Scientist quits: ‘I don’t want to remain a member of an organization that …screws up science that badly.’

From the Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. blog:

Henk Tennekes Resigns from Dutch Academy


Henk Tennekes is well known to the visitors of our website. A few days ago, he told me that he submitted a letter of resignation to the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences on Saturday, January 23.  He wrote to me “I don’t want to remain a member of an organization that, like AMS and NAS, screws up science that badly.” The Dutch newspaper NRC-Handelsblad apparently got hold of a copy of the resignation letter and ran a News Flash on Saturday, January 30. In the letter to the Academy, Henk complains that he submitted the manuscript of his essay on Hermetic Jargon (which I am happy to reproduce here below, with his permission) to the Academy President at that time, Frits van Oostrom. The President, however, did not bother to respond.   The NRC news flash, translated by Henk himself at my request, reads:

Tennekes Quits

By Karel Knip

“I have had it. Farewell.”  With these words Henk Tennekes concludes his final letter to the Executive Board of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. He wrote his letter of resignation on January 23. A unique occurrence in the history of the Academy, which obtains its membership by co-optation. Normally, a member of the Academy loses his membership only when he dies. Tennekes is still alive.

For many years, Tennekes was director of research at KNMI. He also was a professor at the Pennsylvania State University and at the Free University in Amsterdam. In 1982 he became a member of the Academy. And now he steps out. “There is light out there” is the closing sentence of the essay “Hermetic Jargon” that he now gives a broader distribution.

Why quit? Is he mad about the global warming hype? Tennekes has often spoken up against alarmist language concerning the greenhouse effect and against the hubris of climatologists who pretend to know precisely what will happen to the climate in the future.

No, Tennekes uses the ultimate tool he has to object to the conflicts of interest within the Academy. It is supposed to be the highest independent scientific advisory body in the country, but at the same time it runs a number of research institutes, and has to lobby for their budgets. “That conflict of interest is breaking the wings of its advisory function,” he says. The Strategic Agenda of the Academy, currently being finalized, offers no hope for improvement.

Is that all? The essay “Hermetic Jargon” gives yet another impression. In it, he protests the inaccessibility of modern science, with its habit to restrict quality control (peer review) to the inner circles of each discipline. And he is annoyed by the dominant position of physics in the world of science. He wants to promote more dialogue between disciplines, but he discovered that the walls between them cannot be broken down. Stepping out is the final choice.

In response to our request Robbert Dijkgraaf, the current President of the Academy, states that the Academy regrets the departure, but respects it.

This picture will appear in the second printing of Simple Science of Flight by H. Tennekes, currently in press.

Hermetic Jargon

Farewell Message to the Dutch Academy

As soon as scientists and scholars from different disciplines talk to one another, confusion creeps in. In everyday language, words evoke clusters of associations, suggestions, hints and images. This is why an intelligent listener often needs only half a word. But the words that scientists use in their professional communications are usually safeguarded against unwanted associations. Within each separate discipline this helps to limit semantic confusion, but outsiders have no chance.

Disciplines are divided by their languages. Incomprehensible journal articles and oral presentations, ever-expanding university libraries, endless bickering over the appropriation of research funds, resources, and post-doc positions:  The Temple of Science has become a Tower of Babel. A Babylonian confusion of tongues has become the organizing principle. As soon as more than a couple dozen scientists unite around the same theme, another specialist journal is created, comprehensible only to the in-crowd. If this is science, I want to get off.

Many years ago, two members of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences tried to call attention to the problem. One was the leading art historian and Director of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Henk van Os, the other the retired methodologist of the social sciences, Adriaan de Groot. The two elderly gentlemen arranged a discussion meeting on the peer review system at Academy headquarters. Being an Academy member myself, I eagerly participated. In their introduction van Os and de Groot explained how all disciplines have a tendency to develop their own ‘hermetic jargon,’ the secret language that eliminates the risk of having to discuss the foundations of one’s discipline with the outside world.

Hermetic jargon: what a beautiful neologism! Hermetic: referring to airtight sealing, my Random House dictionary says. Words are at their best when they seed a whole cloud of meanings and associations. In this case my mind reacted instantly, grasping at such concepts as occult science, alchemy, and esoteric writing.  Esoteric, accessible to the initiated only, is the qualification given by the philosopher Lucian to some of Aristotle’s writings. Hermetic sealing was the standard laboratory practice of the alchemists. The net effect of hermetic jargon is that outsiders cannot argue with the high priests who wield the words. They can only accept the occult writings in awe.

Looking at the academic enterprise this way, I come across a lot of issues that bother me. The first that comes to mind is that hermetic jargon makes it impossible to conduct mature, scientific discussions of the paradigms, dogmas, and myths that drive each discipline. The claims of the mainstream physics community worldwide, for example, are outrageous. All science is Physics, period, is what these priests claim. All other disciplines, including chemistry, biology, engineering and the earth sciences, are mere derivatives. Physicists glorify their Nobel prizes without ever contemplating whether the Nobel prize system might be based on a nineteenth-century assessment of the world of science. Hermetic jargon is also a very effective means of excluding outsiders from negotiations for research funds. The system by which professional colleagues judge each other’s performance is called Peer Review. Only peers in the same discipline may pass judgment on their colleagues’ funding requests and on the quality of their papers. Only high-energy physicists are allowed to participate in debates concerning the funding of high-energy physics, only micrometeorologists are allowed to review micrometeorological manuscripts. This makes a lot of sense, of course, because outsiders are in no position to judge the intricate technical details of the measurements and calculations involved. But such judgment is only a necessary first step. The key challenge for a meaningful peer review system would be to make explicit the underlying paradigms, and to subject them to scholarly scrutiny. This, to me, should be the essence of the duty of a National Academy, and perforce of each Academician.

Chances for a mature dialogue will improve when hermetic jargon is taken for what it really is: a way to defend barriers. There are plenty of unresolved issues and dilemmas in the interstices between the disciplines. Almost nobody dares to take a peek, but Gregory Bateson, the originator of the Kantian idea that Mind and Nature form a Necessary Unity, did. Angels Fear is the title of the book his daughter Margaret compiled after he died. The subtitle of that beautiful but rather messy book is Towards an Epistemology of the Sacred. The term ‘sacred’ should not be construed as referring to theology, but to the central problem of all epistemology: how can we know anything, how can we evaluate, who are we to make judgments?  In Kant’s own words: “Reason suffers the fate of being troubled by questions which it cannot reject because they were brought up by reason itself, but which it cannot answer either because they are utterly beyond its capacities.”  Yes, only fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

In oral presentations, to give another example, it would behoove the speaker to speak openly about the questions looming behind the research successes, behind the never-ending propaganda for scientific progress. I myself tried this a few times, but to no avail. In my induction speech for the Academy, in January 1984, I introduced the limited predictability of the weather as a prime example of the uncertainties associated with the sensitive dependence of nonlinear systems to initial conditions and to mismatches between Nature and the models we use to compute its evolution. I told my audience that the prediction horizon, in 1950 estimated by John von Neumann at 30 days, in fact is only three days on average. I dwelt only a little on the implications of this for the myth of endless progress in science. Apparently, meteorology is approaching the no-man’s land between the unknown and the unknowable, I said. This was enough to alert the cognoscenti. The moment the discussion period following my lecture started, the famous astronomer Henk van de Hulst stood up from his chair in the front row and said: “Henk, that is a sermon, not a lecture. Sermons are not appropriate in this Hall.” And the President, David de Wied then,  closing the meeting and thanking me for my speech, said in front of the microphones: “Henk, I really don’t understand what you said, and I believe I don’t want to understand either.”

The two Academy members who had arranged the meeting on peer review apparently had concluded that voluntary changes in the peer review system were very unlikely. They opted for a direct confrontation. They proposed to amend the review system such that a number of colleagues outside the discipline concerned would have to participate in the evaluation of proposals for research funding and debates on the desired direction of research programs. Ask psychologists to look over the shoulders of meteorologists, involve theologians in the evaluation of astronomical long-term planning, let sociologists and engineers review each other’s  professional papers, and so on. As soon as you do that, hermetic jargon loses the rationale for its existence.

It shall come as no surprise that these thoughts were torpedoed the moment they reverberated through the august Academy assembly hall. Everyone knew instantly the very idea was a land mine under the science establishment. Nobody understood that the proposal was rather modest in the sense that bureaucrats, politicians, and taxpayers would be excluded, and that the proposal in fact could be construed as reinforcing the power of the scientific nomenclature. The current practice is that spokesmen for each discipline negotiate directly with bureaucrats in government agencies, and refuse to be drawn into evaluations of the claims of other disciplines.

So all hell broke loose, right there in the meeting, the scene suddenly similar to that in a typical Knesset session, with Academicians jumping up, shouting, and cursing. Within half an hour, the President of the Academy, Pieter Drenth this time, stepped in, stating ex cathedra that the current review system was functioning well enough, despite minor flaws. He closed the meeting, and the Executive Board of the Academy decided to abort the idea altogether.

Following in the footsteps of van Os and de Groot, I have tried to fantasize about the fierce battles that might result if their proposal were put into effect. The central myth of cosmology and astrophysics, for example, is that the human mind is more powerful than the Universe. Stephen Hawking writes: when we discover a theory that unifies gravity and quantum mechanics, we will (I shudder as I write this) “know the Mind of God.” Martin Rees, then the Astronomer Royal of the United Kingdom, wrote a book called Before the Beginning, subtitled Our Universe and Others. Indeed, it has become common in astronomy to talk about Multiple Universes, an oxymoron if I ever saw one. Unfortunately, mainstream theology continues to propagate a similar myth, i.e. the stupid idea that one can talk with insight, and write scholarly publications, about God himself. That, in my mind, is an unforgivable epistemological fallacy. Readers not versed in the Bible might find it useful to read the story of Moses stumbling into a psychedelic thorn bush in Exodus 3. Moses hears voices and asks: “please tell me your Name, so I can tell my people who sent me.”  The Voice answers: “I am whoever I want to be, that should be good enough for you.”

Being an engineer myself, I would be delighted to participate in a debate between engineers and sociologists. In both cases, the interaction between the discipline and society is central to the field of inquiry. Take cell phones. The technology is straightforward, but the sociology is complex. Engineers are servants to society. Their work, which uses physics, chemistry, and countless other disciplines, ought to be analyzed by sociologists. I confess that I know no sociology to speak of, but I know enough about engineering to claim that something must be amiss if the best book on technology I know of is Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

As to my own position, I can illustrate that with another incident at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. I was elected into the Academy in 1982, and assigned to a small group of scholars not bound to a specific discipline, the Free Section. This group was the envy of several others, because the much coveted expansion of disciplinary sections was hindered by our presence. There were 100 chairs in the Science Division at the time, and several other sections claimed to need more. The powers behind the scenes argued long enough for the Executive Board to cave in to the demands to eliminate the Free Section, and lodge its members into disciplines. I was tentatively assigned to the physics section, which did not appeal to me at all. So I wrote to the then President, Piet van Zandbergen, saying that one could imagine putting me in the Engineering Section because I was raised as an engineer, in the Physics Section because my area of expertise is turbulence theory, which is a branch of theoretical physics, and in Earth Sciences, because that would correspond to my current position. Instead, I wrote, I would prefer to be assigned to the Theology and Philosophy Section because of my growing interest in epistemology. The President, eager to avoid any written record of the nuisance I had created, called me one night by phone, saying: “Henk, philosophy belongs to the Arts and Humanities Division of the Academy. The division between them and the Science Division is laid down in our Charter. You cannot cross that Wall however much you want to. That Wall cannot be breached.”

But one can step outside. I did. There is light out there.

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130 thoughts on “Scientist quits: ‘I don’t want to remain a member of an organization that …screws up science that badly.’

  1. “…that screws up science that badly”

    That badly? Oh, I see, his level of screw-up was breached. When it was screwed up just a little, it was OK.

    Sorry, no credibility allowed. He had many chances before, and is now only playing a CYA game.

  2. A window of hope opens up: The Temple of Science has become a Tower of Babel. A Babylonian confusion of tongues has become the organizing principle.
    This is why real breakthroughs in science, which could mean a real “key” to explain otherwise “esoteric” phenomena, like the electric/plasma cosmology, are rejected. WUWT will do a great service to humanity by being an interdisciplinary connection and allowing, for example, a wider and integrated explanation of climatic phenomena, beyond beliefs, show-business or movie science and, last but not the least, overcoming personal fears of losing one’s particular science “toys”.

  3. With a new found admiration of his insight and courage, I wish Henk all the best in his future endeavors.

  4. I had just read this. Glad to see it posted. I recall how disgusted he was about the use of hermetic jargon. I used to make fun of in in large corporations and a symptom of a balogna detection event.

  5. I found this very interesting. I got to end

    “But one can step outside. I did. There is light out there.”

    Immediately underneath it is an embedded (?) video for Scientology with light emerging in the distance dispelling the darkness, and the word ‘scientology.org’.

    Is this a sick prank by miffed members of the Dutch academy or what?

    In the context, it REALLY spoiled it for me.

  6. About ten years ago I sat in on a conference on standards at Lucent Technologies. A Executive VP got up near the end and described how standards were meant to provide a level playing field, breakdown regional barriers and bring about greater competition. Then he went on to describe how standards achieved none of these.

    What was supposed to provide a level playing field really translated into making sure the dominant players to steer the “play” by controlling what technology was used by painting the standards with their patents. This also translated into allowing regional powerhouses with the tools to stay that way. Ultimately, there wasn’t greater competition because the dominant players controlled who got to play by asserting their patents.

    I can see how their “Hermetic Standards,” so to speak, achieved the same effect as “Hermetic Jargon”.

  7. Here’s the kind of Economic and Social Suicide Pact that results from this kind of screwed up “science”.

    http://www.foxnews.com/projects/pdf/021210_cambridge.pdf


    Purpose: The CERB is charged with promoting, coordinating, and monitoring response to the
    climate emergency by all sectors of Cambridge, including individuals, households, voluntary
    membership organizations, businesses, institutions, property owners, and the city government through
    reduction of local greenhouse gas emissions and other means.

  8. “”” Bruckner8 (09:17:15) :

    “…that screws up science that badly”

    That badly? Oh, I see, his level of screw-up was breached. When it was screwed up just a little, it was OK.

    Sorry, no credibility allowed. He had many chances before, and is now only playing a CYA game. “””

    Well better late than never. The lemmings get no credit for simply marching off the cliff; for no reason than, they always do that.

    By the way; your handle is one of my all time favorites too; along with 0-9, and some other numbers.

  9. An interesting dilemma, and one I have experienced in my career and life.

    When I was young I wanted to be an engineer, but while I specialised in technical matters I always returned to an interest in mediaeval literature. Eventually I took English, History, Politics, Maths, Physics and Chemistry at the UK ‘A’ level, and went on to do Philosophy and Mediaeval Literature at university.

    The answer to the issue is really very simple – knowledge is a unity. It is artificial to split into segments (though practical) and it really is not unreasonable to allow people to work in quite different sectors at the same time if they so wish. The whole ‘peer review’ system is a poor idea – what you should really try to do is explain your theory or your work to the general public. It you can, and they appreciate it, you have added to the benefit of
    humanity. If you cannot, and only people of like mind to yourself can understand what you are talking about, I question whether what you are doing is really of much utility….

  10. Wonderful letter – pity that scientists of all ilk seem to prefer the comfort of their individual silos to dealing with the real world.

  11. I respect Henk for resigning from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. I wish him well!

    The sad fact is just this, and nothing less:

    Our democratic governments have been undercut by an unholy, international alliance of politicians, science academies, publishers, journals, and the news media that began using science as a tool of propaganda in the late 70′s or early 80′s.

    None of us expected to find this frightening reminder of 1984 at the base of the dishonesty and data manipulation that we encountered in out respective fields of science: astronomy, astrophysics, climatology, cosmology, nuclear and particle physics, solar and space sciences.

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

  12. I think that the Green Movement needs to look at itself carefully and ask why big corporations, banks and governments have become converted to their environmental causes. It certainly isn’t to save fluffy animals and do good works all of a sudden.

    Dr Pachauri’s links to global corporations are legendary, and for a small sum, any organisation can clothe themselves in an environmental coat of paint. By this means India narrowly avoided being subjected to a GM crop experiment that could have been devastating.

    Whatever Global Warming is about – it isn’t the environment, and none of the measures proposed will clean up our atmosphere. India’s own plans for a massive programme of building coal fired power stations will actually be financed by the carbon taxes we will be forced to pay.

    Can anyone explain how us paying for India to build coal fired power stations will do anything other than increase CO2 ?

    The list of proposed plants goes to 7 pages.

  13. Science in the academia is sad. All of these departments silo up, put their heads down, and concentrate on their specialisations. There is little or no effort made to bridge the gaps between departments because it is neigh on impossible to fight against the rejection of such activities by the departments themselves. Thus there is no sharing of information and researchers continue in the dark on progress made in other fields.

    Well you could say that it easily allows a “climatologist” like Mann to invent his own statistical methods that distort an manipulate the data to his liking. It seems only natural that would happen.

  14. Reputable scientists can still leave the sinking ship IPCC “Titanic” and other august bodies and safely get out of harm’s way.

    It’s scientists who are determined to defend the undefensible and cling to the mizen mast which will see their reputation’s diminished or potentially destroyed.

    Good for Henk Tennekes, his example is the best thing scientists can do for themselves and their respective disciplines.

    Reputable Science must excise this AGW cancer from the body.

  15. Bruckner8:

    An analogy: You belong to a country club that has received its first application from a black family. The membership group rejects the application. Do you immediately resign, or stay a while, trying to reverse that stupidity? I would stay and argue until the policy was reversed or it was clear there was no hope for it.

    Your comment is trashy and shows you have no experience effecting change in the real world.

  16. Brave man, well done! I think I’d use hermetic jargon with marketing people if I thought they’d understand what it meant. Helps explain why short meetings often turn into long ones.

  17. My father built medical equipment for doctors. Dad was an engineer. The first thing he always had to do was sit down with the docs and work out what various words meant to insure clear and unambiguous communication.
    Even since scientists stopped using exclusively Latin for their papers and communications, the problem of what word means what has been present. Striving for clear meaning should rank as important as good data. Bravo for Mr. Tennekes’s principled action.

  18. Translated-Didn’t fit in with the in crowd?
    Sounds like this man has done what he needed to do.I don’t know how he stood it for so long,I can well imagine the toxic environment he swam in every day,a bit like being stuck in a lift with one of those horrible,patronising,condescending liberal bloggers every day for most of the day.There is more than light out there,have a listen to what a beautiful world,just as true now,as when it was written.
    Sorry I’m feeling a bit appreciative of life at the moment,don’t know why.There’s just too much doom and gloom around.

  19. 40 Shades of Green (09:20:25) wrote:
    “He does not mention climate sciene at all.”
    ———————————————————

    He didn’t have to.

  20. The solution to hermetic jargon is something called technoscience.

    Technoscience is a concept widely used in the interdisciplinary community of science and technology to designate the importance of broad technological and social “networks” in the proper understanding and application of scientific knowledge in society.

    IMHO, this blog is an excellent example of technoscience. Keep up the good work Anthony!

    George

  21. As you mention epistemology:The term ‘sacred’ should not be construed as referring to theology, but to the central problem of all epistemology: how can we know anything, how can we evaluate, who are we to make judgments?
    It makes me remind the phrase at the pronaos of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi γνῶθι σεαυτόν, so I would recommend you to read the book “Fragments of an unknown Teaching-In Search for the Miraculous” of P.D.Ouspensky

    http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/archivos_pdf/search_miraculous.pdf

  22. I have been watching the development of Arctic sea ice indicated by the JAXA graph above in the right column. Since the beginning of the year there has been, on my screen and I assume yours, a random red dot evident in the mid-February time frame…a tiny piece of graph line standing alone among the ice extent lines for past years. Red, of course, is the color of the 2010 ice extent line. I now note that the developement of the 2010 ice extent will come very close to that red dot that has been there since the first of the year. In fact, it appears that it may just meet the red dot precisely. Is this random? How is it possible that the red dot just happens to be on the path of 2010 ice development? Any thoughts?

  23. Interesting. I vividly recall the first Seminar of my MSc. The lecturer presented us with a text that was meant to highlight a central issue in the subject (IR), which turned out to be the exclusionary nature of the language used.

    Only problem, the essay was wrote in the most impenetrable prose imaginable, that even new graduates couldn’t follow.

  24. Outstanding discussion points. Maybe it is fundamentally time to question “science” and why we are in this profession. Why did we become scientists? Was our goal as children, interested in science, to become journal authors or constantly pursue grants? Was it to be political advocates? What has happened to that original scientific desire to learn, study and try to make sense of the world?

  25. The real world instance of Climate Science known as AGW bears more semblance of superstition than it does a scientific discipline.
    How so? It is based upon things everybody can see, feel, measure in part if not entirely. And the information is easily transferrable. Talk to me about weather (heat, wind, cold, rain & snow, etc.) and I can relate immediately.
    Hermetic sealing of climate as not weather comes with it’s own self-destruct mechanism.
    It imploded. Some saw it coming and ran for it while the getting was good.
    Others got singed. Some are found stuck to the contraption as it goes off.
    Not a pretty sight.
    So, whomever is not beating feet as this is written, please follow the 9th and 10th steps of the old Civil Defense procedure poster.
    Yee-Haw !!

  26. Not one member of the Royal Society resigned (or, AFAIAA, even protested) when this statement http://royalsociety.org/News.aspx?id=1521&terms=channel+4 was issued by Lord Rees, the RS’s president in 2007. Lord Rees, in his inimitable de haut en bas mode stated – of AGW sceptics – that “those who promote fringe scientific views but ignore the weight of evidence are playing a dangerous game.”

  27. Henk Tennekes doesn’t understand “hermetic jargon”. It refers to the Hermeticists or alchemists who only wrote in code understandable to others in their school. This is why much of the early science in Europe cannot be interpreted, i.e. it is still in code nobody understands. See http://i34.tinypic.com/2cp2a0x.jpg for some examples of sigils. There are many papers dedicated to extracting early European chemistry from experimental notes. This is one of the reasons Francis Bacon was so eager to require open confession of methods and even faults in the research.

    Nice resignation, but, I’m just saying….this is an old problem.

  28. This article some how made me think about some of the points Steve McIntyre made about the difference between due diligence in the corporate securities ‘paradigm’, tied in with the idea of making a comlpex company understandable or at least superficially simpler to evaluate to a special variety of layman (ie through prospectus), and this current mode of academic science. Perhaps it would be worth exploring the idea that the shareholders (read: taxpayers) of scientific research institutes should demand better accountability for their dollars through an adapted corporate liability and disclosure scheme. Which in many ways is a waste of time and energy but certainly much less of a waste than propagating poor, dangerous scholarship on public dime.

  29. “Immediately underneath it is an embedded (?) video for Scientology with light emerging in the distance dispelling the darkness, and the word ’scientology.org’. Is this a sick prank by miffed members of the Dutch academy or what?”

    Nothing nefarious. Just a randomly inserted Google ad based on parsing the last sentence of text.

  30. Henk Tennekes is a great man who knows the importance of integrity, objectivity and independence, especially in the field of science and one of the few who is willing to fight for it.
    For a person with his stature and integrity, he had no other choice but to resign.

    It’s the lack of integrity, objectivity and independence that has brought is in the mess of AGW in the first place.

    Unfortunately, the academic and political climate in the Netherlands has turned rotten beyond repair.

    Robbert Dijkgraaf, the current President of the Academy, states that the Academy regrets the departure, but respects it.”

    Dijkgraaf “regrets” but “respects”!

    But what he should have done is call for a crises meeting and clean up the mess.

    Instead the academic scene is glad they got rid of him.

    I think they have made a very big mistake.

  31. Hermetic Jargon is not just a problem in science. It is rife in all disciplines from art to stockbroking. It is a sloppy habit that obstructs the mind from thinking outside of its particular box.

    Hermetic jargon goes hand-in-hand with hermetic thinking which leads to social and economic disaster such as the Enron Scandal, the Sub-prime mortgage debacle and the AGW boondoggle.

  32. …reminds me of the ending of a famous nursery rhyme…

    “Ashes, Ashes, we all fall down!!”

    Every day is drips & drabs! I saw a fantastic speech by Dr. Lindzen at Fermilab about this, and will post the link to the video archive when it is posted. Refer to http://www.fnal.gov “colloquia” for more information on his presentation (the abstract was posted).

  33. @JDN “Henk Tennekes doesn’t understand “hermetic jargon”. It refers to the Hermeticists or alchemists who only wrote in code understandable to others in their school. This is why much of the early science in Europe cannot be interpreted, i.e. it is still in code nobody understands.”

    That is exactly what he is saying. “…words that scientists use in their professional communications are usually safeguarded against unwanted associations. Within each separate discipline this helps to limit semantic confusion, but outsiders have no chance.” “The Temple of Science has become a Tower of Babel. ”

    For example, incestuous peer review has narrowed their power of critique to nearly useless. He says (paraphrasing) “bring in some social scientists – if they can’t make sense of the paper, it needs to be rewritten.”

    The good news is that there is light out here. The Web allows a wide variety of people to look at science – provided the scientists are open with their data and methods. But they have not been open and, oddly enough, that was one of the first things that the public noticed.

    The future is looking brighter. Publishing in obscure, expensive journals can no longer be tolerated as the sole means by which scientists communicate. If I were Elsevier, I would be looking for a new paradigm.

  34. theduke (09:55:14) :

    40 Shades of Green (09:20:25) wrote:
    “He does not mention climate sciene at all.”
    ———————————————————

    He didn’t have to.
    ——————————-
    Reply:
    Actually, I believe Dr. Tennekes did mention “climate science”, albeit in an indirect way considering the time and setting. Read the following paragraph in his resignation letter above:

    “In oral presentations, to give another example, it would behoove the speaker to speak openly about the questions looming behind the research successes, behind the never-ending propaganda for scientific progress. I myself tried this a few times, but to no avail. In my induction speech for the Academy, in January 1984, I introduced the limited predictability of the weather as a prime example of the uncertainties associated with the sensitive dependence of nonlinear systems to initial conditions and to mismatches between Nature and the models we use to compute its evolution. I told my audience that the prediction horizon, in 1950 estimated by John von Neumann at 30 days, in fact is only three days on average. I dwelt only a little on the implications of this for the myth of endless progress in science. Apparently, meteorology is approaching the no-man’s land between the unknown and the unknowable, I said. This was enough to alert the cognoscenti. The moment the discussion period following my lecture started, the famous astronomer Henk van de Hulst stood up from his chair in the front row and said: “Henk, that is a sermon, not a lecture. Sermons are not appropriate in this Hall.” And the President, David de Wied then, closing the meeting and thanking me for my speech, said in front of the microphones: “Henk, I really don’t understand what you said, and I believe I don’t want to understand either.”

    Of course, 1984 was pretty much before “climatology” was much more than wishful thinking by some politicized intellectuals; yet even today “climate scientist” is akin to “meteorologist”. Indeed, most ivory towers of academia place courses on climatology in the geography department; some group it with meteorology. I know of no masters or doctorate degree awarded in “climate science” or “climatology” anywhere in the world.

    Hence, when Henk was lambasting their insular attitudes, the president of the organization, de Wied, made a statement that proved Henk 100% correct by saying he could care less and didn’t want illumination. That attitude continues to this day in climatology and every other scientific discipline I can think of. So a sermon is exactly what they need.

  35. rbateman (10:10:57) : Great!. We are watching the long waited “turn of the screw”, changing times, interesting times and hopeful too.

  36. @ CRS, Dr.P.H. (10:31:04): Good heads up. That abstract is a bit hard to find, so let me repeat it here:

    The Peculiar Issue of Global Warming
    Richard Lindzen, MIT
    (February 10, 2009 at the Fermi Lab Colloquium)

    I will briefly discuss why this is a peculiar issue, and illustrate this with various examples of how the issue is being exploited and portrayed. In particular, I will show how much of the science and phenomenology being presented is contradicted by both logic and data. Although there is a profound disconnect between the commonly cited IPCC conclusion and the various projections of catastrophe, it is nonetheless worthwhile to examine the basis for the IPCC attribution of recent warming to man because the arguments are profoundly at odds with normative scientific logic. Even so, the claimed result, itself, is consistent with low, and hence unworrisome, climate sensitivity. This talk will discuss how one can ascertain the sensitivity. Most approaches are faulty in that they use observed temperature behavior and assume its cause. We show how this trap can be avoided. There are several approaches, and they each lead to the conclusion that current models are substantially exaggerating sensitivity. However, because of the peculiar nature of this issue, it seems unlikely that either this or the evidence of data mishandling will serve to diminish the commitment of many individuals to the seriousness of the alleged problem.

  37. It read to me like a very grumpy contrarian, especially his claims that science groups purposely create words to exclude others (and his long gripes about the academy, and wanting to have been in the theology side instead of science).

  38. An interesting and enlightening letter, and somewhat amusing as well – because it describes a problem in terms that many businesspeople and any entrepreneur is instantly familiar with: selling and being sold. I’ve spend a great deal of time on both sides of that particular equation, and its dynamics have been thoroughly explored in our world. There are a nearly infinite number of examples of functional and dysfunctional selling practices and associated ramifications. In many of the dysfunctional examples, buyers and sellers form “conspiracies” of poor behavior in order to avoid uncomfortable truths and confrontations. These “conspiracies” are almost never explicit or even necessarily malicious – they’re simply actors on both sides engaging in learned behaviors that allow them to complete the transaction with their asses covered and all potential unpleasantness swept neatly under the rug. The problems that inevitably occur are blamed on “the process” (sound familiar yet?) and from an official standpoint, nobody’s at fault.

    The great salespeople are (counter-intuitively) the ones that do the exact opposite – they not only keep the potential problems in broad daylight, they actively search out more of them and expose as many as possible up-front. This allows them to find the most appropriate solution, and often find additional solutions to service their clients as well. They end up with successful projects, and often make more money in the process because they’ve expanded the scope of the engagement. The client gets exactly what they want, almost always at a better value for their time and money. As businesses grow, this process becomes more and more difficult – the political costs of discussing problems tends to be greater.

    Mr. Tennekes is very close to the solution – bringing in folks from other disciplines is a great start, but if one really wants to shake out the BS they should bring in some successful small business owners. For them, cutting through bad theory isn’t just a matter of being embarrassed in a journal down the road – it’s a matter of life and death for their enterprise. One either develops this survival skill or their endeavors perish…

  39. When I was studying Economics, I often pondered the potential if related disciplines (psychology, sociology, etc) were brought into the conversation. Much like Climate Science, Economics is by its very nature a soft science due to the complexity of what you’re studying… but there are intersections with other disciplines everywhere, and anyone who says they’ve got all the bases covered with GCMs is just as full of it as the people who think they’ll be able to predict the economy just a soon as the computers get fast enough.

    For those who know Economics, you might say that the big variable is the human element, and that does not exist as an unmeasurable/unknowable variable for Climate Science. If you really think that, take a closer look at those GCMs… cooling/shading by particulates is a big part of the reasoning for sensitivity to CO2 being set so high, and a big part of the future warming scenarios in the GCMs is due to projections that CO2 output will continue to grow while particulates will be constrained, compounding the future warming. The same applies to land use, which is currently a net cool forcing on the environment – less deforestation in the future is projected which makes the warming from CO2 worse. So… were these variables in the projections supported by solid research from political, economic and environmental policy scientists(?)

    I would suggest that future behavior of people in regards to environment is probably more chaotic than any of the RC/IPCC crowd really thinks – and that says nothing of the rest of the science behind their models

  40. It won’t be a surprise that this very academy will lead the investigation and re-evaluation of the science into the UN IPCC/Climategate AR-4 developments!

    It’s a kind of weird but I already know the outcome!

    The reality is much worse than reported in AR-4, we must act immediately!

  41. To be perfectly clear, the dictionary shows:

    her·metic (hər met′ik), adjective

    1. of or derived from Hermes Trismegistus and his lore
    2. a. magical; alchemic
    b. hard to understand; obscure
    Etymology: from use in alchemy…

    (http://www.yourdictionary.com)

    An excellent choice of words. Almost as good as “occult.”

  42. As an engineer, I am over joyed to read this well-written piece. Henk’s comparison of technical cell phone development and their sociological implications is something I have actually thought about at some length.

  43. First Jerome Ravetz (a great thread!), now Henk Tennekes.

    It looks as if Anthony has a strategy here. Maybe he’s trying to make us, the “WUWT wolfpack”, think a little deeper than normal, not just about the science, but about what surrounds it.

    That is all to the good. And very important, to all of us.

  44. Regarding my above post:

    1) Many scientists will probably be apoplectic at having their papers and talks described as “selling.” My response is: it fits the definition. Deal with it.

    2) An excellent reference to some of the ideas I’ve mentioned is the book “Let’s Get Real Or Let’s Not Play” by Mahan Khalsa. It’s a very quick and easy 230 pages, and it should set off at least a dozen light bulbs if one can make the very short leap between the processes the author is describing with the accounts Mr. Tennekes discusses above.

  45. “Raffiniert ist der Herr Gott, aber bosehaft ist Er nicht.” As Einstein says, the Old One is subtle, but that transcendent Immanence is not malicious.

    By elevating subtlety to barbed-wire barriers, Hermetic Jargon that hinders broad-based creativity is indeed malicious. Had anyone told Max Planck in 1899 that clapping two tennis-ball size hemispheres of metal together could cause a crater 10,000 feet deep, ten miles wide, steaming intense radiation for many thousand years, he would have said: “We physicists may not know much, but we do know that Energy is not created or destroyed. However measured, your tennis ball’s potential energy will not so much as dent Achilles’ shield, nevermind tip Ithaca’s entire army to abyss.”

    Ah, but Einstein in his teens asked the peculiar question, “If I were riding a light beam and looked back, what would I see?” The answer in 1905 was Special Relativity, whereby “energy” is not what classical Newtonian physics taught. If energy is proportional to mass, converted to an equation by a constant equal to the speed of light [rate of electromagnetic propagation in vacuo], then the minuscule mass of a tennis ball is equivalent to vast amounts of energy. Ka-boom.

    About 1908 Einstein as a patent clerk in Bern asked himself another question: “Does a falling [accelerating] body feel its own weight?” The answer there, courtesy of Riemannian hyper-geometry, was General Relativity, the tune to which all astrophysics dances yet. Difficult of explication, yes, not due to Hermetic Jargon but because the Master’s concepts, so simply expressed, were of unrivaled subtlety. We only say, that had Einstein bogged down in defensive technicalities he never would have asked such questions.

    If what’s Past is fixed, immutable, and what’s Future is unknowable (quantum-statistically contingent), what defines the Present? Hint: Young’s double-slit experiment is ultimately simple, yet results are subtle to the nth degree. Planck in 1899 would understand.

  46. I agree with Henk’s criticism of the closed-shop nature of some disciplines, but I can smell the Kantian subjectivism on Henk’s breath – and it is not nice. For example, his claim: “the central myth of cosmology and astrophysics, for example, is that the human mind is more powerful than the Universe”. That statement is typical Kantian claptrap.

    Kantian subjectivism is as about anti-scientific as one can get and unfortunately is a foundation stone of much of modern philosophy.

  47. Hermetic jargon will die and relatively soon at the hands of the automated real time translation companies. When you can translate between finnish and japanese, chemistry and climate science should be a breeze.

  48. ““Henk, philosophy belongs to the Arts and Humanities Division of the Academy. The division between them and the Science Division is laid down in our Charter. You cannot cross that Wall however much you want to. That Wall cannot be breached.”’”

    This is one of the saddest things I have ever read.

    “You cannot cross that wall” I thought the whole point was crossing the wall. And I remind them, the same was said about the Berlin wall. I seem to remember that was breached by Beethoven and lots of old Trabis.

    Art and technology joining forces to make people free.

  49. What is occurring now is a paradigm shift in how science is done and the new post- internet world of science will be unlike anything we have known.

    Last weekend I watched the old movie 2001 a Space Odyssey. Part of why it was so interesting was because of the window on the social customs of the 1960s. It was funny for example that the writer envisioned video phones, but did not guess correctly about mobile technology. The character “of the future” had to walk into a phone booth to use the video phone.

    But perhaps more interesting and subtle was how they handled a planetary crisis in the 60’s. When the monolith in the movie was discovered, the response was to keep it a secret! Only their top scientists were allowed know about it and try to figure it out! Perhaps in the 60’s this made sense. Secrecy kept the masses from hysteria and only a few scientists had the knowledge and training to deal with it anyway. They did not guess the huge influence of the internet, how information is disseminated quickly to everyone. And more significantly, how many people with wide and varied backgrounds can be working to solve a problem from different angles because they all have accesses to the type of information that formally only a handful of scientists had. Today we have millions of people all trying to solve our problems all at the same time.

    The speed of problem solving can be a good thing, but it will cause other changes too. For example, new technology is copied and put into use seemingly overnight. The peer review may be simply, does it work? Let’s use it. How does a scientist even know what is left to solve? How does a scientist make money? There are so many people out there working on problems a problem may be solved already. I know I have seen reports of recent research that was already done years ago.

    Perhaps the “journals” and “scholars” are already relics. Looking for legitimacy by authority is an old thought trap which is why we are still falling for Wikipedia. Any “authority” is corruptible.

    So how can we know the truth?

    Show me the data and show me how the data was measured. Then we can each discern the truth for ourselves.

    Or, science is as science does.

  50. JonesII (10:07:01),

    P.D. Ouspensky along with his mentor Gurdjieff had worked out modern psychology in the late 1890s or perhaps before.

    Something that was not rediscovered until Marvin Minsky of Artificial Intelligence fame wrote: The Society of Mind.

    The problem is that the kernel of truth was hidden in what appeared to be so much crankery.

  51. An amazing sociology of science from Henk — something I puttered around with in grad school before doing a “serious” PhD. The arrogance and hubris of current Academies is astonishing, but nothing less than what a military man, Eisenhower, warned us of.

    My favoriate professor, the esteemed Dr. Donald T. Campbell, who knew something about epistemology and the sociology of science, taught a course jointly with a Marxist professor, Dr. Augie Feldman, about the intersection of science and politics in the 1970′s that I took. The course presaged what science has become — Feldman was convinced it was inevitable, Campbell was desperately looking for a way out. My paper concluded there was none. That’s why I abandoned my academic career; I relished the inquiry, but knew politics would distort it.

    The only way rotten science is discarded is through revolution (Thomas Kuhn), the same way rotten politics are discarded. It will be interesting to see how their unholy alliance in AGW fares…

  52. I may be corrected, but wasn’t it Arthur C. Clarke in a SF-Novel from the late 60ties describing exactly that problem?
    Scientist of different discipline not capable to talk to each other due to each having it’s special jargon.
    If I remember correctly, in the novel it was partly solved by creating an academic discipline called ‘nexialists’. They had to study basically at least three technical sciences and three non-technical sciences to be capable to translate and transfer knowledge.

    Unfortunately, I can’t remember the title of that novel anymore, darn!
    Maybe, there’s somebody around here, who can help me out.

  53. @JDN (10:13:59) :
    “Henk Tennekes doesn’t understand “hermetic jargon”. It refers to the Hermeticists or alchemists who only wrote in code understandable to others in their school. ”

    I think he understands the meaning fully – after all, the definition you give here is exactly what he’s talking about in relation to science – a method to keep others out of one’s in-group. He gives the basic, dictionary definition first but then goes on to show the real subtlety of meaning in the word, a whole cloud of meanings:
    “Hermetic: referring to airtight sealing, my Random House dictionary says. Words are at their best when they seed a whole cloud of meanings and associations. In this case my mind reacted instantly, grasping at such concepts as occult science, alchemy, and esoteric writing. Esoteric, accessible to the initiated only, is the qualification given by the philosopher Lucian to some of Aristotle’s writings.”

  54. It’s been many years since I’ve felt so proud of being an engineer. The last couple of co-op students I’ve worked with have expressed amazement that a professional engineer would not be part of the “science is settled” crowd (as they’ve apparently been taught in university) and have responded with blank looks when I’ve asked about falsifiability and the differences between correlation and causation.

    The hermetic language involved inside of a discipline makes a great deal of sense as an idea. My favourite hard science fiction author, Charles Sheffield (R.I.P., maestro) had a time-travelling character via-cryogenics who awakened to a relatively nearby future in which languages were a sub-set of professions. That is, to become a medical doctor, first one would have to learn the language of medicine, and the instruction of actual medical learning would occur at the same time. There was a common base language for marketplace use, but technical discussions required that one know the detailed language of the field. The problem as I see it with this approach is the language that one speaks has a lot to do with determining how they think. Although a common approach is good, there should be room to differences of opinion and outsiders to see and question the ideas contained within.

  55. r (11:47:04) :
    . . .
    Last weekend I watched the old movie 2001 a Space Odyssey. Part of why it was so interesting was because of the window on the social customs of the 1960s. It was funny for example that the writer envisioned video phones, but did not guess correctly about mobile technology. The character “of the future” had to walk into a phone booth to use the video phone.
    __________
    Reply:
    And yet one of my favorite cartoon characters growing up in the ’50′s was Dick Tracy, who had a cell phone w/ video strapped to his wrist. They also jetted around a valley on the far side of the moon in a one-man contraption that defied gravity. We have the first contraption; I’m patiently waiting for the second.

    (Apparently whoever wrote Space Odyssey wasn’t an avid consumer of the “literature page” during my growing-up period.)

  56. Henk says: “Hermetic jargon: what a beautiful neologism! Hermetic: referring to airtight sealing, my Random House dictionary says.”

    This is the wrong meaning. He didn’t invent the neologism “hermetic jargon” and subsequently interpreted it correctly but using the wrong definition. Perhaps he really isn’t cut out for the liberal arts. I’ve joined the liberal arts whether they wanted me or not. I really should get a membership card :)

  57. NickB @ 10:59

    I’ve always be interested in discussing the elements that make up the body politic. In my final year of studying engineering I was at a party and was introduced to a gentleman who disagreed with me on almost all aspects of politics. He was finishing his final year of sociology (so we were both thoroughly steeped in the this-is-how-someone-in-your-profession-thinks process of university). After 5 minutes we both realized that discussion was futile because we didn’t agree on how the world worked. I favoured a mechanical universe (with occasional fuzzy-logic interactions) where his thinking seemed to me to be all emotions and feelings (keep in mind that I didn’t speak his language, so I might be mistaken in that). You need a common language before the type of synthesis you were discussing can occur. Even in mathematics, 1+1 = 10 and 1+1 = 2 depending upon your reference frame.

  58. M. Simon (11:25:49) : I have a few more words to add to the subject:

    Fascinating. Links to the Amazon review of Alternative Science: Challenging the Myths of the Scientific Establishment (Richard Milton, 1996):

    In this compelling tour through the world of anomalous research, Richard Milton makes clear what the scientific establishment takes pains to deny: plenty of hard experimental evidence already exists for such things as cold fusion, paranormal phenomena, bioenergy, and the effectiveness of alternative medicine. Because these subjects and those who dare to investigate them are continually denied legitimacy by what can only be called the “paradigm police,” the public is led to believe that all claims made about such topics are completely groundless. With humor and an eye for the telling detail, the author describes many instances when the defenders of scientific orthodoxy acted with unscientific rigidity in the face of the evidence. Faraday, Roentgen, Edison, and even the Wright Brothers were thought to be charlatans by their contemporaries. Taking the broad view of the way science is done, Milton discusses the forces at work in the marginalization of unorthodox research, and makes the reader wonder if there is not something fundamentally wrong with the way that science is currently being practiced.

    Henk Tennekes, I cannot encourage you enough. Follow your heart but keep with you the best of what orthodoxy gave you. Try The Field by Lynne McTaggart. My own training was orthodox science (school) and Steiner’s anthroposophy. The interaction between the two, sometimes gritty, sometimes transcendent, was the best of all possible worlds, giving me a breadth of appreciation, and a sense of how all aspects of Science and life-beyond-science all fit together.

  59. jorgekafkazar (11:08:48) :…“as above so below”
    Knowledge it is not hidden..but it is as material as matter or energy, information can not be divided infinitely, and worse, it is usually and plainly rejected.

  60. “The claims of the mainstream physics community worldwide, for example, are outrageous. All science is Physics, period, is what these priests claim. All other disciplines, including chemistry, biology, engineering and the earth sciences, are mere derivatives.”

    Yeah, those vainglorious bat-surds. As everyone knows, all science is (derivative from) Mathematics — not Physics.

    The nerve!

  61. It’s funny, some of the GWR’s clerics want to be Cosmocrators (world rulers) like Hermes Trismegistus (three times sage), though in this case they would be the contrary.

  62. My father would make sure that we were able to articulate our thoughts so that they were clear to others. He used a sentence that can easily be misconstrued when spoken. ” Jim Burns leaves on friday”, or “Jim burns leaves on friday”. Identical except for capitalization. It helped us to understand that what we say might be taken a completely different way than intended. He explained to us that it was easy in our own mind to understand how to get from home to school, but to clearly describe that journey to someone else so that they could follow those same directions and end up in the same place, was something altogether different.

  63. Reminds me of one of the Grooks of Piet Hein, a Danish mathemetician and philosopher.

    “When technology is master, we shall reach disaster faster.”

  64. s. graves (10:07:04) :
    “I have been watching the development of Arctic sea ice indicated by the JAXA graph above in the right column. Since the beginning of the year there has been, on my screen and I assume yours, a random red dot evident in the mid-February time frame…a tiny piece of graph line standing alone among the ice extent lines for past years. Red, of course, is the color of the 2010 ice extent line. I now note that the developement of the 2010 ice extent will come very close to that red dot that has been there since the first of the year. In fact, it appears that it may just meet the red dot precisely. Is this random? How is it possible that the red dot just happens to be on the path of 2010 ice development? Any thoughts?”

    It will be interesting to see if the line coincides with the fragment. Perhaps JAXA have a method of predicting the future area of ice? I’ve saved a copy for comparison, just in case the fragment disappears before the date is reached.

  65. DCC (10:21:39) :

    “Immediately underneath it is an embedded (?) video for Scientology with light emerging in the distance dispelling the darkness, and the word ’scientology.org’. Is this a sick prank by miffed members of the Dutch academy or what?”

    “Nothing nefarious. Just a randomly inserted Google ad based on parsing the last sentence of text.”

    Funny. Didn’t see the words “abusive cult” listed in the last sentence.

  66. Welcome Henk Tennekes to life outside the “Box”. The internet blogisphere is the new city of knowlage. 60 years ago I realized that I could not function in a box like normal people. After 40 years of running around the city of knowlage looking in the windows and doorways I found I had a good Idea of all that was in the entire city. Very enlightening being able to see the whole forest. Often the clues needed in one box are hidden in an other.
    HELLO out there, any of you REAL SCIENCETISTS please use real people language on the internet so we dumbies can follow along with out a specialest dictionary! Who knows maybe we can help you better understand your speciality or not. ;-)

  67. “Hermetic jargon”

    Hermetism is/was the study of magic, astrology, mathematics, alchemy and philosophy as pursued by the Platonist and Pythagorean academies of the Classical Greek world.

    ie: what passed for science at that time

    Apparently revealed to mankind by a semi-divine figure called Hermes Trismegistus, thought be a Greek version of the Egyptian god Thoth.

    In amongst the blind alleys followed, such as astrology and magic, the Hermetics are the ones responsible for the advances in maths from that time eg pi, phi, Pythagorus’s theorum etc.

    (Hey, you need reliable maths to work out astrological charts, even if the “settled science” of astology is nonsense!)

    All this Pagan stuff, both the nonsense parts and the proto-science went underground in the West until the Renaisance, when the Church began to lose its stranglehold on thought.

    Issac Newton began his career as a Hermetic alchemist, following the quest to convert base matter into gold. He kept vast amounts of notes, approaching this fruitless task in the scientific method.

    He didnt have much luck, but struck solid gold when during his experiments, he noticed that the flame from different burning chemicals, would split into their own distinct colours when viewed through a prism.

    After that, he gradually gave up sorcery and eventually wrote a quite a famous book…

  68. This is a sad event for a sad reason. this new reality of Blogosphere Science is more a system of distributed processing. But how to sort the Wheat from the Chaff. Who has the time? Hermetics! just Joking… um

  69. If hermetic jagon intends to isolate individual scientific niches from understanding and criticism, it really helps the Untouchables if their terms are also not defined so as to make any sense to begin with. Then they control the defintions such that others can never catch up with their shifting meanings.

    Take the by now the at least irritating terms “climate change” and “post normal science”. It turns out that the only answer to understanding their “meaning” is to show that they are literal nonsense or gibberish – words only appearing to make sense because they are otherwise known or explainable by definitions and consistent use within a practical, public context, but then instead deceptively used and directed at another pupose, usually involving the very destruction of meaning itself. And from there on to showing that their use is intentionally directed as a means toward control, by the usual suspects – purely mere brute force totalitarians, and thought controllists, who also finally aim at the employment of brute force to ensure their control as the only “meaning”.

    In Communism, for example, “the ends justify the means” sounds possibly justifiable, but the problem is that there is no justification given for the ends themselves, other than the usual mystical utopian goals which are themselves vague and unattainable themselves almost by [lack of] definition.

    And it finally turns out that the means to a Communist Utopia, thought control, are the same the ends, thought control.

    “Social justice” and “sustainability” are similar terms which are actually only covers for thought control, which itself can lead to or involve every other kind of practical control = total enslavement, unsurprisingly the exact thing which the Communists claim they are going to deliver everyone from.

    Back when I majored in pre-postmodern Philosophy, but which now apparently operates no differently from Climate Science, we could have had the endeavors of current “environmentalism” and “climate science” hoisted up for anyone to see on the white hot pitchforks of reason in fairly short order, as no more than nonsensical controllist Cults, or “postnormally” conspiratorial clones of the same Cult.. Their abdication from using the Scientific Method was quite clear early on from such “telltale” signs as simple as publishing the results of their “science” months before they revealed even their alleged actual “science”, and so on.

    Even the primary subject of their “science”, “global warming”, doesn’t have an easily apparent definition, other than that it’s the unscientific and ad hoc way they measure it, which the controllist cultists and their enablers and useful idiots are still intentionally trying to conceal to this day. Hopefully it is they who will be therapeutically hermetically sealed by us and from us..

  70. Ive often wondered if the Greek schools of thought had not been bulldozed aside by the Church, whether an Issac Newton character would have emerged centuries earlier and made the same Newtonian discoveries.

    In retrospect, its not rocket science- well yes it is.

    Where would our science be now, with two thousand additional years behind it?

  71. “The net effect of hermetic jargon is that outsiders cannot argue with the high priests who wield the words. They can only accept the occult writings in awe.”

    That is essentially what the alarmists want when I speak with them, they want me in awe of the claims of the alleged AGW hypothesis. They want me to join their cult and “believe in AGW” as they do. When it becomes clear that I’m the sort of human that requires hard evidence for claims, and especially for extreme claims, then become agitated. Usually they get more annoyed when I point out that they are in awe of those that they believe (Al Gore, David Suzuki, …) and that they really don’t have any substance to support their belief other than shiny awe.

    Science requires the elimination of awe and belief. Science is about hard facts so you don’t need to believe. No belief needed in science. No belief permitted in science. If only climate science would figure that out we’d all be the better off for it.

    The Hermetic Language inflicts not just science but also technology. As a systems scientist I work with many different systems and many different programming languages. Each computer language has it’s own “culture” and it’s own aspects of being “hermetically sealed” off from the rest. It’s own buzzwords. To be a successful systems scientist one needs to become a polyglot, a person who speaks many languages and who can cross “cultures”.

    The Common Ground is the Objective Reality of Nature. Well in theory anyway.

    “In my induction speech for the Academy, in January 1984, I introduced the limited predictability of the weather as a prime example of the uncertainties associated with the sensitive dependence of nonlinear systems to initial conditions and to mismatches between Nature and the models we use to compute its evolution. I told my audience that the prediction horizon, in 1950 estimated by John von Neumann at 30 days, in fact is only three days on average. I dwelt only a little on the implications of this for the myth of endless progress in science. Apparently, meteorology is approaching the no-man’s land between the unknown and the unknowable, I said.” – Henk Tennekes

    As a systems scientist I concur with Henk. Stephen Wolfram (in chapter two of A New Kind of Science) proves that some systems, including some very simple systems, are inherently unpredictable. They generate internal randomness so even knowing the initial conditions or the external “forces” or “inputs” or “forcings” upon them won’t enable you to predict them.

    Stephen Wolfram writes (on page 39 of ANKS, http://www.wolframscience.com/nksonline/page-39-text): “… it takes only very simple rules to produce highly complex behavior. Yet at first this may seem almost impossible to believe. For it goes against some of our most basic intuition about the way things normally work.

    For our everyday experience has led us to expect that an object that looks complicated must have been constructed in a complicated way. And so, for example, if we see a complicated mechanical device, we normally assume that the plans from which the device was built must also somehow be correspondingly complicated.

    But the results at the end of the previous section show that at least sometimes such an assumption can be completely wrong. For the patterns we saw are in effect built according to very simple plans–that just tell us to start with a single black cell, and then repeatedly to apply a simple cellular automaton rule. Yet what emerges from these plans shows an immense level of complexity.

    So what is it that makes our normal intuition fail? The most important point seems to be that it is mostly derived from experience with building things and doing engineering–where it so happens that one avoids encountering systems like the ones in the previous section.

    For normally we start from whatever behavior we want to get, then try to design a system that will produce it. Yet to do this reliably, we have to restrict ourselves to systems whose behavior we can readily understand and predict–for unless we can foresee how a system will behave, we cannot be sure that the system will do what we want.

    But unlike engineering, nature operates under no such constraint. So there is nothing to stop systems like those at the end of the previous section from showing up. And in fact one of the important conclusions of this book is that such systems are actually very common in nature.”

    Moreover “Wolfram’s concept of computational irreducibility — that some complex computations cannot be short-cutted or “reduced” (cf. NP-hard) , is ultimately the reason why computational models of nature must be considered, in addition to traditional mathematical models. Likewise, his idea of intrinsic randomness generation — that natural systems can generate their own randomness, rather than using chaos theory or stochastic perturbations …”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_New_Kind_of_Science

    Essentially what this means is that various systems – including those found in Nature – can’t be “reduced” or “short-cutted”… you have to take the long road and actually observe the systems as they compute. You can’t guess the answer by short-cutting your way there. In Nature that means actually observing things in real time as they happen to find out what will happen. You can’t “predict” what will happen due to the inhernet nature of the systems in play. You can’t “short-cut” or “soothsay” your way to knowing the future.

    Using hard math Information Science trumps all the “long term climate predictions” (attempts at short-cutting the irreducability of many Natural systems) of climate science which are essentially no different than soothsaying dead tree entrails regardless of how many super computers you throw at it. Oops.

    Funny enough Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” is a book that had a major impact upon my systems science, computer science and engineering carrer. The quality of Quality is crucial for successful technological systems. It’s why the iPhone tears a new one in the Blackberry.

    What we need in climate science is some of the actual quality of science that has been successful in the hard sciences.

  72. Reminds me of a story about my uncle, a fisherman.

    He was invited to work with some scientists studying the fish population. The scientists were trying to catch some fish with a seine but it wasn’t working. My uncle didn’t want to say anything because they were big scientists and he was just a fisherman. Finally after many attempts they asked for his input. You have the seine upside-down he told them.

    Problem solved.

  73. klausb (12:35:53) :
    “I may be corrected, but wasn’t it Arthur C. Clarke in a SF-Novel from the late 60ties describing exactly that problem?

    I think it could have been ‘The Voyage of the Space Beagle’ by A.E. Van Vogt which used the term ‘nexialists’ to describe the science of everything?

  74. ScientistForTruth (09:29:22) :

    Given that the ads are generated by Google, I simply take this as evidence that strong AI does not yet exist.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    It is interesting how cloistered most scientists appear to have become. I find this paradoxical. Scientists should be seekers of truth, and it would seem to me that inspiration often comes from unexpected associations. This is something the human brain is specifically well suited to do.

    Personally I have always enjoyed hearing from individuals from any discipline and fail to understand why many people in the more esoteric science arenas would not. One excellent example I can think of was the “Oyster Club” we had at the Colorado School of Mines. Every Thursday evening a bunch of us (lecturers, students, whomever) would get together, listen to a passage of prose (preferably short), shuck and eat oysters and partake of a brew of some description. Free conversation naturally flowed and it was invariably entertaining and mind broadening.

    The Oyster Club concept was borrowed from a British (Scottish?) tradition a couple hundred years old, if memory serves, but links are not springing to hand on Google.

    The point is, the Oyster Club concept seems to be the antithesis of the hermetic science Henk speaks of. Inclusion rather than exclusion.

  75. Ahhh here we go – this will do:

    “Oyster Club
    In the 18th century, there was a frightfully important club that was founded in Edinburgh, called the Oyster Club, by an impressingly famous scientist called James Hutton. Mr Hutton passed his evenings at the Oyster Club in the company of men such as economist Adam Smith, the chemist Joseph Black and the philosopher David Hume, as well as occasional visiting sparks such as Benjamin Franklin and James Watt. They took the opportunity to discuss politics, the economy and the implications on the world of science.”

    Source: http://www.oyster.net.au/new/tales/

  76. @Mike D in Alberta (12:51:17) :
    NickB @ 10:59

    I’ve always be interested in discussing the elements that make up the body politic. In my final year of studying engineering I was at a party and was introduced to a gentleman who disagreed with me on almost all aspects of politics. He was finishing his final year of sociology (so we were both thoroughly steeped in the this-is-how-someone-in-your-profession-thinks process of university). After 5 minutes we both realized that discussion was futile because we didn’t agree on how the world worked. I favoured a mechanical universe (with occasional fuzzy-logic interactions) where his thinking seemed to me to be all emotions and feelings (keep in mind that I didn’t speak his language, so I might be mistaken in that). You need a common language before the type of synthesis you were discussing can occur. Even in mathematics, 1+1 = 10 and 1+1 = 2 depending upon your reference frame.

    I work in IT for a very, very large company that specializes in the field (shhh, don’t tell anyone okay? ;) and one of my strong points, which matches well with one of the biggest challenges in our industry, is being able to speak about your area of expertise in your area of expertise, to be able to communicate to non-technical clients/administration (really more summarization and business acumen), as well as technical experts from other areas of expertise (this is where the challenge is).

    There are two approaches one can take and be successful: 1.) to know everything (I have a couple people who work for me that actually fit into this category) or 2.) to know enough about other technologies to speak to those experts on their terms, and to be dead solid about how your area and their area intersect/interact. Also, while there are core differences in outlook from where the different parties come from, they can often be set aside or ignored if both parties are trying to work together towards a common goal… and that goal probably can’t be just any goal, but one that requires the oil and water to mix to get to a result. Lets see if I can come up with an example:

    So an engineer and a sociologist walk into a bar… (haha) and by their very nature butt heads – sounds reasonable and predictable. Now say that the engineer and the sociologist walk into a bar to discuss impacts/effects of… idk… the kindle adoption at school libraries instead of traditional printed books. The engineer has his scope (the technology), the sociologist has his scope (changes in behavior) and if the temperaments and personalities don’t clash too badly some interesting conversation could take place and potentially some new hypotheses could be formed for further study.

    For science we’re talking to some extent about the Salon concept (which seems to occur here on a daily basis), in my line of worked it’s by necessity (projects, troubleshooting outages, etc)… but I think the important part is that it’s not easy, for most people it doesn’t come naturally, and by its very nature (unless you’re one of the ones that knows everything – which I’m not) it requires a level of humility that really intelligent people often tend to lack.

    So in summary, I think there’s hope if the interactions are scoped (i.e. focused on common interests that lie at the intersection of subject matters) and the parties involved are invested in the process and outcome. Granted, my experience might not be so easily applied to science and academia, so FWIW, that’s my $0.02

  77. The most interesting thing is that if you replaced the word ‘science’ with the word ‘religion’. That article would read as a perfectly rational and logical essay on the problems the world’s major religions. People sometimes forget that the separation of science and religion is a relatively recent event in human history. Perhaps there is something in human psychology that causes science to naturally try a trend back towards its roots.

  78. That piece on the peer review process certainly explains, why the climate scientists were so outraged and frustrated. That nonscientists let alone non-climate scientists insisted on seeing their work. Its worst than the Pope demanding input into the Koran.

  79. “Take cell phones. The technology is straightforward, but the sociology is complex. Engineers are servants to society. Their work, which uses physics, chemistry, and countless other disciplines, ought to be analyzed by sociologists. I confess that I know no sociology to speak of,”

    Martin Cooper inventor of the mobile phone gave the commencement speech at my college graduation.

    The crux of the speech? Always beware of the sociological effects of what you will invent.

  80. “The central myth of cosmology and astrophysics, for example, is that the human mind is more powerful than the Universe. Stephen Hawking writes: when we discover a theory that unifies gravity and quantum mechanics, we will (I shudder as I write this) “know the Mind of God.” Martin Rees, then the Astronomer Royal of the United Kingdom, wrote a book called Before the Beginning, subtitled Our Universe and Others. Indeed, it has become common in astronomy to talk about Multiple Universes, an oxymoron if I ever saw one. Unfortunately, mainstream theology continues to propagate a similar myth, i.e. the stupid idea that one can talk with insight, and write scholarly publications, about God himself. That, in my mind, is an unforgivable epistemological fallacy.”

    I would very much like it if Henk Tennekes would let me buy him a beer or two. Scientists with humility are in short supply.

  81. Folks,

    Get a copy of Thomas Sowell’s “Intellectuals and Society” – while not specific to climate science, he does show why science ended up as it has from the dominance of the intellectuals in academia.

    Those of us involved in the science of the Plasma Universe have the same problem climate science is now undergoing – and it’s essentially science versus pseudoscience.

    Climate science started off with an untested assumption of climate sensitivity and from its general acceptance being right from consensus, then started to construct the AGW edifice. Of course they also assumed that the only forces operating in the earth system were gravity and solar radiation, completely ignoring any role electricity and plasma have in that system. Hence when they then did the sums and discovered that there was a thermal anomaly left over which could not be explained by the standard model, then they looked at human emission of CO2 and the effect of the Greenhouse mechanism.

    Had they cross pollinated intellectually with electrical engineers etc, they would have realised the existence of another force in nature that literally dwarfs gravity and solar radiation in terms of magnitude of force and energy, and would have been able to explain the thermal anomaly in terms of known laws of Maxwell and Lorentz instead of an untested rule of climate sensitivity.

    Intellectuals think in an abstract world while engineers in the physical. What happened in climate science was that the abstractionists gained control of it, and the rest is history. Remember that all the debate isn’t about the physics of the earth system, but over the consequences of an abstraction, climate sensitivity, deemed true by general agreement.

  82. Henry Galt (10:11:24) :
    Respect.

    I have one quibble though. Everything, in the final analysis, is physics.

    Every THING may be. Pure awareness is not physics; in fact it changes the outcomes of some of the most basic experiments regarding things … thus is clearly senior to physics.

  83. Andrew Revkin posted a blog:

    http://community.nytimes.com/comments/dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/10/the-distracting-debate-over-climate-certainty

    I posted two comments, the first about “one-of-the-greatest” oceanographers – a mathematician and astronomer from WHOI, MIT and Harvard, without a PhD “credential” — who lamented over and over at the end of his career that young scientists didn’t go to sea anymore, think about the earth’s systems, they only sat in front of computers….

    I posted a second comment asking, pretty simply, of Revkin or others, three questions:

    1. When does “weather” become “climate” and what should a lay person reasonably expect a scientist to predict successfully about weather, seasonal and long-range forecasts, say, since the 1970’s (when there was a furor about the coming ice age). And, has anyone done so with the community “consensus” of the present?

    2. Are there any undisputed — and well-understood — climate changes (glacier or ice cap melt, disappearing rain forests, etc.) in contemporaneous time?

    3. Is there any university funding from NSF, NOAA, NASA, ONR, EPA going to climate research for something other than not confirming the enormity of the warming?

    Then, the thread deteriorated into a two-person screed about angels on the head of a pin I found incomprehensible and boring.

    I thought about posting another comment about Tennekes’ resignation and hermetic jargon, but I didn’t think they’d get it. ….Lady in Red

  84. Once upon a time their was a magazine that did branch the gap between the various scientific disciplines. It had great in-depth articles that would often serve as a good introduction into a new field. One could find educated articles about cosmology, nuclear energy, butterfly biology, mathematics, the mysteries of Stradivarius violins, anthropology, and almost any subject you could think of.

    Then it was taken over by the social engineers when it was purchased by a different publishing company. As its political correctness increased the level of intelligence dropped. Now one can read the articles and never have to give a second thought to what the articles are saying because you no longer learn anything from them. It of course became a promoter of AGW and any letters to the magazine questioning the climate science were treated like it was written to “”Real” Climate”. I wonder if Phil Jones or Michael Mann had any input into who was on the editorial staff?

    I miss the old Scientific American. I use to read it cover to cover every month. Now I won’t even look at it in the book store.

  85. Bulldust,

    Thanks for reminding me about the CSM Oyster Club. While it may not have bridged some of the gaps between the hard sciences and the liberal arts, it provided tremendous exposure to students and faculty from other countries. The only possible down side I suppose is that breaking down the barriers only happened in an informal setting after at the end of the working day.

  86. 40 Shades of Green (09:20:25) :
    He does not mention climate sciene at all.

    It’s about the entanglement of scientists, politics, and money.

  87. Anthony, thank you for once again for recently including a post that tends to link science and the underlying supporting philosophical issues. This aspect is one I consider the most important for the future objectivity and independence of science.

    In his essay “Hermetic Jargon” Henk Tennekes references “””””. . . the philosopher Lucian to some of Aristotle’s writings . . .”””’ and he references ”””I. . . .in Kant’s own words: “Reason suffers the fate of being troubled by questions which it cannot reject because they were brought up by reason itself, but which it cannot answer either because they are utterly beyond its capacities . . . ”””’

    So . . . . in the “Hermetic Jargon” we see the battle joins again as it has frequently done in the last ~2,500 years. The grand battle between the two basic philosophies whose theories have fundamentally shaped the major eras of our western culture. The two are not compatible. Where one or the other dominates there are profound consequences.

    John

  88. I just finished watching the excellent 1970 series “Connections” by James Burke.

    It seems that most scientific breakthroughs came from accedental discoveries or cross pollenation with very diverse fields of interest. There is one thread in the show that links the death of two thirds of the the population from plague, to the abundance of linen, to the wearing of linen underware, to the abundace of discarded rags, to the availability of paper made from the rags, to printing, to punched paper cards on a weaving loom, to the punched cards of a computer made for counting people for the US censes, to the modern computer.

    Where ever there is free inquirey, science thrives.

    Restriction and dogma is the death of science.

  89. In the business world,

    Various organisations exist. I was a member of one for three or four years.

    Rotary International. The pont is the organisation is a charitable operation. Totally non political and seeing I was President, for one mad year in the clubs history I saw no politics, obviously different members have various political affilliations.

    But the purpose really was cross border sponsorship and negotiation in areas of health education and such.

    And yes it was full of techologists of various types. Oyur club was mostly farm seeing it was in a bush region but other clubs were more diverse.

    I guess this is a kind of Oyster club. Me I think cross discipline discussion is just applied thinking outside the box, with more advantages than disadvantages.

    Henke is discussing patch syndrome. The internet will destroy this ivory tower patch syndrome.

    I know I know back in your Box, Jack.

    The oyster club works in my opinion.

  90. Why is Solar radiation ignored in these “studies” of global warming? Surely humankind does not have complete knowledge of every type of radiation given off by the Sun, the magnitude of this radiation, or how it is affected by the sunspot cycle. Just 10 years ago these same scientist were not convinced there were “black holes,” now, they claim every galaxy has one at its center. For the last 40 years the learned scientists have told us that power from fusion is just 10-20 years away. If this is all they know about fusion it speaks volumes about what they know about the Sun. Is the Sun telling us it is transitioning to a different state?

    Then there is the earth’s magnetic flux, what is happening to it? How does it affect those waves/particles/radiation given off by the Sun. We know the poles perodically flip (and one is due). Is it going to flip again soon? But, of course, if you ignore the COMPLETE solar spectrum, I guess you can (need to) ignore the effect changes in the earth’s magnetic flux would have on that radiation.

    Am I the only one concerned about this?

  91. Quote: UzUrBrn (19:34:35)

    1. “Why is Solar radiation ignored in these “studies” of global warming?”
    2. “Surely humankind does not have complete knowledge of every type of radiation given off by the Sun, the magnitude of this radiation, or how it is affected by the sunspot cycle.”

    1. Because global warming is propaganda, not science.

    2. As you note, Earth is connected to the Sun in many ways. That was one of the main points of a recent paper “Earth’s Heat Source – The Sun” [Energy and Environment 20 (2009) 131-144]

    http://arxiv.org/pdf/0905.0704

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel

  92. Re Binny (15:08:02) Thank you for this. We often miss the forrest for the trees. When we forget human nature we think we are safe by the structere we live in. This is almost always false.

    For instance it is stated by many “Power corrupts”. This also is fundamentally flawed. No reasonable persons seek to be powerless, to be a victim subject to the discretion of others; to have no control over there own lives and decisions. So others refine this saying, “The love of power corrupts” Yet this has the same problem. All love to feel empowered. Even the one who willfully submits to one in authority wishes to feel that it is both their choice, and that in that submission, they will gain the power to attain some end, either personal or to some benefit of society. The one who submits within a system does not mean he wishes to have no power or influence. All seek power, and in some ways all love power. A far better statement is that “Power reveals corruption” or alternatively, “love of power over the free will of others is corruption.” The corruption that power reveals is the use of power to compel others against their will, the desire to exercise tyrannical control of other people to accomplish some objective.

    So in this sense we see that both the desire to have power, and the desire to achieve personal gain are not inherently evil. It is the desire to exercise tyrannical power over others in connection with the desire for personal gain (even if one portends it is only for the protection of the less fortunate) that is fundamentally immoral or dishonest and which is evil and destructive to a society. “This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector.” (Plato)

    Almost always the manifestation of seeking power in an immoral way involves exercising a form of tyranny, however petty it may be, over someone else or some other group, or within a group. Thus what is immoral is the practice of seeking gain via an expression of tyranny over another person. Murder, as a blatant example, involves both the removal of another’s same right for seeking self gain, and is an expression of tyranny over another person. Almost all crimes which are common to societies are a reflection of this fundamental abuse of power which can manifest in either a personal or group expression.

    Those social systems which mostly easily engender tyranny should be rated poorly in their chance of producing a prosperous and happy society. To try to enforce selflessness, requires a strict application of the verb in this sentence, force. A society that so fundamentally distrusts the common people of the governed that strict central planning of economies and wealth is required, is in high danger (100%) of eventually falling victim to the revelation of the corruption which such consolidated power reveals, as well as becoming overburdened with inefficient bureaucracy. The current British threatened prosecution (because the were not licensed care providers) of two professionals who were each taking care of the other’s child while the other was at work, is a literal example of “The Nanny State” , and such examples will only get far worse with the environmental fascists currently trying for one world government in Copenhagen.

    The Unites States recognition of the right to seek self gain, (capitalism) combined with the fact that we are a “republic” guaranteeing freedom from tyranny of other groups or from the tyranny of the majority, be that majority religious, political, corporate, or a combination thereof, is highly moral. However in empowering the individual there must be a strong co-commitment element of self-responsibility. One cannot expect the protections such a society enables, without both self responsibility and offering some form of service back to that society.

  93. There is nothing true which is beyond the capacity of reason.

    Take it up with Goedel. In theory you are correct. It does lead to infinite regress which may be beyond the power of reason. Not having had infinite time to study the question I can say with certainty that I have no certain answer to the question. Can I have more time?

  94. Pick a one acre plot anywhere on this planet and I’ll bet there isn’t a single person who knows everything about it. And there are those who say the “science is settled” on something as complex as an entire planet’s climate system, which is itself composed of numerous interacting systems. Incredible arrogance!

  95. David (20:19:21):

    The actual quote, from Lord Acton, is: Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    Acton and others who agree with his observation are trying to say, indirectly, that sheer human nature makes us take advantage of or capable of abusing others even when we may have the best of intentions, and definitely does so when our intentions are for the worst. I don’t think the kind of “power” that you are talking about is what Acton was talking about. It is precisely about political, social, scientific, and academic institutions who either do not have, or actively seek to not have, any accountability to a larger audience or public. Which is PRECISELY what Henk Tennekes is talking about, in the end.

    Science, in my opinion, has strayed far beyond what its real purpose is: to try to better understand the physical world around. It does NOT exist to “know the mind of God.” In fact, it does NOT exist to replace God, or to answer ultimate questions. It strays out of its realm when it does so, in my opinion. It is the arrogance of its so-called knowledge and the jargon of its high priests that continues to make me skeptical of institutional science we see today. I know some of you won’t like hearing that. But read the poem “O sweet spontaneous” by e.e. cummings sometime, and you’ll see what I mean.

    The Catholic Church (of which I am proud to be a member) got its comeuppance years ago when it strayed too far into things it shouldn’t have tried to control when it came to science. Maybe perhaps, after all of these years, the pendulum will swing the other way and science will get slapped back. Life needs to reacquire a little faith to it, anyway. Too much science, especially the kind that is coming from the warmists, is becoming bad for my soul.

  96. For me Dr. Tennekes’ words are the first breath of fresh air on this topic I’ve heard in about the last three decades:

    Indeed, it has become common in astronomy to talk about Multiple Universes, an oxymoron if I ever saw one.

    “First there was nothing, then it exploded.” I didn’t notice anyone having a problem with limiting the Universe by claiming that there were a lot of them [and that they all must have had beginnings?], or noting that the meaning of the word “Universe” had changed without any explanation, while Steven Hawking was still being praised as nearly the smartest person ever. I could be wrong, but to me that was a very bad sign for Science. It also sounded way too Anthropocentric, and after reading abouit 10 pages of Hawkings book, “A Brief History of Time”, I had to stop because he sounded like a Creationist. Maybe it only got worse from there and somehow also fueled AGW?

  97. pwl:

    To be a successful systems scientist one needs to become a polyglot, a person who speaks many languages and who can cross “cultures”.

    The great scandal of this episode isn’t that crimatology went off the rails, but that mainstream science followed it (via the endorsement given by scientific societies, journals, and educators), and that so few voices within it spoke up against the absurdity of it all.

    It looks to me as though part of the reason was an uninformed, unthinking, and hubristic reflex to express solidarity with credentialed / institutionalized / peer-reviewed / gov’t.-funded / “science” whenever it is attacked by forces outside the guild. IOW, the will to power, pelf (funding), and prestige by the gatekeeper-elite on behalf of institutionalized science is the real villain in this drama. (As Eisenhower foresaw.)

    “Science” needs to be taken down several pegs. First, funding sources need to be diversified. (There should be seven mini-NSFs, competing with each other for funding on the basis of the results achieved, as determined by independent evaluation panels two, five, and ten years after the fact.)

    Second, funding should be given to top scientists (20% of scientists produce nearly all the real progress according to de Sola Pool (I think that’s his name)) with no strings attached.

    Third, highly accomplished scientists should be given funding to disperse at will.

    Fourth, Darpa should be given authority (and appropriations) to fund long-shot research outside the defense realm.

    Fifth, an agency should be set up to fund intriguing “crackpot” research (including an internal department aimed at debunking such research, to keep things from getting too crazy).

    Sixth, awards should be given to successful / fruitful whistleblowers, curmudgeons, and “cranks.”

    Seventh, there should be jobs for “devil’s advocates,” gadflies, and ombudsmen (internal critics) in every field of science.

  98. Jakers (way back in the comments) – not a grumpy contrarian – a person who does not like being put in a box.

    I can identify with that- i’ve spent much of my working life (as an engineer, I might add) with managers trying to figure out – should I be a software engineer, a test engineer, an electronic engineer, a systems engineer? My answer – I do all those at times. An engineering philosopher can be added to the list.

    I completely agree with the commetn just above: “there should be jobs for “devil’s advocates,” gadflies, and ombudsmen (internal critics) in every field of science” – and I might add – in companies where technology development is done.

    I once heard about the Gore company having “meddlers”. A great way to get innovation, review, and THOUGHT.

  99. Louis Hissink (16:11:00)

    Do greenhouses use the greenhouse effect?!

    In the 1920s R.W.Wood constructed two enclosures, one covered with glass which trapped IR, and one covered with a sheet of rock salt which didn’t. He found less than one degree difference between the two, arguing that greenhouses depend on the lack of convection and cold air to carry away the heat, and not the trapping of infrared radiation!

    http://www.wmconnolley.org.uk/sci/wood_rw.1909.html

    http://www.landshape.org/dokuwiki/doku.php?id=introduction

  100. M. Simon (22:21:09) :

    “Take it up with Goedel. In theory you are correct. It does lead to infinite regress which may be beyond the power of reason.”

    From E.M’s “darwin thread” I am pleased we have some potential agreement. (-:

    P. S. loved your quote…M. Simon (09:20:04) :

    “Physicists dream of Nobel prizes, engineers dream of mishaps.” Hendrik Tennekes

  101. Regarding Larry…”I don’t think the kind of “power” that you are talking about is what Acton was talking about. It is precisely about political, social, scientific, and academic institutions who either do not have, or actively seek to not have, any accountability to a larger audience or public. Which is PRECISELY what Henk Tennekes is talking about, in the end”

    Let me try to clarify, as this also is exactly what I was talking about. I was not really refuting the quote, just trying to be more percise. Have you ever had a work compaion who appeared relaxed, and cooperative, who then was given a position of authority and became a petty tyrant, wheras someone else may have been promoted, and appeared unaffected by it, still calm, still not controlling, yet a very effective leader because they motivated people in a positive way. As a more specific example, Mother Theresa had great power, but was not corrupted by it. As I stated : “A far better statement is that “Power reveals corruption” or alternatively, “love of power over the free will of others is corruption.”

    Climate science was, as many here have noted, a sleepy corner, and suddenly it had the power to “save the world”, which is very close to Blackbeard’s “rule the world”. It is not surprising that some within the system, having an innate weakness to power, manifested that weakness when they were exposed to such power, and lavished with funds , attention and adulation, they joined hands with political activist to “save the world”. “This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector.” (Plato)

    It is not surprising that the skeptics message resonated most strongly in the United States. Out foundation was built on responsible independence.
    The love of power for the purpose of subjugating others for one’s own end cannot be removed by any system. It just operates less effectively within a system built expressly for protection from such tyranny. The responsibility of the US form of government is to prevent the formation of such tyrannies: Corporate monopolies that unfairly drive out competition, lobby groups looking for special privileges, banking methods that rig the monetary system and allow leverage of assets tantamount to gambling, fractional reserve banking on steroids, government decisions making risk public but profit private, government sponsored enterprises that, under direct supervision of government regulators, do all of the above, are not caused by a capitalist / republic, but are a sick perversion of it caused by the love of power over others, and the lack of wisdom as revealed by satama dharma. It is the failure of the US government to police the above which is dereliction of their primary responsibility, the protection of individual freedom and power, from the tyranny of those with group power.

    No form of government can be free from intrinsic ignorance, but the evaluation of all systems should be based on their ability to resist the corruptions power reveal. Since WWII the US has been the most powerful nation on this planet. Despite its flaws, the US has demonstrated a far greater resistance to exerting tyranny over others then any other nation, relative to the power possessed. Remember that if power reveals corruption, the US has passed this test far better then any other nation. Many on the left often repeat the mantra, “live and let live,“ but remain ignorant of the danger of the system they wish to implement which is inherently duplicit to this maxim. The US system is the best “live and let live” system, specifically due to its republic / capitalist system, and within any society but particularly a large non-homogenous society this has many advantages. The “let live” part is easily forgotten in socialism, and both the “let live” and the “live” part are discarded in murderous communism.

  102. I wonder if this man has read Candace Pert’s “Molecules Of Emotion”? She met the same wall trying to cross, and even seamlessly meld between molecular biology and the realm of emotions, trauma, and healing. She remains one of my favorite scientists.

  103. Nick D @ 15:03

    Well stated. Unfortunately, ultimately the division into spheres of knowledge/influence would become contentious. Which is why no one sphere should be put in the position of speaking for all others as has been attempted in the AGW “debate”.

  104. Bulldust,there’s an interesting description of The Oyster Club,where Adam Smith was a member, and other social clubs in Edinburgh during the 18th century in ‘The Scottish Enlightenment’ by Arthur Herman, Harper Collins 2003.)The clubs included The Tuesday Club, Mirror Club,The Poker Club, not the card game but fire poker for stirring things up, The Rankenian Club which tackled philosophical topics, and The Select Society, whose members included William Robertson, David Hume, Adam Smith and Lord Kames. Edinburghs cultural life was not dominated by state institutions or aristocratic salons but depended on a circle of tough minded, self directed intellectuals and men of letters. These clubs were gatherings “where all ideas
    were created equal, and brains rather than social rank took pride of place.” Serious discussion took place amidst jovial, even boisterous company and plentiful consumption of claret.

  105. Odd this ‘hermetic’ sealing of disciplines.
    My son got an honours degree in Experimental Psychology; he is now in a senior position in investment bank scheme presentations…

  106. To all my friends in the blogosphere :

    Your overwhelming response makes me tremble all over

    You fill my heart with joy, my eyes with tears

    There is light out HERE !

    Henk Tennekes, Arnhem, Netherlands

  107. Jack Okie (09:46:52) :

    Bruckner8:

    An analogy: You belong to a country club that has received its first application from a black family. The membership group rejects the application. Do you immediately resign, or stay a while, trying to reverse that stupidity? I would stay and argue until the policy was reversed or it was clear there was no hope for it.

    Your comment is trashy and shows you have no experience effecting change in the real world.

    First of all, your analogy is flawed: Discrimination is based on ignorance; Fraud is knowingly and willingly misleading. Also, to answer you: I’d resign immediately and work publicly to discredit the country club. Anything else is tacit approval. You sound like an apologist of the 1st Order.

  108. Deeply profound.

    Climate study, for one, absolutely requires a highly interdisciplinary approach. But the same is true for other complex studies.

  109. Dr. Tennekes is right of course. But scientism (ideology masquerading as science) is nothing new.

    Scientism has been the impetus behind every destructive political movement in the modern world. From the “scientific socialism” of Marx to the Nazi’s “race biology,” science has been hijacked many times by intellectual swindlers with disastrous consequences.

    For the intellectual and historical foundations of all this, I recommend Eric Voegelin’s short book “Science, Politics, and Gnosticism,” as well as his larger body of work.

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