Science Marches On

ยฉSidney Harris

On Friday, December 17, the Obama Administration issued a formal memorandum saying that government officials should not interfere with science.

[Crickets.]

So, why is this an issue at all?

I know my fellow liberals are sometimes accused of blaming the Bush Admininstration for everything. In this case, however, the shoe fits.

The Bush Administration had a strong and unequivocal record of denying the existence of scientific data that conflicted with their political and social views. The trend became so bad that thousands of scientists felt compelled to start an organization called “Defend Science” and issue a manifesto outlining the various sorts of manipulation, fabrication, and outright naked deceit that became the modus operandi of the previous administration.

Since it was written by scientists, the above link is fully referenced and meticulously sourced and I won’t outline the point-by-point arguments here.

The Defend Science position on the Bush Administration is a widely held view amongst working scientists. A recent Pew survey showed that 77% of scientists “believe claims that the Bush administration suppressed some research findings by government scientists.” Obviously, this is an issue which resonates with scientists (if not with the general public). Not surprisingly, the same survey found that only 6% of scientists support the Republican Party.

The political orientation of scientists will be the subject of a future blog post, but here’s a tease.

How can a scientist support a former Republican vice-presidential candidate and potential Republican presidential candidate who says this about evolution? Especially one who proudly proclaims that she is going to go “fossil hunting where we find evidence of ancient sea life on the high hilltops of the Last Frontier” on their TV show-cum-Presidential infomercial?

You can’t have it both ways, ex-half-Gov. Palin, and neither can your fellow Republicans.


About Monotreme

Monotreme is an unabashedly liberal dog lover, writer, and former scientist who now teaches at a University in an almost-square state out West somewhere. http://www.logarchism.com | http://www.sevendeadlysynapses.com
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94 Responses to Science Marches On

  1. filistro says:

    The war on science is just one more (albeit particularly egregious) example of the pernicious effect of religion in politics. When religion is allowed to creep into into any aspect of policy and lawmaking, it results INEVITABLY in regression, repression, fear, creeping ignorance and open warfare.

    I think there should be a litmus test for those who want to serve as politicians. They should be asked this question: “Would you ever, under any circumstances, allow your personal religious beliefs to affect your policy decisions or votes?”

    Those unable to give a resounding, unequivocal “NO” should be removed from consideration.

  2. fopplssiegeparty says:

    fili – “Those unable to give a resounding, unequivocal โ€œNOโ€ should be removed from consideration.”

    I totally agree, but the US has no shortage of folks who have an imaginary buddy in the sky.

  3. filistro says:

    fopssie.. I have no objection to “people of faith” (even though that actual phrase always makes me gag just a little bit….)

    What I do object to is politicians who are unable to separate their “faith” from their policy-making.

    For example… I personally believe with some passion that there is intelligent life on other planets. Furthermore, I think it is HUMAN life, because I believe Earth was terraformed and colonized from elsewhere. But if I were an elected lawmaker, I would never let that fervent personal belief of mine affect what kind of vote I might cast on space exploration. I would instead consider the science, the budgetary considerations, and the will of the people.

  4. filistro says:

    Some news today that’s totally apropos to this topic… the American Taliban is organizing a PAC.

    If you think America is going backward NOW… just wait till these science-hating, knuckle-dragging, Bible-spouting, narrow-minded, hate-filled, intolerant, reactionary troglodytes have managed to kill off every single “moderate” in their own party.

    Good grief.

  5. mclever says:

    Filistro,

    To combat the FreeperPAC, one can always look for reasonable, rational groups like the Scientists & Engineers for America to support.

    ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. filistro says:

    mclever… now THAT’S a breath of fresh air!

    (Is that you in the middle? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. filistro says:

    And speaking of science and politics… creeping corporatism permeates SCOTUS.

    We all knew this already, of course… but now there’s a STUDY.

  8. dcpetterson says:

    It’s no longer “creeping corporatism.” It is now “rampant corporatism.”

    There is a word for it when corporations and government form this sort of unholy alliance. Think Italy, 1930’s…

  9. mclever says:

    Sorry to disappoint, fili, but I’m not pictured on the Scientists & Engineers for America site, though I know many of the people involved from CalTech. They founded the group because (you guessed it!) they were experiencing increased government meddling and censorship of their scientific endeavors back in 2004.

  10. Bart DePalma says:

    On Friday, December 17, the Obama Administration issued a formal memorandum saying that government officials should not interfere with science.

    snort. :::chuckle::: LMMFAO!!!

    This from the regime that tossed the EPA’s own regulatory standards for science in their GHG endangerment finding by not conducting their own science and accepting on faith the utterly discredited British MET temperature date and UN IPCC report?

    The timing of this proclamation just a couple weeks after EPA announced that it was going to halt GHG regulation and reexamine the “science” is very interesting, though.

    Nothing like the threat of turning on the light in the form of House investigations to scatter the cockroaches.

  11. mclever says:

    @ filistro RE: “creeping corporatism permeates SCOTUS”

    How depressing…

    Of course what I find particularly troubling about this is that I have always believed that government (and the justice system in particular) should work to make things fair for everyone. Money shouldn’t buy the law, and the rich shouldn’t be able to pay their way out. I’m not so naive as to believe such fairness has ever really been achieved, but this corporatization of our justice system is a big step in the wrong direction.

    Due to their capital resources, corporations are at a decided advantage in disputes with an individual person, even if multiple individuals band together into a class-action suit. The courts are supposed to seek to rectify that injustice, not reinforce it.

  12. dcpetterson says:

    It is indeed time we scrape the last vestiges of the Bush Administration’s manipulation of scientific findings from the bottoms of our shoes. The science on greenhouse gasses is one excellent example. Having survived the faux-scandal of leaked emails, this science is on absolutely solid ground, and it is time for America to join the entire scientific world in acknowledging it.

    Yes, we still have arrogant airheads from the old Know Nothing Party seeking to deny it, hoping to substitute the rhetoric of their elite corporate masters for the actual research and solid data. And they will always bart their nonsense. But at least our government needs to act in realistic ways, and it is refreshing to see an interest group forming around the idea of making that happen.

  13. shiloh says:

    Bartles ~ snort. :::chuckle::: LMMFAO!!!

    Thanx for sharing er showing your intellectual capacity.

    as always, impressive indeed!

    take care

  14. shortchain says:

    Bart,

    If you think that the IPCC report or the “British MET temperature date”(sic), whatever that is, have been discredited among scientists, you may be in for a shock.

  15. Monotreme says:

    He’s also repeating the Fox News meme that there is no other scientific basis for believing in global warming besides the University of Cardiff data. In the world of right-wing non-science, a single finding by a single investigator is the only basis for a theory as far-reaching and comprehensive as AGW.

  16. Monotreme says:

    In case you think I’m making up Fox News’ blatant disregard for the truth, here’s a data point:

    http://www.mediaite.com/online/another-leaked-fox-news-memo-this-time-questioning-global-warming/

    The thing is, there is no question about the temperature data. It is what it is, despite Sammon’s denial. It’s what is causing the global temperature rise that is under discussion amongst thousands of scientists. The fact of warming is not in dispute, a distinction that is apparently lost in Sammon’s blind hatred of the truth.

    What a joke, that someone who has “News” in his job title is actually in charge of agitprop.

  17. Bart DePalma says:

    shortchain:

    After the obligatory CYA whitewash which constitutes an investigation of fraud in modern tenured academia, University of East Anglia to their credit announced that they were going to review the MET office’s temperature database using outside scientists. Of course, the MMGW religionists in the British government opposed opening the curtain at Oz.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6945445.ece

    Even as CO2 levels soared exponentially, MET’s Phil Jones had to admit that even under his jury rigged “adjusted temperature” database which no one can recreate, there has been no statistically significant global warming since 1995.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1250872/Climategate-U-turn-Astonishment-scientist-centre-global-warming-email-row-admits-data-organised.html

    After the Climategate scandal broke, NASA produced a series of emails under a Freedom of Information Act request, one of which admits that the United States temperature record does not show a statistically significant change in temperatures during the 20th Century.

    http://www.judicialwatch.org/files/documents/2010/783_NASA_docs.pdf

    After the multiple scandals of fictional predictions and lies in the 2007 IPCC report, they are also attempting to at least make their political bullshit posing as science more “bulletproof.”

    http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2010-08/31/ipcc-significant-reforms

    Hell, even that flim flam artist Michael Mann of hockey stick graph infamy has now discovered the medieval warming period and the El Nino.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/11/26/mann-has-a-new-paper-he-apparently-discovers-the-medieval-warm-period/

    To add insult to global cooling, after the Copenhagen conference was greeted with a deep freeze, the MMGW religionists fled to Cancun to find some elusive winter warmth. In an exquisite bit of kharmic deja vu, Cancun’s temperature hit a 100 year low in what wags are now calling the Al Gore effect.

    This is such a scientifically target rich environment, how can anyone honestly say with a straight face that there is any credible science backing up this hypothesis?

    The GOP had better drag every MMGW religionist at EPA, NASA, MET and academia within subpoena reach before the House along with all of their concealed documents and data and make them justify this nonsense. Then enact a law requiring EPA to suspend their endangerment finding until they can duplicate all the science they currently cite.

    No one can duplicate any of the adjusted temperature databases used by the computer models relied upon by the IPCC. According to the leaked internal programmer notes, MET invited in a computer specialist named “Harry”and he gave up after two years of trying to figure out the MET adjusted temperature database. Harry’s notes indicate the entire thing was filled with arbitrarily set temperatures governed by no discernible rules or formulas.

    Garbage in, garbage out.

  18. Monotreme says:

    Wow, reading raw emails about a branch of science unrelated to mine is boring as bat guano.

    Still, as I expected, the email data dump you linked to does not say what you think it says. The relevant part seems to be that a journalist is pressing them for the (simplified) story that such-and-such year is “the warmest on record” and they’re pointing out the uncertainties in the raw data and resisting the impulse to use the data in that way (“we do not keep such lists”).

    What do you think the emails say, based on your reading of them? I’d like to know, since you linked to them.

  19. Mainer says:

    Wow, GIGO Barthole hath spake. And as if on cue Bart rushes in to show exactly what the rest of you were talking about. Damn you are good Bart.

    Now the part about your new god Torquemada Issa is a little chilling. So if you can’t intimidate the scientists into silence or the data doesn’t say what you want it too, the next step is what? Ohhhhhh could we be seeing water boarding again only this time in the halls of congress?

  20. drfunguy says:

    Bart
    Do you actually know that ” one of [the NASA emails] admits that the United States temperature record does not show a statistically significant change in temperatures during the 20th Century” or are you, once again MSU? You link to a 200 pg. document, can you point to a page within where the alleged quote occurs?

  21. drfunguy says:

    Bart,
    Here is a nice quote from pg. 36 (of 216) of the NASA emails you link to.
    It almost seems they know you!
    “The blog you attached is a prime example of what gives bloggers a really bad name; somebody with no idea what he is talking about is spouting absolute nonsense, making no distinctions between what is essential (the facts he conveniently omits) and what is pure noise (which he is concentrating on exclusively).”
    -Reto Reudy

  22. shortchain says:

    Bart doesn’t just deal in little bits — he backs the entire garbage truck up, displaying his amazing copy-and-paste abilities.

    Sadly, it’s still garbage. He has no understanding of science, how science works, how to tell good science from bad, nor the fundamentals of analytical thought.

  23. Monotreme says:

    Creation Science, explained.

  24. Mainer says:

    And 52% of Republicans believe in creationism. Hmmmmm maybe Mr. Issa can be the next John Raulston in his spare time. Bart could be a watered down William Jennings Bryan now all we will need is a decent Clarence Darrow and we can do the whole Scopes trial again. Oh man Fuxs news would be covering it 24/7…….with bullshit.

  25. Monotreme says:

    Historically, Republican congressmen and their aides who insist on vigorously investigating others have … issues.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Cohn
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Livingston
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Hyde
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_McCollum

    I could go on, speculating about projection and reaction formation and so forth, but I’ll leave it at that. Bring it on!

  26. filistro says:

    LOL, Monotreme… your peanut butter video made me think of Sue Johanson, Canada’s resident sex expert and a marvelous, hard-bitten, tell-it-like-it-is gal who does a world of good by educating Canadian kids on all things sexual.

    She hosts a regular show where she takes sex questions from the public live on air and answers them with refreshing frankness… plus wit, humor, and compassion.

    One night a guy called in, obviously looking to yank her chain a bit, and said, “I keep having this irresistible need to masturbate into jars of peanut butter. What does that mean?”

    “It means,” Sue told him without a flicker of expression, “that they’re probably going to get really upset with you at the supermarket.”

  27. Monotreme says:

    I just knew you were a fellow Sue Johanson fan.

  28. filistro says:

    Treme… wow. Sue Johanson is allowed on air in Utah? I would have thought they’d block the signal at the border ๐Ÿ˜‰

  29. Monotreme says:

    Actually, it was in Mississippi.

    Same problem, though.

  30. Mainer says:

    Sue Johanson was almost a cult figure here when she was on all the time. She had some of the most comical moments I have ever heard. Some of the folks that would call in would try and waltz around some very delicate issue and she would just dive in and go. Her questions to the unwitting callers were priceless.

  31. GROG says:

    Speaking of science and the “imaginary buddy in the sky”, where is the science that proves that life was created from non-living matter?

  32. Monotreme says:

    @GROG,

    That’s the problem. You can’t ask the question that way.

    There is no science that “proves” anything. There are findings consistent with a theory or explanation, and those that aren’t. When a theory accumulates enough findings, it is generally regarded as “true” although any good scientist would assign that a probability.

    It’s the difference between science and religion, according to Karl Popper. I don’t agree with everything he said, but his main point was that science must be falsifiable (able to be proven wrong), whereas religion is not.

    There is plenty of data which suggests, in the strongest possible terms, that the first self-replicating molecule was ribonucleic acid (RNA). RNA, even today, has what is called “auto-catalytic activity”, which essentially means it can edit itself. According to this model, this self-editing property was the “breakthrough” that made life possible. This is called “The RNA World” model.

    http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/articles/altman/

    The preponderance of the evidence is on the side of a spontaneous generation hypothesis. For example, the same four bases and a sugar (ribose or deoxyribose) make up all the information molecules in all lifeforms found; the same 20 amino acids (and all with the same ability to rotate light to the left, what we call L-amino acids) are found in all proteins of all life, and so forth.

  33. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    All around you, GROG. All around you.

  34. fopplssiegeparty says:

    Grog, why do you assume that the burden of proof is on atheists? I think it’s quite the opposite. You state that there is a god, well then, where’s the proof?

  35. shiloh says:

    Let the record show grog may or may not have an imaginary buddy in the sky!

  36. fopplssiegeparty says:

    shilo, you are right. I should have said, “If you state…”

    However, I am fairly confident which side he is on.

  37. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Here Bart, chew on THESE numbers.
    The latest CNN/Opinion Research poll (Dec. 17-19):

    5) Do you think the policies being proposed by Barack Obama will move the country in the right direction or the wrong direction?
    Right direction 55%
    Wrong direction 42%

    6) Do you think the policies being proposed by the Republican leaders in the U.S. House and Senate would move the country in the right direction or the wrong direction?
    Right direction 44%
    Wrong direction 51%

    30) Now let me describe to you some of the specific provisions in that bill and ask how you feel about each one. Please tell me whether your favor or oppose each of the following:

    A two-year extension of tax cuts for families who
    make less than 250 thousand dollars a year. Favor 89% Oppose 11%
    A two-year extension of tax cuts for families who
    make more than 250 thousand dollars a year. Favor 37% Oppose 62%
    A reduction in the tax paid by the heirs of
    some wealthy Americans when they die. Favor 39% Oppose 59%
    An increase in the federal deficit in order
    to pay for all of those provision. Favor 41% Oppose 57%

    33) Do you think that bill does too much for wealthy Americans, does about the right amount, or does not do enough for wealthy Americans?
    Too much 56%
    About right 35%
    Not enough 9%

    Just some sample items. Y’all can review the poll for the full scoop. Interesting numbers for a President that took a “shellacking” only 5 weeks ago!

    Now let’s see how you spin your way out of THIS one. Don’t let us down.

  38. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    shiloh and fop:

    Also remember, if the GOP has it’s way, given the evidence during the Bush and Reagan years, that kind of science and research will be prevented.

  39. shiloh says:

    fop, not sure grog knows what side he’s on ๐Ÿ˜‰ but like most winger trolls at progressive blogs he’s 100% against Obama, ok 99.9% lol.

    btw, in order to believe in an almighty whatever one must be a true believer, again sort of like conservative trolls at a liberal blog worshiping at the altar of their demi-god Reagan. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Bartles is a true believer in the garbage in, garbage out gospel as evidenced daily at 538.

    So it shall be written, so it shall be done!

  40. GROG says:

    @fopp,

    My proof is that we’re here and there’s an earth and a universe and rocks and stars and things all around us and science cannot explain how it all got here and where it all came from.

  41. shortchain says:

    GROG,

    Religion cannot explain how god got here, either.

    Sometimes, things just happen. No need to invent an imaginary anthropomorphic superbeing to explain things.

  42. shiloh says:

    grog, we’ll take your (((scientific))) evidence under advisement …

    take care, blessings

  43. dcpetterson says:

    Actually, GROG, science has very good explanations. So does religion. The difference is that scientists actively attempt to find ways to prove themselves wrong. The scientific theories which now hold sway are the ones that have not been proven wrong, despite the best possible efforts to do so. That is the whole point of how science is done.

    In contrast, the people who hold religious theories condemn any attempt to prove them wrong, and certainly do not seek out ways to test the veracity of their favorite theories. In fact, often (read Saint Augustine, for instance) someone who holds a belief which has been proven to be impossible is considered to be particularly pious and filled with the gift of faith.

  44. GROG says:

    @DC,

    Very true to some extent.

    @shiloh,

    So do you believe in God?

  45. dcpetterson says:

    I can prove the Bible to be wrong on any clear night.

    I can go outside. In the constellation of Andromeda I can clearly see a little fuzzy patch known as the Andromeda Nebula. That little cloud is actually an enormous collection of a couple of trillion stars. It is located about a million light-years from the Earth. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year. A million light years is the distance light travels in one million years. The light I see tonight that lights up that little fuzzy patch left the stars of the Andromeda Nebula a million years ago. The Universe must, therefore, be at least one million years old.

    Yet the Bible says the Universe was created on a Sunday some 6000 years ago. It is wrong.

    The only alternative explanation is that some insane jester of a god created the Universe recently, and left evidence of things like the Andromeda Nebula. That is, this cruel madman 6000 years ago created beams of light that would strike the Earth tonight, jsut to make me think there are a couple of trillion stars out there a million light years away. Well, IMHO, if God went through all that trouble, that that’s got to be what he (or she or it or them) wants be to believe. So I’d damn well better do what It wants.

    Thus: anyone who believes the Bible’s story that the Earth was created 6000 years ago must either be wrong, or is attempting to thwart the Will of God.

    The same is true of all the other findings of science (evolution, global warming, etc.) that contradict the teachings of True Believers. These True Believers entirely reject world that they maintain was created by their God, the most magnificent handiwork imaginable. How much more blasphemous can you get?

  46. GROG says:

    @DC,

    Very few religions take the Bible, parts of which were written a couple thousand years ago, that literally. Mine certainly does not.

  47. dcpetterson says:

    GROG,

    That’s very cool, and quite enlightened. Which parts do you take literally?

  48. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    2.2 million, actually, dc. So it’s more than TWICE as old as you say!

  49. dcpetterson says:

    By the way GROG, just so I don’t seem disingenuous — I am a deeply religious man myself. I make no bones or excuses about that. But I separate my religious beliefs from falsifiable scientific matters. Two different subjects, like music and farming.

  50. dcpetterson says:

    Thanks, Max. My information was a bit out of date (yes, I’m old). Just goes to demonstrate the nature of science — our understanding of the Andromeda Nebula (“Galaxy” actually) has evolved and improved over time.

  51. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Well, you WERE on the right track as Andromeda IS getting closer. Seems that in a billion years or so it will collide with the Milky Way and God knows (had to throw that in!) what the gravitational effects will to to Sol and the Earth!

  52. GROG says:

    @DC said: But I separate my religious beliefs from falsifiable scientific matters.

    I as well.

    The part I take literally is that there is a God who I believe created the universe. Science explains a lot after that.

    DC said (earlier): The difference is that scientists actively attempt to find ways to prove themselves wrong.

    Do you think most AGW scientists are actively trying to prove their theory wrong? Because it seems to me that if AGW were “proven” to be wrong there would be a lot of pissed off scientists out there even though it seems like that would be great news.

  53. shiloh says:

    grog ~ So do you believe in God?

    Why do you ask? … Political Debate 101 ~ always answer a meaningless deflection question w/another question. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    btw, define god?

    hmm, chicken/egg concept ie if one believes in god, then where did said god come from as the always was, always will be infinity theory ๐Ÿ˜‰ was such a hard concept to grasp, eh unless of course, one was/is a true believer.

    ok, deflection can be fun if taken in moderation …

    >

    Do you believe the universe as we know it can be contained inside a ping-pong ball ~ all things being relative. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Baltimore Catechism:

    1. Q. Who made the world?
    A. God made the world.

    2. Q. Who is God?
    A. God is the Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things.

    3. Q. What is man?
    A. Man is a creature composed of body and soul, and made to the image and likeness of God.

    6. Q. Why did God make you?
    A. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven.

    9. Q. What must we do to save our souls?
    A. To save our souls, we must worship God by faith, hope, and charity; that is, we must believe in Him, hope in Him, and love Him with all our heart.

    10. Q. How shall we know the things which we are to believe?
    A. We shall know the things which we are to believe from the Catholic Church, through which God speaks to us.

    Far frickin’ out !!!

    Late 1960’s prophecy ~ Jesus is comin’ again and boy is he pissed! as I’m waiting for the Las Vegas Catechism to be published ~ just sayin’

  54. dcpetterson says:

    @GROG
    Do you think most AGW scientists are actively trying to prove their theory wrong?

    Yes.

    They do this because if they don’t, someone else will.

    A scientist (any scientist) would much rather prove him- or herself wrong first, and come up with a better theory, rather than publish something that can be proven false and thereby have his or her theory publicly falsified.

    Further — as soon as any theory or set of data is published, the entire rest of the scientific community sets about trying to prove it wrong, so as to improve upon our understanding of the world. (this is called, “peer review”.)

    The data standing beneath AGW is absolutely unassailable. The details of the the explanation and the details of the data itself are constantly under scrutiny and are being constantly improved. This is nibbling around the edges, however. The basic thrust of it all (that the Earth is warming, and that this is being caused in large part by manmade greenhouse gasses) has a great deal of experimental, observational, and physical support (“physical” meaning that we know and well understand the physics behind it).

  55. dcpetterson says:

    To add to what I just said — a scientist that can prove an existing theory to be wrong is a scientist that will live forever in the annals of Great Scientists. So, even though there would be a lot of pissed-off scientists that would be upset by being proven wrong, there are also a lot of young turks who would be overjoyed to make a name for themselves.

    So yes, the community would be anxious to get this right, not merely to support the status quo. You have to remember, the whole idea of manmade AGW is a new concept. The same people who came up with the idea have kids who would be just as happy to come up with something better. But they haven’t been able to, because all the tremendous weight of evidence supports the current understanding.

  56. dcpetterson says:

    @GROG
    The part I take literally is that there is a God who I believe created the universe. Science explains a lot after that.

    This is a very reasonable attitude. One could even theorize that evolution is the method by which God (whatever one means by that word) creates living things.

    From a scientific point of view, however, this is irrelevant. Science would be concerned with discovering the details of that method. And those details (perhaps by design?) do not require any divine intervention.

    This theory, however, begs the question of where that creator-god came from. Saying “God did it” explains nothing. If you are going to theorize an uncreated entity, then that entity might as well be the Universe itself.

    Note: I am not denying the existence of some deity or other (which, of course, does not necessarily have to be the particular deity described in the Bible — or in any other religious work). I’m simply pointing out that, based on this viewpoint, the existence of some deity tells us nothing about the physical universe.

  57. GROG says:

    Thanks for your response, DC.

    I know there are mountains and mountains of evidence that global warming is not man made, but seems to be kicked under the rug by the AGW crowd. Maybe that’s not true, but it’s certainly the perception because I never see or hear it genuinely discussed by AGWers. They seem to get ticked off if you ever even mention it. You just become a denier, end of conversation.

  58. dcpetterson says:

    And thank you GROG for an interesting conversation.

    I dispute your statement that “there are mountains and mountains of evidence that global warming is not man made.” The climate scientists take those other factors into account. Yes, there are factors which are increasing the Earth’s temperature. But without the addition of manmade greenhouse gasses, these would not be sufficient to create the effects we have seen.

    Further, it is known that certain gasses (methane and CO2 particularly) do increase the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere, and it is also known that humans are adding these gasses into the atmosphere at an an absolutely unprecidented rate. So, if the Earth was not warming because of this (which we know that it is), we’d have to explain why.

  59. Bart DePalma says:

    drfunguy:

    Here is a shortcut to the NASA email discussing the noise in the US temperature record being larger than any CO2 effect:

    http://strata-sphere.com/blog/index.php/archives/12532

    The US has fairly comprehensive coverage of its territory. Imagine the statistical noise in the vast majority of the rest of the world with far spottier and changing coverage. Russia alone gained and then lost around 14,000 stations with the rise and fall of the USSR.

  60. Bart DePalma says:

    dcpetterson says: I dispute your statement that โ€œthere are mountains and mountains of evidence that global warming is not man made.โ€ The climate scientists take those other factors into account.

    No, climate modelers simply make assumptions for their programing.

    In reality, water vapor is the most powerful green house factor by several magnitudes, while CO2 is a comparative trace element. However, honest climatologists will admit that they only have the vaguest idea how water vapor effects the climate.

    Climatologists understand this subject about as well as ancient greek doctors understood the operation of the human body.

    Get back to me when you can offer models which can successfully predict the temperature over an extended period of time which can be duplicated by other scientists.

  61. dcpetterson says:

    Bart:
    No, climate modelers simply make assumptions for their programing.

    No, they don’t.

    They run actual tests and calculations to determine the effects of various greenhouse gasses. You are simply wrong.

    Get back to me when …

    No, I won’t bother. You will simply continue to deny any contact with reality on this issue, as you do with so many others. The evidence you ask for already exists. Read someone outside of your elite echo chamber. (And take some reading comprehension courses and physics courses while you’re at it.)

  62. dcpetterson says:

    Bart:
    Here is a shortcut to the NASA email discussing the noise in the US temperature record being larger than any CO2 effect:

    Clearly, you don’t understand the concept of statistical analysis.

    Even with a great deal of noise, a trend can be accurately determined. If the actual trend is an increase of (say) one tenth of a degree per decade, and the noise is (say) five degrees every year, over the course of several decades, you will still see average temperatures increasing by one tenth of a degree each decade. Averaging techniques will effectively eliminate the noise.

    The link you provided was to an equally ignorant right-wing climate change denier. Please provide a link to an actual legitimate scientist.

  63. dcpetterson says:

    By the way, this concept of eliminating noise so as to detect actual trends is the whole idea behind Nate’s averaging of polls to forecast election results. the whole idea of “noise” is that by averaging many readings together, the noise can be eliminated from the data. The blogger you linked to clearly didn’t understand the emails he was reading.

  64. Mainer says:

    That was interesting Grog and DC fun just to follow. I have always wondered why more scientists were not spiritualists. It would seem that some of the concepts would be attractive to a scientific mind.

  65. dcpetterson says:

    Mainer —

    I suspect a lot of scientists are deeply spiritual. (Read the writings of the early 20th century’s quantum physicists — most of them had deep belief in some form of god, even though their theories did not require one.) The point is, the scientific method does not address the question, because we have not come up with any way to test for the existence of a deity. Nor have we encountered any phenomenon (yet) which needs one. And if we did, then the study of deity would also become a science — theology would become theonomy.

    Having said that — science still cannot truly address the most basic fact of human existence, which is, the nature of consciousness. How is it that we experience ourselves? What is “awareness”?

    The freaky part of that question is that quantum physics seems to require a conscious observer in order for any physical process to happen. (I’m not going to try to explain that here.) This implies some conscious observer witnessed the creation of the Universe. Many quantum physicists of the early 20th century realized this, and then declined to pursue it much farther. The closest we can currently come to a theory of that is to say the Universe itself is conscious. But we haven’t found a way to test that proposition, so it isn’t considered to be a scientific question.

    By the way, the series of novels I’m working on will eventually offer one approach to that in a fictional setting. If I complete the series…

  66. shiloh says:

    grog ~ I know there are mountains and mountains of evidence that global warming is not man made

    Feel free to provide/post said evidence … otherwise there’s nothing to debate, eh.

  67. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    For ex Barney Miller fans.

    It was just announced that Steve Landesberg, Detective Deitrich, has passed.

    Deitrich was a truly unusual character.

  68. Mainer says:

    Not sure we are talking about the same thing DC. I grew up around a number of folks that followed the Spiritualist movement and lived around one of their last major summer encampments. That many scientists were or are deeply spiritual I don’t think is the same thing.

    One would perhaps have to seperate out the more modern Spiritualist church but if scientists believe in various forms of energy I could see some room with Spiritualism.

    Odd was just thinking about the old Barney Miller show the other night and couldn’t remember who it was that played Deitrich……odd.

  69. dcpetterson says:

    Mainer, oh okay, you mean Spiritualists, and I mean spiritual. Yes, different things.

    Max, Deitrich was one of the best TV characters ever. And this is the proper thread on which to acknowledge the actor’s passing.

  70. Mainer says:

    Yes Spiritualists. A very interesting group. If one takes out the frauds and has as I have the opportunity to listen to some of their people that have spent a life time with it one can get quite aborbed.

    Also yes on this being an appropriate thread for Landesberg. In one of the better ensemble groups of its type he was always fun. I still think playing with the likes of Abe Vigoda must have been a hoot.

  71. drfunguy says:

    @Bart
    I should have read your earlier coment more closely; I read it as NASA saying there was no significant _global_ increase. The fact that treneds in the US data are not statistically significant means nothing. As stated in the first line of the email that you link to. “We cannot draw any conclusions about our world form the US data.”
    Because the US contains a small percentage of the total surface of the planet.
    The statement from the blog:”There is no evidence of CO2 driven global warming in any of the US temp data โ€“ even though we are accused of being the CO2 generating capitol of the world. ” demonstrates the complete ignorance of climate science of the authors. Effects of greenhouse gases are not proximate to their release.
    The US represents about 2% of global surface area (as the NASA guys point out in the long string of emails to which you linked earlier). So it will take a much larger temperature change before one would expect it to be statistically significant in this small subset of the data. In addition model predict the strongest effects at extreme latitudes of which the US contains an even smaller percentage.

  72. dcpetterson says:

    Excellent comment, drfunguy. I wondered if that wasn’t all obvious to even the most casual reader, but perhaps it wasn’t. You’re probably right that Bart wasn’t aware of those most simple details.

  73. GROG says:

    shiloh said: Feel free to provide/post said evidence โ€ฆ otherwise thereโ€™s nothing to debate, eh.

    To repeat the words of a 538refugee (shiloh) “let Google be your friend”.

  74. shortchain says:

    GROG,

    No, you can’t hide behind that. There are many sources on the web, some of them, like Bart’s blog, utterly worthless as a source of unbiased information. To send someone off on a search for that is weaseling.

    This isn’t like saying, “there are many people saying…”, where a google search can quickly and easily demolish the doubter (as you will recall, from having said “nobody is saying” something and then having people demonstrate it false).

    You made the claim that “I know there are mountains and mountains of evidence”. So produce it. Or admit that you don’t know what you said you know.

  75. Just Sayin' says:

    Great debate, Grog, Bart take a physics class, you might learn something. I read an article a few years ago that most physicists were athiests, primarily because you simply couldn’t measure or test a devine being.

  76. Bart DePalma says:

    drfunguy says: I should have read your earlier coment more closely; I read it as NASA saying there was no significant _global_ increase.

    NASA relies upon MET for its global “adjusted temperature” data.

    The fact that treneds in the US data are not statistically significant means nothing…Because the US contains a small percentage of the total surface of the planet.

    Reread my posts a third time. The point is that the US runs one of the most comprehensive and best maintained temperature measurements systems in the world and the statistical noise from those measurements is so high that they cannot determine if the lower expected CO2 induced temperature rise even exists. The temperature measurement noise is without a doubt as bad in the EU and far worse in the vast majority of the remainder of the planet’s surface.

    The statement from the blog:โ€There is no evidence of CO2 driven global warming in any of the US temp data โ€“ even though we are accused of being the CO2 generating capitol of the world. โ€ demonstrates the complete ignorance of climate science of the authors. Effects of greenhouse gases are not proximate to their release.

    I do not pretend to know the answer to this issue, but how precisely do you know this? Is there any scientific measurements of GHG effects in and out of CO2 producing areas? I doubt it considering the entire basis of GHG theory are computer models rather than direct testing. Notionally, CO2 emissions do not immediately dissipate across the globe and would logically concentrate where they are emitted on an ongoing basis.

    The US represents about 2% of global surface area (as the NASA guys point out in the long string of emails to which you linked earlier). So it will take a much larger temperature change before one would expect it to be statistically significant in this small subset of the data.

    This assertion contradicts your previous assertion that MMGW is an evenly spread global phenomenon.

    If MMGW is a local phenomenon, then it would logically occur first in locations like the US where man is making the most CO2.

    If MMGW is a evenly spread global phenomenon, then it would logically appear in the United States at some time over the 20th Century of measurements discussed in the NASA email.

    In both cases, NASA admitted that the temperature record does not allow them to make the determination with statistical reliability.

  77. shortchain says:

    Bart,

    Unpacking your misreadings, or incomprehension of the words you think you understand, would be a subject for a multi-year course. Let’s just take one typical example:

    “your previous assertion that MMGW is an evenly spread global phenomenon”

    Nobody said that. What they said is that AGW (don’t invent your own terms, please. Use the ones that are commonly understood) is a global phenomenon. Nobody said “evenly spread”.

    With reading comprehension like this, getting you to understand even simple science is going to be an uphill struggle. And that assumes that you would be trying.

  78. shiloh says:

    grog ~ โ€œlet Google be your friendโ€.

    Wasn’t constantly asking stupid, ad nauseam questions like you do grog, because you are intellectually lazy! Was just sayin’ if you want to debate someone, it would behoove one to provide some actual, certifiable evidence to their specious generalities …

    Best of luck as you are indeed addicted to this progressive echo chamber, eh. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Again grog, Bartles et al ~ when attempting humor, at least try to make some rational sense!

  79. dcpetterson says:

    Bart’s support of global warming deniers is a case of the blind leading the Bart. Neither he nor the people he unquestioningly believes understand the first thing about either physics or climatology — or statistics or science in general, for that matter. This being the case, it’s easy to convince him of the things he already wants to believe.

    On the other hand, it is interesting to learn how facile and uneducated the objections to global warming science truly are. Judging from the link Bart provided, the denier bloggers don’t actually have a clue — they understand about one word in five and make up the rest. Anyone who accepts their arguments is simply someone who wanted to buy the snakeoil they’re selling.

  80. Bart DePalma says:

    DC:

    Do you even have the vaguest idea of how the scientific method works? A scientist offers a hypothesis, tests the hypothesis and then offers his or her findings so that other scientists can repeat the test and confirm the findings.

    A climate computer model is simply series of hypotheses that can be summed up as follows: The addition of X tons of A, B, C etc GHGs will increase the average atmospheric temperature by Y degrees by Z year controlling for a myriad of other independent factors. It is NOT itself evidence or fact.

    The only way to test such a model is to insert real life data for the X variables and then see if the average atmospheric temperature in fact increased by Y degrees by Z year.

    Obviously, you cannot accurately test this hypothesis if you cannot accurately determine an average atmospheric temperature for the world with a statistical margin of error that is substantially less than the temperature increase you are hypothesizing. For example, if the margin of error for an average atmospheric temperature for the world over the past century is 2-3 degrees Celsius and your hypothesized CO2 forced temperature increase is only 0.6 degrees Celsius, you simply have no statistically reliable means to test your hypothesis. It would be buried in the statistical noise of the data. This is like using a poll of adults with a +/- 4% margin of error to claim that Obama’s approval among 2012 voters has risen 1% because folks are warming up to Obamacare. It is facially ridiculous.

    Then you get to the current inability to control for other variables. The most powerful factors in atmospheric temperature are solar activity, atmospheric water vapor and the interplay between the two. These have more influence over atmospheric temperatures than the manmade CO2 trace element by orders of magnitude. No honest climatologist will claim to have more than the most rudimentary understanding of how solar activity and atmospheric water vapor control temperature. Thus, no climate model can hope to control for these variables.

    This is only the beginning of the problems inherent in testing this hypothesis.

    Thus, when the IPCC claims that the AGW hypothesis is proven scientific fact with a high degree of scientific confidence and offers politically negotiated “fact” projections in order to obtain several trillion dollars in spending, it is generous to say IPCC is acting disingenuously and more accurate to state that they are perpetrating a fraud just as egregious as a Madoff ponzi scheme.

  81. drfunguy says:

    bart
    If you want to know anything about the science of global change and the evidence and its statistical significance start with the peer reviewed literature.
    I am not going to waste my time right now reviewing your guess that “the margin of error for an average atmospheric temperature for the world over the past century is 2-3 degrees Celsius”. Or the rest of your mis-informed post.

  82. Bart DePalma says:

    drfunguy says: If you want to know anything about the science of global change and the evidence and its statistical significance start with the peer reviewed literature.

    You mean like the peer reviewed prediction that the Himalayan ice pack would melt based upon an article in a hiking magazine?

    I have multiple books on my shelf and dozens of links on my website debunking this nonsense. That is why I am discussing the problems with the AGW in detail and the responses are weak claims that I lack the credentials to make a critiques in the first instance.

    My question is how the otherwise intelligent people here can claim that the AGW hypothesis is proven on any level?

  83. dcpetterson says:

    Bart, you clearly don’t understand how computer models are created, nor how the testing works that goes into them, nor how scientific results and our understandings of physics are used to go from experimental knowledge to theoretical models.

    For example, your incredibly ignorant statement

    if the margin of error for an average atmospheric temperature for the world over the past century is 2-3 degrees Celsius and your hypothesized CO2 forced temperature increase is only 0.6 degrees Celsius, you simply have no statistically reliable means to test your hypothesis.

    … proves that you don’t know anything about statistical averaging. Using thinking similar to yours, the only way Nate Silver can accurately forecast an election would be for him to actually poll 100% of Americans. As I explained previously, well-known statistical methods would effectively eliminate the noise in the data. Your uneducated assumptions here are just blather.

    Then you get to the current inability to control for other variables.

    You are free to offer evidence that climate scientists don’t take these variables into account, and don’t use other statistical averaging methods to eliminate their effects from the historical data (I think it was Michael who previously explained to you how this sort of thing works).

    I’ve already recommended that you take some reading comprehension courses and physics courses. Please add statistics to that. You’re really just making meaningless noise here.

    I have multiple books on my shelf and dozens of links on my website debunking this nonsense.

    I’m sure you do. This is where you buy your snakeoil from for resell to others. You’re not the only one uneducated in these matters.

  84. shortchain says:

    Anybody who takes what Bart says about the scientific method needs to have their head examined.

  85. shiloh says:

    Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist ought to have his head examined. ~ Samuel Goldwyn

    but, but, but some wingers are beyond medical/scientific help …

  86. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Is it possible that somebody, ANYBODY, with infinitely more patience than myself, could demonstrate ANOVA (that’s ANalysis Of VAriance, Bart) and the ability to deduce meaningful conclusions from results WITHIN margins of error using MULTIPLE tests to Mr. DePalma? His DELIBERATE ignorance on the subject of statistics is pitiful.

    Bart, let me know the next trial in which you will be participating. I really want to see if you are as lame in the courtroom as you are in making arguments here.

  87. drfunguy says:

    Bart:”You mean like the peer reviewed prediction that the Himalayan ice pack would melt based upon an article in a hiking magazine?”
    I dont grant your premise. What peer-reviewed journal published this?
    Your attempt to lecture others about the scientific method is laughable as demonstrated by your ‘hypothesis’: “The addition of X tons of A, B, C etc GHGs will increase the average atmospheric temperature by Y degrees by Z year controlling for a myriad of other independent factors”.
    You can’t begin to test a hypothesis that you can’t accurately state.
    That is why I point you to actual scientific research. Where you can learn what hypotheses actual climate scientists consider relevant.
    BTW regarding your lecturing others about the scientific method, how many publications _do_ you have? Can we safely say zero?
    Let us know when you get some reading done on the topic.
    Beyond โ€œThe blog you attached [which] is a prime example of what gives bloggers a really bad name; somebody with no idea what he is talking about is spouting absolute nonsense, making no distinctions between what is essential (the facts he conveniently omits) and what is pure noise (which he is concentrating on exclusively).โ€
    In fact it is clear that you didn’t read the 215 pages that you originally linked to from judicial watch, therefore linked to some winger blog similar to the one mentioned above. If you had actually read the NASA scientists replies to the email barrage they got about their data (and kudos to them for their patience with the ignorant blogsters) contained therein, you would be more informed than you are.

  88. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Bart does NOT want to be informed about ANYTHING that might be counter to his jaundiced worldview.

    It’s why he rationalizes instead of arguing rationally.

    It’s why he links without full knowledge that the one sentence HE chose was only a fleabite on the elephant and the remaining 199.99 pages of his link DISPROVED his out of context assertion.

    Best way to tell a lie is to tell part of the truth.” Just like the non-story of the lady from the Ag Dept over in Ga.

  89. shortchain says:

    Bart,

    Who said anything that resembles “the AGW hypothesis is proven”? Rather, we accept as a working hypothesis that the AGW theory explains the available data better than any other theory. If you have a theory that explains the available data better, publish it and watch the AGW theory dissipate. Frankly, I suspect you have nothing but regurgitated talking-points and the idiotic idea that some cherry-picked phrases taken out of context can change the scientific consensus.

    Science does not deal in “proof”, and your reference to “proven” illustrates your abysmal ignorance.

  90. Hey — I come across your site from time to time when it comes up on the Google Alert for my name. Just wanted to say it’s really cool that you all made a site to continue the conversation!

    Regards,

    Arikia (Research Assistant to Nate Silver)

  91. shiloh says:

    Arikia (Research Assistant to Nate Silver)

    Hi Arikia

    Thanx and please tell Nate it’s ok to drop by and say hello …

  92. filistro says:

    Arikia… You are one of the “People We Think Are Cool!”

    In addition to telling Nate to drop by… it would be so great if you could get him to mention us just once in a post on his new blog. There are still lost souls from the old 538 who haven’t yet found this site. They clearly miss the lively, real-time conversation that we all enjoyed in the old days, and occasionally somebody will post a pathetic little request in the comments section at the NYT for somebody to please give them the URL.

    Congratulations on the new site. Nate and the rest of you are doing wonderful work. (The election coverage was just outstanding.) We follow the new blog every day, and it generates many a lively discussion over here ๐Ÿ™‚

  93. Pingback: Made It, Ma! Top of the World! | 538 Refugees

  94. Pingback: Open Laboratory 2011 – submissions so far | A Blog Around The Clock

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