Forbes: Can We Really Call Climate Science A Science?

Below are excerpts from a story by Paul Roderick Gregory, in Forbes, plus an examination of how desperate the website SkepticalScience seems to have become in the way they treat professionals.

Excerpts from Forbes:

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Three recent events have brought the controversy over climate science back into the news and onto my radar screen:

First, Ivar Giaever, the 1973 winner of the Nobel Prize in physics, resigned from the American Physical Society over his disagreement with its statement that “the evidence (on warming alarmism) is incontrovertible.” Instead, he writes that the evidence suggests that “the temperature has been amazingly stable, and both human health and happiness have definitely improved in this ‘warming’ period.”

Second, the editor of Remote Sensing resigned and disassociated himself from a skeptical paper co-authored  by University of Alabama Climate Scientist Roy Spencer after an avalanche of criticism by “warmists.” His resignation brings to mind Phil Jones’ threat to “get rid of troublesome editors” (cited above).

Third, the New York Times and other major media are ridiculing Texas Governor Rick Perry for saying that global warming is “not proven.” Their message: Anyone who does not sign on to global warming alarmism is an ignorant hayseed and clearly not presidential material.

What lessons do I, as an economist, draw from these three events?

First: The Giaever story starkly disputes warmist claims of “inconvertible evidence.”   Despite the press’s notable silence on such matters, there are a large number of prominent scientists with solid scholarly credentials who disagree with the IPCC-Central Committee. Those who claim “proven science” and “consensus” conveniently ignore such scientists.

Second: As someone with forty years experience with peer reviewed journals. I can testify that the Remote Sensing editor’s resignation and public discreditation of  Spencer’s skeptical paper would be considered bizarre and unprofessional behavior in any other scholarly discipline.

Third: The media is tarring  and feathering  Rick Perry, we now see,  for agreeing with Nobel laureate Giaever and a host of other prominent scientists.  I guess if  Perry is a know-nothing Texas hick (or worse, a pawn of  Big Oil) so is every other scientist who dares to disagree with the IPCC Central Committee. Such intimidation  chillingly makes politicians, public figures, and scientists fearful of deviating one inch from orthodoxy. They want to avoid Orwell’s “watching their comrades torn to pieces after confessing to shocking crimes.” How many are willing to shoulder that burden?

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Read the entire piece here.

For a recent example of “watching their comrades torn to pieces after confessing to shocking crimes” one needs to look no further than Dr. Roger Pielke’s attempt to have a dialog with the oxymoronically named website “SkepticalScience.com”. Bishop Hill described what happened there as self immolation, Shub Niggurath lists it as A dark day in the climate science debate.

Whatever is is, it’s the worst example of climate ugliness I’ve seen this month, though not the all time worst (see the “corrections” at the end). It is surprising though, that for a website that recently won the  prestigious national Eureka award in Australia, that they’d have to stoop to this level of juvenile behavior reminiscent of Animal Farm, cited by Paul Roderick Gregory in his Forbes article.

Strikeout of opposing commentary, especially that of a professional scientist writing something that doesn’t even appear inflammatory or off topic (since he’s responding to another commenter), is so “grade school”.

Can you imagine the howling that would ensue if I did the same thing to NSIDC’s Walt Meier when he posts something here I might disagree with?

From my perspective, while I once said that John Cook was at least “civil in his discourse with me”, and for that reason I gave Skeptical Science a place on my blogroll. I’m rethinking that now after seeing this latest ugliness.

One thing Shub Niggurath said caught my eye:

More recently however, the tone at [SkepticalScience] has turned shrill. The main proprietor John Cook, who is a climate change communication award winner, apparently approves. These changes have especially been noticeable after a certain ‘dana1981′ – likely referring to the author being born in 1981, began his contributions to the website.

And to top it all, in their narrow and monomaniacal attempts at interpreting Roger Pielke Sr’s blog posts, the readers/moderators and authors including ‘dana1981′ were completely blinded to the fact, that one of them – ‘dana1981′ – had in fact, carried out the very same thing they so vehemently denied.

That reminds me of something I once said about the Internet:

Anonymity breeds contempt

I wonder if Cook will rise to the level of respect that the Australian National Museum has granted him with their Eureka award and fix this mess “dana1981” has created, or will he turn a blind eye and take one for “The Team”? I’ve done my part to be reasonable and adopt suggestions, the ball is now in John Cook’s court. Ironically, in the attempt to muzzle Dr. Pielke and have him acquiesce to demands, they handily proved his original point.

The way defenders of climate science are acting these days, it does indeed beg the question Can We Really Call Climate Science A Science?

h/t to Kevin Hearle for the Forbes article

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Mike Mangan

Cook’s Catechism of Correct Climate Thought.

Tonight on Jeopardy;
Forbes: Can We Really Call Climate Science A Science?
What are questions in Forbes we can answer with one word.

Roger Knights

Here are the last two paragraphs of the article:

About a year ago, I attended a debate between a noted warmist and skeptic. They agreed only on one thing: Climate science is in its infancy. We are just beginning to understand the climate. When we look back, we will understand how little we really understood and how wrong our first findings were. This is the way science is created.
False claims of consensus and incontrovertible truth reveal a political or ideological agenda wrapped in the guise of science. The incontrovertible bad behavior of the warmists has led skeptics to suspect base motives, and who could blame them?

Climate Science is a science. However most of it’s current practitioners are no longer acting as scientists.

Just read the article and the comments so far. The Warmists are piling on, e.g.:

glennpecker 8 hours ago
Are you trying to discredit a person or an entire field of science? If you want to expose an individual for trying to suppress facts, I’m all for it. But the data supporting man induced climate change is [sic] overwhelming and to try to attack an entire field of science over a few emails and individuals is absurd. . .

I wonder where those “overwhelming” data are. . .
/Mr Lynn

Tim Spence

It’s true that at present, climate science is an enigma and all too often it seems linked to a lot of other madness or evil that is going on in the world today. I’m referring to organized groups that want to shut down discussion or opinions that they don’t like, some have a tremendous hatred against other peoples personal opinions.
On a different aspect, Climate Science is a very broad academic entity, certainly it contains more fields than any one person can claim to be an expert in, therefore it is questionable if one person can justifiably claim to be a climate scientist.

In a memorable 1990s TV ad, a doting grandmother said proudly of her grandchild, “He’s got an ‘ology’!”
I reckon that climate science should be stripped of its ology. May it henceforth be demoted to climatography. No more shall the Climate Dept share a corridor with real sciences like Chemistry. Climate has-beens stand around the coffeee machine chatting to their peers from photography and geography. “Back in the glory days of Global warming I used to be an ‘ologist’, you know…”

pat

with Murdoch under attack on a number of fronts, he could launch a counterattack whilst at the same time help answer the question posed by Paul Roderick Gregory (as regards IPCC “climate science” at least) by having Neil Wallis spill the beans about the damage control he did for UEA post-Climategate!
18 Sept: WSJ: ‘High School Physics’
Another Nobel laureate breaks from the climate change pack. .
That’s how Al Gore described the science of climate change this week, by which we suppose he meant it’s elementary and unchallengeable. Well, Mr. Vice President, meet Ivar Giaever, a 1973 physics Nobel Laureate who resigned last week from the American Physical Society in protest over the group’s insistence that evidence of man-made global warming is “incontrovertible.”…
Other dissenters include Stanford University physicist and Nobelist Robert B. Laughlin, deceased green revolution icon and Nobelist Norman Borlaug, Princeton physicist William Happer and World Federation of Scientists President Antonino Zichichi. Our point is not that all of these men agree on climate change, much less mankind’s contribution to it, only that to one degree or another they maintain an open mind about warming or what to do about it.
One of the least savory traits of climate-change advocates is how they’ve tried to bully anyone who keeps an open mind. This is true of many political projects, but it is or ought to be anathema to the scientific method. With the cap-and-trade movement stymied, Mr. Gore and the climate clan have become even more arch in their dismissals of anyone who disagrees. Readers can decide who they’d rather study physics with—Professor Giaever, or Mr. Gore’s list of politically certified instructors.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903927204576572842778437276.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Doug in Seattle

From Paul Gregory’s at Forbes:
False claims of consensus and inconvertible truth reveal a political or ideological agenda wrapped in the guise of science. The incontrovertible bad behavior of the warmists has led skeptics to suspect base motives, and who could blame them?
A very good article, but way too conciliatory towards the warmists.

TanGeng

Seems like Cook is backing up his moderators on this one: http://www.skepticalscience.com/Chasing-Pielke-Goodyear-Blimp.html – skeptical science is not one place to be discussing the science at all. It’s hard to find a way to do it. Mostly it looks like he-said-she-said. Definitely avoid.

D. King

Brent Hargreaves says:
September 19, 2011 at 6:10 am
May it henceforth be demoted to climatography.
Yes, and those skilled in the ART shall be known as climatographers.

kim

Where do I go to get my money back?
===============

kim

D81, heh, he couldna been a contenduh.
============

Bill Yarber

Gore received a Nobel Peace Prize, as did Obama. Why are you surprised that SkepticalScience.com got a Eureka? I would be very surprised if this SkS is resurrected.
The people on the AGW gravy train of government funding have one plan – attack all dissent and vilify all dissenters. Sounds like politics, or religion, not science.
Bill

“Whatever is is…” Typo?

HaroldW

…the oxymoronically named website “SkepticalScience.com
It’s not an oxymoron, which would mean that the two terms are intrinsically or at least typically in opposition. For example, “skeptical_yesmen” would be an oxymoron. Instead, “SkepticalScience” is inaccurately named — certainly in the first part, and having seen their disgraceful treatment of Dr. Pielke’s comments, quite possibly in the second as well.
/pedant mode

Alex the skeptic

Climate is to climateologists as weather is to a barber shop full of men waiting for their turn.

tom T

If climate science isn’t a science, and since it is practiced by many people who aren’t scientists, it might not be, it sure the heck isn’t an art. Most artists claim their art is about a search for some sort of true, either from the real world or an emotional truth, as climate science is practiced now days searching for any truth isn’t a part of it. So if it isn’t a science and it isn’t an art what is it? I think that the best that can be said for the state of climate science today is that it is a political ploy and quite a cynical ploy at that.

Ken Hall

Some intellectual discipline can only be truly and honestly considered scientific if, and only if, it fully adheres to all the rules imposed by the scientific method of discovery.
After 10 years of reading scientific papers, opinion pieces, blogs, commentary from the media and politics across the spectrum of “belief” and after reviewing as much scientific and circumstantial evidence as I can find with regards to climate and the causes of changes in the climate, I have come to the following conclusion.
That political philosophy of indoctrination, which falsely calls itself “climate science” when advocating a catastrophic anthropological impact on global climate, and especially on global temperature increases, fails on a number of rules according to the scientific method and therefore it is not a scientific discipline. It is propaganda, it is indoctrination, it is religion. It is NOT science.

Roger Knights

Third: The media is tarring and feathering Rick Perry, we now see, for agreeing with Nobel laureate Giaever and a host of other prominent scientists.

Huntsman challenged Perry at the recent Republican debate by saying that 97% of climatologists were in agreement. Here’s what Perry should come back with:
“I wouldn’t be surprised if 97% of them were Democrats.”

RichieP

Brent Hargreaves says:
September 19, 2011 at 6:10 am
May it henceforth be demoted to climatography.
I’ve stuck with an appellation I picked up from a commenter here at some point in the last two years: crimatologists. Tthough crimatographer will do just as well.

JPeden

Can We Really Call Climate Science A Science?
Hey, at least they repeat and repeat, and repeat, the same old “tried and true” cynical Political Science Propaganda tactics! And if they “win”, we all know what that would mean in the real world. That’s right, you’d have to listen to the likes of Hansen and Gore 24/7!

Ken Harvey

Slightly O/T but I must get this off my chest before I bust. Frequently on scientific sites, and too often on this one, (as one can see somewhere above) comments appear that indicate that the commentator is labouring under the misapprehension that the word “data” is strictly a plural. Using the word in its singular sense gives rise to snide comment. When one speaks of a number of data from a single source then the plural verb in relation to ‘data” is permissible, but not always appropriate. When one speaks of a body of data such as is generally the case with climate matters, the the word ‘data’ takes the singular verb. This is not optional – it is obligatory. Does it matter? Yes it does, since the incorrect plural use makes the user sound like a misguided pedant, and if spoken makes the user sound like an idiot.
I thank readers in anticipation of their indulgence.

Mike86

Hmm, what makes something a “science” in this age? Let me think… Something about repeatibility, ability to accuately predict effects, could probably toss in ability to design and conduct studies that can be replicated by others.

JeffC

bingo … its a long con … always has been …

Louis Hooffstetter

In a memorable 1990s TV ad, a doting grandmother said proudly of her grandchild, “He’s got an ‘ology’!”
Climatology is an ‘ology’ like Astrology, Theology, and Phrenology.

tom T

I wouldn’t be so surprised to see this from Skeptical Science. The website’s very name is meant to be deceiving. Why look there for honest debate?
BTW the name Skeptical Science is not an oxymoron. An oxymoron is phrase where one part of the phrase contradicts the other part of the phrase. Scientists should by their very nature be skeptical.

kim;)

dana 1981 = Dana Nuccitelli
Environmental Scientist
Dana Nuccitelli is an environmental scientist at a private environmental consulting firm in the Sacramento, California area. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in astrophysics from the University of California at Berkeley, and a Master’s Degree in physics from the University of California at Davis. He has been researching climate science, economics, and solutions as a hobby since 2006, and has contributed to the climate science blog Skeptical Science since September, 2010.
http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/bio.php?u=25

Anthony, I’m wondering about the value of having a dialogue with these sort of people. We’ve all been trying for years with little gain in that respect. However, while they were degenerating, rebuffing, discounting, we grew (the skeptical community). We grew in knowledge and numbers. We are gaining not just a voice in the blogosphere, but as this Forbes article shows, skepticism is gaining, (very slowly) a foothold in the area of acceptance by various media outlets and commentators.
We’re are never going to be able to have a dialogue with the likes of Cook, Foster, Clark, or the rest the cast of idiots. Not only won’t we ever have a reasonable dialogue with them, I don’t believe we need to soil ourselves with association. Good progress has been made without them, and progress will continue without them. They never were relevant, they are even less relevant today.
James Sexton

Kasuha

I thik we sure can call Climate Science a Science … as soon as we separate it from Climate Politics and Climate Religion.

John Cook’s website is aptly named – “skeptical science”,
’cause I’m skeptical that there is any real science going on there.
Well, other than the science of distortion, the science of misrepresentation, and the science of false manipulation of data.
Anthony is entirely too kind to Cook and his dedication to these “sciences”.

Ask why is it so?

Science and Scientists are the Losers here. I’m just an average person who relied on these people to answer the questions I couldn’t but no longer do I put my trust in any of them.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY (for Global Warming Believers)
Fear controls us. We are more afraid of being burnt to death than we are of freezing to death, therefore we believe in what we fear the most. (What a gullible lot you are)

KR

As a participant in the Skeptical Science/Dr. Pielke Sr. discussion, there are a couple of points that seem to have been overlooked, particularly in terms of timeline.
* Dr. Pielke blogged that the SkS website was using ad hominem arguments to dismiss the University of Alabama MSU temperature data (http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/scientific-robustness-of-the-university-of-alabama-at-huntsville-msu-data/).
* SkS posted a response thread stating that (a) this was an unwarranted accusation, and (b) that Dr. Pielke seemed a bit one-sided in criticizing SkS when his own colleagues post notable amounts of ad hominem</em laden articles (http://www.skepticalscience.com/one-sided-skepticism.html). Note that Dr. Pielke's blog generally does not allow comments, so there was no opportunity for anyone to respond to him there.
* Dr. Pielke kindly participated in that open thread. I will note that he did not produce any evidence of
ad homimen attacks on the MSU data.
* At the end of the day, Dr. Pielke had (in my opinion) made the reasonable point that the “Spencer Slip-Ups” and “Christy Crocks” headers used to group multiple articles about various issues were a bit insulting, but again failed to produce any evidence of ad hominem arguments, any dismissal of the MSU data, etc.
* Dr. Pielke’s posting of the very end of the SkS dialog omits any number of questions regarding his own accusations, and numerous attempts on his part to change the subject (http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2011/09/17/my-interactions-with-skeptical-science-a-failed-attempt-so-far-for-constructive-dialog/). I would encourage those interested to read the entire thread, not just the last few postings where people were getting fed up with each other.
I would like to compliment Anthony Watts for modifying the Al Gore header in response to this discussion. But the timeline and context of the discussion are important.

Jeremy

I assume Pielke Sr is not of the right generation to realize just how horrifically a message board can turn against you. When the board’s moderators themselves hold and push bias, you’re basically hosed. It would be like Reagan visiting the Kremlin to talk about capitalism in 1982. You might look like the bigger man in your mind, but you will look like the fool to everyone else for even going there.

REAL SCIENCE:
http://www.stanford.edu/group/brainsinsilicon/ – Heading towards a real human brain simulation in circuitry.
http://www.mpibpc.mpg.de/groups/hell/ – Smashing the “Abbe Limit”.
Of course these folks do MODELING and DEVELOPMENT and TESTING of everything they do. And all THREE of these elements match each other and support each other. Final result – Verified and reproduced.
Wait, a lot of it is NOT reproduced by OTHERS! Wait, a lot of it IS PUBLISHED ON THEIR OWN WEBSITES and NOT PEER REVIEWED. This is because this work is too “cutting edge”. They generally don’t have “peers” in the normal sense. So it must not be “real Science”.
Darn, I should have noticed that. I guess they are just “tinkerers”…
Max

jason

The facts will speak for themselves. They cannot hide ocean temp data etc for ever.

Bernie

Anthony: Please leave Skeptical Science on your blogroll. It provides one measure of which sites take the high road when discussing the findings of climate science.
Thanks

Commander Bill

I have said for many a year. Climate Science is not a science. It is a new wave religion wrapped in scientific jargon. Like any new religion there are groups of zealots that see god and are willing to do anything to promote their beliefs. This tendency has been a central charcteristic of humanity and since the nature of the species has not changed it should not be too surprising that nor has the behavioral tendency been lost.

Bob Diaz

IF both sides to this issue could openly present their case with their data and findings, it would be science, BUT we find that the AGW view withholds their raw data, insists that their view is the consensus view, and blocks any other view. It’s clearly NOT Science, but dogma.
A similar dogma view in science occurred over the issue of whether the Sun went around the Earth. It looks like history is repeating again…

Mike Bromley the Canucklehead

“They want to avoid Orwell’s “watching their comrades torn to pieces after confessing to shocking crimes.” How many are willing to shoulder that burden?”
Too late, as the psycho, yet sweet teacher uncovers the button which atomizes two student children who dare to ask why. That image should be repeated from time to time to remind the rest of the world just how sick this AdHom BS has become.

bhaskell

One of the “ologies” that is most frequently ignored in climate science is metrology (the science of measurement). In my high school physics class, we were divided up it to teams and asked to measure the average temperature of our classroom. The variance from the highest reported average temperature to the lowest (all using the same equipment, but different methodologies), was more than 10%. I know we have experts measuring the temperature now, but it’s the entire Earth. Has anyone even tried to put a collar around the potential margin of error (particularly for measurements that predate modern equipment)? As someone much smarter than I once said, for the AGW to be proved, experts in the fields of chemistry, meteorology, physics, mathematics, geology, metrology and computer modeling must all be correct. For the entire theory to be flawed, only one of these experts must be wrong. I spend most of my time these days modeling the stock market and anticipating its trends. I do barely better than random chance (which is enough, by the way . . . just like casinos), but certainly, I would never suggest that I have a complete understanding of the market, which, by the way, has far fewer variables than the climate. After perusing the “read me” files, I have no confidence that all the various disciplines are right. I wouldn’t be surprised if all of them are dead wrong.

Jim G

Climate science suffers from the same ailments that afflict astrophysics and probably many other sciences. Follow the money and you will always get to the bottom of the problem. Those involved in research are biased by the lure of the dollar. They use correlations without regard for rule one, not to imply cause and effect. They violate many other rules of proper research such as using selected data which confirm the view they espouse, ignoring contrary date, poor or no statistical methodology, invention of properties which are not proven to exist (dark matter, inflation, dark energy) to fit their theories, etc. They want their papers published, they want grant money, they want fame and fortune. Climate science fits right in and these problems are not new.

John F. Hultquist

Re: dana1981
I believe I remember reading Luboš Motl (The Reference Frame)
http://motls.blogspot.com/
taking on this person earlier this year. I can’t find that post now but recall Lumo scored all the points. He visits WUWT so maybe he can point to that set of comments.

Ken Hall: “It is propaganda, it is indoctrination, it is religion. It is NOT science.”
We have a winner! I just listened to a fired up President Obama who mentioned Buffett and taxes repeatedly. Since the CAGW schemes aren’t gonna work, Spaghetti O knows that by raising taxes on the wealthiest it then becomes much easier to raise taxes on the middle class where the real money is!

Jeremy

KR says:
September 19, 2011 at 7:35 am
As a participant in the Skeptical Science/Dr. Pielke Sr. discussion, there are a couple of points that seem to have been overlooked, particularly in terms of timeline….

Also overlooked was the science w.r.t. to talking to Pielke. I guess with the warmists like yourself, the subject in question is the science, except when it is not.
Also, it seems that if his accusations of SS’ ad hominem against Christy and his sat data were so wrong, you’d think SS would avoid doing it, they didn’t:
http://www.skepticalscience.com/santer-catch-christy-exaggerating.html

TheBigYinJames

As James Sexton says, we don’t need to argue with these people any more. The more they thrash about in their panic, the more stupid they look in the eyes of mainstream science. Truth is gaining ground in it’s own right. The climate isn’t matching their models, no matter how they weasel, we don’t have the predicted temperature rises, sea level rises, global ice melt, extinctions, outgassing, and all the other nonsense they came up with around the turn of the century to scare us.
A silly immature science based on faulty statistics pushed to its limit by a few self-serving bullyboys, the truth always catches them out – they can control the datasets, they can even control the media through politicians who want to push the same message for different reasons, but their words can’t actually control the climate, which is doing its own thing as it always has.
But such nasty tactics aren’t new to science, such squabbling has gone on for centuries. All that’s happened is that we have had 30 years of relative stability in science, with no major big arguments. Since Steady State Theory and Plate Techtonics, science has been a pretty stable climate in our lifetimes, and we’re just not used to the underhanded way some scientists behave when their work and reputations are at stake. Human nature = nothing new. Time always favours the correct answer, and we just have to sit tight as the rest of the world catches up with us.

Nuke Nemesis

I think a better question is can we really call climate models science and an even better question is can we really call climate scientists who push junk science scientists?* After all, climate science is in it’s infancy and it’s not fair to paint the entire profession with a broad brush.
*BTW: For those who think this question is too strident or divisive, you can broaden the scope to include all scientists who push junk science if you wish, but I’d rather we stay on the topic at hand.

Solomon Green

Ken Harvey says:
“When one speaks of a number of data from a single source then the plural verb in relation to ‘data” is permissible, but not always appropriate. When one speaks of a body of data such as is generally the case with climate matters, the the word ‘data’ takes the singular verb. This is not optional – it is obligatory.”
I was taught that the singular of “data” is “datum” and that if one was referring to data one should always use the plural. . If one was referring to an agglomeration of data the singular should be used because it was the agglomeration to which one was referring not the data themselves.
Incidentally climate science is a science but then so was alchemy.

bob paglee

The Wall Street Journal editorial page today features Prof. Giaever’s protest beginning as follows: “High School Physics” — That’s how Al Gore described the science of climate change this week, by which we suppose he meant it’s elementary and unchallengeable. Well, Mr. Vice President, meet Ivar Giaever, a 1973 physics Nobel Laureate who resigned last week from the American Physical Society in protest over the group’s insistence that evidence of man-made global warming is “incontrovertible.”

Luke Warmer

So called ‘Skeptical Science’ is pretty amusing.
I used to post there but, just as with un-‘Real Climate’ any post which questions the dogma is summarily excluded.
They’ve kinda devolved into a self assuring religious cell, much like a bees nest which dedicates itself to defending the faith.
Of course Luke Warmers, who contend that global warming is real, but exaggerated, don’t get a lot of play anywhere.