I think that this story illustrates the perils of overspecialization. Specialization in research is a necessity, but when you become so specialized that you lose sight of the big picture of your discipline – in this case it appears that Lu lost sight of both the big picture of atmospheric chemistry and basic logic (since even if CFCs did have a role in warming, logically that does not preclude a role for CO2). A lot of climate skeptics seem to make the same basic error – using the type of logic that “if the sun, then not CO2″, rather than “if the sun, then possibly the sun and CO2″.
The big question is, of course, how can people gain extremely specialized knowledge, yet still keep the big picture in sight?
That assumes that your interpretation of the big picture is correct.
[Response: Hmmm…. Let’s think about the two options – nobody knows anything about anything in which case everyone’s opinion is just as valid as anyone else’s, or there is a scientific method which allows opinions/theories/hypotheses to be tested and for the ones that don’t work very well to be put aside allowing us to ratchet up to a better state of knowledge over time. Or it’s all a conspiracy. Your call. – gavin]
Well, Gavin, you gave me three options there, not two.
I will discount the conspiracy theory as well as the “nobody knows anything about anything thing”.
However science and progress has shown time and time again that informed dismissal of hypotheses has not been productive in so many scenarios.
The whole CO2, Ozone, feedback issue is so mired in uncertainty that I fail to see where you can even start to discount this chaps work without at least giving it some consideration or at least. If you are going to discount it so forcefully in public – your scientific rebuttal instead of just contempt and dismissal is required.
Why do you feel that it is ok to just edit and distort the comments by your readers? The comment at 6 is not what I said except for a cherry picked few words that are useless without context. Good heavens chaps, you have to man-up or state your case. Obfuscation is going to get you absolutely nowhere. You are being observed by so many.
[Response: I have no idea what you are talking about. If comments are edited it is noted clearly with an “” and this is only done in the event that an interesting point is obscured by something off-topic or abusive. Your comment #6 was approved without delay and was not edited by anyone. You did have a comment that got caught by the spam filter (which happens) which I have pulled out. – gavin]
Lauren #5 Did you read the article? Did you notice that Lu’s hypothesis didn’t stand the test of observation? Pretty straightforward really. Once you get the hang of it you can apply this method to all sorts of things.
Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 5 Jul 2011 @ 12:54 PM
In my undergraduate days one of the post-grad students I knew well plastered his office door with all sorts of weird rantings on a Sunday afternoon. We all thought he’d been taking something less than completely legal and looked forward to telling not to be such a twit when he came down. In a way he had been: in effect his sports training and intense approach to his work had resulted in some condition where he basically overdosed on his own adrenalin. Luckily for him the lab manager’s son had had a similar problem so she recognized what was going on and medical intervention was arranged by the end of Monday morning.
Obviously it’s impossible to tell from a distance but I do wonder whether some other scientific careers aren’t blighted by similar but less acute problems. It raises all sorts of questions about how feedback should be given and if, after help, it’s possible for somebody’s career to be put back on track.
The rather intensely polarized atmosphere surrounding climate science would, presumably, make dealing with this sort of thing even harder.
Lauren – either you need to be a little bit smart and do some hard work to check the literature, or you need to be really smart and do a little bit of work to check the literature. The key here is work. You might have to, get a calculator out, or look things up, or think carefully about the logic behind conclusions to see if they hold.
you might even have to go to the lab or into the field and take some observations and perform experiments!
“A lot of climate skeptics seem to make the same basic error – using the type of logic that “if the sun, then not fairies at the bottom of the garden″, rather than “if the sun, then possibly the sun and fairies at the bottom of the garden″.”
I’m repeating myself here (from posts long past), but I’d still like to see a very simple database that merely cross references papers that reference, support or rebut other papers, with the intent of being able to see not only if a paper has been published, but if it has stood the test of time.
It’s far too easy these days (on the Internet and blogosphere, mind you, I’m sure not among real scientists who keep up with their fields) to cite a paper just because it’s been published somewhere by someone. I still run into people citing Lindzen and Choi (2009) as the final nail in the AGW coffin.
I’d love something like google.scholar with simple refute/support checkboxes on the search, or columns/tags on the search results.
Of course, I suppose then people would just publish as many supporting papers as they could at the Journal of Saying What I Want To Hear Said (which is probably the most prestigious and long standing journal I know of).
Simon at comment 13 demonstrates nicely another denier (I refuse to use the term skeptic) approach, which is to view anything they don’t want to believe as pure magic, so magical that they view it as beyond even being worthy of dispute. The witch scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail always comes to mind when I see such displays of ignorance scientific acumen.
How do we simulate cosmic rays in the lab? With a particle accelerator beam. We could do the experiment, but it seems pointless.
It seems to me that solar particles have plenty of energy to create and destroy ozone and destroy CFCs, so what would be the difference? The energy required to do chemistry is very low compared to cosmic rays. We use high energy machines to probe things much smaller than molecules.
Lu is a truly special case. Does his university still put out the fawning press releases about how he is changing our understanding of atmospheric chemistry with his groundbreaking research?
I never read Lu 2010, despite his climate claims, but Lu 2009 (in PRL) was just scary. Actually, Lauren and others, if there was more time in the world, I wish I could go through and chart the logic of the paper, to show you how illogical it is if you just strip the jargon away. If you are really interested, get the article here:
Simon Abingdon #19 Legions of policy makers are salivating with anticipation of your decisions, are they?
“Carbon tax or cap and trade?”
“Hmm, I’m not sure, we’d better check what Simon Abingdon thinks…”
“Are you sure he has the technical expertise to assess the evidence?”
“He must have, he comments on blogs!”
Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 5 Jul 2011 @ 4:57 PM
> It seems to me that solar particles have plenty of
> energy … compared to cosmic rays.
Logic leads you astray; these are not large objects with fixed diameters like hailstones or bullets, where being hit is fairly certain and damage follows.
At the scale of atoms and molecules, most of everything is space — empty — and a higher energy particle is more likely to pass through more material interacting, while a lower energy particle meandering through the same stuff has a higher chance of an interaction.
Search term suggested:
“capture cross section: A measure of the probability that an incident particle or photon will be absorbed …”
What bothered Eli about the Physics Reports paper was that Sigrid Peyeimhoff, the editor who oked it maybe because Lu traced his idea back to a paper of hers. Peyerimhoff is no slouch but she let Lu off the leash in the last half of a review paper on dissociative electron attachment.
There were lots of reasons for not taking Lu seriously, and Eli named a lot of them at the time, but the damage was done by how the rejectionists ran with the paper.
Regarding Sphaerica (Bob)’s request that “I’d still like to see a very simple database that merely cross references papers that reference, support or rebut other papers”, there is such a listing for debunked drivel. Try looking at:
Actually it looks like you lean toward the conspiracy side. With well crafted spin to wrap it in so that it looks innocuous. Sort of the, I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I do run into these folks like ‘Gavin’ who are editing my comments to ‘hide the truth’ thus supporting the conspiracy theory that … and I’m not saying it’s a conspiracy, but hey look my comments are mysteriously being edited…
This line of inferred reasoning reads like Fox News reasoning on how they would never use Nazi references on their broadcasts:
But Solomon et al’s paper is neither drivel nor an anti-AGW paper.
I think it is a mistake to include a minority of papers classified with a little (M) meaning a misunderstood main stream paper. They should be put into a separate list to avoid confusion.
Otherwise it won’t be long before you see the authors of such (M) papers claimed by contrarians as supporting their position.
Thanks, I was aware of that. I was actually thinking of something more comprehensive, and more scientific (i.e. not “blog” rebuttals… the deniers would have a field day making every real paper that contributes to the science look like it’s been “debunked”).
And I’d think it would apply to papers regardless of what they prove. There are lots of things that science “believed” ten years ago that are now being reconsidered, and my interest applies to those cases as well as papers that are quite simply wrong the day they’re published. I’d just like a way of making sure that I’m always referencing all of the most current and valid knowledge, rather than something that has either since turned out to be less solid than once thought, or was perhaps (as in Lindzen & Choi, 2009) immediately refuted.
I would think such a tool would be useful to grad students, and to professional scientists who are doing research or applying factors from outside of their usual area of expertise.
The common way a researcher can cover broad areas necessary for publishing a paper with implications beyond one’s specialty is to collaborate with experts in those areas. Someone who publishes by themself is either writing something wholly-contained within their expertise or is a crank.
Sphaerica (Bob) said ” I was actually thinking of something more comprehensive, and more scientific”.
Over the years several rebuttal articles have been discussed on this blog. The archives probably contain many if not most of the peer-reviewed rebuttals you are talking about. Bob, please don’t let me stand in your way of developing the database you are talking about. Maybe you could even get some of the contributors to this site to help with it. For instance, I might help.
“The phrase implies that even a wrong argument would have been better than the argument proposed, because an argument can only be found wrong after meeting the criteria for a scientific hypothesis (proper assumptions, falsifiable, makes predictions). Arguments that are not even wrong do not meet these criteria.
The phrase “not even wrong” is often used to describe pseudoscience or bad science and is considered derogatory.”
Bushy says: 5 Jul 2011 at 10:43 AM “…scientific rebuttal instead of just contempt and dismissal is required.”
simon abingdon says: 5 Jul 2011 at 3:43 PM “It’s evidence that convinces me, not appeals to Monty Python.”
Back in 2009, I downloaded monthly data from Jan 1969 through fall 2009 (ozone from ftp://ftp.tor.ec.gc.ca/summaries/TotalOzone/ and GCR from http://cosmicrays.oulu.fi/) and did a scatterplot using Appleworks. I’ve put it on the net at http://www.imagenerd.com/uploads/o3vsgcr-CVF6u.jpg. I’ve also compared Oulu GCR to HadCRUT(from http://www.woodfortrees.org/data/hadcrut3vgl). There’s not an obvious correlation between O3 and GCR; if anything, there’s a slight indication that higher GCR rates give higher temperatures, but the error bars are large; and increasing CO2 correlates to increasing temperatures, expected from the radiation physics.
A query concerning the global temperature anomoly for June 2011. The NOAA puts it at 0.58C which makes it the 5th warmest on record. NASA/GISS on the other hand puts it at just 0.5C. Which is likely correct or is there a misprint on one of them?
[Response: The anomalies on each data set are with respect to different baselines, and so you need to adjust for that prior to comparing the numbers (reduce NOAA by 0.03). Additionally, the methods, interpolations/extrapolations are performed differently so that on a month to month basis you don’t expect them to be identical – although the correlation is pretty high (0.96 or so). – gavin]
WVhybrid, I think the wikipedia model might be useful, yes. I don’t think a database like this would be comprehensive unless it were the work of a group (a bit like science, really), although I don’t think it would be a good idea to have editing privileges so widely distributed.
If the idea is that junk gets debunked, you have to display the junk too.
Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 17 Jul 2011 @ 6:14 PM