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Once more unto the bray

Filed under: — gavin @ 23 July 2008

We are a little late to the party, but it is worth adding a few words now that our favourite amateur contrarian is at it again. As many already know, the Forum on Physics and Society (an un-peer-reviewed newsletter published by the otherwise quite sensible American Physical Society), rather surprisingly published a new paper by Monckton that tries again to show using rigorous arithmetic that IPCC is all wrong and that climate sensitivity is negligible. His latest sally, like his previous attempt, is full of the usual obfuscating sleight of hand, but to save people the time in working it out themselves, here are a few highlights.

As Deltoid quickly noticed the most egregious error is a completely arbitrary reduction (by 66%) of the radiative forcing due to CO2. He amusingly justifies this with reference to tropical troposphere temperatures – neglecting of course that temperatures change in response to forcing and are not the forcing itself. And of course, he ignores the evidence that the temperature changes are in fact rather uncertain, and may well be much more in accord with the models than he thinks.

But back to his main error: Forcing due to CO2 can be calculated very accurately using line-by-line radiative transfer codes (see Myhre et al 2001; Collins et al 2006). It is normally done for a few standard atmospheric profiles and those results weighted to produce a global mean estimate of 3.7 W/m2 – given the variations in atmospheric composition (clouds, water vapour etc.) uncertainties are about 10% (or 0.4 W/m2) (the spatial pattern can be seen here). There is no way that it is appropriate to arbitrarily divide it by three.

There is a good analogy to gas mileage. The gallon of gasoline is equivalent to the forcing, the miles you can go on a gallon is the response (i.e. temperature), and thus the miles per gallon is analogous to the climate sensitivity. Thinking that forcing should be changed because of your perception of the temperature change is equivalent to deciding after the fact that you only put in third of a gallon because you ran out of gas earlier than you expected. The appropriate response would be to think about the miles per gallon – but you’d need to be sure that you measured the miles travelled accurately (a very big issue for the tropical troposphere).

But Monckton is not satisfied with just a factor of three reduction in sensitivity. So he makes another dodgy claim. Note that Monckton starts off using the IPCC definition of climate sensitivity as the forcing associated with a concentration of 2xCO2 – this is the classical “Charney Sensitivity” and does not include feedbacks associated with carbon cycle, vegetation or ice-sheet change. Think of it this way – if humans raise CO2 levels to 560 ppm from 280 ppm through our emissions, and then as the climate warms the carbon cycle starts adding even more CO2 to the atmosphere, then the final CO2 will be higher and the temperature will end up higher than standard sensitivity would predict, but you are no longer dealing with the sensitivity to 2xCO2. Thus the classical climate sensitivity does not include any carbon cycle feedback term. But Monckton puts one in anyway.

You might ask why he would do this. Why add another positive feedback to the mix when he is aiming to minimise the climate sensitivity? The answer lies in the backwards calculations he makes to derive the feedbacks. At this point, I was going to do a full analysis of that particular calculation – but I was scooped. So instead of repeating the work, I’ll refer you there. The short answer is that by increasing the feedbacks incorrectly, he makes the ‘no-feedback’ temperature smaller (since he is deriving it from the reported climate sensitivities divided by the feedbacks). This reverses the causality since the ‘no-feedback’ value is actually independent of the feedbacks, and is much better constrained.

There are many more errors in his piece – for instance he accuses the IPCC of not defining radiative forcing in the Summary for Policy Makers and not fixing this despite requests. Umm… except that the definition is on the bottom of page 2. He bizarrely compares the net anthropogenic forcing to date with the value due to CO2 alone and then extrapolates that difference to come up with a meaningless ‘total anthropogenic forcings Del F_2xCO2′. His derivations and discussions of the no-feedback sensitivity and feedbacks is extremely opaque (a much better description is given on the first couple of pages of Hansen et al, 1984)). His discussion of the forcings in that paper are wrong (it’s 4.0 W/m2 for 2xCO2 (p135), not 4.8 W/m2), and the no-feedback temperature change is 1.2 (Hansen et al, 1988, p9360), giving k=0.30 C/(W/m2) (not his incorrect 0.260 C/(W/m2) value). Etc… Needless to say, the multiple errors completely undermine the conclusions regarding climate sensitivity.

Generally speaking, these are the kinds of issues that get spotted by peer-reviewers: are the citations correctly interpreted? is the mathematics correct? is the reasoning sound? do the conclusions follow? etc. In this case, there really wouldn’t have been much left, and so it is fair to conclude that Monckton’s piece only saw the light of day because it wasn’t peer-reviewed, not because it was. Claims that the suggested edits from the editor of the newsletter constitute ‘peer-review’ are belied by the editor’s obvious unfamiliarity with the key concepts of forcing and feedback – and the multitude of basic errors still remaining. The even more egregious claims that this paper provides “Mathematical proof that there is no ‘climate crisis’ ” or is “a major, peer-reviewed paper in Physics and Society, a learned journal of the 10,000-strong American Physical Society” are just bunk (though amusing in their chutzpah).

The rational for the FPS publication of this note was to ‘open up the debate’ on climate change. The obvious ineptitude of this contribution underlines quite effectively how little debate there is on the fundamentals if this is the best counter-argument that can be offered.


536 Responses to “Once more unto the bray”

  1. 351
    SecularAnimist says:

    It is hard for me to find any humor in the global warming situation, but The Onion made me laugh out loud with this headline:

    “Al Gore Places Infant Son In Rocket To Escape Dying Planet”

    Former vice president Al Gore—who for the past three decades has unsuccessfully attempted to warn humanity of the coming destruction of our planet, only to be mocked and derided by the very people he has tried to save—launched his infant son into space Monday in the faint hope that his only child would reach the safety of another world.

    “I tried to warn them, but the Elders of this planet would not listen,” said Gore, who in 2000 was nearly banished to a featureless realm of nonexistence for promoting his unpopular message. “They called me foolish and laughed at my predictions. Yet even now, the Midwest is flooded, the ice caps are melting, and the cities are rocked with tremors, just as I foretold. Fools! Why didn’t they heed me before it was too late?”

    Al Gore—or, as he is known in his own language, Gore-Al—placed his son, Kal-Al, gently in the one-passenger rocket ship, his brow furrowed by the great weight he carried in preserving the sole survivor of humanity’s hubristic folly.

    “There is nothing left now but to ensure that my infant son does not meet the same fate as the rest of my doomed race,” Gore said. “I will send him to a new planet, where he will, I hope, be raised by simple but kindly country folk and grow up to be a hero and protector to his adopted home.”

  2. 352
    kevin says:

    Not that anyone probably cares, but I noticed a typo in my earlier comment–

    “is Monckton incorrect in his temperature analysis?” generates a “no” response for standard RC usage of the words “temperature analysis.”

    Should have been:

    “is Monckton incorrect in his temperature analysis?” generates a “yes” response for standard RC usage of the words “temperature analysis.”

    I hate it when I do that.

  3. 353
    Ron Shepard says:

    Here is one way to answer the question of whether Mockton’s conclusions are based on cherry-picked data. Suppose you define a temperature increase function that depends on two parameters, the starting date the the ending date, F(s,e). Each F(s,e) would be the slope of the least-squares fit of the temperature data between dates e and s. You could then produce a 2D contour plot of F(s,e) with s along the y axis and e along the x axis and with the plot being in the triangular region s.lt.e. This would not be a constant function, it would reveal the cooling trends in the 1950’s, the major volcano eruptions, the El Nino and La Nina periods, and so on. If the time resolution where fine enough, it would reveal seasonal fluctuations. Suppose the negative areas of this plot were colored various shades of blue, and the positive areas of the plot were colored various shades of red. The question then is whether this graph would be a vast ocean of red with isolated islands of blue, or a vast ocean of blue with isolated areas of red, or some 50/50 mixture of each. If it were mostly red with isolated islands of blue, then Mockton’s conclusions would clearly require cherry-picking one of those blue islands to make his cooling claim. Statistically, the most reliable areas of this graph would be near the x axis, and the least reliable areas would be up near the s=e line (because of the statistical 1/sqrt(e-s) uncertainty).

    Is there anyone with access to all the relevant data that could produce such a graph?

  4. 354
    Rod B says:

    kevin (341), I’ll briefly come out of retirement (on this discourse) because you asked/commented so civilly.

    It quickly became evident and I agree that the choice of words (“temperature analysis”) was not good, even with my attempt to clarify what I meant even in that very first post (#200), which you accurately referenced. As time and posts went on I tried very hard, with some success in my view, to be very precise as to what I was asking; IMHO it was then not at all hard to understand. Recheck #23 and my shouting #254 as a couple of examples. But no one, save one, would let me off the hook with my original too-general use of wording despite my incessant elucidation and protestations. Everyone kept saying (paraphrasing), “No, Rod. I know it’s what you said you asked; but it’s not!”. Take the second phrase you quote in your post. Then go read the following responses. It’s completely obvious they had some interest in answering a question I didn’t ask, and no desire to answer instead the one I did, which I clarified until I was blue (red?? sorry about that…) in the face. I think it is instructive that Jürgen had no difficulty what-so-ever.

    I wish not to pursue this further, but for the record, this is where the religiosity comes in. They absolutely refused to see my (eventually) obvious question because, it seems, they would have to mutter some words that there might be some relatively short recent periods when the average global temperatures declined. I think only religious inclinations make people that adamant and (I shouldn’t use this word) a strict denier. It’s like a fundamentalist watching tsetse flies or bacteria mutate in front of their very eyes and say, “Not happening!!”

    I probably should not psychoanalyze so much. It’s just how I see it.

  5. 355
    Rod B says:

    Jim (343) you species response to John is right on, but the thousands of species that go out of existence all the time is not necessarily “alarming”.

  6. 356
    John Mashey says:

    I’m not sure why we’re still arguing about parapsychology, but since it’s still going on:

    SecularAnimist seems to think that there are:

    1) Believers in parapsychology.
    2) Close-minded skeptics of it.

    but not:
    3) Skeptics (in classical sense)who:

    – have at least a little background/experience in experimental psychology

    – have had discussions with psychologists about common ways in which experiments go wrong and people fool themselves

    – have followed a lot of efforts to *find* PSI phenomena, with very weak results [i.e., the serious research efforts, not the obvious hoaxes], so that a massive amount of negative results have accumulated.

    – worry about the lack of plausible physical mechanisms for most of the supposed effects

    – worry about tiny effects that disappear with better controls.

    – have watched things like PEAR go away, or Susan Blackmore switch from belief to skepticism.

    – might even *wish* that PSI effects were real, if only so some of their favorite stories could be science-fiction rather than fantasy

    – and yes, have read CSICOP, Randi, etc.

    – and tend to have listened harder to Martin Gardner, Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov than to Puthoff and Targ, for example…

    – and simply come to believe there is nothing useful there…

    How many decades of negative results does it take before a PSI-skeptic isn’t close-minded, but just accepting of the evidence?

    4) In any case, here are a few of my favorite books on rational open-mindedness, skepticism, and evidence:

    Martin Gardner
    a) Science – Good, Bad, and Bogus, 1981.
    (There are newer editions.)
    b) “Did Adam and Eve have Navels?”, 2000

    James Randi
    c) Flim-Flam! 1986

    Robert Ehrlich (Physic Prof at George Mason)
    d) Nine Crazy Ideas in Science (A few might even be true), 2001
    e) Eight Preposterous Propositions, 2003.

    On this specific topic, here’s a long-time parapsychologist-turned-skeptic:

    Susan Blackmore
    f) The Elusive Open Mind: Ten Years of Negative Research in Parapsychology. 1987.
    g) Why I have given up 2001.

    5) Finally, to bring this back to climate, it is a strange fact that some people who are ardent skeptics of much pseudoscience are simultaneously convinced that AGW is a hoax…

    Last Summer, CSI’s Skeptical Inquirer published a straightforward article on AGW by NASA GSFC physicist Stuart Jordan .. that elicited a firestorm of “cancel my subsciption”-style letters, stunning editor Kendrick Frazier. Here are Stuart’s responses.

    This is a good reminder that good classical skepticism is humanly difficult to apply uniformly. However, masses of evidence favor:

    – existence of AGW
    – nonexistence of psi

  7. 357
    Pat McLean says:

    Spencer Response.

    Several posts in this thread have requested a response to the recent Dr Roy Spencer submission to a Senate committee. My suggestion is that the RealClimate team, saintly though they are in their patience and forbearance, should remain silent in this case. The Spencer submission is in two parts: an actual peer-reviewed journal article to be published shortly, and the written submission itself. I have only read an abstract of the article, which concerns a simple climate model that shows previous estimates of climate sensitivity to be too high due to neglect of natural cloud variability. The written report to the Senate concerns ‘exciting new discoveries in recent weeks’, about which he has exchanged emails with IPCC climate scientists. The peer-review and IPCC emails are cleverly woven into the narrative to give the submission credibility.

    So far as I can tell Spencer’s new theory, that climate sensitivity to GHG forcing is so low as to be trivial, falls into Pauli’s ‘not even wrong’ category. On that basis there should be no response from RealClimate, but this assertion of mine needs to be qualified in that I am not a climate scientist. For anyone needing to rebut Spencer, I suggest using extracts from his submission; namely that the IPPC scientist email points out that the effect Spencer claims to have discovered is small, and that Spencer’s own report states that he does not yet know if his assertion is true.

    From Spencer’s career it appears he was a weather guy who was displaced by the incoming wave of climate scientists and funding. Events like this, and the resulting sulks, are familiar to anyone who has worked in a large organization of any type; the losers in this game tend to hold a contrarian view no matter what the facts on the ground may be. The archetype was the British geologist who famously refused to believe the 19th century reports that snow-capped mountains existed in the heat of equatorial Africa and went to his grave convinced that Kilimanjaro was capped not by an ice-sheet but by marble.

    Spencer has a new twist on this, as his career is now being presented as if it were a chapter from Joseph Campbell’s ‘Hero with a Thousand Faces’. Spurned by the king’s court (the Clinton administration) he retreats to the groves of academe where he contemplates alone for seven whole years. Then he makes a wondrous discovery, described in his own words as ‘the Holy Grail of climate science’. Triumphantly he returns to court and presents his discovery to the new rulers in the capitol, and so saves a grateful world from the scourge of global warming.

    A theory like anthropogenic global warming needs its doubters and detractors to ensure its robustness and completeness. Dr Spencer will no doubt continue to attack AGW for the rest of his life, and doing it through peer-reviewed articles is in a way admirable, but this submission to a Senate committee has crossed a moral line and is to be regretted. While we must hope that a new dawn of knowledge will in due course illuminate his dark night, so that he does not go marble-headed into retirement, for now the best response from his scientific peers is an icy silence.

  8. 358
    SecularAnimist says:

    John Mashey wrote: “SecularAnimist seems to think that there are: 1) Believers in parapsychology. 2) Close-minded skeptics of it.”

    I do think there are those two classes of people. I don’t think, nor did I say, that those two categories exhaust the possible attitudes towards the subject.

    Again, my point was to note what strike me as common features of “close-minded skepticism” of both climate science and parapsychology — the sort of pseudo-skepticism that arises from an a priori conviction about a subject. A genuinely open-minded skeptic might examine the scientific evidence relating to the existence of psi phenomena and conclude either that its existence has been demonstrated, or that it has not. A close-minded pseudo-skeptic will be unlikely to examine the evidence for something that he already knows is bunk. Such a person is more likely to comfort himself with the pronouncements of “organized skeptic” groups who are hostile towards the subject and actively seek to discourage interest and research in the field.

    When a commenter here falsely asserts that the Parapsychology Association has been “kicked out” of the AAAS, and then sweepingly claims that “All the statements that ESP has been ‘scientifically proved’ comes from ESP researchers with an axe to grind”, I cannot help hearing an echo of the many “AGW skeptics” who have commented on these pages that “all the evidence for global warming comes from climate researchers with an axe to grind who are just trying to get more grant money”. When someone comes to a subject with such a predisposition, can they honestly claim to approach it with open-minded skepticism?

  9. 359
  10. 360
    Mark says:

    SecularAnimist, maybe you would accept that any signal of PSI is overwhelmed by the noise. And, since we have no idea what’s doing it, we have no way of working out how to improve the signal or build up from earlier works.

    I suppose you could genetically meld people who score highly to see if you can get more PSI rated people, but genetic fiddling like that isn’t really going to happen, is it?

    Me? I’m pretty certain that all of what is considered in PSI to be bunk. Some of the rest of it could be because our understanding of the reality is not good enough to explain what’s happening and the rest of it is so vastly underexplained by proponents that any scientific modelling is impossible.

    Mostly I figure PSI to be so ineffectual even where true to be a fruitless search for something.

  11. 361
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Rod, I don’t know what you find in those graphs that’s not alarming. They’re terrifying. Those aren’t just single species going extinct; they represent entire ecosystems that are vanishing. These extinction rates are vastly above the background rate.

    Surely you don’t maintain that it’s natural for whole ecosystems to decline simultaneously around the globe. What about the phrase “human-caused mass extinction” is ambiguous?

  12. 362
    CL says:

    Re 358, I think it’s a good point, Secular Animist, and both interesting and important to better understand how we arrive at the positions we hold.

    There’s another facet to the ESP question. How does one weigh personal direct first hand experience against an opposing consensus view ?

    It’s easy for me to chose re AGW, because even though I’m not equipped to grasp the mathematics involved, I have confidence in those who can, and having closely followed the story of CFCs and similar controversies over several decades, I know who I trust and who I don’t.

    On the other hand, I have followed zen buddhism for at least as long as Susan Blackmore, and IMHO, she has her zen back to front and upside down, so to speak. I have not read her 2001 book, so I don’t know whether my view of her buddhism would effect my estimation of her view on parapsychology. However,it wouldn’t matter how many authoritative voices denied certain ESP experiences, because they are all outweighed by my own personal experiences. It would be like people telling me I can’t run or jump or swim, when I know I can. The problem arises when science is applied, and, in a sense, the fact that ESP is so elusive, and despite all the anecdotal evidence, seems to evaporate when scrutinised just make it even more fascinating and intriguing.

  13. 363
    CL says:

    Incidentally, IMO, the most interesting scientific research presently re psychology and parapsychology is being done by Allan Wallace

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2381164272554857228&hl=en

  14. 364
    Ray Ladbury says:

    CL, regarding the weirdness of the quantum world. While the weirdness is undeniable, I don’t think we’re talking about sending telegrams to the past–or even spacelike telegrams to the present. It is difficult to think how you’d extract any information from an entangled system. The existence of entanglement tells us something profound about physical reality–indeed, it casts doubt on the entire proposition for some philosophers, though not for physicists. You can certainly see why Einstein found it disturbing, but as Bohr said anyone who is not disturbed by quantum theory hasn’t understood it.

  15. 365
    Timothy Chase says:

    Captcha wrote in 329:

    323. ‘Perhaps at some level of description (e.g. the Planck-Wheeler scale) it will be necessary to abandon it’. That is all that post 322 was pointing to.

    I am sorry if I misinterpretted your intent.

    I think part the difference in how we viewed things lay in how each of interpreted the phrase “The unity of science.” I am thinking in terms of the subject (reality) and the endeavor to understand it. You appear to have been thinking in terms of the product — the individual theories. And I will grant you that there are tensions between different theories, that some theories may have to be abandoned, others modified and so on. But the ultimate subject and the endeavor are the same. Of course different sciences are specialized in different subjects, but nevertheless, there will oftentimes be overlap, and the more we engage in the scientific endeavor, the more overlap we should expect as they are merely studying different aspects of a unified reality.

    But I would also stress that science is cummulative — particularly in terms of the correspondence principles between earlier and more advanced theories, and I would also stress the fact that one generally cannot test more advanced theories except by recourse to more basic theories. And likewise, I would stress that for a theory to be meaningful, it must be possible to relate it back to our level of awareness, e.g., in terms of human-readable instruments. And once they are related to our level, they are also related to one-another, however indirectly.

    *

    In any case, with respect to the Planck-Wheeler level, the thought is that fluctuations in vacuum energy at a scale of roughly 1.6 x 10^-35 meters and 5.43 x 10^-44 seconds should be sufficient to produce black holes which exist momentarily, prior to giving back the energy which they borrowed by means of the indeterminacy involving energy and time. If this is the case, then one should expect the geometry of space and time to take on a less definite, more probablistic nature as one approaches that level. But even as the geometry becomes less definite, no doubt we would continue to employ well-defined geometric concepts to describe it — like a wavefunction.

    And incidentally, while it had been thought that the Planck-Wheeler level might forever lie beyond the reaches of our instruments, things have changed. Tests have already been performed which eliminate some quantum gravitational theories on the basis of effects which the Planck-Wheeler level would have upon the spectra of distant quasars. The idea is that over sufficiently large cosmological distances the foamy-ness of spacetime would lead to a cummulative difference in the lengths that photons traveling nearly identical paths would take, and as such this would blur the spectra of distant objects.

    Here are a couple of articles describing the experiments before the fact:

    Gravity-wave interferometers as quantum-gravity detectors
    Giovanni Amelino-Camelia
    Nature 398, 216-218 (18 March 1999)
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v398/n6724/full/398216a0.html

    Phenomenological description of space-time foam
    April 2001
    Giovanni AMELINO-CAMELIA
    http://arxiv.org/pdf/gr-qc/0104005

    … and the results as described in a more recent article:

    Presto! Space-Time Blurriness Vanishes
    published online January 2, 2004
    http://discovermagazine.com/2004/jan/astronomy/article_view?b_start:int=1&-C=

    With current measurements we are unable to pick up the effect — and it would appear that we will need instruments at least a trillion times more sensative to the effect in order to detect it. Could it be forever beyond our reach? Perhaps. But then again we have essentially photographed the universe during its first trillionth of a second — and given this extraordinary accomplishment I am hopeful.

    *

    Here are a couple more related stories…

    Here is a story on how Lozentz invariance may break down — which higher energy photons being slowed relative to their lower energy brethern by the foamy-ness of space. But Lorentz invariance has held up so far.

    Einstein Makes Extra Dimensions Toe The Line
    ScienceDaily (Dec. 24, 2003)
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/12/031219074416.htm

    This is one about how we are placing limits on the size of the rolled up dimensions required to account for the other forces. Once they are no longer of a negligible size, the force of gravity should vary inversely to higher power of distance than two, meaning that it will be stronger than we would otherwise predict. But so far the effect has not been seen.

    University Of Washington Physicists Find That Extra Dimensions Must Be Smaller Than 0.2 Millimeter
    ScienceDaily (Feb. 13, 2001)
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/02/010213070804.htm

    However, if these dimensions are of a sufficient diameter, the increased strength at lower energies/mass may be sufficient to place miniature black holes within the range of the Large Hadron Collider — which will be brought online on the eleventh of this month. I have been waiting for that device to come for years — but given the shear volume of data it should take some time before they will be announcing any major discoveries.

  16. 366
    John Mashey says:

    #358 SA:
    you introduced the parapsychology topic in #265 (to which I was primarily reacting), saying:

    “And, as I was reminded yesterday, parapsychology is another field of scientific inquiry that has to deal with an organized opposition of so-called “skeptics” who vociferously argue that it is not legitimate science, and have gone so far as to campaign to revoke the affiliation of the Parapsychological Association with the AAAS.”

    In context where, you have set two categories:
    A: real scientists, open-minded, doing real science, getting results
    B: close-minded

    A1: almost all climate scientists on AGW
    B1: organized anti-AGW folks

    A2: Almost all bioscientists on evolution
    B2: Discovery Institute, etc. on evolution

    A3: Parapsychologists, i.e., Parapsychological Association, which has existed for 50 years, on existence of PSI phenomena
    B3: AAAS members who don’t think PA belongs there, Randi, Martin, CSICOP, etc.

    ===
    Can you compare the strength of each case, i.e., assume A+B = 1, and assign values to A1, A2, A3?

    If you offer a high value for A3, then I’d suggest that folks in B1 would like you: Many folks in B1 claim that they are really A, and the bulk of the climate scientists are really B- the latter claim to see an effect (AGW) that doesn’t really exist, due to measurement error, wrong computer programs, or unwillingness to believe GW is entirely natural due to cosmic rays, sunspots, 1500-year cycles, etc, etc.

    Do you really mean to do that?

  17. 367
    Timothy Chase says:

    CL wrote in 362:

    There’s another facet to the ESP question. How does one weigh personal direct first hand experience against an opposing consensus view ?

    Personally, I would argue that one needs to take a quasi-Bayesian approach — at the level of the individual. And this is something which I would likewise apply in terms of the innovative thinkers who are in fact on the cutting-edge of science — and opposing the “consensus” view — because they believe they see something which others haven’t as of yet — and which they themselves haven’t had the time to communicate. The background thoughts for the ideas that they put into the foreground in their written work, perhaps. And perhaps they truly have — or perhaps they have not. But objectivity itself cannot simply collapse into some social version, otherwise this leaves no room for the individual exploration and innovation which moves us forward.

    *

    captcha fortune cookie: 1888 churches

    That year does not have a pleasant association with it for me. Not sure what churches have to do with it, though.

  18. 368
    Hank Roberts says:

    Chuckle. Let’s not start _believing_ the web has achieved sentience and is choosing our Captchas consciously.

    Or maybe that’s how may sects Bayesians will split into (grin)

  19. 369
    Timothy Chase says:

    Ray Ladbury wrote in 364:

    CL, regarding the weirdness of the quantum world. While the weirdness is undeniable, I don’t think we’re talking about sending telegrams to the past–or even spacelike telegrams to the present. It is difficult to think how you’d extract any information from an entangled system. The existence of entanglement tells us something profound about physical reality–indeed, it casts doubt on the entire proposition for some philosophers, though not for physicists. You can certainly see why Einstein found it disturbing, but as Bohr said anyone who is not disturbed by quantum theory hasn’t understood it.

    The “bunch” I was with drew the line at probabilistic causation — where the probabilistic nature of the phenomena was inherent in the object. And this is of course the same bunch that took the existence of volition to be a “corollary” to an axiom.

    Thesis, antithesis, synthesis… I was always attracted by the concept of complementarity. And I would apply this in the case of causality. We had to grasp necessitated causation first, but the grasping of it would not be possible without the existence of probabilistic causation.

    As a “realist” (albeit not one who has any problem with entanglement / the Einstein Podolsky Rosen Paradox / Bell’s Theorem) I believe that the collapse of the wave function is not brought about by the act of observation — but rather the physics of observation, the amplification of a microscopic fluctuation to the macroscopic level by a macroscopic system which is itself unstable. Essentially something along the lines of Illya Prigogine’s microscopic theory of irreversible processes as expressed in “From Being to Becoming.” However, I understand that Prigogine (a contemporary and associate of John Archibald Wheeler, incidentally, who drew him away from his “participatory universe” view) never actually finished his “theory.” At this point I am skeptical that he ever could.

    However, it is clear that instability is an essential ingredient in measurement of the microscopic realm — and in consciousness itself. Likewise, dissipative structures clearly exist — as does self-organization. But the attempt to mathematically formulate a law governing the production of entropy under far from equilibrium conditions is at best problematic.

    For a critique of Prigogine, one might try:

    About some common slipups in applying Prigogine’s minimum entropy production principle to living systems
    James J. Kay
    http://www.nesh.ca/jameskay/www.jameskay.ca/musings/mep.pdf

    *

    For better or worse, entropy production principles have made their way into (perhaps overly) theoretical climatology.

    See for example:

    Maximum Entropy Production and the Earth’s Climate
    By ÉUGENIE CRÉMER, MATTHIAS CUNTZ, GRAHAM D. FARQUHAR, and GARTH W.
    PALTRIDGE
    http://www.rsbs.anu.edu.au/ResearchGroups/EBG/documents/TechnicalReport_MEP.pdf

    Maximum entropy production as a constraint on the climate system
    Supervisors: Jonathan Gregory, R´emi Tailleux, Maarten Ambaum
    http://www.met.rdg.ac.uk/phd/topics/descriptions/jg.pdf

    *

    For a critique of entropy production principles, I would recommend — for whatever my recommendation is worth:

    Classification and discussion of macroscopic entropy production principles
    Stijn Bruers
    (Submitted on 20 Apr 2006 (v1), revised 5 Sep 2006 (this version, v2), latest version 2 May 2007 (v3))
    http://arxiv.org/abs/cond-mat/0604482v2

    Personally, I tend towards a kind of minimalist metaphysics — one that consists of nothing more nor less than an analysis of the subject-object relationship for a being possessing volitional awareness — in which one begins with the object that the subject is aware of and not the subject who is aware. This gives me a certain flexibility when it comes to the discoveries of science.

    *

    One thought, though, we have discovered a form of microscopic irreversibility — an arrow to time — in subatomic particle decay. Illya Prigogine had suggested that there would be a slight violation of the law of exponential decay. This isn’t it. But it is an arrow to time.

    And now it is time for me to call it a night.

  20. 370
    CL says:

    Ray Ladbury, 364, and quantum weirdness. Thanks for the response.

    I’m well out of my depth, and not qualified to opine, but seems to me, we have organs which can perceive photons. We didn’t know that, until physics and biology explained the mechanism. Might be that consciousness is in some respect a quantum phenomenon, or has quantum aspects, and microtubules might suggest a plausible mechanism. If that was somewhere near the case, then one might well expect for weird ESP stuff to occur, via entanglement or whatever. It’s all vague hand waves on my part. I’ve read the several different possible interpretations available and am in no position to say which, if any, is correct. But I am personally convinced that the mind has powers which can be trained and developed which most people would regard as ‘impossible’, and just as for visual seeing, there must be some physical explanation. But science is good at this stuff. The little chinks that open up new vistas. Strange anomalies, like friction causing static electricity so a comb can pick up fragments of paper were once equally bizarre and mysterious. I’m curious. I want to know. How ? Why ? What does it mean ? I enjoy having my mind boggled. Richard Feynman’s lectures explaining quantum physics for ordinary folks are one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen, as great as a Shakespeare play :-)

  21. 371
    CL says:

    Timothy Chase, 367, Thanks for the suggestion. There’s something deeply poignant, the moment when a human being knows that he or she knows something new, something nobody else knows or has ever known. And then comes the hard struggle of trying to explain it to others. ‘After nirvana, washing the dishes’.

  22. 372
    tamino says:

    Like most readers here, I’m highly skeptical of claims about paranormal phenomena. But I suspect I also share this with most readers: I have only a passing familiarity with the available research. My personal opinion is that it’s bunk — but I haven’t got the data or knowledge of the literature to back that up.

    One thing I’m sure of: it’s off topic for this blog. I’ll bet those who wish to debate the subject can find a blog for which it’s relevant.

  23. 373

    John Mathon posts:

    The anti-nuclear power folks told us that nuclear power was dangerous and yet its proven to be the safest form of energy ever invented.

    Tell it to the Ukrainians.

    A recent satellite survey showed that life on the planet earth has increased 20% in the last 40 years.

    WHAT “satellite survey?” Cite a source. And up 20% measured how? Not in biomass, that’s for sure. It sounds awfully like you just made this up.

    The death rate from natural disasters has fallen 99+% in the last 100 years.

    Cite a source. I don’t believe you.

    The world isn’t dying and the temperatures aren’t soaring out of control, they are actually declining for the last 10 years!

    You never took a statistics course, did you?

    Tim Ball’s errors

    Tilo Reber’s errors

    CO2 is a plant nutrient and everything we look at says that the increasing CO2 in the atmosphere has been a net positive for life on the planet earth.

    Cite a source. I don’t believe you.

    People told us preventing global warming would save lives but the very first thing we do to stop global warming puts 1 BILLION people’s lives at risk for starvation and plunges millions of people into poverty!

    Cite a source.

    I am perfectly happy to accept AGW or any warming if it is proved.

    Science doesn’t deal in proof. Mathematics or formal logic does. Science deals in empirical evidence.

    Temperatures are spiking downward on the land, in the ocean, in the troposphere.

    No, they are not.

    the destruction of ozone which seems to be related to the destruction of methane and other GHGs.

    No, it isn’t. You don’t know what you’re talking about. At best, you have increased CFCs confused with decreased GHGs (and none of them are decreased in real life).

    1) lack of warming in the antarctic
    50 years of lack of heating even though every model predicts the poles will heat equally.

    The models don’t predict any such thing. Who told you they did?

    I know a lot about models and you don’t want to defend these models. It would be astonishing if these models didn’t have hundreds of wrong assumptions, wrong physics, missing or incomplete descriptions and even bad coding. Admit it, it would be astounding if the models worked. They don’t.

    You obviously don’t know anything about climate models, or you wouldn’t post such ignorant falsehoods. The GCMs correctly predicted the magnitude of global warming, the cooling of the stratosphere, polar amplification, decreased diurnal temperature variation, increased droughts in continental interiors (ask the Australians), and the duration and magnitude of the cooling from the eruption of Mount Pinatubo.

    If you could prove the sensitivity such a paper would be produced and delivered to the APS.

    Been reading Monckton?

    Papers in climatology are normally published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, Geophysical Research Letters, Atmospheric Science, or if of enough interdisciplinary interest, Science or Nature. The newsletter Monckton published in isn’t even peer-reviewed.

    The rest of the repetitive arguments snipped for brevity.

  24. 374

    SecularAnimist writes:

    Now, if you count yourself as a “skeptic” of psi research, ask yourself to what extent your views are based on a a priori hostility to the very idea of psychic phenomena

    I’ve already told you I believe in psi, yet you continue to post the same ad hominem argument. Insulting the people who disagree with you does nothing to prove your case. Want to convince me there’s objective evidence for psi? Show me a double-blind study in a peer-reviewed journal — and not a parapsychology journal. And by “double blind” I am implying adequate controls, not the sort of controls that let the experiment produce positive results when the experimenters are believers but negative or inconsistent results when they aren’t.

  25. 375
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Secular Animist,
    I am rather an agnostic on matters of the paranormal. However, I would be more receptive to it if someone could posit a credible mechanism that did not violate the known laws of physics. Telekenesis has some pretty serious problems with energy conservation. Precognition is a little difficult to rationalize in a Universe where time (and information) flows in only one direction. Telepathy seems the most plausible, but again, since many practitioners suggest the effect doesn’t decrease with distance, energy conservation again becomes an issue. I am not being flippant or dismissive. I have trouble being receptive to paranormal studies for the same reason I tend to beleive climate science–that position is consistent with both the physics and the evidence.
    Now if you posit a cause outside the physical realm, well and good. But somehow that cause must interact with the physical realm, and that too, causes difficulties. It seems to preclude scientific study. I mean no offense. This is just my thinking on the matter.

  26. 376
    Martin Vermeer says:

    John Mashey #366:

    Do you really mean to do that?

    Argument from consequences (“Do you really want to be an atheist, knowing that it undermines morality?”). There is a fancy Latin name for this fallacy…

    I have no problem granting that A3 < A1 ~ A2. My problem is that even A1 >> what in any other science would already have been considered highly convincing evidence (as prof Eysenck put it “[t]o the hilt” already in the 1960’s). I don’t think that the folks in B3 are nearly as intellectually or actually dishonest as the leadership in B1 and B2. Just a blind spot, mostly. And yes, that even happens to scientists :-)

    As to the argument that psi “doesn’t fit in”, yes, it seems that way, doesn’t it. Doesn’t that tickle your curiosity? Occam was never meant to exclude fields of investigation, and this one is very small already.

  27. 377
    Hugh says:

    BPL FYI re:373

    The death rate from ‘natural’ disasters has fallen 99+% in the last 100 years

    This data from the EMDAT database would seem to contradict John’s statement somewhat (notwithstanding the complex issues regarding the recording of such fatalities). Particularly as the noughties have got a couple of years to run. Whilst I agree, fatalities have certainly reduced in recent decades, the suggestion that they have fallen 99+% is clearly a misrepresentation of the Global record

    Sorry I can’t do a table but the following series represents the recorded deaths attributed to natural disasters for the period 1900 – 2008, by decade (e.g. 1900-1910, 1911-1920 …) and as a percentage of all recorded deaths (i.e. 28,516,773)

    16.29; 22.38; 19.39; 4.06; 13.52; 7.57; 7.36; 2.18; 2.89; 1.71; 2.64

    http://www.emdat.be/Database/AdvanceSearch/advsearch.php

  28. 378
    kevin says:

    Rod B:
    I’d call it a variation on groupthink, rather than religiosity, but at some level we’re probably talking about the same thing. High-consensus groups are extremely susceptible to groupthink, in-group and out-group bias effects, dogmatism, etc. Which is something we would all do well to bear in mind.

  29. 379
    CL says:

    Even if it was true that the death rate had diminished, etc, it’s fairly easily restored

    http://www.newstatesman.com/books/2008/07/nuclear-weapons-atomic-war

  30. 380
    Rod B says:

    Jim (361), yes, losing entire ecosystems would be a problem.

  31. 381
    Hank Roberts says:

    Rod, 9:20 AM
    > losing entire ecosystems would be a problem

    Is.

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=%22losing+entire+ecosystems%22

    Confronting a biome crisis: global disparities of habitat loss and protection
    Ecology Letters
    http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/118669233/abstract
    VL: 8, NO: 1, PG: 23-29, YR: 2005
    US: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1461-0248.2004.00686.x

  32. 382
    SecularAnimist says:

    To Barton Paul Levenson:

    First of all, I am not arguing here for the existence of so-called “psychic” or psi phenomena. I am trying to make a point about skepticism vs. pseudo-skepticism.

    I reference parapsychology for several reasons, among them: (1) I have studied it for some time and know quite a bit about it; (2) I also am quite familiar with the varieties of “skepticism” towards parapsychology, ranging from what I would call genuine open-minded skepticism (which I have acknowledged might lead someone who actually studies the subject to either agree or disagree that the occurrence of psi phenomena has been scientifically established), to what I would call close-minded pseudo-skepticism, including organized groups who are hostile to and actively seek to discourage and discredit research in the field); (3) I see some parallels between the varieties of “skepticism” that address parapsychology and those that address global warming research; and (4) I find those parallels particularly illuminating precisely because the actual subject matter and the state of scientific knowledge of parapsychology and climate science are so different (though there are occasional parallels such as the challenges of distinguishing signal from noise in results).

    I have not engaged in any “ad hominem“. In the sentence you quote, I asked readers to “ask yourself to what extent your views are based on an a priori hostility to the very idea of psychic phenomena”. I asked that question because I think it is valuable to recognize that the faults we find in others — such as the a priori hostility to the conclusions of climate science that seems to drive so many “AGW skeptics” — can reside in ourselves as well.

    You have evidently already asked yourself that question, and answered that your views are not based on any such hostility. Fine. I believe you. I think that’s entirely legitimate. As I have now said repeatedly, I agree that genuinely open-minded skeptics might very well examine the state of psi research today and come to differing conclusions about what it has and has not established.

    On the other hand, based on my own knowledge of the field, I think that what seems to me to be your harshly negative view of parapsychology and parapsychologists is unfair and unfounded. Even Ray Hyman, who is a founding member of CSICOP, and in my view not skeptical but antagonistic to the field, has stated that the practicing parapsychologists whose facilities he visited and whose work he evaluated (in the course of a study commissioned by the US Army) were serious scientists conducting their research with integrity, according to the best standards of science, even as he concluded that they had not proved that such phenomena exist.

    BPL wrote: “Show me a double-blind study in a peer-reviewed journal — and not a parapsychology journal.”

    That seems an odd request. Would you require that climate scientists publish their results in the peer-reviewed journals of some other unrelated field, before you would consider their work credible? It is certainly true that parapsychologists have encountered disinterest and even hostility towards publishing their work in scientific journals outside the field. As the New York Times reported on the occasion of the closing of the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) Lab, which for nearly 30 years studied mind-matter interactions and remote perception (as described in the book The Margins Of Reality):

    Prominent research journals declined to accept papers from PEAR. One editor famously told Dr. Jahn that he would consider a paper “if you can telepathically communicate it to me.”

    Brenda Dunne, a developmental psychologist, has managed the laboratory since it opened and has been a co-author of many of its study papers. “We submitted our data for review to very good journals,” Ms. Dunne said, “but no one would review it. We have been very open with our data. But how do you get peer review when you don’t have peers?”

    Several expert panels examined PEAR’s methods over the years, looking for irregularities, but did not find sufficient reasons to interrupt the work. In the 1980s and 1990s, PEAR published more than 60 research reports, most appearing in the journal of the Society for Scientific Exploration, a group devoted to the study of topics outside the scientific mainstream.

    I appreciate that the moderators have indulged this discussion and I want to again emphasize that I am not trying to engage in an off-topic discussion of parapsychology, but rather to reference parapsychology in order to make a point about the varieties of “skepticism”. But at this point I think I have either made that point, or failed to make it — that’s up to other readers to decide — and I will not test the patience of the moderators with any further comments on the subject.

  33. 383
    Hugh says:

    #377… More:

    Because then I thought “Oh he just means natural disaster deaths have reduced by 99+% in just the US and Canada”

    Nope!

    Same thing, decade to decade deaths (1900 – 2008) as a percentage of total N. American deaths (92,915)

    10.04; 57.12; 3.51; 4.25; 1.86; 3.53; 3.86; 4.25; 3.53; 3.93; 4.13

    PS. I assume I’m correct in attributing the incredibly high 1920 total to Spanish Flu (EMDAT classes a total 50,000 loss in that period as being ‘Epidemic’ related

  34. 384
    Hank Roberts says:

    Nice work, Hugh! Thank you.

  35. 385
    SecularAnimist says:

    Ray Ladbury wrote: “I am rather an agnostic on matters of the paranormal. However, I would be more receptive to it if someone could posit a credible mechanism that did not violate the known laws of physics.”

    I would be more than happy to share my own thoughts on that matter, but it would be way, way off-topic and I fear I have strained the hospitality of the moderators already. Perhaps some other time, in some other forum. Suffice it to say that I regard the term “nature” to be synonymous with “all that is”, and therefore all phenomena are natural phenomena, and are accessible to study and understanding through the methods of natural science. In my view the term “supernatural” has no referent; if something exists, then it is part of nature. If pyschokinesis, precognition, remote perception and even something resembling reincarnation do in fact occur then they are natural phenomena, and they can be studied and understood by science. That’s the entire premise of parapsychology. Whether such phenomena can be understood in the context of current scientific knowledge, or whether they represent aspects of nature that are beyond our current knowledge and understanding, is in my view an open question. I would commend to your attention Dean Radin’s book Entangled Minds if you are interested in pursuing this subject further.

  36. 386
    Owen Phelps says:

    Rod B, kevin:

    It’s not really about groupthink. I’ve just re-read Rod B’s early comments, and his intent, in hindsight is fairly clear. But he kept using the wrong terms. And his attempts at clarification also included the wrong terms (or rather, terms used incorrectly in a technical sense).

    He was corrected, by tamino amongst others, and even accepted that correction. But then went on to say things like:

    “Monckton also talks of downward trend since 1998. That too is accurate. […] You guys keep answering, in essence, ‘..but he’s a dork’, or ‘it’s meaningless’, or ‘it’s statistically insignificant or misleading’. I knows dat; wasn’t what I was asking.”

    AFTER his use of trend was corrected, he went on to use it the wrong way. Saying “I knows dat; wasn’t what I was asking” doesn’t help, because, like it or not, what he MEANT isn’t what he SAID. It’s an unfortunate situation, but you can’t fault people for responding to what was said, when the same error was repeated several times in followup comments.

  37. 387
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Ray #375: yes, those are important constraints on what makes psi ‘tick’.

    …and you forgot the most important one: if there are folks out there who can influence or foresee the turn of the roul-ette wheel or the roll of the die, how come ca-sin-os the world over are all in all pretty sound business operations?

    :-)

  38. 388
    CobblyWorlds says:

    Reduction of deaths due to natural disasters.

    If true this is completely unsurprising.

    Just 2 examples.

    1) Canvey Island Floods UK 1953.
    e.g. http://canveyisland.org.uk/06-floods/5-clippings/intro_clippings.htm
    The death toll was higher than any comparable recent UK flood event (like 2007) due to lack of warning – the storm surge had gone down the whole east coast in the hours preceding but there was no organised system to pass warnings on. Furthermore as seen in last year’s UK floods the military and civil authorities were able to bring to bear a comprehensive command and control system backed up by assets such as helicopters, even inshore rescue teams from RNLI were bought in to assist.

    As an aside; this event lead to the formation of RAYNET, British Radio Ham organisation dedicated to assisting in emergencies. http://www.norfolkraynet.org.uk/page5a.html

    2) The Boxing Day Asian Tsunami,
    As an example of an overwhelming catastrophe affecting “undeveloped” societies (i.e. not high tech and well resourced like the UK). Unlike the smaller catastrophe of Krakatoa, massive international aid was rapidly bought to bear, saving many lives that may otherwise have been lost in the aftermath. As a result of the media many more people now know not to stand and gawp if the sea rapidly recedes (if you didn’t know; you should run for high ground – assuming there is high ground if you ever see such a thing, you’re now in a position to contribute to the reduction in casualties). Furthermore the Pacific Tsunami warning system model is being rolled out in the Indian Ocean, which should further reduce casualties if the same thing happens again.

    I don’t want to open old wounds or start a pointless spat, but I consider this a crucial point: The American presence in the Asian Tsunami effort and aftermath was/is commendable, and typical of the US. That is interesting to note in view of New Orleans – capability is a pre-requisite, but organisation is critical. Both AGW and Peak Oil have the capability to damage our capability.

    None of this should be construed as support in any way for John Mathon’s post #325 which I personally consider facile.

    Cobbly Out.

  39. 389
    Jim Eager says:

    Re John Mathon, just google his name+global warming or climate change.

    ‘Nough said.

  40. 390
    Eli Rabett says:

    Can there be any better journal to learn about psi powers than the Journal of Scientific Exploration, an all around source for denialists and denial. As they themselves say

    “While one organization may cover parapsychology, another consciousness, a third exotic energy sources, and a fourth UFO inquires, the SSE cover the gamut…”

    They also do climate change denial. The best is the attempt to measure the weight of sheep’s souls (see comments)To quote William the Sane

    “This guy weighed sheep while he was suffocating them with a plastic bag. He concluded…there’s no way to tell what he concluded.”

    which kind of reminds Eli of the paper under discussion and some other recent chaff

  41. 391
    Hugh says:

    #373 BPL

    Ahhh…Indur Golanky is the source of the 95-99% figure

    http://www.csccc.info/reports/report_23.pdf

    Well, I guess that serves me right for dashing off a quick response. When I started playing with the ‘Natural Disaster Deaths’ (which JM incorrectly guided us toward, as he really meant ‘Extreme Weather Deaths’), and adjusted them against global population by decade, a very nice negative ‘trend’ jumped out at me. I think I can see what Golanky means, but I’m not statistically proficient enough to identify any howlers.

    As you say Cobbly, Forecast, Warning and Response Systems are infinitely better than they were even a few years ago and, thank goodness, hazard education programmes such as ‘UNISDR Disaster Reduction Begins at School’ are having a real effect

    http://www.preventionweb.net/english/professional/publications/v.php?id=761

    What I would say, however, is that I really wouldn’t crow around claiming how brilliant a 99% reduction in deaths is when, according to Emdat, in the period 2000-2008 721,167 people still lost their lives to weather events. There’s a great deal of ‘adaptation’ to do yet

  42. 392
    John Mathon says:

    388: Both AGW and Peak Oil have the capability to damage our capability.

    The earths temperature has been rising since at least 1725 or so. During that time the extra heat has been beneficial. It is neccessary for you to prove that we;ve hit the optimal temperature and further increases are damaging.

    It is also neccessary for you to show that the continuing amazing improvements in human responses to natural disasters would in any way be harmed by the things you mentioned.

    [edit – either discuss calmly or don’t bother]

  43. 393
    Timothy Chase says:

    Eli Rabett wrote in 390:

    Journal of Scientific Exploration … They also do climate change denial. The best is the attempt to measure the weight of sheep’s souls (see comments)To quote William the Sane

    “This guy weighed sheep while he was suffocating them with a plastic bag. He concluded…there’s no way to tell what he concluded.”

    I thought I remembered you writing about how global warming “skeptics” were having articles published in that journal, but I wasn’t sure that I had remembered the title correctly. Thank you for the confirmation. Maybe my mind isn’t going quite yet. Not so sure about that sheep fellow though…

    *

    Captcha fortune cookie: 10,301,000 opium

  44. 394
    John Mashey says:

    re: #68, #223 back to Monckton and APS

    So far, in APS, besides Gerald Marsh and Larry Gould helping Monckton, we find:
    APS Fellow Roger W. Cohen in a blog that features folks like Dennis Avery, Steve Milloy.

    Anybody know Dr. Cohen?

  45. 395
    SecularAnimist says:

    Eli Rabett wrote: “… the Journal of Scientific Exploration, an all around source for denialists and denial.”

    I subscribed to the Journal of Scientific Exploration, which is published by the Society for Scientific Exploration, for years. As you note, it publishes a range of articles on various subjects outside the mainstream of scientific inquiry. The articles by Robert Jahn and Brenda Dunne of the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) Lab were of consistently high quality. The quality of other articles varied. In addition to reviewed scientific articles JSE also publishes essays, book reviews, etc.

    However, I recently canceled my subscription in response to the JSE’s publication of a series of (not peer-reviewed) book reviews and articles about the so-called “global warming controversy” that were, to put it bluntly, nothing but rote regurgitation of the most pathetic, long-discredited climate change denialist pseudo-science and ideologically-driven right-wing baloney.

    I exchanged a series of emails with the JSE’s editor in which I complained about this development and the serious lapse of judgement it represented. I expressed my disappointment that JSE was apparently being co-opted into becoming an outlet for fossil-fuel industry propaganda, and documented in detail the fossil fuel industry funding of some of the sources (e.g. Fred Singer and various other right-wing “think tank” types) that the JSE’s articles relied upon. Ultimately he insisted that there was indeed a “controversy” about the reality of anthropogenic global warming at which point I felt it necessary to cancel my subscription in protest, much as I regret losing access to articles on subjects such as psi research that can be found in few other sources.

  46. 396
    Jim Galasyn says:

    John Mathon, it seems odd that you’d choose to respond to Cobbly tangentially, when there are so many questions to you upthread. Are you conceding that your post has been thoroughly refuted?

  47. 397
    dhogaza says:

    The earths temperature has been rising since at least 1725 or so. During that time the extra heat has been beneficial. It is neccessary for you to prove that we;ve hit the optimal temperature and further increases are damaging.

    Well, no, first you have to demonstrate that your hand-waving claim that warming from 1725 until August, 2008 has been beneficial is correct. Bald assertion is insufficient.

  48. 398
    dhogaza says:

    Well, note what Dr. Cohen says:

    I retired four years ago, and at the time of my retirement I was well convinced, as were most technically trained people, that the IPCC’s case for Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is very tight. However, upon taking the time to get into the details of the science, I was appalled at how flimsy the case really is.

    See the classic science denialist pattern?

    “I used to believe in (modern biology, HIV/AIDS causation, global warming …) until I studed the science and found out the evidence disproves …”

    Invariably it’s a lie…

  49. 399
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Found this:
    “Dr. Roger Cohen, Ph.D. is the former Director of Strategic Planning and Programs and of Physical Sciences for ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co., the worldwide research arm of ExxonMobil. Dr. Cohen, a physicist by training, is an expert in basic and alternative energy processes including fuel cells and solar applications and catalysis. Dr. Cohen has long been involved in nanotechnology and its applications as part of ExxonMobil research. He brings this experience and knowledge to NanoClarity. Dr. Cohen is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the holder of 4 fundamental patents and has published over 40 technical and strategic papers. He holds a B.S. from MIT, and both an MS and Ph.D. from Rutgers, all in physics.”

    Retired in 2003. Issued a $5000 bet that 2017 would be cooler than 2007.

  50. 400
    John Mathon says:

    >Jim Galasyn Says: John Mathon, it seems odd that you’d choose to respond to Cobbly tangentially, when there are so many questions to you upthread. Are you conceding that your post has been thoroughly refuted?

    I posted 2 replies which don’t seem to have been released. Although I didn’t respond precisely to Gavins comments I will do some of the research that he suggested on models. All I had before were the public comments in the IPCC AR4 and 2001 reports to read and the published scientific papers on their failures.

    I maintain that it is not neccessary for me to prove that AGW is false. That is manifest in the data that is coming out. In order to prove the theory of high sensitivity to CO2 it is neccessary for Gavin or someone to produce a paper deliver it to the APS and show how one can show without doubt that we will get 2-4C / doubling of CO2. I believe there is a “theory” that this could happen but currently this “theory” is just a theory and is not proved. I therefore consider it unscientific and demeaning for Gavin or other pseudo-political-scientific people to claim that high sensitivity is “proved.” It clearly is not.

    While Gavin and others may argue the data doesn’t preclude the theory from being correct YET it certainly doesn’t validate the theory. The current haitus in temperature requires explanation not from me but from the AGW high sensitivity enthusiasts such as Gavin who need to explain how it is remotely possible to get 0.32 or 0.4 or whatever continuous decade after decade heating of the atmosphere when it is apparent that all heat in the system accumulated over the last 30 years is slipping away as fast as it is. In particular I would like to know how he’s going to get the oceans warming again since apparently pouring an unbeliavably large amount of CO2 into the atmosphere over the last 10 years has led to no heating of the ocean, troposphere or land.

    I grant part of Gavins point on the models not being “fitted” in the traditional sense that the physics were designed from the scratch to represent the data but I am quite sure that these models were not created in a vaccuum and they were tested against past data over and over again, parameters were adjusted and the physics modified to some extent based on how well they worked against the real world data from the last 100 years or so. Even if the process was as simple as rejecting models that didn’t fit the historical record this would invalidate using past data as a “verification” of the theory. This is part of the neccessary process of scientific refinement. I’m not criticisizing the need to fit the data. That is a pre-requisite that the models at least work against the past data. What I’m saying is that you cannot then use that past data to prove your models. Even if the models were only tangentially or slightly modified based on the data or if the parameters were adjusted to fit the past data it is a corruption of the scientific process to suggest that you can go back and use that data to back up your models.

    Therefore the only thing that really would “prove” the models would be for new data, data that has never before been seen by the models to match. 2 scientific publications have released documents that have subjected the models to extensive testing against current data as well as e more specific past data and found them to be flawed in everyway. Obviously as I stated the models are failing to account for a large number of currently observed phenomenon such as the ARGO buoy data which seem like quite irrefutable data. We have a 50 year failure of the models to account for temperatures in the antarctic.

    I’m not a model designer although it is tempting to join such a group and try to figure out what looks to be an endlessly interesting problem but it is up to them to fix these things and refine them. I do envy them in that it is quite an intellectual challenge but I don’t envy them in that I find it hard to believe we understand enough to actually build models which would be reliable. Maybe in 20 or 30 years we will be better at this.

    I think the principle weakness at this point in the high sensitiivty thesis is that H2O in the atmosphere is not experiencing the kind of feedback put into all the models. It appears that somehow H2O is “raining out” of the sky faster than is expected. Either there are things making this happen or there is simply no connection between clouds/rain and temperature in the way envisioned. I think the feedback authors are working on this but in any case they are likely to reduce dramatically this important feedback and that will drastically reduce the total temperature sensitivity to CO2.

    I think it is deceptive of the scientists who proclaim that the science is “proven” when actually very little is proved. It is deceptive that scientists don’t tell people that feedbacks which are 2/3 of the expected heating by 2100 are not proved and in quite a lot of trouble. If the sensitivity falls below 2-4 C it is important because of course then it becomes politically irrelevant.


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