Words of wisdom from Charles Lyell

by Judith Curry

We are also told of general catastrophes and a succession of deluges, of the alternation of periods of repose and disorder, of the refrigeration of the globe, and of the sudden annihilation of whole races of animals and plants, and other hypotheses, in which we see the ancient spirit of speculation revived, and a desire manifested to cut, rather than patiently to untie, the Gordian knot. – Charles Lyell

 

I received via email this text excerpted from the classical text Principles of Geology, by Charles Lyell (1st ed.. Vol. Ill, pp. 1-5, London, 1833). Charles Lyell is generally regarded as the father of modern geology. Here is the excerpted text:

All naturalists, who have carefully examined the arrangement of the mineral masses composing the earth’s crust, and who have studied their internal structure and fossil contents, have recognized therein the signs of a great succession of former changes; and the causes of these changes have been the object of anxious inquiry. As the first theorists possessed but a scanty acquaintance with the present economy of the animate and inanimate world, and the vicissitudes to which these are subject, we find them in the situation of novices, who attempt to read a history written in a foreign language, doubting

about the meaning of the most ordinary terms; disputing, for example, whether a shell was really a shell, whether sand and pebbles were the result of aqueous trituration, whether stratification was the effect of successive deposition from water; and a thousand other elementary questions which now appear to us so easy and simple, that we can hardly conceive them to have once afforded matter for warm and tedious controversy.

In the first volume we enumerated many prepossessions which biased the minds of the earlier inquirers, and checked an impartial desire of arriving at truth. But of all the causes to which we alluded, no one contributed so powerfully to give rise to a false method of philosophizing as the entire unconsciousness of the first geologists of the extent of their own ignorance respecting the operations of the existing agents of change.

They imagined themselves sufficiently acquainted with the mutations now in progress in the animate and inanimate world, to entitle them at once to affirm, whether the solution of certain problems in geology could ever be derived from the observation of the actual economy of nature, and having decided that they could not, they felt themselves at liberty to indulge their imaginations, in guessing at what might be, rather than in inquiring what is: in other words, they employed themselves in conjecturing what might have been the course of nature at a remote period, rather than in the investigation of what was the course of nature in their own times.

It appeared to them more philosophical to speculate on the possibilities of the past, than patiently to explore the realities of the present, and having invented theories under the influence of such maxims, they were consistently unwilling to test their validity by the criterion of their accordance with the ordinary operations of nature. On the contrary, the claims of each new hypothesis to credibility appeared enhanced by the great contrast of the causes of forces introduced to those now developed in our terrestrial system during a period, as it has been termed, of repose.

Never was there a dogma more calculated to foster indolence, and to blunt the keen edge of curiosity, than this assumption of the discordance between the former and the existing causes of change. It produced a state of mind unfavorable in the highest conceivable degree to the candid reception of the evidence of those minute, but incessant mutations, which every part of the earth’s surface is undergoing, and by which the condition of its living inhabitants is continually made to vary. The student, instead of being encouraged with the hope of interpreting the enigmas presented to him in the earth’s structure, instead of being prompted to undertake laborious inquiries into the natural history of the organic world, and the complicated effects of the igneous and aqueous causes now in operation, was taught to despond from the first.

Geology, it was affirmed, could never rise to the rank of an exact science; the greater number of phenomena must forever remain inexplicable, or only be partially elucidated by ingenious conjectures. Event the mystery which invested the subject was said to constitute one of its principal charms, affording, as it did, full scope to the fancy to indulge in a boundless field of speculation.

The course directly opposed to these theoretical views consists in an earnest and patient endeavor to reconcile the former indications of change with the evidence of gradual mutations now in progress; restricting us, in the first instance, to known causes, and then speculating on those which may be in activity in regions inaccessible to us. It seeks an interpretation of geological monuments by comparing the changes of which they give evidence with the vicissitudes now in progress, or which may be in progress.

We are now, for the most part, agreed as to what rocks are of igneous, and what of aqueous origin, in what manner fossil shells, whether of the sea or of lakes, have been imbedded in strata, how sand may have been converted into sandstone, and are unanimous as to other propositions which are not of a complicated nature; but when we ascent to those of a higher order, we find as little disposition, as formerly, to make a strenuous effort, in the first instance, to search out an explanation in the ordinary economy of Nature. If, for example, we seek for the causes why mineral masses are associated together in certain groups; why they are arranged in a certain order which is never inverted; why there are many breaks in the continuity of the series; why different organic remains are found in distinct sets of strata; why there is often an abrupt passage

from an assemblage of species contained in one formation to that in another immediately superimposed; when these and other topics of an equally extensive kind are discussed, we find the habit of indulging conjectures, respecting irregular and extraordinary causes, to be still in full force.

We hear of sudden and violent revolutions of the globe, of the instantaneous elevation of mountain chains, of paroxysms of volcanic energy, declining according to some, and according to others increasing in violence, from the earliest to the latest ages. We are also told of general catastrophes and a succession of deluges, of the alternation of periods of repose and disorder, of the refrigeration of the globe, and of the sudden annihilation of whole races of animals and plants, and other hypotheses, in which we see the ancient spirit of speculation revived, and a desire manifested to cut, rather than patiently to untie, the Gordian knot.

In our attempt to unravel these difficult questions, we shall adopt a different course, restricting ourselves to the known or possible operations of existing causes; feeling assured that we have not yet exhausted the resources which the study of the present course of nature may provide, and therefore that we are not authorized, in the infancy of our science, to recur to extraordinary agents.

We shall adhere to this plan, not only on the grounds explained in the first volume, but because, as we have above stated, history informs us that this method has always put geologist on the road that leads to truth, suggesting views which, although imperfect at first, have been found capable of improvement, until at last adopted by universal consent. On the other hand, the opposite method, that of speculating on a former distinct state of things, has led invariably to a multitude of contradictory systems, which have been overthrown one after the other, which have been found quite incapable of modification, and which are often required to be precisely reversed. 

In our attempt to solve geological problems, we shall be called upon to refer to the operation of aqueous and igneous causes, the geographical distribution of animals and plants, the real existence of species, their successive extinction, and so forth. We are under the necessity of collecting together a variety of facts, and of entering into long trains of reasoning, which could only be accomplished in preliminary treatises.

These topics we regard as constituting the alphabet and grammar of geology; not that we expect from such studies to obtain a key to the interpretation of all geological phenomena, but because they form the groundwork from which we must rise to the contemplation of more general questions relating to the complicated results to which, in an indefinite lapse of the ages, the existing causes of change may give rise.

JC reflections

Lyell’s  essay provides some words of wisdom as we seek a coherent philosophy of natural science in the 21st century, particularly as related to climate change. Our understanding of climate variability and change on decadal to century relative to the maturity of geology in the 19th century can only be assessed in hindsight:  are we in the infancy of our science?

The primacy of the epistemic status of climate models as a source of alarming and catastrophic predictions seems to be an attempt to cut the Gordian knot of understanding climate change rather than to unravel the knot.

We are under the necessity of collecting together a variety of facts, and of entering into long trains of reasoning. The current climate modeling imperative is effectively relegating observations to a lower epistemic status, and diminishes the importance of actually reasoning about the information. A notable example of this is the AR4 conclusions about climate sensitivity, which were driven primarily by climate model simulations; in AR5 climate model simulations of sensitivity were given equal weight to observation derived values. Climate models diminish the importance of actually reasoning about diverse types of evidence. How to actually reason about the complex evidence and the uncertainties remains a daunting and largely unexamined task (see my paper Reasoning About Climate Uncertainty); instead too many people just plot the output of climate models.

Next week (!) I will be attending a Conference at the Rotman Institute of Philosophy on Knowledge and Models in Climate Science, which is addressing the epistemic status of climate models. I am very pleased to see these broad issues being pondered by philosophers of science, and I look forward to learning from them.

288 responses to “Words of wisdom from Charles Lyell

  1. daveandrews723

    The arrogance of those who still hold onto the validity of climate models that have failed is what bothers me. It sure doesn’t seem very scientific. It seems like their egos and not their intellect are controlling things. Some might call that “denial.”

    • Its not so much that which bothers me, as the vitriol and contempt shown to anyone that challenges these models, by those who you would have supposed to know better

    • Ian Blanchard

      daveandrews and Rob Johnson

      Worth remembering the comment (rendered here in it’s polite form) – ‘An expert is someone who knows more and more about less and less, until they know everything about nothing’.

      It seems to me that one of the issues in clamatology and indeed in most modern academic science, is that the incentive structure (i.e. the awarding of short term grants to assess pre-defined ‘problems’ with real world significance) encourages people just to stay within their niche and tinker with the things they already know. It’s much lower risk to write a grant proposal where you are 90% confident of knowing the outcome before the research is done than to take a step back and try to do something novel, running the risk of having no product (i.e. publication) to show for your efforts. (It’s one of the points made eloquently in Robert Brown’s recent essay at WUWT).

      Modellers and their focus on improving the existing models just seems to be this writ large. Very few in Climate Science (our host being one of the few exceptions) seem to take the step back and try to integrate the big picture across all the niches.

      • I’d be happy if they did try to improve the existing models. Rather than call people names that disagree with them.

      • FWIW: Mention grants, I stop reading. Grants distort science, they don’t end it.

      • Curious George

        I studied vacuum physics. I know everything about nothing.

      • “I studied vacuum physics. I know everything about nothing.”

        That sucks :)

      • captdallas 0.8_/-0.2

        My view of the vacuum fluctuates.

      • “…one of the issues in clamatology [sic] and indeed in most modern academic science, is that the incentive structure … encourages people just to stay within their niche and tinker with the things they already know. It’s much lower risk to write a grant proposal where you are 90% confident of knowing the outcome before the research is done than to take a step back and try to do something novel, running the risk of having no product (i.e. publication) to show for your efforts.”

        I suspect that fortunately not a few have diversified interests and diversified portfolios. Similar challenges occur in consulting…you can not wait until you run out of work to grow the new work.

    • There is a reason for that. The politicians who fund climate change reasearch know the result they desire. Our system of funding research rewards the scientists that tell politicians and government administrators what they want to hear. A very comfortable funding feedback loop becomes entrenched for scientists that can be counted on to give support to the “right” answers. Think marionettes and puppeteers rather than egos and intellect and we all pay for the show for as long as the puppeteer can stay on stage.

    • People start to believe the numbers that come out of computes and cease to think.

      • I have a firm belief in the concept of garbage in, exponential amount of garbage out and that’s before we sort out what goes on in between

      • Has anyone measured the garbage sensitivity of models? Is there positive feedback? Do the models run garbage hot or garbage cold?

    • “Never was there a dogma more calculated to foster indolence, and to blunt the keen edge of curiosity, than this assumption of the discordance between the former and the existing causes of change.”
      Well, at least we have managed to falsify this statement.

    • Their arrogance is transcended by your oblivion– every last object of skepticism in Lyell’s list has since been proven true , from ice ages and the snowball earth, to the incineration of its surface by impact events and the inversion of its atmospheric chemistry by catastrophic biogenic changes.

      The difficulty of modeling such evenys has no bearing on the mere fact that , in objective reality, they all happened.

  2. Remember Newton and the pebbles. No scientist is a scientist unless feeling like Newton with the pebbles.

    Ps Lyell obviously a scientific Nostradamus as he describes climatology so well

  3. Yes, you would want to observe a bit, wouldn’t you? Actually, make that “observe a lot”.

    And you’d want to observe a lot for a lot of the time. Come to think of it, make that “all the time”.

    Happy now.

  4. I am very pleased to see these broad issues being pondered by philosophers of science, and I look forward to learning from them.

    Agreed. This is excellent. Judith, you may be awarded ‘honorary geologist’ ahead of the pack. :)

  5. Thanks for this post, Professor Curry.

    Now we must forgive the frightened leaders that formed the UN in Oct 1945 and agreed to hide the energy that destroyed Hiroshima in Aug 1945.

    They exaggerated [1] the danger of radiation and then attempted to discredit these discoveries:

    1. Natural reactors, 1956
    2. The pulsar Sun, 1977
    3. Cold fusion, 1989
    4. Planetary core reactors, 1992
    5. Neutron repulsion, 2001

    Still they cannot hide the energy that powers the Sun, sustains our lives, and totally controls Earth’s climate.

    “Solar energy,” Advances in Astronomy (1 Sept 2014): https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/10640850/Solar_Energy.pdf

    1. Galen Winsor, “The Nuclear Scare Scam”: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ejCQrOTE-XA&feature=player_embedded

    • 6. Do decay rates vary with distance from the solar pulsar, 2009?

      • David Springer

        It would appear so. A mystery in science & engineering of particular interest to me. Only certain modes of decay are effected. Two in particular are the plutonium radio-thermal power supplies in the two Voyager spacecraft which have drifted outside the predicted performance envelope as they moved away from Sol. How does a solar pulsar explain it?

      • “We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind ?
        Not one that wishes to be in touch with us. Best to address as a separate issue to the science if you want people to follow the science.

    • @David Springer: How does a solar pulsar core explain it?

      The solar pulsar core:
      _ a.) Made our elements,
      _ b.) Birthed the solar system five billion years (5 Ga) ago,
      _ c.) Sustained life’s origin & evolution on Earth after 3.5 Ga ago, and [1]
      _ d.) Thus supplied the force that holds each atom together to create the illusion of matter [2].

      As Max Planck noted, “There is no matter as such! All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particles of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together … We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious
      and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter.”
      [2].

      @angech “Best to address as a separate issue to the science if you want people to follow the science.”

      I agree with Max Planck. Science and spirituality were at war in the old USSR under Stalin before WWII. Consensus post-modern science and spirituality have been at war in the rest of the world since WWII ended.

      1. “Solar energy,” Advances in Astronomy (submitted 1 Sept 2014) https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/10640850/Solar_Energy.pdf

      2. Max Planck, “The Essence of Matter,” from a speech Dr. Planck gave in Florence, Italy in 1944, entitled “Das Wesen der Materie” (The
      Essence/Nature/Character of Matter) Quelle: Archiv zur Geschichte der
      Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Abt. Va, Rep. 11 Planck, Nr. 1797:
      http://www.greggbraden.com/resources

  6. Judith,

    I have to say I think you miss the point of Lyell entirely. He was railing against a dogmatic religious predisposition for accepting past catastrophe as an adequate explanation for observations. Sounds familiar – I doubt he’d be impressed by the ideological opposition to AGW that dominates ‘skepticism’.

    Modern climate science is, if anything, an extension of Lyells work. The understanding of the slow processes changing the crust and the cycles of glaciation turned into interest in the understanding of past climates and how they changed over time.

    Your disdain for computer models seems pointless – what are they but ‘long chains of reasoning’ ?

    • “Your disdain for computer models seems pointless – what are they but ‘long chains of reasoning ?”
      There is no reasoning in a computer model, only calculation. The reasoning is in the program design, and this depends on an intelligent program complemented by good data [otherwise GIGO].
      When the model programmes have fake climate sensitivity inputed, when they have triple times fake positive feedback responses to a doubling of CO2 they give pointless long chains of non reasoning.
      Simple observation [Lyell] shows the models are wrong hence the computer models are pointless, though extremely comedic.
      A thoughtful Michael would instead say lets run the programmes without those assumptions and see if they then match reality [Which they would].

    • > … they were consistently unwilling to test their validity by the criterion of their accordance with the ordinary operations of nature.

      That’s the point, Michael old sport

      Doubtless you will say that we only have one planet, so a control cannot exist

      We only had one Ordovician, Carboniferous, Permian, Jurassic etc era as well. Yet we’ve sorted those out reasonably well. I keep persisting in pointing out that the understandings from this should be applied today, not hypothetical, linear feedbacks that cannot be observed nor verified

  7. Very elegant, relevant and thoughtful contribution from past to present.

  8. In our attempt to unravel these difficult questions, we shall adopt a different course, restricting ourselves to the known or possible operations of existing causes; feeling assured that we have not yet exhausted the resources which the study of the present course of nature may provide, and therefore that we are not authorized, in the infancy of our science, to recur to extraordinary agents.

    It’s worth remembering, though, that the Geology founded on principles such as these was also the geology that rejected Alfred Wegener’s Drifting Continenets hypothesis, itself founded on observations.

    A modern parallel might be the rejection of many implications of “Chaos Theory” by a majority(?) of “climate scientists”.

    • That´s a really good point. However from their standpoint Wegener was an outsider. Wasn´t he into climate science rather than geology?

      • […] from their standpoint Wegener was an outsider.

        And Steve McIntyre is an outsider to “climate science”. Indeed, as an expert in statistics (and fraud), there are good parallels with Wegener.

        Another problem with the parallel is that Wegener had identified an effect in need of a “cause”. WRT “climate science”, “chaos theory” is more akin to a “cause” looking for “effects”.

        Still…

    • AK, the story is more interesting. Wegener was a meteorologist crashing the geology party. The mostninterestingnthingnwas thatnthe geologists demanded a mechanism to explain Wegeners observations, and Wegeners reasoning was weak in this department. The observations shoild have set off a mechanism search rather than being dismissed. How and why, and how magnetic reversals along the Atlantic rift showed sea floor spreading and eventually plate tectonics is a fascinating chapter in the history of science. Wrote about it in the Recognition chapter of the Arts of Truth.

      • The observations shoild have set off a mechanism search rather than being dismissed.

        As the “pause” should have?

        IMO there’s a mechanism ready and waiting: natural variability in a hyper-complex system.

      • John Vonderlin

        Rud,
        Are you familiar with David Pratt’s fairly recent criticisms of Tectonic Plate Theory? While I don’t have the expertise to evaluate his criticisms, I thought this excerpt was eerily familiar and relevant to this thread’s topic and Climate Science’s present circumstances.: “”It has been said that “A hypothesis that is appealing for its unity or simplicity acts as a filter, accepting reinforcement with ease but tending to reject evidence that does not seem to fit” (Grad, 1971, p. 636). Meyerhoff and Meyerhoff (1974b, p. 411) argued that this is “an admirable description of what has happened in the field of earth dynamics, where one hypothesis – the new global tectonics – has been permitted to override and overrule all other hypotheses.” Nitecki et al. (1978) reported that in 1961 only 27% of western geologists accepted plate tectonics, but that during the mid-1960s a “chain reaction” took place and by 1977 it was embraced by as many as 87%. Some proponents of plate tectonics have admitted that a bandwagon atmosphere developed, and that data that did not fit into the model were not given sufficient consideration (e.g. Wyllie, 1976), resulting in “a somewhat disturbing dogmatism” (Dott and Batten, 1981, p. 151). McGeary and Plummer (1998, p. 97) acknowledge that “Geologists, like other people, are susceptible to fads.””
        As a hoot a few years ago I posted links to his material on a Geology forum. Other than out-of-hand dismissals because he was a Theosophist, an organization with a very checkered past, I didn’t get any substantive responses.
        Here’s a link to his stuff: http://davidpratt.info/tecto.htm I’d be interested in your thoughts.

      • Rud

        Doug MacDougall’s book : “Frozen Earth: The Once and Future History of Ice Ages” is a great read. The history of the science reads like a good novel and it is a welcome break from blogs and journals. :)

      • John V., it’s more like a kaleidoscope than a dinner platter.
        ===========

    • AK – ” A modern parallel might be the rejection of many implications of Chaos Theory by … climate scientists …”

      I frequently wonder about this. The most physically interesting and relevant idea of chaos theory is that points in the phase space are arbitrarily close to points with a profoundly different trajectory. The systems are determinate, but a small error in the input will result in a large error in the output. Applied to climate science, small errors, forget wholesale exclusions of inputs, can cause the system to blow up. Garbage in garbage out. Ed Lorenz talked about the limits of predictability and Judith covered that here:

      https://judithcurry.com/2013/10/13/words-of-wisdom-from-ed-lorenz/

      This is actually understood by the IPCC:

      https://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg1/504.htm

      So why does the IPCC make the scary predictions they do given what they know about the limits of predictability?

      Why do mathematicians, other than the late Ed Lorenz who had nothing to lose, not speak up about this? Do they think the models are ok? I suspect they have nothing to gain – their performance is measured based on their publications in peer reviewed MATHEMATICAL journals – and everything to lose, harassment and loss of career opportunities. IOW, they are intimidated into silence. I do not really know.

      For the record, and since the “Denezins” thread is closed, for good reason (spam), I have a BA in math from the Univ. of Calif. and I studied dynamical systems (my favorite old math book is Hirsch and Smale 1974). I am not a professional mathematician and I have a layperson’s interest in Chaos.

      • I took part of a graduate math course from Smale, which covered some stuff that I now recognize as parts of chaos theory. Here’s my guess as to why mathematicians don’t speak up: they don’t really know how good the climate models are. They may know a lot about chaotic systems, but they don’t have the expertise to know whether long-term climate is or isn’t a chaotic system.

      • David in Cal, “They may know a lot about chaotic systems, but they don’t have the expertise to know whether long-term climate is or isn’t a chaotic system.”

        There are a few that tackle parts of climate, Selvam for example has several papers on self-organizing criticality, but fuzzy probability densities with frequencies of several thousands of years aren’t all that sexy. Then current “main stream” climate scientists avoid things like Bond Events and D-O oscillations like the plague.

        Some hybrid techniques ala Tsonis and Douglass https://judithcurry.com/2011/11/30/shifts-phase-locked-state-and-chaos-in-climate-data/
        have made some progress like the Stadium Wave, Wyatt & Curry, but they tend to have more weather related impact than climate. When you have a math approach that indicates climate will vary +/- about 1.25 C until it tips to another attractor about -3C lower then starts a new variation of +/- about 1.5 C with a little different frequency spectrum, you aren’t going to sway the geniuses that think they have it nailed down to +/- 0.1 C. You have to wait for the geniuses to have their face plants before the big guns step in.

      • So why does the IPCC make the scary predictions they do given what they know about the limits of predictability?

        How scary are they, really, compared to the twisted versions pushed by alarmists?

        And don’t forget that, given that uncertainty, it’s impossible to be certain those scary predictions won’t happen. (Well, not all of them…)

        Why do mathematicians, other than the late Ed Lorenz who had nothing to lose, not speak up about this? Do they think the models are ok?

        There’s at least one mathematician who often speaks up: Tomas Milanovic. Or at least that’s what he calls himself.

    • The Man Who Found Time, gentleman farmer, James Hutton
      was the discoverer of the Earth’s antiquity, observed the local
      Scottish land formations pushed up by subterranean forces,
      land changes that Hutton said would require ‘immense time.’
      Supported by mathematician John Playfair and scientist Sir
      James Hall Hutton spoke on his theory at the Royal Society
      of Edinburgh in 1784 presenting convincing evidence that
      extreme subterranean heat was an active agent in the
      formation of continents. His theory was attacked by the
      proponents of the consensus view that the Earth was 6,000
      years old including the Professor of Natural History at the
      University.

      With Hutton’s untimely death his theory would likely have
      been destroyed by the concerted academic opposition if
      Playfair and Hall had not published a new book at their
      own expense, setting out Hutton’s powerful evidence.

      Hutton’s discoveries later had profound influence in the
      9th century on Charles Lyell and Charles Darwin.

    • There was another challenge to geologists that took 40 years to be accepted. Geologist J Harlen Bretz saw and collected evidence fpr the Great Missoula Flood glacial melts that carved out the Columbia river gorge. At the time the prevailing view in geology was uniformitariamism ( hmm sounds a bit like consensus).

      http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missoula_Foods

  9. It’s a natural inclination, not a mistake.

    Self-awareness is what has to be added. It’s missing in the attacks on climate deniers, and it’s also missing in the climate science wicked problem wing.

    Power and funding hold the field together, whichever side you’re on.

    Any physics paper published, along with non-physics papers published, can be taken as part of the field and proof that it’s a scientific activity worthy of power and funds.

    That’s a sociological force, not a scientific one.

    Just let the papers stand on their own, as they used to.

    • It’s worse than natural inclination. It’s purposeful and deliberate.

      • Well, the politicians are purposeful and deliberate. Also intentional, to cover all bases in J.L.Austin’s “Three Ways of Spilling Ink.”

        The scientists are well meaning but naive sociologically, meaning unsuspicious of effects on themselves of social pressures.

        The breaktrhoughs that happen from time to time tend to come from guys who’ve been evaluated as having a bad attitude by the scientific hierarchy.

        The politicians know about the sociology and make use of it.

    • Self-awareness is essential to all, but alas is rarely present.

  10. The context of this essay is the long-running debate between catastrophism and uniformitarianism (or gradualism). This was an unnecessarily polarised debate, from the moderm point of view, since the gradualist position required the earth to be very old, whereas catastrophism allowed people to maintain that the Earth was only a few thousand years old, consistent with biblical creation stories.

    Uniformitarians were reluctant to accept any evidence of catastrophies, since if one, why not more? While gradualists were inclined to the opposite position. The situation was slowly (gradually?) resolved during the 1800s as it became clear even the catastrophists would require a whole series of separate catastrophic events, rather than a single biblical flood.

    Modern geology of course accepts that the Earth we see is the product of 4.5 billions years of mostly gradual change, punctuated by significant catastrophes, including super-volcanoes and asteroid impacts.

    This is a classic example of a false dichotomy – a fallacy to which scientists seem no less prone than the rest of the population (nature/nurture is another example). Essentially, the gradualists were right, but they would have got there faster without the need to maintain the catastrophists were wholly wrong.

    We seem to have another false dichotomy in climate change, and one that is embraced as enthusiatically by many scientists as it is by politicians: either anrthopogenic climate change is catastrophic, or it is a hoax. All or nothing. My money is on the luke-warmers, since that is where the weight of evidence seems to point.

    • […] the gradualist position required the earth to be very old, whereas catastrophism allowed people to maintain that the Earth was only a few thousand years old, consistent with biblical creation stories.

      In this context, it’s worth remembering that modern science evolved in a context of strong ideological (and religious) conflict with the (Roman) Church, which had arrogated itself a claim to control over people’s thinking inherited from the Roman Imperium.

      Anything that gave the Church an opening wedge was anathema to many, and this influenced the evolution of many scientific theories, as well as fringe pseudo-science such as that of Karl Marx.

    • An insightful comment. You are certainly correct; the world is seldom black and white. ‘Truth’ exists in context, and requires perspective.

      • Curious George

        A joke from the times I had to attend classes on Marxism:

        For centuries philosophers were trying to resolve a dilemma: What came first, a chicken or an egg? Marxism gives us an incontrovertible answer:

        From a point of view of a chicken, the egg came first.
        From a point of view of an egg, the chicken came first.

      • From the point of view of a road, reasons why chickens cross it are of no concern.

      • A. Why did the chicken cross the road?

        B. I dunno.

        A. To get the Chinese newspaper. Do you get it?

        B. Uhm, ….well, no.

        A. Neither do I. Neither does the chicken. That’s why he crossed the road.
        ============

    • I largely agree with everything you said, Gareth, especially about the false dichotomy.

      Most geologic processes are gradual. But much, if not most, of the geology we SEE is the result of small to large catastrophes. This though, hmy euphony, happened on a field trip on the Brazos river in Texas. We were looking at a 4 foot thick sand deposit, 40 feet above river below us. “How did it take that sand to accumulate?” “A weekend. It was deposited in the flood two years ago.” 50 years of sediment accumulation in the river bed, flushed out into the Gulf of Mexico by a massive flood in the course of a week. That variability, that non-uniformity of conditions, is why we have massive sand deposits hundreds of miles offshore and not just thousands of feet of pelagic shale.

  11. Finally, we must admit that a model may confirm our biases and support incorrect intuitions, therefore models are most useful when used to challenge existing formulations, rather than to validate or verify them.

    Naomi Oreskes 1994 – Verification, Validation, and confirmation of numerical models in the Earth Sciences

    I wonder if she has ever disavowed this paper, or if it has ever been refuted?

  12. Indeed there is a need to collect and analyze more data. The additional data will generate more confusion for a while, but eventually you should be able to sort it out, and the models will likely help. Decisions will have to be made with missing pieces, and this points towards a flexible and well reasoned approach. Unfortunately, today we see politicians who lack reason and flexibility making very silly decisions.

    • Unfortunately, today we see politicians who lack reason and flexibility making very silly decisions.

      Today???

      • You are right. I should have added …”….making very silly decisions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions”. Silly decisions based on lousy science can pay off, but I only know a couple of examples.

    • @ Fernando Leanme

      “Unfortunately, today we see politicians who lack reason and flexibility making very silly decisions.”

      They are only silly if you accept the fiction that the purposes of the climate change policy decisions are actually to control the ‘Temperature of the Earth’ and ensure that it does not vary outside pre-determined limits.

      If their purpose is to aggrandize power and money in the hands of the government, not so silly. Evaluated against that objective, their decisions have been enormously effective.

  13. Climate Science is going through a “Great Leap Forward” and that is not a compliment. In China, they decided that they could modernize while skipping the steps of learning how to be modern. They were told to melt down their hoes to make modern plows, etc. Result was horrific starvation, cannibalism, lingering deaths in the millions.

    Climate Science, in a desperate gamble to “leap forward” has thrown out the scientific method, which, slow as it is, has gotten us so far, to indulge in “experiments” against faith based GCMs.

  14. It seems that the warmist side of climate change embraces: “If you spend the time to listen, you have wasted that time to do.”

    “Listening” is like observing. “Doing” reinforces one’s delusion that one is right. One requires patients, the other reinforces mania.

    “They imagined themselves sufficiently acquainted with the mutations now in progress in the animate and inanimate world, to entitle them at once to affirm, whether the solution of certain problems in geology could ever be derived from the observation of the actual economy of nature, and having decided that they could not, they felt themselves at liberty to indulge their imaginations, in guessing at what might be, rather than in inquiring what is: in other words, they employed themselves in conjecturing what might have been the course of nature at a remote period, rather than in the investigation of what was the course of nature in their own times.”

    It is not very surprising that the challenges in science in 1833 persist through to the 21st Century. The consensus collective worry, “if we give and inch, they’ll take a mile.” Such a philosophy and mind-set allows public forces to line up like a Grecian phalanx; shields up and spear-tips pointed at the opposition.

    We are at War with ourselves.

  15. The willingness to spread fears of global warming and receptivity to these fears underlie Western society’s real problem and undoing the damage done because of it the greatest challenge the West has ever faced; and, we cannot untie the Gordian knot with political correctness which is nothing more than a continued refusal to reality. The real problem is we live in a fundamentally dishonest society.

    • The above comment is fanatical extremism. Though probably, by the radical extremist (or maybe just one who is wildly misinformed under an avalanche of misinformation, and so much seeming self sealing support) this is something that is a hard idea to objectively contemplate.

      But the Climate Change issue is a serious question. And geologically altering the atmosphere’s long term heat trapping capacity composition to levels not seen in millions of years, fundamentally – and notwithstanding all the highfalutin physics and issue relevancy mangling here – presents a serious science question, with far reaching implications.

      To castigate views or expressions as “dishonest” that do not align with a small minority science view, nor, it seems common sense (increased heat re captured and not wafted into the upper atmosphere, will slowly increase the amount of heat for the earth to absorb, and ultimately radiate outward as thermal radiation, from warmer underlying earth systems) as simply lies, as say a few ill informed radicals in the media (Glenn Beck, who knows about as much as science as my neighbor’s dog knows about Italian), is profound.

      (Though on this issue, with all the misinformation and self reinforcing, even self sealing polarization of sites like these, and ideologically driven and rhetorically gifted “media” sources, being massively misinformed is somewhat understandable. But not even seeing that there is genuine concern here based upon very sound science reasons, and then on top of that, so castigating the same as lies, is not.)

      To have a strong opinion on this subject but yet not be able to grasp that the arguments for why a radical change to the long term heat trapping nature of the atmosphere might pose a threat of, if not radical, certainly major climate shift – as climate is ultimately driven by energy, and heat is energy (and once again, forget the air, it’s accumulating on the earth) – and then condemn all that supports what is likely correct, well founded, and heavily studied by those who do this for a living in the preeminent field (where, albeit mistakes are made, the process of seeking objective truth is the ultimate definition of the field, and where finding mistake in vetted articles and publishing something novel (i.e, contrarian) is striven and more highly rewarded) – is also zealotry. Which warps beyond all repair any ability to evaluate an issue, let alone learn about it.

      Funny how much climate change “denialism” (I don’t like the term, but nobody yet is picking up the far better and more respectful “naysaying”), fits into this box; yet consistent with the box of zealotry, it projects most of its traits outward.

      Thus, ironically, it is the scientists – in the zealot’s mind – who are the “zealots” following a “religion”; not the deniers, following a religion of fossil fuel fealty; excessive fear that our ability to thrive and grow as a species is based not on us, but on some archaic, massively geologically altering, and polluting fuel source; along with an inherent belief that – while there may not be an inalienable right to clean air, or at least a right of our progeny for us not to radicalize the environment in highly counterproductive ways for them once we know about it – there IS an undeniable inalienable right to super cheap fossil fuel.

      Perhaps the Constitution should be amended to include it in the Bill of Rights.

      The point is not to make fuel expensive, but simply to place non damaging energy sources and processes on an even playing field, so entrepreneurial spirit, industry and effort – which IS what makes us great, NOT fossil fuels) can thrive without being extraordinarily biased by the fact that fossil fuels are being gargantuanly subsidized; which economically is about as inefficient as can be.

      It is not seen (or conceptually understood) this way, so as a way to fight redress ,the science is instead “fought.” Ultimately, the advocacy against it, driven by intense interests, with the help of massive rhetoric (and massive misinformation and misconstruction of the issue), ironically pinning all of this on climate scientists instead, comes to be believed, clung to.

      It’s funny (again, in a very much not so funny way) how the site’s proprietor, a professor even, can lambast climate scientists and many who make the basic science points about the issue, in a way that is often derogatory and condemnatory, but yet be blind to the extreme zealotry and off the wall accusation that occurs right here in some of these comments (and far worse on some other sites).

      • how the site’s proprietor, a professor even, can lambaste climate scientists – John Carter

        You know what, John Carter, you could raise your credibility around here by providing and example of Curry “lambasting” a fellow scientist

      • “The real scientific method [not, the so called 97% consensus] would have them [scientists] throw out the theory [AGW] and come up with a new one. But the fat cats in government, industry, environmental groups and universities that have benefited from this public scare would have too much too lose… We will pay the price this winter.” ~Joseph D’Aleo

      • Please learn to use parenthesis. You are worse than Gleick.

      • Not to distract from your screed John, but I’ve seen fewer parentheses in entire trig text books. Just sayin.

      • Steven Mosher

        I ordinarily don’t comment on style, grammar or spelling when responding to people on the web. My reasoning is pretty simple. I assume that the writer has just whipped something out, perhaps typing on a phone, perhaps between work tasks, perhaps while sitting in their mother’s basement, otherwise occupied. How shall I put this? I assume the prose is more ejaculatory than expository. However, when it’s clear or seems apparent that the writer took some time and care, and when it’s clear that they are, on balance, focused more on making rhetorical points rather than scientific points, then I think comments on style are perhaps the best and only way to respond.

      • ==> “However, when it’s clear or seems apparent that the writer took some time and care, and when it’s clear that they are, on balance, focused more on making rhetorical points rather than scientific points, then I think comments on style are perhaps the best and only way to respond.”

        Shorter Mosher = I can rationalize anything, including being a grammar nanny.

      • Even the mystery which invested the subject was said to constitute one of its principal charms, affording, as it did, full scope to the fancy to indulge in a boundless field of speculation.

        The Left fancies the speculation that America and capitalism is the cause of disastrous global warming. Isn’t that charming? That so many have fallen under the spell of such speculations is a symptom of a sick society.

      • I agree with Mosh, John Carter has a serious rhetoric problem. If he really hopes to persuade, he needs to work on it.

        I am almost thinking of creating a “How to talk to skeptics” type blog where people can try out arguments in the comments, and I will take them and explain how they could put their arguments so that they could actually engage skeptics.

        I am not a “skeptic,” I am an agnostic who is far more worried about the erosion in standards of reasoning and evidence than I am in climate. Whatever happens or doesn’t happen regarding climate, if we abandon clear reason, we don’t have a chance.

      • ==> “I agree with Mosh, John Carter has a serious rhetoric problem. If he really hopes to persuade, he needs to work on it.”

        Because with better rhetoric, he would persuade somebody here of something? Don’t think I’ve ever seen it happen.

        One of the beautiful ironies about the climate wars is that people aren’t here to be persuaded – they’re hear to prove that they’re right.

        ==> “I am almost thinking of creating a “How to talk to skeptics” type blog where people can try out arguments in the comments, and I will take them and explain how they could put their arguments so that they could actually engage skeptics.”

        That might be interesting – and it would be nice to see the companion piece, a blog for SWIRLCAREs so they could engage with SWIMCAREs in good faith exchange.

        But my guess is that unless you have some method for screening the participants for food faith intent (an impossible task?), no matter how you counsel people to craft their rhetoric, no one will be convinced of anything.

        ==> “I am not a “skeptic,” I am an agnostic who is far more worried about the erosion in standards of reasoning and evidence than I am in climate. Whatever happens or doesn’t happen regarding climate, if we abandon clear reason, we don’t have a chance.”

        I.m curious as to what you use, as a non-“skeptic” for evidence of an “erosion in standards of reasoning and evidence.” IMO, the climate debate is very much like any number of other polarized situations where issues function as a political proxy for ideological battles. These kinds of “debates” are nothing new, IMO – and I challenge anyone to show that concerns about the “abandonment” or reason is anything other than alarmist, evidence-free generalization based on anecdotal experience. IMO, most likely such a fear is based in the influences of cultural cognition.

      • Matthew R Marler

        John Carter: (increased heat re captured and not wafted into the upper atmosphere, will slowly increase the amount of heat for the earth to absorb, and ultimately radiate outward as thermal radiation, from warmer underlying earth systems)

        “Not wafted” versus “wafted” is debated. Not exactly as “wafted”, but carried upward by wet and dry thermals. The possibility that increased CO2 will produce an increase in latent energy transported from the surface to the upper troposphere can not be easily discounted on present evidence. Some recent papers on the topic were linked in the last few threads.

        But the Climate Change issue is a serious question.

        Well yes it is. That is why the nature of climate change since the LIA is studied. Alarmists warned of dangerous consequences of warming before there was evidence that the changes since LIA had in fact been detrimental to the health of Humans and other biota. On balance the increased CO2 and increased mean temp and (possibly) increased rainfall have, contrary to early and continuing claims, been beneficial. The case for any imminent future harm turns out, on inspection, to be quite weak.

        The situation calls for alertness and continued research, not for alarm. Oscillations between wet and dry, and between warm and cool, will continue as they always have, but nothing very harmful will be caused by CO2 any time soon, on the evidence to date.

        fossil fuels are being gargantuanly subsidized;

        Most of those subsidies are in the oil-producing nations, and are paid out of oil sale revenues to keep the cost to consumers in those nations at below market levels. Inefficient they certainly are, but they are paid by fuel purchasers, not general revenues — they are not subsidies to the fuel producers. In the US, the fuel “subsidies” are tax credits, that is reductions in the amount of tax paid on profits; they are not subsidies that flow in the absence of profit, like the subsidies paid to the solar and wind power industries (e.g. the Solyndra fiasco.)

      • Steven Mosher

        Joshua missed the humor.
        Read more closely fool

      • Steven Mosher

        The joke about parenthetical statements is an allusion that requires great erudition. So I don’t expect Joshua to get it or understand the difference between grammar nazi and style nazi

      • Shorter Mosher = I can rationalize anything, including being a grammar nanny.

        Shorter Josh = I’m just here to derail and otherwise sh!t on the thread, while waiting and hoping that Judith replies to one of my several dozen posts.

      • John Carter (October 14, 2014 at 11:55 am) – Your comment misses the point. You write “To castigate views or expressions as “dishonest” that do not align with a small minority science view, nor, it seems common sense (increased heat re captured and not wafted into the upper atmosphere, will slowly increase the amount of heat for the earth to absorb [..] as simply lies [..] is profound” and much more in the same vein.

        That increased CO2 captures more heat is generally agreed. That Earth’s temperature will thus be higher than it otherwise would have been is also generally agreed.

        The argument is all about the amount of warming and of the shoddy science which has caused so many people to believe that there will be a lot of warming and that it will be dangerous. The dishonesty is in and around that shoddy science and its promoters.

        Judith explains : “The current climate modeling imperative is effectively relegating observations to a lower epistemic status, and diminishes the importance of actually reasoning about the information. [..] How to actually reason about the complex evidence and the uncertainties remains a daunting and largely unexamined task[..]”.

        The infirmation that we should actually be reasoning about includes —
        – the unsupported claim of “positive feedbacks” which supposedly multiply CO2’s effect by a factor of three.
        – the overestimation of global temperature by climate model forecasts, right across the board.
        – the fact that there has been no statistically significant increase in global temperature for well over 15 years in spite of unabated increase in CO2.
        – the apparently beneficial effect of the global warming of the last 100 years (eg. increased natural growth, and hence some contribution to food production).
        – the expectation that up to another 2 degrees C would continue to be beneficial.
        – the fact that at the direct climate sensitivity to CO2, which is of the order of 1 deg C per doubling of atmospheric CO2, there is insufficient fossil fuel to raise Earth’s temperature more than another 2 deg C.
        – recent papers indicating that actual climate sensitivity to CO2 is near the basic sensitivity (thus suggesting a lack of “positive feedbacks”), and, for good measure, that the deep oceans are not warming. (I’ll find links if needed).
        – expectations that the natural climate cycles are entering a cooling phase. If those expectations are correct, then some man-made warming would be very welcome.

        — from all of which it is reasonable to conclude that CO2-caused global warming poses no danger and is actually likely to be beneficial (but minor).

        So – the sooner our scientists get on with the daunting task of actually reasoning about the information, the better.

      • I challenge anyone to show that concerns about the “abandonment” or reason is anything other than alarmist, evidence-free generalization based on anecdotal experience. Joshua

        That is why I am agnostic. There must be somebody out there who has done the thinking. I just don’t see it in these comment threads. You could easily provide a counterexample of a solid, evidence and reason based comment from the alarmist side.

        I tell you what, to prove my good faith, pick me a skeptic argument here. We can talk about evidence and logic there. And not a ridiculous one, either, like somebody claiming that there is no such thing as back radiation.

      • Joshua: Shorter Mosher = I can rationalize anything, including being a grammar nanny.
        ——-
        Thanks for the laugh. I agree.

      • scott.
        you too missed the humor. Pay attention to the verbs and adverbs.
        I’m not commenting on the style, although it looks that way.

        Then go watch Joshua’s McGurk effect video.

        You like Joshua are reading what you want to read. read harder.

      • I found a number of things to comment on, though style wasn’t one of them. I think I’ll limit it to just one – based on this statement of John’s:

        “Perhaps the Constitution should be amended to include it in the Bill of Rights.”

        I’m guessing that neighbor’s dog he refers to has a better grasp of history than John Carter.

      • “But the Climate Change issue is a serious question.”

        Which begs the question.

    • Curious George

      Would you prefer to live in North Korea, China, Russia, or Syria?

      Just to survive is not the same as to live.

  16. @jcurry “Lyell’s essay provides some words of wisdom as we seek a coherent philosophy of natural science in the 21st century, particularly as related to climate change.

    No, it doesn’t. It has nothing to do with, and greatly distracts from, the actual issue – which this site, great prose notwithstanding, is repeatedly in error on.

    It’s also more highfalutin language that obfuscates; and a generalization that while perhaps thoughtful, is either trumped in importance by the specific facts or logic of any given issue or condition, or simply used to fool oneself over said issue. As is precisely what is being done here, following the same, repeated, ongoing pattern that apparently most commenters on this site (and clearly the proprietor) are blind to, which is what is required to perpetuate the dual highly desired myths that:

    A) Increasing the level of long term atmospheric greenhouse gases to levels not seen on earth in several million years, pre-dating the current Ice Age, would not lead to an accumulation of earth/lower atmospheric energy that would change the underlying drivers of climate – ice caps, albedo, permafrost, ocean temperatures, and, along with continuing (and still increasing) atmospheric heat re radiation, ultimately shift the earth’s climate from what we are used to, greatly benefit from, and have built our world upon.

    B) The (despite a lot of misinformation to the contrary) extraordinarily large percentage of relevant disciple scientists who actually study this issue and know far more about it, have less accurate understanding of and accuracy on this issue, than, say, here, elsewhere, or a host of misinformed – often with quasi science background – citizens.

    And a very rare few actual relevant scientists, who are ideological (like this guy, who is wildly overly influential and driven by something other than science), contrarian just for the sake of being so of the attention that seems to come with it on this issue, or awash in the same avalanche of passionate misinformation on and misconstruction of what is also, while it is very simple in one sense, also a complex, probability range logical thinking issue. (And humans often suck at being logical, while perhaps possess as their greatest skill, the tendency to nevertheless believe or “know” otherwise.)

    • John Carter

      You offer nothing to justify your beliefs.

      Yes CO2 levels are increasing.

      Yes, the added CO2 has greatly improved the lives of humans

      No, we do not know what the systems sensitivity to warming to more CO2 within a reasonably small range.

      No, we do not know whether the overall system will change to lead to benefits to most of humanity or not.

      What you have is your system of beliefs that make you think that something must be done immediately

      Science has much to learn about the impact of more CO2.

      • It is a heartfelt and impassioned plea. What need is there of logic when the rhetoric is so compelling? Judith should shut up on account of John Carter disagrees with her!

    • relevant disciple scientists – John Carter.

      Ha ha ha! I couldn’t have made that up.

    • Say what?
      “About
      Long time informal analyst of NFL football, currently finishing up a book on NFL football strategy on the common underlying strategic mistakes teams make, why they make them, why they help the team’s opponent more than the team making the mistake, and how to correct them.”

      Your credentials?

      • Monday Morning Quaterbacking: for Dummies
        by Johnnie “Foosball” Carter

      • Johnny ClimateBall™

      • Look! …on The Internet!… It’s!…

      • That’s on another topic.

        And not relevant to the issue of having an honest, informed discussion with Curry about the issues I raise, and the constant pattern of issue misconstruction that goes on here.

        Regardless of my expertise on this issue (and it’s extensive, if unique – , though I notice when it comes to the world’s leading climate scientists, such credentials and expertise suddenly mean nothing at all) it isn’t relevant to the issues raised. IT is not because I am saying it; it is because of what the science is, and basic logic, which is being skewed here. And I’ve pointed that out in more detail, in some of the pieces I’ve linked to:

        http://goo.gl/4hvJmc let go of biases and pre conceived notions (to the extent possible) and read and consider with an open mind. There is much That is essentially incontrovertible science, that nevertheless essentially does not exist on this site, and plenty more that is completely misconstrued.

        And stop worrying so much about “my” writing style. I’m not going for a Pulitzer, or about credentials, and maybe consider the actual underlying substantive, points, which is seems almost every effort possible is being made, though I doubt it’s being realized, to not fully and honestly and openmindedly and reasonably consider. Or even really consider at all.

        In the pieces I have written and am working on there are plenty of links from some of the most most credentialed sources (unlike most if not all “skeptic’ work) on the planet… as well as the illumination of several critical (and incontrovertible) basic points that are being usually completely overlooked here, misrepresented, or misconstrued. Certainly in Curry’s posts. My knowledge about football (Though side note, check out that call last night on the NYJ, huh! http://goo.gl/PkKP6Q ), or any subject, isn’t relevant to the mistakes and misconstruction of the issue that Curry makes; and a focus on those mistakes, and the logic, facts, and science of the issue, in stark contrast, is.

        If there is really an earnest attempt to discuss and broaden, you can also do so on the site I have linked to at times, I will respond as genuinely as possible, explain, and try to consider what I can. Here, It’s ridiculous other than try to occasionally respond to a random point, trying to respond to two dozen comments (see above) that just try to be narky, witty and derogatory, to avoid substantively, critically, but open-mindedly considering the actual points raised, and that often misrepresent or completely miss the point, while, ironically, by repeating the exact same mistakes reviewed, simply asserting the same back.

      • You’re pinned deep in the red zone, on a fourth and 92 yards to go. You were so close in 2007. What strategy went wrong?
        ================

    • John Carter, you are a true disciple of climatology. No TRUE disciple doubts the truth as they know it. Now all you need is the jawbone of some a$$ to help convince the heathens.

    • John Carter, so if I get you right all the relevant questions are answered with certainty. In which case why just rant at JC all new climate science is just a possible confusion to the ” specific facts”.

      If there is still stuff to learn then what gives you the right to exclude JC or Spencer from that process?

      • Am not excluding anybody. If you think that is what I (or most others) are doing, then you are completely misinterpreting or construing (or even misrepresenting it, but I think it;’s the former).

        What I am doing, as part of that process, is pointing out what I have – see above for summery – harder to do in less words other than simply assert essentially the entire issue is being missed or misconstrued on this site, with almost every post.

        Of course we’re still learning, we’re still learning about everything in life. But that doesn’t negate what we do know, which this site than erroneously refutes by taking what we don’t, or levels of uncertainty, and conflating that with what we do. (as one if oversimplified example.)

      • ((Take )) your ((babbling BS) and ((shove it), (johnny)). ( )!

    • A. Sure, and any warming and greening that man can do will be a net benefit, a blessing.

      B. They exaggerate the dire.

      That’s all, folks.
      ===================

      • Your challenge, John Carter, should you choose undertake it, is to answer this comment without using parentheses.
        ==========================

    • OK John Carter, I will help you write a better comment that actually has a chance to engage the thinking of skeptics.

      First, list the points you intend to make, in outline form, unadorned. By that I mean without emotional pleas for the reader to accept them because of the fierce urgency of change or whatever.

      For each point, make a paragraph.

      For each paragraph try a simple formula for now, lead with a topic sentence. Then provide some evidence to support your assertion. For instance, you made some accusations about Curry lambasting, support it with an example; exact words. You don’t need a link, everybody has google.

      At the end, wrap it up with an appeal to logic as well as emotion. Those who substitute emotion for thought are already on your side. You are after people who like to think, whatever you may believe about them, they love to think. Use that!

      P.S. Every time you are tempted to add a parenthetical comment, write it as a separate sentence instead. Work it into the flow.

      Follow these rules and you will more likely be heard, instead of immediately tuned out, the way you are now.

      If you are still a college student, a course on “rhetoric” might help you in the struggle for the cause.

      • ==> “Those who substitute emotion for thought are already on your side.”

        Interesting.. So this is what the convincing rhetoric of an agnostic, who wants to engage, looks like.

        Thanks for demonstrating that.

      • OK, you show me the logical, evidence base points in John Carter’s post and how he develops them.

        I am an agnostic, but this argument has different kinds of thinkers on different sides.

        It might help you to imagine that all skeptics have Aspergers, but don’t say it, just imagine it to inform your rhetoric.

      • As far as I can work out, he makes one point:

        Increasing the level of long term atmospheric greenhouse gases to levels not seen on earth in several million years,

        And makes an appeal to authority though a paper “97% consensus” that is widely derided by skeptics, and a paper for which the authors, last I heard, refuse to provide the information needed to attempt to replicate it.

        A skeptic will simply dismiss the second point, and wonder, on the first point, why raising CO2 a hundred or two PPM is guaranteed to cause all of this havoc.

        What say you?

      • TJA –

        ==> “OK, you show me the logical, evidence base points in John Carter’s post and how he develops them.”

        I wasn’t talking about John’s rhetoric or his argument. I was talking about your rhetoric and your argument.

      • Of course not. I am shocked by your hit and run answer.

      • ==> “Of course not. I am shocked by your hit and run answer.”

        I have been consistent all along in focusing on your argument and rhetoric, yet while you have responded to me, you haven’t responded on those issues.

        Let me try again.

        You offered advice about rhetoric that would advance the cause of engagement, and in so doing, said the following:

        ==> “Those who substitute emotion for thought are already on your side.”

        Is that the sort of rhetoric that you think is useful for engagement? I think not. It think that it is precisely the kind of rhetoric that is counterproductive towards the goal of engagement.

        Besides being fallacious, of course (there are obviously people who substitute emotion for logic on both “sides” of the debate), it is also, IMO, tribal. It seems to me to be deliberately identity-aggressive (as a form of identity-defense, even though you don’t self-identify as a “skeptic”). In the very least, it is,of course, completely unnecessary towards improving John’s rhetoric, if that is indeed your goal.

      • Joshua, you are right about that comment. This is a new idea for me. I need to work on it.

        Both sides need to communicate with thought toward honest engagement.

      • TJA –

        ==> “Joshua, you are right about that comment.”

        Kudos.

        I don’t dismiss your point about productive rhetoric – with the caveat that it applies on both sides of the debate, which is something that seems to be a blind spot for many here.

      • People love to THINK that they are thinking, but usually don’t like to really think (unless it is along a line they want to pursue), and often use all kinds of unrecognized mind tricks to avoid thinking in a way that they don’;t want to consider, and which REALLY requires actual thinking. It”s common.

        I like doing it, but I have no ego, I don’t think being smart is a big deal, if anything I’m too smart, and it’s as much of a pain in the ass as anything, and I have no problem no loss of self, no sense that I am “less” if I am wrong.. That is pretty unusual – and I find it an odd thing of the human condition that most people feel so less about themselves when wrong, and strive so hard not to be, which is funny, because most people are all the time, and evolutionary neuroscience is even discovering a lot of the basic reasons why (as welll as substantiating my point). I think it’s beacuse most people are idiots, and think that’s a bad thing.

        It’s not. it’s what we are. Ignorance is, because as T Jefferson pointed out, one is far farther from the truth from one who knows they don’t know. And on Climate change, the ignorance is extremely far from simply not knowing (and disallows real learning), because it’s often believed, furthered, and righteously self enforced, at places like the radical Marc Moran’s climate depot, and several others, even much more so than here.

        As for not feeling lesser of oneself if one is wrong, that doesn’t mean I won’t try to advocate a point I believe or know to be right, but I do consider when wrong and don’t mind reevaluating and changing an interpretation.

        I don’t mean to write about me, and would rather not, but almost all of the comments (and on any other post as well) are directed at me and about me – notice that? – part of the same pattern to deflect, dissociate, dismiss as non relevant or nonexistent , or incorrect, the basic substantive points made.

        Oddly, going back to being “correct” or not incorrect,” one of the strongest arguments FOR basic climate change theory is the awfulnesss of the actual arguments used to “refute” it.

        Of course many can’t see that, and that is part of the broader point I am making about an insular, often bias or ideology or desire driven (along with above, wanting to think HOW we want to think and WHAT we want to think), only further enabled by a cacaphony, if not orchestra of like minds (particularly on several more extreme and incredibly misinforming sites),that creates such a self reinforcing, if not often self sealing belief, that as our minds work easily finds a way to avert what conflicts or would cause us to need to reevaluate, and skews what “could” do the opposite (as all of Curry’s posts do) to continue to reinforce.

        So someone points out the mistakes, and the substance is often ignored, and the person gets (though some are decent, thanks) writing lessens instead, as some of the more civil and “responsive” comments, all the others are less so, except a few that simply repeat the same mistakes completely oblivious to, miscontruing, or simply NOT THINKING about (or unwilling or unable to) the points made.

        I’ll end with this point, which is perhaps worth repeating more often. “A child becomes a man [or woman] when they learn they not only have the right to be right, but also, to be wrong.”

        To recognize that, and recognize where wrong, is actually a far bolder, more courageous, and far SMARTER act, than not; but we are wired to think the opposite, let alone on such a broad strategically and probabilities intertwined long time scale futuristic “set of ranges” type of issue, that is so closely tied to numerous political presumptions and beliefs, driven by a lot of ideology and desire, and simply a MASSIVE amount of misinformation on it.

      • You stand alone, egoless.
        ============

      • Cartesian doubt or John Carter Certainty?

        Say, could’nt you almost call it a law in science that a confident consensus is confronted with a newcomer’s conjecture.
        The consensus closes ranks and condemns, even tries to quell,
        the newcomer’s conjecture.
        This conjecture, or some other, eventually replaces, (refutes)
        the consensus’ confident conclusion.

        Isn’t evolutionary discovery the basis of science from Ptolemy
        to Copernicus, on to Galileo, Newton, Enstein …. from Buffon.
        on to Hutton, Lyell, Darwin …?

    • Matthew R Marler

      John Carter: Increasing the level of long term atmospheric greenhouse gases to levels not seen on earth in several million years, pre-dating the current Ice Age,

      As you probably know from reading the blog regularly, there is considerable reason to doubt that the CO2 level can be raised above 700 ppm from its present 400 ppm, and a doubling to 800 would almost certainly take more than a century. So the scientific evidence presents a reasonable case that the increase in temp during the entire 21st temperature will be a little less than 1C. These claims have been disputed, but the way your phrased the problems we may face (” Increasing the level of long term atmospheric greenhouse gases to levels not seen on earth in several million years, “) is irrelevant to the decisions required.

      • Joshua,
        Notice that MRM seized on the same sentence that I did. That should be a clue to how your target audience thinks. If you want to engage skeptics, not just hector them.

      • It is also quite possible that natural CO2 levels have frequently exceeded 400 ppm over the last million years, including during the present interglacial. Ice cores do not measure atmospheric concentrations. They are proxies. The million years meme is a myth.

      • Pretty much every sentence you wrote is nonsense. You are pigeon holing this into something it is not. But that is what most climate change naysaying (some call it denial, I don’t think that’s a great term) is about

      • You seem uniquely unqualified to understand skeptics.
        =========================

    • Curious George

      John – are you a carbon-based life form?

    • Obviscates … for some reason I have trouble saying that outloud.

  17. Dr. Roy Spencer P.H.D. is not a scientist? In what capacity are you to judge? Are you still fighting with 6 armed green giants on Mars?

    • This comment was meant for John Carter.

    • I read the John Carter of Mars books when I was 13 (in 1955), and was hooked on science-fiction for decades thereafter.

      • I was already hooked when I read them. Robert Heinlein and Andre Norton did that. The John Carter series did hook me on E R Burroughs though. The movie Tarzan can’t hold a candle to the “real” Tarzan.

      • I saw the JC flick, knowing it got panned, but was surprised that it was pretty inventive. I think a lot of it originally predated all the Star Wars and such that made a lot of the ideas passe.

        But I thought it was a pretty clever idea and decent flick, and it was probably a good book though I didn’t read it.

        I’m kinda surprised that it was considered such a lousy flick.

    • I know you were responding to someone else, but while technically he is, in a way he really isn’t, but “plays one.:” I explain why here. http://goo.gl/ZHt6ZA But you have to read the piece. By the end, as long as you actually consider you will understand why, even if you don’t agree with it all.

      Note, my analysis and assessments, made for the reasons given and under the logic therein, is no more judging than any other comment on this issue. Just because Spencer received his Phd (I would imagine I’ve studied the issue more thoroughly than he has, but that’s besides the point, and here, irrelevant), doesn’t mean he isn’t wrong. Just as climate skeptics continue to not just call the world’s leading climate scientists wrong, but on many sites, all sorts of pretty bad things.

      The differences are two fold, One is the level of simple evaluation versus outright aspersion and condemnations as individuals, and two is the substance and support,for, and logic (as opposed to appealing sounding and self reinforcing rhetoric) for the evaluations made and conclusions and assertions drawn and made.

      • Nope, it’s not the least bit irrelevant that you have studied the issue more thoroughly than he has. Don’t hide your light under a bushel.
        ==================

      • Carter fails to comprehend critical aspects of climate science. But how can that possibly be? His ideas are based on a superior appreciation of science, technology and morality. They have a force of gravitas behind that is most obviously irrefutable. As opposed to the self evidently self serving and anti-science errors of morally repugnant old white conservative deniers.

        It is all patently rubbish that misrepresents science based on the memes of interweb echo chambers in the service of pissant progressive nature religions.

        Science and policy leads elsewhere – but this is resisted and rationalised in the cognitive dissonance of the groupthink AGW cult.

        https://judithcurry.com/2014/10/09/my-op-ed-in-the-wall-street-journal-is-now-online/#comment-636801

        https://judithcurry.com/2014/10/13/my-weeks-in-review/#comment-637507

      • @kim

        It’s irrelevant to the facts of the issue, including the pattern of mistakes, and the clear ideological drive that Spencer has acknowledged, performing his work as a ‘public servant protecting people from gov.” I want to protect people from gov too, but a scientists seeking to find a way to argue an extreme interpretation in order to lessen the perceived need to address and issue, because he is scared of how gov may address it (even if that fear is rational) is not science. And it is somewhat remarkable. If same occurred in reverse, a climate scientist who was driven to skew things because he simply wanted gov to play a bigger role.

      • “Carter fails to comprehend critical aspects of climate science. ”

        This is pretty funny, coming from a person whose “views” on here would only very nicely be described by pretty much all of the world’s leading scientists who professional study this issue and make climate science, as complete bunk.

        Carter fails to agree with the extreme, often irrelevant, usually misrepresented, often highfalutin assertions of this commenter, who thus turns that into the above quoted expression, as a way to perpetuate an extreme view that alteration of the atmosphere’s basic heat energy re radiation quotient, over time, wouldn’t naturally affect what ultimately drives climate – heat energy. And thus dismiss, let alone try to consider, contemplate, or comprehend, and perspectives, facts, or analyses, that might conflict with what this commenter needs so desperately to believe.

        But doesn’t recognize it.

        In remarkable contrast with most who know this presents a serious global atmospheric and climate challenge, and,would really like to be able to believe the opposite, for multiple reasons. But the realities of science are not about “belief.” Climate denialism (I rarely use the term but it applies point blank here) is for the most part, often about this, with a mangling of the science and snippets of nice intellectual or scientific sounding prose utilized to self convince that it is actually logical analysis and “science.”

  18. The modelling approach is inherently of no value for predicting future temperature with any calculable certainty because of the difficulty of specifying the initial conditions of a sufficiently fine grained spatio-temporal grid of a large number of variables with sufficient precision prior to multiple iterations. For a complete discussion of this see Essex: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvhipLNeda4
    Models are often tuned by running them backwards against several decades of observation, this is
    much too short a period to correlate outputs with observation when the controlling natural quasi-periodicities of most interest are in the centennial and especially in the key millennial range. Tuning to these longer periodicities is beyond any computing capacity when using reductionist models with a large number of variables unless these long wave natural periodicities are somehow built into the model structure ab initio.
    In addition to the general problems of modeling complex systems as in the particular IPCC models have glaringly obvious structural deficiencies as seen in fig 2-20 from AR4 WG1- this is not very different from Fig 8-17 in the AR5 WG1 report)
    The only natural forcing in both of the IPCC Figures is TSI, and everything else is classed as anthropogenic. The deficiency of this model structure is immediately obvious. Under natural forcings should come such things as, for example, Milankovitch Orbital Cycles, lunar related tidal effects on ocean currents, earth’s geomagnetic field strength and most importantly on millennial and centennial time scales all the Solar Activity data time series – e.g., Solar Magnetic Field strength, TSI, SSNs, GCRs, (effect on aerosols, clouds and albedo) CHs, MCEs, EUV variations, and associated ozone variations.”
    It is well past time that the climate discussion moved past the consideration of the these useless models to evaluating forecasts using a completely different approach based on the natural quasi-periodicities so obviously seen in the temperature and driver record. Ms Curry still persists in essentially using the same modelling paradigm – just coming up with hopefully more accurate estimates of CS when this modeling method should to be abandoned completely.
    For forecasts of the timing and amount of the probable coming cooling based on the natural 1000 year and 60 year periodicities in the temperature record and using the 10Be and neutron count data as the best proxy for solar “activity”go to
    http://climatesense-norpag.blogspot.com

    • Dr Norman Page – You are undoubtedly right when you say “The modelling approach is inherently of no value for predicting future temperature with any calculable certainty”, but I don’t think your “because of” goes far enough (unless it is trivially true). With a complex coupled non-linear system such as climate, a model using small space-time slices cannot work over any meaningful period. The climate models are really just weather models, and even the best of those can successfully predict only a few days ahead. The climate models need to be totally re-structured and re-designed from scratch using the factors that determine climate – orbit, sun, clouds, ocean oscillations, etc, and yes including GHGs. Unfortunately we know very little about most of those factors, so that is where research should be directed.

      • PS. My above comment should have “I agree with you that” before “The climate models need to be …”.

  19. So as I read this I continually thought is this meant to be a description of the consensus or the dissenters. Disappointingly It struck me as a good description of the worst of both sides.

  20. “The primacy of the epistemic status of climate models as a source of alarming and catastrophic predictions seems to be an attempt to cut the Gordian knot of understanding climate change rather than to unravel the knot.”

    I do not think so. At least it is not so simple. IMO over the last few decades the use of models and to some extent ‘ascendency’ has occurred in a number of science disciplines. This reflects availability of hardware and software and greater ability to take on more complex calculations with that hardware and software. It may be that alignment of ambitions of some scientists and political types has promoted the excessive dependence on GCM models, but in general, across the board, in science we calculate because we can, and we will continue to do so. Unfortunately, there is something wired in our human psychology that submits too readily to calculation, be it qualified or not it is easy to fall back on. So it goes.

    • Sorry, but no amount of computing power is going to overcome the root flaws in climate models, which is that they must contain assumptions, depend on imperfect measurements, and even the stuff in them that has been “verified” cannot be said to be truly understood, especially in concert with other “verified” facts and legions of little understood forces and effects.

      • I’ve long said that even our most powerful computers, running the most sophisticated models, are merely a pitiful digital simulacrum of the great analog computer which is our climate system. It will be decades before we artificially reach similarity with the power and elegance of our natural thermosphere.
        ============

      • My point above is that the increased reliance on or use of models is not unique to climate science. The ability to calculate with facility has shaded our concepts of standards in science and technology over the last few decades.

        The common phrase, “All models are wrong,” is an admission of the limitations of models. It has unstated qualifiers, e.g., in some context, and is not a license to dismiss a model or group of models as wrong, but is an advisory to understand where the model is wrong or inappropriate. That responsibility is implicit and applies to the creator of the model and any third parties concerned with it.

      • Finally, we must admit that a model may confirm our biases and support incorrect intuitions, therefore models are most useful when used to challenge existing formulations, rather than to validate or verify them. — Naomi Oreskes 1995

        In case you missed it.

      • Kim

        The Met office is bidding to bring a new 100 million pound sterling computer to its Exeter HQ. amongst its intended uses are to provide weather forecasts down to 1km square cells or even smaller and GCM’s

        http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/Met-Office-bids-bring-100m-supercomputer-Exeter/story-21317788-detail/story.html

        To the left of that picture in the link is their wonderful library. There is also an excellent archive. I visit both for my research.

        I think the money would be better spent in digitising all climate records and research Papers of which the Met office has many volumes.

        At present only a fraction has been digitised. If its not digitised it doesn’t exist for many increasingly desk bound researchers. We are consequently unable to put the past climate into its historic context.

        Obviously that might leave a few million which they could give to me so I don’t have to rely on my modest monthly pay cheques from Big Frack.

        Tonyb

      • “In case you missed it.”

        Nope. I didn’t…not at all.

      • tonyb

        “The Met office is bidding to bring a new 100 million pound sterling computer to its Exeter HQ. amongst its intended uses are to provide weather forecasts down to 1km square cells or even smaller and GCM’s

        I think the money would be better spent in digitising all climate records and research Papers of which the Met office has many volumes. “

        As I noted above, Tony:
        “…but in general, across the board, in science we calculate because we can, and we will continue to do so. “

        Sigh.

      • Kim,that’s elegant, but it doesn’t have anything to do with the underlying issue. The elegance of that system does not exist to perpetuate the Goldilocks temperate global climate we evolved under, but to simply respond to the physical inputs upon it, in kind, and those inputs here are pretty simple. And,what most are still NOT getting, because it’s an abstraction, plus many don’t want to get it, those inputs are geologically pretty profound.

        When an above commenter, engaging in far more assumptive reaching than even the worst of the models, states that the level of change doesn’t matter, he is missing the entirety of the issue. For that is the issue, and the elegance of physics is the simple long term, if complex, and multifolding response therein – and far different from overly simplistic and vastly incorrect gg gas and air temp contemporaneous and linear increases often supposed, including even by many in the media. ,

        We simply conflate with that, something that therefore would “bend” or adapt to our own perception of what is or would be helpful or “normal,” to US, which is a complete illusion, and has no basis, logical or empirical. And say stupid things like “The climate self regulates.” Regulates as to what? Is it an organism?

        No, it’s a dynamic system of earth rock and ice with life forms living upon it, expressing energy in the form of it’s climate. a multi million year shift in that energy is relevant just by virtue of being a multi million year shift, for that reason.

        Then, the issue, is, what is that relevancy.

        That’s when an examination of the geologic record, our glacial ice sheets, ocean temps (which ultimately drive climate, while ice sheets help regulate and stabilize it, and keep albedo high) and so forth come in. And it turns out a multi million year shift upon a system that is really fairly random in terms of longer geologic time (the stability of some of the key ice sheets and massive carbon storing permafrost regions) is pretty minor, earth wise, but extremely major for us; and would create conditions that pre date our current large scale polar glaciation.

        With ongoing increased thermal energy input that starts to shift these more stable driving systems, they increasingly start to reinforce the process.Particularly with increasing additional ice (and ocean floor, depending on how far this goes, though it seems – kinda early to tell and not a great historical record – may already be starting to increase) trapped carbon release, and vastly altering albedo (even slush snow has a much lower albedo than solid frozen snow or ice).

        It’s not a linear – it’s not a tiny change will have a correlative affect, but it’s the degree of change in theory along with the strengthening of that theory by, what are to the common non scientific (or “skeptic” eye) largely hidden, but key corroborating signs, of just what the general theory would suggest.

        Models tend to mangle this, by seeking excessive precision, which is not only elusive, but in some ways meaningless – namely in the ways they are often misinterpreted in terms of their broader meaning and implications, by the lay person or occasionally the certainty “proof” seeking scientist who has become too close or too reliant upon them (as well as the skeptic, albeit far more so), We just like numbers. But they do help to further our knowledge as well as our ability to acquire and hone further knowledge, and thus are very meaningful in the more important sense.

        We’ve affected a radical transformation (to us) that dwarfs all of our inane, myopic economic assumptions about what really constitutes “growth” and “progress”; but face the reality of having to actually change positively (that many don’t want to face, in large part because he issue remains abstract, and massive misinformation has been successful in creasing sufficient confusion or even derision, or something in between the two). And do so proactively,and in a way that facilitates and promotes economic transition, to whatever extent we can, and mitigate to whatever extent we can. (And leave apology notes for future generations. Starting with this comment right here. “Sorry.”)

      • Goldilocks? Huh? You refute it within your own short missal.
        ================

  21. “warm and tedious controversy”
    Nice. When someone says ‘consensus’, think if the wording ‘no controversy’ could be used instead. If not, it is not a consensus.

  22. I really liked the ” long trains of reasoning” statement. Describes a GCM perfectly.

  23. ‘To recur to extraordinary agents’. Clearly, climate models.

    It is the radiative effect of CO2 which provides the keen edge of the sword to cut the knot. But it would be a mistake to do so; much better to pull the spindle and unravel the knot from the inside.
    ======================

  24. What makes science hard is that you have to see what is, however difficult that task might be, not what you imagine. As Lyell indicated, earlier geologists were very good at imagining and not very good at and careful, painstaking reasoning based on observation and testing.

    What makes computer science so difficult is that it places almost no constraints on a programmer’s imagination, and the human imagination is nearly infinite. In other branches of engineering, the imagination is checked on all sides by what is physically possible, with everything governed by materials, equations, and painstakingly verified rules and relations. In programming, you can ignore all those rules and create any universe you like, quickly heading off into the weeds, because it’s easier to imagine than to verify.

    In science, the most beautiful theory can be undone by one good observation, but there can exist no observations of the future, only competing speculations. That means GCM’s operate in the realm of the imagination, and to keep imagination from running off into the weeds always requires extreme discipline and heavy input from naysayers who check for any fudging, any violation of known laws, any all-too-convenient omissions, inconsistencies, or “plot holes”. Otherwise we’re all just back to consulting oracles who tell us what we must do to ensure a good harvest and a stable kingdom,

    • “What makes science hard is that you have to see what is, however difficult that task might be, not what you imagine.”

      Did Yukawa see what is or imagine what could be? And Dirac?

      • The point is, they kept their imagination grounded. A physicist could imagine a thousand other ways subatomic particles might behave, and without the work of experimental physicists, and other theoretical physicists looking to poke holes in all the new theories, the whole exercise is just speculative science fiction like worm holes and time travel.

      • Another way to put this is that you’re not going anywhere new without imagination, but only a small subset of the places your imagination can take you will exist in the physical world.

      • And my point is merely that you handicapped imagination too much in your ‘authoritative’ statement. It looked like–and was–a fun tweak. IMO justified, too.

      • George Turner | October 14, 2014 at 8:00 pm |

        …but only a small subset of the places your imagination can take you will exist in the physical world.”

        and unfortunately we do not know the extent of the physical world. But I get and agree with the gist of where you are going. Cheers.

  25.  

    Global Warming

    Never was there a dogma more calculated
    to foster indolence, and to blunt
    the keen edge of curiosity.

     

    ~Charles Lyell, Principles of Geology (London, 1833)

  26. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    The STEM community has dealt — rationally and responsibly — with life-or-death complex dynamics before

    Climate-science dynamics is like aircraft dynamics  Both are microscopic Hamiltonian flows with exact conservation laws (of energy, mass, and momentum), whose macroscopic dynamics is characterized by turbulent approach to thermodynamic equilibrium.

    Experiments and observations are complicated  Paleo data, satellite data, and wind-tunnel data *ALIKE* are tough to disentangle.

    Theory and simulation *ALIKE* are complicated  Increasingly the big computer codes validate the data, observations, and simple models.

    Good news  *EVERYONE* appreciates that (nowadays) we can land aircraft safely & reliably. Although making it look simple isn’t easy!

    More good news  And *EVERYONE* appreciates too, that (nowadays) we can avert global climate-change economically and responsibly. Although making it look simple won’t be easy!

    These rapidly accelerating 21st century STEM capabilities are good news for conservative and liberal citizens alike — especially young people and their families — 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}

    • Finally, we must admit that a model may confirm our biases and support incorrect intuitions, therefore models are most useful when used to challenge existing formulations, rather than to validate or verify them. Naomi Oreskes – 1995 Validation, verification and confirmation of numerical models in the earth sciences

      Is Oreskes a big oil funded denier?

    • Climate science is not at all like aircraft dynamics. Climate science occurs almost entirely in the roundoff error of aircraft dynamics, the tiny residual motions and condensation driven motions that aerospace engineering ignores because they’re unimportant to a supercritical airfoil smacking air aside at 600 mph over a distance of ten feet. That’s why they happily use Navier-Stokes equations even though those are invalid if evaporation or condensation occur. Those effects just aren’t that significant for a wing.

      Most climate models don’t even obey the law of conservation of momentum. They include Coriolis forces, but those don’t have a vertical component that would conserve a air-parcel’s horizontal momentum. When something moves up, it also has to move west. When something moves down, it should move east. That’s missing, as is Newton’s square law gravity. Such simplifications, and others, are required just to make the numerical solutions tractable.

      • RIght, exactly. FOMD, like Michael, Jim D, and Michael Mann for that matter, seem to think that techniques applied to closed systems where conditions are known, where the time domain of all significant effects are known, and where tests can be run that take into account all of these factors apply to climate where the signal is the noise.

    • Fan

      You said;

      ‘We can avert global climate change.’

      We have always had periods of global climate change. Are you saying we can now avert ‘natural’ climate chanGe AND that change supposedly caused by AGW?

      How do we do that? How do you differentiate between the two?

      Tonyb

    • Let me summarize:

      Airplanes can fly so let’s panic about CAWG.

      Boring. I wish you were at east funny.

    • Interested Bystander

      More good news And *EVERYONE* appreciates too, that (nowadays) we can avert global climate-change economically and responsibly.

      Oh really? Please elaborate. Being able to avert global climate change economically is something I have not seen, and can we do it while bringing the 2+ billion people who live on less than $2/day up to an acceptable standard of living?

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Interested Bystander is concerned about “bringing the 2+ billion people who live on less than $2/day up to an acceptable standard of living?”

        Hmmm … 100,000 consecutive years of a global carbon-energy economy — wood, coal, gas, and oil — and a huge proportion of humanity *STILL* lives in desperate poverty?

        Gosh … maybe carbon-energy economies don’t work all that well?

        Do yah think?

        The world wonders!

        \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}

      • That level of sophistry is beneath even you, FOMD.

      • Interested Bystander

        “Hmmm … 100,000 consecutive years of a global carbon-energy economy — wood, coal, gas, and oil — and a huge proportion of humanity *STILL* lives in desperate poverty?

        Gosh … maybe carbon-energy economies don’t work all that well?

        Do yah think?

        The world wonders!”

        Will wonders never cease? A fan of *MORE* discourse begs the question yet again.

      • Still preliminary but there have been three different announcements

        I wonder how FOMD would feel if the free market brought an end to the fossil fuel area and brought cheap energy to Africa, India, etc, the power to run massive desalinization plants. Hugely devalued oil deposits, to the point that we no longer fought wars over them and could leave the oil and coal in the ground.

        The stone age didn’t end because we ran out of stones FOMD.

    • Didn’t we learn how to take off, fly and land those suckers before we did the math?

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Tom Fuller wonders “Didn’t we [the Wright brothers] learn how to take off, fly and land those suckers before we did the math?”

        The short answer is “no”, as the Wright brothers’ extensive (and collegial) mathematical correspondence with (government scientist/engineer) Samuel Pierpont Langley shows plainly.

        “”The best dividends on the labor invested, have invariably come from seeking more knowledge rather than more [engine] power.”

        — Orville Wright

        Lesson-learned  In pioneering climate-science as in pioneering aviation, strong mathematical modeling beats intuitive guesswork!

        @book{, Address = {London}, Author = {Tobin, James}, Publisher = {John Murray}, Title = {First to {F}ly: the {U}nlikely {T}riumph of {W}ilbur and {O}rville {W}right}, Year = {2003}}
        

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      • Mathematical models about closed mechanical systems using known and understood laws of physics.

        Apples and Oranges when compared to climate models, as even Naomi Oreskes allows:

        Finally, we must admit that a model may confirm our biases and support incorrect intuitions, therefore models are most useful when used to challenge existing formulations, rather than to validate or verify them. Naomi Oreskes.

        You should read her paper, google scholar, it is not behind any paywall.

      • Fanny, Bernoulli’s equations aren’t rocket science.

  27. “the entire unconsciousness …. of the extent of their own ignorance”

    Don’t fumble your humble.

    Bill James: “The greatest barrier to understanding things is the conviction that you already understand them.”

  28. Matthew R Marler

    JC reflections: The primacy of the epistemic status of climate models as a source of alarming and catastrophic predictions seems to be an attempt to cut the Gordian knot of understanding climate change rather than to unravel the knot.

    That is an excellent adaptation of one of Lyell’s sentences.

    If the models can be developed to where they are reasonably complete representations of all the dynamic processes, and if the parameters can ever be estimated with sufficient accuracy, then the day may come when the models make reasonably accurate predictions (at least of functionals like means, variances and percentiles.) That is one of the aspirations of the model builders to achieve just such accuracy. I think that the primacy of the epistemic status of the climate models is due to the fact that the parts of the models (e.g. such science as is presented in the textbooks) are well-grounded in research. The liabilities result from the facts that the models are not sufficiently complete and detailed, and not all parameters are estimated with sufficient accuracy. I wouldn’t agree that it is an “attempt” to cut the Gordian Knot (it is a stage in the unraveling), but there is a premature belief that the models are now sufficiently accurate.

    Then again, according to the research on cognitive dissonance, people are motivated to simplify and rationalize their thinking when they have dissonant beliefs, so perhaps the phrase ” attempt to cut the Gordian Knot” may be justified.

    It was fun reading that essay.

    • “That is an excellent adaptation of one of Lyell’s sentences. “

      An excellent adaption, but is it particular ‘true’ or useful. Not to you or me (above). ;O) Clever but…

    • Curious George

      “That is one of the aspirations of the model builders to achieve just such accuracy.” How will they know that they have achieved it? I was looking in vain for a rigorous analysis of a model accuracy – both numerics and physics.

      An estimate of of a numerical error is relatively easy to make: run your calculations in an interval arithmetic. Even that has never been attempted.

  29. Rotman Inst. looks great – have a good time!

  30. Looking at the anti-science of global warming alarmism in the context of Charles Lyell’s observations back in the early 1800s shows us that little has changed over the years. We were wrong to have put scientists and academia on a pedestal to begin with. The promise of universal education has in the end been a sorry delusion. All we have accomplished as a society is the creation of yet another unaccountable government-funded bureaucracy: society is still in the grips of superstition and ignorance only now the witchdoctors have PhDs.

    • “Looking at the anti-science of global warming alarmism …”
      A profound indictment of climate science as practiced in the main but not complete. After all, there are all of you skeptics, who, though vastly outnumbered and outspent, have accomplished a great deal in slowing down this beast of CAGW.
      The only difference between a control freak with a PhD and one without a PhD is that the PhD has a lot more potential to do damage.
      From the Pharohs of Ancient Egypt to the wannabe Pharos of ISIL or America’s academia, the thing that they hold in common is a desire to stop everything. Stasis is what holds an attraction for them. No one moves except by the leave of a superior and everything gets passed through a central committee for approval or disapproval and if people die waiting for an answer it’s the price to be paid for security. Al Gore and all his wannabe sycophants would love nothing more than to hold the country by the throat and to smile a big benevolent smile when he (or they) confers favor on you and allows you to breath as he breaths in the addictive essence all narcissists yearn for: other people’s approval.
      They are opposed by people who find that system death itself. Those would be people who thrive on change, dynamism, creativity, competition, challenge. These are messy things to the person who desires stasis and to be avoided, condemned and constrained at all costs. Consider the psychological state of someone who warns that “Giving society cheap, abundant energy . . . would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.” This isn’t just a different idea. This is the kind of worldview that slaughtered millions in Russia and China, that brought about a ban on DDT while millions died from malaria. No one responsible for any of that has ever uttered an apology.
      Read through the statements by people like Ted Turner, Maurice Strong, Jeremy Rifkin, Michael Mann et al and the stench of dead bodies piling up is unbearable and unavoidable, given their ideas, yet they don’t flinch or pause.
      This is a psychological thread that runs through the Left and every authoritarian, top down, centralized control system in history.
      There is no avoiding its challenge or politely accommodating these people. I don’t know the future but if I were writing fiction I’d say, ‘War is Coming.’ Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. We are back inside a bubble again with our economy and the people that run the Fed are running the same programs that got us into the financial meltdown a few years ago and are pushing us right into another one. A financial collapse will play well into the motives of the CAGW crowd and be a complete disaster for the rest of us.
      Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

      • “the thing that they hold in common is a desire to stop everything. Stasis is what holds an attraction for them.” The nature of existence is constant change, both at the sub-atomic level and in larger aggregations. I don’t know about climate scientists per se, but many warmistas, sustainabilists etc seem to deny this fundamental underlying reality.

        If you know only one thing in life, let it be that the essence of existence is constant change.

      • What a fantastic post, Daniel. Kudos. Can I tell you my favorite part?

        ==> “From the Pharohs of Ancient Egypt to the wannabe Pharos of ISIL or America’s academia, the thing that they hold in common is a desire to stop everything. ”

        YES I never thought before of how one can see that direct line between the Pharohs of Ancient Egypt, ISIL, and America’s academia. Amazing that it’s so obvious, yet still somehow escaped by awareness.

        Imagine how much poorer off we’d all be without contributions to Judith’s extended peer review, such as yours. I shudder to think of what life would be like without such well-reasoned analysis and commentary.

      • On 2nd thought, I think this was my favorite part (honestly, it’s so hard to choose…I could have picked any part, really).

        ==> “We are back inside a bubble again with our economy and the people that run the Fed are running the same programs that got us into the financial meltdown a few years ago and are pushing us right into another one. A financial collapse will play well into the motives of the CAGW crowd and be a complete disaster for the rest of us.”

        Thanks God that folks like you are around to protect us from the alarmists, eh?

      • When the Old Kingdom collapsed around 2200 BC due to actual climate change the pharaohs could at least plead ignorance. Modern luvviedom cannot plead ignorance…it just chooses what to know and what not to know.

        It’s like that subglacial ash sheet the size of Wales near Pine Island Glacier. Right now one is not disposed to notice. One desires discussion of other matters in regard to Western Antarctica.

        Perhaps a little modelling to obscure these unsightly observations…

      • A lot of serious thinkers tried to tell us academia never really had actual scientific evidence to back up anything they said about global warming and also that the Democrat party was engaging in nothing more than a hoax to scare the public. Global warming has been a Left vs. right issue so it was never a matter of science from the get-go and yet voters continued to return climate hoaxsters to public office. The Left’s scare tactics worked.

      • Joshua, the term “luvvie” has long been used in the UK as a satirical or derogatory term for an actor or actress, especially one who is particularly effusive or affected. Luvvies tend, in my experience, to be drawn to support emotionally-engaging and trendy causes and fads, without determining the facts and consequences involved. The term has probably been extended beyond the actin g fraternity in Australia. I suspect that there are few luvvies in mosomoso’s Dongdingaling habitat.

      • The odd fact is that they imagine they are not all of these things and worse.

        https://judithcurry.com/2014/03/21/growth-versus-sustainability/#comment-502318

        These are people who conflate scenarios of climate catastrophism with overweening ambitions for societal and economic transformation.

      • ”My three goals would be to reduce human population to about 100 million worldwide, destroy the industrial infrastructure and see wilderness, with its full complement of species, returning throughout the world.”
        David Foreman, co-founder of Earth First!

        Hard to tell what a ‘climate scientist’ is.

        ‘Responses to climate change are not only a matter of infrastructural adjustments, like building
        dikes, or technical innovations such as implementing renewable energies. They also
        include fundamental changes in our way of
        living, urban and regional planning, mobility
        patterns, land and water use, production processes, consumption patterns, nature
        conservation, and energy demand. Climate
        change responses also challenge the ways
        that humans think about and interact with
        the environment and each other. As such,
        all climate challenges are also societal
        challenges. Thus, it is fair to say that
        effective responses to climate change involve
        complex processes of societal transformations
        that should be studied as such (Van Nieuwaal
        et al. 2009:7). The concept of ‘societal transformation’ refers to alterations of society’s
        systemic characteristics and encompasses
        social, cultural, technological, political, economic
        and legal change.’ Driessen et al

        Whatever language it is couched in – these are ideas that are not classically liberal.

      • We’ve had some luvvies in the ‘dong. Got most of them in the last cull.

        Hard to feel tenderly toward Gaia after the bower birds, possums and wallabies have torn apart the latest permaculture experiment. And I wish the pythons and goannas would settle their annual spring brawl for my roof space so I could get some quiet up there. (At least they kick out the possums.)

        Can’t wait to get a pied-a-terre in a town again so I can grow something to eat beside moso shoots and bush lemons. My god I love gigantic supermarkets and food that does big miles for me. Maybe if I lived in the city I’d love possums, wallabies and bower birds, but right now that’s a stretch.

      • You mean apart from the fact that climate science isn’t remotely what ‘climate scientists’ say it is.

        https://judithcurry.com/2014/10/13/my-weeks-in-review/#comment-637507

        ”The only way to get our society to truly change is to frighten people with the possibility of a catastrophe.”
        Emeritus Professor Daniel Botkin
        ”Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?”
        Maurice Strong,
        Founder of the UN Environmental Program
        ”A massive campaign must be launched to de-develop the United States. De-Development means bringing our economic system into line with the realities of ecology and the world resource situation.”
        Paul Ehrlich,
        Professor of Population Studies,
        Author: “Population Bomb”, “Ecoscience”
        ”If I were reincarnated I would wish to return to earth as a killer virus to lower human population levels.”
        Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh,
        husband of Queen Elizabeth II,
        Patron of the Patron of the World Wildlife Foundation
        ”The only hope for the world is to make sure there is not another United States. We can’t let other countries have the same number of cars, the amount of industrialization we have in the US. We have to stop these third World countries right where they are.”
        Michael Oppenheimer

        Obviously Prince Phillip is not a ‘climate scientist’ either.

        etc etc – deny it all you will Michael – it remains true that the moral repugnance of the new progressive is the real problem.

      • ‘Scientist Dr. Daniel Botkin Tells Congress why he reversed his belief in global warming to become a skeptic: ‘There are several lines of evidence suggesting that it (AGW) is a weaker case today, not a stronger case’ — Rips Obama climate report as ‘filled with misstatements contradicted by well-established and well-known scientific papers.’ Climate Depot

        So Botkin has resiled from his morally repugnant musings on scaring people with disaster scenarios? Well that’s a start.

        But I don’t there were many ‘climate scientists’ in Egypt or are in ISIL.

        It’s more the old saw.

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

        These people in the list I assume Micheal hasn’t looked at are not even all that saintly to start with.

      • ‘Climate scientists’ Michael – get it right. This is not actual science – there is just the weirdness of the Borg collective cult of AGW space cadets.

        I personally don’t believe ‘climate scientists’ for a moment. It is is fact pretty obvious. The temperature rise between 1944 and 1998 was 0.4 degrees C. The rate of increase was 0.07 degrees C/decade. Rather than the pause ending in September 2014 – it is much more likely to persist for decades. Climate is unpredictable – future warming is far from guaranteed.

        It is not climate science we need to worry about but ‘climate science’ of the 97% pure codswallop variety.

  31. Does a Global Temperature Exist?
    Christopher Essex
    Department of Applied Mathematics
    University of Western Ontario
    Ross McKitrick
    Department of Economics
    University of Guelph
    Bjarne Andresen
    Niels Bohr Institute
    University of Copenhagen
    J. Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamics
    (in press, June 2006)
    http://academic.research.microsoft.com/Publication/4826459/does-a-global-temperature-exist

  32.  
    To JC from DJC

    “Climate models diminish the importance of actually reasoning about diverse types of evidence.” Well said JC.

    Real world temperature data proves beyond doubt that the most prevalent greenhouse gas, water vapor, causes mean daily maximum and minimum temperatures to be lower because its radiating properties work against the gravitationally-induced temperature gradient in the troposphere. This lowers the gradient and thus lowers the supporting temperature by about 10 to 12 degrees, as is confirmed by empirical evidence. Further evidence from other planets reinforces what I say. Because of this it is blatantly obvious to all those who are not gullible and understand thermodynamics that the greenhouse conjecture is totally false and carbon dioxide, like water vapor, actually cools, but only very slightly, perhaps less than 0.1 degree.

    All climate follows natural cycles which are very evident in the inverted plot of the scalar sum of the angular momentum of the Sun and all the planets. In that plot (calculated from planetary orbits) we can predict slight cooling till 2028, then 30 years of warming (by about half a degree) and then 500 years of long-term cooling with superimposed 60 year cycles. This plot has been on my earth-climate dot com website for three years.
    .
    DJC

    • DJC
      Would you then agree with the folks who think the 96.5% CO2 atmosphere on Venus is not responsible for the ~700F surface temperature but is more a property of the adiabatic lapse rate under great pressure?

    • DJC Looks like we are on the same page – see my cooling forecasts at
      http://climatesense-norpag.blogspot.com
      here is a part of the conclusions

      “In earlier posts on this site http://climatesense-norpag.blogspot.com at 4/02/13 and 1/22/13
      I have combined the PDO, ,Millennial cycle and neutron trends to estimate the timing and extent of the coming cooling in both the Northern Hemisphere and Globally.
      Here are the conclusions of those posts.
      1/22/13 NH Forecast
      1) The millennial peak is sharp – perhaps 18 years +/-. We have now had 16 years since 1997 with no net warming – and so might expect a sharp drop in a year or two – 2014/16 – with a net cooling by 2035 of about 0.35.Within that time frame however there could well be some exceptional years with NH temperatures +/- 0.25 degrees colder than that.
      2) The cooling gradient might be fairly steep down to the Oort minimum equivalent which would occur about 2100. (about 1100 on Fig 5) ( Fig 3 here) with a total cooling in 2100 from the present estimated at about 1.2 +/-.
      3) From 2100 on through the Wolf and Sporer minima equivalents with intervening highs to the Maunder Minimum equivalent which could occur from about 2600 – 2700 a further net cooling of about 0.7 degrees could occur for a total drop of 1.9 +/- degrees.
      4) The time frame for the significant cooling in 2014 – 2016 is strengthened by recent developments already seen in solar activity. With a time lag of about 12 years between the solar driver proxy and climate we should see the effects of the sharp drop in the Ap Index which took place in 2004/5 in 2016-17……….

      …………………
      3.2 2014 Updates and Observations..
      3.2.1 Updates
      a) NH Forecast- item 4. With regard to timing, closer examination of the Ap Index (Fig13) and Neutron Count (Fig.14) would suggest that the sharpest drop in activity is better placed at 2005/6 with the associated sharp temperature drop now forecast at 2017-18.
      b) Global Forecast – item1. Significant temperature drop now forecast for 2017-18.
      c) Global Forecast – item 9. Another year of flat Livingston and Penn umbral data suggests that a swift decline into a Maunder Minimum is now very unlikely.
      3.2.2. Observations.
      a) Solar Cycle 24 peak.
      During the last year, Solar cycle 24 developed a second and higher Sunspot peak in February 2014 and activity has declined sharply since then. This decline should be reflected in a rapid increase in the Neutron Count in another 4 or 5 months, and the possible beginning of a more pronounced cooling phase. The sharp decline in solar activity since February may also lead to the non-appearance of the much anticipated El Nino”

      • Dr, Page and Dr, Cook:

        You fine scholars of the first water are a rare gem of mind indeed. Of course, your cutting edge works are scorned by the establishment and political hacks that populate ivory towers in our nations august institutions of higher learning. This, in and of itself, is prima facie proof that your thermos and predilections are congruent with the truth of natures god.

        Your humble servant,

        Dr. Irwin Corey
        http://www.artbell.com

  33. To believe mankind can counter the effect of these powerful natural climate controllers [volcanic eruptions, a massive asteroid strike, solar cycles and sunspots, changes in Earth’s orbit and magnetism, cosmic rays, cloud formation] by trading carbon credits and capturing a few sea breezes and sunbeams using green energy toys is indeed a sad sign of the modern climate madness. ~Viv Forbes

  34. 180 years on, geologists have moved on from non-data-based speculation and philosophising to be some of the best commentators on climate change. Perhaps in the next 180 years, climate scientists will undergo a similar transformation.

  35. Earth is warming. Caused by human CO2 emissions.

    It’s time to deal with it.

    • Why, Markus? What’s the problem? (please quantify the problem in units we can all understand)

    • Markus

      The earth has been warming for the last 300 or 400 Years

      http://www.earth.lsa.umich.edu/climate/core.html

      At what point did the natural warming change to human caused warming?

      Tonyb

      • What caused the 400 year warming in the first place and why 1970?

        Tonyb

      • Tonyb,

        Yes. And it’s been cooling for 50 million years, 1 million years, 8,000 years, and after each interglacial maximum (we’ve already passed the most recent interglacial maximum). If not for our GHG emissions we’d be heading for then next abrupt cooling event and catastrophic climate change. [A point Kim has made concisely and with humour many times].

    • Markus,

      I am not playing dumb. I think you don’t understand what you are talking about. So I was asking you to explain the basis for your belief “It’s time to deal with it.” What do you mean by “it” in quantifiable terms? What is the problem you envisage – quantified please?

      [Note: degrees of temperature change is not a measure of impact that is relevant for policy analysis. The impacts of GHG emissions need to be quantified in units that are widely accepted and widely applicable to all threats and generally used in policy analysis.

    • Is it cooler today than 10,000 years ago? How about 4,000 or 2,000? Is there an average global temperature everyone on the global actually agrees with?

    • There are two separate problems. How to define risk in a chaotic climate and what to do about it.

      https://judithcurry.com/2014/10/13/my-weeks-in-review/#comment-637507

    • Markus – it’s space aliens wot done it!

    • Earth is warming. Caused by human CO2 emissions.

      It’s time to deal with it.

      It’s There’s time to deal with it.

      As quickly as possible without impacting the rapid development of the world to a western-type lifestyle.

      Deal with it!

    • Markus,
      Why not,
      “Earth is warming. Caused by human CO2 emissions.”
      Time to party! …as we stave off the next little ice age. Fire up the SUVs and coal fired power plant. Plant life will love us for it and wild animal life will prosper as a result of it. A warmer climate means a longer growing season north of lat 49 degrees. And it means fewer people die from the cold and fewer resources used for staving off the cold. Whatever land loss there is from a rising ocean will be more than made up for by land recovered where it’s too cold to live. Let the good times roll.

    • I am dealing with it Markus. I’m driving over to the wine shop to pick up a case of sangeovese. Going to grill a steak and enjoy it on my brightly lit patio deck under the propane heat lamp, while I watch the Balt – KC game on the widescreen.

      So, what’s a dufus like you doing about it?

  36. Joshua,
    You’re lame attempt at humor is noted. Now perhaps you’d like to tell me what your objection is to finding a common thread to all totalitarian ideologies and why asserting that those drawn to totalitarianism share a common psychological core. While it can be argued it’s more complex than what I stated, this is a blog thread and not a book.

    • Daniel –

      You misunderstand.

      I have no objection. I don’t object in the least.

      In fact, far from objecting, I think it is quite amusing that you would make your comparison of the Pharaohs of Egypt to ISIS and American Academia. It’s very creative. It shows the impressive ability of the human mind to draw patterns based on a selective approach to the available information. It shows the powerful influence of motivated reasoning and cultural cognition.

      Kind of like this – which is also quite impressive, I think.

      I think that Judith’s valuing a forum – where your kind of reasoning is so ubiquitous with nary a comment of dissent from the predominating type of reader (and no doubt many virtual nods in agreement) – as a kind of “extended peer review,” to be quite interesting also.

      • generalizing from auditory and visual illusions to motivated reasoning,
        is, well, an illusion.
        You see what the the difference is, don’t you?

      • Josua,
        “where your kind of reasoning is so ubiquitous”
        What kind of reasoning would that be? Seeing patterns where there are none is a possibility. Seeing patterns where others don’t, is also a possibility. Seeing patterns that most people see is another. Given that, how do you differentiate between patterns seen that are either absent or irrelevant and patterns seen that are missed by most? Surely, you’re not saying that all patterns discerned are, per se, false. It follows then that your dismissive attitude is either a knee jerk reaction caused by your ideological stance or you have some reasoned objection to my suggesting that there is a common core, a common constellation of traits that identifies the psychology of those who are attracted to totalitarian movements. Or authoritarianism. I didn’t think this was controversial. Eric Hoffer wrote a book on it: The True Believer. Eric Fromm and Hannah Arendt have written on it. As have many others.
        My contention is that the driving motive behind CAGW is not science but psychology and that the ‘science’ is, in the case of CAGW, but a handmaiden to the psychology.
        Even if you could prove beyond any reasonable doubt that anthropogenic warming was a fact, you would still have to consider the best response and I find it highly interesting that the people who are most fervent in pushing notions like ‘the consensus’ are also the same people pushing authoritarian, top down, centralized control solutions.
        Why is that, do you suppose?

      • Daniel –

        As you have alluded to, a basic attribute in our reasoning is that we create meaning by identifying patterns. It is a very useful system. It is also prone to leading to problematic reasoning – particularly because of the influences of motivated reasoning, confirmation bias, cultural cognition, etc.

        We can find any number of ways to use patterns to connect any variety of disparate entities. At some level, it is a matter of opinion as to which patterns of shared attributes are really meaningful.

        For example, on the one hand members of ISIS and American Academia, for the most part, all share certain physical characteristic. They share some huge portion of their genetic features. On the other hand, ISIS beheads people on videos and kills girls for going to school. Members of American Academia do not.

        I have worked in American Academia. I have many criticisms of American Academia. I think that drawing a parallel between ISIS and American Academia is, quite frankly, very flawed as a meaningful analysis.

        So, you are certainly entitled to see some significant pattern of similarities between the Egyptian Pharaohs, ISIS, and American Academia, just as I am entitled to see the pattern that you think to be significant to be essentially meaningless, and actually an amusing example of highly flawed pattern-finding.

        I feel the same way about the connections drawn when libz say that conservatives are “The American Taliban” or that the Tea Party are like “proto-Nazis.” I view such characterizations as the product of the identity-aggressive and identity-defensive behaviors that are associated with cultural cognition and motivated reasoning.

        I don’t understand why you’d want to engage in discussion with someone that you think is comparable to, perhaps, the most abhorrent group in the world today, but I certainly see no further point in engaging with someone who views me in such a manner. I feel no need to persuade someone who is deeply embedded in such a flawed reasoning process that he thinks that somehow I’m meaningfully similar to people who behead non-believers on videotape.

        I felt that there was some value in pointing out and laughing at the extreme nature of your pattern-finding, but my point has been made now. Numerous times, in fact. No point in further discussion, IMO, unless you acknowledge the highly flawed aspect of your reasoning.

        I will continue to ask Judith and other SWIRLCAREs, however, why they see some great value in the input of people who reason such as you do. I hold out some faint hope that they will realize that w/r/t engaging in productive dialog, it is counterproductive to be associated with reasoning such as that you have put on display.

        I will make one request – that even though I won’t engage with you anymore in serious discussion, you continue to post analyses such as you have in this thread. I think that is somewhat useful, although it does seem that the repeated and similar arguments such as those made by Chief, Peter Lang, CWON, Wags, faustino (alas), etc. doesn’t seem to have had much of a significant influence on the thinking of people like Judith.

      • Daniel –

        As you have alluded to, a basic attribute in our reasoning is that we create meaning by identifying patterns. It is a very useful system. It is also prone to leading to problematic reasoning – particularly because of the influences of motivated reasoning, confirmation bias, cultural cognition, etc.

        We can find any number of ways to use patterns to connect any variety of disparate entities. At some level, it is a matter of opinion as to which patterns of shared attributes are really meaningful.

        For example, on the one hand members of ISIS and American Academia, for the most part, all share certain physical characteristic. They share some huge portion of their genetic features. On the other hand, ISIS beheads people on videos and kills girls for going to school. Members of American Academia do not.

        I have worked in American Academia. I have many criticisms of American Academia. I think that drawing a parallel between ISIS and American Academia is, quite frankly, very flawed as a meaningful analysis.

        So, you are certainly entitled to see some significant pattern of similarities between the Egyptian Pharaohs, ISIS, and American Academia, just as I am entitled to see the pattern that you think to be significant to be essentially meaningless, and actually an amusing example of highly flawed pattern-finding.

        I feel the same way about the connections drawn when libz say that conservatives are “The American Taliban” or that the Tea Party are like “proto-N*zis.” I view such characterizations as the product of the identity-aggressive and identity-defensive behaviors that are associated with cultural cognition and motivated reasoning.

        I don’t understand why you’d want to engage in discussion with someone that you think is comparable to, perhaps, the most abhorrent group in the world today, but I certainly see no further point in engaging with someone who views me in such a manner. I feel no need to persuade someone who is deeply embedded in such a flawed reasoning process that he thinks that somehow I’m meaningfully similar to people who behead non-believers on videotape.

        I felt that there was some value in pointing out and laughing at the extreme nature of your pattern-finding, but my point has been made now. Numerous times, in fact. No point in further discussion, IMO, unless you acknowledge the highly flawed aspect of your reasoning.

        I will continue to ask Judith and other SWIRLCAREs, however, why they see some great value in the input of people who reason such as you do. I hold out some faint hope that they will realize that w/r/t engaging in productive dialog, it is counterproductive to be associated with reasoning such as that you have put on display.

        I will make one request – that even though I won’t engage with you anymore in serious discussion, you continue to post analyses such as you have in this thread. I think that is somewhat useful, although it does seem that the repeated and similar arguments such as those made by Chief, Peter Lang, CWON, Wags, faustino (alas), etc. doesn’t seem to have had much of a significant influence on the thinking of people like Judith.

    • There’s more needed to explain the eagerness of academia to stab America in the back and say nothing as the Left lied to the people. “I am often asked,” says Roy Spencer (2010), “So, are you saying there is a conspiracy here?” Spencer says there was no conspiracy, “because the ultimate goals were not a secret. Just a bunch of elitists carrying out plans that the politicians supported – with continuing promises of congressional funding for research that those politicians knew would support Job #1 of government – to stay needed by the people. Many of the scientists involved are just along for a ride on the gravy train. Even I ride that train. The elitism clearly shows through in the behavior of those who speak out publically on the need for humanity to change its Earth-destroying ways: Al Gore, James Cameron, Harrison Ford, Julia Roberts, RFK, Jr.”

      • Wagathon,
        Is there a conspiracy? That often comes up in this blog and I get it thrown at me when I argue about the ‘culture’ or zeitgeist of the CAGW crowd. There is no conspiracy but how to explain what looks like a conspiracy?
        I think the following by Christopher Essex and Ross McKitrick is as good an explanation for what looks like a conspiracy but isn’t, as I have ever found.

        “What is being pushed can be best characterized by what we call the Doctrine of Certainty. The Doctrine is a collection of now-familiar assertions made about climate, all of which are to be accepted without question, because, as its supporters say, “the time for questioning is over.” The basic not-to-be-questioned assertions of the Doctrine are as follows:

        1. The Earth is warming.
        2. Warming has already been observed.
        3. Humans are causing it.
        4. All but a handful of scientists on the fringe believe it.
        5. Warming is bad.
        6. Action is required immediately.
        7. Any action is better than none.
        8. Claims of uncertainty only cover the ulterior motives of individuals aiming to stop needed action.
        9. Those who defend uncertainty are bad people.

        The Doctrine is not true. Each assertion is either manifestly false or the claim to know it is false. We will elaborate below on which is which and why, while clarifying the assertions themselves. However, for now, the question arises as to how such a false doctrine could have come to thoroughly enthrall all parties concerned with this subject: the press, governments, non-governmental organizations, scientific and educational organizations, and corporations.

        Certainly no one planned it. There are far too many people and groups with divergent interests. What would be the payoff that these sharply divergent interests could even agree to? Furthermore, the vast majority of supporters of the Doctrine, within those sectors, arc undoubtedly well-intentioned individuals, with the best interests of our world at heart. Few would enter this field for selfish gain.

        Each party works with its own distinct agenda. Within each group there is a range of views on the global warming issue. Shouldn’t their efforts, therefore, lead to a variety of conflicting ideas about warming, instead of a single dominant (false) doctrine? Not necessarily. It is a well-known phenomenon in nonlinear dynamics that when two mechanical clocks, keeping different time, are placed on the same shelf, they can both start to keep the same time. No one adjusts the clocks. they just start to keep the same time due to their interactions through the shelf.

        The effect is called “phase locking.” It means that different systems having different properties can start to beat the same tune. All they may need is to be dynamically engaged with one another. This is self-organization in its simplest form. Of course the organized outcome belongs to no one component. If they were human groups, then the out-come need not correspond to the aims of any of the groups. In that sense. the self-organized outcome would be an unintended consequence of their interactions.

        This too is a well-known phenomenon in the mathematical theory of games: a field that caught a lot of attention because of the movie A Beaulifid Mind. A group of individuals share a common goal. Each pursues it with whatever individual strategy seems best. Yet at the end of the game the group finds itself locked into an outcome that undermines the original aims—an unintended consequence.

        The parties concerned with global warming are not independent, because larger circumstances force them to be fully engaged with each other. Their relationships are awkward and strained. The press. politicians, and scientists, for example, all depend on each other, yet regard one another with suspicion. Each group nurtures stereotypes of the others. Everyone knows some of the cliches: scientists never give straight answers that people can understand or care about, journalists distort and dumb down the truth to sell news to the lowest common denominator, and politicians don’t tell the truth.

        These cliches suggest a kind of coherence in how the parties interact with each other. The cliches imply strategics: journalists ignore scientific uncertainty because “scientists never get to the point,” or scientists come to think the only way to get the attention of journalists and politicians of their important work is to embellish and exaggerate, because “journalists only want scandal and sensation.” While no party is dictating the agenda, the combination of the divergent goals and awkward and untrusting relationships can come together to self-organize, just like the thunderstorm outside. Thc Doctrine is the product of a sociopolitical thunderstorm. The differences between the parties are the pressure gradients that set up the flow, and the warm moist air that feeds it is the ambient fear that we all can have about an unknown future. ”

        Taken by Storm
        http://www.amazon.com/Taken-Storm-Troubled-Science-Politics/dp/1552639460/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1413383273&sr=8-6&keywords=christopher+essex

      • True and then some –e.g., in the same way that WWII-era German citizens turned their backs on the plight of the Jews (and so many still refuse to condemn Muslim anti-Semitism today), the Left is anti-capitalism and anti-Americanism.

    • Daniel,
      It’s ‘Your lame attempt at humor’.

      • I know it’s ‘your’ and the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re.
        But thank you for your kindness. Or pedantry.

  37. Joshua,
    And why asserting that those drawn to totalitarianism share a common psychological core ***should elicit such bafflement from you.***

    • And your assertion doesn’t ***baffle*** me in the least, Daniel.

      Anyway, I’m out. Have a nice nice (assuming that you’re in the U.S.)…

  38. Thanks to physicistdave for the book referral.

    https://judithcurry.com/2014/09/04/thermodynamics-kinetics-and-microphysics-of-clouds/#comment-626951

    I’ve known for a good while that an observer can’t be required in order for the Universe to tick along. And the last book I read about QM years ago left me with the idea that the wave functions of objects must collapse upon interaction with another.

    I didn’t consider the possibility that they simply got more and more entangled! Sort of like quantum entropy or something. I’m only a couple of chapters in. This is a really enjoyable book!

    Thanks again!

  39. OIL 81.83
    BRENT 85.18
    NAT GAS 3.829
    RBOB GAS 2.1826

  40. ‘Anthropocene’ Term Gains Traction As Human Impacts On Planet Become Clearer

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/14/anthropocene-term-age-of-humans_n_5980898.html

  41. Obviously a hundred years before they knew about plate tectonics and asteroid impacts, Lyell can be forgiven for disbelieving in large forces regularly changing the climate and sea level in the geological record. We are past that, and have a good idea of what can happen, and how quickly it can happen. Below is what current ideas say about forcing for example. The changes we are on track for are comparable with those producing geologically very different environments, such as those of the the Eocene and Triassic which were iceless hothouses. Skeptics do need to pay more attention to the paleoclimate evidence. It’s not just models.

    • As far as I can tell from the paleoclimate evidence, today’s temperatures are not out of line with other warm periods in the Holocene. Like the MWP, which may or may not have been warmer, just a thousand years ago. Maybe you can explain why I am wrong?

      • First of all we are at 2 W/m2 on the way to about 6 W/m2 by 2100, and second there is a delay due to the oceans so we don’t even see the full effects of 2 W/m2 yet. It’s the forcing trajectory that matters, and that, after all, is what the debate is about because we can control that gradient. It’s important to think about this in the larger context of forcing changes and paleoclimate.

      • “First of all we are at 2 W/m2 on the way to about 6 W/m2 by 2100,”

        Based on what evidence?

      • Based on business as usual emission growth. RCP6 is just a moderate scenario, not an extreme one. The 6 in the name means 6 W/m2 by about 2100.

      • Based on which model? Which model is the one that gets the physics right? Or are you basing it on all of the models thrown together because you don’t know which of them actually does get it right, and that way you can pretend you have an answer with confidence.

        The simple answer is that you don’t know, and you are throwing figures around based on computer programs full of guesses and assumptions, with a little physics mixed in.

        Your faith that what is being done with these GCMs is actual “science” is touching.

      • Even the low Lewis and Curry model gives you more than 2 C for 6 W/m2.

      • Where is the 6w/m2 coming from? How is that calculated?

      • TJA, it is coming from fossil fuel burning, just extrapolating what we are already doing.

      • I am asking how the forcing is calculated. Based on what known laws of physics?

  42. Real Geologists prefer James Hutton for our dose of uniformitarianism rather than the barrister, Professor Ichthyosaurus. It’s because we are Unconformitists.

  43. The temperature rise between 1944 and 1998 was 0.4 degrees C. The rate of increase was 0.07 degrees C/decade. Rather than the pause ending in September 2014 – it is much more likely to persist for decades. Climate is unpredictable – future warming is far from guaranteed.

    It is hard to imagine that it gets much more basic than this.

  44. are we in the infancy of our science?

    If physics was in its infancy in Galileo’s time, seems to me present day climatology doesn’t qualify as anything more than a blastocyst.

  45. ‘It was as ridiculous as those terms you use to describe people who trust the science.’

    Words of wisdom from Joseph. Trusting ‘the science’ of ‘climate science’ is not something you are well advised to do. I get sceptic – Michael just above referred to Botkin as one of mine – but also warmist from such as Flynn of the six impossible things before breakfast.

    I am trained in engineering – I have actually built things. Planning and design in my world need an occasional reality check. Besides big boys toys are such fun. I have a degree in environmental science and tend to work mostly at the boundary of the natural and built environments. I have blown things up and saved turtles and wallabies from imminent destruction – and not by not blowing them up. What sort of evil person do you think I am?

    I follow the evidence and have for decades. I read the 1st assessment report. By early this century however – regimes in the broader system were all too evident. Rainfall regimes were evident at least since the 1980’s. By 2007 it was apparent that these regimes were not cyclic at all but chaotic. This creates an entirely new – and unpredictable – risk profile that I have discussed recently.

    https://judithcurry.com/2014/10/13/my-weeks-in-review/#comment-637507

    This is actually where science leads – but at the core of ‘climate science’ there is cognitive dissonance – a denial of anomalies – informing a whole social movement of those who ‘trust the science’. This I refer to as the Borg collective cult of AGW groupthink space cadets. It just saves time Joseph – and the phenomenon seems very real. One can hardly expect space cadets to see it.

    There are however – people who do believe in ‘climate science’ and have a whole different approach to solutions.

    e.g. http://thebreakthrough.org/blog/Climate_Pragmatism_web.pdf

    These seem not to the liking of the space cadets leading me to suspect another – and nefarious – agenda to dismantle societies based on classis liberal principles and replace them with some vision of a bucolic utopia. Call me paranoid – but bucolic visions always seem to end in people dying by the tumbrel load. .

    • This from an apologist for the ‘radical enlightenment’ of the French revolution. Where does he think the symbol of the tumbrel comes from?

      The US owes something of the rhetoric to the French but much more of substance to the Scottish.

      ‘The single most important influence that shaped the founding of the United States comes from JOHN LOCKE, a 17th century Englishman who redefined the nature of government. Although he agreed with Hobbes regarding the self-interested nature of humans, he was much more optimistic about their ability to use reason to avoid tyranny. In his SECOND TREATISE OF GOVERNMENT, Locke identified the basis of a legitimate government. According to Locke, a ruler gains authority through the consent of the governed. The duty of that government is to protect the natural rights of the people, which Locke believed to include LIFE, LIBERTY, AND PROPERTY. If the government should fail to protect these rights, its citizens would have the right to overthrow that government. This idea deeply influenced THOMAS JEFFERSON as he drafted the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.’ http://www.ushistory.org/gov/2.asp

      The Scottish enlightenment continue to fan the flames of freedom – democracy, the rule of law, free markets and free peoples.

      ‘We must make the building of a free society once more an intellectual adventure, a deed of courage. What we lack is a liberal Utopia, a programme which seems neither a mere defence of things as they are nor a diluted kind of socialism, but a truly liberal radicalism which does not spare the susceptibilities of the mighty (including the trade unions), which is not too severely practical and which does not confine itself to what appears today as politically possible…Those who have concerned themselves exclusively with what seemed practicable in the existing state of opinion have constantly found that even this has rapidly become politically impossible as the result of changes in a public opinion which they have done nothing to guide. Unless we can make the philosophic foundations of a free society once more a living intellectual issue, and its implementation a task which challenges the ingenuity and imagination of our liveliest minds, the prospects of freedom are indeed dark. But if we can regain that belief in power of ideas which was the mark of liberalism at its best, the battle is not lost.’ F. A. Hayek

      FOMBS seems neither the liveliest of minds or overly concerned with the philosophic foundations of a free society. Or indeed of a functioning economy.

    • I don’t read FOMBS anymore – and certainly don’t (usually) follow any links. But OMG – Jefferson’s garden diaries as the foundation of the modern US state is too laughably nonsensical a claim to pass over.

    • Indi,

      You seem to spend a lot of time responding to comments from people you don’t read.

    • As I say to Joshua – if he responds to a comment I pay special attention for special people because they obviously need the attention. I am good that way.

      There are names I miss routinely in general comments because they don’t tend to say very much. Yours are not amongst those because while vacuous they tend to be short enough to involuntarily scan. So I get a dose of ditto heads and other profundities. You’re welcome.

    • OMG – Jefferson’s garden diaries as the foundation of the modern US state is too laughably nonsensical a claim to pass over.

      I don’t know…

      Did you notice the frequent references to grafting (trees)? Perhaps there’s some abstruse analogy there about grafting Western European society onto a native American base?

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Rob Ellison advises his fellow-denialists  “I don’t read FOMBS anymore – and certainly don’t (usually) follow any links. But OMG – Jefferson’s garden diaries as the foundation of the modern US state is too laughably nonsensical a claim to pass over.”

        Willful ignorance by Rob Ellison, science-respecting Jeffersonian Enlightenment by FOMD!

        Sustained STEAM-ignorance demands adamantine refusal-to-learn, eh Climate Etc readers?

        That’s the common-sense reason why STEAM professionals — and STEAM students especially — abhor and reject willful ignorance and 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}

      • Fan

        If these are the same garden diaries I have read in the past they are well worth looking at as they give good camples of rapidly changing climate during his life.

        Tonyb

      • The whole thread has been cleared out – including FOMBS contention that the bucolic visions of Jefferson’s garden diaries were the foundations of the US state. It is difficult to imagine a sillier idea – as usual it is more posturing for effect than substantive communication.

        It was in response to this – https://judithcurry.com/2014/10/14/words-of-wisdom-from-charles-lyell/#comment-637963

        That is where science actually leads – but at the core of ‘climate science’ there is cognitive dissonance – a denial of anomalies – informing a whole social movement of climate extremists.

        There are however – people who do believe in ‘climate science’ and have a whole different approach to solutions.

        e.g. http://thebreakthrough.org/blog/Climate_Pragmatism_web.pdf

        Profoundly humanitarian, pragmatic, practical, conserving and restoring God’s nature. A bright future for a moderate, peaceful and prosperous humanity.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Rob Ellison advises his fellow-denialists “I don’t read FOMBS anymore – and certainly don’t (usually) follow any links.

        For logical consistency, denialism’s refusal to learn new science must *ALSO* entail refusal to learn new economics.

        Climate Etc denialists are urged *NOT* to read  The new Slashdot discussion Bill Gates: Piketty’s Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

        `Cuz it’s incredibly obvious  that Learning and culture *BOTH* must be abandoned … whenever and however they threaten the creed of denialist market-fundamentalism!

        It sure is regrettable that those SlashDot eggheads — and now Bill Gates too! — just *INSIST* on learning new science, technology, engineering, and mathematics … and now economics!

        \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}

  46. Geoff Sherrington

    These words of Charles Lyell have valuable teaching if they are read the right way.
    They are not a recipe to link methods or data from geology to climate science.
    They are a call for the philosophy of the advancement of science to attend to the lessons of the past. In geology, search the topic of uniformitarianism. It was developed and promoted by Lyell in his Principles of Geology in 1830. Its converse, which he deplored, was catastrophism, or more generally the invention of mechanisms that failed to learn from the lessons of the past.
    Geology is a science that is far from settled. Further up, see John Vonderlin October 14, 2014 at 12:51 pm for the topic of whether plate tectonics is settled – it is not. One of the great investigators after Wegener was Prof S Warren Carey, a friend from long ago, was so concerned by the questions that plate tectonics failed to answer that he devoted great and professional effort to developing the Expanding Earth hypothesis further. Many of the Establishment enigmas he questioned are unanswered today.
    A student of Prof Carey was my geologist/chemist boss John Elliston, who found similarly important observations enigmas with Establishment descriptions of rock and ore formation. He in turn has put great effort into mechanisms involving colloidal states, with parts of his colloidal hypothesis neatly answering some major enigmas on which Establishment geology fails.

    Whereas Charles Lyell cautioned against invoking ‘way out’ theories, he would not have known that one day satellites could assist in seeing if the Earth is expanding or not; and he would not have heard of colloidal chemistry. He might have viewed these as catastrophism in his time. So,there is contradiction able to be built into his words if they are used for the wrong purposes.
    However, people are still failing to learn from the past. There is a beautiful book, “the Apocalyptics” 1984 by Edith Efron (not yet in e-book) that details the Establishment reaction to a 1960-70s emergent hypothesis that American citizens were to experience a massive epidemic of cancers caused by man-made chemicals in society. The whole episode has eerie parallels to the climate change Establishment mistakes so close that it should be required reading. The major reversal of views of known ‘names’ was a major step in deconstructing the (false) cancer scare. The most prominent name was Bruce Ames, if you have followed the story.
    Here are a few words from Efron that can be read in context with the Lyell invocation to learn from the past (p 388 paperback, attributed to Isaac Berenblum 1974)-
    “The order in which discoveries are made is not always predetermined by logical reasoning.
    “Instead of basic principles being discovered first and modifying or ancillary
    factors later on, the opposite is usually the case. For instance, in the field of carcinogenesis, it would have been more helpful if the sequence of discoveries had been: (a) of naturally-occurring carcinogens; (b) of artificially-produced carcinogens which find their way in man’s environment; and (c) of “exotic” carcinogens (ranging from simple models to complex structures) synthesized in the laboratory. In fact, the historical sequence has been (b)-(c)-(a).
    “Yet the historical approach cannot be altogether ignored. The very choice of experiments usually rests on working hypotheses derived from accumulated knowledge, and the interpretation of results cannot be divorced from the historical evolution of the subject.”
    This sits neatly with earlier Prof Curry topics such as attribution of climate effects to natural or man-made.
    Like Charles Lyell, Prof Curry is calling for methods to solve problems to build on past knowledge, rather than the catastrophic ways that do not heed past observation.

  47. Dr Curry,

    I wanted to alert you (and any commentators here) to a concept that was introduced to me last night at a UWA alumni talk given by Prof Peter Quinn from ICRAR on the SKA (Square Kilometre Array):

    The Fourth Paradigm

    It is fundamentally a shift in the way science is conducted by processing and managing the huge amounts of data being generated by modern instruments. I was struck by its obvious significance for climate research. Here is a brief overview:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/15/science/15books.html?_r=0

    The idea behind it is that “mere” observation is untenable with the vast amounts of different kinds of data available to scientists, so new techniques of doing science through processing of data is going to be the new “paradigm” for scientific discovery in the future.

    This caused some red flags to start waving for me, notwithstanding I know very little about it yet. One of my concerns is that it is at odds with traditional scientific inquiry via falsification. Instead of trying to find what might prove your theory wrong, you look through the data to find a pattern, and then when you find it you form a theory and go and try to find evidence in the data that would support it. Or so it seemed to be structured. And my little red flags made me think of finding the image of Jesus in a piece of toast, or the allegory of the drunk man searching for his keys underneath a street lamp.

    We talked briefly at the reception afterwards, but it was clearly too complex a subject to grasp with just a few words. But it’s implications for climate research, and in fact all the sciences, are profound.

    The SKA and associated sites are building what is going to be the most complex and vast data gathering instruments ever conceived. By the early 2020’s just the SKA on its own is going to be storing and pushing through more data than the entire world wide web – the whole of the internet. Hugely complex fibre optic networks are being built, and teams of researchers are trying to figure out what and how that much data is going to be managed – because current technology is nothing like suitable.

    It moved the discussion on to the importance of data science – a new area of science, which is barely recognized but is probably the most important branch of science right now – and certainly the fastest growing. They are calling it “eScience”. There were many in the audience from all sorts of fields, games industry, gas and stocks reporting, engineering, all saying that “big data” was a key problem for them right now. But my concern is the philosophic shift fin scientific enquiry. Maybe it is the way forward but it seems to be fertile ground for confirmation bias. I hope there are good people finding solutions for that.

    • Steven Mosher

      “Instead of trying to find what might prove your theory wrong, you look through the data to find a pattern, and then when you find it you form a theory and go and try to find evidence in the data that would support it. ”

      Of course.

      See William James. The will to believe.

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

      “”There are two ways of looking at our duty in the matter of opinion—ways entirely different, and yet ways about whose difference the theory of knowledge seems hitherto to have shown very little concern. We must know the truth; and we must avoid error—these are our first and great commandments as would-be knowers; but they are not two ways of stating an identical commandment, they are two separable laws. Although it may indeed happen that when we believe the truth A, we escape as an incidental consequence from believing the falsehood B, it hardly ever happens that by merely disbelieving B we necessarily believe A. We may in escaping B fall into believing other falsehoods, C or D, just as bad as B; or we may escape B by not believing anything at all, not even A.
      Believe truth! Shun error!—these, we see, are two materially different laws; and by choosing between them we may end by coloring differently our whole intellectual life. We may regard the chase for truth as paramount, and the avoidance of error as secondary; or we may, on the other hand, treat the avoidance of error as more imperative, and let truth take its chance. Clifford, in the instructive passage which I have quoted, exhorts us to the latter course. Believe nothing, he tells us, keep your mind in suspense forever, rather than by closing it on insufficient evidence incur the awful risk of believing lies. You, on the other hand, may think that the risk of being in error is a very small matter when compared with the blessings of real knowledge, and be ready to be duped many times in your investigation rather than postpone indefinitely the chance of guessing true. I myself find it impossible to go with Clifford. We must remember that these feelings of our duty about either truth or error are in any case only expressions of our passional life. Biologically considered, our minds are as ready to grind out falsehood as veracity, and he who says, “Better go without belief forever than believe a lie!” merely shows his own preponderant private horror of becoming a dupe. He may be critical of many of his desires and fears, but this fear he slavishly obeys. He cannot imagine any one questioning its binding force. For my own part, I have also a horror of being duped; but I can believe that worse things than being duped may happen to a man in this world: so Clifford’s exhortation has to my ears a thoroughly fantastic sound. It is like a general informing his soldiers that it is better to keep out of battle forever than to risk a single wound. Not so are victories either over enemies or over nature gained. Our errors are surely not such awfully solemn things. In a world where we are so certain to incur them in spite of all our caution, a certain lightness of heart seems healthier than this excessive nervousness on their behalf. At any rate, it seems the fittest thing for the empiricist philosopher.”

      • Thanks for your response Stephen – I will check out and try to fully understand the quote you posted in time. With your association with BEST and the kind of data processing that would seem to require I would love to know your thoughts on this new scientific paradigm. In particular, have encounter the terms “eScience” and the “The Fourth Paradigm” yourself, and if you have has it been discussed much?

  48. Joshua | October 15, 2014 at 12:44 pm |
    Now I understand or at least see a plausible explanation for your reaction. You misunderstood what I said. I never said that ISIL and American Academia were the same or that they shared every trait that each could be said to have. What I was saying is that they are both proponents of authoritarian systems, both believe in ‘rule by government.’ Both believe in top down, command and control systems. Both are willing to sacrifice millions on the altar of their own self-righteousness.
    Now to say that isn’t to say that every single person who is in American Academia shares those traits. Some of the people I greatly admire are in academia. But you’d have to have your head buried to not be aware that the overwhelming political orthodoxy in American Universities is Progressivism and you’d also have to have your head buried not to know that Progressivism genuflects to government power, to law by lawyers rather than rule of law, to one size fits all solutions and those are the characteristics that fit many of the CAGW proponents and it is to that psychological constellation I was drawing attention to make the point that defeating the idiocy of CAGW may be done on the science alone, but we risk a great deal if we pay no attention to the psychological nature of the divide. We risk being as ill prepared to deal with then next great insanity to visit us brought about by ‘saviours’ of the world.
    [“The urge to save humanity is always a false front for the urge to rule it.” H.L. Mencken]
    The point of bringing in ISIL, the Pharaohs and the American Academic Left was to indicate that it’s a problem of human nature. We all have different thresholds for risk, all perceive threats to our security in different ways but there are commonalities that can be seen throughout history just as there are commonalities to the madness of crowds.
    Would you deny that it was the Left in American Academia that championed Eugenics? Would you deny the World Power delusions of a man like Woodrow Wilson? Would you deny that the American Left is most comfortable with elitist lawyers writing laws to control every aspect of civic life to the point that civic life is snuffed out in favor of top down, centralized, politically correct control of people’s behavior and thinking? That the EU and the UN are creatures of Progressivism?
    The drum beat from Rolling Stone to Vanity Fair to Slate to Huffington Post to Paul Krugman to Harvard to Yale to Berkeley may have minor variations but they all sing the same tune of centralization, authoritarian control, and an unbelievable amount of tolerance for oligarchy as long as the oligarchs are their guys. And they are all believers in consensus, the debate is over, it’s time for action, and the government should lead the way with laws, laws and more laws.
    It’s not the Lunatic Right that has shut down coal fired plants, made it impossible to build nuclear plants, used the EPA to prevent the construction of refineries, classified a key ingredient that sustains all life on the planet as a pollutant, attempts to force a one size fits all on education, attempts to make everyone eat a particular diet, thinks nothing of riding roughshod over other people’s rights to make choices in their lives, acts with egregious stupidity when saying, ‘We have to pass the bill to see what’s in it.’ Etc. Not that the Right doesn’t have it’s warts and problems. It certainly does but they are a different flavor and not nearly so maniacally self-righteous in ignoring the rights of individuals in favor of the rights of groups or of trashing the Constitution and the walls erected to preserve freedom.
    Or am I wrong and the Academic Left is filled with freedom loving folk who respect other peoples rights to choose for their own life and don’t advocate one size fits all solutions that are top down driven and don’t trash other people’s lives at every opportunity, who disagree with them. If I’m mistaken I’m more than willing to stand corrected. But there is a psychological/cultural dimension to the Climate Wars and it seems the epitome of burying our heads in the sand to ignore it, not take note of it and comment on it when appropriate.

  49. I always enjoy reading texts from almost 200 years ago. It’s a nice example of how difficult it is to see the “big picture” when one is sitting inside the frame.

    I did not get through all the responses. I did experience a chuckle from the “vacuum” thread at the top. I appreciate the book references and will look up the Doug Macdougal book. I went to University in the 80s and had little money to spend on the few books that were written. I had one great course by an Australian sea-level specialist Rhodes Fairbridge. He asked the students to compare what geologists are saying about climate compared to what atmospheric scientists were. I think that course shaped my thinking.

    I lean towards the pragmatic side of climate science. Keep measuring, keep improving the models and by all means keep monitoring. And maintain funding for these activities.
    Rose

  50. “JC reflections: The primacy of the epistemic status of climate models as a source of alarming and catastrophic predictions seems to be an attempt to cut the Gordian knot of understanding climate change rather than to unravel the knot. ”
    —————————————————————-
    Must disagree, Judith. As I do with your description of climate as a “wicked” problem.

    Understanding climate is only “wicked”, or a “Gordian knot”, to those who have elevated it to that status. It is otherwise no more important than working out what happens in the oceans (about which we know very little) or what triggers common degenerative and fatal diseases. Or how to advance in space exploration, for those who regard that as important – to take a few examples.

    Cutting the Gordian knot can be a metaphor for no longer subscribing to the mystique, and just fixing the immediate problem. We may not not know why some people abuse their kids, but that is no excuse for not getting the kids out of there while we try to unravel the “Gordian knot.” This is the sort of woolly thinking that has kept shoddy sociologists and psychologists in comfy jobs for decades.

    The Gordian knot that we are being asked to subscribe to is that until we have thrown huge resources at a project which has been defined and promoted by a certain group of people, for an undefined period, the scissors should be kept well away. It’s a con.

    Oh, and thanks Geoff Sherringham for your excellent post above.

    • Johanna, The dilemma is that scienitists like Hansen see global warming as an immediate problem and needs to be fixed. I feel that he is too close to the problem. It is for cooler heads to understand what he is saying and try to fit it into policy.

      I find your analogy interesting. But does it not imply that there should be something done immediately about global warming, before we understand why it is happening? No one can predict the effects that abuse can have on a child until the child is an adult.

      I personally see more hope in local governments dealing with the uncertain effects of changing climate on their own infrastructure than any grand scheme proposed from the UN or US Federal level. The Global Climate models cannot say anything about when it will rain so hard that the sewers will flood. Or when the rains stop coming. But this is what a city needs to be prepared for.
      Rose
      p.s. I cannot find any post written by Geoff Sherringham. Is it in another part of the blog?

      • whoops, it is Geoff Sherrington. Apologies, Geoff.

        Punch ctrl F into your computer, type “Geoff” to find his excellent post.

  51. Any chance of fixing the out-of sequence posts?

    Nesting is bad enough, but when your posts are listed hours before the later ones, the thread becomes a mess. Mine of 10.17 am on the 16th appeared before Rob’s of 4.48 am on the 15th, and subsequent comments.

    And while I’m having a whinge, those who feed the troll starting with J (and the other one who plays with crayons here) are mostly responsible for the waste of space and time they cause.

    You are just feeding them. They are here to disrupt, and you enable it. How about leaving your egos at home and ignoring them, insteading of filling screen after screen with your toddler foodfights?

  52. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #154 | Watts Up With That?