Facts and Theories, Updated

By Andy May

In 2016, I published a post entitled “Facts and Theories.” It has been one of my most popular posts and often reblogged. I updated the post extensively for my new book, Politics and Climate Change: A History. This post is a condensed version of what is in the book.

Sometimes people ask climate skeptics if they believe in evolution or gravity. They want to ridicule our skepticism by equating human-caused, aka anthropogenic, climate change to evolution or gravity. Evolution and gravity are facts and anthropogenic climate change is a hypothesis. Equating “climate change” to gravity or evolution is valid, as all three are facts. Climate changes, gravity holds us to Earth’s surface and species evolve.

Karl Popper, the famous philosopher, would say that these observed phenomena are not scientific hypotheses or theories because they are not falsifiable (Popper, 1962). How can you prove or disprove that climate changes?

There are other ideas that Popper calls pseudoscience. These are ideas that are framed in such a way that no matter what one observes, the observation can be seen to confirm the idea. Popper offers Marx’s theory of history as an example. Popper observes “that a Marxist could not open a newspaper without finding, on every page, confirming evidence” for the theory. Freud’s theories were the same, every clinical case was a confirmation of Freud’s ideas. It was precisely this fact, that evidence always fit these ideas, that was their weakness. A theory that is not refutable by any conceivable event, is not scientific (Popper, 1962, pp. 35-36). Astrology is another example.

Popper asked himself in 1919 how Marxism, Freud and astrology differed from truly scientific ideas like Newton’s law of gravity or Einstein’s theory of relativity. He realized that the latter could be tested and proven false. He was inspired by Frank Dyson, Andrew Crommelin and Arthur Eddington’s confirmation of Einstein’s theory of relativity during the solar eclipse of May 29th, 1919. Einstein’s theory predicted that starlight would curve around the Sun, due to gravity. Newton’s Law of Gravity also predicts a deflection, but Einstein’s theory predicted a deflection twice as large. Their observations during the eclipse showed that it happened exactly as Einstein predicted (Coles, 2019).

This was the first real confirmation of Einstein’s theory and it was based on a risky prediction. A confirmation of a theory must include a risky prediction of things that cannot or will happen if the theory is true. Theories should predict things successfully and they should forbid things and the more they forbid the better. Confirmations do not prove a theory, but they allow it to survive.

Popper draws a bright line between science and pseudoscience. Scientific hypotheses and theories predict what will happen and what will not happen if the idea is true. Pseudoscience draws no such line.

In other words, if a war happens and someone became rich from it, that does not verify Marx’s view of history. Marx would have had to predict the man would become rich and would have to admit that if the man stayed poor, he was wrong. We must be able to imagine how the theory can be disproven.

Gravity and evolution have generally accepted theories of how they work. Einstein developed our current scientific theory of gravity. Newton provided us with his descriptive “Law of Gravitation.” Newton’s law tells us what gravity does and it is useful, but it tells us nothing about how it works. For that we need Einstein’s theory of relativity.

In the scientific community, for both a law and a theory, a single conflicting experiment or observation invalidates them. Stories exist that either Einstein or Popper once said something like:

“No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.” (author unknown)

Both said similar things, both believed that no scientific theory is ever proven, they can only be disproven. So, let us examine our topics in that light. Newton’s descriptive law of gravity, based on mass and distance, are there any exceptions? Only on solar-system-sized scales, near black holes and on small atomic scales. In everyday life on Earth, Newton’s law works fine. How about Einstein’s theory of gravity (Relativity), any exceptions? None that we know of at any scale.

How about evolution? Species evolve, we can see that in the geological record (Jepson, Mayr, & Simpson, 1949). We can also watch it happen in some quickly reproducing species (Wilcox, 2011) and (Soltis & Soltis, 1989). Thus, we could describe evolution as a fact. It happens, but we cannot describe how without more work. Early theories of the evolutionary process include Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection (Darwin, 1859) and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck’s theory of heritable species adaptation due to external environmental stresses. Lamarck did not originate the idea of heritable adaptation; it was commonly believed long before he was born. But he did incorporate it into his ideas on new species evolution.

Current epigenetic research (Nature, 2020) shows that Darwin and Lamarck were both right and that evolution involves both processes. For a summary of recent research into the epigenetic component of evolution see this Oxford Journal article (Mendizabal, Keller, Zeng, & Yi, 2014). Natural selection plays an important role in extinction, since species who cannot adapt to a new environment extirpate. Lamarckian-type heritable adaptation plays a critical role in how new, more robust varieties and species evolve.

Lamarck first presented his new idea that that the various species on Earth gradually evolved from the simplest to the most complex in two lectures on May 17th, 1802 at the Paris Museum of Natural History. The first lecture was to his students and the second to his fellow professors. The second was accompanied by a report (Lamarck, 1802). As Richard Burkhardt, a historian at the University of Illinois describes, Lamarck’s ideas were ground-breaking and revolutionized biology, but this was not recognized at the time (Burkhardt, 2013).

Modern DNA research describes how adaptations can be inherited. John Smythies of the University of California and his colleagues explain that environmental stress normally leaves a creatures DNA unaltered, but sperm do not just carry DNA to the ovum, they also carry a wide variety of RNA molecules, which regulate the expression and the timing of various parts of the DNA. Stress affects these RNA molecules and they affect the development and characteristics of the offspring (Smythies, Edelstein, & Ramachandran, 2014).

As science progresses, well-established facts and scientific laws rarely change but theories do evolve. Facts and laws are easily dismissed when contradictory data are gathered and, sometimes, reinstated as we learn more. The modern theory of evolution is a good example of where competing theories can merge into one and a dismissed theory can be reinstated.

Most scientific theories begin as hypotheses. A hypothesis is best described as an idea of what might be causing a specific event to occur. As discussed above, both hypotheses and theories must be falsifiable. “Climate change” is not falsifiable, it is not a scientific hypothesis or a theory. Popper would describe “climate change” as pseudoscience since any weather event can be, and often is, interpreted as supporting the idea, much like the Marxist with his newspaper.

Man-made or anthropogenic climate change is a proper scientific hypothesis since it is falsifiable. Science is mostly skepticism. We look for what does not fit, we poke at established facts and laws, at theories and hypotheses. We try and find flaws; we check the numbers. Worse, science done properly means we spend more time proving ourselves and others wrong than we do proving we are right. Life is tough sometimes and scientists rarely win popularity contests.

Table 1, below, is a table of phrases. Each is identified as a fact, theory, law, hypothesis, or simply an idea. We can see that anthropogenic climate change and the possibility of an anthropogenic climate change catastrophe are not comparable to the theories of relativity and evolution. Anthropogenic climate change is more than an idea, it is based on some observations and reasonable models of the process. But none of the climate models have successfully predicted global warming with any accuracy. The theories of relativity and evolution have each made successful predictions with great accuracy and precision.

As Popper said, the proponents of anthropogenic climate change must make risky predictions that become true to claim their hypothesis is a valid theory. Anthropogenic climate change is still a work-in-progress and not a scientific theory. It is certainly not a fact.

Only validated and reproducible models and experiments, with no exceptions, can be used to support a scientific theory. The opinions of scientists and politicians are not relevant. This is not to say that anthropogenic climate change or the possibility of an anthropogenic climate change disaster are disproven, it is just to say that no valid evidence exists to support these hypotheses.

The idea of man-made climate change causing a catastrophe at the scale of Islamic terrorism or weapons of mass destruction, as John Kerry claimed in 2014 (Almasy, 2014), is pure speculation. The models used to compute human influence on global average surface temperature don’t match observations, this is easily seen in Figure 1 which is John Christy’s graph of IPCC climate model predictions versus satellite and weather balloon observations (Christy, 2016). Satellite and weather balloon measurements are independent of one another and they are independent of the various surface temperature datasets, like HadCRUT4 shown in Figure 2. All the curves on the plot have been smoothed with five-year moving averages. The five-year averages are to remove short-term weather events, like El Niños and La Niñas (NOAA, 2020). Climate is normally defined as changes over 30 years or longer.

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Figure 1. A comparison of IPCC/CMIP5 climate model predictions to 3 satellite and 4 weather balloon datasets. The graph is from John Christy’s 2016 testimony to the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology (Christy, 2016).

The line going through the observations is the Russian model “INM-CM4” (Volodin, Dianskii, & Gusev, 2010). It is the only model that comes close matching observations. INM-CM4, over longer periods, does very well at hindcasting observed temperatures. Ron Clutz is a blogger and Canadian management consultant with a degree in chemistry from Stanford. Clutz has studied INM-CM4 and has written that it uses a CO2 forcing response (ECS) that is 37% lower than the other models, roughly 2°C per doubling of CO2. It also uses a much higher deep ocean heat capacity (climate system inertia) and it exactly matches lower tropospheric water content and is biased low above that. The other models are biased high (Clutz, 2015). The Russian model predicts future temperature increases at a rate of about 1°C/century, not at all alarming and much lower than the predictions of the other models. The average of the other models predicts warming of 2.15°C/century. The observed linear warming trend for the globe, according the UAH (University of Alabama in Huntsville) satellite record, since 1979, is 1.3°C per century at the time of this writing (April 4, 2020) (Spencer, 2020). Figure 2 shows that warming, according to the Met Hadley Center/Climatic Research Unit over the past century has been about 0.8⁰C.

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Figure 2. The Met Office Hadley Center and the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia global average temperature reconstruction since 1850. It is divided into warming and cooling periods. Overall, it shows ~0.8°C warming in the 20th century.

One can consider each climate model, shown in Figure 1, model to be a digital experiment. The range of predicted warming from these digital experiments is over one degree from 1979 to 2025. This exceeds the average CMIP5 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5) predicted warming of one degree since 1979. Compare the CMIP5 prediction to the actual warming trend of 0.5°C, as measured by UAH and reported by Roy Spencer (Spencer, 2020). The range of model results and the comparison to actual measurements does not give us confidence in the accuracy of the models. Yet, the IPCC uses the difference between the mean model temperature predictions with and without computed human impact since 1950 to compute the human influence on climate (Bindoff & Stott, 2013, p. 879). In Figure 3, after Bindoff and Stott, their Figure 10.1, page 879, we see the CMIP3 (AR4) model runs as faint light-blue lines, the CMIP5 (AR5) model runs as faint yellow lines and the model averages as heavier blue (CMIP3-AR4) and red (CMIP5-AR5) lines. Overlain on the plot are surface temperature measurements as a heavy black line.

In Figure 3, graph (a), the models use a scenario that the IPCC believes represents both natural and human climate forcings. In graph (b) they use a model scenario that they believe represents only natural (that is, non-human) climate forcings.

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Figure 3. IPCC AR5 Figure 10.1, page 879. The graphs illustrate how the IPCC computes the human influence on climate. The red and blue lines are models assuming no human forcing (b) and with human forcing (a). The black lines are observed temperatures.

The graphs are quite small and cover over 150 years, but even so, significant departures of the observed temperatures from the model mean are quite apparent from 1910 to 1940 and from 2000 to 2010. Further the range of model results is annoyingly large. The Figure 3(b) graph shows a flat natural climate trend and all the observed temperature increase from 1950 to today is attributed to human influence. This result has generated a lot of criticism from Willie Soon, Ronan Connolly and Michael Connolly (Soon, Connolly, & Connolly, 2015), as well as Judith Curry, Marcia Wyatt (Wyatt & Curry, 2014), and others. Soon, Connolly, and Connolly (SCC15) believe the IPCC chose an inappropriate model of the variation in the Sun’s output (TSI or total solar irradiance).

There are many models of solar variation in the peer reviewed literature and which is correct is a topic of vigorous debate. Eight recent models are presented in Figure 8 of SCC15 (see our Figure 4). Only low solar variability models (those on the right of Figure 4) are used by the IPCC to compute man’s influence on climate although just as much evidence exists for the higher variability models on the left. The scales used in the graphs are all the same, but the top and bottom values vary. At minimum, the IPCC should have run two cases, one for high variability and one for low. SCC15 clearly shows that the model used makes a large difference in the calculation of human influence on the climate.

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Figure 4. Various peer-reviewed models of solar variability over the past 200 years. The IPCC uses low variability solar models like those on the right to compute natural variability so they can derive human influence as is shown in Figure 3. Source: (Soon, Connolly, & Connolly, 2015).

Marcia Wyatt and Judith Curry (Wyatt & Curry, 2014) or WC14 believe that natural temperature variation due to long term natural cycles is not represented correctly in Figure 3(b). Their “Stadium Wave” (Wyatt, 2014) suggests that considerable natural warming was taking place in the 1980s and 1990s. If the long term (approximately 30-year half cycle) oscillations described in WC14 were incorporated into Figure 3(b) the amount of warming attributed to humans would be much less. Marcia Wyatt does consider variation in total solar irradiance to be a possible cause.

Any computer climate model must establish a track record before its output is used in calculations. The planet Earth is simply too complex and natural climate oscillations are poorly understood. If natural oscillations cannot be predicted they cannot be subtracted from observations to compute the human influence on climate. The debate is not whether humans influence climate, the debate is over how much we contribute and whether the additional warming is dangerous. The jury is still out. Certainly, the case for an impending catastrophe has not been made as this requires two speculative jumps. First, we need to assume that humans drive climate change, second, we need to assume this will lead to a catastrophe. One can predict a possible catastrophe if the most extreme model predictions are correct, but observations show they are not. Only INM-CM4 matches observations reasonably well and INM-CM4 does not predict anything remotely close to a catastrophe.

In the study of the process of evolution the problem is the same. Some believe that the dominant process is natural selection and epigenetic change is minor. Some believe the opposite. Everyone believes that both play a role. As in climate science, figuring out which process is dominant is tough.

Recent climate history (the “pause” in warming and the recent slow rate of warming) suggests that we have plenty of time to get our arms around this problem before doing anything drastic like destroying the fossil fuel industry and sending billions of people into poverty due to a lack of affordable energy. We owe a lot to cheap fossil fuels today. This was a point made by Roger Revelle and colleagues in 1988 and it is still true. If the projections in WC14 are correct, the “pause” may go on for quite a while, giving us much more time.

In summary, science is a process of disproving ideas that purport to show how natural events occur and why. Science cannot be used to prove anything. Scientific ideas and hypotheses can be proposed, but they must be falsifiable. If no one can disprove an idea, it survives. If it remains viable over a significant period, the idea becomes a theory.

Thus, climate scientists have not proven that humans control the climate with atmospheric emissions, nor could they ever do so. They also have not disproven that nature controls climate. This is their task, something they must do, if they expect to ever show humans are controlling it. There is abundant evidence that nature and solar variation play a large role in climate change. There is also quite a lot of evidence that greenhouse gases play a small role in influencing global warming as shown by Lindzen and Choi (Lindzen & Choi, 2011), Lewis and Curry (Lewis & Curry, 2018) and (Lewis & Curry, 2015). The median value and best estimate computed by Lewis and Curry is 1.5°C per doubling of CO2 (Lewis & Curry, 2018). This is a little less than the sensitivity (~2°C) computed from the Russian INM-CM4 climate model (Clutz, 2015). Their value is much less than the sensitivity computed from the average of the other climate models (~3.1°C). Lindzen and Choi compute an even smaller value, roughly 0.44°C per doubling of CO2 (ECS).

It cannot be said that these papers and other works by climate skeptics disprove the idea that humans have more control over Earth’s climate than nature and the Sun, but they do cast considerable doubt on the idea. There is no data that supports the idea of an impending climate catastrophe of any kind. There are ways to create a climate model that shows problematic warming in the far future, but a model can be constructed to do anything you want.

We have tried to show how science works, from a scientist’s perspective. Then we used this methodology to show the state of climate science in 2020. Climate scientists are vigorously debating the causes of climate change now and in the future. Alarmists have used models to predict an impending climate disaster. The skeptics have used observations to empirically calculate a much smaller effect of CO2 on climate. Traditionally and practically, observations rule. It seems unlikely that burning fossil fuels is dangerous.

Nothing is settled, nothing is proven, and nothing is disproven. This is a work in progress.

This is an abbreviated excerpt from my new book, Politics and Climate Change: A History.

To download the bibliography, click here.

208 thoughts on “Facts and Theories, Updated

  1. Newton’s Law of Gravity also predicts a deflection, but Einstein’s theory predicted a deflection twice as large
    It is fun to remember that in Einstein’s original paper on the deflection, he got it wrong and was off by a factor of two getting just the same as Newton…

      • It also passed the test of calculating the precession of the perihelion of Mercury – something Einstein was unaware of until Eddington asked if his theory might explain it.

      • “Einstein made some mistakes. But, his theory has held up quite well for the past 110 years. It certainly passed the test in 1919.”

        I think the phrase you are looking for is, “his theory has been propped up quite well for the past 110 years.”

        Had Einstein’s theory of general relativity been correct, there would be no need for scientists to have blind faith in “dark matter” and “dark energy” for so many years. Instead, the behavior of the universe would have matched Einstein’s theory.

        His special relativity theory also gets treated with “kid gloves”. Tell me: On which body does time change for two bodies traveling toward each other? Now, after you answer the question, then tell me what the answer would be if the observer were on the *other* body? Now answer honestly: Aren’t those two answers a logical contradiction?

        And, yes, there are theories out there which suffer from none of the problems and absurdities that Einstein’s theories espouse.

  2. Again with the silly misnomer

    CO2 is a RADIATIVE gas That is what laboratory tests show.

    It also is used by plants as part of their 3 main necessities for growth.

    CO2 in the atmosphere does not operate in any way like that of a greenhouse.

        • Yes, and this extends to much of the nomenclature used in climate science as proselytized by the IPCC, including such concepts as forcing, feedback, sensitivity, runaway, catastrophe, settled, etc.

        • ”That just plays into their hands.”

          Agreed! Only verifiable in the lab that co2 radiates not that it contributes to a ”greenhouse effect”
          It should be in the hypothesis column.

      • Just like human life does not evolve from conception, but from a point of social viability when it is deemed worthy of life. One of many semantic games played by a faith and quasi-religion (e.g. “ethics”) to rationalize social progress.

      • Smart greenhouse owners use CO2 enrichment systems to accelerate plant growth,
        Burning fossil fuels does the same thing on a global scale.
        So there IS a good reason to use the term ‘greenhouse effect’.

        • Smart greenhouse owners know they also need to add fertiliser, irrigation and pesticide and that they can contain all these alterations to a manageable space, so not the “same thing” at all.

          • Smart greenhouse growers KNOW that increased CO2 gives them FAR BETTER plant growth, be it in the greenhouse of outside the greenhouse

            Yes they have to keep a balance of other trace elements to match the increased plant growth

            Growers know this.

            Your comment was pointless and empty, as always. loy-dumb.

    • Yes, greenhouses work by trapping warm air. They don’t work by trapping radiation.
      It doesn’t prove anything, but it is ironic that they couldn’t even get the name right.
      Carbon dioxide isn’t a greenhouse gas. It’s a green gas.
      Another irony: farmers often pump additional CO2 into greenhouses in order to stimulate plant growth.

  3. Man can affect localised weather and temperature via land use .. especially urban heat effects

    Man does not affect GLOBAL climate.

    • fred250, There is no data you are wrong. The idea that GHGs warm the planet is speculation based on laboratory data. There are no measurements that show it is happening, it is all supposition. Thousands of scientists and hundreds of billions of US dollars and zip. Your government serving you!

      • fred250,

        Man does not affect GLOBAL climate.

        Sorry, I wasn’t clear. I was referring to the quote above. You say “Man does not affect GLOBAL climate.” This is a statement that I disagree with personally. Just my opinion, there is no data that I have seen that says you are wrong. It might well be that “Man does not affect GLOBAL climate.”

        Is that clearer? Either way the impact that man has on climate is very, very small. Immeasurable probably.

        • You weren’t so clear on this one either Andy –

          “Man-made or anthropogenic climate change is a proper scientific hypothesis since it is falsifiable.”

          Those are phrases not hypotheses. Did you miss out two “nots” in that sentence?

          A “failed conjecture” would be more accurate.

          • philincalifornia, I don’t understand what you are saying. The idea that humans are causing climate change, that is more than natural forces, is a proper hypothesis. If it is shown that nature is doing it, not humans, the idea is falsified. There is no problem there.

          • Andy –> I think you are missing the boat a little on how science should work to make discoveries. I have more steps involved in the process.

            1) Observation — Temperatures are rising.

            2) Theory — Increased CO2 from anthropogenic sources is causing the the temperature to rise.

            3) Hypothesis — (There are several that can arise from this theory, I’ll list just one.) CO2 acts as an insulator that slows the release of energy into space thereby raising the transient temperature. The higher temperature results in more water vapor that raises the temperature even further .

            4) Experiment — a) Examine temperature at low water vapor locations to determine if CO2 is raising the maximum temperatures and lengthening the transient time of energy release to space. b) Examine water vapor quantity for increases in those locations with higher temperatures.

            5) Conclusions

            I guess my thought is that a hypothesis is not just a restatement of a theory. It must be a detailed explanation of how the theory works, hopefully with attendant mathematics, and predict measurable outcomes from which falsifiable conclusions can arise. Not too different than what you describe.

            Something that bothers me is the lack of rigor in how and what CO2 does. In order to act as an insulator that slows heat transfer when there is a constant source of heat energy, one side must get warmer while the other side stays at a much lower temperature. In addition, when the heat source is removed, the time for the higher transient temperature to diminish should be amenable to some kind of math. That is, have night time temperatures stayed warmer longer with more CO2?

            All I ever see are studies that say so and so species is dying because of higher temperatures. I seldom, if ever, see documented data on how individuals react to higher temps. Do they die? Do they get more active? Do they reproduce more or less? Are their food sources compromised? Just more PPS (p**s poor science!

          • OK Andy, let me try again:. You said “Man-made climate change is a proper scientific hypothesis since it is falsifiable”.

            Where’s the hypothesis?

          • philincalifornia, The IPCC/alarmist hypothesis is that human-caused warming is dominant, that is it overwhelms any natural warming. That can be falsified by showing that natural forces dominate, or by showing human-caused warming is smaller than natural warming. Currently we don’t know the magnitude, or even the direction of human or natural influence. This is explained in the post in Figure 3 and the text about it.

          • @ Jim

            2: not a theory….. a conjecture/supposition/fairy tale….. at best.

            A theory has at least some evidence to back it up.

          • Andy at 9:18am

            Yes, of course I know all that shit but you saying there’s a hypothesis doesn’t mean there is one, especially a falsifiable hypothesis. If there is one from the IPCC or anyone, please cut and paste it, because I’ve never seen one.

            Can you phrase one correctly. If not, I’ll set attack dog Terry Oldberg on you.

            It’s like when someone says there is overwhelming evidence that man-made climate change blah blah blah. It is never followed by overwhelming evidence or any evidence at all for that matter.

            I’m trying to get on your case, but where is this mythical falsifiable hypothesis? I’ve never seen one. I’ve only ever seen failed conjectures.

      • It’s only about 97% speculation. If Earth was a true black body, it would be a fact. Earth can be treated as a black body to some unknown degree.

        It’s a little bit like Peak Oil. It’s real, but we can’t quantify it with any degree of certainty.

        Great post, Andy!

        • DM, You may be right, but I don’t think so, even given shale horizontal fracking. Gave my fact/math arguments in several connected essays in eBook Blowing Smoke in 2014. Projected via several different methods a peak in crude oil production including unconventional (shale, not nat gas) somewhere between 2023 and 2025. Just data, basin facts, and math. Also pointed out that this peak was not a ‘cliff’ event thanks to the gamma distribution of production—used North Slope as the simple explanation of a gamma distribution. Is troublesome economically by about 2040 something IFF I am correct.

          • Rud,

            Peak Oil can’t be predicted without knowing what the total recoverable resource is, or what fraction of that total recoverable resource will ultimately be recovered. That said, Peak Oil is a real thing because both unknowable variables are finite at a relavent time scale.

        • Thanks David. Rud, don’t try and predict the end of oil based on current estimates of reserves. Reserves have to meet a very high bar, they have to be economic at today’s prices. Reserves always go up dramatically, as producers get better. The technically recoverable oil and gas resources are huge. Especially compared to the alternatives, that is solar and wind.

          • David, Very true. Big fields get bigger and small fields get smaller with time. The difference? The big fields have more people working on them and more revenue to buy equipment and keep them going. I worked in exploration and development teams, I enjoyed development more, we had more successes.

  4. Only low solar variability models (those on the right of Figure 4) are used by the IPCC to compute man’s influence on climate although just as much evidence exists for the higher variability models on the left.
    This is not correct. The high variability has been ruled out by the revisions of the solar activity indices in 2015.

    • Leif, We’ve had this disagreement for a long time now. I completely disagree with you. So do many experts. Rather than try and argue this in the comments, I refer you and the other readers to this post or to my book:


      I think it explains this debate pretty well for the open minded. Your view has support, no doubt. But, the view of Willie Soon and Nicola Scafetta has just as much support. Both views are valid and both should be included in the IPCC assessments. Neither view has been discredited, it is strictly a matter of opinion.

      • Neither view has been discredited, it is strictly a matter of opinion.
        No, it is not a matter of opinion. It is a matter of data and science. And Soon and Scafetta are simply wrong. Even the TSI experimenters have changed their tune:
        Unfortunately, bad science lives forever. And you are helping keeping it alive.

        See: https://leif.org/research/Several-Populations-of-Group-Numbers.pdf
        which is being submitted to arXiv and Journal of Space Weather and Space Climate
        Here is the abstract [for the TH;DR people who are too lazy to read the paper]
        The long-standing disparity between the sunspot number record and the Hoyt and Schatten (1998, H&S) Group Sunspot Number series was initially resolved by the Clette et al. (2014) revision of the sunspot number and the group number series. The revisions resulted in a flurry of dissenting group number series while the revised sunspot number series was generally accepted. Thus, the disparity persisted and confusion reigned, with the choice of solar activity dataset continuing to be a free parameter. A number of workshops and follow-up collaborative efforts by the community have not yet brought clarity. We review here several lines of evidence that validate the original revisions put forward by Clette et al. (2014) and suggest that the perceived conundrum no longer need to delay acceptance and general use of the revised series. We argue that the solar observations constitute several distinct populations with different properties which explain the various discontinuities in the series. This is supported by several proxies: diurnal variation of the geomagnetic field, geomagnetic signature of the strength of the heliomagnetic field, and variation of radionuclides. The Waldmeier effect shows that the sunspot number scale has not changed over the last 270 years and a mistaken scale factor between observers Wolf and Wolfer explains the disparity beginning in 1882 between the sunspot number and the H&S reconstruction of the group number. Observations with replica of 18th century telescopes (with similar optical flaws) validate the early sunspot number scale; while a reconstruction of the group number with monthly resolution (with many more degrees of freedom) validate the size of Solar Cycle 11 given by the revised series that the dissenting series fail to meet. Based on the evidence at hand, we urge the working groups tasked with producing community-vetted and agreed-upon solar activity series to complete their work expeditiously.

        • LOL you point us to a page that says

          “This historical TSI reconstruction is currently an “unofficial” series using corrections that are believed to reflect the most realistic and up-to-date estimates of the solar variability over the last 400 years, such as the recent revisions to sunspot-number records. For details and the data file, see Greg Kopp’s TSI webpage. Please note that this historical reconstruction of TSI is a combination of models and data that needs to be credited among many researchers.”

          That is the exact page I got the data for this graph from


          You really need to get your story straight !!!

          • You really need to get your story straight !!!
            The story is the same as yours, so what is your problem.
            We all agree that Kopp’s reconstruction is at variance with May’s.
            Are you miffed that I mistakenly thought you very showing old data?
            If so, I’m sorry. But it would have been MUCH better simply to show Kopp’s graph.

          • “But it would have been MUCH better simply to show Kopp’s graph.”

            And the data from Kopp’s reconstruction gives this graph.


            See that long continuous high peak of TSI from 1940 – 2005

            iirc, …A renowned solar scientist referred to it as a “Grand Solar Maximum”

            And as your link says…..

            it “reflect[s] the most realistic and up-to-date estimates of the solar variability over the last 400 years,”

          • And see that the curve from 1700-1800 is just like it is from 1900-2000:

            There are many tricks of the trade to lie with data. One of the better one is to show a 30-year average that propagates data from outside of the data interval in question (1700-2000) into the interval to depress what is in there. You use that trick here.
            An honest person would compare the actual data [not the smoothed deception] as I did in https://spot.colorado.edu/~koppg/TSI/Historical_TSI_Reconstruction.png

            A dishonest person would claim that the data was ‘adjusted’ rather than [as Kopp says] ‘corrected’ for what we know were errors in the Hoyt & Schatten reconstruction.

          • A dishonest person would have telegraph years ago that he was going to get the solar series “adjusted” 😉

          • A dishonest person would DENY that there is a strong period solar energy at the end of last century, even when data he pointed to shows it very clearly.

            30 years is “climate” isn’t it 😉

          • A dishonest person would DENY that there is a strong period solar energy at the end of last century, even when data he pointed to shows it very clearly.
            Your problem is that that tiny bump is not ‘strong’ (only 0.0003 part of the whole).
            And that you do not realize that you have agreed to the revision of the sunspot number and deserve credit for that.

        • with the choice of solar activity dataset continuing to be a free parameter
          Thanks, Leif, for this beautifully crafted phrase.

      • Leif,

        Soon and Scafetta are simply wrong.

        Just your opinion Leif. Your view is clear, sunspot counts and characteristics are correct and the data are wrong. With time we will see what happens and who is correct. I hope we are all alive and well then.

        • Just your opinion Leif. Your view is clear, sunspot counts and characteristics are correct and the data are wrong.
          “the data”?
          There is no ‘data’ before 1976. All we have is the sunspot number and from that people reconstruct TSI.
          And the TSI experimenters agree that the ‘new’ sunspot number is correct. So, there you have it. No need to wait for future ‘data’. They will not change the past.

        • Just your opinion Leif. Your view is clear, sunspot counts and characteristics are correct and the data are wrong
          The ‘data’? There are no data before 1978. Before that, all we have is the sunspot number from which people reconstruct TSI.
          We do not need to wait for more data. They will not change the past.

      • Leif forgets 14C records show clearly an increase in solar activity since the Little Ice Age.

        It doesn’t matter if the increase in solar activity has been large of small since we do not know the effect of solar variation on climate. There is a mountain of research that indicates that in the long-term the indirect effects of solar variation, that are poorly known, are more important than the actual change in total incoming energy.

        The solar hypothesis remains viable despite Leif’s efforts.

        • Leif forgets 14C records show clearly an increase in solar activity since the Little Ice Age
          It is not valid to just fit a very long period wave to the data, assuming that the sun has a memory which there is no solid basis for. The fact is that [and your graph carefully omits that] solar activity now is down to the level of 1900 and that there has not been a secular increase the last 300 years:
          And I don’t ‘forget’ things like that. That is a deplorable assumption [or worse] on your part.

        • Note that auroral frequency [panel b] has decreased over the whole interval you show…
          Quite incompatible with your amateurish curve in panel a. You should really do your homework.

          • Auroral records and sunspot records rely on human observers. That’s why 14C rules over them, because the trees don’t make mistakes about the 14C in the atmosphere.

            Also you cannot rewrite the 14C record as you are trying to do with the sunspot record. That’s another reason to trust it better.

          • because the trees don’t make mistakes about the 14C in the atmosphere
            But converting 14C record to solar activity requires some heavy modelling because of the long residence time in the atmosphere and is therefore more difficult to interpret.

            The Revised Sunspot Record in Comparison to Cosmogenic Radionuclide-Based Solar Activity Reconstructions
            Raimund Muscheler, Florian Adolphi, Konstantin Herbst & Andreas Nilsson
            Solar Physics volume 291, pages3025–3043(2016):
            “We presented an update of 10Be and 14C-based solar modulation reconstructions for the past 2000 years and a comparison to the revised sunspot records. We note that the difference in Greenland and Antarctic 10Be data can lead to disagreeing conclusions about past solar-activity levels. This difference is most likely due to weather and climate influences on the records. 14C is less strongly affected by such influences, but the 14C-based solar modulation includes some additional uncertainty owing to the necessity to connect the data to the more uncertain pre-1950 extended neutron-monitor data. The 14C and the Antarctic 10Be data both lead to similar solar-activity reconstructions, while the Greenland 10Be records show changes in recent centuries that are too large to be explained by solar modulation alone. In general, the sunspot and radionuclide records agree well. Especially the 14C-based record agrees very well with the revised sunspot data, lending strong support to these revisions.

            So, there you have it. End of discussion.
            Don’t try to spout on things you don’t really understand.

          • Yes, the agreement between the revised sunspot series and 14C is good enough to show that both have an increasing trend. It is your Group Sunspot series that is the odd one in not presenting such trend.
            That figure is from the same Muscheler article.

            The difference in trend between the revised sunspot series and your group series is more easy to see when we plot ∑(monthly sunspots) per solar cycle.

            Now you are trying to corrupt the sunspot series so instead of saying that there has been an increase in solar activity it says that there hasn’t, like your series.

            It is so funny that you enjoy the status of climate skeptic here, when you have not published any article that even hints that you disagree with the IPCC consensus. In fact the IPCC has a champion on you to defend the orthodox view that the Sun has nothing to do with global warming to the point of changing the data to accommodate that view. While astrophysicists like Willie Soon have suffered enormously for their skepticism you have never separated yourself from the comfort of the consensus. You defended that the Sun had a role in climate when it was fashionable and changed to defend the opposite when the consensus changed.

            The 14C record will always disagree with your series. You have increased the data on solar activity during the 18th century to make sure there is no increasing trend in solar activity following your strong bias that you show here. The 14C record shows the increase and so does the revised sunspot record. You obviously know it but you come here to deceive people about it and only show your series when discussing the issue. That’s why you end your comments with “End of discussion”. The discussion might end as all discussions do, but the issue does not. Once you retire others will come and will correct what you have done to the data. I guess if people here knew how much you have done for the IPCC consensus and how little for the skepticism they wouldn’t have you in such high consideration.

          • Yes, the agreement between the revised sunspot series and 14C is good enough to show that both have an increasing trend. It is your Group Sunspot series that is the odd one in not presenting such trend.
            The early sunspot numbers are probably too low. Main reason being that Wolf used early group numbers that were too low by 25% as is well documented. In any event, the trends are so uncertain from anything before 1800 that serious people would not attribute much significance to them.
            Here is a detailed view of activity the last 300 years:
            It clearly shows how poor the data were before 1750. Only untrained laymen [to wit: your comment] would base much on them.

            It is so funny that you enjoy the status of climate skeptic here, when you have not published any article that even hints that you disagree with the IPCC consensus
            Well, there is https://leif.org/research/Climate-Change-My-View.pdf

            You defended that the Sun had a role in climate when it was fashionable and changed to defend the opposite when the consensus changed.
            Back in the 1970s we found some evidence for a solar effect on the weather [and through that on climate]. But as so often happens, later data showed that the evidence didn’t hold up, so as good scientist one must throw in the towel. You could learn from that.

            The 14C record shows the increase
            Well, it clearly doesn’t. It has been downhill since the last half of the 18th century that had the highest activity of all.

            I guess if people here knew how much you have done for the IPCC consensus and how little for the skepticism they wouldn’t have you in such high consideration.
            I am very skeptical of sloppy science and cult-like adherence to ingrained views. Other than that, I don’t really care about ‘high consideration’.
            You have obviously not taken the trouble to study
            How do you expect that one can respect someone who doesn’t even care about examining the arguments. As you [hopefully] know there are arguments both ways, but you show your bias by NEVER [not even once] show the other side of the coin. Shame on you.
            As you can see in Figure 1, the early data [both spots and groups] before 1750 are so noisy that only people with no training in the scientific method would bet the farm on them.

            And ‘end of discussion’ is very appropriate.

        • from your own link

          This historical TSI reconstruction is currently an “unofficial” series using corrections that are believed TO REFLECT THE MOST REALISTIC AND UP-TO-DATE ESTIMATES OF THE SOLAR VARIABILITY OVER THE LAST 400 YEARS, such as the recent revisions to sunspot-number records. For details and the data file, see Greg Kopp’s TSI webpage. Please note that this historical reconstruction of TSI is a combination of models and data that needs to be credited among many researchers.

          • And so?
            What he is saying is that many researchers deserve credit for the reconstruction.
            When you respond you should not assume that people read your mind. You should say what your reply means.

            Bottom line:


            …… Shows a STRONG period of solar energy at the end of last century

            GET OVER IT.

            Its data YOU pointed everyone to !

      • A better comparison is between Kopps [and LASP’s] version and the Soon&Scafetta plot Andy May pushes in his book:


        Soon&Scafetta [and similar] are no longer valid science. The prolonged discussion of PMOD vs ACRIM is just a red herring [only includes the last few cycles].

        But, as I said, bad science lives forever.

        • Of course .. ONLY the leif de-construction is valid. 😉

          Frankly, I would take anyone else’s version over yours.

        • Funny how the solar TSI is being “ADJUSTED” out of existence, isn’t it.

          Just the temperature series. 😉

          All part of the game. !

          • Funny how the solar TSI is being “ADJUSTED” out of existence
            Where do you get that idea from? You have no evidence of that.
            It is not adjusted. Instead, it is constructed directly from the sunspot curve.

          • “It is not adjusted”

            Ah .. so its the same as it used to be before your efforts to “adjust” it.

            Good to know.

            GISS say much the same thing !

      • On the Hoyt & Schatten TSI (1993) graph, note how they are off by one sunspot cycle: their TSI curve predates the sunspot number by one cycle. Ken Schatten told me that he is embarrassed by that mistake, but for true believers [with open minds] such errors do not seem to matter.

          • Lots of hard work ahead of you to erase that. !!
            No need to as energy involved is so minute. The variation in TSI results in an increase of temperature of 0.01 K. And your graph is misleading. If [as is likely] the next solar cycle or two will be small, the 30-year running mean will no longer have high plateau. It will look more like the 18th century where [according to your graph] the last 30 years had the highest TSI values of all.
            The issue is no the Kopp [or LASP] data, but the misleading effort of Andy to use the very wrong and log discredited Hoyt and Schatten (1993) TSI reconstruction as evidence for a stgrong solar connection. As your plot shows H&S were WAY off. So, congrats on your good work.

          • The issue is that you cannot accept that the data YOU point to STILL shows a period strong solar energy at the end of last century. !

          • The Kopp data shows a strong period of solar energy at the end of last century
            Actually a very small insignificant amount of solar energy (less than 0.0003 of the normal input), but that is not the point. Since we agree that Kopp’s data is good we also must agree that the corrected sunspot number that he used as input is good, and does not need anything to be removed from it. So far, so good. Agreement and admission that you do agree are the foundation of progress. So you also agree that since Kopp’s data does not agree in any way with the TSI pushed by Andy May, that his ‘evidence’ for a strong solar influence is not there, and that was the entire issue from the beginning. Your admission is solid progress. You are getting it. Congratulations! Unfortunately, I think Andy May is still in the dark. He has gone quiet on this.

          • The issue is that you cannot accept that the data YOU point to STILL shows a period strong solar energy at the end of last century.
            I think you are confused. Kopp’s data is based on my data, so they are both fundamentally the same, so there is nothing new to accept. Your ‘strong’ period is an extremely minor bump (0.0003 of the whole) on the solar output and is even less than the bump in the 18th century. The comparison has to be made to the large variation in the TSI peddled by Andy. I think you are undercutting the praise you deserve for agreeing with Kopp and thus me. Good work. Now, try to be less confused [if possible].
            One more time:

    • Can’t access more than a dozen back WUWT topics, (just get a little spinning cirlce)

      …. but iirc, there is measured evidence of an increase in shortwave downward radiation,

      …. tropical cloud reduction also measured.

      This would cause more ocean heating and we would get more El Nino warming events.

      No evidence of CO2 warming.

  5. Andy there is another aspect of Popper’s philosophy of science that is generally neglected because he dropped the idea casually in The Poverty of Historicism (1945, 1957) and never developed it. This is the importance of the social and institutional context of science. The great political economist Gordon Tullock picked up this idea when the met Popper and in 1965 published what should have been a seminal book The Organization of Inquiry except that it never took off and not even Popper referred to it. A weird situation, especially when you find that he provided a precise description of the way climate science would evolve, at a time when nobody was even talking about it. http://gordianknot.homestead.com/Theses/GordonTullockontheDeclineofScientificEmpires.html?_=1583007394505

      • I’m also worried about the decline of proper scientific thinking in the public at large.
        Part of the reason is the spreading of bad science, biased opinions, and plain wishful thinking, e.g. what you are peddling on this very blog.

        • The Kopp data shows a strong period of solar energy at the end of last century.

          You seem to be peddling lies and trying to distract from this FACT.

          Why would that be ??

          And of course you don’t have any bias to your own “adjusted” data reconstruction, do you. !

          • The Kopp data shows a strong period of solar energy at the end of last century.
            The Kopp data uses the revised sunspot numbers as input, so if you accept Kopp’s you also accept our corrections…

    • Thanks – I will look nito the Tullock.

      Another good read on the social dimension of “scoence” is Feyerabend, “Against Method.”

      Feyerabend was a philosopher of science. He noted that “science” depends a great deal on what methods become commonly accepted. He noted that this social aspect adds restrictions on what might be investigated, and how.
      He does not give this example, but I believe it fits: a “peer-reviewed journal” is not magic, and does not confer authenticity, yet it is currently regarded as a “sine qua non” in “science.” The “peer-reviewd journal” has arisen out of social dynamics, social processes.

      Beyond that, training in science and the sharing of ideas and results are inherently social activities.

      Based on these observations, Feyerabend concludes that there is no such thing as “science” that is not enmeshed in social processes. Thus, there is no such thing as pure science.
      So, our challenge is to appreciate and work with these social processes.

      Such as: being aware of the tyranny of conformity around customs of science. Such as the peer-reviewed journal being necessary for a study to be “legitimate.”

      From these ideas, he decided he was “against method,” against standards in how to conduct research, so we all would remain flexible and open to exploring and thus being open to new ideas and discovery, versus getting locked in to a restricted realm of activity.

      Another way he said this was he was an “anarchist” regarding method: no rule.

      For those who have followed these Popper-type arguments, Feyerabend is not to hard to read. He is very conversational.

    • Nick, you are mixing up what is right and wrong, forward and back, again…not helping your overall CO2-is-irrelevant argument very much.

      “Moon Sky” doesn’t back radiate back much in the SB equation because it is at only 3 degrees Kelvin. “Earth sky” also radiates back to the ground in the SB radiation equation,

      q/a= [k/(1/ehot+1/ecold-1] x (Thot^4-Tcold^4) for 2 parallel surfaces,
      because Earth’s sky has a temperature (Tcold) significantly warmer than outer space.

      The 333 watts back radiation you reference implies that the sky has the average back radiation of a black body of temperature 277 degrees C.

      N2 and O2 are transparent, but CO2 and water vapour absorb heat and radiate IR very well, 1/2 of it downwards. At ground level, 400 ppm of CO2 is irrelevant compared to the 10 or 20 thousand ppm of water.

      But at top of troposphere, a measly 12 km up, water is down to 20 ppm, frozen and rained out, and CO2 is still 400 ppm. Interestingly, the extra CO2 at 12 km means more heat radiated to outer space.

      But at mid-altitudes where water is only a few hundred ppm, the half of the radiation emitted downward is higher than it was a hundred years ago. If only CO2 is considered, the effect is about 1.2 degrees C warmer at ground level per doubling of CO2. It is often assumed that increased water vapor due to that 1.2 degrees of warming will cause up to triple the “warming”. But the atmosphere does not work this way. The total precipitable water in the atmosphere stays about the same due to the troposphere vertical temperature distribution, the lapse rate, going down to -55 at the top of our heat convective atmospheric layer, the troposphere. The major change in the system is cloud formation as warm air rises.

      This, the CO2 effect is small, counterbalanced by increased low level cloud cover that results from an increase of sea level water vapor of 7% per degree of temperature. A square meter of cloud cover reflect up to 800 watts of incoming sunlight back into space, so in a very few minutes renders 4 watts/sq meter all day average of CO2 forcing minuscule.

      • DM do you agree with the following:

        “In 1954, Hoyt C. Hottel conducted an experiment to determine the total emissivity/absorptivity of carbon dioxide and water vapor11. From his experiments, he found that the carbon dioxide has a total emissivity of almost zero below a temperature of 33 °C (306 K) in combination with a partial pressure of the carbon dioxide of 0.6096 atm cm. “

        If not what emissivity do you use for CO2?

  6. Andy there is another aspect of Popper’s philosophy of science that is generally neglected because he dropped the idea casually in The Poverty of Historicism (1945, 1957) and never developed it. This is the importance of the social and institutional context of science. The great political economist Gordon Tullock picked up this idea when the met Popper and in 1965 published what should have been a seminal book The Organization of Inquiry except that it never took off and not even Popper referred to it. A weird situation, especially when you find that he provided a precise description of the way climate science would evolve, at a time when nobody was even talking about it.


  7. The debate is not whether humans influence climate, the debate is over how much we contribute and whether the additional warming is dangerous.

    There is no data that supports the idea of an impending climate catastrophe of any kind.

    a model can be constructed to do anything you want.

    The polar bears are fine, Antarctica isn’t melting, multi-meter sea level rise isn’t happening, forest fires are less frequent, floods and droughts aren’t occurring more often nor are hurricanes or extreme tornadoes. Heavy industry and the world’s economy aren’t ever going to be powered by wind mills or solar panels and contrary to popular belief an increase in CO2 is mostly beneficial. And the methane bomb is total bullshit.

      “The debate is not . . . .”
      Wow!! I have never commented here before, but I must after your comment.
      I have never seen a better summary of the Gullible Warming garbage than is in this comment.
      I will use this on every Gullible Warming believer I meet.
      Thank you!!

  8. A question regarding the Russian model “INM-CM4” (Volodin, Dianskii, & Gusev, 2010). The graph seems to show only a single run of this model. CMIP5 models tens to be run dozens of times, probably in a hope to get a good-looking prediction – pardon me, a projection, of course. Is this model really so much better than the CMIP5 – or now CMIP6 – models?

  9. This is not really an argument as your comparison is valuable and it is factual that it occurs, but as one who taught evolution for over a decade having had a couple of courses and experience with defending biology over it, this is how I understood it. Evolution and gravity are different in that the latter is directly measurable, evolution not so much. It is more a principle (law, conclusion as more proven theory), a category not in your table. It is composed of a lot of direct facts, hypotheses, theories, predictions etc. There are tautologies as in the fit survive (differential survival), therefore survival of the fit which takes more and reasonable explanation after the fact examination.

    Evolution is often called a fact, as this fine book below examines, but long term predictions, back or forward, are limited. Some evolutionists are claimed to carry it into a belief system like climate scientists because of its political history. Maybe the new DNA technologies will, and perhaps have somewhat, improve predictability in the longer run. I used Pianka’s Evolutionary Ecology as a textbook . [Coyne, J. A. 2010. Why Evolution is True. Penguin Books.]

    • HD,

      Evolution and gravity are different in that the latter is directly measurable, evolution not so much.

      True enough. All sciences are not directly comparable. Biology and Geology are more inexact, physics and chemistry are very exact. Political science is an oxymoron. But, calling evolution a fact is OK. Saying we can predict the outcome is not.

      • As a biologist, I beg to differ. Experimental evolution is alive and well.

        “Recently, a new tool has been exploited to test such predictions: experimental evolution (14). In contrast to artificial selection, in which the experimenter determines which trait is selected, in experimental evolution, the experimenter creates the conditions under which a prediction should hold and lets the evolving population determine with which traits the problem will be solved. This approach has yielded important insights with bacteria (14–16), algae (17), poeciliid fish (18), and temperature adaptation in flies (19–22). It succeeds because evolution is more rapid than until recently was expected (23, 24).”

        The Methuselah flies are one of the most fascinating examples of how evolution produced the predicted result:
        “Previous artificial selection experiments on Drosophila (25–31) suggested that the evolution of lifespan is constrained by genetic links between early-life traits, such as early fecundity and larval competitive ability, and late-life mortality and fecundity rates. The longest running artificial selection experiment on the evolution of aging in fruit flies (25) started in 1976. One set of lines is only allowed to reproduce early in life, another only late in life; fecundity and survival are the targets of selection, and the evolutionary responses in traits such as intrinsic mortality are measured. The late-reproducing lines have evolved a much longer lifespan and lower intrinsic mortality rates than the early-reproducing lines. This experiment has been repeated in another laboratory with a design that avoids unintentional selection and controls larval density (31). In this second case, the late-reproducing lines have improved survival and decreased early-life fertility, but there has been no improvement in late-life fertility, and no correlated responses to selection in the preadult period have been observed. In the best field test of life-history theory, still continuing in Trinidad (18, 24), extrinsic mortality rates of guppies are manipulated by exposing them to different predators. Significant genetically based changes in age at maturity and fecundity in the predicted direction have been observed, and changes in lifespan are expected.”

        Biology is a fully experimental science. Just a lot more complex than physics or chemistry.

        • Scientists put selective pressure on fruit flies and got…

          wait for it…

          fruit flies.

          This has nothing to do with Evolution. Why is it that we have a platypus and an octopus?

          • It has everything to do with evolution. The experiment didn’t intend to produce new species, although it’s easy to do that in the lab too.

            Run long enough however it would yield new species. But new species can also be made in a single generation, both in the lab and wild.

            Flies eating sugar, blood and other substances have repeatedly evolved, just as flies evolved from other insect groups, and insects from other arthropods and arthropods from other bilaterians, etc.

        • Also, natural selection and epigenetics aren’t the only evolutionary processes. Stochastic processes also loom large in speciation.

      • “Fitness” is not tautological. In modern evolutionary theory, it’s simply a derived number.

        Popper first thought that biological “fitness” was a tautology, but after evolution was explained to him, he understood it better and realized how wrong he was.

        It’s just the differential survival rate for organisms bearing one trait as opposed to an alternative. However, whole organisms succeed in reproduction, not just their individual traits. You can have a favorable trait, but if you also suffer a lethal recessive, you’re SoL.

        But in population genetics, an increase in a trait from one generation to the next is its fitness.

  10. As I have stated numerous times, there is a way to test climate models and verify the results.
    Run the models from now backwards in time, and see what the expected temperature is. I suggest that it will show an ice age, since the models use CO2 to INCREASE temperature, so a dropping CO2 from the current 400 ppm to the 250 ppm would HAVE to show a cooling trend far below that which existed at the chosen time.
    No modeler is going to do this, for it would instantly disprove the modeling. G’head – try it!

    • Or perhaps start the models, say, on Jan 1, 1000 and let them run forwards in time.
      Correct models should replicate the historical climate over the last 1000 years or so.
      IF this is too much to ask, start the models on Jan 1, 1500.
      Of course, no one will do this because EVERYBODY knows the models have ZERO chance of replicating the historical climate. That’s because the models are total bullshit – as are the “scientists” who claim they understand what causes the climate to change.

      Climate “scientists” cannot explain the historic climate (e.g. what caused the ice ages, MWP, etc) and yet they wish to have us believe they understand all the variables and their interactions that cause climate changes. Worse, they pretend – they lie – that they can PREDICT the climate.

      • “Or perhaps start the models, say, on Jan 1, 1000 and let them run forwards in time.”

        Without knowing the exact initial state, the results would be worse than useless.

    • John, Anthony’s CO2 jar experiment demonstrates that increases in CO2 did not bring about a rise in temperature.

  11. I did a web search about whether anyone had falsified Popper’s ideas of falsification … silly of me.

    Here’s a link to a good interview with Popper.

    Laozi, Wittgenstein, the postmodernists, and Popper grapple with the problem that the exact truth is unknowable and indescribable. Laozi and Popper deal with the problem in a useful way. <

    I noted that in his writings he seemed to abhor the notion of absolute truths. “No no!” Popper replied, shaking his head. He, like the logical positivists before him, believed that a scientific theory can be “absolutely” true. In fact, he had “no doubt” that some current theories are true (although he refused to say which ones). But he rejected the positivist belief that we can ever know that a theory is true. “We must distinguish between truth, which is objective and absolute, and certainty, which is subjective.”

    • CommieBob, Probably some current theories are true. I don’t doubt that. But, like Popper, I don’t know which ones. I think we need to accept the fact that all theories are open to challenge and all facts and laws can be overturned. Learning and questioning are perpetual. Question everything. If Socrates didn’t say that, he should have.

      • From an engineering perspective it’s a matter of knowing which laws apply close enough that you can bet your life (and the lives of many others) on them.

      • Descartes said question everything.

        The only thing he ended up being sure of was that “he” was aware that he was thinking. So, he at least was sure that he existed; this was undoubtable to him due to the evidence of his awareness of thinking. Therefore, the phrase, “I think therefore I am.” Discourse on Method, circa 1630.

        Otherwise, he was radically skeptic, on paper at least. I am sure he still ran for the ‘loo when the urge hit him.

        Al-Ghazali, circa 1100, also held the concept of ‘question everything,’ but believed in his religious experience enough that he believed he existed and that God existed.

        Five centuries before Descartes.

        The Carvacas were possibly radically nihilistic and skeptical of all knowledge; what is known of them is only known by rival, more mainstream, philosophical schools in India. Carvacas or Charvacas most likely existed, as shown by references to them by other writers, and they possibly were circa 700BC or as far back as 1500BC.

  12. You said, “The theories of relativity and evolution have each made successful predictions with great accuracy and precision.” What has the theory of evolution predicted with great accuracy and precision?

  13. “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.” (author unknown)

    Possibly the quote belongs to Richard Feynman or Freeman Dyson…

  14. ‘Popper observes “that a Marxist could not open a newspaper without finding, on every page, confirming evidence” for the theory’.
    That reminded me of Robert Conquest writing on Marx and Marxism:
    ‘… Marx was seen and saw himself as “the Darwin of society”: as the originator of a historical science to match Darwin’s biological science’
    Conquest mentions Marxism’s dependence on confirmation bias and Marx’s denigration of Darwin’s “crude English empiricism”.
    ‘… by this he meant no more than the perfectly true circumstance that Darwin accumulated facts before developing his theory, as against the supposedly superior method Marx derived from his German academic background of inventing the theory first and then finding facts to support it’ (Reflections on a Ravaged Century 2000).

  15. Theories should predict things successfully and they should forbid things and the more they forbid the better. Confirmations do not prove a theory, but they allow it to survive.

    Evolution is a questionable example for this argument. What does it predict and what are that many things it forbids?

      • Andy I took a quick look at all at all three of the articles you provided. None of them answer my question which is “what are the things the evolution theory predicts and what are the many things the evolution theory forbids?” These are limits you offered concerning theories. Accuracy and precision are one thing but if they don’t address my question what is the point?

        • The fact of evolution forbids a rabbit in the Cambrian, as Haldane pointed out in response to Popper’s comments on evolution. Such a discovery would falsify evolution.

          Evolution predicted amazing fly evolution on the Hawaiian Islands, and sure enough it was found in spades!

          Please see other examples of confirmed predictions above.

          • Sorry John your examples don’t cut it. I could sit here all day long listing creatures that should not have existed in one time frame or another but that would be meaningless and doesn’t prove or disprove anything. If rabbit remains were found and believed to be from a long gone era it would certainly raise eyebrows but wouldn’t prove anything except we don’t know as much as we thought. As for your fly example I am not suggesting that species aren’t effected by their surroundings and that there are processes within us to take advantage of changes or be overwhelmed by changes.

          • Bob.

            A rabbit fossil in Cambrian rocks would indubitably, utterly falsify the fact of evolution.

            Innumerable other examples could be adduced of results which are also not permitted under the theory and fact of evolution.

            Haldane’s example convinced Popper that he was wrong that evolution couldn’t be falsified. He just didn’t understand evolution.

            Evolution is actually much better understood than gravitation. We don’t even know what gravity is.

          • Cambrian rocks wouldn’t just “be believed” to be from a long gone era. They would be known to be from 432 to 488 million years before the first rabbit.

            Also hundreds of millions of years before the first mammal.

          • Haldane really said, “Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian”, but any geologic unit in the Paleozoic or Mesozoic would work just as well.

          • Actually, a fossil rabbit in the Late Cretaceous Period, last epoch of the Mesozoic Era, wouldn’t falsify evolution, but would be very surprising and require rethinking the evolution of placental mammals.

            Rabbits evolved early in the Eocene Epoch of the Cenozoic Era, c. 53 Ma. There’s always the chance that a glire or lagomorph close enough to modern rabbits to be considered such could be found in the latest Paleocene.

    • Evolution predicts that as long as there are mutations, time, and selective pressure, then we will get more and more species.

      What do we see?

      We keep losing species, and cannot point to any new ones. There is nothing in the zoo now that was not there when I first went to the zoo 5 decades ago.

      • Species increase over time, until events occur which cause extinctions above background level.

        There are far more species now than in the Cambrian, Ordovician and Silurian Periods.

        But in another 500 million years, there will probably be fewer, as Earth becomes less habitable for multicellular life. Unless beings then can adjust our planetary orbit or otherwise compensate for a more powerful Sun.

        • That was a good one John. There is no way for us to know was around in the far past. We don’t know if there was more life or less life because none of us were there. We have snap shots of things that were there if those things left fossil remains or skeletons.

          • We can know the ratio of species in the past to now because we can sample preservation.

            But beyond that, we know that in the Cambrian, for instance, multicellular organisms were only in the sea. We know further that ecosystems then were simpler than now. For instance, there were no plants, just cyanobacteria and algae.

            Please study biology, geology and paleontology before you presume to commenton those topics out of complete ignorance.

  16. Andy
    I always enjoy your posts, great reading.
    What frustrates me most about Skeptics or Heretics, is the complete lack of focus.
    All of the climate alarmist control is built on computer modeled projection of the rise in Earths Temperature.

    Your Fig.1 is the most powerful tool – fact versus fiction. The one you supplied is four years out of date, and the writing is hard to read. Finding one that is up to date, credible and easy to read is like trying to find hens teeth.
    Its actually quite pathetic. This is what it is all about – projections versus fact.
    Again I suggest to the people of WUWT to put an up to date chart on a separate page with easy to read comment for the lay person.

  17. Earth’s temperature is controlled by powerful thermostats. Heat loss from the planet is controlled by sea ice insulating the surface. Heat input is controlled by monsoonal and cyclonic clouds shading ocean surface thereby reflecting heat.

    The atmosphere goes into cloud burst mode once TPW exceeds 30mm. Cloud burst occurs on a daily basis if TPW exceeds 38mm. Dense cloud formation prevents the ocean surface from ever reaching 32C. The only exception is Persian Gulf where local conditions prevent the formation of Convective Available Potential Energy; the fuel for cloudburst. The only sub-tropical region on the planet where water temperature exceeds 27C that has not experienced a cyclone in recorded history. Cloud burst is a very rare event and only on the eastern and southern shoes where CAPE can sometimes develop but the dry desert air moving south removes moisture from the atmosphere so CAPE cannot normally develop.

    The Nino 34 region in the tropical Pacific has had constant temperature for the last 40 years:
    Any temperature trend over the past millennia purporting to represent the “global temperature” that shows warming or cooling should be treated with skepticism – look for how the measurement erred rather than the nonsense it portrays.

    If there were no powerful negative feedbacks involved in controlling the surface temperature on Earth, it would have been upset a loooooong time ago and we would not exist.

  18. [[There are other ideas that Popper calls pseudoscience. These are ideas that are framed in such a way that no matter what one observes, the observation can be seen to confirm the idea.]]

    Funny you should mention pseudoscience and observations. I was just having a big laugh reading an article by the prestigious American Chemical Society trying to explain the CO2-driven AGW hoax in simplified physics:


    The article features a diagram showing several up and down arrows labeled with T^4 plus modifiers. It shows a big arrow coming down from a long line that they claim is the entire Earth’s atmosphere made into a “single layer model”. You see, it reaches a temperature Ta, and radiates Planck radiation both up and down, with the result of the down arrow being, guess, CO2-driven AGW. For an extra wow factor, they claim that there is a master energy balance with the Sun that’s neatly accounted for by these arrows alone, as if the Earth’s atmosphere isn’t a gigantic Carnot heat engine that turns solar energy into winds all the time, making their energy balance into mental doodoo. The atmosphere turns “excess” solar energy into wind power, like a car turns gasoline into motive power. No, the gasoline isn’t recycled into the gas tank to keep an mystical energy balance, but burning it gets the car down the road.

    Back to the T^4 arrows coming out of thin air in the diagram. First, you can’t reduce the entire atmosphere to a 1-dimensional line at any temperature, because the atmosphere is miles high and has a systematic drop in temperature with height called the thermodynamic lapse rate, which has nothing to do with radiation.

    And Zonk! Air doesn’t emit Planck radiation. Only coalesced materials (liquids and solids) do. That’s because coalesced materials are in close contact and share their kinetic energy in a pool while attempting to equalize it to a single temperature, and at the boundary surface they turn kinetic energy into electromagnetic energy to cool down, with a power-wavelength profile based on T and having a maximum power wavelength inversely proportional to T (Wien’s Displacement Law), and a total power proportional to T^4 (Stefan-Boltzmann Law). It’s all included in Planck’s Radiation Law, the most general law for radiative physics that covers all cases.

    Gases, on the other hand, are just detached molecules bouncing against each other, and their temperature is their kinetic energy, which they try to equalize with each bounce. There is no big pool of kinetic energy that can be tapped and turn into electromagnetic energy at their boundary surface, and in fact there is no boundary surface. The S-B Law is in units of watts per square meter, not cubic meter. All of the kinetic energy is used up in bouncing, and there’s no radiative emissions. How convenient for the ACS that it thinks it can get around all this by making the entire atmosphere into glass pane in the sky, and voila! a greenhouse effect. 🙂

    Too bad, their down arrow doesn’t even mention CO2, and it’s no surprise since only polar molecules emit radiation at all, the main one being CO2, but this is photon by photon radiation, not a big powerful continuous Planck radiation power-wavelength curve like would be needed to actually raise the temperature of anything, as if CO2’s 15 micron radiation wavelength doesn’t have a Planck radiation (Wien Displacement Law) temperature of -80C, which can’t melt an ice cube. So they try to have their cake and eat it too by lumping CO2 into the T^4 arrows sans mention.

    Don’t try to post a criticism on their site. You’re a pseudoscientist who isn’t in their club and has no citations listed in Google Scholar, and they’re professionals who are all getting money from the fair impartial nonpolitical government, really part of the leftist-tun U.N. IPCC octopus of kept scientists, academics, journalists, and politicians, who don’t want anybody rocking the boat.

    We renegade climate heretics see that the entire article is pseudoscience, designed to keep their climate priests in business churning out official Bibles of lies about past global temperatures that always are in lock-step with atmospheric CO2 measurements at the sacred mountain of Mauna Loa, toward which they probably pray three times a day. Their god is Mammon, look it up in the Bible. I wish that we were all funded by Big Oil to fight the IPCC’s lies, but alas they long ago made a deal for a piece of the renewable energy boondoggle pie, and we have to have other means of support and just work to find the truth and speak truth to power in hopes that somebody will keep score someday.

    Too bad, no matter who submits it, the ACS won’t reprint this correction and disassociate themselves from the leftist-run U.N. IPCC. I’m just a climate heretic that’s outside their club, but I know radiative physics like they apparently don’t. Or do they really know, and are deliberately trying to deceive the public, for political purposes? Somebody tell me if/when they take this article down and if they mention me, much less give me a medal. 🙂

    I cover this layer of the CO2 fake physics hoax plus all the other layers of the bloomin’ onion in my non-peer-reviewed “free science” article on my private Web site:


    • Well, It’s the American Chemical Society. The place you would go to ask about chemistry, not physics.

      Nevertheless I don’t share some of your concerns about gases radiation. The Sun’s Corona is plasma, as the Earth’s Ionosphera, and its molecules are not in contact, as in a gas, and those molecules of the Corona emit radiation quite alright.

      • Javier.

        Professional chemists who don’t deeply understand radiative physics? Are articles like this really approved by the members, or it it just a few fanatical leftist environmentalists who took over the ACS and hijacked it for the cause?

        Plasma is the fourth state of matter, consisting of hot ionized gas, and it can and does radiate Planck radiation, ask Richard Feynman about it. Usually the Sun is described as made of fully ionized plasma, but the density at the surface is the same as a liquid, and there is a boundary surface caused by gravity, so its radiation follows the Planck curve.




        In the Sun-Earth climate system the only coalesced surfaces that emit Planck radiation are the Sun’s and the Earth’s, and there are no no more in the cold air of the troposphere, hence the stupid ACS diagram’s up and down T^4 arrows sprouting out of the 1-dimensional idealized “atmosphere” should be deleted, meaning no global warming, sorry no money back guarantee. If they recognized that only scattered photon by photon radiation were emitted by atmospheric CO2, they’d still have to take down the T^4 Planck radiation symbols, and would be hard put to show any way weak scattered CO2 radiation can rewarm the surface with its own heat that is escaping via radiation, conduction at the surface, and convection, especially when CO2’s 15 micron -80C problem turns it into a laughable hoax that’s unfortunately captured the world and is leading it to disaster. A weak cold photon can’t raise the temperature of a way hotter material absorbing it into its kinetic energy. because kinetic energy goes as velocity squared not just velocity, hence it can’t add or subtract, only try to trump it with higher velocity squared, and if the photons are colder than the material it would be like trying to stick your fingers into rotating fan blades to speed them up and just getting your fingers chopped off. Instead the cold photons are just chewed up and spit out if they don’t just bounce off. An hot object has a Planck radiation curve that includes all longer wavelengths, so if weak -80C photons are absorbed by an ice cube at 0C, they will just get reemitted at the -80C point of the 0C Planck radiation curve and do nothing to raise the object’s temperature, i.e., shift the max power wavelength to shorter wavelengths.

        No surprise, CO2 AGW is not a mistake but a deliberate hoax based on snowing the masses with fake physics that was the plan of global Marxists at the U.N. and its IPCC all along, because hardcore Marxists will tell any lie to create useful idiots that will burn their own society down, leaving an open road to building a new Marxist utopia on the ashes. The kooky diagram pushed by the ACS is a case in point. They actually think they’re fooling the masses and ending their curiosity so they can get into their bank accounts. I hope Joe Biden’s plans scare you as much as me.

        The IPCC octopus has money and power, and has made a deal with Big Oil to quit funding climate heretics like us, thus all we have are truth and knowledge not money, but knowledge is power that ultimately will trump the kind money buys.

        Speaking of knowledge. Only I can provide people with a full-blown online history of Earth’s climate and climate science history including the controversies that covers all sides equally and is totally hated by the U.N. IPCC octopus for telling truth to power. The price is right, namely, free. If you are serious about this subject and aren’t regularly studying your way through it like a Bible you’re missing the action and not preparing your armor for the coming battle. I’m a freak that can read at a million words a minute, but if you just study 3K words a day (30 minutes at 100 words per minute) you might make it clear through in a year, as long as you don’t read all the hyperlinks on your first pass, after which you can study the hyperlinks too and become a walking encyclopedia like moi and Tony Heller. It really chills, er, pisses-off IPCC zombies when you know facts that contradict their lies.


  19. Theory, glass not gas holds the heat in a greenhouse. Say it ain’t so!

    Solar heats the mass not the gas in a greenhouse. Say it ain’t so!

    Mass heats the gas in a greenhouse. Glass cools the gas in a greenhouse.

    Say it ain’t so!

  20. “A theory that is not refutable by any conceivable event, is not scientific. ”

    Wrong. That should be:

    “A theory that is not refutable by any conceivable event is not scientific.”

    No comma after a defining relative clause. They used to teach this stuff in schools.

    • It is a fact, but biological evolution isn’t about the origin of life. It’s about its subsequent development.

      There too many ways for life to arise yet to know how abiogenesis occurred on Earth or off of it before biological entities came here.

      But we know that building blocks of life arise spontaneously through chemical evolution, and als self-assemble into vesicles (fatty acids) and short chains (peptides and nucleic acids). We also know of various ways in which peptides can polymerize into proteins and short nucleic acids into long ones, without enzymes.

      We also know of mobile biological elements below cellular life, ie replicants such as viruses, transposons, plastids, etc, which bridge the gap between complex organic compounds and living cells.

      We may never know how life actually evolved on Earth or elsewhere to arrive here, but in coming decades we’ll learn ways in which it could have.

  21. Andy, I was already a graduate engineer when Popper’s 1962 book was new and I read it from cover to cover. I don’t recall his ringing Freud with astrology and such fanciful “disciplines” but I protest that he would do so. Freud was the founder of an entirely new branch of science and opened the door to others – psychology/psychiatry /psychotherapy.

    No one would argue it’s not a real thing, but it is not as amenable to falsification as the hard sciences are. Indeed it would be unethical to do many definitive empirical experiments on people! Lewandowski the ‘climate’ psychologist (who is a perfect example of the “physician first heal thyself” type) had a paper retracted because of his attempt to slander and manipulate named climate sceptics whom he ‘proved’ were the types that would deny the moon landings!

    Popper rejected the inductivist and went all-in on empirical falsification, inspired by the observation of gravity’s effect as predicted by Einstein on starlight passing close to the sun during the 1919 eclipse. This means he doesn’t consider psychology a legitimate science (setting aside for a moment the modern lefty corruption of the humanities). This means he really puts it in the category of astrology. This is a failure of Popper! He rejected the hard stuff that detracted from his simple one size fits all test. Gee Andy, to me Popper has come a long way down in my estimation today.

    • Gary, he didn’t reject Freud or Marx or psychology tout court, just the untestable formulations that he encountered in Vienna among true believers in various doctrines.

      Astrology could be a testable science if the practitioners formulate their hypotheses in a way that can be tested and also in a way that connects them to other well-tested theories

      He was a student of Karl Buhler, a great and sadly neglected giant of psychology and iinguistics and he (Popper) did a doctoral dissertation in psychology on habit formation.

      He collaborated with his friend from NZ, John Eccles, to write a book on theories of the mind and consciousness,

    • Gary, I’ve heard criticism of Popper before. I still believe he got it right. The best quote about Popper and Freud that I saw was this one:

      “Popper was profoundly impressed by the differences between the allegedly ‘scientific’ theories of Freud and Adler and the revolution effected by Einstein’s theory of relativity in physics in the first two decades of this century. The main difference between them, as Popper saw it, was that while Einstein’s theory was highly ‘risky’, in the sense that it was possible to deduce consequences from it which were, in the light of the then dominant Newtonian physics, highly improbable (e.g., that light is deflected towards solid bodies—confirmed by Eddington’s experiments in 1919), and which would, if they turned out to be false, falsify the whole theory, nothing could, even in principle, falsify psychoanalytic theories. These latter, Popper came to feel, have more in common with primitive myths than with genuine science. That is to say, he saw that what is apparently the chief source of strength of psychoanalysis, and the principal basis on which its claim to scientific status is grounded, viz. its capability to accommodate, and explain, every possible form of human behaviour, is in fact a critical weakness, for it entails that it is not, and could not be, genuinely predictive. Psychoanalytic theories by their nature are insufficiently precise to have negative implications, and so are immunised from experiential falsification.”

      From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/popper/

      • Thanks Andy, but has anyone come along to put forward the ideal theories of human behavior that can be falsified with one definitive experiment? Or is human behavior an illegitimate construct and niche for astrologers or voodoo charlatans only?

        Physics is easy. It is a collection of things that can be measured. Human psychology is a living entity with thousands of things going on along with whatever pathological issue that is under study. There is no ceteris paribus abstraction possible. Yet, with experience across numerous individuals, iteration gives insight into human behaviour. It isn’t a situation where 7.5billion people have 7.5 billion unique sets of behaviours. So it is a legitimate, if tough field of scientific endeavour. Here is a simple case of the more obvious kind that is easy to analyze.

        Consider two dreams that I was told about some 40yrs apart. One was by a woman friend (A) who had tragically lost a lifelong girlfriend (B) who had been away travelling for a couple of years and had got married overseas. When news of B’s death came, A began to have a recurring dream of being at a big house party and in the dream she asked has B arrived yet? and the reply was yes, she was here minutes ago, oh, there she is in the next room. But when A got there B wasn’t there and she asked another who more or less told her the same thing, etc and etc. When B’s husband arrived from overseas for funeral services with B’s family and friends. A’s dream stopped occurring upon meeting the husband.

        In another time and place were two brothers (adults) who were very close, beers, barbeques, going to the pub ‘the lake’… The youngest died suddenly. Another set of dreams: the brothers agreed to meet at the pub with friends and when the evening was done they were walking home in a rural place and came to a barbed wire fence. The youngest ducked under the wire and headed diagonally across the field. His brother went to duck under the wire to walk with him and the younger told him. Oh you can’t go this way. You have to walk on the other side of the fence.

        I’m an engineer and geologist, not a psychologist, but it’s pretty easy to understand what is going on here. The living protagonists in each dream were in d€nial of their loss and their minds were trying to gently give them the news that the departed were really gone.

        Is evolution a scientific field? Can we falsify it? Can we falsify the view that creationists have if it? Certainly not in the very satisfactory way that Einstein’s gravity theory was investigated in 1919.

        Was Wegener’s Continental Drift fanciful because he didn’t have a mechanism for it? All he had was the observation that the continents fitted nicely back together in jigsaw fashion. Did it come to be a legitimate science half a century later when it was reborn as the ugly denturist term plate tectonics? Should we still laugh at Wegener? I still day that Popper did half a job.

        • Evolution most certainly does make falsifiable predictions.

          When creationism makes predictions, they are invariably found false.

    • WRONG yet again little griff. The DELIBERATE LIES continue, because it all you have.

      You are just making parrot-like regurgitations of what you KNOW you have absolutely no evidence for.

      Its way passed PATHETIC.

      1… Do you have any empirical scientific evidence for warming by atmospheric CO2?

      2… In what ways has the global climate changed in the last 50 years , that can be scientifically proven to be of human causation?

      • The global climate seems quite stable, unlike most alarmists, and it’s clearly a major reason for continued life on Earth. Diversity quota bonus.

        Historical weather records show extremes well beyond what is deemed extreme today, with much higher losses in lives, and ensuing economic collapse. We have so much technology now to warn us in advance, mitigating potential disaster.

        Observed change is very slow, and nothing that we can’t cope with, or adapt to. That’s the way it’s always been. I think it’s unethical to systematically label everything with “climate change™” to push along a political agenda that some of us have issues with.
        Smuggling those political ideas in through the back door of “climate change™” is exactly what is happening in several large cities in France, whose citizens now have “Greenish Red” political power telling them what they can and can’t do.

    • Griff
      Do you believe in non-anthropogenic climate change?
      Do you believe in ice ages?
      Or do you take the majority consensus of climate being in Edenic stasis at all times before the year 1800?

  22. How is astrology non-falsifiable? Astrologers makes predictions all the time and in general their predictions are falsifiable.
    So, the pseudo-scientific nature of astrology lies in something other than the Popper’s criterion of falsification.

    • Usually, in my experience, the predictions are so broad and vague, that literally anything could come as a result.

    • Mactoul:

      [[How is astrology non-falsifiable? Astrologers makes predictions all the time and in general their predictions are falsifiable.
      So, the pseudo-scientific nature of astrology lies in something other than the Popper’s criterion of falsification.]]

      Duh, on Dec. 5, 1985 UCLA physics student Shawn Carlson (1960-) pub. the paper
      A double-blind test of astrology in Nature mag., proving that 28 top astrologers couldn’t predict a person’s personality based on date and time of birth better than random chance, effectively killing it as a serious scientific discipline.


  23. The idea of a single fact refuting a theory is older than Popper and Feynman.

    Popper’s used the logic of testing to argue with the dominant school in the philosophy of science at the time, the Vienna Circle of logical positivists. The leading figures of that school moved to the US, occupied chairs in the major universities and converted the philosophy of science into a boring and sterile exercise that did much to provoke the reaction against science and reason that underpins the political trials of our times.

    There is a nice video of Feynman teaching the procedure of guessing and checking that Popper called conjecture and refutation.


    Feynman obviously never encountered Popper although he practiced Popper’s approach.

    • And that approach is Aristotelian. After all Sir Karl Popper was head of Oxford’s Aristotelian Society.
      Or better known as Aries Tottle in the future.
      Who better to express this than Edgar Allan Poe, in Mellonta Tauta : Things of the Future.
      Written in 2848 while flying over the continent of Kanadaw.

      “Now I do not complain of these ancients so much because their logic is, by their own showing, utterly baseless, worthless and fantastic altogether, as because of their pompous and imbecile proscription of all other roads of Truth, of all other means for its attainment than the two preposterous paths- the one of creeping and the one of crawling- to which they have dared to confine the Soul that loves nothing so well as to soar. By the by, my dear friend, do you not think it would have puzzled these ancient dogmaticians to have determined by which of their two roads it was that the most important and most sublime of all their truths was, in effect, attained? I mean the truth of Gravitation. Newton owed it to Kepler. Kepler admitted that his three laws were guessed at- these three laws of all laws which led the great Inglitch mathematician to his principle, the basis of all physical principle- to go behind which we must enter the Kingdom of Metaphysics. Kepler guessed- that is to say imagined. He was essentially a “theorist”- that word now of so much sanctity, formerly an epithet of contempt. Would it not have puzzled these old moles too, to have explained by which of the two “roads” a cryptographist unriddles a cryptograph of more than usual secrecy, or by which of the two roads Champollion directed mankind to those enduring and almost innumerable truths which resulted from his deciphering the Hieroglyphics.”

      Creeping and crawling is indeed the modus of the various mobs today, funded massively by George Soros’ Open Society, which is based on his mentor Sir Popper’s book, The Open Society.
      The strange incongruity there is that Soros’ father changed the family name from Schwarz to Soros, for well known reasons, the Esperanto, which he studied, for Soar. Yet the soaring of the Open Society resembles more that of a marauding Pterodactyl.

  24. Bravo, Andy! I can’t wait to receive your book. Thanks for the highlights.

    This is the best explanation I’ve read so far about why anthropogenic global warming is a hypothesis and not a theory. As Lord Kelvin said:
    “When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarely, in your thoughts advanced to the stage of science.”
    Nobody has been able to measure with any degree of approximation the human contribution to global warming. To think that we can do that with models that are built around our ignorance is silly and preposterous.

  25. This is a great article.

    Figure 1 is the best antidote to the nonsense poured out by people who don’t understand modelling and climate change pseudo-science (and lots of other things).

    Is there a version that goes beyond 2016 please ?

  26. “Evolution and gravity are facts and anthropogenic climate change is a hypothesis.”

    Evolution is not a fact. It has not been observed. We have not seen a new species emerge. Observation is an essential hallmark of science. So, if we have not observed a new species emerge, then “evolution” cannot be a fact.

    What we have done is “HARK.” Hypothesizing after facts known. We see an array of finches. We build a theory to explain what has already happened. We are late to the game.

    The Lenski Experiment is pretty well known. This is a claim of us observing evolution. Of a species actually acquiring a new capability via natural selection. This ability to digest citrate supposedly emerged by the theory of evolution. A mutation occurred. It was retained across generations, and eventually conferred a reproductive advantage. It become more common in the population.

    This covers one of two essential stages for evolution to have been observed. The bacteria in question were still bacteria. We have not seen a new species emerge. Evolution is a theory to explain how we have come to have a platypus and an octopus. Not a bacteria that can digest citrate and one that cannot.

    In the Lenski experiment, it took 33,000 generations for a mutation to arise, be retained, and eventually result in a survival-enhancing trait that was able to gain in frequency in the gene pool.

    33,000 generations. If that is our observation, our fact, upon which to build and defend Evolution, it is not convincing. Many of us have studied the “ATP Cycle.” Consider that each known, and not yet known, aspect of this essential life function had to arise out of this same process.

    I adhere to orthodox Evolution Theory. A mutation arises. It is retained and passed along to the next generation. It by itself or in combination with other mutations eventually confers a selective advantage, and grows in frequency in the population gene pool. Eventually enough of these changes accrue to where you have two distinctly different species: a platypus and an octopus.

    Folks: we cannot ignore this aspect when claiming that evolution is a fact: Evolution is the theory NOT of how we get a bacteria with a new physiological capability, but of how we have an octopus and a platypus.

    Gould and others have noted: in the fossil record, we do not have entire transitions, but nodes. The nodes suggest that all of these forms of life could have evolved from each other, but we are missing most of the transitional forms.

    Our best observation, or best fact, fro Lenski, is that a trait might arise in 30,000 generations. So, where are all of the transition species, lingering around for 30,000 generations plus?

    Also. If Evolution Theory is true, we should be getting more species, not fewer. But what do we **see**
    We see extinction: we are going from more to fewer, not from few to more.

    What animal is now in the zoo that was not there when I first went to the zoo in the 1960s? None. We don’t have any examples.

    Evolution is a a widely held belief, but is not a “fact”. No one has observed it, and there are mere suggestions and clues when reviewing existing information. Adherents use social processes to keep it reified. Just as they are doing with “Man-Made Global Warming.”

    Further, I would argue that the pressure from critics, including Creationists, has played the role it is supposed to play: via skepticism, finding limits in a theory and pressing further investigation, leading to more complete and complex explanations and understandings.

    The “Evolution” I was taught in grade school did not include “gene-swapping.” Wikipedia notes the history of the rise of the recognition of this phenomenon. Gene swapping has been invoked as an answer to criticism of Evolution.

    Currently, there are alternatives to the idea that all life arose from one instance, one organism. This newer concept has different terms but can be called the “Multiple Origins of Life” concept. This has been supported by mathematical analysis of relations or distance between species. To some degree, it can be used to argue against some points raised by skeptics of Evolutionary Theory.

    So, skepticism, including from Creationists, plays a role in advancing “science,” just as it is supposed to do, by orthodox principles of “science.”

    • Years ago I watched a NPR series on modern human evolution. Basic begin is modern man is around 150000 yrs old. All modern man started in Southern Africa along a coast and expanded from there.

      I always found it odd that we could get 4 different colors, 2 different eye shapes, 4 different hair colors, Watusi to Pygmy, etc in that small amount of time.

    • “Evolution is not a fact.”

      It is, but you don’t want it to be, since it challenges your religious beliefs.

    • You are an absolute ignorant full of bulls*hit.

      Evolution is not a fact. It has not been observed. We have not seen a new species emerge.

      Of course we have seen the emergence of new species.

      Now you prove the existence of the creator. What you defend is not even a hypothesis because it has no data to support it. In science something like that is called a conjecture, a product of the human mind based on a belief. But, what would you know about science? At least the Catholic Church no longer opposes science and admits evolution and the descent of man from animals. But in religion there are always extremists. You should learn from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Jesuit priest and paleontologist that in 1928 participated in the discovery of the Pekin Man (Homo erectus). You are only a century behind, so you have a lot to catch up.

      • One. Well, which is it? Am I ignorant, or full of BS?
        Two. When you resort to name-calling, you have failed.
        Three. Your finch “new species” example proves my point. This is the same as taking two breeds of dogs and getting them to mate, and claiming the mutt is a new species. They cross-bred related finches and they got…

        wait for it…


        Three. Your anti-religious bigotry is showing.

        Four. Selective breeding for traits is a known reality in the Bible, such as at Genesis 30.

        Five. It is a logical error to defend Evolution on this argument: “God does not exist, so the reason for why we see a platypus and an octopus is not because God made them all, but Evolution.” This follows the logic pattern: “A” cannot be the cause, therefore “B” is the cause. For depending on faulty logic, you lose. Also, basing your argument on anti-religious bigotry takes a few points off, as well.

        Six. Copying and pasting is ignorance, not intelligence.

        Seven. God still loves you. God knows you, thinks about you every day, and yearns for a close relationship with you, despite your antipathy toward him.

        • Dogs are the same species. The finches are different species.

          But most observed speciation doesn’t involve hybridization. Another process yielding new species in a single generation, rather than via selection or other more gradual means, is polyploidy, especially whole genome duplication. The daughter species is not interfertile with its mother species.

          Another quick and dirty form of evolution results from single point mutations creating new species, as with nylon-eating bacteria. These mutations occur in the wild and can be recreated in the lab. Before nylon entered the environment, these mutations were fatal. Now they’re beneficial.

          Such rapid processes have figured largely not just in microbial and plant evolution, but in vertebrate and human evolution.

        • I am not anti-religious. I’m agnostic. People can believe in whatever they want as long as they don’t come messing with science. The Catholic Church understood this a century ago, yours clearly not. So tell them to do it now.

          We know species have been appearing and disappearing on the planet all the time, and they are substituted by related but different species. That’s evolution, and it is a fact. It was known to be a fact even before Darwin, he provided a mechanism for what nearly all the natural scientists in his time knew to be the truth, that species had evolved.

          So pack your religious anti-evolution BS and go to some religious anti-science forum where it will be welcomed. This is a science forum. It is not a problem with your beliefs it is a problem that you are stepping out of your turf and getting into science, something of which you obviously have no idea.

          • True. Before Darwin, the sequence of fossils showing the history of life was called “development”. What now is called “evolution” was known as “transmutation”. It wasn’t widely ascribed to for both religious and scientific reasons.

            One of his teachers at Edinburgh, R. E. Grant, was a Lamarckian transmutationist, but also a political and religious radical out of favor with the Establishment. Grant cited Erasmus Darwin in his work. He moved to UC London. Darwin visited him after returning from his voyage on HMS Beagle, but seems not to have stayed in touch.

            Darwin provided a natural mechanism for development by transmutation, ie the origin of species by selection. Lamarck’s proposed mechanism had not gathered support.

          • By contrast, Darwin’s geological mentor Rev. Adam Sedgwick favored continuous new creations to explain development.

            The platypus and octopus share a bilaterian last common ancestor in the Ediacaran Period, c. 600 Ma.

      • The God hypothesis is not scientific because it can’t make testable predictions capable of being shown false. It’s not that it has no data supporting it.

        We observe that the universe appears to exist. The conjecture that a supernatural Being made it however is not falsifiable. Which is why faith is required. Were God confirmadle, belief would have no value.

        Hence the Christian doctrine of the Hidden God. Creationism is blasphemous.

    • Evolution is a fact observed every day in every way everywhere.

      It’s a consequence of reproduction.

  27. Figure 3 is bogus because it neglects the weaker solar wind since 1995 driving a warm AMO phase and increased El Nino conditions.

  28. Doing science research, said Karl Popper
    In a way that is right and is proper
    Is by careful deduction
    Not wishful induction
    Otherwise you will soon come a cropper

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