Why I don’t ‘believe’ in ‘science’

Reposted from Climate Etc.

by Judith Curry

” ‘I believe in science’ is an homage given to science by people who generally don’t understand much about it. Science is used here not to describe specific methods or theories, but to provide a badge of tribal identity.  Which serves, ironically, to demonstrate a lack of interest in the guiding principles of actual science.” – Robert Tracinski

Robert Tracinski has published a superb essay entitled Why I don’t ‘believe’ in ‘science’. Excerpts:

begin quote:

For some years now, one of the left’s favorite tropes has been the phrase “I believe in science.” Elizabeth Warren stated it recently in a pretty typical form: “I believe in science. And anyone who doesn’t has no business making decisions about our environment.” This was in response to news that scientists who are skeptical of global warming might be allowed to have a voice in shaping public policy.

[I]t captures a lot of what annoys the rest of us about the “I believe in science” crowd. It reduces a serious intellectual issue—a whole worldview and method of thought—to a signifier of social group identity.


Some people may use “I believe in science” as vague shorthand for confidence in the ability of the scientific method to achieve valid results, or maybe for the view that the universe is governed by natural laws which are discoverable through observation and reasoning.

But the way most people use it today—especially in a political context—is pretty much the opposite. They use it as a way of declaring belief in a proposition which is outside their knowledge and which they do not understand.

There are a lot of people these days who like things that sound science-y, but have little patience for actual science.

The problem is the word “belief.” Science isn’t about “belief.” It’s about facts, evidence, theories, experiments. You don’t say, “I believe in thermodynamics.” You understand its laws and the evidence for them, or you don’t. “Belief” doesn’t really enter into it.

So as a proper formulation, saying “I understand science” would be a start. “I understand the science on this issue” would be better. That implies that you have engaged in a first-hand study of the specific scientific questions involved in, say, global warming, which would give you the basis to support a conclusion. If you don’t understand the basis for your conclusion and instead have to accept it as a “belief,” then you don’t really know it, and you certainly are in no position to lecture others about how they must believe it, too.

Because science is about evidence, this also means that it carries no “authority.” The motto of the Royal Society is nullius in verba—”on no one’s word”—which is intended to capture the “determination of Fellows to withstand the domination of authority and to verify all statements by an appeal to facts determined by experiment.”

That’s the opposite of what “I believe in science” is intended to convey. “I believe in science” is meant to use the reputation of “science” in general to give authority to one specific scientific claim in particular, shielding it from questioning or skepticism.

“I believe in science” is almost always invoked these days in support of one particular scientific claim: catastrophic anthropogenic global warming. And in support of one particular political solution: massive government regulations to limit or ban fossil fuels.

The purpose of the trope is to bypass any meaningful discussion of these separate questions, rolling them all into one package deal–and one political party ticket.

The trick is to make it look as though disagreement on any of these specific questions is equivalent to a rejection of the scientific method and the scientific worldview itself.

But when people in politics proclaim “I believe in science” what they’re doing is proclaiming a belief in the current consensus. Do you think Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang have given serious study to climate science? No, they believe in global warming and its preferred political solutions because they have been told that a consensus of scientists believes it (and because this belief confirms their own political biases). Notice that Warren’s statement was about a panel of scientists who are skeptical of global warming, led by a distinguished physicist, William Happer. When does a scientist count as someone who “doesn’t believe in science”? When he departs from the “consensus.”

end quote.

Pseudoscience

The ‘I believe in science’ crowd is very enthusiastic about labelling as ‘pseudoscience’ any actual science that has implications that are counter to their political beliefs.

As a case in point, consider Media Bias/Fact Check.  In particular, check out their entry on Climate Etc. which is reproduced here in full:

beqin quote:

Sources in the Conspiracy-Pseudoscience category may publish unverifiable information that is not always supported by evidence. These sources may be untrustworthy for credible/verifiable information, therefore fact checking and further investigation is recommended on a per article basis when obtaining information from these sources. See all Conspiracy-Pseudoscience sources.

Factual Reporting: MIXED

Notes: Climate Etc is the blog of Judith A. Curry who is an American climatologist and former chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The Climate Etc blog publishes news and information regarding climate science and climate change. The majority of articles minimize or deny the impacts of human driven climate change. According to a Scientific American interview, Judith Curry admits to receiving funding from the fossil fuel industry. This article also labeled her a “climate heretic.” Judith Curry has also been invited by Republicans to testify at climate change hearings regarding alleged uncertainties regarding man-made climate change. Climate Feedback, a climate change fact checker, debunked much of Curry’s testimonials. Further, Skeptical Science has labeled Judith Curry as a “Climate Misinformer.” Judith Curry is also cited in a Pants on Fire claim by Politifact. Overall, we rate Climate Etc as a pseudoscience website due to its promotion of anti-climate science propaganda. (D. Van Zandt 10/14/2017) Updated (1/28/2018)

end quote.

Well, Climate Etc. didn’t quite make it into the ‘Tin Foil Hat, Quackery’ category.

The Wikipedia isn’t too impressed:

“The Columbia Journalism Review describes Media Bias/Fact Check as an amateur attempt at categorizing media bias and the owner of the site, Dave Van Zandt, as an “armchair media analyst.” Van Zandt describes himself as someone with “more than 20 years as an arm chair researcher on media bias and its role in political influence.” The Poynter Institute notes, “Media Bias/Fact Check is a widely cited source for news stories and even studies about misinformation, despite the fact that its method is in no way scientific.” ”

With regards to me personally, I have seen numerous statements on twitter or wherever that I have ‘abandoned science’ or have ‘stopped being a scientist’ since I began publicly questioning aspects of the so-called scientific consensus on climate change (whatever the ‘consensus’ means at any given time to any particular person).

Tracinski’s essay does a superb job of identify the intellectual laziness, tribalism and politics surrounding these ignorant ‘arbiters of science,’ who are easily identified by their statements ‘I believe in science.’

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115 thoughts on “Why I don’t ‘believe’ in ‘science’

  1. Where climate “science” is concerned (at least), the word, “science” has been hijacked as a reference to a form of pseudo-science.

    THIS … “science” I do NOT believe in.

    I do NOT believe in the misuse of science and the false attribution of pseudo-scientific mythology to the word, “science”, and so, in this sense, I too do not believe in science (i.e., the new non-science “science”).

    This is to say that I have somewhat lost faith in its legitimate practice by those claiming to be … “scientists”.

    • “Science” is not a belief system. To say that is is about believing in something makes it a religious order. It is a pathetic attempt to exert control of people’s minds and subsequently, everything else they do.

      If anything, it is a forum for argument, disagreement on results, agreement on results, comparison of methodology, etc., and not meant to be a belief foundry. It allows discovery of all kinds of things, such as why the sun is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings.

      • You’re exactly right. On the other hand, one might like it or not.

        I like science so much that I went to grad school and earned a PhD in chemistry. I don’t believe in CAGW. although I used to accept AGW as a theory.

        • AGW as a theory, or as a hypothesis ?

          I think there is sound theoretical basis for a GHE. That is the “basic science” bit of the climate models. How the climate system responds to that and whether it is even measurable is where it all goes off the rails and stops being science at all. There the modellers just play with the fudge factors on woefully inadequate models to produce the result their personal biases ( and funding ) requires.

      • One of the troubles that perpetually lurks in the shadow of science is the repeated, and repeatedly false assertion that science is a quest for truth. That is simply wrong. For one thing, except in extremely simple situations “truth” is never fully determinable. Any practicing scientist forgets this at peril of severe embarrassment. Science seeks the best available explanation of the available evidence.

        In climate “science” the evidence that this has been long forgotten is evident in such thing’s as Kevin Trenberth’s plaintive “The data must be wrong” in the Climategate emails, and in the continuing adjustments of “climate” data by various national weather services (not just NOAA and NASA). Tony Heller’s pursuit of this and his demonstration of a clear bias in how data is adjusted is essentially irrefutable evidence of the state of mind of those in charge of these programs, and it is not a scientific state of mind.

        • I agree. “Science” is a process for ascertaining “knowledge.” “Knowledge” is a held belief about how the world works, has worked, or will work. So, knowledge is a belief. How is knowledge different from belief, or what type of belief is knowledge? Well, we can have beliefs about all kinds of stuff. Knowledge is a “justified” belief. When we can espouse a belief, and show the support for our belief, we can claim it is knowledge.

          There are many kinds or styles of justification. One is authority: “an authority told me a truth, and so I justify believing in that truth with the justification that it is true because I heard it from an expert.” A problem is that the authority could be wrong.

          One is empiricism: “I know it is true because I saw it with my own eyes.” A problem is that you could have been deceived, or mistaken, in your perception. I once saw a woman getting cut in half. On stage. By a magician. On America’s Got Talent. My eyes say she was cut in half. But the rest of you are not so gullible – you know your observations can be wrong.

          One strategy for ascertaining knowledge [justified belief] is “science.” “Science” is designed to overcome some of the problems in our other strategies, or approaches, or processes. But in the end, Science, itself, is just a strategy for ascertaining knowledge, and has its own limits.

          What is science? It depends on observation. And, also on reason. Combined. To get the best of both. As we know, it works like this: you have a suspicion about what might be true. You figure out a way to test this: “if [this] is true, then if I do this, then that should result.” “If my light switch is what makes the light go on, then when I flip the light switch, the light should go on.”

          Now, knowing that the situation could be more complicated – the light switch could affect temperature, and temp could make the light come on, or someone could be holding a remote control to the light and could operate it as I flip the switch, “science” has a built-in sKepticism tenet. It works like this: “if I flip the light switch and the light does not come on, then my belief that the light switch makes the light come on is disproven; however, if the light does come on when I flip the switch, that does not prove that the light switch makes the light come on, it only supports that belief.”

          This specific type of test follows a reason pattern. This reason pattern sounds good to us. That is its ultimate support. There is no further standard than ‘it makes sense.” It is just reasonable. There is no Board of Science that reifies a belief or a method. It is just a mater of cultural consensus on what Makes Good Sense. [Feyerabend discusses this a lot.]

          Hence the science tenet that we only find support for ideas but not “proof,” but can find proof of disconfirmation.

          Hence: by its orthodox tenets, science NEVER proves anything; only helps develop a good case for what we all – or most of us all – might agree serves as truth, until some big finding to the contrary comes along.

          That is a strict view of science. A broader view is that “science” is both this matter of hypothesis testing, AND is a social phenomena: a set of beliefs seen to be interlocking, and a community of people who have some informed composite set of beliefs following some big organizations of beliefs.

          So, when we say “science” knows vaccinations work, or science” knows when the next eclipse will be, we are referring to this social, communal aspect. Not the matter of specific hypothesis testing.

          Each can be wrong, or limited, in its own ways. Obviously, the Social Network “science” has lots more ways to be off track.

          So, when “science” says “there is man-made global warming,” there are many ways to wonder how that claim might be wrong. Voices could be suppressed, the best tests may not have been broadcast widely, etc. What Semmelweis “knew” about hand-washing took forever to be adopted as “science” by physicians, generally.

          Finally: as noted, by its nature/its rules, the stricter sense of “science” is limited to replicable phenomena in the physical world. So, “science” cannot be used to finally answer whether the Civil War was fought over slavery, or not. We have NO way to develop a testable, falsifiable hypothesis, then run some trial to generate data to test whether our hypothesis-concordant predicted observation is manifested, or not.

          So, science, in the strict sense, is limited. It cannot answer questions about what caused what in the past. Scholarly analysis of those types of questions REQUIRES DIFFERENT METHODS FOR ASCERTAINING WHAT MIGHT BE TRUE OR NOT.

          Similarly, since we cannot observe what has not yet happened, science cannot “say” what will happen in ten years. So, a forecast can be supported by scientific evidence, but cannot be a matter of scientific “fact.” So, saying the oceans will rise by a foot in five years CANNOT BE A SCIENTIFIC FACT. By definition.

          Sorry.

          I hope this helps. By recognizing “science” as one of a few different methods for “ascertaining truth,” we can consider it, including strengths and weaknesses. And, we can avoid dumb arguments and idiotic statements. To wit: being a matter of unobserved history, if true, “evolution” CANNOT be a scientific fact. It may be true that natural selection, etc., etc led from the earliest life forms to give us both the platypus and the octopus, but we CANNOT claim it as scientific fact that we have them both due to “evolution.” We can make good arguments, and have lots of evidence, but we will never do a recreation of events and observe the platypus emerging from a genetic predecessor ever again. Sorry. We just cannot. As much as we “scientists” may believe “evolution” is a “scientific fact.”

          Likewise: even if man-made fossil fuel consumption rose CO2 in atmosphere, and that “caused” a greenhouse effect, we cannot say runaway warming in the FUTURE is a “scientific fact.” It may be the case that the warming affects cloud cover, and air circulation, and water circulation, etc., and their negative feedbacks on temp prevent the suspected runaway warming from ever happening. We just won’t know until time goes by, and we observe, and analyze patterns of data.

          Being clear on what “science” is helps make these issues more clear. At least to me. Having studies empiricism and science, and having read Feyerabend on the social dimensions of science, helps me see all of this pretty clearly. And, helps me be able to critically review “science” proclamations, and peer reviewed papers. I have read MBH98 and can see its strengths and limits. When I see the Hockey Stick, I know it could be true, but I further know what it would take for it to be a truth of “science.”

          In a strict sense, this reason-drvien

          • I agree. “Science” is a process for ascertaining “knowledge.” “Knowledge” is a held belief about how the world works, has worked, or will work.

            Agreed. And thus “Science” is indeed system of belief, i.e., a “Belief System.”

          • NO. Scientific knowledge is a description of how something works based on observation which has been determined to have predictive ability about how it will work in the future.

            Anyone who adopts this as “belief” has missed the point and probably not actually studied any science beyond high-school.

            That is exactly the problem with the “I believe in science” crowd. They believe, because they have no knowledge. It is an appeal to authority: I believe ( have faith in ) someone else’s acclaimed scientific understanding.

            There is an expectation that this description ( model ) of that particular aspect of nature will be useful in understanding how things work. It is always known that new observations may not fit that model and that it may need to be modified or replaced.

            There is no “belief” or faith based element in that worldview.

          • I agree. “Science” is a process for ascertaining “knowledge.” “Knowledge” is a held belief about how the world works, has worked, or will work.

            Sorry, but that is *NOT* the definition of knowledge. Belief is not in the definition:

            knowl·edge.
            [ˈnäləj]
            NOUN
            1.facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.

            Facts and information don’t care about your beliefs. A fact is no less a fact just because you don’t believe in it. Not believing that you will fall when you step off the top of the Empire State Building isn’t going to change the fact that you will fall over 1,000 feet to your death if you do so.

          • Spot on Greg. It’s just another appeal to authority, same as the 97% consensus, but more insidious as most can spot the appeal to authority with the use of consensus (a political, not scientific, term) whereas (as several posters here have shown) those who don’t know enough about what science is fail to see that “believing” in science is itself an unscientific position.

        • Kierkegaard said, “It is not all true that the scientist goes after the truth, it goes after him.”

          Some people don’t get the message.

      • @Sara actually all science seeks is to create a framework to usefully describe all workings in the universe. It doesn’t actually care who believes what at all the key test is usefulness.

        The simple rule of science judgement simply falls does theory “A” cover theory “B” and provide additional coverage and if that is so theory “A” supersedes “B”.

        Ultimately it doesn’t tell you theory “A” is right but at least it is more useful than “B”.

        When polled only around 20% of scientists believe in QM but that is all moot it is more useful than classical physics so it supersedes it whether the majority believe in it or not. The old adage no-one don’t cares what you think 🙂

      • ….why the sun is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings.

        Don’t forget ..ships and shoes and sealing wax!
        Cheers
        Mike

      • “Science” is not a belief system.

        Indeed. Anyone who “believes” in science, doesn’t understand science or what science is/does.

      • Sara,

        Science is belief in a process of thinking, and, as such, I think this constitutes a “belief system” — it is belief in a system of reasoning.

        At first, I almost agreed with you, but then I started thinking about it.

        • Science is belief in a process of thinking, and, as such, I think this constitutes a “belief system”

          Perhaps instead of “thinking about it” you could have simply looked up the definition:

          sci·ence. [ˈsīəns]
          NOUN
          the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.

          Notice what word is not in that definition: belief.

    • “I believe in …” should always be followed by a noun that describes something accepted on faith.

      As in, “I believe in God”.

      Or “I believe in conservative/liberal ideology”

      Or “I believe in ghosts”.

      All of the above are religions or ideologies based upon what one thinks about stuff.

      Science is never something to be believed in.

      Science just is whatever the hypotheses, the theories, the data, and the analyses that are momentarily subject to discussion and further learning.

      Science is not a static set of beliefs. Science is the opposite of that for just like the climate, it always and forever changes from what it is now, and once was.

  2. Politically-motivated non-scientists like Elizabeth Warren might as well say, “I believe in Lysenkoism.” It’s not admirable, but at least it’s honest.

  3. Should one follow Civil Authority, or do what is Morally appropriate?
    Two Poles of Authority Figures (Civil… Moral)

    Thomas Becket
    In Medieval England the Church was all powerful. The fear of going to Hell was very real and people were told that only the Catholic Church could save your soul so that you could go to Heaven. The head of the Catholic Church was the pope based in Rome. The most important position in the church in Medieval England was the Archbishop of Canterbury and both he and the king usually worked together.
    A king of England could not remove a pope from his position but popes claimed that they could remove a king by excommunicating him – this meant that the king’s soul was condemned to Hell and people then had the right to disobey the king.
    For people in England , there was always the real problem – do you obey the king or the pope?

    In fact, this was rarely a problem as both kings and popes tended to act together as both wanted to remain powerful.

    On two occasions they fell out – one involved the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, and the other Henry VIII.
    http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/medieval-england/thomas-becket/

    • Remember all the guff about the Superiority of Marxism because it was supposedly “Scientific”?

      Leon Trotsky
      Darwin destroyed the last of my ideological prejudices. … The idea of evolution and determinism … took possession of me completely. … Darwin stood for me like a mighty doorkeeper at the entrance to the temple of the universe. … I was the more astonished when I read in one of the books of Darwin, his autobiography, I think, that he had preserved his belief in God. I absolutely declined to understand how a theory of the origin of species by way of natural and sexual selection, and a belief in God, could find room in one and the same head
      http://freethoughtalmanac.com/?p=162

      What Lenin’s Critics Got Right

      Bolshevism’s foundational text, Lenin’s What Is to Be Done? (1902) insisted that Marxism was distinguished from other social theories by its “scientific” nature. The repository of Marxist science had to be a vanguard party with “revolutionary consciousness
      snip
      The stress on science among many radical intellectuals also derived from their hostility to the regime’s religious self-justifications: if a higher authority blessed Tsarism, scientific rationality had to challenge it. Yet science could also become a cult in which “objectivity” produced eternal laws all while it came from eternal laws. This cast of mind is hardly amenable to pluralism or democratic politics. Once you have “made progress in science,” Lenin wrote, there is no point to “new views.” He repeatedly invoked Marxism as a “science”
      https://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/lenin-menshevik-critics-right-bolshevism-stalinism

      The notion of Marxism as scientific socialism has two aspects. In Engels’ account there is a double objectivity. Marxism is objective, certain, ‘scientific’ knowledge of an objective, inevitable process. Marxism is understood as scientific in the sense that it has understood correctly the laws of motion of a historical process taking place independently of men’s will. All that is left for Marxists to do is to fill in the details, to apply the scientific understanding of history.
      The attraction of the conception of Marxism as a scientifically objective theory of revolution for those who were dedicating their lives to struggle against capitalism is obvious. It provided not just a coherent conception of historical movement, but also enormous moral support: whatever reverses might be suffered, history was on our side. The enormous force of the Engelsian conception and the importance of its role in the struggles of that time should not be overlooked. At the same time, however, both aspects of the concept of scientific socialism (objective knowledge, objective process) pose enormous problems for the development of Marxism as a theory of struggle.
      If Marxism is understood as the correct, objective, scientific knowledge of history, then this begs the question, ‘who says so?’ Who holds the correct knowledge and how did they gain that knowledge? Who is the subject of the knowledge? The notion of Marxism as ‘science’ implies a distinction between those who know and those who do not know, a distinction between those who have true consciousness and those who have false consciousness.
      https://www.marxists.org/subject/marxmyths/john-holloway/article.htm

      • Too bad about Marx and his “scientific” theories. Every one of his predictions was proved wrong by history.

        You wonder why present-day Marxists abhor fossil fuels – the industrial use of fossil fuels around the turn of the last century completely upset Marx’s predictions and trashed his ideas about the inevitability of socialism.

        “Disruptive technology” is supposedly based on Moore’s Law, but Moore’s law is really just a marketing observation. Not a law. It is based on the ability of semiconductor manufacturers to reduce cost and increase speed by reducing feature sizes in a wafer. Smaller features, faster chips, more chips per wafer.

        None of that applies to the energy sector. Not even to solar panels. Smaller features don’t help the efficiency of a panel, it still has to be big enough to gather enough sun energy. Same with batteries. Maybe you could make millions of tiny MEMS windmills. They still don’t do anything when the wind isn’t blowing.

        • Well, I’ll buy that Marxism is scientific. It made predictions, and they were testable. That is a key element of a scientific theory. Indeed the predictions have been tested many times, and failed every time. So it’s scientific; it just happens to be wrong 🙂

    • The author below (Robert J Lifton) came to my attention when touted by Chris Mooney, CAGW propagandist and author of the Republican Brain (no I didn’t read Mooney’s book… eyerolls!!). Mooney I believe is an English grad.
      Robert J Lifton is a retired psychiatrist whose specialty was studying evil, Cults etc. Also he studied the biggest of them all and wrote a book on the Nazi Doctors, just because he wanted to understand them (A very worthy objective which I applaud)
      Lifton recently wrote a small book and some press articles about what he called a “climate swerve”
      He is opining that a consciousness of the dangers of climate change may be approaching a critical mass which he likens to earlier consciousness of nuclear holocaust.

      Here IMO is a prime example of why we cannot rely on reputation and belief.
      In his earlier book about the Nazi Doctors, he characterized Nazi Germany as a BIOCRACY. Apparently it hasn’t occurred to him that the fake Climate Crisis is a pretext for a worldwide SCIENTOCRACY !!

      Robert Jay Lifton

      Climate Change and the Human Mind: A Noted Psychiatrist Weighs In
      https://e360.yale.edu/features/climate-change-and-the-human-mind-a-noted-psychiatrist-weighs-in

      Opinion
      The Climate Swerve
      By Robert Jay Lifton
      https://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/24/opinion/sunday/the-climate-swerve.html

      THE NAZI DOCTORS: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide
      Dr Robert Jay Lifton

      One can speak of the Nazi state as a “biocracy.” The model here is a theocracy, a system of rule by priests of a sacred order under the claim of divine prerogative. In the case of the Nazi biocracy, the divine prerogative was that of cure through purification and revitalization of the Aryan race: “From a dead mechanism which only lays claim to existence for its own sake, there must be formed a living organism with the exclusive aim of serving a higher idea.” just as in a theocracy, the state itself is no more than a vehicle for the divine purpose, so in the Nazi biocracy was the state no more than a means to achieve “a mission of the German people on earth”; that of “assembling and preserving the most valuable stocks of basic racial elements in this [Aryan] people … [and] … raising them to a dominant position.”18 The Nazi biocracy differed from a classical theocracy in that the biological priests did not actually rule. The clear rulers were Adolf Hitler and his circle, not biological theorists and certainly not the doctors. (The difference, however, is far from absolute: even in a theocracy, highly politicized rulers may make varying claims to priestly authority.) In any case, Nazi ruling authority was maintained in the name of the higher biological principle.
      Among the biological authorities called forth to articulate and implement “scientific racism” — including physical anthropologists, geneticists, and racial theorists of every variety — doctors inevitably found a unique place. It is they who work at the border of life and death, who are most associated with the awesome, death-defying, and sometimes death-dealing aura of the primitive shaman and medicine man. As bearers of this shamanistic legacy and contemporary practitioners of mysterious healing arts, it is they who are likely to be called upon to become biological activists.
      https://phdn.org/archives/holocaust-history.org/lifton/LiftonT017.shtml

      • So, nowadays, in the US, more than half of kids detected with Down Syndrome, prenatally, are aborted. In some Asian countries, prenatal detection of femaleness leads to a kid being aborted. In such great magnitudes that the birth ratio is greatly affected.

        How have we averted this Nazi attitude?

        The worst: self-appointed experts inform us who will live and die, what we will and will not do for a living, where we will live, what we will eat, etc. That is the problem. Having society be driven by self-selected “science” experts is exactly that problem yet again.

        And don’t think that genocide and abortion is not part of their views yet again.

    • Dr. Robert J. Lifton’s Eight Criteria for Thought Reform
      http://www.cultrecover.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/lifton8criteria.pdf

      Sacred Science
      The totalist milieu maintains an aura of sacredness around its basic doctrine or ideology, holding it as an ultimate moral vision for the ordering of human existence
      Questioning or criticizing those basic assumptions is prohibited
      A reverence is demanded for the ideology/doctrine, the originators of the ideology/doctrine, the present bearers of the ideology/doctrine
      Offers considerable security to young people because it greatly simplifies the world and answers a contemporary need to combine a sacred set of dogmatic principles with a claim to a science embodying the truth about human behavior and human psychology

  4. It looks like another popular word has fallen victim to the Social Left, or Liberal if you prefer. So many good words now mean the opposite of their dictionary meaning. “Science” is now one of those.

    • With “liberal” itself being one of the prototypic thefts from the English language. It now means “totalitarian-wannabe”. Others include “progressive” – regressive, and the one that’s just too obvious “fact-check” – what’s not fact. I also like “deplorable” – normal person and “racial justice” – getting paid to keep black people suppressed.

    • What the CAGW crowd practices is not science, but more akin to holding séance after séance after séance; and the leaders of the CAGW movement are “Seantists” not scientists.

  5. Yup. So-called “climate science” is thoroughly corrupt and has infected real science with the anti-scientific belief in “consensus”.

    Two quotations from late greats with which most readers here are familiar:

    “Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts” – Richard Feynman, PhD, real scientist.

    “In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.” – Michael Crichton, MD, best-selling science fiction author.

    The scientific method doesn’t call for belief. It requires stating an hypothesis, venturing a testable prediction based thereupon and conducting an experiment or making observations of nature to confirm or show false that prediction.

    No faith is required, as self-correcting science has proved beneficial to humanity at least since its modern era began in AD 1543, with Copernicus and Vesalius. Their achievement was to wean natural philosophy off the authority of the ancients and theology, and begin to put it on the sound footing of tested objective reality rather than fanciful speculation.

    • And “Global Warming” is just an hypothesis. It is unproven and the high priests of its church are doing their best to protect it from serious examination. That’s why the “official” sensitivity hasn’t been narrowed in 40 years. It’s like the reverse of Moore’s Law. Every 18 months it becomes more “extreme” even though it never changes.

  6. I have argued fairly often about the meaningless of the phrase “believe in science”. Science is not a claim to be believed or disbelieved. Claims are believed (or not). Science is a container in which many claims are made, some more believable than others.

    • I think it would be better to say something more like “Claims are supported by observations (or not). Science is a container in which many claims are made, some better supported than others.”

      To believe, after all, is to accept without evidence. In science we want to find the facts. What are the facts, and to how many decimal places? Then we try to find a good explanation for them. Always we must make the theory fit the facts. Making the facts fit the theory is a cardinal sin.

  7. “If you don’t understand the basis for your conclusion and instead have to accept it as a “belief,” then you don’t really know it, and you certainly are in no position to lecture others about how they must believe it, too.”

    This is important to understand, and it’s a “rubber meeting the road” sort of intersection. Science is not done by consensus, but consensus drives acceptance by the general public, as it should. That saves a lot of time for everybody. Ordinary people should not have to replicate Brouwer’s Fixed Point Theorem in order to accept it. Hearing that the world’s leading mathematicians accept it is enough for me. But for me, it’s a belief. It’s my trust in the thinking of others. If someone asks me, “Do you believe that Brouwer’s theorem is correct?” If I know that all the world’s mathematicians accept it, I should not have to answer, “I don’t know. I haven’t done the proofs myself.”

    For a lot of people, their acceptance of alarmist statements is exactly like that. The reason that saying “science is not done by consensus” is not a valid argument to them is that they are not doing science. They’re merely doing acceptance. It’s a perfectly valid argument for them to say in an informal discussion that “most experts believe…” Appeal to authority is a valid argument of persuasion. It carries weight in the outside arena. But I don’t have to accept it. And to be clear, it is not a valid argument of science. What is an appropriate argument at my kitchen table may not be appropriate in a scientific discussion where arguments have to stand or fall on their own merits, especially on a controversial issue.

    If it were only an academic question that had no impact on anyone else, we’d all be content to let the scientists argue amongst themselves. But people are proposing to spend a lot of money. And at that point, it’s up to advocates to prove to the people whose money they propose to spend that the spending is justified. If they feel it’s too complicated to explain to ordinary people then they should go back to their notebooks until they understand it well enough to explain. They may be the scientists, but WE are judges on what actions and spending are justified.

    If I’m not convinced, then it’s because I find them not convincing.

    • You get to the point in your last two paragraphs. I have either never heard of, or don’t remember, Brouwer’s theorem. But nobody is telling me that, based on Brouwer’s theorem, we need to make energy unnecessarily expensive and limit its availability in an economically ruinous fashion to “save us” from some imaged catastrophe that will emerge from it.

      If they were, you’re damn right I’d be looking into that “theorem” and questioning its validity before approving of the supposedly necessary “actions,” rather than just accepting an appeal to authority. CAGW is not some academic exercise that can be ignored, since it has been co-opted as an excuse for political power grabs and money grabs of enormous size and impact. And the supposed “science” is utter crap which doesn’t withstand the slightest bit of scrutiny, which means that, given the stakes, nobody should be ready to “act” on it based on, essentially, “faith.”

      • The first an biggest prerequisite for being a Socialist is a profound ignorance of basic economics and often even basic arithmetic. Once you get that settled you’re ready to believe anything. Especially if it feels good.

  8. The goal of identity politics is to define the narrative and vilify anyone who disagrees. There is no ‘science’ involved, only capitulation.

    • I met someone today who actually read Mein Kampf and Mao’s little red book. He told me that both of them espoused the idea of creating villains, creating someone that the masses are supposed to be afraid of. He told me that that is still a very popular way to keep people under control. And I agree.

      I’ve said before that a politician’s job is to be elected or re-elected. Our wants or needs are a distant third. Both parties use fear so that you won’t ask such inconvenient questions like “Why hasn’t my life become better while you are in office?” No, you’ll be so angry and afraid of some group that you will not think, just vote them back in office. I see the Republicans do this, I see the Democrats doing it more. Be afraid of illegal aliens, of the Russians, of white supremicists, of science deniers, etc.

      I am concerned, however. I am concerned that one day I may be deprived of my right to live in peace and work all because I am considered someone evil. In the Nazi concentration camp, one group of people could get out any time simple by recanting their belief. They were the Jehovah’s Witnesses and they wore a single purple triangle. Will I be forced to wear a purple triangle unless I recant my belief that AGW is not dangerous? Will you? I see where things are heading. On college campuses, the students have the view of either you agree with me, or you are evil and must be silenced at all costs. If we are not allowed to disagree things will not end well.

  9. I was just thinking about this today. Climate cultists who pride themselves as being scientific because they believe in science and don’t question what scientists say are among the least scientific. Science requires skepticism, inquiry and an honest, rational mind.

    • Exactly. And that includes the “climate (pseudo)scientists” themselves. The whole “nobody can see my work or methods” because (fill in your excuse of choice) “intellectual property,” “you’re just going to try and find something wrong with it,” etc. attitude is borne by those who started with their conclusions per-determined and will tolerate no dissenting views, and are in no way “scientists.” Their resistance to openness regarding their work is based, at its core, on the basic understanding that their “work” won’t stand up to scrutiny.

  10. “Do you think Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang have given serious study to climate science? No, they believe in global warming and its preferred political solutions because they have been told that a consensus of scientists believes it (and because this belief confirms their own political biases).”

    The parenthetical statement is actually the more plausible root cause of the belief. They want to believe it because it gives them the messianic sense of superiority that seems to be universal among The Left. And of course, believing it gives them a sense of righteousness in wielding their power against the infidels and smaller souls (“Deplorables”) who don’t believe it.

    There is so much personal incentive for them to believe it, it would take great courage, effort and self-awareness (none of which are in evidence) for them to question it. And without a question there is no science.

      • That is true everything is able to be questioned in science but it is also a fact any new theory must cover EVERYTHING the old theory covered .. that means no holes no gaps no choosing only certain observations it must cover everything otherwise it is just a brainfart.

        • Unless of course you invent DARK stuff, or maybe even BLACK, to explain actual observation results. Sarc/ off

        • Sort of. For example, general relativity gave the same results as Newtonian mechanics for slow-moving masses in low-gravity fields, which would support your point.

          However, quantum mechanics was a completely novel concept that to this day cannot be reconciled with general relativity.

  11. It is only science if it is falsifiable. Climate Change/catastrophic global warming is not falsifiable. Therefore….

    • That may be true, but the ECS presumed by the IPCC and the consensus as ‘settled science’ and required to support CAGW can be falsified. The problem is that falsification is not recognized by consensus climate science as a valid argument against.

      The minimum ECS is 0.4C per W/m^2 of solar forcing corresponding to incremental surface emissions of about 2.2 W/m^2 per W/m^2. In the steady state, the surface of an ideal black body emits a temperature independent 1 W/m^2 per W/m^2 of forcing. The Earth is not an ideal BB and it’s surface will emit more. The maximum possible surface emissions per W/m^2 of forcing is 2 W/m^2 which is less than the IPCC’s lower limit. The Earth currently operates at about 1.62 W/m^2 of surface emissions per W/m^2 of net solar forcing, the reciprocal of which, 0.62, is the equivalent emissivity of the Earth as a gray body (a non ideal black body) whose temperature is that of the surface and whose emissions are that of the planet.

      The maximum emissions are limited to 2 W/m^2 per W/m^2 of forcing because the source replenishing any emissions in excess of 1 W/m^2 are surface emissions that were absorbed by the atmosphere and returned to the surface at a later time. The atmosphere splits this energy nearly evenly between being emitted into space and being returned to the surface. The upper limit can be quantified as 1 W/m^2 of forcing arrives from the Sun, 2 W/m^2 are emitted by the surface all of which is absorbed by the atmosphere. Half of this is emitted into space to offset the forcing and the remaining half is added to the solar forcing to offset the 2 W/m^2 of emissions. There’s just no possible way to get more than 2 W/m^2 of surface emissions per W/m^2 of forcing, much less the 4.4 W/m^2 of emissions per W/m^2 of forcing required by the nominal ECS, thus the entire range of the IPCC’s ECS and its consequences are falsified.

      One claim is that the atmosphere doesn’t emit half of what it absorbs into space, but in fact it must, based on geometric concerns alone. More importantly, the energy balance can not balance otherwise. Ironically, since Trenberth underestimates the size of the transparent window, he requires even more than half of the surface emissions absorbed by the atmosphere to be emitted into space!

      Another claim is that the incremental sensitivity is much larger than the average sensitivity. Of course, this requires that the planet must be able to tell the next Joule of solar input from all the others so that it can be ‘amplified’ by a much larger factor. Any alarmists want to give this one a shot?

  12. It is only science if it is falsifiable. Climate Change/catastrophic global warming is not falsifiable. Therefore….

  13. Log ago, scientific consensus was that earth is flat. Then it became the center of the universe. Then, ok, astrophysics took over the process.

    And honestly confessed that things don’t work out without 70% of the universe being “dark energy” on which most is unknown and nothing known.

    All we know is that we are part of this universe of which 70% is unknown.

    Compare this process with the evolution of climate “science”. Uneasy feelings ensue.

    Despite that many unknowns, climate government approved models would tell you how much my engine’s exhaust from today will warm (or cool !) your toilet bowl tomorrow.

    Am I being sarcastic ? Not as much as those climate obsessed sad clowns.

    • Flight Level
      March 27, 2019 at 3:06 pm

      Log ago, scientific consensus was that earth is flat. Then it became the center of the universe. Then, ok, astrophysics took over the process.

      Of all the widespread false beliefs in history, a flat earth was NEVER one of them. The Greeks 2200 years ago knew that, when Eratosthenes measured the circumference of the Earth without leaving town. Columbus knew it in 1492, he was searching for a shortcut to Asia by sailing west around the world rather than taking the known, long route. He was wrong about the shortcut, but he knew he wasn’t sailing on a flat Earth.

      • Hey, tanks, that gets interesting !

        Where our generation was at school, they taught us that Magellan had to contradict the church by saying something like :
        “The church says the earth is flat; but I have seen its shadow on the moon, and I have more confidence even in a shadow, than in the church.”

        This said, church is also known for changing it’s own historical pretentions. Like on inquisition, heresy, burning witches and if women have a soul or not.

        Effectively, now vested interest information sources sustain that the flat earth was a myth invented to discredit the church.

  14. A very close friend of mine has “believed” in the “science” of global warming since they first saw Al Gore’s Award winning power point presentation entitled An Inconvenient Truth. Upon returning home from the filmstrip, they immediately sent out an email blast to everyone on their contact list … breathlessly exclaiming how we are ALL (meaning obese Americans) killing the planet and simply have to all break our fossil fuel habit. Cold turkey. Everyone they knew simply had to become carbon neutral. All because they saw a massively discredited propaganda movie masquerading as … “science”. As told by C- science student Al doper Gore. Crazed sex poodle, Al Gore. Their breathless advocacy had EVERYTHING to do with their political beliefs … and nothing whatsoever to do with “science” … or even the critical reading of other people’s “science”. Nope. They swallowed it all as readily as they swallowed the “scientific fact” that high cholesterol is killing more people. Or that salt causes high blood pressure. Or that stress causes ulcers. Or that coffee causes cancer. Or that coffee prevents cancer. These are the same people who cannot distinguish between “science” … and statistical correlation. Pathetically small samples of statistical correlation with huge ADVOCACY propelling them forward. In other words … “belief” that the statistics and computer models are “scientific truth”.

  15. I believe in science as a discipline:
    “Science – the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.”

    I also believe in Philosophy:
    “Philosophy – a theory or attitude held by a person or organization that acts as a guiding principle for behavior.”

    “Climate Science” is not a science at all, it is a philosophy – and it is a belief system whose members behave as if it were a religion. That is why you cannot in earnest have a logical debate with a believer – their belief supersedes logic.

  16. The word “Belief” has kept he major religious faiths going for thousand of years, so it has a lot going for it.

    Perhaps that is a major part of the problem. If we say do not us the word “Belief” when talking about science, does that conflict in some peoples minds with their “Belief” in a their God ?

    MJE VK5ELL

  17. The problem at the core of the “I believe in science” trope and its propounders, is that there is a coterie of people trained in science who have achieved prominent positions, have committed themselves to falsehood, and who consciously grant their authoritative standing to those who parrot their fraudulent claims.

    Elizabeth Warren doesn’t say, ‘I believe in science’ from an authoritative vacuum. She can point to Michael Mann, and Kevin Trenberth, and Ben Santer, and all the rest who hold positions of institutional honor and who push their ‘it-looks-like-science-but-isn’t’ falsehoods as vociferously as they can do.

    Even worse, she can point to the authoritative agreement of the National Academy, of the American Physical Society, of the American Institute of Physics, of the American Chemical Society, and of all the rest, which have freely rolled over in support of the false narrative of AGW alarm.

    Elizabeth Warren is a cynical political opportunist, already caught in sundry lies. But her ‘I believe in science’ is only symptomatic. It’s symptomatic of the worst betrayal of science ever, by scientists themselves done freely and while under no coercion.

    • “But her ‘I believe in science’ is only symptomatic. It’s symptomatic of the worst betrayal of science ever, by scientists themselves done freely and while under no coercion.”

      Power corrupts.

  18. I like science, I like “The Key to Science” by Richard Feynman.
    But I “believe” there are “Global Warming Kooks” and I have used that term for at least 10 years…they just don’t seem to look at the actual data. They just don’t seem to know “The Key to Science” as defined by Richard Feynman.

  19. In 1633, the Inquisition of the Roman Catholic Church forced Galileo Galilei, one of the founders of modern science, to recant his theory that the Earth moves around the Sun.

    Science has now taken over the role that the Catholic Church used to have.

    Science now threatens to send Deniers to jail, if they don’t recant global warming heresy.

    Things have changed a lot, but are still the same !!!

    • I view it a little differently. I don’t think that “science has now taken over the role that the Catholic Church used to have,” I think that the inquisitors have bastardized science in the same way that the Spanish Inquisition bastardized Christianity and…

      • David, your comment surprised me, because

        “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!”

        Our chief weapon is surprise…surprise and fear…fear and surprise….

        Our two weapons are fear and surprise…and ruthless efficiency….

        Our *three* weapons are fear, and surprise, and ruthless efficiency…and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope….

        Our *four*…no… *Amongst* our weapons…. Amongst our weaponry…are such elements as fear, surprise….

      • I think that the inquisitors have bastardized science in the same way that the Spanish Inquisition bastardized Christianity and…

        Excellent analysis!

  20. The practice of science itself is based on belief.
    As has been stated on this site multiple times, progress in science can only be made when scientific “facts” are open to discussion and even invalidation. When people believe that their opinions merit making a certain “fact” incontrovertible, they have ceased to believe that the scientific method is a more valuable method to find truth than their own bias; a popular belief throughout most of the recorded history I’m familiar with.

  21. “Belief in Science” – It’s a Business Model

    Saying “I Believe in Science” is also the shibboleth of identity politics of Stephan Lewandowski, Naomi Oreskes, John Cook. It is the foundation of their propaganda psychological operation they all loosely participate in, along with many others in the so-called Climate Communications industry. What would they do without it? And it very much is an intellectual laziness, because consensus demands that critical thought and acknowledgement of uncertainty be discarded. People like them have to Hustle something.

    So they’ve decided to hustle the Climate Consensus story and use terms like “I believe in Science” as tribal bona fides for inclusion with popular other Leftist ideas like anything that can modify “Justice”.
    Social justice, climate justice, racial justice, it’s way for everyone in the tribe of dishonety to get something, to participate.
    Even TV media people like Bill Nye, who is definitely not a scientist, also want to be associated with that tribalism as part of their personal business model, so they also participate in The March for Science.

    And the March for Science was really just an outgrowth of the #Resistance movement that sprung up after Donald Trump’s election. It was very much driven by deep pocketed special interest NGOs playing to the fears of triggered Leftists. Even non-scientists could get in on the science tribalism via the March for Science and find comfort from their TDS and receiving a huge group therapy session of similarly afflicted Leftists.

  22. ” Van Zandt describes himself as someone with “more than 20 years as an arm chair researcher on media bias and its role in political influence.”

    Twenty years? Is that all? I hate to break this to you but that’s not a lot of experience. You don’t even include the days before Fox News came on the scene in 1996. You know, the time when the Leftwing News Media had a monopoly on reporting the news of the day. That was a lot of fun listening to all that propaganda.

    The reporting back then wasn’t much different than today. Republicans were still characterized as little Hitlers and racist and every other evil thing. The only difference was there were only three channels putting out the political BS, and no Repubicans fought back, so there wasn’t much public controvery over the distortions of the truth by the Media. Limbaugh was a lone voice in the Wilderness.

    Then Fox News came along in 1996, and started putting things right by telling the other side of the Leftwing story. What a relief! Something I had been wishing for all my adult life. And now we have Trump fighting back effectively which is another dream I have had all my adult life. I’m on a roll! Actually, it’s truth and justice that are on a roll.

    If a media bias researcher is biased, is he able to perform his job properly? I don’t think so.

    • Close. Rush Limbaugh got on AM radio. 1988. I am not a fan, but I have to recognize how revolutionary he was to conservative media, conservatism, and American politics, altogether. Almost single-handedly, with half his brain tied behind his back.

      • what do you mean “close”? Close implies something Tom said was wrong or inaccurate but nothing you said contradicts any of what Tom said (he pointed out that prior to Fox coming along in 1996, Rush was a “lone voice” – all you did is put a date on when Rush’s lone voice appeared on the scene, a date which was before Fox in 1996 thus confirming what Tom said.)

        • Yeah, and then Sean Hannity’s radio show came along and we had two staunch conservatives blasting away on the radio!

          I remember when Bill Clinton was trying to blame Limbaugh for the Oklahoma City terrorist bombing in 1995. That’s how much Rush got under his skin even from the radio!

  23. Politicized science is nothing more than a secular religion with scientists as priests. Its not just climate science , you see it with those pharma backed scientists proclaiming the safety of vaccines when the science refuses to conduct the proper safety studies using true placebos. And Big Telecom telling us the EMF smog around us is safe despite numerous studies showing the adverse biological effects while their inadequate safety standards are limited to consideration of thermal effects. Wait until 5G -hoo boy. They will have to invent a new virus to explain the health effects and no doubt come up with a new vaccine to profit form while blaming climate change and increasing the carbon tax to fight the disease and climate change.

    Smedley Butler said war is a racket. This wars on you and paid for by you.

  24. The Gateway Pundit has an article:

    Editors at Far Left Wikipedia Paid to Protect Political, Tech and Media Figures

    It is impossible to make changes on these Wiki pages once the far left sets out to destroy a person on organization’s reputation. This is due to the fact that Wikipedia is consumed by dishonest liberal editors.”

    Not that Doctor Curry’s experiences are directly related, but it is still indicative of leftist progressive intents and actions.

  25. Four logical domains: science, philosophy, faith, and fantasy. Perhaps a fifth: twilight a.k.a. “penumbra”, where secular causes and emotions supersede and conflate the other logical domains. Science is a near-domain philosophy and practice, where observation, replication, and deduction are practicable.

  26. Excellent article! Yesterday I met a Greenpeace rep trying to sell “global warming due to CO2 emissions” to subway travellers like me. I told him this is nonsense. His reaction: I believe in science. My first question: What is the occurance of CO2 in the air? I helped him by adding: CO2 is a trace gas. His answer: I don’t know but I think 5%. I told him the correct number: 0.04%. Then I told him to be happy that it goes up and not down, because below 0.02% would mean the end of humans and most animals. Greenpeace believes in science but does not understand it.

  27. Belief is important. There are things that it is hard to confirm by direct observation and experience.

    I believe in electrons. I have never seen an electron. I believe I can explain, predict, and control the behavior of electrons. That’s all that matters to me.

    • CommieBob
      You can confirm electrons by direct observation. Stick you finger in a plug. If an electrician turns up somewhere to do an electrical job it’s not belief that allows him/her to continue but training, qualification and identification.
      However, self belief and belief in others can work.

      • No. Electrons are a good explanation for what happens. On the other hand, can you explain why monophasic photons are not a better explanation?

    • Belief is important

      There’s nothing wrong with belief, per se. But Belief is not science and it’s not required for science.

      sci·ence. [ˈsīəns]
      NOUN
      the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.

      Notice what is *not* in that definition: Belief.

      There are things that it is hard to confirm by direct observation and experience

      Indeed, but belief isn’t required to understand them. Indeed, belief can inhibit understand as once one forms a belief when new facts contradict that belief human nature tends to try to alter the facts to fit the belief rather than alter the belief to fit the facts.

      I believe in electrons

      Good for you, but your belief (or someone else’s lack of belief) in electrons (or anything else) has nothing to do with science.

      I have never seen an electron. I believe I can explain, predict, and control the behavior of electrons.

      In science there is no belief, there is only attempts to explain & predict (though formation of hypothesis and theories). Attempts to control come from applications of said hypothesis and theories. Belief does not enter into it. period.

  28. “When you believe in things you don’t understand
    Then you suffer…”

    – remarkably profound words from Stevie Wonder

  29. Is Climate Change™ as that term is commonly understood a pseudoscience?
    Wikipedia may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I found it helpful with a list of indicators of the possible presence of pseudoscience (at least for now):
    # Use of vague, exaggerated or untestable claims ✓
    # Over-reliance on confirmation rather than refutation ✓
    # Lack of openness to testing by other experts ✓
    # Absence of progress ✓
    # Personalization of issues ✓
    # Use of misleading language ✓
    Those indicators may not be necessary and sufficient.

    • “Use of vague, exaggerated or untestable claims”

      That’s current day climate science in a nutshell.

  30. Often in such discussions, the blanket use of the single generalised word “science” to describe a huge ramshackle assemblage comprising a multiplicity of subjects and fields, ranging from: the ‘hard’ sciences to the ‘soft’ sciences (some of which are so soft it could be argued they are not sciences at all), and from the ‘pure research’ sciences to the applied sciences and medicine and engineering. Likewise the single term ‘scientist’ covers a huge range of talents and tasks ranging from the rare great geniuses down to the armies of school science teachers, lab technicians, field workers etc.

  31. Thank you!

    I always force people to rephrase, “What you do not believe in Climate Change?”, if they want to have a serious conversation with me on the subject. I thoroughly confuse them by answering, “No, but for the reason you think; my apologies not for the reasons you BELIEVE.”

    I remind them that an endeavor in to a study, particular of the scientific nature of atmospheric thermodynamics, requires no belief.

    I ask them do they believe in the 2+2 that creates the 4? The scary part is that most people will say “yes”.

    I then ask them to write it as a mathematical statement. The ask them, “Does that mathematical statement require any sort of belief?”. Very few will do this.

    I have even go so far as asking them: Which of these statements is an immutable fact: “2+2=4?” and “On planet Earth, the Sun will always rise in the East.”

    Of course it is no accident as to why they are using the word BELIEVE. It is an emotional word. It is NOT a semantic convenience or parlance. It is very much to trap uninformed and ill-informed people into the “Wizard’s 1st Rule”

    BELIEVE ~ BELIEF ~ FAITH only leads to DOGMA.

  32. Sorry, I don’t names and other facts for this story. There were names e.t.c. when I read it, but that was some time ago.

    An eminent scientist had finished his latest research paper presentation at a conference and it came to question time – from the floor came, “In your opinion”…….. whereupon the scientist cut in: “I don’t have an opinion”.

    It left me with a lasting impression. It sums up pure science perfectly IMO.

    M

  33. Belief is a closed system of thoughts. One cannot verify neither its inputs nor its outputs nor how an input drives an output. Some of such closed system examples are religion, politics, arts, economics, and all observational “sciences”, such as “social sciences”.

    Science, on the other hand, is an open system of thoughts. One should and could verify its inputs or its outputs or how an output is related to an input.

  34. I’ve been thinking about this since it was posted. Maybe the answer is not as obvious as it seems.

    Of course scientific conclusions don’t require belief. They require testing, and if many tests have been made and the conclusions are consistent with the results, you can assign them a relatively high degree of confidence. Knowing that at any time a single contrary test result may demand a refinement of a well-established conclusion.

    But almost no one is familiar enough with all of science that they can confidently assert that they know it all. The days when you could read Aristotle, Plato and a few others and call yourself educated are long gone. Everyone has to rely on summaries and texts written by “experts”.

    So you could say, instead of “I believe in Science”, “I believe in what so-and-so said about science”. Some don’t even read papers and texts, relying instead on news reports about summaries of scientific reports. Others don’t read at all and rely on sound bites from the media. The perfect recipe for pseudoscience brain salad.

    For those too ignorant or innumerate to even look at any real science, the statement “I believe in Science” is just as sensible as “I believe in Socialism” or “I believe in Astrology”. They confidently claim that they don’t believe in anything stupid, like religion or patriotism, but they do proudly believe in a broad array of pseudoscientific hoaxes.

  35. “The motto of the Royal Society is nullius in verba—”on no one’s word””

    Has someone here gone completely off the rails? Newton’s club as the authority? What utter hogwash.

    That pitifull little tribe tried to stop the industrial revolution, wouldn’t give Watt an interview, grabbed the patent for all fire machines from Papin, claimed Newton invented the calculus, on no evidence whatsoever.

    As Lord Maynard Keynes wrote in Newton’s biography – he was the last alchemist, not a scientist at all.

    Interesting that today’s CO2’ers sound rather like Newton and his “green” essences.

  36. The word ‘science’ is actually quite fuzzy in my opinion.

    Does it mean ‘the current compendium of data, analysis and conclusions drawn through applying the scientific method’?

    Does it mean ‘the funding streams, organisation and people associated with activities applying the scientific method in defined areas of enquiry’?

    The term ‘scientific method’ is a more precise term. It is possible to have a belief in its practical utility, when applied professionally, honestly and diligently by suitably trained individuals and teams.

    The scientific method is quite clear:

    1. A scientific hypothesis to explain specific phenomena cannot be proven to be true, it can however resist attempts through experimental measurements to demonstrate its falsehood.
    2. Measurements, like judicial evidence, are regarded as sound only when independent confirmation of the data and analysis has been delivered by other competent members of the relevant community.
    3. Hypotheses strengthen when predictions made through applying the hypothesis are confirmed through experiment.

    One of the most important things that those wishing to engage with scientists, the scientific method etc is understanding what questions particular branches of science cannot answer. As far as am aware, science cannot yet falsify the hypothesis that ‘God does not exist’. It is perhaps the obvious reason why religions, sects, and communities exist which choose to have faith in certain unverifiable postulates.

    Each generation of scientific discovery usually leads to new arenas being opened up where science can now answer specific questions. DNA sequencing technology, PCR amplification technology and modern computing technologies have made mass genetic data analysis feasible. Children born in 2050 will likely have their genome sequenced after birth and their medical care will often be accompanied by them supplying their biological ‘passport’, allowing customisation of therapies aligned to genotypic content.

    In climate science, sensor technologies, wireless technologies, satellite technologies and the like are ushering in a modern Climate Big Data era, allowing step change developments in understanding how climate events acros the world may be interlinked and deterministically related. Given the huge complexities of the climate system, the ability to distinguish signals from noise is undoubtedly one of the ongoing challenges.

    One of the biggest challenge science often faces is how to reverse out of a blind alley without destroying careers. I have seen folks make honest mistakes, over-interpret prematurely and then be treated treated like quasi-criminals instead of folks saying ‘we got it wrong, let us start again and try to get it right’.

    Scientists are an imperfect community, like every community on earth. There are huge egos to be found, like everywhere on earth. There are those prioritising money making and many quasi-marxists who believe the very concept of making money from science is evil.

    The biggest challenge I see in the world as a whole believing in the scientifc endeavour is the transition from seeing scientists through adoring uncritical eyes of emotional children to seeing them as imperfect adults with partcular skills and experience, without turning them into figures of hate like politicians, estate agents, Wall Street traders and folks like Enron became.

    Climate Science’s follies have the potential to do that to science.

    The next 11 years will see a resolution of that tension, one way or the other.

  37. “You don’t say, “I believe in thermodynamics.” You understand its laws and the evidence for them, or you don’t.”

    I believe in thermodynamics. I understand its laws and the evidence. But what I am supposed to say instead?

    ““I understand the science on this issue” would be better.”

    Not really. “I believe I understand the science on this issue” would be better for some people.
    But most of us do not fully understand some part of science. The big bang and universe expansion at one end and quantum mechanics at the other end, and a lot of what is in between.

    With climate science I would say that the number of people who understand it fully is approaching zero.

    You could believe in Newtonian Mechanics and even say you understood it, but after relativity, that didn’t mean you were right. Oh, and get back to me when you decide on String Theory.

    I believe in the process of science. I believe in the scientific method and in its evolution.
    But the findings of science, even the settled science, even the facts, all that is provisional and conditional.
    Some of it may be useful, some of it may be wrong. Belief in it depends on who is saying it; not on their authority, but on their trustworthiness.

    There is a belief system in science: that everything is the result of the laws of nature (to be determined) and not of supernatural powers.

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