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Posts Tagged ‘History’

Here’s Why Mann Is So Bothered About His “Enemies”

2012/03/13 4 comments

Much of the contents of [Mann’s] book is old news“, according to Peter Gleick. In fact, an entire day spent at a website owned by somebody who interviewed the Man, has turned out nothing more than statements accompanied by “that’s nothing new” and “for those buried in the intellectual wastes of the Murdoch media – it will be brand new territory“.

IOW the general consensus appears to be that there is nothing in Mann’s book that has not already been mentioned, described or referred to somewhere on the web (and, I suspect, in the Climategate emails). Somebody tried to make the point that, according to agiographers, Mann’s book contains enough “to spark a dozen Master’s theses“. But that is not the point.

The point is, what would one find in Mann’s book that is nowhere else? Who knows…an insight, a revealing detail, whatever, anything as long as it is new. There has to be a reason to buy and then read the book, right?

According to Mann’s own supporters, the answers to those questions are still “nothing” and “none”. Well, no wonder Mann is ever so bothered about his enemies…with friends like Mann’s, no one needs enemies!

Nothing New About Fudging – Mass Delusions Among Scientists

2012/02/18 2 comments

I’m sure nowadays the NYT would not even mention such a book as Alexander Kohn’s “FALSE PROPHETS“, if it said anything about climate science:

BOOKS OF THE TIMES
By John Gross
Published: December 30, 1986

[…] Deceptions as blatant as this are -as far as anyone can tell – rare in the annals of science, but they represent only one end of a broad spectrum of possible scientific cheating. At the other extreme are errors that are at least partly the product of wishful thinking or a failure to guard against bias; in between come numerous gradations of what the Victorian scientist Charles Babbage classified as ”trimming” and ”cooking” (manipulating the data, suppressing inconvenient facts), along with plagiarism, making bogus claims about the probable course of research and the more subtle varieties of Babbage’s third category of misconduct, outright ”forging.”

[…] here are errors, as Mr. Kohn says, that ”are nothing to be ashamed of,” and he begins by considering some examples – in particular, those cases of collective error where a scientist’s initial mistake has been taken up and repeated by other scientists until it assumes the proportions of a mass delusion.

During the 1920’s and 1930’s, for instance, some 500 publications in reputable quarters were devoted to the phenomenon of ”mitogenetic rays” – ultraviolet rays that were erroneously thought to be emitted by plant or animal cells while they were dividing. Mr. Kohn observes that ”mythogenetic rays” might have been a better name; but he also tries to account for what it was that predisposed so many scientists to believe in them, and in subsequent mirages such as ”polywater” (a supposedly anomalous form of water – one eminent authority, J. D. Bernal, referred to it as ”the most important physical chemical discovery of the century”) and ”scotophobin” (a substance said to induce fear of darkness in rats). […]

As I already said, this stuff should be mandatory reading in all science schools.

The First Ever Climate Change Reporter (And Skeptic)

2012/02/09 2 comments

Who was the first one to write about climate change? For a while I thought I had found the most ancient reference in world literature: Lorenzo Magalotti in 1683 (referred to by Giacomo Leopardi in 1832)

[One and a half centuries ago Magalotti wrote] in the Family Letters: “It is certain that seasons’ natural order is worsening. Here in Italy it is common saying and lamentation that the half-seasons have disappeared; and in this confusion, it’s without doubt that the cold is advancing. I have heard my father that in his youth, in Rome, on the morning of Easter Sunday, everybody would change into summer clothes. Nowadays whoever can afford not to sell his shirt, I can tell you he’s very careful not to abandon any winter piece of clothing”. This is what Magalotti wrote in 1683.

Then Tony Brown and WUWT found something even more remote: Saint “Cyrian” (actually, Saint Cyprian) from around 250AD

The world has grown old and does not remain in its former vigour. It bears witness to its own decline. The rainfall and the suns warmth are both diminishing. The metals are nearly exhausted the husbandman is failing in his fields. Springs which once gushed forth liberally now barely give a trickle of water.’

I can happily report we can push the date a couple of centuries further back, by referring to “De re rustica” (“Agriculture“) by Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella (around AD40-50). From Book 1, 1:4-5:

[…] I have found that many authorities now worthy of remembrance were convinced that with the long wasting of the ages, weather and climate undergo a change; and that among them the most learned professional astronomer, Hipparchus, has put it on record that the time will come when the poles will change position, a statement to which Saserna, no mean authority on husbandry, seems to have given credence. For in that book on agriculture which he has left behind he concludes that the position of the heavens had changed from this evidence: that regions which formerly, because of the unremitting severity of winter, could not safeguard any shoot of the vine or the olive planted in them, now that the earlier coldness has abated and the weather is becoming more clement, produce olive harvests and the vintages of Bacchus in the greatest abundance. But whether this theory be true or false, we must leave it to the writings on astronomy […]

Note how little has changed, with Authorities convinced the climate is changing, and the unconvinced agriculture expert…

(h/t Fabio Spina and Climatemonitor.it – Google English translation)

Humans Are Not Vermin

2012/01/23 5 comments

Letter sent to the IHT-

Dear Editors

So you’ve finally realized there’s a set of simple innovations that could save the lives of millions right now, help the environment and perhaps even slow down global warming (see John Tierney’s “A renegade climate idea that could work“, IHT, Jan 18, 2012).

The fact that those actions have been neglected thus far because of lack of “glamour” and an obsession with cutting carbon dioxide emissions tells everything one needs to know about the inhumanity sadly intrinsic to many environmental activist organizations.

Humans are not vermin. Children dying as we speak because of black carbon filling their lungs in windowless huts are not trade-offs to sacrifice in a fight to convince the world to use fewer SUVs.

Prof Roger Pielke Jr’s “iron law of climate policy” says CO2 emission cuts policies always lose against economic growth pushes. Such a rule ought to be expanded : because we’re humans, and we should remember our humanity. Therefore policies that save human lives have to take precedence over attempts at defining global environment-related treaties. Always.

Peter Gleick, Astroturfer?

2012/01/17 2 comments

UPDATE: For those interested in abrupt climate changes of the past

I recently surmised Peter Gleick be an astroturfer trained to make greens look less than…bright. This article would be compatible with that hypothesis, as the author shows no grasp of the history of climate, including what are known as Younger Dryas and the PETM.

It should also be obvious to all that the longer we look in the past, the lower our ability will be to discern one decade from another, and then one century from another. The climate might as well have changed dramatically every year a million years ago, still the paleo traces will only show some kind of long-term average of it.

We cannot seriously compare contemporary records with those of the past without considering that. It would be like saying more things happen now than in the Middle Ages just because more people write now than in the Middle Ages.

The continuous mentioning of the fabulously flawed 97% figure (it’s 97% of 77 out of 1,372) is just the cherry on the cake. Is Exxon funding the Pacific Institute?

The Beginning Of The End

2011/12/13 19 comments

I have a confession to make…it ain’t much fun to talk climate change at a time where AGW and especially Catastrophic AGW are taking blows left, right and center. So in order to keep this blog lukewarm, here’s a heartful “thanks!” to New Scientist for providing the context for planetary temperatures so far:

Around 500 million years of Earth temperature

Around 500 million years of Earth temperature

And yes, our current climate WARMING catastrophe is at the bottom right.

A Truly Climategate Pathetic Paper

2011/11/22 8 comments

<3373> Bradley:

I’m sure you agree–the Mann/Jones GRL paper was truly pathetic and should never have been published. I don’t want to be associated with that 2000 year “reconstruction”.

And here it is: “Global surface temperatures over the past two millennia” aka “Mann, M. E., and P. D. Jones, Global surface temperatures over the past two millennia, Geophys. Res. Lett., 30(15), 1820, doi:10.1029/2003GL017814, 2003.”

We present reconstructions of Northern and Southern Hemisphere mean surface temperature over the past two millennia based on high-resolution ‘proxy’ temperature data which retain millennial-scale variability. These reconstructions indicate that late 20th century warmth is unprecedented for at least roughly the past two millennia for the Northern Hemisphere. Conclusions for the Southern Hemisphere and global mean temperature are limited by the sparseness of available proxy data in the Southern Hemisphere at present.

[…]

Reconstructions of hemispheric mean temperatures over roughly the past two millennia employing proxy surface temperature data networks with sufficient spatial and seasonal sampling, temporal resolution, and retention of millennial-scale variance, support previous conclusions with regard to the anomalous nature of late 20th century temperature at least about two millennia back in time for the Northern Hemisphere. To the extent that a ‘Medieval’ interval of moderately warmer conditions can be defined from about AD 800– 1400, any hemispheric warmth during that interval is dwarfed in magnitude by late 20th century warmth. The sparseness of the available proxy data in the Southern Hemisphere lead to less definitive conclusions for the SH or global mean temperature at present.

QED.

Orwell Explains Simon Singh (And Other Intellectual Bankruptcies)

2011/11/13 3 comments

It’s been a source of constant surprise the fact that Simon Singh, “a British author who has specialised in writing about mathematical and scientific topics in an accessible manner” would be willing to tell Wired wholly antiscientific statements such as in response to a question “How are we supposed to know what’s true?“:

Don’t come up with a view, find everybody who agrees with it, and then say, “Look at this, I must be right.” Start off by saying, “Who do I trust?” On global warming, for example, I happen to trust climate experts, world academies of science, Nobel laureates, and certain science journalists. You have to decide who you trust before you decide what to believe.

Throwing oneself into the hands of the experts? That’s a total abdication from reason, an open-armed welcome to complete foolishness as a tool for scientific debate, and a justification for chiropractors if they had any working brain cell left. It’s the “death of knowledge“, as pointed out by Karl Popper in “The Myth of Framework” (already mentioned here by Nicholas Hallam Mar 31, 2011 at 2:43 PM):

[…] in my view, the appeal to the authority of experts should be neither excused nor defended. It should, on the contrary, be recognized for what it is – an intellectual fashion – and it should be attacked by a frank acknowledgement of how little we know, and how much that little is due to people who have worked in many fields at the same time. And it should also be attacked by the recognition that the orthodoxy produced by intellectual fashions, specialization, and the appeal to authorities is the death of knowledge, and that the growth of knowledge depends entirely upon disagreement

Singh repeated the same foolish argument at the Spectator “Global Warming Hysteria” debate(London, March 29 2011), as reported by the Bish:

Simon Singh’s presentation was memorable, but unfortunately mostly for the wrong reasons. He set up what he called a credibility spectrum, with scientists and academies on one side and sceptics on the other and called on us to trust the establishment on the climate change issue. His whole presentation, while outstanding in terms of slick delivery, was an intellectual void, amounting to little more than ten minutes of argument from authority, a point later made by Graham Stringer. It struck me as a little ambitious to even try this sort of fallacious approach to an audience that was likely to be both hostile and well informed on climate science itself. As catcalls of “what about the hockey stick?” rang out, it was clear that many people knew exactly what has been happening. Asking these same people to trust the word of the scientists struck me as a foolish mistake.

It’s a point made also by Fraser Nelson:

the argument “trust the experts” is becoming less persuasive as the information revolution progresses. Hierarchies are being flattened in every walk of life, and this includes intellectual hierarchies. As Mark Penn says, elites are more impressionable than the masses — so more likely to be persuaded by a scientific consensus. The public want to be persuaded, not told that they should believe the Clever People.

Fraser goes on to describe Singh’s foolishness number two, the complete misunderstanding of the debating point:

Simon Singh […] seems to be anxious to have a ding-dong with someone who doesn’t think the planet is warming and that mankind is, at least in part, responsible. I’m afraid I can’t help. My problem is with the political response to the science.

As for foolishness number 3, well, nothing better than having Singh write a web article about global warming showing zero-to-nothing knowledge of the topic beyond a quick reading of the IPCC and an insane trusting of Skeptical Science.

It’s a catalogue of offenses against thoughthood (sadly, same applies to others who should know better, such as Phil Plait and Bill Nye), a completely irrational behaviour that had been left unexplained. Until now. Note in fact how during the debate, Singh had some sort of slip of the tongue, saying that “the smart money was in Global Warming“, fully justifying James Delingpole’s rebuttal:

Unless Singh can raise his game and actually engage with the argument rather than bullying his opponents with the help of Sleb Twitter pals and his Ipse Dixit logical fallacies, I think we all know who the real muppet is.

However, if we look at it from a different point of view, it had all been described by George Orwell in “James Burnham and the Managerial Revolution” (my emphasis – there’s more to it but I’ll leave that to a different blog):

Power worship blurs political judgement because it leads, almost unavoidably, to the belief that present trends will continue. Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible. […] Within the space of five years Burnham foretold the domination of Russia by Germany and of Germany by Russia. In each case he was obeying the same instinct: the instinct to bow down before the conqueror of the moment, to accept the existing trend as irreversible.

There we have poor Simon Singh then, simply continuing an established tradition among intellectuals. He believes that the pro-AGW lobby is winning, that the IPCC and the Skeptical Science’s of this world are where the “smart money” is: therefore, he “decides” to “trust” them, “decides” to “believe” in them (note the mixing up of science and faith), even roam the world to proclaim his servile, antiscientific, unreasonable stance on the topic.

Just wait until the climate wind changes then, and in 2021 Singh will be out presenting a new book on “Why people wrongly believed in catastrophic climate change“.

AD 1764-1791: The First Climate Change and Geoengineering Acts

2011/10/08 5 comments

Have environmentalism and climate change fear always been based on an unproven ideology full of hate against humanity and its material progress?

Yes.

Introducing the (fourth?) climate change and geoengineering act: the Kings Hill Forest Act, “passed in 1791 on St. Vincent, […] setting up a “rain reserve”in an upland part of the island“:

 The Kings Hill Forest Act passed on St Vincent in 1791 was a remarkable piece of legislation. Above all, it was based on a novel climatic theory, that deforestation might cause rainfall decline. The objective of the Act was to “appropriate for the benefit of the neighbourhood the Hill …….and for enclosing the same and preserving the timber and other trees growing thereon in order to attract rain”. The fact that the Act was highly innovative was clearly recognised at the time. Governor James Seton commented that the Act is “of an unusual and extraordinary character”, not least in the powers which the state arrogated to itself to control land and to impose penalties for its misuse. In the language of today the Act thus conceived of two kinds of sustainability, at a local level, in terms of timber supply; and in a much broader climatic sense. It thus enshrined in legislation a highly sophisticated set of principles and was, in short, based on ‘scientific’ theory rather than on social structures or assumptions.

(more details about the Kings Hill Forest Act – fascinatingly, the actual text is very likely to mention clouds too, resulting in the wording “for the purpose of attracting clouds and rain”)

Environment worries? Check. Impending climate catastrophe caused by human greed? Check. Evil deforestation? Check. Strong-armed governmental intervention? Check. And yhe idea was not new. Already in Tobago (1764), Barbados and Dominica (1765) local authorities had been busying themselves in planting trees in order to get more rains:

an ordinance was passed in 1764 designating the mountainous part of Tobago a protected forest, “reserved in wood for rains.”This protected forest still exists within its original boundaries. The legislation that created it marked a critical watershed in the history of environmental concern, since it applied a universal scientific theory about earth-atmosphere processes (since shown to be substantially correct) to a local environment. It was thus the forerunner to all subsequent national and international attempts to control rainfall and climate change. The 1764 Tobago ordinance specifically recognized the need to restrict profits to sustain an environment in the long term. Moreover, the mechanisms used to set up forest reserves under the ordinance justified the alienation (in the face of much local litigation) of large tracts of private plantation land to colonial state control and implied a permanent role for the state, rather than the individual, in conserving forests and the atmosphere. In 1765, identical ordinances were applied to Barbados and Dominica.

Also in Mauritius (1769):

In a law of 1769, called the Reglement Economique, and in later laws passed after Poivre had left the island in 1772, an extensive system of forest reservations and riverside reservations was established in Mauritius, on the basis both of climatic arguments to protect the rainfall and to provide a sustainable timber supply

Pierre Poivre, Commissaire-Intendant of Mauritius from 1766, is in fact a key person in this story (that can be traced back to “the pupil of Isaac Newton“):

Pierre Poivre had already been extensively involved in attempts to transfer spice trees from the Dutch East Indies to Mauritius. In the course of trying to develop these and other objectives Poivre set up what was effectively a physiocratic state on the island. However, partly as a result of his experiments in plant transfer Poivre was already very interested in soil conditions and the effects of deforestation on moisture and local climate. He had developed these ideas in Lyons in the context of agricultural society meetings during the 1750s and in a paper written in 1763 made direct reference to what he thought were now well-established connections between deforestation and rainfall change. The provenance of these notions is not clear and further research would be needed to establish the source of Poivre’s very definitive desiccationist convictions. But it seems likely that the main source of inspiration for Poivre’s climate thinking came from the arboricultural handbooks written by his contemporary, Duhamel de Monceau. De Monceau, an anglophile, had in turn been very much influenced by the thinking of Stephen Hales, the pupil of Isaac Newton and the discover of the principle of transpiration. A Newtonian linking of trees and atmosphere was thus essential to early environmentalism.

Stephen Hales of 1677-1761, of course. There is another possibly complementary reason behind Poivre’s efforts though: the arrival in Mauritius in 1768 of botanist Jacques Henri Bernardine de Saint Pierre, later author of Paul and Virginie (1787) and clearly influenced by the thoughts of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. And what did Rousseau write in Emile: or, On Education?

Everything is good as it leaves the hands of the author of things, everything degenerates in the hands of man. He forces one soil to nourish the products of another, one tree to bear the fruits of another. He mixes and confuses the climates, the elements, the seasons. He mutilates his dog, his horse, his slave. He turns everything upside down, he disfigures everything, he loves deformities, monsters. He wants nothing as nature made it, not even man himself. For him man must be trained like a saddle- horse; he must be shaped according to the fashion, like trees in his garden.

There we go then: climate and geoengineering legislation officially based on science, but on a “science” in turn based on activism takings its inspiration from the science-free humanity- and material-progress-hating thoughts of a distant philosopher (Rousseau).

Nothing new under the sun. Science-based policy, it ain’t.

(h/t Fabio Spina and ClimateMonitor.it)

Schechtman’s Lessons

2011/10/05 5 comments

From Haaretz, from an article published a full six months before the Nobel Prize was awarded to Dan Schechtman, some climate-relevant findings. In no particular order:

  1. “Unchallengeable basic tenets” must be considered as transient in any scientific field
  2. Any scientific field that is considered “closed”, “solid”, “total” is ripe for a revolution that will still be burning decades later
  3. New discoveries are surrounded by suspicion and ridicule, accompanied by outright rationalized dismissals
  4. It doesn’t matter if you can show people your discovery. It doesn’t matter if they can replicate your discovery in their own lab. Many will still refuse to believe it. We have not moved an inch since the times of Galileo and telescope-denier Cesare Cremonini
  5. Many of them will change their mind only if the discovery is demonstrated using their old techniques
  6. Scientists-discoverers don’t keep their techniques secret
  7. Many discoveries are observed for many years, before somebody realizes there is a new discovery to be made of those observations
  8. Scientists-discoverers are worried about losing their job because of their discovery
  9. And rightly so
  10. They are even worried of being unable to find any job because of their discovery
  11. You need at least two Professors to support the article describing the discovery, before it passes so-called “peer” review
  12. The famous, influential, powerful people invited to deliver the keynote addresses at scientific conferences, they are very likely wrong on any new topic
  13. We have no idea how many Schechtman’s will forever remain unknown, because they didn’t have the luck and the guts to persevere the way Shechtman did

And now for the excerpts:

[…] Since the birth of modern crystallography in 1912, when x-rays were diffracted from a crystal for the first time, until that moment 70 years later, this branch of science had relied on an unchallengeable basic tenet […]

The scientists concluded that there can be no pentagonal symmetry in crystals, since they cannot create periodic order – as anyone who has tried to cover a bathroom floor with five-sided tiles knows. In countless observations over many decades, crystallographers indeed saw only geometric crystals, all of them possessing rotational symmetry.

But on that April day in 1982, when Shechtman looked at the pattern of points created by the crystal of the alloy he had prepared in the lab from aluminum and manganese, he saw a structure that contradicted both rules: the 10 points that appeared through the microscope attested to the existence of pentagonal symmetry; and the immediate conclusion was that the crystal did not possess a periodic structure. Shechtman had discovered a new world, in which there are solid crystals, but the known order was gone. […]

Within days, his peculiar ideas generated suspicion and ridicule, to which he would be subjected for some time […]

“I told everyone who was ready to listen that I had material with pentagonal symmetry. People just laughed at me,” […]

In the months that followed, he tried to persuade his colleagues in the lab that what they were looking at was a previously unknown crystal. But in vain. “I knew my observations were in order. I couldn’t explain the phenomenon, but I knew it was material that no one had seen before me, impossible material according to the laws of crystallography,” he says […]

One day, the administrative director of his research group approached him. “He gave a sheepish smile, placed a textbook on my desk and said, ‘Please read what’s written here.’ I told him that I taught my students from the book, but that I also knew that we’re dealing with something that exceeded the book’s understanding,” Shechtman says. The director returned 24 hours later and asked him to leave the research group, because he was “bringing disgrace” on the members. […]

the researchers at the institute were not able to check the discovery for themselves. Many of them did not know how to work with an electron microscope, which is the most appropriate tool for identifying rotational symmetries in small crystals. Moreover, he notes, “They were not really interested in dealing with it.”

Shechtman also forwarded the findings to a friend, who was about to go on a scientific tour. When the friend returned, Shechtman relates, he brought an array of off-the-wall explanations for the 10 microscopic points, gleaned from colleagues. None of them took seriously the possibility that it was a case of pentagonal symmetry. […]

only one person was ready to listen in earnest: Prof. Ilan Blech […] Shechtman now felt sufficiently confident to publish an article on the subject. Until then, he says, “I was afraid to publish alone, in case it turned out to be nonsense.” […]

Shechtman turned to the senior scientist John Cahn, who had invited him to work in the institute. Cahn initially had reservations, but afterward worked with Shechtman and proposed that they co-author an article. For the mathematical aspects he added a French crystallographer, Denis Gratias, and the three wrote an article that was a concise, refined version of the first article. They added Ilan Blech’s name as a fourth author and sent the article to Physical Review Letters, which also deals with physics. The addition of Cahn’s name turned out to be a winning move: the article appeared in November 1984, within a few weeks of its submission […]

To get researchers to believe him, Shechtman described exactly how to prepare the alloy. “There are people who keep the mode of preparation secret, but I wanted every researcher who had an appropriate laboratory to be able to prepare the material and examine it under an electron microscope within a few days,” […]

despite the success in repeating the experiment in several labs, only a few scientists accepted the thesis of pentagonal symmetry. Leading scientists rejected Shechtman’s conclusions, and towering above all of them was Linus Pauling […]

“There are tens of thousands of chemists in the United States, and Pauling was their star,” Shechtman notes. “He would open the conferences of the American Chemical Society, and quasiperiodic crystals were always his topic. I attended one of the conferences, at Stanford. Thousands of people were there, and he attacked me. He would stand on those platforms and declare, ‘Danny Shechtman is talking nonsense. There is no such thing as quasicrystals, only quasi-scientists.’ […]

In the first years following the discovery, Shechtman’s support came primarily from physicists and mathematicians. But crystallographers had a serious problem with the findings: Shechtman had used an electron microscope, whereas their main tool was the x-ray. “It’s as though a mechanical engineer were to explain to a heart surgeon how to perform an operation,” Shechtman says. “From their point of view, I was not a crystallographer, because I had used a tool they considered imprecise and illegitimate.” […]

in 1987, friends of Shechtman’s from France and Japan succeeded in growing quasi-periodic crystals large enough for x-rays to repeat and verify what he had discovered with the electron microscope: the existence of pentagonal symmetry. […]

“In the forefront of science there is not much difference between religion and science,” Shechtman says. “People harbor beliefs. That’s what happens when people believe something religiously. The argument with Linus Pauling was almost theological.” […]

As his fear of not finding employment faded, Pauling’s assaults became a compliment for Shechtman. “I realized that if it’s Pauling against Shechtman, then at some level we are equals. […]

Prof. Shlomo Ben-Abraham, one of the first Israeli scientists to support the discovery, says, “Until Danny’s discovery, we thought the subject of crystal structure was completely closed. Today, nearly 30 years later, we know we have not even scratched the surface. […]

Prof. Ron Lifshitz, a physicist from Tel Aviv University, describes Shechtman’s discovery as “a scientific revolution that is still in going on.” Science, he says, must now answer questions that were once thought to be basic and closed, such as what a crystal is, alongside new questions, such as how the nonperiodic structure influences the qualities of those materials. […]

For decades, crystallography clung to a mistaken description of the physical world, which was presented as a solid, total truth. On the other hand, that same science was able to acknowledge its mistake and refute long-held basic assumptions within a relatively short time, once the theory was shown to be inconsistent with reality. Still, it was necessary to have someone who is capable of shouldering the revolution.

Prof. Ben-Abraham explains Shechtman’s strength: “The greatness of a discoverer lies in knowing what he has discovered. People encounter things and ignore them for one reason or another. I know of four documented cases in which people found this before Danny.” However, he notes, because all the books state that pentagonal symmetry is inconsistent with periodicity of crystals, the researchers ignored what they saw. […]

Proof That Venice Is Sinking And Not Sinking Due To Climate Change

  1. Venice is sinking (the city in Italy, that is)
  2. It is apparently sinking due to human activities (buildings, gas and water extraction, etc)
  3. However, were Venice not be where it is, it would not be sinking
  4. Venice is where it is because it was founded by escaping populations around 421AD
  5. The populations were escaping from invading Germans and Huns
  6. Germans and Huns were invading due to climate change

QED: Venice is sinking…due to climate change.

  1. Venice is not sinking
  2. It is not sinking because storm surges are expected to happen less often
  3. Such expectations are due to climate change.

QED: Venice is not sinking…due to climate change.

Next: why it is legal for the UK Government to collect VAT on fuel duties; how President Obama has started decreasing the Afghanistan war effort by sending in more troops; why banks too big to fail must be encouraged to get even bigger.

See: the world starts making some sense!

Have Things Changed Much From 1969?

Expert Says Arctic Ocean Will Soon Be an Open Sea; Catastrophic Shifts in Climate Feared if Change Occurs“. Yes, it’s 1969.

What else has changed?

Well, one thing is that at the time, Walter Sullivan of the New York Times could still afford to write “Other Specialists See No Thinning of Polar Ice Cap” in mid-size letters near the title. As for the rest:

  • Arctic sea ice cover is “vulnerable
  • An ice-free Arctic Ocean is presented as harbinger of European “deserts” with “great ice sheets…farther north
  • Focal point” in the research is “the use of giant computers to simulate the world’s weather patterns
  • Climatologists keep following the latest trends, wildly extrapolating them in the future. For example, there is a Soviet-American consensus among specialists around prediction of “continued cooling in step with an expected decline in sunspot activity through the nineteen-eighties“, after a “climate cooling during the last decade or two“. Likewise, “until recently there was a suspicion that the warming trend of the century preceding 1940 was a by-product of the industrial revolution” (yes, CO2 emissions)

However, there are other interesting details:

  • Sullivan presents as common knowledge ideas such as “progressive shrinkage of the Arctic pack ice over the last century
  • About one quarter of the Arctic pack melts each summer“…that would be very peculiar, since according to Cryosphere Today even in 1979 it was more like two thirds
  • Nortber Untersteiner is interviewed about a report of his in Naval Research Reviews showing that “the climatic trend in the Arctic has turned toward cooling
  • There is a mention of a 1893 Fridtjof Nansen report of “43 feet thick” Arctic pack, followed by others “indicating a steady thinning of the pack that, the data suggest, could vanish by 1970 or sooner“. These conclusions are not supported by “under-ice journeys of American nuclear submarines” (why don’t they use submarines nowadays, instead of clowning around for Catlin?)

Recycled Grandchildren Worries

Whilst reading recommended material by “Climate Crocks”‘ Peter Sinclair about the “record melt” SEEN in Greenland in 2010 (my main curiosity being collecting evidence that somebody somewhere has actually SEEN the “record melt“, rather than just modeled about it), I have found this little gem at the end of a 1939 NYT article (titled, needless to say, “True Winters Are Not What They Used To Be“):

Whether sleigh-bells will make winter-music for our grandchildren, let no man dare to forecast

Ever the green campaigner, Granddad Jim will be happy to know he has recycled his concerns from a past generation’s.

The Weather Is Really Changing (In 1953) (plus Attributions and CO2)

2011/01/16 1 comment

Yes it’s another old New York Times article, this time from July 12, 1953. Stories of unusual weather, retreating ice caps, extreme events (at the time it was tornadoes). Yada yada yada.

Couple of interesting details. Journalist Leonard Engel provides a list of past attributions to human activities:

Unusual weather  inevitably stirs up speculation as to the cause, in part, no doubt, because we like to talk about the weather anyway. And prominent event coincident with the exceptional weather is apt to be blamed. Heavy rains during World War I were popularly attributed to artillery bombardments in France. During the Twenties and Thirties it was fashionably to lay abnormal weather (along with other odd occurrences) to changes in the sunspot cycle. Today the popular villains  of freak weather are atom-bomb tests and the activities of rainmakers.

Engel mentions also greenhouse gases and in particular the concentration of CO2

In 1850 the air contained somewhat less than thirty parts of carbon dioxide per 1,000 parts of air. In the hundred years since, industrialized, urbanized man has poured unprecedented quantities of carbon dioxide out of home and factory chimneys […] As a result, there are now thirty-three parts of the gas per 1,000 in the atmosphere instead of thirty.

Assuming Engel was just victim of some conversion mistake, and he meant 330ppm, it is curious to note that the figure is somewhat off Keeling’s original 1955 value of 310ppm.

Build-Your-Own “Anthropogenic Global Something”

2011/01/09 7 comments

Commenter Alvaro of “After Mein Kampf, Mein Klima” Splattergate-era fame has just published another gem in Italian non-warmist site “Climate Monitor“. Its edited and expanded translation is published below as a way to help budding entrepreneurs to identify a niche “Anthropogenic Global Something” where to build their fortunes from.

(Please DO send 10% of the profits).

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Having learned the lessons of AGW, I wonder if we could emulate the process, starting from scratch though with the aim of finding (and funding) my own place in the sun.

  • First of all, we need a juicy topic, similar to Electrosmog, but not as easy to debunk
  • It also needs to be catchy whilst sounding good in news bites

How about something “magnetic …” – it sounds right and is already well received by the general public, as shown by the never-ending popularity of “magnetic bracelets“.

So, what interesting and “magnetic”? Two minutes spent on Google lead to this (by NASA, no less!), that can be summarily distorted as:

Red alert! The Earth’s magnetic field is no longer constant, indeed it seems that is weakening – and very few percent per century, much more than the changes induced by AGW! And if that field goes, the magnetosphere goes, ending life on earth …

CreatedIdentified the problem, there’s still two important details to care about:

  • We must figure out some “anthropogenic” cause, possibly associated to some kind of “guilt”. Otherwise, there goes the business opportunity
  • Some evil giant corporation has to be the at the root of the problem. This will increase the guilt factor and greatly help in the recruitment of unpaid volunteers

Consider now an old CRT computer monitor. It needs degaussing when it starts being troubled by nearby loudspeakers. That involves the use of of a bit of AC – just as in deleting old music and video tapes. Best of all, there is lots of man-made ACs around. Can you feel the Eureka moment too?

Over the last hundred years, ever since Westinghouse (the evil giant corporation) opted for AC (Tesla’s idea) instead of DC (Edison’s), we have built and then – alas – even synced a giant electricity grid all around our planet, based on AC at 50-60 Hz: a formidable “degaussing grid” of planetary scale!

Of course, this is not enough. Where’s the catastrophe?

  • A sobering message is in order, followed by suitably-placed apocalyptic predictions for decades in the future, in case of inaction

Here comes the message!

We are now painfully aware that we have been unwittingly tampering with Earth’s already-weak magnetic field, risking the wearing out of the magnetosphere. Compared to that, the ozone hole looks like child’s play. So if we do not act now, jetzt, ora, pronto, to stop Anthropogenic Global Degaussing (AGD) we will all fry in a radioactive holocaust, like microwaved mice, in a veritable ELE – Extinction Level Event, We’ll be following in the footsteps of the dinosaurs, in about thirty years’ time, according to accurate peer-reviewed computations.

For the AGD PERP (Precautionary Emergency Response Program) the plan is the following:

  • Take three TRIPs – Temporarily Redundant Important Politicians – and put them in charge of a sky-blue-badged global initiative to coordinate (a) an immediate and massive effort to communicate the seriousness of the AGD emergency, (b) the subsequent coercive-yet-negotiable mitigation initiatives of the impact of the world AC grid and (c) the final big effort to restore Earth’s magnetic field
  • Provide the motives, I mean, encourage large research institutions to align themselves with mainstream AGD in order to harmonize the overall funding for a massive research effort that will confirm the overriding urgency of the TRIPs’ plans
  • Prepare draft Wikipedia article to lay the foundation for a Nobel Prize

And here are a few ideas on what to tell people:

Global Degaussing is the most significant issue of our times, and too important for us to delay it any further. People tend to focus on the here and now. The problem is that, once global degaussing becomes something that most people can feel in the course of their daily lives, it will be too late to prevent much larger, potentially catastrophic changes.

All across the world, in every kind of environment and region known to man, increasingly dangerous degaussing patterns and devastating electric storms are abruptly putting an end to the long-running debate over whether or not magnetic change is real. Not only is it real, it’s here, and its effects are giving rise to a frighteningly new global phenomenon: the man-made natural disaster.

The warnings about global degaussing have been extremely clear for a long time. We are facing a global magnetic crisis. It is deepening. We are entering a period of consequences. Etc etc

Only remaining issue is how to deal with AGD deniers, those unable to listen to reason, and able instead mostly to sacrifice truth on the altar of profits yada yada yada…

Suggestions?

A Crock At “Climate Crocks”

2011/01/08 2 comments

It’s all nice and dandy for “Climate Denial Crock of the Week” to mention a video with Isaac Asimov talking of the “greenhouse effect” as the “most interesting” scientific effect of 1988 (why, isnt’t that the year of the staged Hansen visit to the US Congress). It’s a different thing to forget what else The Good Doctor had to say, about science and everything. For example:

Science is uncertain. Theories are subject to revision; observations are open to a variety of interpretations, and scientists quarrel amongst themselves. This is disillusioning for those untrained in the scientific method, who thus turn to the rigid certainty of the Bible instead. There is something comfortable about a view that allows for no deviation and that spares you the painful necessity of having to think.

There is more, all of it blatantly incompatible with the mindset of consensus-obsessed AGWers:

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ (I found it!) but ‘That’s funny …’

Clarke’s First Law – Corollary: When, however, the lay public rallies round an idea that is denounced by distinguished but elderly scientists and supports that idea with great fervor and emotion—the distinguished but elderly scientists are then, after all, probably right.

I believe in evidence. I believe in observation, measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers. I’ll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it. The wilder and more ridiculous something is, however, the firmer and more solid the evidence will have to be.

Inspect every piece of pseudoscience and you will find a security blanket, a thumb to suck, a skirt to hold. What does the scientist have to offer in exchange? Uncertainty! Insecurity!

Addendum to Skeptic’s Dictionary: Hidden Persuaders Of Anthropogenic Global Warming

2011/01/06 4 comments

(original here of course, with plenty of links to explore each dictionary entry below in depth)

(the text outside < blockquote > is (mostly) mine)

hidden persuaders: A term used by Geoffrey Dean and Ivan Kelly (2003) to describe affective, perceptual, and cognitive biases or illusions that lead to erroneous beliefs.

A NOTE TO THOSE OF AGW-BELIEVING ATTITUDE:

The hidden persuaders sometimes seem to affect people in proportion to their intelligence: the smarter one is the easier it is to develop false beliefs. There are several reasons for this: (1) the hidden persuaders affect everybody to some degree; (2) the smarter one is the easier it is to see patterns, fit data to a hypothesis, and draw inferences; (3) the smarter one is the easier it is to rationalize, i.e., explain away strong evidence contrary to one’s belief; and (4) smart people are often arrogant and incorrectly think that they cannot be deceived by others, the data, or themselves

And now for some examples:

 

ad hoc hypothesis: An ad hoc hypothesis is one created to explain away facts that seem to refute one’s belief or theory. Ad hoc hypotheses are common in paranormal research and in the work of pseudoscientists. It is always more reasonable to apply Occam’s razor than to offer speculative ad hoc hypotheses.

AGW example: The discovery that aerosols have cooled the Earth just when the Earth was cooling, miraculously declining their action exactly when the Earth was warming due to CO2 emissions.

AGW example: The discovery that heavy (winter) snow and cold temperatures are exactly caused by temperature increases

 

affect bias: Our judgment regarding the costs and benefits of items is often significantly influenced by a feeling evoked by pictures or words not directly relevant to the actual cost or benefit

AGW example: Justifying reduction in CO2 emissions by way of how “green” things could become, and civilization “sustainable” in “harmony” with nature.

 

apophenia: Apophenia is the spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness of unrelated phenomena. “The propensity to see connections between seemingly unrelated objects or ideas most closely links psychosis to creativity … apophenia and creativity may even be seen as two sides of the same coin”. In statistics, apophenia is called a Type I error, seeing patterns where none, in fact, exist.

AGW example: The propensity to see Anthropogenic Global Warming at work in each and every (bad) thing that happens anywhere on Earth, including in earthquakes

 

autokinetic effect: The autokinetic effect refers to perceiving a stationary point of light in the dark as moving

AGW example: The incredible inability of past and present temperature measures to record the actual values, leading to contemporary researchers having to continuously adjust the figures (lowering the old ones, increasing the new ones)

 

availability error: availability heuristic, determining probability “by the ease with which relevant examples come to mind” (Groopman 2007: p. 64) or “by the first thing that comes to mind” (Sutherland 1992: p. 11)

AGW example: The IPCC declaring in 2007 that tens of thousands of indicators were all compatible to global warming, even if the overwhelming majority of those indicators was about Europe alone

 

backfire effect: The “backfire effect” is a term coined by Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler to describe how some individuals when confronted with evidence that conflicts with their beliefs come to hold their original position even more strongly

AGW example: AGWers patting each other in the back about climate science remaining totally unscathed by the Climategate e-mails

 

change blindness: Change blindness is the failure to detect non-trivial changes in the visual field.

AGW example: The obsession with computing linear trends, making it impossible even to fathom the step-function behaviors (=”tipping points”) the very same AGWers like to talk about

 

Clever Hans phenomenon: A form of involuntary and unconscious cuing

AGW example: Journalist AGWers crowding RealClimate to know how long to count for

 

Clever Linda phenomenon: A form of involuntary and unconscious cuing

AGW example: Climate scientists writing to journalists making sure they conform, because fortunately, the prestige press doesn’t fall for this sort of stuff, right?

 

clustering illusion: The clustering illusion is the intuition that random events which occur in clusters are not really random events

AGW example: All the global village idiots that will tell the world how climate change is upon us, as shown by the year’s news, rather than by relying on properly conducted scientific research capable to isolate climate-change effects from others such as poverty

 

cognitive dissonance: Cognitive dissonance is a theory of human motivation that asserts that it is psychologically uncomfortable to hold contradictory cognitions. The theory is that dissonance, being unpleasant, motivates a person to change his cognition, attitude, or behavior. What distinguishes the chiropractor’s rationalization from the cult member’s is that the latter is based on pure faith and devotion to a guru or prophet, whereas the former is based on evidence from experience. Neither belief can be falsified because the believers won’t let them be falsified: Nothing can count against them. Those who base their beliefs on experience and what they take to be empirical or scientific evidence (e.g., astrologers, palm readers, mediums, psychics, the intelligent design folks, and the chiropractor) make a pretense of being willing to test their beliefs. They only bother to submit to a test of their ideas to get proof for others. That is why we refer to their beliefs as pseudosciences. We do not refer to the beliefs of cult members as pseudoscientific, but as faith-based irrationality. The chiropractors’ misguided belief is probably not due to worrying about their self-image or removing discomfort. It is more likely due to their being arrogant and incompetent thinkers, convinced by their experience that they “know” what’s going on, and probably assisted by communal reinforcement from the like-minded arrogant and incompetent thinkers they work with and are trained by. They’ve seen how AK works with their own eyes. They’ve demonstrated it many times. If anything makes them uncomfortable it might be that they can’t understand how the world can be so full of idiots who can’t see with their own eyes what they see!

AGW example: Thousands and thousands of words written by journalists, scientists and activists about anthropogenic global warming, and not one of them indicating what if anything could falsify…anthropogenic global warming

 

law of truly large numbers (coincidence): The law of truly large numbers says that with a large enough sample many odd coincidences are likely to happen.

AGW example: Romm scouring the planet’s press agencies to list all sorts of disasters that might somehow be connected to anthropogenic global warming

 

cold reading: Cold reading refers to a set of techniques used by professional manipulators to get a subject to behave in a certain way or to think that the cold reader has some sort of special ability that allows him to “mysteriously” know things about the subject

AGW example: The popularity of climate models’ ensembles among politicians looking for something to confirm they need to be voted for, and in the process getting convinced science can really tell us something about the climate of 2100

 

communal reinforcement: Communal reinforcement is the process by which a claim becomes a strong belief through repeated assertion by members of a community

AGW example: The tendency of warmist websites to censor dissenting comments away, leaving readers (believers) with the impression there is really a huge huge number of them, and just a handful of nasty skeptics

 

confabulation: A confabulation is a fantasy that has unconsciously emerged as a factual account in memory. A confabulation may be based partly on fact or be a complete construction of the imagination

AGW example: The decade-long fight to remove from collective memory the substantial agreement among scientists about global cooling (potentially, an ice age), a consensus that lasted at least between 1972 and 1975.

 

confirmation bias: Confirmation bias refers to a type of selective thinking whereby one tends to notice and to look for what confirms one’s beliefs, and to ignore, not look for, or undervalue the relevance of what contradicts one’s beliefs

AGW example: Briffa’s uncanny ability to avoid for years any mention of the misbehaving trees he had himself published a paper about, in the Yamal saga

 

file-drawer effect: The file-drawer effect refers to the practice of researchers filing away studies with negative outcomes. Negative outcome refers to finding nothing of statistical significance or causal consequence, not to finding that something affects us negatively. Negative outcome may also refer to finding something that is contrary to one’s earlier research or to what one expects

AGW example: Extreme lack of interest among prominent climate scientists to publish anything (not even an Op-Ed) about the “travesty” that was (is) their inability to explain why temperatures (actually, the averages of the global temperature anomaly) have not risen since 1998

 

Forer effect: The Forer effect refers to the tendency of people to rate sets of statements as highly accurate for them personally even though the statements could apply to many people

AGW example: The worldwide phenomenon that sees most Ministers and Prime Ministers announce that their own particular country is being affected by climate change at twice or more the planetary average

 

gambler’s fallacy: The gambler’s fallacy is the mistaken notion that the odds for something with a fixed probability increase or decrease depending upon recent occurrences

AGW example: Tamino’s (?) absurdist blog about the probability of having consecutive hot periods being astronomically low

 

hindsight bias: Hindsight bias is the tendency to construct one’s memory after the fact (or interpret the meaning of something said in the past) according to currently known facts and one’s current beliefs. In this way, one appears to make the past consistent with the present and more predictive or predictable than it actually was.

AGW example: The Met Office discovering in January how it had forecasted a cold December in October, as shown by a statement nobody did read, and nobody has read

AGW example: The silly notion that Anthropogenic Global Warming has been consensually recognized in the 1970’s or even earlier

 

inattentional blindness: Inattentional blindness is an inability to perceive something that is within one’s direct perceptual field because one is attending to something else

AGW example: Lancet publishing an incredibly misleading Climate Change report with little mention of the huge difference in the number and type of deaths of people during cold and warm snaps

AGW example: The complete lack of interest about linking the generalized Northern Hemispheric cold and the silent Sun

 

magical thinking: According to anthropologist Dr. Phillips Stevens Jr., magical thinking involves several elements, including a belief in the interconnectedness of all things through forces and powers that transcend both physical and spiritual connections. Magical thinking invests special powers and forces in many things that are seen as symbol. One of the driving principles of magical thinking is the notion that things that resemble each other are causally connected in some way that defies scientific testing (the law of similarity)

AGW example: CO2’s mysterious ability to free the Arctic from the ice, and to increase the amount of ice in Antarctica, plus its long hand into anything and everything that ever happens and has bad consequences.

 

motivated reasoning: Motivated reasoning is confirmation bias taken to the next level. Motivated reasoning leads people to confirm what they already believe, while ignoring contrary data. But it also drives people to develop elaborate rationalizations to justify holding beliefs that logic and evidence have shown to be wrong

AGW example: The Anthropogenic Global Warming’s crowd supernatural swiftness in explaining every (bad) phenomenon as a consequence of human CO2 emissions

 

nonfalsifiability: Scientific theories not only explain empirical phenomena, they also predict empirical phenomena. One way we know a scientific theory is no good is that its predictions keep failing. Predictions can’t fail unless a theory is falsifiable. Some pseudoscientific [theories] can’t be falsified because they are consistent with every imaginable empirical state of affairs. Karl Popper noted that psychoanalytic theory, including Freud’s theory of the Oedipus complex, is pseudoscientific because they seem to explain everything and do not leave open the possibility of error. Even contradictory behaviors are appealed to in support of the theory.

AGW example: Thousands and thousands of words written by journalists, scientists and activists about anthropogenic global warming, and not one of them indicating what if anything could falsify…anthropogenic global warming

 

positive-outcome (publication) bias: Positive-outcome (or “publication”) bias is the tendency to publish research with a positive outcome more frequently than research with a negative outcome. Negative outcome refers to finding nothing of statistical significance or causal consequence, not to finding that something affects us negatively. Positive-outcome bias also refers to the tendency of the media to publish medical study stories with positive outcomes much more frequently than such stories with negative outcomes

AGW example: The amount of time some highly-functioning minds have spent to justify scientifically the reasons for the “hide the decline”

 

post hoc fallacy: The post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this therefore because of this) fallacy is based upon the mistaken notion that simply because one thing happens after another, the first event was a cause of the second event. Post hoc reasoning is the basis for many superstitions and erroneous beliefs

AGW example: The Anthropogenic Global Warming’s crowd supernatural completeness in explaining every (bad) phenomenon as a consequence of human CO2 emissions

 

pragmatic fallacy: The pragmatic fallacy is committed when one argues that something is true because it works and where ‘works’ means something like “I’m satisfied with it,” “I feel better,” “I find it beneficial, meaningful, or significant,” or “It explains things for me

AGW example: The inane request to publish via peer-review a scientific alternative to mainstream Anthropogenic Global Warming theory because “it works”. One doesn’t need to be a leader or a tailor to see if the Emperor is naked.

 

regressive fallacy: The regressive fallacy is the failure to take into account natural and inevitable fluctuations of things when ascribing causes to them

AGW example: The general agreement that natural variability doesn’t count much for Anthropogenic Global Warming, even if the very same people go on to claim temperatures have not increased in a decade because of natural variability

 

representativeness error: In judging items, we compare them to a prototype or representative idea and tend to see them as typical or atypical according to how they match up with our model. The problem with the representativeness heuristic is that what appears typical sometimes blinds you to possibilities that contradict the prototype

AGW example: The sterile obsession with studying climate science by climate models alone

 

retrospective falsification: D. H. Rawcliffe coined this term to refer to the process of telling a story that is factual to some extent, but which gets distorted and falsified over time by retelling it with embellishments

AGW example: The abuse of Arrhenius’ “greenhouse gas” works, with the first one continuously mentioned exactly as the second one gets forgotten, being a more sober rethinking of the original ideas

 

selection bias: Selection bias comes in two flavors: (1) self-selection of individuals to participate in an activity or survey, or as a subject in an experimental study; (2) selection of samples or studies by researchers to support a particular hypothesis

AGW example: Mann’s obviously irrelevant pick-and-choose of which series to use for the Hockey Stick

 

selective thinking: Selective thinking is the process whereby one selects out favorable evidence for remembrance and focus, while ignoring unfavorable evidence for a belief

AGW example: Any post at Skeptical Science, with its incredible list of peer-reviewed all-mutually-consistent scientific papers

 

self-deception: Self-deception is the process or fact of misleading ourselves to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid. Self-deception, in short, is a way we justify false beliefs to ourselves

AGW example: Connolley et al publishing an article about a “Myth” of global cooling consensus in the 1970’s despite providing themselves ample evidence to support the same “myth”

 

shoehorning: Shoehorning is the process of force-fitting some current affair into one’s personal, political, or religious agenda

AGW example: Also known as “decorating the Christmas tree”…at every climate negotiation for the UN, thousands of people try to add their pet project to the cause, including “forest protection, poverty alleviation, water equity, women’s and indigenous rights

 

subjective validation: Subjective validation is the process of validating words, initials, statements, or signs as accurate because one is able to find them personally meaningful and significant

AGW example: Anthropogenic Global Warming causing a (temporary?) shutdown in critical thinking among those worried about getting the world “greener”

 

sunk-cost fallacy: When one makes a hopeless investment, one sometimes reasons: I can’t stop now, otherwise what I’ve invested so far will be lost. This is true, of course, but irrelevant to whether one should continue to invest in the project. Everything one has invested is lost regardless. If there is no hope for success in the future from the investment, then the fact that one has already lost a bundle should lead one to the conclusion that the rational thing to do is to withdraw from the project

AGW example: The UN’s COP bandwagon, moving a lot of people a lot of times in a lot of different locations (but never in Moldova or North Korea, for some reason) even if everybody agrees it will never mean anything substantial

 

anecdotal (testimonial) evidence: Testimonials and vivid anecdotes are one of the most popular and convincing forms of evidence presented for beliefs in the supernatural, paranormal, and pseudoscientific

AGW example: Monbiot’s famous February floral musings brought to the world as evidence of anthropogenic global warmings, back when Februarys were still warm

 

Texas-sharpshooter fallacy: The Texas-sharpshooter fallacy is the name epidemiologists give to the clustering illusion. Politicians, lawyers and some scientists tend to isolate clusters of diseases from their context, thereby giving the illusion of a causal connection between some environmental factor and the disease. What appears to be statistically significant (i.e., not due to chance) is actually expected by the laws of chance

AGW example:Pretty much any Al Gore speech

 

wishful thinking: Wishful thinking is interpreting facts, reports, events, perceptions, etc., according to what one would like to be the case rather than according to the actual evidence

AGW example:Pretty much any warmist blog or statement

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Obviously there’s much better examples out there, so do send them across if you see any…

Even The Mahatma Would Be Surprised By AGW Activism

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, aka The Mahātmā, has uttered an incredible number of quotable phrases. One of them is definitely not applicable to the case of AGW, and can be written as the following four phases:

  1. First they ignore you, then
  2. They ridicule you, then
  3. They fight you, then
  4. You win

In one of the many miracles linked to Anthropogenic Global Warming (it’s going to be number 67), phases 1, 2 and 3 never happened, and from 1979 to 1988 to 1992 to 2007-1 and 2007-2 it’s been one victory after the other for Climate Change Belief.

Or so it appeared. But what if AGW is simply going the other way around? There are several indications that it’s now time for the “fight” (phase 3), from belligerent Republican Congressmen in the USA to Tory MEPs “coming out” against the “consensus”.

It would be truly ironic if official AGW ridicule would be next (eg, at COP-17 in Durban, South Africa 2011). Thereafter, nobody will care about it anymore….

Global Warming As Imperial Surrogate For The United Kingdom

2010/12/03 7 comments

I have just sent my local MP a slightly-edited version of Clive Francis’ “£400 billion” letter. (h/t Malcolm Shykles).

The UK governments’ obsession with AGW had actually been until now a bit of a puzzle really, as it covers the entire spectrum of Westminster’s opinions, apart from a few lonely voices. A bunch of fools they might be alright, but carefully selected to be in the same place at the same time, that’s unlikely.

Then I read a passage from Carl Sagan’s “The Demon-Haunted World“, and everything became clear:

The last scientifically literate President may have been Thomas Jefferson…Britain had such a Prime Minister in Margaret Thatcher. Her early studies in chemistry, in part under the tutelage of Nobel Laureate Dorothy Hodgkins, were key to the U.K.’s strong and successful advocacy that ozone-depleting CFCs be banned worldwide.

Never mind if promising to achieve an impossible target by spending an incredible amount of money makes sense or doesn’t. What matters for successive British governments really _is_ to be able to “show leadership”, i.e. be at the head of the bandwagon. Just like Mrs Thatcher was able to do: a great surrogate for a lost empire, if you ask me.

In other news: when will Mrs Thatcher or one of her scientifically-illiterate male clones finally stop being the UK Prime Minister?

We Have To Cure Ourselves From The Itch For Absolute Knowledge And Power

2010/12/02 9 comments

As I find myself repeating, AGW has been so far impossible to falsify, in the sense that nobody has any idea of what kind of observation or observations would be needed to disprove it, either as-is or in its catastrophic form.

This is no small detail, as the very existence of catastrophic AGW is used by many people in blatant violation of Cromwell’s Rule:

if a coherent Bayesian attaches a prior probability of zero to the hypothesis that the Moon is made of green cheese, then even whole armies of astronauts coming back bearing green cheese cannot convince him

How many AGWers would be able to accept the famous exhortation, “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken“? Very very few, especially among those of an activist variety. And this brings one straight back where I started for tonight’s research, a chance view (via the concept of “scientific allegiance“) of a short, emotional clip from “The Ascent of Man” by Jacob Bronowski, author of the quote that is the title of this post.

Bronowski makes a very poignant point, inviting each and every one of us to reach out to people, instead of transforming them into numbers. And what is the accusation of “denialism” but an attempt to de-humanize anybody that is not an AGW True Believer?

The world being built anybody using the term “denialism” in an AGW context ain’t pretty. Bronowski again:

There is no absolute knowledge. And those who claim it, whether they are scientists or dogmatists, open the door to tragedy. All information is imperfect. We have to treat it with humility. That is the human condition; and that is what quantum physics says. I mean that literally.

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