Activist Science = Pathological Science

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Henry Miller, Hoover Institution fellow and co-author of the superb The Frankenfood Myth, knows that activists fake it when they can't make it.

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  1. Was Bailey interviewed for the article?

  2. “Frequently decision-makers give up the difficult task of finding out where the weight of scientific opinion lies, and instead attach equal value to each side in an effort to approximate fairness. In this way extraordinary opinions are promoted to a form of respectability that approaches equal status.”

    This is simiilar to the epidemic of “fair” reporting within the MSM. “We Report, You Decide”: New Bullshit Study Links Cancer Deaths with Celery! Instead of actually doing a little research to find out the veracity of the claims and the agenda interests of those making the claims, the “news” outlets simply report it, for 2 reasons: 1) sensational headlines make money, and 2) if they present multiple sides of a story, even if 1 or more sides are complete bullshit, then they come across as “fair and balanced” reporters.

    Here, moreso than with politicians, sensational “findings” are incentivized. I mean, who’s gonna put a headline on the CNN scrolling “news” ticker that says, “No link found between cancer and celery”? Which is precisely why I don’t watch TV news. Now, if I could also cut the idiot politicians who engage in this moral equivalence out of my life as well, I’d be set.

  3. “Frequently decision-makers give up the difficult task of finding out where the weight of scientific opinion lies, and instead attach equal value to each side in an effort to approximate fairness. In this way extraordinary opinions are promoted to a form of respectability that approaches equal status.”

    …which is how you end up with a United States Senator declaring that global warming is “the greatest conspiracy in human history.”

  4. Darn joe, yep. You got us. All the thousands of activists clamoring “conspiracy” are an affront to science. Yep. The skeptical side of the debate is the one most at fault here.

  5. Hey! Henry I Miller stole my tag line: “I love humanity; it’s people I can’t stand!” – Linus Van Pelt.

  6. joe’s got a point, that is how the mechanism works.

    maybe the issue is keeping senators 500 yards from science at all times? (shiavo, et al, ad nauseum, etc)

  7. Unfortunately, we live in a world where when you ask ten experts, you get ten answers. Well, at least three or four. Obviously, policy-makers should use the best science available. But how is that determined? Politicians are politicians, not scientists. And even scientists disagree. The best we can do as citizens, to the degree that politicians need to listen to scientists at all (more on that below), is to try to insist that politicians pay attention to the most qualified scientists with the least incentive for bias. Politicians being politicians and politics being politics, that’s a tall order.

    So the less the law needs to be based on science, the better. But sometimes it’s necessary. The hot topic of course is environmental pollution. It would be nice if we lived in a world where the only harm one could do to another inolved direct engagement between harmer and harmee, but unfortunately third party pollution is real and its harm against others is real. To some degree we are dependent on scientists to tell us what is happening that we can’t easily see, and which often represents the accumulated effect of small digressions in which almost all of us participate. This makes the world imperfect, but then, it was already.

  8. I remember a back-and-forth I had with a disciple of Jeremy Rifkin back when I used to shill for Pioneer Hi-Bred. I pulled the ol’ “dihydrogen monoxide” bit on him. Said if he really wanted pull something off the market, he should investigate this noxious chemical which can, in large enough doses, block the oxygenation process, cause complete respiratory blockage resulting in death, etc. He started taking notes, nodding his head furiously.

    When I told him I was referring to water, he nearly punched me in the nose. Activists and government officials, by and large, understand just enough science to be dangerous.

  9. dhex:

    Senators are kept 500 miles from science. That’s why they are such dupes for anything that fits their preconceived notions. They don’t know the scientific method from the rhythm method. (And many consider both to be pure eeeevil.)

    Lawmakers should take a community college class every semester on something in the sciences (including engineering, medicine, history, and other disciplines that try to collect facts and apply them). Maybe they’ll get some appreciation for reality. Plus, class work keeps ’em out of the Capitol Building. Less mischief may result.

  10. I think that the lesson here is to pay careful attention to “scientific studies” undertaken to prove someone’s political claims. Such studies can be manipulated to yield the desired results, which should not then be regard as irrefutable fact.

    Real science should be about finding the answers to questions, not finding the right questions to support the answers we want to hear.

  11. Lawmakers should take a community college class every semester on something in the sciences (including engineering, medicine, history, and other disciplines that try to collect facts and apply them).

    Don’t forget microeconomics and statistics!

    I volunteer to teach Physics for Congressmen. We’ll use “Physics For Dummies”, but I’ll dumb it down even further to bring it to their level.

  12. Selective reporting of pharmaceutical data leads major medical journals to change editorial policy

    Damn those activists…oh wait…damn those coporations…oh wait…who woulda thunk it…oh hell, damn everyone….

  13. Voiceover, “skeptical” refers to holding those making statements to a high standard of evidence. When this is done selectively, or when there is an unwillingness to accept any amount of evidence, or when ever smaller gaps in knowledge are adopted as stinging rebuttals to a well established theory, it ceases to be skepticism and becomes mere bias.

  14. if:
    Activist Science = Pathological Science
    and
    Coporate Science = Pathological Science
    than?

    Oh wait, only activists cheat. That’s right…yessiree…

  15. Joe writes, “…which is how you end up with a United States Senator declaring that global warming is “the greatest conspiracy in human history.”

    Joe, I have posted on my weblog the following proposed debate topic:

    “Resolved: The IPCC Third Assessment Report’s (TAR’s) projections for methane atmospheric concentrations, carbon dioxide emissions and atmospheric concentrations, and resultant temperature increases constitute the greatest fraud in the history of environmental science.”

    Resolved: The IPCC TAR projections constitute scientific fraud

    I have challenged ANY member of the IPCC, or any scientist, or any individual (that includes you) to debate the negative side of that resolution. So far, no takers from the IPCC.

    Further, I have proposed TWO bets at http://www.longbets.org

    #180…is a bet that Michael Crichton’s projection of 0.81 degrees Celsius of warming from 1990 to 2100 will be MORE accurate than the IPCC’s projection (via Wigley and Raper) of 3.06 degrees Celsius warming for the same period.

    Longbets Challenge #180: Michael Chrichton’s projection is better than the IPCC’s

    #181…is a bet that MY projections for atmospheric methane concentrations, CO2 emissions, CO2 atmospheric concentrations, and temperatures will be more accurate than those made by the IPCC (in their TAR).

    Longbets challenge #181: Mark Bahner’s projections are better than the IPCC’s

    BOTH of those bets are available to ANY member of the IPCC. But not a single member has yet taken either bet challenge. Why? (Hint: It probably has something to do with the fact that the projections in the IPCC TAR “constitute the greatest fraud in the history of environmental science.”)

    Mark Bahner (environmental engineer)

  16. The tendency by both the media and policy makers to take a single study as “proof” is probably the biggest problem on the table. This minimizes the need for futher research and/or thinking and can be used for the immediate gratification of those who get off on the pathological need for panic and passing laws.

  17. I have to agree. The most likely reason why none of the scientists on the IPCC have taken the bets posted by Mark Bahner, environmental engineer, on his web site is that they are engaged in the greatest fraud in human history. Why else would the challenges found on the web site of Mark Bahner, environmental engineer, stand unanswered by the world’s leading environemental researchers?

    To be serious, something you wouldn’t know from the comments here, or from the article, or from pretty much anybody on the denial side of the global warming question, is that there actually are bodies of leading scientists who review data, and conduct meta-analyses of climate change studies, such as the NSF and the National Academy of Scientists, and they’ve been unequivocal on the matter. But I guess that just shows how deep the conspiracy goes.

    Seriously, you’re throwing around charges of the “greatest conspiracy in human history,” and that doesn’t worry you?

  18. It’s not that politicians are “duped” in any way…it’s that they just don’t care. If it’s a chance to spend tax money, buy votes AND sound like you’re relying on purely “scientific” evidence to help humanity…well, that’s a winning situation for any politician.

    I used to work for a scientific journal, so I have first hand knowledge of how the peer review system is supposed to work. I also have first hand knowledge of how many scientists will lie, cheat and steal to get published and receive money. It truly is publish or perish, and it’s very difficult to work for years on a project and find out that you’ve made no novel discoveries. When you combine human nature, with a tough peer review system and the desire of politicians, this sort of thing will happen.

  19. joe, I for one am a “global warming” skeptic whose skepticism is probably directed primarily at the activists who are using global warming studies to push an irrational political agenda.

    Based on my layman’s understanding, there are garantuan gaps in the CO2 theory of global warming (it can’t account for things like water vapor, particulates, or solar radiation, for cripes sakes), there are substantial disconnects in the data purporting to show global warming (satellite/upper atmosphere studies show flat to cooling temperatures), and there is no decent data set at all that shows that the current round of temperature variation is in any way inconsistent with “natural” temperature variation. These are not minor flaws in the “science” that purports to support the activist/Kyoto agenda; these are fatal flaws.

    Some of my skepticism slops over onto the scientists who generate the data used by the activists, I suppose, but that may be because I don’t see “scientist” and “activist” as mutually exclusive categories.

    For example, I recall seeing that someone fed random data into the model showing the famous “hockey stick” increase in temperatures over the last hundred years, and the model produced . . . a hockey stick increase in temperatures over the last hundred years.

  20. Mark Bahner: Funny that creationists use that same gimmick to prove evolution is the greatest conspiracy in human history.

  21. …which is how you end up with a United States Senator declaring that global warming is “the greatest conspiracy in human history.”

    Certainly, the idea that actions like Kyoto are a good idea represent considerable miss-representation of science in pursuit of an agenda.

    Global warming is poorly understood. Its causes are poorly understood, much of the data is conflicting (sea data, satallite data, data from different land masses, etc.), and the models are too simplistic to make reasonable predictions (try using the models to predict today using past data!). Further, proposed responses like Kyoto would have minimal impact on global warming (at best), while having significant negative impacts on the economy.

    Global warming actually reflects a “chicken little” outlook combined with left wing environmental activism (not that those two things tend to seperate). Even if the basic scientific premise is correct, it represents a fraud intended to scare people into giving up out best energy sources, and sacrifising our economy on the alter of ecological extremism.

  22. For example, I recall seeing that someone fed random data into the model showing the famous “hockey stick” increase in temperatures over the last hundred years, and the model produced . . . a hockey stick increase in temperatures over the last hundred years.

    We actually experienced warmer temps around 1,000 AD, a time of human advancment and population growth. Something left out of the “hocky stick”, which looks much less scary with the full context.

    Climate change is certainly worthy of study. Too bad the radical left has decided to abuse it as part of an agenda.

  23. RC, I don’t know what you do for a living. I don’t have the background necessary to analyze raw climate data and draw worthwhile conclusions about the issue, so I’m compelled to rely on scientists to do it for me.

    And the people who are in a position to draw worthwhile conclusions are aware of the criticisms raised by skeptics (as well as those raised by “skeptics”), and the solid consensus continues to exist that global warming is real, a problem, and caused by human activity.

    “They can’t account for water vapor” sounds a lot like “they haven’t found a dinosaur with feathers,” which you heard a lot, right up until they found a dinosaur with feathers. These are the “shrinking gaps” I mentioned earlier, and if the challenge they pose to the global warming thesis hasn’t shaken the consensus, and if in fact that consensus has grown over the period that these objections have been raised (which it has), then I’m not inclined to posit a massive global conspiracy.

  24. Two points, Don. First, you mention that this model or that model has this problem or that. Fine. Each model needs to read as a range of probable outcomes. But just as combining 10 polls, each of which has a 5% margin of error, results in a moe of much less than 5%, so do the meta-analyses combining numerous inexact models produce a result that will be much more reliable.

    Second, “chicken little.” “left wing environemntal activism.” “fraud” “scare people” “sacrifice on the alter” “environmental extremism” Yep, between in ignorance of how meta-analysis refines results and this rhetoric, you aren’t doing your credibility any favors.

    But that’s probably just because you’re an earth hating Nazi. 😉

  25. I’m revising my last post to read, ‘”chicken little.” “left wing environemntal activism.” “fraud” “scare people” “sacrifice on the alter” “environmental extremism”‘

    Good thing you’re not abusing the science to push a political agenda.

  26. What this thread really needs is for Cathy to come slap joe around some more.

  27. A theory doesn’t have to be “the greatest conspiracy in human history” to be wrong.

  28. joe – And the people who are in a position to draw worthwhile conclusions are aware of the criticisms raised by skeptics (as well as those raised by “skeptics”), and the solid consensus continues to exist that global warming is real, a problem, and caused by human activity.

    But, joe, there is reason to be skeptical, or “skeptical”, of such a consensus, in that much of the research going on in these areas is publicly funded. Whether through academic channels, or through government agencies such as NOAA and NASA, these folks depend upon a steady stream of politically-generated funding in order to continue in their chosen field.

    Scientific agencies like NIH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have it easy, as their mandate is clear, the scope of their research is nothing less than life and death, and lay people have a tangible, direct stake in it that is readily communicated and understood. Climateological research isn’t particularly “sexy”, so in order to keep the gravy train on the tracks, it is useful to whip up a sense of urgency by communicating a “crisis” situation – Particularly one of global scope, in need of decades of continued study, and that will be hugely difficult to mitigate.

    I’m not saying there isn’t something to global climate change, but there are strong personal motivators for those purporting it that make a certain amount of skepticism reasonable.

  29. In order to require political action, the climate change issue needs to satisfy a whole chain of conditions:

    1. Anthropogenic climate change must be proven real.

    2. It must be significant and outside the bounds of normal climate variation.

    3. It must have a significant impact on humanity.

    4. The negative impacts on humanity must be greater than the positive impacts.

    5. The costs of directly addressing climate change must be less than the costs it imposes on humanity or the costs required to otherwise mitigate the consequences. And note that when you impose a cost today to mitigate something a century from now, you are betting against an exponential.

    The principal problem with global warming advocates is that they think they have condition 1 nailed, and that that gives them the authority to foist worthlessly destructive schemes like Kyoto on humanity.

    But unless you’re going to be a chicken little or an extreme environmentalist, you need to prove the whole chain before you start taking away people’s rights and impoverishing them.

    The solution to flooding in Bangladesh due to a 2-foot rise in sea level is not to return 4 billion people to the Agricultural Age. It’s to build a levee.

  30. Two points, Don. First, you mention that this model or that model has this problem or that. Fine. Each model needs to read as a range of probable outcomes. But just as combining 10 polls, each of which has a 5% margin of error, results in a moe of much less than 5%, so do the meta-analyses combining numerous inexact models produce a result that will be much more reliable.

    What you are saying is that the models are precise. Maybe they are, but that doesn’t mean they are accurate. The problem is, they suffer from the same inherant shortcomings, so they will produce similar results (they offer precision, but all of them fall far short of predicting real world results (because they are not accurate).

    Again, show me the model that predicts the present based upon past data.

    Kudos fitting meta-analyses into the argument.

  31. Yep, between in ignorance of how meta-analysis refines results and this rhetoric, you aren’t doing your credibility any favors.

    Make that mega-Kudos for fitting meta-analysis in twice in one post.

    Again, show me a model that predicts “now” based upon “then”.

    I don’t care how precise your models are: show me one that is accurate.

  32. “But, joe, there is reason to be skeptical, or “skeptical”, of such a consensus, in that much of the research going on in these areas is publicly funded.”

    So do you call into questions the reports about Martian rocks and distant celestial bodies that NASA keeps coming out with?

    ‘Climateological research isn’t particularly “sexy”‘ Yeah, what audience is there for information about hurricaines?

    MikeP, do we have to wait until the significant impacts actually happen, or is it ok to head them off?

    And who gets to decide what “significant negative impacts” are? If a few Pacific Island cultures and languages disappear because the islands’ former residents moved to Cleveland and were fully acculturated into American society, does that count? How about if species are lost? How may? Which ones?

    There is certainly room for discussion of the best way to the deal with the problem, but no one is terribly interested in the solutions offered by those who don’t believe there is a problem. They tend toward technologically ignorant, chicken little statements like “return 4 billion people to the agricultural age,” as if this time, as opposed to all the other times they’ve been wrong about the regulation of pollutants (known generally as “every time they’re predicted doom as a result of environmental regulation”), the dynamic forces of capitalism will be completely helpless to develop ways to continue economic growth.

    Did you know that if we ban gasoline, there will be no automobile manufacturing in the United States by 1975? Brawk-b-kawk!

  33. Just in case it isn’t clear what I’ve meant in the last posts: joe argues that multiple models reduce the error when the results are combined. He’s right that they increase the precision, but they do not necessary increase the accuracy. The reason is that similar assumptions will go into the different models, because the people that create the models have similar knowledge and similar computation handicaps. So the models will build results that are likely self-reinforcing, yet fall way off from actual real-world weather results.

    Can joe reference meta-analysis that shows an accurate picture of the present given past data? That’s what I should have asked previously, since he’s arguing on the basis of multiple models.

  34. I’m in the (pretty small) camp that believes some kind of anthropogenic climate change is “probably” occurring, and that Kyoto sucks anyway.

    I don’t think libertarians should put too many eggs in the basket of climate change being a fraud. And questioning the motives of the other side isn’t nearly as powerful an argument as challenging their actual science. At the same time, I don’t think the simple solution of passing laws forcing people to emit less CO2 is necessarily the right way to go to “solve” the problem. I think we could get more creative and find something better. Cost vs. benefit on Kyoto looks pretty crappy to me. Climate scientists are a lot better at telling us the problem (which lies totally in their field) than telling us the solution (which does not). Free market types should have a Plan B in case this sucker is real; otherwise, we’ll end up looking as stupid as the environmentalists would if the next 20 years are suddenly cold. It’s also good to have our people involved in crafting potential solutions, so there’s something on the table other than Kyoto.

  35. There is certainly room for discussion of the best way to the deal with the problem, but no one is terribly interested in the solutions offered by those who don’t believe there is a problem.

    And yet I don’t hear all 5 conditions I cited weighed by anyone on the pro-regulation side. Maybe it’s in more deeply detailed documents than I have read. But I doubt it. Climate Expert #1 says, “CO2 is doing X to the climate. We have to do Y to mitigate it.” And no one picks up the ball on the other side to say, “What will Y cost? What, for that matter, will X cost? Are there any benefits from X? Is there anything non-climatalogical we can do besides Y?” Instead, CE#1 is added to the consensus and everyone tries to figure out how to make Y happen.

    And who gets to decide what “significant negative impacts” are?

    Well, I’m sure that politicians will find the right solution. Politicians never do anything wrong.

    Brawk-b-kawk!

    That’s one excellent chicken!

  36. I’m in the (pretty small) camp that believes some kind of anthropogenic climate change is “probably” occurring, and that Kyoto sucks anyway. I don’t think libertarians should put too many eggs in the basket of climate change being a fraud.

    Bear in mind that a lot of people who say “global warming is bunk” are actually saying “the claim that humanity is in serious trouble due to man-made global warming and therefore we must change our lifestyles and spend zillions of dollars to prevent further warming, is bunk”.

    There are plenty of people who believe that the earth is probably getting warmer but remain unconvinced that there’s anything worth doing about it.

  37. Anthropogenic climate change probably is happening, phocion. It might even be benificial.

    Kyoto would have little impact on climate change while having a significant impact on the economy. That suggests that it is either very stupidly written, or our predictions on its impacts have little merit (and our economic predictions are much better than our weather predictions), or we simply are not in a situation where our technology can deal effectively with this problem.

    The reality of past predictions is something that someone on the environmentalist side should be raising; population bombs and gas shortages, etc., just haven’t come true. Consistently, it has been the envrionmental side that has been running around like a headless chicken.

    If this is a problem, at this point nuclear energy looks like the way to go. I think we should run with breader reactor technology. First, we have to reduce the insane regulation of the nuclear power industry. Right now fossil is the best energy–but sufficient deregulation would level the playing field.

  38. at the end of jared diamond’s recent book “collapse” he spends a paragraph or so talking about environmental alarmism, before asking why people don’t pay attention to environmentalists. it’s a problem his whole book suffers from, actually.

    moonbats are bad for good causes. (see drugs, war on some)

    the sole exception to the “good cause” clause is the whole “frankenfoods” thing. it’s one thing for people to voluntarily choose to pay more money for “organic” produce and foods. it’s another entirely to try and block the adoption of GMOs in poor countries. those people are superstitious assholes.

  39. “Cost vs. benefit on Kyoto looks pretty crappy to me.”

    The purpose of Kyoto isn’t just to reduce CO2 output by the levels called for in the treaty, but to spur the technological, operational, and developmental changes that are necessary to much such, admittedly modest, gains possible. Once that happens, the cost of future reductions that are made possible by that change will be much lower per unit. It’s the same “$3 billion for the first pill, 11 cents for the second” dynamic that the pharma companies point to.

    The money that went into building the first VCR wasn’t worth it. So what?

  40. Anthropogenic climate change probably is happening, phocion. It might even be benificial.

    For the sake of argument let’s assume it’s happening. For some parts of the world, it will be definitely beneficial (and yes, that is underreported). For some parts, definitely detrimental. I would categorize the net effects as a question mark (partly because we don’t yet know the extent of the climate change, partly because it involves some really tough value judgments).

    Kyoto would have little impact on climate change while having a significant impact on the economy.

    Totally agree.

    Consistently, it has been the envrionmental side that has been running around like a headless chicken

    Totally agree again. They have cried wolf innumerable times and been caught with their pants down. They also mix science with politics way too much. Some have a near-religious fear of human change of nature. None of that means their science necessarily sucks, but they do have themselves to blame for a lot of the attitudes of their opposition.

    If this is a problem, at this point nuclear energy looks like the way to go.

    I’m a nuclear engineer, so once again I agree. But even with the industry seemingly starting up again, I think the US would need to build about 100 more plants to really have the major beneficial impact on CO2 emissions that would be needed to get climate change under control. *In the current market*, that ain’t gonna happen, though I wish it did.

    Kyoto would be really expensive and help very little. Doing nothing could be very expensive as well. I’d like to think that the great minds of this world could concoct a solution that isn’t such a kick in the nuts. Maybe I’m an optimist.

  41. Once that happens, the cost of future reductions that are made possible by that change will be much lower per unit.

    I don’t buy it. People are going to tackle the easiest and cheapest ways to cut CO2 emissions first, whether it’s mandating a tinkering with the smokestack outputs or just buying credits from Russia.

    It’s not like producing a pill at all. It’s more like drilling for oil. You go for the easy stuff first; only when that runs out do you try the more radical and expensive solutions.

  42. The purpose of Kyoto isn’t just to reduce CO2 output by the levels called for in the treaty, but to spur the technological, operational, and developmental changes . . .

    Yes, and government also pushes wind and solar while pretty much regulating nuclear into the ground. At this point, nuclear (combined with electic cars that get their charge from nuclear-generated energy) is probably the way to go, if we are serious about reducing emissions.

  43. “Mark Bahner: Funny that creationists use that same gimmick to prove evolution is the greatest conspiracy in human history.”

    No they don’t. I have made two bets on Longbets that are absolutely definitive; one side will clearly be right, and the other side will clearly be wrong.

    And I can pretty much guarantee you that I will be right. That’s part of the reason I characterize the IPCC TAR projections as being the “greatest fraud in the history of environmental science”…because their projections are so blatantly wrong.

    For example, ask any “scientist” from the IPCC to explain why methane atmospheric concentrations in the are projected to rise so steeply in the IPCC TAR. They can’t give you any valid scientific reason, because it was blatantly obvious ****even when the report was finalized**** that the projections for methane atmospheric concentrations were bogus.

  44. Joe writes, “The most likely reason why none of the scientists on the IPCC have taken the bets posted by Mark Bahner, environmental engineer, on his web site…”

    “Long Bets” is not *my* web site. It’s run by a non-profit foundation, for the purpose of holding people ***responsible*** for their long-term predictions.

    That’s why I predict that no IPCC scientist will ever bet me.

    Joe continues, “…that they are engaged in the greatest fraud in human history.”

    Yeah, Joe. Right. You’re a really funny guy. But I can tell from your comments that you don’t have even the slightest interest in the truth, from the way you libelously misquote me.

    I wrote: “The IPCC Third Assessment Report’s (TAR’s) projections for methane atmospheric concentrations, carbon dioxide emissions and atmospheric concentrations, and resultant temperature increases constitute the greatest fraud in the history of environmental science.”

    I wrote that because it’s true. Further, you won’t find ANYONE who can successfully debate me that my statement is not true. Because it’s not even close. The projections for methane atmospheric concentrations, carbon dioxide emissions and atmospheric concentrations, and resultant temperature increases in the IPCC TAR are completely indefensible, as a matter of science. Their only “legitimate” purpose was to frighten the public into greater funding for climate change research. That goal was successful to the tune of literally hundreds of millions of dollars. That makes it without any doubt the greatest fraud in the history of environmental science.

    “To be serious,…”

    I am serious. And in contrast to you, I actually know what the hell I’m writing about. Environmental analyses are what *I* do for a living.

    “…something you wouldn’t know from the comments here, or from the article, or from pretty much anybody on the denial side of the global warming question, is that there actually are bodies of leading scientists who review data, and conduct meta-analyses of climate change studies, such as the NSF and the National Academy of Scientists, and they’ve been unequivocal on the matter.”

    What “matter” is that? The projections (for atmospheric methane concentrations, CO2 emissions and atmospheric concentrations, and resultant temperature increases) are a complete and utter crock. There is no “consensus” otherwise; any honest and informed person can see that fact.

    “Seriously, you’re throwing around charges of the ‘greatest conspiracy in human history,’ and that doesn’t worry you?”

    Again, either you can’t read, or you’re a liar. (Take your pick.) Once again, I wrote:

    “The IPCC Third Assessment Report’s (TAR’s) projections for methane atmospheric concentrations, carbon dioxide emissions and atmospheric concentrations, and resultant temperature increases constitute the greatest fraud in the history of environmental science.”

    And no, it doesn’t “worry” me. It DOES make me very frustrated and angry. The IPCC is making the very phrase “environmental science” into an oxymoron. Since I’m an environmental engineer, I take that very seriously.

  45. Once again I repeat:

    Can joe reference meta-analysis that shows an accurate picture of the present given past data?

    If the individual models only deviate from real weather results by some random distribution, a meta-analysis would result in an answer that cancels out the error to some degree. However, if non-random errors exist in the data, the meta-analysis will not reduce the error.

    A good test of the models is predicting today based upon past data. This might be best done by meta-analysis or by selecting a “best model”. In any case, if the models cannot predict our current weather, why would we think they can predict future weather?

  46. “I don’t think libertarians should put too many eggs in the basket of climate change being a fraud.”

    ???

    “Climate change” is not a fraud. The earth’s climate has been “changing” for the last 4 billion years. Some periods are hot, some periods are cold.

    Further, virtually no one who is informed about the subject would disagree that there isn’t at least a significant possibility that humans COULD warm the globe by some non-specific amount, through emission of enough CO2 (and increases in other potentially global warming gases, such as methane).

    The SCIENTIFIC questions come down to:

    1) how much CO2, methane, and other potentially climate-changing pollutants will humans emit,

    2) how will those emissions affect atmospheric concentrations, and most importantly

    3) what effects will those changes have on global climate?

    Regarding those questions, the projections in the IPCC TAR are unquestionably fraudulent. They are unquestionably false, and they were deliberately false. That’s the very definition of fraud.

  47. Don writes, “Can joe reference meta-analysis that shows an accurate picture of the present given past data?”

    And then closes with, “In any case, if the models cannot predict our current weather, why would we think they can predict future weather?”

    First off, the question isn’t “weather,” it’s “climate.” “Weather” is far more chaotic than “climate.”

    So the real question you’re asking is whether **climate** models can accurately duplicate climate history, up to the present.

    And the answer is that they can do so. But that means almost nothing, because any model can be “tweaked” enough that it will match **previous** data.

    For example, what happened with climate models was that they did *not* accurately re-create the cooling that was observed from the mid-1940s to the mid-1970s when they had only CO2 and methane inputs. So the modelers added cooling resulting from SO2. But they added the SO2 cooling such that it would pretty accurately re-create the climate of the entire 20th century. That does NOT necessarily mean the model will be able to **predict** climate in the 21st century (even if they got the inputs right…and the inputs in the IPCC Third Assessment Report are deliberately false).

    For example, there is a significant question about both the sign and magitude of other aerosols (besides the sulfate created from SO2 emissions). Specifically, there are questions about the sign and magnitude of warming/cooling caused by black carbon (thought to cause warming) and organic carbon (thought to cause cooling).

    So the answer is that climate models CAN accurately “re-create” the climate of the 20th century. But that’s almost irrelevant. Anyone who is given the correct answers can develop a model that will give those answers.

    P.S. If your question was not limited to the 20th century, but was instead, “Can climate models accurately re-create such events as The ‘Little Ice Age,’ the ‘Medieval Warming Period,’ and other earlier climate events?”…then the answer is probably “no.” But the models are set up to relate changes in concentrations of human-emitted materials to climate change. Since the human-emitted materials back then were so low, no effect would be expected.

  48. About using nuclear power, I thought that the problem with breeder reactors is that they produce more weapons-grade (or close to it) radioactive material. Carter made the decision back in the 70’s that it would be too much of a headache in the non-proliferation field to have a lot of breeder reactors in this country. I doubt the current terrorism conscious administration, or any others in the near future, would disagree with that policy. Heck, Yucca Mountain won’t open until after 2010 (more like 2020, because it’s a gov’t program and all) when it is really not much more than a deep hole in the ground that’s supposed to last for 10,000 years.

    Maybe if oil were $200/bbl, other energy sources would be more cost effective. I’ve seen the story on Scientific American Frontiers about Stan Ovshinsky’s flexible solar panels that can continue to produce electricity even on overcast days and can take having several holes punched through them. They aren’t as efficient as the “normal” photovoltaic cells, but if they weren’t so bloody expensive, I would strongly consider putting them on my house’s roof here in Las Vegas. That change would happen sooner if we had monthly power bills in the mid to upper 3-digit range.

  49. I thought that the problem with breeder reactors is that they produce more weapons-grade (or close to it) radioactive material.

    That’s correct, but they also put out less by product, reducing the overall waste problem.

    The security problem is overstated, in part since terrorists won’t be making atomic bombs with the stuff even if they have it, unless the have a good multi-million $$$ machineshop. But I agree, in the current climate security conearns would kill the idea.

  50. But that’s almost irrelevant. Anyone who is given the correct answers can develop a model that will give those answers.

    Good points. But it sounds like the climate models are just being “tweaked” to provide the right outcomes, proper inputs be dammned. Is this correct?

    But the models are set up to relate changes in concentrations of human-emitted materials to climate change. Since the human-emitted materials back then were so low, no effect would be expected.

    But it seems to me that what we are interested in isn’t just the changes due to humans but the whole enchalada. In other words, a 3 degree natural increase combined with a 2 degree human-induced increase might be a problem, while a 3 degree natural decrease and a 2 degree human-induced increase is just a net drop of 1 degree.

    To put it another way, we are causing a delta, and predicting the delta is all good, but what really matters is the overall trend.

  51. “‘skeptical’ refers to holding those making statements to a high standard of evidence. When this is done selectively, or when there is an unwillingness to accept any amount of evidence, or when ever smaller gaps in knowledge are adopted as stinging rebuttals to a well established theory, it ceases to be skepticism and becomes mere bias.” – joe

    joe, do you own a mirror? I could swear the last half of your statement is self-description…

    Mark Bahner,

    Don’t expect joe to be swayed by arguments based on facts or logic. He’s proven to be totally impervious to it many times – just in the last few threads he and I have participated in.

    Not to mention that when backed into a corner he “fights dirty” then runs away and argues the same clobbered position on another thread.

    (Cue movie announcer’s voice)
    “Including the now infamous-and-destined-to-be-legendary whup-ass-a-thon administered with the grace of a Michelle Yeoh beat-down by Cathy Young. Look forward to these tactics on this and other fine Hit & Run threads.”

  52. “But it sounds like the climate models are just being ‘tweaked’ to provide the right outcomes, proper inputs be dammned. Is this correct?”

    That’s Patrick Michaels’ criticism, I’m pretty sure. And I think I agree, though I’d certainly be open to arguments otherwise.

    Basically, we know sulfate aerosols cause cooling. The question is how much. I’m pretty sure that Patrick Michaels maintains that the amount of cooling was deliberately set to make the overall global temperature trend in the models equal to the actual temperature trend…rather than to try to figure out what the sulfate cooling should be as a separate matter. I’m not “up” enough on the subject to pass judgement.

    But one thing I think Patrick Michaels also says, and which I do know enough to agree, is that the sulfate cooling should be happening in the *Northern* hemisphere. So if sulfate cooling is really a significant factor, the Southern hemisphere should be warming up faster than the Northern hemisphere. But that definitely is NOT happening, at least per satellite measurements. The satellite measurements have the lower troposphere over the Southern hemisphere not warming at all. It’s only the Northern hemisphere that’s warming, per the satellite measurements.

    Really, the IPCC’s analyses, and especially their projections for the future, are almost like a “Keystone cops” situation. That’s why it’s amusing–though also annoying and frustrating–when people like the folks at “Real Climate” (not to mention people like Tim Lambert, David Appell, Chris Mooney and Mark Lynas) actually pretend that the science is on **their** side.

    “But it seems to me that what we are interested in isn’t just the changes due to humans but the whole enchalada. In other words, a 3 degree natural increase combined with a 2 degree human-induced increase might be a problem, while a 3 degree natural decrease and a 2 degree human-induced increase is just a net drop of 1 degree. To put it another way, we are causing a delta, and predicting the delta is all good, but what really matters is the overall trend.”

    Yes, what matters is the overall trend. But:

    1) In both cases, you’re putting human warming at +2 degrees Celsius. In my opinion, that’s at the very outside of the possible warming caused by humans. I wouldn’t give warming of 2 degrees Celsius or more more than about a 1 in 5 or 1 in 10 chance of happening.

    2) You’re putting the sun-induced (or nature-induced) warming or cooling at +3 degrees Celsius or -3 degrees Celsius. History says that that’s way outside of what is probable. Look at the entire temperature trend in the current interglacial period. The temperature has never gone up or down by 3 degrees Celsius in 100 years. I think there’s less than a 10 percent chance that there will be natural cooling or warming of more than 2 degrees Celsius. And I might guess that there’s a 60-80 percent chance that the warming or cooling would be less than 1 degree Celsius. That guess could be checked based on temperature trends in the current interglacial. Also, it seems to me that the probability is more weighted towards natural cooling than natural warming.

  53. “Mark Bahner,

    Don’t expect joe to be swayed by arguments based on facts or logic.”

    I don’t expect anyone to be swayed by arguments based on facts or logic. (I’m pleasantly surprised when anyone ever is.)

    What I objected to was Joe’s “quoting” me without really quoting me. He put quotation marks around words that I didn’t actually write. And I think his purpose was to make it seem like what I was writing was wild or ignorant; what I wrote was neither.

  54. Don

    However, if non-random errors exist in the data, the meta-analysis will not reduce the error.

    I’ve seen this discussed in computer software as well, and coincendentally enough they used nuclear reactor software as their example. Basically it was posited that if 3 separate software systems were developed by 3 different companies, two acting as a backup of the first – in the event of a software generated meltdown the others would take over. The problem was they were more likely to contain the same error than not because of the commonalities in the programmers education and training.

  55. Sigh… Sadly you’ve really got a point about how surprising it is to meet someone who is capable of modifying their beliefs based on factual or logical arguments. Even here on Hit & Run it’s not an overwhelming majority.

    As for the mis-quoting, that’s one of the things I was thinking of when I said he “fights dirty.”

    I was once a “human-caused global warming is going to screw up the planet” believer, now I’m an agnostic on it at best. I think that my lack of skepticism was due to how believable it’s made to sound. Little mention, if any, is given to the sorts of things that don’t fit neatly into a brief soundbite that boils down to “it’s the end if you don’t repent of your non-prehistoric lifestyle!” (Ok, that was a bit facetious but you know what I’m saying.)

    Frankly, I’ve come to wonder if truly implementing anti-global warming treaties that would really have the effect advocated (Kyoto isn’t really a big enough step, right?) might not be the “end of my non-prehistoric lifestyle.” I don’t WANT civilization to go back to the beginnings of agricultural technology. I much prefer working in an office to toiling in the fields…

  56. joe –So do you call into questions the reports about Martian rocks and distant celestial bodies that NASA keeps coming out with?

    Non sequitur, but since you asked, yes, the purpose behind them is the same as the foment over climate change- to keep the particular scientific bent of publicly funded scientists in the news and in front of the public, thus fueling that gravy train.

    Climateological research isn’t particularly “sexy”‘ Yeah, what audience is there for information about hurricaines?

    Again, off topic, and I would think hurricane research would be more meterology than climateology, weather being to climate as medical research is to basic biology. Like medicine, meterology’s raison d’etre is pretty clear, and pretty clearly useful, to the general public, while climateology is pretty arcane, and the benefits pretty vague.

  57. No matter how real climate change is, it’s 100% entirely irrelevant if there is no technologically realistic way to alter it (or if the cure is worse than the disease).

    I mean are there any technologically realistic ways to *significantly* reduce human impact on global warming? Nuclear power? I guess that’s how Europe plans on doing it (some of Europe anyway). Ah, but is that really an improvement?

    Now I certainly think investment in research for clean alternative fuels it’s a good idea (sorry libertarians) but I don’t see too many other solutions to what is most likely a real problem.

    And incidently the u.s. government is not heavily investing in it now. Correct me if I’m wrong but other than some money for nuclear power the department of energy invests very little in most fuels compared to how much it puts into fossil fuels. Poor Jimmy Carter must be turning over in his grave (oh wait he’s not dead yet …)

  58. So Mark, are you an environmental scientist, as you claimed initially, or are you an environmental engineer?

  59. js,

    The only thing that currently does it is nuclear. And hydro-electric, but that depends on having a suitable river so it’s great if you have it and useless if you don’t.

    Solar and wind are not currently viable solutions, and likely never will be.

    Nifty car tech doesn’t do much for you if the energy they use was obtained from a fossil fuel burning plant.

    Right now the best answer is nuclear + electric cars, but that means (among other things) dealing with nuclear waste, and significantly deregulating nuclear so that it is economically feasable.

  60. SixSigma,

    I suspect most control software problems would be random, so the “3 x SW” solution would probably solve any problems. Of course, it is likely that the programs would share the same algorithm with the same constants, so some problems would be consistent among the different programs.

    For this climate model software, I’d suspect some consistent errors, since they would all be prone to leaving out the same information. If they take know past history and can predict the present, they can test their model, but it isn’t clear how well they know past history. If they “tweak” their model by simply adjusting parameters until their model “fits”, and the parameters don’t really represent known past history, they are effectively cheating. Based upon Mark’s description, it sounds like they “cheat” to get their model to “work”.

  61. I wonder how many lefties would support the GW thing if they knew it started as a ploy by M Thatcher and the Tories to destroy the coal miners union and to promote nuclear power.

    http://www.john-daly.com/history.htm

    Tongue firmly in cheek.

  62. Joe writes, “So Mark, are you an environmental scientist, as you claimed initially, or are you an environmental engineer?”

    Please point to any time or place I’ve ever referred to myself as an “environmental scientist.” I’m an environmental engineer. See my first comment on April 21, at 12:48 PM.

    Joe, you seem to have trouble with reading and/or remembering and/or honesty.

    P.S. I don’t see how whether I was an “environmental scientist” or “environmental engineer” would make much difference, anyway.

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