‘Scientist’: the evolving story of a word

by Judith Curry

Tracing the acceptance or rejection of “scientist” among researchers not only gives us a history of a word—it also provides insight into the self-image of scientific researchers in the English-speaking world in a time when the social and cultural status of “science” was undergoing tremendous changes. – Melinda Baldwin

In the most recent Open thread, I linked to a post by Melinda Baldwin The history of ‘scientist’. This is a fascinating topic and a relevant one as well. The debate about expertise and who is a ‘climate scientist’ has been discussed a number of times at Climate Etc., most recently Uneasy expertise .

Here are some excerpts from Baldwin’s piece:

In Britain, many researchers viewed “scientist” as a term that threatened their social and intellectual identity, a term that would open science up to any “Barney Bunkum” rather than confirm it as a selective, expert endeavor. Most nineteenth-century scientific researchers in Great Britain preferred another term: “man of science.” The analogue for this term was “man of letters”—a figure who attracted great intellectual respect in nineteenth-century Britain. “Man of science,” of course, also had the benefit of being gendered, clearly conveying that science was a respectable intellectual endeavor pursued only by the more serious and intelligent sex.

“Scientist” met with a friendlier reception across the Atlantic. By the 1870s, “scientist” had replaced “man of science” in the United States. Interestingly, the term was embraced partly in order to distinguish the American “scientist,” a figure devoted to “pure” research, from the “professional,” who used scientific knowledge to pursue commercial gains.

Feelings against “scientist” in Britain endured well into the twentieth century. In 1924, “scientist” once again became the topic of discussion in a periodical, this time in the influential specialist weekly Nature. Physicist Norman Campbell sent a Letter to the Editor of Nature asking him to reconsider the journal’s policy of avoiding “scientist.” He admitted that the word had once been problematic; it had been coined at a time “when scientists were in some trouble about their style” and “were accused, with some truth, of being slovenly.” Campbell argued, however, that such questions of “style” were no longer a concern—the scientist had now secured social respect. Furthermore, said Campbell, the alternatives were old-fashioned; indeed, “man of science” was outright offensive to the increasing number of women in science.   JC comment: Slovenly!!!

Dan Hughes subsequently emailed me a link to the 1964 paper by Sydney Ross entitled Scientist: The story of a word.  This paper provides some broader historical insights. Excerpts:

To the historian of science the present story is significant because it marks in a dramatic way the transition of the cultivation of science from the hands of the amateur to those of the professional. The designation scientist, with its overtones of specialism and professionalism (cf. dentist, pediatrist, etc.) was not in accord with the persona that the gifted amateur had of himself and his scientific pursuits ; his ideal was that of a man liberally educated, whose avocation was science as an intellectual cum philanthropic recreation, to which he might indeed devote most of his time without ever surrendering his claim to be a private gentleman of wide culture. In particular, to be thought of as pursuing science for money was distasteful. Even men like Davy and Faraday, who actually earned their livelihoods by the practice of science, were so imbued by this attitude as to reject opportunities of enriching themselves by patenting or otherwise restricting the publication of their inventions. The genuine amateurs and the actual professionals, who still maintained the same ideals as the amateurs, chose science for its own sake and regarded themselves as benefactors of mankind. To them the word scientist implied making a business of science; it degraded their labours of love to a drudgery for profits or salary.

By way of introduction to our story of scientist we should glance at the words science and scientific. Science entered the English language in the Middle Ages as a French importation synonymous with knowledge. It soon gained the connotation of accurate and systematized knowledge. One had ‘scientific knowledge’ when he had arrived at it demonstratively, that is, by a syllogism that started from necessary first principles grasped by pure reason or intuition.  The word entered the Romance languages with this meaning, but came into English only as late as 1600.

The linguistically curious phrase scientific knowledge was not a tautology: its purpose was to create a distinction between common knowledge and scientific knowledge. From now on, science and knowledge were not to be considered as synonymous: science stood for a particular kind of knowledge–firmer and less fallible knowledge — whether that knowledge is to be derived, as Aristotle had taught, by straight deductive logic; or whether, as Bacon was the first to apprehend, it must gradually evolve, using observation and experiment, by refining and clarifying its former partial truths.

The sciences, as understood by the Scholastic philosophers in the Aristotelian sense, were specialized branches of philosophy, and included the seven sciences of mediaeval learning: grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy. When the number of sciences was enlarged, they were classified under the headings of natural, moral, and first philosophy (or metaphysics). But we actually find Grosseteste, the 13th-century advocate of experimental science, maintaining that ‘demonstrative’ knowledge was not possible in the natural sciences and therefore seeking to deny them the title of sciences : ‘natural philosophy offers its explanations probably rather than scientifically . . . . Only in mathematics is there science and demonstration.’

Science retained as one of its meanings any knowledge acquired by study, or any skill acquired by practice. But another meaning was also current in the language of 18th- and early 19th-century England. The claim made by Newton and rejected by Locke was now conceded: any kind of knowledge acquired byobservation or experiment was freely called scientific and admitted to the company of the older sciences, which had not yet lost their claim to that title. The precise classifications of the philosophies and theirconstituent Sciences were the technical jargon of the Universities; outside the classrooms a related, though looser, usage held–the terms philosophy and science were interchangeable in certain connexions: e.g.,experimental science or experimental philosophy; and moral science or moral philosophy.

The period of synonymity lasted about fifty years, approximately 1800-1850; increasingly during that time the consensus of opinion favoured the allocation of philosophy to the theological and metaphysical, and science to the experimental and physical branches of knowledge. We see the latter word brought into prominence with its modern meaning in the creation of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (1831).

The word science in common speech came to have the dominant meaning of ‘natural and physical science,’ while other applications sank into disuse. The growing prestige of physical science in the 19th century explains why it could thus arrogate to itself the word previously used for all knowledge.

With the new meaning of science the need to designate a man of science became more pressing. Hitherto philosopher had served, but, as I have said, philosophy had narrowed in meaning to exclude natural philosophy, except in the minds and mouths of an older generation. An English man of science who called himself a philosopher now did so rather self-consciously, or hastened to qualify the name with the adjectives ‘experimental’ or ‘natural.’

Today, science denotes more than physical science: any discipline is said to be scientific when it consciously employs mental attitudes and techniques developed by practitioners of physical science: skepticism of authority; dispassionate description of phenomena; the framing of hypotheses capable of being tested; and the measurement of the limits of reliability of data. Examples of this usage occur in the expressions ‘the biological sciences’ and ‘the social sciences,’ both of which were in use before the end of the 19th century. One observes, however, that a higher status is claimed by and generally accorded to the physical and biological sciences, and to physics in particular. Perhaps as a result, physicists display an intellectual arrogance and snobbishness that is sufficiently pronounced to be recognizable as a professional characteristic. JC comment: Ha ha

The paper presages many of the problems surrounding climate science:

The patient, dedicated men and women, the living realities of the word scientist, working in laboratories and communicating in an esoteric language only with their peers, do not satisfy the general craving for definitive answers to social, economic, and political problems, which, so the great half-educated has been led to expect, ‘science ‘ has it in its power to deliver. An abstraction named ‘ the scientist ‘ has been given form in people’s minds as a new figure of authority, corresponding to the priest or witch-doctor of a more primitive culture, whose ‘scientific’ statements can be accepted with child-like reliance. The notion is dangerous not merely because it is untrue but because it is irrational. The quest for absolute scientific validity is as hopeless as the quest for the philosopher’s stone. There may be incidental good in a political or religious philosophy that claims ‘ Scientific ‘ authority and that stands ready to identify itself with the ready-made image in the popular mind of the infallibility of science; but the willingness to assume and exploit that role betrays the unprincipled shrewdness of the publicist.

In the history of the interactions between science and society we have already experienced the effects of the missionary zeal that stems from such a combination of moral and scientific fervour; it has been the corrosive solvent of much that we may now regret having lost.

JC reflections

These essays, communicating many aspects of science history of which I was previously unaware, have seeded several thoughts regarding the  evolving story of ‘scientist’.

I had a chuckle about the concern that “when scientists were in some trouble about their style” and “were accused, with some truth, of being slovenly.”  Clearly this was a big deal a century ago; these days, scientists tend to wear their slovenliness and disregard for style as a badge of their seriousness.

This made me ask the question: What aspects of our current culture as it relates to science might be regarded as equally superficial?   I see four major social/cultural drivers of change to the status of science and scientists:

I. The radical implications of the internet are acting to democratize science.  Blogs are conducting post publication peer review and we are seeing the development of internet scientific communities on blogs that are acting as  ‘clubs’ for independent scientists that focus on addressing scientific issues that are relevant to public debates.  These developments are challenging traditional notions of expertise, especially as independent scientists are cited in the mainstream media and are invited to present evidence at government hearings.  Scientists who belong to the right ‘clubs’ (universities, professional societies) regard this membership as conferring expertise in public debates involving science, and they tend to be dismissive of independent scientists. Independent scientists, in the mode of the 19th century ‘man of science’, are relegated by scientists who belong to the right clubs to a lower  ‘amateur’ status (even if they publish in journals) apparently because they don’t belong to the ‘clubs’ (Nic Lewis and Steve Mosher are two examples from the climate field that have been under discussion on recent threads; Nic Lewis fits quite well the 19th century image of ‘man of science’).

II.  Massive government spending on scientific research (since roughly the 1960’s), which is evolving more and more in the direction of  ‘use inspired research‘, taking scientists more in the direction of ‘professional’ rather than ‘pure’.  Scientists employed in universities are under increasing pressure from their universities and from funding agencies to engage with industry and policy makers.  Pure research, and research and research that is at odds with prevailing paradigms on urgent issues of the day, are finding it increasingly difficult to obtain government funding (leaving these areas ripe for independent scientists that aren’t following the research $$).

III. Growing complexity of scientific problems.  Scientists are being asked to address increasingly complex problems of  social, economic, and political relevance.  It is becoming increasingly difficult  to define what constitutes ‘science’ –  see these previous posts What separates science from non-science? and The scientific method.  The epistemology of highly complex computer models is a major outstanding issue is scientific research on complex problems.  The problems, especially wicked ones, have moral and ethical dimensions as well.  Philosophy is of growing relevance to the scientific investigations of complex and wicked problems.

IV.  The politicization of scientific expertise.  Sydney Ross states: There may be incidental good in a political or religious philosophy that claims ‘Scientific ‘ authority and that stands ready to identify itself with the ready-made image in the popular mind of the infallibility of science; but the willingness to assume and exploit that role betrays the unprincipled shrewdness of the publicist.  Well that was the perspective from 1964:  this unfortunately seems to be the norm in 21st century.  It is not just politicians and political advocates using science in this way (see  Newton’s Laws of Expertise); a very unfortunate contributor to this problem is issue advocacy by scientists themselves.

OK, so what does all this imply for climate science?  Climate science is arguably at the forefront of social/cultural drivers of change to the status of science and scientists.

Because climate science transcends many disciplines (and not just those commonly recognized as ‘science’), the appellation and approach of ‘natural philosophy’ may be better suited.  From the Wikipedia: Natural philosophy pertains to the work of analysis and synthesis of common experience and argumentation to explain or describe nature.  The term science, as in natural science, gained its modern meaning when acquiring knowledge through experiments (special experiences) under the scientific method became its own specialized branch of study apart from natural philosophy.

And I find the democratization of climate science by internet to be absolutely fascinating, and I would like to facilitate this in any way that I can.





144 responses to “‘Scientist’: the evolving story of a word

  1. How can so many who know so little be certain of so much?

    • Now what in the world has such a philosophy [i.e. Schopenhauer’s] to do with that alma mater, the good, substantial university philosophy, which, burdened with a hundred intentions and a thousand considerations, proceeds on its course cautiously tacking, since at all times it has before its eyes the fear of the Lord, the will of the publisher, the encouragement of students, the goodwill of colleagues, the course of current politics, the momentary tendency of the public, and Heaven knows what else? Or what has my silent and serious search for truth in common with the yelling school disputations of the chairs and benches, whose most secret motives are always personal aims?” ~Arthur Schopenhauer (the Professors of Philosophy)

  2. Steven Mosher

    I’ve always liked Labov’s study of word boundaries.
    I suspect that most denizens who studied linguistics will be aware of it, others might enjoy it

    here is an interesting blog on it


    • Think when it comes to science most people expect, and want, to be shown ISO symbols and not cup/saucer hybrids.

    • I don’t know Mosher. They all looked like cups to me because where I grew up cups have one handle or are much deeper than wide (so the body acts as a handle). Bowls have no handles and you eat out of them with a spoon. Without handles, the entire top row would look like bowls to me. The rest are cups with or without handles.

      Besides, isn’t ‘priming’ one of those phenomena that have been shown to be specious with more recent studies regressing to the mean?

    • michael hart

      Some might say that they are all donuts, topologically speaking.

  3. stevefitzpatrick

    “Climate science is arguably at the forefront of social/cultural drivers of change to the status of science and scientists.”

    Indeed, and not for the better. Advocacy by climate scientists damages the scientist ‘brand’ by reducing science and scientists to the level of political propaganda and Washington lobbyists. Shame on them.

  4. The split between those who describe themselves as engineers and those who call themselves applied scientists is a funny boundary; Metallurgy is in the domain of material science and also engineering, some Metallurgists are engineers and some are scientists.

    Lab coats were originally black, worn by Medics during dissections, the color chosen as a sign of respect for the dead.

    • “Computer science” is another funny one. It’s a mishmash of math and engineering, with some linguistics and other assorted cats and dogs thrown in. But it’s not science.

      • Steven Mosher

        Read more.
        Or let me ask you this. You are debating the meaning of a term. Is that science? Is there a science of fixing the meaning of a term?

      • Harold – as an old guy with a computer science degree and > 25 years of work across government agencies and a bunch of commercial software companies (i.e. never an IT department) there are some days when I’d agree with you, but most days when I’d definitely not.

        It is worth a chuckle that the fruits of my field have provided you with the very platform you use to disparage it, though. Maybe you could try to quit using anything involving a computer for a month and get back to me on your quality of life and whether there’s any “science” to computer computer science.

      • Who voted on our color blind red & blue? Did you?

    • David Springer

      Engineers typically don’t have graduate degrees. More work training and less classroom training. Engineers tend to be employed in private industry while applied scientists tend to be employed in academia. Just my personal impression from a few decades chained to a lab bench slaving away in places like Intel, Microsoft, and Dell.

      • Dear David
        Your are completely wrong about engineers not having degrees. In the uk it is necessary to become qualified unless you do so by a mature candidate route which is extremely onerous.
        Maybe you are confusing engineers with mechanics electricians and other such fine occupations?

      • There may be a terminological issue here. I take DS to mean what in the UK would be called a post-graduate or higher degree – a “graduate degree” I suspect in the US meaning one gained after graduation, e.g. a Masters or PhD. I further suspect that US engineers typically have a first degree, as they do in Australia (plus a requirement for continuing education to remain registered as an engineer). Faustino

      • It’s complicated. In Germany and Austria (I think it’s similar in most of continental Europe) the engineer’s degree (Dipl.Ing.) is generally equivalent to a Master’s degree. The Bologna Process is an attempt to ensure comparability in the standards and quality of higher education qualifications.

      • I obtained engineers degree (dipl Ing, Belgrade, ex Yu) and soon afterwards an MSc degree (University of London, UK). I found that the first was more demanding, exact and finally more valuable than the second, but that was some decades ago. I consider myself and always did, as an engineer, but since many people ( at least in the UK) often equate it to a car mechanic or electrician, have a lot of fun with at various non-professional social gatherings.

      • David Springer

        Faustino (Ghengis) is closest to correct. I meant masters and PhD by “graduate degree” which is US jargon. I was not aware you boys across the pond used different terminology. Mibad.


        Registered a.k.a. professional engineers, usually required for civil engineering projects, take a special test. No graduate degree is required to sit for the test.


      • Many engineers have graduate degrees, e.g. PhD, MS, etc.

      • The waters have been muddied over the use of the term ‘engineer’ (in the UK at least) by everyone who assembles, services or repairs any kind of machinery calling themselves some sort of engineer. As noted above, they are more correctly termed technicians, mechanics, etc. I must admit it irritates the hell out of me. It’s the equivalent of calling everyone that works in a hospital ‘doctor’.

        The most fundamental definition of an engineer is ‘one who applies science’ and although I am a graduate engineer who has worked in various industries for 20 years, more often than not I spend my time project managing, administrating, etc. The times I get to spend actually applying science – in troubleshooting a problem, or analysing the required performance of a proposed new system, are very precious to me.

        Anyway, there you go. I feel better now.

      • While I agree with you on some level, I am not sure that the numbers really bear out. For instance, I have a B.S. in Engineering, and then sat for the test and obtained my P.E. Subsequently I went back to school and received a M.S.
        I am in a field where it is not unusual to work along side Geologists (non engineers) and it is my experience that a lot of them have B.S. degrees as well. To enter into academia a M.S. or Ph.D. is required, so while it would be true to say that there are more “Graduate” degrees in academia, that is universally true and true for engineers as well. Some fields (that have appeal in movies and in the popular sense) the people not in academia will have Ph.D. credentials, but that is a minority. I have not seen statistics, but in my experience most of the professionals other than in academia have B.S. degrees, and it makes little difference whether they are they are engineers or not with the few exceptions of popular culture fields such as archaeologists.
        Please note that my experience is in the U.S. and in branches of science and engineering where I do not come into contact with Climate Scientists so this may be true with people with Physic’s degrees or other degrees that I am less familiar with.

      • Hank McCard

        I have BSEE, MSEE and MSSM degrees. MSSM is MIT’s terminology for a master’s degree in management science. Nonetheless, I still consider myself to be an engineer.

      • Danley Wolfe

        David Springer. In re to engineers typically do not have graduate degrees … more work training and less classroom training. I disagree on several dimensions. My focus is chemical engineering which at some US engineers has become broadened to include bioengineering, biomedical engineering and biomolecular engineering etc… A very healthy percentage of undergraduate degrees engineers go on to complete independent research and receive advanced graduate MS and PhD degrees. My own background was academic and industrial research at a Fortune 25 energy company which also hired many foreign born engineers and chemists from a wide ranges of countries. I found it to be quite interesting that persons with PhDs from UK chemical engineering schools typically did not do experimental research projects but often just completed a task at computer programming in essence developed computer code for their graduate research project. Those persons tended to be superficial task oriented approach in doing research on projects and always concerned with getting personal credit. They probably would do well with the paucity of rigor and socialization of science in the climate area.

    • The boundary between science and engineering is indeed fuzzy. Most engineering PhDs worked with were devoted to research. However, I found them to be easily trainable in real life engineering if I caught them when they were younger. Once they reach a certain seniority they get too set in their wags to listen to somebody with a basic engineering degree like me. The other scientists I shared work with seemed to be just great. We could cross boundaries back and forth, shared ideas about what we were doing, and were excellent at keeping their notes well organized.

  5. Curious George

    How about a “man of climate” or a climatist?

  6. Philosophy tried to understand the world through thought, science through observation. But philosophers observe and scientists think, so let’s all just remember that labels are not straightjackets.

  7. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Thanks to the magic of the delightful Google Books Ngram Viewer, Climate Etc readers are invited to sample for themselves usage of the words ‘science’ and ‘scientist’ and ‘scientists’, marking three great Ages of Science:

    The Age of ‘Science’  begins circa 1750

    The Age of the ‘Scientist’  begins circa 1875

    The Age of ‘Scientists’  begins circa 1930

    Note: the links at the bottom of the page produce examples from Google Books. Fun!

    As for the spirit of science — which has always been a radical spirit — there is no better source than Jonathan Israel’s A Revolution of the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy in which we read:

    This “revolution of the mind” of the 1760s and 1770s was plainly one of the greatest and most decisive shifts in the entire history of humanity, and one that cannot be comprehended without investigating the content of the great philosophical controversies of the age.

    Radical thinkers understood that the inherent links between freedom of the press, freedom of expression, individual liberty, and the advancement of knowledge universally were too close and direct to be qualified in any way. Freedom of expression and publication, “la liberté dans les écrits,” was rightly recognized by them to be an essential precondition for advancing their social, moral, and political revolution.”

    The emancipation of man via forms of government promoting the “general good” and life in a free society that accords protection to all on an equal basis, argued d’Holbach in 1770, is not an impossible dream: “if error and ignorance have forged the chains which bind peoples in oppression, if it is prejudice which perpetuates those chains, science, reason and truth will one day be able to break them” (si lerreur et l’ignorance ont forgé les chaines des peuples, si le préjugé les perpétue, la science, la raison, la vérité pourront un jour les briser).

    A noble and beautiful thought, no doubt, but was he right? That perhaps, is the question of our time.

    Continuing the great traditions of previous centuries, can 21st century science “break the chains” ideology’s moral bankruptcy and denialism’s error and ignorance?

    The world wonders! And the world *HOPES*!

    Viva la révolution scientifique!

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  8. “…climate science transcends many disciplines…”

    Or, quite understandably, does not have them? I understand the difficulty and cost of cruising the ocean trenches etc…but could we dispense therefore with the pronouncements about what is going on down there? And could the next Antarctic expedition go south to find stuff out, not to confirm a dogma? If the only melty bits of Antarctica are also the volcanic bits, that would surely be good to find out, one way or another. Something to do, at least.

    Baby steps.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      mosomoso advocates “baby steps …”

      …  not planet-plundering

      Your common-sense conservative insight is science-respecting, well-conceived, and deeply principled, mosomoso!

      \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}

    • You could research on the aims of that ill fated Antarctica mission rather than bloviating on the subject.

      There is volcanic activity under Thwaites, but not under the Pine Island Glacier, which one is moving faster?

      Seems to me that you are the one doing the baby steps and in need of picking up the pace.

      • I’m told that there’s a still active sub-glacial volcano in the vicinity of Pine Island Glacier, with an ash layer the size of Wales. That was the finding of a BAS airborne ice-sounding radar. BAS specifically name PIG as the location.

        But who knows, Bob? In a field where so little is known maybe you know more. Volcanism is only a popular subject when used to explain away past climate. Pity, really, because one good Laki-Grimsvotn style eruption series would spoil a lot of agricultural plans for a year or two – not to mention flights to climate conferences.

  9. History will condemn climate change denialists
    Robert Manne

    For the past 200 years, western culture has granted science pre-eminent cultural authority
    As global emissions increased, something surpassingly strange occurred in the realm of politics in the US – something without parallel in the history of the post-Enlightenment west since the Darwinian controversy. The emergence of a broad-based movement of thought challenging the sovereignty of science in one specialised field.

    Ah-ha… Scientific sovereignty ?? Pre-eminent cultural authority ??

  10. I used to think scientists liked to pursue discovery of truth.

    Since Global Warming, now I just assume climate scientists are clowns.


    • It’s not about gags it’s about grants. It’s not about fun it’s about funding. It’s not about pratfalls but about prestige. It’s not about how any can fit on a car but how many co-authors fit on a paper. No matter though, some people get creeped out when they meet one .

      • Scientist or Hustler? Ethics gets a bit tricky though. Save our words for Tomorrow: while it is yet today.

  11. David L. Hagen

    Knowledge or power?
    University research is increasingly becoming “big business” requiring “scientists” to make acquiring major grants a priority, and to file patents to sustain the University’s “operations” aka overhead. U.S. COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES UTILITY PATENT GRANTS, CALENDAR YEARS 1969-2012

    Much of climate alarmism seems to be undergirded by liberal antiChristian world view perspectives, claiming earth is fragile and easily pushed into catastrophic conditions, rather than robustly designed. Recommended actions often appear to impose totalitarian “mitigation” and to impose “gaia worship” rather than wise stewardship with “adaptation”.

    It appears that liberal self selection in Universities is amplifying this anti-Christian perspective. Some even try to say that Christians are anti-scientific and Christian universities should not be accredited.
    In Total Truth, Nancy Pearcey refutes that accusation that Christianity is mere “belief” and shows it founded on objective facts.
    Science historian Stephen C. Meyer addresses The Return of the God Hypothesis

    The technological and scientific revolutions were founded within the Judeo-Christian worldview. e.g., see The Christian Founders Of Science
    Scientists and their gods– Henry F. Schaefer III
    List of Christian Thinkers in Science From 1901 to 2000, “Christians have won a total of 78.3% of all the Nobel Prizes in Peace,[10] 72.5% in Chemistry, 65.3% in Physics,” Similarly Jews have “won a total of 41% of all the Nobel Prizes in economics, 28% of medicine, 26% of Physics, 19% of Chemistry, 13% of Literature and 9% of all peace awards”.

    • David Springer

      Good, David. Christianity and scientific professionalism and achievement are far, far away from mutually exclusive. To the religious person science is the study of God’s creation. To the non-religious person it’s the study of a material universe of unknown origin. In either case the object under study is the same object and its observable components do not change.

      • David Springer: Agreed.

        Good science is the pursuit of truth, wherever it leads. There is no conflict with faith, unless it is a faith that needs God to be protected from the truth.

        I don’t see climate alarmism as anti-Christian, although it is definitely supported by many people who are, in other respects, very anti-Christian. Christians believe in being good stewards of the Creation, which for at least some means that they take the threat of CAGW very seriously.

        However, in the current politically polarized climate, I think the support for CAGW has a lot more to do with a desire for more power to the State than anything to do with Christianity.

      • David L. Hagen

        I encourage you to dig deeper into the issues.
        Alarmists driving us to “mitigation” without debate over “adaptation” is unwise! Alarmists pushing “mitigation” seek to bury a hundred trillion dollars of resources, further impoverishing and starving billions of people.
        That is directly contrary to Jesus’ teaching on wise stewardship.
        Mitigation is the greatest effort to “bury treasure” ever conceived, for negligible benefit. See the Parable of the Talents.
        Matthew 25:4-30

        “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. . . .So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
        “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! . . .Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

        Mitigation does not even return today’s bank interest!
        Mitigation further puts preserving the present state of our climate over caring for the poor, contradicting the foundational expectation of religion:
        James 1:27

        Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

      • David L. Hagen

        David Springer
        Henry F. Schaefer III has an excellent book on Science and Christianity: Conflict or Coherence? The Apollos Trust; 2nd Ed. 2013 ISBN-10: 097429750X

        Focusing on explaining how a person can be both a believer in Christ and a follower of science, Dr. Schaefer compares and contrasts the tenets of the two extremes. Thus we have a first-hand account of the lively (and timely) science vs. Christianity discussions by one of the major participants in the topic.

        Unexamined presuppositions are often at the heart of the disagreement. i.e.,
        Is science “closed”, precluding God, restricting explanations to a material universe?
        Or is science “open”, allowing for both in seeking the best explanation for observations?
        Presuming science is “closed” then leads to the bias above of excluding Christians from science and accreditation.

      • I’m an atheist, and I find religion to be incompatible with science. However, by religion I mean the ones I’ve read about. I suppose somebody can create a religion which invokes a supernatural power residing in a multiverse we can’t fathom at all, and then I would be just a simple agnostic.

      • David L. Hagen

        Why? On what basis? See Open vs Closed Science above.

        How do you address the expertise and beliefs of those like Henry F. Schaefer III?

        During the comprehensive period 1981 – 1997 Professor Schaefer was the sixth most highly cited chemist in the world; out of a total of 628,000 chemists whose research was cited. The Science Citation Index indicates that his research had been cited more than 53,000 times. Professor Schaefer’s Wikipedia H-index is 105.

        See his popular lecture Scientists and their gods
        Of 10 highest IQ’s on earth, at least 8 are Theists, at least 6 are Christians

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      David L. Hagen praises “Jesus’ teaching on wise stewardship”

      Yeah! What wise stewards would choose *THIS* when Big Carbon offers *THIS*?

      The world *DOESN’T* wonder, eh David L. Hagen?

      At least, young scientists (and young voters!) no longer wonder.

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  12. Gordon Cheyne

    I like “discovery of truth”.
    When I was a lad, we studies “Natural Philosophy” at University: the study of Nature.

  13. “… natural philosophy offers its explanations probably rather than scientifically . . . . Only in mathematics is there science and demonstration…”

    My PhD is in logic (mainly; sometimes I say computer science or artificial intelligence). Working with biotech people sometimes makes me think of gold old Grosseteste and the scholastics when I ask a dumb question and they say, “Well, the way a *** scientist *** looks at it …” Once I tried to explain that in medieval terms I was the scientist, they mere pragmatics; nobody seemed to think this an interesting topic.

    It’s the same kind of reaction when I point out to MD’s that their “Doctor” is a courtesy title, unlike mine.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Your blog-name is greatly honored among scientists “Szilard”!

      From The science and politics of Leo Szilard, 1898–1964: evolution, revolution, or subversion?

      Leo Szilard pursued physics, biology, and nuclear arms control in creative and impish ways by defying traditional scientific and political methods.

      A true subversive, Szilard approached politics in the same disruptive and creative way. Behind his political drive was a “narrow margin of hope” that he gained as a child and embodied throughout his life.

      For us today, Szilard’s career raises two questions about science and politics: Are scientists more effective working inside or outside their professional and political establishments? How can policy-makers use scientists most effectively?

      A final question concerns us now. Where are the Szilards of today? Who will risk failure to do the right thing? Who will pursue that “narrow margin of hope”?

      In conclusion, Szilard’s message for scientists today is: try anything once. Work by evolution, revolution, and subversion!

      Good on `yah, Leo Szilard! May 21st century scientists embrace your scientific generation’s tradition of informed, courageous, subversive activism!

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  14. David Springer

    Climate science is a soft science. Like psychology. Or economics. The system it studies is too complex to yield firm answers. Too many interdependent sensitive variables both known and unknown. The practitioners of the art are in denial about its soft nature. In their zeal to make it appear a hard science they make themselves appear as a cult with unquestionable dogma.

  15. Science is a process of inquiry into the behavior of nature. That process can be applied to many areas of sounding out our world around us.

    “…skepticism of authority; dispassionate description of phenomena; the framing of hypotheses capable of being tested; and the measurement of the limits of reliability of data.”

    The practitioner who uses these four components of scientific inquiry are called:…scientists.

    Missing in these four descriptions of the process of scientific pursuit is: publicist, advocate. Mann, Hansen, Trenberth, Schmidt, etc. dabble in longitudinal meteorology and are employed in full time persuasive rhetoric: philosopher kings. They decry any voice of dissent.

    • FOMD

      Hansen’s behavior as a publicist makes him unbelievable as an authoritative source which in turn makes his behavior as a scientist unbelievable. Richard Nixon’s dirty tricks made him a political pariah just as Hansen’s dirty tricks (Senate window open air conditioning off) makes him a tainted source of information.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      From Roger Pielke Jr’s respectful tribute James Hansen: Responsible Scientist and Advocate

      Roger Pielke Jr’s (concludes) “James Hansen shows respect for both democratic practices and for the role of science in democracy.

      Best wishes to Jim Hansen as he takes on new challenges!

      Conclusion  Climate Etc readers can take a lesson in civility and respect-for-science from *BOTH* James Hansen *AND* Roger Pielke Jr!

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  16. Mark Goldstone

    I think it’s a real problem when the role of science becomes diminished in our society. To me a scientist is a person who undertakes objective research and testing against a disprovable hypothesis in order to determine objective truths.
    The peer review process is supposed to be a tool to identify significant flaws in this scientific approach and its findings.
    The democratisation of science has meant that people, hitherto considered unqualified, are also able to review this work. I am somewhat concerned that this is a poor substitute for what was intended. Even though I have three separate qualifications; I am very cautious about making comment about research that I know to be outside of my expertise and I don’t think spending a few hours or days reading wikipedia is a substitute for the years of study that scientists have to undertake. In spite of the Hollywood view of college kids, it still takes lots of hard work and study to get a degree or at least a post-graduate degree.
    However, I would also be cautious about invalidating people’s concerns that the truth is being hidden or subverted. Hence there is a strong need for the basis of research to be fully available and not hidden behind paywalled journal sites.
    To some extent the approach of some climate scientists has caused a breakdown of trust, but that is because it has become politicised, perhaps in the pursuit of grants and so on. However, society has also contributed to this through the removal of tenure and by dictating that grants applications have to be “relevant” to matters of the day or funded by industry. Pure research should not take concern of contemporary issues and given all the spin-offs society should be willing to provides some funds in this manner. Without that Scientists are reduced to artisans who are constantly chasing the mighty dollar.
    Sorry for the rambling, but what do you expect from somebody who has a doctor of philosophy!

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Mark Goldstone asks “What do you expect from somebody who has a doctor of philosophy!”

      That is a fine question Mark Goldstone!

      Answer  The public expects similar respect for science, and the implications of science, that doctor of philosophy Jorge Mario Bergoglio so generously shares with the world:

      Today we have changed our natural environment to such an extent that scientists are redefining the current period as the Age of the Anthropocene, that is to say an age when human action, through the use of fossil fuels, is having a decisive impact on the planet.

      If current trends continue, this century will witness unprecedented climate changes and ecosystem destruction that will severely impact us all.

      The massive fossil fuel use at the heart of the global energy system deeply disrupts the Earth’s climate and acidifies the world’s oceans. The warming and associated extreme weather will reach unprecedented levels in our children’s life times and 40% of the world’s poor, who have a minimal role in generating global pollution, are likely to suffer the most. Industrial-scale agricultural practices are transforming landscapes around the world, disrupting ecosystems and threatening the diversity and survival of species on a planetary scale.

      Human action which is not respectful of nature becomes a boomerang for human beings that creates inequality and extends what Pope Francis has termed “the globalization of indifference” and the “economy of exclusion” (Evangelii Gaudium), which themselves endanger solidarity with present and future generations.

      Climate Etc readers thank you for that fine question, Mark Goldstone!

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      • The massive fossil fuel use at the heart of the global energy system deeply disrupts the Earth’s climate and acidifies the world’s oceans. The warming and associated extreme weather will reach unprecedented levels in our children’s life times and 40% of the world’s poor, who have a minimal role in generating global pollution, are likely to suffer the most. Industrial-scale agricultural practices are transforming landscapes around the world, disrupting ecosystems and threatening the diversity and survival of species on a planetary scale.

        Actual data shows that all the climate models are wrong. Actual data shows that all this alarmist, chicken little, talk is not based on actual data and not based on actual science. When the Models are always wrong, the Theory is always wrong. Find some real data to support the flawed forecasts or be prepared to be proven wrong by actual real data. You have nothing working for you.
        Your Alarmist theory and model output has no chance. I has been proven to be wrong. Actual Data does that!

    • David Springer

      I didn’t spend a few hours or days on wikipedia. Closer to the last 10 years and a lot more than wikipedia. I’m a retired computer scientist (Dell, 1999 was my last year) and I have a lot of time on my hands and a lifetime of recreational study in a wide range of sciences from cosmology to biology just because it all interests me. Other guys watch sports while I read science journals.

    • David Springer

      What happened to the climate science profession is the internet exposed it to polymaths like me who point out the flaws and brother the flaws are legion.

  17. I’m in moderation what have I done wrong?

    • I’ve been in moderation a few times lately, after several years with nary a mod, defective intercept system I fear.


    • David Springer

      There is something in wordpress blogs called a “black list” which is a list of words when found in a comment triggers automatic moderation of the comment. A blacklisted word found inside another word will also trigger moderation. For instance the word t r o l l is blacklisted. Other innocent words such as cont.rolled, cont.rolling, patro.lled, etc will also trigger moderation.

      Curry has added a number of additional words to the standard list in an attempt to further civilize the joint.

    • Sometimes landing in moderation is pretty random (no obvious reason). I clear the moderation bin as frequently as I can.

  18. Stacey,

    Do not succumb ter fear and guilt re bein’ in moderation-
    probably a blip … Fear and guilt are emotional triggers used
    in history re climate by shamen, ( likewise philosopher kings
    on the hill, ) fer shaMANNian purposes of herd control and
    benefit ter themselves.

    Herewith a “THought fer Today” borrowed from the irreverant
    kim ( borrowed in turn from Dylan Thomas.)

    “Wage, wage war against
    the lying and the fright.”


    * kim, where-r-u?

  19. Take a look at Scottish Skeptic http://scottishsceptic.co.uk/2014/07/13/why-climate-engineers-beat-the-climate-academics for a terrific essay on the difference between “Climate Scientist” and “Climate Engineer”. Enlightening.

  20. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    From Instinct and Reason, Philosophically Investigated (1836):

    Thomas Jarrold reminded us (in 1836):

    “By reasoning from facts, Astronomy and Chemistry and every other science were discovered. Theories on these subjects succeeded each other, but the facts remained, and when they became numerous, some Master mind viewed them in relation to each other and discovered a principle in which all harmonized and by which all are directed.

    The Pontifical Academy reasons from science:

    Stabilizing the Climate and Giving Energy Access to All with an Inclusive Economy  These are matters on which all religions and individuals of goodwill can agree. These are matters that today’s young people around the world will embrace, as a way to shape a better world. Our message is one of urgent warning, for the dangers of the Anthropocene are real and the injustice of globalization of indifference is serious. Yet our message is also one of hope and joy. A healthier, safer, more just, more prosperous, and sustainable world is within reach.”

    In previous centuries, as in the present century, the syntheses of science were disturbing to the State, the Market, and the Church … and thus beneficially stimulating and challenging!

    Good on `yah, climate-scientists … for sustaining the centuries-old challenging-yet-rational traditions of science!

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  21. Two peripheral observations:
    1. The kids nowadays call them “science geeks.”
    2. Dr. Michael Mann trained as a physicist.

  22. Pingback: Judith Curry « Newsbeat1

  23. “I find the democratization of climate science by internet to be absolutely fascinating, and I would like to facilitate this in any way that I can.”

    On a related note, we used to be able to easily search Google News Archives and find old articles that showed there were droughts, fires, tornados, hurricanes just as there are today. Google has made this much harder to do. In fact, I haven’t yet figured out how to do it.

  24. “Because climate science transcends many disciplines”

    Anything with science in its name, isn’t.

    • All the Science has been done; mathematical descriptions of the properties of matter and mass, momentum, energy responses of the matter under internal and external interactions at the continuum, molecular and, appropriate, sub-molecular levels.

      Climate Science, in stark contrast, adapts previous interactions and states attained by matter to models of processes; these are not models of matter. Under the Climate Science nomenclature, almost all engineering would be Engineering Science.

      Climate Science today is more nearly correctly labeled Climate Process Engineering.

      • Steven Mosher

        climate science is more like OR

      • hmmm . . . http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operations_research

        Employing techniques from other mathematical sciences, such as mathematical modeling, statistical analysis, and mathematical optimization, operations research arrives at optimal or near-optimal solutions to complex decision-making problems. Because of its emphasis on human-technology interaction and because of its focus on practical applications, operations research has overlap with other disciplines, notablyindustrial engineering and operations management, and draws on psychology and organization science. Operations research is often concerned with determining the maximum (of profit, performance, or yield) or minimum (of loss, risk, or cost) of some real-world objective. [ edh bold ]

        I think it’s not yet there. Solely top-down, my-way-or-the-highway ‘solutions’ are not “optimal or near-optimal solutions”. Much worse yet, they never work and thus are not even solutions. Application of OR from the bottom up could be used to assist in identifying actual problems worthy of attention ( if any exist ), and good potential candidate solutions.

        And that’s not to mention that in the case of OR, “It is often considered to be a sub-field of mathematics”. Climate is no more a sub-field of mathematics than any other inherently complex physical system.

        Climate Process Modeling is probably better than Climate Process Engineering.

      • Steven Mosher

        optimal is subject to the uncertainty of your data and models.

        plus this definition is too focused on industrial OR.

        I’m thinking more of military OR.

      • It’s definitely not engineering. The achedemical CAGW playing policy advisory wonkettes pretend climate science is mature enough to conduct engineering.

        It’s a very immature science suffering from growing pangs.

  25. Thought I would try again with link
    “Thomas Young Man of Science 1773 to 1829″
    So says an English Heritage Plaque in Wellbeck Street London W1.
    His name will be familiar to all Engineers less known is his work in wave theory of light and deciphering of the Rosseta Stone.
    All that we have is due science what we do not have we await scientific endeavour.

  26. The new word is “re-start.” In the next generation of climate models, statisticians are saying there must be some solar recognition (i.e., It’s been the sun all along, stupid).

    Talking about a Science article [June 13, 2014]. Dennis Avery (see, Canada Free Press: ‘Science Recommends Climate Model Re-Start’), we now realize that, “the computer climate models are not effective at forecasting… [and] still cannot represent such huge variables as clouds and shifts in ocean currents… At the same time, new studies are revealing that the sun has an even bigger role in climate… One of the new papers finds that the amount of time the sun is obscured from the earth by clouds is “highly correlated” with temperatures over the past 50 years.”

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Is it any wonder that young scientists (and young voters too) are adamant in rejecting the willful ignorance of anti-scientific denialism?

      Example  Precisely *ZERO* far-right denialist web-sites (known to FOMD) — including Dennis Avery’s as a particularly gross offender — specifically reference and/or quote in-context from the original Science article A touch of the random:

      “One key reason climate simulations are bad at forecasting is that it’s not what they were designed to do. Researchers devised them, in the main, for another purpose: exploring how different components of the system interact on a global scale. … The models per- formed well in predicting the global mean surface temperature.”

      Has ideology-driven denialism no sense of decency, wagathon? At long last, has denialism no sense of decency?

      The world wonders!

      But young scientists (and young voters too) *DON’T* wonder!

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  27. Scientist – one who publishes WITH data, code, and assumptions listed.
    I would also like to see all grants/moneys listed for each paper as well. The extent that the feds are driving research should be of high concern for everyone.

  28. FYI: Peer review and modelling are taking some flak. A self-inflicted wound?
    1) Campbell, Hank. 2014. “The Corruption of Peer Review and Dubious Published Studies Are Harming Scientific Credibility.” The Wall
    Street Journal, July 13. http://online.wsj.com/articles/hank-campbell-the-corruption-of-peer-review-is-harming-scientific-

    “Hank Campell says that dubious studies on the danger of hurricane names may be laughable, but bad science can cause bad policy.”

    2) Cochrane, John. 2014. “New Keynesian Macroeconomic Models Don’t Support More Stimulus Spending.” Wall Street Journal, July 2, sec. Opinion.

    “The Failure of Macroeconomics. When New Keynesian models don’t yield the spending policies they want, some Keynesians abandon the models — but not the spending.”
    The report above (as quoted here) mentions “simulations” as support for conclusions.

  29. Fred Harwood

    “Logicians largely eschew epistemology. Thereby they save themselves much illogicality.”

  30. Pingback: What Is A Scientist? | Transterrestrial Musings

  31. Jeff Melcher

    Judith says: “Because climate science transcends many disciplines (and not just those commonly recognized as ‘science’), the appellation and approach of ‘natural philosophy’ may be better suited.”

    It is not clear to me that climate science does, at present, transcend many disciplines. I agree that it should do so, but…

    I have been an elected policy maker for a small jurisdiction and constituency. Experts came regularly to offer advice, and dire warnings. Reading specialists warn that the greatest problem we face is over emphasis on phonics. Math specialists warn that “drill and kill” sucks the joy out of teaching. The human resource managers warn that under accredited teachers are lowering standards, published average pay rates, and the perception of the financial health of the schools. Meanwhile the finance managers warn that the personnel costs are rising faster than modeled…

    As we go up the levels of government we see that the epidemiologists warn of influenza plague as in 1919 The economists foresee runaway inflation as in Weimar Germany or Zimbabwae. The agronomists prophesy famine due to Genetically Modified Seed. Demographers moan about unassimilated immigrants and Sanger-ites predict we are the verge of returning to back-alley abortions. Military men tell of war, nuclear devastation and a World War Four to be conducted with knapped rocks and wooden clubs. Oh, and physicists? Those that study local planetary phenomena estimate we are due to be struck by a civilization-destroying comet, or perhaps asteroid, any minute now.

    It is absolutely astonishing to me that anyone supposes that climate scientists — that branch of physicists specifically included — would threaten me with anything else BUT their own discipline as the source of ecology -destroying, civilization-ending, business-as-usual-disrupting, end of the world as we know it. I mean, a person who decides to devote her life to the study of climate is not going to come to my board and weigh in with all her PhD authority on the phonics question, is she?

    So, 97% of experts in the discipline tell me THEIR discipline deserves my priority attention. They threaten me with warmer winters, higher tides at the beach, and fewer majestic snow capped mountain vistas at Kilomanjaro and Fujiyama. Yeah, and, that’s about what I expect. I’m even prepared to accept they’re correct. It’s generally easier than arguing. What I am not clear about is why I should worry more about the transcendent dangers of warm winters than nuclear war. Or famine or plague or Lucifer’s Hammer. What gives 97% of some absolutely minimal segment of all other “scientists” the transcendent authority to order me to re-prioritize my curriculum — or anything else within my purview? Or everything else within any policy-maker’s purview? “Science Says” quite a lot, actually. But it doesn’t say why all of us should subordinate our authority to a transcendent fasces of some heretofore very minor sub-discipline so the group can grind their own little meat ax of taxes, treaties, the threat of war, and imposed regime change against a threat for which we have no measurable effect during the lifetime of the students in my charge.

    By the way, all those chemistry texts using “the ozone hole” as the prime example of the importance of “science” in our elementary school text books have long been scrapped in favor of other, newer (and more expensive) textbooks reflecting the current administrations crisis du jour. Not part of the “common core”, you know.

    • nice comment. I’ve used a related analogy: teamsters telling us we need more trucks (apologies to non US folks – US transportation union)

      • Mmmm interesting when I posted from my Iphone my name is blue indicating a link to web site which I do not have. A missing link?

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      The traditional slow-but-sure strategy of the scientific community is to pound on the facts.

      Why exactly should scientists alter a strategy that year-by-year becomes stronger-and-stronger?

      The world wonders!

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      • Pooh, Dixie

        So long as the set of facts are complete, available, and alternative explanations are addressed.

    • k scott denison

      Great comment Jeff.

    • “What gives 97% of some absolutely minimal segment of all other “scientists” the transcendent authority to order me to re-prioritize my curriculum — or anything else within my purview?” A bigger question is why so many politicians rushed to climb aboard the CAGW bandwagon at great cost to their constituents, rather than take your sensible attitude?


    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Mexican Government Heeds Uncertain Science

      Scientific Explanation  Good thing too. `Cuz uncertain science beats no science … even when —especially when? — the problem is ‘wicked’ and the science is ‘uncertain.’

      Denialist Explanation  It’s happening again … corrupt ‘Green’ scientists are fabricating bad science to strengthen governments that trample individual rights.

      Who’s right? The world (mostly) *DOESN’T’ wonder, eh Climate Etc readers?

      “The Pacific bluefin tuna fishery is currently over-harvested to just four per cent of its original size, and around 90 per cent of today’s catches are of small juveniles which have not had chance to reproduce.”

      Verdict  Science 1, denialism 0 (yet again).

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    • The correlation between belief in AGW and a host of self-defeating personality disorders has become all too obvious: people in the grip of Hot World Syndrome who engage in fearmongering and pushing their doomsday-catastrophist beliefs.

      We are treated to the AGW True Believers of the Left who fear CO2, over-population, second-hand smoke, hamburgers, nuclear power, melting glaciers, dying polar bears, food shortages, sinking islands, storms… even cold weather. The defamation of conservatism by aging hold hippies who miss wearing flags on their arses has resulted in an undermining of honor and ethics in science.

    • That was an exceptionally good comment.

    • The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse

      Hi Jeff:

      I spotted your comment yesterday – and I must agree with Judith Curry and the other denizens here that your comment is superlative.

      I agree that science:

      doesn’t say why all of us should subordinate our authority to a transcendent fasces of some heretofore very minor sub-discipline so the group can grind their own little meat ax of taxes, treaties, the threat of war, and imposed regime change against a threat for which we have no measurable effect during the lifetime of the students in my charge.

      Good spotting.
      Your students can rest easy knowing that science hasn’t concerned itself with ” measurable effects” such as any temperature trends, sea-levels, diminishing polar ice, or any ecological changes. It’s all just the sort of bunk you’d expect from people who expend their time and effort to study such things! No problem.

      Dire warnings are a dime a dozen.

      I particularly like that last paragraph, where you mock the Nobel-winning scientists (Rowland and Molina) that came up with that “ozone hole” scientific debacle. In 1987, countries around the world agreed upon the Montreal Protocol, a treaty to eliminate chemicals that deplete the ozone layer – primarily because those two scientific “advocates” pushed their “agenda”.

      Although those advocates almost certainly prevented great suffering, they also may have inadvertently generated minor reductions in the profits of some large corporations.

      We can’t let that type of thing happen again.

      And your solution is brilliant: ignore those who know the most.

      Of course it would be epidemiologists who tell us about infectious diseases – so let’s discount their policy advice as a matter of principle! It’s not as though measles or whopping cough or polio could ever come back!

      Of course it would be astrophysics who tell us about asteroids and comets that might hit the Earth. That’s just what astrophysicists do! The residents of Chelyabinsk are still there, right?! The Tunguska region is growing trees again! And if it weren’t for that big one that resulted in the K/T extinction event, we’d still be little shrew-like proto-mammals! No problem!

      This brings me to a rather more personal remark…
      I have a close friend who was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer.
      She has been told that she has about a year left to “get her affairs in order”.

      Can you imagine the lack of empathy that it would require to tell someone – based only on “scientific evidence” – that they are very likely going to die of cancer?

      But – of course – it was ONCOLOGISTS that provided the supposedly terrible news.

      That’s just like truckers asking for more trucks.

      I now realize that I can cure my friend by telling her that the oncologist-consensus has no transcendent authority to order her to re-prioritize her hectic schedule — or anything else within her purview!

      Thank you, Jeff.

      God, I love the internet.

      • I particularly like that last paragraph, where you mock the Nobel-winning scientists (Rowland and Molina) that came up with that “ozone hole” scientific debacle. In 1987, countries around the world agreed upon the Montreal Protocol, a treaty to eliminate chemicals that deplete the ozone layer – primarily because those two scientific “advocates” pushed their “agenda”.

        Although those advocates almost certainly prevented great suffering, they also may have inadvertently generated minor reductions in the profits of some large corporations.

        The way I heard it, the patents were about to run out on the basic chloro-flouro-carbons (“freon”) the Montreal Protocol discouraged, and a few very big corporations (perhaps only one) succeeded in retaining their high profits due to the switch to newer replacements.

        But I don’t really care enough to dig out the truth, from under the self-serving propaganda over the entire situation spouted by all sides of the current ex post facto debate.

      • Jebediah

        What is the net negative impact of any of the “concerns” that you have identified that warrant implementing expensive CO2 mitigation activities?

        You cite:
        1. temperature trends- How is this actually harming humanity overall to a greater extent than not having electricity or having fewer funds for other life essentials?

        2. sea-levels- Hasn’t sea level been rising for hundreds of years? Hasn’t the rate been pretty steady since we have had reasonablly reliably means of measurement (1992)? Isn’t it true there has been no reliable evidence of an increase in the rate of rise associated with all the additional atmospheric since 1992?

        2. diminishing polar ice- How is this a net problem for humanity? Is this really a problem or merely something changing that you fear MAY lead to other changes that may lead to …whatever?

        3. ecological changes- Do you expect no ecological changes over time if CO2 levels were constant? What specific changes do you believe are due to higher CO2 levels?

      • AK,

        Initially they moaned and whined about the terrible costs involved in CFC mitigation…..

      • Initially they moaned and whined about the terrible costs involved in CFC mitigation…..

        “Please don’t throw me into the briar patch!”

      • DuPont’s Disgraceful Deeds (October 1991)

        Even while it downplayed the ozone problem, however, Du Pont had begun researching CFC alternatives as early as 1975. By 1979, several promising candidates had been identified. The main problem was that none of them could be produced as cheaply as the company’s largest selling CFCs.


        In 1988, after dramatic new scientific evidence was revealed that ozone depletion was worse than previously believed–and after negative media coverage on Du Pont’s stonewalling–the company did an about face, announcing a phase-out of CFCs. The Du Pont phase-out, however, was specifically designated for “fully halogenated CFCs,” a scientific term that came to determine which chemicals were given specific phaseout deadlines under the 1987 international agreement regulating CFCs known as the Montreal Protocol. Some observers speculate that industry– with government complicity–deliberately redefined the formerly singular universe of “chlorofluorocarbons/fluorocarbons” into three new chemical categories. These “new” categories became the basis for differentiating which chemicals would be phased out and which would become the “officially sanctioned” substitutes [see “Du Pont’s Duplicity: Profiting at the Planet’s Expense,” Multinational Monitor, March 1990]. The new categories, HCFCs and HFCs, also damage the ozone layer, but not as severely as CFCs.

        By 1988, it was generally believed that CFC replacements would sell at prices three to five times that of existing CFCs.

        For Du Pont, the Montreal Protocol has become a godsend. First, by imposing production limits that provided much-needed price increases, the Protocol gave a boost to the company’s CFC business, which had begun declining in the 1970s. Second, it sanctioned a specific group of substitute chemicals that Du Pont was already prepared to deploy, giving them international environmental acceptability and a guaranteed market.


        Du Pont has insisted throughout the CFC debate that the only alternatives available for most CFC applications are those it is currently pursuing. Yet, since 1988, research and development of other alternatives has made impressive progress.


        Du Pont is very adroit in dealing with the new realities of environmental issues. The company is usually one step ahead of its adversaries in strategic thinking and public-relations planning. Many times Du Pont has been able to outgun and outmaneuver its critics and competitors, taking control of what might otherwise become troublesome environmental issues.

        The above is propaganda, of course. Brought to you by that monument for socialist thought: the Multinational Monitor:

        There is only one solution to the twin problems of escalating health care costs and the epidemic of the uninsured: a Medicare-for-All, single payer system.

        From the top (as of now) post in the “Editors Blog”.

        What’s the truth behind the propaganda? (There’s almost always a good deal of truth behind most good propaganda – why create a lie out of whole cloth when with a bit of twisting and a few small mis-truths the truth will tell any story you want?)

        During WW2, from 1941 to 1945, DuPont became the largest producer of war supplies. DuPont also played an important role in Manhattan Project and production of the first atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. During the same war, DuPont produced 4.5 billion pounds of explosive for the military use and as a matter of fact, the horrors of war made DuPont a huge profit. From 1950s to 1970s DuPont came up with developing new raw materials like Dacron, Mylar, Lycra, Corfarm and Corian.

        … According to one highly biased source. In fact, both modern and contemporary histories seem to agree on the very large part DuPont played in the war effort (WWII), as well as the way the government and many large corporations worked together to achieve victory.

        Although the history of post-WWII cooperation between the government and large corporations is highly contaminated by socialist biases, it seems highly probable (IMO) that most if not all highly successful very large corporations during the Cold War owed much of their success to a network of quid pro quo agreements with the government: the “Military-Industrial Complex” Eisenhower warned about.

        DuPont would certainly fit that mold, and their experience in manipulating government, especially regulations, to their own advantage may well have played a much larger part in how the Montreal Protocol was framed than the realities of refrigeration technology.

        I’ve worked in refrigeration, and studied the science behind it as well as the technology required for various replacements, and IMO ammonia would have been a far better replacement than the “new categories, HCFCs and HFCs, [which] also damage the ozone layer, but not as severely as CFCs.”

        Originally, AFAIK, the poisonous and flammable nature of ammonia made it far more dangerous than CFC’s for being piped around between hot spot, cold spot, and compressors. But advances in seal technology, as well as the thorough maturity of using regular water to carry heat around, would IMO have supported a better replacement technology based on a small, self-contained heat pump using ammonia, and regular water (with, perhaps, some anti-freeze) for longer distance transport. And this was my opinion at the time, as well.

        All of which leads me to some suspicion that the actual concerns about the role of chloro-carbons in affecting the ozone layer may well have been over-stated, at the behest of a very large player in the “military-Industrial Complex”, for their own benefit.

  32. “Perhaps as a result, physicists display an intellectual arrogance and snobbishness that is sufficiently pronounced to be recognizable as a professional characteristic. ”
    – “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.” — Mohammad Ali

  33. Doug Proctor

    The amateur, “citizen” scientist or “man of science” may not have the time, expertise or resources to initiate research, but he reasonably may be able to audit the results of the research. Especially if the IMPLICATIONS of the conclusions are in off-subject areas that have not been checked (due to lack of time, energy and easy availability of data, not merely because the checking might undo a multi-year program).

    The disparaged “professional” scientist sure as hell has a legitimate role in auditing pure research results; the focused, pragmatic aspect of the worker-for-profit goes right through the “might”, “may” and “could” weasel words: he/she looks to see if it “does” or “has”. And uses that observation to make his/her call.

    The Man in the White Coat is useful for the Green politician and the Eco-green Activist. But a lot of ordinary people have what it takes to figure out if what the White Coat says makes sense. Those people (us) are extremely threatening to the Power Holders and the would-be’s (like Michael Mann).

    Go to your core technical people, Lewandowsky, ask those whose profession impinges on the threats or “evidence” of A-CO2 climate change: you won’t find the 97% who support the IPCC, CAGW narrative.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Doug Proctor reminds us (wisely) that  “The amateur, “citizen” scientist or “man of science”  may not  commonly DOES have the time, expertise or resources to initiate research, [and so] [s]he reasonably may be able to audit the results of the research.”

      The Citizen-Science Audit of Climate-Science Finds  that energy-balance climate-change science is broadly affirmed.

      Your service is appreciated, Doug Proctor, for aptly and vividly reminding Climate Etc readers of the crucial validating role of citizen climate-science in building a ever-stronger public consensus!

      Young scientists and young voters especially appreciate the key role of citizen-science!

      \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 thoughtfully reminds us that birds are helping themselves and the biosphere by adapting to warming temperatures by carrying plant seeds to their new Northern digs.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Ragnaar claims we’re OK `cuz “Birds [are moving] to their new Northern digs.

        Yeah! And Florida mortgage-carriers are growing gills & webbed feet!

        Oh wait &hellip *NEITHER* denialist claim makes *ANY* kind of ecological *OR* financial sense *WHATSOEVER*, 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}

  34. Flash! A mysterious crater has appeared in Yamal. Could it be a repository for non-compliant bristlecones?


  35. Judith’s first point is the most fascinating to me because it has so many facets. The Internet is doing to academia what the printing press did to monasticism. There are sociological (e.g. Organizational expertise), psychological (e.g. Self estime, status), financial (e.g. Grant funding) and certainly quality control (e.g. Peer review versus global interested public review, an example being the Marcott affair here last year).
    Don’t know where it will end, far too early to say. Do know that The IPCC and ‘climate change is probably the first large ‘science’ to undergo this sort of new scrutiny, and so far it sure appears the ‘old ways’ are failing and the ‘new ways’ succeeding, albeit slowly.
    Just reread Kuhns (1962) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. There are remarkable parallels both to climate science and the larger ‘democratization of science’ in the process he so aptly described under the rubric of scientific paradigm shifts. Great fun to be able to live during one of such profound consequences.
    The ISEE-3 satellite thruster root causes analysis last week is a small example from another field. Crowd sourced true engineering expertise in just a couple of days.

  36. It seems that other areas of science are suffering from large government funded projects getting hijacked by a group whose mission is exclusionary to their own focus. From the heralded BBC on the Human Brain Project comes a report of neurologists who are excluded from funding and garnered 600+ signatures in an open letter regarding their conflict with management.

    “It was originally supposed to have a big theory component, but many of us were worried about the increasing focus on simulations,”

    It seems that simulations have captured the imagination and a bulk of the funding in climate science as well. “The Computer Syndrome”

    Bad behavior is nothing new in science. When there is large public funding, it seems to attract hucksters. You can’t tell scientists from hucksters until they open their mouths.

    • The hijacking of a research concept into a single misguided focus area is quite common in corporate research. My first experience with such tragedies was in the late 1970’s, when I reviewed work done based on a completely wrong foundation.

      When I reviewed meeting notes and talked to my boss about it I found out a single memorandum by an individual who was peripheral to the R&D team had changed their basic strategy and led them into a blind alley which cost over $30 million USD. Maybe I should inquire if my confidentiality agreement binds me to keep that old project a secret, because it sure would make an excellent article on how we can drive over a cliff when we focus too narrowly early on.

  37. Titles, credentials, CV’s, impact factors, et nausea. Have no real meaning. Gaia bats. Always

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Howard reminds us “Gaia bats. Always”

      Yes! Now it’s Oreskes on first, Mann on second, Hansen on third … and Gaia is batting clean-up!

      We *ALL* know what happens next, 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}

      • FOMD

        We *ALL* know what happens next,

        The mighty Casey strikes out.

        By hook and by crook low quality players reached base. Then, the laws of averages; the global temperatures for the last 3 1/2 billion years have fluctuated within a narrow band, and the Mudville 9 are true to form.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        RiHo08 asserts [wrongly]  “Global temperatures for the last 3 1/2 billion years have fluctuated within a  narrow band  lethal band.

        Error by RiHo08/”Team Denialism, correction by FOMD/”Team Science“!

        Your continuing thirst for scientific knowledge is appreciated, RiHo08!

        \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}

      • ALWAYS, Fan. No humans on base ever. You are a great reminder that God doesn’t think he’s a doctor.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Metrics from Google Scholar (sorted by number of citations of highest-ranking article/book/essay):

      author:”JE Hansen” climate  173 results, top-cited is “Climate forcing by anthropogenic aerosols” (2,766 citations).

      author:”ME Mann” climate  284 results, top-cited is “Global-scale temperature patterns and climate forcing over the past six centuries” (1,694 citations).

      author:”Wendell Berry” 586 results, top-cited essay is “What are people for?” (471 citations); top-cited book is “Unsettling of America” (1,405 citations).

      author:”N Oreskes” climate  73 results, top-cited is “The scientific consensus on climate change” (961 citations).

      author:”Anthony Watts” climate  3(?) results, top-cited is “Is the US surface temperature record reliable” (32 citations).

      author:”Christopher Monckton” climate  7(?) results, top-cited is “Climate sensitivity reconsidered” (9 citations).

      Conclusion  The 97% consensus is affirmed.

      And Wendell Berry does *AMAZINGLY* well!

      \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}

      • sorry fanny,the appeals to authority do not wash anymore. the number of citations an author receives has no bearing on the quality of work .

  38. ‘Twenty-year-old interns wear ties. Thirty-year-old industry postdocs wear khakis. Forty-year-old research scientists wear sweatshirts. Fifty-year-old tenured professors wear whatever the hell they want, and 80-year-old professors emeriti wear the same clothes they wore at 50, minus pants.’

  39. I’m in moderation.

    My fault is in responding to FOMD; a logical fallacy on my part.

  40. I am not good at criticising my own profession. Yes, it has its faults, but being human , don’t they all? I came into this profession by a round-about route. At the end of WW2, where I was lucky to survive five and a half years ad a wireless operator/air gunner, I was offered a University scholarship. I wanted to do science, but when I saw the poorly equipped science laboratories, I switched to Electrical engineering which was much better equipped. It was as if science had learned nothing from WW2..

    Early in my career I went to the jk and worked at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough where I found myself working with German scientists formerly from Peenemunde. So I was working with my former enemies! who built the V1 and V2 rockets that they had hurled at Britain!!.But they were great people and it is no exaggeration to ay that without their help, the US journey to the moon would not have succeeded. The German science contribution to to planetary exploration should never be forgotten. One of sciences shortcomings is that it rarely gives credit where credit is due and that is especially true of work done under the shroud of secrecy.

    So while I can’t give 100% marks to science, the world would be poorer without it.

  41. Mark Goldstone

    Well for all those who took a dig, I have a PhD in Air Quality that I completed over 20 years ago. As a Doctor of Philosophy I have remained naturally skeptical of all crowd-think. So when I see the crowd heading in a specific direction I tend to take a step back and ask questions, especially when the crowd-think is to do with catastrophism. Catastrophism is that class of study to do with the end of the world – think Imminent Ice Age (1970s), Y2K, Global Warming(?) where seemingly everyone becomes a prophet of doom and ready to hang the heretics who are not true believers.
    For myself, I don’t think that a couple of days on Wikipedia is sufficient to up-skill me in a new area. What other people do and have done is entirely up to them.
    Physics is a perfectly good starting point when looking at atmospheric processes. I am not sure how that works for tree rings.
    Having been on the planet for more than 50 years I don’t believe there have been the significant shifts in climate that are routinely claimed; except of course that in 1963 and living in England I froze whilst we had one of the coldest winters in many years and then in the Easter of 1974 we were swimming in the sea. These represent step changes that were linked to specific ENSO events.
    In 1984 I stopped working as an oilfield geologist and paid my own way through an Environmental Technology Masters. That was the last time I received oilfield funding and by the end of the course all of my savings were gone. Since then, I have saved woodlands and rare species, protected homes from real pollution and done more than my bit to have a real impact for environmental good – so please don’t lecture me.
    I am aware that carbon dioxide levels are rising and I know that the crowd attributes this to human generation. I am concerned that the rise in carbon dioxide is too steady for a human related source. Where is the OPEC fuel crisis, the 1980s recession, the Global financial crisis? Each of these should have led to a downturn or a slowing of the rate of increase, which should be in the record. So for the meantime I remain skeptical, but as always I am happy to be shown real evidence.

    • I am concerned that the rise in carbon dioxide is too steady for a human related source.

      The excess atmospheric CO2 does not get sequestered easily, therefore it builds up gradually. In mathematical terms this is an integral of the CO2 production. The characteristic of an integral is that it will smooth out rapid fluctuations as every bit added is incremental to the cumulative concentration. That’s why it looks steady and almost a monotonic increase. BTW, the part that is seasonal shows oscillations because that is part of the steady-state carbon cycle.

      • WebHubTelescope (@WHUT) | said: ”The excess atmospheric CO2 does not get sequestered easily”

        CORRECTION! The more CO2 is in the atmosphere – the MORE the rain washes of it into the ground and into the sea.,

    • CO2 is sequestered at rates far in excess of human emissions. The annual cycles is a function of NH/SH land areas.

  42. Meteorology is a science; ”climatology” is a religion / belief.
    ”researchers” in the phony GLOBAL warming should stop hiding behind the phony ”Skeptics” and see what the deniers have!

  43. i would like to thank beth the serf for the feynman link. i clicked the link,started reading and did not move until i had finished. i would advise anyone not having previously read this to do so, and then try to draw some parallels to leading lights ,including the physicists , in climate science today,starting with admissions of errors or smarter people getting one over on them.
    you will be hard pressed to find one single instance,and for all the problems highlighted by feynman,the greatest issue i can see is a lack of humility and arrogance bordering upon mania . in feymans day the hockey stick would never have seen the light of day,much less the front cover of a report by a supposed world leading authority.

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