We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Friday, December 30. 2011
Is Freud obsolete?
Origins of the term security blanket
Harvard Prof Marc Hauser wrote a book about morality:
We've been reading a lot about scientist malfeasance lately
99-year-old divorces wife after he discovered 1940s affair
Middle Class Aided Its Own Decline:
Did people watch too many episodes of Dallas?
Because we're all bozos on this bus?
It's a big nothing, designed for news excitement.
VDH: The Old New Europe
Same old, same old. Secretly and decadently longing for a benevolent tyranny. A lost cause. The energetic Asians will eat their lunch.
The Law School Bubble: How Long Will It Last if Law Grads Can’t Pay Bills?
Might lower the price of basic legal services
Why? Beats me. I thought they snuck here for opportunity, not freebies. Everybody loves a freebie though, right? Even Conservatives...
The BBC As Warmists' Best Friend
Even the Warmists Don't Believe In Global Warming
Top 10 Worst Federal Rules of 2011
Scandal of NHS 'production line' as readmissions soar
Tracked: Dec 30, 07:34
Tracked: Dec 30, 12:31
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We've been reading a lot about scientist malfeasance lately
Correction, we've been reading a lot about Ph.D. malfeasance lately.
Science is a process of skeptical, empirical investigation. The very nature of the malfeasance denies the title of 'scientist' to these credentialed individuals and often the label 'scientific' to their organization.
Most of these linked essays contain a mishmash of jumbled thoughts. This tops the list.
Milton R. Wolf: Consider our decline in just the past two generations. Our grandfathers, who stood against evil and shed their blood to stop it, never would have tolerated their own government becoming so totalitarian that it would dictate to them what car they should drive, what (if any) health insurance they should choose or even what light bulb they should buy.
"Our grandfathers" refers to the WWII generation, people who were conscripted into war, and who, for the most part, accepted strict rationing and other extensive government controls of the economy. They had repeatedly reelected FDR and his New Deal, and once the war ended, they also supported extensive foreign aid and large government benefits to veterans.
Bird Dog: "Even the Warmists Don't Believe In Global Warming"
Louis Woodhill: Is human activity causing the climate to change? We don’t know, and there is no way, even in principle, that we can know.
It is not impossible—in principle—to determine whether humans are changing the climate. That's just silly.
Louis Woodhill: And, for this, we would need another planet, identical in every way to our own earth, which we could use as a “control”.
Um, no. That's like saying Newton couldn't determine that the Earth moves without being able to directly experiment on the Earth's movement. Rather, we propose hypotheses, then test the empirical implications of those hypotheses. Successful predictions support, but don't prove a hypothesis. One such test of the Earth's movement was the retardation of the pendulum (the entailment is that if the Earth rotates, it will form an oblate sphere, hence force of gravity will be lower near the equator), by Edmond Halley at St. Helena on November 7, 1677.
Louis Woodhill: If something is “settled”, it is not science.
While all science is tentative by definition, Eppur si muove.
If it is not impossible in principle to determine if humans are changing the climate, are you saying it is possible practically? Computer models? Good luck with that!
I'm not sure I understand you comment on "settled science". Are you saying science is tentative by definition... up to a point? And then it become "settled"? It seems to me you can say that about simple facts such as whether the Earth is still or revolves around the Sun, but the "why" question may always be subject to refinement. Sometimes the "refinement" redefines what was thought to be verifiable.
mudbug: If it is not impossible in principle to determine if humans are changing the climate, are you saying it is possible practically?
When someone makes an argument based on a untenable premise, as Woodhill did, then it means the argument is probably wrong.
mudbug: Computer models?
All scientific theories are models. Newton's Theory of Motion is a model. The Atomic Theory is a model.
mudbug: Are you saying science is tentative by definition... up to a point? And then it become "settled"? It seems to me you can say that about simple facts such as whether the Earth is still or revolves around the Sun, but the "why" question may always be subject to refinement. Sometimes the "refinement" redefines what was thought to be verifiable.
All scientific claims are held tentatively and subject to revision based on new scientific evidence. However, some claims are so well-established that it is perverse to refuse to give provisional assent.
Theories of Anthropogenic Climate Change are certainly not as well-established as theories of the Earth's movement, but the mechanisms are known well enough that it is reasonable to conclude that humans are changing their climate beyond what can be expected due to natural causes alone. A review of the literature makes this abundantly clear where most research now concerns the degree of change, the regional effects of that change, and the effects of various human responses.
You state the premise is untenable but offer no evidence nor do you offer an alternative. I suggest that when somebody argues in such a manner, their argument is untenable.
As for models, Newton's theory of motion is not a computer model but is based on observation and mathematics (calculus, actually). You're comparing apples and oranges.
Computer models are subject to the skill and perceptions of the programmer. Computer models have been used to develop a theory. Those models have evolved over time (hopefully to be more accurate) and as they evolve, their predicted temperature rise has fallen. The early ones didn't even account for water vapor. Those models have never been thoroughly back tested. Given known data from the past, have they ever predicted known data from the more recent past? Not to my knowledge.
As for reviewing the literature, all of that is suspect. It has been shown that the reviewers to AGW studies were cherry picked and no skeptical climate scientists were allowed to comment. Given that atmosphere at East Anglia and their propensity to politicize the research and researchers (even to the point of admitting that they had to "hide the decline" in temps over the last decade and that one "researcher" was almost glad when a prominent skeptical scientist, John Daly, died), I have very little faith in the current AGW literature. All that is not even to mention the past history of climate changes that had no human involvement, the serial predictions that end up not happening (e.g. increased hurricane activity, no snow, etc.). You can really tell a fake theory when any event proves it - even those that run counter to its predictions - and when the proponents are prepared to lie (e.g. declining populations of polar bears).
It would be refreshing for AGW scientists to treat it as a THEORY and not a fact. At that point a real scientific investigation can proceed. I'm not holding my breath.
mudbug: You state the premise is untenable but offer no evidence ...
We did provide an explanation. His position is that you can't—even in principle—determine if human activity is changing the climate, because we can't run controlled experiments on an identical planet. As we said, that's just silly. Newton couldn't experiment with the Earth's movements, but what he could do is use his model to make empirical predictions that could be tested. Halley's Comet is one such test, and a rather convincing one, at that.
mudbug: As for models, Newton's theory of motion is not a computer model but is based on observation and mathematics (calculus, actually). You're comparing apples and oranges.
That is incorrect. They are both models. Certainly, Newton's model is less complex, but that doesn't make it any more scientific.
mudbug: Computer models are subject to the skill and perceptions of the programmer.
Scientific computer models are subject to independent, empirical verification.
mudbug: Given known data from the past, have they ever predicted known data from the more recent past?
All climate models have to be able to reasonably model the past as well as the future.
mudbug: As for reviewing the literature, all of that is suspect.
Ah, so the geophysicists are in cahoots with the climatologists.
mudbug: It would be refreshing for AGW scientists to treat it as a THEORY and not a fact.
Theories and facts are orthogonal concepts. A theory is an abstraction or model, a conceptual framework for making sense of the data.
I'm not sure who "we" are in your post... And I'm still not sure how you (since you used "we") can control for the millions of variables that go into a climate, but then that's part of the deal isn't it. We're supposed to trust the modelers. To say that Newton's theory of motion is as valid as a computer model is not even silly. As I said, and you don't dispute, that the climate models cannot predict accurately from a known past to a known more recent past. If they can't do that then they are by definition not valid whether they are independently and empirically validated. Who validated them and how?
You are correct. A theory is a conceptual framework. That would mean it is subject to verification. It is not necessarily fact and someone who disputes the hypothesis behind it is not necessarily a charlatan. However, a "scientist" who claims another is a charlatan because he disputes the hypothesis of an unverified theory is a charlatan.
So there are threads of truth in Dr. Crazy Ron Paul’s admonition about warmongering and over-reacting. Hmmm.
An attack on a vessel at sea is an attack on the nation of that vessel’s flag. The Constitution empowers the President to respond to acts against the Law of Sea according rules set forth by Congress.
"Middle Class Aided Its Own Decline". Yes, but not as the commentary portrays. This was a terribly written piece, full of disconnected, misguided notions, cobbled together to form a weak hypothesis and conclusion. An essay that is structured correctly but lacks soundness.
Yes the middle class has outspent its means. Yes, homes are 50% larger (while families are smaller), and routinely come equipped with all sorts of appliances: dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, microwave ovens...and now that's getting pushed to industrial scale refrigerators and stoves. (Why? As families eat out frequently every week). All surrounded by granite countertops and hardwood floors. Multiple large screen HD TVs fill the remaining space, connected to CaTV, XBox and a Netflix subscription. Middle class families have at least two cars (w/ XM and dual DVD players). Fortunately cell phones are small, b/c everyone in the family has their own.
Yes, you need two jobs to pay for all of that, but of course higher tax brackets and student loan payments eat up all that extra income.
Contrast to those years ago, when you had one 19" TV (w/ a large antenna), one car (w/ AM radio, and not even AC), plastic countertops, a party line telephone, a clothes line and kids to wash the dishes each night. This was what middle class used to be, and it still exists, only it's called poverty.
The middle class has been wrecked, but mostly by its own means, and by being redefined out of existence.
mudbug: And I'm still not sure how you (since you used "we") can control for the millions of variables that go into a climate, but then that's part of the deal isn't it.
The first point concerned whether it was possible—in principle. If you have ceded that point, then we can dispense with Woodhill's argument.
As for complex dynamic systems, they have to be modeled in detail, hence the need for computers. However, the basic physics don't require computer modeling. If, for instance, the current warming trend were due to increased solar irradiance, then we would expect the entire atmosphere to warm. If it were due to increased greenhouse gases, the lower atmosphere would warm, and the upper atmosphere would cool. And that is what we observe.
mudbug: Who validated them and how?
Multitudes of climatologists working in different countries, different cultures, different political systems, using independent methods.
"Climate change is real ... It is likely that
most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed
to human activities." — National Academies of Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom and United States
mudbug: A theory is a conceptual framework. That would mean it is subject to verification. It is not necessarily fact and someone who disputes the hypothesis behind it is not necessarily a charlatan.
That's right. However, there is very little remaining dispute within climatology concerning the fact of anthropogenic climate change. What little contrarian science there is, nitpicks on the edges, or proposes theories that have little relevance to the data.