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Did we call it or what

Filed under: — david @ 8 November 2007

Steve Milloy has let fly with the results of his twisted survey of climate scientists, pretty much as we expected. It’s not worth analyzing in any great depth, I’m sure we all have better ways to spend our time, but one tidbit jumped out at me.

The first question of the survey was

Which best describes the reason(s) for climate change?.

The survey offered a choice between human activity or natural variation, or some combination of the two. How to answer this? Before a few decades ago, natural variability was the right answer, but since about 1970, human activity has taken over.

I emailed Milloy with my concern about the indeterminate time scope of the question, and he replied

Hi David,

Present tense verbs imply ongoing climate change.

but now from the press release,

Another notable result is that an astounding 20% of those surveyed said that human activity is the principal driver of climate change.

“So was there no climate change before mankind?” Milloy asked.

The rest is more of the same. Garbage in, trash talk out. OK, back to work, enough time wasted on this.


283 Responses to “Did we call it or what”

  1. 151
    Timothy Chase says:

    Jim Cripwell,

    This is a kind of an addendum to 147. I would strongly recommend keeping in mind which organizations are being funded by Exxon (according to their own financial statements) to spread “science” which isn’t entirely on the up-and-up when it comes to climate change.

    I have already mentioned Heartland and how it has received $791,500 since 1998. A smaller player is the International Policy Network of North America. It has received only $390,000 since 1998.

    Likewise, when it comes to people who try to present themselves as experts on “global warming,” whether they have a PhD or not, if they are connected to two or more of these organizations, I would begin to wonder. And I would most especially wonder if they aren’t climatologists — and aren’t even in a related field.

    At this point Benny Peiser comes to mind.

    He belongs to the Heartland Institute (he is listed as an expert) and he also belongs to that Internation Policy Institute of North America (which has him as a contributing writer). He is a social anthropologist. And of course he is that fellow who in January of 2005 challenged the study in Nature based upon an analysis of 928 scientific abstracts for studies from 1993-2003, none challenged the scientific consensus on global warming.

    He conducted his own study of peer-reviewed papers and claimed that 34 rejected or doubted the consensus. Then in October of 2006, he admitted that there was only one paper in his study that actually doubted the consensus — published by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists — and it was not peer-reviewed. Hardly neutral.

    Benny Peiser is of course also the editor of the Cambridge Conference Network that I mentioned previously. (Please see 125.)

    Now according to the webpage of the Cambridge Conference Network, it is devoted to disseminating “information” and “fostering debate” on “neo-catastrophism,” and it lists as its third example of neo-catastrophism climate change.

    Please see:

    CCNet is an electronic science network set up by Benny Peiser in 1997. Its aim is to disseminate information and foster debate about all aspects of “neo-catastrophism,” with particular focus on NEOs, the impact hazard and climate change.

    http://www.staff.livjm.ac.uk/spsbpeis/CCNet-homepage.htm

    Likewise, it consists of a fair number of scholars. (Ibid.)

    I believe you are a member of CCNet.

    Please see:

    LETTERS

    6) GLOBAL WARMING: WHERE IS THE SCIENCE?
    F. James Cripwell

    Dear Benny,

    First thank you very much for posting my original query on the Internet. I understand from Albert Jacobs that it caused something of a stir, and you will be addressing the question on CCNet in the future. If this is true, maybe you might be interested in my observations….

    CCNet 60/06 – 7 April 2006
    OPEN KYOTO TO AN OPEN DEBATE
    http://www.staff.livjm.ac.uk/spsbpeis/CCNet-07-04-06.htm

    Now given this, I assume that you received his notice back on the 8th of November about the CO2-belching benthic bacteria which I discussed earlier (e.g., 77, 110, and 125) in this thread. This being the case, could you tell me whether there was much discussion of it, that is, prior to everyone discovering it was a hoax?

  2. 152
    Rod B says:

    My! My! My!

    Still determining credibility the old fashioned way:

    1) Does he/she agree with me? BUZZ!

    2) Does he/she associate with organizations I don’t like? BUZZ!

    Samole sameole. I suppose it will always be thus. I’m just pointing it out to keep the statute of limitations alive.

  3. 153
    Jim Cripwell says:

    So many questions; so little time. Timothy, I took no notice whatsoever of the hoax, so I cant answer the question. I refuse to get into any discussion of where people get their money, and whether they are a mouthpiece for some organization or other. I am only concerned with the accuracy of scientific content. Credibility is ONLY in the science. Ray, since I dont know how the sun affects climate, I have no idea what trends are important. What matters is what is going to happen in the next few years. The proponents of AGW have done an absolutely magnificent PR campaign, where any unusual weather condition is claimed to be due to climate change; a code word in the mind’s of the general public for more CO2. Such as many hurricanes, little skiing in Europe, alleged increasing global temperatures, and lack of ice in the arctic. To date they have got away with it. In the end, the public will see that there is no connection between increased levels of CO2 and anything to do with “climate change”. My bet is that arctic ice will be the trigger; maybe because I live in Canada. When ice levels in the arctic return to 1985 levels, maybe the public will wake up. By the way, my cheques from the carbon lobby must have got lost in the mail.

  4. 154
    Ron Taylor says:

    #153- ‘In the end, the public will see that there is no connection between increased levels of CO2 and anything to do with “climate change.”‘

    Wow. Can you possibly believe that? Please publish your work refuting just about everything known about climate science. I can’t wait to read it.

  5. 155
    spilgard says:

    Re 153: How many iterations of “the next few years” will satisfy? Backing up in time to, say, the 1980s, one notes that temperatures are increasing with no corresponding correlation of solar activity.

    “since I dont know how the sun affects climate, I have no idea what trends are important. What matters is what is going to happen in the next few years.”

    Moving forward through one solar cycle, one again notes that temperatures are increasing with no corresponding correlation of solar activity.

    “since I dont know how the sun affects climate, I have no idea what trends are important. What matters is what is going to happen in the next few years.”

    Moving forward through another solar cycle, one again notes that temperatures are increasing with no corresponding correlation of solar activity.

    “since I dont know how the sun affects climate, I have no idea what trends are important. What matters is what is going to happen in the next few years.”

    Will one more solar cycle do it?

  6. 156

    Jim Cripwell writes, inexplicably:

    [[In the end, the public will see that there is no connection between increased levels of CO2 and anything to do with “climate change”.]]

    How did you manage to realize something that 150 years of radiation physics and climatology missed? I’m impressed.

  7. 157
    Jim Cripwell says:

    Ref 154. I have not published anything. I have merely read just about everything I can find on the subject of climate change. As I have noted many times, there is not one single scrap of hard, measured, independently replicated, experimental data that shows any connection between the recent alleged rise in average global temperatures, and the real rise in CO2 concentration. When I see that evidence, I may revise my opinion. I would note, once again, that if the experimental data existed, it would have been front and center for AR4 to WG1.

    [Response: Experiments are hard to do if you only have one planet. Replicating them is even harder! So despite abundant evidence that GHGs are increasing (Keeling et al, CDIAC etc.), that they are impacting radiation at the TOA and surface (Harries et al, 2001; Phillipona et al 2006), that temperature trends at the surface, lower troposphere and stratosphere are changing in ways consistent with GHG increases, that ocean heat content changes are happening at the same rate as the postulated radiative imbalance – you are still not happy. So, let me challenge you – what achievable observation will need to be made before you are convinced? Note, that if you ask for something impossible to achieve in practice in any short time period, logically you will have to rely on the same balance of evidence argument that IPCC uses, or at least profess agnosticism, rather than denial. – gavin]

  8. 158
    Jim Cripwell says:

    Ref 155. Pretty well all solar cycles in the 20th century have had maximum sunspot numbers above average. This includes solar cycle 23. Originally solar cycle 24 was forecast (I believe by Dr. Hathaway) to start in April 2006, and have a maximum sunspot number of 180. When solar cycle 24 stubbonly refused to start, the forecast was revised, and the start was to be between September 2007 and September 2008, with maximum sunspot numbers of 120 and 90 rspectively. Solar cycle 24 has not yet started. When we know when it has started, we can guess what the maximum sunspot number is going to be. If we wait 6 or 7 years we will have measured it. If that number comes in below 50, which is looking more and more likely, we will not have seen the sun so quiet for about 300 years.

  9. 159
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Jim Cripwell predicts:

    When ice levels in the arctic return to 1985 levels, maybe the public will wake up.

    Care to make a prediction about when that will occur?

  10. 160
    David B. Benson says:

    Jim Cripwell — I recommend reading the AIP Discovery of Global Warming, linked in the Science section of the sidebar.

  11. 161
    Hank Roberts says:

    Jim G, you can find Mr. Cripwell’s predictions with the search tool.

  12. 162
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Jim Cripwell claims to have “read just about everything I can find on the subject of climate change.” Read everything and understood nothing. OK, Jim. Propose a study. What would it take to convince you. What is a study we could do with data available NOW that would drive a stake through the heart of your doubt? If there is no study you could propose that would convince you, then why should we call you a “skeptic” rather than a “denialist”? Where specifically do your doubts lie? It would seem that you accept that CO2 is a ghg (you claim “a very minor one”). Why do you think it is unimportant when all the evidence shows it 1)is second only to water, 2)has a much longer residence time than water, 3)correlates very well with temperature rise over long periods of geologic time?

  13. 163
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod B. I do not think your characterization of the debate (#152) is at all fair. Certain organizations have established a track record of disemminating disinformation. They have taken funding from sources and industries that have a vested interest in such disinformation. Why should that not compromise their credibility? Like it or not, Rod, scientists establish a reputation. If they take money from questionable sources, their objectivity is in doubt. If they consistently make rash or incorrect statements, their credibility is questionable. It is hardly ad hominem attack to consider the track record of the source.

  14. 164
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Hank, thanks for the 411 on Mr. Cripwell’s predictions, but the search tool seems to be broken, alas.

  15. 165
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Re a possible Jim Cripwell study, we’ve had this discussion before. I’ve proposed that the contrarian community should explain how adding many gigatons of carbon to the atmosphere over a geologically short time period would not alter the planet’s climate.

  16. 166
    Jim Cripwell says:

    Ref 157 and 162. Of course experimental data is hard to come by, but if you dont have any, all you have is a hypothesis. May be I am asking for the impossible, but then we would seem to be in similar position to string theory; which seems to be in deep trouble. If you are talking science, and you dont have any experimental data, you are building on shifting sand. So I turn the situation around. It seems to me that the IPCC needs to PROVE that what it has produced is a good enough substitute for a complete absence of hard data. (I have not seen where the IPCC has stated that there is no hard data.) If you can show me where this is published, I would love to read it. Many years ago, when I first heard that radiative forcing had been chosen as a measure for the greenhouse effectiveness of CO2, I was absolutley amazed, since it was clearly impossible ever to measure a value. And further, the other important greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, water, could never even have a calculated value. No wonder I am not enamoured with what the IPCC has produced. I am simply against our politicians spending billions of dollars in trying to reduce CO2 levels, when there is no experimental data to support that this is a good idea. CO2 is not a pollutant, and in higher concentrations is very beneficial.

    [Response: You have a fundamental misconception here. Global radiative forcings are diagnostics, not measurements. They are supported by all sorts of experimental evidence – laboratory spectral analysis, field measurements of aerosol depth and particle size, direct observations of the sun etc. and some are easier to estimate than others. However, you have once again punted on the fundamental issue – if you don’t think the right observations are being made, what do you think should be measured and how? Blanket statements that higher CO2 is “very beneficial” have no credibility since you claim (erroneously however) that there is no evidence. – gavin]

  17. 167
    Rod B says:

    Ray (163), other than populist rhetoric, why are Exxon and other fossil fuel enterprises “questionable”? Is a scientist who gets some expenses or even a stipend or consultancy fees paid by, say, Exxon, automatically assumed to have changed his scientific judgement to something he never discovered but is getting paid to say? I think not, but that is the inherent assumption behind much of the refuting of someone’s credibility here.

    Secondly, a scientist can be incorrect and still have credibility. But you say, “…If they consistently make rash or incorrect statements, their credibility is questionable.” I disagree (though “consistently rash” taken literally might be cause). Your statement is essentially what I said — “…disagree with me?” BUZZ!

  18. 168
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Jim, I ask again. What “proof” are you looking for? You seem to have something specific in mind. What is it? Come up with an observation or a set of observations and a way of measuring it. Or if you cannot or will not, then you are a denialist, not a skeptic.

  19. 169
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod B. At this point, any scientist who takes money from ExxMob is tainted, and it has nothing to do with populism. Rather, ExxMob has shown itself to be interested in subverting science. There is documentary evidence that ExxMob and other fossil fuel interests have deliberately subverted the science–and that makes them an enemy of science. Period.

  20. 170
    J.C.H. says:

    This is one example of what ExxonMobil is doing now:

    http://gcep.stanford.edu/about/index.html

    “ExxonMobil scientists have undertaken climate change research and related policy analysis for 25 years and their work has produced more than 40 papers in peer-reviewed literature. In addition, our scientists participate in the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and numerous related scientific bodies. …” – http://www2.exxonmobil.com/Corporate/energy_climate_views.aspx

  21. 171

    Exxon biggest role by far in climate science has been one of sowing disinformation in order to avoid doing anything about climate change.

    The Union of Concerned Scientists has documented this role in a recent paper, described here:

    Smoke, Mirrors & Hot Air: How ExxonMobil Uses Big Tobacco’s Tactics to “Manufacture Uncertainty” on Climate Change details how the oil company, like the tobacco industry in previous decades, has

    * raised doubts about even the most indisputable scientific evidence
    * funded an array of front organizations to create the appearance of a broad platform for a tight-knit group of vocal climate change contrarians who misrepresent peer-reviewed scientific findings
    * attempted to portray its opposition to action as a positive quest for “sound science” rather than business self-interest
    * used its access to the Bush administration to block federal policies and shape government communications on global warming

    Scientists’ Report Documents ExxonMobil’s Tobacco-like Disinformation Campaign on Global Warming Science
    Oil Company Spent Nearly $16 Million to Fund Skeptic Groups, Create Confusion
    January 3, 2007
    http://www.ucsusa.org/news/press_release/ExxonMobil-GlobalWarming-tobacco.html

    For those who are interested, the Union of Concerned Scientists document detailing Exxon’s behavior (a three-part pdf) may be downloaded there.

  22. 172
    Rod B says:

    Ray, Timothy, JCH, You’re trying to refute my assertion by, in essence, repeating it, thereby validating it, not refuting it. Ray, I’d be interested in specific examples of where Exxon “subverted the science”, bearing in mind that, as hard as it might be to swallow, disagreeing with your view is not subversive. I’m not sure what JCH was trying to show (maybe it went right past me — sorry if so), but his references show anything but subversive and describe what ought to be viewed as supportive, of all things.

    I hate to bring this up again, Timothy, but anything that is titled “….. just like big [bad] tobacco companies….” can be nothing but a screed and not worth looking at from a scientific viewpoint. The rest of your examples is just as I said: they’re big and bad because they believe something you don’t — which, to repeat, was my point exactly. I know, the retort is ‘they’re bad because they are wrong’, but that is just a facade for ‘they are heretics’.

    As I have asked before, how did Exxon get on the IPCC??? Did the UN administrators want to insure balance by having a few liars on the committee? Or what?

  23. 173
    Chuck Booth says:

    Re # 166 Jim Cripwell: “CO2 is not a pollutant, and in higher concentrations is very beneficial.”
    Tell that to the families of the 1700 people who died from a toxic cloud of CO2 that erupted from Lake Nyos in 1986:
    “Pathological studies indicated that victims rapidly lost consciousness and died of CO2 asphyxiation (CO2 concentrations above about 10% can be lethal). There was no evidence for chemical burns on victims or survivors as would be expected from volcanic sulfur gases. However, the skin lesions were in fact attributable to some combination of the following: (1) exposure to a direct heat source such as a cooking fire, (2) pressure sores from prolonged lying in a fixed position, (3) postmortem decomposition, and (4) sores that predated the event. Observed skin blisters were associated with extended unconsciousness, similar to symptoms found in comatose drug overdose patients.”
    http://www-personal.umich.edu/~gwk/research/nyos.html

  24. 174
    Rod B says:

    Chuck (173), you’re being pedantic and avoiding the point (which may be right or wrong). Everything is toxic in enough concentration, including oxygen and water.

  25. 175

    Rod B. (172) wrote:

    Ray, Timothy, JCH, You’re trying to refute my assertion by, in essence, repeating it, thereby validating it, not refuting it. Ray, I’d be interested in specific examples of where Exxon “subverted the science”, bearing in mind that, as hard as it might be to swallow, disagreeing with your view is not subversive….

    I hate to bring this up again, Timothy, but anything that is titled “….. just like big [bad] tobacco companies….” can be nothing but a screed and not worth looking at from a scientific viewpoint.

    I wasn’t responding to you, well, not specifically at least, but as you wish…

    The title of the article by the Union of Concerned Scientists is Smoke, Mirrors & Hot Air: How ExxonMobil Uses Big Tobacco’s Tactics to “Manufacture Uncertainty” on Climate Change, and it isn’t primarily a scientific paper, but an article documenting the attempts by ExxonMobil to interfere with the actual practice of science and to diminish the role of science in national and international policies on issues that are of concern to us all. And as the authors of the piece point out, the science was already done in the vast body of literature that was referenced in the IPCC 2001 report.

    But out of curiosity, why do you think it is problematic comparing Exxon to tobacco companies? I assume you would extend Phillip Morris the same limitless benefit of a doubt you are currently granting Exxon, wouldn’t you? And if not, why not?

    Rod B. (172) wrote:

    The rest of your examples is just as I said: they’re big and bad because they believe something you don’t — which, to repeat, was my point exactly. I know, the retort is ‘they’re bad because they are wrong’, but that is just a facade for ‘they are heretics’.

    As Gavin points out in the inline to 142, Fred Singer’s claim that carbon dioxide is responsible for only 2% of the greenhouse effect has no scientific basis. Singer doesn’t even attempt to defend the figure that he gives, but merely throws it out even though there is a great deal of evidence to the contrary. Doing so shows either an incredible lack of familiarity with the current state of climatology and no understanding of the nature of science or a great deal of dishonesty. But I doubt it is the former as he is a climatologist.

    With respect to Benny Peiser, I wrote in 151:

    He belongs to the Heartland Institute (he is listed as an expert) and he also belongs to that Internation Policy Institute of North America (which has him as a contributing writer). He is a social anthropologist. And of course he is that fellow who in January of 2005 challenged the study in Nature based upon an analysis of 928 scientific abstracts for studies from 1993-2003, none challenged the scientific consensus on global warming.

    He conducted his own study of peer-reviewed papers and claimed that 34 rejected or doubted the consensus. Then in October of 2006, he admitted that there was only one paper in his study that actually doubted the consensus — published by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists — and it was not peer-reviewed. Hardly neutral.

    Now either Benny Peiser has difficulty counting and is unfamiliar with the term peer-reviewed or he is dishonest. But I doubt it is the former as he has a PhD and specializes in Social Anthropology.

    Now as Gavin Schmidt states,

    So why do the contrarians still use arguments that are blatantly false? I think the most obvious reason is that they are simply not interested (as a whole) in providing a coherent counter story. If science has one overriding principle, it is that you should adjust your thinking in the light of new information and discoveries – the contrarians continued use of old, tired and discredited arguments demonstrates their divorce from the scientific process more clearly than any densely argued rebuttal.

    BBC contrarian top 10
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/11/bbc-contrarian-top-10

    Much of the actual climate science is well-established although always open to continued refinement. Likewise, it is well-established that the opinions held by many of the contrarians are immune to the evidence and are therefore no longer scientific. So at this point, it is valid to move from the task of the identification of reality per se to the identification and evaluation of motives. The role played by Exxon in financing attacks upon established science is well known. The strategy is well-documented – by Exxon itself – and the images of several of those documents are included in the piece by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

    As I have asked before, how did Exxon get on the IPCC??? Did the UN administrators want to insure balance by having a few liars on the committee? Or what?

    Basically, yes.

    They want to demonstrate that they are “balanced” and “open to all views.” That, it would appear, is why Christy was brought in. Meanwhile, Exxon probably wants a little good publicity for a change and the ability to influence the process and perhaps confer respectability upon a few scientists who lost all respectability some time ago.

    However, even Greenpeace wants to see Exxon brought into the process. Oddly enough, they seem to think that Exxon has a productive role to play once it gives up the games of manipulation. I hope they are right.

    Judging from the words of Exxon’s CEO, they realize global warming is a serious issue:

    While paid “independent” sources continue to dispute human-caused global warming, ExxonMobil has changed its tune. ExxonMobil’s own Web site features a recent speech in London by Chairman and CEO Rex W. Tillerson. According to the Web site, “Tillerson spoke with conviction about global warming and ExxonMobil’s continuing efforts on this issue.”

    He concluded his remarks by saying: “Frankly, this conversation is not so much about us as it is about our grandchildren. Indeed, we cannot yet see our grandchildren’s world, its economy or its climate. But we must care about it. We must care enough to take the risks of global poverty and global warming seriously.”

    Even ExxonMobil acknowledges warming risk
    Diana Christopulos
    Tuesday, November 13, 2007
    http://www.roanoke.com/editorials/commentary/wb/139539

    … but last I knew, they are continuing to fund “contrarian” organizations.

  26. 176
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod, any scientist who adopts a position in contravention of the evidence has ceased to be a scientist. Any organization that tries to inject a position in contravention of the evidence has become anti-science. All of the evidence either supports anthropogenic causation of the current warming epoch or is ambiguous. There is zero evidence that supports any other cause. When a scientist quits looking at the evidence, the opinion of that scientist held by the scientific community is bound to suffer. Scientific consensus is not based on popularity of a position but rather on the evidence. It would be much more convenient for me if we were not the cause of the warming we are seeing. However, I am a scientist, so I have to go with the evidence.
    ExxMob has funded denialist organizations and scientists. They have distorted the evidence and played up uncertainty in the public mind. Once a scientist or organization has opposed science to this extent, they are always suspect. Abandoning science for private gain is unforgivable.

  27. 177
    Philippe Chantreau says:

    Rod is smoking again. I can not fathom what it is you’re trying to hold on to there, Rod. The evidence against smoking is so clear, so abundant and so irrefutable that it is difficult for me to understand what you are trying to achieve by referring to it. Thank you for smoking…

  28. 178
    Rod B says:

    I’m forced to sound like a broken record, but Ray, what you describe (176) is exactly what I said. ‘If someone disagrees with my belief he is not allowed at the table.’ Of course you justify the acceptance of that position by assuming that your belief is absolutely correct and beyond question… so if one tries to question it they cannot play. Sorry, but you are describing a religion, and a bigoted one [is there another kind, I wonder???] at that, not a scientific discourse — though in very well written terms. This is true even if you prove to be 100% correct. It’s the process of, say, insisting that absolutely no contravening thought will ever be allowed to be uttered that makes it a religion. And woe be to any enterprise who offers to fund such heretics.

    Timothy’s still riding the same wave, though is a little more adept around the fuzzy fringes. (To spread the compliments fairly, Ray’s good at hitting it square on [;-) Of course I give Phillip Morris its day in court. And a benefit of the doubt; but “limitless”? Of course not. You imply P-M does not deserve a day in (non-kangeroo) court because the evidence is in and concluded, and say that AGW skeptics certainly do not. This puts it all back in the previous paragraph IMO.

    And man!, do I hate to use P-M as an analogy. These days any mention of tobacco in any form outside of the context of the devil incarnate can get you hurt… Crossing religion is dangerous business.

  29. 179
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Wow, Rod, that’s a really interesting paraphrase of what I said. If you will go back to said missive, you will find the word EVIDENCE used 7 times, while in your paraphrase it is not even alluded to, let alone used. Rod, people do not believe we are changing the climate because they WANT to. They believe it because all the evidence says so. And we as scientists have said we will support the theory best supported by the evidence. In science, evidence has to be submitted for review by the scientific community in peer-reviewed scientific journals. How cogent is the evidence for anthropogenic climate change? Well, there are basically no scientific papers being published now in peer-reviewed climate journals that do not accept it. There is not one single professional scientific society that questions causation of the current warming epoch by anthropogenic ghg–even the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG). Think a minute about that, Rod. The AAPG had to soften its position to neutral–the evidence is that strong.
    So the science that says we are causing the changes we are seeing is quite cogent. There is less consensus on what the worst-case effects will be and on what to do about it. These are still areas where dissenting views can–and indeed should–play a constructive role.
    But Rod, all you do by characterizing the current consensus as “religion” is demonstrate that you understand neither science nor religion.

  30. 180
    Rod B says:

    Ray, I simply said you believe it. I didn’t say I thought you made it up or dreamt it. You can believe it based on physical evidence. “Believing” by itself does not make it like a bigoted religion. It is the attempt to squelch by any means what-so-ever anyone who even whispers a contravening word, as one characteristic that puts it in the religious realm. I’ve seen some who say us skeptics should be tried. convicted, and jailed for our skepticism. Kinda reminds me of middle-ages plus Christianity. (Now to be fair, that wasn’t suggested by “mainstream” proponents, but proponents who billed themselves with a science bent none-the-less.)

    I’m curious: do we no longer want the AAPG stifled?

  31. 181
    Philippe Chantreau says:

    Rod: “These days any mention of tobacco in any form outside of the context of the devil incarnate can get you hurt.”
    Kind of funny, considering that consuming tobacco in any form can get you hurt…

  32. 182
    Hank Roberts says:

    > do we no longer want the AAPG stifled?

    Rod, you just asked “have you quit beating your wife?”

    Again. Please stop.

  33. 183

    Rod posts:

    [[It is the attempt to squelch by any means what-so-ever anyone who even whispers a contravening word, as one characteristic that puts it in the religious realm.]]

    The religious people I know are nothing like this caricature.

    [[ I’ve seen some who say us skeptics should be tried. convicted, and jailed for our skepticism.]]

    There are crackpots everywhere. Do you really think even a substantial minority of AGW proponents believe this?

    [[ Kinda reminds me of middle-ages plus Christianity.]]

    What do you know about Christianity in the middle ages? Most of what people think they know was created out of whole cloth by people like Andrew Dickson White (“The History of the Warfare between Science and Religion in Christendom”). It was actually the Christian philosophers of the middle ages, people like Nicolas Oresme and Albertus Magnus and Roger Bacon and Robert Grossteste, who laid the foundations for modern empirical science.

  34. 184
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod, I can’t decide whether you really believe this crap or whether you’re just being argumentative. First, we are talking SCIENTIFIC BELIEF, Rod, which means that you adopt the position with the preponderance of evidence. If you are a scientist, you pretty much have to adopt this position as your working hypothesis when the evidence becomes overwhelming–and when the AAPG adopts a neutral position, I’d say we’re there. This does not mean you cannot continue to look for information that would undermine that theory–all scientists are doing this all the time. However, when you take your views to the press; when you distort the consensus position to the uneducated laymen; when you knowingly make false statements to distort the situation; when you do these things you have turned your back on science, and you no longer deserve to call yourself a scientist. And when you take money to do so, you are beneath contempt. ExxMob has been a ready source of such money, as well as money for mouthpieces that amplify the voices of contrarians and kooks.
    Rod, the only scientific questions left to answer deal with how bad things may get–and there’s room for constructive debate there. But the basic theory of climate change is settled, simply because there is no credible alternative.
    And on the political front, the debate over what to do is wide open. Answers ranging from “do nothing” to “stop consuming coal now!” are not insupportable.
    BTW, Rod, I strongly recommend looking into the scientific method–both it’s early history alluded to by BPL and its current form, which is much richer than even Galileo could have envisioned. It is not only interesting, but highly edifying.

  35. 185
    SecularAnimist says:

    Ray Ladbury wrote: “Rod, I can’t decide whether you really believe this crap or whether you’re just being argumentative.”

    Rod shows every sign of being a “troll”, ie. an individual who “trolls” for responses by deliberately posting outrageous, offensive and/or inflammatory comments on Usenet forums or blog comment pages (from the term used in fishing, to “troll” for fish by dragging a hooked bait through the water).

    Typically, “trolls” are “just being argumentative” — they post provocative comments and respond to substantive rebuttals by ignoring them or misrepresenting them — and their purpose is basically to impress themselves with their ability to waste people’s time.

    It’s sad, really. What is sadder though, is the people who have much better, more rewarding, and more productive things to do with their time, who get “suckered” into wasting their time writing lengthy, thoughtful responses to “trolls” who don’t care and don’t deserve them. I have all too often fallen victim to trolls myself and always bitterly regret the waste of precious time on them, once I realize what has happened.

  36. 186
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Secular, I do not view refining my arguments as a waste of time. I’ve met more than a few (all of whom vote) who share some of his opinions. In any case, Rod’s learning curve has shown a positive slope in the past, so I don’t think he is just a troll. Ultimately, I believe in democracy, and I believe that if democracy is to work, the intelligent people have to come together in the middle, as the extremes rarely have the answer. That means it is to my advantage for Rod to have an educated opinion. Even if it is not an opinion I share, I am more likely to be able to compromise with a reasoned opinion than with an irrational one. And if my arguments don’t work with Rod, the ones I refine on him may work for others.

  37. 187
    Rod B says:

    Philippe Chantreau (181) Says:
    18 November 2007 at 2:32 AM
    Rod: “These days any mention of tobacco in any form outside of the context of the devil incarnate can get you hurt.”
    Kind of funny, considering that consuming tobacco in any form can get you hurt…

    Yes, true. But in one case it’s my doing, in the other someone is “graciously” doing it to me.

  38. 188
    Rod B says:

    Barton (183), I pretty much agree with what you say and, if you read my words literally, didn’t disagree in my previous posts. Without denying religion’s contribution to science that you mention, I was referring to the hanging, torturing, burning and massacring of the disbelievers sanctioned and carried out by the Church.

    Ray, you continue to say that you’re justified in squelching because you are “correct” and they are not. I’ll understand your maintaining that position and disagreeing with my contentions because we can’t keep going back and forth repeating the same things — with that you probably agree with me. [;-)

    Though SecularAnimist (185) kinda proves my point. In one remote way I can concur: many of my posts are somewhat off the science and topic at hand, and directed at the process and demeanor. But, I do not start it. I simply respond to other’s “outrageous, offensive and/or inflammatory comments” as you so eloquently put it. I simply point out the outrageousness and incorrectness as I objectively see them — as I (and a few others) have said before, in part and in some small way to help the proponents out: by suggesting if you want to convince people of something you shouldn’t act like a dork and inflame the passions of the folks you’re trying to help.

    I’m not sure why outrageous people always see others as outrageous.

  39. 189
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod, you are missing my point. A scientist who, by becoming a scientist, has agreed to abide by the evidence and then goes against that agreement has ceased to be a scientist. Moreover, if this is done for remuneration, it is beneath contempt. Dissent is one thing. John Christy is still within the fold because he still publishes and does not completely ignore the evidence (although the recent WSJ opinion piece comes dangerously close to doing “science by press”). Richard Lindzen is not, because he parrots points he knows to be false just to score points in a debate and hasn’t published anything relevant in years. Benny Peiser’s critique of Naomi Oreskes’s survey was rejected not because it questioned Oreskes’s conclusions or even on its merits, but rather because he chose to leak it before it was published.
    Do you see my point, Rod? The outrage here has to do with scientists acting counter to the way scientists are supposed to do things–not to their opinions.
    If you go back and look at the history of the scientific method, one of its basic tenets is that a human being can never be certain that he or she is right. However, by going with the preponderance of evidence, even when it goes against your interests or desires, you will be right more often than not. We’ve tried that for nearly 400 years now, and it has worked amazingly well. It’s not metaphysics, but rather epistemology.

  40. 190
    Rod B says:

    Ray (189), when taken as a general rough principle your thought — “…A scientist who, by becoming a scientist, has agreed to abide by the evidence and then goes against that agreement has ceased to be a scientist.” — has a decent ring to it. But if taken literally and to its scientific end, it, in fact, moves science into religion! I don’t know if you read what you said or if you meant to say it,… but you said if a man joins the science club and questions what 1) almost every club member believes and 2) is supported by the preponderance of evidence to date, ‘he can not be a member of the club!, because he doesn’t repeat the litany and liturgy. You have just banished from science many of the great scientific discoveries, certainly most of the paradigm shifts. Certainly you are aware of past scientific/philosophical doctrine supported by nearly all in the field and by the preponderance, in some cases the entirety, of the evidence at that time that proved to be flat-out wrong. It was eventually revised usually by some enterprising (and probably viewed as weird) young scientist working pretty much marching to his own beat. By your words he would have been banished from the get-go. Now I don’t know what that is, but it ain’t the scientific method.

    I do get your point, and it is as I have said all along. If someone disagrees with your well thought out beliefs supported by tons of evidence that ‘any idiot ought to recognize’, he can not be a member of the club! That’s how you discard out-of-hand, for example, one of the premier climatologists, Lindzen.

    You say, “…However, by going with the preponderance of evidence, even when it goes against your interests or desires, you will be right more often than not.”

    …And never discover anything new or advance the science one iota….

    BTW, I’m using “you” and “your” in the generic 3rd-person. While you may be part of the group you absolutely are not alone and I’m not meaning to personalize this in any way, other than a concept.

  41. 191

    Rod B (190) wrote:

    Ray (189), when taken as a general rough principle your thought — “…A scientist who, by becoming a scientist, has agreed to abide by the evidence and then goes against that agreement has ceased to be a scientist.” — has a decent ring to it. But if taken literally and to its scientific end, it, in fact, moves science into religion! I don’t know if you read what you said or if you meant to say it,… but you said if a man joins the science club and questions what 1) almost every club member believes and 2) is supported by the preponderance of evidence to date.

    Rod, where are you getting the bolded bit out what you were responding to? I don’t see Ray Ladbury saying “almost every club member believes” or “to date.” They don’t seem to be implicit, either. Both of these bits appear to have been inserted – and on first glance seem to play an important role in your attempt to respond to him. But if they aren’t either stated or implicit in what he wrote, you aren’t actually responding to him, are you?

    One other question: In your view, is one ever justified in concluding that someone is being dishonest?

  42. 192
    Rod B says:

    a ps to my 190: I do feel obligated to be fair and balanced. There are situations where Ray’s contention is valid. There certainly can be (and are) guys who are not much more than smart-alec rabble rousers and who “join” the science club but do not much more than talk loud and kick sand around. Ray’s response is this situation is probably O.K. and acceptable, though those cranks will usually crash and burn entirely on their own.

    The rub is: one has to be extremely careful in deciding who the cranks are; there is a very fine line between the crank and the individualistic innovator. Without due diligence and caution the tendency is to put everyone with a deviant opinion into the rabble rouser group. That is done a lot here, and is usually wrong.

    None-the-less, those smart-asses do exist.

  43. 193
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod, you are missing the point. The objection is not to the dissent. Einsten dissented from the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics to his dying breath–but he never crossed the line of doing science by press and taking his advocacy to uneducated laymen. He could have since the strangeness of quantum theory would have gone against “common sense”. Science is perfectly capable of going around a “crank,” and if the crank is capable of getting evidence that overturns the consensus, then indeed he or she becomes a hero.
    The problem comes when a “scientist” turns his or her back on the normal scientific method and rather than publishing in peer-reviewed scientific journals, publishes in the press where the audience is not educated enough to understand the science. If they further use deceptive practices (e.g. Mars/Neptune/Jupiter is warming too), they have gone beyond the point of redemption. And if they take money for doing so, there is no hope. So that is why Christy is still considered “a scientist” even if just barely after his recent rants in the WSJ, why Richard Lindzen has left the fold and why Steve Milloy (or Crichton) never was a scientist.

  44. 194
    Rod B says:

    Timothy, who can possibly authoritatively declare someone is “no longer a scientist” (a membe of the science club) other than the main body (“almost every member”) of the club????

    I’m not sure what you are questioning with the “to date” in evidence to date. Is there any other kind?

  45. 195
    Philippe Chantreau says:

    Re 187: Unless of course, you are exposed to second hand smoke (that’s part of “any form”), in which case somebody is really doing it to you…

  46. 196
    Hank Roberts says:

    > in one case it’s my doing, in the other someone is
    > “graciously” doing it to me.

    Rod, you’re channeling the arguments against second-hand smoke, which Lindzen often makes (and which are well funded by the industries in denial). That’s both the tobacco and fossil fuel industries. Both externalized significant costs, both opposed and undermined good scientific work for decades as those costs began to be understood.

    Science is what science does. Doing the work, the writing up and the defense of the thesis, getting a degree, succeeding with iterative peer review to the point where work is publishable and published, and having that work cited by later researchers is the work people do to be called scientists. Operational definition, not anointing, not club membership.

    This is why you see the confusion by people attacking Darwin’s work, they think science is something built on people, ‘founded’ like religion. It’s not.

    People aren’t “scientific experts” outside their own area of research nor on anything they can’t replicate in their own work.

    This is just smoke and mirrors, confusing science with political PR.

    Yes, people are telling you that your secondhand smoke is a problem you’re creating and externalizing and denying.

    Yes, you can look this up. Once you know you’re responsible for something that happens to others, either you take responsibility for it, or you deny it.

    Your choice.

  47. 197
    Rod B says:

    Ray (193), you make an excellent point. However, for better or worse, AGW has been highly politicized and you can’t fully blame antagonists for playing the politics any more than you can blame the protagonists, who also (have to) play the politics.

  48. 198
    Rod B says:

    Philippe (195), do you really want to rehash this debate about tobacco???

  49. 199
    Rod B says:

    Jeeeze! Hank, too?!? I’ll let the tobacco thing sit for now (unless you guys insist I go through it one more time) in deference to the other posters.

    But, using it as an analogy to the AGW debate is fair game and my (only) point. I would agree with Hank’s description of “science”. Up to the point where you imply that all those scientists don’t form clubs, play politics, or act distinctly unkindly and malicious toward other scientists. You have zero proof of the latter.

  50. 200
    Hank Roberts says:

    Scientists are only experts in their own specific area of study.

    I think Timothy’s reaching too far in trying to define “scientist” as anything beyond “person whose work is found to be science, over the longer term” — someone’s a scientist to that extent.

    It’s not like religion. It’s not like electoral politics. It’s a behavior defined by consequences.

    People get wonky outside their areas of expertise, where they lack peer review and the need to respond to it. People get old and weird. Sh*t happens.

    Point to the work and how it’s held up. Outside the work, people are people and have opinions not based on their own expertise.


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