A remarkable essay on ‘near-tabloid science’

Dr. Judith Curry writes:

The perils of ‘near-tabloid science’

A remarkable essay by  esteemed oceanographer Carl Wunsch.

While doing a literature survey for my paper on Climate Uncertainty and Risk, I came across a remarkable paper published in 2010 by MIT oceanographer Carl Wunsch, entitled Towards Understanding the Paleocean.

The paper is remarkable for several reasons — not only  that it was published but that the paper was apparently invited by journal editor.

The paper is well worth reading in its entirety, for a fascinating perspective on paleo-oceanography and paleoclimatology.  Here I provide excerpts of relevance to the sociology of climate science:

Introduction

From one point of view, scientific communities without adequate data have a distinct advantage: one can construct interesting and exciting stories and rationalizations with little or no risk of observational refutation. Colorful, sometimes charismatic, characters come to dominate the field, constructing their interpretations of a few intriguing, but indefinite observations that appeal to their followers, and which eventually emerge as “textbook truths.”

Consider the following characteristics ascribed to one particular, notoriously data-poor, field (Smolin, 2006), as having:

1. Tremendous self confidence, leading to a sense of entitlement and of belonging to an elite community of experts.

2. An unusually monolithic community, with a strong sense of consensus, whether driven by the evidence or not, and an unusual uniformity of views on open questions. These views seem related to the existence of a hierarchical structure in which the ideas of a few leaders dictate the viewpoint, strategy, and direction of the field.

3. In some cases a sense of identification with the group, akin to identification with a religious faith or political platform.

4. A strong sense of the boundary between the group and other experts.

5. A disregard for and disinterest in the ideas, opinions, and work of experts who are not part of the group, and a preference for talking only with other members of the community.

6. A tendency to interpret evidence optimistically, to believe exaggerated or incorrect statements of results and to disregard the possibility that the theory might be wrong. This is coupled with a tendency to believe results are true because they are ’widely believed,’ even if one has not checked (or even seen) the proof oneself.

7. A lack of appreciation for the extent to which a research program ought to involve risk.

Full story here, well worth a read.

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93 thoughts on “A remarkable essay on ‘near-tabloid science’

  1. Often resulting in:
    Misleading the public.
    Wasting public (tax) money.
    Promoting left-wing ideology.
    Indirectly causing unnecessary death and misery . . .

      • Actually not. The planet is indestructible. If everything the Algorites believe to be true actually is, and fat chance of that, the worse case scenario is that life on Earth might be significantly altered. Mankind has survived ice ages. Life itself has endured climate extremes.

        No the global warming panic mongers are not the least bit interested in saving the world. Rather they hell bent on destroying the market economy and human freedom. They just dare not say it.

        If the Warmists want to sell anthropogenic global warming as science they first need to drop their Phineas Taylor Barnum smuck and adopt the rules of real science. Hint Science deals with falsifiable hypothesis and not undebateable assumptions,

        • David, I wouldn’t dispute for a moment that there are “thought leaders” whose mantra is in effect, “I didn’t hear your question, but the answer is ‘Stop burning fossil fuels, we need more socialism'”. Somebody I know has said that a few times here before. But most of the folks who are caught up in this lie are sincere, kindhearted people who do believe that they are trying to avoid a catastrophe and are not in it to bring socialism in the back door. If we acknowledge that, we might have a shot at persuading them and turning them against the cult leaders.

          • You have a point. But how do you reach the kind-hearted true believers? It is somewhat like convincing a devout Catholic that the Pope has been lying to them. Or perhaps it is exactly like that.

          • We probably can’t separate some of them from their faith because in some cases it has replaced traditional religion for them. But then there are the lukewarm believers who are trying to be reasonable, ethical, responsible citizens because they are basically decent people.

            Another challenge is the herd mentality. CAGW leaders work hard to make it a requirement of being part of the cool kids club that you support them blindly. Nobody wants to admit to their doubts or open their mouth and be ostracized. These folks may be easier to convince but will keep their mouths shut. A lot like Leave voters in the UK or Trump voters in the US.

            I guess that the ethical conscientious ones and the go-along get-alongs form the bulk of the electorate. In the end we need to maintain a majority, not seek out the last lost sheep.

          • Snowleopard !!!
            ALARMINGLY…….even the POPE is a “believer”
            when it comes to this “climate cult” !!
            It seems to be ” a closed-order climate cult” too !!

      • I know, you mean that they are “thinking” they are saving the planet.

        The reality is that they are setting in motion the law of unintended consequences.

    • For those who don’t speak “Leo”:

      “The selection of faux issues that emphasise social divisions and are essentially metaphysical, is the Marxist way of destabilisation.”

      • …For those who don’t speak “Leo”:

        Thanks for the translation Crispin, I was struggling with it!
        p.s. aren’t you actually in Ulan Ude? or was it Ulan Batur?

  2. Its all old news climate ‘science’ has built it castle of settled science on quick sand and BS, poor quality or none-existing data with added models make up its foundations . Its ‘strength’ has never come from the quality or validity of its science, but the manner in which it offers ‘opportunities ‘ to those with political goals , such has the the greens , and those looking for the next ‘religion’ to tell them what to do .
    You only have to see who has hitched their wagon to ‘the cause ‘ and listen to how its leader speak to see how little science has a part .
    Well many working in the area are at best third rate academics who could otherwise never gain the opportunities they now have and so will defend it, even if in private they will admit its lies , until the end for they have no choice. Whole university departments live of its funding, and some organizations , such has the IPCC, are even dead should it ever be ‘solved ‘ .
    But this is nothing new through history with have seen the same pattern, until the tide changes and washes it away.

    • Great comment knr!
      Your last sentence caused me to dig out a favorite song by the Moody Blues:

      “I’ve been searching for my dream
      A hundred times today
      I build them up, you knock them down
      Like they were made of clay

      Then the tide rushes in
      And washes my castles away
      Then I’m really not so sure
      Which side of the bed I should lay
      I should lay

      You keep looking for someone
      To tell your troubles to
      I’ll sit down and lend an ear
      Yet I hear nothing new

      Then the tide rushes in
      And washes my castles away
      Then I’m really not so sure”

  3. In the early days, Cosmology was in a very similar situation.

    There was very limited astronomical data, the field was complex and specialist, and it became dominated by charismatic figures supporting pet theories. Fred Hoyle was one such, a proponent of the ‘Steady State. theory of the Universe. He developed the idea of ‘Continuous Creation’ whereby, although matter was moving apart as space expanded, new matter was being created in the gaps so that over the years the Universe would keep looking the same.

    The lengths he went to to save his hypothesis match those that the Global Warming Team go to – very closely….

    • By way of a ‘limited defence’ of Hoyle he had earlier been criticised over his ideas for nucleosynthesis in stars where Hoyle showed that it was a steady state situation. Then he was criticised for his ‘nonsense’ theory of panspermia – another trend toward a steady state – only for it to be confirmed by ESA a year or two back, after his death of course, but mercifully in the lifetime of his colleague Chandra Wickramasinghe. He was wrong on the Hoyle–Narlikar theory of gravity and on the issue of the Big Bang but oddly recent thinking about what happened before the big bang has already brought up the possibility of repeated big bangs.

      • Ok, I’ll bite. How exactly was panspermia ‘confirmed’? Did NASA find aliens and I somehow missed it?

        ~¿~

        • I’m also hooked on this line. Panspermia is confirmed, how on earth did I miss that one?

    • Realize that most of the currently popular ideas in cosmology and astrophysics originate in a former time when it was thought that the space between stars and planets was basically empty. It was not until very late in the game – 1958, when we sent the first instrumented probes into space – that the mistake was definitively understood.

      Today, many graduate-level textbooks will make mention in the introduction that plasma dominates 99%+ of what we see with telescopes. This constitutes a tremendous theoretical change. Virtually overnight, our conception of the universe underwent a dramatic change – yet, that observational change has yet to meaningfully show up in the theory. The cosmic plasma models were simply tweaked such that the cosmic plasma could be treated very much like a fluid or gas, subject to gravity.

      So, the thesis of this article very much still applies to this day in the space sciences. If you have doubts, try asking your astrophysicist friend what a double layer is. It’s a core concept in the plasma laboratory (perhaps even the most important of all), insofar as it is what lends laboratory plasmas their structure – layering, filamentation, sheets, etc. But, best I am aware, the concept is not – yet – taught to graduate students in astrophysics or cosmology (please show me how I am wrong on this if you know of an example …). So, when they see these structures, astrophysicists and graduate students only know to apply the concept of “shocks” – not realizing that there is another possible inference – and a very, very important one – available to them.

    • Cosmology is still in a similar situation. Applying the Virial Theorm to our galaxy and there is not enough mass to close. Therefore Dark Matter is invoked to correct the problem with the observations rather than rethink the theory. Ask the Particle physicists and they insist the Standard Model for Matter is complete (see Higgs Boson) and no room Dark Matter. But do not worry, the multi-billion dollar James Webb telescope will prove beyond a shadow of doubt that with more money we can surely keep busy for the next century.

      • I saw a claim the other day that said there could be a dozen supermassive black holes orbiting the center of the Milky Way galaxy (from earlier galaxy collisons), and the Milky Way galaxy probably contains hundreds of millions of stellar-mass black holes.

        There’s some missing mass for you.

  4. OPEN APOLOGY TO NICK

    I posted it elsewhere but I want to make sure that Nick the alarmist reads this.

    I will eat humble pie on the math of CO2 . Despite what I have said previously ( I hadnt actually calculated it when I misspoke) based on the math, I have concluded that there are lots of molecules of CO2 to eat the photons coming from the surface of the earth.

    One source gave me ~10^44 number of molecules in the atmosphere. That means there ~10^40 CO2 molecules.

    Since 163 J/sec/m^2 hits the earth surface there will be ~10^9 joules hitting in a year

    However 1 photon at 15nm = 1.3243 X 10^-17 joules (taking the 15nm length to represent the average energy level of each photon)

    therefore 10^26 photons are being absorbed /reemitted by surface in a year. Even though CO2 only increases net of 0.5% per year and if assume that only 10% of the reemitted photons of the surface actually get trapped by CO2 that would mean ~ 10^25 photons in a year are getting trapped by 10^40 CO2 molecules. So Nick I apologize for my assumption that the math wasnt there. So it seems there is indeed enough CO2 in the atmosphere to absorb all of those IR photons.

    However that is only 1/2 the story. The rest of it is; the energy gets carried away by collisions with the N2 and O2 which because they are now hotter ; then rise to the top of the atmosphere . After these collisions the energy isn’t going back to the surface because any hot air effectively rises. So even though I was wrong about the math I cant see how the IR energy that is transferred to the N2 and O2 will make its way back to the surface. If it did there would be runaway global warming already and there couldnt be equilibrium.

    • … the energy gets carried away by collisions with the N2 and O2 which because they are now hotter ; then rise to the top of the atmosphere .

      I think the more conventional idea is that they re-radiate the energy rather than causing convection. It’s an interesting problem. The absorption and radiation bands for a gas molecule are because its vibrations are quantum in nature. The molecule can spin or vibrate only at certain frequencies. However, Brownian Motion is not quantum. Gas molecules can move around at any old velocity.

      It is possible that collision with an excited CO2 molecule will cause nitrogen and oxygen molecules to jump to another energy state. It is also possible that the collision will merely change the molecule’s velocity. In any event, the result should be an increase in the gas body’s temperature and, you would think, promote convection. You would also think the gas body would radiate more and thereby decrease in temperature (and density) and thereby decrease convection.

      In any event, it seems like convection should be increased if only by a little.

      • I think the more conventional idea is …

        Or that absorbed energy is thermalized with O2 and N2 molecules before it can be re-radiated. Which leads me to my point: why, after 30 years of $ billions per year spent on climate science, is our knowledge of the GHGE still so puny? Are climate alarmists deliberately disinterested in what really happens?

    • Alan,
      “So even though I was wrong about the math I cant see how the IR energy that is transferred to the N2 and O2 will make its way back to the surface”
      This again comes back to the constant interchange. CO2 molecules absorb photons, but the energy almost immediately gets taken by N2 and O2 in collision. That isn’t the end of it. The CO2s keep getting buffetted, and sometimes have enough energy to emit. The temperature adjusts so those processes are in balance, or nearly so. So the other molecules act as a store; the GHGs do the active conveying. Locally, they warm the air by absorption and cool by emission, equally.

    • please note that water gas does not require convection.
      it’s already the lightest gas in the atmosphere (no, i’m not counting trivial components like H2 and He cuz they don’t freakin matter- nor does CO2)
      in any volume of atmosphere on this planet of water, the water component holds 50,000 times more joules than the CO2 component- and doesn’t even have to change temperature.
      once a phase.change fluid (especially a super.buoyant one!) enters the equation of a planet’s heat transport system (which is a refrigeration system, mmk?), nothing else has any significance.

        • Picking up on the picking of a nit.
          “Argon is lighter than O2”
          No it is not. The Molar mass of Argon gas is 39.948 g/mol, it is the atomic number of Argon that is 18 (neutrons have mass too).
          gnomish was talking about “water gas”.
          The molecular weight of water vapour is ~18 amu.
          The molecular weight of oxygen is ~32 amu
          (lesser fleas have lesser fleas and so ad infinitum).

          • A ‘reasonable guess’ is that the air has a molecular weight of 28. Close enough for government work. Water vapour is both far more plentiful than many constituents of air, and it is also very light at 18.

            Without any addition of heat energy, water vapour rises and drives circulation, often mis-named a thermosiphon. It is in fact a buoyancy-driven and then condensation kicks in. Before long, heat is involved. But it would always start again if there is evaporation at the surface.

            A chimney containing only water vapour pulls pretty hard without any addition of heat. Interesting, neh?

    • “10^9 joules hitting in a year” by your references, it seems this is per square meter, not total

      • My bad. you are right There are 5×10^14 m^2 of the earths surface so that means 5 x10^23 joules hit it in a year . that means since 1 photon = 1.3×10^-17 joules, there are ~4 x10^40 photons. WOW . So given the error factor here there are around the same amount of photons reemitting from the surface every year as there are CO2 molecules to absorb them. However a year is a long time and there are 4 x10 ^ 40 of CO2 molecules in the air to absorb the number of photons that hit the surface every second or every day.

    • The N2 and O2 molecules would only rise if they are being warmed faster than all the other molecules surrounding them.
      Since CO2 is continuously absorbing photons and transferring this energy to the surrounding molecules, and the molecules of N2 and O2 are continuously colliding with surrounding molecules, this is not likely to be the case.

      • The absorbing of photons and transfer of energy by collision is a micro-process. Convection is a macro-process requiring differences within a given volume. I’m not sure that either “warmer O2 molecules are lighter” or MarkW’s assumption of uniformity adequately describe the situation.

        • They aren’t lighter, however because they are moving faster, they effectively take up more space.

    • “So it seems there is indeed enough CO2 in the atmosphere to absorb all of those IR photons.”

      Um, so adding CO2 into the atmosphere won’t make any difference?

      At what point is there “just enough” CO2 in the atmosphere to absorb all the IR photons?

      Just wondering.

      • The point is that more CO2 in the atmosphere means that it will take photons longer to go from the surface to space. This means that at any given time, there are more photons in the atmosphere.

        • “This means that at any given time, there are more photons in the atmosphere.” Please explain

          • Try a thought experiment.
            Assume that the transit time for photons is 1 second. We have a system in equilibrium with the number of photons exiting equaling the number being inserted.
            Now allow a little literary licence. Assume an instantaneous transition. All photons already inserted will continue to have 1 second transit, while all photons inserted after the trigger time will have a two second transit. The number of photons being inserted per second will remain constant.

            What happens?

            For one second after the change, photons will continue to be emitted from the system at the same rate. After one second, the number of photons being emitted drops to zero for one second. After the second second, the number photons leaving the system returns to the previous amount and equilibrium is restored.

            Prior to the change, there was at all times one seconds worth of photons in the system.
            After the change there is two seconds worth of photons in the system.

            Hence increasing the transit time will increase the number of photons in the system.

            If the scenario were reversed and the transit time dropped back to one second you would get this scenario.

            1st second: Normal number of photons exiting.
            2nd second: Double the number of photons exiting.
            3rd second: Back to normal.

          • Photons move at the speed of light.

            “Hence increasing the transit time will increase the number of photons in the system.”

            Yes, but there always will be enough CO2 in the system to be able to absorb all the photons.

        • So what, photons are mass-less, and temperature less, what difference does it make if the are held up a microsecond longer, it is redudant particle energy, with frequencies so long they cannot thermalise in mass again.

    • Correction There are 5×10^14 m^2 of the earths surface so that means 5 x10^23 joules hit it in a year . That means since 1 photon = 1.3×10^-17 joules, there are ~4 x10^40 photons. WOW . So given the error factor here there are around the same amount of photons reemitting from the surface every year as there are CO2 molecules to absorb them. However a year is a long time and there are 4 x10 ^ 40 of CO2 molecules in the air to absorb the number of photons that hit the surface every second or every day.

    • Thanks for that Alan, now show us how those average lwir photons from the co2 get thermilsed at the surface to be re-emitted, when the average thermalising potential of the photons is minus -83 c.

      How many average minus -83c photons does it take to make a surface 83c warmer, warmer still.

      You do all that maths, and leave out the macro element’s taking place, or not taking place in this case, your math worse than worthless.

  5. Consider the following characteristics ascribed to one particular, notoriously data-poor, field (Smolin, 2006), …

    My first reaction was ‘string theory’. Yep. Smolin, 2006 is The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next.

    String theory had/has the Bogdanov affair.

    br>
    The Bogdanovs are brothers who are accused of spoofing their PhD theses (ie. both of them). The review committee for Igor’s thesis couldn’t understand it.

    Igor initially failed and was required to publish three papers in peer-reviewed journals before being given a degree. When later challenges to the legitimacy of the papers submitted by the Bogdanov brothers arose, the debate spread to the question of whether the substitution of a “publication requirement” by university professors when they do not understand students’ work is a valid means of determining the veracity of a paper.

    So, to paraphrase, “We can’t understand your thesis but, if it looks like other string theorists think it’s OK, we will accept it”.

    There is possibly a developing history of spoof papers. We have the Sokal affair in which Alan Sokal spoofed a paper and got it published in a postmodern journal. This demonstrated that if you string the correct gibberish together, postmodern scholars will think it’s profound. Some folks think the Bogdanov affair is revenge by the postmodernists for the Sokal affair.

    • CommieB

      One of the strings theory team members was discussing with me the nature of Dark Matter and what I call Darker Matter last week. He reminded me in a quiet voice that, “No one has yet detected Dark Matter.” Now that is from one of the bright lights of the same Perimeter Institute that Lee Smolin works at.

      The Dark Matter theory is regurgitated each day now as if it was a proven fact of life. Strings are in trouble, as is DM. Whatever the truth is, it is not complete by adding DM to the mix. A significant (and now well-hidden) problem is that the speed of light has repeatedly been shown not to be constant. Ouch!

      The ‘hiding’ has been accomplished be defining the metre not as an absolute length, (which shows that the speed of light in m/sec varies) but as the distance travelled by a certain number of wavelengths of a certain frequency. That way, as the speed of light varies, so does the length of a metre. Neat, huh? As they warn us in the fine print, “Results may vary.” No kidding.

      It is very similar to the GISS temperature adjustments: they declare that the temperature is rising and then adjust the measurements to fit the declaration. Our theoretical physicists have been on top of that concept since the early 70’s. How each of these major fiddles is accomplished should be required material for all science students before they exit high school so they can take civilisation forward, not just swallow every dish that is served.

      • It’s unsurprising that the speed of light varies. In any medium other than a full vacuum, light will travel more slowly. The exact speed is determined by the electrical and magnetic characteristics of the optical medium.

        If dark matter is a real thing, it follows that light should travel more slowly through it.

  6. Its actually a brilliant list of group-think membership criteria.

    I’m a “Berkeley Man” (which is to say, took my UCBerkeley “Bears!” education in the later half of the 1970s; walked among the ideologically waning Berkeley Radicals, ate at Fondu Fred’s and the very first Peet’s coffee house, well before Seattle eructed StarBux), thru and thru. Yet, it was the above list of group-think membership symptoms that most clearly define(d) why I left. Lock, stock and barrel left.

    The most telling “problem” of intellectually mono polar groups is the unerring confidence their members demonstrate in self-validation. The neo-religious fervor of their canon’s recitations, their tireless take-over of dinner conversations, their dogmatic disregard for ALL peoples’ ideas contrary to their faith is just vapid to the core — when not mind-numbingly banal.

    It is why — a Berkeley Man too — I felt I had to leave it behind. The substitution of rote chanting for actual critical and necessarily introspective thinking levied the fatal blow to my membership in the clan.

    Good write up.
    Keep up the righteous work.

    GoatGuy

  7. Alas, the op requires Facebook or Twitter to sign on. Still, I can post the comment I was going to make here:

    …Publishing such an inference would be very difficult, and few would notice if it were published. As the outcome of a funded grant, it is at best disappointing and at worst a calamity for a renewal or promotion. A parallel problem would emerge from a model calculation that produced no “exciting” new behavior. Thus the temptation to over-interpret the data set is a very powerful one….

    It’s worse than that.
    Over-interpreting slightly will get you published, while over-interpreting massively will get you the front page. The process acts as a selection tool for bringing the most immoral actions to the top of the heap.

    • Dodgy, Even worse they manipulate the original data to feed the model to give them the outputs that fit their preconceived conclusions that they then spin to get their name in the headlines.

      • Somebody somewhere slipped a paper through that was critical of ‘Consensus Science’ apparently without ever mentioning GW or CC directly. So Mosher thinks that somehow will make us all forget that “Kevin and I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”

        Funny how those ‘myths’ get started, isn’t it.

        ~¿~

    • So, if the Gatekeepers aren’t 100% efficient, this proves there are no Gatekeepers.
      Is that really the hill you want to make your stand on?

  8. Science runs in fads. It is also subject to weak models where only some data complies with the model and outliers get excuses such as “noise” without proof. Socially, we know what to do about data noise. You throw it away. I read a paper recently saying opal-CT has a problem in that the well-known standard for cristobalite identification is a 621 cm-1 peak in infrared. Since opal-CT does not have this, some complain about sample errors instead of saying it is actually opal-T. People equivalence microscopy on cristobalite and tridymite plate spacing to prove cristobalite exists in opal-CT even though this is not a method of spectroscopic identification of composition, it is a microscope and guessing. The gripes are things like grain size affects the 621 band. However, I have 1000 graphs of opal-CT of mineral samples from around the world, and have never seen it with a 621 band. The false reconciliation demand to what a microscope classification says is proof enough to some counting plate spacing. The opposite of weak models are strong models that account for all the phenomena we see. We have very few strong models in any field of science and so come to accept weak models that excuse non-compliant data and are prone to overgeneralization from undersampling. Climatology has notorious undersampling problems from which grand conclusions are proposed. What is particularly interesting is that bad models survive often because there are no alternative models to explain the data.

    • Donald, interesting observations of scientific attempts to identify and classify something. As a geologist I have seen the trend from petrographic/polarizing microscope data, to X-ray diffraction identification, to Short Wave Infra-red spectrographic identification of crystalline substances. Each presented a truthful data set, some requiring more operator skill, but each was measuring some other characteristic of the question. Now, SWIR, like a PIMA, presents the most useful data to a geologist, in my opinion.

      If other sectors of Science similarly utilize newer technologies to measure issues, ie, what is the behavior of a CO2 molecule under photon bombardment, then comparing the measurement to earlier ideas may be difficult (especially if the motive of the examiner is toward a preferred result). Which is to say: honest and introspective investigation by a scientist is important to produce valid data, and going with the herd, or following the money, or searching for recognition are not characteristics likely to produce good results.

  9. Why, that doesn’t sound in the least bit familiar. That’s because it is exactly the same!!

  10. It is, IMLO that the following stated “characteristic” can also be ascribed to another particular, notoriously data-poor field, ……….. the Origin of Homo sapiens sapiens, …… in respect to the “Out of Africa via the hot, dry Savannah Theory”, …… to wit:

    2. An unusually monolithic community, with a strong sense of consensus, whether driven by the evidence or not, and an unusual uniformity of views on open questions.

    These views seem related to the existence of a hierarchical structure in which the ideas of a few leaders dictate the viewpoint, strategy, and direction of the field.

    Cheers

    • Homo Sapiens is uniquely unfit for survival in a dry savannah region. We drink too much, we sweat too much, we are too dependent on fruits and nuts (our natural foods). If we are so Sapien [wise] why would we choose to live in a savannah environment with the lions, cheetahs, dingoes or wild dogs? If we did, we should be called Homo Stultum instead.

      “People” have been around for a very long time.

      • When the forests disappeared, out ancestors had two choices. Disappear along with the forests, or learn to live on the Savannah.

        • MarkW – July 23, 2018 9:16 am

          When the forests disappeared, out ancestors had two choices. Disappear along with the forests, or learn to live on the Savannah.

          But, but, but, ….. MarkW, …… our ancestral “sapiens” had to spend 300K to 2M years evolving their bipedalism, …… opposable thumbs, …….. large brains, …… intelligent “inventive” tool-making mind, etc., etc., ……. long, long before it was possible for them to even think about ……. learning to live on the hot, dry, dangerous African Savannah.

          Our ancestral hominins evolved to be the sapiens species of the genus Homo during their residency along the shore of a salty sea or tidal zones where high protein foods were plentiful and easily harvested.

          • The forests didn’t disappear over night.
            There were no salty sea or tidal zones in the areas where our ancestors evolved.

          • Iffen you have been brainwashed into thinking our ancestors evolved in East Africa’s Great Rift Valley then its time you learned the following:

            The Great Rift Valley of East Africa

            In Kenya, the valley is deepest to the north of Nairobi. As the lakes in the Eastern Rift have no outlet to the sea and tend to be shallow, they have a high mineral content as the evaporation of water leaves the salts behind.

            For example, Lake Magadi has high concentrations of soda (sodium carbonate) and Lake Elmenteita, Lake Bogoria, and Lake Nakuru are all strongly alkaline,
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Rift_Valley

          • humans evolving

            The evolution of bipedal locomotion, loss of protective body hair and the growth/formation of “sweat glands” over their entire epidermal skin area are just three (3) of the physical attributes that our early human ancestors (the only living sub-species in the Family of Great Apes) acquired during the past two (2) million years, ….. for them to best survive in the environment that they chose to live and reproduce in.

            So, the question is, what was their selected environment like that best suited a bipedal stance or movement, ….. did not require the protection of a heavy coating of body hair, ,,,,, but absolutely, positively required that their entire body surface (epidermis) contain sweat glands that secrete copious amounts of salt (NaCl) containing water (H2O).

            Surely that environment was not a hot, semi-arid African savannah, …. simply because salt (NaCl) and water (H2O) are the two (2) most important, precious resources necessary for pre-human or human survival, ….. and thus it would be highly detrimental to one’s survival if they indiscriminately rid their body of said without an immediate means of replacing said losses. Too little, or too much water (H2O) or salt (NaCl) is a cause of certain death to humans.

            As far as anyone knows, ….. the evolving of “sweat glands” in the epidermis covering of the human body may have specifically evolved for ridding the body of excess salt (that was/is ingested as a result of their primary food source) …… because the retention of too much salt will kill you “deader than a door nail”, There has been more than one (1) human that has died from drinking “salty” water. And a “heat stroke” is the result of “sweating out” too much of the body’s salt content.

            Cheers, …… Sam C

      • “If we did, we should be called Homo Stultum instead.”

        Or Homo simp.

        Or Homer Simpson.

  11. From Curry’s article:
     “Often important technical details are omitted, and alternative hypotheses arbitrarily suppressed in the interests of telling a simple story.”

    “I know there is pressure to present a nice tidy story as regards ‘apparent unprecedented warming in a thousand years or more in the proxy data’ but in reality the situation is not quite so simple.”

    —Dr. Keith Briffa, Climatic Research Unit, disclosed Climategate e-mail, Sep. 22, 1999.

  12. Read the entire Wunsch paper — the link is in the essay…at that link, there is a text link on the upper right hand side for the [PDF] >

  13. Combined near tabloid science with the mainstream media (I say just media because the MSM has become a propaganda/ entertainment machine having little to do with the news) and a generation just coming up, while sporting all sorts of degrees, may be the most poorly educated generation in a century. The results are not pretty.

    Since a large portion of those under fifty have not been taught how to critically think we are at more risk from this coming generation, the so called millennials, than any generation since the 1920s.

    Not long ago after listening to a millennial spout the orthodoxy, telling me all the mistakes my generation had made, and how wonderful the world will be when they are in charge, I asked “well what if you were in charge now, what would you do?” After they continued spouting much of what they had been fed, I asked “but what if you are wrong? What if the model predictions are not just off a little but totally wrong and doing what would has been suggested has the opposite effect driving the Earth into another ice age?” They never imagined that they and the orthodoxy might be wrong. In fact being wrong, having it all turn out to be a mistake never crossed their minds.

  14. From one point of view, scientific communities without adequate data have a distinct advantage: one can construct interesting and exciting stories and rationalizations with little or no risk of observational refutation.

    Hmmm, sounds familiar…

    “There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.”

  15. The Wunsch paper is fascinating…even for someone like me who’s quite ignorant of oceanography.

    This quote struck me as all-too-pertinent and worth highlighting, as it basically summarizes the skeptic complaint with the over-reliance on models:

    “That models are incomplete representations of reality is their great power. But they should never be mistaken for the real world. At every time-step, a model integration generates erroneous results, with those errors arising from a whole suite of approximations and omissions from uncertain or erroneous: initial conditions, boundary values, lack of resolution, missing physics, numerical representation of continuous differential operators, and ordinary coding errors. It is extremely rare to read any discussion at all of the error growth in models (which is inevitable).
    Most errors are bounded in some way: the ocean is not permitted to boil or freeze over–limiting any temperature errors, and lateral displacement errors cannot exceed half-the Earth’s circumference; diffusion ultimately removes the effects of small initial condition errors–albeit the time required to do so may be many thousands of years. A stopped clock never has an error exceeding six hours (on a twelve-hour system), but few would argue that it is a particularly useful model of the passage of time.”

    rip

    • Rip,

      I’m glad that I read through all the comments before I post one. I copied to clipboard the same that you quoted and intended to comment on it! Bounding of errors …. LMAO!

    • “At every time-step, a model integration generates erroneous results, with those errors arising from a whole suite of approximations and omissions from uncertain or erroneous: initial conditions, boundary values, lack of resolution, missing physics, numerical representation of continuous differential operators, and ordinary coding errors. It is extremely rare to read any discussion at all of the error growth in models (which is inevitable).”

      Sounds like what Pat Frank has been arguing for years.

  16. Dr Curry, I listened to your ‘debate’ (if it can be called such) w Dr Mann, Adm Pritchard(?), and Dr Moore this weekend. If Dr Mann doesn’t meet the criteria of 1,3,4,5,6 I don’t know who would. I did appreciate the shot about ‘hmm, maybe I should write a book’ :).

    Dr Mann spent his entire 15 minute period alternately defending his ‘Hockey Stick’, patting himself on the back, and hawking his book (which he really did tell the audience could be purchased at a table outside the auditorium after the ‘debate’) . The Admiral’s presentation consisted of a an initial ‘appeal to emotion’ about something related to community disruption based on changing energy needs, I think, and a very lengthy ‘appeal to authority’ interspersed with fawning hero worship of Dr Mann (he really did say that Dr Mann was the ONLY person on the stage with the intellectual capacity to understand raditiative transfer equations). I was stunned by his presentation. I was disappointed in Dr Moore’s delivery. He seemed hesitant and stumbled over the points he intended to make. I thought you did a great job tho. Concise presentation of fact.

  17. The article briefly touches on “error” estimates. What is often called “error” expressed as “plus/minus” number after a derived value. is not actually an “error” in the sense that it represents a possible deviation from reality. It is instead a measure of the deviation in the measurements or predictions and could vary from reality much more than the quoted value, especially in the presence of systematic errors.

  18. Note that the quote from Smolin (an outsider in the subatomic physics community) is in reference to string theory and much of today’s quantum mechanics. It shows how far from actual science much of what passes for science has strayed. Even the supposed “hard” sciences have succumbed to an environment of government funding directed by popular opinion and emotion.

  19. For some reason neither Judith Curry or Anthony Watt included this sentence from the paper:

    “One has the bizarre spectacle of technical discussions being carried on in the news columns of the New York Times and similar publications, not to speak of the dispiriting blog universe. ”

    Looking at what passes for technical discussions here I would have to say that Carl Wunsch was clearly
    onto something.

    • I agree, most blogs are pretty bizarre. Especially those like so-called Skeptical Science, where any trace of skepticism is quashed.

  20. 1. Tremendous self confidence, leading to a sense of entitlement and of belonging to an elite community of experts.

    2. An unusually monolithic community, with a strong sense of consensus, whether driven by the evidence or not, and an unusual uniformity of views on open questions. These views seem related to the existence of a hierarchical structure in which the ideas of a few leaders dictate the viewpoint, strategy, and direction of the field.

    3. In some cases a sense of identification with the group, akin to identification with a religious faith or political platform.

    4. A strong sense of the boundary between the group and other experts.

    5. A disregard for and disinterest in the ideas, opinions, and work of experts who are not part of the group, and a preference for talking only with other members of the community.

    6. A tendency to interpret evidence optimistically, to believe exaggerated or incorrect statements of results and to disregard the possibility that the theory might be wrong. This is coupled with a tendency to believe results are true because they are ’widely believed,’ even if one has not checked (or even seen) the proof oneself.

    7. A lack of appreciation for the extent to which a research program ought to involve risk.
    _____________________________________________________

    Change “experts” for “people” and here’s the perfect definition of fascism.

  21. Well done Dr. Curry on unearthing this 2010 paper from Carl Wunsch. So, here’s a question for all devotees of this splendid blog – do you think that this paper would be published today?

  22. Sounds just like luke-warmer judy & co and their imaginary Radiative Greenhouse Effect,….
    The luke-warmers magical gas and Thermo-dymagic’s, the defenders of the consensus, the gate-keepers as it pays the mortgage.

    I don’t know who is the most contemptible.

  23. Anthony, Thank you for passing along Dr Judith Curry’s thoughts on the sociology of science and relevant quotations pertinent to the global warming hypothesis and “climate science”controversy from the article by Carl Wunsxh on paleooceans.

    I would add two points one of which is a take away from the detailed lay history of the invention and construction of two massive LIGO experimental stations that detected the collision of two orbiting Black Holes and the gravitational waves in Sept 2015 emanating from which that altered space time written by Jenna Levin in her book Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space 2016.

    The successful validation of an old Einstein theory occurred after several decades of trial and error, some false starts, continuous experimental refinement, intermittent personal animosity, hired and fired project managers, the fight for Federal funding from the NSF, the lack of consensus at times about the under lying theory of how to detect gravitational waves, and whether it was even possible to do so given the vast spans of time and space between a cosmic event in the past and earthly observation in the present.

    Reading Levin’s book I kept thinking: How different is the history of the LIGO project and the behaviour of its principal scientists from that of the climateers such as MBH and AGW modeling. One is a model of Big Science to be admired and duplicated, the other a modern travesty of the scientific method. The most amazing thing about the success of LIGO was the scepticism of the principal scientists about what they had detected and their efforts to seek independent validation and confirmation of the results from a network of international collaborators before they announced anything to the press.

    real science does not ever guarantee success or empirical confirmation of theory nor are positive empirical results achieved on schedule or on a pre determined time frame, that scientific research in Big Scinece may not only require a lot of time and money, ingenuity and genius but also humility and enormous patience. It strikes me that one characteristic of contemporary climate sciencists is their utter impatience and lack of humility and lack of unbiased disinterest in their work.

    My point is that Levin’s book describes how much time, the real risk of failure, the potential loss of professional reputation was at stake in the effort to detect gravitational waves, the huge amounts of money involved in the Federal funding of the LIGO project and that this risk was appreciated by the principal investigators in the project over the course of several decades, because the outcome was always uncertain.

    The second point is that intense group identification of climate scientists and their exclusion of others who disagree with them is not only similar to that demonstrated by adherents to a particular religion or political platform but epitomises the behaviour of Marxist Leninists in the Soviet Union and CPUS and their belief in the infallibility of the doctrine of the Communist Party, regardless of the obvious failures to deliver on utopian promises, the ongoing use of terror tactics to control the population, the contradictions and embarrassing reversals of policy and that slavish adherence to CP ideology was rewarded with show trials and imprisonment and execution for any deviation in political thought.

  24. An article by Wunsch on the Thermohaline: https://courses.seas.harvard.edu/climate/eli/Courses/EPS281r/Sources/Thermohaline-circulation/more/Wunsch-2002.pdf

    An excerpt:

    The conclusion from this and other
    lines of evidence is that the ocean’s mass
    flux is sustained primarily by the wind,
    and secondarily by tidal forcing. Both in
    models and the real ocean, surface buoyancy
    boundary conditions strongly influence
    the transport of heat and salt, because
    the fluid must become dense enough to
    sink, but these boundary conditions do not
    actually drive the circulation.

  25. For the Radiative Green House Effect to function as advertised the surface of the earth must radiate as a 1.0 emissivity ideal black body.

    But the non-radiative heat transfer processes of the atmospheric molecules make such BB emission impossible creating an effective emissivity of 0.16.

    There is no upwelling radiation, no downwelling radiation, no GHG energy loop and carbon dioxide plays no role in the behavior of the climate.

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