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Second CRU inquiry reports

Filed under: — gavin @ 14 April 2010

The Oxburgh report on the science done at the CRU has now been published and….. as in the first inquiry, they find no scientific misconduct, no impropriety and no tailoring of the results to a preconceived agenda, though they do suggest more statisticians should have been involved. They have also some choice words to describe the critics.

Carry on…

1,421 Responses to “Second CRU inquiry reports”

  1. 1351
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “Everything eventually comes down to how much energy it takes to do a thing and the cost of that energy.”

    How much did the printing of Harry Potter cost in energy?

    How about the ebook version?

    How about the CD vs the LP vs the MP3?

    How about the energy needed to feed you vs the energy needed for a car?

    Compare and contrast the price of Bay Leaves vs Dope or Opium.

  2. 1352
    SecularAnimist says:

    BPL wrote: “Ad hominem … Have I said, ‘You accept psi because at heart you’re a New Age flake who desperately wants to believe cool stuff is true?’ No. I said the evidence was bad.”

    Actually, in response to my disagreement with you as to the factual accuracy of your statements that “the evidence is bad” because “NO positive results stand up to careful investigation”, you said that I “know nothing about the scientific method” — which strikes me as something of an ad hominem not to mention a non sequitur.

    I hope we can agree that our disagreement as to the evidentiary status of psi research is a disagreement about the facts, and not a failure to understand the scientific method.

    Having said that, my whole point in mentioning parapsychology is about the role of a priori beliefs in influencing the “skepticism” with which each of us approaches various subjects, and the similar way that that influence is employed by organized “skeptic” groups that are for different reasons openly hostile to two quite different fields of research (climate change and psi), and who despite these differences use similar language and similar rhetorical strategies to discredit both fields of study.

    And when you clearly state the a priori belief “I do NOT believe those things can be demonstrated empirically”, that goes directly to the point that I was trying to make. (I do apologize if my speculation as to the possible basis of your stated a priori belief about what “can be” demonstrated empirically was offensive.)

    If a “climate skeptic” posted here that he found the scientific evidence for AGW to be lacking, and he also stated categorically that he approached the subject with the belief, “I do NOT believe that human activities CAN change the climate”, would you consider his a priori beliefs about what “can” and “cannot” happen to be relevant to his assessment of the evidentiary status of climate research?

    Do my own a priori “New Age flake” beliefs influence my views of the results of psi research — or of climate change research? Of course they do.

    In fact my a priori “New Age flake” belief in the holistic, deeply interconnected, self-regulating nature of the Earth’s biosphere (a.k.a. the “Gaia hypothesis”) strongly influences me to see in the known facts about AGW a very clear picture of much worse outcomes than many others see there.

  3. 1353

    CFU @ 1351:

    “Everything eventually comes down to how much energy it takes to do a thing and the cost of that energy.”

    How much did the printing of Harry Potter cost in energy?

    Just so you know, I’m completely fed up with most of what you seem to embody these days. The act has gotten old. Try something new.

    To answer your bogus question, could the printing of Harry Potter’s latest exploits have been accomplished without energy? Since it exists in all those other forms, it obviously could have been published in some other media besides print. Could that have been accomplished without energy?

    And to get back to your comment about humans consuming “renewables” — could those “renewables” have been produced without all the fossil fuels needed to produce them? No? There’s your problem.

    Really — it’s just Physics. If you don’t like the Laws of Physics, go yell at G-d because it’s not =my= fault.

  4. 1354
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Still no official Wegman Inquiry? Where is CEI Senior Plate Licker Chris Horner? Taxpayer-funded plagiarism and no FOIA requests? I don’t get it; I thought CEI is committed to preserving the integrity of science in America?

  5. 1355
    Ric Merritt says:

    Patrick 027 @ 1 May 2010 at 11:06 PM

    Thanks for at least discussing where the problem might be, if there is one (you don’t think so). That already gets you past the incomprehension from many others. (The Selectrics example didn’t come from me!) Yes, competition between the familiar uses of fossils and the newer use of building expensive renewable infrastructure is one element. But it goes beyond that. As fossil production wanes, the whole future of renewables, and therefore the entire economy, depends on how easy it is to do the big, brawny things without fossils. So far, aviation, earthmoving, sea cargo, a zillion other foundational activities are highly dependent on fossils. (Not to mention food.) If these basics are severely constrained, it won’t be good enough to observe that solar panels contain a somewhat limited amount of mined stuff. If the basics are in trouble, everything from Pop-Tarts to beach volleyball to road maintenance will also be in trouble, and this will emphatically include building infrastructure of all kinds, even the favorites. Plus, the old favorites won’t give up without a fight, so there’s a lot of waste there.

    To contemplate a future with less fossil consumption, the reality is, you have to do all the brawny stuff on renewables, or do without it.

    Lots of folks seem to think that energy from renewable sources can be substituted joule for joule to replace fossil energy. If we can do that, or even come close, that will be great. We aren’t doing that yet. Finding out how close we can come means running serious machinery, all of it, not just selected examples, on renewable energy, produced from infrastructure that comes from renewable energy, all the way down. We will certainly do that, since by definition the nonrenewables are going away. What we don’t know is how rich we’ll be when we get there, or indeed during the journey, which will take generations.

    And to the person who testily replied to me that duh, you just keep building more renewables and using fewer fossils until the split becomes all renewables, no fossils, I won’t embarrass you by naming you, but henceforth I’m ignoring responses as silly and evasive as that.

  6. 1356
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “The act has gotten old. Try something new.”

    How about you give the old gramaphone a rest yourself, hmm?

    I notice you get fed up when you haven’t got an argument.

    “could the printing of Harry Potter’s latest exploits have been accomplished without energy? ”

    That wasn’t the question.

    Compare the energy cost of the HP book to the eBook. Compare the price.

    Did it say ANYTHING about it not taking energy?

    I didn’t see it.

    Where did you?

    Or were you taking your own creative comprehension class there?

  7. 1357
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “And to get back to your comment about humans consuming “renewables” — could those “renewables” have been produced without all the fossil fuels needed to produce them? No?”

    Yes they could.

    ‘fraid you’re wrong there too.

  8. 1358
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “Lots of folks seem to think that energy from renewable sources can be substituted joule for joule to replace fossil energy.”

    Uh a joule doesn’t know what produced it.

    You need to specify what process it is THAT ISN’T ENERGETIC is missing. It can’t be the energy because, if anything, renewables have a much greater energy composition. Coal and oil are just stored sunlight, after all.

    So forget energy.

    What is missing from any other source that coal or oil supplies?

  9. 1359
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “And to the person who testily replied to me that duh, you just keep building more renewables and using fewer fossils until the split becomes all renewables, no fossils, I won’t embarrass you by naming you, but henceforth I’m ignoring responses as silly and evasive as that.”

    You state that as silly and evasive.

    Please explain.

    Is it impossible to replace fossil fuel energy turned into electricity used in smelting aluminium in induction heaters with electricity produced from windmills or tidal power?

    No.

    When you burn oil, do you get long chain polycarbonate plastics?

    No.

    Is concrete made from coal?

    No.

    So how is it a silly statement?

    Then, please, explain what it was evading because that’s missing too.

  10. 1360
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 1336 Kevin McKinney, 1344,1345,1351,1353,1356,1357 FCH, CFU

    I agree!

    There is some amount of food that can be obtained without non-human energy resources. There is some additional amount that requires (for the given level of technology, population, genetics, climate, etc.) some non-human energy input to get at.

    Except wherein labor is an end to itself (enjoy a nice walk), it tends to be motivated by recieving something in return (good health, a paycheck that might be spent in part on goods/services that used some amount of energy input); this determines the labor supply; the demand for labor is shaped by the value placed on things that labor does; different types of labor will have different supply-demand relationships; labor of one form can supply labor of another form.

    All value comes from the desire for stuff (in the most general sense), economic value is determine by that, combined with what can be obtained (the finite PPC).

  11. 1361
    Patrick 027 says:

    “There is some amount of food that can be obtained without non-human energy resources”

    besides the energy content of climate and ecosystem services

  12. 1362
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “besides the energy content of climate and ecosystem services”

    Oooh! Nearly got yer!

    ;-)

    US agriculture went from 1 calorie of oil producing 3600 calories of food to a 1:1 ratio.

    We didn’t get a commensurate increase in output.

    One problem is people eating fruit out of season. It’s flown or shipped overseas and sold.

    Rather enegetically wasteful.

  13. 1363

    Ric Merrit @ 1355:

    Yesterday I was at “Comfort Fest” and spoke to a property owner about a company I’m associated with parking their biodiesel truck on their property (they are changing leases).

    Which part of “biodiesel” and “truck” means that the brawny stuff can’t be done on renewable energy?

    A Mexican restaurant down the street from me has a “Food to Fuels” sign on their door. Their used oil is converted to biodiesel.

    A major computer manufacturer in town has a deal with a local landfill to purchase electricity produced from methane that is produced by the landfill.

    All of “Comfort Fest” was powered by renewable energy. It’s a pretty laid back music event, but it still required electricity.

    When does “it’s already being done” start to serve as proof that it can be done? Many of the “brawny” things can be done just fine on electricity — much of the rail traffic in the U.S. Northeast is moved by electric locomotives. Moving freight by rail is =cheaper= than moving it by truck, so that’s another “brawny” thing that can be handled with renewables.

    You keep confusing “is being done” with “can be done”. There’s ample evidence for “can be done” and all that remains is time before “is being done”.

  14. 1364

    SA 1352: And when you clearly state the a priori belief “I do NOT believe those things can be demonstrated empirically”, that goes directly to the point that I was trying to make.

    BPL: Boy, you still don’t get the difference between private beliefs and things that can be empirically demonstrated, do you? Never mind. You probably never will.

  15. 1365

    RM 1355: Lots of folks seem to think that energy from renewable sources can be substituted joule for joule to replace fossil energy. If we can do that, or even come close, that will be great. We aren’t doing that yet.

    Richard Merritt, Esq. (1842-1903), in 1890: Lots of folks seem to think that motorcars can be substituted vehicle for vehicle to replace traps and buggies. If we can do that, or even come close, that will be great. We aren’t doing that yet.

  16. 1366
    Anonymous Coward says:

    Ric Merrit,
    You reference The Oil Drum but TOD has a peculiar and suspiciously convenient take on economics. In your #1318, you talk about “the economy” like TOD luminaries tend to do when they prophesize doom and gloom. But macroeconomics is somewhat counterintuitive, especially for people who have only been exposed to a small set of ideological economic arguments for much of their life.

    So let’s look beyond abstract constructs such as “the economy”. Investments in energy are driven by demand expectations and availability of resources (skilled workers, steel and so on) which are often in demand for other investements or for the production of consumer goods. And they are also driven by policy of course.
    You argument in #1318 is that fossil fuel supply issues might lead to an investment-killing economic “downward spiral” and that a renewable infrastructure might therefore not get built. How would that work?
    Obviously, if energy demand was falling because of some kind of economic depression then expectations for future energy demand would fall along. So one would expect low or even zero investment in a depression. But overly abstract thinking fails you here because, if expectations are falling because energy supply is falling, then there will still be a clear need for investment in spite of the depression unless demand was falling faster than supply somehow. And why would that be?
    One could envision some kind of endogenous economical tipping-point but one would need to spell it out and this is a class of problems that can usually be legislated away so it’s hardly doom and gloom material. Or one could envison a technical problem with substituting other energy sources for fossil fuels. This would be more serious but, again, one would need to spell this out. For instance, you might be concerned about trucking. Would it be possible to run trucks on agrofuels? How much land would be required? But here again, there are solutions that can be brought through policy such as moving long-range trucking to rail. There are real problems to be sure and they can’t be solved overnight which might result in serious crises but do you envison anything that could bring about a terminal crisis? Recall that usage of fossil fuels can be stretched for many generations at a much reduced rate so substitutes aren’t needed for every single application.
    Alternatively, investments might not be undertaken because resources are directed elsewhere. It’s reasonable enough to expect such a problem in normal cirumstances but not in some kind of serious economic crisis driven by energy scarcity. In such a crisis, resources tend to be idled to begin with. Also, the need to prioritize energy investments would be obvious. So I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect a problem on that front… but it’s where the TOD crowd tends to expect a problem! Why? Because they confuse money with resources and the state’s budget with that of a household. Though a depression might wreck the budget of most households, as long as the resources are there to be mobilized, they will be those who will be able compel others to put the resources to use.
    Bad policies might wreck the potential for adaptation though, starting with war. On the other hand, constructive policies could not only help the private sector deal with technical problems once they arise but also prevent problems. A carbon tax for instance would slow depletion and reveal substitution problems and other issues before actual fossil fuel depletion kicks in, allowing for time-consuming adaptation measures to be implemented in advance of the fall in FF usage if need be.

    In your #1355, you also ask “how rich we’ll be”. Here also, I think you’d benefit from abandoning your overly abstract concepts. I don’t know about you but I’m not rich. I wouldn’t be much poorer if the stock market replayed 1929-33. And yet I’m wealthier than most slum dwellers and susbsistence farmers throughout the world to be sure. Only a small minority can possibly be rich, now or in a future society.
    You may actually be asking about future “material standards of living” but that doesn’t tell you how good a life most people would be leading either. Most people in industrial countries are now able to drive huge, fast cars that kings would not have dreamt of even 100 years ago. The biggest issue for many is likely to be insurance and parking space more than the cost of the dazzling technologies, the powerful engine, the steel or the fuel actually. But what good does such a marvelous vehicule do? People get to waste hours in stressful commutes at a fraction of the speed their car can achieve. I don’t know about you but I’d much rather take a walk in the woods. That’s the sort of thing kings might do.
    It’s nice to be healthy to be sure so I’m all for medicine and good food. In many locales, you might need insulation and/or heating. And people need culture too. But beyond that? Peace and freedom is what humans really want. Even today, slavery persists you know. You talk about “we” but it’s not clear who is included.
    It might be more productive to talk about practical issues with regard to food production and distribution for instance. Everyone needs to eat (no ifs and no buts there!) and there are lots of mouths to feed. How would that work without fossil fuels, non-renewable fertilizers and so on? And is it reasonable to put the limited amount of arable land we have at risk with climate change… for the sake of what exactly?

  17. 1367

    CFU, thanks for getting my back. [High-five]

  18. 1368
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re me 1360,1361 Re 1336 Kevin McKinney, 1344,1345,1351,1353,1356,1357,1362 FCH, CFU…

    [labor] “tends to be motivated by recieving something in return”
    motivated and enabled

    (Ends place value on things that meet those ends, and indirectly on value on things which go towards things which meet those ends, etc, running up against the limitations on what is available and the combinations of different things that can be obtained to meet different ends; the motivation for those ends combined with things already obtained that can be exchanged/expended for other things produces demand relationships…)

    So the value placed on energy depends on the value of what is to be done with it and the additional investments required to do that and any sacrifices made in doing that. Different forms of energy are more easily used for different purposes, and the value of different purposes thus affects the value of a form of energy and the cost-benifit relationship of converting one form to another (radiation to electricity, radiation to biofuel, radiation to food, food to metabolism, metabolism to heat, fuel to heat, electricity to heat directly, electricity to a heat pump, heat to electricity, heat to mechanical, electricity to mechanical, radiation outside to radiation inside, electricity at noon in Colorado to electricity at 3 pm in Minnesota, DC to AC, AC to DC, 1 MV to 120 V, etc.). In discussing EROEI, form of energy can be important. One way to rank energy is by entropy; the absence of energy can have value (if we lived a few miles beneath Antarctica, we might ‘mine’ the ice and use it as ‘fuel’ to run our air conditioners and heat engines – make that cold engines).

    The same amount of energy might be used for different purposes; in a market economy, the same amount of the same form at the same place and time should have about the same price, but the product or service it goes toward may have different prices – that relating to the different supply/demand relationship of other resources going into it and different demands for different products. If a different use is more profitable then a greater amount of energy will tend to go toward that use, and so the same overall benifit per unit energy should tend to come from using the same form of energy for different purposes, or otherwise the proportions would tend to change. But the relationship of benifit to energy is not fixed, at least not instantaneously. Perhaps if the profit is counted out to infinite time… but the decisions made in the market aren’t done with that foresight, so… (?)

    But the constant price per unit energy of one form at one time and place doesn’t mean that all products’ values are equally dependent on the same value of a form of energy or energy in total. Some energy-intensive products might be as in demand as some products that don’t require as much energy input.

    Etc. for labor and time, material, land area, etc.

    On the other hand, any particular total amount of product or service in a self-contained economy could be considered to depend on the whole thing. It takes all the energy in the world to produce all the steel. But in that case, all the energy in the world is used many times over each time it is ever used at all.

  19. 1369

    Jon wrote,
    “Indeed this site was recommended to me as THE place to go to to find a rebuffal of Montfords piece.”

    By whom? I’d like to see a link to that recommendation. AFAIK, there are no articles explicitly on Montford’s book here, much less a dedicated point-for-point rebuffal [sic] of it, so I really wonder why anyone would point you to RC for that.

    (Well, not *really*. From your sign-off about how Montford’s book will ‘bite you in the ass’, and your persistent refusal to name specific any points that needs rebutting, despite being asked several times, I call: troll all along.)

  20. 1370
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 1355 Ric Merritt
    “To contemplate a future with less fossil consumption, the reality is, you have to do all the brawny stuff on renewables, or do without it.”

    “Lots of folks seem to think that energy from renewable sources can be substituted joule for joule to replace fossil energy. If we can do that, or even come close, that will be great. We aren’t doing that yet.”

    See my last comment; energy does substitute for energy joule for joule if of the same form at the same place and time. Regarding location, renewable power from sources at different locations is equal to that from conventional power plants at ‘conventional’ locations if the economics and energetics of transmission/distribution are already included. Before that, rooftop solar electricity (after inverter) is worth a bit more and centralized desert power plants worth a bit less (assuming you don’t live in the desert) than power from the local power plants. Regarding time; electric power delivered at the same time is worth the same; in the time average, a little solar power may be worth more than the average power supply because it is more readily available in the daytime and in the summer during typical peak electricity consumption. A lot of solar power might however be worth less than conventional power plant power because solar power is not as easily available at night or in winter (at some point, increasing solar power would make the daytime and summertime power cheaper than the night and winter power). There may also be a cost associated with limited predictability (more of a factor on small scales; transmission eases this); predictable power has more value. But solar and wind power can be converted to dispatchable power, with some increase in cost and decrease in EROEI (in part via imperfect conversion efficiency), but if the increase in value of delivered energy is great enough, this is profitable for the conversion process. (PS at least some studies of economics and EROEI include transmission and storage; also, CSP power plants have the ability to store heat for later conversion to electricity on the scale of hours).

    So the ‘raw’ energy of solar and wind power may not have the same value as power from conventional power plants, but it is possible, with some adjustment to cost and energetics, to convert power that varies indepent of load and without predictability, to dispatchable power that can be matched to load – other power.

    The expense of delivering any energy in a predictable way to match loads also provides an incentive:

    1. to predict the availability of the cheaper, less-processed power, to aid in adjusting other power supplies and loads, and to improve efficiency and profitability of energy supply and use in general. (The energy industry presently uses forecasts to predict energy demand, for the same purpose).

    2. to other energy suppliers to adjust their schedules – their energy can be sold for greater prices when the load is high and the supply of alternatives is low; if the increase in price is greater than the increase in cost, they can do this for a profit.

    3. to energy consumers to adjust load to better follow the supply of the cheaper power. This may even involve relocation.

    Not all consumers and energy suppliers will be able to do this or do this to the same extent on the same timescales, but those which find it profitable will in effect serve as an energy storage and transmission service that helps everyone else.

    I’ve focussed on electricity so far; similar concepts apply to heat. The conversion of electricity to heat by resistance, if the temperature achieved is not very high relative to available heat sinks, generally involves a significant increase in entropy, and isn’t preferable to other options. The same heat energy with the same entropy can only be partially converted to electric power or other work, so if possible, it is better to use heat, especially at moderate to low temperatures, for heat. If heat must be produced by electricity, it should tend to be for relatively higher temperatures, or for more modest temperature differences, through a heat pump. But because of difficulties in transporting heat, some heat sources may be better converted to electricity. Cogeneration makes the conversion of heat to electricity much more economical. If fuel cells aren’t applicable or too expensive, then fuels can be converted to electricity via heat, but it tends to be preferable to do this in cogeneration (which may be with a mechanical heat engine, or perhaps TPV or thermoelectric conversion), or else it would be preferable to use fuel for heating and get electricity from other sources.

    Conventional fossil fuel power plants convert fuel to heat, and the conversion of fuel energy to electric energy has an efficiency typically around 1/3, give or take depending on fuel and plant. For EROEI for clean electric power, it makes sense to account for fuel inputs in terms of electrical equivalents (which may depend on the method of conversion). If cogenerations facilities are employed, then EROEI improves in that some heating needs are displaced (in some electrical equivalent – careful to choose a meaningful conversion factor, which might be tricky if electricity is not generally used to supply heat (??)).

    Heat may be converted from being available at one time to being available when it is more valued through storage. The same is true of lack of heat (as in a heat sink). Presently, some buildings use energy to produce ice in the daytime for the purposes of cooling at night – this may no longer make sense if/when solar power comes to dominate the power supply, but the general principles could still be employed. Heat from the summer and the daytime may be stored for winter and nighttime. The efficiency of solar PV cells is generally a bit higher at colder temperatures; cold water can cool the cells while being preheated, and then might be heated farther, if necessary, by panels devoted to heating water; they might in some cases or times still require additional heating, which might come from waste heat from fuel cells or a cogeneration furnace (producing electricity with TPV, perhaps), or from a heat pump or from fuel combustion – but the necessary energy input would be reduced by the solar heating. If their is excess solar heat available, that might be stored for later use. Cold from winter or night time might also be stored.

    Heat exchangers can transfer heat between two fluids – you might think that at best they could be brought to the same temperature, but picture two flows in opposite directions, and at each point, heat can flow from warmer to colder from a small temperature difference; the theoretic limit is that both fluids can reach the intake temperature of the other, or, if the heat capacity flow rates are different, the fluid with the lowest heat capacity flow rate can approach the initial temperature of the other fluid. Consider the heat (or cold) available from stale air or exhaust flows, the heat sink available from water that is going to be heated, and the heat available from outgoing used water. In the summer, it makes sense to bring fresh air into other rooms and have it exit through the kitchen or laundry or, in humid climates, the bathroom (well, you probably want bathroom air to exit the building anyway, at least when the toilet is in use).

    (PS salt could be produced by evaporation coolers in dry climates and then used as a dessicant in humid climates; might not be necessary but just a thought).

    Energy can be reused at higher entropy; light can be used again as heat, for example.

    Depending on latitude/region:
    In winter, an ideal skylight or window would let in most solar visible and IR, but reflect terrestrial IR (especially for skylights), and have good insulation.
    In summer, an ideal skylight or window would only be transparent to solar visible radiation and reflect solar IR, and (especially for side windows) terrestrial IR, and have good insulation.
    An adjustable screen might help in adjusting the skylights and windows from summer to winter conditions. It may be possible to get a lot of heat through skylights in winter. Large window areas tend to not be used because of the large temperature variations that can result, but that can be managed by having adjustable reflective screens and by adding thermal mass or other heat storage capacity.

    If/when solar power dominates the energy sources, efficiency will be more valuable in winter and it night than in summer and during the day, and this may affect building designs (some large buildings hardly ever need heating; solar power is a good match for them).

    Solar concentrators can supply heat (which can be stored) at high enough temperature for a significant fraction of industrial applications.

    Depending on the availability of electricity relative to fuel, it may become (if it isn’t already) preferable to convert some fraction of transportation to electric power. Necessary battery size can be reduced using PHEVs; fuel can be used for long-distance travel. Biofuels might be supplied, for example, from algae, peanut shells, used coffee grounds, banana peels, the crumbs that stick to muffin wrappers and the wrappers themselves, crop residues, spoiled and damaged crops and food, used napkins and paper plates, grass clippings, sewage, and landfills. Some of these would actually not compete with the food supply but instead be a coproduct of the food supply, and perhaps make food more affordable. Given the different efficiencies with which electricity and fuel can be used, biofuels not used in transportation might tend to be sold from lower latitudes to higher latitudes and stockpiled for winter – or it might be preferable to use solar electricity to produce hydrogen for plug-in hybrid fuel cell vehicles, since biofuels need to be converted to forms that could be used for fuel cells as opposed to burned for heat or cogeneration plants.

  21. 1371
    SecularAnimist says:

    BPL wrote: “you still don’t get the difference between private beliefs and things that can be empirically demonstrated, do you?”

    Of course I do. And it is absolutely clear in everything I have written in this conversation that I do “get it”. That is in fact the entire point of what I am trying to say. It is hard for me to imagine that you don’t understand that.

    Each of us approaches a given set of facts with a set of a priori “private beliefs”.

    Our private beliefs about what “CAN BE” empirically demonstrated influence our “skepticism” or lack thereof as to what, in fact, HAS BEEN empirically demonstrated.

    If we have strong a priori “private beliefs” that an alleged phenomenon — e.g. AGW or laboratory-reproducible psi phenomena — is an “extraordinary claim” we are likely to demand “extraordinary evidence” before we will accept that it has been empirically demonstrated. Which is of course the “skeptical” credo as expressed by Carl Sagan and espoused by so many skeptics. Which is ironic, since making a priori judgments as to what is or is not an “extraordinary” claim and then requiring different standards of evidence based on this arbitrary and subjective classification does not seem especially “skeptical”.

    And of course, if we have strong a priori “private beliefs” that an alleged phenomenon is outright impossible — that it cannot in principle be empirically demonstrated — then no evidence will be sufficiently “extraordinary” to overcome our “skepticism”.

    And we are likewise liable to be less skeptical towards arguments or evidence that supports our a priori beliefs that something that we regard as “extraordinary” or “impossible” cannot be and has not been empirically demonstrated.

    And again, I would like to go back to my main point. When I compare the rhetoric that has recently been directed by organized “climate skeptics” towards discrediting climate scientists and even climate science itself as a legitimate field of inquiry, I am struck by how closely it resembles, point by point and sometimes nearly word for word, the rhetoric that has long been directed at parapsychologists by organized “paranormal skeptics”.

    And it seems apparent to me that in both cases, that discourse is directed NOT at cultivating a true, healthy skepticism — but rather towards engaging people’s a priori beliefs about what is and is not “extraordinary”, or even impossible, in order to discourage impartial skepticism.

    And I suggest that noting that parallelism provides an opportunity for all of us to investigate how our a priori beliefs influence our skepticism or “skepticism” towards “extraordinary” claims.

  22. 1372
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Not *entirely* certain what psi has to do with climate.

    But if you want to make the discussion scientific, please propose a mechanism.

    Deja Vu: we don’t know how memory works nor how time exists. So there’s plenty of unknowns there to play with. So posit a theory of memory or time that makes such prophesy possible or renders it an imaginary effect.

    To impinge on our physical brains psionic phenomena has to have some physical effect on our physiognomy. Propose one.

    Psychokinetics has to engender a remote force on a physical object. Propose its generation and measure.

    You can believe in any of these all you like, but until your theory proposes something testable, it isn’t science.

    So on a SCIENCE blog, can we skip it?

  23. 1373
    SecularAnimist says:

    CFU wrote: “Not *entirely* certain what psi has to do with climate … So on a SCIENCE blog, can we skip it?”

    In fact, on a climate science blog, I have “skipped” hypothesizing about possible mechanisms behind psi phenomena.

    I’m not saying that psi has anything to do with climate, and I have no desire to engage in, and have tried to avoid, off-topic argument about what laboratory psi research has and has not established regarding the existence of psi phenomena (though in the interest of full disclosure, I will note that in my opinion the reality of several types of psi phenomena has been repeatedly empirically demonstrated in laboratory research; and I acknowledge that in this assessment of the evidence I disagree with BPL and probably with some other commenters here).

    I’m saying that both parapsychology and climate science have been subjected to campaigns of organized pseudo-skepticism aimed at discrediting not only researchers, but the very legitimacy of their field of study.

    I’m saying that these campaigns of organized pseudo-skepticism have used strikingly similar rhetoric and similar persuasive strategies to engage the a priori beliefs of their respective audiences so as to engender and promote a hostile attitude towards a field of inquiry — an attitude that has nothing to do with real, impartial skepticism.

    I’m saying that most of us are influenced by our a priori beliefs to subject different claims to different standards of evidence.

    I’m not comparing the merits of the evidence for AGW with the merits of the evidence for psi.

    I’m comparing the attitude towards climate science held by someone who knows little about it and gets all their information about it from the Heritage Foundation or other organized “climate skeptic” groups, with the attitude towards psi research held by someone who knows little about it and gets all their information about it from CSICOP or other organized “paranormal skeptic” groups.

    How many scientist types here would think it is just fine for people to form opinions about AGW based only on information from organized “skeptic” groups that are ideologically hostile to the idea that AGW is real?

    How many of those same scientists would think it is just fine to form opinions about the reality of psi based only on information from organized “skeptic” groups that are ideologically hostile to the idea that psi is real?

    I’m not really writing about psi — I’m writing about skepticism and pseudo-skepticism.

    And in as much as this thread is about the second CRU inquiry into just such an organized effort to discredit climate scientists, I think that discussion of the nature and appeal of organized pseudo-skepticism is on-topic, and that to compare and contrast the pseudo-skeptical attitude towards AGW with the similar pseudo-skeptical attitude towards psi offers an interesting perspective.

  24. 1374
    Ric Merritt says:

    FCH @ 3 May 2010 at 1:39 PM

    refers to a biodiesel truck and asks “Which part of “biodiesel” and “truck” means that the brawny stuff can’t be done on renewable energy?”

    Merely referring to a truck with biodiesel running the ICE doesn’t prove much one way or another. It’s a nice proof of concept of a tiny, and I mean really tiny, piece of renewable infrastructure. Only the tank contents are renewable, and only in a superficial sense. What would really impress would be a truck produced using renewable energy, at factories built with renewable energy, running on biodiesel produced from an agricultural infrastructure built with …… You get the idea. Or, based on your questions, you don’t, as your responses pay about as much attention to my words as you paid to spelling my name. I’m really repeating myself, so let’s desist unless any actual new concepts are introduced. Feel free to take another shot if you like.

    Patrick 027 @ 3 May 2010 at 9:44 PM

    gives a long reply which at least mentions some of the hurdles that we are facing. Yes, to make this work (meaning maintaining or even improving the current world economy), we’ll probably have to store and use electric energy in a lot of new/better/cheaper ways, and/or make liquid fuels from renewable sources. What we have now are small, expensive demonstration projects, baby steps that are necessary but not sufficient. With the help of conservation, and allowing for some inevitable human stupidity and waste, that learning curve to better/cheaper will have to come at a certain rate, lest we fall behind. If we do fall behind, the whole economic shebang will bottom out at some point below where we are now, and no one knows how far below. The well-acknowledged uncertainties in climate modeling are piddling compared to the uncertainties in the unprecedented future of forcible weaning from the one-time-only shot at using fossils.

    The part that naive optimism fails to see is that the improvement of those expensive demonstration projects is NOT NOT NOT independent of fossil fuels. Sorry to shout, but some readers are skipping over the “not”. It’s not just a race between anthropomorphic cartoon SunnyFace and anthropomorphic cartoon DirtyCoal, where we root for Sunny. Those 2 cartoon characters are tied together in a 3-legged race, and Sunny has to figure out how to get free and run alone before Dirty drops dead of one cause or another.

  25. 1375
    Patrick 027 says:

    What makes ‘psi’ (not the greek letter, not pounds per square inch) much more extradinary than AGW is that the known established physics allows – actually, requires – AGW to be a real phenomena, and it is yet-to-be discovered or substantiated strong negative feedback that could render it less significant, and even though some things are uncertain (cloud feedbacks, regional patterns), it is easy to concieve from the basic physics that there will be changes in clouds and regional patterns… psi has little to none of any of these things, save maybe the observation that we really have no idea why we actually feel and think at all, which leaves open various philosophical possibilities…

    (it’s not necessary for conscious experience to occur; the physics of neurons seems at least potentially able to account for all observables (there is no reason to think otherwise; Occam’s razor – why postulate new ‘forces’ when the knowns are able to account neatly for enough of the observed that it can be anticipated that through their complex interactions, they may give rise to the rest even though the details of that are yet to be worked out); given this, if we are to ascribe all humans who appear to think and feel and also have brains as being conscious, then why stop there – though the intensity may drop off, anything that appears to have a ‘mind of it’s own’ might actually be considered to have a mind of it’s own… – but the physics are unaltered, unless we take this to a new philosphical level and consider that the own reality we truly know is that of conscious experience itself – all matter and energy, space and time, is just mathematical constructs… but anyway…)

    Part of what I took from SecularAnimist, which I do agree with in general, is that it is possible to arrive at the right conclusion with the wrong method (a broken clock is correct twice a day (unless it’s digital)).

    I haven’t really ever looked into what the ‘skeptics’ say about psi (not the greek letter, not pounds per square inch); I tend to assume there isn’t much to it because I’ve never heard a convincing explanation supporting psi, though that could easily be my own fault for not being interested.

    But a more general point: there are many things we know that we really don’t know – I myself am not a historian – I’ve trusted what I’ve learned in school. But I am aware that not everything is known; I have not closed myself off to new discoveries or interpretations. Is history a religious matter for me, because I believe anything at all in spite of not myself being a historian? I’ve never read any of the studies that show vitamin C to have any importance to health. Shall I cut it out of my diet? No, I’m going to keep having orange juice, etc. – but I know to have some skepticism regarding the health headline of the day.

    That’s all I’ll say about it, except for this (meant in good humor, not insult): I have psychokinetic powers; I am thinking these words with intent to type, and … my fingers are moving and they are appearing on the screen! WOW! And there are millions of UFOs – many in the Amazon rainforest – we’ve narrowed them down to insects, but beyond that, who knows?

  26. 1376
    Patrick 027 says:

    “Part of what I took from SecularAnimist, which I do agree with in general,” – well, maybe that wasn’t what you (SecularAnimist) were actually saying; it was what I originally thought you were saying.

  27. 1377
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “Merely referring to a truck with biodiesel running the ICE doesn’t prove much one way or another. It’s a nice proof of concept of a tiny, and I mean really tiny, piece of renewable infrastructure.”

    Uh, isn’t the petrol truck just as much a proof of concept and just as tiny a piece of fossil fuel infrastructure?

    Did you know the history of the diesel engine?

    Did you know it was invented before the petrol was? Did you know that it was intended to be run on vegetable oils and not petroleum products? It had to be reconfigured for petroleum.

    Now they’ve had to convert them to run on vegetable oils again.

    The wheel turns, does it not?

  28. 1378
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “I’m not saying that psi has anything to do with climate,”

    OK, so can we killfile that conversation, then?

    Ta.

  29. 1379
    SecularAnimist says:

    Patrick 027 wrote: “Part of what I took from SecularAnimist, which I do agree with in general, is that it is possible to arrive at the right conclusion with the wrong method … well, maybe that wasn’t what you (SecularAnimist) were actually saying; it was what I originally thought you were saying.”

    I would say that someone who studies the primary literature of either parapsychology or climate science with an open mind, and an appreciation of what he or she does NOT “already know”, and makes a serious effort to understand the principles and research methods involved in that field of inquiry, and to impartially evaluate the results of research, has used the “right method”, regardless of what conclusions they reach.

    I would say that someone who approaches either parapsychology or AGW by relying exclusively on the views of organized “skeptic” groups who are openly hostile to that field of inquiry, because those views are in accord with his or her a priori beliefs, has used the “wrong” method, regardless of what conclusions they reach.

  30. 1380
    CRS says:

    For those who say “it cannot be done,” this pamphlet is a scream! http://www.woodgas.net/files/FEMA%20emergency%20gassifer.pdf

    It will be very hard to move the world away from energy-dense fossil fuels towards renewables, considering all of the economic emergencies going on, so progress will have to be incremental. That is what I’m working on with my research (algae biofuel with carbon sequestration).

    Engage your critics, folks! I’m presently more concerned about ocean acidification than long-range warming predictions, as acidification is accelerating. This is a fight we can probably prevail on, the USEPA is considering carbon regulation via the Clean Water Act. Public comments are now open. Acidification is a straight-forward chemistry issue without the forcing issues.

    Now, if only USEPA had jurisdiction in China…..p.s. buy American (he says while typing on his Apple MacBook Pro, “Made In China”)

  31. 1381
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “who are openly hostile to that field of inquiry, because those views are in accord with his or her a priori beliefs, has used the “wrong” method, regardless of what conclusions they reach.”

    Apparently not.

    Look, give it a method, hmm?

    How does it work and what are the consequences (e.g. greater energy loss or cooling brain appropriate to the energy that would be needed for TK).

    But don’t go looking for people with psi powers from people who guess well and hope you can show a correlation.

    Get a causation. Get a theory. Check for the cause. Then we can discuss.

  32. 1382
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re Ric Merrit –

    “What would really impress would be a truck produced using renewable energy, at factories built with renewable energy, running on biodiesel produced from an agricultural infrastructure built with …… You get the idea.”

    It is true that unforeseen issues can arise in taking an idea from the drawingboard (not all necessarily bad), but what could actually get in the way of this (scaling up clean energy to the point of dominance or beyond)? (If a thousand competing ideas are on the drawing board, how likely is it that they all fail miserably?)

    “gives a long reply which at least mentions some of the hurdles that we are facing. Yes, to make this work (meaning maintaining or even improving the current world economy), we’ll probably have to store and use electric energy in a lot of new/better/cheaper ways, and/or make liquid fuels from renewable sources. What we have now are small, expensive demonstration projects, baby steps that are necessary but not sufficient.”

    We can get a significant distance from what we already know how to do.
    There are things that haven’t yet been demonstrated but can be reasonably expected to work; there are things which may or may not work, or haven’t yet been invented. These things would help, perhaps a lot, but their absence doesn’t preclude all significant growth for renewable energy and efficiency.

    “The part that naive optimism fails to see is that the improvement of those expensive demonstration projects is NOT NOT NOT independent of fossil fuels.””

    But there is the problem in your pessimism. We can keep using some fossil fuels for some time for those uses in which they are harder to replace. It won’t be demonstrated to work on a large scale until it we build it at a large scale, so we might as well get started where we can.

    “If we do fall behind, the whole economic shebang will bottom out at some point below where we are now, and no one knows how far below. The well-acknowledged uncertainties in climate modeling are piddling compared to the uncertainties in the unprecedented future of forcible weaning from the one-time-only shot at using fossils.”

    Civilization is a delicate flower.

    I am optimistic that clean energy can be scaled up but I know it will cost extra, at least initially.

    A tax on the ‘dirty’ energy sources (and other emitting activities) will make alternatives more competitive, but won’t lower the costs of alternatives, except in the effect of mass market advantages, accelerated learning curves, and economic/technological evolution. Setting some complexities aside, costs increase. Supplies are reduced; if MV remains constant, prices increase, but whatever MV does, the actual quantities of goods and services are reduced. But including the externality that justified this policy, the total wealth (in some time-integrated way) increases relative to a ‘control’ economic trajectory. Including the externality in the PPC, the market at present is displaced from the optimal point and the tax shifts it toward that optimum; excluding the externality, we may assume that the market is to some extent near the optimal point now on the PPC (except for the foaming bubble-wrap and some of the less sensible government actions that tends to keep a realistic market away from the PPC and cause it to wobble around, etc.), and the tax will drive the market farther away from the optimal point, reducing the wealth. However, if the PPC is relatively flat, then the market can shift a large amount with little reduction in total wealth. If the PPC is strongly curved (and convex), then the market can only shift a little before total wealth falls off a lot. And this constrains the market response to a climate/acidification/pollution tax – the same tax will push the market a much shorter distance if the PPC is convex with very strong curvature, and assuming the tax is appropriately calculated, this is the best thing, as it would minimize the combination of reduced wealth absent externalities plus the costs of externalities. If the externality is very large and the PPC is convex over a wide expanse with strong curvature, then we’re basically screwed, but we’ll still be less screwed with a good climate policy, etc, then we’ll be if we ignore the problem. On the other hand, the PPC could only be convex for short time periods, and longer-time horizons (allowing for shifting investment patterns) would reveal some concavity that actually increases total wealth over time as a result of the tax, even without counting the decrease in externality costs. (PS what if the PPC has some more complex topology and intersects itself or has multiple enclosed surfaces…?)

    Of course, it will also help if the imperfections of a real market could be lessened with some appropriate public actions, or if some of the less sensible government policies (think agriculture) were changed (ie bringing the market closer to the PPC limit and closer to the optimal point).

  33. 1383
    Hugh Laue says:

    #1379 SecularAnimist, “I would say that someone who studies the primary literature of either parapsychology or climate science with an open mind, and an appreciation of what he or she does NOT “already know”, and makes a serious effort to understand the principles and research methods involved in that field of inquiry, and to impartially evaluate the results of research, has used the “right method”, regardless of what conclusions they reach.”
    Spot on. I think you hit a nerve somewhere but those that got so excited about it refuse to recognise their own blind spots and unexamined predjudices. After all, science is an ideology with conventions and what it can say about “reality” is limited by the constraints of that ideology.
    It’s actually quite naive to think that science describes or explains “reality” as “it really is”.
    Oh one other thing, one doesn’t have to understand the science of a patentable discovery to patent it and potentially create a successful business using it.
    So does everyone agree that anything that’s not directly to do with climate science is OT, including carbon sequestration, coal vs nuclear vs wind vs whatever?
    But we could discuss the tools? Like statistics? Like might their be any possibility that statistical methods used in parapsychology research to detect very small (but statistically significant effects) might be useful in climate science to separate natural variations from the forcing trend? Unlikely – just emphasising the point.

  34. 1384
    David B. Benson says:

    Hugh Laue (1383) — Here is a study with a very fine use of statistics: Tol, R.S.J. and A.F. de Vos (1998), ‘A Bayesian Statistical Analysis of the Enhanced Greenhouse Effect’, Climatic Change, 38, 87-112. Without the use of any climate model (as that term is usually understood), Tol & de Vos are able to establish some separations of the form which is of interest to you.

    Modern statistics can be viewed as fairly independent of the application area.

  35. 1385

    HL 1383: Like might their be any possibility that statistical methods used in parapsychology research to detect very small (but statistically significant effects) might be useful in climate science to separate natural variations from the forcing trend?

    BPL: Possible but doubtful. Psi studies have a long, monotonous history of making amazing claims about odds that inevitably turn out to have been figured wrong. J.B. Rhine at Duke University (Raleigh-Durham NC) started it in the ’30s, and convinced people like Robert A. Heinlein, who kept referring to Rhine as having “proved” that psi existed. (Or maybe he was just trying to please John Campbell.) But when they looked at Rhine’s work more carefully, they found that he repeatedly indulged in “the enumeration of favorable circumstances.” Controls were laughably inadequate. Someone who scored low in a test might have scored with a higher correlation on the previous answer (“postcognition”) or the succeeding answer (“precognition”). There were so many ways to win winning was inevitable, but the combinatorial calculations invariably left out most of the possible successes, thus giving extraordinary odds.

    I probably don’t have to remind you what happened with Uri Geller. Or Taylor’s “Superminds.” The problem with parapsychology is that this just keeps happening, over and over and over again. I started out a believer myself, but after decades of one spectacular finding after another turning out to be useless, I’ve stopped digging for the pony. Climate science, by way of contrast, does NOT come up with one “cold fusion” after another; it makes testable predictions that have repeatedly been confirmed by the evidence. Big difference.

  36. 1386
    Steve Fish says:

    RE- Comment by SecularAnimist — 4 May 2010 @ 1:46 PM, and many other posts:

    I repeat, the JREF (James Randi) prize awaits! A million dollars would fund a lot of psi research.

    Steve

  37. 1387
    John Eggert says:

    #1 Jim Galasyn you said “his *cough*ClimateAudit*cough* sponsors.”
    Last I saw, Climate Audit had a strongly worded post supporting Dr. Mann in the Virginia imbroglio.

  38. 1388
    Completely Fed Up says:

    ”Spot on. I think you hit a nerve somewhere but those that got so excited about it refuse to recognise their own blind spots and unexamined predjudices”

    Or we’ve seen into the future and know it fails to prove itself.

  39. 1389
    Completely Fed Up says:

    ”Spot on. I think you hit a nerve somewhere but those that got so excited about it refuse to recognise their own blind spots and unexamined predjudices”

    Or we’ve seen into the future and know it fails to prove itself.

    Or is that not possible?

  40. 1390
    SecularAnimist says:

    Steve Fish wrote: “I repeat, the JREF (James Randi) prize awaits!”

    Oh, yes. “Randi the Magnificent”.

    I hear that “Lord” Monckton is offering a million dollar prize to any climate scientist who can prove that an individual extreme weather event is directly and specifically caused by anthropogenic global warming.

    And another million dollar prize to any climate scientist who can perform a simple, repeatable laboratory experiment that proves that CO2 is a “greenhouse gas” — an experiment, that is, that stage magician James Randi (hired by Monckton for the occasion) cannot duplicate using trickery (e.g. surreptitiously heating a vessel of gas rather than adding CO2), thereby “proving” that the climate scientist’s experiment is a “hoax”.

    Pseudo-Skepticism — It’s Fun! It’s Easy!

    I appreciate that the moderators have permitted this discussion.

    Again, my point is about the nature of skepticism, and what I have called “pseudo-skepticism” and others have called “pathological skepticism”.

    I have used psi an example, because, like climate science, it has been the target of an organized campaign of hostile pseudo-skepticism (of which James Randi is an example), and the rhetoric of that campaign has a striking resemblance to the rhetoric of the pseudo-skeptical campaign to discredit climate science.

    I have also used psi as an example precisely because it typically triggers a strong “skeptical” response from scientists, and thereby provides an opportunity for examination of the a priori beliefs and the sources of information that shape and inform “skepticism”.

    Do you approach the subject with an a priori belief that psi phenomena are “extraordinary” and therefore require an “extraordinary” standard of proof? Do you tend to think that not only parapsychology but psychology itself is a bit of a pseudoscience? Do you get most of your information about psi research from organized “skeptic” groups? Have you studied the primary literature, read a college parapsychology textbook, or the excellent books by Dean Radin and Lawrence LeShan? Do you think that Uri Geller or “The X-Files” have anything to do with real parapsychology research?

    As an exercise, can you translate the previous paragraph into a series of questions that you might ask a typical “climate skeptic” who posts here that AGW is pseudoscience and climate researchers are frauds who “manipulate their data” to create bogus results?

  41. 1391
    SecularAnimist says:

    Hugh Laue wrote: “… might their be any possibility that statistical methods used in parapsychology research to detect very small (but statistically significant effects) might be useful in climate science to separate natural variations from the forcing trend?”

    The statistical methods used in parapsychology research are the same methods that are used to address similar statistical questions (e.g. detecting small signals against a noisy background) in other fields of science.

    For more information I refer you to the web page of Professor Jessica Utts, at the Department of Statistics at the University of California, Irvine.

    No more about psi research from me. I thank the moderators for their indulgence.

  42. 1392
  43. 1393
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “I have used psi an example, because, like climate science, it has been the target of an organized campaign of hostile pseudo-skepticism”

    What then is the mechanism?

    CO2/temperature has a correlation that proves the causation.

    That lack of causation (unless it’s moved on since last I looked) is why the skepticism is not pseudo.

  44. 1394
    Steve Fish says:

    RE- Comment by SecularAnimist — 5 May 2010 @ 6:35 AM:

    Neither of your non sequiturs regarding Randi support your position. The prize awaits!

    Steve

  45. 1395
    SecularAnimist says:

    CFU wrote: “What then is the mechanism? CO2/temperature has a correlation that proves the causation. That lack of causation (unless it’s moved on since last I looked) is why the skepticism is not pseudo.”

    I call that the “we know everything” fallacy: since we already know everything, and we don’t know of any mechanism that could cause some phenomenon, therefore that phenomenon cannot exist, and any empirical evidence that it does must be rejected.

    The thing of it is, that we don’t know everything.

    In 1887 we didn’t know of any “mechanism” that could explain the Michelson–Morley experiment.

    We are fortunate that in the case of climate change, knowledge of the underlying mechanism long preceded empirical observation of anthropogenic global warming.

    Otherwise, lacking knowledge of the “greenhouse effect”, climate scientists would be struggling to make sense of scattered, anecdotal reports of “extraordinary” phenomena (excessive ice melt, extreme weather events, changes in the timing of flower blossoms), and the “extraordinary claim” that these seemingly unrelated, disparate events reflect some underlying phenomenon for which science could offer no idea of causation, let alone “extraordinary evidence”, would be subjected to the same objection you are making.

  46. 1396
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “I call that the “we know everything” fallacy:”

    I call that “no, we don’t have a causation”.

    If you don’t, then you don’t have a science.

    When you do, you may.

    The reason why “It’s Pirates” isn’t a scientific theory for Global Warming is because there is no causation.

    When you have a causation then we can start talking science.

    PS we do know something: you haven’t a causation. What you;ve managed to re-create is the denialist “we don’t know everything therefore we know nothing”. cf Sam’s “It could be something else causing the isotopic signature to change”. We didn’t consider Sam’s theory scientific. Yet we aren’t saying “we know everything” when we tell Sam.

    Are we.

  47. 1397
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “In 1887 we didn’t know of any “mechanism” that could explain the Michelson–Morley experiment.”

    Uh, the experiment wasn’t one that needed a mechanism. It was an experiment to test the causation theory of light as a vibration in the medium of the aether.

    It wasn’t an experiment nobody could understand how it happened. It was a scientific experiment to test the scientific theory of the aether.

    Causation: light is a vibration in the aether.
    Correlation: light should have different speeds in the direction of the earth’s travel through that medium.

  48. 1398
    SecularAnimist says:

    CFU wrote: “If you don’t [have a known causation], then you don’t have a science.

    It appears you are saying that investigation of any phenomenon whose “causation” is not already known, is by definition not science. Do I understand you correctly?

  49. 1399
    Jim Galasyn says:

    More annoyance for Michael Mann: Virginia Attorney General joins witch hunt against climate scientist

    Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is demanding that the University of Virginia turn over a broad range of documents from a former professor to determine whether he defrauded taxpayers as he sought grants for global-warming research. …

  50. 1400
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “It appears you are saying that investigation of any phenomenon whose “causation” is not already known,”

    Strawman.

    you have to have a causation. It doesn’t have to be RIGHT, just has to exist.

    Then you can infer what the result of that causation would be.

    This is called “creating a testable hypothesis” and is quite a necessary part of actual science. Without that, you’re just making up “I dunno. Could be something else” stories.

    Then, with your causation and an experiment to test it, you check to see if the universe does work (to some extent) that way.

    If your experiment fails, you need either to modify the experiment, or modify or eve drop your causation.

    Just like when someone said “I wonder if light really DOES travel as a wave in the aether” and then Michelson and Moreley thought “well, if it does, then we have a velocity THROUGH that medium that isn’t the same in all directions. Therefore we should see a difference in the speed of light”.

    Earlier experiments to test couldn’t discern the difference if light traveled very fast. So Michelson and Morely modified their experiment and used interference.

    It turned out, though someone had a causation for light transmission (vibrations in the aether), the universe didn’t agree there was an aether.

    So there was a causation and that led to an experiment to test (which is the old meaning of the word “prove”, without which “the exception proves the rule” would be ridiculous: the exception shows the rule false) and that led to a refutation of the theory of the aether.

    This is science.