Dr. Ravetz Posts, Normally

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Dr. Ravetz, welcome back to the fray with your new post.  My congratulations on your courage and willingness to go “once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more …”

You are putting AGW supporting scientists to shame with your bravery, most of them (with some conspicuous exceptions like Dr. Meier and Dr. Curry) post on some site where people will agree with them and pat them on the back and tell them how right they are. Here, nobody is right, everyone gets attacked (including me), and that is the strength of the site.

Onwards to your issues:

Now, many thanks to Willis for reminding me of the challenge to give an example of uncertain facts and high stakes. Let me try. In early 2001 there was evidence of an incipient epidemic of foot-and-mouth disease in England. It was not at all certain, how infectious it would be, or what sorts of containment measures would suffice. There were conflicting values, although these were not made clear to the public at the time. These reflected the interests of the different stakeholders, including beef exporters, other farmers, non-farm users of the countryside, and politicians.

For each of them the stakes were high. The best-known stake at risk was the status of British beef exports, as certified FMD-free; this was worth some hundreds of millions of pounds in the increased price for such beef on the world market. But there were other stakes at risk, including the pedigree herds of cattle and sheep built up by farmers, and (largest of all, as it was later realised) the possible harm to all the non-farm activities in the countryside. And what was eventually realised to be the overriding stake was the political fortunes of Tony Blair, with an impending General Election which he didn’t want to have in the midst of an epidemic.

Coming back to ‘the facts’, these were to be determined by experts; but there were two opposed groups of experts. One was the government scientists, who generally had a conservative approach to the risks and to the science. The other was a group of academics, who had developed an expertise in epidemiological modelling. They made ‘pessimistic’ assumptions about the infectivity of the disease, and so their recommendations were on the side of a very aggressive approach. This suited Tony Blair’s political agenda, and so there was a severe quarantine and very extensive slaughtering. However one might criticise the government’s actions, the decision was indeed urgent, and there was a situation of high stakes, disputed values and uncertain facts.

My thanks in turn to Dr. Ravetz for providing the example. I now see the difference between his view and mine. What he sees as an unusual situation (facts uncertain, values in dispute) I see as everyday life.

Facts are rarely certain. Life is like that. Science is like that. It is very, very uncommon that we have scientific certainty about any complex real-world question. Despite that, throughout its history science has been of inestimable value in exactly these situations. This is because, rather than being based on something vague like beliefs or myths or “quality”, it is based on hard evidence and falsifiability and replicability. When facts are uncertain, we need more science, not less.

Regarding values, as long as there is more than one person involved (that is to say all of the time) values will likely be in dispute. Again, so what?

Since science has dealt quite well with these problems for centuries, why do we need a new post-normal “science”? How is the example different from any of the other public issues where science plays a part? Yes, as Dr. Ravetz clearly articulates, science often gets lost in the play of power politics … but that is a political issue, not a scientific issue.

Dr. Ravetz continues:

There is another lesson for PNS in the ‘foot and mouth’ episode. It was presented to the public as ‘normal science’: “here’s an epidemic, let’s apply the science and stop it”. The uncertainties and value-conflicts were suppressed. More to the point, the ‘extended peer community’ was nonexistent. Divisions among the scientists were kept under wraps. Damage to the rural communities was revealed piecemeal, and then as incidental to the noble effort of quarantine. Only the investigative journal Private Eye published the gory details of the exterminations.

I would put all of this under the heading of “transparency”. Again, this suppression and hiding is nothing new, nor is it a problem with science itself. Throughout history the people in power have sought to make their decisions in a way that is shielded from the public eye. See my discussion of the CRU Freedom of Information Act (FOI) debacle for a modern example.

I do not, however, see this as requiring any kind of “post-normal” change. It simply requires transparency, transparency, and more transparency. That’s why we have “Sunshine Laws” in the US requiring public meetings of governmental bodies. Thats why we have FOI laws. Not because of any problem with science, but because of a problem with humans and their power games. Sunlight is the best disinfectant for that disease, not a new kind of “science”.

Dr. Ravetz then discusses a couple of issues that had been raised by commenters in his previous posts.

Possible corruptions of PNS. These are inevitable. After all, what prophetic message ever escaped being converted into a battleground between priests and demagogues? But I should be more clear about which corruptions are most likely to emerge in PNS, and then to analyse and warn against them. It will painful, since I will be criticising colleagues who have been well-intentioned and loyal.

Well, despite his warning of inevitability, “democracy” as a prophetic message seems to have done pretty well. “Liberty” hasn’t fared too badly either. “Marxism”, on the other hand, led to the death of millions of people. Post-normal “science”, like the Marxism that Dr. Ravetz followed for much of his life, is rife with possibilities for corruption. This is because it preaches that, rather than following a hard line of evidence and scientific replicability, we should follow a very soft mushy line of something called “quality”. Me, I agree with Robert Heinlein, who said:

“What are the facts? Again and again and again-what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history”–what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!”

Or as Homer Simpson said:

Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that’s even remotely true!

It is only when people don’t like facts proving something that is remotely true that they start clamoring for a judgment based on something like “quality”. Dr. Ravetz goes on to discuss this problem of the vague nature of “quality”, saying:

Quality. On this I find myself reduced to arm-waving, that ‘we all know what Quality is’. But I can say that I am well aware that Quality is not a simple attribute, but is complex, influenced by history and context, recursive (who guards the guardians?), fundamentally a matter of morality (if the people at the top are crooked, the whole edifice of quality-assurance collapses), and of course fallible. This may seem a very insecure foundation for the sort of knowledge that we need, but it’s the best we have. And if one looks for better guarantees of truth even in Pure Science, one will be disappointed.

Although Dr. Ravetz claims that “we all know what Quality is”, count me among the ones who don’t have a clue what it is. Dr. Ravetz seems unable to define it, despite my repeated requests for clarification. I disagree entirely that “quality” is the “best we have” as a foundation for the sort of knowledge we need, as Dr. Ravetz categorically states. I don’t want something undefined (and perhaps undefinable) as the foundation for my knowledge. I prefer to build my edifices on data and evidence and mathematics and facts and replicability and falsifiability and the usual scientific foundations, rather than on “quality”, whatever that might be.

Dr. Ravetz then reveals his aversion to the concept of “truth”:

There is another unsolved problem, Truth. I realise that I have a case of what I might call ‘Dawkins-itis’ in relation to Truth. Just as Prof. Dawkins, however learned and sophisticated on all other issues, comes out in spots at the mere mention of the word ‘God’, I have a similar reaction about ‘Truth’. I must work on this. It might relate to my revulsion at the dogmatic and anti-critical teaching of science that I experienced as a student, where anyone with original ideas or questions was scorned and humiliated. I happily use the terms for other Absolutes, like ‘beauty’, ‘justice’ and ‘holy’; so clearly there is something wrong in my head. Watch this space, if you are interested.

I can see why, if that is his reaction to the word “truth”, he might be averse to science. For me, a scientific truth is merely something which we have not yet falsified. And until it is falsified (as most “truths” may be in time), it is our best guide. For me, scientific truth should be the “foundation for the sort of knowledge we need”, as Dr. Ravetz puts it.

Dr. Ravetz then defends himself against a straw man, viz:

Finally, for this phase of the dialogue, I would like to defend myself against a charge that has been made by various critics. This is, that I personally and intentionally laid the foundations for the corrupted science of the CRU, by providing the justification for Steve Schneider’s perversion of scientific integrity. First, there is no record of the guilty scientists ever mentioning, or even being aware, of PNS during the crucial earlier years. Also, shoddy and corrupted science in other fields did not wait for me to come along to justify it. My influence is traced back to a single footnote by Steven Schneider, citing an essay by me in a large, expensive book, Sustainable Development of the Biosphere (ed. W.C. Clarke and R.E. Munn), (Cambridge, University Press, 1986). PNS first came into the climate picture with the quite recent essay by Mike Hulme in 2007. That was a stage in his own evolution from modeller to critic, and came long after the worst excesses at CRU had been committed. I should say that I do not dismiss conspiracy theories out of hand, since some of them are correct! But this one really does seem far-fetched.

I neither think nor have I said that Dr. Ravetz intentionally laid the foundations for the corrupted science of the CRU. However, what he calls “Steve Schneider’s perversion of scientific integrity” fits perfectly into the framework of post-normal “science”. For those unaware of Schneider’s statement, it was:

To capture the public imagination, we have to offer up some scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements and little mention of any doubts one might have. Each of us has to decide the right balance between being effective, and being honest. This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.

Call me crazy, but I prefer scientists who are scrupulously honest, regardless of whether or not they are effective. I don’t want “scary scenarios”. But post-normal AGW scientists seem to have no problem with Schneider or his claim. For them, “scary scenarios” are their bread and butter.

Next, as ScientistForTruth pointed out in his comment on Dr. Ravetz’s earlier essay, the influence of post-normal “science” on climate science does not trace to “a single footnote by Steven Schneider”, nor did it come into the discussion “long after the worst excesses at CRU had been committed.” To the contrary, Dr. Ravetz himself linked the two back in 1990, and the link was cited by Bray and Von Storch in their 1999 paper, “Climate Science: An Empirical Example of Postnormal Science”. So the idea that it all came to pass after the CRU excesses is nonsense, it was in play a decade before that. ScientistForTruth provides further examples as well, his comment is worth reading.

As to whether post-normal “science” is totally in tune with and accepted by the AGW proponents, consider the list of recommended blogs in the blogroll at Post-Normal Times. Post-Normal Times is the main website espousing post-normal “science”, and Dr. Ravetz is listed as one of the Editors. Here are the blogs that they think represent good, honest science:

Science & Policy Blogs

A few things ill considered

Al’s Journal [Al Gore]

CEJournal

Climate Progress

ClimatePolicy

ClimateScienceWatch

Deltoid

deSmogBlog

Dot Earth

EcoEquity

Effect Measure

Environmental Economics

Hybrid Vigor

James’ Empty Blog

jfleck at inkstain

maribo

Neverending Audit

Only in it for the gold

Rabett Run

RealClimate

Resilience Science

Skeptical Science

Stoat

The Intersection

Other Science & Policy Links

Network for Ecosystem Sustainability and Health (NESH)

NUSAP Net

Real World Economics Review

SciDev Net

Stephen H. Schneider, Climatologist

Union of Concerned Scietists [sic]

We have Steven Scheider’s link, and links to RealClimate, Rabett Run, Skeptical Science, Stoat, deSmogBlog, Deltoid, and the rest of the un-indicted co-conspirators. Many of these blogs ruthlessly censor opposing scientific views, in what I suppose is the best post-normal fashion. We have the blog of the noted climate scientist, Al Gore.

But not one blog which opposes the AGW “consensus” is listed. No Watts Up With That, which was voted the Best Science Blog last year. No ClimateAudit, voted the Best Science Blog the year before that. Not one real science blog, just dissent-suppressing apologists for AGW pseudo-science. Color me unimpressed, that is as one-sided a list as I can imagine. How is that scientific in any sense?

So while Dr. Ravetz may disavow any responsibility for the AGW debacle or the CRU malfeasance, it is quite clear that the concepts of post-normal “science” are central to the anti-scientific philosophy espoused on those AGW blogs, and by the AGW movement in general. Coincidence? You be the judge …

Yes, I agree that Dr. Ravetz did not, as he says, “personally and intentionally [lay] the foundations” for the nonsense that passes for science in the AGW camp, from the CRU on down. But his philosophy has most certainly and quite consciously been used as a guiding star by those who would prefer that we do not look at the man behind the curtain … and that is no coincidence at all. Like Marxism, post-normal “science” is a perfect philosophy for those who would propound their own ideology while hiding behind a pseudo-scientific shield of “Quality”.

Finally, you may have noted that I have called it post-normal “science” throughout this essay. This is for a very good reason.

— It may be post-normal … but it is not science by even the most expansive definition of the word. —

Let me close by saying that despite my (obvious) distaste for Dr. Ravetz’s philosophy, he has my highest admiration for putting his ideas out on this forum. That, to me, is real science. Science progresses by people making claims in a public forum, whether in journals or blogs or other media, and other people trying to falsify the claims. At the end, what is left standing is “truth” … at least until it is falsified at some future date. In this manner (if in no other), Dr. Ravetz is following the scientific method, and has my respect for doing so.

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249 thoughts on “Dr. Ravetz Posts, Normally

  1. This is crazy talk. “Alien invasion” BS. But arguably with the same degree of scientific certainty I see in SciFi movies. Of course those are fiction. And CO2 AGW is also.

  2. Kudos to Dr. Ravetz for presenting his ideas in a forum that he knows will be trying to discredit them or at least severely challenge them.

    Willis,

    Typo alert!

    Here’s the blogs that they think represent good, honest science…”

    Here are the blogs may be what you meant?

  3. Excellent reasoned response Willis. Well done. And that list of blogs provided the icing on the cake.

    I entirely agree with your view. Real science please.

  4. Re the picture: Post Normal Science IS like the Charge of the Light Brigade: ‘good’ intentions, chaotic understanding of the situation, inept leadership distanced from the consequences of their decisions, catastrophic results…

    Truth, however defined, is under-rated in modern academia. Willis Eshenbach, despite his minimalist, Popperian definition, shows a fine appreciation for this ‘quality’. Thanks for the investigative journalism here, Willis: enlightening to see what blogs are linked to Post Normal Times! The desire for democratic input into science on the part of PNS apologists seems to be somewhat one-sided.

  5. From Giordano Bruno, to now. How the mighty have fallen. It’s no longer a question of standing up for principle, but how quickly one can lay down in the name of being politically correct. Science, the heretofore vangard of Western advancement, is now laying wasted in the heap of postmodernism.

  6. Anthony:
    It appears that the picture at the top of this posting (Lady Elizabeth Butler?) represents “The Charge of the Light Brigade” (Tennyson) and not the exhortation of
    Henry V to his companions at “The Battle of Hafleur” (Shakespeare). It is a good picture, though.

  7. he has my highest admiration for putting his ideas out on this forum. That, to me, is real science. Science progresses by people making claims in a public forum, whether in journals or blogs or other media, and other people trying to falsify the claims. At the end, what is left standing is “truth” … at least until it is falsified at some future date.

    Bullfeathers.

  8. I’m getting some cognitive dissonance from the Henry V rhetoric and the Charge of the Light Brigade imagery. . .

  9. “For me, a scientific truth is merely something which we have not yet falsified.”

    Willis, I sincerely hope not! surely not “merely”. A Scientific Truth is a theory or idea supported by the data, and able to accurately predict phenomena.

    It is not any idea that hasn’t been yet falsified – there are many ideas impossible to falsify. Of course, “What is truth” has been a problem for well over 2000 years as well attested by Pontius Pilate.

    I think Dr Ravetz’s Post normal Science is just trying to bend Science to Post Modernism. In Post modernism, there are no absolutes, and “Truth” is simply what Man defines it as. This requires an elite to do the defining, of course. And how dare we disagree.

    Truth is never democratic, or defined by a consensus. It is, dare I say it, what IS true.

  10. Thank you, Willis and Dr. Ravetz, as well as Anthony, the moderators and respondents. We are all richer for the experience of contributing, discussing and exploring.

    Now, if only the climatology community would learn these lessons of open debate without advocacy…I don’t expect that to ever happen.

  11. Judge a man by what he does not by what he says! It may be selective memory or a form of “Post Normal” interpretation of his past writings that he is referring to.
    Thank You Willis!

  12. Mr Ravetz just did a drive by post. I saw no follow up responses.

    The stakes are rather high posting on this site and sharing opinions without supporting data.

  13. Fantastic. Although a 4 to 5 year reader, I have never commented before. I love the fact that both sides are now commenting on Anthony’s WUWT. What a wonderful thing is now happening. Kudos first to Anthony (and his team) and secondly to Dr Eschenbach, Dr Ravtez, Dr Weir and Dr Curry and the entire scientific team ( I know I have not mentioned some important names and for that I apologize) for bringing the discussion to a level not here-to-fore achieved. WUWT is begining to achieve what most others have not, a true discussion of the issues. With a MS in ME in energy transfer, and a leaning towards being a skeptic, I want to know the truth. This site (along with some few others) will help us accomplish that. Kudos to all.

  14. Good stuff Willis, the touchy feely stuff doesn’t do a lot for me either, but I’m no scientist .
    I’ve read Paul Johnson’s “Intellectuals” and I’m sorry but old Karl Marx plus his mate Engels didn’t float my boat either.
    A couple of the recent biographies of Mao and Stalin showed them to be opportunistic psychopaths and murderers just like so many of the totalitarians favoured by the left.
    Hitler was cut from the same cloth as far as I’m concerned as well as most of his murderous followers.

  15. Couldn’t write it better.
    Especially the motto which sadly many scientists have forgot:
    “For me, a scientific truth is merely something which we have not yet falsified.”

  16. Since the dawn of history, decision makers have always made decisions wherein the cause and effects, data gathering and analysis are of doubtful quality but the stakes are high in the context of their operating environment. Today we may take the past decision makers problems as mere trivial and unscientific. We may even dismiss or laugh at how the aincients look at the stars and the heavenly bodies for answers or decision making guidelines to the high stake such as starting to plant or prepare for war. The stakes may look inisignificant today. That those were high stakes in the past. Kingdoms and empires were lost because of bad decision made. It would be too arrogant for us today to reserve judgement to our current state of knowledge and problems faced as the pinnacle of human existence. As the state of science and knowledge increases, we could expect future generations to look at todays problem as trivial and our state of knowledge as primitive bordering on superstition.
    Second, “science” or the “knowledge base for decision making” has always been running and intertwining into two main streams. The first stream is pure science.The other branch is “applied science”, the branch of “science” or “knowledge base” that has to build and provide the tangible infrastructure for the decision maker. Applied scientist knows, the knowledge base is incomplete, corrupted and uncertain, but he has to build the infrastructure for the decision maker may it be a temple, a canal, or weapons, etc. The applied scientist does not strive for the knowledge base to be purified and firmly established. He has to make a decision and as such he applies a factor safety or factor of ignorance to his decision making. However, investigations in applied science tends to focus on improving efficiency, that is reducing the factor of ignorance. Research and development is focused on the factor of ignorance or the unanswered question. Applied science grows because of skepticism. Applied sicence has to produce the tangible object needed by the decision makers. If the infrastructure fails or is less efficient, then it fails and the decision maker and the applied scientist must face the consequences.
    The difference in climate science from normal science are (i) resources for research and development are provided to further advance the decision made by the decision makers. It is similar to old alchemist getting more money to bolster his patron wrong concept. Having made a trillion dollar decision, then the research and development budget should go to the sceptics to reduce the trillion dollar decision. (ii) the decision maker is relying more on applied scientists and hence the need for PNA, rather than just going through the normal decision making process with applied scientists at the forefront. So we end up with research for more modeling rather than infrastructure and (iii) politics has merged with pure science and hence the need to get PNA as a new discipline getting politics and pure science together. It is more like the astrolgers king of the past except that today most of humanity will not just surrender to an eclipse predicted by the astrolger king.

  17. Willis,

    Well stated; but is it post-normal science, or pseudoscience we are dealing with?

    Pseudoscience deploys the scientific method to test deductions framed from an initial idea not based on any empirical observation, but from some agreed on, assumption. The methodology then reduces to proving the deduction, rather than falsifying it, because it is essentially a verification of an idea, not an empirical, physical observation; ideas in themselves can’ t be falsified, but they can be agreed to by peer assent.

    So post-normal science then is what, a synonym for pseudoscience?

    Or is post-normal science a third category?

  18. this is how i see PNS:

    UNITED NATIONS 1992
    UNFCCC: Article 1
    DEFINITIONS*
    For the purposes of this Convention:
    2. “Climate change” means a change of climate which is attributed directly
    or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global
    atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed
    over comparable time periods.
    http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/convkp/conveng.pdf

    2005: Joint science academies’ statement:
    Global response to climate change
    Climate change is real
    Notes and references
    1 This statement concentrates on climate change associated with global
    warming. We use the UNFCCC definition of climate change, which is ‘a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods’.
    http://nationalacademies.org/onpi/06072005.pdf

    Embargoed: Not for release until 12:30 p.m. Pacific Standard Time
    Sunday, 18 February 2007
    AAAS Board Statement on Climate Change
    Approved by the Board of Directors American Association for the Advancement
    of Science
    9 December 2006
    The conclusions in this statement reflect the scientific consensus
    represented by, for example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
    (www.ipcc.ch/), and the Joint National Academies’ statement
    (http://nationalacademies.org/onpi/06072005.pdf).
    http://www.aaas.org/news/press_room/climate_change/mtg_200702/aaas_climate_statement.pdf

    encarta: climate change: change in global weather patterns: long-term alteration in global weather patterns, especially increases in temperature and storm activity, regarded as a potential consequence of the greenhouse effect.

  19. I do have an idea of what quality is.
    Nature itself does a 80-20 thing (and variation on the ratio).
    80% of gold will drop out in the first sluice, after which a new drop will take 80% of the 20% that missed being caught in the 1st drop.
    80% of the bugs in software occur in 20% of the code. Problem areas.
    If you wish to use a cable to repeatedly lift 25 tons, you get a 5-1 ratio cable to weight lifted. You need a 125 ton rated cable.
    Until climate science can break down the problem into it’s core parts and build a model that fits these drivers, no amount of tinkering with the 20% outliers problems is going to fix the 80% problems.
    That is what is wrong with the GCM’s. They run on the outlier (form behavior) but totally miss the big picture, and fail when run into the future.
    It’s easily picked at because reality unmasks the underlying defects, and it is currently snowballing. The cosmetic application of data monkeying and pal reviewing did nothing but delay the inevitable.
    The testing began when people like McIntyre and Smith began digging into the data. They took AGW and dropped it. It cracked.
    Anthony, you participated in the quality testing with your surfacestation project. You dropped it and it broke even more.
    HARRY_READ_ME did a white box test on some of the code. It broke in his hands too. When the Climate Gate emails & data got out, more testing was enabled, blackbox and whitebox.
    It shattered like glass.
    Quality: comes from testing.

  20. Ravetz’ post-normal science is based on Kuhn’s idea of normal science, which is rather different from how many people, and scientists, think of it. There seems to be a disagreement about whether Kuhn is applicable to AGW theory, and more specifically, whether some of the problematic aspects of it are “normal” rather than abnormal. Put in perspective, when climate scientists cling to their theories when faced with evidence that might be seen as falsifying them (such as global temperatures not rising), is that an aberration motivated by politics and corruption, or is it similar to what happened just before Einstein, when Newtonian mechanics was having serious trouble explaining some observations and physicists tried their best to reconcile the new observations with the old theory? Kuhnian “normal science” solving puzzles when hindsight would indicate it might have been better off questioning the theory itself.

    I think it’s a little of both. The scientists who are steeped in AGW theory think of it as being well-established. To them, the idea that the theory, or parts of it, may have been falsified, are “extraordinary claims” that require “extraordinary evidence”. Objectively, you might say the analogy between Newtonian physics and AGW is flawed for any number of reasons, but subjectively from the scientists’ point of view, I think they’re similar.

  21. A large drum of infected blood was found which was being used to spread disease to British cattle. As soon as this piece of news broke, which included photos and video of the discovery, it was quickly covered up. This was European sabotage of the British meat industry. It wasn’t the first time either, or the only method. The EU subsidises Spanish fishermen to the tune of millions of Euros, none of which comes from Spain, who are the most guilty of overfishing in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. Those same Spaniards trawl British waters and we are powerless to stop them because the EU says it is fine despite being illegal by British law.

    They’re just trying to bankrupt Britain the same way they did to Greece and are going to be doing to other nations. Watch out for Ireland. They’re going to bust a big hole in that proud country.

  22. CRS, Dr.P.H. (21:59:10) :

    If the climate modelers don’t open up to testing without advocacy (as in ok, folks, what’s wrong with this thing?) then they will be forced to stare at their own errors which they cannot see until hell freezes over. Climate Models are software, and as such, they are not immune to the pitfalls the programmer faces in any other software project.

  23. Very well said, Sir Willis!

    What I found most disturbing about Dr. Ravetz’s latest post was his blatant “revisionizing” of his own history; but then this seems to be a feature of post-modernist (and its off-spring, “post-normal”) discourse.

    I remember seeing that blogroll at Post-Normal Times when he made his debut here, and thinking to myself that – at the very least – he could have made certain that there were a few “token” skeptics on the list. And if not then, certainly by now!

    vigilantfish (21:49:36) :

    Post Normal Science IS like the Charge of the Light Brigade

    Considering the PNS legacy of wind turbines etc., I’d be more inclined to think we are dealing with the Charge of the Blight Brigade!

  24. Dr. Ravetz said,

    “There is another unsolved problem, Truth. I realise that I have a case of what I might call ‘Dawkins-itis’ in relation to Truth. Just as Prof. Dawkins, however learned and sophisticated on all other issues, comes out in spots at the mere mention of the word ‘God’, I have a similar reaction about ‘Truth’. I must work on this. It might relate to my revulsion at the dogmatic and anti-critical teaching of science that I experienced as a student, where anyone with original ideas or questions was scorned and humiliated. I happily use the terms for other Absolutes, like ‘beauty’, ‘justice’ and ‘holy’; so clearly there is something wrong in my head.”

    so I want to point out a problem with the way we use the words “truth” and “true”. When we say that someone speaks “truly”, or that what he says is “true” we recognize that the word refers to the quality of representation or meaning of the words spoken in relation to the objective facts of the matter. We easily accept that there are degrees of accuracy when one speaks “truly”. But when we say that someone has spoken the “truth” we often fall into a mental trap which amounts to confusing the map with the territory, regarding a statement as “untrue” if we perceive even the slightest discrepancy between the speaker’s meaning as we understand it and our perception of the facts. From which, eventually, I suggest, stems the whole of that post-modernism which gives us people for whom the proposition that “there are opinions about the way things are” implies the proposition that “the way things are is a matter of opinion”. There is a subtle distinction here between being and knowing, or epistemology and ontology. Science properly done can enable you to know more or less “truly” but nothing can enable you to know the “Truth” if by the “Truth” you mean the state of affairs in and of itself (Kant’s “noumenon”). The words “true” and “truth” should never be used without consciously adverting to the adjectival form “truly” in which lies its “true” meaning.

  25. Lance H. (21:34:10)

    Typo alert!

    “Here’s the blogs that they think represent good, honest science…”

    Here are the blogs may be what you meant?

    Thanks, fixed.

  26. Oh, Willis, doncha know? Quality and Beauty are all there is to know, and all ye need to know.
    ==================

  27. Richard Sharpe (21:44:05)

    I think that’s “Once more unto the breach …”

    Quite right, thanks, fixed.

  28. This is the first time I’ve seriously looked into post-normal science in detail and, I gotta say, the whole concept has got to be the most scary and dangerous thing I can think of. The accumulation and refinement of scientific truth is the only marker of human progress. Putting the latest moral or cultural fashions on par with real science is insanity.

  29. As an engineer working sensor systems, I never had
    the luxury of time for PNS (Pipe-N-Snifter). There
    were usually lives at stake, just as there are now in
    the third world. Another good one Willis.

  30. Bob (21:50:34) :
    Anthony:
    It appears that the picture at the top of this posting (Lady Elizabeth Butler?) represents “The Charge of the Light Brigade” (Tennyson) and not the exhortation of
    Henry V to his companions at “The Battle of Hafleur” (Shakespeare). It is a good picture, though.

    Nup. It’s “Scotland Forever” — the charge of the Scots Greys at Waterloo. But Lady Butler was indeed the artist.

  31. I’m open to the idea that post-normal science is particularly open to corruption. But I’m not convinced. Any noble principle may be abused, as Orwell showed us.

    ‘…“democracy” as a prophetic message seems to have done pretty well..’ Perhaps, but the communist states of Eastern Europe used to call themselves “The Democratic People’s Republic of…”, so it’s clearly capable of being perverted.

    To generalize, it seems to me that the most politically dangerous ideas about science are the ones make it seem simple and easy to decide scientific issues. Along the lines of “just apply the scientific method”. This kind of thing will deter people from critical thinking. It will induce them to uncritically accept what “the scientists” say, since obviously scientists use scientific method. Those in power will tend to win the superficial argument; propaganda will reign. This also applies to the concept of “junk science”, which Willis Eschenbach himself has used.

  32. Looks to me like Dr Ravetz’s philosophy is Augustinian. That is, why St Augustine thought it was wise to pray to God.

    If you pray to God and he exists, then you win. If you pray to God and he doesn’t exist, then you’ve lost nothing. If you don’t pray to God and he does not exist, then you’ve neither gained nor lost. If you don’t pray and God does exist, you’re damned. The only way to win is to pray to the God of your choice and hope that he does exist.

    Therefore, we must all pray to Gaia.

  33. He mentions foot-and-mouth and if you ask anyone in the ‘know’ the slaughter of all the cattle was well over the top, then we had swine flu that had the entire world stock 100 millions of pounds of vacine (Funny how the WHO also has ties to the Pharmaceutical industry), now we have AGW (Again cardon trading should help the believers, believe more).

    I’m sorry one more wolf and i’m removing scientists from my friends list.

  34. Willis: “Since science has dealt quite well with these problems for centuries, why do we need a new post-normal “science”?”

    That question has no inner logic. We need new frameworks today, because risks that come from futuristic technologies and man’s potential impact on the planet warrant the new frameworks. You failed to answer to this objection in the previous thread. There were no such risks involved with 18th century technology. So to equate the two is merely rhetoric.

    Willis: “[Ravetz’s] philosophy has most certainly and quite consciously been used as a guiding star by those who would prefer that we do not look at the man behind the curtain”

    Seriously, what evidence have you got for this? How does Bray and Von Storch’s paper prove that “the team” would have been well read in Ravetz’s philosophy, nevermind would of used it as a “guiding star”? Such a jump in logic from couple of references amounts to a baseless assumption, nothing else. An assumption which I’m quite certain is false.

    Dynamics of group think, career protection, thirst for recognition and status, and psychological defense mechanisms involved have resulted in corruption of research standards and politicization of the results. This has happened in science before and will happen again. Mainstream psychology was hijacked by pseudoscientists, freudian psychoanalysts and Watson/Pavlov/Skinner behaviorists for half a century. There are precedents that show very similar patterns to CAGW. No imagined finger pointing is required.

  35. Just to be awfully pedantic. ‘Once more unto the breach’ is from Shakespeare’s Henry V; the picture appears to be the Charge of the Light Brigade. Or possibly a scene from Waterloo.

  36. Nicely said.

    When sociologists theorise about the nature of science the results are seldom anything that a scientist would recognise. The problem is that scientists study objective reality whereas sociologists aer coming from the position that objective reality does not exist. To them reality is always subjective. They therefore persist in trying to view science as only one of many alternative and equivalent `ways of knowing’. This drives me nuts.

    The sharpest illustration of the difference that I have heard was in the context of a radio discussion about the effects of PMS in the context of a court case involving a claim of reduced responsibility due to PMS. The radio station interviewed two people – a specialist on brain function who had done extensive research on the effect of hormones on brain function, and a feminist sociology lecturer.

    The sociologist’s argument was that hormones COULD NOT effect brain function in this way because women with PMS might then be disqualified from positions of high responsibility (e.g. finger on the nuclear button type positions) and that outcome would be politically unacceptable.

    The brain researcher on the other hand was talking about chemical pathways and receptors and the results of experiments like any good scientist should.
    The two women just talked totally past each other.

    The sociologist seemed completely unable to accept that the effect of hormones on women’s brains was an objective matter. The scientist was completely unable to accept that the way chemicals work in the brain was determined by politics. No communication was possible between these two completely incomptible philosophies.

    Dr Ravetz is not quite so disconnected from reality as that but is heading in this direction with his ideas of mixing politics with science to create some kind of hybrid. I tend to think trying to blend the two is about as useful as trying to cross a dog with a cat.

  37. Higilantfish
    The picture above is of the Scots Greys Charge at Waterloo. Not the ‘Charge of the light brigade’. Picky, I know, but you talk of truth and quality, investigative journalism, enlightenment etc. All fine values, not achieved by hasty comparisons.

  38. In his personal narrative of coming to PNS, Ravetz presents a simple picture of normal science as about absolute truths taught as dogma – as a school textbook taught as dogma. To this he opposes the uncertainty of PNS.

    This is not Kuln’s idea of ‘normal’ science and we should be careful therefore not to fall back to a defence of normal science in this image. Willis does this admirably (although not exactly in the terms I would use) in his discussion of ‘uncertainty’ and ‘truth.’ We can meet post-mod social theory half way and say that what we call reasonable scientific controversy over facts is what they call a battle of competing narratives. Where we hold firm against absolute relativism would be that that these narratives refer to our agreement on our shared experience (of nature), and they are orientated and so and grounded such.

    For more on the affinity of PNS with the Academic Marxism of the social sciences see Revolutionary Science: Post-Normal Climate Science and neo-Marxism.

  39. Obviously not a lot of military history buffs here!

    The painting is of the charge of the Royal Scots Grey’s at the battle of Waterloo.

    Nothing to do with Henry V or the charge of the light brigade in the Crimean war!

  40. There is no absolute truth, therefore human’s cause global warming.

    But since this is not true, then human’s do not cause global warming, but since this is false …

    From: “How to make an android’s head explode”
    by Mr. Spock

  41. Thanks to Anthony, Willis, Jerry (for his journey into this “normal” zone), et al I am now aware of yet another diabolical evolution of the never ending elitist/dictatorial effort to dominate populations out of arrogance. Nothing new here from the ancient effort except, essentially, for terminology.

    Tonight I had to look into all this PNT baloney and went through a number of realizations. Willis, you’ve done another outstanding service enjoining Ravetz for the readers here. I explored a bit at the “post-normal times.org” site and was quite alarmed at that group, their associates and philosophy.

    The PNT crowd, as they distance themselves from the simple action/reaction reality for the intellectual rationalization of selective insights wish to subject all to an increased unstable existence rather than one anchored through scientific fact as best we can certify. I suggest everyone read the “Another Welcome to Post-Normal Times” post at http://postnormaltimes.net/wpblog/. Incredible. A leader of this group appears to be the UN Secretary General Moon. There is no doubt that many of the world’s “elite” are adherents to the PNT/S, etc philosophies.

    It IS worse than I thought, however, thanks to Willis/WUWT I now know who the enemy are and a bit about more their heads. “God” helps those who help themselves and we must always be diligent and continue to maintain the raw integrity of factual, open, contested science as best we can – opposing the temptations of the selective “science” of PNT/S. Most enlightening – thanks!

    have become

  42. It IS worse than I thought, however, thanks to Willis/WUWT I now know who the enemy are and a bit about more their heads. should read:

    It IS worse than I thought. However, thanks to Willis/WUWT I now know who the enemy are and a bit more about their heads.

  43. Willis, perhaps a better illustration would be and old man with a lance, riding a mule, charging a line of windmills in the distance. Climate science sits, smug and self-satisfied, immune to the most devastating facts. It’s getting colder somewhere, I read in my paper today, because of global warming. Not a blink from the editor, not the least trace of shame from the reporter.

    Keep breaking those lances. Eventually something will give.

    JF
    Oh, yes, Dr Ravetz’s post-normal science. Tosh. Science exists to remove opinion, not valorise it. But my respect, Dr, for having the guts to defend it. Science, post-normal or not, needs people who are prepared to defend their corner in public.

  44. I believe it is Charge of the Scottish Greys, rendered somewhat dubious because of a peculiar colour wash and its cropping.

  45. PN”S” is the apologia of all manner of fiction foisted on the public in order to extract money and power from that selfsame ignorant public…

  46. Buddenbrook (00:33:25) :

    I agree with you. Scientists wanting to hold on to a theory don’t need PNS to rationalize their actions. If PNS had been used *in public* to defend AGW theory, that would have been another matter. It hasn’t. Instead, what’s being used to defend it is the claim that it’s just good science, that the scientific method has been correctly applied and that anyone who objects suffers from “anti-science syndrome” (Joe Romm’s favorite phrase) or is otherwise evil, stupid and/or funded by big oil.

  47. Dr Ravetz : “we all know what Quality is

    I agree. We all know that quality is what comes from open and continued testing of hypotheses, doing everything possible to disprove them using real data and real observations.

  48. OK I will try and post it again.

    “Post Normal Science”?

    How about post AGW Fraud?

    How about CO2 debunked as a “greenhouse gas” backed up by easily reproducible experiments and verified by real data that has been established and excepted science for over half a century?

    Click my name for more!

  49. One important point Dr Ravetz did not mention, the UK had been through a serious Foot & Mouth before in the 1960s – wthin living memory – and there had followed a commission of enquiry which made recommendations and contingency plans were drawn up so that a future epidemic could be dealt with based on the experience previously gained.

    The UK Government and scientific establishment entirely ignored the commissions report and recommendations and so re-set the learning curve. Those who called for the commission’s proposal to be implemented were shouted down.

    Eventually the Government did resort to what had previously been proposed which did much to bring, what by then had become a very sorry and serious affair, to its grisly conclusion.

    As with Foot & Mouth, we already have plenty of recorded experience of weather and climate, warming and cooling, freezing and thawing and the fortunes of Mankind in the face of changing climate and other natural events.

    Of course there are no jobs or money in not setting out to rediscover what we already know – and talking up the dangers of imagined calamities that “science” can help us avoid, keeps the gravy train rolling and the gravy flowing for the politicos and “scientists” alike. It also fuels the eco-grief industry with hard cash and a reason to exist.

    I would not call this Post-Normal science as it is the normal science of the Dark Ages: it must be Retro-science then.

    We may therefore soon look forward to some good old fashioned witch burning.

  50. Willis,

    Why don’t you write a book. You are a great writer on this issue and I suspect your life story is fascinating too. If I recall you have been a Coral Island dweller, a fisherman, a logger and a scientist.

    I’ll buy it.

    40

  51. Ummmm. I don’t want to sound like some sort of purist here. BUT

    The quote about “Once more unto the breach, dear friends” is from King Henry V, who was King of England. The soldiers you show in the picture are from the famous cavalry regiment the Scots Greys who were Scottish. Sorry to be picky, but the two were from different countries (albeit that we and the Scots now share a common monarch)

    ;o)

  52. Buddenbrook (00:33:25)

    Willis: “Since science has dealt quite well with these problems for centuries, why do we need a new post-normal “science”?”

    That question has no inner logic. We need new frameworks today, because risks that come from futuristic technologies and man’s potential impact on the planet warrant the new frameworks. You failed to answer to this objection in the previous thread. There were no such risks involved with 18th century technology. So to equate the two is merely rhetoric.

    Perhaps so, perhaps no. But please don’t try to revise the past. I answered this in the previous thread. You just didn’t like my answer, but that’s no reason to try to make folks believe that I didn’t answer you. So I’ll go over it again.

    We have had new technologies for centuries, each of which provided new and much more powerful ways to destroy each other. Each one was seen as a grave danger to the established order.

    However, science has not been what controlled and blunted the impact of the new technologies. New technologies have been controlled by new laws, not by some new kind of science. When guns were introduced, there arose new laws about who could use them. When guns made it to Japan, they were banned entirely. When we came up with nuclear weapons, we came up with nuclear non-proliferation treaties. When poison gases started to be used in warfare, we came up with the Geneva Conventions.

    But in no case that I know of have new technologies had their impacts restrained by some new understanding or new kind of science … in every case, it has been laws that were used to control the new technologies, not science. Perhaps you have an example of a new kind of science being used to control some new technology. I don’t.

    You say we need “new frameworks” to control the new technologies. I’m afraid I don’t understand what that means … what is a “new framework” when it is at home?

  53. Ravitz said: “I am well aware that Quality is not a simple attribute, but is complex, influenced by history and context, recursive (who guards the guardians?), fundamentally a matter of morality”

    No, quality is not a matter of morality, nor does morality imply quality. Quality is hard and solid and not ‘influenced by history’.

  54. I would add that Jerry Ravetz was not only responsible for pushing PNS, but was also active in policy formation right up to the European Commission. For example, Sylvie Faucheux ran meetings in Brussels in January 1997: ‘Mobilising European Knowledge and Motivation for Action on Climate Change’, which produced the paper, with Ravetz as co-author, ‘Procedural leadership in climate policy: a European task’, published in ‘Global Environmental Change’, Vol.7, No. 3, 1997. This paper sets out the ways of pushing the eco-agenda, with prescriptions of what climate policy in Europe ‘should’ be.

    Interestingly, in Ravetz’s essay ‘The Post-Normal Science of Precaution’ (2002) he states “global climate change does not have a simple ‘cause’ that can be identified and eliminated. Hence the old belief in scientific certainty is lost; in place of objective facts, we have an open clash of interests and world-views.”
    Since natural changes to climate have been with us for millennia, and controlling those hasn’t been the interest of those espousing interventions, we arrive at the conclusion that anthropogenic causes cannot even be identified, never mind eliminated. So the AGW agenda really boils down to vested interests and worldview – politics and religion.

    Mike Hulme in his paper ‘Does climate adaptation policy need probabilities?’ (2004) stated: “determining the probability of climate change cannot be resolved within what Funtowicz and Ravetz (1993) call ‘normal’ science (i.e. routine puzzle-solving by experts, whose knowledge serves as a base for policy decisions)”.

    So, Ravetz can give policy advice, possibly veering on advocacy, regarding anthropogenic climate change, but its probability of occurrence cannot be determined scientifically, nor can it be established as a cause and eliminated. We see how lumping climate change in with diseases among populations of discrete entities (as a classic case requiring PNS) is quite absurd.

    There are some interesting observations in the paper by Risbey ‘Some dangers of ‘dangerous’ climate change’, Climate Policy 6 (2006). Risbey collaborated with Ravetz on this paper.

    “Whether we choose to focus on CO2 concentration, temperature change, sea level rise, or species extinctions, we face the same problem. Where do we set the threshold…Any threshold that we might choose must be arbitrary…As noted by Jerry Ravetz (personal communication), the problem of thresholds is an old problem…The UNFCCC has set the objective of preventing ‘dangerous’ climate change. That is a chimera because it is a virtually meaningless concept…The task of setting this or that threshold to avoid danger is a part of that fiction. Policies based on fictions can succeed only if the major parties are willing to go along with the fiction – as for example in the case of acid rain negotiations for Europe, in which the parties were willing to employ a model that produced some patently non-physical results (Gough et al., 1998; Castells and Ravetz, 2001). At the present time, however, some key parties to the UNFCCC are not willing to maintain the fiction. In that event, the fictional nature of the ‘dangerous climate change’ premise can undermine attempts to forge effective policies…The belief in the existence of a solution to the problem of defining dangerous climate change follows a common pattern in assuming the existence of appropriate knowledge (somewhere) to solve any given problem (Ravetz, 2003). Ravetz calls this the ‘fallacy of the existence of a solution’. He notes that this fallacy serves to conceal our policy-critical ignorance….What are the alternatives to maintaining the fiction of averting danger?..the issues that need to be addressed…include many of those that early climate contrarians claimed lay behind calls for action on climate change. Contrarians claimed that climate change was a front for ‘green’ dreams of transforming the energy economy, production and consumption, modes of transport, work and leisure (Lindzen, 1990). The climate community has generally not been willing to engage the contrarians on these issues. By failing to engage these issues, climate change policy must then fall out of the science alone. This has led inexorably to the generation of a concept of ‘safe’ and ‘dangerous’ climate change, and to the attempt to define that concept in terms of the science and impacts. The contrarians were right to the extent that climate change is inextricably linked with the issues they identified.”

    In other words, the ‘climate community’ has sought to promote the impression to the public of doing ‘hard’ science to avoid having to address the objections that, for example, the aims of neo-Marxism were being served. But it has proved impossible to link climate change to anthropogenic causes, and so influence policy, without inventing convenient fictions including scary impacts and a new science for the 21st century: Post-Normal Science.

    Ravetz has been responsible for the philosophical underpinnings to this, the development of PNS and, as I’ve shown, contributing to climate policy advice in the EU.

  55. Buddenbrook (00:33:25)

    Willis: “[Ravetz’s] philosophy has most certainly and quite consciously been used as a guiding star by those who would prefer that we do not look at the man behind the curtain”

    Seriously, what evidence have you got for this? How does Bray and Von Storch’s paper prove that “the team” would have been well read in Ravetz’s philosophy, nevermind would of used it as a “guiding star”?

    Stephen Schneider, one of the most influential members of “the team”, was most certainly well read in PNS. His comment, which I quoted above, is definitely a PNS battle cry. The Post-Normal Times recommends only AGW sites. Bray and Von Storch talk at length about the involvement of PNS in the climate science field. Ravetz has written about climate and post-normal science. Saloranta discusses the influence of PNS on the IPCC, starting with the Second Assessment Report. Schneider’s “Instructions to Reviewers” for the Third Assessment Report specifically call for them to follow Ravetz’s lead in substituting “quality” for objectivity, viz:

    “It is certainly true that “science” itself strives for objective empirical information to test theory and models. But at the same time “science for policy” must be recognized as a different enterprise than “science” itself, since science for policy (e.g., Ravetz, 1986) involves being responsive to policymakers’ needs for expert judgment at a particular time, given the information currently available, even if those judgments involve a considerable degree of subjectivity …”

    So yes, they were instructed to use Ravetz as their “guiding star” … and they did.

    Was everyone “well read in Ravetz’ philosophy”? No, of course not. Was what they were saying consonant with his philosophy? Yes.

    For example, how many times have we been told that the stakes are incredibly high, and that the decision must be made right now? Does that sound like Ravetz’ mantra of “stakes high and decisions urgent”? You may find that coincidental. I don’t.

  56. “recursive (who guards the guardians?), fundamentally a matter of morality”

    Not the best choice of words -morality-.
    Trade ‘testing cycle’ for recursive, and policy for morality, and we are back to “The quality goes in before the name goes on” – Zenith.
    You could then look upon quality a measurement or a scale of effort.
    At the top end, everyone involved has put forth the very best effort they can, and the product/theory shows it.
    At the bottom end, the testing was weak to short-circuited (never happened).
    Whether in the production world or the scientific world, pressure can ruin and corrupt the test-cycle/peer-review process.

  57. The idea that a scientific truth is only something we haven’t falsified yet reminds me of what I was told early in my undergraduate years (can’t recall who said it first):

    Progress in science consists not of replacing a theory that’s wrong with one that’s right, it consists of replacing a theory that’s wrong with one that’s more subtly wrong.

  58. Willis,

    Let’s go through this ground once more. I will attempt to picture a basic future scenario to show why an additional framework will eventually be needed, and what such a change in framework concretely means. Further I will try to define the link with climate change and to show why your criticism misses its target.

    In year 2033 (2043, 2063… the speed of progress is uncertain but a number of these scenarios are pretty much an inevitability) a group of scientists and science advocates declare that further advancement in technological field Y could pose potentially grave risks to mankind some years down the line when possibilities, they argue, could open up for the development of weapons (or even the occurrance of research accidents) of unimagined terror and consequence. Nothing like we have seen so far, dwarfing the H-bomb. As a result they demand that research to be immediately halted until the risks can be better qualified and quantified. They further demand that all future research should be 100% supervised by governments 24/7 and access to the technology strictly restricted. Some politicians might jump the gun and threaten “rogue regimes” that they will have to open up their societies and scrap their research programs or… This is the type of future that Dr. Bostrom anticipates.
    Now you do understand that on top of the other consequences, thousands of billions would have been invested in these fields, several interests would thus clash and the demanded bans and restrictions to commercial research would be very damaging to the national and global economies.
    Yet the existential risks would not be 100% certain, there would be scientists saying that the risks are being exaggerated, there would be NGO’s screaming that such scientists have been bought, that they are irresponsible etc. Global treaties would be demanded. Bans and surveillance. Scientific opinion would have to navigate in a new territory far away from the familiar popperian shores, under uncertainty, under huge political pressures and incomparable moral responsibilities pressing on the scientists. This new territory would be something akin to PNS, which of course should be further developed philosophically from the sketch that Ravetz has theorized. But he has got the right basic idea, and something like this will eventually be gravely needed.

    If climate change genuinely and with a high probability posed a catastrophic risk of Al Gorean proportions then the framework would be needed in climate change too. So, if someone believes that the risk is genuine, to propose a PNS framework is understandable and not a marxist plot. It is a framework inside which scientists communicate risks and uncertainty, inside which scientists handle the mixing of science and politics that cannot be avoided. But it needs a basis in basic scientific (newtonian, popperian if you wish) research, that has firmly established the probability of the risks, and this is where climate science goes wrong. The risks have not been adequately, substantially established.

    How I see it is that Ravetz also should take a step back here, and take another look at the pure scientific basis of the declared catastrophic nature of climate change. When that C is erased, PNS will cease applying to climate change. The risks won’t be high, and decisions won’t be urgent.
    But what for “PNS”? For PNS other risks remain in the horizon, in which a framework of this type will absolutely be needed as argued above. It is thus a valuable philosophical concept, and Dr. Ravetz deserves praise for it, not derision.

    So, bottom line: Directing your criticism at “PNS” misses the target. The criticism should be directed at the quality of the basic research in climate science.

  59. Willis, in Dr Revetz previous post https://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/04/12/dr-jerry-ravetz-on-willis-epidemics-rough-tumble-debate-and-post-normal-science/ Steve Mosher had this to say. I know the posts get long and you may have missed this. I wanted to share this with you as your response to his critique of your comments is of certainity more cogent then mine.

    steven mosher (13:10:11) :

    Steve, thank you for putting a summary of what you feel is the view of Willis…”His call to action is really a call on scientists to just do normal science. It’s a fine sermon, but the calls to “just do the science” brought us Climategate. When we call on Mann to do science right, for example, everyone should note his response “do your own science.” So, while I agree that one should encourage scientists to just do normal science, I think its a poor strategy if your interests are at stake”

    This was my response at 3:44
    “Normal science” includes openess in methods and medadata. I have never seen anything Willis advocate that would not enforce this as “necessary”, so I do not see how what Willis advocated “brought us climategate”. Corruption is an inherent part of all human nature to various degrees, and can and does manifest in every “group”.

    Please remember the the good Dr’s lammenting of climate science, was that political decisions made by groups which came together at Copenhagen were a travesty because they failed. I really suggest a re-reading of his first WATTSUP post.

    Secondly the very name “Post Normal Science” is a horrible name, insulting to a true practice of science, which has brought vast benefits to billions. Science as applied to society has a long history. As science advances in power, it effects impact more people. If AGW was truly catestrophic, then the vast majority of conflicts of intrest would be disolved, as who wants to destroy the world? However many have wanted to, like Blackbeard, “rule the world”. We need a resuurection of classic science, where full openess is “ENFORCED”, before it goes to policy makers.

    Of course there should be international diplomacy in policy in regard to how scientific applications within society affect other nations. But by fusing the “science” into the political process, instead of isolating and protecting it from the political process, one runs a high risk, nay a certainty of corrupting it. This is just as true of the corrupting influence of Rome on Christianity, when the two were fused and it became the official religion.

    Steve, I hope you can give concrete examples of how you think the good Doctor’s post normal science would have prevented AGW becoming the lighning rod to worldwide political change.

    When I and others state we fail to understand PNS, it is really (in my case) a regret that he does not give clear concrete steps of how he thinks it should operate. Much philosophy, but little transition from the the general to the particular. So perhaps you could provide some clarity here. Thank you for all your work in this field.

  60. How much concern would any of us have to correct global-warming science if it had no policy community riding on it? No global bureaucracy planning carbon taxes, no unelected UN-sponsored World Bank Account for dispensing all the JfBs (Jobs for the Boys) to build turbines, barrages and biofuel plantations, no ex-politicians founding carbon banks and brokerages and massaging the global media to create an army of zealous youngsters to berate governments to toe the new global party line (except you can’t vote for anything – and its scary they haven’t noticed)……

    I for one, would not have bothered. Time would sort out the science. The theories predict warming – if the warming doesn’t happen, the theories will get revised. And even the need to save face would not for ever doctor the data and get away with it.

    No – the real reason is that we are not dealing with science alone. We are dealing with a monolithic political structure – an ideology that uses science – and abuses science when it doesn’t provide the right answer (by using unrefereed sources (IPCC), by losing data and codes so they cannot be verified (CRU), by bending deadlines for helpful papers (IPCC), by presenting alternative theories as ‘controversial’ and not re-presenting them (IPCC), by favouring unrepresentative analyses (IPCC-Mann), by shutting out dissenting voices (Statement on Climate Change by the World’s Science Academies), by subversion of FOI and Peer Review (CRU) and be deliberately doctoring data (hide-the-decline, remove-the-blip, Mike’s Trick – CRU/NCAR/IPCC).

    This is not new. I fought this kind of thing for over 25 years with regard to the science of nuclear risks, toxic waste disposal, chemical plant, acid rain…..and one thing the consortiums of government/industry had going for them was the obfuscation made possible by apparently sophisticated computer models. It took a huge amount of time and resources to penetrate those models and bring their shenanigans to light. And I published all of that work in the peer-reviewed literature – which at least says something for the commitment to truth on the part of many scientists – mostly, the academics in charge of the journals who could appreciate good analysis and that quest for truth.

    That ‘truth’ is a delicate thing. It is not like it was in Newton’s realm, and also not Einstein. We are not dealing with such truths. We are faced with a very complex environment and the fact that we are taking huge risks with our own life support systems – all ecologists feel this to be true, even though they cannot ‘prove’ it. That will only come after the fact – and way too late.

    There are myriads of facts – some more reliably established than others. There are some theories of what drives climate. The main issue is between natural ‘cycles’ whose mechanism we do not yet understand and human influences via greenhouse gases – and there is only one form of ‘evidence’ that the latter is stronger and that is the computer models that appear to show there would have been no warming between 1950-2000 if nature had been working alone.

    I doubt that many, if any, specialists in past climate cycles would accept the verdict of those models – none of which can adequately incorporate cycles precisely because the mechanisms are not known and quantifiable. But these scientists are bypassed or bullied into silence because the model that ‘identifies the human footprint’ has been picked up by an ideology of concern.

    That ideology has a dangerous almost militaristic element embedded within it – you can hear it in talk of the ‘carbon army’ and the ‘war on climate’. A global army has been mobilised to fight the terror of climate – and with it a global propaganda machine and a growing apparatus for the suppression of dissent. Dangerous as it looks, I think it will fall apart – is already falling apart.

    Unlike the seeming majority of my fellow critics (I don’t like the word ‘sceptic’ since it plays to the dominant ideology’s tactic of branding with quasi-religious overtones), I feel sad at what has happened to the ‘green’ movement. My former friends and allies in previous battles (such as banning the disposal of nuclear waste in the ocean or drenching Scandinavian forests in British acid), have bought the ‘scary climate story’ hook-line-and-sinker. My efforts to quietly warn them were spurned. There is now a danger that as the carbon ship begins to sink, it will drag the green movement down with it. Some on this blogsite will say ‘good riddance’. And I understand that. The behaviour of the greens – from WWF, Greenpeace, FOE and even the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has been self-serving, incredibly naive and at times down-right scary in their leanings and methods. Something could be lost that I would argue most strongly, we need – the power of the campaigners, the investigators, the ability to raise public awareness, to challenge in the courts, to lobby and to take direct action. Yes, it has been horrible to see all of that power gone so badly astray – but if an anti-AGW, anti-Green, business-as-usual backlash eventually gains power, something important would be lost.

    This is at the crux of the green-AGW ideology……….the real threats to our future are well enough known: out-of-control population growth in countries unable to feed themselves (sub-Saharan Africa); compromised water supplies; forest and biodiversity loss; over-fished seas; overcrowded insanitary cities; and 2 billion people in poverty and very vulnerable to climate change (natural cycles or otherwise). So – how to create action? That is the Schneider Attack – simplify the message and scare people. It is a mistake of course, but an understandable one.

    I have to add to that things I do find hard to understand and cannto excuse- the arrogance, the ad-hominem attacks, the naive alliance with government and institutions that were historically always part of the problem – and the shades of the jack-boot in some of the younger zealots.

    So – where is all this in a post-normal world? Like Willis – it looks all very normal to me – ‘same old’. Perhaps what is missing is a sociological analysis of the sociologists at Oxford. Where were they in all this? Belatedly, they now notice there is a social phenomenon going on. The edifice of UN science is crumbling under attack from semi-retired mining engineers, anonymous hackers and blogsite meteorologists who are upholding the very most basic tenets of the scientific method! Without the internet, it is doubtful they could prevail.

  61. Another excellent post from Willis and so many interesting comments.
    Don’t forget to send Anthony a contribution so that we can continue enjoying the best blog on the net.
    I am waiting for the contributions from the well known climate scientists who will convince us all with their data and theories that they are indeed correct about AGW.

  62. Reading Dr Ravetz and also witnessing the slow, inevitable fallout of PNS as it has been applied to climate science over the years, I can’t help but feel that an enormous amount of time and resources has been wasted on this whole enterprise- and if left to fester for too much longer will no doubt end up causing us all great damage.

    This is history re-writing stuff. Don’t like what the ‘blip’ in the 1940’s tells you? Simple! Just sand it out. Now it’s perfect. It’s of the ‘times’. It’s high quality.

    Ready for market.

    Something tells me that this is not how an advanced society would go about steering itself. I have high hopes for the advancement of society. But this PSN stuff isn’t it.

  63. Now I get it, the post-normal scientist couldn’t hack it in the normal world of science so they went postal on it.

    Put another way. In their minds they’re ahead of the old pesky normal stuff, normal math, normal logic, normal statistics, normal methodologies, normal ethics, principles, and moral, they’re ahead of all that normal “crap” that doesn’t make any sense to ’em anyway. In their minds, they’re in front of the rest of the normal science, normal society, and normal people. In their minds, they’re beyond normal. They are Post-Normal!

    Maybe it takes post-normal psychology to understand how that isn’t insane. :p

  64. Willis Eschenbach (03:45:54) :

    Thanks, you make your point well. It doesn’t say to pretend to be objective while being subjective, though it might be interpreted that way. I would tend to think of it more as a request for the opposite: being open about subjective judgements. Scientists had been pretending to be objective while being subjective long before this.

  65. Censored again!

    Fine have it your way.

    I am not going to take this lightly. I presume you will claim that I’m off topic or some such nonsense.

    For the record I am never off topic!

    [Relax, ctm called it a night a couple of hours ago, and I took over at 0530. Your posts are approved along with everyone else’s waiting in the moderation queue. No one is censoring you. ~dbs]

  66. Rupert Matthews (02:45:20) :
    Ummmm. I don’t want to sound like some sort of purist here. BUT
    The quote about “Once more unto the breach, dear friends” is from King Henry V, who was King of England. The soldiers you show in the picture are from the famous cavalry regiment the Scots Greys who were Scottish…

    To be *really* picky, the Greys didn’t assault into a breach, they created one, at the cost of about 40% of the unit in casualties.

  67. yes, one more round of applause for Dr Ravetz talking to an unsympathetic audience. I’d never heard of PNS outside the context of AGW, and even then, it seemed to be a synonym for “agenda-driven findings,” but Ravetz has given me a hint that it is something else independent of AGW propaganda.

    Earlier on I read something about the US climatologists/AGW people using “chaos theory” whereas the Soviets/Russians were using standard measurements. Also, cryptome.org today has an interesting and possibly relevant link to random matrix theory, in New Scientist, http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20627550.200-enter-the-matrix-the-deep-law-that-shapes-our-reality.html?full=true

    I don’t pretend to understand PNS, chaos theory or random matrix theory, but provide the link for those who might understand it, realizing it could be used as the ultimate justification for “proxy temperature data.” Oh well, let the chaotic quantum fuzzy little chips fall as they fall.

  68. I think I get it now. Willis, you’re right. Transparency is the key. Quality (which Ravetz talks about) is important, and you can’t ensure quality without transparency. And the biggest problem with PNS may be that it does not put transparency and honesty at the top of its list of priorities, although I believe it was intended to encourage these values.

  69. It is frightening that PNS is given credence in academia and politics. It seems to be little more than masturbatory make believe by people who have failed to make anything of real science, so they have invented their own “science”. Favoured opinion is given greater weight than objective evidence, truth is whatever you want it to be to fit in with your preferred storyline, if you don’t like the answers you get from real science you just get the opinion of a dozen of your drinking buddies instead.

    Secure in their wet dream, Post Normal Times currently says ” I will link to wattsupwiththat in the blogroll when I see arguments there that hold water and have not been refuted.”

  70. A story of PNS:

    Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
    All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.

    “Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
    The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
    Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
    The frumious Bandersnatch!”

    He took his vorpal sword in hand:
    Long time the manxome foe he sought —
    So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
    And stood awhile in thought.

    And, as in uffish thought he stood,
    The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
    Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
    And burbled as it came!

    One, two! One, two! And through and through
    The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
    He left it dead, and with its head
    He went galumphing back.

    “And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
    Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
    O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’
    He chortled in his joy.

    `Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
    All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.

  71. Dr Ravetz appears to favour an analysis of competing value systems over critical examination of the data and transparency. Doesn’t this then come down to ‘good guys and bad guys, leading to situations like the CRU decision to hide the decline as a matter of ‘public interest!’

  72. Buddenbrook (00:33:25) :

    “Willis: “Since science has dealt quite well with these problems for centuries, why do we need a new post-normal “science”?”

    “That question has no inner logic. We need new frameworks today, because risks that come from futuristic technologies and man’s potential impact on the planet warrant the new frameworks. You failed to answer to this objection in the previous thread. There were no such risks involved with 18th century technology. So to equate the two is merely rhetoric.”

    Man has long had a degree of impact on the planet. Before modern times, he had denuded the forests of Europe, for example. Now the effect can potentially be bigger because of technology and increased population, but I wonder if drawing a distinction between “new frameworks” and “new principles” might be useful?

    I’m not saying new principles will never arise or that there won’t ever be a need for them. I am, however, questioning whether there aren’t some principles that are still good, albeit that the frameworks within which they are presented might need to change with the times.

    One of these principles, for me, is encapsulated in normal science (not exclusively, it has to be said). I’d opine we are in a situation where the linkage between scientific institutions and commerce/politics is stifling adventurous seeking after truth, especially if that threatens the status quo. Current frameworks seem to be causing problems, and need to change. But is the key principle of normal science any less applicable than it once was? Can we now abandon the pursuit of truth?

    PNS seems to want to do that. Quality is important, but surely the most important quality to assure is the reliability of the knowledge upon which we base decision and action? Sure, absolute truth is mere aspiration, but if we at least aim for it, then we stand the best chance of coming up with effective solutions.

    One has to get almost spiritual here. The nearer we get to truth, the better things turn out. Untruth always leads to tears, regardless of intentions. This is an iron law of the universe, totally unbreakable. If you try to screw with truth, you will only screw yourself. That’s simply because truth happens to be what is, regardless of what you want it to be.

    If CAGW is untrue, it’s untrue, and you won’t be able to quality control nature into conforming with your expectations. You may be able to control for a while the kind of human response you’d like to see, but any action taken won’t address the truth of the situation. At best, it’ll be a waste of time, and at worst, create a raft of avoidable problems.

    Human frameworks that aren’t primarily interested in what actually is, are ineffective and inefficient fantasy realms. The world is already full of them (nothing new), and we all know that. I suspect this unconsciously informs the environmental movement, but it won’t help to replace one kind of fantasy with another. That won’t produce Utopia, but a different kind of dissatisfaction. The aim should be to get nearer to truth, and to eliminate as much fantasy as possible. No sacred cows, no questions that mustn’t be asked. Whatever is, is, and will scorn whatever ways you seek to delimit it.

    What, imo, drives true sceptics, is that they want the truth, value it above all else. If CAGW is true, they want to see the evidence. They want to be able to question without limitation. They don’t want to determine “truth” by joining a stakeholder group and pressing their own interests. They have only the one interest to press: coming to know the truth. PNS is anathema for them, precisely because truth isn’t its primary concern.

    I don’t think there’s any area of human affairs in which the pursuit of truth can be sidelined. Yes, sometimes there are urgent situations requiring immediate action without complete knowledge/understanding. We all know them when we see them. An outbreak of disease. A hurricane. Some definite sign that something has actually happened which we know to be threatening.

    CAGW is not like that. Stuff that has always happened is being linked to a novel factor, anthropogenic CO2. Various stakeholder groups with an interest in promoting a causal link have been behaving badly and seeking to exclude and vilify dissent. Dr. Ravetz seemingly deplores that, and yet, as Willis has shown, the blog roll of a site Ravetz is associated with does not link to sceptical sites. WUWT, dedicated to normal science, links to warmist sites and does not censor warmists, so which is more interested in involving different stakeholders? What does it say about the actions, rather than the words, of PNS proponents? I don’t deny Ravetz’s courage in coming here, but maybe he sees himself more as a missionary than anything else.

    The one stakeholder PNS doesn’t seem to want is the sceptic. I suspect Dr. Ravetz somehow doesn’t see us for what we actually are, or this place for what it actually is. We challenge everything, including other sceptics. We chide one another should we exhibit the same traits as warmists. We accept evidence, if strong enough and from a reliable source, that we wish didn’t exist. We aren’t team players, really. We’re more a disparate bunch of dissentients with a malady of thought (with a nod to Bishop Hill). You can no more tame us than a roomful of cats. We’re not going to go away, so live with it.

    By all means let’s have some different framework for normal science. The one we have now is broken. But let’s not replace it with a fantasy realm that sooner or later will screw us royally.

  73. geo (21:57:04) :
    I’m getting some cognitive dissonance from the Henry V rhetoric and the Charge of the Light Brigade imagery. . .

    Better hope there are no Scots reading, associating the painting ‘Scotland Forever’ of the charge of the Scots Greys at Waterloo with the quote from Henry V at Harfleur referring to ‘close up the wall with our English dead’ is likely to ruffle some feathers! ;)

  74. Of course there should be international diplomacy in policy in regard to how scientific applications within society affect other nations. But by fusing the “science” into the political process, instead of isolating and protecting it from the political process, one runs a high risk, nay a certainty of corrupting it. This is just as true of the corrupting influence of Rome on Christianity, when the two were fused and it became the official religion.

  75. Willis,
    The definition of “quality” is quite simple, although I suppose one could muddy it up by thinking too much about it. Quality simply is meeting a standard. Students who complete assignments and get the right answers to calculations do quality work. Bricklayers who evenly place bricks according to the specifications do quality work. Researchers who present the results of their experiments along with critiques of flaws and gaps do quality work. It’s when “quality” starts to slide into the aesthetic sphere (do I like this piece of artwork?) that it becomes less meaningful as a label.

  76. ScientistForTruth (03:30:25) :

    Well said! Thank you for enlighten us on the facts, and putting names on the grey eminense’s lurking behind the curtains.

    So we cannot set thresholds anymore? That is indeed goodbye to science, hello religion.

  77. PN”S” and it’s adherents will continually find Another Potential Catastrophe in anything which doesn’t fit their world view, and it is all about world view. Note that they frequently make reference to some world ending technology. In the past, they were called Luddites.

    Note also, that the source of the world ending technology is vague, but that it should be put under control of the State. As I think I recall, most of the world ending technologies haven’t exactly been products of corporations going off to develop them. Use of technology for ill has been the sole province of the State. Whether FX, Sarin, Fission, or Fusion, the development of these into weapons has been the province of the the State.

    Making Science the handmaiden of the State has lead to some unbelievable atrocities. I for one am opposed to further efforts in this direction.

  78. Ref – Ian H (00:41:07) :
    …”Dr Ravetz is not quite so disconnected from reality as that but is heading in this direction with his ideas of mixing politics with science to create some kind of hybrid. I tend to think trying to blend the two is about as useful as trying to cross a dog with a cat.”
    _____________________

    Me thinks there is more to the Professor than chaos theory at the human level, but not much. He is the product of his education, as we all are. He is the reflection of the impacts of a lifetime, as we all are. He espouses most that which he is most familiar with, as we all do. And… remember, he is a Professor!

    He professes that which he “knows”. He obtains his daily bread and a roof over his head from his “profession”. He is so like you and I but not like you or I, and in that we are all alike as well. He challenges everything and offers nothing, for he has found nothing that he can settle on that is fixed; everything and everyone is in motion, so how can anything be really ‘fixed’? What is truth? What is real?

    The perversion and destruction of modern scientific integrity is his goal. He doesn’t believe in it so why should anyone else? When we really see how and what life is, as he has seen it in his experience, we will obviously agree (he hopes); and this is his lifework, this is his objective: to teach as many who will listen so that they come to know what he knows. What he is offering amounts to a paradigm shift in the reality of reality and the way of the species. Well, it would if you buy it. Pretty BIG stuff, what!?!

    People are very complicated! Don’t ever assume that everyone (or anyone) on the planet is just like ‘you’ are. Hold to what you “know” (whatever that may be) because it’s that which makes you who you are and it’s really all you have to keep you sane. Some call it a Teddy Bear, a Blanket, a Paradigm. If you find something sweet and appealing in what the professor is professing in his profession of faith, be as your ancestors in the caves and get the dumbest bozo to taste it first and see how s/he reacts for the next five years; it might be poison. Go slow! Hold fast to your paradigm (unless it‘s not working right), it’s really all you have that keeps you you.

    Don’t buy a pig in a poke!

  79. Post normal science seems to me to be just a version of the precautionary principle applied to potential problems, with a mix of some science and a lot of politics. The problem with the precautionary principle is that it may cause much more of a problem than it may help. Add to this the frequently misguided actions of politicians and we may have a big problem. If we are heading for a cooling period (as previous cycles of glacial and warming demonstrate), trying to cool the Earth may cause a more rapid reentry to less favorable living conditions (less crops, more people freezing). In addition, the cost to do any cooling, or even cut greenhouse gas levels a significant amount would be massive and disruptive. In the end doing exactly the wrong thing may also cost a lot – not a good outcome. This on top of the fact that there is no real evidence that the potential small amount of heating is a real problem. This is not a neutral-win situation as was claimed for praying (where it doesn’t hurt to pray, and it may help).

  80. “What is Quality?”
    Ever since I read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” in high school, it has been in my mind.
    Quality is undefinable because quality is like beauty, it is in the eyes of the beholder.
    From an operations mgmt., point of view, it can be defined as how well a product or service performs against advertised outcomes.
    The example I use with my students is Big Macs. Always ask them if they think it is a “high” quality hamburger. Invariably, none of the hands go up. I then argue it is a high quality hamburger because in my travels around the world ALL my Big Macs have been the same. i.e. built to the advertised specifications. I would GUESS 99.99% of the Big Macs are made the same, ergo it is “high” quality hamburger. They may not like it, but at least some of them start to understand quality from a production standpoint.
    The next step is to move them from using words like high and low to describe quality. Getting them to move from subjective to objective descriptors.
    It is quite a topic and gets some great debates going in a classroom. It is very good for getting a student to come out of his/her shell. If you can find his/her pet peave, you can just take the opposite stand to him/her and usually that will get them expressing their opinions and then the learning really starts.

  81. Michael Larkin,

    To clear any misunderstandings. I’m a climate skeptic, definitely. I think the C in CAGW is a lot of corrupted nonsense. There seems to be very little proof for it, much of it biased, and no urgent action is needed. Such would be foolish and highly costly and naturally I oppose it on the current basis of evidence.

    But I don’t see that as a reason not to recognize the value of the PNS framework. The two are separate animals.

  82. Willis, I always enjoy your posts. I think you are spot on, and I trusted my instincts on what I can only call PNS BS !! Ravetz is a smooth talker with the ability to hide dangerous ideas under the surface. Perhaps he is not even aware of the dangers of the road he would like us to go down. Academia has taken a path not to enlightenment, but to the destruction of methods that are required to steer us in the right direction. Many in the past have thought they were “doing the right thing” (e.g.. Rachel Carson), and have inadvertently caused great suffering. kwik (06:18:02) : Love it ! ” That is indeed goodbye to science, hello religion.”

  83. So Ravetz was a marxist for most of his life? Even if he’s finally given up on that, it explains much. It means that at his core he has always believed that an elite should dictate policies on behalf of an all-powerful government with no discussion or dissent allowed from the peasantry. Which is the attitude of the warmists with regard to AGW, and the reason that dissent offends them on such a visceral level. I do hope that he has truly renounced these old views because he has come to realize how pernicious and destructive they are, and not just because its good PR. Still, it makes his judgment very suspect.

    And anyone who can’t admit that marxism *always* turns into that is simply too foolish to take seriously on any topic.

  84. What is “Quality?”

    Read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” but don’t look for it in secret climate science.

  85. Wow. From what Dr. Ravetz says, PNS is simply a case of “we know what we want and don’t bother us with reality. In fact, we don’t actually believe that there is an objective reality or truth.”

    This is likely derived from his “Progressive” background. Progressives do not believe in an objective world. Truth is defined as what furthers the cause (or the party). For example, I note a news item in February describing the firing of a senior writer at the Atlanta Progressive News. The newspaper explained the firing by saying:

    “At a very fundamental, core level, Springston did not share our vision for a news publication with a progressive perspective. He held on to the notion that there was an objective reality that could be reported objectively, despite the fact that that was not our editorial policy at Atlanta Progressive News.” http://bigdustup.blogspot.com/2010/02/clarity-of-delusion.html

    Thus when Dr. Ravetz talks about “quality” he simply means “consistent with our belief structure.”

  86. dbs

    For your information I was the first person to submit a post on this thread, some were between 3.30 and 4.00 GMT.

    That post like so many before it, completely disappeared never to be seen again. As did my subsequent posts, up until I strongly objected.

    It seems WUWT is in the habit of disappearing my posts. Only when I complain about it do they miraculously re-appear.

    Once or twice would be as you imply, paranoia. This has been happening to me ever since I first began posting here on WUWT, which is interesting because I only ever post about one subject.

    CO2.

    As far as AGW is concerned, CO2 its the only subject worthy of debate.

  87. Dr. Ravetz and Dr. Eschenbach
    Regarding the elusive issue of “quality”, I recommend reviewing: Quality Control and related books.

    I also recommend reviewing “qualify assurance”. e.g. Many administrators and technicians are employed to enforce:
    Subpart 46.4—Government Contract Quality Assurance

    May I encourage pursuing “excellence” in science.
    The National Institute for Science and Technology (NIST) establishedBaldrige Award
    See their: Criteria for Performance Excellence

    No matter the size or nature of your organization, the Criteria are a guide in your journey toward performance excellence. They can help your organization align resources; improve communication, productivity, and effectiveness; and achieve strategic goals.

    The Criteria work as an integrated framework for managing an organization. They are simply a set of questions focusing on critical aspects of management that contribute to performance excellence:

    * Leadership
    * Strategic planning
    * Customer focus
    * Measurement, analysis, and knowledge management
    * Workforce focus
    * Process management
    * Results

    The Criteria serve two main purposes:

    * Identify Baldrige Award recipients to serve as role models for other organizations
    * Help organizations assess their improvement efforts, diagnose their overall performance management system, and identify their strengths and opportunities for improvement

    There are three versions of the Criteria for Performance Excellence: business/nonprofit, education, and health care.

    NIST discuses:Why Take the Baldrige Journey?

  88. Buddenbrook;
    … a group of scientists and science advocates declare that further advancement in technological field Y could pose potentially grave risks to mankind , could open up for the development of weapons of unimagined terror and consequence. Nothing like we have seen so far, dwarfing the H-bomb. As a result they demand that research to be immediately halted until the risks can be better qualified and quantified. They further demand that all
    future research should be 100% supervised by governments 24/7 and access to the technology strictly restricted. Some politicians might jump the gun and threaten “rogue regimes” that they will have to open up their societies and scrap their research programs or… This is the type of future that Dr. Bostrom anticipates.
    Now you do understand that on top of the other consequences, thousands of billions would have been invested in these fields, several interests would thus clash and the demanded bans and restrictions to commercial research would be very damaging to the national and global economies.
    Yet the existential risks would not be 100% certain>>

    Do YOU understand sir, that there is one and only one answer to this dilemma? It is the same answer that has been repeated down through history. Who ever gets it first, wins. I have an A-bomb, you don’t, you had best surrender. Can you imagine the outcome of WWII if the framework you propose, the questions you demand be asked, the transparency you insist on, the input of intellectual snobbery to a potentially destructive scientific process had been applied to the Manhatten project?

    There is one and only one defense against massively destructive technologies. That is to have them before your enemies do.

    This PNS drivel reminds me of a student debate I was involved in decades ago about nuclear power. The “nay” team was a group of philosophy students. Their opening salvo was an eloquent and carefully crafted two minute speech that had probably 50 words in it that to this day I do not know the meaning of. We pantsed them, declared ourselves the winners, and left. When those willing to take action confront those who are nothing more than intellectual snobs, the snobs lose.

    Pontificate all you want on frameworks, competing interests, rogue regimes, open and transparent systems and uncertain results. The very processes you propose are being implemented and are failing in front of your eyes. The United States went to extraordinary lengths to keep computer technology that would facilitate development of nuclear bombs out of the hands of China and Russia. How well did that work? Sanctions, technical and economic embargoes against North Korea accomplished what? Restricted distribution of technical documentation got from Pakistan to Iran how?

    Your strategy of applying your intellectual snobbery to the real world is just p**sing in the wind and insisting it is champagne we are being splattered with. If the technology is possible, the bad guys will get their hands on it. There are only two defenses against massively destructive technologies:

    1. Get it for yourself before your enemies do.
    2. Destroy your enemies before they get it.

    That is way the world has always worked, that is the way it is working right now, and applying your PNS claptrap to what ever technology comes next that is even worse than an A-bomb assures only that options 1 and 2 above are not available.

    The world is a nasty place with a lot of nasty people in it. If you fight on a campus with 12 syllable words and 100 word sentences you will lose your pants. Try it on a global stage and you will lose your country, your freedom, and possibly your life.

  89. Peter Taylor (04:36:50) :

    I have nothing to add to or comment on in your post. However, I felt compelled to thank you for it. I thought it very good.

  90. One day 1969, some colleagues discovered a Uranium mine, then vastly bigger than others yet to be found. So we hopped on a steep learning curve, I joined them, after they had started drilling some holes and doing some assays.

    Because the assays are scattered, they have some math in common with surface temperature stations and we worked long and hard to divide the first orebody into 3-D cells (blocks) and to assign an interpolated grade to each, many of which had no assys within them. Then we designed a pit that mininised the amount of sub-grade ore that had to be moved to extract the paydirt. There was gold as well, in different places to the uranium at times, just to make the jigsaw more complex.

    The whole procedure has a lot in common with calculating a global temperature for climatology. There were missing values, for example, when core did not extract properly in the drilling.

    At times we had to use modelling, but this modelling was critical to econmomic outcome. If we did it badly we could go broke. If we did it right, we could prosper.

    In the final washup, here are the results of the published 1980 modelling compared with the actual historical record of extraction over 13 years.

    Tonnes of ore extracted (millions):

    Actual 18.036. Modelled, 16.792.

    Grade of ore extracted, %U3O8:

    Actual 0.338. Modelled 0.313.

    Tonnes of rock moved (millions):

    Actual 62.192. Modelled 62.00.
    …………………………….

    Do you wonder why I think that the standards of measurement and modelling in climate science are woeful? I can assure you that we devoted about zero time to the philosophy of post-normal science, but a good deal of time to evidentiary science. The quality factor arose from recognition of when to stop further expenditure on a segment of work that was showing diminishing returns and spend it on other work that more effectively removed scientific uncertainty.

    It’s a different game when you are paid by the tonne of ore, not by the tonne of learned papers.

    BTW, by rough calculation, this and later uranium from this region has substituted for fossil fuel in global electricity generation and has replaced the need to add about a billion tonnes of CO2 into the air. I can’t recall that the company got a vote of thanks for this.

  91. Buddenbrook (04:18:19) :
    a group of scientists and science advocates declare that further advancement in technological field Y could pose potentially grave risks to mankind
    The flaw with this argument is the usual ‘Frankenstein’ idea [or perhaps it even goes back to the Biblical Genesis Tree of Knowledge] , that knowledge is potentially dangerous. There is no a shred of evidence [atom bomb included] that that is so, and in any case [especially if so] that knowledge will come eventually.

  92. I applaud Dr. Ravetz for his willingness to debate this PNS. However, I really cannot see what his overall point is. This PNS concept just seems to me to be a form of Situational Ethics as applied to science – your answer to a question is based on the situation, not on the facts.

  93. Willis,
    Kudos for moving this conversation forward. We may disagree but we don’t have to be disagreeable, and I think you have demonstrated that quite well.

    Dr. Ravetz,
    Thanks again for continuing the conversation and staying in the fray!

    Both,
    I’ve found in life, that when parties who have severe disputes between them (as occasionally occurs between me, my employees, and our numerous clients) and they can sit down and get everything out on the table, warts and all, and the egos and preconceived notions are for the most part checked at the door… amazing progress can be made. Some of my favorite clients (and vice versa I might add) are the hard-ass Type A personalities that tend to run over my peers.

    I’ve found that many times, I have to lead this effort – setting the tone of the meeting(s), being the flexible and humble one, establishing a constructive trust, letting them air their concerns (again warts and all), and then tactfully (showing the right balance of deference, respect and, most importantly, backbone) introducing my point of view, and working with them to a constructive and beneficial outcome.

    This is an art form, and what I’ve found is that this skill might be somewhat rare on average in the business world… in the academic world it’s next to nonexistent. I consider it – even though I owe my outlook here in large part to fancy-shmancy books like the Tao Te Ching, Book of Five Rings, and The Art of War – to ultimately be a form of street smarts. High levels of, as I call it, street smarts (as I use it, it is similar in some ways to emotional or social intelligence) and book smarts (traditional IQ and/or attainment of education) can be exhibited by the same person… but they rarely exist at the same levels in the same person.

    Some of the smartest people I know from an IQ and/or academic standpoint… are socially dysfunctional. I think should also be considered/contemplated when one considers the intersection between scientists (who are, on average, not the most socially intelligent people IMO – no offense meant to anyone by this!!!!), and politicians and/or special interests… who are the alpha social animals IMO. I consider them to be equivalents to the “hard-asses” I referred to earlier… to put it in wold/dog pack terms, they tend to run over the betas and own them.

    This rambling thought is by no means an indictment on anyone, and I will go ahead and apologize if I offended anyone (sorry!). I’m just stating tendencies I’ve observed through my life experience. Humility, flexibility and high social IQ (street smarts, emotional intelligence, whatever you want to call it) can be, IMO, surprisingly rare traits in highly intelligent (traditional IQ, academic attainment) individuals. In my world, that is not a small point of consideration, and when you contemplate the politicization (corruption?) of science it seems the assumption is that high (traditional) IQ correlates with high social IQ. For the both of you it seems to be the case – like I said, it’s possible that both can be exhibited in the same person – but it is by no means a given.

  94. Dr. Ravetch,
    then, according to the PNS, and your own analysis,
    we cannot estimate how much of the warming ( if there is any ) is anthropogenic…. so, we should assume
    a: all of it
    b: most of it
    is Anthropogenic….

    And this logic is “Science”?
    then what is the difference between “Science” and “BS Politics”?

  95. While I appreciate Dr. Ravetz’s willingness to have a scientific discussion (note: NOT a post-normal scientific discussion) on AGW, I am a practical man and therefore I must call them as I see them.

    Dr. Ravetz is, primarily, an academic. As academics are wont to do, he has created a new term (Post-Normal Science) and now he uses it every chance he gets because he is promoting something he created in the hopes that it takes hold. Just like any marketing “genius” will tell you, the more you say something over and over again, the more likely it is to gain acceptance by the general public as a normative term (even if the term includes POST-normal). Indeed, this is a weak form of hypnotism.

    There is no need for “Post-Normal Science”. Not a single issue that Dr. Ravetz floats for why he BELIEVES we need to make a distinction between the way we used to practice science, and how he wants to practice PNS, is valid, in my opinion. In fact, I would suggest that his attempts to mainstream his PNS ideas are more dangerous for the very fact that they seemingly attempt to blur the lines between what is science and what is politics. And this is, of course, the fear that so many of us here at WUWT have about the whole AGW scam.

    I feel I am uniquely qualified to pass judgment on what Dr. Ravetz is doing. You see, my primary occupation is as an aerospace control systems engineer. I take ideas about flying machines and I turn them into machines that actually fly. I do not need to invent new, fancy terms that I try to “sell” to other people as necessary. I use the basics of science (mostly physics), coupled with engineering analysis and know-how to produce a product that a customer can actually use, not merely talk about. But at the same time, I have a secondary occupation as an adjunct professor of aerospace engineering. So I am surrounded by the academic types. I witness how these full-time academics work on a daily basis. Whereas I have the business of making something fly to consume the majority of my time, they fill their whole workdays with academic issues. My courses teach the practical aspects to students who want to be engineers. And that is all I teach. I have no need to collect a bunch of shiny objects & observations, brand them with my own unique name, and then “sell” then to my students (or beyond) as something they need. For they need no such thing. All they need is for me to teach them how to do what I do, to make products that people need. And all I need to do that is plain, old, “simple”, normal science.

    If we could rid science of all the people trying to sell their shiny new widgets, and stop them from trying to convince us that we need their widget, perhaps we would have more time to dedicate to science. Normal science.

  96. Buddenbrook (04:18:19) :
    So, bottom line: Directing your criticism at “PNS” misses the target. The criticism should be directed at the quality of the basic research in climate science.

    It’s obvious that PNS affects the basic research in climate science. Willis is right on target.

  97. “For me, a scientific truth is merely something which we have not yet falsified.”

    That cannot be correct, as then anything stated by anyone becomes true as soon as it has been uttered. Such things must be regarded as hypotheses.

    Not all hypotheses are true, but only those that adhere to the facts, agree with reality and cannot be shown to be wrong will become accepted as the truth.

  98. Here’s a PDF posted on Ravetz’ website postnormaltimes. It’s not written by him but by another postnormalist.

    http://postnormaltimes.net/wpblog/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Sardar2010postnormaltimes.pdf

    Amongst other things it states that in the past years 6000 individuals have become billionairs and that their fortunes are SELF-MADE ! And how this new “superclass”
    destabilizes everything further etc. and how this is another symptom of the postnormalness of our time.

    Well, before somebody becomes a self-made billionaire, he needs to become a millionaire, right? And before he can become a self-made millionaire, he will earn his first 100,000, right? and so on.

    The paper goes on to say that we need a return to “normal times”.

    The “science” bit in PNS is just camouflage for a whole different agenda.

  99. davidmhoffer,

    I liked your post, as it is spirited and had some valuable thought in it. Still, your cynical solution is not very realistic I’m afraid.

    Personally I do not believe in anything supernatural, and in this sense for me the universe is a random place. A gamma ray outburst of a distant exploding supernova billions upon billions of miles away could sweep all life from earth into extinction in a blink of an eye. That is just an example of the forces inherent in the cosmos. What of these forces mankind can unlock upon this planet, we cannot tell, but there is no reason to think that there wouldn’t be some very nasty stuff coming out of the locker as science advances. There is no one and nothing to save mankind from these dangers but ourselves.

    There is a mistaken logic in your argument regarding getting the A-Bomb first. Others DID get it TOO as you noted. And that is just the point. With weapons few notches stronger, that situation will become completely unstable and unbearable. Different regimes being able to destroy each other and the planet multiple times over with a press of a button is simply something we must attempt to avert, even with restrictions to certain freedoms if necessary.
    And it is not impossible either that something horrid could also occur due to a research accident when ever more powerful forces are being unlocked.

    Mankind have to prevent these dangers not just for decades or centuries but probably for thousands of years onwards before mankind has moved on to the universe and is past the extinction threshold.
    And during these crucial and potentially grave moments in the advance of science, scientists need to work inside a new framework to estimate the risks and to communicate them to policy makers and the society at large, thus PNS.

    Past the extinction threshold there could be hundreds of billions of years ahead for our ancestors, whether men or whatever they will develop into as concious beings in the cosmos first in the milky way and then beyond.
    For me this concern over rules any small term petty quarrels as a political and scientific guideline that is noble and moral. Achieving the long term survival of mankind.

    Steve Keohane,

    “It’s obvious that PNS affects the basic research in climate science. Willis is right on target.”

    If it is obvious, perhaps you could then argue how it is obvious, and why it is wrong to see it as mere old fashioned corruption of science, examples of which there are many and numerous. Willis already admitted, that most climate scientists probably hadn’t even heard of Dr. Ravetz. How then, were his ideas so centrally influential? And how can you reason it from just couple of references in tens of thousands of papers on climate science? I don’t think that assertion holds up therefore.

  100. SONNET- TO SCIENCE (Excerpt)

    Science! true daughter of Old Time thou art!
    Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes.
    Why preyest thou thus upon the ideologue’s beliefs,
    Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?

    [With apologies to Edgar Allan Poe for a slight paraphrase.]

    Now then, what is the difference between Post Normal Science and Lysenkoism again?

  101. Willis, I would like to know about your educational background and a summary of your practical experience since then. I get the feeling that you are the Eric Hoffer of climate science. Keep your marvelous posts coming.

  102. Buddenbrook (09:58:39):

    “Different regimes being able to destroy each other and the planet multiple times over with a press of a button is simply something we must attempt to avert, even with restrictions to certain freedoms if necessary.”

    What restrictions on which freedoms, exactly, are you proposing?

  103. Fascinating discussion and wonderfully framed by Willis.

    As an aside and as others have said, the image is from Lady Elizabeth (Thompson) Butler’s rendition of the charge of the French guns by the Scots Greys at Waterloo – Scotland Forever. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Thompson )

    In the movie Waterloo, one of the great re-enactment movies of all time, Napoleon says something to the effect that they were the best mounted cavalry in Europe and the worst led. I mention the quote since it seems to summarize what is happening in climate science under the guidance of Scheider, Mann, Jones et al.

  104. Not read all the posts , but the picture is “Ensign Ewart and the charge of the Greys ” at the Battle of Waterloo . Sorry if that has been posted before and if I sound pedantic, but it is my fathers old regiment.

  105. Smokey,

    “What restrictions on which freedoms, exactly, are you proposing?”

    I am not proposing anything. But I can accept anything from restrictions to freely pursue spesific fields of knowledge to a global surveillance society, as deemed necessary.

    If you think Ravetz is radical, it’s only a start I’m afraid.

  106. Buddenbrook (10:19:49) :
    restrictions to freely pursue spesific fields of knowledge to a global surveillance society, as deemed necessary.
    As deemed necessary by whom?

  107. Marxist’s such as Revetz have an extremely reckless disregard for truth, facts and reality.

    The unfortunate by-product of this criminally negligent disregard for such things as normal healthy honest people take for granted, is always the same.

    Mass human death. “Genocide” to be more precise.

    Is this link between Marxist’s and mass human death. a coincidence?

    What are the statistical possibilities of this fact being a coincidence?

    Considering the stated aims of those boasting about the agenda behind AGW pre- Copenhagen with regard to “population reduction” I suspect the odds against a coincidence are as close to zero as you can get.

    Where ever there is a Marxist (with power or influence), there is a crime against humanity. Even if that crime hasn’t been committed yet.

    Giving such people credence by even acknowledging their perverse point of view is called aiding and abetting.

  108. Mike from Canmore (07:15:21) :

    “What is Quality?

    The simple answer is quality is relative to your goal.

    If the goal is to understand the cause / effect relationship of anthropogenic inputs into the atmosphere of C02 then science needs to be insulated from politics, not merged within it.

  109. Quality is like buying oats; if you can be satisfied with oats that have already been through the horse, those come a little cheaper.

    I think PNS has already been “through the horse”.

  110. “But I can accept anything from restrictions to freely pursue spesific fields of knowledge to a global surveillance society, as deemed necessary”

    Yikes!

  111. What can we say? These things like Ravetz’s end in very unpleasant ways. History has shown it many, many times.

  112. Neil (10:15:49) :
    Not read all the posts , but the picture is “Ensign Ewart and the charge of the Greys ” at the Battle of Waterloo . Sorry if that has been posted before and if I sound pedantic, but it is my fathers old regiment.

    You family connection notwithstanding it most assuredly is the center of ‘Scotland Forever’ depicting the charge of the Greys on the French infantry at Waterloo. There are many paintings of Sgt (sic) Ewart capturing the French standard, this is not one of them.

    http://waterloobattletours.users.btopenworld.com/index_files/Page1435.htm

  113. Walter Schneider (08:52:04)

    “For me, a scientific truth is merely something which we have not yet falsified.”

    That cannot be correct, as then anything stated by anyone becomes true as soon as it has been uttered. Such things must be regarded as hypotheses.

    Not all hypotheses are true, but only those that adhere to the facts, agree with reality and cannot be shown to be wrong will become accepted as the truth.

    Well, I would hope my writing is not that opaque, and I am given hope by the fact that other people understood. What I meant was that a scientific truth was something which we had tried to falsify and had been unable to falsify. Yet.

    Sorry for the confusion.

  114. Ah, the precisions and principles of the Enlightenment:

    “I prefer to build my edifices on data and evidence and mathematics and facts and replicability and falsifiability and the usual scientific foundations, rather than on “quality”, whatever that might be.”

    vs.

    what, a garbled neo-platonic apology by Ravetz?

    “I have a similar reaction about ‘Truth’. I must work on this. It might relate to my revulsion at the dogmatic and anti-critical teaching of science that I experienced as a student, where anyone with original ideas or questions was scorned and humiliated. ”

    Surely Socrates was ever in search of Virtue, which he seems in some ways to explain to be Knowlwdge or maybe Truth , but as we all know questions are never really answered in Plato’s dialogues, there are always more questions.

    Should we read this as an attempt to abandon Enlightenment principles for the safety and murkiness of ancient Greek Philosphy when our science turns out not to have true observable and duplicable foundations?

    I wonder.

  115. Paddy (10:06:44)

    Willis, I would like to know about your educational background and a summary of your practical experience since then. I get the feeling that you are the Eric Hoffer of climate science. Keep your marvelous posts coming.

    Thanks for the compliment. My extensive training in post normal science allows me to take your hyperbole as fact, because it is of such obviously high quality. My CV is online here.

  116. Buddenbrook (10:19:49)

    Smokey,

    “What restrictions on which freedoms, exactly, are you proposing?”

    I am not proposing anything. But I can accept anything from restrictions to freely pursue spesific [sic] fields of knowledge to a global surveillance society, as deemed necessary.

    If you think Ravetz is radical, it’s only a start I’m afraid.

    YIKES!

    For you folks who thought I was kidding about the dangers of post normal “science”, I offer this as Exhibit B … Exhibit A being Ravetz’s own words, of course.

    What is it about Marxists, that they never saw a problem that couldn’t be solved by a bigger, more powerful government, with fewer and fewer freedoms, and more of a police state spying on its own citizens?

    Y’know, back in the nineties I had the foolish fantasy that with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Empire that Marxism would wither away and die … how naive of me.

  117. The key to Ravetz’s thinking is in the “concept” of “Quality”:

    “I can say that I am well aware that Quality is not a simple attribute, but is complex, influenced by history and context, ….”

    Influenced by history and context! Look it up in your encyclopedias under Dialectism and Historical Materialism. It’s Marxist/Hegelian stuff straight from the book. And totally obsolete.

  118. Truth, or rather “the truth” is a potentially totalitarian concept. If “the truth” is known, why should we allow anyone to contradict it? Dictators actually say this and practice it. And it is is what’s happening in the AGW controversy today. “The climate science community” ostensibly knows the truth about AGW–in fact this is considered so obvious that everybody should know it–so almost by definition skeptics are disinformers and either liars or ignorant fools.

    So why are the readers of this blog so attached to it? For the very good reason that truth in a less pretentious sense, and especially truthfulness, is essential in science, politics and everyday life.

    So there may be reason to be wary of “the truth”. But truthfulness is less

  119. Willis Eschenbach (11:26:24) :

    What Marxists? I was sure conservatives were at least as willing to implement surveillance to prevent terrorism. Was I wrong?

  120. Willis Eschenbach (11:26:24) :how naive of me!
    And not only marxism, now post-normal-scientism. How is it so that there are some people who do not learn from experience? . If they succeed they will provoke, again, a world conflagration. Why don’t they just take care of their own lives instead of trying to change OUR lives?. Really some of them perfectly qualify as anti-christs.

  121. Buddenbrook (10:19:49) :

    Since both of the “restrictions” you site already exist (and modify endlessly) you offer nothing radical, or new. ie: developing biological “weapons” regarding limiting “spesific (sic) fields” and Google, Interpol, the Internet, Walmart, etc regarding the “global surveillance society”.

    The concerns are what the “restrictions” are, how they become “restrictions”, how they are implemented, and how they are used. Who will control “restrictions” and how are those “controllers” controlled? PNT/S, as the “convenient” “framework” must be avoided while openly confrontational interactions should be the rule.

    To believe that conflict can be eliminated, or even controlled is naive and unattainable. The U.S. Founders knew this and created an exceptional framework through which to address conflicts. Problems arise when the elite, of whatever persuasion, carry out covert, disallowed practices in the name of the “best interests of the…….”. Better to have to face severe difficulty and have a chance, than to be stripped of a chance for self-determination.

    Save the planet from itself? I think I’ve heard that line before. An endless future is not guaranteed, in fact likely not possible in any certain location. Conflict can’t be avoided, so openly agreed upon checks and balances based upon firmly anchored laws sound good, don’t they?

  122. Ed J Zuiderwijk (11:28:48) :

    The key to Ravetz’s thinking is in the “concept” of “Quality”:

    “I can say that I am well aware that Quality is not a simple attribute, but is complex, influenced by history and context, ….”
    That’s it, Dr.Ravetz: REMEMBER and never forget!

  123. Buddenbrook;
    There is a mistaken logic in your argument regarding getting the A-Bomb first. Others DID get it TOO as you noted. And that is just the point. With weapons few notches stronger, that situation will become completely unstable and unbearable>>

    Pathetic. Do you really believe that mutually assured destruction with really big bombs is different from mutually assured destruction with super ginormous bombs? I lived all my life beneath the nuclear umbrella of mutually assured destruction. Worked out OK. Ask eastern europe how well they did without it. If the good guys get the super ginormous bomb first, you can hope for negotiations. If the bad guys get it first, you can hope to live. That you cannot see this from the safety of your academic prison through your government paid for rose colored glasses is shocking, frightening, and sad. A wise man once explained to me that a Phd is someone who studies an ever narrower field in increasing detail until they wind up knowing everything about nothing. Philosophy appears to be the reverse. It is the knowledge of nothing expanded to cover everything and yet you want to displace reality with it.

    Buddenbrook;
    I am not proposing anything. But I can accept anything from restrictions to freely pursue spesific fields of knowledge to a global surveillance society, as deemed necessary>>

    You have brought a text book to a gun fight. You not only want me to put down my gun and have the argument based on the rules in your text book, you want me to give you my gun for safe keeping. I will defend to the death your right to spout drivel. Set one foot on the path of implementing a “global surveillance society” however, and rest assured that my commitment to your free speech will be revoked. Only a complete fool believes that a police state is for his own good and that when the “emergency” is over that the police state will give up its power and restore the fool’s rights. You may condemn yourself to repeat history, but do not dare to try and take me with you. I will be busy building a super ginormous bomb with which to saver YOUR butt.

    You may take your text book and leave. I will give you your pants back in the morning.

  124. I’m not a marxist, and never have been. I detest hegelianism and all it’s offspring from marxism to post-modernism. You may or may not have noticed, but the biggest steps thus far towards a surveillance society were taken in your country under George W. Bush’s leadership, if I’m not mistaken?
    I do not advocate a police state. I think a democratic, open, transparent surveillance society is possible. It is also something that Bostrom has argued if I’m not mistaken.
    It don’t need to be centralized, it can be built on different parties surveying each other in mutual understanding and for a common benefit.

    The prospect certainly isn’t something I’d like, it is rather a lesser evil. Reality check.

  125. Scuse me but the breach quote is about the English at Agincourt. The illustration shows the charge of the Royal SCOTS Greys at Waterloo. Alba gu brath!!!!

  126. Dagfinn (11:38:02),

    You’re conflating the issues. Are you opposed to video surveillance in banks? After people crashed multiple airliners into buildings, are you opposed to cameras in airports?

    Marxists are the ones who would have a camera on every street corner — and in every home, for that matter.

  127. Willis; Solomon Islands, if we can avoid the earthquakes, lets have a climate meeting there!!
    Beserkley, Santa Cruz!! I must say you emerged quiet balanced considering…
    Actually my grandmother graduated magna cum laude from Berkley in the 1930s or early 40s, well before political correctness.

  128. Willis Eschenbach (11:26:24) :

    Y’know, back in the nineties I had the foolish fantasy that with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Empire that Marxism would wither away and die … how naive of me.

    I was in the U.K. with the U2 program helping to
    bring the wall down, thinking I was freeing people
    from the chains of oppressive governments. Little
    did I know they liked their chains and quickly re-
    forged them. How could we have been so wrong
    Willis?

  129. As usual, thank you Willis :-)

    But I want to especially thank Dr Ravetz. Had this discourse not taken place, I would not have been exposed to what Turbo, Peter Taylor and ScientistForTruth had to say.

  130. Buddenbrook;
    I think a democratic, open, transparent surveillance society is possible. It is also something that Bostrom has argued if I’m not mistaken.
    It don’t need to be centralized, it can be built on different parties surveying each other in mutual understanding and for a common benefit.>>

    Which part of “the good guys” and “the bad guys” having a mutually exclusive relationship when it comes to trust and understanding do you not get?

    You are starting to look awfull silly standing there with no pants on, and trying to convince me that if I just show the Dear Leader and the Ayatollah and the Taliban and Al Qaida that I am not building a super ginormous bomb, then they won’t either. Of course being who they are, they WILL build a super ginormous bomb anyway, we can’t put cameras everywhere. Either the good guys will stop them before they can use it, or you will die with no pants on reading aloud from the chapter in your text book on mutual understanding.

  131. Smokey (12:12:51) :

    I’m not particularly opposed to any of the forms of surveillance you list. I just don’t think the political distinction applies in this case. Who, specifically, are the Marxists you say want cameras on every street corner?

  132. “Buddenbrook (12:04:46) :

    I’m not a marxist, and never have been. I detest hegelianism and all it’s offspring from marxism to post-modernism. You may or may not have noticed, but the biggest steps thus far towards a surveillance society were taken in your country under George W. Bush’s leadership, if I’m not mistaken?”

    You might not be a marxist but you’re a know-nothing nonetheless. Does the word Stasi ring a bell? Are you german (because you call yourself “Buddenbrook”)? Then how in the world can you write this pile of faecal matter?

  133. From:

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

    “Lysenkoism is used colloquially to describe the manipulation or distortion of the scientific process as a way to reach a predetermined conclusion as dictated by an ideological bias, often related to social or political objectives.”

    So what is there left to understand?

    PNS = Lysenkoism = Stalinism

  134. By the way, “Skeptical Science” blog in Oz is the most unskeptical science you will ever see. In fact, taking that name is a bit of a fraud in itself because the blog is there to spin the AGW-the science is settled- line. Lately it has been valiantly spinning the CRU email disgrace into a tiny hicough that has been taken out of context – if the email revelations don’t make you into a sceptic there is nothing that will.

  135. Buddenbrook (00:33:25) :

    Willis: “Since science has dealt quite well with these problems for centuries, why do we need a new post-normal “science”?”

    That question has no inner logic. We need new frameworks today, because risks that come from futuristic technologies and man’s potential impact on the planet warrant the new frameworks. You failed to answer to this objection in the previous thread. There were no such risks involved with 18th century technology. So to equate the two is merely rhetoric.

    ———————-

    Buddenbrook:

    You make a classic mistake here. The modern dialogue has decided that science and technology are ‘mirror image twins’ irrevocably intertwined in their identities. As a historian of science and technology, I find it hard to convince academic colleagues in other disciplines that this is simply not true – but that is the case. Technology (from the Greek word Techné, which means ‘art’) is an expression of human creativity that is far older than science. Science may have added to the building blocks with which creative individuals design new technologies, but it is not fundamental to the creation of new technology. To give one modern example: neither Bill Gates nor Steve Jobs (not Stephen Wozniak, for that matter) had a scientific background. They were just kids playing with the latest bits and pieces of technology and programming tools when they created the new world of personal computing. (I know, I know, these were not the ‘first’: the Altair 8800 was a precursor, etc). While the parts encompass scientific advancements, the technologies of personal computing themselves were designed by individuals who were more like artists. In an older example, James Watt did not have a scientific background: he was an artisan. He had some understanding of science from working with scientists, but the Watt engine, an improvement on the Newcomen Engine (itself an improvement on the Savery Engine) was not a product of scientific study, and ‘old’ science had nothing to say about how it was used. It was a melding of the older technical-artisan tradition with a modicum of scientific understanding about air pressure and vacuums (the extent of scientific input is disputed). There is example after example that could be given, and in addition, examples of inventions that scientists said could never work on scientific principles. This was the experience of Edwin Howard Amstrong, who learned to despise physicists because they proclaimed FM radio to be impossible – after Armstrong had invented it!

    What controls how these technologies are used, and newer ones like nuclear reactors (which are purely scientific) is politics, not science. No new version of science will give us directions as to how to use technology: every technology ever invented can be either used or abused (including the shirt on your back), and it is up to society to establish controls. I am wondering exactly what technologies you think require some new idea of science? And if science is redefined to mean something else, does it not then lose its fundamental meaning and the concept become meaningless? Good science of the old fashioned kind, which involves a search for accuracy and (dare I say it, having mislabeled the image at the top of this thread?) truth, can give us solid information upon which difficult decisions may have to be made. Science cannot make our decisions for us. Science is kind of like a computer: it is a tool (and in addition an approach, and a philosophy of understanding) but it lacks sentience and wisdom.

  136. On the issue of quality, companies trying to achieve high quality use 6-Sigma methods. Lubos Motl recently proved that so called climate science research most often only reaches 2-sigma which in means they cannot come to any conclusions because the noise exceeds the signal, and only rarely do they 3-sigma which is still so full of error that it is basically junk.

    Motl says they must have 5-sigma results to ever be a real science. You can find his study on his blog “The Reference Frame” which is linked on the sidebar.

    Something to think about on the “quality” of scientific research.

  137. DirkH,

    Buddenbrooks was Thomas Mann’s first novel, one of my favourites and is generally considered one of the classics.

    Your ad homs are a very weak substitute for an argument.

    Smokey,

    You advocate surveillance on basis of terrorist attacks that killed thousands of people, but you wouldn’t advocate surveillance to avert (as yet futuristic, but eventually inevitable) threats, that could potentially kill billions of people? Isn’t there a disparity?

    davidmhoffer,

    The likes of al-Qaeda won’t be capable of developing futuristic weapons. Realistically, during this century at least, the PNS framework will apply to USA, China and EU. If these three major powers can achieve mutual understanding and mutual surveillance and restrictions, as deemed necessary, we are a long way towards averting the existential risks. A realistic horror scenario would be a cold war situation of distrust between China and the west. A few rogue states possibly have to be pressured to open themselves up to surveillance in the long term, but generally it would be rather restricted to a few specific fields, and would be something the common man would hardly notice in his life. This is not a joke, it is very much a real question of our survival on this planet. If you read on these subjects, let’s say experts like Bill Joy (the co-founder and chief scientist of Sun Microsystems) these concerns are shared by many people that have pondered and written on these questions, it’s nothing to do with stasi or marxism or taking your pants off. Very much to the contrary something akin to PNS is strongly advocated and substantially argued by some of the greatest thinkers in the business.

    Please upgrade your arguments.

  138. I like both Leif’s and Digsby’s responses to the silliness of Buddenbrook. I see this idea of PNS as Stalinism writ large. The truth be damned, actually, in favor of “policy preferences.” It is a way of (politically) overcoming the difficulties of establishing an exclusively technocratic state ruled by so-called “scientists” who are actually just hacks in favor of a particular point of view. And climate science is starting to look more and more like that these days.

  139. Dagfinn (11:38:02)

    Willis Eschenbach (11:26:24) :

    What Marxists? I was sure conservatives were at least as willing to implement surveillance to prevent terrorism. Was I wrong?

    The misnamed “Patriot Act”, passed by both Conservatives and Liberals (in the American sense) does that, and I’m not fond of that either. However, for a real police state, Marx is the go-to guy …

  140. Buddenbrook, you might have missed my question. I said:

    You say we need “new frameworks” to control the new technologies. I’m afraid I don’t understand what that means … what is a “new framework” when it is at home?

    Give us an example of some “new framework” that controlled some new technology. Then (if that framework has anything to do with science), please explain to us why we need some kind of new, post-normal science, why the plain old kind that has served us so well for so long is suddenly inadequate.

    Ravetz says we need a new kind of science because the facts are uncertain, the values are in dispute, and the stakes are high … but when in human history has that not been the case?

    If I understand you, you say we need a new kind of science because we now have the power to turn the planet into radioactive slag … but when has science ever prevented people from using new weapons, large or small?

  141. Willis,

    “for a real police state, Marx is the go-to guy”

    Actually it was Lenin that theoretically developed the concepts of vanguard party and revolutionary terror, the corner stones of communist dictatorships.

    In comparison Marx was an utopian with good intentions (in the context of 19th European society), but had a horribly misguided understanding of human nature.

  142. “Buddenbrook (13:55:42) :

    DirkH,

    Buddenbrooks was Thomas Mann’s first novel”

    thanks, that’s why i asked you whether you’re german.

    “, one of my favourites and is generally considered one of the classics.

    Your ad homs are a very weak substitute for an argument.”

    You didn’t even get the argument. Read up on the Stasi, the Staatssicherheitsdienst of the GDR to learn more about marxism and how to implement a police state. You know nothing about it.

  143. Willis Eschenbach (14:14:32) :

    I agree with you. And you’re not contradicting my point. Marxism has historically implied surveillance, but support for surveillance does not imply Marxism.

  144. Willis wrote: “However, science has not been what controlled and blunted the impact of the new technologies. New technologies have been controlled by new laws, not by some new kind of science. When guns were introduced, there arose new laws about who could use them. When guns made it to Japan, they were banned entirely. When we came up with nuclear weapons, we came up with nuclear non-proliferation treaties. When poison gases started to be used in warfare, we came up with the Geneva Conventions.”

    I’m sure the Japanese self defense forces have guns as do the police and the Yakuza so how did the gun ban work out in Japan?
    The nuclear non proliferation treaties seem to have been effective in preventing governments which don’t want nuclear weapons from acquiring them. The ones who do want them seem to have acquired them anyway.
    Poison gases have been banned? Who knew? Ask the Kurds and all the soldiers of western armies who were issued with NBC suits. Poison gases are much less useful as weapons when war involves manouever instead of trenches.
    The real deterrents to misuse of technology are that they might be used against those who would do so.

    Love your work, Willis, thanks.

  145. This Ravetz seems to have used up a lot of bandwidth here. After thinking about it for a while and learning more about his background and life I think we can succinctly sum up Ravetz and his ilk with one word – EVIL.

  146. David:
    “What is Quality?” that was supposed to be rhetorical.

    It is a vast question which could end up sending one to the looney bin; Just ask Robert Persig.

    My background is in a mfr’g environment where it is relatively easy to define/use.

    When you get into subjective areas such as art, or the exercise I’m going through right now, which is what are good KPIs on classroom instruction in order to determine what is a quality teaching experience, it becomes a bitch.

    With respect to Climate, the quality aspect would be applied to the raw data and pretty much everybody on this site knows the diffciulties associated with getting “good” data. It is the ambiguity in the term which provides the opportunity for the manipulation we’ve all seen.

    “The simple answer is quality is relative to your goal.” I think you’re saying much what I was referring to when quality is how a product/service measures against stated outcomes.

    “If the goal is to understand the cause / effect relationship of anthropogenic inputs into the atmosphere of C02 then science needs to be insulated from politics, not merged within it.”

    In broader terms, data needs to be insulated from external influences. Politics being one of, if not the most distorting, amongst many others. Again, the opportunity for distotion to meet one’s political objectives. In addtiion to the data, the process must be subject to quality checks. It

    Like I said, “What is Quality?” is a very broad topic and fantastic discussion point. One which cannot be objectively resolved to a simple definition. Because Quality, like beauty is defined by the eyes of the beholder.

  147. @ Willis

    I realize that it would be difficult for you to rewrite the text of your post to put a stop these endless comments from Scotsmen, who, for some peculiar reason, seem anxious to identify with Dr Ravets (and not so anxious to read the rest of the thread to see that they have been beaten to it many times already), so how about changing the image accompanying it to something more appropriate and less provocative of such comments like this:

  148. Willis,

    Here is what I can do for “Quality” I must say it is a difficult concept, to say the least, and that for those who say they know what it is are ignorant or fools, I must say that I know longer declare I know 100% what quality is, but declare my understanding of the concept. no wonder why quality of science is so poor for climate study.
    also declare that there is a correlation to the use of the Prefrontal_cortex
    and to use Quality, conscience, durability, Permanence, Integrity, Morality.
    Some one at CRU released the info because of this list.

    Quality is ,conscience(ko~.sja~s@) , durability, (Permanence by virtue).

    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/quality
    In common vernacular use, quality means a high degree of excellence (“a quality product”), a degree of excellence or the lack of it (“work of average quality”)

    quality (comparative more quality, superlative most quality)
    Positive quality
    Comparative more quality
    Superlative most quality

    1. Being of good worth, well made, fit for purpose.
    We only sell quality products.

    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/durability
    Permanence by virtue of the power to resist stress or force.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscience
    distinguishes whether one’s prospective actions are right or wrong by reference to norms (principles and rules) . In psychological terms conscience is often described as leading to feelings of remorse when a human does things that go against his/her *moral values, and to feelings of rectitude or integrity when actions conform to such norms.[1] The extent to which conscience informs *moral judgment before an action and whether such *moral judgments are, or should be, based wholly in reason has occasioned debate through much of history.

    * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morality
    inverse relationship between religion and crime,[30] with many studies establishing this beneficial connection.[31] Indeed, a meta-analysis of 60 studies on religion and crime concluded, “religious behaviors and beliefs exert a deterrent effect on individuals’ criminal behavior”.[32]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrity
    integrity is the quality of having a sense of honesty and truthfulness in regard to the motivations for one’s actions.

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

    Tim L

    Willis, mods, Anthony,
    What I listed could be an entire post, we all have been involved in this at school, work, bloggs, etc.

  149. “scientific truth was something which we had tried to falsify and had been unable to falsify. Yet.”

    Epistemology review-
    You seem to be describing ‘weak implication’.
    Truth concerns the law of identity, which single axiom is sufficient and necessary for an objective metaphysics.

    Examine the nature of truth via a simple example:

    If you put sodium chloride in water at room temperature it will dissolve and make salty water.
    That’s your weak implication stated as a logical proposition.

    If you do not have salty water, you didn’t put in sodium chloride.
    That’s the logical falsificaton.
    If you put sodium chloride in and get no salty water, that is empirical falsification.

    If you put no sodium chloride in and you get salty water AND if you put no sodium chloride in but do get salty water, that is empirical and logical proof that there is no identity.

    If you put sodium chloride in and get salty water always AND if you don’t put in sodium chloride and the results is never salty water, then you have proven the existence of an identity, which you then give a name.

    Science dies the same way renaissances always have died – enlightenment requires explicit understanding of the principles it depends on.
    When you forget what truth is – when it becomes relative –
    call it pns or ad hoc or situational or divine revelation – if you can’t correctly define what truth is- you have already lost your grip on reality. This is the historical record. PNS is nothing new; it’s a classic symptom of dereliction.
    Any student knows the next phase is consolidation of the many small power groups into a monolithic one.

  150. Mike Borgelt (14:50:22)

    Willis wrote: “However, science has not been what controlled and blunted the impact of the new technologies. New technologies have been controlled by new laws, not by some new kind of science. When guns were introduced, there arose new laws about who could use them. When guns made it to Japan, they were banned entirely. When we came up with nuclear weapons, we came up with nuclear non-proliferation treaties. When poison gases started to be used in warfare, we came up with the Geneva Conventions.”

    I’m sure the Japanese self defense forces have guns as do the police and the Yakuza so how did the gun ban work out in Japan?

    The ban was under the Shogunate, in the late 1500’s … worked well back then.

    The nuclear non proliferation treaties seem to have been effective in preventing governments which don’t want nuclear weapons from acquiring them. The ones who do want them seem to have acquired them anyway.

    The NPTs have slowed, but certainly not stopped, the spread of nuclear weapons.

    Poison gases have been banned? Who knew? Ask the Kurds and all the soldiers of western armies who were issued with NBC suits. Poison gases are much less useful as weapons when war involves manouever instead of trenches.

    Who knew? Well, all of the WWII soldiers who didn’t have to face them as did the soldiers in WWI.

    The real deterrents to misuse of technology are that they might be used against those who would do so.

    Love your work, Willis, thanks.

    Thanks to you as well. My point was that a new kind of science, or even the old kind of science, has never slowed the spread of destructive technologies. Only laws and agreements have done that. So I don’t understand why Buddenbrook thinks that PNS will stop the spread of said technolgies. (I’m not even sure if that is what he thinks, it’s kinda hard to tell.)

  151. Mike Borgelt (14:52:23)

    This Ravetz seems to have used up a lot of bandwidth here. After thinking about it for a while and learning more about his background and life I think we can succinctly sum up Ravetz and his ilk with one word – EVIL.

    I never ascribe to evil what is easily explained by the more common human frailties …

  152. Let’s take another example to highlight the point:

    Francis Fukuyama, a key Reagan Administration contributor to the formulation of the Reagan Doctrine, and a leading neo-conservative philosopher, is a strong advocate of something akin to a PNS framework (I use this loose concept, as these terms have not been set in stone in any official dialogue, as of yet).
    Fukuyama is a fierce critic of transhumanism, and has espoused his views in several articles and in his 2002 book “Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution”. In Fukuyama’s view the 21st century technological revolution will force us to the politicization of certain fields of technological research on an ethical and ideological basis alone, even if you discount the existential risks. Questions such as what it means to be human, how could such and such technologies change our conception of what it means to be human, and what will be the larger consequences for humanity will inevitably and inherently be linked with the research.
    In such contexts the scientists will be forced to the additional role of spokepersons on such ethical questions of vast societal and political impact.

    I’m not sure whether Ravetz would accept Fukuyama’s views inside his framework, but I think the basic challenges to the traditional framework are similar.

    Namely, how do scientists communicate to policy makers and the larger society the uncertainty, risks and fundamental social concerns involved. For Fukuyama the main concern is presented by the genetic alteration of the human species that will become possible during the first half of this century. There will be many people advocating such research in the hope of longer life spans, healthier lives, treatment to cancer, depression etc.
    Fukuyama opposes open research in this field, because he fears it won’t stop in any one point once the Pandora’s box is opened, and eventually the research will go beyond humanity.
    When such concerns are raised the scientists can’t restrict themselves to impassive and neutral observers, but are required as experts to part-take in the larger communication and become politicized.
    They no longer are, nor can they remain the popperian figures in their clean white coats busying themselves in their laboratories and nothing else demanded or required of them. In such instances the scientists have to move post normal science.

  153. Bruce (15:11:09)

    Why the Scots Greys (pic)?

    Man, I never dreamed that the picture would kick up such a firestorm. Ummm … I wanted a picture that exemplified soldiers going “once again unto the breach”. So I used Google Images to search for that, and it returned this as the third image. So sue me … the guys are headed into the breach, that’s what mattered to me.

    (Of course, no true Scotsman would sue me …)

  154. Buddenbrook (15:28:14) :
    Let’s take another example to highlight the point:
    There will be many people advocating such research in the hope of longer life spans, healthier lives, treatment to cancer, depression etc.
    Fukuyama opposes open research in this field, because he fears it won’t stop in any one point once the Pandora’s box is opened, and eventually the research will go beyond humanity.

    Life will eventually go beyond humanity anyway. Most species only life a small fraction of geologic time.
    If post-humans live longer, have fewer diseases, depressions, etc. What is wrong with that?

  155. Buddenbrook (15:28:14) : edit

    Let’s take another example to highlight the point:

    Francis Fukuyama, a key Reagan Administration contributor to the formulation of the Reagan Doctrine, and a leading neo-conservative philosopher, is a strong advocate of something akin to a PNS framework (I use this loose concept, as these terms have not been set in stone in any official dialogue, as of yet).
    Fukuyama is a fierce critic of transhumanism, and has espoused his views in several articles and in his 2002 book “Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution”. In Fukuyama’s view the 21st century technological revolution will force us to the politicization of certain fields of technological research on an ethical and ideological basis alone, even if you discount the existential risks. Questions such as what it means to be human, how could such and such technologies change our conception of what it means to be human, and what will be the larger consequences for humanity will inevitably and inherently be linked with the research. …

    OK, OK, I give up. When you start talking about people who are “fierce critics of transhumanism”, and about “politicization of certain fields of technological research on an ethical and ideological basis alone, even if you discount the existential risks”, and about “questions such as what it means to be human”, I know when I’m beaten. Whatever it is that all of that means, I concede the entire arena of transhumanism and existential risks and what it means to be human to you.

    However, next you say:

    Fukuyama opposes open research in [genetic engineering], because he fears it won’t stop in any one point once the Pandora’s box is opened, and eventually the research will go beyond humanity.

    When such concerns are raised the scientists can’t restrict themselves to impassive and neutral observers, but are required as experts to part-take in the larger communication and become politicized.

    They no longer are, nor can they remain the popperian figures in their clean white coats busying themselves in their laboratories and nothing else demanded or required of them. In such instances the scientists have to move post normal science.

    That, I’ll have to say “no way” to. There has never, as far as I know, been any way to stop scientists from investigating all aspects of the planet. Even if the US stopped every bit of genetic engineering research, does he think the Chinese and the rest of the planet would stop? Pandora’s box was opened long ago in the time of the Greeks, that’s the point of the legend. We’ve been bitten by the bug of the quest for scientific knowledge, and the only option open to us is to live with the sting …

    Using an impossibility (stopping genetic research) as an argument that scientists “are required” to “become politicized” is post-normal science at its best. Don’t concern yourself with the fact that genetic research cannot and will not be stopped, because being concerned with facts is just so last century …

    You don’t seem to get it. The danger is not genetic engineering. It is that your new breed of “scientist-politicians” will debase science forever. Politicians lie. I don’t want scientists to be liars or to push political arguments, that the politician’s job. If scientists do that nobody will ever trust them, just as they don’t trust the post-normal climate scientists now.

    I don’t want scientists advancing “scary stories” to achieve some political end, as Stephen Schneider passionately argues in the best post-normal fashion. I don’t want them making “little mention of any doubts [they] might have”, as Schneider calls for them to do.

    Call me crazy, but I want scientists to tell the truth as clearly as they can, doubts and warts and all, and leave the lying to the politicians. Fukayama is concerned about genetic engineering creating human hybrids … so instead he wants to create transhuman scientist-politician hybrids, which are a much greater danger to our way of life.

    Brilliant plan, truly worthy of a post-normal scientist …

  156. Leif,

    “If post-humans live longer, have fewer diseases, depressions, etc. What is wrong with that?”

    The question is currently too complex for me to offer any definite opinion on it. If you want to know Fukuyama’s objections, I recommend the book, it’s an interesting read. To name one of the objections, such development could potentially create an upper class of super humans, as the genetic treatments would be highly costly and access would initially be highly restricted. Mostly to multimillionaires and other figures high on the ladder.
    And we couldn’t know for sure what side effects such treatments could have. If you alter a human specimen to have a 200 year life span, 180 IQ and so forth, what else will you alter as a side effect(s)? How would the new overmen view the lesser of us? And so forth and so forth the philosophical ponderings on the risks and uncertainties involved could go on for thousands of pages. Clearly an intelligent person should acknowledge that this is not merely a paradigm change, but a narrative change?
    Bill Joy, I mentioned earlier, has written an interesting article on these questions: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/8.04/joy.html?pg=1&topic=&topic_set= (note that it has 11 pages!)

    But to get back to Fukuyama. My point was to offer an example of a well known conservative thinker, who is no stranger to “PNS”.
    Willis and others were pretty much equating it with marxism, which of course is a lot of nonsense.

  157. On quality – a definition I remember from business in the 80s was “conformance to requirements”. So you set criteria for something and then evaluated how these were being acheived. Not at all complex or abstract.

    In everyday usage one of the issues is that the criteria or the evaluation may not be explicit. For example one might say a garment is “quality” but not know what has triggered that response. A bit of inquiry should illuminate the matter fairly easily and indeed the criteria may change according to an individual’s preference.

    In the case of scientific work I think quality would be relatively straight forward to define and evaluate in a dispassionate manner. I am totally unconvinced by PNS and I think it is an intellectually corrosive concept.

  158. Buddenbrook;
    The likes of al-Qaeda won’t be capable of developing futuristic weapons. Realistically, during this century at least, the PNS framework will apply to USA, China and EU.>>

    Wow. I hardly know where to begin.

    First you argued that draconian measures may be required to keep some technologies from becoming wide spread and public, and then you argue that only the USA, China and EU could even do it because of the massive resources required. Pick one or the other but don’t switch sides when it suits you.

    Now let’s talk some science, starting with the A-bomb. Get yourself down to an antique car museum. Poke your head under the hood of a 1945 Cadillac and have a look. Remind yourself as you look at the clunky relays, the mechanical ignition system and so on, that this was “state of the art” technology when the first nuclear device was tested. Before you protest that what the Manhatten Project had available to them was more advanced, it was, but not by much. The A-bomb is easily within the grasp of most 3rd world countries on a technical basis, they mostly lack sufficient supply of highly enriched uranium.

    In regard to the capabilities of China, the EU and the US, you are again dead wrong. The United States holds more world wide patents that any other country. Second is Israel. Japan, India, Brazil, Taiwan, South Korea, Canada and many others have leading edge technical industries that rival China, EU and the US. Further, knowledge is no longer the domain of governments. The specialized knowledge that leads to break through technology rests mostly with private companies. NASA doesn’t build space shuttles or satellites, they assemble them. The high tech pieces are designed and built by sub-contractors. Even the auto makers are only assemblers. They control the over all design, but the specialized design and manufacture of everything from tail lights to on board computers comes from sub-contractors.

    Pharmaceutical companies know more about the human body and what various agents can do to it than most governments. Despite massive embargoes, Sadam Hussein managed to build and use chemical weapons against his own people. Don’t even get me started on the size of lab required to start fiddling with anthrax. There are start ups fiddling with everything from designer genes to nano-technology to powered exoskeletons.

    So I am afraid that Pandoras box has long since been opened and its contents dispersed far and wide. The next break through could come from a controlled lab at the center for disease control in Atlanta, or from inside a makeshift boxcar hidden in an African jungle.

    The notion that draconian measures could put a halt to this should be as embarassing for you as the fact that you continue to argue your position without pants. The stupidity of trying to suppress and control these kinds of advances gaurantees that the really evil people will acquire them first, and that we will lack the knowledge to develop counter measures in time.

    Your arguments amount to nothing more than a convoluted justification for draconian measures, suppression of knowledge, government control, a police state and an incredibly naive belief that once granted those powers, the people who hold them will, for even a moment, consider relinquishing them. This is coupled with the even more naive belief that the next break through will only come from a massively funded government lab.

    Innovation doesn’t come from governments or even large corporations. It comes from small groups of people who have an idea and obtain the resources to develop it. If they can’t get their ideas on the table in the free world, they will will go elsewhere. Why are you trying to facilitate that?

  159. Buddenbrook (16:30:42)

    But to get back to Fukuyama. My point was to offer an example of a well known conservative thinker, who is no stranger to “PNS”.
    Willis and others were pretty much equating it with marxism, which of course is a lot of nonsense.

    Ravetz was a Marxist, or a neo-Marxist, I can’t keep the flavors straight. He never made any secret of it. The Usual Font of Misinformation (Wikipedia) says:

    Ravetz grew up in a left-wing family and although never a member of the American Communist Party he was what was then called a fellow traveler. He went to England on a Fulbright Scholarship, and had returned to complete his studies, marry, and take a job when in 1955 his U.S. passport was withdrawn. It was returned in 1958 after a ruling by the Supreme Court, and he has since visited the U.S.A. many times starting in 1962.

    From The Marxist Critique of Capitalist Science:

    Everett Mendelsohn and Jerry Ravetz were both Marxist-influenced undergraduates who gravitated in the Fifties from biology and mathematics, respectively, to embark on their distinguished careers as activist-historians.

    I also find, in the Encyclopedia of International Political Economy:

    Marxism and socialism have also been entering the debate, with authors considering how the environment should be included in their more traditional analyses: one result has been the development of political ecology. As part of the research agenda, the role of science in society is being reassessed with implications for the role of both ecologists and economists in environmental policy formation (see, for example, the work of Silvio Funtowicz and Jerry Ravetz on ‘post-normal science’ – Funtowicz and Ravetz, 1990)

    In addition to being a Marxist, Ravetz is also the developer of post-normal science. I suppose one could believe those two are not related, but that would require that we ignore the facts … oh, wait, I forgot, facts are unimportant, quality is our new goal. I guess showing that someone who is a conservative has been seduced by PNS is high quality information that shows that there’s nothing of Marxism in PNS …

  160. From Joe Bastardi
    Something from my pro site, but I thought you would like to ponder this:

    SOME PRETTY COMPELLING EVIDENCE ON WHAT IS DRIVING CO2 The table below shows c02 increases on Mt Loa since 1959. One can notice the spiking of co2 when el ninos occur, and how the co2 increases were higher when the PDO went warm. This further supports my idea that we are going to get our answer as to what is causing the warming.. cycles of c02 and the evidence that the co2 RESPONDS to warming not causes is is pretty straightforward with co-ordinating the data. The real kick in the teeth of co2 being the driver is the big fall with the Pinitubo cooling! Anyway look for yourself

    check this out: COLD PDO YEARS year ppm/yr 1959 0.95 1960 0.51 1961 0.95 1962 0.69 1963 0.73 el nino starts 1964 0.29 el nino ends 1965 0.98el nino starts 1966 1.23el nino ends 1967 0.75 1968 1.02 el nino starts 1969 1.34 el nino 1970 1.02el nino ends 1971 0.82 1972 1.76 el nino starts 1973 1.18 el nino ends 1974 0.78 1975 1.10 1976 0.92 el nino starts

    WARM PDO STARTING: 1977 2.09 el nino ends, starts 1978 1.31 el nino ends 1979 1.68 1980 1.80 1981 1.43 1982 0.72 el nino starts 1983 2.16 el nino ends 1984 1.37 1985 1.24 1986 1.51 el nino starts 1987 2.33 el nino 1988 2.09 el nino ends 1989 1.27 1990 1.31 1991 1.02 el nino starts 1992 0.43 PINITUBO! EARTH COOLS!!!! el nino ends 1993 1.35 1994 1.90 el nino starts 1995 1.98 el nino ends 1996 1.19 1997 1.98 el nino starts 1998 2.93 super nino ends 1999 0.94 2000 1.74 2001 1.59 2002 2.56 nino starts 2003 2.29 nino ends 2004 1.55 el nino starts 2005 2.52 el nino ends 2006 1.70 el nino starts 2007 2.16 el nino ends 2008 1.66 Cold PDO starting 2009 2.02 nino starts 2010 —– nino ends when you put if against the global temps, the co2 is plainly following the Pacific.. the new cold pdo should see a flattening out of the rate of rise http://www.drroyspencer.com/latest-global-temperatures/

    It would appear the co2 spikes are occurring with warming that is caused by the natural drivers of the warm PDO and the el nino. The most damming of the evidence against co2 being the driver was the drop around 1992 with Pinitubo cooling To the rationale, objective person, does this look like co2 with its erratic up and downs around the times of el ninos, is the driver, or the driven. The answer is obvious, it is responding to spikes that occur with warming episodes, the driven, not the driver. You can see the response in co2 with and after the nino. So my idea of seeing how all this turns out using objective satellite measurements with the cold pdo seems perfectly logical. To NOT see this as a possibility, if not a likelihood, and not being willing to see how this plays out seems disingenuous to me. Another little fact that escapes people, or is not talked about. Many more people live within 40 degrees in the equator than within 40 degrees of the poles. Why. Because its easier to live where its warm. Combine this with the fact that we never hear what a defined optimum temp for the earth is, or for how much co2 we should have, should ring alarm bells. The trees you see outside did not pull earth out of the ground, but through the cyclical nature of growth pull nutrients out of the AIR and ground, and much of the weight of that tree had its origin in THE AIR. But these side issues to me are not the main issue. A forecast has been made by me for the next 20 years, and its a simple experiment, backed up with sound ideas on this. It is not ridiculous, but instead not understanding why this should occur, and not allowing this to play out, is what is ridiculous. thanks for reading, ciao for now.

    http://www.accuweather.com/ukie/bastardi-europe-blog.asp?partner=accuweather

  161. I view “PNS” as an independent phenomena (i.e. it is not a social construct that exists only on paper) that is significant, is very much real and will play a crucial role during the course of this century.

    When I first came across Ravetz’s writings I had misgivings and doubts, especially when Ravetz’s associate Mike Hulme had so vilely abused the term, using it as a carte blanche to obfuscate and corrupt in his post-modernist climate manifesto “Why We Disagree about Climate Change”. But then reading more on Ravetz’s thoughts I noticed much that made sense and was important, and many similarities with other thinkers that I had read (such as I have mentioned Joy, Bostrom, Fukuyama, Garreau and many others) became apparent. These were also linked to topics that I had been studying myself. So while lot is still unclear and undefined, personally I think it evident that there exist a new emerging framework that many different thinkers from different perspectives have touched upon, and which should urgently be developed further. To this body of understanding Dr. Ravetz has made a significant contribution.

    To call his contribution marxism just because he was a marxist decades ago, that is nonsense. Popper would say it’s a poor hypothesis, supported with no evidence whatsoever.

    Have you read Einstein’s book on his political views? The greatest scientists of the 20th century was a socialist and an internationalist. His political views were naive, uninformed and silly. Didn’t affect his views on science, did it?

    To repeatively bring up the marxist card is cheap. Please stick to the actual debate re: PNS.

  162. Buddenbrook (17:55:08) :
    “To this body of understanding Dr. Ravetz has made a significant contribution.”

    I agree, but I don’t like what he advocates:

    I find Ravetz’s writings to be a successor to Lenin’s.. as Ravetz is advancing a thought process designed to enslave billions of people under the heel of socialism, using any pretext of an emergency. All he needed was the bogus threat, CO2, to launch it.

    It cost millions of lives to overthrow Lenins socialist dream, but thanks to the Internet, we now can send photonic ideas towards socialists, not bullets.

  163. R. de Haan (17:38:53) : edit

    From Joe Bastardi
    Something from my pro site, but I thought you would like to ponder this:

    SOME PRETTY COMPELLING EVIDENCE ON WHAT IS DRIVING CO2

    I would like to ponder it, but not on a thread about Ravetz and post-normal science … please post it to a relevant thread.

    Thanks,

    w.

  164. Buddenbrook,

    If you took the Thomas Kuhn out of Jerry Ravetz, what would be left? Nothing but political posturing. Kuhn was interesting in the sixties and seventies. He posed challenges that were fun to answer. But all that is over now. All you have in a Ravetz is a political thinker trying to find a place for himself in a debate about science. But everything that he has posted on this site screams that he has not a clue about science or scientific method. Yes, yes, I know, he is a POSTNORMAL scientist, at least to you. BS.

  165. Willis Eschenbach (14:23:57)

    Still waiting for an answer … I’ll keep asking …

    Buddenbrook, you might have missed my question. I had asked:

    You say we need “new frameworks” to control the new technologies. I’m afraid I don’t understand what that means … what is a “new framework” when it is at home?

    Give us an example of some “new framework” using some kind of “new science” that actually controlled some new technology. Then please explain to us why we need some kind of new, post-normal science for that framework, why the plain old kind that has served us so well for so long is suddenly inadequate.

    Ravetz says we need a new kind of science because the facts are uncertain, the values are in dispute, and the stakes are high … but when in human history has that not been the case?

    If I understand you, you say we need a new kind of science because we now have the power to turn the planet into radioactive slag … but when has science ever prevented people from using new weapons, large or small?

  166. ‘Ravetz says we need a new kind of science’
    ‘you say we need a new kind of science’

    There is only science and not science, truth or lie.

  167. Buddenbrook;
    Have you read Einstein’s book on his political views? The greatest scientists of the 20th century was a socialist and an internationalist. His political views were naive, uninformed and silly. Didn’t affect his views on science, did it?>>

    Per your point above, his politics and his science did not affect each other.
    The greatest scientific mind of the 20th century (per your words above) could keep these separate (per your words above). His science was science and his politics were politics. He knew it and the politicians knew it. Now you stand there with no pants on, proposing to seize power from both, and pretending that PNS somehow makes that legitimate. You are exposed for what you are, a fraud. Having no talent as a scientist, nor as a politician, you attempt instead to con both into allowing you to sit in judgment over them.

    Einstein, like many of the Jews who worked on the Manhatten Project, was a refugee from anti-semitism in Germany. When Time Magazine printed their 100 greatest minds of all time issue, they noted that World War II ended with German scientists only a few months behind the Americans in building an atomic bomb. As they noted then, and as I repeat to you now in the hopes that you will get off your sanctimonious high horse, had the enormous amount of scientific talent that fled the Nazis stayed in Germany instead of coming to America, it could have well been London, Moscow and Washington that we speak of today instead of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    Which returns me to a point I made in an earlier comment. When science is suppressed and controlled, it matters not if the PNS rears its ugly head along side the hammer and sickle or the swastika. It is a blatant attempt to justify repression and control people. Those who have the capacity to produce brilliant science will flee into the arms of who ever will take them and provide them the means to do their research, be their name America or Al Qaida.

    It saddens me that I must defend your right to drivel aloud. But it is my right also to call it what it is. You can have your pants back. At first it was fun demolishing your arguments. But now I understand that you mean what you say and there are fools who will listen to you. It is no longer fun. It is a responsibility.

  168. i think it’s hilarious that scientology ads and green investment ads are chosen by google to be shown on WUWT. THey obviously think we’re all gullible idiots who have no idea. the irony is of course self-apparent – as is the sun in the sky

    REPLY: Yep, just as ironic as the super spy toys that appear on your link http://www.whatreallyhappened.com – heh, -A

  169. Some comments on the Eschenbach, Dagfinn and Buddenbrook:

    (Apologies for a rather long post but I am hoping it might refocus some issues…)

    Uncertainty and Urgency:
    The main concern with PNS analysis is that it encourages the policisation of the scientific process and the dismissal of discussion of the evidence-base in a shift to the ‘value-base’.
    The ‘Uncertainty’ and ‘urgency’ of the PNS definition excuses the promotion of (pre-scientific) apocalyptic alarm legitimated by the authority of science but yet unsupported by the balance of (scientific) evidence.

    Extended Peer Community:
    Ravetz’s ‘extended peer community’ is used by Ravetz and followers to justify scientist-activism and the involvement of activist organisations, as well as other stake-holders, not just in review, but in the very processes of science.

    The link with Marxism:
    As I explain elsewhere, the principle affinity with neo-Marxist social science is summarised in Marx’s own Thesis 11, which is his epitath at Highgate cemetary:

    Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.

    This was widely interpreted by marxist scholars as meaning that “political action as the only truth of philosophy” and “philosophy’s validity is in how it informed action.”

    The link with Schneider:
    According to the evidence presented so far at WUWT, the link with Schneider is at best an affinity. Schneider (as Hansen) always advocated scientist-activism, even from his Ice Age Alarmism days. Ravetz’s philosphy of Enviro/ClimateChange Science supported this, but also answers a problem that had emerged for Schneider and others (after the EDF and Ehrlich etc) in the late 1980s and early 1990s in pushing this new form of enviro-alarmism. As this 1988 article by Revkin shows, Schneider was presented with the problem of advocating urgent action on uncertain knowledge — but resolved it mostly by resorting to the ‘precautionary principle’ — as he does to this day.
    In the late 1980s and early 1990s Ravetz began to offer a new narrative to meet the needs of Ehrlich-esque scientists including Climate Change Alarmists. So, Willis, its not so much “coincidental” but an affinity…or that Ravetz was marketing a new rationale for what they were doing, but it was Hulme, not Scheneider, who took it up.

    PNS is not Kulnian but post-Kulnian:
    Dagfinn and Buddenbook are at risk of confusing PNS with Kuln’s theory of scienific revolutions. Ravetz is not claiming that the post-normal sciences (ie Enviro Sciences) are in a state of ‘revolution’such that we are moving to a new paradigm, as per Kuln. At best we could say that he is doing to Kuln what Trotsky did to Marx, that is, he is proposing a “permanent revolution” with no anticipation of ever settling into a new paradigm inwhich normal science could then start over (as per after Newton and Einstein). This is a departure from Kuln, who defended-to-the-end his ‘realism’ against Post-modernist interpretations that pushed towards absolute relativism.

    Buddenbook: Mike Hulme had so vilely abused the term [PNS], using it as a carte blanche to obfuscate and corrupt in his post-modernist climate manifesto “Why We Disagree about Climate Change”.

    I see no abuse of the term in Hulme’s book, nor in his Guardian article, and so it is Hulme who provides the best evidence of the dangers of Ravetz’s Philos of Sci. It may be that Ravetz is politely refraining from criticising the most prominent promoter of his theory, but I cant see any grounds for criticism. Perhaps Ravetz can clarify?

    Strategy against PNS:
    My view is that we should avoid purple prose and exaggeration of the error of our opponents. We should not say that PNS is Marxist just because Ravetz once was. What is more tricky is to avoiding the polarisation that they impose on us. An example of this is when they say “you say PNS is all a marxist plot.” It is not, but yet the approach of Ravetz to the natural sciences bares striking similarities to the marxist approach to science in its support of scientific activism – and it has corresponding dangers. I explain and support this more moderate postion here.

  170. berniel (22:29:05) :

    Both Ravetz and Hulme seem to have had some revelations recently. Hulme’s book and the 2007 piece from the Guardian might not represent his current views adequately.

  171. Willis Eschenbach (17:26:55) :

    “In addition to being a Marxist, Ravetz is also the developer of post-normal science. I suppose one could believe those two are not related, but that would require that we ignore the facts”

    I don’t believe you really mean that establishing two facts proves that there is a causal relationship between them.

  172. Dagfinn (23:50:20) : edit

    Willis Eschenbach (17:26:55) :

    “In addition to being a Marxist, Ravetz is also the developer of post-normal science. I suppose one could believe those two are not related, but that would require that we ignore the facts”

    I don’t believe you really mean that establishing two facts proves that there is a causal relationship between them.

    No, you are correct, I don’t mean that. I mean that the similarities between some of the tenets of Marxism and some of the tenets of PNS, along with the fact that Ravetz grew up as an adherent of the one and is the developer of the other, establishes a preponderance of evidence that they are related.

    Look, I don’t think PNS is dangerous because it has Marxist overtones, or because Ravetz is or was a Marxist. Those are irrelevancies. I think it is dangerous because, like Marxism, it is seductive and is easily “twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools”. The memes of “the risks are HUGE, I tell you, HUGE” and “we absolutely must make a decision RIGHT NOW” are endemic among the AGW supporters. But they are leading the discussion astray.

    There is no real urgency. Hansen said in 1988 that by now we’d be in sea water up to our knees, and what has happened? Nothing. In 1990 the “doom is only 20 years away” statements were coming thick and fast, as they are today. In 2008, Prince Charles said we only had 18 months to prevent disaster. The hysteria level is rising … but still there is no real urgency.

    Nor are the risks huge. The analyses that claim this look only at worst-case scenario costs, and then multiply them by three or ten, then make up imaginary costs, then use MER rather than PPP to get fantastically high emission scenarios, then don’t discount future costs back to the present, and then say “See, I told you, HUGE”. In reality, we’ve seen a couple degrees rise since the Little Ice Age, and most of the results have been beneficial.

    In response to these classic PNS claims of “risks large, decisions urgent”, people have been stampeded into asinine actions like the Kyoto protocol. Even had that sucker worked, its proponents admitted that it would not make a measurable difference … billions and billions of dollars poured down a rathole, for nothing. I lay that at the feet of Ravetz and PNS.

    Like I said, PNS is seductive, and it is being used in the service of greed and as a quasi-religious justification for the payment of carbon indulgences and alleviation of guilt. It lets people pretend that they’re doing something for the environment, when in fact they are doing something destructive. That’s dangerous. It pushes people into making decisions far, far before they are required. That’s dangerous. It has cost us untold billions of dollars already, and if the PNS advocates are successful, it will cause untold suffering to the poorest of the poor. Those are the folks that need energy, and at present that means carbon dioxide. That’s very dangerous. The wealthy nations can afford this nonsense, we have a huge buffer. A guy living on a dollar a day can’t. That’s lethal.

    That’s the issue with PNS to me, not Marxism. Marxism is an interesting sidelight, and the similarities between PNS and Marxism are not immaterial, but that is all far, far from the core of the problem with PNS.

  173. Dagfinn:

    Both Ravetz and Hulme seem to have had some revelations recently. Hulme’s book and the 2007 piece from the Guardian might not represent his current views adequately.

    This might be true, but my interest is in how the alarmist bubble corrupted climate science before the bubble burst in Dec 2009 — and so in the role of Ravetz, Hulme and their ideas and strategies in this corruption. Any statements after the game was up needs to be taken in a different light.

    But, anyway, what change has there been? We have covered Ravetz’s ‘revelations,’ including his revelation that sceptical bloggers are in fact the extended peer community. But I would be interested for you to point to some evidence of Hulme’s change of tune — noting that his concern over the ineffectiveness of exaggeration claims (including by the IPCC) are invoked in his PNS Guardian article (see, similarly, Von Storch’s PNS article back in 1999) as they are in publications and statements dating back some years prior to this.

    Here is what I see as the critical way that PNS fitting into this controversy: There were various ways that Alarmists attempted to eschew the proper scientific debate over the evidence-base: the precautionary principle; only by presenting scary senarios will govs act; the science is settled; sceptics are the mouthpiece of Big Oil etc. Each of these draw on various traditions, motifs and strategies, from biblical apocalypsism to modern marketing ‘spin, but then we also have Hulme’s used of Ravetz’s PNS. Where does this come from? It is not at all from Kuln, but, (so I argue on my blog) from the ‘thesis 11’ science-as-activism approach that prevailed among social sciences ‘new’ marxism in English (and Australian and French) universities during the 1970s & 80s.

    Now, if Hulme recanted on PNS, that would be of interest. If he expresses some contrition over his abuse of his position as a public scientist and his corruption of the public scientific discourse (in the name of PNS or whatever) then that also would be a change of tune that would be of interest to me and, more broadly, to this discussion.

  174. Willis Eschenbach (02:12:33) :

    Thanks, that’s helpful, and I agree with everything you say about AGW hysteria. I read about PNS many years ago, and filed it mentally under “potentially interesting”. I still think it poses some interesting questions but is not necessarily the answer. Also, I think it’s primarily a post-rationalization rather than the cause of all this madness. Here’s a radically simplified dialog to illustrate:

    Politicians: “How much will the global average temperature rise by 2100”?

    Normal scientists: “We have no idea. Scientifically, there is no way to make that assessment.”

    Politicians: “Do it anyway. Here’s $100 million. If you don’t do it, someone else will”.

    (Normal scientists do puzzle-solving for a few years by building climate models.)

    Normal scientists: “The temperature will increase by 4 plus or minus 2 degrees celsius”.

    Other, envious normal scientists: “You can’t do that! There’s no scientific basis for it”.

    Normal scientists: “It’s PNS, stupid!”

    (Normal scientists upgrade themselves to post-normal.)

  175. I would descride Ratz as Evil. He can’t win the game fairly so he tries to change the rules. The World and his Dog knows this AGW nonsense is an attempted tax-grab. If Hulme was writing essays about Post Normal ‘Science’ in 2007 (in the face of strong questioning) I would suggest it was assimilated into his mind as a guiding anti-principle long before. That’s why it’s so obvious to everyone that AGW is a lie. Mr.Ravetz can’t understand it but his continued use of the PN-‘S’ mantra will kill AGW. The only reason Keynesianism survives is that it is never discussed.

  176. Aargh (15:13:38) :

    Truth incarnate.

    berniel (22:29:05) :

    With regards to Marxists, it is imperative to call a spade, a spade. The MO of such types is to infiltrate and pollute by any means. Falsifying reality is taken literally to the extremes as you point out in Marx’s own epitaph:

    “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.”

    Such sentiment in the wrong hands is highly dangerous and leaves no room for gentlemanly conduct and polite discourse.

    With regards to the link between Ravetz, PNS and Marxism, considering how very high the stakes are, we simply do not have the luxury to afford such characters the benefit of the doubt.

    Such doubt invoked by such people should be treated as yet another smokescreen. As surely any doubt will be used as such if there is anyone gullible enough to except it.

    Note to mod:

    Please do not disconnect the link to my URL in my forum handle. This link is the only reason I would have submitted my URL to WUWT in the first place.

    Exchange is no robbery.

    Please play fair and I shall endeavor to do likewise.

    [Reply: contact WordPress if there is a problem. ~dbs, mod.]

  177. Mod:

    WordPress are not the ones who have been playing around with my posts on this entire thread.

    My first post is still completely missing and so was the re-post until I complained about it.

    I am writing an article about gate-keeping. Would any one on this forum be interested in contributing?

    Please go to my website and email me if you would like to make a contribution to this project.

    Perhaps WUWT could run it as a thread.

    REPLY: Are you dense? After the episode last year when you carpet bombed multiple threads on WUWT with your attempts at getting people to buy your report, I told you in no uncertain terms that your efforts were not welcome and that I would be deleting such efforts. Read the policy page.

    Here you are again doing the same thing.

    MODS: DELETE THIS PERSON’S POST AT WILL – ANY POSTS WITH LINKS TO SPINONTHAT ARE TO BE AUTOMATICALLY SENT TO THE BIT BUCKET. – ANTHONY

  178. Bob (21:50:34)

    Picture is the Royal Scots Greys (Heavy Brigade) at Waterloo (1815), not Harfleur (1415) (obviously) or Balaclava (1854) and not a cock-up.

  179. Wilson Flood (12:05:03)

    Harfleur (siege, hence breach in the walls) not Agincourt (muddy field, stakes, arrows and V signs)

    Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’

  180. berniel (02:20:52) :

    I’ve just read your essay on post-normal science and neo-marxism, and I liked it a lot. It’s enlightenting and the Marxist connection clearly does exist. In fact, Ravetz even himself admits the limitations of his ideas in being a “left-wing framework”. In other words, it’s imbalanced. Private interests are not in general “big bad corportations”. It’s ridiculous that so many seem to accept the GreenPeace analysis of “big oil” funding climate skeptics. It’s obvious that it’s a good idea for “big oil” to fund skeptics (even if it were true in a significant way), since it contributes to balance.

    On the other hand, it’s not always like that. Climate science with its massive government funding is the exception rather than the rule. Funding from interested parties is potentially corrupting whether they’re private or public, which is why Michael Crichton suggested pooling funds so scientists wouldn’t know who was funding them.

    In this sense, the PNS pseudo-marxist analysis was addressing a real problem in an incomplete way.

    The influence of PNS may have contributed to the current deplorable state of climate science. On the other hand, it may have been a moderating influence. If the nastiest skeptic-haters including Joe Romm were shown to be PNS-fans, that would be empirical evidence that the influence of PNS has been bad. It doesn’t seem that way to me, but I could be mistaken. I agree that Hulme’s analysis in the book review is a bad slur, but on the whole Hulme seems to be relatively benign compared to the ones who simply say that skeptics are “anti-science disinformers”.

    The debate-shunning techniques you mention seem to me to originate from various sources:

    “Sceptics are the mouthpiece of Big Oil”: This is “Marxist” and misguided, but has gained wide acceptance only because of historical experience with bias caused by private funding.

    The precautionary principle has been developed out of environmental necessity. It’s fine by me as a principle, but it’s been exaggerated. Insurance is OK, but there’s a limit to its cost.

    “The science is settled” is typical of arrogant normal science, not PNS. It’s probably been around for as long as scientists have been talking to the public, and tends to become bad when the science is policy relevant.

    “Scary scenarios”: “scary” and “calming” have both been pursued in different situations, and the problem with both is that they’re dishonest and assume that people don’t know what’s best for them.

  181. Willis Eschenbach (18:58:21) :
    R. de Haan (17:38:53) : edit

    From Joe Bastardi
    Something from my pro site, but I thought you would like to ponder this:

    SOME PRETTY COMPELLING EVIDENCE ON WHAT IS DRIVING CO2

    I would like to ponder it, but not on a thread about Ravetz and post-normal science … please post it to a relevant thread.

    Thanks,

    w.

    Well since he has it completely backwards and I for one would like to rebut it can you tell us where that can be done?

  182. Willis is now blaming Ravetz for Kyoto. On this evidence I find it impossible to take him seriously any longer. It’s like mad hatter’s unbirthday party.

    vigilantfish,

    This is a quote from Bill Joy from the article linked above (on how and why the situation has changed / is changing in the 21st century):

    “Accustomed to living with almost routine scientific breakthroughs, we have yet to come to terms with the fact that the most compelling 21st-century technologies – robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotechnology – pose a different threat than the technologies that have come before. Specifically, robots, engineered organisms, and nanobots share a dangerous amplifying factor: They can self-replicate. A bomb is blown up only once – but one bot can become many, and quickly get out of control.” – Bill Joy

    davidmhoffer,

    You read your own pre-conceptions into my comments. I said nothing about government labs. The threat is potentially coming from the private sector as you say, and as has been argued by Bill Joy and others. We need to restrict the private sector for that reason. USA, China and EU are the three key players to achieve that world wide.

    As you seem rather poorly informed on these subjects, may I kindly suggest the Bill joy article. Perhaps you could say what you see wrong in it, so you won’t have to rely on your own assumptions on what is meant and what not.

  183. Let me pile on to say that I agree wholeheartedly with Willis E. Thank you Willis for cogently stating what should be obvious!

    PNS does seem to have close ties with Marxism, everywhere I see it. It seems to try to use Lysenko-style “science” to promote statist objectives.

  184. Aargh (15:13:38) :

    When you forget what truth is – when it becomes relative –
    call it pns or ad hoc or situational or divine revelation – if you can’t correctly define what truth is- you have already lost your grip on reality. This is the historical record. PNS is nothing new; it’s a classic symptom of dereliction.

    Wow! That was insightful!!!

  185. Steves (04:19:21)

    I would descride Ratz [Ravetz, not sure if this is a typo or intentional – w.] as Evil. He can’t win the game fairly so he tries to change the rules. The World and his Dog knows this AGW nonsense is an attempted tax-grab. If Hulme was writing essays about Post Normal ‘Science’ in 2007 (in the face of strong questioning) I would suggest it was assimilated into his mind as a guiding anti-principle long before. That’s why it’s so obvious to everyone that AGW is a lie. Mr.Ravetz can’t understand it but his continued use of the PN-’S’ mantra will kill AGW. The only reason Keynesianism survives is that it is never discussed.

    Please, calling people “evil” goes nowhere. “Evil” is torturing babies. “Evil” is using poison gas on villages. Ravetz may be trying to “change the rules” with PN”S”, but that’s so far from evil as to be disappointingly bland.

    Also, calling people “evil” unless they are literally torturing babies just gets your vote cancelled. People will just decide that you exaggerate, that you are OTT, and they will not listen to you any more.

    So my free advice (guaranteed to be worth every penny you paid for it) is to stop focusing on the individuals, and focus on what they have said or done. Your point about Ravetz “changing the rules” is a good example. Your idea that Keynesianism survives “because it is never discussed” is a very interesting insight.

    Focus on that those, and let the personal accusations go, and you’ll get much more traction in the discussion.

    w.

  186. Phil. (11:19:37)

    Willis Eschenbach (18:58:21) :
    R. de Haan (17:38:53) : edit

    From Joe Bastardi
    Something from my pro site, but I thought you would like to ponder this:

    SOME PRETTY COMPELLING EVIDENCE ON WHAT IS DRIVING CO2

    I would like to ponder it, but not on a thread about Ravetz and post-normal science … please post it to a relevant thread.

    Thanks,

    w.

    Well since he has it completely backwards and I for one would like to rebut it can you tell us where that can be done?

    Haven’t a clue, but I’d start by doing a search of WattsUpWithThat (or your favorite blog) for threads that have “CO2” in the title. You do that in google with a search for:

    “allintitle: CO2 site:wattsupwiththat.com”

    HTH,

    w.

  187. Buddenbrook;
    The threat is potentially coming from the private sector as you say, and as has been argued by Bill Joy and others. We need to restrict the private sector for that reason. USA, China and EU are the three key players to achieve that world wide>>

    Now the truth comes out. Surveillance monitoring and control of private companies and the people who work for them. First you said only the EU, China and the US had the resources and they could “trust” and “understand” and monitor each other, now its only private companies and only within the EU, China, and the US that have to be “watched” and “controlled”. What will you do with some brilliant biologist who decides to move to Iran? Jail him? Or kill him to just to be certain he doesn’t get there? Perhaps you will kill his wife and children too just in case he taught them what he knows? How far are you willing to go? Will you exterminate any students he ever taught? Liquidate his friends neighbours and associates just to eliminate any “uncertainty”? Will you do this with every scientist who wants to leave the country? How about every scientist that someone ELSE said was going to leave the country? Networks of informants to report on each other perhaps? When accusations arise that seem like petty jeaoulosy, will you liquidate anyway just to be “safe”? Will you build a wall around the country not to keep non-citizens out, but your own citizens locked inside? Because if you really want to stop the advance of technology, those are the things you are going to have to do. ARE YOU LISTENING TO YOURSELF?

    Do not presume to lecture me about technology, I spent most of my life in technology. My security clearance has long since lapsed but I used to have one that would shock you. I’ve done business with defense and aerospace companies and pure R&D companies and my signature is on a raft of non-disclosures. I’ve seen the stuff that is coming, and some of it is scary, but none of it frightens me as much as people like you, and it would frighten me a lot more if the people who are working on it were suddenly persecuted by people like you and had to escape to Iran or Lybia to continue their work and keep themselves safe.

    Do not presume to lecture me either about Bill Joy. I care no more about his politics than I do Einstein’s and you should take your own example on that matter. I respect him as a scientist, and I cashed his checks for five years. I’ve sold his products to people who had code cases handcuffed to their wrists. I’ve been in a command centre when a high level alert was issued resulting in me being locked in a room with not one but two guards armed with automatic weapons until it was over six hours later. I had to p*ss in an empty water jug. I know which country instigated the incident and I know why the coordinated cyber attack failed.

    So don’t lecture me about the possibilities because I have seen sh*t that would turn your hair grey and not a single bit of it frightens me as much as you and the people who listen to you do.

  188. Buddenbrook (12:47:28)

    Willis is now blaming Ravetz for Kyoto. On this evidence I find it impossible to take him seriously any longer. It’s like mad hatter’s unbirthday party.

    I have asked repeatedly for people to quote, not paraphrase, not give your own interpretation, but quote, the claims by other folks that you disagree with. This is an example of why I ask for that. I had said:

    In response to these classic PNS claims of “risks large, decisions urgent”, people have been stampeded into asinine actions like the Kyoto protocol.

    Do you see Ravetz’s name in there? I am not “blaming Ravetz”, that’s Buddenbrook’s own interpretation. I am saying that repeated claims that we have to act immediately have pushed people to precipitate, unconsidered, meaningless actions. I have noted that this mantra of “decisions urgent” is part of the core of PNS.

    If Buddenbrook had actually quoted me, he would have been forced to admit that both of those statements are true. The push for immediate unconsidered action has led to the waste of billions. The idea that we need to abandon science if (inter alia) decisions are urgent is central to PNS.

    My conclusion from these facts is not that Ravetz is responsible for Kyoto. My conclusion is that the idea that we need to abandon science in situations covered by what Ravetz describes as the “mantram” of PNS, “facts uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high, decisions urgent”, is a very destructive and dangerous idea. Kyoto is the result of fools following bad pseudoscience. I have never said that Ravetz was to blame for Kyoto, that’s a fantasy from Buddenbrook’s unbirthday party …

  189. Phil,

    You will not find many threads with CO2 in the title on WUWT.

    CO2 is kind of off topic around here!

    REPLY: we have plenty of articles with the tag CO2, see the category selector at right. What is off topic is your repeated attempts to use WUWT as a vehicle for promotion of your own pay per download article on the topic. I’ve warned you several times, yet you persist.

    I’m tired of your attempts at exploitation followed by blaming me for your own inability to see your own misdeeds. So I say this: get the hell off my blog and stay off! – Anthony Watts

    MODERATORS TAKE NOTE: This commenter is permanently banned.

  190. davidmhoffer,

    The topic is PNS. I don’t see your life story as a credible argument in any way. I mean if we go back to the first steps in western knowledge Socrates didn’t argue “I saw some shit in Syracuse you wouldn’t ever believe, and therefore I’m right and you are wrong”. It’s just pointless. The dangers inherent in futuristic technologies and the complex challenges posed won’t go away just because you have done A or B. Argue your case, in terms of logic and substance.

    Willis,

    “Do you see Ravetz’s name in there? I am not “blaming Ravetz”, that’s Buddenbrook’s own interpretation.”

    Willis in his previous post commenting on Kyoto: “billions and billions of dollars poured down a rathole, for nothing. I lay that at the feet of Ravetz and PNS.”

    Yes, I do see Ravetz’s name in there. And it’s a mad hatter thing to say, to blame Kyoto on Ravetz. It’s so devoid of all realism, built on mere couple of references to Ravetz in tens of thousands of climate science papers, articles and columns. I mean I can’t believe someone would actually claim that seriously. It’s surreal.

  191. “Please, calling people “evil” goes nowhere. “Evil” is torturing babies. “Evil” is using poison gas on villages. Ravetz may be trying to “change the rules” with PN”S”, but that’s so far from evil as to be disappointingly bland.

    Also, calling people “evil” unless they are literally torturing babies just gets your vote cancelled. People will just decide that you exaggerate, that you are OTT, and they will not listen to you any more.”

    Steve happens to be using the word correctly. That which destroys good is evil.

    The definition of ‘definition’ is the set of distinguishing characteristics, not a list of elements in that category. Failure to properly define the word is the epistemological failure that makes a sincere person doubtful of judgement.

    As far as having an adverse effect on persuading someone to one’s cause – it’s been proven to be effective and enduring. The notion that you were born that way has been a keystone in the architecture of perhaps the longest lasting of these. Your evil destruction of the planet by living and breathing is keystone in the architecture of this one.

    If something is evil, sane men hate it. That’s why it’s in the interest of post normal ethics to make the idea subjective and mutable by consensus. The benefit of the doubt has been an industry since the world’s oldest professional got an unsolicited manager.

  192. I hope you enjoy the article I have written about gate-keepers Anthony.

    You feature quite prominently in it.

    I do not have a pay per download article on my site and it is extremely dishonest of you to imply that I do.

    I have had your moderators messing around with my free speech all day and I don’t take that kind of thing lightly.

    You have always had a problem with me Watts and we both know why.

    It is because I can see through it all.

    I can see through the AGW scam. I can see through the “greenhouse fraud”
    and I can see through your gate-keeping site.

    I know what you are and what your purpose is and I intend to let as many of your readers know as possible. I have saved the links to all your regulars and I promise you this. By the time I’ve finished you won’t be able to sleep in your own fucking bed you despicable little worm.

    How dare you accuse me of misdeeds you gate-keeping pice of shit. Who the fuck do think you are?

    You will rue the day you fuck with, mark my words.

    REPLY: I’m leaving this up so that others can see just what kind of person you are. Read my policy page if you think you have been treated unfairly. Note that I clearly do not allow links to commercial websites. When you first started posting here, you linked to an article for money for your booklet, on a commercial website that sold your other wares also. For example, the current page link you keep trying to post to WUWT contains links for your other commercial ventures which include:

    Music | Video Samplers |Synthesizers |Other_Stuff |Quit_Smoking

    Free speech is one thing, expecting me to promote your commercial works within the same page even after being warned about it is something else entirely different. I’m not required to link to your website by any law. Further I have a policy posted on it.

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/policy/

    An appropriate approach for you would have been, “Anthony, that booklet I wrote is no longer on a “for pay” website, would you please consider giving me a boost? Instead, you’ve tried to sneak it in, even after being warned, also posting under the other names:

    Victor Volcano
    xxx@nospam4.us

    Sophistry in politics
    xxxxx@madasafish.com

    Your actions have not been up front, nor even with the most basic of courtesy.

    – Anthony

  193. Willis,

    Ravetz is a smart guy. He is perfectly capable of realizing the results of the policies he is advocating in his AGW and PNS support. This easily has the potential to destroy western civilization which feeds, shelters medically cares for and gives huge life opportunities to billions of people and which for all its imperfections is the best us poor humans have managed to do so far.

    I think evil is not inappropriate, as if western civilization collapses there will be more than enough baby torturing and other things which meet your definition of evil to go around.

    Buddenbrook needs to read Larry Niven’s “Known Space” series. Besides being highly entertaining it shows a glimpse of a hi tech world where technology development has been suppressed and is in the hands of the UN or rather its executive mechanism, the ARM(Association of Regional Militia).

  194. It should be plain that this puts an uncertain person at a disadvantage.
    Having to substitute consensus that ‘judgement is evil’ (which resolves to a self contradiction, as usual) the doubtful but sincere person forbids himself to use the word- yet he must wear it before all his oppressors and suffer the shame.

    That’s why you need proper definitions. Logic can not be done without them.
    That’s why post normalism seeks, as it has in its various guises though history, to deprive you of definitions – it renders you unable to evaluate things properly.
    Reason is your basic tool of survival. If you can’t do critical thinking, you are easy prey in the post normal ecosystem.

    Orwell knew. He had very keen definitions and did fine critical thinking and he knew what was evil. You don’t need to make a mess to destroy a human being. It can be done methodically by hacking their psychology. First you destroy their epistemology, then their metaphysics. Then you eat them.
    It’s all very civilized. Fraud accomplishes the same goals as looting with a fraction of the shooting.

  195. You are so full of it Watts. I have never promoted my book about CO2 on your website for money and you know it.

    The fact that I also have another book on another page of my site has nothing to do with you and you just use that as an excuse. You have plenty of others here who link to their commercial products and you don’t have a problem with them.

    You know damn well my CO2 book is free of charge because you have fucking read it yourself so don’t play word games with me you prick.

    I have always known what you do here from the first time I posted on your threads it was obvious to me that you are operating a gate-keeping operation. Out of all the articles you have on CO2 you do not have one that even comes close to challenging the so called “science” behind the greenhouse effect. In fact quite the reverse.

    Never mind what kind of person I am, lets talk about what kind of person you are.

    You have gone out of your way to be hostile to me and we both know exactly why. You are gate-keeping this issue and deliberately keeping people focused in the wrong direction.

    That makes you a very despicable dangerous character. If you had concentrated as much effort on the subject of CO2 as you have on temperature for example we would not even need to have this conversation.

    Instead it falls to a non-academic like myself with meagre means to step up to the plate and try to avert Global Tyranny and 80% population reduction. While the whole time you try to distract everyones attention away from the one topic that can kill this bullshit once and for all.

    That is the sort of person you are Watts.

    We both know it.

    Your reaction to my post about CO2 say’s it all. You will never justify that and it just confirms that quite obviously, CO2 is a very touchy subject for you.

    I don’t give a shit how you selectively leave up my posts to discredit me. I expect nothing less from a despicable little fucker like you and you can be sure as hell I will do everything in my power to do the same to you.

    Your excuses and bogus justification for hostility towards me are pathetic and unconvincing. I have been in this game for too long not to know what I’m dealing with where you are concerned.

    It is simple. CO2 does not cause global warming.

    You know it, I know it, and anyone with half a brain who’s livelihood doesn’t depend on this fraud, knows it. For those who have lived a rather sheltered life, that is about six+ billion of us who know it.

    I have spent the last two years gathering all the evidence I need to verify my findings. I have a solid case against AGW fraud with regards to CO2 and that is a threat to your little caper here at WUWT that much has always been obvious.

    If you think I will allow a weasel like yourself to get away with treating me with the level of disrespect you have shown me, think again.

    You have been on the wrong side of me since I first discovered WUWT and saw it for what it was. I have kept that knowledge pretty much to myself so as not to make too many waves while I fished around for clues.

    Well I’m all done fishing. I’ve got what I came for which is why I have deliberately not avoided speaking my mind today.

    Anthony Watts you are threat and a danger to humanity. Good luck to you, you will need it when I am done.

    REPLY: Well Another post we’ll leave up from you. But you really do have it all wrong. I’ll try to explain without further exciting you.

    My only objection is that your links go to a commercial website, in violation of the site policy. That’s it, nothing else. You’ve been pushing hard to get your stuff on WUWT, I’ve told you why, the policy says why, but you insist its all my fault becuase you haven’t adhered to policy.

    If for example you put your writings on Blogspot/blogger, a free service which costs you nothing. I’d have no issues. But you have them with your other wares. I’m not obligated to link to your commercial website. It is that simple.

    If for example you put your writings up on https://www.blogger.com/start Then any link is not a commercial site with other wares for sale. And then my objections would be removed, and providing you apologize to me publicly for your nasty display of cussing and labeling here, I’ll allow it then.

    As for my issues with CO2 versus yours, this post here may interest you as it is really all you need to know about the CO2 issue.

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/10/25/what-does-a-reduction-to-350-ppm-of-co2-get-you/

    Logarithmic response, thus CO2 is not a crisis. Here’s another good post on the issue just over a month ago: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/03/08/the-logarithmic-effect-of-carbon-dioxide/

    Of course if you want to declare me evil to the world simply because I refuse to allow links to your commercial site, that’s your right too. However it really would be much easier and better for all involved for you simply to move your writings to a non-commercial site like blogger, and thus remove the objections.

    Of course if you want to go down the libel path, that’s fine too. But it sure won’t help you get your CO2 message out as I won’t link to defamatory things either and it certainly won’t win any converts when you write as you have done here today.

    Think about it. – Anthony

  196. Buddenbrook;
    davidmhoffer,
    The topic is PNS. I don’t see your life story as a credible argument in any way. I mean if we go back to the first steps in western knowledge Socrates didn’t argue “I saw some shit in Syracuse you wouldn’t ever believe, and therefore I’m right and you are wrong”. It’s just pointless. The dangers inherent in futuristic technologies and the complex challenges posed won’t go away just because you have done A or B. Argue your case, in terms of logic and substance.>>

    I have, and you have studiously avoided answering. You suggested (repeatedly) that I did not understand the magnitude of the risk, and I advised that my personal expertise in the area of massively destructive technologies, both ones currently deployed and ones “on the drawing board” vastly exceeds your own. You referenced repeatedly Bill Joy, whose science I am far more acquainted with than you, and I took you to task for accepting his politics on the basis of his expertise in science, while rejecting Einstein’s politics despite endorsing him as the greatest scientist of the 20th century. That you wish to both aprobate and reprobate while accusing me of a lack of logic and substance suggests that your position is either entirely disingenuous, or that any degrees in philosophy or law that have been granted to you should be revoked.

    You proposed that suppression of science and intrusive surveillance and control might be acceptable. I pointed out that it is not practical to secure the cooperation of the likes of Al Qaida and Iran on this issue. You retreated to the position that only the EU, US and China were capable of this kind of science. I pointed out that many countries outside of this group had research capabilities that rivaled that of those entities, and that break through innovation tends to come from individuals and small organizations in any event, and thus their research could be conducted almost anywhere, and that weapons of mass destruction were within the capabilities of even very undeveloped nations. You then retreated to the astounding position that not only was I right that small organizations are where innovation comes from, but that this meant that the surveillance, suppression and control you propose be applied only to private organizations in the EU, China and the US. When I gave you your pants back, I had no idea you would wear them on your head while walking blindly in circles and declaring yourself the winner of the race.

    I also explained to you that suppression and control of scienctists and their work is not practical without the most extreme and odious practices, an issue which you have avoided responding to. I have provided to you a real world example where repression and persecution caused scientists to flee to another country, taking their knowledge and expertise with them, and quite possibly reversing the outcome of the second world war. Again, you have avoided the point that repressing science and scientists in our country is not just impractical, but that the consequence of trying to do so ensures that any breakthroughs achieved will be delivered into the hands of those who would do us harm. I have explained that getting to the breakthrough first allows one to negotiate from a position of strength and to develope defensive strategies, while getting to the breakthrough late requires surrender to the enemy who may well make the draconiam measures you propose look attractive by comparison. Again and again, you have failed to respond. I made the point that the power associated with the measures you so blithely propose, is unlikely to be relinquished willingly when the threat has passed, absolute corruption being its far more likely outcome. Again, you have studiously avoided responding.

    I have with humour, sarcasm, facts, reason and logic destroyed your position at every turn. You have retreated, backtracked or reversed your position half the time, and failed to address the major points I raised the other half. Now you are reduced to complaining that my life story is not relevant, and whining that I am not making an argument based on logic and substance. On this latter point, I may have identified the problem. I stand before you with my evidence clearly presented, and you, having your pants pulled firmly over your head, proclaim that it does not exist because you cannot see it. My life story is in fact relevant. You have no expertise in the science that you proclaim as horror, nor in the tactics that countries are using right now, today, against each other, and so your pronounce my own as immaterial. This is in fact PNS. The substitution of fact and experience with imagination, the implementation of solutions born of fantasy and horror over what is practical and achievable, the rallying cry of despair and fear as a call to arms against not our enemies, but ourselves. I say the village is safe on the plain. You predict disaster and demand that we move the village to the foot of the volcano to make more efficient the sacrifice of virgins to prevent its eruption.

    Frankly when we started this I was having fun at your expense. You said some dangerous and foolish things for which I took you to task. I had no idea that you were such a committed repeat fool, and so even more dangerous than I had at first supposed. I’m not having fun anymore (really, I’m not) but I’m not getting worn out either. You want to keep throwing up drivel, I will keep hosing it down. You can spout your drivel, and I will defend your right to spout it. But the village stays on the plain, and that too I will defend.

  197. Are you threatening me with libel action you silly little man?

    You need to see what I have written first before you can start throwing accusations of libel.

    Do you think I’m a fool Watts? Do you think I can’t write a piece about your gate-keeping activities without falling into that trap?

    Don’t bother trying to mitigate your behavior with more excuses about my site being a commercial site either. Thats just bollocks and you know it. Don’t you forum etiquette me either you ignorant, rude little cunt. You have one rule for me and another for every one else. You single me out for one reason and thats because I am a threat to your little operation.

    You have falsely claimed that I had my book for pay for download and that as you know is a bold faced lie.

    I’m not writing about WUWT out of spite or revenge. I do it because its the right thing to do.

    It is part of what I set to do in the beginning. To break this fraud. You are part of that fraud as far as I’m concerned. You have been complicit in causing those looking for answers, to look in the wrong direction. There I have libeled you again, so fucking sue me.

    Finally, I do not need any lessons on CO2 from sophists thank you.

    REPLY: Re: libel, No but when you say things like “when I get done with you” (and that’s putting it kindly) related to an article you are writing, it does suggest libel from you.

    Your whole point of posting here on WUWT has been to draw attention to your booklet and to get people to give you money for it. It is a commercial site, with goods for sale and a dot com address, so that seems quite clear. Again I’m not required to post links to your website, and your argument that I’ve denied you free speech is pretty flimsy (and funny).

    Like I said you could have avoided the whole issue months ago by moving it to a non commercial website. You still can.

    I don’t need to hurl insults, four letter words, or threats, reasonable people will be able to see who’s being unruly or writing out of spite/revenge here. The unreasonable ones are unreachable anyway, so I’m not worried about them.
    You’ve staked your position quite clearly, and I’ve given you an out. Move your content to a non-commercial website like blogger, make a simple apology for the filthy words, and I’ll give you a link. Your choice will demonstrate what is really important to you.

    – Anthony

  198. berniel wries:

    “PNS is not Kulnian but post-Kulnian:
    Dagfinn and Buddenbook are at risk of confusing PNS with Kuln’s theory of scienific revolutions. Ravetz is not claiming that the post-normal sciences (ie Enviro Sciences) are in a state of ‘revolution’such that we are moving to a new paradigm, as per Kuln. At best we could say that he is doing to Kuln what Trotsky did to Marx, that is, he is proposing a “permanent revolution” with no anticipation of ever settling into a new paradigm inwhich normal science could then start over (as per after Newton and Einstein). This is a departure from Kuln, who defended-to-the-end his ‘realism’ against Post-modernist interpretations that pushed towards absolute relativism.”

    The man’s name is Kuhn, not Kuln. It is impossible to be post-Kuhnian. His laughable account of conceptual revolutions admits the interpretation that a change of one term can count as a revolution. This was soon discovered by the people who most need revolutions and flexibility in revolutions. They are art historians. The number of dissertations written on Kuhn by art historians exceeds the number written on artists. Kuhn’s work found its natural home, the intellectual sewer. So, there you have it, not only a logical but a practical reductio ad absurdum of the grandest waste of time foisted upon Anglo-American philosophy in the last 100 years.

  199. Anthony;
    Re Politicians Cost Lives

    Gosh. And I worry that some of my stuff is over the top. How you managed a civil response to that last tirade is beyond me. Just in case he is still lurking, and as a way of thanking you for what you are doing on this blog, I have learned here about;

    CO2, ice extent, urban heat island effects, statistical analysis, trend analysis, cyclical effects of orbit, moon, sun spots, PDO, ADO, cloud formation, ocean conveyer belt, solar conveyer built, detailed analysis of a dozen or more fraudulent papers, Argo buoys, ocean heat content, sea levels, tolerance, PNS, weasels, half a dozen satellite technologies, tornado and hurricane trends, carbon cycle, clamatology and other reconstruction techniques…

    and that’s just off the top of my head over the last few weeks. I know you probably did temperature in there somewhere, but I just can’t read every last post. When there is something scientific I really want to understand, I no longer google, I search WUWT. Its faster, the discussion following is as good or better an education as the article, the links to the evidence are easy to find, and there’s some decent humour threaded throughout to lighten the read.

    Thank you Anthony.

  200. Again you accusations are completely false.

    Your login asks for my URL and I give it. I know it links to my website because I am familiar with wordpress.

    You have painted me out to be something I’m not so that you can discredit me in front of the forum.

    When you said I was banned from posting it had nothing whatsoever to do with my website and everything to do with my comment about CO2 being off topic.

    But hey if you want to tell lies to yourself go right ahead. If you want to tell lies to the whole forum when they can see for themselves what happened, be my guest. But I will not allow you to try and humiliate me with your lies.

    My comment about CO2 being off topic was why you banned me, not my website.

    You have a guy who posts here who’s handle links to his site which sells aviation navigation equipment. I can’t find it at the moment I’ll be honest, I’m still raging at the moment and I’m not even going to try.

    The point is that your objection to my website is an excuse and a poor one at that.

    My website is the only one I have. It was initially meant to be for my music and film projects. When I started out on the AGW fraud path, all that stuff went on hold. You have painted me out to be deviously trying to punt my wares on your site and that is simply a false accusation. As you can see for yourself there is nothing happening there. I have made no money at all through the methods you accuse me of and quite frankly, if I had to rely on such methods to make any money I would have starved to death a long time ago.

    As I say I do not solicit money for my book on CO2, and your insistence that I do is deliberately false and is nothing but a smokescreen for your own poor behavior towards me.

    Now to save face you have humiliated me by publicly displaying posts which you led me to believe, would not be excepted on this thread.

    More deception of which I hope you are proud.

    For the record my efforts with respect to my book and website are completely selfless and self funded. I am engaged in this debate purely for my feelings of responsibility to my fellow humans and truth, that is it.

    If you find it necessary single me out for that, it say’s more about you than it does me.

    As I say, the only reason there is a link to my site is because you have my URL.

    The claim you make about me repeatedly promoting my book here is an old issue we had back 6 months ago. I seem to remember apologizing for that once already.

    Yes I want people to look at the evidence I have presented on my site, why wouldn’t I? But I make no money at all and I’m out of pocket to the tune of 1000’s with all the time I’ve put in to this.

    The fact that you are so keen to humiliate me and discredit me while using such flimsy excuses and deception rings alarm bells and raises my suspicions.

    I have no intention of moving my information to another site it stays where it is. Your justification is hypocritical, bogus and only seems to apply to me.

    There, I have calmed down enough to stop swearing and start proof reading again.

    REPLY: Look you got off on the wrong foot here. You carpet bombed your book promotion across several WUWT threads, multiple times last year. I told you to stop, you did it again. Last night you posted a request for contributions. I’m not here as a revenue source, advertising source, or traffic driver for people that want to exploit the volume WUWT has.

    Reasonable people generally ask “Anthony could you give me a plug for this (book, website, paper, article, movie)?” and quite often I’ll do so if the content has merit. But you just started thread bombing. Imagine if you had a party of close friends at your house, and somebody showed up passing out flyers to the guests without even asking. Wouldn’t you tell them to bugger off? I sure would. As stated in my policy page, this is my home on the Internet, so I reserve the right to boot out party crashers, drunks, and door to door salesmen just as I would at home.

    Your website offers goods and services for sale, my long stated policy says I won’t link to sites that are commercial in nature, yet you persist. If some guy is advertising aviation parts, show me where and I’ll boot him off too. There’s thousands of comments here, close to half a million now, with volunteer moderators doing work when I can’t, I don’t pretend to have read and approved every one of them.

    Your methods though brought immediate attention because they were so many and so persistent.

    That’s the whole argument. I don’t have any other issue with you. I don’t disagree with you about CO2. Just stop trying to use WUWT as a traffic driver for your website, make an apology for the foul words, and you can post again. If you want to link to your book, fine with me, but it has to be on website like Blogger where you aren’t selling other stuff. That’s been in the policy page for months. If you don’t want to do that, OK, that’s fine too, but I choose what I allow on my own blog, not anyone else.

    As for the foul embarrassing foul language, hey that’s all on you. You did it knowing full well that I had the option of publishing it, and then you did it a second time saying “you don’t care”. If I was malicious, I could take your name off your website (since you prominently display it there) and connect it to your words here.

    But that’s not my style, I don’t need to be malicious to defend what I do here. However when somebody makes threats, I will do whatever it takes to defend myself and my family, as would most anyone.

    – Anthony

  201. Buddenbrook (14:59:54) : edit

    Willis,

    “Do you see Ravetz’s name in there? I am not “blaming Ravetz”, that’s Buddenbrook’s own interpretation.”

    Willis in his previous post commenting on Kyoto: “billions and billions of dollars poured down a rathole, for nothing. I lay that at the feet of Ravetz and PNS.”

    NOW do you see why I am saying quote my words that you are responding to? I find what I think you are talking about, I respond that there’s nothing in there about Ravetz and Kyoto, and it turns out that you were talking about something entirely different. Quote what you object to so we know what you are referring to.

    w.

  202. Hey guys,

    Does anybody happen to know where I might find information about
    CO2 debunked as a “greenhouse gas” backed up by easily reproducible experiments and verified by real data that has been established and excepted science for over half a century?

    Just curious. Thanks.

    REPLY: Curious, you spelled “accepted” as “excepted” just like “Politicians Cost Lives”. Must be catching. – Anthony

    Reply 2: Anthony, I think you are confusing the class clown with the original offender ~ ctm

  203. davidmhoffer,

    You haven’t “destroyed” “my position”. The problem is, that you haven’t even begun to understand the argument, but have substituted for it your own pre-conceptions and strawmen. It’s ghosts and phantoms that you have chosen to chase, instead of dealing in logic and substance.

    You have failed to understand the crucial difference between 20th century and 21st century techonologies. You make direct analogies between the two, while they are crucially dissimilar for 20th century approach to work in the 21st. Rest of your posts consist of increasingly aggressive and juvenile personalization of what should be a philosophical discussion, which doesn’t make you any more convincing even if you think you are being witty, which you are not.

    I’m firm in my position, as it is constructed on substance and logic. Your “solution” of an arm race and free hands for the private sector in techonologies far more dangerous than anything mankind have unlocked so far is irresponsible and unacceptable.
    USA, China and EU are the key players to avert this risk world wide. Not just in USA, China and EU, letting others to be free to do how they please as you have wrongly interpreted it. It’s far more difficult for “the Al-Qaedas” you keep referring to, to be making their own nano assemblers in a world where the techonologies are being controlled, than in a world where research in both governmental and private sectors would be non-restricted, competing against each other, spreading like mushrooms.

    And again, contrary to your pre-conceptions and assumptions, this wouldn’t halt all research and for an example prevent multinational and supervised joint projects that would develop defenses against the risks and potentially hostile threats. Risks and threats that would now be considerably smaller, when the research would be approached and controlled with the caution and prudence necessary.

    There, of course, are no perfect solutions here, solutions without their faults. A 100% tight surveillance network is of course an impossibility. Yet, when the research is prevented from being easily accessible, the risks that are potentially posed by lone unabomber type madmen, which I personally think would pose a bigger threat than “Al Qaeda”, would be less likely to become reality.

    The USA of your ideals armed to its teeth in bio- and nanoweapons dictating from a position of strenght is a ridiculous concept in this regard. It would probably only spur on the lone mad scientist, it would do nothing to stop him, but the access to these technologies would be made far easier to him.
    And how would you use that position of strenght against any hostile powers either, which now, unsupervised in a world of no surveillance network, would be developing their own weapons in haste?
    This is where you go wrong when you fail to notice the dissimilarities between 20th and 21st century techonologies of mass terror. The latter can be developed in single labs, impossible to tract unless societies are opened up for free surveillance.
    Today you can notice nuclear facilities which are huge, and it’s impossible of course to make nuclear tests without a notice. And it’s difficult to stockpile vast stores of these weapons for countries like Iran or North-Korea.
    But with the 21st century weapons, when you have the technology you can produce billions upon billions of them from basic raw materials. And self-replicators would of course be even more dangerous as they would replicate themselves, a genie that would be impossible to put back in the bottle.

    The paradigm, and the narrative have changed. It’s an entirely new framework.
    I have tried to get you to see this, but you keep going back to your 20th century cold war paradigms, which are entirely inadequate here.

  204. davidmhoffer (17:33:08) : When I gave you your pants back, I had no idea you would wear them on your head while walking blindly in circles and declaring yourself the winner of the race.

    Simply to note that such a sentence should not go unremarked. David: that’s a classic!

  205. Buddenbrook (00:23:43) :

    I think you’ve identified an area that fits well into the “extremely high stakes, extremely high uncertainty” category identified as the target of PNS. Identifying such issues is probably the easy part. The difficulty lies in thinking about solutions. Before we even think about anything like PNS, or even begin to conceptualize the solution as “scientific” or otherwise, we need to ask whether *any* generalized, systematic solution is possible. You are discussing specific proposed solutions to one specific area of risk. Unless there are commonalities in the kinds of solutions one might want in different areas, the answer to the previous question is no, and there is no room for PNS or anything with equivalent aims. The controls you discuss might make it easier to handle the specific problems you mention, and might make it more difficult to deal with something else.

    The PNS writings speak of “ignorance of ignorance”. Is there any answer to such problems, except openness and humility and the willingness to prepare for different scenarios as long as the preparations involve no major harmful present-day consequences?

    I want to stress that I’m not intending to be categorical. I’m exploring this hoping to learn something.

  206. Perhaps the third time is the charm …

    Re: Willis Eschenbach (19:11:58)

    Willis Eschenbach (14:23:57)

    Still waiting for an answer … I’ll keep asking …

    Buddenbrook, you might have missed my question. I had asked:

    You say we need “new frameworks” to control the new technologies. I’m afraid I don’t understand what that means … what is a “new framework” when it is at home?

    Give us an example of some “new framework” using some kind of “new science” that actually controlled some new technology. Then please explain to us why we need some kind of new, post-normal science for that framework, why the plain old kind that has served us so well for so long is suddenly inadequate.

    Ravetz says we need a new kind of science because the facts are uncertain, the values are in dispute, and the stakes are high … but when in human history has that not been the case?

    If I understand you, you say we need a new kind of science because we now have the power to turn the planet into radioactive slag … but when has science ever prevented people from using new weapons, large or small?

  207. April 15
    PNS Headquarters
    Department of Thought Control
    Scientist Surveillance Division

    Commander; “Report Mr Buddenbrook.”
    Buddenbrook; “Sir! We are advancing aggressively in a rearward direction and soon will have ourselves surrounded. I sense victory sir.”
    Commander; “Excellent Buddenbrook. One question though.”
    Buddenbrook; “Sir?”
    Commander; “Why do you have your pants on your head?”

    Buddenbrook (00:23:43) :
    You haven’t “destroyed” “my position”. The problem is, that you haven’t even begun to understand the argument, but have substituted for it your own pre-conceptions and strawmen. It’s ghosts and phantoms that you have chosen to chase, instead of dealing in logic and substance.>>

    Response: You, who have no expertise in the technology or the science or the military applications, presume to know what I do and do not understand. Having nothing more than the cherry picked opinions of scientists whose science you do not understand to draw upon, I presume your conclusion is derived from the obvious inherent superiority of your intellect versus mine.

    Buddenbrook;
    You have failed to understand the crucial difference between 20th century and 21st century techonologies. You make direct analogies between the two, while they are crucially dissimilar for 20th century approach to work in the 21st.>>

    Response: I had intended to shout “liar liar pants on fire” at this point, but given that your pants are still on your head, I fear for your safety. For starters, I fully understand the difference between the brute force destruction of a nuclear bomb versus an engineered virus that can selectively kill its host based on racial genealogy parameters or an airborne nanobot device that can be inhaled and programmed to take additional actions once in the blood stream. I made no analogies at all between the technologies. What I did was explain the low levels of technology required to make some very nasty things, and I pointed out to you that when scientists can’t do what they do because of rules and surveillance, then they go somewhere where they can, and they do it for some potentially nasty people. You complain about logic and substance, but still have not addressed this point.

    Buddenbrook;
    Rest of your posts consist of increasingly aggressive and juvenile personalization of what should be a philosophical discussion, which doesn’t make you any more convincing even if you think you are being witty, which you are not.>>

    Response; I always know when I’ve hit a nerve when people accuse me of being juvenile and not witty. First, I take considerable pride in my juvenile wit. Second, if it is a purely philosophical discussion you want, go argue the sound of a tree falling in the forest or try and figure out if the temperature really went up if there was no one to read the thermometer. You have proposed real world solutions to real world issues, but when I point out real world practicality constraints to you, you either change your position, ignore my point, claim that I don’t understand the science you have no expertise in, or that I am not playing by the rules of a “philosophical discussion”. On a hike once I slipped and fell down an embankment and wound up nose to nose with a black bear. When you are nose to nose with something that is capable of killing you, the rules of a philosophical discussion aren’t nearly as much value as a fist sized rock to the nose. There are nasty people out there, and they want to kill you. Well to be accurate they want to kill me. They have “uses” for people like you, which you seem to be fulfilling on a voluntary basis.

    Buddenbrook;
    I’m firm in my position, as it is constructed on substance and logic.

    Response; It has shifted repeatedly, which I have documented. You refuse to even acknowledge half a dozen issues I raise, let alone refute them. You continue to both reprobate and approbate and call it logic. You have not answered my direct challenges, nor Willis. You have reversed yourself on most comments and when faced with the voice of experience and expertise whine about the rules of philisophical debate. Your arguments are like a chocolate easter bunny. Looks great, tastes great, but in the end it is hollow, and not healthy for you.

    Buddenbrook;
    Your “solution” of an arm race and free hands for the private sector in techonologies far more dangerous than anything mankind have unlocked so far is irresponsible and unacceptable.>>

    Response; I never suggested a “solution”, I didn’t even try because I don’t have one. I suggested that the solution you propose is not practical, that the cure is worse than the disease, and that the only real defense against those who would do you harm is superior offensive and defensive capabilities. If I had a solution to this, trust me, I would propose it. I don’t, and neither do you. Free reign may be unacceptable to you, but your solution is unacceptable to me. It has been tried in the past before and failed miserably at controlling much of anything other than torture, extermination, and repression. You wish to repeat history on the assumption that “this time” it will be different becuase the stakes are different. How much higher than Russia, China, EU and US lobbing a few thousand H-bombs around during a one day war do you think the stakes can get?

    Buddenbrook’
    USA, China and EU are the key players to avert this risk world wide. Not just in USA, China and EU, letting others to be free to do how they please as you have wrongly interpreted it. It’s far more difficult for “the Al-Qaedas” you keep referring to, to be making their own nano assemblers in a world where the techonologies are being controlled, than in a world where research in both governmental and private sectors would be non-restricted, competing against each other, spreading like mushrooms.>>

    Response; They’re growing ‘shrooms? How many did you have? There is not a single thing you can do to stop the research from being done. The only thing you can do is get the research done yourself so you know what you are dealing with. You can figure out the materials and processes involved and attempt to bar access to them, you can build defensive strategies, you can decide to get them before they get you. But stop the science itself? In a world full of people who will sell to the highest bidder? In a world where technical knowledge can be dispersed across the globe in milliseconds? You need more ‘shrooms.

    Buddenbrook;
    And again, contrary to your pre-conceptions and assumptions, this wouldn’t halt all research and for an example prevent multinational and supervised joint projects that would develop defenses against the risks and potentially hostile threats. Risks and threats that would now be considerably smaller, when the research would be approached and controlled with the caution and prudence necessary.>>

    Response; You agreed previously that break through science comes from individuals and small groups. When government or anyone else “controls” the research, the innovation dies. Fiefdoms emerge that fight for control of available funds. What happens to the losers who don’t get funded? “Honey, I’m home. Good news bad news. Bad news is I got fired today. Good news is I got this great job offer and we’re moving to Lybia!”

    Buddenbrook;
    There, of course, are no perfect solutions here, solutions without their faults. A 100% tight surveillance network is of course an impossibility.>>

    Reponse; Oh. So its impossible. But let’s do it anyway. And who will your surveillance network control? Why the people who aren’t doing anything wrong of course. But it will do a fine job of that what with all the petty informants and everything and dedicated interrogators getting answers out of the accused and being certain to “find” something because if everyone investigated is innocent then there must be a problem with the investigator. In the meantime, the people you are really concerned about are doing what ever they are doing quite outside your surveillance network. In Lybia. Which doesn’t even have a surveillance network. Which part of the logic chain is escaping you?

    Buddenbrook;
    Yet, when the research is prevented from being easily accessible, the risks that are potentially posed by lone unabomber type madmen, which I personally think would pose a bigger threat than “Al Qaeda”, would be less likely to become reality.>>

    Response; Al Qaida figured out how to kill a few thousand people with a handful of volunteers and a few box cutters. You can’t control the world wide supply of box cutters, you can however prevent them from getting onto airplanes. You can’t stop the research and if you try you are pretty much guaranteeing that someone who was told “no, you can’t do that” will go somewhere that says “sure, what do you need?” Constricted supply creates a very profitable black market, the opposite of what you want to achieve because you can neither surveille it nor control it.

    Buddenbrook;
    The USA of your ideals armed to its teeth in bio- and nanoweapons dictating from a position of strenght is a ridiculous concept in this regard. It would probably only spur on the lone mad scientist, it would do nothing to stop him, but the access to these technologies would be made far easier to him.>>

    Response; I said negotiate, not dictate. There was a period of time when only the US had nukes. They did not take the opportunity to reduce Moscow to rubble. If only Russia had nukes at the time, what might they have done? If only Iran had nukes, what might they do? Being the toughest kid on the block doesn’t mean you go and beat the daylights out of everyone else because you can. You are right though, if you do beat them up, eventually one is going to sneak up behind you with a baseball bat. A better strategy is to not beat them up in the first place. But if one of them does pick up a baseball bat anyway, you will be glad you came up with those bionic eyes in the back of your head and carry that new pocket howitzer you designed.

    Buddenbrook;
    And how would you use that position of strenght against any hostile powers either, which now, unsupervised in a world of no surveillance network, would be developing their own weapons in haste?

    Response; You admitted earlier that getting hostile powers like North Korea and Iran to submit to surveillance would be impossible to do, that surveillance could not possibly be effective, and now you ask what will happen if we don’t have surveillance? The answer is surveillance that doesn’t work is precisely the same as no surveillance. Well except for the completely innocent people who get surveilled and jailed for petty crimes so the police can show everyone what a good job they are doing. Congrats. You have implemented a police state that prevents anyone from doing anything innovative and chased all the brilliant scientists out of the country to the places that you admit you cannot control or even keep under surveillance and now you wring your hands and ask me what to do about it? Well I assume the brilliant scientists escaped, or did you decide that building a wall around the country to keep them in topped with snipers who shoot to death anyone who gets out anyway was the way to go?

    Buddenbrook;
    This is where you go wrong when you fail to notice the dissimilarities between 20th and 21st century techonologies of mass terror. The latter can be developed in single labs, impossible to tract unless societies are opened up for free surveillance.

    Response; So you’re going to “open up” for “free surveillance” Iran, Lybia, Syria, North Korea, how?…. oh, and you keep bringing up China. If you think they will allow one single webcam in one of their secret facilities you are delusional to a point that no amount of psychotherapy will cure. They may be able to get you to take your pants off your head though. Not to mention that you already admitted that a surveillance network wasn’t actually possible. DO YOU EVEN LISTEN TO YOURSELF?

    Buddenbrook;
    Today you can notice nuclear facilities which are huge, and it’s impossible of course to make nuclear tests without a notice. And it’s difficult to stockpile vast stores of these weapons for countries like Iran or North-Korea.
    But with the 21st century weapons, when you have the technology you can produce billions upon billions of them from basic raw materials. And self-replicators would of course be even more dangerous as they would replicate themselves, a genie that would be impossible to put back in the bottle.

    Response; Iran’s nuke program was set back by years when one of their key researchers defected to the United States. There is no one answer to dealing with these things but creating a police state that would result in key researchers defecting from the United States to Iran is insane.

    Buddenbrook;
    The paradigm, and the narrative have changed. It’s an entirely new framework.
    I have tried to get you to see this, but you keep going back to your 20th century cold war paradigms, which are entirely inadequate here.

    Response; The paradigms are the same because though the science has changed, people have not. You have constructed in your mind an artificial world subject to logical processes that yield obvious solutions that you propose to implement. The real world with real people in it does not obey the same logical processes, which have been implemented multiple times with disastrous results. It doesn’t matter if you are trying to control science, the number of children people can have, or what religion they may believe in. The outcome is always not what you expected, control of what you set out to control never achieved, and the damage to society orders of magnitude beyond intention, even comprehension. Those things will happen again and it doesn’t matter if you are suppressing Solzhenitsyn’s Cancer Ward or someone’s cool new nanobot. The control systems will fail to control what you set out to control, they will confer power on a handfull of thought police who will become forever corrupted by it, and deliver the technology you fear most into the hands of the people I fear most.

    They will liquidate me, but they have uses for fools. I have to tell you though, they may draw the line at people who wear their pants on their head and can’t maintain their position on an issue from one post to the next while screaming the whole time about logic.

  208. Just in case anyone’s interested, I’ve now read about half of a 1992 book chapter on PNS by Funtowizc and Ravetz. I find it solidifies my previous impression that they have the right diagnosis and the wrong medicine.

    They mention “elevating experts’ guesses to the status of scientific facts” and “how mathematics functions as a means for dogmatism and elitism, little changed in principle since the Pharaos”. Does this seem familiar? The mathematical sophistication of climate models posing as validity? I think they’ve aptly described some problems that we happen to see in the climate controversy, but are not new.

    They also take exception to “radical social reductionism, implying that ‘pollution is in the nose beholder'”.

    But I’m less impressed by their proposed solution to these problems. In fact, I think Willis has hit the target pretty well. “Post-normal science” is a contrived and misleading term. It’s lacking a proper logical relation to Kuhn’s normal science, and using the word science in the context seriously muddies the waters. In calling for the “democratization of science” they are actually not radical enough. The issues and principles that need “democratization” are just politics mislabeled as science. They should be identified as political, and therefore democratic by definition in a democratic society. The precautionary principle would be an example. It’s political, not scientific, and should be the subject of political debate. It can be discussed empirically, but only by studying how it’s worked in the past.

    “Extended facts” is another failed concept. Don’t extend the concept of facts; instead allow non-factual information to inform the debate whenever appropriate.

  209. Dagfinn;
    The precautionary principle would be an example. It’s political, not scientific, and should be the subject of political debate.>>

    Agreed with your whole post and this piece in particular. I have noticed that the concepts of PNS and the precautionary principle are being promoted in the climate debate but no where else. Why only the climate debate? Are there not other facts uncertain, stakes high issues facing the world?

    Iran may be on the verge of a bomb, and has threatened to wipe Israel off the face of the map. No discussion of precautionary principle and Israel taking pre-emptive action.

    Israel taking pre-emptive action would inflame the Arab world with unknown consequences. Ought to be a precautionary principle discussion in that.

    If Iran hits Israel with a nuke and Israel craters every Arab capital in the region so that they aren’t faced with a conventional war while they recover from the nuke attack, what will be the consequence to world oil supply and for how long? Ought to be a precautionary principle discussion in that.

    We’ve had several “near misses” from asteroids in the last few years in the “end of human race” size range. One would think a discussion of precautionary principles in the context of detection and defensive strategies ought to be in order.

    A lot of the older Soviet nuclear reactors have the same design flaw as Chernobyl. One would think this would spark a precautionary principle discussion.

    But no, it is only climate where the facts are uncertain, the stakes high and the matter urgent enough for Phd’s in philosphy to weigh in.

  210. @Buddenbrook

    Give me liberty or give me death. As for the death, it matters not to me whether it comes by way of butter knife or ultimate nullifier.

    You can keep your PNS.

  211. Dagfinn,

    I’d rather talk of a broader framework than of solutions, of an approach rather than any exact answers. The postulation is that: Something akin to a PNS framework is initiated when a field of research has to confront phenomena, that potentially, with considerable probability, poses vast negative, unpredictable or ethically troublesome consequences for the larger society, for mankind. When this occurs it is the moral imperative for the scientists to become scientist-activists, to become politically active, to communicate the risks and the uncertainty to policy makers and the public. As a result the field of research will be politicized and will be a subject to wider political and societal discourse in which the scientists will be key participants. This is not a normal role for a scientist, so it can be seen as “post normal”.

    The popperian figure in his white coat, when becoming avare of potential risks of huge magnitude, has to become aware of the responsibility that comes with this awareness. What I mean with a moral imperative is that he can’t hide behind his lab desk and insist that his responsibility is only to do the research. He is in a unique position to understand the risks and to communicate them. And it is his responsibility.

    This is the context in which the popperian figure has to stop for a moment, throw away his white coat, grab a megaphone and become a scientist-activist out of moral responsibility.

    If the scientist won’t communicate the risks and the uncertainty, who then? Who else will be in a position to understand the research and the risks potentially inherent in it? No one is in a better position than the scientist to understand it. And the scientist carries an aura of authority that is invaluable.

    Someone akin to a post normal scientist is the person who out of necessity combines his role as a researcher with the role as a public spokersperson and activist.
    He will out of necessity deal in uncertainty, and not in the pure, pristine popperian ideals of verification and falsification. As the very tests to falsify/verify whether experiment X could lead to a self-replicator nightmare or something equally dreadful are the very thing he has stood up to confront out of moral necessity, very likely with no scientific certainty to support him.

    He can’t deal in this exact research because he understands that the prudence and pre-caution that follow from the moral imperative place restrictions on this very classical framework itself and it’s traditional freedoms.
    So it is very much a narrative change. Science with the inseparable dimension of in-built risk-awareness, risk-analysis, communication of the risks and risk-avoidance. The post normal scientist-activist as the initiator of this process and it’s central participant.

    Risk avoidance meaning the concrete intervention on the part of the legislative power, as deemed necessary on basis of the communication and analysis in which the scientist-activists have taken part.

    Something akin to this I would picture as the new framework, that is activated whenever deemed necessary on basis of the science/technological research itself.

    The solutions of global surveillance and global restrictions placed on research by the co-operating superpowers of USA, China and EU in the case of the potentially fatal 21st century technologies is a hypothetical answer to a specific case that “post normal scientists” on their part will have to confront. The hypothetical solution to a specific challenge naturally doesn’t define the general framework, rather the case-specific outcome that could result from the ‘post normal’ process.

    One more word on this specific proposed solution to a specific science(technology) related existential risk. The solution is not perfect. I don’t think there are perfect solutions. A round of Russian roulette I see as inevitable. But still the precaution that prudence commands while it cannot completely avert the dangers it can, and this is crucial, remove a number of the bullets before the world, man, in our feverish madness pull the trigger.

    (The folly and fallacy of davidmhoffer is that the pants he insist wearing on his head would shield him against the bullet.)

  212. April 16
    PNS Central Command
    Department of Thought Control
    Scientist Surveillance Division

    Commander; “Buddenbrook, have you got this Hoffer dissenter under control yet?”
    Buddenbrook; “Easily sir. First I said the problem was controlling scientists in the US, China and EU, then I told him the problem was rogue scientists who could be anywhere. Then I hit him with importance of a surveillance network, followed up by explaining it was impossible. His last set of points I totally rebutted using nothing but complete silence. Then, to cap it all off, I convinced him that wearing his pants on his head would make him bullet proof. Totally under control sir.”
    Commander; “Excellent work Buddenbrook. But why are your pants still on your head?”
    Buddenbrook; “Well sir, he said I could be bullet proof too…”

    Buddenbrook;
    The folly and fallacy of davidmhoffer is that the pants he insist wearing on his head would shield him against the bullet.)>>

    I would like to congratulate you on your first attempt at humour. I rate it a slight chuckle and encourage you to continue improving.

    Buddenbrook;
    If the scientist won’t communicate the risks and the uncertainty, who then? Who else will be in a position to understand the research and the risks potentially inherent in it? No one is in a better position than the scientist to understand it. And the scientist carries an aura of authority that is invaluable.>>

    In 1986 scientists testing proposed modifications to a reactor shut down system proceeded with a new experiment despite three earlier failed attempts, and went forward under different conditions known to be outside the operating parameters of the reactor. The experiment not only failed, it caused the reactor to melt down. The number of deaths due to the Chernobyl disaster is still unknown.

    Scientists make mistakes. They have egos. They become so over confident in their theory that they risk the lives of others to prove it, even if it means bypassing the safety systems of a nuclear reactor. How would surveillance have helped prevent this? No one was in better position than them to understand it. They used their aura of authority to show that it was safe. Excellent. The surveillance footage would be very valuable in stopping them because someone would have noticed that their auras were missing.

    The engineers who designed the shuttle warned that a cold weather launch was dangerous. They were asked to PROVE that is was dangerous, and as they could not prove it, the launch went forward, killing everyone on board. Though it was their own design, their aura just wasn’t big enough.

    The framework you propose relies in the honesty, integrity, and competence of scientists who may or may not have it. It relies on others to decide when to listen to them and when not and that they will have the competence to know which is which. It confers powers on the state that cannot control anyone that is determined to evade control. Powers that once granted, cannot be revoked. Powers that once given, seek to force scientists to produce the results that those with power want. That’s how shuttles get launched when they shouldn’t. That’s how reactors get melted down. That’s how we get climate graphs shaped like hockey sticks from computer programs that draw the same hockey stick regardless of the data. That’s how we get taxation systems designed to create a new world order, to solve a problem that can’t be proven, justified by an aura of scientific authority built of science that is fraudulent. Fearing the exposure of their fraud, the collapse of their aura, those who would seize power cover the fraud up with science post normal.

    Power sweeps the aura aside when it is inconvenient. Power raises the aura to defy reality when convenient. Science proved the superiority of the Aryan race. Science proved that the Sun circled the earth. Science proved that disease could be cured by draining blood.

    Your framework relies on honesty, integrity, competence and a complete lack of selfishness. These traits are not reliable in the human population. Sad that they are not, but they are not.

    In any event, it may interest you to know that I once shot myself. I was trying to prove that I could knock a tin can off one rock by ricocheting the bullet off another rock. The possibility of a second ricochet not having occurred to me, I was startled to have shot myself in the chest, knocking myself over backwards. This resulted in momentary concern from my friends, followed by extended laughing once they determined I was OK. So you see, I’m already bullet proof, I have no need to wear my pants on my head. You may do as you wish.

  213. Buddenbrook (15:45:50) :

    For now I’ll have to go with davidmhoffer’s version of caution, at least in this last part of the discussion. In fact, your proposed framework looks to me more like the Stalinist strawman of PNS used by some in this thread than PNS itself.

    But let me walk with your logic part of the way: A scientist who discovers unexpected and unrecognized danger has a moral imperative to come out of the lab, I can follow that. And then “He is in a unique position to understand the risks and to communicate them. And it is his responsibility.” Sure, but will he do so honestly or in a way that manipulates the public to support whatever measure he himself “deems necessary”?

    You keep saying “deemed necessary”. Leif Svalgaard asked “deemed necessary by whom?” It’s an essential question.

    “No one is in a better position than the scientist to understand it.” Well, the risks, but not necessarily the course of action needed to avoid them. And will the scientist try to empower others to understand the risks, or over-simplify them as it’s been done with climate change?

  214. Stalinism? Scientist-activists = Stalinism? In Stalinist Russia scientist-activists would have been sent to the gulags. Scientists were not active political subjects but under strict state control.
    “Deemed necessary by whom”? By the democratic decision making process, in which the scientist-activists would participate. No one is proposing a technocracy.

    What comes to climate change and PNS. The “consensus” scientists have not openly and honestly discussed the uncertainties. They have been more like covert-activists, or rather boastful, corrupted and self-serving “normal scientists”. They have often tried to hide and disguise their political activity.
    “Science is settled” does not imply uncertainty, so in the first place they have been rather reluctant to admit this PNS criteria.

    If they had been honest normal scientists instead of corrupted normal scientists, doubt there would exist a scientific basis to argue for huge risks and political urgency.

    And even if we hypothetically assume the premise of huge risks is valid, then: If they had been honest post normal scientists instead of corrupted normal scientists, openly political, open about the uncertainty, there would exist a much more healthy basis for an honest scientific and political dialogue than there now does.

    Stalinism? There’s only so much stupidity a thinking person can tolerate before it becomes pointless.

  215. Buddenbrook (07:08:27) :

    Thanks for clarifying. It wasn’t obvious from your previous comment that you were calling for honesty and democratic decision-making rather than stealth activism and elitism. Re-reading it, I find that you did mention communicating uncertainty, but that’s about the only clue I can find.

  216. Buddenbrook (07:08:27) :
    Stalinism? Scientist-activists = Stalinism? In Stalinist Russia scientist-activists would have been sent to the gulags. Scientists were not active political subjects but under strict state control.>>

    And yet you continue to propose strict state control, complete with surveillance networks, failing to understand that the inevitable result of what you propose is, in fact, Stalinism.

    Buddenbrook;
    “Deemed necessary by whom”? By the democratic decision making process, in which the scientist-activists would participate. No one is proposing a technocracy.

    You have proposed strict government control of technical research. Despite your good intentions, what it will evolve into is not what you intend or envision.

    Buddenbrook;
    What comes to climate change and PNS. The “consensus” scientists have not openly and honestly discussed the uncertainties. They have been more like covert-activists, or rather boastful, corrupted and self-serving “normal scientists”. They have often tried to hide and disguise their political activity.
    “Science is settled” does not imply uncertainty, so in the first place they have been rather reluctant to admit this PNS criteria. >>

    So you present as evidence the utter failure of a large group of scientists to act in accordance with any semblance of the integrity, honesty and competence required to make your proposal even remotely viable. Do you listen to yourself? I mean really. DO YOU LISTEN TO YOURSELF?

    Buddenbrook;
    If they had been honest normal scientists instead of corrupted normal scientists, doubt there would exist a scientific basis to argue for huge risks and political urgency.>>

    If only they had been, but they weren’t. If only corrupted normal scientists only existed in climate science, but they don’t. If only this meant that those who lust for power, having been thwarted in the realm of climate science, would only put aside their dreams and not pursue a different science to support their quest, but they won’t.

    Buddenbrook;
    And even if we hypothetically assume the premise of huge risks is valid, then: If they had been honest post normal scientists instead of corrupted normal scientists, openly political, open about the uncertainty, there would exist a much more healthy basis for an honest scientific and political dialogue than there now does.>>

    And yet you propose government authority (that you admit won’t work) informed by a surveillance system (that you admit won’t work) and judged by honest post normal scientists (which, having no scientific credentials you cannot differentiate from the corrupt ones) instead of corrupted normal scientists (which you not only can’t differentiate from honest ones, but which thrive in the authoritative government controlled environment you propose).

    Buddenbrook;
    Stalinism? There’s only so much stupidity a thinking person can tolerate before it becomes pointless.>>

    I think you may be correct. My capacity to tolerate stupidity is very low, hence my sarcasm and ascerbic juvenile wit in response, though the facts and logic are always part of the answer. I believe you meant perhaps capacity or patience to deal with stupidity not being infinite, the discussions at some point becomes pointless for one side or the other. While my tolerance remains low, my capacity and patience have not yet been so much as dented. If you wish to continue to spout drivel, could you at least come up with new drivel, you have been repeating yourself of late not to mention providing the very examples that defeat your own arguments. Your last volley, to dismiss your detractors with the devastating criticism that they are stupid and unworthy to continue to debate you is an admission that you have no arguments left to table, and so walk away in a huff, declaring yourself the winner, angry that those with lesser intellects than your own cannot percieve the logic and reason so obvious to you.

    Frankly, and in all seriousness, I think you are a bright guy. You lack real world experience, rely on an education that appears to be entirely theoretical, and live in fear of the predictions of Bill Joy, a brilliant man, but a person who made those predictions quite outside his field of expertise. I suggest that you take steps to broaden your perspective:

    1. Get a job in a Fortune 500 size technology company. Observe for yourself the emergence of fiefdoms that protect and promote themselves even at the expense of the company they work for. Observe for yourself that those who do most of the work and those who take most of the credit are frequently not the same people. Observe for yourself what happens when brilliant researchers, thwarted by the beauracracy and the power of the fiefdmons, become frustrated and leave for places where they will be appreciated.

    2. Read history. Not the clash of civilizations, but the rise to power of the people who controlled them. Investigate in detail the rise to power of people like Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Kruschev, Putin, Ahmadinijhad and Mao. Understand what the levers of power are, and what the stepping stones and usefulness of idiots are in achieving it.

    3. Read the classics of Science Fiction. I am serious. The issues you raise have been dealt with by some of the most astute obervers of the human condition who ever lived. Though the stories they tell were intended for entertainment, they were informed by real life experience by people who frequently lived through massive human conflicts themselves, and more often than not were scientists in their own right. My recommended reading list, by no means authoritative or complete, and in no particular order, follows:

    Isaac Assimov
    The Foundation Series

    John Wyndham
    The Chrysalids

    Ray Bradbury
    Fahrenheit 451

    George Orwell
    1984

    Robert A Heinlein
    The Past Through Tomorrow
    The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
    Starship Troopers (don’t judge the book by the movie)

    James Blish
    Black Easter

    Orson Scott Card
    Ender’s Game
    Ender’s Shadow
    Children of the Mind

    Larry Niven
    Ringworld

    Joe Haldeman
    Forever War
    Forever Peace

    Kurt Vonnegut Jr
    Slaughterhouse 5

    Ursula K LeGuin
    The Left Hand of Darkness
    Something Wicked This Way Comes

    Pournelle (?)
    Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex

  217. Buddenbrook : “If the scientist won’t communicate the risks and the uncertainty, who then? Who else will be in a position to understand the research and the risks potentially inherent in it? No one is in a better position than the scientist to understand it. And the scientist carries an aura of authority that is invaluable.

    Who then? Someone else. Someone with a grasp of politics and the way that the relevant people think and act. These are skills that the scientist might not and typically does not have. If the scientist does get involved in this activity (beyond providing an alert and information) then there is an immediate conflict of interest between this and the ongoing scientific research. History tells us that with such a conflict of interest, almost inevitably the research will be corrupted.

  218. Buddenbrook (15:45:50)

    Dagfinn,

    I’d rather talk of a broader framework than of solutions, of an approach rather than any exact answers. The postulation is that: Something akin to a PNS framework is initiated when a field of research has to confront phenomena, that potentially, with considerable probability, poses vast negative, unpredictable or ethically troublesome consequences for the larger society, for mankind. When this occurs it is the moral imperative for the scientists to become scientist-activists, to become politically active, to communicate the risks and the uncertainty to policy makers and the public. As a result the field of research will be politicized and will be a subject to wider political and societal discourse in which the scientists will be key participants. This is not a normal role for a scientist, so it can be seen as “post normal”.

    I have to confess, when somebody says that there is a “moral imperative” for scientists to become activists because something is “ethically troublesome”, I have to call BS.

    It is precisely these kind of overblown claims that Schneider makes above, that scientists “have to” offer scary statements, that they “have to” make simplified, dramatic statements, that they “have to” conceal their doubts. In other words, Schneider says they have to lie.

    “Have to” lie? Is there a “moral imperative” to lie? That’s the most immoral imperative I’ve heard of in a while. It is absolutely immoral for a scientist to lie and conceal as Schnieder and Buddenbrook recommend.

    I absolutely don’t want research to “be politicized” as Buddenbrook recommends. That is exactly what brought us the CRU email and the scary stories and the dramatic statements.

    I want scientists to warn us of all of the things that Buddenbrook discusses above. I want them to discuss all of the ramifications of their work. But I want them to do it as scientists, not as politicians. That way lies the path of James Hansen, who is living fat on my taxpayer dollars and is advising people to break the law on one hand, and advising that those who disagree with him should face criminal trials on the other hand.

    Finally, I keep asking Buddenbrook for a PRACTICAL EXAMPLE of what he is waving his hands about. No answer yet, he just goes off into another philosophical fantasy. The same is true of Dr Ravetz. I’m not easily discouraged, however, so I’ll ask again. This is the fourth time I’ve asked for an example … Buddenbrook, you do understand what an “example” is, don’t you?

    Willis Eschenbach (12:32:35) :
    Perhaps the third time is the charm …

    Re: Willis Eschenbach (19:11:58)

    Willis Eschenbach (14:23:57)

    Still waiting for an answer … I’ll keep asking …

    Buddenbrook, you might have missed my question. I had asked:

    You say we need “new frameworks” to control the new technologies. I’m afraid I don’t understand what that means … what is a “new framework” when it is at home?

    Give us an example of some “new framework” using some kind of “new science” that actually controlled some new technology. Then please explain to us why we need some kind of new, post-normal science for that framework, why the plain old kind that has served us so well for so long is suddenly inadequate.

    Ravetz says we need a new kind of science because the facts are uncertain, the values are in dispute, and the stakes are high … but when in human history has that not been the case?

    If I understand you, you say we need a new kind of science because we now have the power to turn the planet into radioactive slag … but when has science ever prevented people from using new weapons, large or small?

    You know, an example like “In 19XX, the brand new technology of YY was a problem. Post-normal science solved this problem by ZZ. It could not have been solved by normal science because of RR, SS, and TT.”

    Still waiting …

  219. Buddenbrook (15:45:50)

    If the scientist won’t communicate the risks and the uncertainty, who then? Who else will be in a position to understand the research and the risks potentially inherent in it? No one is in a better position than the scientist to understand it. And the scientist carries an aura of authority that is invaluable.

    I don’t mind the scientists talking about the risks and the uncertainty. I see that as part of their job. However, that is very, very different than the “advocacy” that you and PNS are recommending for scientists. As a very relevant example of what happens when scientists get into advocacy, we have your new breed of “scientist-politician” like Stephen Schneider saying DON’T MENTION THE UNCERTAINTY. Exactly the opposite of what you claim will happen from your gorgeous philosophizing … and there are dozens and dozens of other examples, equally bad, and equally obvious … or at least obvious to everyone but you and Jerry Ravetz.

    Like Ravetz, you are so far into your theories that you have failed to notice what happens when those theories come into the real world. The only thing that I want scientists to be advocates for is scientific truth. Period.

    What has happened from the application of PNS theories is that climate scientists have lost the “aura of authority that is invaluable.” They had it when they were advocates for the truth. When they became scientist-politicians as you and Ravetz have repeatedly advocated, they started dodging FOI requests and making up “scary scenarios”.

    So while your beautiful theories are quite wonderful in some ivory tower abstract sense, wake up and LOOK AT WHAT HAS HAPPENED WHEN THEY HAVE BEEN PUT INTO PRACTICE! They have been an unmitigated disaster, leading an entire field of science into disrepute and destroying the trust that people had in those scientists.

    Sorry to shout, but dang, it’s hard to get through to you, Buddenbrook …

  220. Willis Eschenbach;
    What has happened from the application of PNS theories is that climate scientists have lost the “aura of authority that is invaluable.” >>

    Buddenbrook started out by proposing surveillance and ended with scientists as advocates with an aura of authority. If we are to trust in their advocacy and aura of authority, what value the surveillance? Let alone that neither strategy has ended in anything but disaster in the past. It strikes me that PNS amounts to no more than a mental exercize on the part of “philosophers” trying to make a name for themselves. It has no practical value and when asked to show it, the PNS proponents enter into either circular arguments, or run and hide. The argument itself seems to have value to them, the arriving at practical solutions to real world problems does not seem to be on their agenda, and they are either ignorant of, or just don’t care about, the harm they are doing.

    During the cold war, the US and Russia through various agreements like SALT managed to increase the destructive capacity of their arsenals by trading in A-bombs for H-bombs. There were of course other complexities, but one of the arguments by scientists on both sides related to the massive difference in radiation fall out between the two. By moving to H-bombs, both sides felt that they were in a better position of both deterrance and offensive capacity, but that the reduction in A-bombs increased the chance of “survivability” for both sides. While that is a hypothesis I would not want to see tested, it is interesting that both sides looked at one aspect of nuclear weapons and agreed that some of the scary things were TOO scary. No PNS involved, just determined resolve and tough negotiations.

    If PNS had any real world value, we would see its proponents applying it to something of practical value that could show real world results (or failures). Where is PNS in the debate over NASA’s program directions? One would think raising the spectre of an asteroid collission and having a space program that was in concert with its other goals, preparing a mitigation capability would be a good application of PNS principles. Where is PNS in the discussion of a potential middle east arms race that may well end [in? – willis] nuclear war, cutting off half the worlds oil supply? Again, a case of the facts uncertain and the stakes high, but nary a PNS advocate in sight.

    Politicians come in many different stripes, but I have always divided them into two types. Leaders, and bandwagon jumpers, and far more of the latter. Absent from the PNS advocates are any real leaders. They seem comprised instead of bandwagon jumpers who, once aboard, want to both stear the wagon and choose the music, despite having no experience with either. For them, victory is achieved by convincing people to let them, not by choosing the right tune or keeping the wagon on the road.

  221. Let me start from a different angle: Michael Crichton had a hypothesis about how the global warming scare originated, tracing it back to SETI and the idea of nuclear winter.

    http://www.michaelcrichton.net/speech-alienscauseglobalwarming.html

    In this excellent piece, Crichton explains how unknowable things come to appear knowable, and how you can have bogus calculations of numerical quantities and probabilities. The kind of uncertainty that PNS places in the post-normal category instead comes to appear as normal, quantifiable uncertainty or even near-certainty.

    Where does PNS fit into this? First, Crichton makes it unnecessary to blame PNS, since he offers an alternative explanation of why all this happened. No philosophical theory like PNS is needed to support it. But the question remains whether PNS can make it worse. I’m in two minds about this. On the one hand, PNS pointing out the problem–that some uncertainties represent “ignorance of ignorance”–is potentially helpful. On the other hand, the PNS notion that there is a way to manage these uncertainties and act in spite of them may tempt scientists and politicians to try when they shouldn’t.

    But it seems to me recent history shows that they have to take the issue out of the post-normal domain to achieve that. They need to put error bars on the average global temperature for 2100, even though that’s meaningless. (More specifically, it’s a case of acknowledging only the most immediate, superficial uncertainty and ignoring all deeper ones.)

  222. Dagfinn;

    Crichton’s essay makes considerable sense (though I disagree with the solution). What Crichton fails to do is identify root cause. He cites many examples of a consensus based on fiction over ruling actual science, and notes correctly that these are just a few of many. Without root cause, we can only treat the symptoms, a cure will elude us in all but a few cases of happenstance. The blood letters of medieval Europe became wealthy practitioners of “medical science” though most of their patients died. Had I been alive at that time, they would have in fact saved my life. I have a rare condition for which blood letting is the only treatment. I would have been one of their success stories, but only by accident.

    So what is the root cause? I remember the first reports of “nuclear winter” emerging. I asked at the time why only the cooling effects of increased dust were included in the study and warming ignored, but I was shouted down by my peers and high school science teachers. Years later “nuclear winter” had evolved to autumn and then summer. I remember the fear mongering used to fight nuclear power, and I note the techniques were not dissimilar to the fear mongering about global warming. I explained how to properly approximate the burst radius of a nuclear device by including the square/cube law in the equations to show that the combined nuclear arsenals of the world had not even a fraction of what was required to destroy the world 24 times over as was often cited at the time. I was dismissed, people would rather believe the worst, and THAT is the root of the problem. I even remember when the accident happened at the Three Mile Island reactor. A rumour circulated in one of my university classes that if the worst happened and the reactor melted down, it would trigger all the other reactors in the world to do the same. A poor understanding of physics at best made all that much sadder in that it was a second year engineering physics class that I was attending. People have a natural affinity for hysteria that is much stronger than their affinity for physics.

    My own observation is that the human condition is not only fearful of the unknown, but that we have a psychological need to have something to fear. When there is nothing to fear but fear itself, we have, throughout history, invented something for ourselves to fear. We’ve invented ghosts and goblins and bandersnatches and UFO’s and nuclear winter and global warming, and none of these have any more evidence to support their existence than Santa Clause. But I cannot find a single adult who believes Santa Clause. They believe in ghosts and nuclear winter and global warming for one reason. They need something to fear, and who would fear Santa Clause? They need something to bind them and the rest of the tribe together in a common community committed to mutual survival. Without that bond, the tribe would fragment, rendering it incapable of a unified response when a real threat appears. It is little wonder that those who seek power invent conspiracies to fight and enemies to hate. In the absence of a real threat, something must hold the tribe together, and human beings gravitate to that more easily than they gravitate to science. When the purse strings to science are held by government, they become just another tool in the hands of those who seek power to sew fear and unite the tribe behind them. Useful idiots will, in their desire to have something to fear, leap to support them.

    My own solution is slightly different from Crichton’s. I think that science, climate models in particular, must be put back in the private sector. Put up a $1 billion prize to the company which can produce the most accurate climate model over the next 20 years. I guarantee that the models that emerge will not have a single ounce of anything but pure science in them. The fear of losing the prize, and the investment made to win it, will guarantee that. Anyone building a model using company cash and resources based on PNS will soon find themselves looking for a job. I am certain they will find one though, UFO’s have not yet been entirely discredited, there are plenty of conspiracy theories left to leverage, evil corporations to fight, and usefull idiots to recruit to fictitious causes.

  223. davidmhoffer (15:00:36) :

    Yes, the tendency to believe in scare stories is widespread. So is the opposite, the tendency to be in denial of them. You make that point well yourself when discussing the Chernobyl operators. Over-confidence can cause either to happen.

    I have a slightly different idea at about the same level of generality: communicating uncertainty is almost a contradiction in terms, since the core value of goal-directed communication is typically clarity. Can you be clear and unambiguous about ambiguity and lack of clarity? It’s hard.

    Your idea about a prize for the most accurate climate model presupposes that accurate climate models are possible, and that if one is invented, it’s possible to confirm its accuracy. If you’re thinking in terms of long-term forecasting, I don’t see how you could confirm it without waiting several decades.

  224. 2 degrees of global warming will definitely not definitely happen. You didn’t get that? What I mean is that it’s absolutely certain that it’s uncertain. Right? ;-)

  225. Dagfinn;

    Perhaps I should have said move it to the private sector and just left it at that. But consider:

    1. We need to separate the collection of data from the analysis. By having the same researchers do both, we open the door for political agendas to influence the selection, bias, and analysis. The complexity of working backward from the final result to expose the cherry picking and misused analysis is enormous. By separating the two, we can make the sole criteria for each accuracy. Those who build models will insist on accurate data, and will discard any they consider suspect as a risk to their work. The providers of data will meet high standards, or find themselves irrelevant. Models rewarded financially only for the accuracy of their results will discard political influence as a matter course. With your investment on the line based on the accuracy of your results, whose data would you rather use? CRU or Surfacestations.org?

    2. By funding climate science through the public research system, we have not only exposed it to political agendas, we have confined it to environments that specialize in theoretical research. Our goal being the development of models with practical application, we should be noting that the development of practical applications is the domain of the private sector. The Manhatten Project is perhaps the only example I can think of which tests the rule. For the most part, when your air force is being decimated by Messerschmidts and Zeros, you don’t put in an emergency call to the University of East Anglia or plead with Harvard and Oxford for advice. You put in calls to Pratt and Whitney and Rolls Royce and Allison asking for better engines. You call Browning for better machine guns. You call Lockheed and NAA and ask for better air frames. You start building the P38 Lightning, dubbed the “fork tailed devil” by Germany and the P51 Mustang.

    3. Do not underestimate the creativity and pace with which the private sector can solve problems provided that there is a financial incentive to do so. Who do you suppose knows more about fluid dynamics and heat transfer? The average climate scientist or the average automotive engineer designing cooling systems for engines? I don’t know the answer. What I do know is that there is a tremendous amount of knowledge in the heads of people who have track records of successfully solving complex problems through multi-disciplinary teams, and the preponderance of them are in the private sector where results are rewarded, not the serving of political agendas. The private sector, with financial incentives driving them, actively seek out the research path that everyone else missed. The public sector excludes those paths that lie outside the accepted narrative as a threat to the status quo and political agenda that must not just be discarded, but discredited lest it take root elsewhere.

    4. I don’t know how long it would take to demonstrate that models are practical (or impossible) or the time period required to show their accuracy. What I do know is that the current state of affairs is held hostage to political interference and is producing both data and analysis that is suspect in many cases and fraudulent in some. Good work is being done within the system, but who can separate it from the garbage? Have NASA and other government organizations collect the data and make it available. Outsource the work of analysis to the private sector and reward them on the quality of their results. Create an environment that is by nature competitive with the greatest rewards falling to those who produce the best results. This does not require a climate model of the earth as a whole as its first or only goal. For example, base funding could be provided to a half dozen contractors to provide a predictive model of the gulf stream with a bonus for accuracy over two years. Make the same data publicly available to anyone who wants to take a run at it on their own, with a prize for outperforming the contractors. Put up another contract for modelling the jet stream. Another for hurricane prediction. Do I know what the results will be? Not a clue, and that is the point. When the RAF approached North American Aviation to build Tomahawk fighters for them they knew what they wanted and what the results would be. NAA proposed instead a new fighter that was cheaper, faster, better, and could be in production sooner. Had the goals, research, and funding been confined to the RAF, it would have been more Tomahawks that they spent their money on. By allowing the creativity of the private sector to come into play, they received instead the Mustang, arguably the dominant fighter of WW2.

    When you throw money at a problem that is constrained by politics, you get results constrained by politics. When artificial fears drive research funding, the research can only reinforce the fears lest the funding dry up. Are my proposals practical? I don’t know. But find some that are practical in moving analysis to the private sector and I guarantee results based on science. I guarantee results that are faster, better, cheaper, and available sooner. If in fact the stakes are high, the facts uncertain, then why would we be so insane as to put our future in the hands of a system that by its nature is incapable of producing anything but an affirmation of the status quo? I suspect that we indeed have nothing to fear but fear itself when it comes to climate change. When a private company, with its long term investment and financial viability on the line, based on rigorous and verifiable data, with no vested interest in any actions that may be taken as a consequence of their analysis, says there is something to fear, I shall pay attention. All else is just ghosts and goblins and UFO’s and secret conspiracies being held at bay by the caped crusader named PNS. My personal belief is that he is the evil twin brother of Santa Clause, has acolytes who wear their pants on their head, and for whom the outcome is only a theoretical exercise in which they have interest in the process, not the result.

  226. Dagfinn (21:48:29) :
    2 degrees of global warming will definitely not definitely happen. You didn’t get that? What I mean is that it’s absolutely certain that it’s uncertain. Right? ;-)>>

    Certainly. I see no uncertainty about it. I am steadfast in my certitude, which is absolute with the sole exception of the part that is definite.

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