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Science

The Science Credibility Bubble 1747

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the save-me-jebus dept.
eldavojohn writes "The real fallout of climategate may have nothing to do with the credibility of climate change. Daniel Henninger thinks it's a bigger problem for the scientific community as a whole and he calls out the real problem as seen through the eyes of a lay person in an opinion piece for the WSJ. Henninger muses, 'I don't think most scientists appreciate what has hit them,' and carries on in that vein, saying, 'This has harsh implications for the credibility of science generally. Hard science, alongside medicine, was one of the few things left accorded automatic stature and respect by most untrained lay persons. But the average person reading accounts of the East Anglia emails will conclude that hard science has become just another faction, as politicized and "messy" as, say, gender studies.' While nothing interesting was found by most scientific journals, he explains that the attacks against scientists in these leaked e-mails for proposing opposite views will recall the reader to the persecution of Galileo. In doing so, it will make the lay person unsure of the credibility of all sciences without fully seeing proof of it, but assuming that infighting exists in them all. Is this a serious risk? Will people even begin to doubt the most rigorous sciences like Mathematics and Physics?"
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The Science Credibility Bubble

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  • Otzi (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Runaway1956 (1322357) * on Thursday December 10, 2009 @10:43AM (#30388600) Homepage Journal

    Otzi the Iceman says that a little global warming is welcome after 5000 years. It's almost as warm now, as when he was battling for his life.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%96tzi_the_Iceman [wikipedia.org]

  • Yes, Here's Why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lieutenant Buddha (1660501) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @10:47AM (#30388636)
    The argument from incredulity is often applied to science by the layperson. You don't need an opponent or a debate to use a logical fallacy. The fact that the Kitzmiller vs. Dover case had to happen proves that people question science regardless of it's validity.
  • by Captain Damnit (105224) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @10:48AM (#30388660)

    Didn't we see the same bloviation from the mainstream media when cold fusion went from the energy source of the future to a byword for scientific fraud? It seems to me if the reputation of hard science could survive out and out fraud like that, it will probably survive the climate change "fraud".

  • What (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tobor the Eighth Man (13061) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @10:49AM (#30388684)

    Science shouldn't be "accorded automatic stature and respect" any more than politics should. There's no reason to trust a scientist any more than you'd trust your barber.

    The problem isn't that people aren't automatically believing science, it's almost the exact opposite: people are automatically doubting science. And that's quite another thing entirely.

  • Open source (Score:5, Insightful)

    by javilon (99157) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @10:52AM (#30388718) Homepage

    Will people even begin to doubt the most rigorous sciences like Mathematics and Physics

    The answer is no. The good thing about science is that it is open source. For mathematics, you can go through all of the proofs from your text books. For physics you would need a bit of gear to reproduce some of the experiments, but again, that is just a question of money and interest.

    The basic point is that the scientific method don't expect you to accept anything without proof. If you can falsify any of the theories by experiment, people will pay attention to you, regardless of politics.

  • by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @10:53AM (#30388734) Journal
    For whatever reason, a lot of people act as if scientists don't have their own preconceived notions on how things should be, or are predisposed to a certain political agenda. The tag line is that scientists are only interested in the truth, as if scientists as a class are immune to any sort of corruption, and that consensus on an issue is the same thing as fact. Forget the fact that there's an incentive to support certain findings because that will lead to greater funding...
  • by confusednoise (596236) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @10:53AM (#30388736)
    The lay public has been mistrusting science for quite a while now. Witness the disbelief in findings regarding the lack of connection between autism and vaccines, brain cancer and cellphones and climate change.

    We're already well into the era when people doubt the motives and findings of scientists. You can see it here on /. all the time - cue all the rants about how nobody gets funding unless they parrot the party line about global warming and how doctors who support vaccinations are just puppets of Big Pharma.

    Problem is, people really believe that they can become experts on extremely complicated topics and weigh the evidence for themselves. I'm not saying we need to have blind trust in authority, but sometimes you've got to recognize that someone who studied climatology for X years might actually know a thing or two that you can't pick up from reading a blog.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 10, 2009 @10:53AM (#30388742)

    Einstein was qualified.

  • Funding (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Thursday December 10, 2009 @10:54AM (#30388744) Homepage Journal

    Who could have possibly predicted that accepting hundreds of billions of dollars from governments over the last couple of decades could have somehow politicized Science?

    -Peter

  • by rehtonAesoohC (954490) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @10:55AM (#30388772) Journal
    If people are afraid to question what we now consider laws in physics, mathematics, etc, then there will never be breakthroughs in learning.

    I mean, there are extremes, and people shouldn't be disbelieving scientists just because they're scientists, but at the same time, we shouldn't always take things at face value just because Bill Nye the Science Guy says so. There is a happy medium...
  • Change Science (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 10, 2009 @10:58AM (#30388802)

    The problem with science is the same as the problem with congress: there is too much money involved.

    Copyrighted journals, and patented research, squabbling and infighting for research grants... All of these thing have become the norm for too many scientists.

    If you want mass perception of science to change, we are going to have to reorganize scientific institutions to reflect the ideals of truth and openness, that all science is supposed to espouse.

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @10:59AM (#30388814)
    The scientific method says you follow the data wherever it leads you, not start out with a preconceived notion of what the results should be then throw out data that doesn't fit your preconceived notions and try to squelch any opposing opinions. I see this more as an object lesson in how NOT to do science. They obviously had an agenda, and they threw out raw data, keeping only their "massaged" data. All of which makes their conclusions suspect, even if they are correct. If you want to do good science that makes a difference, DON'T do shit that way! By doing so, they have hurt the very agenda they were trying to advance.
  • Sympathy troll (Score:1, Insightful)

    by mdsolar (1045926) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:00AM (#30388830) Homepage Journal
    This is just a sympathy troll seeking to get more publicity for the stolen emails. There is no damage to climate science or science here, just hooligan tactics in a coordinated propaganda effort that includes break-ins around the globe. Science can't be hurt by such racketeering since it does not seek to deceive, it is another game altogether.
  • Re:What (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:00AM (#30388844)

    I'm certain that people believe it when a spacecraft launches, or their new TV is even thinner.

    Thing is, do they even realise that is science?

    In their mind science is a term for the fuzzy stuff that they read about in the papers - like is a glass of wine good or bad for you? Are potatoes/fish/eggs/etc good or bad for you? And all the U-turns since. Science is the word they associate with anything that goes wrong or seems to be a stupid waste of money to research.

    The media has propagated this view of science, because journalists could never hack the subjects themselves, and they just want to get their own back on those people who could do it.

  • by Lieutenant Buddha (1660501) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:01AM (#30388852)
    Newtonian Mechanics are valid, just not as accurate as Relativity. Relativity is, in essence, a more accurate version of Newtonian Mechanics. It refines it, but the basic conclusions are very similar, save for extreme circumstances. Though relativity is more accurate, it's much more complicated, so most people will calculate things with N.M. It works fine at human-experienced scales, speeds and distances. Creationism is entirely different from evolution. It in no way refines the idea for more accuracy, it just throws the whole damn concept out the window and says "We know, and we're right because we said so." And it should be noted that Einstein, unlike the evolution-deniers, backed up his claims with math, logic and science, rather than just anecdotal evidence. Fact checking when you are an informed person or scientist is one thing, saying something is wrong because you don't get it and some old book told you it's wrong is entirely another, invalid, way of thinking.
  • Re:Open source (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:01AM (#30388868)

    The climategate scientists didn't seem to be very open with their sources. Deleting their original source data sounds pretty suspicious to me - not the sort of thing that gets done accidentally.

  • Re:Funding (Score:5, Insightful)

    by confusednoise (596236) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:02AM (#30388880)
    Government has been funding science for much much longer than a couple of decades.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_society [wikipedia.org]

    Just out of curiosity, if pure science is not funded by government, how should it be paid for? By private industry? Do you somehow think that we can place greater trust results of science paid for by corporations?
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:04AM (#30388916)

    It would be nice if it was that simple.

    But, at least one scientist who was going to study the validity of the ice core methodology was told that it would be immoral to undercut this important foundation for global warming and he was fired so his institute could continue to get funding.

    Science is often badly distorted for decades at a time. Long term, you can't stop the truth. But short term, money wins out.

    The journal, Science? (Nature?-- it's one of them) declared several years ago, after global warming was only a few years old and before many of the initial predictions failed, that the global warming debate was over and it was time for political action. Does that sound like the scientific method to you?

    Nature just came out and said that the emails show nothing wrong and the ends justify the means. Does that sound like the scientific method to you?

    Global warming is probably real- anthrocentric global warming is a little more in doubt.

  • by Volante3192 (953645) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:04AM (#30388918)

    sometimes you've got to recognize that someone who studied climatology for X years might actually know a thing or two that you can't pick up from reading a blog

    This.

    Happens in every field; I get it all the time supporting computers. I ask them to do something, and suddenly I'm questioned, berated, argued with, told it won't work, they've done it, yadda yadda, and when I finally get them to do it and humor me...it fixes their problem and they hang up. No apology, no thank you, and likely no realization that they don't know my field as well as I know my field.

  • Re:Open source (Score:3, Insightful)

    by canajin56 (660655) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:04AM (#30388940)
    I disagree, people already doubt Math and Physics. Honest to goodness people who reject math, saying it's just a theory, there's no such thing as 1 or 2 so 1+1=2 is meaningless babble and doesn't prove anything. They're the kind of people you see on TV, claiming to be actual scientists, saying that since either the LHC will destroy the world, or it won't, it's a 50% chance, only two options, so 50/50. There are a lot, A LOT of people who think that there's no such thing as probability, either. They say that since God designed our fates, everything meant to happen has a 100% chance, and everything else has a 0% chance. If I roll a die, and cover it up and look, maybe it says 3. So if I ask you, who doesn't see the number, what the chances are it's 3, it's 100%, because it is a 3. The fact that you can't see it can't change reality, they say!
  • Re:Open source (Score:5, Insightful)

    by monoqlith (610041) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:05AM (#30388942)

    "If you can falsify any of the theories by experiment, people will pay attention to you, regardless of politics."

    The upside to this is that science appears to hold itself to a higher standard of truth than religion and politics. The downside to this is also that science appears to hold itself to a higher standard of truth than religion and politics. Science always says first to its student: "Doubt me." It's a tough marketing job from there on out. As science has skepticism as a built-in requirement, people will always doubt its findings more than the claims of religion or the promises of politicians. Of course, science has the added benefit of being difficult to understand, much unlike the prescriptions of religion. This all creates a situation where knowledge and rational skepticism actually have no political force, and their antitheses, ignorance and hysteria, drive our political discussion.

      If people reserved nearly as much skepticism for religion as they did for science, we would live in a much more sensible world.

  • by sonnejw0 (1114901) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:05AM (#30388944)
    Climate Science is a STUDY, much like Social Studies, Political "Science", and most (but not all) fields of Psychology. You cannot experiment on Climate on the timeframes or scales these "scientists" are suggesting. You cannot produce a hypothesis, alter variables, and confirm or deny your ideas.

    Climate Studies, as it should be called, consists entirely of observation and computer modelling - a form of mathematics which is also not a science, but an art or "language".

    In 1975, American Scientist, Nature, and New York Times were publishing story after story about the imminent New Ice Age that would plunge the world into subfreezing temperatures for the next 100 years. Suddenly, 20 years later and Global Warming is all we can talk about? I don't understand. No, I do understand ... both points of view have been apparent for nearly a hundred years. Politicians and marketers just grab hold of whichever evidence they want to promote their own agenda. Sure it's possible, which is exactly why it's such a powerful weapon in the social manipulator's arsenal ... just like 9/11 denier's evidence is just plausible enough to make people believe it ... or how creationists can bend scientific discoveries just enough to gain a following.

    Sure we might be warming, just as much as we might have been cooling in the 70s. But what does it matter? We need renewable energy regardless of what the environment is doing.
  • by starglider29a (719559) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:06AM (#30388966)
    To do any useful science that hasn't already been done requires money. Money carries an agenda. Scientists who work for sponsors, including foundations, oil companies or even governments AND who disagree with the predispositions of the above are soon out of money, out of work, out of science.

    "You've never worked in the real world... they expect RESULTS!" -- Dr. Peter Venkman

    Therefore, the "tolerance stackup", a polite word for 'fudging data' will lean in the direction of the benefactor.

    If this statement is not the truth, it is certainly the perception. Convince the masses that the scientists are not supporting the suppositions of the sponsors and maybe they will trust the science again. Start by convincing me.

  • by Mitchell314 (1576581) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:06AM (#30388974)
    Couldn't be that there's just so much to know and study that we can't help but specialize?
  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:07AM (#30388994) Homepage Journal
    Will people even begin to doubt the most rigorous sciences like Mathematics and Physics?

    Some people already doubt science in general, to limit it to just math and physics belies the current trend of refusing to accept what science, in all its forms, tells us.

    Men on the moon? Nope, can't be done because of . WTC towers collapsed because of structural damage compounded by extreme temperatures? Nope, it was a government plot because . Vaccines help prevent acquisition of serious diseases? Nope, doesn't work because . Evolution? It's impossible because .

    There will always be those who will find any excuse to deny the scientific evidence. That doesn't mean one shouldn't question the evidence or how it's gathered. Rather, instead of saying, "See! They used the word 'hide' so they must be falsifying the data!", one should look at the entire context of quotes and information to see what is meant.

    Science, in all its forms, is one of those areas where there will always be discussion about something, but once someone, or some group, comes up with an explanation, their data and processes can be checked by others to see if those people get the same results. If not, go back and see what the differences were. If still failure, back to square one.

    I am reminded of the one CSI episode* where after doing all the evidence gathering, interviewing suspects and finally finding the body, the only conclusion was that the girl, upon trying to retrieve her waste can from a garbage bin, had been partially crushed between the bin and the wall when a vehicle came by and accidentally clipped the bin.

    The parents were sure their daughter was murdered and planned on hiring their own investigator to find out who killed her. Grissom remarks, "Mrs. Rycoff there is no one guilty of this."

    "Because you say so?"

    "Because the evidence says so."

    *The episode is called Chaos Theory and is one of my all-time favorite CSI shows. Right up there with Fur and Loathing (the plushy and furry convention episode).
  • by zz5555 (998945) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:09AM (#30389016)
    But the questioning needs to be done intelligently. Most of the questioning that came about from climategate has seemed to come from people that either don't understand science or (and I think this is more likely) don't want to understand it.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:09AM (#30389024) Homepage

    This has always been a problem and there has probably never been a time when politics and/or religion did not have inappropriate influence over scientific research.

    Some (lay) people see science as a religion in and of itself having its own agenda. This is a failure in the sense that since attempts to deal with understanding the most absolute reality possible and tries to be impartial to any particular point of view. (Let's not get into the politics within science itself, I know it exists, but let's stick with idealism for a moment while I make my point.) In politics and religion, there is a propensity to believe "if you're not with us, you are against us" sort of ideas and so when data that is unfavorable to their position emerges, they tend to respond to it as if it were an enemy rather than a new facet of reality. (Fighting an enemy is one thing. Fighting reality is another!)

    All science is to be doubted and disputed. This is part of how things work. However, lay people see a doubting of science as a problem of trust or faith because they know of no other context in which to process falsified or incorrect scientific data. While it was a tremendous disservice to the whole scientific community to have "climategate" surface, it is not as big of a problem within the community as it is outside of the community.

    It would be really nice if people were able to acquire the simple understanding of what science is and is not and how it should be treated. The public knows that the weatherman is not always accurate but must always be depended upon nevertheless. The public knows that the weatherman does not control the weather and only reports his observations and renders predictions based on those observations. The public, in general understands and appreciates this correctly and fully. What the public needs to do, then, is expand this understanding to ALL of science and not just meteorology.

  • by ndogg (158021) <the.rhorn@gmaiIIIl.com minus threevowels> on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:10AM (#30389038) Homepage Journal

    When there are people that espouse creationism, and that vaccines cause autism, it's obvious a lot of lay people didn't respect science before. How different can it be now?

    Somewhere in hell, Jenny McCarthy, and William Dembski are going at it like rabbits. Their offspring will be the ultimate creature of evil.

  • Re:Yes, Here's Why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ground.zero.612 (1563557) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:11AM (#30389060)

    The argument from incredulity is often applied to science by the layperson. You don't need an opponent or a debate to use a logical fallacy. The fact that the Kitzmiller vs. Dover case had to happen proves that people question science regardless of it's validity.

    It wouldn't be real science without real skepticism. A theory should remain a theory until it can stand up the to the scrutiny of skepticism.

  • by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:11AM (#30389068) Homepage Journal

    Lately, I just see a bunch of power-hungry assholes doing their utmost to discredit intelligent thought and dumb-down the world around them, so they can continue on an unimpeded path toward greater assholism.

    You're right. That's why technology has stood still since 1968. Obvious, really.

  • by openfrog (897716) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:13AM (#30389084)

    The Wall Street Journal is part of Rupert Murdoch media empire. That's a first point to note.

    Secondly, with a title like 'Climategate: Science Is Dying", one can surmise that the object of this article is not an objective reflection over the topic, but just to lay a bit more confusion at the opening of the Copenhagen summit.

    And if there is any analogy with Watergate, it is that both stories are about spies breaking in places.

    It is true that science is under attack, like it has been in the past when scientists discoveries unsettled vested interests. We are more awed by science for the way it won over organized ignorance, not less.

  • by Shivetya (243324) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:13AM (#30389090) Homepage Journal

    That is the crux of this problem. There are thousands of "Climatologist" yet we cannot agree which one is right.

    you used some of the same wording that many used to justify their connectedness. Its too complex for the average Joe to understand, let alone those loons on the .

    What this event did was expose the truth that yes, some of those involved do operate from an agenda. Worse are those acting as if there is no issue at all which only furthers increases public distrust.

    So again, who do we trust? I certainly know a few names I won't trust anymore.

  • by NotBornYesterday (1093817) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:13AM (#30389098) Journal
    Excellent comparison. The difference I see is that in the case of cold fusion, the scientific critique and exposure as fraud was done within the science community. If anything, this proved that rigorous science was robust and the community could correct itself, much like an unjust verdict overturned on appeal proves the legal system works. In the AGW debate, the publicized emails create the appearance that powerful people in the scientific community stifled the dissent, open debate, and peer review that might cast doubt on their views.

    So, the main difference is not that scientists might be proved wrong or fraudulent, since that happens from time to time and is proof that the system works. The problem here is that the system itself is alleged to be rigged.
  • by DangerFace (1315417) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:14AM (#30389112) Journal

    Einstein questioned "valid" laws of science and look what it got him.

    Indeed I shall - it got him a series of logical arguments with which to dispute the wisdom of the time. Gradually, through debate and observation and experimentation, more and more people realised he had made a series of logical points that disproved the old ways of doing things.

    Let us compare this to the argument from incredulity - the equivalent would have been Einstein saying, "But I don't understand it! How does it work? No, look, see, the feather and the hammer land at different times! Ha! Scientists are dumb!" in which case I doubt he would have quite the same status in the history books.

  • by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:14AM (#30389118) Homepage Journal

    They obviously had an agenda, and they threw out raw data, keeping only their "massaged" data.

    They threw out the data 25 years ago -- long before the majority of these scientists had any agenda at all, besides getting laid, because it was on magnetic tape and punch cards, and they were moving buildings. But hey, don't let a few facts interfere with your conspiracy theory.

  • Re:What (Score:4, Insightful)

    by QuantumPion (805098) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:15AM (#30389126)

    I would argue that people don't know when to doubt, and when to believe.

    Which scientists do they believe when it comes to Autism and vaccines? Which scientist to believe when it comes to global warming? It is just they have more insight into the infighting that is present into the community now.

    The infighting has ALWAYS been there. When I was in graduate school I never saw a larger bunch of petty people whining over who was the bigger fish in there tiny ponds.

    You believe the theory that has observations to prove it works. Not the scientist. Pretty simple if you ask me.

  • Re:What (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 5KVGhost (208137) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:15AM (#30389138)

    The problem isn't that people aren't automatically believing science, it's almost the exact opposite: people are automatically doubting science.

    People aren't doubting science, necessarily. They're just not as ready to accept everything a scientist claim is "science". Some scientists don't like this, preferring to think themselves above such elementary barriers of trust. That's too bad for them.

    Doubt is good. Healthy skepticism is a sign of maturity and intellectual involvement.

  • by stevelinton (4044) <sal@dcs.st-and.ac.uk> on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:17AM (#30389176) Homepage

    Why do you assume that liberals don't understand reality and you do? Maybe their theories are more accurate and complete than yours.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:18AM (#30389194)

    Every criticism of them has been answered,

    Q: Can we see the data?
    A: No, we lost it.

    Q: Can we see the algorithms?
    A: No, they're proprietary.

    See, we've answered all your criticisms. Now go away.

  • by MillenneumMan (932804) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:21AM (#30389244)

    The best way to restore healthy debate on climate change science is to open source everything...the data, the source code for the computer models, and the methodology for how the data is collected: specific locations of data collection (is it a rural area, a parking lot in a city, on a school roof, in direct sunlight or in the shade), date and time of day (noon, midnight, 5pm), weather conditions at the time it is collected (sunny, raining, under a snow drift), age of the equipment (mercury thermometer installed in 1953 or digital sensor device). All of these factors would influence a simple temperature reading. Heck there are probably dozens of other factors that I am not considering.

    Since our government is PAYING for so much of this research it should be no problem to PUBLISH all of these details and let everyone debate from a common framework. However, I believe our government has an agenda and therefore won't ever take such a logical approach.

    While we are at it, let's do the same thing for how inflation, unemployment, public health statistics, education metrics, and poverty rates are calculated.

  • by anorlunda (311253) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:21AM (#30389248) Homepage

    The WSJ article understates the problem. The Climategate emails reveal that the partisan scientists have undermined the peer review process itself. It can only be made right be re-peer-reviewing all climate papers re-submitted in the past 20 years. Some rejected should not have been and some accepted should not have been.

    One can't help be reminded that while peer-review is the right hand, grant-review is the left. If the peer review is undermined then so isn't the awards of money.

    Climate debate aside, we need to invent news ways to do review of papers and grants that is not totally dependent on self-policing of scientists. Any suggestions?

  • Re:Open source (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Volante3192 (953645) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:21AM (#30389256)

    NASA destroyed old tapes of data too.

    Why? Because back in the days storage space was a premium. There just wasn't the room. Someone made an executive decision to make more space and they decided to get rid of the raw data.

    Not saying this is what happened to the climate data, but sometimes shit happens. This isn't stuff people consider historic, so while we'll go out of our way to save Terabytes of White House email because it's instantly an historic record (...the ones that still exist *snort*) no one gives a poop about the raw data on the mytosis of genetic material in the Burandan Sea Slug.

  • Re:Yes, Here's Why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by liquiddark (719647) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:23AM (#30389276)
    There's a difference between skepticism and uninformed judgement with a preexisting bias.
  • Re:What (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:23AM (#30389280) Homepage Journal

    Healthy skepticism is a sign of maturity and intellectual involvement.

    This is "healthy skepticism" in the same way that believing that God created Man and Woman within the last 10,000 years is a "healthy skepticism about evolution". Skepticism requires an awareness and weighting of the evidence. Denialism and dogmatism don't.

  • by Jawn98685 (687784) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:23AM (#30389284)

    For whatever reason, a lot of people act as if scientists don't have their own preconceived notions on how things should be, or are predisposed to a certain political agenda. The tag line is that scientists are only interested in the truth, as if scientists as a class are immune to any sort of corruption, and that consensus on an issue is the same thing as fact. Forget the fact that there's an incentive to support certain findings because that will lead to greater funding...

    [citation needed]

  • Re:Yes, Here's Why (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kythe (4779) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:24AM (#30389298)

    The reason that climate change has been resisted and argued by so many, for so long, is exactly this. We do not trust the people interpreting this for us at the national level.

    I wish. What I see instead is a large number of credulous people who believe whatever certain pundits tell them is the best way to screw with liberals.

  • Re:Funding (Score:5, Insightful)

    by qmaqdk (522323) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:25AM (#30389328)

    Who could have possibly predicted that accepting hundreds of billions of dollars from governments over the last couple of decades could have somehow politicized Science?

    -Peter

    For some reason people have a very romantic view of what it means to be a scientist. They seem to think that the scientists just pocket the money they get. All of it goes to research, i.e. salaries for post-docs, phd students, etc. (of the not Ferrari-driving nor private jet flying kind), equipment, and conference expenses. And it is expensive do to science.

    But until you see scientists buying private jets, yachts and arrive at the university in Bugatti Veyrons, I suggest you calm down.

  • by khallow (566160) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:26AM (#30389340)

    The worst bits in that email dump are petty squabbles between researchers and critics.

    Then you haven't been paying attention. The worst problems are evading a legitimate FOIA request, coercing journals to not publish the works of "skeptics", and excluding "skeptic" literature from the IPCC record. Those aren't "petty" scrabbles due to the stakes involved.

  • Re:Ummm. No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zippthorne (748122) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:26AM (#30389348) Journal

    We tried that with the state lottery system. It turns out that most people can't understand statistics, and if they could, we wouldn't be able to afford the schools that don't teach it.

  • by Kythe (4779) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:26AM (#30389350)

    In the AGW debate, the publicized emails create the appearance that powerful people in the scientific community stifled the dissent, open debate, and peer review that might cast doubt on their views.

    Perhaps "excerpts from a few cherry-picked stolen emails, sometimes taken out of context" might be a more accurate description.

  • by Peter Trepan (572016) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:29AM (#30389392)
    Anyone who gives up on science because of this trifling matter is welcome to go back to the dark ages and live their short, wholesome, science-free life.

    The problem is that in a democratic system, they have the power to take the rest of us into the dark ages with them.
  • Re:Open source (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DangerFace (1315417) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:29AM (#30389408) Journal
    Please don't insult those of us who actually like science - these guys were not and are not scientists. They're just some people with university-level education and a load of fancy gadgets. No scientist would ever - ever - delete raw data, at least without a gun to his or her head.
  • Re:Yes, Here's Why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:29AM (#30389412)

    There has never been, nor ought their [sic] be, an automatic trust of anything, including science

    "Automatic" trust? Perhaps not. "General" trust? Yes.

    We generally 'trust' science thousands of times per today. This morning I went into a man-made 'cave' deep in the ground and got on the subway. The 'cave' didn't fall in and the subway didn't crash. The subway train didn't have a 'driver' - It was automatic and operated by a computer. I listened to my mp3 player and trusted everything.

    Two weeks ago I let my doctor inject two different kinds of vaccines into my arm.

    I could go on and on with examples, but the bottom line is I trust science and the mechanisms that are put in place by scientists (engineers, doctors et al) to accredit each other - And I trust these people orders of magnitude more than Palinesque drones who believe some kind of flying spaghetti monster made the world 6,000 years ago and that Fred Flintsone lived with Triceratops.

  • by Benfea (1365845) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:31AM (#30389444)

    ...we can conclude that everyone who questions science is right and scientists are always wrong?

    The Flat Earth Society will be very happy to hear this. So will the vast herds of quacks who pester scientists with ridiculous claims (and they are legion, I assure you).

    Climategate only proves that the conservolibertarians are capable of manufacturing controversies out of nothing. There is no difference between "Climategate" and the "War on Christmas" or the supposed conspiracy run by "Darwinist evilutionists".

  • by eeek77 (1041634) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:32AM (#30389458)
    The reason why this has blown up into a huge deal is because the powers from on high are getting set to work out some sort of deal that will place on enormously burdensome tax on the major CO2 producing countries with lots of money (read - the USA). This tax (or whatever you want to call it) is based on this climate data and the interpretations of today's climatologists. And this tax would be imposed during a very difficult and widespread economic recession.

    Any time you take away someone's hard-earned money, it becomes a big deal.
  • by orthancstone (665890) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:33AM (#30389468)

    Doubt is good. Healthy skepticism is a sign of maturity and intellectual involvement.

    Healthy skepticism is good when the skeptic understands the underlying ideas that go into the subject matter. If they don't understand the basics of, say, scientific theory, they aren't intellectually involved in the first place. That's a relevant issue with many lay people.

  • Re:Yes, Here's Why (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:36AM (#30389558)

    A theory should remain a theory until it can stand up the to the scrutiny of skepticism.

    Wrong.

    A theory should remain a theory only as long as it can stand up the to the scrutiny of skepticism.

  • by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:37AM (#30389570)

    If the Pythagorean Theorem required an increase in taxes people would start to doubt it. There was an interesting research paper in which conservatives were given a news article which outlined a study with evidence for humans being responsible for global warming. At the end of the article they either appended a paragraph explaining possible regulation and taxation solutions or a paragraph suggesting that we needed increased Nuclear Power to solve the problem.

    Those who read that the solution was taxes were more likely to doubt the validity of the science than those conservatives who read the article with no mention of increased taxes but instead read about Nuclear power.

    The problem with climate change science at this point isn't the science it's that the solutions go against conservative values.

    "Liberals are trying to take over the world through fascism. Global Warming increases taxes and gives the government increased control over our lives. Therefore Global Warming is an eco-fascist plot to take away freedom and control us." The science doesn't actually matter one way or the other.

    The real lesson of Galileo wasn't that science will persecute those it feels are heretics. It's that you can't change the minds of those who base their scientific conclusions not on empiricism and research but on whether or not it threatens completely unrelated personal beliefs.

    We might not have perfect models or understand every nuance of climate change but we have pretty good research on the larger points. Challenges to climate change are similar to those against Evolution. "There is no way to know what really happened 100k years ago, because we can't trust proxy data or radio-isotope testing.", "Scientists don't completely understand the underlying mechanisms or why it's happened in the past or when exactly it'll happen in the future.", "There isn't enough time to do real studies since the time frames are so large.", "This is just a liberal plot to destroy our country and fill our children's minds with pseudo science." "It's a modern day religion.", "The scientists are suppressing dissent and withholding their data." "The science isn't settled." "So-and-so admitted that they have huge gaps in their understanding and that it's frustrating to not know X one way or the other."

  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:37AM (#30389574)

    Once you've tagged an entire class of people as untrustworthy because of the basic fact of them being employed, you are incapable of engaging in any relevant discussion about the topic without redoing everything yourself.

    Since I'm pretty sure you don't have an LHC in your backyard or your own temperature satellite in orbit, it means that you have two options when talking about science: shut up, or make crap up. And again, judging from the fact you're posting in this story, I'm pretty sure you are not prone to silence.

    It's people like you that are ruining the US.

  • Re:What (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jesup (8690) * <randellslashdot@nOspAM.jesup.org> on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:40AM (#30389646) Homepage
    You believe the theory that has observations to prove it works. Not the scientist. Pretty simple if you ask me.

    That's fine, if you can read the papers, and read the papers confirming (or not) the observations, etc. For example, with the whole autism/vaccine kerfluffle, the original paper by a British doctor has been debunked, and apparently he made up and/or mis-represented his data. Plus various doctors (which the public conflates with scientists, which is sometimes true and sometimes not) make all sorts of claims, often based not on scientific methods or verifiable proof, but instead on personal opinion/experience and a few particular cases they've seen. The problem is that it's way to easy to jump to an unwarranted conclusion, or to do what humans are all too good at - picking facts that support what we already believe or want to believe.

    The public has little or no understanding of how science works (even many non-scientist academics don't). Combine that with the modern media's preference to not interpret, but instead present all points-of-view as equivalent (or to prefer certain points-of-view based on politics), and it's easy to see how the public can reach the belief that science is just opinion too - that you can pick who to agree with, based on what you want to be true.

  • by jcupitt65 (68879) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:40AM (#30389648)

    In 1975, American Scientist, Nature, and New York Times were publishing story after story about the imminent New Ice Age that would plunge the world into subfreezing temperatures for the next 100 years.

    That's not true, please check your sources again. Some pop sci pieces on the subject appeared, but no serious scientist ever claimed that a new Ice Age was imminent.

    You can read about the history of the 1970s global cooling scare on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_cooling [wikipedia.org]

    Here's Newsweek talking about its own coverage of the issue, and quoting William Connolley:

    The point to remember, says Connolley, is that predictions of global cooling never approached the kind of widespread scientific consensus that supports the greenhouse effect today.

    From http://www.newsweek.com/id/72481 [newsweek.com]

    And finally here's Connolley himself:

    Was an imminent Ice Age predicted in the '70's? No. If you can find me a reference saying otherwise, I'll put it here.

    From http://www.wmconnolley.org.uk/sci/iceage [wmconnolley.org.uk]

  • Quoting Sagan (Score:3, Insightful)

    by heidaro (1392977) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:41AM (#30389666)
    "We wish to pursue the truth no matter where it leads. But to find the truth, we need imagination and skepticism both. We will not be afraid to speculate, but we will be careful to distinguish speculation from fact..." "If you are only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you On the other hand, if you are open to the point of gullibility and have not an ounce of skeptical sense in you, then you cannot distinguish the useful ideas from the worthless ones." Then again he spoke for rather than against global warming. But he makes a damn good point. Everyone is demanding that the world be gullible and people who (healthily) doubt things are apparently terrible individuals. This is not what science is about.
  • by JWW (79176) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:41AM (#30389670)

    You are correct. In fact the actual data is better to use than the tree ring proxy data. BUT the tree ring proxy data is trending downward when temperatures are going up. This means that there is something fundamentally wrong with the calculation of a proxy temperature from tree ring data from 1960 on. However, if the tree ring data cannot determine correct temperature proxies over the last 40 years, then what is the quality of all the other proxy temperatures calculated from tree ring data over the last 1000 years?

    In other words if the tree ring temperature proxy values are wrong now, then they're probably wrong then.

    What does this mean? It means that the logical conclusion is that they are still using the tree ring data to determine proxy temperatures because is produces a result they desire. That result is the elimination of the Medieval Warm Period from the climate record.

    The reason for eliminating the MWP is all about having the ability to use the word "unprecedented". Our current release of CO2 may be causing harm, and may require action, but the climate scientists apparently felt they needed more. If the MWP shows temperatures have been as high as they are now in the fairly recent (geologically speaking) past, then maybe the current change isn't due to CO2 but is due to some other factor. They did not want that question to exist. The warming had to be unprecedented in order to be "certain" that the warming was man made.

    Hiding the decline was all about making sure that the graphs didn't show temperature trending up when the tree ring proxy temps were heading down. It doesn't matter how you parse out the e-mails what they did here is wrong and it is FRAUD and it did a great disservice to science.

  • Re:Funding (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CannonballHead (842625) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:42AM (#30389684)
    That's why IBM, Microsoft, etc., have such small R&D departments, of course.
  • by NFN_NLN (633283) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:44AM (#30389716)

    That would be a truly welcome change.

    "[This] will make the lay person unsure of the credibility of ALL sciences without fully seeing proof of it..."

    Tada, that's how science is SUPPOSE to work. Don't blindly follow anyone including scientists without quantitative and reproducible proof. Science isn't a religion, it's a fact. YOU ARE ENCOURAGED, NAY REQUIRED TO QUESTION SCIENCE in order for it to prosper.

    On a secondary note the same thing applies to government.. but that is a different rant.

  • by phantomcircuit (938963) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:45AM (#30389734) Homepage

    Yes some of the emails happened to be more interesting than the others. Would people stop trying to pretend like each and every email must indicate fraud for there to be any fraud?

  • by Le Marteau (206396) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:45AM (#30389742) Journal

    two words - Sarah Palin.

    how exactly is she *qualified* in *any* respect to comment on this?

    I'll see your two words and raise you one: "... and Al Gore"

  • by pz (113803) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:45AM (#30389752) Journal

    Problem is, people really believe that they can become experts on extremely complicated topics and weigh the evidence for themselves.

    This is a serious problem. On the one hand, a democratic society holds that each member can and should act independently, weighing the factors that they find personally important, to come to vital decisions. On the other hand, most people are ignorant on nearly every subject, and lack the means, ability, incentive, or time to become expert on each subject as it comes along. Making medical decisions is one of the most important examples of this. When presented with a treatment for a condition, who among us can really make an informed decision? Are we ever even given the proper tools to make decisions (such as percentages of success, side-effect, and failure for the treatment, practioner, or hospital? Hardly. Instead we have FUD like, "OMFG they're putting POISON in vaccines." I work in neuroscience research at a big hospital, and *I* don't know why thimerisol is used as a standard preservative in multi-dose vials of H1N1 vaccine. I don't even know how much mercury would end up being in a standard dose of a vaccine, or if that is enough to cause neurological issues long-term. If I'm in the same general field, and I don't have the proper tools to evaluate the risks, how possibly can the general public?

    Right. They can't. Not possible; not even remotely possible. It would take a motivated, highly educated person with a lot of money to pay for scientific articles (they aren't by-and-large free except when you have a university affiliation), and lost of time to comb through stacks and stacks of papers in order to make an informed decision about one treatment. This is a barrier to knowledge that is not realistic. Expecting the lay person to make good, informed decisions is a joke. Expecting that the lay person can understand the myriad of complexities about climate change when the very idea of a static climate is demonstrably bogus is nothing more than political propaganda.

    So, people have been brainwashed into thinking they can become experts on any subject in a few short minutes (witness all of the "well, why dont' they just do ..." comments on Slashdot where readers who are familiar with a subject for the time it takes to read a condensed summary presume to be able to second guess experts who have devoted their lives to a particular field). They clearly cannot do this, and nothing is going to get any better in that regard as science and technology continue to make astonishing advances. We, the scientists, must therefore be absolutely certain and vigilant about promulgating only truth, and fighting propaganda at every turn.

    I am not a climate scientist. I am not a geologist. I have friends who are, and from my second-hand understanding of anthropogenic climate change, no one really understands what is going on. Sure, there's some evidence for anthropogenic climate changes (like the ozone hole over Antarctica), but *I* lack the skills and knowledge to understand the issues. So when I hear Al Gore saying things like, "we dump billions of tons of CO2 into our thin atmosphere like it was a sewer," it makes me angry that anyone is listening to that drivel at all. He might be right, anthropogenic CO2 may be a really, really big problem, but delivering that message with distortions and distractions that make the Soviet propaganda machine appear tame in comparison, ultimately is doing far more harm than good.

    Blind trust in authority is bad. But so is what we have now where fear, uncertainty and doubt determines what the public thinks.

  • by buswolley (591500) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:46AM (#30389762) Journal
    Yeah, the credibility will be gone, as the public turn on their TVs, start their cars, play with the internet, put on their deoderant, enjoy their heart medicine...effing scientists..
  • Re:Open source (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:46AM (#30389772)

    "Shit happens"? Really? That's good enough is it? The original data from which contentious conclusions were made that might cause monumental changes to the whole world - and it got deleted. Shit happens.

    Sorry, that's just a load of bollocks - that data ought to be available for anyone to see, and to do their own analyses - there is NO legitimate reason not to archive it in this day and age, and the fact they were so cavalier with their original data, doesn't speak well of their conclusions.

  • Re:What (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:47AM (#30389790)

    You believe the theory that has observations to prove it works. Not the scientist. Pretty simple if you ask me.

    This is often hopeless as it often requires you yourself to be a scientist in the area to be able to tell which theory has the better grounding.

  • by snowwrestler (896305) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:50AM (#30389842)

    Real skepticism provides criteria by which it can be satisfied. Unchanging skepticism in the face of evidence is not scientific.

  • by Bakkster (1529253) <.Bakkster.man. .at. .gmail.com.> on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:51AM (#30389876)

    So, the main difference is not that scientists might be proved wrong or fraudulent, since that happens from time to time and is proof that the system works. The problem here is that the system itself is alleged to be rigged.

    Within the academic community, you have the same problem in both of these cases: inability to repeat the experiment. With Cold Fusion, you can't get the same results when you follow the experimental procedure. That's failed science. With the global warming 'scandal', you have a few scientists who are the only ones with access to the raw temperature data. There is no independent analysis of the data, meaning the statistics (and released data) can be tweaked or cherry-picked until the authors get results they want. Without independent analysis repeating their results, that's failed science as well.

    The issue is when other studies are based off of the 'groomed' data, rather than the raw measurements. We need to take their word that the data wasn't cherry-picked to seem hotter, and nobody can independently verify that it wasn't. That makes it easy to dismiss the findings, and makes it hell for those who want to study the phenomenon. It's too important not to verify.

    The other problem is that a layperson (or even many scientists) wouldn't know if it was rigged or not. For the layperson, we see news articles that say "In a research paper published in Nature...", and nobody gets to read the paper. So the average person is told "take our word for it", which doesn't do much to combat rumors of poor science. Without people who are science-literate (though perhaps not PhD scientists) being able to read the paper, see that it is sound, and tell their non-scientific friends why, it will always appear like a bunch of hand-waving.

  • by aplusjimages (939458) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:52AM (#30389900) Journal
    No doubt. There are more important things to focus on like Tiger Woods and his lady issues.
  • by paiute (550198) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:53AM (#30389922)

    “Certain results of observational cosmology cast critical doubt on the foundations of standard cosmology but leave most cosmologists untroubled. Alternative cosmological models that differ from the Big Bang have been published and defended by heterodox scientists; however, most cosmologists do not heed these. This may be because standard theory is correct and all other ideas and criticisms are incorrect, but it is also to a great extent due to sociological phenomena such as the ‘snowball effect’ or ‘groupthink’. We might wonder whether cosmology, the study of the Universe as a whole, is a science like other branches of physics or just a dominant ideology.”

    —Martin Lopez-Corredoira, astrophysicist.

    That is so retarded it needs to wear a helmet. The way to get ahead in science, if you want to really make your mark, is to kill the darling theories of your elders in a hail of factual bullets. Scientists are like sharks and lame hypotheses are blood in the water.

  • Re:qualified? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sharkeys-Day (25335) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:53AM (#30389924) Homepage

    Einstein was completely unknown and did not even have a doctorate when he published his 1905 papers on special relativity, brownian motion, and the photoelectric effect.

    And it was many years before his theories were generally accepted, especially by some of the older physicists.

    It's difficult to overcome scientific dogma at any time. To get his doctorate, Einstein had to write an unimportant, very forgettable paper which didn't challenge any of his professors' preconceptions.

  • by TheAlkymyst (1695930) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:56AM (#30389982)

    But how do you explain all this to your average Sarah Palin follower? That's the scientists' conundrum here.

    An effective way to start is to not insult them. Maybe rather than thinking that a college level education is what is needed, why don't you try and describe it in a manner that anybody at an 8th grade level could grasp? You might get a more welcome and understanding response than by being an elitist prick.

  • by 1%warren (78514) <<wardon> <at> <xtra.co.nz>> on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:57AM (#30390012) Homepage
    The intelligent questions are at http://climateaudit.org/ [climateaudit.org] . Most of the trouble that came about from climategate has come from them not being answered.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:58AM (#30390026)

    Yeah, the credibility will be gone, as the public turn on their TVs, start their cars, play with the internet, put on their deoderant, enjoy their heart medicine...effing scientists..

    Credibility can be misplaced without ever disappearing. It doesn't need to be either "fully present" or "gone" like some kind of light switch though it must seem that way to someone who limits himself to "either-or" thinking. So far as I know, no one is arguing that science has not done useful things.

    The real question is this. If you had very good, high-quality evidence that something is seriously wrong with the fundamental theories of a scientific field, would those scientists within that field welcome this news and be glad for a chance to question and reform their theories, or, would they refuse to publish your papers and ridicule you and treat you like a religious heretic? Apparently global warming and cosmology are two fields where you would experience the latter and not the former. I think S.J. Gould put it best when he described science as a "gutsy human enterprise":

    My message is not that biological determinists were bad scientists or even that they were always wrong. Rather, I believe that science must be understood as a social phenomenon, a gutsy, human enterprise, not the work of robots programmed to collect pure information. I also present this view as an upbeat for science, not as a gloomy epitaph for a noble hope sacrificed on the altar of human limitations.

    I believe that a factual reality exists and that science, though often in an obtuse and erratic manner, can learn about it. Galileo was not shown the instruments of torture in an abstract debate about lunar motion. He had threatened the Church's conventional argument for social and doctrinal stability: the static world order with planets circling about a central earth, priests subordinate to the Pope and serfs to their lord. But the Church soon made its peace with Galileo's cosmology. They had no choice; the earth really does revolve about the sun.

  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:59AM (#30390046)

    Climate Science is a STUDY, much like Social Studies, Political "Science", and most (but not all) fields of Psychology. You cannot experiment on Climate on the timeframes or scales these "scientists" are suggesting. You cannot produce a hypothesis, alter variables, and confirm or deny your ideas. Climate Studies, as it should be called, consists entirely of observation and computer modelling - a form of mathematics which is also not a science, but an art or "language".

    No. Climate science works on similar timescales as evolution and both biologists and climatologists would be shocked to hear that they can't formulate a hypothesis, make predictions and attempt to disprove them. That's exactly what they do. You seem to have a very naíve idea of what an experiment is - that stuff the chemists do in the labcoats right? Climate science produces testable predictions both for our current future and starting from past points to arrive at conclusions about our past. Climate scientists made predictions based on a theory about past climate, before knowing what the past climate looked like, then someone actually came up with a way of measuring the past climate. That's predictive value. Evolutionary biologists do the same, please read Richard Dawkins' latest book "The greatest show on earth" for a robust overview how evolution is based on testable ideas.

    In 1975, American Scientist, Nature, and New York Times were publishing story after story about the imminent New Ice Age that would plunge the world into subfreezing temperatures for the next 100 years. Suddenly, 20 years later and Global Warming is all we can talk about? I don't understand. No, I do understand ... both points of view have been apparent for nearly a hundred years. Politicians and marketers just grab hold of whichever evidence they want to promote their own agenda. Sure it's possible, which is exactly why it's such a powerful weapon in the social manipulator's arsenal ... just like 9/11 denier's evidence is just plausible enough to make people believe it ... or how creationists can bend scientific discoveries just enough to gain a following.

    At no time in the past 100 years did the scientific consensus suggest that there would be imminent global cooling. There were some (one?) article that suggested global cooling in the 70s and the mainstream press run with it. It is also pretty well known that climate is cyclic and "imminent" in climate science might mean 10 thousands years. There was also a valid view that aerosol pollution would cause "global dimming" and reduce temperatures slightly. We fixed that problem by banning a lot of those pollutants in the 70s thus _averted_ the problem. There wasn't any serious following for "global cooling" among scientists in the past 100 years. You are exaggerating extremely heavily. Comparing climate science to 9/11 theories or creationists is disingenius. It reminds me of that Monty Python sketch about "what did the Romans ever gave us...". You have to realize that a lot of things in your life depend on the scientists and the scientific consensus getting it right. There would be no internet, computing industry, aviation, etc. without scientific base research in a lot of these areas. Science, it works.

  • by jadavis (473492) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:06PM (#30390154)

    The problem with climate change science at this point isn't the science it's that the solutions go against conservative values.

    Science doesn't come up with "solutions", (or problems, for that matter) it comes up with theories. It's up to engineers, economists, and politicians to define the implications of a theory as problems, and come up with solutions.

    And that's where most of the debate lies: the more specifically we try to define the problem and solution, the more confident we need to be in the more specific theories. But we simply aren't confident in climate theories that have any specificity. A lot of people may agree that "more CO2 means warmer", but without more specific predictions and confidence nobody is going to agree on the problem or the solution.

    There's nothing wrong with being skeptical of a politician's "solutions", because there's a lot of judgment required between a scientific theory and a political "solution". Especially when the "solutions" all seem to involve more money and power for all of the scientists and politicians involved (and businesses, like Al Gore's).

  • by thtrgremlin (1158085) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:07PM (#30390172) Homepage Journal
    Just curious, based on your argument, how are you qualified to say who is and is not qualified to have a valid opinion on AGW/ACC?
  • Re:What (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Daniel_Staal (609844) <DStaal@usa.net> on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:12PM (#30390302)

    Great. Now, who's set of observations do you trust? And who's analysis of those observations?

    Doing the observations and analyzing them is a specialized skill, and quite often these days takes complicated and expensive equipment.

    So we still have to trust the scientists to tell us what they've observed, so we can tell which scientists to trust.

  • by binary paladin (684759) <binarypaladin.gmail@com> on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:13PM (#30390318)

    The thing I find most amusing is that scientists used to be branded as heretics. Now certain groups of them are going the branding.

    When it comes to climate change, for instance, I can't simply find myself agreeing with an alternate hypothesis. Nope. I'm one of those "deniers" as if I was some kind of Jew murdering Nazi or something. Which, you know, is a really healthy way to handle the whole discussion.

  • by Jiro (131519) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:13PM (#30390328)

    Here's another spin on that: the idea of taking huge measures to stop climate change comes mostly from the left. Since it comes from the left, it becomes suspicious when the suggested measures happen to match the policy goals of the left.

    If the measures we are supposed to take include things which don't match left-wing policies, it's more likely that the claims are genuine, because there's much less of a motive to exaggerate or be overconfident (or to distort or lie).

    You can bet that if a left-winger says that global warming is so bad that he wants nuclear power, he's sincere about it. If he says that global warming is so bad that he wants taxes and regulation, he could be sincere, but might be using the global warming as an excuse, since he wants those things anyway.

    It's a type of conflict of interest. People are more trustworthy when they say you should do things that don't match their other goals, than when they say you should do things that do. It's really not surprising.

  • Re:What (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hythlodaeus (411441) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:16PM (#30390370)

    Doubt is good. Healthy skepticism is a sign of maturity and intellectual involvement.

    Now if only the people doubting science weren't turning to creationism/fundamentalism/angels/aliens/homeopathy/etc instead...

  • by pixelpusher220 (529617) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:16PM (#30390372)
    it doesn't, but the vast majority of climate change deniers aren't showing any data proving their point.

    The mad rush to claim 'Climategate' over the email disclosures proves they don't have any data of their own to stand on.

    If people have valid reproducible data, I, and any 'scientific' person would be happy to debate the issue. There have been a shameful few if any that have anything like that to contribute to the discussion.

    Also in referencing their arguments against Global Warming, first it was "It isn't happening" and now it's gone to "well maybe it is but it's not Human's fault". (reasons Ms. Palin claimed both of in her Op-Ed, which in itself is astounding).

    The data as we know it is alarmingly out of scale with anything in recorded history. The models we used 30 years ago to predict the situation today have proved horribly conservative. The realities are much more severe than forecast.

    Now take the claim by the deniers that it won't really be that bad. Blindly ignoring the fact that proven history has shown it will in fact be worse than the models predict.

    They aren't contributing anything useful to the conversation as a whole, so as whole, sadly, the get represented by the wingnuts and crazies.
  • by Late Adopter (1492849) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:16PM (#30390388)
    What's "wrong" supposed to mean? We also know that neither GR nor QM can simultaneous be correct explanations of the Universe, because of their mutual incompatibility, but that doesn't make them "wrong".

    The Universe has some rules it plays by. We still don't know what they are, we may not ever. The best we ever do is to model those rules. Each model is "correct" within a particular range of validity. GR is correct at large length scales. QM is correct at small. Newton is correct at gamma approximately equal to 1. And so on...

    Perhaps it may surprise you to know that reputable scientists also use Special Relativity *a lot*, despite being replaced by GR, or that we use different models (point, parton, and valence quark) of the proton depending on what regime we're in.
  • by Abies Bracteata (317438) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:16PM (#30390392)

    OK, why don't *you* give it a shot?

    Please explain the misapplication of the derivative operation in a manner that an 8th-grader could grasp.

    And better yet, why don't you actually try to *convince* some people who reject climate science with this explanation?

    Get back to me with your results.

  • by Omestes (471991) <omestes@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:17PM (#30390402) Homepage Journal

    All too often in the debates about GCC someone who is a climate researcher will go "Well I'm a climate researcher so I'm right and the people that don't agree with me are idiots." Yea, not the best way to approach people

    They have every right to say this; when the people arguing against them are not climate scientists, or in scientific fields related. If I tell someone with a PhD in climate science that they are wrong, they have every right to chuckle at me, since I really don't know what I'm talking about. This is not a problem.

    The problem is some idea that science should be "fair and balanced", and that every view, from any source, is valid, or at least should be debated or considered. Scientists should tell MORE people to STFU, if you ask me.

    I think it stems from being walled up in Universities and not having to work for a living.

    I'm also getting sick of this sentiment. Being a undereducated working stiff DOES NOT make you the paragon of virtue, or some special font of insight. It makes you an average moron, thats it, nothing more. Having to "work for a living" (which, last I checked, most evil academics do as well) doesn't mean that you get the right to weigh authoritatively on topics you know nothing about.

    These morally dubious (sarcasm there) ivory tower types earned their "arrogance", I use irony quotes there because someone "admitting to know more than a NASCAR watching moron" has become arrogant. If someone spent 8 years of their life trying to be proficient in a feild, I'd say they know more than some blue collar worker, and earned having a preferred opinion on that topic.

    And no, I'm not an academic, though I pride myself as trying to be as intellectual as I possibly can. I see being intellectually average, or ignorant as a character flaw, and not something to work toward (or revel in), but something to work to remedy.

  • But is it science? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by thermagen (995316) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:19PM (#30390434)
    Climatology is a mixed bag: part chemistry, part model-building and, now, part politics. Watts, Mann et al. are engaged in the latter two. They build questionable mathematical models from cherry-picked data to push a political agenda. The problem with model-building is that it does not result in a p-value for a controlled experiment with reproducible data which tests a defeasible hypothesis, i.e. it is not science. The molecular effect of CO2 on the atmosphere is confirmed science. The buffering effect of oceanic CO2 is unconfirmed science. The effect of industrialization on past temperature is 50% science. A 10-year prediction of global warming is 10% science. A 100-year prediction of global warming is 100% fantasy. The damage of climategate is not that it calls into question science as a whole, but that it is confused with science in the first place.
  • by argStyopa (232550) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:21PM (#30390472) Journal

    One picture tells it all:
    (graph of the difference in degrees between raw and "final" data sets)
    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/img/climate/research/ushcn/ts.ushcn_anom25_diffs_urb-raw_pg.gif [noaa.gov]

    People aren't doubting SCIENCE.
    People are understanding that SCIENTISTS are as likely as anyone to be venal, petty, biased, partisan, and above all the previous 8 year administration showed us: political.

    When someone shows a graph of temperature data, that's interesting science.
    When I (thanks to the internet) can pull up the raw paleoclimatological data from NOAA, and ask "hey, Mr. Scientist, why is it that your data doesn't match what I see?" and I get a lot of bullshit, handwaving, and a cavalcade of smoke and mirrors - I become somewhat skeptical.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/08/the-smoking-gun-at-darwin-zero/ [wattsupwiththat.com] ... and then don't you DARE call my questioning of your methods "doubts about science" - that's just you building a strawman to try to paint me as some mullet-wearing, Creationism-believing rube.

    I understand, it's much easier to just call your critics "stupid" than to acknowledge that the dogma you've been parroting is falling apart.

  • by Rising Ape (1620461) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:22PM (#30390492)

    If an 8th grader could grasp it it wouldn't take years of education and research expereience to do. Or to quote Feynman, "Listen, buddy, if I could tell you in a minute what I did, it wouldn't be worth the Nobel Prize". Any explanation on that level can be countered by someone with an equally plausible sounding but wrong explanation on a similar level.

    Actually doing a full, detailed assessment of the validity of evidence would take an experienced scientist from a different field a *long* time to read through all the relevant publications, learn the material and arrive at his own conclusion.

  • by Mr.Fork (633378) <edward.j.reddy@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:22PM (#30390502) Journal
    Daniel Henninger is wrong. How he's drawing this conclusion is a little far-fetched. No one is going to stop believing in science as this has no implication to regular scientists who believe in causation science versus the correlation science of climatologists. I cannot say the same for climatologists however. Their methodologies, data, and science, at least how they're going about it, is not following proper research methodologies.

    As an amateur scientist of the sky (Astronomer), science at its core is transparent, open, and full of debate and honest and thoughtful challenges with peers. Climatology is anything but open, no debate with its peers, and hateful accusations of mistrust and full of secrets. If I have a theory about a pulsar and why it varies a particular way, I'll throw it out there to my peers to break apart and destroy my theory - that's how we're suppose to do it. You announce a study result (about a possible causation) and HOPE someone proves you wrong. We then get more 'Ah Ha!' moments when someone else studies the theory and then using their own experiences and knowledge, may be able to modify my theory about that same pulsar because perhaps they were doing similar research and then collaborate to come up with a new theory that we all then try to destroy and disprove. That is how science works!

    Climatologists may be right, but their science methodologies are not 'best practice' leaving a lot of us to wonder how they're coming up with their results - which they keep to themselves.

    How unscientific indeed.
  • by mR.bRiGhTsId3 (1196765) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:23PM (#30390518)
    If you pride yourself on being intellectual you should be capable of drawing reasonable conclusions from information presented to you. For a scientist to say STFU you don't have a degree in my field is childish and enforces the notion that a PhD is somehow required to contribute meaningfully to the body of human knowledge. This is not true at all.
  • by rickb928 (945187) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:23PM (#30390520) Homepage Journal

    "I'll buy that argument once religious whackadoodles promise to renounce their faith because of televangelists and pedo-priests."

    Um, the proper thing to do (for me, anyways) is to renounce the televangelists and pedo-priests.

    It's a common mistake you made, and you need not apologize.

    We shouldn't shut down the climate change debate EVEN if it is proven that the climate change evangelists have cooked the data and obstructed debate. But we should, at least, be dealing with the best available data and rigorous scrutiny of the data and the analysis.

    From what I've seen of the scandal, it's apparent that some the global warming crowd can't tolerate dissent, and some of those least tolerant are also most influential. But this isn't news to me, personally. I've been trying to find current global temperature data for almost 3 years, and I've found that data for the last 10 years is being hidden. All we get are conclusions. And data from before is rapidly disappearing.

    It's this hiding of the data that concerns me. You can't even stand the light of your own data? Something is wrong there.

    ps- The argument that we need to develop renewable energy sources is important, but misses a huge point. Climate change is the reason that so many draconian measures are being proposed, from cap 'n trade to outright bans on useful things. Developing renewable energy need not require such measures. It makes sense on purely economic grounds, if oil is going to run out. And it is defensible on purely stewardship grounds - clean energy is preferable to dirty energy. Maybe a better sales job on that would work. Sadly, the readily available clean energy (nuclear fission) is alrady demonized in the U.S. Solar requires both capital and resources (real estate). Wind? Just to set the record straight, hydro power is not clean, it just makes pretty lakes out of pretty rivers, which changes the ecology greatly. Ask the fish. But we sent men to walk on the Moon. We can solve this if we get focused and make the decision to 'do it'. So, Mr. President, how about directing some of that TARP money into solving *real* problems?

    If nothing else, maybe improve our transportation infrastructure - some impact there, like reducing drive times? Making public transit work? Making alternatives like car-trains and autopilot driving possible? We haven't begun to explore the solutions. We're just waxing on about how serious the problem is, and how someone has to do somethign about it.

    Meh.

  • Bullshit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by abulafia (7826) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:25PM (#30390548)

    What I see instead is a large number of credulous people who believe whatever certain pundits tell them is the best way to screw with liberals.

    Exactly the point! For some reason, scratching almost any "environmental activist" one can find a worn-out Che Guevara T-shirt underneath. Why is it? Are the liberals noticeably more green-conscientious? No, they aren't [snopes.com]...

    It must be, then, that a substantial body of the Illiberal crowd sees "global warming" as a pre-text for destroying (or, at least, shackling) Capitalism. Indeed, regardless of whether the Global Warming (renamed recently to a less odious "Climate Change") is a) a threat and b) a man-made phenomenon, it is useful just because it can be used to hurt Capitalism...

    Your argument is that environmentalists are dirty socialist hippies, therefore environmentalists want to destroy capitalism. Talk about taking absurdist A=A arguments far too far...

    There are plenty of serious capitalists on board with environmentalism, who correctly believe that AGW is a fact, and wish to do something about it. It is inherently a collective action problem, just like any other (law contract and property law, for instance). This has implications.

    Simply blindly asserting that only dirty fucking hippies who idolize socialist killers does not make it so, any more than attempting to shackle AGW to a silly thought experiment (while slyly imputing a religious belief to the hippies) reduces risk mitigation analysis in the face of uncertainty to a blind leap of faith.

    Not only is your factometer hopelessly crushed by the weight of your ideology, but also our logic and rhetorical skills suck.

  • by Rockoon (1252108) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:25PM (#30390564)

    And I linked to one of many journals that--shock of all shocks--didn't publish anything regarding the leak. I didn't say anything about what you, me, Slashdot or blogs found in those leaks. Instead I tried to relay that the general consensus seemed to be, from what I read, that there was nothing to get excited about. The journals might be wrong but I was just trying to tell you what I noticed from them after the leak.

    They might be right and they might be wrong, but it should also be pointed out that these journals are caught up in the middle of it all.

    These journals are telling the world that the manipulation of their peer review process is nothing to get excited about.

  • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:26PM (#30390572)

    Just because one has the "right" to say it, doesn't mean they should.

    Aristotle would call it Hubris - "to cause shame to the victim, not in order that anything may happen to you, nor because anything has happened to you, but merely for your own gratification. Hubris is not the requital of past injuries; this is revenge. As for the pleasure in hubris, its cause is this: men think that by ill-treating others they make their own superiority the greater."

    I've done both academics and working both in agriculture and the public sector and in my view no one "earns arrogance".

  • Re:Open source (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smidget2k4 (847334) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:31PM (#30390646)
    You can falsify by finding data that makes no sense to your current theory and should be explained by the current theory. But thanks for playing.

    I mean, would you also like us to recreate the Big Bang so we can "run a true experiment" on it or would you rather we look at observable data and draw a reasonable conclusion that Big Bang did happen?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:32PM (#30390664)

    The neat thing about climatology is that multiple teams are measuring the same thing. One team deleting raw data does nothing to alter what others have collected. The point is moot. The person who broke in to release these emails had a motive and it wasn't fair disclosure of information. It was to encourage you make the logical leap of "hey, if these guys are dishonest, everybody must be dishonest!"

  • by B1oodAnge1 (1485419) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:37PM (#30390752)

    Bullshit.
    I am perfectly qualified, and so is anyone else who is able to think critically, admittedly a shrinking demographic.

  • by edrobinson (976396) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:39PM (#30390790)
    Well, she's at least as qualified as Al Gore...
  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) * on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:40PM (#30390822) Homepage Journal

    Yes, there is a long, long list of people who should have been told to STFU. Newton, Galileo, Celeste - ohh, the list goes on and on.

    Seriously, #1 on my list would be that douchebag, Al Gore. He did more to politicize the global warming crap than anyone. If you want my most serious opinion on GW - yeah, the earth is warming. It's going to warm, no matter what we do. Do I really think that mankind is hastening the inevitable? Wellll - not really, but it's possible. Yeah, let's do whatever we can to clean up the environment, and to stop wasting shit - that makes sense with or without the threat of global warming. Stop polluting. I like it. Those things that you just HAVE to have, you should shop for the most energy efficient model. Stop driving cars to the corner for a gallon of milk. Stop wasting. Everyone will benefit - global warming or not.

    But, as for man CAUSING global warming - BULLSHIT!!! How many ice ages has the earth had now? And, how many interglacial periods?

    The earth didn't end with any of the ice ages, or during any of the interglacials.

    It's time to adapt, people. Doomsayers go under the bus. People with a plan can get on the bus.

  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:42PM (#30390850)

    http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/news/story.html?id=25526754-e53a-4899-84af-5d9089a5dcb6 [canada.com]

    Because of the high importance of this realization, in 1994 Dr. Jaworowski, together with a team from the Norwegian Institute for Energy Technics, proposed a research project on the reliability of trace-gas determinations in the polar ice. The prospective sponsors of the research refused to fund it, claiming the research would be "immoral" if it served to undermine the foundations of climate research.

    The refusal did not come as a surprise. Several years earlier, in a peer-reviewed article published by the Norwegian Polar Institute, Dr. Jaworowski criticized the methods by which CO2 levels were ascertained from ice cores, and cast doubt on the global-warming hypothesis. The institute's director, while agreeing to publish his article, also warned Dr. Jaworowski that "this is not the way one gets research projects." Once published, the institute came under fire, especially since the report soon sold out and was reprinted. Said one prominent critic, "this paper puts the Norsk Polarinstitutt in disrepute." Although none of the critics faulted Dr. Jaworowski's science, the institute nevertheless fired him to maintain its access to funding.

    ---

    Does "we won't fund the research because it "MIGHT" undermine climate research and so is immoral" sound like an impartial search for the truth?

    The global warming agenda stinks of corporate propaganda and group think to me.

  • Governmental Evil (Score:3, Insightful)

    by b4upoo (166390) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:43PM (#30390892)

    The Bush administration pushed scientists into being quiet or not reporting scientific conclusions. That does represent a real loss in credibility to the scientific community as many scientists complied with the Bush party line.
                    The other part of the problem is that people are tricked into disbelief in science when they are manipulated by phonies who try to generate a position for themselves by claiming that science is challenging traditional beliefs that are outside of scientific research. For example Darwinism does not imply that atheism is a correct belief system. But many back woods preachers rant that Darwinism and atheism are one and the same thing. Somehow it escapes these peoples' grasp that God could use evolution in creating the world as we know it.

  • Scientific debate (Score:4, Insightful)

    by microbox (704317) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:44PM (#30390896)
    It would help if skeptics actually scrutinised the theory in a scientific way -- instead of making up conspiracy theories, and attacking the motives of those involved. The fact that no-one has been able to dismiss AGW in a proper scientific debate is what is important to me.
  • by Sylver Dragon (445237) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:45PM (#30390912) Journal
    There are a couple key differences here through.

    In the Pons and Fleischmann case, they were putting forth an experiment which, if it had actually worked, would have caused massive social upheaval as we changed over to a cold fusion based society. When their experiments proved to not be reproducible the status quo was maintained, and everyone got on with life. While it was important in the scientific community, for the average layperson it was a bunch of news about crap they didn't understand, didn't care about, and since it didn't effect them in the end, didn't need to care about.

    In contrast, the scientists who are putting forth the theory of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) are also stating that the only real solution is going to involve massive social uchange. In general, people don't like change. Worse yet, the AGW folks are asking people who have grown up with the mindset of consumerism and waste to give that up. Again, it should come as little surprise that people are resistant to this.

    And then there is the politics behind how to deal with AGW. Deserved or not, the green movement managed to get itself linked with socialism, and because of poor education in the US, communism in the 1970's. And, unfortunately, most of the solutions to the AGW problem need to be on a massive scale, involving whole societies working together, in other words: socialism. And, all the opponents of change need to so is raise this specter and many people in the US will eat it up. Coupled with the natural resistance to change, and people will go through all sorts of mental contortions to not have to deal with it.

    The next political problem is that the people with money in this country are willing to spend that money to protect their income. Since the current system is known to make them money and the new system is an unknown, but will likely involve higher costs without an obvious mechanism for higher profits, the safe bet is to fight to keep the current system in place. Moreover, some of the people with the most money, the folks who run the oil companies, can easily recognize that the proposed changes are a threat to their primary revenue stream. It's no wonder they throw tons of money into fighting the changes.

    As for solutions, I don't think there is an easy way to deal with all of this. Trying to force the change to happen fast has the possibility of backfiring. In the US right now the current makeup of government (heavily Democrat) has the best chance of getting something done on the AGW issue. However, too much change at once will give the Republicans a lot of ammo to use in 2010 and 2012. If the current government tries to force the people of the US too far out of their comfort zone at once, they may well be tossed out in the next election cycle which will give the Republicans the ability to undo those changes, and even the blessing of the people to do so. Instead, the change is going to have to happen slowly and incrementally.

    The problem here, of course, is that we may really need to get something done quickly. My opinion on this would be that we really need to look at geo-engineering solutions for the short term. Certainly, it's not an optimal solution, and there is the problem that we cannot guarantee that tinkering with the climate is going to work; but, we're doing that at the moment anyway. We are dumping tons of gasses into the atmosphere every day which we know modify how the climate reacts to solar inputs. While the best solution would be to stop doing that, that solution isn't really practicable. The political situation to get it done just isn't there at the moment, And, while we may be able to get that change to happen via small changes in the market economy, that is likely to be a slow and inaccurate solution. And yes, I do realize that if everyone would just consume a little less, drive a little less, and get out of their comfort zone, we wouldn't need to do this. Wonderful, great, ain't gonna happen. The "reduce, recycle, reuse" horse is dead, American consumerism killed it, so either fuck it or walk away, but please quit beating it.
  • Re:What (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Brickwall (985910) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:47PM (#30390964)
    You believe the theory that has observations to prove it works. Not the scientist. Pretty simple if you ask me.

    Um, but if that scientist consistently, and repeatedly, refuses to give you his data or his methods (hi Michael Mann!) and just says "believe me" on an issue that will cost your country literally billions of dollars, are you just supposed to shut up and go along? Especially when it appears after much prodding and poking that some of the data were cherry-picked, others were "adjusted", and finally, the raw data was deleted? The Earth may well be warming, but it has warmed and cooled countless times over the millenia, and the case for AGW is certainly "not proven". So I think a healthy skepticism before imposing the huge financial penalties and bureaucracies that are being punted about is the only wise position.

  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:55PM (#30391110)
    1. "Trick" is frequently used [google.com] in scientific context to mean "clever method" or "correction".

    2. The tree ring proxy temperature problem is pretty well documented for the past 10 years at least. The basic idea is that using tree rings as thermometers gave an error bar +-x% and it has been discovered, that since 1960, actual temperature records started to disagree slightly with tree ring temperature records. Actual temperature records have an error bar of +-x/y%, where y is > 1, so they are more accurate than tree ring proxy records (which is why they are called a proxy in the first place).

    3. The deviation since 1960 doesn't automatically mean that the records are wrong before 1960, as the instrumental records validate a large chunk of the pre 1960 period tree ring proxy data as correct within a given error bar. Noone knows the reasons why the tree ring proxy data is wrong "recently", but it is entirely possible that the cause is something like "more recent rings on trees take time to dry out" or something like that. It would be interesting to find out the cause.

    4. The tree ring proxy data wasn't destroyed or altered, the "decline" is "hidden" in a graph for policymakers that depicted temperature data. It makes sense to replace the tree ring data with more accurate instrument records, because they are well, more accurate.
  • by epiphani (254981) <epiphani.dal@net> on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:59PM (#30391188)

    I recommend the following:

    1. Collect a bunch of data
    2. Try to build a model that predicts that data
    3. Run the model

    Does the model match the data? No? Mess with the model. No? Is the data correct? Probably. Do we have any other sources of the data? Yup. Try that. Does that work?

    This is fraudulent how? That sounds like a normal way of testing a model in a closed laboratory situation never intended for public consumption.

    Next time you write some code, I'll criticize your use of static variables and constants in the concept phase without knowing anything about the model you're building.

  • by microbox (704317) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @01:00PM (#30391208)
    Don't blindly follow anyone including scientists without quantitative and reproducible proof.

    I would believe that if skeptics actually argued their case scientifically. Instead we get a bunch of conspiracy theories and attacks on scientists' motives. Nobody has made a scientific refutation of AGW, and that is what is important to me.

    If you were objective, then you would offer an objective criteria to assuage your guilt, and then study the science.

    Science is about more than being incredulous. Any idiot can say they don't believe something.
  • by Jodka (520060) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @01:01PM (#30391230)

    two words - Sarah Palin.
      how exactly is she *qualified* in *any* respect to comment on this? .

    How exactly are you *qualified* in *any* respect to comment on this?

  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @01:02PM (#30391248)
    There is at least a decade worth of correspondence there in the hacked emails. While it is true that noone expects to find evidence of collusion in every email, but surely if there were some collusion between scientists about AGW, there would be more than 3 choice quotes in a decade worth of private correspondence!

    You're telling me that people can simultaneously organize a global conspiracy and not coordinate it in any electronic way for the past decade?
  • Re:What (Score:3, Insightful)

    by scamper_22 (1073470) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @01:03PM (#30391278)

    With all these things, you have to separate the people from the equation.

    Is science pure? Absolutely. I trust the scientific method more than anything else as far as reaching conclusions and figuring things out.

    Yet, does that mean I would want a society run by scientists? Hell no. Scientists are just people. They *try* and hold up a certain code of ethnic. But you know police officers also have a code of ethics. So do lawyers. So do doctors. And how often does their code of ethnics interfere with protecting their job, their ideals...
    The answer... all the time.
    We basically keep the drug war going because it employs police officers, lawyers, prison guards... Some of them speak out, but in general, they enjoy the fruits of their labor even to the detriment of society.

    I would even suggest, the only reason science has such credibility is that science has traditionally had no power.
    No one has a reason to lie about the theory of gravity. It has no political and social consequences.
    Yet, start talking child care, education, climate change... now there's huge political, social, and monetary consequences.

    Which is why I fear the ever increasing power given to science. Now you have money and politics in science.
    Suddenly the grant a scientist is applying for depends on the appropriate results from a study...
    Suddenly, the hype a scientist can generate about 'their' issue means they get more fame and more money.
    Suddenly, the power entrusted in the form of laws is enticing to scientist who wishes to mold society. ...

    So what is so special about a scientist? Nothing. They will hold their ideals as much as
    police officers, catholic priests, lawyers, doctors... yeah... those same priestly ideals that condemned premarital sex, while they molested children.

    In short. give scientists power and they will abuse it. Period.
    Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. it doesn't just apply to kings and priests. It applies equally teachers, nurses, scientists...

    Science is not the antidote to money and power.
    Money and power will corrupt science.

    People in society have an absolute right and duty to question every word that supposedly comes from scientists.

  • by raddan (519638) * on Thursday December 10, 2009 @01:05PM (#30391308)
    There's also a lot of money to be made by saying that global warming is not a man-made phenomena, too. I'm not an economist, so I couldn't tell you for sure where more of the money is, but given that global warming deniers are arguing from the status quo, I'd say that there's more money in denying global warming.

    Yes, as the GP pointed out, science is supposed to work by critical analysis. The problem is this: the general public is too dumb. They don't understand logic. They don't understand basic statistical methods. Heck, most of them can't even form a cogent argument using facts they do know. But modern civilization requires that public policy be determined by the facts, and sometimes, those facts are complicated. You need an education in science to understand them.

    So what do we do? Obviously, the right solution is education, but that takes time. When you have urgent issues that the public must act on, you run a public campaign, i.e., propaganda. Sometimes this is a good thing. Sometimes it is not. Successful public policy has depended on an implicit trust the public has in the experts. I don't think that the public will ever stop looking to experts-- but a big worry here is that they start thinking that the local minister or the blowhard on the radio is the expert, and not the scientist who has spent a lifetime studying the thing. That would have major repercussions for our quality of life.

    I should point out that the term "scare tactic" is itself a bit of propaganda. If the guy who's calling a global warming campaign a "scare tactic" is a lobbyist for an oil company, guess what-- you've been duped. When you hear that term, think about who's saying it.
  • Re:What (Score:3, Insightful)

    by B1oodAnge1 (1485419) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @01:05PM (#30391320)

    Or... You could have a basic understanding of the scientific method and enough skill at critical thinking that you can tell what is being healthily discussed and what is suspect.

    Kinda like choosing a good barber requires enough style smarts to be able to tell whether he is decent at what he does or not.
    I don't have to be awesome at cutting hair to be able to know when someone else is doing it wrong.

  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @01:07PM (#30391358)

    And yet, he still managed to get funding and publish his paper. Seems to me like everything's working.

  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @01:08PM (#30391370)

    With the global warming 'scandal', you have a few scientists who are the only ones with access to the raw temperature data. There is no independent analysis of the data, meaning the statistics (and released data) can be tweaked or cherry-picked until the authors get results they want. Without independent analysis repeating their results, that's failed science as well.

    Actually, I've seen no indication that this is true at all. As far as I know, there is at least 3 independently maintained major datasets, with the overwhelming part of the raw data published. (In the case of the MET dataset, 95%+ is freely available and they are trying to free the remaining 5%, which requires cooperation from dozens of sovereign governments and cutting through red tape.)

    There are at least 7 major competing climate models, only disagreeing in minor details and at least as many teams trying to find flaws in each other's model like sharks with frickin' laser beams on their heads.

    And this is just the direct temperature measurements, there are vast hordes of indirect measurements, like sealevel rise, melting glaciers, changing currents, etc.

  • by B1oodAnge1 (1485419) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @01:09PM (#30391380)

    Michael Moor and Al Gore are both certainly not Republicans and if you think they are intellectual then good luck with that.

    The two parties certainly aren't any different when it comes to "fostering the populist anti-intellectual movement."

  • by AJWM (19027) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @01:09PM (#30391388) Homepage

    Anthropogenic Global warming believers don't want anyone to drive SUVs without feeling bad about it, so they cherrypick data that supports their already determined philosophical standpoint.

    There, fixed that for you in accord with what actually happened. It was the the High Priests of AGW who conveniently lost the data they were asked to release -- i.e., cherrypicked it.

  • Re:Yes, Here's Why (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hey! (33014) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @01:13PM (#30391446) Homepage Journal

    Your post shows a poor undestanding of what science is.For one thing, you get the notion of "theory" completely wrong. The National Academy of Sciences says it better than I could:

    Science Evolution and Creationism Is Evolution a Theory or a Fact? It is both. But that answer requires looking more deeply at the meanings of the words “theory” and “fact.” In everyday usage, “theory” often refers to a hunch or a speculation. When people say, “I have a theory about why that happened,” they are often drawing a conclusion based on fragmentary or inconclusive evidence. The formal scientific definition of theory is quite different from the everyday meaning of the word. It refers to a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence. Many scientific theories are so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter them substantially. [emphasis mine] For example, no new evidence will demonstrate that the Earth does not orbit around the Sun (heliocentric theory), or that living things are not made of cells (cell theory), that matter is not composed of atoms, or that the surface of the Earth is not divided into solid plates that have moved over geological timescales (the theory of plate tectonics).

    [from National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine (2008) Science, Evolution, and Creationism (National Academy Press, Washington, DC).]

    You apparently don't understand skepticism either. It is not at all like contrarianism.

    Skepticism is actually built on belief (albeit provisional) set in the bedrock of scientific *theory*. If you want me to underwrite your perpetual motion invention, you are going to encounter skepticism on the grounds that I find the laws of thermodynamics more credible than you. Go find a *contrarian* investor.

    That's the rub. Contrarianism is just a mirror image of credulity. The credulous person is prepared to believe anything that suits his purpose. The contrarian is prepared to *disbelieve* anything that suits his purpose. The effect is not at all different. You can find underwriters for your perpetual motion machine in both camps, on the grounds that anything in is possible on hand, or on the grounds that anything can be wrong on the other.

    Skepticism is the happy medium between credulity and contrarianism. It entails belief that is not as easily earned as that of credulity, nor as easily abandoned as that of contrariansm.

  • Re:Yes, Here's Why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by A beautiful mind (821714) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @01:17PM (#30391512)
    Actually, it is a slightly wrong, totally unimportant and absolutely human response that the scientists in question exhibited.

    In a networking analogy, it's RIPE, ARIN and the other registrars facing people calling them chicken little for pointing out IPv4 exhaustion and suggesting to use ip addresses "with higher than 256 parts", calling networking engineers "stupid people didn't think of that" and calling IPv6 a scam "to sell some routers".

    So it's perfectly understandable that scientists with 20+ years in the field feel a little touchy and get annoyed by the 50th FOI request. The best solution for creationists, climate change denialists and 9/11 conspiracy theorist is to send them to school. If I were a climate scientists I would have been really annoyed by that time now by the elementary ignorance demonstrated by these people.

    Snake oil salesmen my ass, if you examine someone's private correspondence over a 10 year period and that's all you find, then I want to give the give a damn medal for integrity.
  • by phoenix321 (734987) * on Thursday December 10, 2009 @01:20PM (#30391560)

    The problem for the average layperson is this: We have a vast island now under a huge glacier that is called Greenland, one that was once green enough to earn this name. We had several movies about the Ice Age, that, while distorted enough, show prehistoric times when half of Europe was under ice.

    Anyone more familiar with the subject knows about the Medieval Warm Period, where tropical plants could be cultivated across most of Europe and also of much older periods where there weren't permanent ice sheets even in Antarctica.

    Therefore, everyone should know that Earth has been much much warmer and colder than today and a delta of annual average temperatures of even 5 or more degrees has already happened long before even the great apes had evolved. The world sure looked much different and today would mean a danger to many human settlements, but as the climate itself shifted so much greater degrees before humans arrived, we cannot ever hope to prove humans are the reason for the current warming. We have a warming now: yes. We had warmings and coolings before humans were expending any amount of CO2: yes. We had even greater amounts of warming and cooling long before civilizations fomed: yes. We had still greater warmings and coolings before the Great Apes used their first improvised tool: yes, yes and yes.

    I don't know of any reliable way to prove that it's our human CO2 expenditure that's causing the current warming when all we have is fairy tales from the Middle Ages, ice cores from times before the first Human and proxy data from trees of questionable origin. All we could conclude is that we now have a period of warming. Fine. Now prove that it's the human's and ONLY the human's fault without circular reasoning.

  • Re:Yes, Here's Why (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CecilPL (1258010) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @01:29PM (#30391702)

    It's not a pre-existing bias, it's a bias developed as a result of decades of careful study. They are ridiculing the opposing side in the same way we all like to ridicule creationists - from a solid position of scientific certainty. Creationists like to cry foul when we deride the "journals" they publish in, but that doesn't mean they're right or that we're stifling debate. The science is settled and has been for nearly a decade, perhaps more (I'm not a climatologist). What's left is political debate over the policy implications. The contrarians are trying desperately to throw up smoke and mirrors to convince the public that nothing is awry.

    Handing all the data to anyone who asks, while a noble idea in a perfect world, puts them in a vulnerable position when the people asking are going to torture it and feed it to the media's noise machine. You have to understand that this data is not something you can plug into Excel and reproduce their graphs. It takes years of study to understand the intricacies of how to properly interpret it.

    This whole "scandal" is blown out of proportion and based on smoke and mirrors. It's as if someone who barely knows how to turn on a computer subpoenaed all the source code you've written in the last 20 years, then pointed to that properly commented god-awful hack you wrote 5 years ago to get a product out the door (god knows we've all done it) as evidence that you're secretly part of a hacking ring.

  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@b[ ].org ['eau' in gap]> on Thursday December 10, 2009 @01:34PM (#30391790)

    > two words - Sarah Palin.

    And we thought BDS was bad enough. The mention of Mrs. Palin's name seems to instantly polarize any conversation, so why bring her into this thread, already a certainty to become a veritable flamefest?

    But since you did, lets do examine her ideas on the merits instead of ad hominim attacks on her. Seems she is saying pretty much what I have been saying here on /. for years. That the science and politics of GW and especially AGW have blurred into a horrid muddle such that even the raw data (where it hasn't been destroyed) isn't trustworthy. Therefore basing multi-trillion dollar reordering of the world's economy on it is stupid. Therefore The Won trying to ram a New Deal on Carbon down our thoats by hook (Copenhagan) or crook (EPA) isn't even on the same planet with science, it is ideology, pure and simple.

    > Because of some possible (and if so quite serious) data shenanigans, Obama should boycott
    > the talks entirely to send a message. i.e. Quit.

    Yes. Because the reaction has been to attack the messengers, bury the whole matter and proceed on the same predetermined course. By going Obama is declaring for that faction. No other spin is possible. The only exception would be if he went and used the occasion to put his speaking skills into the service of Science by utterly flaying the whole perverted exercise, which we both know won't happen.

    Global warming MAY be happening (but probably hasn't for a decade now..), AGW even MIGHT be the major cause. But with even the raw sensor data in serious doubt (ask Google about the recent review of the raw data in Darwin or the rerun of the New Zealand long term trend data from their raw data. The rot extends far beyond EAU's CRU now.) and the main actors proven by their own words to be activists instead of scientists who can say? And that is the point, nobody who hasn't got a few years to dig into data has no rational basis to decide. The experts are tainted on both sides by trillions of dollars of incentives, political/religious beliefs and the raw data is suspect. So on the one hand we might all be Doomed! yet the only proposed solution to the possibility is 100% certain to produce ruin. So the rational person looks for option #3 and says, so just how much would mitigation cost should we do nothing and the Warmers prove to be right?

    If you are going to cry wolf on such a biblical scale as the AGW theory does, you really should make every attempt to be open and above reproach. If the warmers had truly believed the science was settled they should have put together a datadump worthy of the claims. Put the full raw data, the adjustments with detailed explanations for each out along with the complete fully commented source to the models used to process it that gave the results that lead them to their frightening theory of doom. Let everyone fully examine the whole thing to the best of their abilities. That would have settled the science.

    Instead they let Al Gore ride in and turn the whole thing into a crappy PowerPoint, then into a movie and finally ride it to become the Nobel Goracle with a hundred million dollar personal forture riding on a pet theory that just happened (amazing coincidence, Trust Me!) to require the exact same policies his ilk had been pushing since Karl Marx defiled the Earth with his presence.

    Or take James Hansen. He is going around saying anyone who "Denies" his theory should be tried for crimes against The Earth. Were he just another crackpot pundit he could be safely ignored. Look at MSNBC's raings, we are pretty good at ignoring crackpots. The problem isn't even that Hansen wears the robes of a High Priest of Science!, hell he has the NASA patch on his robes, in the ranks of Science! that is better than a cardinal's hat. No, the problem is that the rest of the priesthood hasn't taken any action against him.

    When a heretic priest comes busting into yer temple demanding everyone adopt a new set of beliefs the established church

  • by polar red (215081) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @01:35PM (#30391810)

    Greenpeace != climatologists. Al Gore != climatologist. IPCC: there's one big subset of climatologic science. And yes, I've red (a part of) the IPCC reports, and yes i read (parts of) Nature(the scientific journal), and yes I can see the changes already happening in nature. And yes, i have a lot of friends in active scientific work: and I assure you : they are NOT in it for the money. greenpeace is also not in it for the money. If you actually believe the greens and the scientists are in it for the big bucks, i'll call you an idiot.

  • Re:Open source (Score:5, Insightful)

    by limaxray (1292094) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @01:39PM (#30391862) Homepage

    Yes, it's not unheard of to destroy raw data, but a list of what data was used and how is usually maintained. This way, someone else can collect the same raw data again and verify the original results.

    The big problem with the CRU is they've failed to even disclose a list of exactly what data was used and what they did with that data. This makes it impossible to verify their results. It should also be noted that this info is required for publication in most journals, but they have managed to get published (most of the time) without it anyway. After all, if you can't peer-review their work, what's the point of a peer-reviewed publication? This is the heart of the controversy - not just a few leaked emails.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 10, 2009 @01:42PM (#30391920)

    “Certain results of observational cosmology cast critical doubt on the foundations of standard cosmology but leave most cosmologists untroubled. Alternative cosmological models that differ from the Big Bang have been published and defended by heterodox scientists; however, most cosmologists do not heed these. This may be because standard theory is correct and all other ideas and criticisms are incorrect, but it is also to a great extent due to sociological phenomena such as the ‘snowball effect’ or ‘groupthink’. We might wonder whether cosmology, the study of the Universe as a whole, is a science like other branches of physics or just a dominant ideology.”

    —Martin Lopez-Corredoira, astrophysicist.

    That is so retarded it needs to wear a helmet. The way to get ahead in science, if you want to really make your mark, is to kill the darling theories of your elders in a hail of factual bullets. Scientists are like sharks and lame hypotheses are blood in the water.

    That's all very whimsical dear Slashdotter, but did you actually read that article before you decided to comment about it? Doing otherwise is a great way to miss its point, after all.

    It's hard to "kill the darling theories of your elders in a hail of factual bullets" when those elders refuse to publish your papers in peer-reviewed journals and when those elders deny your access to telescopes and other scientific instruments that are used to find facts. None of that has anything to do with the correctness or incorrectness of a scientific theory. Sort of like how it's hard to defend yourself in a fistfight when you're hog-tied, but this proves nothing about the martial prowess of your opponent. The refusal to publish in peer-reviewed journals is particularly inexcusable and downright cowardly, because if it's really so wrong, the peers should have no problem openly demonstrating that. It's censorship, plain and simple.

    All of your notions derive from assuming that there is a level playing field and that factual correctness is the only thing you need to change the dominant beliefs of the day. I can see why you'd really like to believe that. I would too. The harsh reality is that you can have all the facts in the world and still not be listened to, because what is purportedly about facts is actually about institutional authority and orthodoxy.

  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @01:43PM (#30391924)

    If Vikings farmed there then, doesn't that mean the world was much much warmer than today?

    IF Vikings farmed on Greenland that might mean that Greenland was warmer back then. Local warming is not indicative of global warming. The so called medieval warm period is _discounted_ from global climate studies because it was an effect that held true only for Europe. Other parts of the world have shown no warming back then.

    Global warming means the warming of the global average temperature.

  • by daveime (1253762) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @01:47PM (#30392018)

    Kudos for putting a bit of perspective on things. I'd mod you +1 Informative, but I'd rather add to the discussion.

    Have you noticed how these days, any law or protocol or recommendation has to be of the form "You must do X otherwise Y will happen" ?

    You must endure them stealing your water at the airport because of Homeland Security concerns.

    You must endure ISP privacy violations because the RIAA needs to make money

    You must endure carbon credits because of global warming (no don't call it that, it's colder) climate change.

    etc etc

    Why do we need to be "blackmailed" into doing anything.

    Every point you raised above, recycling, saving energy etc all come under the heading "good fucking common sense". You should do them because it makes sense, at a very base level. Waste not, want not, as my Grandmother used to lecture into me.

    Not because "if you don't do this, the sky will fall". The government sounds more like Chicken Little every day.

  • by Hellpop (451893) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @01:48PM (#30392024) Homepage

    This isn't only happening in Climate science. My wife works in Mollecular Biology and has told me dozens of stories about PHD's fudging their results so that they can maintain their grants. Big Gov't gives them money to prove certain things for them, so inevitably, they need to prove those things to keep getting the money.

    This happens wherever people's livelihood depends on Government Grants. Invariably, someone will end up committing fraud to keep getting the grants.

    I love the irony in these CRU scientists refusing to release their data because "all they want to do is prove it wrong". Where would we be if Newton, Galileo, Einstein and others had felt that way. Methinks they doth protest too much. Besides, How the hell can you build a climate model without allowing for variations in the solar output??? How can you embed the data in the code. That is the number one rule for coders. Keep the code and data separate. If the data changes, the code can still run a new set of data. These huge gaps in logic keep me a skeptic.

  • by TemporalBeing (803363) <bm_witnessNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday December 10, 2009 @01:51PM (#30392082) Homepage Journal

    Apparently the numbers that were used have been verified as accurate.

    How can the numbers have been verified to be accurate when the CRU in question admitted to throwing out the RAW data used to generate the numbers? No one can go back to the RAW data and show that the numbers were correctly processed. Please cite your verifications - and they better not be others who relied on the same RAW data that has been admitted to have been destroyed. (Good luck with that one.)

  • by Grax (529699) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @01:52PM (#30392088) Homepage

    My logic tells me that true science is more about questions than answers. I believe that we continually need to move forward but with enough doubt about how far we have come to be able to freely discuss "facts" that we have already established.

    In the fable of the Blind Men and the Elephant ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_Men_and_an_Elephant [wikipedia.org] ), various people correctly observe things and make differing conclusions about them. While there are definitely times to apply Occam's Razor and accept certain facts and move on, that does not mean there is not more to the story that can be observed later from a different angle.

    Any "scientist" who works to "shut up" the opposition, has ceased to be a scientist and has turned into a political creature. Science is not about manipulation but about free and open discussions based upon the merits of the arguments.

  • by Obfuscant (592200) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @01:53PM (#30392106)
    What do climatologist do for a living other than telling us the sky is falling? Do they study the changes in the Earth's climate over billions of years? No, ...

    they study PROXIES that maybe indicate what the climate was, but not the actual climate information itself. They can't study the climate itself because that requires hard numbers. What was the temperature at X places on day Y? What was the rainfall? What ocean/atmosphere currents existed?

    They look at tree rings in petrified trees and make guesses based on assumptions. They dig up ice cores and measure something they assume hasn't changed for 10,000 years, even though its a gas that easily dissolves in water and has been sitting in what they tell us is an atmosphere already highly concentrated in that gas.

    Then they confuse correlation with causation. "The industrial age started the same time we see temperatures going up." Ok. Correlation. And then ignore all the times the temperature went up when the industrial age was still tens of thousands of years away. And then forget that science requires the ability to test hypotheses, like "if CO2 is causing the increase, taking the CO2 away will make it stop."

    And then they have the nerve to say "we know...". Just like big-bang theorists claim "we know". No, you don't know. You THINK you know, you have a PLAUSIBLE mechanism, but without SEEING it happen, you don't know that it happened that way.

    That's how you can detect the Religion of Science versus real science. Real science measures and predicts. Religion of Science makes claims about unseen things that happened in the past.

    As for the next fellow in this thread who claims that the data supporting the hockey stick is well supported, I say "hockey stick". No, it isn't. People have tried to get the data and duplicate the results and they're having a hard time just accounting for the data being used, much less the results from it. This is a well-known issue, to anyone who hasn't drunk the koolaid and joined the cult. Even the numbers from an organization as staid and solid as NOAA is suspect. A study done a while ago just looking at the temperature measurement system found that many of the sites had been repainted with a different paint and showed a correlated increase in temperatures, and many sites were located too close to buildings or parking lots and also had biases in their results. So, no, don't pretend the data is pristine and the interpretation obvious, it just ain't so.

  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @01:56PM (#30392158)

    I think the issue here is that someone like Al Gores makes a film full of factual inaccuracies, wins a Nobel peace prize for his efforts and is lauded by the pro Climate change scientists.

    I've seen him lauded for raising awareness of the issue. Like most popularizers, he's been criticized on the details by scientists, including those who support the broad consensus view on anthropogenic global warming. The Nobel Prize was the Peace Prize, not one of the scientific prizes.

    The scientists should actually have pointed out the inaccuracies in the video, but they didn't.

    In fact, plenty of them have, including those who support the point Gore was making in the speeches and video.

  • Re:Yes, Here's Why (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mrfunnypants (107364) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @01:57PM (#30392190)

    Except the FOI request was from other scientist in the same field. It is one thing to be annoyed by an FOI request by someone outside the field but this was not the case. It is quite disturbing when you have scientist "20+ years" in the filed refusing to share data because???

    No, as a scientist, something is very wrong with the way these professors acted and it should not be simply overlooked as anger and annoyance. The emails and the way they have acted all suggest they wanted to hide something.

  • by daveime (1253762) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @01:58PM (#30392206)

    I guess that depends which subset of the numbers you choose to work with, and how "accurate" a model based on ice cores from 100,000 years ago can actually be, considering all their other models can't tell you if it will rain tomorrow.

    Face it, any numbers older than about 50 years ago are based on best-guess, nothing more. So for them to declare what will happen in 20 years from now, based on a regression of 50 data points in the past is hardly valid statistics.

    If, just if, next year's average is actually colder, will that make a difference ? No, they'll simply declare "localized variation" as always. Funny how when the data agrees with their guesstimate, it's "valid", but when it disagrees, it's "localized variation".

    Now I'm not a PhD, hell I didn't even finish college, but common sense, gut instinct and 41 years in the school of life tells me something smells bad about the whole AGW agenda. And if the 75% or whatever percentage of "common schmucks" feel this way, how successful do you think any emission reduction efforts will be ?

    I always placed my belief that the scientists knew a hell of a lot more than me, and I could trust what they said. But recently, perhaps with age, has come the same cynicism I now feel for corporations, pharmaceuticals, politicians etc ... they ALL have another agenda behind their ideas, be it money, grant funding or plain old power.

    For a bloody good read, try Tom Clancy's "State of Fear". It puts an awful lot of these issues into the perspective of the common man.

  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @02:01PM (#30392264) Journal

    The problem is some idea that science should be "fair and balanced", and that every view, from any source, is valid, or at least should be debated or considered. Scientists should tell MORE people to STFU, if you ask me.

    ...you do realize that Albert Einstein was shut of out academia for years (as he was only a so-so student with a poor grasp of academic politics), which is why he was a Swiss patent clerk in the first place (and not considered as a "scientist" for many years)? By your logic, what right did a (then) non professional scientist like Albert Einstein have, meddling in a respected and obviously 'more-qualified-than-thou' field of professional science? Maybe Einstein should've shat the fuck up too, as you so eloquently put it...

    There is another problem with your view... insofar that it treads dangerously close to representing something else. Here, I'll paraphrase your quote and show you how it would parse:

    'The problem is some idea that christianity should be "fair and balanced", and that every view, from any source, is valid, or at least should be debated or considered. Bishops and priests should tell MORE people to STFU, if you ask me.' (after all, only someone trained in, say, Canon Law would be qualified to speak authoritatively on christianity, right?)

  • Hard scienc (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Garble Snarky (715674) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @02:05PM (#30392330)
    As an engineer, calling climate studies a "hard science" seems like a stretch to me. It does generally follow a mathematical-model-based scientific method, but those models are extremely complicated/poor compared to the models of basic physics. There is a big distinction within "hard science" that needs to be made.
  • by jpmorgan (517966) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @02:06PM (#30392356) Homepage

    No, you have it very wrong, and the GP was absolutely correct. We have theories of nature that predict the existence of oxygen, and how it should behave. If someone doubts these theories, we can invent thousands of predictions and experiments to show how the real world conforms to our understanding. These are direct tests, even if oxygen itself is not directly observable.

    Give me a direct test for the existence of anthropogenic global warming.

  • Re:Yes, Here's Why (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sorak (246725) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @02:09PM (#30392400)

    Exactly. There has never been, nor ought their be, an automatic trust of anything, including science. By definition of "layperson", we do not know and are not read-up on, the exact arguments for an against any particular theory.

    And that is the problem. the people who do not understand the subject are beginning to second-guess those who have devoted their lives to it. But, there is no motivation among the lay-person to become an environmental scientist, or an evolutionary biologist, or a doctor. Instead, we will continue to listen to whomever makes the best-sounding argument.

    It has long been the case that unscrupulous individuals will try to sell a product or an idea "because science says so".

    It is depressing in a way. People listen to snake oil salesmen say "this isn't snake oil, it's science", fall for it, and, over time, begin to turn against science, instead preferring arguments that have no more credibility or substance than the sales pitches they have been falling for their entire lives...

    But it's not the snake oil salesman's fault for taking advantage of logical fallacies...It's not the public's fault for falling for them, again and again...It's science's fault for having credibility to steal? This is like blaming an identity theft victim for having credit worth taking.

  • by Remus Shepherd (32833) <remus@panix.com> on Thursday December 10, 2009 @02:23PM (#30392582) Homepage

    You (or someone else whose example you are following) is searching through the CSU data, to find cherry-picked results that contradict accepted climate research.

    I am not accusing you of wearing a mullet. But what you are doing is very close to Creationist fanaticism. It is dishonest, politically motivated, and untrue.

    The raw/final graph could be anything -- it is poorly labeled -- but I suspect it is the difference between the raw and final tree ring temperature observations. Of course there is a difference between the raw and final data, because the tree rings are *wrong* after 1960 and needed to be corrected. This has been explained.

    The Darwin Zero results were biased upwards because they were homogenized (read: Averaged) with temperatures in the rest of the continent. Any time you average points together, some of them are going to go up (and others will go down). The Darwin Zero station temperatures were consistently lower than the other Australian measurements. They were *wrong* and needed to be adjusted or thrown out, and the scientists chose to adjust them.

    There is nothing sinister here, and if critics were honest they'd mention the hundreds of data points that *support* the hypothesis of climate change rather than digging out the one badly-labeled graph and the one fallacious data point that disputes it.

    It's like explaining to people that unicorns don't exist, while they keep shaking narwhal bones at us and shrieking 'Burn the witch!'

  • by darkvizier (703808) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @02:24PM (#30392592)

    Any "scientist" who works to "shut up" the opposition, has ceased to be a scientist and has turned into a political creature. Science is not about manipulation but about free and open discussions based upon the merits of the arguments.

    Yes, the scientific way to silence an idiot is to ask him lots of hard questions, and let him keep the floor as long as he's able. When he can't answer those questions to the audience's satisfaction, then it's time to deliver your own answers. For those of you who feel that this is cruel and/or wrong, do you not feel a moral obligation to prevent a speaker from misguiding his audience? There's nothing discriminatory about asking questions. If the speaker has the answer, then he can educate the audience. If he can't then someone else will step in to take up the slack.

  • by MBGMorden (803437) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @02:33PM (#30392728)

    If all ideas are NOT equally valid, then I challenge them to even predict what the weather will be over my house, in exactly 7 days from now !

    You see the problem is, climatologists can't even predict the "small stuff" to any degree of accuracy, yet will quite happily stand 100% by their conclusions on what will happen in 10 years fro now, declaring that they know better, and everyone else is either unqualified, or misguided, or a moron.

    That's a bit disingenuous. The "small stuff" is actually much harder to predict that "big picture" stuff.

    Try this example - take a hunting hound and turn loose a fox about 5 minutes ahead of him - the fox runs east. Now release the hound. Tell me what his exact position will be in 1 minute. I'm guessing you'll have a pretty hard time guessing exactly where the dog is going to be. HOWEVER, I'll bet you a month's pay that over the next 5 minutes his GENERAL DIRECTION will be east.

    The same basic thing applies to climatology. The weather is a shaky little bugger that is far to variable to make exact predictions on specific days. It can however be perfectly possibly to extrapolate a general trend and direction in the data.

  • by dargaud (518470) <[ten.duagradg] [ta] [2todhsals]> on Thursday December 10, 2009 @02:35PM (#30392750) Homepage
    What inaccuracies ?!? I've actually seen the list compiled by some right-wing group and they are extremely minor [disclaimer, I've worked 15 years in climate research, acquiring hard data [gdargaud.net]]. On the other hand you have some so-called opponents to climate change who spout lies after lies on FOX news but hardly get any comments from scientists.

    Free speech is one thing, but when talk-radio (just one example) come out with completely made up 'facts' and statistics on the fly to please their listeners, they ought to be fined hard if the study they pretend their stats come from doesn't exist in peer-reviewed form. I've listened to them 'debate' the current climate problems, and it would have been a good laugh if it hadn't made me cry first.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 10, 2009 @02:39PM (#30392802)

    Ah I get it: anything to the left of Rush Limbaugh is "Liberal Statist," so we can handily paint public health care, women's rights, or any form of government intervention at all with the same shade of "Kim Jong Il Red."

    Handy! Saves a lot of messy "thinking" and "rational debate."

  • by tbannist (230135) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @02:42PM (#30392866)

    The point, I think is that they, they creationists, the flat earthers, the anti-vaccination groups, the moon landing conspiracy theorists, the alternative medicine crowd, the parapsychologists, and really anyone with a feeling of being persecuted just because they can't prove that anything they claim is true, is going to be trying to use this to undermine the rationalist and materialist foundations of science.

    Given the anti-intellectual bias in much of popular culture, I'm not sure it will have much effect. It's going to be used to reinforce the faithful against facts and logic, but it may also be successfully used to recruit more people into the various cults of fantasy.

  • by Traa (158207) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @02:45PM (#30392906) Homepage Journal

    There is actually a parallel between why the media jumped on Tiger and the science flub so badly. In both cases the media attention is strengthened by the idea of breaking an otherwise stable 'uninteresting' topic.

    Tiger is important in the world (of entertainment). He is an awesome sportsman, successful, rich, married nice girl, blah, blah, whatever. Problem for the media has been that we already know all of this by now. There is rarely ever anything new, or better (media point of view) bad to report. Well...the car crash ignited this massive media blitz against him for the sake of _trying_ to bring the guy down to 'the rest of us'.

    Science is also seen as uninteresting. It's all logical stuff done by smart folks that know what they are doing. Nothing to report on. Problem is that those boring and smug scientists are behind all this science that is telling us to change our lives, and we can't come up with any reasons to tell them to buzz off, because well...those reasons typically have to be scientific, and we can't beat them at their own game.
    And up comes a reason we can slap them over the head with...they cheated, and we know all about that. You know what says the media to fuel a story they have been itching to get away with, they probably all cheat!

  • by coaxial (28297) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @02:57PM (#30393088) Homepage

    Here's yet another spin. Something bad happens and corrective action is urged. In fact it's so bad, that corrective action must be mandated because of the scale involved. The powers of the wealthy status quo don't want corrective action because they perceive it as cutting into their whiskey and Thai sex tour money. So they spend their money to create front groups to stall and question the there really is anything bad happening at all. They spend their money on politicians and talking heads to create "controversy," and spreading hokum about how that the bad thing is actually good, and how the people that want to stop the bad thing actually just want to steal all your money, piss on your Bible, round your family up into the UN mandated concentration camps, make you dig your own grave, and then machine gun you to death [glennbeck.com]. Predictably the bad thing gets worse, and because of the unwarranted delay will take more effort now to not to prevent (since at this point we've passed well beyond the tipping point) but rather to just mitigate compared to the amount of effort required at the very beginning. So now the status quo proclaims that the bad thing must not have been so bad, because now the opposition doesn't want to stop it, just slow it, and anyway now they want more money, so obviously it must have been a fraud in the first place. Meanwhile the status quo forces continue to rake in the cash.

    But no. This doesn't make sense because right-wing motivations are always pure as the driven snow, and only when those who I politically oppose argue for something that I already believe, are their motivations pure and conclusions correct, because I'm Right(tm). I know I'm right, because it's in my name, and I'm right. I'm a winner, and winners aren't wrong, so I'm right. If I was wrong, I'd have to change, but change is for losers, and I'm a winner, so I don't have to change, and because I don't have to change I'm right.

    You can bet that if a left-winger says that global warming is so bad that he wants nuclear power, he's sincere about it. If he says that global warming is so bad that he wants taxes and regulation, he could be sincere, but might be using the global warming as an excuse, since he wants those things anyway.

    Clearly you have never heard of James Lovelock and have no knowledge of the modern environmental and anti-climate change movement beyond what Glenn Beck tells you, since your "insight" is little more than a simplistic maligned caricature. But I'm sure you sleep well at night because it never enters your mind that you're premisses, let alone your conclusions, just might be wrong.

  • by Gorobei (127755) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @02:58PM (#30393108)

    You tried to be amusing, but failed, so I'll not keep you long ...

    Good idea, wouldn't want you to keep your supermodel friends waiting...

    We almost tripled our population in 50 years, so why hasn't the temperature tripled ? Of course, this is nonsensical, you'd argue, the temperature of the earth is not effected SOLELY by humans, there are any number of much larger, more important effects.

    Temperature tripled? In Kelvin or some other units? Please consult a basic physics textbook, a logician, or a psychiatrist.

    But yet, according to the GW crowd, humans have caused this disaster by pumping CO2 into the atmosphere ? Forget water vapour, forget methane, forget solar flares and the solar cycles, forget everything else, yes for sure it's those bloody humans and their CO2 !

    Wow, we climate guys didn't even consider these things. Thanks for pointing them out. This will just revolutionize the field.

    So which is it ? Either human output of CO2 is a major factor in global climate, in which case my "population tripling" assertion above should be correct ?

    Um, no, you are completely wrong. If all people in Burkina Faso were driving Escalades 50 miles a day, you would still be wrong.

    Or human output of CO2 is NOT a major factor in global climate, and any trivial adjustments we make won't make a damn of difference.

    You cannot have it both ways, you choose, okay ?

    Ok, I'll choose the simplest explanation: you are a troll or a moron.

  • by dargaud (518470) <[ten.duagradg] [ta] [2todhsals]> on Thursday December 10, 2009 @03:01PM (#30393148) Homepage

    If you are going to cry wolf on such a biblical scale as the AGW theory does, you really should make every attempt to be open and above reproach.

    You can't because it's been brewing for some decades, with newer models and hard facts (like antarctic cores [gdargaud.net]) trickling in slowly. At a certain point you are able to say that you have enough data to conclude, but if you wait until you have perfect data, it'll be FAR TOO LATE. We need to act now.

    Put the full raw data, the adjustments with detailed explanations

    That's exabytes of data and tens of thousands of publications and it's already out there for who wants it. What are opponents (who can't even understand basic statistics) going to do with it that scientists haven't already done anyway, except nitpick that there's a comma missing in a sentence and therefore the whole thing must be wrong like they did in this email fiasco ?!?

  • by niiler (716140) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @03:05PM (#30393226) Journal

    My favorite "data-based" proof of AGW skeptics is the "now that I've found the data sources finally I've done a simple graph of temperature vs. CO2 in excel which disproves AGW." The subtext to such comments is essentially that an outside analyst who only knows numbers (and not the field, or how the data were collected, or anything else other than computers and very basic statistics) is doing a correct analysis of the data whereas people who do understand the provenance of such data must be either hiding such findings as a community, or too incompetent to do a basic graph in excel. Furthermore such simple exercises ignore techniques like multiple linear regression (among others) which can account for the influence of multiple variables at the same time.

    Knowing the method of data collection is crucial to correct analysis. In my previous life as an astronomer, we would typically image objects by taking four pictures: 1) an on wavelength on target image, 2) an on wavelength off target image, 3) an off wavelength on target image, and 4) an off wavelength off target image. Proper data reduction meant that you first found intensity on band due to the target (diff12): image 1)- image 2, then the blackbody offset for being on target (diff34): image 3) - image 4), and then the true intensity of the object in that wavelength diff12-diff34. It helps if you draw a picture. It also helps if you know what blackbody radiation is, the bandwidth of your filter, and a hundred other small things that you won't see if you are just presented with a cache of images. The point being that there are usually good reasons for collecting the data in a certain manner, and if you don't know what these are, you probably won't be able to reduce it correctly.

    Does that mean that if you don't have an advanced degree in physics or climatology you shouldn't be able to come to the table and express your opinion? No. But many of the AGW skeptics seem unwilling to listen to the reasoning and experience of those who have been in the game for a while. It's almost as if I felt that my prior experience with a .22 rifle qualified me to tell General Petraeus how to run operations having not ever been on the ground in the Middle East. I am able to differentiate my opinion about the war from my ability to prosecute it. In the same way AWG critics need to understand that while they may bring some fresh ideas to the table, it is likely that much of their reasoning has already been rigorously examined and discarded by people with far more experience than them.

  • by Gonoff (88518) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @03:12PM (#30393324)

    The small stuff may be quite hard to predict. I can however make some make some more general predictions.

    It will rain in England more this month than it did in august.
    It will be colder in Moscow in February than it is now.
    There will be forest fires in California next year.

    I am not a meteorologist. I work in IT. The causes of these predictions are simple. I know that It rains more in the south UK at certain times than others. Anyone who did history should know that invaders do badly in Russian winters. Finally as far as I can see from the news, California has fires every summer.

    Climatologists have a lot better information than that about their field and they are a lot cleverer than me. One of the big problems in our world is that so many people think their opinions are valid in all circumstances. Just as I would want PHBs to take my advice in IT, I tend to believe the majority of climate scientists know more about their field than those who are not from that field.

  • by NiteShaed (315799) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @03:12PM (#30393338)

    Anthropogenic Global warming believers don't want anyone to drive SUVs without feeling bad about it, so they cherrypick data that supports their already determined philosophical standpoint.

    I don't really get this though. I can see why you'd want an SUV even if it's bad for the environment. They're comfortable, they hold a lot of stuff, they're cool looking, they're great off-road compared to a Prius. What I don't get is, why would AGW supporters care if you're driving a HMMWV if they don't feel that the theory is valid?
    It sounds like you're saying their position is: "I hate SUVs. I must find a way to make people stop driving them. I must fudge my data to make it look like SUVs are bad". My question is, why do you think they care about people driving SUVs in the first place?

  • by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @03:21PM (#30393484) Homepage

    Any "scientist" who works to "shut up" the opposition, has ceased to be a scientist...

    Does this also count, if the "skeptics" do not use science to make their case, are given media exposure much greater than their viewpoint is worth, and has funding that far exceeds the research funding of the real scientists? I guess than that trying to shut up the "creation scientists" is the wrong way to go - instead, we should use our limited time and resources endlessly debating them. Do that for flat earthers, too.

    Eventually all debates come down to which facts one wants to believe (unless you actually do the experiments yourself - and good luck with that). All I'm saying is that our peer review process, even with its flaws, works better than any other system out there that we've had up to this time (sort of like democracy). Those who seek to tear down this system (and, make no mistake, those who are blowing this one incident out of proportion are doing this), in the guise of "fixing it" are evil.

  • Re:What (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tobor the Eighth Man (13061) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @03:25PM (#30393548)

    I trust scientists, in general, but you're reading my comment wrong. There's no reason to trust a scientist by default. Studying biology for years makes you more qualified to observe and comment on matters of biology, but it doesn't necessarily make you right all the time.

    As you say, argument and evidence are what you should trust. That was my whole point.

  • by microbox (704317) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @03:40PM (#30393796)
    Typical. Ask a skeptic to produce something, and you get wild conspiracy theories.

    Who are these "plenty of scientists", or were you just speaking without having thought this through.

    If conspiracy is all you got, then that's is a pretty lame bet you're making on our childrens' future.
  • by jecblackpepper (1160029) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @03:41PM (#30393810) Homepage

    What's really funny is that 20-30 years ago the earth was apparently cooling for all the man-made reasons it is warming now.

    You know, I can't remember there being a massive consensus across the vast majority of climate scientists 20-30 years ago saying that the earth going through global cooling. No, there were a handful who came up with that theory and you know what, that theory has been shown to not be accurate.

    Personally, I'll go with the general consensus and the multiple independent data sets that indicate that global warming is happening and is caused by man. When I look at who supports the AGW theory and who is against it, I know which ones I would choose to trust more.

    Also consider that we don't get a second chance. The earth isn't a lab that we can reset if our "experiment" doesn't work. We had better err on the side of caution. Sure the world won't end, climate change won't wipe out the human race, but if it does continue the way it looks like it's going, then millions upon millions of people are going to die - though probably not you and me in the developed nations. Trillions of dollars worth of damage is going to be done to our infrastructure.

    There was a big stink when the hole in the Ozone Layer over Antarctica was huge, but nobody said a word when it shrunk back up and nearly disappeard. I'll bet most people think it's just getting bigger.

    This is just another area where climate scientists got it wrong, changed their mind about the whole thing, and the rest of the world just pretends nothing changed.

    You are aware that scientists worked out the CFCs were the cause of the Ozone hole and that the nations of world got together and did something about it - the Montreal Protocol [wikipedia.org]. When we stopped pumping CFCs into the atmosphere the ozone hole began to repair itself - just like the scientists predicted!

  • Re:qualified? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @03:51PM (#30393960) Homepage

    All true, but note that it did not prevent him from researching, getting published, and being recognized as the interesting physicist he was. The system worked. Those of you who are assisting in tearing down the system in your "useful idiot" mouthing of "Four legs good, two legs bad" will make sure that it never works again.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @04:07PM (#30394154) Homepage

    By your logic, what right did a (then) non professional scientist like Albert Einstein have, meddling in a respected and obviously 'more-qualified-than-thou' field of professional science?

    Actually, by the GP's logic, Albert Einstein's PHD in Physics made him qualified enough to question the established scientific thinking in the field of physics in a rigorous and meaningful way.

    And it's absolutely no accident or quirk of fate that it took someone who was well studied in the field to up-end the established thinking, while the 'theories' of gaggles and gaggles of uneducated crackpots claiming to be following in Einstein's footsteps continue to come to naught. Because Einstein, armed with his PHD, understood the existing physics and thus its realistic flaws and limitations. Whereas the crackpot is theorizing from a position of ignorance.

    Similarly, there are actual climatologists who take issue with certain studies and more so the strengths of their conclusions. They are useful. Then there are people who are not climatologists and don't understand climatology claiming it's all a huge conspiracy and it can't possibly be true because of the sun, ha ha, those stupid scientists never thought of the sun, or natural climate cycles, yeah, only the true rebels have ever thought of that etc etc.

    It's not hard to tell the difference.

    after all, only someone trained in, say, Canon Law would be qualified to speak authoritatively on christianity, right?

    To the extent that I accept the existence or need of any worldly 'authority' on Christianity (which is to say not much... after all it's ultimately about a personal relationship between you and the Creator), then absolutely yes. Because if you haven't studied the Bible and Theology beyond attending church on Sunday, then you sure as fuck aren't an authority on either.

    I mean, what are you trying to say? That you can be an 'authority' on something without having studied it? That only accepting people who actually know things about the subject at hand as authorities is elitist, or equivalent to Religious Orthodoxy?

    Einstein is a very bad example for that point of view!

  • Re:What (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 10, 2009 @04:19PM (#30394308)

    Uh, what?

    One single scientist won't give you his raw data because he doesn't have it, and therefore AGW is suddenly a hoax? Maybe you just didn't ask nicely enough!

    Your post is a target-rich environment for logical fallacies. Here's
    a link [logicalfallacies.info] to help you find them all.

  • by philipgar (595691) <pcg2NO@SPAMlehigh.edu> on Thursday December 10, 2009 @04:42PM (#30394706) Homepage

    The case for oxygen also doesn't have people receiving large amounts of money to deny the evidence no matter what.

    Correction: The case for oxygen also doesn't have people receiving large amounts of money to confirm or deny the evidence no matter what. If you believe the money is only going to people who don't believe in global warming, I have a bridge to sell you. Even the big oil companies now are playing the global warming card. They play both sides of the political spectrum, and always will. They know global warming can give them huge subsidies to develop alternative energy sources (with much of the money going to the pockets of the company). They also know that the government's response to global warming will likely be largely written by the big energy companies. This will enable them to limit exploration (who wants to do that anyhow, it's expensive and doesn't have immediate payouts) while creating artificial shortages in the market. This will result in higher prices for all of us, while the big energy companies get even larger profits, as they aren't paying to extract that expensive oil anymore. Of course distortions will exist overseas from governments not employing these measures, but largely, the big oil companies are likely to make a killing through the global warming issue. The real people who would suffer are the average joes (who now pay more for energy), companies in other fields (who pay more for energy), and in particular new people or businesses that would have come up to challenge the mega corporations dominance. You can be assured that the mega corporations will be able to release carbon at or near the levels they always have, however a new competitor will have a much harder time getting the permits to do this, and may not have the money to do it. Sounds like business as usual with mega corporations stepping in to stop competition wherever it can. Phil

  • by marcus (1916) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @04:42PM (#30394710) Journal

    There is a difference between what that the bigCs claim or predict and what you are predicting.

    Yes, I'd bet with you on all of your predictions, but try this:

    Will it rain more or less in England this year than last?

    Will it be colder in Moscow this Feb than last Feb.?

    Will Ca. have more or less fires this summer than last?

    We can extend that to more rain in the next 5 years than the last 5? etc.

    The problem is, the bigCs can't even get that right, and when they do notice that they haven't got it right, they try to hide it.

    Honest, climate change happens. It has been observed in every form of historical record that we can access and interpret. What's missing from the historical record is "why?".

    Today, many bigCs have come out and said "Man is why" and Man we have to change it. Let's assume that they do have it right(and are not hiding the fact that they have it wrong) and temps will climb over the next few centuries. Many, including myself have asked "Who says this climate change is bad?" Man is a tropical creature. It is getting warmer, why not welcome it?

    Many bigCs and the politicians that back them demand that exorbitant amounts of resources be spent in an effort to try and combat climate change. Why? What exactly is to be gained from all of this expense? At the moment we cannot even combat a tornado(all we can do is try and duck) and they propose that we take on Nature on a planetary scale?!??! It's ridiculous.

    Face it, the climate will change whether we want it to or not. It's natural. Live with it.

  • by Omestes (471991) <omestes@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Thursday December 10, 2009 @05:20PM (#30395362) Homepage Journal

    Your average blue-collar idiot is also smart enough to see a conflict of interest... such as it not being in Jiffy Lube's best interest to tell you that your car doesn't need an oil change. What do climatologist do for a living other than telling us the sky is falling? Do they study the changes in the Earth's climate over billions of years? No, geologists do that. When geologists start telling me its time to panic, I'll panic.

    Everyone has a conflict of interest. Everyone can see everyone else's conflict of interest, but intelligence comes to play when we can see our own.

    The anti-global warming crowd has just as large a conflict of interest as the pro-warming crowd. Thus the "conflict of interest" argument is mute. On one hand you have a handful of academics making money by working in the field, and a couple startups hoping to bank on the green trend. On the other hand you have big oil, some of the richest companies and governments in the world, and the average Joe who really doesn't want to change his life.

    Just because you have a financial incentive in something, doesn't invalidate the science. The pro's are making money, the cons are making TONS of money.

    Also, if a academic climate scientists found that there wasn't global warming, they wouldn't be out of a job. Climate science preexists the global warming brouhaha, as do the grants they received.

    such as it not being in Jiffy Lube's best interest to tell you that your car doesn't need an oil change.

    But in this debate we're saying you don't need an oil change, just because Jiffy Lube told you that you did. Which is pretty bad logic, if you ask me.

  • by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Thursday December 10, 2009 @05:52PM (#30395864) Journal

    common sense, gut instinct and 41 years in the school of life tells me something smells bad about the whole AGW agenda

    You should not rely on gut feelings when there is better information to hand. And there is. Ah, but you suspect that info is all cooked and made up, to support some agenda, which might be only to keep the government funding flowing? Your instincts missed much more plausible and likely explanations.

    Science is competitive, as everyone can see from some of the less than honest suggestions in those emails. If there was good evidence that Global Warming was not real or was not our fault, there'd be a bunch of scientists eager to enhance their reputations by publishing this. To suppose that the majority of scientists could have agreed on the same something that isn't true and joined a vast conspiracy is ridiculous, and that's why people who entertain such thinking are given short shrift and dismissed as cranks, nutcases, and conspiracy theorists.

    Perhaps you think it's not like that, it's more that this bandwagon has gotten sufficient momentum that most scientists are jumping on uncritically? You see, we have this thing called "peer review" that does a decent job of stopping that. Who is there qualified to check a scientist's work? Only another scientist, a peer. Obviously scientists can't spend too much time reviewing each other's work, so the system that's been adopted is to have 2 other scientists review each new work. It weeds out most of the garbage.

    Face it, any numbers older than about 50 years ago are based on best-guess, nothing more.

    No. This is another typical assertion, this claim that we don't or can't know very much. Oh yes we can! You think 50 year old data is worthless? You are wrong. Such data can and has been checked and cross checked. When tree ring data, lake sediment data, ice core data, historical data, and more, and from many different trees, lakes, ice cores, and observers are all in agreement, it's a safe bet that the data is good.

    Now for the other explanations you have overlooked. Chicken Little doesn't work for the government, Chicken Little works for the media. The media is forever "sexing up" the news because drama sells. Of course they've cherry picked the juiciest emails. They love controversy, and will happily jump on and enhanced manufactured controversy as well as report on real controversy. For instance, among the educated, there is no controversy about Evolution, and anyone who suggests there is a controversy between Evolution and Creationism hasn't troubled with "trivial" things like reading any of the evidence, or giving the evidence a fair hearing, and learning why scientists concluded that we evolved. Those people won't spend time informing themselves. The rest of us are understandably annoyed when these ignorant trolls who won't spend time studying the issue they want to discuss try to waste everyone's else time with nonsense.

    I always placed my belief that the scientists knew a hell of a lot more than me, and I could trust what they said. But recently, perhaps with age, has come the same cynicism I now feel for corporations, pharmaceuticals, politicians etc ...

    And finally, you throw in the false equivalence. You think scientists are just as prone as corporations to manipulating and manufacturing evidence to support a conclusion? We're all equally scummy? Wrong again. Of course science is not immune to misconduct. But I might suggest that corporations, politicians, etc are more prone to unethical behavior than scientists. Science is all about finding the facts and modeling them, an activity inherently resistant to cheating, lying, and denial, and in which the chances of getting away with any of that are much lower. Soon as a few other scientists try to duplicate some fantastic result and cannot, the trouble starts. Those who have tried (Cold Fusion comes to mind) have been caught

  • Re:a myth (Score:3, Insightful)

    by _Sharp'r_ (649297) <sharper@@@booksunderreview...com> on Thursday December 10, 2009 @06:07PM (#30396118) Homepage Journal

    For example CRU was bombarded with "freedom of information" demands for raw data that was not generated by them and that actually belonged to national meteorological services.

    No, actually, CRU was sent FOI requests for a listing of what data they included in their analysis and after a lot of resistance and trying to not reply to anything (documented in the emails), finally decided they could get away with just saying that the data is available from the original sources and thus they didn't think they had to provide anything. When it's very clear in the request discussion that what was actually being asked for was the information on what specific parts of the publicly available data they used.

    It's impossible to try and recreate their model and their results without knowing which data it's based on. Just saying, "All the data is available somewhere, but we won't tell you which parts of it we actually used" doesn't respond to what is a legitimate request from someone trying to fairly reproduce their results.

    If someone said, "We did a study of car crash frequency" it's completely reasonable to ask "What regions and data sets did you use in your study?" and not be told, "It's all crash data available online, but we won't tell you which parts we actually used in our study".

  • Re:a myth (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tgibbs (83782) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @06:20PM (#30396298)

    It's impossible to try and recreate their model and their results without knowing which data it's based on. Just saying, "All the data is available somewhere, but we won't tell you which parts of it we actually used" doesn't respond to what is a legitimate request from someone trying to fairly reproduce their results.

    Why would anybody try to recreate their analysis exactly? That's a complete waste of time. When you recreate somebody else's analysis, you are likely to end up simply recreating their errors. A more scientific approach is to do your own independent analysis using the available data. There is certainly plenty available. If the conclusions are at all robust, they should not depend on the fine details of exactly which data was used.

  • by lawpoop (604919) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @08:45PM (#30397544) Homepage Journal

    Yes, the scientific way to silence an idiot is to ask him lots of hard questions, and let him keep the floor as long as he's able. When he can't answer those questions to the audience's satisfaction, then it's time to deliver your own answers

    This is exactly why science is failing to grab the popular mind. If you do this, all you are doing is giving a smooth-talking fool all he needs to convince an audience who isn't smart enough or doesn't have enough background to know better. This is exactly what George Monbiot is talking about: Pretending the climate email leak isn't a crisis won't make it go away [guardian.co.uk]

  • by Foobar of Borg (690622) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @08:49PM (#30397578)

    These morally dubious (sarcasm there) ivory tower types earned their "arrogance", I use irony quotes there because someone "admitting to know more than a NASCAR watching moron" has become arrogant. If someone spent 8 years of their life trying to be proficient in a feild, I'd say they know more than some blue collar worker, and earned having a preferred opinion on that topic.

    Or, to put it another way, if a person with a PhD in Physics tried to tell an auto mechanic how to do his job, he would rightly be laughed at and told to STFU. It should also work the other way.

  • by Fareq (688769) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @09:35PM (#30397898)

    I hate this debate.

    The reason that I hate this debate is this:

    I'm not a PhD. I'm not a climate scientist of any sort. I took a couple of courses in undergrad, so I know just the smallest bit more than the typical lay person.

    And I don't believe.

    That is to say that I am not at this time convinced that there is a significant trend of global surface temperature increase that is directly attributable to human-caused emissions of CO2 and other gasses into the atmosphere that is, failing activity to greatly curtail these emissions, will continue apace long into the future, with devastating consequences to humanity including massive flooding in low-lying areas and massive, unending drought in other areas.

    That is more-or-less the thesis of the "consensus viewpoint" on climate change, is it not?

    I won't dispute at all that the last 10-15 years were hotter on average than the 10-20 years prior. I won't even dispute that the record appears to indicate a general increase in temperatures over the last 50 years that is at a faster pace than temperature increases over the 80-90 years prior.

    I have a few issues with the big thesis, though. And because there is so much stupid on "my" side (that is, among the "skeptics"), the debate has devolved to the point that little if any actual data is getting out. I don't know which side started the stupid, but there is so much stupid now on both sides that there's just nothing going on anymore.

    I have seen pretty charts and graphs showing proxies for global mean temperature going back a few hundred years, a few thousand years, and one (ice cores, I think) going back like 500,000 years. These charts are often made for what I'll call political effect, and so have the last 500,000 years of data using one model, but the most recent 50 years or so using actual live temperatures.

    That's disingenuous. What I really want to see are the following:

    Graphs of all of these proxies that begin only at the earliest period for which we have consistent data and end sometime in the last 5 years, with each proxy either on a separate graph or as a clearly separate dataset within a single graph. The last 150 years of actual temperature data may appear on this graph, but only as a separate dataset, NOT appended onto the end of any of the proxy sets.

    Then, I want to see another set of graphs. On each of these graphs, I want to see exactly two datasets: the last 150-200 years of data using one of the proxies, ending no more than 5 years ago as one dataset, and the actual recorded temperatures as the other dataset.

    I don't want to see any data-smoothing or other wonkiness in the graphs. And I want the graphs to be put together honestly, with the raw data and their sources available upon request.

    If I saw those things, I could draw some conclusions from them. They are not everything... all that these graphs would do is illustrate whether or not the last 50 years of warming is or is not a statistically significant outlier.

    If those graphs would in fact show that the temperature is rising much more rapidly in the past 50 years than any similar experience over the last 500,000 years, then that is saying something quite significant. It still doesn't speak to CO2, of course... and I would want to see some additional data regarding the amount of CO2 humans emit, the amounts of carbon and CO2 moving through various phases of the "carbon cycle" each year (are we emitting .0001% of the annual cycle? 99.9999% of the annual cycle, or somewhere in between?)

    All of these things are reasonable to ask to see. I can't draw conclusive proof from any of it. But I could become more informed. I don't have to know all of the details: how to collect the proxy data, how to analyze the data, what it all means... I won't be able to be absolutely certain... but then, that's not the point.

    I just want honest science.

    And right now, I have seen very little real data that wasn't obviously manipulate

  • by angel'o'sphere (80593) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @09:54PM (#30398004) Homepage Journal


    However the AGW camp has data *models* which is a way of saying "this is my best hypothesis thusfar" ...

    AND?????? What the heck do you want to say with that?

    Clima change is certain. The only things where the models are uncertain is: does x billion tons CO2 increase in the atmosphere translate into 0.1 degrees temperature increase or 0.102 or 0.2 or 0.25 or what ever. Thats the point where the models are weak.

    What makes me frightened meanwhile when I read /. is that there are so many slash dotters who seem to believe we are not in deep shit. Scary, really.

    angel'o'sphere

  • by flyneye (84093) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:04PM (#30398262) Homepage

    Actually any layman with concerns is qualified to question science.
    Science, if truly based on fact should have no trouble defending itself.
    Rabid apologists are part of the problem, that only increase laymens distrust due to centuries of propaganda from government ,industry and religion.
    60 some MB of expose should be addressed in public seriously and not poo- pooed by apologists with a personal stake. When the evidence is this damning in a laymans eyes, some pretty forthright talk from investigation by more neutral parties is definitely in order.
    This fiasco is really a good thing and iconic infallibility being accorded to the liberal wing of science studying climate is in bad need of 10ccs of reality.

"The way of the world is to praise dead saints and prosecute live ones." -- Nathaniel Howe

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