Madrid 1995: Was this the Tipping Point in the Corruption of Climate Science?

Re-posted from BernieL at Enthusiasm, Scepticism & Science

John Haughton writes of it under the heading: Meetings that Changed the World. He may be right but not only in the way he thinks. Here we consider whether this meeting in Madrid was the moment when climate science gave way under the monumental pressure of politics.

Houghton's Account of IPCC Working Group 1 meeting in Madrid 1995 in Nature 9 Oct 2008

In 2008 John Houghton reminisced on the tense meeting ‘without which there would be no Kyoto Protocol’, and he ‘recalls how science won the day’—at least that’s how Nature called it (vol 455, 9/10/08)

When Ben Santer arrived in Madrid in the late autumn of 1995, did he know that this conference would change his life forever? Undoubtedly ambitious, a rising star in the climate modelling scene, he was doing well at age 40 to be leading the writing of a key chapter in the IPCC Second Assessment Report. In fact, the convener of this IPCC Working Group, John Houghton, had asked him to take it on quite late in the day, only after more established scientists had turned down the offer. Perhaps they had a hunch of what was about to unfold, for it would be Santer’s fate that great forces of history would bear down on the editor of his chapter at this conference. When he was through with it, when Houghton had accepted the final draft a few days later, climate science would be changed forever. After a long struggle, the levees of science gave way to the overwhelming forces of politics welling up around it, and soon it would be totally and irrevocably engulfed.

The story of Ben Santer’s late changes to Chapter 8 of the Working Group 1 Report is familiar to most sceptical accounts of the climate change controversy (e.g. here & here and a non-sceptical account). However, it is often overshadowed by other landmark events, and so it is usually not put up there in the same league with Hansen‘s sweaty congressional testimony of 1988, with the establishment of the IPCC nor with the Hockey Stick controversy. Yet, if one looks at the greater controversy in terms of its impact on science, then this conference in Madrid might just surpass them all.

This was the tipping point. This was climate science’s Battle of Hastings, when political exigencies – the enemies of science – broke through the lines and went on to overrun all its institutions. Before Hansen there had always been the rogue scientists hawking some kind of scary scenario to the press or politicians. Indeed, sometimes they listened, and sometime they got all het up about it. Yet the institutions of science held firm. Before the IPCC there had been other politicised scientific institutions – the USA EPA is the prime example (see discussion here). And as for the Hockey Stick, well, by then it was all over, with the Climategate emails confirming that a culture of science-as-advocacy was already endemic in the science informing the IPCC assessments. The travesties of the Third Assessment would be unimaginable without the transformation that had already occurred in the writing of the Second Assessment. Madrid was the tipping point, when everything began to change. Not that everyone noticed it at the time. That the general shift begun at Madrid is much easier to see now with so many years of hindsight.

For example, consider the shift in the opposition; how after the breakthrough in Madrid there was a gradual change of the guard on the sceptical front. After the Second Assessment, after Kyoto, most of the usual corporate opposition was in retreat. Many went over to the other side, at least in their marketing – with the sins of their past quickly forgiven and forgotten. Does anyone even remember the Global Climate Coalition? If you have heard of ‘Big Oil,’ well this was it out there in the sunshine with the thinnest veil of disguise. These guys were seen on the job in Madrid passing notes to the Saudi delegation before its every intervention. A week after the conference a Science journal news headline trumpeted their failure to swing the conference against just such a pronouncement: It’s official: the first glimmer of greenhouse warming seen [Dec 8, 1995 p. 1565]. Then the following Spring, with the imminent publication of the new Assessment, and with similar headlines now mainstream, the Global Climate Coalition fought back by sparking the controversy over the late changes to Chapter 8.

This was picked up by Frederick Seitz, a notorious Merchant of Doubt associated with the tobacco lobby. But his Wall Street Journal op-ed [12Jun96] seemed to present some pretty damming evidence of politicised tampering with the conclusions of science. It caused quite a stir in the science press, with the contrarian climatologist, Fred Singer, coming in hard behind Seitz. Even if it seemed that every other climate scientist jumped in behind Houghton and Santer, a new scepticism now emerged to fight not for policy outcomes but in defence of science. Indeed, the political forces against emissions control were still corporate, and still on the right, but this was a new and powerful dimension to the debate. And yet it seemed that the scientists advocating for climate change science didn’t even notice—some not until Climategate, others not to this day (eg, The Royal Society presidents discussed here). They are still fighting ‘Big Oil.’ Perhaps it was convenient, or tactical, to tar the new with this old brush. Perhaps, and yet, when Bjørn Lomborg (1998) and Steve McIntyre (2003) came on the scene, it does seem that many found it truly inconceivable that they might not be motivated in some way by short-sighted self-interest, or capitalist greed.

It was just as inconceivable for scientists advocating for climate change science that they might be, themselves, complicit in the perversion of science, where, as Richard Lindzen observed, the legitimate role of science as a powerful mode of inquiry is replaced by the pretence to a position of political authority [see here pdf]. When did this all begin? Was it a gradual thing, or was there some dramatic breakthrough at that meeting in Madrid scheduled to finalize the second scientific assessment of climate change?

That the corruption of climate science began in Madrid, this is a proposal I would like to explore in a couple of posts on this blog. To begin this discussion let us first recount the events leading up to this extraordinary meeting.

Climate Science Uncorrupted

Scientific agreement on detection, but not on attribution, at an international conference in 1961. By the mid-1970s the New Ice Age scare was in full swing. (New York Times, 30 Jan, 1961)

In many ways the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a rare beast. In some ways it is perhaps unique, especially in the way it forces international science to consent to an agreement with the full spectrum of inter-governmental political actors. We will get to that later. But there is one way in which the IPCC operates that is familiar and ordinary to long-established practices of national scientific academies (and even some international organisations). The IPCC follows such organisations in making scientific assessments and offering recommendations upon the request of governments. In order to get a flavour of this regular and ordinary function, let us consider this extended quote from the introduction to a report by the Australian Academy of Science:

Pronouncements about the climate from scientists in a number of different fields, and pressure on the world’s food supplies, have resulted in the production of reviews of two kinds. The first is the investigation by committees and conferences organized by natural scientists of the existence, nature and extent of the purported climatic changes (e.g. Inter-departmental Committee, 1974; World Meteorological Organization, 1975a; National Academy of Science, 1975, Australian Academy of Science/Australian Branch, Royal Meteorological Society, 1976). The second consists of a series of papers and conferences organized by social scientists, but with contributions from natural scientists, examining the political, social and economic consequences of such climatic changes, should these develop as predicted (e.g. Rockefeller Foundation, 1974; International Federation of Institutes of Advanced Study, 1974, 4975a, 1975b). Such a flurry of activity in the scientific world, rippling out to political and social scientists and so impinging on politicians, as at the World Food conference in November 1974, naturally provoked the publication of general scientific articles in journals like Science and Nature, and popular presentation and comment in magazines such as the New Scientist and Ecologist as well as the daily press. In the more popular accounts, notably those by T. Alexander (1974) and [Nigel] Calder (1974), the issues were inevitably over-simplified and extreme points of view given greater currency than was their due. It is in the stark simplistic terms of the popular scientific articles that the world’s press has interpreted the situation, with forebodings of an imminent return to the cold of the last glacial period.

Deep concern about climatic change amongst social scientists, politicians and the public is justified only if the underlying proposition that we are in the throes of a substantial climatic change is correct. However, even if the prediction of imminent adverse change proves unsubstantiated, or if a continuing trend of climatic change cannot be demonstrated, the concern generated by these views has been useful in emphasising the natural variability of climate, which should itself be a component in economic planning.

[AAS Report #21, Mar 1976]

In terms of the popular controversy and the government response, there are many similarities between the New Ice Age scare of the 1970s and the Global Warming scare – at least as the latter manifested up to 1995. In the New Ice Age scare we had:

  1. Scientists making the most alarming claims drawing the attention of the press and of some receptive social scientists
  2. Social scientists and others exploring the social implications of these alarming claims
  3. Concern developing among the public and politicians
  4. Governments anxious for a sober assessment of the risks turn to the various international organisations and national academies.

And there are lots of similarities in the scientific response.

As our Report of a Committee on Climatic Change explains above, governments commissioned scientific investigations in order to determine whether there were any scientific grounds for concern. And what were they told? In most cases the alarm was assessed on balance to be with little scientific foundation. In our quoted report for example, the Australian government was given a marvellously readable summary of the science showing how the climate is always changing, before being told that there is no reason to think that the climatic variations will be heading inexorably in one direction during the foreseeable future. The Report concludes that there is no evidence that the world is now on the brink of a major climatic change. And this is pretty much how public science helped to moderate the New Ice Age scare into a forgettable chapter of social history.

Now consider John Zillman’s insiders account [1997 pdf] of the impetus behind the formation of the IPCC:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) originated from proposals put forward during debate at the Tenth Congress of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in Geneva in May 1987. Several Directors of National Meteorological Services, especially from developing countries, called on WMO to establish a mechanism that would enable them to respond authoritatively to the increasingly frequent requirements to brief their Governments and national communities on the reality or otherwise of the threat of global warming as a result of increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. For the most part, Governments, at that stage, were reacting to sensationalised media coverage of predictions of future climate change promulgated by a number of individual scientists and climate modelling groups, as well as the then recently released report of the Brundtland Commission on “Our Common Future” (The World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987) which had dramatically lifted the profile of enhanced greenhouse warming as a threat to the future of the planet.

We have been there before. And sure enough, the IPCC’s First Assessment of the science of climate change (Working Group 1) had a sobering impact, concluding along much the same lines of the Australian Academy’s report on climatic change 14 years earlier. Sure, the climate models were more advanced and more respected in 1990. But whatsoever the models predict, the IPCC Report concluded there is yet no evidence in the real world data to warrant alarm.

Two years later another report was commissioned where the Working Groups was asked to update their assessment ‘in the light of new data and analysis.’ This was in anticipation of ‘the need in 1992 for the latest information on climate change, in the context of the ongoing negotiations on the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio de Janeiro, June 1992).’ In this Supplementary Report prepared especially for the Rio ‘Earth Summit,’ the conclusion was again much the same: Whatsoever the models predict, there is yet no evidence of the need for alarm, for the evidence is inconclusive that any detected changes might be anything more than nature variations.

Detection and Attribution

In 1988 James Hansen had told the US Congress that ‘there is only a 1% chance of an accidental warming of this magnitude.’ Under oath he proclaimed that ‘the greenhouse effect has been detected, and it is changing our climate now.’ Two years later, after sensational media coverage, the IPCC assessment’s implicit message was that such an assessment was at best premature, or at worst over-simplified and extreme. Another two years on, when they were asked to review their assessment for Rio, the scientific working group came to pretty much the same verdict. Of the detected ½ degree or so of warming over a century, all they could manage to say was that this amount of warming is

…broadly consistent with predictions of climate models, but it is also of the same magnitude as natural climate variability. Thus the observed increase could be largely due to this natural variability; alternatively this variability and other human factors could have offset a still larger human-induced greenhouse warming

And then the punch line:

…the unequivocal detection of the enhanced greenhouse effect from observations is not likely for a decade or more.

This seemed to be saying that we would have to wait for at least another 10 years of real world data before the science could be settled. And yet that year the Rio summit went ahead and delivered the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC). The politics was marching relentlessly ahead of the science. As Aynsley Kellow once put it to me, ‘by design, the IPCC was accorded a central place in the development of the Framework Convention on Climate Change, with the parties committing themselves to future action on the basis of future IPCC findings.’ But the content of these future IPCC findings was clearly anticipated by the political framework. Kellow continues:

While under Article 2 of FCCC, the Parties committed to no more than a vague undertaking to stabilise concentrations of Greenhouse Gases at a level which would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, they also committed to review their commitments at the First Conference of the Parties (COP-1) in Berlin in 1995 and regularly thereafter in the light of the best available scientific information. Having undertaken such a review they are legally bound (under Article 4.2(d)) to take appropriate action which may include the adoption of amendments to the commitments. The Berlin Mandate which led to the negotiation of the Kyoto Protocol was thus effectively decided by the IPCC rather than the COP.

The political framework, as the political rhetoric, was saying that the scientific assessment of the IPCC was driving the politics, but at this stage the inconclusive conclusions of Working Group 1 couldn’t be used to mandate anything. All they had was the model predictions, and with so many uncertainties tabled in the reports, these would surely not suffice.

The political pressure upon the IPCC was becoming all too apparent. It was coming from above—from the United Nations. It was coming from the science lobby, and it was coming from a global environmental lobby engorged with public funding (see discussion in a following post). They were all looking for a conclusive ‘detection’ of warming, and the ‘attribution’ of this warming to carbon emissions. And this pressure was only exacerbated by the divisions of labour accorded to the IPCC. While Working Group 1 was assigned to assess the science of climate change, there was also Working Group 2 assessing the impact of climate change, and Working Group 3 assessing how best to mitigate it. Clearly the work of these groups depended on the conclusions of Group 1. Yet for expedience in the midst of a perceived emergency, Groups 2 & 3 were set to work right away so as to support preparations for the change, and to support planning to mitigate the cause. But how could the impacts of warming be assessed when it had not even been detected? And how could mitigation advice be given, when the cause had not yet been attributed?

With the FCCC in place and COP-1 coming and going in Berlin, next was Kyoto, the event where a legally binding commitment would be on the table. Meanwhile, work was progressing on yet another assessment. Again, and more than ever, what the politics desperately need from the Second Assessment was for the IPCC to come to the party and announce that dangerous anthropogenic warming is happening…or at least …is unlikely not to be happening…perhaps…it is just beginning to be detected,…the first glimmer? As a conclusive result from Working Group 1 appeared more and more elusive, clutching at straws became the norm. And it all came down to what was said in Chapter 8.

Chapter 8 was critical because this is where research on the ‘detection’ and ‘attribution’ of climate change is assessed. This is where the science goes beyond the fancy of the models; where a warming is detected in the actual atmosphere that can be confidently attributed to an anthropogenic global effect.

Alas, by the early autumn of 1995 the signs were not good. Although a draft leaked in September managed to say that the warming is unlikely to be entirely due to natural causes, this was hardly in dispute, and this was not exactly announcing imminent catastrophe. Moreover, there remained extraordinary strong caveats, especially in Chapter 8, to every positive conclusion. The draft that was circulated to the participants at the Madrid conference, and formally approved by it, also stated in its introduction that results of recent studies point towards a human influence. This was the strongest statement yet, but the body of the document and the concluding summary were not so confident. Some of the boldest retractions were as follows:

  • Of studies of Changes in Global Mean Variables (8.4.1): ‘While none of these studies has specifically considered the attribution issue, they often draw some attribution conclusions, for which there is little justification.’
  • Of the greenhouse signal in studies of modelled and observed spatial and temporal patterns of change (8.4.2.1): ‘none of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed changes to the specific cause of increases in greenhouse gases.’
  • Of pattern studies ‘fingerprinting’ the global warming (see discussion in later post): While some of the pattern-base studies discussed have claimed detection of a significant climate change, no study to date has positively attributed all or part [of the climate change observed] to [anthropogenic ] causes. Nor has any study quantified the magnitude of a greenhouse gas effect or aerosol effect in the observed data—an issue of primary relevance to policy makers.
  • Of the overall level of uncertainty: Any claims of positive detection and attribution of significant climate change are likely to remain controversial until uncertainties in the total natural variability of the climate system are reduced.
  • Of the question: When will an anthropogenic effect on climate be identified? (8.6): It is not surprising that the best answer to this question is, `We do not know.’

    [A copy of the 9 Oct 1995 draft of Ch 8 has not been obtained. Unverified sources: here and here]

As the Global Climate Coalition pointed out when they broke the scandal, these statements were removed from the final draft of the Working Group 1 Assessment that Houghton presented for acceptance by the full meeting of the IPCC in Rome two weeks later. Moreover, these inconclusive conclusions were not inserted elsewhere, while more positive statements were substituted, strengthened or added. Nature’s first editorial response to the scandal was all about not disrupting the political message before the US election. Yet it conceded that the complaints about the changes to Chapter 8 ‘are not entirely groundless.’

IPCC officials claim that the sole reason for the revisions was to tidy up the text, and in particular to ensure that it conformed to a ‘policymakers’ summary’ of the full report that was tortuously agreed by government delegates at the Madrid meeting. But there is some evidence that the revision process did result in a subtle shift in the relative weight given to different types of arguments, and that – not surprisingly – this shift tended to favour arguments that aligned with the report’s broad conclusions. Conversely, some phrases that might have been (mis)interpreted as undermining these conclusions, particularly if, as IPCC officials feared, they were taken out of context, have disappeared. [13/6/96]

Climate debate must not overheat, Nature 13 June 1996

Nature’s editorial response to the Chapter 8 scandal appeared in the 13 June 1996 edition, the day after Seitz’s Wall Street Journal op-ed launched news of the changes beyond the scientific community. Nature; vol 381, # 6583, p.539

How these changes came about we will discuss in another post, but what I wish the reader to consider for the moment is the state of play when Ben Santer arrived for that conference in Madrid.

Late in the belated preparations of its 3rd report (the ‘Second Assessment’), now under the sole direction of John Houghton, the IPCC Working Group 1 was still saying that the science was inconclusive, uncertain and disputed. Moreover, despite enormous pressure, including his own personal interests and opinion, Ben Santer’s chapter continued to proclaim that the evidence for the detection and attribution of a catastrophic warming trend was in many ways uncertain and certainly inconclusive—hardly the bases for a legally binding global commitment to radical reform.

Climate science did not just roll over under the pressure of politics. Until the Madrid meeting, IPCC science had managed to keep on doing its thing mostly uncorrupted by the monumental political forces building up around it.

In this view, one is drawn to speculate that if only somehow the whole turnaround in and after Madrid had not happen, what then? What of Kyoto? What of all the rest? Would this episode in the history of the UN have become as forgettable after 1996 as the Ice Age Scare after 1976?

But it did happen. The Assessment delivered just enough of what was needed for Kyoto. In the realpolitik of the situation, it could hardly be otherwise. In another post I will explain why.

—BernieL

_________________________________________

Following posts will give a more detailed account of the Madrid conference and also of the political pressure imposed from many sides during the reviewing of the Second Assessment.

While the author considers this document (SAR WkGp 1), this time (1995-6) and this place (Madrid) of the highest significance to this controversy, nontheless he lacks many original documents required to study it. Any assistance in locating such documents would be appreciated.

Seeking the following Documents:

  1. Michaels, P. Forging Consensus: Climate Change and the United Nationals. 1996
  2. The IPCC: Institutionalized “Scientific Cleansing,” Global Climate Coalition, Global Climate Coalition memorandum, Donald Rheem, May 17, 1996.
  3. Doctoring the Documents? Energy Daily 24(98): 1-2 (ISSN 0364-527)
  4. IPCC Working Group 1 Second Assessment Report. Draft version (9 Oct 1995) circulated to the participants in the Madrid Plenary, Nov 1995.
  5. Any national Delegation Reports (I have Australia’s)

_____________________________________________

22AprilUPDATE: Follow the discussion on Bishop Hill

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Thank you for a superb summary!!!

Dodgy Geezer

I think that a study of this kind – documenting the way science (and, indeed, all human activity) can be suborned by activists with an agenda – is of great importance to future generations, and should be given as much support as possible.

Bruce of Newcastle

Its interesting that Ben Santer coauthored the recent Gleckler et al 2012 SST paper. He must understand that his own data shows too little warming to be consistent with the IPCC values for sensitivity. And that it is consistent with Lindzen’s value. I wonder what goes through his mind when analysing data like that.

Edohiguma

Very curious. I would like to note one screaming error: there is no such thing as “social scientists”. There are no “social sciences”. It’s a complete misnomer invented in the attempt to push things like cultural studies, psychology, history, etc, on the same level as physics or chemistry, and it’s utterly ridiculous. “Social science” is neither social nor science. It tends to be used by political interest groups to push their agenda. Most famous is the old adage of “Oh look, Christians are stupid, here’s the proof” and we get hit with a statistic usually based on extremely small groups or gathered with extremely questionable methods.
I’m a Japanologist, that means I have a degree in Japanese Studies, which these days falls under “social sciences”. But I’m not a scientist, in fact I find the notion of being a scientist completely laughable. I’m a scholar, and that’s something completely different. Sure, at times we use scientific methods, but those are massively limited in use and are more often than not replaced by statistics. And we all know (or should know) that science and statistics are not synonymous.
Discovery of a numerical discrepancy is not science. Accounting for that discrepancy in a reproducible manner is science, which is something “social sciences” always fail to do.
Other than that? Very curious, but not really surprising. Follow the money and power.

Very curious. I would like to note one screaming error: there is no such thing as “social scientists”. There are no “social sciences”. It’s a complete misnomer
I appreciate the intent of the site’s articles, but if this excerpt is any indication, they are all full of screaming errors. I didn’t get through the first three paragraphs before I had had enough.
Is this an example how the defense of reason is supposed to work?

Peter Miller

1995: The year climate science became ‘climate science’.
Any guesses on when, if ever, it will become climate science again?
Many thanks for this excellent, incisive and well written article.

Dodgy Geezer says:
I think that a study of this kind – documenting the way science (and, indeed, all human activity) can be suborned

People are suborned. When scientists are suborned, they no longer produce science.

Dr. John M. Ware

I’m with Edohiguma, who says it much better than I could do. I can only add that the scientific aura of such ‘disciplines’ as psychiatry, psychology, and chiropracty is a false veneer; as practiced by the Team and the IPCC, climate ‘science’ has been relegated to like status. The sad aspect of all this is that science, as properly applied, can contribute to all of these disciplines. There is such a thing as brain damage, even though ‘mental illness’ is still nebulous; and there are many measurable elements in the climate susceptible to scientific treatment (and receiving it from many reputable scientists). When politics or social issues get in the way, however, the true science is polluted or prostituted. Don’t get me started on ‘education’ as a science or a university discipline. . .

JohnnyinNQ

Couldn’t agree more :-))

John R. Walker

My guess is the decision to subvert climate science for the service of elitist politics was made in the mid 1980s and the first high profile manifestation was the Hadley Centre:
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate-change/resources/hadley

Thanks….for this post…really thinkable…and readable post……….

Brilliant post, many thanks. We now know who to blame.

mycroft

Santer needs to be reminded of this at every opportunity..who was he to change the working roup statement anyway?more ego than brains as usual!Seem to remember thousands of scientists who worked on it wanted their names withdrawn from it where are these same people today!!??

Astounding account. The result of those too full of themselves to notice.

Steve C

A very interesting summary – many thanks for reposting it and attracting attention. Thinking back over the last couple of decades, I’d be inclined to answer ‘yes’ to the question of whether that conference was the tipping point: it was certainly the late 90s before the boot really went down on the loud pedal and ‘the voice of the catastrophist was heard throughout the land’.
I also agree with the general tone of Edohiguma’s reflections on what constitutes science, from my own POV as a philosophy graduate. I took psychology as a subsid subject, mainly to try and understand how human psychology interacts with and understands hard science, and have been left ever since with the feeling that, whilst there are undoubtedly some general truths about ‘how humans work’ underlying it, great swathes of psychology, along with most of the ‘social sciences’, reflect a lot more about the culture in which the work is done, the assumptions of the experimenters, etc., than about the subjects’ actual psychology. As medical science has developed since I was a revolting student, I have come to think that these general truths will eventually be derived from the (proper) scientific study of results from our astonishingly improved scanning technologies, rather than from psychology.
It is inescapable, however, that many psychological ‘theories’ do, indeed, ‘work’ when applied back to the culture that engendered them, as can be appreciated by considering the effectiveness of the advertising practices which have so powerfully linked the topics of climate science and manmade catastrophe in the public consciousness. There’s no doubt that advertising works, nor that it is largely based on slipping things past our rational analysis. (If you doubt that, watch how advertisers will happily agree with any survey which claims that TV advertising ‘doesn’t have any effect on children’, yet will fight like cornered polecats when it is suggested that perhaps, therefore, their ‘pester-power’ advertising should not be shown during children’s TV hours.).
Here in the UK, there is a constant background media drone of ‘global warming’ … ‘manmade climate catastrophe’ … ‘climate disruption’ … across most media programmes and ‘news’ outlets, dripping ‘The Message’ into the public at an almost subliminal level – at least, until you become aware of it and start asking questions, as more of us are. They know what they’re doing. As Edohiguma says (along with many others!), follow the money and the power. That, not the Platonic ideal of dispassionate knowledge, is what’s at work here, and we need to know as much about the basic psychology and advertising practices they’re using as we do about real science if we are to fight them effectively. History lessons like this are a very good place to start.

Roger Carr

Many thanks for this piece, BernieL… it actually casts a net much wider than its subject; an added value and education.

Jimmy Haigh

berniel says:
September 6, 2012 at 3:20 am
‘It looks like this essay has been re-posted in error. WUWT re-blogged it on 22 April.
i thought I’d seen this before. Does no harm to tell the story again though.

Dodgy Geezer

@Centers for Disease Control
“…People are suborned. When scientists are suborned, they no longer produce science…”
Indeed. In fact, when people bow to what they perceive to be a greater will that they must obey (and humans, being social animals, do this every day in their social interactions) they fail to produce good science, good art, good administrative decisions, in fact, good anything.
That is why it is so important to track and document the progress by which so many minds become adulterated, so that this human failing can be guarded against.
Charles McKay did a very good initial job in his 1840 book “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds”. That should be standard reading in schools, and it should be regularly updated…..

Kurt in Switzerland

@Dodgy Geezer:
That’d be Charles MacKay (a Scotsman).
Kurt in Switzerland

pat

Bangkok 2012: Union of Concerned Scientists:
15 Sept: Bangkok Climate Talks Show Big Challenges Still Unresolved
Climate negotiators wrapped up a week of talks today in which they attempted to narrow differences between the world’s largest polluters ahead of a major climate summit in Doha, Qatar at the end of the year…
Below is a statement by UCS Director of Strategy and Policy Alden Meyer:
“The current drought in much of the United States, flooding in large parts of Southeast Asia, and unprecedented reductions in the extent of Arctic sea ice all remind us that climate change is getting worse.
“But this stark reality has yet to generate a commensurate sense of urgency in global climate negotiations. What the world needs from political leaders is more ambitious action to limit the heat-trapping emissions that cause climate change. Not more finger-pointing designed to evade responsibility for confronting the climate threat.
“While some progress was made in Bangkok, big differences must be resolved in the next few months if countries are going to keep their promises to effectively deal with climate change. Countries should work to ensure that the Doha climate summit delivers real progress, and restores momentum to our collective efforts to limit climate change.
“This isn’t Las Vegas. What happens in Doha won’t stay in Doha – a failure to act would negatively affect people, economies and ecosystems all over the world.”
http://www.ucsusa.org/news/commentary/bangkok-climate-talks-challenges-unresolved-0386.html
does kenji approve that statement, anthony?

pat

no wonder there’s so little MSM coverage of this farce:
3 Sept: AllAfrica: Frederick Asiamah: Ghana: Future of Climate Finance At Centre of Bangkok Meeting
Governments began meeting in Bangkok, Thailand on Thursday to prepare decisions that they will take at the next UN climate change conference in Doha, Qatar…
Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, adds that: “All sides need a clearer understanding on how to get to 100 billion USD a year by 2020 with no gaps.”
Ironically, a five-page notification to Parties and observer States to the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol circulated in June said the sessions were being organised as informal because of financial constraints.
Ms Figueres said in the notification that “Due to the…financial constraints, work during the additional session will be of an informal nature, hence there will be no formal plenary meetings, no interpretation or webcast services and no official documents during these sessions.”…
http://allafrica.com/stories/201209031112.html

richardscourtney

John R. Walker:
At September 6, 2012 at 2:00 am you say

My guess is the decision to subvert climate science for the service of elitist politics was made in the mid 1980s and the first high profile manifestation was the Hadley Centre:
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate-change/resources/hadley

Actually, that “decision” was made by Margaret Thatcher in late 1979 for purely personal political objectives (i.e. personal political credibility) and she later established the Hadley Centre as a method to support her decision: see
http://www.john-daly.com/history.htm
The IPCC was established to support the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (IPCC) and – as the above article claims – the complete suborning of the IPCC was achieved with Santer’s infamous Chapter 8.
About a decade ago Fred Singer organised a side meeting at a IPCC Conference. Fred, Gerd Rainer-Webber and I were speakers at that meeting, but the room was almost empty about half an hour before its scheduled start. So, I set off around the Conference and encouraged mostly Greenpeace representatives to attend. The meeting room was packed when I returned.
Most in the room were Greenpeace members (some in unusual garb) with representatives of ‘mainstream’ science standing around the walls. Fred was concerned that those present could indicate the meeting would not go well, but I said I was very happy with the ‘full house’.
Fred and Gerd made excellent presentations and I then provided mine which concerned disagreement between temperature data sets. The audience was silent throughout all the presentations.
When I finished Fred invited questions and we answered several technical ones. Then a person standing among the Hadley Centre scientists said,
“That is all very well, but the IPCC Reports are approved line-by-line as being the best presentation of the science.”
The room erupted in applause with stamping and hammering the tables by the Greepeace representatives.
I stood to answer the point. One applauding young lady was sat near me and I looked her directly in the eyes. She returned my stare and continued to applaud until after all other clapping had ceased. I then audibly asked her,
“Why did you applaud?”
and she replied,
“He made a good point.”
I turned to the audience and said,
“No. He did not make a good point. He made a factually inaccurate statement.”
Turning to the provider of the ‘good point’ I asked,
“Sir, if what you say is true, then how do you explain the infamous Chapter 8?”
and he replied,
“Do you mean Chapter 8 from Working Group 1 in the Second Assessment Report?”
I said,
“Yes, indeed I do.”
The questioner looked shocked and said in offended tone,
“I thought we were here to debate the science and not to make debating points.”
I looked at the audience and said in a more offended tone,
“He made a factually inaccurate statement. I cited an example which shows he made a factually inaccurate statement. That is not a debating point.”
And I sat down.
The room went into silence.
After some time Fred asked if there were more questions. There were none so he closed the meeting.
For some considerable time immediately after the meeting, Fred, Gerd and I had friendly discussions with Greenpeace representatives who wanted to know what more we could tell them.
So, I am certain that more and wider publicity about ‘Chapter 8’ is needed.
Richard

richardscourtney

Aaargh!
I wrote
The IPCC was established to support the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (IPCC)
Of course I intended to write
The IPCC was established to support the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC)
Sorry.
Richard

John Slayton

Reviews are good. Questions remain. Did you ever come up with the documents you were searching for? Were the follow-up posts ever published?

The lack of any convincing, conclusive proof in the “Attribution” portion of the IPCC Reports has always left me scratching my head (when reading the various iterations of the “Summary for Policymakers”). IPCC reports are exhaustive, but the actual hard science of attribution is rather full of hand-waving, sweeping and unfounded statements.
It is particularly instructive to read the observations of scientists from the 1970s on the prospect of “imminent global cooling” and the underlying “wish” to find an anthropogenic cause for the same.
This is powerful stuff; should be required reading for anyone remotely interested in the subject of “science & politics”. Has Santer himself commented on the [apparently well-founded] allegations that he [singlehandedly and without scientific basis] modified the key sections of text in the respective report?
Revkin at NYT did a post on the interface of Science & Politics. http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/04/obama-and-romney-weigh-in-on-science-questions/
Kurt in Switzerland

R Barker

Interesting analysis.
“In this view, one is drawn to speculate that if only somehow the whole turnaround in and after Madrid had not happen, what then? What of Kyoto? What of all the rest? Would this episode in the history of the UN have become as forgettable after 1996 as the Ice Age Scare after 1976?”
The notable difference between the ice age scare and the global warming scare is that there was no one to blame for the impending ice age and no political remedy.
In contrast, the global warming scare can be readily blamed on human activity if the “science” is customized to fit the assumptions.
Further, global warming mitigationt is an excellent vehicle for many political agendas including big US government proponents, world government proponents, environmental extremists, and an array of opportunists who profit at the public expense.

I just found Santer’s rebuttal from the Summer of 1996 (through one of the links above):
http://www.ucar.edu/communications/quarterly/summer96/insert.html
The most telling part (IMHO) is that “IPCC Procedures” apparently give cover for such behavior (i.e., [the intentional enhancement of model credibility and/or the downplaying of uncertainties], “… in response to comments made by governments and non-governmental organizations during plenary sessions…”), hardly a credible excuse for someone supposedly committed to searching for scientific truth!
If anyone out there still thinks that the IPCC is a scientific (as opposed to a political) organization, they need to read this important historical summary by Bernie Lewin.
Kurt in Switzerland

David Ross

Good job BernieL.
You can find the Doctoring The Documents? article here.
http://web.archive.org/web/20060928122808/http://www.sepp.org/Archive/controv/ipcccont/Item04.htm
Just in case it disappears from the Wayback machine I’ll paste it here. But I have not included two replies to Wamsted at the same link.

Energy Daily Article
with response letters from Ben Santer and S. Fred Singer
Energy Daily, Wednesday May 22
Doctoring The Documents?
by Dennis Wamsted
Revisions to key report understate climate change uncertainties. The key document outlining the scientific backing for global climate change has been rewritten without proper authority, according to the Global Climate Coalition, a group of U.S. businesses opposing immediate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The changes were made in Chapter 8 of the Second Assessment Report on climate change being prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). That report is scheduled for publication soon. Copies of the draft chapter, approved by participating governments, including the United States, at the IPCC’s plenary meeting in Rome last December, and the final copy of the chapter, Detection of Climate Change and Attribution of Causes, were given to The Energy Daily by the coalition.
In an accompanying analysis, the coalition argues that the changes “cause the chapter to understate the uncertainties about climate change causes and effects that were clearly evident in the original report and to increase the apparent scientific support for attribution of changes in climate to human activities.”
For example, on the question of when it will be possible to link human activities conclusively to climate change, the approved draft reads:
“Finally, we come to the most difficult question of all: `When will the detection and unambiguous attribution of human-induced climate change occur?’ In the light of the very large signal and noise uncertainties discussed in this chapter, it is not surprising that the best answer to this question is, `We do not know.’ ”
That stark admission has been deleted from the revised chapters which soft-pedals the uncertainties. “Finally, we come to the difficult question of when the detection and attribution of human-induced climate change is likely to occur. The answer to this question must be subjective, particularly in the light of the large signal and noise uncertainties discussed in this chapter.”
Perhaps most damning, the summary of the draft has been revised significantly. For starters, it no longer appears at the end of the chapter, but at the beginning. But it is not just the placement that has been changed; the content also has been modified substantially. In the initial summary, the authors wrote that while changes in global-mean, annually averaged temperatures observed during the past century are unlikely to be due entirely to natural causes, “this explanation cannot be ruled out completely.”
The draft summary also pointed out that attributing changes in global temperature to emissions from human activities remains problematic.
“A major difficulty with such studies is in associating cause and effect with a high degree of confidence.”
“Attribution of an observed climate change to a particular mechanism can be established only by testing competing hypotheses. Thus, unique attribution of a `significant’ observed change requires specifying the signals of all likely alternative explanations, and statistical determination that none of these mechanisms is a satisfactory explanation for the observed change. This is a difficult task, and one that detection studies to date have not addressed in a rigorous statistical way.”
The draft then noted that “Pattern-based detection studies are probably of greater relevance for the attribution issue than studies of global-mean change…. Detection of a significant change…in a pattern-based study would give some scientists more confidence in the attribution of observed changes to a specific cause or causes, even without rigorous statistical testing of alternative explanations.”
However, the draft continued, “While some of the pattern-based studies discussed here have claimed detection of a significant climate change, no study to date has positively attributed all or part of that change to anthropogenic causes. Nor has any study quantified the magnitude of a greenhouse-gas effect or aerosol effect in the observed data – an issue that is of primary relevance to policymakers.”
The revised chapter reads much differently, with the summary concluding:
“Viewed as a whole, these results indicate that the observed trend in global mean temperature over the past 100 years is unlikely to be entirely natural in origin. More importantly, there is evidence of an emerging pattern of climate response to forcing by greenhouse gases and sulphate aerosols in the observed climate record. This evidence comes from the geographical, seasonal and vertical patterns of temperature change. Taken together, these result points towards a human influence on global climate.”
The only remaining uncertainty, the revised chapter contends, is the magnitude of the change. These revisions have the energy community hopping mad, with the climate coalition arguing in a lengthy memo that the credibility of the entire IPCC process – crucial to any future policy directives – is at stake.
“The IPCC now is faced with an embarrassing situation,” the coalition wrote. “On at least the issue that has received more media and public attention than any other, its published report on the science of potential global climate change defies both the letter and the spirit of the IPCC’s rules governing its reports.”
“Unless the management of the IPCC promptly undertakes to republish the printed versions of the underlying…report…the IPCC’s credibility will have been lost.”

kim

Truth landed a punch in the dark alleys of Ben Santer’s mind. And it’s a Beauty.
=================

I’ve recently done a course on archaeology. This same intellectual change from “evidence” to “opinion” is also very obvious in the changer from processualism to post-processualism.
However, one of the huge drivers of this change was NASA.
1. NASA created a new perspective of the world … looking in to one earth, rather than each country on its own.
2. NASA created the technology for global environmental research particularly remote sensing.
3. NASA needed to have a reason for its huge budget and one of those was to “study other worlds” … and what is the easiest thing to study … the atmosphere. So, the political impetus to obtain funding meant NASA raised the profile of atmospheric research
4. NASA discovered that public alarm about the environment was a very effective tool to secure funding.
5. NASA had direct connections to Hollywood, it had a huge PR budget, it needed to justify its own existence by maximising the kudos of the environmental “investigation” (not science – no testing of hypothesis) that it was doing. So, I think NASA was instrumental in promoting the idea that “science” could also be applied to non-science subjects including environmental research – particularly the climate.
And then it kind of makes sense why Hansen is at NASA. It’s not that NASA tolerate his antics. More than likely they actively encourage him to “make the most” of the scare.
Obviously it won’t be that simple. NASA alone could not have subverted science unless “science” wanted to be subverted. So, we need to also look at the way science & perhaps all academia has been run since WII, which seems to have created a very “Guardian” (extreme hi-brow-socialist) attitude to the world.
And … in total contravention to the above, there has been the problem recently of “too much commercialism”. In the UK, researchers are apparently so desperate for the next research grant that they will jump onto any bandwagon which has funding on the label. This is in sharp contradiction to old style tenured academics who could sit in their ivory tower pontificating about the lack of evidence for global warming without a care what any Guardian reading grant body thought. What this implies, is science is now very controlled by the small number of people who get on the grant bodies and also those who run journals as academics now “compete” on number of papers. The result is a system which is very easy for a few zealots to control, and extremely poor at supporting opposing viewpoints.
And, that comes back to the way science is now much more opinion based. When it was based on evidence, it really did not matter what the grant body thought, because the key was whether researchers could deliver the evidence. But now it is so much “opinion”, …. it’s all subjective, and therefore very highly influenced by what opinion the grant giving body wants to hear.

adolfogiurfa

It seems it was an attempt based on such a “social science”, really “social science fiction”. See:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Asimov
It can be traced back to Aldous Huxley´s “Brave New World”. It is a wishful thinking of some who desire the control of the world, a “Global Governance”. Such an illusion it is only possible if the majority of the earth´s population become “Gammas”, servants or slaves of the new world order.

P Wilson

I would think that Margaret Thatcher who set up the Hadley Centre was one of th efirst culprits of scientific corruption. It is no surprise she supported the dogma of Anthropogenic Global warming, for at the time she was at war with coal miners here in the UK, and Oil barons abroad

Phil

Changes continued. The bar for significance was apparently lowered between the Third Assessment Report (TAR) and the fourth report (AR4). The significance of lowering the bar for significance is that it raised the alpha or Type-I error, in this case doubling it. When the Type-I error is increased, the probability of false positives is also increased. In climate science this would manifest itself as finding that there is a statistically significant link between warming and anthropogenic activities, when, in truth, there is no such definitive link.
The lowering of the bar for significance was documented in the following comment (which I repeat here for convenience):
(Posted Jul 29, 2010 at 6:09 PM)

Re: Judith Curry (Jul 29 10:06),
In the second paragraph of her point 4, Dr. Curry states:

This is the only instance of a retraction in confidence from the IPCC

.
In the AR4 Summary for Policymakers final draft (SPM_SOR_TSU_FINAL), on page 11, lines 23 through 34 state:

Proxy climate data and paleoclimate models have been used to increase confidence in understanding past and present influences on climate. [6.6,9.3]
A large fraction of Northern Hemisphere interdacadal variability in temperature reconstructions for the seven centuries before the mid-20th century is very likely attributable to natural external forcing, particularly to known volcanic eruptions, causing episodic cooling, and long term variations in solar irradiance. [6.6,9.3]

In Government Comments on the Final Draft of the SPM, for WG1 of AR4, the Government of Germany stated the following (I believe) in reference to the above excerpt:

Clarify to what extent the stated upper bounds are simply lower because a smaller sigma uncertainty range is provided. TAR gave 2 sigma uncertainty ranges, whereas AR4 states only 1.65 sigma uncertainty ranges (5%-95%) (see Chapter 10, page 65, line 23). Without clarification, the reader is mislead in believing that only better scientific understanding caused smaller uncertainties, while in fact a large part is due to different terminology.
[Govt. of Germany (Reviewer’s comment ID #: 2011-35)]

I submit this not to nitpick Dr. Curry, but, if this is accurate, to show that appeals to the authority of the IPCC may be undermined by this apparent relaxation of standards.

ferdberple

The former Soviet Union should serve as stark reminder of what happens when belief replaces reality in decision making. We are seeing this played out now in the west, where the EU and USA are drowning in a sea of debt.
When you force the company you work for to shut down and move to another country because they are polluting the air in your country, you should not be surprised to wake up and find you have no job.
In the case of CO2 the pollution returns but the jobs don’t. A reality not lost on the leadership of China.

P Wilson

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100043433/margaret-thatcher-climate-sceptic/
“…. Most uncharacteristically, Margaret Thatcher had allowed her judgement to be clouded by one of her advisers, in this case the career diplomat and early-adopter of AGW – Sir Crispin Tickell – who in turn would have got his “facts” straight from the likes of Hansen.
A string of disasters followed. It was at Margaret Thatcher’s personal instigation that the UK Met Office set up its Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, which – in one of her final acts as Prime Minister – she opened in 1990. The Hadley Centre, in turn, was appointed by the newly founded IPCC to provide ‘its primary data set to assess observed global warming.’ Under the leadership of committed Warmist Sir John Houghton, Hadley was also responsible for selecting the lead authors for the IPCC’s scientific working group (Working Group 1) – authors who, in need hardly be said, could be relied on to push the IPCC’s reports in the ‘correct’ alarmist direction.”

Jeff Alberts

As medical science has developed since I was a revolting student

Oh come now, I’m sure you weren’t that bad looking. 😉

I have regularly reminded people of Santer’s actions. Here was the last.
http://drtimball.com/2011/early-signs-of-cruipcc-corruption-and-cover-up/

What a great synopsis! Very good writing, clear and concise. I’m looking foward to the next.
As usual, a good read leads to other thoughts, such that, it strikes me ….
In this century, our socio-political excesses have a sophistication but perhaps not much else that previous acts of community self-destruction have had. Without going into a list, one has only to think of the Bonfire of the Vanities and Savaronala, in which the pious were convinced to burn their worthy goods to expatiate their sins before coming before God. This they did twice before, being convinced by their more clear-headed betters, they put Savaronala to the torch instead. As a species we are prone to depressed self-absorption, reflecting more deeply on our failures than our successes. It has been postulated that this goes further back than mere organized society, all the way back to when we moved from being prey on the savannah to being the feared predator: our guilt was that of the sinless witnessing his own descent into sin. That – the original sin of the Garden of Eden, we suppose – may be a stretch, but the habit we have of finding reason within ourselves, not just our community, for reproach is well established.
The eco-green philosophy is built on Man as Defamer. The IPCC was created in a milleu that had already defined victims and perpetrators, now called the “biosphere” and “Big Oil” (we are all part of Big Oil by our use of SUVs, air conditioners and incandescent lightbulbs). The use of the IPCC, not really the transformation, into the “bonfire” of Savaronala, makes sense if you see the Suzukis, Strongs, Erhlichs and such as the fulminating monks of our time. Gore, Pauchari, the WWF and Greenpeace are the organizers who find others to bring kindling to the public square. The matches come from the crowd, the devout Mom and her angst-ridden teenage son who understand that their unstinting efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle are insufficient for a pass-go on Judgement Day.
It is worrisome that widespread literacy, the understanding of psychology and easy access to historical records have not reduced our group weaknesses as they have our individual ones. We have become our own prey at a global level.
Generally accelerating processes end in a crisis which precipitates a full stop. The story of Global Warming and the IPCC-supported scare suggests that the cycle, not the event, is where our problem lies. We act out the bi-polar catastrophic rise and fall at whatever level we can, and right now it is at a planetary scale.
Global warming alarmism will pass. But what we need to address is this addiction to crises of not just our behaviour, which can be moderated if we so wish, but crises of faith, that we are damaged goods in perpetual need of being taken apart and rebuilding. If, as in business we are told, we focus on behaviour, not personality, we can move forward in better harmony with nature, but if we see through the eyes constructed from debris of IPCC-style structures, we’ll always be looking at misdeeds and for the hairshirts we need for our redemption.
As our mothers might say, we need to “get out of ourselves” and get on with life before we will find the happiness we want.

DesertYote

The institutions of science had been infiltrated by Marxist well before 1995. Doing so had been one of their stated goals. E.g. I tried to peruse a degree in Wildlife Biology, but was driven away by the insistent Marxist non-sense that was being crammed down my throat, and that was in 1983! Having aspergers, I found the situation intolerable. There is a reason why almost all wildlife biologists are moonbats.

I would counter by saying the start was the creation of the IPCC. It was created to prove a theory that was wrong at all costs – thus it was just a matter of time to find the right people, or create the right climate, for the immoral of the community to provide the IPCC with the data it needed. If that wasn’t the purpose of the IPCC there would never have been a 3rd report to begin with.

Thanks, Bernie.
Excellent history like yours will tell the way it happened and future people will wonder at the media-driven stupidity of it!

Jeff B.

So Ben Santer is the Anakin Skywalker of Climate Science. Does that mean there is still hope that he will come to his senses and restore science as the ultimate arbiter?

Doug Proctor: “Global warming alarmism will pass”
It provably has already passed. Press interest has been on a steady decline for years (2005 I think was the peak). What we are actually doing now is trying to clear up the mess from misinformed politicians who have created a monster called “renewable energy” that demands to be fed.
The best analogy would be to like the public to a kid wanting a puppy for Xmas. That puppy is now a huge st. Bernard and the kid has grown fed up as it is no longer cute and now wants a Ybox for Xmas.
Now we are the idiots who have not only to pay for that monster, but end up taking them for walks and sooner or later we will be the ones the kids blame for “disposing” of their …. let’s just say:
A dog is for life not Xmas … likewise the “kids” (in congress/westminster/holyrood) got fed up when they discovered that renewable energy was no where near as cute as they thought.

There’s a reason spell check accepts “aren’t I” and not “ain’t I” (“I are not” versus “I am not”): the more didactic a science becomes the more amateurish, pedantic and dogmatic it grows. Good science is smothered in a chorus of militant ignorance. The most foolish quite often win. –AGF

Thank you Anthony, for that slip of the keyboard. I, as a newcomer to this blog, had not read that piece–yet is is very important and puts things in a clear perspective for me.
I love richardscourtney’s experience at his meeting–very adept, I wish I had been there. I was a Russian NGO representative at the UN for ages…
@ Centers for Disease Control who wrote:
Very curious. I would like to note one screaming error: there is no such thing
as “social scientists”. There are no “social sciences”. It’s a complete misnomer
I appreciate the intent of the site’s articles, but if this excerpt is any indication,
they are all full of screaming errors. I didn’t get through the first three paragraphs
before I had had enough.
Is this an example how the defense of reason is supposed to work?
This is so unclear–first you cite a comment, then talk about the “site’s articles”. What are you talking about? It sounds like you are saying that this site has articles full of “screaming errors.” And do you mean defense of “reason” or defense of science? If you are impunging this site’s articles, I beg to differ–if you are trying to say somethng else, then I can not figure it out. Could you write more clearly please? All of the opinions and information from commentors is very important to me and I want to understand the points, from all sides. Thank you.

thelastdemocrat

DesetYote is correct. The marxists have recognized that higher education is a very powerful way to gradually affect the thinking of people, and what is acceptable in society.
When I was an undergrad, in the same era as Desertyote’s anecdote, I did not know why my Intro to Sociology prof was going on and on about the “multinational corporations.” And “Beatrice Foods.” She would note how we think we buy a box of rice from Uncle Ben (or whomever) – but lo and behold, it is actually from a multinational corporation. Which somehow indicated some great evil.
Are corporations bad? Well, they can behave badly, as can any group. I believe evreything has to be ‘manages,’ ‘regulated,’ ‘checked,’ or ‘governed’ somehow. This is one reason why I do not want a one-world govt, but believe that multiple soverienties forced to live on the same planet may be the most robust political arrangement for our mutual survival and chance at some level of humaneness on this planet.
Is Beatrice Foods necessarily bad because it conducts its business behind 200 brand names?
I just did not get it.
But she was indoctrinated to believe in “the evil corporation” and believe that “the evil coproration” is redundant.
Evidence? Proof? Test of a well-specified hypothesis with a priori defined tests? No. Not necessary.
This does not mean there is no “science” of sociology.
The “soft sciences” can be science, if done scientifically.
Hypotheses can be generated, a priori tests of tese can be spun, and measures can be developed to make observations. Hypotheses can stand, fall, or be modified as these tests of them bear on them.
Science has a belief in the law of effect. If events have causes, then we humans have half a chance of figuring out some of those causes, defining them, testing our theories about causal mechanisms, and so use the scientific process to build “knowledge.”
To say that sociology” is not a science is ridiculous. Done properly, we have discovered “bystander apathy,” cognitive dissonance,” and so on, and these have been experimentally manipulated with results fitting hypotheses.
Abu Graib tragedy was basically a real-world confirmation that Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment was illuminating predictable human processes. Handing people power without well-designed checks on thatpower will eventually lead to trouble, even from fine, upstanding humans such as military men and women, who are generally very pro-social.
Law of effect. Was Abu Graib a random event, or can it be explained as a sociological phenomenon?
The latter, if you adhere to science.
Science is a cultural phenomenon, and this is well-explained by Kuhn, Feyerabend, and others. “Science” is a human invention, unless you are a theist and believe “science” was given to us (the first chapter of Daniel may be the first recorded controlled trial, while Elijah’s test between Yahweh and Ball may be the first documented comparison trial, so it is possible God tried to give us the idea of the trial, but we were really slow to pick up on it).
Science gets conducted in culture.
As time goes by, we need to teach fellow scientifically minded people how to recognize when the social dimension has compromised the essential aspects of science.
Apparently, there are many “hard scientist” readers of this blog that do not believe social sciences can actually be science. I disagree, and I hope this is food for thought.
I believe we live in an orderly universe, with cause and affect, and that thisd applies at the more complex, molar levels of psychology, sociology, and anthropology, as well as the increasingly simple, relatively more easily investigated molecular levels of biology and physics.

Bruce of Newcastle says:
September 6, 2012 at 12:45 am
I wonder what goes through his mind when analysing data like that.

Was going to make a snide comment having something to do with the approximate mass and diameter of high velocity particles, but self-snipped.

thelastdemocrat

https://www2.bc.edu/~weiler/sixtiesdocuments.htm
Port Huron Statement, noting the role of students and universities in advancing the socialist goals of the Students for a Democratic Society.
Earlier draft, more bold and obviously socialist/communist, here…
http://www.sds-1960s.org/PortHuronStatement-draft.htm
—someone figured out they had to downplay the socialism stuff when they went to develop the final draft. In the last 4 years, it has become more normal for socialists to identify as such.

Andrew W

I’m pleased, though surprised you linked the post to the Wiki page “The Hockey Stick controversy” given that it refutes claims that the “hockey Stick” shape for NH temperatures over the last thousand years isn’t correct.