Thank you, Matt Ridley

Required reading.

UPDATE: Matt Ridley has graciously allowed me to repost his speech in entirety here. It follows below. If there’s one speech about the climate debate worth reading in your lifetime, this is it. Andrew Montford of Bishop Hill has also formatted the speech into a PDF file, with an improved version, better graphics, A5 format for printing by Mike Haesler here Ridley_RSA (PDF)  suitable for emailing, printing, and snail mail. Distribute both as widely as possible. The lecture was delivered with slides, Dr. Ridley has sent me the ones he considers key, and I have inserted them . For background on this prestigious lecture, here is the lecture web page, and here is what RSA is all about and the history since 1754.

It is a great honour to be asked to deliver the Angus Millar lecture.

I have no idea whether Angus Millar ever saw himself as a heretic, but I have a soft spot for heresy. One of my ancestral relations, Nicholas Ridley* the Oxford martyr, was burned at the stake for heresy.

My topic today is scientific heresy. When are scientific heretics right and when are they mad? How do you tell the difference between science and pseudoscience?

Let us run through some issues, starting with the easy ones.

  • Astronomy is a science; astrology is a pseudoscience.
  • Evolution is science; creationism is pseudoscience.
  • Molecular biology is science; homeopathy is pseudoscience.
  • Vaccination is science; the MMR scare is pseudoscience.
  • Oxygen is science; phlogiston was pseudoscience.
  • Chemistry is science; alchemy was pseudoscience.

Are you with me so far?

A few more examples. That the earl of Oxford wrote Shakespeare is pseudoscience. So are the beliefs that Elvis is still alive, Diana was killed by MI5, JFK was killed by the CIA, 911 was an inside job. So are ghosts, UFOs, telepathy, the Loch Ness monster and pretty well everything to do with the paranormal. Sorry to say that on Halloween, but that’s my opinion.

Three more controversial ones. In my view, most of what Freud said was pseudoscience.

So is quite a lot, though not all, of the argument for organic farming.

So, in a sense by definition, is religious faith. It explicitly claims that there are truths that can be found by other means than observation and experiment.

Now comes one that gave me an epiphany. Crop circles*.

It was blindingly obvious to me that crop circles were likely to be man-made when I first starting investigating this phenomenon. I made some myself to prove it was easy to do*.

This was long before Doug Bower and Dave Chorley fessed up to having started the whole craze after a night at the pub.

Every other explanation – ley lines, alien spacecraft, plasma vortices, ball lightning – was balderdash. The entire field of “cereology” was pseudoscience, as the slightest brush with its bizarre practitioners easily demonstrated.

Imagine my surprise then when I found I was the heretic and that serious journalists working not for tabloids but for Science Magazine, and for a Channel 4 documentary team, swallowed the argument of the cereologists that it was highly implausible that crop circles were all man-made.

So I learnt lesson number 1: the stunning gullibility of the media. Put an “ology” after your pseudoscience and you can get journalists to be your propagandists.

A Channel 4 team did the obvious thing – they got a group of students to make some crop circles and then asked the cereologist if they were “genuine” or “hoaxed” – ie, man made. He assured them they could not have been made by people. So they told him they had been made the night before. The man was poleaxed. It made great television. Yet the producer, who later became a government minister under Tony Blair, ended the segment of the programme by taking the cereologist’s side: “of course, not all crop circles are hoaxes”. What? The same happened when Doug and Dave owned up*; everybody just went on believing. They still do.

Lesson number 2: debunking is like water off a duck’s back to pseudoscience.

In medicine, I began to realize, the distinction between science and pseudoscience is not always easy.  This is beautifully illustrated in an extraordinary novel by Rebecca Abrams, called Touching Distance*, based on the real story of an eighteenth century medical heretic, Alec Gordon of Aberdeen.

Gordon was a true pioneer of the idea that childbed fever was spread by medical folk like himself and that hygiene was the solution to it. He hit upon this discovery long before Semelweiss and Lister. But he was ignored. Yet Abrams’s novel does not paint him purely as a rational hero, but as a flawed human being, a neglectful husband and a crank with some odd ideas – such as a dangerous obsession with bleeding his sick patients. He was a pseudoscientist one minute and scientist the next.

Lesson number 3. We can all be both. Newton was an alchemist.

Like antisepsis, many scientific truths began as heresies and fought long battles for acceptance against entrenched establishment wisdom that now appears irrational: continental drift, for example. Barry Marshall* was not just ignored but vilified when he first argued that stomach ulcers are caused by a particular bacterium. Antacid drugs were very profitable for the drug industry. Eventually he won the Nobel prize.

Just this month Daniel Shechtman* won the Nobel prize for quasi crystals, having spent much of his career being vilified and exiled as a crank. “I was thrown out of my research group. They said I brought shame on them with what I was saying.”

That’s lesson number 4: the heretic is sometimes right.

What sustains pseudoscience is confirmation bias. We look for and welcome the evidence that fits our pet theory; we ignore or question the evidence that contradicts it. We all do this all the time. It’s not, as we often assume, something that only our opponents indulge in. I do it, you do it, it takes a superhuman effort not to do it. That is what keeps myths alive, sustains conspiracy theories and keeps whole populations in thrall to strange superstitions.

Bertrand Russell* pointed this out many years ago: “If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence.”

Lesson number 5: keep a sharp eye out for confirmation bias in yourself and others.

There have been some very good books on this recently. Michael Shermer’s “The Believing Brain”, Dan Gardner’s “Future Babble” and Tim Harford’s “Adapt”* are explorations of the power of confirmation bias. And what I find most unsettling of all is Gardner’s conclusion that knowledge is no defence against it; indeed, the more you know, the more you fall for confirmation bias. Expertise gives you the tools to seek out the confirmations you need to buttress your beliefs.

Experts are worse at forecasting the future than non-experts.

Philip Tetlock did the definitive experiment. He gathered a sample of 284 experts – political scientists, economists and journalists – and harvested 27,450 different specific judgments from them about the future then waited to see if they came true. The results were terrible. The experts were no better than “a dart-throwing chimpanzee”.

Here’s what the Club of Rome said on the rear cover of the massive best-seller Limits to Growth in 1972*:

“Will this be the world that your grandchildren will thank you for? A world where industrial production has sunk to zero. Where population has suffered a catastrophic decline. Where the air, sea and land are polluted beyond redemption. Where civilization is a distant memory. This is the world that the computer forecasts.”

“Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts”, said Richard Feynman.

Lesson 6. Never rely on the consensus of experts about the future. Experts are worth listening to about the past, but not the future. Futurology is pseudoscience.

Using these six lessons, I am now going to plunge into an issue on which almost all the experts are not only confident they can predict the future, but absolutely certain their opponents are pseudoscientists. It is an issue on which I am now a heretic. I think the establishment view is infested with pseudoscience. The issue is climate change.

Now before you all rush for the exits, and I know it is traditional to walk out on speakers who do not toe the line on climate at the RSA – I saw it happen to Bjorn Lomborg last year when he gave the Prince Philip lecture – let me be quite clear. I am not a “denier”. I fully accept that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, the climate has been warming and that man is very likely to be at least partly responsible. When a study was published recently saying that 98% of scientists “believe” in global warming, I looked at the questions they had been asked and realized I was in the 98%, too, by that definition, though I never use the word “believe” about myself. Likewise the recent study from Berkeley, which concluded that the land surface of the continents has indeed been warming at about the rate people thought, changed nothing.

So what’s the problem? The problem is that you can accept all the basic tenets of greenhouse physics and still conclude that the threat of a dangerously large warming is so improbable as to be negligible, while the threat of real harm from climate-mitigation policies is already so high as to be worrying, that the cure is proving far worse than the disease is ever likely to be. Or as I put it once, we may be putting a tourniquet round our necks to stop a nosebleed.

I also think the climate debate is a massive distraction from much more urgent environmental problems like invasive species and overfishing.

I was not always such a “lukewarmer”. In the mid 2000s one image in particular played a big role in making me abandon my doubts about dangerous man-made climate change: the hockey stick*. It clearly showed that something unprecedented was happening. I can remember where I first saw it at a conference and how I thought: aha, now there at last is some really clear data showing that today’s temperatures are unprecedented in both magnitude and rate of change – and it has been published in Nature magazine.

Yet it has been utterly debunked by the work of Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick. I urge you to read Andrew Montford’s careful and highly readable book The Hockey Stick Illusion*. Here is not the place to go into detail, but briefly the problem is both mathematical and empirical. The graph relies heavily on some flawed data – strip-bark tree rings from bristlecone pines — and on a particular method of principal component analysis, called short centering, that heavily weights any hockey-stick shaped sample at the expense of any other sample. When I say heavily – I mean 390 times.

This had a big impact on me. This was the moment somebody told me they had made the crop circle the night before.

For, apart from the hockey stick, there is no evidence that climate is changing dangerously or faster than in the past, when it changed naturally.

  • It was warmer in the Middle ages* and medieval climate change in Greenland was much faster.
  • Stalagmites*, tree lines and ice cores all confirm that it was significantly warmer 7000 years ago. Evidence from Greenland suggests that the Arctic ocean was probably ice free for part of the late summer at that time.
  • Sea level* is rising at the unthreatening rate about a foot per century and decelerating.
  • Greenland is losing ice at the rate of about 150 gigatonnes a year, which is 0.6% per century.
  • There has been no significant warming in Antarctica*, with the exception of the peninsula.
  • Methane* has largely stopped increasing.
  • Tropical storm* intensity and frequency have gone down, not up, in the last 20 years.
  • Your probability* of dying as a result of a drought, a flood or a storm is 98% lower globally than it was in the 1920s.
  • Malaria* has retreated not expanded as the world has warmed.

And so on. I’ve looked and looked but I cannot find one piece of data – as opposed to a model – that shows either unprecedented change or change is that is anywhere close to causing real harm.

No doubt, there will be plenty of people thinking “what about x?” Well, if you have an X that persuades you that rapid and dangerous climate change is on the way, tell me about it. When I asked a senior government scientist this question, he replied with the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. That is to say, a poorly understood hot episode, 55 million years ago, of uncertain duration, uncertain magnitude and uncertain cause.

Meanwhile, I see confirmation bias everywhere in the climate debate. Hurricane Katrina, Mount Kilimanjaro, the extinction of golden toads – all cited wrongly as evidence of climate change. A snowy December, the BBC lectures us, is “just weather”; a flood in Pakistan or a drought in Texas is “the sort of weather we can expect more of”. A theory so flexible it can rationalize any outcome is a pseudoscientific theory.

To see confirmation bias in action, you only have to read the climategate emails, documents that have undermined my faith in this country’s scientific institutions. It is bad enough that the emails unambiguously showed scientists plotting to cherry-pick data, subvert peer review, bully editors and evade freedom of information requests. What’s worse, to a science groupie like me, is that so much of the rest of the scientific community seemed OK with that. They essentially shrugged their shoulders and said, yeh, big deal, boys will be boys.

Nor is there even any theoretical support for a dangerous future. The central issue is “sensitivity”: the amount of warming that you can expect from a doubling of carbon dioxide levels. On this, there is something close to consensus – at first. It is 1.2 degrees centigrade. Here’s* how the IPCC put it in its latest report.

“In the idealised situation that the climate response to a doubling of atmospheric CO2 consisted of a uniform temperature change only, with no feedbacks operating…the global warming from GCMs would be around 1.2°C.” Paragraph 8.6.2.3.

Now the paragraph goes on to argue that large, net positive feedbacks, mostly from water vapour, are likely to amplify this. But whereas there is good consensus about the 1.2 C, there is absolutely no consensus about the net positive feedback, as the IPCC also admits. Water vapour forms clouds and whether clouds in practice amplify or dampen any greenhouse warming remains in doubt.

So to say there is a consensus about some global warming is true; to say there is a consensus about dangerous global warming is false.

The sensitivity of the climate could be a harmless 1.2C, half of which has already been experienced, or it could be less if feedbacks are negative or it could be more if feedbacks are positive. What does the empirical evidence say? Since 1960 we have had roughly one-third of a doubling, so we must have had almost half of the greenhouse warming expected from a doubling – that’s elementary arithmetic, given that the curve is agreed to be logarithmic. Yet if you believe the surface thermometers* (the red and green lines), we have had about 0.6C of warming in that time, at the rate of less than 0.13C per decade – somewhat less if you believe the satellite thermometers (the blue and purple lines).

So we are on track for 1.2C*.  We are on the blue line, not the red line*.

Remember Jim Hansen of NASA told us in 1988 to expect 2-4 degrees in 25 years. We are experiencing about one-tenth of that.

We are below even the zero-emission path expected by the IPCC in 1990*.

Ah, says the consensus, sulphur pollution has reduced the warming, delaying the impact, or the ocean has absorbed the extra heat. Neither of these post-hoc rationalisations fit the data: the southern hemisphere has warmed about half as fast as the northern* in the last 30 years, yet the majority of the sulphur emissions were in the northern hemisphere.

And ocean heat content has decelerated, if not flattened, in the past decade*.

By contrast, many heretical arguments seem to me to be paragons of science as it should be done: transparent, questioning and testable.

For instance, earlier this year, a tenacious British mathematician named Nic Lewis started looking into the question of sensitivity and found* that the only wholly empirical estimate of sensitivity cited by the IPCC had been put through an illegitimate statistical procedure which effectively fattened its tail on the upward end – it hugely increased the apparent probability of high warming at the expense of low warming.

When this is corrected, the theoretical probability of warming greater than 2.3C is very low indeed.

Like all the other errors in the IPCC report, including the infamous suggestion that all Himalayan glaciers would be gone by 2035 rather than 2350, this mistake exaggerates the potential warming. It is beyond coincidence that all these errors should be in the same direction. The source for the Himalayan glacier mistake was a non-peer reviewed WWF report and it occurred in a chapter, two of whose coordinating lead authors and a review editor were on WWF’s climate witness scientific advisory panel. Remember too that the glacier error was pointed out by reviewers, who were ignored, and that Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the IPCC, dismissed the objectors as practitioners of “voodoo science”.

Journalists are fond of saying that the IPCC report is based solely on the peer-reviewed literature. Rajendra Pachauri himself made that claim in 2008, saying*:

“we carry out an assessment of climate change based on peer-reviewed literature, so everything that we look at and take into account in our assessments has to carry [the] credibility of peer-reviewed publications, we don’t settle for anything less than that.”

That’s a voodoo claim. The glacier claim was not peer reviewed; nor was the alteration to the sensitivity function Lewis spotted. The journalist Donna Laframboise got volunteers all over the world to help her count the times the IPCC used non-peer reviewed literature. Her conclusion is that*: “Of the 18,531 references in the 2007 Climate Bible we found 5,587 – a full 30% – to be non peer-reviewed.”

Yet even to say things like this is to commit heresy. To stand up and say, within a university or within the BBC, that you do not think global warming is dangerous gets you the sort of reaction that standing up in the Vatican and saying you don’t think God is good would get. Believe me, I have tried it.

Does it matter? Suppose I am right that much of what passes for mainstream climate science is now infested with pseudoscience, buttressed by a bad case of confirmation bias, reliant on wishful thinking, given a free pass by biased reporting and dogmatically intolerant of dissent. So what?

After all there’s pseudoscience and confirmation bias among the climate heretics too.

Well here’s why it matters. The alarmists have been handed power over our lives; the heretics have not. Remember Britain’s unilateral climate act is officially expected to cost the hard-pressed UK economy £18.3 billion a year for the next 39 years and achieve an unmeasurably small change in carbon dioxide levels.

At least* sceptics do not cover the hills of Scotland with useless, expensive, duke-subsidising wind turbines whose manufacture causes pollution in Inner Mongolia and which kill rare raptors such as this griffon vulture.

At least crop circle believers cannot almost double your electricity bills and increase fuel poverty while driving jobs to Asia, to support their fetish.

At least creationists have not persuaded the BBC that balanced reporting is no longer necessary.

At least homeopaths have not made expensive condensing boilers, which shut down in cold weather, compulsory, as John Prescott did in 2005.

At least astrologers have not driven millions of people into real hunger, perhaps killing 192,000 last year according to one conservative estimate, by diverting 5% of the world’s grain crop into motor fuel*.

That’s why it matters. We’ve been asked to take some very painful cures. So we need to be sure the patient has a brain tumour rather than a nosebleed.

Handing the reins of power to pseudoscience has an unhappy history. Remember eugenics. Around 1910 the vast majority of scientists and other intellectuals agreed that nationalizing reproductive decisions so as to stop poor, disabled and stupid people from having babies was not just a practical but a moral imperative of great urgency.

“There is now no reasonable excuse for refusing to face the fact,” said George Bernard Shaw*, “that nothing but a eugenics religion can save our civilization from the fate that has overtaken all previous civilizations.’’ By the skin of its teeth, mainly because of a brave Liberal MP called Josiah Wedgwood, Britain never handed legal power to the eugenics movement. Germany did.

Or remember Trofim Lysenko*, a pseudoscientific crank with a strange idea that crops could be trained to do what you wanted and that Mendelian genetics was bunk. His ideas became the official scientific religion of the Soviet Union and killed millions; his critics, such as the geneticist Nikolai Vavilov, ended up dead in prison.

Am I going too far in making these comparisons? I don’t think so. James Hansen of NASA says oil firm executives should be tried for crimes against humanity.  (Remember this is the man who is in charge of one of the supposedly impartial data sets about global temperatures.) John Beddington, Britain’s chief scientific adviser, said this year that just as we are “grossly intolerant of racism”, so we should also be “grossly intolerant of pseudoscience”, in which he included all forms of climate-change scepticism.

The irony of course is that much of the green movement began as heretical dissent. Greenpeace went from demanding that the orthodox view of genetically modified crops be challenged, and that the Royal Society was not to be trusted, to demanding that heresy on climate change be ignored and the Royal Society could not be wrong.

Talking of Greenpeace, did you know that the collective annual budget of Greenpeace, WWF and Friends of the Earth was more than a billion dollars globally last year? People sometimes ask me what’s the incentive for scientists to exaggerate climate change. But look at the sums of money available to those who do so, from the pressure groups, from governments and from big companies. It was not the sceptics who hired an ex News of the World deputy editor as a spin doctor after climategate, it was the University of East Anglia.

By contrast scientists and most mainstream journalists risk their careers if they take a skeptical line, so dogmatic is the consensus view. It is left to the blogosphere to keep the flame of heresy alive and do the investigative reporting the media has forgotten how to do. In America*, Anthony Watts who crowd-sourced the errors in the siting of thermometers and runs wattsupwiththat.com;

In Canada*, Steve McIntyre, the mathematician who bit by bit exposed the shocking story of the hockey stick and runs climateaudit.org.

Here in Britain,* Andrew Montford, who dissected the shenanigans behind the climategate whitewash enquiries and runs bishop-hill.net.

In Australia*, Joanne Nova, the former television science presenter who has pieced together the enormous sums of money that go to support vested interests in alarm, and runs joannenova.com.au.

The remarkable thing about the heretics I have mentioned is that every single one is doing this in his or her spare time. They work for themselves, they earn a pittance from this work. There is no great fossil-fuel slush fund for sceptics.

In conclusion, I’ve spent a lot of time on climate, but it could have been dietary fat, or nature and nurture. My argument is that like religion, science as an institution is and always has been plagued by the temptations of confirmation bias. With alarming ease it morphs into pseudoscience even – perhaps especially – in the hands of elite experts and especially when predicting the future and when there’s lavish funding at stake. It needs heretics.

Thank you very much for listening.

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337 Responses to Thank you, Matt Ridley

  1. Thanks but…bubbles! We also want bubbles! Where is part 2??

    REPLY: Did you even read it? Because you sound just like some guy I know named Gleick right now. – Anthony

  2. Arfur Bryant says:

    ["And so on. I’ve looked and looked but I cannot find one piece of data – as opposed to a model – that shows either unprecedented change or change is that is anywhere close to causing real harm."]

    As the old saying goes…

    “Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story…”

  3. elmer says:

    Great article!!

  4. Ken Methven says:

    Extraoridnarily comprehensive, balanced and compelling. It also highlights the heroic efforts of sceptics to continue to bring objective thought to the table. It should be widely circulated.

  5. jorgekafkazar says:

    I’ve tried to convince a number of half-believers in AGW that the science was flawed. Most of the links I provided were impenetrable by ordinary folk. (Imagine trying to read Climate Audit articles without any statistics training at all!) This article by Ridley is about as clear as it gets. Well done.

  6. Zac says:

    [SNIP: Zac, I can understand and sympathize with your point, but that is not an argument we want to have here. Check the policy page. -REP]

  7. andyscrase says:

    Arise Sir Matt

  8. John Whitman says:

    Matt Ridley’s talk at the Angus Millar lecture at the RSA in Edinburgh is an emotional moment for some of us. Call us hopelessly romantic (in the classical sense), believing in the nobleness of mankind.

    We have in Matt Ridley someone who can articulate well the human condition of independent thinkers. His talk captured the spirit of the fearless and relentless adventurer and explorer.

    John

  9. andy says:

    What a relief. I do belong somewhere after all.

  10. Zac says:

    [SNIP: Zac, that was not the main point of his talk and I think you may have misinterpreted what he said. This thread will not be diverted into that kind of discussion. -REP]

  11. Urederra says:

    Great speech.

    I have a question though. I Understand that “In the idealised situation that the climate response to a doubling of atmospheric CO2 consisted of a uniform temperature change only, with no feedbacks operating…the global warming from GCMs would be around 1.2°C.” and I know that the curve is logarithmic (Lambert-Beer law) But have the negative and/or positive feedbacks also logarithmic curves?

    I always found strange that the computer models have combined the greenhouse effect and all the feedbacks in one parameter without knowing whether the feedbacks have also a logarithmic response or not. It seems to me that if they don’t know exactly whether clouds have a positive or negative feedback, they cannot possibly know if such effect grows linearly, logarithmically or exponentially. And if you don’t know how are those relationships, you cannot combine effects in one parameter.

    Or maybe I just missunderstood something, or everything.

    Sorry for asking, Great speech.

  12. NetDr says:

    The ultimate irony is Great Briton where they tax airlines for outputting CO2.

    The airliners put out aerosols which cause clouds which LOWER temperatures.

    I read that around 9/11 the effect was measurable.

    Also how much CO2 would be emitted if everyone on those airliners drove ?

  13. David Y says:

    Absolutely brilliant!!!!

    On a separate note, does it make sense Anthony to invite/initiate a large-scale scrutiny of the validity of the science behind ice core data? After reading Jaworoski’s publications, I’m thinking this may be the next great scandal…but I’m not a chemical engineer nor a geologist.

    Thanks for posting!

  14. Stephen Brown says:

    A magnificent speech. Churchillian in its sweep, command of language and, most of all, the FACTS.

  15. Anteros says:

    I’m not sure he has the best grasp of the history of science but it was a very powerful, cogent speech.
    Like John Whitman, I found it emotionally moving too.
    Spread it far and wide..

  16. He merely agrees–zealously–with the current scientific consensus (read “dogma”) on everything but climate science, and is lukewarm on that. Consensus/dogma is fine when he agrees with it, but not to be trusted when he disagrees–that is not new, not a higher, finer intellectual position, nor is it persuasive to real truth-seekers. Here, and on Bishop Hill, he is largely just preaching to the choir. Another sterling example of “change we can believe in”–if we believe as he does. Sorry, but the test before mankind today is not to adore the easy answers of the past, no matter how hotly defended or widely believed, but to stretch your mind to recognize and focus upon new, critical knowledge, that demands a larger view, if you want to remain in a society on the leading edge of human endeavor and human freedom, rather than participate in an inexorable decline of our society. Climate scientists are not the enemy; entrenched dogma, riddling the intellectual enterprise, is. I demand evidence, not opinion (in every field of inquiry he mentioned, not just climate science), no matter how easy others find it to bow to the latter, when it suits their own biased opinions.

  17. Leon Brozyna says:

    An excellent and balanced presentation. Would love to see the footnotes.

  18. Steve E says:

    Well said; just so well said!

    The only arguments one can foresee all begin with but, but, but…in other words, poor arguments indeed.

  19. polistra says:

    I’d argue with several of Ridley’s examples of pseudo vs real, or at least the sharpness of the distinction. He also doesn’t seem to grasp how totally corrupt peer review is in ALL branches of science. He’s criticizing IPCC for using non-PR stuff. The real problem is that you simply cannot use PR as a measure of truth at all. You have to use truth as a measure of truth.

    But his last few paragraphs on the genocidal consequences of the Carbon Cult are powerful. None of the other current pseudosciences are destroying entire nations and killing thousands of people.

  20. Dale says:

    That speech sums up completely my view of current climate change.

    Well done!

  21. Dennis Dunton says:

    Thanks, Anthony it was an excellent read.

  22. David Davidovics says:

    Wow……thank you…..

  23. Zac says:

    “Evolution is science; creationism is pseudoscience.”

    No. Evolution is a theory, Creationism is a belief.

  24. Michael Palmer says:

    polistra says:
    November 1, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    “[Ridley] also doesn’t seem to grasp how totally corrupt peer review is in ALL branches of science. … ”

    From my experience in biochemistry, I would say that peer review IS sometimes very poorly done, but to declare it corrupt is too sweeping. I get about 50% careful and reasonably fair reviews, 25% superficial ones, and the rest pretty much nonsense, such as dismissive one liners without any substantive, specific criticism.

    Considering Mr. Ridley’s critical depiction of the judgment of scientific experts, it stands to reason that he would be under no illusion as to the general quality and objectivity of peer review.

  25. DocMartyn says:

    I wonder how many walked out.

  26. Doug in Seattle says:

    Yup, I think Matt says it all. And he’s far better at it than most. Certainly better than I could do.

  27. Smokey says:

    There is not a single thing Mr Ridley stated that I disagree with. The climate alarmists’ doomsday predictions have failed, just like Harold Camping’s doomsday predictions.

    The entire climate alarmist industry is being fed by immense amounts of government tax money, QUANGO money and NGO money, which causes a bidding war among likely recipients: the more alarming the prediction, the more likely payola will follow.

  28. Pat Cusack says:

    “Required reading. Click:” [Link Missing (in Australia, at least).]

    From the comments, it sounds interesting.

    [REPLY: You were supposed to click on the picture. Or, you can click here. -REP]

  29. Dave says:

    Excellent read. Thanks for the link, Anthony.

  30. Ask why is it so? says:

    Great speech about the ethics of science and the lack thereof. A well deserved standing ovation to Mr. Ridley from me.

  31. Wade says:

    Good article. But I think the original author missed on one point. The similarities to his argument and people’s religious belied are strikingly similar. It is my belief that everybody has a religion. Look at what some of these scientists do. It is not logical or rational. That sounds like religion and not science. It becomes even worse when they take active steps to silence you such as by cutting off your funding or labeling you with a derogatory name. That also sounds like religion and not science. These same people want us to confirm our entire life to their beliefs. Once again, that sounds like religion and not science.

  32. Jay Davis says:

    The best summary of the AGW hoax and the crowd that promotes it that I’ve read. I’d like to be able to write like that. Am copying it and sending to my Representative, Andy Harris, and Speaker of the House John Boehner. Will also send to good conservative Senators. I recommend that others do the same. That is if that is permissible. Please let me know.

    [MODERATORS NOTE: of course it is permissible. Just don't use one of those miserable spam houses trying to post ALL kinds of idiotic stuff here..... -REP]

  33. Jay Davis says:

    I’m printing hard copies for dissemination to the selected politicians. Believe me, I’ve found they are more likely to read hard copy letters or faxes than email.

  34. IAn says:

    I sent the post below to RealClimate. I wonder if it will be deleted. I very belatedly realise I should have credited WUWT and Bishop Hill and apologise sincerely for this oversight. Thanks for posting it on WUWT

    Post to RealClimate
    Apologies but I’m not sure how exactly to bring to your attention the recent lecture (October 31st) by Matthew Ridley at the RSA in Edinburgh. It actually is not entirely on the side of the AGW proponents but argues a logical case and uses appropriate referencing. It also spends some time discussing confirmation bias. I’m sure their are points raised that you will be able to confirm or refute. Although I’m fairly sure you will have read it but I draw your attention to it on on the slim off chance you have not. It is often said that scientists don’t really know how to communicate with non-scientists. Matt Ridley is a scientist that certainly does

  35. LearDog says:

    That was an aMAZing address, damned near brought a tear to my eye – the truth in such stark terms – and the kudos at our host’s feet. I’m thankful to be able to watch this all unfold in real time.

    Hat’s off to you Anthony. What a legacy. Awesome.

  36. Christopher Hanley says:

    Following ‘the science’ over a period of time as a layman, the symptoms of pseudoscience are only too apparent:
    ☑ Use of vague, exaggerated or untestable claims.
    ☑ Over-reliance on confirmation rather than refutation.
    ☑ Lack of openness to testing by other experts.
    ☑ Absence of progress. *
    ☑ Personalization of issues.
    ☑ Use of misleading language.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/11/01/thank-you-matt-ridley/

    * the summary statement in AR4 is practically identical to that in the first report (1990) only in different words.

  37. Christopher Hanley says:

    This is the link I intended, sorry.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudoscience

  38. davidmhoffer says:

    A remarkable speech. It puts the insanity of the climate debate into a perspective that even someone with little or no science background can easily understand. The question in my mind is not if Ridley’s remarkable speech would sway the average person who has accepted the CAGW story.

    The question is, how does one get the average person to read it?

  39. davidmhoffer says:

    As an aside to Ridley’s points about confirmation bias, one might also ask:

    What else should we expect of ourselves?

    The fact is that we are the descendants of primitive tribes who threw virgins into volcanoes to keep them from erupting. When the volcano erupted anyway, did the shaman admit to being wrong? No, the shaman insisted that the theory was correct, but that the number of virgins must be increased. Faced with stark evidence to the contrary, the shaman clung to power by branding the critics as heretics, suppressing their dissent by threatening them or their children as fodder for the next round of volcano appeasment.

    We have built for ourselves wonders that our ancestors could never have dreamed of. But underneath the facade of civilization, we’re still primitive creatures with irrational fears and a genetic disposition toward blind faith in a leadership that promises magical solutions.

    We have evolved not at all.

  40. KeithWoollard says:

    Zac,
    You don’t get it. By definition pseudoscience is a belief. You cannot prove it.
    Evolution is science, it is also a theory but it can be proved, and therefore possible disproved

  41. Alvin says:

    I forwarded this to one of our state’s school board members, as she is involved with the science standards. I think it is imperative they have the full picture.

  42. Septic Matthew says:

    Excellent. Thank you.

  43. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Matt Ridley seems to agree with his peers on the science but feels the cure pushed forward is causing problems much worse then the projected negative effects of AGW.
    I guess we should accept part of a loaf rather then none. pg

  44. Al Gored says:

    That was brilliant. Thank you indeed.

  45. davidmhoffer says:

    P. G. Sharrow;
    Matt Ridley seems to agree with his peers on the science >>>

    Huh? He said he agrees on the fundamental concepts. Beyond that, he describes the bulk of their work as “pseudoscience”. That’s harsh criticism, not agreement.

  46. Werner Brozek says:

    “Urederra says:
    November 1, 2011 at 5:33 pm
    It seems to me that if they don’t know exactly whether clouds have a positive or negative feedback, they cannot possibly know if such effect grows linearly, logarithmically or exponentially.”

    CO2 levels were much higher in the distant past than today. If the feedbacks were positive, life would have ceased to exist due to extreme heat. If the feedbacks were negative, but linear or exponential, then life would have ceased to exist due to extreme cold. Since Earth is so ideally suited to life, the only conclusion that I can come to is that if any stresses are put on Earth’s climate, the feedbacks must be negative and logarithmic.

  47. Muhandis Abu Alifdin says:

    Hear, hear! Let’s keep the heretic streak alive.

  48. Mr Lynn says:

    Does this mark a turning point? What with growing discontent in the UK with ‘green’ policies, and with increasing willingness of political candidates in the USA to speak out against the ‘global warming’ orthodoxy, perhaps we will next see a similar presentation before the American science establishment, e.g. the AAAS.

    Matt Ridley’s lecture has some flaws, particularly his rather sloppily-drawn distinctions between ‘science’ and ‘pseudoscience’, but surely it ought to be published and widely distributed. We need to get it into the mainstream press somehow. It will be a revelation those who blindly aver, “Well, that’s what science says.”

    /Mr Lynn

  49. Matt says:

    Keith Woollard,

    That depends on which theory of Evolution you are talking about. I would agree with your statement concerning Darwin’s work.

    It does not apply however to the modern theory of Evolution rughly stated as:

    All life on the earth has evolved from a single (species not individual) single celled organizm that somehow (much hand waving here) spontaniously formed from a non-living primoridal soup of organic chemicals.

    No proof or disproof of this could possibly exist that does not involve a time machine.

    No hard feelings if this gets deleted by the moderators.

  50. grayman says:

    Well done, I gave it a standing ovation here at my computer. I would love to have been there or at least a fly on the wall

  51. John West says:

    Matt Ridley for President!

  52. Brilliant, just brilliant!
    Thanks, Matt Ridley and Andrew Montford.

  53. CRS, Dr.P.H. says:

    Well, the “problem” of AGW is easily proven by experimentation. All we have to do is build an exact duplicate of the planet Earth & sustain it without any fossil fuel combustion, so we have a classic case/control study. Couldn’t be easier. We could even experiment on the sucker….

  54. eljay says:

    I don’t even pretend to understand the sciences, though my opinion of them has been sullied of late by all the shenanigans around ‘the climate’. This article gave me a fresh perspective in a thought provoking & insightful manner. Many thanks to the author for clearing a lot of the fog around this murky subject for me.

  55. Roger Sowell says:

    Oy…. Evolution is a “theory.”

    Beyond the “lots of hand-waving here” for the original single-cell living organism that spontaneously arose from the primordial “soup,” there are a few other problems.

    Sexual reproduction must produce viable offspring for the species to continue, meaning the offspring must be able to mate and reproduce another generation of viable offspring also. Where this gets tricky is in the variety of chromosomes in various species.

    The evolutionists would have us believe, as part of their “theory,” that living beings with short chromosomes (or few in number, if one prefers that nomenclature) had “accidents” where their shorter chromosomes somehow “got longer” (more hand-waving here), perhaps by faulty replication or broken chromosomes. This accident of nature not only had to somehow survive, it had to find its exact match in the vast savannahs of Africa (or Gwondonaland, if you prefer), and of course that match had to be the opposite gender, those two “accidents” of nature then successfully mated and produced viable offspring that could and would continue the line.

    This sequence of events occurred literally millions of times over billions of years.

    Try having an Evolutionist scientist, biologist, whatever they want to call themselves, explain that one. Try to keep a straight face, as you calculate out the probabilities of that “accident” of nature happening once, then millions of times successfully in just a short few billion years.

    Then, ask those same scientists why no bacterium has ever, ever, reproduced and evolved into another species. Note that bacteria reproduce quite rapidly, when I was in college the dogma was a reproduction time of a few hours. It may be different now, one never knows with super-bugs and modern laboratories.

    More on scientists and their non-reproducible, non-testable theories: the Big Bang and Inflation. Seriously, they dreamed up some magical particles called “Inflatons.” (pronounced In-FLAY-tons). These Inflatons had magical powers. They were not created in the Big Bang, but popped into existence very soon thereafter — as the Universe was expanding. The Inflatons acted as an accelerant on the expanding matter, causing the expansion to rapidly and suddenly proceed much faster. If one considers the early Universe expanding like a rubber balloon, the Inflatons would be like tripling the rate of gas flow into the balloon. The balloon expands much more rapidly. But then, their job complete, the Inflatons disappeared back into the nothingness from which they spontaneously sprung.

    And here is the kicker: those same scientists will tell you with a straight face that the Universe then slowed down its expansion. All of it. It appears that without Inflatons in the mix, the Universe matter just hit the brakes, slowed back down and commenced expanding at the leisurely pace we now observe.

    I’ve always been amazed when scientists begin talking about rigor in their scientific method, and theories based upon observations, and being able to test the theory and replicate it. When any scientist starts talking like that, ask him or her to please replicate the Inflatons for you.

  56. Steve Garcia says:

    Of all the things I’ve read on WUWT (or linked to), that was the best and closest to my own progression and understanding.

    Sometimes I think all of you hear are going a bit overboard on the “Their side has failed science and are as loony as they think we are, and are going to bankrupt the world and send us back the the stone age (or at least far in that direction)” bit. But, yeah, I see that Ridley is right, that they seem to be practicing pseudoscience, mostly due to their confirmation bias, and until they get their idée fixe, no sanity will go forward.

    He also briefly makes the point very well that skeptics have no possibility of doing harm, but their pseudoscience sure can. I still give the other side credit for trying to do what they think is the right thing, but that they just talked themselves into something that is just WRONG. (How many believers in epicycles took that belief to the grave?)

    Now, WE can either slide to the far end of the bench hoping we don’t catch whatever they contracted, or we can keep pushing for more solid science and more solid vetting. It sure has been a long trek, and without Climategate, they would still have all the attention of the press. We’ve at least gotten some people to do the “Out with the bad air (thoughts), in with the new” thing. Ridley was one of them, and now he is not. So am I (to some small extent). I hate it when scientists are wrong and won’t admit it, and will do nasty things to get out from admitting it. It makes them look like… well, like politicians or business successes who don’t know why they were successful; they strut about like bantam roosters, being all proud of themselves, but can be real numskulls. Pompous, self-important numskulls.

  57. Roger Knights says:

    Here’s another broadside by Matt Ridley, posted on WUWT a year ago:

    The best shot?
    Posted on November 11, 2010 by Anthony Watts

  58. Mike Jonas says:

    Harry Dale Huffman – I see that no-one has replied to your post (yet). May I say that in one respect I am with you entirely : “I demand evidence, not opinion … no matter how easy others find it to bow to the latter, when it suits their own biased opinions.“.

    That’s why there is so much scepticism of CAGW – there is no evidence supporting it.

    In terms of Matt Ridley’s talk – it was a talk so does not have formal references as a paper would have – much of what he referred to is well-known so references would not be needed. However, if this is where you want evidence, let’s have a look for some:

    The first reference was to a programme about crop circles on Channel 4. I have established that Channel 4 did indeed do a programme on crop circles http://equinox.virtek.com/Equinox-Programme-102-the+strange+case+of+the+crop+circles.html, but can’t verify that this was the programme referred to or verify or disprove what Matt Ridley said about it.
    The next reference was to Alec Gordon of Aberdeen. That is supported by this Aberdeen Medico-Chirurgical Society report http://www.abdn.ac.uk/~wox004/release.php?id=1514 in which the society clearly accepts Rebecca Abrams’ portrayal of Alec Gordon’s efforts. It seems extraordinarily unlikely to me that a society operating in this field would accept the portrayal if Alec Gordon had not actually existed or had not acted much as she said. So while not overwhelming, there certainly is some evidence.
    The next reference was to Barry Marshall. His story is well known, and a supporting reference would be http://www.thehealthierlife.co.uk/natural-health-articles/digestive-problems/nobel-prize-h-pylori-research-00257.html No problem there.
    Next was a quote from Bertrand Russell. It is on the web here http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/32867.html so appears to be supported by evidence, ie. that Bertrand Russell did indeed say it.

    Need I go on?.

  59. Steve C says:

    Bravo, Matt Ridley, and thanks to the Bish and Anthony for publicising it. Lucid, intelligent comment.

  60. Mystery of mysteries says:

    Brilliant but built on a shaky foundation when lumping creationism in with pseudoscience.
    Which group of people think the following?
    1) Universe – It all started with nothing, and then it exploded, contrary to the law of conservation of mass.
    2) Life – came from non-life without intelligence, but we stilll can’t make it with all our knowledge and equipment.
    3) Informtion – no source of information (coded data) is known other than from intelligent sources.

    The pseudoscience definition lies with the evolutionists, not the creationists.

  61. Richard S Courtney says:

    Friends:

    Matt Ridley makes good points and presents them well, but I caution against too much hope that his talk will have any discernible effect. He has made similar statements in the past.

    Also, others have made similar points at public meetings in the UK all with no effect. Indeed, I have given similar talks and have made the same points (including at RSA meetings) but with no effect.

    However, I have real hope that a change is happening. The failure at Copenhagen proved the AGW ‘gravy train’ is slowly grinding to a halt. When that happened I said in several places (including on WUWT) that the demise of the AGW-scare had started. The scare will not be declared over but will be quietly forgotten and supplanted by some other false scare (this is similar to the demise of the ’acid rain’ scare – that was as false as the AGW-scare – and few now remember it unless reminded of it).

    We need to enhance the rate of demise of the AGW-scare by continuing to point out the truths of it as Matt Ridley has. And we need to be vigilant in attempts to detect the next false scare so we can try to prevent it (if that is possible). Only thus can we reduce the costs (in lives and money) of such scares.

    Richard

    PS I would appreciate people ignoring the Creationists and not responding to their posts. They attempt to hijack any discussion of anything, and this thread is not about their hobby.

  62. Jim Masterson says:

    >>
    Matt says:
    November 1, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    It does not apply however to the modern theory of Evolution rughly stated as:

    All life on the earth has evolved from a single (species not individual) single celled organizm that somehow (much hand waving here) spontaniously formed from a non-living primoridal soup of organic chemicals.
    <<

    You’re confusing Evolution with Abiogenesis. Evolution is not a single theory, but a body of work. It includes “The Fundamental Theorem of Natural Selection”, “Muller’s Ratchet,” and “Gould’s Theory of Punctuated Equilibrium,” to name just a few items. It says nothing about creating life from non-life.

    Jim

  63. Jer0me says:

    The problem is that you can accept all the basic tenets of greenhouse physics and still conclude that the threat of a dangerously large warming is so improbable as to be negligible, while the threat of real harm from climate-mitigation policies is already so high as to be worrying, that the cure is proving far worse than the disease is ever likely to be. Or as I put it once, we may be putting a tourniquet round our necks to stop a nosebleed.

    ‘Nuff said, IMO.

  64. bushbunny says:

    Joanne Nova has posted this to her site in Australia. It is a intelligent, lucid article, undermining the basic ethics employed by so called IPCC experts, Al Gore, Governments wasting money on green energy, such as solar panels and wind turbines. And those scientists who have been paid millions to prove AGW will cause global warming and climate change. The cure they have suggested is worse than the affliction and is already showing what quacks they are, and those who are/have profited from the scam. I fear for the BBC who have invested a considerable part of their superannuation scheme in carbon credits? When the carbon bubble bursts it won’t be the heretics who perpetrated this pseudoscience to the world and who prospered by this myth, it will be those who have money invested in these fraudulent schemes who dismissed their science as nonsense. He who laughs last, laughs longest.

    PS. On a creationist blog, I read with some amusement, that Dr P was a liar, as the world had only been created 6,000 years ago, and he was a pagan anyway who didn’t eat meat.

  65. daveburton says:

    Wonderful essay! However, I picked a couple of nits in my comment there:

    1. “Evolution is science; creationism is pseudoscience.”

    Actually, some of what passes for “evolution” these days, such as abiogenesis, is pseudoscience, too. I commend to you Ben Stein’s excellent documentary.

    2. “Ah, says the consensus, sulphur pollution has reduced the warming, delaying the impact, or the ocean has absorbed the extra heat. Neither of these post-hoc rationalisations fit the data: the southern hemisphere has warmed about half as fast as the northern* in the last 30 years, yet the majority of the sulphur emissions were in the northern hemisphere.”

    That actually makes sense. Sulfur and particulate emissions in the n. hemisphere, which were high in the 1960s, were greatly reduced over the 1970s through 1990s. That n. hemisphere reduction in SO2 and particulate emissions is consistent with an increased warming in the n. hemisphere over that period.

    Of course, what that means is that the attribution of all of the late 20th century’s warming to the effects of greenhouse gases is most likely mistaken. Part of the warming was probably due to the reduction in SO2 and particulate emissions.

  66. Jim Masterson says:

    >>
    Richard S Courtney says:
    November 2, 2011 at 12:56 am

    I would appreciate people ignoring the Creationists and not responding to their posts. They attempt to hijack any discussion of anything, and this thread is not about their hobby.
    <<

    And it used to be my hobby to argue with Creationists.

    Jim

  67. Peter Miller says:

    It is difficult to find anything to disagree with here, except for some of the barking comments about evolution.

    In the extremely unlikely event AGW theory is correct, most species will adapt one way or another – that’s evolution – and some will die out because they are unable to adapt – that’s evolution.

    Evolution is not necessarily a good thing; it seems all too often to be a case of “biggest is best” – purely in the interests of irritating some readers here, look at America today. Without doubt, the USA has the largest percentage of oversized people in the world – both fat and tall. This is evolution responding to changes in diet – however eating meat rich in growth hormones probably doesn’t help much.

    Unfortunately in Britain, we have some of the most insane energy policies on the planet and are almost certain to enter into a prolonged period of electricity brown outs and black outs – Why?

    Because all our political parties are committed to expensive, unreliable, ‘renewable’ energy, regardless of economic sense or consequences. Sadly, few in the UK’s political ‘elite’ will read this speech, or be capable of understanding its content.

  68. Julian Braggins says:

    Matt Ridley tells a great story, and I hope he has some converts from CAGW alarmism, but I do have many reservations on his choice of illustrations.

    One in particular, MMRI Vaccines, and the anti vaccine groups. Here is a review of the book “Every Second Child” by Dr Archie Kalikarinos, 1981 and now very rare and priced at $128 for a paperback.
    This review is from: Every Second Child (Paperback)
    “Dr. Kalokerinos, a medical GP working in the Australian outback with the Aborigines, discovered that vitamin C prevents sudden infant deaths (SIDS) brought on by malnutrition and by the introduction of immunization shots. Infants near death were revived by vitamin C injections, and the 50% death rate (hence the title) in the region dropped to near zero during his 8-year practice. Deaths rose to former levels after he was drummed out by the Australian health authorities.

    Dr. K found his clinical observations and conclusions ridiculed & ignored by the authorities, and still suffers hostility, persecution and shunning by the medical establishment.

    His work is deservedly praised by other medical heretics including Pauling, Klenner, Cathcart and others who challenge the myths that shots are health-giving and that vitamin C is good only for preventing scurvy.

    A great book by a great doctor, it should be read by every caring current or future parent. Pediatricians and MDs in general too.”

    Who is the pseudo scientist, who did no harm?

  69. Julian Braggins says:

    Mike Jonas says:
    November 2, 2011 at 12:00 am

    Harry Dale Huffman, I see that no one has replied to you yet:-
    ———————————-
    Well I second you from the ‘evidence’ point and would recommend any one to view H. D. Huffman’s web page, just click on his name.

  70. son of mulder says:

    Thanks for the link. A brilliant article.

  71. Jim Cripwell says:

    But Matt Ridley still thinks there is a scientific justification for a surface temperature rise of 1.2 C for a doubling of CO2. There is no scientific way to convert a change of radiative forcing to a change of surface temperature. The 1.2 C for a doubling of CO2 is a purely hypothetical and completely meaningless number.

  72. Smokey says:

    Jim Cripwell,

    Observations tend to support an approximate ≈1°C+ rise for a doubling of CO2. Certainly nothing to get alarmed about.

    And since more CO2 has a much smaller effect, there is nothing to worry about.

  73. MattN says:

    Brilliant….

  74. Symon says:

    I highly recommend the book “Irrationality” by Stuart Sutherland. The author is a psychologist who explains very clearly about “confirmation bias” in Ch10, “Ignoring the evidence”.

  75. phil says:

    Matt is right, confirmation bias is the greatest threat. We frequently think we know best, when this is not necessarily the case. Unfortunately, this brave speech will likely not appear in the mainstream media or on google news search. I find that articles returned by searching google news tend to be biased in favour of articles supporting AGW e.g. see what you get when you search for ‘BEST global warming’ and you’ll see what I mean. Don’t be evil, indeed.

  76. Dave Springer says:

    Zac says:
    November 1, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    “Evolution is science; creationism is pseudoscience.”

    >No. Evolution is a theory, Creationism is a belief.

    No. Evolution is a creation myth. Biblical creationism is a creation myth. Neither can be reproduced or falsified. Both are faith-based beliefs. Neither is rational. The former presumes that an immensely complex clockwork universe simply appeared and a random dance of atoms somehow produced all the organization we see today including this blog and all its contributors. The latter presumes a bearded sky thunderer who we somehow know intimately and loves us all created it as sort of a hobby project over a long weekend 6,000 years ago but yet is unable to communicate the details of it with us except through the writings of mortal humans.

    I figure the truth is probably something different but I don’t know for sure. What I do know is that the nation of my birth was founded on the principle of a creator who bestowed upon each of us an inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It seems to have worked well as a guiding principle and I’m not the kind of engineer in the business of fixing things that aren’t broken.

  77. Dave Springer says:

    Jim Cripwell says:
    November 2, 2011 at 3:08 am

    “There is no scientific way to convert a change of radiative forcing to a change of surface temperature.”

    Engineers routinely make these conversions. Do you think they just guess at how hot or cold things get as surfaces are more or less exposed to sunlight? Your ignorance is just sad. Get a clue.

  78. Midwest Mark says:

    Brilliant!
    And still the misinformation train chugs along. Just last night NBC reported that the “extreme weather events” we’ve been experiencing will continue (which was supported by an interview with Richard Muller). Well, I’m not a climate scientist, but I can make the same prediction: We will very likely experience more extreme weather events in the future. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb: There will be tornadoes in the Central Plains states next spring….We will likely have heavy snowfall in the Midwest this winter….At least one area of the world will experience a drought, and another will experience a flood in 2013….And there will be a major hurricane in the Atlantic within the next several years.
    If you fail to note these predictions, you do so at your own peril.

  79. John says:

    This is where the debate should be.

    Yes, there is some limited warming caused by greenhouse gases. That isn’t deniable, and it would be profoundly unscientific to say otherwise.

    But for the world to put more people into poverty, to raise food prices for people who can’t afford it, there has to be a truly dangerous warming. That can’t happen without large positive feedbacks. That is where the science should be — what effects do clouds have, what increase in clouds will be see, and where, if a warming earth causes more evaporation from the oceans?

    People like Hansen and Joe Romm and their ilk should be drawn and quartered for making this whole thing a simplistic moral issue: are you for us or against us, and if you are against us, you will be vilified.

  80. Jessie says:

    Thanks so much for posting this link & talk Anthony, much appreciated.

    And what a great talk.
    I had a quick look who this Matt Ridley is …………..
    He’s a funny guy. And clever.

    My view is that if you Anthony, and the other peoples as mentioned in Ridley’ talk around the globe had not spent all your own time and your passion to bring your ideas and share these over the blogs we all would never have got to where we are today with the CAGW debate and the fun that we have over the keyboards.
    http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_ridley_when_ideas_have_sex.html

  81. Dave Springer says:

    Peter Miller says:
    November 2, 2011 at 2:29 am

    It is difficult to find anything to disagree with here, except for some of the barking comments about evolution.

    In the extremely unlikely event AGW theory is correct, most species will adapt one way or another – that’s evolution – and some will die out because they are unable to adapt – that’s evolution.

    No Peter, that’s not the kind of “evolution” that is widely contested. That’s adaptation through recombination of pre-existing traits or, in diffrerent words, allele frequency within a population. Plant and animal breeders from time immemorial have demonstrated this kind of “evolution”.

    You insult people’s intelligence by naively conflating this with the objectionable belief in evolution in the context of fundamental change resulting in novel new forms of life. Darwin’s big idea was that artificial selection, which everyone knew about i.e. plant and animal breeding, has an analog called natural selection which occurs in all places at all times without cognitive guidance. He extrapolated this reasonable idea into something which can, in principle, turn an ant into an elephant when it operates over sufficient lengths of time. The so-called modern synthesis melded Darwin’s idea with Mendel’s heretofore overlooked seminal work in gene theory and added the notion of random (with respect to fitness) genetic mutation as the source of novelty. The result is often called “random mutation plus natural selection” for short or RM+NS in abbreviated form.

    In principle, given enough time and opportunity, RM+NS alone probably is sufficient to transform a bacteria into a baboon. But upon close examination of the actual constraints in the finite universe and finite planet where this transformation ostensibly happened it seems highly improbable and what appears to be the most improbable thing of all, the appearance of a free living life form capable of mutation, reproduction, and inheritance is a prerequisite to RM+NS and that too had to somehow self-assemble without sentient guidance or forethought. In Darwin’s time the cell was thought to be a simple blob of protoplasm but we now know that even the simplest cell is a machine of mind-boggling complexity.

    Evolution writ large is a creation myth for atheists, no more and no less. Deal with it. Science is agnostic not atheist and as far as the math and science can reasonably and objectively determine the odds of this universe and life being here doesn’t add up in an accidental happenstance scenario.

  82. Rhys Jaggar says:

    For a person hot on the difference between science and pseudoscience, he certainly expresses a lot of OPINIONS.

    I wrote two comments challenging some of those opinions and now I can’t click back through to the link. It is specific only to that article as I can go anywhere else on the net.

    I wonder what that tells you about those promoting the article, eh??

  83. Mr Lynn says:

    Jim Masterson says:
    November 2, 2011 at 12:57 am

    . . . You’re confusing Evolution with Abiogenesis. Evolution is not a single theory, but a body of work. It includes “The Fundamental Theorem of Natural Selection”, “Muller’s Ratchet,” and “Gould’s Theory of Punctuated Equilibrium,” to name just a few items. It says nothing about creating life from non-life.

    Thanks for reiterating that basic point, which the Creationists constantly miss, thus confabulating evolutionary theory with speculation about the origin of life itself. It is, in part, this deliberate confusion that pushes the Creationists over to the side of Ridley’s ‘pseudoscience’.

    Richard S Courtney says:
    November 2, 2011 at 12:56 am

    I would appreciate people ignoring the Creationists and not responding to their posts. They attempt to hijack any discussion of anything, and this thread is not about their hobby.

    I agree. Discussions of the pros and cons of ‘evolution vs. creation’ are fun, but that topic was quite by-the-way in Matt Ridley’s lecture, and so ‘off-topic’ here.

    /Mr Lynn

  84. Dave Springer says:

    Jim Masterson says:
    November 2, 2011 at 12:57 am

    “It says nothing about creating life from non-life.”

    So you would then have no problem with prescribed evolution where the initial form(s) of life that diversified over billions of years into what we see today were preprogrammed to do this like an origami from a global genome where all the requisite information was repressed and merely waiting for environmental triggers to express it and move through the predetermined evolutionary sequence?

    Or maybe you do have some presumptions about the origin of life after all and you just don’t want to admit it. ;-)

  85. Dave Springer says:

    daveburton says:
    November 2, 2011 at 2:27 am

    Wonderful essay! However, I picked a couple of nits in my comment there:

    1. “Evolution is science; creationism is pseudoscience.”

    Actually, some of what passes for “evolution” these days, such as abiogenesis, is pseudoscience, too. I commend to you Ben Stein’s excellent documentary.

    I’d recommend it too if it wasn’t deeply flawed by inclusion of holocaust footage. I can’t in good conscience recommend it to anyone especially families with younger children as some of the holocaust footage is intensely graphic. That turned an otherwise excellent expose of bandwagon science surrounding the neo-Darwinian evolution narrative into convoluted finger pointing screed about the holocaust. Stein is Jewish and so are the producers. They should have left their religious axe-grinding on the cutting room floor.

  86. More Soylent Green! says:

    Mystery of mysteries says:
    November 2, 2011 at 12:09 am
    Brilliant but built on a shaky foundation when lumping creationism in with pseudoscience.
    Which group of people think the following?
    1) Universe – It all started with nothing, and then it exploded, contrary to the law of conservation of mass.
    2) Life – came from non-life without intelligence, but we stilll can’t make it with all our knowledge and equipment.
    3) Informtion – no source of information (coded data) is known other than from intelligent sources.

    The pseudoscience definition lies with the evolutionists, not the creationists.

    I suppose it depends upon what the definition of “creationism” is.

    Is it the story from the Book of Genesis? If so, which one, as Genesis has two creation stories? Or is it a belief that the universe was created, and wasn’t an accident? Or something else, entirely?

    Myself, I happen to believe the universe is too wonderful to be just a random occurrence. But that’s a belief and it’s not science. I don’t have any facts to back it up. It’s ultimately an unprovable belief.

  87. Dave Springer says:

    Mr Lynn,

    “I agree. Discussions of the pros and cons of ‘evolution vs. creation’ are fun, but that topic was quite by-the-way in Matt Ridley’s lecture, and so ‘off-topic’ here.”

    Well I disagree. An Oxford don who earned PhD in zoology 25 years ago then immediately abandoned the practice of science to instead become a science jounalist certainly knew what he was doing when he threw out that bit of meat. His major plot element was the difference between science and psuedo-science and he threw out the gratuitous classification of creationism as pseudo-science to curry favor with the audience. I’ve seen this a million times where someone has an axe to grind in one particular area of science he believes is corrupt but is first careful to agree that this is the only bone he has to pick and that the rest of science is as pure and true as the driven snow.

    There are in fact two great pseudo-scientific bandwagons today that dwarf all others: evolution and global warming.

    I gave up on exposing the former but gained quite an education in the process and none of that education changed my skepticism of the neo-Darwinian narrative. Life and the universe have virtually no hallmarks of random construction but rather carries the hallmarks of design at every scale. I didn’t figure this would ever be proven one way or another in my lifetime so after the learning experience tapered off into the same arguments being repeated over and over which would never be won there didn’t seem to be much point left in it.

    Global warming, on the other hand, I figured stood an excellent chance of being soundly refuted by the intrusion of global cooling, or at least global non-warming, within my lifetime. So I switched psuedo-science bandwagon targets and now the climate is doing exactly what I’d expected it would do. And so far the arguments are still somewhat fresh and there’s still a lot of learning to do because while the CO2 bogeyman is coming to be well understood we still can’t predict either the weather or the climate to anyone’s great satisfaction.

  88. Mike M says:

    A more metaphoric analogy to me is the ancient practice of ritual human sacrifice. Shamans convinced people that they were the experts on how to appease the supernatural beings who controlled the Sun. Every year, likely around now, a shaman would start warning the masses again that the days were becoming shorter and would eventually plunge them all into perpetual darkness unless the gods were rewarded (bribed) into reversing the trend. The shamans enjoyed a total monopoly on this ‘science’ of theirs, likely including free food and housing plus advances from young virgins who competed with each other to be chosen for sacrifice. You might say it was an ancient gravy train – shaman style.

    Who in their right mind could possibly argue with them? The sacrifice is made in late December and by mid January Stonehenge proves that the Sun is starting to rise and set a little further to the south again resulting in longer days. Why it’s a direct correlation! (and if you dare argue you’ll upset the gods requiring another sacrifice – yours.)

    Our modern day climate shysters have concocted the exact same scam here, (well, at least they haven’t killed anyone to prove themselves right…yet). Instead, we ALL have to suffer for an entire year – year after year, all the while praising them for ‘saving’ us from catastrophic climate change and lavishing them with our hard earned ‘gold’ while they conduct a ritual sacrifice of our entire energy based economy.

    And if you dare argue you will upset the media ‘gods’ who will be more than glad to see something done to you similar to what those ancient shamans likely did to those young virgins…. before the sacrifice ceremony that is.

  89. Dick of Utah says:

    Speaking of pseudoscience, here’s the latest from one of our most prolific spreaders of that art – in great form:

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5g_vRxk1x0gV6lh77pCUYvzfgPQMw?docId=13969a79a76544b5ba4cdaad78e0d14a

    “Future holds more extreme weather
    By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer – 1 day ago “

  90. Dave Springer says:

    Jessie says:
    November 2, 2011 at 6:10 am

    “http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_ridley_when_ideas_have_sex.html”

    While you’re at the TED site don’t miss this speaker whom I believe has the most important, transformational message ever put forward on that stage:

    http://www.ted.com/speakers/craig_venter.html

    My emphasis.

    Why you should listen to him:

    Craig Venter, the man who led the private effort to sequence the human genome, is hard at work now on even more potentially world-changing projects.

    First, there’s his mission aboard the Sorcerer II, a 92-foot yacht, which, in 2006, finished its voyage around the globe to sample, catalouge and decode the genes of the ocean’s unknown microorganisms. Quite a task, when you consider that there are tens of millions of microbes in a single drop of sea water. Then there’s the J. Craig Venter Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to researching genomics and exploring its societal implications.

    In 2005, Venter founded Synthetic Genomics, a private company with a provocative mission: to engineer new life forms. Its goal is to design, synthesize and assemble synthetic microorganisms that will produce alternative fuels, such as ethanol or hydrogen. He was on Time magzine’s 2007 list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

    In early 2008, scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute announced that they had manufactured the entire genome of a bacterium by painstakingly stitching together its chemical components. By sequencing a genome, scientists can begin to custom-design bootable organisms, creating biological robots that can produce from scratch chemicals humans can use, such as biofuel. And in 2010, they announced, they had created “synthetic life” — DNA created digitally, inserted into a living bacterium, and remaining alive.

    I’ve been following this guy for about 10 years and synthetic biology for close to 25 years. My profession for 35 years is computer hardware and software design but speaking as an engineer in general the opportunities in synthetic biology for exploition into practical applications is mind boggling, transformative in scope greater than metallurgy, agriculture, mass production, medicine, and electronic computation & communication. I consider these to be stepping stones leading up to the greatest transformative technology of them all – synthetic biology.

    I first got a glimmer of the potential when I read the following book 25 years ago:

    http://e-drexler.com/p/06/00/EOC_Cover.html

    It’s a free e-book now. Its track record of predicting the direction of technology has been amazing so far. It predicted the world wide web and while it didn’t predict hypertext, which was conceived years earlier in Project Xanadu (which I was familiar with because I worked with some of the people in it), it did lay out a roadmap for how hypertext would underpin the world wide web. Due to the enormity of information that had to be obtained, catalogued, correlated, and understood on the road to synthetic biology the author of Engines rightly concluded that only a world wide hypertext network was up to the task so its creation was inevitable.

  91. DirkH says:

    Roger Sowell says:
    November 1, 2011 at 11:03 pm
    “The evolutionists would have us believe, as part of their “theory,” that living beings with short chromosomes (or few in number, if one prefers that nomenclature) had “accidents” where their shorter chromosomes somehow “got longer” (more hand-waving here), perhaps by faulty replication or broken chromosomes. This accident of nature not only had to somehow survive, it had to find its exact match in the vast savannahs of Africa (or Gwondonaland, if you prefer), and of course that match had to be the opposite gender, those two “accidents” of nature then successfully mated and produced viable offspring that could and would continue the line. ”

    It is not necessary that father and mother have the same length of chromosomes. Your X and Y chromosome don’t have the same length.
    Chromosomal crossover happens during meiosis, when producing the sperm resp. egg cell; before sperm and egg fuse.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meiosis

  92. mikef2 says:

    Folks….I think the dawning realisation of the CAGW scam is not just about climate science, its a actually a dawning realisation of 30+ years of faff surrounding many of western societys institutions. For too long sensible people have looked on in amazement but have done nothing at the total waste of time any money that have become institutions in their own right – HR departments, NGOs for every day of the week with a pointless opinion on something that does not really matter, charititable organisations that have actually become corporate monsters, government/banking being joined at the hip, capitalism and any concept of Keynsian policy bastardised into a socio acceptable world view of a few chosen elites. Like the EU for example…

    And now times are hard, money is running out. We are looking at this wasteful baggage and realising we cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the waste any longer.
    CAGW is just one of a number of items about to be thrown under the bus.

    I’m actually quite enjoying seeing the world view of the Guardian/BBC nexus being torn apart.

  93. NetDr says:

    Astronomy is science but Astrology is non science.

    The difference is that Astronomical observations can be duplicated by even skeptical observers. If a cause effect relationship is proposed this can be verified by new or different observations and double blind experiments are possible.

    Climate science through no fault of it’s own is more like Astrology. We have more warm winters and it is intuitively logical that Global Warming is causing it. We have cold snowy winters and after some initial confusion the alarmists agree that they are caused by Global Warming too.

    If we went back to having warm winters I am certain that the alarmists would go back to claiming it was caused by global warming.

    In climate studies a double blind study is not possible. Which arguments favor global warming is immediately apparent.

    Equating climate science to a real science where controlled experiments can be conducted and double blind experiments are possible is invalid.

  94. KenB says:

    I’d suggest ignoring the side baits to slide this discussion to a ding dong battle between beliefs, a form of divide and divert from science. Is it a form of flaming by cherry picking or regurgitating the leftover pits, each to his own I say…!!

  95. phil says:

    Breaking story: Another DOE Favorite, Beacon Power, Files for Chapter 11… will be interesting to see how many of these DOE-backed renewable energy companies file for bankruptcy in the next couple of years.

    1) Solyndra ($528 million in federal loan guarantees)
    2) Beacon Power ($43 million in federal loan guarantees)
    3) Ener1 (recently delisted from Nasdaq), parent company of EnerDel ($118 million in federal loan guarantees)

  96. viejecita says:

    I came today looking for bubbles part 2, saw the photo, clicked, and read the text of the conference at the Bishop Hill blog.
    But I have a question for Matt Ridley, which I can’t post at Bishop Hill ( I am not able to post there, but am allowed to do so here )
    -Sir: ¿Have you really tried saying you believe God is bad at the Vatican?.

    Because I believe that either God does not exist, or else He is powerless, not really wise, or Unjust or Bad, or maybe all four. I was brought up as an Ultra Catholic, but one day this idea became clear to me, so I broke up with God and with my Church. But whenever I have said so , not at the Vatican, but to all kinds of priests, and even Bishops, their reaction has not been that of making me shut up, or banning me, but on the contrary, they have always treated me like a beloved daughter who had gone away but would one day return to the faith, and it would be a day of rejoicing…
    This riles me a bit, as I have been happier and at peace with myself for the past 40 years, ever since I made the break. But, even so, that the “Orthodox Climate Change Scientists” would treat you that way, while the Catholic Church treats “heretics” in such a different way seems amazing to me.

  97. Steve Garcia says:

    @Richard S Courtney November 2, 2011 at 12:56 am:

    However, I have real hope that a change is happening. The failure at Copenhagen proved the AGW ‘gravy train’ is slowly grinding to a halt. When that happened I said in several places (including on WUWT) that the demise of the AGW-scare had started.

    Yes. As Churchill said about D-Day, “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it IS the end of the beginning.” The Climategate affair gave it a boost, but the participants themselves shot CAGW (nearly to the point of throwing it under the bus), but the big news during Copenhagen was really Climategate.

    The one-two punch was like a Joe Frazier left hook. And like Smokin’ Joe, Anthony Watts and Steve McIntyre kept the pressure on, relentlessly. RIdley’s address is as good as any single point made, but just like there are hundreds of punches thrown in the ring, the bout is won with a few extra critical of those punches.

    D-Day did not end World War II (Stalingrad did, more than any single other ‘punch’). Mostly it was the relentlessness of the bombing raids and the Soviets killing about 8 million German soldiers. In CAGW, it is the day-to-day of WUWT and the calmness and carefulness of Steve M at CA. And as much as some think otherwise, Judith Curry is having an effect.

    The scare will not be declared over but will be quietly forgotten and supplanted by some other false scare (this is similar to the demise of the ’acid rain’ scare – that was as false as the AGW-scare – and few now remember it unless reminded of it).

    Very true. Good get out of the past.

  98. meemoe_uk says:

    Astronomy is a science; astrology is a pseudoscience.
    Evolution is science; creationism is pseudoscience.
    Molecular biology is science; homeopathy is pseudoscience.
    Vaccination is science; the MMR scare is pseudoscience.
    Oxygen is science; phlogiston was pseudoscience.
    Chemistry is science; alchemy was pseudoscience.

    Are you with me so far?
    Yes, you seem to be substituting the words ‘science’ for ‘correct’ and ‘pseudoscience’ for ‘discredited’
    Hypotheses don’t have to be correct for scientific metohd to be applied. A lot of plausible hypotheses which were investigated properly ( scientifically ), turned out to be wrong, but are still exercised today in the classrooms to demonstrate how such plausible hypothesis, i.e. unbreakable with logic, can be discounted.
    In other words, science is a method for falsifying \ verifying hypotheses. It’s not a synonym for ‘correct’ or an anonym for ‘discredited’.

    This casual misuse of the word ‘science’ smacks of how AGWer’s use it to rubber stamp all their dogma. And it bugs me in the same way as when I open a student science book, >99% of the contents is study of verified hypotheses. Students ( i.e. most today ) brought up on a diet of such books have little idea of the explorative nature of science. i.e. Every idea they read in their student book is the right idea. Students rarely have to be skeptical & weigh it up as they learn. Believe everything they read is the more efficient way of learning. Clearly thus method of teaching science doesn’t sive out ‘believers’ from skeptics.

    Heck, some might even come away throwing the word ‘science’ around like any other religious seal of approval ‘science says so’ = ‘ the bible says so ‘ , ‘ Oxygen is science ‘ ‘ oxygen is gods word ‘.

    No one else here cares? Not suprised. Since you’re all the My education was rooted in not questioning >99% of the science stuff I was taught, because I was told it was truth sort !

  99. Jim Cripwell says:

    Smokey writes “Observations tend to support an approximate ≈1°C+ rise for a doubling of CO2. Certainly nothing to get alarmed about.”

    What observations?

  100. John Whitman says:

    Dr. Loehle has some thoughtful discussions of confirmation bias in his book (see below) which are blended into a discussion of being a scientist in the current culture.

    I recommend it; often referring back to it as I participate in the climate science blogs.

    ‘Becoming a Successful Scientist: Strategic Thinking for Scientific Discovery’ by Craig Loehle PhD (Jan 29, 2010)

    Kindle for PC version available.

    John

  101. Jim Cripwell says:

    Dave Springer writes “Engineers routinely make these conversions. Do you think they just guess at how hot or cold things get as surfaces are more or less exposed to sunlight? Your ignorance is just sad. Get a clue.”

    Of course they do. That is not what I am talking about. I am talking about the alleged change of radiative forcing of 3.7 Wm-2 for a doubling of CO2. There is no way to change this number into a change of surface temperature using proper physics.

  102. P.F. says:

    Zac says: Nov. 1, 2011 at 6:02 pm “No. Evolution is a theory, Creationism is a belief.”

    No. Evolution is a well-established fact, like planets orbiting around the sun. The process of evolution is where theories abound. Even religion itself provides multiple examples of evolution. For example: one central figure influences a tight band of 12 followers, each with their own take on the ideology and expressed in differing ways once the central figure passes. Then the ideologies of some of those twelve founding members evolve over time into factions and then into strong, established features on the political and cultural landscape. Some go extinct. Whether it be Abraham, Jesus, or Muhammad, all of their ideologies radiated across the land and evolved into things one can argue are similar, but not particularly fully consistent with the original form.

  103. Kev-in-Uk says:

    A great lecture in my opinion. I particularly felt empathy with the way he started to look into the climate issue – I reckon many of us skeptics were similarly drawn in to the debate. But the interesting part for me was his rationale on confirmation bias – basically stating that those without knowledge or expertise on a subject exhibit the least amount of bias. This is exactly how I started looking at climate science – and I suspect many other engineers/scientists were the same. ?
    I looked at the data and ‘believed’ but wasn’t sure – then when I started to look – it definately wasn’t clear, and simple ‘concensus’ deductions from the media made little scientific sense. Curiosity killed the cat, I started to read about the issue – and here I am.
    No confirmation bias from me – an engineer/scientist in a related field but having no actual ‘interest’ in the subject – but basic scientific inquisitiveness was my downfall….I really do agree with Matts deduction that the so called experts have all the confirmation bias and this really leads to an absolute requirement for papers, data, code, etc to be reviewed by totally non subject working (but perfectly scientifically valid) individuals.
    I don’t know about others, but I do seriously find myself reading the majority of AGW BS and saying/thinking, ‘that’s a stretch’ or ‘that’s too much of an ssumption’, etc, etc – I can’t describe it – it’s just when things don’t seem to gel or fit right with basic science principles?

  104. Symon says:

    It’s hilarious to read the comments in this thread from ‘God squad’ folks apparently happy to read that climate scientists are falling for confirmation bias without removing the rafters from their own eyes when it comes to creationism. Love it, keep up the good work.

  105. Jim Masterson says:

    >>
    Dave Springer says:
    November 2, 2011 at 6:40 am

    So you would then have no problem with prescribed evolution where the initial form(s) of life that diversified over billions of years into what we see today were preprogrammed to do this like an origami from a global genome where all the requisite information was repressed and merely waiting for environmental triggers to express it and move through the predetermined evolutionary sequence?
    <<

    This sounds like Panspermia, which I don’t agree with at all.

    >>
    Or maybe you do have some presumptions about the origin of life after all and you just don’t want to admit it.
    <<

    I do. But I didn’t want to hijack a thread about climate/AGW pseudoscience and discuss Abiogenesis.

    Jim

  106. Mark Hladik says:

    Apologies if this has been suggested, but send the .pdf to the Weather Channel. They had a propaganda piece this morning (complete with “Dr” Muller) talking about ‘climate change’, extreme weather, the number of ‘hot’ days vs. the number of ‘cold’ days, ad infinitum ad nauseum … …

    At least Heidi Cullen was easy on the eyes … … … …

    Regards to all,

    Mark H.

  107. John Whitman says:

    In his RSA talk, Matt Ridley said,

    “I am not a “denier”. I fully accept that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, the climate has been warming and that man is very likely to be at least partly responsible.”

    “I was not always such a “lukewarmer”. In the mid 2000s one image in particular played a big role in making me abandon my doubts about dangerous man-made climate change: the hockey stick*.”

    Matt Ridely used ‘ ‘ quotes around the word lukewarmer and rightly so. It is an inane terminology. If someone says there is (within the current state of climate science that for 20+ years has had almost total funding biased toward AGW by CO2 from fossil fuels) a relatively uncertain amount of global warming attributable to fossil fuel CO2, then does it make any sense to call that person a ‘lukewarmer’? I say it is a senseless name for that position. That position, if left unlabeled, is just a state-of-current-science skeptical stance that recognizes the skeptical position has not been fully actualized (due to previous almost total funding bias toward AGW). Is it not expected that when funding is more balanced and broader perspectives on climate are more fully probed that the view of attribution significant will change? NOTE: Call this position ‘A’.

    On the other hand, based only on some kind of a personal preference, if one takes a position using an a priori postulated premise that man is causing some (but not alarming) warming from fossil fuels then that is a pseudo-scientific position that begs for use of confirmation bias. One in that position looks at everything that happens in climate and in papers for supporting their view and does not listen to contrary information; ergo pseudo-science. If the label ‘lukewarmist’ were used in that sense then it is a pseudo-scientific position. NOTE: Call this position ‘B’.

    I ask all self-named ‘lukewarmists’ to please step up to claim which of the above positions they are actually taking.

    I am an ‘A’. So, I am an ’lukewarmist’. : )

    John

    PS – this was also posted at BH’s place.

  108. More Soylent Green! says:

    P.F. says:
    November 2, 2011 at 8:37 am
    Zac says: Nov. 1, 2011 at 6:02 pm “No. Evolution is a theory, Creationism is a belief.”

    No. Evolution is a well-established fact, like planets orbiting around the sun. The process of evolution is where theories abound. Even religion itself provides multiple examples of evolution. For example: one central figure influences a tight band of 12 followers, each with their own take on the ideology and expressed in differing ways once the central figure passes. Then the ideologies of some of those twelve founding members evolve over time into factions and then into strong, established features on the political and cultural landscape. Some go extinct. Whether it be Abraham, Jesus, or Muhammad, all of their ideologies radiated across the land and evolved into things one can argue are similar, but not particularly fully consistent with the original form.

    The issue is macro-evolution. How did species alive today evolve from prior species, and what is the evidence for it?

    We can see evolution in the lab, using things like fruit flies. That’s evolution and that’s a fact. But how did we get from shrew-like early mammals to human beings? There are huge gaps in the fossil record, making macro-evolution extremely difficult to prove.

    The problem is evolution has been politicized. The atheists have and continue to posit that evolution proves there is no God, no creator, a statement that shows as much scientific ignorance as saying the Bible proves the world was created in six days.

  109. Lady in Red says:

    Wow! I teared….

    (Now, if only someone would take on Big Pharma…. if only medical schools taught the history of medicine, doctoring and heretics…. Next year….?)

    Thank you, heretics! ….Lady in Red

  110. pat says:

    Surely someone will stand up for cereology?

  111. oeman50 says:

    I appreciate Mr. Ridley’s discussion on confirmation bias. It is often puzzling to many why scientists would “deliberately” skew results in a particular direction if they are true scientists. There has been a lot of discussion on Mann “cooking the books” and some even harsher language, it makes it seem he was involved in deliberate falsification of results. This bias may be why it is so hard to shake Mssrs. Mann, Rohm and Schmidt, et. al. from their CAGW stance, they are only looking at what confirms what they believe in.

    I’ve had many discussions about science with my peers. Science is not the knowledge gained from its practice, it is a process. It is also not a machine where we toss in data on one side, turn the crank and out pops the correct answer. It is the best way we have to organize our thinking so we don’t do something stupid and it obviously doesn’t always work. But when we find our livelyhood dependent on our own brand of science, it seems easy to slip into a bias that looks blindingly apparent to others.

    Thanks, Matt. Your thoughts have brought clarity to the motivations behind the CAGW movement.

  112. The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley says:

    Pity that this thread has become infected with the total absurdity that is religious belief. I’ll never understand how someone can believe something with absolutely no evidence at all, just a irrational and illogical belief that it is so. Truly bizarre. They must surely fall for every snake-oil salesman that darkens their doorstep.

    Fantastic speech by Mr Ridley, by the way.

  113. Mike M says:

    (Yikes, I meant north not south!)

  114. MattN says:

    Anthony, I recommend this presentation be given a permanant link somehwere on the side fo the home page. This is just too good to let fall to the bottom.

  115. mathman2 says:

    Interpolation: good, reliable, computable, useful.
    Extrapolation: bad, not reliable, not computable, produces nonsense.
    Theories of AGW are extrapolations. Nobel prizes have been lost because of extrapolation (see R. Feynman). Some of the evolutionary theories are extrapolations, and therefore not reliable. Some evolutionary theories (the speciation of Darwin’s finches, the customizing of domestic animals, and so on) are quite reliable.
    Where did the plasticity of the germ cells of domestic animals come from? I see house sparrows outside our window all the time; I cannot tell them apart. Did we domesticate the animals with characteristics which could be manipulated in the first place? How did such creatures evolve prior to our involvement?
    Big Bang, inflation, etc: it has been known since Fritz Zwicky that something is wrong with our gravitational theories. He told us that galaxy clusters should not exist. The whole theory is redolent of ad-hoc solutions. Where is the man or woman who can come forward with a better explanation? Dark matter? Invisible stuff? Non-detectable gravity? Come on.
    How about “I don’t know.” Is that too hard?
    I don’t know what the overall carbon dioxide budget of the Earth is. No one else does either. I don’t know how to predict cloud cover, nor does anyone else. So let’s stop trying to pretend that we can.
    AGW is bogus, pseudoscientific, claptrap.
    Period.

  116. geo says:

    Awesome speech, thanks for sharing.

  117. fredb says:

    The irony of this speech is amazing. If you take the lessons learned that are numbered up front … they equally applicable to both sides of the debate — I, as one who acknowledges AGW, find it as easy to apply to the community who don’t believe is AGW. Its highly amusing (but not, I expect, to many WUWT readers). ;)

  118. Whaaaa! “…alchemy was pseudoscience.”

    Poor Matt has obviously no understanding about alchemy. If he did, he wouldn’t relegate it to the dustbin of history.

    Pseudocience means, literally, something pretending to be science. But alchemy, which was invented thousands of years before Western material science, wouldn’t dream of trying to pretend that it’s science or even want to be associated in the same sentence with it.

    Saying that alchemy is pseudoscience is the same as saying that Homo erectus was pseudo Homo sapiens. The same disdain for such an association, I’m sure, would apply to HE, who would be appalled to be mistaken for someone that was trying to ape (sorry!) such an over-gracialised, dumbed-down creature that disdains from even killing its own meat and who, in his ignorance, blithely trashes the natural world.

    Alchemy is known as the Great Art (not science) because it is far more holistic in its approach to science, in that it takes in far more than science’s small and narrow brief to include Spirit, something science hasn’t historically had the tools to recognise although the quantum theorists are now getting warmer.

    I’m not against science and I can see and appreciate it uses. But the worse thing about science ~ or should I say scientists? ~ is that they so often get above themselves and overextend their briefs so that they end up coming out with claptrap like this.

    It’s a shame because I like Matt Ridley’s research usually … but I think he shouid stick to the subjects that he knows about … of which alchemy obviously isn’t one.

    Signed

    An Alchemist

    PS If you’d like to learn more about the Great Art, and how alchemical processes differ from scientific ones, there’s plenty about it on my blog, including my most recent post: Saturn’s Return and The Prodigal Son. http://ishtarsgate.wordpress.com/2011/10/29/saturns-return-and-the-prodigal-son/

  119. Roger Knights says:

    Steve Garcia says:
    November 2, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Yes. As Churchill said about D-Day, “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it IS perhapsthe end of the beginning.”

    He used the word “perhaps,” and he said it about the victory at El Alemain. (Later on he said, “Before El Alemain we never had a victory. After El Alemain we never had a defeat.”)

  120. Septic Matthew says:

    Dave Springer: I gave up on exposing the former but gained quite an education in the process and none of that education changed my skepticism of the neo-Darwinian narrative. Life and the universe have virtually no hallmarks of random construction but rather carries the hallmarks of design at every scale.

    It depends where and when you look. In every species, almost all of the progeny do not survive to have progeny of their own: they starve, die of thirst, die of infection, die fighting with their brothers, sisters and cousins, die of cold or heat, get eaten, etc. It takes a redefinition of “design” to account for the fact that most progeny are so badly designed that they do not survive. The progeny contain countless unpredictable variations on their progenitors: metabolic rates, locomotion speed, structures of proteins, etc. In every characteristic that has been studied, the progeny are vastly more variable than their progenitors, and vastly outnumber their progenitors. Of those progeny with their vast numbers and great diversity, nature kills almost all of them.

    It’s wonderful to watch a caterpillar spin a cocoon, then to watch the moth emerge and fly away; but most of the eggs never make it to the cocoon stage, some of the pupae die in the cocoons, and many of the moths (most of them, actually), don’t live to have offspring: either they get eaten, starve, don’t find mates, or die of disease.

    It takes, as I wrote, a special definition of “design” to see its hallmarks among so much random variation and death in the progeny.

  121. Sun Spot says:

    @The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley says: November 2, 2011 at 9:57 am

    You see Jim Religion is not science; it falls under the category of the Arts. At this web site we try to force science into not being CAGW religion, there is very little call for making Religion not science (there is that strange thing called creation science, but very few religions take it seriously).
    Now saying religion is “truly bizarre” is like saying Mozart, Beethoven or Pink Floyd are bizarre because you don’t like their music. You use the word “infected” that is the same as using the word “denier” in global warming parlance, your intent is to kick someone’s dog (impart an insult). Don’t fall into the Dawkins/Hitchens trap of being an uncivil and hateful anti-religion bigot.

  122. Steve Garcia says:

    A classic example of confirmation bias is this excerpt from the PBS’ NOVA presentation America’s Stone Age Explorers, which aired November 9, 2004:

    [Narrator] Clovis First was such a powerful story that, for years, few archaeologists looked back beyond 13,500 years ago. But then a few did. Jim Adovasio has spent the past 30 years excavating at Meadowcroft, a prehistoric site near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The deeper he dug, the further back he descended in time.

    JAMES ADOVASIO (Mercyhurst College): On these surfaces that you see before us, we have signs of repeated visits by Native Americans to this site. These discolorations literally represent a moment frozen in time.

    NARRATOR: Each tag marks ancient fire pits that can be carbon dated, creating a cross section of who lived here and when, stretching back 13,500 years.

    JAMES ADOVASIO: Just below the surface I’m standing on is where the conventional Clovis First model says that the earliest material should stop, basically, that there ought not to be anything beneath it, no matter how much deeper we dug.

    NARRATOR: But then, Adovasio did go deeper, below 13,500 years, to a time in the Americas, when no trace of humans should exist, according to the Clovis First theory. He was astounded by what he found.

    JAMES ADOVASIO: The artifacts simply continued, and we recovered blades like this all the way down to 16,000 B.C.

    NARRATOR: When he published his findings, he was immediately attacked.

    JAMES ADOVASIO: The majority of the archaeological community was acutely skeptical, and they invented all kinds of reasons why these dates couldn’t possibly be right.

    NARRATOR: Some claimed that nearby coal deposits had contaminated Adovasio’s samples, but he was known to be a meticulous excavator. Eventually, a few other archaeologists began to report evidence questioning the Clovis First theory, and they too were attacked.

    MICHAEL COLLINS: The best way in the world to get beaten up, professionally, is to claim you have a pre-Clovis site.

    DENNIS STANFORD: When you dig deeper than Clovis, a lot of people do not report it, because they’re worried about the reaction of their colleagues.

    MICHAEL COLLINS: I’ve been accused of planting artifacts. People will reject radiocarbon dates just simply because there’s not supposed to be any people here at those times, and it just goes on and on and on.

    NARRATOR: Even faced with evidence to the contrary, Clovis First supporters refused to accept that people could have arrived in America earlier than 13,500 years ago. For, as they pointed out, although it was possible to walk across the land bridge into present day Alaska, ice sheets blocked entry to the rest of the continent until at least that time. As they put it, “If people were coming to the New World before then, how could they get past the ice?”

    While the Colivs First proponents could envision men running around with spears over a land area of 8 million square miles and finding – much less being able to kill – every single mammoth, sabre-toothed tiger, sloth and camel, they weren’t as amenable to people being here before they envisioned.

    They themselves had worked themselves into a corner in thinking that the ice sheets were impenetrable, and that the people had no other options than to walk. And what THEY decided was impossible allowed them to accept only what they wanted to believe. In a very real sense, the ice age people outwitted the modern-day scientists.

    I would point out that it is common for archeologists to underestimate the intelligence of the peoples of the past, and not just those in the ice age.

    But note how much more difficult they made it for people – and evidence itself – that did not confirm their bias. Accusations of even fraud by their peers and much denial was the way things went for DECADES in that field. And they were proven WRONG, in the end. Clovis First was a terrible black eye on science. Not because it was wrong, but because the confirmation bias stood in the way of knowledge and a better understanding – and the way the treated those who didn’t toe the line.

    CAGW is only one in a line of paradigms that is taught as true and is proven wrong. Those older people here may remember that we were taught in school that Earth’s mountains were formed by the wrinkling of an Earth shrinking as it cooled, like the skin of a drying orange. This was during another era of scientific denial, when Wegener’s moving continents were laughed at. Then there is the idea that the Earth’s meteor craters were all volcanic. It took Gene Shoemaker in the 1970s and 1980s to finally show that craters were from impacts.

    The list goes on and on.

    Are they willfully stupid? No, just doing the CYA necessary in their chosen careers: Don’t rock the boat if you want the next grant or to be included in the next grant.

    While they are right to be skeptical of the next new idea (enough to make it prove itself and stand on its own two feet), the balance of skepticism falls inordinately on new ideas. But not always.

    CAGW is pretty much an exception, in that way. CAGW is the new idea that got a pass. It would make a decent book to show how it was politically connected people who proposed it and got it accepted as the “true science” even though it was new. I think it was given more shrift because the ozone hole claim did, before it. That is one that needs a healthy review.

    The more or less contemporary acid-rain argument didn’t make it past the testing stage. They passed a bill to fund the testing of the acidity of lakes and ponds in the NE USA, and what was found proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that acid rain was not a problem in the slightest: only ONE pond in remote rural western New York state was found to have elevated acid. The idea died then and there.

    I think to this day that the alarmists learned from that to NOT test their hypotheses, at least not in public and not in any meaningful way. It may, indeed, have been their reason for going so much to models, which they could make sure did not stab them in the back.

    Which begs the question:
    Are models tools of confirmation bias?

    You tell me!

  123. Mike says:

    Ditto to what meemoe_uk says. Science is a process. Theories are tested against facts, best done in controlled experiments. Phlogiston was simply a theory that didn’t hold up and was therefore discarded. Was Maxwell a pseudo-scientist because he thought there was an ether?

  124. Gareth Phillips says:

    “At least* sceptics do not cover the hills of Scotland with useless, expensive, duke-subsidising wind turbines whose manufacture causes pollution in Inner Mongolia and which kill rare raptors such as this griffon vulture”.

    Griffon vultures roaming wild in Scotland? Are you sure? Maybe it’s this one.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-11011384

    While I agree with much of this lecture, I live on an island full of wind turbines and I do not see any first hand evidence of the killing of rare raptors. Or does the author mean the production of windmills in Mongolia kill Vultures there? Clarity is crucial when lecturing on scientific accuracy.

  125. kramer says:

    Very good article. That said, who is Matt Ridley? I don’t recall ever hearing or reading anything about this person.

  126. Septic Matthew says:

    Matt Ridley does not provide a definition of “pseudoscience”, and I am skeptical that one exists. Phlogiston theory was not originally “pseudoscience” but was replaced by better science, “caloric theory” and then better science still, chemistry and thermodynamics.

    Eugenics began as science, and so did AGW. If the IPCC and other promoters of AGW have turned into “pseudoscientists” it’s because they credulously ignore or patch over the limitations of their knowledge.

    Matt Ridley’s talk reminds me of the religious admonition: We are all sinners. We don’t always appreciate it, and we for sure do not like when it is pointed out to us by others, but we are all sinners. I expect that we are all “pseudoscientists” about somethings, without the ability to see for ourselves where.

    Back to AGW promoters, and especially back to the promoters of expensive building and wealth transfer schemes, it isn’t a good idea to call them “pseudoscientists” or the knowledge base “pseudoscience”, because there is so much solid knowledge. But it is necessary to highlight biased selection of evidence, false reports, exaggerated claims (e.g. how fast the Earth will warm up and the seas will rise if CO2 is warming the atmosphere), and shortcomings in the knowledge.

  127. DirkH says:

    meemoe_uk says:
    November 2, 2011 at 8:27 am
    “This casual misuse of the word ‘science’ smacks of how AGWer’s use it to rubber stamp all their dogma. And it bugs me in the same way as when I open a student science book, >99% of the contents is study of verified hypotheses. Students ( i.e. most today ) brought up on a diet of such books have little idea of the explorative nature of science. i.e. Every idea they read in their student book is the right idea. ”

    Very important comment, meemoe! Thanks!

  128. munroad says:

    Churchill’s “End of the Beginning” speech related to the victory at El Alamein in 1942, not D day.

  129. UK Marcus says:

    If all the experts are so clever, how come the world is in such a mess?

  130. Robert Christopher says:

    meemoe_uk says on November 2, 2011 at 8:27 am

    “Yes, you seem to be substituting the words ‘science’ for ‘correct’ and ‘pseudoscience’ for ‘discredited’
    ..
    No one else here cares? Not suprised. Since you’re all the My education was rooted in not questioning >99% of the science stuff I was taught, because I was told it was truth sort !”

    Well I do, but I said my bit over at Bishophill last night!

    As Dave Springer points out (Nov 2, 2011 at 7:14 am), about evolution, for “an Oxford don who earned PhD in zoology 25 years ago then immediately abandoned the practice of science to instead become a science jounalist certainly knew what he was doing when he threw out that bit of meat.”

    I agree; so why the distraction? In fact why so many distractions? Most have nothing to do with climate science.

    Matt does not seem to have much grasp of the other topics that he mentioned, many mentioned without any factual discussion to support his claims, and with many illogical comparisons made. Either he doesn’t know what science is or what pseudo means.

    Why do so many think that he has enough standing to make any favourable impression on any listener?

  131. daveburton says:

    Jim Cripwell says: But Matt Ridley still thinks there is a scientific justification for a surface temperature rise of 1.2 C for a doubling of CO2. There is no scientific way to convert a change of radiative forcing to a change of surface temperature…

    Sure there is, at least with “ballpark” accuracy. Fire up MODTRAN, calculate the predicted output for 300 ppm (pre-anthropogenic), 400 ppm (current), and 600 ppm (doubled) CO2 levels. (Leave the other parameters alone.)

    300 ppm -> 288.880 W / m^2
    400 ppm -> 287.561 W / m^2
    600 ppm -> 285.709 W / m^2

    Now, with CO2 = 600 ppm, by trial and error, adjust ground temperature offset upward until output intensity is back up to 288.880 W / m^2. The required temperature rise to balance the additional CO2 is 0.89 C (a bit less than Ridley’s 1.2 C, but certainly “in the ballpark”).

    You can do the same thing at 400 ppm, and get 0.36 C, or (as Ridley noted) nearly half the temperature rise to be expected from doubling CO2 from 300 ppm to 600 ppm.

    I think that’s the “few tenths of a degree” that Lindsen was talking about:

    “Future generations will wonder in bemused amazement that the early twenty-first century’s developed world went into hysterical panic over a globally averaged temperature increase of a few tenths of a degree and, on the basis of gross exaggerations of highly uncertain computer projections combined into implausible chains of inference, proceeded to contemplate a roll back of the industrial age.”
    -Dr. Richard Lindzen (Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology, Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, MIT)

  132. sceptical says:

    Just seemed a rehash of a few of many talking points posted daily around the interweb with an added alarmism about what will happen if pollution is not allowed to continue unfettered. Perhaps someone can point out anything which is the final nail in the AGW coffin.

    REPLY: We’ll also point out when you have a point. Why not leave here? You contribute nothing but negativism. And truly, you aren’t “sceptical” at all, but rather one who is dismissive and closed minded, snarking from that position with cracks like ” Perhaps someone can point out anything which is the final nail in the AGW coffin.”

    How sad for you. – Anthony

  133. Marion says:

    Wow…..like wow!!!
    My awed thanks to Matt Ridley.
    He did his ancestor proud!!

  134. The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley says:

    Sun Spot says:
    November 2, 2011 at 10:33 am

    Wrong, I never said religion is bizarre, I said, “I’ll never understand how someone can believe something with absolutely no evidence at all, just a irrational and illogical belief that it is so.” ‘Religion’ itself is an absurdity.

    And you’re wrong again about religion ‘falling under the arts’! Religion is ALWAYS classed among myths and beliefs – NEVER art.

    And wrong again in grouping religion with music. I can prove Pink Floyd exists. I can prove that there is religious belief, but the believers cannot prove anything about the base of their religion.

    I like Dawkins, but Peter Atkins is my hero. You’ll probably have to Google his name, I suspect.

  135. Joel K says:

    @The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley\

    The biggest thing that makes people question or change beliefs isn’t research, or facts, or experimentation, but experiences. Religious belief and reinforcement comes from subjective experience, not objective and largely arrogant observations by folks such as yourself. Objectively, there is very little proof of the supernatural, especially when you take a wholly naturalistic approach to every subject. One exception being the many double blind studies on the effects of prayer on the sick, those with high blood pressure, seeds, and bacterial cultures.

    However, objective observation is not the only method by which humans gain knowledge. Knowledge is ultimately personal, observations subjective. And it is through subjective experiences that faith is often renewed. Miracles do happen, small and large. And many people, myself included, believe because we have a personal experience with God.

  136. Steve Garcia says:

    @Dave Springer November 2, 2011 at 5:23 am:

    Zac says:
    November 1, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    “Evolution is science; creationism is pseudoscience.”

    >No. Evolution is a theory, Creationism is a belief.

    No. Evolution is a creation myth. Biblical creationism is a creation myth. Neither can be reproduced or falsified. Both are faith-based beliefs. Neither is rational.

    I have two reactions:

    First, if neither one is more than a myth, it is about time we went about finding out what really happened. Matt Ridley would almost certainly point at their work as pseudo-science, but some alternative researchers argue that humans were intentionally genetically modified by aliens. Whether the researchers are correct or not, some of their arguments are worth looking at, if only to reject them afterward. (But scientists to their discredit often do not even look at things before labeling them wrong or frauds.) Yet SOMETHING is the truth about how we came about, and if neither evolution (as it applies to human, especially) nor Genesis is true fact, then research into other possibilities seems reasonable. I lean that way, while noting that the current level of “alternate” research is inadequate. (…which is true for evolution, too – else why are even Creationists able to punch so many holes in it?)

    Second, anyone who reads about the history of science in the 1800s is aware of how much they wanted to distance themselves from religion. It was a VERY fundamentalist era, for one thing. But also, until Agassiz came along with his ice age idea from his study of glaciers in the Jura Alps, they were spinning their wheels. Then he got together with Lyell, who absconded with it as the last piece of his gradualism/uniformitarianism – in a way that the young Agassiz did not agree with, but for career reasons went along with, This was very nearly the exact time when Darwin was still on The Beagle.

    ALL of it was intended to just get them the hell away from the Christian Bible. (Archeology was, in fact, begun by rich religious European Anglo-Saxon males, out to prove the literal truth of the Bible. In not being able to do so, it has become absorbed into the uniformitarian viewpoint, and thus admitted into science as an “-ology”.) Agassiz’ ice age (later to become multiple such ages) was the piéce de resitance, as it had a plausible explanation for the erratic boulders, striated rocks, and ubiquitous evidence of something moving things on a nearly continental scale. They needed this badly, as Noah’s Flood seemed to be supported by the catastrophic evidence all around them. Ever since, science has invested deep, deep roots in this uniformitarian and gradualist foundation.

    The Younger-Dryas Impact event, the dinosaur killer, Gene Shoemaker’s world-wide craters, the Rio Cuarto craters, and the impact of all those Shoemaker-Levy/9 cometary fragments on Jupiter in 1994 – all have given us evidence that perhaps something other than gradualism and uniformitarianism is at work on the planet Earth.

    The odd thing is that their actually ARE accounts of humans about such events as impacts – IN the Holocene. Archeologists have universally put them off as mumbo-jumbo “fear of the gods” stories told around campfires. But anyone who wants to look into it can find tales of what happens when “the stars were falling.” I recommend Ed Grondine’s “Man and impact in the Americas” (self published) as a starting point. After reading it, I am persuaded that something big has hit – recently – and that this is the reason for “end of the world” tales all over the world. And if something like that happened, it implies an abbreviated, interrupted human history. If thinking that makes me a pseudo-scientist, then so be it.

    Today’s “alternative researches” are today’s heretics, as spelled out by Ridley, yet even if what they are doing is labeled “pseudoscience” right now, there might be a gem or two in there somewhere. Some are doing solid works, such as Grondine, and so is Christopher Dunn with his work on ancient Egyptian technology. And what are we to think of that skull that Lloyd Pye is working on, the one with a cranium with the very low density and with the hardness of tooth enamel (not to mention the eyes, and the skull shape which are most often wrongly put off as hydrocephaly)? Most scientissts won’t touch that with a ten-foot pole. But why not? Why don’t they do tests on it (like he is trying to do) and prove it is a normal human with an unfortunate deformity, instead of ignoring it except to call it deformity – without ever having even looked at it? It is unscientific to pass judgment without looking at the evidence. “Knowing” it is a fraud is just like “knowing” there is global warming.

    Some of their work is quite a bit beyond the frontiers of science, as scientists will readily tell you. And their work is held under a much tougher light than, say, CAGW or the ozone hole. I, for one, find their work intriguing.

    Science as a discipline is not just the filling in of the particulars, since – as they tell us all the time – “all the big ideas are now known,” so “Step away, please, there is nothing to see here.” There really are anomalies out there, even if crop circles aren’t part of them. Until science stops sweeping disagreeable phenomena under the carpet, science itself is pseudoscience. And as long as they do that sweeping, someone else has to look under that carpet.

    CAGW has been a bit of that – declaring something to be fact and then a falling back to a lot of name-calling and cherry-picking (which is a form of sweeping disagreeable facts under the carpet) in order to bolster their arguments. If they can’t stand to look at ALL the facts, all the data, and if they can’t stand to have people want to see their data and methodology, how can anyone else accept them as honest brokers of fact and reality?

    It does seem appropriate to think of climate scientists as pseudoscientists, doesn’t it?

  137. Excellent writing. There is a common thread in those who are “religiously” nailed to pseudo stuff. Their brain is as waterproof as the duck back. It is all about their belief. When the mirror tells the truth, there is something wrong with the mirror, not them.

  138. Greg says:

    Great speech by Ridley, followed by a comments section that pretty much reinforces why CAGW skeptics are often easily dismissed as flat-earthers….

  139. mkelly says:

    The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley says:
    November 2, 2011 at 11:31 am
    “I can prove that there is religious belief, but the believers cannot prove anything about the base of their religion.”

    I disagree. Since, I believe in science and its basic laws I must accept that by the First Law of Thermodymanics matter/energy can neither be created nor destroyed. As this is so and I accept this then it follows that the universe was created by ….. I’ll calll him God for the lack of a better term.

  140. daveburton says:

    Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley, I think you’re suffering from the “all I have is a hammer” syndrome: If all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail. You’ll do just fine when you encounter real nails, but not as well when you encounter wood screws, and very poorly indeed when you encounter tubes of glue.

    Science is a tool. More specifically, it is the application of the Scientific Method to discover knowledge about the physical world.

    Now the Scientific Method is a very excellent tool, but if it is the only tool in your toolbox, then you have a poorly equipped toolbox. The Method works very well for answering many kinds of questions, but not all kinds.

    For example, consider trying to apply the Scientific Method to questions of beauty, such as “why is the sunset so beautiful?” or “why is there so much completely unnecessary beauty in the world?” It is like trying to unscrew a bolt with a hammer: you might knock it around a bit, but you’re unlikely to make much progress, because you’re using the wrong tool. That’s not what the Scientific Method is suited for.

    How can you use the Scientific Method to answer a question like this one: “How did my consciousness come to reside in this particular body?” You can’t use the Method to answer questions like that, because it’s the wrong tool for the job.

    Some people who have only one tool in their toolbox deny the very existence of problems for which their tool is not a good fit. They tend to get annoyed if you even ask such questions. That is irrational. There’s nothing wrong with those questions, it is only that they are unsuitable for the application of only tool those people have.

    It is irrational to demand that the Scientific Method answer questions for which it is unsuited, just as it is irrational to demand that a person disbelieve things which he has learned by other means, such as his personal experiences, including one-time (irreproducible) experiences. For example, if you demand that a person who has traversed the Damascas Road deny the reality of Christ, he’s likely to laugh at you, because it is you who are being irrational, not him.

  141. The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley says:

    Joel K says:
    November 2, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Joel, I stand by my original statements – belief in something, anything, with no evidence whatsoever (indeed, much contrary evidence) is an absurd nonsense that is both irrational and illogical. You may call that (or me) arrogant if you wish, but it is so! Nothing you have written or could write could possibly change that truth.

    Further, there is NO ‘proof’ of the supernatural – little or not.

    And further, there are no proven documented cases of miracles EVER happening, small or large. Miracles cannot happen. If something happens it cannot be a miracle (look up the definition of the word).

    The ‘personal experience’ anyone has with their god is akin to the personal experience of thought and dreams. All in the mind, not reality. The mind is very powerful. One’s mind can make one ill, seriously ill. And every day we witness that very practice at work – especially on Sundays.

  142. coaldust says:

    P.F. says:
    November 2, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Zac says: Nov. 1, 2011 at 6:02 pm “No. Evolution is a theory, Creationism is a belief.”

    No. Evolution is a well-established fact, like planets orbiting around the sun.

    By science I assume you mean “natural science”. Science ignores the possibility of the supernatural, because it must. If you include the possibility of the supernatural in science, how can you know if some phenomenon occurs naturally or is caused by a supernatural influence? You cannot. Thus, the supernatural must be assumed to not exist. From there you can study the natural universe and come to conclusions concerning the natural universe. However, you cannot conclude anything about the possibility of supernatural influences, because to do so is circular reasoning (after assuming the supernatural does not exist you cannot make observations and use logic to conclude it does not exist). Thus, the natural sciences can only say: “If the earth and life arose naturally, it was by evolution”, and cannot say that they did not arise by creation. To do so would be outside the category “natural sciences”.

    This means that the “theory” called “intelligent design” is not a theory of the natural sciences, and rightly belongs in the pseudoscience category.

    It also means the evolution is NOT a fact, but is a theory of the natural sciences.

  143. The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley says:

    daveburton says:
    November 2, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Dave, you skirt around one very simple fact that I appear to have to repeat ad nauseum; Belief in something for which you have no proof whatsoever, and indeed runs contray to evidence available… is irrational and totally illogical. I can believe that Father Christmas is real, I can believe that very strongly – in all its absurdity. Why can you not see that my belief has as much credibility and validity as believing that there is a supernatural god, that his son came to Earth, etc. etc. There is no difference at all. If you think my belief in Father Christmas is silly, well…

  144. Edward McCann says:

    Being a physicist and a beliver in the God of the Bible I fancy the expanation given here:http://yadayahweh.com/Yada_Yahweh_Genesis_Hayah.YHWH

    It shows through relativity that creation happened in 6 days in Gods perspective but 15 billion years or so in earth’s perspecvtive. So maybe both are correct.

  145. squareheaded says:

    How do you tell the difference between science and pseudoscience?

    So, in a sense by definition, is religious faith. It [pseudoscience] explicitly claims that there are truths that can be found by other means than observation and experiment.

    Science does too.

    All science, like all mathematics, starts with some set of assumptions or axioms, which can be called a belief system, or “faith” in many people’s vernacular. Some people erroneously call all such assumptions “truth”. A scientist believes certain things to be true, and he sets them out for all to consider and reference while he constructs arguments and generates conclusions about them.

    The assumptions may or may not be true, but we can agree that his conclusions are correct or not even while we ignore the veracity of the assumptions.

    Science products are generally considered acceptable when the assumptions upon which they are built are widely found to be close to experience, and when the products themselves are found to be valuable or useful.

    Science and pseudoscience are not distinguished by the absence and presence of belief systems, or faith. Calling one “religious” faith and the other not is misleading by connotation, and adds nothing to the statement. The distinguishing characteristics are whether or not their respective assumptions are based on widely encountered or reproducible experience, and whether or not the conclusions drawn have any resemblance to reality.

    Truth, by definition, exists apriori to the physical universe. You might say that it is the set of axioms for mathematics and assumptions in science that is the correct one in all situations and at all times. Either that, or truth does not exist.

    Facts, on the other hand, are accurate recordings of observations made about the physical universe. At best, facts boost or tear down one’s confidence in his axioms or assumptions. They do not lead you to truth. All the facts in the world do not prove a single iota of truth, any more than they prove an axiom.

    Pseudoscience is simply misrepresentation. Its assumptions and conclusions are not based in reality or observable fact. It is fraudulant, and usually crafted in such a way as to appropriate other people’s property or freedom.

    Asserting that science finds “truth” is a misrepresentation of what science is. The assertion is a “pseudoscientific” statement itself. And the assertion ludicrously suggests that science is itself prophetical at best or God at worst.

    With that said, it seems obvious that experience is no guarantee for truth, if truth exists.

  146. The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley says:

    mkelly says:
    November 2, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    If you do indeed believe in science, then you’ll already know that positive and negative energy are equal throughout the Universe – the Universe is nothing!

    But you cannot prove anything about the ‘base’ of your religion – that there IS a god.

  147. The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley says:

    Edward McCann says:
    November 2, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Then we have descended into Alice in Wonderland – words can mean whatever we want them to mean.

  148. Edward McCann says:

    May not be Alice in Wonderland. Below is taken from the referenced site http://yadayahweh.com/Yada_Yahweh_Genesis_Hayah.YHWH

    There are three timelines and three simultaneous narratives embedded in Bare’shiyth / Genesis one, but the brush strokes are much broader, bolder, and more complex. As is His custom, Yahuweh chooses His colors for a reason and shades each word with great precision. So we will honor the universal artist by examining His selections under the microscope of Hebrew lexicons and amplification. As is the format of these volumes, I will share the insights His Scripture and Spirit have revealed, connecting this painting to others the Master has drawn. If nothing else, my commentary will slow you down, causing you to reflect on the majesty of our Maker’s world and Word.

    However, be forewarned: this chapter on “Existence” requires an additional layer of complexity in the midst of what is already an extremely challenging interwoven Scriptural tapestry. To comprehend the creative side of Yahuweh’s testimony, you will have to understand aspects of the theory of relativity, some physics, astronomy, biology, and evolution, as well as have some familiarity with the fossil record, statistical analysis, the concept of space-time, and the nature of light. I will do my best to provide the necessary insights for the uninitiated while not boring scientists or overwhelming those who have a limited interest in these discoveries. But no matter where you reside on the spectrum of contemporary scientific awareness, I beg your indulgence. What lies before you is challenging.

    Before we begin, there is some good news. Yahuweh is correct. From His perspective it took precisely six twenty-four hour days to create the universe, our planet, life, and man. And scientists are right. Looking back from our perspective, the universe is somewhere between 10 and 20 billion years old. Yahweh is correct in that plants and animals reproduced after their kind and evolutionists are accurate in saying that some species have evolved. Yahweh not only agrees with the concept of the Big Bang, He was the first to use the term. God even uses scientific jargon in his presentation of dinosaurs, and in this regard His testimony is in complete harmony with the fossil record. Therefore, this scientific review of Bare’shiyth isn’t going to pit Creationism against Big Bang and Evolution, but instead demonstrate that they agree, right down to the details–at least where the facts are known and science is rational. The controversy only rages between the advocates of religion and secular humanists. God’s accounting and the facts are not in conflict, nor is Genesis contrary to valid science.

  149. Stephen Richards says:

    Ishtar Babilu Dingir says:

    November 2, 2011 at 10:26 am

    PS If you’d like to learn more about the Great Art

    There you qo Ishtar Art

  150. Mike Jonas says:

    Julian Braggins – Done. Either way [ie. if he's right or if he's wrong], it’s sad. IMHO being that abrasive and aggressively convinced of the perfectness of your own view is a lousy way to make a case.

  151. Stephen Richards says:

    The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley says:

    November 2, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Wrong !!

  152. squareheaded says:

    Edward McCann says:
    November 2, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Being a physicist and a beliver in the God of the Bible I fancy the expanation given here

    Edward,

    Since you are a “believer in the God of the Bible”, why don’t you just read the book yourself? I’m sure you are capable since you read all those physics books. There is nothing Scriptural about “six days of creation”. Read along here, if you want. You’ll never have to apologize again.

    You don’t need a commentary to enjoy God’s word.

  153. PeterB in Indianapolis says:

    pat says:
    November 2, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Surely someone will stand up for cereology?

    If that means the science that shows that if you eat crunchy sweet flakes with half a cup of skim milk in the morning you will be better off than if you skip breakfast, then yes, I will stand up for that.

    (Yes it was sort of OT, but I had to inject some more humor)

  154. sceptical says:

    Anthony, not sure were you believe I was being negative. All of the points brought up in the above article have been covered numerous times on numerous websites. It is the same talking points repeated over and over again. Nothing negative about this. Just stating it the way I see it. I come here because numerous people in other discussions reference your site. To know what they are talking about I follow links offered. I try to offer articles like the above an open mind, but when the same tired refrains of climategate and the malfeasance of climate scientists are the basis of the article, it is difficult to understand what is left to be open about. I should have known better than to think anything of use would have come from the link.

    REPLY: yeah sure, whatever. FAIL – Anthony

  155. Kent Draper says:

    From a friend on the other side of the Butte’s, “THAT” was a great read. I would like to meet this
    Matt Ridley :)

  156. John says:

    To Garreth Phillips (10:44):

    The video of the Griffon Vulture being killed was from Crete or Cyprus, from memory. I don’t think he was saying Griffon Vultures were killed in Scotland; rather, he was saying that wind turbines everywhere tend to kill large raptors like Griffon Vultures. A large wind farm in California typically kills tens of Golden Eagles every year, for instance.

  157. Dave Springer says:

    “For background on this prestigious lecture, here is the lecture web page, and here is what RSA is all about and the history since 1754.”

    You’ve got to be kidding. There isn’t even a wikipedia entry for this “prestigious” lecture and no references to it on the internet prior to 2006 which appears to be its first year. The Royal Society of Arts established in 1754? Big deal. My ancestors arrived in America on English ships 100 years before that. I stayed at a friend’s house outside London that was 100 years older, got drunk in a pub down the road that was 200 years older, and the still serviceable cobblestone road connecting the two was built by the Roman Legion in 1000AD. They just don’t make roads like that anymore! 1754 in the UK is like 1954 is to Californians – recent history.

    I also have an instinctive aversion for overstuffed Oxford dons with zoology degrees who haven’t done a lick of ground-breaking science since graduating and instead just flap their lips about it to the public (cough cough Richard Dawkins cough cough) like they’re experts by divine right. Spare me.

    That’s not to say Ridley doesn’t wrap up the myriad problems with anthropogenic global warming in a nice 20 minute lecture but not a shred of it is new and it’s not like he delivered the lecture to a joint session of congress or it was aired on CNN. I’d be more impressed and he’d reach more audience if he got 10 minutes on the The Daily Show with it. Fat chance of that, The Daily Show guests are people who actually have some public recognition.

  158. 3x2 says:

    Handing the reins of power to pseudoscience has an unhappy history.

    I don’t think we need much in the way of history. The carbon scam and the current economic collapse both adequately demonstrate the folly of basing decisions on unverified theory backed by models while dismissing actual measurement.

    The theory just has to be flexible enough that, right up until you hit the freight train, that light at the end of the tunnel was the destination.

  159. Andrew says:

    AMSU is showing massive drops in temps would not be surprised to see November in great negative anomaly AGW is finished

  160. Lars P. says:

    Brilliant! Very condensed but still long enough to give arguments and present a clear view of what the majority of CAGW-skeptics want to say.
    Thank you Matt for the speech and for the courage of saying it!!

  161. Olen says:

    Well put and the mention of lavish funding topped it off.

    Is alchemy a pseudoscience?

    As far as I know chemistry developed out of alchemy and it is very likely that many of present day science developed from what could now be called pseudoscience.

    It is easy to look back on the work of people who had no established field of knowledge as a foundation, who were not getting modern day results and often wrong, to relegate them to something less than legitimate. But there must be consideration given to where we would be now if the people then had no interest in how things worked and made no effort. And many did it in spite of confirmation bias.

    One more thing, when has evolution ever been proven beyond a doubt that it can be called science?

  162. Zac says:

    Science, physics, call it what you want is actually the study of creation by humans who are trying to make sense of what IS.
    Even the most atheist scientist talks about the creation of the Universe.
    It is a shame that Mr Ridley makes his case by putting down those who believe in creation as fruit loops. I’ve been there and have the T shirt but it was never a sound argument.

  163. mkelly says:

    The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley says:
    November 2, 2011 at 12:29 pm
    mkelly says:
    November 2, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    But you cannot prove anything about the ‘base’ of your religion – that there IS a god.

    I guess you did not understand I said I will call him God. The face the universe exists is proof.

  164. Dave Springer says:

    Ridley’s greatest claim to fame appears to be his position as chairman of the board on the first bank in England to need a bailout (2007) after the economic crisis began. He inherited the chairman role in 1994 from his father who was chairman from 1983 to 1994. I wonder how that’s worded on his CV?

    I swear inbreeding, inheritance, royalty, and divine right is a serious, ongoing, growing problem in my ancestral homeland. Sure glad mine bailed out centuries ago and started mixing it up a bit in the New World gene pool. The antics of the ruling class over there is downright embarrassing these days.

    At any rate, I wouldn’t trumpet this guy’s opinion as having any great measure of respect, credibility, or recognition in the world at large. It’s a darn well stated opinion as far as CAGW goes and given Ridley’s experience in science is all about science journalism it’s not surprising that it’s well written. Regardless he isn’t exactly a good name to be dropping.

  165. Stirling English says:

    @the ghost of big jim cooley

    ‘I like Dawkins, but Peter Atkins is my hero. You’ll probably have to Google his name, I suspect.’

    I still have occasional nightmares of being taught by him 35 years ago. Far and away the brightest guy I have ever met. Awesome intellect.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Atkins

  166. Dave Springer says:

    Zac says:
    November 2, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    “Science, physics, call it what you want is actually the study of creation by humans who are trying to make sense of what IS.
    Even the most atheist scientist talks about the creation of the Universe.
    It is a shame that Mr Ridley makes his case by putting down those who believe in creation as fruit loops. I’ve been there and have the T shirt but it was never a sound argument.”

    I hear ya. Matt Ridley and Richard Dawkins are pals. I’m a bit averse to guilt by association but in this case I’ll make an exception – a man can and should be judged by the company he keeps.

  167. More Soylent Green! says:

    The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley says:
    November 2, 2011 at 12:33 pm
    Edward McCann says:
    November 2, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Then we have descended into Alice in Wonderland – words can mean whatever we want them to mean.

    I never know who is more ignorant — but I think atheists win hands down when arrogance is used as a tie-breaker. The Bible was written by man. The Old Testament stories were handed down orally from generation to generation before being written down. Do you think nomads wandering the desert thousands of years ago could understand cosmology?

    Once you get over the condescending attitude towards others, you may learn something, like the difference between faith and science.

  168. Menns says:

    What a perfect way to sum up my thoughts on global warming.

    I will keep the pdf as a followup to any discussion with AGW believers.

  169. Latimer Alder says:

    @more soylent green

    Do you think nomads wandering the desert thousands of years ago could understand cosmology?

    Nope. Not in the sense we understand it today. But they had plenty of time to come up with stories around the campfire that tried to explain why they were there. And these stories – and a lot of other ones – became the religious texts that we have today.

    The bafflng bit IMO is why so many deluded individuals treat them as something more than they are. Like the word of a god or something daft like that. They are man-made stories and a bit of history and a large chunk of wishful thinking. No more, no less. Interesting …like the Greek myths are interesting or Icelandic sagas, but not ‘divinely inspired’.

  170. Dave Springer says:

    pat says:
    November 2, 2011 at 9:55 am

    “Surely someone will stand up for cereology?”

    Ask and ye shall receive.

    Thousands and thousands of crop circles were reported in Southern England beginning in 1970. Yet this went on for 30 years before the first person was caught and arrested for it. That makes little sense given the scope and small area. Farm communities aren’t like that. Everyone knows everyone else and pranksters damaging crops wouldn’t stay anonymous for long. Outsiders would get spotted right away because everyone knows everyone else’s car, especially the local law enforcement. Insiders would get found out because they’d blab about it.

  171. Ralph says:

    .
    >>Surely someone will stand up for cereology?

    The best joke I saw about Cereology, was a cartoon with two aliens standing in a muddle field, saying: “Damn, its winter, we’ll have to go home again….”

    And regards the Cereologist believers discounting all the adverse evidence, well sorry, but I have seen otherwise intelligent and rational religious believers do exactly the same. And being an avid reader of these texts (from a historical context), I can quote chapter and verse to prove that what they have said is entirely wrong. But even with the ‘Good Book’ in front of them, with the contrary verses exposed in black and white, they will merely dismiss the evidence and carry on with their self-manufactured belief system. Honestly, I dispair somethimes that mankind will ever enter the rational world.

    As they say in one of the more esoteric societies: “There are none so blind as those who WILL not see”.

    .

  172. Dave Springer says:

    More Soylent Green! says:
    November 2, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    “Do you think nomads wandering the desert thousands of years ago could understand cosmology?”

    I’ve wandered in the desert for thousands of minutes. At night you don’t have much else to think about except for the heavens above which are one helluva glorious display in the desert night commanding one’s attention. The same people built the pyramids in Egypt and that’s quite a feat in engineering that no one’s sure they could duplicate even today, and the Mesoamericans had astronomical calanders accurate thousands of years into the future, so, yeah, they probably figured out more cosmology than most of us would put to their credit.

  173. More Soylent Green! says:

    Latimer Alder says:
    November 2, 2011 at 2:22 pm
    @more soylent green

    Do you think nomads wandering the desert thousands of years ago could understand cosmology?

    Nope. Not in the sense we understand it today. But they had plenty of time to come up with stories around the campfire that tried to explain why they were there. And these stories – and a lot of other ones – became the religious texts that we have today.

    The bafflng bit IMO is why so many deluded individuals treat them as something more than they are. Like the word of a god or something daft like that. They are man-made stories and a bit of history and a large chunk of wishful thinking. No more, no less. Interesting …like the Greek myths are interesting or Icelandic sagas, but not ‘divinely inspired’.

    Inspiration is where you find it. But likewise, i too, don’t understand those who insist on an absolute, literal reading of their religious texts. Too bad we don’t have an education system in this country that teaches the difference between science and faith, and respect for the religious beliefs of others.

  174. Ralph says:

    .
    >> Dave Springer
    >> Farm communities aren’t like that. Everyone knows everyone else
    >> and pranksters damaging crops wouldn’t stay anonymous for long.

    Most farmers charge an entry fee to see the circles, and the entire genre has become quite an industry in the South West ( while claiming on the insurance for crop damage). In fact, mysticism, ley-lines, stone circles, crop circles and other esoterica are among the bigger cash generators in an otherwise impoverished area.

    Like the AGW fraud, you only need to follow the money to see the truth.

    .

  175. A superb presentation. If site visitors have not read his book, “The Rational Optimist,” check it out. Ridley makes a strong argument for the pivotal role of trade and specialization in human development. It bears on today’s issues: free trade, big government, climate, etc. A great read.

  176. Dave Springer says:

    Latimer Alder says:
    November 2, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    “but not ‘divinely inspired’.”

    You cannot categorically state that as a fact. That’s your opinion. Unless God told you something different and you can prove it… LOL

  177. Dave Springer says:

    Ralph says:
    November 2, 2011 at 2:39 pm
    .
    >> Dave Springer
    >> Farm communities aren’t like that. Everyone knows everyone else
    >> and pranksters damaging crops wouldn’t stay anonymous for long.

    >Most farmers charge an entry fee to see the circles, and the entire genre has become quite >an industry in the South West ( while claiming on the insurance for crop damage). In fact, >mysticism, ley-lines, stone circles, crop circles and other esoterica are among the bigger cash >generators in an otherwise impoverished area.

    LOL. I wasn’t aware of that.

    In my own defense I said I’d step up to defend cereology. I didn’t say it would be a winning defense. Maybe the aliens are getting a cut of the profits. That’s following the money too, isn’t it?

  178. Theo Goodwin says:

    Michael Palmer says:
    November 1, 2011 at 6:14 pm
    polistra says:
    November 1, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    “[Ridley] also doesn’t seem to grasp how totally corrupt peer review is in ALL branches of science. … ”

    “From my experience in biochemistry, I would say that peer review IS sometimes very poorly done, but to declare it corrupt is too sweeping. I get about 50% careful and reasonably fair reviews, 25% superficial ones, and the rest pretty much nonsense, such as dismissive one liners without any substantive, specific criticism.”

    In my experience, the editor will toss the 50% that are not careful and reasonably fair after making a note to himself that the reviewers are not serious about reviewing.

    If you peruse a serious academic journal you will be hard pressed to find evidence of corruption. Journals such as Science, Nature, and similar items are in danger of losing their claim to be serious academic journals.

  179. Theo Goodwin says:

    Mr. Ridley’s speech is addressed to ordinary citizens and it is remarkably clear and comprehensive. He has performed an important service for science.

  180. Jan Janssens says:

    I thought this was a really poor introduction.

    With “poor” I mean that this intro might as well have been used by an IPCC alarmist to debunk the climate sceptics points of view.

    It’s really not doing justice to the rest of the speech.

  181. Ulrich Elkmann says:

    Re: “Phlogiston”: the comments are correct – it was a tenable hypothesis for its time, explaining some features of combustion. And therefore it was definitely testable and falsifiable. So, one bad example. What if Matt Ridley had chosen the four classical humors – bile, gall, etc. – or the three elements? Those of Paracelsus (sulfur, sal, mercurius), please; not the four classical elements – fire, water, air and earth; in the latter case someone will inevitably show up to claim that these are just analogues for the states of matter – solid, liquid, gaseous & plasma.

  182. R Barker says:

    Very well said, Dr Ridley. Very well said! That is the clearest, most compelling case for ending the mitigation folly that I have seen. Even the politicians should be able to comprehend it..

  183. Wil says:

    Check this out please Anthony – A scathing new expose on the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change — which sets the world’s agenda when it comes to the current state of the climate — claims that its reports have often been written by graduate students with little or no experience in their field of study and whose efforts normally might be barely enough to satisfy grad school requirements.

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/11/02/un-hired-grad-students-to-author-major-climate-reports/#ixzz1cabzZWsV

  184. Thanks Dave Springer for a voice of sanity here.

    I would dearly love to have been able to say I enjoyed Matt Ridley but it was spoiled by two things.

    First, the completely unnecessary “debunking” introduction, talking about things about which I realize Matt Ridley has not enough knowledge of, to do anything much more than show his low level of knowledge. Or rather, he only has the “consensus” side of the story, and a quite primitive version of even that. I cannot begin to answer him here, neither would this be the right place.

    Second, the omission of a fact about Matt Ridley which will come to mind to most people here in the UK, far quicker than anything else: his highly questionable record over Northern Rock. I would regard his record in this respect as far more suspect than that of Rossi.

    Sorry to put a spanner in the works at this point, but I think you need to tread a lot more carefully here. You know I care about mending the corruption of science we all know exists.

  185. Bill Parsons says:

    No offense to any, nor aspersions upon this lecture, but … what the Devil is RSA? What do they do? (And yes, I did watch the video.)

  186. Michael Larkin says:

    I’m with Ridley on what he says about global warming alarmism. Regarding his other examples of pseudo-science, particularly in the evolution debate, not so much. Sure, I think evolution has happened over geological periods of time, but does Neodarwinism explain it adequately? I remain unconvinced. This isn’t the place to say why or discuss any alternative I might have in mind; I only want to point out that I know from discussions on an appropriate forum that as soon as you say you doubt Neodarwinism, you get lumped in with the creationists. Likewise, if you say you doubt climate orthodoxy, you get lumped in with those who deny even that some global warming has occurred.

    Just as most climate sceptics aren’t denying the warming, not all sceptics of Neodarwinism are denying evolution. However, it’s damn near impossible to have a rational debate about either. This is why I think Matt Ridley was wrong to give initial examples of what he considers pseudo-science. He did it, I suspect, to boost his street cred with the audience prior to his lambasting of climate orthodoxy; but inadvertently, he displayed his own prejudices, exposing himself to the charge of hypocrisy, as well as risking alienation of those who might otherwise be predisposed to give him a fair hearing.

    I think that in contentious areas of science, one needs to remain within the ambit of a particular topic. We have far too much of the logic that, because I consider person X to be wrong about topic A (thinking you, like me, will agree with that), then X must also be wrong about topic B (though you disagree with me about that). It’s another form of an appeal to supposed authority or consensus.

    So – am I saying that one can’t draw analogies? Not at all. But one should choose them with care, and be really sure that they are known to hold water. My favourite is heliocentrism. Ptolemaic astronomy, predicated on geocentrism, had to explain apparent retrograde planetary motion by postulating epicycles. Epicycles make perfect sense if in fact the earth is the centre of the solar system, and at the time of Copernicus and later Galileo, the Ptolemaic system gave the more accurate results. It wasn’t until 1838, when Bessel was the first to measure the stellar parallax of a star, 61 Cygni, that there was hard evidence that the earth went around the sun.

    Some were convinced of it earlier, because it provided a simpler and more intellectually satisfying explanation for apparent retrograde planetary motion, and was consistent with many other astronomical observations, such as Galileo’s, that Jupiter’s moons revolved around it. Heliocentrism was in line with Ockham’s principle that simplest is probably best.

    If a postulate has worth, then its explanatory power is wide-ranging; many observations are consistent with it; it allows predictions to be made that can be tested, albeit not necessarily immediately; and it does not need to be adjusted by ad-hoc “epicycles”.

    Look at orthodox climate science. Is there a single, simple explanation for global warming – one that covers many observations? Has that enabled predictions to be made, and have those predictions been verified? Has it ever been amended in an “epicyclic” fashion, thus preserving the central idea that anthropogenic CO2 is its prime cause? I think I know the answers to these questions, and think that delivering a talk based on the geocentrism/heliocentrism debate (neglecting the involvement of the Church, there was in fact such a debate), would tread on less toes because there truly is widespread acceptance of the validity of heliocentrism.

  187. Conradg says:

    Astrology isn’t pseudoscience, because it doesn’t pretend to be a science at all, for the most part.

    The theory that someone other than Shakespeare wrote those plays, Oxford or otherwise, is not pseudoscience. It’s an unproven hypothesis with insufficient evidence to be declared either true or false, like many historical conjectures. Most of its supporters use actual evidence to plead the case. That is how science works. One weighs all the pros and cons, knowing that any hypothesis will have both supporters and detractors. When there is no clear convincing proof on either side, controversies tend to rage unabated. And while the Oxford theory is certainly not proven, neither is the Stratford theory.

    Same applies to the conspiracy stories around the JFK assassination. There is plenty of evidence supporting conspiracy theories, including the scientific finding based on acoustical research of the recorded police phone calls of the gunshots, which came to the conclusion that there was more than one gunman involved. That doesn’t tell us what the conspiracy was, but it does tell us that there was very likely a conspiracy of some kind.

    In general, the author’s reasoning about “pseudoscience” is itself a form of pseudo-science. He ascribes the term to whole categories of controversial topics, rather than to a specific way of thinking about those topics. There certainly are pseudo-scientific forms of thing that such people employ in the attempt to prove their ideas true, but that doesn’t make the topic itself a category of pseudo-science.

    In the same vein, climate research is not pseudo-science, but there are people on all sides of the controversy who employ forms of pseudo-scientific thinking. It’s the false cognitive processes that need to be called out, not whole categories of subject matter. I have no particular opinion about ETs, for example, but I don’t consider the topic to be pseudo-scientific, even though many people on both sides use pseudo-scientific arguments for and against the notion.

  188. Conradg says:

    Also, alchemy was not pseudo-science, it was pre-science. Big difference. It wasn’t pretending to be science, because no such thing existed at the time. In fact, the science of chemistry evolved out of alchemy, not from some entirely different source. Alchemists were working from a mindset that was not yet scientific, but mixed with philosophy and religion, but out of that the principles of chemistry slowly emerged. The same is true of most of the natural sciences.

  189. Richard S Courtney says:

    Friends:

    Following my request that the creationists be ignored, the atheists joined in to promote their religion. The contributions of those two irrational groups combined and this thread became swamped with their nonsense.

    But, in between that steaming ordure, one isssue did arise; viz. the difference between science and pseudoscience.

    Science formulates ideas that explain observations of reality then attempts to disprove each of those ideas by finding evidence and/or argument that shows it to be wrong. Any argument or empirical evidence that disproves an idea requires amendment or rejection that idea. Thus, science works towards the closest available approximation to ‘truth’ by finding the ideas that cannot be proven to be wrong.

    Pseudoscience accepts an idea as being a ‘truth’ then attempts to find ‘evidence’ which proves the idea to be right while ignoring anything which proves it to be wrong.

    Much work that predated modern science was pseudoscience (e.g. alchemy) but that was inevtiable before modern science existed.

    Richard

  190. Laurence Crossen says:

    It is generally agreed that about 4% of the increase in CO2 is anthropogenic. Then even if we grant that all the 0.6 degrees warming of the twentieth century was caused by CO2, only 0.024 degrees was anthropogenic. This would be maximum sensitivity.

  191. sdcougar says:

    Two key quotes to remember for our warminst friends:
    “For, apart from the hockey stick, there is no evidence that climate is changing dangerously or faster than in the past, when it changed naturally.”

    And re: IPCC errors: “It is beyond coincidence that all these errors should be in the same direction.”

  192. Michael Larkin says:

    Richard S Courtney says:
    November 2, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    “Science formulates ideas that explain observations of reality then attempts to disprove each of those ideas by finding evidence and/or argument that shows it to be wrong.”

    Well, yes and no. Almost exclusively, that applies for observations that anyone can, in the correct circumstances, make. As for observations that it is only possible for one person at a time to make, providing again that the circumstances are suitable, science doesn’t like to deal with those so much. I have had certain experiences that I have had, and they have repeated themselves, which I have not been able to falsify. As far as I am concerned, my best hypothesis is that they are real; and other people have also said they have had the same experiences.

    Does this mean that my experience is pure imagination? If so, why not reject as unscientific certain things such as atypical pains associated with certain illnesses? As a for instance, my mother had atypical angina symptoms. At least one medic denied she had angina, though not long after, she died of a heart attack.

    Sometimes, what is scientific is whatever the orthodoxy currently chooses to accept as scientific. Scientists may like to think they are open-minded, but quite frequently they are not. There are numerous examples of close-mindedness leading to delays in human progress. No one is saying scientists should be gullible, but by the same token, they shouldn’t be bigoted.

  193. TravisB says:

    I couldn’t make it past his derision towards the idea that “9/11 was an inside job”. To me that is just asinine and indicative of someone who thinks they know so much they need not look at the evidence.

    A building collapsing symetrically at absolute free-fall, for eight stories, this is PROVEN FACT, is not pseudo-science.

    Wishing or willing such facts “away” however, is.

    Too bad he lost me so early in….whatever it is he had to say. I normally gain a lot of insight from articles published on this site.

  194. Sirius says:

    Excellent! From start (beautiful one) to the end …
    Socrate : “Je sais seulement une chose certainement, c’est que suis ignorant.!”

  195. Sirius says:

    Erratum.
    Socrate: “Je sais seulement une chose certainement, c’est que je suis ignorant!”

  196. TrueNorthist says:

    Thanks for posting the “illustrated” version! Duly linked.

    Cheers!

  197. Mr Lynn says:

    Michael Larkin says:
    November 2, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    . . . I think Matt Ridley was wrong to give initial examples of what he considers pseudo-science. He did it, I suspect, to boost his street cred with the audience prior to his lambasting of climate orthodoxy; but inadvertently, he displayed his own prejudices, exposing himself to the charge of hypocrisy, as well as risking alienation of those who might otherwise be predisposed to give him a fair hearing. . . ”

    Exactly right. When I said (earlier) that “Matt Ridley’s lecture has some flaws, particularly his rather sloppily-drawn distinctions between ‘science’ and ‘pseudoscience’,” I was trying to dance around the problem that Michael Larkin (and others previously) has nailed, because I did not want to diminish what otherwise is a very apt ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ for a lay audience of a journey from CAGW credulity to rational skepticism.

    In point of fact Mr. Ridley’s examples make hash of the history of science, and his concepts of ‘science’ versus ‘pseudoscience’ are not really applicable to the debate between Alarmists and Climate Realists, except as epithets to fling at one another. But that aside, it’s still a fine education for folks who are not adamantly opposed to any hint of enviro-heresy, and ought to be circulated far and wide for that reason.

    /Mr Lynn

  198. Mr Lynn says:

    Steve Garcia says:
    November 2, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Great post on the nature and history of confirmation bias, and the rather peculiar twist it has taken with the CAGW Alarmists—an orthodoxy established on little more than a speculation, because it fit in nicely with a lot of establishment political agendas.

    /Mr Lynn

  199. Sun Spot says:

    @Richard S Courtney says: November 2, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Richard I agree.
    I do not understand why religion and anti-religion have to be dragged kicking and screaming into questions of science. The militant anti-religion atheists have to get in their ad-hominem digs and the militant religious faction has to drag in creationism etc. When Matt Ridley took shots at religion in his presentation he reduced its effectiveness, he could have taken the high road and stuck to science. I can overlook the cheap shots at religion in his presentation, overall it was great.

    I would be very interested to hear Richard Dawkins take on CAGW ( I’m not an atheist but I don’t think it matters).

  200. Mr Lynn says:

    Dave Springer says:
    November 2, 2011 at 7:14 am

    [Matt Ridley's] major plot element was the difference between science and pseudo-science and he threw out the gratuitous classification of creationism as pseudo-science to curry favor with the audience. I’ve seen this a million times where someone has an axe to grind in one particular area of science he believes is corrupt but is first careful to agree that this is the only bone he has to pick and that the rest of science is as pure and true as the driven snow. . .

    Well, I agree that it was a bone for the audience, but as I mentioned re Michael Larkin’s post, I think that in the context of his personal history of realizing what a crock CAGW is, it was a minor element, and not worth diverting much of this thread.

    . . . Life and the universe have virtually no hallmarks of random construction but rather carries the hallmarks of design at every scale.

    That’s an open question, I think. In another recent thread,

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/10/31/a-modest-proposal—forget-about-tomorrow/#more-50379

    someone posted a link to a lecture by Stephen Wolfram on “A New Kind of Science.” I watched only the first 10 minutes or so, but in that beginning he demonstrated an amazing pattern complexity that can come about with successive permutations of only two elements (white and black squares). I wonder whether there might be in nature a kind of inherent, built-in drive toward ever-increasing complexity and organization, given the input of energy. It might not require the hand of a Designer.

    The lecture is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eC14GonZnU&feature=player_embedded#!

    /Mr Lynn

  201. ImranCan says:

    That speech is a brilliant articulation of the whole debacle. Very well worth filing.

    Just brilliant.

  202. Christian Takacs says:

    I very much enjoyed reading Matt Ridley’s speech.
    I do not believe all his statements factually true, but I think the gist of what he was talking about is going in the right direction…generally. I have however, enjoyed the discussion after the speech more than the speech itself. I would like to say with conviction that there are three words lacking from the scientific community (as a whole) that they need to relearn if further discovery of truth and science is desired. These little words are “I don’t know”. Without these three little words, Hubris, another little word, comes home to roost with a vengence. As of the present, Evolution (in all it’s myriad forms/theories) at best is a crude description of how pre-existing life can change over time, it is nowhere fully understood, it is not an orgin of life on this planet, much less how it came to be in the first place. As of the present, The Big Bang Theory is a speculation about an event that might have occurred over thirteen billion years ago without time, space, or apparent causation… Neither of these theories fly without huge amounts of speculation about precious few details that are themselves tenuous. By claiming these theories as unquestionable, settled, or confirmed facts, the establishment of the educated and arrogant prevent the humility of “I don’t know” to open the door to true discovery. Read your history, you will find precious little in science advances when the hubris of experts exceeds their actual understanding.

  203. andie says:

    What a wonderful fresh presentation. As heretics go, he makes grand sense and I hope he doesn’t fair like his esteemed ancestor, although anytime someone makes sense they run the risk of insulting the demi-gods. Great speech.

  204. Ian H says:

    … and all the creationists are crawling out of the woodwork … ick!

  205. SteveSadlov says:

    1.2 deg C is actually a bit generous. Between innate negative feed backs and GCR flux, we’d be lucky to reach a 0.8 deg C rise. The peak may have already occurred and it may be downhill from here.

  206. wayne says:

    Took me a while to get the time to properly read this speech. Well put by Matt and so true. But, learning I am actually more a heretic than a mere denier is going to take a bit more time to get used to the notion.

    I even think, as many others, that the GHCN database is about as good as you get with 30,000+ stations over many decades, with COOP readers knee deep in snow trying to read their daily readings, the times snow drifts in the Stevenson cages or wind has blown in the rain. I too think the land-only shows a rise in temperature as the world development has blossomed around these stations but I still to refuse to “believe” the global aspect with today’s AMSU reading below the last eight years and that span is nearly a full Kelvin. GHCN coverage IS only about one fourth of this globe and a global dataset, all oceans, still eludes us.

    If that makes people who think as I do heretics, so be it.

  207. ferd berple says:

    Insurance is not the same as taxes. Insurance pays you back if there is a loss. If I insure against CO2, then I expect to get paid for any loss I suffer as a result of CO2 in future.

    I have no problem paying a tax (insurance) on CO2 if there is a guarantee that I will be paid for any losses I suffer if temperatures go up. Is that what the government is proposing? I don’t think so.

    What is being proposed isn’t insurance at all, because there is no way you will ever get your money back if you suffer a loss as a result of CO2. The tax money you pay on CO2, that money is gone. You will never see it come back, no matter how much loss you suffer as a result of CO2. Thus, what is being proposed is not insurance.

  208. Jiri Moudry says:

    I almost forgot about the granddaddy of models – the Rome Club Limits to Growth. “This is the world that the computer forecasts.” Abandon all hope.

  209. Larry in Texas says:

    Steve Garcia says:
    November 2, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Actually, Churchill said what you quoted on the occasion of the victory at El Alamein in November 1942. That doesn’t invalidate your point, mind you, but it’s just a correction.

    As I posted on Bishop Hill, Ridley’s lecture is must reading for everyone. I agree with those who posted here that the idea of confirmation bias and its avoidance whenever possible is the key to understand how to advance science, as well as knowledge in general. After reading the piece in the Atlantic on medical studies (which piece was referenced in this esteemed website last year, for which I am forever grateful), I realize the problem of confirmation bias is an especially daunting one. One likes to believe one is careful and right most of the time. But that is why knowledge is always a process of interaction, exchange of views, and reasoned argument. The flap over AGW is poisoned by ideology, personal interest, and political interest. As Ridley points out, it doesn’t seem good to use a tourniquet around the neck to solve a nosebleed. That is the result of confirming the worst angels of our nature.

  210. davidmhoffer says:

    Richard S Courtney says:
    November 2, 2011 at 3:57 pm
    Friends:
    Following my request that the creationists be ignored, the atheists joined in to promote their religion. The contributions of those two irrational groups combined and this thread became swamped with their nonsense.>>>

    Thanks for saying that. If I may add, why is it that both sides feel the need to “win”? The fact of the matter is that their positions are not mutually exclusive.

    If the universe was created by some being, then he/she/it brought it into existance subject to all sorts of physical processes that we are free to study and draw conclusions from the manner in which those processes work. If there is no such being, then the universe exists subject to all sorts of physical processes that we are free to study and draw conclusions from the manner in which those processes work.

    Let the houses of worship teach what they will about the manner in which the universe came to be, and let the education system teach the techniques by which we observe our universe and understand the physical processes by which it operates.

  211. ferd berple says:

    Laurence Crossen says:
    November 2, 2011 at 4:08 pm
    Then even if we grant that all the 0.6 degrees warming of the twentieth century was caused by CO2,

    The CET, the longest thermometer record in existence, has been going up 0.7C per century for 3.5 centuries. Along with the increase has come prosperity. Just like it did 1000 years ago to mark the end of the dark ages, and 1000 years before that to bring prosperity to the Romans, and before that the Minoans. All during times of warming.

    Show us the great civilizations that flourished and prospered during times of cooling. They don’t exist because cooling reduces rainfall which reduces food supplies which leads to higher prices, famine and economic collapse. Great civilizations flourished during times of plenty, which means plenty of rain.

  212. Truthseeker says:

    TravisB, the 9/11 example was another “pseudoscience” example by Matt. He was not in any way supporting the “9/11 inside job” hypothesis. You need to read the lecture again … carefully.

  213. ferd berple says:

    “CRS, Dr.P.H. says:
    November 1, 2011 at 10:55 pm
    Well, the “problem” of AGW is easily proven by experimentation. All we have to do is build an exact duplicate of the planet Earth & sustain it without any fossil fuel combustion”

    Actually that is not true. Two identical earth, even if identical to the last quark, would not have identical futures. Their futures and their climate would diverge quite rapidly.

    This is what climate science fails to recognize when it attempts to model the future. Even a perfect model that exactly replicates the earth in all details to infinite precision will not have the same future as the earth.

    Victorian Age physics, the sort of physics that is taught in high schools, teaches us that two identical earths will have the same future, but modern physics knows this to be bogus. Two identical earth can have identical futures, but the probability of this goes to zero as time goes forward.

  214. George E. Smith; says:

    “”””” Urederra says:

    November 1, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Great speech.

    I have a question though. I Understand that “In the idealised situation that the climate response to a doubling of atmospheric CO2 consisted of a uniform temperature change only, with no feedbacks operating…the global warming from GCMs would be around 1.2°C.” and I know that the curve is logarithmic (Lambert-Beer law) But have the negative and/or positive feedbacks also logarithmic curves?

    I always found strange that the computer models have combined the greenhouse effect and all the feedbacks in one parameter without knowing whether the feedbacks have also a logarithmic response or not. It seems to me that if they don’t know exactly whether clouds have a positive or negative feedback, they cannot possibly know if such effect grows linearly, logarithmically or exponentially. “””””

    Well Urederra, there’s a lot of odd things in your post. You restrict your model to “the idealised situation” and say that leads to a uniform (constant ?) Temperature change with no feedbacks.

    But we have NO experimental observations of your “idealised situation”; nor of any observations in the absence of feedbacks. We have ONLY observations of the actual “real” situation, and with ALL feedbacks fully operational; and the IPCC and AGW proponents assert that it is that situation that responds logarithmically to a change of CO2; and that despite the fact, that NO experimental observations support a model having a Temperature proportional to the logarithm of CO2 abundance in the atmosphere; and yet you too assert that it is so. It clearly is not, as the Temperature and the CO2 abundance, don’t even always move in the same direction, let alone in any recognisable functional relationship. And NO propagation delay between CO2 change, and Temperature change, either positive or negative (delay) will show such a logarithmic relationship either.
    A “doubling” of CO2 might be today’s 400 ppm doubling to 800 ppm or the “historic norm” 280 ppm going to 560 ppm, but it also is 1 ppm going to 2 ppm or one CO2 moelcule in the atmosphere going to 2 CO2 molecules; so clearly the relationship is NOT logarithmic; even if it IS non-linear; which also is neither proven nor disproven.

    So you (and the establishment) invoke the Beer-Lambert Law; which is itself only an approximation and only valid for very low concentrations of absorbing solute species in dilute solutions; and furthermore, the B-L law presumes that the input radiant energy that is absorbed by the solute species, stays absorbed. The B-L law makes NO provision for that energy continuing to propagate; albeit, in a totally different isotropic diffuse distribution; and at some totally different wavelength from the input wavelength.

    So the Beer-Lambert Law is NOT applicable to the GHG absorption/re-emission cycle in the atmosphere. The absorbed energy at the roughly 288 Kelvin average surface emission Temperature, by CO2 and other GHGs including H2O and O3, DOES NOT stay absorbed by those molecules, but is quickly thermalized ( at lower Tropospheric levels) and re-emitted, both at characteristic molecular band wavelengths and at thermal continuum wavelengths corresponding to the atmospheric Temperature.

    So there is NEITHER observational experimental evidence, nor any theoretical basis for asserting that the earth surface Temperature varies linearly with the logarithm of CO2 atmospheric abundance.

    People who continue to insist there is such a logarithmic functional cause and effect relationship should provide some sort of support for that position; I know of NO such supporting evidence.

  215. Gary Hladik says:

    mkelly says (November 2, 2011 at 12:09 pm): “As this is so and I accept this then it follows that the universe was created by ….. I’ll calll him God for the lack of a better term.”

    I think the “better term” you’re looking for is I-don’t-have-a-clue.

    You’re welcome.

  216. BFL says:

    @ Lucy Skywalker: “the completely unnecessary “debunking” introduction, talking about things about which I realize Matt Ridley has not enough knowledge of, to do anything much more than show his low level of knowledge.”

    Hear! Hear!
    While having some fine observations on AGW fanaticism (which appears to me to be mostly the result of purposeful self delusion to maintain an easy lifestyle), the attempt at debunking via opinion was mixed and did nothing to increase credibility. Besides UFO’s, which the average Joe writes off as kookery without any investigation of evidence or opposing view points at all, there is my personal experience of ball lightning which has been theorized by some “experts” to be caused by the likes of seizures or lightning generated hallucinations. All I know is that two wind broken
    ~20 KV wires getting together can generate quite the vision of a flying plasma ball, ~1.5 ft in diameter, almost too bright to look at and with the parabolic trajectory of a cannon ball for around 500 ft. The locals weren’t too happy when it landed in their front yards either.

  217. George E. Smith; says:

    “”””” ferd berple says:

    November 2, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    “CRS, Dr.P.H. says:
    November 1, 2011 at 10:55 pm
    Well, the “problem” of AGW is easily proven by experimentation. All we have to do is build an exact duplicate of the planet Earth & sustain it without any fossil fuel combustion”

    Actually that is not true. Two identical earth, even if identical to the last quark, would not have identical futures. “””””

    And moreover ferd, Heisenberg tells us that we cannot even tell that the two earths are in fact identical; so I agree with you; they must eventually differ.

    Let’s face it; we are taught that at the “moment of conception” we have a single biological cell , so clearly ONLY a single “person” is present at that moment. However at birth, we could have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 or more “persons” delivered to the parents; well maybe it is still just a single person with totally bizarre birth defects. But if there is say just two persons delivered, then one of them must have been “conceived” at some later time when one or more cells divided. So in the simplest case of identical twins, even at birth, they no longer are identical; both having undergone different evolutions from the first split. Even cloned life forms cannot be identical down to the last quark; which is a pretty inclusive criterion (I plan to steal that line routinely; thank you).

  218. Smokey says:

    Jim Cripwell,

    Thanks for correcting me. There aren’t any observations, just conjecture.

  219. Gary Hladik says:

    ferd berple says (November 2, 2011 at 7:34 pm): “Two identical earth can have identical futures, but the probability of this goes to zero as time goes forward.”

    Which may explain why the pan-dimensional beings decided not to take delivery of their second earth designed to calculate the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.

    Hey, maybe if they used an “ensemble” of earths…

  220. Gary Hladik says:

    Great lecture, entertaining comment thread. Thanks, Matt Ridley.

  221. George E. Smith; says:

    “”””” Richard S Courtney says:

    November 2, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Friends: “””””

    Richard, I like your concise descriptions of “science” and “pseudo-science”.

    There’s a nice symmetry to the way you present them.

    George

  222. donkeygod says:

    I like Ridley’s ‘Rational Optimism’. He’s pretty much on top of the science, and the effect of his writing is to focus on the ‘middle ground': he tolerates neither determined scepticism nor gullible belief. That’s probably the best vantage from which to assess what’s happening … in economics and philosophy as well as climate science. Nice speech, aimed squarely at the generality of intelligent citizens, as opposed to partisans on either side of the debate. Thanks, Matt.

  223. Ian H says:

    Dave Springer says:
    November 2, 2011 at 7:14 am

    [Matt Ridley's] major plot element was the difference between science and pseudo-science and he threw out the gratuitous classification of creationism as pseudo-science to curry favor with the audience.

    I am astonished that you should think that this is what he was doing. It seems to me that when he said creationism was pseudoscience he wasn’t being gratuitous or currying favour. He most sincerely meant it!

    Try to bear in mind that this speech was given in Scotland. Creationism is almost completely a US phenomenon, a product of the US religious right. Try to understand that creationism has almost no traction elsewhere in the world. In most places, and certainly in Scotland, the general view of creationism held by almost all educated people is that not only is creationism pseudoscience, but that it is OBVIOUSLY pseudoscience.

    Your idea that Matt Ridley might be secretly sympathetic to creationist ideas and identified creationism as pseudoscience purely in order to curry favour with his audience is just bizarre. This is a story you made up out of nothing. There is absolutely no evidence that might support this conclusion. This is you believing what you want to believe and ignoring the evidence. This kind of thinking is the basis of pseudoscience. And by your comment you would seem to be a creationist. Why am I not surprised.

  224. Arno Arrak says:

    I quote: “Suppose I am right that much of what passes for mainstream climate science is now infested with pseudoscience, buttressed by a bad case of confirmation bias, reliant on wishful thinking, given a free pass by biased reporting and dogmatically intolerant of dissent. So what?“ Let’s see what. All of the things above exist but they are not equally important. Also, you forgot outright fraud which is big and needs to be exposed. To deal with the situation, let’s start with temperature. First of all, BEST,the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature team, has just reported that global warming is well and hale and scientists like Kevin Trenberth and others chimed in.They all think that global warming is going on right now and point to the BEST study as proof of that. That happens to be false because the data posted by the BEST group on Berkeley Web site proves that there has not been any warming during the entire twenty-first century. That is a good eleven plus years of temperature standstill. In 1988 James Hansen testified to the Senate that global warming had started. A global temperature chart which was published in the IPCC FAR in 1990 and which should have been available to him shows that warming had started about 1978, ten years before 1988. That makes the time period used for justification of warming shorter than the present and continuing lack of warming we are experiencing. And considering that the talk he gave in 1988 was prepared for 1987 this makes it even shorter. The problem with warming advocates today is that all their arguments are theoretical, going back to Arrhenius in the nineteenth century. They are just elaborated by twenty-first century computers for the purpose of making predictions. It has not occurred to them yet that neither theory nor computer models can be a substitute for real climate. Ferenc Miskolczi at NASA was interested in the greenhouse theory used to predict warming and put it to an experimental test. Using NOAA database of weather balloon observations he determined that the transmittance of the atmosphere in the IR where carbon dioxide absorbs has not changed for 61 years. During that same period of time the amount of carbon dioxide in the air increased by 21.6 percent. This means that addition of this amount of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere had no effect whatsoever on the absorption of outgoing infrared radiation by the atmosphere. To put it another way: the greenhouse effect of those fine theories of Arrhenius, Fraunhofer and others that are the basis of global warming calculations simply does not work as advertized. That being the case, Miskolczi’s work makes it impossible to attribute any global warming to the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide. And when you look around you realize that there really is no actual experimental proof that the greenhouse effect has happened at any time during the past century. I am now referring to what real climate tells us, not what some computer game might produce. Real climate is something you observe by measuring global temperature either by thermometers or by satellites. It so happens that according to satellite temperature measurements there was only one short spurt of global warming within the last 31 years. It was one of two warming periods during the entire twentieth century. It was brought to us by the super El Nino of 1998, raised global temperature by a third of a degree in four years, and then stopped. It was oceanic, not greenhouse in origin. There was no warming either before or after that. There was no steady warming at all, just that short step warming. In particular, there was no trace of the warming that Hansen spoke of in his famous 1988 testimony to the Senate. To determine the cause of the absence of this Hansen warming I compared the satellite data for that twenty year period with data from NASA, NOAA, and the Met Office (HadCRUT3). Both HadCRUT3 and NASA show presence of the same El Nino peaks that are the main feature of the satellite temperature curve in the eighties and nineties. Between these peaks are the cool La Nina valleys. While peak heights in all three curves coincide for the first four El Nino peaks, the valleys in between them have been made shallow and this gives both of these curves an upward slope which they call warming. I can not think of any natural process that can raise temperature at these low points of the curve so as to make La Nina valleys shallow and yet have no influence at all on the height of the intervening El Nino peaks. NOAA is even worse – they retain the high points all right but just fill in the valleys in between the peaks. All this is documented in my book “What Warming?“ available from Amazon. There is no doubt in my mind that this effect can only be produced by data tampering that began in the late seventies and continued for decades. A global temperature curve revised this way uses “late twentieth century warming“ to describe the eighties and nineties. None of these curves can be believed. In my opinion they should all be discarded and replaced by satellite measured temperature curves. Early twentieth century warming lasted 30 years, occurred between 1910 and the start of World War II, and came to an abrupt end with 1940. From the end of World War II until the beginning of the step warming of 1998, a good fifty year stretch, there was no warming at all while carbon dioxide relentlessly increased. If you now want to claim that the 1910 to 1940 warming was greenhouse warming you will then have to explain why it suddenly stopped while carbon dioxide just kept on going up. Rather than stick with the greenhouse effect I would assume that early twentieth century warming was caused by solar activity as Bjørn Lomborg did in his book. The next problem for you to overcome would be to explain why there was no warming from the end of World War II until 1998 despite relentlessly increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. And don’t try aerosols as coolants, they have already been proven to be incapable of covering up this much warming. Plus one more thing you need to explain that I already mentioned: why was there no warming in the twenty first century? None of these problems can be solved by invoking the greenhouse theory of warming. And that is exactly as predicted by Ferenc Miskolczi and previously shown to hold for the satellite era.

  225. JJB MKI says:

    Perhaps some commenters here who dismiss Darwinism (it doesn’t need the ‘neo’) might consider the possibility that they have missed some of its important points, and may not have a full grasp of the subject they are railing against. I would recommend any of Richard Dawkins’ earlier books (particularly The Blind Watchmaker). Even if the mention of his name sends you into a blind rage, even if his views on religion offend you, I guarantee you will not regret it. You will forget your misgivings and become quickly absorbed in a fascinating subject, beautifully described.

  226. TravisB says:

    Truthseeker on November 2, 2011 at 7:25 pm said:
    TravisB, the 9/11 example was another “pseudoscience” example by Matt. He was not in any way supporting the “9/11 inside job” hypothesis. You need to read the lecture again … carefully.
    @@@@@@

    Truth seeker,

    I am aware. Read my post again, carefully.

    [Rest is trimmed. Not subject to debate here. Robt]

  227. Arno Arrak says:

    I quote: “Suppose I am right that much of what passes for mainstream climate science is now infested with pseudoscience, buttressed by a bad case of confirmation bias, reliant on wishful thinking, given a free pass by biased reporting and dogmatically intolerant of dissent. So what?“ Let’s see what. All of the things above exist but they are not equally important. Also, you forgot outright fraud which is big and needs to be exposed. To deal with the situation, let’s start with temperature. First of all, BEST,the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature team, has just reported that global warming is well and hale and scientists like Kevin Trenberth and others chime in.They all think that global warming is going on right now and point to the BEST study as proof of that. That happens to be false because the data posted by the BEST group on Berkely Web site proves that there has not been any warming during the entire twenty-first century. That is a good eleven plus years of temperature standstill. In 1988 James Hansen testified to the Senate that global warming had started. A global temperature chart which was published in the IPCC FAR in 1990 and which should have been available to him shows that warming had started about 1978, ten years before 1988. That makes the time period used for justification of warming shorter than the present and continuing lack of warming we are experiencing. And considering that the talk he gave in 1988 was prepared for 1987 this makes it even shorter. The problem with warming advocates today is that all their arguments are theoretical, going back to Arrhenius in the nineteenth century. They are just elaborated by twenty-first century computers for the purpose of making predictions. It has not occurred to them yet that neither theory nor computer models can be a substitute for real climate. Ferenc Miskoczi at NASA was interested in the greenhouse theory used to predict warming and put it to an experimental test. Using NOAA database of weather balloon observations he determined that the transmittance of the atmosphere in the IR where carbon dioxide absorbs has not changed for 61 years. During that same period of time the amount of carbon dioxide in the air increased by 21.6 percent. This means that addition of this amount of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere had no effect whatsoever on the absorption of outgoing infrared radiation by the atmosphere. To put it another way: the greenhouse effect of those fine theories of Arrhenius, Fraunhofer and others that are the basis of global warming calculations simply does not work as advertized. That being the case, there cannot be any global warming attributable to the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide. And when you look around you see that there really is no actual experimental proof that the greenhouse effect has happened at any time during the past century. I am now referring to what real climate tells us, not what some computer game might produce. Real climate is something you observe by measuring global temperature either by thermometers or by satellites. It so happens that according to satellite temperature measurements there was only one short spurt of global warming within the last 31 years. It was one of two warming periods during the entire twentieth century. It was brought to us by the super El Nino of 1998, raised global temperature by a third of a degree in four years, and then stopped. It was oceanic, not greenhouse in origin. There was no warming either before or after that. There was no steady warming at all, just that short step warming. In particular, there was no trace of the warming that Hansen spoke of in his famous 1988 testimony to the Senate. To determine the cause of the absence of this Hansen warming I compared the satellite data for that twenty year period with data from NASA, NOAA, and the Met Office (HadCRUT3). Both HadCRUT3 and NASA show presence of the same El Nino peaks that are the main feature of the satellite temperature curve in the eighties and nineties. Between these peaks are the cool La Nina valleys. While peak heights in all three curves coincide for the first four El Nino peaks, the valleys in between them have been made shallow and this gives both of these curves an upward slope they call warming. I can not think of any natural process that can raise temperature at these low points of the curve so as to make La Nina valleys shallow and yet have no influence at all on the height of the intervening El Nino peaks. NOAA is even worse – they retain the high points all right but just fill in the valleys between the peaks. All this is documented in my book “What Warming?“ available from Amazon. There is no doubt in my mind that this effect can only be produced by data tampering that began in the late seventies and continued for decades. Global temperature curve revised this way uses “late twentieth century warming“ to describe the eighties and nineties. None of these curves can be believed. In my opinion they should all be discarded and replaced by satellite measured temperature curves. Early twentieth century warming lasted 30 years, occurred between 1910 and the start of World War II, and came to an abrupt end with 1940. From the end of World War II until the beginning of the step warming of 1998, a good fifty year stretch, there was no warming at all while carbon dioxide relentlessly increased. If you now want to claim that the 1910 to 1940 warming was greenhouse warming you will then have to explain why it suddenly stopped while carbon dioxide just kept on going up. Rather than stick with the greenhouse effect I would assume that early twentieth century warming was caused by solar activity as Bjørn Lomborg did in his book. The next problem for you to overcome would be to explain why there was no warming from the end of World War II until 1998 despite relentlessly increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. And don’t try aerosols as coolants, they have already been proven to be incapable of covering up this much warming. Plus one more thing you need to explain that I already mentioned: why was there no warming in the twenty first century? None of these problems can be solved by invoking the greenhouse theory of warming. And that is exactly as predicted by Ferenc Miskolczi and previously shown to hold for the satellite era.

  228. squareheaded says:

    davidmhoffer says:
    November 2, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    Let the houses of worship teach what they will about the manner in which the universe came to be, and let the education system teach the techniques by which we observe our universe and understand the physical processes by which it operates.

    Either you have a curious sense of humor, or you have little understanding of the history and current state of the “education system”.

    The manner in which the present US public education system operates bears more resemblance to the manners of pseudoscience, the IPCC, the UN, and the former Soviet Union, than it does to what you suggest it should be doing. It has been so since the invention of “public education”. It can no more be cured than the things I compared it to can be cured.

    Furthermore, attendance is made compulsory and enforced by the combined military might of your city, your county, and your own state, unless you diligently prove you “educated” yourself. It is paid for by the extraction of rent from you on the property they own, whether or not you avail yourself of their astounding benevolence.

    How about “Let each individual be responsible and held accountable for his own learning (and that of his children), whether about things visible or invisible”? Is that so irrational?

    One benefit is that people might end up with some thoughts that they could call their own. Another is that they might end up with some property that they could honestly call their own.

    To love God is to love liberty. You can think of a better foundation for education? Every other one leads to slavery.

  229. john karajas says:

    Crikey! It took me forever to scroll down this far! What a wonderful speech by Matt Ridley.

    If you ever need to present an example of scientific consensus getting it totally wrong one can always go back to where the science of Geology was postioned in relation to Alfred Wegener’s theory of Continental Drift early in the twentieth century. He was pilloried for this theory by establishment geologists ( he was after all an atmospheric scientist, so what would he know!). Then along came new discoveries from study of the oceans in the 1960’s and the theory of plate tectonics vindicating Wegener’s ideas. Talk about a turnaround.

  230. D Johnson says:

    I was greatly impressed by Ridley’s presentation from the moment I read it at Bishop Hill’s this morning. The evolution of his thinking parallels my own. And I happen to agree with each of his positions on his examples of pseudoscience, although I can agree that some of his examples might not fit the normal definition of pseudoscience, but rather merely now widely discredited views.

    I am somewhat taken aback by many the replies, both here and at Bishop Hill’s, which detract from the thrust of his message. Included are ad hominum attacks related to Ridley’s background, those who take offense at his particular classifications (e.g. creationism) because it conflicts with their own strongly held minority views, and even a couple of 911 truthers? Oh well, at least I can be happy that most don’t disagree with his basic tenet that belief in CAGW is just that, a belief and not established science.

  231. Ben says:

    Thanks for the pdf version.

    If possible, please adjust the pdf version to more closely match the WUWT version. In particular, please relocate the graphs near the appropriate text, as they are in the WUWT version. In the pdf, two sensitivity graphs are on the same line. That shrinks their size and reduces their impact. Plus the Nic Lewis Sensitivity graph somehow got pushed out of the text area to the bottom of the pdf.

    Great read. Thanks for the efforts to post it on WUWT and thanks for the pdf version.

  232. DesertYote says:

    Well the stuff that is taught in schools call “Evolution” is a pseudoscience. It bears little resemblance to what Darwin actually wrote or to what working evolutionary biologists understand to be the principles at work in driving specification. If this was not the case then no one would take Dawkins seriously. Its a shame really. Few people understand the subtle beauty in the story of how the organisms we see today came to be. My particular favorite is the story of the carnivores.

  233. Julian Braggins says:

    Mike Jonas says:
    November 2, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Julian Braggins – Done. Either way [ie. if he's right or if he's wrong], it’s sad. IMHO being that abrasive and aggressively convinced of the perfectness of your own view is a lousy way to make a case.
    ——————————————
    That was in ref. to Dale W. Hoffman’s site. From a newcomers point of view to the idea that lapse rates rule, you are probably right. I came upon it having come to that conclusion independently, hence did not see it in quite that light. Just goes to prove my own confirmation bias! ;)

  234. Fantástica síntesis del señor Ridley, pero aun mejor los comentarios de la audiencia. Me impresiona como la discusión religiosa nos impide avanzar en las materias humanas. ¿A que le tenemos miedo?. La realidad esta en el lenguaje, mientras tengamos el lenguaje secuestrado por las religiones y sus dogmas, poco avanzamos en el diseño de “la realidad”. Como los dijeron los Beatles en la película Yellow Submarine, “it’s all in the mind”. Libertad a la mente, libertad al lenguaje.

    [Fantastic summary of Mr. Ridley, but even better comments from the audience. It strikes me as a religious discussion hinder our progress in human subjects. What do we fear?. The reality is in the language, while language have hijacked by religions and their dogmas, little advance in the design of "reality." As the Beatles said in the film Yellow Submarine, "it's all in the mind". Freedom to mind, freedom of language. Robt]

  235. Jim Masterson says:

    >>
    Sun Spot says:
    November 2, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    I would be very interested to hear Richard Dawkins take on CAGW.
    <<

    I’m not 100% sure, but I think Dawkins supports the alarmist view. If that is his view, then he is in-line with the view of many (if not most) evolutionists. It’s strange, because if any group should understand that the climate is ever changing, it would be this group. However, when it comes to AGW, evolutionists appear to have tunnel vision too.

    Jim

  236. Syl says:

    Yeah, catastrophic warming is dying and it will take only as long as warmers transfer their angst from climate change to income inequality.

    The madness never ends.

    It was a great speech! Thank you Matt Ridley! I especially admire the removal of layers and layers of complexity to speak to the nugget inside. Not much left over for nit-pickery.

  237. Jantar says:

    Roger Sowell says:
    ……..
    Try having an Evolutionist scientist, biologist, whatever they want to call themselves, explain that one. Try to keep a straight face, as you calculate out the probabilities of that “accident” of nature happening once, then millions of times successfully in just a short few billion years.

    You have the Math back to front. Try to work out the probility of that “accident” of nature NOT happening. Only then can you see hown many millions of of times it is likely to happen.

  238. Jessie says:

    Dave Springer says: November 2, 2011 at 7:45 am

    Thank you so much Dave,
    This is the bloke and team who cracked the code on haemophilus influenzae and mycoplasma gentialium . The former I am v familiar with, the latter I will read up upon.
    Tx again, so much appreciated that you chose to comment and provide links. Hey, the Sorcerer 11 missed a few good mates of oceanic biochem fame in their trip. We melded from our obtuse spectrums of work to do a great science presentation in the outback many years ago.
    cheers :)

    Also many thanks to Anthony for posting the background to Matt Ridley’s talk at the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacture & Commerce (RSA). What an absolutely wonderful history.

  239. Jim Cripwell says:

    “daveburton says:

    November 2, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Sure there is, at least with “ballpark” accuracy. Fire up MODTRAN, calculate the predicted output for 300 ppm (pre-anthropogenic), 400 ppm (current), and 600 ppm (doubled) CO2 levels. (Leave the other parameters alone.)”

    This is the so called “Plank” method of estimation. It assumes that the structure of the atmospere does not change – e.g the lapse rate does not change, – and that all the estimations can be done by ONLY considering radiation effects. Neither assumption has ever been shown to be valid. If you can give me references as to why these assumptions are correct, I will reconsider my position.,

  240. Jim Cripwell says:

    “daveburton says:

    November 2, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Sure there is, at least with “ballpark” accuracy. Fire up MODTRAN, calculate the predicted output for 300 ppm (pre-anthropogenic), 400 ppm (current), and 600 ppm (doubled) CO2 levels. (Leave the other parameters alone.)”

    This is the so called “Plank” method of estimation. It assumes that the structure of the atmospere does not change – e.g the lapse rate does not change, – and that all the estimations can be done by ONLY considering radiation effects. Neither assumption has ever been shown to be valid. If you can give me references as to why these assumptions are correct, I will reconsider my position

  241. Jim Cripwell says:

    “Smokey says:

    November 2, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    Jim Cripwell,

    Thanks for correcting me. There aren’t any observations, just conjecture.”

    Your welcome.

  242. Ryan says:

    A fantastic speech that pretty much nails everything that enlightened skeptics have been saying. He really put his ass on the line.

    If I have a criticism it is this: Confirmational bias is where you do two studies, one of which supports your thesis and one of which does not, and you choose to publish only the one that does because you “believe” that this study is “true”. But when you apply carefully chosen algorithms to produce conclusions which are in complete disagreement with the underlying data then this is not confirmational bias – this is outright dishonesty. Dr Ridly gave a couple of examples which are outright dishonesty and where Team AGW has been sanguine about this dishonesty to the extent that it calls into question the integrity of even the simplest of studies they have produced including presentation of Stephenson screen data.

  243. Galane says:

    This guy needs a good debunking. http://www.skepticalscience.com/ He used to be a webcartoonist, doing the quite hilarious Star Trek parody comic “Sev Trek” until he spent so much time on his pro-AGW site he quit doing the comic strip.

  244. Allen63 says:

    Ridley’s “A tourniquet around the neck to stop a nose bleed” sums up my position far more memorably than my standard one liner — which is “We should not spend a dime in an attempt to prevent AGW”.

  245. Dave Springer says:

    Jim Cripwell says:
    November 3, 2011 at 2:53 am

    “This is the so called “Plank” method of estimation.”

    “So called” is inapt here and it’s spelled Planck after the father of quantum physics, Max Planck. His name is on lots of stuff to do with physics.

    “It assumes that the structure of the atmospere does not change – e.g the lapse rate does not change,”

    It also assumes there’s no hot air emanating from the vicinity of Jim Cripwell. No calculation is perfect.

    ” – and that all the estimations can be done by ONLY considering radiation effects.”

    This is how we do things in science and engineering. We start with basics in an idealized situation and add detail as practical and/or as needed to reflect the real world until we get to a point where its good enough for our purposes.

    “Neither assumption has ever been shown to be valid.”

    It is valid to the degree that the discounted factors can alter the result. Whatever degree that might be is called bounding and it’s used to generate error bars.

  246. Roger Knights says:

    Andrew says:
    November 2, 2011 at 1:44 pm
    AMSU is showing massive drops in temps would not be surprised to see November in great negative anomaly AGW is finished.

    Well, it’ll be another arrow in the elephant. But it’ll take another seven-month’s worth of such arrows–large negative anomalies (thru June)–to make him wobble and force the trendies to bail off the castle on his back.

  247. Dave Springer says:

    Ryan says:
    November 3, 2011 at 3:36 am

    “A fantastic speech that pretty much nails everything that enlightened skeptics have been saying.”

    I’d say the well informed, scientifically literate skeptics. He’s not one of the experimental physics illiterates who deny the fact that CO2 absorbs thermal radiation and emits some of it back towards the source. If we were to equate this to creationism those who deny the surface temperature effect of CO2 are equivalent to those who believe the earth is 6,000 years old and humans and dinosaurs were contemporaries. Not all creationists believe that and those that accept the overwhelming evidence to the contrary are termed “old earth creationists” for lack of a better phrase as opposed to the better known YEC (Young Earth Creationists). Unfortunately the detractors of all creationism are very successful at lumping all creationists into the YEC category so the OECs get tarred with the same brush. Same thing happens in the climate debate with a similar level of success.

    “He really put his ass on the line.”

    I don’t know how. He’s a science journalist and author of science books for general audiences. This may very well be a calculated move to increase his name recognition and will probably result in more demand for him as a speaker and more demand for his books. He isn’t making a name for himself by parroting the AGW claims of his usual leftist playmates. Ridley was born with a silver spoon in his mouth so this is all just academic for him which makes me wonder what exactly is at risk other than kind feelings from his usual peer group. The likes of Richard Dawkins not taking his phone calls doesn’t strike me as any great loss when the compensation is Jay Leno wanting me for a guest appearance on the Tonight Show.

  248. Nylo says:

    Conradg says:
    November 2, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Astrology isn’t pseudoscience, because it doesn’t pretend to be a science at all, for the most part.

    The theory that someone other than Shakespeare wrote those plays, Oxford or otherwise, is not pseudoscience. It’s an unproven hypothesis with insufficient evidence to be declared either true or false, like many historical conjectures. Most of its supporters use actual evidence to plead the case. That is how science works. One weighs all the pros and cons, knowing that any hypothesis will have both supporters and detractors. When there is no clear convincing proof on either side, controversies tend to rage unabated. And while the Oxford theory is certainly not proven, neither is the Stratford theory.

    Same applies to the conspiracy stories around the JFK assassination. There is plenty of evidence supporting conspiracy theories, including the scientific finding based on acoustical research of the recorded police phone calls of the gunshots, which came to the conclusion that there was more than one gunman involved. That doesn’t tell us what the conspiracy was, but it does tell us that there was very likely a conspiracy of some kind.

    In general, the author’s reasoning about “pseudoscience” is itself a form of pseudo-science. He ascribes the term to whole categories of controversial topics, rather than to a specific way of thinking about those topics. There certainly are pseudo-scientific forms of thing that such people employ in the attempt to prove their ideas true, but that doesn’t make the topic itself a category of pseudo-science.

    I think you didn’t understand what he said about pseudoscience. He didn’t mean that any of those ideas is necessarily wrong (although they actually are, in most cases). What he says is that they are not scientific. You are free to believe any of that about Shakespeare, JFK or 911, to think that, in your opinion, your view is the most likely truth. What is totally unscientific is to deny any other possibility. To claim absolute certainty about your view and to reject all evidence to the contrary. All of Ridley’s speech is about confirmation bias and about being absolutely certain about one’s own views, as a way to detect pseudoscience. Something that clearly applies to most of the believers of those theories about Shakespeare, JFK, 911, Creationism… All of the examples he cited. So in my opinion, they are perfect examples, even in the highly unlikely case that they happened to be right.

  249. David L says:

    Excellent!!!! This easily could have been a Feynman or Langmuir lecture!

  250. Laurence Crossen says:

    ferd berple says:
    The CET, the longest thermometer record in existence, has been going up 0.7C per century for 3.5 centuries. Along with the increase has come prosperity. Just like it did 1000 years ago to mark the end of the dark ages, and 1000 years before that to bring prosperity to the Romans, and before that the Minoans. All during times of warming.

    Show us the great civilizations that flourished and prospered during times of cooling. They don’t exist because cooling reduces rainfall which reduces food supplies which leads to higher prices, famine and economic collapse. Great civilizations flourished during times of plenty, which means plenty of rain.

    Exactly. Most of the warming is probably due to natural variation so the maximum sensitivity is a fraction of that, say 1/10th= 0.0024 degrees C.

    You get at the most important point, that the negative judgement is wrong. “Happiness is a warm planet”. – Murray Weidenbaum (with the Center for the Study of
    American Business)
    Thanks

  251. Geo says:

    Awesome read! And I particularly like the last few lines pertaining to dietary fat. Since adopting a very low carbon diet nearly 1010 years ago, and not worrying about dietary fat, I lost 100 lbs and improved my health to perfect!

  252. Roger Knights says:

    I would be very interested to hear Richard Dawkins take on CAGW ( I’m not an atheist but I don’t think it matters).

    He’s the author of the 2007 book, The Global Warming Delusion, here:
    http://alfin2100.blogspot.com/2007/03/global-warming-delusion-by-richard.html

  253. Dave Springer says:

    Jantar says:
    November 3, 2011 at 1:47 am

    “You have the Math back to front. Try to work out the probility of that “accident” of nature NOT happening. Only then can you see hown many millions of of times it is likely to happen.”

    Been there, done that. Try reading the book “The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism” by biochemistry prof Mike Behe.

    He’s an old earth creationist, by the way. Catholic variety, as if that makes a difference. It examines what has actually been accomplished, observed not hypothetical accomplishments, in the way of genetic novelty by very intensely studied fast reproducers, HIV virus and P.falciparum in particular. Falciparum, the malaria parasite, is by far the most interesting and other than human beings is the most widely studied organism in the history of biology. Every single year more of these parasites are born, reproduce, and die than all the reptiles and all the mammals that ever lived. Their genomes are completely sequenced and the evolutionary response (or lack thereof) to intense selection pressures is examined in detail. Each reproductive event for these parasites is an opportunity to evolve. So we can compare what an organism in the real world actually accomplishes via random mutation & natural selection compared that to what is purported to have been accomplished as reptiles evolved into mammals. The comparison is a real eye opener for the few neo-Darwinian faithful who are open to actual data that conflicts with their brain-washed beliefs. For those of us who can do the math and assess the probabilistic capacity of RM+NS turning microbes into manatees there are no surprises.

  254. J Bowers says:

    Wow, let’s; pretend the climate’s a linear system and we can suggest with confidence that a century long trend will linearly extrapolate to “no problem this century”; pretend warming events in the early Holocene didn’t result in early civilisations collapsing; pretend all scientific theories are not models at their basest level; pretend that better methods of malaria control never happened. All is well. Not even a mention of ocean acidification, the 40% reduction in marine phytoplankton since the 1950s, or the stratosphere cooling while the troposphere warms which are completely in line with the theory. Even the quip about snowy weather and the BBC ignores the scientific literature demonstrating that more snowstorms happen in the contiguous USA during warmer years, when the BBC is not a scientific institution but seems to be an example of pseudoscience being practised in mainstream science.

    A truly bizarre piece of willful blindness.

  255. Robert Stevenson says:

    Galane says:

    November 3, 2011 at 3:54 am

    ‘This guy needs a good debunking. http://www.skepticalscience.com/ He used to be a webcartoonist,….’

    You clearly haven’t read the article. The pseudoscience of global warming needs debunking.

  256. manacker says:

    Excellent!

    This essay is worth printing out and re-reading at least once a week.

  257. JohnWho says:

    D Johnson says:
    November 2, 2011 at 9:43 pm
    Oh well, at least I can be happy that most don’t disagree with his basic tenet that belief in CAGW is just that, a belief and not established science.

    Amen, brother!

    Oh, uh, oops.

    :)

  258. Sun Spot says:

    @Roger Knights says: November 3, 2011 at 5:18 am

    He’s the author of the 2007 book, The Global Warming Delusion, here:
    http://alfin2100.blogspot.com/2007/03/global-warming-delusion-by-richard.html

    Roger, the on-line bookstores all seem to not know about this book, is this a hoax or for real ?
    If it’s for real where can I get a copy ?

  259. Dave Springer says:

    DesertYote says:
    November 2, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    “My particular favorite is the story of the carnivores.”

    Well, as long as you call it a “story” I can’t really object. I prefer to call them narratives.

    What intrigues me about carnivores, even the true obligates, is that they are removed from being omnivores by lack of a single digestive enzyme. And omnivores are removed from being herbivores simply by choice and availability of complete set of amino acids in plant materials. And they are typically removed from ruminants by lack of a second stomach.

    Now anyone that knows beans about evolution knows it’s far easier for an organism to lose a gene than to gain one and genes lost are far more easily recovered than genes that were never had.

    So how far, genetically speaking, is a lion that eats straw as an oxen, or a wolf that lies down with the lamb?

    Well, for the wolf it’s pretty darn close. Artificial selection of wolves by humans in evolutinary eyeblink of time created livestock guard dogs that do indeed lie down with lambs. And most of who are dog owners know that our animals are not obligate carnivores but can survive quite as well as we can without meat in our diets. The lion eating straw is a bit farther away as it really needs a second stomach for that but it’s only one digestive enzyme away from not being an obligate carnivore.

    What really gets me, in addition to the minor genetic difference between the omnivore and the obligate carnivore, is how quickly predatory animals can lose their prey instinct and live happily amongst other species cooperating with, protecting, and loving them instead of hunting and eating them. Often it takes no more effort than imprinting when the animal is young and innocent and hasn’t had a parent demonstrate hunting, killing, and eating the normal prey.

    I’m not a bible literalist by any stretch of the imagination but my impressions and experience with many different mammals leads to me believe they aren’t very far removed, genetically speaking, from the supposed way they were created for the Garden of Eden, where there was no death or destruction and everything lived together in harmony. That was a real stretch of the imagination for people thousands of years ago but genetics has revealed it’s not really very far removed from the realm of possibility. Even death itself, barring accidents, might be avoided by a few simple things like telomere rebuidling and fail-safe apoptosis. So even immortality might not be something that was very easily lost and not so difficult to regain once you know exactly which mechanisms need fixing.

    Just sayin…

  260. Nuke Nemesis says:

    A quick question, while I understand the limitations on the theory of evolution and agree with much of the criticism of said theory, I don’t see the science in creation science. What is the science of creationism? What makes belief in creation scientific?

    BTW: This isn’t a trick question. The world is too wonderful to be a happy accident — but I recognize that as a belief, not a statement of fact.

  261. Dave Springer says:

    For anyone interested enough to dig further and didn’t recognize the typo that should be apoptosis not apotosis in my previous missive. Apoptosis is programmed cell death. Mitochondria (an organelle in eukaryotic cells with its own bacteria-like DNA) typically monitor a cell for good health and initiate an auto-destruct sequence for unhealthy cells. Cancer cells, one way or another, have the apoptosis mechanism rendered inoperative. I wanted to make sure anyone googling for more information had the word spelled correctly.

  262. Beth Cooper says:

    Sirius, I didn’t know that Socrates spoke French!

  263. Enneagram says:

    BTW: WUWT regular Eduardo Ferreyra, has recently published a book on the climate scam:
    “Clima Feroz” (in spanish) available also as pdf file:
    http://www.lulu.com/product/tapa-blanda/clima-feroz/16050977

  264. Dave Springer says:

    J Bowers says:
    November 3, 2011 at 5:27 am

    “Wow, let’s; pretend the climate’s a linear system and we can suggest with confidence that a century long trend will linearly extrapolate to “no problem this century”; pretend warming events in the early Holocene didn’t result in early civilisations collapsing;”

    Wow. The “early Holocene” was 10,000 years ago (8000BC). What “civilizations” existed that long ago?

    That’s a rhetorical question. Don’t try to answer it.

    I think you might have watched the Flintstones one too many times when you were a chronologic child. Civilzation didn’t appear until the later Holocene circa 3000 BC with the early Egyptian dynasty. Humans were mobile hunter/gatherers before then. Myths like the Lost City of Atlantis aside there is no evidence of any civilzation in the early or even middle Holocene.

    So stop making stuff up and get a clue.

    .

  265. David Byrd says:

    The speech is spot on except for the comment regarding problem invasive species, which at the risk of sounding heretical, is natural part of evolutionary force known as adaptive radiation. Although it is sometimes augmented by anthropogenic mechanisms, it is an essential feature of the continuing evolution of all life forms on our planet. I may be biased, being a resident of the US, as I am part of the invasive species who radiated out from Europe and Asia to find a niche in North America.

  266. Dave Springer says:

    Nuke Nemesis says:
    November 3, 2011 at 6:00 am

    “What is the science of creationism? What makes belief in creation scientific?”

    If the universe wasn’t created then how did it get here?

    At some point most scientists believe in creation. That point is often some 14 billion years ago at the instant of the “Big Bang”. I’m willing to accept that until, if and when, I see convincing evidence to the contrary.

    By law of entropy, unless you’re willing to throw out a fundamental law of thermodynamics or somehow import order into the universe from the outside, the universe is a closed system that came into existence (was created by some mechanism) 14 billion years ago, and must have contained all the order then that it contains now. This is a fundamental requirement of physics. Increases in order in a closed system are extremely improbable. Therefore all the order we observe in the universe today, including me and you and the library of congress, existed at the moment of creation and just fell together into the currrent form like a row of dominoes according to the laws of physics.

    So my question, and I believe it is a perfectly legitimate inquiry into the nature of the universe (i.e. “science”), is where did that information come from? If science cannot answer it that’s fine but I don’t believe it proven that science cannot answer it. I go where the scientific (read empirical and logical) evidence leads and if the evidence leads to a brick wall where the only the only tenable explanation is a creator that’s definitionally outside the scope of observation then so be it. Right now, that’s where science leads me. There’s a brick wall at the instant of the big bang and all the information in the universe today just suddenly appeared. Theoretical physics boffins imagine a multiverse where there are such a large number of different universes, either serially or in parallel, that eventually and inevitably one must appear with initial conditions exactly like ours such that 14 billion years later here we are wondering about it.

    An infinite number of universes doesn’t pass the giggle test for me nor do I believe it passes the Occam’s Razor test. The giggle test actually gets pretty comical. Have you heard of the Boltzmann Brain? It’s basically the theory that if there are an infinite number of universes then a small universe containing a single brain filled with false memories is far more likely than a huge complex universe with 6 billion brains. In other words it’s far more likely that my consciousness is the only one that exists and you are a figment of my imagination – a false memory being played like a video to my unsuspecting brain.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boltzmann_brain

    It’s that kind of silliness we get to when we insist that science must exclude by definition any act of special creation even when that explanation is the only one that’s reasonable.

  267. NetDr says:

    I loved the article. The reference to ball lightning is wrong however.

    I read where a group of scientists were coming back from a conference and a ball of lightning slowly floated the length of the airliner and they believed in it after that.

    True story ? I don’t know.

    My father talked about seeing it inside his home during a thunderstorm. It floated over to the copper screened window and dissipated.

  268. Jim Cripwell says:

    “Dave Springer says:

    November 3, 2011 at 4:22 am

    It is valid to the degree that the discounted factors can alter the result. Whatever degree that might be is called bounding and it’s used to generate error bars.”

    If the discounted factors not only alter the result, but dominate the estimation, and we dont know how much they alter the result, then the error bars could be huge; and the value quoted misleading and meaningless. Now, if someone were to claim that the no feedback climate sensitivity for a doubling of CO2 was 1.2 C -1.2C + 0 C, then I might go along with the estimation. But, on the other hand, might not.

    I would love to know whether you believe that the lapse rate changes when adding CO2 supposedly increases surface temperatures.

  269. VMartin says:

    1. Sun Spot says:
    2. November 2, 2010 at 5:13 pm
    Richard I agree.
    I do not understand why religion and anti-religion have to be dragged kicking and screaming into questions of science.

    It’s nice to see that Anthony has allowed the discussion to take place here that generally has been stimulated by Matt Ridley’s comment that “Evolution is science; creationism is pseudoscience.” Several months ago, I had a comment deleted by a moderator when I made a passing remark that included a reference to something or other being the case ‘depending on what one’s view is of how the universe came into being’, big bang or creation….or something like that (I don’t recall the exact topic). The moderator’s comment to me at the time was that this was a science forum and thus my comment was out of line with the direction of the site. I agree with earlier comments here that equate evolutionary and creation concepts that try to explain the origins of the universe as BOTH being theories as well as beliefs and it is from this perspective that I disagree with the moderator’s rationale for deleting my earlier comment. Very simply, neither can be proven to any degree that is compatible with the principles that science is all about ‘a hypothesis being advanced and tested empirically, the results being demonstrated to be reproducible and the hypothesis being accepted or rejected on this basis’. It is easily understandable that this forum could quickly be reduced to just another crevo debating club with each side presenting its theories and supporting ‘evidences’ that would be presented and countered back and forth…. and the real point and raison d’être of the website would be lost.
    However, what is being discussed and debated is essentially ‘what is the real story with climate and who has the better understanding of it’. I would submit that any understanding of what is being grappled with in the here and now or any projections on what is forecast for the future is highly dependent on what one believes to be the case in the past…..and this naturally includes the topic of ‘origins’. For example, at the extremes one would assume that the if the planet was billions and billions of years old, climate would be far more stable than if one assumes a planet that is only 6,000 years old and somewhere along the line suffered a worldwide flood and thus is still advancing toward stability from a starting point of a few thousand years as opposed to a few billion…. and with this one simple example, the issue of ‘why religion and anti-religion have to be dragged kicking and screaming into questions of science’ becomes apparent.

  270. mkelly says:

    Dave Springer says:
    November 3, 2011 at 7:07 am

    I go where the scientific (read empirical and logical) evidence leads and if the evidence leads to a brick wall where the only the only tenable explanation is a creator that’s definitionally outside the scope of observation then so be it. Right now, that’s where science leads me.

    Exactly. As I stated to Mr. Ghost .. Cooley if you accept the basic laws of science like the first Law of Thermodynamics ie. creating/destroying matter/energy then you are stuck at what/who created the universe we see.

    Even if you want to go to string theory you still get to what made the strings or branes etc. And if you accept large branes bumping into one another creating the universe then that blows the big bang idea that the universe was a point and nothing existed outside it.

    Good work Mr. Springer.

  271. Vinceo says:

    Re: “Sun Spot , November 3, 2011 at 5:58 am

    “@Roger Knights says: November 3, 2011 at 5:18 am. He’s the author of the 2007 book, The Global Warming Delusion, here: http://alfin2100.blogspot.com/2007/03/global-warming-delusion-by-richard.html
    Roger, the on-line bookstores all seem to not know about this book, is this a hoax or for real ?
    If it’s for real where can I get a copy ?”

    It’s a joke; a take off of Dawkins’ book, “The God Delusion”.

  272. squareheaded says:

    Nuke Nemesis says:
    November 3, 2011 at 6:00 am

    “What is the science of creationism?

    Creation is not an “ism”. It is a definition. To “create” is to bring something into existence that did not exist previously. “Ism” is appended as intentional distraction here as it is everywhere.

    What makes belief in creation scientific?”

    Nothing. That would be a contradiction in terms. The scientific method cannot deal with invisible things. Science is very limited when it comes to the things that really matter, the deep things in life – those things beyond trying to make a living as a scientist, e.g.

    Likewise, there is nothing scientific about believing in the science we have and the assumptions upon which it is built. It just seems good, and produces lots of things that people find valuable.

  273. Mr Lynn says:

    Dave Springer says:
    November 3, 2011 at 7:07 am

    If the universe wasn’t created then how did it get here?

    At some point most scientists believe in creation. That point is often some 14 billion years ago at the instant of the “Big Bang”. I’m willing to accept that until, if and when, I see convincing evidence to the contrary. . .

    . . . I go where the scientific (read empirical and logical) evidence leads and if the evidence leads to a brick wall where the only the only tenable explanation is a creator that’s definitionally outside the scope of observation then so be it. Right now, that’s where science leads me. There’s a brick wall at the instant of the big bang and all the information in the universe today just suddenly appeared. . .

    There have been (and are) alternatives to the ‘Big Bang’ hypothesis, going back to the ’50s and the debate between George Gamow (Big Bang) and Fred Hoyle (Steady State). Maybe there was no beginning. A Steady State universe is unsatisfying to those of us reared with creation myths, but conceivably we are prisoners of our own blinkered concepts of Time.

    In any case, it seems to me that the proper attitude of science when it comes to “a brick wall” is not to resort to a deus ex machina, but to scratch its head and say those “three little words” that a commenter cited earlier: “I don’t know.” A Universe with a finite beginning and a Creator may be one speculation, but it is only one, and not necessarily the best one.

    For the empiricist, ‘belief’ is antithetical to science. Theists claim to have other sources of knowledge besides the scientific method, and so can leap over ‘brick walls’, and are free to believe whatever they want. The rest of us can only wonder what’s behind those walls, and keep poking away at them.

    /Mr Lynn

  274. squareheaded says:

    Dave Springer says:
    November 3, 2011 at 7:07 am

    Right now, that’s where science leads me. There’s a brick wall at the instant of the big bang and all the information in the universe today just suddenly appeared.

    Dave, you don’t have to go back that far to find the limitations of science. You can just look out your window, or into a mirror.

    19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
    20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
    21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
    22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
    23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

    I think it hilarious that “the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen”. One has to be stupider than stupid not to see invisible things, according to Romans, chapter 1. They are without excuse with or without a PhD. The real brick wall is verse 21 ff, and is not obstructing you or I, but them.

  275. J Bowers says:

    @ Dave Springer, Neolithic Revolution.

  276. Mike says:

    This guy seems to be a hack. He’s trying to distract you from that by calling others hacks.

    He refers to McIntyre and McKitrick as debunking the “hockey stick,” but their work has been debunked. Talk about water off a duck’s back…

    He argues for low sensitivity by comparing CO2 increases to rise in temperature, but this ignores time delay in the feedback. That’s obviously the important issue. It seems to me his calculation just (sloppily) confirms why the lower bound is set where it is.

    At the beginning, he refers to the harms of climate-change mitigation. He never returns to this point. I suspect because the analyses which point to this are much more tenuous that the arguments for climate change. (The “experts,” who at the beginning he mentioned forecast worse than random picking, tend more to be professionals like economists than professionals like scientists. A chemist, I wager, is pretty good at forecasting what will happen when you mix two solutions.)

    I wish I could follow the links. When I searched for IPCC 1990 projections, I was linked to a paper that showed observed warming is at the high end of the forecasting from the original report.

    Also, google “ocean heat content” to see the deceleration over the past decade he talks about. This is clearly a consequence of the rate of temperature change over the last decade being somewhat slower than the previous. It’s all within the noise of small-time-interval averaging and other recent climate events and I don’t see any reason to forecast based on it.

    This is why I say this guy seems to be a hack. Perhaps soon RealClimate.org will post a thorough, professional criticism.

  277. Hari Seldon says:

    To my reading he did not denegrate the existance of ball lightning, just it’s use as an explanation of crop circles.

  278. squareheaded says:

    Mr Lynn says:
    November 3, 2011 at 8:30 am

    For the empiricist, ‘belief’ is antithetical to science.

    Surely you jest. Science, like mathematics, is founded upon assumptions and axioms, aka, “beliefs” or “faith”.

    Every hundred years or so someone comes along and points out that with this or that assumption, your scientific model fails to adequately describe the reality that the latest instruments can measure.

  279. Tim Clark says:

    “Mike says:
    November 3, 2011 at 8:58 am ”

    Your history precedes you. We know who the hack is.

  280. Jim Masterson says:

    >>
    Dave Springer says:
    November 3, 2011 at 5:22 am

    Try reading the book “The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism” by biochemistry prof Mike Behe.
    <<

    Now you’re bringing out the big guns. In “Darwin’s Black Box,” Behe knew less about evolution than you do. Reading only books by individuals like Behe is a prime example of “confirmation bias.”

    Jim

  281. Mr Lynn says:

    squareheaded says:
    November 3, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Mr Lynn says:
    November 3, 2011 at 8:30 am

    For the empiricist, ‘belief’ is antithetical to science.

    Surely you jest. Science, like mathematics, is founded upon assumptions and axioms, aka, “beliefs” or “faith”.

    Yes, the scientific method depends upon the assumptions that (a) there is a real world ‘out there’, and (b) we can improve our always-imperfect understanding of that world by propounding falsifiable statements about it, and testing them. I suppose you may say that the empiricist ‘believes’ in these assumptions; I prefer to say that he accepts them as a rational, practical basis for action, as opposed to any alternatives.

    The epistemological assumptions underlying the scientific method are different from the axioms of mathematics, which are purely logical constructs that may be developed without any reference to an underlying reality.

    /Mr Lynn

  282. Dave Springer says:

    Advanced Cosmology

    Below is a recent paper from Leonard Susskind. He’s like top shelf amongst theoretical physicists and it’s a short shelf. He shares the shelf with Stephen Hawking but they have different opinions about things and made a famous wager about whether information could be destroyed or even hidden from view forever. Hawking said yes, it could be effectively destroyed by being hidden from sight and causal connection forever from the rest of the universe if it fell into a black hole. Susskind said no, you can’t cheat quantum physics by hiding the information forever, it will eventually be uncovered. After ten years of arguing, with every theoretical physicist in the world throwing in his two cents one way or the other, Hawking admitted defeat and paid off on the bet.

    Susskind is in the habit of explaining his extreme dissatisfaction with accidental universes and while he doesn’t care for the intelligent design alternative he will, when pressed, admit it’s really the only game in town unless and until something superior comes along.

    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/hep-th/pdf/0208/0208013v3.pdf

    Disturbing Implications of a Cosmological Constant

    L. Dyson, M. Klebana, L. Susskind

    Department of Physics
    Stanford University
    Stanford, CA 94305-4060

    Center for Theoretical Physics
    Department of Physics
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Cambridge, MA 02139

    Abstract

    In this paper we consider the implications of a cosmological constant for the
    evolution of the universe, under a set of assumptions motivated by the holographic
    and horizon complementarity principles. We discuss the “causal patch” description
    of spacetime required by this framework, and present some simple examples of cosmologies
    described this way. We argue that these assumptions inevitably lead to very
    deep paradoxes, which seem to require major revisions of our usual assumptions.

    Read more at link above…

  283. Dave Springer says:

    squareheaded says:
    November 3, 2011 at 9:13 am

    “Science, like mathematics, is founded upon assumptions and axioms, aka, “beliefs” or “faith”.”

    It’s worse than they think!

    Western science is based upon the tenet that a rational universe was created by a rational God and populated with rational man, made after God’s own image, who could study and understand the creation.

    The enlightenment itself is based upon that Judeo-Christian principle. The Catholic Church at one time funded all the major scientific institutions in the western world!

    Before this time you had various pagan beliefs like Greek and Norse gods who were whimsical and did whatever they wanted. Mortals were mere playtoys for these gods and it was not possible to understand or predict what they would do next with the world. That world was neither rational, predictable, nor understandable.

    How’s that for an axiom of science?

  284. Bob Moss says:

    “Mike says:
    November 3, 2011 at 8:58 am
    “He refers to McIntyre and McKitrick as debunking the “hockey stick,” but their work has been debunked.”

    So I take it you still have Tijlander upside down or is it the stripbarks that are back under the shell?
    It is hard to keep up.

    Anyway, congratulations on your 500K of stimulus money to finance your communication sabbatical. Why you even have time for WUWT!

    I do have to admit your new job passes the smell test for being shovel ready.

  285. “I do not understand why religion and anti-religion have to be dragged kicking and screaming into questions of science….”

    It is both a religion to adhere to science as it is to pseudoscience. Those who choose to practice the art of science are scientists. They faithfully promote those scientific values and ethics. We all enjoy the fruits of their work.

    Furthermore, the divide between theory “X” and anti theory “X” creates circles of followers. Some followers are only following because they believe in theory “X” or anti-theory “x.”

    From that premise we see the AGW crowd and those who deny such belief.

    The AGW crowd seems to occasionally disperse anger, hatred, and threats of death to those in denial of their cause.

    And so we see a parallel of the AGW faithful and certain other religious faith; for example Islam promotes the destruction of non-believers.

    Consequently, we now have bloggers who are for one science or the other. And we choose between the two sides of an argument. The nasty comments that are condescending, rude, disrespectful, hateful, arrogant, are from which side? It would be revealing to do a comment search to see which crowd exhibits my claims.

    Which side refuses to debate? Which side hides behind political favor?

    Religion has to be part of the mix as it is part of our inquisitive nature to be curious and develop a reason for what we know. Laws are followed by religious consciousness, a belief system that provide an order, scientific or otherwise. Right and wrong. :)

  286. Septic Matthew says:

    Squareheaded: Creation is not an “ism”. It is a definition.

    “Creationism” denotes two things:

    1. The belief that an agent (“God”) created the universe;

    2. The belief that each living species was created as a species, rather than having evolved by random variation and natural selection from earlier populations.

    By counterposing creationism to evolution, Ridley invokes 2.

  287. Roger Knights says:

    Vinceo says:
    November 3, 2011 at 8:13 am
    Re: “Sun Spot , November 3, 2011 at 5:58 am

    “@Roger Knights says: November 3, 2011 at 5:18 am. He’s the author of the 2007 book, The Global Warming Delusion, here: http://alfin2100.blogspot.com/2007/03/global-warming-delusion-by-richard.html
    Roger, the on-line bookstores all seem to not know about this book, is this a hoax or for real ?
    If it’s for real where can I get a copy ?”

    It’s a joke; a take off of Dawkins’ book, “The God Delusion”.

    I just did a quick google and came up with the link to the joke book above, whose content I briefly glanced at, not realizing it was a joke. You seem to be correct, because subsequent googling has turned up links of the sort I expected. For instance, to his site, the Richard Dawkins Foundation (“For Reason and Science”) contains an endorsement of the editorial run three years ago in over 50 papers worldwide calling for action on AGW, here: http://alfin2100.blogspot.com/2007/03/global-warming-delusion-by-richard.html (I’m getting to be an old-timer; I remember when a thread about that editorial was a hot topic here on WUWT.)

    That link was the first one shown in the list of googling for Richard Dawkins global climate change. The dozen or so links right beneath it seem, by their titles, to indicate he’s a conventional warmist, like most of his ilk. Here’s the clickable link to that google search:
    http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=richard+dawkins+global+climate+change&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

  288. Gareth Phillips says:

    A useful guide to expanding the knowledge base. I don’t agree with everything he says (his antagonism against wind power suggests bias) but a remarkable lecture nonetheless.

  289. Septic Matthew says:

    Dave Springer: If the universe wasn’t created then how did it get here?

    We can’t tell. We don’t know. No one knows. We don’t have any testable hypotheses (the existence of the cosmic microwave background supports one hypotheses about an ancient event, but not how it all got there for the event to occur.)

    That can be said many ways.

    The invention of belief to cover the lack of knowledge is a fundamental human trait, but that does not justify any particular belief so invented. The development of modern science and technology has shown that building an epistemology on untestable propositions has a low success rate.

  290. Gary Crough says:

    I could not get past the definition of science and pseudoscience which basically explains … things I believe in are science … things I don’t believe in are pseudoscience.

    When one is following the scientific process they are doing science … if not, they are not doing science no matter what field they work in. When an organic gardener plants 5 varieties of beans to determine which does better under his conditions he is doing simple science (poising a question to nature). If he extrapolates his results to all locations (except as a null hypothesis still needing testing) he is still doing science … very bad science. If he takes the next step and starts controlling variables then he is more of a scientist than 99% of “climate scientist” (who pose their questions to a computer model not nature). I agree with the list of science / pseudoscience but it proves nothing and is less than helpful. Even so, here are a couple more examples:

    1 Computer Science (my field) NOT science. It is 100% human contrived … it is logic, math and a useful field but (with the possible exception of sub-fields like semiconductor physics) not science. .
    2 Scientology is not science it just incorporates “science” in its name; just as fraudulent a move as “computer Science”.

    Maslow (A Theory of Human Motivation) pointed out understanding humans was an important field and should not be rejected as a field of study simply because the scientific tools of physics were not useful. Even so, the “social sciences”, wanting the legitimacy of “science” are hybrids at best. This does NOT make them less useful. What makes them less useful is pretending their findings are scientific when they are not. The basis of Climate Science (human created models) is anti-science … especially when these models are not even adjusted when Mother Nature proves them wrong. Climate “scientists” pose questions to models, not nature, and reject natures answers in favor of models … nothing is more anti-science than that.

  291. Sun Spot says:

    If Matt Ridley (a skeptic) and Richard Dawkins (a true believer) are friends I would like to be a fly on the wall when the atheist adjectives spew from Dawkins mouth.

  292. R. Gates says:

    Matt Ridley is one of my favorite writers and thinkers. I don’t agree with 100% of what he says, but I respect 100% of what he says because it is genuine, rational, and always challenging. If not posted here already, here is an excellent talk of his on TED. Highly recommended:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_ridley_when_ideas_have_sex.html

    Thanks Anthony for posting this. It certainly should be read by skeptic and warmist alike.

  293. bair polaire says:

    Good lecture – but ball lightning is a bad example for balderdash.
    I have five eyewitnesses of ball lightning in my own family. There is important scientific research done on plasma properties that resemble ball lightning. To cite just one example:

    Long-living Plasmoids from a Water Discharge at Atmospheric Pressure / (B. Juettner et al.)
    Abstract: Ball-like plasmoids were generated when discharging a capacitor bank via a water surface. In the autonomous stage after current zero they have diameters up to 0.2 m and lifetimes of some hundreds milliseconds, thus resembling ball lightning in some way.

    http://plasma.physik.hu-berlin.de/publications/ICPIG-2007-Juettner.pdf

  294. R. Gates says:

    SteveSadlov says:
    November 2, 2011 at 6:17 pm
    1.2 deg C is actually a bit generous. Between innate negative feed backs and GCR flux, we’d be lucky to reach a 0.8 deg C rise. The peak may have already occurred and it may be downhill from here.

    ______
    If the were a normal interglacial witha a maximum CO2 level never exceeding 300ppm, you might be correct, or if CO2 and other greenhouse gases were not continuing to rise, you might be correct, or if the paleoclimate data didn’t show around 3C to 4.5C higher temps for similar amount of CO2, then you also might be correct. But given the fact that all these things have happened, or are happening, then you are likely incorrect.

  295. R. Gates says:

    bair polaire says:
    November 3, 2011 at 11:35 am
    Good lecture – but ball lightning is a bad example for balderdash.

    ____
    I don’t think he wasn’t saying ball lightning did not exist. He was saying it was not the cause of crop circles. Certainly Matt Ridley is well studied enough to know that ball lightning is a real, albeit exceptionally rare phenonmenon, studied by real scientists:

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364682610001252

    http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2009/EGU2009-6227.pdf

    etc.

  296. daveburton says:

    I wrote:
    November 2, 2011 at 11:09 am
    “Sure there is, at least with ‘ballpark’ accuracy. Fire up MODTRAN, calculate the predicted output for 300 ppm (pre-anthropogenic), 400 ppm (current), and 600 ppm (doubled) CO2 levels. (Leave the other parameters alone.)…”

    Jim Cripwell replied:
    November 3, 2011 at 2:53 am
    “This is the so called “Plank” method of estimation. It assumes that the structure of the atmospere does not change – e.g the lapse rate does not change, – and that all the estimations can be done by ONLY considering radiation effects. Neither assumption has ever been shown to be valid. If you can give me references as to why these assumptions are correct, I will reconsider my position”

    Jim, I’m not familiar with that “Plank” terminology, but if you go back to Ridley’s lecture you’ll read that he explicitly named the 1.2 C figure as being “with no feedbacks operating.” Temperature lapse rate is just an observed effect, resulting from air circulation & convection patterns, radiation effects, heat transfer via the water cycle, Boyle’s law, etc., all except the last of which are affected by temperature changes. Ridley’s statement explicitly referred to the effect of CO2 alone, exclusive of such feedbacks.

    Of course there are feedbacks operating in the real world: the positive ones that the IPCC identifies (increased temperature -> increased H2O vapor GHG, snow&ice albedo), and the negative ones (increased evaporation -> increased water cycle heat transfer, increased temperature differentials causing increased air movement, etc.). But Ridley was talking about the effect of CO2 by itself, without those feedbacks, as he made clear, so you really shouldn’t criticize him for not taking them into account.

    The IPCC gives the effect w/o feedbacks as a modest +1.2 C for a doubling of CO2 (and Ridley doesn’t argue), MODTRAN calculates a slightly lower +0.89 C. Everyone who calculates it comes up with fairly similar numbers, so Ridley is right that “there is something close to consensus” about it.

    Ridley then goes on to point out that “there is absolutely no consensus about the [supposed] net positive feedback,” and he’s right about that, too.

    Dave

  297. Slacko says:

    Richard S Courtney says:
    November 2, 2011 at 3:57 pm
    “Following my request that the creationists be ignored, the atheists joined in to promote their religion. The contributions of those two irrational groups combined and this thread became swamped with their nonsense.”

    Yes, I noticed that too. Perhaps we should look at one of the pillars of that atheist religion, the evolution that Ridley dragged in.

    Evolution makes much use of radiometric dating to support its required milions and billions of years. The most accurate of these is the carbon kind. Radiocarbon dating relies on measurement of the ratio of C14 to C12, which measure was taken prior to the industrial revolution. The carbon isotopes obtained from a given sample are compared to what is considered to be a stable ratio. But few people give any thought to how that stability is determined.

    It goes something like this: The ratio can be calculated to achieve equilibrium in ~15,000 years. Since the earth is obviously older than 15,000 years, the ratio is therefore in equilibrium. So far so good. Now to prove that something is as old as we’d like it to be, all we have to do is subject it to radiocarbon dating.

    Anywhere else, that would be called circular reasoning, and confirmation bias, and reliance on an assumption. But not so in evolution, because evolution is “science”, and we already know that great age is required to explain the advent of life.

    Several fields of science are currently corrupted by the universal acceptance of false ideas, not just climate science. To the extent that evolution relies on circular reasoning to force God out of the picture, evolution is just another false religion.

  298. R. Gates says:

    Matt Ridley said: “So to say there is a consensus about some global warming is true; to say there is a consensus about dangerous global warming is false.”
    ______

    Indeed, and let’s say, even in a worst case scenario, that the world does warm by 3C to even 4.5C, as we saw during the mid-Pliocene, once all fast and slow feedbacks have fully kicked in. Explain why this would be “dangerous”. But as a start, define what is meant by “dangerous”.

  299. Jim Cripwell says:

    daveburton writes “Jim, I’m not familiar with that “Plank” terminology, but if you go back to Ridley’s lecture you’ll read that he explicitly named the 1.2 C figure as being “with no feedbacks operating.””

    You are absolutely correct. However, in order to estimate the no-feedback sensitivity by this method, there has to be an assumption made that the “structure of the atmosphere does not change”. Otherwise the estimation is impossible to do. There is no justification that I can find for this assumption. The problem is that the surface of the earth does not radiate directly out to space, except for tiny IR windows. Radiation escapes the earth from the TOA, whatever that is. And, if the assumption cannot be justified, then the estimation is just plain wrong. The assumption, so far as I can see, assumes, amongst other things, that there is no change in lapse rate. Clearly, since lapse rate is controlled by convection (and latent heat), if the lapse rate changes, there must be a interaction between the radiation and convection factors, and you cannot estimate no-feedback climate sensitivity by only looking at the effect of radiation..

  300. squareheaded says:

    Mr Lynn says:
    November 3, 2011 at 10:05 am

    The epistemological assumptions underlying the scientific method are different from the axioms of mathematics, which are purely logical constructs that may be developed without any reference to an underlying reality.

    Epistemalarky. The language of science is mathematics. If that is not so, then science has nothing to say.

    I doubt there exists a mathematical system that, given enough time, would not find its way into partly describing some aspect of reality. Advances in mathematics always seem to precede advances in science. Huh.

  301. George E. Smith; says:

    Well I have no interest in getting into the “science” versus “faith” etc irreconcilable argument.

    I would however recommend to one an all, the simple four word caveat: “We don’t know. ”

    And add, that the failure to be able to provide a perfectly rational explanation for some apparently observed phenomenon, does NOT justify the acceptance of a perfectly irrational explanation.

    So just say; “We don’t know.”

    That said, I disagree with a lot of the nonsense that has been bandied about in many of the above posts. Specifically, those that say that “science” and “mathematics” themselves rest on “axioms”, and “faith” and acceptance of “unproven” ideas or concepts.

    For starters, an AXIOM is not something that is accepted on FAITH. It is a simple statement of something that is taken BY DEFINITION to be true NO MATTER WHAT ( as Dr William Schockley would put it). Sets of axioms, along with RULES for manipulation; which themselves are as defined as the axioms make up a system of mathematics (in this case), and nothing that comes out of applying those axioms and rules, is dpendent on FAITH. They are only dependent on the axioms and the rules. The whole lot of it is of course complete fiction; we simply made it ALL up in our heads.
    ALL of mathematics is COMPLETE FICTION;it has no validity outside the set of axioms and rules that defined it in the first place. There is NOTHING in mathematics, that actually EXISTS in the real universe. There are NO points or lines, or circles, or spheres, or any of those things that are common in mathematics.

    x^2 + y^2 + z^2 = r^2 defines a three dimensional sphere, in ordinary Euclidean geometry.

    There is nothing in that equation that would explain the existence of 8 km high mountains on planet earth; but then planet earth is NOT a sphere; nor is anything else in the universe.

    Appartently, there is a theorem due to Kurt Godell that says that no system of mathematics such as described above, that does not contain questions that are legitimate questions within that specific system, but which cannot be decided within the rules of that system.

    We can make up any set of axioms we like, and rules for manipulation; and then simply follw the evolution of that defined universe to see where it leads us. Maybe nowhere useful; but who knows, maybe there is a use.
    Take the following set of axioms:

    1/ Two POINTS define a LINE (which goes through those two points)
    2/ Two LINES define a POINT (where the two lines intersect)
    3/ There are at least FOUR Points.

    I won’t go into the rules, although some are implied in the axioms, such as points being connectable by lines, and lines able to intersect. So evidently this is some sort of plane geometry, as in three dimensional Euclidean geometry, we know there are (straight) lines which don’t come anywhere near each other and never intersect. There are some other more advanced axioms and rules that put some meat on these bones, so that one can talk about plane conic sections; ellipses, parabolas, and hyperbolas, even circles, which are a special case of a conic section.
    Well so you object to any two lines intersecting; parallel lines don’t intersect; well they don’t in Euclidean geometry. But this is NOT Euclidean geometry, and parallel lines DO intersect; it says so in axiom #2, whcih as I said we take as absolute truth BY DEFINITION.

    Well if you ever looked along a long railroad track out to the horizon, they DO intersect, and you know for sure that they ARE parallel.

    So this is called PROJECTIVE GEOMETRY, and per axiom #2, parallel lines DO intersect. They in fact intersect on “The Line at Infinity.”, which by convention one just draws at the edge of the page; pretty much like great artists put it, in their projective images.

    Well I won’t bore you with the details, but ellipses become curves that do not touch the line at infinity, parabolas are curves that do touch the line at infinity at two coincident points, while hyperbolas are curves that cut the line at infinity at two non-coincident points. So what about circles, which in Euclidean geometry are special case ellipses. Well in this projective geometry, circles are defines as curves that intersect the line at infinity at two special points, called the circular points at infinity. Ergo, by definition, in (this) projective geometry, circles are special case hyperbolas, and also all circles intersect each other at the two circular point at infinity.

    The first theorem of this projective geometry, proves the conjecture that there are at least seven (7) points. Axiom #3 only guarantees four points, but we can find three more using just those axioms.

    Within the constraints of this projective geometry, you cannot prove there are any more than seven points; nor that there are not more points. So already Godell’s principle of undecidability rears its head.

    So no; mathematics is not faith; it is pure fiction, and is anything we can develop from some set of axioms and manipulation rules that we decide to accept as true.

    Likewise ALL of (theoretical) science is pure fiction; we simply make up models, and the mathematics necessary to play games with the theory, and describe exacly how our model will behave. But what we aim to do with our models, and theories, and the mathematics we made up to twiddle the knobs on our models, is to come up[ with a model that EMULATES what our experimental observations suggest that the real universe is behaving like. Our theories and models do NOT explain what the universe is doing, that is far too difficult to do; but we can and have constructed models that do a remarkably good job of performing in a manner similar to what we seem to be observing in the real universe.

    So no; there isn’t any blind faith in our science dliberations. We invent the rules and axioms and we construct models according to those rules, and when they behave differently from what our observations say the universe is really doing, well we get out our tool kit, and we reform our model to try and make it behave more like reality.

    Our model has use, only because our mathematics describes exactly what the model can do, and we can look for some matching behavior in the universe, and thus effectively perform experiments that nobody has ever done, with some degree of confidence that reality is not too different.

  302. Peridot says:

    This discussion got off to a good start then got bogged down in religion,pseudo-science vs science and just about everything else. For these may I recommend this (hard-to-get) book?
    “The New Apocrypha – A Guide to Strange Sciences and Occult Beliefs” (1974) by John Sladek

    I enjoyed the article very much but am always puzzled by luke-warmism. I have seen good evidence of CO2 increases following temperature rises, but centuries later. I have seen no evidence of man-made CO2 causing an increase in the residual CO2 and still less of temperature increases being thereby caused.

    Matt Ridley says the first evidence he saw that there was something serious going on with our climate was when he saw Michael Mann’s ‘hockey-stick’ graph. When this proved to wrong (most likely fraudulent) presumably no evidence was left beyond models.

    Is this a case of thinking : CO2 is a greenhouse gas, CO2 traps heat therefore more CO2 must mean more heat is trapped, we produce CO2 therefore our CO2 must be causing any increase and therefore the warming seen in the 1990s. Now, of course, it is causing cooling, flooding, drought, storms even tectonics! I suspect that the Hole-in-the-Ozone Layer people tried to blame our CO2 for it before they blamed CFCs. I suspect these holes are natural as well.
    CO2 is more powerful than we thought.
    There I was thinking CO2 was the at the base of all life and that that job was quite big enough. The more CO2 the better I say.

  303. davidmhoffer says:

    Dave Springer;
    Each reproductive event for these parasites is an opportunity to evolve. So we can compare what an organism in the real world actually accomplishes via random mutation & natural selection compared that to what is purported to have been accomplished as reptiles evolved into mammals>>>

    Balderdash. Taking the rate of mutation of a single species as monitored over a few decades and trying to extrapolate the results to all the species of the earth over billions of years is a statistical fallacy orders of magnitude out of the realm of reality.

    BTW, your rant upthread about species making the jump to bi-sexual reproduction being statistically remote? Single cell organisms of several species are known to temporarily merge, exchange genetic material, and then split apart again. The two “new” cells are not identical genetically either to each other, or to their “parents”. Seems to me the roots of bi-sexual reproduction are “built in”. That changes the odds calculation considerably.

  304. - “Climate Science” = science + emotion => confirmation bias => irrational extrapolation
    – We like science, science is good…. The theory of “Greenhouse effect” that’s science, comparing in a controlled way temperature measurements at specific points from year to year that’s science .. putting it all together into models which don’t produce reliable reporoducable results is not science, adding on emotion and extrapolation on extrapolation is not science.
    – It’s the emotion that leads to confirmation bias ..the key thing is to stick to the science and keep the emotion out of it.
    – The problem is often when we should have the strength to say “we don’t know”, emotion leaps in to fill it the void…. Be strong

  305. Rich Haskell says:

    During a carreer of trying to draw rational conclusions from small statistical samples, I continually had to remind myself of the maxim “Believing is Seeing”

  306. ourson polaire says:

    R. Gates says:
    “I don’t think he wasn’t saying ball lightning did not exist. He was saying it was not the cause of crop circles.”

    True. I misread this – like some commenters before me. Nevertheless, the example of ball lightning shows that a lot of scientist, even the majority, can be wrong for many decades. If they don’t have a good model or explanation they even deny the existence of the phenomenon.

    And if they believe to have a good model and a good explanation (“greenhouse effect”) a lot of scientists might even make up a nonexistent phenomenon: cAGW

    The good thing: time seems to be on the side of scientific truth…

  307. guthrie says:

    First post here!
    Dave Springer – congratulations on giving up trying to expose evolution for being wrong. That’ll save you a lot of hassle, since you’ve wasted so much time on being wrong before.
    And for once I find myself agreeing with Courtney – ignoring creationists is usually a good idea.

  308. Mr Lynn says:

    squareheaded says:
    November 3, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Read what George E. Smith says, in his comment right below yours (November 3, 2011 at 12:33 pm).

    /Mr Lynn

  309. andrewt says:

    Ridley attacks the IPCC for citing (for example) Agassiz, Buys Ballot, Charney, Hawking, Imbrie, Kuhn, Lorenz, Milankovitch, Newton & Popper after basing much of his argument on bloggers – shameless.

  310. squareheaded says:

    Mr Lynn says:
    November 3, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Read what George E. Smith says,

    I HEARD what he said. I am now greatly CONCERNED that when he DIES, WISDOM will perish with him.

    At least three times he explicitly declared that the use of axioms requires the deliberate suspension of disbelief, just like one does for a Hollywood movie, but that in so doing one is not making a statement of belief. Cheshire the cat would be proud. He didn’t really say anything at all.

    And then he said

    ALL of mathematics is COMPLETE FICTION

    I will keep in mind that he said that while he is passing me back change at the drive though.

    Your first clue that someone has no idea what they are talking about is when they judiciously use the pronouns “we” and “our”, speaking for everyone. The second clue is the use of the phrase “all people of some group believe/believed blah blah blah”, as though they’d interviewed them all.

    And, in spite of the fact that the whole universe, both near and far, small part and large, witnesses to the marvelous generosity and understanding of a truly benevolent and apparently invisible Creator, he says that it is irrational to accept such an explanation in the absence of a better one. I am not persuaded that he even knows what rationality is.

    Since he denies the existence of invisible things, I’m certain I don’t want him preparing my hamburgers. You can have them. Keep the change. Hamburgers made with invisible love are so much tastier, and more satisfying to my invisible soul, especially when I give thanks to the invisible God.

  311. George E. Smith; says:

    “”””” squareheaded says:

    November 3, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Mr Lynn says:
    November 3, 2011 at 10:05 am

    The epistemological assumptions underlying the scientific method are different from the axioms of mathematics, which are purely logical constructs that may be developed without any reference to an underlying reality.

    Epistemalarky. The language of science is mathematics. If that is not so, then science has nothing to say.

    I doubt there exists a mathematical system that, given enough time, would not find its way into partly describing some aspect of reality. Advances in mathematics always seem to precede advances in science. Huh. “””””

    Well you are welcome to believe that mathematics is a language, that precedes advances in science. To me it is simply a tool that we dreamed up to allow us to manipulate aspects of our equally fictional models. And the history is quite the reverse of what you claim; new disciplines of mathematics were invented in order to manipulate some newly proposed model in order to see how closely it would match our real experimental observations.
    I submit, that absolutely no mathematics existed during the classical era of Physics, that would lead one; and specifically Max Planck to arbitrarily ordain that radiant energy; which previously was described by continuous analog functions based on the laws of electromagnetism (Maxwell’s equations); should instead be replaced by a purely digital description, of energy packets of discrete size h.nu (Greek letter).

    The equipartition theorem of classical thermodynamics, allowed for a continuous differentiable function for the equi-partitioned energy per particle. Sir James Jeans found that the same model applied to radiant energy, lead to the “ultra-violet “catastrophe”” where we all would be fried by an infinite amount of high energy gamma radiation.

    Planck fixed that by simply asserting that instead of a continuous analog function; the equi-partitioned energy be replaced by a digitally quantized discontinuous and not differentiable function.

    As for your other point; I can tell you that one of the chief protagonists of Projective Geometry, took great delight in assuring his students, that he was quite sure the system had absolutely no practical applications; and was of academic interest only. Nonetheless, you can if you want to prove all of the classical theorems of Euclidean Geometry, including the nine point circle theorem, using projective geometry.

    And axioms do not have to be proven to be true; they are true (within the confines of the mathematical system they define); by definition . You do not have the option of rejecting them; for then you would be discussing a totally different sytem of mathematics.

    But I would be interested to see your short list say the top ten items from your favorite system of mathematics, that actually exist somewhere in the known universe.

  312. George E. Smith; says:

    “”””” squareheaded says:

    November 3, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Mr Lynn says:
    November 3, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Read what George E. Smith says,

    I HEARD what he said. I am now greatly CONCERNED that when he DIES, WISDOM will perish with him.

    At least three times he explicitly declared that the use of axioms requires the deliberate suspension of disbelief, “””””

    Well square, I don’t know where you came from; but please do not state that I explicitly declared something; when in fact I said no such thing.

    Perhaps you could point to where in any of my posts I stated ” that the use of axioms requires the deliberate suspension of disbelief, ”

    I have never in my entire life used that phrase; whatever it is supposed to mean.

    So if you are citing some post of mine; please USE MY WORDS; they mean precisely what I intended them to mean.

  313. - Confirmation bias helps explain “green mathematics”, whereby any negative is “certain to be the worst” i.e. temperature rise, sea-level rise etc. And any positive also is certain to be at the extreme end.. apparently windfarms and PV solar are incredibly efficient and will make us lots of money.

  314. Jessie says:

    Roger Knights says: November 3, 2011 at 4:57 am
    Andrew says:
    November 2, 2011 at 1:44 pm
    AMSU is showing massive drops in temps would not be surprised to see November in great negative anomaly AGW is finished.

    Well, it’ll be another arrow in the elephant. But it’ll take another seven-month’s worth of such arrows–large negative anomalies (thru June)–to make him wobble and force the trendies to bail off the castle on his back.

    Hey, hey hey… us enlightened ones dug pits, lined the pits with sharpened stakes and waited for the stampede.
    It was a bit more work heaving the carcass pieces upwaards, but the feast [and associated activities] were memorable. Millenia of tales support this. :)

  315. Shevva says:

    Mike says:
    November 3, 2011 at 8:58 am

    ‘This is why I say this guy seems to be a hack. Perhaps soon RealClimate.org will post a thorough, professional criticism.’

    You want a criticism about the scientific method? Climate science is the place to find it I surpose.

  316. Graphite says:

    Just a short question . . .
    What do the initials RSA stand for?
    I’m guessing Royal Society something, but that’s no use if I want to send a copy of this speech to my MP* and a journalist or two who could use a dose of sanity.
    Where I live, RSA means just one thing — Returned Services Association; a bunch of ex-soldiers who play lawn bowls, drink beer and complain about young people . . . roughly the equivalent of the British Legion or America’s Veterans of Foreign Wars. Not much chance of my intended recipients reading anything on climate change if they think it’s from that lot . . . which they will.
    Strangely, the scientific RSA website gives no clue, not one, as to the name behind the initials. Are they so famous, so entrenched, that it’s assumed everyone will automatically know their identity without having it spelled out . . . like Brangelina?

    *member of parliament

  317. Richard S Courtney says:

    Graphite:

    You ask at November 4, 2011 at 6:16 am :
    “Just a short question . . .
    What do the initials RSA stand for?”

    Please see the link Anthony provides above in his UPDATE that says ;
    “For background on this prestigious lecture, here is the lecture web page, and here is what RSA is all about and the history since 1754.”

    The Royal Society for the promotion of Arts and Commerce (RSA) is a venerable institution with an illustrious past and an active present in its work to benefit society. Its Fellows combine to determine, aid and develop all forms of academic and business activity. (I have the honour of being one of its Life Fellows).

    Richard

  318. Graphite says:

    Thank for that Richard. And congratulations on being a Life Fellow.

    BTW: I did see the link Anthony provided . . . not only saw it, used it. Used all three links in fact. Perhaps I suffer from some sort of blindness but, despite vigorous searching, not once did I see the name of the institution spelled out in full. It was like playing a bizzaro world version of Where’s Wally.

  319. Werner Brozek says:

    “Slacko says:
    November 3, 2011 at 12:00 pm
    Radiocarbon dating relies on measurement of the ratio of C14 to C12,…..It goes something like this: The ratio can be calculated to achieve equilibrium in ~15,000 years.”

    It is nothing like this at all. Radiocarbon dating uses the fact that the half life of C14 is 5730 years. Your C14, and that of all life, compared to C12 is fairly constant. There have been minor differences throughout the ages, and these are known and accounted for in determining the age of a deceased life form. So when scientists exam an old bone and find the C14 is half that of a live being, it is assumed the bone’s owner died 5730 years ago since no C14 enters a body on death. If the C14 is 1/4 as much, the death occurred 11,460 years ago, etc. By the way, dinosaur bones have no C14, so they died AT LEAST 10 half lives or AT LEAST 60,000 years ago.
    However believing in an old earth of 5 billion years does NOT mean you cannot believe in the Bible at the same time. Dr. Hugh Ross believes in both a universe that is 13.7 billion years old and he believes that if the Bible is interpreted properly, science and the Bible can be reconciled. If you are interested in more, see: http://www.reasons.org/

    Werner Brozek (retired physics teacher)

  320. Mark Bahner says:

    The theory that someone other than Shakespeare wrote those plays, Oxford or otherwise, is not pseudoscience. It’s an unproven hypothesis with insufficient evidence to be declared either true or false, like many historical conjectures

    I would go even further. Occam’s razor suggests Edward de Vere was “Shakespeare.”

  321. Mark Bahner says:

    In 1975, Encyclopedia Britannica (15th edition) commented that, “Edward de Vere became in the 20th century the strongest candidate proposed for the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays.”

    So the Encyclopedia Britannica apparently engages in “pseudoscience.” Who knew? ;-)

  322. Peter Buch says:

    The characterisation of religion as pseudoscience lacks arguments, I think, a great part of what I would use to define religion is not measurable things and makes no claim to being regarded as a science.

    My argument is that …religion, …is and always has been plagued by the temptations of confirmation bias. With alarming ease it morphs into pseudoscience even – perhaps especially – in the hands of elite experts and especially when predicting the future and when there’s lavish funding at stake. It needs heretics.
    I agree.

  323. Myrrh says:

    davidmhoffer says:
    November 3, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    …upthread about species making the jump to bi-sexual reproduction being statistically remote? Single cell organisms of several species are known to temporarily merge, exchange genetic material, and then split apart again. The two “new” cells are not identical genetically either to each other, or to their “parents”. Seems to me the roots of bi-sexual reproduction are “built in”. That changes the odds calculation considerably.

    Don’t forget the snails!

    Mark Bahner says:
    November 5, 2011 at 10:14 pm
    In 1975, Encyclopedia Britannica (15th edition) commented that, “Edward de Vere became in the 20th century the strongest candidate proposed for the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays.”

    So the Encyclopedia Britannica apparently engages in “pseudoscience.” Who knew? ;-)

    Of course it does, pushes AGW greenhouse and the nonsense that shortwaves are thermal.

    And the de Vere re-write of history is just pathetic. Can’t have an oik not of the nobility produce such great works, can we? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_de_Vere,_17th_Earl_of_Oxford

    There’s nothing in his unstructured, indecisive life of a courtier with money problems that shows him capable of such a vast and brilliant output. He was certainly well known then as a patron of the arts and had books dedicated to him and bought a theatre which he ran for a time and ran a troupe of actors, and wrote a few poems, who didn’t, but more importantly, he wouldn’t have hidden such a prodigious talent if he’d had it and it would have been very well known by everyone at the time.. He would have been lauded for it.

    “In the summer of 1578 Oxford attended the Queen on her progress through East Anglia.[103] The royal party stayed at Lord Henry Howard’s residence at Audley End from 26–31 July, where Gabriel Harvey dedicated his Gratulationes Valdinenses to the Queen. The volume consists of four ‘books’, the first addressed to the Queen, the second to Leicester, the third to Lord Burghley, and the fourth to Oxford [Edward de Vere], Sir Christopher Hatton, and Philip Sidney. Harvey’s encomium to Oxford is double-edged, praising his English and Latin verse and prose while encouraging him to ‘put away your feeble pen, your bloodless books, your impractical writings’.[104]

    A wannabe writer..

    Oxford also had a high reputation as a poet amongst his contemporaries, and his verses were published in several poetry miscellanies. Of his 16 canonical poems, his modern editor Steven May says that they are the ‘output of a competent, fairly experiement poet working in the established modes of mid-century lyric verse.’[253]

    Contemporary critics such as Webbe and Puttenham praised his poetic ability, and the latter quoted his verses:[254]

    (Untitled)
    When wert thou borne desire?
    In pompe and pryme of May,
    By whom sweete boy wert thou begot?
    By good conceit men say,
    Tell me who was thy nurse?
    Fresh youth in sugred ioy.
    What was thy meate and dayly foode?
    Sad sighes with great annoy.
    What hadst thou then to drinke?
    Vnfayned louers teares.
    What cradle wert thou rocked in?

    In hope deuoyde of feares.

    Can you see any William Shakespeare in that?

    Thought not…

    Shakespeare authorship questionMain article: Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship
    In Shakespeare Identified, published in 1920, J. Thomas Looney, an English schoolteacher, proposed Oxford as a candidate for the authorship of Shakespeare’s works. His theory was based on perceived analogies between Oxford’s life and poetic techniques in Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets. It supplanted an earlier popular theory involving Francis Bacon. Academic consensus rejects alternative candidates for authorship, including Oxford.[255]

    Good grief.

  324. rwdurda says:

    Dave Springer says:
    November 3, 2011 at 7:07 am

    Dave, to me at least (I’ve been away from this Phil 470 stuff far too long) this multi universe collapse into solipsism is really quite provocative . I recall Descartes got himself into that “Boltzmann Brain” with his universal doubt. I’m curious if you would agree with Rene’s technique to get out of that dream world and recover some of his real ontological (hint, hint) status?

    Ron

  325. markbahner says:

    “Can you see any William Shakespeare in that”?

    Can you see any Shakespeare in this?

    “Good Friend, for Jesus’ sake forbear
    To dig the dust enclosed here:
    Blessed be the man that spares these stones,
    And curst be he that moves my bones.”

    That’s on the *gravestone* of the actor. His *gravestone*. He probably had years to think about what should be on his gravestone, and that’s what he came up with. Good grief, indeed!

    Who do you think wrote the sonnets of “Shakespeare”? The actor/commoner of Stratford upon Avon? If so, who was the “Fair Lad”? And who were the sonnets dedicated to; i.e. who is W.H.?

    Explain these phrases and why the actor/commoner would write them:

    Or I shall live your epitaph to make,
    Or you survive when I in earth am rotten,
    From hence your memory death cannot take,
    Although in me each part will be forgotten.
    Your name from hence immortal life shall have,
    Though I, once gone, to all the world must die:
    The earth can yield me but a common grave,
    When you entombed in men’s eyes shall lie.
    Your monument shall be my gentle verse,
    Which eyes not yet created shall o’er-read;
    And tongues to be your being shall rehearse,
    When all the breathers of this world are dead;
    You still shall live, such virtue hath my pen,
    Where breath most breathes, even in the mouths of men.–Sonnet 81

    No more be grieved at that which thou hast done,
    Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud,
    Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,
    And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.
    All men make faults, and even I in this,
    Authorizing thy trespass with compare,
    My self corrupting salving thy amiss,
    Excusing thy sins more than thy sins are:
    For to thy sensual fault I bring in sense,
    Thy adverse party is thy advocate,

    “Thy love is better than high birth to me” – Sonnet 91

    “Speak of my lameness, and I straight will halt” – Sonnet 89

  326. Myrrh says:

    markbahner says:
    November 7, 2011 at 10:53 am
    “Can you see any William Shakespeare in that”?

    Can you see any Shakespeare in this?

    “Good Friend, for Jesus’ sake forbear
    To dig the dust enclosed here:
    Blessed be the man that spares these stones,
    And curst be he that moves my bones.”

    That’s on the *gravestone* of the actor. His *gravestone*. He probably had years to think about what should be on his gravestone, and that’s what he came up with. Good grief, indeed!

    Short and to the point… Most likely written by his friends wanting to protect his genius’ mortal remains.

    You’re really trying to make a case that some competent but non-descript verses from Edward de Vere are equal to the brilliance and inventive mastery of language that Shakespeare shows in his great plays and sonnets? Hmm, why? Are you related to Looney?

    That not much is known about Shakespeare doesn’t mean that nothing is known about him, so any wannabe pretender to his genius is scuppered from the start. Or, as this is a science blog, your claim should never have been made, it is falsified by known facts.

    http://absoluteshakespeare.com/trivia/biography/shakespeare_biography.htm

    “Ben Jonson criticizes and then praises William by name.

    Further proof of authorship comes in the form of a poem by Ben Jonson, one of the Bard’s more friendly rivals, which criticizes the playwrights dramatic plays. It is contained within a work entitled Discoveries (also known as Timber) dated 1641. Despite his criticism, Ben Johnson paradoxically also said that Stratford’s famous Bard’s works were timeless, describing them as “not of an age, but for all time”.”

    And:

    http://shakespeare.about.com/od/thesonnets/a/sonnet.htm

    “It is not known exactly when Shakespeare wrote his sequence of 154 sonnets, but the poems’ language suggests that they originate from the early 1590s. It is believed that Shakespeare was circulating his sonnets amongst his close friends during this period, as clergyman Fancis Meres confirmed in 1598 when he wrote:

    “…the sweete wittie soule of Ouid liues in mellifluous and hony-toungued Shakespeare, witness … his sugred Sonnets among his private friends.” “

    Who do you think wrote the sonnets of “Shakespeare”? The actor/commoner of Stratford upon Avon?

    Yes of course the actor/commoner of Stratford on Avon! What, you think a commoner couldn’t write? Commoners went to school and studied Latin and the Classics. It was a changed world by that time, the Black Death had dealt a very hard knock to those whose living was built on keeping others in serfdom and poverty, the noble despots began to have to pay to get their fields planted and harvested.. and that money often went into acquiring land, a whole different class appeared from all this change, Shakespeare’s family among them.

    If so, who was the “Fair Lad”? And who were the sonnets dedicated to; i.e. who is W.H.?

    &

    Explain these phrases and why the actor/commoner would write them:

    Or I shall live your epitaph to make,
    Or you survive when I in earth am rotten,
    From hence your memory death cannot take,
    Although in me each part will be forgotten.
    Your name from hence immortal life shall have,
    Though I, once gone, to all the world must die:
    The earth can yield me but a common grave,
    When you entombed in men’s eyes shall lie.
    Your monument shall be my gentle verse,
    Which eyes not yet created shall o’er-read;
    And tongues to be your being shall rehearse,
    When all the breathers of this world are dead;
    You still shall live, such virtue hath my pen,
    Where breath most breathes, even in the mouths of men.–Sonnet 81

    As to who W.H. was? The most obvious answer is that no one knows. It was a dedication by the publisher and the most likely W.H. was Will himself and the H a misprint because of how the dedication reads, the immortality of his verse is a recurring theme of Shakespeare’s, and the publisher wishes this same immortality for them which Shakespeare wished for himself.

    The whole body of Shakespeare’s works have been thoroughly studied, cherry picking some lines and misunderstanding Shakespeare’s meaning so completely can only come from people who haven’t understood, and probably haven’t read, him.

    Here’s a look at what his publisher was referring to:

    http://lindasuegrimes.suite101.com/shakespeare-sonnet-81-a72652

    “Sonnet 81 offers a glowing tribute to the speaker’s poems. He often extols the virtue of his own poetry, because he is certain it will live long after he is gone.
    In sonnet 81, the speaker addresses his poem, as he often does.

    First Quatrain: “Or I shall live your epitaph to make”
    In the first quatrain, he proposes two ideas: he will live to write the epitaph for his poetry, or his poetry will outlive him. He chooses to believe and act on the latter, because “From hence your memory death cannot take.”

    Even though the speaker, who lives in a physical body, must eventually die, death cannot take away his sonnets once he has written them. While the writer of the sonnets will be forgotten, the works themselves will remain eternally.”

    Read more at Suite101: Shakespeare Sonnet 81: ‘Or I shall live your epitaph to make’ | Suite101.com http://lindasuegrimes.suite101.com/shakespeare-sonnet-81-a72652#ixzz1d452WFpm

    Do you see the connect? It seems to me that Shakespeare was as much in love with his own works as his enduring audience of them since.. I can only imagine what it is like to have such a wonderful gift, but clearly he had support and encouragement from his friends and some of those among the ‘nobility’, and patronage by royalty itself.

    I’d like to think that though de Vere would be flattered some think him capable of such genius, which his own verses clearly don’t show, he would be noble in his distaste for those who think rank equals superiority to such an extent that robbing a man of his genius is not seen as theft. An issue of the time, among some, that oiks have no right to be clever, but all it shows is the smallness of their own minds which no cloak of nobility can hide.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakespeare

    It is not known exactly when Shakespeare began writing, but contemporary allusions and records of performances show that several of his plays were on the London stage by 1592.[26] He was well enough known in London by then to be attacked in print by the playwright Robert Greene in his Groats-Worth of Wit:

    …there is an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tiger’s heart wrapped in a Player’s hide, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you: and being an absolute Johannes factotum, is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a country.[27]

    Actors becoming writers of plays! Whatever next. Directing their own films? Sour grapes by a writer of less talent is never good taste.

    And the good bishop above was being sarcastic against an upstart commoner showing such superior skills, he it seems wasn’t among Shakespeare’s friends to whom Will sent his verses.. Do you know how one got to be a bishop at that time?

    So, that’s my take on it. Make of it what you will.

    Now you have a go:

    No more be grieved at that which thou hast done,
    Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud,
    Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,
    And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.
    All men make faults, and even I in this,
    Authorizing thy trespass with compare,
    My self corrupting salving thy amiss,
    Excusing thy sins more than thy sins are:
    For to thy sensual fault I bring in sense,
    Thy adverse party is thy advocate, [Sonnet 35]

    “Thy love is better than high birth to me” – Sonnet 91

    “Speak of my lameness, and I straight will halt” – Sonnet 89

    A sometimes troubled relationship with his Muse? Not unaware of the disdain from some so called nobility at the time?

  327. Gary Mount says:

    Shevva, you should read what Matt Ridley has to say about ‘honourable’ scientists that have devoted their life’s to a [belief] system that has become threatened by scientific scepticism.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/11/01/thank-you-matt-ridley/

  328. Graphite says:

    Gary Mount says:
    November 8, 2011 at 3:37 am
    Shevva, you should read what Matt Ridley has to say about ‘honourable’ scientists that have devoted their life’s to a [belief] system that has become threatened by scientific scepticism.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/11/01/thank-you-matt-ridley/

    ***********************************************************************************

    Gary,

    I’m compelled to point out that your link takes us to the very posting we are currently reading.

  329. Rune C. Olwen says:

    I have an “X” for you:
    the model as such.
    If there was an acceptance of the “Gaia”-model of Earth, it would be easier to explain: Just like a smaller living being there is homoestasis, which means more comlicated procedures than the buffer capabilities in a chemical reaction.
    One of your data mentions 7000 years ago, which was the time when the Middle East became as dry as it is now – I have not found out why when I researched it at school 40 years ago.
    But that climate change brought humans to develop our technical culture.
    So there is change, and the many humans nowadays may or may not be crucial whether the earth can stay in a condition to sustain life or not (= find a new equilibrium).
    I do not want you to believe (as I do) that earth will resemble Venus soon, I do want you to consider the question: HOW MUCH and how many of each is it, the ecosphere can cope with?
    Humans, CO2, methane…
    overfishing, destroying plant coverage and instead making streets…
    No medical doctor is able to say with 100% security that each of his/her patients will live or die.
    No climatologist should be too sure the earth can tolerate us.
    I am sorry that I have not had enough time since I retired to be able to express that in mathematical ways.

  330. Frank Kelly says:

    Matt Ridley’s main point?
    “So what’s the problem? The problem is that you can accept all the basic tenets of greenhouse physics and still conclude that the threat of a dangerously large warming is so improbable as to be negligible …”

    So Mr. Ridley accepts AGW. He makes that clear here and in a number of places in the speech. His only quarrel is with the probability, the RISK of dangerous consequences which he suggests is “negligible”. This is the same man who, as chairman of Northern Rock, presumably thought the risks his financial institution was taking were minimal and that the consequences were negligible. Should Matt Ridley be seen as a good risk assessor of climate change given this track record of risk assessment? Are the mathematics of investment and banking like the mathematics of climate science?
    Matt Ridley may be a fine zoologist and science writer but there is something lacking in how he reaches his conclusions about risk.
    Perhaps this would throw some light on where he and his banking friends go wrong.
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=a-formula-for-economic-calamity

    He adds “I also think the climate debate is a massive distraction from much more urgent environmental problems like invasive species and overfishing.”

    Aren’t those very URGENT environmental problems part and parcel of climate change? Aren’t these problems being studied as consequences of AGW? Again there is a major disconnect here.

    Matt Ridley cheerleaders here, when they have finished gushing and blubbering, should go to the Richard Dawkins website which has posted Ridley’s speech, and read Jos Gibbons’s comments where he takes almost every point Ridley makes and skewers it rationally, elegantly and with gusto. They should also read the revelations in other comments there about Ridley’s aristocratic family’s holdings in coal mining and shale fracking.

    Matt Ridley sounds more like an English, upper-class crackpot than a scientific heretic and, really, isn’t there something self-pitying about his self-designation “heretic” and his invocation of his proud heretical ancestry? His Old Nick ancestor was an ardent theist, as big a crackpot as the other theistic clowns who did him in. Cries of “martyrdom!” in 21st century scientific world sound like whining about his crackpot ideas not being given respect.

    REPLY:
    And with your last paragraph, you sound like a Occupy Wall Street whiner. It was fine that you have objections and points, but with that last paragraph you can bugger off – Anthony

  331. Mike Jonas says:

    Frank Kelly – You now may not be permitted to reply to this (no-one’s fault but your own), but I’ll make the following points anyway.

    You say “So Mr. Ridley accepts AGW. He makes that clear here and in a number of places in the speech.“.

    Please note, that is the common position of most (but maybe not all) people here. The arguments are over the scientific evidence, the scale of AGW, whether its effects are damaging or beneficial, the futility of the efforts to stop it, the corruption of the scientific process by the IPCC, etc. It’s an intriguing discussion, for those that are happy to join in (reasonably) politely and discuss ideas on their merits. Not all agree on all things, not by a long way, but everyone is welcome to make a rational case for their view.

    You talk about Northern Rock, Matt Ridley’s finances, the class system, coal mining, shale fracking, and religion. I fail to see how any of these are relevant to climate science.

    You also say “go to the Richard Dawkins website … read Jos Gibbons’s comments where he takes almost every point Ridley makes and skewers it rationally, elegantly and with gusto“.

    The Jos Gibbons comment you refer to is presumably this one: http://richarddawkins.net/articles/643807-thank-you-matt-ridley/comments?page=2#comment_888762
    For those who aren’t interested enough to follow the link, here are some of his points:
    “It is a fact anthropogenic emissions cause, literally, more than 100 % of current warming.”
    “If you accept the basic tenets of greenhouse physics you are led to the models, whose predictions of past and present climate and ocean and air currents, whose predictions contradict the things Ridley thinks you can still conclude in the case of literally all models that include CO2 (those that do not cannot achieve the aforementioned accurate predictions), and which Ridley later excludes from thoe things he is willing to accept as evidence. This shows how much of the physics he really accepts.”
    “Tree rings are the one temperature measurement that generally do not show warming because tree ring thickness peaks at a temperature intermediate of the range that has recently occurred, leading to temperature estimates at high temperatures being underestimates. This is why, if you compare on a graph the curves from all methods, the tree ring values approximately mirror the recent temperature changes rather than matching them, while said other methods all agree quite closely. “Hiding the decline”, a term climate sceptics love to pretend refers to a form of deceit, is a statistical technique for getting around this problem. Far from bristlecone pines being a bad species to focus on among trees, they are if anything the only sane man in the bunch, as shown by the wealth of other methods that unambiguously show a large recent warming.”
    “The radiative forcing due to CO2 has consequently gone through the roof since 1880. How do we know how much that component has risen? Because of satellite readings, which measure not just not energy flux but its wavelength breakdown. That CO2 absorption dominates the changes in the flux patterns is incontestable. Most discussions of evidence like this focuses on the atmosphere, but we have had a similar empirical success in our analysis of the oceans.”
    “Long story short, “it was warmer then [the middle ages] than now” is only true in certain regions, whereas overall it is false. What was that about cherry–picking, Ridley?”
    “Long story short: the hemispheres differ in their land to ocean ratio, which affects how much energy each hemisphere absorbs. While this is why the Northern hemisphere has born the brunt of recent warming, if by “significant” Ridley means “statistically significant” he is lying. While the Southern hemisphere has warmed less than the Northern one, that both hemispheres have warmed is not in any doubt.” This was in reply to Matt Ridley’s “There has been no significant warming in Antarctica” – note Jos Gibbons’ switch from Antarctica to Southern Hemisphere.
    “not only is his claim tropical storms have reduced in frequency seem to be wrong … but his mortality rate comparison overlooks our developing ways of protecting ourselves from the ravishes of nature. Note he didn’t say droughts or floods are becoming rarer, which is what he hopes you infer, as it needs to be true for him to be saying anything relevant climatologically. But whether or not you infer that claim, it’s wrong.”
    “Again, he neglects our advances in combating natural dangers. Anopheles mosquitoes are moving closer to the poles.” This was in reply to In response to Matt Ridley’s “Malaria has retreated not expanded as the world has warmed.”.
    “Putting aside whether any non–model empirical data shows [unprecedented change or change is that is anywhere close to causing real harm], be it examples I brought up above or not, models are valuable. We’re talking about models that are theoretically direct consequences of physics and have been empirically successful, in sharp contrast with everything “dissenters” have ever developed. Why then casually dismiss all their as yet unverified predictions?”
    “the claim a certain type of weather can be expected to become more frequent in the future is either true or false, and in this case it is true and well–evidenced, though of course not by that weather event itself.” There is no obvious “this case” in the Matt Ridley comment being replied to, which cited “Hurricane Katrina, Mount Kilimanjaro, the extinction of golden toads”.
    There are a few pages more.

    Skewered, rationally and elegantly? Hmmm.

  332. VoxPop says:

    Alchemy was science in its time, so was astrology.
    Each era thinks it’s really nailed it & it now knows the Truth.

  333. Dale B. says:

    Individuals all have their personal thresholds of belief. When they receive sufficient information to push them over their threshold, they become believers subject to confirmation bias. We are also herd animals – social creatures that value what others think of them and manipulative of the opinions of others.

    What we need is a new paradigm where dissent is tolerated and catalogued for later retrieval . The late author Michael Crichton gave a very good speech (I think at Cal Tech) which condemns science by consensus. He says that science by consensus is simply bad science. There are many examples of bad science, some of which are included in the article and some which are not.

    I disagree with the author’s position relative to several of the “pseudosciences” listed. I still believe I can be rational about my investigation of these things, declared pseudoscience by him, but obviously I am subject to the follies of my own belief structure. I may at some point change my point of view as did the author. If sufficient facts, which I find credible, come to light, I may change again. At one time I was uncritical of global warming, but now I am convinced otherwise.

    It is probably to my shame, but I am at this point a decided skeptic with regard to [SNIP: Dale, your statement is mild enough, but several of these topics are on the list of things that Anthony preferred not be discussed here and just mentioning them seems to provoke a great deal of exhortation and argument, derailing the thread, as we've already seen here. Sorry. REP] and anthropogenic global warming, to name a few. Name-calling to encourage me to join the herd has, so far, been ineffective. I will hold onto my theories until I am convinced of my error. It’s a personal matter. I don’t pretend to be knowledgeable enough about any of these subjects to convince anyone else, so pose little threat to others and so far, it has not become a litmus test for my career or freedom, so I am fortunate that I live where I do, when I do.

  334. Ramon Leigh says:

    Mike Jonas interprets Ridley’s claim that there has been no significant warming” as meaning
    no “statistically significant warming,” a very different claim and one that is clearly at odds when one syas “significant.” He means significant, as in “appreciable, or not small.” “Statistical significance” is often the most confusing of statements, since it DOES NOT imply that the
    proven difference is “significant ” at all. Statistical significance merely proves that the difference is non-zero. Often, especially when large samples are used, very trivial differences can be “statistically significant” while those same differences exhibited in smaller samples would not achieve “statistical significance.

  335. Mike Jonas says:

    Ramon Leigh – I think you may have misread my quoting of Jos Gibbons as my own statement. Easily done, the comment wasn’t laid out very well.

    Matt Ridley said “There has been no significant warming in Antarctica*, with the exception of the peninsula.
    Jos Gibbons as quoted in my comment said “if by “significant” Ridley means “statistically significant” he is lying” which is the bit I assume you attribute to me.
    My comment on Jos Gibbons’ statement didn’t address “significant” but “Jos Gibbons’ switch from Antarctica to Southern Hemisphere”.

    Maybe I should have italicised the Jos Gibbons quotes, but then they could still have got mixed up with other things.

  336. Jack Foster says:

    I posted this on my facebook page, and was called out on this Ridley claim. Any justification for this? What did Hansen really say in 1988?

    “Remember Jim Hansen of NASA told us in 1988 to expect 2-4 degrees in 25 years. We are experiencing about one-tenth of that.”

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