The Myth of the Anti-Science Denier

Guest essay by John Ridgway

I’ll tell you what you don’t get to see that often nowadays: Death by Chocolate.

There was a time, not so long ago, when no dinner party was complete without a postprandial chuckle over the prospects of slumping dead into one’s pudding bowl. Now, sadly, Death by Chocolate has gone the way of Mississippi Mud Pie and Baked Alaska, never again to menace party-goers with fanciful threats that belie the delicious truth. It all seemed so jocular then.

Of course, I’m not laughing now, sat here with my type 2 diabetes. Nevertheless, I think it is fair to say that Death by Chocolate was fake news – a triumph of fear over facts. To prove the point, all I needed to do was to apply the scientific method, mastered as a consequence of studying physics at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. A simple body count, a few questions about who had eaten what, and a bit of basic statistics would have been enough to establish the science behind the Death by Chocolate hypothesis. At least, that would have been the case if my dinner party guests had been obliging enough to succumb to their fate before they got to the brandy and cigars. After that point, disproving the hypothesis would get decidedly messy. Besides which, what sort of host would I have been, counting corpses to prove a scientific point.

So what should I have done? Apply the precautionary principle and insist we all stick to the trifle? Perhaps. But if I had done so, would that have been a scientific decision or would it have been a political one, driven by the imperative of etiquette over scientific curiosity?

Turning to the Death by Carbon Dioxide hypothesis, I think we can see that we are confronted by a similar dilemma. To pass the test of falsifiability, we will have to wait until the predictions of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) have been confirmed by Nature. Any conclusions that one may reach prior to that point will be tainted by levels of uncertainty that far exceed the limits required for scientific confirmation1.

So, if we are to use science as a foundation for timely political decisions, then we must necessarily accept that the science will be incomplete. That is not seen as a problem to those who advocate exercising the precautionary principle; after all, acting under significant levels of uncertainty to avoid catastrophic consequences is what the precautionary principle was invented for. Unfortunately, whilst the principle may represent pragmatism in the face of uncertainty, it can also provide the basis for institutionalised neurosis, in which the seriousness of an imagined scenario can be used as the excuse to replace scientifically deduced probabilities with a fear-driven respect for the merely plausible. The challenge is this: how do we come to terms with the realities of post-normal science without succumbing to a modern version of Pascal’s Wager, complete with all of its religious connotations.

Science and Truth in Practice

You know, I think that sometimes post-normal science gets a bad press. Undoubtedly, when it is sold as a postmodern antidote to the philosophical realism that underpins ‘normal’ scientific methodology, one can understand why heckles are raised. Whilst most of us can accept that truth is, to a certain extent, a social construct, any attempt to downplay science’s ability to counter such subjectivity will not play well with those of us who have first-hand experience of science at its objective best. But I don’t think that is what Silvio Funtowicz and Jerome Ravetz had in mind when they first presented their own brand of the philosophy of science.2

I believe their primary intent was simply to propose a pragmatic alternative that is more suited for the support of policy-making under uncertainty. For example, if one looks under the post-normal bonnet, one finds concepts such as NUSAP3, which provides a framework for the categorisation and assessment of evidential uncertainty that would not look out of place in practical arenas such as safety-critical systems engineering. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, since post-normal science’s avowed intent is to provide a framework for problem-solving within complex, high-stake scenarios characterised by significant levels of uncertainty. As is the case in many other fields, the safety-critical systems safety engineer has to evaluate complexity and uncertainty, and does not enjoy the luxury of waiting for the body count in order to make his or her safety case.

Having said all of this, I’m not sure that the pragmatics behind post-normal science can justify the ‘extended peer community’ as a means of ensuring effective quality assurance.4

And I’m certain that taking the further step of democratization, whereby consensus usurps the twin towers of falsifiability and repeatability, will leave most of WUWT’s readership baying at the moon. By taking such steps one is left with a view of science that is closer to the courtroom than the laboratory, and that detracts from the integrity of ‘normal’ science – we don’t want to know whether CO2 is found guilty of plotting humanity’s downfall, we want to know if it actually is guilty. The post-normal approach may be necessitated by complexity, uncertainty, contested values, high stakes and expedience, but it doesn’t alter the fact that it is a highly compromised approach to the pursuit of science.

Not So Post and Not So Modern

It may seem to some that such aspects of post-normal science represent postmodernism at its worst, but there is nothing modern about the reasoning that lies at the heart of scientific post-normality. Back in 1669 the thoughts of renowned philosopher and mathematician, Blaise Pascal, were posthumously published in a paper rejoicing in the somewhat unassuming title, ‘Thoughts’. Within it, Pascal presented an argument for belief in God that now goes by the name of Pascal’s Wager. He proposed that, when it comes to deciding whether God exists or not, Man is a finite being faced with a world of infinite uncertainty. In fact, since rationality can never be used to decide the issue, one might as well toss a coin. If God exists and you choose not to believe, you face infinite loss in the form of eternal damnation. On the other hand, belief in God, if he didn’t exist, can only result in finite loss (e.g. Sunday mornings in church when you could be down the pub). So, with a fifty-fifty chance, what sort of fool plumps for the option carrying the potentially infinite downside?

By basing his decision upon a combination of probability and utility, Pascal had invented the decision theory upon which post-normal science is based. However, by downplaying the role played by rationality, he had also demonstrated how a combination of fear and pragmatism can be used to make the irrational seem sensible. Basically, Pascal was arguing that one should believe because one has a vested interest in believing. Faced with complexity, uncertainty, contested values, high stakes and expedience, Pascal used the supposed impotence of rationality to justify choosing the option that suited him best.

So, if you’re wondering why your eyelid twitches whenever post-normal science is mentioned, it is probably because it shares much of the logic that lies behind religious advocacy. That doesn’t make it wrong; in the right hands it still offers a rational approach to the adoption of science in the support of policy-making – that is a good thing. But in the wrong hands it can lead to the rational adoption of politics and ideology in the corruption of science. And that’s a bad thing.

The IPCC: A Masterclass in Post-normal Dystopia

Mike Hulme, professor of climate and culture in the Department of Geography at King’s College London, and former professor of climate change in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, has described climate change as a, “classic example of…post normal science”. He explains that the absence of controlled experimentation requires that the principles of falsifiability and reproducibility be replaced by the development of consensus amongst deliberating experts. In the case of climate science, this consensus arises following consideration of field studies and mathematical models. In stating this, Mike Hulme is not expressing an opinion, nor is he making an accusation. It is a simple statement of fact. The IPCC makes no secret of the importance it attaches to consensus; forming a consensus is what it was set up to do. In a Climate Change article, dated 2011, Garry Yohe and Michael Oppenheimer wrote:

Achieving consensus is, to be clear, one of the major objectives of IPCC activities. Paragraph 10 of the amended Procedures Guiding IPCC Work, for example, states that ‘In taking decisions, and approving, adopting and accepting reports, the Panel, its Working Groups and any Task Forces shall use all best endeavors to reach consensus’.

Relying upon consensus is hardly an ideal situation, but clearly it is one considered acceptable for the purposes of drawing up policies that commit the world’s governments to colossal investments in green energy. And if that were all there were to it, I would just shrug my shoulders and accept that this is what happens when scientists and policy makers are confronted with complexity, uncertainty, contested values, high stakes and expedience.

However, one should keep in mind that the IPCC was also set up with the expressed intention of investigating climate change, where ‘climate change’ is defined as human-caused climate change. The consensus that is sought, therefore, centres upon that prejudgement. And remember that “all best endeavours” are required to ensure such a consensus. So is it any wonder that the IPCC’s executive summaries for policy makers mention nothing of the uncertainties reported by its working groups and task forces? Is it any wonder that IPCC members deemed to hold contrarian views are routinely side-lined or dismissed? Is it any wonder that the IPCC so judiciously flouts its own rules for peer review, or the admissibility of cited references? I could go on but the IPCC’s misdemeanours have already been well-documented elsewhere.5 Suffice it to say, when it comes to reaching a consensus, the IPCC’s conception of “all best endeavours” seems quite inventive.

I suspect that the lack of full scientific rigour condoned by the post-normal scenario conveniently suits the IPCC in pursuit of its preconceived political agendas. Once consensus has been proposed as a legitimate arbiter of scientific enquiry, the scene is set for the corruption of science in the guise of science. And fears that climate science is being used in the service of higher ideals are hardly assuaged when hearing prominent former IPCC member, Mike Hulme, say, “the idea of climate change is so plastic, it can be deployed across many of our human projects and can serve many of our psychological, ethical, and spiritual needs.

Spiritual needs indeed! So it seems we are back to Pascal and his wager; could it be that complexity, uncertainty, contested values, high stakes and expedience are being used by the IPCC as a pretext for believing what it has a vested interest in believing?

So Where are the Anti-Scientists?

When the man on the Clapham omnibus6 thinks about scientists he will, more than likely, conjure up an image of an absent-minded boffin, bedecked in a white coat, surrounded by the paraphernalia of the laboratory. Such an individual is to be trusted, since he or she deals only in data and logic in the noble pursuit of truth. There are no preconceived values or hidden agendas, only Nature being forced to reveal her secrets under the scrutiny of the scientific method. This is indeed what normal science is about. Objectivity reigns supreme because only falsifiable statements are allowed, and reproducibility of results is de rigueur. Such a scientist is not in the business of idle speculation. So, who should we believe? Scientists and their facts, or the right-wing politicians and climate change deniers with their fake news? What qualifications do these deniers have anyway to impugn the scientists’ expert authority?

Except, that isn’t what the real debate is about. In most cases, science is a commercially funded enterprise, undertaken by individuals who are paid to get results that matter to their patrons. Even in academia, the success of a scientist’s career is largely determined by the revenue generated for his or her parent institution, resulting from the prestige of published papers and citations. Increasingly, policy-makers look towards such scientists for the evidence that can be used to support their favoured policy. And when they do so, the scientists concerned are often dealing with problems beset with complexity, uncertainty, contested values, high stakes and expedience. This is a heady cocktail, forcing them to resort to conclusions supported by decision theory rather than by hypotheses that pass the tests of falsifiability and reproducibility. Now the borderline between science and advocacy becomes blurred, and there is quite enough partisan speculation abroad for any right-minded sceptic to question.

Under such circumstances, questioning the CAGW hypothesis cannot be labelled as anti-scientific; it is simply justified scepticism taken to its logical conclusion. However, the media have successfully demonised the sceptics’ position largely by selling the IPCC’s work as an example of science in its finest tradition. The IPCC is responsible for generating this impression since it partakes in a particular brand of politically corrupted post-normal science, in which uncertainties are often censored and replaced with statements of certitude that no self-respecting post-normal scientist would endorse. Reasonable climate sceptics are not anti-normal science or even anti-post-normal science, but they are against the mis-selling of the latter as the former. The real anti-scientists are the IPCC policy makers who oversee the gruelling, last-minute, all-night, summary-writing sessions during which any hint of scientific post-normality is removed prior to the summaries being issued for the consumption of the unwitting public.

In summary, the IPCC scientists conduct post-normal science but the IPCC portrays their work as the ‘normal’ science that the lay public holds in such high regard. This is disingenuous. CAGW sceptics are not anti-science, but they are against such duplicity. I’ll grant you that the Death by Carbon Dioxide hypothesis has more science behind it than Death by Chocolate, but it is still only post-normal science, and post-normal science is the sort of science that is settled when the policy-makers say so. Some would say, therefore, that the IPCC’s politicking is the true face of anti-science.


1 By ‘confirmation’, I really mean a convincing failure to falsify.

2 See, for example, Funtowicz, S. and Ravetz, J., 1993. “Science for the post-normal age“, Futures, 31(7): 735-755.

3 NUSAP is a notational system used in the management and communication of uncertainty when dealing with science used to support policy. The acronym stands for: Numeral, Unit, Spread, Assessment, Pedigree. For more information, see NUSAP net.

4 The internet may be a rich source of erudite critique but it is also infested with fake news and ill-informed diatribe, so much so that it is no longer seen by some as an open forum for healthy debate. In a recent article published by Wired a number of experts were asked what they thought was needed to ‘fix’ the internet. Sir Tim Berners-Lee advised that, “It’s about re-establishing facts, which means re-establishing data and science as the basis for democracy”. This doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement of the current state of affairs.

5 See, for example, the Inter Academy Council (IAC) audit of 2010. Read it at your leisure, but I draw your attention to the following two findings:

“Review Editors do not fully use their authority to ensure that review comments receive appropriate consideration by Lead Authors and that controversial issues are reflected adequately in the report”.

“…guidance was not always followed, as exemplified by the many statements in the Working Group II Summary for Policymakers that are assigned high confidence but are based on little evidence”.

Remember, these are not the opinions of a bunch of internet nut-jobs payed by Big Oil to sow doubt, these are the findings of an august and respected body mandated to provide independent governance of the IPCC.

6 Sorry, but I’ve just realised that this expression may require explaining to some of my readership. Back in 1871 Lord Bowen, then a junior court counsel, coined this expression to represent public opinion. It has since been adopted by the British judiciary system to measure the standard of care a defendant must live up to in order to avoid being found negligent. If the man on the Clapham omnibus wouldn’t be satisfied, then you’re going down! Note that only the men on the omnibus were to be metaphorically consulted. Presumably, the women were in their metaphorical kitchens, keeping their opinions to themselves. Ah, different times!

215 thoughts on “The Myth of the Anti-Science Denier

  1. “questioning the CAGW hypothesis cannot be labelled as anti-scientific”

    It depends on how the question is framed….

    alleging it can’t be true because experts are wrong – look at Galileo!, or because there’s a UN plot or because scientists are only in it for the money are not scientific questioning of the science – they are political and social opinions. (and there is a lot of that in climate skepticism)

    Science hypotheses are proved or disproved by more science.

    Here is some science reporting, showing evidence in support of the observed effects of warming in the arctic:

    • “It depends on how the question is framed….”

      It certainly does. And all too often the global warmers appear to wilfully misconstrue skeptics when they merely point out that anthropogenic global warming may well be true, but is apparently small enough to ignore. Pointing out that the predictions are wildly inaccurate brings accusations of denying something or other.

      • Exactly. The only substantive ‘science’ that divides the two sides is the magnitude of the climate sensitivity. The IPCC choose 0.8C +/- 0.4C because it had to be large enough to justify their formation and by claiming that doubling CO2 is equivalent to 3.7 W/m^2 of forcing, multiplying 3.7 by .8 gave them the 3C they needed. THERE WAS NO OTHER CRITERIA FOR ESTABLISHING THIS VALUE.

        The IPCC will never correct the sensitivity because to do so eliminates their reason to exist as the actual sensitivity is somewhere between 0.2 and 0.3 C per W/m^2 and well below their stated lower limit. About the only thing any entrenched bureaucracy is good at is maintaining their relevance, and the IPCC has done an excellent job at doing so by using fake facts, here say, scaremongering, political opportunism, a self serving consensus and the sloppiest science ever conceived.

        Beside, they don’t need to fix the sensitivity as they’re the infallible authority that their minions appeal to when confronted with politically uncomfortable truths. What I find so incredible is that this obvious conflict of interest is ignored ‘for the greater good’, yet the reality is that it’s for the greater harm of man, the biosphere and science itself.

      • Heck, I just point out that just because the Earth is gently warming, that is not evidence that CO2 is causing it. And even if the alarmists come up with a finely-tuned theory of CO2 warming that pretty well explains the past and halfway decently predicts the future — well, cycles and epicycles did a pretty good job of explaining and predicting the movement of the planets in the night sky, too.

    • Go back and read the post, The Button Counter from yesteday. Then get back to us with an assessment of the utility of the posts at “arcticseaicenews”.

    • “Science hypotheses are proved or disproved by more science.”

      That’s like saying problems are always solved by throwing more money at them. The only way to prove scientific hypotheses is via proper application of scientific methods. The current climate science status quo (your ‘more science’) will only guarantee that more money is wasted and problems will be created rather than solved.

    • Standard Griff, it anything has warmed, even if it’s only imaginary, it’s caused by CO2 and proof that we must eliminate CO2 emissions immediately. Do it for the children.

      • MarkW – This isn’t what Griff is saying. He’s saying that the “science” of global warming must be examined scientifically and not as a popularity contest that you decide by popular vote. And he’s obviously right.

        But he’s not right in assuming that the way climate science has been conducted amounts to true science. To clarify my view, a lot of true science has been conducted by the warmist side – but it’s been manipulated in a most un-scientific way. The best pro-agw science has been sold by politicians and p.r. people (some of whom actually profess to be scientists) as incontrovertible/free of doubt. “Anyone who challenges it is a denialist.” This is not science but bullying and politics at its worst.

        The essayist makes a valid observation in saying that the default view of the naive is to think science is an intellectual exercise performed by people who are shut off from the human world of politics and greed. Being a non-scientist and retired lawyer, I tended toward this view myself until Climategate opened my eyes, and I learned that scientists are all too human in their often tribal and political behavior. This problem, of course, afflicts both sides in this debate.

      • Well, what Grift was ACTUALLY saying was exactly the way MarkW characterized it, just hiding it behind ‘officialdom’ – where it basically is, in fact, an ideological popularity contest of the sort that tends to materialize in any close-minded, group-think environment. Actually, it’s kind of a combo of popularity contest/appeal to authority (after the authority has been safely coopted).

        It’s also an example of the opportunistic use of the ‘consensus statement’ – usually some empirical truth that any skeptic would agree with – like ‘climate change is real and humans are contributing’ – and because he quotes a simplified bumper sticker that supposedly validates all the unspoken associations (i.e. the alarmism) that has been attached by constant propaganda.

        It’s simply more dishonesty, and a fairly standardized, and transparent technique of implying one thing while saying another.

      • It’s simply more dishonesty, and a fairly standardized, and transparent technique of implying one thing while saying another.

        “Motte and bailey (MAB) is a combination of bait-and-switch and equivocation in which someone switches between a “motte” (an easy-to-defend and often common-sense statement, such as “culture shapes our experiences”) and a “bailey” (a hard-to-defend and more controversial statement, such as “cultural knowledge is just as valid as scientific knowledge”) in order to defend a viewpoint. Someone will argue the easy-to-defend position (motte) temporarily, to ward off critics, while the less-defensible position (bailey) remains the desired belief, yet is never actually defended.

        In short: instead of defending a weak position (the “bailey”), the arguer retreats to a strong position (the “motte”), while acting as though the positions are equivalent. When the motte has been accepted (or found impenetrable) by an opponent, the arguer continues to believe (and perhaps promote) the bailey.

        Note that the MAB works only if the motte and the bailey are sufficiently similar (at least superficially) that one can switch between them while pretending that they are equivalent.”

    • Griff,

      I don’t think there is so much in your comment that I would disagree with. However, it is important to point out that you quote me out of context. What I actually wrote was:

      “Under such circumstances, questioning the CAGW hypothesis cannot be labelled as anti-scientific.”

      The circumstances I allude to are:

      a) the emphasis placed upon post-normal science and;
      b) reliable evidence that the IPCC is not being entirely above board in the way that the science is communicated to the public.

      Whilst I agree that some of the commentary that opposes CAGW is anti-scientific in spirit, it does not logically follow that it is, perforce, anti-scientific to question a hypothesis that has been accepted on the basis of post-normal science, particularly when set against a backdrop of political intriguing.

      Please also keep in mind that in post-normal science it is not a question of proving or disproving hypotheses. Instead, decisions are to be made, based upon a comparison of the likelihoods and utilities of alternative outcomes. What matters, therefore, is not whether a hypothesis is proven, but whether it is more likely than the alternatives considered. Obviously, one also has to evaluate the consequences of miscalculating the comparison. Naturally, it is essential that the decisions should be evidence based but, ultimately, the final decision is not a scientific one but a political one supported by science.


      • John,
        Griff does not understand the difference between precision and accuracy, so there is no possibility of him grasping your nuanced approach.

      • John, I am pretty sure from reviewing Griff’s comments that Griff either doesn’t know what “science” really is or his definition is distinctly different than the classical meaning. He has made it obvious that he doesn’t understand or care about Scientific Method or he has redefined it as consensus building. He has so bought into to CAGW that if this latest cold outbreak turned out to be the beginning of the next ice age he would still blame it on carbon dioxide. Why? Because the “priests” he is devoted to said so.

      • I’ve always doubted that atmospheric CO2 levels have anything to do with Earth’s temperatures. The Earth’s climate history plainly shows it does not, so why should I believe the opposite? As I LOVE to put it these days (in particular), “Observation TRUMPS theory.”

    • @Griff

      It depends on how the question is framed….

      But if framed correctly, then it is perfectly acceptable.

      “alleging it can’t be true because experts are wrong”

      Nobody frames it this way, ergo it is perfectly acceptable.

    • Griff,

      “Science hypotheses are proved or disproved by more science.”

      Yes, so why does the IPCC ignore the preponderance of science that precludes their hypothesis of an absurdly high climate sensitivity? Can you cite a reason other than to preserve their relevance?

      Citing presumed warming in the Arctic doesn’t cut it as this does absolutely nothing to establish the cause of the presumed warming.

      Ice cores show rates of change in long term averages that exceed the ‘catastrophic’ short term changes we currently observe, even if it’s real. The laws of physics support a theoretical sensitivity between 0.2C and 0.3C per W/m^2 and falsifies the IPCC sensitivity in many ways. The satellite data supports a sensitivity well within the theoretical range. The concept of feedback was wildly misapplied by Hansen and Schlesinger by violating the preconditions of linearity and the requirement for an implicit source of Joules to power the gain other than the forcing input. Can you offer a lucid explanation for why the IPCC denies these immutable facts?

      • George,

        Is your email server down? I’ve had a couple emails to you over the past week returned as undeliverable a couple days later.

    • Griff;

      Have you actually read up on Galileo and more generally on celestial mechanics?

      Galileo was persecuted for making up stuff when he had no evidence and even misusing scripture to prove his baseless points. Galileo was also ***WRONG*** ! Galileo was a champion of Copernican heliocentrism which was nothing more than Ptolemaic geocentrism with enough application of the Parallel Axis theorem to put the Sun inside the orbits of the other planets, but not at the center of any orbital motion. All of the orbital motions were in the same plane and all orbits consisted of cycles, equants, and epicycles.

      The correct celestial mechanics were only figured out when Kepler gave up trying to curve fit Tycho Brahe’s meticulous data to perfect circular orbits and sought other curves to fit the data. He found that the orbits were ellipses with the Sun at one focus. His curve fitting determined his three laws of planetary motions without knowing Newton’s laws of gravitation.

      Kepler found the truth, because he was willing to reject the consensus that planetary motions were composed of perfect circles, even though he started from a variation of the consensus thinking.

      That global warming has slowed down is a scientific fact. That the slowdown in global warming happened at the same time as human emissions of CO2 have been increasing is another scientific fact. Based on these two facts, the hypothesis that human emissions of CO2 are the dominant driver of global warming must be discarded.

      • My Astronomy professor taught me that a Keplerian janitor is one who sweeps over equal areas in equal times.

    • Oh look, Arctic sea ice is FAR higher than during the MWP when there was probably less aCO2.

      Arctic sea ice decrease since the EXTREMES of the late 1979s is TOTALLY UNRELATED to CO2…

      and is evidence ONLY of the recovery from the extremes of the LIA, and the cyclic nature of the AMO.

      • Does he also hang around when posts’ comments are close to being disabled so he can have the last word?

    • “Here is some science reporting, showing evidence in support of the observed effects of warming in the arctic”

      This is true Griff and so is the likelihood that the slight mostly beneficial warming has increased heavy rains for some events because of more moisture in the atmosphere.

      However, “objective” scientists don’t just see the bad stuff when assessing the effect on life with regards to increasing CO2.

      Just as powerful, with just one picture/graph we see that our planet is greening up:

      An objective scientist, can then ask. What is more important to life on this planet?
      Having alot of ice in the Arctic?
      The law of photosynthesis?

      No question that most life outside of human life would prefer the conditions that are causing a greener planet vs more ice in the high latitudes…………even if oceans started to accelerate higher.

      But humans grow and eat green things too. We call them crops and there are over 7 billion humans to feed, some that would not have enough food if global temperatures had not increased 1 deg. C and CO2 had not increased from around 280 ppm to 405 ppm.

      2015………………….hottest year ever!
      2016…………………even hotter!
      2017……………..3rd hottest year ever!

      This is what happened to food production………..not in spite of those conditions but BECAUSE of them, especially the added CO2.

      But global climate model projections tell us that crops will eventually suffer from increasing drought, heat and heavy rains.
      So far, they have been wrong about the effects on crops, which have consistently out performed expectations from better than expected weather and the effects of atmospheric fertilization from increasing CO2(on top of technological advances).

      The law of photosynthesis and key role of CO2 is well understood………by even elementary school children(though today, they teach them that CO2 is pollution). Only biased scientists choose to ignore the green realities. .

    • “Science hypotheses are proved or disproved by more science”

      Or in this case come back in 80 years and see who was correct. In my annual peek at Scientific American they boast of now being able to attribute humanity’s influence in a single extreme weather event, by comparing the output of a model run with the observed weather. Where a difference is seen, it is attributed to humanity (rather than a faulty model).

    • “When you can’t answer that question, you’re the anti science hillbilly.”
      Griff is paid neither to answer questions nor understand science.

      He is paid to disrupt climate science blogs that question the official AGW gospel and to attempt to discredit honest climate scientists who fail to follow the establishment line, and to be fair, he’s quite good at it, as the number of posts his squirrel has spawned on this thread demonstrates quite nicely.

  2. I have become anti-science-as-it-is-currently-practiced. The perverse reward system for scientists produces a situation where most published research findings are wrong. It’s a waste of time, money, and talent. link

    Scientists are fully aware of the problem. In spite of that we have some of them sanctimoniously insisting that we base our lives and public policy on what they tell us. “Listen to science”, they say.

    “Bugger off and clean up your house”, I say.

    • I agree with commieBob. I am a physician and scientist and am continually embarrassed by the structures, processes and outputs of academia. It is not a problem easily solved and I don’t believe it is even a new problem. It is human nature. The above essay is a great discussion of the problem as it presents in democratic society where everyone quite rightly expects to be able to have and act on their own beliefs, often with little regard for what science tells them, and where, what science tells them is often, if not usually colored by what the patrons wanted science to say.

      I have one concern with the essay which applies equally to Pascal’s wager and the precautionary principle as applied to Global Warming. In both cases the they are described as if there is minimal to no cost to go along with he consensus view and, at least a chance of significant cost/risk of doing otherwise. In the case of Pascal’s wager the costs of following the consensus can easily be seen in retrospect by assessing the impact of organized religion where the lever of afterlife promise/extortion has been successfully used to accumulate massive resources from the believers that are then used, most usually for purposes other than the wellbeing of the people who generated the sources initially.

      In the case of Global Warming we are told that even if CO2 is not a driver of dangerous warming or climate change, the changes we make in response can have nothing but beneficial consequences. This is an ignorant, unsupported claim that ignores the huge benefits cheap energy has provided to society and the enormous injury to human wellbeing that follows with its removal. When one can find clear evidence that CO2 levels have been many times current levels in earlier geologic history without any climate catastrophe being triggered, and that current rising levels of CO2 are associated with a greening of the biosphere (not surprising as low CO2 levels are growth limiting) and a dramatic improvement in crop productivity, it is obvious that the precautionary principle is being used in reverse of what logic would dictate.

      • Andy, you are being most chartable in your assessment of the downside costs of religion. Most of the strife in the world is the cost of such adherence.

      • In your belief system, absent religion people would naturally get along with each other and there would be few if any conflicts??????
        If that is what you truly believe, than you have never met any actual people.
        Religion is often used as an excuse for what those in power were intending to do anyway. Absent religion they would have found some other excuse.

      • Here’s the alternative to a religious point of view:
        * I got here by accident
        * there is no ultimate meaning to my life
        * I don’t have free will (according to neuroscientist Sam Harris and others)
        * I’m just an animal with a bigger brain
        * after I die it won’t make any difference to me personally whether my life was very good or very evil

        I find that perspective very dehumanizing, almost to the point of self loathing.

        I’ve found it’s very possible to have a Christian religious perspective that capitalizes on the positive potentials, and reduces the negative aspects that are often and rightly pointed out. As they say, “The devil is in the details.” In short, you need to do a lot of thinking for yourself.

      • Ralph Westfall January 5, 2018 at 1:23 pm

        * I don’t have free will

        What’s the alternative? Given the chaotic and complex nature of reality, the idea of predestination is risible. Most of the things that define us are emergent phenomena and by definition can’t be predicted. link Free will means that you do matters and you are responsible for what you do.

      • Andy, I never liked Pascal’s Wager. For one historically the belief or non-belief in God had far more ramifications to one’s well being than whether there was an afterlife or not since it had little to do with God’s response and more to do with someone swinging an axe or sword. Christianity did not take a violent path until it became a political tool. Similar the “religion” of CAGW appears to be going in the same direction. It long ago left the realm of true scientific enquiry and debate and became an orthodoxy where heretics in any other era would be burned at the stake.

      • Hi cB:

        Free will means that (what) you do matters and you are responsible for what you do.

        Most of the things that define us are emergent phenomena and by definition can’t be predicted.

        I totally agree about personal responsibility. But perhaps I wasn’t clear enough that I reject the idea that I didn’t have free will, as well as rejecting the associated concept of predestination.

        A couple of other quibbles:
        1. Being unpredictable doesn’t equate to having free will. If my behavior is controlled by random events it’s not determinate, but it still isn’t free either.

        2. “Emergent behavior” is often shorthand for “We don’t have a clue as to how this happens, but there must be an explanation that’s not inconsistent with our worldview.” It’s kind of like the phrase “spontaneous remission,” which a doctor used to describe the unexpected disappearance of a tumor in my former pastor’s chest.

        There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
        Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
        – Hamlet (1.5.167-8)

      • * I got here by accident * there is no ultimate meaning to my life * I don’t have free will (according to neuroscientist Sam Harris and others) * I’m just an animal with a bigger brain * after I die it won’t make any difference to me personally whether my life was very good or very evil

        That is a ‘valid’ hypothesis. Also valid is the idea of a meddling scorekeeper in the sky doling out prophesy and penance. But the droll fact is, looking over my life I have not been personally swayed or interested by by either camp. I have tried to avoid this contrived existence conundrum because it is boring to me. As I’ve moved in social circles as a member of none, yet not a declared an outcast by either, I guess it has paid off. I can neither afford steak nor have been burned at one.

        Thus I am free to pose to Christians that God may indeed have set evolution in motion with a tiny tap on some amino acids and is passively observing the experiment like a True Scientist, not giggling and slapping the aquarium like an impatient spoiled child “to make the fishies dance!”, the essence of Old Testament Jehovah. It makes them a bit uncomfortable.

        I am also free to pose this very same hypothesis to irreligious folk — and it makes them uncomfortable too because God has stepped in uninvited. Deep down they know that even if a SINGLE natural spontaneous assemblage of acids is the ascendant root of all life here and now… even if they build a computer model that ‘does it’ in virtual reality, would that help them prove it? And isn’t the various bibbles with their creation myths wetware computer models of a sort?

        That is why movies like The 13th Floor and The Matrix are popular. People are weary of this God/oursnottheirs—or—-nothing/chaos /beveryafraid false dichotomy and are desperate for fun and finger-friendly alternative scenarios.

        In my imaginary utopia God-fearing and irreligious folk join hands to better the world and ensure species survival, and only Existential Philosophers stand preaching unlistened-to on street corners begging for loose change. Take Sunday off to worship God or Booze, but show up for work on Monday.

      • Take Sunday off to worship God or Booze, but show up for work on Monday.

        You’ve got it wrong. Saturday is for booze. Sunday is to worship God.

  3. “Some would say, therefore, that the IPCC’s politicking is the true face of anti-science.”

    True statement. And acedemia and Govt’s around the world are cashing in on this deliberate manufactured fr@ud.

  4. Falsifiability and reproducibility have been discarded in favor of infallibility.

    With the IPCC’s summaries as an infallible foundation, the CAGW hypothesis
    has been fortress being built block by block before our very eyes.

    Prestige, accolades and money keep the CAGW masons at their work stations.

  5. The sad reality is AGW sceptics think they can win by proving the science behind AGW to be false.
    However, as the author suggest the problem with this, is that this does not matter at all because it does not draw its strength from the quality of its science in the first place. Rather like religion or politics, its strength comes from the ‘impact’ of its message not its quality. For example seen recently in the press coverage of research, which falls to bits the first time it is consider. The ‘value’ of this work was found in the PR it gained, its poor quality and bad scientific practice meant nothing at all .
    And at this stage you need to remember that third rate, at best, people like Mann and Lew paper are seen as ‘leaders ‘ in this field and hence why it’s always climate ‘science ‘ For that which is unacceptable in any other area of science , is not merely acceptable but rewarded in this area.
    What is seen is the classic problem of fighting on the wrong battlefield, proven the science to be BS achieves little, because it not about the science in the first place.

    • Very true. Climate scientists will not change their minds, no matter what. That doesn’t make them that unusual, merely human.

      And politicians will not hesitate to spend other people’s money making themselves look virtuous, particularly if the amount spent at first is small and the downsides some way off.

      And the activists will continue to shout louder and louder and call dissenters any name they want because that is how they justify their own virtue and activities.

      We do not live in a rational world, but one of self-interest and self-justification, and fighting unreason with reason will never work.

      • The fact that they will not change their mind means they are, in fact, *NOT* “scientists” at all. By definition. Any scientist worthy of the title WILL change his/her mind, the minute that the application of the scientific method dictates that they do so. But the garbage they are producing has nothing to do with the application of the scientific method, and is not science. It is the pushing of a political agenda. And that explains their obstinance. That, and their egos.

      • Very true, but you do not have to convince the fanatics. You only have to cause enough believers to doubt. The fanatics position will become untenable in the face of the majority. You must aim your arguments where they can be effective. Take the undecided to the polling station and present your arguments on the way.

    • I would not say Mann is “third rate”. He is a good oceanographer. His mistake was to go off-topic into tree ring climate reconstructions and put his name on the disastrous Yamal study.

  6. Most people are intelligent sceptics who challenge mainstream climate science to a greater or lesser extent. I think we have to agree though that there are the occasional bonkers types on both sides who scream that nothing is ever an issue and it’s all a Commie conspiracy plot or that we are all doomed tomorrow for driving old cars. Just ignore them, they can never be persuaded to indulge in intelligent discussion.

    • Gareth, I think you mean “most people [on this site] are intelligent….”
      “Most” grabs a pretty big armful that probably isn’t justified. 🙂

      [???? .mod]

      • I think you misunderstand me Rocketman. I am actually referring to everyone full stop.
        The enquiring mind of humanity as it were. The belief in mainstream climate science runs across a spectrum. There are those who tend to the more sceptical end with regard to mainstream climate science, which we see many examples of here, and those who tend towards the belief in mainstream science such as myself or Griff and a few others. There are also those in the middle who are not interested or don’t give a hoot. The people and posters who inhabit the extreme ends on either end of the spectrum are the ones to avoid. They will never debate from an informed or intelligent perspective. They may not even have the capacity to do so. Sadly, sometimes they undermine debate with daft ideas.
        But most people with an interest in climate science are intelligent sceptics, whatever end of the spectrum they inhabit. Have you ever met anyone who believes all of the climate science 100% of the time? or someone who dismisses it all 100%? Hope this is a bit clearer 🙂
        Not sure what you mean by (????.mod ) Is it a request for interpretation?

      • I don’t have a button to reply to Gareth. I agree with his comment, and I am much more sceptical than he or Griff on climate science. It’s great to see someone on the ‘other side’ to me with a similar view.
        I frequently disagree with Griffs views but appreciate the interest, and personal resilience he/she shows here.

  7. “Consensus” percentages of 97-99% are found in presidential elections in places like North Korea, and assent to CAGW among climate scientists. Such very high percentages show simply that the consensus is not genuine, but is the result of enforced conformity due to fear and intimidation.

    They dont show that the choice of president is the people’s choice, or that there is any scientific merit in CAGW. These high percentages just show that a violence-based dictatorship has been established.

  8. There are so many things wrong with this that it is hard to know where to start. Pascal’s wager gets to the heart of the matter in that the choice isn’t simply to accept a small inconvenience to open the possibility of paradise. Rather the choice is to forgo critical thinking to give people a way to cope with their darkest fear. Fear drives where society is going. We are prepared to proscribe all sorts of behaviour to mitigate even the most fanciful risk. This leads to such absurdities as grown adult professionals walking around in open fields with hardhats on to protect themselves from “falling hazards”. Once you relinquish the need for evidence, there is no end to the absurdity that ensues.

    Fear has becoming the driving force in everything we do. Weather reports report windchill, all the better to make us afraid for our own good. Parents are crippling their children by not allowing them out to play. Silicon valley tech weenies are investing in life extension technology because they can’t accept that death is necessary for life. Enter into this the CAGW scare where we are led to believe that all climate change is bad and that we must fight to prevent it. Once critical assessment is suspended all types of irrational behaviour are possible because who wouldn’t want to protect themselves from invisible falling objects by the barely inconvenient act of wearing a hardhat at all times?

    It takes courage to say that we don’t have enough data to make a decision. Expert solicitation is a dangerous solution to inadequate data because experts have vested interests and they are willing to give their opinions for a lot less money than it takes to do research. Politicians tend to be comfortable with spending less money for an inferior product. Hence the current popularity of modelling. It is so much cheaper than data collection. Scientists have to be willing to hold fast and say when they don’t have enough information. Funding should not be contingent on selling fear. Scientists who speculate about the natural world with inadequate observation are repeatedly and routinely wrong. Scientist have no magic powers to see the truth in spite of what they tell themselves. Without data they are empty handed. Big scary claims must be accompanied by big scary data, not modelling or consensus. We might not know if CAGW is real, we certainly don’t know the consequences of it but there is a very high probability based on past experience, that we will cope very well with it, whatever it is. Using fear to justify irrational behaviour has to stop. The wicked problem is almost always overblown hyperbole.

    • “There are so many things wrong with this that it is hard to know where to start.”

      What a bizarre post. It was apparently so “hard to know where to start” that you in fact didn’t. You made a half-hearted effort at starting by taking a different approach to Pascal’s wager which whilst being perfectly valid does nothing to demonstrate wrongness in the authors’ approach. We can choose to analyse singularities using the formalisms of quantum mechanics or circuit theory and the results of both are equally valid. Merely different faces of the same object.

      Following that you made your own observations which again whilst being perfectly sensible in my own view do nothing to demonstrate wrongness in any part of the article. I thought both the article and your own views were largely correct and instructive but why you claim the article to be completely wrong is to me at least a bit of a mystery.

      • BCBillll – There are so many things wrong with THIS that it is hard to know where to start.

        It all seems to hinge on what BCBill meant by THIS. If he is referring to Pascals Wager, I follow. If he is referring to the authors work, I am in the same boat as Cephus0.

    • To accept the possibility of God, is to forgo critical thinking?
      BCBill, all you have managed to do is demonstrate the opposite.

    • “Scientists who speculate about the natural world with inadequate observation are repeatedly and routinely wrong.”

      Speculation is perfectly OK. That’s part of science. However, scientists who insist that their speculations alone constitute science are irresponsible.frauds.

      • I often comment that some scientists, such as synthetic chemists, often get to find they were wrong less than 24 hours after starting an experiment. This induces a certain degree of humility.

        Many climate scientists will be retired and in their graves before their pet theories are shown to be garbage. I think this accounts for their hubris.

    • “…This leads to such absurdities as grown adult professionals walking around in open fields with hardhats on to protect themselves from “falling hazards”.”

      I’ve worn a hardhat around many open fields and even plants where there was only one small two-story building in the entire facility. That’s what you do. If I realize I need to go to into that building, I don’t want to walk half a mile back to the main office to get my hat. Hardhats are generally required to work in those locations, regardless of hazards. Hardhats are a means of identification and provide sun protection. They can be used to display proof of various types of safety training, as well as company affiliation. I’ve used one to carry a large sample back to the laboratory for testing. What looks absurd to you often makes sense if you know the full story.

      I still have dreams where I’m out in the plant and have forgotten to wear my hardhat.

  9. I don’t know any “Anti-Science Denier”: all of them deniers I am familiar have vast scientific knowledge, and try to use it as properly as possible (doesn’t make them error-free, of course, but they do try)
    On the other hand, all of them believers I am familiar with have ZERO scientific knowledge. They don’t even try to think by themselves, they just believe what they are told by untrustworthy. media they trust nonetheless

    • Very well put.
      I engaged an alarmist in an online debate and the alarmist admitted the views they were advocating were not their own and that they don’t think about the subject, instead preferring to swallow the pal-reviewed “literature” wholesale.

      I invited them to purchase a bridge I’m selling.

      They didn’t know what “buying a bridge” meant, yet preached to all and sundry about CAGW.

      • They are indistinguishable from people who believe in a religious book, and rely on others to tell them what it says/means. They are followers of men, not independent thinkers.

  10. Nice article!
    Pascal’s wager is a great analogy.
    Creating a fantastical hell of infinite badness, drives the “logic” of the post-normal decision process toward adopting a religious belief and practice that is based on entirely untestable dogmas. Welcome to the IPCC.

    • Pascal’s wager, however, emphasized the trivial cost of compliance. Don’t murder your neighbor or tell lies about him. Don’t steal from him or fool around with his wife. Low to no cost behavior and the result is infinite happiness. With CAGW, the costs are massive, and you’d be better off financially adapting than preventing, assuming there was any validity to the claim in the first place.

      • Sorry, but if your concept of entrance to Heaven is granted on the evil things you do or don’t do, you’re sorely misinformed. The New Testament is clear that salvation is based upon faith, not on works.

    • I always preferred what I believe is the Orthodox Jewish concept of the afterlife, where the punishment,as it were, was to be kept from the Presence of God. A much more subtle pain than Dante’s Inferno.

      • Most people can’t get their heads around what the Absence of God is like, so the Church preached fire & brimstone as being easier to grasp. It’s not sin that dooms us; it’s the self-will that goes with it.

        • You can blame Dante Alghieri for that. The depiction of Hell was all his (and a political satire to boot!), and I suppose The Church just couldn’t pass up such a great depiction of eternal punishment.

    • Actually, I think the author uses Pascal’s wager in a grossly wrong way. The Wager is a purely philosophical argument that involves a binary outcome: eternity with or without God. On the other hand, CAGW, and the application of the Precautionary Principle to it (which is what I believe the author is writing about even though not stated), has as its outcome…..what exactly??? Instead of definite outcomes, we get a whole range of possibilities that are only physical, not spiritual/metaphysical.

      • Remember, Dante’s Ninth Circle of Hell was a frozen wasteland. The Inferno wasn’t just fire and brimstone, it was also ice and snow. Hell could provide any kind of punishment to a sinner… just like CAGW does.

  11. Here’s a nice old fashioned testable prediction: by mid-century the world’s coral reefs will be more or less bleached to death. That a phylum which survived the end-Permian extinction (anoxia of most of the seas) will have been extincted by CO2 levels 40 times lower than they were in the Cambrian when they evolved (~20,000 ppm).

    By 2050 I will be 85 years old. If I’m still alive and sentient then, I’ll check on how the corals are doing.

    • What really does need bleaching is anyone’s mind following absorption of any kind of brainwashing from the truly psychotic BBC. I live in the UK and the day those maniacs extract a single penny from me in license fees for the ‘privilege’ of being constantly bombarded with lunatic hyper-left pseudoscientific state-sponsored propaganda is the day Satan will be skating to work.

    • Ptolemy im only a few years off that age now, but Im planning to live to 2050. I use a lot of broccoli and the precautionary principal the way it’s supposed to be used.

    • Noting that my spouse is a marine biologist, environmentalist, and oceans-lover going back to her early teen years…

      There’s significant research, going back more than a decade, demonstrating that certain chemicals in sunscreen, at incredibly low concentrations, greatly exacerbate the bleaching effect.

      Those with financial or political interest in denying the evidence try to misdirect people in other directions, but the research is quite solid.

      More research is needed of course. I’ve not yet found a large enough study to analyze exactly how low a concentration is deleterious, nor any truly practical methods of discovering how much the seawater chemistry is actually changed by specific actions of either human (SCUBA) visitors or ocean currents.

      Here’s an example from 2008:
      (There’s even earlier work by a group based in Japan but I’ve not yet pulled it up…)

    • “By 2050 I will be 85 years old. If I’m still alive and sentient then, I’ll check on how the corals are doing.” –PtolemyII

      I’m approaching that age, but I’m happy to say I still have a memory like one of those big grey animals.

  12. An interesting article indeed. But also one which again confirms my long held suspicion that somehow our (modern) embrace of falsifiability as the one and only criterion for science according to the scientific method is to blame for our seemingly lost cause to uphold reason!

    What I am talking about is the proper epistemological method, for which there is an alternative which too few people know about (yet). It has been under development for some time now following the tradition of Newton: never allow the arbitrary to enter an hypothesis. An hypothesis itself should have firm evidence grounded in data before it may qualify as an hypothesis. Rather than falsifiability applied to an arbitrary (even if semi-plausible) hypothesis and theory, the criterion should be that one follows a valid path of inductive reasoning using valid concepts and factual data along the way. I think we must hold this approach as a hallmark of the scientific method. It would make us immune to all the postmodern nonsense, since it could never enter the arena.

    One may consult the work by Dave Harriman ( to learn more about this theory of knowledge. His book “The logical leap” impressively recounts major discoveries and theories in physics and analyses these in terms of the inductive reasoning that is applied. He contrasts this also to the hypothetical-deductive method which leads to failure whenever the hypothesis is in essence an arbitrary one (as in the case of the rationalistic approach of Rene Descartes in his theory of light).

    The fact that we are currently confronted with “post modern science” is due to the failure of philosophy to apply reason to their field, thereby undercutting science and scientific progress itself. Although this take on history may be new to the reader at WUWT, you might be impressed – as I was – by for example the fight by Stefan Boltzman against the poisoned philosophical views of Ernst Mach in the late 19th century.

    So this is a call-to-arms to improve our epistemological foundations for our cause.
    Curious to learn what your thoughts are!

    • When I was a young man most US colleges required during your freshman or sophomore year a class in formal logic and western philosophy; no longer. Every science course I took started with a history of that field of science; again no longer. Many believe they are thinking when the little “wheels” are whirring away in their brain, little more than random synapse connections. I know of few colleges today that teach critical thinking. Without such teaching it is difficult to imagine continued creative thinking, especially creative scientific thinking.

  13. *Sigh* another WUWT article divorced from how science actually works. The IPCC is just a club that collects info. They don’t do any research themselves. If they were to disappear tomorrow, exactly zero would change with respect to the science behind climate change. This blog post just another attempt to portray a very large and differentiated body of scientific work as the result of one small corrupt club and therefore easily dismissable. Always interesting to read up on the WUWT alternative reality but it’s just not true.


    • Ben, you claim that the article suggests that IPCC conducts research? Where?

      I see no such thing in the article. It does however assign an important role to the IPPC as a political instrument. And as such it does have a big influence on funding through all kinds of mechanisms.

      Moreover, my impression is that readers of WUWT do not “easily dismiss” things, they are just critical/skeptical towards any claim, especially those which enable big government to take control of individual’s lives.

      My point in my previous comment above addresses precisely this thing: that the hypothesis of CO2 dominated climate – leading to catastrophic global warming, is in fact an arbitrary one and should be dismissed right out of hand from the start.

      Keep on reading.

      • “Ben, you claim that the article suggests that IPCC conducts research? Where?”

        From the article
        ” However, one should keep in mind that the IPCC was also set up with the expressed intention of INVESTIGATING CLIMATE CHANGE, where ‘climate change’ is defined as human-caused climate change.”
        (my caps).

        carry out a systematic or formal inquiry to discover and examine the facts of (an incident, allegation, etc.) so as to establish the truth.

        the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.

      • Toneb,

        For the avoidance of further confusion: the IPCC doesn’t undertake original climate science research but it does “investigate climate science”, i.e. investigate the current state of consensus and understanding within climate science. Although I might have made myself clearer, there is nothing in my article to suggest that I believe the IPCC does the former, which is what I take to be Ben’s accusation.

        It may also be germane to point out that, whilst the IPCC does not, itself, undertake original climate science research, many of the scientists working within its undertaking do so, and they are not averse to citing their own work.


      • Hi John, thanks for your response. Words have meaning, so if you don’t want to say something, don’t say it.

        In general though, the IPCC is kind of irrelevant from a scientific point of view. They just collect stuff that we publish and give a summary. Scientist don’t look at the IPCC for guidance or anything like that. I’ve never ever read any of their reports. So all this stuff on WUWT about the IPCC doing this or that is just completely irrelevant when talking about science and scientists. (I’m an environmental scientist btw)


      • Ben,

        I’m sorry not to have got back to you sooner but I think we are working in different time zones; whilst you were busy lecturing me on the importance of words I was already tucked up in bed with my cocoa and a good dictionary.

        I’m afraid it is not good enough for you and Toneb to be getting over-excited regarding a discovered kinship between the words ‘investigate’ and ‘research’. What you have to understand is that words don’t just get their meaning from the dictionary; they also get their meaning from their position in a sentence structure and from the broader context of the sentence in which they appear. You are, of course, within your rights to insist that I said something that I didn’t, but I take solace from the fact that the vast majority of the people on this forum appear to have picked up my intended meaning without difficulty.

        But let us not get hung up on such quiddities. I think the more serious issue is your failure to appreciate that the article’s main theme is the interface between science and policy and how the nature of the scientific approach taken may bear upon how this interface is managed. Since the IPCC was set up explicitly to deal with this interface it would be perverse indeed to ignore their presence and influence. If you have anything to say regarding the science/policy interface then I would be interested to hear it. If you are not interested in this particular debate, that’s fair enough. But dismissing those who are interested, particularly when you do so using a false premise, will not win you many friends on this website.


      • haha John, you’re obviously more interested in scoring debating style points than getting into substantive discussions. Why? You made a mistake, own it and move on.

        I’m in science and I also regularly work with politicians and civil servants about translating science into policy. I assure you the IPCC does not come up at all. We have our own meteorological institute (the KNMI who’s data is incidentally used quite a lot here at WUWT) that makes it’s own climate models, focused on problems specific to our country (the netherlands). We have already had to make quite large adjustments in our water policies in response to the changes in weather patterns of the past decade, so naturally it’s a concern across the entire political spectrum.

        So while I do enjoy coming down here every now and then to engage with you guys (it’s good to keep yourself sharp), there just is a massive disconnect between how science and policy work on the ground (not just in Europe, I also spent a year at Yale; one of the IPCC guys had his office opposite to mine) and how it is portrayed here at WUWT, specifically the narrative that somehow the ever-present IPCC is the bogeyman. In reality they have very little to do with the day-to-day business of both science and policy at the level where actual work gets done.


      • Oh dear Ben.

        I had hoped that we could debate this issue without one of us descending to troll-style rhetoric and self-aggrandizement. I like to think I am a patient man, but I have no patience for this. So regrettably, this has to be where the little squabble has to end. Feel free to conclude with a triumphalist riposte. If you think that is keeping you ‘sharp’, then who am I to disabuse you?

    • +Sigh+ The IPCC is a club that collects info cheerfully donated by members
      who then review the info they or their immediate friends and family donated.

      Non-members are excluded if they don’t pledge allegiance and are often
      served a side order of vilification.

      Incestuous infallibility isn’t science as we thought we knew it.

    • “The IPCC is just a club that collects info”…and weaves it into far-reaching policy documents for politicians, even though they say they are not policy prescriptive.

      • So? Nobody has to read IPCC stuff. I’ve never read any of their reports. I prefer to just read the peppers themselves or more specialised outlets.

    • Except Ben, you missed the conclusion where it was stated that “Some would say, therefore, that the IPCC’s politicking is the true face of anti-science.” Nobody said the IPCC was directly conducting science…everyone knows that is all farmed out to lackies on their watch. The IPCC is a global political organization engaged in civil racketeering and emotional extortion, designed to insure any honest science is kept out of the public domain. The good news is, is that the truth always prevails in the end. Hopefully this exercise in intellectual dishonesty will serve future generations well when called upon to do the right thing.

    • Do you ever wonder why you’re allowed to post things like that here? Do you ever stop to consider that? Were I to go over to John Cook’s Skeptical Science and say “OMG another piece of pseudoscientific garbage from the SS morons” my post would be snipped and myself hell-banned within hours at the outside. You however are allowed to say whatever you wish here so long as you stay within the normal bounds of propriety. Could it be that this side is fully capable of withstanding scrutiny and invites critique whereas the other side is not? Now why on Earth would that be?

      • “Could it be that this side is fully capable of withstanding scrutiny and invites critique whereas the other side is not? Now why on Earth would that be?”

        It’s definitely the Alarmists who can’t stand scrutiny. Skeptics don’t need to use censorship like the Alarmists do.

      • I’m allowed to most here because this post here because WUWT would be boring without people like me haha. But I will note that Anthony once started to post my personal information on this board when I was getting a bit too much into detail. So I refrain from doing that nowadays.

        • So you feel that you can only go just so far with your devastating expose of the veracity of global warming or the evil Watts will dox you? Evil Emperor Watts will allow you to go just so far but no further? Have you any clue how delusional that sounds? Present your evidence and I swear on my mother’s life I will protect you from the deprecations of Anthony ‘Ming’ Watts.

      • hey, anthony was doxing my goodies. I have no idea why but I can only assume he didn’t like what I was saying. And I’m always super polite on the internet, so it’s nothing to do with that. Too bad the WUWT commenting history is impossible to look through otherwise I’d link you the event.

    • benben,

      Au contraire, monsieur.

      Perhaps you should re-read the article, starting with its title.

      The IPCC’s “Summary for Policymakers” has become the de-facto “bible” for politicians and promoters of all things “sustainable” in the Western World. It is still considered by the layperson to be a sober and scientific assessment of the purported “climate risks” from continued combustion of fossil fuels.

      This in turn results in research grants and establishment of entire faculties whose raison d’être is purportedly saving the planet from climate catastrophe. Conservatively, this is a multibillion dollar industry. So, yes, there are indeed vested interests at stake.

      A dismantling or a disappearance of the IPCC would indeed leave many would-be “climate researchers” out of a source of income, if only indirectly. Likewise, another high-profile IPCC embarrassment could send the enterprise into permanent tailspin (think of how well Pachauri would have fared in a post-Weinstein world – LOL).

      This is precisely what has angered most US-based climate scientists about the Trump agenda. The sluice gates to the gravy train may be closing. Perhaps you should get in line at the French Embassy in Washington, D.C.

      • Hi Kurt! I’m also in Switzerland! Snowboarding. Great snow!

        You are in fact wrong. The IPCC does not find anyone. It just costs a lot of money. Scientists generally don’t pay much attention to it either, because IPCC reports are always a couple of years behind the state of the art. In that sense it indeed is political organization. It’s influence is just vastly overstated here on WUWT.


      • benben: Kurt didn’t say the IPCC funds anyone (you wrote “find”, but I assume you meant “fund”). He said “It [the IPCC] is still considered by the layperson to be a sober and scientific assessment of the purported ‘climate risks’ from continued combustion of fossil fuels.

        “This in turn results in research grants and establishment of entire faculties whose raison d’être is purportedly saving the planet from climate catastrophe.”

        I’m guessing that English isn’t your first language, so you may have missed the difference between “results in research grants” and “funds research grants.” Outside actors read the IPCC reports, and based on those reports, decide what sort of research to funnel money towards. If the IPCC was not providing those reports, these actors would funnel their money elsewhere.

        As you said, own the mistake.

      • Perhaps. I’ll definitely own that spelling mistake. But the general tennet that somehow the IPCC determines what we research isjust wrong. They just report on what scientists publish in a more readable fashion, but they’re always to far behind the state of the art to be of use to scientists.


    • benben –

      Are you suggesting that the IPCC has not been effective in increasing political awareness of the climate change risk (and by corollary in increasing the funding to purportedly mitigate this risk)?

      • Happy New Year Ben.

        As we all know, the issue is the phenomenon’s magnitude. The science is well understood and not in question. All things considered there’s nothing wrong with this post.

        It is well known it has been sporadically warming since the coldest period of the last neo-glacial (The Little Ice Age). From the early 17th century what evidence there is in the instrumental record indicates mean temperature has increased .5 degrees C. per century. The Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) hypothesis suggests the late 20th century warming (.5 degrees C.) is mostly man-made (anthropogenic). Those advocating this position cite the heat trapping abilities of the added CO2 from combustion along with the supposed lack of any other valid explanation.

        But CO2 does not trap heat, it actually convects it (hot air rises). CO2 is a radiatively active molecule and is mostly IR (Infrared Radiation) resonant at an amplitude of 15 microns, for which the corresponding temperature is very cold, 5to 6 kilometers above the surface at TOA (Top Of the Atmosphere) where incoming solar IR is balanced with outgoing terrestrial IR. Hence the added man-made CO2 raises the average emission level to a colder level thus disturbing the equilibrium. This delays the TOA radiative cooling process, which means surface temperatures can only increase in order to re-establish equilibrium.

        Given the speed of light, to what extent this “delay” disturbs the equilibrium so as to increase surface temperatures in response to the added anthropogenic CO2 and supposedly change the climate is unknown and not in evidence. However, there are estimates ranging from next to zero to the IPCC’s range of 1.5 to 4.5 degrees C. per atmospheric doubling of somewhat dubious ice-core calculated pre-industrial atmospheric CO2 levels. And, as we all know, estimates aren’t measurements.

        Furthermore, the 0.5 degree C. attribution of the late 20th century warming to Anthro CO2 is nowhere near affirmed. The academic emphasis on CO2 seems to have removed the importance of the scrutiny required for the dismissal of the other arguments……Cloud cover variance, ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) in combination with the PDO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation) and the AMO (Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation), solar activity (not solar irradiance, which is a constant), libration’s impact on the magnetic fields and Earth’s orbital mechanics including the subtle changes of insolation in response to the Precession nutations….to name a few.

        What “evidence” there is amounts to extrapolations of short term trends apparent in the instrumental record, mathematical imagination (computer models), comparing mushy proxy temperature reconstructions with the instrumental record and using the taxpayer funded academic “consensus” as the icing on the cake.

        The AGW hypothesis is nothing more than supposition, a concept without the empirical evidence required to support the investment to fight the imagined catastrophic impacts.

        Regards, M.W. Plia.

      • Hi MW Plia. Happy New year to you too! I don’t think that the comment section of WUWT is the right place to discuss quantum dynamics, but I assure you the calculus are a lot more robust than you think. It’s just physics after all. I also assure you that other atmospheric process are also extensively explored and quantified. A lot of that research is Military funded in fact.


    • LOL

      … divorced from how science actually works …

      Science does not currently work the way people think it does, nor does it work the way it should. It’s bad. Anyone who wants a career in science has to deal with a perverse reward system that makes bad science the rule and good science the exception. Things get worse from there with the suppression of inconvenient research findings and outright fraud.

      WUWT has dealt with this before:
      Here are some other links.
      expert overclaiming
      drug industry corruption
      most published research findings are false

      • I have a career in science! And I’ve also written extensively about the flaws in the scientific system. But that doesn’t excuse the BS being posted on WUWT.

      • benben January 5, 2018 at 2:57 pm

        I have a career in science! …

        You also said:

        This blog post just another attempt to portray a very large and differentiated body of scientific work as the result of one small corrupt club and therefore easily dismissable.

        The evidence in the links I presented show that it is likely that the IPCC and its enthusiastic minions have indeed perverted the course of science because that’s how science actually works. Researchers will thrive better if they toe the IPCC party line than if they diverge from it. The result arising from that ground truth is entirely unsurprising.

        If you want a well documented example of the perversion of science, consider the case of the sugar industry, Ancel Keys, et al. link Dietary guidelines for two generations were corrupted by the bad science of Keys and his cohort. There were only a few of them in the core group but everyone else complied with the agenda. The few who presented differing views were easily dealt with.

        The evidence is that “one small corrupt club” can indeed have an oversized and malign influence on the whole field.

      • benben: In which “science” is your career? In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll say that my degree is in Geology, I’ve worked as a field geologist, a cartographer, and for the last 30 years or so a software developer and Oracle database DBA. Haven’t published, so I’m not a “real scientist,” but I am educated in science.

      • Hi James. I’m an environmental scientist with a degree in chemical engineering. Understanding the details of energy balance in the upper atmosphere is quite advanced quantum mechanics. Did you follow any courses in that? Otherwise I can recommend you some books to get started (general atmospheric physics and chemistry textbooks, not political stuff)


    • If the IPCC were to collapse tomorrow “the science” behind “climate change”, which actually is just pseudoscience would also collapse. The emperor in fact doesn’t have any clothes on.

    • *Sigh* another post by benben in which he demonstrates that he never bothered to actually read the article he’s commenting on.

    • “*Sigh* another WUWT article divorced from how science actually works.”

      Science works by using the Scientific Method — something Climate “Science’ has long abandoned.

      Three decades of failed predictions completely falsifies the CO2 CAGW propaganda.

      How does your science work Ben?

      • You say failed predictions, but if you look at the temp. record (not the satellite data but ground data, which is what models try to predict) it falls pretty well within the range of model predictions.

        Que the usual gnashing about data falsification etc. etc.

      • Micro6500, tbh I dont really understand what you’re showing there. We’re interested in the total energy content of the entire planetary climate system, not one component in isolation.

        • We’re interested in the total energy content of the entire planetary climate system, not one component in isolation.

          But that’s exactly what you are doing, it’s just one that we don’t have the data to perform.
          But that one component is the limiting factor to your goal.
          You can’t define how the planet accumulates energy until you understand the limits of cooling.
          And that is what that shows, the limits to cooling.
          What you don’t know or understand is that cooling is regulated. And it’s not regulated by co2, it has a minimal impact on cooling, and because this defines the energy question, it’s logical proof it’s not having any impact on overall energy. Ie global temps are not warming because of co2.

          You do understand how regulators and nonlinear circuits work, Right?

      • well… net change in energy content is obviously related to cooling. But to figure out how CO2 and other atmospheric components figure into this really requires a quite advanced level of quantum mechanics and modelling to get somewhere relevant, not an excel plot with a couple of lines. Ocean energy content and exchange is a whole different area of science. In the climate models they’re often separate modules designed by specialized teams of experts, linked together in the final models I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone at WUWT be able to write even a basic climate model. That would be pretty interesting actually. Are you up for the challenge?

        • Oh BS.
          It requires understanding circuits, energy flow and spectrometry.
          And if you understood any of that it is clear what this is.
          This benben, is what a water vapor powered regulator looks like.
          The high cooling rate slope is the one based on absolute water vapor, plus the noncondensing GHG’s. Your effect of co2 change is minimal, as shown in deserts where the temp drops up to 40F in one night.
          But once it has cooled relative to dew point, water starts emitting IR radiation that slows cooling, and is why net radiation drops 35W/m^2, but it only has to provide enough relative to dew point, and as you know there is a lot of energy stored as heat of evaporation in water vapor, and it has to be released first to condense.
          This whole lower atm is radiating from this, it’s acting like a ir space heater.
          There has to be an energy source, even when temps stop falling because the optical window is still anywhere from 70-100°F colder than the surface (depends on absolute water vapor).
          This is a property of atm radiation, you just have to understand it, and it doesn’t require quantum mechanics.

        • Oh, I have 15 years modeling experience, you going to pay me?
          My billable rate is $495/hr, they do discount though.

          [The mods require you not provide bikini, evening gown, head and shoulders view and sample photo shoots. .mod]

      • welllll last time I looked at physics, the fundamentals of radiation was still the domain of quantum mechanics. Always the same with people, thinking that just because they are master of their own little domain they are equally knowledgeable about another. Discussion closed! Have a good day Micro6500

        • Lol. Only one of my domains was the making transmitting, receiving and decoding em waves. And since the physics of that process hasn’t changed I know my domain expertise is just fine.

          But what you’re really saying is you have no clue about how radiation works.
          Get a clue benben.

          That’s why climate scientists don’t know what they’re talking about, they literally do not know what they are talking about.

        • Always the same with people, thinking that just because they are master of their own little domain they are equally knowledgeable about another. Discussion closed!

          My domain

          Data Migration Services Technical Director.
          Dates Employed Jun 2013 – Present
          Product Lifecycle Management . Client Server architecture on Oracle DB and BEA middleware. Data migration Specialist.
          Data Migration Services Technical Manager.
          Dates Employed Sep 2012 – May 2013
          Product Lifecycle Management . Client Server architecture on Oracle DB and BEA middleware. Data migration Specialist.
          Data Migration Services Senior Principle Consultant.
          Dates Employed Oct 2007 – Aug 2012
          Product Lifecycle Management . Client Server architecture on Oracle DB and OAS or BEA middleware. Data migration Specialist.
          Senior Application Engineer
          Dates Employed Jul 1997 – Sep 2007
          Product Lifecycle Management . Software Technical Sales and Implementation. Client Server architecture on Oracle DB and OAS or BEA middleware. Data migration Specialist.
          Senior Applications Engineer
          Dates Employed Feb 1991 – Jun 1997
          Computer Aided Engineering Software Technical Sales and Support. Digital, Analog, VHDL Design and Synthesis Software. UNIX and Windows Operating Systems.
          Application Engineer
          Dates Employed Nov 1984 – Jan 1991
          Computer Aided Engineering Software Technical Sales and Support. Responsibilities include hardware and software installation and trouble shooting for a UNIX based computer aided engineering workstations. Application Programs supported include Digital, Analog Simulation, PCB, and IC Layout.
          ASIC Designer, Part Time Subcontractor
          Company Name NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
          Dates Employed 1985 – 1989
          Designed a 6K Gate ECL Gate Array, for 300 Mhz data stream decoding. Library development for Fairchild ECL Array in conjunction with NASA.
          Reliability/ Component Application Engineer
          Jun 1982 – Nov 1984
          Worst case analysis of digital and microwave circuits, system management of a Valid system. Selection and specification of standard and custom integrated circuits to MIL-STD-883 Class B or Class S, and the performance of destructive physical analysis on integrated circuits. UNIX components part DB architect.
          Failure Analyst
          Company Name Harris Semiconductor
          Sept 1979- May 1982
          Device characterization of 1-2 Micron CMOS . Failure analysis of CMOS static RAMs, microprocessors, and peripheral chips. Trained on Scanning electron microscopes, Curve tracers, power supplies, custom Z-80 based computerized test system, and multimeters. Co-authored and presented a paper titled “A New Liquid Crystal for Field-Effect Viewing of 5Vcc CMOS Logic Families” at the 1982 International Reliability Physics Symposium.

          Go ahead and run away, that’s what little girls do when they get caught talking about stuff they don’t understand.
          If you have so little understanding about how this all works, what are you even doing in this discussion, you obviously do not have the technical skills to be involved.
          Are you just a cheerleader waving papers around you can’t explain?

          Go away.

      • That’s a fine CV you have there. I see loads of atmospheric physics and chemistry on it. Amazing. Now that we have established that you’re expertise is bigger than mine, we can also establish that the absorption of photons, interaction between photons and electrons, and the subsequent emission of photons of various molecules and elements is understood using… formulas and concepts from quantum mechanics. Feel free to have a look at the relevant wikipedia pages if you’re confused.


        • welllll last time I looked at physics, the fundamentals of radiation was still the domain of quantum mechanics. Always the same with people, thinking that just because they are master of their own little domain they are equally knowledgeable about another.

          This doesn’t sound quite the same as this now does it.

          we can also establish that the absorption of photons, interaction between photons and electrons, and the subsequent emission of photons of various molecules and elements is understood using… formulas and concepts from quantum mechanics.

          I never said it wasn’t based on QM either, just you didn’t need to solve QM to solve climate radiation flow, like you suggested was required when you insulted me. There are classical solutions to all of it, but you’d know that if you understood it.

      • No insult meant, just some spirited debate. Have you noticed how globally the world has tilted very strongly towards renwables and climate action? I guess everyone outside of the US right wing has concluded that QM based science is the way to go. And rightly so! I’m sure that those physics books of yours aren’t atmospheric physics. Correct? Anyway, let’s close this thread, it’s clearly going nowhere. Cheers!

        • You keep trying to avoid answering the question
          Why does it stop cooling at night under clear calm skies, when there’s a 100°F differential temp?

          And no I don’t, but I do have books by the guy who creates the theory of quantum electrodynamics, and I have 40+ years experience solving circuits that are more complicated than this one.
          So, why does it stop cooling when equilibrium with the surface has not been reached?

      • Hello Ben, it’s me again.

        In the final year of my physics honors degree course my specialization was ‘Advanced Quantum Mechanics’ (yes, that actually was the title of the course). I then went on to pursue a post-doctoral degree in theoretical nuclear physics at Sussex University. So, since quantum mechanics happens to be one of my ‘little domains’, perhaps I can help here.

        You are quite right that quantum mechanics explains the ‘fundamentals of radiation’, as you put it. But there again, by taking a reductionist perspective, one can say that it provides the theoretical underpinning for many subjects (optics, electronics and thermodynamics, to name just three). And yet, I did not require an understanding of any quantum mechanics to complete these courses at university. So, even though you are correct when you point out that some aspects of atmospheric modelling require an understanding of quantum mechanics, that doesn’t mean that an argument based upon radiative heat transfer has to be false simply because it does not address the quantum mechanical level. Often, the correct way to challenge a hypothesis based upon classical physics is to apply classical physics. Methinks, therefore, you overplay the quantum mechanics card.

        It might be fun to discuss with an environmental scientist, who has a degree in chemical engineering, the fine details of advanced quantum mechanics and its relevance to other branches of physics. However, you have already said, “I don’t think that the comment section of WUWT is the right place to discuss quantum dynamics”. Besides which, I’d much rather be discussing your bizarre theories regarding the irrelevance of the IPCC to world politics.


      • Hi John, please note that my point is that the IPCC has hardly any influence on science, not world politics (with the caveat: as far as I can see in my work, or hear from my colleagues). I also said that on a national level, in my country, our own climate institute and universities are influential, not the IPCC, We do our own research and build our own climate models (just like practically every other country with the capacity to do so). Although I’m sure people will refer to the summary of the IPCC reports from time to time. I think we’d both agree that the UN in general is not a very effective body and is mostly ignored.

        Regarding a further discussion. The mods have my address so feel free to shoot me an e-mail.


      • Thank you for your response Ben.

        I accept everything you say. However, if I may, I would like to take you back to your opening remarks:

        “*Sigh* another WUWT article divorced from how science actually works.”


        “This blog post [is] just another attempt to portray a very large and differentiated body of scientific work as the result of one small corrupt club and therefore easily dismissable.”

        On the first point, I would like to say that the article, rather than being divorced from how science actually works, is, instead, an article that questions the meaningfulness of phrases such as ‘how science actually works’. We all have views regarding how it should work and we all have varying levels of experience of it in practice. I would argue that, in a post-normal setting, science actually works in many different ways, some of which result in a blurring of the lines between research and advocacy. This may not be your experience, but, as a scientifically trained individual who has plenty of experience in what could be referred to as ‘post-normal engineering’, I have seen at firsthand what complexity, uncertainty, contested values, high stakes and expedience can do to the evidence-based decision making process. If engineering is not immune to such influences, I see no reason why science should be.

        On the second point, the article is not an attempt to dismiss climate scientists by pointing towards ‘one small corrupt club’. I cite the IPCC as an example of how the nature of scientific work can be misrepresented and, perhaps, oversold. I don’t dismiss CAGW but I am keen to emphasize that it is post-normal science, and that fact alone justifies remaining open-minded. If it were ‘normal’ science (as referred to by Funtowicz and Ravetz), then scepticism starts to look like denial. I hope you can appreciate the distinction I am trying to make here.

        Finally, thank you for your offer of direct contact, but to be honest Ben, I visit websites like WUWT to engage in open debate, and that’s how I would prefer to keep it. I appreciate the interest you have shown in the article but I remain concerned that you have misinterpreted it as a dismissal of the good work that scientists such as yourself conduct on a day-to-day basis.


    • benben writes “Too bad the WUWT commenting history is impossible to look through otherwise I’d link you the event.”

      Several solutions exist. The easy one is to copy your own comments to a file or database along with the link. You can also use the Google detective service: and some text that will identify you. (apparently works similarly).

  14. I’m still waiting for the null hypothesis. Wake me when it turns up. I’m not holding my breath…

  15. “If the man on the Clapham omnibus wouldn’t be satisfied, then you’re going down!”

    Translated into American, that’s “Will it play in Peoria?”

    Mostly a show biz term, it refers to an idea that may be controversial, and so, would it be acceptable in to a (presumably) conservative crowd in Middle America.

    • One of my “side jobs” as a manager in a very large corporation was to draft the reports our Sr VP of Manufacturing had to make to the Board of Directors, which consisted of top execs from Alcoa, GM and the like. His direction was to write it so the PTA could understand it. (Parent Teachers Association for those outside the US).

  16. Good essay.

    The necessary and sufficient bar setting the stage for continued compromise of scientific principles was the marriage of science and politics.

  17. Proofreading needed: “hackles” not “heckles” rather near the beginning; hackles are bristles on a dog’s neck and shoulders that rise up when the dog senses or feels danger. “Hackles are raised” means danger is perceived. There is such a thing as a heckle, a comb-like instrument; but there isn’t an expression “heckles are raised.”

    I did enjoy the article, and I think its main point is well made.

    [The mods point out that sarcastic heckles and jeering from the reading audience were, indeed, raised by the article and its replies. Were this summer in the northern hemisphere, freckles too might be raised as more people are exposed to the sunlight in warmer climates. .mod]

  18. The way to differentiate climate “science” from real science is by counting the following words in a paper or study: May, could, might, possibly, ‘appear to’, ‘linked to’, ‘some of’, ‘tends to’, etc. If any of those appear then it is speculation not science.
    Speculating on what might be is all part of the game but publishing that speculation and inferring that it is fact is fraudulent.
    For a definition of fraudulent see IPCC.

  19. With regard to the IAC, much has been made of its “independence” from the UN and the IPCC, yet it included people with strong allegiance to the IPCC process, some having been involved with it for many years.

    Christopher Booker said at the time,

    “Through all this the IPCC has been exposed for what it truly is: not a proper scientific body but an advocacy group, ready to stop at nothing in hijacking the prestige of science for its cause. But little of this might be guessed from the Inter-Academy report (jointly commissioned by Dr Pachauri himself and Ban Ki-Moon, the UN’s Secretary General).

    Even if Dr Pachauri is forced to resign at a UN meeting in Korea next month, as seems possible, he will merely have been thrown off the sledge so that the all-important cause can survive.

    Yet the IPCC is the body on whose authority our Parliament voted for the Climate Change Act, passed all but unanimously two years ago. This will land us, on the Government’s own figures, with by far the biggest bill we have ever faced: up to £18 billion every year for the next 40 years – £734 billion in all – in order to cut our CO2 emissions by 80 per cent, something impossible to achieve except by closing down virtually all our industrial economy.”

    • “Yet the IPCC is the body on whose authority our Parliament voted for the Climate Change Act, passed all but unanimously two years ago.” –dennisambler

      Further proof, if needed, that the description, “two cheeks of the same arse” is accurate.

  20. I don’t have a problem — as such — with the IPCC seeking a consensus. Climate science is devilish complex, inevitably since the subject it deals with is random and chaotic, and if you are required by government (the ‘I’ stands for ‘intergovernmental’, remember) to produce a five-yearly report then the best you can do is put it together and say, “this is what the best minds in the business have come up with”, provided you include the error bars!

    Where the concept breaks down is in its vulnerability to a determined group with a vested interest to create their own consensus and sell it to the organisation as the product of the best minds or infiltrate the organisation, or best of all to be instrumental in the creation of the organisation in the first place.

    Which of course is what the enviro-activists did thereby creating the consensus they desired and removing the error bars by sidelining anyone who disagreed with them.

  21. To pass the test of falsifiability, we will have to wait until the predictions of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) have been confirmed by Nature. Any conclusions that one may reach prior to that point will be tainted by levels of uncertainty that far exceed the limits required for scientific confirmation1.

    They have been confirmed, and it’s false.
    You guys just need to understand how an emergent regulator would operate, and recognize one is controlling cooling now, visible now, with a huge signal that is unmistakable now.

    You just have to know how to read THIS data.

  22. Hmm, Pascal’s Wager and its provenance is much deeper than given consideration here. Read and understand James Franklin’s The Science of Conjecture: Evidence and Probability Before Pascal (JHU, 2001) that examines history and hermeneutics before Pascal and peers invented the calculus of logic.

    At the beginnings of recorded decisions, two assertions of sufficient stature were proof. Pilate could not convict Jesus of Nazareth for not having two accusers of sufficient stature and turned the accused over to democratic justice.

    • One of my most enjoyable and useful courses in graduate business school was Welfare Economics (which had nothing to do with entitlements by the way). It was based on the work of our old friend Vilfredo Paredo (of 80/20 and Paredo chart fame).
      Vilfredo devised theories and means for his clients (princes) to make decisions involving great cost expenditures that did not have direct monetary returns. (Oversimplified example – should a town council spend funds to eliminate a railroad grade crossing).
      Of course, the first chapter destroyed the false logic of Pascal.

      • LOL. Pascal‘s Wager in decision theory under uncertainty was my tipping point to faith. Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Scriptura. YOU can’t get it until you get it.

    • The hierarchy of decision making under uncertainty. I was taught that if the problem was predictable and regularly faced one could automate, if more unique it required expert judgement, but beyond that, like Pilate you pass it over to the people.

      I think the problem with the IPCC is that they confuse the consensus of a special interest group with the use of democratic processes to handle trade-offs.

  23. Excellent article.

    The general public must at all times be reminded that the IPCC is not in any form an “independent” science grouping.

    It was set up and is funded by the UN to, as is the World Meteorological Organisation.

    The best way to break any illusion that the public may have about the WMO or the IPCC being independent science bodies is to only refer to them as the “UN operated and controlled IPCC/WMO”.

    They exist purely to furnish the UN with propganda dressed up as “science” in order for the UN to promote it’s new world order style global economic policies of global wealth transfer.

    • Check out the Geneva Environment Network ( est. 1999 ) member organizations and coordinated by UNEP. Also known as the GEN.

  24. Pascal’s wager is crap. How do you know the probability of infinite loss or infinite reward is not zero? Zero evidence for the existence of infinity yields zero probability. Otherwise, you should worship me because there is non-zero probability that I am omnipotent and I will punish you with infinite loss if you don’t worship me

    • I really like an atheistic perspective on CAGW in the modern era. It is as socially politically refreshing as it is purely scientific. Are you saying you’re a believer in God Dr.?

      • I am saying I am agnostic of infinity and infinite powers. Infinity is a useful mathematical concept. There is absolutely no evidence it exists physically. Hence you cannot play a game of chance and apply the theory of probability when the reward or loss is imaginary. What is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. Of course you can believe anything you want without need of proof.

      • I’m replying to myself, which I haven’t done before so I don’t know how this is going to work? Yes, it would seem the dead horse of the IPCC has been beaten to shreds and it still won’t run the race, as they would say. Since we actually read criticisms of the continually failing predictions of these “esteemed” scientists; we might actually care about what is possible and what is probable. Even though I firmly believe in God, (to fairly answer the question I put to you) I have disagreed most religiously regarding any catastrophic predictions with any member of my faith who is willing to have a discussion, (and there aren’t many). I’m going to have to hold off on judgement regarding the human races role in the slight warming of the planet. But isn’t it more important now to mention how C02 and warming actually helps our race rather then hurts it agriculturally.

    • You need to read E. T. Jaynes on Max Ent as the proper subjective naive prior. Being honest and saying 0.5 I don’t know leaves one wriggle room not available to the BS-er. Max Ent is Maximum Entropy.

  25. Interesting take on Pascal’s wager. But if you read the Pensées it becomes evident that the “wager” argument was more in the nature of marginalia; a statement made in exasperation. Pascal’s real philosophy was much more deeply reflective. Take this statement for example: “Atheists ought to say what is perfectly evident; now it is not perfectly evident that the soul is material.” Pascal understood the difference between material observation and the transcendant. The AGW movement has confused this distinction. Thus it takes on an air of divine mission and abandons proper restraint and skepticism appropriate to material observation.

    • Nietzsche said religion destroyed the mind of Pascal. But who cares about Nietzsche? He’s just a self-proclaimed Anti-Christ. The use of Pascal’s wager by AGW fanatics is not coincidental. As one skeptical commentator in Germany noted, Global Warming is the new religion of the post-Christian Europe.

  26. It may be something of a shock here, but Pascal’s Wager is about as much of an impediment to serious religion as it is for serious science.

  27. John, post normal science will always serve politcal agenda! Name one planetary disaster that could have been prevented using the precautionary principle. Indeed name one such disaster period. Thermodynamic considerations have led me to the axiom that humans can’t cause a planetary disaster. Even with small, admittedly horrible, local events like the Hiroshima bombing, radiation was back to normal background within a year and the city was rebuilt. Chernobyl exclusion zone is now Europe’s Serengeti wildlife park!

    CAGW was made a big issue by a Marxist fellow named Maurice Strong who shouldn’t need an introduction to anyone writing on this subject. A philosopher like yourself I’m sure is familiar with Bertrand Russell’s orbiting teapot. CAGW is the tailor made example of what Russell was remonstrating about.

    A soothing, more probable prediction with rapid greening, mild warming, peak population (we’re over 80% there), abundant harvests, abundant cheap energy (thank you DJ Trump), an new era of world prosperity which brings peace.

    Let’s not try so hard to convince the totalitarians. Think of how you speak to a child. Let’s steadfastly move forward and let the goodness rain down on them.

  28. The real sleight of hand is the insertion as a starting premise, or a “given”, the notion that the “stakes are high”. That is actually not a reasonable premise but is a baseless conjecture. Climate change is climate doing what it always does, and slight warming from current neoglacial conditions is beneficial, as is CO2 fertilization of plants globally.

    No – the stakes are not high for humanity. For the majority it is all “much ado about nothing”. But they clearly are for those invested in the CAGW scam.

  29. Ah! Pascal’s Wager and climate science compared.
    The difference between them is proof of results. In Pascal’s wager, we can only prove the existence of God by anecdotes and “miracles” which medical science can repeatedly show were spontaneous response produced by individual will power. Some people want to believe in miracles. Some don’t. Others just don’t care and dismiss the whole thing as nonsense. There is no accountability, or a way to test or repeat results by intentional experiments.
    Climate science, if it wishes to be counted as true science, has to allow for repeated tests and proven results from those tests. Otherwise, it’s just science being corrupted by politics and perceived power.
    As a reminder, the predictions in the 1970s were that we would soon be awash in glaciers, in the midst of a glacial maximum by now, and that we were all doomed. So far, what we’ve mostly had is seasonal changes from summer to fall to winter to spring, always the same cycle but not always with the same weather events.
    Now the prediction, 40-some years later is that we are all heading toward an overheated Doomsday, one which will have us all awash in ocean water (?) on the edges of a land gone to desert.
    As far as I’m concerned, none of the predictions have any more provability than the existence or non-existence of God or a bunch of gods and goddesses, because the predictions were consistently wrong in the past and seem to be consistently wrong going forward.
    It’s the lack of accountability on the part of some of the more raucous and obnoxious people, as well as the greedy grab for cash (and attention) that bothers me more than anything else.
    Therefore, unless climate science people are more willing to accept that their predictions do not hold up under close examination, I will continue to point at them and giggle and tell them that if they are so very worried about CO2, they could help a lot by wearing rebreathing equipment. I also think they need to be told that they are boring one-note instruments and it would do all of us a lot of good if they’d take a break from predictions. Wait about 20 years, then we’ll review their predictions for accuracy.
    I simply can’t take them seriously in their chosen “profession” any more.

  30. Science is a near-space, near-time philosophy. Beyond that, there is conflation of logical domains, myth, fairy tales, and people who want or need to believe.

  31. The precautionary principle run amok is illustrated by the woman I knew who would not leave the house out of fear (in a very safe town), or those who spend twice as much on groceries at Whole Foods because they worry about their health too much. It was claimed in the 1840s that riding in a train faster than a horse could run would surely be fatal. It is too easy to imagine catastrophe, but failing to advance also has a cost/risk that is never counted by the scaredycats.

  32. Excellent article. I would add, that the real dishonest aspect but of the IPCC and its supporters is the invention of imaginary tipping points, …. these being neither scientific or post modern sciency. They are pure propaganda points, with the intent to deceive. Climate change, man made or not, moves at a pace so slow that it can’t and will never pose some insurmountable risk to adaptable, mobile populations such as humans.

    Since there is nothing scientific, or even post modern regarding these imaginary tipping points, it is safe to conclude that the skeptics are NOT anti-science in any aspect, but rather anti propaganda.

  33. “To pass the test of falsifiability, we will have to wait until the predictions of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) have been confirmed by Nature.”

    Sorry Mr. Ridgway, “Catastrophic” is not part of the science of AGW hence your test is bogus. In fact “catastrophic” is a strawman, built by those trying to knock down the underlying science of AGW.

    • ‘Catastrophic’ is exactly what has been used to sell the policies pushed by AGW proponents, and used to HIDE the facts of the underlying science.

      • “‘Catastrophic’ is exactly what has been used to sell the policies pushed by AGW proponents,”

        Yes, nearly all the AGW promoters are actually promoting CAGW. When they claim AGW will cause the Earth’s weather to be worse than it normally would be, they are really trying to make a case for CAGW.

        AGW would be a benign warming.

        CAGW is a warming with catastrophic consequences. Most of those promoting human-caused Global Warming/Climate Change are predicting catastrophic consequences as a result, not AGW. AGW isn’t scary enough.

      • “AGW isn’t scary enough.”

        Bingo! That hits the proverbial nail on its head. Without hyperbole, hysterics, and verbal jumping up and down and pointing at a non-existent bogeyman, the CAGWers and Warmians and Whatevers have nothing. They are required by the Rules of Engagement to lie, fabricate results, exaggerate everything and do whatever is necessary to frighten you in to believing them.

        Unfortunately, it is no longer working that way.

        The scary numbers, falsifying results, plain old lying about normal events are all the same tactics used in politics as propaganda. E.g.,: Vote for ME, and I’ll give you everything you want (bald-faced lie to get votes). Vote for OTHER and you’ll starve to death and have no toys (also a bald-faced lie to get votes).

        The best way to counter these clankers is to keep producing facts and NOT allowing them to get away with fudging results or deleting uncomfortable facts.

  34. My understanding of the precautionary principal means that we should take action on global warming ie Carbon Tax, renewables , Paris agreement because if we do nothing we are at huge risk of devasting disaster. Let’s take out some insurance it’s worth the cost. However, I would argue that a true precautionary principal would be to do nothing. Anecdotally despite claims to the contrary there is nothing to fear about what’s happened to the world in the last 20 years or so every fear is based purely on model projections. What if the models are wrong? I would argue that the cautious person wondering what is in his best interest would ask ‘why take the risk and change the status quo. ‘
    People and businesses make commercial decisions to self insure all the time because they have assessed that the cost of insuring that risk exceeds the cost of managing that insurable risk if indeed that event occurs. Consumers who value there financial assets will do the cost / benefit analysis whether that be health, home,life , business risk or indeed any insurable event. And part of that assessment should be whether if the insurable event occurs will the provider of that insurance payout. If one looks at the policies undertaken by governments and the projected minute impact on future temperatures ( which don’t seem to be disputed) one would be right to believe that no sensible person would buy such insurance.

    The arse about logic of the precautionary principal when it applies to AGW is similar to the use of the term denier as appling to sceptics when it is in fact the AGW supporters who deny the natural occilations of the climate cycles and replace this normality with their global warming fantasy world driven by excesses of the CO2 plant food. Who are really the deniers of the real world circumstance?

    • Your point is taken, but in the many debates with the religious green, the precautionary principle is that we should make changes because it would benefit, it would be good, it would conserve resources, it would lead to a cleaner environment, etc. … even if CAGW theory is wrong.

      • Of course, what they’re really saying (whether they know it or not), is that we should condemn half the world’s population to energy poverty, just in case cagw is real.

  35. Funtowicz & Ravetz talked of urgency as one of the necessary conditions to invoke post-normal science. After nearly 40 years since the NYT declared CAGW an urgent problem I see nothing but failed predictions of doom strewn along the pathway to the present. The climate simply continues to cycle along the pathway staying within its normal bounds. Dr. Curry is right in calling climate a ‘wicked problem’, we still will be working to understand it many decades from now. Let us get back on the righteous pathway of normal science and in the meantime practice ‘Resilience’ as we adapt to whatever challenges lie ahead.

  36. From the article:

    This shouldn’t come as a surprise, since post-normal science’s avowed intent is to provide a framework for problem-solving within complex, high-stake scenarios characterised by significant levels of uncertainty.” (My emphasis.)

    I haven’t read Funtowicz and Ravetz’s book, but if that is true, I’m not seeing how “post-normal science” can possibly be any kind of science at all. I always thought the fundamental purpose of science was to provide new information about the real world, not to provide a framework for enabling us to pull off the miracle of solving problems when we don’t have the information that’s necessary to solve them.

    With “post-normal science”, we seem to be departing from reality and entering the realm of the absurd. Surely, real science goes in the opposite direction to that.

    • Cassio,

      Thank you for your observation.

      I think I understand where you are coming from. I have wondered myself whether the term, ‘post-normal science’, is a misnomer, if only because it allows for the consideration of statements that are not falsifiable – a definite scientific no-no. However, I don’t think it should be dismissed out of hand, because one still has to answer the question: How do we proceed when the uncertainties appear to be unresolvable? In a technical review of the precautionary principle (UNESCO 2005, SHS-2005/WS/21), UNESCO put it this way:

      “We can only judge the relative probability [between two hypotheses] when we have sufficient evidence to make this determination. When we lack sufficient evidence about both hypotheses, we should suspend our judgement about which hypothesis is true because we are ignorant about that. But we should not suspend our practical judgement, because we still must decide how to act with respect to these possible hypotheses.”

      The phrase ‘practical judgement’ captures it all. That’s where the pragmatic wisdom lies. But it is also were the madness and malfeasance lurks. When it comes down to it, post-normal science is just evidence-based gambling. I used to work in safety-critical systems engineering; another example of evidence-based gambling. So, for me, post-normal science doesn’t seem so bad.


      • “We can only judge the relative probability [between two hypotheses] when we have sufficient evidence to make this determination. When we lack sufficient evidence about both hypotheses, we should suspend our judgement about which hypothesis is true because we are ignorant about that. But we should not suspend our practical judgement, because we still must decide how to act with respect to these possible hypotheses.”

        I, for one, am sure glad that we had a multi-billion-dollar organization around to tell us that when we don’t know enough to decide which course is right, we still have to make a decision somehow.

  37. Post normal is a nice way of saying it. Gravy train, noble cause corruption, ego, fear for career, kudos ect There are many reasons for various types of self delusion that lead to the malpractice of science.

  38. Today’s Denver Post (1/6/18) has an interesting article on drinking raw untreated water. Seems to be a theory that treated water is bad for you since it is full of evil chemicals, non-molecular H2O and leaves out all the good stuff in untreated water. Like parasites and giardia.

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