Asymmetry and the power of the 3%

by Judith Curry

The minority rule will show us how it all it takes is a small number of intolerant virtuous people with skin in the game, in the form of courage, for society to function properly. – Nassim Taleb

Nassim Taleb is writing a new book Skin in the Game: The Logic of Risk Taking, aimed at popular audiences.  He has been making some draft chapters available online, looks pretty interesting.

The topic for today’s post is motivated by his draft chapter entitled The Most Intolerant Wins: The Dominance of the Stubborn Minority. Excerpts:

The best example I know that gives insights into the functioning of a complex system is with the following situation. It suffices for an intransigent minority to reach a minutely small level, say three or four percent of the total population, for the entire population to have to submit to their preferences. Further, an optical illusion comes with the dominance of the minority: a naive observer would be under the impression that the choices and preferences are those of the majority. If it seems absurd, it is because our scientific intuitions aren’t calibrated for that (your standard intellectualization fails with complex systems).

The main idea behind complex systems is that the ensemble behaves in way not predicted by the components. The interactions matter more than the nature of the units. Studying individual ants will never give us an idea on how the ant colony operates. For that, one needs to understand an ant colony as an ant colony, no less, no more, not a collection of ants. This is called an “emergent” property of the whole, by which parts and whole differ because what matters is the interactions between such parts. And interactions can obey very simple rules. The rule we discuss in this chapter is the minority rule.

The minority rule will show us how it all it takes is a small number of intolerant virtuous people with skin in the game, in the form of courage, for society to function properly.

Let us call such minority an intransigent group, and the majority a flexible one. And the rule is an asymmetry in choices.

An honest person will never commit criminal acts but a criminal will readily engage in legal acts.

In promoting genetically modified food via all manner of lobbying, purchasing of congressmen, and overt scientific propaganda, the big agricultural companies foolishly believed that all they needed was to win the majority. No, you idiots. As I said, your snap “scientific” judgment is too naive in these type of decisions. Consider that transgenic-GMO eaters will eat nonGMOs, but not the reverse. So it may suffice to have a tiny, say no more than five percent of evenly spatially distributed population of non-genetically modified eaters for the entire population to have to eat non-GMO food. How? Say you have a corporate event, a wedding, or a lavish party. Do you need to send a questionnaire asking people if they eat or don’t eat transgenic GMOs and reserve special meals accordingly? No. You just select everything non- GMO, provided the price difference is not consequential. And as organic food (and designations such as “natural”) is in higher demand, from the minority rule, distribution costs decrease and the minority rule ends up accelerating in its effect.

Big Ag (the large agricultural firms) did not realize that this is the equivalent of entering a game in which one needed to not just win more points than the adversary, but win ninety-seven percent of the total points just to be safe. It is strange, once again, to see Big Ag who spent hundreds of millions of dollars on research cum smear campaigns, with hundreds of these scientists who think of themselves as more intelligent than the rest of the population, miss such an elementary point about asymmetric choices.

Another example: do not think that the spread of automatic shifting cars is necessarily due to the majority of drivers initially preferring automatic; it can just be because those who can drive manual shifts can always drive automatic, but the reciprocal is not true.

The method of analysis employed here is called renormalization group, a powerful apparatus in mathematical physics that allows us to see how things scale up (or down). 

If a meeting is taking place in Germany in the Teutonic-looking conference room of a corporation that is sufficiently international or European, and one of the persons in the room doesn’t speak German, the entire meeting will be run in… English, the brand of inelegant English used in corporations across the world. It all started with the asymmetric rule that those who are nonnative in English know (bad) English, but the reverse (English speakers knowing other languages) is less likely.

How do books get banned? Certainly not because they offend the average person –most persons are passive and don’t really care, or don’t care enough to request the banning. It looks like, from past episodes, that all it takes is a few (motivated) activists for the banning of some books, or the black-listing of some people.

Let us conjecture that the formation of moral values in society doesn’t come from the evolution of the consensus. No, it is the most intolerant person who imposes virtue on others precisely because of that intolerance.

Science acts similarly. We will return later with a discussion of how the minority rule is behind Karl Popper’s approach to science. But let us for now discuss the more entertaining Feynman. What do You Care What Other People Think? is the title of a book of anecdotes by the great Richard Feynman, the most irreverent and playful scientist of his day. As reflected in the title of the book, Feynman conveys in it the idea of the fundamental irreverence of science. How? Science isn’t the sum of what scientists think, but a procedure that is highly skewed. Once you debunk something, it is now wrong. Had science operated by majority consensus we would be still stuck in the Middle Ages and Einstein would have ended as he started, a patent clerk with fruitless side hobbies.

JC reflections

There are some very interesting ideas in Taleb’s essay, although the draft is a bit rough at this point.

I was particularly struck by the role of 97% in Taleb’s argument, given the prominence of this number in the public debate on climate change.

How does Taleb’s argument work for the climate change debate?  Well, climate change is the mother of all complex problems, so the asymmetry argument would seem relevant.  I can think of three relevant lines of argument related to the climate debate.

The first is the basic science. Taleb alludes to the role of minority rule in Popperian falsification.  Popperian falsification is not at all a straightforward endeavour for a complex problem such as climate change, and is probably not a useful concept in this context.  However, the basic idea of counter evidence and counter arguments to the theory that humans are the dominant cause of recent (and future) climate change are weighted more heavily owing to the idea of Popperian falsification.   In short, the evidence ‘against’ carries more epistemic weight than evidence ‘for.’  Preponderance of evidence is not sufficient to carry the argument for a complex system fraught with uncertainties and unknowns.  Two of my papers address concerns about arguing from preponderance of evidence regarding the climate change problem:

The second is the journalistic objective of fairness and balance, which remains a source of contention in context of the climate debate.  The Workshop on Ethics of Communicating Scientific Uncertainty provided some interesting insights on this issue.  In any event, minority views on climate change get more air time in the media than their number would seem to justify given that this is a minority perspective.  I just spotted this recent relevant article on balance in the NYTimes:  Why people are confused about what experts really think.

The third is the asymmetry of the policy response.  The majority perspective requires drastic changes to energy supply, transportation, agriculture, etc.; however, few strong proponents of AGW and these drastic policy changes are actually ‘walking the talk’ because of difficulty and undesirability of these abstract policies in terms of personal impacts.  The minority perspective is not requiring any such changes.

It seems that Taleb’s minority argument could explain the divergence between the alleged 97% consensus of scientists, versus the only 50-60% of the U.S. public that are buying the argument that climate change is caused by humans.

The ‘skin in the game’ part of the argument seems to fit energy companies, whereby their investment in providing fuel and electric power (not to mention their profits) arguably are associated with the most skin in this particular game.

Taleb identifies the  minority as an intransigent group, and the majority as a flexible one.  Not exactly clear how this plays out in the climate debate.

This issue of asymmetry was touched on in a previous post The Curry factor: 30 to 1, which was motivated by this statement from Victor Venema: “For balance, for every @curryja you would need 30 from mainstream.

And finally, this statement bears repeating (over and over):

Science isn’t the sum of what scientists think, but exactly as with markets, a procedure that is highly skewed. Once you debunk something, it is now wrong. Had science operated by majority consensus we would be still stuck in the Middle Ages and Einstein would have ended as he started, a patent clerk with fruitless side hobbies.

 

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270 responses to “Asymmetry and the power of the 3%

  1. daveandrews723

    I was struck by the coverage of the press conference announcing the confirmation of gravitational waves in space and what a huge breakthrough it was. Certainly a Nobel Prize is in the future for the scientists involved in the multi-billion dollar project which has spanned several decades. But I would bet that the next time we see or read anything about this breakthrough in the mainstream media will only be when the Nobel Prizes are announced. Was it really such a significant breakthrough in the grand scheme of things if its impact on our lives is apparently so insignificant? Couldn’t the billions of dollars spent on the project been used more constructively?

    • Couldn’t the billions of dollars spent on the project been used more constructively?

      You can’t know what future developments may occur because of this.

      Better this than more on the Climate Alarmism.

      • I would rather my tax dollars fund LIGO than solar and wind power.

      • popesclimatetheory | February 14, 2016 at 7:15 pm |
        You can’t know what future developments may occur because of this.

        That’s what I tell my wife about the lottery tickets I buy!

    • Harry Twinotter

      daveandrews723.

      “Couldn’t the billions of dollars spent on the project been used more constructively?”

      In principle yes, but you do not define “constructively” in this context (but I can guess what you mean).

      In practice, no. “billions of dollars” is insignificant compared to, say, the world economy. Or compared to the amount spent on something trivial like advertising for example.

    • David Springer

      $1.1 billion in American tax dollars were spent on LIGO over a period of 40 years. Clowns reciting or repeating “billions” are drama queens who don’t bother to check if what they write is true or not. Typical.

      • And thus, a billion dollars is made to disappear.

      • @markbul: money doesn’t disappear, it goes somewhere. The scientists and engineers who worked on LIGO also bought houses, food, paid taxes, and spent their money in mostly the same ways the rest of us did (and probably saved a bit of it).

        Or like someone said about the money spent on the Apollo program: not one dollar was paid to aliens. It was all paid to people on Earth. (Ok, the astronauts were earning money up in space, but they only spent it on Earth.)

      • [… M]oney doesn’t disappear, it goes somewhere.

        Actually, money often disappears. Sometimes in very large quantities.

    • The theory of Einsteins General Relativity is under attack. In fact the lack of finding gravity waves had led to number of scientists trying to formulate alternate theories. This is how science works and is something Climate Scientists for instance could look at. These scientists were not ridiculed and threatened with not publishing their papers or denied tenure. On the contrary physicists are always looking for alternate explanations for the conundrums and unknown whereas in climate science it seems that the whole science is settled 5 or 10 years after it was more or less instituted with almost no good data to work from everything is clear. I am constantly blown away by the statements of climate scientists who speak with such authority about things that are impossible for them to have such authority. I have met only a few climate scientists in the flesh. One was the head of LLNL modeling. He was very honest on a number of things. For instance he was clear with the problems with models. He described troubling issues and things which frankly the class I attended was shocked to hear. Later when I asked him questions one on one I was astounded to hear his answers. I asked about the PDO/AMO and he said it would stop. I asked him about MWP and LIA. They were regional. I understood these were the opinions of some but I shocked how certain his opinions on these things which have now been proven the opposite of what he thought. I would love to hear if he still thinks PDO/AMO will go away or has gone away or if MWP and LIA were regional? I wonder if he still has his job considering some of the things he said about climate models and how poor they were.

      In the case of gravity waves. Many physicists were hoping for a negative result. In a big sense there is a dissapointment the theory is confirmed because it means all the new science of figuring out how it was possible that gravity waves don’t exist is kaput for now. So, you’re right that we won’t hear too much more. In climate science it’s the opposite. When something that doesn’t fit the theory comes out. It is ignored. The scientists who did the counter work are considered suspicious and then the inevitable re-analysis which takes the data or conclusions and re-analyzes them so they fit in with accepted models. It’s as if the models were data and the data is model. Sure physicists adjust data but they admit that lack of conformance reduces the likelihood of a theory. Everything that comes out that challenges the climate orthodoxy is simply ignored and it is as if nothing changed. The fact that all of the heat from CO2 showed up in the ocean at 3000 feet doesn’t rattle feathers. The fact of PDO/AMO doesn’t make them reanalyze their conclusions about CO2 sensitivity. They never say the models have a lower probability of being right. They never admit actual failure. This is all contrary to the way real science works. I really think the current hegemony of climate scientists must be eliminated or somehow moved out of the way because it is obvious there is some cultural problem that prevents them from working as a real science.

      • The history of finding gravity waves is fascinating. After they were proposed a scientist started to put together some vibration detection machines in different locations and looking for correlations. He found them. This is like 70 years ago. For a couple years he had convinced most people he had found gravity waves with his crude devices until some baffling things happened with people trying to replicate his work. He kept coming out with excuses why his results were still valid (sound familiar) Eventually he was found wrong. Since then there have been many attempts. So, LiGO happened only because cheaper approaches failed time and again. This is also why they spent 6 months analyzing and analyzing because they didn’t want to repeat the mistake of this previous scientist who really had a lot of people fooled for a while.

        We also learn a lot by detecting these things. We learn that there aren’t other things going on that might have really been interesting. We learned that Einsteins theory tells us a lot about the fabric of space. On the other hand we know Einsteins theory and quantum mechanics are both wrong in that they don’t explain certain things in certain domains and in fact produce opposite results which we know both of them are wrong. However, finding where these theories break down is crucial to making any future discoveries. So, testing them at these extremes is the only way we make progress. Just like looking for new proxies in climate science physicists have to look at the very minute differences of theory and result to find small discrepancies that might lead to an explanation or discovery. Climate scientists seem only concerned with confirmation. They are not looking for any errors or problems with the theory. The theory is settled in the form of climate models that work well and the data is the only thing that has to be adjusted.

  2. The argument seems to lose its own track. For example, in “The minority rule will show us how it all it takes is a small number of intolerant virtuous people with skin in the game, in the form of courage, for society to function properly.” there is a clear assumption that the minority that end up running things are virtuous and right. But the proposition works every bit as well – better even – for Hitlers and terrorists. Perhaps the statement would be more accurate as “All it takes is a small number of intolerant people without scruples for the whole of society to be bent to their will.”

    • Mike Jonas wrote: All it takes is a small number of intolerant people without scruples for the whole of society to be bent to their will

      Mike, you nailed it!

    • “But the proposition works every bit as well – better even – for Hitlers and terrorists.”

      YES!

    • Exactly my first reaction. I’d already copied that sentence, you saved me pasting it !

      Much of the perversion of science in climatology seems to be the result of such an intolerant, politically motived clique. The 97% figure itself gets a lot of play but again the rigged work of a group of intolerant, politically motived individuals.

      Undoubtedly these individuals would see themselves as a “virtuous” minority: they were out to SAVE THE WORLD, right? Hitler undoubtedly thought he was in a virtuous struggle too : Mein Kampf as he called it.

      There may be some sound reason in Nassim Taleb essay but I fear he is looking at it through rose-tinted glasses. Maybe later he gets to describe why he assumes that the virtuous minority will dominate a malignant, corrupt minority.

      I don’t regard lying, cheating, wire fraud, false documents and corruption of science as “virtuous”. Maybe I’m biased ;)

      • Greg,

        If you have a small but hghly motivated and highly vocal group of activists, working in conjunction with another group of activists with deep pockets, and on an issue most voters are ambivalent about, the tail can indeed wag the dog.

        Peter Skerry in Mexican Americans: The Ambivalent Minority shows how this works in Mexican American communities in Los Angeles.

        He argues that the politics at work in these predominately Mexican American districts in LA is a combination of “protest” politics and “elite-network” politics.

        The elite-network, Mexican American politicians get their money, and their marching orders, from a network of “elite,” wealthy benefactors who do not live in the district. The protest politicians give them cover, and make it appear they are doing the bidding of the Mexican American constituents who live in the district.

        But Skerry marshalls extensive polling data which shows that the elite-network politicians do not represent the values, opinions, attitudes and interests of their constituents, but instead those of their wealthy benefactors, who live outside the district. In many cases, the values, opinions, attitudes and interests of these welathy benefactors are exactly the opposite of those of the constiuencies which the elite-network politicians supposedly represent.

        Global warming certainly qualifies as an issue which most people are largely ambivalent and indifferent about. Pew shows it ranking next to dead last when it comes to the public’s policy priorities.

        So would the true 3% please stand up?

      • Greg said.

        Hitler undoubtedly thought he was in a virtuous struggle too : Mein Kampf as he called it.

        Hitler also had the wind in his sails from what was then the “scientific consensus” of his day:

        The Nazi’s cornerstone precept of “racial hygiene” gave birth to their policy of “racial cleansing” that led to the murders of millions.

        It was developed by German physicians and scientists in the late 19th century and is rooted in the period’s Social Darwinism….

        [I]t was ironically the Scientific Revolution followed by the Enlightenment
        and then the Age of Reason, emphasizing science and rationality, that were the wellsprings for biologically based racism….

        [The] concept of intrinsic value or defect (popularized in the 1860s as Social Darwinism) was clearly articulated by Sir Francis Galton (1822–1911) in “The science which deals with all influences that improve the
        inborn qualities of a race (8).” He coined the word “eugenic” (relating to or producing improved offspring) and proposed that “races” were in a struggle for survival of the fittest.

        http://www.fasebj.org/content/22/2/332.full.pdf+html

        So with the desacularization of politics beginning in the 18th century, the justification for racism merely switched from being religious to being scientific.

        And while Huxley may have been Darwin’s bulldog, Herbert Spencer would the great science populizer who spread the Social Darwinist faith across the Atlantic.

        Historian Sidney Fine reports that “it would be difficult to overestimate Spencer’s popularity in the United States during the quarter century after the Civil War.”

        “When the Supreme Court took up the Lochner case in 1905, Spencer’s version of Social Darwinism was exerting such a powerful influence on American social thought that Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes felt compelled to remind his Court colleagues that it was not their place to implement the theories of Herbert Spencer.”

        Despite the outrage at Nazi racial policy, Allied authorities were unable to classify sterilizations as war crimes, because similar sterilization laws had been enforced in some states since 1907 and had been upheld by the Supreme Court.

        In Buck v. Bell (1927), the majority decision, written by Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., used modern opinions of science to support the Virginia sterilization law:

        It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from breeding their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting Fallopian tubes. . . Three generations of imbeciles are enough.

        Although compulsory sterilization ended after the war in Germany, in the US, 11 African-American girls were sterilized in 1972. The Oregon Board of Eugenics, which was renamed the Board of Social Protection, existed until 1983, the last forcible sterilization occurring in 1981.

        BBC did an outstanding documentary program which delineates all this sordid history of science. It is the second part of a three-part series and can be seen on YouTube:

    • Grant A. Brown

      This explains the spread of political correctness and the success of neo-fascist progressive leftism.

      • “This explains the spread of political correctness and the success of neo-fascist progressive leftism.”

        What explains it? The BBC documentary? The article on Asymmetry and the Power of the 3%? The work of Nassim Taleb? The History of Eugenics? The mis-characterization of the work of Herbert Spencer?

        The modern day Progressive is the old wine of authoritarianism/collectivism (the tribe?) poured into a new bottle to update it for the 21st century though two of it’s biggest proponents, Clinton and Sanders are in serious need of updating themselves.

        I haven’t read Jonah Goldberg’s book on Liberal Fascism but I understand he does a good job of identifying the present policies of the Left with the historical antecedents and Fascism.

        I have my own theory that would explain the ‘neo-fascism of progressive leftism’ but I’m interested in what anyone else thinks explains it.

    • Mike Jonas wrote: “All it takes is a small number of intolerant people without scruples for the whole of society to be bent to their will.”

      Spot on.

      Is there really such a thing as “intolerant virtuous people” as opposed to “intolerant people who think they are virtuous”? And do intolerant people ever help “society to function properly”? At best that is very rare; I sure can not think of an example. I can think of examples of virtuous, determined minorities improving society, but I think that have been tolerant ones. The intolerant minorities that succeed in changing society make it worse.

      • I think we may be seeing a definition disjunction here. Most people (especially in the US) see the word ‘intolerant’ and equate it with racial or religious intolerance. But from the (admittedly roughly worded) quoted paragraphs above I think ‘intolerant virtuous people’ is supposed to mean people who do not tolerate a lack of virtue. Or to put it another way, those who expect certain behavior or action compared to those who are indifferent. In this sense, anything people feel strongly about can be considered a ‘virtue’.

        Or maybe I’m trying too hard to salvage a poorly worded and not fully thought out concept. ^¿^

      • Schitzree,

        Perhaps you are trying to hard. There is no meaningful difference between religious intolerance and those who do not tolerate a lack of virtue.

        But you raise a good point about careful definitions. These days, some people classify disapproval as intolerance, but they are very different things.

      • Well…

        those who do not tolerate a lack of virtue.

        That would be the general public. They do not tolerate the lack of virtues such as avarice, or dishonesty, hence we have laws against theft, fraud, and perjury.

        The left likes to use the government to force tolerance of some “lacks of virtue”. I’m ok to a point with this. The argument for tolerance can be made in many cases. Attempts by the government to force acceptance or approval should be resisted mightily. That is not the government’s right or place.

        The problem with global warming is the intolerance of objectivity and honesty. Intolerance of virtues is something that should be legally or administratively punished.

      • PA wrote: “They do not tolerate the lack of virtues such as avarice, or dishonesty, hence we have laws against theft, fraud, and perjury.”

        There are no laws against avarice or dishonesty (or envy, sloth, wrath, gluttony, or lust). There are laws against specific harmful acts that might be motivated by such sins. The intolerance is reserved for the harm done, the underlying sins are merely disapproved of.

    • Agreed. That was Hitler – most people were ambivalent thinking “At least it’s cheering us up” without actually investigating what Hitler’s fial intentions actually were.

    • Montaigne in his essay on experience says of human
      idealizing humours:’They want to get out of themselves
      and escape from the man. That is madness: instead of
      changing into angels, they change into beasts; instead
      of raising themselves, they lower themselves.’

      • The Big M understood: the only way out of our humanity is down. And just tossing religion doesn’t seem much help. Atheism and its concomitant mock sciences have been fine killers of the masses since 1789. The 20th century’s various New Men aimed higher than any before…and shot lower.

    • “All it takes is a small number of intolerant people without scruples for the whole of society to be bent to their will.”

      Militant Islam in the West today springs to mind.

  3. Don’t you think that reducing decisions in complex systems to a simple dichotomy (strident minority:passive majority) is inherently too simplistic? I can remember when ‘If a meeting was taking place in [France, Quebec, Russia, China …]” it would take more than a few linguistically challenged participants to switch to English. The other examples also seem too simplistic: providing a token vegetarian alternative is not the same as banning meat; automatic transmissions are easier to use (especially when stopped on a hill as I well remember from living in the San Francisco Bay Area) and once the price differential dropped, there was no reason not to switch to automatic; and as Kuhn demonstrated, once someone debunks a standard hypothesis it may be a long time before it is considered wrong. Even the cartoon is too simple; where are the roads to the ‘simple but right’ and ‘complex but wrong’ answers? Even AGW has its lukewarmers.

    • Dave W said:

      Don’t you think that reducing decisions in complex systems to a simple dichotomy (strident minority:passive majority) is inherently too simplistic?

      I was thinking the same thing.

      It seems like human societies, and especially those with millions or hundreds of millions of individuals, are at least as complex as global climate is. On top of that we have many of these highly complex societies, interacting with other highly complex societies, all in highy complex ways.

      I remember something Benoit Mandelbrot, the mathematician who Taleb claimed was his mentor, said in an interview many years ago:

      MANDELBROT: The word turbulence is one which is actually common to physics and to social sciences, to economics. Everything which involves turbulence is enormously more complicated, not just a little bit more complicated, not just one more year of schooling, enormously more complicated.

      INTERVIEWER: Turbulence is why weather forecasters can’t necessarily get it right.

      MANDELBROT: Precisely. In fact the basis of weather forecasting is looking and seeing a storm coming, it’s not predicting that the storm will form.

      The behavior of economic phenomena is far more complicated than the behavior of liquids or gases.

  4. Well, a bit rough. Can’t wait ’til he get’s around to discussing Popper.

  5. Just about to sit down to dinner after a quick skim. But think NT has sadly and wrongly confused some issues. Markets vote as a ‘pure democracy’. One dollar, one vote. Majority wins. His trading world.
    That is not how our brilliant Constitution structured the US. Checks and balances, separation of powers into 3, all else reserved to the states…
    Maybe will return tonight, for sure tomorrow. But NT does NOT get a pass on this fundamental fail to understand how the policy system works.

  6. Simple but wrong Vs Complex but right.

    I go down a third path not shown.
    I agree with Occam, most often, a Simple Answer is Right.

    Maurice Ewing and William Donn came up with the simple answer in the 1950’s.

    Here it is using my words.

    Oceans Warm, Polar Oceans Thaw, Snowfall Increases. Ice is Replenished on Antarctica, Greenland and Mountain Glaciers. Ice builds up and spreads out, dumping ice and ice cold water into the oceans and on land until earth cools. Polar Oceans freeze and the sun takes away ice every year until earth warms again. It is a natural cycle and we did not cause it. CO2 just makes the green stuff grow better with less water.

  7. That is a weak rule. There are many examples where populations don’t switch to accommodate an intolerant few: Creationism, vegetarianism, bigotry, so this argument needs to be made sharper. On the other hand, we don’t see free peanuts on planes any more, and that is an accommodation to a few. I don’t see the connection between climate skeptics and those allergic to peanuts, so make the case from that perspective.

    • There are a lot of groups of the intolerant few. They don’t all rise to the top, but often some do, such as the peanuts.

    • the key is minority positions where there is asymmetry relative to the majority position. peanuts on airplanes is a good example, but I don’t see creationism or racial bigotry working in this context.

      • Judith, agree. Peanuts can cause anaphylatic shock and death in a few minutes. I know, cause went through that experience (wasp stings, not peanuts) with my significant other. Driving down the north Geogia mountain from her cabin at maniac speeds while she mumbled her last goodbyes…an indelible experience. We always have an EpiPen handy now. Wasp Adaptation, not wasp mitigation.
        Conclusion: not all asymmetries in life are of equal merit.

      • The peanut analogy doesn’t work, because peanuts are still allowed in the general community. It would be like you are allowed to discuss climate change in the absence of skeptics, but skeptics have to be careful about inserting themselves in situations where climate change policies are being discussed because their feeling might get hurt.

      • Peanuts are not allowed in many nursery and elementary schools, or on most airplanes.

      • But the majority can still get them when they want them, and only the intolerant people have to be careful because peanuts are still everywhere, so they are the ones affected most by their own limitations. So it is with climate change.

      • Well, I am gluten free and the only airplane snack i can eat are peanuts (which are no longer offered by most airlines). So I need to bring my own snacks. A small example, but it illustrates the asymmetry

      • That’s probably why we hardly see those pretzels any more too.

      • My 2 daughters teach elementary school and none of their students are allowed to bring in peanuts to the classroom or to the school. Much different from decades ago.

      • Well one thing about it, someone who stands to die of a peanut allergy certainly has a great deal of “skin in the game.”

      • It may take a ridiculously long time for the scientific question to be resolved, but if it is Mother Nature and Father Time who constitute the minority and if it is the 7 billion + humans on the planet who are the majority the name of the game will be minority wins: Always and in all cases.

      • Hmm. I’m going to play devils advocate. I can eat anything that isn’t faster than I am.

        I try to fly Southwest whenever I can because they have peanuts and will give you as much as you want.

        https://www.yahoo.com/travel/airlines-and-nut-allergies-95399512052.html

        “We are asking for the ability to pre-board and wipe down the seat,” explains Mandelbaum. “We also want it to be standard that once they informed of the allergy, the crew will create a buffer zone three rows in front and three rows behind the allergic person where they will not serve any nut products and ask customers seated those rows to refrain from consuming any that they have brought onboard.”

        This to be frank is nuts. This women thinks the world revolves around her. It isn’t clear why she should be able to deprive 26 to 54 people of peanuts.

        The nut bags are clearly labelled. It isn’t like she can’t ask not to be served nuts.

        The anaphylatic issue is interesting. There should be a legal exemption (if there isn’t already) for the airlines to carry epi-pens and some basic first aid. There are times on an airline flight you can’t just step out the door and go to emergency services. I just assumed the airlines had some equipment and rudimentary training.

    • What happens if a giant irresistible force meets an insignificant but unmovable object? The irresistible force envelops the immovable object. Whatever can give must give. The anaphylactic is immovable, so the delicious, irresistible peanuts have to give.

    • David Springer

      Climate change and Peanuts

    • It’s got nothing to do with tolerance/intolerance or things-I-don’t-like. It has to do with the asymmetry of the effect. Suppose the government gives a big chunk of money to a grant. It does so by taking chump change from millions of people. Proposals to eliminate the grant will be vigorously resisted by the grantee, but the individuals whose pockets were picked simply shrug because it’s only a few pennies from each.

  8. I don’t say so often enough, but I do believe many things do influence climate.

    IR does most of the cooling of earth, but it does not have a thermostat that has a fixed set point. The solar cycles and the orbit cycles correlate with much of the data but not with all of the data.

    Temperature gets pushed around by many things but it never gets pushed out of bounds.

    The changes, summer and winter, day and night, sunny and cloudy all show that temperature responds quickly and that it must always be close to equilibrium. The hottest part of a day is most often a very few hours after max sunshine.

    Over the most recent ten thousand years, solar energy into the NH has decreased while solar energy into the SH has increased, yet the ice core data for the NH and SH stayed bounded in the same bounds.

    Ice Core temperatures are the temperatures of the oceans that provided the moisture for the snowfall and are therefore a best proxy for temperature of the well mixed oceans, which is a best proxy for earth temperatures.

    • David Springer

      The earth’s surface is cooled predominantly by evaporation not IR.

      • “The earth’s surface is cooled predominantly by evaporation not IR.”

        Which surface is that and what do you mean by predominately? The radiant surface should be the one at roughly 255K and 240 Wm-2 at the other surface about 90 Wm-2 “globally” average latent is transfer mainly pole ward warming the less wet areas while a portion of that latent heat is lost through the radiant surface. 90 Wm-2 out of 240 Wm-2 doesn’t seem to fit the predominately label. You could say that about 70% of the surface is predominately cooled by evaporation since that part of the surface only receives about 150 Wm-2 directly and loses about the same in latent and convective energy to the next surface layer the ABL. This onion has layers.

      • Capt’nDallas

        If you would please:

        ABL I have assumed as: Atmospheric Boundary Layer. Maybe I am wrong.

        If not then: where is the ABL layer in relationship to all the other layers in this onion? How does the ABL work in radiating energy to space?

      • David Springer

        I mean the earth’s surface. For land that would be like dirt, snow, etc. For the ocean it would be the part you first touch if you jump over the side of a ship.

        Thanks for asking.

      • David Springer

        IR emission doesn’t become the main mode of cooling until mid-upper troposphere. Surely you knew that so why did you ask?

      • RiHoo8, yep, Atmospheric Boundary Layer which is the lowest 3000 feet or so where most of the really interesting stuff happens. It is a boundary layer between the fixed surface and free atmosphere. If the surface were perfectly smooth, it would be a laminar flow region then evaporative cooling would more appropriate but because of roughness and turbulence,.evaporation may cool one area while warming another.

        So important layers would be subsurface, skin layer or surface proper, atmospheric boundary layer, free atmosphere which would contain the effective radiant layer, tropospause, stratosphere, stratopause and possibly the mesopause thanks to brewer-dobson circulation. Each of these layers absorb some solar energy and reduce the rate of surface heat loss to some degree. Clouds are a PITA because they vary so much with the layer they happen to be in. If they would stay put close to the ABL it would be a lot simpler problem. As it is, radiant loss from the ABL is at the mercy of the clouds for the most part.

      • The surface absorbs ~165. Cooling: sensible ~24; lantent ~88; net radiation ~53 = 165.

      • JCH, “The surface absorbs ~165. Cooling: sensible ~24; latent ~88; net radiation ~53 = 165.”

        Right, if you take just that one layer in isolation, however, the ~88, ~24 and ~33 of the radiant 53 that are transferred to the ABL produce that wonderful DWLR which isn’t really “cooling” is it? This is the issue with open systems.

      • David Springer

        Dallas you’re babbling. Figure below is dated 20 years but pretty close to JCH. It comes from an introduction to physical oceanography textbook. You don’t have the chops to correct it and it appears you don’t understand it well enough to explain it either. Stop trying.

      • David, “You don’t have the chops to correct it and it appears you don’t understand it well enough to explain it either.”

        Well, I did notice the atmospheric window error a few years before Stephens et al. but never tried anything serious about it.

        Notice that the all sky atmospheric window flux is 20 +/- 4 Wm-2 and after being dissed by Science of Doom, a few years later she ventured into the water vapor continuum issue with your buddies Kiehl and Trenberth not to great try.

        http://scienceofdoom.com/2013/02/02/kiehl-trenberth-and-the-atmospheric-window/

        There isn’t much attention paid to this which is a bit sad because that is about 50% of the “potential” warming that could be produced by 2x CO2, In simple terms, half of the window from the surface doesn’t exist. Misplacing 20 Wm-2 when you expect an impact of 4 Wm-2 is pretty funny isn’t it?

      • Well, to me surface means where you walk or float, and for me, I do not walk on water and I don’t float on land.

        You could say the surface absorbs ~ 510, which it ~does, and cools: sensible ~24, latent ~88, and radiates ~398, or ~510, which it ~does.

        But for the surface to actually heat or cool, the numbers have to be slightly imbalanced.

      • JCH, “But for the surface to actually heat or cool, the numbers have to be slightly imbalanced.”

        Yep, there is a slight imbalance and it is actually a warming imbalance, but since we have a steady state there is always cooling roughly equal to warming or Ein~=Eout. The thing is that evaporation and the impact of the water in the atmosphere limits heat loss more than it really “cools” by producing the majority of the DWLR. Forget about the rest of the system and hey, its evaporation, but that is an over simplification.

  9. Taleb’s science (is it social science, or what?) seems to run like climate science. Take a notion which is sort of plausible and sort of true in obvious but limited ways; don’t knock yourself out defining loose and even emotive terms like “intolerant virtuous people” or “in the form of courage”; don’t fuss too much over how you link them up; don’t take your ideas too far round the block where they get exposed to weather; give the punters “rules” and “logic” but also some nifty new buzz words; and don’t forget the ever-appealing argumentum pro Feynman…

    Can’t read this stuff. He says “your standard intellectualization fails with complex systems”. I’d say Taleb’s standard intellectualization fails with complex systems. But whose doesn’t?

    • I thought the black Swan idea was interesting but most of the rest of his stuff seems unexceptional and rather mundane.

      Tonyb

      • Some cliches are good, and “Black Swan” is certainly a good’un.

        But mostly with Taleb you get an odd garble of buzzwords, logical hops, mechanistic simplification…and quite a bit of activist nagging.

        While his indirect activism is aimed more at GMOs than at climate, he’s quite the climate hysteric. (We have only one planet!)

        At least, he seems to be ranting to that effect. It’s hard to say. The garbling is so severe at times he could almost be a “science communicator”.

      • Most of his work seems like that. Fooled by Randomness was the same as Black Swan, but he did make Black Swan very interesting/entertaining despite the concept being old hat.

        I like in BS that stresses the occurrence of positive outcome Black Swans, and that they can go un-noticed.

    • Taleb (or those who influence his thinking) relies on dynamic system model research. I used those models in the early 90’s (one model I prepared was eventually used as the seed for a much more complex model we developed in a joint industry project to research navigation in the Arctic).

      Although the models I ran tended to be “industrial” the training at the time involved social science models. I thought the ideas used to develop them were very sound, and also developed a model to mimic our recruiting and career development programs for engineers.

      The dynamic models themselves are very sound, they are a huge step ahead of conventional thinking models. The key is to have the skill to set up the proper linkages and feedbacks. And this usually requires empyrical data which costs a ton of money (and tine) to acquire.

      As you know I tend to think the IAMs used to create the IPCC pathways are flawed. One reason they are flawed is their inability to incorporate human response to events. This tends to be chaotic and can be irrational, therefore it’s hard to include in a model.

      In this particular case Taleb is right, a small highly focused minority can carry the day (it usually requires a bit of luck). The Bolzheviks did it in the Russian revolution. Mohammed and a few Arabs defeated the Persian, Byzantine, and other nations. And today we may be seeing a militarily weak but highly focused Castroite elite colonizing Venezuela and moving its tentacles into Spain, Colombia, and elsewhere.

      • Mmm, don’t like the idea of explicating history by mechanisms, especially fashionable model-based mechanisms. Obviously elites can better organise, plot and activate, since most people have to go on with their lives. But if we counted the losers, the eager and dynamic elites which have jumped up and flopped (try one week of Italian medieval history!) and which are jumping up and flopping right now, the mechanistic explanation quickly falls over. It’s like climate: a min/max and total rainfall won’t tell you the weather of a day, let alone an era. It’s all you’ve got, it’s handy, but it’s a sow’s ear.

        Like one of those really literal-minded climate scientists, Taleb is wanting a kiddie-console when he really needs to wade through the mush of history like the rest of us to see what he can fish up.

        But intellectuals like their levers, buttons and knobs, don’t they?

  10. George Devries Klein, PhD, PG, FGSA

    Most societal/political revolutions come from 3%, including the Russian revolution, the rise of naziism in Germany, fascism in Italy, etc, etc.

    • You could say that all those ideas come from a single person. It’s not until he/she starts to gather a following, and they start to impose their will upon others that it begins to matter.

  11. Looks like an elaborate version of “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” More of a truism than a rule.

  12. It’s not 3%..it’s 2%

    It’s been known that an Army consisting of 20 soldiers/1000 members of population can impose whatever will it chooses on the people. This stuff is taught at every war college in the world.

    A ‘normal’ policing force with the consent of the people is 3-5/1000 population.

    • IMO, depends on who has got what for ‘guns’. Syria, and all that. Even at the US inception, only the feds could have mustered the resources to produce the sailling batleship (still afloat) USS Constitution, aka Old Ironsides, which subdued the Barbary Pirates and acquited herself well in the war of 1812. Pertains to the US via second amendment, although slowly being superceded by intervening technology.
      As long as guerrilla warfare remains viable, so does the US Second Amendment.

      • Hi Rud

        It was our very own Admiral Pellew who destroyed the Barbary Pirates at The Battle of Algiers in 1820 and released the white Christian slaves. Some 1 million were taken from Europe, including many from the beaches of my town.

        I can see his house from my window.and the cannons used are on display on the lawn to this day. His battle flag is in our museum

        Thomas Luny the famous marine artist-who lived 200 yards away painted the scene. ‘Battle of Algiers.’

        tonyb

    • “..it’s 2%%”

      Or less depending on the methods involved. Shaping public views and normative behavior can be a function of the size of the minority and the means of influencing societal perspectives. It could be a majority of one. The extreme example is our Boy Kim Jong-Un, North Korea’s Wonderkind Potentate extraordinaire, (Viewed as the Sexiest Man Alive by North Korean female readers of The Onion) who uses imaginative devices for reinforcing mores. He executed a wayward aide using an anti-aircraft missile. Kim might have known that George Patton’s greatest fear was having a bullet headed straight for his nose. Reasoning that if a single bullet could create such anxiety, then publicizing use of a missile to dispense with an obdurate subordinate should be exponentially more effective in outlining the proper way that citizens should act, speak and think.

      On the other end of the continuum is the PC left. Involving more than a small cadre and using Gentle Persuasion and ad hominem blistering rather than the more disgusting hardware of Kim, the Thought Police nonetheless should be proud of its efficacy in bringing about desired changes not only in normative behavior but also accredited speech and acceptable thought.

  13. One wonders why Judith Curry prefers to only cite the first sentence and not the next. I merely pointed out that a sizable fractions of the mitigation skeptical scientists are bloggers, while mainstream scientists rarely blog:

    For balance, for every @curryja you would need 30 from mainstream.There are not so many blogging scientists.

    (And both links are broken.)

    • You cannot blog effectively if no real data supports your theory and if no real data matches your model output. They only submit their stuff to their consensus clique and to the supportive media.

    • Not following your point, much less why you are hinting at insincerity through it (“one wonders why…”). Maybe you can explain why your selection is different in some important way from Dr. Curry’s. What was she saying you said, and what did you really say?

    • well, that would be because I was interested in one statement in your blog post, which i used as part of an argument that I am making. Your statement makes my point; in my original post on this i discussed the 14-1 ratio at CCNF. Those interested in details of your arguments can go to your blog post.

    • VV, your arguement makes no logical sense. The majority of warmunists do not blog skeptically. Got it.
      Got anything else? You know, like observational facts about mainstream wamunist ‘projections’? Not going so well, either.
      Suggest ‘your side’ stop pumping out ever easier to refute protestations to the contrary. Maybe we get together on science ground truthing.

    • Your “balance” story is very credible, veevee. Mainstream scientists write a BS paper on some alleged negative impact of global warming that says “OMG! It’s worse than we thought!” Naturally it’s going in a big time journal, but first they issue a press release that is picked up by every freaking organ of the green-captive mainstream media and blasted around the world. And your yammering about a handful of skeptical scientists with little blogs. Nice work, veevee. And you all wonder why the folks don’t take you seriously, when you try to scare the crap of them.

      • Harry Twinotter

        Don Monfort.

        “Naturally it’s going in a big time journal, but first they issue a press release that is picked up by every freaking organ of the green-captive mainstream media and blasted around the world”

        Talk about showing one’s bias.

        I would rather a study in the peer-reviewed scientific literature that contains a cautionary tale than the conservative media that endless repeats PRATTs.

      • But you are not very bright. Send in the utter otter. He’s gotta be smarter.

      • make that smotter, for kim

      • Don Monfort, your misinterpretation of my first sentence is exactly why I protested against Judith Curry only quoting my first sentence.

        My tweet was not about “balance”, in context I was saying that only a small percentage of mainstream scientists are blogging, while directly communicating with the public is more common among the mitigation skeptics.

        Judith Curry first promoted a cartoon that misrepresented my tweet this way (linked above) and now does it again by only quoting the first sentence. I hope it is acceptable to set the record straight.

      • Victor: What in hell is a mitigation skeptic? I ask because mitigation is a policy and engineering problem where “climate science” has no expertise. Of course, they can inform the process, but, seriously, academic specialty scientists are the least qualified individuals to weigh in on what practical actions to take. As far as I can tell, there is no consensus on mitigation other than the rest of the world expecting the US to fix it.

      • Don,

        You have our swimming rodent pegged.

    • Your argument seems to be “I’ve got more and bigger soldiers”. That’s the same argument used by Darius at Gaugamela. Having more troops doesn’t mean you are “the good guys”, nor does it help you “win”. In your case even victory could bring you defeat, simply because you really don’t know what to do beyond silencing your opposition.

    • What is your point, veeevee? Seems you are saying because Judith has a blog, “for balance” we need 30 scientists from the mainstream to do what? Blog? Well, let’s put that BS to rest. You have realclimate, so there is your blog balance. Now how about balance in the journals and the mainstream media? Is there balance there?

      Stop the freaking whining about balance. There is none. The consensus has a virtual monopoly, except for a few little skeptic blogs. Means of communication is not your problem. It’ lack of convincing evidence, the debate is over BS, double ethical bind, the pause is killing the cause, Climategate etc. You all are failing because you are dishonest and inept.

      • I am really sick of this climate science BS. I am used to dealing with people who are with few exceptions honest and serious. Doing their jobs with dedication and dignity. Tinkers tailors soldiers spies. This climate science profession is a mess.

      • ” This climate science profession is a mess.”

        Bunch of whiny primadonnas who wouldn’t last ten seconds in the engineering profession.

        Would anyone trust their kids on an aeroplane that had been designed by climate “scientiists”?

        Actually, it would be interesting to know if climate “scientists” would – I suspect they wouldn’t.

      • Oh balance … Here’s what Dr Robert Carter has to say.
        ‘Human Caused Global Warming’ in his executive summary:

        ‘AGW supporters exercise strong influence over the United
        Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),
        and also over what is published in the professional scientific
        literature about climate change. Climate rationalists
        (derogated as “sceptics”) who seek a balanced discussion
        on the issue, and greater recognition of the dominant role
        of natural climate change, are subject to harassment,
        intimidation and censorship. Policy advice to governments
        through scientific agencies and academies is corrupted by
        financial and political self-interest. Public discussion of
        climate change is greatly degraded by an unremitting
        press bias and by lavish NGO-funded propaganda towards
        alarmism in the AGW cause.

        With the publication of the British Stern Review into Climate
        Change in late 2006, and the scheduled release of the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC in early 2007, AGW
        alarmism is reaching unprecedented heights. The non-
        alarmist, rational interpretation of climate change will prevail
        through this hysteria, as empirical data come to trump
        unvalidated computer model predictions. Thereafter,
        attention will turn to the real climate policy problem. Which
        is the preparation of appropriate response plans for the
        occurrence of extreme weather events, as well as for longer
        term climatic coolings and warmings, in the same way that
        we prepare to cope with other natural hazards such as
        storms, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.’

        Oh Shukla and 20 et AL.

      • Serfs hate it when the lines won’t stay where u put them. (

  14. The converse side is that people tend to use certain numbers when they want to look “right.”

    When you see “100% of scientists agree with us,” you know that’s wrong. No matter what the issue, you’re going to find at least one pedantic weirdo who will say it’s incorrect.

    When you see “99%,” you think “oh, that’s what ads say, so that can’t be right either.”

    “98%” verges on “nothing ever comes out even.”

    But when you hit 97%, suddenly people think “yeah, that sounds plausible.”

    So when people start making up numbers that they want to be really convincing, they often tend to land on 97%…

  15. It’s amazing that modern science in the Western world felt it had no ‘skin in the game’ when it came to what began as a minority of global warming alarmists who founded their version of climate science by first eschewing the scientific method and then substituting an unverifiable digital reality for objective reality.

    • the skin in the game argument doesn’t make too much sense to me, but the asymmetry argument did resonate with me

      • I read “skin in the game” as “strongly opinionated”.

        A strong opinion could be right or wrong, or one could have a strong opinion because your life depends on it.

        A strong opinion is the source, but a single individual rarely makes enough of an impact. There then needs to be either support, such as the crew at CRU, or a number of individuals with similar strong opinions, such as allergies to peanuts.

      • I see it has having more to do with keeping strong opinions honest. We are surrounded by uncertainty. But, those with nothing to lose (e.g., no skin in the game so no chance of losing if an outcome is bad), downside risks may be hidden while hoping to benefit if outcomes turn out to be positive.

      • When I read “skin in the game” I took it to mean feeling a personal responsibility to impose altruistic punishment.

        Of course, publicly paying the price to impose altruistic punishment can, itself, become a status symbol, which ends up paying for itself in increased respect from the community. (Depending on personal values.)

      • Ancel Keys had skin in the game with cholesterol ( prestigious appointments ), but fooled the government, the research community and most of all himself with confirmation bias.

        But if one can avoid the various biases, perhaps being motivated to ‘prove your point’ causes all to dig harder to discover the truth.

        Of course, ‘global warming’ doesn’t appear to me to be a matter of either-or science breakthrough, but more a matter of extent and degree.

        Demonstrably, the rate of warming has been less than the low end predictions of the past. Perhaps due to ocean heat uptake, perhaps a little less water vapour feedback than constant RH, but nothing much appears to be a matter of great change or discovery.

      • Hi, Judy. This seems to be a generalization of the well-known phenomenon from economics / political science, where a minority interest group can get a significant public benefit by focusing intensely on a narrow subject. “Concentrated benefits; diffuse costs” is the way it is usually worded, meaning the minority group can be successful getting their benefit because the costs to fund / support that benefit are spread across the whole population. And so for 3% (or whatever) the issue is very important, but for 97% it isn’t very important at all, simply because it doesn’t cost very much and therefore isn’t worth bothering about.

    • Academic scientists have all kinds of skin in the game. It is in the former of funding. AGW is the goose that lays the golden eggs. Consider all the research proposals that have little to do with climate that mention AGW in one form or the other. Consider all the published research that draws in AGW like a spurious non sequitur. You could even get your name and institution mentioned in the media. Play the game right and you could even get tenure.

      • Having skin in the game means having something to lose if you’re wrong. You’re talking about all upside if things go as planned but no downside to making up facts to say what others want to hear. Western academics can engage in knowing and deliberate fudging of the data to arrive at preconceived conclusions and nothing happens: they keep their jobs. The global warming alarmists have nothing to lose by purposefully exaggerating effects and consequence to get attention. Why not blame every natural disaster on CO2?

        ENSO currently is in the phase of a peaking El Niño and a likely outcome of all these weather activities is a torrential rain event somewhere in Florida — perhaps sometime in the next 30 days. If that happens a Nobel prize-winning climate scientist probably will point a finger and proclaim the flood is an example of extreme weather and evidence of human-caused climate change.

  16. Consider how this rule might apply to rabidly fundamentalist Muslims in the US or Europe? Is the fact they are a slim minority enough to ensure they won’t influence law here?

    • In the UK, a small number of Sharia advocates did persuade some influential figures to suggest it’s results are used instead the British courts for family and community issues e.g. divorce.

      Considering how misogynist sharia is, lots of young muslim women would not want that.

    • Islam is an assertive and uncompromising religion. It will get its way on a number of things with a relatively small percentage of the total electorate. This activism has been shown to work also with trade Unions, political ideas and all sorts of single issues, about which a small number fervently believe and are prepared to spend their time on the cause.

      I would say that green activism/climate change falls into the same category of a small number of fervent activists being highly influential, especially as they would view it as a noble cause.

      tonyb

  17. It seems a minority of enviro-whaacckkooos have hijacked the EPA.

  18. Harry Twinotter

    “Preponderance of evidence is not sufficient to carry the argument for a complex system fraught with uncertainties and unknowns.”

    Yes it is.

    • It was good enough for the EPA to create new laws.

      I think Judith’s question might be rephrased as: “is it wise to do so”.

  19. Harry Twinotter

    I can’t help feeling this article misses an important point: are the 3% acting in good faith?

    “The ‘skin in the game’ part of the argument seems to fit energy companies, whereby their investment in providing fuel and electric power (not to mention their profits) arguably are associated with the most skin in this particular game.”

    Not necessarily. The people with “skin in the game” could be the entire human race.

    • Harry Twinotter said:

      I can’t help feeling this article misses an important point: are the 3% acting in good faith?

      Are the 97% acting in good faith?

    • Harry Twinotter said:

      The people with “skin in the game” could be the entire human race.

      They could also be the Warren Buffetts of the world.

      • Buffett Ready to Double $15 Billion Solar, Wind Bet

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-06-10/buffett-ready-to-double-15-billion-solar-wind-bet

      • Making a big bet on solar energy, Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company has acquired two SunPower solar photovoltaic power plant projects in California for between $2 billion and $2.5 billion, the companies said Wednesday….

      It’s just the latest solar deal for Buffett. MidAmerican Energy also owns the 550-megawatt Topaz Solar Farms built by First Solar in San Luis County, Calif., and holds a 49% stake in a 290-megawatt solar power plant in Yuma, Ariz.

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/toddwoody/2013/01/02/warren-buffett-in-2-billion-solar-deal/#3f5003ab7df4

      • Harry Twinotter

        Glenn Stehl.

        “They could also be the Warren Buffetts of the world.” Gee that is going to be an awful lot of Warren Buffetts.

        Pretty clumsy subject change to promote one’s agenda. Ah cherry-picking, gotta love it.

      • Well Harry, I’m not sure who’s the David and who’s the Goliath in this epic battle for the soul of America, or who has the most skin in the game, whether it be Buffett or the Koch brothers.

        But it’s pretty obvious that Warren Buffet has a great deal of skin in the game, and he sure to heck ain’t no David.

        So in this intricate two-step between victim science and special-interest science, I’m not sure who’s winning the dance competition.

        It looks to me, though, like it’s a contest between titans.

    • “Not necessarily. The people with “skin in the game” could be the entire human race.”

      FAIL.

      The entire human species is more vulnerable to an asteroid strike than any kind of AGW. Your nonsense assumes humans are unintelligent and unresourceful, pawns to their environment, unable to adapt. Your statement is an emotional appeal, without reason.

      Humans are now considering the colonization of the Moon and Mars. I suggest that the human species could continue to exist on Earth even under the conditions of the worst wild ass guesses dreamt up in your climate apocalypse fever dream.

      • Exactly — the human race is better off with more not less energy. Moreover, according to Freeman Dyson, humanity is better off with atmospheric CO2:

        Carbon dioxide levels have risen inexorably since the 1700s. Yet despite this, climate sensitive indicators of human and environmental wellbeing that carbon dioxide affects directly, such as crop yields, food production, prevalence of hunger, access to cleaner water and biological productivity, and those that it affects indirectly, such as living standards and life expectancies, have improved virtually everywhere. In most areas they have never been higher, nor do they show any sustained signs of reversing. ~Freeman Dyson

  20. It appears a minority runs the Dimowit party. (This may be true for the Redimowit party also, but that remains to play out.) From the article:

    Bernie Sanders lost by a hair in Iowa and won by a landslide in New Hampshire. Yet Hillary Clinton has amassed an enormous 350-delegate advantage over the Vermont senator after just two states.
    Outraged by that disconnect – which is fueled by Clinton’s huge advantage with Democratic superdelegates, who are not bound by voting results – Sanders supporters are fighting back.

    http://www.politico.com/story/2016/02/bernie-sanders-superdelegates-democrats-219286

    • Reminiscent of a stacked climate science deck, no?

      Think about what you typed a couple times.

      • I keep hearing people say we live in a democracy. Of course we in the US live in a Republic, but still, why are we going through this charade of voting when the 3% have stacked the deck to the point that we just don’t matter. That’s the way I feel and I’m pretty sure that’s the way most Trump supporters feel.

    • David Springer

      Superdelegates don’t vote until the primary convention in July and it’s a secret ballot. Undoubtedly some number of public pledges for Hilarious by superdelegates are motivated by fear of the Clinton political machine. Reporting those before July along with actual pledged delegates like there’s no difference seems like a classic case of counting chickens before they hatch. Republican party doesn’t have superdelegates.

      • It’s good to know the Redimowits don’t have superdelegates. I’m a bit surprised considering how power-drunk they are. But that fact is uplifting, nevertheless.

  21. Harry Twinotter

    Oh I get it. This article is another “consensus-bashing” exercise. Not to worry: no amount of twisty rhetoric and diversions will change the Cook et al 97% consensus result.

    • Judith can’t change Cook’s result.

      Have you ever read any article on Cook’s 97% result? Because it’s clear to everybody that it is a junk result. I’m surprised to see you still believe it means anything.

      Besides; consensus is simply a majority belief, which doesn’t say anything about what the truth of the matter is.

      • Harry Twinotter

        Greg Cavanagh.

        “Because it’s clear to everybody that it is a junk result”

        A strong claim. And your evidence for “everybody” is…

        “Besides; consensus is simply a majority belief, which doesn’t say anything about what the truth of the matter is.”

        The first bit is correct. The second bit is fluff.

        I will put it this way: what if the results were reversed? Which actually was the case with some deniers, they claimed that many climate scientists did not support AGW. Pity the deniers never published their survey results as evidence for their claim.

    • You really are a tool, Harry. The 97% is really more like 0.003% when you look at humanity. This motivated fraction is having a big impact on society, no? QED

      Why do you bitterly cling to the comfort of the made up 97% consensus? Your opponents are weak, ignorant and unintelligent and are losing.

    • Taken time off of YouTube comments Harry?
      If you think Cook’s result was valid then you are hardly worth talking to. 41 papers out of over 11000+

      Seriously.. I suggest going to the legshop, to get a leg to stand on mate

  22. Sorry, but Mr. Taleb continues to propound all manner of odd theories in support of his apparent personal views.
    GMOs is a terrible example. Mr. Taleb ignores the very large political as well as economic backbone behind the anti-GMO movement, as well as any nuance whatsover in the definition of what GMO actually is.
    There are tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of individuals who make a living antithetical to GMOs (There are over 14000 organic farms alone, then add up all the organic stores and what not).
    There are multi-billion dollar revenue corporations which make money off of being antithetical to GMOs – Monsanto’s revenues are only slightly larger than Whole Foods’.
    There are entire categories of “non-GMO” foods which were created through all manner of “non-natural” means including chemical and irradiative. Why is the insertion of a single or handful of specific genes considered bad when the chemical and/or irradiative mutation of entire genomes considered acceptable?
    Thus his “virtuous intolerant” group in GMOs is actually a highly profitable as well as ideological combination of politics and business.
    Mr. Taleb continues to try and parlay his long tail success into expertise in other areas – but the sad fact is that his undervalued long tail risks which made him money exist because of systematic and deliberate underpricing of risk by banksters, neither accidental or from ignorance.
    The selling of derivatives with underestimated risks allows all manner of balance sheet dressage – a fact not lost on those who engage in it – and thus his “discovery” had very little to do with native intelligence and very much to do with an out of control financial sector.
    Unlike the financial sector and its derivatives, however, the other areas Mr. Taleb attempts to stick his thumb into have profiteers on both sides. His attempts to inject “science”, “statistics” or other forms of “objectivity” into analysis fail because these areas do not exhibit the one-sided behavior of long tail financial derivatives.
    There are plenty of reasons to dislike Monsanto – primarily their legal patent related attempts to monopolize farming profits – but the crusade against GMOs is not the same thing.

    • Come on, clue. Lighten up a little. Hysterical Luddites have feelings too.

    • I’ve never understood some of the anti-GMO claims.

      A piece of the cauliflower virus in GMO is dangerous. But whole cauliflower virus in cauliflower isn’t??? And a plant virus besides???

      Most of the anti-GMO claims seem to fall in the “LHC and black holes” theory range.

      They need to up their game.

  23. Regarding skin in the game, the motivated reasoning that accompanies it would seem to be a failing of science, but I’m beginning to appreciate Ray Dalio’s company. They’re making predictions about financial outcomes, not physical ones, but the same principles apply. They actively foster dissent. And not just Devil’s Advocates because Devil’s Advocates don’t have their hearts in the endeavor. Only the advocates with skin in the game actively think about alternative outcomes which advance insight.

  24. Nicholas Taleb said:

    In promoting genetically modified food via all manner of…overt scientific propaganda, the big agricultural companies foolishly believed that all they needed was to win the majority….

    It is strange, once again, to see Big Ag who…with hundreds of these scientists who think of themselves as more intelligent than the rest of the population, miss such an elementary point about asymmetric choices.

    Another person who didn’t hold the integrity of scientists and intellecutals in very high regard was George Orwell:

    The backbone of the resistance against Franco was the Spanish working class… Unlike other classes or categories, it can’t be permanently bribed….

    The intelligenstia are the people who squeal the loudest against fascism, and yet a respectable proportion of them collapse into defeatism when the pinch comes. They are far-sighted enough to see the odds against them, and moreover they can be bribed — for it is evident that the Nazis think it worth while to bribe intllectuals.

    — GEORGE ORWELL, “Looking Back on the Spanish War”

  25. Oliver K. Manuel

    Professor Curry,

    I especially appreciated your last sentence, “Had science operated by majority consensus we would be still stuck in the Middle Ages and Einstein would have ended as he started, a patent clerk with fruitless side hobbies” and the cartoon below it.

  26. Politicians are frequently looking for the silent majority whom they claim to be championing. Climate politicians, those who view life as we have know it will soon end because of our carbon ways, also claim the social high road, saving the world from us, ourselves.

    These consensus scientists, are in deed, the minority. Their arguments do not resonate with any particular majority. Rather, it is the appearance of a majority; i.e., the consensus, that is their schtick. And so we suffer their cause in tribute and political ends.

    An intransigent minority as observed in the 1920’s Germany Nazi’s or 2000 USA Tea Party reflect a fervor of purpose to substitute for any intellectual recitation or a climate of coercion can exist with sparse facts.

    I am not surprised that it is un-imaginable to most that a climate scientist’s guerrilla operation of intellectual stealth and governmental executive power grab has succeeded as it has.

    i guess it is not surprising when the socially adventuresome are so willing to hoodwink the so gullible; when the monied minority can buy their way to conflict of interests; when a knowledgable group are willing to stand aside while all sorts of intellectual and scientific carnage passes them by.

    “The main idea behind complex systems is that the ensemble behaves in way(s) not predicted by the components. The interactions matter more than the nature of the units.”

    Seizing the moment means manipulating the interactions to one’s own agenda, re: peer review, mainstream media, governmental funding priorities.

    Everything in the name of: “Saving humanity from itself.”

    • The Donald has found the salient majority. And we are carrying him on to Victory! If he doesn’t blow himself up.

  27. In terms of perseverance, probably one of the longest lasting in the United States is the tiny group of people who believed Western Civilization would end if married couples on TV shared the same bed. Married couples almost always do share the same bed on TV now, but that tiny minority still has an outsized stranglehold on programming.

  28. JC said And finally, this statement bears repeating (over and over):

    Science isn’t the sum of what scientists think, but exactly as with markets, a procedure that is highly skewed. Once you debunk something, it is now wrong. Had science operated by majority consensus we would be still stuck in the Middle Ages and Einstein would have ended as he started, a patent clerk with fruitless side hobbies.
    _____

    A person could easily interpret that statement to mean the majority of scientists are wrong if they believe differently than he believes, and he should ignore them, or even better, voice his skepticism and debunk their belief so that science can advance to a new consensus.

    I’m afraid repeating the statement over and over again, as recommended by JC, could give a climate contrarian false confidence and an exaggerated feeling of importance. I suggest repeating the following instead.

    Science has come a long way since the Middle Ages when the majority of scientists believed the world was flat and cats were witches. If I believe the majority of scientists today are wrong about something, it’s probably I who am wrong, unless I can debunk the old consensus and give birth to new one. Thinking I have debunked something, however, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s debunked. I have to provide compelling evidence.

    • See recent unbunking of the recent Amazon basin debunking.

    • “If I believe the majority of scientists today are wrong about something, it’s probably I who am wrong…”

      This statement is the logical conclusion and is the road most often taken, but it isn’t true. There are indeed two questions in here, why do others belief that, and why do I get different results. To conclude you are wrong simply gives in to the mystery at hand, and it fails to gain understanding or to discover that everyone is in fact wrong.

  29. Machiavelli was on to this a long time ago.

    “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order, this lukewarmness arising partly from fear of their adversaries … and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who do not truly believe in anything new until they have had actual experience of it.”

  30. David Springer

    97% explained:

  31. When a felon’s not engaged in his employment
    Or maturing his felonious little plans
    His capacity for innocent enjoyment
    Is just as great as any honest man’s

  32. I have been intrigued by the genetic advantage for the “sceptic” (aka obstinate won’t go with the crowd because he – and it is normally he – knows they are wrong).

    If the 97% figure were correct – it suggests that 97% of the time one is better off “going with the flow” even though the flow is going in the wrong direction, whereas only 3% of the time is it worth going against the flow. It also suggests 97% of people are genetically (or culturally) predisposed to be like sheep.

    If that reflects the benefits of each type of action, it suggests that “doing the right thing” is only beneficial to the individual in the long term 3% of the time – that is extremely worrying – and it obviously explains why things like nazism and other atrocities can happen so easily.

    Or perhaps another way to view it, is that a society is “too heavy” with sceptics if it is more than 3% filled with those who go their own way. Or perhaps, it is just that the 97% will eventually follow one of the 97% – so the 3% are there just to give the other 97% a choice of people to follow.

    Or perhaps it is simple chance: it’s not that “loners” or “sheep” are intrinsically better. Instead loners tend to go their own way. And, in a catastrophic situation, the probability of being “terminated” by following the crowd of 97% is small (3%?). But because one is “following the crowd” this tends to lead to an infrequent occurrence of everyone being terminated by the same stupid decisions. Whereas the probability of being terminated by “going it alone” is high (97%?) – but when there is success, it occurs when 97% of the rest of society have meekly followed like lambs to the slaughter – so by being in the 3% who “go it alone”. So, the “sceptic” has huge success just when everyone is a complete disaster.

    So, although there is a smaller chance of survival by being a loner, the loner survives when almost everyone else has died meaning they have the floor clear to ensure their genes survive!

    • Scottish Sceptic,

      You might enjoy this paper written by the evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson, since it touches on some of the same issues which you do:

      In 1705 Bernard Mandeville published a humorous allegory in verse portraying human society as a bee hive in which every individual is motivated by personal greed but the effect is to make the society hum along as a unit…..

      Mandeville’s fable of the bees, along with Adam Smith’s metaphor of the invisible hand, has long been used to convey the idea that a well-functioning society can be forged out of individual self-interest.1 This idea has become such a tenet of modern thought that for many it is an unquestioned axiom and for decades it has served as the foundation of formal economic theory….

      In this essay I will update the fable of the bees based on modern evolutionary theory. The updated version retains Mandeville’s emphasis on self-organization, in which an adaptive society can operate without any centralized intelligence. However, it rejects the concept of self-interest as an adequate description of either the thoughts or actions that enable individuals to self-organize into adaptive societies.

      http://evolution.binghamton.edu/dswilson/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/DSW10.pdf

      Don’t expect to find any sure truth here, though, as the theory of multi-level selection is a dissident theory in evolutonary biology, believed in by only a rump group of dissident scientists, although it may be gaining ground.

      The domiant theory is still individual-level selection theory.

    • When everybody is wrong, everybody is right.
      —Nievelle de la Claussée, quoted in The Perpetual Pessimist, 29

  33. If his rule were a rule there should be a problem finding counterexamples. Just think of religious minorities that didn’t manage to take over the society over centuries.

    And with this rule societies were completely unstable. After one minority took over it should be easy for the counter-minority to switch back again (or wherever).

    There are always a lot of qualifying minorities in any society and when a society changes for whatever reason it will in generell not be random (as Talebs rule suggests) but because certain memes are favored as advantageous which depends on a lot of other things. They must at least be compatible with basic physical constraints (O.K. debt expansion can accommodate a lot, but finally the scheme will break down).

    In hindsight any kind of change will have started small and could be construed according to Talebs scheme. But that’s trivial.

    That the better is the enemy of the good is also trivial (asymmetry).

    Skin in the game is about exposure to direct payoff. People who propagandize some scheme with no direct exposure in general will have some indirect exposure (even if its only psychological). There’s always skin in the game. Only the exposures will be different to different people.

    • You are correct, krmm. It ain’t really a rule, or even a suggestion. It’s way too long and convoluted to be either. It’s just another topic for some sort of discussion that is somehow related to something or other. It’ll blow over soon after the next post comes out.

      Hopefully, we can get back to the ever interesting Popper argument, or CO2 attribution. That’s always entertaining. Haven’t had either of those old favorites for a few days. But if you are among those who actually find this kind of stuff interesting, I am just funnin’ you all. Sort of.

  34. ‘Let us conjecture that the formation of moral values in society doesn’t come from the evolution of the consensus. No, it is the most intolerant person who imposes virtue on others precisely because of that intolerance.’

    This is not so. There is a fundamental base of altruism that is a characteristic of group evolution. Specific morals above this are linked to emergent cultural entities, which compete via all the normal rules of (cultural) evolution. Both are not driven by the ‘ants’, but are an emergent property of the ‘nest’, using Taleb’s own example.

    Memes which allow the folks who transmit them to claim the high moral ground, frequently sweep society, CAGW being one such example. This is a leveraging of altruism for (in this case) a net parasitic social entity. Yet this is clearly an emergent social behavior and not a machination of individuals. Nor do the memeplexes formed in this way always succeed in their domination.

    • andywest2012 said:

      This is not so. There is a fundamental base of altruism that is a characteristic of group evolution. Specific morals above this are linked to emergent cultural entities, which compete via all the normal rules of (cultural) evolution.

      I agree. This is how the psychologist Andrew M. Lobaczewski explains in Political Ponerology:

      The pathological authorities are convinced that the appropriate pedagogical, indoctrinational, propaganda, and terrorist means can teach a person with a normal instinctive substratum, range of feelings, and basic intelligence to think and feel according to their own different fashion. This conviction is only slightly less unrealistic, psychologically speaking, than the belief that people able to see colors normally can be broken of this habit.

      Actually, normal people cannot get rid of the characteristics with which the Homo sapiens species was endowed by its phylogenetic past. Such people will thus never stop feeling and perceiving psychological and socio-moral phenomena in much the same way their ancestors had been doing for hundreds of generations. Any attempt to make a society subjugated to the above phenomenon “learn” this different experimental manner imposed by pathological egoism is, in principle, fated for failure regardless of how many generations it might last….

      The entire system of force, terror, and forced indoctrination, or, rather, pathologization, thus proves effectively unfeasible, which causes the pathocracy no small measure of surprise. Reality places a question mark on their conviction that such methods can change people in such fundamental ways so that they can eventually recognize this pathocratic kind of government as a “normal state.”….

      The achievement of absolute domination by pathocrats in the government of a country cannot be permanent since large sectors of the society become disaffected by such rule and eventually find some way of toppling it. This is part of the historical cycle.

  35. Relating to Power of 3%

    We are soft, disinterested, and always seeking entertainment. We do not want trouble in general, we want it to just go away. The majority are not militant, shouty and aggressive in our ideology and the media have made the majority reactive only, in their respective filter bubbles.

    Essentially life is being made a partisan issue, as the world becomes more connected we increasingly become islands of thought all separated by an ocean of shouting voices.

    Sadly the majority are “along for the ride” and seldom try steering the boat.

    It’s time we stopped expecting someone else to do everything for us. For example, thinking ‘ranting and voting every 4 years’ is taking part, is delusional.

    Centralisation. The more centralised the governance structure the more influence the minority can gain by pressuring that central structure, this we clearly see in many aspects of modern society and governance.

    Lobbyists know this well, this is why the EU exists after all

    • To add, you could think of this as hacking.

      With decentralised governance, the minority would have to hack every individual entity. If the federal government was actually as it was meant to be, lobbying your people in or pressuring the Federal Government would not give a loud minority the influence they wish.

      Minority groups can hack the core switch by either lobbying their people into centralised power or pressuring\influencing centralised power and own the network (all states or globally (UN))

      The way things are now, it is like having your core switch in the DMZ where anyone can have a pop at it.

      Single seats of power, if we are going to be honest about how much we have not advanced (mentally) are nothing but a massive risk.

      Obama’s executive orders are proof of that. The US president pretty much runs the UN too lets be honest. Gates run the WHO and brought about that monster Common Core, the dumbing down of America..

      Orgs and Foundations and such hack in this way. Chipping away for years and years shaping society education and life to the ideals of those who provide the respective organisation’s funding.

      Climate change science is a perfect pudding in which there is proof to be tasted

  36. Sociologist Joseph R. Gusfield, I think in _Constested Meanings_, formalizes the route to political power.

    1. Discover a new “public problem,” usually something that previously had been a personal moral failing.

    2. Take ownership of it.

    3. Tell everybody that “the debate is already over” about its solution.

    You wind up in charge, even though you’re a tiny minority.

  37. stevefitzpatrick

    Judith,
    I don’t see any great insight here. A motivated minority often manages to institute policies which are clearly contrary to the interests of society at large. Sugar import duties/quotas (to enrich sugar farmers), and ethanol fuel mandates (to enrich corn farmers and the corn/ethanol industry… which, by the way, also blocks the import of cheaper sugar cane based ethanol) are but two obvious examples. The squeaky wheel gets the grease; when costs are diffuse and benefits are concentrated the result is often very bad public policy. NGO’s are just the latest incarnation of minorities forcing their desired policies on everyone else.

    • Substitute this for a certain lengthy and convoluted post and save everybody a lot of time and aggravation:

      “A motivated minority often manages to institute policies which are clearly contrary to the interests of society at large.”

    • What is the takeaway?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Afghanistan

      It’s what they do.
      At the end, the fall of an empire is always rapid.

    • Steve makes an important point here concerning how a minority of interest can force others to comply to their “special” interest. But how do these interest groups obtain compliance and where do they go to command it. It is almost exclusively to government bodies. Seldom to never will you see these impetuous types make appeals for voluntary action.

      Further in a society free from government interference we have market places for those minorities who would want to design, build or consume a minority product. Whence from minority to majority that action can go given the voluntary nature of an unfettered market.

      • stevefitzpatrick

        Kenneth,
        Rent seeking is the natural consequence of representative democracy. Some politicians (like Mr Obama) are more prone to dispense politically motivated business favors than others. Those who think business is subservient to politics (like Mr Obama) have no problem with disrupting the normal processes of the market to favor a desired political result. In my lifetime, only Jimmy Carter approached Mr Obama’s distaste for the market regulating business activity. I don’t consider this at all surprising in light of his other policy choices.

  38. Dr. Curry — This blogpost only makes sense (to me) in the context that one takes binary (black/white) views. Examples would be sincere folks like Dr. Hagen (who don’t believe that AGW is significant) or Dr. Schmidt (who believe that GW is +100% from humans).

    My understanding is that your views don’t fit a binary paradigm, as you’ve repeatedly stated:

    Your best guess is that the human influence on GW/CC is about 50%. You’ve clarified this further by saying that this means between 25% and 75%.

    Could you elaborate this blogpost (or future post) in a context of “about 50%, between 25% and 75%”? Thank you.

    • The Revkin quote makes much more sense to me — and why I’m trying to understand the TCR arguments:

      The real issue with global warming isn’t the yes/no, believe/disbelieve issue. It’s how serious is it as a threat to my world, or worldview – and then it’s what do I prefer to do about it? A right royal mess.

      • The issue has been polarised.

        Polarisation is useful only in political and ideological arenas.
        The debate has been intentionally polarised for the unwashed masses so as to create “sides” of the “fight”

        This is how many see this, an ideological struggle, others see it as right v left.

        I am apolitical and have no ideology other than common sense and rules of thumb from experience, and history.

        My main issue is with the debate. Not who is right. It is not a debate, and too many political and ideological voices have too much influence.

        The scientific method is taking a battering in recent decades, all thanks to this polarisation of scientific discussion.

        The real question is why makes it a binary choice? Who benefits from a partisan debate?

        Easy answer, those that want everyone to not look at the real issues, which is why you have so many talking about global average temperature, which is a meaningless aspect of the debate. It is nothing but slight of hand, as was the “97%” which was a psychological trick on progressives by progressives.

      • *Who makes it an a binary choice.

        darned typos!

      • and then it’s what do I prefer to do about it? A right royal mess.

        Right – and what does the rest of the world prefer to do, regardless of what I prefer to do?

        And what secular factors are going to change anyway?

    • I am utterly dismayed when I hear people blame China for all of the pollution that has driven our economies in Europe and the US especially after we shifted all of our polluting industry to China.

      Nutcases on their Chinese made iPads bemoaning China’s pollution.

      Being smug about wind turbines when the parts made in Baotou China have helped turn the place into a toxic wasteland that wont grow anything for thousands of years.

      Mentally ill people do not connect their own consumerism and cheaper products to Chinese pollution, nor do they wish to address it, it is called cognitive dissonance

      • Mark says:
        “after we shifted all of our polluting industry to China.”

        Right, Mark. China was an unwilling partner in this and has not profited by it. The fact that China chooses manufacturing methods that pollute is not on the West, it is on their dictatorial leaders.

      • jim2 | February 15, 2016 at 10:15 am |

        Mark says:
        “after we shifted all of our polluting industry to China.”

        Right, Mark. China was an unwilling partner in this and has not profited by it. The fact that China chooses manufacturing methods that pollute is not on the West, it is on their dictatorial leaders.
        _____________________________________________

        Jim why are you making up an imaginary argument? What has it to do with what the Chinese thought or wanted.?

        The point that was obviously lost on you is the fact, yes a fact, that fools who blame China alone for China’s pollution problem, whilst they have enjoyed the 2 decade benefits of China’s pollution, are idiots.

        If you use consumer products that create pollution, you are part of problem. I am simply irked by people who do not see the connection to their own sloth and materialism.

        Try reading the post before replying, it helps keep things coherent mate.

      • im2 | February 15, 2016 at 10:15 am |

        Mark says:
        “after we shifted all of our polluting industry to China.”

        Right, Mark. China was an unwilling partner in this and has not profited by it. The fact that China chooses manufacturing methods that pollute is not on the West, it is on their dictatorial leaders.
        ________________________________
        Jim maybe you should read my post again.

        You seem to be having some imaginary argument. My point was obviously that if we consume products made in China as we have been doing and gain the economic benefits as we have been doing then hte pollution is ours too.

        Simples

        So those who blame china whilst having a new TV every 3 years and a new car, iPhones tablets computers and all the trappings, are delusional and need to look at themselves.

        No matter which nation bore the industrial brunt of the boom, it would have caused the same pollution, no nation could have accommodated such a boom for Europe and the US and kept pollution low, impossible.,

        So man up and take your share of the blame, as we all should

      • I understood your argument. You are simply wrong.

      • And frankly Mark, I’m not ashamed of anything done by my ancestors, either. I’m done with the X (fill in the blank) guilt mind games. You can stuff it.

      • I look at country of origin for everything I buy. Every thing. I avoid products made in China whenever possible. I can’t avoid it 100% because there are some items I can’t find from countries other than China. So if you buy *all* your stuff from China you can keep your blame but don’t pass it on to me.

  39. The problem is 3% of society has decided to gum up the works. They have decided they want a pristine environment (whatever that is) and have decided that all emissions are bad. They want drive out all mining and manufacturing or use draconian regulation to double or triple or more the price of doing anything in the US.

    Because they invariably have “doesn’t produce anything” jobs they don’t care if they destroy the economy. No skin off their nose. The unemployed can go on welfare or claim false disability.

    They have mastered the art of legal attack, overregulation, and disinformation. They don’t care that it is disinformation because it is “for a good cause”.

    The solutions are pretty simple. Downsize government where many of them live, RIF or discipline the adherents at EPA, NSF, NOAA, NASA that aren’t doing their jobs honestly and objectively. Modify the civil court schedule so important projects such as nuclear reactors get expedited treatment – perhaps via a plaintiff bond, and the loser pays the bond. Allow damages and punitive damages for suits deemed frivolous or retardant. The only way to stop the gummers is by making them pay for their activities. The incentives for them to sue government should be removed.

    It seems that Taleb’s minority argument could explain the divergence between the alleged 97% consensus of scientists, versus the only 50-60% of the U.S. public that are buying the argument that climate change is caused by humans.

    There are a couple of issues with this statement:
    1. Climate change is not just caused by humans.
    2. Climate change caused by humans is not the same as climate change caused by GHG.
    3. The scientists owe their jobs to the climate scare and can scarcely be considered disinterested parties. There was 0 (zero) climate change spending in 1988 and now it is $22 billion, with $2.5 billion for science. Polling scientists is like asking the executives in the fossil fuel industry if fossil fuels are beneficial.
    4. There is an implicit assumption that climate change is bad.
    5. There is an implicit assumption that polling people who have been badly disinformed or have a clear bias proves anything.
    6. The CAGW theory is that GHG forcing is high enough and future CO2 levels will be high enough to cause high warming that is harmful and will last a century or more, and much higher than has occurred in the past, and we have to start now with no half measures … just because we say so.

    None of the elements of the previous statement (#6) have been proven. The chance the statement is true is infinitesimally small. The reason it can;t be ruled out is not enough is known – and for whatever reasons resolving the uncertainty hasn’t been a priority, because disproving any of it disproves CAGW and removes the need for immediate, if any, action.

    Given that fixing virtual problems is counterproductive, all the facets of the CAGW claim should be proven before it is time to treat it as a problem.

    Human caused climate change does not mean CAGW.

    • Dealing with real pollution means actually taking on the big corporate leaders, and immense cost that will have to be borne by the corporate world, where as CAGW means that wont happen and we the people pay for it.

      Simples.

    • The scientists owe their jobs to the climate scare and can scarcely be considered disinterested parties. There was 0 (zero) climate change spending in 1988 and now it is $22 billion, with $2.5 billion for science. Polling scientists is like asking the executives in the fossil fuel industry if fossil fuels are beneficial.

      So they knowingly or unknowingly make it all up? Are they intentionally trying to fool people (sociopathic) or are they all so deluded by their biases that they can’t see their errors?

      • It has been almost 40 years since the ECS was estimated at 1.5-4.5 °C.
        It hasn’t changed. That is like skipping work and going drinking. The aerosol range is pretty broad as well.

        Skipping work and going drinking, isn’t lying (depending on what you tell your boss) it is skipping work and going drinking.

        Cooking plants to show cooked plants don’t grow well or looking at sea creatures at the limits of their range with pitted shells (which have pitted shells because they are at the limit of their range) has nothing to do with determining forcing.

        Instead of tackling the nuts and bolts issues of the CAGW hypothesis, to like determine if it is even rises to the level of implausible, we are wasting tax dollars letting scientists play on computers and study inconsequential things.

        It isn’t lying. It is more like goofing off.

        tt wouldn’t hurt to put together a “real” RCP either. They are diverging from reality pretty quickly.

      • It has been almost 40 years since the ECS was estimated at 1.5-4.5 °C.
        It hasn’t changed. That is like skipping work and going drinking. The aerosol range is pretty broad as well.

        So it’s not made up? The work done has been legitimate? Your only complaint is that they haven’t done enough and they can’t or won’t see it. But somehow “skeptics” like yourself can see it. Is that about right?

      • Your only complaint is that they haven’t done enough and they can’t or won’t see it.

        Well, in February a study came out that measured a quasi-TCR forcing level of 0.2 W/m2 for 22 PPM over 11 years.

        There should be a raft of “Oh noes, we guessed the TCR and ECS way too high” studies coming out that the map the measured forcing into TCR and ECS and compare them to the guessed values.

        Please point me to these studies.

      • Are you asking about the motivations of the fossil fuel execs, or those of the climate science boys and girls, yoey? You don’t make it clear. I would guess they are all humans and pretty much alike with generally the same motivations. Also, you could have framed your questions to give us some choices that allow us to express that the subjects have some positive traits. But then you are not very bright.

      • it’s a mix, some go along even though they dont want to, most just want an easy life and to publish, some, and it is the minority, the ones in positions to cow the rest, are completely dishonest, like M.E.M and Schmidt, Karl, Jones.

        Put it this way, tell me what you foresee happening to a post grad if they work science that disagrees?

        There is your answer

      • So, Mark, they are all making it up? Because the first two suggestions imply they don’t really believe in what they are doing.

      • I’ll have to help you, yoey. They all believe that CO2 is a so-called GHG. They all believe it will cause some warming that could cause us problems.

        That is the 97% consensus. It is very believble and it has room for just about everybody who is informed on the science and rational. That includes the majority of the people that you fight with here, yoey. Are you with me so far, yoey?

        But when you get into the powerful positive net feedback assumption, the establishment climate science Team are not half as certain as they pretend to be: Climategate. They done been Schneiderized. They are serving a noble cause,addressing the risk of CAGW, which puts them in a double ethical bind of their own making.

        They have plenty of incentive to get on and stay on the CAGW bandwagon-gravy train. Serving humanity in time of crisis, while serving themselves at the same time. Standard human stuff, yoey.

        But if God forbid! and bite your tongue the threat of CAGW is found to be minimal, most well-funded well-traveled well-respected climate scientists will be well-redundant. Can you say Uber, yoey? Gentlemen! Start your engines!

      • But when you get into the powerful positive net feedback assumption, the establishment climate science Team are not half as certain as they pretend to be: Climategate. They done been Schneiderized. They are serving a noble cause,addressing the risk of CAGW, which puts them in a double ethical bind of their own making.

        So the ones who believe in positive feedbacks are making it up? Trying to fool everybody, like the IPCC? I am trying to figures who are the dupes and those who know it is all a charade, Don. I get that “skeptics” know it’s an obvious charade whether they are scientists or not. But I sti

      • We can always count on you to try to distort what we say, yoey. I didn’t say they made it up. They done been Schneiderized,. Half of their double ethical bind tells them they have to exaggerate, play up scary scenarios, downplay doubt … blah blah etc. Don’t pretend you don’t know what that is about.

        No use conversing with you, yoey. You are not very bright or honest. Carry on with your foolishness. You are not doing the cause any good. Just diminishing the collective credibility of the consensus every time you comment.

      • Half of their double ethical bind tells them they have to exaggerate, play up scary scenarios, downplay doubt … blah blah etc.

        Well, Don, if the exaggerations and scary scenarios aren’t true then they are making them up. Right?

      • You are free to call it any way you see it, yoey. The result is you have zero credibility. Dismissed.

    • Mark | February 15, 2016 at 12:25 pm
      “Dealing with real pollution means actually taking on the big corporate leaders, and immense cost that will have to be borne by the corporate world”

      Wrong.

      The cost will be borne by the consumers – ie you the people, same as always.

      • Never start with a sentence fragment.

        As for your second comment, I guess you need to look up the cost of dealing with many industrial wastes. The cost is enormous.

        Product sales cannot absorb such a huge increase, and that increase in cost would be immediate if corporations are forced to deal with pollution properly.

        Take Fluoride for example, this industrial waste is VERY expensive to dispose of, the aluminum industry just could not put the cost into products if they wanted to sell them in most countries, China not so much if they just dump it, so they get it put into the US water supply via science even more hookey than MEM’s hockeystick!

        Granted cost always gets pushed on to consumers, but seeing it as simple as that is meaningless. There is more to it.

      • >”Take Fluoride for example, this industrial waste is VERY expensive to dispose of”

        That’s why they put it in mains water and toothpaste.

        As to seeing it as “that simple”, the family fortune – such as it is – comes from over half a century of recycling waste – some of it fairly unpleasant, and on the basis of that, I can assure you you don’t know what you’re talking about.

        You comprehend no more about business practices, either. Where do you think the corporations that you demonise get their money from, and what do you think they will do if you try to victimise them?

        I’ll tell you – they will close down and re-create themselves without the debts. And that, as they say, is that.

      • I’m curious Mark, if the corporations can’t possibly afford to deal with the pollution that China routinely dumps all over their own country, then how did anything get made before everything was made in China? I seem to remember that being a fairly recent development.

  40. “Science isn’t the sum of what scientists think, but exactly as with markets, a procedure that is highly skewed. Once you debunk something, it is now wrong. Had science operated by majority consensus we would be still stuck in the Middle Ages and Einstein would have ended as he started, a patent clerk with fruitless side hobbies.”

    And yet, I can’t somehow but think that if the only thing that happened was the debunking without any new conssensus developing from that… the debunking would have counted for nothing.

  41. Re: Asymmetry and the power of the 3%, 2/14/2016

    The main idea behind complex systems is that the ensemble behaves in way not predicted by the components. Taleb.

    Predictions are a product, and the principle product, of scientific models, which are totally manmade, from the coordinate system up. They do not occur in nature, and so the components of a system have no power of prediction.

    Taleb alludes to the role of minority rule in Popperian falsification. Popperian falsification is not at all a straightforward endeavour for a complex problem such as climate change, and is probably not a useful concept in this context.

    Agreed, but no one cite any scientific model in any field which contains a “Popperian falsification” clause. It’s impossible because scientific models are not true-false.

    Popper based his falsification, as its name and derivation show, on the false assumption that scientific propositions are logic-valued. Scientific models are mappings on existing facts to future facts (the predictions), where facts are observations reduced to measurements and compared with standards. Scientific models describe experiments on the real world. “Do this, and here’s what you will measure.” These propositions are statistical, each dimension measured between 0 and 1 along the positive real line. Popper’s famous example, ‘All ravens are black’ is a definition in science, not a proposition, a fact Popper dismissed, saying definitions do not matter.

    … the alleged consensus …

    Science curses an alleged consensus twice: once for being unmeasured, and again equally for being a consensus.

    Taleb identifies the minority as an intransigent group, and the majority as a flexible one. Not exactly clear how this plays out in the climate debate.

    Moreover, Taleb seems to associate the (intransigent) minority with error and the (flexible) majority with correctness or science. But then he seems to contradict himself, debunking consensus in science:

    Science isn’t the sum of what scientists think, but exactly as with markets, a procedure that is highly skewed. Once you debunk something, it is now wrong. Had science operated by majority consensus we would be still stuck in the Middle Ages and Einstein would have ended as he started, a patent clerk with fruitless side hobbies. Taleb.

    How science operated is indeed an observation about the philosophy of science (science is not about voting — it’s not so complex a system as a democracy). But that is derived from evidence, the pragmatism in the observation. It is recognition that objective knowledge (science) progresses one person at a time. Scientific models, as with markets and products, undergo a bright birth-life-death process, where meanwhile any consensus is a noisy, lagging, and hence useless, indicator.

    Popper’s model of science featured the phantom tenet of falsification, but more importantly it included peer-review, publication in journals, and consensus among practitioners, all within a closed community. These three tenets he called intersubjectivity. This triad substituted for objectivity and causation as the core of his deconstruction of Modern Science. It was his replacement of strict objectivity with metaphysics, i.e., freedom from the empirical. On science, Popper was anti-Bacon, and on philosophy, anti-Kant.

    Stove, Popper and After Four Modern Irrationalists, 1982. Taleb was a crank. Falkenstein (2009), Review of Taleb’s The Black Swan.

  42. from Koehler’s NY Time’s Grey Matter column:

    “What explains this cognitive glitch? One possibility is that when we are presented with comments from experts on either side of an issue, we produce a mental representation of the disagreement that takes the form of one person on either side, which somehow contaminates our impression of the distribution of opinions in the larger population of experts. Another possibility is that we may just have difficulty discounting the weight of a plausible argument, even when we know it comes from an expert whose opinion is held by only a small fraction of his or her peers…..”

    Koehler calls is a “glitch”, but I do not believe that is correct. When scientific controversies are presented as numbers (97% of experts, “the majority of experts agree…”, “all but a small number of contrarians think that…”) the reader or listener is subjected to a type of “propaganda” that depends on the weight of numbers (is 97 greater than 3?) instead of the scientific positions and the arguments for each position.

    If one holds a minority position in a scientific controversy (Climate Wars, Great Barrier Reef Wars, Salt Wars, Obesity wars, Blood Pressure wars, etc), these findings indicate how important it is to ensure that there are clear and easily quoted statements of the basis of your minority position printed and read alongside those of the majority position. Some portion of the public will be swayed by your plausible argument.

    This is a huge factor in the constant attempts to stifle all non-consensus climate science and silence non-consensus voices. One only needs to read the Climate Team’s Attack-Dog blogs to see how important they feel it is to stop those voices from being heard and listened to. (I have recently had the honor of being the target of not one, but two, recent [and hilarious!] features — along with our hostess — at one of of the more unsavory blogs.)

    This is also the underlying reason for the continuous efforts to force main stream news outlets to cease to provide balanced reporting — if they balance with actual position statements or data, it really does weaken the consensus positions stranglehold on public opinion.

    Why? Non-consensus climate science positions and arguments are not only plausible but to many, they are obviously, almost intuitively, correct.

    —-

    Taleb’s idea of the asymmetrical power of minority positions work, but only when dealing with an inflexible minority and a flexible majority, in a very public and social arena. Peanuts in schools and airplanes are a fine example — in the case the inflexibility arises from biology. The gluten free fad is beginning to have effects in the marketplace. The “Health Food fad” and the “organic” fad are likewise being found to be great marketing ploys — people who care only want organic (even the fake organic actually offered) and those who don’t care about that will buy organic if there is no price penalty. [even I will eat an “organic all-natural” candy bar (!) if it costs no more and is all that is available.]

    I do not believe it applies to science — though there is some evidence that the nutty anti-vaccine movement has had an out-sized effect and endangered many children’s lives.

    I don’t think that non-consensus climate science will benefit from the concept.

    • Kip

      One of the science programmes on BBD radio did a statistical analysis of the gluten ‘fad’

      It found that very many people were not gluten intolerant at all and overall, only 1 percent of the population had a genuine gluten intolerance, definitely a marketing led idea

      Tonyb

      • Reply to climatereason ==> Thank you, quite right. There have been medical studies that return this result. Not surprisingly though, many people “feel better” on a gluten-free diet — which partially validates at least two propositions: 1) The Placebo Effect and 2) the physiological/nutritional idea that many people suffer various blood-sugar related malfunctions — eating white bread by the bagful (think of a giant white-bread submarine sandwich) can spike blood-sugar level just as readily as a giant Snickers bar.

        Serious research into nutritional fads has found that people making almost any major, intentional, sacrificial (in their own estimation) change to their diet to “improve my health” tend to report “feeling better” as a result, at least in the short term — six months or so. After that, the effect tends to fade.

        I have no bias against the gluten-free thing — my wife was a childhood celiac sufferer — had a mess of a childhood for a few years until her body “grew out of it” (or acclimated to gluten?).

  43. I don’t see the null hypothesis being formulated correctly.

    Take one part. Rise in sea level.

    Warmists define the test is that if sea level rises and C02 rises, AGW is proved.

    The problem is that they have made an unstated and unproved assumption. The assumption is that there is no natural change in sea level going on. Clearly an erroneous assumption based on historical sea levels. We know that sea level varies and quite considerably. Certainly enough to swap the claimed few millimeters.

    What they really need to do is to produce two signals, the natural and the unnatural, and be able to show there is a difference. That means modeling the natural, and they don’t do this.

    Hence its hocus pocus.

    • From the pictures things look about the same.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diolkos

      Nothing new under the Sun.

    • Sea Level.
      1. LOD: 1.3 mm/y or less – based on physics.
      2. Tidal gauge – tend to be in the 1.5-1.9 mm/y range based on luck
      3. Sat. GMSL – 3.3 mm/y – based on guessing.

      There is something odd here – either scientists haven’t decided to measure the same planet or one or two of them are doing it wrong.

      The Tidal gauges depend on luck of location of the tidal gauge aggregate..

      The Satellite SWAG involves guessing at the geoid, the satellite location the water level above 66° etc. The Arctic according to some gauges lost 8 cm from 1990 to 1998 – about 6 cm before 1993 and gained it back since. This is net zero, but a huge false positive for the satellite measurement which starts in 1993. Only a portion of the Antarctic coast is covered. And if the ice sheet is growing (as appears to be the case) the sea level will rise locally. There is significant land subsidence due to water/mineral extraction and it is claimed that masking etc. etc., but they still have to generate a reference geoid.

      And then there is this
      https://podaac.jpl.nasa.gov/dataset/MERGED_TP_J1_OSTM_OST_GMSL_ASCII_V2

      Temperature:
      There is really 6 signals.
      1. ALW (Anthropogenic Local Warming)
      2. AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) or GHG forcing.
      3. Natural Variation
      4. Natural Warming.
      5. CGAGW (Computer Generated Anthropogenic Global Warming) – closely related to CGSLR (Computer Generated Sea Level Rise).
      6. Aerosol and other unrelated forcings.

      Separating out #5 is easy. The others are a tougher nut to crack.

      Putting climate stations in pristine areas out of the heat plume of urban areas would eliminate/reduce #1.

      The other four are a technical challenge to separate. The global warmers have no interest or desire in doing a clean separation. They are so interested in claiming all warming as GHG that they have added some more warming in (CGAGW), and overestimate aerosol cooling to make GHG look better. The IPCC wants to claim 110% of warming is due to GHG.

      That claim is flatly absurd.

      An issue that doesn’t get discussed enough is the linear or exponential extrapolation of 90s warming. A number of natural factors (evaporation rates etc. ) are strongly sensitive to temperature and mightily resist any GHG forcing attempt. The response is going to be logarithmic if anything.

      • Several things are odd.

        Currently they are claiming its too difficult to measure ice cap mass. That’s largely a static volume, not moving much. Not affected too much by wind, tides, atmospheric pressure or temperature.

        Yet apparently you can measure sea level to the millimeter, even with the awkward bit of physics about angular momentum putting limits on things.

        Next, occam’s razor. Throw more and more things in the pot, adjust the ‘factors’ and you can certainly hindcast.

        But its forecasts that matter. There is huge selection bias going on, and the result is that selection bias + large numbers of factors = curve fitting. You can tell because the predictions have been wrong.

        Notice too that because the predictions didn’t work, they have been relabeled as projections. Ask why no test was specified a priori, and the abuse starts.

        So I’ll make a prediction. Next year global average temperature will be down, adjustments up.

      • So I’ll make a prediction. Next year global average temperature will be down, adjustments up.

        The 1910 to 2000 trend for GISStemp was 0.45°C in 2008. The adjustments to GISSTemp for the 1910 to 2000 period since 2008 have been 0.26°C and 1910 is 0.71°C cooler than 2000.. They added 0.1 degrees in the last month. 0.26°C is a 58% increase.

        When the adjustments to 1910-2000 (dead data) exceed 0.3°C, 2/3rds of the original data trend, GISSTemp should be defunded and the staff RIFed. We should not wait for them to double the trend. Hitting 0.3 °C in just their post 2008 adjustments (not including substantial pre 2008 adjustments) will indicate that GISSTemp has no meaningful relationship to real temperature.

        GISStemp should have been defunded when their adjustments hit 50% of the original trend. NCDC has only inflated temperatures 20% over the same period.

  44. John Vonderlin

    I blame TV God for the hoi polloi’s reticence to be converted to one or another of the consensus scientific doctrines. While an ever-shrinking number of people spend an hour-a-week absorbing religious doctrine, the mass of local humanity is spending evermore hours staring at the light and truth the Holy Boob Tube proffers 24/7. In a futile effort to maintain some semblance of sanity while experiencing that babble of confusion they have learned to tune out the endless weaselly “truthy” pitches in most commercials. Many of those involve statistics; four out of five, nine out of ten, 99 and 44/100ths, anybody that’s somebody, etc.
    History and experience has shown us (I’m very polloi-ish myself, though I use teethpaste) that scientists, motivated by all the deadly sins, are as malleable in their presentation of the truth as ad writers and that a healthy dose of skepticism or even cynicism drizzled over their presentations helps them to pass through our systems smoothly, reducing both mental gas and bloating.

  45. Comments received from Lee Jussim via email:

    But Taleb’s essay is consistent with a whole body of literature in social psychology (while we are on the topic of the replicability and validity of social psychology — oh, wait, that was a different thread…) on minority influence.

    There is a great book and an easy read reviewing this literature called The Rules of Influence: Winning When You are in the Minority by William Crano. I bet you can find the whole thing via libgen…

    Taleb’s essay is also consistent with Saul Alinsky’s classic Rules for Radicals.

    • The 3% is like a splinter in the posterior of society. Not sitting on the splinter (giving in) just encourages them. The splinter will be there with a new cause tomorrow. The better solution is to look at ways to pull out the splinter.

    • “Taleb’s essay is also consistent with Saul Alinsky’s classic Rules for Radicals.”

      Yes, funny that.

      Seems there’s a lot of it about.

    • Taleb’s essay and Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. First
      thing I did after reading Taleb was refer back the the
      twelve rules,and then to the activist emails regarding
      a ‘putative’ Medieval Warming Period’ that, well, needs
      to be removed from the record.Who was it said that
      you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own
      facts?

      There are the activist utopianists who seek to change
      the political world, ‘noble’ lies are justified, then there’s
      those scientists who seek to understand the physical
      world via questions and tests… a problem when we
      confuse the two.

      • beththeserf said:

        There are the activist utopianists who seek to change
        the political world, ‘noble’ lies are justified, then there’s
        those scientists who seek to understand the physical
        world via questions and tests… a problem when we
        confuse the two.

        I think the agenda of 97% of scientists is to confuse the two.

    • The rough chapter draft is vague and covers different example types. But if the theory is that virtue comes from ‘imposition by minorities’, not only would this appear to counter a large body of biological literature on the evolution of altruism, but also other bodies of literature such as that of cultural evolution and memetics.

      Cultural mores are spread depending upon their selective value, though in some circumstances that value is to the survival of a cultural entity (e.g. a religion) and not necessarily to its human hosts. For behaviors that have zero or trivial selective value (e.g. driving manuals versus automatics), random patterns may set in, or regional patterns if selective value is mildly higher for some local reason (automatics used to be poor in snow). We value life extremely highly in society, so in an *informed* society this has high selective value; it has nothing to do with ‘imposition’ and works via ground-up social mechanisms.

      All this is emergent behavior indeed, but not one granting any special role to minorities. As others have noted above, every new behavior starts with a minority, and there must also be an infinitude of minorities that failed to ‘impose’ their own behavior.

      Cultural (and for that manner biological too) mechanisms work to ensure that there will always be polymorphism within a population, i.e. always a *diversity* of types and behaviors. From an evolutionary standpoint this is healthy, and mono-cultures are very unhealthy. So there will always be a shifting dynamic of major and minor behaviors, always some *changing* majorities and minorities. Yet these are equally important, and it is the driving selective evolutionary mechanisms that are key to understanding, not a focus on minorities (or majorities come to that). To the extent that this means there will always be tension and competition, well yes, but we knew that anyhow.

      Maybe there’s more in other chapters, but I can’t think of anything that would underpin this ‘rule’ at a fundamental level (i.e. from cultural and biological evolution). I’m happy to be enlightened though, should some such exist.

      • Correction: We value life extremely highly in society, so in an *informed* society minimizing risk (e.g. of death by peanuts) has high selective value; it has nothing to do with ‘imposition’ and works via ground-up social mechanisms.

        plus: above will also cause those who pass on allergy genes to grow, amplifying the issue is society, same with many other conditions.

      • andywest2012 said:

        Cultural mores are spread depending upon their selective value, though in some circumstances that value is to the survival of a cultural entity (e.g. a religion) and not necessarily to its human hosts.

        It sounds as if you’ve accepted the ” scientific consensus” of evolutionary biologists.

        The dominant theory, as explained by the dissident evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson, is that popularized by the rock star scientist Richard Dawkins, and holds that religion is non-adaptive:

        In The God Delusion Dawkins makes it clear that he loathes religion for its intolerance, blind faith, cruelty, extremism, abuse, and prejudice. He attributes these problems to religion and thinks that the world would be a better place without it.

        — DAVID SLOAN WILSON, “Beyond Demonic Memes: Why Richard Dawkins is Wrong About Religion”

        http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/07-07-04/

        Another dissident who challenges the “scientific consensus” is the Russian scientist Peter Turchin. He argues that every group, such as a nation, has a unifying belief system, which a majority believes in, and which serves as the “glue” that binds the group together.

        This unifying belief system can be religious, or it can be secular, such as that of the United States. As Thomas E. Buckley explains in The Political Theology of Thomas Jefferson, “Thomas Jefferson articulated for his fellow Americans a set of shared beliefs fundamental to the development of a national faith.”

        And as Sloan Wilson argues in Darwin’s Cathedral:

        Even massively ficticious beliefs can be adaptive, as long as they motivate behaviors that are adaptive in the real world.

        Furthermore, these unifying belief systems, although they can be highly beneficial to the in-group, can have devastatng consequences for out-groups. As Sloan Wilson explains:

        [E]ven when groups do evolve into adaptive units, often they are adapted to behave aggressively toward other groups. In Darwin’s scenario, the moral virtues are practiced among members of a tribe and are directed against other tribes. Group selection does not eliminate conflict but rather elevates it up the biological hierarchy, from among individuals withing groups to among groups within a larger population…..

        This might be a disappointment for those searching for a universal morality that transcends group boundaries, but it follows directly from the organismic concept of groups.

        So how do groups reconcile all the bad stuff they do?

        Well, as the BBC documentary on racism I linked above explains, one way is that they merely deny it. They air brush it out of their history.

        Therefore, speaking in terms of factual reality, there can be a huge gap between factual reality and the national mythology.

        Usually it takes someone in an out-group, for instance a member of an internal minority, to point this out. Here’s a great example from James Baldwin, writing in The Fire Next Time:

        The American Negro has the great advantage of having never believed that collection of myths to which white Americans cling: that their ancestors were all freedom-loving heroes, that they were born in the greatest country the world has ever seen, or that Americans are invincible in battle and wise in peace, that Americans have always dealt honorably with Mexicans and Indians and all other neighbors or inferiors, that American men are the world’s most direct and virile, that American women are pure.

        The problem with mythologies, such as the national mythology of the United States, is that they work fine for as long as they work.

        But then things can change, and they don’t work any more. Nietzsche was very keen to this:

        That truth is always best for life is a moral prejudice.

        Falsification has been shown to be essential; truth is often ruinous, and sheer illusion helpful, as experience testifies.

        And of course there is no certainty about the pragmatic value of our beliefs; there is merely the fact that we have survived so far. Beliefs not immediately harmful may yet be fatal in the long run.

      • Glenn Stehle | February 16, 2016 at 9:52 am

        Have you misread? My text you emphasize specifically implies that religion *is* adaptive. RD does not speak for all evolutionary biologists, even on matters of evolutionary biology, and they’re not the got to guys for religion anyhow. I agree with DSW to the extent that RD’s position on religion seems to be more about emotive reaction than logic. ‘Delusion’ sails very close to ‘mental illness’, which by definition is wrong anyhow considering the large majority who still believe. And essentially all the planet still believed not so long ago.

      • andywest2012,

        OK, glad to get that cleared up and to learn that we’re on the same page in believing that religion can be adaptive.

  46. The simple notion that democracy is a majority rules system is simply incorrect. Minority movements and requests are often responded to by the political system, especially when they are unopposed, as is often the case. For example the typical Congressperson’s visitor’s list is a parade of minorities. Many, perhaps most, laws are passed to help minorities. There is no mystery here. It is the job of the system.

    • A surprising number of people are incapable of differentiating between a society governed on democratic principles and mob rule.

    • A system in which the government responds as much or more to pressure groups and squeaky wheels is called “polyarchy” in Political science. (See Dahl.)

  47. catweazle666, 2/16/2016 @ 5:11 pm, said,

    A surprising number of people are incapable of differentiating between a society governed on democratic principles and mob rule.

    Such a fine line! No wonder most people can’t make the differentiation. Which, of course, is why discerning students of the US system recognize it as strictly republican (Madison, Federalist #39), or even better a Constitutional Republic, not a democracy (Scalia, dissenting in Boumediene v. Bush). Failure to make that vital distinction is perhaps the real, enduring and timely problem.

  48. the 97% argument was ginned up when the scientific argument began to falter
    painfully obvious to someone like me who showed up without a dog

    my first exposure was the cartoon scientists at SkS
    I’ve never trusted anybody that just had three fingers since they are obviously incompetent with machinery

  49. This is off topic a bit but I’m hoping someone can help me out. I’m arguing on FB against CAGW. Someone posted a chart of CMIP5 overlaid with observed temps. But CMIP5 came out in 2012 or 2013, right. And all the data before that is a hindcast, right. CMIP5 doesn’t prove the models unless the next 10-15 years agree with the predictions. All we know now is the we can make models that match the past. Is that right or am I missing something. Thanks.

    • Harry Twinotter

      David Ging.

      There is no point having a discussion about CAGW because it does not exist, it is an abstract concept. I have only seen climate change deniers use that term.

      CMIP5 is a framework. It is not one model. If you look at the IPCC AR5 report they did a lot of model runs to form an ensemble.

      The models are never “proven”, they are only projections that give a range of likely global warming trajectories. I think of them as experiments.

      The data from before 2012 is not necessarily a hindcast, models have to be run to allow the model results to stabilize. I think what is more important is how recent is the forcing data that was used to initialize the model.

      • “There is no point having a discussion about CAGW”

        Of course there is a point in discussing it. An honest discussion will bring out that CAGW and AGW are the same thing, just a difference in degree.

        AGW is as much an abstract concept as CAGW is.

        Andrew

      • It is my understanding that the models have the following problems which nobody has explained the answer to me.

        1) the models take numbers and perform billions of calculations which introduce multiplicative error propagation that means the prediction beyond a small period of time would be completely ridiculous.

        2) models if left to run produce ridiculous temperature and climate forecasts with temperatures over 200C and below -200C. Unphysical dampening was introduced algorithmicly to force them to “look like” possible weather.

        3) no model works better than any other. For any time period selected one model may work better but if you choose any other time period there is just as much probability one of the other models will be better.

        4) the models are initialized every year with real data from different regions to keep them realistic as within 3 months they start producing weather that is not at all what happens.

        5) the models do mimic the hindvast temperature to some precision but they are completely off the wall for any other parameters like precipitation, storms, humidity, wind, natural disasters of any type.

        6) We have spent billions and billions and there is no concrete evidence I have seen of any substantial progress on improving their results in 20+ years of trying.

        7) the models even today still show a slope at least 2 1/2 times the actual historical temperature change for the last 70+ years.

        8) the models do not have PDO variability of amo variability nor is there any known way to predict or insert these 60 year cycling phenomenon into the models to date.

        9) the models ascribe the wrong reasons for the temperature rise in the early 20th century. (PDO ANO COMBINED WITH SOLAR and some small co2)

        10) the models ascribe the wrong reason to the cooling between 1945-1975. They say soot and changing albedo. The actual fact is far more PDO Etc.

        11) the models wrongly ascribe all of the heating between 1975-2005 to co2 when probably half was related to PDO Etc…

        12) models therefore do not anymore show that the warning from 1975-2006 was with high probability (95%) caused by man are co2.

        These are all to my knowledge factual statements each of which by themselves would be damning to the accuracy or predictability of the models. I therefore contend they anyone who uses the term model to justify anything including as basis for grant funding is a waste of time and money. We should defund these efforts until we have reason to believe we can change the fundamental unknowns which make these models ridiculous exercises.

        10) the models ascribe the wrong reason

      • So what you are saying is that there are no predictions that can be tested.

        Yeah, right!

      • Harry Twinotter

        LB.

        “So what you are saying is that there are no predictions that can be tested.”

        If you are talking about projections, not predictions, then I didn’t say that.

        They can indeed be tested, actually they are tested as soon as they are generated. This is the point of running a modelling experiment in the first place.

      • Harry Twinotter

        Bad Andrew.

        “AGW is as much an abstract concept as CAGW is.”

        That is the silliest claim I have seen in a long while.

      • Harry Twinotter

        logiclogiclogic.

        “1) the models take numbers and perform billions of calculations which introduce multiplicative error propagation that means the prediction beyond a small period of time would be completely ridiculous.”

        Just about every point you make is wrong. I won’t respond to a Gish Gallop as it is a waste of time.

        Climate change deniers generally do not understand climate models. They read something on some website, then repeat it.

      • There otter be a law against warmist drive-by trolls wasting our time with their non-substantive dismissals and insults. Do they think they are doing the CAGW cause some good, or they are just here to annoy the unbelievers?

      • Skeptics understand models. Primarily, they understand how wrong they have been. When I think of a climate modeler, I have this vision of a hunched over climateer sitting in their blanket covered cubicle soulfully humming “I don’t get around much any more.” They have lost touch with reality and are unaware of that split. Abstractions have replaced the physical world.

        Skeptics know that ancient history goes back before 1979. They know that the word “unprecedented” is thrown around so often it has lost all meaning. Modeling has replaced historical and contemporary observational data.
        Skeptics actually track down warmist claims about the past and see how wrong they are. They look at adjusted graphs and relize how they don’t comport with the science of 50 years ago or don’t conform to what they actually experienced.

        Skeptics have had enough of a life to have seen hundreds of scientific studies discredit previous studies across a wide spectrum of disciplines and then decades later they have seen those new studies discredited themselves. Climatologists are simply the latest generation of scientists lacking humility and without a broad enough perspective to understand their own fallibility.

        All modeling, just like glory, is fleeting.

      • Otter,

        You state: “Climate change deniers generally do not understand climate models. They read something on some website, then repeat it.”

        You also say this: “CMIP5 is a framework. It is not one model. If you look at the IPCC AR5 report they did a lot of model runs to form an ensemble. ”

        Making it clear you are the one who doesn’t understand modeling. Or at least that you don’t understand that one gets a meaningless result when they try averaging a multitude of models having different parameters.

        Well maybe not completely meaningless, if the objective is to hide the fact that the models are all over the place.

  50. Reasonable Skeptic

    From a layman’s perspective…

    The original 3% were the activists. They turned the 3% into a 97% consensus because they were without opposition and they had decades to mould the process to their will (media, NGOs, universities, governments etc). Now they present the consensus as “it is happening and it is dangerous” when it is in fact simply “it is happening”.

    This has clearly worked when you have POTUS parroting their false consensus.

  51. It is actually a crossroads and there are 4 arrows:
    1. Simple but wrong.
    2. Complex but right
    3. Simple but right
    4. Complex but wrong.

    CAGW is complex but appears to be wrong.

    GHG warming is simple and appears to be correct.

    But there is no guarantee of CO2 increase, global warming, or sea level rise in the future beyond 2050 whether we take action or not.

  52. David

    “It’s wonderful to be here
    It’s certainly a thrill
    You’re such a lovely audience
    We’d like to take you home with us
    We’d love to take you home. ‘ SGt Pepper

    Its great to have you here, entertaining and informing us.

    tonyb

  53. Well, I guess you could also apply this to the Islamisation of Europe.

  54. Geoff Sherrington

    If it fits, what of the example of a flock of birds, whose individual movement seems controlled by 4 factors –
    don’t hit the ground
    follow the direction of the pack
    short-range repulsion – don’t run into your neighbours
    long range attraction – keep in the bounds of the pack
    This seems like group behaviour, not with a small group controlling 97% or whatever of the behaviour, but with 0% central control.
    Is there really a spectrum of levels of control of 0 to 100 % with the flock of birds at one end and the peanut example near the other?
    Before discussing asymmetry, do we not need a better definition of the objects within which asymmetry can be postulated?
    Geoff.

  55. David Springer

  56. David Springer

  57. “AGW is as much an abstract concept as CAGW is.”

    “That is the silliest claim I have seen in a long while.”

    An observer can’t perceive ‘global warming’, so scientists draw a squiggly line in an attempt to represent visually (something not even visual) that they think might be meaningful in some way. Warming isn’t a colored line. What you are looking at is a synthetic representation of an estimated statistical trend in some kind of average.

    Averages don’t exist anywhere but the human mind. Trends don’t exist. They are not an event or an occurrence or an object. They are imaginary. They are conceptual. They are abstractions.

    Andrew

    • “Averages don’t exist anywhere but the human mind. Trends don’t exist. They are not an event or an occurrence or an object. They are imaginary. They are conceptual. They are abstractions.”

      That’s a bizarre claim. The temperature of the ground about 3+ feet deep is the average of the surface. Lots of physical systems integrate dynamic inputs into averages. Trends exist as well. Average temperature trends colder with increasing latitude. That’s certainly real enough. Lots of physical systems exhibit trends. Averages and trends exist independent of observers.

  58. High probability of catastrophic climate change:

  59. . Or at least that you don’t understand that one gets a meaningless result when they try averaging a multitude of models having different parameters.

    ==============

    Oh dear!

    Consensus denial

    So come on, what do you do with all the models?

    Do none of them make a prediction

  60. I enjoyed the article and blog post. A couple reactions as a layperson with many years working for an electric utility. Utilities will invest in whatever stuff government tells them to because when they make these investments, the profit is guaranteed. For a state-regulated utility, the profit is based on how much the asset costs, and a flat rate of return… it is the same rate of return whether the asset makes power 20-30% of the time (solar) or 90% of the time (nuclear plant). So, many electric utilities are not fighting climate change policies. Many look to the public opinion polls and work to stay in-step with what they believe their customers and government officials want them to do. While they have access to smart people who could easily review the climate models and data, they don’t bother. Even the research arm of the electric utilities (Electric Power Research Institute) has not made an effort to review the science behind the assumption of dangerous climate change. On a different note, one of the reasons that the “97% of climate scientists agree” myth continues is that most journalists don’t take the time to seek out other points of view. I heard Ted Koppell speak earlier this week and he literally said that today people wrongly think they are “entitled to their own facts,” and he cited climate “deniers” as an example of people who are not accepting “the facts.” He bemoaned the fall of network news, wishing himself back to a time where we all trusted the network newsfolk to decide and present “the facts.” I look forward to learning more about the power of small groups of people who refuse to go along with the crowd.

  61. Took me a while to get the cartoon. The “Wrong way” you get to your destination faster. The “Correct way” takes some meandering to get to your destination faster. The destination is were we do not want to be.

    Not sure how that is helpful to the argument, though the cartoon could be right, in the end.

  62. …the divergence between the alleged 97% consensus of scientists, versus the only 50-60% of the U.S. public that are buying the argument that climate change is caused by humans.

    “That’s not what the American Meteorological Society learned from a recent survey of its professional members. Only a bare majority, 52 percent, said that climate change is largely being driven by human activity”

    https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2013/12/04/climate-alarmists-science-isn-settled-majority-vote/CZEk7XP10TfvpiiJ04zulK/story.html