the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Belief in Evidence or Evidence of Belief

Posted by Jeff Id on September 7, 2010

A note to climate science.

Evidence drives science opinion toward truth. Evidence doesn’t seek truth, evidence is truth and the scientist is ever beholden to the evidence. It all gets confused when humans are involved. We all grasp that opinion is a form of understanding which can be thought of as an interpretation of evidence.  Scientific opinion is no different and is complicated and obscured by an amalgam of emotion, experience and the data in front of you. Opinion can therefore be corrupted by all types of confounding factors and it is a constant war for a scientist who wishes to maintain integrity. Opinions are sometimes sneaky, creeping up on you where all the evidence points to what you believe. When you are later wrong, sometimes it’s embarrassing.

In soft science, you are the one who judges correctness. Soft science being that which are complex enough or new enough that all factors aren’t known. Examples are psychology, some forms of biological and biochemical sciences, philosophy and our favorite whipping boy, climatology.

Of course in soft science, you have more opportunity to be wrong than in hard sciences like mathematics.  In math, someone catches your error, in climate science,  the conclusion can be colored by pre-determined assumptions.

F = m a : Force equals mass times acceleration.

A stupidly simple equation for something so important. It’s easily proven or disproved. Climatology likes to say their problem is infinitely more complex than hard sciences. On some levels they are correct, climate is very complex if all details are wanted to be understood, but if the warming caused by CO2 is what is sought, it should be much simpler right?  Nope, not really.

How much warming, is a soft science – and how much is the key we all want.

A popular concept in climate science ™ is at least 1.2 and up to 4 C or sometimes  (2 to 6C) of warming per century for a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere.  These numbers don’t always follow the IPCC.  The science is based on a ‘base’ claim of 1.2 caused by CO2 and an additional warming caused because certain types of clouds are formed.  What is oft forgotten/ignored is that even the base claim itself of 1.2 with no cloud formation is in question.   The value is uncertain, or fuzzy, or possibly even incorrect depending on your opinion.

It is just an opinion too, because we don’t know.

F=ma is imperfect.

From special relativity we learned that

 \mathbf{F} = \frac{\gamma^3 m \left(  \mathbf{v} \cdot \mathbf{a} \right)}{c^2} \, \mathbf{v} +  \gamma m\,  \mathbf{a}. — wiki

Does that mean F=ma is wrong?    No not really, it means the world is more complex than we used to think.  F =ma is good enough for most everything we do, I’ve never needed the relativistic form for work.  But without the rest of the equation, the answer is not good enough for some applications.  F = ma is a tiny bit uncertain, containing errors created by the differences between math and reality, but it is very close to the improved answer for small relative velocities.

In climate, the scientists have a window of uncertainty which is greater than the measured trend.  They are still certain of the warming, basic physics of radiative capture demand it.  Oddly, they are also self certain of both the magnitude of the CO2 based warming and the resulting positive feedback response from the atmosphere.   The certainty of these two items are where they go wrong initially but it is followed by claims of damage which have so little foundation in reality, it is hard to express the contempt I hold for it.  Follow that with their demands that we adopt scientifically ‘F = beer + pizza’ non-workable energy solutions and they’ve lost me.   Soft science with wild conclusion and demands for scientifically non-workable energy programs.

All of these things revolve around a common core belief that humans are changing the planet, and that is always assumed bad.  It gives a person a warm fuzzy feeling in their heart that they are doing the right thing.  It gives them hope that  they can make the world a better place. They are generally good people with good hearts and strong belief in the fact that what they are doing is a hundred percent right.  It IS a very understandable position, when you are standing on an untouched mountain or an Antarctic plane and take a deep breath of the cold clear air.

But that is not science.

When (MMH 2010) demonstrates that models overshoot warming by 2 to 4 times measured evidence, climate science must take notice.  They MUST come off the cold mountain, walk to the energy eating computer and face the even colder evidence.

I wonder if they will anytime soon.

21 Responses to “Belief in Evidence or Evidence of Belief”

  1. HotRod said

    Cracking post.

  2. Derek said

    HotRod said
    “Cracking post”
    Seconded.

    There is much in the post Jeff that pleasantly surprises me, that you actually said it.
    Put far better than I could of / try to, as well.

    Maybe there is some historical “context” to the soft science of climatology situation, at present.
    http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com/2010/09/nazi-dreams-were-green-dreams.html

    Certainly Greenpeace seem to be sinking to new (even lower) lows recently, even for them.

    and,
    http://notrickszone.com/2010/09/05/uk-telegraph-greenpeace-is-turning-people-off/#comment-1243

  3. Derek said

    Jeff Id wrote,
    ” climate science must take notice. They MUST come off the cold mountain,
    walk to the energy eating computer and face the even colder evidence.

    I wonder if they will anytime soon. ”

    We all know already that, that depends on the funding,
    if we are honest with ourselves about how we got “here” in the first place.

  4. steveta_uk said

    We all they they MUST, but not that they WILL.

    I had a double-take moment when I read “the conclusion can be colored by pre-demented assumptions”
    but re-reading made more (or less) sense.

  5. kuhnkat said

    Your examples of SOFT SCIENCE are just a wee bit narrow. The bleeding edges of ALL Science is soft science. The measurements and observations are guesses, approximations, and beliefs. With time they move into bias and assumption. If we are lucky the technology moves ahead to the point where the measurements become reliable and understandable and we have something RELATIVELY solid!!

    Repeatability. Anyone up for repeating any of the experiments at CERN or any of the other Billion Dollar installations run by Bureaucracies?? Kinda leaves Particle Physics and other areas rather doubtful donut?

  6. Brian H said

    #4;
    Good catch! He fixed it, but it sure is an interesting example of the semi-coherent mental mechanisms of typos and malaprops, no? LOL

    Jeff;
    Much of your analysis may well apply to many, or even most, of the scientists playing along, but I take the IPCC mandate and associated UN documents at their word, and conclude that this is heavily financed and aggressively enforced justification for and rationalization of a political agenda — an unprecedented power grab, in fact. The serial nature of The Narratives™ is plain for all to see: Malthusian collapse, Ice Age, Warming, Acidification, whatever can be leveraged to put irrevocable executive power in the hands of the self-selected Enlightened Ones.

  7. How Widespread The Cancerous Growth?

    You are exactly right, Jeff: “Evidence drives science opinion toward truth.”

    Since 1976 I experienced deceit in NASA and in the space sciences community, but until the Climategate scandal broke and the coverup began, I had absolutely no idea how widespread the cancerous growth had become.

    I still do not know the full extent of the corruption, but the first half of this new paper documents the corruption in space sciences since 1976, . . .

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10640850/Neutron_Repulsion.pdf

    Corruption that had not yet taken control of Nature in 1983 when that journal published “The demise of established dogmas on the formation of the Solar System” [Nature 303 (1983) 286]: http://tallbloke.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/swart-1983.pdf

    Because of repeated failure of Nature to allow publication of dissenting opinions now to these three misrepresentations of empirical evidence:

    1. Man-made CO2 induced global warming;
    2. Earth’s heat source is well-behaved Hydrogen-fusion reactor; and
    3. Fusion is the nuclear energy source that powers the Sun and our best hope for meeting future energy needs; . . .

    I sent this open message on August 11, 2010 requesting the resignation of Dr. Philip Campbell as editor of Nature for failure to follow Nature’s own Mission Statement of 1869:

    ” . . . to place before the general public the grand results of scientific work and scientific discovery; . . . to aid scientific men . . . by giving early information of all advances made in any branch of natural knowledge throughout the world, and by affording them an opportunity of discussing the various scientific questions which arise from time to time.”

    http://db.tt/ozSkvEf

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo

  8. Brian H said

    #5;
    Actually, the CERN and LHC and Fermilab all attempt to replicate and test each others’ results all the time. A significant difference from climatology is that many hope the Standard Model fails the tests, so that new science and ideas can have a field day.

    Climatologists refuse even to let actual physicists and statisticians and mathematicians and modelers SEE their raw data, algorithms, or coding, because they might try to criticize or dispute the current conclusions those secret proprietary black boxes “justify”! The contrast is stark.

  9. Phillip Bratby said

    “Does that mean F=ma is wrong? No not really, it means” that it is a good approximation, at the conditions we experience, to what we currently accept as the exact equation.

  10. Brian H said

    #7, Oliver;
    I can’t speak for Jeff, but as a reader I offer some advice.

    We appreciate your experiences, frustration, and passion, but these incessant postings about your theories are in practice an attempt to “highjack” threads and turn them into discussion of your ideas. That you get few or no responses is mostly a due to the politeness of the readership.

    This is not a reflection of anyone’s opinion pro or con your hypotheses. But it is a consequence of your persistent violations of “Netiquette”, the basic rules of the road of posting and commenting.

    In my opinion.

  11. Brian H said

    edit: “is mostly due”

  12. Brian H said

    Forgot to check subscription box.

  13. Derek said

    I can see both Brian H’s (post 10) and Oliver K Manuel’s (post 7) frustrations / concerns.
    So,
    http://www.globalwarmingskeptics.info/forums/thread-896.html

    I hope in some small way it may be of help / use.

  14. Mike Jowsey said

    #13 Thank you for your link to Global Warming Skeptics – a most interesting discussion forum. However, Brian H’s post is imo accurate and timely. Oliver KM is pushing a barrow and thereby comes across as a disenfranchised crank. Having read the paper he so often cites (his own), this impression remains. His science may be interesting and even revolutionary – I don’t know – but his method of delivery is annoying. He detracts from the argument at hand rather than contributing to it.

    Back to the topic at hand: Jeff’s theme here is that a simple mathematical formula can be proved or disproved. Which is what MMH2010 has done in respect of climate models. It is an elegant argument which clarifies the shakiness of the soft and immature science of climatology.

  15. Thank you Brian (#10), Derek (#13) and Mike (#14) for your candid opinions.

    It is not my intention to “highjack” the thread, but to point out that the Climategate scandal resonates with the deceitful tactics that Dr. Sabu and I first encountered in the space sciences community at AGU Meeting in Washington, DC in April of 1976.

    Climategate exposed deceit far beyond the wildest imagination of any conspiracy buffs – the UN’s IPCC, world leaders, Al Gore, the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the International Inter-Academy Panel on International Issues (IAP), the International Inter-Academy Council (IAC), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), NASA, the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee, major research journals, major news media and public TV (BBC, PBS) etc.

    “How widespread the cancerous growth?” I don’t know but I know that it extends far beyond the Climategate scandal.

    Again, I appreciate your candid opinions.

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K Manuel

    “He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts… for support rather than illumination.” – Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

  16. Derek said

    If I may quote Oliver.

    1) ” It is not my intention to “highjack” the thread, but to point out that the Climategate scandal resonates with the deceitful tactics that Dr. Sabu and I first encountered in the space sciences community at AGU Meeting in Washington, DC in April of 1976. ”

    I know you are exactly correct in this respect, as many, many other now generally vilified good scientists have been, and continue to be so treated (Gray, Bellamy, Miskolczi, etc, etc, etc.), and not just by NASA.
    Unfortunately I now suspect (know) this practice / approach has been common place in science since time immemorial.
    From Galileo before you, to Gray after you, and many more in the future.

    I have begun recently to wonder if science has a future at all, if it isn’t PC at the time.

    2) ” Climategate exposed deceit far beyond the wildest imagination of any conspiracy buffs – the UN’s IPCC, world leaders, Al Gore, the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the International Inter-Academy Panel on International Issues (IAP), the International Inter-Academy Council (IAC), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), NASA, the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee, major research journals, major news media and public TV (BBC, PBS) etc. ”

    Yes, that has been discussed / aired many, many times at the GWS forum, also including the Royal Society, and others, on various threads.
    It is good to see that others are now catching up.

    I do hesitate a bit though at the use of the phrase Oliver uses, namely “the wildest imagination of any conspiracy buffs”,
    instances discussed at GWS are, as far as I recall, always raised with links to sources / events / media coverage showing what caught various posters attention, on numerous occasions.

  17. “In soft science, you are the one who judges correctness. Soft science being that which are complex enough or new enough that all factors aren’t known. Examples are psychology, some forms of biological and biochemical sciences, philosophy and our favorite whipping boy, climatology.”

    Hard sciences are sciences where it is possible to conduct experiments to validate theories. Physics and chemistry are the classic hard sciences. If it is impossible to conduct experiments, you have a descriptive science. (“soft science” is pejorative.) Examples are geology, climatology and astronomy. Lacking the ability to conduct experiments, the descriptive sciences are less sure of their results than the experimental sciences. Refuting or confirming conflicting theories in a descriptive science is quite difficult without experimental results.
    Incidentally, It is possible to conduct experiments in biology and psychology. Experimental coverage is not as complete as it is in physics and chemistry, but they are working on that. And finally, most people consider philosophy to be an art rather than a science.
    Climatology is attempting use observations accurate to only a couple of degrees C to detect a change in world temperature of a fraction of a degree C. The accuracy of the measurements isn’t great enough support some of the claims made. It is also attempting to use results of pure theory (computer models) as if they were actual observations. And it is using proxy measurements of things which are not good proxies for temperature. For instance, tree ring width is a measure of rainfall, not temperature.

  18. Thanks, Derek (#13) for the invitation to GWS. Derek (#16) said:

    ” . . . instances discussed at GWS are, as far as I recall, always raised with links to sources / events / media coverage showing what caught various posters attention, on numerous occasions.”

    That is why I gave a links to a paper that documents corruption in space sciences:

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10640850/Neutron_Repulsion.pdf

    And to a news editorial in Nature 303 (1983) 286 on “The demise of established dogmas on the formation of the Solar System”

    http://tallbloke.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/swart-1983.pdf

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel

  19. Eric Anderson said

    David Starr said: “It is possible to conduct experiments in biology . . .”

    True, in terms of existing function and engineering, just not in terms of the historical “explanation” stuff.

  20. michealC said

    Whether it’s more funding; warm fuzzies; feelings of superiority; or just some conveniently comforting existential belief that either makes one’s death more palatable, i.e. one is leaving a world that’s going to hell in a climate hand basket and thank god I won’t be there when it happens, or conversely a belief which makes one’s life more “meaningful,” i.e. I’ve got to fight the good fight against CO2 for the future generations, to “save” mankind from itself! The zealously self-appealling nature of CAGW (and its associated climate policy initiatives and insufferably tiresome moralizing) to the minds of so many is almost frightening.

    Cause for hope, at least in my weary mind, is manifest in the subdued response meeting all of the interminable climate hysterics. That and the growing seed of doubt and skepticism that you (with less than a handful of others) sowed late last year with the Climategate emails. The abjectly moronic – and peer reviewed – papers linking CAGW to immigration and civil war and crop failure and you-name-it catastrophes couldn’t do a better job of revealing how desperate and political the CAGWers have always been. The massive political component to CAGW is laid bare for the world to see on almost a weekly basis now. No reasonable, rational, thinking citizen could fail to see how shot throught with BS the entire CAGW apparatus is. Amen. Hallelujah. No kidding! Thanks, Jeff.

  21. stan said

    Jeff,

    Prof. Schneider (rip), demonstrates that he doesn’t have a clue about UHI, http://news.sbs.com.au/insight/episode/index/id/302#transcript

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