Climategate: Plausibility and the blogosphere in the post-normal age.

I’m honored to offer this guest post by Jerome Ravetz, of Oxford University in the UK. Mr. Ravetz is an environmental consultant and professor of philosophy of science best known for his books challenging the assumptions of scientific objectivity, discussing the science wars and post-normal science. Read more about him at his personal web page here, his Oxford page here, or at his blog the Post-normal Times. Also, my thanks to WUWT regular “tallbloke” for his facilitation. – Anthony

Guest post by Jerome Ravetz

At the end of January 2010 two distinguished scientific institutions shared headlines with Tony Blair over accusations of the dishonest and possibly illegal manipulation of information.  Our ‘Himalayan glaciers melting by 2035′  of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is matched by his ‘dodgy dossier’ of Saddam’s fictitious subversions.  We had the violations of the Freedom of Information Act at the University of East Anglia; he has the extraordinary 70-year gag rule on the David Kelly suicide file. There was ‘the debate is over’ on one side, and ‘WMD beyond doubt’ on the other. The parallels are significant and troubling, for on both sides they involve a betrayal of public trust.

Politics will doubtless survive, for it is not a fiduciary institution; but for science the dangers are real.  Climategate is particularly significant because it cannot be blamed on the well-known malign influences from outside science, be they greedy corporations or an unscrupulous State.  This scandal, and the resulting crisis, was created by people within science who can be presumed to have been acting with the best of intentions.  In the event of a serious discrediting of the global-warming claims, public outrage would therefore be directed at the community of science itself, and (from within that community) at its leaders who were either ignorant or complicit until the scandal was blown open.  If we are to understand Climategate, and move towards a restoration of trust, we should consider the structural features of the situation that fostered and nurtured the damaging practices.  I believe that the ideas of Post-Normal Science (as developed by Silvio Funtowicz and myself) can help our understanding.

There are deep problems of the management of uncertainty in science in the policy domain, that will not be resolved by more elaborate quantification.  In the gap between science and policy, the languages, their conventions and their implications are effectively incommensurable.  It takes determination and skill for a scientist who is committed to social responsibility, to avoid becoming a ‘stealth advocate’ (in the terms of Roger Pielke Jr.).  When the policy domain seems unwilling or unable to recognise plain and urgent truths about a problem, the contradictions between scientific probity and campaigning zeal become acute.  It is a perennial problem for all policy-relevant science, and it seems to have happened on a significant scale in the case of climate science.  The management of uncertainty and quality in such increasingly common situations is now an urgent task for the governance of science.

We can begin to see what went seriously wrong when we examine what the leading practitioners of this ‘evangelical science’ of global warming (thanks to Angela Wilkinson) took to be the plain and urgent truth in their case.  This was not merely that there are signs of exceptional disturbance in the ecosphere due to human influence, nor even that the climate might well be changing more rapidly now than for a very long time.  Rather, they propounded, as a proven fact, Anthropogenic Carbon-based Global Warming.  There is little room for uncertainty in this thesis; it effectively needs hockey-stick behaviour in all indicators of global temperature, so that it is all due to industrialisation.  Its iconic image is the steadily rising graph of CO2 concentrations over the past fifty years at the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii (with the implicit assumption that CO2  had always previously been at or below that starting level).  Since CO2 has long been known to be a greenhouse gas, with scientific theories quantifying its effects, the scientific case for this dangerous trend could seem to be overwhelmingly simple, direct, and conclusive.

In retrospect, we can ask why this particular, really rather extreme view of the prospect, became the official one.  It seems that several causes conspired.  First, the early opposition to any claim of climate change was only partly scientific; the tactics of the opposing special interests were such as to induce the proponents to adopt a simple, forcefully argued position.  Then, once the position was adopted, its proponents became invested in it, and attached to it, in all sorts of ways, institutional and personal.  And I suspect that a simplified, even simplistic claim, was more comfortable for these scientists than one where complexity and uncertainty were acknowledged.  It is not merely a case of the politicians and public needing a simple, unequivocal message.  As Thomas Kuhn described ‘normal science’, which (as he said) nearly all scientists do all the time, it is puzzle-solving within an unquestioned framework or ‘paradigm’.  Issues of uncertainty and quality are not prominent in ‘normal’ scientific training, and so they are less easily conceived and managed by its practitioners.

Now, as Kuhn saw, this ‘normal’ science has been enormously successful in enabling our unprecedented understanding and control of the world around us.  But his analysis related to the sciences of the laboratory, and by extension the technologies that could reproduce stable and controllable external conditions for their working.  Where the systems under study are complicated, complex or poorly understood, that ‘textbook’ style of investigation becomes less, sometimes much less, effective.  The near-meltdown of the world’s financial system can be blamed partly on naïvely reductionist economics and misapplied simplistic statistics.  The temptation among ‘normal’ scientists is to work as if their material is as simple as in the lab.  If nothing else, that is the path to a steady stream of publications, on which a scientific career now so critically depends.  The most obvious effect of this style is the proliferation of computer simulations, which give the appearance of solved puzzles even when neither data nor theory provide much support for the precision of their numerical outputs.  Under such circumstances, a refined appreciation of uncertainty in results is inhibited, and even awareness of quality of workmanship can be atrophied.

In the course of the development of climate-change science, all sorts of loose ends were left unresolved and sometimes unattended.  Even the most fundamental quantitative parameter of all, the forcing factor relating the increase in mean temperature to a doubling of CO2, lies somewhere between 1 and 3 degrees, and is thus uncertain to within a factor of 3.  The precision (at about 2%) in the statements of the ‘safe limits’ of CO2 concentration, depending on calculations with this factor, is not easily justified.  Also, the predictive power of the global temperature models has been shown to depend more on the ‘story line’ than anything else, the end-of century increase in temperature ranging variously from a modest one degree to a catastrophic six.  And the ‘hockey stick’ picture of the past, so crucial for the strict version of the climate change story, has run into increasingly severe problems.  As an example, it relied totally on a small set of deeply uncertain tree-ring data for the Medieval period, to refute the historical evidence of a warming then; but it needed to discard that sort of data for recent decades, as they showed a sudden cooling from the 1960′s onwards!  In the publication, the recent data from other sources were skilfully blended in so that the change was not obvious; that was the notorious ‘Nature trick’ of the CRU e-mails.

Even worse, for the warming case to have political effect, a mere global average rise in temperature was not compelling enough.  So that people could appreciate the dangers, there needed to be predictions of future climate – or even weather – in the various regions of the world.  Given the gross uncertainties in even the aggregated models, regional forecasts are really beyond the limits of science.  And yet they have been provided, with various degrees of precision.  Those announced by the IPCC have become the most explosive.

As all these anomalies and unsolved puzzles emerged, the neat, compelling picture became troubled and even confused.  In Kuhn’s analysis, this would be the start of a ‘pre-revolutionary’ phase of normal science.  But the political cause had been taken up by powerful advocates, like Al Gore.  We found ourselves in another crusading ‘War’, like those on (non-alcoholic) Drugs and ‘Terror’.  This new War, on Carbon, was equally simplistic, and equally prone to corruption and failure.  Global warming science became the core element of this major worldwide campaign to save the planet.  Any weakening of the scientific case would have amounted to a betrayal of the good cause, as well as a disruption of the growing research effort.  All critics, even those who were full members of the scientific peer community, had to be derided and dismissed.  As we learned from the CRU e-mails, they were not considered to be entitled to the normal courtesies of scientific sharing and debate.  Requests for information were stalled, and as one witty blogger has put it, ‘peer review’ was replaced by ‘pal review’.

Even now, the catalogue of unscientific practices revealed in the mainstream media is very small in comparison to what is available on the blogosphere.  Details of shoddy science and dirty tricks abound.  By the end, the committed inner core were confessing to each other that global temperatures were falling, but it was far too late to change course.  The final stage of corruption, cover-up, had taken hold.  For the core scientists and the leaders of the scientific communities, as well as for nearly all the liberal media, ‘the debate was over’.  Denying Climate Change received the same stigma as denying the Holocaust.  Even the trenchant criticisms of the most egregious errors in the IPCC reports were kept ‘confidential’.  And then came the e-mails.

We can understand the root cause of Climategate as a case of scientists constrained to attempt to do normal science in a post-normal situation. But climate change had never been a really ‘normal’ science, because the policy implications were always present and strong, even overwhelming.  Indeed, if we look at the definition of ‘post-normal science’, we see how well it fits:  facts uncertain,values in dispute, stakes high, and decisions urgent.  In needing to treat Planet Earth like a textbook exercise, the climate scientists were forced to break the rules of scientific etiquette and ethics, and to play scientific power-politics in a way that inevitably became corrupt.  The combination of non-critical ‘normal science’ with anti-critical ‘evangelical science’ was lethal. As in other ‘gate’ scandals, one incident served to pull a thread on a tissue of protective plausibilities and concealments, and eventually led to an unravelling.  What was in the e-mails could be largely explained in terms of embattled scientists fighting off malicious interference; but the materials ready and waiting on the blogosphere provided a background, and that is what converted a very minor scandal to a catastrophe.

Consideration of those protective plausibilities can help to explain how the illusions could persist for so long until their sudden collapse.  The scientists were all reputable, they published in leading peer-reviewed journals, and their case was itself highly plausible and worthy in a general way.  Individual criticisms were, for the public and perhaps even for the broader scientific community, kept isolated and hence muffled and lacking in systematic significance.  And who could have imagined that at its core so much of the science was unsound?  The plausibility of the whole exercise was, as it were, bootstrapped.  I myself was alerted to weaknesses in the case by some caveats in Sir David King’s book The Hot Topic; and I had heard of the hockey-stick affair.  But even I was carried along by the bootstrapped plausibility, until the scandal broke. (I have benefited from the joint project on plausibility in science of colleagues in Oxford and at the Arizona State University).

Part of the historic significance of Climategate is that the scandal was so effectively and quickly exposed.  Within a mere two months of the first reports in the mainstream media, the key East Anglia scientists and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were discredited.  Even if only a fraction of their scientific claims were eventually refuted, their credibility as trustworthy scientists was lost.  To explain how it all happened so quickly and decisively, we have the confluence of two developments, one social and the other technical.  For the former, there is a lesson of Post-Normal Science, that we call the Extended Peer Community.  In traditional ‘normal’ science, the peer community, performing the functions of quality-assurance and governance, is strictly confined to the researchers who share the paradigm.  In the case of ‘professional consultancy’, the clients and/or sponsors also participate in governance.  We have argued that in the case of Post-Normal Science, the ‘extended peer community’, including all affected by the policy being implemented, must be fully involved.  Its particular contribution will depend on the nature of the core scientific problem, and also on the phase of investigation.  Detailed technical work is a task for experts, but quality-control on even that work can be done by those with much broader expertise.  And on issues like the definition of the problem itself, the selection of personnel, and crucially the ownership of the results, the extended peer community has full rights of participation.  This principle is effectively acknowledged in many jurisdictions, and for many policy-related problems.  The theory of Post-Normal Science goes beyond the official consensus in recognising ‘extended facts’, that might be local knowledge and values, as well as unoffficially obtained information.

The task of creating and involving the extended peer community (generally known as ‘participation’) has been recognised as difficult, with its own contradictions and pitfalls.  It has grown haphazardly, with isolated successes and failures.  Hitherto, critics of scientific matters have been relegated to a sort of samizdat world, exchanging private letters or writing books that can easily be ignored (as not being peer-reviewed) by the ruling establishment.  This has generally been the fate of even the most distinguished and responsible climate-change critics, up to now.  A well-known expert in uncertainty management, Jeroen van der Sluijs, explicitly condemned the ‘overselling of certainty’ and predicted the impending destruction of trust; but he received no more attention than did Nikolas Taleb in warning of the ‘fat tails’ in the probability distributions of securities that led to the Credit Crunch. A prominent climate scientist, Mike Hulme, provided a profound analysis in Why We Disagree About Climate Change, in terms of complexity and uncertainty.  But since legitimate disagreement was deemed nonexistent, he too was ignored.

To have a political effect, the ‘extended peers’ of science have traditionally needed to operate largely by means of activist pressure-groups using the media to create public alarm. In this case, since the global warmers had captured the moral high ground, criticism has remained scattered and ineffective, except on the blogosphere.  The position of Green activists is especially difficult, even tragic; they have been ‘extended peers’ who were co-opted into the ruling paradigm, which in retrospect can be seen as a decoy or diversion from the real, complex issues of sustainability, as shown by Mike Hulme.  Now they must do some very serious re-thinking about their position and their role.

The importance of the new media of communications in mass politics, as in the various ‘rainbow revolutions’ is well attested.  To understand how the power-politics of science have changed in the case of Climategate, we can take a story from the book Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirkey.  There were two incidents in the Boston U.S.A. diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, involving the shuffling of paeodophile priests around parishes.  The first time, there was a criminal prosecution, with full exposure in the press, and then nothing happened.  The second time, the outraged parents got on their cell phones and organised; and eventually Cardinal Archbishop Bernard Francis Law (who had started as a courageous cleric in the ‘60’s) had to leave for Rome in disgrace.  The Climategate affair shows the  importance of the new IT for science, as an empowerment of the extended peer community.

The well-known principle, ‘knowledge is power’ has its obverse, ‘ignorance is impotence’.  And ignorance is maintained, or eventually overcome, by a variety of socio-technical means.  With the invention of cheap printing on paper, the Bible could be widely read, and heretics became Reformers. The social activity of science as we know it expanded and grew through the age of printing.  But knowledge was never entirely free, and the power-politics of scientific legitimacy remained quite stable for centuries.  The practice of science has generally been restricted to a social elite and its occasional recruits, as it requires a prior academic education and a sufficiency of leisure and of material resources.  With the new information technology, all that is changing rapidly.  As we see from the ‘open source’ movement, many people play an active role in enjoyable technological development in the spare time that their job allows or even encourages.  Moreover, all over IT there are blogs that exercise quality control on the industry’s productions.  In this new knowledge industry, the workers can be as competent as the technicians and bosses.  The new technologies of information enable the diffusion of scientific competence and the sharing of unofficial information, and hence give power to peer communities that are extended far beyond the Ph.D.s in the relevant subject-specialty.  The most trenchant and effective critics of the ‘hockey stick’ statistics were a University-employed economist and a computer expert.

Like any other technology, IT is many-faceted.  It is easily misused and abused, and much of the content of the blogosphere is trivial or worse.  The right-wing political agendas of some climate sceptics, their bloggers and their backers, are quite well known.  But to use their background or motivation as an excuse for ignoring their arguments, is a betrayal of science.  The  blogosphere interacts with other media of communication, in the public and scientific domains.  Some parts are quite mainstream, others not.  The Climategate blogosphere is as varied in quality as any other.  Some leading scholars, like Roger Pielke, Jr. have had personal blogs for a long time.  Some blogs are carefully monitored, have a large readership and are sampled by the mainstream media (such as the one on which this is posted, Wattsupwiththat.com).  Others are less rigorous; but the same variation in quality can be found in the nominally peer-reviewed scientific literature.  Keeping up with the blogosphere requires different skills from keeping up with traditional literature; it is most useful to find a summarising blog that fits one’s special interests, as well as a loyal correspondent, as (in my case) Roger ‘tallbloke’ Tattersall.

Some mainstream publications are now saying nice things about the blogosphere.  Had such sentiments been expressed a while ago, the critical voices might have had a public hearing and the Climategate scandal might have been exposed before it became entrenched so disastrously.  And now the critical blogosphere does not need to be patronised.  Like any extension of political power, whether it be the right to believe, to protest, to vote, to form trades unions, or to be educated, it can lead to instabilities and abuses.  But now the extended peer community has a technological base, and the power-politics of science will be different.  I cannot predict how it will work out, but we can be confident that corruptions built on bootstrapped plausibility will be less likely in the future.

There is an important philosophical dimension to Climategate, a question of the relation of personal scientific ethics to objective scientific facts.  The problem is created by the traditional image of science (as transmitted in scientific education) as ‘value-free’.  The personal commitments to integrity, that are necessary for the maintenance of scientific quality, receive no mention in the dominant philosophy of science. Kuhn’s disenchanted picture of science was so troubling to the idealists (as Popper) because in his ‘normal’ science criticism had hardly any role.  For Kuhn, even the Mertonian principles of ethical behaviour were effectively dismissed as irrelevant.  Was this situation truly ‘normal’ – meaning either average or (worse) appropriate?  The examples of shoddy science exposed by the Climategate convey a troubling impression.  From the record, it appears that in this case, criticism and a sense of probity needed to be injected into the system by the extended peer community from the (mainly) external blogosphere.

The total assurance of the mainstream scientists in their own correctness and in the intellectual and moral defects of their critics, is now in retrospect perceived as arrogance.  For their spokespersons to continue to make light of the damage to the scientific case, and to ignore the ethical dimension of Climategate, is to risk public outrage at a perceived unreformed arrogance. If there is a continuing stream of ever more detailed revelations, originating in the blogosphere but now being brought to a broader public, then the credibility of the established scientific authorities will continue to erode.  Do we face the prospect of the IPCC reports being totally dismissed as just more dodgy dossiers, and of hitherto trusted scientists being accused of negligence or worse?  There will be those who with their own motives will be promoting such a picture.  How can it be refuted?

And what about the issue itself?  Are we really experiencing Anthropogenic Carbon-based Global Warming?  If the public loses faith in that claim, then the situation of science in our society will be altered for the worse. There is very unlikely to be a crucial experience that either confirms or refutes the claim; the post-normal situation is just too complex. The consensus is likely to depend on how much trust can still be put in science.  The whole vast edifice of policy commitments for Carbon reduction, with their many policy prescriptions and quite totalitarian moral exhortations, will be at risk of public rejection.  What sort of chaos would then result?  The consequences for science in our civilisation would be extraordinary.

To the extent that the improved management of uncertainty and ignorance can remedy the situation, some useful tools are at hand.  In the Netherlands, scholars and scientists have developed ‘Knowledge Quality Assessment’ methodologies for characterising uncertainty in ways that convey the richness of the phenomenon while still performing well as robust tools of analysis and communication.  Elsewhere, scholars are exploring methods for managing disagreement among scientists, so that such post-normal issues do not need to become so disastrously polarised.  A distinguished scholar, Sheila Jasanoff, has called for a culture of humility among scientists, itself a radical move towards a vision of a non-violent science.  Scientists who have been forced to work on the blogosphere have had the invaluable experience of exclusion and oppression; that could make it easier for them to accept that something is seriously wrong and then to engage in the challenging moral adventures of dealing with uncertainty and ignorance.  The new technologies of communications are revolutionising knowledge and power in many areas.  The extended peer community of science on the blogosphere will be playing its part in that process.  Let dialogue commence!

——————-

My thanks to numerous friends and colleagues for their loyal assistance through all the drafts of this essay.  The final review at a seminar at the Institute of Science, Innovation and Society at Oxford University was very valuable, particularly the intervention from ‘the man in the bus queue’.

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596 thoughts on “Climategate: Plausibility and the blogosphere in the post-normal age.

  1. I am much taken with the fact that in such a learned, if determinedly philosophical, discussion of the scientific lapses involved, there is no mention of the untidy prospect that “money talked” in this instance, that otherwise reputable scientists proved all-too-human in their inability to resist the blandishments of grant money and other sources of lucre in reaching their ever-more-tendentious and strained analyses of the data. Can that have been the product of nothing more than oversight? And by remaining silent about such a matter, can it possibly be said that the cause of trust in science has been advanced? I think not.

  2. Climate science always fulfilled the “post-normal science” description perfectly. And wrecked its reputation for good. That doesn’t mean that everything before climate science was good. Sturgeon’s Law applies. And before we all hail the blog as such, let us rest in silence for a minute and think about…

    RealClimate

  3. “And what about the issue itself? Are we really experiencing Anthropogenic Carbon-based Global Warming? ”

    This is the fundamental question. I’ve seen no good support for the idea.

  4. First time posting here. Just wanted to say that was an excellent analysis of the state of AGW science. It doesn’t take fraud or conspiracy to have gotten to the point we are now. All it takes is basic human nature and a recognition of the adage that states: ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions.’

    The essay was perfect until the final paragraph where the word ‘robust’ is used. Almost made it!

  5. Normal science = generally good science.

    Post normal science = generally bad science.

    Keep it simple, stupid.

  6. Stunning, a tour de force.

    A very, very useful examination of the deepening (scientific) contortions that have galvanised many of us into blog action.

  7. Great read!!! Wonderful analysis!!! Hopefully, the conclusion to this essay will be a reality in regards to climate change. “Let dialogue commence!”

  8. Jerome Ravitz writes:

    “As all these anomalies and unsolved puzzles emerged, the neat, compelling picture became troubled and even confused. In Kuhn’s analysis, this would be the start of a ‘pre-revolutionary’ phase of normal science.”

    Invoking Kuhn is to give far too much credit to Jones, Mann, and the others. Climate science is not a science consisting of a theory or theories that has enjoyed some successes but has recently run into anomalies and unsolved puzzles. There is no theory behind so-called climate science. That is extremely easy to prove. No one can state the theory. Ask a climate scientist for his theory and all you will get, if anything, is a discussion of the properties of the CO2 molecule. There is no theory of climate change in the properties of the CO2 molecule. The folks who created the “Ozone Hole” panic of the Seventies did a much better job. They could tell you how chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) reached the same level of the atmosphere as Earth’s ozone shield, how certain chemical reactions took place between CFCs and ozone, and how the result was destruction of the ozone layer. No such thing has ever been forthcoming from climate science. The only thing they have that strikes some people as theoretical is computer simulation. Yet everyone knows that their simulations are woefully inadequate as a model of Earth’s atmosphere and that, at this time in history, no useful predictions can come from them. Again, my evidence is that no one will present a computer model, to refute my claims, because there is none. Finally, the case of Jones, Mann, and CRU. Their work involved no theory whatsoever. They were looking in nature for records of temperature change. In that kind of endeavor, where you are simply counting tree rings, there is little work that can be called theory. Of course, there are statistical calculations to be made, but Jones and crew refused to share their raw data and, consequently, their work could not be checked. Jones’ refusal to share data does not require an explanation from the philosophy of science. It is simple, straightforward fraud. As for your talk of postmodern science and political pressures, you will accomplish nothing but give a veneer of respectability to some criminals. I too want to see philosophy of science flourish. God knows we need it. However, in the case of Climategate, the only philosophy of science that is needed is absolutely basic and, for that reason, beyond dispute.

  9. Everyman (15:19:34) :
    I am much taken with the fact that in such a learned, if determinedly philosophical, discussion of the scientific lapses involved, there is no mention of the untidy prospect that “money talked” in this instance, that otherwise reputable scientists proved all-too-human in their inability to resist the blandishments of grant money and other sources of lucre in reaching their ever-more-tendentious and strained analyses of the data.

    I don’t think this needed to be said outright.

    The critique of the corruption was spot on you must agree.

  10. Everyman (15:19:34) :

    I am much taken with the fact that in such a learned, if determinedly philosophical, discussion of the scientific lapses involved, there is no mention of the untidy prospect that “money talked”

    In the UK, security of tenure in academia is becoming increasingly dependent on ‘delivering the goods’ in the form of grants from central government and elsewhere. I agree with you that this is a dimension which is missing from Jerry’s piece. Not that there isn’t plenty to get our teeth into anyway.

  11. This is amazing. <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/hacked-climate-science-emails"http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/hacked-climate-science-emails. Click on “Help write the full story”. The comments section is open.
    The Guardian is a rabidly socialist supporter of AGW and the current UK government (sorry for the tautology).
    My suspicion, though, is that this is an attempt to draw as many tin-foil hat-wearers as possible so that they can point at them and cry “nutters”. So approach with caution. I take nothing from them at face value. If they realy wanted to investigate, they would first have sought opinions from recognised sources.
    (OTOH, that could just demonstrate that I wear tin foil on my head)

  12. I appreciate this essay immensely. I have been concerned about the impact on science in general from what I have certainly perceived to be zealots, and I have experienced ridicule myself (initially from own school aged son) for expressing what I thought were well reasoned doubts. I think Professor Ravetz should add hypocrisy to his analysis – nothing turned me against the idea of global warming as much as the high living of its proponents and the obscene carbon indulgences (offsets) available to anyone with enough of the other green. I am thankful for John Daly (miss you, man), Anthony, Steve, M&M and the others who have opened my eyes though the years.

  13. Post Climategates, there should come a time when one has to ask whether the war is over. Like it or not we need our climate scientists, otherwise how are we ever going to get to the bottom of the issues. To discredit all of climate science due to its poor perfomance in certain critical areas could cut off ones nose to spite ones face. We are not there yet and not perhaps close but it is never to early to consider how we will know when normalcy has been restored and that futire hostilities will be no more than gratuitous blood letting.

    Alex

  14. Two years ago while on Jury duty, one lawyer asked me what I thought about lawyers in general. My answer was, “Lawyers are like members of any profession, there are reputable ones and ambulance chasers.” I thought at the time that if asked the same question about scientists (and I am a scientist) I would have answered virtually the same way…maybe ‘hacks’ instead of ‘ambulance chaser’. Needless to say the essay here is spot on in my opinion.

  15. I have to disagree with a lot of this. Like Mike Hulme, this chap proposes a full frontal attack on the discipline of science, hidden in this long essay. To take a quote:

    “Indeed, if we look at the definition of ‘post-normal science’, we see how well it fits: facts uncertain,values in dispute, stakes high, and decisions urgent. ”

    So what other scenarios would fit with the definition of post-normal science?

    Well if you’re a Mayan, you are uncertain whether or not the Gods are placated. The stakes are high and decisions are urgent. So do you or do you not sacrifice that child? We are actually engaging in an indirect form of that with biofuel crop plantation driving food inflation, shortages and starvation.

    The whole point about science is facts are uncertain. With CAGW, it is most definitely not clear that decisions are urgent. I would argue that since Hansen’s original predictions in Science 1982 have been falsified (that CO2 warming would overwhelm all other causes of climate change from 2000 onwards), decisions in this field most definitely aren’t urgent. So what is needed is real science, not value-laden post-normal science.

    The other problem with this essay is a lot of the uncertainty referred to is actually a result of climate being a chaotic system.

    Treat post-normal science with suspicion. It will never deliver the extraordinary truths we have gleaned from plain vanilla science. It is a branch of the social sciences. And it may lead you to conclude that sacrificing babies is the way to save the World (after all they are the CO2 emitters with the highest potential output of all the ages of man)

  16. I hate the word “robust”. This taints the essay for me.

    Where were the high minded philosophers when they were needed? Right.. collecting fat salaries but AWOL!!

    ??? “post normal science”… na.. just the usual suspects, crooks, creeps and cretins.

  17. One makes a mistake to think climate change is a recent scientific “failure”- climate change followed a very tried and true approach of skewing environmental science to fit a social agenda. The “science” of toxicity, acid rain, ozone, species definition, etc and a complicit MSM is no less polluted than is climate change—but these issues did not have the internet. (Hope springs eternal).

    If anyone thinks climate change is unique and want a “change of pace”- take a look at EPAs new proposed ozone standard. Nowhere on EPAs site will one see the role of natural sources of ozone precursors (isoprenes, terpenes from trees, NOx from soil bacteria or chlorides from sea spray). All the climate change tactics are present– carefully choosing monitor siting, questionable data, flawed models, the absence of a mass balance, health disasters and a whole universe of chemistries we do not fully understand (see Cal Techs work on epoxides). Climate change is not a “one off”- climate change is just business as usual.

  18. A good essay, somewhat spoiled by the penultimate paragraph in which he says

    “Are we really experiencing Anthropogenic Carbon-based Global Warming? If the public loses faith in that claim, then the situation of science in our society will be altered for the worse.”

    Up to that point I thought he was talking about science, not faith, and that certainly gave me pause.

  19. This really is quite a breathtaking read – Well done Professor Ravetz!

    Gratz as well to Tallbloke and Anthony!

  20. I find the idea of “post-normal science” troubling. Is it a science equivalent of “post-modern” thought that has led the arts and social sciences into those often fatuous positions, perhaps too simply referred to as Political Correctness?

    Science is the use of careful observation, logic and reason in the quest for knowledge. Nothing has changed. Everyman (15:19:34) astutely observes that the Professor does not mention money. Complex scientific projects require money; honest science for payments rendered. Unfortunately, like all endeavours where large sums of money are involved, individuals are likely to be tempted to gain more than their due or entitlement. Anything involving others’ money should be effectively audited.

    Scientists have the additional temptation before them of fame and recognition [In my student years, I learnt that the initials FRS (Fellow of the Royal Society) after one's name would be the pinnacle of achievement]. Hence audits must be doubly effective.

    Scientists are humans. Period. The seven deadly sins are applicable to all.

    But “post-normal” science? Bah! Humbug! Science is science.

  21. Whew, that was tough to get through. Good thing I’m a slow reader as that piece had to be read very slowly to understand. :)

    I think I’d prefer to keep it simple and just follow the money.

  22. If AGW was simply a matter of science I would have been happy to let the scientists debate to their heart’s content. But it very quickly became a political issue with people like Al Gore convincing congress to ban light bulbs, and pass taxes and create Cap and Trade schemes. All of which would increase energy costs to the public and change our way of life. And there were plenty of crooks lining up to profit from the Cap and Trade schemes. At that point it stopped being an academic issue and became a matter of intelligent people refusing to be hoodwinked.

    Yes science has suffered a well deserved black eye because of this. Now the people may be reluctant to believe scientists. Let’s hope this doesn’t end like the story of the Boy who Cried Wolf, with the wolf being a real impending disaster such as an asteroid with our name on it.

  23. Would the author of this fascinating essay agree to its being posted to representatives of the MSM? I’m sure that the Daily Telegraph (UK) would enjoy reading it.

  24. Professor Ravetz’s longer article, and Everyman’s short additional comment, strike me as both being about equally valuable. Professor Ravetz’s comments on the non-material reasons for this scandal sound valid, but we will continue to wait for a comprehensive analysis on which of these scientists (and politicians and journalists) simply sold their souls for filthy lucre. The whiff, or more than a whiff, of totalitarian mindsets that one smells everywhere in this scandal is perhaps even more frightening than the idea that some scientists are simply lying crooks. There need to be many books written on what the hell happened here that allowed such deception to go so far. Surely sizable parts of our government, the science community and the mainstream media can’t all be this cowardly and unprincipled? Can they?

  25. EdB writes:

    “Where were the high minded philosophers when they were needed? Right.. collecting fat salaries but AWOL!!”

    Well, since you ask, I have been posting like hell all over the internet, but I cannot reveal my identity because I like my job. Most folks are in the same boat. Yes, it is earthshakingly sad. (By the way, the salaries are only middle class.)

  26. Jerome Ravetz wrote, “Issues of uncertainty and quality are not prominent in ‘normal’ scientific training, and so they are less easily conceived and managed by its practitioners.

    Speaking as a practicing experimental scientist, in the extended company of other scientists, you are entirely mistaken.

    Also, “Where the systems under study are complicated, complex or poorly understood, that ‘textbook’ style of investigation becomes less, sometimes much less, effective.” is quite, quite wrong, as exemplified, e.g., by the relatively new field of chaotic systems, which field emerged entirely from “that ‘textbook’ style of investigation.”

    It seems to me that your analysis is opportunistic and tendentious.

  27. Onion (16:01:46) :

    I have to disagree with a lot of this. Like Mike Hulme, this chap proposes a full frontal attack on the discipline of science, hidden in this long essay. To take a quote:

    “Indeed, if we look at the definition of ‘post-normal science’, we see how well it fits: facts uncertain,values in dispute, stakes high, and decisions urgent. ”

    So what other scenarios would fit with the definition of post-normal science?

    Deciding what is and isn’t going to be allowed int he field of genetic manipultion, for example.

    Jerry Ravetz used to sit on medical ethics committees grappling with those issues. Not easy.

    I think people from both sides read what they want into his concept of ‘post normal science’. A lot of people, maybe you included, think he is formulating a prescription for how he thinks modern science should be done, and disagree. I think he is analysing how science sometimes is done, like it or not, it’s the way it is. At least he gets it out in the open, where it can be dealt with.

  28. I do not think the motives were quite so clean. It seems to me there are some scientists hired on their environmental beliefs first and their scientific credentials second – if at all. Soft science like this is easy to manipulate.

  29. Perhaps Professor Ravetz would consider forwarding this essay, or tailored versions of it, to various MSM organizations directly. It would certainly be beneficial as there seems to be a lot of comments in various MSM outlets about Climategate being a storm-in-a-teacup event that does not alter the soundness of the original science.

    I hope that Professor Ravetz is thick-skinned though. I have a feeling even posting here once will have someone raking through the muck trying to find some dirt to stick.

  30. I’m amazed. Looking at the ecstatic comments, I think most of you are about as happy as the Trojans who wheeled the horse, a gift from heaven they thought, within their walls and got drunk, only to find that night that their city had been infiltrated and lost after years of battle. Beware! Ravetz is a very bright guy, and very perceptive, but Ravetz and Hulme have done their utmost to dispatch ‘normal’ science. Now their ideas will destroy you. More on Ravetz and Hulme here:

    http://buythetruth.wordpress.com/2009/10/31/climate-change-and-the-death-of-science/

  31. There are many good points here.

    The Climate Change mantra should be: “It’s more complex than we thought”.

    “The parallels are significant and troubling, for on both sides they involve a betrayal of public trust.” Another good parallel is with priests abusing their position of trust and power and to how the church dealt with the problem. Scientists are often called high-priests, since others have no way to challenge their proclamations. Another parallel might be the police; we want to assume that they are good but police forces may be set up in a way which allows corruption. The thing these have is common is the thin line which separates protection of the institution from protection of the principles it is based upon.

    But the words ‘scientists’ and ‘academics’ are often confused. The failures of the academic/publishing system are also found in other scientific and medical and non-scientific fields. Academic fads and fashions can go wrong (deconstructionism and post-modern literary criticism) and they can last a long time (Freud).

    The other day someone said “the plural of anecdote is not data”. I agree, but for soft science it is. It worked for Freud.

  32. I dislike taking a negative view of a guest article by a distinguished scholar, but I have to pick a few nits with Professor Ravetz’s article. It seems to me to be an attempt to explain a classic “failure to do good science” with the sort of untested and unproven philosophical theories that tend to pop up in the business world every decade or so, and which promise to unfailingly create a successful company. Just as the professor says “The near-meltdown of the world’s financial system can be blamed partly on naively reductionist economics and misapplied simplistic statistics,” it seems to me that the post-normal scientific analysis of “what went wrong in climate science” is its own attempt to find a reductionist philosophy and simplistic method to “keep science from going wrong.”

    When the professor says “the early opposition to any claim of climate change was only partly scientific; the tactics of the opposing special interests were such as to induce the proponents to adopt a simple, forcefully argued position,” it doesn’t really seem to me he’s saying anything wrong about that opposition. The first reaction to any new, radical claim should be that which Carl Sagan expressed: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” That’s not precisely a “scientific opposition,” but it is the proper one for science to take. “Prove it!” Is as old as the schoolyard, but still a fundamental and very scientific position. If that response induces the proponents to adopt the forcefully argued position of “You’re as bad as a Holocaust denier!” then it becomes instantly apparent that whatever is going on here is not science.

    Later Professor Ravetz says “We have argued that in the case of Post-Normal Science, the ‘extended peer community’, including all affected by the policy being implemented, must be fully involved.” But what does “all affected by the policy” really mean? It sounds as though he means this to carry down to the level of the ordinary non-scientist citizen who’s electric bill might increase by a factor of ten because of a cap-and-trade tax implemented by politicians sold on AGW, but then he states

    “Its particular contribution will depend on the nature of the core scientific problem, and also on the phase of investigation.  Detailed technical work is a task for experts, but quality-control on even that work can be done by those with much broader expertise.  And on issues like the definition of the problem itself, the selection of personnel, and crucially the ownership of the results, the extended peer community has full rights of participation.”

    This appears to put the cart before the horse, or maybe to have horses at both ends of the cart. For if the detailed technical work is for experts, how can an extended peer community (of presumed non-experts) be qualified to determine the definition of the problem to begin with, much less choose the personnel to do the technical work and then claim ownership of the results? How can one claim ownership of a scientific study one is not technically qualified to perform?

    The professor also states that “Hitherto, critics of scientific matters have been relegated to a sort of samizdat world, exchanging private letters or writing books that can easily be ignored (as not being peer-reviewed) by the ruling establishment.” I would argue that this “samizdat” state of affairs is nearly unique to this particular scientific theory, and that the history of science is rife with examples of competing theories battling it out in the peer-reviewed literature without one side using its influence to censor the other. For example, J. Harlen Bretz battled in the journals for forty years to prove his glacial lake origin theory of the Channeled Scablands in Washington state; Alfred Wegener proposed “continental drift” back in 1912 and the idea was argued in the journals until the word by Hess, Mason, Benioff and Wadati put the finishing touches on plate tectonic theory.

    It appears to me that in this case, the professor’s philosophy of post-normal science has it exactly backwards: rather than there being a crisis for which we have to make critical decisions without full understanding of the problem, we are instead in the position of not knowing if there even is a crisis without much more information.

  33. I agree that the influence of money [including the unstated threat of losing one's job for speaking out] is a very effective leash, and maybe should have been mentioned. No doubt Prof Ravetz had his reasons for not writing about it.

    But money doesn’t explain all of the behavior. There is also status, which is hard-wired into us. In a prehistoric tribe, status could easily mean the difference between survival and death.

    From a report in the Economist about a psychology experiment, here is an example of how social status works: when people were asked whether they would prefer to earn $100,000 a year, when everyone else they knew was earning $50,000 a year, or whether they would rather earn $150,000 a year, when everyone they knew was earning $300,000 a year, the answer invariably given was that they would prefer to earn the lower amount — as long as it was more than other people they knew earned, they were happy. Greater social status is more important than an arbitrary number of dollars.

    Another example of status: during the Roman civil war, when Caesar’s army was marching in the Alps they came upon an extremely destitute, dirt-poor village. One of Caesar’s lieutenants jokingly asked Caesar how he’d like to be the head man of that no-account village. Caesar answered, “Better head man here than second man in Rome.” Status is deeply ingrained. It goes back to Cain and Abel, and it trumps money.

    When someone buys into an idea, such as a belief in AGW for which there is no measurable evidence, status predominates. There is no doubt that Phil Jones is taking his loss of status very hard, even though it only amounts to loss of his title; his pay, benefits, and office were not taken away, only the title of Director. It is easy to sniff at Jones’ lamentations, but there is no doubt that he takes the loss of his name-plate extremely hard. He is acutely aware that he is diminished in the eyes of his peers.

    For the rank-and-file followers of AGW, including many other well educated people who should know better, their belief system is all-important. It allows them to feel superior to the hated “denialists,” because they believe they have inside knowledge — even when they are decisively proven wrong:

    I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth, if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.

    ~Leo Tolstoy

  34. Is this paste allowed, AGW asks?
    It’s the NYT. Gotta be important when it speaks. No?

    Here’s the punch(sic) line:
    “its judgments provoking passions normally reserved for issues like abortion and guns.”

    Sells papers.
    …-

    “Skeptics Find Fault With U.N. Climate Panel ( NY Times says something….)
    The New York Times ^ | February 8, 2010 | ELISABETH ROSENTHAL

    Just over two years ago, Rajendra K. Pachauri seemed destined for a scientist’s version of sainthood: A vegetarian economist-engineer who leads the United Nations’ climate change panel, he accepted the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the panel, sharing the honor with former Vice President Al Gore.

    But Dr. Pachauri and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are now under intense scrutiny, facing accusations of scientific sloppiness and potential financial conflicts of interest from climate skeptics, right-leaning politicians and even some mainstream scientists. Senator John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican, called for Dr. Pachauri’s resignation last week.

    Critics, writing in Britain’s Sunday Telegraph and elsewhere, have accused Dr. Pachauri of profiting from his work as an adviser to businesses, including Deutsche Bank and Pegasus Capital Advisors, a New York investment firm — a claim he denies.

    They have also unearthed and publicized problems with the intergovernmental panel’s landmark 2007 report on climate change, which concluded that the planet was warming and that humans were likely to blame.

    The report, they contend, misrepresents the state of scientific knowledge about diverse topics — including the rate of melting of Himalayan glaciers and the rise in severe storms — in a way that exaggerates the evidence for climate change.

    With a global climate treaty under negotiation and legislation pending in the United States, the climate panel has found itself in the political cross hairs, its judgments provoking passions normally reserved for issues like abortion and guns.

    (Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com …”

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2447879/posts

  35. Professor Ravetz seems to be stretching too far when he writes:
    “Are we really experiencing Anthropogenic Carbon-based Global Warming? If the public loses faith in that claim, then the situation of science in our society will be altered for the worse. . . . The consequences for science in our civilisation would be extraordinary.” Whilst it is certainly the case that the reputations of many involved in that collection of natural and applied sciences labeled “climate science” would be ruined, the widespread increased appreciation of the importance of skepticism in science would lead to a strengthening of science in society, rather than the reverse.

  36. Stephen Brown (16:16:07) :

    Would the author of this fascinating essay agree to its being posted to representatives of the MSM? I’m sure that the Daily Telegraph (UK) would enjoy reading it.

    Jerry is already making arrangements regarding further publication, and very generously gave WUWT the scoop at my request for which I thank him and echo Anthony’s sentiments. I’ll forward your suggestion to him tomorrow. It’s way past late here in the UK.

  37. “Well, since you ask, I have been posting like hell all over the internet, but I cannot reveal my identity because I like my job. Most folks are in the same boat. Yes, it is earthshakingly sad. (By the way, the salaries are only middle class”

    Lets see.. police officers get shot on the job.. taxi cab drivers get mugged, soldiers get blown up, construction workers fall to their deaths, lab workers get cancers, millions get laid off and lose their saving, homes, marriages..

    But philosophers put mere criticism and job security ahead of doing their jobs???

    Gee… how about finding other work and leaving science and philosophy to those that accept the challenges.

  38. The problem is we have a lot of good carpentry tools and a lot of bad carpenters. Just because one can saw and hammer doesn’t necessarily mean one is a carpenter. One can recognize the result of bad carpentry right away, but with science, it is much more complex. That is why we have bad science. We have people that are trained to talk the talk and use the tools, but what they produce is crap. But they are treated with all the respects of a scientist because scientists are stereotypically so erudite that few people can understand them.

  39. Telboy (16:10:22) wrote:

    ” A good essay, somewhat spoiled by the penultimate paragraph in which he says:
    “Are we really experiencing Anthropogenic Carbon-based Global Warming? If the public loses faith in that claim, then the situation of science in our society will be altered for the worse.”
    Up to that point I thought he was talking about science, not faith, and that certainly gave me pause. ”

    Perhaps the good Professor who has honoured WUWT with this important article will be so good as to explain his thinking here, as I agree: it is ambiguous.

    I *think* he means that if the science cannot be proven to be true, after recent events, and people therefore come to feel thy have been misled by climate scientists, then the public will lose faith in science itself.

    It has to be admitted after all that the general public HAS for the most part had ‘faith’ in the claims about AGW, having been obliged to take the word of scientists that the claims are based on properly conducted research. Few of us have had the time to research into the detail, and it’s taken several long years for all that detail to be discussed and questioned.

    The Professor’s article deserves the widest possible circulation, and I hope someone will send it to Clarenece House (I’ve already sent Prince Charles one email today with a link to this site, so I’d better not send another ).

    i think The Spectator (UK version) would be interested in publishing it, if the Telegraph or even the Guardian doesn’t.

  40. Everyone now knows the blogosphere is now the authority of climate issues. And many other important issues for that matter.

    “The lengthy op-ed ‘Snowmageddeon is nigh’ concludes like so:

    Those who value freedom should thank Mother Nature for her sense of humor, undermining the case for global warming one flake at a time. So although we’re quite tired of shoveling, we say, “Bring on the blizzard.””

    Washington Times: February Snow Storms “Undermin[e] The Case For Global Warming One Flake At A Time

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/02/09/washington-times-february_n_455199.html

  41. I’m not a scientist, I don’t play one on TV, and I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn last night. I can however judge the character of those who wish to convince me of something they can’t prove. One can smell it, feel it, sense it, and know that there’s more to the story/theory/facts than are being put forth.

    In short, while this essay is well stated, WE KNEW ALL THIS ALREADY.. and for a very long time.

    I don’t know for a *fact* what Anthony, E. M. Smith, and Steve Mc. are presenting as proofs are in fact *true,* but I do know that they invite challenge.

    Prof. Jones said it best: ‘Why should I give you my data, you just want to find something wrong with it.’

  42. I’m unpersuaded. Like Bryn, I worry whether this is a flavor of “post-modern” thought for the field of science. The fact that an issue is one where “facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high and decisions urgent” changes absolutely nothing with respect to what science is, or how it should operate. Where “facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high and decisions urgent,” all that says is that the decision is political and that science has little to contribute to the matter. And there is nothing wrong with that. Science will never, ever, for example, settle the abortion debate, where “facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high and decisions urgent”. Not everything reduces to a question of science. Some things are questions of faith, values, and mores that science is ill-equipped to resolve. That is not demeaning to the practice of science.

    The real problem, here, is that science has become too full of itself. I say that with all due respect, as someone trained well in the philosophy of science. But I also saw, when I was in graduate school, the pressure to make one’s work “relevant”, as if to say science could no longer be pursued for its own sake. And of course the quest to fund scientific research with grant dollars simply churns the process, where what is relevant is determined by those doling out the dollars.

    The ills exposed by climategate will not be solved by “post normal science.” They will be solved only when (a) science could not care less whether its work is perceived as “relevant” to society as a whole, and (b) where political issues are accepted for what they are, without one side or the other claiming to have the authority of science on their side. I’m not holding my breath.

  43. I agree with Ravetz “Politics will doubtless survive, for it is not a fiduciary institution; but for science the dangers are real.”

    Its great to have a discussion of the impacts on science generally – because, while it seems they will be great, it is yet hard to know what they will be. And yes, one of the reasons global warming science is particularly significant is “because it cannot be blamed on the well-known malign influences from outside science, be they greedy corporations or an unscrupulous State.” But this is where Lomborg and his view of environmental science comes in.

    Where I have concerns with Ravetz’s fine piece of analysis is that (and this is on very quick read!) the root cause is “a case of scientists constrained to attempt to do normal science in a post-normal situation.”

    I wonder about the role he gives to non-critical ‘normal science’ in all of this. And I wonder about the aspect of ‘post-normal science’, where it involves situations where decisions are urgent. I think in this case the urgency might be more an effect than a root cause.

    What generated the urgency? Is the answer: The distortion of science by evangalism reckless with the truth. The history of global warming science seems to suggest the urgency was created through the politicisation.

    There must be other global risks with unknown – meteors? – swine flu? There is something different about Global Warming, and it is something to do with environmental movement manifest in science. It is to do with the use of the Paul Erlich approach to science.

    Normal science could cope, and does cope, in non-politicised sitations.
    With Global warming science we are in a strange situation where it is an anxious bubble in what way a tiny climate science (of the 1970s). Climate science has huge funding BECAUSE of the scare. Normal climate science is unrecognisable at the moment. This is because even if someone tried to do it by ignoring the politicisation, they would be squeezed out or first into a defensive situation under the label of sceptic or denier. It world be sort of like East Timor’s problem when it declared independency during the cold war.

    Perhaps this is agreement with Ravetz. But, I wonder…before leaping to this ‘post-normal science’ thing, whether we should look at how medical research copes with uncertainty and urgency in the various ways, eg, to deal with unconsious bias in drug trials, and not just double blind method. And for politicisation – eg, passive smoking controversy. And as for reforming the process – eg, the post war renaissance of evidence-based medicine instigated by Cochrane.

    There are just some ideas, but the whole topic could do with a whole lot more discussion.

  44. “And what about the issue itself? Are we really experiencing Anthropogenic Carbon-based Global Warming? ”

    I’ve seen nothing of substance that addresses this key question from those proposing the alleged hypotheses known as AGW. To you I ask, please show me the paper or papers that “proves” the AGW Hypothesis is true. Please. I’ve been looking for two years now and can’t find any.

    Oh proof of AGW, where art thou? Oh vaporous proof but a puff in the wind with no enduring substance or apparent merit, where art thou?

    pwl

    http://PathsToKnowledge.net

  45. I believe that it is mistake to think that a refutation of the basic and flawed assumption so AGW would hurt science or “the science.” The latter needs to be euthanized and buried. It needs to made clear to the public that bad science is not acceptable. To try to protect this “science” in any way allows the public opinion to wonder why it needs defending, if it has been made clean and honest. Take the “science” apart piece by piece, verify each, see what is left, and then carry on.

    As Gore’s AIT damaged public perception of science, perhaps eventually the “climate” of public opinion will allow an honest presentation (film) of the real science describing our climate; the real direct CO2 chemical data of the last 200 years, an unadjusted rural temperature record, an honest description of the history of the Medieval Warm Period, the LIttle Ice Age, Arctic ice, and sea level changes, and the robustness of marine life and the irrelevance of “acidification” to the oceans (much higher CO2 in the past was more common than low).

    Hoaxes happen. They need to be fully exposed and related lessons learned. Then we get back to doing real, valuable, and relevant science. I think there is a tendency to almost cherish the idea that CO2 has to be a big problem no matter how many other factors are found to have greater effects.

    We need to get over the arrogance that not everything is our fault. Real pollution should be addressed, but an environmental “crisis” based on a political agenda should be adamantly rejected.

  46. Post normal science, applied with the precautionary principle, i.e. onus on skeptics to disprove a hypothesis, this is not a step forward in science but the beginnings of a rush back to Salem, and will all but extinguish the enlightenment, but then Charles and his ilk, think this a good thing. Post normal science should be viewed with the utmost of suspicion imho, anything which can not be empirically tested and used to drive policy, is just the merger of superstition and state, not a pleasant outcome for many in the past.

  47. “I cannot predict how it will work out, but we can be confident that corruptions built on bootstrapped plausibility will be less likely in the future.”

    I would completely disagree with that statement.

    We are, as the poor uniformed masses, completely dependant on individuals breaking these scandals – at great personal risk to themselves.

    Deepthroat for Watergate.
    Dr. David Kelly for the Iraq war.
    A N Onymous for the CRU emails.

    In the example of this individual scandal – would so many things have happened to undermine the foundation of “the consensus” without the actions of that one individual? No. Which is why “bootstrapped plausibility” will occur again and again.

    Too many scandals – not enough whistleblowers.

  48. An excellent & long overdue summary!

    I would however echo previous comment regarding the ‘money’ factor.
    This serious & disastrous betrayal of the scientific method rode on the back of issues of funding…
    Apply for a research grant to study say
    ‘The Red Squirrel Population decline in England’
    & one may struggle… but apply for a grant to study
    ‘The effects of climate change on the Red Squirrel Population of England’
    & the money was assured.
    On the larger scale the sums at stake are vast & was a key motivator. An admission that the hypothesis was wrong or that the effects were minor would have spent an end to the gravy train.
    Thankfully in this case the internet & in particular the blogosphere have provided the checks & balances the banking industry so catastrophically lacked.

  49. This is an interesting and, judging from the speed and thoughtfulness with which responses have been constructed, a fertile essay. The most prescient part of the essay is reflexively “let the dialogue commence.”

    With others, I find the notions of normal and post-normal science troubling and unnecessary. They appear to me to be taxonomic concepts masquerading as causal mechanisms. It is undoubtedly true that the study of the earth’s climate has some distinctive features, but I am aware of nothing that suggests that these distinctive features are particularly unique.

    What is distinctive here has little to do with Normal and Post-Normal science and far more to do with a science based policy process where those impacted by the potential policies have simply punctured the claims of legitimacy based on science of major paleoclimatologists. What enabled the puncturing of those claims was in large measure the statistical insights and skills of a small number of slightly compulsive but talented amateurs who, prompted by the sense that something didn’t feel right, had the time and resources to take advantage of the existing scientific overhead (on-line data archives and open source statistical tools) to ultimately force the climate science community (and policy makers) to play by the accepted rules of scientific discourse – namely enabling replicability. What McIntyre and McKitrick did could readily have been done by many others if they had simply taken the time to do the replication that science actually demands. I guess I see this story more as the interaction of individuals than as some essentially collective mutation of science. The internet and high powered statistical analysis tools certainly played a part – but they are functionally the equivalent of the institutions and laboratories that were and still are essential to “big science”. In addition, just as Wegman’s presciently identified a self-sealing social network of climate scientists so Steve McIntyre and Anthony Watts have created a some what more open network of technically able colleagues (along with more numerous hangers on and boosters). But there really is nothing new here – just human enterprise with all its warts.

  50. The whole vast edifice of policy commitments for Carbon reduction, with their many policy prescriptions and quite totalitarian moral exhortations, will be at risk of public rejection. What sort of chaos would then result? The consequences for science in our civilisation would be extraordinary.

    I was thoroughly enjoying the paper until reaching this point, which seems to imply that rejecting policy prescriptions based on totally discredited science would be a bad thing. I beg to differ.

    I’m afraid I can’t put the reputation of science above the well being of the whole of humanity, which is basically what is being put at risk by the “vast edifice of policy commitments”.

  51. Hmmm, ScientitforTruth has posted a link above (16.33.26) which seeks to explain some of the Professor’s ideas. I do see why SFT urges caution!

    “Ravetz, who described himself as a peacenik intellectual, was a political radical who drew on neo-Marxism, and was a stalwart in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), anti-nuclear lobbies, and the Anti-Concorde Project. He is well known for arguing that the pursuit of truth in science is an obsolete and dangerous concept. He declared

    <> ”

    This doesn’t for me detract from anything in the article above, but it does provide more ‘context’ for Prof Ravetz’s ideas. For those of us unfamiliar with the shifting basis of the philosophy of science, it is a bit of an eyeopener. I for one had no idea such notions were mainstream in Academia. Oxford is of course an historic centre for the study fo science – it even has one of the world’s oldest science museums.

  52. Apologies: the quote didn’t post due to my brackets. It reads:

    ” …the puzzle-solving approach of ‘normal science’ is obsolete. This is a drastic cultural change for science, which many scientists will find difficult to accept. But there is no turning back; we can understand post-normal science as the extension of democracy appropriate to the conditions of our age.

    For us, quality is a replacement for truth in our methodology. We argue that this is quite enough for doing science, and that truth is a category with symbolic importance, which itself is historically and culturally conditioned.”

  53. Sir, Obtaining evidence requires time and money (“We might err, but science is self-correcting”, Opinion, Feb 8). Research funding in the UK is increasingly channelled to predetermined ends, and those who win in the fierce competition for research council grants tend to be those who endorse them.

    Barriers to sceptical inquiry are augmented by a “peer review” system in which the worth of a research proposal, and its chance of receiving support, are assessed by those who have succeeded previously. Expert opinion rarely looks sympathetically on those who challenge the orthodox view. University autonomy is diminishing as institutions vie with each other to demonstrate “impact”, and science departments are rebadged with shallow names in order to advertise their relevance to assumed needs of society. Vital freedom, safeguarded by tenure, is replaced by a ruthless system of targets, the most important being “Bring in grant income or you’re out”.

    Scepticism used to be what we were all about. Now, it’s “grantsmanship”.

    Professor John F. Allen
    Professor of Biochemistry
    Queen Mary, University of London
    ——————————————————-

    From 09 Feb The Times.

    Jerome Ravetz has made no mention of the financial aspect. And that’s just in academia, let alone the world at large. To say nothing of power and control.

  54. Unless you are Jerome or the WUWT team, don’t bother reading this, it does not contribute to the debate.

    I’ve just read the article, but not a single comment yet.

    I’d like to express my sincere, heartfelt thanks to Jerome Ravetz for his considered remarks, his insight, and his honesty. In particular and especially, for the time devoted to put this article together. I’d also like to thank Anthony and the WUWT team for providing a channel for dissemination.

    This article should be required reading for everyone doing “climate science”, or involved in the politics surrounding it, whatever their perspective or prejudice.

  55. ScientistForTruth (16:33:26) :

    I’m amazed. Looking at the ecstatic comments, I think most of you are about as happy as the Trojans who wheeled the horse, a gift from heaven they thought, within their walls and got drunk, only to find that night that their city had been infiltrated and lost after years of battle. Beware! Ravetz is a very bright guy, and very perceptive, but Ravetz and Hulme have done their utmost to dispatch ‘normal’ science. Now their ideas will destroy you. More on Ravetz and Hulme here:

    http://buythetruth.wordpress.com/2009/10/31/climate-change-and-the-death-of-science/

    I’m glad you’ve come to this debate. As you know, I made several responses to your article, and I think we cleared up some issues, though clearly not all. I note one of your contributors said this:

    PS I think tallbloke has a point about Jerry Ravetz. Whether you think it is opportunism or not, I can say categorically that he is now on what you and I would call the “right side” of this discussion, although it will be interesting to see whether the reasons he gives soften your view of him.

  56. It doesn’t matter whether you are saving the world, saving souls, or simply enforcing the law. If the appropriate checks and balances are ignored (or never enacted in the first place). The end justifies the means mentality takes over. And corruption invariably follows.

  57. The near future of science now rests in the hands of the few who went down a political urgency path with it. Jones, Mann, Hansen, Karl, etc. need to undo (tell all) what they have been up to. Entrenching does no good here. Damaged institutions means that politicians have liscense to pursue in a void.
    Only scientists can rescue science.
    I’m not one of them, therefore I cannot help them.

  58. And I believe James Hansen fully understands what I mean by ‘a void’, watching politicians go down a Cap & Trade path.
    He must disentrench in order to undo his own damage.

  59. “The carbon markets are failing in their role of encouraging investment in cutting CO 2 emissions, MPs have concluded.

    The environmental audit committee has urged the government to consider other measures, such as a floor price for carbon dioxide emissions, which would provide industries with greater certainty over the price of carbon and help to ensure the system of pricing was effective.”

    Carbon markets failing, say British MPs

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d89b64ee-1452-11df-8847-00144feab49a.html

    I suggest the invest their money in rock salt.

  60. I really take exception to the TRIVIAL and mentally LAZY assumption that “CO2 is a ‘greenhouse gas’..and therefore…if it increases, ipso-facto the temperature of the atmopshere increases.

    First of all, I suggest the 1909 work by Dr. Robert Woods, which shows that the action of a “greenhouse” has NOTHING to do with the transparency or non-transparency of normal sodium glass to longwave IR. (Google the result, find the report, and also many classic meteorology texts even SITE the report and note that the stabalization temperature of the earth’s atmosphere caused by H2O (almost entirely) and partially by CO2…should be called the “atmopsheric effect” as it is unique to the atmosphere.)

    Secondly, I point out to the work by the “grandaddy” of atmospheric radation exchange analysis, Dr. Elsasser. In Dr. Elsasser’s treatment of atmospheric radiation exchange, he includes CO2 in the calculation formulation. But when he derives the classic Elsasser diagram to calculate the net radiation exchange, day to day…using radiosone balloon humidity/pressure/temp measurements, he explicitly EXCLUDES CO2 in the 0 to 30,000 ft realm, because it acts as an even UPFLUX and DOWNFLUX agent.

    Then we add Plass’s (1957) work, calculating the STRATOSPHERIC COOLING effect of CO2 (which comes about due to the number of steradians which each CO2 molecule “sees” to radiate too, at that altitude, compared to closer to the earth) and you have a NET ZERO INFLUENCE of CO2.

    Now all of this information is AVAILABLE in all the “classic” Meteorology texts. It drives me NUTS when people, supposedly EDUCATED people, don’t know ANYTHING about the basics, and make these “TRIVIAL” and shallow statements about the effects of CO2, based on their intellectual laziness.

    Sorry, rant over.

  61. Another coup, Anthony, Steve, Jeff et al.
    An excellent essay.
    Part of the problem is that so few of our legislators (UK or US) have any maths or science background, they seem to be lawyers or “social scientists” of one sort or another. Look back at your high school days and all the clever kids became very poor (financially) scientists or less poor medics (at least in good old Blighty), while the academically less able assume positions of power!
    Our legislators know the real “pecking order” but are aware of their inadequacies, so they feel they cannot challenge the “settled science” supported by second rate media science graduates, or the propaganda from Greenpeace or WWF.
    Eisenhower suggested that “science” could be corrupted by governmental funding and, I suggest, that is what we are seeing now.
    No doubt, this essay by Prof. Ravetz will be an editorial in the Telegraph, a once proud independent newspaper, and main lead on BBC,s Newsnight.

  62. “Climategate is particularly significant because it cannot be blamed on the well-known malign influences from outside science, be they greedy corporations or an unscrupulous State. This scandal, and the resulting crisis, was created by people within science who can be presumed to have been acting with the best of intentions. ”

    Science has not been without dogma and contests of rhetoric. Think of the reception Pasteur received in his early days.

    In this case, a couple of malign influences from outside science are huge funding and prestige. It’s also clear that politics had a part to play in Climategate, whether the personal politics of the people involved or the impossibility of not supporting an establishment position they’d helped to create, or the eagerness of the establishment to brush it away.

    I dislike this term ‘post normal science’. It comes across as an attempt to make acceptable something which is not science at all, but political aims dressed in the clothing of science to legitimise them. We’ve seen this before in Lysenkoism. Pseudoscience is a better term.

    I would say Climategate also shows a slow process of being drawn into an impossible position, like some computer frauds which started with small irregular adjustments to hide problems and grew into huge frauds.

  63. Indeed, good article, saving the penultimate paragraph. As Pat Moffitt above says though, if anyone thinks this kind of bias/corruption is exclusive to global warming they are sadly mistaken; even naive. Climate change may be the (not so) glamorous poster boy of corrupted science, but it is by no means the only.

    My personal dealings are in bioinformatics/genetics, bordering on the ever controversial “origin of life” question. Research grants, publicity, donations, etc must all be framed in reference to Darwins archaic theory, even though no one on the team seriously believes it. However, anyone caught critiquing it in public is quickly ostracized and dismissed as a “flat earther”, a la global warming. Such is the greed induced everyday hypocrisy and two facedness – no longer truth seekers but dogma teachers to the unwashed masses.

    My point: unfortunately it takes an active search for truth on the part of the individual; you certainly won’t get it spoon fed to you by a BBC special. Hell would freeze over sooner. Well done WUWT for doing your part in tackling science gone bad.

  64. The Weather Channel keeps promoting man-made global warming and they just did a story of a little girl who died while digging in the snow. The Weather channel has no soul.

  65. Well done that man.

    I’m particularly taken with the gentle putting-in-box of Kuhn and his Paradigms. I’d always suspected that there was less to them than their apparent ubiquity suggested, and now the good Prof has relegated Kuhn to the ‘tractable problem’ area. And as a follower from way back of NN Taleb, I appreciate the financial/climate science analogy.

    Thank you very much for a ‘Dissertation on Roast Kuhn’.

  66. Asks Jerome Ravetz,

    “. . . And who could have imagined that at its core so much of the science was unsound?”

    I hate to tell Prof. Ravetz this, but many of us, scientists and laymen alike, knew right off the bat that the science behind the claims of ‘global warming’ was unsound. All we needed were a few facts:

    only 20,000 years ago, much of the northern hemisphere was covered in ice;

    only 1,000 years ago, Vikings were farming in Greenland;

    only 40 years ago, hysterics were bemoaning the coming Ice Age;

    and for the last three decades, the principal exponents of ‘global warming’ were political ideologues, a motley mix of Marxists, neo-Luddites, opportunistic politicians, and ‘green’ activists, whose success at infiltrating governments and the academies left graduate students and even professors afraid to speak up against the new orthodoxy.

    It didn’t take much acumen to discern that there was no real science going on here—all you had to do was watch Al Gore’s fantasy film. If you wanted, you could look more closely at the paleo-climatic record (where CO2 changes always follow temperature changes), or at the unlikely prospect that a little atmospheric CO2 could have the effect claimed for it, or at how the ‘climate scientists’ ignored clouds—or just listen to Prof. Fred Singer, or Prof. Richard Lindzen, or Prof. Robert Carter, and many others who endured the opprobrium of peers and the press to keep bravely pointing out that the ‘climate change’ emperor had no clothes.

    It doesn’t say much for Prof. Ravetz that it took Climategate to wipe the scales from his eyes. But better late than never, I suppose.

    /Mr Lynn

  67. If the public loses faith in that claim, then the situation of science in our society will be altered for the worse>

    I *think* he means that if the science cannot be proven to be true, after recent events, and people therefore come to feel they have been misled>

    He means that massive discrediting of climate science will be used for other purposes. How long till creationists demand equal billing in the education system and cite the climate scandal as evidence that evolution may also be flawed? How long until some major polluter raises as a defense in court that the science showing the damage done is no more settled than is climate science? How many bright young minds will seek carreers other than science because it is associated in their minds with corruption and greed?

    He is exactly right about the evolution of information.

    5000 BC. Shaman; spirits who only I can talk to angry, must be appeased. Bring much gold, put in my tent.
    1000 AD. Priest; Book which only I have a copy of says build army, kill other people, bring me their gold. Put it in my tent.
    Reformation (year?) The people. Hey, we got a copy of that book, that’s not what it says.
    1990 or so. Scientist; complicated study which only I can understand predicts disaster. Bring much gold. Put in my tent.
    2010. Blogosphere; We read the study (that you tried to keep secret) we evaluated the data (that you tried to keep secret) and we understood the science (which you said we couldn’t). We condemn you to dustheap of history with Priest and Shaman. No gold for you.

  68. This scandal, and the resulting crisis, was created by people within science who can be presumed to have been acting with the best of intentions.

    With respect, which intentions are those?

  69. The problem is that for the masses, either they are converted, or they simply could not care less as long as their next meal is available.

    The AGW trojan horse has been rolled through the gates, and the hidden agendas are now spread far and wide.

  70. We know that at one time Saddam Hussein did possess weapons of mass destruction. However, with regard to AGW, it does not appear to this scientist that the climate change we experience today is that unusual. We do know that CO2 is rising and is a greenhouse gas. We do not know what effect this has in the complex global system.

    For all we know, the net effect of fossil fuel burning is overwhelmingly beneficial and in fact may even be preventing another ice age (at least for the time being).

    And yet there are those who ignore the uncertainty and are so sure that the matter is settled.

  71. “There is no scientific merit to be found in the Executive Summary. The presentation sounds like something put together by Greenpeace activists and their legal department. The points being made are made arbitrarily with legal sounding caveats without having established any foundation or basis in fact. The Executive Summary seems to be a political statement that is only designed to annoy greenhouse skeptics. Wasn’t the IPCC Assessment Report intended to be a scientific document that would merit solid backing from the climate science community – instead of forcing many climate scientists into having to agree with greenhouse skeptic criticisms that this is indeed a report with a clear and obvious political agenda. Attribution can not happen until understanding has been clearly demonstrated. Once the facts of climate change have been established and understood, attribution will become self-evident to all. The Executive Summary as it stands is beyond redemption and should simply be deleted”

    IPCC Fourth Assessment Report is Rubbish – Says Yet Another Expert

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/10002559/ipcc-fourth-assessment-report-is-rubbish-says-yet-another-expert/

  72. I enjoyed the post by Mr. Ravetz, especially the breadth of it that helps see view that reveals philosophy and science as an integrated unity.

    Thank you Tallbloke for matchmaking him with Anthony.

    First and foremost, to go forward with the scientific study of the earth’s climate by scientists then we just need scientists-as-scientists, not “climate scientists” and not “climate science”. Many voluntary aggregate groups of scientists each addressing an aspect of the earth’s climate would suffice.

    Is it surprising to some that what we in the modern world view as science has a fundamental necessary connection with philosophy? It apparently does surprise some. Would it surprise many that science is not just rationally connected to the epistemological and metaphysical branches of philosophy, but also even must be necessarily connected rationally to the ethical and political branches as well? I could even present a case that science has a very strong rational connection to the esthetic branch of philosophy.

    [and no, I am not referring to beauticians/plastic surgeons by the word esthetic nor to astrology/fortune tellers/mystics with the word metaphysics]

    John

  73. I blame it all on [snip] James Hansen

    I don’t mind recycling the trees and plants and stuff that died thousands or millions of years ago.

    No really, I would like to see the real Science settled, not just the political science.

  74. “Mr. Ravetz is an environmental consultant and professor of philosophy of science best known for his books challenging the assumptions of scientific objectivity, discussing the science wars and post-normal science.”

    Post-Normal Science. Bletch.

    I find nothing here but an invitation to equivocate scientific method with politics, empiricism with feelings, and academic rigor with populism.

  75. I appreciate the comments by Professor Jerome Ravetz of Oxford University.

    But in my opinion the depth of the problem goes much, much deeper:

    An unholy alliance of politicians, publishers, and news media are using science as a propaganda tool to control people.

    Anthony Watts and others discovered this in false global climate reports.

    I discovered this in false reports of space sciences and astrophysics.

    Climategate exposed an alliance of politicians, climatologists, publishers, funding agencies, and news media that were willing to distort or hide experimental data for their own selfish purposes.

    NASAgate will expose the same misuse of science by an alliance of space scientists, politicians, astrophysicists, funding agencies, publishers, and the news media.

    Thus the analysis by Professor Jerome Ravetz seems superficial:

    “In the event of a serious discrediting of the global-warming claims, public outrage would therefore be directed at the community of science itself, and (from within that community) at its leaders who were either ignorant or complicit until the scandal was blown open. If we are to understand Climategate, and move towards a restoration of trust, we should consider the structural features of the situation that fostered and nurtured the damaging practices. I believe that the ideas of Post-Normal Science (as developed by Silvio Funtowicz and myself) can help our understanding.”

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Emeritus Professor of
    Nuclear & Space Sciences
    Former NASA PI for Apollo

  76. Excellent analysis- one of the best so far. This essay, together with Stott’s “Collapse of a Grand Narrative” and Plimer’s Essington Lewis Lecture are to me the 3 most thoughtful so far.

    By the way, I note you credit ‘the man in the bus queue’. I assume you are aware that in British legal history the “man on the clapham omnibus” was used as a device to represent the views of a sensible, reasonably informed and honest observer.

    For those who haven’t read these other two seminal pieces, I envy you, because you will have the pleasure of reading them for the first time- here are the links:

    http://web.me.com/sinfonia1/Clamour_Of_The_Times/Clamour_Of_The_Times/Entries/2010/1/30_Global_Warming%3A_the_Collapse_of_a_Grand_Narrative.html

    http://climaterealists.com/attachments/database/EssLewisAusIMM1109.pdf

    You might also be interested in re-reading Feynman’s famous Cargo Cult Science speech from 40 years ago, which is also apposite: http://www.lhup.edu/~DSIMANEK/cargocul.htm

    And for those who think this is an entirely new phenomenon, Bacon said it all 400 years ago, in 1620: “Those who have taken upon them to lay down the law of nature as a thing already searched out and understood, whether they have spoken in simple assurance or professional affectation, have therein done philosophy and the sciences great injury. For as they have been successful in inducing belief, so they have been effective in quenching and stopping inquiry; and have done more harm by spoiling and putting an end to other men’s efforts than good by their own.”

    http://www.constitution.org/bacon/nov_org.htm

  77. Max Hugoson (17:37:59) :

    Thanks for the clear and simple explanation of the stratospheric cooling effect of CO2 and reminding us of Elsasser diagrams. I hadn’t been aware of the fact he had explicitly included the effect of CO2 but I do remember that it was only water vapour that was considered in his diagrams.

  78. “The fault, dear Brutus is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings”
    Julius Caesar, Act III Scene 4.
    Ahem

  79. I must admit to being a little confused. This article is by a Professor of Philosophy who’s essay is basically a rehash of information that has been out in the open for some time. Nice worded analysis and all that but it is written by someone who is quoted as saying “the puzzle-solving approach of ‘normal science’ is obsolete”.

    I know very little about “Post Normal Science” and will have to read a little more about it but I will stick to good old fashioned science for now…..It seems to have served us well on the whole and has only been brought into disrepute by a few practitioners who appear to have used it for their own agenda.

  80. Theo Goodwin (15:41:03) :

    Re: “There is no theory behind so-called climate science. ”

    I’m not so sure about that.

    Jasper Kirkby has a theory. He has illustrated multiple instances of correlation and is attempting to establish causation at the atomic level.

    The CLOUD experiment going on at CERN will attempt to establish a fundamental physical link (as in physics) between sunspots and clouds.

    If you were to ask him about his theory of climate change he might simply say:

    “In the absence of sunspots more cosmic rays enter the atmosphere this causes more clouds which increases the refection of light and cools the planet.”

    It is simple, makes a prediction, is testable and can be proven wrong. As I understand the meaning of the word, it is a theory.

    If he is correct, then it will be very problematic, since his theory begins with sunspots which are beyond our control, and can not be taxed.

    We should know more latter this year.

  81. I particularly like the comments of everyman. I also remember a comment by a well known scientist, ” the money thrown at the global warming problem has
    corrupted the system. He was not talking about corporations. Maybe recognition
    and the power it bestows was a small factor

  82. The sheer volume of error of science in this piece is quite telling. Try to demonstrate a rudimentary grasp of a field before you attempt to demolish it. Otherwise, you appear quite foolish.

  83. Pete (18:33:30) :
    I must admit to being a little confused. This article is by a Professor of Philosophy who’s essay is basically a rehash of information that has been out in the open for some time>

    What’s to be confused about? Everything about this whole debate, both sides, has been said before and has been out in the open. I wrote a post a while back in a different thread that says (less eloquently) almost exactly what this professor just said. That doesn’t make what he wrote any less original. Because he is who he is, and has the credentials he does, he perhaps convinced thousands while I only convinced perhaps one or two or none. But my post from a couple of weeks back proves his point (and mine). The internet in general, and the blogosphere in particular, enable access to information and analysis that will prevent forever the control of the masses by the shaman/priesthood/priest-scientist.

    Of course that means that Google is the index to human knowledge and who ever controls Google….. uh oh.

  84. Why are we pandering to this person? Note that the creators of PNS, Jerome Ravetz and Mike Hulme, are Marxists who sought to promote post-normal science further by capitalizing on the public disgust at the corruption of ‘normal’ science.

    You need to read this:

    http://buythetruth.wordpress.com/2009/10/31/climate-change-and-the-death-of-science/

    Note: the above referenced article was written on October 31 and updated November 3, before the ‘Climategate’ CRU email scandal broke, and it is all the more pertinent in the light of those disclosures. The CRU emails show how science has been perverted into a political movement, and how scientists conspired to serve a ‘post-normal’ agenda where truth is trampled – exactly as the proponents of ‘post-normal’ science had anticipated. With the association between ‘post-normal’ science developed by Ravetz and its application in climate science by Hulme now widely exposed by this present post, Ravetz and Hulme jointly authored an article, published by the BBC on December 1, entitled ‘Show Your Working’: What ‘ClimateGate’ means in which they sought to promote post-normal science further by capitalizing on the public disgust at the corruption of ‘normal’ science. This is cynical because normal science was corrupted by covertly introducing post-normal activities in the first place.

  85. Bruce King (18:34:51) :

    Money is still being thrown at global warming, and it’s getting to the point of at the expense of far more deserving lines of research. Science faces a dilemna: either disengage itself from the bad science that has seen scandal & failure, or watch in horror as political agenda captures and enslaves all lines of research to the tune of ‘Science on demand’.
    It is a far easier thing to start over, rebuild a line of research than it is to stop a runaway train of misused science. To wit: you cannot undo the Bomb.
    One has only to examine climate remedies put forth recently that failed to answer the question “Should we be doing this?” to see the dangers of entrenchment.

  86. The essay by Professor Ravetz is an elegant apologia for poor science and bad behaviour. Invoking Kuhn and Post-normal philosophy cannot change this. The science is poor because the evidence was “massaged” and normal criticisms or attempts to disprove the conclusions were thwarted. The latter action constitutes bad behaviour as a scientist or non-scientist. The word science is used without definiton in Professor Ravetz’ essay. Science is using a series of well-defined methods that were not adhered to by some researchers at UEA and elsewhere. Couching such actions in post-modern cant (sorry, Post-normal) cannot excuse them.
    Morley

  87. Thank you, an interesting read. I wonder if “climate science” is just a product of our time and will eventually be left to the side like so many others in the long history of scientific work.

    I often wonder if the bigger picture might be the benefit of a warming climate and increasing CO2 to life.

  88. I meant Jerome Ravetz and Silvio Funtowicz not Mike Hulme

    As I see it, isn’t it obvious that the problem here is that Mann, Jones, Hanson et al have been practicing Post Normal Science? Read this from Wikipedia:

    Detractors of post-normal science, conversely, see it as a method of trying to argue for a given set of actions despite a lack of evidence for them, and as a method of trying to stifle opposing voices calling for caution by accusing them of hidden biases. Many consider post-normal science an attempt to ignore proper scientific methods in an attempt to substitute inferior methodology in service of political goals. Practitioners advocating post normal science methods defend their methods, suggesting that their methodologies are not to be considered replacements for dealing with those situations in which normal science works sufficiently well

  89. I think its unfair when people have a go at Popper for being an idealist. Popper even acknowledged that science can benefit from tautology. Popper himself was not an idealist and understood that theories had various degrees of empirical content but he did understand the need for a theory of demarcation for a scientific ideal. Popper spelt out the scientific methodology which should be undertaken to protect against personal opinions and inductivism. You cannot assess quality in the absence of an ideal and the problem is I think that more scientists need to take time to reflect on their hypotheses and work and compare it to the scientific ideal and assess if their methods contain all the essential components of the theory of scientific demarcation. There are certain aspects which are quintessential to science which if are not present in your method then you can be sure that what you are doing is not science. There is certainly some research going on out there that would not stand up to such a reflection and people would find they are just trying to pass logical tautology off as science.

  90. Alright people, here we go… by the numbers now: Symptoms of groupthink
    To make groupthink testable, Irving Janis devised eight symptoms indicative of groupthink (1977).

    Illusions of invulnerability creating excessive optimism and encouraging risk taking.
    Rationalizing warnings that might challenge the group’s assumptions.
    Unquestioned belief in the morality of the group, causing members to ignore the consequences of their actions.
    Stereotyping those who are opposed to the group as weak, evil, biased, spiteful, disfigured, impotent, or stupid.
    Direct pressure to conform placed on any member who questions the group, couched in terms of “disloyalty”.
    Self censorship of ideas that deviate from the apparent group consensus.
    Illusions of unanimity among group members, silence is viewed as agreement.
    Mind guards — self-appointed members who shield the group from dissenting information.
    Groupthink, resulting from the symptoms listed above, results in defective decision making. That is, consensus-driven decisions are the result of the following practices of groupthinking[5]

    Incomplete survey of alternatives
    Incomplete survey of objectives
    Failure to examine risks of preferred choice
    Failure to reevaluate previously rejected alternatives
    Poor information search
    Selection bias in collecting information
    Failure to work out contingency plans.

    When I first read this it floored me. Someone had delineated a process…
    Now, I see how Challenger, Columbia, Credit Default Swaps, Iraq & the Neo-Cons… are justified. Sure we will dig up Spanish Flu… we are smart… It is everywhere; all around the world the long-ears are saving man-kind from himself. They AGW folks are pure and care more, we the irritating but “unimportant unwashed masses need to learn all about soap”. The IPCC and CAP-n-TRADE was part of a long term strategy… There is planning behind it. It has been well funded by the foundations as well as public and private money. Who is at the heart of this I wonde? I am about ready to start toppling the Moai. God. You folks have really spent a bunch of our money, for what? You can fly the Shuttle but my car has to pass DEQ? What’s up with all that? Tell us more. THX

  91. We may not have reached this state if more scientists had knowledge across a broader range of disciplines. Such folk naturally are more comfortable with characterizing uncertainty and should be reticent to diminish it in their pronouncments. These are the folks that we need more of. They are the “Jacks of all trades”. The problems are that we don’t have enough of these folks and so a post-normal science extended blogo-peer review is required.

    Also, my sense of this essay is that it is more of an elaborate rationalization for unethical behavior and poorly skilled practitioners, than a completely accurate application to the problem.

  92. K2 (16:53:23) states “The problem is we have a lot of good carpentry tools and a lot of bad carpenters. ” Actually, their statistical tools seem to be very dull and their plans (read databases) seem to lack proper scaling, suffer from missing information, etc. Their tape measures appear to be made of latex. I could go on but you get the drift.

    Prof. Ravetz has clearly succeeded in accomplishing his objective. The discussion is, with a few exceptions, very thoughtful. Hats off to Anthony and TallBloke for facilitating.

  93. davidmhoffer (18:55:44) :
    Sorry David, I missed your post on the subject. I do not disagree about the power of the blogosphere. I love the fact that people like Anthony give us a collective voice and a power beyond the vision of the MSN until not to long ago.

    My point (and I should have made it better) was really about the “Post-normal philosophy/science”. It is a new subject to me and I noticed as I scrolled through the posts that someone had put up a warning and a link…

    http://buythetruth.wordpress.com/2009/10/31/climate-change-and-the-death-of-science/

    (my thanks to the person that posted)

    I have actually been away reading the post and its very enlightening! Well worth a read.

  94. Here is my post from a couple of weeks ago, in the Glaciergate thread on this site. I would like to thank the professor for confirming my hypothesis and showing that the blogosphere is out ahead of the academics and scientists. In addition to being a pretend physicist and a pretend artificial intelligence developer, I am now also a pretend philosopher. I am however, still waiting to be awarded my Howler Monkey number:
    —————–

    In primitive tribes, the fiercist warrior held the power to make group decisions. The smartest guy in the tribe became the shaman. He could challenge the chief with impunity by consulting the spirits (which of course only he could do) so that it was them that disagreed with the chief, not the shaman. If he was clever, he could control the chief while leaving him in charge. In human history, the chief was displaced by government, the shaman by the priesthood. Now they were both organized. But power and knowledge became synonymous and both built libraries. Power belonged to those who could assemble the most knowledge and apply it which was a labour intensive process involving many scribes. The printing press destroyed all that, driving the cost of a printed record down to the point where educational institutes and corporations could assemble knowledge that rivaled that of governments and priesthoods. At each of these stages in our history, the same tools were used to promote misinformation and control the masses as they were to document fact and prove it.

    The internet is the last chapter in this progression, with the collective knowledge of humanity available to anyone who takes the time to research and comprehend. Those who wish to control others disseminate misinformation via the internet too, but they can be confronted en masse by the common man, and alliances can spring up on a moments notice involving millions of people who can make their own analysis and communicate it with a single voice.

    The power of the government and the priesthood to control the common man by speaking for the spirits, or propogating falshoods to foster hatred and justify a war while the truth of matters is locked in records to which the pulic has no access. I fear not the machinations of the IPCC and their ilk to control my life because the information to expose them and the medium to express it is so available. I always knew they would lose this one.

    But the watchword is vigilance. Albert Einstein said he did not know what weapons world war III would be fought with, but that world war iv would be fought with sticks and stones. He may have been wrong. World war III is being fought as we speak, but the weapon is information. Organized government recruited and built its own special priesthood, which will be defeated by the common man with nothing more than a keyboard and an ethernet cable.

  95. thanx to scientistfortruth for linking:

    http://buythetruth.wordpress.com/2009/10/31/climate-change-and-the-death-of-science/

    Prof. Ravetz says:

    “Climategate is particularly significant because it cannot be blamed on the well-known malign influences from outside science, be they greedy corporations or an unscrupulous State.” WRONG

    “The whole vast edifice of policy commitments for Carbon reduction, with their many policy prescriptions and quite totalitarian moral exhortations, will be at risk of public rejection. What sort of chaos would then result? The consequences for science in our civilisation would be extraordinary.” WRONG

    “Are we really experiencing Anthropogenic Carbon-based Global Warming? If the public loses faith in that claim, then the situation of science in our society will be altered for the worse.” WRONG

    the politics preceded the ‘science’. the rejection of carbon trading and the collapse of the AGW “theory” would be a triumph for science over propaganda.

    meanwhile, back in the real world, there’s an article in the Indonesian Jakarta Post today by Jonathan Wootliff of Reputation Partners in Chicago. Not mentioned is Wootliff’s history: he was Communications Director at Greenpeace International located in Amsterdam, Netherlands where he was a member of the organization’s Senior Management team, and managed the organization’s public outreach and communications in over 35 countries.

    Jakarta Post: Jonathan Wootliff: Green watch: No time to waste for detailed climate action plan
    But environmental groups including Greenpeace are demanding more details from the government as to how it plans to fulfill this commitment to cut the nation’s climate-threatening emissions.
    Oxfam, another leading international non-governmental organization, wants to know how the government is preparing adaptations and mitigation on the predicted impacts of climate change on the poor, who they say will be hardest hit.,,
    Lofty population density and high levels of biodiversity, together with its 80,000 kilometers of coastline and 17,500 islands, makes Indonesia one of the most vulnerable countries to the impact of climate change…
    A recent Worldwide Fund for Nature study is one of many reports documenting shifting weather patterns making it increasingly difficult for farmers to decide when to plant their crops.
    It is estimated that Indonesia is now losing at least 300,000 tons of potential crop production each year because of the scourge of global warming.
    Harsher weather conditions mean that millions of fishermen are making less money because of dwindling catches caused by changes in ocean temperatures.
    Indonesia’s 40 million poor who depend on healthy land and sea for their livelihoods will be the worst affected due to prolonged droughts, tropical cyclones and rising sea levels thanks to climate change…

    http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2010/02/09/green-watch-no-time-waste-detailed-climate-action-plan.html

    i’m afraid Prof. Ravetz essay, as grand and commendable as much of it is, is reminiscent of the fake investigation of Climategate by The Guardian and Elisabeth Rosenthal’s NYT article yesterday.

  96. Well written article by Professor Ravetz, and loved the use of the past tense. For me – this article is the tipping point. The AGW assertion is finally OVER.

    But Professor Ravetz’s argument at the end of the article however still asserts that AGW exists. But he can’t have it both ways: on one hand he described the flawed data and approaches (even seeming to be outraged? (the ‘decline’!)), yet simultaneously endorsing the AGW conclusions: “If the public loses faith in the claim of the existence of AGW, then the situation of science in our society will be altered for the worse” ?

    That line of reasoning would lead one to arguing that the ‘sexed up’ intelligence reports didn’t matter – because (in the end) the outcome was good. I’m not buying it.

    Quite arguably – I believe that the situation for science in our society will be altered for the BETTER, and the use of the Blogosphere for critical technical review (as opposed to the “Pal Review” now taking place) – a step in the right direction.

    “Let dialogue commence?” Professor Ravetz – it is already well underway. And by the way – it is LONG passed time to start acknowledging these heroes by name. You know who they are – and they deserve our thanks.

  97. As he points out in the final paragraph, humility, one of the ancient virtues, is a necessary concomitant of science. In fact it may very well be its foundational virtue. In their arrogance, many climate scientists forgot the basic grammar of science by touting the AGW-CO2 hypothesis as an established theory before it was rigorously tested.

    As the National Academy of Science defines it: “…theory refers to a comprehensive explanation of an important feature of nature supported by facts gathered over time. Theories also allow scientists to make predictions about as yet unobserved phenomena…”

    We are considerably short of a comprehensive explanation of the climate system, let alone an ability to predict its behavior decades into the future. If the proponents of AGW-CO2 had humbly submitted their hypothesis to the scientific community for verification, the ensuing dialogue (no matter what the outcome) could have enriched the atmospheric sciences beyond measure. But imprudence has left us in ruins. It will take years to rebuild what so few have destroyed.

  98. Look….i’m not a scientist so please help me with this. CRU has not released the original hard Data. CRU has had the Hard Data quite some time and balked at all F.O.I.s In the unlikely event they ever release this hard data(erased my arse) ….how are we to know it is in fact the actual Hard data. We’ve never seen the original. They’ve had plenty of time to go through it and…massage it. Afterall, AGW is so obvious to them and so important, such a minor issue of inconvenient data should not get in the way of saving the planet? I would guess that the AGW is kicking themselves that they allowed the all important hard data and email server to be collected at the moronic CRU. Surely such data is now a matter of NAtional Security and belongs at the NSA / GCHQ not the CRU. My concern is how are we going to guarantee access to the the all important data necessary to mount Skeptical scientific inquiry as it is now surely Job 1 for AGW complex to come between us and it. Comments please… Thx

  99. Thanks for the perceptive essay.
    Kuhn’s normal science describes the political context in which the hockey team worked, but the move away from stringent measurement into computer modelling games was the means for their self delusion. Bring back publication of the raw data.
    Fortunately, through sceptical sites like WUWT and ClimateAudit, “the whole vast edifice of policy commitmaents for carbon reduction with their many policy prescriptions and quite totalitarian moral exhortations”ARE “at risk of public rejection.”

  100. I must offer my congratulations to Jerome Ravetz for his thought-provoking post. Mr. Ravetz’s post was so thought-provoking that I could scarcely read a single paragraph without substantive objections coming immediately to mind. Since, a detailed critical commentary on twenty-three paragraphs would be somewhat tedious, I have selected five particular statements that seemed representative.

    (1) “In the gap between science and policy, the languages, their conventions and their implications are effectively incommensurable.”

    In Kuhn’s {i}The Structure of Scientific Revolutions{/i}, he claimed that the terms of differing scientific paradigms were incommensurable.

    The concept of incommensurability, although Quine tried to give it a precise logical meaning, has unfortunately become irreducibly fuzzy. It has some sense to the effect that different scientific claims cannot be empirically resolved. Thus, a proponent of this view might try to claim that there is no empirical difference between a Lorentzian and a Newtonian frame of reference. (there is one,, just mess around with clocks). The empirical difference between Lorentzian and Einstienian interpretation of the Lorentz transform is trickier. But that doesn’t mean they are incommensurable, rather that they may be empirically equivalent.

    In any case, the claim here, of science and policy having incommensurable languages, is more akin to C.P. Snow’s “The Two Cultures”, (i.e., the humanities and the sciences not speaking the same language, or maybe he meant Oxford and Cambridge, it was never quite clear.) Or maybe even Sapir-Whorf (e.g., those Dani people must be color-blind. I think the anthropologists are still living that one down.)

    (2) “The near-meltdown of the world’s financial system can be blamed partly on naïvely reductionist economics and misapplied simplistic statistics.  …he received no more attention than did Nikolas (sic) Taleb in warning of the ‘fat tails’ in the probability distributions of securities that led to the Credit Crunch.”

    Mr. Ravetz appears to be blaming the current financial crisis on the shortcomings of VaR models. As an explanation, this is inadequate. VaR models have been in use since the 1990s. The current financial crisis, however, differs little from the many financial crises that preceded it. The introduction of VaR models may well have provided an excuse for why the responsible regulators didn’t remove the proverbial punchbowl from the financial party sooner, but the cause of the crises is the same as the cause of the preceding financial crises, namely debt/monetary inflation and moral hazard. We also note that the failure of VaR is due not simply to the use of Gaussian distributions, but also to false volatility and correlation assumptions.

    (3) “The importance of the new media of communications in mass politics, as in the various ‘rainbow revolutions’ is well attested. ”

    Free press was certainly important in the American Revolution. In the color revolutions, not so much. Way too much CIA involvement for that.

    (4) “But knowledge was never entirely free, and the power-politics of scientific legitimacy remained quite stable for centuries.  The practice of science has generally been restricted to a social elite and its occasional recruits, as it requires a prior academic education and a sufficiency of leisure and of material resources. ”

    Like, Michael Faraday? Was he one of the occasional recruits? Is this thesis falsifiable, or is it perhaps the unremarkable thesis that influential scientists are socially influential and as such elite?

    (5) “Like any other technology, IT is many-faceted.  It is easily misused and abused, and much of the content of the blogosphere is trivial or worse.  The right-wing political agendas of some climate sceptics, their bloggers and their backers, are quite well known.”

    The term ‘right-wing’ is of course vague and usually used to denigrate an opponent. That said, the term has somewhat different connotations in the U.S. than in Europe. In the U.S. the term suggests a gung-ho populism, but is nonetheless far less denigrating a term than ‘left-wing’, which connotes elitism, and internationaliism with the distinct odor of treason. And is it only one wing, from whatever continent, which has the capacity to misuse and abuse IT?

    It is refreshing, though, to find a naive Kuhnian walking about and typing up essays; it’s like finding a living fossil.

  101. “Are we really experiencing Anthropogenic Carbon-based Global Warming? If the public loses faith in that claim, then the situation of science in our society will be altered for the worse.”

    Up until here the Professor was doing well. He may have avoided speaking to financial malfeasance but presumably his acknowledgment of corruption recognizes this. Science has been perverted in pursuit of power and money. Period. The public stands only to lose faith in the undeserving of that faith. Those who have enriched themselves or encumbered society with false and costly claims of global warming must accept the consequences.

    The only way to restore faith in science is precisely to excise the corrupt components. Professor Ravetz must understand that the public will readily accept corruption for what it is – the willingness of a comparative few institutions and key personnel within who have become “stealth advocates.” Most such people will claim to have done so in service to the greater good. Somesuch claims will be judged truthful – others will not.

    There is little way going forward to avoid the distasteful work of cleaning up a mess that’s been festering for 50 years. But it is work that must be done – if we are ever to restore public trust in these institutions. Trust and good faith are vital to our movement through hazardous technological waters ahead. We have enormous issues with genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, population control, and human cloning just around the corner. To address these challenges we must have a body of science that we know is free of untoward political and financial influence. We must have unfettered trust.

    Restoring trust in science and the communities that utilize it is the primary challenge going forward. It is not an easy one – but one that must be met now if we expect to survive the even bigger challenges that will follow.

  102. In retrospect, we can ask why this particular, really rather extreme view of the prospect, became the official one. It seems that several causes conspired. First, the early opposition to any claim of climate change was only partly scientific; the tactics of the opposing special interests were such as to induce the proponents to adopt a simple, forcefully argued position.

    So, a weak opposition is at fault for the ballooning of a myth? But I suggest that a far more important first development was a perception that “new” science was better than – and therefore superceded – older, established theories and records of climate history. This is a science which has always been on pretty good terms with historical, and allegorical records – benefitting and admitting the various data gathered over many centuries, and not just depending on recent research. Paleo records suddenly all started to take a new “slant”, all conformed to the same idea, all referred to other data gathered in the modern period. Sunspot records were hundreds – thousands – of years in the making. What these modern scientists first did was scorn history. Not just modify the historical record, but to obliterate it, to claim that modern truths were the new reality.

    “What led to the current disparagement for past knowledge?” might be a better question. In my view, global warming “religion” is an evangelistic faith which resulted, not so much from the repackaging of traditional science as “values-free”, but from the venal substitution of false (e.g. “green”) values for far more substantial and important ones. There’s not a lot of personal integrity, conservatism, skepticism, and patience on display in those e-mails. And the back-room “peer-review” process is shown for what it had become, at least in climate science, and very likely in much of government and higher ed. institutions which supported it: a meritricious, Swiftian exercise in bending, stooping, leaping and grovelling for favor and reward.

    I still wonder what on earth Phill Jones had in mind when he offered the offhand, and surely tongue-in-cheek expression “value-adding” to describe the plundering of HadCru’s data. If you have the power to dispose of other people’s history, your definition of “value” is still no more important than theirs. “Values-free” is not an apt description of those who use their power over a period of decades, as Jones and (probably Wigley did), to advance their own agendas and careers.

  103. Mr. Jaretz: Do you recognize this exchange (transcript here)?

    7.05 it is also suggested that even a mild rise in temperature will lead to the spread northward of deadly, insect bourne tropical deseases like Malaria. But is this true? Professor Paul Reitter of the Pasteur institute in Paris is recognized as one of the World’s leading experts on malaria and other insect bourne diseases. He is a member of the World Health Organization WHO Expert Advisory committee. Was chairman of the American Committee of medical Entymology of the American Society for Tropical Medicine. And lead author on the health section of the U.S. national assessment of the potential consequences of climate variability As professor Reitter is eager to point out. Mosquitos thrive in very cold temperatures.
    7.53 “Mosquitoes are not specifically tropical. Most people will realize that in termperate regions there are mosquitoes. Um, Infact, Mosquitoes are extremely abundant, ur, in the arctic. The most devastating episode of Malaria was in the Soviet Union in the 1920s. There was some thing like 13 million cases a year and something like 600,000 deaths. A tremendous catastrophy that reached up to the arctic circle. Archangel had 30,000 cases and about 10,000 Deaths so it is not a tropical disease. Yet these people in the Global Warming Fraternity INVENT THE IDEA THAT MALARIA WILL MOVE NORTHWARDS.”

    Where have you been for all these years?? Manipulation of the subjects by the subjecters has always followed logical paths…no matter how twisted. The AGW story is a logic of Cash and power. You’d make a great defense attorney for bank robbers. Your thesis is interesting but the story of the AGW scam is already show to be a lot more base.

  104. The Professor states:

    “And what about the issue itself? Are we really experiencing Anthropogenic Carbon-based Global Warming? If the public loses faith in that claim, then the situation of science in our society will be altered for the worse.”

    On the contrary, the public would be greatly benefited by losing faith in this “claim,” and it is the only way scientists who profess to seek to understand climate would find their way back to some legitimacy in society.

    The public’s “faith” would be better placed in an exhaustive inquiry (not a “claim”) into what drives weather – one which includes all comers: is earth’s climate influenced by it’s space environment? By the variable star it orbits? By fluxuations in cosmic rays or in the geomagnetic field? If so, how?

    The Climategate emails reveal the scientific community had tyranically narrowed the question to greenhouse gas forcings only. Scientists made every effort to restrict framing the question in any other terms. That is the real betrayal of trust here: all the questions that were not asked and not allowed to be asked.

    Also, a complete summary of what led to Catastrophic Climategate might have usefully included a mention of the abuse of computer models, which is pandemic across the disciplines, I believe.

  105. No disrespect intended, but Jerome Ravetz is not a faculty member at Oxford. He does not claim to be – the blog owner just wants to impress us by being a bit vague. Dr. Ravetz is an “associate fellow” of an institute in the Business college. He is a postmodernist critic of science: “As I became aware of science as an intellectual and social phenomenon, I was impressed by certain similarities to what I had been told about dogmatic religion.” He has a right to his views and they should be judged on their merits not on inflated credentials. (Again, he is not inflating his credentials – the blog owner is.)

  106. Some scientists finally spoke out against fellow scientists.That proves that all is not lost in the climate science department.A lot of people talk about the money,but power would have a lot to do with it.Most scientists have big egos,who dares to question THEM.It’s why the politics are so confusing.I would bet that there are fierce arguments that go on between scientists privately.As in religion and politics,each side believing they are right.I’m a cynic.I believe mankind is on a slow steady march towards extinction,I often wonder if we are sowing the seeds today,but every generation wonders that.I believe man will destroy man,not the weather.As to the AGW theory,bandaids will be applied,nothing will change,people will be fooled again and again,why not?History tells us so.We never learn from our mistakes,we never will learn.

  107. By the way, science, scientists, etc. are fallible. Everyone knows that. No one ever had “faith” in science as the one true religion. There’s no sense in pretending otherwise.

  108. Am I the only one here who, when he hears the phrase ‘post-normal science’, thinks of Trofim Denisovich Lysenko? Yikes.

  109. Well, it is a good summary of the situation and I went along happily until the paragraph:

    And what about the issue itself? Are we really experiencing Anthropogenic Carbon-based Global Warming? If the public loses faith in that claim, then the situation of science in our society will be altered for the worse. There is very unlikely to be a crucial experience that either confirms or refutes the claim; the post-normal situation is just too complex. The consensus is likely to depend on how much trust can still be put in science. The whole vast edifice of policy commitments for Carbon reduction, with their many policy prescriptions and quite totalitarian moral exhortations, will be at risk of public rejection. What sort of chaos would then result? The consequences for science in our civilisation would be extraordinary.

    I am sorry, I am a trained scientist and I cannot believe that a trained scientist looking at the long record of temperatures on this planet can support that:
    There is very unlikely to be a crucial experience that either confirms or refutes the claim .

    It is clear from the data that in the 40.000 years when homo sapiens sapiens emerged there have been much higher temperatures and the sky did not fall.

    It is “scientists” that made this mess, and true scientists should join the good fight to clear the air about this artificial “complexity” that requires a meta language of post normality. It should be called out loud and clear that the data do not support any urgency in any sense and there is ample time, decades, centuries, to decide if anything need be done on CO2( apart of course normal energy conservation and pollution control).

    To take the attitude that the inertia is too large to change course is defeatist and pandering to the Al Gores of this age who demand the west commit economic harakiri so that a world elite enrich themselves .

    There are few policy commitments at the moment, the world did not buy the snake oil in Copenhagen, so I really think the essay gets off the tracks here.

  110. I think it’s probably less than 6 months ago since I had a discussion, in these hallowed cyber-halls, with Tallbloke about post-normal science and Professor Ravetz. Going from memory, my understanding was that, in fact, Professor Ravetz’s view at that time was that AGW skepticism was a form – the bad kind – of post-normal science (correct me if I’m mis-remembering Tallbloke).

    I sincerely suggested that I hoped that Professor Ravetz would live to see the error in his thinking. Accordingly, whatever anyone thinks of post-normal science and the Professor, the fact that within a few months, a person of this stature, can grasp the significance of the Climategate leak and articulate what he has above is, to me, quite astounding.

    All credit to Tallbloke, Anthony and, of course, the greatest whistleblower in history, and credit to Professor Ravetz for his integrity.

  111. WUWT, Anthony and “Tall-thanks for the good Dr’s post-interestingly he chose WUWT. Why not, this site (blog, you have no idea how I hate that term) is rapidly gaining credence not only for the quality and diversity of articles, but the responses to those arictles, so thanks also to “Scientist for Truth” for the counterpoint to the Dr. who wrote the article. I know of no other site, with the probable exception of Climate Audit that allows point/ counter point with regards to what has to be considered the “question of this age-perhaps the ages.

  112. With all due respect to the author and Angela Wilkinson, I totally agree that AGW has taken on all the hallmarks of religious belief and totally support that description, but I am a little uncomfoprtable witht the phrase, “Evangelical Science.”

  113. “The task of creating and involving the extended peer community (generally known as ‘participation’) has been recognised as difficult, with its own contradictions and pitfalls.” Paragraph 13.

    I hope Mr Ravetz understands that ordinary people (the extended peer community) will involve themselves whether or not they have received an invitation to participate. The blogosphere is evidence of that. Amazingly, it was done without someone creating and involving. It wasn’t that difficult.

    I think the statement would read better if you substituted the words “extended peer community” with “closed scientific community” as follows:

    “The task of creating and involving the closed scientific community (generally known as ‘participation’) has been recognised as difficult, with its own contradictions and pitfalls.”

  114. As I read more posts this evening I have to smile. Being a student of History… I think back to the unfinished Obelisks of Egypt. The Moai of Easter Island with unfinished statuary still in the quarry. The fall of the Maya… The end of the Chin dynasty, which died with his burial. The end of the Dark Ages and the begining of the Age of Enlightenment. Is this a turning point in our Post-Modern history? Will we now finally find out who shot JFK? Can we open those files now? The cold war is over. The Berlin Wall has come down. I was fourteen at the time and I would really like to know the answer before I die… Please Mister-tell us, please…

  115. “This scandal, and the resulting crisis, was created by people within science who can be presumed to have been acting with the best of intentions. ”

    As we said in our book, this is best understood as a form of noble cause corruption. ( hat tip to steve mcintyre for the idea)

  116. Much to comment on here. Ravetz opines:

    The whole vast edifice of policy commitments for Carbon reduction, with their many policy prescriptions and quite totalitarian moral exhortations, will be at risk of public rejection. What sort of chaos would then result?

    Better to ask what sort of chaos would result if the public did NOT reject “totalitarian moral exhortations”? When has totalitarianism been moral? Can Dr. Ravetz cite ANY moral behavior EVER on the part of totalitarianists? Please visit Buchenwald and Auschwitz before answering that question.

    JamesS (16:35:40) offers: I would argue that this “samizdat” state of affairs is nearly unique to this particular scientific theory

    but that point is rebutted by Oliver K. Manuel (18:07:03): But in my opinion the depth of the problem goes much, much deeper. An unholy alliance of politicians, publishers, and news media are using science as a propaganda tool to control people. Anthony Watts and others discovered this in false global climate reports. I discovered this in false reports of space sciences and astrophysics.

    I agree with Dr. Manuel. Totalitarianism has infected many sciences, particularly those that study large objects or systems that do not lend themselves to controlled experiment.

    Does anyone think that climate science is the only one that Greenpeace, World Wildlife Federation, and other quangos engage in? My experience is that the various branches of ecology, forest science, oceanography, and indeed all the environmental sciences are rife with corruption — corruption of thought, institutions, journals, funding, politics, you name it.

    Ravetz worries that “[t]he consequences for science in our civilisation would be extraordinary.”

    Newsflash: much of what is called “science” in our civilization is non-different from Dark Age superstition. I am not talking about Kuhnian anomalies here. I am referring to widespread, wholesale degradation and corruption.

  117. As an old philosophy of science student who stopped studying with Kuhn I greatly appreciate the description of post normal science. A lot of what I read in the mails now makes more sense.

    Kudos

  118. A very well-written and thoughtful piece, Mr. Ravetz. Thank you for writing, and for sharing this on WUWT.

    I especially like the part about the extended community of reviewers, who, while not precisely peers, have a voice and certainly critical eyes. In my own field, engineering, there are certain fundamentals that are never violated. These can be used, where appropriate, to evaluate the claims of various scientists. One’s conclusions may never violate the second law of thermodynamics, nor the laws of process control, as just two examples.

  119. A very enjoyable essay. It makes my head hurt trying to find a way to remove (or at least quantify) uncertainty. Error, I think, is permanent in the same sense that “the poor will be with you always”. You do what can be done to mitigate it, but for whatever reason, there it is again. Maybe the best we can hope for is to avoid going over cliffs.

  120. Philemon (20:49:22) :

    By the way, science, scientists, etc. are fallible. Everyone knows that. No one ever had “faith” in science as the one true religion. There’s no sense in pretending otherwise.

    I agree. And the dispatch with which the lukewarmers decamp from that battlefield (Just Google: global warming public opinion polls) suggests the difficulty they are having in adapting to their new perspective. No sound, no fury, no collapse of science as we know it, just the clicking of the remote controlls as they find another channel.

    I hope it isn’t too cynical of me to suggest that the popular view of science is shifting as we speak with no more than a sour growl of contempt from a large majority of Americans, who say something like this:

    “If that’s what Science says, then Science… is a ass.”

  121. I found this to be interesting, to the point of drowning out everything around me… However, despite the very careful description of the “how” and “why” Climategate came and even a reasonably good prognostication of its results, the end of this leaves me cold. Ravetz does not begin to call for integrity in science, nor the removal of political pressure that caused Climategate in the first place… Rather, he seems to indicate that these things are normal and acceptable, and instead, we need to “manage” disagreement and “manage” the loss of faith “science”.

    What? We need to “manage” the outcome, to ensure that the global warming theory persists and remains as an enventually indisputable “consensus”? Ravetz studies, sees much, and then fails to demonstrate he’s learned anything, or even that he’s concerned about anything other than figuring out how to “manage” opposition to the political, and disagreement over the scientific.

    This sounds distressingly like some political strategies, where “community leaders” hire people to break up citizens groups into small units, ostracize those who fail to conform the desired paradigm, and then manufacture “consensus” which has “credibility” because it has been achieved by a quality “objective” process.

    Ravetz, you’re brilliant. But your integrity leaves me wanting – much like the very lack of integrity that brought about the events which have prompted your own commentary.

  122. This is a well written piece, but it is easy to be seduced by the language. Personally, I find the concepts of “post normal science” quite disturbing.

    I have worked as a scientist and as a software developer for some 30 years.
    I have also undertaken a lot of endevours such as climbing in the Himalaya, paragliding, and kayaking.

    In all of these activities, there are often times when the “stakes are high”

    In these situations, we do not throw out our preconceived ideas.
    In all this areas, we develop processes where we can react to the high pressure demands of the task in hand with a clear and reasoned approach.

    When facing an impending storm at 6000m in the Gangotri mountains, believe me the last thing you need is a paradigm shift.

    In this sense, I do not understand why climate change “science” needs a paradigm shift, especially as there is no immediate signal that any drastic action is required.

  123. What Frosts me are these johnny-come-latelys (no relation to me!) all survivors of the crash of the AGW (Bowel) movement. By silence he was a part of it. The issues of AGW vs. Skeptics is old by about 4-5 years, maybe more. This analysis would have been useful 2-3 years ago but is useless now. We skeptics have gone from being Nutty, Fringe, UFO believing, Train-spotting, Flat-earth amateurs of the ‘town’ kind to dangerous ‘deniers (kin with the holocaust deniers)’. Where were you when we were painted with that description? Did you throw you lot in with us or did you stick you finger in the air to see which way it was blowing?? You are literally 4-5 years too late and it looks like your software didn’t apprise you of this. It sounds good and lots of words but the model the ‘few’ used to fight it was simple: Truth Vs. Lies. This scam called AGW is a story of base, corrupt, ENRON like lies geared towards manipulation, power and cash. THey always are! Thank God for the CRU leak so that the chicken littles can sense the prevailing wind changing!

  124. Now that I have read and, more importantly, digested, the article, I still think that thinking of science per se as ‘post normal’ is a nonsense.

    However, ‘post normal’ considerations help understanding when a supposedly scientific discipline is hijacked by interest groups and becomes in the first instance, politically interesting, then politically driven. At that stage, everybody is allowed to have an opinion and their opinions are taken to be as good as mine or any other person who has the knowledge to understand pure science and abuse thereof. (I am a D. Phil. in quantum mechanics.)

    There are beautiful examples of this in Climategate where the Team, Mann in particular, refers to any contrary views as ‘crap’ (etc.). And indeed they are: if you accept that statistical standards are exemplified in the methods adopted by Mann, then you necessarily believe that the standards adopted by the community of trained and practising statisticians are ‘crap’. On the other hand, if you accept the views of pure statistics (if such a thing exists, but you get my drift) then you will believe that the climate change community accepts a standard of analysis that is dangerously misleading, viz., crap. They are mutually exclusive.

    As a trained scientist you will side with the community of practising statisticians over the Team, who view ststistics as merely a group of techniques for manipulating (torturing?) data until it yields the result they desire, thus violating the principles of statistical inference as the first of many statistical violations. And it is here that you have to draw the line and say that real science must prevail. Furthermore, you also have to say that the views of the man in the street are not as valid as the view guided by scientific principles.

    Then the problems arise. As a practising scientist your existence depends on grants and publications and you have a family and a mortgage. It is easiest to take the path of least resistence to both. AGW became such a path. Especially for the great majority of scientists who are not particularly gifted and who can easily be persuaded that AGW is real and leads to grants and publications. To keep the ball rolling, for this is a virtuous cause, you are quite happy for the politicisation to occur. The process of corruption begins and is about the only example of large positive feedback that can be proven in climate science. Hence ‘post normal’ science.

  125. It was comforting that the start of this essay was harmonious with the submission I put to the current UK House of Commons Inquiry, about the damage to Science in the eyes of the public.

    Then I came to the sentence “Indeed, if we look at the definition of ‘post-normal science’, we see how well it fits: facts uncertain,values in dispute, stakes high, and decisions urgent. ”

    Here we have grounds for debate.

    If one accepts that AGW is a form of social activism, then one can study prior cases of social activism, to compare and contrast. Several have happened in my lifetime, so impressions can rely upon personal observation rather than the written or spoken recounting of others. Because of the within lifetime span, one can look for and indeed find a number of names – activists who move from one cause to another. Successively, they tilt at the same, wicked political ideology in the manner of Don Quixote.

    In general, each new disaster scenario has seemed larger and more urgent. The precautionary principle has become more prominent and in the later examples there are estimates of the cost of doing nothing.

    For debate: It is not the event that becomes larger and more urgent. It is its publicity that does this. I would debate with Prof Ravetz that if the publicity was removed from the case, the normal progress of science would take care of it. There is no need for a new ‘post-normal science’ when there is no hustling.

    A look at the eradication of smallpox helps. At the start, it fitted ‘facts uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high, and decisions urgent’. At the end, science was done well and a terrific result was achieved. The critical ingredient was the hustling being absent. Smallpox was already a problem of global proportions with high mortality and in a theoretical sense had much in common with global warming. Its lack of publicity might be related to the control/exclusion of scientists with politico-social agendas.

    Whereas in my youger career we kept a lid on the activists, in my retirement they seem to have sprung out of the woodwork, as if my recent successors had not been adequately diligent in identifying them and publicising their errors.

    Perhaps this is harsh, because many did try to identify errors, but in hindsight the circled-wagon tactic was hard to penetrate. If you can’t access the raw data, you can’t audit.

    The emergence of the Internet and the blog was not accidental. It was a routine scientific reaction to a non-scientific abuse. The blog concept will prosper because it is logical and in demand. It is not being immodest to state that this thought crossed my mind way back, after my first reading of Climate Audit.

    Thank you, Steve. The standards you set are a big part of future acceptance.

  126. Noelene (20:45:53) :

    “Most scientists have big egos, who dares to question THEM.”

    This as NOT been my experience. To the contrary, the more succesful scientists tend to be the ones who listen to the ideas of others. Ego is irrelevant to most of the good ones. They would blush at the thought.

  127. I am distressed by the comparison of bogus AGW claims to the WMD analyses by the Bush administration.
    The mainstream media uniformly denouces the “failure” to find WMD stockpiles in Iraq, under the meme “Bush Lied, People Died”.
    In fact, at the open analysis presented at the UN prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Sec. of State Colin Powell made the following analyses:

    Iraq has at least 550 chemical agent shells in its posession.
    Iraq has contributed to terrorism at home and abroad by 1. Harboring known terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and 2. paying bounties to the families of suicide bombers.
    Iraq has missles and launchers exceeding a range of 150km
    Iraq has chemical and nuclear agent precursors, which could be used to reconstitute a new WMD program on short notice.

    All of these analyses have been found to be demonstrably true.
    All of these items were a direct violation of the cessation of hostilities agreement signed by Saddam’s government at the end of the 1991 phase of the Iraqi war.
    Combined with the fact that Saddam’s Iraq did indeed use WMD against Iran and its own population, the precautions shown in invading Iraq and eliminating Saddam are utterly different from the AGW claims for an effect never before seen.

  128. Crusty the Clown (20:49:51) :

    Am I the only one here who, when he hears the phrase ‘post-normal science’, thinks of Trofim Denisovich Lysenko? Yikes.

    Unfortunately it makes me think of the Marxist term ‘normalization’ too. Yikes.

  129. Many above have quoted this paragraph from the posted essay. I do so again, because the more I read it, the more reprehensible it seems:

    . . . And what about the issue itself? Are we really experiencing Anthropogenic Carbon-based Global Warming? If the public loses faith in that claim, then the situation of science in our society will be altered for the worse. There is very unlikely to be a crucial experience that either confirms or refutes the claim; the post-normal situation is just too complex. The consensus is likely to depend on how much trust can still be put in science. The whole vast edifice of policy commitments for Carbon reduction, with their many policy prescriptions and quite totalitarian moral exhortations, will be at risk of public rejection. What sort of chaos would then result? The consequences for science in our civilisation would be extraordinary.

    The answer to the question first posed is: No, we are not experiencing “Anthropogenic Carbon-based Global Warming,” and the hypothesis that we are is false. Why then should ‘the public’ or any rational human being maintain “faith in that claim”? And why would “the situation of science in our society” “be altered for the worse”?

    Quite the contrary, if science can cleanse itself of the massive infection of lies and chicanery that has befallen it with the ‘global warming’ fraud, its situation will be just fine. And let us hope and pray that the public can forcibly and wholeheartedly reject that “whole vast edifice of policy commitments for Carbon reduction, with their many policy prescriptions and quite totalitarian moral exhortations.” Never, since the egregious, inane, and completely false proclamations of Soviet Marxism-Leninism about everything under the sun have so many been taken in by so few and to such ill effect. The sooner we can rid ourselves of the totalitarians and charlatans who would have entrapped us in some neo-Ludditic, socialist world state, the better off we will be.

    If I read that paragraph correctly, what this fellow is saying is that even if the hypothesis of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming were false, it would behoove us to carry on and wreck our societies and economies as if it were true. This isn’t just ‘post-normal’; it is post-rational, sheer gibberish. But perhaps we can expect no better from someone who could argue that science should ever depart from its quest for the truth.

    /Mr Lynn

  130. >>Our ‘Himalayan glaciers melting by 2035′ of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is matched by his ‘dodgy dossier’ of Saddam’s fictitious subversions.

    Yes, these two are exactly the same.

    Disappointing to see them equated here and ruined the rest of the post for me.

  131. Warmism is just a late development of Socialism, the very definition of which is the use of the supposed authority of “science” to violate natural individual rights.

    The difference is that, while original socialism first based its authoritarian and violent pseudo-elitism on an allegedly superior “science of organization” which has been discredited in the social sciences, warmism has been trying to abuse the good reputation of the natural sciences.

    The natural sciences owe such reputation to the fact that a natural scientist had generally rather reproduce a phenomenon, than find himself permanent excuses for failure.

    As a consequence, while the politicization of funding –the fact that most researchers now live on money stolen from the taxpayers– does develop a parasitic bureaucracy, it is not expected to produce a definite bias in scientific findings.

    The exception, however, is in the areas where:

    – there are large stakes for a power structure finding a definite kind of results and

    – failure to reproduce phenomena is not readily evident, or was to be expected.

    One of those domains of science is long-term climate forecasting, which started receiving massive subsidies to find “evidence” for a politically pre-determined warmist conclusion during a warming period.

    If it hadn’t been for the fact that mean temperature is actually led by 11-year and 22-year sun cycles, such natural warming which might have gone on for many more years without anyone noticing a discrepancy between the forecasts and the observations.

    Even now that global temperatures have been going down for 11 years, there are still people who deny that it has statistical significance –while a few warmists deny the decline outright.

    The warmist hoax thus relied:

    – on the expected long-term nature of its forecasts –as opposed to the mean-term predictions of commodity shortages made by the Club of Rome, which were ridiculed within the time span of their forecasts (15 to 20 years)

    – and on the fact that most natural scientists have little experience of the corruption of their findings by politics.

    Economists, who have an inborn experience of such politicization and corruption, were never the dupes of the warmist hoax.

    Yet, there are elements of economic illiteracy which tend to make natural scientists the dupes of enviro-fascism:

    – they do not understand that the source of all wealth is the human mind (Julian Simon), and as a consequence, there is no such thing as “natural wealth”.
    That is why they do no understand that the only condition for development to be “sustainable” is that it be free.
    On the contrary, they will regard all claims that economic development is not naturally limited as based on a self-evident fallacy.

    – This comes from the materialistic methodology of the natural sciences, which systematically excludes creation as a kind of causality.
    Yet all wealth is indeed created: as a matter of fact, every time any man comes upon a new idea, it brings something genuinely new to the universe as we can perceive it

    –and the very existence of science is evidence of that.

    In that sense, every economist must be a “creationist” in order to be competent.

  132. John Whitman (17:59:20) wrote, “ [Ravitz] helps … view that reveals philosophy and science as an integrated unity.

    Science and philosophy are categorically distinct, because science is not axiomatic.

    Given the accuracy of the quote posted by Sam (17:14:44), Dr. Ravitz is a postmodern cultural relativist, which view of science is not even wrong. Postmodern relativist thought is fatuous, easy to refute and, most damning of all, auto-negating.

    Anyone wanting an intensely enjoyable read on fatuosities post-modern and other nonsense that passes for thought in the once-noble halls of the Humanistic Academe, you won’t do better than Paul Gross’ and Norman Levitt’s Higher Superstition: The academic left and its quarrels with science.

  133. The Independent, Guardian, Climate Change & Big Oil
    Piers Corbyn, February 2010

    The Man-Made Global Warming / Climate Change (MMGW) proposition fails not because its protagonists have falsified data and relied on fiction or because of the criminal charges of fraud in other spheres recently levelled against the first chair of Parliament’s Committee on Energy & Climate Change.
    It fails because there is no evidence for it – indeed [there is] only evidence against [it] (ie observations show that world temperatures drive CO2 levels [and not the other way round]) and because all its predictions have failed.

    That should be enough to dispose not just of Pachauri but the IPCC as a whole and all its camp followers and all the expensive and deadly policies that go with it.
    The MMGWers have no evidence for their case and so unsurprisingly have refused all calls to produce observational evidence from the last hundreds, thousands or millions of years that CO2 drives temperatures & climate (see eg links to letters to UN via: http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=3307&linkbox=true&position=6 and http://www.copenhagenclimatechallenge.org/ ).

    Physics gives many reasons why MMGW does not work (see eg http://www.weatheraction.com/ home page re WeatherAction conference at Imperial College London Oct 28th 2009).
    However, rather than accept these or report on what does cause extreme weather events and climate change (links above) the Independent & Guardian engage in intellectually and morally bankrupt flag waving. We are told the bogey BIG Oil backs climate sceptics therefore it is implied MMGW must be true.

    Of course this is a nonsense argument but what is the true role of BIG Oil?
    If you look at BP policy on climate change – http://www.bp.com/sectiongenericarticle.do?categoryId=9028012&contentId=7050978 ; you can see it is pretty close to the Guardian and Independent! Indeed the Guardian has organised joint conference(s) with Big Oil on the matter. Interestingly Polly Toynbee on Dateline London BBC Feb 6th said the world needs a fixed high energy price. This of course is what big oil (including the energy interests of Pachauri) want – for the resulting massive increase in profits and asset values. Big Oil are as much a part of the Climate Change scam as the Pope is a catholic.

    And as for funding Climate Realists like me or WeatherAction. No way. In fact over recent years BIG Oil & big insurance companies have specifically stated our long range forecasts are impressive but they did not renew or take up certain use of them because you (WeatherAction) are ‘on the wrong bus’ .
    Let’s be clear, the MMGW con in carbon trading alone is worth hundreds of billions a year. The biggest players – banks, oil companies and governments – are the winners, the world public are the losers and it is a tragedy those newspapers who used to pride themselves on rooting out dodgy dealings are in denial of reality.

    Piers Corbyn is an astrophysicist at WeatherAction.com long range weather & climate forecasters

  134. View from the Solent (15:58:54) :

    I think that The Guardian is trying to conduct a public trial with their current Climategate related postings. They are publishing a sufficient number of ‘news’ pieces so as to get most of the ‘top slots’ on a Google search for Climategate news.

    They are trying to appear to be presenting evidence on both sides to then establish themselves as an authority able to pass judgment and then finally, when they feel the time is right, they will say something akin to:

    After publishing all the known information and having received the comments from interested parties on all sides; the evidence concludes that there has been nothing done wrong; furthermore since the IPCC has established that they are correcting their errors in process there is nothing to be worried about in the future.

    We will now resume our previously scheduled programming.

    Glaciers melting because of CO2.
    Hurricanes increasing because of CO2.
    Flooding imminent because of CO2.
    Deforestation caused by CO2.
    Crop failures imminent because of CO2.
    Drought in Australia caused by CO2.
    Malaria increasing because of CO2.
    Lack of winter snow caused by CO2.
    Hot winters caused by CO2.
    Cold winters caused by CO2.
    Hot summers caused by CO2.
    Cold summers caused by CO2.
    CO2 bad.
    Warming bad.
    Tax is the only solution.
    Tax good, Warming bad.
    Etc.

    Ps. The Guardian removes this type of thing from their comments sections. Go figure.

  135. @ Stephen mosher

    you hit the nail on the head. The philosophy of PNS led directly to ‘scientists’ at East Anglia corrupting peer review, data sources and statistics. Mike Hulme, Sonny to Ravetz’ PNS Cher, works there.

    When you truly believe an issue is so urgent policy-wise that it has to be made before the truth of the matter can be established; when you truly believe that objectivity, falsifiability of hypotheses and replication of outcomes is overrated and can be dropped in favour of citizen juries and determination of whether the method is correct by an elite determining if it is a ‘respectful process’ – you have become a post-normal scientist. You are no longer a scientist.

    Some of the love on this thread for this essay is bewildering. A lot of people expressed approval except for the second last paragraph. But that paragraph about CAGW and implications of public rejection, is entirely consistent with the rest of the essay… If you’re a post normal scientist, you don’t need scientific proof to believe in CAGW. Because you believe it’s urgent, what’s more important than scientific proof is doing what it takes to get people to accept the right policies to this ‘urgent’ issue.

    I marvel at the Orwellian powers of these PNSs. Ravetz has the group that by rights should be most sceptical of his beliefs eating out of his hand. Hulme, by calling for the IPCC to be disbanded, gets sceptic love. But what he wants is something diametrically opposed to sceptical science – the replacement of the IPCC with a new respectful process that can drive policy forward in the absence of scientific proof and objectivity

  136. I was reminded of Lord Acton’s well known aphorism: all power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This certainly applied to the small group at the centre of IPCC climate science; they believed they had the absolute power to shape the world. Acton’s aphorism tellingly continues: “Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority.”

    Another of Acton’s sayings (from 1877) predicted the blogosphere: At all times sincere friends of freedom have been rare, and its triumphs have been due to minorities, that have prevailed by associating themselves with auxiliaries whose objects often differed from their own

  137. As much as I respect Anthony and his work, I find this essay to be nonsense, and very dangerous nonsense. It is as bad as anything in climate science, because it is exactly what Phil Jones et al. have done. This essay is nothing more than a man adapting a situation for his own personal gain. In this case the gain is that people will believe in his ridiculous notion of “post-normal science”.

    For example, Ravetz says:

    As Thomas Kuhn described ‘normal science’, which (as he said) nearly all scientists do all the time, it is puzzle-solving within an unquestioned framework or ‘paradigm’. Issues of uncertainty and quality are not prominent in ‘normal’ scientific training, and so they are less easily conceived and managed by its practitioners.

    Bollocks. The problem with climate science is that the tenets of “normal” science, which are heavily concerned with uncertainty, are being ignored. Issues of uncertainty are to the forefront in normal science. On the other hand, uncertainty has often been ignored by many climate scientists (see the still-unresolved issue of the uncertainty in the Hockeystick).

    The solution is not some “post-normal” science. Ravetz fails to notice that the excesses of Jones et al. are examples of Ravetz’s “post-normal science” at its finest. The solution is the return to “normal” science. It is the false certainty of the AGW proponents which is the problem, not any fancied lack of concern with uncertainty in real science. Real scientists are deeply concerned with uncertainty, and one way that I distinguish real science from bullshit (AKA “post-modern science”) is that a large amount of thought is given to how uncertain the results are.

    Ravetz also said elsewhere:

    …the puzzle-solving approach of ‘normal science’ is obsolete. This is a drastic cultural change for science, which many scientists will find difficult to accept. But there is no turning back; we can understand post-normal science as the extension of democracy appropriate to the conditions of our age.

    and

    For us, quality is a replacement for truth in our methodology. We argue that this is quite enough for doing science, and that truth is a category with symbolic importance, which itself is historically and culturally conditioned.

    I call bullshit on that. Normal science is not “obsolete”, that’s a claim that could (and often has) come directly from Jim Hansen, Michael Mann, Stephen Schneider, or Phil Jones. Quality is not a replacement for truth.

    And in any case, science is not a search for “truth”. Nothing in science can be shown to be “true”. Instead, science is a search for theories which cannot (at present) be falsified. Either something is falsifiable or it is not. And a falsifiable statement is either falsified or it is not. The solution is not to shift from the proven method of scientific falsifiability to some namby-pamby idea of “quality”. Quality??? What is “quality” in a scientific context?

    For me, the problem is that far too many climate scientists believe in the “post-normal” hogwash propounded by Ravetz. This is based on the false claim that post normal science is needed when “facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high and decisions urgent”.

    In any science, when the facts are uncertain and the values are in dispute, those very characteristics mean that we have no idea whether the decision is urgent or not. It is people like Ravetz, claiming that some fancied uncertain problem means that we have to DO SOMETHING NOW NOW NOW so we need some new scientific paradigm, that are the problem.

    The solution is to insist that before we believe some theory, that it make falsifiable predictions.

    The solution is to work to see if something is falsifiable before we put credence in it.

    The solution is to insist that climate scientists be honest about the uncertainties in their work, as real scientists have been taught to do for centuries.

    The solution is not to get rid of the scientific idea that we need evidence to support our decisions. The solution is not to substitute “quality” for falsifiability. The solution is to insist that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”.

    For example, Ravetz says above:

    First, the early opposition to any claim of climate change was only partly scientific; the tactics of the opposing special interests were such as to induce the proponents to adopt a simple, forcefully argued position.

    Again, I call bullshit. This is the “poor me, they’re all against me, that’s why I can’t reveal my data” claim that has been made over and over to justify the excesses of Jones and his ilk. That’s blaming the victim.

    The early “claim[s] of climate change” were not opposed by “special interests” as Ravetz says. Quite the opposite, they were promoted and sustained by special interests. These included the adoption of the climate claims by previously responsible environmental organizations, who took up the cudgel and wielded it strongly against all opponents. Ravetz has the shoe on the wrong foot. The adoption of the “simple, forcefully argued position” started with things like Stephen Schneiders famous statement that sometimes it was necessary to simplify and exaggerate science to achieve a political end. It started with things like Jim Hansen’s overblown claims in 1988 of impending climate disaster. To claim that the proponents were “induced to adopt” this position by “opposing special interests” is absolute nonsense.

    For me, this essay is the most dangerous piece of nonsense that has ever appeared on WUWT … sorry, Anthony, but that’s my view. We don’t need “post-normal science”. Our problem is not the lack of a new scientific paradigm. The problem is that far too many of the scientists involved have been hiding their work, concealing their methods, refusing to show their code, exaggerating the dangers, and flat-out lying about their results. How will “post-normal” science cure that?

    The solution is simple. We need a return to the normal science which has served us admirably for centuries, the normal science regarding which far too many climate scientists seem totally clueless. It’s bozo simple stuff, things I learned in my high school “normal” science class, things like SHOW YOUR WORK and DON’T EXAGGERATE and SHOW THE NEGATIVE AS WELL AS THE POSITIVE RESULTS and BE HONEST ABOUT THE UNCERTAINTIES and DON’T DENY THE OPPOSITION A CHANCE TO SPEAK. That’s what we need, not some New-Age “post-normal” hocus pocus. The problem is not normal science — it is that climate scientists have not been practicing normal science.

  138. “…but climate change had never been a really ‘normal’ science….”

    I contend that there is not yet (and may never be) a Climate Science.

    There is only scientists working (like a bunch of blind people trying to describe an elephant) to develop same.

  139. Alan S (15:44:49) :
    Everyman (15:19:34) :
    “”I am much taken with the fact that in such a learned, if determinedly philosophical, discussion of the scientific lapses involved, there is no mention of the untidy prospect that “money talked” in this instance, that otherwise reputable scientists proved all-too-human in their inability to resist the blandishments of grant money and other sources of lucre in reaching their ever-more-tendentious and strained analyses of the data.””

    “I don’t think this needed to be said outright.”

    “The critique of the corruption was spot on you must agree.”

    This is precisely what needs to be said.

    I have no doubt that Professor Ravetz would agree with the comment, but I can understand that he may not feel free to express it. Sadly, one needs to be as old as I am, or near to it, before one is completely free to express one’s views with complete disregard for how any other may make judgement.

    This whole fiasco is not about science: it is about greed.

  140. Another unbelievable happening (that happened) was when all the major credit rating agencies gave AAA status to total junk thus causing the greatest financial dislocation for the last 80 years.

  141. All very interesting, but I started to smell a rat when I read, “We can understand the root cause of Climategate as a case of scientists constrained to attempt to do normal science in a post-normal situation.”

    Unfortunately, having spent the first 10 years of my career working in medical research, I can undestand it in very familiar terms that don’t require me to invent a whole new philosophy of science. When you need to publish to advance, you take the path of least resistance. Where the data is most tenuous and where the passions are high, it pays to go along to get along.

  142. I think it is disingenuous to compare AGW with Saddam’s Iraq.
    The AGW hypothesis based on man made production of CO2 (Plant Food) ,first proposed in 1938, HAS NEVER HAD ANY EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT IT PERIOD. The complete scandal has been kept afloat by falsification of among other things the observed temperature record….unforgivable dishonesty period.
    In the Saddam Iraq case, the scumbag Saddam along with his scumbag mate Chemical Ali actually used WMD’s (Chemical Weapons) on their own people, and I believe got what they deserved, tipped out and strung up.
    The AGW scammers deserve jail time.

  143. I think that the essay posted here is quite brilliant and should be read by as wide an audience as possible. Send it to your MPs, your Senators, your Newspapers and TV stations.

  144. Willis Eschenbach (23:53:22)

    With you there Willis, b******s and lefty b******s at that. Oxford is a hotbed of this sort of nonsense, Cambridge much the same unfortunately.

  145. The Royal Society, as a major part of the flowering of the tradition, was founded on the basis of scepticism. Its motto “On the word of no one” was a stout affirmation. Now suddenly, following their successful coup, the Greens have changed this motto of centuries to one that manages to be both banal and sinister – “Respect the facts.”

    from via numberwatch http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/religion.htm

    Facts are changable, before the himalayagate it was “FACT”, All scientists should be sceptical, question everything, make sure what you discover is polished so that even the most dense of people can understand. But i have noticed that the “science” of agw relies on higher technical speech. Which a lot of people just dont understand.

    Also have a caveat, its true for the moment until we discover a deeper truth, deeper reality, this will do. Then you add to that the self preservation of the scientists, to go against the orthodoxy, is to be locked up in a tower until you agree with the “FACTS”. (or not get paid, or fired from your job or pushed to conform)

    The scientists of Galileo’s time had the “facts” that the sun went round the earth, but one person questioned, and look at what happened.

  146. How can the writer of such an excellent piece ruin it by “If the public loses faith in that claim, then the situation of science in our society will be altered for the worse.”? It’s like the thirteenth stroke of a clock – casting doubt on every earlier chime!

    You seem to be saying – “the CRU group got the right result by breaching the strictures of normal scientific method and are therefore disbelieved, so the planet isn’t being saved any more – therefore the subject they are studying is not amenable to the normal scientific method – therefore it needs in future to be studied according to post-normal scientific method – so that when that produces the right result it will be believed, and the planet can be saved.” Doesn’t seem to leave much room for the possibility that there may turn out to be nothing in the climate to worry us any more than, say, the problem of hip displasia in overbred spaniels, does it?

    Put another way, before you start promulgating new scientific paradigms, can we at least see what happens when we just stick to the old one?

    Try this:
    “If the public loses faith in that claim, then the situation of the pseudo-science of ‘climate science’ in our society will be altered for the worse. Genuine scientists, in particular genuine meteorologists and genuine climatologists, most of whom have long doubted CO2/AGW, will enjoy a return to credibility commensurate with the extent to which they repudiate ‘climate science’ and its practitioners. “Climate Science”, if it survives at all, will have to be seen for what it always was – a little bit of physics and a huge amount of statistics – and must in future be the province of first-rate statisticians and code writers, not of third-rate migrants from other fields, attracted by the huge rewards to be had from using shoddy science to scare people.”

  147. Willis,
    I agree with much of what you say, and I doubt Jerry Ravetz would argue against science being done properly in the first place either. His point is that when science results is used as the input to policy, we are often dealing with situations where, as he puts it, “we confront hard policy issues for which the scientific inputs are frequently irremediably soft.”

    he goes on to say:
    “We argue that the quality-assurance of scientific inputs into policy processes requires an ‘extended peer community’, including all the stakeholders in an issue. This new peer community can also deploy ‘extended facts’, including local and personal experience, as well as investigative journalism and leaked sources. So Post-Normal Science is inevitably political, and involves a new extension of legitimacy and power”.

    I think what he is getting at, is that this is the way things are, and we need to extend the checks and balances to deal with the way the outputs of science are abused.

    Post-Normal Science isn’t a prescription for the way Ravetz thinks science should be done, it’s a description of what is done with the outputs of normal science (good or bad), and how we should handle those situations where it’s results are used in policy formation.

    The issue here is that politicians and lobbyists present scientific results as if they were the definitive last word, even when their inputs are “irremediably soft”. Ravetz is calling for the right of those from beyond the disciplines and specialisms to bring their ‘extended facts’ and leaked documents to the policy making table and be heard. It seems to me that this much at least is a positive step.

    Given that the policy making table these days is often swayed by the media and the court of manufactured public opinion, it’s a battle we in the sceptical part of the blogsphere have little choice but to engage in, no matter how distasteful this is to the honest practitioners of normal science. Keep on supplying us with good normal science and analysis, and let your friends in the blogsphere get on with helping to make it as widely heard as possible via ‘post normal’ methods if need be. If influential thinkers like Jerry Ravetz champion our right to be heard, so much the better. Better on our side than theirs.

  148. This is an etheriel, philosophical discussion and as such is perceptive and yet imprecise. It is not a news report about the corrupted science behind the IPCC and the policy of governments wolrwide or the corrupted scientists behind the money men. Philosophical pieces such as this are the beginning of a more ‘robust’ discussion which, if it occurs, can lead to a ‘tipping point’ in the application and dissemination of all science.

    Still, its an interesting piece

  149. Onion (23:30:28) : “Some of the love on this thread for this essay is bewildering”.

    Exactly the point of my first post but you put it more succinctly than me.
    I had to go away and investigate the PMS.
    It would seem many took the article at face value without research (as I initially did).

    davidmhoffer took issue with me over my not understanding /misinterpreting the content but it was ScientistForTruth (16:33:26) : (thanks for the link once again) who deserves my H/T.

    I am sorry Tallboy and Anthony, but as interesting as this post has been. I get the feeling this article is below what I have come to expect on this site. Just my opinion but this article still makes me uneasy, even after 3 reads. We do not need PHS.

    REAL science has served us well for many years. I would counter the Professor that his PHS has allowed the likes of Hulme etc to prosper and wiser people than me have explained that a long time ago!

  150. Pat Frank (22:56:08) : in response to comment by “John Whitman (17:59:20)wrote, ””””Science and philosophy are categorically distinct, because science is not axiomatic. ””””

    Pat, do you think science is categorically distinct from epistemology (fundamentals of nature of knowlegde, how do you know reality?) and distinct from metaphysics (fundamentally what is reality?), really?

    John

  151. Viva the last bastion of free thought and exchange of ideas. The internet, defend it at all costs. It is the only hope in a sea of disgrace. WAYNE

  152. Willis

    Many years ago when I was a research scientist I read a paper about jargon and its uses. Prof Javetz lives in a world whose existence depends wholly on jargon. Philosophy by its very nature is bullshit wrapped in jargon but if you unwrap the package and rumage through the bullshit you will invariably find a nugget or two of useful thinking.

  153. A fascinating debate and many thanks to all the contributors. I award Willis the best summing up, though he had the advantage of much excellent input.

    Although Ravetz is wrong, at least his exposition exposes the major issues to debate.

    My view:

    Publicly funded science must come out from behind the pay-walls, pal-review walls and personal and institutional fiefdoms.

    The MSM is dead as a leading intelligent contributor to knowledge and analysis. Generalist journalists cannot compete with specialist bloggers except as entertainers.

    Science generally will wear the impact of public disillusionment with AGW. The learned societies that fell over themselves to join “The Consensus” have ensured that outcome.

  154. Here is an analysis grounded in reality to clear away the displeasure left by Mr Kavetz’ relativistic meanderings above:

    Let’s pick apart this politics of doom

    Ben Pile, Spiked Online, 9 February 2010

    ‘Climategate’ confirms what many of us already knew: that claims of future catastrophe are political, not scientific.

    A sixth of the world’s population – the billion or so people who live downstream of Himalayan glaciers and depend on them for water – must surely be relieved. Just a few months ago, ‘consensus science’ held that these vast tracts of ice would be gone in just a few decades. The implications were stark. Water wars and climate refugees would spread out from the region, consuming society in Gaia’s revenge. If the direct effects of climate change didn’t kill you, the social chaos they unleashed would.

    Now that the death of the Himalayan glaciers has been deferred by some three centuries, we can take a sober look at the situation facing people living in the region. The truth is that they have more years ahead of them to find alternatives to relying on Himalayan meltwater than have passed since the Industrial Revolution began to transform our own landscape. That should be plenty of time.

    For the furore around ‘Glaciergate’, we didn’t actually need to know that Himalayan glacial retreat was exaggerated to know that the disaster story it seemingly produced was pseudo-scientific bunk. The plots of such disaster stories are written well before any evidence of looming doom emerges from ‘science’. What really underpins the climate change panic is the way in which politicians have justified their own impotence by appealing to catastophe.

    This helps to explain the reaction of the political establishment to the various scandals that have beset the IPCC and leading climate scientists in recent weeks. In response to the allegations levelled at individuals and institutions in the climate establishment, the UK climate change secretary, Ed Miliband, has declared war on climate sceptics on both Channel 4 News and in the Observer. But the ironic consequence of Miliband’s intervention has been to acknowledge that disagreement exists. Miliband now recognises an enemy that only a few months ago consisted of a tiny number of ‘flat-earthers’, according to his boss, Gordon Brown. Given that sceptics are not usually engaged, just ignored, a declaration of war is a sure sign that he is on the defensive.

    Ed Miliband on Channel 4 News

    Miliband says,

    ‘I think the science and the precautionary principle, which says that there’s at the very least a huge risk if we don’t act, mean that we should be acting’.

    This use of the precautionary principle puts the position of climate alarmists back by a decade. The argument for action on climate change once depended on just the possibility that changes in climate could cause devastating problems for humans. Scientists had not yet produced a consensus. The political stalemate seemingly ended after the infamous ‘Hockey Stick’ graph was published in the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report (TAR) in 2001. It was held to be, at last, the conclusive evidence that man indeed had altered the climate. Here was the fingerprint on the ‘smoking gun’ that pointed towards our imminent demise.

    By retreating to the precautionary principle rather than simply defending the notion of scientific consensus, Miliband concedes a lot. The scientific consensus around climate change has stood as a powerful source of political authority in lieu of democratic legitimacy. In the light of events and arguments which undermine this authority, Miliband is fighting for his government’s credibility, not to save the planet.

    He protests that, in spite of the new climate scandals, the ‘overwhelming majority’ of scientists nonetheless still hold with the idea that mankind has altered the climate. The recent revelations are just dents, caused by procedural oversight, in an otherwise robust case, he seems to say. But actually, this does not really get to the heart of the discussion about climate. A scientific consensus about the climate’s sensitivity to greenhouse gas emissions is not equivalent to a scientific consensus about human society’s sensitivity to climate. There is a huge difference between these two ideas, yet Miliband’s argument rests on the idea that they are equivalent [it is the core of the sleight-of-hand] . And it is on this point that sceptics have not yet made much progress. While banging away at the science of climate change, they have failed to tackle the wider argument about our capacity to deal with the unexpected. What sceptics need to explain is how climate and society have become so confused. [that was a classic diversionary strategy]

    This confusion has other ramifications, for example in the familiar claim that Miliband makes, that ‘climate change will be worse for the poor’. This in turn depends on the reinvention of ‘social justice’ as ‘environmental justice’, as if inequality is a natural phenomenon as inevitable as wind or rain.

    But poverty is not a natural phenomenon [it is, like warmism, a consequence of socialism] . It is a tragic conceit to believe that by not driving our cars we will somehow make life better for those who cannot even dream of owning a car – much less having a road to drive it on. The problem is that people are poor, not that their climate is slightly different. We can see this fact demonstrated in the horrific scale of devastation in Haiti. An event of similar magnitude in a more economically developed country would not have claimed so many lives. It is not enough to say that carbon emissions cost lives, or anything like it, because the principal factors that determine the outcome of natural phenomena relate to an area’s level of development. [quite. And future generations might be richer if socialism doesn't prevent hem]]

    However, as Miliband’s words reveal, world leaders have given up on the idea of development as the means through which people can enjoy better protected and more rewarding lives. This can only have the consequence of producing and sustaining poverty, making greater numbers of people vulnerable to nature’s indifferent whims. The way in which the political class has surrendered to climate panic is a comprehensive admission of our leaders’ own impotence. Only if we take their inability to produce domestic or international development for granted can we conceive of changes in weather patterns as inevitably catastrophic.

    For example, over the next three centuries, the people living beneath Himalayan glaciers might construct dams to collect the rain or snow that falls there, but which does not remain as ice. It is not inconceivable that Asians might also provide a greater proportion of their water needs through desalination plants. The world has been reorganised around the tenets of environmentalism precisely because the notion of using development to provide protection from natural disaster is now deemed to be impossible.

    World leaders have projected their catastrophic sense of impotence on to the world. Just to make sure that politics cannot intervene, they have brought forward the date of the ecopalypse, to render any alternative and any debate impossible. It can’t happen soon enough for them. A failure of imagination has been passed off as the conclusion of ‘climate science’ and as the opinion of ‘the overwhelming majority of scientists’, but as we can see, the premise of impotence and catastrophe is a presupposition that is political in its character and not a conclusion produced by science.

    In turn, if the notion of catastrophic climate change is reduced to a mere article of (bad) faith, the institutions of climate politics – all of which have been constructed on the premise of catastrophe/impotence – cease to have a legitimate basis. The IPCC, the Stern Review, the Kyoto treaty, Copenhagen, the Climate Change Committee and the legislation and reorganisation of public life that have followed in their wake have not been created to save the planet from climate catastrophe, but to save politicians from the collapse of their own authority. That is what Miliband’s war is about.

    The scandal is not really in the fraud, exaggeration, or deceit – if that is what they were – committed by particular researchers, or the failure of the IPCC process to identify that certain claims were false. The scandal is that politicians seek moral authority in crisis. It was not ‘science’ that produced stories of imminent catastrophe; it was the bleak doom-laden politics of this era. Scientists merely extrapolated from this scenario, into the future, taking the logic of the political premises to their conclusion [with fat cheques for their services]. The politics exists prior to the science. In reply, sceptics, with a more positive vision, ought to demonstrate the gap that exists between the science and the story, and how it might end differently if we start from more positive ground.

    If Miliband wants a war, he can have one. But the battle lines should recognise that the politics of catastrophe is prior to the science of catastophe, and that another outlook that emphasises our ability to control events is possible. Environmental problems will always occur, but it is how they are understood that counts. We cannot understand ‘what science says’ until we understand what it has been told, and what it has really been asked. Science has been put to use to turn the billion people living beneath Himalayan glaciers into political capital by the IPCC to prop up the likes of Ed Miliband. It is only now that he has been deprived of the authority that those billion lives – or deaths – gave him, that he wants a war.

    Today’s politicians need catastrophes because they have no other way of creating authority for themselves. But the catastrophe is in politics, not in the atmosphere.

    Ben Pile is an editor of the Climate-Resistance blog, and a philosophy and politics student at York University.

  155. I just read Willis Eschenbach’s response above. If anyone reading this hasn’t already seen it, go there at once. It’s complete and concise and neatly skewers Ravetz’ beguiling tosh.

  156. Professor Ravetz’s comment about Mauna Loa reminded me of a number of questions I had about our understanding of C02. I’ve struggled to answer these for myself and I wonder whether any of the contributors to WUWT can help.

    [1] Is recent C02 rise part of a trend due to human emissions or is it simply the upturn of a natural cycle?
    [2] What range can we predict for C02 levels over the next century?
    [3] I understand that the logarithm law for forcing due to C02 is expected to fail above 1000 ppm. Do we know how it works above this level?
    [4] Sensitivity estimates I’ve seen from Shaviv, Knox/Christie and Schwartz are in the region of 1 C for a doubling of C02. Does this accurately reflect the influence at the surface, or is it less than this due to (for example) convection/evaporation?

    I can see that uncertainty is part of the problem, so if the answer is “no one knows”, that’s fine as well :-). Thanks in advance, and keep up the good work.

  157. Chris Field is one of the Stanford University Global-Warming-Alarm! team headed by Stephen Schneider, a lead IPCC author who says:

    http://www.solopassion.com/node/5841

    “On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the
    scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole
    truth, and nothing but – which means that we must include all the
    doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we
    are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people
    we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context
    translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially
    disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broadbased support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting
    loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make
    simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts
    we might have. This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves
    in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the
    right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that
    means being both.”

    We are in danger of accepting that black is white and up is down. Climatologists need to provide evidence of their case and not to believe that the strength of their cause is superior to the need to prove their science.

    Tonyb

  158. Willis has crystallised the feelings I had when I posted my initial response above:

    “Stephen Wilde (15:33:40) :

    Normal science = generally good science.

    Post normal science = generally bad science.

    Keep it simple, stupid.”

    Ravetz is a primary culprit having facilitated and contributed to what has happened by creating a narrowly intellectual and wholly disreputable concept of post normal science which deliberately sought to weaken scientific rigour so that science could be neutered and used as a tool of authoritarian social policy.

    His above article seems to accept that it has all gone wrong in connection with climate change but it is well established in politics and the media. He does not see that his concept of post normal science was and is the problem.

    Like many others of his mindset he just thinks that post normal science was not implemented ‘properly’ by which he means that mistakes were made in ‘presentation’.

    He fails to see that the entire concept was flawed and deeply dangerous from the very beginning.

    Indeed post normal science is just a another phrase meaning non science and is fatally flawed except for it’s real purposes of social manipulation and social engineering.

  159. Alan Wilkinson (01:23:32) :

    Although Ravetz is wrong, at least his exposition exposes the major issues to debate.

    Something philosophers like to be good at is getting a good debate going, rather than bashing people over the head with a one sided or limited POV.

    Some see that as relativistic tosh (Thanks Roy!), others see the value in widening the scope of the discussion.

  160. “Climategate is particularly significant because it cannot be blamed on the well-known malign influences from outside science, be they greedy corporations or an unscrupulous State.”

    Except it can. It can be blamed on an unscrupulous state, and the employees that work for it.

  161. I agree with Stephen Richards – Willis’s criticisms are valid, but I found several nuggets in the piece that were perceptive and useful. He recognises the faults of the process quite well – that he wraps that analysis in jargon and his own self-serving framework is just the way he does it.

    “Detailed technical work is a task for experts, but quality-control on even that work can be done by those with much broader expertise.” – retired mining analyst takes on paleoclimate experts.

    The ‘how did this happen’ aspect of the AGW/CRU/IPCC/denier/”thescienceisin” bandwagon has continued to puzzle me. You can say, simplistically, follow the money. You can say environmentalism in a secular society replaces religion to satisfy peoples’ needs for a moral compass. You can blame big business, Goldman Sachs and carbon trading. You can blame desire for fame and career. None of these satisfy me, and I enjoyed, and was interested in, Ravetz’s piece, however unnecessarily orotund!

    Willis – what is your answer to how/why decent men like Jones/Wigley et al fell from grace, and became in your terms non-scientists, uncertainty deniers?

  162. Mark N (19:10:16) :

    Thank you, an interesting read. I wonder if “climate science” is just a product of our time and will eventually be left to the side like so many others in the long history of scientific work.

    I often wonder if the bigger picture might be the benefit of a warming climate and increasing CO2 to life.

    >>>

    Second that motion…

  163. I found this an interesting, if not a little wordy, post. While some parts are good, I feel that more could have been made of the politicisation of science and the constant pressure for individuals working on projects to deliver the answers their paymasters want to hear.

    The other puzzle I found hard to understand from the context of the piece was that the author seems to be caught in the ‘fear’ trap too. He is an obviously believer in CO2 caused CAGW…

    “Are we really experiencing Anthropogenic Carbon-based Global Warming? If the public loses faith in that claim, then the situation of science in our society will be altered for the worse.”

    …But the logic of what he says breaks down.

    His belief system looks to be that bad science, as promulgated by CRU/GISS/NASA/IPCC, gives a correct result, when the facts show that the hypothesis of CAGW is fatally flawed.

    Double think is the new post-normal philosophy perhaps? It certainly isn’t analytical reasoning.

  164. As i read the replies to the article, i get a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach.

    If it was made as talking point to get us all discussing it, then its great. BUT, if it is a article to promote that while theres no evidence, no empirical data, no proof, that means we should keep doing things that are Bad for society because it would make other scientists tarred with the same brush.

    But this negates the Science. Science should question, Post normal science, doesnt question, it feels, all this climate science rubbish appeals to the emotions of people, rather than the intelligence. And thats all this article does it appeals to the emotions, rather than the Truth, the empirical evidence.

    As other commentors have said go back to the original science, where people could question, without being labelled denialists. Science should be about Questions. Why? this Why? that.. Philosophy, is more about emotions not empricial facts, philosophy never provides answers just ways of viewing.

    I worry that, Post normal science is what we have now, with the advocacy of power groups, rich groups, looking to expand their holdings, and damn the expense of everything else.

    At first the article appeals to the emotions, but as you read it, there are questions that need to be answered, Why is proper science discounted (empirical facts)? Because its not post normal?

    As a discussion point, its worked, but if its been created for any other reason, then thats the time to worry. (my last post was written when i just woke up and had no coffee LOL).

  165. @ Tallbloke

    Firstly thanks for getting this guest post on here. Although I profoundly disagree with Ravetz, this post should stimulate decent debate (and it has done)

    You write

    “Post-Normal Science isn’t a prescription for the way Ravetz thinks science should be done, it’s a description of what is done with the outputs of normal science (good or bad), and how we should handle those situations where it’s results are used in policy formation.”

    I’m afraid Ravetz and Hulme have a much bigger role for post-normal science in mind than you believe they have. Ravetz writes:

    “But climate change had never been a really ‘normal’ science, because the policy implications were always present and strong, even overwhelming.”

    That statement alone contradicts your inference as to the scope of PNS. His statement is also flat out wrong

    The qualifying criteria for climate studies to fit into the domain of post-normal science, according to Ravetz, is:

    “Indeed, if we look at the definition of ‘post-normal science’, we see how well it [climate studies/ CAGW] fits: facts uncertain,values in dispute, stakes high, and decisions urgent. ”

    Let’s deconstruct these qualifying criteria:

    “Facts uncertain” – is this the preserve of PNS? NO!!! It is in fact the very basis of scientific enquiry
    “Values in dispute” – what does this actually mean? Science is based on observations which are value-free. We may debate how far for example genetic engineering or human cloning should go, which does involve weighing up different values, but that is the domain of ethics, not science and certainly not post-normal science. The core from which all scientific knowledge is generated – observations – is value-free
    “Stakes high and decisions urgent” – there is a severe logical fallacy in operation here. If facts are uncertain, then how do you know the stakes are high? How do you know decisions are urgent?

    The whole purpose of the PNS movement is to bypass the rigours of the scientific process on the basis that because the situation is so dire and urgent, we don’t have the time for such luxuries. This is complete alarmist balls. During the darkest hours of WWII, scientists conducted real science (like developing the nuclear bomb, breaking codes, rocket technology). This was conducted under the most extreme emergency conditions – they did not abandon due scientific process in favour of citizen juries and trying to figure out what constituted a ‘respectful process’. Even if we were to confront a dire emergency today (massive volcanic eruption, massive asteroid) we would rely on science to solve the problem, not post-normal science.

    I find Ravetz’ and Hulme’s philosophy utterly poisonous. Not only do they have a philosophy, they have a process which constitutes post-normal science. When you read what that process entails, you realise it jettisons real science completely

  166. Re: Willis Eschenbach (Feb 9 23:53),

    Willis, I think I agree with you in the details too, though I only stated my objection to the conclusions above. Too much fuzzy logic all through. Possibly uncertainty and ignorance have different meanings for scientists and philosopher’s of science.

  167. Thank you, Professor Ravetz, for an insightful essay, with which I largely agree – though I do share some of the views expressed in the comments. Kuhn’s analysis of science might provide a useful description of how science actually is conducted, but I would wish to add at least a genuflection to Paul Feyerabend who drew attention to the point that scientists will lie, cheat, elbow, eye-gouge, etc -and who warned against any notion of government-sponsored science. (We might add ‘intergovernmental-sponsored science’ to that). But I think we need to be Popperians (or something approaching that) when we wish to speak prescriptively about how we should assess the quality of science. The courts have had to grapple with this issue, and had to develop standards such as Daubert, Kuhmo Tire, etc against which to judge science. The political process needs something similar, and probably needs to institutionalise scepticism (perhaps David Henderson’s idea of a ‘B-Team’) if it is to institutionalise any area of science. Let’s face it, we can now expect Climategate to be taught alongside Lysenkoism in the future.

    What I think is absent for the analysis, however, is the role of information technology is bringing about Climategate. I discussed this in my book, Science and Public Policy: The Virtuous Corruption of Virtual Environmental Science.’ The internet and blogosphere has worked to expose the flaw, but it also made the whole thing possible.

    At a time when knowledge has become more and more specialised, the internet has allowed a handful of scholars in any area to contact each other, collaborate, publish together and ultimately circle the wagons to defend their perspective. To change the metaphor, they were then able to sue the net to send the white corpuscles to the site of any ‘infection’ that might challenge what had become a ‘club good.’ The ‘virtual’ nature of the process has to do not just with the excessive reliance on modelling, but the means of interaction. The IPCC has exacerbated this phenomenon by bringing these scientists together, putting them in touch with each other.

    This has also undermined the traditional quality assurance process of peer review. Paper are now circulated in advance, so anonymity is absent. Many of the journals do not even exercise double blind processes, so the Climategate scientists were able to accept invitations to review knowing they were being invited to review papers from dissidents – and then ensure they were rejected, and kept out of IPCC reports that they themselves edited.

    And while I don’t discount the corrupting influence of the provision of research funds, much of the corrupting influence has been the nobility of the cause — ‘virtuous corruption’ — which (as noble cause corruption in policing circles) is just as unjust and pernicious. They mean well. It’s ‘all in a good cause’. The public and the politicians need to be persuaded to act as ‘we know they should.’

    But this, ultimately, is a grab for technocratic power. As C.P. Snow put it, scientists should be on tap, not on top. Climategate and the blogosphere has given democracy a fighting chance.

    Now, if we could only find out what the reliable science tells us about the problem…. But , unfortunately, we no longer know. But we do know for certain, the problem is one of making policy under conditions of uncertainty.

  168. I suspect there is a lot of sloppy science out there, and sloppy science has certainly contributed to this mess!

    Many years ago, I remember being amazed when I learned that a Monte Carlo simulation used in a large and expensive project, would sometimes “Abend” – implying a catastrophic programming error. I was told that this was OK, if this happened the program was just run again (with different random numbers)! Everyone had more important things to do than get to the bottom of what was causing the problem.

    People who like to work like that seem to have found a perfect niche in climate science!

  169. Pete (01:17:04) :

    “REAL science has served us well for many years. I would counter the Professor that his PHS has allowed the likes of Hulme etc to prosper and wiser people than me have explained that a long time ago”

    I, too, was initially beguiled by Revetz’s essay – I tried to set aside my own very strong doubts about the merits of “post-normal science”. But his mention of Hulme in such a positive light – and more importantly his apparent concern that Climategate and its aftermath will cause the public to “reject the claim” – suggested to me that while milder in tone than, say, the Guardian’s latest effort, I felt as though we were being co-opted to “the cause”.

    Hulme’s “We need to ask not what we can do for climate change, but to ask what climate change can do for us” along with such turns of phrase as”

    “climate change is so plastic it can be deployed across many of our human projects and can serve many of our psychological, ethical and spiritual needs”

    Not to mention his “These myths transcend the categories of true and false” …
    leads me to conclude that one must despair for the future of our planet and its inhabitants! And we must act…. NOW!

  170. tallbloke (01:10:36), thanks for your comments. You say:

    Willis,
    I agree with much of what you say, and I doubt Jerry Ravetz would argue against science being done properly in the first place either. His point is that when science results is used as the input to policy, we are often dealing with situations where, as he puts it, “we confront hard policy issues for which the scientific inputs are frequently irremediably soft.”

    Say what? Unless I am misreading him badly (always possible), Ravetz is definitely arguing against proper science:

    …the puzzle-solving approach of ‘normal science’ is obsolete. This is a drastic cultural change for science, which many scientists will find difficult to accept. But there is no turning back; we can understand post-normal science as the extension of democracy appropriate to the conditions of our age.

    To me, saying that the “approach of ‘normal science’ is obsolete” is arguing strongly “against science being done properly in the first place”. What am I missing here?

    You also say:

    I think what he is getting at, is that this is the way things are, and we need to extend the checks and balances to deal with the way the outputs of science are abused.

    The problem is not that the outputs of science are abused. It is that the scientific process is not being followed, so that there are no valid “outputs of science” to be abused. For example, the issue is not how the Hockeystick was used. The issue is that the Hockeystick was a fraud and a hoax.

    Yes, true scientific findings can be abused … but that’s not the current problem with climate science. The current problem is that science itself is being abused because the basic tenets of science are not being followed. And regarding that, Mr. Ravetz says not one word. If that conveniently selective blindness is “post-normal” science, he is welcome to it.

    The solution to that problem is not to go haring off after some new tenets of science. It is to return to adhering to the tenets which have served us so well for so long.

    I’m sorry, but to me Jerry Ravetz is a craven apologist who is trying to divert attention from the real issue. Do you note that in his entire essay he says nothing about the hiding of data? Did you see that he doesn’t mention the corruption of the peer review process? Did you observe that he said nothing about Jones refusing to give out his data because Warwick would “try to find fault with it”? Did you get that he mentions nothing about Jones and the others conspiring to destroy evidence? Did you notice that he is totally silent about Jones fraudulently evading my FOI request?

    Instead, Ravetz says:

    The personal commitments to integrity, that are necessary for the maintenance of scientific quality, receive no mention in the dominant philosophy of science.

    That’s a pile of crap. The problem is not that integrity receives “no mention in the dominant philosophy of science” as Ravetz claims. The problem is that the individual climate scientists involved lack integrity. And Ravetz doesn’t mention Jones et al.’s lack of integrity, not even once.

    Instead he blathers on about how the problem is with “the dominant philosophy of science”. I don’t buy that, not for one second. Ravetz doesn’t have enough personal integrity to take a stand against so-called “scientists” who lie, cheat, and steal … and he wants to lecture us on integrity? And you buy that idea, that Jones’ lack of integrity is not worth mentioning, and that the problem is that the “dominant philosophy of science” lacks integrity? Really?

    I’m sorry, tallbloke, but to me Ravetz is a single-issue fanatic who is trying to twist the conniving cupidity of some scientists to fit his strait jacket powder-puff philosophy. I am surprised that Anthony published this rubbish, and I’m surprised that you and others buy into it.

  171. Thank you Willis Eschenbach (23:53:22) : and others.

    The Professor writes..
    “And what about the issue itself? Are we really experiencing Anthropogenic Carbon-based Global Warming? ”
    A good question but the next sentence shows the Professors view very clearly…

    “If the public loses faith in that claim, then the situation of science in our society will be altered for the worse.”
    I think the man is schizophrenic, he writes an essay on the many problems and assumptions of AGW science, expressing that the uncertainties are far greater then presented, and then says it would be tragic if people actually doubted the need to restructure the world over AGW.

    “There is very unlikely to be a crucial experience that either confirms or refutes the claim;”
    Ok, the author is now back to doubting the science, and he muddies the water with non scientific words like “experience” instead of “experiment” If we get back to observations and testing we may be able to prove or disproof the CAGW theory. Lindzen and others are working in this direction.

    “the post normal situation is too complex”
    what the he-double hockey stick is this?. Yes, climate may very well be a chaotic process, very hard to predict, currently the unknowns out weigh the known’s. This is quite normal in “science”.

    “The consensus is likely to depend on how much trust can still be put in science.” Fortunately it now appears that the consensus will depend on how open the science becomes, and then what that open science reveals.

    “The whole vast edifice of policy commitments for Carbon reduction, with their many policy prescriptions and quite totalitarian moral exhortations, will be at risk of public rejection.”
    Sir, please change “moral exhortations” to immoral extortions”, and add fortunately after “will” and I will agree with this.

    I am very grateful he is calling for open dialogue, and his concerns will probably reach many people I have difficulty communicating with. Other then that the man’s intellect may well be superior to mine, but this may allow him to assimilate nonsense at a more eloquent rate.

    “What sort of chaos would then result?”
    A curious phrase in an article describing a system that may well be chaotic in nature.

    “The consequences for science in our civilization would be extraordinary.”
    I vote for a return to normal science.

  172. Willis (23:53:22),

    An excellent summation, but will you please stop trying to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

    The entire essay documents at great length that ‘climate science’ as practised by the IPCC, CRU, GISS etc is not science at all, but this other discipline called ‘post-normal science’.

    Why would you not agree with this?

    Game Over.

  173. A most interesting essay – thank you, Dr Ravetz. And an even more interesting thread of comments – thank you all.

    My take, for what it’s worth, is that “post-normal science” as practiced by Jones, Mann et al. isn’t really science, and that science can be just fine again once it has been divorced from the “post-normal politics” we suffer today.

  174. I think the argument will shift now in any case, away from “Climate Change” and towards “Energy Security”. Of course this was the motivation, at least the behind the scenes political motivation, for going along with AGW in the first place. The policy framework will remain exactly the same.

  175. A wonderfully concise and illuminating essay – thank you.

    Someone ought to make David Cameron read this before he goes much further. His blind adherence to the AGW agenda is alienating thousands and is likely to result in a hung parliament – and economic chaos – in the UK.

  176. “The whole vast edifice of policy commitments for Carbon reduction, with their many policy prescriptions and quite totalitarian moral exhortations, will be at risk of public rejection.”

    Good. I hope I live long enough to hear Al Gore recant.

    Great essay, BTW.

  177. Willis Eschenbach wrote,

    “I don’t buy that, not for one second. Ravetz doesn’t have enough personal integrity to take a stand against so-called “scientists” who lie, cheat, and steal … and he wants to lecture us on integrity?”

    Maybe Ravetz is more analogous to a criminologist – interested in the sociology and motivation for crime, but not really focused on condemning it as such.

    I mean one can (and should) condemn the likes of Jones, but that isn’t the end of the story – the structure of modern science seems to let this sort of thing happen. It is the structure that needs reforming, and politicians need to take into account the fact that if they press for answer A, they will probably get it, whether it is correct or not!

  178. As a retired scientist, I could relate to the main points of the essay. Very worthwhile post.

    I think “peer review” via blogosphere makes good sense — a lot of smart people out there. Obviously, has some “growing pains” ahead. Nontheless, life experience, intelligence, education, and objectivity can make great “peers” out of non-PhDs (in a given field). Almost by definition, such people “think outside the box” — because the were never in it to begin with.

  179. To be blunt: I’m very much surprised this essay was published here. I’m all for thoughtful discourse, in all areas of life, but even a cursory examination of this “Post-Normal Science” notion proves it to be born out of Marxist leanings. The following link exposes as much with clarity:

    http://buythetruth.wordpress.com/2009/10/31/climate-change-and-the-death-of-science/

    ‘PNS’ seems to be an attempt to put science, historicism, and deconstructionism into a blender in order to create a new paste with which our textbooks are to be bound. Only problem is that it doesn’t stick. Though, I suppose that is the desired effect. “Science means whatever we say it does!” No thanks. I’ll stick to my stodgy old empirical ways.

  180. WIllis has nailed it again. “I am surprised that Anthony published this rubbish”, is very much my reaction too.

  181. Very interesting to see what is effectively an acknowledgement by a respected member of the establishment (previously climate alarmist) that the whole alarmist facade has fallen (he says in 2 months which ignores the extensive eforts of sceptics for years before, proving the Hockey Stick & many other things deliberate lies – the climategate emails were simply the tipping point after which it became impossible to maintain.

    As interesting is the acknowledgement that the blogsphere has changed everything & that attempts by the MSM to censor are now relatively ineffective.

    This means that several other fraudulent “scintific consensuses” maintained by the political establishment cann now get a proper examination.

    I am thinking in particular of the no lower threshold theory (LNT) of nuclear radiation. By ramping up anti-nuclear hysteria this has been used to hold back 4 decades of progress, In fact not only iss there no evidence whatsoever that low level radiation is harmful there is a vast amount, from numerous different sources for the hormesis theory that it is beneficial.

    Or perhaps there is some government paid scientist somewhere in the world who is willing to say why the enormously destructive LNT theory is correct?

    We shall see over the next couple of days.

  182. “The function of climate change I suggest, is not as a lower-case environmental phenomenon to be solved…It really is NOT about stopping climate chaos.

    “Instead, we need to see how we can use the idea of climate change – the matrix of ecological functions, power relationships, cultural discourses and materials flows that climate change reveals – to rethink how we take forward our political, social, economic and personal projects over the decades to come.”

    So has said Mike Hulme, Professor of Climate Change UEA CRU, justifying the use of non-scientific “post-normal science” to pursue purely social and political agendas.

    It may be noted that he is not, as I’m sure many casual observers might assume of such a prominent expert, Professor of Climate SCIENCE. No, he is prof. of Climate CHANGE. An example of the rise of post normal science.

    I am in complete agreement with the comments posted above by ScientistforTruth (16:33:26) and Willis Eschenbach (23:53:22)

    ScientistforTruth has written an eloquent history, and thorough analysis of the purely political, non-scientific ideals of the “post-normal science” of Ravetz et al here:

    http://buythetruth.wordpress.com/2009/10/31/climate-change-and-the-death-of-science/

    Also quoting extensively Prof Hulme justifying at length the mainstream use of non-science to pursue social and political agendas.

    Anyone persuaded that post-normal non-science, leant scientific credibility by pseudo scientific quality assurance (a good example of which is the title “Professor of Climate CHANGE”) and expertly packaged to be sold on to the man on the street as real, credible science, please take the time to read this most illuminating and well documented article.

  183. There need to be many books written on what the hell happened here that allowed such deception to go so far. Surely sizable parts of our government, the science community and the mainstream media can’t all be this cowardly and unprincipled? Can they?

    Everyone’s a hero, as long as it’s not high noon.

  184. For the benefit of readers, I reproduce a response I made to ‘tallbloke’ last November – see whole post and all comments here:

    http://buythetruth.wordpress.com/2009/10/31/climate-change-and-the-death-of-science/

    “I don’t doubt that Ravetz is very perceptive and makes some interesting observations. Unfortunately, there is the ‘poison in the pot’. Ravetz will forever be remembered for his championing a new type of science, post-normal science. You will see from my post just where this leads: you have Mike Hulme explicitly espousing and adopting the ideas of Ravetz and turning ‘climate change’ into metaphysics and politics. Ravetz never masked the fact that his scientific method was political – having been a radical leftie, he drew heavily on neo-Marxism to formulate his PNS theory. And in his 2006 paper ‘Post-Normal Science in the context of transitions towards sustainability’ which I mentioned in the post, he explicitly states that “PNS has always had strong political aspect…Given its deep political commitments, PNS should have been making a contribution to this process, offering its insights about the way science will need to be done in the cause of justice and sustainability.” Of course, in the mouth of Ravetz, nice sounding words like “justice and sustainability” are really Marxist goals. “…even now there is no clear focus on science among the new movements for social reform. Those of us who are involved in PNS can help to shape a new ‘science of, by and for the people’ when the time is ripe.” First of all, ‘normal’ science must be destroyed, then a new science can be introduced which serves the political agenda of the Greens and the hard left.

    You really should read that paper – it reads like a communist position paper. He even discusses Marxism and its relevance to PNS: “Marxist political theory spoke of ‘leading contradictions’…as when local struggles of classes and communities interact with common struggles against external enemies…The crucial thing in our understanding of it, is that it is a compounded contradiction. We can see its historical roots in what Marx considered to be the characteristic contradiction of modern capitalist society…But there was more to it than that, in the resolution of Marx’s characteristic contradiction…In our terms, they shifted the contradiction elsewhere, thereby staving off rebellion…”

    So the question we must ask is, do we consider that introducing strong politics (for example, those of the far-Left) into science is doing it a service? What has happened in the Climategate scandal is that, indeed, pretty strong politics are heavily involved, and climate science is all the more discredited for it. Hulme makes no secret about it that he is a fully paid up member of the Labour Party for 19 years, and is riding the tiger of ‘climate change’ to further his socialist ends, and that Ravetz gave him the idea and the ammunition.”

    And what does Ravetz espouse in that paper:

    “The time is not ripe for a modification of PNS, and so the best move forward is to raise the issue of Sustainability. For that I sketch a theory of complex systems, with special attention to pathologies and failures. That provides the foundation for a use of ‘contradiction’ as a problem incapable of resolution in its own terms, and also of ‘characteristic contradiction’ that drives a system to a crisis. With those materials it is possible to state the characteristic contradiction of our modern industrial civilisation, and provide a diagram with heuristic power.”

    Heuristic power is the power to explain ‘factual novelties’. ‘Contradiction’ and ‘characteristic contradiction’ are Marxist-speak. Heard about ’sustainability’ recently? You bet!

    Can’t you folks see that Ravetz is a Trojan horse?

  185. ScientistForTruth (04:06:16) :

    “Can’t you folks see that Ravetz is a Trojan horse?”

    Clear as day.

    Much like when the BBC reached out to Anthony we urged extreme caution, so, too, should we do the same in cases like such as this one. The legitimacy of our arguments has been well-established and now the establishment, as it were, will try to co-opt our side of the debate at every turn.

  186. Claurila (01:24:41)

    Thanks. I think the Ben Pile exposition is a better piece of philosophical thinking than the Ravetz piece.

    The ravetz theory of PNS is quite clearly bullshit and exist only in the phylosophical world in which he has lived his life but never the less his piece does contain some real world observations worthy of discussion.

  187. Excellent essay and a gold-mine in future in discussions elsewhere. He has a really good way of putting things.

  188. Thank you ScientistForTruth (16:33:26) and others for reposting the expose of ‘post-normal science’ and the connection with Muke Hulme who, of all the CRI team, is obviously now wanting to ‘move on’ as fast as possible. I can’t but help comparing this to ‘cargo cult science’ and I see it as a convenient and full frontal attack on the scientific method. A rather critical view of the scandals by the theory creator changes nothing and does not deserve support for this post -modern view of science, no mater how much he might see it as being consistent with his theory (now).

    Secondly (and perhaps unkindly) the essay could be seen as attempting to counter what the exposure of these terrible scandals and attacks on science really are: a stake through the heart of this nearly bankrupt theory. If the scientific method triumphs and reaffirms ‘science’ thanks to the exposure of the methods used here in the name of post-normal science, what clothing does the theory have left, but as a talking point amongst philosophers?

    To think that it might have (might still yet) cost the world billions of dollars and change lifestyles, the true adjective to place on this theory might be close to being determined.

  189. PS: That is to say, wait for an evening when a spoon-bender or cold-fusionist gets caught in town after dark if you want to see the science community and MSM at its valiant best.

  190. Could the above thorough critique by Willis Eschenbach please be moved upwards and juxtaposed directly with Ravetz’ essay? It is a necessary addition for those unfamiliar with (apparently) current philosophical ideas, to avoid misunderstanding what Ravetz says – one might say, it translates Ravetz Newspeak into plain English. Bravo Willis!!

  191. Dr. Ravetz, you’ve made my day–maybe my week. I’ll be thinking through your essay (and the “extended peer review” you’re getting in this comment thread!) for weeks.

    I’m trying to think of OTHER examples of post-normal science. Here’s what I have so far:

    (1) The AIDS crisis.
    (2) Breast cancer research.
    (3) Stem cell research.

    I don’t know if they really fit the paradigm–but each of these examples involve urgent demands for political change and/or massive increases in tax-funded research. Is this “post-normal science” or just the “politicization of science”?

  192. While there are some serious problems with the way various governments handled the WMD claims, Iraq did, in fact, have WMD’s. They didn’t have warehouses full of them all over Iraq (which was the ‘method’ the MSM used to disprove such claims: ‘Iraq doesn’t have warehouses full of bio-chemical weapons, ergo, they don’t have them.’ When, in fact, a small lab is all that is required to produce enough chemicals to kill or main millions of people.) …and certain types of bio-chemical weaponry require little in the way of a ‘logistics train’ of supporting facilities. A few quarts of some substances is quite enough to kill or main rather large numbers of people. Additionally, the US ‘blitzkrieg’ attack gave Iraq little or no opportunity to use them against US troops.

    As when people once believed that Islam was a religion of peace that had been hijacked by militants, and also believed that the science behind AGW ‘was settled,’ they still believe that there were no WMD’s in Iraq. As with AGW, the facts about WMD’s in Iraq tell quite a different story than is accepted by the MSM or other mainstream pundits and authorities.

    If the mainstream narratives about more than one issue have been proven to be false (UN ‘Oil for Food’ corruption, anyone?), there is substantial reason to revisit and question the claims about other issues.

  193. This piece, or rather the comments section, is a good example of everyone reading the same thing differently. On my first read I picked out these sentences, there were other choices too:

    “leading practitioners of this ‘evangelical science’ of global warming”

    “they propounded, as a proven fact, Anthropogenic Carbon-based Global Warming. There is little room for uncertainty in this thesis”

    “In retrospect, we can ask why this particular, really rather extreme view of the prospect, became the official one.”

    “its proponents became invested in it, and attached to it, in all sorts of ways, institutional and personal. ”

    “All critics, even those who were full members of the scientific peer community, had to be derided and dismissed”

    “Any weakening of the scientific case would have amounted to a betrayal of the good cause”

    “The final stage of corruption, cover-up, had taken hold”

    and I applauded his ‘factual’ observations. I also welcome ANY observations on WHY this happened, even from a post-Marxist orotund philosopher; I would note that Roger Pielke Jr (that famous Marxist and anti-scientist) describes him as “a giant among scholars in the history and philosophy of science and someone who I am happy to call a friend and colleague.”

    That’s good enough for me for the time being.

  194. Is it any wonder that the man who drew the treasure map knows where the pot of gold is buried?
    ============================

  195. “Can’t you folks see that Ravetz is a Trojan horse?”

    I concur. I am really surprised, and disappointed, at the number of people giving this essay unqualified praise. I don’t fault Anthony for posting it, and I’ve read tallbloke’s defense of it, especially in response to Willis. But given what I think are the general leanings of most of the readership here, I can only surmise that they have been fooled when they accept Ravetz’ ideas uncritically.

    My guess is that they are seeing what they think is a criticism of the normal peer review process, and case being made for a broader kind of “peer review.” But there is a lot more to Ravetz’ theory than that. Ravetz is arguing for politicizing science even more than it is already! Au contraire, the point I tried to make in my initial comment was that we need let politics be politics, and science be science. In a nutshell, what Ravetz is doing is crafting an argument to further politicize science. In “post normal science,” science is not what the “normal” scientists say it is, science is what the political process says it is! Do all of you praising this post uncritically really believe that? If so, God help us all.

  196. Tenuc (02:14:17) :

    I found this an interesting, if not a little wordy, post. While some parts are good, I feel that more could have been made of the politicisation of science and the constant pressure for individuals working on projects to deliver the answers their paymasters want to hear.

    The other puzzle I found hard to understand from the context of the piece was that the author seems to be caught in the ‘fear’ trap too. He is an obviously believer in CO2 caused CAGW…

    “Are we really experiencing Anthropogenic Carbon-based Global Warming? If the public loses faith in that claim, then the situation of science in our society will be altered for the worse.”

    If he was still a believer, he’d have said “we are really” not “Are we really?”
    This has been the most misunderstood sentence in Jerry Ravetz’ essay. I don’t think he’s saying the public must or should continue to believe, he’s flagging up the danger of the scientific and political establishment continuing to deny the obvious.

    ScientistForTruth (04:06:16) :
    ‘Contradiction’ and ‘characteristic contradiction’ are Marxist-speak.

    Jerry said to me in email that one of the reasons he got out of politics many years ago was that he found himself agreeing with thoughtful and reasonable people of the opposite side more than the strident members of his own. I know what he means.

    Willis Eschenbach (02:58:56) :

    To me, saying that the “approach of ‘normal science’ is obsolete” is arguing strongly “against science being done properly in the first place”. What am I missing here?

    The context of the argument I think. As I read him, it is the approach of ‘normal science’ as applied to policy formation which is obsolete and must giove way to more democratic forms with wider terms of reference.

    So, rather than some boffin telling us that ‘this is how it is’ and the government getting away with handing down the policy from on high without further debate, Ravetz is saying, “hang on, we need views from other people here, including those of investigative journalists and people bearing leaked documents. (He wrote that before the CRU leak by the way). This militates for us not against.

    The problem is not that the outputs of science are abused. It is that the scientific process is not being followed, so that there are no valid “outputs of science” to be abused.

    As I said in my earlier reply, I doubt you’d get any argument from Jerry on that score. Integrity is a pre-requisite for useful knowledge production. He acknowledged that he’d missed emphasising that when I confronted him with Scientist For Truth’s piece some weeks ago.

  197. Thank you so very much for that learned summary (although it is almost a paper in itself) of the subject. I have read it once, and shall re-read a few times. So far not a single word seems invalid or misplaced. I feel you have nailed it, to use the vernacular.

    (another) Jerome

  198. The prof is just another Grima Wormtongue. The whole edifice of science will come crashing down around us unless the public keeps on believing The claim of AGW? Come on! Scientists don’t need to be believeable or dependable or honest or have authority. What is needed is simple. Show your work. Show it in sufficient detail, show methods and equipment, show your reasoning. Show it to all that ask. Then others can check, point out mistakes, affirm your findings and improve. That way no one needs to take anybody’s word for anything and science will happily progress.

    The only difference with how things used to be is that these days a lot more people have sufficient access and knowledge to assess the claims. Nominally we belong to the public, in reality we are all peers now. Deal with it, science is not a religion.

    Sorry about the ranting, but agents like the prof raise my hackles something terrible. And I’m serious about all of us being peers. We check the theory of electricity every time we switch on the lights or the telly and we don’t need a belief system for that.

  199. tallbloke

    “post-normal” science is a defined term and is not being used colloquially in Ravetz’s essay. Wiki it and you will see how it is defined.

  200. This is by far the sharpest analysis on the climate scam I have read. Very interesting and inspiring to read. I will directly make a summary in Swedish for my blog readers.

    If there is anything to comment about the article, it should be what several commentors have pointed out above. The author is maybe a bit to cautious, not going into details about factors that have been discussed intensely in the blogosphere:

    - money, both as an overall motivation and, specifically, in the context of misusing grants
    - international politics, shown in conflicts of interest between major global actors

    This was a high water mark. More of that kind, please.

  201. Willis Eschenbach (02:58:56) :
    Do you note that in his entire essay he says nothing about the hiding of data? Did you see that he doesn’t mention the corruption of the peer review process? Did you observe that he said nothing about Jones refusing to give out his data because Warwick would “try to find fault with it”? Did you get that he mentions nothing about Jones and the others conspiring to destroy evidence? Did you notice that he is totally silent about Jones fraudulently evading my FOI request?

    Willis, I understand that you think Jerry Ravetz is soft soaping the issues, and I warned him of the dangers of standing in the middle of the road on this, but here we are. The criticisms he has are nuanced, partly because his essay will have other audiences besides WUWT, but they are far reaching noentheless.

    “Even if only a fraction of their scientific claims were eventually refuted, their credibility as trustworthy scientists was lost. … the recent data from other sources were skilfully blended in so that the change was not obvious; that was the notorious ‘Nature trick’ of the CRU e-mails. …. We can begin to see what went seriously wrong when we examine what the leading practitioners of this ‘evangelical science’ of global warming … took to be the plain and urgent truth in their case.”

  202. Veronica (05:34:43) :

    tallbloke

    “post-normal” science is a defined term and is not being used colloquially in Ravetz’s essay. Wiki it and you will see how it is defined.

    C’mon, you know better than to quote wikipedia as a definitive source. Anyway, to me it looks like PNS is a concept which can be hijacked and turned to either sides use, and surely has been, and will be. If that makes Jerry a chameleon, then so be it, but I think it indicates the truth in his proposition.

  203. Not post normal at all. Simply corrupt. Anywhere you find any man made disaster you will find the root cause is simply corruption.
    Willis you are indeed correct. It is piled higher and deeper.

  204. Now that I’ve had an opportunity to dig a little deeper into the background of “Post-Normal Science,” I see that it was DEVELOPED to justify the suspension of “normal” scientific rules in order to allow “emergency action” in the face of alleged peril. That’s troubling.

    The good news is that Dr. Ravetz has published this essay on this blog at this time, however. His PNS theory may have been developed to support AGW action, but the categories that he has developed work even better when applied in the opposite direction. He may have come up with PNS in order to write off the “deniers,” but Climategate turned his paradigm inside out.

    Italy sided with Hitler in 1939, but by the time the Allies neared Rome in 1943, Italy switched sides. Ciao, Dr. Ravetz!

  205. Yesterday at an event I had a portion of ‘beef stew’ for lunch. In my portion I found two small pieces of meat. The rest of the bulk was made up of mushrooms and onions dressed in a very tasty gravy. Everyone commented how delicious it was. This was a Post-Normal Stew that delivered what the event organisers wanted (tasty food) and what the catering company wanted us to accept (low cost). Most people didn’t notice and the catering company went home richer.

    Post-Normal Science is just the same – strip away the padding and you are left with few scientific facts and a lot of conjecture. Listened to ‘The News’ lately anyone? As a society we have become so used to opinion and speculation dressed up as news that PNS is right at home in the media.

    This is a very well-written and thought-provoking essay with some lovely turns of phrase, but the whole notion of PNS fills me with dread.

  206. The concept of post normal science has been discredited for some time:

    http://www.melaniephillips.com/diary/?p=1469

    The climategate farrago is but an example of what is going on elsewhere and for the benefit of all it shows the deficiencies of the concept.

    Either one uses science as it has been understood and very successfully applied since the Renaissance or one uses the ‘new’ idea that scientific method alone is inadequate so that it needs to be supplemented by power play and deception ‘for a greater good’ and we go back to quackery and the days of witch doctors who now parade under the title of post normal scientists.

    I can’t believe that intelligent individuals can justify that which is proposed on any grounds whatever. If they are intelligent and go along with it then either they are dishonest and corrupt or more likely their world view has been distorted by an underlying ideological belief system that is very much anti science and also anti democratic.

    Indeed it implies that the ignorant masses are not to be trusted to act in their own best interests and/or that the interests of the planet/environment/humanity at large can best be protected by overriding what the masses would decide to be in their own best interests.

    It comes down to totalitarianism pure and simple.

    He nails himself to the mast here:

    “The whole vast edifice of policy commitments for Carbon reduction, with their many policy prescriptions and quite totalitarian moral exhortations, will be at risk of public rejection. What sort of chaos would then result?”

    i.e. He favours totalitarianism as a remedy for the problems envisaged in his perceived world view. Anything else would lead to chaos.

    So what do we want ?

    Regular science and democratic decision making or

    post normal science and totalitarianism.

    Take your pick.

  207. I don’t like the coining of ‘post-normal Science’. The public will be confused as the the IPCC is going to say “….using the best practices of ‘normal science’ and ‘post normal Science’, we declare our conclusions scientifically sound!.” Which is really saying ‘…using best practices of normal science and outright fraud….’.

    Post-Normal = subversion of science.

    But ‘Post Normal Science’ is a contradiction in terms as given what has occurred here in the AGW. It’s just Fraud with complex interpersonal motivations.

    Coining a term ‘Post Normal Science’ awards it a monica of respect by borrowing the respect we all have for the Sciences(and Oxford for that matter).

    Drop it!

  208. Can those of you who like Ravetz’s espousing post-normal science please explain when Mike Hulme, Ravetz’s acolyte, says:

    “Philosophers and practitioners of science have identified this particular mode of scientific activity as one that occurs…where values are embedded in the way science is done and spoken…It has been labelled “post-normal” science. Climate change seems to fall in this category. Disputes in post-normal science focus…on the process of science – who gets funded, who evaluates quality, who has the ear of policy…The IPCC is a classic example of a post-normal scientific activity.”

    Hulme should know – he’s not an outsider: he was co-ordinating Lead Author for the chapter on ‘Climate scenario development’ for the Third Assessment Report of the IPCC, as well as a contributing author for several other chapters. So, you like the way the IPCC has conducted its activity, do you? Because Mike Hulme seems to think that the IPCC is one of the best examples of post-normal science in action.

    I read a lot of Ravetz and Hulme before compiling my post in October. I can tell you – Ravetz knows how to write to push all WUWT readers’ buttons. He has been following WUWT for a long time – see comments to my post:

    http://buythetruth.wordpress.com/2009/10/31/climate-change-and-the-death-of-science/

    I would recommend that if you want to sup with Jerome Ravetz and Mike Hulme you do so with very long spoons.

    Ravetz destroys ‘normal’ science by making it obsolete – it can’t deal with complex systems with uncertainty. So what we have in the IPCC review process are ‘normal’ scientists flagging up that the claims that are made in AR4 go way beyond what is known: the uncertainty has to be stated. As we know, such comments were rejected, and AR4 was way out of order as a summary of what science could tell us in 2007. Too bad, the rules of the game are post-normal now, chaps, so all normal scientists shut up.

    As Eva Kunseler pointed out in relation to post-normal science:

    “The exercise of scholarly activities is defined by the dominance of goal orientation where scientific goals are controlled by political or societal actors…Scientists’ integrity lies not in disinterestedness but in their behaviour as stakeholders…Involved social actors must agree on the definition of perceptions, narratives, interpretation of models, data and indicators…scientists have to contribute to society by learning as quickly as possible about different perceptions”

    Quite explicitly in post-normal science, the goal of scholarly activities (research, data manipulation, writing IPCC reports…) is controlled by politics. Oh yes, there is “integrity” but note that it is not based on the ethics of normal science but on “behaviour as stakeholders”.

    There is a short path between post-normal science and the Precautionary Principle – that if there is a very small possibility of a very large impact you have to take ‘precaution’ against that event. Good job the Aztecs weren’t allowed to follow the precautionary principle, otherwise they would still be doing human sacrifice every night just to ensure that the sun came up the next day.

  209. Rienk (05:33:48) :

    The prof is just another Grima Wormtongue. The whole edifice of science will come crashing down around us unless the public keeps on believing The claim of AGW?

    Rienk, I saw the reference you are referring to, but I did not take it the way you did. yes, Science will be damaged if AGW is proved false, but then it already has been. I think what he was trying to get at was that the truth needs to be outed sooner than later so that the damage can then be corrected. That is occuring any event and will continue to be until the perpertrators of the unethical acts are rooted and booted from the field.

  210. “Willis, I understand that you think Jerry Ravetz is soft soaping the issues, and I warned him of the dangers of standing in the middle of the road on this, but here we are.”

    He’s not standing in the middle of the road with this article. He is holding an extreme position here – the legitimacy of post-normal science and its superiority over proper science where needs are dire and decisions urgent.

    Another Ravetz justification for PNS:

    “Where the systems under study are complicated, complex or poorly understood, that ‘textbook’ style of investigation becomes less, sometimes much less, effective.”

    Now call me stupid, but that applies to every single scientific system under study, when study is in its infancy. Quantum physics remains poorly understood and complex, and has profound policy consequences – it did not require post-normal scientists

    “We can understand the root cause of Climategate as a case of scientists constrained to attempt to do normal science in a post-normal situation.”

    No. The root cause is adverse incentives influencing their behaviour. The more you think about this, the more absurd this sentence is.

    Ravetz IS right about the awesome peer review power of the blogosphere, as this thread is a testament to. But that is a side issue from the causes of Climategate, the conduct of these scientists, politicians and the media in general.

    If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.

  211. Willis Eschenbach (23:53:22)

    For me, this essay is the most dangerous piece of nonsense that has ever appeared on WUWT … sorry, Anthony, but that’s my view.

    Willis Eschenbach (02:58:56)

    . . . Jerry Ravetz is a craven apologist who is trying to divert attention from the real issue. . .

    . . . Ravetz is a single-issue fanatic who is trying to twist the conniving cupidity of some scientists to fit his strait jacket powder-puff philosophy. I am surprised that Anthony published this rubbish, and I’m surprised that you and others buy into it.

    Hear! Hear! I’m surprised as well at all the praise this tripe has garnered here in the Comments.

    However, Chuckles (03:05:39) has a point:

    . . . The entire essay documents at great length that ‘climate science’ as practised by the IPCC, CRU, GISS etc is not science at all, but this other discipline called ‘post-normal science’.

    Why would you not agree with this?

    Game Over.

    Yes, and along with The Great Anthropogenic Global Warming Hoax, and Faux Climate Science, let us make sure we throw this vile ‘Post-Normal Science’ (i.e. Post-Rational Pettifoggery) into the ashcan of history.

    So let us be charitable and assume that Anthony published this jargonistic nonsense in order to show us to what lengths the academicians will go to rationalize fraud and chicanery in the service of political ideology.

    /Mr Lynn

  212. Having commented earlier in this thread, and expressed a somewhat caustic view of ‘Post Normal science’ I have selected a small selection of quotes I have gathered over the years which can be applied to climate science and it would appear, post normal science as well.

    Bertrand Russell; “The fact that an opinion is widely held is no evidence whatsoever that it is not utterly absurd.”

    Splendide mendax
    “Glorious myths are those used for a good cause, i.e., splendide mendax (splendidly or gloriously false)”

    “Men are apt to mistake the strength of their feeling for the strength of their argument. The heated mind resents the chill touch and relentless scrutiny of logic.” William E. Gladstone”

    A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can count on a lot of support from Paul.”
    – George Bernard Shaw

    “Scepticism is the highest of duties, and blind faith the one unpardonable sin.”So wrote Thomas Huxley

    Nietzsche wrote: ” The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments.”

    “Max Planck said: “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

    “As Thomas Kuhn put it in The Road Since Structure: “… – individuals committed to one interpretation or another sometimes defended their viewpoint in ways that violated their professed canons of professional behaviour. I am not thinking primarily of fraud, which was relatively rare. But failure to acknowledge contrary findings, the substitution of personal innuendo for argument, and other techniques of the sort were not. Controversy about scientific matters sometimes looked much like a cat fight.”

    “Only two things are infinite – the universe and human stupidity. And I’m not so sure about the former.” Albert Einstein”

    “It is our attitude toward free thought and free expression that will determine our fate. There must be no limit on the range of temperate discussion, no limits on thought. No subject must be taboo. No censor must preside at our assemblies.”
    ~William O. Douglas, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, 1952

    ”The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.”
    ~H.L. Mencken

    One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. it is simply too painful to acknowledge — even to ourselves — that we’ve been so credulous.” Carl Sagan

    “Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled.” Michael Crichton

    Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.
    -Albert Einstein

    The great Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius’ dictum bears repeating:
    “The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.”

    “Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it.”

    John Lennon

    Tonyb

  213. Willis Eschenbach (23:53:22).

    I thoroughly agree with you Willis. Just the science please, and just the truth. I find these attempts to psychoanalyze what the Hockey Team and others did as diversions from the facts. They lied, cheated and distorted to gain their ends. There are plenty of valid words in our language to describe their actions, without developing new ones, or trying to fit it into some nebulous theory. PNS? Science is science, good or bad. The author has his own theories and agenda, and as some have commented, is using the current AGW debate to promote these.

    I am the man on the Clapham Omnibus. I want the truth, as near proven fact as possible. I don’t want the politics, I don’t want the philosophical arguments, I don’t want the excuses, just the truth please.

  214. The failures of Climategate went beyond those of science, which can be explained by the fact that the “scientists” involved in the scandal were really bureaucrats – zero imagination, but an aggressive lust for funding and prestige.

    As Mark Steyn has pointed out, the worst failure was mainstream media’s, which obstinately refused to acknowledge anything important was going on as both the politics and the science of AGW collapsed in a pile. The public pressure to fix the science was lacking, because the public’s watchdogs were in fact (Steyn’s word) poodles of the climate elites.

    See “Climategate and the ideology of news”:

    http://vulgarmorality.wordpress.com/2010/02/08/climategate-and-the-ideology-of-news/

  215. Stephen Wilde (06:22:43) :
    He nails himself to the mast here:

    “The whole vast edifice of policy commitments for Carbon reduction, with their many policy prescriptions and quite totalitarian moral exhortations, will be at risk of public rejection. What sort of chaos would then result?”

    i.e. He favours totalitarianism as a remedy for the problems envisaged in his perceived world view. Anything else would lead to chaos.

    Are you being thick for a bet or something here Stephen?

    Or is your irony meter needing a coin? ;-)

  216. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Willis Eschenbach so angry. Even Al Gore didn’t manage that.

    I admit that the Prof’s essay is difficult to deconstruct, but I tend to agree with Willis on this. If Jerome is trying to argue that normal science must give way to post normal – and there are direct quotes to that effect – then I would condemn that position unreservedly. Willis is quite right. There is only one way to do science – the normal way. And if those at CRU have not been doing it, they should be criticized, not told to do someone’s whacky idea of “post normal” science.

  217. I only came across the concept of post-normal science” last year and was puzzled by it because it seems a two-faced, have-it-both-ways ideology to me. It purports to be an analytical and objective description of the state of climatology at the same time as promoting the very defects that it identifies as undermining and politicising science.

    Mike Hulme is a particularly blatent example of this type of two-faced philosopher. (He is neither philosopher nor scientist to my mind, merely an opportunist, but that’s by the by.)

    On the one hand “Post-Normal Urgency” is THE ideology of green interventionists that attracts them to the Tyndall Centre at UEA, where Hulme is guru. On the other hand in the guise of objective sociological analyst, Mike Hulme seemlessly flows into “Don’t-Shoot-Me-I’m-Only-The-Messenger!” mode, identifies the dangers of the politicisation of science, and is the first to call for the resignation of poor Phil Jones who only provided the ammunition Tyndall fired!

    Wow! That ”post-Normal Science” is some elastic ideology! Right or wrong, it seems it’s always on the winning side!

    I read Ravetz’s essay with, I can almost say “enjoyment” until I reached the penultimate para.

    “Are we really experiencing Anthropogenic Carbon-based Global Warming?  If the public loses faith in that claim, then the situation of science in our society will be altered for the worse.

    That is a complete non-sequitur. Why should Science Itself be in danger because people insist on evidence rather than consensus as the basis for policy?

    Ravetz’s description of what has happenened recently re “climatechangeism” and the blogospere is correct. Outsiders HAVE influenced the game. We don’t know yet if they will eventually effect the abandonment of “climatechangeism” as the dominant ideology of climatology. If they do it will NOT be because they have enbraced “post-normal science” but because they have dragged science back to basics.

    The “concept” of post-normal science” is VERY, VERY elastic. Beware of all who promote its values it in the guise of merely analysing it! I’m not so sure Ravetz is such a catch, Anthony!

  218. I am in agreement with Willis Eschenbach that Ravetz’s post is dangerous nonsense, and with other commentators about the strange and contradictory conclusion that chaos in public policy due to loss of faith in global warming is to be feared. Since Ravetz is a Kuhnian philosopher, my question is, what is supposed to have been the crisis in normal climate science that precipitated the emergence of post-normal science? What paradigms drove the questions being asked in “normal” climate science? It appears to me that there was no intrinsic “crisis” with unanswerable questions and uncertainty of facts and crisis in confidence in understanding. Climate science is by definition chaotic, and involves a search for cycles or patterns, and explanations for the causes of these phenomena. It is recognized in meteorology that much remains unknown – hardly a crisis situation! Indeed, climate science involves so many different areas of expertise including astronomy, meteorology, geology, biology, chemistry, and physics, that it can not even really be claimed that a consistent and recognizable independent discipline has emerged, let alone developed a normative paradigm. Perhaps we are looking at “pre-normal” science, or a protoscience.

    For Ravetz to claim that what climate science has been characterized by is post-normal science presupposes a paradigm shift is occurring. Would someone please tell me what older theoretical constructs and explanatory devices are being rejected, aside from “climate as normal” in the global warming scam? The entire crisis was manufactured due to a much more important (and real, as opposed to imagined) shift, the embracing by scientists and activists of a new, and frankly post-Christian world-view that sees humanity, its actions and effects as a problem that needs to be mitigated, and especially in its industrial manifestations. This shift has nothing to do with the intrinsic practices, techniques, skill-sets, or modes of explanation of the sciences that are involved, although it did shift the focus of certain practitioners to new questions, but tellingly, ones that the leaders in this new regime (I will not honour it with the name ‘paradigm) already ‘knew’ the answers to. This is not science, normal or post-normal. This is chicanery.

  219. Ravetz has some very strange bedfellows. Mike Hulme for one, with the IPCC, as I’ve shown. But his principles allow all sorts of interest groups and political agents to bend science into their service. What about bringing science under the control of Islam? No kidding? I kid you not: Mohd Hazim Shah’s paper ‘Contemporary Muslim Intellectuals and Their Responses to Modern Science and Technology’ in Studies in Contemporary Islam Volume 3 Number 2 Fall 2001:

    “Sardar, like a conservative Muslim, insists that development, including the development of modern science and technology, should come under the purview of the Islamic faith. Sardar’s so-called Islamic critique of science is really a Western critique of science dressed in Islamic lingo. In fact, his numerous references to Western critics of science, such as Roszak, Jerome Ravetz, Marcuse, and others—the gurus of the counterculture movement of the 1970s—betray the Western origins of his critique of science…His close association, and in some cases collaboration, with Jerome Ravetz is of some interest in this regard, especially when we note Ravetz’s status as a major critic of science in Britain in the 1970s…”

    As I noted in my post on this last October

    http://buythetruth.wordpress.com/2009/10/31/climate-change-and-the-death-of-science/

    we had already been warned about Ravetz in the 1987 work ‘Changing Powers of the Political’, which stated

    “From the perspective of Anglo-American liberalism it seems easy enough to…point out that the old predictions of the British Marxist J.D. Bernal about the triumph of basic research under socialism have proved hopelessly wrong, and that the demands of J.R. Ravetz of the University of Leeds that science be made instrumental and moral will destroy the enterprise whatever its short-term benefits.”

    Sociologists have also been looking at the phenomenon. This is what Steve Fuller, Professor of Sociology at University of Warwick, UK, has to say in ‘Universities and the future of knowledge governance from the standpoint of social epistemology’:

    “…the original finalizationist proposal to harness mature science for the public good metamorphosized into an invitation for various interest groups to define more explicitly what is truly ‘useful and beneficial’…What Jerome Ravetz originally called ‘post-normal science’ has now turned into ‘science made to order’. In this brave new world, the Achilles Heel of Nazi and Soviet science was ‘merely’ the prematurity with which science has been applied to policy…”

    Folks: you embrace Ravetz at your own risk. He is a Trojan horse.

  220. Yes, the AGW folks do see themselves as a “pure science” according to Michael Tobis. In this futerra.uk, PR piece, rules of the game, the authors make their views clear for all to read…

    There is plenty of evidence
    relating to attitudes towards and
    behaviour on climate change,
    general environmental behaviour
    change and the whole issue
    of sustainable development
    communication. As we reviewed
    the research for these principles,
    one ‘überprinciple’ emerged:
    “Changing attitudes
    towards climate change is
    not like selling a particular
    brand of soap – it’s like
    convincing someone to
    use soap in the first place.”

    I thought the word “uberprinciple” was out of vogue? This document is in the FOIA files and was printed in 2005. Who in their right mind would have let this whole brochure and the follow up: New Rules; New Game, which spouts the same PNS blather, go to the printers? These folks are eliteists. That is the long and the short of it. What a sham…

  221. I see that wiki says of Jerome Ravetz ” His first book was an early attempt to shift the philosophy of science from epistemology to the social and ethical aspects of science.”

    Precisely!

    Epistemology is the study of “theories of knowledge”. Effectively it means “how do we know what we think we know?”

    Ravetz’s agenda is to redefine not just the scientific method but knowledge itself. I don’t wish to descend into Cold War politics, but Marxism is not a proper basis for understanding the natural world. It should confine itself to moral philosophy and political science.

    Jerome Ravetz and Mike Hulme think they have found a way to advance their political ideals via the weak underbelly of science – “environmental Studies”.

  222. tallbloke (07:08:05)

    ???

    I don’t normally read things wrongly but I suppose it can happen.

    What do you think he means ?

    He seems concerned about the possibility of rejection and the chaos that would (in his opinion) result.

  223. “Can’t you folks see that Ravetz is a Trojan horse?”

    I guess some of you have skim-read the original article (it is kind of long!) and failed to see Ravetz’s point. In effect you are blaming the messenger for the message. He is describing the development of post-normal science as a problem, and he seems keen that the blogosphere can act as a corrective.

    PNS is an ironical way of describing shoddy science done for political reasons.

  224. I have not quoted anyone before but I think I should put the “pure science” in context. This paragraph is taken out of a longer post, one of many from over at The Blackboard on Feb. 4th, 2010. The thread was called: How Not To Respond…, Michael Tobis, comment #32107 @10:42.

    “You will find these behaviors do not exist in medicine or engineering, from which quarters many of the complaints we get emerge. This makes perfect sense. The culture of climate science emerged as a pure science, mostly curiosity-driven. As far as the culture at large was concerned, it was an affordable eccentricity, not an important branch of research. When this field discovered matters of serious importance, it became an applied and controversial discipline with the traditions of a modest and collegial scientific backwater. This is what you are seeing, and what you are interpreting as a vast conspiracy.”

    As I am now aware of PNS… I think this qualifies.

  225. Willis Eschenbach (23:53:22) :

    Willis has found the skunk in the cellar. If something is either pre or post “normal” – it ain’t normal in my book.

    It took 45 years for science to discredit the Piltdown Hoax. It should take half as long to discredit this one.

  226. I’m really glad Antony posted this piece – but for the debate it has provoked following Willis’s genius intervention (and prefigured by that wise remark about the Trojan horse), rather than for anything in Prof Ravetz’s article. Guys, I think some of you may need to get your weaselry detectors fixed. Climategate happened because of Post Normal Science. Not despite it.

  227. What is so dangerous about this is the tag ‘Science’. Dangerous to the general public as they will attach the respect they have for Science in general with ‘post-normal’ as in ‘post normal Science’. The IPCC will bend it so that they can claim that their reports are pier reviewed and comply with ‘Post Normal Science’ practices. THe AGW Story is fraud. The second they decided they would not honor the F.O.I.s, we didn’t step into a ‘post normal Science’ but fraud. As in a distortion of the process of Science and the law. Izzard went on about how cool it would be to have a maneuver named after you…like the Heimlich Maneuver. I think that is what we have here: the CRU Maneuver (around, under, over the normal process). it is not a new method of Science and yields no insight into the basic hard science. The AGW story is a system of organized fraud. By the way: For those in/from Oxford, it’s not ‘passenger on the Omnibus’ but ‘Town’ as in ‘Gown Vs. Town’.

  228. Tom (08:17:24) :

    When this field discovered matters of serious importance, it became an applied and controversial discipline with the traditions of a modest and collegial scientific backwater. This is what you are seeing, and what you are interpreting as a vast conspiracy.”

    Tom, there is no vast conspiracy. Just as there was none in the rush to Sutter’s Mill, in 1849. The difference is only that today’s rush is heralded by the cry, “There’s gold in climate science!”

  229. I’m not certain which is more fascinating. The article or the discussion that it promotes!

    But I think that the length of the article and the wordiness (eloquent though it may be) contribute to discussions wandering off the main points which might potentially get lost. Post Normal Science, for good or ill, is with us to stay, AND IS NOT NEW. Ravetz made some important points as to why:

    1. Knowledge is power. I got long bows and you got short swords, I win. I got nuclear weapons and you got conventional, I win.

    2. Knowledge exploits ignorance. Those who could not read accepted the interpretation of the authoritative text by the priesthood who could. It mattered not what the text really said if the priesthood wanted to build an army and march off to war. It mattered only that the masses believe.

    3. Knowledge stems from science. The great scientists of history were generally associated with powerful monarchies or priesthoods. Only they had the resources to assemble reference libraries and fund original research, until the printing press was invented.

    4 Knowledge advances and retreats. Aristotle, Copernicus and Galileo all “discovered” that the earth circled the sun. Post Normal Science emerged even then. Galileo was funded by the priesthood whose power was threatened by his science. They threatened him, and assembled legions of other scientists to use his own data to “prove” him wrong.

    5. Wide spread knowledge defeats exploitation of ignorance. The invention of the printing press and wide spread literacy led to the Reformation. The priesthood was no longer the sole authority on what the book said.

    6. The equivalence between AGW and MWD is apt, because for the purposes of this discussion it does not matter which is right and which is wrong. It only matters what the masses believe at the time decisions are made. The Manhatten Project was nearly scuttled because so many scientists claimed it would not work. It took a letter signed by Einstein amongst others to get it funded and get to a nuclear weapon before the enemy did. The decision was made by politicians who understood neither side of the argument, but urgent action was required should Einstein et al be correct and the enemy succeed first.

    7. As knowledge advances and retreats, so does credibility. The priesthood lost credibility because the earth really did circle the sun, and the book didn’t say to raise an army. Science will lose credibility if AGW theories are proven to be false, particularly if they were deliberately false to control the masses. 100 years from now the politicians, scientists and the priests will all still be around trying to control the lives of others… BUT;

    8. The knowledge, data, and analysis will be available to all, yet PNS will be ascendant. You can explain to a 6 year old how the seasons work with nothing but a globe and a flashlight. You can explain how a nuclear explosion is triggered, and any 2nd year physics student can follow along. You can publish your paper on some subtlety of quantum physics that everyone on the planet can read, but perhaps a few dozen can understand. Science will create knowledge will create power. But PNS will decide if Galileo will be executed, if the Manhatten Project will be funded, if Iraq will be invaded and if carbon will be taxed.

  230. Dont think I like these new-speak scientists.
    I like the old school.

    -Lindzen.
    -Christie.
    -Spencer

    yupp. Thats what I like.

    People I can thrust.
    People with integrity.

    Scientists. Old school.

  231. “If the public loses faith in that claim, then the situation of science in our society will be altered for the worse.”

    I think the man is schizophrenic, he writes an essay on the many problems and assumptions of AGW science, expressing that the uncertainties are far greater then presented, and then says it would be tragic if people actually doubted the need to restructure the world over AGW.

    “There is very unlikely to be a crucial experience that either confirms or refutes the claim;”

    Ok, the author is now back to doubting the science, and he muddies the water with non scientific words like “experience” instead of “experiment” If we get back to observations and testing we may be able to prove or disproof the CAGW theory. Lindzen and others are working in this direction.

    “the post normal situation is too complex”

    what the he-double hockey stick is this?. Yes, climate may very well be a chaotic process, very hard to predict, currently the unknowns out weigh the known’s. This is quite normal in “science”.

    “The consensus is likely to depend on how much trust can still be put in science.”

    Fortunately it now appears that the consensus will depend on how open the science becomes, and then what that open science reveals.

    “The whole vast edifice of policy commitments for Carbon reduction, with their many policy prescriptions and quite totalitarian moral exhortations, will be at risk of public rejection.”
    Sir, please change “moral exhortations” to immoral extortions”, and add fortunately after “will” and I will agree with this.

  232. An excellent paper on a complex subject. I join Theo Goodwin in feeling it would have been more complete if the question of “modelling” and the use of models (especially in the absence of good data) for the basis of “scientific conclusion” had been dealt with also.
    Excerpt
    ” The right-wing political agendas of some climate sceptics, their bloggers and their backers, are quite well known. But to use their background or motivation as an excuse for ignoring their arguments, is a betrayal of science.”
    True. However it would be nice if they would keep their political leanings to themselves and restrict their comments to the subject at hand. I know that is a difficult thing to ask of idealogues, but one can always wish.

  233. {editor: please remove earlier post; tags did not work}
    I am a mathematician. Old joke from grad school: “what is the difference between an unprovable theorem and a trivial theorem? The unprovable one is one I haven’t figured out yet.”
    Has everyone lost sight of what was once understood to be science?
    A phenomenon is observed. A curious person looks for some theory which will predict future occurrences of that phenomenon. If the theory is good, the phenomenon will occur as predicted. If the theory is bad, something else will happen.
    Example: Halley and his prediction of the return of “his” comet. Had he been wrong, who would have listened to him again?
    Example: Semmelweis and infant mortality. After he was driven out of medicine, his procedures were finally instituted and infant mortality plunged.
    Example: Pasteur and the spontaneous generation of life. Come on, he said, I will tell you exactly how to set up your independent observation.
    To label the AGW movement as scientific is false. Anthony’s earliest objections were that he was unable to see the computer model and unable to see the data which was used. The AGW of the IPCC is of the same order as the offers to sell the secret of antigravity for a million dollars. Or the proffer of some mystic South American herb which will cure, well, everything.
    Big secret. The world is complex.
    Second big secret: studying one phenomenon, while ruling out all but one or two suspected causes, is extremely difficult.
    Third big secret: researchers in many fields are very poorly trained in statistics. Not only do they not know how to collect data in a solid forensic matter, but they do not know what to do with what they have found.
    I have repeatedly observed this in the “social science” of educational research.
    Fourth big secret: the thin film of atmosphere around the Earth is very large, subject to a number of influences, and not yet understood in a predictive way. I am sitting here in a hundred-year blizzard, which was not predicted even one month ago. Predicting what will happen in 50 or 100 years may someday be possible. But we have to get past five days first.
    The problem is not science. It is pseudo-science used for political ends.

  234. “We have argued that in the case of Post-Normal Science, the ‘extended peer community’, including all affected by the policy being implemented, must be fully involved.”

    That is a quote which helps Ravetz and suggests that he is democratic rather than Marxist but I do wish his article did not contain so many contradictory components.

    The trouble is that if all affected are to be involved then in the end one gets back to votes via one method or another.

    Yet he refers to an extended peer community which is clearly not intended to be universally inclusive.

    There is so much woolliness and inconsistency in the article that I’m now very unsure what he really is getting at and the variability shown in the reactions here shows that I am not alone.

    I get the impression that all he might be doing is trying to protect PNS from the damage caused by climategate by seeking to include the blogosphere (but not the people at large) in consideration of the science and the proper social decisions to be made.

    “The extended peer community of science on the blogosphere will be playing its part in that process. Let dialogue commence.”

    So he is drawing us into PNS and inviting us to abandon normal science in return for our involvement being permitted.

    However, as with government consultations there is no guarantee that the supporters of proper science will be listened to at all. They can always be trumped by sociological imperatives once they have been drawn into the quagmire.

    In the end it’s a struggle for the means of production which in this case is ideas that can persuade or coerce the masses.

  235. I am grateful he is calling for open dialogue, and his concerns will probably reach many people I have difficulty communicating with. Other then that the man’s intellect may well be superior to mine, but this may allow him to assimilate nonsense at a more eloquent rate.

  236. I think this is an accurate well-written piece.

    I’m not concerned that consideration of PNS is disquieting, I prefer to think the following encompasses the main tenets, to which I agree:

    But his analysis related to the sciences of the laboratory, and by extension the technologies that could reproduce stable and controllable external conditions for their working.

    When scientific study is done in an environment “without” stable and controllable external conditions, ie. holding all known variable imputs constant while altering the component in question, the analysis invariably requires statistics, sometimes complex and confounding. I believe this is what he means by:

    Issues of uncertainty and quality are not prominent in ‘normal’ scientific training, and so they are less easily conceived and managed by its practitioners.

    Yes, I have had Stat 300 or 400, 30 years ago. But when I try to understand the complex statistics involved in computer modeled analyses for example, at my age it’s easier to pour another glass of wine and do the crossword. In my work, I let someone else do the Stats. I think that the CO2 charade existed relatively uncontested until M&M at CA exposed the dubious statistics involved because for the mainstream scientist the statistics were taken at face value. Mann understood this and thought he could slide by with his convoluted gyrations. Too many scientists get tunnel vision , or tunnel education if you will, and not a well rounded education. Tallbloke was correct in relating Climate Science to genetic modification. How many policy makers, food scientists, animal husbandry or range scientists in the EU (or elsewhere) understand molecular genetics when making policy decisions involving soybeans? That fight went on for over five years. How many 6-headed pygmy megacentipedes have been discovered as a result of GM Soybeans?

    IMHO, peer review in the future should not be relegated solely to “within the specific facet of science” peers, but inclusive of many degrees and especially a statistician to review every publication that contains stats.

    And that’s my consensus (I have multiple personalities).

  237. Makes me proud to be a “Redcoat”! Hope this excellent article is now published throughout the mainstream media. The analogy between the dishonesty of Blair and climategate, etc scandals is very apt. I would also compare the dishonesty of the British Parliament regarding fraudulent claims made by MPs (made me ashamed to be a “Readcoat”) with the equally deceitful management of the IPCC.

  238. davidmhoffer (08:40:46) : Aristotle, Copernicus and Galileo all “discovered” that the earth circled the sun.

    Oh, no. NOT Aristotle. Thanks to the ‘authority’ of Aristotle who insisted that the sun circled the earth, that heavier bodies fall faster than lighter bodies, that women have fewer teeth than men, and that objects only continue at a constant velocity if acted upon by a force, science was impeded for 2000 years.

    Hopefully you mean Aristarchus of Samos – now he was a brilliant guy!

  239. READ SLOWLY, AND PLEASE UNDERSTAND THE WORDS

    “The whole vast edifice of policy commitments for Carbon reduction, with their many policy prescriptions and quite totalitarian moral exhortations, will be at risk of public rejection.””

    FOCUS ON……totalitarian moral exhortations

    Main Entry: ex·hor·ta·tion
    Pronunciation: \ˌek-ˌsȯr-ˈtā-shən, -sər-; ˌeg-ˌzȯr-, -zər-\
    Function: noun
    Date: 14th century
    1 : an act or instance of exhorting
    2 : language intended to incite and encourage

    HE CALLS THE GOAL OF CAGW ( EVERYTHING THE IPCC WANTS) and it use of language intended to incite and encourage” MORAL

    How ele can one read this????

  240. Ravetz puts his finger on a severe and intolerable shortcoming of modern academia. According to Ravetz, “Issues of uncertainty and quality are not prominent in ‘normal’ scientific training.”

    One manifestation of this phenomenon is the failure of the IPCC climate models to express uncertainty in the projected outcomes of statistical events through use of ideas in probability theory and statistics. It can be shown that such a model is certain to fail, if tested, from making false assertions. However, the builders of these models express the indifference to the quality of the models which, according to Ravetz. is a feature of normal science by failing to make these models falsifiable. Thus, though these models are certain to fail if tested, they are insusceptible to being tested!

  241. There is so much good in Professor Ravetz’s essay that it is a shame that he undermines his credibility by joining in the British mob in its rush to lynch Tony Blair. We know the Brits turned their back on their Empire decades ago and now try for moral superiority over their ancestors by decrying the methods of achieving and maintaining that Empire. It is no longer PC to point out that the Brits Empire still remains the most civilising influence in the history of the human race, especially if you count the USA as a spiin-off.

    The Iraq situation, quite traceable to the Empire’s manipulations post-the Great War, forced the Brits to be involved in Iraq one way or another and then deal with recriminations later. Those hostile to the methods of Empire (American or Britain) have seized on the WMD issue, where the intelligence services of many nations and even generals under Saddam got it wrong. But they ignore the many other rationales for the recent Iraq War: Saddam’s invasions of Iran and Kuwait, his harboring of many known terrorists (eg, Abu Nidal, the big guy before Osama became the big guy), His tolerance (at a minimum) of the terrorist training camps of Ansar al Islam on Iraqi soil, his previous SCUD missile attacks on Israel, his proud offers of cash to the families of suicide bombers (on the order of $25K), his documented previous use of WMD’s (chemical) against his own Iraq people (albeit Kurds and Shia), his rape rooms, his mass graves, his hundreds of overt acts of war against the US and Brit planes legally enforcing the “no-fly” zones from the 1991 ceasefire, his kicking out the UN observers (why, if there was nothing to hide??)—(google Bill Clinton’s speech re Saddam in 1998 saying he has WMD’s and will use them and John Kerry’s speech in 1998 calling for “regime change in Iraq”), Sadam’s apparent assasination attempt in Kuwait against the first President Bush. In the context of the madmen in Iran now on the verge of nuclear weapons, with the UN-”imposed” sanctions regime already failing miserably in 2002, what would Saddam being doing now to keep the balance of power between him and the Iranian Mullahs??

    Sorry to go on this tangent but Dr Revetz started it. My point is beware of allying with a Professor Revetz, who shows he cannot think with a hard head on the Iraq situation and instead takes fashionable potshots at the formerly much loved (by the left) Tony Blair ——who, BTW, is a big AGW supporter. Revetz may be a good writer who blows with the political winds. Now, in Britain at least, post-climategate,it is becoming a little cool to oppose Warming.

    KW

    KW

  242. Willis is right. Post modern science is as big a load of bull as the world wide AGW scare is. This is a terrible article. “my truth, my facts” Where is Aristotle when we need him? We need objective and replicable science which is a challenge when applied to as chaotic a system as climate. Once we have that we can talk about policy.

  243. As for the numerous critics – you have certainly perceived this paper in a different light than I have. It seems to me that Ravetz is trying to explicate and identify the conditions that lead to the scientific behavior we now call “Climategate”, and not trying in any way to justify such behavior. I perceive his write up as being largey value neutral.
    I fail to see that explaining is in any way justifying or advocating. “Trojan horse” for what exactly?
    Would detailing all of the sins help in understanding the conditions that led to the sinning? Not for me.
    I think much of the criticism says more about the inability of the critic to read something objectively, than it does about the author or the paper, and that inability is the same as the failure of “PNS” scientists, in nature if not in degree.

  244. I to tend to think that this individual is only unhappy that the IPCC is getting caught.

    Sorry Tallbloke, but how can you spin his words differently.

  245. Mathman – “The problem is not science. It is pseudo-science used for political ends”.
    That’s ok for you and me. The problem Ravetz is dealing with is that the actors (Climatologists), the general public, the better part of the science community, and most of the establishment perceive it as science, and for most people perception is reality. When they awaken to your state of enlightment, then what happens.
    Ravetz is trying to explicate the development of the delusion, the conditions that lead to such delusion, and suggest what the consequences of enlightment might be, and he has done a pretty good job.

  246. @James Delingpole (8:31:04)

    “Guys, I think some of you may need to get your weaselry detectors fixed. Climategate happened because of Post Normal Science. Not despite it.”

    Thank you James, somebody gets it.

    People, this is NOT some newly thought up weasel justification for Climategate. The whole IPCC process and all the science associated with it, is post-normal science.

    All of the CRU output, all of the IPCC machinations, the upwardly creeping temps, anything to do with the TEAM etc IS post-normal science, NOT science.

    So any reference to it or appeal to it, can be dismissed out of hand. It is NOT science.

  247. Kwinterkorn – “It is no longer PC to point out that the Brits Empire still remains the most civilising influence in the history of the human race, especially if you count the USA as a spiin-off”
    GBShaw once observed that America was the first culture in history to have gone from barbarism to decadence without passing through civilization.

  248. Looking through Mr Ravetz’ home page blog roll, I notice he lists as ‘science’ blogs: RealClimate, deSmogBlog, Deltoid, Stoat, Rabett Run, Gristmill, A’s [Al Gore's] Journal, The Intersection, Climate Progress, Dot Earth, and many similar climate alarmist blogs, which do not willingly tolerate honest, polite, but skeptical comments.

    Rather, they are one-sided propaganda organs for the IPCC, GISS, CRU and similar government agencies and co-opted professional organizations, and all accept the AGW hypothesis as a proven fact, despite the complete absence of any empirical evidence showing that a specific, measurable increase in human emitted CO2 results in a specific increase in global temperature.

    Conspicuously absent from Revitz’ blog roll are the last two winners of the Weblog Awards for Best Science site, and top runners-up in the Science category of the Wiki blogs: WUWT and Climate Audit.

    I enjoyed reading Mr Ravetz’ article. But I think he owes the readers here an explanation of why he fills his blog roll exclusively [as far as I could tell; I'm not familiar with every one of them] with climate alarmist blogs — while refusing to list the real science sites that sort out the truth by giving a platform to all points of view. The comments here show that contrary views are not censored. WUWT, unlike RC, etc., does not censor reasonable, polite, but opposing comments.

    If the scales have truly fallen from Mr Ravetz’ eyes, and he now understands that the CO2=CAGW hypothesis is simply grant-driven propaganda couched as science, then he should, at the very least, have an equal number of scientific skeptics’ sites included in his blog roll.

    There are plenty of them out there; see the WUWT blog roll [WUWT lists alarmist sites such as RealClimate, but the courtesy isn't returned]. IMHO, such additions to his blog roll will be an excellent test of whether Mr Ravetz is sincere, or a chameleon.

  249. Phil Jourdan (06:37:46) :

    But science cannot be damaged by something being shown false. Neither can science be damaged by being shown as something you cannot believe in. The first is a normal function of science and the second would strengthen the position of it. Science is not a religion.

    It’s a matter of framing. In the media science is portrayed as having authority. AGW “has” “the scientific concensus”, It has been published in the “peer reviewed literature”. Those are things that are useful to politicians, not to science. And it’s what our dear prof above wants to safeguard.

    Anyway, I think it’s gratifying that the other side is bringing out some bigger guns. It means they’re at least a bit rattled. Read carefully, cheers.

  250. Thanks for this post by Professor Jerome Ravetz of Oxford University.

    His message confirms this sad fact:

    An international alliance of politicians, publishers, and news media have formed a secret and unholy union to use science as a propaganda tool to control people.

    This is the situation that former President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned about in his farewell address to the nation:

    “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.”

    http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/ike.htm

    1. It is no mere coincident when -

    the BBC, CBS, NBC, PBS, Nature, Science, the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, the US National Academy of Sciences, major newspapers, APS, ACS, AGU, major research institutions and universities, the Norwegian Nobel Committee, NASA, DOE, the UN’s IPCC, Al Gore, George Bush, Barack Obama, and the Met Office –

    are all distributing the same misinformation:

    2. Neutron repulsion – a nuclear energy source that is greater than fusion (H-bomb) or fission (A-bomb)- powers the Sun and generates solar luminosity, solar neutrinos and solar wind Hydrogen in the exact proportions observed – despite falsehoods from the above group ["Neutron repulsion confirmed as energy source", Journal of Fusion Energy 20 (2002) 197-201].

    http://www.omatumr.com/abstracts2003/jfe-neutronrep.pdf

    3. The Sun is not a ball of Hydrogen – despite the NASA fiction that is distributed by our most prestigious research journals and the news media ["The Sun is a plasma diffuser that sorts atoms by mass", Physics of Atomic Nuclei 69 (2006) 1847-1856]:

    http://arxiv.org/pdf/astro-ph/0609509v3

    4. Solar neutrinos do not oscillate away – despite the DOE funded distortions published by one of the leading physics journals with more than 175 co-authors. [Bureaucrats do not realize that 175 real scientists will never have the same interpretation of a signal that is accompanied by an unknown background signal]:

    http://arxiv.org/pdf/astro-ph/0410460

    5. Man-made CO2 does not control Earth’s variable climate. Earth’s heat source – the variable Sun quite naturally produces Earth’s variable climate [“Earth’s heat source – the Sun”, Energy & Environment 20 (2009) 131-144:

    http://arxiv.org/pdf/0905.0704

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Emeritus Professor
    Nuclear & Space Sciences
    Former NASA PI for Apollo

  251. I think this article is very enlightening … not because I agree with its contents, but because it gives us insight into the thinking of those who bought the whole AGW nonsense in the first place. Now they are trying to figure out why they were led astray. Of course, they haven’t moved from their base political and social views, so they need to re-invent the process that failed.

    OTOH, we all need to understand that there will be times where complete knowledge is unavailable (and probably won’t become available for some time). In some areas of science and politics it will be reasonable to wait it out. In other case, like WMDs, there may be a need to make judgements.

    For AGW we saw that political and social views were a big part in making personal judgements on the need for quick action. The same was true for WMDs. Both of these examples demonstrate just how this can lead to poor decisions. However, claiming that science needs to change because of this is illogical. Real science was never used in the first place. Science is not the baby that needs to be thrown out with the bathwater.

  252. ScientistForTruth (09:07:58) :
    davidmhoffer (08:40:46) : Aristotle, Copernicus and Galileo all “discovered” that the earth circled the sun.

    Oh, no. NOT Aristotle.>

    Proof of PNS! I made a mistake due to a common misconception that I would have propogated unintentionaly had it not been for the blogosphere correcting my error.

    thanks for the correction scientistfortruth.

  253. This cogent essay by Jerome Ravetz and the debate that it engages are extremely important. The abuse of climate science (and politically-driven abuse of other sciences) together with the violence perpetrated against honest dissenters, must be held in the spotlight of public scrutiny. The individuals responsible must not be allowed to slink anonymously into the shadows. Something analogous to the Nuremburg trials must be carried out in the public sphere, and MSM organisations complicit in the CAGW fiasco should not be allowed to ignore the process out of embarrassment at their own involvement.

    If a more accountable and seriously professional structure of scientific research, more effective at finding truth, less corrupt, incestuous and cronyist, were to emerge as a result, this would be a valuable outcome.

    “A distinguished scholar, Sheila Jasanoff, has called for a culture of humility among scientists, itself a radical move towards a vision of a non-violent science.”

    Radical here is an understatement – revolutionary would cover it better. This is like asking for a culture of humility among boxers, popstars or African dictators. Sadly the particular type of Darwinian competition for science funding in many Western countries has resulted in favouring and selection of individuals who are grotesque self-publicists and self-praisers (as well as being repulsive bullies in their interpersonal conduct). Often scientists who can generate a supporting chorus from the MSM can more or less force funding bodies to finance them.

    In science, somehow, everything must change.

  254. Alright. I propose a compromise Mr. Delingpole. We won’t call it ‘Post Normal Science’ nor a Maneuver. How about: ‘Sub-normal Sub-Science’ as it is both beneath real Science and uterly Subversive.

  255. Yes there seems to be a softness in the essay on the harder issue. I agree with tallbloke …. There’s just something about not addressing the facts.

  256. @ Onion

    I’m with you. I’m completely and utterly bewildered by the fawning praise this sloppy piece is receiving here. It’s wrong on the facts, wrong on the logic, and wrong in the conclusions.

    Otherwise, it’s fine.

  257. Terrific thread. Kudos to Anthony for posting the article even if it is a load of bollocks. I don’t know if it is or it isn’t, because it is written in such high-falutin and ambiguous terms. If a man can’t write something in plain English so that there is no doubt what he actually means, then one’s BS detectors do tend to start trembling. I suggest that Ravetz read some Emerson and learn some lessons about combining clarity with depth. Of course, maybe he’s presented his thoughts like this deliberately so that he can keep his street cred with the warmists and at the same time seem to be offering an olive branch to us lot.

    I think we might well be witnessing the dance of the weasels (or maybe chameleons) in pieces like this and in the self-contradictory contortions of the Guardian of late. They’re in disarray, making it up as they go along, above all wanting to emerge in one piece and with some shred of credibility. But honestly, I don’t think there’s any hope of that. We’ve caught sight of the emperor bollock-naked; he has a tiny todger, and we don’t believe in his strap-on dildo.

  258. Willis Eschenbach (23:53:22)

    “For me, this essay is the most dangerous piece of nonsense that has ever appeared on WUWT”

    Thank you, Willis, well done. I had read Hulm’s and Ravetz’s piece in the BBC back in December, so the red flags immediately went up.

    From the BBC article:

    “We argue that the evolving practice of science in the contemporary world must be different from the classic view of disinterested – almost robotic – humans establishing objective claims to universal truth…

    “The classic virtues of scientific objectivity, universality and disinterestedness can no longer be claimed to be automatically effective as the essential properties of scientific knowledge.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8388485.stm

    Perhaps Ravetz & Hulme’s goal is to co-opt the blogosphere into rallying around the “policy prescriptions and quite totalitarian moral exhortations,” of the warmists, because it’s too late to turn back. Or there will be chaos. (BTW, leftists don’t perceive “totalitarian” as a pejorative term, but as a necessity; enforcement is preferably voluntary, but will become forceful if required.)

    Thanks also to ScientistForTruth (16:33:26) for the link to the material on Ravetz, Hulme and post-normal science.

    For those who missed it:

    http://buythetruth.wordpress.com/2009/10/31/climate-change-and-the-death-of-science/

  259. John Whitman (01:18:31) — John, science uses epistemology as a tool, but is not bound by its axioms. Science follows its own theories, which are invented ad hoc and which must make falsifiable predictions, and is tested by investigational results, which must be independently verifiable.

    Likewise, science is not concerned with any metaphysical reality. It does not postulate an external universe and is not concerned with essences or with the nature of things. It is concerned with objective knowledge, which means falsifiably predictive statements concerning observational results.

    Please note this is not the same as naive falsification (i.e., ‘the moon is made of green cheese’). Falsifiable statements in science are falsifiable by way of deduction from a predictive theory, and not merely from descriptive assertion.

    There’s no such thing as “post-normal science.” Science is not philosophy. Science is theory and results. Anything else is not science.

    Ravitz and other post-modern essayers are merely engaged in status salvation. They want to re-cast science as no better than their own political opinion-mongering so as to diminish the stark comparative poverty of their field. It’s intellectual face-saving; leveling by derision. Basically, post-modern derogation of science, rationally unjustifiable, is a tactical diversion from the tacit admission that post-modern thought, itself, is hollow at its core. These people are intellectuals who have systematically betrayed reason; the worst sort of intellectual treason.

  260. I see a lot of commentators are full of admiration for Ravetz’s essay. So, if the Trojan Horse analogy is accurate (as I think it is), Ravetz has done an excellent job: the innocent citizens have opened the gates, pulled their trophy inside and are busy celebrating and getting drunk. Bad move.

  261. We all learn about the “Scientific Method” early in our education and now we clearly need a “Post Normal Scientific Method”.

    Here are the elements.
    1. Observe anecdote.
    2. Develop plausible theory.
    3. Connect emotional language to plausible theory
    4. Connect to advocacy group(s) — more better
    5. Advocacy groups recursively repeat # 3 & 4
    6. Through replication of #5 the anecdote turns into solid “data”
    7. Media does stories on the “data”
    8. $$$$ takes note
    9. continue….

    As others have stated “Climategate” is an extraordinary example of Post Normal Science in operation.

    Oh yes, the vaunted “precautionary principle” that has found its way into the regulatory schemes of the EU is a corollary to PNS.

  262. Puzzled by some of the negative reactions, I missed the ambiguity and self-contradiction. All seemed clear enough to me. There is nothing wrong with extending a logical clause over more than one sentence. Just having a vocabulary smaller than your shoe size does not justify inverse snobbery against someone who hasn’t.

    “And what about the issue itself? Are we really experiencing Anthropogenic Carbon-based Global Warming? If the public loses faith in that claim, then the situation of science in our society will be altered for the worse. ”

    If you read the rest of the article, Ravetz is definitely not on the side of CAGW. However if the public reaction to climategate and failed CAGW is to “throw out the baby with the bathwater” (an IDIOM – look up if necessary) then science and all scientists could suffer, so it is a justifiable concern. Just like in the UK attacks against all foreigners increased after 911, or mobs in England targeted paediatricians following high profile paedophile criminal cases.

    [REPLY - Interesting. After 911, in the US, attacks against Middle Easterners decreased -- very -- sharply. ~ Evan]

  263. James Delingpole is spot on, and I retract some of my earlier praise for the Prof. It all sounds very plausible on first reading, but I have now recalibrated my weaselry detectors, as JD suggests. I still like the comparison to Blair’s dodgy dossier, though.

  264. tallbloke wrote (in response to Willis):

    “The criticisms he has are nuanced, partly because his essay will have other audiences besides WUWT”

    Sorry, that doesn’t work for me … and only adds to the confusion. For far too long we have been forced to deal with a very un-nuanced message. It’s time to call a spade a spade – regardless of audience.

    Paul Dennis (a breath of fresh air from UEA) has an interesting response to this essay from Ravetz. I would say that he agrees with Willis; he concludes:

    “Because of the gaps in our knowledge the approach to post normal science is different to the Kuhnian approach. Ravetz suggests that there is a wide stakeholder community that should be included in peer review, the so called extended peer community. This peer community can bring their own ‘local knowledge’ or ‘extended facts’ to the debate. It strikes me that this is another way of trying to seek concensus, rather than knowledge, truth and understanding. In many ways it strikes me as another description of what Feynmann would call ‘cargo cult science’.

    “To me Ravetz’s analysis is deeply flawed. The only approach we can take is that of the scientific method and use our knowledge of physics and chemistry to develop plausible hypotheses which we can test. If an idea cannot be developed into a testable hypotheses it remains just an idea. The theory of CO2 induced catastrophic global warming is just that: an idea that cannot be experimentally falsified. In the absence of any direct ability to test the idea we must apply common sense or Occam’s razor. For example the principle of uniformitarianism suggests that if CO2 is the dominant forcing component in the climate system then there should be abundant evidence of temperatures scaling with CO2 levels. As a first order test we can look at the Eemian intergalcial about 125,000 years ago. During this period CO2 levels were about 280ppm (100ppm below present day levels) and temperatures several degrees warmer than present. Here we see immediately that temperature is not a simple function of atmospheric CO2 levels and we have to look at other components in the climate system to explain the Eemian climate.

    “Where does this leave us. I suggest that post normal science is a social construct without meaning. It fits the current zeitgeist in which humanity is vulnerable to a multiplicity of disasters: epidemics, nuclear obliteration, global warming etc. The characterization of Kuhnian, and the scientific method as having no regard for probability, error, uncertainty and only being applicable to well controlled experimental systems in the laboratory is wrong. Finally, the only way we can fully understand the climate system is by using what we all know as the scientific method.”

    http://harmonicoscillator.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/jerome-ravetz-and-post-normal-science/

  265. Evan:

    Justifying Islamophobia: a post-9/11 consideration of the European Union and British contexts in American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences (no.3, volume 21, Summer 2004) Denver: AMSS & IIIT, pp,1-25.

    This is a section from the published essay “The EUMC report”:

    “The post-9/11 period in Europe also saw an upsurge in ethnic xenophobia, especially those that were either historical or pre-existent to 9/11, typically also either nationally or regionally constrained . So whilst this happened across the spectrum of the EU, different manifestations were identified in different settings, dependent upon the Muslim communities themselves and their particular histories, nationalities, status and ethnic backgrounds. As the report put it, the attacks on the US provided a catalyst of fear that sought to reaffirm and renew old and indeed enhance new prejudices that exaggerated the potential of the perceived enemy within.”

    The phenomenon in the US you refer to is curious – a sort of collective Stockholm syndrome?

  266. If you read it, Ravetz comments have more to do with human nature and how collective decisions get made. You don’t have to argue science to see this in action.

    A couple of years ago my daughter came home with an exam paper. Amongst the butes were questions such as “why are so many people in Africa starving” to which the correct answer was “because big American oil companies own all their oil”. People in Brazil were starving because “Folgers makes them grow coffee instead of food”.

    I went ballistic. I produced oil production records from various African countries showing that most of the oil was being pumped by European and Asian oil companies, not American. I showed that those companies were paying enormous sums of money that were not trickling down to the people. I even got statements from Folgers that they didn’t source much of their coffee from Brazil, and the Brazilian consulate provided me with their agriculture records showing that the top food 10 crops in Brazil were all larger than coffee and that they had the 2nd largest domestic cattle herd in the world. In short, the teacher’s claims were unsupported by facts or logic. What happened?

    The administration circled the wagons. They dragged the complaint process out in the hopes I would give up and go away. They asked for my sources, and then claimed that the teacher had other sources which were also credible but had to look into what they were. It took 3 months of steady effort to back them into a corner, force them to produce proper documentation for the students to make their own conclusions, and they moved the teacher to a non teaching position. But they never once admitted that he was dead wrong.

    Two important facts out of this:

    1. an organization will protect its own, regardless of fact
    2. the ONLY parent of a class of 35 students who got upset was me.

    Nothing to do with science. But the exact same issues. implausible facts, impausible logic, and an organization defending it instead of confronting it.

  267. Like Marchesarosa, I too came across PNS about a year ago, and found it vaguely offensive . It seems to share with post-modernism the odour from the dead carcase of Marxism. So, I was not surprised to see it being used as intellectual cover for the junk-science of Climatology, which also gives off the same whiffiness.

    I reckon that anything that purports to be Science, including PNS, ought to start with a statement that it really does comply with the definition of Science as laid down by its inventor Francis Bacon. His full definition can be found here:

    http://www.constitution.org/bacon/nov_org.htm

    … and I think WUWT readers who want to know whether Climatology or PNS can be classed as Science, should find the answer very amusing!

    Just as a taster, the inventor defines Science as:

    ” …. the true and lawful goal of the sciences is none other than this: that human life be endowed with new discoveries and powers”

    That’s it right there, folks! According to my lights, and confirmed by further reading, Climatology does not qualify as Science. Neither does PNS.

    PS; as another example here is Bacon on climate models:

    “mathematics …. ought only to give definiteness to natural philosophy, not to generate or give it birth. From a natural philosophy pure and unmixed, better things are to be expected. “

  268. David A (09:23:15) wrote:

    He defends not only the IPCCs use of language “intended to incite and encourage,” but it totalitarian methods, which he call moral.

    David. Thanks for bringing that up. I think the “totalitarian methods” sentence is the most revealing part of that essay.

    I intended to comment about it late last night but I couldn’t make my words behave. So I didn’t post. And this morning I saw your comments.

    The essay is long. And dense. We will all interpret it differently.

    Ravetz looks at the problem from a meta-science position. Fair enough. That comes with the territory for a professor of philosophy of science.

    Most of us can’t take a month or a year so to master the jargon and arguments of post-normal science. (Or is it past-normal science. Or para-normal science?) So it is rather useless to deal with the essay in those terms.

    Fortunately we don’t have to. Ravetz does not condone the “shoddy tricks” etc. He attempts to explain what happened.

    I was sorry to see him use a trick. He tries to tie the consequences of this matter to a rejection of climate science and even to a rejection of science itself.

    It is almost a threat when he tells us that:

    “The whole vast edifice of policy commitments for Carbon reduction, with their many policy prescriptions and quite totalitarian moral exhortations, will be at risk of public rejection. What sort of chaos would then result? The consequences for science in our civilisation would be extraordinary”

    Man might turn away from science over this? Sure, Jerome!

  269. ….Enter stage right….Mr. Gore Ladies and Gentlemen. I present to you Mr. Gore…. MR GORE. Hello Mr. Gore. Calling MR. GORE. Someone go and get Mr. Gore.

    Strangely silent isn’t he.

  270. Wow, the best essay I have read yet on the further reaching implications of doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. If this keeps building, the house of science is in for a much needed scouring.

  271. “The whole vast edifice of policy commitments for Carbon reduction, with their many policy prescriptions and quite totalitarian moral exhortations, will be at risk of public rejection.”

    Professor Ravetz, please tell me why you lament rather than praise the possible public rejection of “totalitarian moral exhortations”.

  272. Ravetz’ take on AGW is sharp; the corruption, self-referencing efforts, the suppression and choice of advocacy over truth.
    But we should be very careful to not embrace his oxymoronic vision of post-normal science that justifies exactly that degeenration of science, and truth.

  273. Ravetz does do a fine job of subjecting the failures of climate science to the glare of the spotlight. Begining from the paragraph “We can begin to see what went seriously wrong when we examine what the leading practitioners of this ‘evangelical science’ of global warming (thanks to Angela Wilkinson) took to be the plain and urgent truth in their case,” he is happy to show that things went wrong and that this lead to “evangelical science.”

    He correctly points out that they propounded as a “proven fact, Anthropogenic Carbon-based Global Warming,” and that to do this they needed to show “hockey-stick behaviour in all indicators of global temperature, so that it is all due to industrialisation.”

    However, I believe his thesis begins to go downhill from that point, as he attempts to understand the reason why it all went wrong. He erroneously states, imo, that this extreme position was a reaction to skeptics because their opposition was “only partly scientific,” and that somehow this forced the climatologists to adpot a “simple, forcefully argued position.”

    But more significant, is the way he invoked Kuhn’s description of normal science to show how Kuhn’s analysis related to the “sciences of the laboratory” that could reproduce “stable and controllable external conditions for their working.” The first hint that climate scientists are normal scientists, appears in the next sentence, when he states that “The temptation among ‘normal’ scientists is to work as if their material is as simple as in the lab.”

    As theses scientists encountered confusing and uncertain data, Ravetz notes that “these anomalies and unsolved puzzles emerged, [and] the neat, compelling picture became troubled and even confused.”

    What then is the solution to this conundrum? Should these scientists adhere more rigorously to normal science? Ravetz thinks not, because thanks to the likes of Al Gore and other political figures, “we found ourselves in another crusading ‘War’, like those on (non-alcoholic) Drugs and ‘Terror’. This new War, on Carbon, was equally simplistic, and equally prone to corruption and failure.”

    No, Ravetz is quite clear normal science is not the right way forward. He now introduces his main thesis – and it is a bombshell: “We can understand the root cause of Climategate as a case of scientists constrained to attempt to do normal science in a post-normal situation.” This is unequivocal a statement as can be made. Climate scientists cannot, and should not do normal science “because the policy implications were always present and strong, even overwhelming.”

    So, climate scientists, according to Ravetz, were doing normal science but it was the “combination of non-critical ‘normal science’ with anti-critical ‘evangelical science’ [that] was lethal.”

    This whole thesis is puzzling in that it predicates the need for post normal science on the mixture of political and evangelical pressure on a science that is based on uncertainty and contradictions. But such an action can never be right. There is only science, and that is the business that climatologists should be engaged in. So thankyou Dr Ravetz for higlighting the flaws in climate science, but don’t use that to try and smuggle in a dangerous ideology.

  274. Stephen Wilde (08:52:30) :
    So he is drawing us into PNS and inviting us to abandon normal science in return for our involvement being permitted.

    However, as with government consultations there is no guarantee that the supporters of proper science will be listened to at all. They can always be trumped by sociological imperatives once they have been drawn into the quagmire.

    In the end it’s a struggle for the means of production which in this case is ideas that can persuade or coerce the masses

    I humbly put it to you that this has been the situation since long before Jerry Ravetz was a twinkle in his father’s eye. And that’s a long time ago.

    We don’t have to stop doing proper science to hoist the alarmists on their PNS petard, we have already barged our way to the table with our ‘facts from outside the institutional framework’ and our leaked documents, and we are thumping it hard.

    Jerry’s invitation to commence dialogue is after the fact. His reinterpretation of his own concepts to include our activity on the blogosphere as legitimate PNS in action is something I see as being part of his own voluntary deprogramming. He will get crap thrown at him from both sides during the process, but he willingly stands in the full glare of the spotlight, centre stage on the most active sceptical science blog on the planet rather than slinking off into the shadows.

    For that, I salute him, and thank him for bringing these complex issues here, where we can consider them on ‘home turf’. I know he is delighted with the quality and depth of the responses his piece has engendered, and he is not one to shrink away from valid criticism. I expect he will formulate a reply to the substantive issues about money, integrity, institutional arrogance and folly, and the objectivity and methodology of science which have been raised.

    I don’t know how much further he would have had to stick his tongue in his cheek to get people to realise his comments about totalitarianism were ironic, but try to remember Marx was not Stalin. ;-)

  275. Seems to be (maybe I’m not understanding correcty) that PNS is seen by Mr. Ravetz as a process which happens (or should happen) after a ‘normal’ scientific enquiry into a problem has already taken place. It’s the ‘what comes after’ the often times ambiguous result as it applies to policy, ethics, impact on society, the environment, etc. It seems to be calling for a greater democracy where different people of various experience can weigh in and be heard outside of the normal channels of scientific investigation. (eg, is WUWT a science blog, a PNS blog, or both?)

    On the other hand, if PNS is to be defined as a replacement of normal science (as Willis and a few others are warning of), ie- if it is really about throwing the baby of normal science out with the bathwater (the problem of uncertainty and ‘irremediably soft’ results) then I don’t think PNS will be having a long history of support, except perhaps among controlling types who wish to shape humanity according to their own perculiar visions.

    Climate Science as revealed in the emails shows what happens when scientists think too much about their results in terms of ‘what comes next’. The way I see it, they put the ‘what comes next’ ahead of the ‘what is going on’ which has lead to the litany of scientific abuses which, thanks to Climategate, is now in the open for all to see.

    We can see that the science in Climate Science is still yet to be done. Is PNS excacerbating this delay? What is going on?

  276. Stu (12:50:39) :

    Seems to be (maybe I’m not understanding correcty) that PNS is seen by Mr. Ravetz as a process which happens (or should happen) after a ‘normal’ scientific enquiry into a problem has already taken place. It’s the ‘what comes after’ the often times ambiguous result as it applies to policy, ethics, impact on society, the environment, etc. It seems to be calling for a greater democracy where different people of various experience can weigh in and be heard outside of the normal channels of scientific investigation. (eg, is WUWT a science blog, a PNS blog, or both?)

    Hooray! Someone else gets it!

  277. This is a timely and superb summation of the realities and the philosophical dimensions of the phenomenon of ‘evangelical science’ (aka AGW in this case). It takes us deep into the pitfalls of science-as-advocacy and the inevitable distortions and corruptons that occur when policy and science get to close together. I like the idea of ‘extended peer review’, of which WUWT is an exellent example, to counter ‘pal review’. Many thanks Prof. Ravetz

  278. I agree with all those impressed by your analysis, and am, of course, particularly pleased with your use of my term “pal review”, which I posted on several blogs to see if it would gain currency.

  279. He does make a fair case for how “climate science” was hopelessly polarised from the very beginning. It has always been inextricably linked to political policy, and has always as such been reduced to “fer or aginst” pathology.

    I think there is a tricky language barrier between the writer and the readers of this post. Could that be? Perhaps what he attributes to ‘normal science’ is exactly what many here would attribute to post-normal science:

    1. “‘[N]ormal science’…is puzzle-solving within an unquestioned framework or ‘paradigm’.”

    2. “Issues of uncertainty and quality are not prominent in ‘normal’ scientific training, and so they are less easily conceived and managed by its practitioners.”

    3. ‘Normal’ science produces results which can be replicated in the lab – however, in the author’s view, ‘normal’ science has replaced repeatable experiments with “computer simulations, which give the appearance of solved puzzles even when neither data nor theory provide much support for the precision of their numerical outputs.”

    4. “In traditional ‘normal’ science, the peer community, performing the functions of quality-assurance and governance, is strictly confined to the researchers who share the paradigm.” He contrasts this with wider review by all on the internet, and asserts that this process is part of post-normal science.

    The sunshine the internet sheds on Academic authority has nothing at all to do with post-normal science. It is simply freedom of speech. That leaves both ‘normal science’ and post-normal science with nothing to commend them. They can both be remorselessly scrapped without ever looking back.

    There! We can now “understand Climategate, and move towards a restoration of trust.”

    A good fate for climate scientists would be to lump them into the same category as economists. Dr. Ravetz made that comparison, and I like it. We all know you can never, ever take either at face value. They always come with a policy agenda.

  280. “It seems to be calling for a greater democracy where different people of various experience can weigh in and be heard outside of the normal channels of scientific investigation. (eg, is WUWT a science blog, a PNS blog, or both?)”

    Greater democracy would certainly be a huge advance over the status quo, where pronouncments are handed down on tablets of stone from mount IPCC, from whence they are carried to every capital in the world to be turned into hardened policies to “decarbonise” the economies. That modus operandi has clearly failed, and the damage is continuing.

    In practice however, because of the polarising nature of climate science, the issues will always be bitterly divisive with no side willing to give ground. Yet, it would serve to disenfranchise current pillars of authority – the IPCC would be dethroned, as would those who claim to speak with special authority. This would of necessity, add further confusion, but this is not a bad thing. The greatest damage has been caused by policy makers acting with the absolute certainty (and arrogance) that “the science is settled.”

    With democratization, there can (at present) be no certainty, and any policies that lay claim to “the Science” wil be exposed to the full sceptical glare of public scrutiny. Perhaps that’s all Revatz is saying.

  281. ‘Perculiar’ spelling of peculiar in my post above…

    ” tallbloke (13:04:13) :

    Hooray! Someone else gets it!”

    …so ‘post’ normal science is exactly that, then? In other words, post coitus doesn’t mean to replace coitus?

  282. This essay is an example of the “never let a crisis go to waste” maxim. Professor Ravetz is hawking his post-Marxist wares on the ruins of the Leftist AGW agitprop that has passed for climate science. “Post-Normal Science” is socio-political babble for the nullification of the authority of institutional science by networks of organized “activists” with carefully constructed agendas.

    He sees that the highjacking of mainstream climate scientists by the Post-Marxist Left failed because – fundamentally as a result of the democratic nature and global reach of the internet – non-mainstreamers were in a position to critique the skewed “science” and lay bare the inadequacies – to put it mildly – of its methodologies. The CRU leak merely dramatically confirmed what had already been revealed on the central “non-peer-reviewed” blogs. The result – the dreams of Global Governance (the Fourth International writ green) vanished like an infant’s breath into the icy Copenhagen air.

    Ravetz now seeks to deconstruct the authority of mainstream science (what he unaccountably calls Normal Science which is what everyone else calls normal science without the scary, isolating capitals). He wishes, as it were, to defrock its priesthood, dispossess it of the awe and prestige with which Newton and Einstein inter multos alios have infused it in the eyes of the unscientific masses. That done, the power and authority of the old order is not, you will note, destroyed but rather dispersed more widely, thus becoming less accountable and less of a target for the likes of McIntyre, McKittrick and Watts and even more amenable to exploitation by ideologically regimented cadres.

    It is worthy of comment that while the professor takes a swipe at the “right-wing” views of some AGW skeptics he seems monumentally unaware of the all-encompassing ideological agenda of the non-scientific proponents of Carbon Catastrophism who were the “boots on the ground” using Mann’s Hockey Stick, the CRU data and IPCC reports as WMD in the battle for hearts and minds.

    It is no coincidence that AGW became so suddenly and vitally “urgent” *after* the fall of the Soviet Union when Leftists in the West were left, so to speak, stripped bare of their ideological viability. Like the hermit crab they found that the shell of the old Environmentalist Movement provided a cosy niche, after they completed – a la Greenpeace – the messy business of expelling those of the original residents who refused to be co-opted. Professor Ravetz’s post is just the newest installment in their indefatigable strategizing.

    Let the indoctrination commence!

  283. As far as I understand it PNS is closely related to the precautionary principle.
    Without mincing words the precautionary principle can be roughly translated as: I haven’t a clue what’s going on, neither do you or anybody else. Therefore, you must do as I tell you. Since obviously, when put like this, nobody is going to fall for my ploy, I then need to put things a bit more diplomatic. Science of the ordinary kind that depends on hard working clever people isn’t reliable. It may come to the conclusion that I’m wrong and you are right. Can’t have that.

    Enter science of the post-normal kind. It does away with all the dreadful drudgery and hard uncertain work of the regular kind and replaces it with things like expert panels, stakeholder assessments, extended peer communities (which most certainly is not going to include you (I’ll find a reason). And if I’m forced to include you I’ll get all democratic on you and make certain I’ve got more votes. Then I’ll call the science settled and all my political and journalistical friends will say so too and the matter will be concluded presently. Oh, and you of course get to do as I tell you.

    This is naturally a reason to bemoan the mixing of both kinds as the prof above does. He uses much more flowery language but I think that’s the gist of it.

  284. “DirkH (14:34:06) : Your comment is awaiting moderation

    tallbloke, Professor Ravetz: I have to apologize. Seems like i missed the peer-review aspect Mr. Ravetz emphasises.”

    Correct peer-review to public review. Basically, we’re all peers, but the word peer-review is reserved already for the established procedures of journals.

  285. tallbloke, I hope you are right and Ravetz responds to the critiques and interpretations himself.

    In any case, thanks for your efforts in creating and pursuing this debate.

    It does seem that Ravetz is in the process of changing sides and that his article was expressed in a way he hoped would speak to both sides. The challenges to him have been fairly, convincingly and eloquently put. Time now for his response.

  286. If Mr. Ravetz thinks post-normal science is the answer he has not read the CRU FOIA zipfile hot-proposal.doc. Post-normal science is partly what got the IPCC into such a mess. The other part is that they flat out lied by claiming the science was settled.

    If the science is settled you don’t need a PNS concensus. If you need a PNS consensus the science isn’t settled and you’re into the realms of politics and opinion. Do one or the other, not both.

  287. Please don’t close the Met Office just yet, they are a source of considerable humour still – and we need that right now – and who knows they may yet produce a corker equivalent to poor Mr Fish and his ‘no hurricane in the West Country’. They’ve been serving up imaginaary weather for many years now!
    For real forecasts: http://www.weatheraction.com

  288. tallbloke (13:04:13) :

    [....]

    Hooray! Someone else gets it!

    We did “get it”, and that is precisely why many of us object about as strongly as anyone could possibly object. Can you see any of the objections we have with the following statement?

    It seems to be calling for a greater democracy where different people of various experience can weigh in and be heard outside of the normal channels of scientific investigation.

  289. @ Willis Eschenbach

    “Bollocks. The problem with climate science is that the tenets of “normal” science, which are heavily concerned with uncertainty, are being ignored. Issues of uncertainty are to the forefront in normal science.”

    Oh so well put.

  290. James Delingpole (08:31:04) :

    “Climategate happened because of Post Normal Science. Not despite it.”

    Spot on James.

    I can only say again that the mess which is the now 20 year old global climate field is the epitome of post-normal science, a mess created and shaped by its adherents. Whenever an evaluation is done of the merits of that philosophy, these scandals are the evidence as to its results in practice.

    It would take a lot of refining, with the climate CRU-type abomination taken fully into consideration, before it should raise its head again.

  291. liamascorcaigh (14:09:10) :

    . . . It is worthy of comment that while the professor takes a swipe at the “right-wing” views of some AGW skeptics he seems monumentally unaware of the all-encompassing ideological agenda of the non-scientific proponents of Carbon Catastrophism who were the “boots on the ground” using Mann’s Hockey Stick, the CRU data and IPCC reports as WMD in the battle for hearts and minds.

    It is no coincidence that AGW became so suddenly and vitally “urgent” *after* the fall of the Soviet Union when Leftists in the West were left, so to speak, stripped bare of their ideological viability. Like the hermit crab they found that the shell of the old Environmentalist Movement provided a cosy niche, after they completed – a la Greenpeace – the messy business of expelling those of the original residents who refused to be co-opted. Professor Ravetz’s post is just the newest installment in their indefatigable strategizing.

    Let the indoctrination commence!

    Brilliant! The hermit-crab metaphor is perfect! Thanks for putting the climate alarmism movement back polluted ideological shore where it belongs.

    /Mr Lynn

  292. tallbloke (13:04:13)

    Stu (12:50:39) :

    Seems to be (maybe I’m not understanding correcty) that PNS is seen by Mr. Ravetz as a process which happens (or should happen) after a ‘normal’ scientific enquiry into a problem has already taken place. It’s the ‘what comes after’ the often times ambiguous result as it applies to policy, ethics, impact on society, the environment, etc. It seems to be calling for a greater democracy where different people of various experience can weigh in and be heard outside of the normal channels of scientific investigation. (eg, is WUWT a science blog, a PNS blog, or both?)

    Hooray! Someone else gets it!

    Well, I sure don’t get it. When Ravetz says that “… the puzzle-solving approach of ‘normal science’ is obsolete,” how on earth are you twisting that to a claim that PNS is “a process which happens (or should happen) after a ‘normal’ scientific enquiry into a problem has already taken place.”???? If normal science is “obsolete”, that means it should not be used. Where in that is any clue that PNS happens after normal science has had its say?

  293. DirkH (14:34:06) :

    tallbloke, Professor Ravetz: I have to apologize. Seems like i missed the peer-review aspect Mr. Ravetz emphasises.

    I had a bad taste after reading this piece by Mike Hulme:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2007/mar/14/scienceofclimatechange.climatechange

    Now it seems to me like he hijacked the concept of post-normal science and perverted it in the process. Sorry, misunderstanding on my side.

    Dirk, thank you, I appreciate that, and agree with your assessment. I think the key point is that the concept of PNS is more an observation than an ideology. If one side picks up the ball and runs with it, that doesn’t make it their exclusive property.

    It seems to me that Jerry is acknowledging the legitimacy of the more balanced and better informed part of the sceptical blogosphere. This has to be a good thing, though e don’t need anyone’s approval to be effective in ways he woud characterise as ‘post normal’. I hope Willis can see that the way his work has had a much bigger outreach via this site is itself a ‘post normal science’ situation. Who needs peer reviewed journals taking a big chunk of money off you to hide your work behnd a paywall when many thousands read this blog monthly?

    I guess that answers Stu’s question too.

  294. Willis Eschenbach (15:39:02) :

    Well, I sure don’t get it. When Ravetz says that “… the puzzle-solving approach of ‘normal science’ is obsolete,” how on earth are you twisting that to a claim that PNS is “a process which happens (or should happen) after a ‘normal’ scientific enquiry into a problem has already taken place.”????

    Maybe you missed the answer I gave to this earlier?
    tallbloke (05:17:17) :
    Willis Eschenbach (02:58:56) :

    To me, saying that the “approach of ‘normal science’ is obsolete” is arguing strongly “against science being done properly in the first place”. What am I missing here?

    The context of the argument I think. As I read him, it is the approach of ‘normal science’ as applied to policy formation which is obsolete and must giove way to more democratic forms with wider terms of reference.

    So, rather than some boffin telling us that ‘this is how it is’ and the government getting away with handing down the policy from on high without further debate, Ravetz is saying, “hang on, we need views from other people here, including those of investigative journalists and people bearing leaked documents. (He wrote that before the CRU leak by the way). This militates for us not against.

    The problem is not that the outputs of science are abused. It is that the scientific process is not being followed, so that there are no valid “outputs of science” to be abused.

    As I said in my earlier reply, I doubt you’d get any argument from Jerry on that score. Integrity is a pre-requisite for useful knowledge production. He acknowledged that he’d missed emphasising that when I confronted him with Scientist For Truth’s piece some weeks ago.
    ==============================================

    Basically PNS isn’t an excuse for bad science. You put your analysis of climate models on this blog for open peer review last year. That’s post normal science in action.

    We don’t have to use PNS in the way it’s been (ab)used by the Hockey team. We can make something better of it. If the current gatekeepers of science shun us for it, that’ll be their loss in the long run. Truth will win. We will win. That’s what I believe.

  295. Maybe as an example, we could look at the previous NOAA webpage graphic of arctic sea ice extent (WUWT: NOAA’s new website climate.gov – a first day sin of omission) with its dates only going up to 2007, but not 2008 or 2009, as an illustration of a PNS interpretation of a ‘normal’ scientific measurement?

    The new image displaying only 2009 (still under the average) leaves out the rest of the data. Why did NOAA do that? The graphic still isn’t ‘the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’, as it leaves out the fact that the ice has undergone a slight recovery since 2007. They could show the whole series and still claim that the ice is in general retreat, but that would look more complicated than the current image. Is that PNS?

    So… perhaps the difference is that normal science would show the whole data, but the PNS process seems to be in part about repackaging the ‘truth’ down into smaller, less ambiguous parts tailored towards particular political points of view, levels of understanding, etc. ?

    I’m wondering whether PNS has developed in part due to the publics greater sophistication in spotting advocacy science, therefore necessitating a new term in order to differentiate between actual science and these kinds of interpretations, or whether it has developed because the public are clueless and it is imagined that we all need to be told what to think? Or to put it another way- will PNS allow us greater tools to be able to deal with and talk about scientific ambiguities in more responsible, inclusive and informed and effective ways, or will it simply all be geared towards the cynical marketting of ideas and the flattening of real knowledge in the service of various ambitions?

    Stay tuned!

  296. “Pat Frank (10:24:08)” responding to “John Whitman (01:18:31)” wrote;

    ”””” . . . Likewise, science is not concerned with any metaphysical reality. It does not postulate an external universe and is not concerned with essences or with the nature of things . . . ”””””’

    Pat, first I would like to say that I think we have started an excellent discussion. Unfortunately it occurs late in this post, so therefore likely to break off soon as we move on to newer posts. Let’s look for each other early in future WUWT posts where our discussion of science & philosophy can continue to be relevant to the post subject. I am in Taiwan on business for next several months, so we may be on very different times . . . patience needed to continue this good discussion.

    Regarding your above comment, please correct me if I am wrong, I think that you are maintaining that there is a kind of ultimate reality that man cannot know and therefore man & his science cannot address it. And likewise, I think you are maintaining that what science does study is some kind of lower reality, a practical reality that is useful but not the “real” reality. These are philosophical issues.

    I think that approach is consistent with Plato’s philosophy which led to Kantian philosophy and Hegelian philosophy . . . . ultimately to all post modern philosophy.

    I maintain the “one reality” tradition in philosophy is valid and that man with his science has the natural capacity and natural ability to know that one reality.

    John

  297. The apologists for Ravetz should really study where his post-normal science ends up. Mike Hulme embraced it and ended up promoting a quasi-religious and political view of climate science. Why do you think Ravetz’s views are so attractive to Islamists? Because traditional normal science is viewed as ‘Western’ and disconnected from politics and religion. Ravetz’s post-normal science is a game changer – it can turn science into the service of any kind of worldview, especially Islam. This comment is not a criticism of Islam or any other religion – but I do want readers to know what is going on.

    I mentioned Ziauddin Sardar in an earlier comment. He is the author of the book ‘Why do people hate America?’. In another of his books ‘The Touch of Midas: science, values, and environment in Islam and the West’, Sardar describes Ravetz as a “Western science historian and mystic”. I repeat what Mohd Hazim Shah wrote about Sardar and Ravetz in his essay ‘Contemporary Muslim Intellectuals and Their Responses to Modern Science and Technology’ (in ‘Studies in Contemporary Islam’ Volume 3 Number 2 Fall 2001):

    “Sardar, like a conservative Muslim, insists that development, including the development of modern science and technology, should come under the purview of the Islamic faith. Sardar’s so-called Islamic critique of science is really a Western critique of science dressed in Islamic lingo. In fact, his numerous references to Western critics of science, such as Roszak, Jerome Ravetz, Marcuse, and others—the gurus of the counterculture movement of the 1970s—betray the Western origins of his critique of science…His close association, and in some cases collaboration, with Jerome Ravetz is of some interest in this regard, especially when we note Ravetz’s status as a major critic of science in Britain in the 1970s”

    What sort of collaboration? Well, Sardar worked closely with Ravetz the Mystic, and they even were joint-editors. As Ravetz himself says

    “With Zia Sardar I have engaged in studies of the future…Now that science is so obviously influenced, and in some cases deformed, by the agendas of power and profit, even the concepts of Post-Normal Science need to be enriched if they are to continue to offer useful critical insights.”

    What sort of future and enrichment did he have in mind? Yasmeen Mahnaz Faruqi in the article ‘Islamic view of nature and values: Could these be the answer to building bridges between modern science and Islamic science’ (International Education Journal, 2007, 8(2), 461-469) cites Ravetz:

    Contemporary Muslim and non-Muslim scholars have recognized that scientific knowledge is not necessarily neutral and objective, but instead carries values and concepts that are explicit to modern Western culture (Rehman, 2003). Therefore this has resulted in a concerted effort by contemporary Islamic scholars to call for an ‘Islamic science’ or the ‘Islamization of knowledge’ (…Ravetz, 1991).

    And just what was that paper by sole author Jerry Ravetz? Not one you’ll find on his website, for obvious reasons (would give the game away).

    Ravetz, J.R., Prospects for an Islamic science, Futures, April 1991, pp. 262-272

    in the journal collaboration ‘Futures’ with Sardar. Don’t forget that 1991 was the year that Ravetz launched his Post-Normal Science.

    And just what are the prospects for an ISLAMIC science in his Post-Normal Science, post-scientific age? Let Ravetz speak for himself (emphasis mine):

    “A possible relationship may be derived from the complex metaphysical relationship between monotheism and the development of science. This article tracks these developments through the rise of secularization, the decline of scientism, and monotheism and polytheism in the coming ‘post-scientific age’. In its moral outlook and emphasis on commitment and surrender, the POSSIBILITY AND NECESSITY of an Islamic science are to be found.”

    Right. So in the same year, 1991, he switches on Islamists to his ideas and concurrently switches on Western science to his ideas. To slightly parody Faruqi “Could post-normal science be the answer to building bridges between modern science and Islamic science?”

    Remember his collaborator Sardar, who “like a conservative Muslim, insists that…the development of modern science and technology should come under the purview of the Islamic faith”.

    Can’t you see? Ravetz is part of the movement destroying Western enlightenment science. In his earlier days he thought that could be achieved through Marxism. That all changed in the late 1980s with the fall of communism. Now it’s Islam’s turn, but they can’t make it so obvious can they. By introducing PNS into the IPCC (classically post-normal according to Hulme) they make a (now prominent) branch of science stink in the eyes of the world when they see the corruption. Ravetz and Hulme enter at this stage to increase the evidence of the corruption. The corrosion of science to Western values will become more and more apparent, ushering in science according to a different worldview (Ravetz orininally thought this would be Marxism, but Islam is today’s better choice). As I pointed out in the introduction to my blog post

    http://buythetruth.wordpress.com/2009/10/31/climate-change-and-the-death-of-science/

    “Ravetz and Hulme jointly authored an article, published by the BBC on December 1, entitled ‘Show Your Working’: What ‘ClimateGate’ means in which they sought to promote post-normal science further by capitalizing on the public disgust at the corruption of ‘normal’ science. This is cynical because normal science was corrupted by covertly introducing post-normal activities in the first place.”

    Meanwhile, Ziauddin Sardar, Ravetz’s collaborator and author of ‘Why do People Hate America’ is a prolific writer in the western self-loathing and US-hating press in the UK. As the blurb on his book states:

    “Ziauddin Sardar is a prolific writer and an insightful cultural commentator…In the UK, he is known as a leading intellectual and his regular contributions to the Observer, the Independent and the New Statesman have brought his writings to a wide audience. As one of our most high-profile Muslim intellectuals, he has also become an increasingly important voice in the media since the events of September 11th 2001.”

    I read physics at Oxford in the 1970s (incidentally my sister was at Leeds University, where Ravetz then was, and she came out a Marxist Leninist). I can tell you, Oxford is a huge target currently for Islamization – if Oxford is ‘captured’ then ‘Western’ science will follow.

    OK guys. If you want to follow the mystical pied piper there, I can’t stop you. But I will warn you again – you are being suckered.

  298. Alan Wilkinson (14:44:04) :

    tallbloke, I hope you are right and Ravetz responds to the critiques and interpretations himself.

    In any case, thanks for your efforts in creating and pursuing this debate.

    It does seem that Ravetz is in the process of changing sides and that his article was expressed in a way he hoped would speak to both sides. The challenges to him have been fairly, convincingly and eloquently put. Time now for his response.

    Thanks Alan, I’ve passed on your request, and I know Jerry does intend to respond with a followup in due course. He is not one to shrink from valid criticism.

  299. Chuckles (09:31:07) :

    @James Delingpole (8:31:04)

    “Guys, I think some of you may need to get your weaselry detectors fixed. Climategate happened because of Post Normal Science. Not despite it.”

    Thank you James, somebody gets it.

    People, this is NOT some newly thought up weasel justification for Climategate. The whole IPCC process and all the science associated with it, is post-normal science.

    If I thought Ravetz were saying that this is a positive description of climate science, but is not normative, then I might join you in your acceptance of his essay. But I think you miss his, and the, point. Let’s accept that IPCC and all the science associated with it, is PNS. He’s arguing that PNS is the way it should be (“normative”), not simply that it is just the way it is (“positive”). In other words, he’s making a value statement about PNS (it is good), and is championing it.

    So let me ask you: are you championing the “The whole IPCC process and all the science associated with it?” Because if not, then you’ve let the fox into your hen house by approving of what Ravetz is saying. It seems to me that his only fear is that the PNS case for AGW be on the verge of collapsing, and he’s not happy about. Well, if the “whole IPCC process and all the science associated with it” is a house of cards starting to collapse, then I’m ticked pink. But not Ravetz.

  300. “marchesarosa (07:52:07)” wrote:

    ””” Ravetz . [his]. . first book was an early attempt to shift the philosophy of science from epistemology to the social and ethical aspects of science. . .[but] . . . Epistemology is the study of “theories of knowledge”. Effectively it means “how do we know what we think we know? . . . Ravetz’s agenda is to redefine not just the scientific method but knowledge itself. . . . ”””’

    marchesarosa, your comment is interesting. Do you think it is his (Ravetz) intent to show that scientific knowledge is less objective (i.e. not focused on reality) and therefore more subjective (based on arbitrary current/fashionable social mores)?

    I haven’t read his book, so if I say anything it would just be an assumption about him.

    John

  301. Willis Eschenbach (23:53:22)

    Spot on my friend (and your later comments). This item makes me think of a dessicated, bloodless weasel, probably what could be expected from a modern British philosopher. I suspect that the ‘poison in the pot’ to which ScientistForTruth (04:06:16) refers may be Warfarin.

    Post normal science is:

    1. not science
    2. an attempt to highjack science’s success for failed political ends

  302. This idea of “extended peer review” has been called by other names in the past. It’s nothing new. ‘Peer-2-Peer review’ is how I have seen it most often referred to in other places.

    While Ravetz’s post points to p2pr as a good thing going forward, on which I wholeheartedly agree, we mustn’t gloss over the fatal flaw in Ravetz’s analysis. As Willis rightly points out, it is the practice of ‘PNS’ itself that has caused this terrible, terrible mess. It is the practice of ‘PNS’ itself which has helped to drive policy that is unsupported by the data.

  303. John Whitman (15:55:55), John, you wrote, “I think that you are maintaining that there is a kind of ultimate reality that man cannot know and therefore man & his science cannot address it. And likewise, I think you are maintaining that what science does study is some kind of lower reality, a practical reality that is useful but not the “real”

    You’re right; those are very philosophical issues. :-) But I wasn’t maintaining anything about higher or lower realities. Science as such doesn’t care about any assumed reality. Humans may care about such things. Scientists may also care about such things when in their thinking is not focused on science.

    Science itself does not include such things, however. To illustrate, there is no theory of science that begins with, ‘Assume the universe,’ ‘Assume reality,’ or ‘Assume an observable lower reality reflecting a higher reality.’ Galileo did no such thing for his science, nor Newton, Lavoisier, Priestly, Darwin, Einstein or Dirac, among so many others.

    Physical theories begin as efforts to explain observables. There is no philosophical content to theory. No reality is assumed. No essences are described, and no nature is invoked. Observables arrive unbidden into our senses or our instruments, and we attempt to derive theories that explain them in some internally coherent fashion. The theories must be deductively falsifiable, and they must be internally consistent; ideally back to fundamental physical theory.

    As soon as science was grounded on observables, it ceased any connection to philosophy.

    It’s certainly true that people, especially in the past, tried to project their personal philosophies into science; by imposing theological heliocentrism on Astrophysics for example, or by asserting a theological ladder of being as the basis for Biology. But these efforts have inevitably failed, because no philosophical system axiomatically inheres perfect and complete knowledge.

    Since Darwin, we clearly no longer need philosophy to explain our place, nor our capacities. Appeals to human nature to rationalize our ability to understand are not necessary.

    So far, for example, the only discontinuities in physical reality involve quanta, however even quanta do not imply physical discontinuity because all of physical reality is likely to be explained by a single quantum theory.

    So, there is no need to fear or to invoke philosophical multiplicities of realities excluding humans from an ability to understand their position in existence. There is no evidence for upper or lower levels of reality. Everything observable has so far been explicable in terms of physical theory. It’s true that Relativity and quantum mechanics are in some conflict. But no one doubts that a more inclusive theory will have each as a limiting case.

    Good luck in Taiwan. I expect you’re eating well. :-) And we are separated by a significant time differential. Best wishes.

  304. As Willis rightly points out, it is the practice of ‘PNS’ itself that has caused this terrible, terrible mess.

    No amount of practice will help a man deal with PMS. There are no mitigation strategies. There are however, feedback loops, all negative. and they amplify each other.

    Oh… p N s. My mistake. Never mind. ouch. ouch. ouch. wife reading over shoulder…hitting hitting hitting….

  305. ….A ways back, I kind of felt that the AGW movement, at least at the top echelons of power, was actually a front for Peak Oil.

  306. ..that is, policy initiatives that would not reveal peak oil, which has/had/will force massive changes which could culminte in hoarding, social strife and unrest and the like. And then today Branson is all over the shop to day about a 5 year metric of some sort. Sort of AGW being an effeminate approach to the more sinister, and permanent Peak Oil. Which, thanks to Gore and his fleet of GulF Streams and Chryslers, is alot nearer.

  307. Warning.

    Ravetz a altruistic Shepard or a wolf in sheep clothing.

    See writup and 27 comments at

    http://buythetruth.wordpress.com/2009/10/31/climate-change-and-the-death-of-science/

    Normal science is all there is. PNS is not science it is “science politics” or rhetoric. Ravetz’ talk of recovering the IPCC and the AGW model is unacceptable. Ravetz and Hulme have been predicting this for some time now and are in place to try and save the IPCC and its hoax. Furthermore, Ravetz’ talk of modifying science and increasing the public trust is malarkey. The very fact that the public is skeptical is exactly what will always keep science humble. No amount of bureaucratic controls will make us comfortable or complacent. Ravetz’ and Hulme are trying to preserve scientists in the clergy position. As a scientist myself I think a little bit of public skepticism is a good thing.

    also check, http://mikehulme.org/

    And http://www.tyndall.ac.uk/

    Read some of the white papers by Ravetz and Hulme. Decide for yourself.

    Thx,

  308. tallbloke (15:51:39) : edit

    Willis Eschenbach (15:39:02) :

    Well, I sure don’t get it. When Ravetz says that “… the puzzle-solving approach of ‘normal science’ is obsolete,” how on earth are you twisting that to a claim that PNS is “a process which happens (or should happen) after a ‘normal’ scientific enquiry into a problem has already taken place.”????

    Maybe you missed the answer I gave to this earlier?
    tallbloke (05:17:17) :
    Willis Eschenbach (02:58:56) :

    To me, saying that the “approach of ‘normal science’ is obsolete” is arguing strongly “against science being done properly in the first place”. What am I missing here?

    The context of the argument I think. As I read him, it is the approach of ‘normal science’ as applied to policy formation which is obsolete and must giove way to more democratic forms with wider terms of reference.

    So, rather than some boffin telling us that ‘this is how it is’ and the government getting away with handing down the policy from on high without further debate, Ravetz is saying, “hang on, we need views from other people here, including those of investigative journalists and people bearing leaked documents. (He wrote that before the CRU leak by the way). This militates for us not against.

    I fear that, despite your attempts to twist his words into some reasonable meaning, I still don’t get it. This, of course, may be my own fault.

    Perhaps, tallbloke, you could make a clear and simple distinction between normal and post-normal science, supported by quotes from Ravetz. Because what I read of his, and what you say he means, seem totally different to me.

    For example, Ravetz says:

    We can begin to see what went seriously wrong when we examine what the leading practitioners of this ‘evangelical science’ of global warming (thanks to Angela Wilkinson) took to be the plain and urgent truth in their case. This was not merely that there are signs of exceptional disturbance in the ecosphere due to human influence, nor even that the climate might well be changing more rapidly now than for a very long time.

    Say what? What “signs of exceptional disturbance” is he talking about? What basis is there for his claim that “the climate might well be changing more rapidly now than for a very long time”? This is nothing but advocacy disguised as science, and Ravetz accepts it as his starting without a single probing thought.

    I see no signs of “exceptional disturbance”, which is exceptionally disturbing. Where is Ravetz’s exceptional evidence for such an “exceptional disturbance”?

    If you start from fanciful unsupported position like that, I’m sure you can prove anything. However, at the end of the day, it doesn’t actually work. It’s like the old joke about how many legs a cow has, if you consider a tail to be a leg.*

    But that is exactly the problem with post normal science. Ravetz has swallowed the AGW lie whole, because he can’t be bothered with the “obsolete” normal scientific ideas like evidence and falsifiability. Instead, he accepts the lie, and then looks elsewhere for the reasons that the ship has gone off course.

    But the reason the ship is off course is precisely the lie that Ravetz has already accepted, the idea that the current situation is “exceptional”.

    So tallbloke, perhaps you could explain to me, in some very clear way, what you think is “normal science”, and exactly how it differs from “post normal science”. Because as far as I can see, PNS is not science, it is politics.

    Yes, Ravetz says that we need more people involved in the scientific process, which is good. But what is not good is that he seems to be talking about some other scientific process than the one that has served us so well for so many years. To me, Ravetz appears to follow the White Queen school of science, viz:

    ‘I ca’n’t believe that!’ said Alice.

    ‘Can’t you?’ the Queen said in a pitying tone. ‘Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.’

    Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said ‘one ca’n’t believe impossible things.’

    ‘I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. `When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’

    Ravetz doesn’t seem to see that it is the believing of impossible things that is the problem. He believes them before breakfast, and as a result he thinks the problem is how those impossible beliefs played out in the political arena. As I said before, the problem is not how the Hockeystick was morphed into a pseudoscientific club with which to beat AGW opponents. The problem is that the Hockeystick was a fraud and a fake.

    And it was not noticed precisely because people bought into PNS, they didn’t think that it was important to follow the procedures of normal science. They, like Ravetz, believe impossible things because the ideas appealed to them. They, like Ravetz, scorn “obsolete” scientific norms like evidence and replicability and transparency.

    In other words, as far as I can see, “post-normal science” is not the solution. It is the problem.

    But like I said, perhaps I don’t really grasp the nuances, perhaps I lack the deep Yoda-like understanding of the Force that allows a genius like Ravetz to sense that there are “signs of exceptional disturbance in the ecosphere” without providing the slightest scrap of evidence for the existence of said disturbances … tallbloke, I await your explanation, as these waters seem to be too deep for me.

    w.

    * How many legs does a cow have, if you consider a tail to be a leg? Four … because except in Post Normal Science, considering a tail a leg doesn’t make it one …

  309. I am stunned this article is even on WUWT and even more stunned at the responses to it by many people.

    “Post-normal science” – this man’s raison d’etre – is “consensus science”, eg as in “the science is settled – the consensus of opinion is AGW is real”.

    Isn’t that the mantra of the AGW cultists on the other side of the debate? Isn’t that how we got into this mess in the first place?

    I read the article, started reading some of the (mostly supportive) comments, then went and spent an hour trawling through the website “Post-Normal Times” and its associated blogs.

    Talk about an AGW-cultist’s paradise. There you will find everything AGW from “AGW is real” and the “need” for carbon taxes, to “deniers should be jailed – or worse”, and everything in between.

    I stopped counting the word “deniers” after finding it 25 times in less than ten minutes. I found, without really looking, three bitter ad hominem attacks on the WUWT website and Watts himself.

    A word search of this article shows the following: the word “fraud” does not appear at all, and the words “corrupt” and “corruption” only appear in total three times; twice referring to the “inevitable” corruption that “eventually” occurred (because “post-normal science” wasn’t applied), and once explaining how, with the adoption of “post-normal science”, (cleverly disguised as a compliment to the bloggers and researchers like WUWT) is less likely to happen in the future.

    Get a grip folks: this article is nothing more than one of the elite of the enemy’s intelligentsia, somewhere far-left of Stalin for the last 20 years, suddenly realising the wind has changed, and deciding to go sit on the fence for a while to see which way the funding goes.

    That and a “they only meant well” apologetic explanation for the fraud, lies and corruption over the past twenty years perpetrated by “scientists” cut from the same cloth as Ravetz himself. Plus an unashamed plug for “consensus science” itself.

    Well I have news for the good doctor: there is something of a revolution starting, and as in all revolutions, the peasants aren’t going to be appeased until heads have rolled – lots of them.

    The entire credibility of science – ALL science, not just the “climate” variety, will continue to evaporate until and unless the likes of Hansen, Mann, Jones, Houghton, Pachauri and the rest are behind bars, preferably in the company of a lot of ex-politicians.

    I am somewhat dismayed that the erstwhile highly-intelligent people behind WUWT would be “honoured” to post this article.

    And equally dismayed that such a large chunk of their equally intelligent readers could be so taken in by such a transparent attempt by an old leopard to appear to be changing his spots.

  310. Re: memory vault (Feb 10 19:26),

    I am somewhat dismayed that the erstwhile highly-intelligent people behind WUWT would be “honoured” to post this article.

    I take honored as in ” honored guests and members”, as one bows to the adversary in Japanese martial arts :). ( I use a post normal politeness language :) )

    And equally dismayed that such a large chunk of their equally intelligent readers could be so taken in by such a transparent attempt by an old leopard to appear to be changing his spots.

    Never underestimate the power of blarney, in the sense of skillful flattery. After being called denials for so long it feels good that a leopard considers the other POV. On the first reading, I was taken for a ride until I hit the last paragraphs.

  311. Anthony, this is a good essay. Itwould have been excellent if it had been more concise and if he had done a better job of sharpening hi thesis. Had he done so Willis Eschenbach and a few others would have understood his main point that the old peer review procees (old boy/girl network) is essentially dead because the blogosphere won’t let its abuses continue in the future. This fact incidently will also inffuse more honesty (and fear) into the minds of otherwis ‘pal’ reviewers.

    Normal anything has generally ceased to exist. We have a crisis of morality in all spheres (CEOs of banks, businesses; religious leaders engaging in formerly unthinkable behaviors and breaches of trust; Nobel Prizes handed out for political chicanery, means unabashedly justified by the ends, degrsdation of language, civility and other dumbing down aspects ….). Tell me how science could have escaped this plague? It didn’t. And that’s why we have bogus climate science. WUandSTcoffee!

    One other thing missed by everyboby Is our prof didn’t have to wait until the investigations of UEA and Penn St U were completed before boldly calling a spade a spade. This is laudable in itself. Bravo Anthony and our phil of science.

  312. Willis Eschenbach (19:07:57) :

    Yep, I’m on your side.

    Post normal science is a confusion with the normal advance of normal science. It does not even deserve as different name – unless it’s simply “progress”.

    The bigger worry is activism and its publicity, distorting normal science. Some of it gets quite hateful.

    Predictably, we try to examine concepts in terms of our experience. Imagine trying to go about the rather difficult science of finding a new ore deposit, if some of the time you are sitting down debating if you are being normal or post normal, or activist or not, or left wing or right wing, or dogma-driven or not.

    It’s laughable.

  313. Quote: memory vault (19:26:20) :

    “I am stunned this article is even on WUWT and even more stunned at the responses to it by many people.”

    I agree with most of what you say, except that I am delighted to see Professor Jerome Ravetz of Oxford University expose himself on WUWT.

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel

  314. Geoff Sherrington (20:42:46)

    Willis Eschenbach (19:07:57) :

    Yep, I’m on your side.

    Post normal science is a confusion with the normal advance of normal science. It does not even deserve as different name – unless it’s simply “progress”.

    Me, I’m confused about what “post normal science” actually is. I’m waiting for tallboy (or the Professor) to give us a good, clean, usable, two or three sentence definition of PNS that distinguishes it from normal science.

    Because so far, all I have is enough waffle and erudite confabulation to fill a large room, but nothing that would enable me to say “This is PNS and this is not …”

  315. GaryPearse (20:28:29) : edit

    Anthony, this is a good essay. Itwould have been excellent if it had been more concise and if he had done a better job of sharpening hi[s] thesis.

    Gary, what is his thesis? That’s what I find hard to get a handle on.

  316. Well, right off we have:

    Climategate is particularly significant because it cannot be blamed on the well-known malign influences from outside science, be they greedy corporations or an unscrupulous State.

    Oh really? But not to worry, as per usual it’s probably all the fault of the evil Corporations, after all. Or else who are the “special interests” Ravetz is talking about here:

    First, the early opposition to any claim of climate change was only partly scientific; the tactics of the opposing special interests were such as to induce the proponents to adopt a simple, forcefully argued position.

    Right, Climate Science was forced to go all “tribal”, as usual, instead of doing real Science, whlich it never did, still hasn’t done, and is exactly why we are even here talking about it. Which we shouldn’t have had to do in the first place and which has nothing to do with assaults from opposing “tribes”, or with arguments about who is the meaner tribe or the bigger victim.

    There really isn’t anything complicated about it all, except for the problem of undoing the evil web weaved by “malign influences”, currently being exposed and defined.

    And it distresses me a little to hear even “Philosophers” talk this way. But apparently it’s all the rage to have everything be Post Normal, as opposed to seeing it for what it really is, grossly Regressive and an affront to Humanity.

  317. “memory vault (19:26:20)”

    I agree with your analysis, except in that the publication of Ravetz’s argument, such as it is, here is fine with me. It’s strange that our self-annointed betters make so little sense, while so dedicatedly trying to destroy all meaning. Or maybe it’s not so strange!

    I know, let’s take a vote. Whatever a “vote” is, which I guess we’ll have to vote on, too, and so on.

  318. Man, the more I read about “Post Normal Science”, the more disgusted I get. Here’s Ravetz raving … Try reading it, and see if your brain falls out like mine did. I quote:

    It is when the textbook analogy fails, that science in the policy context must become post-normal. When facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high, and decisions urgent the traditional guiding principle of research science, the goal of achievement of truth or at least of factual knowledge, must be substantially modified. In post-normal conditions, such products may be a luxury, indeed an irrelevance. Here, the guiding principle is a more robust one, that of quality.

    It could well be argued that quality has always been the effective principle in practical research science, but it was largely ignored by the dominant philosophy and ideology of science. For post-normal science, quality becomes crucial, and quality refers to process at least as much as to product. It is increasingly realised in policy circles that in complex environment issues, lacking neat solutions and requiring support from all stakeholders, the quality of the decision-making process is absolutely critical for the achievement of an effective product in the decision. This new understanding applies to the scientific aspect of decision-making as much as to any other.

    Say what? A few of the questions that this brings up, in no particular order:

    What is the meaning of “quality” in that context?

    How is “quality” to be measured?

    Who defines what is “quality” and what is not?

    How on earth can the “achievement of truth” be “an irrelevance”?

    Why is “quality” better than “falsifiability”? In other words, is a high-quality falsehood better than a low-quality fact?

    How can we tell if we have a “quality” decision or not?

    How is “quality” more “robust” than scientific investigation?

    How can we determine when the “textbook analogy” has failed?

    What is the “textbook analogy” when it is at home, anyhow? Ravetz says “Contrary to the impression conveyed by textbooks, most problems in practice have more than one plausible answer; and many have no answer at all.” Hello? I’d say he’s been reading the wrong textbooks if he believes that.

    Why do environmental (or any other) decisions require “support from all stakeholders”? I recall very, very few decisions in any field that fit that straitjacket.

    How do we know that “quality has always been the effective principle in practical research science”?

    What makes Ravetz think that “quality” (whatever that might be) has been “ignored by the dominant philosophy and ideology of science.”?

    And most importantly, we have used plain old “normal” science for several hundreds of years. We have used it with or without his freakin’ “textbook analogy”. We have used it for situations with huge uncertainties. The scientific method is tried and tested. So the big question is …

    Why should we now throw the tested and successful scientific method over in the name of some vague, undefined, unmeasurable mumbo-jumbo called “quality”?

    tallbloke, you’ve got to help me here with some very clear answers to those questions, because as far as I am concerned, this is psychobabble, and very dangerous psychobabble at that. Anything could be justified in the name of “quality”, and for me, that means it is an extremely “low-quality” concept …

    Ravetz has done a very clever and very sneaky thing in his essay. He has pretended that the problem is that we have not been using his magical “post normal science”, simply because many people have been excluded from the discussion. He uses this as a hook to con people into thinking that we need post normal science.

    But the problem is the reverse of that. As Melanie Phillips points out, the problem is that Jones and his co-conspirators have been using post normal science … oooh, very tricksy bad Professor, what has he got in his pocketsss, precious? Anyone who can fool people into believing that scientific truth is an irrelevance, as Ravetz claims above, is a very dangerous man. The truth may be ugly, it may be damaging, it may be confusing, but it is never, ever irrelevant.

    That’s how we got into this situation, by people believing that the truth is irrelevant, by people claiming what counts is the “process” and the “quality”. Believing in “quality” is not science of any kind, post-normal or not. It is blind, asinine medieval faith at its worst. Quality as a scientific measure? Get real.

  319. Willis Eschenbach (20:58:21) :

    Me, I’m confused about what “post normal science” actually is. I’m waiting for tallboy (or the Professor) to give us a good, clean, usable, two or three sentence definition of PNS that distinguishes it from normal science.

    It’s observable that people who disagree with you often seem to get your name wrong. Equally observable is the way they wilfully mischaracterise the import of ideas they take a dislike too, and highlight only failures rather than take a balanced view.

    However, I’ll attempt to fullfil your request.

    Normal science proceeds by forming an institutionally driven narrative of the grounding of a field of study, within which trained practitioners produce papers which advance that corpus of knowledge by addition and extension, verified and approved by the upper echelons of that specialism via peer review. Where there is conflict of competing ideas within a speciality, it is kept in-house, Halton Arp is denied telescope time, Fred Singer and Roger Pielke are sidelined, and the faux consensus move forward, and no-one outside the discipline is any the wiser for a while.

    When the products of science are called for in support of a policy decision, the institution uses it’s power to stifle internal dissent, and a unified picture is presented. This is necessitated by the requirement of policy makers for clear lines of evidence, and since they represent the funding body, the scientific institutions make sure they get it.

    The tenets of Post Normal Science demand that ‘outsiders’ get the opportunity to have input to the policy forming process. Jerry Ravetz writes:
    “This new peer community can also deploy ‘extended facts’, including local and personal experience, as well as investigative journalism and leaked sources. So Post-Normal Science is inevitably political, and involves a new extension of legitimacy and power”.

    Now, because of his allegiances, personal prediliction etc Jerry Ravetz personally backed the wrong horse and went down the wrong path, but this doesn’t mean that we should reject the more useful of the insights he has had on the process of knowledge use and policy formation. And as you note, he didn’t wait for the outcome of investigations to force him to realize his errors. He has willingly embarked on a personal deprogramming exercise of his own accord. In salvaging his intellectual wealth from the mess of his mistaken convictions, he has seen that the principles of PNS actually describe what the sceptical blogosphere has been up to and what it is demanding quite well. Good work brought forward by unconventional non ‘normal-science’ means, utilising leaked documents and investigative journalism to clear a path for it’s elevation to equal status with entrenched dogma.

    You, Willis, are a practising scientist, and you brought a paper forward here last year, to conduct ‘open peer review’. I put it to you that this was a ‘post normal science’ thing to do par exellence. You had seen that the ‘normal science’ channels were blocked, and that a more radical approach was needed. Welcome to the radical’s bench.

    Live and let live, don’t kick a guy when he is down, and never blast a bloke who is doing his best.

  320. Tallbloke said:

    “He has willingly embarked on a personal deprogramming exercise of his own accord”.

    I found this a revealing insight. You ‘deprogramme’ people who are in cults of one sort or another-usually religious ones. It takes considerable courage to do this yourself against the prevailing wisdom in youir own comunity. So the good Professor ought to be congratulated for starting out on his own personal journey.

    Those with more knowledge on the subject than me might care to comment as to how you deprogramme members of a cult. Does it have to be done individually or can you reach out to larger groups within the cult?

    Tonyb

  321. Tallbloke, do not be disheartened. What has happened in this thread is very important and is not merely criticism, but the best kind of criticism. Constructive. Reading over all the posts, I detect no malicious intent from anyone. Purely the input of many perspectives. The response from Mr. Ravetz will be interesting, I’m sure. I for one, am grateful to all posters as it has helped inform my own perspectives. Thanks to all and to you, Tallbloke. It takes courage to place ones thoughts under the WUWT? microscope for analysis. The posts here are why I read and enjoy WUWT?.

  322. Willis:

    I agree with you that it is important to reassert traditional scientific values. To be clear, I also disagree with emission reductions and all the rest of it. Nonetheless, I think there is a point to be answered in how physics deals with complex systems.

    Without making any judgements on it, PNS seems to me to be an attempt at a more holistic approach in which incomplete scientific evidence is used in conjunction with human values in order to reach solutions to complex problems that have direct consequences for people. It seems to me to be suggesting that for this kind of problem, the reductionist approach of physics is not appropriate. I think it is true that complex systems often cannot be successfully dealt with by reductionism, and yet some sort of answer is still needed in order to understand how to respond at a human level.

    Nonetheless, the climate system IS a physical system and so should be amenable to a reductionist approach. The objective of such an approach would then be to understand and describe the different physical mechanisms involved, and to make falsifiable statements that can be put to the test (as I think you are correctly pointing out). But stepping back a little, I’m not so sure that the physics is that relevant to the policy question. I think that the IPCC unwisely takes a reductionist approach, when what is really important for policy is how we should respond to climate changes, which after all seem likely to happen whatever the cause, and are potentially dangerous.

  323. tallbloke,

    I don’t see anything in your summary that requires a distinction between normal and post normal science.

    All that went wrong was that normal science was not properly applied. You don’t need to invent a new form of science to deal with that. Just do the normal science correctly.

    You only need to introduce a concept of post normal science if you want to introduce an additional factor which normal science cannot deal with at all. Ravetz proposes that social and political considerations be grafted onto the normal scientific process and that is what he calls post normal science.

    So what he is looking to achieve is to hijack the integrity of the scientific process and use it to give undeserved credibility to social and political decision making.

    That is deeply wrong and so dangerous that it threatens our civilisation because our success over the past 500 years has been based on the separation of science and politics.

    Lots of regimes have tried to merge the two. His intentions are not new or unique. Every time science and politics has been merged it has been disastrous.

    I’m not impressed when Ravetz seeks to distance himself from the climategate farrago.

    I would be impressed if he were to admit that his desire to merge science and politics was wholly misguided and was the primary cause of climategate and many similar corruptions of science that are going on around us all the time unnoticed.

    I’m happy to welcome a sinner who repenteth but on the basis of this article he does not repent at all, he just wants to draw the blogosphere into the process of post normal science the better to advance the corrupting process.

    Sorry if you find that an unpalatable view of your friend’s position.

  324. tallbloke (07:08:05) :
    Stephen Wilde (06:22:43) :
    He nails himself to the mast here:

    “The whole vast edifice of policy commitments for Carbon reduction, with their many policy prescriptions and quite totalitarian moral exhortations, will be at risk of public rejection. What sort of chaos would then result?”

    i.e. He favours totalitarianism as a remedy for the problems envisaged in his perceived world view. Anything else would lead to chaos.

    Are you being thick for a bet or something here Stephen?

    Or is your irony meter needing a coin? ;-)
    —————–
    Where exactly does the irony begin and end here?
    There is nothing in that penultimate paragraph to suggest there is any attempt at irony or wit of any kind. It is disjointed and incoherent. He invokes AGW itself, only to immediately drop it for a few undefended predictions.
    Look at the confusion in the comments; we don’t know what he’s on about, and that’s because he doesn’t, either.
    I’m astonished that anyone has described this as well-written. We can’t even agree whether he’s advocating PNS, damning it, describing it or just making it up as he goes along.
    Willis calls the piece ‘dangerous nonsense’. I’m not sure about ‘dangerous’ but, at the risk of a little post-normalcy, I’ll go with ‘prolix bafflegab’.

  325. Willis Eschenbach (19:07:57):

    You quoted Ravetz: “For example, Ravetz says:

    “We can begin to see what went seriously wrong when we examine what the leading practitioners of this ‘evangelical science’ of global warming (thanks to Angela Wilkinson) took to be the plain and urgent truth in their case. This was not merely that there are signs of exceptional disturbance in the ecosphere due to human influence, nor even that the climate might well be changing more rapidly now than for a very long time.”

    You interpreted his meaning thus: “Say what? What “signs of exceptional disturbance” is he talking about? What basis is there for his claim that “the climate might well be changing more rapidly now than for a very long time”? This is nothing but advocacy disguised as science.”

    I’m sorry Willis, but this time I think you have completely misunderstood what Ravetz has said. He is not saying that the climate is changing more rapidy. He is saying that what went wrong was that the leading practitioners took this to be “the plain and urgent truth.” That is the key point he is making – it is what they TOOK to be the truth. The next sentence then describes what that “truth” was, namely the rapid climate change.

    I agree his wording could be better. He should have put “truth” in quotes, and he would have been better served with the word “mistook” instead of “took”, but academics don’t all make great writers. Ravetz is a terrible writer for causing so much confusion.

    He should have said “We can see what went wrong when we examine what these evangelical scientists assumed to be the plain and urgent truth in their case. This assumption was not merely that there are signs of exceptional disturbance in the ecosphere due to human influence . . .”

  326. OK, not a new point, but let’s take a look at the post-normal world. Let’s start with ‘The Post-Normal Times’, the website by advocates of post-normal science of which Ravetz is on the Advisory Board. Here it is:

    http://postnormaltimes.net/blog/

    And on this site you will find Jerry Ravetz as contributor and Member of the Advisory Board, as well as Silvio Funtowitz, who with Ravetz ‘invented’ post-normal science in 1991:

    http://postnormaltimes.net/blog/html/about.html

    The short biography of Ravetz states

    “With S.O. Funtowicz, he developed…the concept of Post-Normal Science…He is currently a Visiting Fellow at the James Martin Institute for Science & Civilization at the Saïd Business School at Oxford University, England.”

    Also interesting are the details of Jeroen van der Sluijs

    “Jeroen van der Sluijs…has been working at the Department of Science Technology and Society at Utrecht University on a number of projects related to uncertainties in climate risk assessment…In 1997 he received his Ph.D. for a dissertation entitled “Anchoring Amid Uncertainty; On the Management of Uncertainties in Risk Assessment of Anthropogenic Climate Change”…He coordinates several projects on uncertainty management in science for policy in close collaboration with Dr. Silvio Funtowicz (JRC, Ispra) and dr. Jerry Ravetz (RMC London) and in projects around the themes Integrated Assessment, climate change and stakeholder participation in risk assessment.

    OK, so what do these wonderful people over at the Post-Normal Times have as links to other recommended sites. Here is THE COMPLETE LIST with the original headings:

    Science & Policy Blogs

    * RealClimate
    * Effect Measure
    * Environmental Economics
    * James’ Empty Blog
    * jfleck at inkstain
    * deSmogBlog
    * ScienceBlogs
    * The Intersection
    * Deltoid
    * ClimateScienceWatch
    * Ecological Economics
    * Stoat
    * InSCightsLab
    * Land Use Watch
    * A Few Things Ill Considered
    * Rabett Run
    * Direction not Destination
    * Resilience Science
    * Environmental Journalism Now
    * Gristmill
    * ClimatePolicy[AMS]
    * Al’s Journal
    * hybridvigor.net
    * WaterWired
    * Prometheus
    * Only In It For The Gold
    * The Crossing
    * watercrunch
    * Climate Progress
    * Dot Earth
    * maribo
    * The future – a rough guide

    Other Science & Policy links

    * Post-Autistic Economics Review
    * NUSAP net
    * Environmental Health News
    * NESH – Network for Ecosystem Sustainability & Health
    * SciDev.Net
    * EcoEquity
    * Union of Concerned Scientists
    * Stephen H. Schneider, Climatologist

    Other recommended blogs

    * James Wolcott
    * Hullabaloo
    * Eschaton
    * Talking Points Memo
    * Mitra – Natural Innovation
    * The Huffington Post
    * By Neddie Jingo!
    * Crooked Timber
    * firedoglake
    * NextBillion.net
    * Media Matters
    * The New Security Beat
    * Water Words That Work
    * Paradise Chased:

    Any red flags go up there, perhaps? Has the penny dropped? If regular readers of WUWT are not appalled at this one-sided list of advocacy groups, AGW alarmists, enemies of scientific scepticism (one in that list has called for Nuremberg trials for climate sceptics), and – frankly, in some cases – outright liars, then I pity you.

    Or what about Sylvia Tognetti’s (Editor) post:

    http://www.postnormaltimes.net/blog/archives/2005/02/unknown_knowns_1.html

    “Data from Antarctic ice cores now demonstrate that changes in climate are beginning to go beyond the range of variability known to have occurred over the past 400,000 years…Which brings us into “terra incognita” or Post-Normal Times.

    …Given the impact that presumably elected officials can have on the climate policy, whether votes are even counted is also a source of climate uncertainty. So, at the risk of sounding like a worn out campaign slogan, if Bush and the so-called climate skeptics wish to debate climate uncertainty, BRING IT ON!!!!

    …The real kudos go to RealClimate for attempting to present an open and accessible discussion of what is and isn’t understood about the science of global warming, and some much needed context for understanding scientific debates.”

    What?! RealClimate – “an open and accessible discussion of what is and isn’t understood about the science of global warming”.

    Or, how about this one:

    http://www.postnormaltimes.net/blog/archives/2008/12/news_that_no_lo.html

    “And, via dotearth, we are reminded of when Miles O’Brien managed to put Sen. Inhofe into context, rather than “balance” a broadly held scientific consensus with denialist rants…Exposing the sham arguments made by climate denialists always made good fodder for blogging, and was a relatively easy target…”

    Or http://www.postnormaltimes.net/blog/archives/2007/11/known_unknowabl.html

    “Al Gore on the NBC Today show, in response to a question from Meredith Viera, regarding a predictable op-ed by so called climate skeptic John Christy:

    ‘But, Meredith, part of the challenge the news media has had in covering this story is the old habit of taking the on the one hand, on the other hand approach. There are still people who believe that the Earth is flat, but when you’re reporting on a story like the one you’re covering today, where you have people all around the world, you don’t take — you don’t search out for someone who still believes the Earth is flat and give them equal time.’

    To be fair, perhaps Christy should get a kudo for recognizing that there is indeed indeed uncertainty about climate change…Christy goes on to recite the usual fallacies that aren’t even worth responding to, even confusing weather with climate…”

    Sorry, guys, but I have to sound the alarm again. Ravetz and his post-normal science are a Trojan horse.

  327. David Ball (01:12:51) :

    Tallbloke, do not be disheartened. What has happened in this thread is very important and is not merely criticism, but the best kind of criticism. Constructive.

    Thanks David. Compared to what your dad endured this is a breeze, though it does sting a bit all the same. It is tricky to discuss these issues dispassionately, given everything that has happened. Scientists from quantificatory disciplines expect neat summaries of objectively testable statements for hypotheses. In the messy world of the politics of science policy this doesn’t happen. The inputs are ‘irremediably soft’ and this leaves an easy way open to disputationally minded participants who wish to ‘flatten the opposition’.

    To my mind it is more advantageous to see what useful concepts are put forward within somebody’s conceptual framework and see how these play out in re-application, rather than go for an easy dismissal on the basis of someones political past, or their recent changes of heart on specific issues.

  328. tallbloke

    Royal Meteorological Society actually since I joined as a student member in 1968 then was appointed a Fellow in 1971 or therabouts – what would nowadays be termed an Associate Fellow.

    That Society isn’t coming out of this well at all. I think they’ve been post normal for some time :)

  329. Tallbloke, thanks for your explication of post-normal science. It strikes me as somewhat analogous to the distinction between revolt and revolution. I greatly appreciated Professor Ravetz’s essay, and think there is much of great value in it.

    I would like to add to the thoughts of several others here that there were enormous clues as to the nature of what was going on, chief among them the refusal to share data and analysis methods.

    It doesn’t matter what the rationalisations for this refusal may be; the point is that once you make that refusal, you’re no longer doing science.

    And if you’re not doing science, you’re not a scientist!

    Science is a profession, a body of work with rigorous disciplines adhering to it.

    [RANT]It is NOT a title to authority that is conferred upon one for life, and that one can resort to whenever expressing an opinion on any matter whatsoever. Scientists are NOT priests, and they damn well ought to know better than to behave like them![/RANT]

    A critical aspect of these disciplines of science being that what you have done to achieve your results must be (to the maximum extent possible) reproducible. Most people understand that there are certain areas of enquiry where the initial conditions are not strictly reproducible. In the case of global climate study, this is always(?) true. Other areas like archaeology suffer from similar problems; an artefact can only be discovered once, thereafter only what the discoverer records of the state it was found in can be used by others. In taking ice samples in the antarctic, certain practical difficulties make duplication very expensive.

    And it doesnt matter what your conclusions are, or whether they are ultimately validated or invalidated by others work.

    Always, there is some form of raw data, the methods of analysis, the records of the provenance of the evidence, the chain(s) of logic that lead from all these to the conclusions. All of these were in existence at CRU, but none of them were made available to anyone perceived to be skeptical.

    That is NOT science.

    They were NOT scientists.

    Michael Crighton made perhaps the most pertinent observation in this respect when he said that as soon as you hear a “scientist” refer to the consensus on any issue, you know that you’ve left the world of science and begun to discuss politics.

    The problem at CRU was that it was (is?) staffed with politicians. Sure, politicians with some scientific credentials, but in what they were actually DOING they were being politicians.

    Like others, I get the distinct impression that they were employed from the ooutset to BE politicians, but that it irrelevant to the central issue: what they were BEING was politicians, not scientists. What they were doing was politics, not science.

    We knew this immediately they first refused to share. We did not need “climategate” to demonstrate it, and it would still be true even if climategate had revealed that they had been beyond reproach in their (other) methods. i.e. as above, this is not about the veractiy of their conclusions; it’s about the disciplines of their profession.

  330. tallbloke (00:47:13)

    Willis Eschenbach (20:58:21) :

    Me, I’m confused about what “post normal science” actually is. I’m waiting for tallboy (or the Professor) to give us a good, clean, usable, two or three sentence definition of PNS that distinguishes it from normal science.

    It’s observable that people who disagree with you often seem to get your name wrong. Equally observable is the way they wilfully mischaracterise the import of ideas they take a dislike too, and highlight only failures rather than take a balanced view.

    My apologies for getting your name wrong, talldude. I find it hard to keep track of the pseudonyms that people hide behind … if you have the courage of your convictions, you should have the courage to sign your real name to them. I promise I’ll remember it if you have the nerve to reveal it …

    However, I’ll attempt to fullfil your request.

    Normal science proceeds by forming an institutionally driven narrative of the grounding of a field of study, within which trained practitioners produce papers which advance that corpus of knowledge by addition and extension, verified and approved by the upper echelons of that specialism via peer review. Where there is conflict of competing ideas within a speciality, it is kept in-house, Halton Arp is denied telescope time, Fred Singer and Roger Pielke are sidelined, and the faux consensus move forward, and no-one outside the discipline is any the wiser for a while.

    Nonsense. There is nothing within the tenets of normal science that calls for keeping conflicting ideas “in-house”. Nor is anything verified via “peer review”. Peer review is a trivial exercise which has only been part of “normal science” for a few decades. It means nothing. The real issue of science is falsification, not peer review.

    When a pamphlet was published entitled 100 Authors Against Einstein, Einstein retorted “If I were wrong, one would be enough.” You will note that he did not specify “one person in-house would be enough”. You will also note he didn’t say “but my theory passed peer review”. This is not a part of science. It is a part of the bullshit that passes for science, particularly climate science. You and Professor Ravetz seem to think that a new kind of science is called for. I say that all we need is the historical openness and transparency that once characterized science, not a new kind of science based on some mystical measure Ravetz calls “quality” that you have neglected to define despite my request that you do so.

    When the products of science are called for in support of a policy decision, the institution uses it’s power to stifle internal dissent, and a unified picture is presented. This is necessitated by the requirement of policy makers for clear lines of evidence, and since they represent the funding body, the scientific institutions make sure they get it.

    The “institution”? What “institution”? There was no “institution” in Climategate, just a bunch of boys playing at science and terrified that someone would “find fault” with their bogus results. For you to present their actions as an indictment of normal science is a sick joke.

    Yes, normally there is a “narrative of the grounding of a field of study”. But climate science has nothing of the sort. There is no “theory of climate”. There’s just a bunch of people pushing a political objective and twisting normal science into unrecognizability in the process.

    Look, tallman, normal science has worked with institutions for centuries. Normal science has worked with politicians for centuries. Normal science has worked within uncertainty since it has existed. What makes you think it is suddenly inadequate for the task?

    Yes, the scientific/governmental complex is a problem, as Eisenhower pointed out, but that’s not a problem with normal science. It is a problem with funding, which is a very different beast.

    The tenets of Post Normal Science demand that ‘outsiders’ get the opportunity to have input to the policy forming process. Jerry Ravetz writes:

    “This new peer community can also deploy ‘extended facts’, including local and personal experience, as well as investigative journalism and leaked sources. So Post-Normal Science is inevitably political, and involves a new extension of legitimacy and power”.

    Normal science places no bar on ‘outsiders’ presenting opinions. I fear you are confuse normal science with climate science. And normal science has always involved local and personal experience. We call it the “smell test” … and I fear that “post normal science” doesn’t pass the smell test of my personal experience. And for centuries, there were only amateur scientists, there was no “peer community”, no “institution”. Science doesn’t require that, it’s a modern invention.

    Now, because of his allegiances, personal prediliction etc Jerry Ravetz personally backed the wrong horse and went down the wrong path, but this doesn’t mean that we should reject the more useful of the insights he has had on the process of knowledge use and policy formation. And as you note, he didn’t wait for the outcome of investigations to force him to realize his errors. He has willingly embarked on a personal deprogramming exercise of his own accord. In salvaging his intellectual wealth from the mess of his mistaken convictions, he has seen that the principles of PNS actually describe what the sceptical blogosphere has been up to and what it is demanding quite well. Good work brought forward by unconventional non ‘normal-science’ means, utilising leaked documents and investigative journalism to clear a path for it’s elevation to equal status with entrenched dogma.

    I’m glad he saw the error of his ways. But since all of his valuable insights about “quality” and the process of knowledge and his intellectual wealth led him to a position where he “backed the wrong horse and went down the wrong path” … that should impress us how?

    If his brilliant vision of post normal science were worth more than a bucket of warm spit, he wouldn’t have gone down the wrong path. He would have seen, as many of us have seen from the beginning, that science was being perverted and that the tenets of normal science were not being followed. Ravetz’s last-minute conversion reeks. You seem impressed that he had his experience on the road to Damascus before Climategate. I’m not, that was way too late to impress me.

    Me, I’m sickened that someone who didn’t see what was happening for the last decade has had a sudden conversion and now sees fit to lecture us on what science really is. If he knew anything about science, he would have been disgusted for years, like many of us were, at the garbage that has been coming out of climate science for a long time. But he didn’t. And since by your own admission his wondrous insights into “post normal science” led him down the wrong path, why should we pay any attention to him and his insights???

    So now he is “deprogramming” himself … but I note that you fail to mention what his “mistaken convictions” were. I also note that you fail to see that those “mistaken convictions” were obviously perfectly congruent with his “post normal science”, or he would have noticed the error long ago … I admire his brass balls in coming here to lecture us on what he just realized, but that doesn’t mean that he is right.

    You, Willis, are a practising scientist, and you brought a paper forward here last year, to conduct ‘open peer review’. I put it to you that this was a ‘post normal science’ thing to do ar exellence. You had seen that the ‘normal science’ channels were blocked, and that a more radical approach was needed. Welcome to the radical’s bench.

    And I put it to you that you have it backwards. What I did was normal science. Since neither you nor Professor Ravetz seems to understand it, here’s the primer. Normal science works like this:

    1. Someone comes up with a new idea. They publish their idea, along with all of the data, methods, logical exposition, math, and computer codes that support their idea.

    2. Other people try to poke holes and find fault with the person’s idea, data, methods, and anything else that supports that idea.

    3. If someone can find a fault in the data, methods, or the rest, the idea is discarded. If not, it is provisionally accepted (until such time in the future when someone does find fault with the idea).

    Now, that is how “normal science” works. There is nothing in there about how only certain people are qualified to find errors in someone’s work. As Einstein said, any one person can prove him wrong. He didn’t say any scientist from inside the “institution”. He said anyone. The closed system, the old boy network that you seem to think is “normal science”, is a modern perversion of the normal scientific method.

    Nor are there any restrictions on how someone might prove my cherished ideas are wrong. They are free to use leaked emails or investigative journalism, whatever. It only takes one person to prove me wrong, regardless of where they get their information. But that doesn’t make investigative journalism a part of science. It’s just another place to get information that might be used in a scientific fashion.

    Live and let live, don’t kick a guy when he is down, and never blast a bloke who is doing his best.

    I don’t give a damn if a bloke is “doing his best”, tallguy, that’s more of you and Ravetz’s “quality” nonsense. I care if his ideas are right or wrong, not whether he’s really a wonderful guy whose intentions are pure as Ivory Soap. I’m sure that Phil Jones was doing his best … so what? Should I go easy on Phil and not blast him because he was doing his best? Ridiculous.

    Man up and get yourself some standards, tallperson. Science is a blood sport, not some New Age feel-good exercise. Phil Jones is a danger to science, and so is Ravetz with his nonsense about “quality”, whether or not they are doing their best. I’m not going to tickle their tummy and blow in their ear and tell them that everything is all right because they really really tried. I’m going to blast them as best I can, they are a danger to science whether or not they are doing their best. I try to be a post modern man, but in fact I’m just a reformed cowboy, and the reformation only went so deep. Phil Jones and his ilk are down but not out, and I’ll continue to kick them with my size 9 cowboy boots until they are out for the count.

    I asked for an explanation of the difference between normal and post normal science. You gave me a great description of the perverted belief system of the Climategate conspirators, which you seem to think is “normal science”. It is as far from normal science as can be. And the only thing you have said about post normal science is that it should involve more people … since this has always been a part of normal science, you’ll forgive me if I don’t see this as significant.

    Finally, I asked a number of very pointed questions above, at Willis Eschenbach (00:18:29). I’m still interested in your answers about what the hell Ravetz’s famed “quality” is, and what units it is measured in … qualitons? Qualimetres? The world wonders … the questions are above, if you care to answer them.

  331. Willis Eschenbach (03:37:28) :

    My apologies for getting your name wrong, talldude. I find it hard to keep track of the pseudonyms that people hide behind … if you have the courage of your convictions, you should have the courage to sign your real name to them. I promise I’ll remember it if you have the nerve to reveal it …

    My real name is written in Jerry Ravetz’ article along with my screen name. This clearly shows you haven’t read his piece carefully at all.

  332. Willis,

    You said:

    “There is no “theory of climate”.

    Well I’ve recently created one.

    It might be right, it might be wrong, it might be incomplete but it describes the progression of energy transfer from sun to sea to air to space in a coherent fashion and accounts for a lot of real world observations.

    Effectively the troposphere and the climate phenomena within are in a state of constant flux as they seek to maintain equilibrium between variable rates of energy flow from oceans to air and variable rates of energy transfer from air to space.

    That equilibrium is maintained by a constant shifting of the latitudinal positions of all the air circulation systems which alters the speed of the hydrological cycle to always oppose forcings emanating from the stratosphere above and the oceans below the troposphere.

    Your rather neat thermostat hypothesis fits the larger picture perfectly.

    Now that AGW seems to be a dead duck perhaps we can see some real ‘normal’ science.

  333. Willis Eschenbach (03:37:28) :
    “Now, that is how “normal science” works. There is nothing in there about how only certain people are qualified to find errors in someone’s work. As Einstein said, any one person can prove him wrong. He didn’t say any scientist from inside the “institution”. He said anyone. The closed system, the old boy network that you seem to think is “normal science”, is a modern perversion of the normal scientific method.”

    Quite so. Normal scientists, who should be humble and not bigoted pigheads like Mann, Jones et al, would accept refutation from any source. But their selfish egos and arrogance got in the way of normal science. We accept information from all sources in everyday life – if a pedestrian tells me that my front wheel is flat, he might have noticed something important or it might be a prank. So, what do I do, ignore it because he’s not a tyre expert and drive on?

    Science has always been corrupted and hindered by ideas of ‘authority’ and ‘experts’. As I said in another comment, because of Aristotle’s ‘authority’, science was hindered for 2000 years. Aristotle’s physics had cranky laws of motion – he taught that objects in motion at a constant speed were being pushed along from behind. Then Jean Buridan, a priest in the fourteenth century noticed that when he did the long jump he experienced the force of the air on his chest, not on his back. That observation was the beginning of the end for Aristotle’s physics. Buridan wrote

    “…after leaving the arm of the thrower, the projectile would be moved by an impetus given to it by the thrower and would continue to be moved as long as the impetus remained stronger than the resistance, and would be of infinite duration were it not diminished and corrupted by a contrary force resisting it or by something inclining it to a contrary motion”

    thus anticipating Newton, inertia, momentum etc. Who cares where the refutation of a theory comes from – an honest ‘normal’ scientist will accept it from any source, not fight like a rat in a sack to have his pet theory exposed and tested.

  334. Re: Willis Eschenbach (Feb 11 03:37),

    For what it is worth, I think “quality” is used as a measure of defining the elite in this process, used to be called the “ruling class” but in the old soviet union it was the 10% which was qualified ( same root as quality) to enter the party.
    By focusing on the context ( process) rather than the content( data/experiments/facts), a ruling class rules. A ruling class over/manipulating science.

  335. ScientistForTruth (04:28:35) :

    Science has always been corrupted and hindered by ideas of ‘authority’ and ‘experts’. As I said in another comment, because of Aristotle’s ‘authority’, science was hindered for 2000 years.

    Preciseley, and Aristotle is still not a dead dog. He lives on in the minds of tidy systemetizers everywhere. Read Paul Feyerabend’s excellent polemic: ‘Against Method’. As he says, in combatting the status quo, “anything goes”, and that includes investigative journalism, leaked documents, etc etc.

  336. anna v (04:37:37) :

    Re: Willis Eschenbach (Feb 11 03:37),

    For what it is worth, I think “quality” is used as a measure of defining the elite in this process, used to be called the “ruling class” but in the old soviet union it was the 10% which was qualified ( same root as quality) to enter the party.
    By focusing on the context ( process) rather than the content( data/experiments/facts), a ruling class rules. A ruling class over/manipulating science.

    “Citizens, we shall say to them in our tale, you are brothers, yet God has framed you differently. Some of you have the power of command, and in the composition of these he has mingled gold, wherefore also they have the greatest honour; others he has made of silver, to be auxilliaries; others again who are to be husbandmen and craftsmen he has composed of brass and iron; and the species will generally be preserved in the children…
    An Oracle says that when a man of brass or iron guards the state, it will be destroyed. Such is the tale; is there any possibility of making our citizens believe in it?”

    -Plato-

  337. It is when the textbook analogy fails, that science in the policy context must become post-normal. When facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high, and decisions urgent the traditional guiding principle of research science, the goal of achievement of truth or at least of factual knowledge, must be substantially modified. In post-normal conditions, such products may be a luxury, indeed an irrelevance. Here, the guiding principle is a more robust one, that of quality.

    I seem to recall an old saying:

    Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

    tallbloke (00:47:13) :

    Equally observable is the way they wilfully mischaracterise the import of ideas they take a dislike too, and highlight only failures rather than take a balanced view.

    No. PNS is politics. The rest is sophistry.

    Enoch Powell once observed that all political careers end in failure. He might have said the same of philosophers.

  338. Wow. I have to admit that I didn’t see all the ramifications of this article on first reading. I still see much of value in it, but having read through many more of the comments these words keep going round in my head:

    “You used to call me paranoid,
    Pressure!
    But even you cannot avoid,
    Pressure!
    You turned the tap dance into your crusade,
    Now here you are with your faith,
    And your Peter Pan advice,
    You have no scars on your face,
    And you cannot handle –
    PRESSURE!”

    I try to keep out of the po-mo swamp (It’s hard to tap dance there). My continuing disappointment wih the newly “enlightened” or embarrassed, or whatever they are, is as I described previously: it wouldn’t matter if the emails had revealed a warming trend in the data. The people hiding their work were not scientists and that fact was revealed long ago in the act of hiding, and only secondarily in the revelations of the actual data.

  339. anna v (04:37:37) :

    Re: Willis Eschenbach (Feb 11 03:37),

    For what it is worth, I think “quality” is used as a measure of defining the elite in this process, used to be called the “ruling class” but in the old soviet union it was the 10% which was qualified ( same root as quality) to enter the party.

    Yes. The ruling class in Britain have often referred to themselves as “persons of quality.”

  340. Ouch! I’m still reading. Willis Eschenbach quoted this earlier, from Ravetz:

    “It could well be argued that quality has always been the effective principle in practical research science, but it was largely ignored by the dominant philosophy and ideology of science. For post-normal science, quality becomes crucial, and quality refers to process at least as much as to product. It is increasingly realised in policy circles that in complex environment issues, lacking neat solutions and requiring support from all stakeholders, the quality of the decision-making process is absolutely critical for the achievement of an effective product in the decision. This new understanding applies to the scientific aspect of decision-making as much as to any other.”

    This is truly horrifiying. This IS politics, pure and simple. It is the antithesis of science. It reminds me starkly of a contract bid I was part of, where the customer was the central government. My business partner and I lost the business, even though the Project Manager told us to our face that we had the best offer by far. We were just too small. She actually said to us, verbatim: “If you guys mess it up we all get the blame for going with two unknowns. If we go with XXXX (large international consultancy) then no matter what happens we can say we did the right thing. It’s not our fault it didn’t work!”

    This is risk management, bureaucracy style. Results are not important. It doesn’t matter to people who think this way, that the policy “advice” they’ve been giving would destroy our way of life and condemn billions to starvation and squalor. No, what matters is that they can say afterwards: “But look at our pristine decision-making PROCESS!”

    Tell me that’s not what he’s saying? Somebody? Please?

    Shame they dont have the same respect for the scientific process (i.e. method), huh?

  341. Harm analogous to the danger of PNS that some have foreseen can be seen occurring in current events. An instance is the relativizing of truth in the theorizing of leftist tribes such as feminists. Just because the facts have demonstrated otherwise, that need not falsify their “truth” based on their experience of the situation, feelings and emotions. No one else has the right to say what their “truth” is. Their feelings are their truth.

    What is significant is that the courts, in divorce, child custody and support cases,eg, have accepted arguments like these. Truth is not a reflection of the facts but how I feel about things. The result is a favoured group is rewarded at the expense of others based on a nonsense theory and in exchange for political support.

    PNS has the same potential for political suborning of science as the relativizing of truth has had in law, and for the same purpose.

  342. Wow, wento to bed and got up to a thread that went all emotional. Some auick points#

    1. don’t confuse the author’s personal opinions of agw and his political leanings with his description of what is happening to the collective decision making process. They are two different things.
    2. What he describes as “post normal” isn’t new. Sure he’s grabbing the spot light (its called being opportunistic) but what he describes is NOT new. In fact one of his examples is how the printing press lead to wide spread literacy and the Reformation where the power over the people was stripped from the priesthood because they could no longer lie about what the data (“the book”) said. they could read the data and analyse themselves, the parallel with the internet is uncanny.
    3. What he describes applies to ANY decision process. How did VHS obliterate Beta, a much stronger technology? Better marketing trumped facts. How did VMS get displaced by the much weaker operating system Unix? There were hundreds of times as many people who new Unix as VMS, and they pushed for what they knew. How did Windows displace Unix? There were thousands of times as many people who knew Windows as did knew Unix and they pushed for that they knew even though it was an even weaker technology than Unix or VMS. Ever sit in a corporate board room and watch executives trying to promote their point of view? They omit facts, they cite studies they know have been disproven, and they advance decisions that they know are not the best for the corporation, but are best for their personal power within the corporation.

    This stuff isn’t new, its as old as history. sometimes the facts win and sometimes they don’t. The printing press and literacy destroyed the power of the priesthood. The blogosphere destroys the power of the science/priests because even with the data kept secret (for I am a priest/scientist and only I can read the data and pontificate on what it says) the blogosphere can get data on its own and make it available to anyone and publish the analysis. all that’s changed is that the stakes have gobe up because we’re playing for global carbon credits, not a slice of the VCR market.

    The climascarists won the first few rounds on points. They got clipped on the chin in the last round and had to take a standing 8 count. They’re not down, they’re not out, and they are still ahead on points. The fight isn’t over, it will NEVER be over, but if you want to get ahead, you need to recognize the rules of the game and use them to your advantage instead of being critical of those trying to explain them.

  343. Tom Kennedy (05:43:20) :

    “Just because the facts have demonstrated otherwise, that need not falsify their “truth” based on their experience of the situation, feelings and emotions. No one else has the right to say what their “truth” is. Their feelings are their truth…Truth is not a reflection of the facts but how I feel about things. The result is a favoured group is rewarded at the expense of others based on a nonsense theory and in exchange for political support.”

    Welcome to postmodernism. There was a perfectly understandable term for ‘normal’ science, and that was ‘modern science’. Ravetz could have chosen to call his theory ‘postmodern science’, but that would have given the game away. As I said on my post

    http://buythetruth.wordpress.com/2009/10/31/climate-change-and-the-death-of-science/

    “Once there was modern science, which was hard work; now we have postmodern science, where the quest for real, absolute truth is outdated, and ’science’ is a wax nose that can be twisted in any direction to underpin the latest lying narrative in the pursuit of power. Except they didn’t call it ‘postmodern’ science because then we might smell a rat. They called it PNS (post-normal science) and hoped we wouldn’t notice. It was thus named and explicated by Silvio O. Funtowicz and philosopher Jerome R. Ravetz, who in 1991 wrote the paper A New Scientific Methodology for Global Environmental Issues, followed in 1992 by The good, the true and the postmodern, and in 1993 by Science for the post-normal age, where they promoted the idea that

    ‘…a new type of science – ‘post-normal’ – is emerging…in contrast to traditional problem-solving strategies, including core science, applied science, and professional consultancy…Post-normal science can provide a path to the democratization of science, and also a response to the current tendencies to post-modernity.’

    The ‘response’ wasn’t to be a reaction against postmodernism, but an embracing of it, and going beyond it. And it has sinister ramifications.”

  344. Anthony: Thank you thank you thank you for bringing this PNS here for our debate and digestion. I’d never heard of it-I represent ‘Town’ on here. It’s real and here and absolutely frightening when applied to a global phenomenon like this AGW nonsense but from what i’m reading it’s been here in mild forms for a while. I think it hinges on the idea that common people are too stupid to handle
    uncertainty. That given choices of scenarios based on the then known science which if it’s EXTREME scenarios where in fact to be true, requring action ennacting vast politcal changes, that the public wouldn’t understand their choices and could stifle the process of change. Ergo, the need to take the process and the science off piste. Hence, the denial of F.O.I.’s @CRU. And WHEN THE SCIENCE DOESN’T LINE UP….Well, we’ll take that OFF PISTE as well. PNS represents not the end of science ‘as we know it’, but the end of Science. If cash/power/fame are corrupting, wait till PNS tries to accomodate Koranic revelations. This PNS is more interesting and evil than I thought. Though I heard the idea that WUWT is a PNS entity in a sense. Science, in the PNS theory, is intrinsically shaped by power. The Truth, however, is free to wonder around where ever it wants, even hang out at WUWT!!! Again, thank you Anthony for bringing it here.

  345. KTWO (11:26:48) :

    It is almost a threat when he tells us that:

    “The whole vast edifice of policy commitments for Carbon reduction, with their many policy prescriptions and quite totalitarian moral exhortations, will be at risk of public rejection. What sort of chaos would then result? The consequences for science in our civilisation would be extraordinary”

    Man might turn away from science over this? Sure, Jerome!

    Exactly. And elsewhere in the alarmist blogosphere the threats are becoming overt:

    “If someone were going to mutilate you, something in the range of chopping off two fingers up to removing an eye, both legs and one arm, wouldn’t you want to know about it? or would you reject the report as being too vague to be useful?

    Fossil-fueled transportation contributes significantly to global warming. Reports on some of the consequences are germane and useful.” rs, GCC 2/7/2010

    From hellfire and damnation to mutilation… that’s progress!

  346. Reading Ravetz’s essay is like trying to ride a bicycle without a chain. The problem is that it’s long on rhetoric and short on substance. It reminds me of the Oscar Wilde essay – “the soul of man under socialism.”

    In it, he basically described how capitalism degraded the human soul and that under socialism, the human would be elevated above such degrading tasks as “disturbing dirt with a broom.” Unfortunately, for all its good intentions, it was just pie in the sky fantasy, with no connection with reality. The questions of what is socialism and how that would make a difference were never addressed. It was simply taken as axiomatic that it meant “elevating the human soul.”

    I feel exactly the same frustration with this essay. Instead of Socialism, we have post normal science – an even more nebuluous concept if that is possible. Whereas Wilde enthused how Socialism would elevate the soul, we now have PNS elevating the quality of science. Whereas Wilde pointed to heartless Capitalism as the reason that human’s are exploited, Revatz points to normal science as the reason that climate science is failing. His answer is something akin to Wilde’s plea for Socialism.

    Both are lacking in substance, and attempt to batter their way into acceptance by emotional appeal. Who could be against elevating the soul? Who could be against quality and democratic review? Yet in order to take a position one needs a thorough treatise on what is being proposed. Tossing ideologies about won’t suffice. It is time Revatz’s fixed a chain on this bike.

  347. ScientistForTruth (04:28:35) :

    In spite of Aristotle’s misunderstanding of motion (it was 340BC), he did contribute the term “meteorology,” referring then to all things of the atmosphere. This included meteorites, wind, clouds, rain and hailstones. In his book Meteorologics Aristotle demonstrated a good understanding of the hydrological cycle accurately describing water evaporation to vapor and its return to Earth as rain.

    “Now the sun, moving as it does, sets up processes of change and becoming and decay, and by its agency the finest and sweetest water is every day carried up and is dissolved into vapour and rises to the upper region, where it is condensed again by the cold and so returns to the earth.”

    His understanding of wind was not so accurate, however the man worked with no data beyond first hand observation. Some of his work became “authoritarian” science only because others refused to challenge it. It’s fair to say that Aristotle’s philosophy of the individual remains a fundamental tenet of democracy.

  348. Stephen Wilde (06:22:51)

    Stephen,

    I’m afraid I don’t have enough knowledge (yet) to comment intelligently on the physical content of your article (see my first comment to this post above), but I did notice your exquisite reply to a scientific authority here: http://climaterealists.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=186&start=0#p4498.

    I wonder, have you been able to make any quantitative assessment of your ideas? I am thinking of the kind of thing Roy Spencer describes here:
    http://www.drroyspencer.com/research-articles/global-warming-as-a-natural-response/ (around figure 4).

  349. tallbloke (00:47:13):

    Normal science proceeds by forming an institutionally driven narrative of the grounding of a field of study, within which trained practitioners produce papers which advance that corpus of knowledge by addition and extension, verified and approved by the upper echelons of that specialism via peer review. Where there is conflict of competing ideas within a speciality, it is kept in-house, Halton Arp is denied telescope time, Fred Singer and Roger Pielke are sidelined, and the faux consensus move forward, and no-one outside the discipline is any the wiser for a while.

    Willis Eschenbach (03:37:28) effectively demolishes this description of ‘normal science’, but let me add that while the exclusion of scientists who espouse unpopular (non-consensual!) may be ‘normal’, in the sense of prevalent or common, it is greatly to be regretted; it is not normative.

    Exclusion by ‘old boys’ networks’, especially by those in positions of power, and intolerance of contrary views, are unfortunate facts of life within institutions, but they violate the cardinal principle of scientific inquiry, which is to lay one’s propositions about the world open to challenge and falsification at every step.

    The rise of the blogosphere and more peer-to-peer interaction can help to mitigate the evils of ‘old boy’ exclusivity, but the real solution is not some new kind of ‘post-normal’ science, but a rededication within the scientific community to the highest ideals and principles of the profession. When graduate students are taught not to fear for their careers if they write a paper that challenges the prevailing orthodoxy, then we’ll know we’re making progress on this front.

    I do not have the impression that a rededication to the ethics and method of science is what Prof. Ravetz advocates. Rather his idea of ‘post-normal science’ appears to be a rationalization for ideological, agenda-driven science, which must perforce build ever-stronger walls around ‘correct’ theories and their advocates.

    That’s how we got ‘climate science’, with its complete intolerance of competing views, its refusal to share data and methods, and its enlistment of scientific charlatans like Al Gore to proselytize in the media and in government. This is not progress, but regression, toward a simulacrum of science under the old Soviet Union.

    /Mr Lynn

  350. Erratum: First paragraph should read:

    Willis Eschenbach (03:37:28) effectively demolishes this description of ‘normal science’, but let me add that while the exclusion of scientists who espouse unpopular (non-consensual!) views may be ‘normal’, in the sense of prevalent or common, it is greatly to be regretted; it is not normative.

    Wish we could edit our posts in WordPress.

    /Mr Lynn

  351. Vincent (06:33:18) :

    Reading Ravetz’s essay is like trying to ride a bicycle without a chain. The problem is that it’s long on rhetoric and short on substance. It reminds me of the Oscar Wilde essay – “the soul of man under socialism.”

    In it, he basically described how capitalism degraded the human soul and that under socialism, the human would be elevated above such degrading tasks as “disturbing dirt with a broom.”

    Quite! But then, the “persons of quality” have never been too hot on creating the quality themselves; they have always (with a few very exceptions) had to hire others – Haydn, Michelangelo, Lancelot Brown – to do the dirty work. They still have the mentality of a slave society.

    It is interesting to see the failure of early Greek science which, in a slave culture, where it was also beneath their dignity to do experiments, their theories came to nothing.
    (see “Greek Science” by Benjamin Farrington)

    So, as a plebian dedicated to the production of real quality, I say “Let’s stick with ‘normal science.’”

  352. Two points from Ravetz’s paper:

    1. “This was not merely that there are signs of exceptional disturbance in the ecosphere due to human influence, nor even that the climate might well be changing more rapidly now than for a very long time. “

    Sound like something from a Shakespeare play. What exactly are these signs?

    2. “The consensus is likely to depend on how much trust can still be put in science. The whole vast edifice of policy commitments for Carbon reduction, with their many policy prescriptions and quite totalitarian moral exhortations, will be at risk of public rejection. What sort of chaos would then result? The consequences for science in our civilisation would be extraordinary.”

    Provided it is widely understood that “climate science” as performed by the motley CRU and their ilk was not real science at all (how could it be if, for example, information is withheld from challenge?), there is no reason why there should be any extraordinary consequences for science in our civilisation. The useful consequence might be that civilisation, especially politicians and the MSM, will stop confusing the fanciful constructs of post-modern “science”(!) with real science. Real science will triumph and help civilisation to adapt to the future, whatever that future holds.

  353. Let me explain another way with a couple of examples.

    Switzerland at one time dominated the world wide watch industry. A guy in Switzerland invented something called the quartz movement. No one in Switzerland would give him the time of day. They already knew how to make watches, and this guy was painted as a nutbar. The science of building watches was settled. He wound up in Japan where they knew diddly squat about building watches. They bought his idea and pretty much bankrupted the whole Swiss watch industry. Facts won when they were presented in a forum willing to listen and consider that the grand consensus was wrong.

    At 3M there was a guy tasked with making a permanent glue. One of his experiments was a total failure. The glue kinda stuck, but kinda didn’t. He used to it stick notes to the walls in his office because he could just peel them off later. He thought it would make a great product, and was promptly told by all the execs in the company that he was an idiot. But he’d already made up a whole stack of sample pads of yellow paper so he gave them away…to the secretaries of the execs. When they ran out, the secretaries asked for more. He told them there were no more because their bosses had decided against the product. When the secretaries got done chewing their bosses out it was clear that yellow stickies were going to market. The facts won again when they were presented to a forum willing to listen and consider that the grand consensus was wrong.

    PNS is about getting decisions that require a grand consensus made. Its not new, the grand consensus is not always right, and the facts are frequently over ridden by greed, corruption, fear of change, fear of the unknown, laziness and so on. If that Swiss inventor didn’t have the cash to fly to Japan and the balls to ask for a meeting with Seiko, watches might still be mechanical and mostly made in Switzerland and accurate to a whopping 5 minutes per year. The blogosphere means you no longer need a plane ticket to present your idea. It does not mean however, that anyone will listen.

  354. philip (07:45:46)

    Probably best if we refrain from discussing my stuff on this thread. Feel free to engage me at climaterealists if you wish.

    regards, Stephen.

  355. I would just like to add my thanks to Anthony for hosting this debate. I also want to thank both sides for their extended and enlightening discussion, which has been pointed, but altogether civil. This is academic discourse at its very best, IMO, and necessary.

    My two cents:

    Science + ideology = bad medicine, not fit for human consumption

    and

    Poor Aristotle! You know, without the revival of interest in his philosophy by Renaissance humanists, there might be no modern science to become post-anything.

  356. Indiana Bones (07:41:29) :

    “Some of his [Aristotle's] work became “authoritarian” science only because others refused to challenge it. It’s fair to say that Aristotle’s philosophy of the individual remains a fundamental tenet of democracy.”

    Aristotle was a genius, and he made important contributions in several disciplines, not least formal logic. However I have serious problems with Aristotle on certain aspects of science, especially physics and metaphysics.

    He could easily have checked things empirically, but sometimes chose not to. He tended to have philosophical ideas and bend the science to fit the philosophy. His teaching that heavier objects fall faster than lighter ones, and that falling objects reach terminal velocity immediately after being released could easily have been falsified by a simple test: the problem was, his ‘theory’ came from his philosophical viewpoint, which he regarded as much more lofty than empiricism, so he did not check it. That’s really bad science. Same problem with AGW – prejudice and activism trump realism.

  357. Mr. Willis Eschenbach, Sir, You are not able to see or hear what is happening in my office. I am clapping… Thank you for your words. They are very clear to all who would take the time to read and comprhend them. Refreshing. Thank you again, Tom

  358. MrLynn (07:50:23) :
    Willis Eschenbach (03:37:28) effectively demolishes this description of ‘normal science’, but let me add that while the exclusion of scientists who espouse unpopular (non-consensual!) may be ‘normal’, in the sense of prevalent or common, it is greatly to be regretted; it is not normative.

    The difference between the theory of science and the politics of science is that the former is the desription of what should be going on, and the latter is the description of what actually is actually going on.

    I haven’t read the rest of Mr Allis Whitenblachs post yet, I’m waiting to see if he comes back to retract any of his arrogant grandstanding and namecalling after accusing me of hiding behind a pseudonym when my full name is in the very document under discussion, which he obviously hasn’t read closely enough to notice.

  359. tallbloke (09:38:26) :

    The difference between the theory of science and the politics of science is that the former is the desription of what should be going on, and the latter is the description of what actually is actually going on.

    There is where you are mistaken, I think. PNS appears to be not only a theory of what is actually going on, but a theory what should be going on. And that is what many of us are alarmed about.

    Basil

  360. The article by Jerome Ravetz is a thought-provoking treatise on Climategate and its causes.

    Ravetz starts off lamenting the “betrayal of public trust” at IPCC (Himalayagate) and UAE (FOIA violations). He compares “the debate is over” with “WMD beyond doubt”.

    He concludes that Climategate was created by “people within science”, rather than from outside influences (greedy corporations or an unscrupulous State).

    This conclusion is either contrived or naïve, as it ignores the fact that the “State” is financing those very “people within science”, and that this same “State” is looking for scientific justification for its plan to impose major new “carbon taxes” (see Mencken on “hobgoblins”).

    He states we should look at what “fostered and nourished” Climategate. Then brings in his idea of “Post-Normal-Science”, which Wiki defines, as follows:

    Post-Normal Science is a concept developed by Silvio Funtowicz and Jerome Ravetz, attempting to characterise a methodology of inquiry that is appropriate for cases where “facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high and decisions urgent”. It is primarily seen in the context of the debate ove global warming and other similar, long-term issues where we possess less information than we would like

    For me there is a basic problem of logic here. On the issue of AGW it is clear that “facts are uncertain and values are in dispute”. But it is anything but clear that “stakes are high and decisions are urgent”. The very fact that the “facts are uncertain and values are in dispute” raises serious questions about the claim that the “stakes are high and decisions are urgent”. The stakes are only high and urgent decisions are only required if we believe that the scientific support for this premise is valid. If this scientific support is based on bad, manipulated or agenda-driven “science” (as we are beginning to see), then the case for “high stakes” and the need for “urgent decisions” no longer exists.

    Ravetz’ next frightening statement could have been taken direct out of Orwell’s 1984 (or a script from Hitler or Stalin):

    When the policy domain seems unwilling or unable to recognise plain and urgent truths about a problem, the contradictions between scientific probity and campaigning zeal become acute. It is a perennial problem for all policy-relevant science, and it seems to have happened on a significant scale in the case of climate science. The management of uncertainty and quality in such increasingly common situations is now an urgent task for the governance of science.

    “Governance of science” by the makers of policy has an ominous “big brother” sound.

    Ravetz then goes on to examine “what went seriously wrong”, blaming a part on the “evangelical science of global warming”, which allowed the observation of a general warming trend, along with the known greenhouse properties and the increasing human emission of CO2, to be parleyed into an impending threat of dangerous AGW, as a “proven fact”.

    The scientists are given the largest share of the blame here for oversimplifying the case for AGW to make it understandable to politicians and the public. It is certainly true that the myopic fixation of IPCC on anthropogenic climate forcing factors to the essential exclusion of natural factors has led to oversimplified and even simplistic claims.

    But I would question Ravetz’ logic in claiming that this oversimplification was caused by the scientists, largely because of difficulties is explaining their complex science to politicians and the public.

    Instead, I believe it was programmed into “the DNA” of IPCC from its inception. IPCC was set up by politicians and bureaucrats to investigate human impacts on climate and identify possible mitigating steps to avoid negative impacts on society and the environment.

    No potentially threatening human-caused impacts = no need for IPCC to continue to exist.

    So it is clear that the oversimplification was not caused by the scientists, but rather by the politicians and bureaucrats, who then provided financial support for the “science” that would justify their political agenda, in other words “agenda driven science”.

    Ravetz points out the weaknesses of computer simulations in “normal science” involving complex scientific situations with high degree of uncertainty:

    The temptation among ‘normal’ scientists is to work as if their material is as simple as in the lab. If nothing else, that is the path to a steady stream of publications, on which a scientific career now so critically depends. The most obvious effect of this style is the proliferation of computer simulations, which give the appearance of solved puzzles even when neither data nor theory provide much support for the precision of their numerical outputs. Under such circumstances, a refined appreciation of uncertainty in results is inhibited, and even awareness of quality of workmanship can be atrophied.

    Ravetz points out that the global temperature models depend more on the assumed “storylines” that on anything else that and the assumed ranges in climate sensitivity are so high that any predictions are, by definition, questionable. Projected end-of-century temperature increase ranges from a barely noticeable 1°C to an alarming 6°C, based on these shaky assumptions.

    He then points out how “a small set of deeply uncertain tree-ring data for the Medieval period” was used to rewrite the historical evidence for the MWP, in the Mann et al. “hockey stick”, including the latest revelations of the “trick of hiding the post 1960 decline” in the reconstructed figures. But he fails to point out that the “hockeystick” had already been comprehensively refuted and discredited on scientific grounds as a fake prior to the current revelations.

    The predictions of severe weather events caused by AGW were politically necessary to frighten the public into accepting the AGW story. But, as Ravetz points out, they were based on even shakier science than the global temperature projections upon which they were based.

    Ravetz looks for rationalizations to explain the actions taken by the scientists when “facts are uncertain and values are in dispute”.

    He acknowledges that the political pressure was strong to find simple explanations of the imminent dangers in what had become a crusading “war on carbon”.

    But he then gets into rather theoretical and philosophical discussions about Thomas Kuhn and a “’pre-revolutionary’ phase of normal science”, where the scientists felt they were surrounded by uncertainty on one hand, but under pressure to provide a clear and compelling (if oversimplified) case to support the premise of potentially serious AGW on the other:

    Global warming science became the core element of this major worldwide campaign to save the planet. Any weakening of the scientific case would have amounted to a betrayal of the good cause, as well as a disruption of the growing research effort.

    Ravetz is explaining why the scientists manipulated and fabricated data to support the notion that AGW is a serious threat, i.e. to “save the planet” and BTW to get additional funding from the politicians to avoid “disruption of the growing research effort”.

    This explanation is only a small part of the story and Ravetz ignores the real cause for the bogus and massaged data.

    The root cause was political pressure to provide scientific support for a policy agenda (massive taxes on carbon). The policy makers who wanted to make these policy changes needed a “scientific” rationalization for the need for “action”. These same politicians controlled the funding for climate research. IPCC, which had been specifically set up to investigate human-caused climate change and its impacts on our society and environment, was the logical vehicle to spread the case for the urgent need for action.

    Ravetz mentions how these pressures caused scientists to corrupt the “peer review” process and withhold information from critics or independent auditors.

    We can understand the root cause of Climategate as a case of scientists constrained to attempt to do normal science in a post-normal situation. But climate change had never been a really ‘normal’ science, because the policy implications were always present and strong, even overwhelming. Indeed, if we look at the definition of ‘post-normal science’, we see how well it fits: facts uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high, and decisions urgent. In needing to treat Planet Earth like a textbook exercise, the climate scientists were forced to break the rules of scientific etiquette and ethics, and to play scientific power-politics in a way that inevitably became corrupt.

    Again, this is a rationalization of the behavior of the scientists resulting from “facts uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high, and decisions urgent” (i.e. the conditions for “post-normal science”, per his definition).

    It is undoubtedly true that facts were uncertain (they still are) and values were in dispute (ditto). But stakes were only high and decisions urgent if we believe the exaggerated claims that were made by the scientists to support the political “war on carbon” (and excuse for a major new tax on carbon). The sense of urgency was fabricated by “agenda driven science”.

    Ravetz then discusses the “debate is over” syndrome and the subsequent rapid “unraveling” of the science behind the AGW premise with the revelations of Climategate, etc.

    To explain how it all happened so quickly and decisively, we have the confluence of two developments, one social and the other technical. For the former, there is a lesson of Post-Normal Science, that we call the Extended Peer Community. In traditional ‘normal’ science, the peer community, performing the functions of quality-assurance and governance, is strictly confined to the researchers who share the paradigm. In the case of ‘professional consultancy’, the clients and/or sponsors also participate in governance. We have argued that in the case of Post-Normal Science, the ‘extended peer community’, including all affected by the policy being implemented, must be fully involved.

    There is no question that the peer review community has been extended, even to the blogosphere, as Ravetz states. Errors, omissions, exaggerations and just plain “bad science” in the IPCC reports have been pointed out by many critics, largely on the various blog sites, including this one.

    The absurd and arrogant statement that “the debate is over”, was a key precursor to the demise of the AGW premise. (The debate is never over in “normal science” and no one likes arrogance, especially if it is being funded by the taxpayer).

    Ravetz states:

    We can understand the root cause of Climategate as a case of scientists constrained to attempt to do normal science in a post-normal situation.

    To me this is simply a gobbledygook rationalization of bad scientific behavior by a cabal of highly influential publicly funded climatologists who had become activists in the “war on carbon” rather than impartial scientists.

    Was it a “post-normal situation” that climate science funding (by the politicians) depended on delivering the scientific message to support the policy agenda of the politicians giving the grants?

    Or was that just “politics as usual”, several hundreds of billions of dollars at stake and “agenda driven science”?

    Ravetz makes a strange observation:

    And what about the issue itself? Are we really experiencing Anthropogenic Carbon-based Global Warming? If the public loses faith in that claim, then the situation of science in our society will be altered for the worse.

    In other words the credibility of “science” in our society stands or falls with the validity of the premise that we are experiencing AGW and that it is a potentially serious threat for our society and our environment.

    This observation does not make sense. If the AGW premise is, indeed, refuted by the scientific evidence before us, then this gives “climate science” a new chance to redeem itself by doing real impartial science to find the “truth” about our planet’s climate rather than provide the “proof” to the politicians in order to support a politically motivated agenda.

    All in all, I would say that Ravetz’ essay is a “Trojan horse”. Its hidden agenda is to sell the concept that the impact of AGW could be so devastating that, despite the fact that we do not have all the scientific answers and facts, we must nevertheless act urgently to stop the potentially disastrous consequences.

    This is the whole basis for his concept of “post-normal science”. This is a bogus concept, which does not pass the test of logic.

    Ravetz tries to make his message palatable to AGW skeptics by starting out with accurate observations of what occurred to create Climategate, including “mea culpas” along the way.

    But by rationalizing the difficulties encountered by the scientists and seeing this as the primary problem that eventually led to Climategate, Ravetz ignores the real root cause of the problem.

    It is the politicians, not the scientists, that created AGW by setting up the IPCC and then purchasing the scientific community with public funding, in order to provide legitimacy for their political agenda.

    The problem was not the limitations of “normal science”, which require the application of “post-normal science”, as Ravetz postulates, it is that the whole AGW craze was based on “agenda driven science”.

    Max

  361. tallbloke (09:38:26) :

    The difference between the theory of science and the politics of science is that the former is the description of what should be going on, and the latter is the description of what actually is actually going on. . .

    And there, in a nutshell, is the problem with Prof. Ravetz’s approach to the philosophy of science: it’s all politics, colored by his own ideological preconceptions.

    To preserve the integrity of the discipline, real scientists have to stay focused on “what should be going on,” because “what actually is going on” will too often undermine that integrity. If you find yourself mired in political problems, the solution is to climb out by rededicating yourself to first principles, not to dig even deeper into the political muck.

    There are some, however, who find the political muck to their liking, and forget what science is supposed to be. I expect most here can come up with names.

    /Mr Lynn

  362. Tom Kennedy (05:43:20) :

    “Just because the facts have demonstrated otherwise, that need not falsify their “truth” based on their experience of the situation, feelings and emotions. No one else has the right to say what their “truth” is. Their feelings are their truth…Truth is not a reflection of the facts but how I feel about things. The result is a favoured group is rewarded at the expense of others based on a nonsense theory and in exchange for political support.”

    In an increasingly post modern world, normal science should be given an even greater importance, not less importance. It is the only really effective cultural tool that I can think of which can run counter to the post modern tendency of having all personal opinions about things validated by default.

    Of course, feelings are extremely important- and I think that the post modernist rush to champion feelings over facts was maybe due to some kind of imbalance previously in Western culture where feelings weren’t really given their due (I wasn’t around in the 50′s, but shows like Leave it to Beaver kind of give me the impression that the former half of the 20th C probably wasn’t very touchy feely). ;)

    These days people can have their own ideas about things and it’s all cool. But hard science should still be there to temper things, to be able to show a different result to the one that you think you will get. That’s the strength of normal science! Turning science into something which will automatically agree with whatever you’re trying to prove is the complete opposite of what it originally set out to do. That’s why the public is getting anxious over this Climategate stuff. We can understand that if this is all let to go on for too long, without criticism or reform, then we will have eventually told ourselves that no longer care, we will have lost the appreciation for this ability (given to us by science) to arrive at new knowledge independent of our current ideas about things. We will actually have lost the means of arriving at any new knowledge AT ALL because that scientific neutrality won’t be there to challenge our prior assumptions about things. That’s both frightening and very, very depressing. It’s also completely boring.

    Normal science is important- even more so in a post normal world.

  363. The tenets of Post Normal Science demand that ‘outsiders’ get the opportunity to have input to the policy forming process. Jerry Ravetz writes:
    “This new peer community can also deploy ‘extended facts’, including local and personal experience, as well as investigative journalism and leaked sources. So Post-Normal Science is inevitably political, and involves a new extension of legitimacy and power”.

    Sorry, but all this sounds too good to be true. An organization of unaffiliated intellectuals who are just out to see that “minority” views get a proper vetting. How egalitarian of them.

    Is there any clear evidence that Post Normalists demanded such airing of skeptical viewpoints (certainly in the minority over the past three years) in the face of their own clearly-held AGW beliefs?

    They just seem overly-intellectualized, disingenuous, and strangely passive (if they do not support active, “normal” experimentation, their comments are nothing more cotton candy spun up out of their own opinions). No, their writing is layer-upon layer of tasty philosophical fluff with little to sink one’s teeth into (notwithstanding Ravetze’s mantra-like repetition of PN tenets), designed (if that’s the word) to help further their extreme anti-development, progressive, AGW agenda. One needn’t read far amongst the musings of the PN homepage to find such comments as these, by regular contributor, Sylvia S. Tognetti :

    I could not get out of bed in the morning if I did not believe that emissions can actually be reduced with the right economic incentives – but they won’t just happen without making some tough policy decisions. And conservation in land use practices, along with the use of biochar, could actually take a lot of carbon out of the atmosphere and put it in the soil where it can increase productivity and begin to restore degraded lands, which will be critical when there are 9 million mouths to feed. But it won’t be nearly enough to slow down climate change unless it goes hand in hand with the reduction of emissions.

    Without knowing much about Mr. Ravetz’s personal convictions, other than that he seems to commend the “dialogue”, of late supported, moderated and inflected by technologies and blogs such as his is a good thing. If Mr. Ravetz has indeed changed his position on AGW recently, and now offers his (value-added) moderation in the service of challenging new discussion, one might suspect him and his blogging cohorts of being very smart, sharp-tongued, but decidedly disingenuous and unscientific (did she say 9 million mouths?!) policy analysts for hire. We have enough of those, as this one, which incubated our current head of NOAA, http://www.climatecentral.org/

  364. manacker,

    you make some good points. The confusion in my mind, is that Ravetz has given no clear description of what PNS is. From your wiki description, I guess he expects the reader to have an a priori knowledge of what he means. The question then, is how is this post normal science supposed to look? If we could rerun the tape, but use Ravetz’s PNS instead, what would the due process of science have looked like? In what ways would it have differed from what transpired?

  365. MrLynn (10:05:22) :

    tallbloke (09:38:26) :

    The difference between the theory of science and the politics of science is that the former is the description of what should be going on, and the latter is the description of what actually is actually going on. . .

    And there, in a nutshell, is the problem with Prof. Ravetz’s approach to the philosophy of science: it’s all politics, colored by his own ideological preconceptions.

    To preserve the integrity of the discipline, real scientists have to stay focused on “what should be going on,” because “what actually is going on” will too often undermine that integrity. If you find yourself mired in political problems, the solution is to climb out by rededicating yourself to first principles, not to dig even deeper into the political muck.

    Admirable sentiments, but the point is Jerry Ravetz is addressing the reality of the act that this isn’t what is actually happening. And it’s not just climate science. The interference of political, cultural, and other prejudices along with money issues has been embedded in the science actually practised by many scientists all the way through.

    Examples:
    C19th Craniology – the ‘science’ of determining intelligence from the measurement of peoples skulls. – Eventually fell out of favour when some black african tribes turned out to have bigger cranial capacities. So, onto the next one…
    C20th IQ testing. Sir Cyril Burt and his crew of racists determining immigrant’s intelligence by asking them damnfool questions about U.S. Football teams. Eventually debunked, but still surprisingly well entrenched.

    Of course, there is plenty of good science going on too, but when you look at the academic pharmaceutical research paid for by the big pharma companies for example, you’ll find another big money driven can of worms ripe for investigation.

    I cold go on, but you get the picture, I hope. The long and the short of it is, you can’t seperate scientists from the culture they are embedded in. Much as they will protest their objectivity. A lot of the time it’s not a big problem, but as you can see from the above exmples, and what we’ve seen in climate science, it can turn into one.

  366. It seems that ‘post-normal science’ is to ‘normal science’ what quantum mechanics was to Newtonian mechanics.

    Now whilst the rules of quantum physics are intrinsically uncertain, it doesn’t mean science can’t be carried out within the new rules with due attention to rigour.

    The scary scenario seems slightly misplaced to me.

    ‘Entry into a new plane of consciousness’ might describe things more accurately, do you think??

  367. Irony is difficult to present in print. The tone of the voice and visual cues are not present.

    David, Oliver, Indiana and Stephen seem to have missed the irony in the “totalitarian” paragraph. I didn’t see any yesterday.

    And I still don’t. I dismissed that idea when I saw how well the totalitarian paragraph paired with the start of Paragraph 2.

    In Para. 2 Ravetz says:

    “This scandal, and the resulting crisis, was created by people within science who can be presumed to have been acting with the best of intentions. In the event of a serious discrediting of the global-warming claims, public outrage would therefore be directed at the community of science itself,”

    Doesn’t the totalitarian paragraph agree?. He seems willing to accept a great deal of what can only be termed propaganda and error in order to support the edifice of policy commitments for Carbon Reduction.

    Here is that paragraph again for the readers convenience.

    “And what about the issue itself? Are we really experiencing Anthropogenic Carbon-based Global Warming? If the public loses faith in that claim, then the situation of science in our society will be altered for the worse. There is very unlikely to be a crucial experience that either confirms or refutes the claim; the post-normal situation is just too complex. The consensus is likely to depend on how much trust can still be put in science. The whole vast edifice of policy commitments for Carbon reduction, with their many policy prescriptions and quite totalitarian moral exhortations, will be at risk of public rejection. What sort of chaos would then result? The consequences for science in our civilisation would be extraordinary.”

    I salute Ravetz for the essay and hope he responds to this very long stream of comments. He leaves no doubt that concealment, deception. and shoddy work in Science cannot be tolerated.

    Too bad so clear about the rules, or lack of them, when Post-Normal Science deals with Carbon Reduction and more broadly with the management of uncertainties.

  368. Dear Mr. Roger “tallbloke” Tattersall:

    My apologies, your name was indeed in the lead post. I fear that I was too busy alternately puking and screaming from the puerile and dangerous sentiments expressed in that post to notice. My bad, no excuses. Thank you for the explanation.

    With that out of the way, could you answer my questions (Willis Eschenbach (00:18:29)) now, Roger? Could you explain what “quality” is, and why we should pay any attention to it? Could you tell us why we should not kick poor widdle Phillie Jones when he is down? You have left a whole host of questions unanswered.

    Thanks,

    w.

    PS – you say:

    The difference between the theory of science and the politics of science is that the former is the desription of what should be going on, and the latter is the description of what actually is actually going on.

    What is actually going on in the field of climate is not science by any stretch of the imagination. Hiding data and concealing methods and conspiring to marginalize people who disagree with you is not science at all. We don’t need to go forward to some new “science” built on “quality”. We need to go back to what science used to be.

  369. Why is it, that book learned, high IQ, well educated, natural scientists who have very good social connections and wealth alla ALLGORE? So concerned, about the self-taught, experianced, regular guy with just a high school education or less. hard working, beer drinking, just getting by like my friends and we don’t save much in savings, kinda of people. You AGW/PNS scientists don’t work for peanuts like Mr. Goodyear. He liked the automobile a bunch. He worked his ass off just so he could make a pile of money… You could not stop that guy, he just kept going on his own! My kind of scientist. No rubber science books at the time either. I thought man has evolved and we are all supposed to be feeling better? What’s Up With That? TALLBLOKE

  370. As a widely read logician – and being far too old to give a hang either way – I’ve concluded that GW/AGW isn’t science. It’s pyramid selling. In fact, I’ll offer the world a brand-new name for for ‘Post Normal Science’: PONZIence. As for the good Mr Ravetz, I was with him most of the way until he mentioned ‘faith’. I’m not interested in faith. I want facts.

  371. Bill Parsons (10:32:02) :

    The tenets of Post Normal Science demand that ‘outsiders’ get the opportunity to have input to the policy forming process. Jerry Ravetz writes:
    “This new peer community can also deploy ‘extended facts’, including local and personal experience, as well as investigative journalism and leaked sources. So Post-Normal Science is inevitably political, and involves a new extension of legitimacy and power”.

    Sorry, but all this sounds too good to be true. An organization of unaffiliated intellectuals who are just out to see that “minority” views get a proper vetting. How egalitarian of them.

    Is there any clear evidence that Post Normalists demanded such airing of skeptical viewpoints (certainly in the minority over the past three years) in the face of their own clearly-held AGW beliefs?

    No. And I for one share your scepticism. The point is, PNS as a concept is what you make it. It can be remoulded and re-used, for example as a mirror to wave in front of those very people who have espoused their own version of it. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander as they say, and the irony of the way the sceptical blogosphere has made use of technology, the internet media, investigative journalism and leaked documents is not lost on Jerry Ravetz. He is old enough and wise enough to recognise a thoroughly deserved petard hoisting when he sees one. And he genuinely cares about scientific truth as an overarching concern too, which is why he has soaked up the information I have passed to him over the last weeks and written this essay. He was lied to and duped by mainstream climatology, and he’s sore about it.

    Whether or not we care is another question, though we have welcomed other converts here with open arms. A few seem to regard him as some kind of ‘godfather of fraudulent science’. Maybe that’s just the scapegoating of an individual to avoid confronting the deeper malaise within institutional science and it’s pre-paid links with public policy formation. Time will tell.

  372. ‘Post Normal Science’ has successfully diverted attention away from evidence of corruption, deception, influence peddling and data manipulation.

    If you can’t defeat them with facts, bamboozle them with BS!

    That’s what it looks like to me.

    Oliver K. Manuel

  373. Thank you TALLBLOKE, Your answer was clear. I qualify as an ‘outsider’. Having read a whole bunch of stuff dealing with AGW & The-New-And-Improved-Values-Added==PNS… I know for certain that this stuff is a pile of BS. It is good to know. Trust me and save yourself some valuable time.

  374. Mike Post (08:39:31)

    Two points from Ravetz’s paper:

    1. “This was not merely that there are signs of exceptional disturbance in the ecosphere due to human influence, nor even that the climate might well be changing more rapidly now than for a very long time. “

    Sound like something from a Shakespeare play. What exactly are these signs?

    Mike, I asked that same question above, and like you, I got no answer. But you see, Post Normal Science is about inclusion and “quality”, not about answering the hard questions, and particularly not about asking the hard questions …

    w.

  375. Me, I’m confused about what “post normal science” actually is.

    Normally, you’d think the postnormalists should be able to tell you. But they can’t by virtue of what post normal science is in the first place: basically everyone and their mother gets to vote on what “science”, “truth”, “facts”, “good” and everything else is, so it’s always malleable as to what anything “is”.

    Thus scientific meaning is destroyed, but so is the very meaning of words themselves, because you have to “vote” on those too, which obviously implies an infinite regress into nothingness.

    The whole idea of postnormal anything is to produce a society where ‘might makes right’, and that’s all there is to it, because that’s the only thing which “means” anything.

    Again, by virtue of what postnormalists would “say” about what it is, it follows that no one can know if s/he ever really understands what is “said”, including the postnormalists themselves. It’s about the same as “subjectivism” and “relativism”, which actually preclude the possibility that their proponents can even meaningfully state their own philosophies such that anyone would ever really know what they are talking about.

  376. tallbloke (12:07:15) :
    Maybe that’s just the scapegoating of an individual to avoid confronting the deeper malaise within institutional science and it’s pre-paid links with public policy formation.

    Unfortunately, you did not respond to my earlier question, and you now perpetuate the idea that Ravetz is perhaps being horribly misunderstood and misrepresented. I want to address your comments and Ravetz’s essay, but I first need to ask a question. Are you acquainted with Marxist theories and word definitions? If so, are you acquainted with Marxist theories and doctrines regarding the role of science in human affairs?

    Many of the comments in this thread complain about the lack of a theme in Ravetz’s essay, inconsistent statements by Ravetz in his various publications, and other perplexing or bewildering problems with his comments. I would observe in response that Ravetz is much more understandable if and when the reader examines and interprets Ravetz’s statements firstly within the context and boundaries of Marxist language and theory.

    I appreciate the oppportunity to read and debate Ravetz’s essay, if only to refute it and encourage readers to understand the faults in the essay and its underlying basis.

  377. Tall bloke’s support for Prof Ravetz is commendable for its humanity and friendliness, but it is based on the authenticity (or not) of Ravetz’ deathbed conversion. What puts this in doubt as Willis has pointed out is that Ravetz confesses the sins of everybody else but not his own and then has the arrogance to lecture us on how to do science! Astounding! The insistance on PNS, obviously the corruption of method that enabled the entire AGW disaster in the first place, shows he has repented little. Conversion is only compatible with humility and there is none here except expressed for others. So just what is happening here?

    The ruthlessness with which he casts away former colleagues in his history of the debacle, to preserve his own skin is most reminiscent of the Soviet Union’s callous disregard for its own soldiers after WW2. The term ‘useful idiots’ also comes to mind. So AGW was never the game itself but a fig leaf for a deeper project.

    Is it a mere coincidence that AGW sprang into prominence around the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union? Is it likely that all the true believers in Marxism/communism slunk away or changed their minds at that time? The quote that science advances on the death of those who hold a contrary position says that even scientists, who must maintain the most open minds among us, find it difficult to set aside their presuppositions. How much less true believers in the god of Marx!

    Lenin’s plan for revolution involved the early takeover of newspapers, the media of the day. How is the media doing now? PNS represents an attempt to suborn the authority of science, in the service of the undying plan to create a Marxist utopia, and this is one god that is not short of priests.

    Science has dodged a bullet. Its long term total corruption was in view, but the resilience which coalesced in an unexpected place, has provided a reprieve. I hope that democracy itself will find a ability to overcome the threat that comes from those who find it a green field for totalitarian acquisition of power.

  378. I don’t see how presenting a paper – formally formatted or not – at WUWT or ClimateAudit is Post-Normal Science or a resort to PNS

    It is merely material that has not been published in the traditional forums.

    Publish and peer review is both a protocol and an activity. Call it the PPRP. It is not Science of itself.

    A faction in Climate Science used PPRP as a barrier for a few years to frustrate what they felt was inconvenient noise and/or barbarians at the gate.

    Was it like this?

    To be proved: Your work is garbage.

    Axiom. If you don’t pass or use PPRP your work is garbage.

    Constraint. If you are not vetted by us you will not pass or use PPRP.

    Evidence. You didn’t pass or use PPRP.

    Q,E,D. Your work is garbage.

    The “tribal” explanation, among others, fits ClimateGate well enough. Is Post-Anything applicable to explaining rascals, falsehoods, and sloppy work?

  379. Willis Eschenbach (11:55:18) :

    Dear Mr. Roger “tallbloke” Tattersall:

    My apologies, your name was indeed in the lead post. I fear that I was too busy alternately puking and screaming from the puerile and dangerous sentiments expressed in that post to notice. My bad, no excuses. Thank you for the explanation.

    With that out of the way, could you answer my questions (Willis Eschenbach (00:18:29)) now, Roger? Could you explain what “quality” is, and why we should pay any attention to it? Could you tell us why we should not kick poor widdle Phillie Jones when he is down? You have left a whole host of questions unanswered.

    Thanks,

    Willis, thanks for that, I don’t want to fall out with someone whose work I admire, so I’m happy to accept the apology you have ‘manned up’ to.

    Willis Eschenbach (00:18:29)
    Ravetz:
    It is when the textbook analogy fails, that science in the policy context must become post-normal. When facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high, and decisions urgent the traditional guiding principle of research science, the goal of achievement of truth or at least of factual knowledge, must be substantially modified. In post-normal conditions, such products may be a luxury, indeed an irrelevance. Here, the guiding principle is a more robust one, that of quality.

    It could well be argued that quality has always been the effective principle in practical research science, but it was largely ignored by the dominant philosophy and ideology of science. For post-normal science, quality becomes crucial, and quality refers to process at least as much as to product. It is increasingly realised in policy circles that in complex environment issues, lacking neat solutions and requiring support from all stakeholders, the quality of the decision-making process is absolutely critical for the achievement of an effective product in the decision. This new understanding applies to the scientific aspect of decision-making as much as to any other.

    Big list of Willis’ questions about exactly what Ravetz means by “quality”

    I can’t and won’t answer for exact meaning of Jerry Ravetz words. I am not his advocate or spokesman. He may clarify some of these definitions in the followup post he intends to write, or he may refer you to a passage of text adjacent to the small part of his writing you excerpted.

    What I will say is that you still seem to be ignoring the distinction I have offered to you three times, regarding the difference between quantifiable work done in the lab or field prior to the policy debate, and the arguability of conflicting scientific results from different places at the policy making table. The area Ravetz is referring to. I think if you could get your head round that, a lot of your questions would be resolved, because what you frequently hear from competing scientists with opposing results, is the accusation that the opponent’s work is of low quality…

    Policy makers have to weigh up competing arguments thay are not really equipped to deal with. Furthermore, there may be other concerns thay have to take into consideration, societal values, taboos, cost implications etc etc.

    Not all these things are easily or at all quantifiable, and so this is why Ravetz, who has in the past as part of his professional work sat on ethics committies and played a part in trying to untangle all these conflicting and competing factors, talks about quality as an issue beyond the lab door.

    Popperian falsifiability is great in theory, but frequently can’t work in the lab, let alone out of it. One of the many examples i could give, having studied the subject for seven years as a mechanical engineer (I machined some of the bits of the CERN accelerator), is that of experimental equipment design. If you design an expensive to make piece of equipment to find a certain shaped bit of subatomic ephemera which whizzes past within a certain range of velocities, then that is what the said piece of equipment will find. It won’t find the different particle that no-one thought of yet which travels around in a different way. So finding the expected particle seems to confirm the theory, but has missed the other perhaps more fundamental particle which would cause a rethink of the whole classification and subdivision of the quantum field. the problem is, if you go tell the pro vice chancellor of the university that you need another ten machines, the bursar is going to have a heart attack, so you make do.

    I also spent three years studying a degree in the history and philosophy of science, so I feel qualified to crap on about this stuff. :-)

  380. Elsewhere, scholars are exploring methods for managing disagreement among scientists, so that such post-normal issues do not need to become so disastrously polarised. A distinguished scholar, Sheila Jasanoff, has called for a culture of humility among scientists, itself a radical move towards a vision of a non-violent science.

    I don’t know, does that load of subrational, elitist, denialistic, arrogant narcissistic controllism even need much comment?

    Ok, perhaps another translation: we primitive tribes and pre-postnormal people just need some enlightened-by-self-annointment guidance from postnormals so as to get us to be what the postnormals want us to be, normal Slaves. But do I at least get my choice between Victory Gin and Lobotomy?

  381. Tallbloke:

    Your explanations, and others’ praise, should urge tolerance and better understanding of some of Ravetz and his ideas. I’m glad he’s had an advocate here to moderate this thead. However, I feel a bit frustrated by writing that walks so guardedly among so many other entrenched positions without ever seeming to stake out its own ground. Setting aside the questions of the future, you can’t do climate history without being mindful of the past.

    What’s his take on the Medieval Warm Period, for example? Establishing a few simple milestones would go a long way to showing where he’s coming from. These standards would best come from the horse’s mouth.

  382. Roger tallbloke, you say:

    The point is, PNS as a concept is what you make it. It can be remoulded and re-used, for example as a mirror to wave in front of those very people who have espoused their own version of it. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander as they say, and the irony of the way the sceptical blogosphere has made use of technology, the internet media, investigative journalism and leaked documents is not lost on Jerry Ravetz. He is old enough and wise enough to recognise a thoroughly deserved petard hoisting when he sees one. And he genuinely cares about scientific truth as an overarching concern too, which is why he has soaked up the information I have passed to him over the last weeks and written this essay. He was lied to and duped by mainstream climatology, and he’s sore about it.

    First, I don’t want a concept that is “what I make it”. I want something that is clear and solid, something that is a valid and unchanging guide. I don’t want something that can’t be “re-moulded and re-used” as you correctly say PNS can. PNS was adapted and championed by Mike Hulme of the CRU … coincidence? I don’t think so. It is specifically because PNS can be all things to all men, in the name of “quality” (which you still have not defined), that makes it such a piece of junk. It has no bones, it has no strength. It is New Age flim-flammery, that provides no rules, no guidelines, no means for discriminating between shit and shinola.

    As a result, those of us who care about scientific truth and the scientific method were lied to as well, but we were not duped. Those of us who think that the essence of science is “quality”, on the other hand, were duped. You might reflect long and hard on that, and what that means about PNS.

    Whether or not we care is another question, though we have welcomed other converts here with open arms. A few seem to regard him as some kind of ‘godfather of fraudulent science’. Maybe that’s just the scapegoating of an individual to avoid confronting the deeper malaise within institutional science and it’s pre-paid links with public policy formation. Time will tell.

    Oh, please. Many of us, both here on WUWT and elsewhere, have been railing for years against the malaise of climate science with its pre-paid link. Trying to pretend that it is us and not Jerry Ravetz who are “scapegoating” is once again trying to blame the victim. Where were his brilliant insights when we needed them?

    Look, Professor Ravetz is someone with a whole new view of the essential problems with science, and what is needed to fix them. I applaud his efforts in that regard. But since he got “duped”, as you say, and duped by what was obviously bullshit to the rest of us, that means that something is very wrong with his whiz-bang new view of science.

    But in response to that, he just says ‘I was duped, but I’m still 100% right about whats wrong with science’. Sorry, but if he were right about what’s wrong with science, he should have been the hardest person on the planet to dupe.

    I welcome true converts with open arms. Welcoming someone who says he was duped, but that his cockamamie vision of science requires no adjustments despite it contributing directly his obvious dupability … not so much. He couldn’t detect bullshit when he was up to his knees in it, but now he has seen the light and wants to lecture us on what bovine excrement smells like? Sorry, no sale.

    If he were a true scientist, he wouldn’t come to lecture us about PNS. He would come to tell us what was wrong with his magical PNS system that allowed him to be duped. He would tell us exactly how and where he has changed his theory to reflect his new insights from being chumped by the CRU fools. That’s what real scientists do when they are shown to be wrong, they go back and re-examine their assumptions to see where they went off the rails. They change their theory to reflect the new facts. Has he done that? Oh, I forgot, he doesn’t believe in facts or truth, he believes in “quality”, and I guess he got such a high-quality reaming that he didn’t notice that he was being punkd …

    Anything else is just a con job from a man who is very late to the party. He’s still pushing his same tired line, despite the fact that it led him down the garden path to Sucker City. He’s like a rube who just got taken in New York City playing pea-under-the-shell, but who now wants to claim that he knew exactly how the game was rigged before he went to the Big Apple.

    If he knew how the science game was being rigged, he wouldn’t have been suckered by the CRU Three Card Monte crew … but he was. Doesn’t say much for the validity of his insights and his PNS theories.

  383. This is the real point:

    “the difference between quantifiable work done in the lab or field prior to the policy debate, and the arguability of conflicting scientific results from different places at the policy making table.”

    Conflicting scientific results is the essence of science until the truth is determined.

    The arguability derived from such conflicting results is pure politics.

    Why should one merge the science and the politics and then call it post normal science ?

    The only conceivable purpose is to utilise the integrity of ‘normal’ science to enforce a political decision which has adopted one of the conflicting results over the other for purely political reasons.

    But that is a criminal deception because the masses are deprived of the knowledge that there are conflicting scientific results. Thus a specific political agenda can be followed by the governing elite along a route that they prefer for non scientific (usually ideology or power seeking or both) reasons and which might well turn out to be based on the incorrect scientific result at a later date.

    And because a deception would then be exposed they have to continue the deception in the face of truth to save their skins despite the devastation that might be caused to the mass of the people.

    Given how often conflicting scientific results arise they are likely to make an incorrect policy decision 50% of the time so the entire society collapses in due course as has been the case with every society in history that tried it.

    PNS is not new, it’s not clever, it’s how power was always acquired and applied. Only the true and now, thank God, ‘normal’ scientific method ruthlessly separated from politics has enabled the past 500 years to be a watershed for humanity globally.

    Poor old Ravetz is quite simply a dinosaur, a throwback, well past sell by date yet he doesn’t even know it.

    Society moved on 500 years ago and he wants to row back to the Dark Ages.

    Why do such people think they are radical reformers ? When they talk about ignorance do they look in the mirror ?

    Sorry tallbloke but you’ve been had.

  384. Roger, thanks for your further comments. You say:

    I can’t and won’t answer for exact meaning of Jerry Ravetz words. I am not his advocate or spokesman. He may clarify some of these definitions in the followup post he intends to write, or he may refer you to a passage of text adjacent to the small part of his writing you excerpted.

    So are you unwilling to say what “quality” is, or are you unable to say what “quality” is, or what? Look, the guy is here at your invitation, you obviously believe his PNS theory, how about you forget about him and just tell us what you think he means by “quality”?

    What I will say is that you still seem to be ignoring the distinction I have offered to you three times, regarding the difference between quantifiable work done in the lab or field prior to the policy debate, and the arguability of conflicting scientific results from different places at the policy making table. The area Ravetz is referring to. I think if you could get your head round that, a lot of your questions would be resolved, because what you frequently hear from competing scientists with opposing results, is the accusation that the opponent’s work is of low quality…

    If what happens after science in the lab or the field is what Ravetz is talking about, then it is not “Post Normal Science” at all. It is “Post Normal Politics”.

    Policy makers have to weigh up competing arguments thay are not really equipped to deal with. Furthermore, there may be other concerns thay have to take into consideration, societal values, taboos, cost implications etc etc.

    Not all these things are easily or at all quantifiable, and so this is why Ravetz, who has in the past as part of his professional work sat on ethics committies and played a part in trying to untangle all these conflicting and competing factors, talks about quality as an issue beyond the lab door.

    How is this a new question requiring a new answer? Science has always been tentative and uncertain. Even our most cherished scientific ideas are overturned on a regular basis (e.g. Newtonian mechanics, plate techtonics, ad infinitum).

    Despite that, we’ve managed this state of uncertainty very well for centuries … so why do we need a new theory of science (which now appears to be a new theory of politics, since as you say it happens after the science in lab or field is done)?

    And more to the point, how does introducing the idea of “quality” help us at all? One mans quality is another mans poorly done experiment, so where is the gain in focusing on quality? Especially when you, as a proponent of the method, either can’t or won’t tell us what “quality” means.

  385. Willis, fair enough. I’ll just point out that not everyone has been as focussed on climate science as we have been. But I’m not out to make excuses for Jerry Ravetz, his interests in environmental toxicology have probably been nicely complimented by the party line on global warming, and he has been happy enough to go along with it in the past without looking too hard, probably because it has made his path easier.

    There are plenty of ‘normal scientists’ in hard quantificatory science fields who have done the same for reasons of salary and position. They are keeping their heads well below the parapet.

  386. tallbloke sez:

    Popperian falsifiability is great in theory, but frequently can’t work in the lab, let alone out of it. One of the many examples i could give, having studied the subject for seven years as a mechanical engineer (I machined some of the bits of the CERN accelerator), is that of experimental equipment design. If you design an expensive to make piece of equipment to find a certain shaped bit of subatomic ephemera which whizzes past within a certain range of velocities, then that is what the said piece of equipment will find. It won’t find the different particle that no-one thought of yet which travels around in a different way. So finding the expected particle seems to confirm the theory, but has missed the other perhaps more fundamental particle which would cause a rethink of the whole classification and subdivision of the quantum field. the problem is, if you go tell the pro vice chancellor of the university that you need another ten machines, the bursar is going to have a heart attack, so you make do.

    I also spent three years studying a degree in the history and philosophy of science, so I feel qualified to crap on about this stuff. :-)

    You’ll have to give us another example of Popperian falsifiability, because I don’t see falsifiability at play in your example at all. Unless I’m missing something obvious (which is always possible and perhaps even probable) nothing in your experiment falsified anything. Nor was it designed to. It was designed, as you say, to confirm something, not to falsify anything … what am I missing here?

  387. Willis Eschenbach (13:49:11) :

    Roger, thanks for your further comments. You say:

    I can’t and won’t answer for exact meaning of Jerry Ravetz words. I am not his advocate or spokesman. He may clarify some of these definitions in the followup post he intends to write, or he may refer you to a passage of text adjacent to the small part of his writing you excerpted.

    So are you unwilling to say what “quality” is, or are you unable to say what “quality” is, or what? Look, the guy is here at your invitation, you obviously believe his PNS theory

    No. I think there are elements of what he says about the way science is practised and the way knowledge is evaluated which are interesting and worthy of discussion, but I am not an adherent of anyones philosophy but my own.

  388. The scientific process is simple. Most pursuits of truth are simple. Anyone who attempts to complicate the process is merely attempting to control it for their own agenda.

    The scientist is a truth seeker and a protector of the common good by ensuring that truth is available to common people. Openness and honesty with self and others is the building block of all scientific works.

    Some of the best scientists and politicians are non-career participants who stand to gain little fame or fortune by doing their work. They provide their services when the need arises and they get out when they are no longer needed. These days, with career scientists and politicians, we see an anything goes routine in an effort to stay in office or pursue tenure.

    The AGW storyline results in a trillion dollar wholesale conversion of society, funded by a tax to the common person. This is why we find science-minded honest people have dedicated their lives (WUWT, ClimateAudit, etc) to providing the truth.

    Everyone has access to science, anyone can refute the claims of a storyline, the authority resides within all of us to act on behalf of what is true and good in this world.

    There need not be an effort to repair science to the level of the public trust. The public should never be complacent to trust science to get it right. The skepticism of the public is the greatest power to science and ultimately what is causing this healing process.

    Ravetz’ article mingles truth with falsehood and ultimately becomes rhetoric. Any detailed review of Ravetz’ writings will show that he has long been on the wrong side of the common good. Although I believe his reconciliation may be honest and timely. HE SHOULD NOT BE ENLISTED TO “CHAMPION” THE CALL BACK TO HONEST SCIENCE AND THE PURSUIT OF TRUTH IN THE CLASSICAL SENSE.

    He should be carefully monitored along with other like minded associate, many of whom are referenced at http://www.postnormaltimes.com.

    Best Regards,

    Brian Schaible

  389. @ Willis Eschenbach

    “But you see, Post Normal Science is about inclusion and “quality”, not about answering the hard questions, and particularly not about asking the hard questions …”

    This is also pretty much a definition of that modern malaise Political Correctness…

  390. Willis Eschenbach (13:57:09) :

    You’ll have to give us another example of Popperian falsifiability, because I don’t see falsifiability at play in your example at all. Unless I’m missing something obvious (which is always possible and perhaps even probable) nothing in your experiment falsified anything. Nor was it designed to. It was designed, as you say, to confirm something, not to falsify anything … what am I missing here?

    Wel that’s the point of the example really. We hear much talk about the scientific method being designed to produce theories with falsifiable content, but out at the limits of knowledge, such as subatomic physics, a kind of confirmation bias can creep in. You think you know what you are looking for, so you design things to find it. Can you imagine the pro vice chancellors reaction when you tell him you need anothr ltimillion pound particle buster so you can confirm quarks which exhibit cheekiness don’t exist?

    He’s going to say something like:
    “Why can’t you be more like th philosophy department? All they ask me to pay for is paper, pencils, and waste baskets.

    :-)

  391. Am I the only one beginning to wonder whether Oxford’s Professor Jerome Ravetz and tallbloke’s “Jerry Ravetz” are two entirely different people? What Jerome has written and what tallbloke says “Jerry” means are not at all the same thing. Perhaps therein lies the reason for the dialogue of the deaf which Willis is perforce conducting with Mr. Tattersall.

    Reply: They are two different people. Tallbloke is also a moderator here and does an excellent job of separating his opinions from his objective work as moderator. ~ ctm

  392. liamascorcaigh (14:14:58) :

    Am I the only one beginning to wonder whether Oxford’s Professor Jerome Ravetz and tallbloke’s “Jerry Ravetz” are two entirely different people? What Jerome has written and what tallbloke says “Jerry” means are not at all the same thing. Perhaps therein lies the reason for the dialogue of the deaf which Willis is perforce conducting with Mr. Tattersall.

    There is something in what you say, though maybe not for the reasons you assume. I have had a lot of contact with Jerry Ravetz over the last weeks in private email. This has probably coloured my appraisals in ways not accesible via his essay. Also, I have a different take on Jerry’s PNS theory than Jerry does, and it has been a problem separating the two in trying to respond to the comments of others, when I am being called on to clarify what Jerry means by this or that detail.

  393. Reply: They are two different people. Tallbloke is also a moderator here and does an excellent job of separating his opinions from his objective work as moderator. ~ ctm

    Thanks Charles. My multiple personalities have now formed a consensus, so you must all listen to me. :-)

  394. tallbloke (14:02:27)

    Willis Eschenbach (13:49:11) :

    Roger, thanks for your further comments. You say:

    I can’t and won’t answer for exact meaning of Jerry Ravetz words. I am not his advocate or spokesman. He may clarify some of these definitions in the followup post he intends to write, or he may refer you to a passage of text adjacent to the small part of his writing you excerpted.

    So are you unwilling to say what “quality” is, or are you unable to say what “quality” is, or what? Look, the guy is here at your invitation, you obviously believe his PNS theory

    No. I think there are elements of what he says about the way science is practised and the way knowledge is evaluated which are interesting and worthy of discussion, but I am not an adherent of anyones philosophy but my own.

    Doesn’t answer my question. Are you unwilling or are you unable to say what you think he means by “quality”?

    w.

  395. tallbloke (14:10:37) : edit

    Willis Eschenbach (13:57:09) :

    You’ll have to give us another example of Popperian falsifiability, because I don’t see falsifiability at play in your example at all. Unless I’m missing something obvious (which is always possible and perhaps even probable) nothing in your experiment falsified anything. Nor was it designed to. It was designed, as you say, to confirm something, not to falsify anything … what am I missing here?

    Wel that’s the point of the example really. We hear much talk about the scientific method being designed to produce theories with falsifiable content, but out at the limits of knowledge, such as subatomic physics, a kind of confirmation bias can creep in. You think you know what you are looking for, so you design things to find it. Can you imagine the pro vice chancellors reaction when you tell him you need anothr ltimillion pound particle buster so you can confirm quarks which exhibit cheekiness don’t exist?

    He’s going to say something like:
    “Why can’t you be more like th philosophy department? All they ask me to pay for is paper, pencils, and waste baskets.

    :-)

    And this negates the Popperian idea of falsifiability how?

    Look, there are two parts of science. Discovering new stuff, and poking holes in new and old stuff. As you point out, it’s generally easier to get money for the former.

    So? That doesn’t make falsifiability obsolete. Quite the opposite, it makes it more important.

  396. Willis Eschenbach (15:08:52) :

    Doesn’t answer my question. Are you unwilling or are you unable to say what you think he means by “quality”?

    Willis, he spends half a book banging on about it. How do you expect me to summarize it in a short blog post?

    Where shall we start? Aristotle?

    I think he means ‘unquantifiable stuff we have to assess by other methods’.

    I never ‘got’ ethics myself. That’s probably why I study orbital motion and ocean heat content. Geometry and Joules is something my engineering training equipped me better to deal with.

    If your contention is that “we don’t need no steenking sociology of science”, then fair enough, you are entitled to your opinion. I doubt we will learn from the lessons of the past unless we examine the reasons why the madness of crowds exhibits itself even in the hallowed halls of our institutions of science however.

  397. tallbloke (15:34:10)
    Where shall we start?

    Let’s “cut to the chase” by asking Jerry Ravetz if he agrees or disagrees with the proposition: “objective Truth, particularly in science, does not exist.”

  398. Willis Eschenbach (15:25:01) :

    Look, there are two parts of science. Discovering new stuff, and poking holes in new and old stuff. As you point out, it’s generally easier to get money for the former.

    So? That doesn’t make falsifiability obsolete. Quite the opposite, it makes it more important.

    Agreed. So we need to make sure science doesn’t become the tool of legitimisation for policy makers/piper payers rather than their watchdog.

    Oops, back to politics already.

    How do we ensure academic and scientific independence? In the past, there were groups of workers who banded together in unions and put cash in the pot to build free schools and libraries, in order to avoid the state propaganda and it’s insidious effect on young minds. The last worker built free library in my home town got turned into a brew-pub 20 years ago.

    The internet seems to be the refuge of independent thought these days, though a quick look at google stats will tell you most people are more interested in what Barbie is wearing this week than what Popper said 90 years ago. Nonetheless, we seem to have been having quite a big effect with our alternative facts and leaked documents in the last few months, so there is hope yet.

  399. tallbloke (12:07:15) :

    “A few seem to regard him as some kind of ‘godfather of fraudulent science’.”

    If you were refering to my remarks, I believe I can explain that with sufficient quality: I’m Dutch.

    But no, I don’t consider Ravetz a godfather. Just higher up from pawns like Jones and Mann. He tries to frame the field at a higher level than just climate science, a bishop perhaps. And I have noted like others that what he writes and how he writes it has more to do with marxist dialectic or the art of controversy than with science.

  400. Rienk (16:00:36) :

    And I have noted like others that what he writes and how he writes it has more to do with marxist dialectic or the art of controversy than with science.

    Yes, and it is tragic how few scientists have any concept or understanding of what “marxist dialectic” is or means with respect to political science or any science whatsoever.

  401. D. Patterson (15:52:42) :

    Let’s “cut to the chase” by asking Jerry Ravetz if he agrees or disagrees with the proposition: “objective Truth, particularly in science, does not exist.”

    Naieve realism is a position taken by people who don’t have the time or inclination to closely examine the lack of solidity underlying their assumptions about mind and matter.

    For practical purposes, we put those issues of ontology to one side and believe that G=Mm/r^2, though we know Einstein tells us it doesn’t. I find it interesting that you use a capital letter for the word truth. Some people do that with the word god too.

  402. Rienk (16:00:36) :

    tallbloke (12:07:15) :

    “A few seem to regard him as some kind of ‘godfather of fraudulent science’.”

    If you were refering to my remarks, I believe I can explain that with sufficient quality: I’m Dutch.

    But no, I don’t consider Ravetz a godfather. Just higher up from pawns like Jones and Mann. He tries to frame the field at a higher level than just climate science, a bishop perhaps. And I have noted like others that what he writes and how he writes it has more to do with marxist dialectic or the art of controversy than with science.

    Would you find him more believable if he wrote in the style of Ludwig Wittgenstein or Maynard Keynes? Attempting to understand processes or behaviour at a more general level is not a crime, even if you get it wrong. I agree that he courts controversy. It’s an effective way to engender lively debate. And no bad thing say I. This is the most active thread on WUWT all week or more. It’s been pretty interesting too.

  403. Tallbloke – you and I had some interesting dialogue about Ravetz last November when Climategate blew up. As far as I’m concerned I well and truly rumbled Mike Hulme and Jerry Ravetz on October 31:

    http://buythetruth.wordpress.com/2009/10/31/climate-change-and-the-death-of-science/

    You were then, and still are, an apologist for him.

    Something that kinda bothers me – if, as you say, Ravetz has had a late conversion and realized he was duped, how come he hasn’t repudiated his former positions? Why not say he was wrong on all those issues that were so deadly? Why hasn’t he repudiated the ‘Post-Normal Times’ and their brazen AGW advocacy?

    On November 30 you wrote me

    “I agree that the climate situation is non-urgent and therefore shouldn’t qualify for Ravetzian ’special measures’”.

    In other words, Ravetz should never have lumped in Climate Change with the other issues he claims need to have PNS applied to them. Well, does Ravetz agree with that assessment? If so, will he please clearly repudiate the application of PNS to climate science? If not, when he writes and you write as his apologist he sounds like mr-facing-both-ways.

    I wrote you as follows on November 28:

    “From the quote you included above, Ravetz is seen to be begging the question – not a good sign in a philosopher. To include “global climate change” in a list with increasing incidences of new-variant CJD, infertility, and asthma is completely disingenuous. Those things and their trends are all relatively easily measured and diagnosed. Ravetz is not stupid – he was originally a mathematician – and he knows a lot about numbers, so he knows that he is pulling the wool over our eyes by including climate change in a list of diseases that affect populations of discrete entities. Is the incidence of “global climate change” increasing? Do we have a population of thousands of other similar earths with which to compare our earth?

    Moreover, if a patient presents with CJD, you know from experience that it’s life threatening and not the natural state. You might have difficulty finding the causes and dealing with them, but you know for certain that this is not the normal state of affairs. The same can’t be said of “global climate change”. Ravetz has absolutely no grounds to say that “global climate change” is a “serious, perhaps very threatening problem”, nor should he include it in a list of things that are measurably increasing and deleterious. People have died of asthma and CJD, so there cannot be the slightest doubt that they are “serious…very threatening” – we know the likely prognoses. But climate change has been happening for thousands of years, and no one has yet been able to demonstrate that this is anything but a normal state of affairs – natural variation – nor can we make any realistic prognosis. What Ravetz has done is assume that climate change is an unnatural phenomenon with a deadly causative agent (anthropogenic, of course!) – he assumes the ‘normal’ science can tell him that, so that the ‘post-normal’ science can be applied to the allegedly difficult problems it throws up. But you don’t need policies to deal with things that haven’t been shown to be problems in the first place– don’t waste your time chasing those shadows when there are plenty of real problems in the world that can be diagnosed and dealt with.”

    By the way, you (and maybe Ravetz) possibly knew my sister when she was at Leeds university in the ’70s studying history – she was the one who was always avidly reading Marxism Today :-)
    I was at Oxford reading physics.

  404. ScientistForTruth (16:22:55) :

    Tallbloke – you and I had some interesting dialogue about Ravetz last November when Climategate blew up.

    You were then, and still are, an apologist for him.

    You are of course entitled to your opinion.

  405. Re: tallbloke (16:12:40) :

    Why Jerry Ravetz, myself, you, or anyone else agrees or disagrees with a proposition is an altogether different topic. At this moment I am asking only whether Jerry Ravetz agrees or disagrees with that proposition. Depending upon his response, we can then address further issues about the subject, even perhaps what such a proposition does or does not mean to science.

  406. ScientistForTruth (16:22:55) :
    Tallbloke – you and I had some interesting dialogue about Ravetz last November when Climategate blew up.

    Yes, and just for the record, here’s how I left the matter on your blog:

    tallbloke November 30, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    SFT: I can agree with some of that.

    Good, because I agree with pretty much everything you’ve written in this last post. Except this:

    SFT: I don’t think we should countenance ‘post-normal’ activities and massive political machinations (such as we now have) until ‘normal’ science has given answers to those. It is nowhere near giving an answer to those

    It not a matter of countenancing it, it’s happening from both sides whether we like it or not, and while this is unfavourable to the signal/noise ratio, we shouldn’t ignore it or pretend it’s not happening. We should let those who wish to fight fire with fire get on with it, and be happy for them to use the results of the normal science we produce to do it, along with their other ‘extended facts’ (Al Gore is a jetsetting hypocrite, Michael Mann has his head upside down etc).

    I agree that the climate situation is non-urgent and therefore shouldn’t qualify for Ravetzian ’special measures’, but since the other camp does, and they have had the ear of government, there is no choice but to enter the fray, or at least support those willing to.

    Ravetz taught me some of my history and philosophy of science, so I emailed him and got a reply.

    He says wattsupwiththat.com is a great PNS site, and that your criticism is valuable to him because it told him he hadn’t emphasized key factors such as integrity well enough. He also asked my opinion about what would become of science in the wake of the climategate scandal. It’s clear that he is re-evaluating his assumptions about the ‘normal’ climate science too.

    Every good scientist should be prepared to re-evaluate assumptions, follow the data, and be prepared to let the chips fall where they may. Politicians on the other hand, like their five year plan, and hate admitting past errors. It’s an essential tension in the relationship between truth and power.

    The synthesis of this Hegelian dialectical opposition lies in the action of the informed PNS blogosphere to kick the collective arses of the rotten institutional scientists and rotten politicians and help get science back on track.

    Interesting times indeed.

  407. tallbloke (15:34:10)

    Willis Eschenbach (15:08:52) :

    Doesn’t answer my question. Are you unwilling or are you unable to say what you think he means by “quality”?

    Willis, he spends half a book banging on about it. How do you expect me to summarize it in a short blog post?

    Where shall we start? Aristotle?

    I think he means ‘unquantifiable stuff we have to assess by other methods’.

    I never ‘got’ ethics myself. That’s probably why I study orbital motion and ocean heat content. Geometry and Joules is something my engineering training equipped me better to deal with.

    If your contention is that “we don’t need no steenking sociology of science”, then fair enough, you are entitled to your opinion. I doubt we will learn from the lessons of the past unless we examine the reasons why the madness of crowds exhibits itself even in the hallowed halls of our institutions of science however.

    Fair enough, tallbloke. You’re caught in the middle. My apologies, I misunderstood your position. I thought you understood what the good Prof was saying, and could translate it using far fewer syllables for us less endowed types.

    However, as the time goes by by I’m becoming less and less impressed with the good Professor. He sticks his ideas up here (with no sign that he has learned anything from being the dupee) and then goes off leaving you holding the bag. So while I would say we do need a sociology of science, the Prof seems a little shy on the ethics part of the sociological equation … he talks about involving more people in science, but then he seems to think that doesn’t apply to him, he’s staying above the fray.

    Color me unimpressed. Either he has the stones to stand up and defend his work, or I’ll assume that he doesn’t really believe what he is preaching and I’ll shitcan the whole thing. Professor Ravetz, this is the reality of your theory playing out in the real world. We’re involved, but you are giving us the same answer Phil Jones gave me … bupkis. Will it require an FOIA to get you to show your work? Yeah, I know it’s a snakepit here, and we may be long on a passion for truth and short on understanding “quality”, but that’s science. As Harry Truman famously opined, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. So like the priest says, Professor, speak now or forever hold your peace …

    PS – tallbloke, I think that your description, a “sociology of science”, is accurate. On the other hand, the Prof’s terminology, “Post Normal Science”, and his use of the world “quality”, seem specifically designed to mean something else entirely. But I hear rumors that the ability to make words mean something they don’t mean may be a requirement before one is allowed to be a Marxist professor. I’m not sure about how it works, I’m just a reformed cowboy, but I think it’s called the “Humpty Dumpty Rule” at Oxford:

    `When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

    `The question is,’ said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

    `The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master — that’s all.’

    Alice was too much puzzled to say anything; so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. `They’ve a temper, some of them — particularly verbs: they’re the proudest — adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs — however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!’

    `Would you tell me please,’ said Alice, `what that means?’

    `Now you talk like a reasonable child,’ said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. `I meant by “impenetrability” that we’ve had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you’d mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don’t mean to stop here all the rest of your life.’

    `That’s a great deal to make one word mean,’ Alice said in a thoughtful tone.

    `When I make a word do a lot of work like that,’ said Humpty Dumpty, `I always pay it extra.’

    I just hope that the Professor, as a good Marxist, is paying overtime to the term “Post Normal Science”, because he’s making it work extra hard …

  408. Mr TallBloke, Would you please address just why/how the people, are “irritating, but unimportant”; in this debate? Also just when and why did the Rational Man die? In this futerra.uk PR /AGW, piece “rules of the game”, it is stated clearly. A group is rational but the individual is not, He(she?)…is a myth? This is false or History is. Just what was your peer-reviewed evidence and how was the opinion arrived at by the scientists do you think?

    2. Forget the climate change detractors
    Those who deny climate change science are irritating, but
    unimportant. The argument is not about if we should deal with climate
    change, but how we should deal with climate change.
    3. There is no ‘rational man’
    The evidence discredits the ‘rational man’ theory – we rarely weigh
    objectively the value of different decisions and then take the clear self-interested choise.”

    Just so you know, I enjoy thinking for myself, it is a process that gives me pleasure and I would say; so-far-so-good. It is what life is about… Isn’t it?

    PS/ I see that futerra.co.uk have taken down their documents on this subject. I wonder why? People have been reading it recently, quite a few I hope.

  409. Willis, thanks for your understanding. I’m going to leave it to Jerry Ravetz to tell us what he means by ‘quality’, and if he can’t do it in a single post, he should hand out free copies of his book to all interested parties. ;-)

    Thanks for the Carroll quote, I always enjoy a bit of deep non-siense at bedtime.

    Sleep time

    Ciao

  410. Perhaps this illustrates science vs bullshit:

    There are beautiful examples of this in Climategate where the Team, Mann in particular, refers to any contrary views as ‘crap’ (etc.). And indeed they are: if you accept that statistical standards are exemplified in the methods adopted by Mann, then you necessarily believe that the standards adopted by the community of trained and practising statisticians are ‘crap’. On the other hand, if you accept the views of pure statistics (if such a thing exists, but you get my drift) then you will believe that the climate change community accepts a standard of analysis that is dangerously misleading, viz., crap. They are mutually exclusive.

    As a trained scientist you will side with the community of practising statisticians over the Team, who view ststistics as merely a group of techniques for manipulating (torturing?) data until it yields the result they desire, thus violating the principles of statistical inference as the first of many statistical violations. And it is here that you have to draw the line and say that real science must prevail. Furthermore, you also have to say that the views of the man in the street are not as valid as the view guided by scientific principles. To me, this is science.

    Then the problems arise. As a practising scientist your existence depends on grants and publications and you have a family and a mortgage. It is easiest to take the path of least resistence to both. AGW became such a path. Especially for the great majority of scientists who are not particularly gifted and who can easily be persuaded that AGW is real and leads to grants and publications. To keep the ball rolling, for this is a virtuous even noble cause, you are quite happy for the politicisation to occur. The process of corruption begins and is about the only example of large positive feedback that can be proven in climate science. This is not science, it is bullshit, viz., ‘post normal’ science.

  411. Willis:

    Thankyou for your superb series of postngs above.

    Your clear, rational and cogent remarks are accompanied with an addition of wit that makes them a pleasure to read. They stand in stark contrast to the obscure, illogical and inconsistent contents of the above article from Prof Ravetz that is written in a style that makes it an effort to read.

    Your total demolition of the article is clear for all to see.

    Again, thankyou. And please continue to publish your thoughts on WUWT. They have the quality of purest gold (i.e. they cannot tarnish, are hard to destroy, and are pleasing to see).

    Richard

    PS It is not hard to provide a definition of “quality” in any context if one has no intention of varying its meaning when using it in that context.

  412. D. Patterson (15:52:42) :

    Let’s “cut to the chase” by asking Jerry Ravetz if he agrees or disagrees with the proposition: “objective Truth, particularly in science, does not exist.”

    Without getting too abstruse, I think it can be confidently said that the scientist must assume the existence of an objective reality, which reality he can never realize, but can only approach (he hopes) by ever-closer degrees.

    To assume otherwise, that there is no objective reality, that all is subjective and relative, is to invalidate the whole enterprise.

    It is certainly fair to ask Prof. Ravetz if he advocates the latter assumption.

    /Mr Lynn

  413. Bill Parsons (13:29:32) :

    Tallbloke:

    Your explanations, and others’ praise, should urge tolerance and better understanding of some of Ravetz and his ideas. I’m glad he’s had an advocate here to moderate this thead. However, I feel a bit frustrated by writing that walks so guardedly among so many other entrenched positions without ever seeming to stake out its own ground. Setting aside the questions of the future, you can’t do climate history without being mindful of the past.

    What’s his take on the Medieval Warm Period, for example? Establishing a few simple milestones would go a long way to showing where he’s coming from. These standards would best come from the horse’s mouth.

    It’s in his essay:
    “And the ‘hockey stick’ picture of the past, so crucial for the strict version of the climate change story, has run into increasingly severe problems. As an example, it relied totally on a small set of deeply uncertain tree-ring data for the Medieval period, to refute the historical evidence of a warming then; but it needed to discard that sort of data for recent decades, as they showed a sudden cooling from the 1960’s onwards!”

  414. D. Patterson (16:36:31) :

    Re: tallbloke (16:12:40) :

    Why Jerry Ravetz, myself, you, or anyone else agrees or disagrees with a proposition is an altogether different topic. At this moment I am asking only whether Jerry Ravetz agrees or disagrees with that proposition [that objective Truth (with a capital T) is possible]

    I don’t know, but I doubt it.

  415. tallbloke (16:12:40) :

    D. Patterson (15:52:42) :

    Let’s “cut to the chase” by asking Jerry Ravetz if he agrees or disagrees with the proposition: “objective Truth, particularly in science, does not exist.”

    Naieve realism is a position taken by people who don’t have the time or inclination to closely examine the lack of solidity underlying their assumptions about mind and matter.

    For practical purposes, we put those issues of ontology to one side and believe that G=Mm/r^2, though we know Einstein tells us it doesn’t. I find it interesting that you use a capital letter for the word truth. Some people do that with the word god too.

    Do you mean for us to understand that you believe the phrase, “objective Truth, particularly in science, does not exist,” can only constitute “Naieve realism”; and anyone believing in the scientific principle of objective Truth (truth, TRUTH, hturt) must somehow always be lacking “the time or inclination” to understand the limitations of their assumptions?

    If so, I would suggest you are engaging in wordplay which serves to obfuscate the actual workings of effective applications of the scientific method.

    Likewise, it is strange to see you exercise such concern over capitalization in yet another form of wordplay, which also serves to distract from the original question about the meanings of the words used by Ravetz in his above essay and other works.

    I find it interesting that you use a capital letter for the word truth. Some people do that with the word god too.

    Perhaps you should ask that same question of Jerry Ravetz, for he wrote:

    Also, religion claimed exclusive access to the good in personal and social life, in spite of the historic evidence of great evils perpetrated in the name of God (Ravetz, My Work).

    http://www.jerryravetz.co.uk/work.html

    Perhaps you are simply taking exception to the criticism of the jargon being used by Ravetz?

    tallbloke (16:21:11) :

    Rienk (16:00:36) :

    tallbloke (12:07:15) :

    And I have noted like others that what he writes and how he writes it has more to do with marxist dialectic or the art of controversy than with science.

    Would you find him more believable if he wrote in the style of Ludwig Wittgenstein or Maynard Keynes?

    Yes, Ravetz would definitely have been more believable with respect to at least some topics of philosophy and science if he did not use Marxist wording and phrasing, Marxist theories, and Marxist debating methods in support of political causes included in the objectives of Marxist political organizations. As anyone who is acquainted with Marxist dogma knows, Marxism demands a partisan ruthlessness, as the following one of many possible examples demonstrates:

    The sentence, “it is right to rebel against the reactionaries,” bears witness to this more than any other. In it we find expressed the fact that Marxism, prior to being the full-fledged scienceof social formation, is the distillate of what rebellion demands: that one consider it right, that reason be rendered to it. Marxism is both a taking sides and the systematization of a partisan experience. The existence of a science of social formations bears no interest for the masses unless it reflects and concentrates their real revolutionary movement. Marxism must be conceived as the accumulated wisdom of popular revolutions, the reason they engender, the fixation and detailing of their target. Mao Zedong’s sentence clearly situates rebellion as the originary place of correct ideas, and reactionaries as those whose destruction is legitimated by theory. Mao’s sentence situates Marxist truth within the unity of theory and practice. Marxist truth is that from which rebellion draws its rightness, its reason, to demolish the enemy. It repudiates any equality in the face of truth. In a single movement, which is knowledge in its specific division into description and directive, it judges, pronounces the sentence, and immerses itself in its execution. Rebels possess knowledge, according to their aforementioned essential movement, their power and their duty: to annihilate the reactionaries. Marx’s Capital does not say anything different: the proletarians are right to violently overthrow the capitalists. Marxist truth is not a conciliatory truth. It is, in and of itself, dictatorship and, if need be, terror.

    Badiou, Alain. Theory of Contradiction–1975; Chap. 1 An Essential Philosophical Thesis: “It Is Right to Rebel against the Reactionaries”; (Translated by Alberto Toscano)

    http://versuslaboratory.janvaneyck.nl/app/webroot/uploads/badiou%20theory%20of%20contr.pdf

    I do understand Jerry Ravetz has been critical of Badiou’s works. Nonetheless, more than one Marxist, including Soviet officials, have reminded me in our conversations that telling lies, dissembling, or otherwise engaging in dishonesty with respect to reactionaries, non-Marxist or Marxist, is a moral act and a mandatory duty for a Marxist whenever it serves the Marxist cause of destroying Reactionaries. Given such a belief and practice among Marxists, non-Marxists or Marxist defined Reactionaries are engaging in self-destructive behavior if and when they blindly trust anything a Marxist says and does while assuring they can be trusted or indeed must be trusted due to their professional, official, and/or social standing in society. To validate this problem as a real world concern, a person need look no farther than the experience of the people of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) with the STASI secret police and the scientists and their own families spying on each other.

    In a world where “the pen is mightier than the sword,” then words and their abuse can kill the unsuspecting. Jerry Ravetz and his essay above clearly encourages the distrust of current science due to its inherent uncertainties. In the place of our present scientific method, he proposes to broaden the peer review of science. He innocently suggests the blogosphere is a fine example of broadening the peer-review, but he leaves unsaid the further implications of his phraseology. From a Marxist point of view, any broadening of the peer review of science without the participation required from the proletariat or labor of society would be incomplete and an unacceptable and a Reactionary corruption of the rebellion against Reactionaries. Only by practicing consensus science in a socialist society can the social justice demanded by a rebellion against the Reactionary forces be achieved. Consequently, post-modern science must require not only consensus formulations of scientific theory, every scientific consensus must also serve the needs of social justice required and demanded by a socialist society closely adhering to Marxist first principles.

    In other words, there is good reason to question whether or not the essay serves the purpose of using the Climategate scandal as a cover for persuading people to adopt an increasingly Marxist concept and approach to consensus science under the guise of a broader participation in current science. So, yes, Jerry Ravetz would have been more believable in at least some matters concerning the uncertainties of science if it were not for the implications inevitably present from his usage of Marxist language and the uncertainties in science and the rest of the Universe to open a path for the public to unknowingly accept a practice long sought by Marxist dogma and Marxist revolutionary overthrow of what they deem to be Reactionary forces.

  416. Willis Eschenbach (17:08:18) :

    tallbloke (15:34:10)
    If your contention is that “we don’t need no steenking sociology of science”, then fair enough, you are entitled to your opinion. I doubt we will learn from the lessons of the past unless we examine the reasons why the madness of crowds exhibits itself even in the hallowed halls of our institutions of science however.

    Fair enough, tallbloke. You’re caught in the middle. My apologies, I misunderstood your position. I thought you understood what the good Prof was saying, and could translate it using far fewer syllables for us less endowed types.

    Willis, like you, I prefer plain speaking, and try my best to be clear and concise. That said, when you are trying to get to grips with the way groups of humans interact, and how the power relations between people who are doing their best to get their point of view adopted whilst trying to appear PC and democratic play out, it is sodding complex and tricky to explain with common-sensible sounding one liners. It’s easy to take cheap shots at the dense and semingly obscure scratchings of philosophers on these subjects, but that can come across as grandstanding to those who know something of the nuanced complexity of human relationships and power politics.

    If it really was as simple as someone standing up and saying, “look, here’s the objective truth about how the climate operates, so we don’t need to do this or that”, and everybody said, “fine, glad you cleared that up, we can all go home now”, then we wouldn’t be here having to fight the many headed hydra of the global warming monster.

    It is deeply political, and pointing out how politics operates and trying to formulate concepts which aim at getting best solutions to problems in which conflicting and competing interests are vying for advantage is a thankless task which usually gets you shot at from all sides. If nothing else, Jerry Ravetz has caused passionate and intense debate, and got a lot more people thinking about the issues. In my view, that can only be a good thing, because the more people we have engaging with the matter and forming their own point of view about it, the less willing they will be to be led like sheep.

    The authority of some scientific institutions will take a hit in all of this, and deservedly so, but science and it’s core values will survive and thrive in new venues like this one and elsewhere beyond the reach of politically subverted and financially compromised groups. Finding the cash for the satellite with the multi-sensing oojmaflip on board is going to be tricky though. Maybe we can become so successful with our pressure on NOAA and NASA they will take some notice and use some public money for the experiments we advocate. It’s got to be worth a try.

    SDO looks like a good start

    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2010/02/08/to-boldly-go-with-sdo/

  417. D. Patterson (23:38:59) :

    The characterisation of science as an enterprise which simply aims to make ever closer approximations in it’s description of reality is an oversimplification of a form of knowledge which has far more influence in our lives than simply outlining the relationships between force and mass, gene and behaviour, gas and temperature. Where is the borderline between science and what it is used for? Ask Oppenheimer. Ask Werner Von Braun. Ask Monsanto. Ask Glaxo. Ask Al Gore.

    Instead of reading Badiou on Marx, or Ravetz on Badiou, go to the source and try to understand Marx’s own words in the historical context of the times and political situation he lived in. You might realise that at this present time, we torchbearers of climatic truth have more in common with him than most sceptical Americans would be comfortable with realising.

    Right, off to work I go. Got to do my bit to keep te means of production rolling…

    ;-)

  418. tallbloke (16:21:11) :

    “Attempting to understand processes or behaviour at a more general level is not a crime, even if you get it wrong. I agree that he courts controversy.”

    Oh, certainly it isn’t a crime at all, trying to understand is a very laudable goal. But I disagree that he courts controversy. That is not what marxist dialectic is, that is not the art of controversy. We have a saying about two dogs fighting for a bone and a third one taking it home. What we need is to do is identify that third dog and put him in the spotlight. Not doing so will make us waste lots of time over and over again.

    So, time to ask a few questions. Why has all of MSM defended AGW for 20 years? Why has politics done the same? Why has the visible part of academia and scientific institutions acted so completely uncritical? Answer those and AGW will simply vanish. Obviously you’re then entering onion territory, as in more layers of controversy, more crying. But fortunately there cannot be an infinite regression.

    Getting things wrong is also not something I care about. I’m rather a fan of Fred Hoyle, he was quite wrong and a very good scientist. Read carefully and study both sides of history, cheers.

  419. Willis has asked repeatedly and in vain for a definition of “quality” as extolled by Ravetz. That an answer has not been forthcoming is explained by the fact that this “quality” is simply our old friend “ideological orthodoxy” dressed “in borrowed robes”. The extended network of “social actors” and “stakeholders” which will maintain and enhance this “quality” (i.e. enforce orthodoxy) is none other than a political commissariat of the Soviet type but postmodernised to function in a more diffuse way, a horizontal and seemingly haphazard structure, but, in reality, equally focussed and as surely directed as the Bolshevik system of fond memory.

    Interrogating Ravetz re his views on AGW as a physical theory is a waste of time. If class warfare was up and running as it was in the sixties and seventies he wouldn’t be bothering his barney about “climate change”. Simply put, “the play’s the thing in which we’ll find the consciousness (sic) of the” Prof. It is all about the “narrative” by which is meant an ideological construct designed to exploit our environmentalist concerns – a form of seduction, if you will – in order to bring about a post-capitalist society, a dispensation formerly known as Socialism.

    Ravetz’s central concern here is not with climatology or even with science in general, normal or otherwise. He views AGW as exposing the contradictions which his belief system insists lie at the very heart of Capitalism and from the conflict thus engendered he seeks to midwife a wholly new socio-political system. It is the classical Marxist assimilation of old Fred Hegel’s thesis-antithesis-synthesis monstrosity, as blunt an intellectual tool now as it always was, a cudgel for a scalpel as it were.

    His purpose now, as ever, is to deconstruct Capitalism as he perceives that, at this point in history with the revolutionary option dead and buried, its deconstruction is a necessary preliminary condition to its destruction.

    He waggishly calls for the “dialogue” to “commence”. Such a dialogue has proven time and again not only to be an ideological one-way street but also a political and economic cul de sac.

  420. Tallbloke and D Patterson:

    There seem to be several confusions in the discussion here. And the plain speaking from Willis is commendable because it cuts through much of the confusion.

    As D Patterson says, language is important.

    Science exists as an attempt to gain improving understanding of the mechanisms of the physical world. And language is an essential tool that science uses
    (a) to communicate observations, interpretations and ideas and
    (b) to develop and/or refute those observations, interpretations and ideas.

    Some of the language of science is mathematics. Some is pictorial (as, for example, when a physicist describes e-m radiation as acting like waves). And some is descriptive (when, for example, a biologist attempts to explain a symbiotic relationship between organisms).

    But none of the language of science is advocacy of ideas, ideologies and/or theologies that are not derived from the scientific observations. Hence, there is no science when language is used as a tool to advocate ideas that are not derived solely from the observations.

    So, D Patterson is right when he says;

    “Yes, Ravetz would definitely have been more believable with respect to at least some topics of philosophy and science if he did not use Marxist wording and phrasing, Marxist theories, and Marxist debating methods in support of political causes included in the objectives of Marxist political organizations.”

    Such language and causes are a negation of science. They attempt to distort the scientific observations, interpretations and ideas into tools for support of the political causes and, thus, they inhibit improving understanding of the mechanisms of the physical world. In other words, political language distorts communication and/or development of the scientific observations, interpretations and ideas and so distorts any attempt to gain improving understanding of the mechanisms of the physical world. The distortion provides e.g. Lysenkoism.

    Please note that my above comments are true whatever the ideological, pecuniary and/or religious philosophy being promoted by the distortion of scientific language (I should state that I am both a socialist and a Christian).

    And Tallbloke provides two confusions when he writes;

    “The characterisation of science as an enterprise which simply aims to make ever closer approximations in it’s description of reality is an oversimplification of a form of knowledge which has far more influence in our lives than simply outlining the relationships between force and mass, gene and behaviour, gas and temperature. Where is the borderline between science and what it is used for? Ask Oppenheimer. Ask Werner Von Braun. Ask Monsanto. Ask Glaxo. Ask Al Gore.”

    Firstly, the practice of science should not be confused with the weakness of human frailty.

    Scientists are human and, therefore, they will each have inherent failings and biases. So, human weaknesses will affect the observations, interpretations and ideas of each scientist. These distortions can only removed by asserting that the observations, interpretations and ideas of every scientist should be pitted against each: as Willis says, science is a combative activity. The scientific Truth will then be established (until later overthrown) when the competition is based only on the observations, their interpretation and the ideas they indicate.

    Determination of this (temporary) Truth may take a long time (as e.g. when the ideas of phlogiston, heliocentricity, childbirth mortality were challenged). But the determination becomes impossible when it is distorted by assertions that the determination is “an oversimplification of a form of knowledge which has far more influence in our lives than simply outlining the relationships between force and mass, gene and behaviour, gas and temperature”.

    The determination should not be affected in any way by the fact that scientific knowledge has “influence in our lives”. Deciding truth on that basis is politics and it is not science. Indeed, it is a call for science to be displaced by politics.

    Secondly, there is no confusion between technology and science. So, I shall ignore Tallbloke’s suggested investigations when he writes;

    “Where is the borderline between science and what it is used for? Ask Oppenheimer. Ask Werner Von Braun. Ask Monsanto. Ask Glaxo. Ask Al Gore.”

    I shall not attempt to ask either those in the list who are living or those who are dead. A scientist investigates the phyisical world and, thus, obtains information. That is all a scientist does. But being a scientists does not stop a person from being a parent, a driver, or anything else.

    So, a scientist may devise a method to create a thermonuclear explosion and may construct a device that tests whether or not the method works. Thus, such a scientist has obtained knowledge. But a person who decides to drop such a device on Hiroshima is a politician or a tactician and is not a scientist (what knowledge is that act intended to obtain?) whether or not he was the scientist who developed the device.

    Of course, a scientist may be employed by a company or government to obtain information that would permit use of a novel chemical or device. And the employed scientist may be certain that the result of his work will be used in a malign manner. So, the empolyed scientist may have a moral or ethical dilemma as a result of his/her certainty, but that dilemma is independent of the science.

    All employees have similar moral problems but to varying degrees. Should a machinist refuse to make hammers because s/he is certain that some people will use hammers as weapons?

    When all the confusions in the above debate are stripped away then there remains one essential fact that Willis has repeatedly explained better than I can. As Willis has explained, ‘post normal science’ is a denial of the scientific method that has benefited human kind over the past 500 years.

    Richard

  421. liamascorcaigh (02:43:10) :

    “He waggishly calls for the “dialogue” to “commence”. Such a dialogue has proven time and again not only to be an ideological one-way street but also a political and economic cul de sac.”

    Indeed, but only for those that represent the thesis and the antithesis. Global warming is just a historic contingency. Global cooling would have been just as useful. It’s the synthesis that needs to be questioned before everyone is sick and tired of the whole subject. Please keep in mind that the solution to global cooling was exactly the same as it is to global warming.

  422. Hi Richard,
    What I’m getting at is the fact that the choices that are made about what science gets done by scientists, and how willingly scientists go along with those prescriptions from their funding bodies, is an issue of concern for all, including the scientists themselves.

    When the british state’s science funding body decided to scale down solar research a couple of years ago, and concentrate funding towards yet more atmospheric science instead, there was an outcry (ignored) from many scientists in the field of astrophysics, but precious little backing from NCAS, as you might imagine.

    Now You say these are separate issues from science, and I agree that on the strict and narrow definition of science you want to limit the debate to, you are right. But who wants to limit the terms of the debate and why? If you do it because you want to keep scientists hands clean and unsullied by dirty politics, it’s a false distinction, because every scientist is complicit in the policy the institution they work for goes along with.

    All employees have similar moral problems but to varying degrees. Should a machinist refuse to make hammers because s/he is certain that some people will use hammers as weapons?

    I did work as a machinist in the engineering industry, and I did leave a couple of jobs because I was asked to machine parts for tank turrets and nuclear submarines – yes.

    Get some moral fibre, and stop trying to tell me scientists are pure clean and above such considerations. That’s how we’ve ended up in this mess. Climate scientists keeping their heads down and doing what they are told even though they know it’s cobblers. If objective truth is important, so is being true to your sense of right and wrong.

  423. Perfect analysis from liamascorcaigh, the author of “May The Farce Be With You”. I thought James Joyce was with us again!

  424. I say again: isn’t it time Ravetz repudiated Marxism instead of writing in Marxist-speak and trying to improve on the Marxist plan? As I pointed out last October, we were warned in 1987 in the work ‘Changing Powers of the Political’:

    “…it seems easy enough to…point out that the old predictions of the British Marxist J.D. Bernal about the triumph of basic research under socialism have proved hopelessly wrong, and that the demands of J.R. Ravetz of the University of Leeds that science be made instrumental and moral will destroy the enterprise whatever its short-term benefits.”

    Folks, it will destroy the enterprise: science.

    Ravetz wrote a paper ‘Post-Normal Science and the complexity of transitions towards sustainability’. He says

    “Marxist political theory spoke of ‘leading contradictions’…as when local struggles of classes and communities interact with common struggles against external enemies…The crucial thing in our understanding of it, is that it is a compounded contradiction. We can see its historical roots in what Marx considered to be the characteristic contradiction of modern capitalist society…But there was more to it than that, in the resolution of Marx’s characteristic contradiction…In our terms, they shifted the contradiction elsewhere, thereby staving off rebellion…”

    “The theory of Post-Normal Science…needs to be renewed and enriched…and so the best move forward is to raise the issue of Sustainability. For that I sketch a theory of complex systems, with special attention to pathologies and failures. That provides the foundation for a use of ‘contradiction’ as a problem incapable of resolution in its own terms, and also of ‘characteristic contradiction’ that drives a system to a crisis. With those materials it is possible to state the characteristic contradiction of our modern industrial civilisation, and provide a diagram with heuristic power.”

    Essentially, Ravetz has had the Greens, the eco-activists and the left-leaning media eating out of his hand – as well as those who want to subject science under Islam, which I showed in a previous comment. He has been giving them the philosophical tools to subvert science and society.

    Sorry, I don’t buy it.

    Buy the truth, and sell it not.

    http://buythetruth.wordpress.com/2009/10/31/climate-change-and-the-death-of-science/

  425. liamascorcaigh (02:43:10) :

    Willis has asked repeatedly and in vain for a definition of “quality” as extolled by Ravetz.

    I’ve emailed him and suggested this might be a good central point to address in the followup he hopes to post in the light of the comments here.