Lisbon Workshop on Reconciliation. Part VII: Ravetz speaks

Just in from Tallbloke:

Jerry [Ravetz] has written a new, short, clear essay to try to clarify some issues of misunderstanding of what he is philosophising about on my blog concerning truth and PNS [Post Normal Science].

I also published the short, clear essay on Quality in science for policy he wrote for me last year to help clarify Willis’ questions regarding it a few days back. These two essays represent his most recent thinking on these subjects. Given it’s understandable that a philosophers ideas might develop and change over the course of two decades, I think it would be a reasonable thing to do if people read them and commented in light of them.

After all if a scientist publishes a later paper, people generally don’t have a problem with the concept that it supercedes aspects of earlier papers. This doesn’t alter the way in which others may have used or abused his concepts in the past, but it does let you know where he personally stands now.

http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2011/02/08/jerome-ravetz-pns-truth-and-science/

http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2011/02/01/jerome-ravetz-quality-in-science/

65 responses to “Lisbon Workshop on Reconciliation. Part VII: Ravetz speaks

  1. Question: ” . . . what replacement can there be for the ideal of Truth, when the working experience of scientists shows them that it is not a realistic goal.”

    Answer: There is no replacement.

    “Truthing” is a lesson in humility, one of many paths to “God.”

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel

    • Repeat: “Truthing” is a path out of “the ego cage.”

    • Truthing is a design for living that replaces arrogance and dogma with humility, insight, open-mindedness, and reverence:

      a.) For the forces that control the cosmos,
      a’) Not for those that control grant funds.

      b.) For religion, philosophy, and science,
      b’) Not for one as the only path to truth.

      c.) For “what is,”
      c’) Not for “how.”

      Example: The results of fifty years (1960-2010) of “truthing” about Genesis were published today on arXiv.

      Click to access 1102.1499.pdf

      These results demonstrate the long-term benefit of adhering to basic principles of science in trying to understand “what is” (observed).

      Dogmatic politicians, scientists and religionists may object, and our opinions may change tomorrow, but for today the paper is our best understanding of “what is”.

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

  2. Judith, many thanks for helping to draw attention to these two essays. I hope they lead to less smoke, less heat and more light. Clarity is what we strive for in scientific and philosophical discourse, and these two essays are much less opaque than some of Jerome Ravetz’ earlier grapplings with the difficult and complex issues involved.

    • Thanks for hosting them and minding their comments. My hope is the same as yours, but judging by the interpretations some of the less-opaque statements regarding these ideas have received in the past, I have a hard time feeling optimistic right now.

  3. Welcome to the wacky world of philosophy, where the nature of truth is lunchtime conversation, and has been for 2000 years. This is not a criticism as truth is arguably the most important concept we have. My view is that “believe the truth” is the highest moral commandment, which may put me on a collision course with Ravetz.

    I am less interested in his concept of quality, because it is made up. For example, he seems to confuse quality with importance. A scientist can control the quality of his or her work but not its importance, because the latter depends on what is discovered, and that is unpredictable. It is up to nature what it out, or in, there.

    David (Ph.D., Philosophy of Science, Pitt, 1972)

    • David, Ravetz is saying that it’s not so much a matter of “Believe the Truth” being the right or wrong thing to do, but “what kind of Truth it is that we believe in”

      Rog tallbloke
      BA(hons) Phil/Hist Sci Leeds 1988
      IENG

      • Tallbloke, I am not familiar with the taxonomy of kinds of truth, or kinds of Truth, for that matter. How does it go? How many are there? And also, then you folks use capital “T” does this mean you are using a new word, other than truth? If so what is it, what does it mean? If you want to create a technical vocabulary modeled on ordinary language that is fine, but you need to specify it. You can’t just throw new words in and expect us to understand them. Try substituting “ratfish” for “Truth.”

        Mind you I have worked on the very problem Ravitz begins with, that of theory succession. Generally speaking fundamental theories tend to be found fundamentally false when they are successioned. Approximately true, hence useful, but still false. If this succession continues forever, and how can it not, then nature has no nature. Wonderful stuff but it has nothing to do with climate policy. Whatever truth is, the concept still works just fine, as does the concept of sunrise, false though it be.

        Or, as Descartes put it (and I paraphrase) the fact that any belief may be false is no evidence against it.

      • I am not familiar with the taxonomy of kinds of truth, or kinds of Truth, for that matter.

        Truth with a captal T is only in the realm of religion, and hence isn’t truth (small t) at all but faith.

        “truth” in science can only be what we empirically measure and observe. Theories can never be “truth” (big T or small t).

      • Please explain what the difference is between truth with a small and capital T, and what this has to do with the climate debate. I haven’t a clue. As for theories never being true, do you deny that the earth goes around the sun? Do you even know what a theory is? What do you think a theory is?

      • Truth with a capital T is religious “truth”, and has no place in science (which is why it is capitalized).

        truth with a small t is what science discovers with evidence, a side shoot of that is legal “truth” which is established in a court of law.

        Earth going around the sun is not theory. You are confusing events with mechanisms. Events (the earth going around the sun) are things we measure. Mechanisms attempt to explain WHY those events occur, which is what theory is.

        Theory can never be “truth” because all theories are tentative explanations of events. The goal in science is to get as close to the “truth” as possible (explanation of how things work), but we can never get there. Nothing in science is settled.

      • If truth with a capital Tis religious truth then why have you brought it up? This is the climate debate. That the earth goes around the sun was once a radical theory. It is illuminating how fine the observations had to become before it became acceptable. It was a notorious form of skepticism in its day

        My impression is that you have missed the point of the thread you jumped into. We are trying to do technical philosophy here.

      • You forgot the Jack Norris TRUTH.

      • Hi David,
        I took it from your statement that “believe the truth is the highest moral commandment” That you were talking about Truth (capital T) is an ideal concept, as opposed to truth (small t) which can happily take a plural.

        A bit like the difference between the belief in a faith and belief in facts.

        But please explain your post further.

        Thanks

    • Just out of curiosity David, what does your idea of truth look like? Is it anything like Kuhn’s? Your comment suggests you have a concept that’s pretty straight-forward and not made-up.
      That being said, we don’t need any agreement on the nature of truth to come to some sort of basic agreement about what Ravetz is trying to say. He’s saying truth is problematic (2,000 years and still arguing), and is trying to come up with a better way of talking about it.
      Does he succeed or fail? These posts mostly lay out the nature of his problem, and don’t go much into his attempts at a solution. But I think they could be useful as there has been a lot of disagreement over whether the problem he is interested in is even a problem at all.

      • Zajko, I did not know that Kuhn had an idea of the nature of truth, so I can’t comment on it. I think of Kuhn as an historian, not a philosopher. He pointed out that science does not work the way the philosophers said it did, but that is about it.

        Beyond that, while I agree that truth is problematic in that there are interesting philosophical problems associated with the concept, I see no application of this to climate policy, or to policy issues in general, or to how we talk today. The nature of truth is not the issue here.

      • I think truth can be thought of as the issue here, with a bit of re-framing. After all, we are interested in things like accuracy, validity, our understanding of the state of reality (whether probabilistic or not). Additionally, we are interested in honesty, which is another common-sense dimension of truth that is largely separate from these concerns (albeit not entirely, as Ravetz seems to be now interested in the relationship between quality and ethics).
        But, should all this be re-framed as a debate about truth? I don’t think so, and apparently neither does Ravetz. The point is that all of these concerns can’t simply be opposed to or resolved by some unproblematic idea of Truth.
        As for Kuhn, I think he was far more than a historian, and definitely dabbled in social theory as well as philosophy. I’m not clear on his idea of scientific truth either, and I don’t know if he ever formulated it, but he did definitely come out swinging regarding what truth isn’t – namely a simplistic correspondence theory of truth in his postscript to the 2nd edition (p. 206):
        “One often hears that successive theories grown ever closer to, or approximate more and more closely to, the truth… Perhaps there is some other way of salvaging the notion of ‘truth’ for application to whole theories, but this one will not do. There is, I think, no theory-independent way to reconstruct phrases like ‘really there’; the notion of a match between the ontology of a theory and its “real” counterpart in nature now seems to me illusive in principle.”

      • You have lost me, Zajko. You say we don’t need a debate about the nature of truth, and neither does Ravetz, but that is precisely what I thought he proffered. I thought his whole mission was to develop a new way to talk about truth, or Truth, or something. If not then what?

        By the same token, there is a lot in the climate debate about accuracy, validity, and our understanding of the state of reality. But there is nothing to suggest we need to rethink those concepts. This is just a fight about possible environmental impacts, and the politicization of science, not a turning point in human thought, not that I can see.

        As for Kuhn, like I said, I never took him seriously as a philosopher, just as a revolutionary. He said that scientists with different paradigms spoke different languages, but gave no philosophical account of that claim. I did my thesis to do so, and developed a new theory of the language of science in the process. That is philosophy. In the case of your quote, I think he is simply wrong. Successive theories grow ever closer to, or approximate more and more closely to, the truth. That is why science works. The theory-independent way he finds “illusive in principle” is the aboutness of language, what is technically called intensionality. The foundation of truth is not the empiricist’s red spots, but the fact that a sound can refer to a city.

      • David, I get the sense Ravetz wants to leave Truth and its associated baggage behind, and yes, move on along a new path that is better, more productive, a more accurate view of the science-policy interface, whatever…
        Now we could think of this as still being concerned about truth, but ditching what he identified as capital T mythical Truth.
        All this truth-talk is getting to me however, so I think I just want to leave it there.
        Thanks for clearing up your take on Kuhn & language a bit for me though.

      • My take on Ravetz and “truth” is that in health and environmental sciences, there are too many ambiguities (unlike clean, clear cut laboratory science), and there is too much uncertainty and ignorance to establish unambiguous truths

      • The contrast between the FDA and EPA is telling here. EPA is an advocacy agency. FDA is the opposite.

      • The sciences are all full of uncertainties. What has happened is that the AGW policy debate has brought this fact to the fore, and people are shocked to see it. It is perfectly normal for science to contain warring factions. Look at string theory, or particle theory, or anywhere.

        Debate is everywhere in science. Unfortunately one has to become a grad student to see this. What is taught to the general public (K-12) is that science is some kind of fact machine, so the public is dismayed to find this swamp of climate uncertainty and debate.

        I do agree that policy making may never be the same and it is worthwhile to participate in the revolution, a new Enlightenment perhaps. But I do not see that the concept of truth is in any need of modification.

      • steven mosher

        We had an interesting discussion at Lisbon that amounted to this.

        Climate science really belongs to the historical sciences.

  4. Like Schneider, where was he when we needed him?
    ========

  5. Then as now, desperately trying to be relevant.
    =======

  6. Ditto the dolls in Norway today. Speak, monkeys, speak.
    ===========

  7. This is a rewrite of a comment I left at Tallbloke’s site. I apologize if I am contravening some unspoken norm around double posting.
    Clearly there is practically and philosophically an ideal which scientists and many others strive for: “Real science is about truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
    The allusion here to the oath witnesses take is presumably deliberate.
    The question in my mind is the extent to which scientists and, by extension, the institutions of science actually can and do live up to these ideals in the way they actually practice science. As problems get less well-defined, as questions to ask become entangled with the uses of the answers, as outcomes have significant consequences to the actors then the “witnesses” view of the truth and as institutional mechanisms limit or distort evidence or its interpretation, we generally recognize that it will be harder to identify the truth. This raises the need to invent rules and procedures that somehow allow some acceptable but sub-optimal progress towards truth or at least resolution of the problem at hand. That said there is no merit and it would be a serious mistake to somehow redefine or dilute the original ideal – which is, I believe, why I and so many are chary of the term Post Normal Science with its allusions to Marxists’ notions of the social construction of reality (and truth). We will still want the witness to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth – even though we know they are likely to intentionally or unintentionally distort that truth based on their view of the situation.
    I see Science as a form of interpersonal problem solving – since if there was no publicizing of a scientists work it is debatable if it exists – as in “the tree in the forest”. If so, then I believe that models of interpersonal effectiveness may well have something to say about how scientists behave and science conducted. If you are not already aware of it, I would suggest taking a look at the work of Chris Argyris (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Argyris for an introduction and and his notions of Model I and Model II behavior and learning (single loop versus double loop learning and http://pds8.egloos.com/pds/200805/20/87/chris_argyris_learning.pdf for IMO the best readily accessible description of how the concepts are manifest in everyday life.). His analysis has the advantage of being applicable to the behavior of scientists (actual values) compared to idealized or espoused values. The current case of Eric Steig’s original paper and his responses to Ryan O’Donnell et al’s paper on the statistical methods used in analyzing temperature trends in Antarctica would serve as an excellent illustration of the dysfunctional and unintended consequences for science and scientists of Model I type behavior – I would argue that all parties are currently behaving in accordance with Model I values and thus progress is less likely than say they had agreed to write a joint paper which would have looked more like an attempt at Model II behavior.

    • I think you are missing the point. Steig, et al introduced a new idea/method. O’Donnell, et al. show ways of improving the method. The discussion between the two groups and others is now about getting the kinks out. Don’t bet the house on where it will come out, but something useful will come out of it.

      This is what happened, for example, with the MSU temperature measurements and with the multiproxy temperature records. Another on-going example is the Argos ocean probes. The first shot is indicative, but not to be trusted, something Eli told RPSr when they first appeared and RP was going haha.

      A major distinction between science and blog science, is that science is a lot more patient.

      • I think you are missing the point. Steig, et al introduced a new idea/method. O’Donnell, et al. show ways of improving the method. The discussion between the two groups and others is now about getting the kinks out.

        Is that really how you see what’s going on? If so, you must have been in some dark, deep cave for the past few days.

      • Eli:
        I fear that you miss my point which follows from the theme that Judith had set for these threads. My focus is on the actual behavior of the primary scientific actors as represented by the words and inferred tone of both Eric and Ryan et al. At this particular moment the likelihood of a joint paper produced by the two groups of researchers is in my opinion exceedingly slim and getting smaller with each exchange.
        You may indeed be right that something positive with regards to statistical tools may emerge – but it is going to take a lot more energy and effort than it would have if less of an “I win, you lose” attitude had been demonstrated.

      • steven mosher

        I think youre missing the point.

        The point is this. Steig Sandbagged Ryan as a reviewer, recommending and praising a method (iridge) which he knew to be problematic. Now, that is Post Normal Science.

      • Steve:
        I am not sure whether your comment is directed at me or Eli. I recognize that Ryan was sandbagged. Sandbagging and similar behaviors are individual “bad” behaviors that essentially reduce the likelihood of “normal” science and distort any search for truth.

      • Steven Mosher: Judge, jury and executioner. Why do you repeat nonsensical innuendo? Wins brownie points with some?

      • “The point is this. Steig Sandbagged Ryan as a reviewer, recommending and praising a method (iridge) which he knew to be problematic. Now, that is Post Normal Science.”

        No. That (assuming it occurred*) is just plain old $#!^^y behaviour. It is not science, and it does not take ‘extended facts’ or ‘values’ or ‘inverting the null hypothesis’ or sidetracking into a new philosophy of politics to deal with that. It takes a refrom of current scientific practice to conform to current scientific philospohy.

        Many are questioning the value of the peer review process, which is not in any way an aspect of current scientific philosophy. It is really a publication expedient, which has often been at odds with good scientific practice. There are alternative publication/criticism models, including some new ones that have been opened up by the digital information age. One of which we are engaged in right now.

        * p.s. I say “assuming it occurred”, lest anyone accuse me of ‘Post Normal Jurisprudence’. :)

    • I appreciate your links to Argyris.

      However, I am chuckling a little bit that you feel there are ‘allusions’ to Marxism in the PNS framework.

      You say that the concept of the ‘social construction of reality’ is a Marxist term. It isn’t. It’s a concept that groups together many theorists, most of them in what is often called interpretive sociology – almost none of them Marxists. The interpretive social scientists who are Marxist tend to be contemporary critical theorists, not traditional Marxists.

      Then you link to the work of Chris Argyris, whose influences and work in action research is wide-reaching, and includes both feminist and socialist insights regarding institutional and power relations.

      Marxists would feel more connection to Chris, than to Jerry. ;-)


  8. The maintenance of quality is very much a moral process. This is because it is impossible to make a complete specification of tasks at the lowest level; evasion of imposed standards is always possible.

    This isn’t a realistic point – standards can be made arbitrarily fine (and are).


    Hence if operatives do not believe in the system to some extent, it will fail. Their adherence to the system will depend on their morale, and that is conditioned by what they observe of the behavior of those who govern them. In that sense, corruption starts at the top.

    This is somewhat backwards. Quality starts at the top (Deming, Juran). Lack of top management support / direction / commitment results in varying processes and results (poorer quality).

    All that is needed in climate research is the governmental funding bodies to write in strict quality control / quality assurance standards for thier sponsored work, and for any work they use for decision making.

  9. It can not be overstated how corrupted “official” or “established” science and its methods are. This problem is as old as establishment of science and it has been getting worse, mostly because it is not widely known. Most scientist are in denial and most of the public just believes. And so it goes. Science appears to be right and when it’s not right, than it surely must be self-correcting. In reality, established science is in the business of explaining away anything that threatens standing pardigms, epicycles upon epicycles…

    This gives an illusion that science is self-correcting.

    Science should be a desperate attempt at falsification. The more you try the better. A scientist should never look for confirmations – it is easy to obtain confirmations, or verifications, for nearly every theory — if we look for confirmations.

    This should be the only policy of science.

    • This is Popperian nonsense. The job of science is to explain nature and it is doing quite well, thank you very much.

      • I agree with you about the job of science, but it is doing very poorly.

        I also believed that science is explaining nature quite well, simply because I believed. After that belief was overthrown, I saw things differently. Now I think, without the dogma, science can do way better.

    • Excellent contribution by a certain “JJ” on WUWT:

      “Climate science” doesnt need to be true to work for its intended purpose. It just needs to retain the equivalent of the political concept of ‘plausible deniability’. This is why there has been a recent shift towards ‘looking at the uncertainty’ in the face of an inconvenient global temp trend. This newfound desire to ‘look at the uncertainty’ is accompanied by reference to ‘post normal science’ which serve to use ‘uncertainty’ to drive the policy to the same conclusion as the previous fake certainty.

      So Plausibly Uncertain Climate Science serves as well as the real thing under PNS. It gets them where they actually want to go.

      • I suspect that this ploy will bite them in the ass big style. Watch this space.

      • People understand possibility spaces intuitively, and possibility space considerations say don’t waste your money. That makes it a harder sell. I also noted that possibility spaces was not included (that I could tell) in the review of possible decision making models Dr Curry linked to. Perhaps the number of models were shrunk to avoid inconvenient truths.

  10. Regarding Jerry Ravetz look on current Climate Science, his essays published on WattsUpWithThat early 2010, just following the Climategate, are quite illuminating as to many unhelpful trends within main stream climate science

    I’m not sure that the debate about truth, uncertainty, etc. is currently the main point to be investigated around climate science ; rather it appears to me quite often as a form of red herring, distracting from hard issues like :
    – quality of data available (temperature…)
    – quality of research published (statistics used being an exemple)
    – actual knowlege of most cliamte parameters and mechanisms (from moisture and clouds to natural variability, and the way sun influences our climate

    Another big point being how climate potential threats are to be ‘weighted’ and compared to so many other issues !

    • Daniel:
      “Another big point being how climate potential threats are to be ‘weighted’ and compared to so many other issues !”

      Yes, Ravetz’ earlier work looked into this. I made this comment in reply to Willis E on part II earlier:

      I think one of your big complaints about his work is that it gave a justifying rationale to people like the late Steven Schneider to run amok with policy formation. The particular aspect of Ravetz’ work which Schneider made use of was the assessment of risk. Ravetz had made some investigations into how well the risk of an ‘unlikely but extreme consequences if it happens’ event is factored in. The “Scary story”.

      It’s a tricky one to assess properly, with much wiggle room, and where Schneider departed from the *Ravetzian* integrity and quality injunction was in the “make little mention of any doubts” part of *Schneiders* injunction to scientists. This skewed the policy makers perception of the quality of the information they were getting.

      • “This skewed the policy makers perception of the quality of the information they were getting.”

        As such, Schneider was not departing from PNS. PNS always and intentionally skews the perception of the quality of information that policy makers think they are getting. PNS lets them think they are getting and using scientific data and methods, when they are not.

      • Clearly you are impugning the integrity of PNS practitioners such as Jeroen van der Sluijs with this statement. But on the other hand, everyone who ever tried to use uncertain science to persuade policy makers to do one thing rather than another has always oversold the quality of their evidence, so what’s new?

        PNS claims that it provides a better framework in which those uncertainties and biases can be discussed and assessed rationally. And it pushes for the inclusion of people who will want to check the process is honest. Don’t see what’s wrong with that myself.

      • Tallbloke: You and JJ are both talking about PNS as though it were an established figure in the debate. Here in the USA I have been kind of in the middle of things since 1992 and I never heard of PNS until now. Neither has anybody else that I know of in the fight. Where is this framework of which you speak? Is it in Europe, perhaps perched on top of the precautionary principle or something, which also has no traction here (but of course I jest, sort of)? You folks are arguing about something that I do not understand, which gets my interest.

      • David,

        PNS is a philosophy of political decision making that was created to overcome politically objectionable outcomes to cetain political decisions that had been argued and decided on the basis of scientific ignorance.

        It is closely tied to the use of the ‘precautionary principle’ and the formal statement of that is couched in scientific terms and is often expressed in practice as a demand to invert the null hypothesis. For that and other reasons, it has not gained traction in the US (or abroad, AFAIK) with scientists, but it has some followers in ‘climate science’.

        As a method of political decsion making, it has its merits and its deficiencies. Among the latter IMO, is the damage it does to science, by watering down and politicizing the way people think about science and scientific knowledge.

      • Thanks JJ. Just what the world needs, a new philosophy of political decision making. Well the Greens have to find something new, just to survive. Yesterday Markey argued that depriving EPA of the power to regulate CO2 was playing into the hands of terrorists. See http://www.globalwarming.org/2011/02/09/energy-commerce-hearing-rep-markey-waves-the-flag/

      • Actually, I do see the value of having a method for political decision making that can operate in the absence of relevant scientific knowledge. Some aspects of PNS may be useful in that regard.

        I do not think that adopting all of PNS is necessary to make use of those beneficial aspects (they are often already in place in other philosophies – including science!), and it is all too easy to confuse science with non and anti science concepts when doing so.

      • “Clearly you are impugning the integrity of PNS practitioners such as Jeroen van der Sluijs with this statement.”

        Not sure where you pulled that from, but please put it back :)

        “But on the other hand, everyone who ever tried to use uncertain science to persuade policy makers to do one thing rather than another has always oversold the quality of their evidence, …”

        I am unclear as to why you thought it objectionable when you (incorrectly) assumed that I was impugning one person, yet you think it is OK to impugn … well pretty much everyone.

        This is not a helpful line of conversation. I am not impugning anyone. If I want to say something about the personal integrity of Jeroen van der Sluijs, I will do so explicitly. On that topic, I do think he should come clean as to the whereabouts of Natalie Holloway’s remains. :)

        “PNS claims that it provides a better framework in which those uncertainties and biases can be discussed and assessed rationally. And it pushes for the inclusion of people who will want to check the process is honest. Don’t see what’s wrong with that myself.”

        Of course, there is nothing wrong with such claims. Rather like claiming to want to save the children. The objection is in the details.

        With PNS, this would be things like confusing politics and other non-science methods with science. Equivocation with words like ‘quality’. Inversion of the null hypothesis. Appeals to ‘expertise’ and ‘extended facts’. Look into these things. Understand what they were created for, and how they are being used now. Go beyond the claims. Look at the mechanisms, and how they can be expected to function. It makes for very interesting discussion … about politics.

        PNS is not science. PNS is politics. Discussing politics is fine. Nothing whatsoever wrong with coming up with a novel approach to politics, or even a new rehash of tired old politics. We probably need more of both, and we are undoubtedly gonna get it regardless. No problem with politics. Like religion, it addresses human needs that science cannot. Do not pretend it is science.

      • On this we are agreed. PNS is politics. Once science is tainted with anything else it is not pure science. This is the point Willis Eschenbach made earlier today on part II. I agree, but with this caveat.

        The kind of science which gets used to form policy never was pure. There are always science ‘gurus’ acting as middlemen who are neither pure scientists nor politicians. They are scientists turned science administrators and they are always subject to the pressures of the human world. Fighting for funding, eliminating awkward conflicts, pressing for adoption of pet theories or projects. Human beings with personal agendas and ambitions.

        Such is life. The best safeguard is oversight by people of pure intent. the most likely place you’ll find them is from outside the discipline. I give Ravetz credit for arguing and acting for their inclusion.

      • “The kind of science which gets used to form policy never was pure. There are always science ‘gurus’ acting as middlemen who are neither pure scientists nor politicians. They are scientists turned science administrators and they are always subject to the pressures of the human world.”

        As a practicing scientist whose work is often used in the policy arena, I understand this all to well.

        “Fighting for funding, eliminating awkward conflicts, pressing for adoption of pet theories or projects. Human beings with personal agendas and ambitions.”

        And more …

        “Such is life. The best safeguard is oversight by people of pure intent.”

        I disagree. The best safegaurd is systems and institutions that limit the ability of anyone to concentrate power and influence, that reward honest behaviour, and that find and sanction bad actors – with all of those pegged to the underlying philosophy of science. No such system will be perfect, but some are much better than others.

        ” the most likely place you’ll find them is from outside the discipline.”

        Nonsense. To the extent that you can find ‘people of pure intent’ (I assume you look for halos :) ) you may find them anywhere. There are plenty of good people in the field of climate science. And some people that would be better than they currently are, if the current incentive structure did not permit and reward skullduggery. As is, bad actors are able to garner power and influence within ‘science’ for reasons other than their adherence to the principles thereof. In that circumstance, the shit floats to the top.

        Furthermore, there are plenty of people outside the field of climate science who are very, very bad. They are just as corrupt as anyone currently inside the field, or worse. Absent a fix of the incentive structure, throwing the doors of bad science open is not going to do anything but give us a more diverse group of criminals to ‘negotiate’ our ‘conflicting values’ with. And we will be doing it without the benefit of proper science. I dont see any value in that.

        “I give Ravetz credit for arguing and acting for their inclusion.”

        The philosophy of science has always included those outside of ‘official science’. ‘Scientist’ is a descriptor, not a royal title. Anyone who puts forth a well defined, falsifyable hypothesis and tests the !@#$ out of it is a scientist. So is anyone who accurately audits and tests the science produced by others. The philosophy is not lacking and in need of replacement, only the practice is failing in some circles.

      • “The philosophy of science has always included those outside of ‘official science’. ”

        C’est moi.

        Thanks for a good comment JJ and I agree with much of it. I’m just casting around for ideas at this point and you have some clear ones.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        JJ | February 10, 2011 at 9:32 am

        “This skewed the policy makers perception of the quality of the information they were getting.”

        As such, Schneider was not departing from PNS. PNS always and intentionally skews the perception of the quality of information that policy makers think they are getting. PNS lets them think they are getting and using scientific data and methods, when they are not.

        tallbloke | February 10, 2011 at 10:42 am

        Clearly you are impugning the integrity of PNS practitioners such as Jeroen van der Sluijs with this statement. But on the other hand, everyone who ever tried to use uncertain science to persuade policy makers to do one thing rather than another has always oversold the quality of their evidence, so what’s new?

        tallbloke, PNS has no science content except for the name. As such, the name is deceptive. Ravetz has confirmed that this deception was a deliberate choice.

        So when JJ says “PNS lets them think they are getting and using scientific data and methods, when they are not”, he’s just stating a fact. Delivering something in a package called “science” lets people think that they are getting science, when the contents of the package may not contain science. You may not like that, but it’s how the world works, names have power.

        Now, if this was just some kind of innocent mistake, that would be one thing. But Ravetz put “science” into the name deliberately, which makes it deception.

        w.

        PS – Is he impugning Sluijs with this statement? Insofar as Sluijs, too, is packaging and selling mystery boxes with the label “SCIENCE” on them, no. He is not impugning Sluijs, he is describing what Sluijs is doing.

        tallbloke, if you thought about the contradictions implied in deliberately giving the name “Creation Science” to an anti-scientific anti-evolution theory, perhaps this would be clearer to you. Ravetz called his theory “Post Normal Science” for the same reason the fundamentalists called their theory “Creation Science” … because neither of them are science, but they want the gravitas.

        And when someone gives a speech on “Creation Science”, JJ’s statement is once again true, for the same reason – people “think they are getting and using scientific data and methods, when they are not.”

        The naming of “Post Normal Science” is deceptive in the same way, and with the same intentions, as the naming of North Korea as the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”.

  11. T(t)ruth is a paradigm, it shifts with time. Perhaps it would be easier to define the paradigm of our time rather than the truth of all times and paradigms.

  12. PNS was used to justify the misuse of government science in the failed social experiment to “pinch off the tail pipe” of the Western economies and redistribute the world’s wealth.

    Although not personally opposed to a more equitable distribution of wealth, I strongly oppose the misuse of science to achieve this goal without consent of the public.

    Two manuscripts show how different fields of science have been abused to hide reliable scientific information on “Earth’s Heat Source – the Sun”:

    1. Climatology:
    http://arxiv.org/pdf/0905.0704

    2. Space & Nuclear Science:

    Click to access 1102.1499.pdf

    Six members of Congress have just written a letter suggesting that NASA should be doing space science instead of climatology:
    http://db.tt/D6jx12A

    Climategate may be resolved in the appropriation of government funds.

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

    • Willis Eschenbach

      Please, Oliver, please, enough with your theories about the sun. If you are confused about when to talk about the sun, just look at the title of the thread. If it has something like “sun” or “solar” or “helio-” or “iron” in it, then you just might have found a place to talk about your passion in life, your theory of an iron sun.

      In a thread titled “Lisbon Workshop on Reconciliation. Part VII: Ravetz speaks”, however, not so much …

      You are a sharp ex-NASA guy with a good mind. Pull it out of the “iron sun” unless the thread is about the mechanisms running the sun, and your ideas will get a lot more traction.

      Respectfully,

      w.