Are Scientists Always Smart?

Guest post by Steven Goddard

There is no question that some of the greatest minds have been scientists.  Da Vinci, Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Edison, Einstein, Fermi, Feynman are a few names that come to mind.

But how about the consensus?  One of the most famous cases of consensus science gone ridiculous involved the theory of Continental Drift.  In 1912, a German scientist named Alfred Wegener introduced the theory that the continents were not stationary, but rather moved.

http://www.spacetoday.org/images/SolSys/Earth/WholeEarthSatMap/EarthMapSatImagesGoddard890x459.jpg

Any child can see that the continents fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, yet the scientific community took over 50 years to stop ridiculing Wegener and accept his theory.

“Utter, damned rot!” said the president of the prestigious American Philosophical Society.

Anyone who “valued his reputation for scientific sanity” would never dare support such a theory, said a British geologist.

“If we are to believe in Wegener’s hypothesis we must forget everything which has been learned in the past 70 years and start all over again.” Geologist R. Thomas Chamberlain

further discussion of it merely incumbers the literature and befogs the mind of fellow students.”    Geologist Barry Willis

Sound familiar?

http://travel.state.gov/images/maps/brazil.gif

http://www.globalkids.info/v3/content/africa.jpg

Several earlier scientists had also observed the obvious – from Wikipedia :

Abraham Ortelius (1597), Francis Bacon (1625), Benjamin Franklin, Antonio Snider-Pellegrini (1858), and others had noted earlier that the shapes of continents on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean (most notably, Africa and South America) seem to fit together. W. J. Kious described Ortelius’ thoughts in this way:[1]

Abraham Ortelius in his work Thesaurus Geographicus … suggested that the Americas were “torn away from Europe and Africa … by earthquakes and floods” and went on to say: “The vestiges of the rupture reveal themselves, if someone brings forward a map of the world and considers carefully the coasts of the three [continents].

Not only do the continents fit together, but Wegener observed that their geology matched.

http://www.scientus.org/Wegener-DuToit.jpeg

http://www.scientus.org/Wegener-DuToit.jpeg

And the fossils match.

. Wegener-Continental Drift-Fossils

http://www.scientus.org/Pellegrini-Wegener-1.gif

We see a parallel to global warming.  The earth is not warming out of control.  Sea level is not rising out of control.  The Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are not collapsing.  The IPCC documents have been shown to be littered with junk science and fraud.  The hockey team has been shown to be misusing their positions.  Yet the consensus hangs on to the ridiculous, for the same reasons they did from 1912 to 1960.  No one wants to “forget what they learned and start over again.”

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Mooloo

“We see a parallel to global warming.”
No we don’t. This is such a simple logical flaw that sceptics should never, ever repeat it. It makes us look like all the crank science fans (although Galileo is generally their favourite).
There are plenty of examples of science accepting amazingly bizarre theories in quite short notice, despite scientists having to learn things from the ground up. Quantum theory never had to put up much fight. Birds descending from dinosaurs was pretty quick too.
There are lots more examples of science rejecting pretty obvious ideas, on the basis that they were totally wrong. Lamarkianism (Lyshenkoism) is one good one.
If you want to prove AGW is wrong, then you need to prove AGW is wrong. Nothing else will do. Going off on a tangent about how other scientists were wrong in the past is totally and utterly irrelevant.

Tom G(ologist)

Even worse – the 1928 annual meeting of the American Association of Petroleum Geologist included an entire symposium on disproving, debunking, defaming, reidculing, and trying to put to rest the well-articulated ideas of one man, who was almost 100% correct.
Wegener not only concluded that some of the continents were together, he concluded that there had been one supercontinent (Pangaea), that it had split first along an east-west line into a northern (Laurasia) and southern (Gondwana) continent, and then later into east and west sub-sections (Correct), and that before Pangaea, there had been a precursor super continent (correct again).
The important thing was that it was all supported by evidence which his critics chose to ignore. THAT is the real similarity to our current situation.

Allen63

No.
More than half of PhDs’ intellectual scores are not high enough to support genuinely independent thought. Add to that — objectivity is needed — something not everyone posessses.

Ron de Haan

Very good article. Can’t agree more.
Thanks

David L. Hagen

Utah delivers vote of no confidence for ‘climate alarmists’
The US’s most Republican state passes bill disputing science of climate change, claiming emissions are ‘essentially harmless’

CLIMATE CHANGE JOINT RESOLUTION, 2010 GENERAL SESSION, STATE OF UTAH
Have we actually some Statesmen acting on conviction instead of political correctness?

Johnny Science

Einstein’s contribution to science is immeasurable, but when that guy stepped into politics/economics he was clueless. He loved socialism, which always baffled me because the guy didn’t live his own life that way. Growing up, he was so mad at the schools for the rigid way they taught that he started reading a ton on his own. He thought about physics like no one else did, in part, because he was such a hardcore individualist and didn’t want to approach it like anyone else. Sometimes he even made up his own math symbols.
You get all these brilliant scientists who think they’re brilliant in other areas, and a lot of times it just ain’t true. It’s like that for most any intellectual. They grow up with everyone saying how smart they are, which may very well be the case, but it does not always mean they’re smart about everything.
This is exactly what’s been going on with this climategate stuff. These people think they know how the world should be managed, and they let that sentiment override everything they stand for.

Allen63

No.
Only half of PhDs’ have intellectual scores high enough to support thinking outside the box (according to some sources). Add to that — objectivity is needed — something probably fewer than half of the population has in abundance. Moreover, a load of self confidence is needed to handle the criticisms and admit mistakes.
Tough to find all the needed factors in one person.

CodeTech

Aw Mooloo… I’ll add to what I’m sure will be a chorus.
“WE” don’t have to prove anything. Those who BELIEVE in AGW have to prove it. Currently there is no credible evidence, the evidence that has been presented has been shown to be flawed, the physics don’t add up, the people involved were caught with their hands in the cookie jar (disrupting the peer review process), and the pockets are deep for promoting the idea.
But the idea itself has not only not been proven, but has been convincingly enough disproved for anyone who will simply look.

If Edison said that genius was 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, then in the case of AGW I would suggest something like 90% imagination and 10% perspiration.
If we can up the perspiration levels, as we have seen with the huge efforts of Anthony, Steve et al, and cut down on the imagination, we might head back towards a real science.

Ray

This reminds me of the whole deal about Cold Fusion. There was lots of excitement at the time. It was shown to be an artifact. Artifacts in science are common when you don’t control every parameters. It’s often not easy to see that the signal can be an artifact some times.
The science from the the IPCC is what is called “Pathological science” and billions of dollars have been put into studying artifacts that certain scientists were not smart enough to figure out it was just that… artifacts.
Def.: Pathological science is the process in science in which “people are tricked into false results … by subjective effects, wishful thinking or threshold interactions”. The term was first used by Irving Langmuir, Nobel Prize-winning chemist, during a 1953 colloquium at the Knolls Research Laboratory. Langmuir said a pathological science is an area of research that simply will not “go away” —long after it was given up on as ‘false’ by the majority of scientists in the field. He called pathological science “the science of things that aren’t so”

Jack

Uh, Mooloo, it is the warmists who have to prove AGW right, and they haven’t. And they can’t.

Mooloo:
“If you want to prove AGW is wrong, then you need to prove AGW is wrong. Nothing else will do. Going off on a tangent about how other scientists were wrong in the past is totally and utterly irrelevant.”
No, you are wrong. It is up to the proponents of the hypothesis to prove it, not for rationalists to disprove same.
It is impossible to falsify an hypothesis that is based purely upon conjecture, assumptions, and computer modelling.
The trouble with the Warmers is that they have lost sight of the Scientific Method, or perhaps had no concept of the Scientific Method in the first place.
I suppose that this is the best outcome we can expect from the “dumbing down” of education in the latter part of the 20th century.

Raving

Topic: “Are Scientists Always Smart?”
Hence Tim Lambert’s claim that WUWT is ‘Anti-Science’.

Michael J. Bentley

Jack,
Amen and Amen! We skeptics don’t have to prove anything, except that the hypothesis can be falsified – if only once.
The AGW hypothesis has been falsified by its own authors…several times in the last few months.
Put down the Koolaid and step back, no one needs to be hurt here.
Mike Bentley

John Egan

Mooloo –
“If you want to prove AGW is wrong, then you need to prove AGW is wrong. Nothing else will do. Going off on a tangent about how other scientists were wrong in the past is totally and utterly irrelevant.”
You seem to forget the null hypothesis.
The obligation of proof lies, not with those who are skeptics of AGW, but with those who posit that the climate is dramatically changing. Actually, Wegener’s “Continental Drift” Theory is similar to AGW – in that it was doubted until a mechanism – seafloor spreading – was discovered to explain the process. Unlike AGW, Plate Tectonics brings together many disparate parts into an understandable whole. AGW, on the other hand, requires the dismissal of the MWP, the UHI, post-LIA warming to make its case.

TR-104195, Developments in Advanced Concepts for Nuclear Effects in Deuterated Metals, 1994, Electric Power Research Institute.
Find it on the Web. 234 Page report. Please stop making “Cold Fusion” a whipping boy, for “unproven” science.

Baike

Mooloo (20:21:05)
This article is not suggesting that because the consensus has been wrong in the past, therefore it is wrong now. It is merely suggesting to keep an open mind and not to assume that the consensus view is necessarily the more credible.

rbateman

They (AGW’er) have certainly made Herculean efforts to hide the refuting real-world evidence while at the same time fallen over themselves to pick out special places to support thier hypothesis. Some of it they just plain made up, and that is where AGW turned from a wrong theory into a hoax.
At a time when we most need to know exactly where things stand, we have a record that has been damaged. Record late snow in Dallas, TX and across the deep South plus rare snow in Rome underscores the need to know.
Exaclty where do things currently lie as to the southerly track of cold in the N.Hemisphere?

David L. Hagen

Mooloo

If you want to prove AGW is wrong …

. The burden of proof is on those proposing the novel model. Has anyone yet quantitatively validated models predicting catastrophic AGW?
Has anyone shown that global temperatures are following IPCC’s projections with better uncertainty than the default warming trend? (Nature may not be cooperating)
Has anyone shown IPCC’s projections to be more accurate than Don Easterbrook’s 2001 projections of cooling till 2040, then heating till 2070, then cooling till 2100?
Let the real “scientific” games begin!

mr.artday

To be fair, Wegener and everybody else had no idea how continents could plow through the crust. In parallel, anyone who understands Thermodynamics and the behavior of gases has no idea how a trace gas could cook the planet. When lots of new technology and observations opened up the field of plate tectonics, all the centuries of geological observations were, in a sense, jacked up and plate tectonics was slid under as a new foundation. In the case of Climatology, all the books have been cooked, the observations have been corrupted, and the data disappeared. So Climatology now has to restart from scratch.

LOL,
I have occasionally brought up this very point that “consensus” has been very wrong before.I would bring up this example along with J.Harlan Bretz (you look it up) to show that consensus is not the proper metric in determining if the “lone rascal” is wrong.
AGW believers would get irritated,when I do that and burrow deeper into the consensus silliness,by pushing the appeal to authority,post a long list of links and think he has made his point.And other dam excuses.
Too many AGW believers are simply lemmings who will bodily follow the “charismatic leader”, such as Al $$$ Gore or some other people who have a conflict of interest a mile long,that AGW believing lemmings amazingly overlook.
Consensus is a common tool in politics and common with ignorant followers,who has no idea what a scientific method is.

I think line of reasoning drifts dangerously close to creationism.
You’re not going to win a fight against scientists by claiming scientists are stupid. They’re not.
Point out conflicts of interest where they exist (not hard to find), sloppy research where it exists (not hard to find), present alternative possibilities (that’s harder and an area where skeptics need to do some more work).
If you want to argue with scientists about their area of expertise you need to put the work in. Otherwise, the only stupid person in the argument is you.

As a skeptic, it’s great to see a history lesson about how lots of people were wrong.
But as our first commenter pointed out, to prove “AGW” wrong there’s some serious scientific work required, not history.
In fact, AGW is made out of lots of different elements of science, some of which are strong and some of which are weak.
Even to talk about disproving AGW needs some definition, because lots of “AGW adherents” might disagree with, as examples:
– the removal of the MWP from last 1000 years’ climate reconstructions
– the fact that sea level rise is “accelerating”
– how reliable GCMs are
– whether clouds are understood well enough for us to understand climate
Lots of “AGW skeptics” might agree that:
– sea level is rising and global temperatures have increased in the last 100 years
– more CO2 in the atmosphere will increase the radiative forcing at the earth’s surface
And surprisingly there is a lot of published science supporting many of the different elements that make up the core AGW proposition. Not all from a few people. And from long before the IPCC existed.
Some of the basics, like quantifying the radiative effect of CO2 and water vapor, go back 30-40 years.
As you can see in CO2 – An Insignificant Trace Gas? Part Five
And if – as a basic proposition – CO2 doesn’t have a warming effect on the surface, why is there downwards longwave radiation measurable at the earth’s surface which matches the absorption characteristics of CO2, O3, CH4? Where does it come from?
As you can see in CO2 – An Insignificant Trace Gas? Part Six – Visualization

Ray (20:42:47) : Pathological Science..
“Cargo Cult Science” as Richard Feynman put it.
Or Post Normal Science if you want to make it sound better than junk.

A better parallel for AGW would be eugenics, as the late, great Michael Crichton pointed out:

Imagine that there is a new scientific theory that warns of an impending crisis, and points to a way out.
This theory quickly draws support from leading scientists, politicians and celebrities around the world. Research is funded by distinguished philanthropies, and carried out at prestigious universities. The crisis is reported frequently in the media. The science is taught in college and high school classrooms.
I don’t mean global warming. I’m talking about another theory, which rose to prominence a century ago.
Its supporters included Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Winston Churchill. It was approved by Supreme Court justices Oliver Wendell Holmes and Louis Brandeis, who ruled in its favor. The famous names who supported it included Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone; activist Margaret Sanger; botanist Luther Burbank; Leland Stanford, founder of Stanford University; the novelist H. G. Wells; the playwright George Bernard Shaw; and hundreds of others. Nobel Prize winners gave support. Research was backed by the Carnegie and Rockefeller Foundations. The Cold Springs Harbor Institute was built to carry out this research, but important work was also done at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford and Johns Hopkins. Legislation to address the crisis was passed in states from New York to California.
These efforts had the support of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Medical Association, and the National Research Council. It was said that if Jesus were alive, he would have supported this effort.
All in all, the research, legislation and molding of public opinion surrounding the theory went on for almost half a century. Those who opposed the theory were shouted down and called reactionary, blind to reality, or just plain ignorant. But in hindsight, what is surprising is that so few people objected.
Today, we know that this famous theory that gained so much support was actually pseudoscience. The crisis it claimed was nonexistent. And the actions taken in the name of theory were morally and criminally wrong. Ultimately, they led to the deaths of millions of people.

Certainly there are examples of people derided as crackpots by mainstream scientists who turned out to be right. There are also many more examples of people derided as crackpots by mainstream scientists who actually were crackpots.
I don’t know whether AGW is wrong or not. All I do know is that every time I get close enough to examine a key piece of evidence for AGW, it falls apart under examination. I am then told that although this piece of evidence doesn’t hold, there’s lots of other evidence somewhere (usually behind a firewall) that “all scientists agree” must be conclusive evidence of AGW. Can I see this evidence? No, because you’re not a mainstream scientist/activist/musician/whatever.
In other words, I lack prior belief in the truth of AGW – a religious axiom.

wes george

Mooloo is obviously not familiar with the scientific method. Nor was Mr. Goddard offering evidence to falsify the AGW hypothesis. He was simply trying to put the current “debate” in the larger historical context.
Moreover, Mooloo doesn’t know his history. Quantum theory was still not taught at some American universities even after the bombs were dropped on Japan. They had to wait for the old-school heads of the physics depts. to literally die. And the academic battles over the endothermic dinosaur theory were brutal, if not much noticed by the public. Many academics would prefer to go to their graves before renouncing their lifetime accumulation of work for a new paradigm based on new evidence…no doubt we shall witness more of the same behavior from the gurus of AGW.
As far as I am aware the only “amazingly bizarre theory” ever adopted en masse on short notice in the history of science was the AGW hypothesis. I suspect this was due to the immature nature of the scientific evidence involved combined with various cultural and sociopolitical impetuses, (environmental millenarianism and collectivism) which distorted the usual plodding nature of scientific progress.
But as any good student of Enlightenment values knows–the science is never settled.

RockyRoad

Ray (20:42:47) :
This reminds me of the whole deal about Cold Fusion. There was lots of excitement at the time. It was shown to be an artifact. Artifacts in science are common when you don’t control every parameters. It’s often not easy to see that the signal can be an artifact some times.
———–
Reply:
Sorry Ray, but that’s a bad analogy. Cold Fusion was “debunked” because the signatures that identify hot fusion were applied to it. Well, you can imagine that wasn’t too applicable–kinda like using your wife’s candy thermometer to measure earth’s terrestrial temperature; the wrong tool for the job.
Google or Bing LENR, which is the acronym “cold fusion” has migrated to get rid of the stigma that was never justified. (LENR stands for Low Energy Nuclear Reactions.) The “hot fusion” people (physicists, by the way) jumped all over it to discredit it since it didn’t fit in with their “theories”. Problem is, the physicists were just like the AGWers, bowing to their cherished theories and demanding the world follow their textbooks, which were more than 100 years old, rather than taking a fresh look at the real world.
The chemists, who by the way aren’t as tied to the theory as the theoretical physicists, went into their laboratories and kept working with it, discovering more and more interesting characteristics about it until they came up with a pretty solid explanation.
If you pursue the topic, you’ll see a lot of pros and cons, but all the current activity regarding LENR is happening overseas–the hot spots right now are Israel and Japan. There have been numerous patents filed on the phenomena and there’s even a medical device (upgraded since it was first introduced) that’s based on LENR. The US Navy, to their credit, have begun investigating the process, and maintain that the phenomenon is real.
Sad that the US has decided not to participate in this field–the theoretical physicists did such a good job of debunking the process (in actuality demonstrating their unyielding stubborness by relying on outdated theories) that “cold fusion” lost all funding support in the US. But it didn’t die. Indeed, research is continuing in a number of countries outside the US.
After I researched it several years, I’ve come to the conclusion that cold fusion has more promise than hot fusion. One of the amazing aspects of the process is that cold fusion appears to be the perfect nuclear reaction–there’s no untoward radiation (hence their difficulty in detecting it); in fact, the research indicates it can be used to render highly radioactive materials completely innocuous. You could hold a “Mr. Fusion” in your hand and have no worries whatsoever. And with a couple of liters of heavy water (about $50 a liter now) and the right configuration using paladium (rather more expensive than heavy water!), you could have a basement heating supply that would last 30, 40 maybe 50 years for a few thousand bucks. There’s even evidence it can be used to generate electricity directly, but we’ll see where that goes. Considering how the weather’s going and fuel prices and supply a big question, I’d be happy just for the long-term heating unit.
Truly exciting stuff.

Read Thomas Sowell’s ‘Intellectuals and Society’ for an informative discussion on how ‘intellectuals’ get things wrong repeatedly and too often with disasterous results. I would have previously referred to such individuals as pseudo-intellectuals for their inability to use their big brains except within their narrow subjects (an inability to recognize their limitations), but have since adopted Dr Sowell’s definition of ‘intellectuals’ and could never call myself one again. See an excellent interview (5 part) with Dr Sowel discussing his book at Hoover Intstitution/NRO’s Uncommon Knowledge site: http://tv.nationalreview.com/uncommonknowledge/

And if – as a basic proposition – CO2 doesn’t have a warming effect on the surface, why is there downwards longwave radiation measurable at the earth’s surface which matches the absorption characteristics of CO2, O3, CH4?>
Here lies the problem Mr Doom. You begin by putting words in the skeptics’ mouths, and then arguing against them. The question is NOT if you can measure downward longwave radiation or not. The question is does the presence of CO2 result in a net increase in energy retained? The latter question is far more relevant than the former. The latter question is governed by the laws of thermodynamics which say no, have been repeatedly demonstrated by experimentation to be accurate, and which are in general agreement with long term observation of the climate via the geological record.
A wise old woman once explained to me that she could prove that man had never landed on the moon. Mosquitos! she said. Huh? said I. If they can’t even get rid of mosquitos, how could they possibly figure out how to go to the moon? she asked. I had no more answer for her than I do for your question.

Imran

Mooloo – the article is simply pointing out that history is littered with the debris of flawed scientific ideas which were believed by a majority, ie. a flawed consensus.
And it isn’t up to people who disagree with a theory to prove it wrong – the burden of proof lies with those who are proposing the theory – those who are saying we all have to change the way we live.

Intelligence does not a scientist make. Look it is not about being intelligent. It is about observation and honesty. I have looked at the information that has been bandied about by people who believe in AGW and I agree in general terms that man does effect temperature. Where I deviate is in the acceptance that CO2 is the main driver of it. I reject the casual denial of UHI by these same scientist hell bent on saying it can only be CO2. What about agricultural changes that have occurred in the last 100 years ( talk about changing the humidity of areas and evaporation rates of water ) Science does not blind itself in peer review, rather it uses peer review to find the whole, not give a stamp of approval. That is where peer review has failed us…

This reminds me of the whole deal about Cold Fusion. There was lots of excitement at the time. It was shown to be an artifact. Artifacts in science are common when you don’t control every parameters. It’s often not easy to see that the signal can be an artifact some times.
Actually Cold Fusion was assumed to be an artifact. It is real. Not well understood yet. Too many theories. Not enough data.
And lysenkoism? It works too. In some cases.
The deal is: the science is never settled. Only engineering is settled. And how you do that changes with understanding. Designing structures with Young’s modulus is easier than using spring constants.

John Whitman

Science & western civilization?
1st – pre Classical Greece period- some Asia minor mathematicians and metaphysicians
2nd – Classical Greece period- lots of “natural” philosopher (i.e. scientists)
3rd – Classical Roman period- natural philosophers and engineers
4th – Lights Out (Dark Ages) – scientists? zippo outside of religious dogma yes men
5th – Renaissance – scientists are born again
6th – Enlightenment – scientists see the light and multiply
7th – “Post Enlightenment”- massive science on a scale not known in the history of mankind
8th – Now Period (I don’t have a name for it) – political manipulation of science by democratic (yes, democratic) gov’ts
9th – Future – ???? [ but I am an optimist in spite of denying it on other WUWT posts]
John

Fred

The consensus anti-Wegener position was hung up on the fact that continental material is less dense then sea floor material. As less dense material can’t push its way through more dense material, they stopped there. If you don’t want to believe something, it’s very easy to declare the first problem it encounters a deal breaker. (Less dense material can ride on top of more dense material and be carried anywhere the plate wants to carry it.) Quantum theory provided answers to problems that had no prior consensus explanations; Continental Drift faced a united front. Most scientists do not change their minds, they retire. Just think of Fred Hoyle’s life-long take on the Big Bang theory. Or how Dr Marshall was treated when he advanced his theory of what causes peptic ulcers. (It’s got nothing to do with stress.) It takes more than merely being right to upset a science wide-consensus.

AnonyMoose

I’m busy right now creating anomalons with a beam of N-rays into a jar of polywater, which has a memory of being bathed in mitogenetic rays from the jungles along the Martian canals. Bigfoot brought it in an ESP-powered UFO, in trade for the skull of Piltdown Man.

AndrewG

The thing I always get back to is a comment Einstein made (and a situation he was in).
Back before ww2 most German Scientists were effectively public servants, the government funded them. And as the government in 1938 was ferociously anti-semetic, there was a document wherein something like 300 German scientists refuted relativity (effectively to keep their jobs but most of the scientists wernt physicists anyway)- Einstein when he heard of it was heard to say “If they were right it would only have taken one”
I just keep seeing parallels with that and whats gone on recently, the IPCC with its huge number of non-scientists claiming consensus by weight of numbers, published information saying effectively “hey..this isn’t right..we need to look closer at it” being ignored. People being labled “warmist” or “denier”. Basic errors in reports where either the facts obviously havn’t been checked or they’ve been added in the hope that no-one would notice.
And now we had the recent admission from Doctor Jones “maybe I should have kept better records”
Its all very depressing…I’m starting to wonder if scientists should be licenced and required to pass a Theory or Science 101 class every 5 years
Sorry for ranting

George Turner

scienceofdoom,
You cite measurements of downward radiation. Were those measurements taken during the day or at night? Your link doesn’t say, and the answer is extremely critical to your argument.

janama

so will Neal Adams finally be recognised for his expanding planet theory?

Joe Black

I strongly remember thinking as a kid in the 60’s that the teachers’ answers of coincidence explaining the congruent shapes of the Africa and SA facing coasts were unlikely.
Since my parents wouldn’t buy me a computer for my bedroom and wouldn’t allow me to connect to the ‘net, my thoughts on the subject remained isolated for decades.

‘Any child can see that’ the continents fit together like a jigsaw. As a child in the late forties, looking at a world map, I never doubted it and often discussed it with my friends. Guess I wasn’t so sceptical in those days.

John Blake

In logic as in law, one cannot prove a negative. Skeptics need not refute the AGW hypothesis –not a theory, which requires proof– because, as we have recently seen, the assertion is not falsifiable: When cool is warm and warm is cool, when “global warming” causes both drought and flood, mere facts never will suffice to settle issues.
Despite geophysically short time-frames, whereby Warmists constantly distinguish “climate” from mere weather, the burden of proof accordingly lies solely upon them. Alas, Edward Lorenz’s Chaos Theory renders linear extrapolations from complex dynamic systems mathematically impossible, while Boltzman’s Second Conservation Law of thermodynamic entropy equates any global atmospheric Greenhouse Effect with perpetual motion (see Gerlich and Tscheuschner’s March 2009 paper published by Germany’s renowned Institut fur Mathematische Physik).
On this basis, what “facts” Warmists adduce are notoriously subject to selective bias (“cherry picking”), clandestine statistical manipulation (erasing 85% of temperature stations, fraudulently “homogenizing” disparate data-sets, deflating time-series’ origins while inflating end-points, and so on), grotesque misrepresentation of manifestly skewed results (2350 read as 2035). The fact is, “climate studies” are not an empirical, experimental discipline but an ad hoc exercise of hindsight akin to botany, inherently incapable of projecting future non-random but indeterminate events in any context.
Since 1979, satellite images immune to fudging have definitively crimped Climate Cultists’ attempts to substitute “belief” for objective, rational, scientific evidence. No-one cares what academics here or so-called “skeptics” there believe… from Ptolemaic epicycles to atomic and germ theories, claques of “experts” have always anathematized dissenters from prevailing orthodoxy. “Belief” that hot air rises, water runs downhill, is meaningless– what counts is measurable fact. Ten-pound and one-pound cannonballs rolled down inclined planes will reach end-points simultaneously, and if Aristotle disagrees in theory– so much the worse for him, and his whole qualitative vs. quantitative edifice to boot.
To think that absent Climategate, despite McIntyre, McKitrick, and others, a Green Gang of no more than thirty close-knit collusive ideologues might well have subverted not only science but post-Enlightenment industrial/technological civilization at its root, is a dire thought. Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW)
is a Luddite sociopaths’ fraud perpetrated for decades in bad faith under ridiculously false pretenses, without a grain of integrity or even common sense. Arguments from Authority, by Stipulation (“it’s true because we Ascended Masters say it is”) need no refutation. Illegitimate as science, logically invalid, Warmists’ empty rhetoric is a puerile distraction from looming issues such as an impending 70-year Maunder Minimum, perhaps even the overdue onset of a new Ice Age.

geo

So, we’ve proved scientists can be idiots. Which doesn’t prove they are always idiots.
And Pasteur got it worse, and with more consequence.
Do I think the consensus of current day climatologists shows dangerous evidence of hubris? You bet I do. But that doesn’t make them wrong. Time will tell.

Steve Goddard

Every child also understands that record cold and snow in the deep south is not caused by excess heat (unless they have been through public school global warming indoctrination.) Cold is the absence of heat.
Yet we have a certain percentage of scientists who delude themselves into believing otherwise.

For me, Climategate is such a gripping narative because it plays out so many subplots. Everything from placing thermometers to the intricacies of the human psyche. Plus, of course, it is happening in real time. (Actually reading CRUTape letters too, which fills me in on a lot of detail as I am late to the party)
I am not sure that we are quite there yet. There are so many entrenched views that I don’t know how we will move forward. I am grateful to the poster who mentioned Eugenics. I think this has a somewhat chilling and ironic twist that Eugenics got swallowed up into Nazism, and led to the Holocaust. I find the current use of the word “denier” particularly poignant in this regards.
My mother was brought up in Nazi Germany and has some tales of a gun pointing at her head when she was 12 because she wouldn’t Sieg Heil Hitler.
My hope is that we can not only get a rational and modern approach to climate science, but that we will acknowledge these days as a darker moment of human history and intellectual freedom.
If we shove it under the carpet, like Eugenics, then that is the worst kind of denial.

observer

Yes scientists are smart. Real scientists. But this sorry, farcical agw saga has led the lay person to confuse real scienctific knowhow with bullshit. One such ignogrunt claimed agw was beyond doubt because Al baby and his kind said so. I mentioned my background was chemistry and atmospheric physics and that I thought agw was a joke supporting multiple hidden agendas. Oh no, not so, was his “considered opinion” The IPCC scientists, in his shallow view, were the only real scientists. This fellow was a shop assistant with zero scientific knowledge and convinced that the real science was IPCC. Thank MSM for much of this. And be thankful real science led to the engineering, medical and energy marvels of technology that we enjoy and benefit from today.

Steve Goddard

It is impossible to prove AGW is wrong, because the AGW predictions adapt to whatever the weather is. Ten years ago we were told that snow was rapidly becoming a thing of the past, now we are told that record snow is because of AGW. Drought and heat has been replaced by floods and cold. Hurricanes have been replaced by lack of hurricanes. AGW is a religion, not a science.
It will take 300,000 years for Antarctica to melt at current NASA estimated melt rates. Al Gore doesn’t need his mechanical lift.

John Whitman

geo,
I am working on a chart that shows data flow from sensor to product for all ocean buoy, satelite and ground based processes, etc, etc.
It was your following post that prompted me to start is
”””’geo (17:25:38)” said :
“This is cool, I like it. . . but you know what I’ve really been wanting recently?
A data flow diagram of data sets starting as raw data, going through a process (and who owns that process) and then being used as an input into the next process and the next data set, etc.
So like how does raw data aggregate into GHCN and GISS and CRUTEMP and data models and who does a process and where along the line.
I’d really like one of those.””””
I have almost got the left side column of the chart done that shows comprehensive list of the sensors: buoy, shipintake, satellite, balloon, aircraft, land/ice, etc. In parallel working on the tempurature “products” that will be the right hand column of the chart. Next is evolve the processes between. Taking time, but it helps me understand the RC, CA, WUWT, Air Vent, Lucia, stuff. Will be sharing parts of it in the future to get a reality check on what I am doing.
John

Raving

I have spent my entire life suspended at this divide between science and anti-science.
Some anti-scientists are ecologists and/or environmentalists. They amongst others recognize and appreciate partial, fragmented, distributed, multiply directed process. … In short, ‘holistic’ process.
The problem with ‘anti-science’ is that by definition, it is indescribable. It is nevertheless real. The fundamental, essential obstacle is that it cannot be perceived as a single, instantaneous ‘totality’.
If one is unable to engage and bind the ‘totality’ with sufficient rigor for intended purpose, then not even an open/dynamic system approach will be appropriate.
Anti-scientists become frustrated by the inability to describe what they understand. They react and respond to being criticized for expressing gibberish. There is no alternative but to put up with the dumbstruck lack of effective expression or to opportunistically and covertly adopt meaningful tokens of science in a pseudo-scientific manner. You know what? That is OK. Given the choice between “that” or nothing, “that” is at least ‘something’ even if it is wrong or nonsensical.
Scientists simply cannot grasp and engage what ‘exists’ yet is also fundamentally or for reason otherwise, … “indescribable”.
The usual explanation that scientists provide when they realize that they have it ‘wrong’ is that the situation was ‘misconstrued’. That is another way of saying that the problem was badly formed.
Climate is a large, multi component structure and process. If it is insufficiently described, so as to effectively extrapolate for intended purpose, it is not ‘science’.
If one cannot do science then one struggles to render the situation into a form which is sufficiently effective as description and/or else fall back upon methods of critical thinking which are not intensely rooted in “description”.
To my casual perusal and mostly inexpert eye ….
… Although the argument for AGW has the appearance of being hard science based on proven, verified, quantitative analysis, it’s strength and honest merit is qualitative.
By qualitative, I mean that a large number of arrows are pointing in the same and commensurate direction towards a ‘warming trend’. Is that the whole story? … a done deal and proven, indisputable scientific fact? No. Far from it, I suspect.
For me what has be demonstrated so far is 1/3 of the story. Ignoring the remaining 2/3rds of the process invites the outcome to widely depart from what is predicted.
The earth has been around for a long time. Over the course of that history, it can almost be taken as given that the climate, atmosphere and other components that go into constituting the entire global climate system has been strongly perturbed. Mechanism(s) act to restore or to shift to some equilibrium. The earth’s history does not seem to indicate a runaway instability, save perhaps for a fondness for ice ages.
It is all very well to demonstrate and assert that the trend is towards increasing temperature and increasing CO2. Nevertheless, by describing and emphasizing only the start of the trend, one ignores the follow on trend and the hysteresis effects.
The description of the hysteresis follow on consequences seems to be missing. The trend only continues in a monotonic manner so long as it is seen to be and/or is predicted to be trending (or persisting) as expected.
Without having a good understanding of the salient hysteresis processes, one doesn’t even have half of the description.
Environmentalists have traditionally been anti-science. They do not inherently trust science’s earnest, stalwart insistence that science understands and the science is correct. It amuses me to see them do an about face and support science because ‘science’ currently appears to support their view point. It amuses me to see environmentalists call skeptics ‘anti science’.
I am a proud ‘anti science’ scientist. I know to mistrust my own opinion. My skepticism is born out of hard earned personal experience at being wrong, wrong, wrong, … wrong.

John F. Hultquist

Another issue that the consensus felt was bs involved the landscape of Eastern Washington State – the Channeled Scablands. When proposed by Bretz as having involved a catastrophic flood, the idea was not received well. Many years later when the source of the water and the mechanism of the flood were explained, then did the concept become accepted. And by then many of the old antagonists had died.
Likewise, continental drift morphed into plate tectonics only after a force and mechanism were explained.
It is up to the AGW crowd to show a force and a mechanism that supports their theory.
Until they do it is right for all the rest to remain skeptical.