A view of science worth reflecting upon

After watching the movie “The Challenger Disaster” on the Discovery channel tonight, I thought it would be good for WUWT readers to read Feynman’s famous address. At the end, there is a quote from Feynman, which appeared at the end of his Challenger appendix report. – Anthony

Cargo Cult Science

[photo]

Richard Feynman

From a Caltech commencement address given in 1974. Also in Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!

During the Middle Ages there were all kinds of crazy ideas, such as that a piece of of rhinoceros horn would increase potency. Then a method was discovered for separating the ideas–which was to try one to see if it worked, and if it didn’t work, to eliminate it. This method became organized, of course, into science. And it developed very well, so that we are now in the scientific age. It is such a scientific age, in fact, that we have difficulty in understanding how witch doctors could ever have existed, when nothing that they proposed ever really worked–or very little of it did.

But even today I meet lots of people who sooner or later get me into a conversation about UFO’s, or astrology, or some form of mysticism, expanded consciousness, new types of awareness, ESP, and so forth. And I’ve concluded that it’s not a scientific world.

Most people believe so many wonderful things that I decided to investigate why they did. And what has been referred to as my curiosity for investigation has landed me in a difficulty where I found so much junk that I’m overwhelmed. First I started out by investigating various ideas of mysticism and mystic experiences. I went into isolation tanks and got many hours of hallucinations, so I know something about that. Then I went to Esalen, which is a hotbed of this kind of thought (it’s a wonderful place; you should go visit there). Then I became overwhelmed. I didn’t realize how MUCH there was.

At Esalen there are some large baths fed by hot springs situated on a ledge about thirty feet above the ocean. One of my most pleasurable experiences has been to sit in one of those baths and watch the waves crashing onto the rocky slope below, to gaze into the clear blue sky above, and to study a beautiful nude as she quietly appears and settles into the bath with me.

One time I sat down in a bath where there was a beatiful girl sitting with a guy who didn’t seem to know her. Right away I began thinking, “Gee! How am I gonna get started talking to this beautiful nude woman?”

I’m trying to figure out what to say, when the guy says to her, “I’m, uh, studying massage. Could I practice on you?” “Sure,” she says. They get out of the bath and she lies down on a massage table nearby. I think to myself, “What a nifty line! I can never think of anything like that!” He starts to rub her big toe. “I think I feel it,” he says. “I feel a kind of dent–is that the pituitary?” I blurt out, “You’re a helluva long way from the pituitary, man!” They looked at me, horrified–I had blown my cover–and said, “It’s reflexology!” I quickly closed my eyes and appeared to be meditating.

That’s just an example of the kind of things that overwhelm me. I also looked into extrasensory perception, and PSI phenomena, and the latest craze there was Uri Geller, a man who is supposed to be able to bend keys by rubbing them with his finger. So I went to his hotel room, on his invitation, to see a demonstration of both mindreading and bending keys. He didn’t do any mindreading that succeeded; nobody can read my mind, I guess. And my boy held a key and Geller rubbed it, and nothing happened. Then he told us it works better under water, and so you can picture all of us standing in the bathroom with the water turned on and the key under it, and him rubbing the key with his finger. Nothing happened. So I was unable to investigate that phenomenon.

But then I began to think, what else is there that we believe? (And I thought then about the witch doctors, and how easy it would have been to check on them by noticing that nothing really worked.) So I found things that even more people believe, such as that we have some knowledge of how to educate. There are big schools of reading methods and mathematics methods, and so forth, but if you notice, you’ll see the reading scores keep going down–or hardly going up–in spite of the fact that we continually use these same people to improve the methods. There’s a witch doctor remedy that doesn’t work. It ought to be looked into; how do they know that their method should work? Another example is how to treat criminals. We obviously have made no progress–lots of theory, but no progress–in decreasing the amount of crime by the method that we use to handle criminals.

Yet these things are said to be scientific. We study them. And I think ordinary people with commonsense ideas are intimidated by this pseudoscience. A teacher who has some good idea of how to teach her children to read is forced by the school system to do it some other way–or is even fooled by the school system into thinking that her method is not necessarily a good one. Or a parent of bad boys, after disciplining them in one way or another, feels guilty for the rest of her life because she didn’t do “the right thing,” according to the experts.

So we really ought to look into theories that don’t work, and science that isn’t science.

I think the educational and psychological studies I mentioned are examples of what I would like to call cargo cult science. In the South Seas there is a cargo cult of people. During the war they saw airplanes with lots of good materials, and they want the same thing to happen now. So they’ve arranged to make things like runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head to headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas–he’s the controller–and they wait for the airplanes to land. They’re doing everything right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the way it looked before. But it doesn’t work. No airplanes land. So I call these things cargo cult science, because they follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but they’re missing something essential, because the planes don’t land.

Now it behooves me, of course, to tell you what they’re missing. But it would be just about as difficult to explain to the South Sea islanders how they have to arrange things so that they get some wealth in their system. It is not something simple like telling them how to improve the shapes of the earphones. But there is one feature I notice that is generally missing in cargo cult science. That is the idea that we all hope you have learned in studying science in school–we never say explicitly what this is, but just hope that you catch on by all the examples of scientific investigation. It is interesting, therefore, to bring it out now and speak of it explicitly. It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty–a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid–not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked–to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.

Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can–if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong–to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem. When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.

In summary, the idea is to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgement in one particular direction or another.

The easiest way to explain this idea is to contrast it, for example, with advertising. Last night I heard that Wesson oil doesn’t soak through food. Well, that’s true. It’s not dishonest; but the thing I’m talking about is not just a matter of not being dishonest; it’s a matter of scientific integrity, which is another level. The fact that should be added to that advertising statement is that no oils soak through food, if operated at a certain temperature. If operated at another temperature, they all will–including Wesson oil. So it’s the implication which has been conveyed, not the fact, which is true, and the difference is what we have to deal with.

We’ve learned from experience that the truth will come out. Other experimenters will repeat your experiment and find out whether you were wrong or right. Nature’s phenomena will agree or they’ll disagree with your theory. And, although you may gain some temporary fame and excitement, you will not gain a good reputation as a scientist if you haven’t tried to be very careful in this kind of work. And it’s this type of integrity, this kind of care not to fool yourself, that is missing to a large extent in much of the research in cargo cult science.

A great deal of their difficulty is, of course, the difficulty of the subject and the inapplicability of the scientific method to the subject. Nevertheless, it should be remarked that this is not the only difficulty. That’s why the planes don’t land–but they don’t land.

We have learned a lot from experience about how to handle some of the ways we fool ourselves. One example: Millikan measured the charge on an electron by an experiment with falling oil drops, and got an answer which we now know not to be quite right. It’s a little bit off because he had the incorrect value for the viscosity of air. It’s interesting to look at the history of measurements of the charge of an electron, after Millikan. If you plot them as a function of time, you find that one is a little bit bigger than Millikan’s, and the next one’s a little bit bigger than that, and the next one’s a little bit bigger than that, until finally they settle down to a number which is higher.

Why didn’t they discover the new number was higher right away? It’s a thing that scientists are ashamed of–this history–because it’s apparent that people did things like this: When they got a number that was too high above Millikan’s, they thought something must be wrong–and they would look for and find a reason why something might be wrong. When they got a number close to Millikan’s value they didn’t look so hard. And so they eliminated the numbers that were too far off, and did other things like that. We’ve learned those tricks nowadays, and now we don’t have that kind of a disease.

But this long history of learning how to not fool ourselves–of having utter scientific integrity–is, I’m sorry to say, something that we haven’t specifically included in any particular course that I know of. We just hope you’ve caught on by osmosis

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself–and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that. After you’ve not fooled yourself, it’s easy not to fool other scientists. You just have to be honest in a conventional way after that.

I would like to add something that’s not essential to the science, but something I kind of believe, which is that you should not fool the layman when you’re talking as a scientist. I am not trying to tell you what to do about cheating on your wife, or fooling your girlfriend, or something like that, when you’re not trying to be a scientist, but just trying to be an ordinary human being. We’ll leave those problems up to you and your rabbi. I’m talking about a specific, extra type of integrity that is not lying, but bending over backwards to show how you’re maybe wrong, that you ought to have when acting as a scientist. And this is our responsibility as scientists, certainly to other scientists, and I think to laymen.

For example, I was a little surprised when I was talking to a friend who was going to go on the radio. He does work on cosmology and astronomy, and he wondered how he would explain what the applications of his work were. “Well,” I said, “there aren’t any.” He said, “Yes, but then we won’t get support for more research of this kind.” I think that’s kind of dishonest. If you’re representing yourself as a scientist, then you should explain to the layman what you’re doing– and if they don’t support you under those circumstances, then that’s their decision.

One example of the principle is this: If you’ve made up your mind to test a theory, or you want to explain some idea, you should always decide to publish it whichever way it comes out. If we only publish results of a certain kind, we can make the argument look good. We must publish BOTH kinds of results.

I say that’s also important in giving certain types of government advice. Supposing a senator asked you for advice about whether drilling a hole should be done in his state; and you decide it would be better in some other state. If you don’t publish such a result, it seems to me you’re not giving scientific advice. You’re being used. If your answer happens to come out in the direction the government or the politicians like, they can use it as an argument in their favor; if it comes out the other way, they don’t publish at all. That’s not giving scientific advice.

Other kinds of errors are more characteristic of poor science. When I was at Cornell, I often talked to the people in the psychology department. One of the students told me she wanted to do an experiment that went something like this–it had been found by others that under certain circumstances, X, rats did something, A. She was curious as to whether, if she changed the circumstances to Y, they would still do A. So her proposal was to do the experiment under circumstances Y and see if they still did A.

I explained to her that it was necessary first to repeat in her laboratory the experiment of the other person–to do it under condition X to see if she could also get result A, and then change to Y and see if A changed. Then she would know the the real difference was the thing she thought she had under control.

She was very delighted with this new idea, and went to her professor. And his reply was, no, you cannot do that, because the experiment has already been done and you would be wasting time. This was in about 1947 or so, and it seems to have been the general policy then to not try to repeat psychological experiments, but only to change the conditions and see what happened.

Nowadays, there’s a certain danger of the same thing happening, even in the famous field of physics. I was shocked to hear of an experiment being done at the big accelerator at the National Accelerator Laboratory, where a person used deuterium. In order to compare his heavy hydrogen results to what might happen with light hydrogen, he had to use data from someone else’s experiment on light hydrogen, which was done on different apparatus. When asked why, he said it was because he couldn’t get time on the program (because there’s so little time and it’s such expensive apparatus) to do the experiment with light hydrogen on this apparatus because there wouldn’t be any new result. And so the men in charge of programs at NAL are so anxious for new results, in order to get more money to keep the thing going for public relations purposes, they are destroying–possibly–the value of the experiments themselves, which is the whole purpose of the thing. It is often hard for the experimenters there to complete their work as their scientific integrity demands.

All experiments in psychology are not of this type, however. For example, there have been many experiments running rats through all kinds of mazes, and so on–with little clear result. But in 1937 a man named Young did a very interesting one. He had a long corridor with doors all along one side where the rats came in, and doors along the other side where the food was. He wanted to see if he could train the rats to go in at the third door down from wherever he started them off. No. The rats went immediately to the door where the food had been the time before.

The question was, how did the rats know, because the corridor was so beautifully built and so uniform, that this was the same door as before? Obviously there was something about the door that was different from the other doors. So he painted the doors very carefully, arranging the textures on the faces of the doors exactly the same. Still the rats could tell. Then he thought maybe the rats were smelling the food, so he used chemicals to change the smell after each run. Still the rats could tell. Then he realized the rats might be able to tell by seeing the lights and the arrangement in the laboratory like any commonsense person. So he covered the corridor, and still the rats could tell.

He finally found that they could tell by the way the floor sounded when they ran over it. And he could only fix that by putting his corridor in sand. So he covered one after another of all possible clues and finally was able to fool the rats so that they had to learn to go in the third door. If he relaxed any of his conditions, the rats could tell.

Now, from a scientific standpoint, that is an A-number-one experiment. That is the experiment that makes rat-running experiments sensible, because it uncovers that clues that the rat is really using– not what you think it’s using. And that is the experiment that tells exactly what conditions you have to use in order to be careful and control everything in an experiment with rat-running.

I looked up the subsequent history of this research. The next experiment, and the one after that, never referred to Mr. Young. They never used any of his criteria of putting the corridor on sand, or being very careful. They just went right on running the rats in the same old way, and paid no attention to the great discoveries of Mr. Young, and his papers are not referred to, because he didn’t discover anything about the rats. In fact, he discovered all the things you have to do to discover something about rats. But not paying attention to experiments like that is a characteristic example of cargo cult science.

Another example is the ESP experiments of Mr. Rhine, and other people. As various people have made criticisms–and they themselves have made criticisms of their own experiements–they improve the techniques so that the effects are smaller, and smaller, and smaller until they gradually disappear. All the para-psychologists are looking for some experiment that can be repeated–that you can do again and get the same effect–statistically, even. They run a million rats–no, it’s people this time–they do a lot of things are get a certain statistical effect. Next time they try it they don’t get it any more. And now you find a man saying that is is an irrelevant demand to expect a repeatable experiment. This is science?

This man also speaks about a new institution, in a talk in which he was resigning as Director of the Institute of Parapsychology. And, in telling people what to do next, he says that one of things they have to do is be sure the only train students who have shown their ability to get PSI results to an acceptable extent–not to waste their time on those ambitious and interested students who get only chance results. It is very dangerous to have such a policy in teaching–to teach students only how to get certain results, rather than how to do an experiment with scientific integrity.

So I have just one wish for you–the good luck to be somewhere where you are free to maintain the kind of integrity I have described, and where you do not feel forced by a need to maintain your position in the organization, or financial support, or so on, to lose your integrity. May you have that freedom.

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For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.

– Feynmans closing words, Appendix F – Personal Observations on Reliability of Shuttle

==============================================================

I have to wonder, with what we observe today about how government funded science operates, what would Dr. Feynman say about it?

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167 thoughts on “A view of science worth reflecting upon

  1. Feynman would probably not get hired in todays academia, thanks for posting this.
    Surely you’re Joking is one of the best reads out there.

  2. Count the number of ways the CAGW crowd violates these principles.

    I think the principles outlined by Feynman are like a “motto”, for lack of a better term, here at WUWT. Scientific thinkers trying to honestly examine a scientific issue.

    On the other hand , the CAGW crowd are political thinkers dishonestly examining a scientific issue.

    In the end, “nature cannot be fooled”

  3. This should be blazoned on the walls at every place of education , and every politician should be forced to be able to quote it verbatim before they can hold any high office.

  4. utter honesty” — It’s that simple and that difficult.

    Since the great Dr. Feynman was Jewish, and since today is the Sabbath, some relevant quotes from ancient Jewish writings are, I believe, apropos.

    All a person’s ways seem innocent to him or her
    but motives are weighed by the Lord.

    Proverbs 16:2

    The heart is deceitful above all things
    and beyond cure.
    Who can understand it?

    Jeremiah 17:9

    Take heart, O weary Science Giants of WUWT, the climastrologists had their day, but truth is rapidly passing them by…

    Truthful lips endure forever,
    but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.

    Proverbs 12:19

    Truth in science WILL win.

    Remember, as the most famous Jew who ever lived said:

    “… With people, this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.'”
    Matthew 19:26.
    (See also Genesis 18:14a “‘Is anything too hard for the Lord?'”)

    Shalom, dear WUWT friends,

    Janice

  5. Sadly,
    Feynman was also not internally consistent with his own philosophy as he was with other people’s methods. He created a process called renormalization which is required to allow quantum mechanics to agree with experiment. However, he himself called it ‘hocus pocus’ or a ‘dippy process’ and admitted it was not mathematically valid. Renormalization basically allows you to take an infinite answer and trim it heuristically (this is called hand waving) into a finite answer that agrees with experiment. It is not a mathematically or scientifically valid process, but it allows the infinitely wrong answers of QM to agree with experiment. Feynman also was extremely fond of sleight of hand tricks and fooling and manipulating people whenever he could… which does not bode well for those who take him too literally. In his more lucid moments he did recognize fraudulent methodology (he didn’t think much of string theory since it didn’t actually predict anything) “I don’t like that they’re not calculating anything,” he said. “I don’t like that they don’t check their ideas. I don’t like that for anything that disagrees with an experiment, they cook up an explanation—a fix-up to say, ‘Well, it still might be true.'” …hmmm…. he was referring to String Theory in the quote, but it applies remarkably well to ‘Global Warming’ hysteria too.

  6. I feel moved to post this from a Daily Telegraph article by Sean Thomas….

    Laugh?…..I nearly passed a brick…

    ———————————————————————————————–

    “First, I asked Stephen Belcher, the head of the Met Office Hadley Centre, whether the recent extended winter was related to global warming. Shaking his famous “ghost stick”, and fingering his trademark necklace of sharks’ teeth and mammoth bones, the loin-clothed Belcher blew smoke into a conch, and replied, “Here come de heap big warmy. Bigtime warmy warmy. Is big big hot. Plenty big warm burny hot. Hot! Hot hot! But now not hot. Not hot now. De hot come go, come go. Now Is Coldy Coldy. Is ice. Hot den cold. Frreeeezy ice til hot again. Den de rain. It faaaalllll. Make pasty.” –Sean Thomas, The Daily Telegraph, 19 June 2013”

  7. Also science education. Because the Establishment view on the causes of climate change is not scientific, there has been ideological pressure to deny good scientific education to children through experiment-based learning of the scientific method. If they learnt what good science was, they’d be able to identify bad science – like AGW.

  8. And we do know how to teach reading:

    http://www.theguardian.com/education/teacher-blog/2013/apr/01/phonics-teaching-resources-schools

    Phonics. I was taught how to read at age 4 by my mother using that method. The trouble is that the method was not “trendy” so after at least several hundred years of use it fell out of favor. Evidently it is coming back.

    It was funny. I was given a “Dick and Jane” reader on my first day of First Grade – with my mother watching. I finished the whole book (the First years work) in less than one hour (might have been 1/2 hour). I was excused from reading class.

    This guy, John Taylor Gatto, helped bring back phonics.

    http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/chapters/3p.htm

  9. “(Senator Howard) Baker: ‘Did you ever have any qualms about what you were doing? … did you ever think of saying, “I do not thing this is quite right.” … Did you ever think of that?’

    (Herbert L.) Porter: ‘Yes, I did.’

    Baker: ‘What did you do about it?’

    Porter: ‘I did not do anything.’

    Baker: ‘Why didn’t you?’

    Porter: ‘In all honesty, probably because of the fear of the group pressure that would ensue, of not being a team player.’

    (c. 1973, from The Mind of Watergate by Leo Rangell, M. D., quoted in C. Swindoll’s The Finishing Touch, pp. 396, 97, (1994))

    *********************
    It takes a lot of courage and strength of character to stand alone.

    God bless you, Murry Salby and Dr. Carter and Dr. Soon and many others, for standing up and saying, “Something is wrong, here.” You, and not “the team,” are the winners.

  10. Anthony have to disagree with you on one of your comments. You state “Another example is how to treat criminals. We obviously have made no progress–lots of theory, but no progress–in decreasing the amount of crime by the method that we use to handle criminals.” This statement is simply not true. In most cases crime is at its lowest point in decades.

    Take the murder rate, it’s lower today than in 1964, almost 40 years ago (per capita basis). Violent crime today is lower than in 1971 (per capita basis). Property crime is lower today than in 1968, lowest point in over 40 years (per capita basis). Many think a crime like vehicle theft is out of control, yet according to the FBI it’s at its lowest point (per capita basis) since 1963. Burglary is at its lowest point (per capita basis) since 1965.

    Of course with the 24/7 news cycle crime is always a lead news story, the news mantra is still true today, if it bleeds it leads. Perhaps this is why most people believe crime is at an all time high However the simple fact is according to the FBI, crime is at its lowest point in decades.

    http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm
    Source: FBI, Uniform Crime Report

    REPLY:
    I made no such statement, you are conflating it with Feynman’s comment – Anthony Watts

  11. Well, I guess the test of astrology is to examine the lives of those of > 35 yrs old who have never been exposed to its contentions and see if a professional astrologer, who has never met the person nor read about their life or otherwise know anything about them, can use their time and date of birth (and place) to predict the outcome of their life.

    I”ve studied what astrology is all about (which is a very different thing to believing in it) and, as an April Fool joke, did an astrological analysis of a UK Nobel Prize winner. Only they can say what truth is in it, but it wasn’t a ‘double blind’ as I knew quite a bit about the person in question, having worked in the organisation they headed up.

    But I did suggest a very specific population-based scientific experiment in that skit to see if any specific astrological predictions might be true.

    I have no idea whether anyone bothered to follow up on that, but I can assure you that it is possible to frame specific, testable scientific hypotheses based on the astrological creed and, if you have the time, money or inclination, you might be able to test them out.

  12. As to ESP. It works. I used to be a Tarot Card reader (for amusement – no cash exchanged hands). What you do is go through the usual rigamarole (shuffling and laying out the cards) and then start talking about the cards (you should study the standard meanings so you have something to begin talking about). If you are paying attention to the non-verbal signals of the “mark” you can find out what is bothering them and give advice. More than once (frequently in fact) I was told how good I was by those I read for. And they all thought it was ESP. I only told a few people what I was doing. After a while the game bored me and I gave it up.

  13. @M Simon

    It was funny. I was given a “Dick and Jane” reader on my first day of First Grade – with my mother watching. I finished the whole book (the First years work) in less than one hour (might have been 1/2 hour). I was excused from reading class.
    +++++++++++

    My brother learned to ready using phonics at the age of 2 and was reading at a Gr5 level by the age of 5 when they decided he should go to school. They put him in Gr2 to start and he put his reading talent to work reading to the other students the explanatory and lesson notes for the teacher written in fine print at the bottom of each assignment page. This of course had the effect of letting the students know what the teacher was going to do and ask of them.

    There is surely the practical equivalent of phonics for teaching science. In the same way that teaching someone to read does not teach them to think, teaching someone how to create experiments does not mean they know how to perform a rational analysis of the results.

    Climate science, perhaps better called ‘climate studies’, is long on rationalization and short on rational analysis. It should not be necessary at all for us to repeat such basic lessons from Feynman as cautionary tales.

  14. “…It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty–a kind of leaning over backwards.”

    Utter honesty. Which explains why so many liberal scientists espouse CAGW–they’re completely incapable of utter honesty. Liberal means free, and the first things they free themselves from are honesty, truth, scientific method, and logic.

  15. We often forget that people use emotional cues as powerful evidence. irrational beliefs are often linked with ideas of people having hidden potential or powers and help our self esteem.We are also motivated to believe that our actions can influence things outside of our control which might threaten us. Religion has been defined as “mans attempt to communicate with the weather”. Likewise in rejecting evidence emotion plays its part, if the sources are perceived as dishonest, manipulative or behaving in a belittling way, the message is rejected. The behaviour of people involved in promoting belief in global warming has in fact been associated with eroding support from when initially it was very high.

  16. Massage:

    If your internal noise is quieted (silenced) you can “feel” the places where the muscles are locked up and go right to them and work out the pain/locked energy. There are schools for this. I never went to one. I’m told (by the very few I practice on) that I’m very good at it. My Dad was also a “natch”. People still remember him for that (especially my Mother) and he has been dead for 12 years.

    I had a masseuse once who could go right to those spots on me. And then she would move off them. Frustrating. But she needed the money so I paid her until she moved away.

  17. Luboš has a comment on this at
    http://motls.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-challenger-disaster-feynman-on-tv.html

    We were only shown 31 seconds but my preliminary feeling is that it might be enough to say a rather unexpected thing – that what this actor is missing to really resemble Richard Feynman is playfulness, some charisma (visually, in the behavior, gestures, as well as voice), and showmanship.

    William Hurt? Really? Somebody cast a stiff stereotype scientist, not Feynman.
    Stanley Tucci could have done it.

  18. what would Dr. Feynman say about it?

    Thank you for posing the question
    … and NOT putting words in a person’s mouth
    — who is no longer here to object. (I hate that!)

  19. M Simon

    I analysed the ‘astrological chart’ for NYC at various times in the morning of 9/11 (I did the analysis a few days after, lest you wonder!) and posted them on an astrological blog.

    I was being referred to soon as a ‘professional astrologer’.

    Nothing professional about me. But I did the analyses and it was possible to assign meanings which might be relevant to the situation at hand.

    Once again I was analysing retrospectively, not making future predictions.

    Just because you were ‘cheating’ doesn’t prove rightness or wrongness.

    It just proves that you are cynical!!

    Perhaps you might like to consider the foetal and early-life experiences of humans in places where either temperature, water access and/or food scarcity vary considerably during the annual calendar?? It’s the only practical and logical basis to consider that there might be something physiological to astrology. Beyond that, you’d have to be invoking gravitational forces affecting the development of the human brain.

    It’s not impossible, just rather far-fetched for the current scientific mindset.

  20. Note: I was taught PSSC Physics in high school in ’61 and ’62. I was good at it and so was “allowed” to take two years of Physics and 4 1/2 years of Math (including Calculus and Solid Geometry in the same semester – two semesters were in a year.

    I went to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omaha_Central_High_School

    My Physics Teacher was Roy Bush – he taught PSSC Physics and Physics to Pilots in WW2. And My Math teacher (Calculus and Solid Geometry) was Virginia “something”. She won awards I learned later.

    I knew http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saul_A._Kripke

    My Junior Year I took Chemistry with Gayle Sayers’ brother Roger. He sat next to me in Chemistry Class. Football that year was a LOT of fun to watch. The football coach was also my English teacher.

  21. rtj1211 says:
    Perhaps you might like to consider the foetal and early-life experiences of humans

    Interesting you should mention that. I remember (did I?) being in my mothers womb and thinking “What a comfortable place but I have to get out. I have things to do”. I was born about 6 weeks premature. About the limit of what the technology of the time (October 1944) could handle. I can still remember the felling and that thought. Who knows if there is any validity there. Still. It is a good story. Oh. Yeah. I grew up to be 186.69 cm tall (yeah I’m into numerology some. It amuses me.)

    BTW I don’t think my methods of Tarot and Astrology were “cheating” I think that is how it is done by all good practitioners. But that method is why “scientific” analysis of Tarot and Astrology comes up a cropper. They aren’t measuring what is actually done.

  22. BTW I may have dates/events from that time a little crossed up. It has been a long time (over 50 years) and the time line gets hazy. The memories I have recounted are solid( as they can be given the passage of years).

  23. M Simon

    Your immaturity is really sad. No-one is suggesting that individuals are personally aware, the suggestion is that external effects could affect subsequent attitudes/behavioural responses. If you knew about science, you would realise that. No-one is saying that it is true, one is saying that it is a significant possible raison d’etre why such beliefs might have come into existence.

    The whole point of this article is that sneering, deriding and otherwise being a bully doesn’t affect scientific truth or not. You can sneer and deride all you will, but it does not answer the questions.

    Now grow up.

  24. rtj1211 says:
    November 17, 2013 at 1:00 am

    All I can do is recount my experiences and what I think about them. Make of them what you will.

    As to “sneering” you should look in a mirror my friend.

  25. rtj1211 says:
    November 17, 2013 at 1:00 am

    As to the Occult “Sciences” – I was once a member of this organization: http://occultchicago.blogspot.com/2012/05/sabaean-religious-order.html and well respected by Ordun.
    It was located here: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-jpMwicAieMo/T8gFOZeGABI/AAAAAAAAAzw/iWDLDxgxEhc/s320/IMG_3222.jpg

    I was no dabbler. I have also been deep into Aleister Crowley. In my other life I’m an Aerospace Engineer. I bring a rather odd perspective to everything I do. Glad you like it. I do have that effect on people. Some love. Some hate. No one ever forgets.

  26. rtj1211 says:
    November 17, 2013 at 1:00 am

    Some time I will have to tell you of my time with a motorcycle gang. Also known as the Diggers. Willis E. knew those people from his contact with their ranch which we referred to as Olema. He did a post about that here. You can look it up. I knew the Actor Peter Coyote quite well. He was a Digger at the time and also into motorcycles. A rough crowd back then. And seriously into leftist enviornmentalism. They were pioneers into regionalism.

    I dropped all that leftist crap a long time ago. But I do get the mind set.

  27. I am a retired scientist. Most of my family are sales people. They usually line up all the arguments in favor of what they want to do. I often say, “but what are the counter arguments.” They look at me with a little pitying smile (after all, the guy is getting old you know) and go on piling up arguments in favor of their plans.

    I conclude from this totally nonscientific experiment that there are people born to be scientists and others born to be in sales. God love them all. But can we please get the sales people the heck out of science?

  28. An excellent article Anthony. As for what Richard Feynman might have said about Climate Science. There’s no way to tell of course, but we do know what he thought of “Nuclear Winter” theology as it stood in the 1980s — a subject that IMO somewhat resembles modern climate science. Feynman’s take “I don’t think these people know what they are talking about.”

    In fairness to modern nuclear Winter theorists, I expect they have learned a great deal about the behavior of particulates from their confident, but incorrect, predictions of the results of the 1991 Kuwaiti oil well fires in 1991 and the observed results of the Mt Pinatubo eruption in the same year. Their theories today may well be better found. Hard to tell what Feynman would think today. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_winter

  29. The sad thing is that we work on a system of you must not question what you are told. Anyone who questions anything the majority have accepted with blind faith are labelled STUPID.
    I have always been given the stupid label by teachers except one who told me I was either stupid or a genius. He didn’t tell me which one he thought I was though.

  30. Jones quoting Sean Thomas at 10 40 pm.

    You are right, it is one of the funniest pieces I’ve read on global warming / climate change. Always worth reiterating.

  31. In 2003 I read an JPL-NASA press release in which Feynman’s sister Dr. Joan Feynman ( well known astrophysics scientist in her own right) spoke of the solar magnetic ‘memory’. At the time, I had just formulated something that looked like a mathematical approximation of the sunspot cycle. I found enough courage and emailed my results.
    She was very helpful, first she spoke of the importance of physical mechanism but not having one worked out it shouldn’t be a barrier to any further work, advised to refine details and get it published, and finally advised that the future progression (starting with the next sunspot cycle) should be a decisive element. The mechanism is still an unknown, the rest has been successively accomplished.
    Alas, if she was more critical in a negative, rather than the positive sense, it is very likely that the wuwt’s readers may have not suffered at all from my frequent intrusions.

  32. “I have to wonder, with what we observe today about how government funded science operates, what would Dr. Feynman say about it?”

    You quote Feynman at length, and then put such a turd on it? Do you want to say that people do not do “stupid” things, as long as the source of funding is “private”? Is your working hypothesis that government funding is the main problem in (climate) science today? Is that what you take away from that text by Feynman? Have you tried to understand it? Have you even read it? Sorry for blurting out, but you’re a helluva long way from understanding the problems in (climate) science, man!

    I do not have a overarching theory of everything wrong in climate science (and I agree that the government does play some role in the mess we see), but personally, I think “alarmism” combined with a few “science divas” does a way better job of explaining the mess we are in than “its the evil government”. If you still think that getting rid of public funding is the solution, then I have some really cool investment for you – just send me money, and tell me if you want tulips, sub-prime housing credits, cars that run on water or cold fusion reactors.

  33. I have a great admiration for Feynman but must point out it was easy for him to be 100% honest and display something close to 100% integrity:
    1. He worked in physics, a “firm” subject if ever there was one, “fuzzy” only on the border of the unknown.
    2. He was a very clever (both as researcher and lecturer) professor at prestigeus university and could allow himself to be 100% honest with no fear of consequences for job or prestige.

    Compare that to someone working in pedagogy: Very strong and highly political waves of fashion at different phase at different institutions, a very “fussy” field on many borders and with many interactions. You must interact with politicians for your funding, with the eductation system for implementation and with collegues for your research, teaching and publication. If by the design of your experiments or by the reported results or by your discussions you challenge the ortodoxy you are “out”: You will not get published (bad research, wrong), no tenure (quarrelsome, bad student feedback), no funding (subject already fully investigated). Unless you are lucky enough to find institutions that agree with you are out. Yet a generation later all in the field scratch their hair and wonder how their predesessors could be so wrong all the while they repeat the folly.

    I work in physics and technology and must admit I have failed Feynmans tests myself to pass project gatways or get next project. If you are in Pedagogy or another highly politicised field like say Climate Science not only are you expected to come up with good results but the recruitment and career processes also produce a strong confirmation bias to the ever prevailing “truth”.
    It’s not easy to remember Feynman then, not to say abide by him.

  34. There are more people alive today who believe that rhino horn increases potency than there were in the Middle Ages.

  35. While we are at it: The tendency of people believing in BS, and of people trading in BS, buying and selling BS, does a helluva better job than “it’s the evil government”.

    And BTW, here is the deal with believing in BS, that many people don’t appreciate: The bullshitter does not know that he is a bullshitter. (cf. Harry G. Frankfurt “On Bullshit). The bullshitter is not consciously lying – after all, he believes it. That is the problem with people like Mann and Jones and Lewandowsky and all the other activists. They don’t lie, they simply believe in BS, and they are good at selling BS.

    (On a related note: I would go so far that “it’s the evil government, that is the root of all our problems” is a prime example for the BS being believed by people – YMMV.)

  36. You are going off the deep end there Tony Mach. The government is no the problem per se but the government throwing truckloads of cash at scientists. It is the same with pharma – they throw truck loads (albeit smaller) of cash and expect results and I believe there has been a fib or 2 in that area also.

  37. The idea of Feynmann at Esalen is a hoot. And the people at Esalen have been quite involved over the years in pushing feelings and beliefs instead of knowledge as the focus of schools. The individual Axemaker Mind is deemed not to be a good way to get to Riane Eisler’s Caring Economics.

    I think Feynmann would come around to recognizing that the bad ideas in education are not an accident. Urie Bronfenbrenner, a psychologist whose Ecological Systems Theory is a metaphor created for political purposes now being taught under the Common Core Science and Social Studies standards to students as if it represented factual reality was an exchange student in the USSR during the early 60s. Under AN Leontiev. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/imitating-the-ussr-in-striving-to-discover-how-the-child-can-become-what-he-not-yet-is/ lays out their determination to take the Soviet psychological and pedagogical research and apply it in the West to citizens not ideologically trained from birth to see the effect.

    Education “reforms” like CAGW makes more sense if you go back to the intentions of the creators of the Bad Ideas. To me it is reading Donella Meadows and more recent Club of Rome reports on what they sought to do when these theories were developed. It was never about hard scoence. It was always about getting power oover economies and societies to allow redistribution of resources within developed countries and from developed countries to Africa and South America.

    Still is in Warsaw now.

  38. I have to wonder, with what we observe today about how government funded science operates, what would Dr. Feynman say about it?

    I really don’t know, what Dr. Feynman would say about how government funded science operates, but I think from his general ideas one can exclude that science ever will be corrupted by democratic power, and this is because science work ever is bound to an autonomic responsible integer person; there is no scientific integrity without an autonomic person.
    There is a general difference between morality and science. Morality is a social idea from the spirit of a time and a location or nation. Science is the search and research of that what the timeless and spaceless structures of nature are.
    Because of this, each acting of the government is supplied by morality and cannot corrupt science or the integrity of science. On the other hand the common ideas of democracy based in the people as the ideas of freedom, justice, truth and order of nature, leads to a financial support to autonomic persons that they can do their methods and conclusions. If there is a pot with money in the democratic community, it is no doubt that autonomic persons in science have to be supported for the Job. But at this phase of acting, there is no filter or amplifier on morality goals or pseudodemocratic decisions of morality biased politicans.
    In Germany we have the situation that i.) a law is valid which protects the air from ‘bad emissions’, and ii.) that CO2 is defined as ‘bad emission’, and iii.) that § 16 in that law says that: “The fundamental right to the inviolability of the home (Article 13 of the Basic Law) shall be restricted.”
    This claims in general if one runs his oven with trees and puts out the CO2 again, the trees have prior taken from the air, the police can come through the door and can confiscate the oven and let the home owner back in the cold.
    There is an interesting 78 minutes video in German language on this end of democracy in Germany:

    I do agree with many ideas of Dr. Feynman on science, but let me add some remarks. The arguments of Dr. Feynman are mostly fixed (and limited) on physically observables and/or physically action or reactions or functions. But science is not limited to physics only. There are metaphysic dimensions like logic, algebra, music (theory) or geometry, which cannot be an object of physics, simple because there are no observables to measure, and so the existence of it in the order of nature is only to be recognized by autonomic person, but not to be shown as observable. Even in physics there are recognitions like the law of conservation of energy, which needs recognition of an autonomic person, who recognized this as true.
    A minor critique point is that every rejection like ‘pseudoscience’ must not be a valid method of science, but can be itself be ‘pseudoscience’, because the object can be an object, which is outside of the knowledge of the autonomic Person. For that the method of Ockham is not really the major method in science; I think the major method in science is empiricism. It includes the respect to the whole and can find so the structures of order of nature. It doesn’t helps if one takes one theory of many theories, if all theories are wrong.

    V.

  39. Marshalling evidence supporting your thesis (and ignoring or discrediting refuting evidence) is the legal method, not the scientific method. Most of our problems with miscarriges of justice have come about because of confirmation bias is the minds of investigating police and magistrates (discounting actual corruption, of course) and a good dose of scientific integrity would go a long way to helping eliminate many legal problems.

    Undortunately, I think we live in a world which is going the other way – more legalistic and less scientific. What matters is now how well you argue your case, not the underlying basis of facts.

  40. …Then a method was discovered for separating the ideas–which was to try one to see if it worked, and if it didn’t work, to eliminate it. This method became organized, of course, into science. And it developed very well, so that we are now in the scientific age.

    It is interesting to consider the person who was mainly responsible for organising this.

    This would be Roger Bacon – Franciscan monk – about 1214-1294. Not to be confused with Francis Bacon, who came much later. He proposed the development of an ‘experimental science’ undertaken inside centres of universal study ‘Universities’ developed for the purpose. They locked him up in the March of Ancona for being ‘troublesome’. Since he specified and documented exactly how this process should work, he is often termed ‘The Father of the Scientific Method’. Due to his experimental demonstrations in lectures, he was known in his day as ‘Doctor Mirabilis’ – Teacher of Wonders.

    I note that it is the 800th anniversary of his birth next year. As far as I know, nobody has any plans to celebrate it.

  41. David Cameron, British Prime minister yesterday said

    “And I’m not a scientist but it’s always seemed to me one of the strongest arguments about climate change is, even if you’re only 90% certain or 80% certain or 70% certain, if I said to you there’s a 60% chance your house might burn down, do you want to take out some insurance – you take out some insurance. I think we should think about climate change like that.”

    Yes David and what is the insurance premium on such a 60% chance. My mind inhabits a world where the approach of Feynman is central and I live in a world ruled by dystopian morons.

  42. Robin says:
    November 17, 2013 at 3:31 am
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/11/16/a-view-of-science-worth-reflecting-upon/#comment-1477543

    People without feelings can’t think. You can look it up. Try this:
    http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2009/05/vulcans-nixed-y.html

    Also look up thread at some of my experiences and thoughts about them. I’m a retired aerospace engineer. And I have to tell you that reason makes up less than 10% of the human universe. Even in aerospace – if you can’t negotiate the human part of the organization – the feeling part – you can’t get anything done.

    Biocomputers do not work like silicon computers. And even the silicon varieties are subject to the initial condition problem and chaos (the mathematical kind).

  43. Robin says:
    November 17, 2013 at 3:31 am
    The idea of Feynmann at Esalen is a hoot. And the people at Esalen have been quite involved over the years in pushing feelings and beliefs instead of knowledge as the focus of schools.

    Well I have worked some of the Esalen stuff myself (I’m a retired aerospace engineer) and it works. The big toe may be connected to the pituitary through nerve endings in the brain. I don’t know if that is correct. But we HAVE found other such connections. See the link I left up thread.

    As some one pointed out above. Scientists are not above pseudo science. And some things called pseudoscience may not be.

  44. As sceptics, it behooves us to check our sources, and it is interesting to note that the scientist named ‘Young’, whose experiments in 1937 Feynman was so admiring of, is not actually well known or much cited. Indeed, there is often discussion as to whether he exists at all.

    If anyone wishes to investigate this oddity, they might find this reference a useful place to start…

    http://lesswrong.com/lw/3jx/the_decline_effect_and_the_scientific_method_link/

  45. — ” And, in telling people what to do next, he says that one of things they have to do is be sure the only train students who have shown their ability to get PSI results to an acceptable extent–not to waste their time on those ambitious and interested students who get only chance results. .”

    I suspect that this is ultimately the corrupting influence on Climate Science. The gatekeepers have decided “what is”, and will only credential students whose mindset and experiments will agree with “what is.” By ensuring the priesthood isn’t corrupted by skeptical thought, they maintain the illusion of consensus… totally manufactured consensus, but that serves their purposes just as well as overwhelming proof.

  46. kcrucible says:
    November 17, 2013 at 5:00 am

    I worked with a guy who wanted an EKG on a guy who was supposedly high PSI. I was the EKG maintenance guy. All he got from that experiment was null results. The PSI disappeared. Or may have been a statistical fluke in the first place.

  47. rtj1211:

    You’ve described something that I’ve often thought. Perhaps the change of seasons, or placement of important celebrations during the first year or two of life are very important in the development of a personality and mind set. Personally I’ve found that people follow their “astrological sign” very well (I’m a scorpio). No, it’s not about the stars or planets, but in an earlier age those were probably the most accurate measures of time.

    In my case, I started with the observation that people often match their astrological signs more than they want to admit, discounted the ancient belief that the stars and planets influence that, and started to ask what else changes fairly regularly in the earliest parts of a child’s life.

    In something so ancient it is difficult to separate the fluff that has been piled up over time, and things like daily horoscopes and those little scrolls you can get or books defining “the year ahead” don’t exactly work either, or use vague enough language that you could read almost everything into the predictions.

    Still, if I know someone’s sign I usually have a reasonable rough draft of their personality, with very few exceptions.

  48. We are of two minds, are aware of one, and project the feelings of the second on our environment and others. The latter causes a great deal of rationalizing and cult beliefs, but seems irrational because it is metaphoric. The latter works in understanding through the sense of ‘grocking’ as Heinlein described ‘A Stranger in a Strange Land’, and provides creativity and Aha! moments rather than the linearity of rational thought. If there was no such thing as the ‘placebo effect’, we wouldn’t have to run double-blind drug tests. Guess which mind is suggestible and the implications there?

  49. Interesting to think of plotting the charge of the electron as a function of time. Let’s do that for the predicted AGW temp increase. I bet we’ll find it’s decreasing and asymptotically approaching zero.

  50. @M Simon says:

    Speaking of rats you might find this rat experiment of interest. So much of our public policy is based on badly performed rat experiments.

    That’s because, to a politician, society is composed of badly performing rats….

  51. Interesting read. The fundamental rule of science is that you offer up reasons why something is falsifiable. If you don’t challenge what it is you seek to prove then it is not science. This philosophy is notably absent from the IPCC. Man made climate change is not a religion. It soon will be if we don’t challenge the thory. There are no certainties. Simply increasing the consensus is a cheap tactic being adopted by the IPCC

  52. This post surprised me, because I have been following this site for 5 years now and normally consider it spot on,

    However, you lost me when you asserted mind-reading cannot occur while in reality it is quite unscientific thinking to assume something is impossible just because we don’t understand a phenomenon well enough to predict or control it. In fact, there are now a number of devices being worked on to pick up brain wave patterns to control things via thought. My wife and I have so many times and so often surprised ourselves and others unexpectedly to us all in instances where we could not possibly have known what the other was thinking without some sort of mental communication involved but did, when not even in the same room. We can’t control it and don’t know how it works, but we know it happens. One of the most remarkable was several years back on a vacation. We were staying in a three room condo. She rose earlier than me one morning and went to another room for coffee and began reading a sci-fi novel from the beginning that she had not read before. About an hour later, I got up and joined her for coffee and started to describe to her in detail a dream I woke up from about people travelling in stasis to another planet light years away, how long it would take to get there, and what they discovered there. She stared at me for a moment, handed me the book, and told me to read the first chapter. I had never heard of the book before, and definitely had never read it. My dream exactly matched the first chapter of the book that she had been silently reading to herself while I slept. We don’t know how it works, or why, but we know it happens. My unscientific (ie – untested) theory is that it may be that the complex electromagnetic waves that all electrical activity including in our brains emanate may potentially be able via electrical induction to be interpreted somehow – not all that different from radio waves. While it happens a LOT to my wife and I, it also seems pretty random (though in reality it probably is not random; we probably just don’t have enough information to recognize what circumstances exist when it occurs.)

    While I fully agree with the principal of using science and experiment to test theories, failing to understand a phenomenon well enough to know what conditions to establish to reproduce the phenomenon is not a disproof of the phenomenon. In fact, that’s quite the same problem the warmists have. Because they don’t know what natural phenomena could cause changes in climate and only have their own pet theories and garbage computer models about carbon dioxide, they assume it could not be anything else.

  53. Thanks to “son of mulder” for my new-word-of-the-day “dystopian”, probably derived from “Utopian”.

    The word “Utopian” was, to my knowledge, invented by Sir Thomas More. In 1516 More published the book “Utopia” which also espoused concepts of society that were remarkably modern for their time.

    Nevertheless, More as Chancellor of England under Henry VIII had six men burned at the stake for heresy. No irony there.

    About ten years ago, this would have been the fate of global warming skeptics, if the warmistas had their way.

    It is wonderful to see what more-than-a-decade of “NO WARMING” has done to civilize the CAGW debate. (aka the “Other Divergence Problem”, the Mannopause, the “Hiatus Hernia”?)

    But just wait until real global cooling starts. Who will the mob turn on then?

  54. Actually “witch doctor” remedies do often work.

    It is more than the placebo effect and also more than the fact that most illnesses resolve on their own whether anything is done or not. The average “witch doctor” has on hand a pharmacopoeia of herbal remedies many of which have demonstrable medicinal effects.

    We could compare this with the list of recalled drugs based on research done by pharmaceutical companies.

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

    Or a variety of procedures and practices that don’t work.

    “Scientists reviewed each issue of The New England Journal of Medicine from 2001 through 2010 and found 363 studies examining an established clinical practice. In 146 of them, the currently used drug or procedure was found to be either no better, or even worse, than the one previously used…

    “More than 40 percent of established practices studied were found to be ineffective or harmful, 38 percent beneficial, and the remaining 22 percent unknown. Among the practices found to be ineffective or harmful were the routine use of hormone therapy in postmenopausal women; high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplant, a complex and expensive treatment for breast cancer that was found to be no better than conventional chemotherapy; and intensive glucose lowering in Type 2 diabetes patients in intensive care, which not only failed to reduce cardiovascular events but actually increased mortality.”

    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/26/medical-procedures-may-be-useless-or-worse/?_r=0

  55. In the AR5 Summary for Policymakers the IPCC glossed over the developing cooling trend in global temperatures and so lost the last vestige of its scientific credibility and any claim to be a source of useful guidance on future climate trends for policymakers.
    The IPCC’s remit was never to study climate objectively but to support the proposition that anthropogenic CO2 was the main climate driver and that increasing emissions would produce warming with catastrophic consequences by the end of the 21st century. To their eternal discredit too many of the Western scientific establishment abandoned common sense and scientific standards of objectivity and prudence in order to accommodate their paymasters.
    The entire vast UN and Government sponsored AGW behemoth with its endless labyrinthine conferences and gigantic schemes for UN global control over the World and National economies is a prime example of the disasters Eisenhower warned against in 1961 he said :
    “In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.
    The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific technological elite. ”

    Politicians were willing to forgo the trouble of thinking for themselves and forming their own commonsense views on climate so long as their paid scientists gave them scary forecasts to use to grab power and control over economic activity. This sinister symbiotic relationship enabled politicians to reward themselves ,their political friends and corporate sponsors while at the same time feeling righteous about “saving the world” Thus, with the enthusiastic assistance of the eco-left anti -capitalist movement and a supine or agenda driven MSM the CAGW delusion took over much of the Western world as a quasi religion which will not easily fade away even though, as the AR5 science section shows, it has no connection to reality.
    For a non modeling- empirically based forecast of the coming cooling see
    http://climatesense-norpag.blogspot.com

  56. Ed Hinton says:
    November 17, 2013 at 5:53 am

    “This post surprised me, because I have been following this site for 5 years now and normally consider it spot on,

    However, you lost me when you asserted …”

    Ed, those words are Richard Feynman’s from many decades ago.

    A giant amongst men and scientists. Portrayed quite uncannily by William Hurt in a ‘made for TV’ docudrama about his investigation of the failings of weaker men, in the last, pain-wracked months of his life.

    An earlier comment claimed this portrayal as “…stiff stereotype scientist …”. I chose to see it as an educator and savant coping with the coming darkness by choosing to answer his nation’s call, away from home and love. Content, but not happy.

  57. son of mulder says:
    November 17, 2013 at 4:23 am

    David Cameron, British Prime minister yesterday said

    “And I’m not a scientist but it’s always seemed to me one of the strongest arguments about climate change is, even if you’re only 90% certain or 80% certain or 70% certain, if I said to you there’s a 60% chance your house might burn down, do you want to take out some insurance – you take out some insurance. I think we should think about climate change like that.”
    ———————————————————————————————————————–
    What Mr Cameron doesn’t understand is that you always weight the cost of the insurance against the financial loss without insurance. Nobody buys insurance to cover the loss of a light bulb but will certainly buy insurance to cover the loss from a hurricane. So the question is simply is AGW/climate change a light bulb or a hurricane. Methinks it it closer to a light bulb.

  58. Always refreshing to read Feynman, but to refer only to “government” funding as being at risk of supporting “cargo science” goes against the essence of his argument. The pursuit of any kind of money (or status or power etc) may corrupt, and does, and certain humans are corruptible regardless, whether they are on the right, the left or any where else . . . No ideological position has a monopoly on dishonesty. .

  59. M Simon-

    Feelings and intuition may be a component of effective thought for many people but the organized efforts at educational reform that are my professional stock and trade are determined to substitute feelings and intuition for rational thought. To the extent possible they seek to take the cultivation of the mental out of education completely. Substituting physical activity.

    I have been quoting SRI’s work in that area, underwritten by the MacArthur Foundation as part of its Reimagining Education Initiative, in recent posts. It is also a huge part of what the Institute for the Noetic Sciences pushes as Willis Harman’s books lay out.

    Blowing up access to our cultural inheritance so UN agencies can supposedly gain control over the future development of technology may be good for those who currently have political power and for tech companies with large patent portfolios but it is a lousy deal for the rest of us.

  60. Because ‘climate science’ also deals heavily in statistics, I (vaguely) recall hearing about the space alien story a statistics professor used to warn his class about the danger of making wrong conclusions based on statistical results. ~Something~ like this:

    An incredibly powerful but benevolent space faring species of extra terrestrials discover earth and decide to conduct various in-depth studies of what happens on the surface before making any contact with humans. From prior experience, if a reasonably intelligent species is present, they’ve found that doing something to help them is a great ‘ice breaker’ for first contact.

    This is the very first oxygen / carbon rich planet they’ve ever visited and quickly they notice an intriguing problem concerning the structures that these humans build for themselves – some of them catch on fire and are destroyed. They use their infra-red sensors to detect fires and, if it is a fire of a human built structure, they take a high resolution photograph of it. After taking and studying thousands of photographs there is a 97% consensus among them that, statistically, there is overwhelming evidence that the cause of these structure fires are those little red trucks visible in almost every photograph.

    So they decide that destroying all those little red trucks will be an excellent way to convince humans that they mean them no harm…

  61. CFT
    Regarding renormalisation, a number of Nobel prizes in physics (including this year’s prize) have been won using this technique. It leads to predictions which are described by experiment time and time again. To put it another way, renormalisation in QED as used by Feynman has undergone numerous falsification tests and passed each one. The scientific method works very well indeed here. I’m surprised by your comment that Feynman wasn’t being consistent.

    Renormalisation is certainly mysterious i.e. that the physics corresponding to the low distance scales can be absorbed into the defintions of various constants. However, it is mathematically robust – ‘t Hooft and Veltman won the Nobel prize for proving that the Standard Model of particle physics can be renormalised.

  62. RE-posting my “Major Question [for] Climate Science” in the hopes of a few more responses.;

    Please provide a “Yes” or “No” answer, with comments as you see fit.

    Thanks, Allan

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/11/06/the-oldest-ice-core-finding-a-1-5-million-year-record-of-earths-climate/#comment-1467401

    A Major Question for Climate Science:

    In 2008 I demonstrated that in the modern data record, the only clear signal in the data is that dCO2/dt varies ~contemporaneously with temperature and atmospheric CO2 lags temperature by ~9 months. Also, others had demonstrated that CO2 lags temperature by ~800 years in the ice core record over much longer time cycles.
    http://icecap.us/index.php/go/joes-blog/carbon_dioxide_in_not_the_primary_cause_of_global_warming_the_future_can_no/

    I suggest that CO2 lags temperature at ALL measured time scales.

    Therefore, the IPCC global warming argument requires that the future causes the past. This logical fallacy should be problematic for global warming alarmists. Their rationalization, that my above 2008 observation in the modern data record is a “feedback effect” is, I suggest, a “Cargo Cult” argument [that is, they KNOW that CO2 drives temperature and therefore it MUST BE a feedback effect = nonsense, imo].

    I further suggest that within a decade, conventional climate science wisdom will shift to the view that temperature drives atmospheric CO2, and CO2 does not significantly drive temperature. This observation does not preclude the possibility that human activities, whether the combustion of fossil fuels and/or deforestation and other factors, are also driving the observed increase in atmospheric CO2 (but we cannot rule out the possibility that the increase in CO2 could also be primarily natural).

    For example, please examine the 15fps AIRS data animation of global CO2 at
    [video src="http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a003500/a003562/carbonDioxideSequence2002_2008_at15fps.mp4" /]
    It is difficult to see the impact of humanity in this impressive display of nature’s power.

    So here is my Major Question, which I hope many of you will opine on:

    Since CO2 lags temperature at all measured time sales, does “climate sensitivity to CO2” (defined herein as “macro” ECS, see below*) even exist on Earth?

    Yes or No, based on the probabilities?

    Thanks and regards, Allan

    { * “macro” ECS wherein temperature drives CO2 and overwhelms any “micro” ECS, the latter defined as any increases in atmospheric temperature that are caused by increased atmospheric CO2, but are not readily detectable due to other more dominant factors.}

  63. Jeff L says:

    November 16, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    Count the number of ways the CAGW crowd violates these principles.

    What number equals “all”?

    Maybe we should count the number of ways the CAGW crowd adheres to these principles.

    At least then we get a number that equals zero.

    /sarc

  64. @ Allan MacRae says:

    November 17, 2013 at 7:01 am

    I, too, am curious: how does one prove that something exists when it is purported to be overwhelmed by other factors and it can not be discerned?

    “What we have here in this box is an odorless, colorless substance with no atomic weight or radiative property. This substance can not be discerned by any known means. I have only a limited supply of this substance that I call “undetectium”, so step up and purchase it today and I will include free shipping.”

    Note: do not send money today. The “undetectium” box is still in the design phase but should be ready the same day the Obamacare website will be ready – November 31st, 2013.

  65. AllanJ says:
    November 17, 2013 at 1:38 am
    I am a retired scientist. Most of my family are sales people. They usually line up all the arguments in favor of what they want to do. I often say, “but what are the counter arguments.” They look at me with a little pitying smile (after all, the guy is getting old you know) and go on piling up arguments in favor of their plans.

    I conclude from this totally nonscientific experiment that there are people born to be scientists and others born to be in sales. God love them all. But can we please get the sales people the heck out of science?

    excellent summary. And the answer to your question is “no.”

  66. I once spent a weekend pro bono preparing an amicus brief for a Patent Law section of the State Bar. (Way, WAY back when…in the ’60s). It was a good brief, tightly reasoned with solid citations. But It came to the wrong conclusion, so it was not presented to the Court. Same problem as Feynman pointed out with science.

  67. James Cross says: “Actually “witch doctor” remedies do often work. ”

    My thermodynamics professor told us a story about a non-technical housewife who was scoffed at by her technical husband and others in casual dinner conversation for stating her observation that filling her ice cube trays with hot water always froze more quickly than ones filled with cold water.

    Her observation was true but, simply because she had no scientific background, her claim was dismissed as impossible thus suggesting there was something wrong with her power of observation.

    Making valid scientific observation is not at all limited to only scientifically minded people.

  68. Allan MacRae says: “I further suggest that within a decade, conventional climate science wisdom will shift to the view that temperature drives atmospheric CO2, and CO2 does not significantly drive temperature. This observation does not preclude the possibility ”

    Or worse as I have speculated from a systems viewpoint, I think (?) consistent with the ice record, CO2 may ~somehow~ act to ultimately clamp temperature rise. Is it not true in each cycle that CO2 always seems to be at a relative maximum when temperature turns around and begins to trend downward?

  69. Feynman surely hit the nail squarely on the head in his comments about the fields of education and psychology. I’ll add economics to that list since I did quite a bit of study in that field before the light came on.

    There was a time, in the ’90s, when some in higher education were seriously talking about abandoning the Ed.D. on the grounds that there was no useful research being done in the field of education. The people in the field responded by renaming the Teachers Colleges with some grand sound label, e.g., College of Education and Human Sciences. The field of education still produces nothing and no one seems to notice — or care. Ed.D.s are a classic example of the witch doctors Feynman spoke of.

  70. When I was 5, I realized it was absolutely important to follow this rule: Never lie to myself. A few years later after several visits to the principal’s office, I added one more important practical rule: Never do anything you can’t admit to doing.

  71. I much admire Richard Feynman’s statements on the nature of science and the necessity for experimental rigour and proof etc.
    But a number of comments here refer to the essential solidity of physics, that somehow it might be hard to cut corners.
    Well, firstly, Feynman himself was clearly referring as much to physics as to other disciplines when he spoke about this. And secondly, it’s clear from the reports of recent developments in, for example, the search for the Higgs Boson that solidity is definitely absent: ‘We think we may be able to infer the existence of HB from interactions with gluons and quarks.’ The latter, it appears, are themselves vanishingly improbable products of computer projection, (GCMs anyone?). It sounds a bit like deducing the existence of unicorns from evidence provided by leprechauns and banshees.
    Before I am descended upon from a great height, let me make clear that I am not saying gluons, quarks and Higgs Bosons don’t exist. Just that they quite clearly aren’t easy to pin down. Like all that dark matter. I think the possibility that the standard theory is at least partly wrong or incomplete should be drummed into all physics students. But I bet it isn’t.

  72. Andres Valencia says:
    November 17, 2013 at 7:23 am

    Dr. Feynman is right, a “Cargo-Cult” can kill it’s followers.

    When the Cargo-Cult is run by government, that means we are the followers.

  73. Tony Mach says:
    November 17, 2013 at 2:27 am

    … or cold fusion reactors.

    What was your scientific investigation results that causes you to lump LENR (cold fusion) results into the same bag as palmistry and astrology. It seems to me, that dismissing such an important possibility, is unscientific, indeed. Things either prove themselves out or are then dismissed. LENR has hardly failed, such a test… YET. GK

  74. In the absence of Feynman today as a science pillar and defender of good methodology, we need a Feynman-type organization to constantly critique the elitist country clubs of science and assault the pseudoscience of such things as global warming and Michael Mann in particular. Reviewing the YouTube videos of Feynman lectures is enlightening to understand global warming pseudoscience today in context and the ills of the National Academy of Science from which Feynman parted ways.

  75. M Simon says:

    I found my Math teacher’s name: Virginia Lee Pratt

    Is Pratt the name of the town with two water towers labelled Cold and Hot? I was amused to no end, took a picture but then lost it and couldn’t remember the name of the place. It sounds familiar now, though.

  76. Feynman’s standard of “utter integrity” is a high moral challenge to conduct in science:

    It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty–a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid–not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked–to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.
    Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can–if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong–to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem. When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.

    In summary, the idea is to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgement in one particular direction or another.

    PS Jesus set an even higher standard for everyone.

  77. To elaborate further from what I said earlier – we have to scrutinize very closely the origins of the theory of man made climate change. I read somewhere that the remit of the IPCC from the outset, apart from all the potential political reasons that are quite credible, was to determine the effect of man made climate change. Risks, impacts, effects and so on. Perhaps I have got this wrong (I am open to alternative opinion here) but I draw the conclusion that from the outset man made climate change has not even been in question at all to the IPCC. I assume their view may be that Co2 is a warming gas, therefore if you add it to the atmosphere it will cause a warming. In the strictest terms this is true. But this must be the most simplistic view that anyone could take when you view such a diverse and ever changing climate. It’s rather like saying that if I strike a match in the air whilst the fire is already burning there will be a further warming. This is the closest analogy that I can find that is similar to the man made effects of climate change. So many times I have heard the alarmists say “If you add Co2 you are causing a warming” stating that it is basic physics. It may be basic physics, but to fail to quantify the actual effect in proper terms is disinformation of the worst kind.

    Had the remit of the IPCC been different, along the lines of “Test whether or not Co2 is causing a warming at all” I feel the panel may have gone down a different path. That’s if of course there wasn’t an agenda. It is my subjective view that this was the case. We all know about the Thatcher era and how the IPCC was created and for what purpose (allegedly), so it follows that the IPCC’s conclusions would bolster that agenda. And I am allowed to say that because where oil and coal is involved there is money, and where money is involved people have a vested interest. I understand Thatcher in her retirement years in her writings conceded that as a scientist she may have got it wrong about the effects. Unfortunately we are at a stage now with AGW that makes it very hard to argue against the idea. It has become so entrenched in our culture now. To me, on a personal level the theory is the biggest disaster ever. And not simply because I don’t believe it but because there are other more pressing issues that face this planet, and the threat of man made climate change is a poor distraction from real issues. Population is the Elephant In The Room. Even if our Co2 contributions were causing a measurable effect (which I don’t believe) the Co2 is a mere symptom of our presence on this planet. The cause and effect is the population and the Co2 it produces.
    I would rather our government’s gave up on this dying theory and concentrated their efforts on finding more realistic ways to produce energy or educating our kids in economics and affordability. Green energy is a waste of time. Wind farms are the biggest joke that the alarmists allowed to rear their ugly head. Abraham and Nuccitelli use the Guardian as a vehicle to push their propaganda and everyone is buying into it. Abraham is a green energy scientist and Nuccitelli allegedly works for a big oil company. Many people from SkS post on the Guardian blog and the bloggers post on SkS. A very few people are attempting to monopolise the man made climate change debate. If it is that safe why go to all that effort. I put it to them that it is because they know the theory is flawed. What is it that they say about those that speak the loudest?
    We need to produce more nuclear energy and we need to invest more money in infrastructure as a pre cursor to solving the fusion reaction technology. For as long as money is being wasted on the IPCC, money that could be put to good use is being wasted. I blame the IPCC for that.
    We have an abundance of coal in the UK that we are also not allowed to use. We have to import it from Europe. I blame policy and the IPCC for that. We have 100’s of years worth of natural gas that can be fracked. But because of green policy we are being prevented from doing it. We are being squeezed from using what we already have. And for what, a theory, a climate model. And what really is the worst that happens from burning the coal we have. I suggest no harm will come from it. It was in our atmosphere in the first place. Even at 400ppm of Co2 it is nowhere near the levels it was before we even set foot on this planet. The planet is also very cool and will sooner or later revert back to the global average. Now, that is a dilemma if you are a human, but this will be long in our future and way after we destroy ourselves if we carry on squeezing us out of a living.
    The IPCC did not consider for one moment the fact that we do not have a back up plan for not using coal. Nor did they even consider the financial burden that we are now all carrying. What good has it done really and more importantly what has it achieved other than provide an income for the people that set out to prove the science or the people that need it to be proved for their own financial gain.
    As to the language that gets used. I tried posting on SkS and got called a Tone Troll in the first reply. All my comments were duly deleted with question after question asking where is my evidence that there isn’t a warming. Being criticised for using capitals, to then only have the mods use bold type – doh!! And if I had a pound for every time SkS use the word Ad Hominen or Non sequitur I would be a very rich man. It’s just a shame they can’t stick to their own rules when dishing out denialist or troll comments to people. It’s like talking to children, but with big words or Latin words being used. I I don’t need to provide evidence because there isn’t any evidence in the first place of man made climate change. Therefore the burden of proof is on the scientists to prove it correct and not for me to prove it wrong. And for as long as there is 97 percent natural variability I will never agree to the theory of man made climate change. I can’t – simple probabilities.
    On a final note, and apologies if some of what I have said has gone off topic, when there hasn’t been any warming for years now how can the IPCC increase their certainty that man made climate change is occurring? That’s an odd one.
    And why is it that every time there is a weather event that fits the predicted weather patterns the alarmists blame it on man made climate change. Conversely, when there is an event that does not fit the predicted weather pattern or model the alarmists put it down to natural variability or short term effects. This I am afraid demonstrates very well what is going on here. Cherry picking of the worst kind. It is hypocracy of the worst kind.

  78. While The Git has been a very great admirer of Feynman these many long years, in this otherwise excellent piece he propagates a myth regarding rhinoceros horn. Feynman states “During the Middle Ages there were all kinds of crazy ideas, such as that a piece of of rhinoceros horn would increase potency.”

    And this is what rhino horn has been/is actually used for:

    Their horns have been admired for centuries because of their beautiful appearance when carved and polished, and also for their so-called healing properties.
    In Yemen in the Middle East, rhino horns are in demand as they are used for making beautiful hand carved handles of daggers called “jambiya”. These daggers are presented to Yemeni boys at the age of 12 years as a sign of manhood. They are prized possessions and Yemeni men will pay high prices for such daggers which also often have jewels inlaid in them.
    A bigger problem is the use of rhino horns for traditional medicine in many Asian countries, but specifically in Malaysia, South Korea, India, China and Vietnam.
    The horns are ground up into powder and used to “cure” many ailments such as fevers, rheumatism, gout etc. The horns were also said to cure snakebites, hallucinations, headaches, vomiting, food poisoning among others.

    The rhino horn myth seems to be as persistent as the myths of theologians counting the number of angels dancing on the head of a pin and Galileo dropping his balls* from the tower at Pisa and arriving at the ground simultaneously to everyone’s consternation.

    * Humour intentional.

    Disclaimer: I am heavily influenced by Adrian Belew’s Lone Rhinoceros

  79. Allan MacRae says: “I further suggest that within a decade, conventional climate science wisdom will shift to the view that temperature drives atmospheric CO2, and CO2 does not significantly drive temperature. ”

    Mike M says: November 17, 2013 at 7:50 am

    Or worse as I have speculated from a systems viewpoint, I think (?) consistent with the ice record, CO2 may ~somehow~ act to ultimately clamp temperature rise. Is it not true in each cycle that CO2 always seems to be at a relative maximum when temperature turns around and begins to trend downward?

    Allan again:

    I must respectfully disagree Mike.

    I suggest you look at your “systems approach” this way:

    Atmospheric CO2 does not significantly drive Earth temperature.

    CO2 lags Earth temperature in time.

    This does not preclude other sources of CO2 such as fossil fuel combustion or deforestation.

    Repeating for clarity:

    CO2 does not significantly drive climate (Earth temperature).

    The overwhelming evidence is that increasing CO2 is irrelevant to Earth temperature within the bounds of reasonably foreseeable reality.

    “CO2 does not matter one whit. It’s all Cargo Cult bull$hit.”

    Regards, Allan :-}

  80. Ed Hinton says:
    November 17, 2013 at 5:53 am

    However, you lost me when you asserted mind-reading cannot occur while in reality it is quite unscientific thinking to assume something is impossible just because we don’t understand a phenomenon well enough to predict or control it.

    I can read some minds. I read the mate’s mind all the time and she never says I’m wrong. I don’t think it is brain waves though. I think it is smell. And not the kind of smell you can recognize – like violets say – but pheromones. I think each thought pattern has its own smell – for a given individual. But it might be brain waves. Either idea is becoming testable. Some day we ought to do tests.

  81. Dodgy Geezer says:
    November 17, 2013 at 5:33 am

    @M Simon says:

    Speaking of rats you might find this rat experiment of interest. So much of our public policy is based on badly performed rat experiments.

    That’s because, to a politician, society is composed of badly performing rats….

    Too funny. Too true.

  82. Re: mind reading and sense of smell. Everyone knows the phrase “smell of fear”. And if the fear is strong enough almost anyone can smell it.

  83. “In summary, the idea is to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgement in one particular direction or another.

    That’s exactly what was missing from the official narrative that made me suspicious when I first started looking into it for myself back in the 90’s.

  84. I totally agree with Feynman’s concept of integrity in science. I love the way he brings in numerical examples implicating distortion of facts by management. It is catching and individual scientists are not beyond stretching the truth as he points out. That is a big problem with global warming science and it can happen on both sides of the fence. For me it was an eye-opener when you flatly refused to believe my well-documented data on Arctic warming. It is hard to accept that greenhouse warming has nothing to do with it but for you to bullshit about English grammar and some nebulous cycles is not a scientific argument. For your information, you are not the only one to disbelieve me. The entire gaggle of warmists are against me too and still talk of greenhouse warming in the Arctic. And on this side, Donald Rapp is a blowhard who claimed that I utterly lacked proof. He did not like it when I pointed out that proof was in his own book and would not talk to me again. Feynman calls it lack of integrity but I would go further and call it mostly stupidity. Jim Watson has it about right when he says in the Double Helix that “…One could not be a successful scientist without realizing that, in contrast to the popular conception supported by newspapers and mothers of scientists, a goodly number of scientists are not only narrow-minded and dull, but also just stupid.”

  85. My sister returned from a trip where she was shown a 911 conspiracy video by another relative.
    She returned having been convinced it was not a plane that hit the Pentagon.
    Whoa Nellie!

    Homo Sapiens, evolving very slowly, have a long way to go in developing the BS gene.

  86. Robin says:
    November 17, 2013 at 6:34 am

    M Simon-

    Feelings and intuition may be a component of effective thought for many people but the organized efforts at educational reform that are my professional stock and trade are determined to substitute feelings and intuition for rational thought.

    Robin,

    On this we agree. It is criminal. However, “I have a bad feeling about this” is quite common. We should not throw the baby out with the bath water. The problem is in the correct training of the biocomputer so feelings match reality. To do otherwise is criminal. PTSD is a case where there is a feeling/reality mismatch. We do know how to program the mismatch. We are not very good at unprogramming it.

  87. Tony Mach says:
    November 17, 2013 at 2:27 am

    “I have to wonder, with what we observe today about how government funded science operates, what would Dr. Feynman say about it?”

    You quote Feynman at length, and then put such a turd on it? Do you want to say that people do not do “stupid” things, as long as the source of funding is “private”? Is your working hypothesis that government funding is the main problem in (climate) science today? Is that what you take away from that text by Feynman? Have you tried to understand it? Have you even read it? Sorry for blurting out, but you’re a helluva long way from understanding the problems in (climate) science, man!

    =====================================================================
    The problem isn’t so much that government funding is involved but that the funding is only used to support certain conclusions that support a political agenda.
    The Manhattan Project was government funding to find a weapon to win WW2. Research that wasn’t sound or practical was discarded. They had to have something that actually worked, not to promote Roosevelt’s “The New Deal” but to defeat a real enemy.
    The problems in climate science is that only what promotes “The Raw Deal” is funded.

  88. G. Karst says:
    November 17, 2013 at 8:36 am

    Tony Mach says:
    November 17, 2013 at 2:27 am

    … or cold fusion reactors.

    What was your scientific investigation results that causes you to lump LENR (cold fusion) results into the same bag as palmistry and astrology.

    For one thing it is very difficult to measure. It is very easy to make mistakes in low level calorimetry. Secondly the preconditioning is not accounted for. Thirdly the results are not consistent. Sometimes radiation and radioactive debris. Sometimes not.

    I admit that there is something there. And it may or may not prove useful as an energy generator or even just a water heater. Or a useful kind of chemistry. But so far no one has been able to pin it down or even prove it is an LENR.

  89. “I looked up the subsequent history of this research. The next experiment, and the one after that, never referred to Mr. Young. They never used any of his criteria of putting the corridor on sand, or being very careful. They just went right on running the rats in the same old way, and paid no attention to the great discoveries of Mr. Young, and his papers are not referred to, because he didn’t discover anything about the rats.In fact, he discovered all the things you have to do to discover something about rats. But not payin g attention to experiments like that is a characteristic example of cargo cult science.”

    “In fact, he discovered all the things you have to do to discover something about rats.”

    This is the clearest statement of the importance of experiment and of empiricism to science. By today’s standards it is so far-reaching, though totally correct, that many scientists who are skeptics about AGW will not be able to accept it.

    My criticism of Mann, aside from the moral matters, has always been that he has not “discovered all the things you have to do to discover something about” tree ring size.

  90. “M Simon says:
    November 17, 2013 at 10:10 am
    Re: mind reading and sense of smell. Everyone knows the phrase “smell of fear”. And if the fear is strong enough almost anyone can smell it.”

    Yeah, I smell fear right now and over the internet to boot.

  91. ” Robin says:
    November 17, 2013 at 3:31 am

    The idea of Feynmann at Esalen is a hoot. And the people at Esalen have been quite involved over the years in pushing feelings and beliefs instead of knowledge as the focus of schools. The individual Axemaker Mind is deemed not to be a good way to get to Riane Eisler’s Caring Economics.”

    I didn’t know that this was happening. However to get some accreditation, I have to write a refective statement on a Code of Practice. I wrote about 5 words that the guy ain’t happy with and wants me to rewrite it. Anyway I had to look it up and I found this.
    http://www.monash.edu.au/lls/llonline/writing/education/reflective-writing/1.xml
    “Reflecting on theory and school practice is important in Education courses. The need to think reflectively improves your ability to read critically and analyse course readings, ideas presented in class and experiences in schools. As you write you clarify your own understanding. The process of thinking and writing reflectively helps you to lay philosophical foundations for your teaching career.

    Reflection guides you as you:

    explore issues or ideas that are important for you
    react to the text or situation by agreeing or disagreeing and explaining why
    discuss links between the ideas on a topic to the work of more than one writer (you need at least two)
    consider classroom practice (or other field experience) to what is appropriate for you
    develop a personal philosophy of practice.”

    I am thinking what a load of BS. Reflective thinking helps you think critically? I don’t think so. It is new age touchy feely rubbish. I used to be a troubleshooter for mobile networks in Telstra and Ericsson. When a switch fell apart you didn’t have time to get all reflective about it – you had to work it out and get it back.

    On another point, when I was a new Christian one of my teachers told me to apply the 3 ‘effs’. These in order are Fact, Faith, Feelings. Basically never do or think anything based on feelings and emotion. Gather facts first, even if you don’t have 100% (and rarely do we have 100%) you can move forward in the faith that what you do will work.

  92. Unfortunately not only Feynman’s fine ‘cargo cult science’ address remains unknown to the great mass of facebookers and twatterers. Even the great man himself remains largely unknown. That isn’t going to change in my lifetime.

  93. Feynman was wrong of course, and even failed to follow his own advice.

    Let’s start here

    “We’ve learned from experience that the truth will come out. Other experimenters will repeat your experiment and find out whether you were wrong or right. Nature’s phenomena will agree or they’ll disagree with your theory. ”

    The problem is that Feynman wants to generalize from lab science to all other forms of science.Some experiments are not repeatable.Some experiments, as I will explain below, are repeatable in principle, but we would never repeat them. And in general nature always disagrees with theory, the issue is the size of the disagreement. When the disagreement becomes terribly small, we call the disagreement “error” or “uncertainty” which is really a description of our knowledge and not nature.

    Now, let’s consider Feynman’s notion and practice some skepticism

    “I explained to her that it was necessary first to repeat in her laboratory the experiment of the other person–to do it under condition X to see if she could also get result A, and then change to Y and see if A changed. Then she would know the the real difference was the thing she thought she had under control.”

    And let’s ask the question, Did Feynman do this himself?

    let’s take a famous example: The challenger investigation. Of course we all know that moment when Feynman put the O ring in the cold water. Feynman had observed a small outgassing from the SRB in the video and hypothesized that this was related to the O-Ring failing. Of course, he does an experiment to show the effect of cold on an O-ring. But does science stop there?
    Can he just assume that because this O-ring became brittle that the O-ring in the challenger became brittle. How do we test that? Well, like the experiments with Rats he described ( a fiction by the way ) one would have to replicate the launch and all the conditions of the launch.
    Did he suggest that? No. No one would suggest repeating the experiment. And no one would suggest that Feynman was unscientific in concluding that the frozen O ring caused the accident. Why? we can all see that it clearly could have been something else. We can all see that just because he found one explanation that other explanations are not ruled out. And,
    we dont have to offer another explanation. Skeptics just get to be skeptical. They dont have to offer alternative theories. right? We accept Feynman’s explanation even though its not tested with repeated experiments in which the conditions of the launch are rigourously repeated. We accept his explanation, even though we can say “it could be something else.” We accept Feynman’s explanation because it is good enough.

    And then there are experiments that cannot be replicated. We all “know” that Reagan’s actions caused the collapse of the soviet union. Perhaps we should test that? Few of us think that banning guns in the US will lead to fewer gun crimes. Let’s test that.

    Right now we are testing whether adding C02 will increase temperatures. And we are not doing the experiment in a controlled fashion. One way to test the theory is to stop all human C02 emmissions and watch what happens. Anyone want to follow Feynman’s suggestion?
    Folk who think that C02 causes no harm can test their idea very easily. Stop emmitting C02.

    Climate science is an observational science. In that science you dont get to do experiments.
    in forensic-like sciences you dont ordinarily get to blow up shuttles to test your theories.
    Suppose you have a hypothesis that the 9-11 buildings could not have been taken down by airplanes. If you followed Feynmans suggestion you’d build the buildings over and test it a large number of times. Instead people look at the evidence they have and draw the best conclusion they have. They apply some physics. And they conclude, yes the planes took the building down. Still there are skeptics who suggest otherwise. They argue that it could have been something else. How do we react to them? We call them nuts. In observational sciences, there are no structured repeatable experiments. There is just making sense of the data. In this science, there is no guaranntee “that the truth will come out” There is only the best explanation of the day. In this science you dont get to play unless you have a better explanation.

    And lest folks forget Feynman’s renormalization

    : “The shell game that we play to find n and j is technically called renormalization. But no matter how clever the word, it is what I would call a dippy process! Having to resort to such hocus-pocus has prevented us from proving the theory of quantum electrodynamics is mathematically self-consistent. …. I suspect that renormalization is not mathematically legitimate.”

    in short, renormalization was accepted because it worked.

  94. Steven Mosher says:
    November 17, 2013 at 11:59 am
    “Feynman was wrong of course, and even failed to follow his own advice.

    Now, let’s consider Feynman’s notion and practice some skepticism

    “I explained to her that it was necessary first to repeat in her laboratory the experiment of the other person–to do it under condition X to see if she could also get result A, and then change to Y and see if A changed. Then she would know the the real difference was the thing she thought she had under control.”

    And let’s ask the question, Did Feynman do this himself?

    let’s take a famous example: The challenger investigation.”

    Are you really unaware that you have introduced an example of an event that is not an experiment and that requires no experimentation as a means of criticizing Feynman’s account of an experiment done under the protocols of the quintessentially lab bound science, Skinner’s conditioning experiments?

    Feynman’s recommendations were for this lab bound Skinnerian science. Those recommendations are spot on. You have switched from lab experiment to grand tragedy that unfolded on a huge stage in the real world. In addition, there was no need for experimentation because there was no need for the accident. If administrators had followed the advice of engineers the accident would not have occurred.

  95. The Challenger incident was not an experiment so not repeatable, dipping an oring into cold water was an experiment and is repeatable!

    Regan and the collapse of the USSR was not an experiment so it not something designed to be repeated.

  96. Steven Mosher says:
    November 17, 2013 at 11:59 am

    No offense, but the wellsprings of your sophistry appear inexhaustible.

    Feynman’s experiment with the O-ring was indeed tested. Subsequent Shuttles were safely launched, although not in the same cold conditions. But the failed launch itself was an experiment, since engineers warned in advance that the rings were liable to fail in the cold & indeed had not even been tested at temperatures near freezing, let alone below it.

    Science outside of the lab test hypotheses all the time. It was in effect an experiment testing an hypothesis to look for a transitional fish-tetrapod in Late Devonian rocks of the Canadian Arctic, which is where Tiktaalik was found. Scientists predicted that proto-mammals with both the mammalian & “reptilian” jaw joint would be found in Late Triassic rocks, & sure enough they were, in sites from around the world.

    So-called “climate science” also makes predictions to test hypotheses, but its voodoo practitioners try to wiggle out of or ignore the results. The hypothesis that man-made GHGs are 90% responsible for supposedly observed warming since 1950 (or whenever, as the start date is fungible) at the 95% confidence level has been repeatedly tested & shown false. Indeed, it was falsified on its face before the crazy hoax was ever first hatched, based upon prior valid data showing that observations were well within normal, natural limits & that CO2 levels correspond badly with temperature measurements.

    So CACA has been falsified in both the scientific & ordinary senses of the word.

  97. Re Steven Mosher:

    Reagan didn’t really help bring down the old Soviet Union? And Dr Feynman was only making a lucky guess?

    OK then, who is right? Anyone? Or do things just ‘happen’?

    In discussing skepticism, Mosher says: “Folk who think that C02 causes no harm…”

    Sorry, but you’ve got it backward, Steven. The conjecture all along has been that CO2 is the cause of global warming. Therefore, per the Scientific Method, the onus is on the alarmist crowd to support their conjecture. It is not up to skeptics to prove a negative: that CO2 does not cause global warming. Skeptics merely point out the fact that there is no empirical evidence showing that CO2 causes global warming [I personally think that CO2 has a minuscule effect, which becomes smaller as more CO2 is emitted. But that is also only a conjecture].

    So far, the alarmists have failed to make their case. There is no measurable scientific evidence showing that CO2 causes global warming. There are computer models. There are plenty of assertions. But the real world is falsifying the models and the assertions — all of them. The more data we collect, the more obvious it becomes that there is no correlation showing that ∆CO2 causes ∆T. All of the evidence shows exactly the opposite: that ∆T causes ∆CO2.

    So, question: What would it take to get you to admit that the CO2=cAGW conjecture is wrong?

  98. Philip Mulholland….

    Hahahahahahahhahahahahahah…..thank you big heapy for that…..I only had that quote above in isolation….Seeing it in context in the original article….even funnier…..

    I particularly like the very understated “Huddersfield” beneath the photo….Top…

    Jonesey

  99. Allan MacRae says: I must respectfully disagree Mike. I suggest you look at your “systems approach” this way: Atmospheric CO2 does not significantly drive Earth temperature. …CO2 lags Earth temperature in time.

    I absolutely agree with you that CO2 lags temperature on the way up but respectfully repeat, from a purely systems viewpoint, temperature also goes back down when CO2 is high which is the exact opposite of what climate charlatans are telling us.

    All I am pointing out is that, knowing nothing other than the ice core record, I would start with a hypothesis that temperature drives CO2 up (outgassing ocean and more respirating animal life with higher temperature so that’s no surprise) and then … CO2, (or something to do with more CO2 such as NPP), ‘somehow’ drives temperature back down. Simply making an observation of the data (again, as I am aware of it).

  100. Reblogged this on Sierra Foothill Commentary and commented:
    Every student of science should read, and reread Richard Feynman’s essay, especially when climate change science is discussed. There are several valuable lessons for every climate science observer in this Cargo Cult Science essay.

  101. Again my interest is really about how people make sense of their world and the role of emotion in reasoning. There is an increasing amount of work looking at these ideas and we have to recognize that we all attach value to our ideas and beliefs. The idea of total objectivity is at best an aspiration and scientific methods often reflect the attempt to control for this. Many of the posts here could illustrate ways in which cognitive processes are highjacked to defend our beliefs and values. Its easy to simply not think about or ignore key pieces of information. There is also lots of information how predictions in personality have a profound effect on behaviour a problem not just for astrology but psychology generally. We can also add complexity the possible effects of say nutrition in early life, clearly health can effect development but this isn’t anything to do with astrology. There is also the notion that empirical evidence relies on a good understanding of the issue, while its a nice idea, it is in fact the evidence that helps develop this understanding. The claim of mind reading leads to a number of easily tested predictions to confirm that its real, most of these predictions have in fact been investigated ad. nauseum, there’s no evidence it happens. In many of the pseudo-sciences people make claims that are totally inconsistent what is known and which gives them a steady income from the desperate or gullible. really its the people making these claims that should be providing the evidence. Its easy, if for instance you claim a new treatment works and neither you or anybody else cant find evidence to support that, its not because of paradigms, wholism or spirituality, its because your a con man. What we believe has a powerful effect on future belief and motivates acceptance or rejection. I can accept that this is not usually something people are aware of doing, but I have also read Lewandowsky’s papers linking belief systems so I think this must be a qualified statement., There were two ridiculous examples used to illustrate points that lacked any credibility, in one a story of aliens gathering data, failed to mention, at any point, anal probing, which everyone knows is the primary data collection method that all aliens use. Then the example of “undetectium” which lost all scientific credibility when the author added at the end, “do not send any money” :) Have fun. G

  102. Felflames says:
    November 16, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    This should be blazoned on the walls at every place of education , and every politician should be forced to be able to quote it verbatim before they can hold any high office.

    [We should all send a copy to our members of Congress.]

  103. Mike M says: November 17, 2013 at 1:17 pm
    …and then … CO2, (or something to do with more CO2 such as NPP), ‘somehow’ drives temperature back down. Simply making an observation of the data (again, as I am aware of it).

    Allan:

    Sorry Mike – Occam says hokum.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam's_razor

    There is no need for your complex hypo.

    The change in temperature is natural, and CO2 just follows it – up AND down.

  104. Re: Reading English / phonics

    Not related to the subject of this post, but it came up in some comments.

    My perspective, as a native speaker of German, not English: The English language as such is in a sorry state that creates unnecessary difficulties for the learner. The sounds of the spoken language are blurred and feeble; the vowels, in particular, don’t come close to exploring the full gamut that many other languages use, and thus are murky and ambiguous. To make matters worse, nobody seems to curate the written language and to update and unify the spelling, which pretty much obliterates the advantage of using alphabetical letters rather than characters denoting syllables as Asian languages do. When I see “i”, should it sound like “high” or “bit”? If I see “ei”, should it sound like “height” or “receive”? “Either” – is it yther or eether? Not even native speakers seem to agree. “Inchoate” – is it inchote, inkotee, or what? You simply have no way of knowing if you don’t already know. Lots of my students write “recieve” , or “dependant” where they mean “dependent” – and it is almost worse with native speakers than with immigrants.

    In German, there exists a much tighter (though not perfect) correspondence of spoken words and written ones, which makes spelling much less of an issue for most learners. There are no “spelling bee” competitions in Germany, or at least I never heard of them while I lived there for the first 40 years of my life. German has its own disadvantages, such as dispensable grammatical complications, but learning to read and to write it correctly seems to be easier.

    So, modest proposal – before thinking of better ways of how to make the learners jump through hoops, consider removing unnecessary hoops by a thoroh overhawl off the spalling.

  105. Was the Discovery channel movie any good? For info about Feynman’s life and the Challenger episode, Christopher Sykes’ book “No Ordinary Genius: The Illustrated Richard Feynman” is excellent.
    http://www.amazon.com/No-Ordinary-Genius-Illustrated-Richard/dp/039331393X

    The Challenger chapter uses Feynman’s own words and those of other major players, in particular those of General Kutyna. The big investigation was set up to be a whitewash to protect the funding and NASA. General Kutyna was tipped off by the astronauts about the o-ring problem, but nobody could make the info public without losing their jobs. General Kutyna led Feynman down the path to discovering the problem which they already knew about. Feynman’s showmanship at the meeting got national coverage. Even after that it was difficult getting his findings into the official report. Feynman was furious when Kutyna finally told him the whole story.

  106. What I find interesting about the description of Young ‘s work is not how many things he eliminated before putting the maze in a sand box, but rather what is missing. Did he go back and determine whether any of his earlier guesses actually mattered? As far as I can tell from the description Young only proved that his rats were sensitive to the apparatus noise, but he didn’t actually prove anything about his other control factors.

    It would not surprise me, for instance, if the idea about smell had been good but the one about the lab lights not so much.

  107. Chris November 17, 2013 at 9:27 am says:

    “… when there hasn’t been any warming for years now how can the IPCC increase their certainty that man made climate change is occurring? ”

    The answer is quite simple: if you practice pseudo-science you don’t need to be annoyed with such piddling details to increase your certainty that AGW.is real.

  108. “Feynman’s experiment with the O-ring was indeed tested. Subsequent Shuttles were safely launched, although not in the same cold conditions.”

    Not only that, but there was a long history of o-ring erosion in low temperatures before it destroyed Challenger.

  109. Michael Palmer says:

    “So, modest proposal – before thinking of better ways of how to make the learners jump through hoops, consider removing unnecessary hoops by a thoroh overhawl off the spalling.”

    As far back as the emperor Claudius there have been attempts to change spelling and grammar to follow more sensible rules. All such attempts failed. Once people learn a certain set of rules and spelling, inertia takes over and they resist change.

    You are stuck with English the way it is, sorry to say. Tell your students that context is everything when trying to figure out the meaning of words and spelling.

    And hey, I like spelling bees! Maybe because I was always a gud spellr.

  110. I write software for a living (it’s easier than working, alright?). When something goes wrong with software, we have to find out what that fault is in order to fix it. To do that, you need to follow these principles completely.

    I am constantly amazed at how little people grasp these principles, or even use them in everyday problem-solving exercises. What they typically do is exactly what bad software developers do: They adopt several different hypotheses in sequence, change various things based on these, and eventually the thing goes right. OK, so it now works, but in many cases (in software and real life), you just masked the problem. It will then come back, and still you have no idea why.

    I see people do this time and time again, and always believe that they have ‘got it right’, and even congratulate themselves on being so astute. Trying to explain that a more careful and rigorous approach would achieve different and correct results is, I have found, just not worth the effort.

    I guess this is why so few people can write good software (even amongst the 2% who can write it in the first place), and why good problem-solving is a rare skill indeed.

  111. Jer0me says:
    November 17, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    You have just given a brilliant description of the method used by Alarmist climate scientists.

  112. The conduct of NASA with hiding information and signaling bad career outcomes to internal staff and engineers in the know and forcing information to then be leaked out to Dr. Feynman on the Challenger Committee sounds a lot like the conduct of agencies today with NOAA with respect to A. Watts and NSA and IRS with respect to the public. And Feynman’s comments about the National Academy of Sciences are all too familiar today with Michael Mann emails of enforcing the power club and keeping all others out. None of that is science.

  113. @ dbstealey

    Well, the German language has gone through two official revisions of official orthography during my lifetime. The first one was well received, the second one caused some groaning because it was felt that some of the rules were unnecessarily rigid. However, a few years on this has simmered down, and I now see the new spelling pretty much universally used.

    So, with all due respect to Claudius, it can be done.

  114. Jerome, on a practical level, your analogy is valid. There is a difference in principle though between software and empirical science – software is like mathematics, and we set all the rules and boundary conditions. In contrast, in empirical science, we study a black box of unknown laws and facts; we always have to take a guess and test, and at some point we have to stop testing and accept that we can never be fully sure about our theory, even if it passed all those tests.

    I have mixed feelings about the current emphasis on testing in software, Testing is useful, for sure, but would it not be better, where possible, to prove correctness from first principles?

  115. David says:
    November 17, 2013 at 7:01 am

    CFT
    Regarding renormalisation, a number of Nobel prizes in physics (including this year’s prize) have been won using this technique. It leads to predictions which are described by experiment time and time again. To put it another way, renormalisation in QED as used by Feynman has undergone numerous falsification tests and passed each one. The scientific method works very well indeed here. I’m surprised by your comment that Feynman wasn’t being consistent.

    Renormalisation is certainly mysterious i.e. that the physics corresponding to the low distance scales can be absorbed into the defintions of various constants. However, it is mathematically robust – ‘t Hooft and Veltman won the Nobel prize for proving that the Standard Model of particle physics can be renormalised.
    ————————————————————-
    Something as clunky as renormalization may work, but it is probably not the last word on a correct and complete procedure for obtaining calculated results. IMHO the necessity for renormalization arises from allowing too many degrees of freedom. Renormalization represents a colossal failure to understand something.

  116. “Why didn’t they discover the new number was higher right away? It’s a thing that scientists are ashamed of–this history–because it’s apparent that people did things like this: When they got a number that was too high above Millikan’s, they thought something must be wrong–and they would look for and find a reason why something might be wrong. When they got a number close to Millikan’s value they didn’t look so hard. And so they eliminated the numbers that were too far off, and did other things like that. We’ve learned those tricks nowadays, and now we don’t have that kind of a disease.” ~Richard Feynman

    Well that’s good.

  117. Professor Feynman’s example of the history of measuring the charge on the electron is particularly apropos for the study of climate sensitivity to atmospheric carbon dioxide:

    Why didn’t they discover the new number [for the charge of the electron] was higher right away? It’s a thing that scientists are ashamed of–this history–because it’s apparent that people did things like this: When they got a number that was too high above Millikan’s, they thought something must be wrong–and they would look for and find a reason why something might be wrong. When they got a number close to Millikan’s value they didn’t look so hard. And so they eliminated the numbers that were too far off, and did other things like that. We’ve learned those tricks nowadays, and now we don’t have that kind of a disease.

    But this long history of learning how to not fool ourselves–of having utter scientific integrity–is, I’m sorry to say, something that we haven’t specifically included in any particular course that I know of. We just hope you’ve caught on by osmosis.

    It seems that this scenario is being played out with the equilibrium sensitivity of climate to changes in carbon dioxide. The IPCC AR4 came out in 2007 with a “best estimate” of 3C degrees for each CO2 doubling, which is unsupportable with recent empirical data, so they are gradually walking the number down to the true value, which is probably around 1C. Prof. Feynman describes this history as something scientists are ashamed of. I should hope so.

  118. Very well written reminder of the importance of the scientific method and the importance of scientific integrity as the very basis to remain our freedom and prosperity currently under severe threat.

  119. M Simon says November 17, 2013 at 10:48 am

    I admit that there is something there. And it may or may not prove useful as an energy generator or even just a water heater. Or a useful kind of chemistry. But so far no one has been able to pin it down or even prove it is an LENR.

    With all due respect, this almost borders into ‘rigid’ thinking that all that can be discovered, has been discovered … I say almost, because, you do leave the door open. Pinning down the ultimate intricacies of the ‘physics’ and the proofs required to support theories proffered to explain what is taking place should not preclude the commercialization of such products either.

    Perhaps a guided tour, a review of sorts, in a talk/a course conducted by Peter Hagelstein of MIT earlier this year might bring one up to speed in this field beginning here.

    .

  120. Reblogged this on gottadobetterthanthis and commented:
    I don’t think this can be repeated enough.

    “But there is one feature I notice that is generally missing in cargo cult science. That is the idea that we all hope you have learned in studying science in school–we never say explicitly what this is, but just hope that you catch on by all the examples of scientific investigation. It is interesting, therefore, to bring it out now and speak of it explicitly. It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty–a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid–not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked–to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.”

    The comments regarding Millikan and electronic charge are paramount as well.

    You must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest to fool. Never forget that nature will not be fooled.

  121. ozspeaksup says:
    November 18, 2013 at 4:40 am

    Reality is what it is. Feynman is GREAT because he didn’t shy away from what ever truth he found.

  122. _Jim says:
    November 17, 2013 at 9:44 pm
    Pinning down the ultimate intricacies of the ‘physics’ and the proofs required to support theories proffered to explain what is taking place should not preclude the commercialization of such products either.

    We are 25 years on and no commercial development to date. Aside from Rossi who has a reputation of fraud.

    And I am reasonably up to date. And I prefer text to video. I did skim the video and what I saw confirmed what I stated above. I may have missed something.

    The essence of science in this type of field is replication. Not even the experts in the field know what is required for replication.

  123. MarkG says:
    November 17, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    Quite so, which is why I said the cold launch was also an experiment. Engineers warned NASA, the agency said not to worry, so the engineers’ bosses changed their findings. We’re doing the same thing now with CACA, & many more lives are at risk.

  124. So, modest proposal – before thinking of better ways of how to make the learners jump through hoops, consider removing unnecessary hoops by a thoroh overhawl off the spalling.

    That might work if English was one language. But it is not. It is lots of languages. It is a kind of pidgin in fact. Ugly to the purist.

  125. M Simon says:
    November 18, 2013 at 7:37 am

    English is syncretic, obviously, but not a pidgin. It wouldn’t have so many irregular verbs were it a pidgin.

    I agree that changing its spelling to make it more phonetic would be a mistake. Indian English spelled phonetically would look different from American & British English, both of which would also have to use different spellings for their dialects & accents. Present archaic spelling is actually helpful for learning German & for studying the history of English.

  126. milodonharlani says:
    November 17, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Steven Mosher says:
    November 17, 2013 at 11:59 am

    Another example of testing an hypothesis using natural experiment:

    http://www.einstein-online.info/spotlights/light_deflection

    Physicists are still trying to verify Einstein’s prediction of gravity waves with direct observation.

    That’s how science works. One of the worst features of CACA is the corruption it has wrought to the very fabric of genuine science, as exemplified by the anti-scientific, post-modern distortions perpetrated by culprits like Mosher & Orestes. Because CACA is so easily falsified, the meaning & practice of science must be changed, along with the data.

  127. Steven Mosher [November 17, 2013 at 11:59 am] says:

    Feynman was wrong of course …

    Pfffft! It takes some kinda chutzpah for anyone to start a comment like that, but none more than you.

    Steven Mosher [November 17, 2013 at 11:59 am] says:

    Now, let’s [consider Feynman’s notion and] practice some skepticism …

    If only.

    milodonharlani [November 17, 2013 at 12:32 pm] says to Steven Mosher:

    No offense, but the wellsprings of your sophistry appear inexhaustible.

    Thread Winner right there! No more bets please.

  128. Thanks, so much, for speaking up in Oz today at 4:40am (or, rather, 9:40pm?), Oz Speaks Up. (re: yeeow!!bad taste to the max!”). I did not go to that link, but, just the title made me feel sick inside. When the mods don’t snip stuff like that, it’s kind of depressing. Thus, thanks for the gift of knowing that at least one other person thought that was out of line.

    [Reply: Often mods don’t even see comments. Now they are posted automatically, unless a keyword or phrase puts them in moderation hold. — mod.]

  129. Thanks for letting me know that, m-od-era-tor. Please forgive my implying above that you left that upsetting post intentionally, however (ahem), it is, now, still there… . I guess that I felt sick inside is for me to work on and I’ll try to toughen up. Boy, this place is, indeed, “rough at times.”

    Thank you, mo-d-erator, for all you do to make WUWT, nevertheless, one of the finest sites on the internet.

  130. Then what of the paleo- and historical “sciences”? You can’t do experiements for abiogenesis, or even anything relating to “evolution” or astrophysics and “the big bang”. It is educated speculation, but speculation. We can’t go back 60 million years, we can only see fragments of things gelogically preserved, or use our intuition. “Dark Matter/Energy/whateverthehellitis” is another area.

    I think you are exactly right. Start with a theory and experiment, see if it works and is repeatable, then extend. But many things aren’t repeatable (we can’t get volcanoes to erupt on cue), and we can’t get many things under controlled conditions.

  131. A lot of “corrections” to statements Feynman made in his 1974 address. I wonder how many of those are due to subsequent discoveries that Feynman could not have known about at the time.

  132. Given Feynmann’s dislike for pseudo-science, he would find WUWT appalling. Surely you have all noticed the logical inconsistencies between posts here? Any theory is entertained, so long as it is not CO2.

  133. Simon says..
    “Any theory is entertained(here), so long as it is not CO2.”

    You must be ‘using’ the same stuff as Toronto mayor Ford.. the majority, at least 90% who post here recognize warming as likely from the CO2 we are adding. The vast majority think the warming will be less than 1.2 C though, ie, not catastrophic. Personally, I am betting on 0.5C or so, due to the vertical heat dissipation achieved by equatorial thunderstorms.(Willis’s paper was remarkable)

  134. milodonharlani says:
    November 18, 2013 at 7:54 am

    M Simon says:
    November 18, 2013 at 7:37 am

    English is syncretic, obviously, but not a pidgin. It wouldn’t have so many irregular verbs were it a pidgin.
    Thanks for the correction. You gave me the word I was looking for.

  135. Janice Moore says:
    November 18, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    Feynman did a similar experiment (more than once) and got the same result. I’m sorry if it shattered your world view.

    Here is a reprise of what Feynman wrote on the subject:

    http://www.roberttwigger.com/journal/2010/9/16/richard-feynmans-pick-up-technique.html

    Of course the link I presented way up thread shows a much more advanced knowledge. The field is advancing. You can learn more (less socially charged) by searching “hypergamy”. Or “why women go for bad boys”.

    I practiced those skills myself. They work. In fact I got my current mate (39+ years) using those skills. Women are very attracted (“the hamster wheel” in PUA argot) to men who are indifferent (enough) to them. BTW my mate knew all about my my previous. It just made her more determined (women prefer men other women prefer). Evidently her determination was sufficient.

  136. Janice Moore says:
    November 18, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    “The Taming Of The Shrew” by Shakespeare is based on a similar view of human nature. You should watch it. I suggest the Burton/Taylor version. There is a free version on the ‘net. The concepts are very old. What is new are the refinements based on information interchange on the ‘net.

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