Science needs reason to be trusted

by Judith Curry

Two excellent articles about science, facts, and post-factualism.

Sabine Hossenfelder just published a superb essay in Nature Physics, entitled Science needs reason to be trusted.  Subtitle: That we now live in the grip of post-factualism would seem naturally repellent to most physicists. But in championing theory without demanding empirical evidence, we’re guilty of ignoring the facts ourselves.

Most unfortunately, this essay is behind paywall. [read here via readcube]. Here are some excerpts:

I’m afraid the public has good reasons to mistrust scientists and — sad but true — I myself find it increasingly hard to trust them too.

The reproducibility crisis is a problem, but at least it’s a problem that has been recognized and is being addressed. From where I sit, however, in a research area that can be roughly summarized as the foundations of physics, I have a front-row seat to a much bigger problem.

But we have a crisis of an entirely different sort: we produce a huge amount of new theories and yet none of them is ever empirically confirmed. Let’s call it the overproduction crisis. We use the approved methods of our field, see they don’t work, but don’t draw consequences. Like a fly hitting the window pane, we repeat ourselves over and over again, expecting different results. But my issue isn’t the snail’s pace of progress per se, it’s that the current practices in theory development signal a failure of the scientific method.

In particle physics, jumping on a hot topic in the hope of collecting citations is so common it even has a name: ‘ambulance chasing’, referring to the practice of lawyers following ambulances in the hope of finding new clients. What worries me is that this flood of papers is a stunning demonstration for how useless the current quality criteria are. 

Current observational data can’t distinguish the different models. And even if new data comes in, there will still be infinitely many models left to write papers about. The likelihood that any of these models describes reality is vanishingly small — it’s roulette on an infinitely large table. But according to current quality criteria, that’s first-rate science.  The accepted practice is instead to adjust the model so that it continues to agree with the lack of empirical support.

But in the absence of good quality measures, the ideas that catch on are the most fruitful ones, even though there is no evidence that a theory’s fruitfulness correlates with its correctness.

The underlying problem is that science, like any other collective human activity, is subject to social dynamics. Unlike most other collective human activities, however, scientists should acknowledge threats to their objective judgment and find ways to avoid them. But this doesn’t happen.

If scientists are selectively exposed to information from likeminded peers, if they are punished for not attracting enough attention, if they face hurdles to leave a research area when its promise declines, they can’t be counted on to be objective. That’s the situation we’re in today — and we have accepted it.

To me, our inability — or maybe even unwillingness — to limit the influence of social and cognitive biases in scientific communities is a serious systemic failure. We don’t protect the values of our discipline. The only response I see are attempts to blame others: funding agencies, higher education administrators or policy makers. But none of these parties is interested in wasting money on useless research. They rely on us, the scientists, to tell them how science works.

Last year, the Brexit campaign and the US presidential campaign showed us what post-factual politics looks like — a development that must be utterly disturbing for anyone with a background in science. Ignoring facts is futile. But we too are ignoring the facts: there’s no evidence that intelligence provides immunity against social and cognitive biases, so their presence must be our default assumption. And just as we have guidelines to avoid systematic bias in data analysis, we should also have guidelines to avoid systematic bias stemming from the way human brains process information.

Why hasn’t it been taken seriously so far? Because scientists trust science. It’s always worked, and most scientists are optimistic it will continue to work — without requiring their action. But this isn’t the eighteenth century. Scientific communities have changed dramatically in the past few decades. There are more of us, we collaborate more, and we share more information than ever before. All this amplifies social feedback, and it’s naive to believe that when our communities change we don’t have to update our methods too.

How can we blame the public for being misinformed because they live in social bubbles if we’re guilty of it too?

JC note:  I’ve not previous encountered the writings of Sabine Hossenfelder.  I’m now following her on twitter @skdh and also her blog Back Reaction.  Of particular relevance, see her recent article Academia is fucked-up. So why isn’t anyone doing anything about it?

Facts and reason

I also spotted this article in The Guardian from a few months ago by Mark Carnall entitled Facts are the reason science is losing during the current war on reason. Excerpts:

A controversial paper, When science becomes too easy: Science popularization inclines laypeople to underrate their dependence on experts published at the end of last year in the journal Public Understanding of Science, suggests that it’s the rise of science communication (or scicomm) that could be the cause of rising distrust in experts. Use of the word laypeople, aside, could it be that non-scientists, emboldened by easy-to-digest science stories in the media now have the confidence to reject what scientists say, or go with their gut feeling instead? As well as misunderstanding there’s also deliberate pig-headed ignorance for furthering political agendas to contend with too.

This is the disadvantage for science communication. Do you listen to the scientific analysis – which is full of probably, maybe, possibly, roughly, estimated, hypothesised – or do you just agree with someone who sounds convincing and shouts down/shuts down dissenting opinions? Media coverage and bad science communication sometimes gives the impression that scientists are always changing their minds on climate models, whether chocolate or wine will kill or cure you or whether Pluto is a planet or not. This wrongly creates the impression that scientists are a pretty fickle lot.

Despite the reputation for being about facts, there are very few hard facts in nature or science’s understanding of it.

By not flagging up what we don’t know here, we create a false sense of certainty that’s potentially later undermined by a new analysis,  discovery or alternative explanation.

Conversely, does flagging up the limits of our knowledge, as happened with modelling and predicting climate change, undermine the confidence in the scientific method even with unprecedented consensus on whether or not climate change exists?

You can boil the answer down even more to: we don’t know exactly. Science rarely deals with absolutes, but knowing this comes from scientific training. But not knowing exactly is not the same as anyone’s guess is good enough. What we currently know now could be overturned tomorrow with discoveries  or with the use of [new] techniques.

More often than not, the “facts” of science are actually a series of ever-increasing likelihoods. This is why we train students to question every assumption, fact or proposition in science. Check where it came from, go back to the source and critically evaluate the author, the limitations on methodologies and the assumptions made. 

It’s a skill that we all need to keep practising now that “alternative facts” are muddying the understanding of what “scientific” facts are in the first place.

JC reflections

Both of these articles echo themes discussed in my recent Congressional testimony and my thinking about these issues has been enriched by these two articles.

I find this statement by Sabine Hossenfelder to be particularly profound:

Why hasn’t it been taken seriously so far? Because scientists trust science. It’s always worked, and most scientists are optimistic it will continue to work — without requiring their action. But this isn’t the eighteenth century. Scientific communities have changed dramatically in the past few decades. There are more of us, we collaborate more, and we share more information than ever before. All this amplifies social feedback, and it’s naive to believe that when our communities change we don’t have to update our methods too.

My testimony emphasized the perils of groupthink and cognitive biases, and I argued that individual scientists need to fight against this, and that it is particularly difficult when the institutions that support science are rewarding those that are biased.  Sabine argues that its not just about the individuals and the institutions, but the problem derives from the social nature of scientific method in the 21st century.

The idea of  ‘update our methods‘ is very intriguing.  Perhaps Lamar Smith needs a new hearing that is actually on challenges to the scientific method in the 21st century (NOT focused on climate change).

Carnall’s article about scicomms is also very insightful.  The focus on attempting to ‘increase science literacy’ and close the ‘knowledge deficit’ in the public is to attempt to indoctrinate them with facts.  Carnall argues that this is leading to a distrust of science, and I agree.  Educating the public (not to mention students!) about the scientific process, reasoning and critical thinking would be a much better approach.  However, such an approach is of no interest to those who are using ‘facts’ about science to drive a political agenda.

I continue to think that the issues I raised in my testimony go to the heart of the problem, as do these two articles.  I realize that my testimony may have been too esoteric for that audience, but these issues do need to be confronted, both intellectually and in the context of science policy.

242 responses to “Science needs reason to be trusted

  1. Pingback: Science needs reason to be trusted – Enjeux énergies et environnement

  2. Here is another issue with science and facts today. It now needs to consider ‘intersectionality’ -

    Facts that don’t support the latest in race and gender politics aren’t facts

    • yes, social justice is emerging as a huge theme at the March for Science

    • Even the meaning of the word “fact” is suspect today.

      People seem to really believe that a sex change operation actually changes someone’s sex – even when all their cells (except sperm) are XY or all their cells (except eggs) are XX. The fact is that people cannot change their sex with cosmetic surgery and yet this is ignored and treated as non-factual by courts, legislatures and so forth. Don’t even get me started on the different between gender and sex. Courts are just blithely changing the “M” to an “F” on birth certificates and drivers licenses, as if the “M” really changed to an “F” – rather than just how a person feels about themselves. Sorry – it if a fact that an “M” cannot change to a “F” and visa versa – no matter what chemistry you have in your head!

      Other people seem not to understand that affirmative action is racism (that is a fact also).

      This modern world is a strange place.

      • thank you for a note of sanity! 20 years ago, I heard G Gordon Liddy rail against the use of the term Gender vs Sex. At the time I thought he was nit picking. Now I see how prescient he was

      • Pamela Gray

        There is at least one species of fish that are all female except when one changes to a gender capable of fertilizing eggs. When done that fish returns to an indistinguishable female. There are human babies born every month somewhere in the world, and maybe every day, who have unclear genitalia. Sometimes your DNA reality does not match the reality of how you see yourself. This observation is likely common occurrences in the animal kingdom and is not confined to just the human species.

        The real world is not so clear cut as you think.

  3. Roger Knights

    The focus on attempting to ‘increase science literacy’ and close the ‘knowledge deficit’ in the public is to attempt to indoctrinate them with facts. Carnall argues that this is leading to a distrust of science, and I agree. Educating the public (not to mention students!) about the scientific process, reasoning and critical thinking would be a much better approach.

    That’s what Henry Bauer recommends in his books, especially Dogmatism in Science and Medicine. (The Kindle edition is $10 at .) He says that the lens through which the public should view science is through the sociology of science, aka STS.

    • Roger Knights

      Of course, an emphasis on critical thinking should also be prioritized over an excessive focus on facts. BTW, an amusingly impertinent book about science, Science is a Sacred Cow, from 1950, can be got cheap on Amazon, at

    • Educating the public (not to mention students!) about the scientific process, reasoning and critical thinking would be a much better approach.

      Please copy to The Heartland Institute, along with Hossenfelder’s shrewd observation that:

      jumping on a hot topic in the hope of collecting citations is so common it even has a name: ‘ambulance chasing’, referring to the practice of lawyers following ambulances in the hope of finding new clients. What worries me is that this flood of papers is a stunning demonstration for how useless the current quality criteria are.

      The stunning difference between how both public and Congress percieved what Curry & Christy had to say in Heartland’s echo chamber, and what they made of it as it withered under cross examination a few days later in a more public forum has not passed un-noticed.

      • Roger Knights

        “The stunning difference between how both public and Congress percieved what Curry & Christy had to say in Heartland’s echo chamber, . . . .”

        Here’s a link to the schedule and speaker list for the Heartland conference:

        A search for “curry” returns “not found.” So, apparently, Curry wasn’t a speaker at the Heartland conference. (I trust you will applaud my exercise in critical thinking.)

      • I have never attended a Heartland Conference (I suspect that Christy has not, either)

      • Roger, that was OVERLY-critical. You are to avoid that at all costs.

      • Roger – see the New York Times for your info. It has been pre-treated with the proper sort of critical thinking.

      • Roger Knights

        curryja | April 9, 2017 at 5:18 pm |
        I have never attended a Heartland Conference (I suspect that Christy has not, either)

        I didn’t search for “Christie” initially, because I couldn’t believe that RS would blunder so badly as to get both wrong. But apparently he has, because my search just now for his name also came up empty. (But he may have attended earlier Heartland conferences, of course.)

  4. A good example of jumping onto a hot topic, ambulance chasing, getting it wrong and losing public trust has been in the media in the UK for the last couple of days.

    The government’s ex scientific adviser has admitted he got it wrong on encouraging the promotion of diesel cars, leading to serious increases in air pollution.

    The Times says “meeting CO2 targets, which were part of the climate change agenda, was the priority at the time.”

    The Mail is blunter as usual, Diesel drivers pay the price of green zealotry

    • The diesel zealotry was of course cross-EU. Can the UK be leading the way with the mea culpas? The shape of things to come, as Brexit turns out to be driven, not by proud nationalism, but by humble remorse?

      • I think you are on the right track, Brexit had more to do with the people being sick of having their lives micro-managed from Brussels than a sense of nationalist pride.

    • It’s not as if these issues with diesel were not already known. The results were entirely predictable but killing people today to “save” them from an uncertain future seems par for the course in green politics.

      • I recently came across this quote by an environmentalist and scientist who is actually quite thoughtful and not in the least reactionary or supportive of extreme activist agendas.

        “Specifically, the transition to a fossil fuel-free future will cost a lot of people their livelihoods; will suppress economic growth in many parts of the world; and will result in the premature death and continued misery for millions worldwide. From a pragmatic perspective, I can only believe that those millions of premature deaths will be offset by reduced suffering and death for billions of others,.”

        Possibly, he simply did not realize what he was saying. Perhaps he did not realize that he was suggesting genocide on a rather questionable prediction of approaching catastrophe. Perhaps he has a crystal ball that shows a transition from fossil fuel saving more lives in the future than those that will be lost now. Somehow he has decided that lives in the present are worth less than possible future lives. Does he feel it is unimportant, that the death of children today kills all their future generations? How can anyone make the assumption that curtailing fossil fuel use will reduce suffering and death in the future?

    • Paul is referring to sir David king who was chief representative for climate change in the UK govt and general green do gooder.

      Many of us at the time pointed out he was wrong in his zeal to cut co2 by promoting diesel vehicles but he knew better of course. Those who over promote something with such passion lose sight of their scientific integrity. It makes it difficult to believe a whole raft of similar green tinged scientific activists busily promoting agw.


      • tonyb
        Trust is a fragile thing unless one is an american democrat or EU Green. American greens are also blind to the facts around them.

        Those tend to go with the PC claims until the PC shifts and then they shift

        As lawyers used to say, once one is proven a liar, almost all that is said later becomes suspect. Diesel is specially sad because scientists knew the truth prior to the green craze.

        Diesel cuts CO2 but increases small particulates that are dangerous to secondary inhallation in the lungs.

        Go Brexit, hope GB hangs together. Scots have been part for 1000 years.

      • Tony, can you dig out examples of people saying it was wrong at the time?

      • Paul

        This is a good example from which circumstances can be back tracked

        The key dates are 1998 when tony blair thought it a good idea despite concerns and in 2005 when the harm being done was analysed.

        I attended several business meetings around 1999 when a govt minister explained the current thinking and that all in all c02 was less harmful than diesel and they were going to be introducing measures to promote diesel.

        There was a lot of debate, with the chemists in the group being horrified and the hauliers rubbing their hands with glee!

      • Or maybe it’s just my posts that are being blocked.

      • Blocked again lol

        And this really gets to the heart of the science credibility issue, for one scientists need to be the ones explaining their own science, as reporters don’t go into journalism because they are rocket scientists, right?
        But then you also get people like the guy pushing diesel, who most thinking people knew diesel’s spew a lot more black gunk out the exhaust than a car does, and it was an slow persons move.(that should be PC compliant)
        And then there is the still the majority view that co2 linearly adds to temperature. You would think that real scientists, would have considered this point in the last 50 years. But apparently, and I make this based solely on observations, climate scientists aren’t for the most part rocket scientists either.
        No one seem to have even thought they might operate in any other fashion than linearly adding, not even their models failing, and the ever increasing “adjustments” they need to make it look like it’s warming was enough of a clue they had the science wrong. But NO, they double down, again and again, more adjustments, more papers proclaiming the end is nigh.

        Funny, they all say the right words “nonlinear coupled complex systems”, maybe they should have gone into journalism…..

        Oh, I had the “i” word twice

      • micro, my daughter who studied Engineering – Space and Mechanical and was involved in rocketry development and rocket launches says that rocket science is actually very simple, and that the phrase”you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to …” gives a false impression that r.s. is a high level and complex activity.

      • Well Faustino, it’s true that NOW rocket science isn’t as hard as it once was, but that’s mostly because most of the heavy lifting has already been done. (pun intended)

        Back in the early days of rocketry we didn’t have any of the modeling tools we have today, and even if we had we didn’t yet have the knowledge to put into those models. And the early computers of that age were very limited. An early rocket scientist had to be an expert in everything from metallurgy to fluid dynamics just to design fuel pumps that could handle flows several orders of magnitude greater then we had ever needed before. With many of the greatest minds of their generation, much of the work was trial and error. But even then figuring out WHY something failed could involve creating a whole new branch of science from scratch.

        These days were are more into the ‘incremental advancement’ phase of rocket science. But that still takes some major science power. Places like Space X and JPL have the advantage that they can have many specialists in different fields work on a single project.

      • Tony B
        Sir David King

        Yes – he’s the one who states publicly that the only hope for the human race was for “breeding couples to be sent to Antarctica”. Not in the slightest surprising that he was knighted in the UK.

    • The irony is that there is only so much diesel in oil; if you use diesel, someone else must use gasoline.  So Europe used efficient but dirty diesel in its population dense communities, where gasoline and electric would probably be better.  Using gasoline would have left diesel available for more economic uses (shipping, long haul trucking, rail, mass transit) in areas where the pollution impact would be negligible.

      • Nice observations. Correct.

      • @ristvan, wrong.

        Oil refineries can be and are configured to produce more gasoline or more diesel as the market demands.

        — 40-plus years in designing, operating, and optimizing refineries worldwide.

      • Roger,

        aaron: “The irony is that there is only so much diesel in oil; if you use diesel, someone else must use gasoline.”

        Roger: “Oil refineries can be and are configured to produce more gasoline or more diesel as the market demands.”

        That’s a wee bit of an exaggeration. Yes, they can easily tweek the refining process to adjust the fraction produced of diesel or gasoline. But the more tweaking, the greater the cost of the end product.

        To look at the extreme case, converting the output of tar and such to diesel would produce some expensive diesel. Which is why there is often a large trans-atlantic oil product trade: gasolene sent west, diesel sent east. That’s cheaper than converting it in the refinery.

      • to Editor of FM,

        It’s always a pleasure to be corrected by a finance industry guy. Congratulations.

        Please feel free to continue to be as wrong as you like.

        I did pass along your amusing comment to my engineering colleagues. Thanks for the laugh.

        — Roger Sowell, oil refining industry veteran of 40-plus years.

    • Sir David King, then newly anointed “Chief Scientist” claimed that his handling of FMD 2001 was a great triumph for application of science to public policy. Of nothing could be further from the truth!!

      UK FMD Epidemic 2001
      Roger Windsor’s talk, read on his behalf, to the Central Veterinary Society.

      Predictive models and FMD: the emperor’s new clothes?
      R.P. Kitching
      National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease, 1015 Arlington Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3E 3M4
      So how could the control policy for a major disease outbreak be based on models which had never been validated? If the predictions for the number of new variant Creutzfeld–Jacob disease (vCJD) cases in the UK made in the late 1990s had not been sufficient to undermine the credibility of the predictive modellers, surely the FMD experience should have made the modellers appreciate the limitations of their science and accept at least some responsibility for the misery and expense that their models initiated. Predictive modelling has become fashionable but, often without much evidence that it serves any useful purpose, is the science based too much on reputation?

      Carnage from a computer
      WE ARE USED to politicians suppressing the truth. When scientists do it as well, we are in trouble. Not one of the Government’s senior advisers, from Sir David King, the chief scientist, downwards, has yet dared to confirm in public what most experts in private now accept, that the mass slaughter of farm animals in the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak was not only unnecessary and inhumane, but was also based on false statistics, bad science and wrong deductions.
      The mistakes that were made in attempting to control the outbreak are laid bare in a devastating paper recently compiled by Paul Kitching, one of the world’s leading veterinary experts, and published by the World Organisation for Animal Health. It finds that, of the ten million animals slaughtered, more than a third were perfectly healthy; out of the 10,000 or so farms where sheep were killed, only 1,300 were infected with the disease; scientists were wrong to claim that the FMD virus was being spread through airborne infection; the epidemic had reached its peak before the culling began; the infamous 3km killing zone was without justification; estimates of infected premises were little better than guesswork.
      The language used in Dr Kitching’s report has a controlled anger about it. He talks of “a culling policy driven by unvalidated predictive models”, mentions the “public disgust with the magnitude of the slaughter” and concludes: “The UK experience provides a salutary warning of how models [statistics used to predict the course of an epidemic] can be abused in the interests of scientific opportunism.

      Sir David King “Does” Virology
      A Personal View by Dr James Irvine,

      Use and abuse of mathematical models:
      an illustration from the 2001 foot and mouth
      disease epidemic in the United Kingdom
      R.P. Kitching (1), M.V. Thrusfield (2) & N.M. Taylor
      Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is a major threat, not only to countries whose economies rely on agricultural exports, but also to industrialised countries that maintain a healthy domestic livestock industry by eliminating major infectious diseases from their livestock populations. Traditional methods of controlling diseases such as FMD require the rapid detection and slaughter of infected animals, and any susceptible animals with which they may have been in contact, either directly or indirectly. During the 2001 epidemic of FMD in the United Kingdom (UK), this approach was supplemented by a culling policy driven by unvalidated predictive models. The epidemic and its control resulted in the death of approximately ten million animals, public disgust with the magnitude of the slaughter, and political resolve to adopt alternative options, notably including vaccination, to control any future epidemics. The UK experience provides a salutary warning of how models can be abused in the interests of scientific opportunism.

      Following the outbreak of SARS, one thing was certain: Professor Roy Anderson of Imperial College would soon be hitting the headines.

      Instead of letting the experienced Vets who knew what they were doing handle the outbreak, Sir David King and his junk-modeling assistant Roy Anderson shoehorned in leading to disaster.

      I think we should seriously consider the prospect that this was another example of Post Normal Epidemiology. Non- Validated models used to drive Public Policy

    • > The Daily Mail is blunter.

      Nothing blunter than a leading question:

      So will it be the carmakers – still fiddling emissions tests on an industry-wide scale – who are punished for their deceit? Or government advisers and politicians such as Lord Prescott, Neil Kinnock and Gordon Brown, who banged the drum for diesel?

      The fact that carmakers misled scientific advisers is quite interesting indeed, as it is related to what the GWPF peddles daily.

      Yet PaulM omits that bit.

      Cue to Whitehouse’s speech argument for the right to mislead.

      • I humbly apologise for not quoting the entirety of the Daily Mail piece.
        Since you are obviously such a fan of that worthy publication, you might like to read How we were hoodwinked by a green zealot as well.

      • You’re also forgiven for yet again missing the point, PaulM:

        Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Mazda and Mitsubishi have joined the growing list of manufacturers whose diesel cars are known to emit significantly more pollution on the road than in regulatory tests, according to data obtained by the Guardian.

        Wide range of cars emit more pollution in realistic driving tests, data shows
        In more realistic on-road tests, some Honda models emitted six times the regulatory limit of NOx pollution while some unnamed 4×4 models had 20 times the NOx limit coming out of their exhaust pipes.

        “The issue is a systemic one” across the industry, said Nick Molden, whose company Emissions Analytics tested the cars. The Guardian revealed last week that diesel cars from Renault, Nissan, Hyundai, Citroen, Fiat, Volvo and Jeep all pumped out significantly more NOx in more realistic driving conditions. NOx pollution is at illegal levels in many parts of the UK and is believed to have caused many thousands of premature deaths and billions of pounds in health costs.

        You do have the right to miss the point, according to Whitehouse’s Freedom Fighter defense.

        What seems to apply to you and arguably to energy think tanks like the GWPF does not seem to apply to carmakers.

      • 24. If the price of science journalism is for some to tolerate the presence on air or in print of those they think are wrong then that is a price worth paying. If scientists have to debate and repeat themselves, so be it.

        25. Some argue that free speech does not extend to misleading the public by making factually inaccurate statements. But it does. Being able to speak freely without censorship is fundamental to modern liberal democracies and is guaranteed under national and international law. Qualifications are made with regard to libel, slander and defamation and, in some countries, holocaust denial. The important point, and it took millennia and many lives to attain it, is that the freedom of speech principle does not mean that you have to be factually accurate. It is freedom, not accuracy or responsibility that is mandated. If someone says something others deem inaccurate then demand a say, not their silence. Whatever one’s stance one should criticise, highlight errors, make a counterbalancing case if it will stand up, but don’t censor, even by elimination. If this is done, we risk losing something essential to modern life.

        The argument was of course about the right to put views regardless of whether wee willie is convinced the views are wrong.

  5. “More often than not, the “facts” of science are actually a series of ever-increasing likelihoods … why we train students to question every assumption, fact or proposition in science… where it came from, (original) source… critically evaluate the author, limitations of methodologies and assumptions made.” A Bayesian approach where there are substantial uncertainties is a good thing … but the concept of long term projections there are many issue: a) underlying premise is that global temperature must be increasing and man is the cause UNFCCC/IPCC rule #1; b) therefore models used for long term projections are geared on manmade greenhouse gases; c) furthermore, are making millennial scale projections even intellectually honest when we know the models only account for a fraction of possible drivers of climate?. Beyond that I wonder I do not know whether climate forecasters are generally limitations, assumptions, propositions, facts, data? The latest data and analysis on climate sensitivity at the heart of the long term projections teaches that the models do not adequately reflect the latest data and understanding, e.g., Lewis and Curry.

  6. In the news recently: Graphene filter can separate water from salt. An example of game changing technology.

  7. Rewording what Carnall said above : “What we currently think we know will inevitably be overturned or modified tomorrow with discoveries or insights or with the use of new techniques.”
    Science should never be trusted because it hasn’t got final answers. At best, it has working theories.
    An honorable scientist doesn’t ask to be trusted, he/she wants their work to be tested, and verified or refuted. But never trusted, as in accepted as the final word on any subject.
    If you want to compromise science, try combining it with policy advocacy.

  8. Say that I accidentally come across a paper titled “Analysis of alpha-cluster transfer in 16O+12C and 12C+16O at energies near Coulomb barrier.” I can understand most of the words but I have no understanding of what the paper is about. That is the kind of science which is beyond the grasp of the lay person.

    Should however the authors of that paper then go on to say, “Therefore Martians,” the argument enters the area of competence of the lay person. Simultaneously, at that point the scientist becomes just as fallible as anyone else. Claims that “My opinion is better than yours because I know what I’m talking about” don’t cut it. It’s just another form of the appeal to false authority.

    • I have been in Sales and Marketing for 30 years, reasonably successfully.

      One of the guiding principles of my employment (I daren’t call it a profession) is never use ‘industry speak’ because you instantly lose customers when their eyes glaze over.

      The job of a salesman/marketeer, is simply to deliver a message to a layman, be it about a new car, new windows, new development in prophylactics, or advancements in medicine that will ensure one doesn’t run the same risks of surgery our parents did.

      What the scientific community persistently ignore (on this forum, WUWT, Not A Lot of People Know That and innumerable other blogs) on Climate Change/AGW is that the fate of the message is in it’s delivery.

      I am that layman, and I glaze over when I see graphs and charts, long passages of scientific analysis, and comments delving into the minutia of every science imaginable to prove a point that represents 0.0000000001% of the argument.

      For Pete’s sake guys, and I made this same plea on WUWT last night, please stop alienating the public.

      Whilst it’s important you have your debates in scientific shorthand, the community that delivers meaningful messages to laymen like me will be the community that influences public perception most.

      Part of a scientist’s job is to convert their studies and findings into a language people like me can digest. GP’s in the UK (General practitioners, or your family doctor) have got better at this in the last 20 years or so although they and their hospital counterparts still have a long way to go. But it is vital that you deliver your messages in bite sized, digestible chunks, in layman’s terms.

      Then even politicians might understand it.

      And whilst it’s important to avoid ambiguity, the message comes first, the ambiguity can be dealt with later.

      It really frustrates me that there are so many positive messages on the benefits of climate change, but all the sceptical community are determined to do is attack the alarmists.

      Start making positive cases for climate change and utterly ignore the alarmists. Let them do the catching up for a change. The opportunity is here, right now thanks to Brexit and Trump, make the most of it and take some courses in communication.

      Fail to do so and sceptics will always be the victim, the tail end Charlie, the dogs flea.

      • Really – marketing for thirty years and a policeman for many years? Colour me skeptical.

      • Robert,

        I believe that Gregor Mendel wasn’t even a marketer or a policeman. Merely a humble monk.

        I don’t believe that education or salary have been shown to increase anyone’s intelligence – maybe you have evidence to the contrary.

        Do you really think that marketers, policemen or any other group are necessarily incapable of original thought?

        Colour me skeptical.


      • “Then even politicians might understand it.” Too many politicians do not want to understand it, they want to benefit from the power grab that AGW represents. There may be a portion of politicians who do do want to get it right but I suspect they are in the minority. BTW I really like the central point of your post and agree with it. Positive messages almost always gain more converts than contrarian views, even when the contrarian views are correct.

  9. Surely the simpler explanation is that old ditty; ‘Who pays my bread, his song I sing’.
    Scientists are the minstrels of our day. They have specialty organizations whose job is to make their discipline look good to the people who pay the bills. These organizations can’t afford integrity, it would not only remove their perceived influence, it could also result in slashed funding for their discipline. So they parrot the prevailing themes.

    What I can’t understand is why scientists are surprised that no one believes them any more.

  10. There is more to this bit than stated by the author:

    Despite the reputation for being about facts, there are very few hard facts in nature or science’s understanding of it.
    More often than not, the “facts” of science are actually a series of ever-increasing likelihoods. This is why we train students to question every assumption, fact or proposition in science. Check where it came from, go back to the source and critically evaluate the author, the limitations on methodologies and the assumptions made.
    It’s a skill that we all need to keep practicing now that “alternative facts” are muddying the understanding of what “scientific” facts are in the first place.

    The insistence on using “facts” to drive political agendas (or scientific agendas, defending and protecting personal pet hypotheses or broadly accepted consensus-style field-wide biases disguised as “accepted theory”) revolves around the idea that there can be Only One Fact (or set of facts) that are acceptable — invariably “Our Team’s Facts” — and any other conflicting facts must be ruled false and vilified, denigrated and declared to be products of science deniers on the take from vested interests.

    It is pernicious “fact-mongering” that is at fault — science used to be the activity of looking at the facts to understand what is going on. Now it is the activity of declaring which facts may be looked at.

    • One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

      Facts are momentary instruments of debate (or argument) and can always be countered with another ‘fact’.

      The fact is (excuse the pun) facts are in themselves momentary, invariably dispelled the moment they are uttered.

      Someone, somewhere in the world has discovered an alternative to ones fact, so in fact (oops) a fact is never a fact, it remains a hypothesis until a new fact is dispelled the moment one makes it, again.

      • Your statement that a ‘fact’ ca be countered by another ‘fact’ is an indication of the problem

        If this is the case, then either they aren’t both actually FACTS, or the theory that you are using to evaluate them is incorrect.

        If you have your facts and theories correct, then facts fit the theory.

        If your facts are actually correct (verifiable), and they don’t fit the theory, then there is a problem with the theory and it needs o be retired (or at the very least downgraded to an approximation of reality, only valid within a given range, like Newtonian physics have been downgraded)

        But as soon as you start eliminating facts because they don’t match your theories, you are no longer doing science.

        Yes, extraordinary facts require extraordinarily proof, you don’t accept any claimed fact blindly. But if they can be verified, any theory that disagrees with them is known to be wrong.

  11. David L. Hagen

    Why model chaos with scarce data in the era of Moore’s Law?
    Hossenfelder notes:

    “Current observational data can’t distinguish the different models. And even if new data comes in, there will still be infinitely many models left to write papers about. The likelihood that any of these models describes reality is vanishingly small — it’s roulette on an infinitely large table.”

    Sisyphean modeling of chaos
    Moore’s law has been driving super computers. Climate science appears fixated on leveraging computer power by increasingly more detailed climate models. Yet this modeling approach is foundationally flawed by chaos in the atmosphere, ocean, glaciers, solar radiation, and cosmic radiation. Climatic Chaos via Navier Stokes equations is still fundamentally not predicable for lack of computer power, lack of starting data and foundational mathematics/physics. IPCC has made NO progress in narrowing the climate sensitivity range via modeling.
    It is only observational evidence that is finally beginning to constrain sensitivity.
    Instrumentation revolution
    Moore’s Law is also driving instrumentation. We now have 50 MPixel cameras, 250 MPixel chips under development by Canon, and 1 GPixel space cameras. Cell phones with gps systems are multiplying.
    By 2009, Jo Nova reported climate funding had already reached $79 billion.
    Instead of wasting billions on duplicative non-productive modeling, why not spend $10 billion to leverage the Moore’s Law instrumentation revolution and provide much more statistically quantitative data?
    eg Use 3 vertical 50 MPixel cameras spaced 10 m apart.
    Combine with 3 GPS receivers at the vertices. etc.
    The GPS data can be inverted to provide tomographic detail on water vapor in the atmosphere. The separated cameras provide 3d imaging of clouds.
    The USA alone has > 210,000 cell phone towers at $150,000 each. Globally there are at least 4 million cell phone towers
    So consider installing 500,000 systems. That achieves high mass production driving down the cost. It would provide much greater statistical atmospheric water vapor resolution and cloud resolution – where we have the greatest uncertainties etc.

    • Hagen ==> No advance will eliminate the chaotic behavior of natively non-linear equations — thus numerical climate models will forever be churning out projections that span the entire area between the models boundaries — some of which may reach infinity in some planes.

      • David L. Hagen

        Kip Hansen I agree.
        Thus my recommendation to shift $ billions from fruitless modeling to high volume accurate quantitative measurement sufficient to actually track how climate is actually changing!

  12. “Last year, the Brexit campaign and the US presidential campaign showed us what post-factual politics looks like”.

    This meme is of course itself an example of groupthink among liberals.

    Post-fact politics was going on long before 2016. The EU itself is an example of post-fact politics. The eurocrats don’t care about political or economic reality, the show must always go on, ever forwards. Hence the disastrous euro and resulting youth unemployment rates over 40% in Spain, Italy and Greece. It is because the British people finally figured out that the rhetoric was ever further from the reality that they voted to leave. The remain campaign relied almost entirely on absurdly confident projections about the dire consequences of leaving, many of which have already been proved wrong, and on threats that were not in the event carried out.

    The situation with Trump is similar I think, though not in every detail. I know less about it.

    The architects of these failed policies have an infernal cheek to accuse those who finally found them out and called their bluff of post-truth politics.

    • Thanks, Gareth, that’s a neat way of explaining it. The Brits should be eternally thankful that they had the opportunity to vote before the cement fiinally set. But there’s still a long way to go.

    • That one turned me sour too.
      Yes all you learned ones, those of us that hate globalism and were fooled by Trump, need you to figure it and lead us away from darkness,
      You never should have allowed your Climate Bible to be translated from the Latin.

      I think you scientists should found a new Vatican, Boston the obvious choice, where you could create a great list of sanctified ‘facts’ to bestow upon us.

      You already have shown your potential for rivalry and intrigue that, with practice, could put the Borgias to shame,

      • Agreed, rebelronin. In the time of the Borgias the faithful paid their priests to get their ancestors out of Purgatory. Now we pay our priests to protect our descendants from climate hell. There is no evidence that either actually exists but to question is to sin.

  13. We have learned what happens when issues of science become issues of Left vs. right thinking–i.e., I think we all now realize that the Leftists/liberal hatred of Americanism has turned industrialization into a paralyzing Tower of Babel and English into a liars language.

  14. “The underlying problem is that science, like any other collective human activity, is subject to social dynamics.”

    Absolutely. And there has been some reasonable grasp of those dynamics for decades, so we have an idea of what is generally going to happen. Albeit with less or more constraints depending on the particular domain / circumstances, competitive evolution of narratives takes place, with selection criteria unrelated to veracity and linked to psychological hot-buttons, which in less constrained cases leads to emergent structure such as policed consensuses, tribal alliances and oppositions. This will be the case where there is high uncertainty and inadequate real-world feedback (for whatever reason) over a long period.

    “If scientists are selectively exposed to information from likeminded peers, if they are punished for not attracting enough attention, if they face hurdles to leave a research area when its promise declines, they can’t be counted on to be objective.”

    And these are only a part of the influences on selection, as may occur in a relatively bounded domain such as particle physics that has low perceived social impact. In domains where there is a high perceived social impact, co-evolving narratives with the highest emotive punch (typically both +ve and -ve in tandem, e.g. apocalypse + salvation) have the highest selective value, and the social dynamics will spill out into large swathes of the public, so then many more scientists (in both related and unrelated domains) plus policy makers and politicians too, who are embedded within that public.

  15. The emotion of climate change can do a number.

    There’s certainly the monetary incentive of greed( fossil fuel money or a perpetual government contract ).

    But the presumed harmful climate change impacts inspire both anxious fear as well as fear of complicity by standing in the way of preventing harm. There’s probably also fear of more and more centralized power, which is implicit in the response to any actual global problem.

  16. Can someone please explain to me, in layman’s terms, the scientific process?

    Yep, I could look it up, but I’ll end up on Wikipedia (which I don’t trust, my spell-checker wanted to replace it with ‘Windpipe’) or have it explained by someone with no respect for a layman asking a genuine question.

    Much obliged.

    • Hot Scot, here’s some thoughts on science as knowledge. Hint, it presumes the existence of reality independent of ideas of yours or mine.

      • Sorry Ron. As an uninformed sceptical observer, from the first paragraph I was hit with a wave of unscientific political propaganda no better that the propaganda delivered by the alarmists.

        The flow chart was great, nothing new to me, but interesting. I was expecting something dramatic from the oft lauded ‘scientific process’

        And I’m sorry if that sounds mean, I don’t want it to be, someone has put a lot of work into that blog, but it’s only going to attract one customer, the same sceptic that read it yesterday. It won’t convert anyone.

      • Good luck in your in your search.

    • I did a rather thorough explanation, including ‘degrees’, with examples and citations, in the opening Chapter of The Arts of Truth.
      Al Hazan’s scientific method explanation is the simplest and earliest. Hypothesis: light beams are straight in the Euclidean geometry sense. Experiment: stir up dust inside a mosque at noon. The light from the window slits reflects off the dust. We observe light beams are straight. Hypothesis confirmed. Else not.
      Feynman’s is the second simplest and latest. No matter how clever your idea (hypothesis), if its predictions do not conform to subsequent experiments it is wrong. (Essence of Karl Popper).
      But HotScot, I suspect you knew that.

      • Steven Mosher

        Except feynman didn’t practice science that way.
        Theory of solar neutrino production did not match the experimental results. Feynman’ s response was that there was nothing wrong with the theory and he simply dud not know why the data didn’t match. The discrepancy existed for decades until they figured out the data was the ultimate cause. Further, read up on the early experiments that “showed” Einstein was wrong about browning motion… until the observations were shown to be wrong.

      • ristvan,

        I have enormous respect for your education and your professional life, but I’m sorry, I can’t understand you.

        I’m a bog standard, run of the mill layman. I haven’t a clue who Al Hazan was, so I looked him up

        “Islamic scholar Abu Ali al-Hassan Ibn al-Haytham (ca. 965-1041), known in the West as Alhazen, began his career as just another Islamic polymath. He soon got himself in trouble with the ruler of Cairo by boasting that he could regulate the flow of the Nile with a series of dams and dikes. At first glance, it had looked like such a simple problem. But the more he studied it, the more impossible it seemed. Al-Hakim, known to his subjects as the Mad Caliph with good reason, was getting impatient. Alhazen only saw one way out: he pretended to be crazy. Safely confined as a madman until the caliph’s death ten years later, Alhazen continued to work.”

        Well the pretending to be a crazy scientist certainly rings true with some in the climate science fraternity, on both sides.

        I have no clue what “Euclidean geometry sense” is, and like most laymen, I have looked up Alhazen and have now lost the will to live. So looking up, never mind stitching together two concepts, from two brilliant minds is way beyond my limited intellectual capacity.

        Feynman and Popper are now mist before my eyes as I know any further pursuit of the scientific method is fruitless.

        My only conception of the scientific process is that of my background when I was a policeman in Glasgow, Scotland.

        Evidence, both physical and circumstantial. Corroboration, witnesses, alive or otherwise. Motives, accomplices, and their motives. Forensics, and the minutia of the detail, hairs and sperm residue, where, how, quantities, contamination, cross contamination from other participants. Blood and it’s usually multiple cross contamination in violent cases where there were frequently multiple participants etc. etc.

        It was arduous, painstaking, agonising work, on several cases simultaneously, on a rolling basis, year after year. Each one uniquely different, across numerous crimes, never with one thing in common, other than perhaps the final outcome.

        Now, whilst we knew the final outcome, unlike climate alarmist’s, as did the jury of laymen judging the accused, We had to make a balanced case, as best we could to establish the guilt, or innocence of an individual.

        More than that, the entire court, both prosecution and defence, had to present their case in a language the most humble juror could understand, without seeming condescending.

        Our collective, abiding belief was that the most humble individual amongst that jury was probably the least bigoted.

        And the point of all this? To illustrate to those of you far more conversant with science than most of us are, that perhaps the objective of the scientific method is the ability to explain to a humble man a complicated matter.

        My belief is that anyone with any type of education, no matter how basic, is morally obligated to communicate at a common level.

        I’m not getting that from the sceptical side of the debate. That’s where the alarmists have outflanked us all.

      • I’d guess that light beams are straight in the sense that they travel the shortest distance between two points – and not that they are not gay. It’s not strictly true in that they can be bent sometimes.

        But you may prefer the investigative model of science – less certainty and more uberty. Sorry – it’s my new word.

      • Steve: How many times are you going to repeat this misleading story about the theory of solar neutrinos being correct and observations of solar neutrinos being wrong?

        Theory said that a certain number of electron neutrinos should be produced by the sun and we observed fewer neutrinos than expected. Theory also said that massless electron neutrinos couldn’t convert to tau and muon neutrinos that were known to be harder to detect. The THEORY of massless neutrinos was wrong. Our detectors correctly counted the electron neutrinos from the sun, but not the other neutrinos they changed into on the way from the sun to the earth. The observations of electron neutrinos were right, but the interpretation of those observations (as invalidating conventional solar physics) was based on an incorrect theory. – that neutrinos were masses and therefore couldn’t interconvert.

      • Hotspot
        In full agreement. It is not that the layman is any less capable, it’s just that we don’t speak the same language. There is always talk of science being available to the voting public, but it is rarely practiced.

        I look back at Al Gore,s movie – they did it right and are still communicating in simple terms.

      • HotScot, your court room experiences are pretty much how science should be carried out, with diligence and integrity. The big difference is that there is no trial as such. Instead there is “publication in a peer-reviewed journal”. Here the judge and jury are the journal editor (the judge) and the reviewers (generally two – the jury). The reviewers are usually working scientists. As such they usually have a vested interest in seeing that any ideas that conflict with their own never see the light of day. Furthermore, the editor is free to chose the reviewers as he sees fit so that his biases come into it as well. Remember too, all the participants are often in competition for funds from the same pot and that career advancement of the author depends entirely on being published in this way. This system worked well in the days when scientists were all jolly decent chaps who made sure that everyone got a fair go (like Darwin and Wallace) but those days are long gone.

    • “Can someone please explain to me, in layman’s terms, the scientific process?”

      You will get exactly as many different answers to that question as the number of people you ask. Here is my answer to that kind of question.

    • Curious George

      An old-fashioned farmer did not believe that the Earth rotates: “Look, I’ll jump straight up, and I fall back to the same place. Should the Earth rotate, it would move while I’m up in the air.”

      That’s a perfect example of a scientific process at work – in this case, proving that the Earth does not rotate. An additional effort is needed to show that this experiment does not disprove the rotation. To positively prove the rotation, more is needed – a Foucault pendulum, for example.

    • I can say what the science process is not. When you see a result you dislike for some reason, you don’t go looking for the emails of all the scientists involved. That is conspiracy ideation, not science. Instead you need to get the data and see for yourself how it was used to arrive at the conclusion or independently do your own investigation with the data. That is the scientific way. We have examples of both in recent times. Smith and Muller/BEST set the examples of these extremes.

      • Obviously a more direct contrast to Smith was Hausfather and co, as both reacted to Karl’s paper in different ways. I mentioned Muller in the context of Climategate, as his effort came out of that, where people were doubting Phil Jones, and Muller independently made the same case as Jones had about long-term global warming. Similar efforts have later improved on Mann’s hockey stick with independent paleo data.

      • To start with – the surface record is a complete nonsense for climate monitoring – and incremental adjustments is a task for complete nitwits. It captures 3% plus or minus of the global energy content – the percentage varies with soil moisture – it says absolutely nothing on its own about the globe except that the energy balance is positive and negative at different times. With soil moisture there is a whole sub-genre in soil science.

        With this final correction, the ERBS Nonscanner-observed decadal changes in tropical mean LW, SW, and net radiation between the 1980s and the 1990s now stand at 0.7, 2.1, and 1.4 W/m2 , respectively, which are similar to the observed decadal changes in the High-Resolution Infrared Radiometer Sounder (HIRS) Pathfinder OLR and the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) version FD record but disagree with the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) Pathfinder ERB record. Furthermore, the observed interannual variability of near-global ERBS WFOV Edition3_Rev1 net radiation is found to be remarkably consistent with the latest ocean heat storage record for the overlapping time period of 1993 to 1999. Both datasets show variations of roughly 1.5 W m2 in planetary net heat balance during the 1990s.

        Focusing on the surface makes no sense and has no meaning without understanding the global energy budget. The energy imbalance is seen in the ocean heat – and the contributions to change in the energy changes at TOA. The early satellite data says that natural variability due to climate regime feedbacks are far greater than increases in CO2. The more stable and precise 21st century equipment says something less dramatic but shows that most variability is quite natural.

        The top-of-atmosphere (TOA) Earth radiation budget (ERB) is determined from the difference between how much energy is absorbed and emitted by the planet. Climate forcing results in an imbalance in the TOA radiation budget that has direct implications for global climate, but the large natural variability in the Earth’s radiation budget due to fluctuations in atmospheric and ocean dynamics complicates this picture.

        There are whole swathes of science routinely neglected in favour of re-examining the entrails of the surface temperature record. But don’t blame Jimmy D too much – he is just one of those useful whatchamacallits.

      • The surface and the ocean heat content are two of the three pieces of the global energy budget equation. The surface temperature is used as a proxy for outgoing longwave because of its proportionality and the OHC rate of change is the imbalance. So you only would ignore the surface temperature if you are ignoring the forcing and response questions.

      • Jim, are you suggesting that BEST do science?

      • Ask Judith. She was involved in the methodology.

      • Jim, I’m asking you.

      • That’s fine. You won’t care what I say, but you might listen to Judith. Here’s a quote from her on this blog in 2011 just after BEST was released.
        “I am honored to have been invited to participate in this study, which I think was conducted very well.”

      • Jim, you do me a grave disservice. I am very interested in what you say. Even more so when you speak for yourself.

        Back to my question. Is what BEST is doing science?

      • The simple answer is yes.

      • Thanks Jim. What hypothesis are they testing and what falsifiable predictions have they made? Those are pre-requisites to distinguish science from mere data fiddling are they not?

      • No science is also about collecting data on which hypotheses can later be based. With no data, you have no hypotheses. Where would Einstein be without the Michelson-Morley experiment? Arguably half of science is data collection. In some scientific fields like biology and astronomy, it is most of it.

      • Let me just check that I understand your position Jim. BEST have not yet formed a null hypothesis or produced any falsifiable predictions but collection of data means that they have been doing science. Is that right?

        That’s a very broad and inclusive definition. You may find that some biologists and astronomers will take issue with you but the data fiddlers will be delighted.

      • You seem to think that if there is no null hypothesis, there is no science. How about the hypothesis that the global temperature changes and getting data to measure that in the most accurate way? What about launching missions to other planets? Science or not? Science in large part is discovery by measurement or observation, and often produces surprises that require explanation. That is a critical part of making progress. Don’t downplay the importance of measurement and observation in science.

      • I wasn’t aware that BEST launches missions to other planets Jim. Houston, we have a problem.

      • Exactly right. Measurements and missions aren’t the same thing. Very sharp observation there.

      • Thanks Jim. Science and what BEST are doing aren’t the same thing either.

      • How about the satellite temperature people? More to your liking? Why?

      • It’s easy Jim. Null hypothesis? Falsifiable predictions?


      • Observations don’t count as science then by your definition. A lot of Nobel Prizes have been given discoveries that you would not call science by your peculiar definition.

      • Jim, name one of these Nobel Laureates you refer to.

      • Take your pick. Many are for discoveries such as the cosmic background radiation or accelerating expansion, based on observations. Many others are for developing methods or instruments for observing things. No null hypothesis needed for any of that type of scientific advancement.

      • Many are for discoveries such as the cosmic background radiation or accelerating expansion, based on observations.

        Both of these were hypotheses that were confirmed later by measurement.

        And when I was about 10, I was all into stars and stuff, and I heard about the big bang, I imagined that with a big enough telescope, and could look really far, we should still be able to see it. Now I suppose it was on the news because it had recently been found, but I don’t remember that. But I do remember thinking we should be able to see it.
        But you realize, they spent months thinking it was noise, trying to make it go away. It was only after they heard that there was a theory where it might be microwave that they put 2 and 2 together and contacted those people, and the rest is history. Although you did just butcher out the whole theory part.

      • The discoverers didn’t have a hypothesis. They went to theoreticians for that. All they did was the measurement, ruling out local or spurious sources. Similarly with the accelerating expansion. All they set out to do was better measure how the expansion rate was changing. Accuracy was the goal, not a hypothesis. Observations and measurement are part of science, even if it is just getting a better number for something (as BEST set out to do). No hypothesis needed.

      • His original solution contained a constant term, called the cosmological constant, which cancelled the effects of gravity on very large scales, and led to a static universe. After Hubble discovered that the universe wasexpanding, Einstein called the cosmological constant his “greatest blunder.” Same as the big bang was theorized to have a remnant that should still be visible.

        “The accidental discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation in 1964 is a major development in modern physical cosmology. Although predicted by earlier theoretical work around 1950, it was first discovered accidentally by American radio astronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Woodrow Wilson as they experimented with the Holmdel Horn Antenna.”

      • Indeed. Science arguably proceeds more often by surprising observations than by just testing hypotheses.

      • Agreed, that’s just exactly what I found here

      • So far you have only fooled yourself with that one.

      • Let’s see who am I going to believe, you who doesn’t know this (41 from beginning to end of 2nd paragraph if 41.2), and make a note that he says the equations are the same as the ones used in tuned electrical engineering circuits , that I learned and made my living with them, including over 10 years where I had to be able to model and correctly simulate any circuit the customers engineer came up with.

      • OK, so where does he say something is wrong with the physics?

      • What? If you want to know what he thinks, read it until you understand it.

      • That was what I was doing in Md, when I got a part time job designing a semi custom integrated circuit for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

      • Jim, yet again you have made a statement and can’t back it up.

      • That was your statement about needing a null hypothesis to define it as science, not mine. It was wrong as you just discovered, or you continue to refuse to count these Nobel Prizes as doing science. Not sure which because you didn’t say.

      • Jim, yet again you have made a statement and cannot back it up.

        Over and out.

      • People can read this thread for themselves.

      • What’s it take to invalidate the hockey stick.

      • They improved it. It is now extended back thousands of years, and the warming rate of the last century still is ten times larger than anything in the record. The skeptics were sad.

      • Just because you can imagine it Jimmy doesn’t mean it’s real.

      • Your own picture shows it is real. I don’t know how a skeptic looks at that and says “nothing to see here, move on.” It must be a gift.

      • It takes a lot to see PAGES2k as a hockey stick…

      • You only have to compare the rate in the last century versus the rate in the last few millennia for those who show the global average. It was about 20 times, and in the opposite direction. That would be a hockey stick, unless you want to redefine that shape.

      • JImD

        Don’t forget that Phil Jones had an epiphany in 2006 when he admitted that natural variability was far greater than had previously been thought. I have cited you the relevant paper several times.


      • By far greater, maybe it is +/-0.2 C in decadal averages, which is still peanuts compared to what we have seen and will see from GHGs that is an order of magnitude larger. The epiphany for the skeptics was BEST where they tried to falsify Jones, but only could confirm it.

      • Experts are convinced that the warming can only be explained by rising greenhouse gases from human activity and rule out the impact of natural variations, such as the sun’s intensity. “Our climate models show we should be getting warmer and drier weather in the summer, and warmer and wetter in the winter, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing,” said Phil Jones, director of the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia. “I cannot see how else this can be explained.”

      • It is an odd contradiction from JCH fas someone so invested in Pacific Ocean warming.

        The observed global warming of the past century occurred primarily in two distinct 20 year periods, from 1925 to 1944 and from 1978 to the present. While the latter warming is often attributed to a human-induced increase of greenhouse gases, causes of the earlier warming are less clear since this period precedes the time of strongest increases in human-induced greenhouse gas (radiative) forcing. Results from a set of six integrations of a coupled ocean-atmosphere climate model suggest that the warming of the early 20th century could have resulted from a combination of human-induced radiative forcing and an unusually large realization of internal multidecadal variability of the coupled ocean-atmosphere system..

        Interdecadal 20th century temperature deviations, such as the accelerated observed 1910–1940 warming that has been attributed to an unverifiable increase in solar irradiance (4, 7, 19, 20), appear to instead be due to natural variability. The same is true for the observed mid-40s to mid-70s cooling, previously attributed to enhanced sulfate aerosol activity (4, 6, 7, 12). Finally, a fraction of the post-1970s warming also appears to be attributable to natural variability.

        It all depends on which science is denied. I don’t deny the IPCC summaries – I just don’t believe them. And the way models are misrepresented – the words models and belief don’t belong in the same sentence. There are ways to use models as something other than a scientific fraud – and there is the way the IPCC uses them.

      • JCH

        “This from a 2005 paper by Jones and Briffa [link] about the very warm period noted in old records and especially CET;

        ” The year 1740 is all the more remarkable given the anomalous warmth of the 1730s. This decade was the warmest in three of the long temperature series (CET, De Bilt and Uppsala) until the 1990’s occurred. The mildness of the decade is confirmed by the early ice break-up dates for Lake Malaren and Tallinn Harbour. The rapid warming in the CET record from the 1690s to the 1730s and then the extreme cold year of 1740 are examples of the magnitude of natural changes which can potentially be recorded in long series. Consideration of variability in these records from the early 19th century, therefore, may underestimate the range that is possible.”

        Mind you, if he had not semi retired and currently corresponding with me about an article on winds, he would no doubt be scratching his head about the winter just past which, though mild, was notably dry, thereby contradicting their models.


      • Research into the mechanisms for the global warming slowdown or “hiatus” of 1998–2013 is reviewed here. Observational and modeling studies identify tropical Pacific sea surface temperature variability as a major pacemaker of global mean surface temperature (GMST) change, as corroborated by the GMST increase following a major El Niño event. Specifically, the decadal cooling of the tropical Pacific contributes to the recent global warming hiatus. This tropical Pacific pacemaker effect appears larger for decadal than interannual variability, but the decadal effect remains to be quantified from observations. Our critical review of the literature reveals that the internal and radiatively forced GMST changes are distinct in pattern, energetics, mechanism, and predictability. In contrast to greenhouse gas-induced warming that is spatially uniform in sign and driven by energy perturbations, internal variability in GMST is an order of magnitude smaller than spatial variations, for which ocean-atmosphere interaction is of first-order importance while planetary energetics is not. In fact, decadal variability in GMST is poorly correlated with net radiation at the top of the atmosphere, highlighting the need to distinguish internal and forced GMST change in planetary energy budget. While the planetary energy budget can now be closed observationally over multi-decadal periods, the recent hiatus highlights the need and challenges to measure and quantify decadal changes in both global ocean heat uptake (e.g., for the effect of radiative forcing on the hiatus) and heat redistribution in the ocean. Hiatus research has led to a wide recognition of the importance of internal variability for GMST trends over a decade and longer. The strengthened connection between the climate variability and change communities is an important legacy of hiatus research.

      • You have to actually provide the data sources and name the citations – not just verbiage. Not worth playing otherwise. Making up stuff on the fly is just too tedious.

        Just one more thing though on balances at toa – they need to be at toa. It includes shortwave Jimmy D. Indeed the major changes seem to be in shortwave from cloud radiative changes. Greenhous gas induced changes in radiative were some 0.666W/m2 over the entire period of late century warming – as opposed to 1.5W/mw2 from clouds in the 1990’s.

        Reexamination of the Observed Decadal Variability of the Earth Radiation Budget Using Altitude-Corrected ERBE/ERBS Nonscanner WFOV Data

        Here’s Argo again. A little cooling – I presume from 1998 in the Josh Willis record – and a little warming.

        The warming in recent years is also overwhelmingly from declining cloud cover during El Nino. A phenomenon that has been noted many times.

        The recent warming is a result of decreased global albedo from reduced cloud cover.

        It just doesn’t get any more obvious.

      • It’s Sp Xie… a momentary CargoCult Etc. favorite.

      • jimd

        We can see that the greatest change upwards of 0.5c happened over 300 years ago

        see figures 3a and 3b

        the current rate of warming is not at all unusual when looking at the extended near 400 year record. We can also observe that temperatures have been rising for some 350 years -confirmed by instruments, observations and such proxies as bore holes and in your own links.

        the giss upwards tick from 1880 should not therefore be seen as happening at the end of a long decline. The upwards tick is very long lived


      • That is for a small region. By the time you average it globally, you might get 0.2 C out of it unless somewhere else canceled it completely. These small-area points are useless unless you can find somewhere far from it (e.g Greenland or Antarctica, preferably both) that did the same thing at the same time. Easy to be misled by one point, but three separated points, and it may be something.

    • Steven Mosher

      Simple HotScot.

      You were a policeman.

      You find a dead woman. If you are lucky you have a list of suspects,
      or probable suspects. The husband, the lover, the mad serial killer
      on the loose. The strange kid living in the building.

      Your partner thinks it’s the husband. You work to eliminate him.
      He has an alibi. His blood doesnt match that found at the scene
      of the crime. You track down the lover, he was out of town and can
      prove it. The strange kid in the building, his finger prints are on the
      outside of the door, but none on the inside. His blood doesnt match.
      Maybe he had a friend helping him, your partner suggests.. You
      look into that. All the time, ruling out ruling out, and also ruling

      The serial Killer. He’s never been wounded at a scene. You dont
      have his blood type. but the method of killing is the same.
      Your partner suggests maybe a copy cat killer. After all, he’s never
      been wounded before at a scene.

      But you can’t rule out the serial killer. Lots of clues match. You have
      a foot print that matches the same size shoe from a previous case.
      Its a Tuesday. he always kills on tuesday. She was strangled with
      what appears to be a nylon rope. The fibers match a previous scene
      but the rope is common.

      You reason to the best evidence: You have ruled out the usual suspects.
      Nothing rules out the Serial killer, except this would be the first time
      he was injured at a scene.

      Your skeptical partner suggests that maybe the strange kid had a helper
      He mentions that many people die that cant be traced to the serial killer. he suggests it might be a copy cat.

      You start to wonder if your partner works for the defense, or maybe
      he is the serial killer, because after all your work eliminating the
      usual suspects and despite all the evidence pointing at the serial
      killer, he still wants to putz around chasing unicorns.

      Then he tells you that since you cant be sure, there is no need to alarm
      the public.

      At some point you decide he is arguing just for the sake of arguing and not trying to actually build the best case possible, by eliminating
      the suspects it cant be, and reasoning to the best evidence.

      You dont decide who killed the woman. As always you present everything
      you know. The evidence for, the evidence against.

      At some point if you are really good you predict where the killer
      might show up, and you stake out the place to catch him.

      In some ways the BEHAVIOR you engage in is similar to a scientists.
      you have your ideas, but you methodically work to prove yourself wrong.

      Your partner? who knows maybe he’s in denial about the job of a cop.
      People could die of course while he prattles on about maybe it was
      this person or that person..

      • No Mosshher the Great and Powerful, what you have described is not science. It’s not how detectives work either but that is beside the point.

        Science requires reasoning but not all reasoning is science.

      • “You find a dead woman. If you are lucky you have a list of suspects,
        or probable suspects.”

        Yeah, whenever a dead body shows up with a bit of luck there’s a list of suspects tied around the big toe.

        I mean wtf has this person never heard what detectives actually do?

      • > Science requires reasoning but not all reasoning is science.

        Inference to the best explanation is pervasive in science, Forrest.

        Ask PhilJ for examples. I’ve seen him recently. In the same thread you commented, which was a first I believe.

      • @Stephen Mosher

        Sorry mate, with the best will in the world, you have read too many crime thrillers.

        What did make me chuckle was:

        “Your partner thinks it’s the husband. You work to eliminate him.”

        errrrrrrrrrrr………..not sure whether I would work to eliminate the husband or my partner. :)

        Police investigations do not work as you seem to imagine. It is a team process and rarely do clues come from random conjecture dreamed up by a partner. Frequently, cops work alone.

        “You start to wonder if your partner works for the defense”

        No, sorry, this really is the stuff of novels.

        Coppers, like most scientists, firemen, nurses, doctors etc. engage in the profession they have a passion for. I didn’t, at first, but it very quickly became a passion for me because of the inherent, underlying truth involved in the job.

        It was, unfortunately, riven by political machinations, very rarely corruption, however.

        I actually suspect climate science is much the same. Most scientists involved in the process are, largely, honourable. They are, however, often caught up in political machines they have no means of getting out of.

        I strongly suspect the sceptical side of the debate is far less susceptible to political interference than the alarmist side…….for the moment.

    • HotScot
      The scientific process –
      Construct an explanation.
      Measure and calculate
      Write it up
      and most important of all …
      make ALL your measurements and calculations available for criticism and review.
      Then suck it up and take the arrows that come your way.

      Your question stems from the fact that the academic and social establishment has decided that the process can only be practiced by those that they have ‘certified’ to do so.
      And only they can define and approve it.
      The internet has caused this authority to be challenged by the likes of you and me.
      You just noticed a problem with the Emperor.
      That’s what this post is about,
      How can the learned ones get the genie back in the bottle.
      (Peasants like us mix metaphors ’cause it’s fun.)
      Please ask another fundamental question and make them squirm.
      Their Kung Fu is not as strong as they want you to think.

    • HotScot: Can someone please explain to me, in layman’s terms, the scientific process?


      I read your other posts. Some algebra, geometry, or mechanical experience are required. Scientists themselves dispute the relative importance of hypothesis-testing and tabulation/induction. Philosophical, historical, and biographical studies reveal a lot of variety and what might be called “grey areas”.

      • @matthewrmarler

        Was I any less a scientist, when I was a policeman, that one with a Phd in physics? I know little of “algebra, geometry, or mechanical experience” yet I followed a process that actually had an immediate impact on the life of another, or others.

        My authority to deprive an individual of their liberty (arresting them) was considered the most grave, and last resort to solving often intractable problems. It required me following a process laid down over centuries. The decision frequently having to be taken in seconds.

        The investigative process into any crime required painstaking, detailed inquiry, for the very same reason. Depiving someone of their liberty, or even their money (by way of fines) is a serious matter.

        But it boiled down to observation, recording and analysis (an immediate arrest didn’t usually require recording at the time, writing whilst fighting is inordinately difficult) and the reason I asked the question was because I was puzzled why this, and other forums are littered with references to ‘the scientific process’.

        Please correct me if I’m wrong, but a baby observes, records (mentally) and analysis everything that goes on around it.

        I still don’t understand what, precisely, within the scientific process is so unique to scientist’s.

      • HotScot: Was I any less a scientist, when I was a policeman, that one with a Phd in physics?

        HotScot: Which pretty well describes every humble policeman’s job. Or Nurse, or Fireman, or car mechanic etc…………

        The things I wrote out are rank orderings, what scientists try harder at than everyone else. And as I wrote, there is no short list of unambiguous principles that with perfect reliability can distinguish scientific work from other aims at knowledge.

        Scientists aim more toward finding general principles, the professions that you list aim more toward applications of general principles to particular cases.

        HotScot: Please correct me if I’m wrong, but a baby observes, records (mentally) and analysis everything that goes on around it.

        Babies mostly do not record their observations in shareable format, or describe their methods of investigation in sufficient detail for them to be replicated. They mostly do not derive logical and mathematical consequences, nor debate and discuss their findings. Babies are not scientists any more than they are policement, nurses, firemen, or car mechanics, etc. What used to be my babies are now 33 and 38 years old, but my grandchildren are 4 and under. I mean no disrespect to babies, but get real.

        Eventually there will be enough scientific work to clarify and quantify all the scientific issues around CO2 and global warming better than is possible now. The work is not going to be done by police, nurses, babies, etc, but by well-trained mature scientists. I expect the process will require about 2 more decades to produce reliable enough mathematical/computational models and complete enough descriptions/narrations of the energy flow processes. Right now, there are unresolved (imo) conflicting theoretical claims and evidence.

    • Hotscot, “Can someone please explain to me, in layman’s terms, the scientific process”. Yes, Richard Feynman can:

    • Most people everywhere define science as hypothesis testing. A hypothesis is posited and an experiment devised to test it. There is another kind of science that is more like an investigation.

      There is another definition for science, one that is incompatible with that of science-as-knowledge. It can be stated as follows: Science is above all an activity and an attitude, held by a community of like-minded investigators, who are passionately driven by their desire to discover truths about the world. In order to pursue this inquiry, it is actually necessary to have uncertainty about the world, not to suppress it. How could one possibly do science, as just defined, if its subject matter consisted of facts and well-justified true beliefs, that is, knowledge? There would be nothing to pursue. This view of science holds it to be about the living, dynamic process of inquiry, not about knowledge that is a dead collection of presumed factual truths. This kind of scientific inquiry is open ended; we can view it as science-as-seeking. Questions (hypotheses) are pursued to generate understanding that ultimately makes for more and more reliable knowledge.

    • HotScot: Can someone please explain to me, in layman’s terms, the scientific process?

      Roughly speaking, scientists try harder than other people to do the following.

      1. Describe their procedures in sufficient concrete detail that other people can copy them.

      2. Count and measure what they are talking about.

      3. Find displayable relationships among the stuff that they count and measure, via tables and graphs.

      4. Express definitions and other ideas in sufficiently unambiguous terms that results can be derived and comparisons with future data can be made.

      5. Redefine basic words and question relationships in light of (persistent) disparities that result from testing the ideas: examples include distinguishing momentum from kinetic energy, and temperature from heat; accepting that there was no evidence for N-rays.

      6. Publicly display results and debate ideas. Consider results from multiple theoretical viewpoints.

      7. Express quantitative relationships in mathematical language.

      8. Explore, estimate, etc the imprecision and non-reproducibility in measurements and estimates.

      9. Invent new ways to investigate the shared world.

      There is no simple, clear and unambiguous small set of principles that reliably and without error can distinguish between scientific investigation and debate and non-scientific “investigation” and rancor.

      Scientists also insult, cajole, slander, take credit from, etc other scientists who have competing ideas. These are considered violations of ideals, but nobody is perfect.

      • oops, I forgot:

        10: record observations in real time as nearly as possible instead of relying on memory of past observations.

      • @matthewrmarler

        Which pretty well describes every humble policeman’s job. Or Nurse, or Fireman, or car mechanic etc…………

        The preoccupation with the scientific communities elitist attitude baffles me.

    • “Can someone please explain to me, in layman’s terms, the scientific process?”

      * A scientist comes up with a hypothesis, or model.
      * The model is compared with data from experiments or real-world observations.
      * If the model and the data don’t agree then the model is wrong [1]. The scientist goes away and comes back with revised model. Repeat.
      * Except in climate science, where the scientist goes away and revises the data until it agrees with the model. [2] This is called “post-normal science”. perhaps “post-truth science” or “fake science” would be better descriptions?

      [1] “If it disagrees with experiment it’s wrong”. Richard Feynman.


  17. Pingback: Science needs reason to be trusted – NZ Conservative Coalition

  18. “The idea of ‘update our methods‘ is very intriguing. Perhaps Lamar Smith needs a new hearing that is actually on challenges to the scientific method in the 21st century (NOT focused on climate change).”

    So many refer to “the scientific method” as if it is a well-defined method. I dare say that it isn´t. That position seems to be supported by National Academy of Sciences:

    “The basic and particular principles that guide scientific research practices exist primarily in an unwritten code of ethics. Although some have proposed that these principles should be written down and formalized, the principles and traditions of science are, for the most part, conveyed to successive generations of scientists through example, discussion, and informal education.”
    Ref.: Responsible Science, Volume I: Ensuring the Integrity of the Research Process; Panel on Scientific Responsibility and the Conduct of Research

    Here is the result of my effort to define a set of principles that distinguish knowledge from beliefs.

    I support your view that it would be appropriate with a hearing on that issue.

    • Science or fiction.
      The scientific process does not need to be redefined or discussed. It is known.

      What needs to occur is people adhering to it, and be seen to adhere to it.

      It is not that difficult really.

      • “The scientific process does not need to be redefined or discussed. It is known.”

        That is a fair position, I doubt that it is correct though. If it is, maybe you, or anybody else, would be so kind to point me to it?

        One reason I doubt is that I really can not find a proper set of well-defined principles, methods, and processes for science.

        Another reason I doubt is that United Nations climate panel IPCC got away with applying unscientific principles like widespread use of “subjective levels of confidence” and with being governed by the principle to “use all best endeavours to reach consensus”.

        Unfortunately, there is no standard to refer to and point out that these kind of principles are not appropriate within scientific conduct.

  19. Indeed the issues you “raised in my testimony go to the heart of the problem, as do these two articles” were excellent points. Keep up the good work.

    The attempts by our educational systems to simply indoctrinate students with “chosen facts” is a worrisome trend. Teaching critical thinking is a must.

    To promote critical thinking, skeptics should provide the public with believable, digestible, testable, and evidence based alternative explanations that naturally induces critical thinking.

  20. Testing the rigor of post modernist thinking, the Alan
    Sokal hoax, ‘Transgressing the Boundaries; Towards
    a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity.’

  21. At the congressional hearing on the scientific method – there were scientists speaking at odds about their conclusions on climate science – and little enough said about scientific method. The committee members had little interest in exploring (and I use that word deliberately) truth – but were intent on buttressing their opinions with the testimony of tame scientists.

    Much of the time it is not about science at all – even for scientists. The AMS Executive Director response to the hearing is clearly a rehearsed narrative claiming the socially powerful imprimatur of science. It glosses over the complexities of climate and the intrinsic unreliability of models. The bottom line on model is blindingly apparent – and it is not that we can model the average of weather in 50 years time.

    Sensitive dependence and structural instability are humbling twin properties for chaotic dynamical systems, indicating limits about which kinds of questions are theoretically answerable. They echo other famous limitations on scientist’s expectations, namely the undecidability of some propositions within axiomatic mathematical systems (Gödel’s theorem) and the uncomputability of some algorithms due to excessive size of the calculation.

    As a meteorologist Keith Sietter must be aware of the growing instability of models over the forecast period as a result of chaos in the model equations. It is why weather models are not reliable beyond a week or so. Weather and climate have their own chaos. It seems at odds with previous Seitter commentary. We have gone from ‘legitimate science that seeks to increase our understanding even as it complicates the emerging picture of how the climate system works’ to a scientific certainty of ‘truly disruptive climate change’.

    It is – of course – the millennialist fear of ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference’ that drives the cult of global warming. We are way past groupthink. There is no sanity left. There are high priests, acolytes, icons and penitence. The west must pay for its sins – and this ties into a range of cultural assumptions about the evils of avaricious, patriarchal and militant western culture. Most people just want narratives of a brighter future for their children and grandchildren – and these are much more likely to engage people in science than more tales of the coming apocalypse.

    As for the climate science/policy nexus – it all seems simple enough. Most early 20th century warming, all of the cooling mid century and some of the warming late century. The 20th century rate of warming is some 0.09 degrees C per decade – and this seems unlikely to persist in the 21st century. The natural variability is largely the result of Pacific and Atlantic shifts in ocean and atmospheric circulation – these are correlated with solar variability and new theories of ‘top down’ modulation of climate are emerging to explain mechanistically the correlation. That shifts in ocean and atmospheric circulation influence cloud cover and thus the energy budget of the planet would seem a reasonable Idea and there is support in satellite measurements, grounds observations and in more esoteric measurements of reflected sunlight hitting the moon. The latter has something of the old fashioned elegance of Natural Philosophy. Natural 20th century warming seems likely to be lost this century.

    Policy responses are already underway – although climate change has little to do with the purpose of these policies. 21st century energy sources are required relatively soon regardless – and the emphasis there is on technical innovation. Restoring soils, forests and reclaiming desert enhances food security and economic development, improve flood and drought resilience and conserves biodiversity. Focusing aid on effective goals has climate relevance but much more importantly builds momentum for trade and economic development.

    What there is in climate science is science-as-fabricated-knowledge. They proceed from theory to conclusion by minimising complexity. Models are the icons of climate change. Elaborate theories are built and then run to a conclusions. Regrettably for the integrity of science – the intermediate nonlinear evolution of solutions is glossed over. This is a failed science. It is has not even the practical value of validated science-as-knowledge. Climate science will only be redeemed to its full power and joy with a return to the abductive reasoning of Natural Philosophy.

    Modern hydrology places nearly all its emphasis on science-as-knowledge, the hypotheses of which are increasingly expressed as physical models, whose predictions are tested by correspondence to quantitative data sets. Though arguably appropriate for applications of theory to engineering and applied science, the associated emphases on truth and degrees of certainty are not optimal for the productive and creative processes that facilitate the fundamental advancement of science as a process of discovery. The latter requires an investigative approach, where the goal is uberty, a kind of fruitfulness of inquiry, in which the abductive mode of inference adds to the much more commonly acknowledged modes of deduction and induction. The resulting world-directed approach to hydrology provides a valuable complement to the prevailing hypothesis- (theory-) directed paradigm.”

    That day of the return to science-as-seeking cannot come soon enough.

  22. Physicist Lubos Motls blogs of Sabine’s posts fairly often. Regarding the “overproduction crisis”, my guess is that he would counter that we instead have a “crackpot crisis” and a “crisis of impatience”. Like climate science, there is a lot of crackpottery in physics. Like climate science, there is also a rush to judgement about particular phenomena, instead of a patient approach of letting the evidence accumulate over many decades.

  23. ” . . . there’s no evidence that intelligence provides immunity against social and cognitive biases, so their presence must be our default assumption.”

    One can be gullible, besotted with a fable, or even barking mad, and still retain a stratospheric IQ.

    I’m unsure whether Hansen, Mann, or Schmidt possess a stratospheric IQ.


  24. Science has lost our trust. Period. It’s ‘needs’ be damned. When ‘science’ becomes a big federal funding deal from our taxes it becomes just another entitlements program. Ober half of biomedical research is not reproducible. In climate science there is provable data manipulation (Marcott posts), provable academic misconduct (Shell Games and Marcott posts) , and provable hype (Totten Glacier post).
    That trust will not be easily regained.

  25. Post curiosity science.

  26. Post Normal Epidemiology?

    UK vCJD claims in 90s… not even remotely realistic . UnValidated Models Drive Public Policy

    Britain’s most expensive myth
    Everyone knows that the claimed link between BSE and the singularly unpleasant disease “new variant CJD” set off the greatest and most expensive food scare in history. In the days that followed the health minister Stephen Dorrell’s fateful announcement in March 1996, predictions of deaths from eating beef ranged from 500,000 by the government’s chief BSE scientist, John Patteson, to many millions (The Observer).
    With very few exceptions (this column being one), the media unquestioningly accepted that there was such a link. As one result, #3 billion of public money was spent on incinerating elderly cows. The costs to industry and the UK economy, not least from a consequent thicket of further regulations, have been many times that, and are still continuing.
    The chief reason for doubting a link between beef and CJD lay in the epidemiological evidence, which even in 1996 suggested that the promised epidemic was a fantasy. Over the past seven years, as the incidence curve has begun a steady fall, that has seemed ever more certain. Now, after reviewing the evidence, Professor Roy Anderson and his Imperial College team have published a revised estimate of the total number of victims likely to die of vCJD in the future (link available through Their figure? Not 400,000, or 40,000, just 40.
    As Britain’s farming and food industry grapples with the latest regulatory insanity inspired by the BSE scare, the EU Animal By-Products Regulation that is predicted to drain billions more pounds from the UK economy, it is clearer than ever that Mr Dorrell’s monumentally foolish statement in 1996 was the most costly blunder ever perpetrated by a British minister.

    Public Release: 19-May-2003
    Scientists predict swift end to vCJD epidemic

    Dr. Azra Ghani, who carried out the work with other researchers from Professor Roy Anderson’s department, writes, “Our results suggest that the vCJD epidemic will continue to decline with a best estimate of only 40 future cases”. These are expected within the next five years.
    Updated projections of future vCJD deaths in the UK
    Azra C Ghani, Christl A Donnelly, Neil M Ferguson and Roy M Anderson
    BMC Infectious Diseases 2003 3:4 (published 27 April 2003)

    May 20, 2003:
    The World Reference Laboratory confirms the cow had BSE. Within hours, the US announces a ban on all imports of Canadian beef. In Canada, federal and provincial agriculture ministers take to the airwaves to reassure the public that the diseased cow didn’t go into the food system and that the animal’s home ranch is quarantined

    Despite the admission in the UK that their late 90’s estimates of vCJD cases were wrong, when a few weeks later Canada had their first case of BSE, Canada and US acted as if the 90’s UK scare was valid, even though it was already known that this wasn’t the case.
    Nothing could more clearly illustrate the deep corruption of our political scientific institutions
    I think that we should seriously consider the prospect that the whole vCJD scare was an example of Post Normal Epidemiology, whereby Non- Validated models are used to drive policy.

  27. More Post Normal Epidemiology? Sars, Avian Flu, Swine Flu wave I, Swine Flu Wave II

    Latest flu outbreak is shaping up as fourth pandemic dud in the past six years
    Jul 22, 2009 04:30 AM
    H1N1’s oink is proving to be far worse than its bite
    Toronto is gripped in a frenzy of worry about the dreaded “second wave” of H1N1 now scheduled for this fall. A severe “second wave” of H1N1 is possible, in the same sense that it’s possible the Blue Jays will win the World Series this year. Science and public policy need to look beyond possibilities and also consider probabilities. Our appreciation of probabilities should be based on evidence, not speculation.
    The evidence strongly suggests that a severe “second wave” of H1N1 is very unlikely. It will almost certainly be merely the latest instalment in a growing list of pandemic false alarms.
    Let’s begin by putting this warning in some context. This is the fourth pandemic alarm in the past six years. The first three have been wrong.
    The first alarm was about SARS. At the time, pundits predicted that SARS would become a pandemic and that more than 100 million people would die. Wrong. SARS died out because it was not really very infectious outside of hospitals.
    The second alarm was for H5N1 “bird flu.” We were told that this disease would leap across the species barrier and cause a devastating human pandemic. More than a billion people were supposed to die in an imminent catastrophe of unprecedented dimensions. Wrong. H5N1 remains a disease of birds that rarely infects people who live in close contact with birds. There is no scientific reason to expect this to change.
    The third alarm was for the dreaded “first wave” of H1N1. All of our pandemic planning had been directed toward this “first wave.” It was supposed to hit fast and hard. Eight to 12 million Canadians were supposed to fall ill over two to three months. Between 10,000 and 50,000 Canadians were supposed to die. H1N1 may have hit quickly but in public health terms it has not hit hard. Regular seasonal influenza kills 2,000 to 4,000 Canadians every year. H1N1 has killed fewer than 50 people in Canada in its “first wave.”
    So now we are warned about the H1N1 “second wave.” How serious is the risk? There are three general arguments supporting the “second wave” hypothesis. None of them stand up well to scrutiny.
    I’ll end with a challenge to the media. The media love this story and accept the pundits’ gloomy predictions uncritically. If this turns out to be the fourth pandemic false alarm in six years, as I think it will, it will be time to start asking some probing questions.Dr. Richard Schabas was Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health from 1987-97

    WHO’s credibility questioned as pandemic fears fade
    OTTAWA — For those who have followed the swine flu outbreak, it has almost become a daily ritual, as routine as the morning weather forecast.
    Each day, at roughly 11 a.m. ET, a senior official from the World Health Organization, often speaking in a dry, matter-of-fact tone, has appeared on TV screens to update the world on the outbreak.
    But as fears of a catastrophic pandemic wane, some medical experts are questioning the apocalyptic statements that have occasionally emerged from WHO’s otherwise subdued press conferences.

    “Sometimes some of us think WHO stands for the ‘World Hysteria Organization,'” said Dr. Richard Schabas, who was Ontario’s chief medical officer of health from 1987 to 1997. “There seems to be a culture at WHO where they’ve convinced themselves that a pandemic is such an imminent danger that they overreact.”

    Perhaps the most sensational statement by WHO came on April 29, the day the UN agency raised its six-point pandemic alert to phase five, meaning it believes a global pandemic is “imminent.” Calling on all countries to “immediately activate their pandemic preparedness plans,” WHO director-general Margaret Chan reminded the world: “it really is all of humanity that is under threat during a pandemic.”
    Ms. Chan qualified her remarks by noting the world is better prepared than ever before to fight a pandemic, and the agency was still gathering data to determine the potential severity of a swine-flu pandemic.
    Nevertheless, her “threat-to-humanity” quote hit the 24-hour news cycle with all the subtlety of a neutron bomb — triggering ominous headlines in newspapers and newscasts around the world.
    This week, WHO officials appeared to tone down their rhetoric in the face of mounting evidence the outbreak might be milder than originally thought. As of Friday, 44 deaths had been confirmed in Mexico, less than one-third the number of deaths suspected last week. Most cases elsewhere in the world have caused symptoms consistent with the seasonal flu.
    Ms. Chan has defended her statements, saying it’s her job to cautious.
    “I’m not predicting the pandemic will blow up, but if I miss it and we don’t prepare, I fail. I’d rather over-prepare than not prepare,” she told the Financial Times.

    The hype and hysteria around the H1N1 pandemic, the millions of dollars spent so far on responding to it, and the dire warnings about it are all unwarranted, according to Schabas — who even questions the pandemic label.
    He spreads the blame among public health officials, governments and the media. The World Health Organization is jokingly referred to as the World Hysteria Organization, he said, and it set a tone in the spring with its messaging that was adopted around the globe
    He spreads the blame among public health officials, governments and the media. The World Health Organization is jokingly referred to as the World Hysteria Organization, he said, and it set a tone in the spring with its messaging that was adopted around the globe.
    “They’ve just been (champing) at the bit waiting for a pandemic for the last 10 years and I think they dramatically overreacted,” said Schabas.

    Reconstruction of a Mass Hysteria: The Swine Flu Panic of 2009
    Swine flu kept the world in suspense for almost a year. A massive vaccination campaign was mounted to put a stop to the anticipated pandemic. But, as it turned out, it was a relatively harmless strain of the flu virus. How, and why, did the world overreact? A reconstruction. By SPIEGEL staff.
    The situation on June 11, 2009 did not correspond with these descriptions. Critics were already asking derisively whether the WHO had any plans to declare the latest outbreak of the common cold a pandemic. “Sometimes some of us think that WHO stands for World Hysteria Organization,” says Richard Schabas, the former chief medical officer for Canada’s Ontario Province.

    Sars, Avian Flu, Swine Flu wave I, Swine Flu wave II.. More Post Normal Epidemiology? Non-Validated models driving Public Policy!!

  28. Social justice adherents today skirts the issue of the speaker’s responsibility for their own behavior. The disconnect of behavior from advocacy allows for misperceptions regarding validity of the argument. I as a listener am forced to judge the speaker’s content from what I had hoped to hear. I am disappointed, repeatedly. There appears to be no realism to the words spoken. Rather, I hear a diatribe of other’s wrong doing. Not my cup of tea. I end up closing my ears, left with my own thoughts. I also end up unsympathetic to the cause as my thoughts are filled with “yes but”
    As science is a process, something I have grown up with, I have no understanding of today’s climate scientist enumerating a collection of facts devoid of reasoning and embellished conclusions.

    As I said, I don’t understand the warmest vitriol except in the context of a religious diatribe, something that in in my life has been hurtful. Hence I view with asconce and prejudice.

    The Michaels and Gavin’s and Kevins of this world are to me an abhorrence, as with pornography, without social redeeming value.

  29. Suddenly Sick: The Foibles of Medical Science
    Climate science and medical science have things in common. Including suspect behaviour on the part of the United Nations.

    • By its charter United was supposed to:
      “To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character …”
      (Ref.: Article 1.3 )

      By sloppy standards, its unaccountable supranational nature, and its natural susceptibility to noble cause corruption, United Nations may very well become an international problem of economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character.

  30. That the important thing is the sociology of the science proves that it isn’t a science.

    Science self-corrects when it’s based on curiosity, and not otherwise.

    In the otherwise case, sociology applies.

    If you run a field by meetings, the field gets taken over by people who like meetings.

    • I meant that to generalize to X.

      If you run a field by funding, the field gets taken over by people who like funding.

      If you run a field by political power, the field gets taken over by people who like political power.

      That doesn’t work with curiosity. There’s no loving of curiosity, you just have it.

  31. The issue is not only theories not supported by data, but in the field of climate “science” it also includes rampant drawing of hard, firm, authoritative, assertive, definitive conclusions from crude, paltry, ephemeral, noisy, sparse data. And we see this almost daily in almost every climate “science” paper. The arrogance of climate “scientists” is widespread. Take some crappy data; reach some unsupportable conclusions. Send out a press release. The hordes of “science” writers will pick it up and blare it out. The published paper will eventually fall into oblivion.

  32. funding agencies, higher education administrators or policy makers. But none of these parties is interested in wasting money on useless research. They rely on us, the scientists, to tell them how science works.

    Bull, they fund the people who give them support for their agendas.

  33. “Perhaps Lamar Smith needs a new hearing that is actually on challenges to the scientific method in the 21st century (NOT focused on climate change).”

    You’ve stated an inchoate idea that’s been bouncing around my head for some time, since I first read about the general reproduciblity problem. (The article that “proved,” by the standards of contemporary science, that listening to “When I’m 64,” by the Beatles, reduces one’s age was an eye-opener.) Perhaps the way to overcome the special interests who have hijacked climate science is to recruit a larger pool of interested parties, by addressing the problem at a more general level.

    The inevitable truth is that science is hard work and takes time, and so, while it can be a powerful tool for uncovering some facts about our world, it cannot be the source of more than a tiny slice of what any individual thinks he knows. In order to render scientific discoveries useful, society needs a reliable way of transmitting those discoveries while filtering out impostors. As soon as one recognizes that this what is needed, it immediately follows that we’re grappling with all the classical problems of political theory.

    When people like Scharrer (et al.) talk about the importance of expert opinion, they’re not talking about science–they’re talking about submission to authority. That’s a necessary ingredient for any functional civilization, but figuring out the bounds of authority and who has it is an ancient problem, and one that cannot be resolved by the scientific method.

  34. The Folly of Mann.

    Beyond what Mann’s comical prevarications indicate about his trustworthiness and that of climate science he represents, his testimony is an interesting example of cognitive biases and fallacious logic, which Dr. C enumerates in her testimony. Somebody with an eye for these things should do a detailed parsing, but here are to me the most striking examples:

    I did find it interesting that in their written statements, Curry, Christy, and Pielke wasted little time getting to the subject at hand, while Mann spent two paragraphs of laundry list of personal activities. This strikes me as Appeal to Authority although hearing a panel itself is somewhat an appeal by the representatives.

    In the next paragraph, Mann gives us Hasty generalization (fallacy of insufficient statistics, fallacy of insufficient sample, fallacy of the lonely fact, leaping to a conclusion, hasty induction, secundum quid, converse accident) – basing a broad conclusion on a small sample when to global warming, he attributes “extreme, persistent weather events like the 2011 Texas & Oklahoma Drought and the 2015 California wildfires.”
    He does even when it is a matter of common data and knowledge that the drought index (PDSI) in the US indicates no change over a century, and the satellite era indications of global drought do not indicate a trend. And similarly, Christy has previously testified on the decrease of wildfires and the decrease of forest fires in the US. Also known is the millenial long decrease in large fires deduced from old tree fire scares and ash lake sediments.

    About his activities, Mann writes: “I have become convinced that no pursuit could be more noble.” This strikes me as Moralistic Fallacy.

    In the fourth paragraph, Mann makes me smile by writing “So about this hearing:”.

    Mann writes: “least 97% of scientist publishing in the field have all concluded, based on the evidence, that climate change is real, is human-caused, and is already having adverse impacts on us, our economy, and our planet.”. This is, of course, a striking example of both the Bandwagon Effect cognitive bias as well as the Appeal to Popularity or Argumentum ad Populum logical fallacy.

    In addition to the bias and logical fallacy, the statement is incorrect. Regardless of the veracity or significance of the Cook paper that Mann cites in support of this statement, it concludes: “The consensus that humans are causing recent global warming is shared by 90% – 100% of publishing climate scientists according to six independent studies by co-authors of this paper.” The paper does not indicate climate change, adverse impacts on us, our economy, and our planet as Mann opines.

    Yet we find ourselves at this hearing today, with three individuals who represent that tiny minority that reject this consensus or downplay its significance, and only one—myself—who is in the mainstream. is more Bandwagon Effect and Argumentum ad Populum. However, since Curry, Christy and Pielke all cite the IPCC, even more than Mann does in his written testimony, this may be an example of Framing bias, though the IPCC reports become themselves and Appeal to Authority.

    Remarkably, Mann went on to cite the ‘Hockey Stick’ ( not just the hockey stick but the ‘iconic’ hockey stick, icon of bias? ). This is something even the IPCC does not do. The trick to hide the decline ( selecting trees from which data would produce warming instead of cooling in the late twentieth century ), is of course, a great example of Confirmation Bias and the Observer-Expectancy Effect and colloquially data torture.

    There is more, of course. And, of course, it’s easy to pick on Mann ( though far too easy in this instance ), but all of us are susceptible to human bias, and to think otherwise is Blind Spot Bias.

    • TE,
      thanks for the cogent summary. Too bad that a lot of good science will be terminated with the over reliance of models as general climate science and science funding goes down. It would be nice to see more observation and data collection on argos and deep argos plus cloud measurements and more arctic temperature stations. Models and estimates hold little appeal in this environment and loudly proclaiming 0.015* hotter, plus or minus 0.1* pretty much demolished trust in science to anyone listening.



      • Yes, appeal to emotion often involves citing a single specific truth out of context to erroneously ascribe a larger generality.

        Has this happened before? Sure looks like it.

        Is it part of any significant trend related to climate? Doesn’t look like it:

        So, droughts are increasing in the US because of CO2 and creating more wildfires? No.

        We are all programmed by evolution to exaggerate truths to support our arguments. But in science, exaggeration is lying.

        Mann is helping to point out that Climate Liars are a big problem.

      • It’s is only a fallacy if it distracts from the truth. A photograph of a young child dying because of exposure to an illegal weapon of mass destruction is a blatant appeal to emotion, but is not automatically a logical fallacy. Emotional arguments can be just as logical as emotion-free arguments, or just as illogical.

        I did not express an opinion on truthfulness of anything.

      • It’s is only a fallacy if it distracts from the truth.


        This fallacy distracts from the decrease of drought in the US.
        This fallacy distracts from the decrease of deadly cow killing fires of the past.

        It is a lie of context and false insinuation.

  35. Hubris: The Troubling Science, Economics and Politics of Climate Change
    A Review of: Hubris: The Troubling Science, Economics and Politics of Climate Change by Michael Hart

    Michael Kelly FRS FREng, Emeritus Prince Philip Professor of Technology, University of Cambridge

    This book should leave any dispassionate reader deeply disturbed. It should be required reading for people in policy and politics who deal with these matters. No thought leader should be ignorant of the contents.
    If one then goes back into the ‘post-modern science’ from which the imperative to decarbonise originates, several cans of worms are waiting. I fear that when this whole enterprise collapses, as certainly as the tulip bubble evaporated in 1637, there will be a backlash against trust in science that will herald a dark age in which scientists are routinely regarded as untrustworthy shamans. My concern is that the integrity of science is under great threat and that my own subject, engineering, will get caught in the backlash, even though engineers have been among the most vociferous critics of the projects of imminent global catastrophe caused by humans.
    How will humanity extricate itself? One can hope that the accumulation of failed predictions over the next two decades will burst the bubble. The world academies cannot be asked to sit in judgment on the misconduct, as they will be in the dock. The UN is also hopelessly compromised.

  36. Another expression of scientific truth:

    “THE POWER OF SCIENCE comes from the simplicity of its own credo, its underlying postulates: There is a universe that consists of what we can observe and measure. It operates according to principles that human brains can attempt to understand.

    If some event appears to be caused by a supernatural agent, that just means we need more research. With enough scrutiny and study, the inexplicable will be roped into the natural realm.

    That, anyway, is the ideal. Individual scientists have biases and make mistakes. Some even cheat. They do experiments that cannot be replicated. But in the long run these aberrations cancel out — plus added to minus is zero — and the search steadily converges on better approximations of the truth.

    A consensus and not a conspiracy. Objective reality exists. These are ideas worth marching for, and they don’t all fit on placards.

    Science doesn’t (or shouldn’t) profess to be The Truth. Or just another truth. It’s the best way humans, we blinkered souls, have found to arrive through observation and experiment at what seems for the moment to be true.”

    George Johnson is the author of “The Cancer Chronicles,” “The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments,” and seven other books, which have been translated into 15 languages. His column, “Raw Data,” appears in The New York Times.

    • Objective reality exists

      Wellllll, Look up Wheeler’s delayed choice experiment, which has been positively tested in the lab.

      • “One of the easiest ways of “making sense” of the delayed-choice paradox is to examine it using Bohmian mechanics. The surprising implications of the original delayed-choice experiment led Wheeler to the conclusion that “no phenomenon is a phenomenon until it is an observed phenomenon”, which is a very radical position. Wheeler famously said that the “past has no existence except as recorded in the present”, and that the Universe does not “exist, out there independent of all acts of observation”.
        However Bohm et al. (1985, Nature vol. 315, pp294–97) have shown that the Bohmian interpretation gives a straightforward account of the behaviour of the particle under the Delayed-choice set up, without resorting to such a radical explanation. A detailed discussion is available in the open-source article by Basil Hiley and Callaghan,[12] while many of the quantum paradoxes including Delayed Choice are conveniently and compactly discussed in Chapter 7 of the Book A Physicist’s View of Matter and Mind (PVMM) [13] using both Bohmian and standard interpretations.
        In Bohm’s quantum mechanics, the particle obeys classical mechanics except that its movement takes place under the additional influence of its quantum potential. A photon or an electron has a definite trajectory and passes through one or the other of the two slits and not both, just as it is in the case of a classical particle. The past is determined and stays what it was up to the moment T1 when the experimental configuration for detecting it as a wave was changed to that of detecting a particle at the arrival time T2. At T1, when the experimental set up was changed, Bohm’s quantum potential changes as needed, and the particle moves classically under the new quantum potential till T2 when it is detected as a particle. Thus Bohmian mechanics restores the conventional view of the world and its past. The past is out there as an objective history unalterable retroactively by delayed choice, contrary to the radical view of Wheeler.”

      • While it was long ago I read them, I think there are 9 interpretation of QM.

        There are other experiments, around Wheeler’s beyond the 2 slit experiment.
        But the bigger point is there is an active conversation about what exactly “reality” really is.

      • micro, the dispute is about our conceptions of reality, and these issues boil down to “thought experiments”. For sure there are still philosophical discussions around what is reality.

        I still remember my light bulb in university physics 101 upon realizing the teachers were telling us that these massless things sometimes behaved as particles and sometimes as waves. By which they meant, our concepts of particles and waves were not adequate to describe photons.. I submit that the things are real, but presently beyond our ken, and thus a fruitful subject for scientific inquiry.

      • Sascha writes at a very high level, and make a strong case it isn’t limited to a thought experiment. I offer these as light reading. and
        But I make no offer to argue his point.

      • Thanks for the links micro, I do not want to argue either (I went into organic chemistry instead.) And for all we knew, bosons were found on ships, often with a mate nearby.
        This current explanation by Ethan Siegel made sense to this layman, and I offer it for what it is worth.

      • A photon can exert force on the other side of the universe, I get some of the physics of why there still no energy between the two Interacting particles. But…….. Also think about why your hand doesn’t go through a wall.

      • Ron,

        So interesting. Physics descriptions of wave and particle behavier of light waves and shell electrons has always meant our words can’t adequately describe the reality.

        Science should be humble and objective, not arrogant and abusive like the Mann testimony.

        opions and grandiose claims have no place.

  37. Richard Feynman, no slouch in the Physics department, wrote a lecture on the thermodynamics of gases where he basically debunked the foundational temperature theory used in climate modelling.

    Has anyone from this thread seen this lecture or reprinted it? Why have his observations not been addressed? Or, have they been addressed but no one outside of Climate Science has seen it??

  38. Feynman –

    “We turn now to what are called earth sciences, or geology. First, meteorology and the weather. Of course the instruments of meteorology are physical instruments, and the development of experimental physics made these instruments possible, as was explained before. However, the theory of meteorology has never been satisfactorily worked out by the physicist. “Well,” you say, “there is nothing but air, and we know the equations of the motions of air.” Yes we do. “So if we know the condition of air today, why can’t we figure out the condition of the air tomorrow?” First, we do not really know what the condition is today, because the air is swirling and twisting everywhere. It turns out to be very sensitive, and even unstable. If you have ever seen water run smoothly over a dam, and then turn into a large number of blobs and drops as it falls, you will understand what I mean by unstable. You know the condition of the water before it goes over the spillway; it is perfectly smooth; but the moment it begins to fall, where do the drops begin? What determines how big the lumps are going to be and where they will be? That is not known, because the water is unstable. Even a smooth moving mass of air, in going over a mountain turns into complex whirlpools and eddies. In many fields we find this situation of turbulent flow that we cannot analyze today. Quickly we leave the subject of weather, and discuss geology.”

    Given that climate is the average of weather, maybe it is best to quickly leave the subject of climate, also.

    If you are about to lay a concrete slab, or plow a field, knowing if it’s going to rain in the next eight hours is pretty important. How about starting small, and working up?


    • If you have ever seen water run smoothly over a dam, and then turn into a large number of blobs and drops as it falls, you will understand what I mean by unstable. You know the condition of the water before it goes over the spillway; it is perfectly smooth; but the moment it begins to fall, where do the drops begin? What determines how big the lumps are going to be and where they will be? That is not known, because the water is unstable.

      That waterfall sits there, year after year, the smooth water flowing over and becoming drops and mist and water vapor and falling below and forming another flow that generally becomes smooth again at some point downstream. That is not unstable. Unstable would do something different on different days. Just because you don’t understand, does not show that it is unstable. Climate is like that, just because you don’t understand it does not make it unstable. Climate repeats the same patterns, not exactly the same but similar, over and over and over and over, that is stable.

  39. There’s actually a journal “Public Understanding of Science”? Therein lies one of the problems.

  40. Lacking observational data and tools to disentangle the few available ones, climatologists must rely on models.
    Model calculations are no scientific research, they are applied mathematics on known systems. What to do when the system is not fully understood? Tentative models that can be useful within a limited scope that permits falsification (or verification and validation).

    To establish any hypothesis as a scientific fact (e.g. anthropogenic climate change, or ECS), it is a tautology to use models that are based on the same equations describing the hypothetical theory. One is always right with such useless proceedings.
    Without experimental confirmation, science is reduced to a speculative exercise. This is the current state of the climatic art.

    The public, and also policymakers, have no clue about this fundamental difference. They can’t distinguish between proven scientific theories (within know boundaries), and plausible, but unproven, speculations.
    In front of such confusion they will distrust any messenger (or make use of selected arguments to promote their preferred pet idea).
    It gets even worse when scientists and their funding agencies take the pathway of advocacy research. Then, sooner or later, the public will smell a rat.

  41. Mike Cox retired last week (age 60) from his directorship as climate scientist staff position for EPA Region 10, Northwestern US, sending a letter of resignation to Director Pruitt warning of dire consequences of the Trump Administration budget cuts. Cox’s and other staffers view:

    “1. Denying Fundamental Climate Science: This strikes at the core of the
    concerns from EPA staff. It was surprising, no shocking, when you stated on
    National television that carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to climate
    change. This is settled science and we have too many other important
    scientific issues to investigate related to climate change to waste our time
    debating this issue.”

    Here is the crux of the issue: an EPA staff bureaucracy without scientists in leadership. One might even say, a bureaucracy lead by… priests.

    I seems like the adage that science advances one funeral at a time is relevant, not by death per se, rather, by unemployment.

  42. As a scientist I am concerned to see the data for the effect of low concentrations of particulates. I am told that the US EPA will not release them. Why not? The EPA loses trust. It already has lost it as far as radiation is concerned

    • The Washington Times article might be the most bizarre thing I’ve read here. I kept looking back at the top of the page for “satire” or some other sign this is a put on.

      I’m as big a critic of EPA as anyone but what is being alleged takes me back to WWII Germany and the ugly past of our own country. I’m incredibly skeptical that anyone, in this day & age, would use human guinea pigs as part of a Federal sanctioned experiment using diesel engines.

      What bothers me about the charges is that if true it should be in the headlines of every news outlet in the world.

      This goes beyond the concerns about particulates, to outright murder if their hypothesis was correct. Using exhaust in a closed environment is the weapon of choice in many suicides.

      Since the gas chambers thing is so beyond

      the pale, let me address the less controversial

      aspect of estimating premature deaths from
      pollution from any source. These estimates
      are derived from studies and models that
      have to disentangle incalculable other variables from the effects of pollutants and
      just like any other longitudinal studies in the social sciences have to be accepted with a great amount of caution.

      Just to be clear, I’m not questioning anything you have stated. It’s just that the Washington Times column is from another world. My head hurts.

  43. The Intellectual Yet Idiot
    Nassim Nicholas Taleb
    View story at

    The Single Shining Hope to Stop Climate Change
    Michael E. Mann

    • brentns1 – here is a visual aid to guide you and Mann to the proper part of the world to address concerning co2 production:

  44. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #265 | Watts Up With That?

  45. Reblogged this on Random Thoughts from My Mind and the World and commented:
    The scientific method needs to make a return to science.
    Great reads from this blog.

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