Cohen comments on the Revkin Dot Earth op/ed

Dr. Roger Cohen, APS member, sends this via email commenting on this Dot Earth article.

Where do I start?

Well, maybe the most offensive part of this column is the use of psychobabble to distract and divert attention from the real issue, which is the science, and whether it has been corrupted. Of course Revkin will \”share Ropeik’s view.\” Would there be any doubt? This mumbo jumbo is a symptom of the burgeoning industry of treating global warming deniers as mentally ill, a stark reminder of how easy it was for the Soviet Union to throw dissenters into mental hospitals.

Am I exaggerating? Hardly. Take a look at this piece on a conference held in 2009 at the University of West England http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/6320/ . It was aimed at trying to understand just what affliction plagues those people who simply don’t see or can’t find the \”mountains of evidence\” for serious anthropogenic global warming. Evidently it has spawned a new field — \”ecopsychology.\” Lord help us.

As for the science, Lewis and many others who have bothered to actually look into it cannot find the purported strong case for serious anthropogenic global warming. Indeed the balance of evidence points to a small anthropogenic component, far smaller than IPCC summary conclusions. It will of course take time for this to be widely understood and broadly accepted, but it will. There will be a Kuhnian paradigm shift at some point. Meanwhile the tainted IPCC process and other shenanigans have caused public erosion in the trust it had invested in science and scientists. None of us know how this distrust, which is part of the larger decline of confidence in our key institutions, will resolve.

As for the APS and Dr. Lewis’s beef with it, readers may wish to review the information available at http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/10/13/aps-responds-deconstructing-the-aps-response-to-dr-hal-lewis-resignation/ It sheds a bit more light on what is really going on.

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166 thoughts on “Cohen comments on the Revkin Dot Earth op/ed

  1. Who could give some comment on the central criticism Revkin raised in his Op-Ed: how Hal changed his point of view during these years? Are there some turning point or it happened gradually?

  2. You say: “Well, maybe the most offensive part of this column is the use of psychobabble to distract and divert attention from the real issue, which is the science, and whether it has been corrupted.”
    I disagree, “the science” is not the real issue. The real issue is acquisition and consolidation of political power. The scientific exercise is merely a convenience, no different than the ancient pronouncements of oracles, which also were used for the same purpose. Scientist’s object to being used in this manner, but that is the reality. You should know this.

  3. dahuang:
    At October 15, 2010 at 1:01 pm you write:
    “Who could give some comment on the central criticism Revkin raised in his Op-Ed: how Hal changed his point of view during these years? Are there some turning point or it happened gradually?”
    That is NOT a criticism: it is a question concerning the process which induced Hal Lewis to reach his present understanding of the issue(s).
    And only Hal Lewis can answer it.
    Jeez! The desperation of AGW-proponents is really reaching a crescendo now everybody can see their hobby-horse is falling apart.
    Richard

  4. I am afraid that science may have hit the same tipping point journalism hit as far as trust is concerned. When people had other outlets for information and could look things up themselves they found that the print and television “news outlets” were not being entirerly truthful. I am afraid that some scientists have done the same thing and an entire profession is being tarred with the same brush. Trust is a very fragile thing that sometimes takes years to develop but only moments to erode and may never be built up again or may take decades to re-enforce again.

  5. Revkins’ article reeks of a religious apologetic tract. He focuses not on the issues, but in character assasination of the heretics.

  6. Funny, changing one’s point of view is precisely what most of the debate over AGW Climate Change Climate Disruption is about from those for whom it is not a religion. In the last twenty years much more data and analysis has been performed, much of which has cast doubt on the thesis that man has or is influencing the climate to any great degree. The CRU e-mails lay bare some of the behind-the-scenes machinations that were being perpetrated by some of the scientists involved in climate research, in order to frame the results (and debate) along their preconceived ideas. So, yes, in twenty years, it would be very easy to change one’s mind as new data becomes available.

  7. Encore! Encore!
    ________________________
    Ref – WTF says:
    October 15, 2010 at 1:24 pm
    Very well said!

  8. Richard Courtney has it nailed: we are seeing desperation. Here I will indulge in a little social psychology, courtesy of the academic social psychologist in the family. Unlike Revkin’s pop psychobabble, the following is based on classical models and experiments.
    As contrary evidence has accumulated and political efforts have been frustrated, proponents of global warming have shown signs of cognitive dissonance. More than a half century ago, Leon Festinger developed the concept of cognitive dissonance and conducted early studies referred to even today. The idea is that when presented with information that is dissonant from strong beliefs that people have invested in, the easiest way to deal with it is to ignore it, divert attention to something else, or simply avoid that type of information. This helps explain why people can be resistant to new information which should be good news. Why would you get angry if someone tells you, “There won’t be a climate catastrophe.”
    But how can a belief be held so strongly when most people do not have the training or the inclination to make a personal scientific assessment? Well, it is easy for people to fold their global warming cognitive into their political cognitive or their too-many-people cognitive, or whatever. There it becomes hardily resistant to new information.
    Past studies give us insight into today’s debate dynamics. One study followed people who bought bomb shelters during the Cold War. It found that they tended to exaggerate the threat of nuclear war and to discount peace proposals, almost as if they were invested in nuclear war. Also, Festinger’s book, “When Prophecy Fails,” tells of a doomsday cult that predicted the end of the world on a particular date. When the day came and went, paradoxically the believers became even more determined they were right. They became louder and proselytized even more aggressively.
    So as more evidence continues to mount against serious global warming, we can expect ever more strident, bizarre, and opaque defenses — and attacks — from proponents.
    And a consequnce of these observations is is that someone who has indeed changed his mind on a matter of substance has had to have overcome his dissonances at some point. It is a credibility enhancing proposition.

  9. WTF says:
    October 15, 2010 at 1:24 pm
    “Trust is a very fragile thing that sometimes takes years to develop but only moments to erode and may never be built up again or may take decades to re-enforce again.”
    If the erosion of trust leads to people thinking for themselves, then that’s a good thing.

  10. What strikes me as irrational is that an intelligent person like Dr. Lewis, who has devoted his professional life to science, would either pay no heed to, or dismiss, the mountains of scientific evidence, from neuroscience and psychology and economics and sociology, that demonstrates beyond any serious question that the way we perceive risk is affective… Our fears are a combination of the facts and how those facts feel.
    And Revkin agrees with this drivel. What Dr. Lewis is pointing out is that the facts just aren’t there, but the catastrophists have been pushing the affect (fear) for all they are worth. Just read the litany of disasters from the first commenter:
    The clustering of bigger floods and more drought, more extremes, loss of water supplies, ocean acidification, spread of disease, increase of insects as warmer seasons lengthen is so obvious
    The she has the chutzpah to lament the spread of disinformation. Pathetic.

  11. The organisers say the conference will explore how ‘denial’ is a product of both ‘addiction and consumption’ and is the ‘consequence of living in a perverse culture which encourages collusion, complacency and irresponsibility’
    I’ve been much, much, worse than they think, but I’m better now.

  12. Though there are many things wrong in Revkin’s post, there is one egregious blunder. Quoting Ropeik who writes:
    “Our brains are hard wired to do it this way. It seems Dr. Lewis is demonstrating the very phenomenon he laments, letting his affect and worldviews interfere with taking all the reliable evidence into account in order to make a truly informed and fair judgment.”
    Revkin writes: “I share Ropeik’s view.”
    What Ropeik wrote is a gross ad hominem directed at Lewis. The claim made in the ad hominem is itself an example of the worst kind of pseudo-science. I will be blunt about this. Only communists believe that our ideas cause our perceptions. Only communists attempt to decipher the “ideology of the proletariat” so that they can control the proletariat. And to the extent that Thomas Kuhn still believes this nonsense then he might be one of them. In his addresses during the middle seventies, he had backed away from this stuff. In the philosophy of science, we went through all this nonsense in the sixties and the seventies. Figuring out the puzzles that Kuhn posed was fun. But all this is finished for serious thinkers. Maybe the pro-AGW-AGCD folks are so enraged and so desperate that they are falling back on their underlying communism at this point.
    I have a standing challenge to pro-AGW thinkers and I extend it to Revkin in particular. State the evidence for serious manmade climate warming from manufactured CO2 and state it in your own words. You cannot do it. There is no evidence.

  13. Robert E. Phelan says:
    October 15, 2010 at 1:51 pm
    Just read the litany of disasters from the first commenter:…
    She also said:
    Andy, if you wonder why people quit commenting here…
    After reading her second lengthy, rambling post I had the answer!

  14. dahuang says:
    Who could give some comment on the central criticism Revkin raised in his Op-Ed: how Hal changed his point of view during these years? Are there some turning point or it happened gradually?

    As Mr Courtney quite correctly points out above:
    “And only Hal Lewis can answer it.”
    but I could offer opinion upon it. And that would be that everyone can and often will, change their minds as they learn new things.
    When I was a child, during my formative years i was taught about global climate and it was quite a scary thing. You see that many of today’s warming alarmists ( and many now departed ) were telling me via the TV, radio and my school curriculum, that we were headed for a particularly nasty ice age and that there was nothing to be done about it.
    The nature of science, when done properly means that we learn new things every day. Those same climate doomsayers who promised me a glacial ice shelf as far south as London in the 70’s are the same people trying to convince me I’ll be drinking wine from Scottish grapes in a few hundred years.
    But I do accept that there will be another ice ag and I accept that it’s inevitable. Just the same as I also accept that we will see ( and IMO are probably nearing ) another peak warming period because that’s just the nature of the thing if the ice core data is to be believed ( and I am inclined to believe it )
    They can call it global warming, climate change, global climate disruption or whatever moniker takes their fancy. I’d prefer to coin a new phrase for it.
    The climate roller-coaster.
    Because that’s exactly what it is and it’s such a huge ride that we are having difficulty pinpointing and agreeing where exactly we are upon it. One thing for sure is that making the guys in the front car rich with a new form of climate financial market won’t make the cars go any faster or slower than the force driving the ride is inclined to allow.

  15. From a paper linked on the Judith Curry’s blog:
    http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/admin/publication_files/resource-2590-2008.05.pdf
    quote:
    Aaron McCright and Dunlap (2003) identify the
    conservative movement as a central obstacle to US policy
    proposals concerning human-induced climate change, and
    examine how a small group of ‘‘dissident’’ or ‘‘contrarian’’
    scientists lent crucial scientific credentials and authority to
    conservative think tanks. McCright and Dunlap (2000)
    analyze the discourses structuring the contrarian scientists’
    counter-claims related to climate change and how conservative
    think tanks have mobilized these claims to
    undermine concern about climate change. Carvalho
    (2007) found that the American skeptics also have featured
    prominently in the British ‘‘quality press’’ in support of a
    neoliberal, capitalist agenda.
    The above-mentioned sociological work on the antienvironmental
    movement establishes the what and the how
    dimensions of scientists’ engagement with it. What it does
    not illuminate is why such scientists have chosen to lend
    their support to this movement: Who are they? Where do
    they come from? What motivates them? This paper seeks to
    answer these questions with regards to three influential
    physicists who joined the backlash, Frederick Seitz, Robert
    Jastrow, and William Nierenberg (hereafter referred to as
    ‘‘the trio’’).
    The trio is a subgroup within the dozen or so high-profile
    US scientists who have been staunch and public in voicing
    their criticisms of environmental concern about humaninduced
    climate change and associated policy action. The
    contrarians represent numerous disciplines and vary also in
    terms of other factors (age, home institutions, status) etc.
    but about half of them are physicists.7 This study discusses
    the sociological significance of this strong representation of
    physicists among the contrarians, but without drawing
    conclusions about physicists as a whole.
    end quote

  16. Revkin is still under the mistaken impression that the uber-majority of scientists are proponents of the AGW-CO2 hypothesis. The ‘deniers’ are just a vocal fringe. But see “Six myths about “deniers”” in Quadrant Magazine. http://www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/doomed-planet/2010/03/six-myths-about-deniers
    Moreover there seems to be a misperception on his part as to the burden of proof. The null hypothesis is that climate change is driven mostly by natural variations modulated by human induced forcings at the regional level (land use/land cover changes, aerosols, UHIs).
    Those who think CO2 dominates climate change must show attribution–not just that the climate is warming. As Lewis points out, to date proof of attribution is tepid at best.

  17. In general, Revkin is a lot fairer than I would expect from the NYT. The article was OK until he brought in Ropeik, who cares what another journalist thinks about it? It would have been cool if Revkin just suspended judgement, just let Lewis speak for himself. It would have been interesting to just let Lewis explain in his own words why he is so angry and what he thinks has happened in academic physics in recent years. By prematurely interjecting his opinion, Revkin risks alienating Lewis and short circuiting what could be a fascinating series. The smart thing is to develop the relationship with Lewis and see where it goes, it might even turn into an interesting book.

  18. Revkin in the comments on the 2nd page:

    I always enjoy how those who claim global warming concern is about “following the money” rarely note that global warming contrarianism could just as easily be ascribed to the same trait (with the money in that case the profits of the entrenched fossil fuel industries and businesses reliant on fossil fuels for profits).

    I think its time that Revkin put up or shut up. Where is the fossil fuel industry/businesses reliant on fossil fuels for profits money supposedly pouring into “global warming contrarianism”? I’ve never seen any. Steve McIntyre is running on his pension and the occasional kindness of strangers. Anthony has certainly lost money as a result of his opinions.
    Where are the contrarian Al Gores or James Hansens making large amounts of money (in the millions)?
    We are never told who these rich contrarians are because THEY DON’T EXIST. Its a bullshit talking point by a bullshit-talking journalist uninterested in anything remotely like facts or evidence. Its the same boring lie repeated over and over as a near axiom that somehow, somewhere scientists like Hal Lewis or Freeman Dyson or Sallie Baliunas or Ross McKitrick are being bought with secret slushfunds to proclaim something that they know to be false. We’ve seen climatologists fired from their jobs because of their principled stand – but where is the money for doing so?
    And when fossil fuel companies like Exxon Mobil give $100 million dollars to Stephen Schneider’s Stanford University by some miracle it all gets transformed from the Mark of Cain to golden haloes. Does Revkin consider than Stanford’s environmental output is in any way corrupted by the huge flows of money that flow to alarmists and activists from fossil fuel interests? Why not? For $100 million I’d consider endorsing Revkin as a plausible journalist.
    Hey Revkin – put up or STFU. Where is this money that is supposedly pouring from the spigot of the nearest oil company into the pockets of contrarians? Lets see the invoices, the flash cars, the mansions, the gold cufflinks. Let’s see if you can actually produce evidence of your preposterous and defamatory statements.

  19. I cannot believe that an intelligent human being would ask Hal Lewis to explain why he changed his views? He changed them because of new experience.

  20. Roger says
    —————–
    Well, maybe the most offensive part of this column is the use of psychobabble to distract and divert attention from the real issue, which is the science, and whether it has been corrupted.
    —————–
    Don’t like offensive psychobabble?
    Then why do you like; thousands of physicists are committing fraud that is motivated by trillions of dollars.
    Do you have any evidence that physicists are motivated by trillions of dollars? Can you point to an experiment that proves that it is true? The psychologists you disparaged have done experiments.
    So did you just make up this motivation theory to suit yourself?
    Remind me again what you call physicists who just make stuff up. Frauds wasn’t it?
    The whole motivation theory that is being used by you and Hal Lewis is psychobabble. And there is no doubt that it is beyond offensive, it’s despicable.
    And by the way I am not a physicist.

  21. dahuang says:
    “Who could give some comment on the central criticism Revkin raised in his Op-Ed: how Hal changed his point of view during these years? Are there some turning point or it happened gradually?”
    To quote another famous person ” When the facts change, I change my opinion. What do you do, Sir?”
    Twenty years ago we thought that CO2 increased prior to warming (from early work on ice cores). With better analysis, this was shown not to be the case and the further critical analysis of Arrhenius’ “greenhouse” theory has shown that there are not only limits to the effect that CO2 can have, but that there are also many more factors affecting climate. As any scientist would, Prof. Lewis changed his opinion.
    Prof. Lewis’ central thesis (in his resignation letter) is that as people became financially involved in responses to AGW, they ceased to be scientists and refused to accept that the new evidence refuted their position. In that sense, they became frauds and he felt no compunction in referring to them as such. In his response to Revkin, he said exactly this – any time a scientist goes beyond the evidence (or does not review the whole body of evidence) he commits scientific fraud. The only caveat is where he compares the outcome in terms of cost (and, one may presume, benefit to the perpetrator) as to whether the fraud is damaging or not.

  22. DitelHead says:
    October 15, 2010 at 2:19 pm
    And so we finally get to the core of the issue. Mine is a “libertarian” blog, about the science of indoctrination. We knew 25 years ago that Hansen was wrong.

    And society still taught me through the media, and the schools how right he was…what a shame…oh wait, I became such a great alarmist with all of that indoctrination…guess it really does not work out as much as they think it does. People who learn how to think can not be lied to like that.
    Then again, I did get into trouble for being sarcastic starting in the sixth grade about saving the rainforest. I asked the teacher wouldn’t it be better to save starving children in Africa? And she said that I can do that on my own time, and then it started with me just ruining the lesson plans. Goes to show, education and thinking are something you can’t teach out of every child…and I even took the token climate science class at my college where despite being very vocal I still made an A because as the professor said, “you made your point well, which is what science is about.” I might say look at the grades Al Gore made in environmental science…and compare them to me, but that misses the point too.
    The point being, indoctrination does not work. The harder you push it, the more people will slip through the cracks…its the general idea from Star Wars that is correct, the harder you curtail liberty, the more people who will slip through in the process. I am not scared for our children, I am scared for these doom-sayers who see their numbers coming up and a younger generation telling them they are retarded and need to go back to school. We might take one step back, but in reality this is really two steps forward as the next generation does its own thing. Just wait and see is what I got to say.

  23. I am a retired lawyer, earlier a chemical engineer. I have no expertise in global climate science, but I do have a fine-tuned sense of bullsh*t. And I have worked with PhD physicists, some of whom were not exactly free of bias toward the desired result. (Nothing to do with climate, but exemplary of the human being behind the degree).
    I have been reading about the development of quantum physics way back in the twenties. Even Einstein had his bias toward classical physics. And there were a lot of disagreements among the investigators. I would say that the science is never settled, or we would have no quantum mechanics. Funny what a little “h” can do for you. (Plancks constant, for the civilians).

  24. Lazy Teenager:
    At October 15, 2010 at 2:38 pm you say;
    “And by the way I am not a physicist.”
    Obviously not from the nonsense with which you introduced that information.
    Richard

  25. Bill DiPuccio says:
    October 15, 2010 at 2:21 pm
    “Revkin is still under the mistaken impression that the uber-majority of scientists are proponents of the AGW-CO2 hypothesis. The ‘deniers’ are just a vocal fringe. But see “Six myths about “deniers”” in Quadrant Magazine.”
    In addition, let us not forget that the academy lives under the heavy hand of “political correctness.” Very few on campus have the “balls of iron” to take on the PC crowd. For goodness sake, I bow to the god of “Diversity” daily. There is no way I would take it on. Doing so would bring nothing but grief. No doubt most scientists are unwilling to criticize the PC orthodoxy on AGW for the same reason. By the way, the PC crowd includes not just other academics but a whole host of individuals including the administrators.

  26. None of us know how this distrust, which is part of the larger decline of confidence in our key institutions, will resolve.

    From childhood, through my teens and into my 20’s, I held Scientists in the highest esteem. Since then my faith in the system has been slowly eroded to the position I find myself in now. That is to say (in eco-psychological terms), I am completely unable to accept or believe any assertion any scientist makes on any subject whatsoever. This is especially true if the assertion is made in the mainstream media, particularly by Geoffrey Lean (who has now dropped AGW as his subject de jure and started wittering on about how awful HCFC’s are).

  27. Lazy Teenager
    I am not a physicist either, but I do not have a closed mind. I have listened and read this warmist propaganda, since I was a teenager.
    When you grow up, maybe you will open your mind, and understand when you are being manipulated by people trying to appeal to your values to suit their ends and means. Or maybe you won’t.
    If you won’t learn, who will have won, you, or the psychologists? With their psychobabble, or yours?

  28. Who needs Revkin? Oh yes, only when he gave no credence to the Rotten ice story… That’s not much to salvage.

  29. What strikes me as irrational is that an intelligent person like Dr. Lewis, myself and Andy Revkin who has devoted his professional life to science, would either pay no heed to, or dismiss, the mountains of scientific evidence, from neuroscience and psychology and economics and sociology, that demonstrates beyond any serious question that the way we perceive risk is affective… Our fears are a combination of the facts and how those facts feel.
    There you are, Ropeik, corrected.
    Theo Godwin, there is a lot of evidence that our preconceptions can drastically alter what we perceive, it’s nothing to do with communist or right-wing or any political affinities – however, political extremists in all directions IMO suffer from hyperinflated preconceptions.

  30. Tim Clark says: “…I’ve been much, much, worse than they think, but I’m better now.”
    I hope you’re feeling robust.

  31. All closed orthodoxies generate theories to explain why their critics are flawed or irrelevant. The word reprobate was originally a Calvinist term which meant ‘preordained to eternal damnation’. If you disagreed with Calvinism, well, that was the plainest evidence that you were reprobate; and who cares about the views of someone who is going to spend their eternity with Satan? Marxists believed that the historical process was an inevitable one, culminating in a proletarian state. Either you were on the side of history or you weren’t; and if you weren’t, you have no share in the future and your opinions were worthless anyway: into the ‘dustbin of history’ with you. Of course, the real experts on this were the Freudians. Freud himself was to assert that those who criticised his theory of the Oedipus complex were themselves repressing their own Oedipal feelings: the more strongly you argued against it, presumably, you more you proved Dr Freud right. Discussing your opponents views in terms of their ‘affect’ is the mark of a self-satisfied cult: the only differnce between them and the Scientologists is their better access to the media.

  32. Back in the day, a single counterexample was all it took to disprove a theory, a person who constantly adjusted a theory to account for counterexamples was a crackpot, and a person who adjusted data to account for counterexamples was a fraud. It’s a shame that Dr. Lewis hasn’t been able to keep up with the advancements of modern science (sarcasm).

  33. Lucy Skywalker says:
    October 15, 2010 at 3:31 pm
    “Theo Godwin, there is a lot of evidence that our preconceptions can drastically alter what we perceive…”
    I believe that all that evidence is limited to parlor tricks. However, the crucial point is somewhat different. Is it the case that our ideas or beliefs cause our experiences to such a degree that possession of certain ideas or beliefs contribute causally to our experiences? The claim that I addressed is that Lewis’ fears caused a change in his experiences regarding climate change. Such views are the heart and soul of Marxism. Recall that the “new man” cannot be achieved/realized until the bonds of capitalism are broken; that is, the proletariat cannot accept communist ideology until they are freed from capitalism. After one such lecture, a friend of mine once quipped “If we are all so damned alienated, let’s go have a good time.”

  34. heh, I was going to write about how the would post my comments, but apparently after a couple more they decided to post it……..here’s my take on Revkin’s hatchet job and what I posted in his comments section…..
    Wow, Mr. Revkin actually moved the entire conversation from the antics of the APS(the stated reason for Dr. Lewis’ resignation) to the views behind Dr. Lewis’ conversion from alarmist to skeptic! Well played! I was under the mistaken impression that journalists reported rather than make news. Mr. Revkin, you are manufacturing the news. Did you even bother asking him about his petition? Or the by-laws governing the APS? How do you even make the jump to your article? 20y/o writings that were neither mentioned by Dr. Lewis nor the APS’s response nor in the deconstruction of the response by Drs Cohen, Happer and Lewis. Subtle advocacy at its best!

  35. When a politician changes their mind it is called `flip flopping on the issues’ and is regarded as a sign of weakness. For a scientist the opposite is true. A scientist who looks at the evidence and changes their mind is evidencing that most important attribute that a scientists can possess, namely a mind that is open to be changed.

  36. Ropeik [and Revkin]:
    Our fears are a combination of the facts and how those facts feel.
    Our brains are hard wired to do it this way.

    Ropeik has trapped himself within his own schema: how does he know that he is not doing the same thing over and over again when he tries to escape this “hard wired” mechanism to try to evaluate what is a scientific fact or method?
    Of course, Ropeik can speak for himself as to how his mind works. But, then again, according to his own posited mechanism, we can’t trust what he says as being related to reality, including what he says about himself.

  37. Theo Goodwin: “The claim made in the ad hominem is itself an example of the worst kind of pseudo-science.”
    Check the quote again: “It seems Dr. Lewis is demonstrating the very phenomenon he laments, letting his affect and worldviews interfere with taking all the reliable evidence into account…”
    Ropeik is claiming that Lewis’s worldviews are influencing him to discount the evidence for global warming. Is this ad hominen? I’m not sure, but the notion of cognitive dissonanace is well understood.
    As one commentator has put it: “The idea is that when presented with information that is dissonant from strong beliefs that people have invested in, the easiest way to deal with it is to ignore it, divert attention to something else, or simply avoid that type of information.”

  38. Perhaps Revkin could explain why the late Stephen Schneider changed his views from global cooling to global warming: http://www.john-daly.com/schneidr.htm
    Schneider S. & Rasool S., “Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Aerosols – Effects of Large Increases on Global Climate”, Science, vol.173, 9 July 1971, p.138-141
    It is found that, although the addition of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere does increase the surface temperature, the rate of temperature increase diminishes with increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. (I think Lewis said that as well)
    For aerosols, however, the net effect of increase in density is to reduce the surface temperature of Earth. Becuase of the exponential dependence of the backscattering, the rate of temperature decrease is augmented with increasing aerosol content.
    An increase by only a factor of 4 in global aerosol background concentration may be sufficient to reduce the surface temperature by as much as 3.5 deg.K. If sustained over a period of several years, such a temperature decrease over the whole globe is believed to be sufficient to trigger an ice age.
    “It is found that even an increase by a factor of 8 in the amount of CO2, which is highly unlikely in the next several thousand years, will produce an increase in the surface temperature of less than 2 deg. K.”

  39. Lucy Skywalker,
    Since the topic is rather important, I will try to be really clear. I might accept the claim that an eighteen year old male who lives in a highly patriarchal society does have his experiences of young women shaped somewhat by beliefs peculiar to his society. However, the important item here is the complexity of the context. The several contexts which must be investigated when we experiment on our young man are relatively simple and common to a lot of people. By contrast, if we are to experiment on Professor Lewis then the contexts become highly ramified, even supremely ramified. The reason is that the contexts in which Professor Lewis operates include his evolving understanding of some rather complicated physical theories and a whole bunch of related matters, such as a history of relevant experiments. Right away, our experimental psychologist hits a road block because he cannot understand these contexts. The experimental psychologist is unable to describe the interaction between Lewis’ evolving ideas and his experiences. Even if the psychologist could do so, what he would find is that Lewis’ set of ideas and their evolution are unique to Lewis, a matter that should not be surprising given Lewis’ achievements. Hence, if we discovered something about Lewis’ ideas, it could not be generalized to other thinkers. The discovery would necessarily belong to biography not science. In conclusion, productive scientists are geniuses in the true meaning of the word. In conclusion, I guess one can be a Marxist to the extent that a new social structure might influence the eighteen year old’s perception of young women. However, no social structure would impact the relationship between Lewis’ science and his experience.

  40. Brendan H says:
    October 15, 2010 at 5:12 pm
    “Ropeik is claiming that Lewis’s worldviews are influencing him to discount the evidence for global warming. Is this ad hominen? I’m not sure, but the notion of cognitive dissonanace is well understood.”
    The only folks in the world who continue to claim that a scientist’s “world view” shapes their experience of the evidence are the hardcore Marxists. Ropeik and Revnik know that, if they are not benighted Marxists. (Surely no intelligent person remains a Marxist.) For that reason, I take the claim to be psychobabble that is being used as a blunt instrument in an ad hominem.

  41. A simple question. Why didn’t he have the cojones to send this to Revkin?
    REPLY: You don’t know that he didn’t. I’ve sent three emails to Andy in the last week and have not had a single response. – Anthony

  42. Ropeik has made an obvious blunder.
    This is a science Blog, its got a wealth of nearly objective people, thats not an insult, its true all Humans are biased to a degree. What gives us impetus to act cogently, beyond the party tricks of the degenerate communist, is we know we can choose to defy our own bias.
    This is no small feat.
    This skill is available to us via the Scientific method, mostly missing amongst the political herd, hopefully it will resurface as a popular prerequisite to entry into adult life.
    But given the deplorable state of education, its no small wonder that modern generations believe the PARTY line on what people are, and how they “SHOULD” behave.
    Or worse how to “MAKE” them behave like trained seals, or demand their obedience at the end of a gun.
    WUWT commentators tend to rebuke this trend, we can overcome cognitive dissonance, we can revise our position, we are NOT the PROLETARIAT, if ever there even was one.
    So Ropeik is welcome to his belief, since thats all it is, we’ll stick with the certainty of the scientific method – over the dogma of politicized environmental agenda’s, which are merely poorly construed social engineering.
    Hal Lewis has my greatest respect, if he’s biased at all, its in his refrain from righteously swearing is his resignation letter. Now that takes class.

  43. Roger says:
    October 15, 2010 at 1:44 pm
    “Past studies give us insight into today’s debate dynamics. One study followed people who bought bomb shelters during the Cold War. It found that they tended to exaggerate the threat of nuclear war and to discount peace proposals, almost as if they were invested in nuclear war.”
    I make one caveat: When you are dealing with totalitarian fascists (not nature), you must make sure that you really know and understand them. I remember reading in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a sneering article pointing out the ridiculousness of the report that the Soviets were putting hermetic doors on the subway entrances so they could be used as air raid shelters. I personally saw them on deep subways in Moscow and other major or Republic Capitol cities. I personally knew a couple of people who came upon them in the closed (deployed) state in the wee hours and who were ID’d and warned to tell no one.
    I also came into possession of an illustrated booklet that was given to Medical Doctors and certain Party Members, describing the steps to surviving a nuclear war. They believed that they could survive, and were prepared to do so. In 1958 to at least 1962, the Soviets were invested in nuclear war and ready to use it.

  44. The current generation of young people making their way out into the world, in the midst of the current global economic disaster, clearly see that it is the result of elitists gaming the system to gain control before they get old and die.
    The youth that grew up playing video games have as an understanding that there is always a game strategy, in the background programing that assists the player who figures it out, that every player has different skills they bring into the game formed by their preferred strategy. The level 72 white paladin, or level 23 troll axe wielder, as seen in every day blog quotes is just proof that these games are played in real life and not to be taken seriously.
    Fit in at work, do what you can to get ahead, with out getting caught out by fudging up your social network. Extended social networks have come to be international in scope, new ideas flow through the interwoven WWW instantaneously, peers assist each other by advancing ideas that generate efficiency, bypassing old codgers with mental atherosclerosis as they do with the mindless drones in the backdrop of games who are not active players.
    Politics as usual is a dead end game, with the agility of the truly mentally alert youth of today, that cannot be lied to with out causing very strong rebelling that results in the formation of “quests to root out evil in all of its forms”. The children of the elitists grow up knowing what it is all about, see the game from inside and will find their own “better form of game to play” rebellion from programing will play out in the formation of the “new elitist protegee” hopefully daddies money will be put to better uses in the near future.
    Meanwhile real productive members of society will continue to strive to produce things as needed to fit into the entrepreneur class that sustains growth through innovation, that results in increased efficiency, and amassing real fortunes in technological breakthroughs, all the while aware that the background game is being played, and can be gamed for the advantage of those who understand how to play games.
    There is no need to worry about the fates of the “helpless youth of today” who will bring this quagmire out into the light of the day, in a surge of rebellion against the elitist forces that have tried to run the “propaganda programs of scare and control game” while leaving them out of the real information loops by changing the data base they will need to work with. They already see it as just useless background pixels, put there to distract them from the real game of getting what they want out of life.
    You would be surprised how many young professionals have come to value balance between work and leisure, social responsibility and realistic production, moral issues and commitment to quality in their own work and life styles. I am refreshed by the view I am getting of the attitude of the young, of not wasting time on non issues and getting on with real life, knowing there is a game afoot.

  45. “Revkin Dot Earth”
    What did you expect from Revkin? He knows in his heart of hearts that CO2 does not drive the climate and the doubling of CO2 amounts to a hill of beans. But he has got a family and a career to protect. It tough to come clean once you sell your soul for a piece of gold.

  46. LOL. Read some Dostoyevski: the average person is not anywhere near as stupid as the elitists think they are. That is exactly why the AGW scare is over.

  47. JPeden says:
    October 15, 2010 at 4:42 pm
    “Ropeik has trapped himself within his own schema: how does he know that he is not doing the same thing over and over again when he tries to escape this “hard wired” mechanism to try to evaluate what is a scientific fact or method?”
    Very well said. Of course, Ropeik could not know that. These Marxist theses yield a hardcore ideological relativism. That is one reason that Marxists are totalitarians. The last ideology standing is by definition the truth.

  48. Theo Goodwin: “The only folks in the world who continue to claim that a scientist’s “world view” shapes their experience of the evidence are the hardcore Marxists.”
    Leaving aside your ad hominen argument, to suggest that certain beliefs can influence other beliefs is not the same as saying that beliefs shape experience.
    Nevertheless, in the above example you concede that some people can have their experiences “somewhat” shaped by their beliefs, so I guess you’ll be doing some work on that item of Marxist psychobabble.
    More to the point, there is no reason to suppose that Lewis is any more or less free from cognitive bias than any other human being.
    This is especially the case given Lewis’s appeal to staple items such as the “global warming scam”, “pseudoscientific fraud”, “global warming bubble” and his accusations of greed and glory-seeking.
    This sort of rhetoric is hardly novel and certainly not “unique to Lewis”. Rather, the above are fairly shopworn examples of the genre, indeed just more of the same.

  49. Brendan H says:
    October 15, 2010 at 7:49 pm
    “………This is especially the case given Lewis’s appeal to staple items such as the “global warming scam”, “pseudoscientific fraud”, “global warming bubble” and his accusations of greed and glory-seeking.
    This sort of rhetoric is hardly novel and certainly not “unique to Lewis”. Rather, the above are fairly shopworn examples of the genre, indeed just more of the same.”
    ======================================================
    While I agree with most of what you stated, it doesn’t make Theo Goodwin’s nor Dr. Lewis’ claims any less true.
    After over 20 years in the spotlight, it would be very difficult to claim many prominent climatologists are not “glory seekers”. For example Hansen, Mann, Jones(for a while) etc. More, it would be very difficult to claim “pseudoscientific fraud” didn’t exist in climatology, also. Witness the ludicrous inclusions in the IPCC report of the vanishing Himalayan glaciers or the heat evaporating the Amazon. As to the scam accusation, just look to the carbon credit scheme or the Nobel prize winning Gore for his work of fiction. As far as Theo’s reference to Marxists, just go here. Or simply consider the solutions to the alleged problems for a bit and then try to state they don’t carry some remarkable Marxist characteristics.
    Shopworn, perhaps. Nailed to the wall, truth…….yep. Sorry if you find that a bit mundane.

  50. Mods, my comment got sucked into the black hole again……..would you? Thanks ahead of time!
    REPLY: Done, Anthony

  51. To invoke Kuhn is to do a disservice to his philosophical argument. There must exist a paradigm theory before we can even talk about Kuhn and normal science. With all of the squabbling and jockeying occurring in this field I’d say that climate science is in a pre-paradigm phase in the same way experienced in chemistry before Lavoisier’s paradigm theory of combustion.
    The author overreaches when talking about the state of climate science and weakens his argument.

  52. FWIW, my response to Revkin (currently in moderation):
    Andrew Revkin wrote [in reply to a comment in the thread-hro]:
    “Interestingly, a member of that panel was Stephen Schneider, for decades a strong proponent of action to limit greenhouse gases.”
    Quite so. But unless I’m very much mistaken, prior to adopting advocacy of this particular “cause”, Schneider was banging another alarmist snare-drum: alerting the world to (for want of a better term) catastrophic global cooling.
    In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that I’m merely a fairly recent and occasional reader of dotearth. But considering your inquisition of (and rather shallow conclusion regarding) Dr. Lewis, I wonder if you have a post in which you report on a similar exchange with Schneider.
    I also wonder if you have any comment on the failure of the powers that be at the APS to comply with the organization’s constitutional requirement that on the strength of a petition by a minimum of 200 members they are obliged to (in this instance) convene a Topical Group to conduct an independent study and assessment.
    Which, of course, gives rise to the further question:
    In light of the APS assertion, in its recent Press Release, that “relatively few APS members conduct climate change research” and the glaringly obvious absence of any due diligence (i.e. the conduct of an independent study and assessment), why should the APS “Statement” – and its authoritative/authoritarian* proclamation – be given any weight whatsoever?
    * From the APS”Statement”:
    “The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.”
    IOW, why the focus on Dr. Lewis – without the context of the APS actions (and inactions)?
    And why the exclusion from the APS exhortation that “reduce emisions of greenhouse gases now” =”we can only reduce emissions of GHGs by the draconian (and unproven) measure of (Armstrong’s 10:10 revolutionary certified?!) reduction of activities that result in less Carbon Dioxide in order to (according IPCC honchos, luminaries and videos) “save the world”.
    FWIW, I do have some criticism of Dr. Lewis in that, while I understand and fully appeciate his sentiments, I don’t find his (or anyone’s) depiction of the CO2 (primary cause)->AGW hypothesis as “fraud” or “scam” to be helpful.
    Nonetheless, I have seen sufficient evidence (not the least of which is Michael Mann’s recent whine-fest at the Washington Post), that I cannot but concur with the inference one draws from Dr. Lewis’s letter of resignation: “climate science” – as it has been practiced and touted over the last 20 years or so – is not “science” … at least not in my pre-post-modernist understanding of the word.

  53. Mods, what am I doing wrong?! This is the second time in as many days that a post of mine has failed to pass go (i.e. to to moderation … and this one didn’t even have any links!) … could it be that WUWT’s spam-trap is [gasp!] anti-femitic 😉

  54. James Sexton: “While I agree with most of what you stated, it doesn’t make Theo Goodwin’s nor Dr. Lewis’ claims any less true.”
    Lewis’s claims could be debated loud and long to little resolution, but we’re talking here about whether or not his worldviews could be influencing his views on climate.
    And in the wider context, Prof Lewis’s action has been hailed as “an important moment in science history”, with his letter “on the scale of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the Wittenburg church door”.
    In that sense, Lewis’s originality or otherwise becomes important, since in order to make the analogy work, we would have to see some radical or just original scientific views about climate.
    Maybe these exist, but so far all I’ve seen is a letter complaining about some internal APS matters and offering a few bromides about climate science.

  55. My comment hasn’t yet appeared under Revkin’s article. Maybe it won’t pass review, so I’ll repost it here:
    Andy, you say “I share Ropeik’s view.“.
    You neglected to add “…whatever that is.

  56. Adpack says:
    October 15, 2010 at 6:33 pm
    I also came into possession of an illustrated booklet that was given to Medical Doctors and certain Party Members, describing the steps to surviving a nuclear war. They believed that they could survive, and were prepared to do so. In 1958 to at least 1962, the Soviets were invested in nuclear war and ready to use it.

    Yes, I am sure they were, but they had good reason to; just after WW2 there was a very serious debate in the UK parliament about whether we should drop nuclear bombs on Moscow lest they became a military threat. So Stalin and Krushchev had good reason to be paranoid, and would have been remiss of them to not develop their bomb and seek ways to protect their populations from the all to real threat posed by the west. Looking at it from the Russian perspective, they lost 20 million people in WW2 fighting the Nazis, for which they recieved little gratitude from the west. Instead we aimed all our missiles at them. It is interesting that NATO to this day has always insisted on its right to initiate an all out pre-emptive nuclear strike, whereas I think I am right in saying the Russians have always argued that nuclear weapons should only ever be used in retaliation. It is also one of the reasons why the Russians had so many more tanks than NATO; they much preferred a conventional war scenario, rather than nuclear obliteration. Which brings me back to Hal Lewis, because we all have him to thank for the role he played in convincing the crazies on both sides of the futility of an aggressive (and even ‘successful’) nuclear strike, i.e. that the resulting nuclear winter which would as much cripple the victors as the losers.
    Sorry for the OT digression into cold war politics, but that said I don’t think Revkin and Ropeik’s ad hominem is worthy of much comment. Disappointed in Revkin; not being a New Yorker I have never held him in high regard, but AFAIK Anthony has always given him the benefit of doubt so it is sad to see him take an entrenched position rather than rethink his stance as others in the media (at least on this side of the Atlantic) appear to be doing. (AFAIK Monbiot has been very quiet on AGW lately – anyone know if has he made any comment on Hal’s letter)?

  57. Theo Goodwin says:
    October 15, 2010 at 5:38 pm
    “The only folks in the world who continue to claim that a scientist’s “world view” shapes their experience of the evidence are the hardcore Marxists”
    While the notion of a “constructed reality” has certainly been helpful to both Marxists and their leftist critics (e.g. the idea of “false consciousness”) there is a great deal of evidence to support the idea that world view shapes the experience of facts. That is precisely my explanation for why people like Revkin, Hanson and Mann cling so desperately to AGW. Our views of reality are not compartmentalized but rather integrated; scientific views and political views and religious views are integrated and mutually reinforcing. Culture provides us with templates telling us which perceptions we should pay attention to, which we should ignore and how we should interpret them. The very structure of our language is part of the template: in the Indo-European family of languages, for example, we have the words “yes” and “no” and have elevated them to fundamental principles (“just say no!” or “yes, we can!). It took me two years to finally accept the fact that you just can’t say “no” in Chinese… there are no words for “yes” or “no” in the language, merely affirmations or negations of verbs. The linguistic structure leads the Chinese to think of reality not so much in terms of shades of grey as paradoxes. Closer to home, Benjamin Lee Whorf, a part-time linguist and full-time fire safety engineer, noted in the 30’s that industrial fires seemd to start most often in empty rooms; specifically, the empty drum room. No one would light a match around a drum full of volatile chemicals, but where better to sneak a smoke than in the safe, inert “empty drum room”?
    In 1950 David Riesman published “The Lonely Crowd”, an examination of what he called “character”, differentiating between “inner-directed” individuals who seemed to to be embued with a set of moral guidelines and operated on auto-pilot afterward, and the “outer-directed” who took their moral cues from the people around them. Riesman argued that the older, inner-directed American was being replaced with the other-directed type. I would suggest that Dr. Lewis is one of the last of the inner-directeds, infused with a value system to look at the facts as objectively as possible and then act accordingly. Revkin and Mann are the outer-directeds. Is it any wonder that for them the consensus is the important thing?

  58. Brendan H says:
    October 15, 2010 at 10:22 pm
    James Sexton: “While I agree with most of what you stated, it doesn’t make Theo Goodwin’s nor Dr. Lewis’ claims any less true.”
    Lewis’s claims could be debated loud and long to little resolution, but we’re talking here about whether or not his worldviews could be influencing his views on climate.
    And in the wider context, Prof Lewis’s action has been hailed as “an important moment in science history”, with his letter “on the scale of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the Wittenburg church door”.
    In that sense, Lewis’s originality or otherwise becomes important, since in order to make the analogy work, we would have to see some radical or just original scientific views about climate.
    Maybe these exist, but so far all I’ve seen is a letter complaining about some internal APS matters and offering a few bromides about climate science.
    ========================================================
    I don’t agree. First, I gave you some pretty clear examples to the validity of Dr. Lewis’ claims. Also, in the analogy, do you think Martin Luther was the first to express those thoughts? And did the orthodoxy change the next week?
    The action isn’t specifically about his views on climate science, nor his body of work, or anyone else’. Neither is it simply about APS.
    It is about the state of science and its many facets and organizations. Brendan, you are learned enough to know science has taken a huge hit in credibility because of the recent antics of the climate scientists. But much more than that, the entire scientific community is indicted because of their silence and lack of willingness to engage.
    I’m sure by now you’ve read the APS’ response to Dr. Lewis. They freely admit they have very few actively engaged in climate science. But they steadfastly refuse to entertain the thought they could be wrong about their endorsement of that field of study. Its not about the science anyone is doing. Its about the science that isn’t being done! If climate science has a valid hypothesis, then doesn’t it behoove the great APS to engage and set about the work of scientists? If the hypothesis is invalid then would not the APS feel an obligation to set about the work of scientists to show it to be as such? Instead, they take lunch, have a few drinks and put a stamp of approval on a statement. That statement holds about as much weight as a CO2 molecule. It is vapid, devoid of value and holds no meaning.
    To me, it is unfathomable that several thousand physicists would endorse a science of which they assert they have no real knowledge. To me, it is unfathomable, to Dr. Lewis, I can only imagine it is unforgivable. Recall, Dr. Lewis has devoted his life to science. He has been a member of this group, literally, before many of them were ever born. This group held great meaning and brought esteem to Dr. Lewis and Dr. Lewis esteem to the APS. Now, Dr. Lewis is in the twilight of both his career and life is forced to witness the mockery of all that he’s devoted to his life’s work. There isn’t a person reading this that shouldn’t feel outrage, I know I do.

  59. Robert E. Phelan says:
    October 15, 2010 at 11:05 pm
    Heh, that was an articulate way of telling people to take their children to church and beat imbue them when they’ve done something wrong.

  60. Brendan H says:
    October 15, 2010 at 10:22 pm
    Your argument is a tired variation on “well why don’t you skeptics publish an alternative explanation?”. The alternative explanation is “natural variability” and our modern crop of climate scientists have no idea of what drives natural climate change, let alone being in a position to tell us that what is happening now is NOT natural. CAGW, the APS and Hal Lewis would be interesting footnotes in the history of science except that alarmists are demanding that the world act now and spend trillions, fundamentally change life styles, give up basic freedoms and chain hundreds of millions to pre-modern living conditions. Sorry. The science is far from settled and the precautionary principle a post-modernist load of drivel.

  61. “…the mountains of scientific evidence, from neuroscience and psychology and economics and sociology, that demonstrates beyond any serious question that the way we perceive risk is affective… ”
    With all due respect Mr Revkin (which is a polite way of saying “none”) this quote from your article demonstrates by itself that your argument is hollow. The very purpose of scientific investigation is to determine the facts by EXCLUDING factors related to perception and world view.
    In your own article you point to Dr Lewis being a supporter of AGW 20 years ago and having a different opinion today. Do you propose that Dr Lewis changed is world view over that time frame? Or that review of the facts lead him to alter his conclusions?
    Dr Lewis was very specific in his letter of resignation that the processes and manipulation exposed by the Climategate emails were not science in any way, shape or fashion. This does not represent a “world view”, this represents a review of the manner in which climate “science” has been conducted, and he has condemned it for what it is. Fraudulent misrepresentation of facts and suppression of contrary evidence and opinion.
    Dr Lewis is a renowned scientist with a list of credentials that can only be described as jaw dropping. To suggest that on this one issue Dr Lewis has abandoned a lifetime spent meticulously separating facts from perception in order to arrive at SCIENTIFIC conclusions due being a victim of his own world view, is as insulting an attack on both his credentials and his ethics that one can imagine.
    Perhaps in journalism Mr Revkin it is permissable to rely on ones perception of facts, or as you put it, how the facts feel. Dr Lewis is not a journalist however, and such an approach is simply not permissable in his world. That you would suggest otherwise when your own article is confirmation of this makes clear who has a world view that makes them a victim of their perception and how the facts “feel”. To ensure that you have not misconstrued my point, it is not Dr. Lewis. I suggest you review the remaining input to your assasination attempt on Dr Lewis’ accomplishments to determine who that self deluded individual might be.

  62. I wrote this piece a long time ago and should probably update it based on my better understanding today of climate “science”. That said, though it be a year or so old, for those who have followed Dr Lewis’ resignation from the APS and the things he boldly said about the state of affairs revealed by Climategate, I think it appropriate to repeat my presentation of:
    The Physicist and the Climatologist
    Climatologist; I have a system of undetermined complexity and undetermined composition, floating and spinning in space. It has a few internal but steady state and minor energy sources. An external energy source radiates 1365 watts per meter squared at it on a constant basis. What will happen?
    Physicist; The system will arrive at a steady state temperature which radiates heat to space that equals the total of the energy inputs. Complexity of the system being unknown, and the body spinning in space versus the radiated energy source, there will be cyclic variations in temperature, but the long term average will not change.
    Climatologist; Well what if I change the composition of the system?
    Physicist; see above.
    Climatologist; Perhaps you don’t understand my question. The system has an unknown quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere that absorbs energy in the same spectrum as the system is radiating. There are also quantities of carbon and oxygen that are combining to create more CO2 which absorbs more energy. Would this not raise the temperature of the system?
    Physicist; there would be a temporary fluctuation in temperature caused by changes in how energy flows through the system, but for the long term average… see above.
    Climatologist; But the CO2 would cause a small rise in temperature, which even if it was temporary would cause a huge rise in water vapour which would absorb even more of the energy being radiated by the system. This would have to raise the temperature of the system.
    Physicist; there would be a temporary fluctuation in the temperature caused by changes in how energy flows through the system, but for the long term average… see above.
    Climatologist; That can’t be true. I’ve been measuring temperature at thousands of points in the system and the average is rising.
    Physicist; The temperature rise you observe can be due to one of two factors. It may be due to a cyclic variation that has not completed, or it could be due to the changes you alluded to earlier resulting in a redistribution of energy in the system that affects the measurement points more than the system as a whole. Unless the energy inputs have changed, the long term temperature average would be… see above.
    Climatologist; AHA! All that burning of fossil fuel is releasing energy that was stored millions of years ago, you cannot deny that this would increase temperature.
    Physicist; Is it more than 0.01% of what the energy source shining on the planet is?
    Climatologist; Uhm… no.
    Physicist; rounding error. For the long term temperature of the planet… see above.
    Climatologist; Methane! Methane absorbs even more than CO2.
    Physicist; see above.
    Climatologist; Clouds! Clouds would retain more energy!
    Physicist; see above.
    Climatologist; Ice! If a fluctuation in temperature melted all the ice less energy would be reflected into space and would instead be absorbed into the system, raising the temperature. Ha!
    Physicist; The ice you are pointing at is mostly at the poles where the inclination of the radiant energy source is so sharp that there isn’t much energy to absorb anyway. But what little there is would certainly go into the surface the ice used to cover, raising its temperature. That would reduce the temperature differential between equator and poles which would slow down convection processes that move energy from hot places to cold places. The result would be increased radiance from the planet that would exceed energy input until the planet cooled down enough to start forming ice again. As I said before, the change to the system that you propose could well result in redistribution of energy flows, and in short term temperature fluctuations, but as for the long term average temperature…. see above.
    Climatologist; Blasphemer! Unbeliever! The temperature HAS to rise! I have reports! I have measurements! I have computer simulations! I have committees! United Nations committees! Grant money! Billions and billions and billions! I CAN’T be wrong, I will never explain it! Billions! and the carbon trading! Trillions in carbon trading!
    Physicist; how much grant money?
    Climatologist; Billions. Want some?
    Physicist; Uhm…
    Climatologist; BILLIONS
    Climatologist; Hi. I used to be a physicist. When I started to understand the danger the world was in though, I decided to do the right thing and become a climatologist. Let me explain the greenhouse effect to you…

  63. James Sexton says:
    October 15, 2010 at 11:20 pm
    I stand corrected, however “beat” is not part of the definition. You can imbue without beating (although, I suppose, beating can accompany imbuing), and once imbued beating is no longer necessary. Church-going can indeed be part of the imbuing process but is not a necessary element; I can easily imagine other-directed idividuals that have been imbued with a firm belief in atheism. Imbuing may not always be a positive thing: I suspect Revkin and Mann were imbued with a reverence for the consensus.

  64. John A says:
    October 15, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Revkin in the comments on the 2nd page:
    I always enjoy how those who claim global warming concern is about “following the money” rarely note that global warming contrarianism could just as easily be ascribed to the same trait (with the money in that case the profits of the entrenched fossil fuel industries and businesses reliant on fossil fuels for profits).
    I think its time that Revkin put up or shut up. Where is the fossil fuel industry/businesses reliant on fossil fuels for profits money supposedly pouring into “global warming contrarianism”? I’ve never seen any. Steve McIntyre is running on his pension and the occasional kindness of strangers. Anthony has certainly lost money as a result of his opinions.

    It is in the best interests of the fossil fuel industry to have higher energy costs. From a purely logical point of view, this industry would gain more by supporting the AGW viewpoint.
    If cap and trade were to become a reality, the Exxons of the world would simply add this new tax onto the price of their products, with a little noticed extra for their trouble.

  65. Out of topic, but I have to comment on this that
    Craig says:
    October 15, 2010 at 2:10 pm
    But I do accept that there will be another ice age and I accept that it’s inevitable.
    The climate roller-coaster.

    I have to stress that our technology has reached the point where we could stop an ice age if it comes from the regular cycles . All it needs is mirrors in space to increase insolation where needed.
    And of course good climate models are needed to know where we have to intervene :; . In this sense the experience gained with the models will be useful, as long as they keep developing them to the point that they have contact with the real world.
    The wild goose chasing after CO2 and the destruction of the western society if the cap and trade and taxation are imposed, will of course make this impossible a few hundred years hence. Nineteenth cultures could not put up mirrors in space.

  66. I see an equivalent of a cornered AGW rabid dog here. Who knows what they might do next to proceed with the political agenda they have already spent tens of billions on, and planned for decades. I don’t think it will be pretty.

  67. Robert E. Phelan says:
    October 15, 2010 at 11:05 pm
    Robert,
    Thank you for one of the better posts I have read here.
    Just finished reading Outliers: The Story of Success, see http://www.amazon.com/Outliers-Story-Success-Malcolm-Gladwell/dp/0316017922/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1287215806&sr=8-1
    We are a product of our culture, as much as we would like to believe otherwise. Behind the outstanding successes of our world is not so much the faithful wife, but the hidden advantages imparted by their life experiences.
    It is altogether human to claim personal credit for our successes but to blame some flaw in our upbringing for our failures.
    As you so clearly explained with the example of the Chinese language, even the subtleties of our mother tongue will affect our thinking.
    In Outliers, the author provides persuasive evidence for the inherent advantages granted people raised in a Japanese speaking household in learning mathematics. The Japanese language expresses numbers in a very simple fashion, allowing children growing up in such a household an advantage over those of us using English.
    In any event, thank you for the excellent post.

  68. Andrew P 15th Oct 11:01:
    You mention a post-war debate in the UK parliament where the dropping of nuclear bombs on the USSR was discussed. Could you give a date or other details of this debate, please? I should like to look it up for myself. Thanks, Dave.

  69. James Sexton: “Also, in the analogy, do you think Martin Luther was the first to express those thoughts?”
    I’m not sure. But we know that Luther was a primary mover in sparking enormous political and social change that lasted decades, that shook the foundations of not just religious authority, and that had a huge influence on the modern world.
    Anybody can say anything about climate science, and they do. But not everybody who says things about climate science is feted as the equivalent of Martin Luther and his challenge to the orthodoxy.
    So if the analogy to Luther is serious, the expectations riding on Lewis are enormous. I think those expectations would be too much for any person to bear, much less someone who seems to be pretty peripheral to the field of climate science.

  70. Robert E Phelan: “Your argument is a tired variation on “well why don’t you skeptics publish an alternative explanation?”
    Only if Lewis is to be regarded as a modern Martin Luther. Someone who is going to push through the sort of momentous changes wrought by the Reformation needs to have a big idea or two.
    Perhaps Lewis does have a big idea about climate, but if so it hasn’t been publicised to the extent that his resignation has been publicised.
    On the other hand, if Lewis is just a guy who’s found himself in the limelight by circumstance, fine, he doesn’t need a big idea. But in that case, nor is he a modern-day Martin Luther.

  71. @ James Sexton, October 15, 2010 at 11:12 pm:
    “Now, Dr. Lewis is in the twilight of both his career and life is forced to witness the mockery of all that he’s devoted to his life’s work. There isn’t a person reading this that shouldn’t feel outrage, I know I do.”
    Well said indeed!
    I am grateful to Prof Hal Lewis for having taken this step – and wish some more of the ‘Big beasts’ in science would follow his lead.
    All I can say is that any scientist worth his calling should have been outraged for some time already – Nov 17th 2009 being the last date where the shoe really should have dropped as far as the ‘science; in ‘climate science’ is concerned.

  72. @ Brendan H, October 16, 2010 at 3:54 am:
    It is not about Hal Lewis having or not having a ‘big idea’ about climate.
    His resignation is about the perversion of the Scientific Method perpetrated for years by the climate ‘scientists’.
    That is why he calls it a fraudulent pseudo-science.
    One does not have to be a climate ‘scientist’ to grasp the perversity of splicing different data together (tree rings/temperature) in order to achieve the desired result.
    One does not even have to be a physicist to grasp that models whose predictions cannot be found in observation in nature have to be wrong.
    One can be a very small foot soldier in the big army of natural scientists to understand all that, and to be as outraged as Professor Lewis is.
    And one does not even have to be a scientist at all to understand that political activism, in the guise of ‘science’, is a thoroughly bad thing.
    That is what this is about – it is not about a better, more streamlined climate ‘science’ Mk II which any critic of AGW has to supply before they’re allowed to open their mouths.

  73. The “mountain of evidence” they blatantly ride is now showing no logical support for catastrophic results; indeed, the estimation of the science Dr. Lewis currently has is better supported from direct measurements than the modeled psychobabble put forth by those supporting “climate disruption”. Attempts to marginalize Dr. Lewis appear to be failing in the face of true science as opposed to computer modeling (which is not true science). By all means, let Dr. Lewis change his opinion from past statements, which is what a true scientist does when faced with the current “mountain of evidence”.

  74. On the psycho babble front, what’s actually happening in climate ‘science’ is usually termed Pathological Science.
    Pointman

  75. Roger says:
    October 15, 2010 at 1:44 pm
    …As contrary evidence has accumulated and political efforts have been frustrated, proponents of global warming have shown signs of cognitive dissonance….

    Excellent analysis Roger. I agree completely with your assessment. This is not a scientific struggle we’re engaged in. It is a religious and/or belief system paradigm that creates very destructive policy decisions. Well done.

  76. Ref – anna v says:
    October 16, 2010 at 12:44 am
    Maybe! (Ref the Mirrors)
    Hope not! (Ref the Mirrors)
    Very unscientific! (Ref the Mirrors)
    Anti-Evolutionary! (Ref the Mirrors)
    Too much CO2! (Ref the Mirrors)
    Why bother? (Ref the Mirrors)
    A glacial is a great way to clean out the cobwebs.
    Just look at the change in the genome the last glacial period brought.
    Nope! Preventing the next glacial is counterproductive to species development.
    No mirrors!
    (Wish you hadn’t said anything about mirrors;-)

  77. Heh, I like Andy. I trust Andy’s curiosity and intellectual honesty. But I also like Dr Crinum’s diagnosis in comment #89: “Very sick. Andy, you blew it”.
    ===================

  78. Robert E. Phelan says:
    October 16, 2010 at 12:16 am
    James Sexton says:
    October 15, 2010 at 11:20 pm
    “I stand corrected, however “beat” is not part of the definition……..”
    Robert, I was acknowledging the wisdom in your post. Right, beat may be a bit harsh sounding. I’ve never really seen it worded as ““inner-directed” vs “outer-directed”. I’ve heard relative vs. static, but I think you pretty much nailed it. No, beatings and church aren’t required, but they were an effective mechanism that would create an “inner-directed” individual/society.

  79. As others have mentioned, changing views based on new information IS science. Not changing views is religion.
    I think the AGW views fall into 3 categories.
    1) Accepted AGW but never really looked at it.
    2) Bought into AGW and became a pro-active proponent.
    3) Never accepted or bought into AGW.
    Many skeptics today are in group 1) and I suspect that is also where Dr. Lewis started. Most alarmists today started in 2) and will never escape that category as they now have invested their egos in their position. What Revkin is asking is why wasn’t Dr Lewis in 3). Easy answer … he never looked at the subject in detail but trusted the scientists. It was only when he saw that trust abused that he took a serious look.
    I am in 1). My motive to look closely was based on statements by Michael Crichton. Others had differing reasons to look closely and ClimateGate is certainly the big one.

  80. “We are a product of our culture, as much as we would like to believe otherwise. Behind the outstanding successes of our world is not so much the faithful wife, but the hidden advantages imparted by their life experiences.”
    I doubt that this claim can be made non-trivial. For example, I dearly love college football and am a product of my culture to that degree, but goodness that claim is trivial. When we turn to important matters, ask yourself what went wrong with Martin Luther, Galileo, and a million other individuals. Because such people pretty much destroyed the culture which nurtured them, I do not think you can make a non-trivial claim that their serious works were products of their culture. And, surely, you ae not going to embrace the Marxist claim that my ideas cause my experience.

  81. Revkin has his OWN memory problems!
    It appears that his HYSTERIA about “genetically modified crops” of the 1990’s (early, generally) somehow magically “disappeared” as the “non-problem” nature became apparent.
    We’ll give him credit, he did make that realization. (Just search under GM Crops/Hazard and you’ll find plenty of evidence of “true believers” still active in trying to spread unnecessary panic!)

  82. Andrew P writes:
    “Yes, I am sure they were, but they had good reason to; just after WW2 there was a very serious debate in the UK parliament about whether we should drop nuclear bombs on Moscow lest they became a military threat. So Stalin and Krushchev had good reason to be paranoid, and would have been remiss of them to not develop their bomb and seek ways to protect their populations from the all to real threat posed by the west.”
    Artful try, Andrew. Now give yourself a real challenge. Explain the paranoia that built the Berlin Wall.

  83. It’s useful to keep in mind that many of the people and organizations pushing AGW the hardest are the same ones that raised (and still raise) the most vocal objections to biotechnology, particularly agricultural biotechnology. These groups, 30 or 40 years ago, were united and vocal in their opposition to chemical pesticides and their desire to reduce the use of these products. Agricultural biotechnology has, in several cases, achieved this. The introduction of Bt cotton has dramatically reduced the amount of chemical insecticide use in cotton cropping systems, yet environmental groups fiercely oppose the registration and widespread use of such crop strains. Why? They claim there are yet unrecognized risks from these things and invoke- wait for it- the precautionary principle. Fortunately, in the US the regulatory authorities have been able to overcome such arguments and these crops are in wide use with no evidence of environmental damage or harm to human health. The EU is a different story, since the “Greens” have greater influence there due to parliamentary political considerations.
    Enviros object to biotechnology because corporations can use it to make new products and make a profit (without massive government subsidies and control). They can’t stand it when that happens. That worldview drives the AGW agenda.

  84. @Max Hugoson: Are you confusing Andrew Revkin and Jeremy Rifkin? I don’t remember Revkin saying much about biotechnology, but I certainly haven’t followed his career closely so maybe I’ve missed something. Your point, either way, is well taken.

  85. Robert E. Phelan says:
    October 15, 2010 at 11:05 pm
    Theo Goodwin says:
    October 15, 2010 at 5:38 pm
    “The only folks in the world who continue to claim that a scientist’s “world view” shapes their experience of the evidence are the hardcore Marxists”
    “While the notion of a “constructed reality” has certainly been helpful to both Marxists and their leftist critics (e.g. the idea of “false consciousness”) there is a great deal of evidence to support the idea that world view shapes the experience of facts.”
    As I wrote in my post to Lucy Skywalker, I will definitely concede that “culture” shapes experience in low-level matters, but the idea that it does with regard to highly ramified contexts, such as the contexts of scientific theory, is what I call Radically False. Galileo’s critiques of Aristotelian science, his invention of scientific method, and many other matters are clear evidence of genius. They have no predecessors. No appeal to Galileo’s culture or the culture of European science at that time adds one iota to our understanding of Galileo’s achievement. Go to Newton. He invented calculus. Then he applied it to physics. Both achievements were “sui generis.” (Yes, I know Leibniz had his version of calculus but his applications were trivial.) I repeat: no appeal to the background of such men can add one iota to our understanding or use of their achievements.

  86. I believe that in comparing Lewis to Martin Luther, Anthony intended to emphasize that an ANOINTED INSIDER had come forward to REVEAL CORRUPTION at the heart of his organization. It seems to me that the comparison is apt. To read more into the comparison is to get sidetracked.

  87. John A says:
    October 15, 2010 at 2:31 pm
    Revkin in the comments on the 2nd page:

    I always enjoy how those who claim global warming concern is about “following the money” rarely note that global warming contrarianism could just as easily be ascribed to the same trait (with the money in that case the profits of the entrenched fossil fuel industries and businesses reliant on fossil fuels for profits).

    Yes it really is about “following the money”. That’s exactly what happens when a newly discovered treasure trove of a limited resource is boosted in a public offering.
    This AGW road act is forcibly cranking the greatest economic ‘inflationary bubble’ that humanity has known.
    Regardless of any ‘science’ or lacking thereof, the frenzied feeding on resource allocation, manipulation and consumption of a ‘fear mongered’ commodity has created it’s own ‘self-inflating’ bubble and bombast.

  88. Brendan H
    Perhaps Lewis does have a big idea about climate, but if so it hasn’t been publicised to the extent that his resignation has been publicised.>>
    Dr. Lewis need no thesis of his own in climate science to condemn the manner in which climate science has been conducted. 2+2=4 and one need not be a mathemitician to condemn an analysis in which 2+2= between 3 and 5. There is no need to examine the resulting conclusions, nore refute them, because they are predicated upon a calculation that while not technically wrong, serves no scientific purpose. The only purpose one can ascribe to such an approach is that the authors introduced an unnecessary range in place of precision for purposes that have nothing to do with science, and everything that comes after that in their analysis is by default suspect.
    Dr Lewis condemns the manner in which data has been collected, analyzed, manipulated, excluded, adjusted, contrived, substituted, lost, hidden and suppressed. When a towering intellect with his credentials speaks in this manner and the best his critics can come up with is that he has published no thesis of his own, while working feverishly behind the scenes to ensure that not just his letter of resignation but even his entire career is erased from the public consciousness by deleting it from Wikipedia, the truth of the matter becomes clear.
    There can be no other purpose ascribed to the behaviour of those Dr Lewis condemns than circumvention of science based only on the manner in which they have conducted it. They at once produce analysis predicated on 2+2 = some range of convenient numbers, while pointing at the horizon and screaming that the earth is flat, why can’t you see the obvious?
    Charlatans. 2+2=4 and nothing else. I’ve driven over the horizon and I’ve returned to say the earth is round. I’ve investigated the science, and it makes a mockery of what is so obvious to “see”. Only in a computer model would I have fallen off the edge of the world.

  89. Theo Goodwin says:
    October 16, 2010 at 8:52 am
    “I doubt that this claim can be made non-trivial…. surely, you ae not going to embrace the Marxist claim that my ideas cause my experience.”
    Theo, the idea that your “ideas” affect the way you experience phenomena is not just Marxist and not all that recent: the ancient Greeks developed a view around the dynamic, creative power of ideas. They used the word “logos” (“word”) to signify this power, and it was identified specifically as God in the first line of John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word”…. the Hebraic founders of Christianity were specifically joining their ethical monotheism to Hellenic Philosophy and expressing themselves in Greek rather than Hebrew, their liturgical language, Aramaic, their everyday language, or Latin, the administrative language of their overlords. In his address at Regensberg Pope Benedict specifically addresses the fact that Western Civilization is an outgrowth of Christianity and Christianity in turn rests firmly on Greek thinking. Modern science is a product of western civilization and Christianity. That is certainly “non-trivial”.
    One would think that the experience of misery would be straightforward. The Hindu caste system, for example, condemned untold millions to lives of privation and misery and which they endured because they were working out their karma. Failure to accept their lot in life would increase their negative karma and condemn them to ever greater privations in the next life. In Imperial China misery was experienced as a failure of the leadership, the emperor had somehow failed in his duties as Emperor and was losing the Mandate of Heaven (a concept that is still part of the ideological lexicon in Chinese politics). The loss of the Mandate of Heaven was seen as the occassion for uprising. In modern America, misery is seen as a failure of the political process to adequately prepare for disaster (i.e. Hurricane Katrina). None of these examples of culture shaping perception are trivial.
    Finally, Galileo and Martin Luther were in fact very definitely products of their culture. The science of Galileo had its roots in the philosophical speculations of Albertus and Aquinas and the “natural theology” of their successors, looking for the signature of God in the handiwork of His creation. Luther’s revolt was the culmination of trends going back to the very founding of Christianity, the nature of Free Will and God’s foreknowledge, the efficacy of works over faith, the nature of man’s relationship to God, the proper composition and role of the Church. In a diverse society, many cultural branches can evolve and become mutually contradictory, even having started from the same place…. a point Marx makes quite well when he talks about “contradictions”. Luther and Galileo both could only have been products of Western Culture. Karl Marx himself was a product of his culture, although probably a little less clear-eyed about it than he imagined, and much of his thinking grew out of living in a stage of the industrial revolution where living standards for the proletarians had not yet caught up with production. In one sense, when productive capacity began to exceed the demands of the middle class market, it was imperative to tap into the working class as a potential market, and to do that they needed to have more disposable income…..

  90. JPeden says:
    October 15, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    Ropeik [and Revkin]:
    Our fears are a combination of the facts and how those facts feel.
    Our brains are hard wired to do it this way.

    Ropeik has trapped himself within his own schema: how does he know that he is not doing the same thing over and over again when he tries to escape this “hard wired” mechanism to try to evaluate what is a scientific fact or method?
    Of course, Ropeik can speak for himself as to how his mind works. But, then again, according to his own posited mechanism, we can’t trust what he says as being related to reality, including what he says about himself.

    —————
    JPeden,
    Exactly. His theory dismisses his own ability to have knowledge that he professes.
    He self-refutes.
    In academia you can often find people supporting these kinds of intellectual dead-ends.
    The only way out of his position is to claim he has special knowledge that comes from a source that is not available to others. : ) Does he receive radio stations inside his head? To stop him from receiving those stations it is tin foil hat time for old Ropeik.
    Andy Revkin acts like he also has special knowledge not available to independent thinkers (a.k.a. skeptics). We can get him a tin foil hat too . . . . . in would be the humane thing to do.
    John

  91. Richard M says:
    October 16, 2010 at 7:57 am
    “1) Accepted AGW but never really looked at it.
    2) Bought into AGW and became a pro-active proponent.
    3) Never accepted or bought into AGW.”
    Interesting suggestion, Richard. Add a fourth group, the “highly scrupulous sceptic” is someone who, over a period of years, searched extensively for well-confirmed physical hypotheses that can be used to explain and predict some of the various climate phenomena that serious warming supposedly brings about – but found nothing.
    An eminent highly scrupulous sceptic is Roy Spencer whose book “The Great Climate Warming Blunder” sets forth exactly my experience in searching for the hypotheses and evidence that a science of AGW must produce. He, too, could not find the hypotheses or evidence.

  92. John Whitman writes:
    “The only way out of his position is to claim he has special knowledge that comes from a source that is not available to others. : ) Does he receive radio stations inside his head? To stop him from receiving those stations it is tin foil hat time for old Ropeik.”
    Lenin and Trotsky invented the “Avant Garde” just for the purpose of revealing this special knowledge to the plebes. Of course, the plebes had to wait, watch, and then sacrifice while the Avant Garde bumbled through its revelations. Sheesh. Comic Book stuff.

  93. Robert E. Phelan says:
    October 16, 2010 at 10:26 am
    You departed from science and scientific method to take up religion. Life is not long enough for me to address that topic change.

  94. James Sexton says:
    October 16, 2010 at 7:42 am
    Ahh, I thought you had caught my misspelling of “imbued”. Thank you for the kind review, but I have to acknowledge that I’m just standing on the shoulders of giants. Now, if I could just get Theo Goodwin to acknowledge that the work of Galileo and Newton were not “sui generis” but rather, giant geniuses that they were, the questions that they answered and the methods they used were conditioned by the work of geniuses before them. If the questions had been different, the mathematics would have been different.
    Theo Goodwin says:
    October 16, 2010 at 9:20 am

    Theo, we seem to be cross-posting. I thought that in answering Jack Simmons later post you were ignoring mine, but apparently you are using the same methodology wrt long threads that I do, starting from the bottom up. There are a number of points you’ve raised that I’d like to address, but you may have additional thoughts and want to respond to my latest… so I’ll hold off, for now.

  95. Lucy Skywalker says:
    October 15, 2010 at 3:31 pm
    . . . . [edit] . . . Theo Godwin, there is a lot of evidence that our preconceptions can drastically alter what we perceive, it’s nothing to do with communist or right-wing or any political affinities – however, political extremists in all directions IMO suffer from hyperinflated preconceptions.

    ————–
    Lucy Skywalker,
    Sorry I am picking up so late on a very early comment of yours on this thread. I see there are quite a few responses to your comment.
    Of course humans are social animals. Of course we are nutured and educated and socialized for nigh on 18 to 22 yrs (or more).
    It is one thing to say there are humans that do not ever escape, either partially or entirely, from their upbringing and education. It is obvious there are many in this situation.
    It is completely another thing to say human beings as human beings cannot achieve significant or complete total independence of their upbringing and education; that is to say it is impossible to re-examination everything, emphasis on everything, with their critical reason capacity. That view would be cultural/social subjectivism. It denies the ability of man as man to obtain objectivity.
    There is a fundamental error that dead-ends cultural/social subjectivism. If it is true then the theory itself is just a subjective statement of a subjective person embedded in the matrix of cultural/social subjectivism itself. Empty content.
    For someone to claim the objective existence (validity) of cultural/social subjectivism then they would have to claim some special/privileged capability or knowledge source that elevates them above the subjective to the objective. If they can do it then of course it refutes subjectivism as a necessity. Anyone in principle could also do it. Also, well . . . . . we know where the road leads when people start to claim they are the recipients of special/privileged knowledge not available to others . . . .
    It (cultural/social subjectivism) self-refutes. It is empty of content.
    John

  96. John Whitman says:
    October 16, 2010 at 11:40 am
    It is completely another thing to say human beings as human beings cannot achieve significant or complete total independence of their upbringing and education; that is to say it is impossible to re-examination everything, emphasis on everything, with their critical reason capacity. That view would be cultural/social subjectivism. It denies the ability of man as man to obtain objectivity.
    Hmm. I would stick with “significant” and avoid “complete”, and this, for a certain value of objectivity.
    I happen to be multilingual, from a young age. Languages color perception, believe me, and perception is how one builds the analogue of the world for the mind.
    I have also traveled enough.
    Can the objectivity reached by a Japanese person be the same as that reached by a Greek? Not talking about science and mathematics. On social and cultural issues I think not. I would appreciate the objective world of a corresponding Japanese Anna, but it would be a different world.
    Vive la difference

  97. anna v says:
    October 16, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    —————–
    anna v,
    Well going run off the watch the NYY play TexR in game two of the ALCS. : ) GO YANKEES!!
    Thank you for your comment.
    Yes, I understand your view. My whole professional life has been international business mostly in Asia and fair amount in Europe, quite a bit in Japan. Going to Japan again on business trip in a couple of weeks. : ) Also, I was raised early on mostly by my Polish mother who spoke no english . . . . my father working most of the time I was awake . . . . this happened in a small New England town . . . culture shock. My daughter was raised fully bilingual in Chinese and English.
    My experience was that communicating the scientific analysis, technical issues and complex system design was very easy to do with the Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Swedes, Spanish, and Mexicans . . . . I saw no difference in any culture’s ability to see what I was seeing in these areas.
    But, and it is a large but, the thinking processes involved in managing or deciding anything was not necessarily the same as my Amercian culture’s way. We knew this by using the knowledge of very experienced older businessmen who deal in the various cultures. So, it was a kind of objective knowledge of the differences in the processes of culturess. Very few problems.
    People are different within cultures and across cultures, but still human and as humans share a capacity to reason; its application processes might vary. I see no evidence that the capacity isn’t the same for different cultures.
    John

  98. Robert E. Phelan says:
    October 16, 2010 at 11:32 am
    If I had more time, I would address your questions. I believe that modern science, meaning science informed by an understanding of scientific method, is a product of Galileo. Yes, the young Galileo was presented with the science of his time, but he overcame it entirely. Over the next few days, I might be able to get back to your questions.

  99. DaveF says:
    October 16, 2010 at 3:31 am
    Andrew P 15th Oct 11:01:
    You mention a post-war debate in the UK parliament where the dropping of nuclear bombs on the USSR was discussed. Could you give a date or other details of this debate, please? I should like to look it up for myself. Thanks, Dave.

    Dave, I am not sure of the date, and am not a historian nor voracious reader, so am fairly sure that my memory of this will come from a Time Watch or a similar television documentary series made by the BBC in the 1980s (when they still made excellent programmes). I have had a quick google and can’t find any mention of it, but did come across http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Unthinkable which sets the context. There’s a couple of references at the foot of the wiki page which should be useful.
    Theo Goodwin says:
    October 16, 2010 at 8:57 am
    Andrew P writes:
    “Yes, I am sure they were, but they had good reason to; just after WW2 there was a very serious debate in the UK parliament about whether we should drop nuclear bombs on Moscow lest they became a military threat. So Stalin and Krushchev had good reason to be paranoid, and would have been remiss of them to not develop their bomb and seek ways to protect their populations from the all to real threat posed by the west.”
    Artful try, Andrew. Now give yourself a real challenge. Explain the paranoia that built the Berlin Wall.

    Theo, that’s easy. The Soviet empire was run by a succession of totalitarian dictators, who became increasingly paranoid when it became all too apparent that the communist system didn’t work very well. Just because I defend the Russian’s right to develop nuclear arms, does not mean I agree with everything else they stood for. But had the Russians not developed their own ICBMs its odds on that the crazies in the Pentagon would have launched a pre-emptive strike many years ago, and killed millions of innocent civilians throughout Europe. All in the name of democracy and freedom of course.

  100. Robert E. Phelan
    If the questions had been different, the mathematics would have been different.>>
    Obsolutely not. The evolution might have been different, but the conclusions would have been identical in the end. 2+2 is 4 in any system developed by any culture anywhere in the world at any time in history. The same is true for a complex binomial or a first order differential. Only the symbols differ. Once translated, the math is identical.
    Only the decisions made in regard to the results differ from one culture to another.

  101. Andrew P.
    But had the Russians not developed their own ICBMs its odds on that the crazies in the Pentagon would have launched a pre-emptive strike many years ago, and killed millions of innocent civilians throughout Europe. All in the name of democracy and freedom of course.>>
    What a bizarre statement. The west had plenty of time to launch a nuclear attack on Russia when they had the bomb and the Russians didn’t, when they had long range bombers and the Russians didn’t, and when they had ICBM’s and the Russians didn’t. But they didn’t.
    I recall also that during the cold war America rebuilt the economies of allies and defeated enemies alike. It was the Russians whose policy was seize, hold and suppress. While Japan was being rebuilt with American money after their defeat, becoming a democracy and ally in the process, communist troops were going house to house in the Ukraine and confiscating all the food resulting in starvation of 8 million people.
    Your rewrite of history is both bizarre and sad.

  102. @ Davidmhoffer.
    I didn’t say the west did launch an attack on the Russians. Just that they/we considered it. As I said I don’t and won’t begin to defend the oppression/suppression of the people in the Soviet era. What I don’t buy is that the west was a totally innocent party in the cold war. And its not my re-write of history, it’s called revisionism. As for the Marshall Plan, yes, great for Germany and Japan, but the UK got nothing out of it because we voted for a Labour government, which was too ‘socialist’ for the USA’s liking. Instead we had severe rationing until the 195os. Poverty and housing conditions in Glasgow were still so bad in the 50’s that it was not uncommon for babies to be brought into hospitals with no lips – because they had been eaten by rats. So please don’t tell me that America rebuilt our economy, when the reality is that the UK only paid off the last of our war debt to the USA in 2006.

  103. Viv Evans: “It is not about Hal Lewis having or not having a ‘big idea’ about climate.”
    I was pointing to the absurdity of the comparison with Martin Luther.
    This issue is about publicity for the climate sceptics’ cause. The aim is to use the resignation of Prof Lewis from the APS to garner maximum publicity for his views on AGW.
    To achieve that publicity, the spokeperson needs to be credible, to have some expertise and experience in the issue in question. Being “eminent” isn’t enough.
    That’s why the resignation isn’t getting much traction in the mainstream media. It’s not bias, it’s relevance, or more accurately, the lack of it.
    This failure to generate much publicity also inadvertently highlights another issue: the paucity of “big names” in climate science who bat for the sceptic side. If Lewis is regarded as a big hitter, then, no matter how worthy he may be professionally and personally, the pool of talent is rather thin.

  104. davidhoffer: “When a towering intellect with his credentials speaks in this manner and the best his critics can come up with is that he has published no thesis of his own…”
    When criticism is reduced to the likes of “global warming scam” and “pseudoscientific fraud”, you know that the manner of speaking owes nothing to a “towering intellect”.
    “I’ve driven over the horizon…”
    The horizon is always receding.

  105. Andrew P. says:
    October 16, 2010 at 1:29 pm
    “…………………………………….
    But had the Russians not developed their own ICBMs its odds on that the crazies in the Pentagon would have launched a pre-emptive strike many years ago, and killed millions of innocent civilians throughout Europe. All in the name of democracy and freedom of course.”
    ========================================================
    What an absolute ridiculously absurd, reality denying assertion.
    You mean like we did when we nuked Korea? Or Vietnam? Or how about our other rivals China? Cuba? Iran? Iraq? Sorry, your ludicrous stereo-type of people in uniform doesn’t meet with historical reality.
    ” On the contrary, the soldier above all other people prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.”—— General Douglas MacArthur——- Duty, Honor, Country speech.
    If you or anyone else wish to gain insight to the character of the people in uniform of this nation. Read this text in its entirety. Its a beautiful read. I can’t get through it without tearing up, but its probably my background. Mid-way through the speech, he’s got some wonderful prognostications.
    http://www.keytlaw.com/Greatwords/macarthur.htm

  106. davidmhoffer says:
    October 16, 2010 at 1:55 pm
    First, let me start off by admitting that I am severly math challenged and have no idea of what an alternative mathematics would look like or whether it would yield results equivalent to what we know. I just ask you to consider this: all systems of mathematics start with assumptions. The mathematical conception of zero has no counterpart in the phenomenological world and may have originated in the cosmological / philosophical speculations of either the Chinese or the Indians who posited a “void”, a nothingness, that when applied to mathematics and mathematical descriptions of observed reality (a reality filtered through a cultural lens) proved amazingly useful. Zero, a concept that may well have spread by diffusion rather than by independent discovery (well, maybe the Mayans…. I never accepted Von Daniken’s alien intervention explanation) is accepted by definition rather than by empirical observation. It is a postulate, but it has been shown to be so amazingly useful that we accept it as a law of nature. Now imagine a mathematics that had both positive and negative numbers but no conception of zero. What would it look like? What would our conception of science look like? Our conception of reality?
    Newton (and Liebnitz) developed a system of mathematics designed to answer the questions they (were both) interested in and which yielded results that corresponded to the phenomenological world they inhabitated. I stand by my assertion: if the questions were different, the math would be different. I can’t judge whether the results would be different…. but I offer for your consideration the country boy IQ test:
    There are five birds sitting on a branch. You shoot one bird. How many are left? The city-slicker boy says “That’s easy. Five birds less one is four.” The country boy says “huh, what makes you think birds are so dumb they’ll stick around after a gun-shot?”
    Context is everything.

  107. Robert E. Phelan;
    Now imagine a mathematics that had both positive and negative numbers but no conception of zero. What would it look like?>>
    Well it would look like Roman Numerals as one example. They can be used to do the precise same calculations and they arrive at the precise same answers. Ancient Rome built roads, bridges, aquaducts and all manner of major construction. They determined maximum loads and spans, determined weight distribution of a loaded arch, gradients for major water systems, and other highly complex mathematical calculations, arriving at precisely the same answers as a modern engineer would. The ancient Greeks before them had a zero, but it wasn’t integral to calculations it was more of a place holder for numbers with multiple decimal places. Despite this they were able to calculate the circumfrance of the earth very accurately as well as disctance from the Sun. In fact, they calculated the amount of energy stored in various materials through experimentation, and concluded that the output of the Sun far exceeded the amount of energy that could be stored in flammable materials. They theorized that matter must be composed of some sort of particles too small for the human eye to see, and that energy was stored in some manner in those particles, which is precisely the case.
    Your admission that you are not strong in math is upheld by your analysis of it.

  108. Andrew P.;
    I didn’t say the west did launch an attack on the Russians. Just that they/we considered it.>>
    How quickly we forget our own words, despite them being recorded above in this thread for all to see and easily reference. You said, and I quote:
    ” But had the Russians not developed their own ICBMs its odds on that the crazies in the Pentagon would have launched a pre-emptive strike many years ago, and killed millions of innocent civilians throughout Europe.”
    Your words and intent are clear. You implied that Russian ICBM’s were the deterrent that prevented the “crazies in the Pentagon” from launching a nuclear attack. I demonstrated the complete falsehood of your statement, and you retreat to the position that what you meant was that they considered it which is an entirely different matter. If you are going to make inflammatory statements be prepared to defend them or admit you are in error. Attempting to reframe what you clearly said as something else entirely does little for your credibility and even less for the debate itself.

  109. Brendan H.;
    When criticism is reduced to the likes of “global warming scam” and “pseudoscientific fraud”, you know that the manner of speaking owes nothing to a “towering intellect”.>>
    Were you to read and understand his letter in its entirety, it would become obvious to you that “global warming scam” and “pseudoscientific fraud” were not his criticisms at all. They were conclusions drawn from his criticisms which were well laid out and easily verified. My expectation is that you have, in fact, read his letter in its entirety, and deliberately choose to quote him out of context in order to create the perception that his criticisms are not well founded or articulated when in fact they are. This is precisely the manipulative and disengenuous behaviour that Dr Lewis protests in detail in his letter of resignation. Sad that even valid criticism is so ruthlessly attacked by immoral means in order to advance a political agenda.
    The horizon by the way, does not always recede, contrary to your claim. For the explorer intent on sailing west to get to the east, the horizon recedes. For the observer secure in their knowledge that the earth is flat, standing on the dock and watching, the evidence is clear. Mr Columbus sailed over the horizon and appeared to fall off the edge of the earth. That he returned requires the observer to re-evaluate his belief that the earth is flat, or else to dismiss what he saw with his own eyes. He need no alternative explanation to the shape of the earth however to conclude that his beliefs are at odds with his observations. Dr Lewis has boldly stated that the conclusions drawn by AGW proponents are at odds with scientific observation and method. His credentials as a scientist clearly make him a towering intellect, and his opinion that proper scientific method cannot be reconciled with the behaviour, evidence, or conclusions of AGW proponents stands as an idictment unto itself that requires no alternative theory to be advanced by him, or anyone else.

  110. Robert E. Phelan;
    I offer for your consideration the country boy IQ test:
    There are five birds sitting on a branch. You shoot one bird. How many are left? The city-slicker boy says “That’s easy. Five birds less one is four.” The country boy says “huh, what makes you think birds are so dumb they’ll stick around after a gun-shot?”
    Context is everything.>>
    Yes it is. For starters, the city slicker is correct. There are four left. No where in your question was there a restriction in regard to where the birds were after the gun shot, so the answer is correct. If you provide precise boundary conditions such as “on the branch one millisecond later” the answer would still be four. If the boundary condition was “on the branch ten seconds later” then it is no longer a mathematical question, it is conjecture only. Math requires specific boundary conditions and results in the same answer regardless of language, culture or the use of roman instead of arabic numerals. Your example while mildly amusing, is not an example of math.

  111. David, your math isn’t too good either. There are still 5 birds left, one of them dead but that wasn’t your boundary condition either.

  112. Gary Pearse;
    Agreed!
    Though had I proposed the boundary condition of alive or dead, I suppose someone would have pointed out that “being shot” doesn’t necessarily correlate to “being dead”. In either case however, there would still be 5 birds left. All boundary conditions would merely result in the ability to enumerate a subset, but there would be precisely 5 birds both before and after the shot.
    A farm boy by the way would have used a shot gun and potentially have bagged them all. A really smart farm boy would have tarred the branch and so easily bagged them without the need of a gun at all.

  113. davidhoffer: “They were conclusions drawn from his criticisms which were well laid out and easily verified.”
    I’ve read the letter, It begins with a trip down memory lane, decides that money has corrupted modern science, pronounces “scam” and “pseudoscientific fraud”, then complains about the society’s procedures.
    Not much laying out and verifying there. The letter is just a disconnected ramble of complaint, with very little substance, which is another reason it has failed to catch on.
    “Sad that even valid criticism is so ruthlessly attacked by immoral means in order to advance a political agenda.”
    When you accuse people of criminal behaviour, expect some blowback. There’s no reason why Lewis should be treated with kid gloves when he has himself gone bare-knuckle.
    “The horizon by the way, does not always recede…”
    It does for the traveller. On the matter of Columbus and sailing “over the horizon”, this effect was noted long before Columbus, so the flat-earth notion is a bit of an urban myth. Back then, most people probably gave the subject little thought in their everyday lives, since it would not have been of much relevance.

  114. Brendan H’
    It does for the traveller. On the matter of Columbus and sailing “over the horizon”, this effect was noted long before Columbus, so the flat-earth notion is a bit of an urban myth.>>
    The story was told in order to illustrate a point. That you choose instead to launch into a discussion of the historical timeline of the effect being noted with a side bar regarding the most likely beliefs of people at the time betrays your unwillingness to address the point made in any credible fashion. Instead you lauch into misdirection and meaningless rehetoric hoping that the average reader will get lost in the details and forget the original point altogether. I made the point however much you disagree with the manner in which I illustrate it, and you have failed to rebutt it. Your approach, to ignore the facts and scream about meaningless details as if they were some sort of proof is precisely the dishonesty and manipulation that Dr Lewis protests.
    Once again, one need not have a theory about the shape of the earth to come to the realization that watching a ship sail over the horizon and disappear is not proof that the earth is flat. It doesn’t matter when it happened, or how many people believed it at the time, or how many people believe it now for that matter. What matters is that conclusions drawn from observations that are in disagreement require that they be reconciled in some manner that explains both. Dr Lewis is quite rightly outraged that some “scientists” propose that the earth is flat by disregarding the fact that they can get in a plane and fly all the way around it. How sad that your only way of attacking his point is to complain that he hasn’t produced any science of his own predicting what the shape of the planet is. He doesn’t need to. Choosing evidence selectively isn’t science, and good on Dr Lewis for saying so.

  115. Robert E. Phelan says:
    October 16, 2010 at 4:46 pm
    Now imagine a mathematics that had both positive and negative numbers but no conception of zero. What would it look like? What would our conception of science look like? Our conception of reality?
    You do not need to imagine. It existed, it was the Greek way of doing mathematics, with the alphabet representation, and then the roman one, with the lots of X and I etc.
    They solved the same equations that our zero including system does, except they had to go to a lot of yogic mental gymnastics to get there.
    The zero came through the Arabs and changed the understanding of mathematics.
    You are wrong about mathematics. Mathematics are there, like mountains, and we discover it slowly through the geniuses that appear in each generation. The language we use is relevant to the complexity or simplicity we observe, but not the function.
    Even within our known now mathematics we have frameworks where 1+1 is equal to 10, and it is the binary system all computers are based on.

  116. anna v says:
    October 16, 2010 at 9:55 pm
    Mathematics are there, like mountains, and we discover it slowly through the geniuses that appear in each generation
    That is very eloquently put, Anna, and is almost exactly the issue I am struggling with. Mathematics are ultimately based on certain fundamental assumptions. Retain the assumptions and certain discoveries are inevitable. Change the assumptions and they are not. David and Gary’s by-play on the number and conditions of the birds inadvertently illustrates my point: the number of birds remaining depends on the assumptions you make about reality and the importance you assign. What mathematics can calculate the country boy’s empirical observation that removal of one bird will result in no birds being left? My suggestion is that mathematics is a tool to answer certain kinds of questions; change the questions and you change the tool. Maybe if I better understood just why the ancients felt this over-powering urge to know the volume of a sphere things would be clearer.
    In any case, I’ve got a lot of research to do and I thank you and David and Gary for your contributions. As Master Kung put it: Where three men are gathered together I can always find one to be my teacher.

  117. Andrew P, Oct 18, 1:29pm:
    Thankyou for your reply. The Wikipedia article you refer to is about a joint planning committee report about what should we do if the Soviets didn’t stop coming Westwards in May 1945. It was not a debate in Parliament and it did not concern atomic weapons – we didn’t have any at that point. Any government has to plan for all manner of contingencies and for you to interpret this as a threat to the Soviet Union is a gross exaggeration. It seems you get your information from the Communist Party’s Book of Made-up Facts.

  118. davidhoffer: “Dr Lewis is quite rightly outraged that some “scientists” propose that the earth is flat by disregarding the fact that they can get in a plane and fly all the way around it.”
    I’m not aware of any climate scientist who argues for a flat earth. And on re-reading Lewis’s resignation letter, he makes no mention of a flat earth, either for or against, so I’m not sure of the relevance of this subject. What’s more, he doesn’t have much to say about climate science either. Most of his beef is with the APS.
    The fact remains that if you want to generate publicity for a cause, you need a credible spokesperson, ie one who has some expertise and experience in the subject, otherwise the appeal falls flat.

  119. Robert E. Phelan says:
    October 16, 2010 at 11:36 pm
    Maybe it is semantics, what you mean by mathematics and what mathematicians and students of mathematics mean. You see mathematics as only a tool. We see it also as a field of exploration, also as an artist views a piece of art. Tools differ according to use, true, but a piece of art just exists to be appreciated.

  120. anna v says: October 16, 2010 at 9:55 pm
    …….it was the Greek way of doing mathematics…….
    Indian mathematicians invented zero, it made life much easier. However number system is not yet perfect. There is problem of infinity ∞ to be solved.
    Zero can be calculated as: a – b = 0 , only if a = b. This can be proved by reverse operation 0 + a = b, but only if a = b.
    Infinity can be calculated only as: a / 0 = ∞. The reverse operation 0 * ∞ = x, where it may or may not be that x = a, is not satisfactory proof.
    We are at same point with infinity , where Greeks and Romans were with zero, we cope with it, but have no precise definition.

  121. Brendan H
    If you serisously had to reread Dr Lewis letter to determine if he mentioned a flat earth or not, then your failure to understand my point by way of analogy is so colossal that words to describe it fail me. If, on the other hand, this is simply another attempt to divert attention from the point itself, you have exposed yourself once more as a disingenuous manipulator of perception. Be you deliberately obtuse or merely suffering from the natural form of the condition, your assertion continues to be absurd. The laws of physics, chemistry, math and any other science are precisely the same be they applied to the building of a nuclear reactor or a climate model. Only the specific variables and measurements for the application in question vary. To prove that Dr Lewis opinion of the manner in which the variables, measurements and math have been used incorrectly is false, you would have to show that chemistry, physics and so on work differently in climate than they do in every other area of research where to date they are all identical.
    Given your affliction, be it deliberate or natural, all I can say is, good luck with that.

  122. Robert E. Phelan;
    The discussion regarding birds was mostly tongue in cheek and says nothing about math. Your assumption that the vagueness of the example somehow shows that math is maleable is incorrect. All it shows is that the definitions to which the math is applied are maleable. Remove the variability of definition of the problem and reduce the discussion to pure math, and it is identical across the board.
    The circumferance of a circle for example is 2*pi*r. It matters not in the least if you use roman numerals with no zero, a number system with a base of 8 instead of our base of 10, or a computer system which uses base 2. To bring it back to your bird example, the only variable is “r”. We can discuss at naseum how to choose which circle we’re calculating, and you might point at a row of them and say second from the end, but I think you mean from the left end while you mean the right, but that issue isn’t math. It is data selection. The equation applies precisely the same to both circles.

  123. Theo Goodwin,
    I’m going to have to call you on your account of Newton and the calculus. Newton’s invention was hardly sui generis. (Read Carl Boyer on the history of the calculus.) What Newton (and Leibniz) did was much more interesting:- the basic elements were already there (due to Fermat, Isaac Barrow [Newton’s teacher – who in fact proved a version of the Fundamental Theorem], etc.). In fact, just as with Special Relativity at the turn of the last century, the idea of the calculus was ‘in the air’. What Newton (and Liebniz) did was to generalize and systematize these ideas, which resulted in a new way of looking (yes, looking) at the whole problem of dynamics. They took the giant step and ushered in the new era.

  124. duahong, your question has been answered repeatedly. Hal’s change of mind reflects both his own integrity and the changing knowledge base upon which honest climate researchers form their understanding. It is the very reason why his other statements about climate change are credible, for it shows that he does not approach questions with his mind made up as to the answers beforehand…in other words, he is a true scientist. All of this has been pointed out by commenters already.
    I would like to add, however, that the whole episode also tells us something important about Andy Revkin, and I must say that I am disappointed. I had great faith a few months ago after Climategate alienated him from some fellow alarmists that he might be starting to shed the blinders. But the amount of space he devotes to this “point”, and the way he clucks with glee in his mistaken belief that by doing so he undermines the credibility of a major “climate skeptic” simply underscores how weak his own position is, and how poorly he understands what gives a scientist his authority. I shudder to think how many people rely on him to distinguish for them between genuine and fake science on this matter. But I suspect this episode will inject a little doubt into the minds of Revkinites who have the common sense to understand the value of the words of a scientist who is willing to change his mind when compelled to do so by the data.

  125. David Ropeik, http://dropeik.com/ : “All of David’s work has been directed toward the same goal; to develop in-depth knowledge about an area of public interest, to synthesize that knowledge, and to provide that synthesis… so people can benefit from… applying a better understanding of the way people perceive risk to the challenge of risk communication and overall risk management”. It’s beyond parody.
    Why are you-all discussing this moronic shite on this blog? Hal Lewis is a major scientist. Andrew Revkin is a f****g journalist for C***’s sakes. You can’t talk to him like he’s your equal. Ropeik too. Talking to people like this is degrading.

  126. Brendan H says:
    October 15, 2010 at 10:22 pm
    Prof Lewis’s action has been hailed as “an important moment in science history”, with his letter “on the scale of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the Wittenburg church door”.
    In that sense, Lewis’s originality or otherwise becomes important, since in order to make the analogy work, we would have to see some radical or just original scientific views about climate.
    Maybe these exist, but so far all I’ve seen is a letter complaining about some internal APS matters and offering a few bromides about climate science.
    Brendan H says:
    October 16, 2010 at 3:52 am
    So if the analogy to Luther is serious, the expectations riding on Lewis are enormous. I think those expectations would be too much for any person to bear, much less someone who seems to be pretty peripheral to the field of climate science.
    ………………..
    Theo Goodwin says:
    October 16, 2010 at 9:22 am
    I believe that in comparing Lewis to Martin Luther, Anthony intended to emphasize that an ANOINTED INSIDER had come forward to REVEAL CORRUPTION at the heart of his organization. It seems to me that the comparison is apt. To read more into the comparison is to get sidetracked.

    The Luther analogy is a bridge too far. Lewis is more like the little boy who shouted “butt nekid!” or Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower of the Pentagon Papers. They had a major impact, although their personal expertise was not outstanding.

    The fact remains that if you want to generate publicity for a cause, you need a credible spokesperson, ie one who has some expertise and experience in the subject, otherwise the appeal falls flat.

    Not really. All you need is a sympathetic “poster child” to rouse public indignation or sympathy, such as the food-lot farm family being evicted in Australia, or a spunky whistleblower like the Erin Brockovich, the gal in the movie about pollution in groundwater, etc. She wasn’t a subject expert, but she could see that hanky-panky was going on and document THAT. That’s all Lewis has to do wrt the APS’s violation of its rules. So he can serve as a “rallying point” and inspirational role model for others who are contemplating challenging the pro-AGW pronouncements of other scientific societies, for instance.
    And his well-documented complaint can be employed by our side’s polemics as illustrating the manner in which the endorsement of CAWGism has likely been obtained from several other scientific societies: I.e., by highhanded steamrollering of dissent by full-of-themselves, science-has-the-answers insiders, and then maintained by slimy subterfuge on their part. I.e., we can tar the consensus with the brush of the APS’s behavior.

    Viv Evans
    All I can say is that any scientist worth his calling should have been outraged for some time already – Nov 17th 2009 being the last date where the shoe really should have dropped as far as the ‘science; in ‘climate science’ is concerned.

    Make that Nov. 19 (or 20th?). It wasn’t public knowledge until then. The 17th was the date of the “A miracle has happened” posting on CA and the receipt by JeffID of the Climategate e-mails.

  127. davidhoffer: “To prove that Dr Lewis opinion of the manner in which the variables, measurements and math have been used incorrectly is false…”
    Well, that’s rather the point, isn’t it? We don’t know Lewis’s views about “variables, measurements and math”, beyound “scam” and “pseudoscientific fraud”, which don’t tell us very much.
    As for your flat-earth analogy, I was merely highlighting its incoherence.

  128. Roger Knights: “All you need is a sympathetic “poster child” to rouse public indignation or sympathy, such as the food-lot farm family being evicted in Australia, or a spunky whistleblower like the Erin Brockovich…”
    I think you’ll find that both sets of people were very knowledgeable on the detail of their particular issues. The perils of seeming-ignorance are well illustrated by the early stages of Sarah Palin’s entry into national politics.
    Whether Lewis can become a “poster child” for the climate sceptics’ cause remains to be seen, but his resignation letter comes across more as peevish and disgruntled than spirited and uplifting.
    As I say, I think this will go the way of the “Hansen’s superior’s” story. Now what was that guy’s name? Something chemical-sounding. Ozone, freon, neon?

  129. Skeptics do not need a poster child.
    We need a number of harsh winters in a row to hammer in the fact that there is no warming. What thousands of calculations and rational expositions of the truth of the matter have not done, shoveling snow in places where it used not to snow, and breaking ice where it used not to ice is the surest propagandist, unfortunately :(.

  130. Regarding the comments above that touch on my input to Andy’s blog about what science tells us about risk perception, call it psychobabble if you will, but if you are interested in the SCIENCES that help explain how the human animal (Dr. Law, myself, Andy, you…) interprets facts about risk and turns those assessments into our perceptions, as a journalist trying to learn more about this as I was researching “How Risky Is it, Really? Why Our Fears Don’t Always Match the Facts,” I relied on sources that include the following, which you might find interesting (these resources have nothing to do with climate change. They’re just scientific investigations that reveal important aspects of risk perception)
    (The resources below are summarized in a single place, “How Risky Is it, Really” Why Our Fears Don’t Always Match the Facts” (Ropeik)
    – Joseph LeDoux, pioneer in the neuroscience of fear. See “The Emotional Brain”
    – Antonio Damasio, neuroscientist, on the inextricable tangle of affect and reason. See “Descartes Error”
    – Daniel Kahneman, social psychologist and winner of the 2002 Nobel Gold Medal in Economics, pioneer of ‘behavioral economics’, the study of heuristics and biases we use to make judgements under conditions of uncertainty. See “Judgments under Uncertainty, Heuristics and Biases” (1982. There are updates but I like the original.)
    – Paul Slovic, psychologist, pioneer of the study of the psychological factors that make some risks FEEL more or less scary, despite the facts. See either “The Perception of Risk” or an update “The Feeling of Risk”
    – Dan Kahan, Yale law professor and, with Slovic and others, researcher into Cultural Cognition, the idea that we choose our positions on issues not so much based on the facts per se but to match the positions of those in the groups with which we most strongly identify. See http://www.culturalcognition.net
    And I acknowledge again, as I did above, and as several commenters rightly point out, that of course these influences on how we perceive things affects me too, just as it does us all. You too. Which is why I state in my book that the examples of risk issues I use “…are only my view of things, meant not to illustrate how you should think about these specific issues, but merely to explain the hidden processes by which you and I think about risks in general.”
    (I hope that doesn’t make me a Marxist or a Communist!)

  131. David Ropeik,
    I followed your link to your web site, which doesn’t make your babble any better but at least provides an explanation for why you said what you did. You are a consultant on Risk Perception, Risk Communication, and Risk Management. So any time, you get a question, you talk your own book and put the answer in the context of your pet field, no matter how tangential it is to the question on hand. You prove Maslow’s famous quote: “He that is good with a hammer tends to think everything is a nail.”
    I am hardly new to your topic – I studied under Dick Thaler years ago. I however understand where behavioral theories can be stretched well beyond where they should go. And it is true that your response is almost perfectly content free.

  132. David Ropeik says:
    October 18, 2010 at 8:41 am
    Mr. Ropeik:
    I trust that Andy Revkin was quoting you correctly in his column:
    It seems Dr. Lewis is demonstrating the very phenomenon he laments, letting his affect and worldviews interfere with taking all the reliable evidence into account in order to make a truly informed and fair judgment.
    It never seems to occur to people like yourself and Revkin that maybe the people on the skeptic side have taken a hard-eyed view at the evidence and found it severely wanting. As for Kahan and Slovick, their Cultural Cognition Project really is little more than a shoddy exercise in pathologizing dissent from progressive view points. Implicit in all their work is the attitude that “we are right and what is wrong with those people that they can’t see that?”
    Ahhh… I have to go teach a class on socialization right now. People choose the oddest times to press my buttons.

  133. David Ropeik says:
    October 18, 2010 at 8:41 am

    ——————–
    David Ropeik,
    I sincerely appreciate seeing you commenting here. Unfortunately, it is so late in this thread, so many may not see your presence here.
    In psychology isn’t there somewhat of a fundamental split of views on the nature/source of human behavior?
    I look forward to your response on this thread. I will monitor this thread, even though it is fading away . . . .
    John

  134. To Cope; Personal attacks seem to bolster the point that the “debate” about climate change really isn’t about those facts at all, but passions rooted somewhere deeper. (And if I was promoting my book, rather than it’s ideas, why cite the other four books, so you could consider them directly rather than my summary?) Further, please do have the courage to call the work of Kahneman, and LeDoux, and Damasio, and Slovic, and all their colleagues “babble”. I’m the summarizer/proselytizer, but the work you denigrate is theirs.
    To Mr. Phelan; we selectively believe the things we selectively believe. Me too. You too. My 25 years as a journalist is part of why I am persuaded by the Cultural Cognition research. But that’s me. You have a different view, neither right nor wrong, just different. Which rather proves the point that the debate is not about the facts but how those facts feel, so it’s relevant to look to what science can tell us about where our feelings about risk come from. I do hope you are honest about this with your students.
    To Mr. Whitman, thanks for the respectful tone of your reply. where does the rudeness of these things come from? Does the anonymity of conversations like this somehow justify rudeness and personal attacks on people with whom one disagrees? When the visceral nature, if not for the very psychology to which I refer.
    To all. I am not arguing here for or against climate change (read my comments on Revkin’s blog), just commenting critically on what various scientific evidence has to say on what may have shaped Dr. Lewis’s thinking. I think these may be valuable additional scientific insights into the discussion.

  135. David Ropeik says:
    October 18, 2010 at 8:41 am
    Regarding the comments above that touch on my input to Andy’s blog about what science tells us about risk perception,
    To perceive something means one has an input and is analyzing it.
    Did you get any input on prof Lewis?
    For example, one right up your alley, in bold:
    Harold Lewis is Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, former Chairman; Former member Defense Science Board, chmn of Technology panel; Chairman DSB study on Nuclear Winter; Former member Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards; Former member, President’s Nuclear Safety Oversight Committee; Chairman APS study on Nuclear Reactor Safety Chairman Risk Assessment Review Group; Co-founder and former Chairman of JASON; Former member USAF Scientific Advisory Board; Served in US Navy in WW II; books: Technological Risk (about, surprise, technological risk) and Why Flip a Coin (about decision making)
    I think not, otherwise you would not be coming out with such a flippant statement:
    letting his affect and worldviews interfere with taking all the reliable evidence into account
    Let me tell you, even simple experimental physicists who deal with radioactivity and beam lines, like I used to, have to be quite good in controlling their affect and not letting it interfere with the work that has to be done. If they followed their affect instead of their intellect and mind, they would run away from the job.
    It is really obnoxious of you to come out with such a statement for a senior scientist, a nuclear physicist who has spent so much of his mental efforts into guiding our society into safer practices with nuclear matters..

  136. David Ropeik says:
    October 18, 2010 at 10:31 am
    To Mr. Whitman, thanks for the respectful tone of your reply. where does the rudeness of these things come from? Does the anonymity of conversations like this somehow justify rudeness and personal attacks on people with whom one disagrees? When the visceral nature, if not for the very psychology to which I refer.

    —————-
    David Ropeik,
    I perceive you through the Andy Revkin post at his blog. I suspect many other do too.
    That is why it is best you come here and represent yourself. I have found people here very open and direct. It gets emotional sometimes, just like real people get in real life. But it is open and moderation is fair.
    Respect gained here is earned. Stay. We need other paradigms help stay on track.
    Unfortunately, in spite of your kind words, I sometimes can get a little too (what is the word) snarky/biased/attack-mode at times. I try to apologize when I do. : ) And other commenters can be guaranteed to point out when I do.
    MY QUESTION TO YOU: In psychology isn’t there somewhat of a fundamental split of views on the nature/source of human behavior?
    John

  137. David Ropeik,
    You unfortunately missed my point. I certainly don’t call all behavioral theories “babble”. In fact, Dick Thaler was one of the most impressive professors I have had the honor of studying under, and every year I wait hopefully for him to be awarded a much deserved Nobel prize. It is your comment that I denigrated. I have re-read what you said and I really see no need reason to change my mind. You are fitting a square peg in a round hole – applying a behavioral theory to a question where it has at best a tangential reference. Please don’t hide behind the impressive work of other to justify your own comments.
    I am mystified by your comment on other people’s rudeness. Perhaps you should also re-read your commentary on Dr. Cohen and see how people could take it as unprofessional and inappropriate.

  138. David Ropeik says:
    October 18, 2010 at 10:31 am
    Mr. Ropeik:
    We do NOT “selectively believe the things we selectively believe”. The cognitive framework of the individual is a unity that is shaped by a cultural template that tells him how to categorize and interpret the impressions or perceptions he receives and how he is to react to them. “Facts” are not accepted or rejected based on how they “feel”, rather they are integrated into the cognitive framework and categorized, a fundamentally symbolic and evaluative process (1.e. it is rational). “Facts” do not carry their own meaning, they do not speak for themselves, rather they occur in an interpretive context. When some one says “the facts speak for themselves” what he is really saying is that he wants you to interpret the “facts” his way. While percveptions do carry an affect, fear is not one of the affects. Fear is an emotion arising from a sense of helplessness coupled with a lack of information. It is noteworthy that in many of your writings your advice to policymakers is to deal with fear by manipulating feelings of trust toward the decision makers. I’ve yet to read advice from you about real transparency, providing complete information and trusting the citizenry to make an informed decision.
    The truth of the matter, Mr. Ropeik, is that the debate is not based on how the facts “feel” but rather on the realization that it is not about facts at all but a challenge arising out of the contradictions in our own culture that have given rise to a group that sees it itself as a cognitive elite that is better able to make decisions than the mass of the citizenry and is in fact bent on transforming their fellow citizens into a technological proletariat that will know its place and leave the decision-making to their betters. Your work, Mr. Ropeike, is dedicated to assisting that “cognitive elite”.
    Yes, you can be sure I’m telling my students the truth.

  139. To Cope; I think its a fair read that your attack on me, personally, not on the ideas I express, is rude. You said “You are a consultant on Risk Perception, Risk Communication, and Risk Management. So any time, you get a question, you talk your own book and put the answer in the context of your pet field, no matter how tangential it is to the question on hand.” First of all, that has nothing to do with discussing the ideas themselves, and second, the question of risk perception, and what various sciences (not me, the researchers) say about how we perceive things like climate change, is hardly tangential to the question. Finally, if I was just hawking my book, why did I recommend 4 others as among the sources I pulled from? Hardly solely self-promoting.
    To Mr Phelan. As with Cope, I am taken aback by your personal invective as we discuss difference of opinion on risk perception (Note that I never took any position on climate change! None.) You accuse me personally of being “dedicated to assisting the cognitive elite”. Because I disagree with your ideas!?
    The field of study known as Cultural Cognition, one of the social influences on risk perception that I note in my book and which I alluded to in my observations about Dr. Lewis, are quite similar to your observations “The cognitive framework of the individual is a unity that cultural template that tells him how to categorize and interpret the impressions or perceptions he receives and how he is to react to them that you note help speaks quite loudly.” So forgive my oversimplification is saying it’s about the facts and how they feel. As I understand the research I’ve cited, it seems to be that risk perception is an affective combination of the facts, seen through the lenses that shape our opinions about those facts.
    Your comment suggests something far more profound than a disagreement about climate change, a passion about a suggested “cognitive elite that is better able to make decisions than the mass of the citizenry and is in fact bent on transforming their fellow citizens into a technological proletariat that will know its place and leave the decision-making to their betters. That sounds like some sort of threatened feeling, which seems to me to be evidence that more than just the facts of climate change are at work in your perceptions of the issue.

  140. David Ropeik,
    Perhaps you are not a finance guy, but do you know what “you talk your own book” means? From your responses, it appears that you do not. Quite surprising as this is a rather common term and should be quite familiar to anyone who purports to be an expert in risk management.
    I do not see my response to you as rude. You do not see your essentially content-free comment about Dr. Cohen as rude (despite calling him irrational!) I guess we will just disagree on this.

  141. Mr. Ropeik maintains that perceptions and belief systems determine interpretation of facts. Perhaps so, but the facts remain the facts.
    The whole business of real science is to avoid subjectivity by insisting on openness of method and data to allow repeatability by anyone, regardless of belief system. The results of this approach to the world have been spectacular. An electron flows the same way through your transistor as through mine, regardless of our attitude towards it. Science understands that the universe doesn’t give a damn about your perception of it, a fact which “post-modern [i.e. non-] science” ignores in favor of Political Correctness and psychobabble.

  142. Revkin uses a simple device in avoiding the central issue that underpins Lewis’s case for fraud and the illegitimate basis for AGWT. How can one hold up the overwhelming weight of evidence for this theory against criticism when we have learned from climategate, the foibles of IPCC and other recent sources that the peer review process was corrupted, criticism silenced, data corrupted and cooked, wiki entries on climate turned into a propaganda broadsheet by an awg control freak and the daily backtracking on once settled science on increasing hurricanes, no MWP, insignificance of UHI, etc. Why would all the manipulations and obfuscations be necessary if the signal is so robust and what level of deception and fabrication can be tolerated by Revkin and other unshakable supporters of CAGW?

  143. David Ropeik says:
    October 18, 2010 at 8:49 pm
    That sounds like some sort of threatened feeling, which seems to me to be evidence that more than just the facts of climate change are at work in your perceptions of the issue.
    Very good, Mr. Ropeik. You think I’ve proved your point when in fact you’ve proved mine. Obviously I have to get in touch with my feelings to understand how they are clouding my perception of the facts…. which happens to be the perception you favor. How convenient.
    You’d be interested to know that it was my interest in climate that drove me to social conclusions I’d been resisting. I’ve regarded the work of Michel Foucault as the ravings of an angry, gay Euro-flake. I don’t any more. Ot would seem some one read him and said “What a marvelous idea.”
    When you get a clue just how demeaning and condescending your remarks are… forget it. You won’t. They’re your stock in trade.

  144. Here’s something interesting — President Obama speaking the day after Revkin’s column:

    Part of the reason that our politics seems so tough right now and facts and science and argument does [sic] not seem to be winning the day all the time is because we’re hardwired not to always think clearly when we’re scared. And the country is scared.

    This is the same accusation Roepkin threw at Hal Lewis, even including the term “hardwired.” Apparently this is the new talking point that liberals and climate change advocates use to dismiss their opponents without answering challenges.
    It’s almost as if Obama reads the NY Times for material.
    But it’s closer than that. Turns out Roepkin is a consultant for the Obama White House, as well as a former Harvard instructor.
    Revkin, as most here know, is a pro-warming journalist who was part of Climategate.
    What we are seeing is not experts, journalists, and politicians who happen to speak their minds in similar ways. This is something planned and coordinated at high levels.

  145. Huxley. In fact, I have worked for only one administration in any capacity, George W Bush. Who I advised in the months following 9/11. And for which folks on the political left excoriate me, despite the fact that I am a devout independent and like to think about issues as they come, rather than through one particular ideological lens or another, which feels to me like letting somebody else do my thinking for me.

  146. David Ropeik says:
    October 18, 2010 at 8:49 pm
    To Cope; I think its a fair read that your attack on me, personally, not on the ideas I express, is rude. You said “You are a consultant on Risk Perception, Risk Communication, and Risk Management. So any time, you get a question, you talk your own book and put the answer in the context of your pet field, no matter how tangential it is to the question on hand.” First of all, that has nothing to do with discussing the ideas themselves, and second, the question of risk perception, and what various sciences (not me, the researchers) say about how we perceive things like climate change, is hardly tangential to the question. Finally, if I was just hawking my book, why did I recommend 4 others as among the sources I pulled from? Hardly solely self-promoting.
    …………………………….
    cope says:
    October 19, 2010 at 5:42 am
    David Ropeik,
    Perhaps you are not a finance guy, but do you know what “you talk your own book” means? From your responses, it appears that you do not. Quite surprising as this is a rather common term and should be quite familiar to anyone who purports to be an expert in risk management.

    Here’s an example, and implicit definition, of what cope means. It’s a quote from a finance site:

    Bill Gross ‘talks his book’ by endorsing government capture of the mortgage mkt at the long-term expense of everyone else.
    The billionaire bond king has never been above using his fame to push forward political/economic policy that advances his positions in the fixed income markets.

    I.e., “talking his book” means “preaching the doctrines he is famous for.” It doesn’t mean (although it originally did, at one time referring to authors being interviewed on talk shows) pumping an actual BOOK.

  147. Brendan H says:
    The fact remains that if you want to generate publicity for a cause, you need a credible spokesperson, ie one who has some expertise and experience in the subject, otherwise the appeal falls flat.

    Roger Knights: “All you need is a sympathetic “poster child” to rouse public indignation or sympathy, such as the food-lot farm family being evicted in Australia, or a spunky whistleblower like the Erin Brockovich…”

    Brendan H says:
    October 17, 2010 at 11:46 pm
    Whether Lewis can become a “poster child” for the climate sceptics’ cause remains to be seen, but his resignation letter comes across more as peevish and disgruntled than spirited and uplifting.

    That’s how the curia saw Luther’s note.

    As I say, I think this will go the way of the “Hansen’s superior’s” story. Now what was that guy’s name? Something chemical-sounding. Ozone, freon, neon?

    No one ever claimed that was a Luther-like moment! (I hope.)

  148. I wrote a couple of posts above, “I.e., “talking his book” means “preaching the doctrines he is famous for.””
    Another more succinct synonym would be “riding his hobbyhorse.” E.g., if you asked Karl Marx about the price of peas in Peru (or any topic under the sun), sure as shootin’ you’d get some leftist screed.

  149. Roger,
    Thank you – that is very well put. Hopefully your explanation will be better understood by David Ropeik as he clearly had difficult with my original comment (somewhat surprising for someone with a masters in journalism from a very good j-school). I thought I made my view quite clear with my quote from Maslow (“He that is good with a hammer tends to think everything is a nail.”) I never accused Mr. Ropeik of trying to hawk his book.

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