What to do when good religion goes bad

This is not a science post, but rather address the unholy alliance of the Pope and global warming believers*

Should Catholics support their church with the Pope spewing lies about climate change? Morally, that would be monetarily supporting evil. So no, you should not be donating to a church that is spreading lies and misinformation. If the Pope wants to redistribute money forcibly, which is what global warming advocates are demanding, there is no reason to support this action, unless you believe God wants money taken from those who work and produce and given to those who have not yet succeeded. I know of no Biblical statement to that effect. It was said to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s, but if the church joins forces with Caesar (which now the case), there is no admonition about double-dipping for funds. Until the church separates itself from Caesar, no more donations should be made. God is not the government and the government should not be elevated to Godhood. That is morally wrong, no matter who tries to convince you of it.

Assuming one wishes to believe the Pope on global warming, the remainder of the encyclical teaches abortion is wrong, restricts contraception, and denounces homosexuality. So, to avoid “cherry picking”, global warming followers are expected to believe all parts of their hero’s encyclical.  To do otherwise would be wrong and hypocritical. That or lay off the claims of fossil fuel conspiracies, belief in pseudoscience, etc as reasons to dismiss skeptics.  If belief in “conspiracies” and pseudoscience are grounds to doubt skeptics, then alliance with religion should be grounds to doubt global warming believers.
On the flip side, if we return to extreme poverty, living in villages and hunting food, that in and of itself is a form of population control. Women had many children but only a few survived to adulthood. This may be a way of limiting population by government decree without ever revealing the actual intention. One could then say that no contraception was used and that God’s will was the child not grow up. It’s an odd argument, but it could actually yield a solution that satisfies both the Pope and the environmentalists.  A win-win for politics, not so much for religion and a complete loss for science.

*I am using global warming believers since AP is now calling skeptics “doubters”.  Believers are the opposite of doubters.

It’s a Conspiracy

“Conspiracy”–as part of the climate debate

Accusations of conspiracy, conspiracy ideation and so forth are often leveled at questioners (aka skeptics). Just what is a conspiracy? By broadest definition, virtually any group: “any concurrence in action; combination in bringing about a given result.” (dictionary.com, fifth definition)

More common definitions are:
The free dictionary–
4. A joining or acting together, as if by sinister design

“a belief that some covert but influential organization is responsible for a circumstance or event”

A conspiracy theory is an explanatory proposition that accuses two or more people, a group or an organization of having caused or covered up, through deliberate collusion, an event or phenomenon of great social, political or economic impact.

Wiki and several other sources indicated that until the mid-60’s the term was mostly neutral. Now, it is used to dismiss claims—it implies the claim is ridiculous, irrational, etc and should not even be considered. It is this usage one finds in climate science debate.

I became curious just how many claims of conspiracy are present in the debate. Lewendoski did a paper examining conspiracy ideation on skeptic blogs. The paper had multiple problems, to say the least (and at least nine lives, it seems—it keeps coming back). In order to avoid the 100% author-subjective characterizations of Lewendoski, my research started with sites that identify themselves as conspiracy sites. I basically Googled “conspiracies” and “conspiracy sites” to get a list. I make no claim that this is a representative sample. I went with whichever sites looked promising. These are my results:
1. UFO digest—has articles from both views
2. Above Top Secret—against solutions but not science/has both sides
3. Prison Planet—does not believe
4. Jesse Ventura—does not believe
5. Godlike Productions—has both views
6. Zetatalk—could not tell
7. Cassiopaea.org—couldn’t tell
8. Alex Jones (infowars)—does not believe
9. Disinfo.com—seems to have both views
10. Illumanti Conspiracy Archive—seems not to believe
11. Homestead (CA)– chemtrails are bioremediation
12. David Icke—Does not believe (once did)
13. Flat Earth Society—president believes, not all may agree with him
14. Conspiracy Planet—does not believe
15. Escape the Illusion—pro climate change

In the spirit of full disclosure, there were several websites that caused me headaches when trying to understand their positions (four total). These were eliminated. Others had no commentary I could find using the web sites’s search box. These, too, were eliminated. So the actual totals are for those that presented an opinion that was easily discernible.

My results:
Pro 3
Both 4
Con 6
Unknown 2

What have we learned from this?
More conspiracy sites chosen (6/12) state skeptical positions.
Some conspiracy sites chosen (4/12) allow more open discussion than climate change advocate sites
Googling and reading conspiracy websites may result in bad things creeping onto your computer (update than malware/virus software frequently) and you may suffer some mental fatigue in attempting to decipher the sites (maybe why Lewendosky just assigned values?)

So can we conclude questioners are just a bunch of conspiracy nuts? Well, no.
First, I noted the complete lack of scientific method here. Second, we would need to know if advocates who believe in conspiracies just don’t use websites (if some of these people live off the grid, to save the planet and/or hide from the government, they probably avoid electronic media) and third, much time can be spent developing and researching something that in the end is pretty much useless.

What if we look at some comments from advocates to be sure they’re not into conspiracy theories:

“Distrust of the climate experts was encouraged by corporations and political interests that opposed any government influence in the economy. “ AIP

“Hartmut Grabl, a climate researcher and the former director at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, says there is a political component to climate skepticism.
‘Some of them even get paid, by big oil companies for example, to undermine climate change,’ he says. Grable believes small groups, financed by big interest, are often sent to climate conferences to listen to the arguments at hand and find ways to dispute them.” (This used to be called science—questioning the theory and it’s proofs. Also, the same tactics are seen by advocate bloggers that the skeptics are accused of here—tag team the “skeptic” blogs and see if you can stir up hate and discontent among skeptics.)

“A secret funding organization in the United States that guarantees anonymity for its billionaire donors has emerged as a major operator in the climate “counter movement” to undermine the science of global warming, The Independent has learnt.”

“Climate skeptics, or deniers as they are often called, are presented as all-powerful forces bankrolled by rich corporations who have wielded their awesome power to block efforts to deal with the threat of human caused climate change. How do we know that climate skeptics have such power? As Martin Wolf explains, it is the “world’s inaction” on climate policy which reveals their power.”

“I would like to see what (alien) technology there might be that could eliminate the burning of fossil fuels within a generation … that could be a way to save our planet,” Paul Hellyer, 83, told the Ottawa Citizen.”

Seems at least some believers subscribe to conspiracy theories. The continual claims of oil company payouts, etc, certainly lean toward, if not fall into, conspiracy territory. Whether or not persons expressing these views subscribe to other conspiracy theories was not studied.

In the end, it comes down to many people believe in one or more conspiracy theories on both the advocate side and questioner side. Belief in conspiracies outside of climate change (e.g. 9/11, moon walk hoax, etc) has no bearing on a person’s climate change views. A person can believe in the moon walk “hoax” and still be correct in their climate change views.

Climate change is not right or wrong because Koch’s gave money to Heartland, because socialists believe in it, because industry may or may not be out to get environmentalists, and so forth. It is right or wrong on how well the theory fits the real data (not models). Right now, the fit is becoming less and less. That is why one should question the theory.

Scientific Badger

Scientific Badger

As the science spirals…..

Once upon a time, there was a group of scientists who discovered what they believed to be a warming of the planet, caused by humans burning fossil fuels.  This elite group of scientists spent years studying the subject, had very advanced degrees and numerous published papers.  They were the best of the best–the supreme and infallible authorities on climate change and how humans were destroying the only planet they had.

Then came the skeptics.  Those pesky people asking uncomfortable questions about the science. How dare they????  These were Authorities–one does not question authorities.  Yet skeptics did and the skeptics refused to back down and go away.

The climate scientists supporters started simply saying that NO ONE who did not have a degree in or has worked for years in climate science and published beaucoup papers was a valid authority. This would eliminate most of the skeptics and the others would not amount to a threat.  And for a while, that seemed to work.  People knew the difference between “real science” and those pesky wannabes out there questioning climate change.

All was not well in the kingdom, however.  The skeptics kept hitting on plateauing temperatures.  The climate scientists started using words like “stalling” and assuring everyone the warming would pick up again.  Some went so far as to say nature might temporarily be overwhelming what we humans were adding, though that would not continue indefinitely.

The biggest change, however, was the newly defined “authority” or perhaps “who is okay to listen to” would be a better term.  It began with a psychologist writing a paper about conspiracy theories and skeptics (which is totally irrelevant to the science and basically name-calling) which did apparently finally get published somewhere.  This allowed into the arena “social science” in place of the “hard science” of the past.  No longer did climate change scientists care if it was getting warmer, only how to make people believe it was.  Then there was the graduate student who created a new hockey stick–in his doctoral thesis.  He was hailed as vindication for Mann.  He had no “years of experience” .  His degree was not climate science.  After that, a blogger became the new hero.  This was for his “citizen” science–an internet survey to prove 97% consensus on authorities believing in climate change.  (Is it not interesting that the 97% number remains constant over years and years and whatever the approach to measuring consensus?  Almost unheard of in the world of surveys and polling, yet there it is, over and over and over.)  This blogger that clearly indicated he “was not a scientist” (thought he does have a degree in physics).  This blogger that now is associated with a university in Australia.  His qualifications seem to be “well-known” so people recognize his name and appears to agree with everything climate change tells him.  His “research” was an internet survey.

In the last couple of years, climate science has gone from “expert with advanced degree and years of experience and peer-reviewed journals” to “any guy who agrees with us and we can use to further our cause using internet surveys or whatever it takes”.  This is good news for skeptics.  No longer can the climate change advocates claim that skeptics are not “qualified”.  Many, many skeptics have degrees in science, some write blogs.  Of course they don’t agree with the climate change science, but that is the only qualification they lack.  Since it’s science we are talking about , that agreement is actually considered “unscientific”.  After all, Darwin and Einstein didn’t poll scientists to get consensus before presenting their theories. Nor did they take consensus polls after presenting the theory.  Scientists who disagreed with Einstein were not vilified (probably not so Darwin, but that, like climate change, had more to do with science eliminating God and replacing Him with science).  Only religion forbids disagreement.  So the “agreement” qualification is moot.  Virtually everything advocates objected to in skeptics has become part of the advocate side now.  No years of experience, writing on things outside climate science if they sell your cause, and blogging as a gateway to becoming a bona fide climate science researcher.

When climate change advocates start claiming lack of experience or lack of degree disqualifies skeptics, just say “Lewandowski”, “Marcott” and “Cook”.  When the discussion of the current “pause” in warming comes up, just say “nature overwhelming manmade”.  It seems climate science has become that which they criticized.  Desperate measures for desperate times, I think.

Argument from Authority

Much of the power of the CAGW position relies on argument from appropriate authority.

As of 1978, the word appropriate was not in the term.  Appropriate was added in the hopes of making a logical fallacy valid.  I have searched but cannot find where the change originated.  Since most frequently I see the term used when discussing CAGW, I suspect that may be the origin of the change.

What does the insertion of “appropriate” do for science or any other discipline (Carl Sagan said there were no authorities in science)  CAGW is supposed to be so complex only a climate scientist could understand it.  A condescending remark at best.  Basic science is understood by many.  Poor experimental design, name-calling, bullying–many people recognize this as not science.

For now, I will ignore the truth/falsity of the claim and go with the idea that there is an appropriate authority.  What is a climate scientist?  Consider the following scientists, based on actual scientists out there today:

Scientist A     PhD in physics and geology               Scientist H     PhD  in paleontology

Scientist B     PhD in atmospheric science            Scientist I     PhD in meteorology

Scientist C     PhD in meteorology                       Scientist J   PhD in environmental science

Scientist D    PhD in meteorology                       Scientist K      PhD in Ecology/Climatology

Scientist E     PhD in physics                                 Scientist L      PhD in applied mathematics

Scientist F     PhD in meteorology                            Scientist M     PhD in physics

Scientist G     PhD in theoretical physics

Which of these are climate science experts?  Which are climate scientists?  One could inquire about their GPA, the subject and content of their master’s and doctoral thesis in an effort to find the most qualified in their field.  The best and the brightest should be the appropriate authority, right?

That was not the choice of CAGW followers.  The criteria chosen was how many peer-reviewed articles each scientist had published.

First question:  How does writing a paper indicate who is brilliant and who is not?

Second question:  Who determines which journals qualify as peer-reviewed?  (Hint–it’s the same people who benefit from the classification of said journals.)

So the definition of the authority is independent of degree, schooling, thesis subject, and so forth.  It depends entirely on how many articles are published in approved journals.

I cannot find any justification for defining an expert as someone who can get a small number of peers to give his paper a thumbs up.  The small number of papers published versus papers written would also indicate a great deal of luck in getting the paper published.  Name recognition probably helps.  In addition, there are a lot of papers that are quite good that will never see the anointed status of “peer-reviewed” even though they were excellent papers with no errors in them.  Unless someone can empirically prove that publishing papers makes you smarter, faster and cooler than the guys with the exact same degree and education, this is not proof of expertise.  It’s an arbitrary definition that allows CAGW to choose whom they want to call authorities and control the story line.  One would also need to explain why a PhD in physics supporting CAGW with publishing in peer-reviewed journals makes you a superstar while the same degree means nothing if you disagree with the CAGW and are not published.  The education is the same–the knowledge of math, computer modeling, and so forth should be easily understood by the unpublished physicist.

The argument from appropriate authority is just an attempt to convince people that a logical fallacy can be altered to produce a desired outcome. Cleverly adding words to a logical fallacy does not make it any less a fallacy.  It’s still argument from authority and it’s still invalid.

One response I have seen to the authority question is concerning doctors.  You don’t go to a cardiologist for dentistry and vice-versa.  You don’t go to a cardiologist for treatment of dental problems, but cardiologists can and do recommend trips to the dentist.  Dentists and hygienists are trained to look for signs of heart disease and diabetes, mouth cancer, etc.  They don’t treat the problems but they can recognize the need for someone trained in another field to take a look.  One would hope if a patient went to a cardiologist on the recommendation of their dentist, the cardiologist would not tell them the dentist is overstepping his bounds and send them home.

Also, specialists in medicine look for what they are trained in.  Go to a infectious disease specialist for treatment of thrush and you may end up with months on an anti-fungal medicine because the thrush won’t heal.  The thrush was diagnosed, so the treatment is applied and applied.  Give up, try a periodontist and an otolaryngologist and it turns out the problem is an auto-immune disorder.  Had you gone with the specialist because he was the “authority” and stubbornly stuck with him, how long would a correct diagnoses have taken?  Would it ever have occurred?  Narrow fields of study may prevent a scientist from seeing anything outside their fields.  It may well be the answer lies outside their field–and dismissing anyone outside the field as “not an appropriate authority” is destroying any chance of the truth being found.  That’s why there are no authorities in science, only data.

The  latest in peer-review:   Flatulence on airplanes: just let it go  (Abstract only–paper is pay-walled)