A question for Oreskes – But what do we mean by consensus?

Guest essay by Christopher Monckton of Brenchley

Politicians pay for science, but scientists should not be politicians. Consensus is a political concept. Unwisely deployed, it can be damagingly anti-scientific. A reply to Naomi Oreskes (Nature, 4 September 2013).

Subject terms: Philosophy of science, consensus, climate change

The celebrated mathematician, astronomer and philosopher of science Abu Ali Ibn al-Haytham, or Alhazen, is justly celebrated as the founder of the scientific method. His image appears on Iraqi banknotes and on the postage stamps of half a dozen nations of the ummah wahida.

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Al-Haytham on a 10,000-dinar Iraqi banknote. Image source: banknotes.com.

Al-Haytham, unlike Naomi Oreskes,[1] did not consider that consensus had any role in science. He wrote that “the seeker after truth” does not put his trust in any mere consensus, however venerable: instead, he submits what he has learned from it to reason and demonstration. Science is not a fashion statement, a political party or a belief system.

The objective of science, as of religion, is truth. Religion attains to the truth by accepting the Words of Messiahs or of Prophets and pondering these things in its heart[2]. Science attains to the truth by accepting no word as revealed and no hypothesis as tenable until it has been subjected to falsification by observation, measurement and the application of previously-established theory to the results.

The Royal Society’s dog-Latin motto, Nullius in verba, roughly translates as “We take no one’s word for it”. The Society says, “It is an expression of the determination of Fellows to withstand the domination of authority and to verify all statements by an appeal to facts determined by experiment.”[3] No room for consensus there.

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The Royal Society’s achievement of arms and dog-Latin motto. Image source: The Royal Society

T.H. Huxley, FRS, who defeated Bishop Wilberforce in the debate over evolution at the Oxford Museum of Natural History in 1860, put it this way: “The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, scepticism is the highest of duties: blind faith the one unpardonable sin.”[4] Richard Feynman agreed: “Science,” he said, “is the belief in the ignorance of experts.”[5]

Karl Popper[6] formalized the scientific method as an iterative algorithm starting with a general problem. To address it, a scientist proposes a falsifiable hypothesis. During the error-elimination phase that follows, others demonstrate it, disprove it or, more often do neither, whereupon it gains some credibility not because a consensus of experts endorses it but because it has survived falsification. Head-counts, however expert the heads, play no part in science.

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Left to right: T.H. Huxley (cartoon by Spy), Karl Popper (ivanjeronimo.com.br), and Richard Feynman (swfan444.deviantart.com).

The post-modernist notion that science proceeds by the barnacle-like accretion of expert consensus on the hulk of a hypothesis is a conflation of two of the dozen sophistical fallacies excoriated by Aristotle[7] 2350 years ago as the commonest in human discourse. The medieval schoolmen later labelled them the fallacies of argument ad populum (consensus) and ad verecundiam (appeal to reputation).

Science has become a monopsony. Only one paying customer – the State – calls the tune, and expects its suppliers to sing from the same hymn-sheet. Governments, by definition and temperament interventionist, are disinclined to pay for inconvenient truths. They want results justifying further intervention, so they buy consensus.

The Hamelin problem is compounded by a little-regarded consequence of nearly all academics’ dependency upon the public treasury. Those whom the State feeds and houses will tend to support the interventionist faction, and may thus give a spurious legitimacy to a political consensus by parading it as scientific when it is not.

Too often what is really a political consensus will be loosely defined with care, allowing its adherents to pretend that widespread scientific endorsement of an uncontentious version implies support for a stronger but unsupported version.

Consider climate change. The uncontentious version of the climate consensus is that greenhouse gases cause warming. Oft-replicated experiment establishes that the quantum resonance that interaction with near-infrared radiation induces in a greenhouse-gas molecule, such as carbon dioxide, emits heat directly, as though a tiny radiator had been turned on. Thus, adding greenhouse gases to the air will cause some warming. Where – as here – the experimental result is undisputed because it is indisputable, there is no need to plead consensus.

The standard version of climate consensus, however, is stronger. It is that at least half the global warming since 1950 was anthropogenic.[8],[9] Supporters of the uncontentions version need not necessarily support this stronger version.

Though IPCC (2013) has arbitrarily elevated its level of confidence in the stronger version of consensus from 90% to 95%, Cook et al. (2013),[10] analyzing the abstracts of 11,944 papers on global climate change published between 1991 and 2012, marked only 64 abstracts as having explicitly endorsed it. Further examination[11] shows just 43 abstracts, or 0.3% of the sample, endorsing it.

No survey has tested endorsement of the still stronger catastrophist version that unless most CO2 emissions stop by 2050 there is a 10% probability[12],[13] that the world will end by 2100. The number of scientists endorsing this version of consensus may well be vanishingly different from zero.

The two key questions in the climate debate are how much warming we shall cause and whether mitigating it today would cost less than adapting to its net-adverse consequences the day after tomorrow. There is no consensus answer to the first. The consensus answer to the second may surprise.

Answering the “how-much-warming” question is difficult. Models overemphasize radiative transports, undervalue non-radiative transports such as evaporation and tropical afternoon convection, and largely neglect the powerfully homoeostatic effect of the great heat-sinks – ocean and space – that bound the atmosphere.

Absolute global temperatures have varied by only ±1% in 420,000 years[14]. Will thermometers be able to detect the consequences of our altering 1/3000 of the atmospheric mix by 2100?

Uncontroversially, direct radiative warming at CO2 doubling will be the product of the instantaneous or Planck parameter[15] 0.31 K W–1 m2 and the CO2 radiative forcing[16] 5.35 ln 2: i.e., ~1.2 K. Models near-triple this value by temperature feedback amplification. Yet no feedback can be measured directly or determined theoretically. Feedbacks may even be net-negative.[17],[18]

Another uncertainty is introduced by the amplification equation in the models, which was designed for electronic circuits, where it has a physical meaning. In the climate, as the singularity at a loop gain of 1 approaches, it has none. In a circuit, feedbacks driving voltage to the positive rail flick it to the negative rail as the loop gain exceeds 1. In the climate there is no such physical mechanism.

The chaoticity of the climate object is an additional, insuperable uncertainty.[19],[20] The IPCC admits this: “In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system and, therefore, that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”[21]

The atmosphere, like any object that behaves chaotically, is highly sensitive to initial conditions. The available data will always be inadequate to allow reliable prediction – especially by probability distribution in model ensembles – of the chaos-driven bifurcations that make climate climate.

Given these real uncertainties, the IPCC’s claim of 95% consensus as to the relative contributions of Man and Nature to the 0.7 K global warming since 1950 is surely hubris. Nemesis is already at hand. Empirically, the models are not doing well. The first IPCC Assessment Report predicted global warming at 0.2-0.5 Cº/decade by now. Yet the observed trend on the HadCRUt4 data[22] since 1990, at little more than 0.1 Cº/decade, is below the IPCC’s least estimate.

Taking the mean of all five global-temperature datasets, there has been no global warming for almost 13 years, even though CO2 concentration increases should have caused at least 0.2 Cº warming since December 2000.

Given the Earth’s failure to warm as predicted, and the absence of support for the IPCC’s version of the climate consensus, its 95% confidence in the anthropogenic fraction of the 0.7 Cº warming since 1950 seems aprioristic.

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No global warming for 12 years 8 months. Data sources: GISS, HadCRUt4, NCDC, RSS and UAH.

So to the economic question. Posit ad argumentum that the IPCC’s central estimate of 2.8 Cº warming from 2000-2100 is true, and that Stern[23] was right to say the cost of failing to prevent 2-3 Cº warming this century is ~1.5% of GDP. Then, even at a zero inter-temporal discount rate, the cost of abating this decade’s predicted warming of 0.17 Cº[24] by CO2-mitigation schemes whose unit mitigation cost is equivalent to that of, say, Australia’s carbon tax will be 50 times the cost of later adaptation.

How so? Australia emits just 1.2%[25],[26] of global anthropogenic CO2. No more than 5% of Australia’s emissions can now be cut this decade, so no more than 0.06% of global emissions will be abated by 2020. Then CO2 concentration will fall from the now-predicted 410 μatm[27] to 409.988 μatm. In turn, predicted temperature will fall, but only by 0.00005 Cº, or 1/1000 of the minimum detectable global temperature change. This is mainstream, consensus IPCC climatology.

The cost of this minuscule abatement over ten years will be $162 billion[28], equivalent to $3.2 quadrillion/Cº. Abating just the worldwide mean warming of 0.17 Cº predicted for this decade would cost $540 trillion, or $77,000/head worldwide, or 80% of ten years’ global GDP[29]. No surprise, then, that in the economic literature the near-unanimous consensus is that mitigation will cost more than adaptation[30],[31]. The premium vastly exceeds the cost of the risk insured. The cost of immediate mitigation typically exceeds by 1-2 orders of magnitude that of eventual adaptation.[32]

Accordingly, Oreskes’ statement that “Political leaders who deny the human role in climate change should be compared with the hierarchy of the Catholic church, who dismissed Galileo’s arguments for heliocentrism for fear of their social implications” is not only scientifically inappropriate but historically inapt: for no political leaders “deny the human role in climate change”, though some may legitimately doubt its magnitude or significance; and none impose any such opinion upon their citizens.

It is the true-believers in the New Religion of Thermageddon who have demanded that their opponents be put on trial for “treason” (Robert Kennedy), and for “high crimes against humanity” (James Hansen, NASA)[33]. The penalties for treason and for crimes against humanity are not the house arrest to which Galilei was sentenced, but death. Insistence upon consensus has often bred the most brutal kind of intolerance.

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Galileo Galilei. Image source: content.answcdn.com.

The true lesson of l’affaire Galilei, then, is that the governing class, then the high priests of Rome, now the acquiescent archdruids of academe and their paymaster the State, should not intolerantly abuse their power, then of theology, now of monopsony reinforcing peer-pressure rebranded as consensus, by interfering in scientists’ freedom to be what al-Haytham had beautifully called them: seekers after truth.

References


[1] Oreskes, N, 2013, Nature 501, 27–29 (05 September 2013), doi:10.1038/501027a.

[2] Luke II, 19: King James Bible.

[3] http://royalsociety.org/about-us/history/

[4] Thomas Henry Huxley (1825–95), Aphorisms and Reflections, selected by Henrietta A. Huxley, Macmillan, London, 1907.

[5] Feynman, R., What is Science?, 15th annual mtg. National Science Teachers’ Assn., New York (1966), in The Physics Teacher 7:6 (1969).

[6] Popper, K., Logik der Forschung, (Julius Springer Verlag, Vienna, 1935).

[7] Aristotle, Sophistical Refutations, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 52 pp. (2012).

[8] IPCC, 2001. Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis: Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Houghton, J.T., Y. Ding, D.J. Griggs, M. Noguer, P.J. van der Linden, X. Dai, K. Maskell and C.A. Johnson (eds.)], (Cambridge University Press, 2001).

[9] IPCC, 2007. Climate Change 2007: the Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007 [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Avery, M. Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)], (Cambridge University Press, 2007).

[10] J. Cook, D. Nuccitelli, S.A. Green, M. Richardson, B. Winkler, R. Painting, R. Way, P. Jacobs, and A. Skuce, Environ. Res. Lett. 9 (2013), doi:0.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024024.

[11] Legates, D.R., W.W.-H. Soon, W.M. Briggs, and C.W. Monckton of Brenchley, Sci. Educ. 22 (2013), doi: 10.1007/s11191-013-9647-9.

[12] Stern, N., The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review. Cambridge University Press (2006).

[13] Dietz, S., C. Hope, N. Stern, and D. Zenghelis, World Economics 8:1, 121-168 (2007).

[14] Petit, J.R., Jouzel, J., Raynaud, D., Barkov, N.I., Barnola, J.-M., Basile, I., Bender, M., Chappellaz, J., Davis, M., Delaygue, G., Delmotte, M., Kotlyakov, V.M., Legrand, M., Lipenkov, V.Y., Lorius, C., Pepin, L., Ritz, C., Saltzman, E., and Stievenard, M., Nature 399: 429-436 (1999).

[15] IPCC (2007), p. 631 fn., where the value is given as a reciprocal in W m–2 K–1.

[16] Myhre et al., GRL 25:14, 2715–2718 (1998), doi:10.1029/98GL01908.

[17] Lindzen, R.S., and Y.-S. Choi, Asia-Pacific J. Atmos. Sci., 47:4, 377-390 (2011), doi:10.1007/s13143-011-0023-x.

[18] Spencer, R.W., and W.D. Braswell, Remote Sensing 3, 1603-1613 (2011), doi:10.3390/rs3081603.

[19] Lorenz, E.N., J. Atmos. Sci. 20, 130-141 (1963).

[20] Giorgi, F., 2005, Climatic Change 73, 239-265 (2005), doi: 10.1007/s10584-005-6857-4.

[21] IPCC (2001, §14.2.2.2).

[22] C.P. Morice, J.J. Kennedy, N.A. Rayner, and P.D. Jones, JGR 117:D8 (2012), doi: 10.1029/2011JD017187.

[23] Stern (2006 op. cit.), ix.

[24] Derived from IPCC (2007 op. cit.), 803, Table 10.26.

[25] Boden and Marland, Global CO2 Emissions from Fossil-Fuel Burning, Cement Manufacture, and Gas Flaring, 1751-2007, Carbon Dioxide Information and Analysis Center, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA (2010a).
[26] Boden et al., Ranking of the world's countries by 2007 total CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel burning, cement production, and gas flaring, Carbon Dioxide Information and Analysis Center, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA (2010b).

[27] Derived from IPCC (2007 op. cit.), p. 803, Table 10.26.

[28] Derived from Wong, P., Portfolio Budget Statements 2010-11: Budget-Related Paper No. 1.4. Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Portfolio, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, Australia (2010).

[29] World Bank, Gross Domestic Product 2009, in World Development Indicators 2009. http://siteresources.worldbank.org/DATASTATISTICS/Resources/GDP.pdf.

[30] Tol, R., J. Econ. Perspectives 23:2, 29-51 (2009a).

[31] Tol, R., An analysis of mitigation as a response to climate change, Copenhagen Consensus Center, Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark (2009b).

[32] Monckton of Brenchley, C, 2013, Is CO2 mitigation cost-effective? In Proceedings of the 45th Annual International Seminar on Nuclear War and Planetary Emergencies, World Federation of Scientists [A. Zichichi and R. Ragaini, eds.], World Scientific, London, 167-185 (2013), ISBN 978 981 4531 77 1.

[33] Happer, W., Letter to the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming (2010 June 22): http://republicans.globalwarming.sensenbrenner. house.gov/Media/file/PDFs/Hearings/052010Science_Political_Arena/Response_Happer.pdf.

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137 thoughts on “A question for Oreskes – But what do we mean by consensus?

  1. Why doesn’t the Obama USA just use its secret court system to put skeptics in camps and be done with it.

    Can’t be that important if they don’t even bother.

  2. A sorta sad story for a sunny Saturday AM,Lord Monckton. I remember wayyyyyy back in HS chemistry,where an errant student flopped her experiment(just a baby bang). Her first words where,”oh my.That’s not right.My method must be bad.” While others laughed,our teacher stood up and awarded her A on the spot.When one of the increduolous students asked why she got an A for failure,he simply answered….because she has demonstrated the traits of a real scientist. She admmited her failure,and not that she was terribly wrong,but that her hypthosesis was wrong,and needed further research and study.
    Where have these teachers and students gone?

    Mr.Watts…what happened to the preview option?

  3. Given these real uncertainties, the IPCC’s claim of 95% consensus as to the relative contributions of Man and Nature to the 0.7 K global warming since 1950 is surely hubris. Nemesis is already at hand.
    ……………………
    The true lesson of l’affaire Galilei, then, is that the governing class, then the high priests of Rome, now the acquiescent archdruids of academe and their paymaster the State, should not intolerantly abuse their power, . . . .

    Beautiful.

  4. Reblogged this on Power To The People and commented:
    Barack Obama is using Climate Change “consensus” as the justification for shipping as many high paying manufacturing jobs overseas as possible, closing down power plants, and bankrupting the coal industry. The only people benefiting are the elite Green Liberal: bureaucrats, academia, alternative energy capitalists and the media class who promote their lies and fear tactics to the Democratic Party in power. The people hurt the most by these anti development fossil fuel policies are the poor who these elitiest green hypocrites claim to be on the side of.

    http://wp.me/p7y4l-lnm

    http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2013/09/05/mainstream-german-media-lashes-out-at-energiewende/

  5. It’s like the percent of relative truth( .).In order to increase your percentages of truth you change some part of the equation and run the model till it works.
    Thanks for the interesting articles and comments

  6. I am almost tempted to cut these warmists some slack. After all, all they know and understand is “consensus”. All their political experience is rooted in “let’s put this to a vote.” So of course when the majority rules, the decision is made, there is no need for further discussion on the topic. Politicians, consensus builders, debating teams, judge and jury situations… it’s all the same. The idea that their majority decision is incorrect is only a vague, distant possibility that is hardly worth considering and besides, that’s just sore loser talk to them. I would recommend the warmists take at least one 101-level course in one of the hard sciences (physics, chemistry, etc,) before they start forcing their belief system upon us, but I’m sure they have no interest in listening to my suggestions.

    Like I said, I am ALMOST tempted to cut them some slack.

  7. Perhaps the real experiment to determine if reducing CO2 will reduce temps is not to detect increased temps through an elevated CO2 environmant but rather to take a control of ambient atmosphere and a test of reduced CO2 to see if reducing CO2 will reduce temps

  8. All of the reference links I have tried [1], [2], [3], [4], … [8]… Give me Page Not Found.
    The Link Reference look like Relative References to documents on someone’s C Drive. as in:
    ….. AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/Temporary%20Internet%20Files/……

  9. “Fifty years on, history has not vindicated Jeffreys, and it seems unlikely that it will vindicate those who reject the overwhelming evidence of anthropogenic climate change. — Naomi Oreskes (Nature, 4 September 2013).

    But Jefferys was in the consensus for ~50 years, it’s disingenuous to portray him as representative of the skeptics instead of the consensus. If the evidence were truly overwhelming no one would have to claim consensus in attempt to persuade, one would just cite the evidence. The hypothesis’ lack of predictive skill in observable net positive feedbacks (missing hotspot, missing outgoing LWR depression, etc.) are the missing evidence needed for the CAGW meme to truly gain consensus by “overwhelming evidence” instead of politics.

    The article was actually quite good until the article went off into climate change religion apology. Early on the comment is made:

    “But the arguments for continental motions did not gel until the 1960s, when a drastic expansion of geophysical research, driven by the cold war, produced evidence that reopened and eventually settled the debate.” — Naomi Oreskes (Nature, 4 September 2013).

    So, in Naomi Oreskes’ own words the debate on plate tectonics was settled due to EVIDENCE not CONSESUS. But then she calls for us to believe the debate on climate change should be settled because of consensus instead of evidence.

    Just a reminder on why one side doesn’t get to proclaim when the debate is over/settled:

    http://nofrakkingconsensus.com/2009/10/13/on-saying-the-debate-is-over/

  10. Rod McLaughlin asks what the “Hamelin problem” is. He who pays the piper calls the tune, and the city of Hameln, in Niedersachsen, Germany, is where the Pied Piper played. So, in the context, by mixing a metaphor or two, one gets the Hamelin problem: that the State pays the scientists and expects them to sing from the same hymn-sheet.

    Fact is that by spending so much on windmills and suchlike fooleries they’re pulling the rug from under the hand that lays the golden eggs.

  11. “PaulH says:
    September 7, 2013 at 8:48 am

    Like I said, I am ALMOST tempted to cut them some slack.”
    =================================================================
    Agreed. Give them enough rope and tey’ll hang themselves :-)

  12. Socially speaking, what Monckton points out is at least as worrisome as what he tells us about the state of “science” in this post-modern era. I mean, in the early 17th Century, the average person had a concrete reason to put faith in the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. The whole foundation of their authority was Divine Revelation, and Apostolic Succession. Faith was precisely what they taught, and hence what they required of their followers. That was what everyone was taught to understand.

    Today’s Hierarchy of Science, however, ought NOT to inspire the same display of faith. Their (supposed) superiority over the Ecclesiastical luminaries that they have replaced is PRECISELY “that all things must be proven, and not taken on faith;” nor should “truths” be received because uttered by a Voice of Authority.

    My observation is that very many people, university educated, have unquestioning Faith in the Scientific Hierarchy just as people in 1600 were suppsed to have unquestioning Faith in the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. Oddly, it seems (again, just based on my observation, not on any valid study), that the degree of Blind Faith increases with the number of years spent in Education. People with a High-School education (or less) seem much less gullible in this regard than the average _baccalaureus_ or post-grad degree holders.

    One is tempted to weep at the irony.

  13. Tyranny of Consensus: Liga v. Galileo
    The tyranny of “consensus” was demonstrated by the Aristotelian academicians against Galileo (not initially the church). In A Brief History of Eternity, Physicist Roy E. Peacock discovered that the Liga, a secret conspiracy of academicians, used false accusations to bias Galileo’s friend, Pope Urban VIII against him, turn him over to the Inquisition, and put him under house arrest.
    Peacock, A Brief History of Eternity p 141.; Notes on Science and Christian Belief Ch 1, p 10
    See also Charles E. Hummel, The Galileo connection (1986) p 92, 94. ISBN-13:978-0877845003

    Disgruntled professors at Pisa now allied themselves with a set of courtiers at Florence in a secret and loosely organized resistance movement known as the Liga. The leading figure was Florentine philosopher Ludovico delle Colombe. . . . Nicknamed the “pigeons” (colombi) after their leader, that academic group comprised the “conspiracy” of which Galileo often spoke. . . .Disappointed by their failure to break through Galileo’s lines on the fronts of physics and astronomy, the Liga adopted a new strategy. Carrying the attack into court circles, they would make his discoveries a religios issue.

  14. They have invested to much politically and financially in the politically established UNFCCC since the early 90′s? Al Gore, Gro Harlem etc etc….

  15. And when logic and scientific principles gets in the way of UNFCCC logic and scientific principles have to yield?

  16. Thanks for the citation to Karl Popper and Aristotle. Popper spends much of the early pages of The Open Society and Its Enemies railing against Platonism, its Forms and Ideals as leading to authoritarian tribalism against the individual. I see a broad move to Aristotelian relativism in physics, cosmology and the philosophy of science.

  17. The greatest flaw in post-normal science and the precautionary principle is that the near total inversion of falsification turns the very act of investigating a concern into a reason to act. Correlation is treated as “close enough” to causation. It is a superstition generating machine veiled in (pseudo)science.

    Once someone fails to show concrete proof that action could never be necessary, related post-normal “science” springs up around it, new crises that never will be as reasons to stop a crisis that never was.

  18. We (today’s scientifically-knowledgeable skeptics) are repeatedly told/threatened with the words: “Well, then, if you disagree with “CO2 causes climate change” then, “Show us YOUR theory”. Show us exactly how your supposed “natural climate change” works and what causes your “natural climate change” to vary temperature in today’s world. If you have no mechanism, then “natural climate change” cannot exist in today’s world.”

    Seems to me that Oreskes just provided the answer to her religion’s own problem: In 1924, plate tectonics was operating just as it does now, and plate tectonics was operating in 1924 just as accurately and as completely as it had been working since the original plates cooled 3-1/2 billion years ago.

    But the correct answer in 1924 to the question of “continental drift” and mountain formation and erosion was “I don’t know.” The correct answer was NOT “scientific consensus says ….”

    The correct answer in 1871 to the problem of light and electromagnetism in a vacuum was “I don’t know.” Not “the aether” or “particles moving like waves through space”.

    The correct answer in 1890 to the world’s heat loss problem into space was “I don’t know.” Not a 6000 year old earth, nor a 1 million year old earth. That radioactive decay and the E-M theory of electromagnetism were unknown does NOT mean they did not work, and it did NOT mean that they were working improperly nor unpredictably. It only meant that WE did not know how to make them work for us, in our language and with our apparatus of the time. The stars still flicker for the same reason they blurred Galileo’s first telescope, but it is only now that we know the engineering and materials and controls and optics to move the telescope so the flicker is momentarily “stopped.” But the flicker has never “stopped”. It’s just that we have improved our instruments enough to detect it, predict it, and correct for most of it. As a result, the distant stars and planets THAT ALWAYS WEER PRESENT are now more clearly seen!

    Copernicus’ orbital circles were wrong. The first elliptical orbits were not quite right either! But the evidence for elliptical orbits around a focus point remained. And, in fact, the original theory of epicycles around epicycles with everything spinning around the earth was actually more accurate than Copernican orbital circles. Scientific consensus was wrong for 3000 years. The “scientific models” used for 3000 years were dead wrong. Yet for 3000 years they were logically and theoretically completely right, and proved right by that same logic and theory by every means that scientific consensus knew of! And these “scientific theories” (almost) worked exactly right anyway. Most of the time.

    We “discovered” the true structure of the atom ONLY when the true scientists measuring particles that bounced off of a thin gold foil believed their data. Their “battleship shells” actually did “bounce off of tissue paper.” Oreskes’ “modern scientists” would have DELIBERATELY ignored those flashes of light as each nuclei impacted the detector BECAUSE those flashes did not fit their theory of how the atom was designed. Worse, she would never have even permitted other people to have LOOKED at those high angles because her theory holds that no [articles could have rebounded at those angles.

    And, if she would have been on the “scientific” committee approving grants, she would have been the first to deny Rutherford, Roentgen, Becquerel, Fermi, Hahn. Meitner and others funding for any other experiments! What they found through their experiments was NOT predicted by theory before the experiments. The DATA did not fit the theory, so the theory was wrong.

    Not today. Today, the trajectories would not have been seen. And, if seen, would have been erased by the model.

    And those missed trajectories – that tragedy of missed data – is the reason Oreskes will never truly “earn” a Nobel prize, nor will any of today’s so-called climate scientists” ever discover how the world’s climate actually works. She – her type – doesn’t WANT to go look for answers. They think they ARE the answers.

  19. Lord M. Says: “… near-infrared radiation…”

    Thought we were talking long wave the 15 micro.

    Near-infrared NIR, IR-A DIN 0.75–1.4 µm

  20. I get it. However, I’m confused by one thing. When/How does a guess become a hypothesis, and when does a hypothesis become a Theory? We have this “thing” called the “Big Bang Theory.” It hangs on the entire concept of CONSENSUS. Even wiki says it’s “the prevailing model…”

    Doesn’t prevailing sound like consensus?

    My point is: almost every scientific conclusion is consensus. Sometimes the consensus reaches 100%! THEN it becomes a Scientific Law. And even THEN it’s only a law as we define/observe it in our limited scope of existence! So it’s all consensus…

    • “My point is: almost every scientific conclusion is consensus. Sometimes the consensus reaches 100%! THEN it becomes a Scientific Law. And even THEN it’s only a law as we define/observe it in our limited scope of existence! So it’s all consensus…”
      The criteria is not (or should not become) consensus of beliefs or opinions. The criterion is supposed to be the ability to demonstrate the causality as far as necessary, and the inability of any other researcher to disprove it.

      So the Big Bang is just an article of faith amongst people who “can’t imagine” anything different. It isn’t a Law, just a consensus belief. It may have been legitimately considered a “Theory” (I think) based on mathematically “rewinding” the cosmos (as it has been observed) according to known laws of physics. I don’t see how it can rationally be subjected to an attempt to falsify it, though! And the more weird “tweaks” that have to be added to make it “work” –as better instrumentation shows disharmonious observations– tend to indicate to me that what made some sense based on observations 50-70 years ago doesn’t make much sense anymore. When cosmologists have to add a “fudge factor” of 2000% to known properties of physical matter/energy, I think it’s time to just say “I don’t know.”

  21. gnomish says:
    ”there is, however, a dispute:
    adding antifreeze to the cooling system does not make it run hotter”

    Indeed, adding more radiative components to the atmosphere doesn’t intuitively suggest a warmer atmosphere, but it does intuitively suggest a increased share of heat transfer by radiation through the atmosphere and thus supports the estimated 3.7 W/m2 increase in down welling LWR, which also intuitively would suggest an increase in outgoing LWR. As it would happen, that’s exactly what is observable:

    http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/image_thumb25.png?w=624&h=488

    Of course, atmospheric radiation physics is hard:

    Why does the stratosphere cool when the troposphere warms?
    Filed under: Attic — gavin @ 7 December 2004 – ()
    This post is obsolete and wrong in many respects. Please see this more recent post for links to the answer.
    14/Jan/05: This post was updated in the light of my further education in radiation physics.
    25/Feb/05: Groan…and again.

    [bolds added]

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/why-does-the-stratosphere-cool-when-the-troposphere-warms/

    Stratospheric cooling being one of those enhanced GHE “fingerprints” that just happened to stop circa 1995. Hmmmm.

    The evidence for CAGW is best described as underwhelming in 2013.

  22. Uncontroversially, direct radiative warming at CO2 doubling will be the product of the instantaneous or Planck parameter[15] 0.31 K W–1 m2 and the CO2 radiative forcing[16] 5.35 ln 2: i.e., ~1.2 K. Models near-triple this value by temperature feedback amplification. Yet no feedback can be measured directly or determined theoretically. Feedbacks may even be net-negative.[17],[18

    This is the crux of the problem. Nice Post my Lord.

  23. The evidence for CAGW is best described as underwhelming in 2013

    Perhaps you could lay out you engineering quality proof then? Right here, right now would be good.

  24. John West on Oreskes getting the idea of consensus backwards.

    Absolutely right about her missing the point completely. I started working in 1965 tracking Navy Navigation satellites and on a host of satellites that were gathering geodesy data. We started noticing that our permanent stations were drifting over several year periods. By 1970 I was looking at some of the young guns theories and data on plate tectonics. Our stations operated by New Mexico State University staff and students were placed in a large number of spots around the globe. They seemed to be following these proposed plate movements in direction and magnitude was small (but sometimes as much as 6 cm over several years) buried in a lot of noise. I knew very little about these new theories but I did know there was a lot of kick back from some of the top scientists in the field. I agreed with some of the young ones who were also looking at some of their own data.

    It is clear that the data won the day. Opinions were pretty cheap and I happened to have my own that in the end agreed with the final theory. Of course I was watching my own set of data that finally was used to help prove the theory. Consensus in the 1960s and early 70s looked a lot like consensus on AGW is right now. Monckton of Brenchley basically has it right about being careful about consensus and at looking carefully at the data. Again, these days, I have my own opinion but it is based on data and not models. I suspect we will be proven to be correct based on this growing body of data. But you don’t have to believe me!

    Bernie

  25. Engineers don’t believe in scientists. They use Euclidean geometry because its propositions stand demonstrated, not because they believe in Euclid. There is a gulf of understanding between believers and those who use science.

    • Right, Mr. Ditchfield!
      “Q.E.D.” is the only magic formula that makes any sense. It doesn’t matter how big a Wizard’s hat might be if he can’t conjure this one!

  26. Regarding consensus, we shouldn’t chuck out the baby with the bathwater. When an ideal scientist tries to answer a question, (s)he doesn’t rely on any consensus over it. So far, so good.

    But consensus can be a result and symptom of scientific progress. After all, if there is only one true answer to any well-phrased question and all scientists should independently seek it, then they should end up in agreeing with each other, in spite of their independence. There are endless examples of eventual success here, such as the broad agreement among today’s scientists on the existence of atoms, evolution, radioactive decay, black holes and plate tectonics.

    But most of the public has no time to wade through the science behind all this, so recognizing consensus among scientists can be a shortcut to the truth. In fact, even scientists often don’t have the time for more than a brief look into the evidence behind conclusions from foreign fields. There are probably no scientists on Earth who know the science behind everything they believe right down to first principles. If every scientist in the world spent their time trying to achieve this, they’d have no time to research. We live in an age where a thorough understanding of all science is simply impossible in a human lifetime. And climate science is certainly interdisciplinary. It combines the overlapping but academically separate fields of physics, chemistry, biology, systems theory, sociology, geology, ecology and others.

    Rather than be perfectionists, we need to live, which means solving problems in limited time and with incomplete information. If you’re hurtling through the sky with a parachute in you’re backpack you shouldn’t insist on reading up Newton’s law of action and wind resistance before opening it. It is enough to know that trustworthy people have told you that you would profit from opening it. If you have seen other people parachute, that’s a bonus. So many people make do with a premise like: “If most people who have studied a matter draw the same conclusion, then it is quite likely to be true.” Of course we must be wary of group-think and not mistake scientists for paragons of reason, but I’ve looked into Climategate in some detail and find that a number of scientists both believe in AGW and respect the scientific method. Tom Wigley, for example, who refuses to sign a ‘pro-AGW’ petition but disagrees with Kevin Trenberth about not being able to track the heat in the Earth system.

  27. Bruckner8 says:
    September 7, 2013 at 10:20 am

    I get it. However, I’m confused by one thing. When/How does a guess become a hypothesis, and when does a hypothesis become a Theory? We have this “thing” called the “Big Bang Theory.” It hangs on the entire concept of CONSENSUS. Even wiki says it’s “the prevailing model…”

    Doesn’t prevailing sound like consensus?

    My point is: almost every scientific conclusion is consensus. Sometimes the consensus reaches 100%! THEN it becomes a Scientific Law. And even THEN it’s only a law as we define/observe it in our limited scope of existence! So it’s all consensus…

    ===========================================================================
    Mr. layman here. As I understand it, to become a “valid” scientific consensus rather than a political consensus, the “guess” must have some experimental or observational test that would show the “guess” to be wrong or maybe close to “right”. When enough have actually tried to prove the “guess” wrong but failed, then “prevailing” or “consensus” could be properly used.
    Again, I’m not a scientist. I’m ignorant of many things. But that’s how I understand it.

  28. CMoB: The Royal Society’s dog-Latin motto, Nullius in verba, roughly translates as “We take no one’s word for it”.

    Oh, I thought it meant “don’t take our word for anything”. Seemed to fit after Climategate.
    It could also mean (paraphrased) “don’t expect anything in writing”.

    ;)

  29. John G. Boice:

    re your post at September 7, 2013 at 10:51 am

    I suggest you look up the microwave background radiation.
    A theory can predict. The Big Bang hypothesis did, and the Steady State hypothesis didn’t.

    In science, anything can be wrong, and an existing theory can be overthrown by new data and/or understanding. But Big Bang is a scientific theory, and consensus has nothing to do with why it is,

    Richard

  30. A scientific consensus is not something that has no value in principle. The climate scientists have shown that they can’t be trusted to acknowledge any finding that goes against or minimizes AGW. The paleo crew have shown themselves to be particularly untrustworthy. Mann has clearly not disclosed computed and widely used correlation values such as R2 for his hockey stick. They just make things up as they go along:

    http://climateaudit.org/2008/08/08/caspar-ammann-texas-sharpshooter/

  31. Thomas Traill:

    At September 7, 2013 at 11:00 am you mistakenly assert

    Regarding consensus, we shouldn’t chuck out the baby with the bathwater. When an ideal scientist tries to answer a question, (s)he doesn’t rely on any consensus over it. So far, so good.

    But consensus can be a result and symptom of scientific progress. After all, if there is only one true answer to any well-phrased question and all scientists should independently seek it, then they should end up in agreeing with each other, in spite of their independence

    NO! Absolutely not! That is a denial of science!

    Science seeks the closes approximation to truth by seeking information which refutes existing understanding.

    An idea which has predictive capability is a theory. So, the mutually exclusive corpuscular and wave theories of light (i.e. electromagnetism) are both used although neither is right because they are useful.

    Similarly, utility is why the theories of Newtonian mechanics are still used although they are approximations to Newtonian mechanics in our present time and place.

    Clearly, there is NOT “one true answer” in the cases I have stated.

    Science ceases if consensus is adopted because it denies the seeking for information which refutes existing understanding.

    Consensus is a denial of science. It prevents – at very least, it inhibits – scientific progress.

    Richard

  32. BRILLIANT…JUST BRILLIANT!
    Perhaps Lord Monckton would be so inclined as to submit an abbreviated comment to his ‘hometown’ journal, NATURE, where Oreskes’ ill-advised op-ed appeared earlier this week. More from the other side need to read what Christopher Monckton has to say about Oreskes’ poorly thought out views of science (Plate Tectonics) and consensus (politics).

  33. Ouch!
    I intended to write

    Similarly, utility is why the theories of Newtonian mechanics are still used although they are approximations to Einstinian mechanics in our present time and place.

    Sorry.

    Richard

  34. I see the IPCC’s work as having the same effect as the global ed reform push that is also largely funded by governments and foundations with a view to power. It wants to create a mindset of unquestioning belief that is not centered in the rational mind or facts. We are being asked to return to an era of the government-sanctioned cosmology. This is what you are to value and believe and these are the attitudes we want to see you use.

    We are being told to think dialectically without any mention of the D word. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/cultivating-understandings-of-consequence-to-guide-daily-life-and-prompt-desired-behaviors/ is a post that compares what is being pushed in education and these models to Stephen Toulmin’s 1982 book The Return to Cosmology: Postmodern Science and the Theology of Nature.

    Anytime I start reading about nonlinear systems from a political authority, I would take the bet that the entire model or theory is about gaining dollars and behavioral changes in sociotechncal systems without admitting it outright. Only bureaucrats would come up with that as a term to describe people.

  35. I said:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/09/07/a-question-for-oreskes-but-what-do-we-mean-by-consensus/#comment-1410538

    Richard, in light of what you said:
    Science ceases if consensus is adopted because it denies the seeking for information which refutes existing understanding.

    I’d like to amend my comment, “When enough have actually tried to prove the ‘guess’ wrong but failed, then ‘prevailing’ or ‘consensus’ could be properly used. But ‘consensus’ or ‘prevailing’ is never a valid reason to accept without question

  36. “But consensus can be a result and symptom of scientific progress. After all, if there is only one true answer to any well-phrased question and all scientists should independently seek it, then they should end up in agreeing with each other, in spite of their independence.” — Thomas Traill

    This isn’t offensive on it’s own if you read your own values into it. But the post as a whole is a bucket of equivocation and Sophistry.

    And scientific paper done under the ‘classic’ model of doing science is not one, but two, papers. A philosophical paper, and an engineering paper. The philo portion is all the fabulous rounds of theory that sciency folks like to get into. The engineering portion is just the raw experiment. Now there’s not a thing wrong with Philo papers, and there’s not a thing wrong with Engineering papers. But you don’t get a classic Science paper unless you put the two together in one shot. (Not withstanding Newton’s great derision about hypotheses.)

    The modern model of science is no such animal. The papers often do not have any experimental contact at all; they are no more than pure Philosophy papers and have no greater weight nor reliability that any *honestly labeled* Philosophy paper. And far too often when the author testifies, in their paper, that they did in fact perform a legit experiment, there simply isn’t enough presentation of it to validly reproduce it.

    To the degree that experimental science ‘will’ or ‘should’ converge on a given answer? Well, yeh. Unless you hold out that the universe is fundamentally deceptive and vindictive. To the degree that philosophical science ‘will’ or ‘should’? Philosophers are still struggling with the legitimacy and uses of ‘true’, ‘false’, contradictions, and why “If A, then B” isn’t justified without a “Because C” clause. So perhaps the Philo guys will converge on metaphyscial answers someday. But the last 2 milllenia haven’t been very encouraging.

  37. I would not say it is entirely correct to say that religion and science both seek for truth, but one uses experimentation and observation to prove or disprove its claims. The reason this is not entirely true is because spiritual traditions must be practiced. If it is not applied in real time and in real life, it is dead knowledge. Academics or clever comparative mythologists do not understand or recognize this about spiritual beliefs. They are solely word masters, bless their scholarly hearts.

    The process is the same whether you are testing a physical law in science, or a spiritual law in faith. That is, there must be application of what you learn and the results must be patiently observed. You often have to adjust because there was a wrong variable introduced which slanted your results.

    “What is truth? said jesting Pilate; and would not stay for an answer.”

  38. Oreskes got published in Nature!?

    Well, that leaves the question; “Can Nature as a scientific outlet, degrade any further?”. I shudder to think how…

    A great article Lord Monckton!

    As Bennett in Vermont says; my vocabulary increases every time you post and article! Monopsony, indeed, now I know. You would think I’d have learned that term in college during economics or accounting classes; nope, I learned it at WUWT courtesy of Lord Monckton. Thank you!

  39. Bruckner8 says:
    September 7, 2013 at 10:20 am

    I get it. However, I’m confused by one thing. When/How does a guess become a hypothesis, and when does a hypothesis become a Theory? We have this “thing” called the “Big Bang Theory.” It hangs on the entire concept of CONSENSUS. Even wiki says it’s “the prevailing model…”

    Doesn’t prevailing sound like consensus?

    My point is: almost every scientific conclusion is consensus. Sometimes the consensus reaches 100%! THEN it becomes a Scientific Law. And even THEN it’s only a law as we define/observe it in our limited scope of existence! So it’s all consensus…
    ————————–

    An hypothesis is a guess. A theory is an hypothesis or a coherent collection of hypotheses which have been tested by experiment or scientific observations & have not yet been shown false (“falsified”).

    The Big Bang Theory has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with consensus. It currently prevails because it’s the best explanation for observed reality, starting with the cosmic background microwave radiation at 3 K. When a theory is so well supported that its opponents are overwhelmed, then a consensus in its favor may form, but it does not prevail because of consensus, but its support in observation & experiment.

    So every scientific conclusion is not consensus. Consensus changes when actual data show prior consensuses to have been wrong. Wegener was right about continental drift, even though the consensus in his day was for static continents. That consensus finally changed when a mechanism for the observed drift was discovered, ie seafloor spreading, but it required dragging older geologists along kicking & screaming. Some died without acknowledging the newly recognized reality.

    The same could be said for many of the other now prevalent theories, to include Copernicus’ heliocentric theory (that the earth goes around the sun).

  40. Beautiful reason and beautiful writing. That’s my immediate response. Thank You.

    ‘ “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” – that is all
    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. ‘

    John Keats

    I think it is the scientists themselves who have to stand up and say enough is enough. They must be sick of politicians by now. After all, years ago they likely were students and participated in sit down strikes at universities. I think it would be totally cool to see a big crowd of old guys with grey beards and thick glasses, wearing the typical white lab coats, marching in front of the president’s office with pickets:

    “We demand Freedom Of Research.” “Politicians Buzz Off.” “Are We Whores?”

  41. ATheoK says:
    September 7, 2013 at 11:46 am

    Oreskes got published in Nature!?

    Well, that leaves the question; “Can Nature as a scientific outlet, degrade any further?”. I shudder to think how…

    —————————

    I too am appalled that Nature published her anti-scientific screed of CACA-phoney. Here’s what I commented in Tips & Notes yesterday:

    milodonharlani says:
    September 6, 2013 at 9:12 am

    Naomi Oreskes draws false conclusions in analogizing the history of plate tectonics with present power politics & CACA backwards:

    “Anthropogenic climate change has the consensus of researchers. Political leaders who deny the human role in climate change should be compared with the hierarchy of the Catholic church, who dismissed Galileo’s arguments for heliocentrism for fear of their social implications. But what of scientists who in good faith reject the mainstream view?”

    http://www.nature.com/news/earth-science-how-plate-tectonics-clicked-1.13655

    Clearly, political leaders are mainly in the CACA camp, happily suppressing real science. The false consensus against “continental drift” survived long after the evidence of sea-floor spreading had piled up. Ultimately it is not consensus that matters but evidence. Basing public policy on consensus will usually lead to bad decisions.

    Note also that she plumps for against group-think against individualism, no surprise. CACA has corrupted the historiography of science along with science itself. She like Hansen, Mann, et al, is an activists, not a scholar.

  42. “The dead hand of government.”

    This is the simple reason why centrally planned economies never work, likewise so much of government sponsored science.

    That is the problem with climate science, dodgy politicians want to be seen to be ‘proving’ their green credentials, while simultaneously seeking new sources of tax revenue. So climate scientists have to provide the answers required by government, or they are not funded. So, that’s why there has to be a consensus, because consensus means funding.

    I guess that means most climate scientists are ………………………………

  43. Oreskes should write a book about the consensus of the failure of the climate models.

    And then, as far as I can tell, Climate Science completely and fully ignores the theory and consequences of plate tectonics, all of the paleoclimate scientists do at least. I imagine this never occurred to Oreskes.

  44. Historically in religion, as well as science, an interpreting expert class becomes utterly corrupt.

    Sacred texts, like data and measurements, are not the province of a few paradigm-making experts to interpret for everyone else.

    This top down approach has led to abuses and impoverishment of people in science and religion, and science in particular has a very violent and recent history of top-down abuse in the 1900′s, including Lysenkoism and eugenics/population control.

  45. milodonharlani says:
    September 7, 2013 at 11:58 am
    “ATheoK says:
    September 7, 2013 at 11:46 am
    Oreskes got published in Nature!?
    Well, that leaves the question; “Can Nature as a scientific outlet, degrade any further?”. I shudder to think how…
    —————————
    I too am appalled that Nature published her anti-scientific screed of CACA-phoney. ”

    Nature is owned by the German publisher Holtzbrinck. Exactly how arch-green that publisher is I don’t know but probably a lot.

  46. Professor Oxburgh, did the Royal Society compose the list of questions to be put to scientists in the Climategate “enquiry”?

    Nullius in verbum !

    Roughly translated means: “Don’t expect anything in writing.”

  47. Gunga Din:

    I am replying to your post addressed to me at September 7, 2013 at 11:38 am

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/09/07/a-question-for-oreskes-but-what-do-we-mean-by-consensus/#comment-1410562

    Sorry, but I cannot accept that.

    Science seeks the closes approximation to ‘truth’ by seeking information which refutes existing understanding.

    Pseudocience decides an understanding is ‘truth’ then seeks information which supports that understanding while ignoring or rejecting information which refutes that understanding.

    Politics seeks adoption of an understanding (i.e. an idea) by enforcing its adoption or by gaining widespread agreement with the idea (i.e. consensus).

    Thus, consensus is a political method which negates the scientific method. And that is why politics and science are mutually exclusive activities. Science seeks ‘truth’ but politics seeks adoption of an action so they use different methods which use information differently.

    When a scientist seeks consensus as a method to gain support for his science then he becomes a politician, he stops being a scientist, and he becomes a pseudoscientist. And a politician who adopted seeking after truth as his objective would fail in his political activity.

    This is not to say a scientist cannot be a politician (some have been) but the two activities need to be kept completely separate.

    Richard

  48. Richard said:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/09/07/a-question-for-oreskes-but-what-do-we-mean-by-consensus/#comment-1410593

    ====================================================================
    I do not disagree with anything you said.
    I suppose, as a layman, I was using “consensus” in a broader sense than actual science should allow.
    I do know and understand that a “scientific consensus” is not proof or a substitute for continued scrutiny of what “the consensus” has accepted without question.
    Thanks.

  49. Thales of Miletus (6th Century BCE) was the founder of the scientific method, not ibn al-Haytham. It was Thales who first consciously set aside supernatural explanations, and required observables as the test-bed of hypothesis. All of ancient Greco-Roman science followed from Thales’ accomplishment. al-Haytham was brilliant, probably a genius, and obviously had a very clear idea of the scientific method. But he was trained in, and followed, the lead of Greek scientific thought then prominent in Syria.

    Also, Popper did not formalize the scientific method. Popper himself mentioned in his autobiographical “Unended Quest” that he got his idea reading Einstein’s book on his then-new relativistic theory. Popper notes Einstein writing that if the cosmological red-shift due to gravitational potential didn’t exist, his theory would have to be abandoned. This immediately led Popper to his idea of falsification as the scientific method.

    But, as shown by Einstein’s views, the formal method was already well established. In fact, the modern method was specifically developed by Galileo, whose insistence on observational tests of theory forever removed science from philosophy.

    As for Ms. Oreskes, she follows in a long line of likewise shallow minds who think it fine to pronounce judgment on scientific debate without having the slightest grasp of the science itself. Her accusatory rhetoric recapitulates in our present the insane ravings of the past that called forth and justified the witch-burners. We can all thank our lucky stars for the tenacity of Jeffersonian liberalism in America, because a slight decrease in civic restraint and a slight increase in political superstition would see the Ms. Oreskes’ sitting on high in black robes and calling down their official judgments on us all.

  50. Justthinkin says:
    September 7, 2013 at 8:22 am
    While others laughed,our teacher stood up and awarded her A on the spot.
    ===========
    A great example. Today, in school, teachers give out A’s to students that give the accepted answer. Yet we know in science that today’s accepted answer is very likely only an approximation of the truth, not the whole truth.

    So, this process continues into university and graduate programs, where students are graded based on how well their answers match the consensus, the mainstream opinion, without regard for the uncertainty in all scientific knowledge.

    Over time, those that reach high office in the academic world are thus repeatedly conditioned thousands of times (think Pavlov) to accept authority and consensus as a substitute for truth. What works for dogs works equally well for humans, no matter how much we believe we are above other animals.

  51. Pat Frank says: September 7, 2013 at 12:27 pm “Also, Popper did not formalize the scientific method. ”

    Lord Monckton said, “Karl Popper formalized the scientific method as an iterative algorithm starting with a general problem.” If I may add, that iteration was formalized in Edwin Thomson Jaynes’ Probability Theory: The Logic of Science (2003) through Bayesian epistemology/inference/statistics.

  52. Comparing the quality of consensus for plate tectonics to that of AGW is like comparing the consensus favoring quantum mechanics with that of phrenology.

  53. “…the barnacle-like accretion of expert consensus…”

    Common sense, in prose that rings like crystal. You gotta love it.

  54. Consider climate change. The uncontentious version of the climate consensus is that greenhouse gases cause warming. Oft-replicated experiment establishes that the quantum resonance that interaction with near-infrared radiation induces in a greenhouse-gas molecule, such as carbon dioxide, emits heat directly, as though a tiny radiator had been turned on. Thus, adding greenhouse gases to the air will cause some warming. Where – as here – the experimental result is undisputed because it is indisputable, there is no need to plead consensus.

    My jaw [just] dropped when reading Christopher Monckton accepting this viewpoint without question. “as though a tiny radiator had been turned on”?? Tiny radiators of heat ??? With no energy source it implies ??? I thought Monckton knew more of infrared radiation science. This is a bunch of malarkey.

    CO2 absorbs very specific lines of infrared radiation and equally radiates, never more than, exactly ½ of what it absorbs upward to the exterior hemisphere and exactly ½ downward to the interior hemisphere if using a plane-parallel model instead of a sphere. But all 99.99…% of infrared from the surface of Earth in these specific CO2 lines are already absorbed (that’s the energy source) and most close to the surface and so adding more CO2 to an already opaque, basically totally opaque, atmosphere at these frequencies does nothing (ok, tiny, tiny increase in the wings).

    This is where the implications of trying to convert small-scale lab results in tubes of CO2 to an open large-scale planetary atmosphere is so wrongly accepted without question as if it can radiate more that it absorbs. It is this reason why we see no increase in temperature but what happened on the sun in the 80′ and 90′s after removing the upward artificail adjustments to the GISS records and NOAA records and allowing for the real UHI effect imprinted on the temperature records.

  55. Caleb wrote that Oreskes favors group-think over individualism. This is a tactic of the left in many areas. As a child and young teenager in the 1950s, I read many inspiring books about great women and men in science, exploration, politics, military, etc. I’m sure the books included hear-say, caricature, and half truths, but they were inspiring nonetheless.

    However, starting in the early 1980s when I began to search in stores for children’s books for my own children, I had a difficult time finding up-to-date books on the individual accomplishments of people. It was then that I discovered I could purchase many such books for 50 cents each at a local Good Will store because those kind of books were being discarded en masse by the local schools and libraries. I am saving all of those books for my grandchildren.

    Are we beginning to suffer the long term effect of “group think” in this world, where some individual may suppress his/her own novel idea in favor of a group’s consensus?

  56. Today a scientist is trained to become a member of the scientific community. The concept of “consensus” has become part of the education. Just the horror to have a scientist with a mind of it’s own…. Just hear about the quest of those independent minds who question the “Big Bang Theory” as they promote the theory of an electric universe:

  57. I sign all my books “Nullius in Verba” but I was very disturbed to see the new Royal Society’s president Dr. Paul Nurse has totally strayed from the prestigious scientific organization’s motto. Nurse was featured by the BBC in a video “Science Under Attack” with the main message “trust the climate scientists” and questioning Phil Jones interpretation of climate change is tantamount to questioning “science”. He justified Phil Jones’ refusal to be open with the data, suggesting the requests by skeptics were merely attempts to prevent them from doing their day job. He judiciously uses the word denier, and suggested the contradictory evidence is cherry picking. Isaac Newton would be rolling in his grave. If Dr. Nurse truly embraced “Nullius in Verba”, instead of promoting such BBC propaganda pieces he would promote respectful debate between skeptics and CO2 advocates. It is the active suppression of debate, that is the real attack on science.

  58. Pat Frank says: We can all thank our lucky stars for the tenacity of Jeffersonian liberalism in America, because a slight decrease in civic restraint and a slight increase in political superstition would see the Ms. Oreskes’ sitting on high in black robes and calling down their official judgments on us all.
    ————————————————————————————————————————-
    I’ll give it ten years and this very thing will be happening in all areas of life. We already see it happening on University Campuses and in Government Hiring.

  59. You just have to watch presentations made by Svensmark, Kirkby, Lindzen, et al to see real scientists, they make no elaborate claims, they just describe their hypotheses succinctly. Compare that with the emotional language of many AGW believing ‘scientists’ and the difference becomes so clear. I have not heard Svensmark call Mann a ‘denier’ and his office a ‘denialist lair’ these terms have no place in science.

  60. Can we conclude from this that people who already have their minds made up, who attack those who are skeptical of the consensus opinion, and who are blind to every observation that does not agree with their preconceived biases are not “seekers after truth”? Somebody should let them know. Oh right, you just did.

  61. Eric Camp, exciting students with controversial scientific theorries. A must see and an absolute breath of fresh air

  62. The reason why Warmists use the word ‘consensus’ is because they were afraid of a statistically significant temperature standstill or statistically significant temperature fall. They knew either outcome would utterly ruin their plans for man’s energy restructuring. The ruining has begun. Some climate scientists are now asking inconvenient questions as well as the media. Rational politicians have begun to weigh in. Doubts abound.

    Here is an ‘impossible’ idea that turned out not to be impossible (quasicrystals). This man refused to disbelieve his own ‘lying’ eyes. An example of chance and curiosity fighting against the consensus.

    Nature News – 5 October 2011
    A materials scientist who discovered crystals with structures that many believed to be impossible — and who stubbornly held his ground against fierce opposition — has claimed this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry……

    “The discovery of quasicrystals has taught us humility,” writes Sven Lidin, an inorganic chemist at Stockholm University and a member of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry.

    http://www.nature.com/news/2011/111005/full/news.2011.572.html

    How much humility will the climate modelers learn?

  63. @ Stephen Richards

    I can only assume you were addressing me with the comment: ”Perhaps you could lay out you engineering quality proof then? Right here, right now would be good” since you neither implicitly addressed me nor properly indicated that you were quoting my statement that “The evidence for CAGW is best described as underwhelming in 2013”.

    I don’t think I have room for an “engineering quality proof” whatever that is (proofs are the realm of mathematicians not engineers) here, but I’ll be happy to clarify. If we go back to say 1995 the evidence for CAGW was more compelling (although still not convincing) than it is today, hence the “in 2013” portion of my statement. Back then 1) the stratosphere was cooling, 2) the outgoing LWR suppression had not been shown by observation to be false, 3) it wasn’t clear the tropical tropospheric hot spot would be AWOL, 4) the global average temperature was rising, and 5) we had little evidence of the magnitude of variations of climate components not well represented in the “models” like clouds and ENSO. All these things provided credence to the high climate sensitivity possibility, which is still possible even now but is even less likely now than it was circa 1995 simply because we have more reliable data now than we did then. The evidence for CAGW is basically based on a correlation (not that good of evidence to start with) that is becoming less and less correlated every year. So, even though there’s a mountain of evidence for global warming (GW) and decent evidence for some anthropogenic (man-made) contribution to global warming (AGW) there is scant and receding evidence that anthropogenic contributions dominate natural “forcings” (AGW) and particularly scant and even faster receding evidence that the warming is particularly dangerous (CAGW).

    Note that there are 2 AGW’s; this causes quite a bit of confusion on it’s own since while I would consider myself in the AGW camp that considers natural influences to be dominating but not the AGW camp that holds anthropogenic influences dominate; it would require some very specific language in a survey for example to differentiate one from the other.

  64. alan neil ditchfield says:

    > Engineers don’t believe in scientists. They use Euclidean geometry because its propositions stand demonstrated, not because they believe in Euclid. There is a gulf of understanding between believers and those who use science.

    I rather like Miles Mathis’s observation that while the propositions of curved geometry can be properly demonstrated, if enough care is taken, it is fully dependent on Euclidean geometry and thus does not lead to new insights. On the other hand, it is cumbersome and counter-intuitive, thus making it easy to miss errors and misdirection — exactly the properties mathematicians are excited about, while engineers are not.

  65. The State tends to start out with good intentions, but oftentimes with poor, unintended results. For example, the concept of welfare is a great idea – a sort of temporary safety net for folks down on their luck. The trouble is, over time and through generations, the safety net for many becomes a permanent bed upon which the beneficiaries become dependent. Now neither the state nor the beneficiary has any option but to continue the welfare ad infinitum.

    Climate science is in danger of a similar fate – simply following their master’s political agendas in a scientific framework, all the while convincing themselves they are saving the world. They don’t realise the degree of their servanthood to the state. They are dependent upon the state, ad infinitum, corrupting both the science and their souls.

  66. Of all peoples, the English do a better job of tolerating eccentrics. To go farther back than Galileo in identifying the creator of scientific method is eccentric. Worse, it ignores the fact that Galileo’s work, especially his work on projectile motion, is taken up and championed by the creator of what made modern science possible, Newton’s calculus. Galileo’s explication of scientific method and his applications of it are the womb from which modern science emerged.

  67. Perhaps I am old-fashioned, but my take on the attempts of scientists to model the climate is this: go read what Dick Feynman had to say about physicists trying to model any fluid other than ‘dry water’.

    The earth’s climate is a semi-open complex dynamic system involving interfaces between all three phases of matter (solid, liquid and gas), being exposed to the effects of mulitple inputs (from the sun, cosmic rays etc) and modulated by many quasi-stochastic processes (e.g. volcanoes, oceanic perturbations, ice melts etc).

    I see this problem as one akin to engineering, not physics or chemistry. I see it as a chaotic system which nonetheless can be approximated to, for discrete time periods, using Fourier analysis.

    Science can be used to measure very discrete, bounded parts of the climate jigsaw.

    It can’t, in my opinion and judgement, be used to predict ‘the earth’s climate’.

    Rules of thumb can, however, be developed which may or may not have sufficient vailidity to eb useful for economic planning.

  68. Monckton of Brenchley says:
    ”Fact is that by spending so much on windmills and suchlike fooleries they’re pulling the rug from under the hand that lays the golden eggs.”

    ROTFLMAO!

    Talk about your mixed metaphors, we’ve got pulling the rug out from under [all of us], [biting] the hand [that feeds them, i.e. all of us], and [cooking the goose] that lays the golden eggs (again, all of us) all wrapped up in one nice little package of hilarity that pretty much sums up the totality of inanity that is climate change action initiatives.

    BTW: Where’s my manners? First comment should have started out with Excellent post Lord Monckton but I read the Nature article first and then it slipped my mind.

  69. @Monkton
    No scientist uses Popper, unless he wants to sound pompous. Things are more complicated than falsifiability and (in the biologicals) revolve around achieving limited consensus through demonstrations that you can control a phenomenon. Falsifiability doesn’t usuall enter into the discussion and when it does, it’s a minor point because you’ve done somethimg stupid. However, we do watch for Aristotle’s logical fallacies a lot.

    I just discovered Alhazen (Al-Haytham) a few years ago, and was very impressed, but, you are talking about a medieval man just the same. His approach is not the equivalent of Bacon, Galilleo, or Boyle, or any of the early renaissance scientists who promoted systems of doing science and discussed how their system lead to truth. Al-Haytham has a fantastic optics but doesn’t mess around in the more theoretic aspects of what it means to do science. His approach, though correct, and though far better than Europeans of his time, doesn’t appear to me to go beyond the subjects he treats.

    How are things at Dorc Cottage?

  70. Wow, it is a long time since I’ve seen such an expert command of a language so beautifully rendered in print. My hat is off to you, Sir.

    May I also compliment you on the use of the “consensus’” own figures to totally demolish their argument, with this and other postings and presentations, and your backing of the 50:1 project.

    I do hope you and Willis get to meet and talk while he is over there. It is lovely to watch the interplay between ye’re comments to each others’ postings.

    After seeing what has happened here in Ireland (not that who has gotten in are any different) and Australia at the polls, with a little more input from you, I believe the UKIP party can become a significant minority party within the next government, if not the main opposition. Britain is ready for change, and you have an uncanny knack for backing the right horse.

  71. Jim Steele says:
    September 7, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    I sign all my books “Nullius in Verba” but I was very disturbed to see the new Royal Society’s president Dr. Paul Nurse has totally strayed from the prestigious scientific organization’s motto.

    Is not their motto now “Nonsense en Verbose” de Nurse?

  72. John West says:
    September 7, 2013 at 3:27 pm (replying to)

    Monckton of Brenchley says:

    ”Fact is that by spending so much on windmills and suchlike fooleries they’re pulling the rug from under the hand that lays the golden eggs.”

    To extend the phrase further …. ”Fact is that by spending so much on windmills and suchlike fooleries they’re pulling the rug from under the hand that pays the golden eggs.”

  73. “whether mitigating it today would cost less than adapting to its net-adverse consequences the day after tomorrow”

    Lord Monckton, you got this wrong.
    “Mitigating it today” is not costly – it is impossible. We do not posses, today, the technology to produce carbon-free energy (except nuclear, which has other problems).
    All “renewables” that are pushed today are incapable, technically, to mitigate anything. They are “tooth fairies and Easter bunnies” (Dr. Hansen’s correct words). They are useless.

    We need a major breakthrough in science and technology to find a feasible carbon-free source of energy.
    So, the cost comparison of mitigation vs. adaptation is meaningless. There is no “mitigation” available.

  74. Thanks, Christopher, Lord Monckton.
    Good essay, it has attracted thoughtful commentaries.
    But, even though I am an electronics engineer, I could not fully understand when you wrote
    “Another uncertainty is introduced by the amplification equation in the models, which was designed for electronic circuits, where it has a physical meaning. In the climate, as the singularity at a loop gain of 1 approaches, it has none. In a circuit, feedbacks driving voltage to the positive rail flick it to the negative rail as the loop gain exceeds 1. In the climate there is no such physical mechanism.”
    Do we not have evidence of climate oscillations between ice ages and temperate climates?
    Or is it that we have no proof that an ice age triggers its own end?

    BTW, I think it was Galileo that started modern science.
    “the house arrest to which Galilei was sentenced” was much more than that; He was psychologically tortured and had to put his young daughter in a convent. He had a life sentence.

  75. Lord Monckton, thank you for the enlightening article. I know you spend a good bit of time working on this issue. I am grateful for your efforts.

    @Thomas Traill
    That was an interesting scenario comparing parachute jumping to a climate consensus. I believe you were having fun because who would go parachute jumping without personally learning how to pack and use a parachute? As a matter of fact, a consensus on parachute use would probably advise new users to learn and practice the art before trying it.

    A saying I have heard comes closer to the general idea of why people are skeptical on climate issues. It goes, “You don’t have to be a farmer to know when you have a rotten egg”. It’s kind of country sounding, but it is not hard to see where climate scientists has gone off the tracks with their lack of ability to make any decent predictions in the last twenty or so years. Anybody can see that unless they are riding the government gravy train of endless research grants.

    You have probably heard the story about a man on his first sky-dive. After he jumped out of the airplane, he pulled the ripcord and his chute did not open. Panic set in as he fumbled with every handle and strap he could find. Then he saw a man rising from the earth at a terrific speed. As the man approached, the sky-diver called out, “Do you know anything about parachutes?”. As the human rocket passed the sky diver, he yelled back, “Do you know anything about Coleman stoves?”.

  76. Pick a target, then open the taxpayer’s purse in an effort to hit it.
    Accuracy suffers when nobody is responsible.
    History, will not be kind.

  77. Good essay, but I have one objection: Science has become a monopsony. Only one paying customer – the State – calls the tune, and expects its suppliers to sing from the same hymn-sheet.

    There is a lot of scientific research carried out in the private sector.

  78. “Political leaders who deny the human role in climate change should be compared with the hierarchy of the Catholic church, who dismissed Galileo’s arguments for heliocentrism for fear of their social implications”

    As usual, she has got it backwards. Alarmists are the ones denying the role of the sun in climate, placing human induced climate change at the centre of the universe. When scientists claim the sun has a central role, they are ignored and maltreated, just like Galileo was. They don’t like making the sun the centre of the climate change universe for the same reason they didn’t with Galileo-it reduces their role and their sense of self-importance.

    As for evolution, once again the alarmists have got history and science backwards. The evolutionists were gradualists-they believed biological systems responded slowly and gradually over long periods to change, notwithstanding rare chaotic periods associated with catastrophes, where entire ecosystems could be replaced by others. The anti-evolutionists denied this, they believed that species and ecosystems did not change at all, and they were only replaced by human induced catastrophes where God’s hand intervened. They denied that natural change occurred, and assumed a large human induced role in natural change, just like alarmists do today.

  79. In the Aardman animated movie, “The Pirates,” a shot of the Royal Society’s seal and motto says “The Royal Society – Playing God Since 1687″
    Odd date, I thought, but that’s when Newton published “Principia.”

  80. The good Lord writes, “The celebrated mathematician, astronomer and philosopher of science Abu Ali Ibn al-Haytham, or Alhazen, is justly celebrated as the founder of the scientific method.”

    I’m afraid this statement is somewhat overblown. For a more nuanced and researched role by a qualified historian of science who goes by the blog title, The Renaissance Mathematicus, you might like to read, http://tinyurl.com/l4j62u6

    Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alhazen) states, “He made significant contributions to … the scientific method.”

    That’s a rather more modest claim!

  81. As ‘Professor of History and Science Studies at the University of California San Diego’, you would expect Oreskes to know all that.

  82. Oreskes is sitting on her ‘consensus’ … if she were to give it some light, the face of it might scare her.

  83. Andres Valencia says:
    September 7, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    I don’t think that Galileo (1564 to 1642) started modern science. IMO that would be Copernicus (1473 to 1543) & Vesalius (1514 to 1564), both of whom undertook to overthrow classical authority with observations & analysis anew.

    Galileo’s “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems” did however present a philosophy of modern science, but so too did Francis Bacon a dozen years earlier in his “Novum Organum”.

  84. Nice essay, thank you Christopher (remember Tom Lehrer & The Elements in Melbourne?).

    Regarding references to Australia, one of the famous appeals against authority was from Professor S Warren Carey rejecting a nomination to be a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science. Carey expanded Wegener’s continental drift theory (but to my knowledge, never – or perhaps with great reluctance – accepted the concept of plate subduction).
    http://science.org.au/fellows/memoirs/carey.html#9 see under Relationship with the Academy…
    (Prof Carey was an old and dear friend who would have had low tolerance for consensus science).
    …………………………..
    Also re Australia, yesterday saw a Federal Election in which the Conservatives (the Coalition, or the Liberal & National Parties) changed Government & gained a large majority over what in USA would be called ‘Liberals’. The losing party received the lowest primary vote in its 100+ year history. One of the winning central policies was to repeal the legislation that created a ‘carbon tax’. The incoming Prime Minister said that this would be completed within 3 years.
    Another election result was the loss of seats by the Green party. Public sentiment in Australia is now firmly against strong responses to ‘climate change’ and under the new PM, it is expected to become even less liked.
    ………………………….
    Today, there is a lot of correspondence and commentary about the new Government’s carbon tax policy. There are many appeals to authority and many references to settles science. I am ashamed that these people lack understanding of how science progresses, by experiment and data. They include a Nobel Laureate.

  85. I am very grateful to the numerous commenters here who have carried on the discussion about whether consensus has any role in attaining to the truth in science. The feelings of justifiable outrage that run right through this thread were perhaps best conveyed by the commenter who said it was no longer possible to find books for children that celebrated the contributions of individual scientists. Even children’s books have been tampered with to glorify drab collectivitism at the expense of the sparkle that is individual achievement in science.

    Andres Valencia asks why I say there is no physical mechanism whereby the feedback loop gain (which, in the climate, is the product of the sum of all unamplified feedbacks expressed in Watts per square meter and the Planck or instantaneous climate-sensitivity parameter (0.31 Kelvin per Watt per square meter) cannot cause very rapid amplification of global warming when it is a little below unity and then, a moment later when it is a little above unity, cause very rapid diminution of global warming.

    In an electronic circuit, an over-unity loop gain flicks the current from the positive-voltage to the negative-voltage rail. In circuits, therefore, the Bode feedback-amplification equation has a meaning in phsyical reality. It describes what happens even if the loop gain exceeds unity. The singularity in the equation maps to a singularity in the performance of the operational amplifier.

    In the climate, no such mechanism is possible. As the water vapor builds up in the atmosphere with warming (if it does as the Clausius-Clapeyron relation suggests), then the water vapor feedback – and hence the loop gain) continues to grow. It could, in theory, grow to greater than unity, where the feedback sum exceeds 3.2 Watts per square meter per Kelvin. But once the feedback sum is that great, the feedbacks that were in net terms causing warming before cannot suddenly cause cooling, let alone the very substantial cooling that the equation would lead us to expect. In short, the Bode equation is the wrong equation.

    I pointed this out, with a diagram showing the singularity in the equation, when I was giving a talk attended by several IPCC lead authors in Tasmania during my speaking tour of Australia and New Zealand earlier this year. One of the lead authors was astonished. “Have you published this?” he asked. “It changes everything.” No, I said: I’m still working on it.

    However, Dick Lindzen, when I presented the same point at the World Federation of Scientists’ annual seminars on planetary emergencies in Erice, Sicily, a couple of weeks ago, said the equation would work quite well in the climate up to a loop gain of about 0.8. That would cover the IPCC’s implicit interval of loop gains, which is [0.42, 0.74]. However, I am not sure that deploying the equation up to a rather arbitrary limit is the best way to model the influence of feedbacks on climate sensitivity.

    I have asked one of the nuclear scientists at the conference to see if he can introduce a damping term into the feedback-amplification equation to prevent the loop gain from getting anywhere near unity. The homeostasis in the climate is formidable – just how formidable I shall discuss in a moment – so it is not inappropriate to reflect this in a damping term.

    Mr. Valencia asks, “Do we not have evidence of climate oscillations between ice ages and temperate climates?”. It cannot be said often enough that, in the physical sciences, quantitative questions should be expressed quantitatively, not qualitatively. For in the past 420,000 years, the oscillations between the glacial and interglacial phases of the climate have altered absolute global temperature by plus or minus 1%. That is all. So very small a variability, so very great a homeostasis, suggests either that feedbacks in the climate are somewhat net-negative, as Dick Lindzen has found them to be (in which case they reduce warming to a small degree) or that, at worst, they are barely net-positive. However, if feedbacks are indeed on the interval [-0.5, +0.1], as Dick thinks they are, then their influence will simply be swamped by non-radiative transports and by the temperature-homeostasis of the climate.

    Where does the homeostasis come from? From the fact that the atmosphere is bounded by two heat-sinks, the ocean and outer space. It is really, really hard to alter global mean surface temperature over the long term, and our altering the composition of the atmosphere by 1 part in 3000 over the next 100 years will scarcely be able to alter it.

  86. Naomi Oreskes, “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change”, Science, 4/12/03, whatever her beliefs about the role of consensus in climate, in no way measured it. That is so notwithstanding the applause from the insecure climatologists and academics with failed models. She managed to transmute journal bias into proof of a consensus.

    Joining the fray to endorse science by ballot, Scripps Institution in a current article laid out the support for her presumably peer-reviewed paper:

    “QUESTION: Scientists disagree. We don’t know the science well enough yet, so why should we do anything?

    “ANSWER: Actually, there is strong scientific consensus on the reality of human-caused climate change. See the consensus/position statements of: – National Academy of Sciences – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – American Geophysical Union (AGU) – American Meteorological Society (AMS) – American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Oreskes (Science, 2004) analyzed all abstracts in refereed scientific publications from 1993-2003 with the keywords “global climate change” (928 papers). None disagreed with the consensus position that human activities are causing the current warming.” Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Birch Aquarium, Climate Change FAQ, http://aquarium.ucsd.edu/climate/Climate_Change_FAQ/ .

    Naomi Oreskes said, “Remarkable, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position.” This is remarkable only if one starts à priori with the belief not just in a consensus, but with very large majorities. A truly remarkable consensus might be, say, 99%, in which case by her analysis she might have found about ten non-conforming papers, or how about 99.9% and one. She found none.

    She started with 928 abstracts from refereed scientific journals published between 1993 and 2003 and containing the key phrase “climate change”, or some say, “global climate change”. Among these, she found that 75%, or 696, articles discussed what she considered the Consensus proposition: global warming is occurring because of manmade greenhouse gas. Of those 696, 100% agreed!

    But she did not begin to survey a representative group of scientists who had an opinion on global climate change. She has no information from those who disagree with the AGW conjecture. Among them would be those who could not be bothered trying to publish against the tide in the closed community, and those who tried but were rejected.

    Her analysis is also biased toward journal policy because she examined only abstracts and not the full articles. Criticism won’t surface in the abstract. Even in the main body, authors are obliged to understate any exceptions to the dogma, couching them as contingents or making them topics for further study. What Oreskes has established with good evidence is that peer-review journals do not publish papers smacking of heresy.

    None of the peers and scientific societies who passed her article seems to have noticed that her data don’t support her conclusions one iota. The paper, the peers, and the professional societies exemplify not science but erroneous statistical interpretation, likely due to the fact that her results were too good not to be true.

    The results prove not Oreskes’ conclusion about the existence of a consensus, but instead, with a high probability, that refereed journals in her survey have, for whatever reasons, published no papers disputing the anthropogenic climate change conjecture.

    The lesson is that for two decades, submitting any paper at all critical of AGW to one of her refereed journals has been a major waste of time.

  87. Pat Frank says:
    September 7, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    That is quite an inspired post. I did not know that you were interested in the history and philosophy of science. Kudos to you.

  88. Karl Popper formalized the scientific method as an iterative algorithm starting with a general problem.

    What Karl R. Popper actually “start[ed] with”, at one point in his discourse, was a universal generalization (UG), e.g. “All Crows Are Black” [KRP (1934/1959) 266], which he thought typified all scientific propositions. Therefore since UGs require infinite regression, or philosophical induction, to prove, he invented the notion that scientific models must have a falsification clause. None does. Instead, his UG example is a definition in science, and quite alien to scientific propositions. But Popper had another simple way of fixing that problem: “definitions do not matter.” KRP (1966), 24 of 31. Without definitions, Modern Science does not exist.

    Karl R. Popper deserves the title of founder of Post Modern Science. PMS has five tenets explicit in his writings. They are (1) falsifiability [KRP (1934/1959) 267; (1963) 7], (2) peer-review publication [KRP (1945) II-213, 225-6; (1966) 1-2 of 31], (3) single error rate decision making [KRP (1934/1959) 256], (4) consensus [KRP (1945) II-205], and (5) political correctness [KRP (1945) II-220]. These are listed here in order as adopted and adapted for scientific evidence in federal court by the US Supreme Court in Daubert v. Merrell Dow. Not one of them – not falsification, not peer review, not publication, and not consensus – has any validity in Modern Science, as founded by Sir Francis Bacon in 1620, and as practiced exclusively, secretly, and successfully in industry.

    Note the absence in PMS tenets of causation and prediction, the foundational pair of attributes of Modern Science. Popper intentionally removed Cause & Effect from his model of science, and with that sterilization of science, he also threw out prediction and validation. Scientific models are valid only to the extent that experiment validates their nontrivial predictions. Those predictions require not physically impossible philosophical or mathematical induction, but scientific induction based on Cause & Effect.

    The well known climatologists seem unaware of the fact that they are practicing PMS. It is thanks to PMS that we even have such a load of KRP as AGW.

  89. Yet no feedback can be measured directly or determined theoretically.

    To the contrary, cloud cover provides not only a pair of feedbacks, but because they gate the Sun, the most powerful feedbacks in all climate, and feedbacks not represented in the GCMs. Cloud cover through the burn-off effect amplifies solar variations. It is a fast, positive feedback to TSI. Cloud cover is also a slow, negative feedback to global surface temperature form any cause through added moisture according to the Clausius-Clapeyron effect.

    Science imposes no requirement on models to have any fidelity to real world processes other than to provide testable predictions. But because IPCC and GCMs have failed, most importantly in experimental climate sensitivity being less 1ºC where the IPCC minimum was 1.5ºC, and nominal was 3ºC for its catastrophic predictions, the models are wide open to scientific criticism. A little fidelity to dominant real world physics could fix the models, but surely destroy what’s left of AGW and a bunch of reputations in the process.

  90. @ R. de Haan
    Well, until this morning about all I knew of the “Electric Universe” was the name. I watched the two video’s you provided, another series on YouTube, and read several websites. First off, I’d have to say how disappointing it is to hear of the same kind of gatekeeping within a field as inconsequential policy wise as cosmology that we’ve seen in climatology. Other than that I really didn’t see anything that seriously challenges the current view of the universe. The first video devotes a large portion of its time on NGC – 7603 and one of the talking heads says (paraphrasing) that there’s a non-cosmological red shift component. Ok, so what? The big bang theory isn’t dependent upon every red shift being 100% due to expansion. The YouTube video I watched says at least three times that “only electric currents create magnetic fields”. Uh, there are these little things on my refrigerator that might disagree. And don’t even get me started on “Gravity is an infinitely weak force” and the image of dragons cross-culturally as evidence of an electrically dominated universe.

    All in all, not impressive, if they’d back their scope down a notch or two (hundred) they might be able to explain some structures in the universe with their hypothesis, but trying to make it explain Everything is a couple hundred bridges too far IMO.

  91. The chaoticity of the climate object is an additional, insuperable uncertainty. The IPCC admits this: “In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system and, therefore, that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible. [¶] The atmosphere, like any object that behaves chaotically, is highly sensitive to initial conditions.

    IPCC’s simulation may be nonlinear and chaotic, but climate is neither. Like the rest of the real world, it has no parameters, no inputs, no equations, no values, no coordinate systems. These are all manmade. In thermodynamic systems especially, model properties depend upon the scale – micro, meso, macro – elected by the modeler.

    The atmosphere, like the rest of physical world in the climate system, has no initial conditions. On the other hand, though, the models must. And the properties are quite different between IPCC’s Radiative Forcing model and a heat flow model.

    IPCC’s admission is a confession that its models are failures, disguised as a lament that it found climate impossible to model. It’s time for IPCC to heed the warning to Guy Callendar, IPCC’s hero of the AGW movement, by Sir George Simpson, Head, Met Office, 1920-1938.

    Callendar opened the door to AGW and climate sensitivity, putting it at 2ºC:

    “G. S. Callendar (1938) solved a set of equations linking greenhouse gases and climate change. He found that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration resulted in an increase in the mean global temperature of 2°C, with considerably more warming at the poles, and linked increasing fossil fuel combustion with a rise in CO2 and its greenhouse effects: ‘As man is now changing the composition of the atmosphere at a rate which must be very exceptional on the geological time scale, it is natural to seek for the probable effects of such a change. From the best laboratory observations it appears that the principal result of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide… would be a gradual increase in the mean temperature of the colder regions of the Earth.’” AR4, ¶1.4.1 The Earth’s Greenhouse Effect, p. 105.

    a message inflamed and made infamous by Roger Revelle:

    “Thus human beings are now carrying out a large scale geophysical experiment of a kind that could not have happened in the past nor be reproduced in the future.” Revelle, R. and H.E. Suess, “Carbon Dioxide Exchange between Atmosphere and Ocean, etc.”, 9/4/1956.

    and to which Simpson chided,

    “In the first place he [Sir George Simpson] thought it was not sufficiently realised by non-meteorologists who came for the first time to help the Society in its study, that it was impossible to solve the problem of the temperature distribution in the atmosphere by working out the radiation. The atmosphere was not in a state of radiative equilibrium, and it also received heat by transfer from one part to another. In the second place, one had to remember that the temperature distribution in the atmosphere was determined almost entirely by the movement of the air up and down. This forced the atmosphere into a temperature distribution which was quite out of balance with the radiation. One could not, therefore, calculate the effect of changing any one factor in the atmosphere, and he felt that the actual numerical results which Mr. Callendar had obtained could not be used to give a definite indication of the order of magnitude of the effect.” CALLENDAR (1938) Simpson critique.

    It’s time for IPCC to scrap its Radiative Forcing paradigm for a heat model, and with it introduce the great processes of time, heat flux, global albedo, solar variability, ocean heat capacity and currents, and for the record, CO2 solubility. When it completes the task, it will find that all it needs to do to predict global climate is to predict the Sun.

  92. Jeff Glassman says:
    September 8, 2013 at 9:22 am

    “Popper intentionally removed Cause & Effect from his model of science…”

    Actually, David Hume did that. He is followed in this by the most important philosophers of science of the twentieth century including Hempel, Scheffler, Quine, Levi, and others. “Removing” cause and effect means simply that there is no unique account of cause and effect in physics; that is, physical theory is never proved and we must always be open to new evidence which can falsify our existing theory.

    Your claims come fast and furious with no explanation. To refute them would require doing a post on the basics of scientific method. There isn’t time for that. To cut to the chase, Popper would have endorsed nothing in postmodern science.

  93. Mr. Glassman is incorrect to say that the climate is not chaotic and has no initial conditions. Lorenz (1963) is his best starting-point for reading the extensive literature on chaos and the climate. Revisionism in relation to the meaning of IPCC (2001), para. 14.2.2.2 is not approrpriate. The “system” referred to there is the climate system, which behaves as a chaotic object, deterministic but not determinable because we have insufficient information about the values of the millions of initial conditions at an chosen starting moment.

    He is also incorrect to say we can measure feedbacks directly. We can posit them, but we cannot measure them quantitatively, nor can we determine their values by any theoretical method. They are guesswork, and the guesses are wrong.

    He is also incorrect to say that the models take no account of cloud feedback. They do, but there are arguments in the literature even about the sign of the feedback, which further demonstrates my point that we cannot determine feedback values either empirically or theoretically.

  94. Theo Goodwin, September 8, 2013 @ 10:19 am

    You critique what I said offering no contradiction!

    I didn’t claim Popper was first. Nor did I claim that any Cause & Effect in science was ever unique. Nor did I claim that science was proved. Nor did I claim that science only looks for evidence which can falsify.

    You seem to have accepted the notion of philosophers who, grading their own papers, contend that C&E has been eliminated from science. To the contrary, I urge that it thrives along with everything else in Modern Science. This much I’ll give you: maybe not in Philosophy. Try listing the scientists.

    How you can suggest I offered no explanation is a mystery when my posts were amply referenced. I gave you a source for the five tenets of what I call PMS, fully cited to where they were set forth by Popper.

    Prof. Stove labeled him with the pejorative a “modern irrationalist” (Popper and After: Four Modern Irrationalists, December, 1982) and to Martin Gardner he was an eccentric (A Skeptical Look at Karl Popper, August, 2001). In my book, he fits Gardner’s commendable musings on the attributes of cranks, including:

    “That there are individuals of debatable status—men whose theories are on the borderline of sanity, men competent in one field and not in others, men competent at one period of life and not at others, and so on—all this ought not to blind us to the obvious fact that there is a type of self-styled scientist who can legitimately be called a crank. It is not the novelty of his views or the neurotic motivations behind his work that provide the grounds for calling him this. The grounds are the technical criteria by which theories are evaluated. If a man persists in advancing views that are contradicted by all available evidence, and which offer no reasonable grounds for serious consideration, he will rightfully be dubbed a crank by his colleagues.” Bold added, Gardner, Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science, 1952, p. 6 of 204.

    We could list the ways Popper was a contrarian to science, but perhaps his nonsensical views I already cited suffice, namely that scientific propositions were Universal Generalizations, and that “definitions do not matter”. I dub him crank.

    Regardless that you seem to be channeling Popper to speak for him, he scores five out of five as the godfather of PMS and its conjecture-turned-evil-spawn, AGW. A dangerous crank.

  95. Monckton of Brenchly, September 8, 2013 @ 3:12 pm

    1. Mr. Glassman is incorrect to say that the climate is not chaotic and has no initial conditions. Please supply any initial condition for the climate as opposed to a model of it. I will give you the Big Bang. Whatever the object being discussed, without an initial condition it cannot fit the definition of chaotic, as, for example, spun by IPCC:

    “Chaos: A dynamical system such as the climate system, governed by nonlinear deterministic equations (see Nonlinearity), may exhibit erratic or chaotic behaviour in the sense that very small changes in the initial state of the system in time lead to large and apparently unpredictable changes in its temporal evolution. Such chaotic behaviour may limit the predictability of nonlinear dynamical systems.” AR4, Glossary, p. 942.

    Climate neither has initial conditions, nor is it governed by equations, nonlinear, deterministic, or other. Climate is natural, part of the real world, but these parameters and concepts are all manmade. And I can’t imagine a very small change in the Big Bang.

    2. I didn’t say as you claim that we could measure feedbacks directly. You said, bold added, “Yet no feedback can be measured directly or determined theoretically.” My example fit the second half of your disjunction to perfection.

    3. I did not say what you attribute to me here: He is also incorrect to say that the models take no account of cloud feedback. I did not address the general topic of “cloud feedback” but instead of “cloud cover” and “cloud cover feedback”. Cloud feedback is in the GCMs, but it does not include cloud cover. And while cloud cover is certainly in the GCMs, apparently parameterized, it is nonetheless constant. Consequently, cloud cover feedback is not in the models. To be a feedback, it must be variable, and dependent, directly or indirectly, on TSI and on surface temperature.

  96. “The post-modernist notion that science proceeds by the barnacle-like accretion of expert consensus on the hulk of a hypothesis …”

    I have never been able to take post-modernism seriously simply because the very name is absurd. “Modern” means “now-time”. “Post” means “after”. “After-now” is the future. And yet the post-modernists want to say that the present is post-modern. Such an abuse of both logic and the English language strongly suggests that anything else they have to say will be similarly meaningless drivel.

  97. @Theo Goodwin

    “To go farther back than Galileo in identifying the creator of scientific method is eccentric.”

    I would say that nominating anyone “the creator of scientific method” is eccentric. The creation of scientific method seems to me to be a process of slow development and refinement, and not the product of a single mind.

    “what made modern science possible, Newton’s calculus.”

    Or Leibniz’s.

  98. @Theo Goodwin

    ‘“Popper intentionally removed Cause & Effect from his model of science…”
    Actually, David Hume did that.’

    There is reason to believe that Hume was inspired by Al Ghazali. If not, he independently reproduced Al Ghazali’s ideas, but without Ghazali’s contention that God causes all events, and establishes the regular correlations.

  99. Thank you very much, Christopher, Lord Monckton,
    As you point out, in an electronic circuit we can easily build an oscillator.
    The Earth climate seems to me like a well-damped oscillating system, with enough negative feedback loops to keep the global average air temperature stable within a narrow band of temperatures.
    Among the mechanisms would be Lindzen’s Infrared Iris, Eschenbach’s Thermostat, and “the fact that the atmosphere is bounded by two heat-sinks, the ocean and outer space.” as you also remark (although this is not a mechanism but a boundary set).
    With a small “climate sensitivity”, as shown by many researchers, CO2 would have to be a minor player.

  100. It is very difficult to explain mathematical concepts to non-mathematicians, but I shall again do my best with Mr. Glassman, who has difficulty in understanding the meaning of initial conditions in an object that evolves over time, such as the climate. He muses about the Big Bang as the initial condition for the climate, when it ought to be obviousthat we do not possess adequate information reliably to determine the current state or future evolution of the climate by reference to what happened somewhere in what is now the universe 13.82 billion years ago.

    In any object that evolves over time, a mathematician may select any chosen starting moment, conventionally represented by the lower-case “t” with a zero as subscript. It is like taking a photograph of the object at that instant. In order to predict reliably the evolution of the object from t0 over a chosen period, it is necessary to know the initial conditions at t0, and to know all the rules that govern the objects evolution from t0. However, in a chaotic object – and Mr. Glassman’s quotation from the glossary in the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report shows quite clearly that the chaoticity of which the IPCC speaks in para. 14.2.2.2 of the Third Assessment Report is in the climate object itself and not merely in the models of it, as he had previously attempted to suggest – the sensitivity to even the most minuscule perturbation in the initial state of the object at any chosen t0 is extreme. Very great precision, therefore, is required in knowing the initial conditions of a chaotic object, and that precision will forever be unattainable in the climate.

    And if Mr. Glassman seriously imagines that the climate is not governed by equations, he should attempt to read any standard textbook of climatological physics, though he will need a considerable knowledge of mathematics first. The question whether the climate is adequately represented by the equations as we have them now is, of courrse, quite another matter.

    Mr. Glassman then says that in an earlier comment he had given an example estabishing that a feedback had been determined theoretically. Again, it would be helpful if he would familiarize himself with the language of science, which is mathematics. To determine a feedback is to establish a quantitative value for it. Since he stated no value in his earlier comment, he had not determined the feedback in question. I say again, no feedback can yet be determined either empirically or theoretically.

    To make matters still worse, Mr. Glassman seems to imagine that cloud cover is constant. One has only to look at the changing pictures of Earth from space to realize that cloud cover is constant neither regionally nor globally. Indeed, Pinker et al. (2005) published data, more recently reanalyzed and largely confirmed by my colleague Dr. Jonathan Boston and published with a paper by me on the subject in the 2010 Annual Proceedings of the World Federation of Scientists, establishing that the radiative forcing from the naturally-occurring reduction in global cloud cover that occurred from 1983-2001 was greater than the entire anthropogenic greenhouse-gas forcing since 1750. It did not persist, of course: the cloud cover returned in late 2001, interestingly in lock-step with the phase-transition from the warming to the cooling phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation; and, since 2001, there has been no global warming at all.

  101. But in a geological time-frame of a few hundreds of thousands of years, the general conditions of the Earth have not been so well regulated and show (Vostok Ice Core) temperature excursions from -8° to +2° C.
    “Paleoclimate studies indicate that in the past billion years the Earth’s absolute global mean surface temperature has not varied by more than 3% (~8 K = ~8°C) either side of the 750-million-year mean (291 K = 18°C).” according to Scotese.
    (see http://www.scotese.com/earth.htm)

  102. @Zeke says

    “I would not say it is entirely correct to say that religion and science both seek for truth, but one uses experimentation and observation to prove or disprove its claims. The reason this is not entirely true is because spiritual traditions must be practiced.”

    A hearty thank you for raising this point. A number of contributors have mentioned religion as if the old Catholic church was typical of religious thinking now and there seems to be a general misunderstanding of what faith is. Faith is frequently equated with blind faith which is not normally accepted in science and engineering. It is however perfectly acceptable in religious studies because of the concept of revealed knowledge. There is plenty of revealed science in authentic religious scripture but atheists and agnostics find this terribly inconvenient preferring to cite infamous actions or teachings of the ‘followers’ and by association, besmirch the Revealer’s reputation and by implication, the validity of their Revelation. This has been effectively done during the whole period of the Enlightenment and it drives modern materialism.

    A single example will suffice: “Split the atom’s heart and you will find the sun.”

    It was reveal many centuries before it was confirmed that atoms had a “heart”.

    My point is that religious students are always seeking proofs and validation. It is now more than clear that some involved in climate science are actively discouraging the independent investigation of truth – the foundation stone of discovery, faith and confirmation.

    They demand instead a blind faith in the pronouncements of a select few who will make determinations of truth on “our behalf”, an action that vitiates true true science and real religion.

  103. Mr. Valencia says the climate seems to be a well-damped oscillating system with many negative feedback-loops keeping the temperature stable. If the climate object is damped so that the feedbacks are net-negative, then global temperature cannot undergo feedback-driven oscillation at all. The very small oscillations in global temperature that are observed, though sufficient to take the Earth in and out of ice ages every 100,000 years or so, are altogether insufficient to allow us to imagine that the feedback loop gain in the climate object falls anywhere near the interval [0.42, 0.74] that is implicit in the IPCC’s climate sensitivity estimates. The oscillations, therefore, are not driven by loop gains intermittently exceeding unity, as they are in an electronic circuit.

    Nor is it appropriate to talk of multiple feedback loops. The mathematical representation of feedbacks in the models takes the sum of all feedbacks and represents them in a single feedback loop. I suspect that even this will not do. A more appropriate model would perhaps be the bathtub with the plug out and the taps on. Depending upon the rate of influx of solar radiation and the rate of outflux from the atmosphere into the oceanic and outer-space heat-sinks, the temperature in the atmosphere will change. But, since the rates of influx and outflux do not vary by very much, there is not much change to temperature. Several mathematicians are now working on the bathtub model – which, of course, involves taking the time-integrals of the changes in influx and outflux. They are finding that this model actually works – and indicates that CO2 is at best a bit-part player in the changing climate.

    So far, and then only after much tampering with the temperature data to make the warming rate look worse than it really is, the greatest supra-decadal rate of warming that we have observed in the global instrumental record was equivalent to 2 K/century, and that rate persisted for 33 years from 1974 to 2006 inclusive. But that period included within it an entire 26-year warming phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. During the cooling phases, even with CO2 being added to the mix, we do not seem to be getting any warming at all. On average, then, it would be surprising to see global temperature increasing by more than 1 K this century, if that. And that is before we allow for the half-century of global cooling, driven by the now-serious drop in solar activity since 1960.

    The more one looks at all this, the more one concludes that Dick Lindzen was right when he concluded that there was not much more probability that the world would be warmer than today by 2050 than that it would be cooler. The remaining question is how quickly the international scientific community will realize that continuing to pretend that CO2 is a major problem is undermining its credibility and thus its justification for future funding of this or any other scientific discipline.

  104. Galileo’s greatest discoveries & insights were made without aid of Bacon’s philosophy, but the two thinkers did correspond on the question of the tides, about which both were wrong, but Bacon less so. Kepler correctly attributed the tides to lunar influences. Still, it’s possible that some of the theoretical discussion in Galileo’s “Two Systems” owes to Bacon’s thought.

    I date the birth of modern science from Copernicus, who waited until he was dying to publish “On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres” in 1543. The scientific method was IMO developed between his time & Newton’s “Principia” of 1687, with perhaps some refinement in the 19th century to accommodate some other procedures besides pure induction.

  105. Should add that I start with Copernicus & Vesalius, since they first broke with veneration for the authority of the Ancients (eg, Aristotle, Ptolemy & Galen) & Church doctrine based upon interpretation of the Bible, Scholastic tradition & those same Ancients. The initial step in developing the modern scientific method was to place observation ahead of received authority. Copernicus did however continue Aristotle’s perfectly circular orbits, which made predictions based upon his simpler heliocentric system less accurate than Ptolemy’s more complicated geocentric model.

    Today we’re back to venerating the authority of self-appointed or Team-anointed state-sanctioned experts, adepts of the new religion.

  106. Thanks again, Christopher, Lord Monckton.
    I will be watching for the presentation of your bathtub model for the Earth’s climate.
    I wish you the best, even though I think a generally simple view of this most complex system as an input-output black box is bound to either fail in making useful short-range predictions or explain the inner workings of the chaotic system. In this bathtub there are things moving in the water, emergent phenomena locally changing its viscosity and forming vortices, dead pools and circulation cells.

  107. Monckton of Brenchley, September 8, 2013 @ 9:40 pm.

    Your ad hominems and personal assumptions do not enhance your pretenses to be an authority. They only detract from your credibility.

    I did not muse about the Big Bang. I gave it as a candidate answer for you to use in my challenge to provide the initial conditions for chaotic climate. You have not responded. I’ll give you a better hint: let the time be at the formation of the oceans. Now what are the initial conditions?

    Students (pl: he who knows not and knows that he knows not; distinct from a fool: he who knows not and knows not that he knows not) need to grasp the difference between the real world and models of it. All scientific knowledge, as distinct from data, is contained in its models of the real world. The two notions are distinct.

    I agree with you that a mathematician is free to fix his own t0, but that choice applies to his current model, also freely chosen regardless of whether it fits the real world. Perhaps the lesson here is that objects in science are just those that can be observed and measured, i.e., data. Show us the equations you observed, show us the initial conditions, and I’ll show you the underlying model.

    You refer to IPCC TAR for using chaos without actually citing it. Here is what it says:

    “The climate system is a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore the long term prediction of future exact climate states is not possible.” TAR, Technical Summary, G.2 Climate Processes and Modelling, p. 78.

    “A complex, non-linear system may display what is technically called chaotic behaviour. This means that the behaviour of the system is critically dependent on very small changes of the initial conditions.” TAR, §1.2.2, Natural Variability of Climate, p. 91.

    Of course, the climate is neither nonlinear nor chaotic. These are strictly mathematical concepts, and the real world has no observable mathematics. A simple change of coordinate systems can convert the model of a real world system between linear and nonlinear. The unfortunate choice of uncorrelated data can change the model of a real world system from predictable to chaotic. Nonlinear and chaotic have no known definitions outside of the mathematics. IPCC was wrong, but this particular error is greatly toned down in AR4. And for the latter, it was more careful and it stepped up the rigor at bit:

    “A parallel evolution toward increased complexity and resolution has occurred in the domain of numerical weather prediction, and has resulted in a large and verifiable improvement in operational weather forecast quality. This example alone shows that present models are more realistic than were those of a decade ago. There is also, however, a continuing awareness that models do not provide a perfect simulation of reality, because resolving all important spatial or time scales remains far beyond current capabilities, and also because the behaviour of such a complex nonlinear system may in general be chaotic.

    “It has been known since the work of Lorenz (1963) that even simple models may display intricate behaviour because of their nonlinearities. The inherent nonlinear behaviour of the climate system appears in climate simulations at all time scales (Ghil, 1989). In fact, the study of nonlinear dynamical systems has become important for a wide range of scientific disciplines, and the corresponding mathematical developments are essential to interdisciplinary studies. Simple models of ocean-atmosphere interactions, climate-biosphere interactions or climate-economy interactions may exhibit a similar behaviour, characterised by partial unpredictability, bifurcations and transition to chaos. AR4, ¶1.5.1 Model Evolution and Model Hierarchies, p. 113.

    The first two sentences refer to numerical weather prediction as an example of the subject of climate, which begins at “There is also”. The last sentence of ¶1 is ambiguous, correct if “such” refers to the model and not to the real world. The next paragraph outlining the study of chaotic systems is much better, but requires recognition that the insertion of “nonlinear” in “the study of nonlinear dynamical systems” shifts the meaning from including the real world back to just models, and that the word “inherent” is wrong. IPCC seems to be converging, so one can hope that it might get the matter right in AR5.

    You say Mr. Glassman seems to imagine that cloud cover is constant. It’s not my imagination that it is constant in the GCMs, as I actually said, and that that treatment removes its dominating feedback power. You missed the point entirely. Cloud cover decreases with increasing TSI and increases with increasing surface temperature. That means cloud cover is not constant, and that is a dual feedback. That determination is made contradicting your ad hoc rule, To determine a feedback is to establish a quantitative value for it.

    You say, And if Mr. Glassman seriously imagines that the climate is not governed by equations, he should attempt to read any standard textbook of climatological physics, though he will need a considerable knowledge of mathematics first. The question whether the climate is adequately represented by the equations as we have them now is, of course, quite another matter.

    If you actually found a passage in some climatology text supporting your position, I challenge you to quote it, along with the reference. Then I will show you where you and the text both went wrong, as done above with the IPCC on climate chaos. You close with a comically self-contradictory conclusion: climate is “governed by equations” which are inadequate. I suppose that the existence of those natural equations is matter of faith.

    You say, Very great precision, therefore, is required in knowing the initial conditions of a chaotic object, and that precision will forever be unattainable in the climate. Perhaps precision is unattainable in the climate because you can not imagine, much less observe, what those initial conditions might be, or to what they might apply. What precision might you expect for the time of formation of the oceans? You will find with practice that “very great precision” is required in the use of language.

  108. RoHa says:
    September 8, 2013 at 6:26 pm
    @Theo Goodwin

    ‘“Popper intentionally removed Cause & Effect from his model of science…”
    Actually, David Hume did that.’

    “There is reason to believe that Hume was inspired by Al Ghazali. If not, he independently reproduced Al Ghazali’s ideas, but without Ghazali’s contention that God causes all events, and establishes the regular correlations.”

    Any time you want, put Ghazali’s writings specific to causality next to Hume’s writings. You will find that Hume’s explication is light years ahead of his time and depends on no one. Hume was a true genius.

    “but without Ghazali’s contention that God causes all events, and establishes the regular correlations.”

    This is just mind boggling. Do you really mean to suggest that the postulate of God is a small matter that separates the two thinkers. Hume’s great achievement was to remove God and all God-like causes from science. Ghazali remained dependent on God for his account of knowledge. Do you not understand that Hume was the first to show that metaphysics can be removed from science but that Ghazali had no clue that the task was even important?

  109. RoHa says:
    September 8, 2013 at 5:39 pm
    @Theo Goodwin

    “To go farther back than Galileo in identifying the creator of scientific method is eccentric.”

    ‘I would say that nominating anyone “the creator of scientific method” is eccentric. The creation of scientific method seems to me to be a process of slow development and refinement, and not the product of a single mind.’

    Then you will really enjoy reading “Two New World Systems” shown up-screen from here. You will agree that Galileo invented scientific method.

    “what made modern science possible, Newton’s calculus.”
    “Or Leibniz’s.”

    Leibniz did not apply his calculus to the physics or astronomy of the day. Newton explained that given a mountain high enough and a cannon of the correct dimensions he could launch a cannon ball into orbit – Sputnik is born! Newton synthesized the physics of the heavens, Kepler, and earthly physics, Galileo.

  110. Theo Goodwin says:
    September 9, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    Galileo certainly made important contributions to the development of the scientific method, but as I commented earlier, IMO its rebirth in the early modern period owes to Copernicus in the physical sciences & Vesalius in life science. Galileo was a convinced Copernican even before his telescopic observations, & may have been encouraged to reject Aristotle’s physics by Copernicus’ rejection of ancient Greek astronomy (except for the few ancient heliocentrists, consider impious even by their fellow pagans).

  111. Mr. Glassman, who puzzlingly accuses me of ad hominem remarks, continues to exhibit more than a little confusion about elementary mathematical and physical concepts. Let me do my best to clarify matters.

    He begins by reasserting that he considered the Big Bang a credible set of initial conditions for studying the evolution of the climate. His musings on this subject are, alas, at odds with more than a century of understanding in physics. For the physical laws we observe today did not apply at the moment of the Big Bang. They only came into existence a minuscule fraction of a moment after the Big Bang itself. For this reason, inter alia, we cannot prove that there is or is not a God; and, in the other direction, we cannot discern anything at all useful about the evolution of the climate from studying the Big Bang, which occurred 13.82 billion years ago.
    He goes on to propose the formation of the oceans as the appropriate starting moment t0 at which to measure the initial conditions in the climate. However, that too is not close enough to today’s conditions to give us useful guidance. Indeed, our data are manifestly inadequate to obtain a set of initial conditions of anything like sufficient resolution that far back in time. As I have tried to explain to him, a chaotic object such as the climate is subject to bifurcations (what used to be called phase transitions) that arise deterministically but indeterminably with minuscule variations in the initial conditions. For that reason, the choice of t0 for studying the evolution of the climate object should be as close as possible to the present, for that is when we have the least inadequate data.

    He complains that I refer to the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report without citing it. However, it is self-evident from the citation that I had represented its meaning correctly and sufficiently. He then disagrees with the IPCC, saying that the climate is neither non-linear nor chaotic. There are numerous self-evident non-linearities throughout the climate object, but – as I have said before – it is difficult to explain concepts in mathematics to a non-mathematician. But let us try. A non-linear function is one whose graph is not a straight line. Gravity, to take one fundamental influence on the climate, varies as the square of the distance between two astronomical bodies. It is a non-linear function of distance. The radiative forcing from a proportionate change in CO2 concentration is a logarithmic function of the proportionate change. Again, the function is non-linear. And so on, and so on. To pretend that the climate is linear is to err fundamentally.

    Non-linear functions may be ordered or, under certain conditions or across certain intervals,, chaotic. For practical purposes, it matters not whether Lorenz (1963) was correct to characterize the climate object as what is now called chaotic (he himself did not use the term in that great paper). The difficulty that the models have in attempting to predict the climate is that, whether or not the climate object is chaotic, it behaves – in our limited observational capacity – as though it were chaotic.

    Mr. Glassman then demonstrates just how much of a non-mathematician he is by saying that “the real world has no observable mathematics”. Of course it does. Refer to any elementary textbook of physics, or watch a thermometer or barometer or hygrometer or radiometer. If an object can be measured, it has observable mathematics. He muses that “a simple change of co-ordinate systems can convert the model of a real-world system between linear and non-linear”. But that statement manifestly contradicts his immediately preceding statement that “the real world has no observable mathematics”. Converting some non-linearity in the observable climate object to linearity – a process well understood by mathematicians, and known as linearization – is of course a mathematical process.

    Next, he asserts, meaninglessly, that “The unfortunate choice of uncorrelated data can change the model of a real-world system from predictable to chaotic”. To study the real world, we measure it as best we can and use the resultant data. Whether or not the data we obtain are correlatively or even causatively linked, those are the data we have. And it is not the model of the climate object that behaves chaotically: it is the climate object itself that does so. The ambition of climate modeling, though it is largely futile over the long timescales the IPCC plays with, is to attempt the opposite of what Mr. Glassman, in this immensely confused sentence appears to be suggesting: it is to model the climate so that what appears chaotic and deterministic becomes sufficiently ordered to be determinable.

    Mr. Glassman compounds his nonsense by saying, “Non-linear and chaotic have no known difference outside … mathematics.” Of course they do. The word “chaos”, for instance, was used in ordinary speech long before it was adopted for use in mathematics.

    Next, he says that “the insertion of ‘non-linear’ in ‘the study of non-linear dynamical systems’ shifts the meaning from including the real world back to just models.” Codswallop. The CO2 radiative forcing, for instance, is a non-linear function of the proportionate change in concentration whether we choose to model it or not.

    Mr. Glassman goes on to say that cloud cover is constant in the climate models. As I had previously explained, it is not constant in the real world. Nor is it constant in the models.
    Vexatiously, he next refuses to acknowledge the meaning of the word “determine” in mathematics, saying that my definition of it is an “ad hoc rule”. The word literally means “define the limits”, and it is in this sense that it is used in mathematics. Thus, to determine climate sensitivity to a CO2 doubling is to establish a value, or an interval of values with upper and lower bounds, for the amount of warming a doubling of CO2 concentration may be expected to cause. To assert that a particular temperature feedback exists, as Mr. Glassman does, is – whether he likes it or not – not the same thing in mathematics as to determine it. Therefore, as I had correctly stated in the head posting, it is not possible to determine any temperature feedback, so that the IPCC’s imagined near-tripling of the direct warming to be expected in response to a CO2 doubling to allow for temperature feedbacks is mere guesswork, and uneducated guesswork at that.

    Mr. Glassman futilely maintains his assertion that “the climate is not governed by equations”. He asks me to find a passage in some climatology text supporting my contention that it is. It is time he did a little work himself, rather than making stuff up. Let him turn to any textbook of climatological physics. He will find it full of equations. The equations express the physical laws that govern the climate. He states, more than somewhat arrogantly, that if I refer him to any such text he will demonstrate its error, just as he claims to have done with the IPCC’s account of mathematical chaos. Since Mr. Glassman plain has no understanding of what mathematical chaos is, he has of course failed to refute the IPCC’s understanding of it. And, since he has no understanding of the laws of physics that govern the climate and are expressed as equations, he will be in similar difficulty in attempting to maintain that equations (or, more precisely, the physical laws that the equations describe) govern the climate. He may like to start with Roe (2009) on temperature feedbacks and let me know what Roe (a student of the formidable Dick Lindzen) got wrong.

    Next, Mr. Glassman says I perpetrate a comic self-contradiction when I say that the equations that govern the climate are inadequate. There is no contradiction at all. We do our best to discern the physical laws, and we express our discernment in equations. Some of the equations that govern the climate are now demonstrated – such as the fundamental equation of radiative transfer, which was first derived empirically by Stefan (the only Slovene after whom an equation has been named) and was later demonstrated theoretically by his Austrian pupil Ludwig Boltzmann. Other equations, such as the climate-sensitivity equation, are not yet demonstrated and are very likely not to be adequate yet, which is why there has been so much less global warming than the models had so confidently but unwisely predicted.

    Mr. Glassman goes on to say, “I suppose that the existence of those natural equations is a matter of faith.” No, it is a matter of painstaking observation, followed by painstaking measurement, followed by the painstaking application of pre-existing theory to the results.
    He then says, “Precision is unattainable in the climate because you cannot imagine, much less observe, what those initial conditions might be, or to what they might apply.” Look about you, man. Can you not see the world? Can you not photograph it? Can you not understand the elementary concept of taking measurements at a particular moment, which mathematicians call to? We can observe the initial conditions, but we cannot measure them to a sufficient resolution or precision to use them as the basis for modeling the future evolution of an object that behaves chaotically, as the climate does.

    He ends with a childish ad-hominem that “you will find with practice that ‘very great precision’ is required in the use of language”. Well, it is he, not I, who has been imprecise, using terms such as “determine” in a non-standard sense without making it explicit that that is what he is doing. One is left wondering whether he is himself confused or is yet another of the new species of troll that has recently become evident, deliberately trying to confuse the argument in the hope of undermining it and thus of defending the now-indefensible climate-extremist position. His own imprecision of language is so great that I cannot tell whether his confusion is inadvertent or deliberate. Perhaps, therefore, he will be kind enough to go away and examine either an elementary textbook of mathematics or his conscience or both before posting anything here again. Attempts to sow deliberate confusion on matters of science and mathematics with the aim of pursuing the poisonous political objective of the climate-extremists are downright evil, which is why I have gone to some lengths here to dispel the confusion that Mr. Glassman has sown.

  112. Theo Goodwin says:
    September 9, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    I do not mean to reserve all credit for Galileo. If you haven’t read the book I referenced up-screen, please do. You will find it a true joy. Galileo’s thought experiments about physics and astronomy are revelatory. Yes, Galileo seems to have remained a Copernican. Had he not been under severe constraints of “house arrest” he might have become a Keplerian.

  113. @Theo Goodwin

    “Do you really mean to suggest that the postulate of God is a small matter that separates the two thinkers?”

    No. Why would you jump to such a conclusion?

    I simply pointed out that Ghazali’s ideas on causation were similar to, and may have inspired, Hume. They both denied necessary causality, both agreed that observation only shows the succession of events, and both agreed that it is we make the link as a mental habit.

    But Ghazali’s scepticism led him to fideism and mysticism. Hume’s led to scepticism about God.

    Some good discussion of the similarities in arguments and ideas here:

    http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Medi/MediAdam.htm

    http://www.ghazali.org/articles/gz-riker.pdf

    http://www.muslimphilosophy.com/ma/works/ma-gz-ps.pdf

    As far as the influence is concerned, that is less easy to show. We certainly need not assume that Hume shared the 20th century European ignorance of Islamic and medieval philosophy, but to confidently assert direct influence I think we need a little more evidence than the quotation Mashhad Al-Allaf gives us.

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