Science is NOT about proof–from the mouth of Mann

“Proof is for mathematical theorems and alcoholic beverages. It’s not for science,” Mann says. “Science works in evidence through best explanations, most credible theories…..”
View story at

This is what climate science is all about–who can sell the “best theory”. Of course, if you eliminate the need for proof, you can pretty much call any theory trash and your own the best. This is the insanity to which climate change has elevated. One supposes that if a “best” theory showed we arrived here via alien ships and all our technology is from the aliens–wait, there is a theory like that and it’s pretty comprehensive. If you just leave out the “need for proof”, it actually explains things as well or better than evolution. Maybe we should replace evolution with ancient aliens and see if that theory can be sold as “better”? Maybe the aliens run the government and are suppressing the theory or it would be recognized as best by all scientists? Maybe it’s the military complex holding it back? Who knows? The “best” theory is determined by ???? Vote? Most persecuted? Person claiming to hold the truth and claiming to be ethical (no proof needed)? Wait, then we get conflicting theories, catch 22….my head hurts….No, it can’t be that one.

The actual article with the quote is the one (warning: You may want to make sure you are firmly seated before reading the article. You possibly could injure yourself laughing at Mann’s claims he is bound by “truth”.). Yes, I did check to be sure the evil Heartland, shills of the oil industry, did not misrepresent Mr. Mann, shill of the socialists and government agendas. In an effort to be fair, I included links to both articles. You can decide if it’s a oil industry conspiracy like the advocates say (yes, advocates are conspiracy theory lovers, too, just different conspiracies) or if it’s a government/socialist conspiracy to suppress the truth as the questioners say. Of course, since no PROOF is needed, I suppose in the end we decide this by coin flip. Anyone have a quarter handy????

Scientific badger

Scientific badger


36 comments on “Science is NOT about proof–from the mouth of Mann

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  2. I made it through 2 1/2 pages on Google and never found “peer review” included. How many pages did you go through to get the answers you wanted?

    Your links:
    1.The Wiki page contains links to multiple pages that do NOT include peer review. So if the source both includes and does not include, what does that prove?
    2. The AIP page diagram does NOT include peer review though the text does. Why the difference between the written word and the diagram?
    3. Regentsprep: ” It is critical for the investigator is to communicate the results with others to allow for peer review of the investigation by other scientists. This can be done in a scientific journal, through the Internet, or by other means.”   
This would allow online publication of research and the online community would serve as peer reviewers, which is what happens in the “skeptic” community. This just verifies that the questioners’ methods are valid.
    4. Research publishing is NOT the same as scientific method.
    5. The final link is mostly a discussion of what persons consider to be the scientific method. Part way down, a writer does NOT include peer review. They discuss the philosophy of science and religion, their own personal ideas of what scientific method is, etc. It’s an interesting discussion, yes. I agree with the Curtis Bartley definition. Also, it seems much of this is about computer programming–which considering climate change is basically computer models only, devoid of reality, might actually be appropriate. Still, I am going with Curtis’s list as the correct definition.

  3. Funny, when I typed in “steps in the scientific method”, I got 10 results on the first page, only ONE of which even mentioned peer review (the wiki one–and it was part of how scientific journals work). Typing “scientific method” in and looking at the first 10 images produces NOTHING with peer review. I believe you have provided what is one of the best examples ever of “cherry picking”.

  4. If you agree that my providing information explaining scientific method is all that is required. If it does not include peer-review as part of the method, then it is not part of the method, period. My guess is you did not google the phrase I gave you or you wouldn’t be back to this again.

    Again, I am being asked to prove peer-review is not part of scientific method by finding something that says it is not. You are most certainly asking for Evidence of Absence. You will not accept the absence alone. Thus, logical fallacy.

    Now, try googling what I asked you to.

  5. I agreed with the Royal Society. If peer review is broken, another method to verify scientific studies need to be developed. I agreed that study reviews involving sharing of all data, replication of the studies and open discussion of the science is necessary. Whatever the source of the study.

    “that peer review is NOT part of the scientific method”What I did not agree to what peer-reviewed journals are the only source of accurate data and that peer-review for journals is a method that works.

    “that peer review is NOT part of the scientific method” is proving a negative. That’s what the word NOT means. In the meantime, I am waiting for you come up with the biology book that states clearly that unicorns are mythical creatures. Otherwise, how can I know that unicorns were never real? So where’s the proof? Or do you agree unicorns could have been real? Perhaps as you search, you will come to understand what “proving a negative” really mean.

    • youkipper says:

      “I am waiting for you come up with the biology book that states clearly that unicorns are mythical creatures. ”

      That is not a fair challenge.

      Firstly, I have never asked you for a science book, only a credible source – ie not from a some pseudo-science website.

      Secondly, you should have provided evidence from several links from credible sources showing Unicorns are not mythical first, just like I have provided you with several links from credible sources and scientific academies showing the importance of peer review to science.

      However it is childishly easy to find credible links stating clearly that unicorns are mythical creatures.

      From wikipedia;
      “The unicorn is a legendary animal ”

      unicorn; a mythical creature resembling a horse, with a single horn in the center of its forehead

      unicorn; a mythical creature resembling a horse, with a single horn in the center of its forehead

      UNICORN: a mythical animal generally depicted with the body and head of a horse, the hind legs of a stag, the tail of a lion, and a single horn in the middle of the forehead

      unicorn; a mythical animal typically represented as a horse with a single straight horn projecting from its forehead.

      Many of the above sites are the same sources I used to show what peer review was and it’s importance to the scientific method. They are right about unicorns just as they are right about peer review.

      So all that leaves you in an interesting light;

      You have managed to provide exactly the same amount of evidence to show that peer review isn’t important in the scientific method as you have to show unicorns exist.

      • It is indeed a fair challenge. I am asking you to prove a negative just like you are asking me to do. It also matters not that the sources may be right on one subject. They can be wrong on others. Unless they are omniscient.

        Anyone who understands logical fallacies will understand exactly what I am saying and why it is correct. Until you stop requesting that I answer a fallacy, I will not provide sources. Hint: Maybe you could look up the steps involved on Google–try using “scientific method steps”. It’s probably best to stick to universities and so forth, though not absolutely necessary.

    • youkipper says:

      How is it a fair challenge when you cannot support your own position, be that unicorns exist or that you know better than the scientific academies what is important to the scientific method?

      “Anyone who understands logical fallacies will understand exactly what I am saying and why it is correct.”

      I more than adequately understand logical fallacies and you are not being asked to prove a negative. being asked to prove a negative is being asked to provide Evidence of absence
      or Proof of impossibility. I have asked neither.

      You are being ask to provide credible evidence to support a belief. A belief I have already shown to be wrong in the eyes of experts.

  6. Because peer review is not a part of scientific method and your claim is in error. It is in line with followers of the belief that climate change is caused by CO2 humans put in the atmosphere, but it is not part of actual scientific method. I offered to give you definitions of the scientific method but you wanted me to prove a negative (a definition that says peer review is not part of scientific method) rather than an actual definition. When your request does not include a logical fallacy, I will post the definitions. Otherwise, there’s no reason to answer.

    • youkipper says:

      “Because peer review is not a part of scientific method and your claim is in error.”

      I have now given you many links for evidence on this and another thread showing how it is considered the cornerstone of the scientific method and is regarded indispensable by the most credible scientific academies so please don’t claim someone is in error when all you have done is ignore all the evidence set out before you.

      “I offered to give you definitions of the scientific method but you wanted me to prove a negative (a definition that says peer review is not part of scientific method) rather than an actual definition.”

      That isn’t being asked to prove a negative it is being asked to prove positively that peer review is not part of the scientific method. How else can you do it if every credible scientific institution states how vital it is to the way their scientists work?

      I am not even asking you to admit your are wrong, just asking you to admit the truth. Why not simply admit that you can provide no evidence from a credible scientific source that you are correct and that I have supplied numerous examples that I, rather than be in error are correct?

      Unless of course you have evidence that the likes of the Royal Society, in existence for over 350 years, doesn’t know as much about the scientific method as you do.

  7. If truth does not come from peer review, then there is no reason to use only peer-reviewed journal articles. All science research should be considered when looking at climate change research–both from those who agree and those who do not. From any source. If the research is done well and the results are statistically valid, it matters not the source.

  8. youkipper says:


    “The truth in science is NOT determined by a journal publisher. Only an idiot would make that claim, yet climate advocates do it all the time.”

    A horrendeous straw man there RC, followed by an insult. I assume your blog rules don’t apply to yourself. What have I said that made you believe I think a journal publisher determines science? Publishers don’t peer review, I thought you understood all this?

    Cleary you never bothered to read any of the links describing what the scientific method and peer review was. Believing you understand the scientific method and actually doing so are somewhat different. From the first link; “Many people think that the process of peer review is meant to settle the actual validity of the work, and that in any paper that has passed peer review, the science is entirely correct. This is not the case.”

    “Peer- review is NOT part of the scientific method.”

    Yes it is. All the links I gave on your other thread and now repeated here show just important it is. To repeat a quote from the first link, “Peer review is a key part of the scientific method, where the goal of the system is to ensure that work is stripped of biases, unjustified assumptions and other errors, through the review by one’s professional colleagues.”

    “If you rely on peer-review, you eliminate the vast majority of all research as valid.”

    I’ll ask the same question here as I did on your other thread; Name one single piece of scientific acquired knowledge, in any scientific field, that has been accepted without peer review? And if you believe it to be accepted then how do we know that it has been stripped of biases, unjustified assumptions and other errors?

    “ If only peer-review makes them valid, we have to reject those that agree with climate change that were not peer-reviewed.”

    If you are referring to ‘research’, then Yes, we pretty much have to do just that. Can you list any examples you think I might accept but should now reject?

    Peer review existed before journals, the journals are just the way peer review has become to be tracked and recorded.

    “It depends on what Hansen and the questioner scientist are saying. If Hansen is claiming the oceans will boil, then that’s not science and it’s not intended to educate.”

    Indeed. Has Hansen ever said such a thing?

    “I can go out and encourage people to damage wind turbines because they are evil and must go. That’s activism. Or, I can explain why they are damaging and why they should not be put up. That’s science.”

    I agree with the first part, but I doubt your opinion of ‘damaging wind turbines’, unless peer reviewed and accepted scientifically, could ever be called science – it will only ever be opinion. What if you spoke at meetings and conferences about your opinion on ‘damaging wind turbines’? Is that activism?

    • Not a straw man–you are claiming that truth in science comes from journal publishers and reviewers. It’s not an insult–I sincerely cannot fathom why anyone would claim a journal determines the truth in science. Consider it a momentary outburst. I will give myself a first warning since you felt it was an insult.
      I am waiting for the paper rejected by peer-review that illustrates how bad science would be published without peer-review.
      I note that you would reject anything not peer-reviewed. Let’s say Marcott did not try to publish his doctoral thesis in a journal. Then I could have called it bunk and rejected it, right? I bet if I had time I could find a lot of such examples–doctoral research in climate change that is in complete agreement with the published journals but never submitted or accepted, all which I can now reject according to you. The only thing that makes Marcott an authority versus a no one is that he submitted the paper for publication and was accepted. The same paper without peer-review is garbage. I don’t understand that.
      I answered much of this on the other thread. No need to repeat here. (Other thread is “Qualifications”)
      Yes, Hansen has said such a thing. There is a video on YouTube and transcripts available. The words are definitely his. I could not make such things up. (Google Hansen oceans will boil for multiple links, including the YouTube video.)
      As for speaking on wind turbines at a conference, if I present just the science on them, no, it is not activism. If I present my opinion, then yes, it is. However, I don’t get paid for studying wind turbines or doing research on them, so I am not claiming to be an impartial scientist while advocating against wind. If I studied them and was paid to do so, then I would have to refrain from speaking for or against the

      • youkipper says:

        Reality check says:
        August 20, 2013 at 5:11 pm

        “Not a straw man–you are claiming that truth in science comes from journal publishers and reviewers.”

        A ‘straw man’ is when someone claims something that isn’t exactly the case and then knocks it down by proving what isn’t the case to be wrong.

        The ‘straw man’ here, which should be pretty obvious to anyone, is that I have never claimed ‘that truth in science comes from journal publishers and reviewers’.

        My last comment clearly said;

        ‘From the first link; “Many people think that the process of peer review is meant to settle the actual validity of the work, and that in any paper that has passed peer review, the science is entirely correct. This is not the case.”’

        I don’t want to come across as insulting so I won’t even hazard a guess at why you are claiming the exact polar opposite to what I have said to knock it down but I just ask you to explain why you have done this.

        I may comment on the rest of what you said afterwards.

  9. PeterB in Indianapolis says:

    Nothing, not even science, is EVER completely impartial. If something is done by humans, then that something cannot fail to be influenced by the biases of the human doing it.

    Certainly, GOOD scientists try to recognize their own biases and eliminate them from their own research (which, clearly, many climatologists fail miserably to do), but absolutely nothing we humans do can ever be completely impartial. If we are honest about this, we do our best.

  10. PeterB in Indianapolis says:

    Youkipper keeps saying that RC “doesn’t understand the scientific method” and yet he NEVER makes any attempt to explain what HE MEANS when he says “scientific method”. From the general tenor of the conversation, I strongly suspect that Youkipper doesn’t really understand the scientific method, and that may be the root of the problem.

  11. No–I made it clear that not all science is available to the public.

    Activists are never impartial. How can James Hansen do research impartially when he is totally, 1000% invested in the AGW idea? Or is research not impartial? How can Hansen even consider a study that would prove him wrong? He can’t and you know that.

    • youkipper says:

      I repeat, no one is ever impartial. They can all voice their opinions and claim what ever they want. But if their claims are not supported by their own or others research then they can be taken as the opinion of laymen. Only what they publish scientifically can be judged seriously.That is what the scientific method and peer review is for. You say you understand that. There is no magic line that a scientists crosses.

      Many have been activists and advocates based on what they have discovered through their research.There has never been a single case of a scientist becoming a non scientist based on what they believe. Mann and Jones are still both scientists, still belong to their scientific academies working as professors for universities, publishing research papers etc.

      Are you saying there is a difference between Hansen speaking in support of environmental groups and contranian scientists speaking on behalf of conservative think tanks at events?

      They all do it, and have always done it, but you are just singling out the scientists you choose to disagree with.

      • The truth in science is NOT determined by a journal publisher. Only an idiot would make that claim, yet climate advocates do it all the time. The truth is determined by experiments and repeatability, triple checking etc. Peer- review is NOT part of the scientific method. If you rely on peer-review, you eliminate the vast majority of all research as valid. Most studies never get into peer-reviewed journals. If only peer-review makes them valid, we have to reject those that agree with climate change that were not peer-reviewed.

        It depends on what Hansen and the questioner scientist are saying. If Hansen is claiming the oceans will boil, then that’s not science and it’s not intended to educate. If the questioner says climate change is all part of a global conspiracy to bring in socialism, then that is not science and it’s not intended to educate. It is the nature of the speech that makes it activism. I can go out and encourage people to damage wind turbines because they are evil and must go. That’s activism. Or, I can explain why they are damaging and why they should not be put up. That’s science.

        I am not singling out the scientists I disagree with–If you actually read what I write, you would know that I do not give any group blanket approval and will call out questioners just as I do skeptics.

  12. youkipper says:

    I will stop repeating myself but will ask you one simple question, Should any scientist, or group that is subject to FOIA requests no longer be considered as producing scientific evidence or research?

    Think very carefully as including exceptions to your rule afterwards might be deemed hypocritical. Yes or No.

    “Also, you just verified that a scientist cannot be an activist. Activist are NOT impartial and they do not try to be.”

    ‘Activist’ and ‘Impartial’ are not opposites nor mutually exclusive words. Almost all of us can be considered ‘activists’ about things we are passionate about – as you are about the subjects you blog about. It doesn’t blinker us to being impartial.

    I also have no idea what word, comment or line you find ‘insulting’.

  13. Again–warning. You continue to insult rather than provide actual evidence. Either explain why climate science is “secret” or “part of the government” and requires a FOIA document, or stop. Why is the research not open to ALL scientists, as it should be? Science is NOT about secrets except in corporations or the military. Climate science is claimed to be neither. Is it about corporations or the military?

    Peer review CANNOT be impartial. They are peers–people who work in the same field as the writer. If a reviewer disagrees with the majority, their papers can rejected in the future and they cannot publish. I think that is what you now see with questioners. I have read the papers that questioners write–their “flaw” is they disagree. The research is done properly, the conclusion follows from the research, but it is not what the reviewers want to read. That’s not impartial.

    Also, you just verified that a scientist cannot be an activist. Activist are NOT impartial and they do not try to be.

  14. youkipper says:

    I know what FOIA stands for and I also know it doesn’t determine what anything is. Certainly not science. I’m sorry that you cant grasp this simple concept and don’t really understand what science is but there is little else I can do if you continually repeat falsehoods. Even if you really believe them don’t make them so.

    Scientists are not impartial, they are people like everyone else, science tries to be impartial through peer review and peer criticism.

  15. “The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a law that gives you the right to access information from the federal government. It is often described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government.” ( from the FOIA site) To further explain-“impartial” climate research should not be hidden by the government unless there’s either something they do not want you to know or they are using the information in ways that are problematic. Why is this research “secret” and has to be obtained through this act? What is the justification for hiding it?

    A scientist searches for the truth. An activist determines what should be done with the knowledge. A scientist is impartial, an activist cannot be.

    Yes, at the point they started to advocate for what should be done with the knowledge. If they merely defended the theory, then no.

  16. youkipper says:

    “Yes, FOIA requests certainly do apply to whether or not something is science.”

    No it doesn’t – nor ever. FOIA requests can be concerned about almost anything but they cannot determine what anything is.

    Being an activist does not change anyone’s qualifications or research. Many scientists have become activists based on what they have learned from their research. There is nothing wrong with ‘preaching’ based on what you have proven to be true. Scientists standing by their conclusions in the face of opposition, promoting their implications and advocating measures to take and to learn more and protect people and their environments is arguably the most important outcome of scientific research. This cannot be left up to politicians if the public who vote for them are not made aware of the implications.

    Somehow I know you wont agree, so perhaps you can clearly define the difference and the line between communicating your research to the world and being an activist for it?

    You might like to consider that Galileo championed heliocentrism which was controversial within his lifetime and defended his views, Darwin had to overcome rejection from both church and public and had to endure satires and caricatures in the media, much as Mann has actually, Fossy had a BSc and was a zoologist, and many of the medical researchers who worked as campaigners, activists and advocates on tobacco restrictions are still researching and have arguably saved many thousands of lives. Lets not forget the atmospheric physicists who pushed for CFC retrictions when they realised that damage to the ozone was being caused.

    Are you truly saying these people were no longer scientists?

  17. Yes, FOIA requests certainly do apply to whether or not something is science. Science is supposed to be open and publicly debatable. FOIA is required for corporate secrets and government secrets. Unless climate science is now corporate property, there should be no reason to need FOIA.

    Yes, being an activist does stop him from being a scientist. If he is preaching CAGW or just AGW, he is going to avoid research that could prove himself wrong and avoid data that would prove him wrong. It’s human nature. He loses everything so he is not going to be looking for errors and omissions. Yes, the same applies to MDs who push for restrictions on any activities (it changes the way they treat patients and what they read in journals) and to Dian Fossey (who was an activist only, so far as I can tell. Her activism overshadowed everything else). Galileo and Darwin really don’t fit activist–just scientists who were at odds with religion. At odds is not the same as activism.

    Scientists explain and discover–it is up to politicians, activists and others to decide what to do with the knowledge.

  18. youkipper says:

    FOIA requests have no connection on whether something is a scientific theory or not. As I have said – you don’t really appear to understand the scientific method.

    I’m not really sure what you mean to achieve by the rest of your comment. Mann has no obligation to say anything other than what his research shows. He is a scientist by every definition and even if he is an activist, that doesn’t stop him being a scientist. It just puts him in the company of many other scientists who stood up for the conclusions of their research in the face of opposition. Scientists like Galileo and Darwin who were faced with upsetting the religious establishment, MDs who pushed for restrictions in the selling and use of tobacco, Dian Fossey and others like her who campaigned for wildlife reserves and protection.

  19. Show me where Michael Mann shared data openly, without a FOIA request. It’s not a scientific theory if you hide all the data and models.

    From your apparently favorite source, Wikipedia (which, by the way, is not evidence or proof of anything–it’s what people write on the website but since you like it…..)
    Warner, Frank (2010-01-03). “Penn State climate professor: ‘I’m a skeptic'”. The Morning Call. Archived from the original on 2010-07-06. Retrieved 2010-07-06. “And in a wide-ranging interview, Mann says that not all global warming science is settled. It’s not yet certain, for example, that the heat is reducing the world population of polar bears or that it increases the number of hurricanes, he said.”

    As far as I can tell, there is NO admission that AGW is not real and settled, only that the actual damage details that can be attributed to it are unsettled. I can find nowhere were Mann says there is any chance AGW is wrong and we are not harming the planet. His only concession is we cannot accurately predict the exact future details, except the temperature will start rising again soon, any day now. Thus, I cannot see where he indicates the possibility of error in the actual theory itself.

    IF the science is NOT settled, why are the scientists not buying ads and saying the media is at fault–the science is not settled, we could be wrong. Our models have missed the mark several times and we are afraid the media is incorrectly representing us. That would be what real scientists do. Plus sharing data and openly debating the issues.

    Michael Mann is an activist, NOT a scientist and the two actions are mutually exclusive.

  20. youkipper says:

    “If science does not do proof, it CANNOT be settled, ever.”

    Quite right. No scientist has ever said it has. I think you will find the ‘scientist is settled’ fallacy wasn’t from a scientist but first used by politicians;

    As I said Mann understands the scientific method, you do not.

  21. If science does not do proof, it CANNOT be settled, ever. That “remote possibility” is what makes it unsettled. Mostly, it is the degree of predictability which plagues climate science theories–even at 95% confidence, the models are wrong. Plus, the margins of error are of often very large. Not good science. Which is the point that questioners are always trying to make. It appears that Mann does NOT understand science because he insists he is absolutely right and cannot be proven wrong. He does this by having his friends publish his ideas and vote them to be correct. Also, by changing the story if the model fails–now it’s natural causes overcoming CO2, something that was never said before. This in NOT science. It’s popular voting. It’s models and fudged data. (That is Hansen’s current explanation as to why the 5 year running mean is now flat.)

    This is a fair explanation of law, theory and hypothesis. I would note that gravity is not a theory, it is a law, which seems to indicate your understanding of science is not as strong as one would hope:

    Notes on Scientific Laws, Theories and Hypotheses
    A very common mistake of non-scientists and, believe it or not, some scientists, is to fail to correctly distinguish between scientific laws, theories and hypotheses. The difference is not just semantics. Conceptually, a scientific law is something very different from a theory. Following are some definitions, followed by some explanation and a few examples.

    Scientific Law A scientific law is an empirical (ie based on experimental evidence) statement of great generality of something which seems to always be true.

    Scientific Hypothesis A scientific hypothesis is a tentative explanation of an observation or pattern which has been observed in nature.

    Scientific Theory A scientific theory is an explanation of a natural phenomenon with a broad range of significance and application.

    The chief distinction between a scientific law, on the one hand, and a theory or hypothesis on another, is that a law is a generalization. It is NOT an explanation. It is the result of induction. It is an empirical (ie based on observation alone) statement of something which always appears to be true.
    Hypotheses and theories, on the other hand, are an attempt to explain what has been observed. Often scientists form theories to explain laws.
    There are two important distinctions between scientific hypotheses and theories. Remember that these two concepts are fairly similar to one another, while a law is something very different. Theories and hypotheses are both explanations, but a theory is different, in general, in that;
    1. It has much more experimental support and
    2. It is a much broader statement, with a wide variety of potential applications
    than a hypothesis. Hypotheses are more tentative, but even more importantly, they apply to a rather specific and narrow set of circumstances, while a theory applies to a great number of problems.
    The distinction is best explained by using practical examples which most of us are at least somewhat familiar with.
    1. The Law of Gravity. This law tells us the size of the gravitational force, but it does not explain why gravity exists or even why it is as strong as it is.
    2. The First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics. The first law of thermodynamics tells us that every experiment ever done leads to the conclusion that energy is always conserved. It is an empirical fact, but it is not an explanation. The second law of thermodynamics is extremely successful at predicting what processes are spontaneous, but it cannot explain why entropy increase causes spontaneity.
    1. The theory of evolution is a theory (as opposed to a hypothesis) because it has very broad applications and explanatory power. We can explain the entire fossil record and the genetic code of all plants, animals and other forms of life using this theory. It is the breadth of the theory more than the amount of support which makes it a theory. In fact, the day it was published (1859 by Darwin) it was already a theory, not just a hypothesis, not because of all the support (the support was still fairly weak at the time) but because of the wide range of things it could explain.
    Consider the following two predictions/explanations:
    a. Compound A will prevent the spread of bacteria B because….
    b. Compounds in the category A will have broad ability to kill microbes because….
    Explanation a. is a hypothesis, while explanation b. is a theory. Explanation a. covers a very specific example and it does not have broad implications. Explanation b. is about a whole category of compounds and their application in a very broad range of microbes.

    Sample question: Law, theory or hypothesis?
    a. In every case, male birds are either similar or more colorful than their female counterparts .
    b. Zinc in the diet will lower the rate and intensity of viral outbreaks.
    c. There is a strong connection between nutrition and a variety of cancers.
    a. is a law. It is a statement of something which appears to always be true, but it is not an explanation of anything.
    b. is a hypothesis. It is a very specific prediction about the connection between one thing and one other thing.
    c. is a theory. It is a broad statement that nutrition in general can have an impact on a range of very different kinds of cancer.

    This is from

    While evolution is considered a theory, there is some question as to using “random chance” as an explanation for something. Natural selection is closer to a theory, though personally, based on the criteria above, it’s actually closer to a law. It explains what happens.

    I will concede that part of the problem here is the very fast and loose use of the terms law, theory and hypothesis. There’s also the problems with models–computer simulations are not reality and do not constitute proof of any kind. It has to work in the real world, which means data, shared models and quadruple checking by ANY scientist who can do the calculus and read the theory. Mann has a degree in physics, so any scientist with the same degree is qualified to go through and verify the theory.

  22. youkipper says:

    Glenn is correct, Science doesn’t do proof, only theories that fit the evidence. Gravity is a theory, it has never been proven. If you hold a brick with the intention of letting it go the theory suggests it will fall. No one can prove it will despite the almost certainty that it will. That is how science works, there is always the possibility, however remote, of some undiscovered process that could alter established theories. Climate contarians thrive on that remote possibility. Mann understands science, you clearly do not.

  23. It’s not a piece of twaddle. A scientist saying “proof is not necessary” is a serious problem. Yes, science is about the degree of certainty with which we can know something. Climate science fails. Take arctic ice–the model predicted it would occur much later, which means the model was not accurate. Therefore, it cannot rise to the level of “theory” if the model is not accurate. It’s an hypothesis.

    Actually, Michael Mann has the most unreasonable expectations. His argument is “trust me, I’m a scientist and I won’t lie”. That is EXACTLY the claim from the other side. They claim their models are correct, they are scientists and they wouldn’t lie. So tell me, without just tossing a coin or voting on who to believe, how do you bottom line decide what is a “theory” and what is a bunch of numbers and algorithms strung together are. A “theory” has to testable and falsifiable. It’s a requirement of science.

    Call it standard if you like. Science is science and trying to convince people that a P value makes something “science” won’t change that. Demanding people “trust” you because you are a scientist is not science. Even if 97% of those with the proper published data say so.

    Show me where Michael Mann has openly stated that his hockey stick could be wrong and invited ALL scientists to examine the data and see if he is correct or not, and I’ll reconsider my position that this is not science.

  24. Glenn Tamblyn says:

    Oh good grief RC.

    You aren’t buying into this piece of twaddle are you. Mann is absolutely right. Science isn’t about ‘proof’, its not about knowing something with 100.00000000% certainty because that isn’t possible in Science, only in maths.

    Science is about the degree of certainty with which we can know something. And much of what we know in science, including the underlying physics of climate change is known beyond all reasonable doubt.

    This is just another example of a so-called ‘skeptic’ trying to create a smoke screen of uncertainty through one of the standard rhetorical tricks of ‘skeptics’ – unreasonable expectations. The standard skeptic crusade to spread FUD, combined with taking advantage of the layman’s lack of understanding of how terminology is used in science. At least you haven’t added the ‘its just a theory’ nonsense but this post will encourage those who don’t understand what the term ‘theory’ means to do just that.

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