Scientific Integrity is Constant Challenge: A Classic Historical Example

Guest opinion: Tim Ball

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

– Rudyard Kipling (1895)

A scientist is by practice a skeptic. As Douglas Yates said,

No scientific theory achieves public acceptance until it has been thoroughly discredited.

The public definition of skeptic is different from that for science, which is

Not easily convinced; having doubts or reservations.

For the public, it is more properly that of cynicism.

believing that people are motivated by self-interest; distrustful of human sincerity or integrity:

This is why the epithet “global warming skeptics” easily marginalized those who questioned the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

It is difficult to challenge the work of others even as a scientist because it goes against the gregarious and collective nature of humans and Groupthink. It is more difficult today because of changing views in the society that spill over into science. Four of these are:

· If you are not with me, you must be against me.

· The end justifies the means.

· I only broke the law if I got caught.

· It’s close enough for government work.

The disturbing insights into the thinking behind those at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) are on full display in the leaked emails. Remember the summary on the back of Mosher and Fuller’s book Climategate.

 

“The Team led by Phil Jones and Michael Mann, in attempts to shape the debate and influence public policy:

· Actively worked to evade McIntyre’s Freedom of Information requests, deleting emails, documents, and even climate data

· Tried to corrupt the peer-review principles that are the mainstay of modern science, reviewing each other’s work, sabotaging efforts of opponents trying to publish their own work, and threatening editors of journals who didn’t bow to their demands

· Changed the shape of their own data in materials shown to politicians charged with changing the shape of our world, ‘hiding the decline’ that showed their data could not be trusted.”

 

Although not part of the leaked emails, perhaps the most telling comment was the response by Phil Jones, Director of the CRU, to a request from Warwick Hughes for information. Hughes was looking at the 20th century temperature data produced by Jones that contributed to the ‘hockey stick’ blade in the 2001 IPCC Report. In a February 21, 2005, email Jones replied;

We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.

Yes, precisely, it is what every scientist must do. The comment underscores everything that is wrong with climate science. It evolves from scientists tempted and driven by a varying combination of career opportunities, funding, job security, power, political control of the agenda, and preferably with no accountability.

All these variables existed in the past, and it is illustrative and informative to examine a situation from the history of a scientist who struggled with them. He realized that compromise is often necessary, but he also realized that it is a slippery slope. The compromise must only be made in the context of determining whether it will allow achieving the larger goal.

The scientist in question, William Wales (1734 – 1798), was born in Yorkshire to working class parents. He moved to London and married Mary Green, the sister of astronomer Charles Green. It was to prove an important connection.

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William Wales: A portrait like the man, very real.

He obviously showed mathematical ability because in 1765 he entered the employ of the Astronomer Royal, Sir Nevil Maskelyne. He began work on one of the two major scientific challenges of the day, the accurate determination of longitude. However, that was to become interlinked with the other challenge, testing of Newton’s Theory of Gravitation, published in 1687. Together they created all the dangers inherent in solving scientific problems when power, money, politics, and prestige are involved.

Two different approaches to determining longitude created the first conflict.

In 1714, the British Government offered, by Act of Parliament, £20,000 for a solution which could find longitude to within half a degree (equivalent to 2 minutes of time), and a group later known as the Board of Longitude was set up to assess submissions and offer rewards. These experts included the Astronomer Royal at Greenwich and other scientific, maritime and political leaders.

Notice that the Astronomer Royal is on the Board and he favored an astronomical solution known as the lunar distance method. This meant he lacked objectivity when confronted with the alternative method of using an accurate time keeping device. The story of watchmaker John Harrison his chronometer and struggle to have his work recognized and rewarded are well documented in book and film. The Board exercises the same control and power as the Summary for Policymakers group of the IPCC.

Once a theory is postulated, the skeptics begin their work. Such a challenge was created by the letter d representing distance in Newton’s formula expressing the force of gravity.

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Sir Isaac Newton

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Where;

F = the gravitational force between two objects.

m1 = mass of the first object,

m2 = mass of the second object,

d = distance between the objects,

G = Gravitational constant.

Before they could test the hypothesis, it was necessary to get an accurate measure of the distance of the Earth (m1) from the Sun (m2). They knew the mass (m) of the planets and the Sun and their orbital speeds, but the distance (d) was unknown, yet critical.

Former Astronomer Royal, Sir Edmund Halley (1656 – 1742), stressed the importance of an event known as the Transit of Venus. It involves the orbit of the planet Venus passing between Earth and the Sun. An earlier Transit occurred in 1639 and Halley’s work with recurring astronomical events meant he knew another Transit would occur in 1761. Great effort and expense, particularly by the French and English governments, were made to get meaningful results. They failed. However, they knew another Transit would occur in 1769 and so the determination to get positive results made the issue a political confrontation between France and England.

Success became a national competition. The Astronomer Royal, Sir Nevil Maskelyn, was in charge of the project and he persuaded King George III to donate £4000 necessary to establish over 150 observation points around the world and beat the French.

The major reason for the 1761 failure, inadequate instrumentation, was not resolved. Nobody knew this better than William Wales. In a parallel of today’s global warming fiasco, the scientists, who were effectively bureaucrats or relied on sponsorship, believed that political support and more money was the answer. So Wales faced a dilemma, keep your mouth shut and do what the King and his lackey’s like Maskelyne wanted, or face incarceration and possibly even hanging.

In my opinion, he charted a course of compromise based on his circumstances. His subsequent actions showed the complete integrity he retained, the integrity necessary to produce accurate uncompromised science.

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Sir Neville Maskelyn holding a chart of the Transit of Venus calculations

The objective was to measure the time (T) it takes Venus to cross the face of the Sun. Orbital speed (S) of Venus was known from Kepler’s laws of planetary motion. With the simple trigonometry, they could compute the distance of the Earth from the Sun, and the size of the Sun.

The best location in the world for observing the Transit was Churchill Manitoba. As a result, Maskelyne couldn’t find astronomers with the necessary skills willing to risk crossing the Atlantic and spend 13 months on Hudson Bay, determined by the frequency of shipping. It is also likely that most knowledgeable astronomers knew the inadequacies of the instruments.

The important connection in the planning was Samuel Wegg who was both Vice-president and Treasurer of the Royal Society and Secretary-Treasurer of the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC). He arranged for passage and accommodation in Churchill. He also helped persuade William Wales to make the trip. Finally, Wales agreed to take up the challenge, but only after negotiating a generous contract that included provision for his family should he not return. Wales’ partner on the trip was Joseph Dymond, an assistant to Maskelyne, whose choice was apparently due to his unpleasant character. He caused much trouble when in Churchill.

Wales knew the accurate timing was essential to success. He also knew the problems of producing an accurate chronometer. One was specially constructed, and on the Atlantic crossing, he tested it rigorously only to discover it was losing several minutes every day. It was inadequate.

They took a prefabricated observatory with them and on arrival set it up on the SE bastion of Fort Prince of Wales (Figures 1 and 2).

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Figure 1: Original Hudson’s Bay Company map of the Churchill River estuary

Source: HBC Archives

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Figure 2; Fort Prince of Wales: SE Bastion is on the left side.

The challenge for Wales was to establish some way of determining time more accurately than with his failed chronometer. During the restoration of the Fort, a remarkable sundial was dug up at the base of the wall. They also found an iron spindle that allowed the user to turn any of 24 faces toward the Sun (Figure 3).

In a 1984 article “Observations of the Transit of Venus at Prince of Wales’s Fort in 1769” I identified the latitude Wales had calculated for the Fort. Leslie Ross, a researcher at the National Museum of Canada, was also doing research on the sundial. He asked where I obtained the latitude. I told him it was the one Wales recorded in his journals. He said the latitude matched his calculations for the latitude of the major sundial face (June 1983 Stone sundial from Fort Prince of Wales. Research Bulletin #193). It was clear evidence that Wales made the sundial because both latitudes were different from the actual latitude by 11 minutes. I was skeptical that a sundial could be better than even a faulty chronometer, but Ross told me it could determine the time to within two minutes, which made it superior to the watch.

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Figure 3; William Wales Sundial in Parks Canada Museum at Churchill

Figure 4 shows the method developed to try and increase the angle and therefore the accuracy of the angle subtended by the triangle of observation. Astronomers, including Wales, knew they could improve accuracy over a single sighting by observing from two different locations. This creates the baseline shown in Figure 4 and extends the point at which the angle is measured outside the Earth. Wales and Dymond were at one end of the baseline in Churchill, and Captain James Cook was at the other end in Tahiti.

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Figure 4; Foreground gun battery at Cape Merry. Across the river the low profile of Fort Prince of Wales.

Source; Author.

The Transit occurred on June 3, and it took approximately 9 hours for Venus to cross the face of the Sun. Fortunately, it was mostly sunny, and they obtained measurements, but Wales knew all along they were completely inadequate. Besides the timing issue, he also knew of the black-drop effect created by the optical distortion caused when Venus touched the Sun on one side and departed the Sun on the other. This seems minor in an event of 9 hours duration, but it becomes critical when you know that the angle they were trying to measure is 9.57 milliradians or 0.54549°.

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Figure 4;

Source; Author

On his return to England Wales demonstrated his integrity because he refused to submit his report. He said the results were of no value. The timing was imprecise, and the telescope optics were inadequate. Wales was finally ordered to submit a report that was published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.

We are fortunate he complied because Wales did not waste his time but carried out countless other experiments and made many observations. He brought the first barometers and thermometers, constructed to Royal Society specifications to northern North America. He produced an excellent instrumental record beginning in 1768. This continued after he left because he instructed the surgeon in their use.

We know his principled stand and integrity for insisting on accurate science, despite the demands of his political masters, did not damage his reputation. Two years after his return to England, the Board of Longitude commissioned him to sail as astronomer and navigator with Captain Cook. Wales job, in association with William Bayly, was to test Kendall’s K1 chronometer based on the H4 of John Harrison (Figure 5).

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Figure 5: Chronometers used on Captain Cook’s second voyage 1772- 1775.

I know Wales would appreciate the fact that his efforts were not completely wasted. The weather and other information he diligently collected helps our understanding of the way the world works, but also to confront challenges to scientific integrity today.

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125 thoughts on “Scientific Integrity is Constant Challenge: A Classic Historical Example

      • Isn’t there a ‘Crossed E’ sign for the Euro.
        I know there is one for the [Philippine] Peso.
        And you could spell P£anet thus . . . .

        Once – no, too old, too derived . . . .

        Auto
        [And too hard to find!]
        Once of ££0xxx$ – it was so easy in WordPerfect . . . .

  1. With apologies , I can never read that Kipling line without a Mad magazine marginal from more than a half century ago invading my head . Approximately :

    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

    You probably don’t understand the severity of the situation

    • A favourite in the RN aimed at young Midshipmen (officers under training) was:

      If you can keep your head when all about you
      Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
      Rest assured, you’re the instigator of the situation

    • A variation aimed at Midshipmen (officers under training) in the RN was:

      If you can keep your head when all about you
      Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
      Rest assured, you’re the instigator of the situation

  2. Another fine article illustrating the critical role of measurement in the sciences Dr. Ball, underlining the axiom “If you didn’t measure it, it didn’t happen”. Thanks.

      • Muzz:
        If by “climate change” one means “the global warming” then one cannot measure climate change as “the global warming” lacks a measure for in measure theory a “measure” is a single-valued relation but dependent upon circumstances “the global warming” is zero-valued or many-valued.

    • Exactly how long did you take composing your comment. if you didn’t measure it….

      Good skeptics worship nothing, not theory, not measurement, and certainly not old saws and “axioms”

      • Or as an old friend (a geological engineer) often said, “If you can’t express it mathematically you don’t know anything about it.”

      • Allencic, true for the hard sciences. Not true, for example, in medicine or economics. In fact there is too much math and not enough other stuff (e.g. Taversky and Kahneman behavioral microeconomics Nobel prize) in economics.

      • Good skeptics note Mosher’s recent increased running around the Skeptosphere trying to stamp-out fires.

      • Nonsense. Good skeptics “worship” the correct axioms. If someone comes along with a theory
        or invention that violates established laws of physics like the conservation of energy or the second
        law of thermodynamics then I would be extremely skeptical. In contrast if they told me that they had found a new subatomic particle then I would not be particularly surprised.

      • “If you can’t express it mathematically you don’t know anything about it.”
        Except when it come to statistics where (apparently) there are so many arcane application rules that most any desired result can be obtained in order to please, or fool, most anyone, especially the prognosticator.

      • Some axioms deserve respect. e.g: Predictions of human caused permanent damage to the planet have never come to pass and never will. The energy required and the mechanical advantage we can muster is too puny. At worst, any damage is temporary, local, and the planet is self healing.

        Even mighty bolides, which have caused extinctions of species, have in the end only transmuted life in creation of a whole new vibrant ecology. We ourselves would not be here were it not for the one that took out the dinosaurs.

        Lesser fears like running out of resources, killing the the sea, burying cities in horsedroppings, causing the planet to experience runaway warming and the like, are even more impossible. Such notions are merely a measure of the lack of imagination of the vast majority. Let’s, however, fear what global marksbrothers would do to us, our civilization, and economies if we continue to let so-called elites and the growing proportion of designer-brained useful idiots have their way. Actually even they are bound to fail as the many experiments in this endeavour have already. Having a small proportion of sceptics seems to be enough to at least limit the damage they can do. What happened to the Moshe that we used to know? He’s probably voting for Hillary even.

      • The very best skeptics also refuse to worship “nothing”. ;)

        If you would question everything, you must also question the concept of questioning everything.

      • Terry,
        Noted.
        But is there a meaningful difference between ‘Prediction’ – not made; and ‘Projection’ – sometimes made, I gather?
        If we remember GIGO – Garbage In – Garbage Out – the difference seems insignificant.
        At best.

        Auto, looking forward to another duel with London’s railways tomorrow.

      • auto:
        There is logically important difference between a “prediction” and “projection.” As it is a proposition, a “prediction” has a truth value. As it is not a proposition, a “projection” lacks a truth value. A truth value is required for falsifiability of the associated model.

      • Allencic on October 15, 2016 at 2:35 pm
        Or as an old friend (a geological engineer) often said, “If you can’t express it mathematically you don’t know anything about it.”

        Please express Allencics mathematically.

      • Precisely. There are no axioms. Science may have developed from a criticism of religion, and indeed use religion’s form as its base, but it opposes religious certainty. For it is ever-changing. Most of the things we believe in today are false, for we are misled by our narratives (or ‘prejudices’). Only those ideas announced with certainty are clear candidates for oblivion. But when?

        Air-borne cholera was ‘certain’ until 1854 and Dr John Snow demonstrated it was water-borne. Somewhat depressingly, the air-borne hypothesis had been unchallenged for millennia. And it is looking as if AGW will outlast most of us. Air-borne cholera likewise failed every test it faced, but prejudice runs deep….

      • “Science may have developed from a criticism of religion”
        No, science actually developed from Greek philosophy, with a bit of alchemy and astrology thrown in. Nowhere in the history of the development of science is a “criticism of religion” an important element.

        “, but it opposes religious certainty.”
        No it doesn’t, at least not Christian certainty. Science is a technique developed for investigating certain aspects of the world around us. Because of its nature – requiring controllable repetitive experimentation and statistical analysis – science is not particularly well suited for handling unique, unrepeatable events. Those properly belong to the realm of history and law, which have developed techniques for evaluating evidence and documents. Don’t confuse the two.

      • “Science developed from a criticism of religion” is a proposition that would be falsifiable if “science” were mathematically defined. I claim that it makes sense to define “science” as the mutual information of a model. The mutual information is Shannon’s measure of the intersection of two state-spaces one of which is this model’s sample-space and the other of which is its condition-space. If the two state-spaces fail to overlap the value is nil of the mutual information thus the physical system being modeled is uncontrollable. Thus, it can be argued, science arose out of mankind’s drive toward gaining control over the systems that affected them.

        Where does this interpretation of “science” leave “religion”? It seems to me that “religion” is an alternative to gaining control over the physical systems that affect our lives. Viewed as a religion, global warming climatology fits this picture as the mutual information of its models is nil.

      • There are two mechanisms for determining the validity of truth claims, and they only overlap slightly. One is the scientific method; this works for phenonoma that are repeatable and subject to statically analysis and formulaic descriptions.

        The other, in which religion falls, is the arena of history and law. These deal with singular, unrepeatable events and the evaluation of the veracity of documents and witness testimony.
        http://issuesetc.org/tag/evidential-apologetics/ , especially the interviews with John Warwick Montgomery, who has more credentials than any one person should have. “Faith”, in terms of religion, means exactly the same as it does in the legal phrase “full faith and credit”. Or should, far too many people use it interchangeably with “magic”, to mean an act of will.

      • Well, time marches on and everything. In the context of Dr. Ball’s examples of course that’s important, but nowadays I think recording measurements and observation has gotten to the point no one really thinks about it much. We have computers for that!

  3. One guy was sent to the shores of Hudson Bay (think LIA), Canada.
    One guy got a paid trip to Tahiti.

    I’m thinking the Green family didn’t like this guy who married into the family.

  4. You forgot the most important 5th one. ALL truth is relative. Once you buy into that science becomes just another branch of politics.

    • Alan Sokal said:

      … anyone who believes that the laws of physics are mere social conventions is invited to try transgressing those conventions from the windows of my apartment. (I live on the twenty-first floor.)

  5. Thank you for this article. I didn’t know about William Wales, but you have given a fine insight into his career and character. I fully agree that his actions showed his integrity under pressure, which is as difficult to achieve today as it was for him then.

  6. Science is one of four logical domains where knowledge and practice recognize that the system is perpetually incompletely and insufficiently characterized, and so accuracy is inversely proportional to the product of time and space offsets from an observation frame. The system is, as a matter of practical limits and consequence, chaotic.

  7. There is another interesting part to the Newton/Wales story, the accurate determination of G. Simple falling weights were very imprecise because of uncertainty about Earths mass and the feather/cannonball air resistence timing problem of Galileo and the Tower of Pisa. This was finally accomplished by Cavendish in 1798 using two identical mass large lead balls and a torsion balance. m1=m2. The mass of 1 ball known, the torsion deflection calibrated and the requisite force F to do so calculated based on many other masses on the torsion balance with their different F. Bring the second lead ball to a known small distance d from the first, measure the additional torsion deflection, multiply by F and solve for G. He knew that his own mass would affect the experiment, so he stood as far away as possible and read the additional deflection with a telescope. His G was within 1% of the presently accepted value. Story is part of the intro to the Disclosure Details chapter of The Arts of Truth.
    Multiple analogies to Wales uncertainties in climate. ECS, SLR, Arctic ice among them. And counter examples. Mann’s hockey stick being exhibit A.

  8. Great article, wonder how the first person to discover latitude by putting his thumb on the horizon and his forefinger on the north star made out.

      • And a chronometer? Heck, when I want to know the time I look at my cellphone. ;->

        All kidding aside, one has to wonder how men manged to arrive alive in those wooden ships. Navigating the oceans with little more than a sextant, a compass, and charts that may or may not be accurate. And a prayer for a fair wind and a following sea. No Diesel engines, no radar, no radio, no GPS, no satellite TV! Yikes!

  9. There is an interesting item from Notricks which seems to be apposite :
    http://notrickszone.com/2016/10/15/potsdam-climate-institute-scientistsgovernment-under-fire-for-politicizing-climate-science/
    Apparently Science has a new editor , who perhaps sees his responsibility in a slightly different light to that of his predecessors since he has thought it necessary to issue this advice:

    -At the website ‘Times Higher Education‘ Berg complained about a massive loss of trust the public has had with respect to science. In Berg’s opinion, climate scientists bear part of the blame because they’ve step over the line and made themselves vulnerable to attacks through their political lobby work. The Times article quotes Berg as follows:-

    But researchers are not entirely blameless for this rising hostility, thinks Berg. Too often they have gone beyond explaining the scientific situation and ventured into policy prescriptions, notably in the case of climate change, he thinks. ‘The policy issues should be informed by science, but they are separate questions,’ he says. ‘Scientists to some degree, intentionally or otherwise, have been mashing the two together,’ he adds, and urges scientists to be more ‘transparent’ about ‘where the firmness of your conclusions end’.”

    • His predecessor Marsha McNutt did nothing about the proven 2013 Marcott academic misconduct in his 2013 Science hockeystick paper, after acknowledging in writing receipt of the written explanation including a smoking gun proving Marcott had done precisely (and multiple times) what his paper explicitly said he had not.
      Perhaps the times are starting to change. A little honesty goes a long way in a morass of ambiguity and deception.

      • Marcia McNutt is now President of the National Academy. A prestigious 1 yr job to be sure, nominated and lobbied internally for the position by John Holdren. (do you see any quid pro quo there?)

        I have no doubt Marcia is on Hillary’s short list to succeed Holdren at the WH Science Advisor position. Wasn’t there a recent PNAS paper on climate change?

        Lesson: The cronyism runs deep among Democrats and their minions.

    • Regarding the distinction of science questions and policy questions: this has been a prevailing view of the role of science. Karl Marx read Hegel’s works on historical trends in society/politics/culture, and decided that being a philosopher was OK, but that with good analysis “we” scientist philosophers could actually steer history for the better, and that we must engage in this type of action: “Until now, the philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.”

      Building on the “Hegelian Dialectic,” Marx saw the defining force in culture as the oppression of the Haves over the Have-Nots. His answer was communism: no more Haves / we are all Haves. And, the Have-Nots. Synthesis.

      Later, Frankfurt School prof Kurt Lewin developed/refined the “Action Research” concept. You can check this out on Wikipedia or wherever. This ethos says “we” cannot simply engage in research; we MUST be devoted to improving society, overcoming injustice, etc.

      I would argue that this is now a widely accepted concept in our society, especially in anyone younger than, say, 45 years old.

      Those of us who came up through school before this learned how great American (or England, Australia, etc.) was, and we learned civics – how our society works, so we could preserve it.

      Since then, the emphasis has been on “change.” K-12, higher ed, the social professions (read the code of ethics of Social Workers), Girl Scouts of America, Sesame Street, etc. always emphasize “change.”

      The associated thought is this: “there is something inherently wrong with our society, and we must find our little interest area for making it better.” <—This has Marxist roots, and is Marxist philosophy. This assertion is different from a Progressive ethos that had been part of scientific endeavors, which could be stated as "Things are OK but we can use knowledge to make things better."

      Under this new, Marxist-rooted ethos, we MUST include the political implication when conducting the scientific. And, as much as you can get away with, you can pontificate what policy should be.

  10. The whole thing was stupid to begin with and now has been proven wrong with data. A function where you enter a year in the future and a average temperature pops out? And you won’t show your work?
    About Newton’s gravitational force equation, I always wondered why the masses are multiplied rather than added together. I’m sure someone in this group can explain it to me.

      • True, and I’m no math whiz, but it seems the relationship would involve the sum of the masses somehow. I’m having to study all of this stuff again for a P.E. license.

      • Well, Walpurgis, it seems to me that if the masses were merely added, then the ostensible force operating on something like you or I would be only minutely different than that operating on a flea, for instance. Multiplying by your mass is what gives a force result proportional to your mass . . as I see it anyway.

    • If the masses were added instead of multiplied the new “theory” would predict that objects with different masses should fall with different accellerations. Which, as you know, is not what observations tell us.

    • Oooh, do I detect Socratic irony? The masses must be multiplied together because that’s what observations show. Reality is what it is: Newton’s model describes it.

      • Until you get out to solar and galactic scales. At solar scales Newton’s model doesn’t properly predict Mercury’s orbit. Relativity helped out there. At galactic scales neither seems to work as it ought. Standard models add dark matter, Newtonians argue for MND. At even greater scales the Standard Modelers start pulling magical tricks like “Inflation” out of the invisible hat. Reality is what is true enough, but those models approximate it at some scales, but the larger the scale the worse they seem to hunt.

  11. Unfortunately, there appear to be relatively new initiatives that mix science and policy, making it sound responsible. Need to check these out. Scientists have long been frustrated by policy makers hypocritical attitude, but this does not justify sacrificing your science in becoming a political activist. There are many examples besides climate. Hope that Berg can restore a generation long decline in the credibility of Science as a journal, among others. Need to keep the bad stuff from bringing down the good stuff without destroying the good stuff that looks like bad stuff. That could be better stated.

    • H. D. Hoese:

      You wrote “”Hope that Berg can restore a generation long decline in the credibility of Science as a Journal”

      No evidence of it, as yet. About a month ago I submitted a paper “Climate Change Deciphered” to them which precisely projects global temperatures 1972-present with an accuracy of .02 deg. C., or less, and proves that there can never have been any warming due to greenhouse gasses.

      Their reply: “We have read your contribution but will be unable to publish it “.

      An earlier submission: “Even if technically correct, it not something that we would want to publish”

      The greenhouse gas hoax is deeply ingrained at Science.

      • Burl:

        Please accept that it is unlikely to see the light of day. How about publishing it at a conference? There are peer reviewed conferences which have automatic inclusion in Elsevier journals.

        I would love to see your work. There are some really interesting things being written these days as people get braver and the ‘opposition’ declines in influence.

      • This seems to be a common censorship type (not sure where the line is) response. Just got such, completely different subject, but reality based, no reason given but interesting pandering for an old guy they knew. The older rejections, like the great Missoula Floods and others got published, however ignored for quite some time. I have experienced attempts at examining all hypotheses, sometimes killed by politicians, but even worse by academicians. It is not a new thing, but seems more pernicious.

        “Even if technically correct, it not something that we would want to publish” I have heard many variants of this starting about the time Science started downhill. They admit their stupidity. Even worse, it elevates a corruption of knowledge.

        It would help to get rid of a high percentage of administrators who evaluate faculty. I recall a dean in a report bragging about how he was so effective at getting money both out of the legislature and the granting system. In their evaluations they often make the logical error of appeal to authority. Science, PNAS, etc. are the authorities. We have a way to go. Get your paper somewhere. No data, but I think the majority realize the situation.

      • H.D.Hoese:

        I am currently planning on putting it on Google Docs, from which I believe that it can be published to the web.

        Do you see any problems with this route?

      • “Projects” is the wrong word- do you mean “fitted”? Are you sure you proved that there can never have been any warming due to greenhouse gases? I would not expect the paper to see the light of day anytime soon if that is what you purport to have shown.

      • No, projects is the correct word.

        Assume that I am in 1975 and am asked what the temperature will be in 2011.

        Based upon the amount of reduction in SO2 aerosol emissions in the interim, and the climate sensitivity factor to their reduction (.02 deg C rise for each net Megatonne of reduction), I would say that the anomalous temperature rise would be 0.60 deg. C. Which is exactly what NASA reported.

      • In the literature of global warming climatology, “project” is used in contradistinction to “predict.” “Predictions” are susceptible to cross validation but not “projections.” If global warming climatology were a scientific discipline a journal would not be interested in publishing your article unless your model was cross validated. Thus this model would have to have made predictions.

      • Terry:Oldberg

        I used the word “projection” since I have been criticized for using the word “prediction”, which I would prefer.

        If I understand you correctly, you are saying that predictions need to be “cross validated” (whatever that means), and “Thus, these models would have to make predictions”.

        The model does make “predictions”, in that the expected temperature rise for any year between 1975 and 2011 (for which the total amount of global SO2 emissions in known) can be predicted to within an accuracy of .02 deg. C, or less, when temporary changes due to El Ninos, Recessions, La Ninas, and volcanic eruptions are accounted for..

        As Karl Popper wrote “scientific theories must be falsifiable (that is, empirically testable) and that prediction was the gold standard for their validation”. This model meets both requirements

      • Burl:

        Associated with a predictive model is a statistical population. A sample can be randomly drawn from this population and used in the performance of various statistical tasks.

        In statistical jargon the count of the elements of this sample that are observed to be in a particular state of nature is called the “frequency” of this state. From the frequencies of the various states one can construct a predictive model. It assigns numerical values to the conditional and unconditional probabilities of events.

        Once built, a predictive model is susceptible to an attempt at “cross validating” it. In this attempt a second sample that is independent of the first is drawn randomly from the statistical population and reserved for use in the attempt at cross validation. In this attempt, the probability values of the model are compared to the relative frequency values in the sample. If there is a match the model is said to be “cross validated.” Otherwise, it is said to be “falsified by the evidence.” In scientific jargon, when a model has been successfully cross validated it is elevated to the rank of “theory.” For brevity I’ve glossed over some of the details.

        With no exceptions that are known to me, global warming models are not associated with statistical populations. Consequently, it is impossible for one of these models to be cross validated or to achieve the rank of “theory.”

        A model of this type conveys no information to a regulatory agency that is of any use in regulating the temperature of the Earth. Thus, a model of this type is of no practical use. Nonetheless, regulatory agencies continue to use them. They seem to think that a model of this type makes “predictions” when it only makes “projections.” That regulatory agencies use models that are of no use in regulation is indicative of extreme incompetency among the staffs of these agencies.

      • Terry Oldberg

        Thank you for the explanation, although I wasn’t able to follow all of it, especially random selections from different populations..

        With respect to my model, what would be needed to “cross-validate” it? What would comprise a different population?

      • Burl:

        Actually both samples are drawn from the same population. Often one of them is called the “training sample” and the other one is called the “test sample.” You would build your model using the training sample and test it using the test sample. Before building and testing your model you would need to identify the statistical population underlying your study.

        The record of global temperatures extends backward in time to the year 1850. Let’s assume you have decided that each of your events has a duration of 1 year. You divide the time from January 1, 1850 into intervals of 1 year each such that the set of these intervals is a partition of the elapsed time since 1850. You associate the really existing Earth and its atmosphere with one of these intervals. You do this repeatedly until a really existing Earth and its atmosphere is associated with each of the time intervals.The complete set of these Earth-interval pairs is the statistical population for your study.

        An urn containing black marbles and white marbles is often used as a metaphor for what comes next. Metaphorically you shake the urn to mix up the marbles and draw a marble without placing it back in the urn. Through repetition of this act you draw your training and test samples. Using the training set you count the black marbles and count the white marbles. You lock the test set in your safe uncounted.

        Your model claims that the relative frequency with which a black marble is drawn from this urn under this sampling procedure lies between 55 and 65 percent. At this point you open your safe, withdraw the marbles in the test sample and by counting the black and white marbles compute the relative frequency in the test sample. It is 52%. In this way your model is falsified by the evidence.

      • Terry:

        Basically, I have two overlapping populations:

        1. 1850 – present, where temporary increases in average global temperatures coincide with business recessions/depressions, due to fewer dimming anthropogenic SO2 aerosol emissions because of decreased industrial activity.

        .2 1975 – present, where anthropogenic SO2 emissions are reduced due to Clean Air efforts and predictable increases in average global temperatures occur…

      • If any academics/researchers can tolerate the delay, I believe it is very valuable to get good work rejected by these supposed leading journals, and get them published elsewhere. There will eventually be many stories proving that the prevailing wisdom or powers that be are more bound by culture than an eagerness to explore the nature of our world via good science.

    • Burl (Oct 17 at 7:29 pm):

      The elements of a statistical population are countable. What are the counts of the elements of the two populations that you reference?

      • Terry:

        Population 1: Over a span of 145 years, there were 28 recessions and:2 depressions where average global temperatures temporarily increased due to decreases in SO2 emissions.

        Population 2: 1975-2011. This population is limited to those years where the total amount of global SO2 emissions is currently available, at 5 year intervals, beginning in 1975, plus 2011, for a total of 9

        (a report is in preparation which will expand this quantity, per Dr. Z. Klimont)

      • Burl:

        Thanks for the counts. You’ll need to collapse the two populations down to one. Next you’ll need to identify the sample space for your model. The population is extremely small so you’ll have to make do with a sample space containing only two outcomes. Off hand one of these outcomes should be that the average global temperature over the period of the event is greater the median and the other should be that the average global temperature over the period of the event is less than or equal to the median. (You’ll have to pick a global temperature time series from the many possibilities).

        Next, you’ll need to lay your hands on as many time series as possible that plausibly provide information about the outcome of an event. In a similar study that was conducted circa 1980 by Ronald Christensen and his colleagues at Entropy Limited, 100,000 time series were procured and examined. You’ll need to process this enormous volume of data in such a way as to capture all of the information in it that is predictive of the outcomes in your model’s sample space. You should buy a used copy of Ronald Christensen’s book entitled “Multivariate Statistical Modeling” (copyright 1983 by Entropy Limited, ISBN 0-938-87614-7) and read it. The book will tell you how to proceed. During his lifetime Christensen was a prolific author. Everything that he published is well worth reading.There is a bibliography at http://www.entropylimited.com/ . I gather that Christensen’s company has disbanded. My attempt at forming a company with similar capabilities failed when I was unable to find paying customers.

        In the past, a project of kind that is contemplated required the full time efforts of 5 or 10 people for several years. All of these people needed to be paid so you’ll need an organization, offices and a financial supporter. Many different national governments have the required financial resources plus an interest in climate change and the possibility of regulating it but none seem to possess the required managerial or scientific competency. Roughly speaking, though costing a great deal of money, research conducted to date has accomplished nothing. The quality of the management could hardly have been worse.

      • Terry:

        Thank you for your multiple posts where you have tried to educate me on a statistical approach toward evaluating my Model.

        However, from your last post I can only conclude that the process is beyond my ability to pursue.

        The model provides temperature projections/predictions accurate to withing .02 deg. C, or less, over a period of decades, based solely upon the amount of net reduction in global SO2 aerosol emissions that have occurred, and is falsifiable..

        What more could one ask of a model?

      • Burl

        One could ask of your model non-nil mutual information. Non-nil mutual information is required for control of the climate system. Accuracy and non-nil mutual information are distinct characteristics of a model. What is the mutual information of your model? If I’m not mistaken you do not and currently cannot know. Hopefully I’ve alerted you to this deficiency.

        To experience non-nil mutual information, turn on your HDTV and tune to a channel that is broadcasting; the mutual information is the information that your receive. To experience nil mutual information, pull the plug.

        Is the degree of accuracy of a model related to whether the mutual information is nil or non-nil? No. Whether the mutual information is nil or non-nil is related to the manner in which the message that is transmitted to your HDTV is coded and decoded. In order for us to receive information from a model this model must be the algorithm for a decoder. It does not sound as though your model is.

      • Terry:

        My model is very simple and straightforward.

        If you have a Facebook account, there is a Climate Change Discussion group listed on the left side of the screen,.I have posted a simplified version of my model there.. .

        (There were originally 3 such groups, but 2 of the groups immediately shut down after I posted my model!)

        A table of SO2 emissions 1975-2011 is available, as well as several graphs proving what I have written.

        Perhaps you could let me know of any serious faults that you might find.

      • Terry. O.K. I can also attach the Table and the graphs. And a copy of my rejected Journal article, if interested. Burl Henry

      • Burl Henry

        Thanks for forwarding your post to Facebook. In the post you make an argument that, because you have stated it clearly, is open to criticism on logical grounds. I salute you for doing so.

        Your argument is based in part upon the assumption that there is a “climate sensitivity” to SO2. This feature of your argument is similar to a feature of the argument that is made by the IPCC in regard to CO2. The latter argument underlies attempts by various governments to regulate CO2 levels.

        The “climate sensitivity” aka “equilibrium climate sensitivity” is the ratio of the change in the global surface air temperature at equilibrium to the change in the radiative forcing. The numerator of this
        ratio is not observable. Thus we lack means for falsifying either the IPCC’s models or yours. In AR4 the IPCC tacitly admits that the claims of its models are not falsifiable. However, says the IPCC, in the modern era, falsifiability has been replaced by peer review.

        Not noted by the IPCC is that a non-falsifiable climate model conveys no information to a would be regulator of Earth’s climate about the conditional outcomes of events; this feature of climate models makes regulation of the climate system impossible. Your model exhibits the same shortcoming.

        My conclusion is based upon information theory. It is one of those theories that is extremely well validated thus deserving the status of “natural law.” Modern global warming climatology stands in
        violation of this law.

        A step that must be taken by climatologists if they are to eliminate their violations of information theory is to identify the statistical population underlying each climate model. The absence of identification of these populations has had the joint effect of rendering the models non-falsifiable and useless for the purpose of regulation of Earth’s climate.

      • Terry:

        You stated “your argument is based in part upon the assumption that there is a “climate sensitivity” to SO2)”.

        It is not an assumption, it is a FACT, as is proven by every large volcanic eruption–and the climatic response to the reductions in SO2 emissions during a business recession..

        What I have called the “climate sensitivity” is the climatic response to the reduction in SO2 aerosol emissions

        The nearly simultaneous eruptions of Mount Pinatubo & Mount Hudson in 1991 injected 23 Megatonnes of SO2 into the stratosphere, causing 0.55 deg. C. of global cooling–and 0.55 deg. C. of warming as temperatures recovered to pre-eruption levels because of the cleaner air. This represented a temperature rise of 0.55/23 = .0239 =.02 deg. C. of temp. rise for each Megatonne of reductioin in SO2 aerosols

        Likewise, the reduction of 30 Megatonnes of SO2 emissions between 1975 and
        2011 resulted in a temp. rise of 0.60 deg. C, or .02 of temp. rise for each net Megatonne of reduction in global SO2 emissions.(0.6/30 = .02)

        In contrast to to the IPCC model, my model IS falsifiable (and has been falsified), and, using the “.02 deg. C factor” makes extremely accurate temperature predictions/projections, leaving no room for any additional warming due to greenhouse gasses.

        All of the above is addressed in my as-yet-unpublished Journal article (will now send you a copy).

      • Burl Henry

        I read your “Climate Change Deciphered” and present the following comments. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to comment.

        I understand that your conclusions are based upon the value of “approximately” 0.02 deg C increase in the average global temperature per megatonne of reduction in global SO2 aerosol emissions. You argue that this value is “approximately” 0.02 but this argument is an example of an equivocation. From this equivocation you draw the conclusion that “All of the warming that has occurred since circa 1972 has been due to the removal of dimming anthropogenic SO2 aerosols from the troposphere.” However, one cannot logically draw a conclusion from an equivocation for though an equivocation looks like a syllogism it isn’t one. Thus, while the conclusion of a syllogism is true, the conclusion of an equivocation is false or unproved. To draw a conclusion from an equivocation is the “equivocation fallacy.”

      • Terry:

        I said “approx” because it is based upon data which cannot be PRECISELY known:, the 23 Megatonnes of SO2 aerosols injected into the atmosphere by the 1991 eruptions, and the rounding of the calculation 0.55/23 = .0239 = .02.

        Were I to have said .”0239″, I would have been faulted for implying a precision that I could not justify.

        With respect to the anthropogenic SO2 emissions, the calculation came out exactly .02 (0.60/30 = .02).. The data upon which it is based is probably more accurate, but also impossible to be precisely known.

        However, temperature projections using the “.02” factor and the amount of reduction in anthropogenic SO2 emissions agree with NASA’s Land-ocean temperature values to within .02 deg. C. (or less) of actuality, which is unprecedented accuracy..

        And which proves that the “.02” factor can be accepted as being correct.

        The coincidence of temporary temperature increases and business recessions proves that Earth’s climate is exquisitely sensitive to the presence of SO2 aerosol emissions in its atmosphere.

        I would submit that faulting my entire “model” for appropriately using “approx.” is completely unjustified!.

      • Terry: 10-25-2016 The “.02” factor appears to be a constant in that it turned out to be the same from two different populations, stratospheric and tropospheric aerosols. Also, as shown in the graph comparing calculated versus actual temperature readings, for the set of nine examples where total global SO2 emissions are known, projections were within .02 deg. C. of actuality, when natural variations were accounted for. For varying amounts of SO2 decreases, the .02 factor gave the correct amount of temperature change, very unlikely if it were not a constant That being said, I would be VERY surprised if it were actually a “constant of Nature.” At this time, I would have to call it a “rule of thumb”. Additional data on global SO2 emissions will eventually become available, and it can then be tested against that data Burl Henry.

      • Burl Henry:

        Thank you for taking the time to respond.

        “Tested” is defined ambiguously. In one kind of test, projections are compared to observations. In another, predictions are compared to observations. IPCC tests are of the former type. Hopefully your test will be of the latter type; this could happen only if your model were to be modified to make predictions.

      • Terry:

        You wrote “This could happen only if your model were to be modified to make predictions”

        Here, I am confused.

        What is the real difference between predictions and projections? And hind casting?

        With my model, starting in 1975, I can accurately state what the average global temperature would be at least 36 years into the future, based solely upon the amount of reduction in SO2 emissions in the interim.

        Is that not a prediction?

        Or is it hind casting? If so, I can state what the average global temperature was for any year between 1975 and 2011 (where SO2 levels are known) with greater than 90% accuracy, using only one variable and my $1.00 hand calculator. (compared to the Met Office’s 97 million pound supercomputer’s reportedly 65 % accuracy–or were they referring to daily forecasts?)

      • Burl:

        Those are excellent questions. I’m going to skip hindcasting for the time being and focus on the point of distinction between projections and predictions. Those squiggly lines that are features of an IPCC-style “evaluation” of a set of general circulation models are examples of “projections.” They are totally worthless to a regulatory agency as they provide this agency with no information about the outcomes of events before they happen. If a regulatory agency has no such information it is impossible for this agency to regulate.

        For an employee of a regulatory agency, to appear to regulate is as useful as to actually regulate as the politician to whom he/she reports does not know the difference. That the projections were produced by an umpteen million dollar super computer that was programmed by folks holding PhD degrees in physics makes them valuable in the eyes of the politician though they are worthless.

        To gain an understanding of why a model that makes projections provides no information to a regulatory agency, Web search on the term “mutual information” and look at the form of the mathematical function that carries this name. You’ll notice that it is composed of probabilities of events and that some of these probabilities are conditional while others are unconditional. It is necessary for some of these probabilities to be conditional in order for the mutual information of the model to be non-nil. The controllability of the physical system being regulated rises with the numerical value of the mutual information. Thus, it is logical for the mutual information to be maximized under variations in the definitions of the various conditions. An available technology accomplishes this task.

        In building a model that conveys the maximum possible mutual information to a regulatory agency the model builder must assign numerical values to the probabilities of the mutual information function. There are several ways of accomplishing this task all of which require sampling units to be counted but for models of the type that make projections there are no sampling units.

        This silly situation is what we get for decoupling the remuneration of regulators from their performance. Though totally ineffective, regulators of Earth’s climate such as the folks at the United States Environmental Protection Agency are handsomely paid. Tying their remuneration to the mutual information of their models would get their attention. Clawing back a portion of their past remuneration would be just.

      • Terry: If I understand your comments correctly, to be of use, a Model must be capable of making accurate predictions to be of any real use to a regulatory agency. My “model” 1. Proves that warming naturally occurs whenever net global amounts of SO2 aerosols are reduced (as during recessions, depressions, Clean Air efforts, or recovery from a large volcanic eruption) 2. Allows predictions of future temperatures based solely upon the amount of expected net reductions in global SO2 aerosol emissions (when temporary natural variations in temperatures are accounted for). This information is slated to be made available. Would you agree that this is all provable non-nil .information, .sufficient to replace the greenhouse gas warming hoax? Burl

  12. If you would like to look in the face of the Left Academia’s mendacity in full rage (Marxists persecuting non-PC anthropologists with the help of… murderous Catholic priests), read Napoleon Chagnon’s Noble Savages. Excellent, most informative book by that rare breed, an honest scientist who really knows his subject and doesn’t despise empirical facts.

    Climatology is by far not the first perversion of science by the socialist thought police. Even theoretical mathematics isn’t immune (find out for yourself, why Grigory Perelman refused his $1,000,000 prize).

    Liars and thieves are triumphant all over the world. What’s new under the Moon?

  13. It is perverse, that a respected journal public an article without the data and methods that the article is based upon. If the data and the methods are not available for others, it is not science but just opinions without any foundation.

  14. “· I only broke the law if I got caught.”

    My amendment of this is:

    “I only broke the law if no court convicted me.”

    This reflects the ‘modern’ attitude that sin is only sin if the State can successfully get a conviction. In short, morality, which is what integrity supports, is automatically present if one can ‘beat the system’ and evade conviction for ‘immorality’.

    It is a version of ‘anything is legal if there is nothing in law saying it is illegal’. This is a very Western philosophical view.

    Limits of morality are tested all the time, meaning there is an undercurrent that says the opposite. Moral behaviour is far closer to ‘this is who we are, how we behave and this is what is right’. Interesting contrast. Many things that might be legal are considered immoral, in the eyes of the ethical.

    The ethics of science are rooted in patterns of moral behaviour, not social and criminal law. When Phil Jones refused to share his data and methods, he violated not a criminal law, but the standards set by scientists over centuries during which the great leaps forward were made.

    Refusing the FOI requests was a criminal act, that is clear, but was really just an extension of what was already the behaviour of a rebel, a self-outcast who placed himself beyond the pale of accepted behaviour. In for a penny, in for a Pound. Destroy the proof; ‘win’ the case implied against him.

    The ‘case’ was created by the mere request for data. That request was a skeptical act and his thesis could not withstand any scrutiny, similar to the Hockey Stick mess. Shooting messengers is a lot easier than admitting you fudged the conclusions to serve a predetermined course or conclusion.

    I hope everyone saw Lisa Jackson on TV saying that the agreement yesterday in Rwanda on CFC’s was the equivalent of ‘removing thousands of coal fired power stations’ worth of emissions’. Even in the breathless world of CAGW PR that stands out as the greatest exaggeration of the year.

    Some nutter was on RT saying it would reduce global temperature by 0.5 degrees C in 2100. Colour me skeptical. Even RCP8.5, one of the great fictions of this age, cringes at that level of hyperbole. The claim is a violation of a physical law, court case or not. No moral questions there; open and shut case of violating nature.

    The consequence of an endless stream of hyperbolic claims is governed by the Law of Diminishing Returns. Precedents abound in the court of public opinion.

  15. Some are pushing the idea that the idea of agw should be called a hypothesis and not a theory but this is semantics and just your view which comes from popper and the meaning I give to hypothesis and theory is different , a hypothesis is just a conjecture just a guess while a theory is a body of logically connected ideas which may or may not have empirical evidence to support them but if one idea is true then the rest must also be.

    • Don, that’s an argument from ignorance: you don’t know the difference between hypothesis and theory, so you say there isn’t any difference.

      • Nothing like the occasional mistake to remind yourself that you are, in fact, an idiot.
        I’m only speaking for myself, so nobody take it personally.

      • Sleepalot – there is no difference, except one that has been adopted by convention.
        A “theory” is an intellectually developed explanation of how the world works, and it is justified by a body of facts/explicit observations; but the explanation logically goes beyond the facts, so there is ALWAYS the possibility that a theory is in error, to some degree.

        Better to just call evolution, or atomic theory, etc., a “well-supported model,” or well-supported explanation,” than to reify a conjecture, however convincing.

        The science-based atomic theory barely got to be 100 (maybe Dalton to Bohr) before being found out as not-accurate. Current genetics work is making it a challenge to define a species, and gene-mixing among plants is truly a frontier now – so “evolution” may be largely reworked in a few decades. There’s your “Theory is a term for established knowledge.” The distinguishing principle in science is doubt, and we lose track of that at our own peril.

    • A thesis is a model of some part of reality, usually mathematical in nature, which allows predictions of future events (or past events from data not used in their formulation). They are considered to be proven when – within their given constraints – they a) successfully predict events or states and b) there are no known things which they do not predict but should.

      A hypothesis is simply a theory that has been proposed but not yet proven. It is still in the working stages. A guess, but an educated one.

      A Natural Law is a theory that has been so thoroughly tested that it is considered inviolable.

      For the mathematical sciences, theories are almost always sets of mathematical equations developed from statistical analysis of observed data. e.g. Newton’s laws of motion and orbital mechanics allow the prediction of the paths of everything from planets to artillery shells. For the softer sciences, such as archeology or paleontology, theories are timelines that show what one should expect to find in a given location under certain conditions. For instance, a paleontologist will say “Given the knowledge to date, if I dig here I expect to find these fossils, in these sequences, and not those fossils.

      In the normal course of events, good validated theories are seldom disproven entirely. Rather, they are extended when their boundaries are discovered or explored. For instance, Einstein did not disprove Newton. Rather, a close examination shows that If you stay well below the speed of light, as is normal in everyday life, relativistic effects are so small as to be negligible and are easily missed. Newton’s equations are identical to Einsteins, with certain terms set to zero.

      The problem with the theory anthropogenic global warming is that it has never been proven. The models have not successfully predicted unknown data or events. (Of course a good test would take at least a century).

      • Paul:
        For greater accuracy I’d substitute “cross validated” for “proven” and point out that the climate models are insusceptible to being cross validated. As these models are insusceptible to being cross validated, they should not be said to “predict.”

      • “A Natural Law is a theory that has been so thoroughly tested that it is considered inviolable.”

        Quite.

        But until it has been so tested, it may well remain a hypothesis, no matter how often it is utilised, take Avogadro’s hypothesis for example.

        Until someone manages to count the molecules of a precise volume of every possible gas, it remains a hypothesis, despite being one of the cornerstones of chemistry.

      • “Until someone manages to count the molecules of a precise volume of every possible gas, it remains a hypothesis, despite being one of the cornerstones of chemistry.”

        Well, no. It would be a valid theory, since it has been shown to produce valid predictions. Ultimately, actually counting the molecules isn’t necessary; the Constant may be considered to be simply a value that makes the equations work. We still cannot explain Relativity or Maxwell’s equations totally – you can explain either if you take the other for granted, but not both at the same time – but they have been tested so thoroughly that they are considered pretty well proven.

        Of course any theory is only “proven” until somebody finds the exception that earns him/her a Nobel prize!

    • “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations …” (IPCC Fourth Assessment Report).
      That statement is the fundamental tenet of the Climate Change™ industry and it is nothing more than conjecture.

    • Don, the issue you are flailing at is the distinction between specialized scientific jargon, where theory and hypothesis have distinct significance and the popular usage which tolerates terms like “Ancient Alien theorists.” Historically everything from reasonable hypotheses to flights of fancy from the lunatic fringes has had “theory” slapped on to it by its supporters as a signal of legitimacy. At the same time, adherents of faith based systems have defended their ideologies by slapping “theory” on observations like natural selection as “only” a theory under the mistaken impression that theories are nebulous ideas and that one idea is as good as any other. This is not scientific usage; it is “sales” talk and spin doctoring.

      There are debates in scientific literature about the qualifications an explanatory argument must meet before it is accorded the label of “theory,” but there is also a fairly wide agreement that a theory is a systematic explanation of a phenomenon that generally follows known physical “laws.” A hypothesis is a conjecture toward such a “theory” typically containing predictive notions that are true, if and only if the hypothesis is true – and the framer’s logic and knowledge of the phenomenon are sound enough to formulate such a statement. You can descended into arguments about Baconian or Popperian or Hempleian definitions or grab madly at the incoherence of Feuerabend or the post-Modernists, but the key characteristic of useful theories is that they contain useful content. That is, within science and engineering, and more broadly in the rest of our civilization, a theory offers useful knowledge that can be applied to real problems in useful ways.

      Theories and hypotheses that are useful only in politics and religion are not “theories” properly at all. They contain no content that is useful outside of politics or belief.

  16. I think you are unfair to the moon distance method of longitude determination. It is perfectly good, though it requires a lot of laborious manual calculation, so using a chronometer is much easier. However until radio navigation methods came along during WW II it was still being taught in navigation schools, because if the chronometer broke down or was suspected to be unreliable it was the only existing fallback.

    Captain Cook was luckier than Wales by the way. He was sent to Tahiti to observe the Venus Passage.

    • There is a section in one of the Patrick O’Brian “Aubrey and Maturin” novels that deals with the lunar method. Captain Aubrey, an amateur astronomer and lens maker, tries out an invention of his to aid in the measurement the angles necessary for obtaining the longitude while at sea.

    • Sorry you got the implication that I disparaged the lunar method. As someone originally trained in the basics of astronomical navigation I have an affinity as they were part of my life. However, I know how difficult it was to get an accurate position, especially moving faster in an airplane. GPS was so much easier and more precise. For me it was the same difference between the lunar method and Harrison’s chronometer.

      My point was that Maskelyne favoured the lunar to the extent it tainted his view of the possibility of accuracy with a chronometer. He then used his position on the Longitude Committee to deny Harrison.

      Incidentally, three weeks prior to instructing Wales and Dymind on their task he had instructed two people by the names of Mason and Dixon who were heading to another part of America.

      • Maskelyne not only favored the lunar method, he was instrumental in its creation. He spent decades observing and measuring the Moon’s path through the sky so that he would be able to predict its location into the future indefinitely. Without his almanac and tables, the lunar method would have been untenable.

        Harrison never did win the 20,000 pound prize, but the king awarded him a similar amount for his efforts in the cause. (The Crown had also issued several grants to Harrison over the decades that nearly added up to that amount.)

  17. Longitude is a wonderful book. I highly recommend it for anybody interested in an adventure of the real! In the years since reading it, I’ve found it has informed and expanded my view of the rational. The story, is an excellent example of observational science and for engineers (I imagine) it exemplifies the problems of pursuing inspiration – in the face of reality – to the ends of the earth; until a practical solution it is actualized.

    The head post and the current topical issues surrounding “data” reminded me of Galileo Galilei and his use of music to time his experiments – before there were clocks – of uniformally accelerating objects under gravity.

    In the 16th century, with this simple method, he was able to discover that acceleration acts in such a way that the distance covered is directly proportional to the square of the time!

    • “Longitude” is a wonderful book. It really gave me a sense of the frustration of the proponents of the lunar theory had for the chronometer: It took all those lovely measurements and calculations and turned them into a simple “compare the clocks” method that any son of a sea cook could perform.

      The evolution of the chronometers is astounding as well. The first working model was a box about three feet on a side that weighed tens of pounds. The second was the size of a mantle clock, and the third looked like a large pocket watch. Harrison was one good engineer.

      • “It took all those lovely measurements and calculations and turned them into a simple “compare the clocks” method that any son of a sea cook could perform.”

        This is one of the main problems the AGW scam has: anything some ignorant statistician can claim is impossible to be tested and disproven, a simple helper in that exact science, can discover and administrate a test for.

        It’s the reason no site on earth whose owner believes in the GHE scam, does any teaching on the nature of the atmosphere as it actually is, and why they all to the last man will ban you for talking about the many laws of thermodynamics violated by the fraudulent mathematics (removing the compression or hydrostatic equation from compressible fluids temp calculations) and the utterly ludicrous physics.

  18. Sometimes the correct answer is; “I don’t know.”

    But instead of that some “scientists” give us conjecture and pass it off as established fact.

  19. The public definition of skeptic is different from that for science, which is
    Not easily convinced; having doubts or reservations.
    For the public, it is more properly that of cynicism.

    I get the impression that the public view on being sceptical is more about believing the opposite. Hence it’s a small step from sceptic to denier. Knowledgable AGW supporters who really ought to know better don’t help either because it’s in their interests to redefine sceptics to be people who hold questionable views rather than questioning their views.

  20. There isn’t anything intelligent about AGW support. The first time someone reminds a person it’s been discovered the so called warming is actually the mathematics of compressible fluids with the hydrostatic equation removed, so the compression warming’s gone,

    and that if you do the math properly you get the precise temperature the international Standard Atmosphere is defined as being –

    and that if you do the math properly on Venus the precise temperature is exactly what the probes that landed sent back the temperatures are –

    and that there’s a place in the law for solving gas temperatures for assigning energy to gases, and green house gases get the identical energy as the nitrogen/oxygen bath, with sole exception of water due to it’s hydrogen bonds – not some magic light handling-

    people see it without having to be told another word about it usually. There’s a fair amount of respectability in science, it’s simply that Academia followed some government employee scammers down the sewer hole of belief rather than skeptical verification.

    We scientists haven’t been defamed. The people who tried to invade our place in the world – academics whose job SAYS they’re scientists, but if they’re demonstrably incompetent, that’s not a scientist- it’s a kook, scrawling insensible scribbles, squalling over being caught.

    We all know these people. The aircraft people don’t do that. The auto safety people don’t do that, the building people don’t do it, the roads people don’t do it,

    people who believe in the GHE do it.

    You can count, nowadays, the kook science fields, on one hand. The very first one that comes to mind isn’t everyone associated with climate it’s people who believe in the GHE.

    There’s mathematical proof it can’t exist in simply assigning all the GHGs but one, identical energy with the nitrogen/oxygen bath overall.

    Everytime someone puts up an article about belief in it, people come out of the woodwork and mock them as directly to their faces as they can get.

    The entire scientific world spits and shakes their heads when you mention any of the believers by name.

    Face it we scientists told all you GHE quacks there’s no such thing, and expressed it with many going through being fired, to state their objection to quack kook-speak being vomited onto the public and represented as science.

    Real science is unafraid of experiment and being checked. AGW’s #1 scientist had to admit he’d been faking warming since 1998 in the Feb 2010 BBC don’t go to jail interview: Phil Jones. He admitted it: no warming at all, in fact some cooling, since 1998.

    Have all the systems adjusting temperatures gone back and reset their numbers?

    *THEN EVERY SYLLABLE WRITTEN OR SAID ABOUT THEM IS FAKE, NON SCIENCE.*

    It’s that simple.

    And we the real scientists of the world are going to bury every last lying fake who said it’s possible, mocking their names, daring someone to bring up a GHE and tell us we can’t prove it’s Goober-ville.

    Because it’s proven wrong just stating the formula of the law for solving temperature of gases: PV = nRT.

    When you do the math right and solve for density as required for compressible fluids, standard gas equations hit gas temperatures right on the nose.

    Those of us who say this, installed the current digital space age and aren’t going to back down.

    Those who say gas mathematics don’t hit the temperature of the planets Earth and Venus and anything on them are fakes: pseudo-science barking thermo-billies who real scientists WILL and DO: MOCK to their FACES.

    When you’re right, you’re right, and when you’re a moon barking thermo-billy hick, it takes no more effort to reveal it to a ten year old than a forty year old.

    IT really is
    THAT simple.

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