Quote of the week

by Judith Curry

“Do not confuse science with scientists, expertise with experts, or intellect with intellectuals. Society is not anti-intellectual or anti-science, it is anti-intellectuals, opposed to the people who claim those credentials, and for excellent reasons. Even those who on any given issue make appeals to the authority of selected scientists or experts will discount or reject equivalent authority when it does not confirm cherished biases.”

Where did I spot this?  On a blog called Muck and Mystery, here is the link. I only spotted this since this article linked to Climate Etc., the post on Tornado Madness.

I have no idea who the blog proprietor is, other than that his name is Gary Jones.  I’ve browsed through his blog, the best way I can characterize this is the “anti-Greenfyre.”   Check it out.

141 responses to “Quote of the week

  1. one only needs to think people are human beings, to be anti-Greenfyre 8-)

  2. “Society is not anti-intellectual or anti-science, it is anti-intellectuals, opposed to the people who claim those credentials, and for excellent reasons.”

    So for example creationists are not opposed to evolutionary theory, they’re opposed to biologists?

    9/11 “truthers” are not opposed to any scientific or engineering knowledge that contradicts their conspiracy theory they just have a problem with some group of scientists or engineers?

    Anti-vaxxers are mistrustful of doctors not vaccinations?

    Those who deny the HIV/AIDS link just think scientists need to re-examine the evidence properly this time?

    Actually is there any any scientific controversy that be accurately characterised in the terms you’ve quoted? Let’s exclude climate science unless you’re prepared to show it’s a truly exceptional controversy.

    • The quote specifically says:

      “*Society* is not anti-intellectual or anti-science…”

      in other words it doesn’t make any explicit claim to represent one or other of the parties who have a keen interest or investment in the fight – it’s not an observation restricted to either extreme of the debate as you’ve assumed in your retort.

      The examples you give, presumably as some sort of counter-argument, seem to focus exclusively on these groups, and not the far broader term of “society” that’s actually referred to.

      • mrsean2k ,

        “The quote specifically says:“*Society* is not anti-intellectual or anti-science…””

        I don’t see how you could evaluate such a claim except by examining scientific topics society has deemed controversial.

        “it’s not an observation restricted to either extreme of the debate as you’ve assumed in your retort.”

        My question assumes nothing of the sort. I’m asking for examples of controversy which can be characterised within the terms expressed by the quote. This is a very reasonable thing to do since it’s been highlighted and presented as a “Quote of the week” presumably for its accuracy.

        “The examples you give, presumably as some sort of counter-argument, seem to focus exclusively on these groups, and not the far broader term of “society” that’s actually referred to.”

        By all means present more representative examples. I listed the ones I could think of and asked for more because I couldn’t think of one that actually fitted in with the quote.

      • You say you make no assumption, and yet you refer to “creationists”, “9/11 truthers”, “anti-vaxxers” and “Those who deny the HIV/AIDS link” in your response – groups at what most people would judge to be an extreme end of the spectrum on each issue – your own words pigeonhole them as such.

        My interpretation of your response is a fair one.

        The point is that individuals – who comprise society – are pigeonholed in just this way for expressing a contrary view at whatever level of skepticism. They are then denounced as “anti-science” or “anti-scientific”

        With respect to matters of climate and prediction, one can be very strongly anti-specific-climate-scientist, or anti-influential-climate-scientists-antics, but remain pro-scientific and properly sceptical. The scientists in questions – and their cheerleaders – are all too keen to conflate criticism of themselves with being “anti-scientific” for very obvious reasons.

      • mrsean2k,

        I note that you continue to quibble about the examples given, characterise them in a way that contradicts my own and yet still have provided no examples of your own that satisfy your own criteria.

      • I don’t “quibble”; I reject them as unsuited to discussing the quotation, partly because they are strawmen (who claims that Creationists are not opposed to evolutionary theory?), partly because of your own framing.

        How have I characterised them inaccurately? Please be specific.

        As far as I can tell, each of the examples you choose to employ is the claim of a group with a specific position that a theory is false – by definition not encompassed by the quote.

        Your request for a better example assumes that a better example of the same type (an easily pigeonholed and labelled group) exists.

        The behaviour of specific climate scientists / organisations leaves me unconvinced that their claims supporting a CAGW position should be accepted.

        Their behaviour as one of a small number of exceptionally influential individuals causes me to reject the claims they espouse. I reject the conclusion because I consider the scientists themselves to be corrupted in various ways (and after digging into specific examples), not because I somehow reject “science” itself

        These scientists are not the anthropomorphic embodiment of an abstract noun, however much this is parroted in the press.

        I don’t provide an easily labelled sub-group because I do not believe one is necessary, beyond being members of “society” and sharing a common antipathy or mistrust for one or more scientists or organisations.

      • mrsean2k,

        “I don’t “quibble”; I reject them as unsuited to discussing the quotation, partly because they are strawmen (who claims that Creationists are not opposed to evolutionary theory?), partly because of your own framing.”

        You were invited to replace them with examples more suitable for discussion, you refused and continue to do so.

        “Your request for a better example assumes that a better example of the same type (an easily pigeonholed and labelled group) exists.”

        Your criticism suggests there are better examples which could be discussed instead.

        “The behaviour of specific climate scientists / organisations leaves me unconvinced that their claims supporting a CAGW position should be accepted.”

        This is a climate science blog populated by people involved in and interested in the climate science debate. We can reasonably assume that the reason this quote was brought up in the first place was in relation to its supposed relevance to climate science.

        That’s why I excluded climate science since otherwise it’s a circular argument “This quote supports my position on climate science because it shows that society reacts to science generally the way it does to climate science. What’s my example of how society behaves that way in relation to science? It’s climate science of course!”

        “I don’t provide an easily labelled sub-group because I do not believe one is necessary, beyond being members of “society” and sharing a common antipathy or mistrust for one or more scientists or organisations.”

        It also has the advantage of you not having to defend the claim at all “Society behaves this way. No I don’t have any examples it just does”

      • The fact that you can’t think of satisfactory (to you) examples to pursue your own line of thinking has no bearing on either the quotation or the point I make myself.

        My criticism says only that your examples are poorly framed and irrelevant, it doesn’t suggest there are better examples – you are the one fixated on examples of this sort for some reason.

        It just means your line of thinking is a dead-end.

        You seem to consider the lack of a readily available and pigeonholed sub-group as a strike against the substance of the quote; it isn’t.

        Society is, increasingly, behaving this way – take a gander at the change in levels of belief in CAGW. Examples of individuals abound.

        And your circular argument, er, argument is once again a strawman. I didn’t make the argument you quote and JC didn’t, only you did. You, once again, conflate “science” with “scientists” in your own manufactured quote. It’s beginning to look like wilful misrepresentation, nobody can make the same mistake so many times.

      • Oh, and I asked you

        “How have I characterised them inaccurately? Please be specific.”

        Well?

      • Sharperoo –
        “Society behaves this way. No I don’t have any examples it just does”

        Interesting – you demand examples, but didn’t provide any yourself. And don’t tell me that the examples you provided are typical of “society”. They were very small and extremely minor segments of “society”, carefully chosen for maximum negative impact. But they don’t qualify as “society” any real sense of the word.

        Apparently, by your definition, the word “scientist” could be typified by the Hockey Team , complete with warts. But I don’t think that’s a fair reading of the quote in question. Nor do I think it would be either fair to or descriptive of the vast majority of scientists – even though they have their own brands of warts.

      • mrsean2k,

        “You seem to consider the lack of a readily available and pigeonholed sub-group as a strike against the substance of the quote; it isn’t.”

        I see. You literally cannot think of a single example that illustrates the quote but you are happy to argue its truth regardless.

      • Jim Owen,

        “Interesting – you demand examples, but didn’t provide any yourself. And don’t tell me that the examples you provided are typical of “society”. “

        Let’s see the chain of logic here

        -Jim Owen sees examples but doesn’t like them.
        -Said examples therefore cease to exist
        -I asked for examples other than the ones I provided
        -My argument is now open to attack because I asked for examples but didn’t provide any as a result of #2

        “They were very small and extremely minor segments of “society”, carefully chosen for maximum negative impact. But they don’t qualify as “society” any real sense of the word.”

        Ok provide better examples.

      • For some reason, I can’t see a “Reply” at the appropriate level.

        You, in the form of another strawman, asked for a specific example.

        Here I am, a member of society, sceptical of CAGW and anti-woo in all other areas.

        I am not anti-science; I am anti specific scientists / behaviour of specific scientists. The quote speaks to me. I don’t care to pigeonhole myself with creationists, anti-vaxxers or truthers, being diametrically opposed to their beliefs.

        Of course I might change my mind if evidence comes to light.

      • Let’s try that again –

        1) your examples don’t bother me because they’re meaningless in the context of “society”

        2) you ignored my counter example

        3) you’re therefore doing exactly what hunter claimed, which is trolling using red herrings.

      • Jim Owen,

        “2) you ignored my counter example”

        Your counter example is in the realm of climate science which I’ve specifically excluded and explained my reasons for doing so.

        “3) you’re therefore doing exactly what hunter claimed, which is trolling using red herrings.”

        Tada! Declare opponents trolls and dust off your hands, another job well done.

      • mrsean2k,

        “Here I am, a member of society, sceptical of CAGW and anti-woo in all other areas.”

        So the only example anyone can think of, where the basis of opposition is the scientists not the science and the experts not the expertise, is…climate science! All other instances where people claim exactly the same thing is “woo” and in fact a red herring/distraction/false flag/attempt at trolling to even mention.

      • shaper00,
        You try to hijack the thread, decide who can discuss what, and then complain when people decline to cooperate with you.
        Do you really think that is a productive strategy if communication is the goal?

      • Sharperoo –
        My counter example was no more valid than any of yours – or just as valid, depending on how you want to look at it. But it was an example.

        Your counter example is in the realm of climate science which I’ve specifically excluded and explained my reasons for doing so.

        So who made you God? don’t care what your reasons are – climate science (and scientists ) are still part of society – and still fair game.

        And you’re still trolling with red herring for bait.

      • No doubt you’re right that you can’t evaluate a society’s features without considering the behaviors of its members. But you need to distinguish between the collective behavior and the behavior of specific subgroups. Our society is not canibalistic, despite the fact that we found a canibal living among us. Obviously, no reasponable person would suggest there are no anti-intellectuals living in North America, and, in fact, I don’t believe it’s a reasonable reading of the quote to contend that that’s what it said.

        But you do raise an interesting point. I think many of us did respond to the quote because we agreed that our society is “anti-intellectuals,” but that doesn’t prove we’re not anti-intellectual, too. While your list of sub-groups who are acting irrationally doesn’t prove your point, you do raise a good question. Can anyone point to good examples of our society displaying “pro-intellectualism”?

      • QBeamus,

        “. Our society is not canibalistic, despite the fact that we found a canibal living among us”

        Certainly. You can’t assert society is X or Y because you find one instance of X or Y.

        Yet you also can’t claim society is X or Y without any instances of X and Y! A cannibalistic society which has no instances of cannibalism would be very odd.

        “While your list of sub-groups who are acting irrationally doesn’t prove your point, you do raise a good question.”

        I’m not particularly trying to prove a point, just make one which is that I can’t think of anything the “Quote of the week” applies to.

        Were you to ask creationists they wouldn’t say they’re anti-science, they’d say they’re against the atheist scientists that have pushed science into the realm of religion. They’d further say those scientists are just pushing their own religious world view and trying to justify their own lifestyle choices.

        It’s similar in each of the cases above because generally nobody claims to be anti-science. They just think science is wrong and/or corrupt in this one instance they’re interested in for various reasons.

      • Hard to imagine that a quote starting with “society” as talking about anything specific.

        Society as a whole does include its most extreme viewpoints.

    • So for example creationists are not opposed to evolutionary theory, they’re opposed to biologists?

      Interestingly enough this is what postmodern ‘science’ devolves into by injecting ‘morality’ into the debate. It is no longer objective, but rather subjective and soon factions are created that oppose each other and put aside the mission of the Scientific Method.

      9/11 “truthers” are not opposed to any scientific or engineering knowledge that contradicts their conspiracy theory they just have a problem with some group of scientists or engineers?

      Not the engineers per se, the Government who ‘hired’ the engineers. AGW Believers often cite the same abuse of Climate Deniers who have dubious benefactors (i.e. Big Oil)

      Point is ‘Society’ is easily biased especially when ‘Morality’ (i.e. Postmodern Science) supplants ‘Objectivity’ (i.e. Scientific Method).

      • The End is FAR,

        “Not the engineers per se, the Government who ‘hired’ the engineers.”

        It’s not just government hired engineers that make claims which are problematic for the position of 9/11 truthers.

        According to the quote above the problem is with those engineers and not with people that place little value in science or expertise.

      • I agree, but once factions are created, the fight becomes one of ‘who’ said rather then ‘What’ is said.

        The AGW movement is very similar to the “Truther’s” albeit more people have been duped.

        The “Peer’ review process, or rather devolution of it is a good example. Skeptics have been labeled incompetent to review the Believers’ methods and conclusions. Data is not shared and it became an Us against Them rather than “I disagree because . . .”

        Would you be opposed to a AGW vs NGW Convention or Summit? That way the “what’ can carefully be examined and each side will not be able to hide behind innuendo, but rather be on the hook to explain their understanding or position on the spot.

    • sharperoo,
      I think the author of that blog post has a very good analysis with a poorly expressed conclusion.
      But kudos to you for detouring this into a discussion of creationism and 9/11 wackjobs.

      • hunter,

        “I think the author of that blog post has a very good analysis with a poorly expressed conclusion.”

        You mean the poorly expressed conclusion which is the “Quote of the Week”?

      • shaperoo,
        I mean that you are desperately avoiding the issue by raising as many red herrings and false flags as possible.

      • (S)he’s good at it though.

      • Yeah. Filled up the thread with a good bit of junk.

      • What if the issues raised were themselves red herrings and false flags?

        No, that can’t be possible…

      • willard,
        If the Much & Mystery essay was about red herrings, that would be good news.
        Unfortunately it is not.

    • “So for example creationists are not opposed to evolutionary theory, they’re opposed to biologists?” yes, Richard Dawkins is probably the prime example.

    • John Carpenter

      Sharper00,

      “So for example creationists are not opposed to evolutionary theory, they’re opposed to biologists?”

      Your point is well taken, but the way I would understand the quote using your example is… creationists are not opposed to evolutionary theory by biologists who subscribe to the idea of “intelligent design” rather than natural selection because they appeal to their ideology. The theory may be wrong, and in my opinion it is, but it does not mean it is not an intellectual argument made by intellectuals. We do not agree with the “intelligent design” biologists (who are scientific intellectuals), we would be anti-intellectual, however we recognize the intellectual argument of “intelligent design”.

      This is not the best argument, IMO, because it mixes scientific and thoelogical disciplines making it fraught with huge ideological differences. A better example outside of “climate sciene” is perhaps nutrition. Here is a societal, scientific, expert, intellectual issue that has many sides where people will choose to use those experts, scientist etc… who fit with their nutrition ideology and neglect those with differing claims.

    • Actually is there any any scientific controversy that be accurately characterised in the terms you’ve quoted? Let’s exclude climate science unless you’re prepared to show it’s a truly exceptional controversy.

      Good question. What about the controversy over DDT?

  3. Third, more and more studies today are suggesting that a good deal of scientific research, both that which concerns policy-making and that which does not, is covertly or subconsciously manipulated to produce results which just barely cross the threshold of statistical significance or otherwise establish “legitimate” results. What this suggests is less that many researchers (both scientists and social scientists) operate with conscious bad faith and more that there is a system of underlying incentives which pushes research communities towards the entrepreneurial overproduction of unnecessary or marginal knowledge.

    Publish or perish, hey?

    • Right. I lost track after some many dozen papers – do cell phones cause brain cancer, or don’t they? What’s the consensus of the experts?

      • If they did then it’s a fairly safe bet that hospitals would be filled to overflowing with brain cancer cases by now.

      • Actually as a matter of statistics you could figure out how long it would take to identify an increase in the rate of brain cancer of any given percentage. Ironically, it’s not that different a problem from identifying the global warming signal.

    • It’s more often subconscious than covert.

      Maybe Consumer Reports could start covering climate science.

  4. Dr. Curry,
    This writer is on to something.
    I think the conclusion needs some work, but the analysis is, unfortunately supported by the facts.
    I guess this could be the anti-Greenfyre in the sense that this site is seeking truth, rather than hiding it.

  5. Dr. Curry,
    The site you link to is an interesting source of ideas.
    Did you read this link that was discussing Mooney’s latest effort to pretend skeptics are not really worthy of more than contempt?
    http://weblogs.swarthmore.edu/burke/2011/04/26/the-non-science-that-explains-whats-wrong-with-science-explaining-non-belief-in-science/

  6. “Society is not anti-intellectual or anti-science, it is anti-intellectuals, opposed to the people who claim those credentials, and for excellent reasons.”

    Not a bad quote of the day. It will be entertaining to see the different interpretations.

    • The problem for the AGW believer trying to dissemble on this is that there are in fact engineers and scienitists and physicians who are well qualified and accomplished who happen to hold arcane religious views on many topics, including creation and evolution.
      The challenge for the beleivers is to confuse the issues by trying to make creationst = anti-intellectual, for instance.
      They can do this easily for their fellow believers, and may even successfully hijack conversations, but they will fail in the sense that they avoiding addressing the actual point of the quote.
      One way to interpret shaperoo’s concern is to point out that it is people’s chosen biases that lead them to reject evolution while working as a geologist or engineer. A geologist or engineer obviously is not anti-intellectual in any reasonable sense. But they have chosen to believe certain thigns about reality that is at odds with beliefs I, for example, agree with. Does that make those who hold those differing beliefs contemptible or stupid?
      No.
      On many issues those same people offer many good insights, and are likely to work hard and honestly to carry out their obligations. Would I ask a creationist to write a book on paleontology? No. would I trust one to design a foundation for a building or to project manage a refinery turn around?
      Why not, if they are qualified?
      Tolerance means respecting differences.
      The contemptuous rejection of tolerance by the Mooney’s of the world is an important aspect of this quote, imho.

      • Joe Lalonde

        Hunter,

        You have made great strides into trying to understand this planet.
        Many areas are tainted by our environmental upbringing and what we are taught to think and the laws we must obey.
        It is far easier to label everything into different categories so that only the true understanding of this planet can be looked at.
        What is religious teachings, what are theories and were did this hypothesis come from, who benefits from a certain course in science to shaped science and not the natural course of understanding. So much science is fluffed off when it is not understood in order to fit the area of “expertise” by an individual.

        It is the next generation of scientists that have been damaged by the current course. Current scientists and science has already been made a casualty.

      • scepticalWombat

        Of course you cannot judge a person’s intelligence or their morality by their biases. I had a very intelligent colleague who refused to accept that there was any proven link between smoking and lung cancer. There are well qualified young earth creationists. Believers in astrology – or at least in the ability to form an opinion on a person’s star sign abound and include very well qualified people. Often these biases are harmless – sometimes they can be dangerous. For instance here we are experiencing an outbreak of Whooping Cough which can probably be attributed at least in part to the current wave of anti vacination propaganda. The refusal of the South African government to accept the link between HIV and AIDS probably caused many deaths.
        We need to try to control our own biases and to ensure that those held by others are exposed as much as possible particularly where they have dangerous consequences.

        Of course not all biases are innocent. My colleague had no reason to deny the link between smoking and cancer other than an innate conservatism and a tendency to be contrarian . The tobacco companies were in a different category.

  7. I’m not anti-intellectual. I have nothing against them. In fact, I love making fun of them.

    There have been a large number of observers who have pointed out that our society at present seems overrun with supposed experts who are endowed with far more hubris than wisdom. Making fun of them is really the best use of them. It brings smiles and avoids needless waste.

    • Thomas Sowell’s book ‘Intellectuals and Society’ does pretty good job of deconstructing those that call themselves Intellectuals, especially Academics.

      A simple test is whether or not you are accountable for your work withstanding scrutiny. If you are not accountable for your work, that is to say if it is incorrect or sloppy and it does not affect your position or livelihood, then you are most likely to be an Intellectual. Academia usually falls under that category.

      • Which brings us front-and-center to the “engineering quality report”. I think you just put your finger on the real source of the resistance to doing that. It’s against the cultural grain of the academic to dot all the “i”s, and cross all the “t”s. That’s grunt work for Muggles.

      • It’s against the cultural grain of the academic to dot all the “i”s, and cross all the “t”s.

        Has this always been so? Once upon a time it seems that was the function or at least a fundamental principle of academia.

        If it indeed the case today, I would remind the Intellectuals to recognize that their work will be dotted and crossed by those unfamiliar to them if they publish it and that is one of the benefits of a sound ‘peer’ review. You can have your work checked by those that are likely to bring harsh criticism to your errors.

        I don’t know ONE engineer who advocates the conclusions or methods employed by the AGW Movement.

      • Kooky engineers exist, but you have to go looking for them:

        http://www.ae911truth.org/

        These guys belong in the funny farm.

      • Should have said those that are not likely to bring harsh criticism.

        Crazy people are in abundance.

        The 911 Truthers are not attempting to force extreme expenses or dogma upon me so I tend to ignore them. The AGW Truthers are not so benign that one can avoid their negative influence.

      • Agreed. Craziness is not the same as perniciousness. To be pernicious, you have to be advocating some grand plan, not just advancing some nutty theory.

        My only point with that is that I’ve met some nutty engineers in my time; an engineering degree and/or a PE licence doesn’t guarantee mental health. And neither does a PhD.

      • Just out of curiosity, how would you consider academic work like that done by, say, the host of this blog?

    • I’m not anti-intellectual, some of my best friends are intellectuals…

  8. Maybe “society” in general is not “anti-intellectuals” but “anti-intellectualism”

    This was covered in a Pulitzer Prize winning book, Anti-intellectualism in American Life, by Richard Hofstadter in 1961, which has been revisited based on the 2000s situation by Deborah De Simone
    http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/ht/34.3/desimone.html

    Blaming the negative public impression of climate scientists on a general wave of anti-intellectualism is a bit of a “cop out” in my mind.

    I agree with some of the posters here who differentiate between public mistrust of “intellectuals” in general or “climate scientists” specifically.

    IMO the negative reaction to “climate scientists” has been a result of Climategate (etc.) revelations, silly exaggerations made by climate scientists (and IPCC) regarding the dangers of AGW (which were later magnified even more for general consumption by the sensation-hungry media), foolish short-term predictions of alarming warming, “BBQ summers”, “unusually mild, snow-free winters”, etc. (which never materialized), absurd proclamations by politicians citing “climate science” to warn us that we must act urgently to save the world, perceived arrogance and “we experts know best what’s good for you” mindset among some climate scientists and in IPCC reports.

    IMO the loss of credibility in the mind of the general public of climate scientists resulted from these factors, rather than simply being an expression by a more “common sense” driven public of “anti-intellectualism” as described by Hofstadter .

    For example, I do not believe that John Christy is put into the same category as Michael Mann or James E. Hansen in the eyes of the general public, yet all three are “climate scientists”, and, as such, “intellectuals”.

    Max

  9. For the first time in my life, I’ve become aware of a kind of intellectual tyranny whose weapons of oppression include arrogance, hostility to opposing points of view, a noxious piety, and a mostly complicit, mostly liberal media….

    This has been quite an eye-opener for me since I’ve spent most of my life identifying with progressives. All the more distressing because I understand their side so well. I can see my friends eyes glaze over when I argue as a climate skeptic. I might as well be declaring my belief that Obama’s a Kenyan born Muslim.

    Until those respected on both sides begin to speak up…and there are precious few of those…I don’t see this climate nonsense going away for years to come. Even when the earth turns significantly cooler, which is already happening, they’ll just rationalize it away, in just the same way they’ve rationalized away the recent cold, snowy winters…

    • So let me ask: if you’ve identified as a progressive all your life, would you be in favor of regulatory action – even expensive regulatory action – to reduce GHGs if the claims made by AGW proponents were demonstrably true?

      • Paul Baer

        would you be in favor of regulatory action – even expensive regulatory action – to reduce GHGs if the claims made by AGW proponents were demonstrably true?

        That’s a mighty big “IF” there, Paul.

        The claims made by AGW proponents (IPCC) are NOT demonstrably true.

        So the next order of business is to figure out what the REAL AGW impact is, before we identify (let alone implement) “regulatory action”.

        That’s the current status (as JC has correctly expressed in testimony before Congress).

        Max

      • I agree that that’s the big “if.” And obviously we disagree about what the evidence implies. However, here – as elsewhere in this thread – I’ve been trying to get at the question as to whether opponents of CO2 regulation would accept it if current levels of CO2 emissions were indeed shown to be dangerous – even (perhaps especially) if that danger is in terms of risk, rather than certainty, of harm.

    • “For the first time in my life, I’ve become aware of a kind of intellectual tyranny whose weapons of oppression include arrogance, hostility to opposing points of view, a noxious piety, and a mostly complicit, mostly liberal media….”

      I find this phenomenon fascinating, and quite common in the climate debate. So many progressives/moderates/independents/lukewarmers, see the arrogance and hostility directed at them because of their views on climate (that they share with conservatives), and are shocked at the vitriol they receive as a result. “Tribalism” suddenly becomes a real concern.

      But those same tactics have been used by the left throughout my lifetime against conservatives on issues ranging from economics to education, national defense, culture…. It is the modus operandi of the “movement” left, and always has been. Joe Romm is just the climate science incarnation of Paul Krugman, Keith Olbermann, Maureen Dowd, the Nation, Salon, Media Matters, the journo-list, and on and on.

      Saul Alinsky did not pioneer the concept of personalizing a political debate, and transforming a disagreement on policy into an attack on a person you can associate with that policy, but he did make it the common practice of the activists on the left. Ridicule and demonization are not just personality quirks, they are conscious, effective political tools wielded by movement leftists on almost every issue.

      (If you think Dr. Curry, Steve McIntyre or other liberal/moderate lukewarmers have been attacked for their views (and they have), read David Horowitz’s Radical Son. See how the left reacts when one of the movement elite defects.)

      All the lukewarmers, whether moderate/independent/liberal/whatever, who have often repeated the mantra of how stupid and evil Fox News, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, Ronald Reagan (until recently), Clarence Thomas, George Bush (especially Jr.), Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and so many others all are, are just mirroring the intellectual culture you have been taught, worked, and lived in, for most of your lives. They are what I call “default progressives.”

      Progressivism dominated their text books (on almost all subjects), their teachers were overwhelmingly progressives, from grade school on, and their friends, co-workers and family were all raised in the same milieu. It’s not a surprise that the default position for so many is progressivism, when that is pretty much the only side of the debate they were exposed to for years.

      The tactics of demonization and ridicule have worked exceedingly well. Ask most self-styled moderates/independents what the conservative position is on almost any issue, and what you get back is the progressive activists’ distorted definition of that position. They just don’t read or listen to the sources that would lead them to honest discussions of conservative positions. I hear all the time, from progressive colleagues and friends – “What DO conservatives think about” education, or welfare, or other public policy issues? They don’t know because they haven’t bother reading or listening to those stupid evil conservatives because all they ever hear about them is constant ridicule (which they themselves frequently repeat).

      One of the things that interests me most in the climate debate is whether, when push comes to shove, all these default progressives who are also skeptics/lukewarmers, will eventually apply the same critical analysis to the political, economic, and cultural tribalism they have been a part of for most of their lives. Not to adopt conservative principles, but to at least, for the first time for many, at least listen to them and attempt to understand them.

      Or will the need to be accepted by peers, colleagues, and friends, prevent reconsideration of the default belief that conservatives are racist, sexist, homophobic, greedy, anti-science people who want to kill old people and starve children – while they are intentionally destroying the planet.

      • Don’t whine too much. The technique is pathological and self-destructive.
        ===========

      • The comment “The technique is pathological and self-destructive” is hopelessly naive. (And the condescending misuse of the term whine doesn’t improve it.)

        There is nothing pathological about it. It is a conscious, coldly executed, carefully coordinated technique (by movement progressives), that not only is not self-destructive, but has been all too successful.

        The “technique” has given us Obamacare, 14.6 trillion dollars of current debt (not counting future entitlements and pension liabilities), structural unemployment of 9%, 1% of the population paying 30% of the income taxes, a progressive Supreme Court that rewrites the Constitution any time five of them feel like doing so, until recently super majorities in both houses of congress and the presidency for progressives, nationalization of auto companies, banks, and insurance companies, and came very close to giving us a government take over of the energy sector (which the EPA is still pursuing apace).

        It did so by making progressivism the norm for millions who were taught by progressive teachers, and who now get their information from the New York Times, Washington Post, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, Time Newsweek, the BBC, The London Times, etc. It is the votes of these “default progressive” moderates and independents that tend to swing elections.

        The reason the conservatives I listed in my above comment have been so demonized, is that they have been effective at combating this technique. Alinsky’s successors would be only too pleased if more people instead minimized the importance of the tactics he preached.

      • I give you Kampuchea. And self-destructive include mass destruction. I’m whining, too.
        =======

      • Shall we just agree that Alinsky is a Weapon of Mass Destruction?
        ===========

      • Pol Pot wasn’t self destructive, he lived a long life. Can’t say the same for millions of his countrymen though. Not a good example.

      • We could call Progressivism unsustainable. As was Pol Pot’s rule.
        ==========

      • Pol Pot was deposed by Vietnamese Communists. Perhaps yet another not so good example.

        And though I would agree that progressivism is not “sustainable” in the long term, that term can be very long indeed. And those living under it can suffer because of it for a very long time.

        The Soviet Union was built on the corpse of decaying Czarist Russia, yet endured for 80 years, after killing tens of millions of its own people. And that was by no means self destruction. Without the Cold War, US troops in Europe, Reagan, Thatcher, Walsea and John Paul, it may have survived in its original form indefinitely. And Russia still is governed primarily by a form of progressivism.

        If you ignore it, it doesn’t just go away.

  10. *blink*

    So ad hom is okay because “Society” is ad hom?

    Society, whatever it is, ought be excluded from scientific discourse by this logic.

  11. Check out the latest from realclimate, this is unbelievable
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/05/handbook-in-denialism/#more-7444

    There is a new book out called “Climate Change Denial: Head in the Sand” by Hadyn Washington and John Cook (skepticalscience.com).

    An excerpt:

    “The book makes many good points, but I’d like to add some of my own thoughts. Many of the deniers dress up in a scientific cloak, but if the criteria of science is Replicability (‘R’), Objectivity (‘O’), and Transparency (‘T’) (remember ‘ROT’), then any rotten argument should easily be discarded. If there is any substance to the counter claims, then there should be no problem replicating these with objective methods, and similar data (science is only interesting if the results are universal). I have tried to get some denialists to show me their method and data, but end up being told that I’m stupid.

    One problem is that there is no good public stage for evaluating claims by applying ROT – Internet is just too vast and disorganized, in addition to being limited to people active on the Internet. But books as this are one contribution to examining the claims.”

    So I guess we have a new acronym for “team” science: ROT. “ROT” is perfect: but too bad the words Replicability, Objectivity and Transparency doesn’t fit too well.

    • Dr. curry,
      The believers are not just going to say, “ooops! we were a bit out of line. Sorry about that.”

    • The reviewer on that RealClimate post proclaims “Although not said explicitly in the book, science must become more ‘domesticated’ in order to make progress.”

      I hope ‘domesticated’ was just a poor choice of words.

      Also, his comments about the Internet are debatable but he does admit that “there is no good public stage for evaluating claims by applying ROT”

    • Yes, that’s startling. Not one commenter over there has clue one about why there is so much doubt. Do they not know, or is it just impossible to talk about it?
      ==============

      • The lizards gathered
        And talked communications.
        None of them had ears.
        ============

    • Judith

      I have to admit that I have not read it (and probably won’t), but from the RealClimate review, the Washington + Cook book sounds like a “yawner” to me.

      Sort of a desperate attempt to rationalize why the “message” has gotten rejected by a majority of the public.

      Max

      • Indeed, I posted a note asking what was new? However, John Cook’s skepticalscience.com provides an interesting perspective on the complexity and breadth of the debate, one that is no doubt unintended.

        Last I looked he listed over 100 skeptical arguments. He frames them in an unsophisticated way, suggesting that skeptics are ignorant, but still they are there. Then he provides a sophisticated pro-AW rebuttal to each one, hoping no doubt to settle the issue. Looking closely one finds that most rebuttals actually contain several distinct arguments, let’s say 300 to 400 arguments in all.

        What scientifically informed skeptics know is that there are sophisticated rebuttals to each of these pro-AGW arguments, again probably several to each, making perhaps 1000 distinct scientific arguments. And this is just the tip of the argument iceberg.

        This is a good measure of how unsettled the science actually is. It is also a framework for a proper climate research program, if the USA ever decides to pursue one, instead of simply funding pro-AGW research.

  12. I beg to differ on the definition of intellectual. A proper intellectual is reversely accountable for his/her ideas, and will be revered even more when spectacularly wrong. Think Ehrlich or Jean Paul Sartre . So much for peer review .

    As for realclimate, am starting to believe they inhabit a parallel universe…

  13. cagw_skeptic99

    I particularly like a JC quote from the previous post: “JC comment: abandoning magical thinking and recognizing contradictions would be a really good place for the environmental movement to start. ”

    My own take on this. Pseudo-science describes what the members of the Hockey Team and their supporters engage in while being compensated mostly with money from taxpayers. ROT is a nice acronym for what is not and has not been happening, and is not likely to happen, for any of the paleo work used to perpetuate the claims that today’s temperature, ice, storm, floods, droughts, snow, lack of snow, etc. are unprecedented, worse than we thought etc. ad nauseum.

    Magical thinking describes the method of arriving at recommendations and expositions on what to do to avoid the ‘end of civilization as we know it’, ‘storms of my grandchildren’, CAGW crisis scare messages in general. Pseudo-science describes the justification for the magical thinking messages.

    There may or may not be meaningful effects from increases in CO2 over the next few decades, but none of the work produced by the Hockey Team and their mainstream supporters can or should be trusted by anyone with actual authority or obligation to implement policies that would inhibit the use of carbon based fuels. Such policies, like using corn for ethanol, have been extremely damaging to poor people’s nutrition world wide, which none of these advocates seem willing to accept responsibility for, nor are they even willing to respond to messages that they are obligated to do so. Policies that inhibit the use of coal to provide cheap electricity to those who have no electricity also fall into the ‘near genocide’ category and again are not acknowledged or discussed by Team members nor their legion of me too supporters.

  14. cagw_skeptic99

    I have posted similar thoughts on MT’s in it for the gold site. These are deleted without comment, snarkily responded to with ad hominem text, or ignored.

    The Team and its supporters simply do not stand up and say that they know and acknowledge that implementation of their policies has caused immense harm to billions of people, nor are they willing to acknowledge or discuss the additional harm that their insistence on inhibiting the use of carbon based fuels has caused, is causing now, and will even much more acutely will cause unless Government and NGO funding sources ignore their policy recommendations which they cannot possibly be making without knowingly and willfully accepting the tradeoffs between immediate harm to billions of people in exchange for the (at best) tenuous benefits from unlikely CO2 emission reductions imposed on miniscule components of the global economy. None of the major CO2 emitters in China, India, and other developing countries have been, nor are they likely, to do anything other than increase their CO2 emissions from power generation as fast as they possibly can while at best mouthing platitudes to CAGW believers and making meaningless press releases about increasing their ‘renewable’ generation from a tiny meaningless percentage of total generation to a doubled or tripled but still tiny and meaningless percentage of their total power generation.

    Magical thinking is just a nice way of describing what people who should be described as members of a harmful cult (Team members) are doing on my dime.

  15. great comment by Willis – but I would be kinder to Judith, it’s her blog :-)

    As it happens I am maintaining a list of
    http://omniclimate.wordpress.com/why-agw-is-logically-impossible
    magical attributes of AGW (I call them miracles)…and there are plenty …

    • omnologos,
      I look forward to linking to that list.
      Thanks for compiling it.

    • This post of yours needs to be read more widely, omnologos:
      http://omniclimate.wordpress.com/2011/03/27/andy-revkin-points-to-the-end-of-the-line-for-the-ipcc-and-its-lot/comment-page-1/#comment-7822
      “…….the IPCC–led propaganda bandied about as “scientific consensus”), scores 7 out of 7 on the Freedman scale and therefore should lie at the bottom of anybody’s trust level:

      1. dramatic (having reached the computational power needed to project future climate just as CO2 emissions got to a previously-unknown “dangerous” level)
      2. a tad too clear-cut (with climate change almost completely due to a “thermostat” called CO2)
      3. doubt free (the IAC spent an inordinate amount of time complaining about the absurd IPCC policy of underplaying uncertainties)
      4. universal (everybody will feel the (bad) consequences of climate change, and everybody is guilty of it)
      5. palatable (as it happens, the usual evils of capitalism and freedoms are the underling cause of climate change)
      6. receiving “a lot of positive” media attention (shall I really comment this?)
      7. actionable implications (every ha’penny worth of a politician understands how many things can be pinned upon the bandwagon called “climate change”)

      And I find one sentence by Tetlock as especially relevant to the climate debate:

      Whatever may be the merits of the underlying science in the peer-reviewed literature, in the public forum, the ratio of pseudoexpertise to genuine expertise is distressingly high.”

    • Omnologos I read your post with interest, and your magic list. And now I can’t find the bit I want to refer to, but you were urging suspicion about theories which rested on the revelation of some hitherto unknown but global physical effect.

      My point is, we hear much about confirmatory bias in climate science, but little about what I think of as the von Daniken effect – the strange appeal that counter-intuitive “Special Knowledge” seems to exert over a proportion of the population (and which I first observed in my early teens in those of my contemporaries who devoured the work of Erik von Daniken). It is a particular kind of confirmatory bias, in which the more improbable a conclusion appears to “outsiders”, the greater is the urge for “insiders” to find and defend it.

      CAGW would be no-where without the von Daniken effect.

  16. John Kannarr

    I tend to agree that most people aren’t “anti-science,” but notice that they tend to disagree with particular conclusions of “science” or scientists when those conclusions conflict with long or deeply held beliefs. Not many are ready to inspect their own fundamental premises and subject them to a serious reality check, and change the premises to match with scientific observations. Many are much more likely to reject the observations and claims that contradict their prior beliefs.

    So what, I say. What difference does it make to me if X believes in creationism? If X makes choices in his own life based on a belief in an invalid concept, the harm is primarily on X. And, interestingly, for the most part X will go right on using medical products, techniques, etc., based on the knowledge of those who do accept evolution (you know, that understanding without which nothing in biology makes any real sense). But X is not required in his dealings with medical personnel to accept the basis for all of their life-promoting knowledge on which he depends. And if he rejects the help of those with genuine knowledge of that which is truly life-enhancing in the medical realm, he is the one who suffers for his failure to take advantage of what is demonstrably known about biology.

    But the problem comes if he tries to force his creationist ideas on the rest of society, say on my children in the public schools, or on restricting medical personnel in what activities they may engage, halting research or overriding my and my doctor’s judgment about what is best for me. The problem here isn’t his rejection of the science, but his attempt to introduce force into the process, and override everyone else’s judgment with his mistaken “judgment.”

    Then we have the climate change alarmists. If they only tried to persuade me and others to change our way of living out of a concern for how we were affecting the environment, then they would only have power to the extent that they succeeded in producing evidence sufficient to convince me to change my ways. I would be free to agree or not agree.

    But of course that is not the way they are operating. Their intention is first to attempt to convince everyone to go along with their ideas through the use of the argument from authority, and then when they still haven’t swayed everyone to their conclusions, to use the power of force, i.e., government, to impose their judgments upon the rest of us.

    They are absolutely sure that they are right and anyone who doesn’t see the evidence the way they do is either stupid, short-sighted, or somehow in the pay of someone else (ad hominem argument). It’s not enough in their philosophy to persuade whoever they can and let those people act as they think best, and the rest of us act as we think best. They believe they are justified in forcing us to follow their judgment instead of our own, since they know better, so there!

    The problem with that, as any self-respecting individual knows, is that if they are wrong, we will be forced, against our better judgment, to do something which we think will harm us immeasurably, such as our loss of economic freedom. And we do not accept the idea of scientist-kings who get to substitute their judgment for ours. If they have not persuaded us yet, the problem is their failure to marshall persuasive evidence and arguments (including the possibility that they are just flatly wrong!), and they are perfectly free to revise their methods, develop new, more objective data, produce replicable calculations, testable propositions, and better arguments to convince us.

    Of course, they will never convince everybody, no matter how good their attempts. But they only have to persuade enough of us to produce a sufficient adjustment in whatever human factors they believe are the problem. If they are right, we will see the results. If they are wrong, at least we will have acted voluntarily in our changes. And if we are right, then we will not have wasted the myriad benefits of industrial civilization and the free market. If we are wrong, we will eventually see results which will convince us to make voluntary changes. A free society, and the free market allows men to eventually solve whatever problems face us.

    But their approach is to use brute force to override our independent judgment, and to reduce our freedom to make our own decisions. That should be all any self-respecting person needs to understand about their approach.

    • John,
      Please remind where creationists have used brute force to impose their beliefs on you, or anybody, for that matter.

      • John Kannarr

        I refer to anyone, like Creationists, who attempt to force their religious views on others, specifically on others’ children, by passing laws to demand such imposition. That many people have become inured to the idea of passing laws to force other people to do as they wish, rather than by using persuasion and argument, does not change the fact that such laws are just a disguised form of threatened brute force, because the result is to send men with guns if their victims resist.

    • Am I correct that using government to require people to reduce their pollution counts as “use of force”, and that all people should simply be allowed to choose whether they wish to reduce their pollution or not, regardless of how much it hurts others?

      Or, alternatively, if a democratically elected legislature was persuaded to regulate a particular form of pollutant, would that indicate that “we” had made a decision that we could require all persons to comply with?

      Is the only issue here whether CO2 is a harmful pollutant? Or is all law banning pollution illegitimate?

      • Paul –
        Is the only issue here whether CO2 is a harmful pollutant? Or is all law banning pollution illegitimate?

        CO2 and “pollution” are two entirely different substances.

        “Pollution” is any substance that is harmful to life that is emitted into water, air or earth.

        CO2 is a natural emission, produced by every living mammal, fish or reptile – and required in some amount by those creatures.

        CO2 is a requirement for the continued existence and growth of all flora, which are, in turn, the basis of life (mammal, fish or reptile ).

        Calling CO2 a pollutant is to declare that ALL life is unnatural. And that would be foolishness.

      • Well, my question was actually primarily about OTHER pollutants. If there are such things, are laws banning them illegitimate? If that is true, how do you expect to protect yourself from others harmful pollution?

        As to the question of can CO2 be a pollutant: it does not follow that to call CO2 a pollutant is to declare all life is unnatural. I doubt I will convince you of this, but I hope that the fallacy here is obvious.

        Pretty much every trace metal is essential for life. Yet many of them, introduced in concentrations greater than “ordinary” levels, are toxic. There’s ozone in the air all the time, of course; yet you wouldn’t argue that the ozone in photochemical smog that is well documented to harm people is not pollution. Pollution is levels of a substance that cause harm to beings not adapted to those levels. Even if the substance is essential to life!

      • Paul Baer,

        Conservatives have no problem with regulation of pollution. The problem with CO2 is that progressive justices of the U.S. Supreme Court decided to over rule the EPA (because it was not being run by progressives at the time) and rule by judicial fiat that CO2 is a pollutant and the EPA had to review and ultimately regulate it. This is not the case with “real” pollutants.

        The concept that all government is “brute force” is a liberaltarian talking point. It’s the liberaltarian equivalent of progressives “it’s for the children.” It doesn’t really tell you much, but allows the speaker/writer to affect an air of moral superiority. Liberaltarians run about 1 to 3 percent of the vote in most elections, so while they are quite vocal, they don’t have much impact on policy.

        As to the general issue of whether CO2 is in fact a pollutant, to me “pollutant” is like “poison,” it’s all about the “dose.” (If you drink enough water, you can lower your electrolytes to the point where you will die. Does that make water a poison? If the EPA wanted to regulate it, you can bet the argument would be made.) To prove that CO2 is a pollutant, you would have to prove that CAGW, in all its facets, is correct. (Or as you write – CO2 will “cause harm to beings not adapted to those levels.”) So far, as far as the U.S. electorate is concerned, it’s not even close.

      • Well, my question was actually primarily about OTHER pollutants. If there are such things, are laws banning them illegitimate? If that is true, how do you expect to protect yourself from others harmful pollution?

        I didn’t actually address that concept. But – there are several answers – one of which is the use of government to limit or ban such pollutants as are harmful. This IS a use of either force or the threat of force. Just as a stop sign at an intersection is an implied threat of force if one ignores it. One can, of course, ignore it if no police are present – AND if one is willing to die and to take others along for the ride by being T-boned. Would that happen? The answer is that it DOES happen with depressing regularity.

        Pollution is levels of a substance that cause harm to beings not adapted to those levels. Even if the substance is essential to life!

        OK – so what level of CO2 is harmful to life? 500 ppm? 1000? Do you know that the CO2 levels in deep mines regularly exceed 3000 ppm – and are not inimical to life? And that manacker and others have shown that the maximum atmospheric CO2 level if ALL the known planetary fossil fuels were consumed would fail to reach 1000 ppm? So there’s nothing in AGW that qualifies as harmful in that respect.

        Then there are the so-called “tipping points”. One of which will happen with or without human CO2 input – specifically, the descent into another glacial episode. When will it happen? Nobody knows, so most people either don’t think about it or like the AGW believers, dismiss it as untrue or unimportant. And yet – IIRC historically, the climate has “crashed” a number of times – ALWAYS into a glacial period. There is no/zero/nada evidence of a climate crash into drastically increased temps at any time in the past.

        So – we have high probability evidence that the planet may get colder, but zero evidence that it will get drastically hotter. I hope you’re not gonna trot out that well-worn phrase “but the models…..”
        cause you’ll lose me right there. Models are not experiments – and model outputs are not data or evidence. They’re an approximation of what might happen IF the model is properly designed, coded, provided with the right inputs and initial conditions. I’ve seen no evidence that all of those conditions have been met for any GCM. For an interesting view of models try this link – https://judithcurry.com/2011/05/06/redefining-dangerous-climate-change/#comment-67050

        There’s also a video by Mike Hulme that I no longer have the link for. If I find it, I’ll get back to you.

        Finally, since pollution, by definition, is unnatural – excess ozone and smog, for example – then declaring CO2 a pollutant makes your body as well as every other living thing on the planet a pollution generator, and no different from a coal-fired power plant or one of Jim Hansen’s “death trains.” :-)

        The corruption of the word “pollutant” has unintended consequences.

      • – Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is not toxic until 50,000 ppm (5%) concentration
        – Any detrimental effects of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) including chronic exposure to 30,000 ppm (3%) are reversible
        – NOISH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) exposure limits are 5,000 ppm (0.5%) for Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
        – OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) exposure limits are 5,000 ppm (0.5%) for Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

        http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2001AGUSM…H31C13H
        http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/npgd0103.html

        – Current CO2 Levels in the Atmosphere are 390 ppm (0.039%)

      • Yes, but if much smaller levels of CO2 in the atmosphere destabilize the climate system, the level of toxicity to humans isn’t the relevant consideration. (There are plenty of examples of pollutants that are harmful to other species or ecosystems before they are harmful to humans).

      • Yes, but my question was, is the regulation of pollutants an illegitimate use of force?

        Your point about ice ages as a consequence of “tipping points” is an important one – on the time scale of a few thousand years.

        But regardless as to how it happened, there is good evidence that the planet has had phases that were a few degrees warmer, and had much higher sea levels.

        Finally, if we agree that “pollution” is “unnaturally high” levels of naturally occurring elements, that makes human exhaling an interesting case. Arguably humans as biological beings are perfectly natural. On the other hand, few would argue that tons of human excrement in a river count as pollution. It’s more complicated than simple natural/unatural distinctions.

      • Paul Baer,

        You say. “Pollution is levels of a substance that cause harm to beings not adapted to those levels. Even if the substance is essential to life!”

        By that definition you should have no objection to mandated reduction in the number of Pine, Birch , Alder, Cedar, and Willow trees in the environment. Along with Ryegrass and Timothy. These are some of the pollen polluters known to cause annual outbreaks of misery for some 15% of the population who suffer from Hay Fever. None are necessary for life. None are regulated. That is reality.

        In reality CO2 is necessary for life. In reality CO2 has not been show to cause as much harm as the above plants. Only in the imaginary world of climate modeling has excessive harm from CO2 been hypothesized. Yet CO2 has been put under regulation, while the above plants get a pass. WUWT? Is there some nefarious big pollen lobby pulling the strings?

        The detachment from reality becomes more mind boggling with almost every decision government makes.

      • Possible harm from increasing GHG concentrations was recognized long before computers and GCMs. (See Spencer Weart’s “The Discovery of Global Warming” for the early history – it’s available on line.)

        No one has ever suggested that pollen has planetary effects. I will note that no one has any problem with filtering pollen from their indoor air.

      • Your definition of pollution doesn’t pass the sniff test. But I’ll accept you truly believe it.

        Possible harm is imaginary, especially when it is decades away and the extent of that harm can’t even be properly quantified.

        Both people and pollen are ubiquitous on the planet. 15% of humanity is known to be harmed by pollen. By your definition pollen is a pollutant.

        You allude to staying in an artificially filtered environment as being the solution. This is totally feasible on Asimov’s fictional Trantor, but in reality I don’t think many today are willing or able to do so.

        To recap. In reality CO2 has not been shown to cause more harm than pollen. Only in virtual reality can that even be hypothesized. CO2 is regulated as a pollutant. Real life pollen is not.

        I think I understand your position now. It is proper to regulate in real life things which by your definition can only be shown to be a pollutant in virtual reality. Real life things which meet your definition don’t necessarily have to be regulated unless a powerful lobby pushes for it.

        If my understanding is correct don’t feel obligated to reply. I’ll pass your scholarly insight around to others.

      • Well, with some minor rephrasings, I actually think your assessment is correct. But I think we may actually disagree less than you think.

        <

        It is proper to regulate in real life things which by your definition can only be shown to be a pollutant in virtual reality. Real life things which meet your definition don’t necessarily have to be regulated unless a powerful lobby pushes for it.

        I would put it this way:

        1) It can be appropriate to regulate pollutants which can only be shown to be potentially harmful through indirect evidence. This is a standard problem of risk analysis.
        2) Not all substances which could plausibly count as pollutants ought to be regulated.

        Note that I didn’t intend my definition to be, well, definitive. I’m not a purist about definitions; most words in real use carry a very wide range of meanings, which are constantly evolving. The crucial points I was trying to make are that the same substance can be a harmful pollutant and a vital nutrient, depending on context and concentration, and that “naturalness” is not a particularly important distinction. Indeed, I think pollen is quite reasonably counted as a pollutant in many circumstances, and I am not in principle opposed to reducing plant populations to reduce pollen. The devil is of course in the details.

        BTW my point about pollen wasn’t that “people with allergies should live indoors”, rather that pollen is in fact treated as an “indoor air pollutant”.

        All I really wanted to establish is that IF CO2 in (say) doubled concentrations could be shown to cause substantial harm, it would be reasonable to regulate it as a pollutant. I’ve already conceded that this is a big “if” and I doubt anyone reading this blog doesn’t already have a pretty strong opinion.

      • John Kannarr

        I take issue with the idea that if “we” (meaning a democratic majority) decide to do something, it is okay to impose force on a minority without regard for the rights of those in the minority. In other words, the issue should not be who has the bigger gang. The real issue should be to determine what and whose rights are involved, and possibly being violated.

        We do have courts and rules to evaluate our respective rights, and those who are demonstrably harmed by polluters can sue for damages. But the “commons” of the atmosphere is a very difficult subject, as is the commons of the marketplace of ideas and commerce. Since government was instituted to protect individual rights, actions taken by the government in the people’s name should be strictly delimited to insure that no violation of individuals’ rights occurs. Those who claim to be protecting us from too much CO2 or other “pollutant” may at the same time be damaging our prospects for economic well-being by preventing people from access to the energy and other products of human ingenuity. That too is a form of damage, probably much more serious than questionable anthropomorphic climate change (which may actually be for the better, assuming it actually occurs).

        As a libertarian, I do regard the initiation of force by anyone or any gang as a violation of rights. It is all too easy to reach for the “gun” of legislation and much more difficult to develop either facts sufficient to convince others to change their actions or to define precisely what our rights should be. Too much effort is put into trying to overwhelm those we disagree with laws or a bigger gang, and too little in trying to make sure that proposed solutions to presumed problems are valid and to convince others to change by persuasive evidence and argument.

      • As a civil libertarian (as well as a fan of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights), I certainly agree with you that the rights of individuals need to be protected from the imposition of majority rule.

        The differences between progressives and libertarians tend to turn on the importance of property rights vs. other kinds of rights, and on the appropriate role of government in providing public goods. (A bit of an oversimplification, obviously.)

  17. The entire thread is an example of the ‘fallacy of taking ourselves too seriously’. Let’s imagine a circumstance, for instance, in which the theory of evolution was not a complete explanation but simply appeared to be right from a limited perspective of human consciousness. What if the universe was entirely different to how we perceive it?

    If the arrow of time for instance – the idea that the past is no more, the future unformed and the moment all there is – was incorrect and we substituted instead an eternal moment in which everything that has existed or will simply is.

    Imagine a universe in which every moment from the big bang to the big crunch is spread out like a string of Christmas lights across the void. In this imaginary universe – evolution would cease to have the meaning it has for us because the egg and the chicken had an equal reality in the space/time continuum that was the eternal moment.

    As we are all moving in time relative to each other – ‘Einstein’s time dilation apparent when obeying the speed limit – the nature of time itself seems one of those great mysteries we have not made much of a stab at solving. At the risk of being controversial – I therefore personally don’t put much store in evolution as a complete explanation of the universe.

    Perhaps it’s just me. I have an idea that, like Charlie Sheen, my brain is just wired up differently. On climate for instance – I think that if you throw clouds and spatio-temporal chaos into the mix – little is left of the architecture of global warming as it is generally understood. Be that as it may, there remains the strong possibility that we are changing the composition of the planets atmosphere. Given sensitive dependence in chaotic systems – and that we have shown so little wit to date to determine the outcome – it is perhaps not humanities finest accomplishment.

    ‘The only reason angels can fly is that they take themselves so lightly.’ Michael Leunig

  18. chris 1958

    Pseudoscience makes its presence felt whenever significant money (or ego) depends on the outcome. If you go to our court system and look at worker’s compensation, third party, or worker’s compensation litigation, you will read a swathe of medicolegal reports. Sometimes you find yourself wondering if the expert doctors reporting for each side are talking about the same patient – the differences in observations are so divergent.

    Similar problems apply even in criminal matters when theoretically no one gains monetarily. However, the desire to secure a win at any cost is reward enough.

    Hence, legal firms will have a stable of “tame” doctors for use as required by a situation.

    Anyone who has had any dealings with the medical profession across this interface could be forgiven for seeing doctors as unscrupulous. In fact, doctors come in all shapes and sizes just like scientists – some are honest, some are shonky, some are very streetwise, and some are naive.

    Likewise, when you look at then world of research, you come across some very questionable work. Clearly, I’m more aware of the problem in my own speciality when I see research which seems utterly disconnected from the world of real patients. There’s the added problem of research conducted under the auspices of “big pharma” where very large monetary goals ride on research outcomes.

    The real problem is that we put people such as scientists and doctors up on pedestals – when they fail to measure up to expectations, we turn “anti-medicine” or “anti-science.”

    • cagw_skeptic99

      Personally I don’t put scientists or doctors on pedestals, and when I come to believe that one or a group are corrupt, I see no reason to apply that judgement to non-group members.

      That said, many people in my peer group freely state that whenever a ‘scientific’ study is published, the first thing we do is to check to see who paid for the study. Some time ago a ‘scientific’ study of toothbrushes found reason to recommend replacing them every 4-6 weeks due to build up of germs. Surprise surprise, it was tooth brush money that paid for the study.

      Now we have ‘scientific’ studies proving that global warming is caused by CO2 and is affecting everything from butterfly ranges to storms, droughts, floods, and the very survival of polar bears. Surprise surprise most of this trash is paid for by institutions and Governments with financial interest in having the ‘researchers’ find the right answer. And surprise again they find the correct answer 100% of the time. 99.9% of these folks can be depended on to find the right answer; the few that don’t are about to retire or undergo a career change.

      Credibility once lost is hard to recover. None of the recognizable members of the Team will ever again publish something that I would accept as truthful. Someone else might publish the same or a different conclusion, but as long as it is paid for by the same interests, the results cannot really be trusted.

      It is not a communication problem that these folks have. And the problem isn’t really curable with a very high percentage of those citizens who actually pay attention to these matters.

  19. The quote immediately prior to the quote of the week is this:

    “No one with any sense at all will fail to be skeptical of everything said by scientists, journalists, intellectuals, experts and politicians. They lie for the sake of the task, for pleasure and power, and just because that is who they are.”

    Should this be interpreted as “They all…”, “Most….”, “Some…” or “a few”???

    I confess that after reading the whole post from which the quote comes, I am not impressed.

    The quote itself makes two different and somewhat contradictory claims: first that society (which I take to imply a kind of “average moderately educated person”) is “opposed to the people who claim those credentials” (of expertise); and second, that even those who support (the opposite of “oppose”) intellectuals in some cases oppose them when they don’t like the conclusions.

    The whole post itself seems to be hung on this contradiction, as implied by the ambiguity of the sentence about how we (yes, I am a scientist and an intellectual) lie for pleasure and power, and because that’s who I am.

    • ” They lie for the sake of the task”

      It’s an allusion to Jane Jacobs’ Systems of Survival – what she calls the Guardian Moral Syndrome (as opposed to the Commercial Moral Syndrome). It’s a sort of jargon in other words that may be difficult to understand as plain speaking. If the post was an essay or footnoted formal text this should have been cited, but it’s just a weblog post that usually no one ever reads except me and two or three other fellows, and they all have read Jacobs and get it.

      That isn’t an excuse for the post, just an explanation so that the criticisms can be better targeted. Fire away.

  20. It is very simple. All humans, including those who happen to work in some field of ‘science,’ are economic and political animals.

    Earning a degree, or just getting one for parroting your ideological prof as is the case now in toooooooo many fields, does not change human nature at all.

    All humans are also individuals. Some individuals are more ethical than others. Some are not ethical at all, including some individuals working in ‘science.’

    All humans are prone to peer pressure and groupthink, particularly when their career or job or funding depends on it.

    • I agree completely. (Do note that this thing about “parrroting your ideological prof” applies to profs of all ideologies.)

      Then the question arises: how do people who don’t have scientific expertise, decide whether to believe a particular scientific claim?

      The author of the quote actually claims that we make such judgments based on whether the claim contradicts our “cherished biases”.

      Presumably even if one accepts this as empirically true as a description of people’s first response, intellectual integrity requires us to examine any such claims and our own assumptions that they challenge.

      • Paul Baer

        You quote:

        Then the question arises: how do people who don’t have scientific expertise, decide whether to believe a particular scientific claim?
        The author of the quote actually claims that we make such judgments based on whether the claim contradicts our “cherished biases”.

        IMO the author of the quote is basically wrong, Paul.

        In a past life, I had research scientists reporting to me. I was always impressed with the detail of scientific and technical knowledge these individuals had. But when they made “predictions”, in this case estimates of how much time and money a R+D project would cost and what it would achieve, I often had to make the judgment whether to proceed or not.

        This judgment was not made on the basis of greater scientific expertise than the researcher and it certainly was not made (as the author suggests) based on whether the claim contradicted my “cherished biases”.

        That premise is flawed and elitist.

        The general public often has more common sense than it is given credit for.

        Max

      • Max

        But when they made “predictions”, in this case estimates of how much time and money a R+D project would cost and what it would achieve, I often had to make the judgment whether to proceed or not.

        This judgment was not made on the basis of greater scientific expertise than the researcher and it certainly was not made (as the author suggests) based on whether the claim contradicted my “cherished biases”.

        In the domain where you were making decisions – the likely success of R&D projects – you were actually trained by experience (and whatever formal training) to be an expert. That’s good. On the other hand, presumably there were cases where you didn’t fund a project that, had it proceeded, would have been fruitful. That’s an inevitable part of R&D decisions.

        I am curious how you evaluated the scientific arguments that you didn’t fully understand.

        And I suspect that if someone had come to you with a lengthy mathematical treatise that suggested they could build a perpetual motion machine, you’d have ignored it, whether or not you could make sense of it. That’s a version of “cherished prejudices”, no?

        The general public often has more common sense than it is given credit for.

        True. But sometimes they say “Keep your government hands off my Medicare.”

        –Paul

      • Paul –
        And I suspect that if someone had come to you with a lengthy mathematical treatise that suggested they could build a perpetual motion machine, you’d have ignored it, whether or not you could make sense of it. That’s a version of “cherished prejudices”, no?

        Nope – a perpetual motion machine would be a violation of the basic laws of physics. And therefore not worth consideration. What “prejudices?”

        sometimes they say “Keep your government hands off my Medicare.”

        Yup – One of the facts of life is that people will fight to NOT lose what they’ve got. Witness the unions in Wisconsin that were and may still be breaking the bank. The choice is to allow them to continue – or to shut off the faucet that feeds the public trough. Either way, it’ll get shut off sooner of later. But sooner will allow the host organism to survive. Either way, the same people will scream“Keep your government hands off my (whatever).”

      • Yes, and quantum phenomena were a violation of the basic laws of physics. “God does not play dice”, said Einstein famously. Until the laws of physics were revised, yet again.

      • Until the laws of physics were revised, yet again.

        Yes – as they have been numerous times over the last 5,000 years. But nobody (including Einstein) has yet disconfirmed the 1st and 2nd Laws of thermodynamics. When that happens, then perpetual motion machines “may” become acceptable propositions. Maybe.

        quantum phenomena were a violation of the basic laws of physics

        Actually, now that I think about it – that’s not true. The problem was that the basic laws of physics were not understood as well as the scientists thought they were. Nor are they yet.

        Which statement also applies to climate science. :-)

        I don’t know (nor did Einstein) whether God plays dice. He doesn’t tell me those things. :-)

      • I think we actually agree here. The basic laws of physics are always only provisionally understood. Some, however, have been sufficiently well tested that we require unusually high levels of evidence before we call them into question. My point, perhaps made a bit too subtly, is that epistemologically, the second law of thermodynamics is still just a “cherised bias” (as was Einsteins belief in a deterministic universe).

      • the world ain’t that simple. You can define all the “laws” you want in physics, they way they’ll manifest themselves won’t be predictable just from a reading of the “law”,

      • Actually, you got that exactly backward. QM doesn’t violate classical mechanics, classical mechanics violates QM. Classical mechanics can be derived from QM with some simplifying assumptions.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correspondence_principle

      • My point was about the historical development of physics, not about any implicit hiearchy within the theory.

        But to repeat my point: it remains possible that (say) the first and second laws of thermodynamics will turn out to be special cases of some other principles, and to hold only contingently. The extent to which we consider this an ignorable possibility is, in a manner of speaking, no more than a “cherished bias.”

  21. It’s not difficult to see why that blog quote spoke to you, Judith.

    It’s impossible to miss that you see yourself as anti-authoritarian and believe that it is important to decentralize and demystify the institutionalization of science. Of course I don’t disagree that science activity raises issues around power and bureaucratization – because we live in a highly bureaucratized, power divided society.

    Consistent with the idea that the learning is theirs, not yours, you don’t seem to mind that many of your ‘denizens’ don’t have a clue what the quote means or what it means to you. On the other hand, it could be evidence of dumbing down or poor communication.
    :-(

    Anyway, here’s the thing: generally, the anti-intellectual card in America is played by conservative elites, and aimed against those who represent progressive thought. It is anti-thinking, and in it’s ‘common sense’ version, anti-intelligence (including practical intelligence). Obviously those playing the card are typically well educated, literate folk who benefit from the time they have spent on thought. As a popular political card, it is even played by Republican-policy promoting professors who live a relatively leisured life as a result of the extensive privileges afforded by intellectual life. ;-)

    The the values you most frequently defend on this blog are property, privatization and wealth, to the point of transparent elitism. But a meaningful anti-authoritarian stance is anti-elitist as well as pro-intelligence.

    • chris 1958

      The the values you most frequently defend on this blog are property, privatization and wealth, to the point of transparent elitism.

      I really can’t see where you get that from, Martha.

      For that matter, IMHO, the Democrat/left/liberal (pick the label of your choice) is often just as elitist as the Republican/right/conservative side of politics if my experience of the Australian equivalents is any kind of guide.

      Indeed, any group that has access to “the corridors of power” is by its nature “elitist” (even if sometimes it has to yield control to an opposing group).

      • don’t worry about it Chris. “Martha” is Greenfyre’s sidekick, amateur pop-psychologist and the unofficial Resident Hater of our host Judith, who is often vilified by “M” for the mere act of breathing. Expect your own motives to be ‘investigated” now with a thoughtful and reasoned (NOT!) analysis of why you are a stain in the history of humanity. Besides, if you do so much as to add two figures from the IPCC report, “Martha” will demonstrate (yeah, right) that it’s an act of Treason contrary to copyright laws. Yawn.

    • Martha, you finally got something correct. With regards to science, charcterizing me as “anti-authoritarian and believe that it is important to decentralize and demystify the institutionalization of science” is spot on. I’m “anti-elitist” as well.

    • Martha,
      As usual you miss the point and only show yourself as derivative, predictable and wrong.
      And, by the way, boring.

  22. ‘Although it has failed to produce its intended impact nevertheless the Kyoto Protocol has performed an important role. That role has been allegorical. Kyoto has permitted different groups to tell different stories about themselves to themselves and to others, often in superficially scientific language. But, as we are increasingly coming to understand, it is often not questions about science that are at stake in these discussions. The culturally potent idiom of the dispassionate scientific narrative is being employed to fight culture wars over competing social and ethical values. Nor is that to be seen as a defect. Of course choices between competing values are not made by relying upon scientific knowledge alone. What is wrong is to pretend that they are.’ ‘The Wrong Trousers: Radically Rethinking Climate Policy’.

    I had a different post in mind but Martha’s persecution of the climate wars was too annoying to ignore. It seems a clueless pontificating of the social democratic kind but so incoherent as to defy interpretation. A mere venting of the spleen at the military-industrial complex, private property and creating efficient markets by divesting of businesses governments shouldn’t be in. By her definition – the only smarts are associated with a revolutionary zeal.

    ‘From the saintly and single-minded idealist to the fanatic is often but a step.’ F A Hayek

    Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from
    the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration
    of justice; all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things. All governments which thwart this natural course, which force things into
    another channel or which endeavour to arrest the progress of society at a
    particular point, are unnatural, and to support themselves are obliged to be
    oppressive and tyrannical.’ Adam Smith

    If you would listen – there could be a way of moving forward on limiting the great atmospheric experiment. But you seem more interested in a radical agenda than in compromising and being effective. More interested in invective than solutions.

    We don’t like you Martha, we don’t think you’re smart, we don’t think you are right and we don’t think you are anything but a fringe activist – a misguided partisan in the climate wars.

  23. Chief

    Life is an “experiment”.

    Humanity has generally done what is best for humanity over the long haul. That is why there are now billions of people on Earth, many of whom are living in industrially developed, democratic societies, with a life expectancy of decades years more than the few million stone age or the few hundred million pre-industrial people had.

    Of course, this has happened in fits and spurts, with humanity occasionally drifting off into moments of massive self-destruction (such as WWII).

    I do not believe the evidence shows that the current “experiment” of increasing atmospheric CO2 by a few hundred ppmv has the potential of being such a “drift into massive self-destruction”, i.e. causing major problems to humanity or our environment, as you may fear (and IPCC has tried to sell to “policymakers” and an increasingly wary general public).

    So, rather than trying to define (or, even worse, actually implement) “solutions” (whose effectiveness or unintended consequences we cannot foretell) to a “problem” (which we do not know really exists), we should IMO do the sensible thing.

    That is, first, find out if there is likely to be a real problem, and if so, figure out how we can adapt to it if and when it actually occurs.

    Those are my thoughts which may or may not agree with yours.

    Max

    • Max

      The point is that we simply don’t know. Your argument is therefore strictly an argumentum ad ignorantiam or appeal to ignorance – an informal logical fallacy. It asserts that a proposition is necessarily false because it has not been proven true. To proceed in ignorance is foolhardy in any endeavour – even life’s experiment – especially with such a large scale and experiment.

      But what I have proposed repeatedly is far from dismantling industrial society. What I support is health, education, safe water and sanitation – population stabilisation and other humanitarian objectives. Storing carbon by restoring agricultural soils and conserving and restoring ecosystems. Reducing black carbon and stratospheric ozone for health, agricultural and and environmental benefits. Increasing energy research and development.

      Instead we have an impasse as both sides of the climate wars rehearse their stories in a superficial scientific idiom. One side willing to impose a non-solution at great cost to human societies. The great moral problem of the century in not carbon dioxide but increasing food and energy supplies by 3%/year for the rest of the century. Martha is one side of the problem in pursuing a single minded agenda – one I assume a limits to growth rationale rarely admitted to.

      But you Max are the other side of the problem – a problem one that is to get worse as the planet stubbornly refuses to warm. For reasons of oceanic variability that I can’t believe every one doesn’t understand. If the world is not warming why should we do anything? The answer is that we do not understand to any great degree – rather than we understand – complex and dynamic Earth systems.

  24. The quote doesn’t even make sense.

    “Do not confuse science with scientists, expertise with experts, or intellect with intellectuals. ”

    What does that even mean? What is an expert if not someone with expertise? Is it someone who doesn’t have expertise?

    What is a scientist if not someone who does science? Is it someone who doesn’t do science?

    “Society is not anti-intellectual or anti-science”

    On these issues society is not anything in particular. Some in soceity are anti-science and some aren’t. Some are anti-intellectual and some aren’t.

    ” [Society] is anti-intellectuals, opposed to the people who claim those credentials, and for excellent reasons.

    What is an intellectual in the terms of the quote? Is it merely someone who claims to be an intellectual or is it someone who both claims to be an intellectual and is one even though what one is isn’t defined except in terms of the claim. It is tortured and it is rubbish.

    ” Even those who on any given issue make appeals to the authority of selected scientists or experts will discount or reject equivalent authority when it does not confirm cherished biases”

    The only bit that makes any sense, and it perfectly describes inhabitants of both sides of the argument.

    Really though, the quote is as vacuous a load of old nonsense as I’ve ever had the misfortune to read, and I’ve been following this debate for some time now.

    • Given how often climate scientists have claimed that those who disagree with them are “anti-science”, it would appear that some effort needs to be made to disabuse them of their conceit. Disagreement with a scientist is not being anti-science. If you don’t find this quote adequate to make the point, you’re free to draft your own formulation.

      Bottom line — when scientists confuse opposition with a rejection of “science” their arrogance has rendered them effectively stupid.

  25. Joe Lalonde

    Judith,

    What I study has nothing to do with outside influences or striving for recognition or funding.

    I am looking at the bread crumb trail this planet has left to understand what it is doing and how it changes. By studying billions of years and not the current mind set of just a few hundred. A great deal of technology change has not been included into the current science laws and theories.
    Motion is a huge component to any energy.

  26. Joe,
    You keep leaving these cryptic little phrases but I have no idea what you mean. You say motion is a huge component to any energy. Fine. What role does motion play in climate? Is it responsible for ENSO or PDO? How do we know? How do you measure changes in motion? What timescales are involved? Are your thoughts based on a books, set of papers, or your own research?

    • Joe Lalonde

      Ron,

      This is based on my own research and experimentation.
      What is current science does not take into account the time frame MUST be included and expanded. A few hundred years out of 4.5 billion is very laughable in looking for a pattern to generate a model from.

      Motion and magnetics is very interesting studying the influence of the suns magnetic field to this planets and playing with the speeds and flipping the poles to understand how this is impossible to be achieved YET is practical IF a black hole is to be generated from a huge mass like the sun. Holding mass by the + and – being in sequence of the sun and planets. If the sun flipped it’s poles then mass can be drown as + and – are attracted. The Suns mass hold us at the ++ and — at the poles to prevent drifting away and yet influences the speed of motion with the interaction with our planets field.

      Many hypotheses is based on theories our planets rocks changed their polarity. This would take the flipping of our core. Again impossible then as the core would be rotating backward to the surface of the planets rotation.
      Rotate a glass in your hands and it will be rotating backwards with the same force when flipped upside down(yet magnetics upside down attract to each other).

      • Joe,
        Thank you for the response. I have to admit it is interesting to think about, but do you have any observations, measurements or anything to help understand what may be going on?

        Please don’t think my question is meant as a slight in any way. Much of Einstein’s work was based on imagination and was only confirmed by observation much later.

        I have seen evidence of “polar thawing” (if I can call it that) flip flop between north and south poles. I do not think I have ever seen a time when both poles were warming at the same time.

        I am convinced climate scientists do not understand many of the forces of nature at work which combine to cause our climate. It is a pet peeve of mine to see or hear one of them say “We know the basic physics.” Hogwash.

      • Joe Lalonde

        Thanks Ron,

        Like you, I never used to question science and believed all that was being put out. In that same token, the “peer-review” is from the same liked minded and mistake driven crowd.
        Try to put anything new or contradictory and you get back quotes from peer-reviewed papers, laws of science that science HAS to fall under or ignored.

        I just didn’t stop at the answers I was getting but continue with studying areas never before looked at such as the mechanics of planetary science. This is a massive area of having to study everything and pick out what is science facts from the suppositions and theories.

        I was find areas such as compression and expansion does not fall under any science laws, yet it is an energy occurring event of storing or releasing energy. Gases act differently cooled or heated in different forms of high compression and low compression. Super heat a gas and compress it can store more molecules and energy than cold compression in a cylinder through massive compression.
        I use a proxy of coil springs and weights with circular motion to show how speed in rotation is a huge factor to compression and the release of energy.

        Being a kid in a candy store, I did not stop at that one area but continued on into understanding the significance of the shape of using a orb compared to a flat circle which is current science is stuck in.
        If the science cannot go into the billions of years, then it is not correct such as many of the mathematical formulas that do not take into account of motion changes and the planets different make up of the past.

        I do not mind showing the vast amount of knowledge I have gained and moved far ahead of current science which is still stuck into a few hundred years out of billions.
        The salt trail is another fascinating area not looked at or understood as well.

  27. Craig Loehle

    An example of the problem with intellectuals is the book “Intellectuals” by Paul Johnson, where he shows that some of the most famous leaders of thought were way off course, divorced from reality, and that their ideas often led to disaster. In the climate change debate, I would point to those who claim that humans are a disease that needs to be purged from mother nature (I can’t wait to see someone defend this one). Or the famous quotes from Earth Day 1972 which said that the battle to feed humanity was over and we failed and hundreds of millions would starve by the year 2000. When these are the “intellectuals” then it is good to be “anti-“.

    • Captain Spaulding

      …Or the famous quotes from Earth Day 1972 which said that the battle to feed humanity was over and we failed and hundreds of millions would starve by the year 2000. …

      According to the FAO there were 803.7 million undernourished persons in the world in 1990-1992. This fell over the next decade to 783.1 million, then rose to 799.5 million. If you consider only those countries where the average kilocalorie deficit was greater than 300, the numbers are lower, 78.2 million in 1990-92 dropping to 15.2 in 2005-2007 mainly due to Bangladesh improving to a deficit of 290KCal.

      But by most definitions, over thirty years, hundreds of millions have starved.
      Some estimates are much more drastic, with 5 to 15 million deaths per year due to hunger, which would also have hundeds of millions dying of starvation.

      • never underestimate the power of lying through statistics. Yes, many died of hunger. No, it wasnt as bad as expected, by a long shot. Why? Because the number of living people increased a lot in the meanwhile. So the Earth Day 197x predictions were wrong, wrong, wrong.

      • Captain Spaulding

        As you pointed out, a basic problem in the underdeveloped world is undernourishment and starvation.

        Another is lack of clean drinking water.

        Yet another is the lack of a clean energy source for cooking, heating and lighting.

        Together these problems cause the death of millions in these countries each year.

        Endemic poverty, disease and corrupt, authoritarian governments have not helped.

        Another underlying problem is the lack of a low cost energy infrastructure in these nations.

        I am optimistic that this problem will be solved eventually. And it is most likely (barring some totally unknown new development) that this will be based on the use of low-cost fossil fuels, rather than more capital-intensive and less-reliable renewables or nuclear plants (proliferation concerns).

        So the per-capita “carbon footprint” will rise as the per-capita affluence (as measured in real GDP) rises.

        History in the developed and developing world shows us that these do rise hand in hand, but that affluence increases more rapidly than “carbon footprint”:

        Developed countries, such as those of the EU, Japan, USA, Canada, Australia, etc. have a high GDP to CO2 ratio ($2,000-3,000), followed by the large developing economies, such as China, India, Brazil, “Asian Tigers”, etc. ($500-1,000) and finally by the poorest nations ($300-400).

        And then the historical development of GDP in the developed world (and globally overall) has been more rapid than that of its carbon footprint (or CO2 emissions), IOW the GDP/CO2 ratio has increased overall.

        Another positive trend is that as affluence increases, birth rate decreases; the UN has projected that 21st century CAGR of human population will be at around 0.3% per year (compared to 1.7% per year over the period 1960-2000).

        But, despite these trends and no matter how much we wring our hands, it is probably inevitable that we will reach 550 ppmv CO2 in our atmosphere by the end of the 21st century, which (according to IPCC climate sensitivity estimates*) would cause an increase in global temperature (GMTA) of 1.5C above today.

        [*Note: If IPCC estimates are exaggerated by a factor of 2, this will occur at a CO2 level of 780 ppmv, which we might reasonably reach in the late 21st century, assuming this continues to increase at the same CAGR of around 0.4% per year, as we have seen most recently and also since Mauna Loa readings started in 1958.]

        So we should figure out what this sort of warming will mean for our world: who will be “winners and losers” (as JC has once indicated) and what local or regional adaptation measures might be necessary if and when this increase really does occur?

        Max