dr. Curry, there is a concerted effort to trash you underway at present, led by some really unscrupulous actors who have honed their craft on lesser figures participating in the blogosphere discussion on climate issues. They include bloggers such as Michael Tobis and Eli Rabett, their coterie of devoted commenters, and fed by behind the scenes emails from some who do not participate publicly.
I hope you are successful in keeping your head above water with all of this–certainly both Pielkes managed to survive, but people like Andrew Revkin suffered.
The only advice I would give you at this point is to blog less frequently–let the comment wars play out more fully and you can participate more completely in the discussions.
I wish you the best of luck and hope I can look in from time to time.
Sayonara? No, a better word is aloha.
Wish you luck in your new endeavors.
Let’s see how long he can actually stay cold turkey :)
So is “the intersection of science, funding, politicians, media and public policy doomed to create bad science” ?
Well, social scientists have made careers out of studying these intersections, and always come up with juicy criticisms of the process (and usually without good models to replace them).
So, “doomed”? In a way, yes, and sure the result is “bad science”, but only because the science necessarily becomes saddled with extra considerations. Even then such politicized science often produces good enough knowledge to act on, which is often simply the point. It may not reflect the state of the “pure” science, but may be still be useful (though it can be equally useful for stalling as well as action).
The problem seems to be pushing the square peg of science, which doesn’t have much of a way of reaching decisions other than peer-review and the slow march of scientific progress, through the round hole of political decision making. Advisory bodies have to be created, regulatory bodies, special panels, a consensus is formed, and once the issue gets big enough to be part of the public sphere then the counter-experts start coming out of the woodwork.
What’s the alternative? I wish I had a good one – for now it’s to expect less of science in the political arena, and better understand how science works outside the political arena. Hopefully one day I’ll have a more productive idea to contribute.
Judith, in your previous thread, I asked what you thought the climate literature would look five years out if you had autocratic control of all NSF and UN grants, but with the proviso that you only granted academics who studied global cooling. I realize this is just a thought experiment, but it would reveal some telling tales. Would the waring sides take opposite positions, e.g. would the Romms of the world now advocate burning more carbon to mitigate cooling? I propose these thought experiments reveal true motivation. I would be fascinated with your answer.
Bob, that burn some carbon to delay ice-age impacts is one thing I sometimes raise. As a matter of policy, we should be ensuring we leave our descendants enough geologic carbon resources that they could afford to do a back-burn (to use firefighting terminology) to modify their climate enough to maintain agriculture and civilisation for a few 10s of thousands of years.
sharper00 | November 7, 2010 at 10:11 said:
“The understanding of all of the participants in the debate is essential to understanding the debate.”
IMO, you make a fair and cogent point.
It gave me an idea that maybe Dr. Curry could consider.
Perhaps we could have a thread in which people are invited, in perhaps 250 words or less, to describe where they think they stand on climate issues. If this thread could be linked to in some permanent way (Maybe a “Contributor profile” link next to Home, About and Blog Rules at the top of every page?), it would serve as a quick way to check where a contributor was coming from, and help moderate knee-jerk responses.
I think it would also serve to enlighten us all about the range of views on what we might consider the “opposite” side. I think it quite true that there is an all-round tendency to lump people into extreme categories when there are in fact all shades of opinion in what is really a spectrum.
Maybe it could be the recommended place for newbies to start their posting history. It would be easy to find someone in the thread simply using one’s browser search facility. Of course, there would need not to be any discussion on the thread so that there wouldn’t be multiple entries for people.
Jeff Id did something like this, it was extremely cool, I intend to replicate it here, was waiting for the Climate Etc. to establish itself, i think it is definitely established. Does anyone have Jeff Id’s link to this? maybe we could do this next weekend (when i am on travel and won’t be able to participate much).
I nearly wore out my middle mouse button, but I think I found the thread at the Air Vent:
I see he even thought to have a permanent link at the top of the page as I suggested – could have gone there straight away if I’d assumed he’d have thought of it!
Any way, glad you like the idea and I think it would be helpful for us all.
Thank you, will start this next Thurs eve.
Lysenkoism is the classic 20th century example of dogmatism distorting science.
See The Rise and fall of Lysenko Science 149 (3681) 275-278, 1965
The essence of Lysenkoism or scientific dogmatism is individuals gaining influence over powerful politicians (or the public) resulting in directing/controlling funding and employment to further their beliefs (dogma).
Catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) is the late 20th century version that is distorting scientific funding, hiring, peer review, and then government energy policy. e.g. California’s AB32.
The underlying issue of “dogmatism” is systematizing perceived “truth”. The classic “dogma” is systematizing transcendent revelation from the Torah or Bible. The conflicts arise over holding differing collations of the underlying text.
In equivalent in science is the conflicts over viewpoints, policies etc. built on top of the underlying scientific observations and models. The major scientific differences Climate alarmists” (AGW) vs “Climate realists” (“skeptics”) are in how well the global warming models emulate the observations.
Restore climate science to focusing on comprehensive inclusion of all significant natural and anthropogenic influences. (IPCC has dismissed or ignored many issues that appear to indicate much larger natural causes or beneficial consequences.)
Objectively apply the Principles of Scientific Forecasting with stringent policy neutrality in evaluation and presentation.
Judith, I spend too much time here, so I had better try to contribute.
I have for many years been a student of the corrosive effects of ideology on science. This was prompted originally by works of Jacob Bronowski, Primo Levi, Charles Mackay, and an abiding interest in the history of I G Farben. As a guide, primarily for myself, I developed a set of characteristics of ideologues, to better recognize and interpret their behavior. (These are based in part on some ideas of John Ralston Saul in his “Unconscious Civilization”). Perhaps they can help discussion on this thread, by allowing avoidance of the emotive term “dogma”.
There are five attributes of ideologues:
1. Absence of doubt
2. Intolerance of debate
3. Appeal to authority
4. A desire to convince others of the ideological “truth”
5. A willingness to punish those that don’t concur
Note that each of these characteristics is anathema to science. (Which, by the way, is demonstrated nicely by this blog).
My original engagement in the climate change imbroglio arose from these interest. I have spent more than four decades in many disciplines in the physical sciences and mathematics; there seemed to me to be too many abject absurdities in “public” climate science for there not to be something else going on. The ideology – as defined above – is obvious, from the CRU e-mails, from some of the “pro-AGW” websites, from IPCC activities, and particularly from some of the longer comments in recent threads here.
What is interesting in this fray is that, in my experience, this is the only time that a publicly significant ideology has arisen from the science (or rather its practitioners), and the politics has followed. Neither has been improved.
Very nice, thank you! you’ve definitely paid your dues for lurking :)
Good post, Nick.
Perusing the characteristics of ideologues, I can think of some on both sides of the debate. I think some of those on either side tend to paint everyone on the other the colour of ideology. Hopefully when Dr. Curry puts up the contributor profile thread, we’ll see that a majority aren’t ideologues and some more productive dialogue can ensue.
Like you I don’t think the term “dogmatic’ is fruitful. The behaviors that interested me the most in the mails were.
A. the set of questionable behaviors directed towards “outsiders” and their normal requests for data. These behaviors did not serve the interests of science and in the end they did not serve the policy interests of someone like me who believes that we ought to act .
B. the set of questionable behaviors directed at other members of scientific community. The regulatory behaviors aimed at constructing consensus messages.
You can’t win a debate in the internet world by trying to control the message or slim your opponent. You can delay the debate, you can circle around the debate, you can divert attention from the debate, you can ignore the debate, but in the end you can only win the debate by actually having it. The freer the better.
Someday, somewhere it will be known who “leaked” the Climategate files. He/she will be remembered for creating the tipping point in climatology discussion. Nobel Prize?
When and if the story dies down, it can always be resurrected by the whodunnit meme.
You would think that people understood the vital importance of the unsolved mystery to the extension of the story.
re this quote from the email you received:
“The only element that seems to be missing is the internet with its blogs capable of disseminating adverse information to a wider audience (the lack of which might explain the apparent lack of bitter acrimony).”
I think the element missing is that of compulsion. I think the public is well aware of the contradictory claims diet, but can d.ecide for themselves whether to be governed by them or not. I can choose to order eggs for breakfast whether I’ve been told this week that they’re the food of the gods or deadly poison. Policies that affect energy costs will affect everyone without recourse. That makes the stakes different.
Judith, there are numerous example of dogma in medicine. The most glaring was gastrointestinal ulcers. The dogma was “no acid, no ulcer”. The entire establishment dogma warned susceptible patients against acid and spicy foods. A medical scientist in Australia, who was ridiculed in the literature and professional meetings for proposing it was a bacterial infection, painstakingly employed Koch’s postulates and eventually proved that GI ulcers were caused by a bacterium by the name of Heliobacter pylori. After 30 years he was awarded the Nobel prize in Medicine.
Yes, the ulcer story is amazing, there are numerous examples in medicine, and also food/nutrition (I was going to go that route until I received the email, which said it perfectly).
If anything, the case of a single scientist doing painstaking research and overturning the accepted theory of an entire field is evidence that science is not dogmatic.
This is another example of how speaking in generalizations is unhelpful. The whole dogma meme assumes that there’s significant science that’s being suppressed or undervalued. I realize that this is an article of faith for some, and for all I know there is some truth to the assertion. But merely accepting that as fact is question-begging, in my opinion.
I intensely dislike the “meme” meme. It is so dismissive and superior-sounding. Maybe you don’t realise it, so I’m not intending to be harsh; just saying.
I think the example of Helicobacter is a very good example of how dogmatism delays progress, and not only in science.
Of course, there’s also the countercurrent, namely that in the end, dogmatism can be overcome if someone is brave and persistent enough, and if mechanisms for paradigm shifting haven’t become completely ossified.
I don’t think it was speaking in generalisations. It was more about giving a helpful specific example to clarify the nature of dogmatism when it occurs, particularly in science.
Well, I am dismissive of the dogma whateveryouwannacallit: not because I think I am intellectually superior, but because I think it is poorly argued. Resistance to some ideas is not a priori evidence of dogma any more than a single word in the headline of a piece in a popular science magazine.
If it can be shown that good science is routinely being ignored simply because it challenges accepted understanding of climate, that would be a much stronger case
The word “meme” has an unfortunate vagueness to it through its association with online culture. In this case I meant it in the original Dawkinsian sense.
“Resistance to some ideas is not a priori evidence of dogma any more than a single word in the headline of a piece in a popular science magazine. ”
Granted. But Helicobactor is a classic recent example of perfectly good science being rejected out of hand, and obstructed.
I appreciate this kind of thing has to be balanced against the dangers of accepting uncritically any old idea that comes along.
It’s a difficult balance, to be sure; but the scientific community has not as yet found a way of ensuring the balance is always right. Sometimes, like it or not, agree with it or not, dogmatism does interfere with scientific progress.
I think there’s a difference between this sort of scientific conservatism – even excessive conservatism – and dogmatism.
Look at the dictionary definition provided in the main post. The difference is not one of degree, but of kind.
I see what you’re saying, but at some point, I think conservatism goes beyond a natural tendency to be prudent and morphs into bloody-mindedness. Right about then is when dogmatism sets in.
If it can be shown that good science is routinely being ignored simply because it challenges accepted understanding of climate, that would be a much stronger case
And that is EXACTLY what the High Priests of AGW have been doing. Dismissing solar science. Dismissing natural variability as anything major. Dismissing that climate today has also happened many times in the past. Dismissing that the MWP was “warmer” than today. Dismissing the evidence that past warm periods were good. Those are just a few.
And the AGW faithful call us “deniers”, gezz.
Science eventually wins out in the end. The issue is how much the scientist has to fight against dogmatists or whatever to even get a hearing.
More significantly, its about the scientific problems that don’t get addressed, because all of the funding is focused in a particular area, and it is far simpler and more rewarding for an individual scientist just to embellish the IPCC story line.
“because all of the funding is focused in a particular area, and it is far simpler and more rewarding for an individual scientist just to embellish the IPCC story line.”
“All of the funding” really Judith? Can you support that with some hard numbers please? Have you received funds for climate related research? Undoubtedly. What does that make you then?
And what do you mean by the “IPCC” story line? IIRC, the AR4 etc. represent a synthesis of the body of knowledge and science e out there. The data and observations and physics are dictating how things unfold. It is not the IPCC’s fault that their is consilience…..
Mapleleaf, what it makes me is a lot less reliant on government funding for what I do. Much of what I do is now funded by private sector and NGOs (like the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center), and done on my own time (like this blog).
Working for NGO is admirable, I have no qualms with that. Nor do I have a problem with you receiving government funds or funds from the private sector per se.
So, no numbers then ….just sweeping generalizations? You can do better…please?
Please do not be so vague. Judith, have you have in the past, or perhaps even recently received government funding for climate related research? It is a very simple and relevant question with regards to your assertions that your peers are riding some alleged “gravy train” (like you fan base, I can read between the lines).
And you did not answer my question about exactly what you mean when you say “IPCC story line”. That statement has negative connotations. Was that a fluke or intentional?
Yes, i’ve received government funding for my work. I can get proposals funded for boring work (stuff that is mostly already finished); the real stuff i want to do is “bootlegged” on my own time or at Georgia Tech’s expense. Note, I have never gotten a nickel of government $$ for hurricane research, just a small contract from World Bank Latin America.
Now does that not make you a hypocrite, accusing your peers or riding an alleged ‘gravy train’ (my words not yours), when you have benefitted from those same government funds? By careful of throwing stones in glass houses Judith.
And most scientists have done research etc. on their own time and sometimes even on their own dime…it is because we are passionate about our work. Sorry, but you are not unique in that regard.
And please, a clarification on your framing of the IPCC
as catering to a ‘story line’. That is an especially important point to clarify. Otherwise some might, rightly, accuse you of making stuff up.
Ok, i admit to receiving government grants to support my research. And . . . ? If you you are wondering why I don’t reply to your questions, I can’t figure out what they are.
You are your own person and well able to take care of yourself. But for whatever it’s worth, it’s my opinion that Maple is a concern troll.
The more you respond, the more s/he will delve into matters that are irrelevant and only designed to disrupt your blog. S/he will exploit your patience and courtesy relentlessly. I for one have already ceased communications with him/her.
If you do not respond, eventually s/he will get fed up and go away.
Probably, but I do pay attention to PDA since he has been a constructive participant, and he is engaging with MapleLeaf
This is getting really tiresome. Please read my posts carefully. Re funding, you say “And…?” Because, as I said:
“Now does that not make you a hypocrite, accusing your peers or riding an alleged ‘gravy train’ (my words not yours), when you have benefitted from those same government funds? By careful of throwing stones in glass houses Judith.”
You make a comment about the “IPCC story line”. So here is my question again:
“And you did not answer my question about exactly what you mean when you say “IPCC story line”[you have still not clarified exactly what you meant by that]. That statement has negative connotations. Was that a fluke or intentional?”
I will provide links to my other posts/questions ASAP.
I find it rather rich that you are defending funding, but hold it against skeptics as being “biased” such as getting an honorarium from the Heartland Institute. How about the funding that RC gets from EMS? Is that OK, or does that make RC biased?
exactly Judith. We have the same problem with biologists in fact, just try mentioning any theory than evolution and they go nuts with their dogmatism. They too are all on the funding gravy train. If you denounce evolution your funding tends to dry up. Sad times.
We have a creationist here? Intelligent design supporter? Don’t get started.
Yes, indeed. I was one who underwent a major and difficult operation to overcome excess acid (highly selective vagotomy), and two years later discovered that it had all been unnecessary, at least for the type of ulcer I had.
I have used this example in what I write to suggest that the consensus of the day can be overturned by new evidence and new experiments.
I wonder a little (just a little) whether or not much of the aggro arises from different types of personality, those who are innately sceptical versus those who are innately confident.
I couldn’t refrain from commenting on the ulcer story both as doctor and as an ulcer patient. Current orthodoxy claims near universal agreement that Helicobacter pylori is the cause of peptic ulcers. However, like everything in science, this is grossly oversimplified. I had my ulcer diagnosed, underwent the ‘triple therapy’ comprising antibiotics and an acid suppressing drug, but still get symptoms whenever I try to stop taking my ‘proton pump inhibitor’ (what a fancy name for an acid suppressing drug :-) – but in fairness, the proton pump inhibitors seem to be vastly more effective than older acid suppressing drugs).
In my experience as doctor, numerous patients seem to be in the same boat – Helicobacter no doubt is part of the story but I find it hard to accept it as an overarching explanation.
In medical school, the notion of whether ‘stress’ caused ulcers was still debated. Now, the ‘consensus’ rules out stress. However, proponents of stress are coming out of the woodwork again. Some suggest that the adverse consequences of ‘stress’ on the immune system might impact on vulnerability to Helicobacter. Patients with closed head injuries and in intensive care units, for example, are particularly at risk of so-called ‘stress ulcers.’
None of this is discussed with acrimony or rancour – doctors quietly go about treating individual patients according to their needs.
Manufacturers of proton pump inhibitors certainly aren’t upset to find their drugs being used long term while the antibiotics used to eliminate Helicobacter are widely used elsewhere.
At the same time, the surgeons who used to do vagotomies have plenty of other patients to make up their lists.
In other words, no one’s financial interests or professional turf is under any palpable threat – hence, no vast battles in the blogosphere nor accusations of malfeasance.
I’ve been wondering when someone would point out the evident similarities between diet/health and climate science, and their relation to public policy decisions.
I suppose one could call me a low-fat-diet skeptic as well as a AGW/ACC skeptic.
Put the dogma concept aside for a moment. Let’s look at a very much less flattering analogy. A psycho-physiological one.
Are the IPCC and NSF the psychological equivalent to Ivan Pavlov?
Are the IPCC supporting grant seeking climate scientists like Pavlov’s dogs?
If the IPCC and NSF are the Pavlov programmers that trained the climate scientist Pavlov dogs, then who decided what stimulus would be used to create the desired behavior in the climate scientists? Is it the ideologues*** / ideological environmentalists?
***for the word ‘ideologues’ I thank Nick Darby | November 7, 2010 at 11:25 am
Ideologues might be a better word for what I am talking about. In fact I’m pretty sure it is. If i do a part III on this, it will be ideologues. The whole dogma thing was in response to “heretics” in Lemonick’s article (it begged for there to be dogma). Let me see if I have an angle for a new post, but I might just feature Nick’s post.
Judith, you have no reason to think otherwise. Dogma is very appropriate for what is happening in climate science. Everyone agrees with you on that except the AGW faithful trying, in vane, to make their case and deminish what you are doing. Do Not heed to them. They are the very people that need to be challenged.
Remeber the remark made that they are preparing something bigger for you. Thus, no pussyfooting here, the gloves need to come off. AGW has done too much damage economically to be overly kind. The longer it is allowed to fester in policy the more damage will be done.
I missed the part where “they are preparing something bigger for you.” More tempests from the little tyrants in the blogosphere? I’ll have to get a copy of the note I received from Georgia Tech’s President Bud Peterson, i will post it on the blog. I seem to be one of the few climate scientist with a public profile that hasn’t been receiving any e-threats. Nobody from either side dares mess with my emails, there is too much that each side wouldn’t like to be made public (besides, I don’t keep my emails for more than about 6 months anyways.) So if somebody wants to go after me, whatever they manage to do will come back to bite them.
Tom Fuller this post:
“Dr. Curry, there is a concerted effort to trash you underway at present, led by some really unscrupulous actors who have honed their craft on lesser figures participating in the blogosphere discussion on climate issues. “
Well, they’ve been trying to do this for the last year. Yawn. But we’ll see what they come up with . . . should be entertaining at least. Keep me informed, because I’m ignoring it.
“Thus, no pussyfooting here, the gloves need to come off.”
Jr, are you threatening Dr. Curry and/or her peers? Come on, enough already.
Threaten Judith? What ever would give you that idea? I applaud what she is doing!
As for threats, as I have noted before, you people have caused great economic damage in the name of “saving the planet”. You are raping not just my bank account, but all middle class people’s. Your “science” is manifesting into government policy that is threaten the economy, and the lives of ordinary people. The threat comes from your side “the world will end!” I’m trying to defend myself from your policies.
Here is an example of what you are doing: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/886860–california-vote-illuminates-ontario-s-energy-future#article
More wind turbines for us. More solar panels for us. And with that utility bills that are forcing people from their homes (and yes, I have names, want to email them and ask?)
From my perspective, I see a very one-sided perspective on who is being dogmatic.
Scientists and bloggers need to stand up and refute the many misleading and dogmatic “facts” being presented by the “denialist” side.
They have even co-opted the term sceptic, and use it in a fashion far removed from its usual meaning. I would certainly describe Hansen, Mann, Jones and the rest as sceptics for they are most likely to examine the evidence and be willing to change their conclusion if the evidence merits. I would even put Pielke Sr, Specer and Christy in that group. But for Watts and his crowd don’t deserve the title due to their dogmatic refusal to examine and understand the science.
A lot of poster, lurkers and others would be well served to visit the Science of Doom website and basic science textbooks utill they understand the greenhouse effect and see why the CO2 effect is somewhat logarithmic.
As well there is the dogmatic insistence that the climategate emails must be investigated until a guilty verdict is reached, even though, at least in the country I live in, that kind of evidence is inadmissible in court. It is fruit of the poison vine.
It is still mentioned that one of them directed others to delete emails in advance of FOI requests, and there is no evidence that directive was ever acted upon. He should have watched a few mission impossible episodes and known that that was the first email he should have deleted and it is painfully obvious that he did not.
And there is the dogmatic insistence that since M&M refuted the first hockey stick to the tune of a significant error of 0.05 C, than all other graphs that have a hockey stick look to them are thereby refuted as well.
There is a dogmatic insistence that AGW is a global conspiracy to enact a new world government, ect.
Dogma, dogma by all means lets get rid of it.
Dogma is if you keep refusing to accept our arguments against man-made global warming. Why don’t you just admit we are right and that man-made global warming is a political hoax? That way both sides will be able to finally agree.
Cause I worship the ground that Planck, Einstein, Heisenberg, Curie (both), Bohr, Pauling, Dirac and Schrodinger and others walked on.
Your arguments have been soundly refuted time and time again which is why your side is the one holding the dogma.
As far as I know, no one has refuted the black body radiation concept nor the fact that carbon dioxide absorbs in the infared.
Give it up, your side hasn’t a shred of evidence on its side.
(Physicists and Ecologists make for very strange bedfellows)
Which one was an ecologist?
Lol. No, the (background) cheerleader squad.
Bobdroege says: “As far as I know, no one has refuted the black body radiation concept nor the fact that carbon dioxide absorbs in the infared.”
No sceptic denies these two facts. But the earth is not a black body like the moon. Radiation physics only gets 1 or 1.5 deg C warming from doubling CO2. The rest is a POSTULATE of the climate models and results from water vapor and cloud amplification. It is very difficult to study this amplification directly and it is officially listed by IPCC as very uncertain. Saying “it is physics” is an attempt to play a trump card, but this trick doesn’t work here.
Aside from your no true scotsman fallacy about no sceptics denying the basic tenets of carbon dioxide causing global warming, check this site for positive proof of the water vapor feedback.
Didn’t inferno just say AGW was a political hoax?
Doesn’t waters vapor pressure increase with temperature?
Is that a basic scientific fact or not?
The warmer the troposphere, the more water that can exist in its vapor phase, thus the more warming.
It is true that the IPCC says it is uncertain, but that uncertainty lies not in the existence of the feedback, but in the actual value.
And it is not the only positive feedback, but I’m sure you know that.
There is a dogmatic insistence that AGW is a global conspiracy to enact a new world government, ect.
Damn right there is! You got a problem with that?
(See Fight Kyoto Book Excerpt featured in the Calgary Sun and Edmonton Sun
… or am I missing something here?)
Judith, I find this whole affair to be fascinating inspite of some the ugliness and hope it will ultimately lead to a greater refinement of how science/policy/advocacy intersect and serve the public good.
In a similar vein, earlier this year was the story of how The Lancet faced pressure to supress “good news” on maternal health. This may already be familiar to yourself and your readers but I thought was worth a mention.
Judith: If I might shorten your post (and forgive me if I’ve got it wrong) ….. In the realm of all things AGW you see bitter that acrimony (which you are trying to understand) appears to be harming the practice, and our understanding of, climate science.
As I wrote in my comment re positive feedback part II, I found the climate blogosphere while seeking ways to deal with bitter acrimony aimed at me. I’m sorry to say that I still don’t understand why people behave the way they do, and why many people think so much differently than I do. (I often joke that I’d be a millionaire if I did understand.) I’m pessimistic that we’ll be able to find ways to get disparate sides to listen to each other and work towards common ground.
I think this “sides taking” phenomenon, especially by ideologues as described by Nick Darby above, is simply part of human nature that is extremely robust to change. Perhaps by trying to force others to change is one reason why things have gotten to be, at least in my view, quite a mess.
A personal note on sides taking: I am not one who likes to take sides, and it was eye opening to me when I was labeled as part of the “dark side.” All of this hunkering in bunkers hampers real progress towards solutions. The solutions (again in my view), must embrace compromise simply because there are disparate sides. I know a few ideologues who have publically stated there can be no compromise, so darned if I know what to do.
As for getting climate science back on track …. I think you probably realize there are those in academia who don’t think climate science is off track or in any way compromised. Maybe they’re right. The thing is however, climate scientists don’t only work in academia. There are many others out there who work for advocacy organizations, think tanks, industry, regulatory agencies, and the media. Any and all of these scientists might not think they’ve crossed the line, compromised their ethics, or misused the scientific method while at the very same time they believe some of their brothers and sisters in science absolutely have.
Perhaps it is, that much of the conflict blanketing climate science, which I believe you have begun to identify, lies in how we measure uncertainty and characterize risk. I believe it a worthy endeavor to improve our knowledge of uncertainty and risk in climate science. However, again, it’s part of human nature that some people are big risk takers, while others tend to be more guarded. If, as a matter of policy response, the precautionary principle is our guide, I don’t see the possibility of compromise.
….. you see that bitter acrimony …….
not “you see bitter that acrimony “……
Both the word ‘skeptic’ and the climate science consensus coined word ‘denier’ imply the existence of some significant body of belief to which they apply their skepticism or denierism. That significant body of belief would be the IPCC supported so-called ‘consensus/settled’ climate science.
The skeptical/denier views are disparate critiques of the IPCC supported so-called ‘consensus/settled’ climate science. Skepticism/dinierism has no consolidated / or shared view, except coincidentally. So, if dogma exists in the skeptical/denialist arena then it is a personal individualistic phenomena where there is no widely shared common dogma. If there is dogma in the sckeptic/dinier world it is, so to speak, egoistic-dogma on belief system Dogma (with the capital D). : )
The two cases have no common basis for comparison.
Note: Of interest is the view of Dr. Lindzen that skeptic is not a good name for us skeptics. He said in an interview with the BBC in early October 2010, “Let me explain why I don’t like it (the name skeptic). You know to be skeptical assumes there is a strong presumptive case but you have your doubts. I think we are dealing with a situation where there is not a strong presumptive case.”
Correction to above comment:
The sentence should read, ” If there is dogma in the sckeptic/dinier world it is, so to speak, egoistic-dogma NOTbelief system Dogma (with the capital D). : )”
Sorry for that.
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Jeez. If that’s a correction, pls don’t bother in future!
No institution, no dogma?
Did you read the definition of an ideologue as set out by Nick Darby and then have your post include all five components?
Well, I admit I read his post, but did not deliberately set out to fill each bullet point.
But I do disagree with you that I met each point.
1. Yes there is no doubt that there is a greenhouse effect due to mans burning of fossil fuels injecting CO2 into the atmosphere.
2. I welcome the debate, however I do tire of hearing the same old, same old arguments against AGW that have been soundly refuted time and time again.
3. Right, appeal to authority, I made it and stand by it, and until they take Max Planck’s Nobel Prize away from him as well as a dozen or so given to the developers of Quantum Mechanics, then you will have to consider the science I was referencing as valid.
But, really, what was my appeal to authority?
4. Yes, I do have a desire to convince people to get the science right, there is a lot at stake.
5. You are mistaken on this one, I have not advocated any punishment for those who disagree with me, contrary to the linch mob out for the CRU group and others.
Isn’t there a danger that you are just adding fuel to the fire by talking about ‘two sides talking past eachother’, and the ‘war with skeptics’?
At the risk of stating the obvious, the establishment of dogma concerning AGW appears to suffer from classic ‘confirmation bias’. There is a good summary of that human fallability in wiki here
including, in the section on scientific procedure, this quote-
‘A distinguishing feature of scientific thinking is the search for falsifying as well as confirming evidence. However, many times in the history of science, scientists have resisted new discoveries by selectively interpreting or ignoring unfavorable data. Previous research has shown that the assessment of the quality of scientific studies seems to be particularly vulnerable to confirmation bias. It has been found several times that scientists rate studies that report findings consistent with their prior beliefs more favorably than studies reporting findings inconsistent with their previous beliefs. However, assuming that the research question is relevant, the experimental design adequate and the data are clearly and comprehensively described, the found results should be of importance to the scientific community and should not be viewed prejudicially—regardless of whether they conform to current theoretical predictions. Confirmation bias may thus be especially harmful to objective evaluations regarding nonconforming results, since biased individuals may regard opposing evidence to be weak in principle and give little serious thought to revising their beliefs. Scientific innovators often meet with resistance from the scientific community, and research presenting controversial results frequently receives harsh peer review. In the context of scientific research, confirmation biases can sustain theories or research programs in the face of inadequate or even contradictory evidence.’
You shouldn’t use wikipedia as a soure, William Colony has editted all the articles, or at least most of them and we can’t know what is true and what isn’t anymore. Stick to a good encyclopedia, that’s what I tell my students, they get an automatic F if they reference wikipedia.
Wise advice. But in this case, I think you will find it WC pollution-free, if you check the entry edit history.
Dogmatism at work.
As promised, here are the links to the relevant posts in which I ask you to elaborate on some things and to clarify you position on some matters. Thanks.
1) From the “Ending the war with skeptics” thread
2) From the “dogma” thread
3) Also from the “dogma” thread
You are accusing Curry of being American. You are a Suzukibot.
The dogma has been around since the inception of the IPCC.
The fact is that the Sun controls the climate. It’s always been the Sun, has nothing to do with CO2 and I am sticking to that because I know it’s true. I mean just look at the Sun (don’t actually look at it with the naked eye), it’s massive – a huge ball of fire in the sky literally burning the Earth. That’s your global warming.
I consider myself very open minded and get incensed that these dogmatic warmists refusing to accept the truth. They want nothing more than to return us to the stone age and/or the dark ages and tax us. That’s their plan and their tool is the United Nations, which is essentially a world government in waiting.
This is the first time I’ve had nothing to say!
Admiration? Yes, that is a good word.
I’m shocked :)
Politics of science is a matter of the opinion, so anyone can indulge; on the other hand science itself is somewhat different. Two are often in the reverse proportion.
As far as natural cycles are concerned here is one (NAP) I am currently considering, not that many here would bother to look, even less to take any interest in, but again this is a politics rather than science blog.
it is science (climate) and politics and other stuff (etc.) Politics is the order of the day with one year anniversary of climategate. We will get back to science soon.
Politics is moved forward by consensus, while the science is advanced by reasoning of an individual; climate or otherwise.
But that is the glaring mistake here. Relative to other considerations , the scientific considerations are dwindling. You are letting yourself get sucked into the focus.
I was never particularly bothered by what Mann and Jones do with data, or the ‘climategate’ and ‘hockey stick, but what I can find and see in the data available.
It would be good to see some science discussion.
The only thing I would know of changing currents is by the different balance this planet has with the different mass differences to water distances with rotation that would generate the planetary wobble.
There is something else to possibly consider is that H2 18O has been leaching from the ice for many years settling on the oceans floor. Is it possible the mass has pushed the currents up from the ocean’s floor?
For some reason NASA has the illusion that any water found must be drinkable. We have three types on this planet carrying different isotopes. H2 16 O is our normal water, H2 18 O is heavy water we are exposed to in extremely small amounts and H2 17 O extremely rare.
Every Ice Age high amounts of H2 18 O are found in ceratain shellfish in ocean core studies on the ocean’s floor.
Velocity of the ocean currents is variable, depending on a number of factors. Clockwise and counter-clockwise circulation has an effect on LOD, specially in the equatorial regions. Effect of two opposite directions does not cancel for simple reason that lower latitude leg of a gyre is more effective, as far as LOD effect is concerned. Also of particular importance is velocity gradient of the Antarctica’s Circumpolar current.
What many people do not factor in is that water is compressed gases.
Hence, there is a factor of unpredictablity.
The pressure exerted and differences in water depths to the speed of planetary rotation gives us currents to the shore of differing land mass shapes.
For those who do not appreciate role of the ratio of solids and liquids (be that water or liquid interior if there is one) in the LOD, I suggest a simple experiment: spin in turn one fresh and one hard boiled egg and observe the difference.
Now your talking my language!
Each layer of that egg has a different density. The egg having a shell contains the centrifugal force energy from flying out BUT the speed of the rotation can break the egg shell if spun fast enough in the fresh egg due to the density exerting pressure on the shell. The hard boiled egg is no longer in a liquid form but a solid form and can also shift the density but not to the extreme of the liquid. The shifting of the center of balance is the key to understanding how and why centrifugal force does what it does.
Any motion can shift the density and center of balance of an object.
We are so used to looking at a whole object like a car but not realizing there are many parts inside with varying densities and mass.
According to my dictionary, dogma is defined as a doctrine relating to a matter of faith and set forth in an authoritative manner by an institution (such as a Church).
The CAGW hypothesis qualifies as dogma given the ongoing assertion that the science is ‘settled’ in the face of gross uncertainties, and that nearly all defense of CAGW by its proponents tends to be from an ‘appeal to authority’ position (certainly my experience at RealClimate).
High confidence in the face of extreme uncertainty is faith and when that faith is institutionalized, as CAGW has become, then ‘dogma’ would seem to be the right label for it.
Even the fact that a scientific proposition should rely on the crutch of ‘consensus’ tells me that there is something wrong with that science. Consensus it would seem is only necessary in a science where theories are largely untestable (and the Climategate emails opened my eyes to just how manufactured the CAGW ‘consensus’ really is).
The crux of the conflict from my skeptical viewpoint is that confidence in CAGW is misplaced given the scope of uncertainty and that that uncertainty is being summarily dismissed or glossed over by CAGW proponents and the IPCC. Until the uncertainties are addressed honestly and comprehensively, and given proper emphasis, I don’t see the gap being bridged.
That’s one of the reasons, Judith, I find your blog so valuable. You seem to appreciate the importance of the problem of uncertainty and are seeking to find ways to deal with it. That gives me some encouragement.
AGW is settled. CAGW is a threat based on that settled science.
Or in other-words Anthropogenic Global Warming is settled science. Humans are warming the Earth. I would add this is rather underestimating our effect though, given that we are also acidifying the oceans and changing other elements of the climate.
This could all (or part) lead to your ‘C’, Catastrophe.
Where uncertainty comes into the picture is to prevent us concluding that catastrophe is unlikely. Thus CAGW, or the threat of continued emissions as I like to put it, is real.
AGW is settled only to the extent that we can all agree that human activity does influence climate and that human-produced GHG’s warm the atmosphere.
The conflict is over the extent of that effect and whether it could potentially be catastrophic (or perhaps beneficial). No one’s arguing that there is some element of AGW. That’s a none issue and a distraction.
I don’t understand your comment that, “Where uncertainty comes into the picture is to prevent us concluding that catastrophe is unlikely. Thus CAGW, or the threat of continued emissions as I like to put it, is real.”
How is it that uncertainty prevents us “concluding that catastrophe is unlikely” makes the threat of CAGW real? I don’t follow.
Because a threat doesn’t require certainty that something will definitely happen.
No, but it does require a high degree of certainty. This comes back to my argument that if you are so concerned about a possible threat from AGW, then why are you not voicing that same sentement about people living in active tectonic zones? We know for a fact that hundreds of thousands are killed because of that. But I don’t see any of your people advocating spending trillions moving all those cities and people out of harm’s way. Since not one person has died because of the effects of AGW, why should we give that all the effort and money to protect us from AGW and not active tectonic zones?
AGW is settled. CAGW is a threat based on that settled science.
Another dogmatist joins the group. Thanks for providing the evidence that Judith is refering to.
Now all you AGW supporters, going to challenge this absurd, unscientific comment?
I doubt Judith considers my statement dogmatic. If you are confident, why not ask her.
MapleLeaf, you going to respond to this?
(reply to Judith, refers to this thread upstream)
Coby, tell me this. You describe a hapless bunch of people that are scientifically ignorant but who for whatever reason care enough about climate to come to the internet and ask questions.
They also come to tell me I am a religious zealot defending my IPCC bible, thanks for giving them more ammo! ;-)
If you asked this same group of people why we have seasons, most probably couldn’t answer. Do we call them “season deniers”?
I would chuckle to myself and ignore them. However, if they were part of a political movement that was influencing the gov’t to sell all its snow-blowers and sand trucks because this whole “winter is coming” thing is a hoax, I just might escalate the rhetoric! Would it be dogmatic of me in this situation to write an op-ed denouncing the “winter skeptics” as either scientifically ignorant or dishonest?
One thing that gets lost in the history of climate wars is the fact that the “denier” label came about as a response to the misappropriation of the term “skeptic”. For most of the nonsense that forms the public debate about climate science this is not an appropriate term. It is not skepticism to declare the world is not warming because a single record out of many shows cooling (satellites many years ago), then declare “the world is warming, but very little” when that record is corrected up, and then “you can’t trust satellites anyway” when they agree with all other indicators. Real skeptics question and doubt, but they also change their minds as evidence piles up. One huge problem with the narrative you proposed in the first “dogma” thread is that it requires us to believe that there are almost no true scientific skeptics in the climate science community, or at the very least they are a vast minority.
Now lets talk about the “deniers” that Michael Mann refers to, the ones that have blown up energy/climate policy and make it necessary to hire a lawyer. The “deniers” in the first group are completely irrelevant here; at least in the U.S., climate change is not an issue that drives voters.
But why is that? It isn’t that way in every country and it wasn’t always this way in the US and it is not a given that it will stay that way. You can not possibly be unaware of the PR war being waged against the IPCC report and its conclusions, why do they do it if public opinion is not important?
Monckton and the oil companies are about politics and money. Half of Monckton’s act criticizes the behavior of climate scientists, which is fair game. So pretending that these guys are denying science is just a red herring, they are about politics and money. Equating what the Koch brothers and Monckton are up to with science denial assumes that IPCC climate science should dictate climate/energy policy (the stuff of dogmans.)
Monckton and the organizations the Koch brothers fund definately do deny the science, what do you think Monckton’s testimony was about? Seriously. And there is no logical connection between the fact that they are all about politics and money and the conclusion that they therefore are not involved in undermining the science. Nor can I make sense of your connection of that to a belief that the IPCC science should dictate policy.
The IPCC conclusions do not dictate what the policy response should be, but it should inform it. The policy discussion is not going to be a rational or useful one if part of the dialogue is about what hoax the whole thing is. But the scientific understanding we have developed as summarized by the IPCC and affirmed by virtually every relevant scientific body in the US and abroad, together with completely common place social and ethical values about conservation, infrastructure development and food and water management (that apply in all kinds of other policy arenas as well) does call for a response of some kind.
Most of Koch’s funds end up supporting lobbyists, as far as I know; Pat Michaels can’t be paid all that much? I would be interested in a breakdown here, do you know if anyone has done this?
by the way, CEI operates on a relative shoestring. About $5M total annual budget, with 25% of that going to climate issues.
And the enviro advocacy groups spend much more on this. the money trail has never added up for me. I’ve always figured it was more about politics and values.
Reason for being dubious: An arrogant, smug, narrow sighted twerp.
‘Science’ has nothing to do with my doubts regarding your credibility. Your overfocussed forward looking preoccupation makes me mistrust you.
A scientist making a sensible suggestion to another of scientist that it would be a good idea for Mann to release his code… (in response to Mcintyre & Mckitrick)
I agree with most of what has been said so far. Reproducibility is the key word. If the Mann el al material (to be) posted on the website is sufficient to ensure reproducibility, then there is no compelling need to force them to hand it out. If not,then the source code is warranted.
Also, even if there is no compelling need to make the source code public, doing it anyway would clearly be beneficial for the entire debate.
Department of physical resource theory
Chalmers University of Technology
Professor Azar (just to make the point)
“Also, even if there is no compelling need to make the source code public, doing it anyway would clearly be beneficial for the entire debate.”
Beneficial for the entire debate.
A very sensible scientist in my mind, going by Phil Jones’ reply, it would seem that others agreed, sharing the code would be a good idea.
Phil Jones reponded saying not to, a dangerous precedent, copying all those that Profesor Azar had emailed.. He then forwarded a copy to Michael Mann saying PLEASE DELETE.
Your Eyes Only, don’t show Ray or Malcolm.
(never discussed at RealClimate the above)
It is a shame thatthe code was not released then, RealClimate have just said it might be a good idea to archive code, without so much as a blush.
But accoring to Michael Mann sceptics are attacking ‘climate scientists’, well I applaud Professor Azar, and Tom Wrigley for his Pre-kyoto consensus response.
“One thing that gets lost in the history of climate wars is the fact that the “denier” label came about as a response to the misappropriation of the term “skeptic”.”
Sorry but you are wrong here. The expression ‘climate denier’ was used much earlier than ‘climate skeptic’. Bill Gray was one of the original deniers who to my knowledge hasn’t changed his mind a single bit since the 1990s.
The expression ‘climate skeptic’ was first used by Bjorn Lomborg who first set out to prove wrong the claim by the economist Julian Simon that the world is getting better. When he failed in his endeavor and somewhat changed is mind, he was then chastised by is old friend in the environmental movement. Just like Judith is criticized today for engaging the skeptic.
Even Pat Michaels, who could be called a denier of the worst kind doesn’t reject the AGW, though he reject that it is catastrophe.
Roger Pielke sr, who is not a skeptic, has been called a synonym of crank, by Chris Colose on another platform, for doubting the ability of climate model projections. While Pielke sr criticized the narrow view of the IPCC, he doesn’t doubt the importance of AGW.
Roger Pielke jr, who fully endorse the IPCC report, has been demonized for simply proposing different policy solution.
The narrative proposed by some, like realclimate, that skeptics/deniers evolved their argument from rejection that globe is warming, to yes it is warming but it is natural, to it won’t be that bad, etc, is false and misleading.
The evolution has been in the media and not amongst the skeptic. Bill Gray, Pat Michaels, Richard Lindzen, etc. have change very little to their position they were holding more than a decade ago. The evolution comes from the media using someone different to reach to when in need of a different opinion.
Sorry but you are wrong here. The expression ‘climate denier’ was used much earlier than ‘climate skeptic’.
I would be interested in seeing some supporting material for that, I may have a misimpression based too much on my own experiences.
Roger Pielke sr, who is not a skeptic, has been called a synonym of crank, by Chris Colose on another platform, for doubting the ability of climate model projections.
I suspect this is an oversimplification? Is that how Chris would summarize it? :-)
Roger Pielke jr, who fully endorse the IPCC report, has been demonized for simply proposing different policy solution.
As one who you would undoubtably include in the demonizer group, I assure you you have my objections to his blogging presence quite wrong.
The narrative proposed by some, like realclimate, that skeptics/deniers evolved their argument from rejection that globe is warming, to yes it is warming but it is natural, to it won’t be that bad, etc, is false and misleading.
It is pretty hard to characterize a group as diverse as what we all seem to lump in as “skeptics” but there certainly is evidence of that progression. It fits very well my personal perceptions but absent a rigorous survey of blog/media/think tank articles I can’t rule out confirmation bias.
The evolution has been in the media and not amongst the skeptic. Bill Gray, Pat Michaels, Richard Lindzen, etc. have change very little to their position they were holding more than a decade ago. The evolution comes from the media using someone different to reach to when in need of a different opinion.
I have never taken the term “climate skeptic” to mean only that handful of real climate scientists. Hmmm..wouldn’t some take the holding firm on a position for more than a decade as “dogmatism”?
“I ould be interested in seeing some supporting material for that, I may have a misimpression based too much on my own experiences.”
Will Gray is the first and true denier. I’m not sure when he came out with his “AGW is myth” claim, but it was in the late 1980s, after Hansen’s testimony to congress, where he presented the the scenarios A,B,C. Or it was around the Montreal protocol which created the UNFCCC a few years before Kyoto. While skeptics made their appearance following Lomborg’s book. Since Lomborg seems to take some idea from other without accrediting them he might have taken that one from someone else. But skeptic really took of after the publishing of his book.
“I suspect this is an oversimplification? Is that how Chris would summarize it? ”
It is a claim he made around 2008 on Myspace. The term he used was way worst than “crank”.
“As one who you would undoubtably include in the demonizer group, I assure you you have my objections to his blogging presence quite wrong.”
Well he is very well demonized by Realclimate (which felt the need to edit some of is comment), climate progress (who won’t publish his comment), Stoat and others.
Mann even objected to a somewhat favorable review of his latest book
This is the kind of absurdity that throw me off. Mann and Schmidt are the main reason I don’t trust a lot of climate scientist. I admit that I had a bad opinion of Judith up to the point she invited Steve Mc at Georgia tech.
“It is pretty hard to characterize a group as diverse as what we all seem to lump in as “skeptics” but there certainly is evidence of that progression. It fits very well my personal perceptions but absent a rigorous survey of blog/media/think tank articles I can’t rule out confirmation bias.”
Maybe this progression can be seen in some think tank organization but not among scientist. These claim have all been made by different scientist at different time, and I never saw any link between them, that would show a coordinated effort. There is a lot of disagreement between skeptics themselves. Without dogma/ideology their would be a lot of disagreement between the IPCC member also
“I have never taken the term “climate skeptic” to mean only that handful of real climate scientists. Hmmm..wouldn’t some take the holding firm on a position for more than a decade as “dogmatism”?”
Don’t confused being a dogmatist with being opinionated. Dogma doesn’t come from someone who refused to change his mind, but from a group who call heretic anyone who dares presenting an opinion different from the grou^p.
“People will have a hard time convincing me that the public behavior I see among a number of scientists (e.g. use of the word “denier”) is not well characterized by dogmatism.”
Ergo, if somebody calls a flat earther a denier, it is a sign that (s)he is a round earth dogmatist?
And rather than “unfounded positiveness in matters of opinion”, we’re talking about evidence based scientific viewpoints in matters of physics. I’m still at a loss as to the extent of your conflating these two.
Bart. The use of the term “denier” by the AGW Faithful was misused, deliberately I might add. You are just reenforcing why. It’s a common practice of the AGW faithful to mix up events with mechanisms.
Those who believe in a flat earth reject the facts. Those who reject AGW are rejecting the theory. Two different things entirely. Those who reject the facts are denying the facts. Those who reject theories (the mechanism by which the factual events are caused by) are not deniers, can’t be. You can’t deny a theory. You either agree with it or reject it.
But then again, the AGW faithful think their theory is fact. Hence dogma.
yet people do manage to deny the theory of evolution
And how many of them deny it because it has never been explained properly to them?
If you’re given only wrong reasons, or no reasons at all, and just told to believe it, what is the proper scientific thing to do?
i think it only applies if they are deliberately trying to find excuses to not accept it
No, creationists deny the evidence for evolution, mostly they deny the existence of selection and long term changes seen in the fossil record (such as denying intermediates). They are thus denying the facts. From there they reject “macro” evolution (they have no choice but to accept “micro” evolution). Creationists are also full of contradictions on what they do and do not deny or reject.
I was part of the early moment in the 1980s challenging creationism getting to the schools. Including solving one of their big “evidence”. Wiki Polonium halos.
And global warming skeptics deny the greenhouse effect, that human activity is increasing CO2.
Obviously not all of them, but a sufficient number argue such silly things and they seem to be the loudest. They clog up all the blog comments and news sections. At least I don’t see why I can’t refer to people rejecting the greenhouse effect as denying it.
And there are contradictions:
There just are a lot of skeptics who are simply denying manmade global warming. That’s how the contradictions happen because they aren’t basing their claims on a consistent framework but are just hack and slashing manmade global warming with whatever they can and so don’t spot contradictions.
You might not be like that, I am just describing the bulk of the climate skeptic group out there as I see it. There may be sensible skeptics out there but they are not the loudest. Take Icecap.us for example.
“I’m a Denier”
And because I oppose Obama, I’m a Racist.
And because I despise Pelosi and Boxer, I’m a chauvinist.
And because I trust any random selection of businesses more than government, I’m a Fascist.
The casual use of “ist” insults gets so old so fast that it becomes risible, and perverse persons like me take up the labels as badges of honor.
So tape it and stick it.
There just are a lot of skeptics who are simply denying manmade global warming.
AGW is a theory, not a fact. It is a mechanism used to explain the facts. I do not deny the facts (increased CO2 from FF, the GHE of CO2). I reject the theory that those together are the cause of any changes in the climate.
You’re not responding to the crux of my argument.
I’m quite well aware that the question of the shape of the earth is better constrained than the question of climate change. My point was not to equate the two, but rather to show that Curry’s reasoning (that use of the word “denier” is a sign of dogma) was not logical, as it would logically lead to the kind of nonsensical statements as I gave an example of.
Reductio ad absurdum: The implications of Curry’s argument logically lead to an absurd consequence.
I tried to respond to your crux in my comment below.
As I tried to make clear, if I met a flat-Earther I would still consider them to be incorrect, and I would not have any high expectation of being persuaded otherwise. And if I was not inclined at the time to engage in a long diversion into eccentricity I might well ignore them or put them off. But I wouldn’t call them a ‘denier’ or ‘irrational’ or ‘anti-science’ or a ‘crank’ or ‘McFraudit’ or any other epithets until at the least I had determined why they thought as they did, and whether there was any justification for it.
And if I am going to categorise someone that way, I do it on the basis of the fallacies they rely on, not the conclusions they draw.
As I said, if a person does not know, or has not been told what the real reasoning and evidence is even for something like whether the world is flat, then I would find scepticism-out-of-principle to be a perfectly acceptable stance, not at all deserving of being named “denier”. If some thought had been put into it, I might even consider it slightly superior to that of a person who insisted forcefully that the world was round, but didn’t have a clue why – although so long as they don’t claim their belief to be on scientific grounds I would have no objection to that either.
On many other topics I am just as ignorant – I am in no position to throw stones.
It is perhaps a case of taking the scientific philosophy to extremes. I consider sceptics to be a valuable resource to science, to be nurtured and encouraged. We need such people, even to ask the stupid questions, and definitely to ask the more intelligent ones. If somebody turns up on your doorstep, motivated to study your work and check the details, for free no less, then you make sure they’re taught what they need to know and you set them to work. Whatever they’re capable of and willing to do.
Regarding scepticism in and of itself, even of long-standing and strongly confirmed theories, as somehow undesirable in science seems to me to get it backwards. It’s not the scientific conclusions that are most important, it’s the scientific method. So it depends on their reasons for disagreement.
+1 for the +10; glad to see I’m having some sort of influence…
Nullius in Verba,
Thank you for a logical analysis of the skeptical role in the philosophy of science.
My way of thinking about what you said follows.
If the method is scrupulously scientific and shared (data, method and code) completely, then it is science. It is science even if the conclusion is found to have major errors.
But if the method is not scientific and/or if it is not shared (data, method and code) completely then the conclusion is irrelevant to science. This case is the classic scientific non sequitur.
This “flat Earther” accusation has a certain amount of rhetorical baggage, but perhaps I can use it to illuminate.
If I was to meet a genuine flat Earther, my first question would be to ask “why?” Are they aware of what the evidence actually is – or have they simply been told all their life that the world is round, just as an isolated fact, but never told why, or how it is known? (That’s quite common, and I regard scepticism-out-of-principle in that circumstance to be perfectly scientific and acceptable.) Do they have a specific misunderstanding? Have they latched on to some fallacy or paradoxical argument? Are they perhaps just using different definitions? Do they perhaps understand the point perfectly well, but are making a particular point in a perverse way to draw attention and teach it better?
For example, there was a time when the official definition of “optically flat” was such – something to do with the ratio of irregularities to surface area – that the surface of the Earth met the definition, and was “flat”.
Or to make the point that some of the evidence commonly used to persuade people that it was round was not as watertight as claimed. I have met people who responded to the usual line about ships vanishing over the horizon by talking about atmospheric refraction, and that the rays of light were curved in the atmospheric density gradient. Of course, the refraction is in the wrong direction for that, and indeed makes the Earth look flatter than it actually is, but it’s a good, scientific point that is commonly glossed over.
Getting the right answer for the wrong or insufficient reasons is still bad science.
I actually find such examples to often be more interesting and educational than a straightforward, orthodox explication of the conventional version, because they challenge me to re-examine assumptions, challenge my understanding of the fundamentals, and force me to distil the essential aspects of the evidence.
I have quite often found in such examinations that I understood less than I thought I had, and learnt a lot in the process of re-establishing those basics. The deepest insights are often found that way.
Of course, not everyone has an interesting or original idea behind their eccentric unorthodoxy, and it may be that even when the reasoning is carefully explained, they still reject it for patently emotional reasons. In that case, I might make such a judgement. But I don’t assume it without evidence, and as a rule I see such people – and indeed people who disagree with me in general – as opportunities to test my own beliefs. We are all subject to confirmation bias – I am certainly no exception – so who better to find my errors and enable me to correct them than somebody motivated by their own beliefs to prove me wrong?
Moore, Patrick. Better and flatter earths. In his Can you speak Venusian? A guide to the independent thinkers. [Newton Abbot, David & Charles, 1972] p. 16–29. illus. QB52.M66 1972
Re: Gary Taubes
See: “Availability Cascades and Risk Regulation”
Thank you for that reference.
From that paper:
Hmm… this does seem to describe the creation of the health and climate consensus/dogmas/paradigms/whatevers quite well, but does, I think, lead to other questions.
Does the very nature of climate science, with its congruence of multiple subdisciplines into one overarching theory exacerbate both the formation of the cascade and the maintenance of the belief?
Has each side on this fight formed its own cascade, and never the twain shall meet?
How the hell do we get out of this mess?
“How the hell do we get out of this mess?”
With regard to the “climate consensus” you can’t unless the experts change their minds. The public in general will believe what the consensus of experts says. School textbooks are going to reflect what experts of the day think and that’s what kids are going to learn. That’s the way it should be.
“That’s the way it should be.”
I’m going to have to disagree with you on that. I’d say ‘that’s the way it is’ and live with it happily on most science controversies (plate tectonics, big bang/steady state, etc) because they don’t have a massive impact on our daily lives and so we can easily wait for the science to work itself out, but on issues that look to have massive impacts on our daily lives (fat vs. carbs in diet, CAGW) there must be a better way of dealing with the uncertainties before we throw all our eggs into a single basket.
That AGW has become a political football (regardless of who started that process) clearly demonstrates why we need to change our ways of dealing with this kind of major issue. The sad reality is that at this point it looks like both sides are going to lose – the greens will not get enough mitigation to achieve what they think is necessary and their opposition will still be stuck with government policies that are damaging to the economy. This is the type of mess I want to figure out how to avoid.
The public in general will believe what the consensus of experts says.
Then you do not read comments in the MSM posted on the internet. That VAST majority of comments made to newspaper postings are well educated arguments against AGW. They outnumber the supporters by 5 or 6 to 1. Examples include in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, National Post. The public is not falling for the “experts” in climate science.
And yes, I keep links to them all, so can post if you do not believe me.
I don’t believe you (about the “well educated arguments” part, not the side they take)
I guess in your “denialist” point of view none of the public can have a well educated argument against AGW. And that is dogma.
If you force me to disprove you, you will have to waid through hundreds of comments.
point me to a section of a comment thread with 7 out of 10 well educated arguments against AGW. Far from statistical proof of a “vast majority”, it will still surprise me to say the least.
Also SciAm. About 4:1 against AGW in the poll they ran in conjunction with their snide piece on JC.
This response from GregP says what I perceive as the problem with the treatment of skeptics by the non skeptics;
You seem to appreciate the importance of the problem of uncertainty and are seeking to find ways to deal with it. That gives me some encouragement. It gives me encouragement too because any scientist interested in the truth of given premise sees uncertainty as steep hill to climb.
Unfortunately, uncertainty cannot be accepted by political advocates. Instead of discussing the uncertainties and seeking to reduce them, many in both the community of climate change advocates or the community of climate change skeptics choose to defame each other with derogatory titles. Political discourse has no room for uncertainty as your example from food science clearly showed. The tension in the choice of words in the dialog on this topic, No Dogmatism, clearly shows that many of the writers are more interested in communicating their point of view and not friendly to contrary ideas or are seeking a real dialog with you.
I continue to believe that in the bowels of the climate research laboratories in public and private institutions such as Georgia Institute of Technology there are scientists who in a humble spirit of self evaluation of their own work on climate science thoroughly question the accuracy of their predictions about climate changes and its effects. I hope it isn’t too late.
An Hypothesis is a set of ideas that work together to form an idea of how a process works through interaction of the laws of physics, draws form from the proposed interactions of the known mechanisms, by a coherent method of assimilating the development of further understanding of how the parts are held together.
IF proven by the quality of the data, tested by having repeatability when tested the same way by others. It may become a theory, when enough scientists have been able to use it to produce predictable results, it then becomes mainstream accepted when the predictions can be relied upon for daily use in some application for which it works.
So far the hypothesis of CAGW is not yet been shown to be repeatable by others, the models have yet to produce any valid predictions, and there are many areas of investigation into the workings of the climate system that have been ignored. The real drivers of the climate system that result in the natural variability patterns, have no funds in the grant pipeline, the null hypothesis has yet to be dis-proven.
H2O is the main GHG and it is still not understood well enough to fix a sign to its feedback. The atmospheric effects of the Lunar tidal harmonics that couple the solar and planetary effects into the earth’s climate can be shown to have about 85% domination in the creation and maintenance of global circulation patterns, that result in the short and long term weather and climate cyclic patterns.
But CO2 is the only part of the complicated equation that can be used to generate taxes and power politics, so there goes the grants, the political will, and the background noise of the greedy wanting a piece of the pie.
I do not deny that CO2 has some part in the radiation balance, that real pollution still exists, but CO2 is not part of the toxic waste problems, and I am skeptical that there will be a refocus on the rest of the science, where the real answers will be found to how weather, and the climate works, before the onset of the next ice age gets underway.
“So far the hypothesis of CAGW is not yet been shown to be repeatable by others”
It’s faring a lot better than the hypothesis of continued emissions being safe.
Put it that way.
It’s faring a lot better than the hypothesis of continued emissions being safe.
And what evidence do you have that CO2 emissions is unsafe? Certainly not the level, the planet has been several times higher in the geological past, no harm done. Not the molecule itself, plant food. Not altering the climate, there’s nothing happening now beyond normal variation. Not temperature, we’ve been “warmer” in the past (MWP). So other than your computer models, what physical evidence do you have that CO2 emissions are bad?
I’m curious,JR, what evidence would convince you?
Why don’t you start producing some, so you can find out.
Or for a much shorter layman’s summary, try here.
Now, since you probably don’t accept anything in the IPCC report link, why don’t you answer my question: what evidence would convince you that doubling the CO2 in our atmosphere is a dangerous thing to do?
What would convince me? That same amount of increase in the geologial past brought bad things. Since CO2 was several times today in the geologial past with no ill effects as predicted by AGW, you will have a very hard time showing CO2 increases to be bad.
The PETM is the closest analogue am aware of in the geological record, and it is not an encouraging message.
When looking at the past it is important to distinguish between simply a different climate and a rapid transition. The geological record is pretty clear that rapid climatic transitions cause extinction events.
Notice how mention of extinction from elevated carbon levels during the PETM went no where? I’ll bet you did.
Hell, let’s crank it up to 600 ppm atmospheric CO2…and see what happens. And let’s elevate those levels in a geologic eye blink.
We can ‘muddle through’ another poster tells me. What crud.
I have no problem with accepting that CO2 should, ceteris paribus, cause warming of the atmosphere.
What I have difficulty with is the view that (1) this can only lead to bad results and (2) we must avoid these bad results, whatever the cost.
Neither the IPCC nor anyone else has made a cogent and convincing case for this conclusion, IMO.
Leaving aside the question of the burden of proof in something like that, that is not IPCC’s job, really, is it?
No it’s not. I have just put up a post at least trying to communicate the need for clearing up these types of premises (definitions, what the IPCC does, etc)
The radiative properties of the gas. Human emissions increasing it’s levels in the atmosphere to a millions-of-years high and rising. The poor constraint on how high it will go. The effects on upper ocean pH. The high climate sensitivity evidence from paleoclimate and models. PETM, large abrupt climate change in the past. Complex, chaotic, non-linear. All those words to describe climate that are evidence of danger.
But most crucially of all: The uncertainty in the science that prevents any rational conclusion that our emission are safe. We’ve got so many fingers in the climate pie with our CO2 emissions that we can’t even imagine all the things that could go wrong.
If this described a drug the plausibility of danger would be more than sufficient to ban it’s sale until tests could ensure it was safe. In a way it is a drug, but it’s one the world is already hooked on, so dangers get overlooked and people pointing those dangers out get called dogmatists.
Ah, the Precautionary Principle struggles up to its knees again.
Nope. The projected benefits of mitigation are tiny (fractions of a degree after a century). But the guaranteed costs of attempting it are huge, in the multi-trillions$. Mega-mass-murder by starvation has already been demonstrated with the biofuel food price spike.
So the proper precaution to take is against hare-brained hyper-expensive low-efficacy mitigation rip-offs.
I find it useful to recognise the precautionary principle as a variant on Pascal’s wager.
To paraphrase the crucial point: The uncertainty in the theology that prevents any rational conclusion that our sins are safe.
If you believe in the precautionary principle, then you presumably apply the same principle to avoiding eternal hellfire and damnation? Or is the fallacy more obvious in that case?
I don’t like to watch a “good” fight, but I am drawn to the intensity of the combatants, and so my entry into the Climate Wars combat theater. I followed VS’s time/temperatue arguements on Bart Verheggen’s blog this past March and posted on RealClimate the Opportunity Lost Cost paradigm. I was slimed by Ray Ladbury, Gavin Schmidt and others only to be given some solice by Bart Verheggen and VS that the issue was more complicated than first appears. So beit. Since March, I have learned how familiar the narrative is between myown experiences and what I am observing in climate science. “War is Hell” What seems to be the case, that the fight comes down to the adage: when both opposing forces are exhausted and can see no way to win the fight, the force that then attacks wins the contest. To me that is what is playing out now. Except, winning and losing are for politicians and athletic contests. There is no exhausted combatant winning a point of science. There are matyrs to be sure: sliced and diced by proponents of the prevailing wisdom. There are heroes as well, garnering a coterie of approving voices. Yet, the slow progress of information, layered bit by bit, piece by piece seems to also come in fits and starts, such that the large impatient audience grabs upon sound bits, simple solutions to complex situations. That seems to be our human nature and why so few of us remain as farmers: optomistic about the future; going about the present as if our toil really does matter. If we all can’t nor want to live down on the farm, maybe there is wisdom in being optomistic and hard working, thrifty, sincere, and honest; commodities in contrast to pillage and war.
You bet there’s a war going on. The energy industry spent a record $2 billion lobbying Congress since 1999. That battle, at least in this country, has been won. I sure hope you end up on the right side.
When individuals make a resoned criticism of some bit of science that holds up the edifice of the IPCC, (ie not a “fraud” statement or such)–what is the response? Let’s take Svensmark’s cosmic ray theory or Lindzen’s infrared iris theory, or my argument published in Climatic Change in 2009 that tree rings make lousy thermometers. The reaction is violent and angry. Why so thin skinned? Why such violence? Why try to get editors fired? Dogma. That’s how you identify it, like when Larry Summers was fired as president of Harvard for merely asking if men might be better at physics and math (not even saying it was so).
Is it part of the Denialist dogma that the medieval warm period was warmer than today?
At least I have a source to quote, which refutes that argument.
“The warmest tridecade of the MWP was warmer than
the most recent tridecade, but not significantly so.”
bob, your weak reasoning skills have hurt you again. The quote specifically and clearly says the MWP was warmer. “Not significantly” might mean some measure of statistical confidence, or might just be standard English for “not much”, but in either case it supports the Warmer MWP, not “refutes” it.
It can be shown that the paper in question clearly fails to show that the MWP was warmer than the latest tridecade to a 95% certainty.
That is what the quote meant.
My post was directed at Dr. Craigh Loehle, who seemed to be whining about the reception his paper recieved at Real Climate. In my opinion, his treatment at RC was fair. I think he set out to publish a paper that showed the MWP as warmer than today, and his data was found not to be supporting of that, and submitted a bit of a retraction, which is the part that I quoted.
I think there is enough evidence that the sceptic/denier side has shown a dogmatic insistence that the MWP was warmer than today, in face of evidence that it is at best to close to call.
Craig, violent and angry? “Why such violence?” you ask.
Who was violent and angry?
WARNING! You will need to be familiar with the monster terminology from:
and contained in link from that page to “van der Sluijs (2005)”.
We have from Judith:
“The dogmatism that I am talking about is at the science-policy interface.”
I wonder what life looks like from policy side of this. Were I, heaven forfend, in charge of policy what would I make of it?
Well I might be very fed up, just how many times can people tell me that burning fossil fuels is a problem. They think it is a problem! I have to look at the geo-politics of fossil fuels, I know what it is like to stare down the barrel of a howitzer.
Times are moving on and it seems likely to me that the interface has become a disconnect. The 20 year old framework is just not coming up with sack fulls of new and useful information.
In monster terms the scientific side has stuck at monster exorcism and the political side has moved on to monster adaptation, and its needs are not being met. My opinion you understand.
Queue the post-nomalists, they have the theories, and say that they, and problably only they, understand the problem and their theories will tell the policy makers how to manage the monster. They may have a vested interest in side-lining the climate science away from the interface and using them as a targetted resource for providing the data that they need for their theories.
Increasingly the scientific interface has been with the media and blogosphere. To some degree the media find the monster exorcists better copy provided they can come up with spectaculars, the media does not like the monster but it does like a good shock story. More recently there are signs that the media (actually the BBC) are finding a law of diminishing returns, they along with other outlets invested a lot of time and money during the run up to Copenhagen and are not planning to do so again. (I read this somewhere, not sure where now.) A big issue for them is where the public is going.
The blogwars is a big part of the science interface and could be characterised as one where they are up against a seething contigent of monster embracers, people with an interest in mounting a challenge mostly through taking the uncertainty ground that the scientists failed to occupy. This is very fertile ground largely because the monster exorcism process improved it by burying bits of the monster all over the field.
Back to the public; are we getting climate fatigue? Will we segue to a lay form of monster assimilation. What you might call the Strangelove state. Will the cultural view change from worry about a certain catastrophe to a generalised feeling that nothing happened today, or yesterday and it is all too dreadful and uncertain to worry about.
(I remember the Strangelove effect, I got it after reading “On Thermonuclear War ” by Herman Kahn.)
Now what’s my thesis regarding Judith’s quote.
First is the the climate scientists have feelings, the second is that they are stuck in the exorcism model, and finally thy have misunderstood the nature of the interface.
First you will have to accept that scientists have feelings. Just use your imagination charitably. :)
The exorcism model has led them into repetative paroxysms of mole-wacking, all those pesky bits of the monster hidden in the field of uncertainty. Having moles in the garden brings out the worst in many people. Also some of their side is letting them down, not by attacking them but by staging mole spotting excursions, with blogwarriors in tow.
Finally they may have thought that their input into the policy interface was more direct than it is, and that people at the other end really wanted the material on offer. Policy makers like useful and most importantly timely information, useful in that it gives them an edge, an angle, something they can work with. Policy makers have their professional advisors, and I doubt it has escaped their notice that the interface to the monster exorcists has run its course. Policy makers are prone to like people who tell them that there is an answer, and we know what it is. Open the doors to the post-normalists, and the non-carbon interim solution advocates.
Now scientist backed NCGG (Non-CO2 Greenhouse Gases) advocacy does exist. They don’t have the whole solution but they may be able to talk more sweetly into the policy interface, as I am sure can the post-normalists. They policy makers will, and probably have, sought out people with the right skill-sets to give them useful advice at a policy level.
I have left at least two loose ends. The first is why dogmatism, well it goes with mole-wacking, but importantly is it inherent in the tendency to mole-wack. Not all climate scientists are directly involved, so how are they selected for. I have no certain ideas, but given that the field is 20+ years old one might inquire into why such people chose to get involved. A possibility is environmentalist motivations. I once wrote:
“If you think nature is red in tooth and claw, you have never messed with environmentalists!”
I did once, I am quite a passionate supporter of some forms of intervention, principally large land mammal conservation. I met a lot of environmental conservationists and large mammals, and I am not sure which were the more scary.
From my limited experience I would add that environmenalism is best pursued robustly, it suits the warrior mentality, being rude, and downright offensive, when considered necessary, is par for the course. Also being a little economical with the truth and magical with the evidence is a tactical necessity. When you are down to the last few dozen of a species or sub-species: “All’s fair in love and war”. But make no mistake, these are decent people with a passion.
The last loose end is summed up as follows. If I am right, what is or has been for the last decade, the role of the IPCC. Possibly its usefulness has only just run out, possibly that it serves a use beyond its contribution to policy, or possibly just as a reporting mechanism on what the money spent on the science has bought. The last possibility is a bit lame, the first I doubt so I am just left with the possiblility that it serves some other purpose. Sorry but there the trail runs cold.
I think the attempt to couch this climate issue as a ‘science-policy interface’, with the scientists coming up short, IPCC failing, environmentalists as warriors etc., is a waste of time. The third and fourth players, and there are more, are elected officials and corporate interests (the energy mafia playing their endgame through the final gasps of peak oil). THESE last two have far more control than ‘policymakers’ who are stuck with scientists trying to explain their policies to elected bosses and the energy mafia, which btw, has pumped millions into the influencing ‘the process’.
Without a grasp of the power structure, you’re poking at windmills, a technology that no one wants any way, since ‘carbon is plant food’.
If “evil intent” encompasses excusing abuse and ostracism to suppress disagreement by appeal to “the ends” (acceptance of one’s own preferred views as obviously better for The World), then there is plenty of “evil intent” to be seen on the part of the Warmists, the IPCC, Jones, and Mann.
The stakes are too high to extend “benefit of the doubt” in this matter.
This is an example from today of AGW misinformation in the MSM:
Prof. Judith Curry has been the subject of a large degree of blogospheric talk recently.
Curry’s posts have essentially boiled down to the fact that the IPCC “insiders” have acted as dogmatic or as ideologues.
Continues – http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/934/#more-934
Hi again Judith.
Further back up this thread you claimed, of Monckton, that “a few of his points are valid”.
I asked “Which ones?” but, as I said, I would be pleased to hear of just one.
People respect your opinion, but claiming Monckton has made even one valid point of any significance about anything really does need to be backed by some specifics.
It wasn’t easy, but I actually found one issue where Monckton made a valid point.
Of course, global warming is simply the dogma of the religion of global warmism. It has a prophet (Al Snore), high priests /preachers (Hansen, Mann) and lay people (Lame Brain Lambert, among others).
LIke most other religions, it also has a “doomsday” end: it will mean The End Of The World As We Know It ™.
And the faithful simply accept the dogma without question.