The case for blunders

by Judith Curry

Science is not concerned only with things that we understand. The most exciting and creative parts of science are concerned with things that we are still struggling to understand. Wrong theories are not an impediment to the progress of science. They are a central part of the struggle. – Freeman Dyson

Mario Livio has written a book entitled Brilliant Blunders.  I haven’t read the book, but I am intrigued by a review written by Freeman Dyson for the New York Times Review of Books The Case for Blunders.  Excerpts:

Science consists of facts and theories. Facts and theories are born in different ways and are judged by different standards. Facts are supposed to be true or false. They are discovered by observers or experimenters. A scientist who claims to have discovered a fact that turns out to be wrong is judged harshly. One wrong fact is enough to ruin a career.

Theories have an entirely different status. They are free creations of the human mind, intended to describe our understanding of nature. Since our understanding is incomplete, theories are provisional. Theories are tools of understanding, and a tool does not need to be precisely true in order to be useful. Theories are supposed to be more-or-less true, with plenty of room for disagreement. A scientist who invents a theory that turns out to be wrong is judged leniently. Mistakes are tolerated, so long as the culprit is willing to correct them when nature proves them wrong.

Brilliant Blunders, by Mario Livio, is a lively account of five wrong theories proposed by five great scientists during the last two centuries. These examples give for nonexpert readers a good picture of the way science works. The inventor of a brilliant idea cannot tell whether it is right or wrong. Livio quotes the psychologist Daniel Kahneman describing how theories are born: “We can’t live in a state of perpetual doubt, so we make up the best story possible and we live as if the story were true.” A theory that began as a wild guess ends as a firm belief. Humans need beliefs in order to live, and great scientists are no exception. Great scientists produce right theories and wrong theories, and believe in them with equal conviction.

The essential point of Livio’s book is to show the passionate pursuit of wrong theories as a part of the normal development of science. Science is not concerned only with things that we understand. The most exciting and creative parts of science are concerned with things that we are still struggling to understand. Wrong theories are not an impediment to the progress of science. They are a central part of the struggle.

The five chief characters in Livio’s drama are Charles Darwin, William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), Linus Pauling, Fred Hoyle, and Albert Einstein. Each of them made major contributions to the understanding of nature, and each believed firmly in a theory that turned out to be wrong. Each of these examples shows in a different way how wrong ideas can be helpful or unhelpful to the search for truth. No matter whether wrong ideas are helpful or unhelpful, they are in any case unavoidable. Science is a risky enterprise, like other human enterprises such as business and politics and warfare and marriage. The more brilliant the enterprise, the greater the risks. Every scientific revolution requires a shift from one way of thinking to another. The pioneer who leads the shift has an imperfect grasp of the new way of thinking and cannot foresee its consequences. Wrong ideas and false trails are part of the landscape to be explored.

The chief difference betwen science and other human enterprises such as warfare and politics is that brilliant blunders in science are less costly. Hannibal’s brilliant crossing of the Alps to invade Italy from the north resulted in the ruin and total destruction of his homeland. Two thousand years later, the brilliant attack on Pearl Harbor cost the Japanese emperor his empire. Even the worst scientific blunders do not do so much damage.

In my own life as a scientist, there was one occasion when I felt that a deep secret of nature had been revealed to me. This was my personal brilliant blunder. As my mother taught me long ago, the key to enjoyment of any sport is to be a good loser.

In Livio’s list of brilliant blunderers, Darwin and Einstein were good losers, Kelvin and Pauling were not so good, and Hoyle was the worst. The greatest scientists are the best losers. That is one of the reasons why we love the game. As Einstein said, God is sophisticated but not malicious. Nature never loses, and she plays fair.

JC comments:  Read the whole thing, its fascinating from the perspective of history of science as well as Dyson’s perspective on this.

With regards to climate science, the biggest concern that I have is the insistence on ‘the facts.’   This came up during my recent ‘debate’ with Kevin Trenberth.  I argued that there are very few facts in all this, and that most of what passes for facts in the public debate on climate change is: inference from incomplete, inadequate and ambiguous observations; climate models that have been demonstrated not to be useful for most of the applications that they are used for; and theories and hypotheses that are competing with alternative theories and hypotheses.

I particularly like Dyson’s clarification on facts vs theories:

Facts and theories are born in different ways and are judged by different standards. Facts are supposed to be true or false. They are discovered by observers or experimenters. A scientist who claims to have discovered a fact that turns out to be wrong is judged harshly. 

Theories have an entirely different status. Since our understanding is incomplete, theories are provisional. Theories are tools of understanding, and a tool does not need to be precisely true in order to be useful. A scientist who invents a theory that turns out to be wrong is judged leniently. Mistakes are tolerated, so long as the culprit is willing to correct them when nature proves them wrong.

The loose use of ‘the facts’ in the public discussion of climate change (scientists, the media, politicians) is enormously misleading, damaging to science, and misleading to policy deliberations.

I would also like to comment on the ‘good loser’ issue.  I wholeheartedly agree with Dyson.  In the annals of climate science, how would you characterize Mann’s defense of the hockey stick?  Other good or bad losers that you can think of in climate science?  The biggest problem is premature declaration of ‘winners’  by consensus to suit political and policy maker objectives.

 

538 responses to “The case for blunders

  1. We can hope this catastrophic diversion is central to the progress of climate science.
    ===========

    • This is the mildest catastrophe ever. What a mellow devastation: global warming is zip, zilch, nada! Isn’t it about time the Left admits Paul Ehrlich (The Population Bomb, 1968) and John Holdren (the government’s recently retired global warming science Czar) have been dead wrong about most everything? “We’ve already had too much economic growth in the US,” Ehrlich claimed. “Economic growth in rich countries like ours is the disease, not the cure.” The Left still believes this.

    • The hyperbole involved here is relating “climate science” as a serious science theory instead of the political culture movement that it is and has always been.

      A mendacious talking point if ever there was one.

    • The Lost Continent of Ku is – or rather, used to be – a very small continent about one and a half thousand miles Widdershins and slightly Hubwards of the continent of XXXX.

      It is possibly Discworld’s Atlantis, but whereas our world’s lost continent sank extremely quickly, Ku took about thirty years to completely subside. Its inhabitants spent a lot of time wading. It has gone down in Disc history as one of the multiverse’s most embarrasing continental catastrophes.

    • KIm, Diversion is attractive when faced with defeat.

      Clmategate is as simple as solving this 69-year old puzzle.

      https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/10640850/A_69_Year_Puzzle.pdf

    • cwon14, Dyson’s comment that “The decision was the result of powerful people pursuing partisan squabbles and neglecting the long-range interests of the empire. This is a disease to which governments of all kinds, including democracies, are fatally susceptible” is pertinent.

    • Faustino | April 22, 2014 at 12:41 am |

      I was thinking of Dr. Curry’s framing which is always far too of the “it’s about science” rhetoric when she fully understands it isn’t.

      The problem is as much in the dissent which denies the underlying evil of the general Greenshirt “cause”. We shouldn’t make heroes of the watered down framers of the debate.

  2. There’s quibble in his cause and effect in the Mediterranean and the Pacific.
    ====================

    • I think my point is that there earth-shaking consequences of the failure of this catastrophic excursion. It’s not just war elephants and warships, neither of which were of much strategic or tactical value. This delusion of catastrophe is of far greater moment and meaning.
      ===============

    • ‘that there are earth-shaking consequences’
      ==========================

  3. “The biggest problem is premature declaration of ‘winners’ by consensus to suit political and policy maker objectives.” – JC

    Or the premaure declaration of ‘losers’ by dogmatic contrarians to suit their preferred policy options.

    Strange to see Judith lamenting the loose use of “the facts” – you know, “the pause” and all that….

    • Judith Curry is rigorous about facts. Mann is not. Trenberth is not.

    • pokerguy (aka al neipris)

      “Thanks…”
      Michael, And yet I’ve asked you what you think, not told you since as I conceded, I don’t read most of your comments. Thanks to you for reminding me why.

  4. Oh, and every post must strive to, somehow, with what ever long bow can be brought to bear, invite a food fight over Judith’s favourite bete noire, Michael Mann.

    • Mann and Gore are both public figures — neither are real scientists — and, you can say what you want about them. Hold them up as icons to your faith, bless them, buy into their message of, “No, no, no not God bless America. God damned America.” Believe in them if you wish: that’s your religious freedom not science.

    • Michael, you make two mistakes.
      The expected one is defense of the indefensible–Mann, his broken hockey stick, his awful ‘science’ exposed by McIntyre, and his subsequent behavior. That merely categorizes you. No new information.
      The unexpected one is alleging every post here deals with Mann. I believe that statement is not a misrepresentation of the comment you make above. Your statement proves you are either mentally defective (no longer term memory) or duplicitous. Judith has hosted several guest posts from myself. None delt with Mann, although two delt with other hockey stick abominations. My sample is less than 1% of the total she has posted, yet still proves you flat out wrong.
      That is new information about you. It informs a new Baysian posterior ‘belief’ ( if you are a frequentist) or probability (if you are a Baysian). You are not just a CAGW believer defending the faith as it fails. You are just like Mann. You can take that literal inference from there.
      Another teaching moment from someone who ‘has been there, done that’. Any absolute assertion is most likely absolutely wrong. As you are here.

    • W,
      Thakyou, that was delightfully weird.

      Rud,
      You draw a nice long bow yourself. I give one sentence to noticing Judith’s predilection for invoking Mann at every posible juncture, which you parse as “a defence” and off you go down some rabbit holes of your liking.

    • pokerguy (aka al neipris)

      “Rud,
      You draw a nice long bow yourself. I give one sentence to noticing Judith’s predilection for invoking Mann at every posible juncture, which you parse as “a defence” and off you go down some rabbit holes of your liking.”

      Michael,
      Let’s try it this way. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you say anything remotely critical of Mann, though I only read something on the order of 1 percent of your comments, so I could be wrong. Now of course I celebrate your right to support a paranoid, hypocritical practitioner of lousy science if that’s your choice. But if it is your choice, at least have the guts to say so.

    • pokerguy,

      thanks for that supreme example of ‘climate skepticism’ – you don’t read what I write, but you believe you’ve never seen me say ‘X’.

      Yes, quite.

    • From someone whose armory consists solely of lumps of donkey poo mixed with straw.

      At least you have the advantages of producing your own ammunition.

  5. Why so much personalization of Science here?

    Overboiled Dyson worship, much?

    Linking arguments only to the people who made them (often mischaracterizing the argument) and then talking about the people, not the argument?

    Name-calling someone as a poor loser or beatifying someone as a good loser, just propaganda, merely obtaining disapproval of ideas linked to people we see being demonized or seeking to borrow the halo of more highly regarded names.. I don’t see Livio doing this so much, but Dyson and Curry both use Livio’s book as a vehicle to transparently carry on propaganda.

    And what the heck?! “VERY FEW” FREAKING FACTS?!

    Albert Einstein needed only four observations to develop five papers in a single year that overturned Physics. Newton’s apocryphal apple would be enough to define that Physics for two centuries up to Einstein’s time. While it’s true there isn’t enough data for the stadium wave analysis, based on ideas borrowed from megadata shopping cart methods, it’s not true that there’s little data, few facts, or too little information on which to draw rational inferences.

    What there is, is complaints from those who don’t like the inevitable conclusions drawn from the facts that there are. See how I did that? No name-calling, no linking the actions to the personalities, just citation of the facts and reasoning based on valid premises, not personalities.

    Try that sometimes.

    • Question: How would you respond to the people who say: There’s a threat and the natural, healthy thing to do is to reduce our risk and respond to it as best we can, even if we don’t understand it perfectly; if we wait till then, it will be too late?

      Freeman Dyson: No, that’s not the choice you have. Everything you do is risky. You don’t, just by trying to reduce burning fossil fuels–doesn’t mean you’ve got rid of the risk. Merely means you are taking different kinds of risk. They could be worse. It could very well be that the welfare of the planet would be damaged by reducing carbon dioxide. We just don’t know.

    • We just don’t know.

      http://lmgtfy.com/?q=Argument+from+ignorance

      http://lmgtfy.com/?q=we+just+don%27t+know

      We actually do know.

      Claiming otherwise is anti-scientific propaganda.

      Repeating the claim is sloganeering propaganda.

      We know it to be very nearly true. We know it to be accurate. We know it by inference. We know it from the mass of observed fact. We know it from the universality of the inference. We know it by the parsimony of the inference. We know it by the simplicity of assumption of the inference. We know it by Science.

      Claiming otherwise is just plainly lying.

    • catweazle666

      “We know it to be very nearly true. …. We know it by Science.”

      No we don’t.

      Stop making stuff up.

      From the tone of the majority of your posts I doubt you would recognise “Science” (I find your capitalisation interesting, incidentally) if it jumped up and bit you on your snout.

      As for “very nearly true”, hmmm….

    • It’s amazing how many red herrings you can include in one comment.

      Of course facts and data abound in climate science. But theories require more than that. They require PROOFS.

      There is a paucity of proof in “consensus” CAGW theory. The “consensus” scientists themselves often admit that.

    • Bart R, we do know that the banning of DDT in an attempt to prevent possible thinning of eagle eggshells probably killed 100 million people. And wind turbines now regulalry kill thousands of eagles because the green movement has “moved on” from saving eagle to saving the planet … god help us all.

      We do know that one Lancet article with fabricated data about autism and the MMR vaccine has killed 10s of thousands of children.

      Please stop trying to save the planet. We can’t afford the death toll.

    • George Turner

      Yes. We know that science tells us that the Earth’s optimum climate was reached during the disco era, and two degrees warmer or cooler spells mankind’s utter, horrifying destruction, because God made the world perfect for the perfect people who marched on campus and became environmentally aware. No matter what campus they were marching on, from Ilisagvik College in Barrow Alaska all the way down to the University of Southernmost Florida, the temperature on campus was perfect for all things, in all ways, in all seasons. And on each campus were placards that said, “Repent! Two more degrees and we’re all dead!”

      It’s science.

    • Steven Mosher

      Science has always been personalized.

      OT, but this may be interesting to read

      http://www.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/en/news/features/feature7

      “The controversy surrounding the theory of relativity was exceptionally heated. In many pamphlets one finds what might be described as a martial rhetoric of damnation; his opponents also staged acts of protest that sought to inflame public opinion against Einstein’s work. A complex process of marginalization and protest helps to account for the heated responses to Einstein’s theory.

      Non-academic researchers like Patschke announced public lectures, submitted essays, and tried to establish contact with Einstein and other leading scholars in order to warn them—as well-intentioned colleagues—of the falsehood of the theory of relativity and to convince them of the veracity of their own scientific worldviews. Patschke and others like him were often simply ignored; in other instances, it was patiently explained how their criticisms of the theory of relativity had completely missed the mark. But because their observations were anchored in specific worldviews, Patschke and his associates were immune to this type of criticism. Einstein’s opponents were simply not prepared to question their own worldviews and instead sought alternative explanations for why their objections were disregarded by the academics. With time, many turned to conspiracy to account for their marginal status: plots favoring Einstein, so they imagined, explained his success and their marginalization. Having reached this point, any sort of resolution of the controversy had become impossible.”

    • Jim Cripwell

      catweazel, you write “Stop making stuff up.”

      I wish. Sorry, this is a blog where our hostess, thankfully, hardly censors anything. So people like Steven Mosher, lolwot, John Carpenter, R. Gates, FOMD and here, Bart R. are going to go on writing this sort of stuff. I get the impression that they feel if they write these sorts of things over and over again, somehow they are going, by magic, to become facts. Of course, they wont.

      I am learning that in many cases it is better to ignore this sort of ignorance, than to comment on it, and give it more prominence.

    • “We know it by the parsimony of the inference.”

      Parsimonious explanations that butter no parsnips are the meat and potatoes of simple-minded Leftist ideology.

    • Steven Mosher | April 21, 2014 at 12:46 pm |

      Thank you. That was hilarious.

      catweazle666 | April 21, 2014 at 11:55 am |

      Thank you. That was hilarious.

      pottereaton | April 21, 2014 at 12:01 pm |

      Thank you. That was hilarious.

      sunshinehours1 | April 21, 2014 at 12:03 pm |

      That’s just sad.

      Jim Cripwell | April 21, 2014 at 12:52 pm |

      Your ironic use of the Big Lie to obtain disapproval by accusing people with next to nothing in common of some sort of Big Lie conspiracy could be funnier, if you perhaps included more words with unvoiced occlusive stops, particularly “K” and hard “G” words. Three out of ten on funny.

      Wagathon | April 21, 2014 at 12:55 pm |

      A bit obscure, and uses outdated references. Six out of ten. Keep trying, buckaroo.

    • Mosher- Imo you inaccurately equate the debates of general relativity and climate science.

      The realistic “debate” in climate science has to do with how much the temperature will change over timescales of importance to humans, what other conditions will change as a result and what should can and be done in response by different groups of humans with different goals.

      The debates were not similar regarding general relativity. In climate science the rational debates can not be proven right or wrong by mathematics until the system is much better understood.

    • When I listen to the public debates about climate change, I am impressed by the enormous gaps in our knowledge, the sparseness of our observations and the superficiality of our theories. Many of the basic processes of planetary ecology are poorly understood. They must be better understood before we can reach an accurate diagnosis of the present condition of our planet. When we are trying to take care of a planet, just as when we are taking care of a human patient, diseases must be diagnosed before they can be cured. We need to observe and measure what is going on in the biosphere, rather than relying on computer models.

      ~Freeman Dyson

    • Barty, your hysteria grows more severe as the pause continues to kill the cause.

      Rob, I didn’t see the part where Mosher equated the debates of general relativity and climate science. He said something about the personalization of science and then provided a link which he labeled OT. Did Mosher make a comment that was deleted, before I saw it?

    • Don Monfort,

      Are you Mosher’s yappy little puppy dog buddy?

      Andrew

    • Wagathon wrote:
      It could very well be that the welfare of the planet would be damaged by reducing carbon dioxide. We just don’t know.

      Yes, CO2 makes green stuff grow better using less water. Reducing CO2 would kill some life on Earth. This is not something we don’t know. This is something that is well known.

    • “Yes, CO2 makes green stuff grow better using less water. ”

      When all other things are equal.

      But they are not. The ecosystem is a complex and chaotic web of feedbacks.

      Does elevating CO2 cause the planet to be greener?

      The answer is, we don’t know. Why not just admit that?

    • “The ecosystem is a complex and chaotic web of feedbacks.”

      Atmospheric energy transport is a complex and chaotic web of feedbacks.

    • Steven Mosher

      “Mosher- Imo you inaccurately equate the debates of general relativity and climate science.”

      Huh, I equated nothing.

      I told Bart that science has always been personalized. That is, people are capable of personalizing anything and everything and historically they have done so.

      I then pointed Bart to a book I think he would enjoy.

      That book looks at various “lay” scientists for example that took on Einstein.

      I suppose they all thought they were Galileos.

      Any Historical parallels are mere coincidence.

      hehe

    • You have a bad case of mosheritis, andie. I have had my run ins with Mosher (I am sure he remembers), but when he’s right he’s right. And unlike most here, he is not just in the discussion to score points. Are we clear now, andie?

    • Steven Mosher

      Historical parallels.

      Very often in the debates about climate science, some electrical engineer
      will whip out his signal theory. Or some thermal engineer will prattle on about the earth being a heat engine.. and governors etc… or some guy will go on about the music of the spheres (tallbloke)

      When challenged that these guys are not scientists others will prattle on about the “patent clerk”. The patent clerk, the patent clerk..he was just a patent clerk..

      Our famous patent clerk also had his detractors…

      “One such self-proclaimed researcher and Einstein opponent is Arthur Patschke (1865–1934). Employed by Siemens Schuckert, a German electrical engineering company, Patschke saw himself as more than a design engineer of steam engines. Patschke was convinced that all phenomena—from the movement of the heavens to human thought itself—could be traced to the collisions of tiny ether particles. On this mechanical basis, Patschke went on to develop a scientific worldview in which ether attained a quasi-religious status as the key to the mysteries of the world.”

      There is nothing odd about cranks being out of their depth.

      As for great scientists, Dyson argues that great scientists have to have a theory. there is no such thing as a scientist who only doubts.. that would be a philosopher.. or skeptics

    • Quibble, quibble, quibble. Just read Patrick O’Brien. He owned a time machine, you know.
      ============

    • Also Mahan mayhap.
      =========

    • I mean ‘read’ Mahan mayhap. I don’t think he had a time machine, just a history book.
      =========

    • Steven Mosher baldly and badly asserts:

      As for great scientists, Dyson argues that great scientists have to have a theory. there is no such thing as a scientist who only doubts.. that would be a philosopher.. or skeptics

      Dyson argues no such thing. Mosher agues this, and hallucinates that Dyson does – oddly appealing to Dyson’s authority while simultaneously condescending to Dyson elsewhere to fluff his ego in the presence of others.

    • Steven Mosher

      JJ

      “We can’t live in a state of perpetual doubt, so we make up the best story possible and we live as if the story were true.” A theory that began as a wild guess ends as a firm belief. Humans need beliefs in order to live, and great scientists are no exception. Great scientists produce right theories and wrong theories, and believe in them with equal conviction.”

      please read harder.

      Note how dyson equates science with having beliefs, making theories.

      Note: skeptics arguing that they are doing great science by merely doubting.

      They are not. Dyson agrees.

    • Steven Mosher wrote:

      Note: skeptics arguing that they are doing great science by merely doubting.

      They are not. Dyson agrees.

      While you make a good point about many so-called “skeptics,” I would be hesitant to generalize too broadly. Certainly running around saying “nyah, nyah you can’t PROVE it!” is not doing science. However, reasoned critiques of theories can be performed without suggesting a replacement theory, and it can still be science.

      A couple of cases in point: first there are some quite cogent critiques of string theory being made today. These analyses show what is wrong with string theories yet do not aim to propose an alternate theory of everything. No physicist would call them “unscientific.”

      Closer to the climate science: McIntyre’s critiques of Mann’s work were well-reasoned and pointed out fundamental (and embarrassing) statistical errors made by Mann. Lumping those in with your crazy wacko “CO2 doesn’t trap heat” theories is unfair. Yet McIntyre was not proposing a new model; he was simply exposing problems with Mann’s.

      Interestingly (and not particularly relevant to this discussion), Mann did not respond to those critiques in a manner befitting a serious scientist.

      Critiquing an immature model that claims to be predictive enough to justify massive global economic upheaval seems eminently scientific to me. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The evidence presented to date is adequate to infer a human effect on global temperatures, but it seems premature to claim that it is adequate to justify the enormously costly (both in resources and human lives) interventions recommended by the self-proclaimed experts.

    • Science is conducted by people. It is personal. Science as we know it doesn’t exist without people. Science isn’t objective at the boots-on-the-ground level. It is contentious. It is personal.

    • Bart R

      No, Bart. “We do not know” for sure whether a few hundred ppmv added CO2 will be beneficial or detrimental to human society and our environment.

      But the Tol study concludes that the next 2C warming above today will have a net beneficial impact. This breakeven point could be even higher, if energy prices can be kept low, since a large part of the penalty after 2C is from added energy use.

      At the latest best estimates for the CO2 temperature response (TCR = 1.35C; ECS = 1.8C) this means that the next 455 ppmv CO2 (to 850 ppmv) will be beneficial (1.6C transient warming, 2C warming at equilibrium).

      We’ll have totally new, economically competitive and environmentally acceptable, energy sources before then, so there really is no problem.

      It’s all good, Bart.

      Max

    • manacker | April 22, 2014 at 12:24 am |

      First, you assert “we” do not know, then you assert knowledge “you” apparently know, though the rational foundations of that ‘knowledge’ is far shakier than the knowledge you assert “we” are ignorant of.. And you call that ‘good’?

      Why should anyone trust your confidence game claims of benefits for them, when so far as anyone can tell, the only sure benefits are to those in the fossil fuel business?

      How can Tol claim an unasked-for change is a benefit at all? If Tol jumped out of a dark alley in the middle of the night and tried to “benefit” me as he calculated it against my will, I would call that assault and give him the benefit of a vigorous self defense.

      Sure, you may look forward to wandering the streets waiting for economists to jump out and “benefit” you late at night; that’s your own business. Just don’t force it on the rest of us.

    • BartR, you are of course free to criticize Freeman Dyson as you choose. You might note, however, that he literally got his hands dirty in climate science for a decade, something few of the champions of the ‘consensus’ can say.

      The second brightest person on the planet disagrees with you. Go ahead and call his writing propaganda.

    • Steven Mosher doubles down on his projection-driven reading incomprehension with:

      JJ

      “We can’t live in a state of perpetual doubt, so we make up the best story possible and we live as if the story were true.” A theory that began as a wild guess ends as a firm belief. Humans need beliefs in order to live, and great scientists are no exception. Great scientists produce right theories and wrong theories, and believe in them with equal conviction.”

      please read harder.

      Steve, please read a good deal less harder, and a whole lot mo better. In particular, please read a lot more from what is written, and much less into it.

      Note how dyson equates science with having beliefs, making theories.

      Uh, no. Nothing Dyson said – or paraphrased others saying in reference to their quote of what yet a third person said – was directed at the definition of science. You made that up.

      What Dyson is paraphrasing Livio as quoting Kahneman saying is not about defining the necessary constituents of “great science”. It is instead a statement about the human condition. The statement is that scientists are human, and share human frailties: everyday Joe invents and holds firmly to false beliefs, and so does scientist Bob. Here Kahneman does not equate science with making theories, he equates scientist with human. Kahneman’s statement (twice chewed and regurgitated thru Livio and then Dyson) is about what is true about scientists, not about what ought to be true about science.

      You make the same mistake misinterpreting Kuhn. A philosophy 101 treatise on the is/ought fallacy ought to be on Steven Mosher’s required reading list, but it isn’t.

      Note: skeptics arguing that they are doing great science by merely doubting.

      They are not. Dyson agrees.

      LOL. Mosher puts Mosher’s words into the mouths of skeptics, and then Mosher puts Mosher’s complaint about the words Mosher puts into the mouths of skeptics into the mouth of Dyson.

      Sorry, but no. Dyson said no such thing.

      What Dyson has been saying – and getting much press for having said it – is that the current state of “climate science” is characterized by some lousy science behavior on the part of some “climate scientists”. In particular, he calls out their propensity to over-conclude from grossly inadequate data, projecting what they want to see in place of what is actually there. As you do here.

      Dyson is making some harsh criticisms, about the likes of you.

      BTW, Kahneman was wrong when he said, ““We can’t live in a state of perpetual doubt, so we make up the best story possible and we live as if the story were true.”

      Though this is frequently the case, it is not universally true. Some can “live in a state of perpetual doubt”. And do. They seek out the best story available, and live as if the story might be true – never giving up their doubt or the utility of alternative explanations, especially WRT their own BS. Humans are quite capable of this, and great scientists are no exception.

    • Steven Mosher

      Sorry JJ you still dont get it.
      When Dyson quotes somebody else to make his argument for him, when he takes those words and takes no exception to those, when he makes no caveat, he accepts that statement and all it implies.
      Scientists are human. As such they cannot live without having beliefs.
      Doubt is a tool of science it is not the goal of science.
      To do great science you must have a belief, espouse a theory.

      Dyson agrees that skeptics are not doing great science.

    • Steven Mosher attempts to evade the obvious with:

      Sorry JJ you still dont get it.

      I get it. Your will not admit that your obsession with skeptics is your obsession with skeptics.

      When Dyson quotes somebody else to make his argument for him,…

      Dyson isn’t making an argument. He is giving a book review. That said, nothing in the quotation you gave from his book review – even if interpreted as his own argument – says what you claim it does: ““Skeptics are not doing great science.” It simply is not there. You are hallucinating.

      Scientists are human. As such they cannot live without having beliefs.

      Yes, scientists are human, and humans have beliefs i.e. scientists have beliefs because they are human. That is Dyson’s thesis. But that is not what you have been attributing to him, which is this:

      As for great scientists, Dyson argues that great scientists have to have a theory. there is no such thing as a scientist who only doubts.. that would be a philosopher.. or skeptics

      Dyson said none of those things. That is 100% Mosher. Especially that last bit, which directly contradicts what Dyson actually said – unless you now claim that Dyson said that philosophers and skeptics are not human.

      Doubt is a tool of science it is not the goal of science. To do great science you must have a belief, espouse a theory.

      So says Mosher, who evidently is somewhat insecure on that point, given that he feels the need to pretend that others have also said that when they have not.

      Dyson agrees that skeptics are not doing great science.

      Dyson says no such thing. That is the expression of your petty hatreds, not anything said by Dyson. Dyson has said that some climate scientists are doing science that is not so great, and the cure that he has recommended for that circumstance is a big dose of skepticism. Dyson actually says:

      “I think any good scientist ought to be a skeptic.”

    • I’m finding myself in agreement with lolwot.

      RE: But they are not. The ecosystem is a complex and chaotic web of feedbacks. Does elevating CO2 cause the planet to be greener?
      The answer is, we don’t know. Why not just admit that?

      Our ecosystem is complex. We can theorize on whether elevated levels of CO2 make for a greener (by which I mean – total mass of plant life) planet or not. Just as we can theorize that elevated levels of CO2 make for a warmer world. What we don’t know is the complexity of the climatic system and how it responses. Hence making an assumption that since warm air can hold more water than cold air, we can simply add a 3x factor for water vapor into the models.

    • Tom Fuller | April 22, 2014 at 6:06 am |

      Was it a full decade?

      I thought it was one summer and a bit in ’76 in JASON until the Harvey distracted him, and then a few months in ’79 with IEA, doing typical reanalyses of other people’s data, before FJD flitted off to something else involving eschatology?

      But then, I don’t keep close tabs.

      And yes, I talk quite often to the second brightest person on the planet, who invariably disagrees with me about something; however I doubt you’ve ever read anything she’s written.

    • > And yes, I talk quite often to the second brightest person on the planet, who invariably disagrees with me about something; however I doubt you’ve ever read anything she’s written.

      OK, Bart R. Not that I want to personalize anything, but I’m curious.

      Who?

    • willard (@nevaudit) | April 23, 2014 at 2:09 pm |

      You fare so much better in exchanges and are so well worth reading when you stick to issues rather than discuss people, what possible incentive could motivate me to tempt you to personalization by answering, and thus deprive me of you at your best while breaking with my own philosophy?

    • …. when he takes those words and takes no exception to those, when he makes no caveat, he accepts that statement and all it implies.

      ‘Tis fascinating how the White Night himself sometimes sees fit to don his black armor.

      Selective reasoning is….er….selective, steven.

  6. Theory: the schoolteachers of modern Western academia should be the keepers of the flame of reason but instead are blowing out the light.

    • David L. Hagen

      Facts, formulations, or fictions?
      Solid facts of sufficient accuracy, extent, and duration are the greatest weakness of current theories. Nigel Fox of NPL’s TRUTHS project shows how satellite “facts” are still so uncertain that we could improve their accuracy by an order of magnitude! – and thereby reduce time to distinguish between theories by 1/3rd.

      “Hard” Physics The wave theory of electromagnetism is so accurate that NIST and is now pushing frequency/time measurement with An optical lattice clock with accuracy and stability at the 10^−18 level, B. J. Bloom et al. Nature 506, 71–75 (06 February 2014) doi:10.1038/nature12941
      Climate “theories”With current climate model “projections” (or “prognostications”?) we do yet not even know the “sign” of the temperature trends over the next two decades.
      Will we fry? (the politically correct alarmist vision of near term hell due to anthroprogenic CO2),
      Or freeze? – as we descend into the next glaciation per geological evidence of periodic glaciations. Each of these theories has its proponents.
      Current 34 year “projections” by global climate models are so unvalidated that modelers and protagonists may believe they are headed towards Venus, but could well end up on Mars.
      Goldilocks? Or are we restoring Earth’s natural productivity by restoring the normal CO2 concentration in the atmosphere from stored solar energy? (aka fossil fuels.)
      At The Right Climate Stuff, ex NASA scientists are reviewing the evidence and argue for modest CO2 increases, constrained by the availability of economically recoverable fossil fuels.

      We need to direct funding to where it does the most good. Away from “alarmists” towards those with the most accurate models – and to foundational physics to better understand and quantify clouds and atmospheric water that contribute to 97% of the uncertainty.

    • David L. Hagen

      Adam Frank observes: The Importance Of Mistakes

      More importantly, no matter how it happens making mistakes is exactly what scientists are supposed to do. “Our whole problem is to make mistakes as fast possible,[ and recognize them]” John Archibald Wheeler once said.

      What make science so powerful is not just the admission of mistakes but also the detailing of mistakes. While the OPERA group might now wish they had waited a bit longer to make their announcement, there is no shame in the mistake in-and-of itself. If they step into the spotlight and tell the world what happened, then they deserve to be counted as heroes just as much as if they’d broken Einstein’s theory.

    • making mistakes is exactly what scientists are supposed to do

      They got that part right.
      That is one of their skills that we skeptics do not challenge.

    • “Our whole problem is to make mistakes as fast possible,[ and recognize them]”

      But, Consensus requires that you never admit that you made a mistake. So you hide stuff, like declines, and use nature tricks and find proxy data to make hockey sticks with.

  7. Hannibal’s entire empire contained fewer people than have been killed by Newton’s successes on simple projectile motion. How many people died from the successful work of atomic physicists within a few decades? And that’s the good science.

    Bad science contributed to Spanish Influenza and bad medical science hardly starts and ends at the flu. Praising scientists for being “mostly harmless” compared to mere armed thugs like the emperor of Japan and mounted international bandits like Hannibal reveals a blind spot big enough to smuggle an H-bomb through under the cover of unwashed surgeon’s hands.

    • How many people died from arrow? How many died from the mosquito? How many died from the Left’s ban of DDT? How many will die from the Left’s war on energy?

    • How many have died because their governments killed them?

      Andrew

    • George Turner

      Not nearly enough to appease, deter, or enlighten them, Wagathon. Never nearly enough. You can walk them through one of their disasters right up to the point where they have an epiphany, but then they realize that their previous anointed leader was actually a ultra right-wing corporate goon, even if they have to define what right-wing is, but that’s about as far as you can get. In their whole history, they have never been wrong, and everyone who was ever right is on their side, making it quite easy for them to know who’s right (they are) and who’s wrong (people on the other side).

    • George Turner

      As an aside, what success did Newton have on projectile motion? That was all put to bed by Galileo a half century earlier in “Two New Sciences.”

    • George Turner | April 21, 2014 at 12:09 pm |

      As evidenced by the success of Italian cannons over British cannons in the two centuries since Newton?

    • Steven Mosher

      you are confusing science with technology–know how.
      projectiles were used effectively long before Newton for example
      Munjong’s weapon.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singijeon

    • George Turner

      Bart, would that be because Italian cannon balls would follow parabolic arcs in the absence of air resistance, which Galileo explained in some detail in his writings on the motion of projectile weapons, specifically on balls fired from cannon, whereas British Newtonian cannonballs followed some other kind of curve, perhaps an arc of a circle or an ellipse?

    • Steven Mosher | April 21, 2014 at 12:57 pm |
      George Turner | April 21, 2014 at 1:20 pm |

      Fellas, just because the topic is the Case for Bludners doesn’t mean you have to make them. (See, Persian flwa, and play on ‘bludgeoners’.)

      Newton’s tables so greatly increased the accuracy of British artillery as to in effect create the British Empire, spreading a tiny island nation’s influence to conquer a dominion on which the Sun never set. The Italian influence on the seas were wiped out, and its military considered a joke.. pretty much to today. So were the Spanish. Asia didn’t stand a chance. It wasn’t until successful imitation and technical improvements by rivals caught up that the many disadvantages of limited population, talent and resources in England displaced that advantage, led by the example of the USA.

      If you are so mistaken as to make a historical argument, at least know your history.

    • George Turner

      Bart, I’m pretty sure you have Isaac Newton confused with Isaac Newton Lewis, who lived centuries later but did at least make innovations in artillery. Galileo worked on artillery as a paid consultant to one of the world’s leading weapons arsenals. Newton, not so much.

      Can you perhaps point to one of these artillery tables that Newton made? I would be fascinated to see how Newton produced them to such accuracy without having any way to measure the muzzle velocity of British cannon, since that instrument wasn’t invented until 1740. Also, ways to measure drag in fliight weren’t developed until the late 1800’s.

      I have to ask, are you sure you didn’t get your science and military history from a bodice-ripping romance novel?

    • I studied this stuff for practical reasons at the War College. My memory says that an Italian called Tartaglia(?) in the 1500’s made the observation that projectiles travel in a curve. And Englishmen deveoloped the ballistic pendulum. Other than an uncanny ability to direct accurate artillery fire using the basic method of gun-target-line, that’s all I got out of my formal studies.

    • Steven Mosher

      I think Bart should spend some time studying military history.

      This was his claim

      “Hannibal’s entire empire contained fewer people than have been killed by Newton’s successes on simple projectile motion.”

      Now note, this claim says nothing in opposition to Dyson’s claim

      “The chief difference betwen science and other human enterprises such as warfare and politics is that brilliant blunders in science are less costly. Hannibal’s brilliant crossing of the Alps to invade Italy from the north resulted in the ruin and total destruction of his homeland. Two thousand years later, the brilliant attack on Pearl Harbor cost the Japanese emperor his empire. Even the worst scientific blunders do not do so much damage.”

      Dyson’s claim:
      Blunders in Warfare are more costly than Blunders in Science.
      Hannibals blunder caused the loss of his empire.
      we should note that it does not matter how many people Hannibal
      ruled. What matters is he lost it all. 100% loss rate.

      Bart, logic imparied, writes
      Netwons success killed more people than Hannibal lost.

      Hmm.
      well a couple points as many of us have pointed out success in artillery predates Newton and its not possible to calculate the incremental advantage his advances created. We want numbers.
      Second, Dysons point is not comparing the FAILURE of war making endeavors with the SUCCESS of science. he is comparing the FAILURE
      of human judgment in war with a FAILURE in science.

      For Bart to make his point he needs to cite a failed scientific theory that caused damage greater than the loss of an entire empire.

    • Steven Mosher

      Perhaps Bart is confusing Newton with the real innovator Benjamin Robbins inventor of the ballistic pendulum and writer of the bible on artillery
      ( mid 1700s) new principles of gunnery

    • Yes, Robbins is the man. And it is my recollection that the British ruled the seas because they had marginally better cannon technology and well trained and managed gun crews that could shoot straighter and load faster than their lackadaisical competitors. Barty fails again.

    • k scott denison

      Mosher, Don, pretty soon Bart will be along to tell you all that you missed his joke.

    • George Turner

      As I understand it, the British navy had better ships (tougher hulls) with more guns, and gun crews that could load and fire quickly. But they didn’t bother much with accuracy because their method was to overwhelm their opponents with the sheer weight and power of their broadsides at extremely close ranges. In contrast, the American frigates emphasized accuracy, and would pick a British ship apart from long range before closing with it. That required a lot of gunnery target practice, which was virtually unheard of in the British Navy at the time.

      Also, Newton wouldn’t have had much of anything useful to contribute to gunnery, as his drag theory is very incorrect below Mach 5 or so. (Hypersonic flow is Newtonian, supersonic and subsonic flows are not).

    • We get barty’s jokes, scott. Seen his type of comedy:

      We just play along to keep him going.

    • Steven Mosher

      ya Don,

      I think John Batchelor had a writer on who discussed the advances in naval technology, as I recall he cited British training as a key
      to their success. If you dont listen to John its probably the only worthwhile
      conservative radio talk show.. dennis wingo was a guest a while back.

      http://johnbatchelorshow.com/podcasts

      Lincoln Paine was the author I think

      He also does great book reviews with the authors.. typcially 3 hours

      this was hella cool

      http://www.amazon.com/Project-Azorian-CIA-Raising-K-129-ebook/dp/B004P1JENO/ref=la_B000AQ28NQ_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391887992&sr=1-2

    • I listen to John Batchelor occasionally. He’s on at a time when I am usually doing something else. I think I will keep that link handy and follow what he is scheduled to talk about. I don’t care for the space exploration stuff that he seems to like. I would rather the gov spend my money on something practical, like tanks.

    • Steven Mosher

      george
      ‘British ship apart from long range before closing with it. That required a lot of gunnery target practice, which was virtually unheard of in the British Navy at the time.”

      Now I have to go find the book that Bachelor reviewed. I think you are right and I’m misremembering what I heard. I thought it was the Brits who practiced more

    • Steven Mosher

      Let me help Bart

      Dyson’s point: failure in science is no big deal. Failure in other human endeavors (like war ) can be a much bigger deal.

      What about DDT?

      is the ban on DDT a failure of science? bad theory? killed millions according to some ( I will suspendjudgement)

      What “scientific” theories caused the death of millions? surely there are some.

      Wait. Judith endorses Dyson. Bart needs to deligitamize her. So he attacks Dyson, but doesnt even get the argument right.

      Why does this sort of thing happen?

      My theory is that joshua is infectious

    • Yikes, all my blathering about O’Brien and Mahan was on the wrong subthread. See above for de troot, which is all relative anyway, varied as it did with each shot heard round the whole board.
      ==============

    • — Steven Mosher | April 21, 2014 at 5:55 pm |

      Let me help Bart

      Dyson’s point: failure in science is no big deal. Failure in other human endeavors (like war ) can be a much bigger deal.

      What about DDT?

      is the ban on DDT a failure of science? bad theory? killed millions according to some ( I will suspendjudgement)–

      The public should be more skeptical- as should politicans, but it’s more important that public be skeptical of claims were are suppose to be scientific – and even if there are actually scientific. And the public should skeptical of politicians in general.
      The lack of skeptical public, is reflection of poor public education. Instead being trained in critical thought public education is comprised of lack of this and in addition are indoctrinated in various pseudo sciences. One area of pseudo science is related how teachers should teach, the subject teaching is as bad a climate science [or worse]. This is not really new, but there is appearance that subject of teaching more exact than what it is, which a badly developed art..

    • Steven Mosher | April 21, 2014 at 5:55 pm |

      Read harder.

      The passage about the ‘good’ science reveals science-begat mortality beggaring the scale of Dyson’s little war story.

      The subsequent passage is the one that directly provides ample evidence in contradiction to Dyson’s pulled-out-of-his-rear-end claim.

      Sure, some may trot out DDT apocrypha if they like: any such claim too argues against Dyson in both directions: either the ignorance that led to the mythic DDT ban led to gazillions of attributed deaths, or the ignorance of how to go about quelling the deaths more properly ascribed other causes did, and in either case, would that the people making decisions used proper evidence-based policy to do better. However, hauling out the emotive and controversial DDT argument is far more likely just to polarize discourse and result in obtaining disapproval rather than clear and rational exchange.

      The details of how Newton laid the groundwork for British naval dominance are really not pertinent. Quibbling over the trivia of a dead empire doesn’t do anything for us now. In particular, as the topic is blunders, and by no means could the British be accused of failure of Science in the advancement of their maritime prowess.

      Go ahead, discuss the blunders of Spanish Influenza and resistance to hygiene and understanding of the microbial basis of contagious disease in medicine that I do refer to relevant to the Dyson claim. Science blunders are not nearly so mostly harmless as Dyson handwavingly asserts. Maybe if he used soap and water on those hands before operating?

    • Barty, wasn’t it you who brought up the British Empire? You must remember your story about Newton’s artillery tables ruling the seas.

    • George Turner

      Bart:

      The details of how Newton laid the groundwork for British naval dominance are really not pertinent.

      Not only are the details not pertinent, they’re nonexistent, unless Newton invented a time machine and traveled back a century to explain naval artillery and ballistics to Sir Francis Drake. The British Navy didn’t use sophisticated Newtonian artillery tables that couldn’t even work on a rolling ship, where the order to fire was followed by gun captains lighting a long fuse or using a linstock on a touchhole, from over to the side to be out of the way of the recoil, and then waiting for the gun to go “boom” – while the ship is rolling. Until the development of constant aim firing (with gyroscopes and so forth), that was about as good as naval gunnery got.

    • The technology that allowed a cannon ball to be accurately fired at a target was, initially, a tall rule with a series of holes drilled in, wooden sticks, like match-sticks, a standardized small mortar, a standardized small ball and a standardized scoop.

      You placed the match sticks in the holes on he rule and set it up vertically above the mortar. You scoop a known volume of powder into the mortar, place the ball on top and then fire it. The charge fires the ball vertically and it breaks off the match sticks it reaches.
      The better the powder, he better the powder.
      This meant that one could transport powder on campaign, and test it before battle. Then using tables one could match powder strength, from a single barrel, to distance.

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

    • What “foundation” means.

      http://fredrickey.info/talks/impact_of_ballistics_on_math.htm

      1726: “A Demonstration of the 11th Proposition of Sir Isaac Newton’s Treatise of Quadratures. By Mr. Benjamin Robins Benjamin Robins, Isaac Newton,” Philosophical Transactions (1683-1775), Vol. 34, 1726 – 1727 (1726 – 1727), pp. 230-236.

      1735: A discourse concerning the nature and certainty of Sir Isaac Newton’s methods of fluxions, and of prime and ultimate ratios. By Benjamin Robins. London, Printed for W. Innys and R. Manby, 1735. ii, 78 p. 20 cm. Columbia: SMITH 517 1735 R55

    • George Turner

      Bart, neither of those works have anything to do with artillery.

      You’ve gone from claiming the British used Newton’s artillery tables (which never existed) to take control of the seas (which they’d held for a century before Newton) to pointing out that someone who made advances in artillery had also, by gosh, read other treatises by Newton that had nothing to do with artillery. I’m sure that at some point you’ll drag Kevin Bacon into this linkage.

    • George Turner | April 21, 2014 at 9:48 pm |

      *yawn*

      Can you get past the part where you don’t know what Sir Isaac Newton did without blundering, to the part where you don’t know how bad medical Science blunders spread Spanish Influenza?

      That way, you’ll at least be wrong on topic.

    • George Turner

      Sorry Bart, but I can’t even figure out what you’re saying with that one.

      Newton didn’t revolutionize artillery, and Newtonian mechanics is useless for improving artillery past Galileo’s work until you do a whole, whole lot more math and have better equipment, most of which wasn’t developed until much, much later. A closed-form solution to ballistics wasn’t even proposed until 1989, and most work still relies on earlier drag models developed in the 1880’s. That’s why generating artillery tables took an enormous amount of computations, employing lots and lots of ‘computers’, eventually spurring the Army to fund ENIAC.

      So no, I don’t think Newton’s work in ballistics killed millions of people, much less one.

    • George, PLEASE! Won’t you allow that at least on poor soul has been slaughtered by Newton’s artillery tables, which no doubt will be found some day in the dusty basement archives of obscure documents in some out of the way little British museum? (so he will stop yammering on about it)

    • George Turner

      yeah Don, I should probably do that. He should’ve just said “I meant Galileo”, but of course Galileo was a weaponeer so attributing lots of deaths to him would be a compliment. BTW, what Galileo wrote about impact weapons was really illuminating for me, remaking off-hand what ‘everybody knows’, which happened to be ideas more advanced than were accepted in the martial arts world circa the late 1990’s.

      Interestingly, I once corresponded with the dean of science history at Yale, telling him that Christian Huygens work on pendulums, suggested by Marin Mersenne (which involved swinging triangles by their vertex and by their bases to figure out why they moved as they do, which Mersenne said was the most famous problem in all of physics), was exactly the same problem as finding the center of percussion of a sword. The professor went through the personal letters they’d exchanged, and sure enough, they were talking about a sword.

      I think the problem was probably suggested by Galileo, who also worked on pendular motions. In a work dating to 1640, it was mentioned that they knew how to solve for the center of percussion of about 20 plane figures, but still lacked a good theoretical basis for why impact reactions and pendular motion would be so exactly related, which Huygens finally solved by dividing the object into an infinite number of little rectangles. in the hundred years prior to Newton, all major advances in physics were the result of studying pendular motions and impacts, and as I found out, the basic question was how a sword worked, because at some point everybody had conflicting and strongly held notions about it.

    • George Turner | April 21, 2014 at 11:48 pm |

      You guys continue to digress into DDT or D&D or Swords & Sorcery and whatnot, as it looks like it’s impossible to get you back on topic.. which does little harm, as you were no better at the actual subject than at Galileo worship. Not that there’s much wrong with liking Galileo; he was good to his daughter, after the fashion of his time sticking her in a convent, so at least that’s something.

      I mean, it could be worse; you could be Bernoulli fanatics or Hooke followers.

      Really, I have little enough patience for the two or three original thinkers England produces in a century to spend time wondering if the hairsplitters are touting the wrong third-rate gun afficionado or not.

      Though Galileo could teach Leonardo nothing about weapons.

    • ..and yes, I get that Italy isn’t England.

      But it also wasn’t Italy then, either.

      And yes, I get that Galileo and da Vinci were not contemporaries, and that da Vinci isn’t noted for his work on clocks, and that it’s hard for you to acknowledge that Robbins’ work was founded on Newton’s work, as was Euler’s, and if you’re dismissing Euler (through the French) and Robbins in seafaring advantages the British used to build their empire, you really have been playing too much Swords and Sorcery.

    • George Turner

      Bart, you just keep digging your own hole.

      Robbin’s work was on Newton’s mathematics, not artillery, because Newton didn’t really have anything to add about artillery other than perhaps a very incorrect equation for drag, because Newton’s drag theories were of pure particle impacts as if they were beams of light or billiard balls. His theory actually works above Mach 5 or so, making it quite simple to analyze hypersonic re-entry with things like cardboard cutouts, but virtually useless at lower velocities where Bernoulli and Navier-Stokes hold sway.

      Also, you seem to be one of the people who think swords and sorcery are related, which says a lot about you and your knowledge of physics but very little about physics. Figuring out solid body impacts was key to developing Newtonian mechanics, and the the main obstacle is that humans are hardwired to learn throwing and striking, so we start experimenting at freakishly young ages, which is why you sometimes have to duck in a restaurant as some kid in a high-chair launches food with a spoon.

      Our early (childhood) experiments tend to produce an Aristotlean “oomph” theory of impact and motion which is in contradiction to Newtonian mechanics, and teasing apart what really happens with the impact of a sword, pole arm, axe, club, or bat is one of the hardest leaps to make in all of science, which is why it took so long and why the Aristotlean notions continually reappear in areas like professional baseball, fencing, or martial arts.

      So, for those in the slow class, the pommel of a sword isn’t for balance, it’s to set the location of the center of percussion relative to the top hand’s index finger, just as you can adjust the period of a pendulum by adding a weight above the pivot point. That allows the center of percussion to move out to the point, or a hand span back from it, which is the only part of a medieval sword that was actually sharpened, since the rest of the blade was often grabbed so the steel could be used much like a rifle with a bayonet. There’s been some fairly recent work in the American Journal of Physics about using the same concept to set the center of percussion of tennis racquets, which is oddly retreading the same ideas in tennis racquet design suggested in Italy in the 1640’s.

      The outgrowth of figuring out how swords work, along with other impact weapons, was Newton’s laws of motion. The side effect was an answer so simple and obvious that everybody went on to more interesting questions, because the answer is that there is no magic spot, body weight plays no role in the impact, hand shock actually contributes a very small bit to the blow, and that to hit hard you have to swing hard, just like baseball, golf, or driving nails. The edge of the blade is just a wedge, which Galileo analyzed along with impacts (which was truly brilliant) stripping edged weapons of any mystique whatsoever.

      Then,probably sometime in the early to mid 1800’s, when real cutting swords were long discarded and forgotten, a bunch of morons who couldn’t do even basic physics took over and re-invented the field, absent any actual information or even the suspicion that Western physics was based on solving a perplexing and famous problem in the history of science. Victorian era thoughts on the subject are ridiculously bad, and the investigations were led by a heroin addict who thought the Irish homeland must be in central Africa, since the two races were so similar. It got worse from there.

      By the late 1990’s the theories of sword impact included surface acoustic waves, fifth harmonic vibrations, and electron spin resonance. F=ma wasn’t considered even a remote possibility. So I wrote up a 300+ page paper on how sword impacts and motions actually work, and the response from some quarters was hilarious.

      Experts in Japanese swordsmanship dismissed it as another academic attempt to understand the infinite mysteries of the blade, suggesting that perhaps future advances in supercomputers could shed some light on the subject. A sword has a third as many moving parts as a pair of scissors. How hard could it be?

      Other experts argued that I was wrong to dismiss the momentum of the swordsman’s momentum in the blow, arguing that if they struck at me from a moving tank, they would strike with the entire momentum of the tank. I pointed out that in their cartoon physics world I could plant my feet firmly and defend against their attack with the mass of the entire planet. Grad students in physics were offering up such ridiculous nonsense, and such is the power of our childhood notions about how hitting things works.

      If you go through the back issues of the American Journal of Physics, the topics of hitting baseballs or sword impacts reads like smart people unveiling their inner retards. Even the ones that stick purely to the acepted physics use an cumbersome rotational impact formula that can be trivially reduced to a simple class 3 Archimedes lever, but they stick the a very cumbersome form because their minds can’t quite make the leap to the glaringly obvious Newtonian truth, which at one point had been the normal approach to the problem.

      This brings me to the interesting point that the earlier formulas separated the concept of inertia from mass, since in a rotational impact inertia was just the resistance to a change in motion at that point on the object, acting as an Archimedes lever. That was the truth that was known, and Huygens showed that the inertia was simply a property of the mass distribution and the mass. But Newton never said F=ma, he said the objects accelerate to a force based on their inertia. He said that because F=ma is trivially disprovable with any common object like a sword where Fma, because an object’s inertia only matches its mass when the force is applied in a direct line to its center of mass.

      Given the trivial ease at measuring an object’s inertia and mass (trivial in the 1600s), Newton’s law handles both rotational and linear motion in one simple equation, whereas F=ma (developed later) requires the accompanying gamma=I*alpha, along with a shift in reference frames that makes some problems that were trivial in the Renaissance a bear to solve now, which is why you can still read them in current issues of the AJP.

      And that’s how I got both a nomination to the Martial Arts Hall of Fame and became Wiki’s leading authority on the center of percussion. And the disturbing part is that it was all high-school level physics. Throw out differential equations and calculus, the hard part is how to convince your own brain that its concepts of motion are completely, absolutely wrong.

      And just for fun, I’ll toss out a few little known facts.

      From the earliest images of Indo-European spearmen through the Bayeux tapestry, up to the development of the couched lance, European spearmen were invariably drawn wrong, so the art historians assumed, because the hands were wrong and the spear was shown going behind the neck instead of in front, which isn’t how we currently use a spear.

      But the left hand held a shield, and their spears were very long with bronze or iron points, and the amount of torque a hand can apply is actually quite small. Given the wide variety of images showing the spearmen holding the spear up from the back in one hand, incorrectly drawn with the spear shaft across the back, and given that the common way to carry a heavy, unbalanced load on a shaft is to throw it across the back, one has to wonder if thousands of years of art got it right, or whether Victorians couldn’t imagine that we might have ridden with a spear across our shoulders, aligned our shoulders with the target like a baseball pitcher (as all the artwork shows us doing), and then popped the spear up and delivered a baseball pitcher motion, rotating our upper torso 180 degrees for the follow through, which the artworks also illustrate, adding a huge heavy spear, immense power, and a six or eight foot reach advantage, explaining why we would use the method on foot and on horseback for thousands of years of art history. The academic consensus is that the paintings reflect a multi-thousand year stylistic error, and that we actually held spears in front, even though no human alive could actually hold one of them up like that.

      It’s amazing what obvious things consensus can overlook. You just have to see with new eyes.
      .

    • George Turner

      While I’m on the subject of Western martial arts, I should also mention that for centuries prior to the scientific method, our concepts of martial arts was “prove it to me by demonstration or shut up.” Period masters said that there was too much knowledge to be contained in one human brain, so that true mastery required reading lots of books, but that those books were fallible and the state of the art was always advancing, so that upcoming masters would make annotations to the existing knowledge, then overthrow it, and then write their own books.

      The idea that “truth” wasn’t handed down, that it had to be discovered through experiment and proven through replication, and that all results were tentative and liable to be overthrown, didn’t start with science, it was an existing military idea adopted by people like Galileo,and Descartes who were working with European weapon masters.

      Showing that what your own master taught you was fundamentally wrong was the taken as the mark of a true master. That became a very, very important academic concept in the West,, one the Chinese were wrestling recently, and perhaps still are. How can you be a master if your own master was wrong, which obviously invalidates his teachings and means you were taught by a fool, and thus can’t be a master of anything?

      This kind of thing was explicitly stated as how martial arts grow. When a new technique (a truth) was found, and then used in battle, enemies would learn the secret and develop a counter to it, rendering the knowledge obsolete. Major, fundamental sword techniques appear and disappear in the writings, invented, exploited, and obsoleted.

      The Spanish started applying Euclidean geometry to combat, trying to render it amendable to the analysis tools they had available. But still, the measure was proof by experiment, since any con man or master could develop a technique that only worked on their own students, not on the field of battle, replication by others was required.

      And thus, Western martial arts and their mindset didn’t die, they birthed science and technology that rendered the original subject obsolete, because the methods, money, and brainpower devoted to edged combat found a far more productive outlet. But the whole point of the martial exercise was to render obsolete everything known at the time, and in that it succeeded beyond their wildest expectations.

      But scientists don’t like to think of themselves as the descendants of vicious but brilliant weaponeers, which creates the amusing instances of them developing things like the atomic bomb and then lamenting “now science has known sin.” It was murder, violence, and mayhem that birthed the whole enterprise, because the survival of nations and states was too important to be left to academic consensus in the absence of experimental results, field trials, constant testing, and continual innovation.

    • Wrong again, Mosher. The British Navy succeeded because they had Hornblower!

    • “George Turner | April 21, 2014 at 4:51 pm |
      As I understand it, the British navy had better ships (tougher hulls) with more guns, and gun crews that could load and fire quickly. ”

      Actually the British had worse ships, the quality of the wood and the build were worse that the continentals, balts and especially the Americans.
      The American oak was far superior to European; The USS Constitution earned the nickname ‘Old Ironsides’ because during an engagement with the RN ship HMS Guerriere, British shot bounced off her hull.

      The major advantage the RN had up to this time was that they practiced with live ammunition, and practiced often, being able to fire more quickly than other navies. However, the battle between USS Constitution and HMS Guerriere pointed to another technological innovation; the RN were still using cloth bags of gunpowder, but the Americans used a soft lead gunpowder container. The British needed to swab the cannon between shot, whereas the Americans didn’t. The superior training of the British disappeared due to a technical innovation.

    • Steven Mosher

      rather than just admit that he pulled newtons tables out of his ass
      Bart doubles down.
      and
      “The details of how Newton laid the groundwork for British naval dominance are really not pertinent. Quibbling over the trivia of a dead empire doesn’t do anything for us now. In particular, as the topic is blunders, and by no means could the British be accused of failure of Science in the advancement of their maritime prowess.”

      Look at Bart. He brings up the wrong example to prove dyson wrong.
      he makes up military history and attributes success to Newton when the topic is blunders. And then when people with knowledge of military history and weapons show up ( I love the army of davids) Bart walks away.

      Jesus Christ. Hey Bart, you see up stream where I admit that I misremembered the bits about training? see that? that is called
      admitting ones limitations. George knows better.

    • George Turner

      DocMartyn, that is very true, but I was excluding the American Navy (and privateers) because the question had been how the British Navy came to be masters of the sea, not how they slowly got displaced in that role. ^_^

      The Constitution was an undefeatable little frigate with some of the best crews who’ve ever put to sea, winning so many battles that eventually the Pope went and stood on her decks.

      Perhaps something more relevant to the discussion of scientific consensus was the idea of the line of battle and ships of the line, which became entrenched in naval thought for centuries, giving the British the problem of having the best Navy but not being able to use it to win decisive battles against enemies who didn’t cooperate in getting shot to pieces. Dissenting voices argued that since they had the most ships with the most guns and the fastest gun crews, they should win a melee, and by just mixing it up with the enemy fleet and pounding it to splinters they could win a battle against uncooperative opponents.. Lord Nelson put those ideas the test.

    • Nelson used Alexander’s tactics, and, heh, Napoleon’s.
      ==========

    • Steven Mosher | April 22, 2014 at 11:53 am |

      Just where do you believe I walked away to?

      Your so-called military expert didn’t even get that I was mocking the infamously inferior Italian artillery and thought they could make a case for its superiority, when history well records Italian cannon as a sorry joke.

      And then they carry on as if they hadn’t made that blunder.

      People with a little knowledge bring up Robins (also spelled Robbins), as the actual innovator of the key to British military supremacy on the sea. Robbins was Newton’s minion, and his work was an extension of Sir Isaac Newton’s work on projectile motion, under Newton’s supervision until Newton’s death.

      And then they carry on as if they hadn’t made that blunder.

      Galileo’s work was mathematically flawed and incomplete; you can confirm that with any student of mathematics; Newton was the one who simplified, unified and universalized the principles of projectile motion. Or do you think they ought be called Galileo’s Laws of Physics?

      And then you carry on as if you hadn’t made that massive blunder.

      Euler introduced and advanced Newton’s ideas in France, and the subsequent arms race between the British and the French sharpened and improved British military practice, but the ideas go back so commonly to the roots planted by Newton that no claim excluding his role in the success of British colonialism can well withstand scrutiny, where the one thing common in all the many initially wealthier, earlier, larger rivals was the lack of adopting Newton’s foundations.

      And you carry on with the blundering.

      And now your ‘experts’ on military are predictably meandering into freaking katana craft. Next they’ll be talking about the merits of 440 steel and whether the switch blade is better than the buckle blade in a street fight.

      Oh look.. they brought in tapestries, too. Because they can’t stop the blunder.

      On the whole, Tom Fuller | April 22, 2014 at 6:10 am | is much closer to the mark. The British had fictional heroes. It made some difference to their culture. Though on the whole, I prefer Sharpe to Hornblower, for tighter writing style.

      We’ll never get back to the point. This thread has lost the thread. But you can at least stop embarrassing us all by half-reading before you post what I’m sure you must half think a witty reply.

    • BartR

      I like both Sharpe and Hornblower, although the latter probably makes for the more exciting TV series. I also favour him as he is based on my home towns most famous son-Admiral Pellew- who destroyed the white slave traders in Algiers in 1821

      http://www.pellew.com/Exmouth/Exmouth%20001/Exmouth%20001.htm

      tonyb

    • climatereason | April 22, 2014 at 2:58 pm |

      I must yield to your greater experience with the historical fiction of your own country; I too enjoyed Horatio Hornblower stories, as a small child, and couldn’t call Sharpe a better example, except of more concise wording..

      Which some may be surprised to learn I prefer.

      Though I admit to finding them both a bit trashy and second rate as literature today, there’s no crime in a book being a trashy read.

    • And we are all still pikers compared to nature.

    • Bart,

      You should steer clear of history. Not your strong point.

      For example there was no Italy until the mid 1800’s.

      And the Italian Navy was considered one of the most modern at the start of of WWII. One of the leading ship designers during the development of the dreadnaught was an Italian.

    • George,

      It was not better ships on the part of the British. In fact French ship design was considered better, with the British taking French hulls into service whenever possible. The Spanish built ships every bit as good as the British.

      The advantage lay in a couple of areas.

      1) Quality of seamanship. The British fleet spent far greater time at sea.

      2) Financing – the British economy was better capable of supporting a fleet in being and on station.

      3) No diversion of resources – France was primarily a continental power required to maintain both a two ocean navy and a large army.

      Contrary to what most people believe, Alfred Thayer Mahan’s work “The Influence of Seapower upon History was not a history of the Royal Navy, but that of the French Navy, as he saw it as most representative of what the US faced and wanted his nation to recognize and understand the mistakes the French made.

    • George Turner

      Tim, I thought about going into some of that, but we might as well be dealing with Lindsay Lohan on an ESPN Inside Sports panel.

      So Bart, it’s a darn good thing the French, Dutch, Spanish, or Americans never ever captured a single British warship or they’d have discovered the secrets of Newton’s super cannon. To this day the continental powers wouldn’t even know about Robin’s highly-classified work if Tony Blair hadn’t leaked it in the run up to the Iraq War.

    • George Turner | April 22, 2014 at 5:23 pm |

      That’s “orbital cannon”, not super cannon.

      You do know why we refer to the Moon as constantly falling, right?

      http://lmgtfy.com/?q=+newton+orbital+cannon

      It’s because Newton was working on problems with firing cannons when he established his three laws of motion.

      The Moon was Newton’s apple, and the tree it fell from was a conceptual cannon.

    • timg56 | April 22, 2014 at 4:59 pm |

      I steer clear of history so much as I can; just as you appear to steer clear of reading harder.

      https://judithcurry.com/2014/04/21/the-case-for-blunders/#comment-529748

      Care to go back to the start of the thread and read the part about “How many people died from the successful work of atomic physicists within a few decades? And that’s the good science.

      If you want to deal with something a bit more current, that is.

    • barty, barty

      I have a very nice copy of Newton’s artillery tables that I will sell you. I even have some of his innovative multicolored polyurethane cannon balls. I will throw those into the deal. Don’t mind the fingerholes.

    • George Turner

      Bart, most people would’ve long since given up digging that hole.

      That was a thought experiment about orbits, and at the time guns were the only device around that made things go very fast. Descartes explained centrifugal forces with the example of a bee flying around a wagon wheel, and the extra force its wings would have to provide to make it maintain circular motion. This doesn’t mean Descartes was working on insect aerodynamics. It was just an example to illustrate a concept. He also illustrated laws about conservation of momentum and the motion of center of mass with a person stepping from one boat onto another, but that had nothing to do with research into efficient means of naval crew transfers. (Einstein later put that same poor guy through all sorts of tortures, getting shot at in trains, hurled upwards by elevators, and squeezed and compressed by relativity, so don’t be that guy.)

      Secondly, Newton suggested the orbital thought experiment about 45 years after he’d published the Principia. Perhaps you assume that he aged backwards through time, which might explain how he was instrumental in defeating the Spanish Armada in 1588 to establish British naval supremacy.
      ,
      if you were at all familiar with Newton’s work, you’d also know he got his first law from Galileo and Descartes. Until he read them he seemed to imagine that an applied force is transfered to a body, where it kept acting continuously to keep the body in motion. The idea that momentum was distinct from force, and was the product of inertia and velocity had been bouncing around Europe since medieval times, but Galileo really gave it traction and developed it into something concrete, and then Descartes explained the idea quite well.

    • > The British had fictional heroes.

      A recent favorite of mine:

      “I am aware we are political opponents,” replied Verner, raising his eyebrows. “But I think it would be better if we fought in a sporting spirit; in a spirit of English fair play.”

      “Much better,” assented Fisher. “It would be much better if you were English and very much better if you had ever played fair. But what I’ve come to say can be said very shortly. I don’t quite know how we stand with the law about that old Hawker story, but my chief object is to prevent England being entirely ruled by people like you. So whatever the law would say, I will say no more if you will retire from the election at once.”

      http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/c/chesterton/gk/man_who_knew_too_much/chapter7.html

      There’s a nice quote about scepticism in a preceding chapter.

    • Steven Mosher

      “Care to go back to the start of the thread and read the part about “How many people died from the successful work of atomic physicists within a few decades? And that’s the good science.””

      Except Dyson point is to compare the blunders of science with the blunders of other human endeavors.

      Its a way of freeing scientists of guilt over the deaths caused by their success

    • Steven Mosher

      Keep running bart
      Now you want to discuss atomic weapons
      Now you want to give newton credit for Robbins work
      And best of all this is not an argument about the success of science

      This is about blunders.

      Blunders of science versus blunders in other human endeavors.

    • That’s another interesting interpretation of Dyson’s book review, Steven. Is this your third, or fourth version? How long have you known Dr. Dyson? It takes some real insight into Dyson’s thinking to see that his comparing the blunders of science with the blunders of other human endeavors is a way of freeing scientists of guilt over the deaths caused by their success. I would have seen the connection between blunders and successes. But I guess the idea is they balance out, somehow.

    • PS:The number of people who have dies as a result of atomic science (primarily the war ending bombing of 2 cities) is a lot less than the number of people who would have been killed if the war had continued.

      Now you can end the thread.

    • Don Monfort | April 23, 2014 at 3:31 pm |

      Could we instead begin the thread?

      The one that refutes FJ Dyson’s specious claim that blunders of science are inconsequential, instead of the one where people argue Newton’s contributions to understanding of the physics of projectile motion were inconsequential?

      Plato’s blunders of science — practically the entirety of his Natural History — so held back human advancement in medicine, botany, physics, chemistry, virtually every field of human understanding of the world, poisoned the well of learning more than a millennium. We can say this didn’t do so much harm as military decisions that led to genocide, except for the proof of what those foregone advances could have achieved a millennium sooner as seen in the population boom and increase in quality of life in the globe that finally did throw off Plato’s scientific blunders.

      Do we have any Plato scholars who want to quibble about that point? To suggest Aristotle or Ptolemny were greater influences? Go ahead, you can’t do much more harm than the blundering opinions in the thread already from people denying Newtonian mechanics.

      http://www.augustana.ualberta.ca%2F~hackw%2Fmp480%2Fexhibit%2FballisticsMP480.pdf&ei=O0NYU-n8LqjSyAHLm4CwCg&usg=AFQjCNHx2Mcl45LS62y4k90eGgz17TC1kA

      Nothing in what has been said about other scientists has made less true what is observed of Newton: science can in success or in blunder have significant impact and do significant harm; FJ Dyson is just plain wrong to assert otherwise.

    • George Turner

      For his next comment, Bart will rant about the number of innocent people killed in structural collapses as a result of the badly flawed load-bearing formulas for wooden structures promulgated by Jesus of Nazareth, whose widely influential work on carpentry set back building codes for over a millennium.

      Perhaps we should start a pool.

    • You have gone fully hysterical (not funny), barty. You are so angry at us for laughing at your invention of Newton’s artillery tables that you have gone and dragged Plato into this mess, for reasons known only to barty. And you are just making crap up, again:

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

      “The Medieval scholastic philosophers did not have access to most of the works of Plato, nor the knowledge of Greek needed to read them. Plato’s original writings were essentially lost to Western civilization until they were brought from Constantinople in the century of its fall, by George Gemistos Plethon. It is believed that Plethon passed a copy of the Dialogues to Cosimo de’ Medici when in 1438 the Council of Ferrara, called to unify the Greek and Latin Churches, was adjourned to Florence, where Plethon then lectured on the relation and differences of Plato and Aristotle, and fired Cosimo with his enthusiasm.[86] During the early Islamic era, Persian and Arab scholars translated much of Plato into Arabic and wrote commentaries and interpretations on Plato’s, Aristotle’s and other Platonist philosophers’ works (see Al-Farabi, Avicenna, Averroes, Hunayn ibn Ishaq). Many of these comments on Plato were translated from Arabic into Latin and as such influenced Medieval scholastic philosophers.[87]

      Only in the Renaissance, with the general resurgence of interest in classical civilization, did knowledge of Plato’s philosophy become widespread again in the West. Many of the greatest early modern scientists and artists who broke with Scholasticism and fostered the flowering of the Renaissance, with the support of the Plato-inspired Lorenzo de Medici, saw Plato’s philosophy as the basis for progress in the arts and sciences. By the 19th century, Plato’s reputation was restored, and at least on par with Aristotle’s.”

      Of course, between the time of his death and the time his legacy fostered the flowering of the Renaissance Plato managed to screw up just about everything.

      Please stop, barty. We can’t take much more of this.

    • George Turner | April 23, 2014 at 7:57 pm |

      The usual translation of the profession of Jesus of Nazareth’s profession as ‘carpenter’ is traditionally more like ‘furniture maker’ than housebuilder. He’d have wanted to be raised stonemason for that, in the region and time, considering not exactly a period or country famous for wood frame bungalows.

      Don Monfort | April 23, 2014 at 9:57 pm |

      Nicely cherry-picked, point-missing use of a passage that is entirely irrelevant.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timaeus_(dialogue) (to use bad wiki against bad wiki) ..Timaeus was the only Platonic dialogue, and one of the few works of classical natural philosophy, available to Latin readers in the early Middle Ages. Thus it had a strong influence on medieval Neoplatonic cosmology..

      The precept of ancient doctrine holding back intellectual advancement and suppressing investigation is not new, or strange, or difficult to understand.

      If you really want to counter that school of thought, you’ll want to start a little bigger than a couple of lines in wiki, and you’ll want to take the argument to someone who cares about philosophy. Which wouldn’t be me.

      Next quibbler up to the plate.

    • barty,barty

      That’s the evidence that you have for your goofy claim that Plato’s alleged blunders held back science and human progress for a thousand years? Was that cosmology, or cosmetology? Please stop digging, barty.

    • George Turner

      Don, look on the bright side. Now we at least know what happened to Cliff Claven after Cheers closed and he retired from the postal service. :)

    • Don Monfort | April 24, 2014 at 3:36 am |

      No, that’s the evidence required to refute your specious and invalid contrary claims. It doesn’t take much. To support my claims, as I said, you could go discuss the idea of ancient error holding back new discovery through oppressive appeal to authority and tradition with philosopers.. who would still not be me.

      George Turner | April 24, 2014 at 10:13 am |

      I understand the internet is full of Cliff Claven fanfic. Feel free to contribute your Cheers fantasies to websites for that. If you plan to ever become interested in actual fact and honest exchange of ideas.. why are you here?

    • We better give him a break, George. I am guessing it’s not politically correct to be so amused by willful ignorance. We should probably be ashamed of ourselves. As penance, I won’t drive my largest SUV for a couple of days.

  8. pokerguy (aka al neipris)

    “A scientist who claims to have discovered a fact that turns out to be wrong is judged harshly. ”

    I can’t wait.

  9. The issue of fact versus theory is central to climate study. Facts are what we objectively observe or measure. Theory is what we believe the meaning of those facts to be. It bothers me quite a lot that researchers tend to believe that the result even simple mathematical manipulation of observed data values removes them from the fact category of information. As an example, we may theorize that a least-squares derived line drawn through a selection of raw observed values represents something meaningful. Simply haven been derived from raw observations does not make the slope of that line itself a fact rather than something given a theoretical belief of significance.

    Climate researchers have many great sources of historic climate data in the form of thermometer temperature readings, ice core measurements, etc. However, the central problem with this data for researchers is that its overall accuracy (yes accuracy – as in potential divergence from true values) is too poor for use in definitively demonstrating any recent global climate temperature trend. Best guesses about climate warming over the last half century or so are around one degree Celsius. Unfortunately, any realistic evaluation of the likely overall accuracy of our historic data is no better than about that same amount with much of it (ice cores, tree rings, etc.) realistically evaluated at several times worse. That raw data is run through mathematical manipulations and routinely declared to be more accurate than the original source data.

    You will have noticed that I used the term ‘accuracy’ rather than ‘uncertainty.’ I did this because of the sad misinterpretation of the the term ‘uncertainty’ as intended in instrument technology documents. It should be remembered that ‘uncertainty’ of a data value is used to indicate that there are many possible sources of error that decrease the absolute accuracy that may claimed for it. ‘Uncertainty’ in our manually collected data such as that in the U.S. Historic Climate Network means that our 0.5 degree Fahrenheit accuracy thermometers can be relied upon to produce an ‘accuracy’ of no better than about 2 degrees Fahrenheit when installation, siting, and human factors are considered. Claiming that these sources of error average out over time is a convenient theory but not fact.

    In a couple more decades we may have accumulated sufficient satellite and Climate Reference Network temperature data to be able to useful reliably detecting a climate trend. We can only hope it will not show a significant downward slope.

    • Surely the problem is that there is a great paucity of ‘historic climate data’. Direct readings are facts. Anything derived from e.g. ice composition or tree ring widths is not a fact: it depends on the accuracy of the derivation and whether the derivation is actually physically correct.
      Climate facts – ppm of CO2, temperature, precipitation…not many direct readings.

    • k scott denison

      Simon S, it is perhaps even a greater paucity…

      Direct readings are indeed facts… of direct readings in one location at one point in time. Now what is used for all the trend analysis, etc. isn’t that. It’s a modeled “global average temperature anomaly” that is neither well geographically nor temporally sampled.

      I have yet to see a “global average temperature” which, to me, would be the average of the direct instrument reading at all of the available stations at the same exact moment in time. Now that would be interesting data to have a look at.

    • Thank you, Gary. I think you identify a truism of the climate controversy–we tend to have too much data available like a ramshackle filing cabinet. Mixed in with the reams of paper are good data (with repeatable calibration), interesting data (certain proxies that may or may not calibrate with other data), incomplete data, anthropologic observations and records, geologic observations, etc., etc.

      As you say, the thermometer data may be accurate to +/-2F but can resolve differences in measurement of +/-0.5F. We do stitch together the data from a bunch of such measurements to get trends. With the climate, we project the data into the future. Unfortunately, we have no equivalent of mercury passing behind the sun to verify the theory which projects the data.

      In this data rich/calibration poor environment, scientific interpretation will continue to be colored through the lens of the observer. Disagreement is to be expected. The asymmetry of the consequences of the disagreement leads to hysteria we see on these blog comments.

  10. Jim Cripwell

    Our hostess writes ” I argued that there are very few facts in all this, and that most of what passes for facts in the public debate on climate change is: inference from incomplete, inadequate and ambiguous observations; climate models that have been demonstrated not to be useful for most of the applications that they are used for; and theories and hypotheses that are competing with alternative theories and hypotheses.”

    I agree. I have not read the details, but I feel sure that in all five of the examples of blunders, the scientists concerned were following The Scientific Method. That, in the end, their ideas turned out to be wrong, because the empirical data showed that they were wrong. This is how The Scientific Method works.

    What has happened with CAGW is that the warmists have pretended to be following The Scientific Method, while in practice they have been doing nothing of the sort. They have dressed up the numeric values of climate sensitivity, however defined, as the equivalent of empirical data, when it isn’t. Such numeric values are nothing more than guesses.

    What is needed to advance the discussion is for the warmists to admit that they are not following The Scientific Method, and then we can have a discussion as to whether the scientific approach that they have used, is sufficient to answer the question as to whether CAGW is anything more than a valid hypothesis.

    • “Industry of course hated any regulation and issued their own Apocalyptic economic forecasts of how economies would be destroyed. But like so many other environmental regs (recently like Acid Rain, SO2), these economic forecasts just didn’t come true.”

      Exactly, but that won’t stop the economic alarmists on here continuing the fine tradition by insisting the economy will collapse if carbon emissions are regulated, based on no evidence not even computer models.

  11. Stephen Segrest

    From a layman’s perspective, a relevant example of a “poor loser” is Fred Singer on atmospheric ozone depletion (ozone hole). He is still arguing that the science of two Noble Prize winners is “bad science”. As a layman, Fred Singer (a go-to guy used by Republicans in Congress) causes me a “pause” (as to his credibility and objectiveness) as he is using many of the same “logic” arguments on greenhouse gases as he does on CFCs.

    His continued thinking: http://heartland.org/policy-documents/ozone-cfc-debacle-hasty-action-shaky-science

    • Stephen Segrest

      Since Republicans in Congress rely so heavily on Singer and Dr. Curry on CC — I’ve always wondered what Judith’s position would have been 20 some years ago with CFCs, ozone, chlorine — would she had agreed with Singer? Would she agree today with Singer on ozone?

    • If you are going to criticize a guy for what he believes, you ought to at least describe his argument and what’s wrong with it rather than pontificate from above the fray. Why on earth should I take your word for it?

    • Willis Eschenbach

      Stephen, while you have claimed that Fred is wrong, you haven’t provided a scrap of evidence that in fact he is wrong. As a result, your post is totally unconvincing, and sounds like nothing more than sour grapes.

      You may be correct, I take no position on that, although Fred does put up good arguments, complete with scientific citations … but you’ve put up nothing. Your style of argument is long on opinions and not just short but totally lacking on science, and as a result you come off as just another complainer without anything to back up his inflated claims.

      Sadly, I find this far too often with AGW adherents—glad to give us your opinion that someone’s science is wrong, wrong, wrong … but strangely lacking in actual scientific data to back it up. Do you guys go to some kind of class to all learn how to obfuscate without facts?

      w.

    • Stephen Segrest

      There are many similarities between the Montreal Protocol and CC. Both ozone depletion and greenhouse gases have Nobel Prize winning science theory behind them (Molina and Roland on atmospheric ozone, Arrhenius and others on CO2). Before the Montreal Protocol was adopted, scientists sure couldn’t “model” the ozone hole very well. There was very limited observational data on CFC forcing. Today on CC, many of the consensus Scientists are emphasizing Apocalyptic events of the low probability tail — and this same type of argument was being made on ozone depletion 30 to 40 years ago. Industry of course hated any regulation and issued their own Apocalyptic economic forecasts of how economies would be destroyed. But like so many other environmental regs (recently like Acid Rain, SO2), these economic forecasts just didn’t come true.

      In Singer’s own words (above link), decades after implementing the Montreal Protocol, he still believes these actions were “hasty”. For layman, this gets to the heart of “who can you trust” in listening to science dialogue. I personally don’t believe Singer could ever be satisfied as to scientific proof on either CC or Ozone depletion.

    • Quote from the Nobel price pages:

      The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1903 was awarded to Svante Arrhenius “in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered to the advancement of chemistry by his electrolytic theory of dissociation”.

    • Stephen Segrest baldy and incorrectly asserts:

      There are many similarities between the Montreal Protocol and CC. Both ozone depletion and greenhouse gases have Nobel Prize winning science theory behind them (Molina and Roland on atmospheric ozone, Arrhenius and others on CO2).

      Uh, no. Arrhenius did not receive the Nobel prize for anything to do with CO2. There is no “Nobel Prize winning science theory” behind the global warming political movement.

      On the other hand, Patrick Coffey reports in his book Cathedrals of Science: The Personalities and Rivalries That Made Modern Chemistry that Arrhenius’ involvement with the Nobel Prize did have something very much in common with modern “climate science”: He used his position in professional societies (member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Nobel Committee on Physics and a de facto member of the Nobel Committee on Chemistry) to arrange Nobel prizes for his friends (Jacobus van’t Hoff, Wilhelm Ostwald, Theodore Richards) and to attempt to deny them to his enemies (Paul Ehrlich, Walther Nernst, Dmitri Mendeleev).

      That is just like the asshats who today abuse their positions at peer reviewed journals and in professional societies to corrupt the scientific process in favor of their political friends … truly Arrhenius was a man ahead of his time.

    • Willis,
      It’s good to see that you have taken a break from beating up on Janice Moore.

    • David L. Hagen

      Stephen – you libel by equivocation with no evidence. I endorse Willis’ admonition.
      Singer may well prove to be more accurate. e.g., See Q.-B. LU, Int. J. Mod. Phys. B DOI: 10.1142/S0217979213500732
      Cosmic-Ray-Driven Reaction and Greenhouse Effect of Halogenated Molecules: Culprits for Atmospheric Ozone Depletion and Global Climate Change
      Furthermore, the NIPCC’s Climate Change Reconsidered reports may equally prove to be more reliable than the IPCC’s, though rabidly attacked by alarmists.

      Try applying the scientific method with integrity, not politically driven denigrating rhetoric.

    • Stephen Segrest

      Dear pottereaton and Willis Eschenbach — The “rules” you want to play by is to jump into incredible details.

      Many of us laymen trust “big picture” Scientists like Arrhenius — meaning that following a path to 1,000 ppm is probably not a good, prudent idea. Us laymen don’t have a clue as to the timing or consequences of following this 1,000 ppm path (and neither do you).

      For many of us, actions like the Mullers’ advocate makes sense — that if CC is really a serious issue, that the World community needs to come together on an “Apollo type” effort to develop and implement safe fracking technology for natural gas.

    • Nobel Peace Prize – Yassir Arafat, dictator, thug, terrorist, multi-millionaire kleptocrat (is there any other kind?)

      Nobel Prize – Al Gore, mediocre politician, no scientific training at all, awarded for climate porn for which he also got an Oscar

      Nobel Prize – Barack Obama, hack politician and community organizer, state senator (set record for voting present), served two years in U.S. Senate before running for president, accomplishments at the time of the prize – absolutely nothing.

      Nobel Prize for Science – Michael Mann…Oops, no he didn’t!

      Nobel Prize for Science – IPCC , government created marketing subsidiary of western progressive governments, magically becomes more certain the more they admit they don’t know as much as they thought they did.

      Since when does a Nobel Prize mean anything any more?

    • k scott denison

      Stephan, don’t know why you would assume that 1,000 ppm of CO2 would be harmful. Nor why you would assume we’d every get there.

    • Jim Cripwell

      Stephen Segrest, you write “From a layman’s perspective”

      I am curious. When you post on Climate Etc. do you write your own ideas, or do you post what you have read of other people’s ideas?

    • Thanks for that JJ, I had always wondered why Nernst was so under rated, I had assumed that he was too biological.

    • Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Nassir Arrafat, Nobels’ to
      IPCC et AL, Gary M asks ‘Since when does a Nobel Prize
      mean anything any more?’

      The NP still has meaning, just a change in meaning :(
      – kinda like the metamorphosis of past temperature records
      into something new and strange. A bit rich, yer might say.

    • pokerguy (aka al neipris)

      “Nobel Prize – Barack Obama, hack politician and community organizer, state senator (set record for voting present), served two years in U.S. Senate before running for president, accomplishments at the time of the prize – absolutely nothing.”

      I thought it ludicrous that they awarded Obama a Nobel Prize for doing nothing except winning the Presidency. But worse yet was his accepting it. At the time, I was almost sure he wouldn’t. It was the first of many disappointments.

    • Stephen Segrest

      Dear Jim Cripwell — When I post, its a mixed bag of where ideas come from. On topics of ag science (biology) and economics, the posts come from my head (educational and professional training & experience). I grow sorghum for ethanol so as you can imagine, I very much disagree with Judith’s (and others views) opposing ethanol. On AGW, I use this blog as a journey in trying to understand. As poll after opinion poll shows, I reflect the overwhelming majority public view that (1) AGW is occurring, (2) nobody really knows the impact or timing. Trust in being objective is real important to folks like me. I like people such as Muller with his transparency and potential solutions that seem to make sense (safe fracking). I don’t trust people like Singer (who disagrees with just about everything and always has), nor do I trust all the Scientists quoting some 1% probability tail on CAGW.

    • –Dear Jim Cripwell — When I post, its a mixed bag of where ideas come from. On topics of ag science (biology) and economics, the posts come from my head (educational and professional training & experience). I grow sorghum for ethanol so as you can imagine, I very much disagree with Judith’s (and others views) opposing ethanol.–

      Because Judith’s (and others views) would lower the demand/price for sorghum? [And you can’t/won’t grow something else]. Or this is somehow related to a matter of knowledge?

    • Stephen Segrest

      gbaikie — Its issues of science/engineering that Judith never talks about with ethanol. Things like octane and oxygenate requirements of gasoline; use of lead and MTBE as additives in gasoline and their link to cancers, child autism, asthma, etc.; major engineering turbo boost advancements occurring with engine fuel efficiency needing high octane (where a first market glimpse is now being seen with Ford, Volvo). None of these achievements and vision have anything to do directly with GW.

    • Jim Cripwell

      Stephen, you write “When I post, its a mixed bag of where ideas come from.”

      Many thanks.

    • GaryM,

      The IPCC was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, not any of the science prizes.

      Now whatever one thinks of that particular decision I would agree that some of the Peace Prize awards have raised a few eyebrows (apart from the ones you mentioned there was a certain Henry Kissinger for example) but you can’t use that to denigrate recipients of the science prizes, unless you can give examples of questionable awards in those specific fields.

    • Matthew R Marler

      Stephen Segrest: Dear pottereaton and Willis Eschenbach — The “rules” you want to play by is to jump into incredible details.

      Your criticism of Fred Singer was baseless, and you made a false comment about Arrhenius. Maybe you should erase all that stuff and start over.

    • Matthew R Marler

      Stephen Segrest: I grow sorghum for ethanol so as you can imagine, I very much disagree with Judith’s (and others views) opposing ethanol. On AGW, I use this blog as a journey in trying to understand. As poll after opinion poll shows, I reflect the overwhelming majority public view that (1) AGW is occurring, (2) nobody really knows the impact or timing. Trust in being objective is real important to folks like me.

      From being wrong, you seque into self-justification.

      I wish you luck whatever you choose to grow, but a tax subsidy to divert sorghum from animal and human food into ethanol is just not a good public policy; or at least it should be debated on its merits to society (including taxpayers), not just the value to individual growers. You would say the same about growing tobacco, cannabis and coca most likely; or mining and burning coal; or building the Keystone XL pipeline (that is, the fact that Warren Buffet earns a good income from BNSF hauling oil to the NE US from Alberta is not really the main point of the public policy debate, though it matters a enough to Mr Buffet that he donates to politicians who oppose the pipeline.)

    • Willis Eschenbach

      Stephen Segrest | April 21, 2014 at 4:08 pm |

      Dear pottereaton and Willis Eschenbach — The “rules” you want to play by is to jump into incredible details.

      Oh, my goodness. “Incredible details”??? Here’s what I actually said …

      Willis Eschenbach | April 21, 2014 at 2:15 pm |

      Stephen, while you have claimed that Fred is wrong, you haven’t provided a scrap of evidence that in fact he is wrong.

      I didn’t ask for “incredible details”, that’s just your unpleasant fantasy. I pointed out that you have provided NO details, no facts, no logic, and no evidence. How you twist that into an imaginary request for “incredible details” is something I don’t want to even consider.

      Please do not misrepresent my position like that, Stephen. Apart from being a nasty way of doing business, and getting the people you misrepresent upset with you, you lose points and look like a jerk when people see what you’ve done.

      In other words, misrepresenting your opponent’s argument, and putting words in his mouth that he never said. sets up a lose-lose situation … and you’re the one losing on both sides.

      w.

    • Stephen Segrest

      Dear Willis Eschenbach — I linked directly to an article written by Singer in 2011 on Ozone depletion. Its now been over 25 years since the Montreal Protocol was initially signed — an action that Singer still calls hasty. As to your statement that I do not provide any arguments why Singer is incorrect — I don’t need to. The the World’s Scientists (including 2 Noble Prize winners of Rowland & Molina) and every World Government (signing and implementing the Montreal Protocol) rejects Singer’s hasty arguments that he still holds to. Singer still arguing points for 25 years is absolutely appropriate in this blog topic of a “bad loser”.

    • Not like me to be critical of a mega-capitalist and industrialist, however…

      To avoid buying into Nobel snobbery it helps to consider the hypocrisy and all-round creepiness of…Alfred Nobel!

    • Stephen Segrest

      Matthew — The big ethanol tax credit (VEETC) which heavily subsidized the corn ethanol market expired in 2011. There is a tax credit available for cellulosic ethanol of which I think there are 1 or 2 facilities in the entire U.S. using this non-food feedstock source. As tax credits go, I don’t think you need to be too concerned about this chump change compared to a whole lot of other stuff. BTW, corn (and also my sorghum) returns about one-third of feedstock volume back to livestock feeding through DDGS (very high protein).

    • Jim Cripwell

      Stephen, you write ” I think there are 1 or 2 facilities in the entire U.S. using this non-food feedstock source. ”

      Not quite. There are at least two facilities, hoping to produce commercial quantities of cellulose ethanol in the near future; Dupont and POET/DSM. The POET facility is due to start up in Q2 of 2014; Dupont sometime this year.

      IF, and it is a mighty big IF, but if these facilities prove to be financially viable, there are dozens of other facilities which could come on stream very rapidly. POET hopes to get 25 million gallons of cellulose ethanol per year from it’s plant; Dupont 30 million gallons. We will see..

      There are also facilities hoping to make ethanol from garbage waste. By the end of 2014, we should have an idea of where cellulose ethanol might be heading.

    • Stephen Segrest

      Dear JJ, Matthew, and Others — You misread my statement: “Both ozone depletion and greenhouse gases have Nobel Prize winning science theory behind them (Molina and Roland on atmospheric ozone, Arrhenius and others on CO2).”

      When I occasionally post, I try to be as brief as possible. Note that I used the phrase “Nobel Prize winning science theory behind them” — and then I tried to give a bullet type illustration.

      With ozone depletion, my above statement is 100% clear and factual (Molina & Roland).

      On greenhouse gases, I was simply trying to be brief pointing to a scientist as an illustration that everybody recognizes with modern greenhouse theory. Again note I said “Arrhenius and Others”. But again, I only did this in an attempt of an illustration to my statement “Nobel Prize winning science theory”.

      In talking about “Nobel Prize winning science”, we could talk about Lord Rayleigh (Rayleigh scattering, Rayleigh distillation), van der Waals (equations of state), Wien (Wien’s law), Planck (Planck’s constant central to radiation theory).

      I’m sure that arguments could be made for more people: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/
      All Nobel Prizes in Physics
      http://www.nobelprize.org

      Sorry that I was unclear with my brevity.

    • Stephen Segrest

      Jim Cripwell — Jim, ethanol makes up ~10% of the gasoline supply to meet octane (performance, replacing lead) and oxygenate (air quality, replacing MTBE) requirements. Cellulosic makes up .002% of this total ethanol volume. Since the corn ethanol tax credit expired in 2011, and with the cellulosic tax credit so small — you shouldn’t lose sleep over ethanol. Gosh, there are some questionable oil tax credits enacted well over a hundred years ago like a gazillion times more than this puny cellulosic credit.

    • Stephen Segrest JC SNIP:

      Dear JJ, Matthew, and Others — You misread my statement: “Both ozone depletion and greenhouse gases have Nobel Prize winning science theory behind them (Molina and Roland on atmospheric ozone, Arrhenius and others on CO2).”

      No we didn’t. You were wrong about the Nobel status of Arrehnius’ CO2 related work, and now you are lying like a petulant five year old to avoid having to admit it.

      Sorry that I was unclear with my brevity.

      You weren’t unclear, you were wrong.

      Grow up.

    • Stephen Segrest

      Dear JJ — I didn’t say “scientists”, I said “Nobel Prize winning science theory behind them”. Why is there so much anger in you to twist something? You’ve got a problem with my clarifying illustration in physics on Lord Rayleigh, van der Waals, Wien, Planck?

    • Stephen Segrest continues his infantile lying with:

      Dear JJ — I didn’t say “scientists”, I said “Nobel Prize winning science theory behind them”.

      Yes, that is exactly what you said. And that is exactly why you are wrong.

      Had you said “Nobel prize winning scientists behind them”, you would have been very dishonestly misleading but nonetheless technically correct in your reference to Arrhenius. But as you admit, you didn’t say that.

      You said “Both ozone depletion and greenhouse gases have Nobel Prize winning science theory behind them (Molina and Roland on atmospheric ozone, Arrhenius and others on CO2).” That makes you dead wrong. There is no Nobel prize winning CO2 science theory by Arrhenius.

      Why is there so much anger in you to twist something?

      I twist nothing. You lie.

      You’ve got a problem with my clarifying illustration in physics on Lord Rayleigh, van der Waals, Wien, Planck?

      None of those is Arrhenius. None of those, contrary to the statement you retroactively lie about, is CO2/greenhouse gas specific.

      You are wrong, and you choose to lie instead of admit to it.

      Infantile.

      Grow up.

    • Stephen Segrest

      Dear JJ — A recent Nobel Prize winning scientist (Molina) disagrees with you. The following link describes an aspect of fundamental physics which I cited — Planck’s Law. I could cite more, but something tells me I’m talking to a brick wall. Many on this blog just deny plain radiative physics

      http://theenergycollective.com/davidhone/60610/back-basics-climate-science

      http://theenergycollective.com/davidhone/60610/back-basics-climate-science#comment-18258

  12. “Facts” are more absolute. real facts cannot be false. So when someone jumps on a “fact” and it turns out to be not true (i.e. not really a fact), human nature is more harsh. An incorrect “fact” is called a lie. An incorrect theory (or hypothesis) is seen as a learning tool.

    I knew Freeman Dyson was a brilliant physicist. I see he is not a bad student of human behavior as well.

    • Ya – I like that one because the trend is lower than ‘stop co2 in 2000’.

      That means doing nothing has been more effective than doing everything.

  13. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Judith Curry asks “[Which] other good or bad losers that you can think of in climate science?”

    This question has four categories. May we have the envelopes, please!

    • Good/Winner  James Hansen/NASA (outstanding science/outstanding collegiality/outstanding prediction-record; sustained throughout three decades)

    • Good/Loser  Richard Muller/Berkeley Earth Team (solid science/outstanding collegiality; expectations proved wrong/admitted gracefully)

    • Bad/Winner  Michael Mann (prescient science/losing collegiality/childish ega)

    • Bad/Loser  Principia Scientific International/Heartland/WUWT/CEI (group award/bad science/willful ignorance/abusive discourse)

    Conclusion These awards are common-sense, eh Climate Etc readers?

    Recommended Reading

    Notices of the American Mathematical Society
    Right or Wrong? That Is the Question
    by M. Dedò and L. Sferch

    Error is often treated in a paradoxical manner: error is always talked about but seldom analyzed; error is said to be useful and valuable but counts negatively in evaluation; students are exhorted to find and point out their errors,
    but at the same time teachers hide their own.

    “The limit of the true is not the false, it is the insignificant” — Réné Thom

    Conclusion Cherry-picked denialist quibbles are insignificant, eh Climate Etc readers?

    \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • David L. Hagen

      Fan
      Sorry, you’re spectacularly wrong. You can’t change the facts.
      James Hansen’s climate forecast of 1988 a whopping 150% wrong

    • Anyone who mixes percentages and anomalies isn’t doing anything right.

    • “David L. Hagen
      Fan
      Sorry, you’re spectacularly wrong. You can’t change the facts.
      James Hansen’s climate forecast of 1988 a whopping 150% wrong”

      Alas David, they can.
      They use different constants for ‘forcings’ of GHG’s and aerosols, than Hansen used, then they ‘prove’ that Hansen was predicting Scenario C.

    • Matthew R Marler

      a fan of *MORE* discourse: James Hansen/NASA (outstanding science/outstanding collegiality/outstanding prediction-record; sustained throughout three decades)

      Hansen holds the record for the total number of wrong predictions. Granted, his prediction that the east side of Manhattan would be flooded was a little vague as to how deep and how soon, so it isn’t positively wrong yet.

  14. This week’s Econtalk it titled, “McArdle on Failure, Success, and the Up Side of Down.”

    I’ve talked to people who say they only hire people who have failed, who have been through that, because they figure that person will have seen it before and their Spidey sense will go off when they are doing something risky [ … ] there’s a huge amount of information in failure.

    http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2014/04/mcardle_on_fail.html

  15. Fact: The rate of warming form 1900 to 1945 was higher than the rate of warming from 1945 to 2014.

    http://sunshinehours.wordpress.com/2014/04/15/could-co2-have-lowered-the-rate-of-natural-warming/

    Conclusion: CO2 is the wimpiest GHG ever.

    • “Fact: The rate of warming form 1900 to 1945 was higher than the rate of warming from 1945 to 2014”
      ———
      Your numbers are very close to AR5. Box 2.2. Table1 shows

      1901-1950 0.107C/decade
      1951-2012 0.106C/decade

  16. Bernd Palmer

    Excellent post!

  17. It is good to study these people because you can get an idea of the mind of pseudo-scientists and kranks that inhabit the world of climate change denial.

    For example, in his later years Linus Pauling turned into a krank, attacking research of budding scientists such as Dan Shectmann of quasi-crystal fame.

    And many of these scientists created insular worlds with their colleagues. Consider Fred Hoyle’s colleague Thomas Gold. Gold created so many bizarre theories that he should be a shining example of what happens if one doesn’t show some restraint.

    The common theme is that these were all iconoclastic scientists that produced good research early in their careers (see Martin Fleischmann of cold fusion fame), but then wigged out later for whatever reason.

    This has nothing to do with current-day consensus climate scientists who by and large work together in larger teams to solve problems. The bizarros are the Plimers, Salbys, and the host of denier pseudo-scientists that run rampant on blogs.

    • Monseigneur Georges Lemaître’s theory for the genesis of the universe was hated by many, including Hoyle, who dismissively called it the ‘Big Bang Theory’.
      Lemaître’s theory is inelegant, compared to Hoyles ‘Steady State’ hypothesis, but has the beauty of being more correct.
      You should also note that many scientist go nuts long before old age.

    • Most evveryone is nuts w/r/t climate denial.

    • ‘Most everyone is nuts w/r/t climate denial.’ Synco says.

      Hererwith, some nutty-on-the-record-climate-predictions:

      In 1986, James Hansen (NASA) predicted that global temperatures
      would be nearly 2 degrees higher in 20 years… They weren’t.

      In 1995, Michael Oppenheimer (Environment Defence Fund)
      predicted that the greenhouse effect would decimate the heart
      lands of Northern America and Eurasia with horrific drought.
      … It didn’t.

      In 2004 David Viner (CRU) predicted the end of the Scottish
      ski industry and remember this from DV? ‘Within a few years
      winter snowfall will become a rare and exciting event … children
      just aren’t going to know what snow is.’ …it hasn’t and they do.

    • @DocM: Monseigneur Georges Lemaître’s theory for the genesis of the universe was hated by many, including Hoyle, who dismissively called it the ‘Big Bang Theory’.

      More Americans today doubt the Big Bang theory than doubt the role of GHGs in global warming, according to a recent Associated Press-GfK poll. According to the poll, “About 4 in 10 say they are not too confident or outright disbelieve that the earth is warming, mostly a result of man-made heat-trapping gases, that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old or that life on Earth evolved through a process of natural selection, though most were at least somewhat confident in each of those concepts. But a narrow majority — 51 percent — questions the Big Bang theory.”

  18. anthony thompson

    In a parallel universe to our own, there is a special Nobel Prize for admitting you got it wrong.

    There the climate scientists are also worried about CO2 and global warming but their ambition to be a Nobel laureate means they are scrupulously honest about what they know, what they don’t know, what is fact and what is theory. The result? They get the money they need. Science gets the respect it needs.

  19. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    WebHubTelescope asks “A common theme is … iconoclastic scientists that produced good research early in their careers, then wigged out later.”

    LOL … Nobelist Brian Josephson!

    Josephson has repeatedly criticized the practice of “science by consensus,” arguing that the scientific community is too quick to reject certain kinds of ideas.

    Among the fringe-science ideas that Brian Josephson has embraced: parapsychology, telepathy, levitation, remote viewing, psychokinesis, transcendental meditation, cold fusion, homeopathy.

    Conclusion  Most commonly, consensus-science has proven to be just plain right, and fringe-science has proven to be just plain wrong.

    \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • I did not know that about Josephson of Josephson Junction fame. I did meet Leo Esaki who shared the prize on quantum tunneling and of course he was the normal scientist interested in conventional research.

  20. Was Fred Hoyle a maverick?

    Rejected scientific consensus. Check. Shot from the hip while visiting another branch of science while on a bus tour. Check.

    Sounds sort of like Freeman Dyson.

  21. Hoyle is a parallel to today’s AGW skeptics. He never believed in the Big Bang (despite being credited with coining the term). He had a steady state theory that he kept developing as an antithesis to overwhelming Big Bang evidence, even after the microwave background was discovered that he couldn’t explain and called just a fog. This is like natural variation ideas currently being promoted as an antithesis to CO2-caused warming. The resistance to the CO2 explanation parallels Hoyle’s resistance to the Big Bang. He was credited with some major advances in stellar physics, but his wrongheaded outspokenness tragically overshadows all that in his legacy.

    • Natural variation explains why the rate of warming from 1900 to 1945 was higher than the warming rate after 1945.

      CO2 explains nothing. The rate of warming after 1945 should have been significantly higher.

    • “Natural variation explains why the rate of warming from 1900 to 1945 was higher than the warming rate after 1945.”

      What evidence do you have that the rate of warming from 1900-1945 was higher?

      Maybe you will cite the undeniable accuracy of GISTEMP and HadCRUT.

    • Solar variation, seen with increasing sunspot numbers, can be invoked for the period up to 1940 to explain about half of that rise. However, since 1950, the sun can’t explain any of that warming, while it matches what CO2 would have been predicted to do.

    • lolwot

      “Natural variation explains why the rate of warming from 1900 to 1945 was higher than the warming rate after 1945.”

      What evidence do you have that the rate of warming from 1900-1945 was higher?

      http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:1900/to:1945/trend/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:1945/to:2013/trend

      1900-1945: 0.50C warming over 45 years = 0.111C warming per decade
      1945-2013: 0.65C warming over 68 years = 0.096C warming per decade.

      Got it?

      Max

    • manacker, what lolwot may be suggesting is that half the skeptics don’t trust these past-adjusted datasets because they make the past look cooler, while the other half use the warming rates in those same datasets without suggesting they might make the past look cooler. Is it a clearly divided camp, or are some skeptics trying to have it both ways?

    • Jim, if we dropped the the co2 levels by 3ppm this year would the world start cooling?

    • Jim D

      Solar variation, seen with increasing sunspot numbers, can be invoked for the period up to 1940 to explain about half of that rise. However, since 1950, the sun can’t explain any of that warming, while it matches what CO2 would have been predicted to do.

      Wrong, Jim.

      20thC solar activity was unusually high in several thousand years, with the second half more active than the first.

      Solar cycles 15 through 18 (from 1914 to 1955) averaged a max. Wolf number (solar activity) of 113.

      Solar cycles 19 through 22 (from 1955 to 1996) averaged a max. Wolf number of 154

      It does not help your case, Jim, to toss out bogus numbers that can easily be checked and falsified.

      Max

      .

    • steven, short answer, no, it would just warm to a very slightly lower level, still depending on what we did in the future. The question to ask is which level of CO2 will we stabilize at? 500 ppm, 1000 ppm? Who knows? Both are possible, but it makes a big difference.

    • manacker, since 1950, the solar output has been constant to recently downward, and temperatures and ocean heat content have risen a lot. There is no positive solar forcing change, see IPCC summary of its value since 1950, that compares anything close to the CO2 forcing change. It’s just the numbers.

    • Jim D

      Use your head.

      Sure.

      The data set (HadCRUT3 and 4) has been “back-adjusted” to make the past warming look smaller and the current warming look greater. We all know that.

      But, even after this manipulation, the warming from 1900 to 1945 was at a slightly faster rate than the warming after 1945, which lolwot apparently doubted, until I showed him the data.

      Max

    • manacker, you fail to account for the lull in solar activity around 1910, which is similar to today’s one. Then it rose sharply to a mid-century maximum, just in the 1910-1940 warming period. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

    • Jim D

      Solar variation, seen with increasing sunspot numbers, can be invoked for the period up to 1940 to explain about half of that rise. However, since 1950, the sun can’t explain any of that warming

      This statement is flat out wrong. Solar activity was higher in the second half of the 20thC than in the first half, as I pointed out to you with the Wolf numbers for the solar cycles involved.

      Just repeating an inaccuracy doesn’t make it true, Jim.

      In fact, if you repeat it too many times it becomes a flat out lie. Don’t fall into that trap.

      Max.

    • manacker, see my above post at same time. It answered this question too.

    • Coincidence? Sure. Causative? I don’t know so.
      =====================

    • Come on, kim. Apart from volcanoes, this is the clearest example of natural variation in the record, and you shun it because you don’t want it to explain part of the 1910-1940 rise, for some reason that I can’t fathom.

    • Jim D

      Your “lull around 1910” does not address the issue that the period 1955 to 1996 (SC19–22) had a significantly higher solar activity (check Wiki and other sources) than the period 1914-1955 (SC 15-18), after this “lull”.

      Face it, Jim.

      The second half of the 20thC saw higher solar activity than the first, even excluding this “lull” (the period has even been referred to as a “grand solar maximum”).

      You’re in a hole, Jim. My advice: stop digging.

      Max

    • Meh, I shun your straw. I think it’s the sun wot dunnit; I just don’t know so.
      ==========

    • manacker, it is the change in forcing that causes changes in temperature. As far as the sun is concerned, the biggest change was in 1910-1940, and the temperature rose too. You seem to be agreeing that this should happen, while at the same time saying it can’t be true. You need to resolve your differences because so far you are just contradicting yourself.

    • Even if mid century had the highest solar forcing there would be no reason to believe the system had come to equilibrium with it. That is unless you believe there really is no transient response since transient and equilibrium responses would be one and the same.

    • steven, the transient response is fastest first and decays later. It would make most sense to see most of the warming as the solar forcing increased, as it appears happened.

    • Jim D

      No. I am not contradicting myself.

      First of all, there is no question that a major part of the 1910-1944 warming has been attributed to an increase in solar activity. As pointed out in AR4, the models cited by IPCC were unable to explain all the warming, however, as they used a very lowball estimate of solar attribution IMO (limited to direct solar irradiance alone).

      YOU made the false statement that increased solar forcing stopped in the 1940s (none after 1950). This is flat out wrong, as I pointed out to you, since the solar cycles following 1950 were more active than those before and among the most active for several thousand years (even being referred to as a solar grand maximum).

      Now let’s recap.

      The early 20thC warming was statistically indistinguishable from the late 20th C warming.

      The early 20thC warming occurred during a period when there was hardly any increase in atmospheric CO2 and a fairly high level of solar activity.

      The statistically indistinguishable late 20thC warming occurred during a period of rapid CO2 increase plus an even higher level of solar activity.

      Inasmuch as the models cited by IPCC were unable to explain the early 20thC warming, let alone the 30-year cycle of slight cooling between the two warming cycles, it is doubtful in my mind that they can do any better for the late 20thC warming cycle. Too much uncertainty, Jim..

      Max

    • Jim, I’m well aware of how it is supposed to work so I am suprised that the reasoning isn’t applied consistently. You keep saying solar would be negative or, as in this case, that it couldn’t have contributed to the warming after mid century. You don’t keep saying that it would have more effect in the first half than the second half. So are you changing your argument or are you sticking with solar being negative after mid century? What would that indicate for transient and equilibrium sensitivity?

    • manacker, that is where we disagree. You think the temperature should continue to rise for a flat solar forcing over the last 50 years, and I don’t. Just because it is flat at a high value doesn’t mean that warming should continue. All estimates of even this “high” solar forcing change are too weak by an order of magnitude to explain the temperature rise in the 20th century, while the CO2 forcing is ten times as much and can explain it. It’s just the quantification of forcing changes, using actual numbers, that explains what dominates.

    • steven, negative now relative to the mid-century max. I don’t think anyone would argue with that.

    • “Hoyle is a parallel to today’s AGW skeptics”

      Do you mean AGW skeptics or CAGW skeptics?

      Most people named ‘deniers’, ‘anti-science’ and ‘fake-skeptics’ accept the former and not persuaded by the latter.

      It does not help that the ‘Climate Scientists’ who do believe in CAGW are as persuasive of their personal and intellectual honesty as Al Gore is an anti-tobacco campaigner.

    • Jim, so your position is that solar contributed to warming in the latter half of the 20th century just not as much as it contributed in the first half? I just want to make sure I know what you are saying now because it isn’t obvious that it is the same as what you have said previously.

    • I mean the consensus AGW, which is that the warming is dominated by CO2. The Big Bang consensus turned out to be right, but Hoyle remained not only skeptical but adamant in his own theory even when it didn’t explain the observations so well.

    • steven, the solar forcing curve rose sharply from 1910 to the mid century, then went fairly flat at the high level before declining significantly in the last few years. The temperature could have been affected by the rise, but not by the flat part because the temperature only rises when the forcing continues to rise, as CO2’s does. As I mentioned above, the CO2 forcing is ten times larger anyway, so the solar idea is a dead horse and few skeptics promote this any more.

    • Jim, you have solved all out problems. We run co2 up as high as we want and if it gets too warm we just knock it down a couple of ppm. By your explanation there is only a transient response equal to the equilibrium response and it is subject to immediate reversal by being even slightly less or even just flattening the forcing out.Whew, what a relief, huh?

    • Solar is a dead horse in your mind. In my mind there is mounting evidence that solar controls ocean oscillations on short medium and long term time scales. If solar controls heat transport then co2 just isn’t going to make much of a difference.

    • steven, if we stop emissions, the warming rate slows down and eventually stops.

    • Make up your mind, Jim. Did the warming from solar stop or did it slow down?

    • steevn, it would have stopped quite quickly if there was no imbalance. It appears that the ocean kept up in 1910-1940, so I don’t think there was an imbalance. That is not the case now, of course, with the land warming twice as fast as the ocean, which is a sign of a large imbalance.

    • Jim, so there is a fundamental difference in the way the land and oceans warm to co2 as compared to solar. Solar makes both the oceans and the land warm and co2 only makes the land warm. And here I thought the main difference was that the land was warming primarily where areas were now exposed to ocean warmth due to loss of sea ice. Of course that would be a heat transport effect and not a forcing effect and, if the data showing a slowdown in poleward heat transport in the Atlantic is correct, may be in the process of a dramatic reversal.

    • Actually, the background radiation by itself wouldn’t be enough to prove the BB. Lots of other processes could lead to that background. The BB has outcompeted alternatives because it explains (or nearly–there are some fudge factors here and there) so many different things (e.g. nucleosynthesis numbers, why it’s dark at night). It simply becomes impossible to make sense of most observations without some sort of BB framework. (That doesn’t mean that the certainty level about the specific details of the theory would be remotely high enough to justify undertaking costly policy measures linked to those details, if cosmology were somehow to become policy relevant.)

      Interestingly, the alternative-cosmology types have tended to occupy the leftward end of the political spectrum, not the rightward side as with the relativity contrarians I’ve run across. Eric Lerner’s The Big Bang Never Happened is suffused with Marxian rhetoric, although he’s now running a capitalist fusion-energy company in New Jersey. The patron saint of Lerner’s preferred “plasma universe” model is Hannes Alfven, long a public campaigner for left-oriented causes. The late Halton Arp put some strongly leftish comments in his Quasars, Redshifts, and Controversies although not so much in his later Seeing Red. I’m not sure why these ideological correlations hold; perhaps some of a left and atheist persuasion think the Big Bang is too close to the Biblical account of creation, as Robert Jastrow discussed in God and the Astronomers.

    • steven, I think the warming pattern depends on the forcing. Solar forcing does warm the tropics quite efficiently, while there are good reasons that the CO2 is not directly effective there, but is more effective where the atmosphere is drier, over land and in the polar regions, so polar amplification is a signature of it.

    • Jim, we may get to find out soon. If you are right and the decrease in heat transport continues then it won’t change things and if you are wrong then the arctic will freeze back up, land temperatures will drop, and you can start saying climate disruption a lot more often.

    • steven, currently Arctic sea-ice and Greenland melting rates are both accelerating in the opposite direction to what you hope, so I wouldn’t count on that.

    • The N Atlantic has been losing heat content since about 2007. If more heat isn’t pumped poleward to warm the water back up it is just a matter of time.

    • There sure is a long list of excuses why the rate of warming dropped after man made CO2 really started increasing after 1945.

      But excuses should not be the basis for a supposed “science”.

    • Jim D

      You make the same mistake that IPCC makes.

      You ASS-U-ME that “solar forcing” is limited to the change in direct solar irradiance ONLY.

      Problem is, this cannot explain the early 20thC warming cycle, which was statistically indistinguishable from the late 20thC warming cycle, which IPCC uses as its “poster period”.

      So we have the IPCC logic
      1. Our models cannot explain the early 20thC warming cycle
      2. We know that the statistically indistinguishable late 20thC warming cycle was caused by AGW.
      3. How do we know this?
      4. Because our models cannot explain it any other way.

      Max

    • manacker, no, it is you who is assuming things. You assume that we can’t measure solar irradiance variations, therefore it must be wrong and is definitely the warming factor, while CO2’s near 2 W/m2 forcing is having no effect at all, just because, so we need this other factor that someone will come up with some day that multiplies the sun’s effect by the needed factor of ten. OK, so you have spelled out your assumptions very clearly.

    • Jim D

      The land and sea surface temperatures are both cooling slightly for the past decade or more.The sea seems to be cooling at a slightly faster rate than the land.

      http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadsst2gl/from:2002/trend
      http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/crutem4vgl/from:2002/trend

      The two warmed pretty much in sync until 1986, when the trends diverged:
      http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/crutem4vgl/from:1986/trend/plot/hadsst2gl/from:1986/trend/plot/crutem4vgl/from:1950/to:1986/trend/plot/hadsst2gl/from:1950/to:1986/trend

      Max

    • Jim D

      Wrong again:

      You assume that we can’t measure solar irradiance variations

      Sure we can measure them.

      But IPCC ASS-U-MEs that this is the ONLY way in which the sun forces climate change.

      And this assumption is essentially falsified by the early 20thC warming cycle, which cannot be explained by the models using only changes in direct solar irradiance plus anthropogenic factors.

      The same is true for past periods of colder temperature during periods of low solar activity when there were essentially no anthropogenic factors.

      So we apparently do not know all the mechanisms by which the changes in the activity of the sun drive our climate.

      That was my point.

      Max

    • manacker, OK, let’s look at this in the big picture (climate scales).
      http://woodfortrees.org/plot/crutem4vgl/mean:120/mean:60/plot/hadsst2gl/mean:120/mean:60
      See those little curves at the end? That’s your pause. You don’t see it at all in the 30-year climate, where the end is about as straight as can be.
      http://woodfortrees.org/plot/crutem4vgl/mean:240/mean:120/plot/hadsst2gl/mean:240/mean:120

    • manacker, on solar forcing, we see 0.2 C swings in 11-year sunspot cycles, and the solar forcing change is about 0.2 W/m2. For the early 20th century it only needs to shift by the magnitude of the sunspot cycle to provide 0.2 C which is half the warming (the other half coming from CO2). This is not as far-fetched as you want to make it out to be. There are reconstructions that allow the irradiance to change by that much (1 W/m2 in the solar constant).

    • Jim D, I tried your trick using an earlier period. Notice how ten years of cooling from 1940 to 1950 have nicely vanished:
      http://woodfortrees.org/plot/crutem4vgl/to:1950/mean:240/mean:120/plot/hadsst2gl/to:1950/mean:240/mean:120/plot/crutem3vgl/to:1950/mean:60/plot/hadsst2gl/to:1950/mean:60

    • Jim D

      Here’s another “look at the big picture (climate scales)”
      http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:1910/to:1944/trend/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:1944/to:1975/trend/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:1975/to:2001/trend/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:2001/trend

      We see three “climate scale” cycles: two indistinguishable warming cycles (early and late 20thC, a mid-century cycle of slight cooling in between and arguably the beginning of another cycle of slight cooling this century.

      CO2 level (ppmv) was:
      1910: 299
      1944: 311
      1975: 330
      2001: 370
      2013: 395

      Using IPCC’s 2xCO2 TCR estimate of around 2C we should have seen
      0.11C warming (1910-1944); we actually saw 0.5C warming
      0.17C warming (1944-1975); we actually saw cooling of -0.08C
      0.33C warming (1975-2001); we actually saw 0.48C warming
      0.19C warming (2001-2013); we actually saw cooling of -0.05C

      So there is obviously something else beside CO2 that is having a major impact on the warming/cooling over these “climate scale” time periods.

      And this “something else” caused:
      0.39C warming (1910-1944)
      -0.25C cooling (1944-1975)
      0.15C warming (1975-2001)
      -0.24C cooling (2001-2013)

      And the problem is, Jim, neither you nor I nor the IPCC know what that “something else” is.

      And, until we know this, it is impossible to say what the natural versus anthropogenic impact was.

      “Uncertainty” is what our hostess calls it.

      Max

    • Steven Mosher

      “You ASS-U-ME that “solar forcing” is limited to the change in direct solar irradiance ONLY.”

      AH YES.. its solar unicorns!!

      Psst max? your sun spot numbers are wrong wrong wrong.

      There is no modern solar max.

    • One thing that hasn’t been mentioned in this thread that is very important:

      The increase in solar activity over the 20th century has already been completely wiped out.
      http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/sidc-ssn/from:1900/mean:132

      That the Earth is still heating up despite such a solar shutdown atests to the power of the CO2 control knob. Those who believe the Sun has a huge impact on global temperature levels should be highly alarmed that something much bigger and anthropogenic is now in control. What happens when the Sun stops dropping?

    • “Those who believe the Sun has a huge impact on global temperature levels should be highly alarmed”

      What if we’re not?

      Andrew

    • Bad Andrew

      Then you obviously need to take lessons in ‘how to become easily alarmed’. There are several excellent potential teachers of the subject on this blog. Why don’t you get a few competitive quotes?

      Personally I think Iolwot would be in with a sporting chance of getting the contract as his alarmism is expressed much more pleasantly than some others here.
      tonyb

    • climatereason,

      We could do a whole AGW curriculum.

      Professor lolwot for alarm, which would be the first class of the day to wake us up.

      Mosher for obfuscation mid-morning, where we can volunteer to re-define words up at the chalkboard.

      We can watch Joshua try to play kickball at recess after lunch.

      Barty and Gatsey for tedious white noise data in the afternoon (which is also nap time).

      FOMD as clown to entertain us for afternoon recess. He can twist ballons into C02 molecule replicas.

      And finally, MAX_OK for the last class, just because schools insist on teaching Marxism these days.

      Andrew

    • Last time the sun went quiet Australia baked.

      What do you expect? There are no control knobs. No solar knobs, no CO2 knobs. Just a vast flux called climate that may be comprehensible…but is not now comprehended.

    • Why is the AGW supporters suddenly grabbing onto solar variation like a drowning person grabs onto a life preserver?

      Why not try and come up with a realistic explanation for why more CO2 after 1945 caused the rate of warming to DROP?

    • lolwot, the mean of the sunspot number:

      1900-1945 = 41
      1945-2013 = 71

      Are you suggesting an inverse relationship between sunspots and rate of temperature rise?

      A novel theory.

    • 1910-1944 0.14C/decade

      1970-2004 0.18C/decade

      Recent warming has been faster.

    • lolwot, 2004 is not recent. It was 10 years ago.

    • lolwot, the question is,

      Why has the post-1945 warming rate been lower than the pre-1945 warming rate considering that 1945 is when man-made CO2 really started to climb.

      I’ve seen some poor excuses, but no explanation that has any validity.

      Surely if CO2 was an an important GHG the warming rate would be higher after 1945 by a significant amount.

    • 1944 was not recent either.

      The point is that the modern warming is faster and a large magnitude than the early 20th century warming.

      This is what both HadCRUT4 and GISTEMP show and BEST has confirmed the good accuracy of these records.

    • One other stat to think about:

      In the last 100 years,

      The last 11 years has the lowest sunspot activity
      The last 11 years has the highest global temperature
      The last 11 years has the highest CO2 level

      So what fits better, CO2 or the Sun?

    • From 1900 to 1945 the temperature rose by 0.5C to 0C anomaly.

      As of 2014 it is .44C anomaly.

      If the post-1945 rate was identical to 1900 to 1945, the anomaly would be .76C.

      If CO2 had caused the rate of warming to be double the pre-1945 rate, then the anomaly would be 1.52C.

      CO2 is the wimpiest GHG ever.

    • lolwot, Sunspot activity was much, much higher after 1945.

      And Feb 1878 was warmer than Feb 2014.

      HADCRUT4 Feb 1878 0.403C
      HADCRUT4 Feb 2014 0.299C

    • lolwot, CO2 has had no upwards effect on the warming RATE. It has lowered it.

      And it has cut the warming rate of the SST in half.

      From 1900 to 1945 oceans were warming at a rate of 0.0116188C per year. After 1945 oceans were warming at a rate of 0.00654978C per year.

      http://sunshinehours.wordpress.com/2014/04/17/could-co2-have-lowered-the-rate-of-natural-warming-in-the-oceans/

    • Bad Andrew

      Really liked your idea of classes. The ‘obfuscation’ class in particular seems to me to have great merit as it seems a natural for public servants, politicians and captains of industry to attend , paying us a nice fat tuition fee in the process.

      tonyb

  22. The fact verses theory discussion cuts to the heart of my skepticism of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW). For 20 years I have been watching alarmists treat theories as facts. And now they are having to modify their “facts” to come close to fitting the data.

    AR 5 seems to do a decent job of separating the two.

    So far, the facts are few and offer little of concern. The theories are many and some are worrisome.

  23. Even facts come with a certain amount of uncertainty. The values of G (gravitational constant) and e (charge of the electron) evolved after Cavendish and Milliken first measured them. But even the first measurements were ‘good enough’ to be useful in physics.
    Climate facts carry more uncertainty if for no other reason than spacial averaging. Some are probably now good enough, like satellite estimates of temperature and radiation balance. Others aren’t, like paleoproxies. Model outputs are not facts, they are embodiments of theories. And increasingly being proven wrong by growing certainty about facts.

    • Steven Mosher

      of course model outputs are facts. They are the facts we use to tell if a model is good or not. we compare the facts of model outputs to other facts, so called observations ( observations which also rely on theory ) to determine if the facts of model output comport with the “facts” of observation

      • @Steven Mosher – Model outputs are not facts. They are model outputs. If they accurately project trends, they can become facts. But the output of a model showing a 2° C temperature rise that does not materialize is not a fact. It is an error. Errors can be useful if they are used to learn with.

    • “of course model outputs are facts”

      So if the model output is unicorns, we are still dealing with “facts”.

      Riiiiiiiight.

      Andrew

    • Manufacts vs Facts.
      ===============

    • I would call the output of a model a “theory”, not a fact. But I’m not an English major.

    • And Mosher again proves why he is the Climate Etc. obscurantist in chief.

      You don’t like a post, just redefine a few key words and presto! Intellectual relativism.

      “of course model outputs are facts”

      Definition of fact in English:

      noun

      1A thing that is indisputably the case:

      http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/fact

      Sometimes it’s hard to tell if Mosher is channeling Orwell, or Humpty Dumpty. For this classic in the genre, I go with the big egg:

      “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

    • Wow, boys! A model output is a fact. Let’s say the model output printed on a freaking piece of paper is A+B=C. That is the factual result/output of the model. Does A+B=C agree with reality? That’s another issue.

    • Steven Mosher

      Model outputs are no better than the ASS-U-MEd model inputs.

      “Facts in = facts out”

      “Garbage in = garbage out”

      You know this, so don’t try to waffle around it, Mosh – just makes you look silly.

      Max

    • Max, did you just read the first sentence of what Mosher wrote, then have some kneejerk reaction and stop reading?

    • Don Montford

      It would be wonderful if the ASS-U-MEd inputs to the climate models really were validated or falsified based on empirical evidence based on actual physical observations (facts).

      Mosh writes that this should be how it works in an ideal world, but that has largely not been the case in climatology, as the lead post points out.

      We still have GIGO, circular logic, validation of models by other models and other such rubbish.

      And the main reason we have this is because climate science has become highly politicized. It has become a “search for proof” (of the CAGW meme) rather than a “search for truth”. Chief culprit: the IPCC “consensus process”.

      That was my point.

      Max

    • Don Monfort

      Sorry I misspelled your name.

      Max

    • OK, Max. But you are arguing something that Mosher did not say in that comment. And I don’t recall him ever claiming that the GCMs have been validated.

    • Steven Mosher

      You wrote

      we compare the facts of model outputs to other facts, so called observations ( observations which also rely on theory ) to determine if the facts of model output comport with the “facts” of observation

      And I agree that this is how it is supposed to work.

      Here is an example of the “models” being checked by the “facts”.

      The models cited by IPCC in its TAR report in 2001 projected that global average temperature would increase between 0.15ºC and 0.3ºC per decade as a result of AGW from increased human GH gasses. This was later refined in its AR4 report to a global warming forecast of 0.2ºC per decade.

      Since 2001 CO2 emissions have continued unabated and concentrations have increased from 369 to 395 ppmv, which should have caused warming of 0.2ºC according to the model estimates. Other minor GHG concentrations have also increased.

      But the “facts” did not check with the “models”.

      Instead of warming it actually cooled by around 0.05ºC over the period, despite the increase in GH gas concentrations.

      So were the “models” validated or falsified by the “facts” in this case?

      Or are the “models” still right, despite the conflicting “facts”?

      Max

  24. Judith says:

    With regards to climate science, the biggest concern that I have is the insistence on ‘the facts.’ This came up during my recent ‘debate’ with Kevin Trenberth. I argued that there are very few facts in all this, and that most of what passes for facts in the public debate on climate change is: inference from incomplete, inadequate and ambiguous observations; climate models that have been demonstrated not to be useful for most of the applications that they are used for; and theories and hypotheses that are competing with alternative theories and hypotheses.

    Trenberth’s “facts” are now nothing more than bald assertions, loosely disguised as reasoned conclusions by running them thru the following “logic” train:

    1. We know that “global warming” is happening, therefore:

    2. Everything that we observe must be, in whole or in part, the result of “global warming”

    3. Given that everything we observe demonstrates the effects of “global warming”, we therefore know that “global warming” is happening.

    Rinse, repeat.

    This is the function of Kev’s “invert the null hypothesis” strategy. He is either too stupid to see that this is fallacious, or too dishonest to care.

    • This is akin to Mosher’s “C02 makes it warmer” leading to his data product’s inevitable conclusion that it’s “warmer”.

      Really, why go through the fuss if the conclusion is already assumed?

      Andrew

  25. Steven Mosher

    Dyson makes it clear.

    Skeptics are not doing great science

    ““We can’t live in a state of perpetual doubt, so we make up the best story possible and we live as if the story were true.” A theory that began as a wild guess ends as a firm belief. Humans need beliefs in order to live, and great scientists are no exception. Great scientists produce right theories and wrong theories, and believe in them with equal conviction.”

    skeptics think they are doing great science by merely doubting. They are not.

    That is why the most important question is “what do skeptics believe?” not
    what do they doubt.

    • “skeptics think they are doing great science by merely doubting”

      On the other hand, Warmers think that producing similar looking squiggly lines means they are “right”.

      Andrew

    • I agree that just being sceptical of everything can be detrimental, so suggest that sceptics unite around a simple alternative hypothesis:

      CO2 is just an active spectator when it comes to climate, not a driver.

      This would force sceptics to investigate all the other variables. The debate would be based around a study of how this hypothesis fares against the “consensus”.

    • In keeping with the theme of the post, Mosher recklessly blunders:

      Dyson makes it clear.

      Yes he does. And despite the fact that Dyson makes it quite clear, Mosher still gets it wrong.

      And Mosher gets it wrong because Mosher sees what Mosher wants to see, rather than what is actually there. This is why Mosher is a non-scientific hack.

      The quote that Mosher attributes to Dyson, is not Dyson. It is Dyson quoting Livio, for the purpose of describing the contents of a book by Livio. Livio in turn, was himself quoting – not a scientist, but a psychobabbler named Kahneman.

      And Kahneman, of course, is wrong.

      But a misinterpretation making the third hand words Dyson’s serves Mosher’s internal narrative, so that is what Mosher sees, and that is what Mosher says.

      Mosher should stop wondering why we pay no attention to what he says about what he sees when he looks at the “best” data.

    • Demolishing bad theories is doing science.

      “what do skeptics believe?”

      I believe the rate of warming should have increased after 1945 if CO2 was a powerful GHG. That is a theory. It can be tested. And it fails the test. You may not like the results, but the theory exists.

    • Dyson: Generally speaking, I’m much more of a conformist, but it happens I have strong views about climate because I think the majority is badly wrong, and you have to make sure if the majority is saying something that they’re not talking nonsense.

      Question: With a majority of scientists on the other side of this issue, what would it take to convince you to switch sides?

      Dyson: What I’m convinced of is that we don’t understand climate, and so that’s sort of a neutral position. I’m not saying the majority is necessarily wrong. I’m saying that they don’t understand what they’re seeing. It will take a lot of very hard work before that question is settled, so I shall remain neutral until something very different happens.

    • Assertion/theory:
      Unicorns will fly out of the North Pole on December 20th.

      Question:
      Is it enough to merely doubt or do we need to come up with an alternate theory? (Maybe it’s December 21st?)

    • Mosher would have a point, for a change, if the CAGW debate were about science.

      But as he well knows (and even occasionally admits) the real debate is about politics. (Shoot, I bet Mosher even really knows what a fact is, when he’s not trying to score debating points.)

      Leave aside decarbonization, in all its progressive manifestation, and the debate becomes both scientific, and academic. Until then, doubt is the only rational response to a political movement that started with Hansen and Senate Dems playing with the thermostat in 1988.

      I don’t need a PhD in radiative physics to tell me that Al Gore, Jim Hansen, Michael Mann, Rajendra Pachauri, Peter Gleick, Stephen Schneider, the U.S. Democrat Party, and the progressive governments of virtually the entire western world, are not scientists calmly calling the “facts” as they see them.

    • Steven Mosher

      You opine:

      Skeptics are not doing great science

      That’s not their job, Mosh.

      The guys “doing the science” are the Hansens, Trenberths, Manns, Spencers, Lindzens, Lewis’ et al.

      Is it “great”? Maybe, maybe not. Mostly not, when compared to other scientific fields, IMO.

      Skeptics are simply holding their feet to the fire when it comes to weeding out bogus claims based on flawed studies, faulty model outputs resulting from incorrect model input assumptions or circular logic, for example.

      And, unfortunately, “climate science” is rife with these, largely as a result of the corrupt, politicized “consensus process” of IPCC.

      You’ll have to agree it’s a can of worms.

      So hurray for the skeptics, who may help weed out some of the garbage out there masquerading as “climate science”.

      Max

    • JJ,

      You are missing something:

      ““We can’t live in a state of perpetual doubt, so we make up the best story possible and we live as if the story were true.” A theory that began as a wild guess ends as a firm belief. Humans need beliefs in order to live, and great scientists are no exception. Great scientists produce right theories and wrong theories, and believe in them with equal conviction.”

      The first sentence is Dyson quoting from Livio’s book. Following that, it looks like it’s Dyson’s words seeming to echo what the first sentence said. Now why would Dyson quote those words and then reinforce them if he wasn’t in agreement?

    • Don Monfort says,

      The first sentence is Dyson quoting from Livio’s book. Following that, it looks like it’s Dyson’s words seeming to echo what the first sentence said. Now why would Dyson quote those words and then reinforce them if he wasn’t in agreement?

      One frequently uses the quote of another as a jumping off point for one’s own exposition on that topic, even if what one is saying is not entirely in agreement with the original statement. In fact, what Mosher has done here is an extreme example of exactly that.

      Mosher starts with Kahneman, moves on to Dyson’s review of Livio’s writing that quotes Kahneman, and ultimately ends up with something that is 100% Mosher. No problem with that, except that Mosher then attributes his own sentiment to Dyson, when Dyson said no such thing.

      Look at what Dyson actually said:

      A theory that began as a wild guess ends as a firm belief. Humans need beliefs in order to live, and great scientists are no exception. Great scientists produce right theories and wrong theories, and believe in them with equal conviction.

      .

      None of that … even if Dyson was 100% on board with it instead of merely paraphrasing Livio for the purposes of his book review … none of that says this:

      “Skeptics are not doing great science.”

      That is 100% Mosher’s preexisting condition: OCD against skeptics.

      Dyson, on the other hand, comments at length about how current climate science isn’t so great, and his principal complaint is that climate scientists over conclude and are too enthralled with their own BS, i.e. that they are not skeptical.

      Here is 100% Dyson: “I think any good scientist ought to be a skeptic.”

      Mosher puts Mosher’s words in Dyson’s mouth. Mosher seems to be seeking validation for Mosher’s opinions, and is willing to invent it if he finds it is not forthcoming. We really need a psychobabbler like Kahneman (or better yet, Lewandosky) to publically opine as to why that is…

    • OK, JJ. On closer examination, I see what you mean. While it may be true that some/most/many/all? skeptics are not doing great science, Dyson didn’t say so in that quote.

    • Mosher, you think you do better science than Roy Spencer or Lindzen? They are scientists, your a philosopher and collector of data.

    • Dyson nowhere suggests that this inability to live with doubt is a good thing. It is a psychological weakness of the sort studied by psychologists and behavioral economists. Given that weakness, locking on to incorrect theories without proper warrant may be the best many people can do in stumbling forward and making progress, but it would be better for scientists to be able to motivate themselves to pursue shaky working hypotheses without getting emotionally committed to those hypotheses.

      Blowing holes in bad ideas without proposing an alternative is a quintessential aspect of scientific progress, historically and logically. Showing that phreneological data don’t predict criminality (and that the theory purporting to connect the two is fatally flawed) is hugely productive even though we still can’t predict or explain criminality very well. Many, many really bad theories occur in situations where the state of understanding is far too poor to advance a better theory, e.g. astrology and human destiny. Or, possibly, “control knob” climate science and actual climate.

    • Steve, one could be given a map purporting to show the positions of mines; a believer in the accuracy of maps in general, like yourself, would confidentially stride into the dangerous minefield, you have faith in maps as models of reality.
      Those of us who are skeptic recognize that maps are indeed models of reality, but their production and accuracy is cartographer dependent; we don’t hate maps or cartographers, but our trust is inversely proportional to potential cost.

    • Mosher @ 1.14, I don’t believe I’m doing science at all. What I look for in the debate is whether or not there seem to be serious grounds for concern (I’m not convinced), what are the merits of policies proposed and/or adopted to deal with alleged concerns, and whether (as I strongly believe) alternative policies and approaches to those promoted by those who accept that there will be serious/catastrophic consequences from warming would be superior, whether or not claimed dire consequences of warming eventuate.

      I’m also concerned about our capacity to accurately foresee what will occur in decades and centuries hence, and the degree to which such uncertain prognostications should drive present policy.

      Let me, for the sake of argument, assume that without significant GHG reduction measures, there will be some harmful consequences by 2100 or so. What else will have changed by then, what will be the political, economic, social factors of concern or benefit in the next 90 years? We have no idea, to fixate on one uncertain factor which may or may not cause net harm does not strike me as good policy. Whatever truth there may or may not be in the (C)AGW story, I see no grounds for the degree of policy significance which it has assumed.

      I’m a sceptic; of course I’m “not doing great science,” it’s not my field nor the driver of my concern at policy responses to alleged CAGW.

    • –Let me, for the sake of argument, assume that without significant GHG reduction measures, there will be some harmful consequences by 2100 or so. What else will have changed by then, what will be the political, economic, social factors of concern or benefit in the next 90 years? We have no idea, to fixate on one uncertain factor which may or may not cause net harm does not strike me as good policy. Whatever truth there may or may not be in the (C)AGW story, I see no grounds for the degree of policy significance which it has assumed.–

      Cars were not invented because cities were getting a lot of horse manure.
      Airplane were not invented because there was a need to fly across a ocean.
      Nothing has ever been successfully done the way alarmist think they should and must be done.
      They are French wanting to build the Maginot Line. Only they are dumber because it is wall defending against the Germans of the 22nd century.

    • Mosher,

      That is why the most important question is “what do skeptics believe?” not
      what do they doubt.

      You’ve got it very wrong, IMO.

      The CAGW believers have a theory. And they believe that the world must act to drastically cut GHG emissions because they say it is causing AGW and that will become CAGW if we don’t act to cut the emissions.

      But scientists do not have expertise the various disciplines that lead up to policy analysis. They cannot answer the important questions we need to answers to. They continually avoid answering the key questions. The skeptics, quite rightly, want the answers to these questions before they are prepared to support the draconian policies the climate scientists are advocating.

      If the policies are going to cause great costs – which will inevitably reduce the prospects for people improving their standard of living, health, education and life expectancy – then the skeptics want to be convinced that every key argument, input, parameter and computer code being used to justify the proposed policies is valid. The skeptics are seeking proper due diligence.

      I would like to see a thorough adversarial due diligence approach. I’d like to see all the inputs, programs and data that is relevant to supporting the case properly documented to engineering quality standards. It must be readily accessible and understandable. The full trace to the underlying data, methods used, calibration data and model codes must be readily accessible.

      The Ontario NWMO http://www.nwmo.ca/home?language=en_CA may provide an example of how the policy relevant climate information could be assembled and presented. It has been prepared for an adversarial due diligence approach and is available for all to access. But this is not a job scientists can do. It is not their expertise. It is a job for disciplines such as engineers, lawyers, economist and policy annalists.

    • Mosher,

      Further to my response to your (incorrect) assertion:

      That is why the most important question is “what do skeptics believe?” not
      what do they doubt.

      We need answeres to these questions before we support high cost policies. But the climate scientists and CAGW believers continually didge answering them. You dodge them too.

      The most important things we don’t know are:

      1. Will increasing CO2 concentrations bring forward or delay the next sudden climate change event? and what are the probabilities?

      2. Will increasing CO2 concentrations make the next sudden climate change event more or less damaging? and what are the probabilities

      3. Will the advocated GHG mitigation policies change make beneficial changes to the climate?

      4. If so, how much difference will they make and what are the probabilities?

      5. What is the probability the advocated mitigation policies would succeed given the realities of international politics, economics, conflict, etc?

      6. What is the probability the advocated policies would deliver the expected benefits (i.e. climate damages avoided)?

      These are what I believe are the most important things we don’t know about climate change and the climate policies commonly proposed. Until I believe I have satisfactory answers to these questions, I would not support mitigation policies that will damage economic growth.

    • k scott denison

      Steven Mosher | April 21, 2014 at 1:14 pm | Reply

      That is why the most important question is “what do skeptics believe?” not
      what do they doubt.
      ________________________

      1. CO2, in laboratory experiments of a very small scale show interesting absorption characteristics for some wavelengths of IR.
      2. A simple numerical calculation based on these results indicates there would be a significant reduction in the radiation from the earth’s surface should the concentration of CO2 be doubled in the atmosphere and all other things held equal. (More correctly I suppose, the CO2 acts to reradiate some of the surface radiation bac to the surface for a net reduction in loss from the surface.)
      3. A further simple calculation indicates the reduction in the radiation from the surface would cause an increase in surface temperature as long as all other things are held equal.
      4. All other things are never equal and will never be equal over any time period.
      5. There are plenty of theories on what isn’t equal, what the responses to the increased CO2 might be, etc.
      6. Some of (5) are likely correct.
      7. Some of (5) are likely incorrect.
      8. Not all of what “isn’t equal” is known.
      9. There is no way to run controlled experiments in order to separate the effect(s) of CO2 from the other things that aren’t ever equal.
      10. Outside the original laboratory experiments there do not seem to be any scaled up experiments testing what might happen if other things aren’t equal. None of any scale that I have seen. (Perhaps I am missing theses?)
      11. There are conflicting opinions on whether increased temperature is a good or bad thing, and at what level it might switch from being good to bad or vice versa.
      12. Our observational records of temperature are poor at best (no pun intended) as they are both very much under sampled in many ways (length, location, time of day, etc.).
      13. The observational record is too short to draw conclusions given the size of natural variability.
      14. What appears to be the longest and best continuous record (CET) shows no reason to be concerned.
      15. My personal experience shows no reason to be concerned (I am 56 years old).
      16. My entire life there have always been individuals and groups telling me “the sky is falling”. It has never fallen.

      And, last,

      17. Your comments run the gamut from incredibly well researched, intelligent and insightful to petty, pedantic and puerile.

      This is some of what one skeptic believes.

    • Sun Spot, this is Monckton’s 4th attempt at damage control on WUWT following Lovejoy’s paper. He must sense that this paper has put leaks in the skeptical balloon, and he is trying to plug them for his concerned followers before it deflates any more. Valiant attempt, but in vain.

    • jimmy,jimmy

      Why don’t you go over to WUWT and show the Lord where he has gone wrong in his desperate attempt to save skepticsm from Lovejoy? Or do it here, jimmy dee. If you got the chops.

    • Monckton keeps using regional temperatures for global temperatures, and he claimed to have no understanding of the log CO2/temperature relation that Lovejoy showed, and went on to prove he didn’t. Very poor attempt at skepticism, and just reduced to insults. Lots of colorful words, however, and he pointed at a Lovejoy item that is worth reading.

    • That’s your debunking of Monckton, jimmy? And you don’t seem to be embarrassed. How do you do it?

    • Monckton is very easy to debunk. His main tactics are misdirections and insulting the intelligence of his readers.

    • You are just making crap up, jimmy dee. Monckton typically uses RSS and UAH for global temperatures, as he did in his figure 3. In other charts he used the usual suspects: HadCRU, GISS, NCDC etc. So that puts that lie to rest.

      “…he claimed to have no understanding of the log CO2/temperature relation that Lovejoy showed, and went on to prove he didn’t.”

      That’s because the relationship that Lovejoy claims is not understandable to non-believers:

      Monckton:”Professor Lovejoy says that his “CO2 proxy … predicts with 95 percent certainty that a doubling of CO2 levels in the atmosphere will lead to a warming of 1.9 to 4.2 Cº”. He prays in aid Fig. 4.”

      Do you understand the graph in figure 4. jimmy? (this is a test of your faith)

      Monckton goes on to say: “I do not pretend to understand this graph. For a start, it seems to show (albeit in exasperatingly non-standard units) that just about half the CO2 forcing since 1750 occurred before 1960, when CO2 concentration last stood at 316 ppmv. However, the official story-line (in standard units) is that the CO2 forcing from 1750 to 1958 was 0.7 W m–2, whereas that from 1958 to 2014 was greater by four-fifths, at 1.2 W m–2. Makes a bit of a mess of the claimed “linearity”, that.

      Secondly, the linear trend on the global temperature anomalies since 1880 is 0.87 Cº, (Fig. 5), in response to 1.9 W m–2 of CO2 forcing. A doubling of CO2 concentration would give 3.7 W m–2 of CO2 forcing, according to the current official method.

      Therefore, if there were a linear relation between CO2 forcing and temperature change (which there is not), and if all of the warming since 1750 were anthropogenic (which it was not), and if there were no major natural influences on temperature over the period (which there were) the warming in response to a CO2 doubling would be just 1.7 Cº, not the 2.33 Cº suggested in Professor Lovejoy’s caption.”

      Do you have any specific issue with that, jimmy dee? Please point out the misdirection and whatever.

    • Just in case your faith blinded you and you missed the description of Lovejoy’s chart:

      Figure 4. “This figure visually shows the strong linear relation between the radiative forcing and the global temperature response since 1880 … showing the 5-year running average of global temperature (red) as a function of the CO2 forcing surrogate from 1880 to 2004. The linearity is impressive; the deviations from linearity are due to natural variability. The slope of the regression line is 2.33±0.22 degrees Celsius per CO2 doubling (it is for the unlagged forcing/response relation).”

      I don’t see where Lovejoy says anything about “the log CO2/temperature relation that Lovejoy showed”. You made that up too, jimmy. Did you actually read the thing on WUWT? Do you need a link?

    • Don M, so many errors, so little time. The forcing change is more like 1.3 W/m2 than the Viscount’s 1.9, so the 2.33 comes from that. Does he really think he caught a mathematical error, or is he trying something out on his readers?
      In his responses to questions, he claimed we are 5000 years overdue for an Ice Age (huh?), and some WUWT denizens have called him out on it.
      He also equates an exact proof of a mathematical theorem, like Pythagoras, to a proof of a scientific theory. Several have called him out on that too. He’s struggling over there, but it is entertaining.

    • Pierre-Normand

      “I don’t see where Lovejoy says anything about “the log CO2/temperature relation that Lovejoy showed”.”
      Lovejoy figure displays the relation of surface temperature to CO2 forcing. CO2 forcing is a logarithmic function of CO2 concentration.

    • This is misdirection, jimmy:”In his responses to questions, he claimed we are 5000 years overdue for an Ice Age (huh?), and some WUWT denizens have called him out on it.”

      More misdirection, jimmy:”He also equates an exact proof of a mathematical theorem, like Pythagoras, to a proof of a scientific theory.”

      Where do you get the 1.3w forcing, jimmy dee?

      Did you notice that Lovejoy says the relationship between CO2 and temperature is linear?

      Did you actually read the thing we are talking about, jimmy dee?

      Monckton:”Therefore, if there were a linear relation between CO2 forcing and temperature change (which there is not), and if all of the warming since 1750 were anthropogenic (which it was not), and if there were no major natural influences on temperature over the period (which there were) the warming in response to a CO2 doubling would be just 1.7 Cº, not the 2.33 Cº suggested in Professor Lovejoy’s caption.”

      You should be quiet now.

    • Pierre:

      “This figure visually shows the strong linear relation between the radiative forcing and the global temperature response since 1880 … showing the 5-year running average of global temperature (red) as a function of the CO2 forcing surrogate from 1880 to 2004. The linearity is impressive; the deviations from linearity are due to natural variability. The slope of the regression line is 2.33±0.22 degrees Celsius per CO2 doubling (it is for the unlagged forcing/response relation).”

    • Don M, his graph has log CO2 as a horizontal axis and temperature as a vertical axis. Surely you noticed. This is also a straight line, as you may have seen. Taking numbers from that graph, it looks like Monckton got the temperature rise about right at 0.85 C, but taking 373 and 290 ppm end points from that graph, the forcing change is 1.3 W/m2, not 1.9 W/m2, so surprisingly to Monckton, Lovejoy did not make a mathematical error, and he himself did. Retraction coming? Of course not. His readers would be very disappointed to learn he might have fooled them, or just got his numbers mixed up.

    • George Turner

      Jim, Lovejoy gives a 99% chance that the increase in warming is due to just CO2, by simple curve matching and statistics. That means he finds only a one percent chance that the warming is due to changes in things like urban heat island, which went worldwide during the 20th century, the worldwide spread of intensive irrigation and land use, and paving a significant part of the Earth, and replacing rural temperature stations with ones at airports out of convenience, all of which would have exactly the same curve as CO2 because they were directly linked..

      Based on curve matching, which is all he did, there is no way on Earth you could zero in on one effect out of a dozen others that would also give a curve match with 99% confidence. None. Yet he went ahead and did that, with 99 percent confidence, which means he is a fool or a tool.

      Sometimes at the cutting edge of science you encounter a 99 percent change that you’ve found absolute proof of what everyone has been searching for, along with a 95 percent chance that your method was completely invalid because you didn’t step back and do some basic reality checks.

      His same method would prove that many previous glaciations had only a one in a billion chance of being due to natural forces, because the rate of temperature shift was much greater than the 20th century. This proves that these periods were caused by alien interventions in our climate, possibly the Greys, but more probably the Reptiloids. We know this because his methods and mathematics are impeccable, and can’t possibly be wrong, even though he didn’t take into account the decline of pirates from 1850 to present. As for the pause, which doesn’t remotely match his 99 percent certainty about CO2, well just look at what the Somalis have been doing in the Indian Ocean. In a truly objective analysis, the pirate theory would bump his certainty up to 99.6 percent or higher.

    • George Turner, the previous glaciations were due to albedo and CO2 effects combined, and the temperature changes are no surprise when CO2 and H2O feedback are taken into account, but hard to reconcile without them, because the albedo change alone is too small.
      If you want to say most of the 0.8 C rise is urban and land-use changes, have at it. I don’t think anyone else has claimed that, and most attempts to isolate urban effects have come far short of that, and these now include Muller and Watts. Watts was disappointed in his results, and is still looking for ways to adjust the temperature record to suit his beliefs better.

    • I noticed how the graph is labeled, jimmy. Did you read the caption that goes with the graph?

      Did you read this, jimmy?

      Monckton:”However, the official story-line (in standard units) is that the CO2 forcing from 1750 to 1958 was 0.7 W m–2, whereas that from 1958 to 2014 was greater by four-fifths, at 1.2 W m–2. Makes a bit of a mess of the claimed “linearity”, that.

      Secondly, the linear trend on the global temperature anomalies since 1880 is 0.87 Cº, (Fig. 5), in response to 1.9 W m–2 of CO2 forcing. A doubling of CO2 concentration would give 3.7 W m–2 of CO2 forcing, according to the current official method.”

      Did you look at figure 5., jimmy? Are we on the same page, jimmy?

      Doesn’t that look like Monckton did not rely on Lovejoy’s graph for his numbers? He said he used the current “official method.” It should be easy enough for you to prove he got that wrong. Cite it. He doesn’t have to accept Lovejoy’s numbers, jimmy. Can you justify Lovejoy’s numbers? Does Monckton have to accept that the Co2 temperature relationship is linear? Is it linear, jimmy?

      Lovejoy is a quack on the same level as Leqwandowsky.

    • Don M, if Monckton isn’t fitting a line to log CO2, he hasn’t shown that Lovejoy is wrong about that fit. Instead he draws his own temperature-time graph without checking how the CO2 change fits at all, and it is irrelevant to the paper. That is no way to criticize Lovejoy’s graph. Re-do it and show a different gradient, otherwise it stands.

    • George, (don’t tell jimmy dee cause we don’t want to upset him) but Lewandow…I mean Lovejoy, only worked wonders with his curve matching and statistical manipulations up to 2004. Did it take him 10 years to get past peer review?

    • Also, 75% of the CO2 has been added since 1950, so this is what weights the log CO2 gradient to the later period, where it is easily in excess of 2 C per doubling, even through the pause.

    • That is your most ridiculous claim yet, jimmy. Unless Monckton does it with Lovejoy’s bogus methods and the same data that comes from who knows where, he can’t refute that crude graph and the silly claims that go along with it. Get real, jimmy.

      Where did Lovejoy get his data, jimmy? Do you have a clue? Is the CO2 relationship with temperature linear? And shouldn’t the paper be Lovejoy 2004, jimmy? Dude missed a decade of the pause that is killing the cause.

    • Pierre-Normand

      “A doubling of CO2 concentration would give 3.7 W m–2 of CO2 forcing, according to the current official method.”
      So, in that case, a CO2 concentration increase from 290ppm(1880) to 373ppm(2004) is a 1.286 fractional increase. The base 2 log of this is 0.363. Multiply this by 3.7W/m^2 and you get 1.34W/m^2 forcing change. So, how did Monkton get 1.9W/m^2?

    • Pierre,

      “I do not pretend to understand this graph. For a start, it seems to show (albeit in exasperatingly non-standard units) that just about half the CO2 forcing since 1750 occurred before 1960, when CO2 concentration last stood at 316 ppmv. However, the official story-line (in standard units) is that the CO2 forcing from 1750 to 1958 was 0.7 W m–2, whereas that from 1958 to 2014 was greater by four-fifths, at 1.2 W m–2. Makes a bit of a mess of the claimed “linearity”, that.”

      Didn’t I post this already? More than once. Isn’t Monckton allowed to use data up to the present? Why stop at 2004?

    • Pierre-Normand

      “And shouldn’t the paper be Lovejoy 2004, jimmy? Dude missed a decade of the pause that is killing the cause.”
      It’s quite straightforward to update the graph to include the most recent decade. CO2 forcing still increases at the same rate while temperature stalls completely (let us assume). So, we add one more decade of CO2 forcing change to the previous 12.4 decades. The slope of the graph is reduced by 8%. If we assume that natural variability contributes nothing at all to the pause, and the pause merely reveals that our estimate of climate sensitivity was too high, then we can revise it down by just 8%. If the next El Nino brings the temperature curve back on 1880-2014 trend, then we can adjust climate sensitivity up again.

    • I don’t think you are allowed to change the slope, Pierre. You better ask, jimmy dee. Lovejoy said:”The linearity is impressive; the deviations from linearity are due to natural variability.” See what I mean. You can’t change sensitivity cause any deviations from the line is just natural variability interfering with the job of the knob. It will line up later. A little circular, but it works in the consensus CAGW climate science.

    • Pierre-Normand

      “I don’t think you are allowed to change the slope, Pierre.”
      My point is that even if you change the slope to reflect the recent slowdown in warming then you only revise climate sensitivity down 8%, and then only for so long as the pause lasts. But, for sure, it is more sensible to assume that climate sensitivity estimates ought not to vary up and down whenever some El Nino or La Nina episode, of large volcanoe, occur. We know how those events affect global surface temperatures quite independently of variations in stable sources of background forcing. Those episodes cause temporary deviations of the temperature curve from the trend and don’t have much of an effect on the century long broadly linear temperature/forcing relationship.

    • Pierre,

      Monckton:”the warming in response to a CO2 doubling would be just 1.7 Cº, not the 2.33 Cº suggested in Professor Lovejoy’s caption.”

      What number did you get?

      Would Lovejoy 2014 have passed your review?

    • Pierre-Normand

      Monckton:”the warming in response to a CO2 doubling would be just 1.7 Cº, not the 2.33 Cº suggested in Professor Lovejoy’s caption.”

      Don Monfort: “What number did you get?”

      As I showed above, the CO2 forcing change from 1880 to 2004 is 1.34W/m^2, and not 1.9W/m^2 as Monckton claims. The correct figure is deduced from the 3.7W/m^2 forcing per CO2 doubling that Monckton accepts. Once you correct this first calculation mistake by Monckton, then he should get about 2.4°C per CO2 doubling — close enough to Lovejoy’s figure. If you use the forcing from 1880 to 2014 instead, then you can lower this figure by 8% and you get 2.2° per CO2 doubling — still much closer to Lovejoy’s figure than to the figure Monckton obtains seemingly through pulling 1.9W/m^2 from his hat.

    • You didn’t say where you got your forcing number, petey. So, the 1.9w was pulled from Monckton’s hat. If that is your assumption, no need to discuss this any further. I wish I had not wasted my time on you. At least jimmy is entertaining.

    • Pierre-Normand

      I not only told you exactly where got my forcing change figure, I calculated it based on Monkton’s own assumptions: the CO2 concentrations in 1880 and 2004 (or 2014), the CO2 forcing of 3.7W/m^2 for one CO2 doubling and the logarithmic relationship. The calculation is straightforward and not in the least bit controversial. I’ve never seem Monckton ever question the 3.7W/m^2 figure and here he explicitly takes it in stride. But for some reason can’t get it right for the 1880 to 2004 (or 2014) period. Can’t you compute a simple logarithm either?

    • Pierre-Normand

      Since you missed it, here it is again: “So, in that case, a CO2 concentration increase from 290ppm(1880) to 373ppm(2004) is a 1.286 fractional increase. The base 2 log of this is 0.363. Multiply this by 3.7W/m^2 and you get 1.34W/m^2 forcing change. So, how did Monkton get 1.9W/m^2?”

    • I suggest you go over to the thread on WUWT and ask Monckton where he got his numbers. He said they are from the official source, which in his lingo is IPeCaC. If you think he is obligated to use the same numbers and methods as does Lovejoy and that he is not allowed to use data that goes up to the present, then you should mention that to the Lord. If you can show that the IPCC numbers are not what Monckton is using, then you got him. You can be a hero. Have at it, petey. But before you stick your neck out, first you should probably read what Monckton posted over there. It took me half the night to get you to see that Monckton used data up to 2014. That’s all I have for you, petey.

    • Pierre-Normand

      “I suggest you go over to the thread on WUWT and ask Monckton where he got his numbers.”
      I don’t need to do this because all the relevant numbers are out there. Those are the CO2 concentrations at the relevant dates and the 3.7W/m^2 for one CO2 doubling. The rest is basic arithmetic. The result is consistent with Lovejoy’s figure and inconsistent with Monckton’s 1.9W/m^2. If you can’t do this simple math, that’s just too bad. If you wish trust Monckton to have refuted Lovejoy merely on the basis of some vague allusion to some unspecified “IPCC official method”, and a number inconsistent with Monckton’s own assumptions, good for you.

    • Just because my ancestors came from Normandy (Simon de Montfort), I will show it to you one more time, petey:

      “However, the official story-line (in standard units) is that the CO2 forcing from 1750 to 1958 was 0.7 W m–2, whereas that from 1958 to 2014 was greater by four-fifths, at 1.2 W m–2. Makes a bit of a mess of the claimed “linearity”, that.

      Secondly, the linear trend on the global temperature anomalies since 1880 is 0.87 Cº, (Fig. 5), in response to 1.9 W m–2 of CO2 forcing. A doubling of CO2 concentration would give 3.7 W m–2 of CO2 forcing, according to the current official method.”

      Read it this time, please. Monckton claims that the official story-line is that from 1750 to 1958 the CO2 forcing was .7W sqm. Are you with me so far, petey? From 1958 to 2014 (that’s not 2004, but the year we are in now petey, 2014) the forcing was 1.2W sqm. Add those two numbers together and you get 1.9W sqm, petey. Now , if you can find an analysis from the IPCC that contradicts those numbers, you can be a hero. Nobody has challenged the Lord on his 1.9W story, so you would be the first, if you have the time to do your own research. I am not going to find any more numbers for you. Because you won’t read and you won’t pay attention. You might start making your case by ASKING MONCKTON where he got the numbers.

    • Pierre-Normand

      “Read it this time, please. Monckton claims that the official story-line is that from 1750 to 1958 the CO2 forcing was .7W sqm. Are you with me so far, petey?”

      Sure, but then he moves on to this:

      “Secondly, the linear trend on the global temperature anomalies since 1880 is 0.87 Cº, (Fig. 5), in response to 1.9 W m–2 of CO2 forcing. A doubling of CO2 concentration would give 3.7 W m–2 of CO2 forcing, according to the current official method.”

      So, if we are going to compare the evolution of the temperature anomaly since 1880 until 2004 to the forcing change over that period, then we had better look at the forcing change since 1880, and not since 1750. Lovejoy is comparing temperatures from 1880 to 2004 to CO2 forcing change from 1880 to 2004. Monckton is all over the place, maybe because he forgot how to compute the forcing values as a function of CO2 concentration on his own. Either that or he didn’t wish to compute them but rather wished to mislead his readers with irrelevant forcing figures.

    • OK, petey. I knew you wouldn’t look for it. I googled it, petey-total forcing from CO2 since 1750. I spent about four minutes and this is the second link I looked at:

      http://cdiac.ornl.gov/pns/current_ghg.html

      Can you admit that 1.88 is very close to 1.9, petey?
      Now stop being silly.

    • I guess that petey lawyered up. He ain’t going to incriminate himself any further. Jimmy dee got wise and left the building long ago. Characters. You gotta love em.

    • Pierre-Normand

      Since *1880*, Don Monfort. The relevant period of warming begins in 1880. The forcing value since 1750 is relevant to the temperature change since 1750, it isn’t relevant to the temperature change since *1880*. You’re just repeating things which I acknowledged but pointed out are irrelevant. Just repeating them doesn’t make them relevant. We are looking at the 1880-2004 period. So the relevant forcing change is from 1880-2004. If you wish to the last 10 years (from 2004 to 2014) this will just reduce the temp/delta_forcing ratio by 8% at most (assuming zero warming since 2004). But picking up 1750 as the forcing reference just is a misleading slight of hand. There is no justification for it and Monckton provides none.

    • Petey is back. I showed you where Moncton got his numbers. You will have to ask him why he is using those numbers, instead or just reproducing Lovejoy’s methods and data. What makes 1880 to 2004 so special? Isn’t the relevant period more like 1950 to 2014? Go yammer at Monckton, for a while. Are you afraid of him?

    • Pierre-Normand

      “Petey is back. I showed you where Moncton got his numbers. You will have to ask him why he is using those numbers, instead or just reproducing Lovejoy’s methods and data.”

      Monckton is free to choose whatever reference period over which forcing and temperature data both are available, provided it’s long enough. What he can’t do is compare the slope of the temperature trend over some period to the forcing change over a different period. If you can’t understand that then there is no use my going butting heads with him at WUWT just in case there might be some unfathomable reason from him to be comparing apples and oranges.

    • You are amazing, petey. I am not related to Monckton. He ain’t my dad. But you keep badgereing me to explain where Monckton got his numbers. I repeatedly showed you just what he said about that. You never bothered to go to WUWT and read the thing that we have been talking about, or to ask questions or to offer criticisms. You don’t have a clue about the context of the storyline. I can’t say that you’ve lost the plot, because you never had it.

      I have never said that all or any particular part of Monckton’s criticism of Lovejoy’s crap is well supported. I quoted time after time what he said about it. I don’t know and never claimed to know exactly what calculations he made using the “official methods”, as he is kind of vague on that and I am banned from WUWT for smacking willis , so I can’t ask questions on that thread. But I was smart enough and industrious enough to find out and confirm where the 1.9M came from. That puts me ahead of you, petey. And you never thanked me for helping you. Now you are on your own.

    • Monckton did not compute the gradient with log CO2, which is the appropriate way to look at sensitivity. As far as relevance to Lovejoy goes, Monckton’s method of looking at other graphs and criticizing them instead is a fail.
      For more recent end dates, you can do the computation on the data from 1960-2013 and get a gradient still easily above 2 C per doubling (317 ppm to 396 ppm, 0.7 C rise from linear trend fit).

    • The ducks coulda done it:
      “Dr. Strangelove says:
      April 24, 2014 at 7:07 pm

      Lovejoy’s 2.33 C per CO2 doubling is just wishful thinking. Look at Figure 4. The y-axis is temperature change. It is independent of the x-axis. We can put any variable in the x-axis. Example, let’s put duck population in the x-axis. If duck population is increasing over time, we can find the regression line and the slope is defined as A increase in temperature per B increase in duck population (dy/dx). Then we can blame ducks are responsible for global warming.

      Any variable that increases over time will do. We can put obesity, cancer incidence, etc., etc. and blame fat people for global warming. This is the folly of using correlation without common sense. Physics support only 1.1 C per CO2 doubling without feedbacks. Greater or less than that is correlation and conjecture.”

    • William Briggs-Statistician to the Stars

      http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=8061

      In part:
      “Lovejoy Update: To show you how low climatological discourse has sunk, in the new paper in Climate Dynamics Shaun Lovejoy (a name which we are now entitled to doubt) wrote out a trivially simple model of global temperature change and after which inserted the parenthetical words “skeptics may be assured that this hypothesis will be tested and indeed quantified in the following analysis”. In published comments he also fixated on the word “deniers.” If there is anybody left who says climate science is no different than politics, raise his hand. Anybody? Anybody?

      His model, which is frankly absurd, is to say the change in global temperatures is a straight linear combination of the change in “anthropogenic contributions” to temperature plus the change in “natural variability” of temperature plus the change in “measurement error” of temperature. (Hilariously, he claims measurement error is of the order +/- 0.03 degrees Celsius; yes, three-hundredths of a degree: I despair, I despair.)

      His conclusion is to “reject”, at the gosh-oh-gee level of 99.9%, that the change of “anthropogenic contributions” to temperature is 0.

      Can you see it? The gross error, I mean. His model assumes the changes in “anthropogenic contributions” to temperature and then he had to supply those changes via the data he used (fossil fuel use was implanted as a proxy for actual temperature change; I weep, I weep). Was there thus any chance of rejecting the data he added as “non-significant”?

      Is there any proof that his model is a useful representation of the actual atmosphere? None at all. But, hey, I may be wrong. I therefore challenge Lovejoy to use his model to predict future temperatures. If it’s any good, it will be able to skillfully do so. I’m willing to bet good money it can’t. “

    • Briggs is another one that thinks forcing from CO2 can’t even remotely possibly be represented by log CO2. This is just plain denial of radiative physics. There is no other way to phrase it.

    • jimmy dee,-Strawman Creator to the Stars

      I don’t see that in the Brigg’s criticism of Lovejoy to which I graciously provided a link for your perusal. Why don’t you read it all first, jimmy? Follow the link, jimmy! It doesn’t say anything about ice ages, either.

    • Judith referred to Briggs some days ago. I read it then, and it was contentless rhetoric by someone else who appears very upset by Lovejoy’s paper. He is like Monckton in being loud but shallow. He is no McIntyre. Why do you put up with people like him who don’t provide strong arguments? You need to put his feet to the fire and ask for more details than what he posts. These skeptics need to up their game, or they get left flailing in the wake like this.

    • — Jim D | April 25, 2014 at 12:14 am |

      Judith referred to Briggs some days ago. I read it then, and it was contentless rhetoric by someone else who appears very upset by Lovejoy’s paper. He is like Monckton in being loud but shallow. He is no McIntyre. Why do you put up with people like him who don’t provide strong arguments?–

      Well since you appear incapable, why not ask McIntyre to argue for you?
      Last time I checked McIntyre seems to more or less believe in this global warming religious stuff.

    • Can you see it, jimmy dee?

      “Can you see it? The gross error, I mean. His model assumes the changes in “anthropogenic contributions” to temperature and then he had to supply those changes via the data he used (fossil fuel use was implanted as a proxy for actual temperature change; I weep, I weep). Was there thus any chance of rejecting the data he added as “non-significant”?”

      Lovejoy could have assumed that changes in duck populations done it, jimmy. That would have worked too. Do you deny that the ducks could have done it, jimmy?

      You don’t have an specific bones to pick with Briggs actual criticism, you had to roll out that total BS about denial of radiative physics. That is disingenuous, jimmy. You are not fooling anybody. End of story.

  26. I find it refreshing that Dyson nowhere brings up the current obsession with climate change, possibly because we do not know yet if the theory is a blunder.

    He does, however, say this:

    “Another cause of catastrophic blunders is religion.”

  27. My understanding of a FACT is pretty narrow.

    To me a FACT is a temperature observation at a particular place, on a particular date at a particular time, taken with a particular instrument.

    Now, when we come along and “adjust” that temperature later, we are leaving FACTS behind and moving on to things based on inference and theory, subject to verification and modification.

    Say we adjust the temperature for time of day (TOD). The adjusted temperature is not a FACT. It is output from a model based on certain assumptions.

    A global mean temperature is also not a fact – but the output of a model based on certain assumptions.

    That is why the number can change when we add in an additional area (like the arctic).

    So I agree with Dr. Curry, that there are very few facts in the climate debate.

    Mostly actual measurements (temperature, humidity, absorption wavelength of CO2, etc.).

    Everything else is built on models, built on models, several layers deep, and is subject to verification and is ever evolving.

    Even the temperature series we discuss here – GISS, Hadcru, UAH and RSS are not really FACTS – but instead are really models built on different instruments and different assumptions.

    That is why we have four of them, and other people come along and make different assumptions and provide different output temperature series (like BEST and Cowtan). They are not really FACTS, but are also models built on assumptions and subject to verification and modification.

    • The role of theories is to connect apparently disparate facts. For example planets orbiting the sun and apples falling to earth are covered by the single theory of gravity. From the increase in CO2, warming was first expected by Arrhenius, and then observed by Callendar and successors with increasing refinement. Disparate facts connected by the theory were observed as evidence of confirmation. The theory pre-existed these facts and predicted them.

    • I would classify a model that takes observational data and analysis in a deterministic and repeatable way to “fact”. The output of the model only changes when the input data changes. So the temperature series are all “facts” to me. The GCMs are predictive models and and thus theories to me.

      In my field – the model that is used to report our financials on a large software project represents facts. The cost model I built to estimate that software project was theory.

    • RobertInAz:

      If the temperature series are all “facts”, then why can a later scientist “adjust” the series. The various temperature series seem to have all been adjusted multiple times. Facts cannot be adjusted.

    • RickA

      I have asked that question and Mosh provided the following answer. I am not saying I agree with it, just relaying his comment; Tonyb
      — ——
      “Come on Mosh

      We need you to turn up and explain again how it is OK to change past temperatures by using an algorithm.”

      His reply;
      It’s pretty simple.

      1. You can never avoid using algorithms or theories. All thought rests on assumptions.
      2. All you have are records. Records require interpretation. they do not speak for themselves
      example: You have a written record that claims the temperature was -198C.
      You check other records and find that other records show -19.8C
      You apply an algorithm that assumes the -198C was an error with the decimal shifted.
      3. You do the best job you can in QA and document what you do.

      basically, no record can be taken at face value. A good skeptic questions everything.
      A bad skeptic puts his trust in things that are demonstrably wrong because he likes the answer.

      Here is another fact

      As we recover more and more records.. as we digitize old records from south america and africa, and canada, we find that the past was colder than Hansen and Jones though it was.
      Go figure. more data, better answers. Keeping an open mind and a skeptical mind.. we find less wrong answers.

    • RickA | April 21, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
      RobertInAz: “If the temperature series are all “facts”, then why can a later scientist “adjust” the series.”

      There is a difference between a fact and “truth”. The reading of an instrument at a time in place of a physical quantity has already created an estimate of that quantity. That estimate is then recorded, sometimes by hand. You can see where this is going. So while I might disagree with the conclusions of people interpreting the data I am very grateful for the dedicated work of thousands of scientists and supporting staff that attempts to gather and synthesize the best observational evidence possible.

      On point to your question and stretching my analogy: on software projects we sometimes have to change the submitted time-cards to correct errors. The current report is now different. The “truth” did not change. How we recorded it did.

    • “change the submitted time-cards to correct errors”

      lol

      I doubt you have third-parties coming in several years later and changing people’s time-cards that are years old to achieve “better results”.

      Andrew

    • George Turner

      Rick, the temperature record has to be adjusted because the people who actually recorded the temperature as displayed by their thermometer didn’t realize how much money would one day be at stake, so they stupidly wrote down what the thermometer said instead of what it should have said. So we adjust, at least to the point where we could cause period crop failures that might kill off some of our great grandparents at a young age, causing a temporal paradox of unknown magnitude.

      Oddly, the temperature data that’s badly contaminated with what the observer wanted to see is from the Soviet Union, where northern towns had their fuel alloted based on the severity of their weather reports. So the Soviet era was cold. The post-Soviet era, not so much, and that area is a rather large portion of the land surface temperature record.

    • ClimateReason:

      Thanks for passing that post along.

      I don’t have any problem with the procedure Mosher outlined. It is just that I don’t agree that what comes out the other end is a FACT. One could just as easily discard the outliers, and that would produce a DIFFERENT series, which could just as easily be supported.

      Different time series, based on different assumptions and procedures automatically means the output is not a FACT. Neither is either True or False, Correct or Incorrect – just different than the original, based on different rules and assumptions.

      To me, that is the real reason that all of these adjusted series are not FACTS – but models. That is why the series can be adjusted over and over again – as different assumptions are made.

      No doubt someday, some scientist will re-look at all the raw data and the assumptions made and the past data be changed again.

      Perhaps the homogenization radius will be tightened up – who knows – but a DIFFERENT series will pop out the other end, based on its own assumptions and justifications. The modified temperature values are not facts, but adjusted facts.

      The same is true for satellite data. When adjustments are made for a slowly falling satellite or a slowly failing instrument – what comes out are adjusted data. Then when multiple satellites data sets are stitched together, more assumptions are made, and you end up with an adjusted time series of temperatures – but each measurement is not a FACT (because it has been adjusted).

      What would be interesting would be to test the accuracy of homogenization by placing identical instruments at all of the locations used to homogenize, and take data for a long period of time, and test using the new data versus the homogenized old, to see how accurate these homogenization procedures really are. However, I doubt anybody is doing that.

    • Bad Andrew | April 21, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
      “I doubt you have third-parties coming in several years later and changing people’s time-cards that are years old to achieve “better results””

      I’ll admit the possibility that I stretched my analogy to the breaking point – bad me :-(

      On the other hand, software estimating and the classification of software development work is an ongoing research topic. It is very possible that if our cost data were available to a researcher in the future, then the buckets might be reclassified. Similarly, if I were to use that cost data in a future estimate, I would likely adjust it to reflect improved tools and techniques.

      I see a lot of posts about adjustments making the past cooler. Maybe there is something nefarious going on. I don’t really care. The action is really what is happening now. Will warming accelerate, stay static or will cooling commence?

    • RobertInAZ:

      So, if well after your project was finished, some genius decided to reweight the work of teams based on different parts of the country (some sort of efficiency argument – for example) – and based on this the cost per person hour for the total project changed, you would say that was still the “truth”?

      I think what you are saying is that the truth is in their somewhere, but we how have two different approximations of the truth – and neither is correct.

      Someone else could come up with a third approximation, and a fourth – each being different.

      Maybe the time cards could be changed based on the sex of the worker, or the race of the worker, or the age of the worker – I am sure there are many ways the data could be “adjusted”. Some adjustments you might agree with and some you might not.

      The point is that once you start down the road of adjusting the data on the timecards (the FACTS), you can dream up an infinite number of different sets of adjusted data based on whatever adjustments you want to make.

    • Steven Mosher

      “To me a FACT is a temperature observation at a particular place, on a particular date at a particular time, taken with a particular instrument.”

      When you interpret a the numbers on a thermometer as a temperature
      you cannot avoid using a theory to do so.

      Let us take a LIG thermometer.
      An observer views it. He records the number 32 and writes F behind it.
      what do you know? you know he wrote down the number 32. You do not
      know that 32 was actually the number on the thermometer.
      So you apply an assumption. A theory that says Observers record numbers accurately” you can test this theory. you’ll find that its not always true.
      Next, you decide to interpret this number as a temperature. Why?
      well because you think thermometers record temeperature. But an LIG does
      not. It records the expansion of liquid in a tube.
      That device has a theory of operation.
      The device is calibrated, to zero, the freezing point of water.
      We assume the calibrating doesnt drift.
      Next we assume that the freezing point of water doesnt change. We have a theory of the universe that tells us certain physical properties are true for all times and places. Of course we only know this is true for the past. We trustthe freezing point of water wont change tommorrow. we trust that it doesnt change when we are not looking. So the liquid expands and we have a theory that tells us that this is related to the temperature. So we infer from the length of expansion back to temperature. In constructing the thermometer we make marks at equal distances. This assume that expansion is linear with respect to temperature.. well thats not exactly true for all temperatures, but true enough to get the job done.

      The mistake is thinking that you have a rule for separating fact from theory
      thinking that there is such a thing as a theory-free fact or a fact that doenst rely on some assumptions.

      In practical terms we treat some things as “facts”. why do we treat a thermometer reading as a fact when it relies on so many assumptions and theories? well, because if you dont treat it as a fact, if you dont treat it as something that can be questioned, then you’ll never get anything done.
      we call things “facts” to end discussion and debate and get things done.
      But epistemically facts and theories differ in degree not in kind

      Facts and theories are distinguished on a pragmatic basis. We choose not to question facts because they rely on theories that are just too hard to replace. All measurement of “fact” relies on a theory that standards exist and that standards dont change over time. That theory is very very very useful. Its hard to do anything without that theory of how the world works.

    • Steven Mosher

      edit

      ‘if you dont treat it as something that can be questioned, then you’ll never get anything done.

      “if you dont treat it as something that cannot be questioned, then you’ll never get anything done.”

    • Steven Mosher –

      “The mistake is thinking that you have a rule for separating fact from theory thinking that there is such a thing as a theory-free fact or a fact that doenst rely on some assumptions.

      “Facts and theories are distinguished on a pragmatic basis. We choose not to question facts because they rely on theories that are just too hard to replace. All measurement of “fact” relies on a theory that standards exist and that standards dont change over time. That theory is very very very useful. Its hard to do anything without that theory of how the world works.”

      All of that [edited] works pretty well for me. I’d been thinking about what is a fact, how facts are used, and linguistic issues with use of the term ‘fact’. Then I wandered over here to JC’s and stumbled on this particular thread–how timely, glad Rick raised the topic. I see a fact as a type of observation and that entails conditions, i.e., setup, context. An additional attachment to a fact is presumably some measure of validation, e.g., multiple independent observations–more conditions. So a simple fact is a very structured and composite beast, that when used is treated as a simple beast. Or using a many-body analogy a fact is dressed reality.

      These days I tend to cringe when I see someone delineate and use a ‘fact’ at a key spot in an argument being presented. The word ‘fact’ traffics in the absolute but in practice ‘fact’ is used sloppily often being conflated with other concepts such as belief, observation, or theory[in a composite sense].

      —–
      Maybe in some way the ‘fact’ as defined in prolog is a reasonable starting analogy:

      Both facts and theories are clauses.
      A fact is a simple clause without a head (condition).

      Thus when we use a fact in prolog we know that its extent is restricted to the program and does not necessarily reflect reality. Emptor caveat.

    • Steven Mosher says:

      “When you interpret a the numbers on a thermometer as a temperature
      you cannot avoid using a theory to do so.”

      When you interpret the numbers on a thermometer you cannot avoid measurement uncertainty. That is why every proper measurement is accompanied by its uncertainty. However, the measurement, with its uncertainty is still a FACT.

      There is no such thing as a measurement or observation which has zero uncertainty. But those measurements and observations are still FACTS.

      As soon as we start “adjusting” measurements we convert them from FACTS to something else – model output – which are not FACTS.

      Climate sensitivity is accompanied by a range. However, don’t mistake this range for a measurement uncertainty. As Jim Cripwell often says (and he is correct), climate sensitivity is not a measured quantity (yet). So the various theories of what climate sensitivity is or how it is constrained to lie between two values are not FACTS, but hypothesis, which have not yet been experimentally validated.

      I for one, look forward to the day when we hit 560 ppm of CO2, so we can compute the mean global temperature, subtract the mean global temperature from when we were at 280 ppm and come up with what will be as close as we can get to an ACTUAL MEASUREMENT of transient climate response.

      True – this measurement will not tell the story of JUSTchanging CO2 – as every other variable is also changing. Still it will be better than all the models and theories.

      My guess is it comes in at 1.2C or so.

      We will see.

    • Don’t you think you are being a bit arrogant, in assigning homework to Freeman Dyson?

    • Do you have any reason to believe that Dr. Dyson has not already read that stuff, Steven?

    • Steven Mosher

      Arrogant in assigning homework? No. But anyone today who wants to have a serious discussion about the difference ( if any) between fact and theory, ought to cite some primary literature or show that they have looked at the matter with some curiousity.

      @Don

      do I have any reason to believe he has not read it. Yes.
      Do I have proof? No.
      Further if he has read it, he needs to re read it and attempt to understand it.

      Don’t fret I give everyone the same reading list. This is a game that all academics play. its called “have you read”

      You see at some point in discussions people always try to appeal to a foundation. A thing or principle which cannot be questioned.
      The dream of knowledge is that we can identify this foundation and build upon it and in the end have nothing but truths and all the truths. Godel crushed that dream. In this case they are trying to build a foundation on the Fact/Theory distinction. Problem: that foundation has cracks and bigger problem the dream of knowledge is broken.

    • Steven, instead of suggesting that Dr. Dyson read, or re-read, those books to gain the understanding you wish him to gain, why don’t you just write to Dr. Dyson and tell him what understanding he is supposed to get from those books? He’s old and he might not get it without help from one who has the understanding down pat:)

    • Steven Mosher

      Don,
      you cannot give understanding to someone.
      I learn this every time I try to give some to you.
      So, Dyson is on his own.
      I will pray for him

    • Pray for the dream of knowledge, and as ye ask, so shall it be given.
      =========

    • Mosher is stuck in philosophy 101. “How do we really know anything?”

      Most of us moved on from that kind of impediment to thought in our teens. But some like to keep it handy for muddying the waters. You see, CAGW is on really shaky ground on the most relevant aspect of the debate for the public – the divergence between the theory, represented in the models, and their claimed “facts” of the reported, measured temperature series.

      Now I would agree that these are not “facts,” at least to the extent of the precision and accuracy claimed. The problem is that it is the CAGW advocates who want to call their theories and incomplete, inaccurate data “facts.”

      So what’s a good obscurantist to do?

      ” But anyone today who wants to have a serious discussion about the difference ( if any) between fact and theory…”

      If any.

      Let me re-phrase, Anyone today incapable of understanding there is a fundamental difference between fact and theory, is incapable of engaging in a serious discussion at all. But he can obscure the sh*t out of one.

      The funny thing is that Mosher’s comments make it clear that he agrees with Dr. Curry’s statement in the primary post:

      “…there are very few facts in all this, and that most of what passes for facts in the public debate on climate change is: inference from incomplete, inadequate and ambiguous observations; climate models that have been demonstrated not to be useful for most of the applications that they are used for; and theories and hypotheses that are competing with alternative theories and hypotheses.”

      But he can’t come out and say so, because that would undermine the “consensus.” So instead we get his attempt at marketing ju jitsu to change the biggest flaw in his movement, into a feature.

      Let me put it in a non-obscurantist fashion:

      Much of what the consensus argues as “facts” is indistinguishable from theory, because that is all it is.

      But there are actual facts in the world, and the distinction between them, and the factoids of “climate science” is the real debate. And the one Mosher tries so hard to obscure.

    • Steven Mosher

      Pray that you may some day be half as intelligent and 10% as wise as Dyson, if you keep trying.

      (You’re a bright enough guy, but you still have a long way to go, IMO.)

      Max

    • Then must know that it was a waste of your time to post your suggested reading list. Both Dyson and I will ignore it. Pray for me too.

    • how do you think that hardware/software compromises in our evolution of vision and visual processing is linked to analysis?

  28. I recently finished reading Michael Mann’s “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars” and was dissatisfied with the positions and justifications taken by Prof. Mann. It was just this dissatisfaction which caused me to find this blog. Thank you, Professor Curry, for your objective insights into climate change and the politicization of the debate.

    • Mann has that effect on a lot of people. That’s why it is so curious that the climate science establishment feels compelled to defend and prop up that hack. They should have cut him loose, long ago.

  29. Antonio (AKA "Un físico")

    “Facts” in the climate change debate:
    – The value of climate sensitivity is between +1.5 and +4.5 K per doubling CO2 concentration.
    – Humans are the main responsible of climate change.
    – Models predict (well, in fact the word IPCC uses is, “project”) that global temperature (by the year 2100 with respect to the mean temperatures between years 1850 to 1900) would grow 1.5 K.
    These “facts” are easily refuted by applying science in an appropriate way, as I did in my pdf: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B4r_7eooq1u2TWRnRVhwSnNLc0k
    IPCC responsibles (Pachauri, Stocker, etc.) must either justify their claimed “facts” scientifically or make public rectification.

  30. Wrong theories are not an impediment to the progress of science. They are a central part of the struggle. – Freeman Dyson

    That is most likely true with honest, skeptical, science.

    When you have Consensus, wrong theories are a major impediment! But, then, you no longer have science.

  31. Willis Eschenbach

    A fan of *MORE* discourse | April 21, 2014 at 11:30 am | Reply

    Judith Curry asks

    “[Which] other good or bad losers that you can think of in climate science?”

    This question has four categories. May we have the envelopes, please!

    • Good/Winner James Hansen/NASA (outstanding science/outstanding collegiality/outstanding prediction-record; sustained throughout three decades)

    Seriously? Dude, you need eyeglasses.

    Hansen predicted that the water would be over the New York roadways by 2040 … perhaps you could tell us how that’s going. Or you could check predictedhere …

    Then there are his “A, B, and C” predictions from 1988 … where the prediction he said was “business as usual” is nothing at all like what happened.

    Can’t forget his 1986 prediction, which was of 2° warming by 2006 … care to tell us how well that prediction panned out?

    And of course, his unending string of failed El Nino predictions

    And we can’t forget this howler, where he mistakes weather for climate:

    Here’s Hansen in 2008 on a trip to Britain: “The recent warm winters that Britain has experienced are a sign that the climate is changing.” Of course, obeying the Gore effect, that was followed by two very cold winters, including the extremely cold 2009-10 winter, the coldest in a century … can we take that as a sign the climate is not changing? Oh, wait, the climate has always been changing …

    What else … oh, yeah, he used his whiz-bang model to predict that the southeastern US would warm strongly in the last two decades or so … fail. Colossal fail.

    In fact, I’m hard pressed to find a prediction of his that did come true … hey, you might be able to dig up one or two, but compared to that string of ludicrous failed predictions, sorry, that don’t mean much. Even a blind hog will find an acorn once in a while …

    So I fear that your claim that Hansen has an “outstanding prediction-record; sustained throughout three decades” is as much of a pathetic joke as your claim about his “outstanding collegiality”. This is a man who called for trials for climate skeptics on the pathetically specious grounds of “high crimes against humanity” … meanwhile, Hansen’s policies are injuring and killing the poor all over the planet. There’s a crime in there, but it’s not the skeptics …

    Perhaps calling for trials for people you have a scientific disagreement with passes for “outstanding collegiality” on your planet. I call it dangerous insanity, and not collegial in the slightest.

    w.

    • You linked to an article that claims “Earth has COOLED since Hansen’s Dire Climate Warning in 1988”

      Anyone with an elementary understanding of global temperature data and statistics should realize that statement to be bogus. Anyone realizing the statement to be bogus should not link to it!

      “Hansen predicted that the water would be over the New York roadways by 2040”

      They were during Superstorm Sandy.

      “Then there are his “A, B, and C” predictions from 1988 … where the prediction he said was “business as usual” is nothing at all like what happened”

      You need to read up on emissions data to understand this. If you go and research that you’ll find that we cut greenhouse gas emissions through cutting CFCs and also the climb in methane (CH4) reduced. So business as usual did not happen.

      “Can’t forget his 1986 prediction, which was of 2° warming by 2006”

      Likely a typo by the journalist. If you research the temperature predictions Hansen made around that time you will realize 2C by 2006 is nothing like what he was predicting.

      “Here’s Hansen in 2008 on a trip to Britain: “The recent warm winters that Britain has experienced are a sign that the climate is changing.”

      Hansen is correct. Go and visit the British Met Office (the UK weather service) and dive into their data. You will find that UK winters have been getting warmer as part of climate change. This doesn’t mean every winter will be warm, but that the longterm trend is for warmer winters.

      A longterm warming trend will of course mean warm winters will start happening! and those will be a sign of that very trend!

      “Of course, obeying the Gore effect, that was followed by two very cold winters, including the extremely cold 2009-10 winter, the coldest in a century”

      Two winters are weather not climate. You need to look at the overall trend, which is warming, to see the direction climate is heading.

      On the matter of predictions, Hansen’s biggest cause to fame has to be his global warming predictions made in the late 80s. He was the only person to predict warming in the late 20th century AFAIK. And he got the order of magnitude – tenths of degrees C bang on – despite global temperature records being preliminary at that time (weren’t even ocean records!).

      In contrast, if you research the history a little, you will find climate skeptics were arguing against warming all the way up to 2003, arguing that it wasn’t happening because some particular satellites didn’t show it. Those satellites were found in error. You can verify this by searching for “UAH satellite record history”

    • George Turner

      If you have to cite peak hurricane storm surges or Asian tsunamis as confirmations of past predictions of modern sea-levels, you’ve already lost.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Your exhibition of systematic cherry-picking and quibbling associated to science-denying cognition is appreciated, Willis Eschenbach!

      That you are yourself entirely unconscious of these characteristic practices of climate-change denialism, does not render them less evident to your fellow citizens.

      Needless to say, outside the willfully oblivious “bubble” of the denial-sphere, over the past thirty years (and more), rational citizens have formed a distinctly favorable opinion of James Hansen’s scientific work, isn’t that correct, Climate Etc readers?

      Perhaps in the years and decades to come, you will yourself acquire some conscious understanding of these considerations, Willis Eschenbach!

      \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • lolwot

      Hansen’s 1988 prediction was a colossal flop. Warming proceeded according to his Case C (no further GHG emissions after 2000) and at around half the rate in his Case A (unabated human GHG emissions at the rate which actually occurred).

      Reason: his model used a 2xCO2 TCR that was exaggerated by a factor of two.

      I’ll let Willis answer your other false claims, but thought I’d straighten you out on that one.

      Max

    • lolwot

      If you go and research that you’ll find that we cut greenhouse gas emissions through cutting CFCs and also the climb in methane (CH4) reduced. So business as usual did not happen.

      No, lolwot. I did “research” it – and you are wrong.

      Hansen specifically specified that

      Scenario A assumes that growth rates of trace gas emissions typical of the 1970s and 1980s will continue indefinitely; the assumed annual growth rate averages about 1.5% of current emissions, so that the net greenhouse forcing increases exponentially.

      Roughly two-thirds of the total anthropogenic greenhouse forcing came from CO2.

      CDIAC data tell us that the exponential rate of increase of CO2 emissions was 1.86% from 1988 to 2013. So this is well above the growth rates “typical of the 1970s and 1980s”.

      Anthropogenic methane represents around half of the total methane emission, and this represents around one fourth the forcing from CO2. So at the slightly slower rate of increase after 1990, this has only a very minor impact on the total greenhouse forcing.

      CFCs were reduced dramatically, but these only represent around one-tenth of the total GH forcing, so this does not make much difference, either.

      Nitrogen oxides, the other GH component, increased at the same rate as CO2.

      So the net overall increase in GHG emissions was slightly higher than the rates “typical of the 1970s and 1980s” assumed by Hansen.
      Yet the actual observed warming was half of the amount forecast by Hansen in 1988.

      Just to set the record straight, lolwot.

      Max

    • Fanny

      Thanks for validating Willis Eschenbach’s claims with your incoherent rant.

      Max

    • Wow, FAN got trashed on that one, eh?

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      manacker froths  “FOMD, thanks for  validating  invalidating Willis Eschenbach’s claims

      Denialist delusions by Willis and manacker, verifiable analysis by FOMD

      \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • Iolwot

      your 3.52

      you are quite right that winters have been getting warmer due to climate change.

      We can clearly see the 330 year old trend from the Met Office figures you quoted

      GISS and Hadley are merely staging posts demonstrating centuries long temperature changes, they are not the starting post of these changes.

      However, due to the natural variability that Phil Jones acknowledged some years ago was greater than had previously been believed, many of the warmest winters occurred centuries ago, so not all the records are held by recent winters.

      tonyb

    • “Roughly two-thirds of the total anthropogenic greenhouse forcing came from CO2.”

      Lets not guess with “roughly” etc.

      As I said if you go and take a look at the greenhouse gas data and check out the forcings you will find emission pathway was not business as usual. The CFC and methane drops took a huge bite out of that.

  32. Pierre-Normand

    What Dyson means to distinguish, it seems to me, are propositions, on the one side, and hypotheses and theories, on the other. Facts can’t be false, by definition. Saying of a proposition (scientific or otherwise) that it is factual is equivalent to saying that it is true. Propositions or statements that express them can be true or false. Saying of a fact that it is false seems to be a category error. It is tantamount to saying that a truth can be false.

    The way Dyson explains his distinction also seems to entail a rather radical form of skepticism, possibly derived from a crude empiricism. This skepticism often results from stressing falsificationism over fallibilism — so it may be a legacy from Popper. If often occurs that our statements, and the propositions that we hold to be true, turn out to be false (or that our theories are incorrect). That doesn’t entail that there couldn’t have been a fact of the matter, to begin with, that we *could* have had knowledge of (had we not been mislead by some faulty theory, say). To say that what was a fact now has become a “false fact” makes this very possibility unintelligible and opens the door to a form of radical skepticism. It seems better to suggest that our theories and hypotheses are produced from our *fallible* abilities to know the world than to say that the exclusive aim of science of to falsify them. It is essential for science that it be self-critical but that isn’t it’s fundamental aim. It’s just an essential safeguard. Self-conscious recognition of our fallibility (and the fallibility of science) suffices for this.

    The aims of science are positive: e.g. to increase knowledge and foster understanding. It ought not to be its aim to promote old contentious philosophical theses about the alleged unknowability of the world.

  33. “Wrong theories are not an impediment to the progress of science. They are a central part of the struggle. ”

    Unless we are FORCED to worship them and not allowed to dissent as we are with Big Bang, Evolution, AGW, cigarette smoking CAUSES cancer…

    • So, the more wrong theories the more robust the progress? This sounds like one of those feel good phrases that mean everything and nothing.
      ===================

  34. I would like to remind the CE denizens that the discussion not too many years ago was all about global temperature and “deniers” were those who doubted the planet was warming or who doubted anthropogenic CO2 was a significant cause of that warming. Now, the alarmists have shifted from warming to climate change and the focus is no longer on temperature but on the global energy budget.

    Now the global temperature record is much better than the global energy content record. One might argue it is orders of magnitude better (I dunno). So with the obvious failure of their global warming “facts” the alarmists have nominated a new theory as “fact” (4000 Hiroshimas a day or some such nonsense) that is almost impossible to falsify in our lifetimes.

  35. Do we leave it to Einstein to correct Einstein’s blunders. I think not. Do we leave it to Hansen to correct his theoretical errors? Ditto. I submit that the responsibility and mea culpas lie with the Skeptics – the Currys, the Lindzens, the Spencers et al. for implicit acceptance of Hansen’s model. Rather than analyzing the elements of Hansen theory responsible for catastrophic consequences, they fret about uncertainty, the tasseography of temperature and historical records, correlations of poorly measured and ill-defined parameters, etc.

    For many past bloggers here, it’s been evident that convection, which offers a parallel path bypassing GHG effects, is not described by restricting lapse rates to some magical pseudo-adiabatic value and calling it an “Adjustment”. Imagine building a box in the lab 10cm high and setting the upper surface 1 degree warmer than the bottom. The temperature gradient is going to be at least 10,000 K/Km, the physical consequences imperceptible. Perhaps there is some critical distance scale involved? Fine, show me!

    I’ve suggested a thermodynamic alternative focusing on thermal dissipation. A block of inhomogeneous composition, i.e. nonlinear properties, is sandwiched between thermal reservoirs at 200K and 300K. A flux of 100W is measured. What is the rate of thermal dissipation? Can you see how this might be related to the troposphere? Can you see how a falling apple might be related to a rising moon?

    Q

  36. I’d say that Einstein’s objections to quantum mechanics as outlined in the EPR paradox would be a better example of a brilliant blunder. As far as I understand it, his cosmological constant was in the context of a steady state universe. What is common to the cosmological constant and dark energy IMHO is the modification of general relativity field equations to allow for a repulsive gravity effect, but dark energy has been postulated in the context of an accelerating, not a steady state universe. I can’t think of equivalent parallels to these sort of blunders in climate science. Incidentally, Arrhenius seems to have played a significant role in blocking the award of the Nobel to Einstein.

    • Don Monfort says:

      Mosher is jerking your chain, but Dyson did say that science blunders ain’t all that serious:

      Taken in context – that context being a book review, not a philosophical treatise – Dyson draws a distinction between blunders of war and politics, and blunders of science. These categories are not always mutually exclusive. Drawing the distinction necessarily implies that you are discussing those circumstances where they are.

      And he didn’t say that climate science is a big empire losing blunder, because it’s a political blunder. Unless somebody saw him say that somewhere else. Actually, he didn’t say anything at all about climate science. Mosher made the linkage to form the chain that he is jerking.

      Yes, that is my point. From my posts above, one reads that: In the book review from which the Mosher troll quoted, Dyson does not speak of climate science. Mosher puts words into Dyson’s mouth on that and other topics, to create a pretend Dyson that contradicts what the actual Dyson has actually said about climate science, elsewhere.

      Those comments elsewhere – not this book review – being the reason why Dyson is known to the climate skeptic community. And that he is known to and liked by skeptics is why he is a target for Mosher’s OCD.

      My guess is that Dyson has not made up his mind on whether or not the consensus climate science is a big blunder on a par with war and political blunders.

      Apart from answering it with wholly unnecessary speculation, you’ve framed your question incorrectly.

      The question is not: “Does Dyson consider ‘climate science’ to be a scientific blunder as large as a political or military blunder.”

      The question is: “Does Dyson consider ‘climate science’ to be a political blunder?”

      The answer is yes. And his recent public commentary to that effect is the only reason why most of the people around here who have heard of Freeman Dyson, have heard of Freeman Dyson.

      “I’m not saying the warming doesn’t cause problems, obviously it does. Obviously we should be trying to understand it. I’m saying that the problems are being grossly exaggerated. They take away money and attention from other problems that are much more urgent and important. Poverty, infectious diseases, public education and public health. Not to mention the preservation of living creatures on land and in the oceans.” – Freeman Dyson

  37. Steven Mosher

    Now where are the skeptics arguing that Dyson is wrong.

    Dyson argues that science blunders are less worse than say blunders in war and blunders in politics.

    Assume climate science is a blunder. Dyson argues, “no big deal”

    • Now where are the skeptics arguing that Dyson is wrong.

      Dyson is correct. Mosher simply has very low reading comprehension.

      Dyson argues that science blunders are less worse than say blunders in war and blunders in politics.

      Assume climate science is a blunder. Dyson argues, “no big deal”

      Uh, no. “Climate science” is a political blunder, and Dyson argues such.

      Note to Mosher – he actually argues that, as opposed to the hallucinations that you have regarding things you want him to have said that he has not.

      That “climate science” is a political blunder is precisely why it is such an enormous blunder. Before “climate science” became a political vehicle, social misfits like Michael Mann would live their lives in obscurity. If they postulated that tree rings were thermometers and that the medieval warm period did not exist, no harm would be done except to their own more or less nonexistent reputations. Submitting national sovereignty to crudely drawn pictures of hockey sticks and reallocating scarce resources to tilting windmills changed all of that.

      Dyson is correct. And Mosher cannot read.

    • Read more carefully, I’ve made it just as plain as I can that the blunders of the maddened herd with respect to this catastrophe are worse than those military ones he mentions.
      ==========

    • Yikes, JJ, how do we say the same thing in such an opposing fashion?
      ========

    • Ah, yes, it was moshe’s treble hook, science, war and politics.
      ==================

    • “Assume climate science is a blunder. Dyson argues, ‘no big deal’”

      No he doesn’t.

      Read harder.

      Killing ten people is worse than maiming five. That does not make maiming five “no big deal.”

      Burt then, you already knew that.

    • AGW theory makes sense to the Left, only because they also believe humanity is a blunder.

    • kim asks:

      Yikes, JJ, how do we say the same thing in such an opposing fashion?

      We didn’t really. It only seems opposing when you accept Mosher putting his own words in Dyson’s mouth:

      Assume climate science is a blunder. Dyson argues, “no big deal.

      Problem is, Dyson does not assume that climate science is simply a scientific blunder. Rather, he explicitly recognizes that at the hands of certain climate “scientists” (he names names) the discipline of “climate science” has become an ideology, and that ideology has political objectives. From his comments on the matter, he does not consider that “no big deal”.

      Mosher dishonestly ignores what Dyson actually says, in favor of what Mosher wishes Dyson would say so as to agree with Mosher’s childish rants on his third grade understanding of epistemology. Above, when you “disagree with Dyson”, you are not disagreeing with the actual Dyson. You are disagreeing with the fake Dyson that exists only in the dishonest assertions of Steven Mosher.

      Thus, you are disagreeing with Mosher, as am I. And once again, all is right with the world. :)

    • Well, I’m not a skeptic, but I’ll take you up on that, Steve. (Hey–did something happen upthread? Why is everybody pissed at you all of a sudden?)

      If the consensus wins and we spend a ton of money preparing for climate change that never comes, it will be a thousand times better than a war. There.I said it. The poor will remain poor, and some of the rich will join them. We will not achieve our full potential and we will waste thousands of opportunities for advancement and discovery.

      And it will be a thousand times better than a war.

    • Mosh wrote: \\Assume climate science is a blunder. Dyson argues, “no big deal”//

      Since you are putting words in his mouth, let me do the same and respond on his behalf. I believe that Dyson would argue along the lines of Longborg that it is a big deal because other areas of human suffering and dysfunction are being ignored. It’s not war, but it’s a contest for resources that could used more wisely, e.g. improving water quality, fighting disease, etc.

      But Dyson would also argue that climate change research needs to continue but be more empirical and visionary and less biased toward the confirmational.

      You know as well as I that the warmists are trying to close the circle of research. Dyson would not approve.

    • Steven Mosher

      Tom,
      They still dont get it.
      I would have expected some of them to argue that wrong science can be as harmful as bad war decisions.
      Or I would have expected Dyson to be smart enough to make a stronger argument. Something like, as long as science has no effect on policy then science blunders are less worse than blunders in war.
      But he doesnt make that argument. He is pretending that science blunders dont have consequences outside of science.

      Or is he is simply naive. Science doesnt exist in a vacuum. Bad theories have consequences because people will use science to achieve their political ends. Dyson wishes for a time when one could just have bad theories and its no big deal. This is a concept of scientist as someone who does not live in the world.. the idea that ideas can be value free, that they are somehow free actors above politics or should be.

    • do scientists then need to consider the political ramifications of what they publish?

      Would this extend to a consideration of how journalists (*cough* david rose) may report what they publish in a blundery way?

    • Freeman Dyson:

      “The chief difference between science and other human enterprises such as warfare and politics is that brilliant blunders in science are less costly.”

      Stephen (“CEOIC”) Mosher:

      “He is pretending that science blunders dont have consequences outside of science.”

      When you have the science, argue the science.
      When you have the facts, argue the facts.
      When ya got nothin’, just make sh*t up.

    • Steven Mosher dishonestly posts:

      They still dont get it.
      I would have expected some of them to argue that wrong science can be as harmful as bad war decisions.

      What you have seen is them arguing that wrong climate science is not simply wrong science, it is wrong politics. “Political blunders” being a category of blunder that Dyson explicitly placed on par with “war blunders”. See:

      The chief difference betwen science and other human enterprises such as warfare and politics is that brilliant blunders in science are less costly. – Freeman Dyson.

      Funny how your post consciously leaves out Dyson’s reference to political blunders. Well, not really funny. Dishonest. And pathetic.

      Or I would have expected Dyson to be smart enough to make a stronger argument.

      He did. You pretend he did not. Elsewhere on this thread, you pretend he did say things that he did not. The Mosher is such a weak troll that it can only chew on men it fashions from straw and lies. Pathetic.

      Something like, as long as science has no effect on policy then science blunders are less worse than blunders in war.

      That is implicit in his identification of political blunders as a category on par with war blunders, which is of course why you cut that part out.

      But he doesnt make that argument. He is pretending that science blunders dont have consequences outside of science.

      No, he is simply assuming that his audience is smart enough to understand that whereas some blunders are more or less contained within the realm of science, others are compounded when they spill into areas such as politics and war where the consequences are more grave. Clearly, he over-estimated the intelligence of his readers in your case.

      He also likely assumed that his audience is honest enough to read what he wrote, and not leave out things he said that are inconvenient to their OCD driven rants. Once again, he obviously was not anticipating the belligerently dishonest troll that is Steven Mosher.

      Or is he is simply naive. Science doesnt exist in a vacuum. Bad theories have consequences because people will use science to achieve their political ends.

      Naive? Hardly. It is the fact that Dyson has been addressing the use of half-assed climate science to support political blunders that has put him in the public eye recently. You pretend that away, so that you can call names at him. Dishonest.

      Dyson wishes for a time when one could just have bad theories and its no big deal.

      He says no such thing. You’re making $#!^ up again. You do that a lot. It is among the reasons why people distrust your work product. You are a political actor with an agenda and a hateful OCD toward skeptics, and you are fundamentally dishonest.

    • Mosher is jerking your chain, but Dyson did say that science blunders ain’t all that serious:

      “The chief difference between science and other human enterprises such as warfare and politics is that brilliant blunders in science are less costly. Hannibal’s brilliant crossing of the Alps to invade Italy from the north resulted in the ruin and total destruction of his homeland. Two thousand years later, the brilliant attack on Pearl Harbor cost the Japanese emperor his empire. Even the worst scientific blunders do not do so much damage.”

      He said it. And he didn’t say that climate science is a big empire losing blunder, because it’s a political blunder. Unless somebody saw him say that somewhere else. Actually, he didn’t say anything at all about climate science. Mosher made the linkage to form the chain that he is jerking.

      My guess is that Dyson has not made up his mind on whether or not the consensus climate science is a big blunder on a par with war and political blunders. Unless somebody saw him say that. Link please?

      • Perhaps science is not as costly, but they can be costly. Lead pipes and plates? Bleeding to rid the body of bad spirits? But perhaps those are merely scientific ignorance. Or in other words, using a “consensus” to over rule reality.

    • Mosher: “Or I would have expected Dyson to be smart enough to make a stronger argument. Something like, as long as science has no effect on policy then science blunders are less worse than blunders in war.”

      Dyson was not making an argument. He was writing a book review on science blunders of five famous guys in science history. None of them made a blunder that lost an empire or caused anybody to get a hangnail.

      Stop being disruptive, Steven.

    • ‘Assume climate science is a blunder. Dyson argues, “no big deal”’

      Yep. Experts testifying before Congress could sway them toward policy based on erroneous predictions:

  38. I rthink Dyson said that climate scientists do not understand [the facts] they are seeing.

    Which reminds me of R.W.Hamming’s motto that the purpose of computation is understanding, not numbers.

    And my own point that the climate scientists do not know what they claim to know, a very serious moral lapse.

  39. bladeshearer

    “The biggest problem is premature declaration of ‘winners’ by consensus to suit political and policy maker objectives.’

    Very well said!

  40. If we assume that science is a process of discovery, a process of inquiry, then science can be wrong, possibly in application of a process that isn’t appropriate to the particular problem encountered. Science can be wrong because the scientists using the right process, misapplies that process; hence, the result is spurious. Science can be wrong when the scientists is unscrupulous and picks and chooses methods and/or results that satisfy their bias.

    The science of climate change has had examples of all of the above and probably more where the “process of science is wrong”: i.e., Mann’s Hockey Stick. Other people may think of other examples.

    It appears to me that some people trained in the physical and maybe even the social sciences are bothered by the present contamination of climate science, their BS detector goes off not so much around “facts”, rather, the uncomfortableness one feels when reading through the climate science presentation. A growing awareness that the process of science, the process of inquiry, has been compromised. The exact error in the process and/or application may not be easily discernible, requiring a deeper understanding of the science, yet it is nonetheless evident, palpable, and for some, is so grievous, that one wants to lean more about climate science.

    The more one learns about climate science, the more one learns that the process of inquiry as applied by climate scientists is really poor. No geniuses needed to see that the present climate practitioners have no chance of seeing into the future. Current state of the art? climate science practitioners = shaman’s, healers, casting out spells of evil doers.

    There, I feel better already.

    • Who are they who have achieved a dread of reality and who feel compelled to cause pain and injury to children? Superstitious schoolteachers who disbelieving of nature have now come to fear it: true bringers of knowledge only cause them injury for they have forsaken reason and – no longer having a will to uplift others – are hopelessly destitute and disgraceful. Witness these schoolteachers, destitute of the impulse to any uplifting activity, who nonetheless never fail to exalt in their pride in themselves and their mathematical models of reality.

    • There you go Judith – you’re no better than a tribalistic faith-healer muttering mumbo-jumbo, and your weather forecasting business is selling snake-oil.

  41. “The loose use of ‘the facts’ in the public discussion of climate change (scientists, the media, politicians) is enormously misleading, damaging to science, and misleading to policy deliberations.”

    Agree. The public tend to trust scientists and cannot distinguish between fact and fiction. So one scientist claiming facts that are untrue, disparages all scientists. Of course some facts can be half-truths and so are a let out for the miscreant.Time is another factor: Emanual of MIT claims that climate change due to CO2 was discovered mid-19th century by Arrhenius with ‘pencil and paper’ sties Now, of course, we have a better understanding of how gases absorb and emit radiation (never admitted by the IPCC though).

  42. Facts trotted out such as “it hasnt warmed in x amount of years” or “Antarctic sea ice is increasing” certainly are disconcerting seeing as how these are not facts. Good to see you taking a stand against such tripe Dr Curry.

    • Antarctic sea ice is not increasing? What planet are you looking at? http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seaice.anomaly.antarctic.png

    • Chuck L, you are awful quick to claim “fact”. This article makes clear you have just made inference and claimed fact. Anyone claiming Antarctic sea ice is increasing should make clear it is only inference. Did you make that clear in your congressional testimony Dr Curry?

    • Curious George

      When I was growing up in a communist country, the government kept inventing all sorts of facts to support their cause. A locally famous comedian used to start some of real-life events by saying “This is not a fact. This has actually happened”. Somehow he was able to get away with it for three years, then he got accidentally poisoned with a carbon monoxide.

    • Curious George

      Sorry – … real-life stories …

    • Good story Curious. One can still see members of government making up facts anytime Senators such as James Inhofe speak about climate. In fact, a former aide to James Inhofe, Marc Morano dedicated his government service to making up facts and has continued since with a crazy make it all up blog.

    • nottawa rafter

      Eric needs to revisit the difference between inference and fact. He is a little confused.

    • Curious George

      Eric – clearly you are a conspiracy theorist. Have you taken part in any recent polls?

    • Bob Droege

      Figure 2 in this link is most relevant to your comment

      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/16/historic-variations-in-temperature-number-four-the-hockey-stick/

      Taking a 50 year or 125 year centred paleo proxy reconstruction completely misses out on the annual and decadal variations in the real world we live in.

      In the real world we suffer such things as extreme cold and extreme heat which are smoothed away in paleos.

      The dramatic rise in the 20th century comes about as a hugely variable instrumental record is spliced onto a smoothed non representative paleo proxy.

      As referenced here several times recently, Phil Jones admitted climate variability was much greater than he had previously thought when he came to realise that the 1730 centred decade was not surpassed until the 1990’s and that only by fractions of a degree.

      tonyb

    • Eris

      You said

      ‘Good story Curious. One can still see members of government making up facts anytime Senators such as James Inhofe speak about climate. In fact, a former aide to James Inhofe, Marc Morano dedicated his government service to making up facts and has continued since with a crazy make it all up blog.’

      Being from Britain I know little about the characters you mention. Could you therefore provide half a dozen of Morano’s made up facts so I can judge his veracity for myself? Thank you.

      tonyb

  43. It isn’t Dr Mann’s defense of the Hockey Stick which is as important as the plethora of other studies which show the Hockey Stick to be real.

    • The Hockey Stick is real? What arena are you playing in?
      ==========

    • Eric

      I can cite over 30 independent studies from all over the globe, using different paleo methodologies, which all conclude that the MWP was slightly warmer than today.

      The “plethora” of other studies are very few in comparison, and many reuse the same flawed data and approach that were part of the discredited hockey stick.

      The hockey stick is NOT real. It was a figment of Mann’s overactive imagination. It was thoroughly discredited, first by McIntyre and McKitrick, then by the Wegman committee and the NAS panel under oath before a US congressional committee. And all this happened before the “hide the decline” was exposed.

      Unfortunately for the credibility of the IPCC, it was eagerly embraced by IPCC and even given centerfold prominence in its TAR SPM report, without first being sufficiently vetted.

      It has lost its centerfold prominence in later IPCC reports but, despite the fact that it has been thoroughly discredited, IPCC still sticks with its claim that “the warmth of the last half century is unusual in at least the previous 1,300 years”.

      Ouch!

      Max

    • Eric

      PS

      The hockey stick is one of those classical “blunders”.

      The fact that IPCC embraced it without proper “vetting” was a monumental “blunder”.

      Max

    • Manacker, please go ahead and list over 30 independent studies which show global temps were what you claim. I am skeptical. Your claims of facts to the contrary are what this article is dissing.

    • For information, here is the current AR5 version of the hockey stick.

      Note that the appropriate scale for current temperatures is a CRUTEM4 NH field, which they show as about 1 C today. Still looks very HS to me, with the end just extending the longer you wait, already arguably the highest in 2000 years.

    • Eric

      Regarding the evidence for a slightly warmer MWP you wrote:

      Manacker, please go ahead and list over 30 independent studies which show global temps were what you claim. I am skeptical.

      It’s good to be skeptical, Eric.

      Here are the studies:

      Author, Date, Location, Temperature

      Loehle 2007 rev., Global, 0.15°C warmer than today
      Moberg 2005, Global, same as today
      Rosenthal et al. 2013, Pacific Ocean, 0.65°C warmer than today
      Dahl-Jensen 1998, Greenland, 0.8°C warmer than today
      Johnsen 2001, Greenland summit, 1°C warmer than today
      Zhang 1994, China, Henan, 0.9° to 1.0°C warmer than today
      Zheng 2003, Eastern China, 0.4°C warmer than today
      Honghan 1995, S. China, 1° to 2°C warmer than today
      Adnikari 2001, Japan, MWP warmest in 1300 years
      Kitigawa 1995, Japan, Yakushima Island, 1°C warmer than today
      Cook 2002, New Zealand, no temperature difference given
      Wilson 1979, New Zealand, 0.75°C warmer than today
      Newton 2006, Tropical Ocean. 0.4°C warmer than today
      Keigwin 1996, Sargasso Sea, 1°C warmer than today
      Lund 2006, Bahamas, 0.2°C warmer than today
      Richey 2007, Gulf of Mexico, 1.5°C warmer than today
      Lückge 2005, Coastal Peru, 1.2°C warmer than today
      Goni 2004, Venezuela, 0.35°C warmer than today
      Miller 2006, USA, Sierra Nevada, 3.2°C warmer than today
      Patterson 1998, USA, Lake Erie, Ohio, 0.2°C warmer than today
      Cronin 2003, USA, Chesapeake Bay, 0.15°C warmer than today
      Vare 2000, Canada, Barrow Strait, no temperature difference given
      Rolland 2009, Canada, Southampton Island, 0.9°C warmer than today
      Linderholm 2005, Sweden, 1.5°C warmer than today
      Weckstrom 2006, Finnish Lapland, 0.15°C warmer than today
      Mazepa 2005, Russia, Ural Mountains, 0.56°C warmer than today
      Kalugin 2007, Russia, Altai Mountains, 0.5°C warmer than today
      Schlüchter 2005, Swiss Alps, warmer – no temperature given
      Laroque-Tobler 2010, Switzerland, 1°C warmer than today
      Mangini 2007, Austria, Spannagel Cave 1.5°C warmer than today
      Patzelt 2009, Austrian Alps, warmer – no temperature given
      Martinez 1999, NW Spain, 3.4°C warmer than today
      Abrantes 2005, Portugal, Tagus River, 0.9°C warmer than today

      Hope this helps.

      Max

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      manacker proclaims [in effect] “I can name thirty people who have won at Las Vegas

      Cherry-picking by manacker, gambler’s ruin by FOMD.

      \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • Fan said (incomprehensibly)

      “manacker proclaims [in effect] “I can name thirty people who have won at Las Vegas“

      Cherry-picking by manacker, gambler’s ruin by FOMD.”

      Figure 5 of my link shows 3000 years worth of glacier movements gleaned from thousands of expert observations;

      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/16/historic-variations-in-temperature-number-four-the-hockey-stick/

      Mystifying reply to Manacker’s excellent list by FOMD, historical context by tonyb showing previous warm and cold periods. There is nothing new under the Sun,as your Pope might say Fan.

      tonyb

    • nottawa rafter

      Max
      My central interest for the last 6 years has been whether or not the current warming is significantly greater than the MWP. Just like extreme weather, sea level rise, etc., are we experiencing anything unprecedented? Your list gives any reasonable person justification for at least being open to the possibility that we have been down this road before.

    • Loehle had to print a correction in E&E stating his results were not statistically significant.

      And Moberg shows modern much warmer than MWP

      http://www.wmconnolley.org.uk/1000_Year_Temperature_Comparison.html

      the rest are local temperatures

      fail

    • droege

      lol nice try. Taken in aggregate the extensive list of what you call “local” seem to be representative of a pretty significant part of the earth.

    • Manacker, I was right to be skeptical. Your list does not show studies of global temperatures and even the local studies may not sgow what you claim. I have not gone through the whole list, but as an example the Patterson 2008 paper you reference refers to seasonal Lake Erie water temps based on the 20th century average. Lake Erie temps have risen several degrees above this recently making current temps at or above MWP temps based on your referenced study.

    • When the proxies keep up with the instrumental data tell me about it. Oh that’s right I forgot. Modern proxies don’t accurately reflect temperatures due to anthropogenic interference but those from 1000 years ago do :).

    • Bob Droege

      Completely missed with my first attempt at placing this reply in the correct nesting box so have repeated it here;

      Bob Droege

      Figure 2 in this link is most relevant to your comment

      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/16/historic-variations-in-temperature-number-four-the-hockey-stick/

      Taking a 50 year or 125 year centred paleo proxy reconstruction completely misses out on the annual and decadal variations in the real world we live in.

      In the real world we suffer such things as extreme cold and extreme heat which are smoothed away in paleos.

      The dramatic rise in the 20th century comes about as a hugely variable instrumental record is spliced onto a smoothed non representative paleo proxy.

      As referenced here several times recently, Phil Jones admitted climate variability was much greater than he had previously thought when he came to realise that the 1730 centred decade was not surpassed until the 1990′s and that only by fractions of a degree.

      tonyb

    • Citing reconstructions from individual locations doesn’t really prove anything as they are inherently more variable than global temperatures so it’s not surprising that you will find some places which were warmer than today. This is especially so if you are quite liberal with the timescale you are looking at – some of the studies mentioned have their peak temperatures 200-300 years apart. And that’s before we get to the kind of issues which Eric has identified.

      And the two global studies (actually Moberg is NH only) don’t support a warmer MWP either. According to Loehle’s 2008 paper (which was a correction to the 2007 one)

      While instrumental data are not strictly comparable, the rise in 29 year-smoothed global data from NASA GISS (http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp) from 1935 to 1992 (with data from 1978 to 2006) is 0.34 Deg C. Even adding this rise to the 1935 reconstructed value, the MWP peak remains 0.07 Deg C above the end of the 20th Century values, though the difference is not significant.

      According to my calculations extending the data further from 2006 to 2013 would more than cancel out that difference, so at best we can say that Loehle puts MWP temperatures at about the same level as today’s.

      As for Moberg, he says that

      According to our reconstruction, high temperatures—similar to those observed in the twentieth century before 1990—occurred around AD 1000 to 1100.” [my emphasis]

      so he’s not saying that the MWP was about as war as today. He also says

      We find no evidence for any earlier periods in the last two millennia with warmer conditions than the post-1990 period—in agreement with previous similar studies1–4,

      What’s more, among those “similar studies” he cites are Mann’s, so he doesn’t contraadict Mann he explicitly agrees with him, at least on this particular narrow point.

    • andrew adams

      A mistake that is often made (as you are doing) is to compare actual annual temperature records of today (even if using 10-year averages) with reconstructed paleo data, which are smoothed out over much longer time periods.

      Compare the 20thC (or 1950-2000) smoothed average with the paleo data and you get a more meaningful comparison.

      Max

    • andrew adams

      The 30+ studies I cited from all over the world point to a MWP that is global

      Most of them point to a MWP that was slightly warmer than today’s temperature, when smoothed on an equivalent basis.

      The “anomaly” is Mann’s hockey stick (which I did not list). But it was thoroughly discredited by McIntyre and McKitrick, the Wegman committee and an NAS panel under oath, so it can be tossed into the trash bin of history, where it belongs.

      Max

    • What they do not point to is a surface air temperature of the globe during the MWP that is warmer than it is today.

      Regardless of what Max says, that work has not been done.

      Michael E. Mann is capable of demonstrating the MWP was warmer. He has the chops. So hire him.

    • manacker | April 22, 2014 at 2:43 pm |

      True to your track record, none of your reply to andrew adams is true.

      Your list appears self-plagiarized and highly questionable. So questionable, that https://judithcurry.com/2013/03/11/lets-play-hockey-again/#comment-302707 you didn’t answer Paul H’s question on why he couldn’t find many of the references you claimed.

      It’s McIntyre, McKitrick and Wegman that have been thoroughly discredited and tossed on the rubbish bin of history. You can use the Daubert Test on that, or simply look at what papers have been withdrawn or reissued with substantial corrections, and compare their citation index.

      Why do you exclusively lie?

      Don’t you know mixing it up a bit, varying a bit of truth in with the fables, makes writing more interesting?

      Or, even better: do what some of us do, and strive to only say true things.

      • McIntyre, McKittrick and Wegman have been discredited? Where? When?

        And that is amusing considering that Wegman was not even a study, merely a review of methods. But I guess when you are inventing fantasies, any dab’l dooya.

    • Max,

      I was quoting from the papers themselves. Loehle’s comparison between current temperatures with his reconstruction is based on a 29 year smooth for the instrumental data, I just worked out the effect of brining it right up to date using the same basis. Moberg explicitly contradicts your claim that the MWP was warmer in his paper – it was you that cited it in support of your argument, you can’t then turn round and say he’s wrong when it’s pointed out that it doesn’t actually say what you claim it does.
      It’s also Moberg who that claims that his findings are consistent with Mann’s WRT the question of whether current temperatures are warmer than the MWP, and this is also consistent with other reconstructions.

    • Max,

      The 30+ studies I cited from all over the world point to a MWP that is global

      No they don’t – many are bunched in the same general areas and many parts of the world are not represented, they don’t all have their temperature peaks at the same time (some of them are hundreds of years apart) and as Eric points out they are not all comparing the MWP to today’s temperatures.

      In order to make your claim stand up you (or someone else) has to actually put them together properly with date from other areas and produce a global reconstruction. No one who has done so has shown that MWP temperatures were likely to be higher than today’s.

      • The peaks were all in the same time “period”. Indeed, the US just had the coldest winter on record, and Australia supposedly just had the warmest summer on record. So there cannot be warming because the peaks are not the same?

        Your logic escapes me.

    • andrew adams

      Go back and read what I wrote:

      Loehle 2007 rev., Global, 0.15°C warmer than today
      Moberg 2005, Global, same as today

      By “today” I do not mean April 22, 2014.

      What is meant in Loehle is a 29 year smoothed average. He wrote the study in 2005, published it in 2006, published a revision in 2007. He wrote:

      The peak value of the MWP is 0.526 Deg C above the mean over the period (again as a 29 year mean, not annual, value). This is 0.412 Deg C above the last reported value at 1935 (which includes data through 1949) of 0.114 Deg C.

      So if we update Loehle to 2005, when he wrote the paper, we have (instead of 0.15C difference):

      -0.179C = 29-year mean value, 1920-1949
      +0.412C warmer than this, equals
      +0.234C = highest 29-year period in MWP

      +0.181C = 29-year mean value, 1976-2005

      So the MWP is only 0.05C warmer than the modern warm period, on this updated basis.

      Moberg = essentially “same as today” (I never claimed Moberg said MWP was warmer).

      Hope this clears it p for you.

      Max

    • Bart R

      Your reply is so silly it does not warrant a detailed reply.

      Go crawl back under your rock.

      Max

    • andrew adams

      ALL temperatures are local, Andrew.

      The studies I cited do cover a major part of the world, but (yes) they are all local.

      So were the temperatures used by Moberg or Loehle (or Mann for that matter).

      If you have trouble finding any of the studies (as Bart R alludes), let me know which ones you would like the link for.

      Of course, you realize that these studies are only a part of the overall historical record, which points to a slightly warmer MWP than today.

      Tony B has done some work on this which might be helpful if you are genuinely interested.

      If your mind is made up (like Bart R) and you are just trying to make a point that the current warmth is unprecedented in the past 1,500 years (or some other such nonsense), then don’t waste your time trying to find out what really happened.

      Max

    • Max,

      Loehle himself says

      Even adding this rise to the 1935 reconstructed value, the MWP peak remains 0.07 Deg C above the end of the 20th Century values, though the difference is not significant.

      which is based on using a 29 year smooth so the most recent instrumental data used is 1978-2006, and it’s not much difference to your 0.05 figure. According to my calculations, extending this for the period since the paper was written, still using the 29 year smooth (so using the data up to 1985-2013), adds about another 0.1C warming, so we end up with a MWP either 0.05 above or below recent temperatures and therefore I think it’s fair to say that Loehle’s paper puts the MWP temperatures about the same as in recent years.

      Yes, I know you said Moberg = “same as today” but he didn’t say that, he said “similar to pre-1990”, which is not the same thing. You’d have to indulge in some pretty severe smoothing to discount the post 1990 temperature rise. And he explicitly said that he found no evidence for the MWP being warmer than the post 1990 period, which was the claim you originally made and which Eric objected to.

      And yes, of course global reconstructions are based on collating various local records. But local records have more variability than the overall global temperature so there will be locations which were particularly warm and some which were cooler. Just cherry picking the former while ignoring the latter doesn’t prove anything. Especially when they weren’t necessarily all warm at the same time – the Johnsen and Wilson papers you cite have their peak temperatures 200-300 years apart. If your claim that the various local studies you mention equate to a MWP warmer than today then this would be reflected in global reconstructions. It isn’t.

      In the end I’m not trying to prove anything, it’s you (and others) who have made a specific claim that the MWP was warmer than today. That it was generally quite warm and that some places were especially so, is not in dispute but the best indication we have, ie from the global or NH reconstructions, is that overall it was probably equivalent to mid to late 20C temperatures. Obviously there’s a lot of uncertainty and big error bars so it’s not inconceivable that at times global temperatures did actually match or even exceed current levels but there’s nothing which justifies the certainty with which you and other claim that temperatures were higher.

    • Andrew Adams

      Extrapolating the logical line that the modern era is warmer than the MWP-which is the central tenet of much of modern climate reconstructions-we would have to demonstrate that ALL the globe is warmer than it has been in the past, and has been for a statistically meaningful period, for any worthwhile claim to be made that the modern era is extraordinary in the breadth, depth and longevity of the patchy warming experienced to date.

      That there are a variety of areas that are cooler than the recent past and substantially cooler than they were during other warm periods-such as the MWP-makes it difficult to support the claim (made by others) that the globe is uniformly warmer than during the MWP. If it is NOT uniformly warmer then the alarmist claims being made seem rather hollow

      That the Hockey stick (and other paleo proxy reconstructions) are realistic depends on how much credence you give to the extreme accuracy of such proxies as tree rings and pollen. That such proxies miss out on the annual and decadal variability of the real world is clear, and why a 125 year long theoretical sampling should be thought of as more reliable or desirable than a real temperature that has actually been experienced always bemuses me.

      The longer term paleo proxy samplings miss out on the great climatic events such as the LIA and the remarkable recovery culminating in the 1730’s. Consequently they seem to be of more academic interest than having a great practical value.

      tonyb

    • Backing up the CET historic temperature records, glacier records
      from painstakingly researched sources, glaciologists, church and
      town records, taxes on farms, et al and correlating with grain and
      wine harvest data. Ref. Tony Brown’s ‘Historic Variability in
      Temperature’ 08/2013, see figures 2 and 5, showing decadal
      variations in temperature compared to the coarse sieve of paleo
      records llke Mann’s Hockey Stick Paleo Proxy Reconstruction.
      – Showing also that glacier advances and retreats can be of
      surprisingly short duration.

  44. There is a lot of back and forth about the significance of Dyson’s thoughts with respect to climate “science.” The following link and quotes are directly applicable to climate “science” and maybe could narrow the debate here.

    At http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/dysonf07/dysonf07_index.html Dyson explains his thoughts concerning climate “science.”

    “My first heresy says that all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated. Here I am opposing the holy brotherhood of climate model experts and the crowd of deluded citizens who believe the numbers predicted by the computer models. Of course, they say, I have no degree in meteorology and I am therefore not qualified to speak. But I have studied the climate models and I know what they can do. The models solve the equations of fluid dynamics, and they do a very good job of describing the fluid motions of the atmosphere and the oceans. They do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry and the biology of fields and farms and forests. They do not begin to describe the real world that we live in. The real world is muddy and messy and full of things that we do not yet understand. It is much easier for a scientist to sit in an air-conditioned building and run computer models, than to put on winter clothes and measure what is really happening outside in the swamps and the clouds. That is why the climate model experts end up believing their own models.”

    Additionally, Dyson in opposition to Mosher’s comments does believe in the need for skeptics. He stated “The public is led to believe that the fashionable scientific dogmas are true, and it may sometimes happen that they are wrong. That is why heretics who question the dogmas are needed.”

    JD

    • With each passing year, it is looking more and more likely this will be Dyson’s blunder.

    • Hi Eric.

      I don’t see your point. How is it a blunder to question an the scarcity of proof in a developing science?

      It is not as if he has come up with a completely new hypothesis.

    • Consensus Climate Theory and Consensus Climate Models do not include Polar Ice Cycles.

      It snows more when oceans are warm. It snows less when oceans are cold. Ice Advances after the warm times. Ice Retreats after the cold times. They really don’t understand this. They really don’t even suspect.

      It is very clear, if you look at actual data and think.

    • JD Ohio

      A great essay by Dyson. Thanks for posting the link.

      Max

  45. ” The biggest problem is premature declaration of ‘winners’ by consensus to suit political and policy maker objectives”

    Premature Congratulation, so to speak!

  46. Michael Larkin

    Mosher says:

    “please read harder.

    “Note how dyson equates science with having beliefs, making theories.”

    I disagree. The quote you adduced says:

    “We can’t live in a state of perpetual doubt, so we make up the best story possible and we live as if the story were true. A theory that began as a wild guess ends as a firm belief. Humans need beliefs in order to live, and great scientists are no exception. Great scientists produce right theories and wrong theories, and believe in them with equal conviction.”

    Dyson merely says that we make up stories and arrive at beliefs that may be right or wrong: we have a *need* to do this. He does not *equate* science with “having beliefs, making theories”. That’s just your gloss. Science isn’t alone in making up stories and having beliefs/making theories that may be right or wrong; that happens all over the place: in religion, philosophy and politics, for example. I’m sure Dyson is aware of that (“and great scientists are no exception”).

    What distinguishes science as currently conceived of is the intention to find repeatable evidence to prove or disprove the stories. At least in principle; in practice, scientists are just as likely as anyone else to succumb to things like confirmation bias, whence, in my opinion, comes all the hype about global warming.

    • What AGW believers are really saying is that they are willing to believe in an unprovable hypothesis. That is what superstition is all about. The goal of the scientific method is to free minds from hatred, prejudice and fear born of superstition and ignorance. To forsake science when it conflicts with the elaborate belief system of a group of people is what religion is all about: global warming has become the religion of the Left.

    • What separates great science from the rest of science is not the care in performing testing but the act of creating genuinely new theories. Great scientists are those best in that. In my interpretation that’s what Dyson is saying as well.

      Genuinely new theories have a high likelihood of being wrong, a great scientist has a higher probability of success for theories of comparable novelty, but even they produce often wrong theories. It’s very often also essential that they keep on believing in the potential of their new theory in spite of the contrary “proofs” others present.

      Criticizing the work of others and the old theories may be good and valuable scientific work, but it’s not great science.

  47. The three published responses to Dyson’s review, and his replies, are models of cogent, coherent and respectful discourse which might well be taken as a model by CE posters.

    • Faustino,

      Just wondered if you saw my response to your comment on the previous thread here: https://judithcurry.com/2014/04/19/in-defense-of-free-speech/#comment-528585

      It’s a bit OT but thought you might be interested anyway.

    • What degree of respect is accorded in Dyson’s use of the phrase, “the holy brotherhood of climate model experts and the crowd of deluded citizens “, one wonders?

      This Dyson hagiography of yours is purest whitewash of a man with a track record of insult and ad personam in his opinion writings, who gives twice what he gets, picks fights where there are none, and incites brawls where reasoned discourse would fail.

      It is much easier for a scientist to sit in an air-conditioned building and run computer models, than to put on winter clothes and measure what is really happening outside in the swamps and the clouds. That is why the climate model experts end up believing their own models.

      Right. Scientists produce models because it’s easier than taking a stroll in the snow. Of course. That makes perfect sense.

      You think Dyson’s writings model cogency? Coherence? Respect?

      Have you read no FJ Dyson writing?

    • Brandon, I have commented specifically on three letters with two responses from Dyson. I have made no general comment on Dyson or the material from which you quote. Do you have a view on the correspondence and/or my assessment of it? If so, that would be relevant here

    • Sorry, Bart, I just read some posts from Brandon on the previous thread.

    • Faustino | April 22, 2014 at 4:17 am |

      Why make it about whether the wrong response was wrongly responded to Brandon or to me?

      Who cares _who_ you are saying incorrect things to on an open forum?

      Why should exchanges about Science be so peppered with ad personam where it serves no function.

      I can see the purpose of using names to link exchanges by topic as names are easier to recognize and associate with past comments, make the thread more humanly readable in what is, after all, an absurdly ill-formatted blog comment apparatus, but to entirely ignore what one has said or read and only talk about whom one has labelled for it seems pointless.

      It seems not coherent.

      It seems not cogent.

      It is a bad model.

      At best, communication of complex and advanced ideas is always difficult. The ideas in FJ Dyson’s writings are generally in this range. That he instead of clarifying what his writing attacks people spitefully and maliciously to obtain disapproval of them from his audience does nothing except elicit subscription to himself — not his claims — on invalid bases where his writing does this. And his writing does this frequently.

      Note, my claims are “his writing”, not “him”. My comments are on his behaviors, not his character. I personally might be perfectly sure he personally is a nice guy with a great personality. However, we’re giving an exchange of ideas, not an exchange of personality.

      So while Vice President Mosher earlier alludes to Science always having been personal, and he is correct insofar as scientists have always been miserable, insulting trolls especially toward the people in the world most like them in character, bespeaking self-loathing or daddy issues or whatever it is psychology speaks of in such circumstances, Science has always striven and been at its best where it simplifies what it says to the world of pure ideas and pure observation of phenomena, not of the people who harbor the ideas or make the observations; Science has been more improved where it has shown more parsimony of taking exception to the smelly breath or warty complexions or squeaky voices of the technicians who practice it; Science has been more universal in the universe of accuracy and truth where it doesn’t nitpick the nose hairs of its neighbors.

      FJ Dyson’s writing isn’t Science when it focuses so nearly exclusively on ad hom, and has been so focused for a long, long time.

      I’m all for a world where we strip off names entirely from discourses in Science, replace them with anonymous labels, and simply reject from any exchange any commentary on identifiable people at all. I know this idea would have support from those writings which lately supported the pulling of the Lew psychology paper about online denialism for exactly that reason.

    • Faustino, I was going to say the mistake was no big deal, but apparently that’s wrong. Apparently Bart R thinks correcting your mistake was somehow remarkable. He seem to think you doing so somehow made your participating in the exchange be about who you responded to.

      I thought correcting a typo in a comment was the normal thing to do, having no more significance than indicating a desirve for clarity. Maybe I was wrong?

    • Brandon Shollenberger | April 22, 2014 at 2:35 pm |

      Yup. You were wrong.

      Blog comment sections are too long already, I’m sure we all agree (at least on blogs with enough readers to make them worthwhile commenting on), and WordPress lacks preview, track changes and edit functions that many would desirve to prevent and fix mere typos. So why make the comments section longer fixing patent and easily-adapted to typos while obscuring more valid and interesting points.

      Like that Faustino was just plain wrong about FJ Dyson being a model of cogent, coherent, respectful discourse, as shown by examples of FJ Dyson’s opinion writing.

    • Bart @ 2.50, I have made no general claims about Dyson, I don’t have the basis to do so, look at my response @ 4.16 again, I was commenting on three letters and two responses which I felt pertinent to the style of discussion here, with no wider implications. It appears to me that in general you have good reading comprehension, for some reason it seems to have failed you here.

      So this makes the blog comments even longer, anathema to you apparently. If you had read more carefully, think how much space would have been saved.

    • Faustino | April 23, 2014 at 3:00 am |

      Any time you want me to agree it’s possible with a little work to find three instances of Dyson being cogent, coherent and collegial, I absolutely will.

      He’s even been known to carry on that standard of respectful writing throughout the entirety of a discussion, or field.

      But he hasn’t carried on _that_ standard in _this_ field.

      If you’re saying Dyson has a double standard, how is that better?

  48. Yes, thanks, I agree with your comment that “the anglosphere culture (of which freedom of speech is one important aspect) has delivered” many benefits. I’ve promoted Daniel Hannan’s book here and elsewhere.

  49. Willis Eschenbach

    Steven Mosher | April 21, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Skeptics are not doing great science

    Well, before we can parse the truth-content of that statement, you’ll have to tell us what you consider “great science”, and what the line might be that separates “great science” from “not-so-great science”. In addition, there are more subtle questions you’ll have to answer. For example, if someone is able to falsify some part of existing great science, does that mean they’re a great scientist?

    Next, you’ll have to explain how you plan to recognize “great science” in prospect rather than retrospect. People doing groundbreaking, even great work often are not recognized for some time. This is particularly true in a new and fluid field like climate science, where we discover something more about the climate every day. So I’m not sure how you are factoring that into your statement.

    In addition, in a new field like climate science, what we call great science today may be in the trash can tomorrow. For example, the Hockeystick was considered at the time to be great science by many people … and we know how that turned out. Not sure how that factors into your statement either …

    Next, you’ll have to define “skeptics”. Is Judith Curry a “skeptic”? Are you a “skeptic”? Robert Mueller claims that he either is or was a “skeptic” … if his claim is true then the term has absolutely no meaning, but we’ll set that aside, and let you tell us in your opinion who is or isn’t a “skeptic”.

    Once you’ve done that, and depending on how well you’ve done it, we might possibly be able to determine if your current unbearably vague statement makes any sense.

    Until then, I’ll have to assume you meant to shock and incite, rather than to actually make a falsifiable statement … and of course, if it’s not falsifiable, it’s not all that meaningful.

    w.

    • More important for humanity that wh is “doing great science”, is what is relevant for policy?

      I’ll post these questions again because I think they are the sorts of questions we need answers to And the climate scientists and CAGW believers continually avoid tackling them.

      “The most important things we don’t know are:

      1. Will increasing CO2 concentrations bring forward or delay the next sudden climate change event? and what are the probabilities?

      2. Will increasing CO2 concentrations make the next sudden climate change event more or less damaging? and what are the probabilities

      3. Will the advocated GHG mitigation policies change make beneficial changes to the climate?

      4. If so, how much difference will they make and what are the probabilities?

      5. What is the probability the advocated mitigation policies would succeed given the realities of international politics, economics, conflict, etc?

      6. What is the probability the advocated policies would deliver the expected benefits (i.e. climate damages avoided)?

      These are what I believe are the most important things we don’t know about climate change and the climate policies commonly proposed. Until I believe I have satisfactory answers to these questions, I would not support mitigation policies that will damage economic growth.”

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      The big fella’s team will be answering your questions, Willis Eschenbach and Peter Lang!

      Note: the (invited) closing speaker is Naomi Oreskes.

      Why did the Vatican chose Oreskes?

      The world ponders!

      \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • Fanny

      Why did the Vatican chose Oreskes?

      The world ponders!

      Sho’nuff!

      Max

    • Willis Eschenbach

      A fan of *MORE* discourse | April 22, 2014 at 6:56 am |

      The big fella’s team will be answering your questions, Willis Eschenbach and Peter Lang!

      Say what? I looked through all of that predigested pap, and I didn’t find the answer to a single one of my questions, Fanny. Not one. What are you smoking that you think my questions are answered there?

      You’ve seriously lost the plot here. Read my questions again. In fact, there is only one human on the earth who can answer those questions, and that’s Steven Mosher. I can’t. You can’t. The Pope and all his men can’t answer those questions.

      Of course, you see the world as incomplete unless you’ve stuck your long nose in everyone’s business, including questions I asked Mosh that only he can answer. Go play with the kids, Fanny … I’m waiting for Mosh to answer or not, and your babbling childish inanities in an adult conversation and pointing me to meaningless citations is as inappropriate as your endless string of smilies. You do understand that the endless use of children’s symbols confirms your mental age is about half that of a Valley Girl, don’t you?

      w.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Thank you, Willis Eschenbach, for a post that prominently exhibits three cognitive traits associated to denialism:

      • asking short-sighted questions, and then
      • insisting upon wrong answers, and then
      • falling back upon personal abuse.

      Your exhibitions help Climate Etc toward a fuller appreciation of why the WUWT/Anthony Watts mob scene values your writings so dearly!

      \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

  50. It’s a shame and shameful that policy makers and policy enforcers pay no attention to the lack of facts pertaining to their heavy handed and short sighted policies. Debating the facts or lack of facts pertaining to a failed hypothesis has no bearing on the fact that policy enforcers are bulldozing anyone and anywhere they can. Facts, be damned since the CAGW dogma has been about selling it to the public without regard to the lack of scientific veracity. Bulldozer before facts and facts not falling into lockstep get bulldozed.

  51. The AGW/CAGW hypothesis has yet to grow beyond the bean sprout stage, yet those selling the spriggan of a sprout have turned it into a beanstalk of monstrous proportions.

  52. Geoff Sherrington

    There is some loss of rellevance when using 5 great individuals, beecause the climate change mess has been created and driven by groups, not individuals, thus allowing factors like the madness of crowds.
    In history, the closest I can come to a parallel of climate change is the now-discredited scare that there was a 1960-80 start to an epidemic of cancers caused by man-made chemicals. See The Apocalyptics by Edith Efron, Simon and Schuster, NY 1986 from memory, for a magnificent account. Bruce Ames is a key search word and player. His plausible, but wrong,animal based test for human chemical carcinogens runs parallelto GHG in climate change structure.,

    The point is that the full cycle from a vague idea through to its intense evaluation then acceptance or rejection is rather different for the individual genius case than it is for the organisational case. The single genius has no coercive powers. The genius can end the matter in a day with a single ‘I was wrong’. The groups think case often dwindles on for decades, like Club of Rome.

    There is current speculation that major elements of climate change science are terminally wrong. If it is ending, how will it end? If it is like the man-made chemical cancer story, a feature of the end game involved some of the main players crossing the floor, or at least going to the cross benches. Bruce Ames is one such notable.

    Judith, I suspect you know you are playinng a key role. Thank you for your persistent wishes for better science and especially for the cross bench seat. May more others of enlightenment be likewise.

    • CO2 was given a bad rap, like coffee, alcohol, chocolate. People know better — remember when the food Nazis said eggs were bad for you? Global warming is the new cholesterol! The time has come for the people to embrace pragmatism and admit humanity needs less government-funded AGW research and a lot more energy.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Geoff Sherrington spouts nonsensical delusions  “Bruce Ames’ [ ] plausible, but wrong, animal-based test for human chemical carcinogens runs parallel to GHG in climate change structure.

      Heartland Institute denialistic jibber-jabber by Geoff Sherrington, science by FOMD

      The Ames Test isn’t an animal test at all, is it Climate Etc readers?

      The Ames Test

      The Ames test is a widely employed method that uses bacteria to test whether a given chemical can cause cancer.

      More formally, it is a biological assay to assess the mutagenic potential of chemical compounds.

      A positive test indicates that the chemical is mutagenic and therefore may act as a carcinogen, because cancer is often linked to mutation. The test serves as a quick and convenient assay to estimate the carcinogenic potential of a compound because standard carcinogen assays on mice and rats are time-consuming (taking two to three years to complete) and expensive.

      The test was used to identify a number of compounds previously used in commercial products as potential carcinogens. Examples include tris(2,3-dibromopropyl)phosphate, which was used as a flame retardant in plastic and textiles such as children’s sleepwear, and furylfuramide which was used as an antibacterial additive in food in Japan in 1960s and 1970s.

      Bruce Ames himself argued against linear dose-response extrapolation from the high dose used in carcinogenesis tests in animal systems to the lower dose of chemicals normally encountered in human exposure, as the results may be false positives due to mitogenic response caused by the artificially high dose of chemicals used in such tests.

      He also cautioned against the “hysteria over tiny traces of chemicals that may or may not cause cancer”, that “completely drives out the major risks you should be aware of.”

      Indeed, there are striking parallels between prudent avoidance of “long-tail” cancer-risk (and nowadays, autism-risk) and prudent avoidance of “long-tail” climate-change risk.

      That’s scientific common-sense, eh Climate Etc readers?

      Conclusion  It’s prudent not to deliberately ingest mutagenic chemicals (even if they’re tasty or cheap), and it’s prudent not to deliberately double the CO2 levels of our planet (even if its convenient or cheap).

      Thank you, Geoff Sherrington, for reminding us of the striking parallels between cancer-risk denialism and climate-change denialism!

      \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • FOMD,

      “Indeed, there are striking parallels between prudent avoidance of “long-tail” cancer-risk (and nowadays, autism-risk) and prudent avoidance of “long-tail” climate-change risk.”

      What are the striking parallels you write of?

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      FOMD remarks  “Indeed, there are striking parallels between prudent avoidance of “long-tail” cancer-risk (and nowadays, autism-risk) and prudent avoidance of “long-tail” climate-change risk.”

      Jim Zuccaro asks  “What are the striking parallels you write of?”

      The striking parallels include:

      • Criminal grand jury investigations of Big Tobacco and Big Carbon

      • Relentless willfully ignorant global-scale disinformation campaigns funded by Big Tobacco and Big Carbon

      It’s striking too that The Heartland Institute, and similar industry-funded think-tanks, work assiduously to deny (simultaneously) chemical-risks, cancer-risks, and CO2-risks.

      Thank you for your illuminating question, Jim Zuccaro!

      \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • “Heartland Institute denialistic jibber-jabber by Geoff Sherrington…”
      ____
      Yep.

    • “It’s striking too that The Heartland Institute, and similar industry-funded think-tanks, work assiduously to deny (simultaneously) chemical-risks, cancer-risks, and CO2-risks.”
      ____
      The general operational principal is:

      1) Protect profits for clients at all costs. That’s why Heartland exists.
      2) In practicing #1, there will be many casualties, including the truth.

    • Bruce Ames is a really nice guy and he developed his mutanogenesis assay to show which chemicals causes mutations in DNA; he fully expected that many man-made chemicals would prove to be mutagens and that most natural compounds wouldn’t. When the predicted effects pointed to the opposite, he changed his mind.
      Note, there were very good reasons to suppose that the body had evolved to survive ‘natural’ compounds and would be unable to cope with man-made compounds; the link between CCl4 and liver cancer was in their minds. They were not stupid in thinking that evolution had generated a ‘constrained’ system of detoxification, not stupid, but wrong.
      I met Ames when I was an undergraduate and he was most pleasant talking to the ‘kids’ at the start of their careers, what struck me most was how he thought it amusing that his data had shown him how his view of biology, especially detoxification mechanisms, was wrong.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      DocMartyn offers a pleasant [yet utterly misleading and unverifiable] personal anecdote  “I met Ames when I was an undergraduate and he was most pleasant talking to the ‘kids’ at the start of their careers, what struck me most was how he thought it amusing that his data had shown him how his view of biology, especially detoxification mechanisms, was wrong.”

      “The plural of anecdote is not data”, is it DocMartyn?

      The Ames test remains a key best-practice element of human toxicity assessment, isn’t that so DocMartyn?

      Human cancer epidemiology in recent decades has strikingly affirmed the validity of Ames testing (as Climate Etc readers can readily verify for themselves), isn’t that evident DocMartyn?

      A cosmetics manufacturer who disregarded Ames-test evidence of product-toxicity would be solidly in the wrong (both morally and legally); that’s well-established case-law *AND* strong science *AND* plain common sense, eh DocMartyn?

      Conclusion  Pleasant anecdotes by DocMartyn, hard-nosed science by FOMD!

      \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • FMOD,

      “The striking parallels include:

      • Criminal grand jury investigations of Big Tobacco and Big Carbon

      • Relentless willfully ignorant global-scale disinformation campaigns funded by Big Tobacco and Big Carbon

      It’s striking too that The Heartland Institute, and similar industry-funded think-tanks, work assiduously to deny (simultaneously) chemical-risks, cancer-risks, and CO2-risks.”

      Thanks for the answer to the question….

    • Leftists must have the consensus gene which is pretty smooth sailing for them for so as long as there are enough independent thinkers and doers outside the Eurocommie-familia who are willing to take on the risks and bear all of the consequences that facing life in the real entails. What global warming really means is we have too many in this society who have too much time on their hands because someone else is wiping their arses.

  53. In March 2010 JoNova took a good look at the magic employed by Climatologists to hide the decline, showing 3 decades of adjusting temperatures:

    When did the “funny business” begin? By 1980 Hansen and GISS had already produced graphs which were starting to neutralize the decline. His graphs of 1987 and then 2007 further reduced the decline, until the cooling from 1960 to 1975 was completely lost …[and] the cooling trend of the 1960′s to 1970′s is steadily adjusted up so that 0.3 degrees cooler gradually becomes 0.03 rising

    .

    • We could get into a discussion on the matter of GISTEMP adjustments and criticisms thereof, but it would be easier to just summarize it as:

      James Hansen: Competent with data
      Jo Nova: Incompetent with data

    • Don’t need to rely on Hansen or Nova to understand the erroneous Hansen forecasts.

    • “By 1980 Hansen and GISS had already produced graphs which were starting to neutralize the decline.”
      _____
      Really, this is just plain absurd. He hid the “decline” 3 decades before it started?! Amazing!

      • Really… Hansen et al. were busy changing history by making adjustments to temperatures to hide the decline in previous decades. It is more amazing that people turn their backs on what government scientists have done. Academia and pretends not to notice and that’s a pity because we all expected more but Western schoolteachers have let us down and let the country down and have turned their backs on science.

  54. The latest EconTalk with Megan McArdle is very relevant: the upside of down
    http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2014/04/mcardle_on_fail.html

    • I gotta know right now!
      ==========

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Judth Curry praises the principle  failure is a crucial part of success

      Your comment is entirely correct Judith Curry!

      The foreseeable near-term collapse of climate-change denialism — in consequence of rising seas, heating oceans, melting ice-caps, and increasing public concerns, all without pause or obvious limits — indeed will supply major psychological benefits to practitioners of denialism.

      LIke “growing up”, for example!

      \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • “…rising seas, heating oceans, melting ice-caps, and increasing public concerns, all without pause or obvious limits — indeed will supply major psychological benefits to practitioners of denialism.”
      ____
      Sometimes those little nudges back from the edge are just what one needs to get their memeplex back on a more sustainable basis.

  55. Bart R “Dyson’s writing isn’t Science when it focuses so nearly exclusively on ad hom, and has been so focused for a long, long time.”

    It amazes me how warmists live in such an uninformed bubble. To accuse Dyson of ad homs while the warmists routinely use innuendo to link realists to Nazis (through the common “denialist” slur) is the height of hypocrisy and ludicrous. If warmists were interested in logically attacking illogical arguments, they could easily use a term such as “rejectionist.” However, they never do. It is truly reprehensible that alleged scientists, such as Hansen and Mann, routinely use the “denier” slur in an attempt to intimidate those who question their poorly performing models. If they were true scientists, they would be tolerant of challenges to their work. Instead, they are ideologues using their “science” to push an agenda. As such, they are entitled to very little respect and a great deal of criticism. Things have gotten so gobsmackingly goofy that as temperatures diverge more from what was predicted, the warmists increase the confidence ranges in their poorly performing models.

    JD

    • JD Ohio | April 22, 2014 at 3:43 pm |

      You’re amazed? Really? Your post sounds more like cynical propagandizing on invalid bases.

      What’s uninformed about reading FJ Dyson thoroughly enough to spot when someone says things about Dyson’s writings that are malarky? That would be the opposite of uninformed. Though, as I’m not “warmist”, but “Forcist”, perhaps that’s just a sign that you live in an uninformed bubble.. Are you a warmist?

      Since I don’t link anyone to anyone, and it appears you readily do, perhaps your offensive and far over the line of the letter of Dr. Curry’s moderation policy comment’s height in hypocrisy is a bit taller than you realize? It’s certainly more ludicrous than your comment seems to be aware of, JD.

      If anyone’s interested in attacking illogical arguments, they could easily just stick to logic, and avoid labels for the people who make them, as the ad personam fallacy isn’t logical.. Why does your comment promote fallacy, under the guise of logic? Is it trying to obtain the halo of logic without the trouble of having to stick to logic’s conclusions?

      More harangue than argument, the claim appears so twistedly full of self-loathing, Lewandowski’s methods might insinuate shared familial physical characteristics with Dr.’s Hansen and Mann. That too would be an ad hom thing in a blog comment, but still mild compared to yours, no? See how rapidly commentary gets illogical, with a focus on names and personality traits instead of facts about phenomena inferred from observation?

      GCM’s don’t make predictions about the real climate. People making predictions based on GCM’s don’t demonstrate a firm grasp of how GCM’s work. Last I checked, most of the people in the mainstream of science were pretty familiar with these limitations precluding effective prediction by GCM, so logic must conclude that by harping on “model predictions”, you comment seeks to obtain disapproval to make its own invalid argument seem less absurd.

    • Bart R “More harangue than argument, the claim appears so twistedly full of self-loathing, Lewandowski’s methods might insinuate shared familial physical characteristics with Dr.’s Hansen and Mann.”

      Absolutely hilarious that you refer to my claim as being linked to “self-loathing” while you accuse Dyson of engaging in ad homs. Interesting that you don’t discuss the use of the d-word by Hansen & Mann and their intolerance, which was the main focus of my post.

      Won’t waste my time any more responding to your “comments” which are logic and content free.

      JD

    • JD Ohio | April 22, 2014 at 5:06 pm |

      Mann’s spiteful loathesome invective is excuse for Dyson’s malicious attacks on strangers?

      So.. you’re arguing the logic of quid pro quo?

      It would be naive to point out Dyson’s been around slamming people a lot longer than Mann, given that Mosher is correct to point out that personalization of science has been around for longer than science itself, so picking on that one small fish that is just swimming in the same ocean of sewage as has been around forever smacks of unfairness.

      But I’m not a freaking monument to fairness, and I don’t claim to be. Let Mann and Dyson both clean up their acts if you want fairness. If they’re the only two who do, it would still be a marked improvement. Not that I claim to be representative of that better world where people who earn derision avoid it by the mealy-mouthedness of those who fear they might offend. Still, it sounds like you want Hansen and Mann to be.

      If so, we could start closer to home. You could start first.

      Otherwise, you just prove me right. Not that we need further proof.

  56. Blunders have a salutary effect only if one learns from them. When they become enshrined into paradigms by the uncritical, junk science is the stubborn result.

  57. Blunders? You want to talk blunders?

    Predictions from the first Earth Day (by way of the Corner at NRO):

    http://ricochet.com/13-ridiculous-predictions-made-earth-day-1970/

  58. Pingback: Climatologist Judith Curry levels both barrels against alarmist climate science | Watts Up With That?

  59. @JC: This came up during my recent ‘debate’ with Kevin Trenberth. I argued that there are very few facts in all this

    Of the thousands of department chairmen in the US, it would be interesting to know which of them have expressed an even lower opinion than this of their colleagues’ understanding of their field.

    • Marvelous metric there, for the rot in the field. Glad you noticed, Pratt.
      =============

    • I saw your comment over at WUWT and will repeat my response here.

      My guess is that there’s plenty of Department of Economics Chairmen in the US with a similar opinion of their field. Especially so after the financial crises. The Dismal Science shares a defining characteristic with Climate Science. The individual parts might be explainable, but trying to model the whole is fraught with propagating uncertainties. In Economics, it is customary for quantitative analyses to be accompanied by several qualifications. Should we expect any different in Climate Science?

  60. William McClenney

    @JC: “This came up during my recent ‘debate’ with Kevin Trenberth. I argued that there are very few facts in all this”

    Well, somewhere in all of that feldercarb is the fact that at the end of the last extreme interglacial, sea level, the ultimate arbiter of climate change, went somewhere between 1 to almost 2 orders of magnitude higher than the IPCC SRES A1F1 “worst case, business as usual” scenario of +0.59M above present-day MSL for the end of the last half-precession cycle old extreme interglacial.

    http://www.350.me.uk/TR/Hansen/GlobalSeauow045009.pdf

    http://lin.irk.ru/pdf/6696.pdf

    If we are to separate the anthropogenic climate “signal” from the most recent end extreme interglacial (the Holocene?) climate “noise” then we are going to simply have to get our climate “signal” an order of magnitude at least, just to register as normal end extreme interglacial climate “noise”.

    It would be good, of course, if we could ratchet the anthropogenic climate signal more than 2 orders of magnitude, just in case…… But we must also consider the last time we were at an eccentricity minimal; MIS-11, like we are now, at the half-precession old Holocene.

    Of course, all that gets you is this:

    http://www.researchgate.net/publication/240752030_A_sustained_21_m_highstand_during_MIS_11_(400_ka)_direct_fossil_and_sedimentary_evidence_from_Bermuda._Quaternary_Science_Reviews_28_271-285/file/9c96051c7177e8b1b2.pdf

    The most recent major climate oscillation occurred at the mid-Brunhes, about ~400kya, when last we were at an eccentricity minima. For the past 4 or so eccentricity cycles we have experienced deeper lows and higher highs. Going back 2 ~400kyr cycles buys you the half-precession or so old interglacial known as MIS-19, during the mid Pleistocene Transition.

    We will either “go long” like MIS-11 did, or we won’t, like MIS-19 didn’t.

    The only climate mitigant proposed to date that might impede or delay onset of the next glacial is CO2. The proposal is before us to remove that speedbump to glacial inception.

    Your considered opinions, please.

    • So, we can’t get catastrophically warm but we can get catastrophically cold. All we need now is proof that AnthroCO2 cools the globe. Gentlemen, restart your physics.
      ==============

  61. This reminds me of how the opposite happens in physics. Einstein notoriously scoffed at the expanding universe theory, even though his own equations predicted it. So he rigged the maths. But when the observations showed otherwise, he came back and self-corrected. Ohhhh if only we could get a dose of that in climatology. Great article about it here: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/history-big-bang-theory-180951168/?no-ist

    “When Lemaître alerted Einstein to what he’d found, Einstein scoffed. He thought Lemaître was pushing the math too far. So certain was Einstein that the universe, as a whole, was eternal and unchanging, that he not only dismissed mathematical analyses that attested to the contrary, he inserted a modest amendment into his equations to ensure that the math would accommodate his prejudice.

    And prejudice it was. In 1929, the astronomical observations of Edwin Hubble, using the powerful telescope at Mount Wilson Observatory, revealed that distant galaxies are all rushing away. The universe is expanding. Einstein gave himself a euphemistic slap in the forehead, a reprimand for not trusting results coming out of his own equations, and brought his thinking—and his equations—into line with the data.”

    I love that physics, even still today, challenges, proves, corrects the general theory of relativity, one of the great shinning beacons of what real science is and should be.

  62. Coincidentally, it occurred to me a few weeks ago that Kelvin’s great blunder over the age of the Earth is probably more relevant to the topic of climate change than the oft-mention failure of the geological establishment to recognise the validity of plate tectonics. My blog post on this is here:

    http://jonathanabbott99.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/kelvin/

  63. Geoff Sherrington

    I am apalled by the poor quality of the responses to my post, which was offered in neutral way to assist comprehension by those wlling to learn from the considerable scientific experience that went into my recommendation that much wisdom was expressed by Edith Efon in The Apocalyptics.
    I doubt that anyone read the 800 or so pages before shooting off at the mouth.
    There was a flood of ignorant posts expressed by means absolutely anthitetic to good science.
    For example, there were confident statements that I was in league with Heartland Institute. IIRC, I once emailed Heartland several years ago to ask their purpose and left it at that. I have no connections with Heartland. I have never quoted from them, but because I’m an experienced, neutral, successful scientist I would have no reservations about lifting original data from a source with Heartland on the cover. The data matter. The label is meaningless in science.
    All of what I wrote was in relation to the Efron book, publidhed 1984 and reflecting conclusions then made.
    Those of you wvho mentioned Heartland and/or tobacco are 100% guilty of data fabrication about my non-existent links. I assume that if you invent stories like that, you also invent stories sbout science starting with a knowledge data base of zero. Hand in yor science badges if you have any and go away.
    Intellectual laziness underpins Jim’s question about the GHG /cancer s!care case links. Just read the darn book and be wiser. Do your own homework.
    The man-made chemical scare had no demonstrated existence in science, yet a huge Establishment ‘correct’ narrative was constructed on essentially no evidence.. An expensive beaucracy was created with coercive powers. It led to many USA laws and amendments that still hang around today, unwanted. The whole thing was smoke and mirrors.
    Those are some of the parallels that many would see with global warming doubts.
    TheAmes test is not the same as the animal teting for carcinogens and mutagens in rodents, extrapolated to humans. Many chemicals were classed as human carcinogens from animal tests. Many were later retracted. The modern list of known human carcinogens has about 30 entries.
    As Ames now admits, the plausible hypothesis that animal tests were valid for humans was wrong. Vast research sums were wasted. Some see parallels with the global warming story. Some serial pests like the late Stephen Schnieder and the Ehrlichs took part in both with stories of the end of the Earth as we know it.
    The man-made cancer epidemic that never was, wasswallowed awareness hook line and sinker by hundreds of Establishment scientists. Do ee have a similar situation eith global warming?

    • Geoff:

      As usual, you’re much too generous. An amused response is all that the predictable Pavlovian prattle from unaccomplished residents of the peanut gallery here really deserves. Cheers!

  64. @Jim Zuccaro
    You forgot some of the major ways in which Big Tobacco and Big Carbon are NOT similar:
    1) CAGW is far, far, far more well funded than “Big Carbon”. If anything, the fossil fuel industry contributes more to CAGW institutions than any other entity except governments. The same could not be said of NIH/independent researchers vs. Big Tobacco
    2) Big Carbon actually provides real, tangible benefits to billions of people, while Big Tobacco was nothing more than a habit forming recreation
    3) The remedy for Big Tobacco was to lower costs for its consumers (i.e. stop smoking as well as cough up billions in damages) while the remedy for Big Carbon is to raise costs for its non-consumption
    The list goes on and on.
    As for long tail – what a load of crock. If we really are concerned about long tail risks, there are a multitude of better (i.e. larger tail) issues to be concerned about: dino-killer asteroids, impending end of cheap fossil fuel energy, Idiocracy-ification of the first world, etc etc.

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  67. JC : With regards to climate science, the biggest concern that I have is the insistence on ‘the facts.’

    AGW is about a rising-GHG-driven radiative imbalance. Which says to me, that the one big fact we do want, is a reliable, absolute measurement of both incoming and outgoing radiation.

    Which we don’t seem to have, as I understand it. If we did, the whole argument would soon be over, would it not?

  68. Thanks for this superb quotation from Dyson, that I am going to use soon.
    So far, my favourite quote was from a famous French humorist, Pierre Dac, who understood the difficulty of the scientific endeavour: the most difficult thing when you are right is to prove that you are not wrong.

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