Why Climate Science is Fallible

Guest essay by Dr. David Deming

We live in a scientific age. The sciences are viewed as the only real sources of authoritative information. Knowledge derived from other epistemological systems is regarded as having less credibility. The conclusions of philosophy are untestable, and religion is often cynically interpreted as nothing more than superstition and myth. Public policy decisions made upon the basis of scientific recommendations may have economic consequences measured in trillions of dollars. Yet few people realize how unreliable scientific authority can be.

The popular conception is that scientists dispassionately discover truth through a foolproof technique called the scientific method. In some simplistic views, the scientific method reduces to a series of procedural steps analogous to instructions in a cookbook. The results produced by this hypothetical scientific method are verified by something called peer review, a process that allegedly certifies reliability.

But the common understanding of science is largely an ignorant misconception.

Although most science is based on observation and reason, there is no such thing as an agreed upon scientific method. It doesn’t exist. With the exception of supernaturalism, almost everything is allowed in the sciences. Both inductive and deductive logic are employed. Analogical reasoning is alright. So are speculation and hunches. Serendipity plays a role in scientific discovery. Both radioactivity and penicillin were discovered accidentally. Objectivity is not required or taught, nor are there any totally objective human beings. Bias is ubiquitous and fraud occurs.

Peer review is a highly unreliable process that produces nothing but opinion. A study conducted in 2010 concluded that reviewers agree “at a rate barely exceeding what would be expected by chance.” Furthermore, the peer review process may be, and usually is, cynically manipulated. Scientists aggregate in social cliques that facilitate orthodoxy and suppress dissent. When manuscripts are submitted for review authors are commonly asked to suggest reviewers. Invariably these tend to be acquaintances holding the same views. Thus peer review often amounts to pal review. Neither does peer review detect fraud. In 2011, Tilburg University in the Netherlands suspended psychologist Diederik Stapel for publishing at least 55 scientific research papers based on fabricated data.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has said that climate science is “irrefutable.” He is categorically wrong. There is no certainty in science. The very notion of scientific consensus implies that the validity of scientific knowledge is subject to human judgment and therefore inherently problematic. No one speaks of consensus when discussing geometrical proofs. Scientists are not philosophers trained to avoid intellectual fallacies, but technical specialists possessing ideological and political persuasions that influence their scientific activity. Like other human beings, they tend to take note of what is consistent with preexisting beliefs and filter out what contradicts preconceptions. The influence of money can be corrupting. A group of people offered billions of dollars to investigate climate change is unlikely to conclude that it is a benign, natural process unworthy of further attention.

The history of science is a chronicle of revision. For two thousand years, physicists maintained that heavy objects fall faster than light ones. Astronomers thought the Sun moved around the Earth. Physicians supposed that plagues were caused by bad air and treated their patients by bleeding them to death. The icons of the Scientific Revolution, Galileo, Kepler, and Newton, all made serious errors. In the late eighteenth century, Neptunists formulated a theory to explain the origin of rocks. They described their conclusions as incontrovertible because everywhere they looked they found evidence that supported their theoretical conceptions. The Neptunist theory turned out to be completely erroneous. At the end of the nineteenth century, geologists thought the Earth was less than 100 million years old. Radioactive dating in the twentieth century showed they were in error by a factor of 46. In the 1920s, American geologists rejected Alfred Wegener’s theory of continental drift with near unanimity. They were all wrong. The history of science is a history of error. Has the process of history ceased? Has human nature changed?

We are now asked to change the world’s economy on the basis of yet another scientific theory. The fifth assessment report of the IPCC has concluded that there is a 95 percent probability that humans are responsible for climate change. We are induced to accept this conclusion on the basis of naive faith in scientific authority. But this faith can only come from an ignorance of how science really works. Count me out.

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David Deming (ddeming@ou.edu) is a geophysicist and author of a three-volume history of science, Science and Technology in World History (McFarland, 2010, 2012).

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203 thoughts on “Why Climate Science is Fallible

  1. But no-one is actually DOING anything about it. There are lots of words, but absolutely no action whatsoever. Who is going to “Bell the cat”.

  2. from Wiki…
    The debate was not just between scientists. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, one of the most respected authors of the day, took sides with the neptunists. The fourth act of his famous work Faust contains a dialogue between a neptunist and a plutonist, the latter being Mephistopheles, the antagonist of the play who is a devil. Doing so he implicitly expressed his favour for the neptunist theory, though he also did so explicitly and sometimes even harshly elsewhere.

    Perhaps an extension of the historical accounts of history could include some documentation as to the propensity or frequency of demonizing tactics against skeptics in defending a science theory. That may be asking too much on historical granularity though.

  3. That is a hard question to answer. Our leading politicians are no longer accessible by the public-at-large. Our emails and phone calls go to dead files, never to be read or heard. It is no longer possible to even speak with one in person, they are covered by their minions who do their bidding using our tax dollars.
    A tax revolution where everyone stopped paying taxes to their government would do it but who is the first to start that roller coaster?

  4. “Scientists are not philosophers trained to avoid intellectual fallacies”

    Yes they are. Or, at least they were. Most good scientists are well aware of many existing intellectual fallacies. That’s why there is a distinction between “hard” and “soft” sciences.

  5. Thank you Dr. Deming; very good article. Any suggestions on how to fix our current situation?

  6. If by “method” one means a deductive procedure, there is no such thing as “the scientific method.”

    When C.S. Peirce wrote about “the method of science,” he didn’t mean a cookbook recipe. He meant that kind of inquiry which, by its own account, can go wrong (investigatorial fallibilism, the independence of the real) as well as right (no radical skepticism, the discoverability of the real), and which puts those ideas into practice: self-checking, self-criticizing, self-correcting. That requires whatever it takes to expedite time’s slow tell – (well-prepared) guessing as well as deduction and inductive testing, not to mention alertness to serendipity. That’s kind of a method, albeit not the cookie-cutter variety.

  7. Excellent article.
    One minor quibble re your statement that: “[a]t the end of the nineteenth century, geologists thought the Earth was less than 100 million years old. Radioactive dating in the twentieth century showed they were in error by a factor of 46.” In fact, most 19th century geologists (except those who bought into the Biblical account), following Lyell, realized that the Earth must be 100s of millions of years old, whereas it was the physicists who denied “deep time.” Quoting Wikipedia here: “The last estimate Thomson [Lord Kelvin] gave, in 1897, was: ‘that it was more than 20 and less than 40 million year old, and probably much nearer 20 than 40′. In 1899 and 1900, John Joly of the Trinity College, Dublin calculated the rate at which the oceans should have accumulated salt from erosion processes, and determined that the oceans were about 80 to 100 million years old.” Unfortunately, as you note, the physicists failed to take into account radioactivity, which was discovered in 1896 by the chemist Becquerel. In the history of Earth science, it is often the case that the physicists are the last to come around.

  8. Excellent article that tells it like it really is. I am sure that most scientists would recognise the truth in it, but they have mortgages to pay and families to support after all, and just because they are scientists it doesn’t make them moral Supermen.

    I would love to see it published in the Guardian, but I won’t be holding my breath!

  9. David Deming,

    Excellent summary. The readers here know this but how to reach the general population is the real question from this point forward.

  10. I thought the scientific method was as follows: (1) someone comes up with a theory (perhaps expressed by a computer model). (2) The theory makes predictions about reality. (3) If measurements of reality differ from the predictions, then the theory is invalidated; if they do not differ, then the theory is cautiously accepted as not being wrong so far.

    Is my understanding wrong?

  11. „Although most science is based on observation and reason, there is no such thing as an agreed upon scientific method. It doesn’t exist. “

    To claim no thing is senseless. It only has sense to argue on things.

    “Both inductive and deductive logic are employed. “

    What IS logic? If you employ logic, there may be some reasons. One reason is that you belief in the ‘religion’ of logic. Another reason may be that logic exist. Logic starts with the recognition: ‘It is impossible that some thing is true and in the same time untrue.’

    The method of science is inseparable bound to the ability of a living consciousness to recognize. There is nothing to show and/or nothing to prove. All is to be recognized.

    Climate science is not fallible; there may be imperfection in the recognition of the truth of climate scientists. You cannot prove why climate science is fallible. You only can recognize it.

    “The conclusions of philosophy are untestable“

    Yes. But that doesn’t mean that sophia is not to be recognized. Philosophy is the basis of science.

    This scientific age is not really a scientific age; it is an age, people believe in the sayings of scientists.

    I’m sorry to say that. A major output of claims in today science make use of the same error as your claim on no thing.

    If people are agree on that what IS including logic that exist as immaterial structure of nature, they can agree on a method.

    “The fifth assessment report of the IPCC has concluded that there is a 95 percent probability that humans are responsible for climate change. We are induced to accept this conclusion on the basis of naive faith in scientific authority.”

    Look to the basis:

    ” Argumentum ad numerum: This fallacy is closely related to the argumentum ad populum. It consists of asserting that the more people who support or believe a proposition, the more likely it is that that proposition is correct. For example: “All I’m saying is that thousands of people believe in pyramid power, so there must be something to it.”

    Argumentum ad verecundiam (Appeal to authority): The Appeal to Authority uses admiration of a famous person to try and win support for an assertion. For example: “Isaac Newton was a genius and he believed in God.”

    V.

  12. All very true.

    However, in the case of the IPCC and climate science, I would point out that the monetary stakes are higher than they have been for any scientific endeavor, ever.

    Do you think that might explain the record breaking bias and fraud?

  13. Correlation and cause and effect – since atmospheric CO2 concentrations have been continually arising for the past 15 years, and the warming of the earth has paused, should one conclude that increasing levels of atmospheric CO2 has a cooling effect on global temperatures? Why does the previous 20-year warming period from 1979-1998 set the precedent that increasing CO2 levels causes warming?
    So, warming or cooling can happen with rising CO2 levels. Hmmm, maybe CO2 is not such a big factor when global temperatures are concerned. But don’t innudate me with logic and facts. Let me devise my own little theory and call it established science, and declare that it is settled.

  14. Volker Doormann says:
    October 1, 2013 at 12:13 pm
    “What IS logic? If you employ logic, there may be some reasons. One reason is that you belief in the ‘religion’ of logic. Another reason may be that logic exist. Logic starts with the recognition: ‘It is impossible that some thing is true and in the same time untrue.’ ”

    Any Logic is an axiomatic system. We use boolean logic because it works. But we also use bayesian probability for expressing degrees of certainty.

    Aristotle’s fallacies are merely examples of non sequiturs. One often gets the feeling that journalists are taught the fallacies in journalism school as a rulebook of what to use in their propaganda; IPCC directors probably as well (Is it a coincidence that the EU’s eternal climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard is a journalist by education?)

  15. The scientific method is indeed only a ‘loose ‘ set of guidelines – but there are guidelines that an enquiring mind should follow. The real thrust of the scientific method, including the proposition or theory, methodology, data analysis, conclusions, etc, etc is that it provides a ROBUST REPEATABLE RECORD of the ‘work’. The post-work REVIEW (peer review) serves to demonstrate to others the effectiveness of both the work AND the communication/description of the work so that it can be then accepted as ‘valid’ – Note that ‘valid’ does not mean it is necessarily ‘correct’ !
    Saying there is no such thing as a ‘scientific method’ is misleading, and I discourage such a stance. Sure, scientists should follow the generic ‘guidelines’ and for that I fully accept that these guidelines are called ‘The scientific method’ – but the popular conception is indeed how it SHOULD be done!

  16. “We are induced to accept this conclusion on the basis of naive faith in scientific authority.”

    David, you have slipped a bit away from real science into post normal science, where everyone can have a go if they feel like it. Or even have a discussion group of psychologists, sociologists, butchers, bakers and candlestick makers to discuss the terrible mistakes made by Newton. This is the new paradigm it seems. Classically, falsifying a theory requires more than opinion. You are right about peer review, especially in this modern age – someone’s mere opinion can hold sway there – look at how the summary for policymakers is “negotiated” by politicians – how can that be a summary of science – that is what you appear to be describing.

    Your admonitions that Newton made mistakes (and neglecting the fact that he virtually made the universe for us and invented real mathematics and science while he was at it) is egregiously condescending to one of the few dozens of real scientists who did real science in the history of all humankind. He made mistakes! If you want to call a 17th Century, unparalleled genius, using his gray matter, and largely tools he invented, along with several branches of physics and astronomy, a man to be remembered for his mistakes, the mistakes must have been whoppers!! And pray, how do we know he made mistakes (although I might call them near approximations)? We know it because another scientist fixed them (not just had an opinion) and we all know it was the bumbling Einstein who stumbled into it. And geologists were all wrong about continental drift until other scientists fixed it. Are you seeing a pattern on how science works here? Dare we have enough naive trust in scientific authority to venture off to the moon? Or even get in an airplane? Is your computer magic or a product of good science? In post normal science we are to put our trust in philosophers. Most likely young Isaac read the philosophies of the moderns and classics in their original languages but I don’t think that would have been much help to him.

    Dave, you can be excused as a young man having come into an era of anti-science that you’ve mistaken for the real thing, the likes of which we old guys are fighting against on WUWT. Don’t take what you see going on as science in the climate synod. You certainly can’t trust what the IPCC are doing, but don’t tar science with the same brush.

  17. Ben U’s post reminds me of an excellent essay I found some years ago by Peter Medawar called ‘The Art of the Soluble’. Written in the 1960’s it comes from a time when scientists, and Medawar was a nobel prize winner, had a different self perception based on a different understanding of the pursuit of knowledge.

    In it, he begins by quoting Arthur Koestler from the book The Act of Creation':

    ‘No scientist is admired for failing in the attempt to solve problems that lie beyond his competence. The most he can hope for is the kindly contempt earned by the utopian politician. If politics is the art of the possible, research is surely the art of the soluble. Both are immensely practical minded affairs.’

    Medawar goes on to write

    ‘Good scientists study the most important problems they think they can solve. ….That is why some of the most important biological problems have not yet appeared on the agenda of practical research.’

    What seems to have been lost sight of by many climate scientists, by their government sponsoring bureaus and by many politicians, is this mind set of ‘the soluble’ and the concomitant humility when tackling transparently insoluble problems, as well as the concomitant common sense in not promising/assuming results when taking on such problems in the first place.

  18. Gary Pearse says:
    October 1, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    I agree. This essay has actually quite annoyed me – but maybe that’s because I am ‘old school’ and was taught by real scientists with a very high degree of honour and integrity and indeed pride.
    If the author is young, as you say, he can be excused, but at the very least I think he needs to grasp that such thinking (i.e. that there is no defined method – though granted, it’s not present in the IPCC rubbish!) is really no way for a genuine scientist to think !

  19. Gary Pearse says:
    October 1, 2013 at 12:29 pm
    “In post normal science we are to put our trust in philosophers. Most likely young Isaac read the philosophies of the moderns and classics in their original languages but I don’t think that would have been much help to him.”

    Ravetz, the inventor of Post Normal Science, is surely not a noteworthy philosopher. Next you’ll call Adorno an imporant philosopher. They are similarly incoherent; and both Marxists.

    To the opposite; current scientific thinking (not the IPCC kind) owes a lot to philosophers like the early Wittgenstein who founded logical positivism. (Even though, as Gödel proved, it has its limits)

  20. Kev-in-Uk says:
    October 1, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    apologies for not noticing/realising Dr Deming’s very last sentence ”Count me out” – but the meme struck me as being somewhat supportive of post-normal science!

  21. Although Richard Feynman famously said “philosophy of science is as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds,” he actually was a brilliant philosopher of science, and he summarizes the “key to science” beautifully in this one-minute video:

    Maybe they’ll play this video at future IPCC confabs, but I doubt it. It’s much to simple.

  22. What makes climate science – or any science – fallible is the propensity of scientists to be taken in by and/or diverted from honest inquiry by ideological dogma. Dogmatic belief causes many aspects of a subject of scientific investigation to be disregarded or misinterpreted, and AGW is the perfect example of this – obsession with carbon dioxide, essentially a non-factor in climate change, while disregarding the actual drivers of climate, starting with the Sun.

    AGW is rather like phrenology – the factor it considers most important has no more relevance to climate than the bumps on a person’s head have to his or her intelligence or character.

  23. “Both inductive and deductive logic are employed.”

    This is true, but I’ve met very few academic scientists who can accurately reason inductively with respect to even the simplest of everyday problems. They are always shocked to hear this.

    Great essay, by the way.

  24. So the difference between Philosophy and Science is given by some definitional claims about Philosophy and a collection of various shenanigans that people employed as Scientists have done?

    One could, I suppose, consider this a personal demonstration by Dreming about the lack of logic in Science.

    But there are definitions both to Philosophy and Science. The former Dreming presented in part and incorrectly, while the latter he refuses to acknowledge. Despite which, there are also the things that Philosophers have done that is not Philosophy. And there are the things that Scientists have done that are not Science.

    The problem with both Philosophy and Science is not that they lack definitions, it’s that the people employed in those professions lack the will to call bullshit on their colleagues that are doing something that doesn’t fit under those definitions, while pretending it does.

    It isn’t long thereafter that the foul-players start stating that there is no definition of Philosophy or of Science. And therefore everything is Philosophy, unless they don’t want it to be. And everything is Science, unless they don’t want it to be.

  25. Science usually eventually gets it right. It needs time. Arguments, counter-arguments, which usually leads nearer to the truth. That`s why we have to be more careful about climate science: it`s a young science, and needs time to mature.

  26. @John Campbell –
    Your understanding is correct and very neatly and concisely stated. Kudos to you for it.
    Now, if only the ideologues in the AGW crown could be made to understand this..

  27. Bollocks on the claim that there is no scientific method. Philosophers disagree on the definition of philosophy but we don’t conclude from that fact that philosophy doesn’t exist. Biologists employ differing definitions of evolution but we don’t conclude that the theory of evolution doesn’t exist. Lack of agreement on the precise definition of the scientific method is not in itself reason to conclude that no such thing exists. Abundant evidence to the contrary exists, such as monographs devoted to the topic, articles and other discussions in periodicals, and sections in science textbooks.

  28. I much prefer Karl Popper’s five hundred pages on The Logic of Scientific Discovery. If it was so easy as a thousand word essay then we might all do it. Dr. Deming immediately throws supernaturalism out, but how do we detect supernaturalism? That is the Problem of Demarcation which is relieved by the criterion of science, falsifiability. Much of what post-moderns regard as science is no more than technology where even a Witch Doctor can play.

    Benoit Mandelbrot and Nassim Nicholas Taleb caution against the careless induction that blinds us to The Black Swan that hides in our amazingly complex reality.

  29. Based upon the history of man, one could easily surmise that “consensus” and “certainty” are the enemies of truth in science. Perhaps our problem is not in what we know, but in how much we have yet to learn.

    I hope it does not take a century to bring sanity back to science. But the patterns set down in the past are not conducive to “certainty” being let go of easily.

  30. Hi all!

    Good points raised by Dr. David Deming. I’d just like to add that the Scientific Method could be ambiguous for doing Science, during the process itself, but it is the cornerstone in verifying the validity of that science. Reproducibility, falsifiability and empirical validation are concepts that remain central to the credibility of the theories, much as certain groups seek to forget its meaning, and look away.

    This is especially true in the case of the hard sciences, and Climatology is a hard science, at least until it is mixed with politics, economics and other social sciences. So I think we should not fall into the trap of neglecting the Scientific Method, rather we should tirelessly demand that is met.

  31. One of the best methods in science is letting the rearch done by competing research groups who try to tackle their concurrents.
    This works the better if the groups have equal opportunities.
    Science is not an individual affair and the properties of individual scientists almost do not matter.
    Several famous scientists were also active on terrains of alchemy and astrology. The scientist as a rational saint is a convenient myth.

  32. Far from being settled, science is a diffuse process receiving contributions from many fields which often contradict previous research. An example is the Hockey Stick, which could not discern temperature from other environmental influences on tree growth, and lost both the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age, both well established historically and globally, in the “noise” of competing environmental tree growth factors. Now from a previously uninvolved segment of the climate change controversy comes an eastern Mediterranean study of trees that follows a different path towards restoring the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age, and adds to their geographical spread and influence. http://www.heritagedaily.com/2013/09/first-long-temperature-reconstruction-for-the-eastern-mediterranean-based-on-tree-rings/99100?
    The use and abuse of “unprecedented” by the anthropogenic warming side has been allowed to stand because, as Dr. Deming notes, it is abetted by avarice and ignorance. And religious fervor. Scientific proof of earlier, greater warming during the past 10,000 years of the current Holocene interglacial – the Greenland ice cores – were dismissed by Dr. Trenberth in an email to me as being caused by “a Greenland hot spot.” And now he’s found the hidden warming in the deep oceans, where it hasn’t been and can’t be measured with precision, and which as Bob Tisdale and others have so clearly explained, is a physical impossibility.
    Volcanos and aerosols, oh my.
    Willis Eschenbach has done admirable work in taking volcanos out of the excuses, and aerosols are a desperate attempt to distract attention from natural climate variability. The farcical abuse of science by consensus is coming to its deserved end, as a monument to wasteful futility.

  33. A very well written summary I agree, but I think that it may be disingenuous to mention that “No one speaks of consensus when discussing geometrical proofs”.

    Many areas of science have to be taken on trust by lay persons, as simple self-evident proofs like those of plane geometry aren’t available. I take many areas of Quantum Mechanics on trust because they go far beyond my physics degree. I’m prepared to do the same with Geophysics as it isn’t my area at all.

    The difference with ‘climate science’ is perhaps:

    1/ That it doesn’t seem to be as vigorously debated within its peer group as ‘hard’ science is. I expect competing physical theories to be thrashed out in daily debate scrutinised by highly competitive specialists unwilling to accept anyone’s word. The professional climate science community seems to be much cosier – a form of consensus which may be suspicious in itself.

    2/ That it is so politically ‘hot’ – government policy isn’t much affected by string theory yet…

  34. “The sciences are viewed as the only real sources of authoritative information. Knowledge derived from other epistemological systems is regarded as having less credibility.”

    As a method of understanding the world and its systems, science claims to be more reliable because it restricts itself to what can be observed, measured, replicated, controlled for, etc. But it routinely concerns itself with what cannot be observed, measured, replicated or verified by experiment. It claims to have limits, but asserts its greatest authority on matters outside of those limits.

  35. “Of course, from the very beginning of the modern scientific enterprise, there have been scientists and philosophers who have been so impressed with the ability of the natural sciences to advance knowledge that they have asserted that these sciences are the only valid way of seeking knowledge in any field. A forthright expression of this viewpoint has been made by the chemist Peter Atkins, who in his 1995 essay “Science as Truth” asserts the “universal competence” of science. This position has been called scientism — a term that was originally intended to be pejorative but has been claimed as a badge of honor by some of its most vocal proponents. In their 2007 book Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalized, for example, philosophers James Ladyman, Don Ross, and David Spurrett go so far as to entitle a chapter “In Defense of Scientism.”” Austin L. Hughes

    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-folly-of-scientism

  36. DirkH says:
    October 1, 2013 at 12:24 pm
    Volker Doormann says:
    October 1, 2013 at 12:13 pm
    “What IS logic? If you employ logic, there may be some reasons. One reason is that you belief in the ‘religion’ of logic. Another reason may be that logic exist. Logic starts with the recognition: ‘It is impossible that some thing is true and in the same time untrue.’ ”

    Any Logic is an axiomatic system.

    That says nothing, because it includes the claim that the basis of logic do not has a foundation.

    “We use boolean logic because it works.

    That’s not the point. The point is whether logic exist or not exist, also if logic cannot be proved. If you make use of logic, this is an important thing. If logic is superstition you make use of superstition. If logic exists, it is part of the nature, like colour, or intensity of light, without a physical force.

    Aristotle’s fallacies are merely examples of non sequiturs. One often gets the feeling that journalists are taught the fallacies in journalism school as a rulebook of what to use in their propaganda; IPCC directors probably as well (Is it a coincidence that the EU’s eternal climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard is a journalist by education?).

    Agree.

    V.

  37. When Einstein developed the theory of Relativity and Heisenberg,etc Quantum Mechanics
    there was formal peer review such as we have today. Everybody tested everybodies ideas
    except for the Nazis. Only after the use of SCIENCE in WWII was peer review instituted.

    • Peer review was implemented because science became institutionalized, and the powers-that-be needed some means to decide which research to fund and which to not. Newton was never peer reviewed because it didn’t need funding. More importantly, his work stood on its own (except, maybe, his alchemical work, and his biblical research).

  38. A study conducted in 2010 concluded that reviewers agree “at a rate barely exceeding what would be expected by chance.”

    But was that study peer reviewed?

  39. Dr. Deming, thanks for your post. While I agree with almost everything you say, I disagree that there is no “scientific method.” Indeed there is one, and it depends on two things—transparency, and falsification.

    The method is as follows: I make a claim, and I put forth in a public, transparent manner every bit of evidence I can adduce that my claim is true. This may include inductive or deductive logic, argumentum ad absurdum, data, historical accounts, computer code, or anything else that supports my claim.

    Then I hand around the 5-pound sledge hammers, and everyone else gets to see if they can destroy (falsify) my claim. If they can, if they can show my claim is wrong, then it goes into the trash-heap of history, along with phlogiston and lots of other things we no longer accept as valid.

    But if nobody can falsify my claim, then it is accepted as tentatively valid, or as it is often known, a “scientific truth”. I say “tentatively” because as happened with Newton, even hundreds of years later someone may come along and show that some aspect of what someone has done is not valid. So all science is only ever tentative.

    I claim that that is the one and only “scientific method”, the method of transparency and falsification.

    Unfortunately, as you point out … that method has nothing to do with the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report …

    w.

  40. Even in mathematics where one would think there is less room for arguing the validity of some newly proposed mathematical idea/concept, history shows contention between the new and the established. -e.g. Cantor and Kronecker – which is somewhat explainable by one of the ‘softer’ sciences – sociology. But if every idea ‘out there’ had an easy ride to acceptability, there would be such a mish-mashed smorgasbord that one would hardly know where to begin to construct a philosophy of anything. Ultimately consensus does play a role in what a community accepts and rejects – hopefully employing as much scientific and logical argumentation as possible.

  41. My only quibble is considering ‘climate science’ a real science.

    It might have been without political interference and being awash with oceans of money from politicians seeking to prove their commitment to “saving the planet”.

    A thoroughly enjoyable read.

  42. We do not live in a “Scientific Age”, we live in times that are just the opposite. Life was so much more simple when we believed what we were told and never questioned a thing…However the internet has changed all that.
    We can now check things out for ourselves especially in the two biggest issues of our age…the climate and 9/11.
    When we point out obvious falsehoods we are ignored or mocked as the truth is often too difficult to comprehend to the man in the street.

  43. I find I strongly disagree with this article.

    Back when I was in college in the 1970s, (showing my age) there was a defined method for science and every science textbook—biology, chemistry, physics—where I found a definition, gave the same one. At the same time, many “scientists” acknowledged that definition, and didn’t follow it. Hypocrisy. Yes, it was sort of cookie cutter, but amenable to all physical sciences. This method was still taught, in spite of over a century of people not following that method yet calling themselves “scientists”. In other words, “post-modern science” has its roots in the 19th century, if not earlier.

    In short, that definition was based on repeatable observations, upon which were built hypothesis tested against more repeatable observations, if the hypothesis was not shot down by experimentation based on repeatable observations, it could become a theory, which could still be shot down by repeatable observations.

    Taking that definition to its logical conclusion, science can study only present physical phenomena. That limit is politically incorrect, therefore many “scientists” ignore it. Instead they put their trust in plausible sounding stories and mathematical models, and call that “science”. In short, it appears that post-modern science is a return to pre-modern science.

    What we live in is not a scientific age, but a post-scientiifc age which still has a strong memory of science. Part of that memory is the legacy of technology that that science gave us. That we’re in a post-scientific age is what’s behind much scientific fraud, the IPCC findings, Climate Gate, and so forth. We still have some of the trappings of science, and some old throwbacks like Anthony Watts who still do science, but I wouldn’t be surprised if most “scientists” don’t know what is science, according to the definition that made modern science. Instead they have some hand-waving about peer review and models, but nothing solid like the definition that made “modern science” what it was. And “scientists” have become a new priesthood of religious magic for a post-modern age.

  44. There is a larger problem. In modern democracies, most people (I am trying hard not to make an aspersion) do not have sufficient grasp of the scientific details. How could they, when limited to mostly high school science? So they rely on MSM sound-bites, or organizations like the IPCC to interpret it for them. Therein lies a huge problem, documented in my last ebook. Unfortunately, my recommended solution (nullias in verbim, or Reagan’s trust but verify) won’t likely work with any political majority. A reason for some dispair, and perhaps some political mobilization.

  45. Willis: “Then I hand around the 5-pound sledge hammers, and everyone else gets to see if they can destroy (falsify) my claim.”

    It’s worth noting that falsifying a claim is a Reductio ad Absurdium. This is true both as a purely logical construct or a purely experimental construct. The important part here, for science, is that the proofs are incomplete. You cannot simply read the text and magic up an experiment as a consequence of your perusal. (Not that I suggest you are implying this in any manner.) To complete the argument, the proof, one needs to perform the experiment itself. With Euclid’s, previously mentioned, you have to construct the figures. But folks just don’t tend to have a Large Hadron Collider in the backyard. And some things are simply not replicable on demand; such as astronomical observations or climatological observations.

    In such cases there will be always be an Expert Experimenter. In such cases, for each individual that does not have access or was not present at the right time and place, it will always be an issue of faith or prediction. The yay-sayers are all on the same side of the fence with respect to status and income implications. So they are hardly trustworthy of themselves. And the nay-sayers are all on the opposite side of the fence with their own shared status and income implications.

    The only resolutions to requiring faith are Inquisitorial crimes (eg. ‘Climate heresy should be a felony.’) or validated prediction. If it’s a case of Expert Experimenters, then they can either satisfy to the results by putting their consequences on sale at Walmart, or by playing Jeane Dixon and letting the chips fall where they may.

  46. They reached that conclusion by doubling (ROUGHLY) the error bar so much that the range encompassed by the 95% certainty actually includes cooling at the lower bound. Its ridiculous.

  47. As Einstein so ably pointed out. A theory can NEVER be verified by experiment, it can only be nullified.

    Our esteemed Sec of State displays his extreme political sensitivity when he makes a statement that includes the term ‘irrefutable’ with regard to science.

  48. Many, many, interesting responses in this thread.

    IMHO, the problem boils down to “is and ought.” The “ought” is the scientific method, sensu stricto, as described by Popper. The “is” of the scientific method, sensu lato, is “normal science,” as described by Kuhn. Both are real and cannot be denied by anyone who really cares about science. Moreover, all of this must be leavened by the insights of other excellent thinkers, such as Imre Lakatos and Paul Feyerabend, who put a lot of thought into the problem and tried to resolve the issue.

    The bottom line, from my point of view, is that we no longer live in the Enlightenment, when enlightened people like Franklin believed that Science was the one and true path. Instead, we live in an age of “irrational activism,” as my late and great Georgetown history professor Carroll Quigley described the “Intellectual” level of the 20th century hierarchy of abstraction.

    So, alas, there is science (lower case s) and Science (upper case S). Unfortunately, when it comes to Climate Science, the upper case has the upper hand.

  49. David Deming,

    Thank you for teeing up western civilization.

    Finally a post explicitly on the essense of western civilization, its philosophical heritage. If western civilization ( and its predessor cultures of which their are several important ones) is the sufficient cause of the creation of science in our modern world, then how did it come to be if there were no prior scientists?

    Did scientists spring forth fully formed and mature from the forehead of the Ancient Greek God Zeus as did the Goddess Athena? Nah.

    They came later from the heroic rejection of supernaturalism and superstition by normal reasoning men. By just normal reasoning men. Science as we know it also is nothing other than the work product of merely normal reasoning men.

    I think Deming is implying that it is illogical to claim Aristotelian logic (from a mere philosopher Aristotle) is scientific by using Aristotle’s logic to prove his point.

    Aristotle wins, yet again. That old rascal.

    John

  50. I have a 100% certainty that climate changed before humans were around and therefore have the same certainty it would continue to change even if humans were suddenly no longer around.

    We are a ’cause’ of climate change; so are termites, so is every single living thing on the planet – so what? The question was never whether or not we have an affect on it, the question is how much affect do we have on it? More and more it appears that the current answer to that question is – “so small in relation to natural forces that we are unable to detect it and have wasted 100’s of billions of dollars for NOTHING”.

  51. At the end of the nineteenth century, geologists thought the Earth was less than 100 million years old. Radioactive dating in the twentieth century showed they were in error by a factor of 46. In the 1920s, American geologists rejected Alfred Wegener’s theory of continental drift with near unanimity. They were all wrong. The history of science is a history of error.

    So what is your alternative?
    To keep clear of science and base our decisions on unscientific methods?

    Even if the history of science is full of mistakes, we have in reality no alternative but to use science as a guide to our decisions. However, a sound skepticism and a second thought can be a good addition

  52. Nice article, but it’s even worse than you lay out. PS I am not anti-science.

    The New Yorker – December 13, 2010
    The Truth Wears Off
    Is there something wrong with the scientific method?
    by Jonah Lehrer

    Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the effect,” he said. “But the worst part was that when I submitted these null results I had difficulty getting them published. The journals only wanted confirming data. It was too exciting an idea to disprove, at least back then.” For Simmons, the steep rise and slow fall of fluctuating asymmetry is a clear example of a scientific paradigm, one of those intellectual fads that both guide and constrain research: after a new paradigm is proposed, the peer-review process is tilted toward positive results. But then, after a few years, the academic incentives shift—the paradigm has become entrenched—so that the most notable results are now those that disprove the theory….”
    [Page 3]

    “…The problem of selective reporting is rooted in a fundamental cognitive flaw, which is that we like proving ourselves right and hate being wrong. “It feels good to validate a hypothesis,” Ioannidis said. “It feels even better when you’ve got a financial interest in the idea or your career depends upon it….”
    [Page 4]

    “…Even the law of gravity hasn’t always been perfect at predicting real-world phenomena. (In one test, physicists measuring gravity by means of deep boreholes in the Nevada desert found a two-and-a-half-per-cent discrepancy between the theoretical predictions and the actual data.)…….Just because an idea is true doesn’t mean it can be proved. And just because an idea can be proved doesn’t mean it’s true.”
    [Page 5]

  53. Dear Dr. Deming:

    While I’ve read and admire your History of Science this essay doesn’t cut it. In particular you confuse what “Science” is with science as practiced by people who, like you and I, make misteaks.

    The point of science, however, is that realith and other people together correct those mistakes – and because your history of concensus errors is really the history of the correction of those errorsit is actually very positive about the faith we can put in scientific progress.

    The bottom line that it’s science if the theory leads to real world predictions that are then verified, and politics or careerism if the predictions made do not stand up to real world scrutiny but are maintained anyway. Your indictment here, in other words, is not against science, it’s against weak minded people pretending to science.

  54. The existence of corruption doesn’t mean there aren’t honest people around. This also goes for science.

    Science is real, for the person who is willing to apply its method in a disciplined way. At the core science stems from a genuine curiosity and a willingness to discover new ways to look at phenomena and explain them. The reward for this kind of science is not power, or authority, or wealth, it is just discovering and learning. For the curious mind that reward is big enough.

    And yes, this kind of science can be found everywhere, with any person, inside or outside so called “scientific institutions”.

  55. Actually, the “scientific method” begins with the identification of some problem or question one wants to answer. A scientist then answers that question with an informed guess – a hypothesis, which is patently not a theory. One then tests that hypothesis with observations, measurements and/or experiment (in which one observes and measures). If the observations confirm the hypothesis, then the hypothesis (presumed answer to the original question) is vetted among other scientists to glean their own takes on your findings.

    That is where it tends to break down. In a truly knowledge-based system within a competitive community of other scientists, your work is generally torn apart limb by limb as others try to see if you are right. The way it used to work is that if no one else could prove you wrong and they were able to replicate your findings, your answer to the problem was added to the body of knowledge in that field.

    When enough answers were gathered around the same general set of questions, a theory could then be constructed – a theory is a general, overarching explanation of some system within the universe which is consistent with ALL findings and ALL data and observations.

    Within that broad process, many different practices can occur, with many ways to observe, measure, calculate, deduce, report….. The whole idea, however, has been to put the idea out there with your own interpretation of your findings to allow others to either confirm it by replicating your work or coming up opposite findings.

    so, it is true there is NO single method, but there is a general method. Science is knowledge. Knowledge which is supposed to be generated following a general method which would allow others to confirm or refute findings so everyone else would be confident that an answer added to the body of knowledge had been tested and stood the rigors of critical second-guessing – not just reviewed. Think about ‘cold fusion’. As soon as it was announced, a bevvy of scientists set to work to see if was correct – and of course it wasn’t, so it went away.

    Everything else said herein about the loss of science in climate hypothesizing is correct and needs no reiteration by me. I just wanted to make a little clarification

  56. “few people realize how unreliable scientific authority can be”. but some people do and many of those people will be lawyers who’ve seen trials with scientific evidence. And who forms the bulk of our politicians – lawyers. And politicians know that truth is only determined by the ballot box. Hence the need for a consensus (or at least majority) of those entitled to vote..

  57. “Even if the history of science is full of mistakes, we have in reality no alternative but to use science as a guide to our decisions.”

    The alternative I suggest is that scientists study the recent, shameful history of science during the 1900’s in Russia, Germany and China. In particular, pay attention to Lysenko, China’s Great Leap, eugenics/population control, etc.. The destruction of agriculture, the killing of unarmed citizens, and the forcing of the rest off of their land to face starvation was done through the agency of science by government.

    And a further alternative is to admit the fact that “health” – as determined by the current cabal of progressive scientists – is not the highest value for society, but many other values exist, such as liberty, independence, individual rights, and virtue.

  58. Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend would love this article. That is a good reason to throw it in the trash. Carl Hempel, Israel Scheffler, Wolfgang Stegmuller, Isaac Levi, and many others would throw this article into the trash. That is a better reason to throw it in the trash.

    I do not mean to condemn Dr. Deming’s body of work. My criticism applies only to this article.

    Pardon me for not taking the time to note who among the philosophers of science listed are deceased.

    To soften my criticism a bit, I will quote:

    hoyawildcat says:
    October 1, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    “IMHO, the problem boils down to “is and ought.” The “ought” is the scientific method, sensu stricto, as described by Popper [substitute my list]. The “is” of the scientific method, sensu lato, is “normal science,” as described by Kuhn. Both are real and cannot be denied by anyone who really cares about science.”

    Scientists have only a hand waving acquaintance with philosophy of science. And they certainly do not attempt to practice in accordance with scientific method. Except the occasional Feynman or Dyson who are both. But philosophers of science have done a fabulously good job of explaining that the purpose of scientific theory is to specify the evidence and explaining how scientific theory must always be held to the test of specifying the evidence. In non-philosopher’s terms, this is just what Willis Eschenbach describes above.

  59. hoyawildcat: “So, alas, there is science (lower case s) and Science (upper case S).”

    Not that I don’t understand your point, or your general is/ought issue. But if a CEO occasionally cleans the mirror in his office bathroom we don’t then say that each janitor is a cEO. Science is no more than the shotgun wedding of Philosophy and Engineering. How scientists behave is the same as how people do. But we do not call the general and normal behaviour of people ‘science’ (lower case s).

  60. Gary Pearse says:
    October 1, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    “Your admonitions that Newton made mistakes (and neglecting the fact that he virtually made the universe for us and invented real mathematics and science while he was at it) is egregiously condescending to one of the few dozens of real scientists who did real science in the history of all humankind. He made mistakes!”

    Spot on! Your comment clearly reveals the absurdity of Deming’s claim. On this point, Deming’s little essay is downright childish.

  61. The universe only works one way. Since no-one has a perfect understanding of any part of the universe, everyone is wrong to varying degrees. Accepting that you are wrong is where science starts. Those who “know they are right” have stopped doing science. The scientific method as defined by Willis and others is the the method we have come up with to try to get as close to the way the universe actually is as possible.

    Since the universe is not a democracy, any argument based on how many votes a theory gets is inherently flawed, as we all know.

  62. > The sciences are viewed as the only real sources of authoritative information. Knowledge derived from other epistemological systems is regarded as having less credibility.

    Sorry, but what planet are you living on? Besides the still-vast influence of religions old and new, with varying levels of credibility (and staying power), huge numbers of people read horoscopes, consult astrologers, and believe snake-oil salesmen of all kinds. Or check out what’s on popular TV. “Ancient Aliens”? Yikes!

    Science has the appearance of being widely accepted as authoritative. But if current trends continue, and the system continues to discredit itself politically, economically, and morally, many people will look at scientific blunders such as the IPCC reports and lump them in with it.

    Make no mistake: the reputation of science is on the line every day. And, if people sense fraud, they may just as easily look somewhere else for authoritative pronouncements. Scientists (of which I count myself one) had better clean their game up.

  63. Not read all the comments but I think a significant proportion are misreading the article.
    I’m assuming this is the same Dr. David Deming that was approached to disappear the MWP.
    DaveE.

  64. hoyawildcat: “… some means to decide which research to fund and which to not.”

    Now, that’s an interesting question on its own. For example, the Phlogiston theory only failed when it came up against magnesium. So if a theory exists, is accepted (for whatever that means), and has survived at least some attempts to throw it in the rubbish bin: Then test everything similar that hasn’t been tested yet. Do so and you find magnesium. Do not and you don’t. Which is nothing more than an empirical version of a proof by exhausting all possible cases.

    But on the theory side, it’s a bit different. If the theory exists, and is accepted (for whatever that means) then we are not here concerned with the mechanistic Hypothesis non Fingo of Newton. We are expressly interested in the metaphysical explanans and desire the ‘right’ one. Which we can only attain by discarding the ‘wrong’ ones. And the answer here is to not fund the accepted theory. But fund competing theories that agree with the known empirical results, but make a prediction of a different necessary outcome. This is but more of the same: We cannot know that the proffered explanans are correct, but we can know that they are wrong.

    However, the theories that are accepted as legitimate for competition are just as much a matter of taste as the current accepted theory. eg. It’s undecidable. Which, for a government perspective is a case of fund them all, or fund none of them. This isn’t terribly much of a difficulty as the exhaustion issue doesn’t rely on the explanans, it relies on the outcome of the experiments.

  65. Kev-in-Uk says: @ October 1, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    The scientific method is indeed only a ‘loose ‘ set of guidelines – but there are guidelines that an enquiring mind should follow….

    Saying there is no such thing as a ‘scientific method’ is misleading, and I discourage such a stance. Sure, scientists should follow the generic ‘guidelines’ and for that I fully accept that these guidelines are called ‘The scientific method’ – but the popular conception is indeed how it SHOULD be done!
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    I agree with you Kev. The biggest problem with ‘Climate Science’ is they thumb their nose at the accepted guideline such as SHOW ALL YOUR WORK and validation and verification by other labs/scientists.

    Without showing all the data and methods allowing independent verification all you have is a pretty essay about someone’s favorite pet theory idea not science.

  66. On the issue of fraud and error, it’s fun once in a while to dip into the website retractionwatch.wordpress.com

  67. The role of scientists shown in popular media venues such as The Discovery channel, seems to be to lay a big guilt trip on everyone for existing.

  68. Jquip says:
    October 1, 2013 at 3:53 pm
    hoyawildcat: “So, alas, there is science (lower case s) and Science (upper case S).”

    No. Scientists go about their work, maybe even developing their own shorthand language, engaging in all kinds of false starts, and sometimes producing something worthwhile. That is their life in the lab.

    At some point, scientists want to publish their work. They want a final product that can gain them recognition, at least temporarily. That is where scientific method comes along. Their final product has been weeded of shorthand language, false starts, and all such items. They are helped in all this by the reviewers and editors of legitimate journals in the hard sciences.

    Notice that a feedback is at work. The next excursion in their lab will have fewer false starts and maybe no shorthand language.

    Philosophers of science serve as analysts of what is acceptable in the final product. Some scientists, especially the late Feynman, always teach with a missionary fervor what should go into the final product.

    So, the distinction is not quite so much “is v. ought” but “scratch paper v. published article.” There is science, a process, and there is Science, final products.

    I accuse all who contribute to IPCC reports of believing that the messy process is also the final product. I know for a fact that each and every one of them claim the right to revise any graphic published by the IPCC and to do so on the fly. That aspect of IPCC work is what McIntyre is criticizing today.

  69. Leif Svalgaard says:
    October 1, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    So good to hear from you. Could you comment on the following quotation taken from the Box 9.2 of the IPCC Working Group I Report.

    “In summary, the observed recent warming hiatus, defined as the reduction in GMST trend during 1998–2012 as compared to the trend during 1951–2012, is attributable in roughly equal measure to a cooling contribution from internal variability and a reduced trend in external forcing (expert judgment, medium confidence). The forcing trend reduction is primarily due to a negative forcing trend from both volcanic eruptions and the downward phase of the solar cycle.”

    Is the IPCC claiming that there is less radiation arriving at the top of the atmosphere?

  70. Chris in Calgary says:
    October 1, 2013 at 4:13 pm
    Make no mistake:
    _________________
    Spot on.

  71. Bravo. Folks who prattle on about what real science is should take note. It isn’t what popper thought or Feynman preached.

  72. SandyInLimousin says: @ October 1, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Is this Dr Deming any relation to this person?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Edwards_Deming

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    I greatly admire Dr. Edward Deming and had the honor of attending one of his seminars. He was featured along with Dr. Joseph Juran and Philip Crosby. Obituary and Tribute to Dr. W. Edwards Deming

    I do not think he had a son. At least there is no mention of his family aside from his parents.

  73. Mike M.: “We are a ’cause’ of climate change; so are termites, so is every single living thing on the planet”

    While it is interesting to me that many of us had in the back of our minds a concept of the scientific method the same as that expressed by, inter alios, Willis Eschenbach (although I would therefore have said I agreed, rather than disagreed, with David Deming), the comment that struck a cord with me was the one I just quoted.

    The form it had taken in my head is that line from Max Ehrmann’s “Desiderata”: “You are a child of the universe; no less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here.” Much perverted environmentalism seems based on a subconscious belief that we aren’t.

  74. Steven Mosher says:
    October 1, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    Bravo. Folks who prattle on about what real science is should take note. It isn’t what popper thought or Feynman preached.
    ____________________
    Careful, Mosh- people might get the idea that you’re angling for an assistant’s position with David Suzuki.

    • Steven, having seem the much admired ( by many) Dr, S fumbling with straightforward questions on the warming hiatus on Australian TV recently, he could sure do with one… :)

  75. Theo Goodwin: “There is science, a process, and there is Science, final products.”

    So if the final product is a valid Scientific paper, but the process was to divine the universe by casting sheep knuckles, then ‘divination by sheep knuckles’ is ‘science.’ If not, why not?

  76. Folks who think that poppers prescriptions have any merit need to be reminded that science has advanced in many cases by ignoring his prescriptions. And Feynman was no better. Can u say renormalization… I knew u could.

  77. The power of science is observation, but observations can only be made in the present. So science is very strong on repreatable phenomena, Climate science is about predicting the future, and that depends on a host of assumptions about what is significant for the future. It also relies on knowing what happened in the past and that relies on assumptions too. I think climate models are wrong because they are based on ignorance of what happened in the past.

  78. Steven Mosher — “It isn’t what popper thought or Feynman preached.”

    So then you’re good with the following: “Science is the belief in experts” — Steven Mosher

    Or did you mean something orthogonal to the veracity of expert testimony?

  79. Jquip says: @ October 1, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    Willis: “Then I hand around the 5-pound sledge hammers, and everyone else gets to see if they can destroy (falsify) my claim.”

    It’s worth noting that falsifying a claim is a Reductio ad Absurdium. This is true both as a purely logical construct or a purely experimental construct. The important part here, for science, is that the proofs are incomplete. You cannot simply read the text and magic up an experiment as a consequence of your perusal. (Not that I suggest you are implying this in any manner.) To complete the argument, the proof, one needs to perform the experiment itself. With Euclid’s, previously mentioned, you have to construct the figures. But folks just don’t tend to have a Large Hadron Collider in the backyard. And some things are simply not replicable on demand; such as astronomical observations or climatological observations…..
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    That is why we have the division of hard and soft sciences.

    In the case of the ‘ Large Hadron Collider ‘ some one some where does have one to replicate an experiment if it is important enough. If you look at the Svenmark Cosmic Ray theory as an example, it is being validated in a variety of ways. SEE poptechs Cosmic Rays papers

    Validation and verification are not necessarily just replication. Einstien didn’t replicate Newton’s work he went a step further.

  80. Some might contend that as far as the IPCC is concerned, it is a moot point. China and quite a lot of other nations are not going to do what the IPCC and its supporters claim to want.

  81. John Whitman says: @ October 1, 2013 at 3:13 pm
    ….Finally a post explicitly on the essense of western civilization, its philosophical heritage….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    You might want to take a look at E.M. Smith’s post on isms, ocracies and ologies

  82. Theo Goodwin says:
    October 1, 2013 at 4:52 pm
    “the reduction in GMST trend during 1998–2012 as compared to the trend during 1951–2012, is attributable in roughly equal measure to a cooling contribution from internal variability and a reduced trend in external forcing (expert judgment, medium confidence). The forcing trend reduction is primarily due to a negative forcing trend from both volcanic eruptions and the downward phase of the solar cycle.”
    Is the IPCC claiming that there is less radiation arriving at the top of the atmosphere?

    It seems so, and the solar irradiance has likely decreased some since about 2000, although not in a linear fashion. Unfortunately the best data we had from the SORCE experiment has stopped as the satellite has suffered a failure of a battery. They hope to be able to get some data later this year.

  83. Chris in Calgary …Scientists (of which I count myself one) had better clean their game up.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    That warning should be sent to every scientific society and university.

  84. “The results produced by this hypothetical scientific method are verified by something called peer review, a process that allegedly certifies reliability.”

    NO! NO! NO! The scientific method is hypothesis, independent experimental confirmation, conclusion. It is NOT hypothesis, peer review, conclusion. Peer review is the academic method, not the scientific method. The classical scientific method eschews peer review as a means of validating a hypothesis. In the scientific method, peer review is meaningless. Independent confirmation is everything.

  85. Leif Svalgaard says:

    “When an honest man finds he is wrong, he either stops being wrong (corrects his error) or stops being honest”

    What an excellent quote! That about says it all, WRT the folks who refuse to stop being wrong — even after every prediction they ever made has turned out wrong. I suppose the grant money and the jaunts to exotic locales are just too good.

    ================================

    Steven Mosher says:

    “Can u say renormalization… I knew u could.”

    It got rid of those pesky infinities. So as a scientific concept, it had an impact equal to inflation.

  86. After reading through the comments, I would have to agree that the fourth paragraph in this article could easily be misread/interpreted to be much in error. It does contain some serious errors. I don’t think that is what David Deming meant to project in considering the rest of the article, at least I would hope. David, were you simply showing the post modern method of research? If so, you should have offered an explanation. As written it was rightfully hammered in the comments.

    Science must be objective. There is no other way.

    There are agreed upon scientific methods to confirm any conclusions. There is no other way.

  87. Big Don says:
    October 1, 2013 at 6:02 pm
    NO! NO! NO! The scientific method is hypothesis, independent experimental confirmation, conclusion. It is NOT hypothesis, peer review, conclusion. Peer review is the academic method, not the scientific method. The classical scientific method eschews peer review as a means of validating a hypothesis. In the scientific method, peer review is meaningless. Independent confirmation is everything.
    ===================
    thank you!

  88. The problem with climate science is not the actual science it is the whole truncation of debate because it is viewed a some immediate problem and the impending doom drama that actually is political not scientific.

    Take for example the latest figure sea level rise of 1 metre (just over 3 foot) in 100 years. The first part to get over is that current sea level rise is 3mm per year so 300mm or 0.3 metre (1 foot) rise in 100 years. The question is obvious, is 1m in 100 years that much worse than 0.3m in 100 years you are going to have to do a degree of planning for it in either situation.

    In a normal world, hard science and engineering would recommend we look at and map areas that may be effected work out strategies that may need to be enacted for a guaranteed sea rise of 0.3m but allow scope to increase it to 1m.

    Now look at what climate science does with the argument which is this is a doom story and we must stop burning fossil fuels immediately. The problem they truncate is by there own science they acknowledge that even if you stopped new production of CO2 and headed back down towards lower earlier levels (which is their plan) the current sea level rise problem remains. Sea level rise is a problem with or without AGW and it needs to be addressed the only thing AGW adds to is the severity of the problem and that assumes that sea level rise will accelerate as predicted.

    This is the huge disconnect of climate science, the creation of a doom story to get political urgency and newspaper headlines but the creation of those stories is pseudoscience junk.

  89. Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 1, 2013 at 2:25 pm
    >>>>>>

    I agree with Willis 100%.

    Transparency and falsification are key. However, “predictability” is also HUGE.

    I can call a press conference and state that when I drop an apple from my hand, it will fall to the ground. Then, tomorrow, I can call another press conference and perform the same “trick” again.

    REAL science allows us to “predict”.

    Obviously, climate “science” is not REAL….

  90. The problem with science is that it is done by humans, highly fallible, gullible, narcissistic, narrow minded, bored minded, bigoted, not bigoted. . . . Blah,blah, blah.

    The climate science community fell prey to their own self perceived success and came to believe they were infallible and must not only be listened to, but obeyed.

    The thought of Mikey Mann as the butt naked Emperor still remains highly disturbing.

  91. lsvalgaard says:
    October 1, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    … the solar irradiance has likely decreased some since about 2000, although not in a linear fashion. Unfortunately the best data we had from the SORCE experiment has stopped as the satellite has suffered a failure of a battery. They hope to be able to get some data later this year.
    >>>>>>

    So Leif, “It’s the Sun, stupid”?

    (Also, last I knew, “data” was plural. So “has stopped” should be “have stopped”, if you want to appear “academic”….)

  92. geran says:
    October 1, 2013 at 7:03 pm
    (Also, last I knew, “data” was plural. So “has stopped” should be “have stopped”, if you want to appear “academic”….)
    As usual you don’t know much.

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/data

    Usage Note: The word data is the plural of Latin datum, “something given,” but it is not always treated as a plural noun in English. The plural usage is still common, as this headline from the New York Times attests: “Data Are Elusive on the Homeless.” Sometimes scientists think of data as plural, as in These data do not support the conclusions. But more often scientists and researchers think of data as a singular mass entity like information, and most people now follow this in general usage. Sixty percent of the Usage Panel accepts the use of data with a singular verb and pronoun in the sentence Once the data is in, we can begin to analyze it. A still larger number, 77 percent, accepts the sentence We have very little data on the efficacy of such programs, where the quantifier very little, which is not used with similar plural nouns such as facts and results, implies that data here is indeed singular.

  93. JimS says;

    “So, warming or cooling can happen with rising CO2 levels. Hmmm, maybe CO2 is not such a big factor when global temperatures are concerned.”

    Well, there are those of us that have understood for a long time that the “alleged” Greenhouse Effect (“trapping” of IR radiation) by a very very trace gas has NO EFFECT on the average temperature of the Earth. But that is heresy at this site. The Greenhouse Effect is REAL and anybody who does not “believe” it is a “denier” and does not understand “radiative physics”.

    Funny thing, I have made a very good living for many decades “understanding” radiative physics (I design electro-optical systems for a living) and my models match the performance of my designs (within the allocated money for the model, every project reaches the stage where you “just build it and see if it works as predicted”).

    But, the Greenhouse Effect is REAL, really it is REAL and of course it is REAL. Eventually the Earth will warm as predicted; just you wait and see, it is certain.

    The “GHG effect” simply acts as a hybrid “optical/thermal” delay line and causes energy to flow though the Sun/Atmosphere/Surface/Atmosphere/Universe system multiple times at the speed of light. Given the distances and velocities involved this simply delays the flow of energy by a few tens of milliseconds. Since there are about 86 million milliseconds in each day, this delay has no effect on the average temperature of the Earth.

    It does change the “response time” (an electrical engineering concept), but the historical temperature records do not contain this data and attempts to water board them until they confess have failed so far.

    Cheers, Kevin.

  94. geran says:
    October 1, 2013 at 7:23 pm
    …if you want to appear “academic”….
    Perhaps you should stop making a fool of yourself. It is painful to watch.

  95. We live in a new dark age of science. A generation from now, government’s monopolization of the funding of science for the last 60+ years will be understood as a dark age in science much like when the Catholic Church ruled the west. From physics and cosmology to global warming and second hand smoke, all government funded science will be exposed as phony.

  96. The U.S. President, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Repersantives and all the media tell us that the U.S. Goverment is closed down.

    Yet the tax collection is still full speed.

    The CO2 fraud had a 1,000 mile head start. They have speed traps set up to fine U.S. and spike strips out in the road to flaten our tires and other means to slow or stop U.S. as needed.

    Yet the CO2 lies speed past the limits. The fix is in.

    So, use other means they do not expect U.S. to use.

    We can not win fighting a fair fight from our side only.

    We will have to trip some of them, turn the lights out and make them fall, lie in wait and spoil the lie based evidence.

    Act Up.

  97. Leif Svalgaard says:

    October 1, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    “When an honest man finds he is wrong, he either stops being wrong (corrects his error) or stops being honest”
    >>>>>>

    I didn’t mean to cause any pain.

  98. Mosher,

    Popper is not perfect. His hobby horse, corroboration, became a pillar of his work. Take that away and you have good fundamentals. Imre Lakatos developed those fundamentals in his work.

    I prefer Hempel, Scheffler, Quine, Stegmuller, Levi, and some others. They went far beyond the fundamentals. You need to know them before you can try your wings in philosophy of science.

    Kuhn and Feyerabend mounted furious criticisms of the philosophy of science but their criticisms were rebutted long ago.

    Everyone must know the fundamentals.

    HIT Method: Hypothesis creatively imagined, Inference from hypothesis to facts, and Test of factual claims in the world. Hypotheses can be statistical but not subjective and certainly not Bayesian. Inference from hypotheses to facts is also known as Prediction. (Prediction is a technical topic that requires explanation.)

    (Note that the HIT Method stands is stark contrast to the view held by all followers of Kuhn, Feyerabend, the postmoderns, Habermas, the Frankfurt School, and all communist thinkers that our “world view” or our “conceptual scheme” determines our experience of the world.)

    Publicity or Reproducibility: everything you do while employing the HIT method must be published so that other scientists can replicate your work.

    Criticism: you must compete to be the most severe critic of your work and you must encourage all other critics. Sound criticism is no less valuable than creation of valuable hypotheses.

    Theory: the purpose of theory is to specify all the facts as lucidly, conveniently, and economically as possible. (If we could manage all the factual information without theory then there would be no need for theory.)

    Empiricism: we must always strive to ensure that developments in theory serve the purpose of specifying the facts and, as a bonus, we will be testing our theory and staying responsive to reality.

  99. A [terrain] following radar is [worthless] if it does not [measure] the distance from the ground to the plane correct every time at every speed. It would not help one bit if there were 10,000 peer reviews saying the radar was all ok, yet the plane and the pilot a bunch of burnt flesh and metal due to one missed [measurement] and transmission of the data.

  100. geran says:
    October 1, 2013 at 7:35 pm
    I didn’t mean to cause any pain.
    It is always painful to watch a fool, even when he didn’t mean to expose him himself.

  101. lsvalgaard says:
    October 1, 2013 at 7:11 pm (replying to)

    geran says:
    October 1, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    (Also, last I knew, “data” was plural. So “has stopped” should be “have stopped”, if you want to appear “academic”….)

    I would politely but firmly, though not all too emotionally, argue that a “datum” is ONE specific and precise point, or a fixed point for which everything else can be referenced or measured as a baseline for all future measurements: The sea elevation datum is 0.00 mm on June 22, 1992 for example.

    Any use of “data” by use and practice MUST BE a singular group of several items (so does this means that it IS “plural”) regardless of what the Romans or Greeks might have said 2000 years ago; specifically because (1) that is how “data” IS used, and (2) that use of “data” in conversation, papers, literature, the law, and in everyday practice “data” is used to show the information contained in and represented by several different points that HAVE been measured: by interview, by laboratories, by astronomers, by geologists, or by engineers.

    Using “data” rather than “datum” is deliberate and indicates and assures the listener or reader that more than “one” factual point has been measured and established as objective truth. Not opinion, but “data” specifically and deliberately implies “factual measurements”.

  102. lsvalgaard says:

    October 1, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    geran says:
    October 1, 2013 at 7:35 pm
    I didn’t mean to cause any pain.
    It is always painful to watch a fool, even when he didn’t mean to expose him himself.
    >>>>>>

    Exactly

  103. Fred says: @ October 1, 2013 at 6:47 pm
    ….The thought of Mikey Mann as the butt naked Emperor still remains highly disturbing.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>
    It could be worse. It could be Al Gore.

  104. RACookPE1978 says:
    October 1, 2013 at 7:40 pm
    Any use of “data” is by use and practice MUST BE “plural,”
    The beauty of English is it fluidity. There is no central body dictating what people MUST say. Most scientists [and in ordinary educated usage] would use data as a singular mass noun in the context in which I used it, meaning the stream of data from the satellite. Too bad that a fool like geran pollutes the thread with his uncalled for snide ignorant nonsense.

  105. Leif, is right.
    ==================
    Science is not done by methods.
    Science is done by scientists.
    Certainly we know. who are scientists.
    Policy is done by methods.
    Certainly we know. who are political

  106. fobdangerclose says:
    October 1, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    A [terrain] following radar is [worthless] if it does not [measure] the distance from the ground to the plane correct every time at every speed. It would not help one bit if there were 10,000 peer reviews saying the radar was all ok, yet the plane and the pilot a bunch of burnt flesh and metal due to one missed [measurement] and transmission of the data.

    Somewhat valid, but IF you tell me the rules of the game (give me the knowledge of when that instrument IS valid) then it may still be useful. On the moon, I will willingly ignore the altimeter (because there is no atmospheric pressure), and use the radar only under 10 km/minute horizontal speed IF you tell me those are the limits. Back on earth, the altimeter “might” give me information about how high I am when the parachute opens.

    But, the IPCC is demanding I pay trillions of dollars each year, and kill millions of innocents and harm billions more innocents by denying them efficient and inexpensive energy, based on ever more expensive altimeter and terrain-following radar that THEY demand I install in my never-to-leave-sea level submarine! If natural forces (the tides) are raising and lowering the submarine every 12 hours, does it matter that the terrain-following radar is getting better at telling how far above Mt Everest it shows in a simulation?

    Their Terrain-following radars (their climate models) have not run long enough and accurately enough at ground level for us to know if any ONE of the different radars are EVER going to even measure the altitude under our future airplane’s position at any speed!

  107. Too bad that a fool like geran pollutes the thread with his uncalled for snide ignorant nonsense.

    >>>>>>>>

    WOW!

  108. KevinK says: @ October 1, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    ….The “GHG effect” simply acts as a hybrid “optical/thermal” delay line and causes energy to flow though the Sun/Atmosphere/Surface/Atmosphere/Universe system multiple times at the speed of light….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>.
    Now that makes sense. Just as I thought, it is TIME they leave out of all the hand waving about the GHG effect of CO2 (which is different than the effect of water) .

  109. geran says:
    October 1, 2013 at 7:56 pm
    “Too bad that a fool like geran pollutes the thread with his uncalled for snide ignorant nonsense.”
    WOW!

    Good to see that you wholeheartedly agree. Now, go away.

  110. Like “data”, the word “agenda” is a Latin plural noun. How many of you say in English, “The meeting agenda are…:?

  111. Curt says:
    October 1, 2013 at 8:00 pm
    Like “data”, the word “agenda” is a Latin plural noun. How many of you say in English, “The meeting agenda are…:?
    Or media or criteria or visa or …

  112. lsvalgaard says:
    October 1, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    True: As I edited my original error to – hopefully – better show its true use as a single organized group of “collective” (plural) pieces of formal information.

    Thus, a “herd” is a single group of organized, individual but similar and related animals of one species. True?

    Thus, I can write about a conclusion based on a plot of my “data” but I’ve measured every different point from a recognized “datum” . My “opinion” however, is based on information (an implied unorganized group of informal separate pieces of knowledge – good or bad is implied by my deliberate decision NOT to use “data”) and observations (several different non-calibrated pieces of information).

  113. lsvalgaard says:
    October 1, 2013 at 7:59 pm
    ….
    Good to see that you wholeheartedly agree. Now, go away.

    >>>>>

    Perfect fit for the title of Deming’s post “Why Climate Science is Fallible”.

  114. RACookPE1978 says:
    October 1, 2013 at 8:06 pm
    True: As I edited my original error to – hopefully – better show its true use as a single organized group of “collective” (plural) pieces of formal information.
    Had I said ‘the data stream from the satellite has stopped’ perhaps geran wouldn’t have made such a fool of himself and you would not have needed to be pedantic, but omitting ‘stream’ is economic brevity and does not interfere with communicating that we are not anymore getting data [still a singular mass noun, like 'water' or 'beer'] from the satellite.

  115. geran says:
    October 1, 2013 at 8:11 pm
    Perfect fit for the title of Deming’s post “Why Climate Science is Fallible”.
    So I am perfectly on topic, in contrast to your ignorant comment. Now, go away. You bring nothing to the table.

  116. “‘Science’ is thinking God’s thoughts after Him.”
    I used to think Newton said that. I found out later I was wrong.
    Still a good quote.

  117. Scientific theories get their validity from results not from credentials. Obviously scientists themselves are fallible, but if they follow the scientific method the results should represent not just whether they are right, but a probability they are right. The climate science community and the other non scientist parties seem to think credentials are evidence. I suppose you can preach the scientific method until you’re blue in the face but some people just wont follow it. I thought that’s what peer review was supposed to do.

    I just think the public needs to hear more people who are scientists call bull on the whole thing (I know many do but not enough), and if they did the house of cards would tumble. People look at scientists like high priests. In a world of the illiterate scientists are the ones who can read and bring us the truth. I think the attitude is wrong, but that is the attitude. If somebody like the APS called them on their bull then it would crumble. I’m sure most know its bull. Maybe they don’t want to make waves, maybe they just agree with the “cause”, or maybe it’s just professional courtesy to stay quiet. As long as the media feels they have the science behind them they will not change their tune. Theyre afraid someone with a PHD will try to make them look stupid (and they do) if they dare question the “consensus.” It doesnt matter how wrong they are and how obvious it is because most people just wont look into the science they’ll look at the scientist to see if its true.

    Watching these papers get published that shouldn’t pass an 8th grade science class and seeing almost every scientist that knows its garbage just sit by complicit as they pervert science is just so disappointing.

  118. shenanigans24 says:
    October 1, 2013 at 8:22 pm
    As long as the media feels they have the science behind them
    A wonderful example of the flexibility and beauty of English.

  119. lsvalgaard says:
    October 1, 2013 at 8:15 pm
    geran says:
    October 1, 2013 at 8:11 pm
    Perfect fit for the title of Deming’s post “Why Climate Science is Fallible”.
    So I am perfectly on topic, in contrast to your ignorant comment. Now, go away. You bring nothing to the table.
    >>>>>>>>>
    Oh, I brought it to the table, but there is that huge river in Egypt….

    (But, I have to end for tonight, REAL work to be done tomorrow.)

  120. shenanigans24 says:
    October 1, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    Watching these papers get published that shouldn’t pass an 8th grade science class and seeing almost every scientist that knows its garbage just sit by complicit as they pervert science is just so disappointing.

    ======================================================================
    Thank you for saying that. There are many who are not complicit. Since AR5 came out there have been a number of post here and on other sites peeling back the layers and exposing the empty core.
    I wanted to thank them all for their individual integrity and honesty in the “peeling” process but didn’t see an opportunity without going off topic.
    Thanks again.
    (From what you’ve said that I’ve seen, I think you agree.)

  121. geran says:
    October 1, 2013 at 8:34 pm
    (But, I have to end for tonight, REAL work to be done tomorrow.)
    So you admit your frivolous comment was not REAL work. Hopefully, you will have learned your lesson by tomorrow having had some time to reflect on the matter…

  122. “At the end of the nineteenth century, geologists thought the Earth was less than 100 million years old.”

    Actually this is not really correct.

    It was the generally the geologists who thought it was much older, based on established principles within the field of stratigraphy (e.g. a rock which intrudes another rock cannot be older than the rock in which it intrudes). And it was largely physicists, including Lord Kelvin, who thought it was younger-in his case between 20-400 million years old based on calculations of heat loss, without knowing about radioactivity, (or about stratigraphy). (Note the wiki reference you give also supports the above).

    S.J. Gould in one of his books (I forget which) explores the difference of opinion between Lord Kelvin and the geologists-it was the geologists who turned out to be right. This distinction is important, because it was another example of models versus empirical data, the empirical data from the field indicated that the world was much older, the mathematical models developed by physicists suggested it was younger, and note that they took no account of empirical field data which strongly suggested (I would say proved already) that they were wrong.

    This tension between physicists who largely use mathematical models, and geologists who largely rely on field data, has arisen several times, including:

    -with the bolide impact theory of the end of the Cretaceous, when a physicist (Alvarez) wanted to attribute the mass extinction as being solely caused by impact, when geologists largely contended, and still do, that is was a combination of events occurring over time which was responsible (including increased volcanism), not just impact alone.
    -plate tectonics was often also rejected by physicists, amongst others, who were ignoring field data, Albert Einstein was one who rejected that continents moved around, because like others he couldn’t come up with a mechanism to explain how continents could move without producing large ‘furrows’, for example. But again it was largely the field geologists, using empirical data, who were adamant that the continents must have moved. Petroleum geologists, for example, has to allow for continental drift when exploring for oil, before plate tectonics was even formulated. Ultimately is was empirical data, when it came in in the 1960s, particularly from mapping the sea floor and the discovery of mid ocean ridge systems and subduction zones, which won the day, and which formed the foundation for plate tectonics.
    -the AGW debate is largely between people who rely on models and mathematics, rather than on field based observations. Again I would argue that empiricism will eventually decide this debate, hard won field data, not models.

    Another point, it was the experimental method, where results could be reproduced and reproduced, which was historically the strength of science, that is empiricism, which is its most important and successful attribute. Any ‘field’ within science which doesn’t have a lot of verifiable and reproducible empirical data, or relies heavily on models, is prone to being captured by bias and politics.

  123. Kev-in-Uk says:
    October 1, 2013 at 12:24 pm
    The post-work REVIEW (peer review)

    Serious, serious error and confusion. Peer review is merely an editorial step, prior to journal publication, not a validation step. The REPLICATION and other studies with implications for the conclusions are what constitute the real post-work review and testing.

  124. It’s an ingrained convention in certain academic fields to use “data” as a plural. (But AFAIK it’s not universal in academia. I doubt that academic journals in the humanities, including English literature, enforce that style.) But the existence of this convention doesn’t mean that it’s more correct and/or that its adoption should be more widespread. I think it’s less correct and that its use should be rolled back Here are a few posts from past threads on WUWT on this matter:
    —————–

    Deadman wrote:

    “If you choose to use a Latin word, you have to get the plural correct.”

    [Roger Knights] That’s not so. Fowler, in Modern English Usage, states, “Latin plurals sometimes become singular English words (e.g., agenda, stamina) …” As long as it’s OK to employ those words as singulars, it’s OK to do the same for “data.”

    Not only is it acceptable to use “data” as a collective singular, using data as a plural word is incorrect because it throws the speaker (including those who use “data are”) into inconsistency with his habitual method of speaking, as Phillip W. pointed out. He wrote: “‘Data’ is naturally and consistently used as a mass noun in conversation: the question is asked how much data an instrument produces, not how many; it is asked how data is archived, not how they are archived; there is talk of less data rather than fewer; and talk of data having units, saying they have a megabyte of data, …” For another example of this usage, look at the post just above this one, where the phrase “the raw data is gone” is used.

    Because of this inconsistency with long-established and near-universal usage, and because, as Fowler shows, there is no real rule forbidding “data is,” “data are” will never be accepted–it will always sound odd or even affected.

    It’s counterproductive to make an issue about it, because the people criticized will not change their habit, but be determined to pay no attention to any similar criticism in the future. This backlash is what happened 100 years ago after schoolmarm grammarians made a fetish of not splitting an infinitive, distinguishing between shall and will, etc. They lost the war, by going a bridge too far.
    ————-

    PeterW (19:49:26) :

    The word `data’, in English, is a singular mass noun. It is thus a deliberate archaism and a grammatical and stylistic error to use it as a plural.

    The Latin word data is the neuter plural past participle of the first conjugation verb dare, `to give’.

    The Latin word ‘data’ appears to have made its way into English in the mid 17th century making its first appearance in the 1646 sentence `From all this heap of data it would not follow that it was necessary.’

    Note that this very first appearance of the word in English refers to a quantity of data, a `heap’, rather than a number.

    The English word `data’ is therefore a noun referring variously to measurements, observations, images, and the other raw materials of scientific enquiry.

    `Data’ now refers to a mass of raw information, which is measured rather than counted, and this is as true now as it was when the word made its 1646 debut.

    ‘Data’ is naturally and consistently used as a mass noun in conversation: the question is asked how much data an instrument produces, not how many; it is asked how data is archived, not how they are archived; there is talk of less data rather than fewer; and talk of data having units, saying they have a megabyte of data, or 10 CDs, or three nights, and never saying `I have 1000 data’ and expecting to be understood.
    ………………….

    . . . they will respond that `data is a Latin plural’. Agree to this, for the sake of professional harmony, and carry on the conversation, making sure to mention that `the telescope has data many odd images tonight’ (it’s a past participle after all), suggest looking at the data raw images (…or an adjective) and that you both examine the datorum variance (surely they recall the genitive plural); suggest they give you the datis (…the dative), so that you can redo the analysis with their datis (…and the ablative). If they object ask them to explain their sentimental attachment to the nominative plural, that they would use that in all cases, in brute defiance of good Latin grammar.

  125. David,
    Frequently I have asserted that there is better science done in some disciplines than others, with climate among the worst.
    As a geophysicist, you might be familiar with methods for measuring the Earth’s magnetic field at the surface then modelling the depth, volume and orientation of discrete magnetic bodies from surface grid results. We did a lot of pioneering work in this, for the Tennant Creek field in Australia’s Northern Territory. Richardson, father & son, plus others bashing away at mechanical calculators in the early days….
    These people developed a model to interpret what was below the surface. The models worked, as shown by accuracy in predicting the depth to the top of numerous discrete magnetic bodies; then other metrics as the remnant magnetism was separated from induced and remodelled.
    From geophysical examples such as this, one could place some faith in the modelling used. However, the modelling used in climate work has not been demonstrated to be successful. It is still work in progress and I venture to suggest that it is not a suitable basis for making investment decisions for the world.
    There is another factor that differs in this comparison. Those who used models for magnetism were held accountable for the performance of the method. If mistake after mistake had been made, they could not have generated profits to allow us to continue.
    Climate work lacks that factor of accountability. It is not nearly so honest.

  126. rogerknights says:
    October 1, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    I think the genitive plural would be datarum. Other than that, fine declensions…

  127. Nice summary. IPCC ‘science’ is not science. It is quasi-political dogma based on pre-assumed conclusions, backed up by billions of tax dollars, to make semi-professional natural scientist prove a hypothesis that was wrong in the first place. The IPCC is not the ‘Intergovernmental panel on climate change’, but the International Pushers of Climate Cheating.

  128. Brian H says:
    October 1, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    That isn’t what I was implying at all – I said ”The post-work REVIEW (peer review) serves to demonstrate to others the effectiveness of both the work AND the communication/description of the work so that it can be then accepted as ‘valid’ – Note that ‘valid’ does not mean it is necessarily ‘correct’ !”

    perhaps, I should have written ‘valid for publication’ instead of the first ‘valid’ – but I had already used ‘communication’!

    I also mentioned REPEATABLE – as normally work should be demonstrably repeatable before review/publication. (Scientists do not normally publish just on Eureka moments but check it all out first!)

    Peer review is intended to discover any obvious flaws in the work by folk with appropriate expertise (peers) before it is communicated to the wider world. But I agree, peer review is not validation (of correctness) – as I clearly stated!

  129. Consensus exists when everyone agrees; there is no majority or democracy implied.
    I’m among those who agree that greenhouse gases contribute to forcing and therefore that human activity has an impact on possible climat changes. So, I belong to the acclaimed 97% having now a >95% certainty of this phenomenon. This is not consensual, it’s majority opinion.

    But this is not the important issue and two primordial questions remain unanswered:
    1.- by how much is human activity impacting on climate change:in my educated opinion quite limited.
    2.- has this impact bad or good consequences: it’s hard to tell, but surely not only good or only bad ones, in any case far away in the future to have time for reasonable adaptation.

  130. “Folks who think that poppers prescriptions have any merit need to be reminded that science has advanced in many cases by ignoring his prescriptions. And Feynman was no better. ”

    I sense you’re being glib, Mr. Mosher, but that’s a wretched bit of reasoning. So what if the cash value of Popperian method is less than the cash value of science? That’s hardly proof that Popper’s ideas have no value.

    An analogy. Many investors have had success while ignoring the advice of Peter Lynch. That’s hardly proof that Lynch’s advice has no value. To demonstrate that proposition, you’d have to show that people who follow Lynch’s advice don’t significantly outperform the market.

    You could also try logic. (That’s some pragmatic advice for you.)

  131. Excellent, as always, Willis!

    As Willis has shown in any number of posts, CAGW models aren’t designed to reflect reality, but rather to prove the false premise that CO2 is Earth’s climatic control knob.

    I especially enjoyed Willis’ post on his one-line equation that fit CAGW model projections (contrived from millions of lines of computer code) to within an R squared value of .98. Brilliant. I still chuckle when I think about that post…

    A famous statistician once said, “Give me 4 parameters and I can fit an elephant, and if you give me 5, I can wiggle his trunk.”

    At this stage, CAGW/IPCC are simply about keeping the white elephant’s trunk wiggling for as long as possible and to steal as much taxpayer money as possible before the giggle factor/angry mobs, make such nefarious practices untenable.

    It feels like we’re at the beginning of the end of this insanity.

    It took 30 years for science to prove the Piltdown Man Hoax was based on the jawbone of an ape. Let’s hope it won’t take another 30 years to prove CAGW was based on the jawbones of a bunch of asses.

  132. faded;
    You utterly misunderstand the article. Holding a mental image of unwanted events makes them more likely. Rituals that “throw away” something help disperse the image, and hence the (self-caused) result.

  133. Brad says:
    October 1, 2013 at 11:29 am
    … “Our leading politicians are no longer accessible by the public-at-large. Our emails and phone calls go to dead files, never to be read or heard. It is no longer possible to even speak with one in person, they are covered by their minions who do their bidding using our tax dollars.”

    They are accessible. Join your Party branch, and get to work with policy resolutions. Get them passed by the Branch and sent up the line. Go to the various conferences and conventions and talk there. Meet the politicians face to face.

    If you sit on your BTM and do not join a Party, yes, you will not see a politician. But whose fault is that?

  134. Dr Deming: Thank you for an interesting article. You state: “At the end of the nineteenth century, geologists thought the Earth was less than 100 million years old.”. It may well be the case that some 19th C geologists were of this opinion. However I was under the impression that 19th C geologists such as Lyell, Haughton and Joly were only estimating a minimum age for the earth, not its full or maximum age. It was the physicist Kelvin who concluded by studying surface heat flow and the thermal conductivity of rocks that the maximum possible age of the earth was 40 million years (and who also, or so I have read, asserted that heavier-than-air flight was impossible). Kelvin turned out to be wrong by more than 2 orders of magnitude, because he assumed that the earth has no continuing internal source of heat production. Physicists, even very good ones such as Kelvin, and indeed scientists of all persuasions, can be wildly wrong on account of having made incorrect assumptions.

  135. Dudley;
    At every stage of the process you describe, agreement with the groupthink is checked for, and enforced. Those who make it to positions of influence have been thoroughly filtered and shaped, and no more reflect public input and wishes than would a hired PR agent. You sound like one of them.

  136. Friends:

    In hope of stopping the side-track about Latin plurals I offer the following.

    There is a useful distinction between data and datum.
    (a)
    A set of data (e.g. comprising a time series) is singular information because it is a set.
    (b)
    A datum is one of the items in the set.
    (c)
    Part of the set is data because it is more than one piece of information. However, if that part of the set is selected as a sub-set (e.g. for comparison with another sub-set) then the sub-set is singular information.

    Richard

  137. Professor Brian Cox has a series running on the BBC at the moment chronicling some of the achievements of British science. He lists the scientific method and peer review amongst them, yet fails to notice the shortcomings that Dr. David Deming has pointed out.

  138. It seems to me that is climate science the peer review process fails at the conclusions drawn. Even when the research is done, and done correctly many of the conclusions drawn just can’t be made from the evidence presented.
    If I have a hypothesis that blue cars get better gas mileage than red cars and I measure the gas mileage on ten of each I will no doubt get a result. The average of ten cars will almost always differ from the average of another ten no matter how similar they are or their color. I cannot then conclude that red cars get better mileage because their average was lower. I can do the experiment and all the calculations correctly, and in a sense that experiment is science, but the moment I make conclusions my experiment can’t back up I am not doing science.
    In a general sense this is where climate science appears to be. The moment we accept that the temperature going up or down is evidence of AGW we stopped doing science. The temperature was always going to go either up or down it was a 50-50 chance. It doesn’t matter how accurately the temperature is measured.
    As in my mileage example the temperature is dependent on many things other than anthropogenic CO2 and the only way to get to a conclusion is to work out the other factors. Much of the work should just be reviewed as research that might be true but can’t be proved from what’s shown.

    • For many scientists, the first order of the day is;
      “Get the grant/sponsor” the IPCC is the proven pinnacle of this mantra.

  139. ‘Peer review is a highly unreliable process that produces nothing but opinion. A study conducted in 2010 concluded that reviewers agree “at a rate barely exceeding what would be expected by chance.” ‘

    The closest analogy to Peer Review I know is ‘Prime Minister’s Question Time’ in the UK House of Commons.

    The ‘Speaker’ is the Editor of the Journal, co-ordinating the bunfight and adjudicating on the allowability of individual utterances. They also call who is to ask questions (analagous to choosing the referees) and as a result, the ‘referee’s report’ aka the Question posed, may be gushing praise or a ‘you are a disgrace to the world’, although said within the constraints of Parliamentary language.

    Anyone who has studied this process will see good, legitimate questions stonewalled or stymied, shouted down or sneered at. They will listen to puke-inducing planted questions more suitable in the professional courtesan’s bedroom than in the highest debating chamber of the land.

    90% of what you get is froth, but from time to time, a real gem emerges, an exchange which defines a politician’s career emerges.

    I had a submitted paper reviewed once: referee A said the paper should be published without revision; referee B said it was useless and should be rejected outright; referee C said ‘what about this, that and the other’? There was nothing unbelievably original in the submission, merely the reporting of an unexpected technical finding which could, potentially, have interesting mechanistic implications were the process understood further. Referee A was the Prime Minister’s rottweiler; Referee B was the Leader of the Opposition’s rottweiler; Referee C was an Honorable and Distinguished Back Bencher.

    Much as the Press represents ‘the first version of history’, so scientific publications reflect ‘the first version of new scientific understanding’.

    • My Georgetown history professor, Carroll Quigley, whom I mentioned in an earlier post, taught a class named “Science, Christianity, and the Western Intellectual Tradition,” the main point of which was that all three are based on the same premise: “The truth unfolds through time through communal effort.” Although the IPCC claims that its work is based on science, it’s quite obvious to me that the IPCC is not concerned with “the truth” but with advancing a certain politco-economic agenda, and, moreover, to justify its own existence and thereby ensure continued funding and thus the jobs of its staff.

      For those of you who may dispute that there is a “truth,” I ask that if there is no truth then how can there be error?

  140. Andres Valencia says:
    October 2, 2013 at 7:31 am
    Science is fallible, it fails more often than not.
    Too simplistic. Science is the bedrock of our modern civilization and certainly cannot in general be a failure. All science is subject to continuous revision and improvement and science is self-correcting with time [although wrong ideas can hang around for some time].

  141. Guest essay by Dr. David Deming, he said,

    . . .

    . . . Objectivity is not required or taught, nor are there any totally objective human beings. Bias is ubiquitous and fraud occurs.

    . . .

    – – – – – – – –

    David Deming,

    Your essay has stimulated an important discussion.

    How do you know that what you state (quoted above) is true if you apply your dictum that no one is totally objective? You self refute your own objectivity in your own view of science in that regard.

    Also, reasoning properly requires no science, but science does require reasoning properly. Science is in that regard a derivative of the discipline of epistemology that is a traditional part of philosophy.

    There is no special aspect of scientists per se apart from just being normal reasoning humans.

    If there are humans that other humans consider intellectual (science is just a subset) authorities it is due to their normal human reasoning having high value to the others. It is merely division of intellectual labor in an open society.

    There are forms to the capacity of normal human reasoning that if applied can potentially yield objective results; not guaranteed and it is not easy. Science is not the source of it nor the exclusive user of it. The capacity of normal human reasoning is innate to humans, but it must be consciously focused on to be applied. Those with greater focusing discipline have an advantage compared to those with less focusing discipline.

    John

  142. ***
    lsvalgaard says:
    October 1, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    The beauty of English is it fluidity. There is no central body dictating what people MUST say.
    ***

    Right. Willis E. has said as much to other grammar-nazis.

  143. rtj1211:

    I agree with the message of your post at October 2, 2013 at 7:21 am

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/10/01/why-climate-science-is-fallible/#comment-1433804

    and I like your analogy of peer review with PMQs.

    However, for the benefit of non-Brits, I think it needs to be pointed out that Ministrial Questions – including PMQ – are intended to test the Minister and not his/her policies themselves. The testing of policies is mostly done On the Corridor.

    Peer review should be the assessment of a paper to determine if it contains basic flaws which make it unworthy of publication. Sadly, some reviewers seem to think peer review and PMQs have the same intended purpose.

    Richard

  144. At the end of the nineteenth century, geologists thought the Earth was less than 100 million years old. Radioactive dating in the twentieth century showed they were in error by a factor of 46. In the 1920s, American geologists rejected Alfred Wegener’s theory of continental drift with near unanimity. They were all wrong. The history of science is a history of error.

    I think you made an error, and misunderstood the scientific method…. To err is an integral part of science. That is how we learn, by identifying what doesn’t work.

    What is not science, is presenting something as fact, that is so patently absurd that every child in the world will recognise the absurdity.

    Thought experiment: Go outside on a sunny day with no clouds and turn your face towards the Sun. Which radiation source heats your face the most?
    a) The Sun?
    b) The Earth, via greenhouse gasses?
    Think about it first, then check the official IPCC answer found in this figure, from the latest AR5 report.

    This is not an error, therefore it isn’t science.

  145. I though it was a good article and really have no disagreement with its content … but I do have an opinion on its context …. and similar context within the postings.

    As far as I’m concerned, philosophers and prophets are “two peas in a pod” with the only difference being that philosophers generate copious amounts of commentary and spend a lot of their time thinking up new verbiage to explain, define and/or divorce their prophecies from anything that has been previously philosophized ….. whereas the prophet simply states his prophecy in common verbiage which requires no explanation.

    Stating that there is a ‘scientific method’ is akin to stating there is a “lawnmowing method”. Your method for mowing your lawn is probably not the best method for me mowing my lawn. But the end results are the same, both lawns get mowed.

    Now if “scientific method” is defined as a “recommended procedure”, then fine. But to suggest, infer or claim that it is a “mandatory procedure” is utterly silly. The only exception to the aforesaid is that Teachers of Science should mandate said “scientific method” to their students to insure that they get started out on the right foot, otherwise there is likely to be “kaos in the classroom”. Likewise for students learning to mow a lawn.

    The verb logic, logics or logical, be it inductive or deductive, is nothing more than intelligent choice-making wherein two (2) or more entities, parameters and/or criteria are involved and which is predicated on one’s nurtured knowledge of the subject in question and their ability to recall said knowledge and/or any nurtured knowledge than can or might be associated, correlated or helpful with said choice-making. Thus said, what is logical for the goose is not logical for the gander …. unless the gander has the equivalent learned knowledge and recall abilities.

    But it is not easy for the goose to nurture older ganders with newer knowledge of a subject or with better recall abilities, thus the goose must employ the above said “scientific method” by presenting the gander with a “step by step” procedure/explanation for its logical choice/decision.

    Cheers, The ranting and delusional denialist,

  146. John Campbell, Kev-in-Uk, Gary Pearse, DirkH, David, Eeyore Rifkin, Doug Huffman, and Willis Eschenbach are all on the correct track (though I disagree about Goedel; his work on mathematical theory doesn’t transfer well to the real world).

    The scientific method is well worked out, widely known, widely accepted… yet denied and perverted by many others.

    And some people disagree about logic, reason and ratiocination, as well. I came across several people heatedly arguing over whethat reason is reasonable or acceptable. One insisted that it is not, another that it was, but on exploring a bit I found they were talking past/over each other, not engaged in a communication. Two of them excluded much that is quite reasonable from the realm of reason, for instance.

    I’ve wondered more than once how Soros could have studied under Karl Popper and arrive at some of his beliefs. Consensus has no place in science. Persuasion, however, does.

    Science “proves” nothing, Réaumur. It only leaves hypotheses open to disproof (as Bill Marsh says Einstein pointed out). Information is an economic good, and no one person can be an expert in everything, so we satisfice by accepting plausibility most of the time, on most of the subject matter in which we are not experts. If it is consistent with what we know in an area, that’s as far as we investigate, and leave the rest to those with specific interests, which leaves us open to being conned.

    hoyawildcat, both are real, but only one is really science.

    Volker Doormann, If “the basis of logic does not have a foundation”, then you’re misapplying Goedel, and denying that any genuine axiom — some foundation, or base, or a priori irrefutable point — exists. Existence is the axiom. If you don’t exist, if the subject-matter does not exist, then there can be no logic, no valid line of reasoning. You could make no argument.

    noaaprogrammer, “sociology” doesn’t deserve the suffix. Like “climate science” there’s verly little science to it. After the initial dedicated reading, I got through my university sociology course by informally rating the prof’s favorite quotes from the field’s authorities, by their insanity. This way, I could reliably match up unattributed statements from them with the “sage” who spouted them based solely on how crazy they were. In this way, I saved that valuable memory space for physics, chemistry, computer science, and economics.

  147. There is no cookbook even in math. It is a proven fact there is no general algorithmic method whatsoever to find mathematical proofs. However, given a purported proof, its status is algorithmically decidable indeed.

    In a somewhat looser sense it is also true for natural sciences. Finding the right theory conforms to no cookbook the same way it is seen in math. The difference is that although here we can never give a final proof of it, but it is possible to design experiments that prove the theory wrong, should it be the case. Good theories have already survived many such attempts.

    There is one pivotal point though. A theory describing a single run of a unique physical instance is not even a theory in physical sciences. That means there can be no theory of either terrestrial climate or cosmology. Theories always describe multiple runs of a wide class of physical instances, this is why it is possible to construct experiments at will to verify them.

    In singular cases like these we can do no better than applying existing theories to the system considered. However, in case of climatology the very physical theory, covering the class terrestrial climate belongs to, that of non reproducible quasi stationary nonequilibrium thermodynamic systems is lacking.

    It is not exceedingly hard to see that any attempt to apply a non existent theory is somewhat futile. Attempts called GCMs (General Circulation Models) of climate science fall into this very category.

  148. Brian H says:
    October 1, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    ” Gary Pearse says:
    October 1, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    You certainly can’t trust what the IPCC are doing, but don’t tar science with the same brush.

    Oh, really? Check out http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/11/lies-damned-lies-and-medical-science/8269/
    A physicist commenting on it said the situation was even worse in physics.”

    Brian, you are making the same mistake as David Deming – the scammers are not doing science, even if they have horn-rimmed glasses and white lab coats.

  149. lsvalgaard says:
    October 2, 2013 at 7:36 am

    Right, as usual. Since at least the time of David Hume, scientists and philosophers have seen fallibility in science as one of its great virtues. To say that science is fallible is not to say that it is false but that each of its statements is open to revision in light of human experience. Hume’s argument that science is fallible was a great achievement. Hume’s predecessors, chiefly Descartes, Leibniz, and Spinoza, all held that human knowledge of the world includes a whole raft of necessary truths, infallible truths. The argument for fallibility has to be renewed regularly. I think the last great such argument is from John Dewey around 1930 or so. Hegel, Marx, and their followers re-established necessary truth as part of science. A highly technical explanation of fallibility in science is found in Quine’s thesis that all the empirical evidence “underdetermines” even physical theory – or as Hume would say, the future can always surprise you.

    Learning the history of science in a program where serious philosophy of science is taught is something really worth doing.

  150. Jquip says:
    October 1, 2013 at 4:59 pm
    “Theo Goodwin: “There is science, a process, and there is Science, final products.”

    So if the final product is a valid Scientific paper, but the process was to divine the universe by casting sheep knuckles, then ‘divination by sheep knuckles’ is ‘science.’ If not, why not?”

    It has been quite a few centuries since casting sheep knuckles could yield a valid scientific paper. I do not see why you raise the topic.

  151. (quoting) “Learning the history of science in a program where serious philosophy of science is taught is something really worth doing.”

    My logical conclusion is that a large percentage of the above posted commentary has been ….. a serious discussion on the philosophy of science …. rather than a discussion on the subject context of the article.

    Which “shows to go ya” how easy it is to get “sidetracked” and headed down a wrong path when engaged in science research and discovery.

  152. mib8 says:
    October 2, 2013 at 11:10 am

    “Volker Doormann, If “the basis of logic does not have a foundation”, then you’re misapplying Goedel, and denying that any genuine axiom — some foundation, or base, or a priori irrefutable point — exists. Existence is the axiom. If you don’t exist, if the subject-matter does not exist, then there can be no logic, no valid line of reasoning. You could make no argument.“

    ‘An axiom system is a system of basic statements, axioms accepted without proof’ or ‘As classically conceived, an axiom is a premise so evident as to be accepted as true without controversy’. It is equal to a religious system of basic statements, religions accepted without proof. If you claim that existence is the axiom, and you would be taken serious, than you have to give a reason for an existence or alternatively a proof for it. You cannot say ‘God has no existence, because there is no proof of an existence God’, and at the same time: ‘Logic has an existence, because there is no proof of an existence of logic. The claim, that an axiom is a premise so evident as to be accepted as true without controversy’ is a fallacy called Argumentum ad numerum ‘This fallacy consists of asserting that the more people who support or believe a proposition, the more likely it is that that proposition is correct. For example: “All I’m saying is that thousands of people believe in pyramid power, so there must be something to it.”
    The acceptance of logic is an agreement of trust. But in the religions there are also agreements in the trust of the existence of God. The very point is, that I can make use of logic by speaking arguments, because I do trust its structure, although philosophy cannot show the existence of logic. The problem with philosophies is, that there is no idea what existence is. It seems that it is external from the mind or external from the own consciousness, like a tree or a car. But that is wrong, because logic has no location and no time.

    V.

  153. Willis,
    I like your scientific method. Unfortunately there is the human ego, money, politics, power and religion, which have at times, and continue to interfere with the process. This is why some “cookbook”, as others have called the traditional scientific process was conjured up and, of course, it is not followed either for the same reasons.

  154. lsvalgaard says:
    Do not want to enter the English/Latin useage debate but would be interested in any thoughts you might have about the “Weakest Solar Cycle in a Century” article in the November issue of Sky and Telescope Magazine, if you have seen it. It notes the “assymetric” nature of the present cycle and predicting cycle 25 to be weaker than 24.

  155. Jim G says:
    October 3, 2013 at 7:10 am
    any thoughts you might have about the “Weakest Solar Cycle in a Century” article in the November issue of Sky and Telescope Magazine, if you have seen it. It notes the “asymmetric” nature of the present cycle and predicting cycle 25 to be weaker than 24.
    I haven’t seen it (yet), but shall and will let you know.

  156. lsvalgaard says:
    October 3, 2013 at 8:07 am

    Several months ago, you indicated here at WUWT that the older “classic” value of 1370/1366 for the average solar constant is actually now 1362 watts/meter. A small difference, true, but I’m wondering if that 1362 is still valid, or might it go lower if overall solar activity (not just sunspots) in cycle 24 continues to decline?

  157. RACookPE1978 says:
    October 3, 2013 at 8:23 am
    Several months ago, you indicated here at WUWT that the older “classic” value of 1370/1366 for the average solar constant is actually now 1362 watts/meter. A small difference, true, but I’m wondering if that 1362 is still valid, or might it go lower if overall solar activity (not just sunspots) in cycle 24 continues to decline?
    The difference between the old and the new values of TSI is 4.8 W/m2 and that seems to be firm [and its reason well understood]. In http://www.leif.org/research/TSI-SORCE-Cycle-24.png you can see that the minimum value of 1360.5 was reached with no solar activity present, I don’t expect that value to be undercut at the next solar minimum. Unfortunately the satellite is now broken [battery failure] so we’ll have to wait for the next instrument to be launched [perhaps at the end of the year] and to see how well we can calibrate it with the current one to say something definite.

  158. Interesting plot. Thank you.

    That will prove troublesome in => can the new instrument (on the next satellite) be back-calibrated to match up against a “missing group” of data when the actual values of what you are observing continue to change with time? That is, what serves as the proxy or replacement platform between the loss of battery and the next launch?

    Oddly, the 10.7 flux has declined from its peak (at 2012.81 , correct ?), as has the SSN and SDIC at the same time. But the TSI flattened out, and until the sensor failed, never did decline. Have you seen this behavior before, and – if so – does the drop in all three indexes tend to confirm that the cycle 24 peak was last year?

  159. RACookPE1978 says:
    October 3, 2013 at 9:17 am
    That is, what serves as the proxy or replacement platform between the loss of battery and the next launch?
    We may be able to use PMOD [from the VIRGO instrument on SOHO] as a bridge, but there is still a little bit of juice left in SORCE. They are saving that for re-starting the measurements when the new instrument is launched in order to compare.

    Oddly, the 10.7 flux has declined from its peak (at 2012.81 , correct ?), as has the SSN and SDIC at the same time. But the TSI flattened out, and until the sensor failed, never did decline. Have you seen this behavior before, and – if so – does the drop in all three indexes tend to confirm that the cycle 24 peak was last year?
    As you can see here http://www.leif.org/research/TSI-SSN-F107-CMEs.png although the SSN and the F10.7 flux are smaller than for cycle 23, both TSI and the number of CMEs have risen above what one would expect for the lower SSN, possibly [this is speculation] showing the Livingston & Penn effect affecting the SSN already. As to when the ‘peak’ was is hard to say as both TSI and CMEs are still going up.

  160. I liked of the video of Richard Feynman talking about how a new law is found: guess->experiment->compare to reality. And if it doesn’t compare to reality, reject.
    One complicating factor with climate change is disagreement on the number of salient variables. Some say there is only one variable, .CO2. Some say the sun is a variable and others deny it and call it a constant. There are also well recognized factors such as the PDO and other ocean factors that appear to influence the weather. IMO, we are nowhere near being able to identify all of the salient variables and there proper weighs,
    I once was working on a very complex machine that was not working correctly. When I asked for guidance, the research scientist that invented the process and who lived a few hundred miles away.
    told me.”send me all the salient data and I will tell you what is wrong with it.” I told him “If i could identify all the salient data, I would have fixed it myself!”

  161. lsvalgaard says:
    October 1, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    IMO the Greek singular word “criterion” is still considered proper usage to mean one standard, while the plural “criteria” for more than one, at least in writing if not everyday speech. About use of the Latin words “datum” & “data”, you are IMO correct.

  162. lsvalgaard says:
    October 1, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    IMO the Greek singular word “criterion” is still considered proper usage to mean one standard, while the plural “criteria” for more than one, at least in writing if not everyday speech. About use of the Latin words “datum” & “data”, you are IMO correct.

    hoyawildcat says:
    October 1, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Dr. Deming & you are both right. Late 19th century geologists were grudgingly forced publicly to accept physicists’ estimates of the age of the earth at tens of to at most 100 million years, but still harbored private doubts. Perhaps encouraged by Lord Kelvin’s calculations (published the next year), Darwin took out of the third edition of Origin (1861) & subsequent printings his assessment that the Weald took 300 million years to form. His own son became a physicist & published an age of the earth estimate in line with Kelvin’s.

    It’s now known that Kelvin’s estimate for the age of the earth was way too short (thanks to radioactive decay, as so artfully explained by Rutherford, with an aged Kelvin in his audience) & that Darwin’s for the Weald too long. The naturalist was of course correct that earth had to be at the very least hundreds of millions of years old & more likely billions.

  163. milodonharlani says:
    October 3, 2013 at 12:05 pm
    IMO the Greek singular word “criterion” is still considered proper usage to mean one standard
    This has surprising legs. I do not disagree that criterion is still proper [I prefer it myself], however whenever I use it, people always try to correct me, and then there is http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/criterion : “The form criteria is sometimes used as a nonstandard singular form (as in ‘a criteria’, ‘this criteria’, and so on)”. Google returns 4 million results when searching for “this criteria” [including a few stating that 'this criteria' is not correct :-) ].

    • Data are, not is. The plural of argumentum is argumenta, as in “he favors argumenta ad hominem.” “Critierion” is singular, “criteria” is plural — as expressed in the form of metalanguage, a la Popper, referring to the single term, not its meaning, which was Popper’s workaround of The Liar Paradox.)

  164. hoyawildcat says:
    October 3, 2013 at 1:46 pm
    Data are, not is.
    I say data is or are depending on the context. As a mass noun it is ‘is’. Referring to specific data it is ‘are’. That way the language adds further meaning to aid in communication, and ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.’

  165. I agree that the case of criteria is a lot more clear cut than data. The jury is still out, according to Merriam Webster:

    “The plural criteria has been used as a singular for over half a century . Many of our examples, like the two foregoing, are taken from speech. But singular criteria is not uncommon in edited prose, and its use both in speech and writing seems to be increasing. Only time will tell whether it will reach the unquestioned acceptability of agenda.”

    I use criterion for the singular & don’t think people find it stilted. I say media are, however, which might be on the way out. I go with the flow on visa & agenda, because treating them as plurals would be outre at this point.

    Your command of English is remarkable.

  166. milodonharlani says:
    October 3, 2013 at 3:46 pm
    I agree that the case of criteria is a lot more clear cut than data. The jury is still out, according to Merriam Webster
    I’ll give Humpty Dumpty the last word on that :-)

    Your command of English is remarkable.
    I have been speaking English since the 1950s and learned Latin in the 1960s. I can still manage my mother tongue [Danish] although my son claims my speech is way too ‘old fashioned’.

  167. So what’s up with dat all red aurora this week. Could that be a pinch off the old electron belt of the radiation belts? Like a forbush decrease coming thru???

    RED AURORAS: On October 2nd, a CME hit Earth’s magnetic field, sparking a G2-class geomagnetic storm. Sky watchers on both ends of the Earth saw auroras; many of the lights were rare shades of red..
    ..Red auroras occur some 300 to 500 km above Earth’s surface and are not yet fully understood. Some researchers believe the red lights are linked to a large influx of electrons. When low-energy electrons recombine with oxygen ions in the upper atmosphere, red photons are emitted…

    http://www.spaceweather.com/

    Whats the stats? (slang for status)
    Whats the dats? (slang for data)
    Whats up with dat? (Scandinavian Yooper speak)
    or no

    Climate science is missing a lot of dats and stats.

  168. Jim G says:
    October 3, 2013 at 7:10 am
    any thoughts you might have about the “Weakest Solar Cycle in a Century” article in the November issue of Sky and Telescope Magazine, if you have seen it. It notes the “asymmetric” nature of the present cycle and predicting cycle 25 to be weaker than 24.
    I looked at it, and it is old news. My own speculation is here: http://www.leif.org/research/SSN/Svalgaard12.pdf and here: http://www.leif.org/research/Another-Maunder-Minimum.pdf or if you can do ppts: http://www.leif.org/research/Another-Maunder-Minimum.ppt

  169. lsvalgaard says:
    October 3, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    Old-fashioned is relative. If your Danish were really old-fashioned, you’d be able to speak & understand Icelandic. Even Icelanders can’t really read the Norse sagas without some education, contrary to the PR.

    If Guthrum, king of the Danelaw & leader of the successor to the Great Heathen Army, had beaten Alfred the Great, English & Danish would be practically the same language now.

    • “If Guthrum, king of the Danelaw & leader of the successor to the Great Heathen Army, had beaten Alfred the Great, English & Danish would be practically the same language now.”

      And just imagine how good English cheese would be.

  170. milodonharlani says:
    October 3, 2013 at 8:21 pm
    If Guthrum, king of the Danelaw & leader of the successor to the Great Heathen Army, had beaten Alfred the Great, English & Danish would be practically the same language now.
    Especially if William of Normandy hadn’t taken up French :-)

  171. lsvalgaard says:
    Thanks Leif. So, my interpretation of that which you have kindly provided, magnetic activity not necessarily well represented by sun spot count, magnetic activity not down but the manner in which it is “managed” (my word) by the sun is possibly changing (or has changed), and TSI not necessarily driven by or related to magnetic activity? Bottom line even if cycle 25 is weaker than 24, little effect upon climate? Do I have the basics of what you are saying? Also, are you expecting 25 to be weaker than 24 as per the article in S&T?

    Thanks again,

    Jim

  172. Jim G says:
    October 4, 2013 at 9:18 am
    Bottom line even if cycle 25 is weaker than 24, little effect upon climate?
    In my opinion the effect on any cycle, large or small, on climate would be minimal anyway [of the order of 0.1 C]
    Also, are you expecting 25 to be weaker than 24 as per the article in S&T?
    I do expect SC25 to be smaller, but not necessarily for the precise reasons in S&T.

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