Gruber Thinking in Climate Science: Disconnect Between Academia And The Real World.


Guest opinion: Dr. Tim Ball

There are many parallels between the Jonathan Gruber story and what has occurred in climate science. Gruber used a computer model to produce justification for a US national healthcare system. This parallels the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) use of computer models produced to justify the need for international climate control. They both claim their models are accurate and solid as the basis for draconian policy changes. They both fail to understand that playing with models in a university requires they satisfy research and scientific standards. We don’t know if they do, because so much of what they produce that is critical to proper analysis, such as computer codes, is proprietary. Gruber’s models are proprietary, even if the taxpayer pays him and they are the basis for public policy. They both fail to understand that a different set of standards and responsibilities are applied when you take your lab work in to the public forum.

From The University To the Real World

There are social consequences, as Gruber discovered when he appeared before Congress on December 9, 2014. Paul Driessen has written on the consequences often on WUWT. Gruber’s appearance underscored the distance between academia and the real world. It is a distance I have experienced and confronted during my 25-year academic career. A distance demonstrated by Gruber and throughout the 6000 emails leaked from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia and countless other horror stories that never reach the public.

I was aware of this distance as a mature student going back to university after military service. I experienced the distance as a faculty member and did many things to bring the world into the university for students. It is a gap academia wants to exist, because if people knew how little they do and what is actually going on, funding would be mostly withdrawn. Faculty does very little teaching. They produce very little research, most of which is to further their career. Other faculty members judge their performance, in a truly incestuous, backbiting system. I could fill a book with my personal knowledge of faculty and academic horror stories.

A colleague (?) at the university where I taught said, in a discussion about teaching, that he was a professor, not a teacher. If the students didn’t understand what he professed, that was their problem, not his. Faculty is hired on the basis of university qualifications, which is usually a doctorate in a very specialized area of research. They are not required to have any training in teaching and may only have a smattering of experience after being graduate students. It appears politicians are the only group in society less qualified for a major part of their job, than university professors. The Department chair told me I was an entertainer, to which I replied, if the students don’t attend or fall asleep, the lecture is a waste of time. Gruber implies he was forced to deceive because the public is stupid and wouldn’t understand. No Sir, the failure is your ability to communicate the truth. Worse, your argument is designed to cover a deliberate deception and that you did well. The IPCC achieved the same deceptions with their Summary for Policymakers (SPM).

Universities abhor the demand for relevance and accountability. Look at the cover-ups they participated in with regard to information exposed by the leaked emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU). What they fear is exposure to the real world of how little is actually going on. Most of what they do is perpetuate the secrecy and thus maintain their unique and bizarre world.

I fought this darkness through my time in the university. I hung a picture frame with no picture on my office window with a label that said, The Real World”. I never gave a lecture without starting with a news item that related to what we were studying in the course. I gave all my own lectures and set and marked all my own exams and papers. I served on many committees at all levels of government for real world experience. I apologized to one class about not having as many office hours as I would like because of these commitments. The students said they appreciated that their professor had credibility in the real world. Besides, they appreciated the real world examples I brought into the classroom. For example, in a water resources class, the class project involved participation in a commission of inquiry over conflict about a real lake. The students were divided into small groups representing different segments of those affected. In the last week of the course they made presentations to me as the Commission. I also organized a Toastmasters group on campus because most students would need these skills in their careers in the real world. I visited schools and invited high school classes to sit in on my university classes. My department told me that all these activities were a waste of my time, yet I produced more research most years than for the entire department.

Universities Are Self–created, Self-perpetuating, Anachronistic Systems.

The reality is that university education is not for everybody. Despite that society makes the assumption that every child entering kindergarten will end up in university. This, by default, makes failures of a majority of society. Even for those who get in, most students just passing with a C average, are simply getting grades 13, 14, and 15, in what is really only a socially acceptable form of unemployment. Meanwhile the majority, with a multitude of other talents needed in society, is denigrated and made to feel inferior by the academic community. Consider Gruber’s arrogance. Besides, most faculty members only tolerate students in order to maintain funding to protect their jobs. Using graduate students to do their teaching is an abrogation of their teaching responsibility, but they get away with it. I heard one faculty member say, if we could just get rid of the students this would be a great place to work. But it is academics who set up and maintain the system. They decide on what is a valuable type of intelligence and impose that on society. To my knowledge there is no university or college that offers a course in common sense. If they did they would have to bring a person from outside to teach it.

There are few better examples of academic arrogance and their belief that the end justifies the means than in a series of recorded presentations featuring Jonathan Gruber. In one of the academic presentations, the audience laughed in sympathy with Gruber’s portrayal of the people as stupid. The end was establishment of the Affordable Health Care (Obamacare) plan. He was recorded on many occasions referring to the deceptions taken to fool a stupid public, who were incapable of understanding economics that were simple for his superior brain and abilities. In Congressional testimony, forced by public and political reaction, he apologized for his remarks, but insisted the end was still worth it. No it isn’t! If it were, it wouldn’t need the deception.

In his article Give Gruber a Break”, Charles Battig describes Economist Gruber’s views and statements as being normal in the academic world. After 25 years of grappling with that world, I agree, but know that most people don’t know what is “normal” in the so – called Ivory Tower. Remember, the communications within the leaked emails was defined as normal scientific banter. As Clive Crook explained,

The closed-mindedness of these supposed men of science, their willingness to go to any lengths to defend a preconceived message, is surprising even to me. The stink of intellectual corruption is overpowering. And, as Christopher Booker said, this scandal is not at the margins of the politicised IPCC process. It is not tangential to the policy prescriptions emanating from what David Henderson called the environmental policy milieu. It goes to the core of that process.

This and my experiences support the Wikipedia definition of the Ivory Tower.

From the 19th century, it has been used to designate a world or atmosphere where intellectuals engage in pursuits that are disconnected from the practical concerns of everyday life. It usually carries pejorative connotations of a willful disconnect from the everyday world: esoteric, over-specialized, or even useless research, and academic elitism.


It fits my experience as a student, graduate student and faculty member. The phrase that an idea is, “purely academic” means it is irrelevant to the real world. I can make these judgments because of work experience in government, private business, industry, and the military. I joked about retiring from academia because there was so much scar tissue on my back, there was no place left to put a knife. Academics want the scars they inflict to remain visible. Many have written for centuries about the vicious and nasty politics of universities as Battig identified.

Overall universities are a fraud. How much longer before a student at Harvard sues for false advertising? They go, expecting courses from professors, but end up with graduate students giving the class. These graduate students are indentured servants working for very low wages and little different from serfs, which is appropriate, because universities are mediaeval institutions being dragged kicking and screaming into the 18th century. If you want to see vestiges of the medieval, witness the Elizabethan gowns and hats they wear at convocations. I am no fan of Prince Philip, but maybe as a vestige of medievalism himself, he recognizes what is going on when he said universities are the only true incestuous system in our society. Almost everybody who is working there is a product. Most executives, presidents, vice presidents and Deans and middle management positions, such as department chairs, are academics. How many are given the welcoming lecture that this is not job training, other than in professional schools like law and medicine, but then never told what it is doing.

Economist John Maynard Keynes said,

Education: The inculcation of the incomprehensible into the indifferent by the incompetent.

He should know because he is the economist who convinced politicians that you get out of debt by going further in to debt. Gruber says people are too stupid to understand economics. Maybe, but they know better than Gruber or Keynes, that economics is purely and simply the balance between money coming in and going out – nothing more. What is even more galling about Gruber is, he knows the public understand this. It is why he admitted hiding the truth that with Obamacare generally more goes out than comes in for individuals and for government.

Failed Predictions; A Measure Of Disconnect.

There is a basic reason why economic predictions fail and it relates to Gruber’s assumption that people are stupid. He thinks they will react in a certain way because he, in his brilliance, has designed a system that forces their reaction. A scientific prediction is either right or wrong. When an economic prediction is made, people, especially the influential, react and modify their behavior, almost always invalidating the prediction. Welcome to the real world, Mr. Gruber. IPCC has done the same. They assumed nature and people would function and react in a certain way. Increased CO2 would result in increasing temperatures. Both were assuming ceteris paribus, but it never is because of feedbacks in nature and human behavior.

Gruber accused people of not understanding economics. He should consider that it has long been known as “the dismal science”, so-named by Thomas Carlyle, because of the failed predictions of Thomas Malthus. This provides a connection to the current failed climate predictions of the IPCC, which are neo-Malthusian. The Club of Rome expanded the idea that overpopulation would exhaust food resources and all resources. Maurice Strong, in Agenda 21, at the 1992 Rio Conference, narrowed the focus to the industrial nations. Reducing their impact was achieved by “scientifically” identifying CO2 as their exhaust and falsely claiming it was causing run away global warming.

This identification of a single variable, as almost the sole cause, also aligns climate science with economics. It is said that economic predictions fail because they try to predict the tide by measuring one wave. The IPCC have done the same thing by using the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) to oversimplify, exaggerate and misrepresent what the science actually shows.

My presentations at three Heartland Climate Conferences all spoke to the failure to communicate the skeptical side of global warming. At the first Heartland in New York, only a few in the audience came up after and acknowledged what I actually said. They were all non-scientists, but also communicators. One in particular, Marita Noon, was also in attendance at the 2014 Heartland in Las Vegas; we spent considerable time discussing the issue of helping the public understand. Marita has focused on and done a very good job with the energy sector, who often know the science is bad, but is in no position to voice or act on that. In New York, I pointed out that Al Gore’s movie was a superb piece of propaganda that would likely make Leni Riefenstahl proud. Gore employed Hollywood to produce, because they know how to manipulate people’s emotions. Gore’s Oscar was justified, based on Hollywood values.

The Enemy Within

Judith Curry wrote a revealing summary of reflections on the fifth anniversary of Climategate. It references an early Curry commentary on Steve Mcintyre’s site titled, “On the credibility of climate research.” In that article Curry provides examples of Ivory Tower thinking.


Climate tribalism. Tribalism is defined here as a strong identity that separates one’s group from members of another group, characterized by strong in-group loyalty and regarding other groups differing from the tribe’s defining characteristics as inferior. In the context of scientific research, tribes differ from groups of colleagues that collaborate and otherwise associate with each other professionally.

After becoming more knowledgeable about the politics of climate change (both the external politics and the internal politics within the climate field), I became concerned about some of the tribes pointing their guns inward at other climate researchers who question their research or don’t pass various loyalty tests.

I am grateful for Judith Curry’s experience and explanation of them. It illustrates the Ivory Tower situation well, and how those within can’t or don’t want to see what is going on. It all seems “normal”. It is another carry over of the medieval situation in universities, when they effectively won the “town and gown” battle and generally, only go to town if funding is threatened. Curry appears to have stumbled on the realities of academia and what was going on in the outside world in climate science. In the true spirit of open debate Curry commendably welcomed Steve McIntyre to her university, Georgia Tech, in 2008. Ms. Curry knew the debate wasn’t over and the science wasn’t settled. It appears the reactions Ms. Curry experienced were a surprise and a revelation. As McIntyre explained,

Readers of this blog should realize that Judy Curry has been (undeservedly) criticized within the climate science community for inviting me to Georgia Tech.

Until you push back against the tribe, you have no idea how hard and nasty they react. Often the worst reactions come from within academia. The false information on the web about me came from a former colleague. Another wrote a three-page letter, that a lawyer said was libelous, saying I had no right to be on radio, television or speaking in public.

Beyond that, it appears that I am a challenge for alarmists because they couldn’t say I wasn’t qualified, although they tried, and I was able to explain complex climate science in ways the public understood. The latter ability was honed by teaching a science credit for arts students, making a multitude of public presentations, co-authoring a climate textbook, publishing peer-reviewed articles, and teaching climatology to large (300+) classes for 25 years. I knew my colleagues saw my teaching ability as a handicap. They assume teaching and research are mutually exclusive.

I am not surprised by the inability of climate skeptics to communicate with the real world. They are, for the most part, products of the Ivory Tower. They have all the problems associated, further complicated by an inability to compete, because the climate claims of the IPCC are political, not scientific.

It is time to close most universities, or better still convert them to trade training. If society really wants more equity and an education that meets its needs, then society must consider a tradesperson of more value than an economist or most other university graduates. Most societies, that the academics would call “primitive”, prepare their children for the real world. For the most part, we don’t.

A professor is a man whose job is to tell students how to solve problems of life, which he himself has tried to avoid by becoming a professor.


A professor is one who talks in someone else’s sleep.


Education: that which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.

Ambrose Bierce

You can always tell a Harvard man – but you can’t tell him much.

Elbert Hubbard.

The reason universities are so full of knowledge is that students come with so much and leave with so little.

Marshall McLuhan

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December 12, 2014 4:40 pm

The disconnection is between Theories of Science in real Academic World and Pseudoscience trying to imply that there is a disconnection between empiri and “Real World” using Ad Hominem and Appealing to fear (both Fallacies ) in the argumentation for their new Faith. The new Faith of IPCC: Humans are Universe’s centre
Where have all the Money gone?

Tom Harley
December 12, 2014 4:57 pm

Thanks, Dr Ball, explains everything.

Tom Harley
Reply to  Tom Harley
December 12, 2014 5:39 pm

In moderation? Must be the ‘f’ word in the ABC title.

Reply to  Tom Harley
December 13, 2014 4:40 am

Yr: “It gets worse”
Google: “national geographic 5 takeaways from LIma” and you will see a picture of a coal-fired power plant with the following words beneath the image, “Clouds of smoke billow from a coal-fired power plant at the Mount Storm facility in West Virginia”.
But then, “IT GETS WORSE”!!!–a closer scrutiny of the picture reveals that “smoke” is not only rising from the plant’s “smoke”-stacks but “smoke” is also rising from the body of water in the foreground of the picture–HOLY “SMOKES”!!! You know, I can’t help but get a little “steamed-up” at this Gruberesque display of eco-claptrap, aimed at that segment of the American public–brainwashed lefties and useful-fool parvenus, consumed with status-anxiety, aping the self-serving intellectual-fads of their cynical, grasping betters–which really is stupid, just like Gruber says!
And sadly, the above, green-washed agit-prop is found in the “National Geographic” magazine–a publication once so honored and reversed that it was to be found in even the most respectable American homes, within reach of the kids (I’m not kidding!!!), despite the regular appearance of photos, gracing its pages, of actual, bare tits, and as a rare treat, from time-to-time, a little, discreet T&A, even–but, of course, never images, of white-women, in that regard (except sometimes when the “National Geographic” reproduced an old-master painting, or something really “artistic”, like that (I’m especially thinkin’ of Botticelli’s oeuvre, here)). Yep!, my generation has a lot of memories from our pubescence tied up in the former glories of what is now–it breaks my heart!–a pathetic, sell-out rag.

Reply to  Tom Harley
December 13, 2014 9:17 pm

The link works for me in Oz.

December 12, 2014 5:01 pm

excellent Tim…..when you shine….you really shine 😉

Reply to  Latitude
December 13, 2014 2:53 am

Totally agree, thanks Dr. ball.

December 12, 2014 5:04 pm

My career has been in the real world for the most part, but I have had the opportunity to both socialize with and work with higher education. And your assessment is spot on. They have no clue about the real world. Indeed, the hardest part for ANYONE going BACK to college is snobbish condescendingly ignorant professors who preach about the real world with no clue what they are talking about. I actually had one professor come up to me, and in what I can only assume was a moment of honesty and lucidity, and ask me how things worked in the real world. I did not have the time as that actually takes time to do correctly, but suggested he try to get a part time job so at least he could meet the people in real settings that he was supposed to be teaching,
I was fortunate in that I did get an education in college – but only because I went to a small college that few have heard of, run by a church, that seemed to want to inculcate spirituality as much as knowledge. So I had no grad students teaching me, and the professors who did (some of the religious order) were interested in teaching. I have also found that to be the exception, not the rule.
Gruber is a product of that environment, But the problem is he is the really stupid one. He cannot use a spanner (as my English Mates would say) or change oil in a car. And the one thing he is supposed to be knowledgeable about, he attempts to hide from his students! He had no clue that all he was doing was proving his ignorance (some would say stupidity) of the real world. Yes, a car mechanic can fool me if they want to change the fluberstein valve as I am no car mechanic. But then I know many who are, so I quickly learn never to trust that mechanic again. That is Gruber. His stupidity was in thinking that his deception would never be discovered because he was too stupid to know what he knew not.

December 12, 2014 5:09 pm

“They both claim their models are accurate and solid as the basis for draconian policy changes. They both fail to understand that playing with models in a university requires they satisfy research and scientific standards. We don’t know if they do, because so much of what they produce that is critical to proper analysis, such as computer codes, is proprietary. ”
The IPCC doesnt claim the models are accurate. It depends on the metric. For example, they acknowledge that they get many elements wrong.
The IPCC doesnt claim that the models are solid as basis for policy.
The IPCC has no CODE. the models that are summarized by the science are not proprietary.
you want GISS code for their GCM.. go get it. I did back in 2007.
you want other GCM code? Just ask, I’ve got 2 or 3.
you want to join the user groups? you can.
The IPCC doesnt run any code.It didnt develop any code.
It helps to get your facts straight

Reply to  Steven Mosher
December 12, 2014 5:30 pm

The IPCC has no code? It has a specification as to what the code should be based on.
Dated June 2013, accessed 10 minutes ago. Criterion 1 is unchanged from the earlier versions.
The Nicene Creed of the Church of Global Warmism.
My real world experience indicates Maxwell got it right, Arrhenius got it wrong.

David Holland
Reply to  Martin Clark
December 13, 2014 2:51 am

You say of the IPCC “It has a specification as to what the code should be based on”.
No it has not. According to a formal international agreement, to which 195 countries are parties, the initials “IPCC” refer only to the Panel of 195 countries. is fraudulently passing itself off as an integral part of the IPCC, using the font style of the IPCC and the Logos of the WMO and UNEP. Try setting up a website using its styles and logo and se how long it before you get a writ. tells you is hosted on a UK website and was registered by the UK governments Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils

David Holland
Reply to  Martin Clark
December 13, 2014 3:02 am

Apologies for typo – “see how long it is before you get a writ”
The real IPCC warns of scams at

Ted Clayton
Reply to  Steven Mosher
December 12, 2014 6:05 pm

The main point of the context you quote out of, is that parallels exist between the Jonathan Gruber-arc, and the path of climate science. An interesting analogy … which you rebut only at the trivia-level.
Gruber is objectively small potatoes. Like Ebola is objectively small potatoes. Yet, fascinating political parallels can be drawn between the catalytic effects of the Admin’s dealings with this pair, as well.
Parallels are not identities.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
December 12, 2014 6:51 pm

“It helps to get your facts straight”

Chip Javert
Reply to  Steven Mosher
December 12, 2014 7:44 pm

Wow Steven:
The IPCC sounds like the French Gendarmerie in Casablanca: “I’m shocked…shocked that GAMBLING is going on upstairs”.
The IOCC doesn’t claim the models are accurate…
The IPCC doesnt claim that the models are solid as basis for policy…
And then my personal favorite: “It helps to get your facts straight”
Ha ha ha ha. Whoooo Wheeee.

Reg Nelson
Reply to  Steven Mosher
December 12, 2014 8:17 pm

“The IPCC doesnt claim the models are accurate.”
Then what is their purpose?
Please show us where in the IPCC Executive Summary report they admit that the models\predictions\projections were not accurate? Nor intended to be?

Reply to  Steven Mosher
December 12, 2014 8:22 pm

After you’ve re-read the first paragraph, you could tackle the rest of the post.
You might want to check the IPCC reports too; the Summary for policy makers, for example.
See if they allude to models at all.
As for thinking they’re accurate, do you think they’re tossed in there because they think they’re useless?
Does Tim say Gruber or the IPCC runs or develops code? No, he says they “use” models.
It seems you think every post by Dr. Ball is an opportunity to vent your spleen through inimitable sneering and self-aggrandizing boasts.
How many GCM’s have you got code for? 2 or 3? Just asking!

Reply to  Steven Mosher
December 12, 2014 9:05 pm

The IPCC 2014 Summary for Policy Makers makes claims that are nuanced in the body of their report but appear to be incontrovertible in their summary. The models may have significant caveats among the details of the report, but those caveats disappear in the summary, which is, of course, intended to be a solid basis for policy. Steven, you are having your cake and eating it too. The IPCC publishes a summary for policy makers, and it purportedly is based upon models. I know you are prone to torturing words until they confess a meaning different from their content, but in this comment you exceed yourself.

Al McEachran
Reply to  Steven Mosher
December 12, 2014 11:17 pm

No it helps to question the whole sorry mess and begin to separate the wood from the trees.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
December 13, 2014 4:28 am

You [are] right the IPCC never claims to do ‘science’ but it does claim to represent the ‘best’ of the science done by others. Which suggest either this ‘best ‘ is badly misnamed or that by ‘best’ they are not talking about quality nor scientific validity but about how well the science they pick supporters what the IPCC need to keep its self alive , for without AGW they are gone . And that is before we get to the way the IPCC handles the political side where even the ‘best’ science is not good enough and needs a ‘bit of spin’ to ensure it has the right affect.
So on one hand you are right , they have no code , but they do both misuse the results of code from others. They are UN body from top to bottom and like many rule one is keep themselves going and rule two is grow . Ideas like honesty and truth come a long way down the list .

Ian W
Reply to  Steven Mosher
December 13, 2014 4:32 am

It would appear from your strawman post Steven that TIm Ball has hit the spot and that has made you feel uncomfortable.
I would be interested to see a reference where you believe the IPCC SPM makes it clear that the IPCC is using inaccurate models as a basis for the summary and recommendations.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Steven Mosher
December 13, 2014 8:00 am

Moshe, you are not this naive. They say what you say they do, but they do otherwise with the models and use the “data” from them to conjure up scary futures. They keep telling us the models are getting better and better (at what? one might ask). The models ARE used for promoting policy prescriptions. They just know that almost everyone is on board in world universities, government agencies, scientific bodies, journals, press… and they know they can turn aside, marginalize or ignore scepticism. You are a nice guy, smart in a generally agreed upon definition of the word, but deluded in the way of Orwell’s donkey.
Look at the recent Wadhams idiocy on the death spiral and models. “Prof Wadhams said: “His [model] (Maslowski’s) is the most extreme but he is also the best modeller around.” Then, having self-styled himself as an expert on the arctic since 1970 (woe for his students’ wasted education), he couldn’t let Maslowski have all the glory or upstage him so he appropriated his idea and over several media interviews progressively pushed Maslowski into the background. Maslowski became “several scientists” of which Wads was one.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
December 13, 2014 8:52 am

Trivial nitpicking, is not a virtue, but it can be fun…for some.

The IPCC doesnt claim the models are accurate. It depends on the metric.

Are you and the IPCC saying that in a similar manner the length of a board varies depending on whether inches or centimeters are used? You see the disconnect from reality Tim Ball articulated?

December 12, 2014 5:10 pm

Mr. Gruber:
Character is destiny.

Matthew R Marler
December 12, 2014 5:13 pm

Overall the essay is messy and rambling. I thought the Leni Riefenstahl reference was unfortunate on two counts: (1) it continues Dr Ball’s recent and deplorable argumentum ad Hitlerium and (2) Gore’s movie was nowhere near as beautiful, grand, awesome and powerful as Leni Riefenstahl’s work (sadly done in service to an evil cause.) Gore’s movie was a relatively engaging and thought-provoking but pedestrian assemblage of a bunch of facts and pictures highlighting what he thought of as a threat — in a manner of speaking, he started the debate on a large scale, whereas he thought that he was ending it.

David A
Reply to  Matthew R Marler
December 14, 2014 5:58 am

“Hitlerism” complaint again. Just refute the assertions without the hyperbole. Address what the man actually said, and correct it. You have failed utterly to do so.
Also this ” Gore’s movie was a relatively engaging and thought-provoking but pedestrian assemblage of a bunch of facts and pictures highlighting what he thought of as a threat — ”
Sorry you are wrong. It was a propaganda film that was based on proven falsehoods, and prohibited due to the falsehoods being so clear.

Matthew R Marler
December 12, 2014 5:16 pm

These graduate students are indentured servants working for very low wages and little different from serfs, which is appropriate, because universities are mediaeval institutions being dragged kicking and screaming into the 18th century.
A better analogy would be “apprentices”. Better still would be “interns”.

Ted Clayton
Reply to  Matthew R Marler
December 12, 2014 6:21 pm

But you have no objection to the broader characterization of universities as mediaeval institutions barely graduated from the Renaissance?
Mind you, I’m not convinced that institutions work under the principles of evolution … or even of Progressive ideology.
Yet, like Democracy & Human Rights, our higher education is as good as it gets.

Matthew R Marler
Reply to  Ted Clayton
December 12, 2014 6:43 pm

Ted Clayton: But you have no objection to the broader characterization of universities as mediaeval institutions barely graduated from the Renaissance?
I don’t write objections to every comment that I object to. Engineering, chemistry, statistics and other applied math, computer science, and medical majors of all sorts (kinesiology, for example) are unlike their medieval counterparts.

Ted Clayton
Reply to  Ted Clayton
December 12, 2014 7:16 pm

{Hard sciences} are unlike their medieval counterparts.

This is true. Yet these disciplines can be instilled very well, often faster and with better pedantic results, outside the campus setting.
I was mildly shocked to see a few days ago in the Google News Spotlight box the following item at Time:

Why Professionals Shouldn’t Be Trained By Academics

Although technical fields are less medieval on campus, we pay a high price delivering these forms of training, in that social setting.
I really do wonder at what is happening in public schools & universities, on the visible levels, and what this might say about policies & goals, not discussed openly.
I think it would better, to have it all open & on the table.

Nigel S
Reply to  Ted Clayton
December 13, 2014 1:40 am

Pedagogue / pedant confusion above by Ted Clayton. My alma mater’s engineering faculty doesn’t match Tim Ball’s description at all nor did our college supervisions (tutorials) with faculty members. That might explain why Dyson and Gates are among people funding facilities there. Our structures professor helped, as a student, to deveop the Morrison air raid shelter with Prof. Baker that saved many lives. He also introduced the lectures on plastic design of steel with the aid of Prof. Baker’s original model and his wrist watch (removed with a flourish and placed in the model shelter before he let the bomb drop).

Ted Clayton
Reply to  Ted Clayton
December 13, 2014 7:59 am

Nigel S says;

Pedagogue / pedant confusion above by Ted Clayton.

This is an interesting (telling) contention, and perhaps the optimum point on which to base the general theme of Tim Ball’s post. (Tho it wasn’t my aim to put it that way.)
Admittedly, popular trends and ‘certain circles’ will emphasize one of the Merriam-Webster definitions over others.
Pedantic training is what enables submarine and space shuttle crews to perform their missions and return their vehicle to its berth. Both steam power and flying machines were ‘saved’ by pedantics (aviation was delayed, by pedagogics); NACA, and then NASA, is an archetype sci-tech pedantic institution (as is the ‘new’ Navy; and Air Force).
Pedagogic strategy gave us the Ebola-response own-goal (and possibly a seriously under-recognized factor in the 2014 US midterms outcome).
Both *attributes* are capable of the truly exemplary & sublime. Both are susceptible to spectacular-howling cranial-rectal inversions.
It takes both to make the world go round; the trick is to know when, where and how to deploy the right approach. If it were really otherwise – that one is right/true and the other is wrong/false – one or the other would have disappeared centuries ago … and obviously, neither has.
During the latter part of the 20th C, our education system appears to have slid too much to the pedagogic.

December 12, 2014 5:23 pm

Tim –
That was excellent and then some. As a retired “Lecturer” (an official, contracted, teaching-staff position for persons who are hired to TEACH CLASSES), this all rang true. The lecturers were there FOR the students, and to offer exactly a real-world picture. Clearly you maneuvered into a situation where you were able to avoid most of the traps, and your students were accordingly fortunate to have you. Similarly, since I was teaching engineering, many of our actual “Professors” were quite able to deal with the real world as well. LOTS of good people.
But I was once lambasted by a “real academic” for being an engineer – and engineers don’t really know anything – they just make things work. I had trouble understanding this as an insult.
In contrast, Gruber types and across the same town a Harvard Business School professor bullying a Chinese restaurant proprietor (and losing the argument!) and becoming an item on Drudge!

December 12, 2014 5:24 pm

A university lecture?
Its a process where the notes of the lecturer become the notes of the student without passing through the minds of either.

December 12, 2014 5:31 pm

Industrial mass production has been applid to Academic institutions. Input money and raw materials (people) on one end. Then after 4 years the output comes out the other end. People with degrees. There is an enourmous amount of intervening waste, and the final product has a high failure rate. Generally, the larger the institution, the larger the failure rate. To be fair, the quality of the raw meterials is declining.
The same can be said for the “scientific” publishing biz. Very costly and with a very low value added.
As Dr. Ball suggests, pull the plug on the publically funded institutions. The free market will sort out the wheat from the chaff.

Leonard Lane
Reply to  bw
December 12, 2014 9:54 pm

Agree bw. The cure for socialism in education, as in everything else, is free enterprise and open, honest auditing by those with no connection to the institutions being audited.

Reply to  Leonard Lane
December 12, 2014 10:54 pm

Leonard Lane
That is a thread bomb.

Reply to  Leonard Lane
December 13, 2014 1:22 pm

Leonard Lane: A remark cannot be a thread bomb if it addresses the subject of the original post. In your case, you observed that there is a problem with socialism in education. Your remark is on topic because
1. Gruber is the co-architect of an unwanted, mandated, nationwide Socialized health care in our country, and
2. because your remark addressed education as well.
Thread bombs are totally unrelated, off topic comments with no evidence the poster even read the original column.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  bw
December 13, 2014 6:22 am

All public schools and colleges which were once great institutions of learning have morphed into …. tax-free money making “not-for-profit” profit-making businesses that are wholly funded by taxpayer dollars with said profits being distributed among their employees based solely on the employee’s job title’s pay-grade, education status and years tenure.

December 12, 2014 5:33 pm

As an academic myself, I applaud what you say here. So many bulls eyes! It has long been known that sponsored research in the humanities and social sciences, with few exceptions, is balderdash. All these insufferable mutual admiration societies. And now it is happening in the physical and natural sciences, in large part because of the damage done to science by climate change shills. I am especially of late tired of economics. These professors with their calculus and algorithms and clever flow charts, all almost worthless abstractions. Economics isn’t higher math; and neither higher math or economics has much to do with reality as most of us experience it. That’s the trick, of course. Academics try and get you to disbelieve the evidence of the senses. In the long run, this will prove to be a losing battle. But right now, they may be winning. Let’s hope just for a little while more, before he roof falls in.

Reply to  Titan28
December 13, 2014 7:25 am

Let me add a comment. As an octogenarian with both a Chemical Engineering and Law degree (both long dormant) I have seen incompetents both in academia and in “the real world”. But I have also seen that we have too many students in college/university settings who do not belong there. They simply do not have the capacity to learn at the higher level. Of course, this requires that we hire “professors” to teach them, many of which do not have t he capacity to teach at the higher level. Maybe we ought to cut our education dollars in half when it comes to “advanced learning” and concentrate on the elementary and high school areas.
It is fascinating to compare the texts my father learned from when he was in grammar school to what is taught in today’s high schools. We start the kids out way behind.

Reply to  Jim Brock
December 13, 2014 8:51 am

A little exposure of the childhood education industry to the forces of the free market would go a long way. Only in the naive, child-like world of socialists are bad ideas made good by following them to ever further extremes. Our education monopoly is producing results inversely proportional to the taxpayer money thrown at it. Academics try to deflect attention from this egregious failure by redefining the problem and working their propaganda — the very cause of the failure — into the “solution”. The dynamic is fatally flawed, and the system is now brittle. From a little crack will come a comprehensive, catastrophic, splintering. It can’t come soon enough.

Bubba Cow
December 12, 2014 5:48 pm

While I generally agree with comments, I disagree with conclusion. Publicly funded institutions should get more funding, BUT must demonstrate honesty and purpose and practical value and accountability . . . Not happening.
Harvard has more money than God and it is private. Experienced it 1st hand.
I’ll comment directly to Dr. Ball in the AM. I, too, and a retired professor, albeit in the physical sciences and there had to be a connect with reality, but I also recognize a fellow tortured soul who tried to help in an institution/enterprise that is now and has for a while been failing.
Happy Friday!

Baa Humbug
Reply to  Bubba Cow
December 12, 2014 10:48 pm

Publicly funded institutions should get more funding, BUT must demonstrate honesty and purpose and practical value and accountability . . . Not happening.

Not just not happening, can’t happen, that’s the real world.
No offence, but your naive comment shows you’ve been through the system.

Reply to  Baa Humbug
December 13, 2014 9:00 am

In the U.S. the nationalization of the student loan industry has guaranteed them limitless funds on the backs of the next generation, at least while the ponzi scheme keeps working.
Easy credit for students means that kids are graduating with degrees in Journalism, Communications or Political Science with $100k in student debt, and no career prospects other than as burger flippers or truck drivers (not that there’s anything wrong with doing either, but they can be done in the absence of a degree and the concomitant debt). The universities and colleges are rolling in dough, yet cry poor. Anybody who has studied economics in any kind of realistic setting knows that this is unsustainable. The communists are succeeding in pulling down our system of education from within. And may they soon succeed, because the result isn’t going to be what they have been expecting for the last 100 years.

Gordon Ford
December 12, 2014 5:57 pm

[Sockpuppet screen ame of ‘David Socrates’ and about 20 others. ~mod.]

December 12, 2014 6:06 pm

But…… I know I’m stupid.
During the few moments when I’m not actually displaying my stupidity, I try to pick up some knowledge.
It is said that you never stop learning, so I guess there is hope.

December 12, 2014 6:10 pm

If I lie to you and you give me your money, am I justified to take it because you were stupid enough to believe me?
No, because that is fraud. A criminal offense. However, a psychopath would feel justified in taking your money. After all, you were stupid enough to believe me, so you are the one at fault.
Apparently the government feels largely the same way. Does this mean the government believes it is OK for people to lie on tax returns for example, if the government is stupid enough to believe them?

Reply to  ferdberple
December 12, 2014 8:26 pm

It is a one way street currently, unfortunately.
The people who read this blog have the power to change that. Will you?

Reply to  ferdberple
December 13, 2014 6:52 pm

You are a gem of simple correct logic .
So, governments are made up of psychopaths .
I respectfully agree from experience .
I became suspicious at first tax return in 1952 .
I have been lied too since.
I am rather simple as i didn’t fully realize fraud was involved until 1973 .

December 12, 2014 6:13 pm

I think you missed out one thing. The academics we have today are a product of the “real world” interfering in their financial ability to sustain pure research. Which country is not guilty of reducing funding for pure research and requiring the academics to find outside funding for their research? Well that’s what they did.

michael hart
December 12, 2014 6:15 pm

“I am not surprised by the inability of climate skeptics to communicate with the real world. They are, for the most part, products of the Ivory Tower.”

I’m not sure that I agree with that. But hey, I’m trying, in my own way.
Many of the most articulate and high profile skeptics are university educated but chose not to take the career path leading to them being described as “an academic”.

Al McEachran
Reply to  michael hart
December 12, 2014 11:14 pm

Stay or go, it does not matter much. If education is about the conditioning of minds to accept the mantra it does not matter. If skepticism is not cherished, and independent thinking not encouraged then inside academia or outside the results are depressingly the same. Highly skilled dissertations of what is already accepted as truth.

December 12, 2014 6:19 pm

Perhaps Tim is minimising the contributions of the many decent academics teaching sound subjects soundly (and often fighting profit-oriented administrators to do it). But I agree with the basic thrust as it applies to so many thousands of academic fakes. BTW, anyone following the recent attack on Dr Ball by Prof Richard Betts and Dr Tamsin Edwards can find my reply to that here:

Bubba Cow
Reply to  Ron House
December 12, 2014 6:46 pm

Went to your site – I’m pretty new to this – and found I’d already read the piece (yours?) about why? I agree with lazy and all, but think that really it must come down to the crappy (some good) crime novels I read = what are the motives for murder? Money, power, attention, hatred . . .
I just struggle to find ways to show these matters to regular old folks who don’t have the science background to comprehend. As M. Crichton recommended, we need to find compelling ways to communicate this, without resorting to muckraking and name-calling.

Reply to  Bubba Cow
December 12, 2014 8:29 pm

Dr Tim wrote the “Why” piece whose critics I was criticising.;-)
The thing that simplified it for me was that the hotspot is the very mechanism itself by which the amplification of the CO2 warming is supposed to be happening. Since that is not there, the amplification isn’t there. So the theory is wrong.

Reply to  Ron House
December 12, 2014 8:47 pm

I totally agree with you – the alarmists have, IMHO, hijacked the conversation. Simply changing from global warming to climate change has made the skeptics task harder, although not impossible. Apart from the non-existence of the hot spot, there is that fact that the whole point of demonizing carbon dioxide, was that it was supposed to increase temperatures (at an alarming rate). Clearly, this hasn’t and isn’t happening, yet the average citizen hasn’t caught on.

Reply to  xyzzy11
December 12, 2014 9:30 pm

Changing the discussion from global warming to climate change makes it easier because it inspires inquiry into previous climate change, which was of course all a product of natural forces. Just the four warming periods preceding the present since the end of the Ice Age – the Holocene Climatic Optimum, Minoan, Roman, and Medieval – each less warm than its predecessors, easily debunk the proposition that current warming is unprecedented. Then it is easily demonstrated that current warming is a natural rebound from the coldest period of the past 10,000 years, the Little Ice Age (1450-1850AD). Casting current warming as climate change begs all climate change to be entered into the discussion in order to achieve context. Now we are talking about what is easily communicated, whereas global warming discussions center around belief-driven discussions about how 0.04% of the atmosphere can change our world by dancing on the head of an infrared pin. It becomes claustrophobic and stifles the introduction of historical vision.

December 12, 2014 6:19 pm

BUT must demonstrate honesty and purpose and practical value and accountability
the vast majority of students go to university hoping to get a better job on graduation. Instead of public funding, why not base the university funding on how much their graduates make?
The simplest answer is to give universities a percentage of the income tax paid by their students in the first 4 years after university (assuming the student attended for 4 years).
If the university delivers real skills and the students get good jobs, the university gets more money. If the university doesn’t deliver, it gets very little.
The government already knows what university students attend, because they use it to claim deduction while they go to school. It would be a simple matter to add some code to the income tax computers to calculate how much income the universities should get in return.
You could be sure that the universities would very quickly change how they operate and would start making sure they trained their students for the real world, and that every student got a good job on graduation.
exactly what every parent hopes for when they send the kids off to university.

Chip Javert
Reply to  ferdberple
December 12, 2014 8:06 pm

Mr Berple
What a quaint notion: Universities should exist to educate students (as opposed to being a jobs program for people with gender study degrees).
Academic labor unions will fight to the death on that one.

Leonard Lane
Reply to  ferdberple
December 12, 2014 10:02 pm

+1 Thanks

Rainer Bensch
Reply to  ferdberple
December 13, 2014 4:28 am

Soon you will see many institutions teaching homeopathy, acupuncture, Ayurveda, yoga, magic water and snake oil application, radon inhalation… you name it. Those students will have excellent income after ‘graduation’.

Ian W
Reply to  ferdberple
December 13, 2014 5:13 am

There is one problem with this idea – that is the amount society pays to individuals has very little relationship to the usefulness of that individual to society. So all universities would drop nursing and teaching degrees in favor of football, baseball and golfing degrees perhaps.

December 12, 2014 6:20 pm

The one-word explanation for the disconnect is ‘arrogance’. Students of human nature, compare and contrast the recently exposed Sony e-mails with the ClimateGate e-mails. I hope you didn’t think Climate Science or Academia had an exclusive on bad behavior. We just expected better of scientists.

December 12, 2014 6:44 pm

“There are many parallels between the Jonathan Gruber story and what has occurred in climate science.”
There is not an element of the progressive agenda that is not characterized by Gruberism.
Progressives’ vanity, that they are qualified to plan economies of hundreds of millions of people, is based on their uniform belief that the masses are stupid.
Progressives’ rejection of Judeo-Christian morality (or any objective morality) results in their uniform belief that the ends justifies the means – ie. lying to the stupid voters is not just acceptable, but necessary, for their own good.
There is nothing unique to Gruberism in healthcare, climate alarmism, or any other aspect of the progressive agenda. Gruber is a piker next to Saul Alinsky and Karl Marx.

Reply to  GaryM
December 13, 2014 7:59 pm


John Francis
December 12, 2014 7:28 pm

Tim: you have outdone yourself. Brilliant and long-past due

December 12, 2014 8:42 pm

Academia: An oasis of totalitarianism in a desert of freedom.

December 12, 2014 9:17 pm

Oh dear. Look, the US was the only civilized nation without a heathcare system – that is how we know that it makes sense to have one, and NOT because Gruber ran a model… do you see the difference to climate research? We do not have a number of earths and climates to compare to – but we have a 100 heathcare systems to compare to.

Reply to  Matt
December 12, 2014 10:21 pm

Obamacare is similar to the multi-trillion dollar welfare market that leaves Americans indigent, homeless, and unidentified. This is after premeditated abortion of around 2 million Americans annually. Before Obamacare, no one was denied medical care. Obamacare neither reduces cost nor increases availability of medical care. It disconnects policy from reality through a redistributive financial scheme backed by trillion dollar deficits. It conflates contributory and non-contributory entitlements, thereby sponsoring corruption. This is similar in method and motive to the global warming scheme, that relies on preponderance of false and exaggerated claims of skill and knowledge about the Earth system, and redistribution of wealth and creation of artificial markets (e.g. carbon credit exchange).

Reply to  n.n
December 15, 2014 9:05 am

D’oh! -That’s gonna leave a mark.

Ian W
Reply to  Matt
December 13, 2014 5:21 am

Matt – Yet strangely patients from countries with a ‘health care system’ were coming to the US to get advanced treatment. Even those from countries like the UK where the much vaunted NHS will often refuse advanced treatment as it is not considered cost effective to make it available to everyone. Now, in true progressive fashion, things will be leveled down so saving up to get advanced treatment will no longer be an option even in the US.

Reply to  Matt
December 13, 2014 10:54 am

The US has the best healthcare system in the world. When life expectancy is adjusted for violent deaths, the US has the longest. The biggest problem our health system faces is obesity and related illnesses caused by bad personal choices, and getting people to live smarter lives is not something that a national healthcare system can do. All a healthcare system can do when people don’t take care of themselves is take care of the results, not fix the problem. Many of our citizens are voluntarily joining the march of the permanently unemployable everyday, and a national health system won’t remove them from their ranks.

Reply to  majormike1
December 13, 2014 12:03 pm

“Adjusted for violent deaths…” Reminds me of Marion Barry (RIP) saying that there’s not much crime in DC if you don’t count all the murders.

Reply to  majormike1
December 13, 2014 1:26 pm

Preventing violent deaths is not part of the healthcare system. When you judge a healthcare system, you want to see how well these perform those things under their control. How poorly society does its functions of promoting the conduct of life in a civilized way is not a healthcare responsibility. Your inability to see the difference is a good illustration of the shortcomings of our educational system.

Reply to  Matt
December 13, 2014 1:55 pm

And you know one that works? And one that works better than the old US one? Certainly not the single payer ones that Gruber and co love. I couldn’t cite you one.

David A
Reply to  Matt
December 14, 2014 6:09 am

Hum, I have lived in the S for all of my life. It seams to me we always had a health care system.

December 12, 2014 9:19 pm

Dr. Ball, very astute observations, thank you, as an engineer with many decades making things that “actually work” I have a hard time envisioning myself in an academic environment.
The fastest way to silence an argument in the engineering world is; “see for yourself, it works”, of course the corollary is; “holy cr-p it does not do what you claimed”. I have a few more in the “win” column than the “loss” column, but I freely admit I have come up with a few “stinkers” in my engineering career. The wisdom comes when you admit to yourself that you have created a “stinker”. Of course in engineering it’s a whole lot easier because the “laws of physics” are always the referee, and no how much I might protest, the “laws” are always wiser than me, but I am gaining ground steadily, I figure in another century or so I will have mastered all of them….
Best of luck, Cheers, Kevin

James McCown
December 12, 2014 9:45 pm

Very well said, Tim. As a fellow refugee from academia, I agree wholeheartedly.

Larry Wirth
December 12, 2014 9:51 pm

Give Gruber a break? Start with compound fractures of all four limbs and his skull.
[Now, now. Not needed. .mod]

David A
Reply to  Larry Wirth
December 14, 2014 6:20 am

Why this comment? Gruber openly admitted to what Obama himself was the leader in; being deceptive about what the ACA really did in order to pass it. Grubber simply articulated what Obama engendered with all his lies regarding Obamacare. (This is what the republicans should be articulating every day)
Clearly Obama believed it necessary to lie to the public in order to pass this bill. Clearly he was following not just Grubbers architectural input into the Bill, and also following Grubber’s recommendation on the likely success of KNOWN lies to allow the bill to pass. Clearly Obama considers the general public easily mislead.
The only difference between Grubber approach to this bill and the President’s, is that Obama never got caught in public articulating the reasons he lied about the ACA.

December 12, 2014 9:55 pm

Ball’s situation is common to many professors who don’t ever realize what a professor’s function is: that of a questioner of students beliefs. If he would have done that successfully, his students would d have learned discrimination, which is the best you can hope for.
Luckily for me, I realized that when I had teachers like Ball, I only needed to play the game, because that all they thought about.

Reply to  trafamadore
December 12, 2014 10:11 pm

Another apologist for Gruber I see. Too bad you’re one of the ‘teachers’ who have had the CAGW scare colonize your mind. Given your projection, there’s no doubt that what you accuse Dr Ball of doing is exactly what you do.
If I was your student, no doubt you would flunk me. Because from reading your comments, it looks like I’ve forgotten more than you ever learned about the climate debate, and you could not stand having someone like me in your class. The other students would learn the truth — that you’re just whistlin’ Dixie.
So project away. We know you’re really writing about yourself.

Reply to  dbstealey
December 13, 2014 2:36 pm

dbstealey, well maybe the man has a point.
What about all of the credit hours spent answering “hypotheticals” by professors to show that you – yes you! Y-O-U – would throw one person in the boat out to the sharks, in order to save the other three. You see, there really is no right or wrong. Add alcohol and Schedule 1 substances for four years, and you have what some would term “brain damage.”

Reply to  trafamadore
December 12, 2014 10:25 pm

A questioner of student beliefs? When I attended a class, I was there to learn, and the belief I had was that the professor had something to teach me. If all he had was questions about my beliefs, I would have realized that the professor didn’t know a damned thing and was wasting my time. Beliefs are wonderful if you want to believe in something that can’t be demonstrated factually and rationality, like religion and anthropogenic climate change. Beliefs? We don’t need no stinking beliefs.

Reply to  trafamadore
December 12, 2014 10:28 pm

A student is there to LEARN. “Question his belief’s”????? Yeah. If the “student” is there for a “education” in “womyn’s studies” or “gender education” or “arts” …
But for something valuable?

Reply to  trafamadore
December 12, 2014 10:51 pm

So, you suggest that the student should be the teacher? A blank slate educational system seems like an expensive proposition, but would explain the progressive expense of the American education system which produces a product that lags behind other first-world nations.
I actually agree with “question beliefs”, which can have both positive and negative implications. A teacher’s role is to orient a student. Whether it is a “religious” or “secular” education, the teacher inculcates his preferred faith (i.e. universal or extra-universal knowledge) and religion (i.e. moral philosophy), as well as transfer basic knowledge and skills.

Reply to  trafamadore
December 13, 2014 3:35 am

Yup, maybe correct for a student attending a mickey mouse university, studying a mickey mouse course, whose only prospects for a future purpose lie in abandoning all critical thinking in favour of desperately needed social acceptance, noisily propagandising one woolly, baseless cause or another in order to drown out their own feelings of impotence and hypocrisy :-).

Ian W
Reply to  trafamadore
December 13, 2014 5:33 am

Ball’s situation is common to many professors who don’t ever realize what a professor’s function is: that of a questioner of students beliefs.

And you would immediately disabuse the students of their belief that you were there to teach them wouldn’t you. You would just point them at the library and let them pick up what they can?
A good professor may not teach in the way a middle-school teacher has to teach – but is expected to fan the flames of the students’ innate curiosity so that they start to search for knowledge and understanding – with guidance on where to look from the professor.

Gunga Din
Reply to  trafamadore
December 13, 2014 7:12 am

Ball’s situation is common to many professors who don’t ever realize what a professor’s function is: that of a questioner of students beliefs.

….as long as they don’t question the professor’s beliefs.
(I wonder what it’s like in Mann’s classroom?)

Al McEachran
December 12, 2014 11:07 pm

Dr. Tim Ball, thank you for a blast of fresh air to clear out the cobwebs. Pity we cannot do anything about the spiders.

December 12, 2014 11:24 pm

Perhaps the problem with the progressive education system is that students hesitate to question the established orthodoxy. They have faith that the progressive orthodoxy is superior to the traditional orthodoxy. They would rather improve their self-esteem, than their capacity for critical thought.
For example, they don’t consider why science is a philosophy that is necessarily constrained to a limited frame of reference in time and space. Or how the scientific method is designed to enforce that constraint, but is routinely violated as teachers, scientists, politicians, celebrities, etc. make claims in the universal and even extra-universal domains. They do not discern between cause and effects, and elevate correlation to divine revelation. They defer to argument by authority, and accept expert judgement on faith.
Marx was wrong. The opiate of the masses is not religion or moral philosophy, but dissociation of risk promised by mortal gods and experts.

M E Wood
December 12, 2014 11:35 pm

Here is a little essay on Education. by Dorothy L Sayers When dismissing mediaevaL universities remember that these subjects were what were required.
On another tack. Is Dr Tim Ball referring to a University as a teaching institution. The kind of Universities I have had contact with were institutions for research and the teaching came by lecturers who researched topics themselves. Graduate students who knew all the latest material, having just graduated themselves and so could teach the first years who were doing one year on that subject. for part of the time
Professors were heads of Department and were august individuals who researched, were experts in their field and wrote the books, set the curricula and taught the undergraduates in the third year in tutorials when they were nearing the end of their study courses…
These universities were not set up as teaching institutions like Teachers Colleges and Polytechnics. Things may have changed in the England and Scotland since then but that is what I think of as a University -So are we all talking about different things here. ?
What are U.S Universities usually like?

Reply to  M E Wood
December 13, 2014 2:14 am

It puzzles me too – I often read diatribes here against the arts/humanities, presenting them as a fatuous waste of time and their academics as a bunch of disconnected losers, which bear no relationship to my experience across several faculties of a few universities on my way to a PhD in Greek tragedy (yes, diatribists, I feel your scorn). My studies were about as medieval as you could get – Greek, Latin, ancient and medieval history, old and middle English, literature, philosophy, philosophical logic and a couple of years of pure mathematics, topped off with a graduate diploma in computer science (one does have to get a job at some point).
The university you describe is the one I attended – the professor was top dog, always internationally renowned in the field and often took classes, even first year ones to get a feel for who was coming through the ranks. I was employed for a while as a casual tutor, but graduate students were never let anywhere near a lecture hall – the tenured staff kept that well and truly to themselves because they enjoyed their subjects, enjoyed communicating, and relished the tussle when challenged. There was no overt ideology – the only mentions of Marxism and feminism and their ilk were as critical perspectives.
Without continual re-evaluation of the past, we would soon lose all sense of ourselves as an evolved and evolving society, to our great detriment. The modern university has ruined itself by trying to be practical and relevant. The medievalists had it more right than the modernists.

December 13, 2014 12:34 am

Emotion when not balanced with reason

Reply to  Roy
December 13, 2014 4:58 am

Interesting movie. It uses fear, pride and demonization to assert USA superiority to try to defeat the fear, pride, and demonization of Nazi Germany. However, one cannot blame Hollywood for stepping up the rhetoric to help protect the world from Fascism. It is just ironic that the movie uses what it condemns.
In the end, reason triumphed, in that the bigger guy won, as he usually does. Hitler should have known that.
In the CAGW field, a newcomer trying to use reason will quickly get trashed as being a denier of ‘facts’, and the ‘scientific consensus’. Now who is now the bigger guy in this debate? I would say the Internet is, as used by Anthony Watts to educate, not subjugate the masses. The Internet facilitates a two way conversation, not a one way conversation. The newcomer trying to use reason eventually figures it out that the CAGW alarmist Internet sites conduct one way conversations. They come to WUWT to read stimulating essays and analysis, which are then debated by all comers.
Thank you Tim. I must confess that I sat in an audience listening to you on climate change way back in 1995, and I was mad as heck about your views. You used data from the Hudsons Bay archives in Winnipeg, over 400 years long if I recall. Of course, I ‘knew’ you were wrong, as I trusted ‘scientists’ then.
After discovering Steve McIntyre’s evisceration of CAGW ‘statistics’ on the Internet, and then the Climategate emails, and now yourself again, I have learned a hard lesson. I must listen to the debates, look at the data, then think about what it says to me. It is a relief to be a witness of the use of reason over emotion. I get each morning with a smile on my face, and after checking the hockey results, I get a cup of coffee and go to WUWT to read the latest. Tim, I really appreciate the hard work you have done over the years, and i apologize for trashing your views way back then. My Ignorance is not an excuse, but it is all I have to explain it.

December 13, 2014 1:12 am

In the U.S. we accept many students into Universities who are not qualified.
We graduate many students who are not educated for any available job and we saddle them with crushing student loan debt.
When we need skilled laborers or technical specialists we often need to find immigrants who were trained elsewhere.
The trend toward universal academic college education supports the abuse described by Dr. Ball but badly serves our nation and our young.

December 13, 2014 1:36 am

The problem isn’t funding sources – Harvard is largely privately funded and Oxford is largely State funded.
The problem is the lack of accountability of academics. They are judged by their peers who they judge back. It’s a back-scratching club.
In Medieval times the “Academics” were very much in the real world – they were directly accountable. Literacy was lower and so “Academics” were used as diplomats and agricultural experts. Kings and Princes on Procession would stop at Universities and Monasteries and discuss their issues directly. No-one else had buildings fit for a King.
How often do Presidents and Prime Ministers socialise with academics now?
And how often do academics take full responsibility for their own funding now?
Medieval institutions worked. Don’t disparage them.

Reply to  MCourtney
December 13, 2014 8:08 pm

“The problem isn’t funding sources – Harvard is largely privately funded ”
This is deeply misguided, most of the current social elite are tied to debt, government funding or contracted through government sources. The Ivy League, as just one enclave….are deeply tied to statist incomes and agenda. That’s why they leftist, Keynesians, Climate Central planners and advocates.

December 13, 2014 2:26 am

Thanks to Dr. Ball for this wonderful essay. In my opinion (worth every bit of what you paid for it) I think this may be one of the top ten essays at WUWT ever. No, really, I think it very timely, informative, and relevant to the topic of science in general and “university science” in particular.
As one involved in education, I believe that the entirety of the American education system (at all levels) has degenerated into near futility over these last 50 or more years. It is very telling that most of the superstars of innovation and business (think the founders of some of our largest corporations) were college dropouts. It is also very telling that universities today have speech codes. My god, really? The university is all about conforming to a herd mentality — not the pursuit of knowledge no matter where that takes you.
I suppose there was never any hope after the university became mostly a government funded bureaucracy.

Pat Smith
December 13, 2014 3:29 am

Great article but I think the comment ‘you can tell a ….. man anywhere but you can’t tell him much’ was originally aimed at Balliol College, Oxford (founded 1263). In additon, Asquith described Balliol men as possessing “the tranquil consciousness of an effortless superiority”. I’ll get back to my pipe and slippers now.

Keith WillshawStudies
December 13, 2014 3:48 am

Well as an engineer I would argue that not everyone who goes to University or teaches in one fits the mould as described here. However a great many do and they re mostly in the higher echelons of the faculty. There is no doubt that in the faculties I attended those of us doing practical subjects were denigrated as mere tin bashers (mechanical engineers) sparkies (electrical engineers) or smellies (chemical engineers)

December 13, 2014 3:54 am

Let’s look at some real data instead of model results. And let me, unlike the nuts, place my one assumption first: If there is indeed global warming, it must be manifest in melting of polar ice caps and thus sea-level rise.
Given that it is obvious that with increasing world population, and thus increased burning of hydrocarbons over the past, say 150 years warming must be occurring at an increasing rate.
One of the longest data records for seal level rise is from Battery Park at the south tip of Manhattan. Here is the link:
This chart clearly shows the change in sea level elevation is a **straight line** increase. Those data not only do not support Anthropogenic Global Warming, the completely invalidate the idea. Earth population has increased from about 1 billion to 7 billion over the time period covered by the chart. If global warming was induced by man those data should show a clear trend of increasing temperature. The strict linear increase in seal level refutes any conclusions that global warming is man-made.
Debate over.
Technical comments?

Reply to  franktrades
December 13, 2014 6:22 am
Evan Jones
Reply to  franktrades
December 14, 2014 4:03 am

There could be a connected effect, but with continually diminishing returns (like CO2).

December 13, 2014 4:02 am

The sin is no longer that a scientist was wrong, because that was always a forgivable mistake and a risk you took, but that they now lie through their teeth to us while at the same time giving us the good old steady eye contact of truth. It’s deliberate, premeditated and totally without any guilt for ruthlessly exploiting the implicit trust in them. We will be punished for that.

December 13, 2014 4:30 am

The dreadful impact of CO2 alarmism on lives, landscapes, economies, politics, education, and international relations may not yet have passed the worst, and so it behoves us to try to account for the astonishing success of this particular piece of millenarial scaremongering. I think Tim Ball’s work in this area is outstanding, and the above post makes another excellent contribution. The more insight we can obtain into this ‘Greatest Scare Ever’, the greater the chance of postponing or defusing the next one.

December 13, 2014 4:55 am

EXCELLENT column!! It explains so much and hits the nail on the head.

December 13, 2014 6:36 am

Thank you Dr. Ball, the article is essential as it addresses a key structure of Green authoritarianism. Without the corrupted academic enclave a traditional leftist claim to intellectual authority (Gruberism) falls away.

December 13, 2014 7:27 am

What Gruber said about democratic voters (being stupid) about Obamacare applies exactly to climate change.

December 13, 2014 8:22 am

To my knowledge there is no university or college that offers a course in common sense. If they did they would have to bring a person from outside to teach it.

I liked that barb, Dr. Ball. However, those with common sense couldn’t be bothered teaching it to those incapable of learning it. After all, they have common sense ;o)

Reply to  H.R.
December 13, 2014 9:24 am

Should still be Quote of the Week.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  H.R.
December 13, 2014 12:27 pm

I don’t know about a course in common sense, but maybe one on critical thinking. But, that would be heresy, as it would mean questioning the professors themselves. The whole system seems to be more one of rote learning rather than thinking for oneself.

December 13, 2014 8:34 am

Here is a concise video with legal analysis
Having billed taxpayers untold millions for his alleged work, and then calling his clients stupid, Professor Jonathan Gruber now appears before the clients’ representatives to answer some simple questions, starting with proof of his alleged work (aside from invoices, also undisclosed).
Gruber refuses to disclose his work. Any of it. The client-taxpayers won’t see one document.
Thing is, Gruber doesn’t have any earthly idea as to why he’s refusing such a reasonable client request. He gives a 3 year-old’s answer: just because.
It’s downhill from there…
Q. Do you have documents?
A. Do I own documents?
Q. Do you HAVE documents?
A. Yeah, I have documents.
Q. And you’re not willing to give them to us?
A. I have all sorts of documents. I have a piece of paper in front of me. I don’t understand–
Q. Documents that relate to the questions I just asked you, Mr. Gruber.
A. I have—
Q. Do you not understand the question?
Q. Who owns those documents? Who paid for them?
A. I’m not sure.
[4.2 million in state and federal money was paid Gruber for his national health care support. .mod]

December 13, 2014 8:39 am

Ah, but Gruber’s own economic model of his own health care projections (er, predictions) model is failing within 18 months of its start date: Now vermont is getting screwed by the same program that (democrats) in Colorado paid for!
By Bruce Parker | Vermont Watchdog
Jonathan Gruber’s health care forecasting is failing in Colorado as Vermont’s Gov. Peter Shumlin prepares to use the economist’s math for single-payer health care.
As Vermonters anxiously await a Gruber-modeled financing plan for Green Mountain Care, modeling done for Colorado’s health exchange by Jonathan Gruber Associates has proven wildly erroneous.
In 2011, following Colorado’s decision to set up a state health exchange for Obamacare, the state hired Gruber to forecast enrollment trends from which the state and federal government could estimate costs.
According to a presentation delivered to the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange Board on Sept. 16, 2011, and provided to, Gruber predicted Medicaid enrollment in Colorado would grow from 440,000 enrollees in 2011 to 710,000 enrollees in 2016.
Actual 2014 data reported by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing shows the number of people enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program has grown to more than 1.1 million — a miscalculation of about 400,000 enrollees.
The miscalculation is growing rapidly, as the state reported 12,533 new Medicaid sign-ups in the two-week period between Nov. 15 and Nov. 30.
“Medicaid and CHP+ enrollments over the last few weeks show that we are still finding and enrolling low-income Coloradans into coverage,” Susan Birch, executive director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, said in a Dec. 2 news release.
The errors are significant for Vermont. While Shumlin has denounced Gruber for video statements disparaging American voters and rejecting government transparency, he has continued to defend Gruber’s math.
In November, Shumlin said Gruber would continue to serve as “a calculator” for single-payer financing options, despite not receiving additional pay. State health officials assert Gruber is one of only a few people in the nation capable of providing customized health care forecasting data for states. Importantly, the Gruber Microsimulation Model (GMSIM) used for Colorado also is being used to create financing scenarios for Green Mountain Care.
“His models can’t be relied on for policy. They’re not ready for prime time,” Linda Gorman, director of the Health Care Policy Center at the Independence Institute in Colorado, told Vermont Watchdog.
Gorman, an economist who serves as a member of Colorado’s Blue Ribbon Commission for Health Care Reform, recalled that the Gruber Microsimulation Model was hailed as a breakthrough methodology for forecasting health care data, despite its use of surveys and small samples to predict Coloradans’ health insurance choices.
“They said the great thing about using the Gruber model instead of the standard econometric model is that we’re going to use a lot of survey data. They basically set up a representative population and said this is how people behave based on surveys. That kind of thing works really badly for a small state like Colorado,” Gorman said.
According to Gorman, a miscalculation of 400,000 people is a costly error since each Medicaid enrollee costs taxpayers about $2,000. Gruber’s Medicaid enrollment error means Colorado’s cost estimates for Medicaid expansion are presently off by about $800 million.
“Remember, they were trying to make the law come in as saving money — so they’ve way underestimated the cost of insuring these additional Medicaid people,” she said.
Medicaid enrollment wasn’t the only error in Gruber’s presentation. Gruber also wrongly estimated sign-ups for the state’s subsidized and unsubsidized commercial plans under the Affordable Care Act.
According to Gruber’s simulations, Colorado could expect to have 470,000 people enrolled in the subsidized plan and 150,000 in the unsubsidized plan by 2016. However, actual data for 2014 shows 75,067 individuals are enrolled in the exchange subsidized plan and 52,165 in the exchange unsubsidized plan — a underestimate that indicates paying customers aren’t signing up through the state exchange.
“So far, the data suggest that the exchange is a lot less popular than predicted,” Gorman said.
“What that is showing is the model has not so far done a very good job of predicting enrollment in these health benefit exchanges that were supposed to be the centerpiece of Obamacare.”
The Gruber Microsimulation Model also provided flawed predictions to the federal government. A 2012 article in Forbes notes that Gruber erred in predicting that insurance premiums would go down once the Affordable Care Act became law:
Before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act became law, Gruber published a widely-cited analysis, using his Gruber Microsimulation Model, in which he asserted that in 2016, young people would save 13 percent, and older people 31 percent, on their insurance premiums. Gruber’s numbers were used to rebut an October 2009 analysis from PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which projected that non-group (a.k.a. individual-market) premiums would increase by 47 percent over the same period.
By 2012, however, Gruber reversed course and began informing Wisconsin, Minnesota and Colorado that the law would increase non-group premiums by 19 percent to 30 percent, according to the Forbes article.
Since early November, when a series of Jonathan Gruber videos revealed the economist crafted policy in a “tortured way” to conceal costs, several Vermont lawmakers have attacked the credibility of Gruber as a calculator for Vermont’s new single-payer health program.
This week, Gruber was called to Capitol Hill to explain his comments to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. While the MIT professor apologized for making “glib” and “demeaning” comments, he did not suggest his work was compromised.
Gruber’s continued defense of his consulting work didn’t escape Darcie Johnston, founder of Vermonters for Health Care Freedom, a group that opposes single-payer health care.
“Jonathan Gruber’s answers to the Oversight Committee should give Vermonters pause. Governor Shumlin should fully terminate Prof. Gruber from his Vermont contract. Now that Gov. Shumlin and Vermonters have seen how deceitful and calculating he is, there is no way to trust his professional judgment or his economic modeling,” Johnston said in an email to Vermont Watchdog.
Contact Bruce Parker at

Bubba Cow
Reply to  RACookPE1978
December 13, 2014 9:07 am

and we don’t even have recreational marijuana to help us through this nightmare! /sarc
But I’m looking forward to the New Year when Shumlin and his PSB appointees will return here to the Northeast Kingdom to identify more ridgelines to doze for more whirligig failures, infrasound broadcasts, radioactive waste pits in Mongolia all in the name of saving us from CO2 pollution. Green Mountain State? Nope, Steel Mountain State. Coming soon to all our neighborhoods.

December 13, 2014 8:51 am

It really depends on which university and faculty folk are talking about. In mine teaching is the majority of our work and research less so (much to the chagrin of our VP, as research brings in big bucks). Oh, and before anyone gets on their high horse I was a field engineer for a couple of decades in the petrochemical industry, starting out as an apprentice craftsman prior to going into academia. There is always a balance in any faculty between teaching, research and management. Different faculties have differing balances depending upon their field. We should be careful not to generalise about higher education and thus seem anti-academic, because that just makes one sound like an ill informed, ideologically driven, conspiracy nuts.

December 13, 2014 8:58 am

Interestingly universities and academics are also the first thing fascists, communists, religious zealots and other assorted unpleasant dictators and tyrants go after.

Silver ralph
Reply to  beesaman
December 13, 2014 10:38 am

Not surprising, because universities are always uber-left wing.
In the UK, the Unite Against F*scism (UAF) political pressure and demonstrations group is organised and run by the university lecrurers union, NAFTHE. And what is wrong with that, you ask?
Only that UAF are the biggest bunch of f*scist thugs you have ever seen. They are completely liberal a free-thinking, as long as you supplicate yourself before them, and do exactly as they say. There is nothing quite as f*scist as a liberal on his or her soapbox.

December 13, 2014 9:05 am

Tim Ball,
Your post is a cry out for debate everywhere whether in either private or public colleges/universities or in private enterprise or in gov’t and its related bureaucratic bodies and institutes/labs or in NGOs of any kind.
You seem to call for a free marketplace of ideas.
We have both of those things in abundance. The world of free societies is a very argumentative place right now and has been since the renaissance. The situation remains.
I think your post just confirms that the free market place of ideas exists and it does work whether in climate focused science or not.
The context of your post extends your frequent focus and storyline about some kind of implication of a nefarious and ubiquitous movement lead by a handful of intellectuals leading an attack on the free maketplace of ideas in the western modern culture. I think that context of yours is erroneous and is an extremely bad strategy intellectually. That kind of context of yours, which is focused on climate change movement/cause, is as false and inane as the context held by Mann, Oreskes and Lewandowsky that climate focused skeptics are a nefarious and ubiquitous movement/cause led by hidden greedy selffish intellects. With that context, which I think is held by you, then my view is that you are an intellectual mirror image of Mann, Oreskes and Lewandowsky. Dead-ended with mirror images.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  John Whitman
December 13, 2014 10:02 am

The free marketplace of ideas with regard to climate exists here, on WUWT, and on various other Skeptic sites, and thank god. Because its been pretty thoroughly trashed elsewhere, especially in academia. There is no level playing field, and hasn’t been for quite some time. It has nothing to do with your straw man “handful of intellectuals leading an attack”, which is absurd. The closest description I have seen of the Climatist movement is that it is a memeplex. The things driving it are numerous, but its sheer size means that it barrels along under its own weight.

Reply to  John Whitman
December 16, 2014 1:05 pm

Bruce Cobb on December 13, 2014 at 10:02 am
– – – – –
Bruce Cobb,
I disagree with your inference that a level playing field is relevant or important in any significant intellectual engagement / discourse / debate on climate focused science. Freedom to speak and freedom to freely associate is the marketplace of ideas and it required nothing else to succeed like it has in skeptical reasoning on climate focused science. It will require nothing else to continue its success. No rules of intellectual engagement apply. It is silly to paint as underdogs the intellectuals who are substantially critical (skeptical) of the observationally invalidated theory of significant climate change by CO2 from fossil fuel. It is likewise silly to paint as intellectually dominant all those scientists supporting the observationally invalidated theory of significant climate change by CO2 from fossil fuel.
The marketplace of ideas includes the institutions of higher learning. It is messy and partly fossilized there but it is there.

Reply to  John Whitman
December 16, 2014 3:57 pm

Your observation hits the mark. My wife has no interest in natural climate change, but her questions often inspire insights into concepts that, upon analysis, make more sense than the “experts”.

Reply to  John Whitman
December 17, 2014 1:53 pm

majormike1 on December 16, 2014 at 3:57 pm
– – – – – – –
Yes, as you pointed out, questions from those outside of a study area can be quite penetrating to those involved in the study area.

Silver ralph
December 13, 2014 9:28 am

I used to be in awe of professors. But having been 30 years in the real world, and having had many arguments with them, I hold them in nothing but contempt.
It never ceases to amze me how they can see every leaf and twig, in the finest of detail, but have never seen a forest and have no idea what one is.

December 13, 2014 10:29 am

How much does the artificiality of tenure enable the development of the arrogant personality of Gruber’s intellect, the Gruber-glibberish.

Dean Bruckner
December 13, 2014 10:32 am

Here’s another: “The reason academic disputes are so bitter is because so little is at stake.”
And as for Harvard, just this week we witnessed the perfect storm of moral decadence, political correctness, organizational enablement, contemptible wussiness, academic irrelevance and illogical emotionalism. You just *cannot* make this stuff up:
Never has the saying of William F. Buckley been more spot on: “I’d rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.” No further explanation is needed.

December 13, 2014 10:53 am

Some random thoughts:
My main take-away from this article is that when scientific data is used to guide public policy, it needs more demanding validation than mere peer review and academic acceptance. When scientific pronouncements are used to drive million/billion/trillion dollar policy decisions like health, energy, or climate policy, the science becomes public financial data. The good ole boys club is not adequate to ensure its reliability. Scientific content which is a material factor in public policy decisions needs to be subjected to the same type of controls as corporate financial data, including transparency, independence, version control, and scrutiny by audit.
Some other observations, just because I have some first hand experience around the periphery of this topic –
o About a decade ago, when completing my masters thesis as a part time brick & mortar student and full time business professional, I was struck by the antiquated nature of the university bureaucracy. I was very frustrated that I had to take time off of work and drive to campus and trudge all around the property from office to office in order to accomplish things that I should have been able to do online in minutes. The school was at least a decade behind the business sector. A competitive business still clinging to these practices at the time would have failed. I suspect that the ivory tower is enabled only because it is backstopped by public funds.
o My current university, an online school, emphasizes the scholar-practitioner role that they target for their PhD graduates. They’re apparently not looking to perpetuate the ivory tower. Over time, online and global competition for students may offer a solution to these problems.
o OTOH, my graduate professors have all taught their own classes and (AFAIK) graded their own papers, so that part of this article is somewhat overstated.
o Years ago, I had a friend who was an academic researcher whose research was funded by federal grants and referred to scientists who left academia for business as, “joining the dark side”. At the time, I didn’t think much of it, but as I have considered the nature of government in the intervening years, I have frequently thought back to that comment. It is very odd that scientists whose livelihoods depend on tax payer compulsion apparently view scientists who live by voluntary exchange as being members of the dark side.

December 13, 2014 11:06 am

Gruber update:
Embattled MIT professor Jonathan Gruber was subpoenaed last night for a sweeping collection of Obamacare documents — including records showing how much he was paid for work he performed for state and federal governments — by the same Congressional committee that berated him for more than four hours on his “stupidity of the American voter” comments.
“As one of the architects of ObamaCare, Jonathan Gruber is in a unique position to shed light on the ‘lack of transparency’ surrounding the passage of the President’s health care law, however he has so far been unwilling to fully comply with the Oversight Committee’s repeated requests,” said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in a statement. “This week, Dr. Gruber repeatedly refused to answer several key questions, including the amount of taxpayer funds he received for his work on ObamaCare. The American people deserve not just an apology, but a full accounting, which Dr. Gruber must provide.”
On that note, a new You Tube channel will up and running shortly:
Best Evidence (presented by an attorney licensed to practice before the Supreme Court and former engineer).
Stay tuned.

December 13, 2014 11:23 am

I get a sad chuckle over all of the hub-bub around Gruber. He spoke the truth, then and now.
When he said the American voters were stupid, he was absolutely correct. So now they’ve been told they were stupid, and got stumped, what are they upset about?…Not about being duped. They’re upset because they’ve been called stupid. Amazing. And the politicians are doing everything they can to paint him as the bad guy…when THEY were the ones that cajoled the voters into buying off on the healthcare insanity hook, line, and sinker.
I keep asking my liberal friends “What have you got against Gruber?”…and they all respond with how terrible his is. For what reason?…not because he and some politicians got the best of them. No. They’re upset because they’ve been insulted by him. They literally cannot see the forest through the trees.
As for this part of the post: “They both claim their models are accurate and solid as the basis for draconian policy changes. They both fail to understand that playing with models in a university requires they satisfy research and scientific standards. ”
No…it does not, as evidenced by both the success of both subjects. If there WERE such a requirement, we wouldn’t be having either conversation. We’ve been dealing with model bullcrap for 30yrs now, none of which has been validated, and yet we march on towards economic destruction (in BOTH camps).
They don’t “…fail to understand…” anything, in fact, they’ve played the game (and us) exceedingly well, and continue to do so. Put another way, if they’re so dumb, and we’re so smart, why do they keep winning?
While I agree that I’d like model-verification to be a requirement, this is very much like asking the foxes lined up around the henhouse, with feathers on their lips, to please do a better job of guarding the chickens.
As they say back in Massachusetts: “Fugedaboudit”.

Joe Crawford
December 13, 2014 11:38 am

Thanks Dr. Ball.
The universities, or at least most of them have become bureaucracies C. Northcote Parkinson would be quite proud off, totally removed from and unrelated to their original purpose.
Several years ago, while living in Colorado, the University failed to give tenure to the professor voted by the students as the ‘best teacher’ for the previous three years. The excuse given by the president was that they were a ‘research institution’ and not a ‘teaching institution’. I thought that was interesting, to say the least, since a good portion of our state tax money went to the university with the stated objective of them educating our young people. I was quite surprised when no one else seemed to complained.

Reply to  Joe Crawford
December 13, 2014 12:00 pm

“State” universities are getting less and less of their budget from taxpayers these days, and thus practically all professors are expected to bring in external funds for research and educational programs. It’s great when faculty win “best teacher” awards, but was this person pulling their weight in other areas? I would want to see the person’s resume before harshly criticizing the university.

Reply to  Joe Crawford
December 13, 2014 12:41 pm

I’m surprised the university (I believe it is the same one to which you refer, near our tax-supported institutions of NREL, NIST (formerly Bureau of Standards), and bastions of “climate science,” NCAR & NOAA?) did not loose its accreditation by protecting the tenure of a certain widely publicized “professor” who was proven not to have a PhD nor a descendant of Native Americans as he claimed. How many other professors in the school have no credentials? The lack of any censure whatsoever for the findings suggests the school has many suspect “professors” – perhaps even in the fields of science & engineering. The faculty & administration needs a complete credential audit, with threat of loosing accreditation, to restore its credibility in any field for which it awards degrees!

December 13, 2014 12:07 pm

A major contributor to the decline of Aristotle’s philosophy of science (and the integrity thereof) was renaming Political and Social “Studies” as “Sciences.” Questionable too is giving equal weight to “pseudo-sciences” (those that largely rely on statistical inference – the part which makes them appear to be science, but which do not produce reliable results) like Psychology and Meteorology, though I don’t dispute they belong in the college of science as opposed to art. I recently read about 30,000 students graduate per year in the US with degrees in Psychology, but that the total number of those earning a living in the US as Psychologists is about 300,000. I know many divert into medicine, pharmacology, research and the like, but clearly supply is well in excess of demand. This is just one example of why just any old “college degree” is no guarantee of a good career or even a job, and why I differentiate between practical and impractical choices of major to those entering college. A corollary problem is a recent trend to award BA’s (vs BS’s) in sciences like biology – hard to understand why, but it seems to be based on lowering standards (i.e., course work/hours, no labs).
I also agree with Kate @ 8:51a. There is a clear inverse relationship between spending on education and the results (on absolute AND per capita bases), both of which are measurable over time and the inverse relationship is demonstrable. Ergo, drastic reductions in Federal spending and subsidies on education will improve the lot of all citizens in both dimensions. My recommendation would be to allow no undergraduate degrees in education be offered, and only teachers with degrees in the subject they teach would be employable, with a graduate degree in education optional (or perhaps required). Also, the term “science” would be limited only to the real stuff (chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics, etc.,) and “studies” restored to the subjects that are just that.

December 13, 2014 12:13 pm

Please. Stick to climate and stay off the Koch Bros bandwagon to deny healthcare to millions… specifically people such as I am. I suffered a massive heart attack at a time when I couldn’t get health insurance at any price because of preexisting conditions.
I’ve tried the Tea Party- GOP right wing health care system… almost died and definitely went bankrupt. At least with Obama’s ACA I can get half-way affordable healthcare.
Please stop trying to murder me. You got your hearing restored by modern medicine. Let me have the same chance.
No one needs a computer to figure out what “preexisting conditions” means.

Reply to  sarastro92
December 13, 2014 2:21 pm

Aside from the fact that Dr. Ball’s post has nothing to do with your complaint, or healthcare, and we have no idea or information concerning your poor health or its causes, or treatment, or why you are commenting on a blog that has nothing to do with your complaint. You should take your problem to Oprah. I’m sure she will cry.

Reply to  sarastro92
December 14, 2014 1:59 am

You also don’t need ACA to guard against it. Pre-existing conditions were already covered in 37 states.
And because someone doesn’t like the ACA doesn’t mean they’re a supporter of the Koch brothers, or the tea party.
Back to our regularly scheduled programming 🙂

December 13, 2014 12:28 pm

Golly, Tim. I wish I’d had more professors like you in school. Actually I did have a few outstanding profs at my university. One set up a free tutorial for me in logic. Another came in one day and handed everybody in the class a 1/2″ thick stack of papers: copies of his lecture notes for the entire course. And another who told me, “Jorge, you may be under the misapprehension that research here at U of XX comes first and teaching second. I can assure you that is not true. Research is our second priority. Committee work comes first; teaching is third.”

December 13, 2014 12:30 pm

First, Anthony didn’t write this, it is a guest post.
Second, the guest author never mentioned the TEA Party, you did.
And third, no one here is trying to murder you.

Reply to  dbstealey
December 13, 2014 12:40 pm

db- Anthony’s name is at the top of the article and clearly he approved the posting.
The position Ball takes IS the Tea Party- Koch-Extreme Right Wing party line… ie. That the ACA is Mannian style chicanery… and (implicitly) needs to be defunded and repealed.
And third… when you deny people health care you are condoning murder. Scrub your hands all you like… that’s what it is.

Reply to  sarastro92
December 13, 2014 2:27 pm

My family paid for our healthcare when I was growing up 1942-1962, and so did our friends and neighbors. Those who did not take care of themselves had problems – some died prematurely – but we did not accuse them of suicide, and we were not accused of murder. It has taken a strange turn of irresponsibility and illogic to get to the mental state you and many others are in.

Reply to  sarastro92
December 15, 2014 11:39 am

Gruber proved Obamacare is INDEED mannian (no need to capitalilze an adjective) style chicanery. As for the Kochs, that is the bogey man that the sheep love to trot out, even when they are not relevant.

December 13, 2014 1:37 pm

Anthony’s name is at the top of the article and clearly he approved the posting.
That dog won’t hunt. Charles Krauthammer’s articles are in the NY Times, and I am sure they disagree with him. Anthony invites articles from all points of view. Even you could write one for him. Why don’t you give it a try?
The position Ball takes IS the Tea Party- Koch-Extreme Right Wing party line
Says you. Once more: you are the only one mentioning Koch & the TEA Party.
…when you deny people health care you are condoning murder.
Strike Three:
1) I am not denying people anything.
2) Neither is Dr. Ball, or Anthony. Or the TEA Party or Koch, for that matter.
3) Health care is not a right.
U R welcome.

Reply to  dbstealey
December 13, 2014 2:41 pm

The position Ball takes IS the Tea Party- Koch-Extreme Right Wing party line
…when you deny people health care you are condoning murder.

When YOU deny people energy and restrict energy development in the name of useless efforts to “fight” a non-existent problem that cannot be limited by stopping man’s CO2 release, YOU kill millions of people each year.

Reply to  RACookPE1978
December 14, 2014 10:34 pm

That’s right… which is why I am not a green environmentalist … and why I join others at WUWT who are dubious about CAGW claims. Those who deny cheap energy to populations are murders… those who deny healthcare coverage are murders too.

Reply to  sarastro92
December 15, 2014 1:28 pm

sara – health insurance =/= health care. That is why a large majority of the citizens do not want it (and were not fooled by Gruber).
America had universal health care – just not government sponsored. And it worked. What it did not have (and according to the US Census bureau still does not have) is universal insurance. Indeed, according to the US Census bureau, coverage has gone down with the implementation of Obamacare.
Bad law is worse than no law.

Reply to  dbstealey
December 14, 2014 10:37 pm

Repeal of the ACA will deny healthcare to millions AS IT DID before the ACA (though universal coverage still has not been attained) Those who support such measures are following the Tea Party- Koch wing of the GOP… even if they don’t invoke the names of such figures and organizations.
And, yeah, it’s murder.

Reply to  sarastro92
December 15, 2014 1:30 pm

False. Just like repealing Roe v. Wade will not universally outlaw Abortion. Obamacare is denying coverage to millions already. According to the figures released early this year, 1 million fewer people are insured now, than they were before Obamacare, So repealing it will probably increase coverage since enacting it decreased it. WHen you give people real choices, surprisingly, most make the best ones for themselves.

December 13, 2014 1:42 pm

Tim Ball says, “…then society must consider a tradesperson of more value than an economist or most other university graduates.”
There has been an absolute dearth of appreciation, gratitude and respect for the people in this country who have given us running water, toilets (wastewater), inexpensive electricity in the home, an incredibly rich and varied diet (conventional farmers), personal transportation, flight, and mass manufactured items. Whatsmore, most young people today do not know anything about these subjects, and as we now see, their minds are easily poisoned against all of these benign, neutral, or beneficial gifts.
For the beginning of this year, I had my kids each draw up a tree of knowledge. This is a way of visualizing the branches of study that encompass what we mean when we use the word “education.” In my view, many subjects which receive so much attention in academia are really only suckers at the base of the tree, and many important branches are missing.
(The diagram is also indespensable when kids say, “Why do we have to study that?“)

Palo Alto Ken
December 13, 2014 1:58 pm

“…economics is purely and simply the balance between money coming in and going out – nothing more.”
By this statement Dr. Ball demonstrates his lack of knowledge of economics. Economics is the study of the alternative uses of scarce resources to meet human wants and needs. He obviously does not understand that a barter economy is still an economy.

David Socrates
Reply to  Palo Alto Ken
December 13, 2014 2:03 pm

You are correct. Ball doesn’t realize there are times when economics is not a balance of money flows. . For example, when the Federal Reserve creates money out of thin air, there is no “balance” but there is a measurable impact on the economy. Your example of barter, where there is no flow of money is a real good example also.

Rhys Jaggar
December 13, 2014 2:08 pm

‘To my knowledge there is no university or college that offers a course in common sense. If they did they would have to bring a person from outside to teach it.’
I’m afraid, Dr/Professor Ball, that the definition of common sense is ‘what you are good at’. Every person I’ve met on this earth has a slightly different definition of common sense, but the universal commonality is that they are good at what they think common sense is.
Common sense to some is analytical; for others it is emotionally empathic; for others it is power-based reality; for others it is familial bonds, responsibilities and reciprocal duties.
It’s common sense to me that if your parents are practical idiots and don’t share what practical skills they have, that an intellectual schooling isn’t really adding much value. It wasn’t common sense to the whole education world in my country growing up.
It’s common sense to you and to me that the value to greater society of an individual researcher’s output is not measured in how many papers he/she publishes, but how many people’s lives are affected favourably in the years after the research was communicated. The value to greater society is not, however, necessarily the value to their employers, to whom they usually, if they are selfishly ambitious, more attentive toward.
It’s common sense to Wall Street traders that they can make money most easily relieving Joe Schmo of his hard-earned modest savings, since those folks are entirely without understanding of the less savoury of Wall Street practices. It’s common sense to me that societies that tolerate such behaviour are sick, but it’s not common sense to anyone in any position of political power.
When you talk about common sense, you need to define what you mean by it.
It’s one of the most fluid concepts around and one which is least discussed.

Reply to  Rhys Jaggar
December 13, 2014 4:19 pm

Common sense is as dangerous as it is useful when applied unwisely.

Reply to  Dawtgtomis
December 13, 2014 4:47 pm

…totum iudex

Reply to  Dawtgtomis
December 13, 2014 4:52 pm

All is dangerous when applied unwisely, except some comments which are just funny.

Reply to  Dawtgtomis
December 13, 2014 5:50 pm

Guess what I’d like to get across is that common sense does not involve emotions, empathy, Power, or one’s legacy and indebtedness, Read Carl Sagan’s works.

Reply to  Dawtgtomis
December 13, 2014 6:22 pm

.And also, don’t conflate common sense with justification.

Reply to  Dawtgtomis
December 13, 2014 7:45 pm

Oops, my bad… a websearch has shown me that that ‘the scientific method’ and ‘common sense’ are not necessarily the same thing. My arguments were admittedly non sequitur and are withdrawn (now I see my unwitting humor, majormike). Common sense is a very “open” term.

December 13, 2014 2:43 pm

There was a hilarious chart posted by AW on WUWT some years back that showed how academics viewed engineers, and how students viewed them.
I tried to find it but I just don’t have the right search term.

David S
December 13, 2014 8:46 pm

Well at least the warmers have added two new items to the English language:
1) A new phrase- “Hide the decline:,
Which means using deception to advance an agenda.
2) A new word- “Gruberization”.
Which means using deception to advance an agenda.
Do I detect a trend here?

Reply to  David S
December 14, 2014 2:03 am

Maybe “Hide the Gruberization”? 😉

Bruce Richardson
December 14, 2014 9:58 am

David S., thanks to the Internet, “gruberizing,” “gruberization,” and maybe “gruberian” has joined “malthusian” as a part of our vocabulary. If it becomes a permanent part, Ma and Pa Gruber can be proud of their little Gruber.

Kevin Kilty
December 14, 2014 10:34 am

University Education = “a socially acceptable form of unemployment”; Dr. Ball you created a gem right there.
I am very afraid of other parallels. Government programs and ideas bound to cause problems from this time forward are oozing from academia all over. This is the expected result of employing a “brain trust” in government administration devoid of wisdom or accountability and mainly interested in ideology and promoting themselves. Today I read about “Bayesian Improved Surname Geocoding (BISG)” which is a statistical means of determining a person’s race from last name and zip code. No need to ask the person directly about their racial identity–especially if the method can provide the answers that government regulators want to find in advance. With it the CFPB has managed to determine that persons of color pay on average something like 0.1% more that “white” persons for a car loan. No end of mischief we can expect from a tool like this.

Reply to  Kevin Kilty
December 14, 2014 3:21 pm

“With it the CFPB has managed to determine that persons of color pay on average something like 0.1% more that “white” persons for a car loan.”
Believable if the area is infested with the young-black-male culture, who shoot each other and probably leave females to raise kids by themselves.

December 14, 2014 3:19 pm

Some universities and/or jurisdictions have awards for profs who are great teachers. Walter Gage at UBC and John Ridpath at York come to mind.

December 14, 2014 10:35 pm

Gruberism is certainly at work in the CAGW movement.
However it is not aimed primarily at the public.
Its target is the climate research community themselves.
They are the ones who have been shown to be too ignorant and stupid to resist the CAGW deception.
This is for a number of reasons:
1. Ignorance of nonlinear-chaotic dynamics. Generally anyone using the word “forcing” in regard to climate falls into this category of catastrophic ignorance in regard to nonlinear climate dynamics.
2. Epistemological collapse. The fact that you may not understand the word epistemology illustrates this point. The structure of logic is also a necessary underpinning of science, and without it all scientific effort will work to destroy not to create knowledge. If for instance you think that the real world changes due to the discovery of a new phenomenon, its back to the epistemology classroom for you. If both warming and cooling, both shrinking and growing sea ice, both more and less hurricanes and tornados, both increasing and decreasing climate variability, all prove CAGW, then CAGW is unfalsifiable and by Karl Popper’s deductive law of science, not science at all. Confused? Go back to school.
The explosion of technical data in recent decades has led to an arrogant hubris that has allowed the atrophy of logical thought. This means that the majority of published research works against knowledge and not for it.
3. Left wing politicization of academia. Political polarization has led to the ruling culture of academia being extreme left-wing. This means that scientific ideas that can be used as a stick to beat up on capitalism are promoted are facts distorted to support these ideas, most notably CAGW.
4. Loss of grounding in previous research and respect for previous research.
Most new climate research which is loudly trumpeted such as Mann, Marcott, Miller etc. begins by totally ignoring and brushing aside all previous research on the subject. In particular palaeo climate related research consigns to oblivion all published work showing climate variation to be natural and tries to show that climate never changed before humans increased atmospheric CO2.
Any society in which respect for old guys is lost, is on a slippery slope to oblivion. This could be called the “Rehoboam horizon”.

Joe Crawford
Reply to  phlogiston
December 15, 2014 2:03 pm

phlogiston says: “They are the ones who have been shown to be too ignorant and stupid to resist the CAGW deception.”
+10… I could not agree more.
and: “Generally anyone using the word “forcing” in regard to climate falls into this category of catastrophic ignorance.”
This sentence is also correct but better terminated as above.

December 15, 2014 1:00 am

Fits in with what I’ve been noting on my blog.
I’ll add some excerpts from this page to my blog page if that’s OK.

December 15, 2014 2:55 pm

Same old same old.
“I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps
to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from
1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.”
“Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass.”

December 15, 2014 3:05 pm

Same old same old.
“I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps
to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from
1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.”
“Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass.”

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