No Political or Scientific Purity

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The Los Angeles Times is running a superb op/ed by Arizona State science and society professor Daniel Sarewitz and American Enterprise Institute fellow Samuel Thernstrom on the political misuse of science as illuminated by the Climategate affair. Here are some selections:

As two scholars with different political orientations but common concerns, we have each worked to challenge conventional wisdom that has undermined public understanding of the climate change problem. Many Republicans have been too reluctant to acknowledge strong evidence of human-caused warming and the need for prudent policies that could reduce its harmful effects. Democrats have let their own political judgments and values infect climate science and its interpretation, often understating the uncertainties about the timing and scale of future risks, and the tremendous costs and difficulties of effective action.

Yet both parties have agreed, although tacitly, on one thing: Science is the appropriate arbiter of the political debate, and policy decisions should be determined by objective scientific assessments of future risks. This seductive idea gives politicians something to hide behind when faced with divisive decisions. If "pure" science dictates our actions, then there is no need to acknowledge the role that political interests and social values play in deciding how society should address climate change….

We do not believe the East Anglia e-mails expose a conspiracy that invalidates the larger body of evidence demonstrating anthropogenic warming; nevertheless, the damage to public confidence in climate science, particularly among Republicans and independents, may be enormous. The terrible danger—one that has been brewing for years—is that the invaluable role science should play in informing policy and politics will be irrevocably undermined, as citizens come to see science as nothing more than a tool for partisans of all stripes….

Can science and politics recover from the damage done in the name of scientific purity? We believe the weight of scientific evidence remains sufficient to justify prudent action against climate change—but we are equally aware that the consequences of both climate change and climate policies remain highly uncertain.

The choices are extraordinarily difficult; the costs of action, and inaction, are potentially momentous. No one can know what the "right" decisions will be, but the e-mail controversy reminds us that imperfect people, not pure science, must decide that question. This is a job for democratic politics, informed by, but not shackled to, a pluralistic, insightful and imperfect scientific enterprise.

My own take on "The Scientific Tragedy of Climategate" is here. Read the whole LA Times op/ed here.

We are indebted to frequent H&R commenter Neu Mejican for the link. Hat tip to you sir.

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  1. The real scandal illustrated by the e-mails is not that scientists tried to undermine peer review, fudge and conceal data, and torpedo competitors, but that scientists and advocates on both sides of the climate debate continue to claim political authority derived from a false ideal of pure science.

    1. oops. I meant to add a comment to that quote from the linked editorial.

      The real scandal, IMO, is that the science being used to form public policy was impure because of human manipulation. We use a blend of science and social values to make policy in many areas. To do that we have to be able to trust that the science is as pure as it can be.

      1. But the whole point of the article is that there is no science that is truly as “pure as it can be.” It’s not to say that scientists shouldn’t aspire to be somewhat dispassionate, but they also need to recognize that they won’t achieve that goal and that any attempt to claim they have is pretense. This point is one that those in the humanities have made for years, but for which they are frequently are dismissed as being anti-science. (To be fair, some of the more radical folks in the humanities push their case too far in arguing that scientific findings, rather than the scientific process, are pure social constructs with no referential reality.)

        But by being upfront about their biases and admitting them, the scientists will get closer to some abstract notion of objectivity than they will by pretending that they are vessels of pure objectivity. At least if you know the biases upfront you can try to control for them and, paradoxically, you will increase the value of your work and its trustworthiness.

        1. The solution to scientific bias has always been to open up your data and methods to everyone so that they can be replicated and tested by others who might not share your perspectives (and therefore might see what you missed).

          Quite clearly, destroying data, gatekeeping peer review and screaming the “science is settled” so don’t bother asking me questions is not a very scientific approach under that method.

  2. This just proves the LA Times editors read your piece, Ron. All climate science does is open up opportunities for the state to steal our freedom.

    1. And all that genetic research does is open the door to genocide?

      All neuroscience does is leave us open to mind control?

      1. Brain control, highnumber, not mind control. Surely you must recall that science lost its ‘mind’ decades ago.

      2. I said CLIMATE science. I have no problem with other areas of research. But knowing the that there are forces out there that will use any excuse to shut America down, Climate science is more dangerous than it’s worth.

    2. Right, there is no purpose whatsoever in understanding the climate of the planet we live on besides freedom stealing. Makes sense.

      1. Is someone making the argument that there is no reason to understand climate?

        I’d like to speak with them.

        1. Why don’t you list the benefits of understanding the climate versus the very real costs of doing stuff like we almost just did. Impoverishing the world and allowing governemnts ever more control over us is serious business.

          1. I concur. However, many of the technologies proposed to solve the ‘problem’ would [eventually] have the opposite effect. Distributed energy technologies, like modular nuclear reactors and photo-voltaics, eliminate dependence on conventional utilities. Let’s not forget geothermal, which makes my evil villain volcano lair all the more valuable.

          2. I refer you to my earlier response.

  3. Yet both parties have agreed, although tacitly, on one thing: Science is the appropriate arbiter of the political debate, and policy decisions should be determined by objective scientific assessments of future risks.

    Flat-out bullshit. Ron, you’re a good guy, but this is fucking baloney. The fact that “skeptics”–which is the default position of real scientists–were demonized and compared to Holocaust deniers, shows that this is total, absolute crap. There is no “science” here anymore. This whole situation is politicized beyond any functionality at this point. And some assholes at CRU lying through their teeth makes that even more so.

    The “science” has been settled, all right. It’s fucking dead, and all that’s left is TEAM RED TEAM BLUE morons clinging to the last shreds of what they think is an argument.

    This ship is going down, dude, and only fools will cling to the wreckage. Have fun!

    1. Epi, which part is total, absolute crap? The “thing” on which both parties supposedly agree, or the fact that they do agree on this?

      The column seemed pretty reasonable to me. Unless I’m misreading, these guys are concerned, like you, that “the whole situation is politicized beyond any functionality”. The scientific facts, whatever they are, are important to know. Unfortunately, it just got way more difficult to find out what the facts are, and doubly more difficult to convince anyone one way or the other. And that’s teh suck.

      1. There are no scientific facts any more. I don’t mean there aren’t actual ones; I mean that no one can be trusted at this point because stupid motherfuckers like CRU made it that way. Shit, my mother could come to me with “facts” about AGW and I’d tell her to fuck off at this point.

        It’s actually kind of fitting, because scumbags like the CRU crew believed so much they felt it was OK to lie. Well, guess what, assholes? You got busted, and now believing what anyone says is next to impossible.

    2. I think Episiarch is right. The credibility hit is huge. This scandal isn’t the only evidence out there that the actual science has been exaggerated and abused for political ends. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t any anthropogenic component to any warming trends–it just means that the burden of proving that just went up a whole lot. Maybe too much.

      It’s easy to sell your credibility, but it’s almost impossible to buy it back.

      1. It’s like a Creation “scientist” actually finding scientific evidence that points to some sort of flaw in evolutionary theory. Not going to have a lot of credibility.

        1. But note that the creation “scientist” still aspires to be a scientist. This shows that both sides still agree that “science” is the appropriate arena for this to be debated. It’s sort of like the old aphorism that hypocrisy is the tribute virtue pays to vice.

          Science has such prestige (scientists are our new clergy and lab coats their vestments) that everyone wants to lay claim to it.

          1. But note that the creation “scientist” still aspires to be a scientist.

            Uh, no. Creation “scientists” don’t actually aspire to do real science. They have adopted the trappings of scientific methodology because, as you almost noted, society has decided that “science” is the appropriate arena for this to be debated. These people used to rely on biblical literalism and fear of hellfire and damnation, but when society stopped listening they had to adopt new tactics.

    3. The “science” has been settled, all right. It’s fucking dead, and all that’s left is TEAM RED TEAM BLUE morons clinging to the last shreds of what they think is an argument.

      Epi, totally right – I said before, instead of science we now have a dick-sizing contest: “MY list of supporters is bigger than YOUR list of dissenters!”

    4. double +1

    5. That the cults’ hero AlGORE uses the word ‘denier’ and is cheered for it just shows how nuts these whackos really are.

  4. I am serious with this question. Is the goal of pure science possible concerning the climate?

    1. I think so, but whoever supposedly said, “the science is settled,” I never would trust them.

      1. That’s a misquote. What was originally said was, “The science, it’s nettled.”

        1. Or maybe, “The science as peddled.”

    2. Outside of, oh, math proofs, I’m not sure “pure science” exists. Every scientist is biased by personal beliefs, and to some extent that influences both the subject of research and the results.
      As humanity, the best we can hope for is continuing efforts by multiple scientists in the hopes that the resultant synthesis of reality is ‘corrected’ by the opposing views.
      Which, of course, is exactly what *hasn’t* happened in this case

    3. The problem with climatology are its models. You can construct reasonable models, but they are useless without good data. We only have about a century’s worth of usable data, but it’s data that needs to be adjusted due to tarmacs, city heat, etc. And without an additional century of subsequent data, the model is still not verified.

  5. Overall, that was a superb op/ed and I will tip my hat to Neu Mejican as well.

  6. We do not believe the East Anglia e-mails expose a conspiracy that invalidates the larger body of evidence demonstrating anthropogenic warming[…]

    “Cnfirmation Bias” is not conspiratorial.

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/n…..l-warming/

  7. For two folks making the claim that “Science is the appropriate arbiter of the political debate, and policy decisions should be determined by objective scientific assessments of future risks”, they sure do talk a lot about politics.

  8. Just look at the way the followers (the cultists?) of The Gore-acle describe the global warming doubters: deniers! denialists! That’s how you shut down debate. Just like those of us who question the link between “HIV” and AIDS have been associated with Holocaust denialists for two decades, Ron (and Nick.) If you’d like to read my denialist views on HIV and AIDS, and see the trailer for a new documentary, go here:
    Special Report on HIV-AIDS:
    http://www.terrymichael.net/Ht…..eport.html
    House of Numbers:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_N4zgjF0K0
    The “science” on HIV is even worse than that of the tree ring tricksters.

    1. My heavens.

      At a certain point in your intellectual exercise, you have to get real:
      If an HIV+ man who’s been getting pneumonia repeatedly asked you about starting anti-retroviral therapy, would you recommend against it?

      1. I would advise him to be treated for pneumonia, not a phantom pathogen. Just as I would advise the tens of thousands of gay men, with NO PRESENTING ILLNESS, just a “positive” antibody test, NOT to go on the highly toxic chemotherapy known with the benign sounding acronym, HAART. Watch this video fromNew York Magazine in November if you’d like to see some victims of HAART:
        http://videos.nymag.com/video/…..;t=Another Kind of AIDS Crisis
        BTW, I am a 62-year-old gay man, who has watched this mystery unfold for a quarter-centurty, and who has seen friends and acquaintances have their health devastated by the chemotherapy peddled by Gilead Sciences, Inc. and other purveyors of the “anti-retroviral” DNA chain terminators and protein synthesis inhibitors. Do the reading.

        1. Therea are mountain of data available easily through PubMed that show that HAART decreases morbidity and mortality, and I’m the one who needs to “Do the reading”? There are even studies showing the benefit of early HAART therapy versus starting later when CD4 values really begin to fall, although this is still a debated point. I’m sorry you’ve had friends who have suffered from the side effects. However, any reasonable person should conclude from studies that the benefits (life) outweigh the costs (sickness and death).

          You didn’t address my scenario (recurrent pneumonia in a man who is HIV+) and decided to create one of your own – an Ab+ asymptomatic man. This should not inspire trust in your readers.

          A few things that I don’t think you understand:
          1) “HIV positive” means a positive Ab screen followed by a positive test for viral protein (a western blot) which is very specific for HIV infection. Someone with a +Ab alone is called a “false positive”.
          2)Every drug has side effects. Every doctor knows that HAART has a bad side effect profile (in some cases comparable to chemotherapy). Fortunately there are a variety of meds if a patient has an adverse reaction.
          3) Most importantly, the refusal to start anti-retroviral therapy when the CD4 number starts plummeting is a suicide pact. It’s deeply upsetting to me that you tell people otherwise.

          Since evidence and extensive studies don’t seem to rattle your false impressions, I suggest you spend a day in an HIV clinic and compare the outcomes of patients who follow their HAART therapy and those who miss appointments and follow their regimens poorly.

  9. Speaking of scientific impurity, I was happy to see Samuelson leave this Earth forever. The guy was an ignoramus, his book trash.

    Yes, I had to use it as a text book. The guy knew less of economics than my four year old. May he rest in pieces.

  10. “Despite the documented lies that came from the ‘objective scientists’ pushing AGW, we are still true believers in their claims and their honesty, please don’t stop inviting us to the right cocktail parties.”.

  11. Climate science is fine as long as it is looking backwards, but it starts making predictions is where it becomes politicized.

    MNG’s HoaxBuster spoof-troll was a specious conflation of AGW skepticism and creationism for that exact reason. If “creationism” was a criticism of evolutionary theory based on evolution scientists looking at the record of the species and then postulating the imminent rise of a population of monsters that would destroy the human race and the only why to stop them would be to overturn the world economy and spend trillions and trillions of dollars to help mitigate the damage these monsters will do in the third world and a failed politician started pointing at every tree frog and lizard as evidence of the impending monster age and then the absence of said monsters were taken as proof they exist then I’d be a “evolution denier” as well.

    Whether the science is rock solid or not is not the debate we should be concerned about. What to do about what people have decided to do with the conclusions and, more importantly, the predictions of climate science is pure politics that the science no longer has anything to do with. No amount of science is going to solve the politics at this point.

    1. Add to this hypothetical evidence of fakery in their record of past evolution and their refusal to show us the fossils, just their own computer generated images of them….

    2. Climate science is fine as long as it is looking backwards, but it starts making predictions is where it becomes politicized.

      Nothing wrong with trying to build models of chaotic systems and trying to make predictions.

      The problem is when the people making the predictions have a political agenda.

      1. But where would you find someone who doesn’t have some sort of agenda? Again, the point of the article (and one that Ron has tried to spell out), is that there is nobody without an agenda. The problem is that there were a bunch of them given extraordinary power who acted as if they had no agenda and were somehow pure as the driven snow in this regard.

        You can’t get someone without an agenda (recognized or not) to make these predictions. So the problem you’ve defined would invalidate the whole. Of course they have agendas, and they shouldn’t pretend they don’t.

        1. Science, as in free and rational inquiry, has a method for dealing with this. But it’s been tossed out the window for expediency’s sake.

          “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

          “The median world temperature in 1986 was 63 degrees.” Not extraordinary claim.

          “The sea will rise a 100 meters in the next 20 years and drown us all!” Extraordinary claim.

        2. Welcome to the human race, dude. And when people (humans!) start wanting to literally change the way we live based on obviously politicized “science”, it’s time to say “fuck you”. The AGW crowd is so political they might as well run for office, and we’re supposed to take what they say without skepticism? FUCK YOU.

        3. But where would you find someone who doesn’t have some sort of agenda?

          “Everybody lies.”

          The question then is “when and about what?” That we have an ex-politician leading the AGW charge should be prima facia evidence of untruths being told and that every statement out of his mouth should be greeted with extreme skepticism.

          Not seeing too much of that skepticism on certain sides of the aisle.

        4. Everyone has an agenda, but few people actually become crusaders.

          I will leave the question of why crusaders work themselves into positions of policital authority to the discussion down-thread.

    3. I have to suggest that even if both sides became rational and open for discussion, it is impossible to use the science as a basis for argument because it is no longer science due to the fabrication of findings.
      That leaves us with the questions: if global warming is occurring and humans are responsible, can we do enough to change it? Is it wiser to cause catastrophic upheaval by destroying the economies of the developed world or to develop ways to adapt to the changing climate?

      1. And even if the science were settled, it cannot tell you what the “correct” course of action is for the future. That is an inherently political question, but we have had scientists posing as oracles telling us that science tells them what we must do in the light of the current situation.

        1. Untermensch,
          I think you nailed it here as long as we recognize that there are oracles on both sides of the debate. The doomsayers on both sides of the issue are using “science” to support their views whether they are predicting economic doom or climate doom.

          The reason I liked the editorial is because it helps to highlight that the political questions are informed by the science, but can’t be decided by the science.

          1. Absolutely NM. The oracles on the other side keep telling us that we need do nothing. It may be that the truth lies in the middle. But with the extremists on each side telling us that the nature of universe, as revealed by science, endows their positions with absolute rectitude, there is no room for those questions to be addressed in any form that will benefit us.

    4. Exactly. None of the proposed solutions make any sense & will all do more harm than good, but that makes no difference to the “do something” crowd.

      1. Gee, just like the “stimulus”.

    5. Good shit, SF. But then, I’m all hopped up on Hennepin.

  12. Many Republicans have been too reluctant to acknowledge strong evidence of human-caused warming

    “It’s caused by humans because we say it is” doesn’t come close to meeting my standard for “strong evidence”.

    If a prosecutor tried this lame trick in a jury trial, the jury would probably laugh him out of the courtroom, and justifiably so.

  13. This is the usual result of getting busted, first denial then compromise. The idea that both side are somehow on equal ground at this point is just continued weaseling. The skeptics are by default correct until proven otherwise. The skeptics were not trying to cause a panic, create global political and economic upheaval, and power grab. The fact that those who were doing this got caught doing it by fraud does not make things equal now. It makes the skeptical the correct position until some real science is produced to show otherwise. If someone were to say the real danger is global cooling now, would we just say: OK lets fix it at any cost, I trust you. That’s where we are now, not at some middle point of compromised science by politically determined consensus. Halfway between the truth and a lie is not where the truth lives.

    1. The Cosmpolitarians are just trying to maintain their cocktail party cred.

  14. Although climate science, in itself, could be benign, we are currently watching it be used as a tool of economic warfare against America. I can do without giving our enemies the ammunition in the form of “the world’s coming to an end because scientists say so”.

  15. I am serious with this question. Is the goal of pure science possible concerning the climate?

    Not now.

    Lysenkoism aside, proper data-gathering is too resource-intensive (and/or impossible), modeling of complex interdependent systems is too hard, and no one knows the right data to gather and which systems to include in what models, doing what to each other. Plus, climate Science! skipped the step where it’s supposed to try to figure out what the fuck it’s about. “Stuff! Shut up!”

    The science is stillborn. No one even knows what “climate” is. A branch of actual science with climate as its subject might arise someday, when we know the bounds of the term and how to juggle the numbers inside it.

    No one living now will see it.

  16. The terrible danger — one that has been brewing for years — is that the invaluable role science should play in informing policy and politics will be irrevocably undermined, as citizens come to see science as nothing more than a tool for partisans of all stripes….
    Fuck “science-informed” policy and politics.Kill it with fire.Look at all the wonderful stuff it leads to eugenics,the WoDs,all the nanny-state public health tyranny.Is there any statist anti-liberty “policy” that,on some level, isn’t pitched in part by an appeal to “science” of some sort?

    1. A little history never hurts:
      Drapetomania.

    2. Yep. Somebody please bring me the heads of the second-hand smoke scientists.

  17. Whenever politics gets involved in anything, it turns sour.

    I find it difficult to think of a scientific issue that’s had so much political clout since Galileo.

    What’s sad is that the AGW supporters seem much more interested in calling the skeptics “uneducated”, receiving scientific decree from on high, and protecting the scientists after cause for reasonable doubt has been introduced.

    I don’t want to violate anyone’s rights, but a little transparency and an attempt at honesty would be refreshing.

    I’m interested in finding out what’s really going on. Because the issue is politicized, that’s going to take a while.

    1. James,

      I think if you added “a small cadre of AGW supporters” to your statement, you might be closer to reality. Yes there is a lot of mudslinging, but the vast majority of discussion on the topic among scientists is well within the bounds of typical scientific debate.

      The recent Nature editorial was, imho, an example of where the debate in a serious scientific forum went too far into the realm of politics, but for the most part, the debate in the journals is fairly respectful.

      1. the debate in the journals is fairly respectful.

        Nature called skeptics deniers comparing them to holocaust deniers.

        You calling that respectful only exposes how much of a hack you are.

        1. Joshua,
          Your statement is highly revealing in the context of what I actually wrote…

          Your lack of self-awareness is impressive.

          1. BAH!!

            Reread what you wrote and you are right and i was wrong.

            The recent Nature editorial was, imho, an example of where the debate in a serious scientific forum went too far into the realm of politics

  18. As for the science becoming a bloody shirt to wave… the left started it.

    AS MUCH I like teasing the AGW fanatics, it has always been my contention that it is the proposed solutions to AGW that I object to, because of the several skipped steps in the evidence chain from “AGW is real” to “This economically destructive method is the only way to fix it!”

    But how did the science become political? Who started that? The left did, by insisting that the evidence of AGW implied that their solution was the only correct one to fix a catastrophic problem that hadn’t been proven to exist yet. Proponents of The Solution bolstered their claims with science that did not and does not “prove” what they are advocating. But by insisting that the science said what it did not, the left made the science the locus of debate, rather than what to do about the data.

    And, most damagingly, the CRU scandal points to the fact that some advocates of The Solution began to work backwards on the problem, assuming the conclusion and stripping out facts that didn’t fit it. (Australia weather stations cherry-picking and the exclusion of 40% of Russia’s data, focusing on Siberia, is part and parcel of this type of behavior.) You know who else employs this totally flawed model for their “science”? Creationism.

    Assume that all the data when analyzed proved to everyone but the most blind partisan that a warming trend exists… it still does not endorse The Solution. There are about half-a-dozen questions the existence of a warming trend does not and can not answer.

    1. To be fair, the Right politicized it by denying all the science from the get-go, rather than proposing alternatives to the Solution.

      1. But if the science wasn’t being used as a rhetorical weapon that wouldn’t have been the case. Both are guilty. Both. But the left used the science for the wrong ends first, and therefore put it in play. Everyone tries to frame a debate to their advantage, I totally agree with that. But you end up having debates on where your opponent attempts to center them.

        Left: A implies G!
        Right: G is crazy!
        Left: But, but… how dare you deny A!
        Right: I’m talking about G!
        Left: But, but… A!
        Right: Here’s what’s wrong with A.

        You want to hit someone with a stick, don’t squeal when they hit you with it in return.

        1. A hockey stick?

          1. ah cha cha cha

        2. Left: But, but… A!
          Right: Here’s what’s wrong with A.

          We are actaully past this point

          Left: But, but… A!
          Right: Here’s what’s wrong with A.
          Left: But, but… A!
          Right: what? i just showed you what was wrong with A.
          Left: But, but… A!
          Right: Are you insane? Here is how A is wrong.
          Left: But, but… A!
          Right: I don not understand why you keep talking about A when it has been proven wrong.
          Left: But, but… A!
          Right: Fuck you. Here are some emails showing how you and those who support you are crooks. And how A was manufactured using faulty data and methodology and how criticism of A was prevented from entering peer-review.
          Left: You are playing politics!!!!

          1. Again a very revealing post. When did this become a left/right issue?

            You are positing here that the “right” has the correct answer to “A.” Really?

            You are claiming in this scenario that the “right” has “proven wrong” A. At the same time representing the “left” as stating their case based on no evidence.

            Do you really think this is how this debate plays out?

            1. Again a very revealing post. When did this become a left/right issue?

              I was just continuing the line from Sugerfree. If it was my own I would have chosen different names then right and left.

              If it makes you happy feel free to substitute left for warmist and right for skeptic in my writings. This reflects my view more clearly then the left/right names.

              Do you really think this is how this debate plays out?

              When it was demonstrated using Mann’s methodology that red noise rather then temperature data will produce a hockey stick…yes

              When it was demonstrated that Briffa used only 16 trees to produce modern temperature proxy data that matched up with instrument data but ignored larger sets of proxy data that showed a divergence…yes

              When it was demonstrated that current temperatures since 1992 are much lower then projected temperatures based on AGW models…yes

              There are more but you get the idea. Also all this stuff happened before cliamtegate.

              1. When it was demonstrated using Mann’s methodology that red noise rather then temperature data will produce a hockey stick…yes

                This ignores the follow up work that supported Mann’s original findings. Follow up work that used a variety of methods to show that the finding was not dependent upon the particulars in Mann’s analysis. Mann, also, updated his work to address the concerns raised and the later work is not reflected in your comment.

                When it was demonstrated that Briffa used only 16 trees to produce modern temperature proxy data that matched up with instrument data but ignored larger sets of proxy data that showed a divergence…yes

                This also is a vary narrow claim that ignore subsequent work.

                When it was demonstrated that current temperatures since 1992 are much lower then projected temperatures based on AGW models…yes

                I don’t have a context for this one, so I can’t comment. It does not fit with the literature I have read.

                More importantly, it ignores the larger point in my post. These are all situations where evidence was used to support A and counter evidence was put forth to dispute A. We can debate who had more or more valid data in each case, but your hypothetical scenario as outlined above was of a one-sided debate between faith and evidence.

                That was what I was calling you on.

  19. the CRU scandal points to the fact that some advocates of The Solution began to work backwards on the problem, assuming the conclusion and stripping out facts that didn’t fit it

    Stop pointing out fatal injuries to the fundamentalists, NutraSweet. You’ll just make them shill harder.

  20. I was just reading an article in the Atlantic City Press about how there are now 84 pairs of nesting American Bald Eagles in the state of NJ. That’s up from 69 last year and 1 (one) in 1980.

    What does that have to do with AGW? Does the book Silent Spring ring a bell? There seems to be some parallels between the AGW and DDT arguments. If memory serves me, there were many DDT deniers in the 70s. The science of the two may totally different, but it seems the politics are very similar. The DDT case went all the way to the US Court of Appeals. Perhaps AGW is headed for court also.

    http://www.pressofatlanticcity…..002e0.html

    1. Wasn’t it the government that encouraged extensive use of DDT?

    2. Oh good grief, this old myth about bald eagles and DDT was discredited years ago.

  21. Science could not survive the growth of the state.

    The golden age of science occurred when the best scientists could hope to achieve with their work was market outcomes enhanced with prestige. When the rewards for doing good scientific work were:

    1. Invent something and make money.
    2. Get a job with a private university where the people think you’re smart.
    3. Get an award with a financial component from some private group.

    …we had good science. Still lots of temptation from fraud, but not a systemic bias towards fraud. The best way to achieve each of these things, and to maintain them once achieved, was to do good work.

    But in science, as in every other area of life, the growth of the state has had a pernicious influence by creating perverse incentives, all of which have worked to corrupt science. NOW the potential rewards open to science are:

    1. Get politicians to hand you money if your findings match what they want to believe.
    2. Get billion-dollar industries restructured at the point of a gun according to your preferences.
    3. Save Da Earth.
    4. Get contracts to develop weapons.
    5. Destroy your personal enemies and competitors by getting them boxed out of all this good stuff.

    Every one of these possible outcomes contains built-in structural incentives for fraud.

    The state has morally destroyed science in the same way it morally destroys everything else it touches. We should not be surprised.

    1. Very well said, sir.

    2. Is science fiction to blame? Did it give some scientists a Messiah complex?

      1. Piers Anthony is to blame. Also, Zelazny.

      2. Maybe. If people are acting out an existential fantasy where they’re heroic, or where The Stakes Are High, or where The Fate Of The World Is In Your Hands, they can be tempted to make the same old Leninist mistakes for the same old Leninist reasons.

      3. Does pornography cause rape? Or are rapits drawn to pornography?

        1. RAPE! USE PINE PITCH AS LUBE!

    3. Let’s not stoop to revising history. There was very little profit to be made from the work of Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, Faraday, etc. They worked for wealthy patrons and/or monarchs who liked the prestige of having this new breed of hero, the scientist, associated with them. It wasn’t until the 19th (for chemistry and mechanics) and the 20th (for electromagnetics) that pure research became profitable in the private sector.

      Please consider some of the brutal, despotic regimes that science fluorished under in past centuries…and tell me again that science could not survive the growth of the state. Science has watched the state shrink and grow over and over.

      1. I sat through a Cornel West speech where at some point, he said that Thomas Edison doesn’t count as a scientist in the way that Einstein or an academic would.
        This was not the only problem with the speech.

      2. Newton worked for Trinity College, which was a private institution. After its founding [when the king gave it plundered land from the Catholic Church and other suppressed colleges] it did not receive direct state support. And he did his best work while at home on sabbatical. Newton was not a state scientist.

        Galileo worked at the University of Padua, which was a purely private institution and was originally founded as a private collaborative of professors and students.

        Faraday made his living by working as the fucking valet of a chemist working for the Royal Institution, which despite its name was a private organization founded and funded by philanthropists.

        Maxwell worked at a succession of universities, which were a mixture of private and state-sponsored.

        “Private” and “for profit” are not synonyms. Ask the Reason foundation.

        1. Please point out where any of those fellows followed the model you laid out for the good scientists of former days:

          The golden age of science occurred when the best scientists could hope to achieve with their work was market outcomes enhanced with prestige. When the rewards for doing good scientific work were:

          1. Invent something and make money.
          2. Get a job with a private university where the people think you’re smart.
          3. Get an award with a financial component from some private group.

          …we had good science.

      3. Actually, much technological development was given impetus by warfare. Technology is a survival tool.

  22. This is real easy to fix. Science is based on data. Give us the original data. Let anyone who is interested run statistical analyses and discuss the results… Oh wait. The data is gone. What you’re doing isn’t science if you don’t retain the original data, its supposition and bullshit. Anyone who took a college science lab should know that. It doesn’t even matter what your motives were for failing to retain the data. No data, no science.

  23. COP15: Climate ‘scepticism’ and questions about sex

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/the…..t_sex.html

    …So what’s going on? Why is this issue such a gender-divider?

    You might think it’s a trite question; but I would argue it’s not, for the following reason.

    There are two distinct views of why climate scepticism exists in the way it does today.

    One – promulgated by many sceptics themselves – speaks to a rigorous, analytical deconstruction of a deeply-flawed scientific edifice that is maintained by a self-interested cabal of tax-hungry politicians and careerist scientists.

    The other is that climate scepticism has psychological roots; that it stems from a deep-seated inability or unwillingness to accept the overwhelming evidence that humanity has built with coal and lubricated with oil its own handcart whose destination board reads “climate hell”.

    As one ex-scientist and now climate action advocate put it to me rather caustically a while back: “I’ve been debating the science with them for years, but recently I realised we shouldn’t be talking about the science but about something unpleasant that happened in their childhood”.

    Perhaps an answer to the gender issue will help illuminate this much bigger and politically significant question….

    1. You will probably find similar numbers on skeptics of other religions, too.

    2. The other is that climate scepticism has psychological roots; that it stems from a deep-seated inability or unwillingness to accept the overwhelming evidence that humanity has built with coal and lubricated with oil its own handcart whose destination board reads “climate hell”.

      Sounds like an emotional reaction on his part as well.

      As for me, I’m skeptical because:

      1 I tend toward skepticism
      2 Some notable scientists who’ve done research are not persuaded by the case made for AGWC theory.
      3 Geohistorical context.

    3. Most politicians and most scientist are men….

      Wow it sure is weird how most skeptical politicians and scientists are men.

  24. …evolution scientists looking at the record of the species and then postulating the imminent rise of a population of monsters that would destroy the human race and the only why to stop them would be…
    forced sterilization, euthanasia, barbed wire, boxcars, Zyklon-B…

  25. Episiarch is right. Real science requires professional skepticism and requires that those asserting the truth of a proposition establish its accuracy. Climate science turned this on its head and declared any skepticism to be a cross between abject stupidity and unredeemed evil. We were told that climate change was so self-evidently true that merely to question its existence was to demonstrate your unworthiness. Against this background, to find that the supporters of this theory attempted to conceal and cook data is doubly embarassing.

    1. Well, climate change seems to be a fact of the geological record. What is contestable is:

      1 net positive feedback
      2 the significance of anthropogenic contribution
      3 a tipping point
      4 etc.

  26. The scientific method has a built-in safeguard against science being corrupted by individual humans’ imperfections: the requirement that results be independently confirmed by other experimenters or observers. In this case, that means the data and code needs to be made available to the scientific community — a basic procedure once believed to be ignored by CRU, and now in light of Climategate known to have been deliberately avoided by them to prevent “giving deniers ammunition.” Hiding information to prevent one’s conclusions from coming into question is the mark of a Scientologist, not a scientist.

  27. Personally, I would be willing to give the AGW supporters some credence if they would disavow the previous mistakes and outright fallacies made by some of their more popular leaders (yeah, I’m talking about you Al).

    But every time the skeptics come to the supporters with a correction to their statements or claims, it is met with outright hysteria and claims of heresy, not acceptance and a willingness to improve the model.

    The AGW supporters must reign in their demagogues before I will believe a word they have to say. Until then, I will take everything they say with a large helping of disbelief.

  28. The choices are extraordinarily difficult; the costs of action, and inaction, are potentially momentous.

    The difference being that inaction now will cost nothing as action can always be taken later as our understanding grows.

    The cost of action now especially if it is the wrong action comes at a huge cost.

    Given the fact that “we are equally aware that the consequences of both climate change and climate policies remain highly uncertain.” Simple reason says the wait and see policy is the least expensive given the unknowns.

    No one can argue against the fact that our understanding of the climate will be greater in the future then it is now, and furthermore most skeptics do act in good faith.

    I am not like Tony and MNG and Chad in that i will change my views given changing facts. Most skeptics are the same.

    So lets actually look at the science rather then placing our faith in authority. Lets look at the science rather then let crooks like Mann and Jones and Briffa prevent us from looking at at.

    Free the data from cliamte gatekeepers

    Free the peer-review from cliamtegatekeeps

    Free the science from climategatekeepers.

    1. The difference being that inaction now will cost nothing as action can always be taken later as our understanding grows.

      Ever heard the expression “a stitch in time saves nine”? Not that I agree with the climate-asserters, but in some situations, pausing to deliberate rather than acting may cost a high amount.

      1. but in some situations, pausing to deliberate rather than acting may cost a high amount.

        You missed this part:

        we are equally aware that the consequences of both climate change and climate policies remain highly uncertain.

        This is a case when the consequences are unknown.

        Of course in situations where it is known action is can be assessed reasonably and taken if reasonable to prevent harm.

        My argument is not against taking reasoned action to prevent a known.

    2. i will change my views given changing facts. Most skeptics are the same.

      Tautologically, yes.
      That said, I am forced to wonder what you see as lacking in the current evidence. Most of your comments seem focused on issues of reliability versus issues of validity.

      1. I know the world is warmer then it was 30 years ago.

        I do not know if it is warmer then it was during the MWP or other warm periods and i do not know if the current warming is different in character that it can be attributed to CO2 and human causes.

        I don not know if the character of the current warming even if it is attributed to CO2 is different is a manner that will cause more harm then past natural warming periods.

        I do know a minute amount of CO2 rise will rise global temperatures minutely. I do not know if this will cause other forcings (water vapor) to push warming up even further.

        Weather these concerns are concerns of reliability or concerns of validity i leave to you.

        1. But WHY don’t you have answer to these things? What causes evidence is missing that leads to your uncertainty?

          When you discuss these things you seem focused on reliability, not validity. And more to the point, you seem focused on the reliability of a small set of studies rather than the larger literature on each of these topics.

          1. I do not understand your reliability vs validity argument. If the reliability of the studies are bad then it can’t be proven to be valid. Perhaps i am missing your point.

            you seem focused on the reliability of a small set of studies rather than the larger literature on each of these topics.

            As you can see i have conceded that it has warmed over the past 30 years. I will even go further and say it is likely that it has warmed over the past 100. With this in mind much of the broader lit focuses on melting glaciers and droughts and rising sea levels and other things. It is getting warmer so why would i argue that the warming did not cause these things. this throws out a bunch of studies. They prove current warming. I do not argue the current warming so they do not conflict with my skepticism.

            Next you have studies that look at consequences. Greeenland will melt and rise sea levels if AGW is true. these studies focus on the consequences of future warming caused by global warming and do not actually prove global warming….they are like those “what if..” comics from the early 80s. Anyone can can write a study showing the consequences of say an asteroid hitting the earth. It does not mean an asteroid will hit the earth. These studies do not conflict with my skepticism, and again do not need to be looked at.

            If you look at the IPCC report there are only like 60 scientists who worked on the attribution sections of the report. This is the heart of my skepticism as i mentioned above.

            This is why I focus on a few scientists and a few studies. They are the scientists and studies which actually form the bases for attributing current warming with AGW.

            1. Joshua,

              To keep it schematic, reliability is indeed a prerequisite for drawing a conclusion and saying you have a valid finding. But that is focused on the level of an individual study (for the most part). That is what the peer review process is about, to weed out studies that have not met minimum standards of this sort. But reliability doesn’t address issues of validity, it addresses confidence in a specific, a particular.

              If a scientific inference is based on an unreliable study or finding, this will be discovered when the finding is not replicated. If your sole focus is reliability, you will want to replicate the details of the study using the same data to show that the methods do or do not work reliably. This is what Steve M is focused on, for the most part, for example. But it is a question that does not touch on the validity of the inferences that are being drawn from the science.

              If you want to test the validity of an inference, you want to replicate the finding using a variety of methods and data to show that the inference is robust. A study that replicates the finding using different data and different methods moves us closer to determining the validity of the inference in a way that knowing the reliability can not.

              The validity, from my perspective, of AGW comes from the second kind of replications. The general inferences are supported by a variety of studies, using a variety of data and methods. In that context, the reliability of an individual study is a trivial (or at least narrow) issue that if found to be lacking does not damage the larger evidence for the validity of the hypothesis.

              This is why the CRU emails are not a threat to the validity of the AGW hypothesis, in my view. In the worst case, if they showed that a specific study or researcher’s work had to be thrown out, they would not significantly damage the larger web of evidence that supports the general concept.

              This gets to the “Hidden Data” question. It is, perhaps, important if you want to establish the reliability of a specific finding coming out of CRU. But in the context of the larger questions, an examination of the validity would not need it. In fact, if the findings are dependent upon that hidden data, then an examination focused on validity would discover that BECAUSE the data would not be available. IF that hidden data was COOKED DATA and that cooking was the foundation of the finding, the fraud would be revealed and the people putting forth the claim would have to back up their claims.

              1. This is why the CRU emails are not a threat to the validity of the AGW hypothesis, in my view.

                There are no studies outside of the CRU group* that can attribute current global warning to AGW. How can something be valid of all the studies involved in that validation are unreliable?

                These people are the authors editors and reviewers of the attribution chapters of the IPCC report…there are no other verifying studies.

                *the poeple in the emails not just the CRU. They have called themselves “The Team” in the past.

                1. Here you need to demonstrate that the emails call in to question each of those researchers and all of their work. I don’t think the emails do anything close to that. Like I said, you would need to show that the whole web of evidence falls apart. I don’t think that has been done AT ALL at this point.

                  I also think you overstate your case in the extreme when you say “no studies.”

                  For instance, here are the authors of a study that attributes warming to AGW: Cynthia Rosenzweig, David Karoly, Marta Vicarelli, Peter Neofotis, Qigang Wu, Gino Casassa,
                  Annette Menzel, Terry L. Root, Nicole Estrella, Bernard Seguin, Piotr Tryjanowski, Chunzhen Liu,
                  Samuel Rawlins & Anton Imeson

                  How many are connected to specific problems revealed in the emails from the CRU?

                  They all published a systematic review of the question looking at 80 studies done over 3 decades.
                  Vol 453| 15 May 2008| doi:10.1038/nature06937
                  Attributing physical and biological impacts to anthropogenic climate change

                  How many of those 80 studies are called into question by the emails?

                  1. Attributing physical and biological impacts to anthropogenic climate change.

                    I think i covered this. I am looking for evidence of why recent global warming is AGW. the studies you cite are simply “what if” studies and chronicles of recent warming.

                    Yes glaciers are melting and sea levels are rising and bla bla bla….but what makes these things a product of AGW and not simply natural global warming?

                    1. That seems to be a miss reading of the systematic review. It was a review of studies of warming that showed that warming was not consistent with natural variability.

                      e.g.,

                      The statistical agreement between the locations and directions of observed significant changes in natural systems and observed significant warming across Asia and North America (P,0.05) and across Europe (P,0.1) is very unlikely to be due to natural variability alone (Fig.3)

                    2. We can also look at this review.

                      The Detection and Attribution of Human Influence on Climate*
                      Annual Review of Environment and Resources
                      Vol. 34: 1-16 (Volume publication date November 2009)

                      D?ith? A. Stone, Myles R. Allen, Peter A. Stott, Pardeep Pall, Seung-Ki Min, Toru Nozawa, and Seiji Yukimoto

                      The detection and attribution of the effect of anthropogenic forcings on global mean temperature is so robust that it holds even in extremely simple models of the climate system (20). It also holds at subglobal scales; in particular, the effect of anthropogenic emissions has been detected in the temperature changes over all seven continents (21, 22).

                      How many of these scientists are you worried about due to the CRU emails?

                      And how does that concern effect the validity of the 51 studies they cite in support of their conclusions?

                      Including these
                      Stone DA, Allen MR. 2005. Attribution of global surface warming without dynamical models. Geophys. Res. Lett. 32:L18711
                      21. Stott PA. 2003. Attribution of regional-scale temperature changes to anthropogenic and natural causes. Geophys. Res. Lett. 30:1724
                      22. Gillett NP, Stone DA, Stott PA, Nozawa T, Karpechko AY, et al. 2008. Attribution of polar warming to human influence. Nat. Geosci. 1:750?54

                    3. Importantly, this is just a couple of review articles that pop up in the first page of a google scholar search.

                      Am I missing something here?

  29. What irritates me about this is that the AGW-pushing crowd has split up into two camps in their reactions to Climategate. Some are in denial, desperately trying to change the subject to why those evil hackers aren’t being prosecuted, and how the emails aren’t real or are taken out of context, etc.

    Then there are those who gently criticize the implicated scientists at CRU, but dismiss their actions as just the inevitable result of imperfect humans doing science. As I stated above, these “scientists” are supposed to follow the scientific method which helps correct for their imperfections, but they chose not to. Just like how we correct for the fact that our shit smells bad by training people to deposit it in a toilet rather than wherever they happen to be standing when the urge comes.

  30. It seems to me that a useful method of validating atmospheric modeling would be running the models backwards and see if they produce the same data as the actual temperature and weather readings for a given period.

    Has anyone successfully done this? And if so, what does their modeling say about future trends?

    Has anyone who modeled the 00s in the 90s been proven out?

    1. I would think that if someone has a predictive model we would have seen it by now.

    2. Hell, I can make any model you give me run backwards and match historical data. That’s easy. Making useful predictions about the future? A bit harder.

      I’m also interested in, and haven’t bothered to check, what the accuracy limits are on these predictions. If you tell me the world temperature may increase 3 C with an accuracy of +/- 2.5 C, I’m going to ignore you. If your accuracy isn’t a least a tenth of your prediction, you’re making shit up.

  31. Here’s a good comment on the LA Times op/ed:

    http://www.samizdata.net/blog/…..the_2.html

  32. Experts have talked about this before. How many times have you read about the importance of ‘adding value’ for your audience? How many times have you read about ‘building trust’ with your readers/prospects?
    Many, many times. You know it well. Every marketing guru has spoken about this topic. I’m sick of hearing it. But it STILL bears repeating.

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