Examining science, part 1

We will be starting with definitions and other such things so hopefully the discussion will progress more smoothly if we are all using the same terminology. Please feel free to comment and let me know if the definitions are not clear.

Climate change: The theory that humans are contributing to changes in the climate through CO2 and feedback mechanisms. The theory is generally associated with James Hansen and the IPCC

Natural climate change: The variations in the climate that have always existed, with or without human CO2 contributions

The following terms refer to changes due to human activity, mostly CO2. If I am referring to these phenomena as part of a natural cycle, I will use the modifier “natural”
Sea level rise
Glaciers melting
Extinctions
Temperatures rising
Coral reefs dying
Ocean acidification

Settled science: I have been told these two points are settled: 1. CO2 raises temperatures and 2. Humans are causing global temperatures to rise due to the CO2 put into the air.
I accept that CO2 raises temperatures and that humans contribute to this phenomena. I do not accept that this means a catastrophic rise in global temperatures will follow and do not consider this settled.

To be clear, I do believe the temperatures rise, glaciers melt, coral reefs die, but I do not find the evidence that human beings are the main cause of this, nor is there cause for alarm. This series covers the reasons why.

Logical Fallacies:
I am including a section on logical fallacies to pre-empt (hopefully) the use of these arguments. Such arguments, if presented, will be dismissed immediately.

A. Ad Hominem—name calling, personal insults and attacking the speaker
Example: You are so stupid. You know nothing. My dog is smarter than you (unless you can prove your dog is smarter than me.) Flat-earther. You know nothing about science.

B. Poisoning the well: using one belief a person has in an unrelated area to dismiss everything the speaker says
Example: You cannot believe John’s work on paleoclimatology because he believes there is a conspiracy surrounding 9/11. His beliefs on political conspiracies does not mean his work on climate is suspect. This is a common fallacy thrown at both climate change advocates and questioners.

C. Argument from authority. As a deductive argument, it is always a fallacy. There is currently an informal use that an appropriate authority is acceptable for common usage. My belief remains that “argument from authority” is a fallacy, even where the authority is an expert. One may use the authority as a guideline, but that is all. Authority is not the definitive proof of a scientific theory, the data and methodology are.

D. Straw Man: Using a larger, more outrageous belief or idea to impugn someone’s beliefs
Example: Skeptics question climate science. Therefore, skeptics refuse to believe science.
Using the broader statement is designed make the disagreement irrational.
These arguments are often used in conjunction with ad hominem attacks.

E. Argument from persecution: This fallacy most often shows up in religious arguments, but Michael Mann seems to have found it worth a try:

Attacks (i.e. persecution) do not prove you are right. In fact, if we follow that logic, skeptics are attacked too, so this proves two mutually exclusive ideas (AGW and lack of AGW).

screen-shot-2013-03-21-at-9-13-53-am

 

While not a fallacy (at least not as it generally stated) there is the “follow the money” argument. While it is always prudent to check out all sides of a debate, including who paid for it, it is NOT automatically proof that the speaker lacks a valid argument. This is very popular for dismissing anyone who questions climate science, and I have seen it applied by skeptics. (Advocates say oil money, questioners say government money. However, I have seen oil companies pay for research into wind energy storage, so the money is not always an indicator.)

Correlation:
Correlation does not prove causality, but causality does require correlation.

Proving a negative:
One cannot prove negatives such as “Prove ghosts do not exist” or “Prove there are no unicorns”. However, finding a ghost or unicorn proves the statement false.

One can indirectly prove a negative such as: I am housebound so I did not steal the car. In this case, one proves the premise (that I am housebound) and the conclusion follows (I did not steal the car).

I include this because I am often confronted with a misunderstanding of how scientific methodology works. A scientist presents an hypothesis, the data to support it and then awaits comments and questions. It is the responsibility of the scientist to answer these questions. It is not his responsibility to point out possible errors or alternative theories. Demands to prove that humans are not the cause of climate change are asking one to prove a negative. The only thing science can do is show one theory, humans or nature, has the higher probability. That is how science works. If sun activity shows higher correlation to temperature increases than does CO2, the CO2 is a less likely cause. Remember, causality requires correlation. The item with the lower correlation is less likely to be the cause.

Climate science presents some unique problems. Much, if not most, of climate science is based on mathematics. Actual readings of temperatures, sea level, etc are used, but subjected to a great deal of statistical manipulation before a conclusion is reached. This makes it much more difficult to understand than say, gravity. Gravity is a physical phenomena that is clearly demonstrable. Climate change is not. We have limited data, various models and a system so complex a super computer is required to run the data. All of which can introduce error and serial error. While climate science likes to say it is “certain”, it is anything but certain. The only result one can produce is a probability coefficient or a confidence interval. These may be as high as 95%. They may be much lower. Results can fall outside the interval and the theory still be true, but not over and over again. It’s so much more difficult than dropping a hammer.

I will cover these items in more detail in future postings.

(Comments and ideas are welcome if presented in a polite, respectful tone.  This is science.)

Advertisements

8 comments on “Examining science, part 1

  1. Glenn Tamblyn says:

    ” I cannot find any examples where a straw man argument is more complex and difficult to understand than the original, as seems to be the case in your example”

    I think you have misunderstood my statement there. The simpler statement is the straw-man.

    As an example of a straw-man wrt AGW

    Strawman:
    “According AGW theory CO2 is supposed to cause temperature rise. But CO2 levels aren’t well correlated with temperature”

    Something closer to the real theory/expectation:
    “AGW theory says that more CO2 will cause an energy imbalance on the Earth, a Radiative Forcing. Heat will thus accumulate within the Earth’s climate systems until the surface temperature warms sufficiently to counterbalance this radiative forcing, removing it and restoring thermal equilibrium. CO2 is not the only factor that can impact this energy balance but is a major component and one that humanity is influencing right now.

    As heat accumulates in the Earth’s climate systems, in the different parts of them, this in turn can lead to changes in heat internal flows between the different subsystems within the total climate system. This can lead to localized variations in climate that are not directly correlated with CO2 levels because they are correlated/caused more strongly to internal variability. However the total system response should be well correlated to CO2 levels over time, subject however to the effects of any other factors that influence the climate system as a whole.

    Thus the key prediction that AGW theory makes is that total heat accumulation for the entire planet should be well correlated with changes in CO2 concentrations, subject to the proviso that other factors (Volcanic eruptions for example) need to be allowed for as well. A secondary prediction AGW theory might make could be related to the spatial and temporal distribution of ant effects, which may be different from the distribution of effects expected from other causes of warming”

    Let me also raise another issue, in a sense a form of Straw-Man argument. Most discussion of AGW is not about the science, even when people think they are doing so. It is usually about varying degrees of simplification and summation of the science. The IPCC reports are simplified summaries. Their Summary for Policy Makers (SPM) is then a summary of a summary. Virtually all blog posts about AGW are dealing with this at sum degree of simplification and summary.

    Various people may have issues with the statements associated with AGW – you seemingly do. However, a common response from many people is to then try and argue against AGW AT THE LEVEL OF THE STATEMENTS THEY DISAGREE WITH.

    This is a fundamentally fallacious approach, one very much akin to a Straw-Man argument!

    I would suggest that the appropriate course of action for any individual in that situation is that first they need to ‘drill-down’ below the summary level they are at (IPCC SPM, the MSM, whatever) to greater levels of detail, less summarized, until either, their concerns have been resolved. Or, they have got to the bottom level. The full scientific literature, 10’s and 100’s of 1,000s of scientific papers, detailed maths, decades of evolving science from many branches of science.

    Seeking to argue against AGW (or any theory in science) at the level of the simplified summations isn’t a meaningful argument. It is more akin to Shadow-Boxing.

    I will be interested in what your posts have to say although you can probably guess from my comments that I don’t share your disagreement about AGW. Personally I don’t think you will be able to make the case you claim, however I await with interest your attempt to do so. Many have attempted this before, and I have never seen any Climate skeptic mount a successful case for anything more than the level of uncertainty that is already accepted among the climate science community.

    Most claims that skeptics have shown X usually are no more than cheering from the stalls by fellow skeptics. Any serious critique of any science needs to be more rigorous than that.

    • Thank you for clarifying the straw man. I think I understand now.

      I look forward to comments concerning the science of climate change. Far too often, name-calling and not so nice behaviour is all one gets. Comments from someone who understands and has studied the science in detail are very welcomed.

  2. On the absence of the Tropospheric hotspot: I did see that in a couple of items I was reading on skeptic blogs. I did not assume that meant the theory was wrong, but rather there was a problem somewhere and it needed to be addressed. If the data was bad, then better data. If the data were correct, then a re-evaluation of the hypothesis. I do understand that even if the current theories are wrong, there still could be a new theory that shows warming is human caused. Maybe not due to CO2 or maybe something was missed. I do emphasize data, but that does not mean I would never question the data–that would be very unscientific.

  3. Glenn Tamblyn says:

    A whoopsie here:

    “… The basic presumption in this should be guilty to proven innocent. However consider …”
    should obviously read

    “… The basic presumption in this should be innocent till proven guilty. However consider

    • Glen:
      I would say that “not acting in good faith” is not an ad hominem attack if you have a pattern of behaviour.
      Second part: I am not sure. I think I’d stick with asking for the explanation as much as possible. Without actual data, it’s hard to call someone a liar. The best one can do is probably to state the individual will not back up what he is claiming. The person may not be lying, they just may be a jerk.

      Poisoning the well:
      That one is tough. My personal opinion is no, I would not step in. C will figure out A is irrational or not, on C’s own.

      Straw Man: Tony seems to be in agreement with you. Perhaps my use of the word larger was not appropriate. Would “more general” make more sense? I cannot find any examples where a straw man argument is more complex and difficult to understand than the original, as seems to be the case in your example.

      Argument from persecution:
      Yes, well-worded and thought out questioning does raise the issue of “are you right?”.

      Argument from authority: I do not claim certainty in science when using deductive methods. “Proof” when used in regard to science does not mean 100%, never changing, infallible certainty. It means the theory has held up to all scrutiny to date and was not replaced by a better, more fitting theory. I am fully aware there is absolute proof in science.
      In your example, “A” cannot really be considered an authority. If “A” and “C” have equal education and training, but do not agree, is the correct course to poll D through Z scientists and go with the most given response (all have the same degree and training). Isn’t that science by vote? What if one so narrowly defines the authority as to exclude all disagreement?
      For practical purposes, people do go to authorities. This does not mean the authorities are right. It may simply be a matter of convenience or that the person prefers to go with the majority beliefs.

      Your comment on following the money is very good–I agree.

      Causal/Correlation: Good points and I will be addressing this late in the series.

      Proving a negative: I used these examples because they are black and white, as most of my encounters with the question run along this line. Perhaps you know of an example where it is not black and white? (I couldn’t come up with one.)

      I did not intend to represent an hypothesis as a stand alone proposition. An hypothesis can incorporate past work. The example you gave makes sense and I did not intend to exclude such hypotheses.

      I will try to remember to use analysis when referring to statistical applications.

      No, I am not saying climate science should be easier. If anything, I think it may be far to simplistic. The concentration on CO2 and feedbacks may have kept some from finding other important factors. Perhaps climate science is moving away from that?

      Ok, gravity is demonstrable physically, on the Earth, where I presently stand. Gravity cannot be explained without math, but it can be demonstrated on the macro level without calculus.

      I have read both Hansen and Mann speak of certainty. Not having read all their work, I cannot say if they do or not conclude studies in the same fashion. The creation of the IPCC to deal with climate change also screams out “certainty”. If there is not certainty, why do we need an international agency? Has the IPCC said they exist because there is a high degree of probability that the planet is warming and humans caused it? (See the second “settled” point–sounds quite certain.) Studies may lack the certainty, but the public persona is one of absolute certainty. While that is not science itself, it is the science the general public sees.

      Conflate how “difficult it is” just for effect? Never.

      Other questions will be addressed as the series progresses.

  4. Glenn Tamblyn says:

    Let me respond with some comments about each of your criteria, also with a general observation that your criteria are far, far too black & white:

    Ad Hominem—name calling:
    Generally I agree with you. However what does one do in a situation where a criticism of the integrity or similar of someone else may be justified based on their behavior. For example, party A makes a claim. Party B puts forward arguments or evidence to seek to refute part A’s statement. Party A does not respond to part B’s arguments in any way but swerves of on another direction. Is party B to assume that A has accepted their argument? Or not? At a later time party A repeats the same claim and party B again puts forward the same counter argument and evidence. Again party A does not respond, but evades. This pattern is repeated many times. Eventually party B says that party A is not acting in good faith. Is that an Ad-Hominem attack? Or a completely justified criticism? What if party B’s criticism of A is that they are using data incorrectly/selectively. What if B’s criticism is that A’s assertions are actually misleading or deceptive and A does not respond to this criticism and eventually B claims that A is mendacious in some way. Ad-Hom, or valid criticism?

    While Ad-Hom’s are generally inappropriate the defense that they are inappropriate can be abused by someone who is dishonest in order to evade scrutiny.

    B. Poisoning the well:
    Generally I agree. However there is a general context where someones views about another topic may be grounds for being considered applicable. Where they form the basis for an evaluation of the mental processes that person uses. In an ideal world we would like to think that every person brings clear rational thought processes to their consideration of every issue at hand. An imagined ideal world of clear Socratic reasoning. However the simple reality is that human psychology is way more complex and messy than that. And that many people can and do use quite rational sounding language, particular in impersonal fora such as on-line while masking quite irrational thought processes. The basic presumption in this should be guilty to proven innocent. However consider. Party A and Party B have had many conversations. As a result of those many conversations, Party B has finally reached the conclusion that Party A actually has quite irrational thought processes although they mask these quite well in on-line fora. Then Party C enters into a conversation with Party A, B is an observer. B observes A using much the same lines that they have used in the past. C is unaware of this past history. Should B step in and point out to C that A actually has a history of saying ….., so that C can be armed with the knowledge that B has when evaluating A’s comments.

    C. Argument from authority. As a deductive argument, it is always a fallacy:
    Yes. But only in principal! This criteria contains an assumption within it that also generates a major form of fallacious reasoning, probably far worse than any fallacy that derives from Augument by Authority itself. The assumption of Perfect Knowledge on the part of all parties! This is the assumption that a point can be deduced simply by the application of logic, reasoning and mathematical analysis as applied to data and evidence. Which is reasonable IF all parties involved have all necessary data and knowledge available to them, are fully conversant with all applicable mathematical principles etc. However, if deductive techniques are applied to inadequate information, quite fallacious conclusion can be reached.

    Consider an example. Party A claims “Yes sea levels rose as the last Ice Age ended, but look, these highstands around the world show that sea level was 3 metres higher several 1000 years ago. The scientists really know very little about past sea level”. On the basis of the observations put forward by A, a seemingly reasonable deduction. However, A is uninformed about a range of other factors that influence sea level – Isostatic adjustment causing rebound of continents, isostatic adjustment causing sea floor collapse, changes in sea level due to variations of the Geoid as ice masses melt, the effect of bulging at the equator due to the Earth’s rotation changing the distribution of sea water, localised heating of sea water changing it’s density and affecting sea level due to interactions with the geoid. A’s deductions are deeply faulty due to their ignorance of a whole host of factors.

    So if B counters A’s claim with ‘Authority C says…’ they are using Argument from Authority. However if Authority C is knowledgeable about these factors, their opinion carries weight. In principle B should not only be able to use Authority C for their argument, they should actually supply the additional knowledge that C has. This could leave the ‘Authorities’ of the world strtched very thin indeed.

    Importantly however, A is required to show that the conclusion they have reached is based on ALL necessary and applicable data. That in effect Authority C is not needed because A has considered everything C knows. This puts A in an invidious position. They have to prove a negative. “I have reached conclusion X, and there isn’t anything in haven’t considered’. That there are none of Rummy’s Unknown Unknowns out there. But in the example I gave, any such claim by A would be unjustified.

    So unfortunately, by removing Argument from Authority, this also means that all arguments are less reliable.

    Secondly, briefly, let me touch on “… Authority is not the definitive proof of a scientific theory, the data and methodology are …”.
    In science there is never a ‘proof’ of anything, only degrees of probability that something has been demonstrated. And importantly, data and methodology demonstrate nothing. Judgements must be made about data and methodology. Does this data support this? That is a judgement. Sometimes the judgement is quite clear cut. But often it is not. People may differ about whether data demonstrates X. So in the end it is a consensus – yes there is that word. A consensus of judgements about what the data means. It is a common layman’s fallacy about science that the data spells things out so clearly.

    D. Straw Man: Using a larger, more outrageous belief or idea to impugn someone’s beliefs:
    Here I have to totally and utterly disagree with you! What you describe can occur, but that is NOT what is commonly understood by the notion of a Straw-Man argument. A Straw-Man argument is based on the simple premise of setting up a lightweight, erzats version of an argument or claim so that this light-weight version (a man of straw) can be more easily knocked down. It is not a larger, more outrageous claim. It is the exact opposite, a smaller, light-weight claim. Usually a more simplistic or black & white version than the real claim/theory. I would even suggest that your criteria here actually constitute a form of straw-man.

    For example. ‘The theory of X predicts Y’, rather than ‘The theory of X predicts that a range of events will occur, ranging from P to X with these events related together in these ways … , with the magnitude of the errors associated with these results constrained in these ways … ‘ etc.

    When used as a deliberate technique, this is mendacious and deceitful. However it is very common for people to fall into the trap of presenting a Straw-Man argument unwittingly. Their understanding of a topic may not be sufficiently detailed so they honestly present an inappropriately simplified version of an argument due to lack of understanding. See my comments about Argument from Authority.

    E. Argument from persecution:
    Attacks (i.e. persecution) do not prove you are right. However they do raise the question, is the persecution justified or not? In either case, what are the motives of the persecutors and what does this say about the trust we should place in their arguments. Perhaps when persecution is alleged, the appropriate course of action is to discount the opinions of both the alleged victim(s) and the alleged perpetrator(s).

    While not a fallacy (at least not as it generally stated) there is the “follow the money” argument.
    Potential gain is never something that can be completely ruled in or out. It must simply be treated with extreme caution. And this concept can be applied more broadly. Simply considering the possibility of monetary gain is simplistic. Human beings act on a range of complex psychological motives, venal and noble, and any of these can potentially influence their actions. Thus one should keep a ‘weather eye out’ for the possibility that their are other motives, but set a very high bar before asserting their significant influence.

    Correlation: Correlation does not prove causality, but causality does require correlation.
    Yes, but with a VERY VERY BIG proviso. Causation, and thus correlation is not always simple! Here the concept of Proximate vs Ultimate Causation is vitally important. A may not be the Proximate cause of B. But it may be the Ultimate cause via A causes C which causes D which causes E which causes B. Similarly A may be one of several linked causes that combine to cause B. Here the ideas I discussed under Straw-Man and Argument by Authority are very relevent. Expectations of CausalCorrelational relationships can easily constitute Straw-Men unless they are carefully thought out and all possible factors are included.

    Proving a negative:
    One cannot prove negatives such as “Prove ghosts do not exist” or “Prove there are no unicorns”. However, finding a ghost or unicorn proves the statement false.
    Again with the proviso from above that arguments not be unjustifiably black-and-white strawmen. Statements such as this often unjustifiably preclude the concept that a statement my have degrees of truth or falsehood. Again, black & white thinking.

    “I include this because I am often confronted with a misunderstanding of how scientific methodology works. A scientist presents an hypothesis, the data to support it and then awaits comments and questions. It is the responsibility of the scientist to answer these questions. It is not his responsibility to point out possible errors or alternative theories. Demands to prove that humans are not the cause of climate change are asking one to prove a negative. The only thing science can do is show one theory, humans or nature, has the higher probability. That is how science works. If sun activity shows higher correlation to temperature increases than does CO2, the CO2 is a less likely cause. Remember, causality requires correlation. The item with the lower correlation is less likely to be the cause.”

    Several comments here. First, see my comments about Proximate and Ultimate causes above. Next, this is presenting the notion of a ‘hypothesis’ as an idealised, stand-alone thing, that may sink or swim on it’s own merits, independent of all other science around it. A deeply idealised notion of science. In reality, most scientific hypotheses are developed and presented as developments from earlier hypotheses – perhaps extreme pure Cosmology is an exception to this. As such a hypothesis can thus be judged by how much support there is for any prior hypotheses that it is derived from, as well as any support for the derivative hypothesis. Imagine Hypothesis A & B. both are derived from the Laws of Thermodynamics. Hypothesis A correlates much better with the data BUT it also requires the the Law of Conservation of Energy be violated. Hypothesis B correlates less well but doesn’t need the LOCOE to be broken. In comparing A & B one doesn’t simply weigh up the evidence for A & B. One also needs to weigh up the evidence for the LOCOE as well. Thus Hypothesis A carries a massively greater evidentiary burden.

    Also it is too easy to fall into the trap of thinking the data is sacrosanct. If data doesn’t correlate with a hypothesis, the hypothesis may be faulty. Equally the data may be faulty. Balanced judgement requires one to not bias judgements towards hypothesis OR data.

    A good example of this is the claim that the Tropospheric Hotspot expected in a warming world isn’t there, therefore the AGW hypothesis is wrong. This embodies an over credulous acceptance of data. Are the radiosonde records trustworthy – perhaps not, serious questions have been raised about their readings at higher altitude. Do the satellite results support this conclusion – 5 groups have analyzed satellite data with quite differing results. Do the satellite channels that are claimed to show the upper troposphere actually give a clear record of the upper troposphere alone? No, their signal includes significant components from the Stratosphere as well.

    When data and hypothesis differ, data and hypothesis are both questioned equally.

    “Climate science presents some unique problems. Much, if not most, of climate science is based on mathematics. ”
    Much, if not most of ALL science is based on mathematics. This is it’s STRENGTH! Mathematics is the great strength of science.

    “Actual readings of temperatures, sea level, etc are used, but subjected to a great deal of statistical manipulation before a conclusion is reached.”

    Say rather statistical ANALYSIS.

    Your comment embodies a profound assumption that is worthy of deeper consideration. That detailed and, yes, technical analysis of something makes it ‘much more difficult to understand’. Difficult for whom? The man in the street? You and I?

    Surely what matters more is not the ease of comprehension of something by many people, you and I included. Surely what matters is the correctness of the analysis! Which would you prefer; that everyone on the planet can understand a faulty analysis? or that a tiny number can understand a complex but correct analysis. Do we assume that correctness can be subordinated to common comprehension? So if detailed analysis, statistical or otherwise, is employed surely that is a positive, a gaining of deeper insight.

    “Gravity is a physical phenomena that is clearly demonstrable… ”
    Yeah? How’s your Tensor Calculus?

    “Climate change is not. We have limited data”
    Your opinion, not mine – I see masses of data.

    “various models and a system so complex a super computer is required to run the data.”
    – in order to calculate the fine-grained detail. But the fundamental physics can be calculated on a pocket calculator.

    “All of which can introduce error and serial error. ”
    But serial error, averaged together, is far more accurate than any individual error. It will be up to you to demonstrate otherwise – mathematically.

    “While climate science likes to say it is “certain”, it is anything but certain.”
    So who is this person called ‘climate science’? Please convince me that you aren’t just putting words into other peoples mouths. And that when you quote these statements from others that you aren’t ascribing a degree of verbal precision that they never intended. Sorry, but I have a deep distrust of the ‘so and so said…’ flavor of argument. It is too easily turned into a strawman that so and so said…..

    “It’s so much more difficult than dropping a hammer….”
    True. However, we wouldn’t want to over conflate how ‘difficult it is’ just for effect would we?

  5. Tony Duncan says:

    Those mostly are reasonable explanations.
    Of course you are engaging in what you call a straw man immediately when you contend that
    “We have limited data, various models and a system so complex a super computer is required to run the data. All of which can introduce error and serial error. While climate science likes to say it is “certain”, it is anything but certain”. Almost every climate scientist I have ever read or heard talk has been quite explicit in talking about probability and NOT certainty. EXCEPT when discussing the actual physics that is known to such a high degree that one can practically speaking call it certain.

    You also are taking Mann out of context in your presentation of “argument from persecution.”
    also “argument from persecution” and “poisoning the well” are valid criteria for assessing the reliability of a source. Nils Morner(sp) certainly deserves extra scrutiny in his assertions about sea level because of his belief in something as irrational as dowsing. Moncton’s claims about miracle cures for a host of serious ailments also suggest scrutiony of his sceintifc claims about ACC. Whereas Newton’s beleif in Alchemy or conspircay theories about the Catholic church are not so notable because of the context of his time period.
    I also disagree that a scientist has no repsonsibility to point out possible errors in his work or other hypothesis that could aslo account for the facts. A GOOD scientist does in fact do these things. a bad one does not. In fact that is an important part of the peer review system. in order to publish a paper one should be aware of the competing explanations and see which more accurately fits the data. This is certainly not always done, but it IS part of the process of science whether follwed well or not.

    • Tony–I guess I don’t read the same things you do because I have not seen Mann or any other climate scientist saying this is only probable in public. I did finally see a graph that had confidence intervals. I really think a good scientist makes it completely clear that there is not certainty in their work.
      Explain the straw man in my objections to climate science. All of it is true and it does need to be taken into account. Surely you would not argue that calculating the global mean temperature is not more fraught with errors than calculating the mean temperature outside your home. Figuring out climate is very complex–climate scientists point that out all the time. The more complexity, the more likely an error. It’s just the nature of the world.
      Logical fallacies are always wrong. Poisoning the well and argument from persecution say nothing of the truth of the science. The truth of the science is separate from the speaker. You can object, but it won’t change the reality.
      No, a GOOD scientist may state limits in his methods. If that is what you are referring to, then I agree. However, a scientist comes up with a hypothesis and then tests it. If he later wants to check another hypothesis, then he can, but that is a separate issue. It is not the job of a single scientist to look for all possibilities. Yes, I agree that part of peer review should be looking at the most likely explanations, which was the purpose of the activity when it began.
      I don’t see any other context for Mann–he clearly states that the attacks prove the thesis of his work and book. How should I interpret that?
      If you believe that “argument from persecution” is correct, that would require allowing people who are persecuted for their religion to claim they are right because they are persecuted. I have seen that done. Is that your claim? Or do you apply the argument only in select cases? Please clarify. Thank you.

Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s