The Quick Brown Scientist Jumps Over the Lazy Hack

Reposted from The Pipeline

John O’Sullivan • 07 Jul, 2020

It’s easy and it’s fun!

One of the sentences young journalists used as a training exercise when they were learning to type was “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” It probably still is; you find discussions of it on websites around the world. Being journalists, they played word games around it and produced variations on how different newspapers would report the event.

The winner, as I recall, was “I jump over lazy dog—Writes ExpressFox on the spot.”

The problem with modern journalism is that much of its energy goes into suppressing news rather than reporting it on the high ethical principle that some topics are too important for their readers and subscribers to understand. Last week’s Forbes, for instance, should have had on its front page the proclamation: Lazy dog blue-pencils scoop by quick brown fox. Don’t read all about it!

The scoop in question was a self-help one (and none the worse for that)—a column by environmentalist author, Michael Shellenberger, excerpted from his book Apocalypse Never, in which he explains that many of the most popular themes of climate alarmism are false claims or predictions of events that will never happen. Mr. Shellenberger has Green credentials up to the kazoo, and he has written before for Forbes, but when these heresies appeared, they quickly disappeared.

At least from Forbes. They were picked almost instantly by some quick brown fox on Quillette, possibly my old colleague from the National Post, Jonathan Kay, and republished. My colleague Michael Walsh has already examined the very different works of Shellenberger, Michael Moore, and Bjorn Lomborg who question the establishment orthodoxy on climate policy.

But since the latest stern warning from Greenery International is that very soon we shall have to stop eating meat—or at least face wartime levels of rationing of it—in order to save the world, I can’t resist this one modest factoid:

  • The amount of land we use for meat—humankind’s biggest use of land—has declined by an area nearly as large as Alaska.

Now, I don’t as yet know whether all these revisionist claims are accurate, but they come from people with some claim to expertise, and they are certainly interesting. And in Shellenberger’s case, because they are also the opposite of what readers might expect from him—some of his old allies are disappointed with him, others regretfully admiring—they fit very comfortably into the classic definition of a good news story as “Man Bites Dog.”

On this occasion, however, the lazy dog bit Shellenberger, and though the wound proved superficial, it was meant to silence him. Down, Forbes, down, boy.

So why?

A glance at almost any newspaper or television news program will give you the answer: skepticism about climate alarmism (not climate change) is a taboo subject for the dedicated young idealists who now go direct from good universities clutching diplomas that testify to their mastery of “Woke” opinions into the newsrooms of the Anglosphere. And the most important respect in which they differ from the newsrooms’ older inhabitants is this:

Just the facts, please.

Good old reporters took the view that you had to give the public all the relevant facts, including those that would enable their readers to reach a different conclusion from the one the reporter had arrived at; new idealistic reporters believe that you must shield readers from those facts that might get in the way of their going quickly to the Truth and staying there. That constitutes a firewall almost as impermeable as the Chinese government’s electronic control of the Internet.

Their justification for shielding readers from what Al Gore once called “inconvenient facts” is that there is a “scientific consensus” supporting climate change, and that means there should be a journalistic consensus too. One problem with this justification—and there are many—is that consensus is neither a scientific nor a journalistic concept but a political one.

That was borne in on me the other day when I came across a reference to the 97 percent of scientists who support global warming in a lecture on the philosophy of science delivered in 2015 to the Danube Institute by Professor Anthony O’Hear, the editor of the journal Philosophy, to the Peter Pazmany Catholic University in Budapest. (Hungarian philosophers have made major contributions to the philosophy of science.)

Science is consensus, comrades.

I had an interest in this topic since I had devoted a recent column to demonstrating that this 97 percent claim was at best ridiculous and at worst fraudulent. So I was slightly disconcerted to read this cautious but more withering conclusion from Professor O’Hear:

We are often told that (e.g.) 97% or some such figure of scientists all agree… This has been questioned, but, frankly, it is irrelevant. The question is not the solidity of the consensus, but the openness to differences of view, and the way in which anomalies are handled. Peer review and funding mechanisms could just be reinforcing dogma. Dissent is not popular in this area, papers [are] being turned down because they are ‘less than helpful’, potentially critical data is withheld, the hockey stick fiasco, shiftiness about the 15 year blip. Maybe this sort of thing is more common in science generally than one likes to admit, but… a suspicion that what really needs explaining in this area is the nature and cause of the scientific consensus. It is, in any case, a very bad argument to be told that we have to accept something because of a ‘consensus’; in science things are supposed to work the other way round! [My italics.]

I am quoting here from notes. We at the Danube Institute shall be publishing Professor O’Hear’s entire lecture in the near future. My amateur comments on it that follow here should therefore be read with caution until the full text arrives. But the dubious character of a scientific consensus arises from the contested nature of what science is and does. For these are less straightforward questions than they appear at first sight or in public debate.

To oversimplify brutally, for about half the period between 1945 and today, the theory of science that probably held greatest sway rested on the notion of “falsification” advanced by Karl Popper in a 1934 book (revised and re-published in 1960 as The Logic of Scientific Discovery.) A new scientific theory might be confirmed any number of times by “positive” experimental results without being proved true; but a single negative result was enough to prove it false. Science had to be capable of being falsified.

Of course, it didn’t work out exactly that way in practice. If you had a nice little theory that had been put on a pedestal and greatly admired by learned societies until some provincial hobbledehoy came along with his annoyingly negative test results, you didn’t just smile manfully and rip up your application letter to the Nobel Prize Committee. You set about demonstrating that his test results were wrong. And since many experimental results are wrong, falsifying a theory was very rarely a simple matter of one negative result. It was more like an American football game between two equally matched teams, each trying to shove the other towards the goal line.

That’s why Thomas Kuhn’s 1962 book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, challenged Popper’s falsification theory by suggesting that scientific knowledge advances not by passing or failing some “objective” test but because scientists gradually come to believe that as between different sets of scientific ideas, one theory is preferable to another—in Kuhnian language, there are “competing paradigms” until one replaces another in a “paradigm shift.” If you wish, you can use the word “consensus” to describe the results of that shift, provided you realize that it too is as provisional as a theory about to be falsified.

Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages. Popper’s theory is useful because it gives you an objective way of advancing or confirming knowledge; Kuhn’s approach is a better explanation of what scientists actually do and how they decide questions. One result is that two competing paradigms (or accounts of reality) may exist side by side for a long period, maybe indefinitely, until…

Thus, some theories of global warming have generated predictions that have already been falsified, but the overall concept is still supported by a large number of scientists because they haven’t found a better explanation of climate change. So the experiments may bark, but the global warming caravan passes on. It is all a little less cut-and-dried than the clinical certainty the word Science suggests to us.

Now, throw in a third factor—government funding of scientific research. That presents to scientists a set of incentives that may also be a conflict of interest. If scientists are humanly reluctant to abandon a theory under attack if it has enhanced their professional reputation, would they not be still more defensive on its behalf if it also carries a substantial program grant?

Thus, the more that climate change orthodoxy is either questioned reasonably or refuted altogether on specific points, the more unjustifiable any uniform consensus of science or journalism becomes. And the more scientists openly debate their differences, the more reporters should impartially describe the controversies rather than simply announcing the winners. But let Anthony O’Hear have the final word (emphasis mine):

‘Global warming’ and the tactics of its scientific proponents look much more like a political campaign than a scientific matter. It is internationalist (seeking to reduce the influence and prosperity of nation states in the face of a ‘global’ threat); it is absolutist (brooking no compromise or negotiation); it rides roughshod over other interests (e.g. for food, for power); it sacrifices the present for an unknowable future; it discounts the benefits of warming; it is a single issue campaign (ignoring the rest of life and other values); and finally, by seeking to bankrupt the developed nations of the West by driving fuel costs up unsustainably, it will actually undermine the potential (through research and development) to deal with the problem, to the extent that there is one.

These are not topics that in democracy we can put in a box marked “Not in front of the Voters” and congratulate ourselves on our social responsibility. John O’Sullivan is editor-at-large of National Review, editor of Australia’s Quadrant, and President of the Danube Institute. He has served in the past as associate editor of the London Times, editorial and op-ed editor for Canada’s National Post, and special adviser to Margaret Thatcher. He is the author of The President, the Pope and the Prime Minister: Three Who Changed the World.

80 thoughts on “The Quick Brown Scientist Jumps Over the Lazy Hack

  1. IMPORTANT!

    This John O’Sullivan is the one who I call “the good John O’Sullivan.” He is “editor-at-large of National Review, editor of Australia’s Quadrant, and President of the Danube Institute. He has served in the past as associate editor of the London Times, editorial and op-ed editor for Canada’s National Post, and special adviser to Margaret Thatcher. He is the author of The President, the Pope and the Prime Minister: Three Who Changed the World.

    Do not confuse him with “the bad John O’Sullivan,” who runs the “Principia Scientific” (Skydragon) disinformation site.

    • Thank you for that. Somehow the article didn’t seem quite right. That’s because I misunderstood who the author was. disambiguation

      There are a whole pile of folks named John O’Sullivan or John Sullivan.

      • Some of the phrasing is odd in the article.

        “Mr. Shellenberger has Green credentials up to the kazoo”

        I believe the phrase is “up the kazoo”, but maybe a stray “to” crept into the kazoo.

        Also: “the high ethical principle that some topics are too important for their readers and subscribers to understand.”

        Was he just making a pun? Or did he mean “too technical or complex”?

        And lastly: [My italics.]

        The entire paragraph is in italics. Maybe he didn’t realize that the style sheet for this wordpress theme would italicize his blockquote.

        • I believe the phrase is “up the wazoo”. A kazoo is a musical instrument (requiring no particular talent to play).

          • Now see, I’ve always heard it as “out the wazoo”.

            And yes I know about the kazoo, but that’s how I’ve always heard that first phrase.

          • My personal favorite was ‘pack my bags with six dozen liquor jugs’. Also, I wonder how many of these so-called journalists have covered a cafe fire at two in the morning, or sat through a boring three hour city council meeting while learning their trade.

          • Pablo:
            or sat through a boring three hour city council meeting while learning their trade.

            No problemo, that’s what candy-crush on their iphones are for.

      • Me, too! For a time, I thought it was the O’Sullivan who appeared in that picture of raising the flag on Mount Suribachi. You know, Marine O’Sullivan.

  2. As someone of 70+ years of age now, I find myself gobsmacked at the answers I now get to the simple question I been have asking people for most of my life, i.e. –
    “why do you think say that?”

    In times past, this question was almost always the starter for an interesting, sometimes very spirited discussion about the merits or otherwise of any particular matter.

    But nowadays, I invariably get a response to my set-piece question which is some variant or other of the phrase –
    “well, it’s what everybody thinks. google it.”

    I’m fast concluding that modern western society is at that same state of mindset that precluded The Enlightenment.

    I’m just sad that I won’t be around to partake in the next great Enlightenment that humankind must experience if it is to avoid self-inflicted intellectual bankruptcy.

      • I thought I had typed “why do you SAY that”.

        But alas, at 70+, brain, eyes and fingers don’t always work in sync 🙁

        • Hey Mr.
          I just thought you had left out the “or” as in “Why do you think, or say that?”
          What ever, it was plain, your basic opening of such conversations was attempting to encourage thought.
          Your observations and thoughts, are no doubt shared by most of us over fifty years old.
          I personally find it strange, that in the modern world conforming with authority is the preferred stance of the younger generation or “woke” as they have claimed as their collective name? The influence of immediate communication with its rapid response and opinion bombing systems, is clearly to blame. Social media is not advancing society it is homogenising it. It would actually be more accurately named if called, “anti social media”.
          The modern woke stance is, the ministry of truth is out there and must be followed. Orwell’s 1984 novel, should become a compulsory read before any student is allowed to enter college. Get your face (in that) book you twitters and start thinking for yourselves.

          • “I personally find it strange, that in the modern world conforming with authority is the preferred stance of the younger generation or “woke” as they have claimed as their collective name?”

            Yes, it used to be that the younger generation was non-conformist and proud of it.

            I think the mass communication we have now has had an influence.

            People have a tendency to conform to what they consider the societal majority view. It comes right from when humans lived in tribal groups and the voice of authority, the Cheif, was sought out for his experience and wisdom. He’s been there. The younger folks have not. So they listen to him as a mean of saving their own lives by doing smart things the Cheif recommends rather than doing stupid, unrecommended things that will cause one to lose their life.

            So the “voice of authority” and listening to it, is a positive human development. Unfortunately, the current societal voice of authority, the News Media, has been taken over by political activists who are creating false realities for people to live in and confusing the issue to the point of being dangerous to the people’s welfare, and doing it all for political gain.

            Now the “Voice of Authority” has changed into the “Voice of Political Lies”. We don’t have a societal voice of authority we can count on now. We are adrift in a Sea of Leftwing Lies.

          • Books are hard. And 1984 is word dense and complex, with novel language that isn’t used in modern communication. Everyone claims to read it – (my 20 year old daughter had it as mandatory reading in high school only a couple of years ago) but few grasp the relativity to today’s world. Instead they are quite content to follow.

            The woke crowd wants to kill free speech, plain and simple. They don’t understand what they are asking for. Not one bit.

          • In order to be “woke”, the first thing you need to do is to stop thinking for yourself.

    • I find myself gobsmacked at the answers I now get to the simple question I been have asking people for most of my life, i.e. –
      “why do you think/say that?”

      But nowadays, I invariably get a response to my set-piece question which is some variant or other of the phrase –
      “well, it’s what everybody thinks. google it.”

      To which the appropriate reply would be “oh, so you don’t think you just mindlessly regurgitate what others have told you, so why should I listen to anything you have to say?” and walk away with a dismissive wave of the hand and a “bye-Felicia” (at 70+ you might not get that last reference, but the young mindless parrot will).

    • I believe you are asking just the right question even if the wording was botched. When people hold a view religiously as is common with many current social trends (global warming, veganism, political affiliations, economic theories etc.), whether the are correct or wrong in their conclusions, it is unlikely that debate or presentation of new facts will change their course of thought. I think that inviting them to examine how they came to their conclusions and what sort of intellectual foundation underpins those conclusions is probably more effective at introducing circumspection than argument. Asking questions is more effective than stating your own opinion and factual foundation.

      • “whether the are correct or wrong in their conclusions, it is unlikely that debate or presentation of new facts will change their course of thought”

        That’s because posting anything questioning or contrary will not garner any “likes”.

        And “likes” is the most valued currency for wokesters.

  3. A very good article – thank you! Bookmarked.

    As an aside, Schellenberger’s article that was removed by Forbes has just been republished in full by The Spectator magazine in the UK.

    • I may now subscribe to the Spectator, they keep pushing me, so maybe the awakening is taking place.
      The Michaels’ are coming out of the dark, first Moore, now Schellenberger,, I wonder if Mickey the Mann will be moved to venture into the light….I am not betting on it.

  4. Both Popper and Kuhn were ‘right’, but approached the scientific ‘truth’ problem differently. Latge overlap. I explored this in the intro and first chapter of my ebook The Arts of Truth (even the title is an illustration of the underlying actual theme, because the book illustrates the arts of untruth in exploring critical thinking.

    A single Famous example illustrates both and the overlap. Before the wave/particle duality explanation Einstein won his Nobel for (by explaining the photoelectric effect in 1905) light was thought to be a wave, as Newton demonstrated to explain the rainbow colors produced by prisms. Solid science. But waves travel through a medium like a prism. Hence the notion of the ‘luminiferous aether’ in the vacuum of space. Must not be a vacuum somehow. Very Kuhnian paradigm. That it did not exist was proven by the 1887 Michelson Morley interferometry experiment (no Doppler shift). Very Popperian. And then along came Einstein’s alternate explanation , and the ‘light’ paradigm shifted rapidly. Very Kuhnian.

    • Rud,
      you are confusing a number of different things and concepts. Firstly Newton thought that light was
      a particle. And explained diffraction of light in a prism using that concept. It wasn’t until Young showed
      that you could see interference effects (Young’s double slit experiment) that physicists believed that
      light was a wave. Then Planck showed that you could only explain black body radiation if you assumed the existence of photons and then a few years later in 1905 Einstein explained the photo-electric effect using photons. Physicists however did not believe in photons until Compton’s experiments which showed x-rays scattering of high energy electrons in the early 1920s (i.e. over 15 years after Einstein’s work).

      The existence or otherwise of the ether had nothing to do with whether or not light was a particle or a wave. And the Michelson Morely experiment had plenty of different explanations. Fitzgerald for instance suggested that objects became shorter when travelling at high speed through the ether. While Morley went on to conduct various other experiments that claimed to show that the ether did exist.

  5. “The amount of land we use for meat—humankind’s biggest use of land—has declined by an area nearly as large as Alaska.” Perhaps partly because of some rather unpleasant farming practices?

    Anyway, a significant proportion of Amazon deforestation is to grow soyabean for bio-fuel and vegan food. The greens like to pretend in Brazil it is all used for evil cattle feed. Even if that is strictly true, it’s a daft distinction, because ultimately if you create new/more demand for something, more has to be grown – it’s a global market, so Brazil will be increasing production above where it would have been without ‘green’ uses.

    • What could be more green and more vegan than cattle. The moment they snip off a mouthful of grass, the grass immediately starts to grow its replacement. Indeed, the fact you can get three cuts of hay from Pennsylvania and south, is a measure of how fast it is replaced, unlike the 60- 80 years for hardwoods fed to the Drax power station in UK to regrow.

      Besides cattle replaced millions of buffalo and other herbivores (animal vegans) that would only restock themselves if the beef land was restored to nature. Gee is this too complicated for 97% of atmospheric physicists? Would they be happy if after this change we helped the planet by shooting millions of farting buffalo to eat?

      • “What could be more green and more vegan than cattle.”

        There was an article published on WUWT a year or so ago (can’t find it right now), that claimed cows are so green and CO2 friendly that farmers ought to be being paid extra to raise them.

  6. “Kuhn’s approach is a better explanation of what scientists actually do and how they decide questions …”.

    I’m out of my depth, here goes: Kuhn’s approach was historical or retrospective, he saw the development of science as some mass movement, an approach followed by Oreskes.
    Popper’s view was of individual scientists constantly testing prevailing ‘paradigms’.
    Oreskes et al. fall for the is-ought fallacy: “The is–ought problem, as articulated by the Scottish philosopher and historian David Hume, states that many writers make claims about what ought to be, based on statements about what is” (Wiki).

    This is a good test of critical thinking: There are four cards, each with a letter on one side and a number on the other side. The proposition is: If there is a vowel on one side of a card, then there must be an even number on the other side. Which cards must be turned over to determine if the rule holds true?
    http://icbseverywhere.com/blog/wp-content/media/2011/11/Wason.jpg

    • The rule we are testing is whether all vowels have an even number on the other side.

      The rule doesn’t prevent consonants from having even numbers. Therefore we can ignore the K. It doesn’t matter what is on the other side.

      If the 7 has a vowel on the other side, the rule is wrong so we have to turn over the 7.

      No matter what is on the other side of the 4, it doesn’t disconfirm the rule. We can ignore the 4.

      If the E has an odd number on the other side, the rule is falsified.

      So, we have to turn over the 7 and the E. If the four cards shown are the only cards there are, then we can say whether or not the rule is true. If there are more cards, the best we can say is that the rule hasn’t been proved false yet. It depends on your definition of “holds true”.

      If there are more cards, all the vowels and all the odd numbers have to be turned over to see if the rule is actually true. There’s nothing in the problem that limits the number of cards. There could be millions.

  7. The ability to think for one’s self has never been widely held, it’s just that people who managed to get science degrees often had the ability.

    Now, everyone gets a degree in something – most of them are worthless pieces of paper that were earned without actually learning to think critically or as an individual. So many areas of study are referred to as a science – but they aren’t. If you can’t verify a result then at best it’s an opinion, or maybe a hypothesis if you have some way of testing it, but it isn’t yet science.

    Psychology is an example of non-science. Some of it is based on science – the physical studies of brain function – but most is just someone’s often very biased opinion and it will fail to be reproduced. Social Sciences are even worse. Climate Science is a pseudo-science based on incomplete and false understanding of real physics and computer modeling.

    Journalism was never a science, but at least it used to have people of some integrity trying to report facts to a wide audience. Now it should be referred to as the Propaganda Police – most journalists have been taught their job is not reporting facts but instead swaying opinion – never mind the truth or integrity. Main stream media news is mostly flat-out attempts at opinion control for political gain. They would have been right at home serving Hitler in Nazis Germany back in the 1030’s. The puzzling point to this is that they are not even able to see this about themselves as they crusade for their personal favorite agendas.

    The ability of some elites to take advantage of this for their own ends is the dangerous part. Mostly they just line their pockets, but the truly dangerous ones are after political control.

      • Freedom of the press belongs to the folks who own the press.

        I remember (dimly) when a newspaper (Regina Leader Post?) was bought by a Jewish family. A journalist, who quickly thereafter became unemployed, wrote a pro-Palestinian article to demonstrate the above axiom.

    • “The puzzling point to this is that they are not even able to see this about themselves as they crusade for their personal favorite agendas.”

      People see what they want to see.

      People are always seeking to validate their opinions by getting confirmation from others. If they don’t get confirmation, then they either change their mind about their opinion, or they ignore the problem idea and assume they are correct and the inconvenient fact that disturbs their world view must be wrong.

  8. The other thing in Kuhn’s book is that the paradigm doesn’t really shift until the old generation of scientists die off.

    The paradigm never shifts, it only fades away. To coin a phrase.

  9. I fondly remember a Journalism class I took way back in 1972.the teacher was a war correspondent, AP stringer, and worked for the US Government (Likely the OSS) When Watergate broke later on He wrote column in his local weekly that he published-saying : “If you want to make a difference,become a Doctor. Journalism is simply the world’s second oldest profession.”

    • Nixon did bad things, and the journalists were right to uncover them.
      The real scandal is that Democrat politicians routinely did much worse, but those same journalists had no interest in uncovering those scandals.

    • “Journalism is simply the world’s second oldest profession.”

      And it’s less honest about what it does than the world’s first oldest profession.

  10. Climate science has been politicized. That is a fact.
    Many think that we skeptics are anti science and that we are imagining that the scientists that are pushing DAGW could ever be wrong .
    The news media is brain washing the worlds population that we have to stop using fossil fuel as it will cause runaway global warming.
    There is no proof that the doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere will cause more than 1degree Celsius of warming.
    Others who are skeptical still believe that there is no world wide concerted attempt to destroy our western way of life and standard of living .
    They think that we are making up this perceived threat.
    Any country that bans or severely restricts fossil fuel use and does not compensate with nuclear power will become very poor.
    Even in countries such as Norway and New Zealand where more than 90% of electricity generated by hydro
    and wind fossil fuel is essential in so many facets of modern living.
    What these people wont tell you is that China and India have increased coal consumption by a massive amount .
    Coal production world wide has soared from under 5 billion Tones in 2009 to over 8 billion tones now and America and Europe have cut production in that time.
    Here in New Zealand our Prime Minister had a (nuclear moment ) and banned any new oil and gas exploration off our coast .
    When our gas fields run dry all industries dependent on gas will have to close or find far more expensive gas from overseas .
    This is the sort of madness that those in charge inflict on countries without any thought for the population .
    Our government wants to plant a billion trees and good farmland is being sold to foreign buyers to plant forests for carbon farming .The trees will never be harvested and the carbon credits will flow overseas.
    This is crass stupidity as farming the land employs people and supports rural towns and the farms export to the world and earn foreign exchange for New Zealand .
    These are some of the stupid decisions being made on faulty science that will impact on many countries .
    Graham also +70

    • Actually Graham if you talk to any NZ geophysicists they will tell you that the PM’s banning
      of oil and gas exploration was an empty gesture since there aren’t any potential fields large
      enough to make it worth companies investing in exploiting them.

    • The issue with China, especially, is that the Greens have completely swallowed that claims that because China has increased its wind & solar by x-fold, they’re abandoning coal & are “ World leaders” in “Green” energy.

      • The Chinese say that they are going to increase wind and solar.
        There is no evidence that they have done anything.

  11. “That’s why Thomas Kuhn’s 1962 book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, challenged Popper’s falsification theory by suggesting that scientific knowledge advances not by passing or failing some “objective” test but because scientists gradually come to believe that as between different sets of scientific ideas, one theory is preferable to another—in Kuhnian language, there are “competing paradigms”

    But they still have to get the math right, one would think. Science differs from a purer form of philosophy in that way.

    https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/04/09/climate-statistics/

    https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/04/22/climate-science-uncertainty/

    https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/05/18/12479/

  12. If some renegade researcher has a hunch that something being overlooked is in fact key, he cannot rerun the past while changing only what he thinks is important — obviously — and that is why climatology is not an experimental science. Popper and Kuhn were trying to explain how the **experimental** sciences work, and since climatology is not an experimental science, you cannot in good faith apply their ideas to it. Not everything based on brain-cracking math and inconceivably-large computer programs qualifies as an experimental science.

    • I’m not sure that is correct. For one thing I don’t think either Popper or Kuhn made the distinction between experimental science and some other type. Also, if Popper’s theory holds water all science is experimental. At some point observation of the real world is made and the theory can be falsified.

      Climate ‘science’ makes predictions and we can then see if predicted states eventuate. If the predicted states, (e.g. specific higher temperature ranges, tropospheric hotspots, increased weather disasters), do not come about then the experiment is complete and the theory falsified. If the predicted states are observed, as in Einstein’s gravitational lens theory, then the theory lives on unfalsified.

      • If by “climate ‘science’” you mean the hypothesis that “it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of observed warming since 1950” etc. then none of the observations you mention would be valid tests of it.

        • I simply mean that these things have been predicted by climate scientists and they have not been observed in real life. Therefore their models have been falsified; they are wrong.

      • Until they can figure out what caused the Medieval, Roman, Minoan warm periods and what caused the Holocene optimum and then prove that whatever caused them isn’t causing the Modern warm period, then they can’t state with any certainty that CO2 is playing any role in the Modern warm period, much less the dominate one.

  13. “He has served in the past as associate editor of the London Times,”

    How did he manage that? There is no such newspaper.

    There is The Times, which is published in London, and is the paper from which all the cheap knock-offs get their names by adding a geographic reference to the title. ( The Times of India, The Irish Times, The Straits Times, The New York Times, and so forth.)

  14. The one I remember is “Dad had a salad” – that’s as far as I got before I switched classes to driver education.
    I know how to drive now, but I don’t know how to type ! Damn !

    – JPP

    • I took typing in High School. (1 guy, 20 girls)
      I had gym right before that class. On the day we started practicing the ‘Z’ key, I jammed my left pinkie playing volley ball.

  15. “…the overall concept is still supported by a large number of scientists because they haven’t found a better explanation of climate change. ”

    Natural variation!
    You’re welcome.

    • They haven’t been able to figure out what caused any of the recorded variations in climate over the last 20,000 years.

      Yet they know with absolute certainty that the current warming is caused by CO2 because they can’t think of anything else that might have caused it.

      Only in climate science could one get away with that kind of logical fallacy.

  16. At this moment the Amazon rankings for Apocalypse Never are:

    Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
    #1 in Climatology
    #1 in Environmental Policy
    #1 in Technology (Books)

    It would seem that Shellenburger hasn’t been censored in a meaningful way. I’m curious to see how the rankings hold up over time.

    The hardcover isn’t available in Canada on Amazon or Chapters/Indigo or at my local book monger. Does that mean they didn’t print enough and were surprised by the strong sales?

  17. “the overall concept is still supported by a large number of scientists because they haven’t found a better explanation of climate change” I heard Bob Watson say this to Lindzen in a TV debate in the UK, they cant explain it any other way than CO2, so it has to be.

    This is a fit up, a frame. The other 3 million years cant be explained either, why latch on to CO2 to explain the last 60? It strikes me as being incredibly unscientific.

    The wonderful thing about science is that it can proudly say ‘I dont know’. And then propose an experiment to find out, and in so doing it inches forward in knowledge, and usefulness. Usefulness in making and moulding the world around us to make our lives more comfortable. It doesnt seek to know all the answers, to have to use a blanket ‘god moves in mysterious ways’ get out clause when it hits the unknown.

    ‘I dont know’ is an admirable response. It shows a clear thinking and intelligent mind.

  18. Science is not a democracy. The majority have often been wrong.
    “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.” Einstein
    “The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.” Marcus Aurelius

  19. From the article: “The problem with modern journalism is that much of its energy goes into suppressing news”

    This may be a nitpik, but it doesn’t take much energy or effort to remain silent.

  20. Funny. In today’s Bizarro-marx-world, kid stands on street-corner w/iphone in hand shouting,“Don’t read all about it!!!”

  21. From the article: “Thus, some theories of global warming have generated predictions that have already been falsified, but the overall concept is still supported by a large number of scientists because they haven’t found a better explanation of climate change.”

    Mother Nature works for me. 🙂

  22. From the article: “Now, throw in a third factor—government funding of scientific research. That presents to scientists a set of incentives that may also be a conflict of interest. If scientists are humanly reluctant to abandon a theory under attack if it has enhanced their professional reputation, would they not be still more defensive on its behalf if it also carries a substantial program grant?”

    And throw in a fourth factor: The United Nations and its official mandate to find Human-caused climate change, and if they can’t find it, then they just lie and claim they have, because it’s their mandate, and it serves their agenda for accumulating more political power and money. It’s a biased setup from the very beginning, focused on blaming humans for how the climate behaves. This is not science, it’s activism. Activism that is detrimental to the entire World.

  23. “The Quick Brown Scientist …”

    Now you have done it. Implying that brown scientists are more athletic than other scientists.

    Cancel culture uber alles.

  24. To me, Kuhn’s approach makes sense for the layman, but experts in the field who wish to be called “scientists” should be following Popper. If someone claims to have data that falsifies your theory, then you should of course take a close look at it. If you can’t confirm their results, then reject their falsification and continue on, otherwise withdraw your theory until you can either fix it or replace it with something better.

    The big problem, of course, is uncertainty. Highly educated people just don’t want to admit that there are not only things they don’t know, but *can’t* know (usually due to limits on data and/or ability to perform experiments). This leads them into the area of conjecture which Popper’s methods really can’t address, but fit will within Kuhn’s approach. This is where we are with “climate science”.

  25. Comically, Forbes.com does not know how to remove a story from their own website. If you go to https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2020/06/28/on-behalf-of-environmentalists-i-apologize-for-the-climate-scare/#5ef6db651fa8, you do, in fact, get an overlay page saying “This page is no longer active.” Thew overlay page is not quite fully opaque and you can see some of covered page beneath. Pressing Ctrl-U when viewing a web page gets you the source HTML of that page. And, when you Ctrl-U shellenberger’s article on Forbes you get the entire page, including the full text. It is a little ugly. But, it’s there. So, Forbes took it down…. sort of….

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