What’s wrong with ‘alternative facts’?

by Kip Hansen

‘Alternative facts’ is a term in law to describe inconsistent sets of facts put forth in a court given that there is plausible evidence to support both alternatives. The term is also used to describe competing facts for the two sides of the case.Wikipedia

So . . . what exactly is a ‘fact’?  From the Wikipedia:

A fact is something that has occurred or is correct. 

Facts may be checked by reason, experiment, personal experience, or may be argued from authority.

In the most basic sense, a scientific fact is an objective and verifiable observation, in contrast with a hypothesis or theory, which is intended to explain or interpret facts.

With this context, it is not surprising that there are competing ‘facts’ of which their proponents are equally certain.   ‘Facts’ are being confused with hypotheses and theories, and too many ‘facts’ are being asserted by authority.

So . . . what’s wrong with ‘alternative facts?’

Nothing — absolutely nothing.   Quite the opposite, really. Alternative facts are what we use to learn new things about the world around us. Science is the subject of using alternative facts to come to a better understanding.   Discovering that there are alternative facts about something – even better, seemingly contradictory facts – is what points us to an area of study that promises the reward of new insights into the natural world.

Out in today’s world of U.S. Two-Party Politics – an Alice-in-Wonderland-esque landscape being repainted daily in the “news” and “social” media – a lot of ill-mannered, Queen-of-Hearts-style nonsense is being churned out by turning this perfectly good and useful idea – alternative facts – into a mockery of truth-finding — turning Truth into an one-word oxymoron.

Facts vs factoids

Much of what we know as facts, and much of what are presented to us as facts, are more correctly characterized as “factoids” – a word believed coined by Norman Mailer – which has two closely related meanings:

1) a piece of information that becomes accepted as a fact even though it is not actually true, or an invented fact believed to be true because it appears in print.

a piece of information that becomes accepted as a fact even though it is not actually or strictly true, or an invented fact either deliberately created or created by sloppy thinking, poor logic skills, lack of critical thinking or poor journalism believed to be true because it appears in print, in a journal article, in mainstream or social media, on a web site or has ‘gone viral’ on the Internet.

2) a brief or trivial item of news or information.

Factoids are often presented to us as numbers – which influence us to find them somehow truer or more believable – or are presented as impossibly simplistic assertions about complex topics. Factoids most often are used rhetorically [as in argument, debate, or propaganda] in opposition to other facts in a fact-vs-fiction construction, explicitly stated or implied – “Here are the facts!” – implying that all else is fiction, all other ‘facts’ are false.

Tied to the use of factoids is the principle of “Only One Fact”.   This is the rampantly popular idea that for each subject there exists only one fact (or set of related facts) and, from that, it follows that all other statements on the subject are falsehoods, lies, or errors. We hear this in common speech: “The fact is…” and we see on single issue websites “The Facts are…”. This “Only One Fact” version of reality is a serious cognitive malfunction – and a leads to serious critical thinking errors.

Climate science, and the never-ending debate about its implications, is particularly rife with Factoids and Alternative Factoids.   Each side, mostly from the extreme edges of the field, sling factoids at one another in endless streams of numbers, graphs, trend-lines, echo-chamber talking-points (prepared by their own side’s experts) – spiced with an truly incredible number and variety of personal opinions presented as if they were facts.

Once we weed out the truly daft opinions, the obvious non-physical misunderstandings and the delicious-and-nutty fruit-cakery served up from the far edges of climate alarm and hard-core “its all a big hoax” skepticism alike, we are still left with a huge number of seemingly true statements, facts, that seem to contradict each other, sometimes apparently in direct opposition.

Competing ‘facts’ about the Amazon

How’s that, you ask?  Let’s look at an example.  It has long been considered a fact, and still is by almost all environmental movements, that:

[T]he Amazon forests are pristine forests, never touched by humans….the rain forests of the Amazon were untouched by human hands before the arrival of European explorers in the 15th century.  [The Amazon is] an old-growth forest — primary forest, virgin forest, primeval forest  — is a forest that has attained great age without significant disturbance and thereby exhibits unique ecological features and might be classified as a climax community [a biological community of plants, animals, and fungi which, through the process of ecological succession the development of vegetation in an area over time, had reached a steady state].

Yet, reappearing again in the science press this week is the story of ancient earthworks deep in the Amazon forest:

Deep in the Amazon, the rain forest once covered ancient secrets. Spread across hundreds of thousands of acres are massive, geometric earthworks. The carvings stretch out in circles and squares that can be as big as a city block, with trenches up to 12 yards wide and 13 feet deep. They appear to have been built up to 2,000 years ago.” The study [ doi: 10.1073/pnas.1614359114 ] states “We reconstructed environmental evidence from the geoglyph region and found that earthworks were built within man-made forests that had been previously managed for millennia.

The existence of these earthworks, and their antiquity are facts – actualities, they really exist and strong, replicable evidence exists for the dates of creation.

The facts reported by Watling et al. (2017) in regards to the earthworks are not only alternative to our accepted facts [above] about the Amazon; they directly contradict long-standing, almost universally-accepted, facts.   It is because they are contradictory that we can begin to develop a new and better understanding of the ecology of the Amazon rainforests, their history, their evolution and the South American nations within whose boundaries these forests exist, can create national policies based on this better understanding.

By combining the two sets of seemingly contradictory facts– alternative facts, we can see that while the Amazonian forests are certainly old-growth forests, having existed in their current states for hundreds, up to thousands, of years, they are not “virgin forest, primeval forest” at all but have actually been created by long-term interactions with the human civilizations that lived within them.

This is not a trivial example of “new discoveries lead to better understanding”, though it could be viewed that way.  There has been a long constant stream of alternative facts to the background fact of a pristine, primeval Amazon. The investigation of a soil type named “Terra Preta” (Portuguese for “black soil”) began producing alternative facts in the 1960s and they have rolled out regularly since. Yet it was fact not long ago, despite these alternative facts, that the land of the Amazon was relatively useless for agriculture.

Now we see that there is very strong evidence that the Amazon is not being newly deforested but is apparently being re-cleared, re-claimed as arable land. It is land that in the past was cleared and used for agriculture, speculatively thought to be a sort of ancient perma-culture, and for the building of extensive towns and cities.

Example: climate science ‘alternative facts’

Consider the following statement:

“Earth’s average surface temperature has risen by about 0.8° Celsius since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.”

Well, we have a fact – “Earth’s average surface temperature has risen”; a number  related to the magnitude of the temperature increase (which must be considered subject to some degree of factual uncertainty);  and a time period.   The statement can be considered, factual (subject to some caveats) or true. However, the statement implies causation — that the warming was caused by the Industrial Revolution–which makes it a factoid because the cause of the warming is a hypothesis.

Consider the following alternative statement:

“Earth’s average surface temperature has risen for the last several hundred years, since the depths of the Little Ice Age*, and by about 0.8° since the mid-19th century, which is the beginning of the instrumental temperature record.”

[* = “three particularly cold intervals: one beginning about 1650, another about 1770, and the last in 1850, all separated by intervals of slight warming.”]

This statement is equally true but again implies causation – “since the depths of the LIA”.

It is possible to construct a clear Fact about changes in global mean surface temperature changes and the associated uncertainties.  However the IPCC’s mandate to focus on man-made climate change resulted in a conclusion dictated by their mandate that is arguably a factoid.

Conclusion

Not all alternative facts lead to a better understanding. Some just stand in opposition to one another until such time as new and better facts or evidence emerge from the confusion to help clarify the situation. Those new facts or evidence will be, at first, Alternative Facts – they should not necessarily be expected to match either of the preferred climate science factoids above.

As these new alternative facts emerge, they should be embraced and seriously considered by all sides and positions in the climate debate.   Those new, alternative facts –those few that survive the fire of massive open public review– will lead to better understandings of the physical actualities of Earth’s climate which in turn will allow policy makers to make better climate policy.

Moderation note:  As with all guest posts, please keep your comments civil and relevant.

322 responses to “What’s wrong with ‘alternative facts’?

  1. Global warming is real; alternatively, AGW is a hoax and a scare tactic.

    • David Springer

      What’s wrong with ‘alternative facts’ is alternative definitions of the term itself!

      Maybe an ristvan ebook opportunity here. Tentative title “Lies, Damned Lies, and Alternate Facts”

  2. Very nice essay. The idea of factoids is particularly useful in deconstructing much of the climate debate. Arctic ice factoids. Polar bear factoids. Climate model factoids.

  3. Pingback: What’s wrong with ‘alternative facts’? – Enjeux énergies et environnement

  4. The largest “alternate fact” in the debate about AGW is that it will result in a worst overall climate for the planet overall. Warming does not necessarily mean a worsening climate and the reliable evidence to support the claims that it will is extremely weak to any unbiased researcher.

    • … and therefore extremely damaging GHG-emissions reductions policies were extremely bad policy, reducing our capacity to deal with whatever arises in the future, some of which will surely surprise us. I have long argued – since perhaps 2000 – that the best approach was to pursue policies which expanded our capacity to deal with whatever emerged in the future, which included promoting an innovative, entrepreneurial, lightly-regulated, self-reliant culture which would allow flexible responses as well as increasing our overall capacity. Australia, where I live, has been going in the opposite direction, and not only on policy towards alleged CAGW.

  5. Very interesting read ! Thanks a bunch ! :)

  6. Science is the business of discovering alternative facts.

    • gymnosperm ==> Yes, precisely — and don’t let’s forget it!

    • Geoff Sherrington

      Hard scientists tend to be reluctant to label a finding as a “fact”, mainly because that label implies that there is now nothing more to be learned about it. Thus links to the questionable “science is settled” meme.
      If use of “fact” as terminology is discouraged, then derivatives such as “alternative facts” should be as well.
      It is bad of scientists to give the public the impression that scientific findings are now settled for any topics, let alone many or most of them.
      Science advances through continuing examination of topics, not by closing them off.
      It follows that essays discussing variations of descriptions of “fact” and derivatives are not helpful, to the extent that they might spread the “settled science” deception.
      Geoff.

      • Back when I was reading papers in grad school I noticed that most scientists were reluctant to state any hard conclusions. More of the nature of suggesting possible meanings for their research results.

        Which, as I’ve stated before, was a prime reason I was drawn into the climate change issue. So much certainty.

  7. Yes! Nothing wrong with alternative facts. Nothing to see here. Just keep moving along.

    and

    • That Trump wrongly presents causation in 2012 is not evidence of his failures. It is evidence of the scientific community failures. I met Wakefield at a seminar. He was very convincing. To most. I was not convinced because I didn’t have autism and I was inoculated up the wazoo! But nonetheless, spirited charismatic researchers can steer public opinion better than politicians can and be just as wrong.

      http://www.medicaldaily.com/history-autism-and-vaccines-how-one-man-unraveled-worlds-faith-vaccinations-294474

      • 41% in a WebMD survey are concerned – and the causes are still unclear about what appears to be a public health emergency.

        http://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/searching-for-answers/autism-rise?page=6

        Thimerosal has been removed from vaccines – but there are other valid concerns.

        http://omsj.org/reports/tomljenovic%202011.pdf

        Trivialising this – obsessively – for a in-group political meme seems a Joshua speciality.

      • Wrote about this in The Arts of Truth as a major example. Two further aspects beyond Wakefield himself.
        1. Behind Wakefield’s bogus study was a lawyer and a set of UK parents hoping for a breast implants like bonanza. Wakefield took about £700k from the lawyer to gin up evidence of a link. Of the 13 patients in Wakefields ‘study’ 7 had parents party to the lawsuit. Utterly corrupt. Wakefield himself hoped to make over £30 million/years selling gatrointestinal autism diagnosis kits.
        2. Because autism isn’t noticable until a child is sufficiently self aware and world engaged (aka terrible twos), and because MMR is usually given at about 18 months, there will always be a strong correlation between MMR and autism diagnosis. That is why the myth doesn’t die. The Jenny McCarthy problem.

      • Note, also, that it wasn’t Trump’s failures that led him to yell we should STOP THE FLIGHTS! to protect us against Ebola: It was the “the science community failures” that were responsible.

      • Rud, recent research on babies and very young children whose older siblings has some degree of autism has found that pre-cursorsy can be identified from about six months. As autism generally manifests after age two, the researchers believe that there are steps which can be taken to reduce the impact of later autism. I don’t have the source to hand, I think it was the BBC Science page in the last two weeks.

    • It is really quite fatuous to use a discredited study – and I have not the slightest clue about Wakefield – an entire line of investigation into autism environmental triggers. As I said earlier mercury – an acknowledged trigger – has been removed from vaccines. Aluminium – an alternative preservative is suspect – in the link I provided above.

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21623535

      Medical studies are notoriously unreliable and cherry picking is manifestly unsafe. Sound familiar?

      • I agree with you Robert. There are a lot of unanswered questions regarding the autism issue. Something is causing the dramatic increase in cases, and it almost has to be something environmental. I have followed this non-debate for 20 years, and there remain many more questions than answers. When we were young (I am 74) there were only a few vaccines. I believe that kids now get about 40 vaccines before they start school. That means that developing immune systems are activated/shocked (?) about 6-8 times each year during the first five years of life. Most vaccines probably are “safe”, but some, at least in some individuals may be incompatible either singly or in combinations. I believe Canadian kids get 24 vaccines before school. Vaccines are huge money-makers for pharma. Red flag!! To dismiss remaining questions is to buy into “settled science”. I don’t – and neither do my three autistic grandchildren.

      • Yes – there are unknown triggers in a public health emergency. Nothing is off the table.

      • I believe it to be genetic, much like Down’s Syndrome. Except the genetic marker is much more complex than with Down’s. I also believe the uptick is all in better identification. Within my 20+ special education career identification has progressed from educated, kinda, guesses to normed surveys. Yet even now I encounter kids who have been misdiagnosed under another disabling condition. Unfortunately Dr. Wakefield put us back a few years because he had convinced himself that he was correct and thus went in search of his preconceived bias. The parallels with climate science are freakishly similar.

      • My reading – and I am far from expert – is that there may be a genetic predisposition to be sensitive to environmental triggers. And that increased awareness of the condition is not sufficient to explain the increased numbers involved.

      • Regardless of increasing awareness – it is clear that ASD is not a rare disorder.

        I am not sure that it isn’t over-diagnosed. The 6 year old son of a friend of mine had a line of dry observational humour when his peers were telling elephant jokes. Not being understood is not necessarily ASD.

      • David Springer

        I have a friend and past mentor with a double doctorate (UI-Chicago, PhD Philosophy of Science, PhD Statistics), minor in Psychology, masters in Divinity from Princeton. His wife is brilliant as well. They have an severely autistic son. Last I knew (2009) he was very suspicious that vaccines were connected. My wife manages a pediatric eye surgeon’s practice going on 25 years, sees a lot of kids from age 0 – 3, and their medical records. She has a deep suspicion of vaccinations too.

        I suspect a plethora of environmental triggers and that genetics influences susceptibility to various triggers. I suspect two very high IQ parents substantially increases risk. I also suspect it escaped diagnoses more frequently in the past and that also has something to with it being sometimes considered epidemic.

        A target rich environment for alternative facts.

        “Alternative fact” is a legal term and Kellyanne Conway is an attorney with her JD from GWU. Her use of the term was obviously in the legal context.

        The fake news media redefined the term and thereby created a straw man. Then they popularized the straw man definition. In point of fact the MSM created an alternative fact (non-legal definition of the term “alternative fact”) in the very process of denigrating Conway. Boo hiss. No wonder trust in MSM is at an all time record low according to Gallup.

      • > “Alternative fact” is a legal term and Kellyanne Conway is an attorney with her JD from GWU. Her use of the term was obviously in the legal context.

        So much the worse for Kellyane:

        A group of law professors from around the country has filed a professional misconduct complaint against White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway, a graduate of George Washington University Law School who was admitted to the D.C. Bar in 1995.

        The letter, filed with the office that handles misconduct by members of the D.C. Bar, said Conway should be sanctioned for violating government ethics rules and “conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation,” the letter says.

        The 15 professors, who specialise in legal ethics, cite several incidents, including a television interview in which Conway made the “false statement that President Barack Obama had ‘banned’ Iraqi refugees from coming into the United States for six months following the ‘Bowling Green Massacre,’ ” and the use of her position to endorse Ivanka Trump products.

        http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/kellyanne-conway-law-professors-file-misconduct-complaint-ivanka-trump-conflict-of-interest-donald-a7596786.html

        Citation needed for “alternative fact” as a legal term.

        ***

        That Bill Dembski has vaxxer concerns may be part of a Divine Design.

      • “Alternative facts is a term in law to describe inconsistent sets of facts put forth by the same party in a court given that there is plausible evidence to support both alternatives.[1][2] The term is also used to describe competing facts for the two sides of the case.”

      • Alternative facts citation for the weak of Google.

        Section V item 11, Pleading alternative facts against alternative parties

        http://www.courts.state.va.us/courts/circuit/resources/manuals/cc_manual_civil/chapter_01.pdf

      • Here, Ragnaar:

        In some civil procedures that allow pleading alternative facts, a party may plead inconsistent defenses or inconsistent claims when the party is uncertain about the true facts of the case at the time of pleading. However, the alternative facts cannot be completely opposite.

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_facts_(law)

        Alternative pleading does not apply to Kellyane’s usage of the term to defend teh Sean’s crap. In law, *one* party argues alternative facts, not two. It also contains hypothetical statements, like racehorsing or counterfactual thinking.

      • Capt’nDallas

        In your citation I began reading with Section I which included:

        “The basic law of Virginia is the Common Law of England, which continues in full force and effect until altered by the General Assembly. (Va. Code § 1-200).”

        Several thoughts:

        Our nation’s bonds extend across the pond as well as all the other Commonwealth nations as well as our largest trading partners: our Northern neighbor, Canada.

        No wonder our nation has such an affinity for these like-minded peoples since each county’s foundations of “rule of law” is based upon the same codes of law albeit modified over the centuries.

        The above suggested to me that another sentient foundation for Common Law has been the Scottish Enlightenment:

        “Scottish Enlightenment asserted the fundamental importance of human reason combined with a rejection of any authority that could not be justified by reason. They held to an optimistic belief in the ability of humanity to effect changes for the better in society and nature, guided only by reason. ” ( Wiki) As discussed in The Poker Club, schools, and older academic institutions.

        This brings me to: alternative facts being used as a catch-phrase by media people/political types in a derogatory refrain to denigrate someone with whom one disagrees. Their perspective as evident, that there is only one fact: true or false. People who advance such arguments are the ignorant ones of our history.

        I wonder out loud now, is some our lack of understanding of peoples and nations who do not have such a foundation of rule of law based upon English Common Law is what keeps us separate and in disagreement?

        English Common Law not being equivalent to Sharia Law for instance.

        Hard to agree upon what is a fact or that there can be more than one fact on an issue when reason is trumped by dogma.

        The messages of what constitutes a fact as to being true or false seem to decline to a shouting match; certainly not a milieu of reason.

        Thanks for the link

      • Hard to agree upon what is a fact or that there can be more than one fact on an issue when reason is trumped by dogma.

        It’s a bit disingenuous when the difference between how English Common Law is employed vs Sharia Law, we only kill you if you committed murder, as opposed to Sharia which doesn’t, for instance.

      • David Springer

        From top paragraph of Wikipedia alternative facts (law):

        “The term is also used to describe competing facts for the two sides of the case.”

        I’m not sure which part of that Willard doesn’t understand.

      • I’m pretty sure Willard understands well enough. He is simply employing alternative reasoning.

        As in why engage in reasonable discussion when you can play the troll.

      • I’m not sure which part of Alternative pleading does not apply to Kellyane’s usage of the term to defend teh Sean’s crap Big Dave doesn’t get, so let’s clarify how two-party competing facts work in legal cases. Kip should take note, as it defeats the point of his post. Here goes:

        The plaintiff submits alleged facts. The defendant may contradict those facts by submitting alternative facts through affidavit, documentary evidence, or the plaintiff’s own responses to discovery. If the plaintiff cannot rebut those alternative facts, the court may take them as true for the purpose of this stage and the competing sets of facts will be used in a trial. If there are no alternative facts submitted by the defendant, the case will be decided at the motion for summary judgment stage.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_facts_(law)#Two-party_competing_facts

        First, note that we allege facts by issuing statements that refer to facts.

        Second, note that we commit facts in discovery.

        These facts need to compete with one another, otherwise we immediately go to judgement.

        Spicer did not commit any fact. He just said stuff.

        ***

        As far as the legal notions are concerned, there’s no real trial happenin’ if there are no alternative facts to check. That means the notion of fact in that context simply refers to something for which there is some evidence basis. It is not the judge’s (or the jury) job to directly dismiss this evidence basis for the competing claims. The judgment comes after the evidence is being weighted against the burden of proof. A similar model of argumentation has already been offered:

        The Toulmin method is an informal method of reasoning. Created by the British philosopher Stephen Toulmin it involves the grounds(data), claim, and warrant of an argument. These three parts of the argument are all necessary to support a good argument. The grounds are the evidence used to prove something. The claim is what you are proving with the grounds. The warrant is the assumption or principle that connects the grounds to the claim. All three parts are critical to achieving rhetorical analysis

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

        So there’s nothing new here. Neither is confusing factual claims and the facts themselves. Facts remain facts until they change. Same as theories, and “in fact” there’s no such thing as a theory-less fact. A fact is simply a theory about a state of affair that is assumed to be given to us, or “ready-made” if we return to where the word comes from, factum and facere.

        ***

        Years of comments can save Denizens an hour reading a basic introduction to contemporary philosophy.

    • What is your point Joshua?

      In response to an article about factoids you quote the US president giving factoids. How enlightning! So that is what a factoid looks like. Thanks!

    • We all know which political party and which actors have been on this bandwagon for years. That a fool like Trump jumps on it too is not surprising. Autism rates appear to be up. This could be just due to a bigger emphasis and increased awareness and diagnosis, or to the delayed childbirth in developed countries, among other things.

      • bill –

        =={ This could be just due to a bigger emphasis and increased awareness and diagnosis,.. }==

        A.long with a significant change in the diagnostic criteria:

        SILBERMAN: In the 1970s, a cognitive psychologist in London named Lorna Wing, who had an autistic daughter and was very aware of the challenges that were faced by families with autistic children in search of services – she and a research assistant did a survey in a London suburb called Camberwell to look for autistic children in the community.

        And what they found was that there were many, many more of them than Kanner’s narrow model of autism would have predicted. So they said, you know, what’s going on? I wonder why Kanner drew his model so narrowly. And they figured out what was going on when Lorna stumbled across a reference to Asperger’s paper, which had still not been translated into English because Kanner had never mentioned it. And her – Lorna’s husband, John, translated it for her, and she immediately saw that what Asperger had seen in Vienna was what she was seeing in London in the 1970s.

        And so Lorna quietly worked with the people who were designing the next edition of the DSM to broaden the scope of the diagnosis. And so in a sense, she swapped out Kanner’s criteria for Asperger’s criteria. And almost immediately, as not only she predicted but she hoped, the number of diagnoses started soaring because what she wanted was for families to have access to the services that a diagnosis would produce. So that was basically how the so-called autism epidemic began – when Kanner’s criteria were swapped out of the DSM for Asperger’s criteria.

        GROSS: So when you say epidemic, you’re putting quotation marks around it ’cause you don’t think that there was suddenly an epidemic. It’s rather that the…

        SILBERMAN: Big quotation marks.

        GROSS: …Definition was broadened. Therefore, more people were diagnosed with having autism.

        SILBERMAN: Exactly.

        GROSS: So you mentioned the DSM – that’s the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual that the psychiatric profession uses to officially list the diagnoses and what their symptoms are.

        SILBERMAN: So to Lorna, the increase in diagnoses was excellent news because it meant that more families were getting the services they needed. But…

        GROSS: Right, more people were qualified for those services.

        SILBERMAN: Right. But because no one really explained to parents exactly what had happened – that the diagnosis had been completely rewritten – that, you know, autism by the end of the 1980s and the early 1990s was not your grandfather’s autism, you could say. It was much more broadly defined because no one ever explained to the lay public what had happened with the diagnosis. When the numbers started going up, parents very understandably became very alarmed. And the media was sort of blindsided by the sudden spike in diagnoses. And, you know, no one thought to interview Lorna Wing about, you know, the diagnostic criteria because at that point, autism was still considered very rare. But we would soon discover that in fact, it was very common, as Asperger knew.

        GROSS: So we’ve been talking about how at some point, people perceive that there’s an autism epidemic. Part of that is a result of having the definition of autism broadened. So suddenly, more people were being diagnosed as autistic. Were there other things happening that made people think that there was this new autism epidemic and that we need to find out what was causing it?

        SILBERMAN: Absolutely. There was an incredible convergence of events towards the end of the 1980s that produced a vast increase in autism awareness. One of them is that in 1988, most people in the world who had never seen an autistic adult saw one for the first time. And that person was Dustin Hoffman’s character of Raymond Babbitt in the Academy Award-winning film “Rain Man.” It was an incredible success. And for parents of autistic children, it meant the end of having to explain to their neighbors, no, no, no our child is not artistic, they’re autistic.

        No one – virtually no one outside of the community of families and clinicians had heard of autism before “Rain Man.” And “Rain Man” introduced this incredibly beguiling, eccentric, you know, instantly recognizable character. Everybody loved Raymond Babbitt. And I had mothers tell me that when they were out in public with their kids, if their kids would, you know, start having a difficult moment, that they would often get sour looks from other parents. But literally within days of “Rain Man’s” release, other parents would inquire, oh, is your child autistic like “Rain Man?” So “Rain Man” created this wave of cultural awareness of autism more than any of the autism organizations had been able to accomplish in – you know, in decades before that.

        GROSS: So what were the consequences of the perception that there was an autism epidemic and that suddenly, more people had the characteristics of autism, as opposed to suddenly, more people were being diagnosed with what they already had?

        SILBERMAN: Well, right at the moment that the true dimensions of what you might call the autistic community were becoming apparent – because the diagnostic criteria had finally been broadened enough to allow these people to become diagnosed – right at that moment, a guy in England named Andrew Wakefield, who was a gastroenterologist, released an instantly controversial paper blaming a certain form of autism that he claimed was novel on the MMR vaccine. And the – you know, as you might imagine, both the British tabloid press and the American press went wild – you know, child made autistic by jab, et cetera. And so there was a kind of worldwide panic about vaccines.

        Now, here’s the thing. I completely understand why parents would believe that their child had been rendered autistic by a vaccine for several reasons. One is that autism often doesn’t become obvious to both clinicians and parents and teachers and everybody until a child is 2 or 3, which is exactly the age when many children are receiving their vaccinations. Also, the internet was a new thing at the time. And so the word that there was a theory that vaccines cause autism was spreading rapidly through the same communities in which autism parents were finally able to talk to each other online.

        So, you know, it’s – while people tend to stereotype what are now called anti-vaccers (ph) as these kind of, you know, low information people, et cetera, in fact, the people who believed that were often highly informed and read papers obsessively. But the problem is that nobody had explained to them what had happened with the diagnosis. And Wakefield’s paper, which has since been retracted by the Lancet and called a deliberate fraud by the editors of the British Medical Journal – you know, he – instead of saying oh, I’m sorry, you know, I was wrong, he ended up portraying himself as a martyr to this conspiracy between big pharma, the media and corrupt public health officials.

        GROSS: When in fact, according to what you report, Wakefield actually had a financial stake in lawyers who were planning to sue the pharmaceutical companies that produced vaccines, vaccines that would have been discredited had his paper been upheld.

        SILBERMAN: That’s true. And I have to say, people think that the notion that big pharma could engage in a conspiracy on a global scale to cover up, you know, a wave of vaccine injury – is that plausible? Absolutely. Look at what the pharmaceutical industry did with Vioxx, where, you know, hundreds or even thousands of people died before this drug was taken off the market. So it was a very believable story. The only problem was it wasn’t true.

  8. Interesting, how you were selective in choosing which wikipedia definition to use there, Kip:

    –snip–
    “Alternative facts” is a phrase used by U.S. Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway during a Meet the Press interview on January 22, 2017, in which she defended White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s false statement about the attendance at Donald Trump’s inauguration as President of the United States. When pressed during the interview with Chuck Todd to explain why Spicer “utter[ed] a provable falsehood”, Conway stated that Spicer was giving “alternative facts.” Todd responded, “Look, alternative facts are not facts. They’re falsehoods.”
    –snip–

    So . . . what’s wrong with ‘alternative facts?’

    Nothing — absolutely nothing.

    hmmm.

    • Joshua ==> Neither this essay or this blog are about American two-party politics — mbut as the term “Alternative Facts” has slipped from law into political squabbling, I covered your concern with this paragraph:

      “Out in today’s world of U.S. Two-Party Politics – an Alice-in-Wonderland-esque landscape being repainted daily in the “news” and “social” media – a lot of ill-mannered, Queen-of-Hearts-style nonsense is being churned out by turning this perfectly good and useful idea – alternative facts – into a mockery of truth-finding — turning Truth into an one-word oxymoron.”

    • On the other hand – post truth is the new truth.

      • Those photos are consistent with each other. One is just zoomed in a lot more. Also there were a lot more people on the Mall the next day with the pussyhat protest.

      • I know all about your post-truth Jim. If you have post truth facts on views – by all means provide them.

      • The time the two shots were taken matters greatly. Because of protestors and security, many got onto the mall late. The lower photo could easily have been well before the second. The whole affair shows how progressives are going to pick every nit.

      • RIE, do you agree that your upper picture doesn’t go far enough back to see the larger gaps, and therefore doesn’t prove anything.

      • These crowd size estimate things are pretty funny. Binyamin Applebaum with the NYT started the scuffle with a tweet showing the crowd at 11:00 plus he added a guess of less than 200,000 that got the ball rolling. The National Park Service doesn’t estimate crowd size anymore because they got sued by the organizers of the million man march, so the NPS should not have retweeted any estimate. Whether they aren’t Trump fans are not, their policy is pretty clear due to the previous lawsuit.

        They estimated this crowd at 400,000 but other “experts” put it at 800,000 and the organizers of course claimed 1,000,000. Nothing like a good tempest in a teapot.

      • Robert this is the picture you want, It’s full to the far end in this CNN GigaPixel Image, and you can zoom the whole way.
        http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2017/01/politics/trump-inauguration-gigapixel/

      • Anyone standing at the end with the gigapixel camera would be telling a fact, if they said the mall was full.

      • Micro

        Interesting picture which I have not seen before. The mall is packed at the front and sides and close to the tv screens. There is space well behind the screens where presumably no one can see the screens properly.

        I saw figures for metro rides which said numbers were down over Obama. I understand Washington voted over 90percent for Hillary so presumably a limited proportion turned up on the mall. His supporters would I imagine come from well out of town by car and may have not used the metro. Were there park and ride schemes in the suburbs with shuttle buses to the mall? Also it was a working day and supporters would presumably have had to take a full day off work and possibly lose pay?.

        I can not comment expertly on numbers other than comparing it to crowds along the mall/Buckingham palace for such things as royal events, there are self evidently many more than 200,000 people present. A million? Seems unlikely

        Tonyb

  9. Reblogged this on Quaerere Propter Vērum and commented:
    A wise article, and very necessary in 2017.

  10. Kip

    Interesting item,

    There are possibly two sub strands here. The first being ‘alternative facts’ and the second being ‘another point of view’. It is very likely that another point of view will use alternative facts or may simply want to reinterpret the original fact.

    In The UK Sunday times today was an interesting snippet which relates to Brexit. Nigel Farage resigned as head of UKIP (last seen dining with Trump last night) and the new head is Paul Nuttall.

    During the week Paul Nuttall stood as a UKIP candidate in a by election for just about the most UKIP friendly seat in the country, who voted overwhelmingly for Brexit last year. He didn’t win. In fact he threw it away by his alternative facts loudly proclaimed on his web site- which included that;

    He had a Phd-he didn’t
    He had played professional football-he hadn’t
    He had lost close friends in the Hillsborough football disaster, he hadn’t, amongst other whoppers

    For reasons best known to himself in this working class urban seat he also decided to wear tweed jacket, trousers and hat-an ensemble you only see on the grouse moors. He lost.

    Now surely he must have realised he would come under scrutiny for his ‘alternative facts’?

    In addition, the Tory govt under Theresa May our Prime Minister, has stolen the UKIP clothes, rendering UKIP virtually pointless and are proceeding to the EU exit as promised, although many undemocratic has beens and never weres from the elite, with vested interests and faces firmly in the EU trough, are trying to trip her up

    So the moral of this tale is, when presenting alternative facts make sure they are real-or you will be found out, make sure you aren’t side-lined, and be credible. And whatever you do, if you are a man, don’t wear a tweed outfit when pontificating about them

    tonyb

    • climatereason ==> He’s a politician — thus, reality is presented as he wishes it were — not how it was, is, or will be. In other words, his “facts” were simply false, not alternatives, but not facts at all.

      One must not confuse Alternative Facts with simply misrepresentation or falsehoods. Alternative Facts must be factual (or at least factoids) — real — nominally true — in order to be Alternative Facts and must be alternates to something else that can be considered the truth to which it is an alternative.

      • Kip

        Your challenge is to convince Jimd that your alternative facts are correct.he will simply see them as misrepresentations or falsehoods he will see them as being as blatantly untrue as the facts Paul nuttall put on his web site.

        One persons alternative facts are another’s complete nonsense.

        Tonyb

      • climatereason ==> Radically polarized political mindsets are almost impossible (virtually impossible) to reason with or influence. It is a suckers game to make the attempt. “Alternative Facts” is a trigger word is today’s US politics and was certain to prompt a knee-jerk response from the political edgers.

      • “One must not confuse Alternative Facts with simply misrepresentation or falsehoods.”

        Isn’t this a lot easier if we replace “alternative facts” with “rival hypotheses”.

      • Tom Forrester-Paton ==> “Rival hypotheses” is a perfectly fine concept, but is not the same as Alternative Facts — hypotheses are proposed facts awaiting confirmation. Facts are things that are already true (enough) — and their alternatives, as there are almost always more than one fact about a topic or thing.

        Kindergarten example: Larry is bigger than Sam. Sam is bigger than Larry. Both true — Larry is 5’8″ tall weighing 110 lbs. Sam is 5’6” tall and weighs 165 lbs. Larry makes a better choice for Basketball as he is bigger. Sam makes a better choice for Football as he is bigger.

      • Kip, a bit sweeping. I’ve met and worked with politicians who were genuinely concerned with good policy in the broad public interest, although they seem to be rarer now than they were. For example, at the first meeting of the Ministerial Taskforce on Longer Term Economic Growth in 1985, which included five senior Hawke Government (Labor) Cabinet members, the Chair, Industry Minister Senator John Button, told the assembled economists etc (mainly economists) to forget ALP policy, to forget ACTU policy, what the government wanted to know was how best to proceed for the Australian community as a whole. And by and large, that is how the Hawke Government operated (1983-1991), to the lasting benefit of the country; as, largely, did the Howard Coalition government 1996-2007. It’s only since 2007 and the ascension of the abominable Rudd (a former boss of mine) that that approach has fallen apart.

      • Faustino aka Genghis Cunn ==> I guess you are referring to ” He’s a politician — thus, reality is presented as he wishes it were — not how it was, is, or will be.” as “sweeping”? Well, probably so, but politicians are prone to spinning stories and then believing them after years of repetition.

        I apologize to all politicians who are champions of truth in all things at all times. But not to the vast majority who have been poisoned by the dual temptations of power and greed.

      • Will Janoschka

        by Kip Hansen
        “‘Alternative facts’ is a term in law to describe inconsistent sets of facts put forth in a court given that there is plausible evidence to support both alternatives. The term is also used to describe competing facts for the two sides of the case. – Wikipedia”

        Indeed! But in court they still have to be ‘fact’. Not so in the “Theatrical Sciences”; social,political, science; psychology, econometrics!

        “So . . . what exactly is a ‘fact’? From the Wikipedia:
        A fact is something that has occurred or is correct.”

        Has occurred, or can be demonstrated as correct is key!

        “Facts may be checked by reason, experiment, personal experience, or may be argued from authority.”

        Only in the case of law or the ‘Theatrical Sciences’!

        “In the most basic sense, a scientific fact is an objective and verifiable observation, in contrast with a hypothesis or theory, which is intended to explain or interpret facts.”

        Correct a scientific ‘fact’ must always be physically demonstrable\verifiable! Conjecture or fantasy need not be!

        “With this context, it is not surprising that there are competing ‘facts’ of which their proponents are equally certain. ‘Facts’ are being confused with hypotheses and theories, and too many ‘facts’ are being asserted by authority.”

        According to what authority\whom? In law, the judge! In Theater, the self appointed! In science, only repeatable demonstration.

        ” What’s wrong with ‘alternative facts?’, Nothing — absolutely nothing.Quite the opposite, really. Alternative facts are what we use to learn new things about the world around us. ”

        Deliberate falsehood!! Never ever in science! Facts are agreed upon prior to the repeatable demonstration of what is to be a ‘fact’. You write not of fact, but of speculation, conjecture, fantasy. Even ‘hypotheses’ need be physically witnessed! All of these can be useful in learning of science but cannot be confused with scientific fact! Conjecture\different POV is what we use to learn new things about the world around us.

    • =={ One must not confuse Alternative Facts with simply misrepresentation or falsehoods. }==

      The reason why the notion of “alternative facts” has gotten so much attention lately is because of the explicit adoption of the following…as an electoral strategy:

      A supporter and surrogate to President-elect Donald Trump appearing on “The Diane Rehm Show” Thursday said that there was no longer such a thing as facts.

      “There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore as facts,” said CNN commentator Scottie Nell Hughes.

      http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/308438-trump-surrogate-theres-no-such-thing-as-facts

      Of course, it is arguable as to whether the underlying approach is new, or simply the fact that it has been made explicit is new.

      But that argument notwithstanding, it seems disingenuous to discuss the concept of “alternative facts” while ignoring the “alternative facti-ness” of the new administration.

  11. Thanks, Kip. In a war of competing factoids and rhetoric, which due to genuine uncertainty cannot be relatively grounded back to reality, the emergent narrative will be that which has the highest selection value, not the highest veracity. And in the iterative selection process, the strongest emotive punch provides the highest selection value. Even Lewandowsky knows this:

    “But we have also noted that the likelihood that people will pass on information is based strongly on the likelihood of its eliciting an emotional response in the recipient, rather than its truth value (e.g., K. Peters et al., 2009)…” [Misinformation and Its Correction: Continued Influence and Successful Debiasing; Lewandowsky et al 2012].

    This is how the certainty of imminent (decades) climate calamity rose to the top. So the difficult thing about embracing and properly considering all said factoids, is how to do this without prompting the emotional responses that immediately occur when people’s cultural values are either challenged or promoted, which leads to endemic domain polarization and the emergence of cultural consensus based upon the winning narrative.

    • Andy ==> Thanks for the social science (social psychology?) viewpoint.

      How to best present the alternative facts is an important issue. the Climate Alarm community has done a terrible job of presentation of Alternative Facts to counter Climate Skepticism — causing their viewpoint to lose (or at least fail to gain) the public confidence.

      • >>’causing their viewpoint to lose (or at least fail to gain) the public confidence.’

        Indeed. And the orthodox side seems to constantly struggle with why their message has failed to break down public skepticism, after being pushed by many world leaders and governments for years. This puzzlement is what spawns the Merchants of Doubt meme as a substitute explanation.

      • AW, thanks for that. Had not thought about MoD that way before. Clicked.

    • =={ So the difficult thing about embracing and properly considering all said factoids, is how to do this without prompting the emotional responses that immediately occur when people’s cultural values are either challenged or promoted, which leads to endemic domain polarization and the emergence of cultural consensus based upon the winning narrative. }==

      Donald Trump is the sole reliable source of truth, says chair of House Science Committee.

      http://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/1/27/14395978/donald-trump-lamar-smith

      NOAA Scientists Falsely Accused of Manipulating Climate Change Data.

      http://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/1/27/14395978/donald-trump-lamar-smith

      • Joshua ==> Please, your (or anyone’s) political views are just off-topic here. There are plenty of sites where two-party politics is the topic, but this is not one of them.

      • Your choice of source for those two alt facts rather nicely demonstrates the point of the post comment about two party politics. Neither VOX statement is factual. And Bates was not the only whistleblower on Karl; Smith based his request then subpoena on multiple whistleblowers.

      • > Neither VOX statement is factual.

        From an alternative source:

        Better to get your news directly from the President. In fact, it might be the only way to get the unvarnished truth.

        http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/lamar-smith-trump-liberal-media

        What’s your alternative fact to counter Vox’, Sir?

  12. What is the term for a sensational fact given out of context? For example, “there has been record ice growth/ loss in the Arctic/ Antarctic so far this year”
    I though that was a factoid, but the definition doesn’t include it.
    My view is that a lot of the alt-facts highlighted by “fact checkers” are really just differences of opinion.

    • chrism56 ==> It could simply be “2) a brief or trivial item of news or information.” Often, these types of factoids are used to convince (as in propaganda) — their trick to to be so brief that they misrepresent the truth through lack of context, explanation, being so narrow in viewpoint, etc.

      It is, basically, a propaganda technique — “headlining” is the term I’ve always used — turning a complex situation into a short headline that is punchy and that people will remember — true or not.

      In journalism, headlines are left to the publications editors — not the journalist himself. I have encountered this even with blogs, on which I submit guest posts, the owner/editor sometimes changes my titles. The headline can sometimes change the entire slant of a story without changing a word in the story text.

  13. Are ‘facts’ really facts? I think we’ve come to learn that the unbiased search for knowledge for its own sake is an idea that no longer has currency in the halls of Western academia and that all we have now is ‘virtual truth.’ The only real fact, albeit a truth many refuse to accept, is that an army of conformists will never succeed in creating change for the better, any more than an army of N*zis wearing jackboots created change for the better.

  14. Climate science is just following Mark Twain’s advice: First get your facts correctly, and then you can change them to suit your purpose.

  15. Trump campaigned on alternative facts with a high percentage of whoppers identified by fact-checkers, and continues this way with alternative facts about the election, unemployment, the crime rate, terrorism, immigration rates, etc. Most people can see his alternative facts for what they are, but his base believes everything he says, so they are actual facts to them. It is how propaganda operates.

    • Obama really believes, “our country is stronger and more prosperous than when… [he] started.” That belief and 50 cents will not even buy you a cup of coffee these days…

      • Do you even remember the state of the country in 2008? You have just presented an alternative fact in its true sense, which is “not a fact”.

      • Ronald Reagan inherited a worse economy than Obama and George Bush inherited a recession from Clinton when he took office in 2001. If you remember, back then the Democrat party maligned every employer of every new worker by labeling every rise of employment under Bush as more “hamburger flipper jobs.”

        When I took office, our economy was beginning a recession. Then our economy was hit by terrorists. Then our economy was hit by corporate scandals. ~George Bush

        “W” inherited all of Clinton’s corporate scandals; all of the chickens came home to roost in 2002–e.g., Enron, Tyco International, Adelphia, Peregrine Systems, WorldCom, Arthur Anderson, Global Crossing… and then, the Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002 simply shot in the head all of the horses in the country that were pulling the load. And, we’re not supposed to remember that the Democrat party blasted Bush for telling Americans to go shopping when Bush was actually pleading with Americans fight against the fear tactics of Osama bin Laden and to carry on life as usual and not let the terrorists win in the aftermath of 9/11…

      • 2008 was the worst situation in decades. It was a major challenge getting employment back to normal, reducing the deficit, and getting the economy back to growth. In all these metrics, the US was doing OK by 2016. That is before talking about getting out of two wars that were killing nearly 1000 Americans per year, and not having either a major terrorist attack or scandal, providing 20 million more people with healthcare that finally became affordable to them, and making inroads into emissions, even as Republicans were resisting everything.

      • Curious George

        Jim D, thank you for a stellar example of alternative facts.

      • True, true, Obama’s speech at the DNC convention is called Obama’s Baghdad Bob speech.

        No swing voter in this country believes we are living in a [more] stable, peaceful, and prosperous era – Daniel Horowitz

    • Furthermore. HuffPo has just compiled the first 100 lies. If he is stating any actual, as opposed to alternative, facts, they are few and far between, and people should take what he says with a pinch of salt.
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-administration-lies-100_us_58ac7a0fe4b02a1e7dac3ca6?

      • The piece you link to is itself a good example of alt facts, pretty easily shredible. But not worth the effort here.

      • I invite people to read through them and see for themselves.

      • Gov. Scott Walker’s survival of a union-inspired recall vote in Wisconsin was a harbinger of what was to come in the Trump vs. Clinton contest. Fact are facts and the simple truth is, if the election was held tomorrow, Trump would win by an even greater majority.

      • Jimd

        I went through your list. Some seem trivial or a moot point. Others may well be false caims by trump.

        I checked number 22 about homocide rates and trump is correct and huffpo wrong.

        http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2017/02/daily-chart-3

        As you wouldn’t want huffpo to present false facts presumably you will tell them?

        Tonyb

      • Jim D
        Here are the links to CO2 at 100km altitude
        https://www.researchgate.net/publication/281034394_Increasing_carbon_dioxide_concentration_in_the_upper_atmosphere_observed_by_SABER

        Here is the chart identifying CO2 increases at that level

        It fits with the subject of the main post. Facts, which are mostly overlooked because they give most people a headache as they have to confront how little or wrong there conclusions are.
        The current simplistic carbon cycle of the IPCC and the drawings that you displayed on the previous post are so simplistic and a clear example of unsubstantiated information becoming accepted fact.

        Here is a link to the real carbon cycle using OCO-2 images.
        http://www.blozonehole.com/blozone-hole-theory/blozone-hole-theory/carbon-cycle-using-nasa-oco-2-satellite-images

        How does the atmosphere travel south like that? That is the subject of my next series of articles titled the September Sequence. A real eye opener, that will display how little is understood currently about atmospheric circulation. Never forget that earth is surrounded by an insatiable vacuum, and the troposphere at times during the year has greater atmospheric pressure than the laws of physics can retain.

        The top post is well timed. Time to sift out the “I think so” from reality.

      • ozonebust, the fact is that only one thousandth of one percent of the atmosphere is above 80 km. Does that change your view of its relevance in any way?

      • climatereason, check your linked chart and get back to me on whether you stand by what you said.

      • “and the troposphere at times during the year has greater atmospheric pressure than the laws of physics can retain.”

        ozone:
        Could you please give some *instances*.

      • Jimd

        It’s evening here and I am watching tv and dipping into CE so not paying full attention . The new BBC series ‘SST-GB’ is currently more exciting than even huffpo.

        As far as I can see homicide rates had been dropping until 2014 . They have risen sharply (or bigly) over the past two Years. Trump therefore appears to be correct on that one. Please clarify huffpo’s point 22 if you think they are right and trump wrong. Thanks

        Tonyb

      • The homicide rate is far below the 90’s rate even with the recent blip. He has said other things like the crime rate being the highest in 40 years when it is the lowest. This is his thinking on crime, and it is wrong, but he keeps saying things like this anyway because he has his believers. Now hate crimes are going up, but he won’t mention that, of course.

      • Jimd

        But that is not what trump said unless the quote has been taken out of context. He said the crime rate is rising. That is what my link showed. No one mentioned a base line of the 1990’s. It is rising compared to last year and the year before.

        Tonyb

      • You can look at lie #64 for what Trump thinks about crime. Is it significant if crime rises one year to the next, but is still below what it was eight years ago when Obama came to power, and half what it was in the 1990’s? He said “horribly increasing” with no context like that. What is someone to think based on that statement? Probably something wrong.

      • Jim D
        Yes I understand that, but the article clearly identifies that there is recorded accumulation similar to surface level, at 80/90km. What you see at surface and to 80/90km is what remains to be recorded, at any given time. There are two periods in the annual seasonal cycle where CO2 (atmosphere) is discharged from the troposphere to higher altitudes and recorded in the article. There is an outflow away from earth, greater than is recorded. The high altitude records are simply just like Mauna Loa, points in the path of transport outwards.

        Look at the annual volume of CO2 output from human activity, and compare that to any CO2 chart. There is not relationship whatsoever. The simplistic conclusion that is offered is that the sinks are dealing to the remainder. That is complete nonsense. I urge you to qualify it and quatify it, and I dont need another IPCC type hand drawn image. Give me the data. It is just another case oft “we think this is happening”

        I communicated with a senior person of one of the specialist organisation create the charts you offer Jim D, they confirmed that they have been telling goverment for 20 years that the carbon cycle does not add up as proposed. Perhaps you hold the secret’

        Tony Banton
        Read the Carbon cycle using OCO-2 images, it is long, but that is the way I write. It will provide a good understanding. Note what is occuring with the NH CO2 sites such as Cold Bay Alaska. Why do the curves have flat tops for the three months during the highest period of output. It is explained there. Also note the where the OCO-2 images record where the wind is transporting CO2 atmosphere into the Antarctic region.

        For any more you will have to wait.

      • Well, you can look at this and claim it is coincidence. The correlation between emissions and CO2 growth is over 99%. The rate changes have mirrored each other. As one increased tenfold, so did the other such as to keep up.

      • Tony Banton
        I will give you one example of tropospheric overpressure from my research. I have identified a very accuarte global atmospheric pressure and velocity signal (GAPV) that is very accurate and has extremely good data for a number of years.
        Hurricanes (all global cyclones) – do not form spontainiously for the sheer pleasure of a spin. They need a pulse of fast moving atmosphere to start them up. This pulse comes in the form of a pressure pulse within the normal seasonal atmospheric transport. The pulse starts the hurricane for the sole purpose of providing a vertical transport for high pressure geographical areas of atmosphere blocked by surrounding high pressure areas blocking transport. They are a simple relief valve. Warm water is not enough to initiate the start up, it requires something similar to the starter motor on your vehicle. Once formed they still require wind input to maintain them, and the input energy efficiency can be impeded by frictional losses such as land, mountains etc, and loss of wind input. Once underway the energy they create can be greater than the energy input, to the extend that they reduce the GAPV, especially if a number form at the same time, which is often the case.

        I have traced many hurricanes individually against the GAPV trend, when the GAPV increases the hurricane intensity increases, the hurricane intensity peaks in time with the GAPV peak, and both fall together.

        Hurrican Matthew was tempered by the formation and intensification of Nicole upwind, PLUS the GAPV peaked at that time. Lucky for Florida.

        Globally hurricanes form in clusters, they are not random and they perfectly match the GAPV trend. One should never look at one hurricane basin in seperate from the rest, they are all linked.

        Hurricanes signal localised high pressure areas somewhere in the transport path within the troposphere.

      • Jimd

        So, by using that logic, if people go round saying things like the temperature is increasing ! they really need to put it in context by saying : but its not as high as it was in the 1090’s?

        I am not a fan of trump, although I get why people voted for him. He is not a politician. Give him time to settle down before passing judgement. At the moment people are picking him up on everything including the trivial. Bearing in mind he is quick on the draw as can be seen on twitter, he will make gaffes.

        If he is still making them in a years time it will mean he is not taking advice and hasn’t learned anything.

        Tonyb

      • Usually in science, people will show you a graph, so that you can judge for yourself. Data is the key for context. A graph would also show how misleading Trump’s statements on crime are.

      • jimd

        I have this glorious mind picture of Trump trying to describe a complex graph of crime statistics to a packed audience of cheering supporters!

        He was right in what he said on that particular point and it would be up to his many opponents to put those points into a broader context. Which is exactly what some of us attempt to do here by pointing out the historic context of modern climate and weather events.

        tonyb

      • Graphs are good, but Trump won’t use those because facts and numbers don’t support his words very much.

      • Graphs are good, but Trump won’t use those because facts and numbers don’t support his words very much.

        Bwahahahahahaha

      • Tony –

        ==( He was right in what he said on that particular point and it would be up to his many opponents to put those points into a broader context. ) ==

        He was right when he said what? Please provide the quote.

        http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2017/feb/08/donald-trump/donald-trump-wrong-murder-rate-highest-47-years/

      • Jim,

        Why are you participating in a discussion on facts, alternative or otherwise, when you so often ignore them or form opinions without any reliance to them?

    • Jim D ==> From the essay:
      “Out in today’s world of U.S. Two-Party Politics – an Alice-in-Wonderland-esque landscape being repainted daily in the “news” and “social” media – a lot of ill-mannered, Queen-of-Hearts-style nonsense is being churned out by turning this perfectly good and useful idea – alternative facts – into a mockery of truth-finding — turning Truth into an one-word oxymoron.”

      • Trump’s worst enemies are fact checkers. They get in the way of his message, and then he blames the media for pointing out where he said something wrong. In Trump’s background of business and sales, truthfulness is not a helpful quality, and it shows, but he didn’t have to contend with the media when he said things behind closed doors in his business meetings. It’s a learning curve for him: don’t say wrong stuff. He hasn’t learned that yet.

    • You should look into those fact checkers. About zero qualification required to be a fact checker these days.

      Other than what spin you like to add.

  16. Seems to me, “alternative facts” are nothing more than opinions that someone is trying to justify. “Facts” should be reserved for things that are true. Period. Otherwise you end up with the theater-of-the-absurd; pretty much describes “alternative facts”.

    • kellermfk ==> The problem lies in situation where “factoids” are being substituted for true facts in public discourse (conversation, media, Twits, climate science debate).

      Look again at the essay definitions of factoids — and the climate science examples — a factoid is created using some fact combined or presented with a bit of opinion.

      Facts –“Just the facts, ma’am.” — do exist, but are very hard to state clearly especially about complex, complicated or controversial issues.

  17. Remember to be on the lookout for factoids that support “our” side. One of the reasons that climate skepticism is a disorganized mess is the tendency to counter alarmist claims, not with a factual rebuttal, but with a speculative counter-claim.

    • oldfossil ==> You are right — one must realize when your own viewpoint is represented by factoids (facts plus opinions or hypotheses) and make some attempt to sort out the difference ‘twixt the two.

      In any scientific controversy, you will find “blazing factoids” being fired back and forth across the intellectual battlefield. Sifting out the facts from the factoids usually leaves an unsatisfactory result — unsettled questions, way too much uncertainty, vague understandings. In my opinion, this is the problem with Climate Science at present.

    • That is why I have been advocating simple factual sound bites. Not factoids, rather irrefutable stuff that strikes at the foundations of CAGW. Polar bear populations are up, and they do not depend on late summer sea ice. That sort of thing.
      True that climate skepticism has attracted a lot of very fringy stuff. It is not helpful when someone asserts CO2 is not a GHG. It is not helpful when someone asserts the saturation argument, thereby displaying ignorance of the GHE.

      • @ristvan
        “It is not helpful when someone asserts the saturation argument, thereby displaying ignorance of the GHE.”

        A bit off topic but:
        I agree that it is a factoid to assert that the GHE of CO2 is saturated. But if ‘GHE’ is interpreted to mean ‘increased surface warming’, then it is equally a factoid to assert that the GHE of CO2 is not saturated. That is still an hypothesis and I have yet to see any convincing argument or test for it. Some of the typical sketchy arguments (‘factoids’) that people use to support it:

        More CO2 means that the CO2 in the atmosphere radiates to space from a cooler altitude.
        It is a fact that the temperature profile of the atmosphere is not monotonically decreasing with altitude. With its current concentration, CO2 may perhaps now be radiating from the tropopause/stratosphere.

        Instantaneously doubling CO2 will increase surface temperature by approximately 1C.
        The typical initial calculation for this result is done by holding all parameters constant except for surface temperature. Why is surface temperature being allowed to vary? Why not do the initial calculation by holding surface temperature constant and letting the lapse rate vary? After all, the lapse rate must be at least partially due to heat flow between the earth’s surface and space and the primary effect of adding more CO2 will be to change the atmosphere’s thermodynamic characteristics.

        Back Radiation
        I have yet to see a convincing argument that back radiation can heat the earth’s surface. The arguments typically brush over the fact that the surface is in intimate contact with the atmosphere and that there are many more paths available for heat exchange between the two besides radiation.

      • The surface temp change or lack thereof cannot speak directly to GHE because of natural variation. So that is a factoid. But it is easy to show the saturation argument is not true, period, and why. Has to do with the effective radiating level in the upper troposphere. It can always rise and still remain well below the tropopause. ERL~8 km based on temp lapse rate and observed TOA IR frequency; tropopause at equator ~17km, lower at poles.

      • Willbo1, a further comment on backradiation. You state another factoid. It doesn’t heat much of anything. The GHE is caused by lack of sufficient cooling. Heating all comes from that portion of incoming solar flux not reflected by albedo. That is the Earths surface main heat source.

      • Ristvan, thanks for your response. This is my view: The average effective radiating level across the infrared spectrum may be at 8km, but the ERL is actually different for different wavelengths. For the CO2 absorption band, the ERL appears to be much higher than for the other IR wavelengths. This can be seen in the spectral plots of the TOA OLR as a function of wavelength. CO2 is radiating from a much colder altitude. From these plots, it certainly looks to me like CO2 is radiating from the tropopause/stratosphere.

      • Will, if you read the spectral signatures as radiating from at or above the tripopause, then you need new glasses. Period.

      • The temperature of the tropopause over the equator is approx 220K, is it not? I’m sure you’ve seen diagrams like this showing the IR spectrum radiating to space at the TOA. That big dip around 15 microns is due to the absorption/emission band of CO2. The plot shows that IR emissions in this band are at the equivalent temperature of 220K (i.e. the temperature of the tropopause).

        I would say that is pretty good evidence that the ERL for CO2 is actually in the tropopause.

      • Sorry about the link. Please delete the trailing quotation mark in the URL address.

  18. Maybe complex, complicated or controversial issues should simply be left in the realm of opinion, with nobody wrapping themselves up in a cloak of superiority.

  19. Reblogged this on I Don't Think It Means… and commented:
    Dear Tom, I love alternative facts…

  20. > the IPCC’s mandate to focus on man-made climate change resulted in a conclusion dictated by their mandate that is arguably a factoid.

    Is that the expression of a fact, of a factoid, or of something else?

    • Whatever it is Willard, can you provide an alternative statement?

      With those citations you so love.

      • > can you provide an alternative statement?

        I’m glad you ask. There already are plenty in this thread alone. Here’s one:

        Richard Spencer and other alt-right talking heads are now alternative left. That’s. Just. Great.

        Here’s how we invoke alternative facts in legal cases:

        Furthermore, your argument would compel us to conclude that teh Donald is not a serial liar because he tells the truth once or twice a day.

        Assuming Cap’n facts leads us to absurdity. Either life is absurd, or Cap’n facts are false.

        Tough choice.

        ***

        If you want a more traditional example:

        If he had to defend his dog against an accusation of biting someone, an actor playing Mr. Haynes declaimed from the courthouse steps, he would say his dog didn’t bite. He would say that wasn’t his dog. Moreover, he would say he didn’t have a dog.

        http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1993-11-04/news/1993308097_1_haynes-hibler-closing-argument

        The historical note that emoted Mrs Gray simply shows why this kind of legal defense is now receivable in court.

        If you have any other question, feel free to ask.

      • Willard, Absurd is the winner. Take “there are not facts only interpretations.” that is a truism and a reason to question your own interpretations. “A doubling of CO2 will cause warming.” Nope, since there are potential tipping points, a doubling of CO2 could send things in the other direction, warming is an expectation. “increased atmospheric water vapor due to warming will cause more precipitation but warming increasing atmospheric water vapor increases drought potential.”

        “In order to stimulate political action we need to highlight the scary stuff and downplay the uncertainty.” Well, inciting religious fundamentalists and radicals tends to lead to counterproductive political change.

        Yep, go with absurd.

  21. “The oceans have absorbed much of this increased heat, with the top 700 meters (about 2,300 feet) of ocean showing warming of 0.302 degrees Fahrenheit (0.17 C) since 1969.”

    Since 1969 the GMST has risen about 0.8 C:
    http://woodfortrees.org/plot/gistemp/from:1969/plot/gistemp/from:1969/trend

    The 0.8 C is the scary fact, and the 0.17 C is the not scary fact. The GMST has become an uber-fact while the oceans slowly react to changes. Sea ice loss is also an uber-fact when it’s possible that it is negative feed back to warming oceans.

    Which of these two facts is more true than the other?

    # “…it is known that components in the system are inherently chaotic; there are feedbacks that could potentially switch sign, and there are central processes that affect the system in a complicated, non-linear manner.”

    # Climate sensitivity boils down to a change in X causes a known change in Y.

    The IPCC’s attribution statement is an uber-fact but in a backwards way. It’s a statement of how poorly we can pin down sensitivity. Perhaps it goes so far as an admission of defeat.

  22. Pingback: What’s wrong with ‘alternative facts’? — Climate Etc. – NZ Conservative Coalition

  23. Interestingly, there is no Ngram for “alternative fsct”.

  24. When speaking in generalities, I prefer trivially true, true, and significantly true regarding climate warming and cooling because my reference is the past 800,000 years. Modern day warming is trivially true. That most regional areas are warmer since the LIA is true. That we have warmed since the last stadial period is significantly true.

  25. I wonder… where would the country would be today if the Western science of global warming alarmism existed in the 1800s and managed to derail the critical role of trains — replacing canals as a primary mode of transportation — in the growth of America?

    • Wag ==> Though way off-topic, that is not as odd a question as some might think. Your 1800’s trains, of course, burned coal, and that not very efficiently and were very very dirty. There are train tracks near our former Hudson Valley, NY home along which bits of coal and cinder, as well as a layer of oily coal-smoke soil, is commonly found.

      The material transportation sector — and here I mean trucks and trains and ships — depends almost entirely on fossil fuels and diesel fuel (“Fuel oil”) in particular. We will not be using a substitute (barring a black swan energy breakthrough) anytime in the near or medium range future.

      I would like to read an essay on heavy, bulk transportation — what are the realistic potential alternatives to petroleum-fueled internal combustion engines?

      • Kip, Trains can technically be electrified, although ruinous on long US track stretches. No substitute for diesel engines in large trucks, ag/construction equipment, and ships. LNG just does not have the energy density; about half of diesel both gravimetric and volumetric. Not to mention LNG cost is ~3x diesel.

      • Hello Kip– alarm about the non-problem of CO2 diverts attention from the problem of real pollution–e.g., it is said that a single container ship as is used in global trade is the pollution equivalent of 50 million cars due to the burning of about 16 tons of low grade bunker fuel per hour.

      • “Heavy bulk transportation” would have to go a long way to improve on the efficiency of “petroleum-fueled internal combustion engines.”

        Emma Maersk uses a Wärtsilä-Sulzer RTA96-C, which consumes 163 g/kW·h and 13,000 kg/h. If it carries 13,000 containers then 1 kg fuel transports one container for one hour over a distance of 45 km.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_efficiency_in_transportation#Ships

        A sailboat might be better. Or maybe we could domesticate dolphins.

        In 2015, U.S. freight railroads moved a ton of freight an average of 473 miles per gallon of fuel — up from 235 miles in 1980.
        https://www.aar.org/BackgroundPapers/Environmental%20Benefits%20of%20Moving%20Freight%20by%20Rail.pdf

        Hydrogen from solar or wind?

  26. Are facts really facts if the receiver of the facts deduced something not said, so that thru omission a false implication is created. Example: Last year Bernie, to a national audience said corporations are not paying their fair share of taxes. He cited a “fact”. In 1953 corporations paid 30% of federal taxes & now they only pay 10%. I checked the Dept of Treasury archives, which should be gold standard for such facts. He was correct. So far so good.
    But by omission he left an incorrect impression. What he didn’t say was that in 1953 corporations paid $3 Billion in SS Payroll Taxes & today they pay nearly $600 Billion. Also, he left out that the 1986 Tax reform act changed tax treatment of individuals incorporated under Chapter S. 1953 such individuals had their income taxes counted as corporate taxes but today they are reported as Individual Income Taxes. Corporations now pay very close to what they paid in 1953 as a % of total Federal Taxes.

    Bernie didn’t lie. He just created new “facts” through omission.

    • An addendum. Be careful of so called “Fact Checkers.”

      He got a clearance from fact checkers. They probably looked in one location of tax records and concluded Sanders was right and published that finding. But they didn’t know all there was to know about the topic and left out 2 salient facts which entirely changed the story. But in fairness only those intimately familiar with the 1986 Tax code changes would have known enough to see the error.

      • “But in fairness only those intimately familiar with the 1986 Tax code changes would have known enough to recognize this as a factoid see the error.”

      • I contrast what Sanders did with statements by Hillary that feeds into a common perception that reducing taxes increases income inequality. Again in a nationwide TV address, she said that income inequality came about after Bush reduced taxes. Yes, more income inequality occurred then, but also true is that it occurred at a greater rate under Clinton. The number of millionaires increased by nearly 300% under Bill but only 33% under Bush. So she cited the lesser of the two as when income inequality became a major problem but actually the greater problem occurred under her husband.

    • cerescokid ==> Part of what you are saying revolves around the “Only One Fact” fallacy.

      If there was ONLY ONE fact about federal corporate taxes that could be compared over a time period, things would be straight-forward for so-called Fact Checkers — they are “so-called” because the majority of them seem to believe in the Only One Fact concept. That such an over-simplified statement such as “In 1953 corporations paid 30% of federal taxes & now they only pay 10%.” (a factoid if I ever saw one) would be considered suitable for Fact Checking is itself a problem — it validates the One Fact Only fallacy. It was never a question of whether Bernie “lied” or “told the truth” — that is the whole false construct behind the vilification of Alternative Facts. The Federal Tax Code (and thus “who pays what”) is so complex and convoluted that literally no one really understands it as a whole — like Climate?

      Most Fact Checkers are in reality political operations, supported by and for political parties or ideological interest groups — they are not interested in informing the public about the issues they check but only rather in supporting or tearing down the sources of the “fact”.

    • isn’t a fact independent of and separate from observations and impressions?

  27. “Earth’s average surface temperature has risen……”

    The two alternative time periods for this are pertinent, but equally pertinent is the more accurate “earth’s average surface temperature is estimated to have risen…”. One of the strange features of the Paris2015 accord was the evident belief that this was a well established, precise, metric. The uninitiated are often very surprised when told that global temperature is an estimate of choice whose history is ever-changing.

  28. It is OK to have “alternate facts” as long as the differences are allowed to be debated to resolve the differences. Unfortunately, in climate “science” only one side is allowed to present their case. That is a tactic of propaganda, not real science.
    Climate Bullies Gone Wild; Caught on Tape and Print
    https://co2islife.wordpress.com/2017/01/22/climate-bullies-gone-wild-caught-on-tape-and-print/

      • In quantum physics, light can be described as a partial or a wave, we calmly teach both. In finance we have growth, value, technical and fundamental analysis, we calmly teach all. Only in climate science are you limited to one set of “facts” and those “facts” have to include CO2.

  29. I am interested in the sentence quoted from the paywalled article on the Amazon. “… found that earthworks were built within man-made forests that had been previously managed for millennia.” How extensive was this managed area? Anyone have access and can elaborate on this statement?

    • Google amazon earthworks. Source story is phys.org 2/6/17.

    • Chas ==> There is a reason that the DOI is given in addition to the link to the original article on the Amazon findings. DOIs allow one to find the original digital object on the internet and in the present day can lead one to a downloadable copy of almost anything published in a journal. Read about this here and here.

    • Scale is vital in this analogy and completely missing.

      The Amazon rain forest is approx. 5.5 million square km. The earthworks are estimated at a total of 13,000 square km.

      So the “pristine” forest covers on 99.75% of the Amazon. Doesn’t seem to prove the point to me.

      • Steve ==> Wait another ten or twenty years — old paradigms die hard. Now that the possibility has been opened, and scientists are allowed to see and speak of widespread human influence in the Amazon, more evidence will be found.

        The point isn’t whether or not the Amazon has been cultivated for thousands of years, it is about Alternative Facts in scientific settings opening the way for better understandings.

        The same has been found true for the great hardwood forests of the North America east of the Mississippi — their makeup influenced and altered by human hand.

  30. Another example of the context of a fact being used to recast its importance. “The Australian National University announced the discovery on Sunday, claiming evidence shows human-caused greenhouse gas emission during the past 45 years has increased the rate of temperature rise to 1.7 degree Celsius per century, “dwarfing the natural background rate,” according to Will Steffen, a climate change expert and ANU professor.” http://nypost.com/2017/02/13/humans-are-changing-the-climate-170-times-faster-than-nature-study/ Seems to me that when discussing the effects of catastrophic climate change, nothing less than 3 degrees and generally over four has been the standard.

  31. Kip Hansen:

    You wrote “As new alternative facts emerge, they should be embraced and seriously considered by all sides and positions in the climate debate”

    Yes, they should be, but are often simply ignored, rather than being debated.

    A case in point: I have done a study which proves that Sulfur Dioxide aerosols, rather than “greenhouse gasses” are the control knob for Climate Change.

    (Google: Climate Change Deciphered)

    The few who have commented on it walk away from the debate, without having proved me wrong, and continue with their previous misconceptions, having learned nothing!.

    • Burl ==> I see that your link leads to a blog post, written by yourself, at Bob Shapiro’s US Issues blog which is sponsored by the Andover, MA Republican Club.

      It is not surprising that you have not had a lot of feedback from the climate science world — you can’t expect much penetration from such an obscure blog.

      If you are confident that your work is sound, that you are not fooling yourself (in the Feynman sense) and willing to endure the public exposure (both positive and negative — which can be vicious) you might want to explore other outlets for putting your views on the public science dissecting table.

      In the main essay I speak of “Climate science, and the never-ending debate about its implications, is particularly rife with Factoids and Alternative Factoids. ….Once we weed out the truly daft opinions, the obvious non-physical misunderstandings and the delicious-and-nutty fruit-cakery served up from the far edges of climate alarm and hard-core “its all a big hoax” skepticism alike,[] we are still left with a huge number of seemingly true statements, facts, that seem to contradict each other, sometimes apparently in direct opposition.”

      You’ll have to decide which side of the divide you feel your work falls on.

      Do realize though that no one owes you a refutation — no one is obliged to “disprove” your hypothesis just because you wrote something on the ‘Net. That privilege you must earn.

    • Burl,

      I’ve added “sulfur dioxides” to my Contrarian Matrix:

      https://contrarianmatrix.wordpress.com/lots-of-theories/

      I also added your name to the colophon.

      Many thanks!

  32. Good point on “alternative facts”.
    If a person is dead or alive should not be a question, but it is anyway. A missing person can be declared dead, even if no one knows.
    In complicated matters who decides what is fact?

  33. Kip asks: “What is wrong with alternative facts?”

    Everything. Some facts: 1) The press estimates the size of a crowd by taking pictures and counting the number of people in selected grids. 2) Using this technique, the press found more people at Obama’s inauguration. 3) Without citing any source for her information, Ms Conway claimed the opposite was true.

    As scientists, we are supposed to be able to process data like this and reach a logical conclusion. That logical conclusion doesn’t have anything to do with “alternative facts”.

    Before we started using the terms “alternative facts” and “fake news”, we used a more appropriate term, “spin”. Its practitioners were called “spin doctors”. They were treated with justifiably treated with disdain. Ms. Conway has been banned from Morning Joe for her behavior.

    The problem today is that the Internet and news are CONSISTENTLY exposing us to a biased subset of these facts AND using them to whip up public indignation. I tend to lean towards skepticism about the consensus on climate change, but I find the amount of misinformation and fanaticism in comments at WUWT these days positively frightening. Elsewhere, social media is being used to recruit left- and right-wing mobs to attend town hall meetings held by legislators and speakers on college campuses. I wonder if obsession with social media and blogs might be distorting our personalities. The Stanford prison experiment may be relevant to this phenomena.

    • Ft, spin varies from factoids to worse. My understanding of the post is that if one seives out factoids and spin on science matters (not politics), there are still alternative facts. Example. We know there is less Arctic ice now than in 1979. Satellite estimates. Alternative fact. We know from DMI icecharts from 1921-1939, and from Russian ice reports, that Arctic ice also declined over that period, and maynhave been lower in the 1940’s than now. Attribution? Those alt facts can lead to useful science about Arctic variations suchnas Akasofu proposed innhis 2010 paper.

      • Hello again ristvan!

        What evidence do you have for your assertion that “Arctic ice also declined over that period, and may have been lower in the 1940’s than now”?

        Is that a “factoid”, an “alternative fact” or “fake news”?

      • JH, how nice to show up here as suggested. Read essay Northwest Passage in ebook Blowing Smoke. It images some of the refferenced DMI ice charts, and references in footnotes 3 and 4 some of the Russian stuff. All handed you gift wrapped. Plus much more, since the existential proof of low 1940’s ice was Larsen’s single season NWP transit in 1944. Even have a picture of him during it. Famous. Which was the central theme for the essay. You do not know much history?

      • My pleasure ristvan. You keep on not answering my question though. Once again, in your view is your assertion about 1940s Arctic sea ice a “factoid”, an “alternative fact” or “fake news”?

        I have studied this stuff in considerable depth. Here’s one of my many essays on the topic:

        http://GreatWhiteCon.info/2016/04/the-northwest-passage-in-2016/

        I’ve not encountered “Blowing Smoke” before though. Where might I find it? I’ll try Google to start with….

      • ristvan – According to Google a copy will cost me £5.55. Not going to happen!

        I don’t suppose you could send me a review copy could you!

      • JH, not a chance given your stance. Did send out several dozen gratis review copies at the time. Not least to hostess Judith, who graciously wrote the foreword to the ebook. Hint: 11 of the 52 book essays appeared at least in part as guest posts here previously. You can get all those for free, together with the denizen peer reviews. All one click away on the right hand column here. Including two explicitly on ice sheets, your favorite topic.

      • Rud – Searching this site for “Larsen” reveals one “guest article” by Tony Brown but nothing by your good self.

        I note that my burning questions still remain unanswered by you, Tony or Kip. At the risk of (repeating myself)^n:

        What’s the difference, if any, between “factoids”, “alternative facts” and “fake news”?

        What evidence do you have for your assertion that “Arctic ice also declined over that period, and may have been lower in the 1940’s than now”?

        Is that a “factoid”, an “alternative fact” or “fake news”?

      • jim hunt

        In a previous conversation about arctic ice someone remarked that you didn’t appear to read things that people referenced you. I did not make that reference to the 1940’s. I specifically remarked that the 2 or 3 arctic melting events over the last decade or so appeared to mean that the ice was lower then than in the earlier events 60 years previously. You are attributing factoids to me that I never made.

        My point has always been tat the Northern sea route opened in the 1930’s and in the earlier part of the century there had been around 20 years or more of diminishing ice..
        tonyb

      • Tony – I wasn’t attributing the “1940s factoid” to you. If you scroll up you’ll note that Rud said it. I was merely pointing out that as far as I can tell you’ve written a guest article for Climate Etc. that mentions Henry Larsen, whereas Rud has not.

        On the rare occasions when links are provided I click them and read them, or at the very least scan the TL;DR ones. However it seems to me that others do not. Rud admits as much at the top of this very thread!

        It seems as though you categorise Rud’s “Arctic ice also declined over that period, and may have been lower in the 1940’s than now” as a “factoid”? Or have I misunderstood something?

      • HI Jim

        I make no claim as to Rud’s interpretation of arctic ice in the 1940’s but I have read his books and they are interesting and well written and researched

        As you know I extensively researched the period of which I wrote -including visiting the Scott Polar institute in Cambridge (the real one…) I hope to write in more detail about the period from 1940 to the start of the satellite records (1972 or 1979) at some point, as whether or not arctic ice declined further or whether it increased roughly in line with the general cooling trend I don’t know until I look.

        tonyb.

      • I’ve been away from my keyboard all day, and still my question remains unanswered! Are you there Kip?

        Is Rud’s assertion that “Arctic ice also declined over that period, and may have been lower in the 1940’s than now” a “factoid”, an “alternative fact” or “fake news”?

      • Time series showing the August ice-extent anomalies (x 1000 km2) in the Arctic Ocean along the coast of Russia, Siberia and Alaska: The Kara Sea, the Laptev Sea, the East Siberian Sea, and Chuckchi Sea (Polyakov et al. 2003). The composite record show large sea ice variations around a small negative trend since 1900, although the trend from a statistical point of view is not significant (Polyakov et al. 2003). The blue area to the right shows the time extent of the satellite-era shown in the figure higher up in this paragraph.” http://www.climate4you.com/

        “Understanding Arctic temperature variability is essential
        for assessing possible future melting of the Greenland ice
        sheet, Arctic sea ice and Arctic permafrost. Temperature trend reversals in 1940 and 1970 separate two Arctic warming periods (1910–1940 and 1970–2008) by a significant 1940–1970 cooling period. Analyzing temperature records of the Arctic meteorological stations we find that (a) the Arctic amplification (ratio of the Arctic to global temperature trends) is not a constant but varies in time on a multi-decadal time scale, (b) the Arctic warming from 1910 – 1940 proceeded at a significantly faster rate than the current 1970 – 2008 warming, and (c) the Arctic temperature changes are highly correlated with the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO) suggesting the Atlantic Ocean thermohaline circulation is linked to the Arctic temperature variability on a multi-decadal time scale.” http://climateresearch.lanl.gov/source/orgs/ees/ees14/pdfs/09Chlylek.pdf

        Of course – both Chylek and Humlum are global warming deniers according to utter twits.

      • That doesn’t actually answer my question though Robert. As you may have gathered, I’m interested to hear Rud & Kip’s view on the matter.

        However, do you consider your comment to be a “factoid”, an “alternative fact”, a “fact” or “fake news”?

      • Your question was –

        “What evidence do you have for your assertion that “Arctic ice also declined over that period, and may have been lower in the 1940’s than now”?”

        I just got bored with you twittering on about it. Within the limits of available data they address intriguing questions about the natural variability in the Arctic. But as I suggested – that is not something the average urban doofus hipster is equipped to contemplate.

      • “What evidence do you have for your assertion that “Arctic ice also declined over that period, and may have been lower in the 1940’s than now”?”

        Dmi history archive is available online, but has august data, and are charts mostly from ships in the earlier years, but some of those years had significant melts.

      • Thanks Robert, but you still seem to be missing my main point. You have once again answered a question I was addressing to Rud.

        Jim2 seems to have got my drift however. Here once again is my question for Kip, Rud and any other interested denizens:

        Is Rud’s assertion that “Arctic ice also declined over that period, and may have been lower in the 1940’s than now” a “factoid”, an “alternative fact” or “fake news”?

        Here once again is my question specifically for you:

        Do you consider your comment to be a “factoid”, an “alternative fact”, a “fact” or “fake news”?

        Comprenez vous?

      • Jim Hunt, Have you stopped beating your wife yet? There is evidence that Arctic Sea Ice extent has been considerably below “normal” in the past along with evidence that atmospheric and ocean circulation patterns unrelated to “global warming” have a large impact on Arctic Sea Ice extent. For some reason you keep posing an irrelevant question and appear to be expecting a valid answer.

      • I assumed Jim meant that your secondary question – to which I answered none of the above in answering the primary question – was a faketoid.

      • Robert – You’re putting words in my mouth that I never uttered.

        In the context of Kip’s original post how would you categorise your own statement about the Arctic?

        If you wish, how would you categorise Rud’s?

        And the $64k question is what is Kip’s view on this graphic illustration of his point?!

      • Cap’n – My wife doesn’t beat me anymore. I was divorced many years ago.

        Since Robert has apparently not returned yet, perhaps you could explain to me in words of one syllable why the question I keep on (re)posing is irrelevant to a thread subtitled “So . . . what exactly is a ‘fact’?”?

        Thanks in anticipation.

      • Jim Hunt, The answer you are looking for doesn’t exist so pick any you like. Now if you are wondering about Arctic Sea Ice and doubt anecdotal evidence, you could look at Greenland Snow Accumulation as a proxy of sea ice extent and find that around 1940 there was higher than normal accumulation, but not quite as high as 2012 or circa 1750.

        http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00373.1. .

      • Cap’n – Well, Jim2 managed to answer it, but he didn’t explain his reasoning in great detail!

        Actually I’m not wondering about Arctic Sea Ice, and I doubt that Greenland Snow Accumulation is a particularly good proxy for sea ice extent. I’m wondering about how people perceive the labels “factoid” etc.

        Thanks for your suggestion though.

      • I quoted your question verbatim – the one on ice and not your silly little diversion on factoids. I answered with science and – as it is based on inference from data – it should be considered true in accordance with Newton’s fourth rule on natural philosophy.

        New ideas link solar UV/ozone interactions with the AMOC. Google it.

        http://www.ocean-sci.net/10/29/2014/os-10-29-2014.pdf

        With a declining solar intensity suggesting a further decline in AMOC and an increase in upwelling in the Pacific – the prediction is that the next global climate shift – due in a 2018-2028 window – will be to yet cooler conditions. Now that’s a hypothesis.

        It very much seems like science has passed you by. Why would that be Jim?

      • Robert – You continue to misunderstand me. Once again, the “scientific” question I asked was directed at Rud, not you.

        The question open to all denizens, your good self included, is more of a psychological one. Did Newton have much to say on that topic? Is psychology a “science”, a “social science”, a “pseudo science” or a “non science”? That question is open to all denizens also, especially Rud and Kip!

        To be frank you’re the one indulging in “a silly little diversion”. After all, Kip devoted a whole section of his article to “Facts vs factoids”.

      • The question you asked was on ice extent – and – frankly – Rud was right not to try to answer it for you. I foolishly cited science for your edification – but you seem supremely uninterested in the scientific answer to your question because it is not answered by Rud. Which seems more than a little churlish in an open forum.

        Again in response to your tedious repetition of a silly question – I answered that indeed it was true in the sense of Isaac Newton’s rules.

        You are now asking if Newton had a rule on psychology. Not explicitly – but in far as there is data and testable hypotheses I would assume that psychology is a science.

        Forgive me – but you seem to be a wastrel of the type all too familiar. Utterly devoid of any relevant science and taking refuge in trivial word games for reasons only you care about.

      • Mornin’ Robert (UTC),

        Do you recall when Rud told me “your footprint over several blogs leaves me uninterested in reading what you wrote,cause it [is] surely factoids”?

        He has yet to confirm as much, but that leads me to believe that he thinks his views about Arctic sea ice extent in the 1940s are “facts”, whereas mine aren’t even worthy of Kip’s “alternative facts” label. And that’s without having bothered to read them!

        Your “Utterly devoid of any relevant science” suggest to me you’re of a like mind?

        For your information, and Rud’s, and Kip’s, and Tony’s, and Judith’s. The preliminary results of a little psychological experiment I recently conducted in a dark corner of the cryodenialosphere:

        http://GreatWhiteCon.info/2017/02/not-a-lot-of-people-know-how-paul-homewood-propagates-fake-news-about-the-arctic/

      • You have yet to present any evidence at all on Arctic ice extent and temperature in the 1940’s.

        By all means – fact or fiction?

        And your ‘psychological experiment’ is more than a little creepy. I somehow suspect you of thread jacking for the purpose of demonstrating your intellectual superiority over the denier-o-sphere. It is clearly not working.

      • Mornin’ Robert (UTC),

        I’m at a conference in London with only a mobile device for company, so my alleged “thread jacking” activities will be severely curtailed until the weekend!

        It seems you miss my point yet again? At this juncture I’ll merely point out that resorting to ad homs is most unbecoming.

      • I’m pretty sure that I do understand. The lack of any point to anything you say seems a giveaway.

        But by all means – if you can’t supply alternative facts on 1940’s Arctic ice and temperature – I will accept any fact at all that you feel confident about. Empty blather doesn’t count.

      • Jim Hunt: Thanks Robert, but you still seem to be missing my main point.

        You didn’t make a point. You asked 2 questions, and got answers to the first question, about evidence. Those answers ruled out “fake news”, but left “alternative facts” and “factoids” as possibilities.

      • Robert/Matthew – You will no doubt be overjoyed to learn that I’m back at my keyboard after an interesting trip to the Metropolis.

        You have yet to present any evidence at all on Arctic ice extent and temperature in the 1940’s

        Maybe we can get on to that topic in due course, since I like to think of the Arctic as my specialist subject, but for the umpteenth time, the title of this thread mentions “Alternative Facts” but not the “Arctic”. I assume Rud introduced the latter as a specific example of a more general principle? Any chance we can discuss the general principle, perhaps referring to the Arctic as a specific example if that helps clarify matters? Which it doesn’t seem to be doing at the moment!

        Your ‘psychological experiment’ is more than a little creepy.

        Please elucidate.

        You asked 2 questions, and got answers to the first question

        I have yet to receive substantive answers to my questions from either Rud or Kip.

    • Who cares about the size of the crowd at the inauguration?
      Who cares if Trump exaggerated?
      The man is a salesman.
      What’s difference between politics and advertising?
      FACT: Nothing.
      Some of us wanted to try a salesman instead of a politician.
      Get it?

      Ever seen ‘Jeremiah Johnson’?
      That great scene where the mountain man is shouting his personal myth to the sky?
      That’s America.
      I want that.
      I am exhausted with elitist progressive depressive hand wringing over everything.

      FACT: Trump did poorly in coastal urban areas.
      DC is a coastal urban area.
      Trumps supporters live too far away.
      Besides, most of them have to work.

      FACT: There is no correlation between fact and popularity.

      FACT: Conway wiped the floor with highest paid pros in her field while every ‘expert’ was calling her a fool.

      • Everyone by now knows not to believe him when he says things like this, or when he says he has a better healthcare system or better jobs and more money for everyone or ways to eradicate terrorism and immigrants. These are all just things he says, truth be darned. Take them all equally with a pinch of salt.

      • The viewer numbers tell the story more precisely. As for who to believe? Hilary? Pull the other one JIm.

      • They tried the fake facts about Metro ridership and crowd size, but that did not work. He also said it stopped raining for his speech. It didn’t. You only give someone a few strikes before you don’t believe them anymore, and I have been past that point since he first started his run. Some are only noticing how often he lies now, and some still haven’t, or have but hope he can keep fooling enough people to get votes. You can fool some of the people all of the time, and they are his base.

      • You don’t have an alternate fact Jim – it is an alternate reality.

      • RIE, are you in the camp that believes everything Trump says, or the one that hopes he can fool enough people to get votes? It’s a subtle difference but worth some thought.

      • There is a not so subtle difference between a new broom and an inevitable democratic train wreck. I’m hopeful but not convinced that America can dig itself out of the hole. You may as well stop digging now Jim – take a deep breath ans enjoy the ride.

    • franktoo ==> On the inauguration numbers, which is a great example of my point here today, your presentation fails to identify the competing factoids. The number counted in the Park from photos as “viewing the inauguration” is one factoid — the competing factoid offered by the Trump team was “number in the Park, plus number watching live on TV, plus number watching live on the ‘Net”. The anti-Trumps insist that ONLY ONE FACT counts (theirs, naturally). The Trump-team seemed to be willing to let them have that fact, but thought their a\offered alternative fact was equally true. History will decide “who was right”….

      Yours: “The problem today is that the Internet and news are CONSISTENTLY exposing us to a biased subset of these facts [in my terms, factoids] AND using them to whip up public indignation.” is certainly true. Generally, the MSM has abandoned ethical journalism altogether.

      • > On the inauguration numbers, which is a great example of my point here today […]

        It’s more than an example – it’s the reason why we’re speaking of “alternative facts” in the first place:

        Spicer on Saturday gave a five-minute statement to the press riddled with falsehoods and claimed photos showing clearly that the audience for Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration was significantly larger than [teh Donald]’s on Friday was an attempt by the media to “minimize enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall.”

        Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, Conway staunchly defended Spicer, and said his untrue statements were “alternative facts.” When asked by host Chuck Todd why Spicer used his first appearance in front of the press to proclaim falsehoods, Conway said Todd was being “overly dramatic” about the statement.

        http://time.com/4642689/kellyanne-conway-sean-spicer-donald-trump-alternative-facts/

    • I quoted your question verbatim – the one on ice and not your silly little diversion on factoids. I answered with science and – as it is based on inference from data – it should be considered true in accordance with Newton’s fourth rule on natural philosophy.

      New ideas link solar UV/ozone interactions with the AMOC. Google it.


      http://www.ocean-sci.net/10/29/2014/os-10-29-2014.pdf

      With a declining solar intensity suggesting a further decline in AMOC and an increase in upwelling in the Pacific. The prediction is that the next global climate shift – due in a 2018-2028 window – will be to yet cooler conditions.

      It very much seems like science has passed you by. Why would that be Jim?

    • Jim Hunt nit picks with Tony and Rud, then tap dances when Chief gives a broadside to his arguments. Jim, credibility may not matter to you, but it does to some of us.

  34. It appears that the peer-review process is a casualty of the fact war.

    Twitter from POTUS = bannon has replaced the scientific method. The proof of this “fact” will be in the new federal budgets for the agencies that survive. In some cases the agencies that survive might envy those that don’t.

    We are all entering a very dark tunnel of unknown length and time.

  35. Kip Hansen:

    Thank you for your comments.

    I have tried other sources without success: 7 Journal rejections, without even being sent out for review. The latest, from ” Science”, stated “We have read your submission, but will not be publishing it”

    (It was even rejected by WUWT)

    The link which you accessed has been viewed by thousands of Blog viewers with essentially no response.

    I am certain of my conclusions (all based upon facts) and I have even more supportive evidence, submitted as a pre-print to The Open Science Framework (maintained by the Center for Open Science) (Osf.io), which supposedly is widely accessed. Its title is “The Cause and Timings of El Nino events”, which are also due to reductions in SO2 aerosol emissions.

    Would you have any other suggestions for its dissemination?

    • Burl ==> There are open source journals.

      But may I suggest that you try first to find a “friendly” in the climate science world that you might ask to have a private look at your paper and do a “side-check” — take a look from a level-playing-field point of view and give you an honest opinion. You should understand that you are making an extraordinary claim and you can be expected by all to to provide extraordinary evidence. [I would volunteer but I am not a climate scientist — I am an essayist.]

      Good luck with it.

  36. Just substitute “dream” for “fact” when you read the arguments. It works just as well.

  37. Lots of Trump’s facts are just bright objects to attract media attention away from their own most recent narrative. It’s a narrative displacement strategy.

    Make the field inhospitable to narrative growth.

  38. Happy Birthday, Judith!

  39. The Oscars, like the new definition of a smooth-running machine this year.

    • … aka a train wreck.

      • JimD

        I didn’t watch it. Did I win anything?

        Was everybody nice to Trump or were they convinced Hillary was actually their President?

        Tonyb

      • Australians seemed better represented than Brits this year. There were some pointed remarks.

      • Tony

        The highlight of the Oscars was the award for Best Picture to the wrong picture at the end of the ceremony. Initially Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty read the card and announced that La La Land won. The entire troupe from the movie came up and began to thank everyone, blah blah. Then in the background you could see some chaos. People were coming out whispering and the viewer could tell something was wrong. Then they announced that another movie “Moonlight” had won. So for a week we will listen to what went wrong on the cable networks.

        For someone who has no use for the clowns in Hollywood, it was a delight to watch.

  40. Fact. Hillary won. Alternative fact. Trump is president. :D

  41. Aren’t facts = truth? If so, how can there be alternative truths? A known ‘fact’ doesn’t have to be true, as evidenced by your Amazon example. But, if it’s not true, is it still a fact? The amazon was a primeval forest until it was proven not to be such; facts seem to be more like scientific laws.

    A thought provoking example: it’s a fact that I currently live on the earth, unless it turns out that Elon Musk’s (and others’) simulation theory is true. Then, I’m really just living in the Matrix.

    If my assumption that facts = truths is correct, then I don’t think that there are such things as ‘alternative facts’. New evidence isn’t an alternative fact, it’s new evidence in support of a theory. I think people are much too cavalier with their ‘facts’; things are either right or they’re wrong. Which isn’t to say that we humans have the capacity to prove it either way.

    As for the use of ‘alternative facts’ in modern parlance, it’s just manipulation of people who don’t, can’t, or won’t understand the difference.

    People have been debating this since at least Plato (realm of the forms). It’s very interesting, though it can get very academic.

    • barry donaldson (@eatincrayonz) ==> You seem to be stuck in the One Fact Only fallacy. It is a serious cognitive pathology to believe that there can be only one fact about a particular topic — almost any topic or event or state or condition has many facts referring to it. All can be true simultaneously and some of them can be seemingly contradictory. The more complex and complicated a topic, and the more uncertainty inherent in the topic, the more likely there will be Alternative, competing, contradictory facts to be sorted out.

      For instance, it can be true that “parts of” the Amazon were cultivated and groomed for hundreds or thousands of years by long-gone civilizations. And, at the same time, that other parts were not. It doesn’t have to be “all in” one way or the other. It could be that some portion was heavily influenced by humans, and the rest less influenced. Now that there is an Alternative Fact to the long-held Primeval Forest fact, more work can be done to investigate and discover and come up with a better understanding.

      • i’m not sure what you mean by ‘one fact only’ fallacy. i think that multiple, true facts can be ascribed to XXX, but only if they aren’t contradictory. if you want or need to ascribe contradictory facts due to a lack of knowledge, then those descriptions need to be qualified (or proven to not be contradictory). i believe that it comes down to words and sentences being inclusive and exclusive in their meanings.

        as you say, the more complicated the topic, the more facts and conditions and states and whatever apply to it, making it all the more difficult to describe. both the earth and the amazon are huge and complicated and resistant to simple categorizations like ‘the earth is wet’ or ‘the amazon is primeval’. this is why modeling the stock market or the climate is so damn difficult…so many facts aka variables.

        you can’t truthfully say that ‘the earth is wet’ or that ‘the earth is dry’ because it is both. you can truthfully say that ‘the earth is both dry and wet’. as you said, parts of the amazon are primeval forest and parts are not. so, if you say ‘the amazon is a primeval forest’, that means the whole thing must be because ‘the amazon’ is inclusive of itself; it has been proven to not be entirely primeval. you can only truthfully say that ‘the amazon is both a primeval and non-primeval forest’.

        you can say ‘the amazon is on the earth’ because we know the definition of the amazon and that includes things like ‘it’s a giant forest in south america’. south america, we know, is, by definition a continent on the earth.

        that said, it’s been many moons since i’ve taken formal logic classes. it’s possible i have it wrong, but i don’t think so. also, i know that i’ve not used the technical terms, mostly because i don’t remember them.

      • Don’t mind Kip, barry – there’s little else to justify teh Donald’s crap than to FAKE ALL THE NEWS.

        Your viewpoint is sound. It’s called Realism. As my avatar once said, bivalence is the hallmark of realism.

        Facts are not exactly true, BTW, but what we say is true of the world. And Putnam has a nice refutation of Matrix-like (or brains in vats or simulation) arguments. In a nutshell, they’re as illusory as the Escher hand that draws itself.

        Welcome aboard.

      • Willard,

        fair points. like i said, been a long time since i studied formal philosophy. i’ll have to re-read my ‘truth/fact’ books.

        as for the ‘brain in a vat’, i’ll leave that to smarter people with more time on their hands. was just using it as an example :)

        barry

      • “i’m not sure what you mean by ‘one fact only’ fallacy.”

        “There are no facts, only interpretations.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

        Gotcha journalism is great using half-truths to interpret their “facts” and then claim theirs are the only true facts. “We should ban all Muslims until we figure this out.” DJT “Trump plans to ban all Muslims.” Press.

      • Last time I’ve heard of reactionary claptraps based on Nietzsche’s stuff, they were dropping Zaratustrian aphorisms from airplanes.

        Two intriguing alternative interpretations about teh Donald – that he’s a straight talker and that he’s a breath of fresh air. The first has been well described by Jim Jeffries. It’s on the Tube and we must keep our space safe. Denizens are so easily triggered. Sad snowflakes.

        The second omits the fact that teh Donald hasn’t invented the Law & Order playbook:

        Nixon was not the first Republican candidate to fuse rhetoric about law and order to a racial message. As early as 1964 conservatives began trying to exploit grassroots concerns about integration by using code words like “welfare,” “morality” and “crime” to tap into white—and suburban—racial resentments.

        http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/07/donald-trump-law-and-order-richard-nixon-crime-race-214066

        We all know what teh Donald said of GOP voters, right?

      • Alternative facts:

        .he’s a straight talker and a breath of fresh air…who says exactly what he means not what is politically correct.

        vs.

        “The problem with liberals is that they take what Trump says literally.”

        or

        “Trump is doing exactly what he said he was going to do.” vs. “Trump isn’t a politician so he isn’t well-versed in how to phrase himself carefully so as to not contradict himself or appear to be confused or unclear.”

        or

        “Trump is a master an manipulating the press.” vs. “Poor Donald, the press treats him soooooo unfairly.”

      • “Nixon was not the first Republican candidate to fuse rhetoric about law and order to a racial message.”

        Muslim is a diverse religion not a race. Economic nationalism isn’t national socialism. Radical fundamentalist Islamism is an ideology based on extremely strict interpretation of the Quran and selectively picked Hadiths. Now there are Muslim reformists and a number of secular Muslim sects, but “Muslim” is a generic pigeon hole.

      • Barry ==> Of course, in a sense, you are right — it is the multiple, true facts that seem contradictory that lead us to new discoveries and new understandings.

        Humans tend to state things in a very certain, simple, assertive manner — almost always our pronouncements should be classified, as per my essay, as Factoids — but in common practice, we simply call them facts and accept them as such.

        The One Fact Only fallacy is that there is only one fact that can be stated about a certain thing — thus any other fact about that thing must be false or a lie — a construct that is just not true at all. The reality is that there are [almost] always many factual statements that can be made and many of them will seem contradictory to one another because they are generally too simplistic to be strictly true.

        It is when facts seem contradictory to what we currently believe to be the fact(s) that we are hot on the trail of new discoveries or new understandings. In the effort to reconcile the two sets of seemingly contradictory we find things we didn’t already know — the contradictions resolve or one set of facts is abandoned to the “past misunderstandings” file.

        The current two-party-politics nonsense about Alternative Facts is a symptom of the insanity caused by extreme ideological polarization. The concept is well established in Law and lawyers, especially criminal defense lawyers, depend on Alternative Facts to prove the innocence, or provide reasonable doubt, for their clients.

      • Captdallas ==> “Gotcha journalism is great using half-truths to interpret their “facts” and then claim theirs are the only true facts.”

        Yes, Yes, and Yes. “Our facts are the Only Facts”….. “The Facts is…”,

        The MSM throws around factoids as facts, and anoints them as “The Only True Facts”. It is a propaganda technique as old as Mankind.

      • Kip,

        I’m curious, in what ‘sense’ am I wrong? I’ll agree that my ‘sense’ is not used in everyday speech; it’s most likely not used outside of courtrooms, classrooms, and laboratories.

        I agree with what you said outside of the lawyer bit. As for ‘one fact only’, it is a ridiculous fallacy and quite obviously untrue. Where did you even hear of such a thing?

        As for everyday parlance, I agree with you. It would be very tedious to speak in explicit terms. That said, a statement from the President or a verdict from the Supreme Court should be as unambiguous as possible.

        You think that ‘alternative facts’ spring from ideological polarization? I’ve actually never considered where it came from, mostly just attributing it to stupidity, fear, and greed. I guess that’s some sort of consideration.

        I neither like or understand your involvement of defense attorneys to explain your point further. To me, they’re sophists who’ll stop at nothing to win. How does that in any way benefit society and public discourse? If anything, I think sophistry is a bane. People have been arguing against it since Socrates was put to death.

      • BarryD,

        No worries. What you meant by “facts = truths” was clear enough. No need to go open any book on theories of truth. But if you want one, there’s Scott Soames’ **Understanding Truth** that I’m rereading it right now. For an overview, I liked Kirkham’s **Theories of Truth**. But here’s Susan Haack’s chapter:

        http://fitelson.org/probability/haack_truth.pdf

        You won’t find anything about fallacies there. But it’d be hard to find Kip’s One Fact Only fallacy – it doesn’t exist. (It’s at best a conflation of the fact/value dichotomy, the myth of the experimentum crucis, the myth of the given and other philosophical niceties.) OTOH, you may find something about the Fallacy of the middle ground, which is implicit in that testimony:

        [T]he Internet and news are CONSISTENTLY exposing us to a biased subset of these facts AND using them to whip up public indignation. I tend to lean towards skepticism about the consensus on climate change, but I find the amount of misinformation and fanaticism in comments at WUWT these days positively frightening. Elsewhere, social media is being used to recruit left- and right-wing mobs to attend town hall meetings held by legislators and speakers on college campuses.

        Kip’s point has very little to do with alternative facts anyway. His empty pokes against mainstream media reveals that he’s redefining “alternative facts” in a way that covers for Kellyanne’s blunder. The whole piece is a big tu quoque.

        ***

        The squirrels that Cap’n threw in that subthread should suffice to make you and Denizens realize that most of the times, it is the relevance of the facts that matters, or to put it in a a more playful way, the question is if the facts of the matter are matters of the facts under discussion.

        Take for instance the fact that Muslim is not a race. This is irrelevant to the fact that teh Donald is using Nixon’s playbook by using code words to tap into white—and suburban—racial resentments. There’s no need to delve into the ontological status of muslimhood to see that. It’s not even clear it’s a religion, BTW.

        All these questions are interesting, but they deflect from the fact that mattered to us, i.e. that teh Donald’s playbook is as the most tragic one that has been played in the 20th century:

        In 1950, Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno helped to assemble a volume titled “The Authoritarian Personality,” which constructed a psychological and sociological profile of the “potentially fascistic individual.” The work was based on interviews with American subjects, and the steady accumulation of racist, antidemocratic, paranoid, and irrational sentiments in the case studies gave the German-speakers pause. Likewise, Leo Lowenthal and Norbert Guterman’s 1949 book, “Prophets of Deceit,” studied the Father Coughlin type of rabble-rouser, contemplating the “possibility that a situation will arise in which large numbers of people would be susceptible to his psychological manipulation.”

        http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/the-frankfurt-school-knew-trump-was-coming

        In a recent presentation, Jonathan Haidt, a psychologist well-knowned by Denizens, confirmed a correlation between authoritarism and voting for teh Donald.

        Again, it should be obvious that “alternative facts” as constructed by Kip have little to do with what’s going on here.

      • Willard, “Take for instance the fact that Muslim is not a race. This is irrelevant to the fact that teh Donald is using Nixon’s playbook by using code words to tap into white—and suburban—racial resentments. There’s no need to delve into the ontological status of muslimhood to see that. It’s not even clear it’s a religion, BTW.”

        Forgive me, I incorrectly assumed you were commenting on what I said instead what you were thinking. Of course, playing to the hopes, desires and fears of the majority of ‘mericans has to be racist, homophobic, xenophobic when the best you have to offer is “I’m not him.” Oddly, a large fraction of the racist, homophobes, and xenophobes are a group formerly known as the middle class and union worker. In fact, just about everyone tired of being called a racist, xenophobe, homophobe, moroon, mouth breather, deplorable and anything else irrelevant in a civilized political debate tended to swing in Trump’s direction given the alternative.

      • > I incorrectly assumed you were commenting on what I said instead what you were thinking

        Why would I follow that squirrel of yours, Cap’n? I wasn’t even talking to you. But since you insist, here’s teh Donald’s promise:

        [Teh Donald] is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.

        https://www.donaldjtrump.com/press-releases/donald-j.-trump-statement-on-preventing-muslim-immigration

        Here’s teh Rudy on teh Donald’s usage of the very expression “muslim ban.”

        So when he first announced it he said “Muslim ban.” He called me up, he said, “Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally.”

        https://qz.com/897616/rudy-giuliani-says-donald-trump-asked-how-to-make-a-muslim-ban-legal/

        Furthermore, your argument would compel us to conclude that teh Donald is not a serial liar because he tells the truth once or twice a day.

        You can’t win that one, Cap’n.

      • Willard, “Furthermore, your argument would compel us to conclude that teh Donald is not a serial liar because he tells the truth once or twice a day.”

        Actually, comparing the two candidates, Trump could be the more honest.

      • > Actually, comparing […]

        What’s wrong with “alternative actuality”?

        Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Quite the opposite, really.

        Everything’s right about “alternative actuality.”

        Alternative actuality is what we read to learn new things about the Denizens around us.

      • Careful or he will put you on his actual naughty list.

      • Barry ==> You’ve totally lost me now….I’m quite sure I said “right” not “wrong”. I have no idea what you are trying to say in your last comment at all.

        All I can suggest is reading the essay in whole again and seeing if you can catch the overall message.

        This is NOT deep philosophy — but a pragmatic look at the use and origins of Alternative Facts in real everyday life and scientific endeavor.

  42. Is ‘radiative-convective equilibrium’ an ‘alternative fact’?

  43. How does one get alternative facts?
    1) Partial view of the system. Is light a wave or a particle? Yes.
    2) Different time periods (e.g., for trends).
    3) Deliberate lies or unintentional confusion.
    4) Contradictions that current theory may not be able to resolve (e.g., is antarctica supposed to gain or lose ice mass in the short term?).
    5) Contradictions due to limitations of technology (e.g., trying to measure sea level rise in mm when the ocean surface is never still or measure Antarctic ice mass in a region with constantly changing surfaces due to snowfall and rising and falling regions).

    • Craig Loehle ==> Your #1 could also be “Partial understanding of the system…” as is the case with climate.

      #2 Different Time Periods is often the cause of seemingly contradictory factoids issued from differing viewpoints in the climate debate — this is just a special case of “they are talking about different things”.

      I would not count your #3 “Deliberate lies” as Alternative Facts (as they would not actually be facts).

      Your #4 and 5 are spot on, and are ongoing problems in climate science and many other fields — health and nutrition science, for instance.

    • Earth and earthlings …
      we live life on the littoral,
      Earth’s great continents adrift
      in a world awash with seas,
      crested waves rifting their shores,
      fugitive mists, winds, rain, storms
      we can’t predict more than a day or so out,
      human sapiens, other critters, vegetable life,
      evolving in Darwinian mutating ways; Planet
      Earth, viewed from space, like a snapshot
      from the gods, a shimmering orb
      netted in a cloud haze.

  44. Just thought of a couple other ones:

    ‘Alarmists’ are wrong when they say that the’pause in global warming’ has ended – the recent warming was just due to an El Nino” vs. “There has been a pause in warming since 1998.”

    Perhaps my favorite, although in a slightly different form:

    “We could get down to reasonable debate about the science if those “alarmists” would just stop all that name-calling.”

  45. Trump: ‘Nobody knew health care could be so complicated’

    Hilarious…

  46. Perhaps one at a time, theses alternative facts with trip the filter:

    More, little known “alternative facts.”

    “The global temp records have been fraudulently “adjusted” to hide the pause and thus can’t be trusted.” vs. “There has been a “pause in global warming.”

    • “Karl put his thumbs on the scale.” vs. We are not saying that Karl ‘manipulated data.’”

    • ‘Alarmists’ are wrong when they say that the’pause in global warming’ has ended – the recent warming was just due to an El Nino” vs. “There has been a pause in warming since 1998.”

  47. Denizens,
    My favorite conceptualization of Alternative Facts is illustrated by this well known example. I challenge you to a race, you agree and we race. I leave you behind, choking on my dust as I cross the Finish line.. But, later at the bar I hear you describing to your friends how well you did in a race you had run in that day. “Yep, I was very, very tremendous, I came in second, but that old blowhard John finished next-to-last. Alternative Facts give you plausible deniability in obfuscating reality while telling a selective truth. That’s why politicians, advertising marketers and con-men love them.
    Kip,
    Your Amazon example gets my vote for the worst example I’ve seen in a long time. Let me explain. You write:
    “Let’s look at an example. It has long been considered a fact, and still is by almost all environmental movements, that:
    [T]he Amazon forests are pristine forests, never touched by humans….the rain forests of the Amazon were untouched by human hands before the arrival of European explorers in the 15th century. [The Amazon is] an old-growth forest — primary forest, virgin forest, primeval forest — is a forest that has attained great age without significant disturbance and thereby exhibits unique ecological features and might be classified as a climax community [a biological community of plants, animals, and fungi which, through the process of ecological succession the development of vegetation in an area over time, had reached a steady state].”
    First, that is not a fact, it is a body of assertions, cobbled together without attribution. So, saying it has long been considered a fact gets you off to a bad start. Secondly, in regards to “almost all,” I’d assert, that a vast majority of environmental movements have nothing to do with or assert anything about the Amazon, . Thirdly, to characterize the members of environmental movements as having a monolithic belief in any specific fact or theory is wildly inaccurate. Just as with any political party there is a wide spectrum of beliefs about any issue among the members of any environmental group I am familiar with..
    Fourthly, the first sentence begins with this quote, “The Amazon forests are pristine forests, never touched by humans.” A Boolean search for that phrase gets zero hits. How can that be? I can’t find an Amazonian historian or researcher that has ever asserted this. No Amazon Preservation groups’ website I’ve seen says that. Yet, you claim it is a long accepted fact, believed by most environmental groups. Is this something you read in an Earth Day comic book?
    Fifthly, your questionable quote(s) really goes off the rails when they assert: “untouched by human hands before the arrival of European Explorers in the 15th Century.” The first known European explorer of the Amazon, Orellana, is credited with “discovering” the Amazon in 1541. That’s the 16th, not the 15th century. And he encountered numerous indigenous people living there and wrote about it. That’s not hidden knowledge, it’s been Wikipedified. “De Orellana’s voyages served as partial inspiration for the film “Aguirre the Wrath of God (1972). The BBC documentary “Unnatural Histories,” presents evidence that Orellana, rather than exaggerating his claims as previously thought, was correct in his observations that an advanced civilization was flourishing along the Amazon in the 1540s.” .
    I could go on to delineate your other errors in this example, but feel like I’m beating a dead horse. Let me finish by opining that “Amazon Example” came up lame and was out of the money, with “Reality,” “Alternative Facts,” and “Speculative Supposition” taking Win, Place and Show

  48. Sophistry or drivel?

    And while we are referencing the Ubermensch – there is one fact to remember about teh Donald.

    Hilarious.

  49. What’s wrong with “alternative right”?

  50. Only in America is the liberal name allied to the most illiberal impulses.

    “It is thus necessary to recognize that what I have called “liberalism” has little to do with any political movement that goes under that name today. It is also questionable whether
    the historical associations which that name carries today are conducive to the success of any movement. Whether in these circumstances one ought to make an effort to rescue the term from what one feels is its misuse is a question on which pinions may well differ. I myself feel more and more that to use it without long explanations causes too much confusion and that as a label it has become more of a ballast than a source of strength…

    When I say that the conservative lacks principles, I do not mean to suggest that he lacks moral conviction. The typical conservative is indeed usually a man of very strong moral convictions. What I mean is that he has no political principles which enable him to work with people whose moral values differ from his own for a political order in which both can obey their convictions. It is the recognition of such principles that permits the coexistence of different sets of values that makes it possible to build a peaceful society with a minimum of force. The acceptance of such principles means that we agree to
    tolerate much that we dislike. There are many values of the conservative which appeal to me more than those of the socialists; yet for a liberal the importance he personally attaches to specific goals is no sufficient justification for forcing others to serve them. I have little doubt that some of my conservative friends will be shocked by what they will
    regard as “concessions” to modern views that I have made in Part III of this book. But, though I may dislike some of the measures concerned as much as they do and might vote
    against them, I know of no general principles to which I could appeal to persuade those of a different view that those measures are not permissible in the general kind of society
    which we both desire. To live and work successfully with others requires more than faithfulness to one’s concrete aims. It requires an intellectual commitment to a type of order in which, even on issues which to one are fundamental, others are allowed to pursue different ends.” Hayek – Why I am not a conservative

    Neither progressives or conservatives can be trusted with preserving liberal freedoms. Both give full rein to the authoritarian impulse wee willie bemoans above. But if we look under the hood at progressive ambitions it amounts to re-engineering society and economies – a project that cannot win a popular mandate – and the substance of wee willies whines is only that America has chosen a different authority. Boo hoo.

    • Hayek defined “conservative” and “conservatism” in a way that suited him, and made his liberaltarianism appear to be more justifiable than what those stupid conservatives believed.

      Like all libertarians, he was clueless on the interrelation of morality and liberty. Liberty is after all a moral precept, and a core conservative principle for that very reason. The free market that liberaltarians love (which is the product of conservative principles and practice) has never existed, and will never exist, in an immoral society for any length of time.

      Hayek also was fond of the progressive notion that conservatism means resistance to change, when in fact conservatism is more about the means of change. The United States didn’t embrace change over two centuries (including a war to end the Democrat Party policy of slavery) to become the richest, freest, most just, most powerful country in the history of the world despite conservative principles, but because of them.

      • I am a liberal – although that has a very different meaning to the American one.

        Neither markets nor society will survive
        without laws based on minimising government intervention to that necessary to protect individuals from the unscrupulous or brutal, to defend the commonwealth and to secure communities at times of emergencies.

        Most people are moral – but that is not the business of government. Liberty is given by God and is an absence of government to the extent possible. That – btw – is not an original American sentiment.

        I doubt as well on objective measures that America is as rich, free or powerful as you imagine.

      • “Neither markets nor society will survive without laws based on minimising government intervention to that necessary to protect individuals from the unscrupulous or brutal, to defend the commonwealth and to secure communities at times of emergencies.”

        I love when libertarians try to explain just how simple it all is.

        The entirety of the Soviet communist/socialist system was defended as just that, protecting the proletariate from the evil abuses of the bourgeoisie.

        Abortion, the killing of innocent human beings in the womb, is defended as protecting women from the patriarchy.

        Hitler invaded the Sudetenland to protect ethnic Germans from their Czechoslovakian oppressors.

        You can drive the entire EU bureaucracy with its anti-free market and anti-democratic policies through that facile definition of the role of government.

        “Most people are moral – but that is not the business of government. Liberty is given by God and is an absence of government to the extent possible.”

        Liberty is indeed given by God, and restricted by him also.

        There is a whole list of “Thou shalt nots” in the Bible, that formed the basis for western civilization. We have abandoned them, at the urging of progressives and libertarians alike, to our own detriment.

      • Many libertarians are that because they are moral:

        “Modern libertarians are attitudinally diverse, but all types of libertarianism trace their origins back to the enlightenment thinkers of the 17th and 18th century who argued that states, laws, and governments exist for the benefit of the people. The individual is the unit of value, and the liberty of the individual is the essential precondition for human flourishing.”

        http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0042366

        The way things should be. What should I do? What should others do?

      • You are all over the place as usual Gary. You illustrate Hayeks point perfectly.

        Defending the nation is not invading Poland. Imprisoning rapists and murderers is not exclusively socialist. You’re arguments are absurd beyond belief.

        BTW – Roe v. Wade was decided not on the patriarchy but on constitutional limits to government powers. Lament it all you like but that ship has sailed.

      • “Defending the nation is not invading Poland.”

        First, the Sudentenland was in Czechoslovakia.

        Second, the fact that you disagree with others’ definition of what constitutes protection, and who is deserving of it, is exactly the point.

        You and your fellow libertarians spout what you think are unassailable truths, when they are nothing but facile catch phrases, that can be used to justify just about anything.

        Libertarians didn’t write the Constitution, or the Magna Carta for that matter.

        Libertarians are the philosophical equivalent of a Chinese restaurant. Pick some principles from column A (conservatism), some from column B (progressivism), and some from column C (your own personal preferences. Then pretend you have a coherent philosophy.

      • Again – I am a liberal in a sense that has it’s origins in the Scottish Enlightenment. That this philosophy was coherent enough for the US founding fathers – but not for Gary – tells you all you need to know.

      • Historical illiteracy is not surprising in a discussion with revisionist liberaltarians,

        The American founders were overwhelmingly Christian, and favored the embodiment of Biblical dictates like the Ten Commandments in the law of the land. They were unquestionably what would today be called conservatives, in that they sought to conserve the unalienable rights granted by our Creator that long predated modern governments. They were law and order enthusiasts and nothing like the weak tea of modern liberaltarianism.

        Most of the new states in fact had established state religions, like Virginia, the home of Jefferson, Madison and Washington. They were nothing like the self absorbed liberaltarians of today. Only a federally established church was forbidden by the First Amendment (although most states disestablished their state religions after the Constitution was adopted).

        That is because the American founders favored severe limits on the power of the central government, but felt no need to constrain their own state governments. Which is why the entire Bill of Rights was written to apply only to the federal government.

        The founders would look at modern liberaltarianism, which is really thinly disguised libertinism, and shake their heads.

      • What would the Founding Fathers think of Occupy Irak, GaryM?

      • “Liberalism is an ideology, philosophical view, and political tradition which holds that liberty is the primary political value. Liberalism has its roots in the Western Age of Enlightenment, but the term now encompasses a diversity of political thought.

        Broadly speaking, liberalism emphasizes individual rights. It seeks a society characterized by freedom of thought for individuals, limitations on power, especially of government and religion, the rule of law, the free exchange of ideas, a market economy that supports relatively free private enterprise, and a transparent system of government in which the rights of all citizens are protected. In modern society, liberals favour a liberal democracy with open and fair elections, where all citizens have equal rights by law and an equal opportunity to succeed.

        Many modern liberals advocate a greater degree of government interference in the free market, often in the form of anti-discrimination laws, civil service examinations, universal education, and progressive taxation. This philosophy frequently extends to a belief that the government should provide for a degree of general welfare, including benefits for the unemployed, housing for the homeless, and medical care for the sick. Such publicly-funded initiatives and interferences in the market are rejected by modern advocates of classical liberalism, which emphasizes free private enterprise, individual property rights and freedom of contract; classical liberals hold that economic inequality, as arising naturally from competition in the free market, does not justify the violation of private property rights.

        Liberalism rejected many foundational assumptions which dominated most earlier theories of government, such as the Divine Right of Kings, hereditary status, and established religion. Fundamental human rights that all liberals support include the right to life, liberty, and property.

        A broader use of the term liberalism is in the context of liberal democracy (see also constitutionalism). In this sense of the word, it refers to a democracy in which the powers of government are limited and the rights of citizens are legally defined; this applies to nearly all Western democracies, and therefore is not solely associated with liberal parties.”

        The fundamental right is to determine one’s own course in the light of ones’s own convictions and values. It is also clear that Gary views a democratic accommodation with those who hold other values as moral turpitude. To be denounced and – if at all possible – be proscribed and punished severely. Thus Hayek is vindicated. Freedom to not agree figures little in either progressive or conservative thinking.

  51. My nominee for the Oscar in the Alternative Fact category is a tie. The Oscar goes to Public Opinion Polls.

  52. I thought this post was very interesting. I have definitely seen the outbreak of “fake news” and “alternative facts” on social media during and after the election. I really like the ideas about climate change, that an alternative fact isn’t believing that climate change is big hoax; rather that there are multiple causes and reasons for the problem.

  53. POSTSCRIPT:

    Great discussion and interesting questions, for the most part. Open-mindedly acknowledging that there can be multiple facts that are true that nonetheless seem contradictory to other facts allows science to move forward.

    On the other side of the coin, forcing all new facts, all findings of research, to align with existing accepted facts or to the overriding current theories of a field of study retards or even prevents scientific progress.

    Judging by recurrent themes in the comments, it seems some folks are appalled by the idea that there can be alternative facts at all and some are horrified that there might be equally true but seemingly contradictory facts. I do admit that it can be a bit unsettling for those who feel they must be certain about what is true at all times — that they must have a stable “truth” to believe for every question — and for those with little tolerance for uncertainty. Unfortunately for these folks, the real world fails to cooperate with such demands. Most everything is complicated, complex, grey-scale, not easily defined and subject to contradictory facts.

    Some commenters seem to have mistaken this blog for Politics Etc. and, being slaves to the polarized politics of the day, can speak of nothing else, which is an utter waste of intellectual energy.

    My thanks to Dr. Ciurry for the light editing she did on this essay and for the opportunity to present it here.

    • “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

      The difference between science and any other field is that science has hypotheses that are testable. Relativity was testable – but it was a long time before that was possible. In the meantime there are astonishing leaps of intuition that are not possible without the impetus of irreconcilable ideas.

      Thanks Kip.

    • Geoff Sherrington

      Kip,
      Am having trouble reconciling this from your Postscript with your dictionary definition of fact:
      ” … it seems some folks are appalled by the idea that there can be alternative facts at all and some are horrified that there might be equally true but seemingly contradictory facts. I do admit that it can be a bit unsettling for those who feel they must be certain about what is true at all times — that they must have a stable “truth” to believe for every question — and for those with little tolerance for uncertainty.”

      With — “A fact is something that has occurred or is correct. ”
      Maybe what you are identifying as facts in your Postscipt is not yet fact because it has not been proven that they occurred, or have been shown to be correct.

      Hence my reluctance to use the word “fact” at all for scientific findings.
      Geoff.

      • Geoff Sherrington ==> We are dealing here with the real everyday world, in which things are considered facts on far less than absolute certainty, carefully proven beyond all doubt, to represent ACTUALITY.

        You may be one of the rarer people, who like me, throw everything they are told or read into a mental bin labelled “might be true, might not” — and have mental filing drawers labeled TRUE and NOT_TRUE which are nearly empty.

        The entire scientific endeavor is built upon myriad facts, things believed to be true from evidence to hand. Much of this underpinning of our understanding is actually not strictly true — it is only true to the best of our current understanding. It is invariably NOT TRUE as stated in a single pithy sentence — most things are far more complex and complicated — and many “simple scientific facts” require entire books to be explained carefully enough to approach being strictly true — even then, there are caveats and gotchas left out.

        I have not been discussing deep philosophy here — the nature and essence of TRUTH — which I am happy to leave to the Philosophers of the Ivory Towers. Rather, the pragmatic day-to-day facts that we depend upon to make decisions about the world around us — things that we are sure [enough] about to base our actions on.

        It is because our understandings about the world are less than God-like perfect that we will encounter these kinds of pragmatic facts and alternative facts that seem to us to be contradictory, that seem mutually exclusive. That’s where the Smart Guys and Gals dive in and start rooting about for new insights, better understanding — that’s where science gets interesting and breakthrough discoveries are made.

      • Geoff Sherrington

        Kip,
        While I have long gone along with the every-day realism of what you write, it is also realism that a good deal of climate science has performed badly. In a modest way, my close career colleages and I performed quite satisfactorily, as evidenced by goals met on tough financial objectives. Climate science has I suspect so far been a net drain on Society, spending our net gains as it were.
        My suggestion is that a loose, rather than rigid mental concept of not merely “fact” but also “scientific method” is implicated to some degree.

      • Will Janoschka

        Kip Hansen | March 1, 2017 at 10:01 am |

        “The entire scientific endeavor is built upon myriad facts, things believed to be true from evidence to hand. Much of this underpinning of our understanding is actually not strictly true — it is only true to the best of our current understanding.”

        myriad facts, things believed to be true is never fact, scientific or not, but only extremely sloppy writing\thinking! Your playing ‘loosy goosy’ with the word ‘fact’ or phrase ‘alternative fact’; along with conflation of ideas and facts only damns your claim of ‘journalist’! Only a journalist “enemy of the people” would make such claim!

        “It is invariably NOT TRUE as stated in a single pithy sentence”
        Yet you claim these single pithy are stated “facts”, How sad!

        (Geoff: “Hence my reluctance to use the word “fact” at all for scientific findings.”)
        Indeed! It seems that only “journalists, paid by media, to sell product” are allowed to so twist language, and harm the public!

  54. Will Janoschka

    “The difference between science and any other field is that science has hypotheses that are testable. Relativity was testable – but it was a long time before that was possible. In the meantime there are astonishing leaps of intuition that are not possible without the impetus of irreconcilable ideas.”

    Indeed your irreconcilable ideas, different POVs, are the drive for learning! But such ideas are never Kip Hanson’s so called ‘facts’ or ‘alternative facts’!

    Kip Hansen | February 28, 2017 at 7:42 pm
    “Robert ==> Pleased to see that my message got across…”

    Kip,
    If your message was that a journalist must always mistakenly conflate ‘facts’ and ‘ideas’, in order to promote paid for misdirection\ confusion, than your message got across!!! Your kindergarten example of two different ‘biggers’ though true, is not an example of ‘alternative facts’ as fact itself was never established. Why cover up for intentional brainwashing by the MSM.

  55. Medja messaging, a long tradition …

  56. Pingback: What’s wrong with ‘alternative facts’? | privateclientweb

  57. Some meat for the E in CE. From the article:

    The growth is also the result of far more efficient ways to drill than existed only two years earlier. With oil companies benefiting from lower service costs, Shell reckons it can drill a well today for about $5.5 million, down a whopping 56 percent from 2013. And the new wells, thanks to more powerful fracking techniques, are yielding more barrels than ever.

    The average Permian well now gushes 668 barrels per day, compared to just 98 barrels four years ago, according to government data.

    Shale companies such as EOG Resources Inc. and RSP Permian Inc. are telling investors they will expand oil output by as much as 30 percent in the next two or three years, more than they did in the heydays of the shale boom between 2010 and 2014.

    “The bottom line is we think they can produce as much oil out of the Permian as they want to,” Greg Armstrong, the boss of Plains All American Pipeline LP, told investors in February. “It’s a matter of rigs, just a manufacturing operation.”

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-03/leaner-fitter-faster-u-s-shale-oil-2-0-challenges-opec-again

    • When you see the tactics of anti-petroleum Leftists — doing everything possible to disrupt the efficient allocation of the low-cost energy that has contributed to making America great — you wonder how different the Left is from religious fundamentalists who invade, tear down, deface and destroy the historical artifacts of a culture to erase and rewrite the past.

      • Religious fundamentalists truly believe the tenets of their religion. The left, although it isn’t a homogeneous group, believes their principles are the correct ones. So, I can see your point. They are trying to tear down many aspects of what made the US a great and powerful global force.

  58. Uncertain challenges due to anthropogenic ACO2 emissions caused climate C 6 hange. And S he repeatedly expresses faith in the related promising signs she sees from the new Trump administration

    (provivsional/anonymous Fact 2:

    –snip–
    The Trump administration is seeking to slash the budget of one of the government’s premier climate science agencies by 17 percent, delivering steep cuts to research funding and satellite programs, according to a four-page budget memo obtained by The Washington Post.

    The proposed cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would also eliminate funding for a variety of smaller programs, including external research, coastal management, estuary reserves and “coastal resilience,” which seeks to bolster the ability of coastal areas to withstand major storms and rising seas.
    –snip–

    • The problem here isn’t the “politicization of science” but the de-scientization of politics.

    • “The biggest single cut comes from NOAA’s satellite division, known as the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service, which includes a key repository of climate and environmental information, the National Centers for Environmental Information. Researchers there were behind a recent study suggesting that there has been no recent slowdown in the rate of climate change — research that drew the ire of Republicans in Congress.

      Another proposed cut would eliminate a $73 million program called Sea Grant, which supports coastal research conducted through 33 university programs across the country. That includes institutions in many swing states that went for President Trump, such as the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Michigan, Ohio State University, the University of Florida, and North Carolina State University.”
      http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/ct-trump-climate-science-agency-cuts-20170303-story.html
      Judith should be a proponent for this type of program, but will surely remain silent.

  59. Pingback: What’s wrong with ‘alternative facts’? | OffGuardian

  60. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #261 | Watts Up With That?

  61. Very helpful and well written. Thanks for posting this.

  62. Pingback: What’s wrong with ‘alternative facts’? - Principia Scientific International

  63. Talking about alternative facts.
    At long last Breitbart has reported on and condemned the wave of hate crimes against foreign-looking people and Jews (not). I challenge you to find where they report on this uptick at all, and that goes for other right-wing media too. If a Muslim or a Mexican gets so much as a parking ticket, they will report that. Alternative world.

    • Breitbart does look to be opposed to the Obamacare lite plan, so it must be interesting between Bannon and Trump in the WH at the moment. Lots of Republicans are looking to abort that. Trumpcare is dead on arrival, as they put it. They want more cuts to healthcare coverage than Trumpcare tries to get.
      Meanwhile Trump is MIA regarding tweeting. None for 2 days now. We miss his moments of morning senility.

      • JImD

        If the republicans were smart they would buy struggling twitter and shut it down. That might enable your President to consider and refine his thoughts before he releases them via a more conventional and considered outlet.

        tonyb

      • 3 days of silence now. His handlers seem to have gained control of him.

  64. Ah, so alternative facts, like Scott Pruitt’s claim that C02 isn’t causing global warming, aren’t really just ‘wrong’? How conveeeenient of you to push this line, Kip Hansen. What a mealy-mouthed load of bosh.

  65. Judith Curry is seen as an objective arbiter of the climate science “debate.” She is a hero to skeptics. What does Judith Curry think about Scott Pruitt’s claim that CO2 is not a primary contributor to climate change?

    • Tripp – I’ll add a rider to your pertinent question, if I may?

      Since Rud’s Arctic analogy doesn’t seem to be getting us very far let’s try a different one!

      Do Rud Istvan and Kip Hansen classify Scott Pruitt’s claim as a “fact”, a “factoid”, an “alternative fact” or “fake news”?

    • A post on this will be coming sometime this weekend

      • Judith –

        Make sure that you deal with these contrasting, “alternative facts.”

        Alternative fact # 1:

        At one point in the exchange, Sanders simply asked Pruitt, “Why is the climate changing?” “I’m asking you a personal opinion,” he continued.

        “My personal opinion is immaterial to the job of the…” Pruitt began.

        Alternative fact #2:

        “I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” Pruitt said on the program “

        Interesting how his personal opinion is irrelevant one minute and then another minute forms his basis for determining what is a primary contributor to climate change, eh?

    • Judith Curry is seen as an objective arbiter of the climate science “debate.” She is a hero to skeptics. What does Judith Curry think about Scott Pruitt’s claim that CO2 is not a primary contributor to climate change?

      She probably doesn’t. But just because she has a more reasonable answer, doesn’t mean it’s right.

      Because Pruitt’s claim is correct. Co2 is not the primary contributor, it’s likely not even a minor contributor.

      You guys really need to learn why. I have been explaining it to for 3 month now. Better pay attention.

      Tripp, any relationship to Tony in NC?

  66. Speaking of alternative facts:

    In the early days of 2017, the world was introduced to the concept of “alternative facts” (alt-facts), a term that has quickly became synonymous with a willingness to persevere with a particular belief either in complete ignorance of or with a total disregard for reality. The increasing incidence of alt-facts in the popular and political arena creates a critical conundrum for anyone interested in deliberative democracy, since it is unclear how rational debate can proceed if empirical evidence holds no persuasive value.

    This Article adopts an interdisciplinary approach to both identify and respond to the difficulties associated with contemporary political discourse and discusses a number of important empirical studies that should be consulted by anyone seeking to understand and overcome the challenges associated with a post-truth society. In so doing, this Article hopes to provide lawyers, legislators, journalists and judges with the tools needed to address the unprecedented political, legal and communicative challenges facing the world today.

    file:///E:/Downloads/SSRN-id2918456.pdf

    • Joshua – “Speaking of alternative facts”, here’s a recent article from my shiny new collaborative project that does just that:

      Will Fake News Make America Great Again?

      In answer to the question posed in our title for today, frankly we rather doubt it!

      Here is our preliminary report on yesterday’s “show trial” concerning the Social Cost of Carbon: