You Might Be a Scientist…

Guest [fill in the blank] by David Middleton

Am I really a scientist?

Whether in a lab, an office or on a stage, we are no strangers to wrestling with self-identity

Citizen science projects are a high-impact way to engage people with real, scientific research. Anecdotally, untrained participants are not only lucky enough to learn about and contribute to science, but also experience increased feelings of confidence and empowerment, as well as feelings that science is ‘for them’.

It’s frustrating that despite citizen scientists making leaps and bounds in their scientific self-confidence, this is still one of the factors that new researchers at the start of their formal scientific journeys struggle with most. This particularly goes for students and researchers from minority and non-traditional backgrounds, who sometimes feel like they don’t fit into the monolithic lab environment. Many report either deliberate or unintentional exclusion leading them to experience the converse of the citizen scientists: decreased sense of belonging, and intrusive thoughts of not truly being a scientist, regardless of ability and expertise.
Looking wider and more objectively than this impostor syndrome, the idea of who is and isn’t a scientist is a constant source of argument.

Positions range from the hyper-inclusive ‘all children are naturally scientists’, to ‘the word scientist (or something nominally similar) must be in your job title to be considered one’. Some students claim that they can’t be scientists yet – they have to get a job first – even if their work bears many similarities to an employed postdoc or industry researcher. My friends who have left bench science for editorial or science communication positions are sometimes the most conflicted. After dedicating years to meticulous training in research, they have left the lab, while still using many of their honed research skills every day. I can’t offer any advice beyond that if they want to be called a scientist, they’ve certainly earned it. How people perceive themselves has powerful effects on confidence and personality, and using one neat, descriptive word greatly simplifies the thinking.


I certainly identify as a scientist, and that’s partly because I also identify as a nerd. But I don’t end up feeling pigeonholed. I work in a very diverse role – some days I now wonder whether I’m actually an engineer, or a seriously untrained computer scientist.


Ultimately, the debate over who can call themselves a scientist pops up every couple of years, and with no clear-cut definition of who is and isn’t, it’s essentially moot and irrelevant. The results we accomplish are more important. What matters is when we identify ourselves as scientists in public, where listeners may not know any scientists. We end up representing scientists as a whole, whether we would like to or not.

Since a large proportion of people expect scientists to always be old, white men with wild hair, perhaps more of us who don’t fit that profile should proudly identify as scientists wherever we can!

Chemistry World

If you have to ask, the answer is: No.

You might be a scientist…

  • If you have a college level degree in a science.
  • If you are professionally employed as a scientist.

While it’s certainly possible that people with no scientific education or professional experience are capable of achieving Einstein-ian scientific prowess, are they scientists? Let’s ask the National Science Board:

Chapter 3. Science and Engineering Labor Force

Definition of the S&E Workforce

Because there is no standard definition of S&E workers, this section presents multiple categorizations for measuring the size of the S&E workforce.[i] In general, this section defines the S&E workforce to include people who either work in S&E occupations or hold S&E degrees. However, the application of S&E knowledge and skills is not limited to jobs classified as S&E; the number of workers reporting that their jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree level of knowledge in one or more S&E fields exceeds the number of jobs in the economy with a formal S&E label. Therefore, this section also presents data on the use of S&E technical expertise on the job to provide an estimate of the S&E workforce. The estimated number of scientists and engineers varies based on the criteria applied to define the S&E workforce.

U.S. federal occupation data classify workers by the activities or tasks they primarily perform in their jobs. The NSF and Census Bureau occupational data in this chapter come from federal statistical surveys in which individuals or household members provide information about job titles and work activities. This information is used to classify jobs into standard occupational categories based on the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system.[ii] In contrast, the BLS-administered OES survey relies on employers to classify their workers using SOC definitions. Differences between employer- and individual-provided information can affect the content of occupational data.

NSF has developed a widely used set of SOC categories that it calls S&E occupations. Very broadly, these occupations include life scientists, computer and mathematical scientists, physical scientists, social scientists, and engineers. NSF also includes postsecondary teachers of these fields in S&E occupations. A second category of occupations, S&E-related occupations, includes health-related occupations, S&E managers, S&E technicians and technologists, architects, actuaries, S&E precollege teachers, and postsecondary teachers in S&E-related fields. The S&E occupations are generally assumed to require at least a bachelor’s degree level of education in an S&E field. The vast majority of S&E-related occupations also require S&E knowledge or training, but an S&E bachelor’s degree may not be a required credential for employment in some of these occupations. Examples include health technicians and computer network managers. Other occupations, although classified as non-S&E occupations, may include individuals who use S&E technical expertise in their work. Examples include technical writers who edit scientific publications and salespeople who sell specialized research equipment to chemists and biologists. The NSF occupational classification of S&E, S&E-related, and non-S&E occupations appears in Table 3-2 along with the NSF educational classification of S&E, S&E-related, and non-S&E degree fields.

National Science Board

Clear as mud! Let’s look at Table 3-2…

S&T = science and technology; STEM = science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Was that better?

“It’s worse. It’s so much worse. “

It may be easier just to identify who isn’t a scientist. I’m fairly certain that none of these people are scientists:

Photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash (Science Riot)

They’d probably be shocked to learn that this is a science:

Since its founding in 1917, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists has been a pillar of the worldwide scientific community. The original purpose of AAPG, to foster scientific research, to advance the science of geology, to promote technology, and to inspire high professional conduct, still guides the Association today.


The purposes of this Association are to:

*advance the science of geology, especially as it relates to petroleum, natural gas, other subsurface fluids, and mineral resources; 

*to promote the technology of exploring for, finding, and producing these materials in an economically and environmentally sound manner; 

*to foster the spirit of scientific research throughout its membership; 
to disseminate information relating to the geology and the associated technology of petroleum, natural gas, other subsurface fluids, and mineral resources; 

*to inspire and maintain a high standard of professional conduct on the part of its members; 

*to provide the public with means to recognize adequately trained and professionally responsible geologists; and 

*to advance the professional well-being of its members. 

American Association of Petroleum Geologists

AAPG must have failed on this one: “to provide the public with means to recognize adequately trained and professionally responsible geologists.” My experience is that “the public” generally lacks the means to differentiate Bill Nye from a scientist, much less “recognize adequately trained and professionally responsible geologists”.

“Are you a scientist?”

It should be a simple question to answer but scientists are genuinely uncomfortable taking credit for the title. Their response is usually some form of “I’m not a real scientist…” followed by an unnecessarily precise job description that serves to disqualify their niche of expertise. This is understood as professional humility amongst peers but sounds oddly evasive and confusing to non-scientists. Nowhere else do people so vehemently deny the categorical hierarchy of their pursuits.

“What do you do?”

Science Riot

I don’t have any discomfort about answering these questions:

“Are you a scientist?” Yes.

“What do you do?” I’m a geologist.

Although, this is often followed up by:

“What’s a geologist?” It’s actually very difficult to explain what a geologist is when the person asking the question doesn’t know what geology is. Back when my business card said “geophysicist,” I would usually answer, “geologist,” because explaining what a geophysicist does is even more difficult.

I’d bet a good bottle of wine that most of the science marchers in the photo above don’t know that petroleum geology is a science. They probably learned this on TV.

The result of real science

The result of fake science

Bill Nye leads demonstrators on a march to the U.S. Capitol during the March for Science in Washington, U.S., April 22, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein (Washington Post)


Taso, Leon & Weller, Tom. (1986). “Science Made Stupid: How to Discomprehend the World around Us”. Leonardo. 19. 263. 10.2307/1578252.

Science Made Stupid: How to Discomprehend the World Around Us is a 1985 book written and illustrated by Tom Weller. The winner of the 1986 Hugo Award for Best Non-Fiction Book, it is a parody of a junior high or high school-level science textbook. Though now out of print, high-resolution scans are available online, as well as an abridged transcription, both of which have been endorsed by Weller [1]. Highlights of the book include a satirical account of the creationism vs. evolution debate and Weller’s drawings of fictional prehistoric animals (e.g., the duck-billed mastodon.)


Thomas Dolby – She Blinded Me With Science from Mad Hatter on Vimeo.

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Mark Broderick
August 21, 2019 4:26 am

Excellent post David…as usual !

August 21, 2019 4:40 am

Simples. If you believe in CAGW, you’re a scientist. If you don’t, you’re not. I’m a chemist but I don’t believe in CAGW so I’m not a scientist.

Reply to  Dunnooo
August 21, 2019 6:43 am

On the reverse Mosher has a degree in English Lit but calls himself a Scientist.

Reply to  LdB
August 21, 2019 12:39 pm

That there is funny.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Scissor
August 21, 2019 5:51 pm

I don’t care who you are!

Steven Mosher
Reply to  LdB
August 21, 2019 10:57 pm

err. No. my employers have hired me and given me the title of scientist.

With one I objected and the response was “A scientist is someone who questions their own beliefs”

Scientist is not a natural kind.

In other words, the term “scientist” is a social construct. According to my boss Anthony watts
is a scientist ( I agree) and willis is a scientist.

The simplest way to look at it is a scientist is someone who does science.

According to dave

“If you have a college level degree in a science.
If you are professionally employed as a scientist.”

Well there are all sorts of issues with that. Let’s take Willis. Pretty sure he doesnt have a degree in science, but I am also sure he has the equivalent life experience to qualify him.

A formal education would rule out
Michael Faraday
Gregor Mendel
Thomas Edison–homeschooled
Robert Evans– minister

So formal degrees? hmm. good to have, given the state of education, however, it seems a bit weird to put such trust in the authority of institutions rucn by liberals.

Me? While my formal degrees are in philosophy and literature, I started as a math physics major. The coursework was enough to get me hired as a operations research analyst at a top company.
How does that happen, well you go in you interview, they test you. Later, you get training to fill
in the gaps in your knowledge. later you have BAs, Masters, and Phds working for you. And then you publish of course. scientific reports to the department of defense.

So, when I first joined the WUWT community I liked the fact that it was citizen scientists. Anthony did science, nobody but Alarmists questioned his education. I liked the work that Willis did, never bothered to ask what his degree was, because YOU DONT CHECK DEGREES TO CHECK ON THE SCIENCE A GUY DOES.. you check the science.

perhaps feynman said it best. “If you dont have a formal degree from bumfuck U, then your science is wrong.” oh wait, never said that.

How about the hiring criteria. gets paid as a scientist? hmm, well I fit that one. But if somebody hired me as a scientist but I never did actual science, then I dont think the hiring criteria works.

in short. I dont think the term scientist has any bearing on whether or not a person has authority.
First because it is not objective, not a natural kind. If the universities of the world start calling
History a science, then what do we conclude? If they start saying GEOLOGY is not a science, but is rather a branch of history, what do we do?. What do we do when they invent a thing called
“data science” or “computer science”. Live by that sword die by that sword.
And what do you do if companies stop lebelling people scientist? does that somehow change the people who do actual science for them?

The question of who is and who is not a scientist is a nice little diversion. Its a diversion from the actual work people do.

read a post by Willis? Does he investigate the phsyical world? Does he share his data?
Does he explain and document his methods? Does he attempt to explain past data or predict future data? Does his work show that he considered how he might be wrong? Did he clearly state what he could know and what he could not know?

yup, yup, yup,yup, yup… etc

yup, he appears to be doing science. Who does science? scientists.

is he

1. A formally educated scientist? nope
2. A paid scientist? nope
3. A citizen scientist? Yup

Why is he a scientist? well duh he does science.
same with anthony.

i have a kid in my department he plays piano.

formally educated? nope, self taught
paid pianist? Nope entertains for free.

is he a pianist? well duh, does he play the piano?

so me? depends on the day. Somedays I do sales. Salesman. Somedays i do marketing. Marketeer.
Somedays I do engineering: Engineer. Somedays I write science papers. Writer.

Steven Mosher
Reply to  David Middleton
August 23, 2019 3:02 am


you didnt address a single one of my points, and here I thought you were a scientist.

the proof is in the pudding. Do you actively QUESTION and doubt your own beliefs.

Belief 1. A formal degree is required? Well is it? Can you think of counter examples?
Did you list them? did you explain them? Nope nope nope. you
FAILED at being a scientist about the question ‘what is a scientist”
Here is what a scientist would do. He would not appeal to his own
personal history. Nobody can actually check your degree or check that you
actually deserved it and didnt pay someone off. What we could check is
Belief 2. Hired to work as a scientist. Did you question this belief? think about it
What if a company decides to hire an undegreed person as a scientist
Say a brilliant kid who they hire as a scientist before he graduates?
What if they hire him as a scientist and he DOES NO WORK!
FFS, I worked with a guy who had a PHd in EE. he was hired as
an engineer. His title. Did he actually do any engineering? nope.

The simple answer is dont worry about the degree, dont worry about the job title.
CHECK THE WORK. it is all that matters.

So yes, Willis is a scientist, and so is Anthony. I have no issue with them calling themselves scientists. I would call them scientists. Me? I write papers and do analysis.
that’s the word I would use.

Ben of Houston
Reply to  Steven Mosher
August 22, 2019 12:06 pm

I have to agree with Steve on this point. A lot of people without “science” degrees are employed as researchers and can legitimately consider themselves scientists.

Engineer is even more contentious.
While legally, “Engineer” refers to those with PE Licenses, 80+% of people with the title of “engineer” do not have a license. Most of them have no need for the license.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
August 22, 2019 1:13 pm

Thanks again, Steven.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
August 24, 2019 1:16 pm

A formal education would rule out
Michael Faraday
Gregor Mendel
Thomas Edison–homeschooled
Robert Evans– minister

These men all became famous for their scientific/technical accomplishments, duly recognized by formally educated scientists. Mosher’s self-serving rationale about amateurs “doing science” wholly overlooks the plain fact that virtually none of them have actually produced any truly valuable insights or results. Just because they’re on TV, let’s not confuse little leaguers with all-star pros.

Bill Powers
Reply to  Dunnooo
August 21, 2019 11:22 am

On the other hand if you have an education in Political Science and/or Comparative Religion you can identify Climate Science for what it truly is: Not a Science.

CAGW is a Sociopolitical Religion with a few scientists sitting on the Church of Elders. It is not unusual to see scientists walk away from the Church out of disgust with the way they pervert the scientific method to advance their propaganda.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Bill Powers
August 21, 2019 12:48 pm

I vote for defining “Political Science” as being an oxymoron. 🙂 It is right up there with the “dismal science,” economics.

August 21, 2019 5:02 am

scientist = someone with no clue….that’s trying to get one

Reply to  Latitude
August 21, 2019 6:16 am

If they’re using the scientific method to get a clue. Best definition I’ve ever seen.

August 21, 2019 5:03 am

IMHO, using the scientific method properly makes one a scientist. So a technologist with only high school qualifications can be a scientist. In contrast, a university professor with batchelor, masters and doctorate degrees in hard science subjects may not be a scientist unless they actually apply and respect the scientific method. For example a chemist, medical doctor, geologist, … may all be scientists, provided they practice science according to proven, tested criteria. A university professor who authors computer models according to untestable hypotheses is not a scientist; in fact, they are specifically corrupting the scientific method if the claim what they do is “scientific truth”.

Reply to  David Middleton
August 21, 2019 6:41 am

And when I took it, you had a limited budget for the class for the number of runs you could make on the main frame. If you exceeded your budget due to fumble fingers and debugging, you could buy more runs at the cost of a half point on your final course grade. Thank God for PC’s.

Reply to  Buckeyebob
August 21, 2019 12:12 pm

I took my first FORTRAN class in 1984. One of our programs was the classic “area under the curve” calculations, and my first version that compiled ran out my time limit. Not realizing what this implied, I asked the student supervising the the computer lab for more time, and he — also making a grand blunder — gave me unlimited resources on the mainframe.

I kicked off my program again, and sat back to wait. About five minutes went by, and two people entered the computer lab and went over to the supervisor’s desk and talked with him a moment. Then they came over to me, asked if I was user so-and-so.

It turned out I had eaten all the resources of the mainframe for the class by means of an endless loop in my code. They killed my account, explained that a simple problem like this should not take more than a second, and to be more aware of what I was doing.

Humble beginnings for a 36-year career in s/w development.

Reply to  James Schrumpf
August 21, 2019 4:25 pm

Y = 0
X = 99
10 Y = Y + 1
X = X – 2
IF X 0 GOTO 10

Pardon, please, if my syntax is incorrect. I haven’t touched FORTRAN since I “flunked” it in college. (My Trash-80 implementation had subroutines, the professor’s Apple II did not. So when I submitted a project that was quite simple when using a CALL… Actually, come to think of it, mine also had an overflow error stop implemented, while his did not.)

michael hart
Reply to  James Schrumpf
August 21, 2019 4:52 pm

lol. My offence was also in the same year, but in PASCAL, and I did it deliberately just to see what happened.

But I wasn’t competent enough to realize that I had submitted my infinite loop as a job to the remote printer in Computer Services. After about half an hour I got a polite on-line contact from them, but no one ever mentioned anything about a budget for undergraduate printing costs.

Reply to  James Schrumpf
August 22, 2019 11:02 pm

Pardon, please, if my syntax is incorrect.

Your FORTRAN is atrocious, but I’ll honor your request for a pardon.


Reply to  David Middleton
August 21, 2019 7:58 am

I actually was in the first class at the ETH in Zurich to learn Pascal. The next semester I learned Algol 68, and never looked back until I had to learn FORTRAN to be able to talk to folks running on the DEC Alpha machines. I hated it because you had to think backwards.

I’ve watched the whole AGW thing from the perspective of someone who knows what is being done on the SCs, knows that they can’t solve the diff equations in a lifetime of compute cycles, but as long as people throw money their way, the computes will march on.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  David Middleton
August 21, 2019 8:59 am

“Procedure: Run punch cards through card reader.”

And don’t drop the cards on the floor before you get them into the hopper! I did that once. I was extra careful after that. 🙂

Steven Fraser
Reply to  Tom Abbott
August 21, 2019 1:41 pm

Its why rubber bands evolved.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Tom Abbott
August 21, 2019 5:20 pm

In Fortran, if you give every card a line number and properly reference the line numbers in your program, you can shuffle the deck any way you like and as long as the “EOJ” card is the last one in the stack, the program will compile. At least, that’s the way it was in 1974 when I was in school.

Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
August 22, 2019 12:50 pm

Wasn’t that way in 1968. You had to manually number the deck if you wanted order. The CDC 1602 had routines in the operating system to detect malfunctioning programs and terminate them with a message.

Loren Wilson
Reply to  Tom Abbott
August 21, 2019 5:53 pm

My coworkers drew a diagonal line across the top edge of the stack of punch cards so that they could put them in approximate order visually after the cards were dropped. It reduced the sorting routine significantly. I never had to use cards (too young), took Fortran 77 in 1981.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Loren Wilson
August 21, 2019 8:42 pm

My first serious Fortran programming effort was in 1967 on a DDP-24, which used punched paper tape as input. If you made a mistake, you didn’t have the luxury of replacing a single Hollerith card — you had to re-type the entire program! And my first attempt wouldn’t compile because it exceeded the 24K memory of the machine.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  David Middleton
August 21, 2019 9:20 am

A university surplus equipment acquisition person asked if we needed anything. I told him a couple of card punch machines would be good. A few weeks later there were 2 nice IBM 056 Card Verifiers delivered to our floor. Quite nice, but not what was needed.
I never found out where they went next.

Gilbert K. Arnold
Reply to  John F. Hultquist
August 21, 2019 1:16 pm

You needed to specify an “IBM 029 card reader/punch.”

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  David Middleton
August 21, 2019 12:38 pm

I would suggest that, irrespective of one’s formal education, the important distinction between a technician or engineer, and a scientist, is that the latter engages in research that adds to the body of scientific knowledge, whereas the former (including medical practitioners, and bureaucratic regulators such as EPA employees) use well-established facts and mathematical relationships to perform their work. They all work in the general field of science and technology.

Those who write computer climate models could be a scientist or not, depending on how they use the models. That is, if the modelers assume that all the embedded ‘facts’ are true, and their coding is correct, and the only thing they use their models for is to forecast the future, then I’d call them engineers/technicians. On the other hand, if they use their models to learn about how the variables in a dynamic system interact, and improve their models based on experiments, then I would say that they are acting like a scientist.

Programming is certainly an unforgiving method for honing one’s logic skills, but is not in and of itself what I would consider scientific research.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
August 21, 2019 5:03 pm


That’s why the IPCC should be called IPPC (Int. Panel on Policy Change) — nobody in their clear mind should ever apply their models on PREDICTION; someone said that climate and weather modelling was invented to make astrology look good!

Reply to  Mark Pawelek
August 21, 2019 5:42 am

This 👍🏼

Michael in Dublin
Reply to  Mark Pawelek
August 21, 2019 5:43 am

A son of mine who is a scientist does not consider most without a PhD and Post Doc course as scientists. He is happy to employ people to do lab work with simply a diploma and considers their contribution to his research team as crucial but does not consider them scientists. However, he is also skeptical of certain people in his field with PhD and Post Doc qualifications who he believes are pulling the wool over the eyes of scientific publications and their financial supporters. He has encouraged me – a non scientist – to look at what a scientist postulates and then to closely examine his or her reasoning. Anyone with a good grasp of language is often able to pick up the flawed reasoning of a scientist – something which journalist whose work involves language should be able to do but are woeful remiss at.

Reply to  Michael in Dublin
August 21, 2019 6:36 am

In some fields formal training will completely derail you….some of the most incredible scientists had no formal training at all and were self taught

Farmer Ch E retired
Reply to  Latitude
August 21, 2019 8:09 am

The Wright Brothers
come to mind.

Reply to  Farmer Ch E retired
August 21, 2019 9:44 am

Tom Edison, also.

Reply to  Farmer Ch E retired
August 21, 2019 9:44 am

Tom Edison, also.

Reply to  Farmer Ch E retired
August 21, 2019 9:44 am

Tom Edison, also.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Farmer Ch E retired
August 21, 2019 10:21 am

No, they were Engineers.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  Farmer Ch E retired
August 21, 2019 10:38 am

John Harrison – English carpenter. Clock maker who invented the marine chronometer, and solved the problem of calculating longitude on the open ocean.

Robert Beckman
Reply to  Farmer Ch E retired
August 21, 2019 11:51 am

The Wright brothers were primarily engineers rather than scientists (at least as I know their history).

With the important exception of the wing shape theory, if that indeed was done by them and not simply afterwards.

Trying lots of experiments and observing the results is not science.

Science is all about guesswork. You make a guess as to a law of the universe, then you calculate the consequences of that guess (ideally, both a true and a false consequence), then you test to see if your consequences occurred. If they do, then your guess is not-disproven. If they don’t, then your guess is disproven.

This is where the climate change falsely-claiming-to-be-scientists get it wrong. They make a guess (lots of little things, but the easy one is summarized as CO2 sensitivity), calculate the consequences (their models, so far so good), and then they fail to see if their consequences occurred. Building models isn’t science, it’s just mathematics. Making a guess about a truth of the universe (“hypothesis”) isn’t science. Even testing the consequences isn’t itself science. You have to do all of it together to be a scientist, and anyone who does so qualifies.

Bona fides: I’ve predicted more than a billion dollars of healthcare insurance fraud that has been recovered from unscrupulous hospitals, and because I’m lazy I put it into a model that self tunes to react to changes in the underlying patterns. The model isn’t science, that’s just math. Understanding how to solve the problem of defining the problem to be solved by an equation: that’s science.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Farmer Ch E retired
August 21, 2019 12:46 pm

Things get complicated by terms such as “engineering research” or “applied research.” If the improvement of the flight capabilities in early aircraft was primarily through guess work and trial and error, then I’d be reluctant to call them scientists — particularly when there was a focused goal of making a heavier-than-air craft fly, rather than understanding the mathematically expressible principles of aerodynamics.

Farmer Ch E retired
Reply to  Farmer Ch E retired
August 21, 2019 1:30 pm

Wikipedia RE Wright Brothers:

“Both brothers attended high school, but did not receive diplomas.”

Can they qualify as Engineers w/o a college (or high school) degree??

I think quite often people can become too specialized with a higher education (I hold a Masters of Science). Generalists, like the Wright Brothers can have an advantage. In my opinion, there is merit to to being a generalist with “climate science” since it encompasses such a wide variety of disciplines. If you are educated in one aspect, there are several other aspects you are likely missing.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Farmer Ch E retired
August 21, 2019 6:00 pm

A scientist is a person engaged in the process of doing science, which is a method, not a degree program.
What one person or another has in the way of personal bias has no bearing on the question of who is and who is not engaged in scientific research.
If one is properly employing the scientific method, that person is a scientist.
If someone with an alphabet soup of degree programs under their belt is not adhering to the scientific method, that person is not doing science.
People that start out knowing something that has never been demonstrated to be verified by evidence, are not scientists.
That sort of person is engaged in what science replaced.

Reply to  Farmer Ch E retired
August 22, 2019 1:25 pm

The Wright Brothers were the foremost aerodynamics scientists of their day. We need to get over the “bicycle shop” part of their history.

Reply to  jorgekafkazar
August 22, 2019 1:48 pm

Agree. I recently read a biography of the Wright Brothers. They were initially awed and felt inadequate in the field of aerodynamics as they had no advanced education. Until they started their own experiments and discovered that just about all the academic literature on the subject was absolute balderdash. They build the first wind tunnel to test wing designs and revolutionized aerodynamic research. Wilber Wright’s first public presentation of their work can still be read and studied as the perfect paper on a technical subject.

Wilber Wright said the keys to success were to pick the right parents and grow up in Ohio.

Steven Mosher
Reply to  Latitude
August 21, 2019 10:59 pm

faraday. mendel. Willis. Anthony.

Reply to  Michael in Dublin
August 21, 2019 12:01 pm

I got a four year degree in Chemistry but do not consider myself a scientist. I did almost no work in the sciences. I am capable of understanding debates in some scientific subjects. It is just hobby reading for me. I think a fair criteria would be that one has worked ten or more years in the sciences whatever the academic accomplishments might be. A professor or lecturer in the sciences might qualify.

Richard Patton
Reply to  Michael in Dublin
August 21, 2019 4:49 pm

Studies have indicated that those with only masters degrees come up with more original/productive ideas than those who have doctorates. A person with a masters degree doesn’t know “what can’t be done”

Reply to  David Middleton
August 22, 2019 1:41 am

As that old joke goes, we all know what a BS degree is. An MS degree is More of the Same; while a PhD is Piled Higher and Deeper.


Reply to  Michael in Dublin
August 22, 2019 1:06 pm

That attitude started about the time that I graduated. Fortunately I worked for companies that didn’t have severe PhD-itis. Anyone with a degree basic degree in one of the sciences who could do the work was OK. Take a problem, identify the methods and information to solve it, put together an experimental plan with checks and balances, and either do the work yourself or coordinate others in a more complicated project. Know when to call it quits or when the project was done.

After I started working I found out that the difference between a PhD and a promotion was that the holder of the PhD had done a project on his/her own dime(mostly) before graduating.

Reply to  Mark Pawelek
August 21, 2019 5:55 am

Mark P wrote:
“…using the scientific method properly makes one a scientist.”

That is correct – thank you Mark.

By that definition, global warming/climate advocates are NOT scientists, because they place emotion and hysteria above observation and logic.

Warmists are NOT scientists, they are actually charlatans.

Charlatan (definition)
n. A person who makes elaborate, fraudulent, and often voluble claims to skill or knowledge; a quack or fraud.
n. One who pretends to knowledge, skill, importance, etc., which he does not possess; a pretender; a quack, mountebank, or empiric.
n. Synonyms Impostor, cheat, pretender; Mountebank, etc. (see quack).

Jeff Alberts
August 21, 2019 6:37 am

“By that definition, global warming/climate advocates are NOT scientists, because they place emotion and hysteria above observation and logic.”

You should add “agenda” to that list.

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
August 21, 2019 8:49 am

Are there any better examples of this than Michael Mann and Kevin “Travesty” Trenberth?

(I know, this could extend the thread considerably)

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
August 21, 2019 9:42 am

Fair point Jeff, re their agenda.

I’ve mentioned the Radical Green Agenda before, but here is a sampling.

The amazing thing is these wanna-be murderous psychopaths actually think they are intelligent, and balanced!


“The big threat to the planet is people: there are too many,
doing too well economically and burning too much oil.”
– Sir James Lovelock,
BBC Interview


“My three main goals would be to reduce human population to
about 100 million worldwide, destroy the industrial infrastructure
and see wilderness, with it’s full complement of species,
returning throughout the world.”
-Dave Foreman,
co-founder of Earth First!


“Current lifestyles and consumption patterns of the
affluent middle class – involving high meat intake,
use of fossil fuels, appliances, air-conditioning,
and suburban housing – are not sustainable.”
– Maurice Strong,
Rio Earth Summit


“Mankind is the most dangerous, destructive,
selfish and unethical animal on the earth.”
– Michael Fox,
vice-president of The Humane Society


“Human beings, as a species,
have no more value than slugs.”
– John Davis, editor of Earth First! Journal


“Humans on the Earth behave in some ways like a
pathogenic micro-organism, or like the cells of a tumor.”
– Sir James Lovelock,
Healing Gaia


“The Earth has cancer
and the cancer is Man.”
– Club of Rome,
Mankind at the Turning Point


“A cancer is an uncontrolled multiplication of cells;
the population explosion is an uncontrolled multiplication of people.
We must shift our efforts from the treatment of the symptoms to
the cutting out of the cancer. The operation will demand many
apparently brutal and heartless decisions.”
– Prof Paul Ehrlich,
The Population Bomb


“I don’t claim to have any special interest in natural history,
but as a boy I was made aware of the annual fluctuations in
the number of game animals and the need to adjust
the cull to the size of the surplus population.”
– Prince Philip,
preface of Down to Earth


“A reasonable estimate for an industrialized world society
at the present North American material standard of living
would be 1 billion. At the more frugal European standard
of living, 2 to 3 billion would be possible.”
– United Nations,
Global Biodiversity Assessment


“A total population of 250-300 million people,
a 95% decline from present levels, would be ideal.”
– Ted Turner,
founder of CNN and major UN donor


“… the resultant ideal sustainable population is hence
more than 500 million but less than one billion.”
– Club of Rome,
Goals for Mankind


“One America burdens the earth much more than
twenty Bangladeshes. This is a terrible thing to say.
In order to stabilize world population,we must eliminate
350,000 people per day. It is a horrible thing to say,
but it’s just as bad not to say it.”
– Jacques Cousteau,
UNESCO Courier


“If I were reincarnated I would wish to be returned to earth
as a killer virus to lower human population levels.”
– Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,
patron of the World Wildlife Fund


“I suspect that eradicating small pox was wrong.
It played an important part in balancing ecosystems.”
– John Davis, editor of Earth First! Journal


“The extinction of the human species may not
only be inevitable but a good thing.”
– Christopher Manes, Earth First!


“The extinction of Homo Sapiens would mean survival
for millions, if not billions, of Earth-dwelling species.
Phasing out the human race will solve every
problem on Earth – social and environmental.”
– Ingrid Newkirk,
former President of PETA


“Childbearing should be a punishable crime against
society, unless the parents hold a government license.
All potential parents should be required to use
contraceptive chemicals, the government issuing
antidotes to citizens chosen for childbearing.”
– David Brower,
first Executive Director of the Sierra Club


August 21, 2019 2:10 pm

Diversity, wicked solutions, oh my… Transhuman.

Mickey Reno
August 22, 2019 11:12 am

I consider anyone who honestly asks questions about nature and reality, and then seeks possible answers to those questions with an open mind, letting reality and observations lead where they may, to be a scientist. This is true even if the person is not employed in a science field, and only a hobbyist.

Proving a scientific hypothesis is impossible. And to say you can positively prove something in science is both dishonest and disrespectful. And yet, t+hese tendentious “studies” rule over almost all of modern climate science. I don’t consider anyone who thinks they’re saving the planet to be a scientist. Believing that you’re saving the planet is far too much of an emotional impediment to allow dispassionate examination of reality. And not believing it while pretending that you do is even worse. Which is where I place the worst of the CAGW high priests.

August 22, 2019 3:33 pm

Thank you Mickey – good comments.
Regards, Allan

April 14, 2019
By Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc., M.Eng.

3. There is NO credible scientific evidence that climate is highly sensitive to increasing atmospheric CO2, and ample evidence to the contrary. Catastrophic human-made global warming is a false crisis.

Competent scientists have known this fact for decades. In a written debate in 2002 sponsored by APEGA and co-authored on our side by Dr. Sallie Baliunas, Dr. Tim Patterson and me, we concluded:

“Climate science does not support the theory of catastrophic human-made global warming – the alleged warming crisis does not exist.”

“The ultimate agenda of pro-Kyoto advocates is to eliminate fossil fuels, but this would result in a catastrophic shortfall in global energy supply – the wasteful, inefficient energy solutions proposed by Kyoto advocates simply cannot replace fossil fuels.”

Many scientific observations demonstrate that both these statements are correct-to-date.

The current usage of the term “climate change” is vague and the definition is routinely changed in the literature, such that it has become a non-falsifiable hypothesis. It is therefore non-scientific nonsense.

“A theory that is not refutable by any conceivable event is non-scientific.” – Karl Popper

Climate has always changed. Current climate is not unusual and is beneficial to humanity and the environment. Earth is in a ~10,000 year warm period during a ~100,000 year cycle of global ice ages.

The term “catastrophic human-made global warming” is a falsifiable hypothesis, and it was falsified decades ago – when fossil fuel combustion and atmospheric CO2 increased sharply after ~1940, while global temperature cooled from ~1945 to ~1977. Also, there is no credible evidence that weather is becoming more chaotic – both hurricanes and tornadoes are at multi-decade low levels of activity.

Even if all the observed global warming is ascribed to increasing atmospheric CO2, the calculated maximum climate sensitivity to a hypothetical doubling of atmospheric CO2 is only about 1 degree C, which is not enough to produce dangerous global warming.

Climate computer models cited by the IPCC and other climate activists employ much higher assumed sensitivity values that create false alarm. The ability to predict is perhaps the most objective measure of scientific competence. All the scary predictions by climate activists of dangerous global warming and wilder weather have proven false-to-date – a perfectly negative predictive track record.

Based on current knowledge, the only significant impact of increasing atmospheric CO2 is greatly increased plant and crop yields, and possibly some minor beneficial warming of climate.

Reply to  Mark Pawelek
August 21, 2019 6:41 am

A medical doctor is most certainly not a scientist, they follow a set of practice rules and guidelines much of which revolves are holistic approaches. Starting at the turn of this century the new catchword was evidence-based medicine ( which was supposedly bringing the field more into line with normal science. Right here today EBM is actually under heavy attack for reason common to Climate Science the doctors don’t trust it 🙂

The main criticism is it is hard to get proper controls around trials and tests and there is too much Research bias to favor their product. Patient values and rights are ignored by the system. This should all sound very familiar.

Reply to  LdB
August 21, 2019 7:42 am

I’d disagree with that, at least in the past. I’d agree with the evidence based medicine thing, for that was a political imposition, using slick language equivocation to make it seem to be something it wasn’t. Practicing MDs gather evidence and apply hypotheses, then revise them as new evidence comes in, some of which is the effect, or lack thereof, of treatment. Remember that a diagnosis is, by definition, something less than gnosis. It is a guess, informed, true; yet still a guess. Then decisions have to be made in the presence of uncertainty.

Reply to  cdquarles
August 21, 2019 11:12 am

Doctors don’t modify diagnosis they used remedies they have been handed down, that is why they did stupid things like treat Stomach Ulcers as caused by stress for decades and the usual treatment was anti-anxiety tablets and lifestyle changes. Barry Marshall came along and proved they were stupid and that treatment was akin to witchcraft because Stomach Ulcers are predominately a bacterial infection (Helicobacter pylori). He knew that there was another cause because when you actually looked at the treatment it did nothing in almost 100% of cases and yet Doctors continue to treat it as stress related.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  cdquarles
August 21, 2019 12:58 pm

I don’t see how that description of the behavior of a physician differs that much from an engineer who is responsible for designing a new aircraft, and has to figure out why the wings keep coming off. He is primarily concerned with working within the confines of the body of knowledge of materials science (tensile and shear strength) and calculating stress on the components based on physics. It is a problem solving exercise that requires observation, measurement, and logic, but isn’t fundamentally adding to the body of knowledge of the core sciences.

Reply to  Mark Pawelek
August 21, 2019 8:41 am

Excellent observation. My definition is the old saw, a scientist is a person trying to replace a theory that is wrong, with one that is more subtly wrong.

My degree is in physics, I spent my career as a systems engineer/analyst/electro-optics type, and don’t “believe” in CAGW. Ergo, I guess I ain’t a scientist.

Reply to  Severian
August 21, 2019 9:47 am

Tom Edison, also.

Reply to  Severian
August 21, 2019 9:47 am

Tom Edison, also.

Reply to  Severian
August 21, 2019 9:48 am

Are engineers scientists?

Reply to  JimB
August 21, 2019 1:22 pm

Engineers have science degrees. They apply science in their work. They have a responsibility to be correct and thorough in their evaluations that requires use of well accepted scientific techniques. Most of their clients don’t like being experimented upon, so engineers do much less of the proof of hypothesis type of research that scientists are expected to do. They also can be sued if they are wrong, unlike scientist who say “oops, bad assumption”. In my experience a specialized bachelors degreed engineer will be every bit as knowledgeable in their field, maybe moreso, than someone with a Ph.D. in the same field. We have a saying in our business which involves the efforts of many civil, mechanical, chemical, electrical engineers. It is “The last thing we want on the project is a scientist or an inventor”, so I expect most engineers wouldn’t want to be called a scientist, because a scientist is wrong far too often.
Yeah, I’m an engineer.

Steven Mosher
Reply to  DMacKenzie
August 23, 2019 3:06 am

Not all scientsists do HYPOTHESIS work.

take geologists for example. While some may do actual hypothesis testing
others may simply explain the past.

Tombstone Gabby
Reply to  Mark Pawelek
August 21, 2019 1:01 pm

How about “Researchers using the scientific method”.

My dad earned his BSc in 1948 – University of Queensland. He never once to my knowledge referred to himself as a ‘Scientist’. The work he did while I was growing up was more ”electrical engineer’ – designing, supervising the construction of, and testing sub-station size transformers. How to think should be the goal of all education…..

Reply to  Mark Pawelek
August 21, 2019 1:23 pm

I have been saying this exact same for my entire adult life. Science is a methodology based on observation and verification. If what you do doesn’t adhere to the methodology, you’re not doing science. JMHO

Mark H
Reply to  Mark Pawelek
August 21, 2019 4:21 pm

I think there are some disqualifying attributes. For example, I don’t think it is possible to be a scientist if you are also an activist. This tends to infect a lot of the environmental side of things, where activists are highly motivated to find the conclusions that support their deeply held beliefs.

But, in the end it does come down to following the scientific method in the pursuit of knowledge. Within a population there is only a small subset of people who have the intellect and temperament that is conducive to conducting science, so not everyone can be a scientist (at least an effective scientist). Whether or not you have a formal education in “science” does not necessarily determine if you are a scientist. Conducting science does.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Mark H
August 21, 2019 7:54 pm

Mark H
It used to be that the mark of a good scientist was to be seen as a “disinterested observer.” He/she let the cards fall where they might.

I suspect that the majority of ‘climatologists’ have never read T. C. Chamberlain’s Method of Multiple Working Hypotheses.

Richard Patton
Reply to  Mark Pawelek
August 21, 2019 4:41 pm

Actually your definition “the scientific method” excludes much of geology. The scientific method is empirical science (Data-hypothesis-theory-experiment-verification/no verification) the part of geology where they try to infer how things happened in the past is forensic science, the same science that detectives and historians use. (Data-hypothesis-theory and that is the further that you can go because the past is non-repeatable) So one can be a scientist even though he/she cannot use the scientific method. (If you disagree then most of geology is non-science)

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  David Middleton
August 21, 2019 5:49 pm

According to your conception of the scientific method, the gambler at the horse racing track runs the scientific method every race of the week. Each bet he places is a hypothesis, and every race is an empirical experiment.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
August 21, 2019 7:49 pm

Geoff and David,
I think you make the point that a methodology (i.e. The Scientific Method) is not in and of itself, sufficient to make an exercise suitable to be called “science.” The Scientific Method is necessary to do real science, but the problem being attacked, and what is done with the knowledge gained (if any), are essential elements. That is, the run-of-the-mill gambler doesn’t gain insight on why some horses win over others, and isn’t capable of symbolizing the knowledge through mathematics. When a drill hole comes up empty, it falsifies the hypothesis; however, if you can’t explain why, and use the dry hole to to modify the hypothesis-formulation to be more successful, the you are, at best, doing poor science. The essential part of science is expanding the knowledge of the natural world.

The story of how Van Allen (of the Van Allen Radiation Belts fame), who used his knowledge of physics to predict how eccentricities in a roulette wheel should impact where the ball lands, basically conducted experiments to prove his hypothesis. He was right, and amassed a decent nest egg to start his career, before the casinos politely asked him to leave town and not return.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
August 22, 2019 4:03 am


I, the original Geoff Sherrington who has blogged on WUWT under my real name since early days, DID NOT write this comment.
Bloggers, do check to see if this slug IMPOSTER has stolen your name.

Geoff S

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
August 22, 2019 1:13 pm

Sabermetrics: accumulating data and applying statistical analysis is a sub-set of the Scientific Method. However, it is a ball outside the foul line to call it scientific research or even science.

I could study the sand grains on a beach and apply all kinds of statistics to measurements. But, to what end? What question would I be answering? Of what utility would the measurements be?

Again, unless it adds to the body of knowledge of ‘natural science,’ it is simply an exercise with the trappings of pseudo-science. Unless those measurements could be demonstrated to be representative of all beaches, or at least certain kinds of beaches, the most one can say is that it is information about one beach. What does it tell us about the dynamics of the class of physiographic features we call beaches? There is more to ‘science’ than traversing the steps of the Scientific Method.

Richard Patton
Reply to  David Middleton
August 21, 2019 6:57 pm

I carefully wrote my comment to not include you guys. It’s these guys who say that the Earth & life developed a certain way and who are trying to get you to believe they are empirical scientists I am addressing. They are not. In forensic science (ask any detective or historian) there are no ‘provens.’ It is what theory best fits the data. And what theory you use depends on your philosophic presumptions. If you believe that the 2nd law of thermodynamics and the Big Bang imply someone/something outside nature started it all, you will attempt to put the puzzle pieces into a different pattern than if you believe (as Stephen Hawkins stated a couple of years before his death) that the universe created itself. In forensic science (criminology, history, or paleontology) one’s philosophic presumptions mold one’s results.

The oil industry wouldn’t exist if it’s geologists couldn’t test their hypothesis empirically.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  David Middleton
August 22, 2019 1:26 pm

The tool (Scientific Method) is not as important as what is done with the tool.
That is, using a scalpel skillfully does not make me a surgeon, if I use it to carve models out of balsa wood. The scalpel is an essential tool of a surgeon, but the use of it does not define surgery.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
August 22, 2019 7:03 pm

I’m familiar with #11 X-Acto knife blades. I take dull ones and grind them down to fit a vibratory engraver and use them to clean shale out of pyrite/marcasite balls. What is important is how something is used, not what it is called nor what its usual use is.

Tom Halla
August 21, 2019 5:11 am

Of course, one has to deal with people like Obama’s second EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy, with a masters in Environmental Health Engineering, and a bachelors in Social Anthropology.
She doesn’t look like a football player, so maybe tennis?

August 21, 2019 5:12 am

You might be a scientist if:
1) You apply the scientific method to investigate a topic of interest
2) You contribute to the body of scientific knowledge on that topic

Formal training, academic degrees, and professional employment are optional. Knowledge and disciplined thinking are not.

Back in the day when Scientific American was still a quality publication The Amateur Scientist was one of my favorite columns.

Reply to  JoeShaw
August 21, 2019 6:47 am

You are a scientist if you have a BSc it is a title earned by completing a degree. Anything else is as stupid as people like janitors who call themselves Waste Engineers. Yes we know people do it but it’s a joke and no-one really believes it.

Reply to  LdB
August 21, 2019 9:59 am

Education does not make a scientist – unless he learns and follows the Scientific Method.

There are a lot of scientifically-educated people who are NOT scientists. Some have a covert political agenda, and some are just really stupid.

“Strange as it seems, no amount of learning can cure stupidity, and higher education positively fortifies it.”
– Stephen Vizinczey

August 21, 2019 10:59 am

No you are just identifying characteristics of a good scientist vs bad … the bad ones are still scientists they have a BSc degree.

Your definition would be like only identifying good football players as footballers, the bad ones in your world are spectators who stand out in the middle field.

At the end of the day a science institute will only recognize a science degree regardless of your views on the matter and this whole argument is stupid.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  LdB
August 21, 2019 6:23 pm

You are arguing semantics, and others are getting at what it means to do science.
A sperm donor is a father in the biological sense, so it is true semantically that he is a father.
But he has not behaved as what we consider a father should do.
By merely donating sperm, but not participating in the duties and obligations and THE WORK of being a father to a child…he is no father. He is just some random DNA code.

Reply to  LdB
August 21, 2019 10:44 pm

Yet a court or lawful authorities will still always recognize him as the father and give him rights … you kicked an own goal 🙂

The fact is no-one really cares what a bunch of layman think a scientist is defined as besides that group off said layman, so please argue on among yourself and whatever answer you come up with is still irrelevant.

Reply to  JoeShaw
August 21, 2019 7:07 am

JoeShaw: “[…] The Amateur Scientist […]”

Hey, that switched on a lightbulb for me, JoeShaw. You’ve set me off on a mini-rant.

I’m an engineer (degreed, retired) who employed the scientific method at various times to tweak or to better understand some process. Just about any undergrad engineer receives decent training in the scientific method, precisely because engineers are likely to run up against new situations that no one has run into before.

So, I wouldn’t ever think of presenting myself as a ‘Scientist’, but I resent anyone proclaiming that I can’t do science or I am incapable of understanding what ‘science’ is. I have ‘done science’ and I am perfectly capable of assessing whether or not any ‘scientific’ endeavor properly followed the scientific method, regardless of the credentials of the person performing the experiments and research.

Heck! Every grade school student in America has to at least once, demonstrate the scientific method for their school’s science fair. Admittedly, many of those kids don’t ‘get it’ and do it poorly, but how is that different from much of what passes for ‘Climate Science’ nowadays?

No, the kids don’t all ‘get it’, but the sharper ones that continue to participate in science fairs all through High School are quite capable of ‘doing science’ and critiquing the validity of other’s experiments.

I really like the term Amateur Scientist to describe someone who follows the scientific method to expand our knowledge of the world.

I don’t begrudge someone calling themselves a ‘Scientist.’ regardless of their job title, when their primary occupation is to use the scientific method in the course of their work; a professional as opposed to an amateur. I do resent the heck out of someone calling themselves a ‘Scientist,’ regardless of job title, when they don’t follow the scientific method.

Thanks, Joe. Your reference to SciAm The Amateur Scientist clarified my own thoughts of what a scientist is and just who is a scientist.

Mike Haseler (Scottish Sceptic)
August 21, 2019 5:22 am

This question is best set in the framework of scepticism and science. Science comes from a Greek word meaning “knowledge” – as such its technical definition is the SUM of knowledge that has been obtained, scepticism comes from a Greek word meaning inquiry, so it is the measure of “NEW” knowledge or the increase in knowledge.

Thus we have a simple sum:
Science = (integral) Scepticism.

Scepticism = rate of increase in Science
(no scepticism = no increase)

So, who is a scientist? Someone with knowledge
Who is a sceptic? Someone who advances knowledge.

Who do scientists have to thank for all their knowledge? All the sceptics!

August 21, 2019 5:24 am

I agree with Mark Pawelek. It’s the use of the scientific method that makes one a scientist. Perhaps what is really the question is “who is the ‘professional’ scientist? That would be the guy with the degree that makes a living using said degree. While I understand why those who work in the field object to the guy in a garage who makes a Nobel prize winning discovery, fact is, as Mark points out, there are many “scientists” that are paid to be scientists but are not really such and many working “outside the field” who are genuine scientists. The distinction should be “professional” versus “amateur” and include only those that actually use the scientific method.

David—is a social scientist a scientist?

Phil R
Reply to  Sheri
August 21, 2019 9:56 am


Can’t answer for David, but the answer is no. social science is a soft science at best, and a dubious if not fraudulent science at worst. Not to say that there are not smart, ethical, diligent people working in the social sciences, but as a discipline or category, no. Many disciplines like to add the “science” tag to make them sound more important or impressive or authoritative than they really are.

Dodgy Geezer
August 21, 2019 5:27 am

Anyone using the scientific method is behaving scientifically. Anyone who primarily used that method in their job is employed as a scientist.

There is no qualification required…

August 21, 2019 5:28 am

Chapter 3. Science and Engineering Labor Force

Definition of the S&E Workforce


Proof that we have way too much government.

Bruce Cobb
August 21, 2019 5:37 am

All I know is that there are a lot of so-called “scientists” working in the Climatescam Industry who are plain frauds. Micky Mann is certainly no scientist.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
August 21, 2019 6:51 am

If he finished his GeoPhysics degree he would be a scientist because that major sits within the Bachelor of Science degree and would have a BSc (GeoPhysics) in his hot little hand.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  LdB
August 21, 2019 7:35 am

Technically, yes. In the real world, no.

Stephen Skinner
August 21, 2019 5:48 am

The language of science has been increasingly bent so as to be framed by gender or inequalities or colonialism or oppression or all those at once. That same template is used for anti-science:

Science Must Fall

Reply to  Stephen Skinner
August 21, 2019 8:45 am

Have I understood this correctly? We don’t believe in gravity because Newton was a white man?

Stephen Skinner
Reply to  Dunnooo
August 21, 2019 11:01 am

There is worse. This one contains adults:

Phil R
Reply to  Stephen Skinner
August 21, 2019 9:58 am

That’s intersectionalism for you in a nutshell.

Ron Long
August 21, 2019 5:49 am

David, I have no doubt you are a scientist, both because of your posting/comments and because you have some snarky troll tendencies. I am also a scientist by all of the above descriptions, and I am appalled at the lack of ability to think scientifically in professions requiring deductive powers, although I note these people have no trouble repeating false “scientific” findings. Press On!

August 21, 2019 5:53 am

If you agree and go by this, you are a scientist:


mark from the midwest
August 21, 2019 5:54 am

People often confuse three, similar looking, but very different activities, 1) the process of inventing, 2) the use of technology, as in running tests in a medical lab, and 3) science, which at a minimum requires, requires that we are testing models and or processes to affirm or refute the knowledge about the performance of those processes or models.

Unfortunately some of the people that are involved in item 2, above, make the most strident claims to be a scientists, and often make or republish claims that are well above their pay grade. The bad thing is that most people on the street don’t have the ability to take them to task. This is true in the social sciences as well, it’s what Thomas Sowell has referenced as the “helping class.” Oh yes it often happens in the field of :climate science” (sic)

Reply to  mark from the midwest
August 21, 2019 8:11 am

3) science, which at a minimum requires, requires that we are testing models and or processes to affirm or refute the knowledge about the performance of those processes or models.

You might be a scientist if… you’ve ever exclaimed “Woah! Did we get the data? Is everyone alright?” In that order.

Bloke down the pub
August 21, 2019 5:56 am

“Dad, am I really a Polar Bear?” asked the baby Polar Bear.
“Of course you are Son”, said the daddy Polar Bear,”why do you ask?”
“Because my feet are bloody freezing”, said the baby Polar Bear.

August 21, 2019 5:56 am

Wasn’t Einstein a commoner?

Reply to  Mike Bromley
August 21, 2019 6:59 am

Nope studied Maths and Physics and was awarded the Federal Polytechnic teaching diploma. He could not find a teaching job after graduation and spent 2 years in the patent office before he was appointed lecturer at the University of Bern.

I suspect you may be thinking of Thomas Edison who was self educated and would meet the sort of description you are giving.

Reply to  Mike Bromley
August 21, 2019 9:27 am

There are few more prolific inventors/engineers than Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) He attended Austrian Polytechnic in Graz but dropped out to take up employment. Later he enrolled at Ferdinand University in Prague but again left before obtaining a degree. This doesn’t mean that he was a bad student, he just had better understanding of many aspects of the physics of electricity far better than many of the academics at that time.

Stephen Skinner
Reply to  Mike Bromley
August 21, 2019 1:16 pm

The term ‘Commoner’ is normally applied to people who are not aristocracy or royalty. Michael Faraday and John Harrison were both commoners and both were also self taught. Both probably employed scientific disciplines instinctively in their learning, which was probably why they were so good . Meghan Markle is also commoner.

August 21, 2019 6:02 am

So as a Dental Technician, I’m a scientist.

August 21, 2019 6:02 am

The old Tin Man Fallacy. You’re not smart until you get a diploma.

Thomas Homer
Reply to  OK S.
August 21, 2019 6:20 am

“The old Tin Man Fallacy. You’re not smart until you get a diploma.”


And, what type of diploma’ed “scientist’ accepts a theory that has no laws, axioms, postulates, nor formulae after more than a hundred years of research?

Reply to  OK S.
August 21, 2019 7:00 am

I thought it was you can’t prove you are smart until you have a diploma.

Reply to  OK S.
August 21, 2019 7:58 am

The old Tin Man Fallacy.

I thought the Tin Man wanted a heart. The Scarecrow wanted a brain. After the Scarecrow received his diploma he said: “The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side. Oh, joy! Rapture! I’ve got a brain!”

It’s mathematical nonsense, of course (typical Hollywood). If he was trying to state the Pythagoras Theorem, he completely missed it.


Reply to  Jim Masterson
August 21, 2019 9:55 am

You are right of course. And actully, the Strawman Fallacy works even better for this post. The author uses Bill Nye et al. as straw people he demolishes as proof of this opinion piece.

August 21, 2019 6:08 am

Found this short introductory learning module about Scientific Investigations at the following NASA website:
I believe it provides a very good explanation of science as a way of knowing based on empirical evidence and a specific methodology as contrasted to other ways of knowing. It also stresses the idea that scientists must be skeptical (included quote from Skeptical Science website: “An objective scientist should be skeptical: one should not jump to conclusions or believe something simply because it is fashionable and agrees with current dogma.”)
The incredible irony is that this information is found under the heading “Climate Science Investigations”

Tombstone Gabby
Reply to  PeterM
August 21, 2019 4:18 pm

“…not jump to conclusions…”

Reminded me of a quote: “I have no data yet. It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts.”

Sherlock Holmes — ‘A Scandal In Bohemia’ — Arthur Conan Doyle…..

alastair gray
August 21, 2019 6:14 am

Ernest Rutherford s suposed to have said ” Geology is as intellectually respectable as stamp collecting ”
in the context of 1915 or thereabouts when he delivered this pompous put down heprobably was right. Geology only really became a science when the plate tectonics revolution ocurred and geology suddenly had a driving mechanism to explain the past environments of deposition in a proper structural setting and to a certain extent to predict the future eg
1) In 2 million years Africa will split in two as will the continental United States some time later or
2) Many Pacific atollswill continue to graow in area and volume despite a e eustatic rise in sea level
Likewise biology did not become a science really until Watson and Crick and the DNA revolution
Climate science is struggling to be a science as it seems incapable of assessing all potential drivers of climate fluctuation , and their interactions.
However until a subject becomes a science thereis nothing wrong with ” stamp collection. It is called data collection and one day given the right mechanism the data will fall into a cohesive pattern

Reply to  alastair gray
August 21, 2019 8:50 am

I offer this for your consideration:
You make a harsh determination for Geology and Biology becoming true sciences. I suppose you could find an event which provides a similar inflection point for Chemistry.
Now consider:
Non-Scientist: “What the F*** is this thing doing. It is all F***ed UP!”
Scientist” “Hmmm…… I wonder why it does that.”
I submit that the real fun was before Plate Tectonics. The whole field was confronted with a huge mess of facts and nothing added up. Nothing made any sense whatsoever. To make things really interesting, the field was riven with false ideas, many of which were forced onto students as fact. It was a tremendous achievement of science to develop a whole new theory in Plate Tectonics which actually worked.
Chemistry had a similar beginnings. People could observe a plethora of reactions, but there was no rhyme of reason to any of it. Eventually, simple ratios were observed. Then in an epic line of deductive logic and reasoning, Avogadro’s number was determined. From there a chemical reaction could be understood on atom-by-atom or molecule-by-molecule basis. It changed everything.
The great and foundational theories are the result of science, not a cause. These theories did not spring forth fully formed from nothing as some sort of Immaculate Conception. That is not how it works.
Your criteria of having critical theory already in place does two things:
1) It takes all the fun out of it. Note, as we advance the science, we inevitably go where there is no good theory. We have to make it up as we discover.
2) With theory in hand and locked down, you are really describing applied science and technology. This is great stuff as well, but is the playground of Engineers.
Biology: A fully developed science to the point where Linus Pauling knew exactly where to look and what to look for. Watson and Crick were simply following Pauling’s breadcrumbs.

The other George
August 21, 2019 6:26 am

Science (n.)
1) A subject in school taught, K-12, by a person trained in education, not science.
2) What those smart guys with degrees and all do to predict scary stuff.

Michael H Anderson
August 21, 2019 6:39 am

Well, I’m not a scientist; however, I have read books about scientific fraud, have witnessed several examples of scientific fraud in my lifetime (cold fusion, homeopathy), and have a good friend with an excellent story from his grad student days of the professor he was working for committing scientific fraud in order to have his hypothesis accepted as fact.

Elevating scientists to the status of infallible demigods as long as they feed us data that confirms our biases is one of the great stupidities of our age, and I don’t think I’m going out on a limb suggesting that my recognizing this proves I’m intelligent. 🙂

John MacDonald
August 21, 2019 6:50 am

Scientific Method, re: Oxford

“A method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.
“criticism is the backbone of the scientific method”

Note the role of sceptics in last phrase.

August 21, 2019 6:56 am

Beware, because usually, the “smartest guy in the room” is not a scientist.

David Irons
August 21, 2019 7:11 am

Bill Gates and I are both college drop outs. I would say that Gates’ work would make him a scientist. I am not, but I am capable of reading and understanding the words of scientists such as Dr. Richard Lindzen. A simple look the numbers regarding the make up of the atmosphere tells even a non scientists that CO 2 does not control the climate. So called scientists have created this hoax. And non scientists in politics and the press have spread it as farmers spread you know what.

August 21, 2019 7:22 am

Then there are the fully degreed and published “scientists “ that have no idea what they are doing or talking about. Then there are the science teachers that fall into the same category. Bad enough that they don’t know what they are talking about, but insist on spreading the gospel to other unsuspecting victims.

Dr. Bob
August 21, 2019 7:26 am

Unfortunately, education does not make one a scientist in the true sense. I worked with a Ph.D. Engineer that couldn’t understand simple heat transfer in a flowing system. So simple that a Ph.D. Chemist with no training in flowing systems figured it out in a few minutes. This Ph.D. Engineer was not a scientist, he was an idiot. He was fired by a major oil company within a year. So much for his education, it is pointless educating an idiot.
On another front, a friend of mine didn’t like the rigors of the education system but was otherwise brilliant. He quit school with a AA degree but went on to be the chief designer of machines to manufacture window frames for a major window manufacturer in Iowa.
All this says is that education does not automatically make you smart. You first have to be smart and then learn what you need to excel in this society. The most important think I learned from my education was how little I actually knew about the world and how the real world worked (not the laboratory world that had no direct connection to the real world). So that started a desire to continue a lifetime of learning.
Unfortunately many branches of science fail to connect laboratory and real world issues together. It is the old “In Vivo” and “In Vitro” issue. In my view, Climate Science is 100% In Vitro and they have not learned how to translate lab and computer work into “In Vivo” results.

August 21, 2019 7:36 am

I’ve sometimes wondered if I should be considered a scientist, engineer, teacher, or middle manager. Those of us who have worked in industry R&D have often worn the hat of each of those.

Educationally, I have degrees in physics and astrophysics. So I meet that ‘requirement’ some have suggested (and I disagree with), but can you call yourself a scientist if you are not actively engaged in research or other ‘sciency stuff’? Is being a scientist a career, training and frame of mind, both, or something else?

Dr. Bob
Reply to  jtom
August 21, 2019 8:05 am

You are a scientist in management but you are still a scientist if you ask for data to support a conclusion, evaluate that data to see if it supports what conclusion is propose, and then act on that data. Science is a fact based decision making process.
This is the root cause of so much trouble in the world today. People react on emotion regardless of facts in so many cases. One sees this in Climate Alarmism, Moon Landing Denial, Antafa, Creationism, and any number of social belief systems that are not based on facts.

Ian Wright
August 21, 2019 7:49 am

Damn that Sheldon!
Ever since that episode, my children wet themselves when ever geology is mentioned. I try explain geology is one of the core sciences but they just giggle.
Having trained in South Africa it was made very simple at Uni, to be called a scientist you needed a honours degree (4 yrs) to be formally recognised.

Reply to  Ian Wright
August 21, 2019 12:23 pm

Bill Murray said it best:

August 21, 2019 8:00 am

1) OBSERVE – Take a moment and really experience the universe around you. Examine it in detail: smell, taste, touch, listen, see. You current interaction with the universe may not be infallible, but it is the most reliable. Now compare your present experience of the universe with your memory of similar experiences in your past. Your memory of past experiences is less reliable than your present and it is more fallible, but your personal past and present serve as an anchor as you explore the vast, yet even less reliable, and equally fallible experiences of others. If you do this long enough your mind will naturally begin to focus on something in particular about the universe that you find interesting and soon the next step will (almost magically) begin…

2) QUESTION – The part of the universe which has caught your attention now has you asking a question to yourself about it. See how easy that was?

3) DOCUMENT – Record as much of this experience as you can. Pictures, video, audio, sketch a drawing, take notes, collect samples,… Get as much as you can but don’t overwhelm yourself. The information you gather now will help you with the next step.

4) HYPOTHESIZE – You have a question now try to answer it. Take a guess. It is OK if it turns out the answer is wrong that is part of the scientific method so get used to it. In fact, you can be assured that you have a good scientific hypothesis if it has the property known as “falsifiability.” That means that you can state what would be necessary to prove or disprove your hypothesis. A hypothesis which is not falsifiable is not a scientific hypothesis. Sadly, many today want to wrap their ideas up in a cloak of scientific jargon but in the end their hypothesis lacks falsifiability and is therefore not scientific. If you want to you can do research and get input from other people. You may find that you like their answer and choose to use it as your hypothesis. But keep in mind that finding a hypothesis you agree with is no where near the end of the scientific method. I say this because far to many people make it only as far as this step and think they are being scientific. THEY ARE NOT!!!! They are exploring, learning, educating themselves all of which are good things and will help with the next step but to stop here is to fail at science.

5) TEST – Now you need to have a test to either prove or disprove your falsifiable hypothesis. Once again, it is OK to do research and find out if anyone else has done a test of your hypothesis. It may be that a test has already been done which you can duplicate yourself to verify the results. This is the CRITICAL part of the scientific method. If the test you perform cannot be duplicated by others then something is wrong but this will be addressed later so for now just focus on designing and performing a test of your hypothesis. When you perform your test, document, document, document. Record in detail the equipment, materials, steps and results of your test. Do your best to be as accurate as you can.

6) SHARE – Now comes the often uncomfortable but necessary part of the scientific method. You need to share openly and publicly all of the things you have done up to this point. Was your hypothesis proven or dis-proven by your test? Share at least every thing from steps three to five with as many people as you can. It is particularly helpful to share it with people who reject your hypothesis. Listen to their criticisms of your test. Perhaps they can give you insight on how it could be improved. Perhaps you will need to go back to step four and refine your hypothesis. Perhaps you will need to go back to step five and alter the testing procedure. Encourage others to try and duplicate your test and see if they have the same or similar results.

CONCLUSION – So this is all there really is to the scientific method. Anything that does not follow these six steps may claim to be science, but it is not. This is likely to make some people upset because they want to claim they are scientific, but don’t be fooled. If what they present does not follow these six steps it CANNOT be called science. If you disagree with me on this I welcome your input on what needs to be changed.

Rhys Jaggar
August 21, 2019 8:09 am

A scientist is someone who applies the scientific method in specific arenas in their life.

There is no death sentence for those without scientific degrees applying such methods, hence it is important to distinguish between those paid to employ scientific methods and those who do so voluntarily.

Much of ‘science’ now is quite frankly intermeshed with politics and fundraising. How many PhD studentships right now fund projects questioning CAGW or at least attempting to base science on using data sources greater than seventy years old? And how many start from premises not to be questioned because funders demand that it not be questioned?

Here are a few sacred cows not to be questioned:
1. Vaccine adjuvants cause no damage to infants.
2. GMO crops have no major unintended consequences.
3. Carbon Dioxide is the major mediator of global warming.
4. Automation of farming has no downsides to soil ecology.
5. Damming rivers has no environmental downsides.
6. Changing land use has little effect on climate.
7. Mobile communications technology has no effect on human health nor on plant growth.
8. Mind control is a good thing.
9. Knife crime in London is more serious than depleted uranium all over Serbia and Iraq.
10. Developing drugs is more effective than addressing diet, depression and immunosuppression.

You may if you are percipient detect that I have questioned all ten. That makes me a non-violent extremist, as no politician would question them either.

It makes young careers in science much easier for those who are not politically awakened….

The Depraved and MOST Deplorable Vlad the Impaler
August 21, 2019 8:11 am

Even better is this offering from Sheldon:

(from a fellow Geophysicist and AAPG member … … … )

August 21, 2019 8:11 am

Are you a “Scientist” if you do not practice the scientific method? Which is basically to spend all your time and energy attempting to disprove your theory.

I say not. It’s like being Red (blue, green, whatever color), either you are, or you aren’t. Irregardless of what any title says you are.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Mat
August 21, 2019 6:56 pm

I do not think how much time one spends doing a particular thing is the deciding factor.
It is the ability to employ the method and abide by the results of experimentation and follow the evidence wherever it leads.
Someone might have a lifetime as a witless muleheaded oaf, but have a shining moment.

August 21, 2019 9:01 am

Yeah–science is an attitude towards research, driven by curiosity, discipline and integrity.
Honest inquiry.
On another site about older cars–Alfa Romeos–there is a member in his late 70s who has a PhD in physics and has published stuff on the atmosphere of Mars. We have had a thread going on “Warming” since 2008.
Die-hard “warmer”, who had submitted papers to the IPCC. Then, when the IPCC was given a peace prize, he really believed he had a “Nobel”.
When it comes to climate concerns, he has avoided real science.

Pat Frank
August 21, 2019 10:16 am

Many [students and researchers from minority and non-traditional backgrounds] report either deliberate or unintentional exclusion leading them to experience the converse of the citizen scientists…

“Many?” How many among what number, total? How does one establish the factuality of such reports?

In 30 years of academic research experience, I have never seen students and researchers from minority and non-traditional backgrounds intentionally or unintentionally excluded.

Science is ethnicity- and culture-free. Membership is open to the trained. It’s all a matter of how one thinks. You’re a member of that society when you speak the language. When you embrace the rigor, you’re in.

There are no minorities or non-traditionalarians in science. There are scientists and not-scientists. Background doesn’t enter into it. Only ‘frontground’ does: your education, your training, and your commitment to objective knowledge.

August 21, 2019 10:37 am

Grandmother asks how grandson got on with his exams.
Grandson says I failed them all except sociology.
Grandmother says that’s good, you’ve got an -ology so you’re a scientist.

John Tillman
August 21, 2019 11:09 am

Many of the most important scientists have not had doctorates in a scientific field, either ever, like Faraday, or, like then patent clerk Einstein, at the time of their greatest achievements.

The self-taught Faraday left what little formal school he had at 14. To honor his discoveries, Oxford awarded him an honorary doctorate in civil law, aged 41.

Copernicus’ doctoral degree was in canon law; Darwin’s bachelor’s (later upgraded to MA) was in divinity. Both men had however also studied medicine, which for Copernicus included astrology and astronomy. Being at Edinburgh and Cambridge did allow Darwin access to prominent naturalists.

Many other such examples could be adduced.

August 21, 2019 11:15 am

I agree that the definition of a scientist is very close to “one who properly employs the scientific method” and I would add “to understand the natural world” ( see ‘natural philosopher’). The scientific method could also be used, for example, to improve man made objects (engineer). Knowledge and techniques verified by science can be used by technologists to accomplish a variety of tasks such as the development of new medications or electronic devices. IMHO, those types of people are not strictly speaking scientists though they should fully understand the scientific method. The proportion of the population who actually use the scientific method to garner understanding is very small indeed and given that it is very difficult even for people with sciency degrees to adhere to scientific principles, the number of people considered to be scientists should be much, much smaller.

John Sandhofner
August 21, 2019 11:51 am

As an engineer I always thought of myself as a quasi-scientist. Our education included a lot of science courses. The profession required an open mind to solve difficult problems.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  John Sandhofner
August 21, 2019 8:09 pm

John Sandhofner
I think that the essential difference between an engineer and a scientist would be that, tasked with designing and building a bridge or a dam, the engineer would design to the accepted specifications of the time — and add in a 20% safety factor. The scientist would look into ways to improve the design, by using new materials, or better understanding how the stresses are distributed, and then handing it off to an engineer to complete the project. The state of the art is improved by scientific research, or learning from failed projects, i.e. the Tacoma Narrows bridge.

August 21, 2019 11:52 am

I recall that Richard Dawkins wrote about the methods that were used by hunter gatherers to track prey animals. They could look at tracks and piles of poop and could tell all kinds of stuff about what kind of animal had passed by, how long ago and all kinds of other information. He argued that these people where applying scientific methods.

I’m an engineer and I have to use the scientific method to solve problems. I’m not sure if I can claim to be a scientist but if I am wrong I find out straight away when my ideas don’t work. Climate scientists have been getting it wrong for three decades now and are still in employment.

August 21, 2019 12:28 pm

Tony L
On plate tectonics;
A friend completed Geological Engineering in 1962, at the University of Saskatchewan.
That year Dr. John Tuzo Wilson was a speaker on continental drift, which was controversial at the time.
Wilson addressed a large amphitheater and the geology faculty sat in a block at the back.
When his address was finished, they did not ask any questions, but to show their disapproval got up en masse and walked out.
Some “scientists” today are doing the same with Svensmark and Shaviv’s work on cosmic rays and climate change.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Bob Hoye
August 21, 2019 8:32 pm

Bob Hoye
I attended many talks presented by the Peninsula Geologic Society at Stanford in the 1970s. Typically, it was the older geologists who were slow to accept plate tectonics. However, they played an important role in refining the theory by asking difficult questions based on their years of experience and encyclopedic knowledge. Those who were acolytes of ‘Jesus’ Tuzo Wilson couldn’t get away with hand waving and making unsupportable claims. Without running the gantlet of objections from the senior geologists, plate tectonics would probably not have developed into the robust theory it is today. This is the serious mistake that today’s climatologists are making — not listening and responding to the objections of “skeptics.”

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  David Middleton
August 22, 2019 1:19 pm

And the god of oil is not yet dead.

James Francisco
August 21, 2019 12:40 pm

Maybe we should next examine the term expert. My dad loved the definition of an expert as a plain ordinary person out of state.

John Robertson
August 21, 2019 1:10 pm

Well according to the Obama Administration .A scientist is some one in a white lab coat.
Does not matter what they style themselves,if they cannot apply the scientific method , they are just an annoyance.
Language corruption is a political strategy,as seen with our “Progressive Comrades” and political parties.
Democrats who despise the constitution and the citizen.
Liberals who are as Statist as they come.
Conservatives who desire more Government.
Just cause a fellow claims to be an expert,does not deny me the right to “see his work”, before he gets a cent out of my pocket.

Science requires a inquiring mind and doubt.
What might you learn if you accept everything as “settled”?

Unfortunately for state funded science,the stench from Climatology will fall over institutional scientists for years.
After the failure of scientists to challenge the outrageous claims of the Cult of Calamitous Climate, why should any taxpayer support the continuation of their departments.
Now sure the problem has always been political,it takes a person of integrity to call BS on their own employer and risk unemployment.
The government promoted meme of Cataclysmic Climate Change has failed,even with the full support of the bureaucrats,media and spineless politicians, this naked grab for power,control and wealth has not been bought by the citizens who have to pay.
Extraordinary claims require evidence.
Convincing emperical measurements are almost required, yet Climatology has none.
If this was science,the speculation that adding CO2 to the atmosphere causes run away warming,would be over.
Correlation between CO2 emissions and the terrible metric”Estimated Average Global Temperature” is not there.
Pure religion,of the cult like kind.
The null hypothesis with respect to climate,seems to be same old ,same old.
Where fore is the “change”?

Human society seems to go through cycles,at one point the witch doctors, shaman or local smart guy were our only scientists.
And they were always right; “It is the will of GOD/Gods or everything, that such events should come to pass.”
With the scientific method,we briefly shared the faint hope that we might stop fooling ourselves long enough to learn something from past evens.

But as many of us know,belief is so much more comfortable than doubt.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  John Robertson
August 21, 2019 6:52 pm

Learning the history of science is a study in humility and, unfortunately, lack of it.
When one looks at a formal description of the scientific method, it ought to be evident that what it is, among other things, is a formalized process for enforcing humility.
When someone is unable to accept that their ideas may be wrong, they are unlikely to learn anything, although others may learn from what they have done wrong or done right.
Someone might do some experiments to demonstrate the validity of a hypothesis but, lacking humility, be unable to learn from the resulting data because it does not comport with what that person believes.
And then someone else comes along and reads about this experiment and the results thereof, and immediately sees what the first person missed, then this second person talks about what he has seen and thought to a third person, who then is able to formulate a hypothesis that explains and expands upon this finding, and in the process advances the body of human knowledge.
Now, who is and who is not a scientist in this scenario, which is not unrealistic and was actually how things proceeded in the early days, in at least one specific instance, and perhaps others more recently?
The first and the third persons wrote up what was done. The first was unteachable and unable to accept new information that conflicted with his prior worldview, an learned nothing, and died never thinking anything had been discovered.
The second person saw new information, realized what it meant and the implications in a wider frame of reference, and formulated a new idea.
The third person did not do an original experiment (at that point in time on that specific topic), but took what person 2 had seen and said and wrote it up and disseminated it.
The real world does not pay attention to how people feel about things, and respond appropriately.
And in real life, people take on roles that they were not trained for in a formal way.
And other people who are the beneficiaries of formal training are unable to make use of it.
Science is worthless to them…they decide ahead of time what must be, and are stubborn and lack humility and plasticity of mind.
They may and often do attempt to strongarm reality into conforming with what they have conjured up inside their mind.
We have a lot of that going on nowadays.

August 21, 2019 2:28 pm

I use science every day to make my living.
When I’m arguing with Warmists I often ask them if they can interpret a Psychrometic Chart.
After a lengthy explanation of the ‘greenhouse effect’ from a Warmist, I pointed to the large white
object in the corner of his kitchen and asked…
How does a fridge work?
The look he got on his face was priceless!

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  charles
August 21, 2019 6:32 pm

Well, there are a lot of people who know exactly how a refrigerator works who are not scientists by any reckoning.
And there are scientists (at least one anyway) who have no goshdarn idea what a psychrohoozit is, and would have to look up the word because *ahem* it sounds MADE UP!
A scientist is not a person who is in possession of a certain set of facts, let alone some particular fact or another.
That is just being knowledgeable.

August 21, 2019 2:54 pm

“Science is what scientists do, and there are as many scientific methods as there are individual scientists.”

“Scientists are those who do science”
-Unknown, attributed to Alfred E Neuman

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Glenn
August 21, 2019 8:13 pm

What else would someone expect from Alfred E. Neuman other than a circular definition?

August 21, 2019 3:35 pm

A scientist is anyone who does science, i. e extends human knowledge by using the scientific method.

Most commonly scientists have academic degrees, but this is definitely not necessary. In many scientific disciplines a large proportion of the practitioners are not academic professionals. Fields like ornithology, botany, astronomy and paleontology are examples of this.

Oddly enough non-professionals seem to be most easily accepted in the “hard” sciences.

alastair Gray
August 21, 2019 3:59 pm

Hi TonyL
Why did the geos walk out en masse -Because their head honcho walked out and the young acolytes had to do some serious bum-sucking to keep their jobs or grants. Your Svensmark/Shaviv analpgy is good, I thin.
Wouldnt’it be nice if the young guns in climate science could be free to stay or walk out according to their own volition rather than to appease a grand panjandram. I would hate to be a young post doc stat Penn State and have to oppose the opinion the great Mikie Mann – Distinguished \professor of this or that at that institution
I wonde what a Mediocre Professor looks or sounds like.
I dont disparage the stamp collectingphase of science, and you are right The real glory iw when you can see through the morass of conflicting data and ideas to a greater overarching state of order.
In the end Tycho Brahe stamp collected for Kepler
Your Avogadro moment is probably pivotal. wher do we fnf]d it in Physis
Copernicus Galileo Newton Einstein Schroedinger Heisenberj
A little bit more distinguished than Arrhenius Callendar Ravelle(maybe) Gore Santer Jones Mann Nye Greta Garbage.

Alastair Gray

alastair gray
August 21, 2019 4:12 pm

Excellent threat Cpuld we send it en masse to Skeptical Science
Alastair gray

August 21, 2019 4:15 pm

Interesting, I can’t find any requirements to join the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Geoff Sherringon
August 21, 2019 7:28 pm

There are degrees of “science” in scientific work. Few
people do 100% science all day long. The main other way to exercise the mind is “belief”. Some would say that you are no scientist if your results contain belief. Scientists work with observation, measurement, logical deduction while testing hypotheses.
A lot of scientific people from geological work are critical of a lot of climate change work. When your aim is to discover an ore deposit, it matters not at all if you believe that one does or does not exist in your target area. You soon learn that it is a waste of time to adjust measurements so they better match your belief. OTOH, much climate work rests on a belief that CO2 in the air is related to temperature changes with an enormous variety of harms they believe will happen. So fiddling exercises like homogenisation are done, often to reinforce a belief.
Chalk and cheese. Geoff S

Mike D.
August 21, 2019 9:27 pm

If you wear a white lab coat with a test tube in the pocket, you are a scientist. If you don’t you aren’t.

Steven Mosher
August 21, 2019 11:00 pm

you might be a scientist if you didnt appeal to social institutions to define a term

August 22, 2019 12:23 am

For anyone to be a scientist, one has to subscribe to the scientific method….. otherwise you are just an activist seeking to prove yourself right.

Schrodinger's Cat
August 22, 2019 6:49 am

Like all professions, there are some exceptional scientists and a great many mediocre or useless ones. Curiosity, enthusiasm, integrity and genuine interest are useful characteristics that can sometimes enable a self educated enthusiast to perform as well as a professional. However, a little knowledge can be dangerous so the amateur should be aware of his or her limitations.

The number and quality of publications still dominates academic achievement and status, yet this system is broken in places as is peer review and the replication of papers.

Yet academics often ignore their counterparts in private employment such as in industry where standards and professionalism can be exceptionally high yet publications other than patents can be very unusual. Success there often has to demonstrate real advances that have tangible value and serial failures are unlikely to be tolerated.

I am deeply worried by people who became scientists in order to save the planet. Science requires objectivity and the ability to learn, even from from negative results.

Reply to  Schrodinger's Cat
August 24, 2019 1:29 pm


Jon Jewett
August 22, 2019 10:19 am

I am just a Simple Red Neck, but….. It is natural for people to enhance their own power, prestige, and wealth. In academic organizations, that has come to mean more students and ever higher tuitions. One method to recruit and graduate more students is to lower standards across the board. (E.g. AOC per Wikipedia “majored in international relations and economics at Boston University, graduating CUM LAUDE (emphasis added) in 2011”)

It is said that in the academic world it is “publish or perish” So, to retain the mediocre academics, you are forced to publish mediocre, and worse, papers. Of course, the Peter Principle has individuals rising to the height of their own incompetence and that is true in the academic world as it is everywhere. So mediocre minds rise to the top of academic bureaucracies (E.g. the editors of National Geographic, Nature, “Learned Journals” et. al.). Since they have risen to the level of their incompetence, they are just not capable of separating the real science from the cargo cult science.

Richard Patton
Reply to  Jon Jewett
August 22, 2019 11:02 am

cargo cult

Ouch!! That describes CAGW perfetly!!!

August 22, 2019 11:13 pm

It’s nice to know that having a BS degree in Electrical Engineering and a MS degree in Software Engineering allows me to claim entry into the ranks of scientific training. I’ve been told by scientists (supposedly they were scientists) that I’m just an engineer. In other words, as an engineer, I can’t be a scientist.


August 23, 2019 4:42 am

For some reason the punch line of a joke I heard some time ago comes to mind. “Hey, I’m a lesbian too.”

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