Science magazine does Politics

Guest Opinion by Kip Hansen

Alternative_FactsScience, the journal, is beginning to go the way of the magazine Scientific American, in that it is beginning to become an oxymoron all by itself, as SciAm did in the Forrest Mims scandal.  Science Magazine has turned itself into Politics-uber-Science.

In today’s email of Science News, comes this article “Fighting back against ‘alternative facts’: Experts share their secrets” by Dan Ferber.   The article starts out with a clichéd attack on the sitting President of the United States and the repeated-ad-nauseam liberal-progressive assertion that all “alternative facts” are necessarily intentional falsehoods (“lies”) for the simple reason that they do not support their favored “experts”:

“…Chuck Todd, host of NBC’s Meet the Press, confronted her about an overinflated White House estimate of the crowd size at the president’s inauguration. “Don’t be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck,” she shot back. “You’re saying it’s a falsehood. [But] Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts.”

The exchange became fodder for a thousand late-night TV monologues, and it seemed to launch a new era of degraded public discourse, in which falsehoods become “alternative truths,” and unwelcome news for politicians becomes “fake news.”

One has to feel sorry for Dan Ferber, who doesn’t even seem to get his own story straight.  He conflates and confuses “alternative facts” and “alternative truths”.   He is reporting on an “unconference session” at the AAAS Annual Meeting just wrapped up in Austin, Texas, which is listed in the meeting program as:

 “Alternative Facts and Fake News: How to Advocate for Science When Data Aren’t Enough”

Synopsis

The proliferation and staying power of alternative facts have grievous consequences for scientists, researchers, and others who rely on demonstrable evidence to do their jobs. Are there techniques that have shown promise in rebutting alternative facts and claims of fake news? Approaches that make matters worse? Any lessons from history, or is the current dynamic unprecedented? This unconference session will explore these issues with participants in an open, active discussion.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Although reportedly attended by “approximately five dozen researchers, teachers, journalists, students, and science advocates” who  “brainstormed ways to push back” — Ferber is able to report almost nothing about the meeting except for a few [obviously] politically inspired quotes. This is no surprise.  The unconference session is not led by a scientist at all but rather by the Democratic political operative Mark Bayer, an Arlington, Virginia-based consultant and former longtime aide to Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Markey who “just happens to be” the Chair of the U.S. Senate Climate Change Task Force.

According to Ferber’s report, there was nothing worthwhile to report, except for politician Bayer’s assertions: (please note: assertions are just definitive statements, not facts.)

Alternative facts are not facts at all, but socially sanctioned beliefs, said Bayer, who has studied the scientific literature of persuasion enough to call himself a “persuasion nerd.” — Bayer

Oops, not a social scientist, no degree, just read some stuff.  I have written about Alternative Facts in science over at Dr. Curry’s blog:  What’s wrong with ‘alternative facts’?  There I point out that the concept of “alternative facts” is not some late-night-comedian’s fodder, but a necessary and useful concept from Law:

 “‘Alternative facts’ is a term in law to describe inconsistent sets of facts put forth in a court given that there is plausible evidence to support both alternatives. The term is also used to describe competing facts for the two sides of the case.” 

Those who mock ‘alternative facts’ or denigrate them as ‘not facts at all’ or as ‘lies’ are just displaying their ignorance.

Quoting myself again:

“So . . . what’s wrong with ‘alternative facts?’

Nothing — absolutely nothing.   Quite the opposite, really. Alternative facts are what we use to learn new things about the world around us. Science is the subject of using alternative facts to come to a better understanding.   Discovering that there are alternative facts about something – even better, seemingly contradictory facts – is what points us to an area of study that promises the reward of new insights into the natural world.”

In Science (the field of knowledge, not the dodgy magazine), ‘alternative facts’ are used to help scientists discover new knowledge, when facts seem to be contradictory is when we know to dig in and find out what’s really going on; discovering new ways of looking at things, making new hypotheses  and formulating new theories and new paradigms.

Bayer, having flubbed the definition of ‘alternative facts’ then does nothing but brag about Senator Markey’s ability to persuade the Senate to pass various laws using rhetorical tricks taught in every high school debating class.  If  Ferber is representing the meeting properly, nothing further is said about “alternative facts”  nor the “fake news” meme at all, by Bayer or anyone else.

Dan Ferber might actually think the question is “So why is it so hard to change people’s minds about “alternative facts” that are demonstrably false?”

But, in my opinion, the real question is “So why is it so hard to change people’s beliefs about things that are demonstrably false?”   The second version is a serious question and has answers, it just has nothing whatever to so with Alternative Facts.  People do tend to believe things that are not based on good evidence — look at how many apparently believe in Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Change.

The real beef that Bayer and Ferber appear to have is that the common man, that’s us and your neighbors and their kids and grandkids, have the nasty habit of thinking for themselves and not always automatically agreeing with …. ”The Experts”.  And when they say “The Experts”, they explicitly mean themselves and those who agree with them.  Those who disagree with them, however credentialed and widely published in science journals, are labelled as “non-experts” and are commonly described as “science deniers”.

So, STOP IT! is the message from ‘Science’ Magazine– stop thinking, stop using critical thinking skills to evaluate the validity of expert pronouncements, absolutely stop looking at the actual evidence behind those pronouncements, never ever read any journal paper that has not been approved by the “Name Your Topic’s” Consensus Team, and totally absolutely never ever allow any facts — no matter how true — into your mind that do not come from The Experts with a AAAS-Stamp-of-Approval.

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Author’s Comment Policy:

This is an Opinion piece — you may have a different opinion — I’d love to hear it.

I will not discuss US Two-Party politics — that is the egregious error the Science Magazine has made, I will not repeat it.

WUWT and the thousand or so skeptical blogs spanning many fields of Science and Medicine, serve up alternative facts as the main course — and like the facts they are alternatives to, they are not always perfect, not always accurate, not always well thought out and not always well expressed — and some, exactly like their mainstream twins, are just plain wrong.  But they move the discussion — they change mainstream thinking and move the edges of inquiry in the direction of greater understanding by challenging stultified, consensus-biased paradigms.

It is a crying shame to see Science co-opted by politics….yet again.

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Yes, “magazine” is le mot juste. Science ceased to be worthy of journal-hood as far back as 2004, when it introduced an Essays section to allow Naomi Oreskes’ unreviewed, unreviewable tripe ‘Beyond the Ivory Tower: Wherein I Resurrect the Putrid Cadaver of Consensus Science’ to get into the pages of a supposedly peer-reviewed publication, thus supplying Al Gore with the killer fallacy he needed to round out his carbon-offset infomercial An Inconvenient Truth.

sy computing

Brad!
The ilks of thee!
🙂

With apologies to Jaime Lannister, there is no ilk of me. Only me.

sy computing

Surely legion is better described as a multitude?

You say plethora, I say myriad.
Let’s call the whole thing off and go join the Foreign Multitude.

sy computing

Let the multitude of your foreign foes be like small dust,
and the multitude of the ruthless like passing chaff.

Hugs

browses dictionary in order to know if being hurt is appropriate
Brad Keyes, I think you should be writing some serious satire between two extremely hard covers instead of confusing us.
Besides, Politics and its popular companion the PolAm are totally right – Politics can be defined as the infallibility of climate experts, like the holy person Jorge Mario Bergoglio and the recovering tobacco farmer A. A. Gore Jr. We shall not question the holy canon of collapsing glaciers, drowning fur-privileged big-teddies, or biblical sin-based floods. These are, as we all know, facts, as in ‘facts are written by the winners’. Should the glacier not collapse, the political fact does not stop existing; it merely becomes an old political fact, [see professor James ‘old fart’ Hansen] whose motivated reasoner (climate communicator) must be revered by the means of committee awards.

Thanks for your advice Hugs. Who hurt you? Not moi, I hope.
To spare everyone confusion, I promise to use a /nonsarc tag if I ever see fit to say something po-face-valued, tongue-out-of-cheek or otherwise literal-minded.
Anyway your conception of politics sails dangerously close to the meaning of science, which we all know (and a tenured, lavishly-paid science Professor at the University of Edinburgh agrees with me and Naomi on this, so I’m sure we’re right) can be defined as the belief in the knowledge of experts.

sy computing

Without truth there are no facts, just belief. With only belief at man’s disposal, how can he do science?
Progressive thought appears to deny the existence of objective truth, unless, of course, it benefits their belief.

Bear in mind that knowledge has been defined, since Aristotle, as justified true belief.
And science, strictly speaking, seeks knowledge, not truth.
Of course I’m totally wrong, as was everybody since Aristotle. Oops. Thanks to Naomi Oreskes’ baseless, unreferenced assertions, we now understand that knowledge is actually nothing but “the ideas that are accepted by the fellowship of experts.” [Merchants of Doubt, page who cares.]
To quote The History of The Climate Debate, “simply by dropping the ‘truth’ requirement, Oreskes […] ushered in a golden age of human ‘knowledge’ about climate change.”
So… yay, I guess.

Caligula Jones

“Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”
TS Eliot, “Choruses from the Rock”
Or, as Frank Zappa would have it:
“Information is not knowledge.
Knowledge is not wisdom.
Wisdom is not truth”.
Or, as Neal Stephenson concurs:
“Intelligence is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad”.
Then again, most of this is moot for generation that eats laundry pods.

sy computing

I dunno…would the universe come undone after the inclusion of tomato in a fruit salad?

That tomatoes are fruits is a fact.
That they’re actually vegetables is a truth. A truth vouchsafed to the chosen few possessed of something more valuable than wisdom: taste.

PiperPaul

I’d like to know the difference between people who say they believe in Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Change and those who actually do.
Saying you believe in Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Change can be quite convenient in that you can avoid losing friends, avoid being verbally assaulted, avoid losing your job, etc.

Wearing your whitest labcoat, start by placing a blood pressure cuff on the subject (and a skin galvanometer, if you have one lying around).
Tell the subject, in your most scientific voice, that you have some bad news… and some bad news.
First, The Scientists have calculated that CACC will destroy the planet in 40 years.
Second, the subject has a slow-growing cancer, e.g. of the prostate, which is going to kill them in 41 years.
If they really believed in the former, the latter wouldn’t get the slightest reaction out of them.

dennisambler

Those who say they believe in AGW are politicians.

Or put another way, being smart enough to sort the wheat from the chaff can help you to retain your job.

Jack, your reply (to PiperPaul, I’m assuming) would make more sense if CAGW were the wheat.
Unfortunately for what seems to be your argument, but fortunately for civilization, it’s not even the chaff—it’s the blight, bunt, stinking smut, stem rust, wheat streak mosaic virus (WSMV) or locust guano on the crop of science.
Before you reply, if you reply, please note the C which I prepended to AGW, even if dennisambler didn’t.

markl

It has become a fight for truth if facts are irrelevant. So who’s to win?

Ain’t that the truth.
Pity the facts disagree with you, sunshine.

Since the average fictional character knows more about epistemology than Naomi Oreskes, let’s give Harrison Ford* the final say in The People v Fact v Truth:

*Yes, he of the Leonardo diCaprio School of Eco-friendlier Living Through Aviation (“minimize your carbon footprint by spending as little time on the ground as possible.”)

John F. Hultquist

Willis 2/26/2017
Kellyanne Conway got blasted in the news media . . .
Background reading.

higley7

The reality of “alternative facts” regarding a phenomenon is that, if they are eventually properly understood, they HAVE TO merge into a coherent group of facts. That assumes that the two competing sets of facts are actually describing the same exact phenomenon. For example, observations of the effects of light on a CO2 filled jar are very different from CO2’s effects in the atmosphere. These are not “alternative facts,” they are different facts.

higley7

And it is also true that the “facts” claimed by the climate alarmists may not be real facts while they try desperately to label the real facts as “alternative” (aka, fake) facts.

Extreme Hiatus

Agree entirely Kip. They seem to want to recreate the feudal days when the ‘expert’ priests (only) spoke Latin and everybody else except the royalty who supported them had to believe what they said, do what they said, or else!
I think the deliberate dumbing down of the educational system to an indoctrination system since the 1960s was a key part of this strategy, and that process is now going into overdrive with the SJW enforcers.
Fortunately there’s still the internet. Unfortunately they’re already working on eliminating ‘alternative facts’ and unapproved ideas from it as fast as they can. Once it is gone the future for freedom of thought and expression and freedom period looks very bleak indeed.
Meanwhile, wasn’t it the AAAS that just gave Mikey Mann some shiny award?

joelobryan

Fact: Burning carbon based fuel with oxygen produces CO2.
Then there are interpretations.
Interpretation #1: CO2 is pollution. It can produce a GHE on the radiative energy balance by slightly raising the effective radiative level. But we really don’t know how that will affect long-term temperatures in a very complex system like the Earth’s climate, which is dominated by vast amounts of water and its phase changes Since we don’t know how it will change, any conceivable scenario can be written with computer-coded simulations.
Interpretation #2: CO2 is the life giving building-block molecule fertilizer for all photosynthetic organisms on our planet. Without photosynthesis, the biosphere would collapse. Pre-industrial level of 275 ppm CO2 is slightly above the limiting amount for life. Photosynthesis is at least 2.5 Billion years old on our planet. Available CO2 has been a limiting resource for at least the last 3 million years, a period of Ice Ages. Adding a minor amount will almost certainly not cause any catastrophe, but likely the opposite, a biosphere productive bonanza for all life. The evidence of the last 60 years demonstrates that substantial additions of CO2 have minor to negligible effects on global temperatures.
The Malthusians and the political operators like Interpretation #1.
Anyone with a brain and some knowledge of science should prefer interpretation #2. Which is why the political operators like interpretation #1, as they have no brain, only an agenda.

Germonio

how about the more subtle interpretation that above a certain limit CO2 goes from being life giving to
be a pollution? Most substances are damaging in high doses and some like water or salt are both essential
to life at the right level and poisonous at higher levels.

joelobryan

Okay, what is the optimal level of CO2 in our biosphere?
And by any definition of pollution, less is always better. The old saying, “The solution to pollution is dilution.”
If pCO2 were to drop below 250 ppm, serious consequences on the biosphere would begin to appear, mostly at higher altitudes where plant life would disappear. By 220 ppm, drier (arid) areas would become devoid of most plants due to the problems of water loss exceeded respiration needs.
At 200 ppm vast areas of the Earth at the higher latitudes would be wastelands. Such as they were during the last Glacial maximum, both cold, ice and limiting CO2. And it gets very cold. Cold kills.
By 180 ppm, the entire biosphere begins to collapse, especially C3 plant life.
The solution to CO2 …is more is better.

joelobryan

And the huge problem with your “subtle”… subtlety implies fragility, an ability to break and not recover from perturbation to extremes. The Earth’s climate and biosphere by contrast is robustly resistance to major perturbations.

Germonio

Joel,
I don’t know what the answer is but clearly an atmosphere composed of 100% CO2 would
be deadly as would an atmosphere with no CO2. Hence it would appear that there is must be
at least one local optimum level for CO2.

joelobryan

Well all I can say is: you should study the the biochemistry of the RUBISCO enzyme. Free Oxygen (O2) is the poisonous molecule that did not exist for the first half of Earth’s age. Yet here we are at 22% O2 and 0.04% CO2. Ancient microbial and algae photosynthetic life consumed up most of the primordial CO2 billions of years ago and polluted the environment with O2.
The appearance of free Oxygen caused the oceans to lose their vast amounts of soluble free iron (another essential fertilizer), as FeO2 and FeO3 have very low solubility constants. This great oxygenation most assuredly caused major perturbations to the biosphere. But the oxygen allowed animal life to evolve to use the reduced carbon for energy. And in doing so, we provide oxidized carbon back to plants. (We are the outcome of plant life consuming CO2 and we give it back to them). And if man’s CO2 slightly warms the planet by 2-3 degrees or so…. everyone is a winner. For most of the Earth’s age, CO2 was vastly higher than it is today. And the Earth wasn’t cycling in and out of Ice ages. And life flourished.
CO2 is our Friend. By any rational consideration.

LdB

The problem is the whole argument revolves around what point of view you take.
Lets take the evolutionary point of view. Evolving plants found stumbled on a interesting 2 step process.
Step 1: 2 H2O + 2 NADP+ + 3 ADP + 3 Pi + light ====> 2 NADPH + 2 H+ + 3 ATP + O2
Step1 stores the energy in molecules of ATP releasing Oxygen
Step 2: 3 CO2 + 9 ATP + 6 NADPH + 6 H+ ====> C3H6O3-phosphate + 9 ADP + 8 Pi + 6 NADP+ + 3 H2O
Step2 is Light-independent carbonation process and uses the stored ATP energy
The moment plants started doing it then it is biologically referred to as the great oxygen catastrope, you see those nasty plants caused the extinction of masses of species by polluting the atmosphere with oxygen.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Oxygenation_Event

Cyanobacteria were therefore responsible for one of the most significant mass extinctions in Earth’s history.

So one perspective from an evolutionary point of view humans are an evolved parasite living on the pollution of killer plants. You could also say the correct atmosphere for Earth is all CO2 and no Oxygen giving the planet back to the anaerobic organisms.
The real answer is the Earth has always been a battleground in an evolutionary arms race. The funny part is watching humans think they can somehow bring peace and stability to the battlefield. Things will change even if you stabilize our CO2 emissions. Humans have such short lives and fool ourselves that you can have some stable Earth condition and Econutts are the best at self delusion.
Humans have an impact on planet Earth but there is no good or bad there is simply consequences and what the effect of those consequences will play out thru time. So you have short term and long term consequences. You can’t use “Precautionary Principle” because there is no way to judge the risks, standing still is a big risk in an arms race. It’s funny the last couple of generations has seen the rise and fall of antibiotics and how nature doesn’t care for stability and still many haven’t got the message.

thammond65@hotmail.com

When you know what that level is and can justify your reasoning, and when you have worked out all that will happen under three or four different scenarios based on that, and can then show why we should believe your forecasts for the world economy over the next 100 years. come back and lecture us on what we should do.
Until then, I’m staying sceptical that we can do any of that in a way that makes sense for us to make major changes to the world.

MarkW

We know that life not only tolerates CO2 levels up to at least 7000ppm, it thrives at those levels.
So until we are getting close to passing that level, just leave me alone.

billw1984

Actually, the way you wrote #1 is more skeptical than the climate alarmist’s version by many-fold. You used the words “slightly”, “really don’t know”, “complex”, “don’t know” (again) and “any scenario can be coded”. Most climate scientists would not use these words (except complex) and certainly those in the media, enviro-wackos, and politicians would rarely use any of these words the way you have them in #1. In fact, I was looking for #3 where you put the non-skeptical version.

joelobryan

Trying to give some benefit of the doubt to alarmists. Some really do believe there is a (1) CO2 tipping point and (2) we have already crossed it. I’m doubtful on both accounts. The evidence suggests “no” to both 1 and 2. But NOAA will continue to manipulate adjust the temp records until some insider blows the whistle on their fraud.

HotScot

joelobryan
I have no brian, nor am I ejakated, but even I know that NASA tells us the planet has greened by 14% over the last 30 years of satellite observations.
I also believe it is one of the few, if not the only, observable manifestation of recently increased CO2 on the planet.
To my simple thinking, that’s evidence enough to convince me I was correct to doubt the AGW fantasy story, concocted by people more interested in making money than with any concern for humanity.

hunter

+1

Germonio

Kip,
why is discussing the currently political state in the USA an “egregious error” for Science? Science is the
magazine for the American association for the advancement of Science and as such discussing politics is part of its role. As such it has a “news” section and a “science” section. If you want to advance science in society you need to understand politics and be informed about it. Hence I would expect Science to discuss politics but for example I would not expect Optics Letters or Geophysical Letters to.

joelobryan

The Science editorial staff refuses to publish skeptical rebuttals to climate change affirming articles when it has been shown there are gross errors and misuses of statistics. AAAS is hopelessly lost with its current leaders. The entire senior editorial staff and AAAS President sorely need to be replaced.
Getting rid of one or two won’t do it. The political operators have infiltrated multiple positions. And like any well written computer virus, they have placed the malicious code (operators) in multiple locations so that elimination of one or two only means the other operators simply re-populate those eradications.

Clyde Spencer

Germonio,
You raise an interesting point that I haven’t seen anyone address directly. That is, what would an optimal global average temperature for Earth be, and assuming that CO2 is the ‘Control Knob,’ what concentration of CO2 would provide the optimal temperature?

Germonio

Clyde,
I don’t think there is an global optimum temperature or that one could be defined. On the other hand for
the 100 million or so of people who live on the coast then a significant temperature rise would be disastrous
due to the resulting rising sea levels. But the same temperature rise would probably be a boon if you are a wheat farmer in Siberia or northern Canada.

HotScot

Geronimo
“then a significant temperature rise would be disastrous”
It’s my belief that mankind is a nomadic race and but for the advent of the agricultural revolution, we would still be responding to local and global conditions by moving out of harm’s way.
Those daft enough to settle permanently on a coastline or estuary because it used to be hugely profitable thanks to trade, deserve to pay the price by being forced to move and start again elsewhere.
Call it natural wealth distribution, no need for climate scares to accomplish it, nature is pretty good at wealth distribution.
The Egyptians used to be enormously wealthy didn’t they?
Happy, as ever, to be enlightened.

Germonio

so HotScot if 100 million people need to move who is going to let them change countries?
Mass migration is not possible under the current political climate – who is going to let millions
of poor homeless people come and live in their country?

Hugs

Germonio asks if 100 million people need to move, in which country shall they go.
I’d like to point out the question is speculative, but it appears Germany is willing to let anyone in. Some, like Hungary have been trying to stop and limit the inflow, and have been promptly attacked by the EU.
Also, while California is heavily populated, it appears there is no willingness what so ever to stop illegal border crossing or to prevent unpermitted stay. Many would like to see these people vote.
So it appears the question is rather where are the promised 100 million climate refugees? They should be here already, as the UN said so.

Dale S

Time scale matters. A *sudden* rise of sea level can be devastating, as tsunamis demonstrate. But a rise of several meters over centuries can be easily managed by adaptation. Even a “significant” rise in temperature will result in slow sea level rise.

Clyde Spencer

Germonio,
You said, “I don’t think there is an [sic] global optimum temperature or that one could be defined.”
I don’t think that you have thought this through. The whole position of the CAGW crowd is that a temperature much higher than what the Earth is currently experiencing would be disastrous for both humanity and many of the extant life forms. You state as much in your reply! On the other hand, during the depths of the last Ice Age, the climate was very harsh and much of the Northern Hemisphere was covered by ice, destroying forests, preventing significant agriculture, and prohibiting building cities. Clearly, something in between would be optimal. [Note that I have just defined an optimum temperature range that you said could not be defined.] Yet, you ‘de-Nye’ that there is an optimum! This seems to be typical of hand wavers. You really aren’t into thinking things through. Therein lies a problem. If you just parrot back catastrophe claims, and don’t think about them, you really aren’t contributing anything to the discussion. It might be difficult to to pin down a temperature to a tenth of a degree. However, if the claim can be made that a 2 degree increase would be an upper-bound, then surely one could bracket the optimum by about +/- 1 degree! If you are tempted to claim that we are currently at or just slightly past the optimum, consider the probability that after 4.5 billion years we just happened to be at the optimum immediately prior to the Industrial Revolution.

Germonio February 20, 2018 at 8:54 pm

Kip,
why is discussing the currently political state in the USA an “egregious error” for Science?

The problem is not “discussing the currently political state” as you say. It is coming down hard and fast for one political side and opposed to the other political side in the discussion. “Alternative facts” is at present an emotionally loaded term. I interpreted it when Conway said it as being “facts that support the alternative explanation”, and was surprised at the furor. But furor there was, along with lots and lots of ridicule from the Left that left a very bad taste in my mouth.
So using the term in this derogatory manner is equivalent to hanging out a big sign that says THIS IS A LEFTIST MAGAZINE AND WE HATE PRESIDENT TRUMP.
And that, Germonio, is the problem … a scientific magazine may certainly discuss politics as it affects science, but taking political sides and using emotionally loaded political terms is a fool’s move, one that has nothing at all to do with science, and one that will end up costing them credibility.
w.

Germonio

Willis – Kip explicitly stated that discussing the US two party politics was an error. And I am curious why.
If you want to advance science in society as the AAAS does then you need to understand the current political situation and hence you should be discussing it in the association’s magazine. Kip did not state
that it was an error to come down on one side or the other.
For what it is worth I would have thought that it was clear that claiming that the crowd at Trump’s inauguration was the biggest ever was clearly wrong and easily capable of being disproved. It was
a lie and it is as simple as that.

Orson

Willis writes: ” ‘Alternative facts’ is at present an emotionally loaded term. I interpreted it when Conway said it as being ‘facts that support the alternative explanation’, and was surprised at the furor.” Yes, I’m with you, Willis. Except that I recall that Trump advisor and lawyer Kellyanne Conway introduced the term.
I recall that “alternative facts” is a term of art, coined by trial lawyers in order to characterize contest of combat in a court of law, which requires the confrontation of alternative outcomes on an accused party or parties. It is easy is mischaracterize, and I’m sure that’s why it was seized upon: in order to heap ridicule upon opponents. My sympathetic grasp fits with your understanding.
Strawmaning is a specialty of the Left, these days. And pundits rarely, if ever, do the opposite: Steel-maning an argument, ie, presenting the best possible characterization. Our only hope in the public sphere is that Truth-seeking will one-day return to partisan politics. That day is still a long way off.

Geronimo,
fine, good point. So let Science discuss politics apolitically. If the current editorial team is not capable of doing that, it’s time for regime change.

thammond65@hotmail.com

Garbage. Science is science, politics is politics. The assertion that science should be advanced in society is itself a political statement that needs to be justified.
And advancing your own political views is not “advancing science in society”. It is advancing your own political views.
This is such a poor, fallacious post I’m not sure why have bothered answering it.

MarkW

Science is science and politics is politics and political science is neither.

Sparky

….perhaps,… except,.. “AAAS” is predominately Left political-science organization and the perspectives are skewed. Good to read,.. but also good to know where’s it’s coming from. “Science” is not exempt from political polarization and in someways seems to be instigating it. Even “Peer Review”, vaunted as the gold standard of methodology, would appear to be ossifying and occasionally corrupt as the ‘journals’ and ‘peers’; doing the reviewing are being stacked with biased ‘non-peers’. When ever i hear ‘peer review’ these days, i want to ask ‘ a priori’ who are the peers reviewing, how were they selected and their reputation for objectivity and minimal bias. In the Climate Space,.. i see ’eminent scientists’ using old leftist tactics to stack Journal boards and reviewers with activists giving great concern that the venerable ‘peer review’ has gone the way of many Universities infected with ‘group-think’ and progressive political agendas.
https://www.quora.com/Why-are-only-6-of-American-Association-for-the-Advancement-of-Science-AAAS-members-Republican

Clyde Spencer

Kip,
Can you contact me offline, or give me an email address with which I can contact you?
Thanks,
Clyde

> Science, the journal, is beginning to go the way of the magazine Scientific American, in that it is beginning to become an oxymoron all by itself, as SciAm did in the Forrest Mims scandal.
SciAm jumped the shark when it named the 50 most back in 2002.
Here was my email to them 16 years ago ending my 30 plus year subscription:
Sirs,
As distressing as the last few years of anti-science content has been to
this 31 year subscriber, I am finally compelled to write about your SA 50
award to California Assemblywoman Fran Pavley. The following is obviously
too long to publish but I urge in the name whatever scientific honesty
remains in the SciAm offices to review the data and reconsider whether
California’s CO2 emissions Law has any merit whatsoever and whether the Law
as written even agrees with the prevailing science.
AB 1058
Coming soon!, from the State that brought you partial regulation of the
power industry; partial regulation of the transportation industry!
The law in part reads:
SECTION 1. The Legislature hereby finds and declares all of
the following: (a) Global warming is a matter of increasing
concern for public health and the environment in the state.
(b) The control and reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases,
of which carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most significant, are
critical to slow the effects of global warming. (c) The
transportation sector produces over one-half of the carbon
dioxide emitted in the state.
This new “greenhouse gas” law, formerly AB 1493 “Pavley’s Ploy” and now
quickly being renamed “Davis’ (latest) Debacle” has been advertised as an
innovative solution for controlling air pollution in order to do our part
and slow world wide “global warming.” This law, passed by our Legislature
and signed by our Governor, does nothing more than partially regulate one
specific type of one sector of the economy that may or may not be a
component of the global climate change “problem.” That singled out “global
warming” contributor is also a byproduct of transportation sector provides
92% of all passenger trips in the State but only represents 0.7% of
California’s total manmade greenhouse gas generation. Based on this data
the State has proceeded to single out and burden that minority segment
because like all backdoor social reforms, “-they- can afford it” and “-they-
are being selfish.” All this is based on the self proclaimed scientific
expertise of our esteemed California politicians. Make no mistake, this
isn’t about energy or pollution policy, this is nothing more than an ill
conceived and unconstitutional attempt at behavior control and punitive
economic revenge by a vocal minority of would be social engineers obsessed
with an irrational anti-auto/anti-SUV agenda.
The “science” driving this ill conceived foray into areas where the State
has no business intruding is so poor that if it weren’t such a blatant
assault on our Republics’ civil liberties it would be laughable. Bad
science makes for bad law so let’s start there. CO2 is not the most
important greenhouse gas. CO2 is not in any way implicated in ozone
depletion or any other similar negative environmental impact. CO2 is
acknowledged as a vital component of an atmosphere that sustains and
protects all life on this planet. The US Energy Information Administration
reports that 95.3% of all CO2 is from natural sources. These are probably
the only things the world’s scientists agree upon concerning the unresolved
debate over supposed Global Climate Change. Understand; Global Climate
Change (as opposed to the discredited theory of Global Warming cited by the
new law) is merely the latest fallback theory for the same people that
failed to convince us all of their failed Global Warming theory and that
fantasy was proposed only after their embarrassing 1970’s “Mini Ice Age”
theory. Like all true zealots the people behind this latest assault are
desperate for any excuse to advance their true agenda.
As an example of the idiocy and danger inherent in Pavley’s Folly we should
look at some of the technical ways we -could- meet the stated goals of the
law. For instance, one way to reduce CO2 auto/SUV emissions is to change
the combustion process slightly in a manner that will increase the amount of
ozone depleting and other noxious byproducts. Another bright idea, and not
coincidentally the “solution” the anti-auto crowd had in mind is to produce
smaller, lighter, less capable vehicles. Unfortunately smaller, lighter,
less capable also means more expensive, requires more total trips and most
importantly, means less safe. Just what California needs; more vehicle
trips being done in less safe autos. That drop in safety is on top of the
current roughly 2,000 deaths per year caused by existing CAFÉ standards.
Jerry Ralph Curry, former NHTSA Administrator, said in 1998 that CAFE had
already claimed more lives than Vietnam, and that the NHTSA people knew in
advance it would happen. Let’s not even get into California’s diversion of
highway maintenance funds to wasteful and polluting transit that is forcing
people to purchase more rugged vehicles in the first place.
Back to carbon dioxide. By a large margin CO2 is ranked only the second
most important of the greenhouse gases but in the scientific mind of
California Law it has being promoted to the most significant *problem.*
Excuse me, I spoke too soon, CO2 is not even -that- significant. The only
status accorded CO2 amongst real scientists is that of the second most
significant human generated greenhouse “gas.” There is
still debate about how significant human generated airborne particulates are
and whether they would bump CO2 down to third place amongst the human
generated contributors to greenhouse effects. But that’s science not
politics. This is all about politics.
Advocates promulgating an insidious anti-auto agenda have convinced
Assemblywoman Pavely (D-Agoura) and her gullible fellow members of the
Legislature that California is in a position to legislate science. One of
the factoids used to justify the restrictions is that a disproportionate 57%
of California’s greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming, come
from cars, trucks and buses.
No, not even close. The “57%” quote is a carefully constructed half-truth
that is then used to leap to a conclusion. That suprious conclusion is then
extrapolated to justify a solution. Our use of autos and light trucks MAY
contribute to global warming IF IT EXISTS but then again climate records
also indicate that some 7500 of the last 10,000 years were warmer than the
supposedly hot decade of the 1990’s. But 57% doesn’t tell the whole story.
First off, human generated contribution to the planets’ greenhouse gases are
only 4.7% of all greenhouse gases. Of that 4.7% from humans, some 70% is
H2O. 30% of 4.7% brings the scope of “Palvey’s Ploy” down to the remaining
1.4% from “transportation.” But even that isn’t the whole story since
“trucks and buses and commercial vehicles” are exempted from the Bill. Even
that grudging admission is a misdirection on the part of the legislation.
You see the 57% figure is for the entire California transportation sector,
planes, ships, trains, etc. Taken into account it turns out that CARB is
being tasked at looking to less than 0.6% of the supposed “problem.” Got
that? Even an extremely optimistic achievement of a 10% reduction would
make a difference of zero point zero six percent. That 0.06% is only
applicable to California’s contributions. What is our global contribution?
Less than 3.5% and I’m sorry but 0.06% of 3.5% is far too small a number to
have any meaning. That immeasurable improvement wouldn’t even take effect
until after all the cars on the road are replaced by conforming vehicles
somewhere around 2021. It might be interesting to go into why such a large
portion of California’s energy budget is devoted to transportation.
Remember, much of California’s fossil fuel electric generating capacity is
in other States. We profit from and enjoy the benefits of making our
pollution in Nevada and Arizona. Heaven forfend those States adopt our
supposedly high minded principles and clamp down on California’s ethically
questionable practice of exporting our pollution. For that matter -if-
California were really interested in global warming and not SUV
illegalization, then we could drain the Hetch Hetchy reservoir which
contributes mightily to global warming; surface evaporation, a significant
rise in surface temperatures and heat dumping into the ocean are global
warming effects too. If the Legislature hadn’t so very conveniently
dropped water vapor from the list of greenhouse gases they’d have many other
“easy targets” for saving the planet without busting the State and Federal
Constitutions in the process. They could end water subsidies to the Central
Valley farmers for instance. Obviously this stuff is far more complex than
reducing CO2 emissions from autos. Autos and light trucks no less. Not
buses, not trucks not aircraft nor ships. Subtract out those from the
“transportation” finding of “57%” and you see the legislation for exactly
what it is; Anti-auto/anti-SUV social behavior modification.
Legislative fiat in the State of California is alive and well. The bill is
nothing more than the latest hodgepodge of eco-extremist poor science with
the intent to insinuate the “benevolent” State into every aspect of daily
life.
Good to know we have a Legislature smarter and more informed than the
collective body of the worlds’ scientists. Are we a lucky State or what?

Barry Sheridan

This term ‘alternative facts’ is fairly new to me. I have always thought of facts were just that, facts. Proven information derived from empirical evidence. I can understand there maybe different interpretations of raw data depending on what methods are used to extract what might be legitimately inferred, but the idea of alternative facts as being something that threatens science, and much more, is strange. I feel the use of this term owes much to the growing divisions of our world, the split between those who believe as Thomas Sowell put it, ‘The vision of the annointed’ and those who adhere to the more practical, down to earth tragic version of life. It is sad in the extreme to realise how many genuinely talented people prefer to serve an ideological end rather than follow where the facts lead them. It always has been so I suppose, the history of the Soviet Union is just one recent example of how mankind will lie to itself.

MarkW

If there are legitimate “alternative facts”, the the reality is that neither side has facts, just opinions and interpretations.

Sparky

Blue is Yellow. Black is Red. Truth is wrong. Untruth is right. Right is the way of the Group. Group is Consensus. We’re all agreed. Do what we say. Now that you are properly Educated, what is Blue? Yellow you say? No,.. Blue is Red as agreed to by the Group. Confused? Stop thinking and the confusion will end. Follow the Group. Don’t think,.. follow,….

There certainly are alternative “facts” out there, but often it is simply a battle between different subsets of the plain old-fashioned facts. WUWT is great because it often gives the facts that are omitted from press releases and other “consensus” writing about climate.

Leo Smith

But, in my opinion, the real question is “So why is it so hard to change people’s beliefs about things that are demonstrably false?”

Indeed.
And after many tears of pondering this exact point I have come to the conclusion that the answer is something like this.
1. In order to deal with the complexity of the world, we have evolved with an innate predisposition to simplify it. Instead of having to recognise that ‘the red blister snake is only dangerous in the mating season ‘ we simply have a knee jerk response: “All snakes are dangerous”.
2. In order to maximise communal safety, we cluster together in groups, and tend to move as a group. And think as a group. I seem to recall this principle is well illustrated in the Bible – “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not think” isn’t it? Going with the group even when its wrong is simpler and safer than going it alone.
3. In what passes for civilisation, today, one’s very existence as a working social being is contingent,for most people, on fitting in with the prevailing cultural milieu. Would you care to go back to the days of the witch-finder general and tell him there are no such thing as witches?
4. This collection of half truths, convenient lies and general bigotry forms part of a hypothetical construct I call the ‘world-view’ from the German ‘Weltaunshung’ – a term I borrowed from philosophy – and extend to form a description for everything we in fact believe on the absence of direct evidence, and more, everything that is used to understand what a fact is. This goes back perhaps to Kant and his ‘categories’…This is a key point. Our subconscious prejudices define what we consider to be actual objective facts. That is, there are in fact no objective facts at all, only raw experience, until we interpret them into ‘facts’.
This is a key notion. What we think of as ordinary every day facts are not facts at all. They are – and indeed our whole world-view is – simply another model of the world with no more justification for its existence other than the fact that using it, we can survive and propagate as individuals of a species.
I want that point to be carefully considered: What science is, as defined by Karl Popper, is a system of testing models against ‘facts’ and rejecting the models that do not accord with the ‘facts’. Science doesn’t ‘discover truth’, so much, as reject the more blatant non-truths.
But science itself can only be practised in the context of a world-view that actually contains independently agreed and verifiable ‘facts’. And consider what happens when the notion of a ‘scientific fact’ and ‘verifiable data’ ceases to be ‘what any fool can measure with a thermometer’ and becomes ‘what all our scientists have measured and adjusted’.
Likewise, we can conjecture that the survival of a ‘cultural world-view’ is contingent, analogously to a Popperian theory, not because it is right\ but because it is not sufficiently wrong to endanger that culture.
And worse still, we can hypothesise world-views that are in fact completely wrong, but paradoxically which thereby increase the likelihood of cultural survival. Perhaps religion is exactly such an example. To live in a world that is empty, devoid of purpose, meaningless, uncaring and ultimately ends in a pointless death is extremely dangerous for any individual, and few survive it. Species survival is ensured by postulating a hypothetical caring moral Being whose main function, once Creation is achieved, is to set the standards of cultural behaviour for the conditions met by the citizens of the day. Thus regulated, society carries on and reproduces itself.
The point is here, that it is irrelevant as to whether the Being is an accurate model of ‘Whatever is really there’ or not. What matters is that belief in the concept creates world-views that are conducive to species and group survival.
And this is where this sort of world-view differs from what we may call the search for Truth, as evinced by Science. Science merely wants to predict the future. The other sorts of disciplines of Religions and so on, want to ensure that people are there to actually see the future, and if Truth has to be sacrificed on the altar of cultural expediency, so be it.
Galileo wasn’t the first or the last to be told ‘such knowledge may or may not be true but its too dangerous for the common people to understand’
How does this answer your question?
If you accept this way of understanding human thought and human behaviour, it becomes clear that Truth does not necessarily equate to survival, for the individual and sometimes for society.
And you can see that one ‘lie’ – the lie of Christianity, was debunked and replaced by another Lie – the Lie of Marxism and socialism masquerading as ‘rational , ‘materialistic’ and ‘scientific’. This Arriviste philosophy is more bunk than religion ever was, but it has served its purpose to dethrone the traditional elites whose ‘god given’ right to rule was overthrown by the death of God Himself, and replaced it with a nastier and meaner morality which has been developed into the cult of ‘political correctness’ by a very inferior elite who now control – or think they control – civilisation.
I always like to use the following analogy. There is nothing virtuous or moral about driving on the left (if you are in Britain or an ex-British colony) or the right (elsewhere) But it is important that everyone does the same thing. So it is with societal mores. Society needs to understand what is acceptable behaviour and what is not. Not because that behaviour is necessarily wrong, but because people just need to know where they stand. In the UK for instance we have a massive disconnect between the Western cultural ideas that women should be free to walk down the street dressed in practically nothing, unmolested, and the prevailing cultural view of some immigrant populations that any man who lets his mother/sister/wife/cousin out in anything that reveals even her elbows, is frankly not only asking for trouble, but a fool and a sinful man failing in his sacred duty to protect womankind.
So there is nothing special about morality, or in fact any aspect of a world-view, other than it serves to perpetuate itself. We have seen, in the West, a broadly Christian and rational world-view be supplanted by a Marxist based atheistic one, that is in many ways darker and less pleasant, and more Faith based, if more sophisticated. To date this hasn’t eliminated the West. People grow up in this context, live in this context and its as natural and as real as the air that they breathe, to them.
People don’t believe in climate change: They are educated – indoctrinated – from the moment they can talk and hear, into the concept that they are in fact sinful, guilty participants in a crime against Nature, (which has been elevated to the status of a deity). That they must feel shame, for being white, male, heterosexual, and successful in having run most of the world for several hundred years. That in the limit their very survival itself is a Sin against Nature. And the world is to be understood as a history of mankind’s oppressive domination of Nature, that must be expiated by recourse to the new religion of ecology, of which climate change is a creed, and for which spinning prayer wheels that generate the mysterious spiritual force ‘electricity’ without ‘harming the planet’, are the only means to expiate their guilt.
It’s not just a question of accepting that climate change is scientifically ‘wrong’. It is a question of accepting that every single cultural precept they have been brought up to accept, is complete and utter bunk. It doesn’t merely mean they have to modify their world-view – it leaves them with no world view AT ALL.
The most famous ex-member of the ultra conservative Christian sect, the Exclusive Plymouth Brethren, Aleister Crowley, self styled magician, devil worshipper and the ‘wickedest man in the world’, nevertheless could never stop being in rebellion against his upbringing. Once a way of looking at the world is embedded, it is easier to rebel against it, that simply cast it away.
And that is why people won’t change their minds. CANNOT change their minds. It is simply too big a task. People who have been brought up to respect and trust Authority, may search for a different Authority to trust, but they will find it infinitely harder to learn to think for themselves.
And this is the sad conclusion I have come to. Even in this blog, amongst the ‘climate deniers’ so called we are seeing posters who simply are looking for a new Authority. rather than learning to think for themselves. Sheep, it seems, will always be sheep, and its the Left who have realised that first.
I have a personal position which is this. Let sheep be sheep, the game is always played out amongst the Shepherds anyway. Our task is not to convince the sheep, that is the job of the shepherds. Our job is to convince the shepherds themselves that they are driving the sheep over a cliff. And will likely get carried along in the rush.
The Left has been brilliantly successful in capturing the hearts and minds and economic output of the sheeple, and in instituting its unpleasant and revolting visions of political correctness upon them. Everywhere they are regulated and taught to respect that regulation, not question it, and kept in place by a sad mixture of guilt and fear. The result is more unpleasant than any Christian culture was. But be that as it may, what is worse, is that these specialists in manipulation of public consciousness have no aptitude whatsoever for the actual disciplines that built the society they seek to control.
That discipline is engineering, backed up by science. The myth builders don’t understand either, and like many people who are slightly ashamed of their ignorance, they belittle it and consider it unimportant: Scientists and engineers are their employees, and will produce whatever they wan’t, or starve.
And THAT is the real danger. Not that people believe in lies – they always have, and it is not only something that does them little harm, but often helps them get through life – nor even that those in charge promulgate a more unpleasant set of lies than religion ever did – but it is that they are incompetent. Controlling the people via priesthoods and mythologies is not the be all and end all of a governing elite, as the Mayans found out.
It is that the current ruling elite – we might call them the globalists – are wrong in a way that threatens not just the sheeple, but in fact themselves!
The crime of the Al Gores of this world is not that they lied, but that they lied to ill effect, they are creating a situation which will ensure their own demise. That in and of itself is no cause for regret, but the collateral damage to everyone else, is what I fear.
The only output of the climate change meme, has been a drive towards ‘renewable energy’ – a drive which has allowed many cronies of politicians to get rich and which has put many inferior politicians into positions of influence.
‘Twas ever thus, but it has also virtually wrecked the most fundamental part of the infrastructure on which Western civilisation has come to depend – access to cheap energy.
THAT is how the minds of the elites get changed. By pointing out that wrecking the energy markets of the world is not in their interests. Renewable energy is a handy piece of virtue signalling, yes, but it is a complete disaster in terms of building electrical grids .
And they, too, need electricity.
I dont personally have a problem with the likes of Hillary Clinton running the show and showering te population with utter twaddle comprised of whatever fashionable bull excrement will get her elected. I do mind that once in power the likes of her, and Obama, then proceed to make a total pigs ear of areas of national management they simply have no competence in interfering in.
Politics as a Muppet Show is one thing, but politics that interferes in the way things are necessarily run, is rather another.
We can’t tell the people that the lies are wrong. But we can point out that the solutions are not working.

Tom in Florida

In other words, apply Sales 101 techniques.

“why is it so hard to change people’s beliefs”
IME, it is because beliefs are not quantized, separable. They are held in a context of reasoning, feeling, impressions, personal notions of definitions, and associations. Challenge that one conclusion, and you are challenging a sizable part of their whole mental model of reality. That is threatening.
Even after, for instance, you have convinced them that not every pronouncement made by someone wearing a lab-coat is “science”, or even scientifical, the fresh way of thinking will quickly slip away, as they slide back into their old, comfy matrix. It requires re-inforcement for the change to stick. But that is unlikely, as they continue communicating predominantly with those of the same hive-mind.
But beware. It can be difficult to force yourself to persist in studying the thinking of the other side. The deceptive terminology, alone, can make your skin crawl and a speed-read come to a slow slog through a morass. The most frustrating part, to me in this hyper-connected era, are the artificial barriers we construct (to avoid the spam, etc.) to be able to offer feed-back, when making break-throughs requires prolonged debate and discussion.

thammond65@hotmail.com

My own wild hypothesis – beliefs become hard-wired, like memories. And, like memory, they become harder-wired with use.Like memories, they are pretty impossible to change without really working our neurons.
I don’t think we hold lots of ideas and beliefs floating around in our minds, loose and unattached to physical reality. I don’t think we can.
Sceptics for some reason seem to keep beliefs from forming physically. Maybe it’s genetic, maybe its an attitude that shunts things we hear and read to a different place of the brain.

mkelly

Mr. Smith, your denigration of Christianity via the use of the words lie and hypothetical seems unnecessary and gratuitous in making your point. What truth leads you to claim hypothetical Creator?

MarkW

Many people need something that proves to themselves that they are better than everyone else.
The more insecure the person is, the louder and more obnoxiously they have to proclaim this superiority at every opportunity.

Leo Smith

Mr Mkelly., regrettably I do not entirely understand your question. In a world where nothing is known for certain, use of the world ‘lie’ only is shocking and denigrating to those who feel that they are custodians of the One Truth.
Of course what you see as unnecessary and gratuitous is a device to expose those who feel that that are…see above.
As far as the second sentence goes, I simply have no idea what you are talking about: I have no truth, that is the whole point, and therefore no justification for claiming a hypothetical creator.
Worse, the only reason for having a Creator in a world-view at all, is in an attempt to make Causality a Universal Principle beyond the world-view in which it has meaning. In my book that is simply wrong thinking – a meaningless jumble of words. A mistake of language. A sleight of mind.
We experience , and we remember. Those two activities allow us to arrive at a notion of time, as an axis along which ‘events’ proceed. We link those events into a never ending chain of Causality to explain why the little pieces of experience we chop up the whole into are in fact a linked part of a greater whole.
I.e. another way to look at the world is as a completely unified experience which we split into discrete ‘things’ and then have to reunite with ‘causality’.
This is what we learn to do as babies.
Its just technique. Causality doesn’t exist. Just experience. Causality is just a model of an aspect of experience. When you grow up, you may come to understand that 🙂
People who Believe in the Universal Principle of Causality and Linear Time need to posit a Prime Cause.
Big Bang or Big God. Take your pick. They are, at the level we exist at, identical propositions in terms of predictability, but the Big God is a lot more complicated when you get into the details. *shrug* But its good enough for children, who don’t.
Both are hypothetical models of course with no way to ‘prove’ either exists,. and who needs to? Only children who haven’t grown out of actually needing to be swaddled in certainty, because facing the actual uncertainties of life takes a bit more than they are equipped to deal with.
If what you are actually trying to say is where is the confidence to assert THIS as truth coming from, well of course you have reached the nub of the argument. From nowhere at all, just the same place that religion assert its verities. Aleister Crowley didn’t call his book on life, the universe and everything ‘The Book of Lies’ without good reason.
The point is to de-construct world-views that depend on certainty. By assertion as truth the proposition that there is no certainty, except the certainty that there is no certainty.
This is a sell affirming statement. It is stable., It provides a starting point for the construction of more flexible world views.
World views like that idiot Descartes that start with affirming a given statement as true, are bound to collapse when it is found that there is no way to prove their truth.
That is my purpose and my point. To start with a proposition that merely asserts the truth of itself, not as a proven fact, but merely in order to drive some kind of stake into the desert of unknowing: When all is relative, we need to place a stake in the ground and say ‘relative to that’. It is not the centre of the universe, we merely proceed as if it was…
And my position is simple. Everything we know, think we know and indeed this statement itself are not the Truth, they are simply models of our experience ways of having a relationship between ourselves as we think we are, and the world outside of us, as we think it is.
This is of course just another world-view itself. It is an example of what it describes. Ergo it can never be proven to be true, but like a scientific hypothesis we may examine the effect of considering it to be true, pro tem. And I think it informs exactly into the point that was asked by the original poster I responded to, why is it so hard for people to change their minds? And the answer is, because to change your mind is to change yourself, and the world, completely irrevocably and forever.
I once, in my younger days, got given a religious pamphlet by someone or other in which the pop star and raving Christian Cliff Richard described how ‘once he had put Jesus at the centre of his life, instead of himself’ his whole world changed
No sh1t, Sherlock.
We are addicted to our world-views. For they are – for most people – what makes them who they are. To change them in fundamental ways, is to undergo a reaction as powerful and as disturbing as religious conversion. That is where my proposition takes us. Very few people in my experience can handle that level of disruption without severe mental health issues. The Eastern philosophies and religions are all designed to take people to that point as slowly and as carefully as possible. Western culture is designed to ensure they never reach it, and the original shamanic rights of initiation were designed to blast the practitioner beyond it, in order that he might sink, or learn to swim without the water wings of belief.
I assert this from the pro tem position I described above, not as an absolute statement of truth but as a derived position from my original assertion. I cannot prove that it is true, any more than you can prove that some entity called gravity exists outside of our minds. That is not the point. The point is does the derived picture make sense of people’s behaviour? Of Quantum physics? Of mental derangements? I say it helps : It is a useful view, that makes religion and science two bedfellows that can and should coexist without conflict, as neither is the Truth, and both are useful.
To summarise, I start from a position of asserting the only true fact is our innate and necessary inability to arrive at a single true fact, beyond the one just stated. Like Heisenberg, Turing, Gödel et al, it is as statement of the limits to the truth concept.
BY disposing of truth content as a measure of validity one is thereby freed to construct metaphysical systems in the sure and certain knowledge that none of them can be shown to be true, and most of not all are not, in the limit, and that is not in fact a particularly interesting property once the childlike longing for certainty is cast aside.
What counts, is how useful they are for whatever purpose one has in mind, and ultimately, purpose itself is just another expression of a truth independent value judgement, and nothing can be said beyond ‘whatever gets you through the night, allows you to see the morning light’ .
The OP asked ‘why is it hard for people to change their minds’ My answer is to propose a model of ‘life the universe and everything’ in which the character, nature and very being of what it means to be the person you think you are, is implicit – for most people – in the beliefs and structures that form your view of yourself and the world. To change your mind, is to change yourself, and your subjective world, irrevocably. That is the trick behind religious conversion.
We gaily talk about ‘green heads exploding’. That is so near the truth its almost not funny.
Back in the day, we used to get on with the business of blowing our minds as a proper pursuit of our youth. Perhaps the saddest thing today, is that not only does everyone lack the courage to do it, but that its held to be a bad thing to encourage.
I think that’s a shame. Exploring the realms of experience
beyond Belief is worthy of attention…
So that’s my answer to why people can’t change their minds. They are too damned weak, timid , lazy, and scared and the Left insists that that’s exactly how they ought to be be and makes a virtue out of those weaknesses, that we characterise as ‘being a snowflake.’
No one is encouraged to go beyond their limits – even the latter day Faithful have it all pinned down – there is no mystery any more.
Well, the real question is, is that a stable situation? Or is it a harbinger of utter societal disaster?
Time will tell…

MarkW

I stopped reading when you decided you needed to insult anyone who doesn’t believe as you do.
If you want to be influential, drop the attitude and learn to deal with people who don’t believe as you do.

TA

Good post, Leo. I read the whole thing. 🙂
excerpt: “The Left has been brilliantly successful in capturing the hearts and minds and economic output of the sheeple, and in instituting its unpleasant and revolting visions of political correctness upon them.”
The Left’s success has been enormously enhanced by practically having a monopoly on the ‘truth” because of the Leftwing News Media propaganda machine.

sy computing

“The Left’s success has been enormously enhanced by practically having a monopoly on the ‘truth” because of the Leftwing News Media propaganda machine.”
Not just this, but also directly because of arguments denying the objectivity of Truth.
Like this one (emphasis added):
“My answer is to propose a model of ‘life the universe and everything’ in which the character, nature and very being of what it means to be the person you think you are, is implicit – for most people – in the beliefs and structures that form your view of yourself and the world. To change your mind, is to change yourself, and your subjective world, irrevocably. That is the trick behind religious conversion.”
Indeed it is the trick behind many faith based conversions. For example, when some poor, confused, soul decides to believe by faith that today they’re a female, when in fact their DNA objectively identifies them scientifically and irrevocably (i.e., “truly”) as a male. After all, “to change your mind, is to change yourself, and your subjective world, irrevocably.” Who making such an argument can “revoke”, so to speak, a subjective declaration like this? On what grounds?
Surely anyone who argued in such a fashion couldn’t criticize the Left for being, well…”Leftists”, now could they? Wouldn’t that be criticizing oneself, i.e., one’s philosophical simpatico?
If not, why not?

mkelly

Mr. Smith you say “… postulating a hypothetical caring moral Being …”. You are the one saying hypothetical, but then you say you have no “justification for claiming a hypothetical Creator”. If you have no truth for saying that and no justification for saying that, but you did say it, then you are a very confused person.

gnomish

at first glance, this article appears to be a very contorted apologia for the gaffe committed by a poorly rehearsed noveau celeb. it was obvious at the time it would be a gift that kept on giving. it ain’t gonna get rehabilitated. it was what it was- an idiotic thing to say.
though i can, technically, use the author’s convoluted definition to translate his words into something from which i might derive meaning, having done so, semantic analysis reveals zero calories. it seems, superficially, to be a peculiar sort of quibble and one wonders what was the actual motive for holding forth on this particular topic in this particular way? or is it superficial to the bone?
is this a kelly anne thang? u know- like drudge with streisand’s house of filth?
english has a full complement of cognitive tools that are perfectly good, so don’t expect me to adopt this idiosyncratic (and all too precious) parsing of a simple and fundamental concept, which is this
facts is facts
and truth is a binary alternative.

Ricdre

“facts is facts and truth is a binary alternative”
So which of these “facts” is true: 1) Newton – The earths follows an elliptical path around the sun because there is a mutual attraction between the earth and the sun or 2) Einstein – The earths follows an elliptical path around the sun because the mass of the sun warps space and the earth follows the shortest path in warped space. If you answer “Einstein” because his theory answers more questions than Newton’s theory did, consider that many scientists would tell you that both are true with General Relativity being a refinement of Newton’s gravitation theory despite the fact that in many ways the two theories are completely incompatible. Or consider that NASA generally uses Newton’s theory to launch rockets to the planets because at the low energies they deal with the answers given by the two theories are so close that the difference is insignificant for their purposes. Is NASA lying to itself and us by using Newton’s theory for its calculations and in explaining to the public what it is doing? If you asked me, the answer is no, they are not lying, they are simply being pragmatic because the math for Newton’s theory is much simpler to use than the math required by Einstein’s theory of General Relativity and it gives an answer that is close enough for their purposes. Also, Newton’s theory is much easier to explain to the public than Einstein’s theory of General Relativity. So in this sense you have two alternate “Facts” and you use the one most suitable for your purpose (for example, Newton’s theory to calculate the Earth’s orbit but General Relativity to calculate Mercury’s orbit [ see “The Perihelion precession of Mercury’s orbit”]).

MarkW

Einstein is correct, and Newton is incorrect.
Newton correctly describes the affect, but incorrectly attributes the cause.

Ricdre

“Einstein is correct, and Newton is incorrect. Newton correctly describes the affect, but incorrectly attributes the cause.”
Perhaps. On the other hand, you might want to look into a new theory called “Relativistic Newtonian Dynamics”. While it has not yet reached the level of completeness of the General Theory of Relativity, it is capable of accurately predicting many of the same things as General Relativity and in some ways is more “general” than General Relativity as it appears to work for any source of Potential Energy not just gravity and it doesn’t require curved space to work. Also, it makes one prediction in contradiction to Relativity, that the amount of acceleration of an object, not just its instantaneous velocity, affects the amount of time-dilation experienced by an object and there is some experimental evidence that this is true.

Leo Smith

Ah, the truth, the truth
Neither is correct. Both are simply models, of course. The maps are not the territory.
Only those limited in philosophy would even answer such a ridiculous question.
The quality of a map is not contingent on its (undiscoverable) truth content, only in how well it provides the desired answer.
In this aspect AGW and Relativity are no different: Where they differ is that Einstein was interested in providing predictions that came true, whereas AGW is interested in providing predictions that enhance political power and profit.
AGW is therefore not science at all, just marketing.
Windmills will make your life greener than Green!

Ricdre

While it is true that models (or maps) are by definition a limited representation of the actual object or phenomenon, unless you are a god and can create an entire universe to observe to find the truth, they are all you really have and are useful if they provide predictions that can be tested.
On the other hand, Philosophical wanderings can take you anywhere, even to unreal places or places you don’t really want to go such as Plato’s “Philosopher King”, which is a major influence on the theories of Socialism, Communism and even the “Green” movement.

gnomish

for ricdre: there cannot be a reasonable discussion built on the premise that there are false facts. you can’t get anywhere from there for the distinguishing characteristic of a fact is that it is true, only true and nothing but true.
for leo, whose major premise is that ‘only a purblind idiot would disagree with me when i instruct him that there is no way to know that anything is true (and i assert the truth of that with all the zealotry of a mussulman about to behead the kaffir)’. in 3 words or less: liars lie, you.
your second major fallacy is ‘the stolen premise’ which is the necessary acceptance of a proposition in order to deny it…lol
your challenge is to define truth- Before you deny its existence.
that ought to keep you out of the way for a while.
you’re not in my way, mind – i’m just honking as i go by cuz that’s what lolcows are for.

Ricdre

“for ricdre: there cannot be a reasonable discussion built on the premise that there are false facts. you can’t get anywhere from there for the distinguishing characteristic of a fact is that it is true, only true and nothing but true.”
for gnomish: I’m sorry, but I don’t understand how that comment relates to anything I said…please explain…thank you.

gnomish

Ricdre February 21, 2018 at 6:41 am
“So which of these “facts” is true…”
falsehood can not be an attribute of facts (by definition)
the scare quotes are the way a concept is prepared for spaying or neutering.
don’t transgender muh english, dude.
it seems the missing ingredient for you is the understanding that truth exists in a context which must be part of the definition of any fact.
a reasonable proposition takes the form of ‘if A then B’. it is called reasonable because it can be logically evaluated- i.e., it can be resolved to true or false (proven or falsified).
if you drop the context, you do not have a proposition – instead you have a simple assertion which is not a proposition and can not be logically evaluated.
then you call it a fact
then you can no longer distinguish between facts and assertions. then u can no longer think.
if you mean ‘assertion’, then say assertion. debasing the language is not punditry. it is the virtue by means of which reason is made impotent.

Ricdre

“gnomish February 22, 2018 at 11:30 am”
Ok, I see your point. What I meant to show was that two seemingly contradictory things can both be true within their own contexts. I am sorry if my wording was unclear and will try to do better next time.

gnomish

Rob Bradley:
i understand your meaning. while there is a certain validity to what you say, in the context of reasoning (which is done by means of logic), it seems a pointless quibble.
for example, please have a go at proving or falsifying this assertion:
‘everybody should have enough to eat!’
you have asserted that this is a proposition and therefore can be evaluated.
i contend that it is not reasonable for lack of context (the condition part of a logical proposition)
i shall be interested to know if your distinction serves any practical purpose in this case.
please indulge me if you have the time and inclination.
thanks ricdre for crediting my statement with meaning and using your intelligence to abstract it.
epistemology is my hobby horse, i admit. not everybody wants to hear it.

gnomish

Rob Bradley
in a discussion of truth as a logical value, there is a premise: logic.
please note the conspicuous absence of a logical operator in any simple assertion.
what you are dealing with are (alleged) identities – not logical relationships.
definitions are not propositions and they may be entirely fictitious, e.g. ‘unicorns have one horn’
thus is true by definition.
and that’s the cul de sac where your notion leaves us.
unicorns don’t exist but they for sure have only one horn.

gnomish

Rob Bradley – you have been an excellent witness, thank you.
your statement:
“Once you explain to me how the word “should” applies, I can then determine if the existence statement I proffered above can be evaluated.”
is a demand that i provide context so you can evaluate (what i labeled as) a proposition because you find that you can not do it otherwise.
so can i drop the mic?

gnomish

oops. a typo- always red meat for a confirmed quibbler!
i mean to say “(what i label as) a simple assertion”

gnomish

“Nope, I’m asking for you to define “should.” Definitions of the words you use are not context dependent. In logic, definitions are context-free.”
oh, all right. fair enuff.
should means ‘the assertion made is not true’ it’s not anything to do with ethics. it’s simply the subjunctive mood.
so i guess it didn’t serve the intended purpose which was to provide an assertion that you would admit can’t be evaluated logically. and i wanted to do it in an original way cuz i’ve gotta be creative, right?
well, then, let’s go to the classics- evaluate this assertion:
“this is a lie”
no subjunctives for you to trip over there… no adjectives waiting to get winkled out and flung on the glass.
howbow try that one?

gnomish

“Logic is not a “premise”….”
orly? you gonna try to be funneh with me? i didn’t say what you pretend i did.
sine qua non for a logical proposition is logic. or will you claim that you don’t understand what the word premise means?
if you claim to have misunderstood simple english, then this is a childish game you can play with yourself.
unicorns are imaginary. imaginary things are frequent topics of conversation.
your demand that i prove unicorns do not exist is stupid. they exist in your brony mind. that’s what imaginary means.

gnomish

now you are backpedaling…lol you’re gonna trip and fall!
no, i can’t do better than that classic. that’s what makes it a classic.
there are others but it only took that one to stump you.
if you can’t negotiate that simple trick, yu really are not prepared to buckle any swashes in the field of philosophy. you’re just pooping the deck.
so give it a shot show some sincerity or go wait in the car.

gnomish

the rhetorical games you are playing are for noobs.
they’ve been around for ages- e.g.
http://i3.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/masonry/000/934/262/5f1.jpg
commonly used to evaluate the level of accomplishment of an acolyte, they are ‘in jokes’ among the literati.
they are somewhat akin to telling a child that masturbation will make hair grow on his palms- done for the pure lulziness of watching him pretend he isn’t looking when he does look.
you looked.

gnomish

you failed is all. it’s the end. try next season.
you were unable to evaluate a simple assertion and are sitting on the wrong end of i.told.you.so
your failure is, indeed, on the very example goedel named as the logical representation of his incompleteness theorem.
you haven’t passed the first pons asinorum and have yet to confront the other one based on goedel which is:
you can’t really know anything because you can’t know everything.
it’s another of the classics you must learn to negotiate.
you have to be *this high* to go on this ride.

gnomish

“Go play with your “imaginary” “unicorn” also known as a rhinoceros.”
all i can say to that is – i never knew it was possible to be so bad at counting…lol

gnomish

Rob Bradley February 22, 2018 at 8:26 pm
now you’re just flat out lying.
i’ll have to interpret that as a declaration that reason can not prevail with you.
howbow dah?

“Science” and “Scientific American” magazines have discovered that Science Fiction has a good readership and can replace the slice of their income source that prefers to read real Science writing on the Internet and WUWT. Global Warming and Climate Change are an endless source of Science Fiction for them to publish.

Frank

Kip asks: “‘Alternative facts’ is a term in law to describe inconsistent sets of facts put forth in a court given that there is plausible evidence to support both alternatives. The term is also used to describe competing facts for the two sides of the case.”
However, there is a MASSIVE DIFFERENCE between science and law/politics. Law and politics are adversarial systems, where both sides (or all sides) are given equal time to present all of the facts (and expert opinion) that support their position – but no side is expected to candidly discuss the evidence that supports another position nor the weaknesses of their position. If you’ve ever been sued, you’ll recognize that the non-criminal legal system is an exceptionally expensive and inefficient system for discovering the truth. Defense criminal law is often about creating “reasonable doubt”, and not about a coherent alternative theory of the crime. Likewise, our political system has become a series of talking points and fact-free debates with neither side listening to the other and no one interested in solving problems.
Scientists don’t have the time or funding to indulge in an adversarial system for discovering the truth. They use a different system for discovering the truth. As Steve Schneider infamously said:
as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts.
Feynman’s Cargo Cult Science describes scientific ethics in greater detail – and by someone who (unlike Schneider) actually practiced what he preached. Since scientists understand the strengths and weakness of their work the best, they are expected to provide all information that contradicts their preferred conclusion – to include all relevant facts in their discussion, leaving none behind to be called “alternative facts”.
It is simple to prove that the IPCC doesn’t produce “ethical scientific reports” – all of the caveats and some of the truth is missing. Who writes the SPMs? A group of political appointees who must unanimously approve every word guided by a self-perpetuating group of activist scientists who believe their job is to produce a consensus report that will scare policymakers into action. This isn’t science, the IPCC is a kangaroo court trying our fossil fuel based society where activist scientists serve as prosecutors, judge and jury, and no defense attorneys are allowed. It is a perversion of our adversarial legal/political system. Here the phrase “alternative facts” makes sense.
In science, there are no “alternative facts”; there is a collection of evidence which may or may not point to a single conclusion. Some of that evidence is more persuasive than others. The law of conservation of energy demands that our planet warm if rising GHGs reduce the rate of radiative cooling to space. This tell doesn’t say how much warming will occur, how fast it will occur, or where it will occur. It doesn’t tell us that GHG’s are the only cause of climate change, nor does it mean that observed change in a chaotic system must have a “cause”. It does say we should carefully consider the evidence from laboratory experiments and theory that is claimed to show that rising GHGs will reduce radiative cooling to space. If there are “alternative facts” about this subject, they are critical to the scientific process.
A decade-long Pause in warming while GHGs are rising doesn’t produce a significant challenge to the law of conservation of energy and the conclusion that rising GHGs must cause some warming. It isn’t an “alternative fact” contradicts this theory. It is, however, an observation that makes it more likely that climate sensitivity is lower than AOGCMs project. (An AOGCM is an elaborate hypothesis.) It isn’t an “alternative fact” about climate sensitivity – it is an important part of the evidence concerning climate sensitivity.

Frank

I’ve been trying to understand why “alternative facts”, “fake news” and related phenomena have become so popular lately. I’ve been struggling with “WInning Biggly. Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter”, by Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert and blogger admiring Trump’s persuasive abilities. This thesis (based on much psychological research) is that on important issues, deep emotional belief filters what we experience, so that we absorb only the information that agrees with our prejudices: The Pause, not the consequences of the law of conservation of energy. Thus that consummate politician, Lord Monckton, posted monthly about the Pause during the Pause (but not lately). “Alternative facts” appear to be those that support confirmation bias, something science used to discourage.

Yes, and applying the principle of conservation of energy, it seems the ‘pause’ was more apparent than real. It looks like the fact may prove to be that energy was indeed retained on the planet rather than radiated back to space, but that it was sequestered in such unmeasured realms as the ocean depths.
Now it’s starting to look like that sequestered heat is going to come out with a vengeance.

thammond65@hotmail.com

Because some people need to blame such things for losing – Brexit in the UK, Trump in the US. They cannot imagine that they are wrong, so there must be a reason why others disagree with them.
The irony is that “fake news” is the best and perhaps only real example of fake news.

thammond65@hotmail.com

Jack Davis, how can you apply the concept of conservation of energy when you admit that energy can escape to space? You say that energy isn’t conserved on Earth, then say that proves it is.Bizarre comment really.

MarkW

When you can prove that this “energy” somehow managed to find it’s way to the deep oceans, without having any impact on shallower layers, come back to me.
Until then you are just inventing another epi-cycle to try and keep the edifice of CAGW from collapsing completely.

Leo Smith

I personally think, after considerable reflection, that what is happening now is something we pioneers of the Internet hoped would happen, that by allowing access to many conflicting points people would finally realise that all information is in a sense just someone’s idea, and most of it is only given to you for a reason.
In short we tried to break the monopoly of the current elites on what in fact the truth was.
Unfortunately the bad boys were first out of the starting block with the controllable broadcast media and that lead to the postwar rise of the Left: What has happened post the Internet is a reaction against that as in the attempt to control the information flow the Left has ‘jumped the shark’ into areas which even the most compliant liberal raises an eyebrow at.
We are entering a post truth world. One in which the old certainties are being swept away on all sides by a tide of – well to put it bluntly – fashionable and sponsored bulldung.
Nothing is demonstrably true, and the juvenile minds that comprise the electorate are simply having to deal with it.
As Mark Twain put it ‘ a man who doesn’t read the papers is ill-informed, a man who does is mis-informed’
Perhaps this next generation will finally stop believing in father figures, in the media, in academia, in the sky….
..and there will end this ‘appeal to authority’ that marks the witterings of the juvenile Left…
And there is even a faint chance that they will learn to think for themselves.
I have found none so arrogant in and vociferous in their opinions, as those whose opinoons are formed by those they consider better than themselves…
Except myself. But then I am truly special 😉

Thammond 65, you’ve just displayed that you have no idea what ‘conservation of energy’ implies. It does not mean ‘retention on Earth’. Apparently Mark W does not know how convection works.
You guys are not much of an advert for the democratization of science via the internet.

MarkW

Anyone can spout big words that they don’t know. As Jack demonstrates over and over again.

Extreme Hiatus

Kristi – Not nearly as good as “Mike’s Nature trick.” But best you avoid knowing or thinking about that one.

Kristi Silber

Frank – Interesting post.
Here’s my take on the IPCC. They have a choice whether to present one side of the case, or all sides. If they present all sides, they have another choice: do they do so non-judgmentally, or do they evaluate their relative merits to assist policy-makers? Evaluating them would get very politically sensitive, and make the IPCC even more the focus of controversy. Including them non-judgmentally would give all ideas equal weight, which is hardly beneficial to policymakers. Besides, it would take far more time and expense (assuming there are credible, novel approaches to climate change).
If it’s solid evidence from research that refutes the validity of a finding, of course it should be considered. But evidence that simply provides an alternative explanation of a single phenomenon, in isolation from the rest of the interactions, is at that point not yet worth including, in my opinion. It can be examined in more depth for the next report. The pieces must fit together, and that is why modeling is the only possible tool. Arguments from past climate are only of interest if they evaluate the way phenomena interacted, not correlated (and not used to show that the Earth would be fine with 1000 ppm CO2!).
The IPCC can’t include everything. It’s inevitable that something is overlooked. However, caveats are very important. What kind of caveats do you think are missing?
“It does say we should carefully consider the evidence from laboratory experiments and theory that is claimed to show that rising GHGs will reduce radiative cooling to space.”
I think we can also do this in situ, can’t we? If not now, we will be able to soon.
I was at NOAA at Boulder a couple weeks ago, and they’re developing a new way of sampling gases at different heights. I was looking at a display and its inventor came along, got to pick his mind. It’s a travesty that so many people think these brilliant minds, with tons of scientific integrity, would ever be involved in a global conspiracy. It’s personal for me, because it includes my uncle.

sy computing

“If it’s solid evidence from research that refutes the validity of a finding, of course it should be considered. But evidence that simply provides an alternative explanation of a single phenomenon, in isolation from the rest of the interactions, is at that point not yet worth including, in my opinion. It can be examined in more depth for the next report. The pieces must fit together, and that is why modeling is the only possible tool.”
Given that the consensus opinion at the IPCC is that modeling the climate’s future state is not possible at present, don’t you contradict yourself? It would seem at this point the best models can offer is “an alternative explanation of a single phenomenon”, in this case, natural variability.
If you don’t contradict yourself, why don’t you?
“In sum, a strategy must recognise what is possible. In climate research and modelling, we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible. The most we can expect to achieve is the prediction of the probability distribution of the system’s future possible states by the generation of ensembles of model solutions. This reduces climate change to the discernment of significant differences in the statistics of such ensembles. The generation of such model ensembles will require the dedication of greatly increased computer resources and the application of new methods of model diagnosis. Addressing adequately the statistical nature of climate is computationally intensive, but such statistical information is essential.
http://ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg1/505.htm

Radical Rodent

I would argue that there cannot be “alternative facts” – a fact simply IS, no ifs, no buts – however, there can be different interpretations of a fact. These interpretations can change as more facts are revealed: is the assailant shoving the victim against the wall intending to harm the victim, financially or physically, or is he trying to save him from the piano that lands where he had been standing? More facts are required to determine which interpretation is correct: if the assailant steps back and helps the victim regain his composure, then he was intending to save; if, however, he presses harder, and rifles though the victim’s pockets, then the falling piano was just a coincidence.

Good. I hadn’t read tour comment when I wrote my criticism. I agree with you – to take the concept of ‘alternative facts’ seriously is a sure sign of sloppy thinking.

thammond65@hotmail.com

Using your own definitions of something to “prove” your are right is a sign of sloppy thinking. The idea that somebody, somewhere, has an infallible list of what are facts and what are not is the sign of an idiot.

Radical Rodent

Thammond65: please read it carefully. Where did I say that there is a person with an infallible list of facts? That really is an utterly absurd idea. However, a fact IS; it is our own interpretation of the fact that can vary. Observing the Sun traversing the sky, the ancient Greeks interpreted this fact as a god driving his blazing chariot; other civilisations had other interpretations. But, whichever civilisation it was, not being in possession of more facts meant that their interpretation was flawed – and, whatever their interpretation of the event, and how that interpretation has changed over the centuries, has not altered the simple FACTS one jot. It is quite feasible that we still have a flawed interpretation of our solar system; we will not know until more facts are revealed.

gnomish

RR – i assert the same unconditionally. a fact is true by definition
oh, poor mr thammond65 – failure to provide definitions is a sign of sloppy argument. you’ve got it backwards. your scarecrow is poorly constructed, too. but the irony of you calling somebody an idiot for being reasonable is trenchant af.

ROM

In the current bizarre paradigm of claimed sexual inequality, to bravely enter the lioness’s den , “Sciences” Editorial board [ ‘s ] lists 54 editors of whom 30, judging by their personal names are of the female persuasion.
Although there could be a couple more female editors as I had trouble translating some names into the appropiate sexual context.
——
I have taught both men and women to fly gliders over many years, now long gone in the past.
Obviously there s a very big cross over and greying of the borders between males and females in their abilities and their quite different decision making characteristics when under pressure in a technological, fast decision making world in my following claim.
Women overall or at least the ones I taught for the most part are probably a little smarter and more intelligent than most men.
BUT women distrubute that small mental superiority over the male of the species over a much wider range of immediate mental inputs which makes their decision making abilities much more fuzzy and variable.
With the possibility that with fast changing situations such as preparing to land a glider they will select a or be forced into selecting an option out of a whole range of options they are trying to mentally process all at once which may be far from the best or easiest option available.
Men or a high percentage of them will drive towards an obvious and usually self preset goal and discard a lot of peripherial distractions such as another glider also entering circuit to land but is a minute or more behind.
The male puts that bit of infomation into the back blocks of his mental calculations and concentrates on the immediate situation and the decisions that will have to be made within the next minute or even few seconds.
With the predominance of women, no doubt very smart women indeed, [ I’ve got a couple of very smart indeed trained scientists in my immediate family’s matrimonial relationship which it doesn’t pay to tangle with in a argument as they can destroy all of the most well rehearsed arguments in next to nothing flat timewise ] on the Science Editorial Boards, maybe, just maybe there is a growing lack of concentration on what is of real and central benefit to science and the community which is being replaced by the usual female’s wide ranging mental fuzziness as compared to the males brutal concentration on central themes compared with the female propensity to move towards the warm and fuzzy feelly, feelly manner of depicting Science to the public and Scientific information consumers.
ie; post normal scientific Editorship.

OTOH, I have seen some good work from AAAS over the last, er, well, more than a decade. They split off Science Careers, for instance, in an effort to avoid pollution of the science by the political facets of the issues surrounding the job markets for STEM professionals as a result of politically instituted changes in those markets since the late 1980s. And they have been juggling the proportions and mix of specialties they cover in an attempt to avoid bias while staying in the economic and format constraints.

Kristi Silber

ROM – It’s a hypothesis. “Wide ranging mental fuzziness”? Bah.
If anything, a male “brutal concentration on central themes” would be a detriment to science since so much of science is looking for alternative explanations, and it is not good to make hasty decisions. However, that doesn’t mean women can’t recognize the central importance and benefit of science.
Your assessment from glider experience is also confounded by the fact that women on average are not as good at spatial relationships. Interesting perceptions, though.

Reading this post and responses is like leaving the realm of occasional disputed fact and traveling to an alternative universe where critical thinking is surgically removed at birth to enable folks to believe the world is as they want it to be, rather than as it is.
Of course the late night comedians were right to laugh at ‘alternative facts’ and of course, if it really is what they do, lawyers are guilty of semantic sloth if they talk of ‘alternative facts’. We don’t live in a universe where alternative facts are a possibility, but we do live in a universe where intelligence mediated by protoplasm can delude itself and be blind to fact. That is why we have the discipline of science and why science promotes critical thinking.
Unfortunately, critical thinking can be hijacked by that pesky protoplasm, and when the hijacked find each other, they can have a lovely time sharing their delusion and laughing at the truth they cannot see.
That is what we have here.

hunter

Poor Jack, you came to a discussion if ideas completely unable to participate.

thammond65@hotmail.com

So tell us Jack, why did the comedians believe one number and not another? Did they count? Did they oversee the count? Did they audit the count? No, they believed, that’s all. Why? Because the people who pronounce on things are always right?
And have you read a biology textbook from say 50 years ago, with all its facts? How many are still facts?
The sheer arrogance and hubris of your comment, the sheer, unadulterated ignorance is breathtaking. You think your opinions are right, and so any claimed facts that support your opinions must be facts. That’s all. You don’t check everything, you don’t do anything except believe what suits you.And then despise people who do the opposite. Just another brainwashed fool who mistakes his own opinions for brilliance.

gnomish

awesome projection, there mr thammond65
perhaps it would help you demystify your reflection if you learned a new word: ‘assertion’.
‘truth’ is a separate concept- that’s why we have 2 different words – so you can tell them apart.

Radical Rodent

Thammond65: the biology books are describing interpretations of facts; it is the interpretations of the facts that have changed, not the facts, themselves. In any point in time, a fact IS. Nothing can change that; it is only the interpretation of that fact that can change. When Copernicus postulated his interpretation of known facts that the Earth was not the centre of the solar system, did the Sun and stars rearrange themselves so that the Earth was no longer at the centre? Was it the facts that changed, or the interpretation of the facts?

Clyde Spencer

Jack Davis,
You said, “…enable folks to believe the world is as they want it to be, rather than as it is.” That statement comes very close to my definition of a Liberal.

hunter

The illustration, meant to show some high level of discernment, does exactly the opposite.
The illustration actually shows how to institutionalize ignorance and bigotry by deciding ahead of time what will be considered worthy of consideration.

Nope.

Bob

I wonder if this is a symptom of a dying industry. One that has to appease a narrower and narrower market share. Frankly, I gave up on Scientific American long ago, New Scientist went bonkers on nuclear energy years ago and became political. Science News was in the crosshairs.

K.kilty

Science and the AAAS became diseased under the leadership of Donald Kennedy–famous for the scandal of having NSF paying for his yacht at Stanford. Then the disease permanently took hold because no one following Kennedy wished to do the thankless job of correcting the place.

ResourceGuy

The internet is overdue in killing off the old science magazines, news magazines, and other interpretive opinionated marketing platforms. Go direct to the publication clearing houses and short summaries on science dashboard sites. Save time and money and ditch the opinion dustbins of history. That goes double for Brits with their sad case of opinion sclerosis.

co2islife

Deplorable Climate Scientists Have Destroyed Credibility of Science
Here at CO2isLife we have always maintained that CAGW isn’t a scientific issue, it is a political issue. Science is an unbiased, impartial, objective, blind and unbelievably politically incorrect process. Science is the search for truth, no matter how ugly, racist, sexist, homophobic or politically inconvenient it may be. The facts don’t give a damn if you … Continue reading
https://co2islife.wordpress.com/2018/02/07/deplorable-climate-scientists-have-destroyed-credibility-of-science/

Leo Smith

we have always maintained that CAGW isn’t a scientific issue, it is a political issue.

On that point at least I think we agree. CAGW is political and commercial science disguised as ‘science’. Like any drug company ‘white paper’ it invents ailments to which – magically – its is the perfect ‘cure’

MarkW

They got to do something, since they stopped doing science years ago.

TA

From the article: “Alternative Facts and Fake News: How to Advocate for Science When Data Aren’t Enough”
Well, the Alarmists are describing themselves and their current predicatment here: The data they have to promote CAGW is not enough so they need to figure out how to advocate for CAGW without having the facts to back up their claims.
If they had the facts and the proof we wouldn’t be discussing this now. They are trying to win this game without having the proof.

Kristi Silber

Maybe they would have a better chance of “winning the game” if people didn’t persistently make such false statements about climate science and scientists. Maybe if the “skeptics” finally cottoned onto the fact that they’ve been manipulated for years. Fat chance. Most are not true skeptics and are incredibly biased, as their portrayals of “alarmists” reveal.

HDHoese

I recall a professor bringing current issues of Science into the classroom in the 50s to show modern discoveries and introduce students to scientific journals. I remember a small news section, now it is editorializing. This discussion has gotten away some from the issue with Science and similar organizations and their products, so let me suggest that what they are doing is the Orwellian, or other long known designations, of defining something to suit your politics. Examples are like Ocean Acidification, their Alternative Facts or Truths, Sustainability, Biodiversity, Ecosystem and others hijacked from their original meaning. The ones coming now revolve around communication, as Socialism is famous for, if we just explain it right they will understand!
“Although current debates about climate change, evolution, and vaccines may suggest otherwise, trust in science has remained relatively constant over the decades, pointed out Yves Gingras, a historian and sociologist of science from the University of Quebec in Montreal, Canada. So why is it so hard to change people’s minds about “alternative truths” that are demonstrably false?”
These three examples all have viable controversies quite independent of politics and I suspect Bayer and Ferber do not understand this and that science loses it credibility over advocacy and activism. That is what the (especially ‘administrative’) scientific community needs to be re-taught. (“But there are ways to change minds, he said:”) Is this one approach?—-
https://www.acsh.org/news/2018/02/05/npr-seeking-science-editor-science-education-not-required-12528

“This is an Opinion piece — you may have a different opinion — I’d love to hear it.”
Let’s pretend the following is opinion – so it doesn’t get snipped as too slayery.
The WB papers have comment sections at the ends and I am much more likely to see then there than here.
Over 9,000!! views on my WriterBeat papers which were also sent to the ME departments of several prestigious universities (As a BSME & PE felt some affinity.) and a long list of pro/con CAGW personalities and organizations.
NOBODY has responded explaining why my methods, calculations and conclusions in these papers are incorrect. BTW that is called SCIENCE!! (Well, I did get a lecture on water vapor which sort of misses the CO2 point.)
SOMEBODY needs to step up and ‘splain my errors, defend 33 C and “back” radiation, ‘cause if I’m correct (Q=UAdT runs the atmospheric heat engine) – that’s a BIGLY problem for RGHE.
Step right up! Bring science.
http://writerbeat.com/articles/14306-Greenhouse—We-don-t-need-no-stinkin-greenhouse-Warning-science-ahead-
http://writerbeat.com/articles/15582-To-be-33C-or-not-to-be-33C
http://writerbeat.com/articles/19972-Space-Hot-or-Cold-and-RGHE
http://writerbeat.com/articles/16255-Atmospheric-Layers-and-Thermodynamic-Ping-Pong
http://writerbeat.com/articles/15855-Venus-amp-RGHE-amp-UA-Delta-T

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Gary Pearse

Kip: “Alternative facts”; gotcha. But I think it would have underscored this exasperating misunderstanding to give a couple of examples to make it clear. Is it something like this:
Carbon dioxide is rising and so is temperature.
Yes, but look how closely the temperature record follows the PDO and AMO.
Yes but look how closely the major temperature shifts jibe with big changes in sunspot numbers.

Kristi Silber

Gary; “Yes, but look how closely the temperature record follows the PDO and AMO.
Yes but look how closely the major temperature shifts jibe with big changes in sunspot numbers.”
This is irrelevant if the temperature is rising overall. The temp is expected to follow natural cycles and factors, but they don’t account for the overall increase. Nothing does except for rise in CO2.

Kristi Silber

Since the contrarian scientist message is spread at a rate and pitch disproportionate to their representation in the scientific community, it’s high time the consensus scientists have a mechanism of having their voices heard – directly, not through the distortions of the media. Of course, one problem is exactly what is demonstrated here: outrage at consensus advocacy. So why don’t you complain about contrarian advocacy? Should the two groups be held to different standards? Aren’t you aware that the core contrarians are associated with conservative think tanks? It’s hypocritical.
KIP: The problem with “alternative facts” is when they come to carry the same weight as primary, standard, normal facts, even if they are patently wrong. I don’t buy the argument that because the law uses a term in a certain way, that means it’s appropriate for general use. “Fact” loses its meaning as you define it. Is Trump’s claim that his inaugural address brought record-breaking crowds deserving of equal weight as the truth? Or does “fact” bear no relation to “truth”?
Should we allow lies and errors to simply become seen as alternative ways of seeing things?
People who believe that climate change is a threat that can be mitigated by human action are sick of being stymied by arguments based on “alternative facts” – that is, fictions (e.g., high CO2 and/or global warming is a good thing, current climate change is due to natural variation, etc.). Time is of the essence, and it seems to me that the contrarian movement is simply trying to delay action through manipulation of public opinion, not by coming up with better ideas. Climate science has been studied steadily for 50 years. The contrarians have had plenty of time to put together credible alternatives. The alternatives they’ve come up with are not ignored, they aren’t good enough. Now more contrarians don’t build science so much as they tear it down by discrediting it, making it useless to society.
Dr. Curry in congressional testimony suggested there was a lack of “intellectual resources” in skeptical science. Doesn’t that suggest that it’s time to stop looking for “alternative facts”? Shouldn’t we just deal with the uncertainty in predictions? Are we going to do nothing to address the problem because we don’t know that in 2100 the average temp will be exactly 1.9427 C warmer if we decrease emissions by 32%?
One thing that hasn’t been discussed much is the way policy can affect the RATE of change. Instead of thinking about it as, it will warm X degrees by 2100, one can think about it as, it will warm 1.5 C between 75 and 125 years from now. If we can delay the change it gives us more time to adapt. An extra 50 years to move a billion people away from the coast would be pretty handy.
BY ALL MEANS, BE SKEPTICAL! BUT APPLY THE SAME SKEPTICISM TO YOUR OWN BELIEFS, AND TO CONTRARIAN “ALTERNATIVE FACTS,” AS YOU DO TO CONSENSUS SCIENCE.

sy computing

Kristi:
Your argument fails on the same basis as the rest of those who believe as you do, “belief” being the operative concept:
Logical fallacy (Beg the Question) and human hubris.
“People who believe that climate change is a threat that can be mitigated by human action are sick of being stymied by arguments based on “alternative facts” – that is, fictions (e.g., high CO2 and/or global warming is a good thing, current climate change is due to natural variation, etc.).”
You assume the truth of your conclusion in your premise, i.e., that human action is capable of producing climate change of a threatening nature. Your side has no way to prove this conclusion. It isn’t possible as per the IPCC (see below). The best you can argue is that you have evidence for your conclusion and therefore further research is necessary.
If I wake up in the morning and there’s a scratch down the side of my car, I have evidence that my neighbor with whom I’m currently having a dispute caused the scratch. Without PROOF, however, in the form of witnesses, video, etc., I cannot with surety claim my neighbor is the cause of the scratch.
Your side has not proved up it’s assumptions. In fact it isn’t possible to prove your hypothesis at all, as the IPCC consensus opinion admits (emphasis added): http://ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg1/505.htm
“In sum, a strategy must recognise what is possible. In climate research and modelling, we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”
What could be clearer? If consensus is your proof please advise on why you deny this statement from the consensus of opinion of IPCC experts?
The best your side has to offer are a conglomeration of software models built upon the same presuppositions regarding the physics of the earth’s atmosphere that the IPCC has declared incapable of “long-term prediction” of future climate states:
“The most we can expect to achieve is the prediction of the probability distribution of the system’s future possible states by the generation of ensembles of model solutions. This reduces climate change to the discernment of significant differences in the statistics of such ensembles.”
Software models are all you have. Nothing more. And those models are built using the latest scientific presuppositions about the physics of the atmosphere which are not at all comprehensive. Furthermore, those models are shown over and over again to be unreliable.
This brings us to your next problem: Hubris
“Time is of the essence, and it seems to me that the contrarian movement is simply trying to delay action through manipulation of public opinion, not by coming up with better ideas. Climate science has been studied steadily for 50 years. The contrarians have had plenty of time to put together credible alternatives.”
Clearly you suppose that somehow in 50 of 100 years of gathering evidence and studying the physics of a 4.5 billion year old planet’s atmosphere that humanity has figured it all out. There isn’t even consensus (your focus of proof) on the application of physics to describe that atmosphere, much less a comprehensive physics model to explain it!
I gave you an example above of why that hubris is ill-advised with the 3000 year old practice of blood-letting. Each generation of humans believes themselves the best and the brightest of all time. “Ah, we are the ultimate of humanity!” And each generation is proved to be foolish in so thinking in subsequent centuries.
Let’s apply your logical method of science to other fields, e.g., cancer research. Your logic above would seem to allow the following:
“Cancer cures have been studied for over 50 years. The contrarians have had plenty of time to put together credible alternatives. Therefore, we must have a cure for cancer.” Of course, there is no cure for cancer, and this argument is seen to be absurd.
Just as is, with all due respect, yours.

Neo

If there are not “Alternative facts” and the “Science is settled” .. why do we still need scientists ?

I need more examples of “alternative facts”. I don’t like this phrase. List five alternative facts.

Philip Abelson loosing his position as editor of the Journal Science must have been one of the earliest and most effective efforts at censorship. Like many others, in the early 1980′s I begin to take the question of Global Warming seriously. I started looking around for a source of information that I could rely on. For example I looked at an old favorite, Scientific American, but found it unreasonably enthusiastic. Eventually I decided that the Journal Science seemed to be doing the best job. Most of the articles were supportive of the Global Warming thesis, but about 1/3 to a 1/4 were what today would be called skeptical. My reaction at the time was that the science was still being sorted out, and that I would subscribe to the Journal and follow the progress in hope that things would clarify. I did for two or three years and and the ratio of pro and skeptical articles remained much the same. There did not seem much clarification going on, more talking past each other. Suddenly all the skeptical articles disappeared. I was confused until I came upon an interview with Philip Abelson, whom I discovered was no longer the editor of the Journal. In that interview, he stated that one of the reasons he had been replaced was his failure to fully subscribe to the Global Warming theory. There are some who dispute the fact that he was not a full supporter of the theory. In fact if you go to his page in Wikipedia, you will find that they state that he is wrongly touted as a skeptic based on one statement in an opinion piece published in the Journal. “Uncertainties About Global Warming” Science 30 MARCH 1990 VoLUME 24-7 NUMBER 4-950 The statement they quote is “[I]f the global warming situation is analyzed applying the customary standards of scientific inquiry one must conclude that there has been more hype than solid fact.” Wikipedia then rebuts that statement with one from 1977, as if one is not allowed to change ones mind. In this short piece he takes issue with several of the accepted tenets, for example “Modeling of global climate is being carried out intensively by at least 14 different groups. They have largely concentrated on examining effects of doubling the atmospheric content of greenhouse gases. As might be expected, the answers they get are functions of the models they employ. The spread is from 1.5° to 5°C; that is, there is great uncertainty. In addition, if one examines some of the scientific articles on the subject, one finds virtually unanimous agreement that the models are deficient. For example, they do not adequately incorporate effects of clouds, which are expected to increase with warming.” On the other hand, he was very concerned about natural resource depletion and on that ground was a enthusiastic proponent of renewables. Interestingly if you search for this opinion piece on Science’s website, you can find it, but an attempt to buy it returns an error. It is available elsewhere on the web.
Unfortunately, long ago I lost the source of the interview where Abelson stated that his stance on Global Warming was a factor in his having to resign the post. I would hope that someone would be able to resurrect it.