Roaming through the climate, politics, etc.

Politics:

Noticed Factcheck.org was spreading the LIE of 97% agreement with global warming. I have to wonder if they are so incompetent and incapable of understanding statistics, how is it I am supposed to trust their “facts”. Every study claiming 97% has been shown to be bogus—manipulated to the desired end, retracted for not “protecting identities” (couldn’t admit that the study was lie), etc. With “fact checking” like this, we probably should consult a Ouija board for future “fact checks”. At least in that case, everyone knows the answers are from someone pushing the pointer in a desired direction. It’s not about the truth and has no pretentious name for itself. Skip the “fact checkers” and go Ouija.

Other:

Henceforth, I have decided to refer to CAGW believers as hysterical chicken littles. This is not a derogatory term, much as I have been told repeatedly that “denier” is not a derogatory term. It is merely descriptive, as is “denier”. Since using the term “denier” is actually not supposed to discourage discussion, I am sure the term “hysterical chicken little” will not either. I have always been fascinated by the CAGW believers claim that “denier” is not derogatory and they are not being “mean”, merely descriptive. In honor of their need to be descriptive, “hysterical chicken littles” will be used to describe these people. I am sure to receive accolades for my use of accurate terminology and as such will encourage much discussion, which CAGW believers are always saying they welcome.

The REAL science deniers
One tactic often used by global warming advocates is calling anyone who questions global warming science a “science denier” and state that said individual probably does not “believe in evolution” either. Let’s look at who really does not believe in evolution: global warming believers.

What, you say! Explain. Okay, my understanding of evolution is that species come and go and survive based on natural selection and adaptability. Global warming believers now are saying NOTHING can go extinct or it’s our fault and it’s a crisis. Wait a minute. Doesn’t that directly contradict evolution? It states everything must remain static—there can be no more extinctions. None. Zip. I do not recall Darwin or any one else saying evolution will by the year 2000 will have reach stasis and should remain forever in that state. I’m pretty sure I would have remembered that. The insistence that no more extinctions occur is clearly denying evolution.

Remember this when the global warming faithful (those following the playbook, in other words) try to claim if you don’t believe in global warming, you’re the “science denier”.

Global warming believers:

“Mind nailed shut, siliconed and has a moat around it”—the best description of so-called global warming believers. They have no interest in science, truth or anything other than being right and making sure everyone agrees they are right.  I have tried engaging said individuals on the net, but it always ends the same way—insults of my questioning, demands that I conform or else (I feel like a victim of the Borg—resistence is futile), then on to name calling and worse.  If I had a dollar for every believer who claimed to “want a discussion”, I’d retire and never have to listen to the claims of open-mindedness from those who are the definition of completely closed-minded.  There is no science possible with a mind nailed shut, siliconed, with a moat around it.

Wolf spider attacking cockroach

Some days you’re the spider, some days you’re the cockroach

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And the “winner” is…..

There are members of the Fellows of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry who are calling on the media not call skeptics “skeptics”, but rather “deniers”. One can only think they are angry that skeptics of climate change have done so well while the Skeptical Inquiry folks maybe not so much so. Signers of the petition include Bill Nye, the comedian/actor guy and James Randi, the “appeal to authority” champion and religion/paranormal hater. There are also science writers, journalists, and a film producer. Remember when attacks were constantly made on genuine scientists who signed petitions saying they disagreed with global warming being a huge problem? Now, as seen with J. Cook, anyone can chime in as long as they are on the global warming side. New criteria–you’re only a scientist if WE say so. It’s interesting that skepticism is now defined by dogma and the threat of “if you’re not with us, you’re denying science” when at one time it was just asking questions of science and for data and proof. It appears those days are long gone as far as these individuals are concerned. (One also wonders if this is in part because those who tore apart pseudoscience are very uncomfortable having the same skeptical eye turned on their beliefs.)

This is really not all that surprising. The unskeptical “Skeptical Science” has been out there for years. Psychologically, it seems to be a case of “if you can’t convince them with facts (perhaps because you have so few), then club them with nasty names and shrieking. “Plus, you can claim the name “skeptic” is taken and “denier” is the only remaining name for those not following the designated truths.

I dropped reading many of the conventional skeptic sites when it became apparent that much of what they believed or did not believe was based on appeal to authority, or a hatred of religion and paranormal phenomena. (Note: Religion cannot be proven by science and trying to dissect it with science shows a lack of understanding of both science and religion.) So-called “skeptics” seem to follow the appeal to authority in part because many lack the science education that would let them form their own questions and theories and in part because it’s a CYA move, allowing them to blame scientists for any failed theory. Since they are not scientists, they cannot be held responsible for advocating what turns out to actually be pseudoscience or very bad science.

There’s a question of what the “deniers” are denying. If the scientists are skeptical, are the deniers denying that the scientists are skeptical? What parts of science specifically are they denying? Are they simply questioning if the theory is sufficiently developed to keep pouring billions into measures that do not seem effective and actually are very damaging to the environment? Are they denying that money and politics are the way to “solve” the “problem” as presented–is it really scientific to believe money, socialism and a return to pre-industrial lives are the only possible solution to the dilemma?

The entire proposal bodes very badly for science. Theory of global warming appears to be crumbling due to that lack of statistically significant warming in RSS temperature measurements, there are studies that show the ocean may not be warming as much as believed and people snowed under with 8 feet of snow are not very willing to believe “warming causes cooling”. The science is not convincing to many, including some who work in the field and associated fields and many who have examined the science and found it lacking. Rather than answer questions about the science, the “scientists” (in quotes because no real scientist would ever behave this way) call names, and refuse to address the problem. Those who do try to answer often give explanations that are lacking in believability and science to back them up. Too many of the activists in the field have made wild predictions and statements (ice-free arctic by “X” date, boiling oceans, etc) and these were allowed to stand. Sadly, at this point, the science has basically lost its credibility. All that’s left is name-hoarding, ad hominem attacks and trying to suppress opinions.

Another disturbing trend is trying to “market” the science. That seems to fall under the “if you can’t win them with facts (because you lack such things), dazzle them with BS” or terrify them with promises of a horrible, hot, wet future if they don’t go along with your “solutions”. There’s even an attempt to figure out a way to market to specific political preferences by rewording the solutions to disguise the real intent. Marketing science is truly a desperate attempt at replacing facts and data with BS and fear. Climate science has dragged science into tap dancing, threatening and smearing tactics in an effort to “win” with their theory. They simply cannot admit that the theory may be flawed and needs further research to explain the lack of warming, the natural variations and the failed predictions. Climate science is now playing the role the Church did in suppressing and vilifying Galileo, something science criticized religion for doing. The hypocrisy just screams out at you: “It’s not about science, it’s about winning”.

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.)

Additional ideas

Today’s posting is links to articles I have found interesting:

NEW PAPER: ARCTIC WAS UP TO 3.8°C WARMER ~3000 YEARS AGO A paper published on 4 March in Quaternary Science Reviews reconstructs Arctic temperatures in Kamchatka, USSR over the past 4,500 years and finds the highest reconstructed temperatures were about 3.8°C warmer than modern temperatures. The authors find ”the highest reconstructed temperature reaching 16.8 °C between 3700 and 2800 years before the present,” about 3.8°C above “modern temperatures (13 °C).”

continued: http://www.thegwpf.org/paper-arctic-3-8c-warmer-3000-years/

For a further look at the use of the term “denier”, an older post from Roger Pielke Jr.’s blog: http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2010/05/definative-denier.html

One more:

Changing sun, changing climate by Bob Carter, Willie Soon & William Briggs March 8, 2013 Scientists have been studying solar influences on the climate for more than 5000 years.Chinese imperial astronomers kept detailed sunspot records, and noticed that more sunspots meant warmer weather. In 1801, celebrated astronomer William Herschel, the first to observe Uranus, noted that when there were fewer spots the price of wheat soared. He surmised that less “light and heat” from the sun resulted in reduced harvests.

http://www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/doomed-planet/2013/03/changing-sun-changing-climate

Yes, I do understand

Jo Nova’s blog today had an article that concerned the blog “WatchingtheDeniers”. Seems one writer on the blog has determined the DK effect is why deniers are deniers.

The Dunning-Kruger (KD) effect theorizes people with limited knowledge over-estimate their ability and knowledge. The claim is made that many of the commentors on Jo Nova’s blog lack a full understanding of science. This is a prime example of “assuming facts not in evidence”. A similar claim might be made that climate scientists are actually frustrated politicians, seeking the limelight and caring nothing about science. That’s the best thing about fantasy facts, they can “prove” anything.

A serious question here is why have studies shown people with higher science degrees are more apt to express doubt about climate science? A National Science Foundation study found this—while expecting the opposite. The study suggested teaching people more science, as the WtD blogger suggests, would actually increase the number of skeptics. Educating people on science is probably not a good idea if one is hoping to increase climate change acceptance.

The blogger suggests sharing science is something climate believers would enjoy. The general reaction of the AGW crowd has historically been to avoid all discussion of science and simply resort to name-calling and demanding “consensus” be followed (consensus is NOT proof of theory in science). If this group is willing to come forth and share science, so much the better.

“Deniers” is not really an accurate term. There would need to be open debate concerning the science so people could make up their own mind. Currently, there are statements like “the science is settled”, “there is consensus” and “you’re not smart enough to understand even if we tried to explain”. One cannot deny that which is hidden. That’s why the group is called “skeptics”. Produce the science, allow open discussions with FULL data available to ALL scientists, then we can decide if there is denial of the theory or if the theory is actually flawed and needs to be reworked or discarded.

Moving into social science and marketing techniques is strong evidence that the science fails. So is claiming only those anointed with grants and publishing are capable of understanding the theory. It’s arrogant. However, since people are inclined to bow to authority figures, the technique does work well in those who do not understand science and scientific method. There are no authorities in science. Only the data and the manipulations applied to said data matter. If the data or the manipulations are wrong, even if the janitor points this out, the science is flawed and needs to scrapped.

There has been a lot of “research” trying to connect “deniers” to conspiracy theories, etc. It’s interesting to note that AGW is very appealing to the anti-vaccine, hate Big Pharma, organic crowd. These are usually considered to be other than scientific beliefs (more into the pseudoscience arena).

Does that mean AGW’s following is people who are not scientific? Maybe, maybe not. For every following there exists a huge variety of individuals with very diverse beliefs that happen to have one belief in common.

Then there’s the theory that politics determine one’s belief in AGW. This is the chicken/egg problem. Does one’s political beliefs affect one’s science beliefs or does one’s science beliefs affect one’s politics? The “research” does not address this in any way.