Summary: The International Conference on Climate Change 7

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

After years of getting up at 4 AM to go commercial fishing, these days I generally have as little to do with dawn as possible. But last Sunday, I found myself in the Palm Springs airport at 5 AM, boarding a plane to Chicago to go speak at the ICCC7. The Conference is put on by the Heartland Institute, which has had real trouble getting any publicity this year. So I figured I’d go give them a hand …

My connecting flight out of Denver was delayed so I didn’t get to Chicago until the afternoon, and I figured I’d just roll into town. As the world always turns out, things were not quite that simple … because the Conference was being held at the Chicago Hilton Hotel, which was also hosting the NATO Conference and the inevitable associated protests.

Since the main staging ground for the protestors was in the park across the street from the Hilton, the police had barricades up all around there, many of the roads were closed entirely, and my bus couldn’t even drive up to the front door. It dropped us two blocks away, and I had to schlepp my luggage to the hotel. Nor did the fun stop there. Because there were a variety of heads of state staying in the Hilton, there were Secret Service people from a dozen nations all over the hotel. It was like being in some alternate reality where every second person is a policeman … quite strange.

But that was just the surrounding storm. The Conference was another matter, I enjoyed it greatly. Judith Curry has a very catty post up at her blog attacking both Heartland and the Conference, I don’t know why.

Let me start by saying that I have many disagreements with the Heartland folks, and that I went and spoke anyway. Let me see if I can explain why.

For the majority of my life, I’ve been a social liberal and a fiscal conservative. This puts me at odds with both political parties. It also puts me in a very different group than most of the Heartland folks. But that’s all just the personalities. Judith Curry said “I’ve looked at the program, nothing in particular caught my interest, I’ve seen previous presentations from most of the scientific participants.” However, for me, the value in conferences is rarely in the presentations or in the personalities or the political positions—it is in meeting, discussing, and interacting with the participants in the times between the presentations.

So for example I got to spend a delightful hour wandering over to the shore of Lake Michigan with Lucia Liljegren of The Blackboard, who turns out to be as charming, witty and lovely as she is intelligent. I got to meet one of the Moderators of WUWT that I had never met. I got to spend some time with Dr. Willie Soon, whose exuberance and passion seems never-ending, and who gave me some new information of volcanoes and mercury. I got to reconnect with Dr. Craig Loehle, my co-author on our recent paper, who I rarely get to see in the flesh. I got to talk with Anthony Watts, who I usually see only once or twice in a year. Those are the kinds of interactions that are of great value to me.

I also found a number of the presentations to be quite interesting. US Representative Jim Sensenbrenner discussed some of the political intricacies surrounding the attempt to bring reason to the US Government’s role in the climate issues. Václav Klaus, the President of the Czech Republic, gave a fascinating talk about how he sees the underlying issues in the climate debates. And a number of the scientific presentations were interesting. Yes, as Judith said, I’ve read and heard much of the science before … but it was a chance to directly ask questions of the scientists, which is always a treat.

Finally, it was a chance to talk to some of the Heartland folks. As I said, I have many differences with them. I felt, for example, that their billboard showing the Unabomber was simultaneously true, meaningless, repulsive, and a very self-destructive, unpleasant, and foolish venture into guilt by association. I have said many times that it doesn’t matter whether a statement is made by the head of Greenpeace or written on a bathroom wall. What is important, the only thing that is important, is whether or not it is true. And it matters just as little who believes it as it matters who said it. I can understand their frustration at being the unending target of attacks that are just as vicious and ugly, but “tu quoque” (which is basically Latin for “but Mommy, he did it first”) works no better for adults then it does for children.

But Heartland is no different from any of the other organizations involved in climate change, from Greenpeace to WWF … except that its budget is much smaller, and as far as I know, it doesn’t harass the Greenpeace funders the way that Greenpeace harasses those who fund Heartland. Greenpeace is famous for their unpleasant and intimidating “we know where you live” attitude.

But all of these organizations try to push their own beliefs and ideas, so I don’t understand the opposition to Heartland for doing just that. If you want to get upset about the ethics, people should be as upset about harassment of funders as they are about billboards.

I was also surprised by Judith’s claim that Heartland is “losing the battle”, citing in support articles by the well-known fraud Susanne Goldenberg of the “neutral” media outlet, The Guardian … Judith, for many of us, citing Suzanne Goldenberg marks you as someone who isn’t paying attention. She’s the one who recently flat-out lied about Gleick’s actions, you believe her at your own peril and you cite her at no small cost to your reputation for due diligence regarding the honesty of your sources.

My strong sense from talking to Joe and Diane Bast and some of the Heartland staff is that although there have been some losses from the attacks on the funders whose names were revealed by the mail fraud perpetrated by Peter Gleick, as well as from the billboard fiasco, the Heartland folks are most definitely alive, doing well, and still kicking. Sure, they lost some funders, but they have gained others. And as usual, it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog, and I don’t detect any slackening in their fighting spirit. My conclusion is, Suzanne Goldenberg’s rumors of Heartland’s death are greatly exaggerated, which is just more of Suzanne’s usual misdirection, falsehoods, and fallacies.

But that doesn’t mean that I agree with a number  of the Heartland political positions or those of their followers. For example I sat next to a lovely woman one dinner who was a firm believer in Intelligent Design. She made an argument for intelligent design which was that when we see a watch, we don’t assume that it was a random creation. Instead, we assume that there is a watchmaker.

I’d heard that argument before, but never given it much thought. So I considered it for a few moments, and I replied that if we were to accept that argument, that the job wasn’t done. She asked, what did I mean that the job wasn’t done?

I said that if a complex watch implies a more complex human maker of the watch, and by implication if a complex human watchmaker implies an even more complex maker of the human watchmaker … then by exactly the same logic, the complex watchmaker-maker she called “God” implies an even more complex maker of the watchmaker-maker … and on ad infinitum. In other words, if we are to assume that a complex watch necessarily implies a more complex and intelligent watchmaker, then a complex God must imply an even more complex and intelligent God-maker, and so on …

Clearly she had never considered that her argument contained the seeds of its own destruction … but to my surprise she was honest enough to say so, and to say that she had no counter-argument. I admired her for that. But it was a clear example of the generally large distance between myself and a number of folks at the Conference. For example, I think that human beings require regulations, or else people will piss in the drinking water. To me it’s a no-brainer, we’ve proved that many, many times in a host of realms. But a lot if not most of the participants seemed to see any and all regulations as tools of the devil incarnate … not me.

As I said above, however, that wasn’t the point, that’s not the science, that’s just the personalities and the political and religious beliefs. For me, the science, and the opportunities to discuss the science with the scientists, transcends all of that. Politics makes strange bedfellows, and I can live with that.

My conclusions from the Conference were that overturning the current climate science paradigms and the AGW supporters’ activism and malfeasance is going to be a long, slow slog. People like Suzanne Goldenberg want to prematurely claim either victory for their side, or the defeat of their opponents’ side … me, I think this will take years to settle. And more importantly, as far as I can see, neither Heartland nor I have any intention of giving up that fight.

And that for me was the main lesson from the Conference.

w.

PS—On the last day, I walked around the block for some exercise. Upon returning to the Hilton, I noticed a man holding a sign that from a distance read “THE WORLD IS FLAT”. As I came closer, I noted that there was small print, and his whole sign said “The Heartland Institute says THE WORLD IS FLAT”. I stopped and said to him I’d never seen such a statement from Heartland … he said well, no, but “a number” of the Board of Directors think the world is flat. How do you know that, I asked? They’re that kind of people, he said. Ahh, I thought, another follower of Suzanne Goldenberg.

He asked, wasn’t I was ashamed be associated with an organization that gets its money from “giant corporations”? I said that Greenpeace and WWF historically have gotten big donations from the giant oil companies, wasn’t he ashamed to be associated with them?

He said that it was OK for them to take oil money from giant oil corporations, because Greenpeace and WWF do good work … I sighed, and went back into the hotel to listen to something logical and understandable …

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jeanparisot

Summa Theologica, crica 1270 T Aquinas is a handy reference, although it is better in Latin

Gary

Thanks for a personal take on ICCC7, Willis. IMO, you’re spot on with your opinions here, although the logic of your watchmaker counter-argument has a false premise – that deepening complexity must continue up each level ad infinitum. One might suggest that although this seems to hold in the natural universe, there is no evidence for it in the super-natural (which by definition contains/causes/over-arches the natural) and thus might not be the case. Just sayin’.

John W. Garrett

Mr. Eschenbach,
You are, as usual, that rarest of rarities— a font of common sense.

“My conclusions from the Conference were that overturning the current climate science paradigms and the AGW supporters’ activism and malfeasance is going to be a long, slow slog. People like Suzanne Goldenberg want to prematurely claim either victory for their side, or the defeat of their opponents’ side … me, I think this will take years to settle. And more importantly, as far as I can see, neither Heartland nor I have any intention of giving up that fight.”
Willis, another excellent article but one thing I do disagree with you on is that climate science is some sort of fight. You cannot fight good science and I personally think that as far as AGW evidence goes; there is a lot of bad science. I am probably naive, but I always assumed that a scientist had a hypothesis, which became a theory when evidence and data supported that hypothesis. A theory is always a theory because in the future, better data may disprove it.
I think that those of us who instinctively think that AGW is a load of c**p need to disprove said AGW by questioning the data and the motives of the scientists producing that data.

Physics Major

I’ve been a social liberal and a fiscal conservative

Willis,
That probably describes more of us here than you might think.

Vince Causey

A very encouraging article. The bit about the bill board carrier says it all really. The evidence of delusion is everywhere, and the deluded can see no contradiction in their positions – the ID woman excepted, of course.

Kev-in-UK

Excellently written, as always Willis! The whole point of proper conferences, is real life human interaction and the cross referencing and cross pollination of ideas………..

Oldseadog

You are right, Willis, that it is going to be a long slow slog; in fact until the MSM finally start to publish both sides of the AGW argument.
I’m not holding my breath.
But, as usual, a nice report of your time in Chicago.

Steve P

“What is important, the only thing that is important, is whether or not it is true.”
–Willis Eschenbach

Amen.

Frank K.

“He asked, wasn’t I was ashamed be associated with an organization that gets its money from “giant corporations”? ”
Willis – you should checked to see if he had an iPhone and/or and iPad – both made (in China) by Apple Inc. – one of the biggest corporations in the world – heh!.

timetochooseagain

“For the majority of my life, I’ve been a social liberal and a fiscal conservative. This puts me at odds with both political parties. It also puts me in a very different group than most of the Heartland folks.”
Huh? Heartland is a libertarian think tank. Is not social liberal & fiscal conservative 90% of what it means to be a libertarian?

I agree with Curry – heartland is an ideological organization and it supports AGW skepticism because it is in line with their ideological beliefs not because they are defenders of science. Also calling her post “catty” is not cool.

Willis, Thanks for all you do. I am more informed.
You, nor I, nor any creature of Earth, we did not randomly materialize from the ether. We are too ordered for that. I can’t say how the order arose from the chaos. But random happenstance, c’mon.
A million monkeys at a million typewriters will never, I say never write a novel, good or otherwise.

Stephen Richards

I think that those of us who instinctively think that AGW is a load of c**p need to disprove said AGW by questioning the data and the motives of the scientists producing that data.
There is no theory to disprove. There is an Hypothosis which has been damaged many, many times by Steve Mc and many others. The agw crowd need to find another hypothosis with which to beat the people of planet earth.

LazyTeenager

The Conference is put on by the Heartland Institute, which has had real trouble getting any publicity this year.
———
Beats me, I thought Heartlands problem was too much publicity of the wrong kind.
———
I felt, for example, that their billboard showing the Unabomber was simultaneously true, meaningless, repulsive, and a very self-destructive, unpleasant, and foolish venture into guilt by association.
———-
Depends whether by true you mean the literal words or the message. The message was false, but if Heartland actually believes it, and many people here do, then the rest of the world should know the truth about what Heartland believes. In that sense Heartland was being honest.

GoodBusiness

Thank you for your honest assessment. I have long pointed to political science is always defective – I debated a Doctor scientist from NASA for almost a year, he had no real peer reviewed papers to present but argued about CONSENSUS OF SCIENTISTS and it is now SETTLED SCIENCE.
Well, when I ask what parts of the Scientific Method permitted these new conclusion of OPINION supersede factual scientific evidence that is not consistent with the hypothesis they present as having been peer reviewed and approved. After the email leaks have destroyed the data set they ALL used to create the computer models that make the predictions that we now know are false science.
This is all about the money and the GRANTS. One of my friends involved with the research at UCSD and Scripts fell into the need for raising money and therefor he suddenly changed to a C02 believer for the first time and suddenly was travelling around the globe making speeches to secure more financing for the research ie: keep their labs open and the paychecks coming. It is a corrupt subject that has now collapsed for the most part but a recent California EPA has put up a new death balloon – it is now CARBON DUST – more deadly than C02. The also presented several other new substitutes for ECO FEAR PRESENTATIONS.
To bad it can not be about real science and real research not researching an observed possible problem and then doing research to prove why it is as bad as you think. It appears to reverse science like reverse engineering look at the result and then work backwards until you can recreate what is already existing.

I saw the same lonely guy a couple of times holding his billboard. He was the only protester I saw there. One guy. Sad.
I also picked up some “Peter Gleick/Fakegate” and Heartland’s “Don’t Tread On Me” T-shirts. If anyone would like one, send your name & mailing address to my throwaway email acount: themistocles2010-2020 at yahoo.com. State your size. Offer good until my supply runs out. Don’t be shy, I have about twenty of them. I’ll pay the postage. [Please consider hitting Anthony’s “Donate” button. No obligation, of course, I’ll send the shirt(s) anyway.☺]

Lol, Willis, as usual, you continue to astound me. You can find so many topics in one short writing that I can completely agree with some and completely disagree with others. It’s fascinating.
I’ll continue to shout my support for HI’s billboard campaign and I highly encourage them to continue. We are well past the time that we quit talking about the potential harm of the policies enacted to fight CC/CAGW and start pointing out the proper comparisons to these lunatics. It isn’t a question of “they did it first”, it is a question of the projection, duplicity and hypocrisy of the alarmists.
To me, it doesn’t make any sense not to point out fundamental truths about who our opponents are in this climate discussion. The comparison to the Unibomber isn’t just truthful, it is apt. He is a Luddite who decried the industrialization of the world and killed people to further his ideology. How is this different than the killings and forced mass sterilizations which are occurring in efforts to further the alarmist agenda? http://suyts.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/these-animals-are-committing-crimes-against-humanity/ There are, of course, many more crimes against humanity these people are engaged in, which I hope to unify into post soon.
We should avoid talking about this and putting it in proper context because if offends the sensibilities of some climate skeptics? They make Ted Kaczynski look like a choirboy.
Some other observations….. so regulations is what innovated plumbing and sewer systems? Who knew? Well done Roman bureaucrats!!
Flat earthers….. are those the people who consider the earth’s energy budget as a two dimensional disc?
Ahh… so much more to say about social liberal/fiscal conservatism, and ID but that’s for another comment.

David, UK

For the majority of my life, I’ve been a social liberal and a fiscal conservative…
So, a libertarian then?

David, UK

I’m sorry to say so, and I know Willis is much respected here – but I’ve never seen so little said in so many words. I feel like I’ve aged 10 years.

Owen in GA

Heartland takes the extreme on things, but this conservative who tends toward libertarian believes there should be clearly defined regulation that should be very difficult to implement in the US. Since these regulations carry the force of law and can usurp the 4th amendment with little to no due process (ones passing the regulation also enforce the regulation and judge “guilt” and impose the penalties), regulations should have to pass both houses of congress as law, and should always be a matter of the congressional record. No more of this “War On Coal” nonsense. Congressmen would be loathe to kill off enough power plants to create rolling blackouts if they knew they would face the wrath of their constituents at the next election. I am for a constitutional amendment that states “Congress shall pass no law giving over legislative powers to the executive branch” or “Congress shall pass no law with words stating “The Secretary shall determine…” or “The Secretary shall institute such regulations as necessary to implement and enforce this law”! If congress can’t foresee the needs of the law at the time of passage they should be forced to pass another law implementing these new needs.

Andrew Greenfield

I disagree here with Willis, it won’t take much longer. Its becoming blatantly obvious to everyone that its not warming. It seems that it will probably continue to cool a bit for some years more as well… Even the AGW are now talking more about species extinction rather than AGW C02 (see climate depot). I think the C02 battle has been won already.

Owen in GA

I got lost on my soap box on the preceding…all that was to say that we need regulations, but they should be limited and extremely sharply defined.
EPA should be a really small office attached to the Justice department, and violations of the law should be prosecuted in the courts. Most of the Superfund law should have been thrown out as ex post facto anyway…the idea that the government could go back and hold people accountable for things that weren’t illegal (ill-advised-oh yeah) when the acts occurred is abhorrent and unconstitutional. Now taking action to shame people who should have known better into doing the right thing I’ll agree with. The Clean Air and Clean Water acts have far too much “the secretary shall determine…” language in there the effect of which is to give those with the political desire all the levers necessary to create a totalitarian state. It is that to which I am most opposed.

Quinn

RE: Watchmaker and intelligent design
When I look at a snowflake under a magnifier, I see an amazingly intricate, ordered structure with hexagonal symmetry. Another snowflake will be equally intricate, ordered, and symmetrical, but completely different from the first. God must be very busy indeed if she is designing every individual snowflake.

DesertYote

andrewmharding
May 25, 2012 at 12:22 pm
###
It is a battle and winning has little to do with science. You see, for the enemies of humanity, CAGW is just a pretext to terrify the ignorant into giving up their humanity. They KNOW their science is bunk. It does not matter because they control the narrative that guides the collective consciousness that most of the citizenry has been programmed to tune into by the very same people who are driving this agenda. If you don’t believe what I am saying, just read some of the troll posts e.g. stupid brats. It is a battle. Losing means the collapse of civilization and another real dark age that could well last 1000 years because this time there are no new continents to go to.

Terry

I happen to believe that evolution and intelligent design are one and the same. They have to be. They both explain in some incomplete or assumption ridden or prejudiced manner the exact same result. We just need to stop taking the Bible literally and understand that scientific theory on the matter is still incomplete, and possibly incorrect, in many ways. One cannot look at the marvels around us and not understand that there is a greater power at work. The laws of physics is the fundamental blueprint of our world. They are the underlying cause of the order that created everything from the chaos. Different paradigm, different terminology and different beliefs, same result.

Kev-in-Uk

David, UK says:
May 25, 2012 at 1:10 pm
” I’m sorry to say so, and I know Willis is much respected here – but I’ve never seen so little said in so many words. I feel like I’ve aged 10 years.”
that’s a bit sad – I suppose you always prefer a joke to go straight to the punchline? I grant you, Willis’ didn’t say very much – but the storyline is what provides the human interaction element you perhaps lack?
”The imparting of knowledge/wisdom is not in the answer alone, but in the learning/teaching of how to arrive at the answer, alone” – (quite possibly an old chinese proverb, but really I just made it up!)

bernie1815

Willis:
Nicely said. As to the intelligent design thing, I think the issue is more down to the existence of a Supreme Being and your response to the lady was on target and reflects your quick wittedness. As to your aphorism “…the only thing that is important, is whether or not it is true.” – I agree, otherwise we will all be on the way to hell by way of the road of good intentions.

Dr Burns

Willis,
I had to smile at your chat with the greenie. I spent some time on the Greenpeace forum, before I was banned, not for breaking the forum rules, but for being too disruptive by not agreeing with the many people similar to the fellow with whom you spoke.

Gail Combs

Physics Major says:
May 25, 2012 at 12:24 pm
I’ve been a social liberal and a fiscal conservative
Willis,
That probably describes more of us here than you might think.
________________________________
I think anyone with brains realizes civilization needs rules (laws) and that we as civilized humans should take care of our weak and elderly, and provide for common services.
I find it very amusing that some liberals attack “Christians” now a days when that has been the stance of “the Church” for centuries. (I am Agnostic BTW)
However my stance is the larger the government, the larger the waste and the more room for greed and corruption. The bigger the bureaucracy, the less control the people governed have. Therefore I want as much of my government local and small so I can keep an eye on it and kick butt as needed.
Huge bureaucracies answerable to no one scare me because there is no way to get rid of the “Little Hitlers” that seem to clog up the place. A few rounds with the brainless idiots in the planning office or other bureaucracy will convince you of that…
Arguing with an inspector is like wrestling with a pig in mud, pretty soon you realize, the pig’s enjoying it.
When a USDA agent tells me my nine wire high tensile electric fence designed by a top notch fence company is unacceptable for keeping in livestock one really wonders if it is time to clean house in all the bureaucracies. (The guy across the street uses three wires.)

Gail Combs

Owen in GA says:
May 25, 2012 at 1:27 pm
….Congressmen would be loathe to kill off enough power plants to create rolling blackouts if they knew they would face the wrath of their constituents at the next election. I am for a constitutional amendment that states “Congress shall pass no law giving over legislative powers to the executive branch” or “Congress shall pass no law with words stating “The Secretary shall determine…” or “The Secretary shall institute such regulations as necessary to implement and enforce this law”! If congress can’t foresee the needs of the law at the time of passage they should be forced to pass another law implementing these new needs.
___________________________
I agree with you, bureaucrats should not be making law, but what most people do not understand is a Constitutional Amendment opens up the WHOLE Constitution for a rewrite and that is something we very much do not want.
The Roots and Development of the Federal Bureaucracy is a quick history of how we ended up saddled with the mammoth federal bureaucracy. The (self snip) Supreme Court caved in and did not uphold the Constitution.

Jurgen

“Intelligent design”
The simplest and best exposure of the fallacy of this reasoning is to point to the projection involved – we humans do create objects, like watches, and thinking that other objects by analogy have to be created as well is simply a projection of this idea.
If you are convinced everything has to be created, by analogy, it just tells me your mind is stuck in a circular reasoning.
No harm done of course. Unless you want to go into science 😉

Quinn says:
May 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm
RE: Watchmaker and intelligent design
When I look at a snowflake under a magnifier, I see an amazingly intricate, ordered structure with hexagonal symmetry. Another snowflake will be equally intricate, ordered, and symmetrical, but completely different from the first. God must be very busy indeed if she is designing every individual snowflake.
—————————————————————————————————-
We know how and why crystals form.
Where does your conscience come from?
Why are your fingerprints unique.
Why and how do we dream?

Otter

Quinn~ God must be very busy indeed if she is designing every individual snowflake.
Not at all, quinn. All God had to do was create and set in motion the physics behind the snowflake. Just like he designed the negative feedbacks that regulate the Earth’s temperature and confound the likes of connolly, mann and algor.

Willis Eschenbach

Saren says:
May 25, 2012 at 12:46 pm

I agree with Curry – heartland is an ideological organization and it supports AGW skepticism because it is in line with their ideological beliefs not because they are defenders of science. Also calling her post “catty” is not cool.

Thanks, Saren. I am generally chary of ascribing motive to people, especially if they are defending honest science. As to whether the Heartland folks are one-sided and ideologically driven, they invited some 57 AGW supporting climate scientists to present their views at the Conference at Heartland’s expense. This, to me, is in the finest traditions of science and more to the point, it totally falsifies your argument.
If they were driven by ideology rather than science as you claim, they would not offer to pay for fifty members of the opposition to speak at their conference, full stop.
As to calling Judith’s remarks “catty”, what can I say, that’s how they sounded to me, as though they were impelled by something far different from a concern about the science. Her citing of Susan Goldenberg confirmed my analysis that her objections were not reality-based.
I don’t like that she sounded catty to me any more than you do. I respect Judith and it’s the only time I’ve heard her take that tone, which is why I commented on it.
w.
PS—Saren, one of the joys of the web is that it forces me to look things up and examine my own actions and words. In this case the first definition I find is:

catty: 1. Deliberately hurtful in one’s remarks; spiteful.

Yes, that’s exactly what I meant, that she was looking to deliberately hurt Heartland and the people who spoke at the conference. Her tone sounded spiteful. I stand by my word choice.

DoomedToRepeat

“For example, I think that human beings require regulations, or else people will piss in the drinking water. To me it’s a no-brainer, we’ve proved that many, many times in a host of realms. But a lot if not most of the participants seemed to see any and all regulations as tools of the devil incarnate … not me.”
Gee, 2008 comes to mind, even though Sarbanes-Oxley (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarbanes%E2%80%93Oxley_Act) was put in place after ENRON, Tyco, WorldCom and others circa 2002; but was ineffective as it apparently had no teeth and was widely ignored. Then the Commodities Futures Trading Commission was prevented by congress (permanently) from doing it’s job with Derivatives at the request of Greenspan and compatriots. So that unpleasant bit of 2008 history may also repeat itself, except probably worse.
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/warning/view/
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/warning/interviews/born.html
Always wondered why people don’t consider the “Then Who made God” question. The common answer that I always got is that one is NOT supposed to ask THAT question. One could say much like Stephen Hawkings “It’s turtles all the way down” that “It’s Gods all the way up”. Unfortunately, we are used to having a start and finish to things and can’t imagine anything else, so for us those questions of infinity are unanswerable.
http://www.quora.com/What-do-people-mean-when-they-say-its-turtles-all-the-way-down
Great educational article, as usual, Thanks.

Willis Eschenbach

RobRoy says:
May 25, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Willis, Thanks for all you do. I am more informed.
You, nor I, nor any creature of Earth, we did not randomly materialize from the ether. We are too ordered for that. I can’t say how the order arose from the chaos. But random happenstance, c’mon.
A million monkeys at a million typewriters will never, I say never write a novel, good or otherwise.

Well, in that case it’s a good thing that evolution doesn’t work by random chance. Because while a million monkeys will take a long, long time to write anything, a million malaria parasites can develop into a new parasite capable of laughing off quinine in a very short time.
The difference is that in one case there is evolutionary pressure to create a new type of malarial parasite … which is a task much, much harder than writing a novel.
My best to you,
w.
PS—You simply restate the watchmaker argument when you say we had a “creator” and didn’t “randomly materialize from the ether”, while simultaneously believing in a god that did not have the creator that you insist is necessary.

Excellent writeup for us non-attenders Willis!
I wouldn’t call myself social liberal/fiscal conservative. That is too far a base generalization that I’m more inclined to sneer at. I was an original tree hugger back in the sixties-seventies; but I never believed every tree is to be sacred. The woodworker-luthier in me loves the tree’s product far too much. Part of my career was a penny pinching meanest man in the business, also known as a budget manager who controlled the purse strings; but I tried not to be penny foolish when dollars were needed.
Every action requires thought and consideration before rushing in. I was and am ever an opponent of those who make decisions on ten seconds worth of information before deciding. After a long career, I only ever met a couple of people who were able to make good decisions based on minimal info; to their credit, both were quick to correct their decisions based on more comprehensive information. Nor can I support folks who refuse to budge from a fence when a decision is needed. To my mind fence sitters are worse than the rapid decision makers.
WUWT readers: Please consider that while Judy Curry did make some remarks about Heartland and the conference that ruffle many people wrong; give Judy a chance to understand that fact herself. Judy is far too smart to continue believing ‘Suzanne Goldenberg’ shrill lies and incorrect/improper assumptions for very long. Especially if Judy is accurately kept apprised of the real state of affairs. Only send information/commentary directly to Judy at her blog and privately if you can. Judy has joined with Anthony and others (including Willis) in confronting bad climate science. Putting both her career and her neck, so to speak at risk just like all the other serious honest climate scientists, which is why we at WUWT should not make personal sttacks on her. Criticizing, professionally, those areas of science where we disagree with Judy is one thing; getting personal about Judy mis-identifying the quality of an information source is another.
Not that I consider most of the comments made on Judy’s remarks as personal attacks; I just don’t think it is the type of situation that should be thrashed in the blogosphere. After all, would someone prefer that we stand up and announce to everyone in a restuarant that you have spinach/seaweed in your teeth, or your fly is open, or I can see through your dress… Or would it be better to just nudge you and suggest some private attention to personal matters…

Willis:
Kudos for attending the conference and being willing to go for your own reasons, not backing out due to some flap. Kudos also for not giving in to those who would make a fallacious “guilt by association” argument. Whom we associate with does perhaps tell something about us; but our willingness to associate with interesting and engaging people with whom we don’t share every opinion in common also tells something about us.
You might, however, need to spend a bit more time considering questions relating to the origin of life, complex biological features, design, philosophical arguments relating to first cause, and so on. Your facile ad-infinitum complexity response may have been sufficient to stump your dinner conversation companion, but is an issue that has been thought through by careful philosophers of science and philosophers of learning for centuries, many of whom have come to a very different conclusion than you.
Again, however, thanks for the personal and, as always, engaging report.

Willis Eschenbach

Stephen Richards says:
May 25, 2012 at 12:48 pm

I think that those of us who instinctively think that AGW is a load of c**p need to disprove said AGW by questioning the data and the motives of the scientists producing that data.
There is no theory to disprove.

I couldn’t disagree more, for two reasons. First, there is a theory on the AGW side. It’s very hard to falsify because they rarely make any kind of falsifiable statements, but there is a theory there which says that temperature is a linear function of forcing. Me, I don’t think that’s true, but that doesn’t mean there’s “no theory”.
Second, I try to leave the “motives of the scientists” as much out of the picture as I can. If a man is claiming that the “thoughts are full of indices and surds”, there is only one question worth asking—is his claim true or not?
w.
PS—The quote is from Lewis Carroll:

Yet what are all such gaieties to me.
Whose thoughts are full of indices and surds?
X squared plus seven X plus fifty-three
Equals eleven thirds …

Curry’s remarks about Heartland and its conference, given she apparently wasn’t there, weren’t her finest.

I still don’t think that Heartland was a worthy target for Gleick’s bullet, although his bullet seems more effective to me now than it did a few months ago. Curry May 24 Comments

And where were you Judith while the smoke was still in the air?

chemman

“Gail Combs says:
May 25, 2012 at 2:54 pm”
Don’t you mean constitutional convention not amendment. We’ve had some 15 amendments added without it resulting in a rewrite of the basic constitution.

Steve from Rockwood

Great post Willis. Reading this made me feel like I had attended the conference.

Willis Eschenbach

LazyTeenager says:
May 25, 2012 at 12:49 pm

The Conference is put on by the Heartland Institute, which has had real trouble getting any publicity this year.

———
Beats me, I thought Heartlands problem was too much publicity of the wrong kind.

It’s called “humor”, Lazy, sorry you didn’t get the joke.
———

I felt, for example, that their billboard showing the Unabomber was simultaneously true, meaningless, repulsive, and a very self-destructive, unpleasant, and foolish venture into guilt by association.

———-
Depends whether by true you mean the literal words or the message. The message was false, but if Heartland actually believes it, and many people here do, then the rest of the world should know the truth about what Heartland believes. In that sense Heartland was being honest.

The Unabomber was a big fan of Al Gore, mentioning him in his Manifesto. So the words were indeed true.
As to the message, that depends on what you think the message was … I described it as “a very self-destructive, unpleasant, and foolish venture into guilt by association”. However, given the level of the attacks on Heartland’s very existence, I can understand (although not approve of) their desire to fight back in that manner.
FInally, there is no “truth about what Heartland believes”. They are a bunch of people, each of whom believes different things, trying their best to fight a difficult fight in which their opponents are resorting to very underhanded, dirty, vicious, and threatening tactics … perhaps you might comment on the tactics used by your side before getting all moral and judgmental on Heartland’s errors. Unlike say Hansen, who continues to call for fire to rain down on folks like myself, Heartland removed the billboard the next day …
w.

Willis Eschenbach

David, UK says:
May 25, 2012 at 1:10 pm

I’m sorry to say so, and I know Willis is much respected here – but I’ve never seen so little said in so many words. I feel like I’ve aged 10 years.

Hey, keep right on reading in that case, there is hope—read ten more and you’ll be well over a hundred, and too old and weak to bother us with your empty whining …
w.
PS—I always have to laugh at folks who write in to say that they didn’t like what I wrote. Not that they have any specific objection, just that they didn’t like it.
Why on earth do you think the unsupported vague opinion of some random anonymous internet popup is of the slightest interest to others? If you think my writing says little, try reading your own …

JimGl

Love the blog, and thank you for all you’ve done for whats left of civilization :).
In regards to your comment on regulation, I was thinking, why not apply your intelligent design argument to your regulating belief. In order to regulate their must be a regulator and in turn the first order regulator must be regulated by a second order regulator (he can’t just regulate willy nilly) and so on and so on.
Don’t know exactly what it proves, but I think our present state here in the US with regulations like Dodd-Frank is an exemplary example (does that wording work?) of the need for higher order regulators.

Bruce Cobb

Donna Laframboise , who pulled out of the conference after the billboard ad was the ultimate in cattiness with her “reasons” why. I wonder if she’s had any regrets since then. I believe she has sullied her own image in doing so.

Willis Eschenbach

atheok says:
May 25, 2012 at 3:50 pm

WUWT readers: Please consider that while Judy Curry did make some remarks about Heartland and the conference that ruffle many people wrong; give Judy a chance to understand that fact herself. Judy is far too smart to continue believing ‘Suzanne Goldenberg’ shrill lies and incorrect/improper assumptions for very long. Especially if Judy is accurately kept apprised of the real state of affairs. Only send information/commentary directly to Judy at her blog and privately if you can. Judy has joined with Anthony and others (including Willis) in confronting bad climate science. Putting both her career and her neck, so to speak at risk just like all the other serious honest climate scientists, which is why we at WUWT should not make personal sttacks on her. Criticizing, professionally, those areas of science where we disagree with Judy is one thing; getting personal about Judy mis-identifying the quality of an information source is another.

atheok, I both agree and disagree with that. Judith is indeed a very smart person, and a writer of power. She has one of the few climate blogs that I am subscribed to.
I disagree with the idea that after Judith makes a very pointed and very public attack on Heartland and the attendees, that we should not make a public reply to that attack. That seems crazy to me, that you think she should be free to publicly attack people and that they should only reply in private.
As I said above, I respect Judith, and it is rare for her to make that kind of attack … but the fact that she is seen as a confronter of bad climate science makes it all the more important to confront her when she is using bad citations. I’d be much less concerned if James Hansen had said what she did, it would barely be worthy of comment. I’d expect him to not only believe Susanne Goldenberg, but to feed her false information.
But since it is Judith, and since her words have weight (and deservedly so), it is all the more important that people comment in public when she goes off the rails.
Indeed, this pernicious habit of only saying things privately (if at all) is one of the things which has led to the current crisis of trust in climate science and climate scientists. When I say or do something wrong, I expect people to call me on it in public—how else will the world know what’s going on? How will they know I’ve been found wrong? How will they know how I handled my error?
It is the lack of public discussion of climategate among climate scientists that is one of the reasons that they are so distrusted.
w.

Geoff Withnell

“Gary says:
May 25, 2012 at 12:15 pm
Thanks for a personal take on ICCC7, Willis. IMO, you’re spot on with your opinions here, although the logic of your watchmaker counter-argument has a false premise – that deepening complexity must continue up each level ad infinitum. One might suggest that although this seems to hold in the natural universe, there is no evidence for it in the super-natural (which by definition contains/causes/over-arches the natural) and thus might not be the case. Just sayin’.”
Where do we draw the line? Why can’t the watch be supernatural? All you are saying is that at some point, I’m going to say that THIS level of complexity is beyond my capability to understand, and therefore must be the primal cause.

Gail Combs

chemman says:
May 25, 2012 at 3:58 pm
“Gail Combs says:
May 25, 2012 at 2:54 pm”
Don’t you mean constitutional convention not amendment. We’ve had some 15 amendments added without it resulting in a rewrite of the basic constitution.
________________________________
GOOD, glad to hear it. I will check it out. Getting rid of unelected bureaucracies that make laws is something that we really need to do.
Yes you are correct and Hubby is WRONG. (Shows wives should never trust hubby /sarc)

…The Constitution provides that an amendment may be proposed either by the Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures….. http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/constitution/

Thanks for the correction.