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Earth Science

The Limits To Skepticism 1093

Posted by kdawson
from the sometimes-you-just-gotta-say dept.
jamie found a long and painstaking piece up at The Economist asking and provisionally answering the question: "Does the spirit of scientific scepticism really require that I remain forever open-minded to denialist humbug until it's shown to be wrong?" The author, who is not named, spent several hours picking apart the arguments of one Willis Eschenbach, AGW denialist, who on Dec. 8 published what he called the "smoking gun" — it was supposed to prove that the adjustments climate scientists make to historical temperature records are arbitrary to the point of intentional manipulation. The conclusion: "[H]ere's my solution to this problem: this is why we have peer review. Average guys with websites can do a lot of amazing things. One thing they cannot do is reveal statistical manipulation in climate-change studies that require a PhD in a related field to understand. So for the time being, my response to any and all further 'smoking gun' claims begins with: show me the peer-reviewed journal article demonstrating the error here. Otherwise, you're a crank and this is not a story. And then I'll probably go ahead and try to investigate the claim and write a blog post about it, because that's my job. Oh, and by the way: October was the hottest month on record in Darwin, Australia."
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The Limits To Skepticism

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  • gone (Score:1, Insightful)

    by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @10:35PM (#30419116) Homepage

    How can you re-examine the original data when it's all been erased?

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @10:35PM (#30419118)

    show me the peer-reviewed journal article demonstrating the error here

    Of course, on of the issues revealed is that they were preventing dissenting opinions from being accepted in peer reviewed journals...

    You can prove anything when you're allowed to select the peers reviewing.

  • What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OverlordQ (264228) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @10:36PM (#30419122) Journal

    For some reason I don't think going, "Lalalalalala, I can't hear you" instead of refuting the points they bring up is going to engender somebody to change their viewpoint, rather the opposite. If somebody is already believing there is a cover-up this is about the only thing you could do, besides admit it, that reinforces that idea.

  • The answer is yes. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by timmarhy (659436) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @10:42PM (#30419170)
    The moment you demand all skeptics believe "just because", it stops being science. global warming is a perfect example of something with questionable science reaching the point it's being treated as a religion, and anyone questioning it is a heretic.

    we are in serious trouble if someone can't question manual manipulation of dataset's which are the basis of spending trillions of dollars of tax payers money on carbon trading. it's even more disturbing is the fact they get labels such as "denialist" - if you are incapable of leaving the emotional responses at the door, then you aren't fit to be argueing the science.

  • by Uberbah (647458) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @10:43PM (#30419178)

    For some reason I don't think going, "Lalalalalala, I can't hear you" instead of refuting the points they bring up

    Because it's a waste of time, that's why. Offering evidence to a denialist ostrich is like showing a copy of Obama's birth certificate and birth announcements to Birther Republicans: no matter how much hard evidence you provide, it's never enough. Denialist ostriches aren't disagreeing because they have a qualitative or quantitative argument to the contrary, because their objections are based on ideology, not science.

  • by Nutria (679911) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @10:47PM (#30419202)

    Because it's a waste of time, that's why. Offering evidence to a denialist ostrich

    Not every climate skeptic is a denialist ostrich. Many of us can be converted with patience, lucidity and openness.

  • by OverlordQ (264228) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @10:47PM (#30419204) Journal

    Yes, but you're not trying to convert them, as you said it wont happen. What you're doing is trying to convince the people on the fence. They see, somebody laying out refuting the points of the AGW crowd, which then responds with basically "U STUPID", that isn't going to gain any more fans.

  • by timmarhy (659436) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @10:49PM (#30419212)
    unfortunately the heretic repsonse is all too common. here in australia it's so out of control we actually have a department of climate change (thanks kevin bloody rudd). we sent 60 people to the summit, even a baggage handler. this whole thing is going to be a big waste of money, i can already see it.
  • by techno-vampire (666512) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @10:54PM (#30419230) Homepage
    because their objections are based on ideology, not science.

    From where I sit, it's the people putting arbitrary "corrections" into the programs to make them come out the way they want and refusing to accept any articles that don't toe the party line into their "peer reviewed journals" who look like religious zealots, and the soi-disant "deniers" are the ones who are trying to do things in a proper scientific manner. Remember, boys and girls, if the facts don't support your theory, a scientist changes the theory, while an activist conceals the inconvenient facts.

  • Re:gone (Score:2, Insightful)

    by arpad1 (458649) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @10:57PM (#30419246)
    No, "they" are ridiculed because of the absence of anything approximating proof of the hypothesis of anthropogenic global warming.

    If there were proof there wouldn't be any need for ridicule but the absence of proof elevates the value of ridicule from mere fun to pivotal.
  • Science (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @10:57PM (#30419248)

    Most of the anti-AGW crowd is simply doing armchair, a-priori reasoning behind why AGW is false. "Humans are too puny to have an effect!" they say, or "The climate has changed drastically fast even without humanity being around!" Often there are political reasons for holding this position--certain arguments on how to deal with GW are certainly political in nature, and may come into conflict with one's own dogma, and thus psychologically one may be predisposed to oppose GW on that basis.

    HOWEVER, that does not mean that some people that argue for AGW do not fit into the same shoes. Remember, just because you are "correct" does not mean your reasoning is. Naturally, someone that hates big business and "the man" may also psychologically have a reason to believe in AGW--another reason to rage on about the status quo.

    If I was a betting man I'd bet for AGW, but really I know the science behind it is quite complicated and I know I'm nowhere near competent to make a good, solid argument on the matter, so I must approach the issue with a tempered agnosticism while leaning a bit towards the AGW side because that's the verdict by a vast majority of hard-working PhDs, and I highly doubt that climatologists consist of some dark, left-wing communist sect of economy-destroying conspirators. That is what true skepticism is, noncommitance (particularly emotionally) to a position particularly when you are not an expert on it. Many on both sides of the GW debate are not skeptics but reactionaries with their thought ruled by political underpinnings. Most of the people I know that rant about how AGW is a fraud no absolutely nothing about the mechanisms scientists go about acquiring the data on past climate conditions.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @10:57PM (#30419250)

    It really does weaken the position of those who support the AGW theory. Why? Because it is name calling and over simplification. Pretending that everyone who doesn't agree with you is simply in denial of what is happening and then making up a cute little label is not the sort of thing that speaks to a rational debate. It is the kind of thing a con man would do, and thus makes people wonder, why would you use those tactics?

    So as a start, you have to understand that there are some major differences in terms of what people believe who are skeptical of the AGW thing. These are just some examples:

    1) There are people who believe the whole thing is a crock, there is no warming, it is all made up, etc, etc. These are the only people who could be called in denial, by any stretch of the imagination.

    2) There are people who believe that there has been a warming trend recently, however the trend is entirely natural. It is right in line with the kind of trends seen historically, and thus there is no cause to believe this is anything but a natural occurrence. They are skeptical that humans are contributing in any significant fashion.

    3) There are people who believe that there is warming, and indeed man is contributing to it, but that the result will not be problematic, and perhaps beneficial. They do not accept the conclusion that the warming will lead to catastrophe, even though they do accept that humans are at least partly causing it. They are skeptical that a warmer Earth will be bad for humans.

    4) There are people who believe that people are causing the warming, and that it will lead to worse conditions, but that it would be even worse to attempt to stop it. They believe that the money spent on trying to stop such a thing could be better spent on other things to improve human life. The sort of thing that while warming might cause X additional deaths per year, spending money on that instead of other things would lead to 5X additional deaths per year. They are skeptical that the proposed solutions are the best.

    5) There are people who believe that people are causing the arming and that it needs to be stopped, but that reducing output won't do that. We need a different solution like geoengineering or something. Reducing CO2 output wouldn't help, at least not enough to matter, so we've got to find another solution. They are skeptical that the proposed solutions would do anything.

    6) There are people who believe that people are causing the warming, and that it will be bad, but there is fuck-all we can do about it. We are too far along, shit is going to happen anyhow, so we might as well apply our energies and money to surviving the change, not to trying to prevent it, since that it impossible. They are skeptical anything can be done at all, other than to try and survive the change.

    So a big part of the problem with trying to frame everyone as a "denialist" is the simplification of the argument, to try and say "Oh they all just ignore everything that is said." No, in fact, many don't. They simply come to a different conclusion. Also they may well find enough evidence to sustain part of the argument, but not all of it. You find people who say "Sure, I'll buy the world is getting warmer. We've got pretty good instrumental data on that. However I'm not so sure about CO2 being the cause. The data on that is more shaky. Either way I'm really skeptical that a warmer Earth will be a bad thing, there's essentially no data to support that." They aren't just saying "La la la, I can't hear you!" They are just not convinced by all the arguments.

    Well, when you simply dismiss them as a "denialist" and act as though they are a moron, that does nothing to convert them. In fact, it may do the opposite. They say "Hmmm, this is the kind of thing con men do. When someone questions them, they just attack and shout down their questioner. They are afraid of scrutiny. They want you to accept what they say, unquestioningly. Why are AGW proponents acting like this? Could they be con men?"

    So seriously, knock it off with the label. You are doing nothing to help.

  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @10:57PM (#30419258) Homepage Journal

    none, not one of these people has been able to reliably prove that humans have anything to do with climate change.

    And why would that matter? If we believe the climate will change to reduce our living space thorough riding sea levels then we should do something about that, regardless of the root cause.

  • by br00tus (528477) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @10:59PM (#30419268)

    Outside of the United States (other than some ignored sectors in England) this is not even a problem. Scientists and the intelligentsia know about global warming and how it is caused by humans. I'm not even sure how data from the last century could be manipulated - anyone with a thermometer can verify it, and the so-called "disputed" data is all very recent. All of this is really more of a window into the American psychology or politics or what have you than anything to do with peer reviewed climate change. Even if one scientist was manipulating data, which is not the case anyhow, that would not change the laws of physics where the burning of gasoline produces carbon dioxide. Some anonymous criminals break into a university's computers, hold onto the data for months while they cherry pick certain quotes, then release it just before the Copenhagen summit. This has no effect anywhere except in the United States, where a Senator from a fundamentalist, rural state demands the anonymous criminal's accusations be investigated. In a country where people have to battle to teach evolution and common descent of life, and not that some magic man in the clouds created all living things several thousand years ago; where we have a $27 million dollar museum in Kentucky showing this latter theory or faith or whatever, is this the country where we want to hear the opinions of the amateurs from?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 12, 2009 @10:59PM (#30419270)
    I wouldn't want to be lynched either.
  • PhD required? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheCaptain (17554) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @10:59PM (#30419272)

    Average guys with websites can do a lot of amazing things. One thing they cannot do is reveal statistical manipulation in climate-change studies that require a PhD in a related field to understand.

    Aye, there's the rub...

    I think the author is overlooking two simple facts: not everyone with a website is an "average guy", and that there are more than a few people in the world who are capable of understanding advanced mathematics and statistical methods who don't have the related PhD that apparently enables one to do so.

  • Re:reply by Willis (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jasonwc (939262) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @11:00PM (#30419280)
    Thanks for the link. I know that on Slashdot you're not actually supposed to read the articles, but nonetheless, I found the Economist post and the author's response illuminating. The author raises good points about the dangers of over-reliance on the peer review system. It's a good system but it is not doesn't always work - crap gets through and good articles aren't published. Simply ignoring any non peer-reviewed work puts far too much faith into the system.
  • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @11:01PM (#30419294) Journal
    There are tons of examples of peer review not working. Even ignoring papers that are outright fraud but still manage to get through, scientific journals are places for debate, they don't establish truth. Any particular paper (that is good) will be looking at certain evidence, and possibly be considering its implications, it doesn't establish the final word on the matter.

    Now, you can choose to rely on the opinions of scientists to form your opinions, and often that is enough, but if you really want to be sure of any particular topic, you should investigate it yourself. It might take a lot of work, but you will be rewarded with knowledge.

    That said, global warming isn't all that inaccessible. If you have a basic background in math and physics, you can get close to the cutting edge just by reading the IPCC report [www.ipcc.ch] since its such a great summary of the field. I guarantee you will quadruple your understanding of the topic just by reading that alone, and it will give you a good launching point to dig deeper, because everything it talks about is directly referenced to real peer reviewed papers.

    Some interesting things I found reading the IPCC report:
    • It isn't entirely certain that the net effect of human pollution is warming, it could also be cooling (see chapter 2).
    • Despite some sensationalistic propaganda floating around, sea level rises are happening slower than geological processes (plate tectonics etc) on any given coast (see chapter 5).
    • There is no reliable knowledge of how much CO2 has affected the current warming trend. The report says 'most of it' based on the logic that they can't think of another explanation.(see chapter 9)
    • The writers of the IPCC report aren't very confident of their main conclusion, which is that it is very likely that most of the recent warming is human caused. In the report, they are very careful to qualify that statement; although they are not so careful in press conferences (see the synthesis report).

    Every self-respecting geek who is willing to opine on the subject of global warming should read that report. Otherwise they are leaving themselves uninformed.

  • by PCM2 (4486) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @11:03PM (#30419302) Homepage

    I am very sceptical with regards to a "not named" author claims... ;-)

    Before everyone starts putting down the author for being anonymous, please observe that this is The Economist. For those of you not familiar with that particular publication, one of its distinguishing traits is that it does not publish bylines. Ever. Editorials in The Economist are backed by the reputation of the editorial staff of The Economist, not of any individual writer.

  • Re:gone (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Volante3192 (953645) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @11:04PM (#30419310)

    So, what about NASA's climate data? What about NOAA's climate data?

    Oh, but those weren't "debunked" so we're just going to conveniently ignore it. You cannot pick and choose what datasets you're going to side with. You have to either accept them all or debunk them all.

    I'm waiting...

  • Re:gone (Score:4, Insightful)

    by chebucto (992517) * on Saturday December 12, 2009 @11:05PM (#30419318) Homepage

    All what original data?

    You can't mean all data behind the climate models, because some huge faction of it is still available. You must be referring to the small subset of it that was deleted before Climate Change became recognized as the important issue it is.

    Heck, a lot of the Original Data behind such famous theories as gravity and a round earth was deleted, too. That has no bearing on the fact that those theories were proven true. Exact same thing with human-caused climate change.

  • by Daniel_Staal (609844) <DStaal@usa.net> on Saturday December 12, 2009 @11:06PM (#30419324)

    The article's point isn't to ignore all that. It's that to say that some random blogger likely doesn't have the tools to correctly analyze the data, and may well be doing their own shaping of the facts. And proving that to yourself is going to take a couple of hours (at least) of research and your time. The end result of which is probably going to be that the people who posted the data were aware of the factor in question, went and checked what the source was, and have a good explanation for what's going on with the data and why they did what they did.

    All of which is public record, and has been analyzed six ways from tuesday, by people with far better credentials than you or the blogger is likely to have.

    So, in this writer's opinion, it's not worth his time. If someone can get into the peer-reviewed journals, where the standards of competence and knowledge are much higher than on a random blog, he'll pay attention. Because every time he's gone and done the background check on some blogger's new climate data scandal, he's found it isn't a scandal at all, and quite often (like in this case) the blogger already knew that. But was posting it as a scandal anyway.

    So it was a waste of time, both to read the blog and to take it seriously.

  • by srjh (1316705) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @11:08PM (#30419332)

    They weren't preventing dissenting opinions from being accepting into peer reviewed journals - they expressed disappointment in the fact that the peer review process wasn't doing its job: weeding out bad science.

    The main paper in question was a literature review paper (funded by the Marshall Institute [wikipedia.org] and the American Petroleum Institute [wikipedia.org]) full of bad science, where the actual authors of the papers cited claim to have been profoundly misintepreted, and in which severe methodological flaws have since been found. One of the authors doesn't even believe that CFCs affect the ozone layer. It should have stood as a textbook example of why we have the peer review process to begin with - it's not a platform for anyone to publish scientific nonsense.

    Scientists actually are pretty skeptical people by nature, those who seem to be saying "I'm a skeptic! I don't know the science, but I'm absolutely certain it's a liberal hoax and we're all being lied to"... not so much. Most "skeptics" are nothing more than contrarians; skepticism to me implies a willingness to investigate the issue for one's self, but most of the denial movement shows such a poor grasp of the science that they clearly haven't done so.

  • by wizardforce (1005805) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @11:14PM (#30419370) Journal

    I believe that the climate science isn't the problem in terms of AGW; the problem is that the solutions to AGW are arguably economically questionable. Hence the issue has become intensely politicized. People who strongly oppose the proposed solutions to AGW are often the same ones who tend to argue aainst AW as a whole regardless of their actual knowlede of the topic. People need to be able to separate the two issues from one another, that is to say that the existence of AGW is a separate issue than any solutions to AGW. However, it will never ever happen. Both ends of the issues will not yield ground and everyone ends up losing something in the bickering.

  • by Volante3192 (953645) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @11:15PM (#30419378)

    The moment you demand all skeptics believe "just because", it stops being science.

    Understanding why the speed of light in a vacuum is the universe's speed limit requires a 300 year history in scientific advances, and that's considered dogma.

    Sometimes you just have to accept that the other person just might know more about a topic than you.

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @11:16PM (#30419384) Journal

    Take a look at the data for your fucking self, but quit doing the bidding for Exxon Mobile.

    I'm not so worried about Exxon Mobil. I am worried about the economy as a whole if we tie both our hands behind our collective backs. Particularly when we can't promise that the nations that compete with us on the global stage (*cough* China *cough*) will do the same.

    What good does gutting our economy do when China continues to bring a new coal fired power plant online every week? What will that accomplish in the long run other than to disadvantage the next generation of Americans and reduce our standard of living?

  • by amRadioHed (463061) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @11:17PM (#30419396)

    The "birthers" would say the same of themselves. Most irrational people don't think of themselves as irrational, of course that's just another example of them being unable to face reality.

    Some of them are different, but when I come across them... let's just say I'm skeptical.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @11:18PM (#30419404) Journal
    I have. It's not very convincing. In fact, based on your dogmatic certainty, I suspect it is YOU who has not read the research carefully. [www.ipcc.ch]

    When you get done, you will realize: everyone knows that CO2 makes the earth warmer because of the greenhouse effect. Not everyone acknowledges that there will be catastrophic effects if we don't limit CO2 output. In fact, depending on how we limit CO2 output, it is not even certain that the effects of the limitation won't be worse than doing nothing at all. Certainly the opportunity cost is worth taking into consideration.
  • by techno-vampire (666512) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @11:19PM (#30419414) Homepage
    It really does weaken the position of those who support the AGW theory. Why? Because it is name calling and over simplification.

    It's also a blatant attempt to demonize and marginalize them by linking them implicitly to Holocaust deniers.

  • by AtomicSnarl (549626) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @11:19PM (#30419416) Homepage
    More to the point, peer review is NOT theory validation -- it is supposed to be a final edit by an impartial party to find errors of fact, reason, and presentation. It is never supposed to be the "Stamp of Approval" about the topic, it is only a filter to weed out papers not yet ready for publication.

    Theory validation comes from those who read the papers and use the information to test, retest, or modify their own experiments to either confirm, deny, or suggest alternatives to the information presented.
  • by metacosm (45796) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @11:19PM (#30419418)

    #1. Some of the data was deleted (obviously, it has been mentioned many times).

    #2. Some of the data was contractually banned from being shared (the Met is working on getting this fixed, sent requests to 180 counties).

    Secret and deleted data is NOT a good basis for anything, and the Met agrees, and wants to redo it transparently over the next three years.

    I hope the Met gets permission to do that, I would love some really transparent / open process work around this.

    I was shocked when I found out that stuff based on "secret" or unpublishable data, or deleted data was allowed to be written up in a peer reviewed journal. How the hell do you review something you can't see the data to?

    While this is a 'pressing' issue in the west, and they there is a strong bias for action, screwing it up and having bad science will have a huge impact on how it is viewed by India and China in the future... it is worth doing it all in a hyper-transparent and straightforward way.

  • by khallow (566160) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @11:19PM (#30419420)

    No, you can't. You can stonewall outsiders at best, and only until they are willing to circumvent your avenue of peer review despite the hardships and go public.

    Which may be what's happening now.

  • by wizardforce (1005805) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @11:20PM (#30419422) Journal

    It's only anomalous if there's only one set of data points. YOu can take samples from all over the planet if you wish and compare the various samples which significantly reduces any local effects that skew the data. Isotope ratios can also be used to give an idea of the climate as well. Just because we haven't been keeping direct temperature records does not mean that the data set just stops.

  • I see... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Treeluvinhippy (545814) <[treeluvinhippy] [at] [snet.net]> on Saturday December 12, 2009 @11:25PM (#30419454)

    The author is a skeptic only as long as their skepticism and logic leads to conclusions that match the authors personal beliefs. As soon as it doesn't, well lets put a damper on critical thinking. Mmkay?

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @11:27PM (#30419472) Journal

    I would love to see the US become a leader in green technology. I'm not convinced that the best way to accomplish that is to impose new taxes that dramatically raise the cost of living for American citizens while increasing the size and scope of government. I don't see how you build a green economy by gutting the current one and diverting much needed capital into Uncle Sam's coffers.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @11:28PM (#30419478)

    If the dissenters are morons who don't understand it, what does that make the believers? Blind-faith followers? You can't have your cake and eat it too.

    Ultimately it comes down to reputation - nobody can be an expert in everything. So you - as a regular guy whose vote doesn't really count anyway - have to rely on the reputations of the people making claims and the reputations of those refuting the claims. Even the people who do have a vote - politicians, the men with man-sacks full of gold, etc - have to ultimately rely on reputations too, just they have an obligation to do a much better job of evaluating those reputations before making up their minds.

  • by Draek (916851) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @11:36PM (#30419542)

    The moment you demand all skeptics believe "just because", it stops being science. global warming is a perfect example of something with questionable science reaching the point it's being treated as a religion, and anyone questioning it is a heretic.

    If you *know* it's questionable, then send your explanation to a peer-reviewed journal for all of us to see.

    You can't? pity, but chances are then you're no different from the thousands of other "armchair scientists" making outrageous claims with no actual backing, as the guy analyzed in TFA. And making actual scientists try and reason with all of you is an utter waste of their time, which we'd rather they spent doing their actual job.

  • But if the peer-review process itself has been corrupted from within, what then? The basis for your trust is gone. Those who gamed the system have made it impossible for you to continue to practice as you have.

    To be a good scientist now, you must _refuse_ to participate in any review process involving the same group of peers as before. You must have a clean assessment with a new team. You must re-affirm old measurements, re-assess old assumptions, and come to fresh conclusions.

    In a word, you must rebuild your body of facts. Climate science has fallen victim to one of the oldest of human weaknesses: we "know" when we have the right answer, so we become very good at explaining away all evidence to the contrary.

    Climate science is like a sensor suspected of recording data incorrectly. You must to send it back to the lab, re-calibrate and re-measure. There is no other choice.

  • Re:gone (Score:1, Insightful)

    by AlexLibman (785653) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @11:45PM (#30419606)

    No, it is "Global Warming" that will be remembered as a kooky religion centuries from now, along the lines of the Aztec Human Sacrifices and the Spanish Inquisition, though with far more dangerous consequences for the human civilization as a whole. You have absolutely no evidence to back up your alleged "moral imperative" for the socialist agenda that the AGW hoaxers are trying to push!

    You keep ignoring the fact that the BURDEN OF PROOF is on YOU to conclusively prove: that climate is changing AND that the change is economically significant AND that the change is harmful AND that it is anthropogenic AND that the socialist plan they're pushing would be effective AND that it would be more effective than the more capitalist approaches (there'd be quite a few ideas on our side as well) AND that the benefits of implementing this plan would offset the costs in the long term. The only thing the power-hungry socialist elite that is pushing this bull has proven so far is their capacity for deceit!

    Humanity has reached a fork in the road between reason and blind faith, with the latter being represented by socialist scams like this one, which serve the emerging global ruling class to the detriment of everyone else. They want to clip the wings of the human civilization so that they could remain in control, keep us from multiplying and spreading toward the stars, and utilizing existing technologies through which this solar system alone can feed trillions!

    Not that I would expect some basic arithmetic to change your mind when you even fall for that "hottest month" mind-trick. Every year there's a hottest / coldest month in at least one of the world's thousands of cities, given that accurate temperature records are only several hundred months old, and given the "urban warming" effect that is completely different from GLOBAL warming!

  • by fooslacker (961470) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @11:45PM (#30419614)
    Ok, I don't really care if he wrote anonymously or not but here is why I have an issue with him.

    Well, here's my solution to this problem: this is why we have peer review. Average guys with websites can do a lot of amazing things. One thing they cannot do is reveal statistical manipulation in climate-change studies that require a PhD in a related field to understand. So for the time being, my response to any and all further "smoking gun" claims begins with: show me the peer-reviewed journal article demonstrating the error here. Otherwise, you're a crank and this is not a story.

    Should you're words carry more weight because you have been trained in an area you are speaking on?...yep. Should you be completely dismissed because you don't have a PhD?...no and to suggest it is irresponsible and idiotic. To also suggest that someone not so decorated by academia can never show statistical manipulation is stupid as well. This is the modern version of holding mass in latin so that you have to come through the priest to get your religion. Modern "science" and more specifically the elitist academics need to be careful before there is a scientific backlash/reformation and the baby gets thrown out with the bath water. When you act like this and spread these types of attitudes you do more harm that good and eventually no one listens even if you're right.

  • by Bios_Hakr (68586) <xptical&gmail,com> on Saturday December 12, 2009 @11:49PM (#30419630) Homepage

    Your first point only holds true at current prices. As more people come into the "modern" era, the prices will go up. In short, those who are now in 3rd world conditions can never really get out of those conditions in an oil-based economy.

  • by arminw (717974) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @11:50PM (#30419644)

    ...the burning of gasoline produces carbon dioxide....

    Indeed it does, but where was all this carbon dioxide, before it became fossil fuel? Was not the carbon from every bit of fossil fuel and coal that has already been burned and that is still underground in the atmosphere once upon a time? The earth was a lot warmer then, but that seems to be good, because living things not only survived, but thrived. Aside from the unproven theory that the ocean levels would be significantly higher, why would a warmer Earth be bad?

    Why don't you stick to science, rather than bringing religion or politics into the discussion? The pilfered e-mails show that these supposedly neutral scientists have a political agenda. That is why they labeled it a "travesty" that the data doesn't support their socialistic political agenda.

  • So... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by oGMo (379) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @11:52PM (#30419658)

    So you judge information based on who told you rather than what they told you?

  • by jmerlin (1010641) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:05AM (#30419750)
    This is interesting to me:

    "One thing they cannot do is reveal statistical manipulation in climate-change studies that require a PhD in a related field to understand."


    Emphasis mine. I'm a math major, granted, but I can understand it just fine. It's just basic statistics. It's numbers, if you will. Being a meteorologist doesn't enter you into some magical realm where you have special magical numbers that behave completely differently than the number systems everyone else uses in mathematics. And certainly being a Ph.D. meteorologist doesn't require you even be a bachelor in Math, does it? So how would even having a doctorate degree in meteorology or any number of RELATED FIELDS result in one being capable of understanding statistics? Honestly, this absurd statement made by the author sums up what I felt reading the entire article. It's rife with the rantings of someone who doesn't really understand what's going on, clearly admits he doesn't understand the math, yet wants to chime in and put his $.02 in while discrediting someone else just as unaccredited as himself. This is sheer lunacy.


    Any undergraduate student taking a statistics course can tell you when you're biased or hinted at what a dataset OUGHT to look like (expectations, or beliefs), the decisions you make on manipulations and adjustments to the graphs are almost dedicated to proving those correct, even if they're wrong. Just like when you sit down with a postulate you need to prove. You have the end result, and you are given some basic facts, now you're trying to force your way through definitions, techniques, tricks and the like to get the result that's on the paper. But when someone hands you an equally difficult proposition and says: "prove or disprove the following," the difficulty goes up tenfold if it in fact is not specifically chosen because it's easy to see that it's provable or easily disproved by counterexample. The same exists here. And I know that being a graduate math student I know that even I, my classmates, and even professors make more subtle mistakes than accidentally adjusting data in an incorrect fashion (even if your reason for doing so is 100% valid). I can assure anyone who's uneducated in mathematics that unless they are literally a doctorate in statistics, they can make those mistakes just as easily.


    Here's my suggestion. Open the data. Don't funnel it to some government bureau or tightly controlled data collection agency, just PUBLISH IT and let everyone scoop up all the data for themselves. Then let people with math backgrounds or anyone really to sit down and mess with the data. Let everyone see it and if the entire community agrees that data from one node looks fishy or wrong, then we can discount it as a community, not as someone who believes "well damn, if just the data between dates A and B from this place would go away, the result would be clear... hmm.. well these do look off a bit.. maybe it's an outlier, i'll just delete this data here." Keep the thermometers used, keep notes about what's being done, publish that as well. If we believe there's an outlier, we should test the thermometers and if those are defunct, then we can throw out the data without bias. If a mistake like recording temperatures in kelvin is made, well we can adjust for this, but we don't need to discard it. Let's have some common sense people. It's PEER REVIEWED SCIENCE. Well, not technically. In peer reviewed science, we can do the SAME experiment over again and get the exact same result in a predictable fashion. In this, the data we get is from YOU, so of course it could be doctored to provide a guided result. It can ONLY be peer reviewed if absolutely ANYONE can take the RAW data and come to the same conclusions you did. This entire debate is just silly. I won't believe anyone is correct until this happens. How about we give transparency a try with this global warming crap for a change?
  • Re:gone (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CAIMLAS (41445) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:07AM (#30419760) Homepage

    Except, the burden of proof is not on the skeptics. It is on those who wish to prove the exception to the rule is, indeed, the rule. If you want people to believe in global warming's existence, you've got to prove it, irrefutably.

    Considering the history of climate prediction (lies, 180 degree inaccuracy, etc.), anyone trying to do that has a hard job ahead of them. We've been hearing "we're 10 years from total annihilation due to our abuse of the planet" since my parents were in grade school, and I've got kids of grade school age now, myself. Climatic temperatures were supposed to be 20 degrees hotter now than they are and agriculture will shortly become unsustainable for the population's feeding, according to what I remember being 'taught' when I was in grade school.

    That's a lot to fight against. Generations of people are tired of the propagandized rhetoric and general bullshit.

    If you want people to believe you - intelligent, discerning, capable people - the first thing you have to do is not treat them like idiots. That's something the climate change community (if there is one) needs to get right. The second thing they should concentrate on is not appealing to emotion (alarmist dramatization and unqualified exaggeration) but to intellect. (Look how far it's gotten the theory of evolution.)

    Another big issue which is getting in the way of people "believing" in climate change/global warming/global cooling/global atmospheric sequestering/whatever is that they're concerned about the political and economic implications of anything pushed down from governments, on account of the climate change fear mongering. Anyone who (here in the US) has had to deal extensively with the EPA knows what I'm talking about. The government doesn't tend to fix the problem at hand, they just make business-as-usual more expensive. Trade embargoes on Chinese tires? Great, tires just got more expensive. Tax fuel so people drive less? Great, you just made maintaining one's lifestyle more expensive. (And, in many, many cases, just ruined the livelihood of many others - never mind lifestyle.)

    What I am personally concerned about is the reactionary uh anacrophytes - people who seem terrified of old things. They're trying to push new, (scientifically) untried, short-term, ecologically destructive, and largely infeasible technologies such as ethanol, battery-powered automobiles, wind turbines, et cetera. Yes, there is value in expanding these technologies, increasing their efficiency, and so on. But these anachrophytes are vicious in their pursuits, and want regulations, new laws, and the like which will drastically and destructively change the economic landscape. These are the kinds of people who blather on about the "smog" that diesel engines put out, how they maintain our energy dependence - why they aren't a viable alternative to gas - yet they push things like lithium based batteries as "green". Which planet are they on?

    And now we've got this environmental summit which, optimistically, will push forth changes that will cut down on emissions/etc. Realistically, it will be another splint on the otherwise healthy leg of the US and Western countries, allowing for China and the rest of Greater India, and the third world to push closer to us - economically and militarily.

    In the best of times, such "optimistic" regulations are mildly disruptive and inconvenient to a society - at best. But these aren't the best of times; these are pretty tough times for everyone, globally. So even in a best-case scenario, we're looking at what might be generally termed, a bad idea. Struggling economies aren't terribly good at ecological preservation: they'll burn waste oil for heat, dump shit in streams, and so on. Damaging an economy for the pursuit of reducing CO2 output is ass-backwards if one has any perspective on how economies work.

    So yeah, prove me wrong. The ball is in your court, but you're a long way behind in the game due to decades of slacking/misbehavior.

  • by MrNaz (730548) * on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:09AM (#30419766) Homepage

    I don't think there's any danger of modern science being "reformed" the way you describe. We're in far more danger of the masses infusing science with baseless conjecture due to the overall poor level of scientific education, resulting in the tainting of our scientific institutions with populist hokus. Witness NASA having to put together a press release reassuring the public after the movie 2012.

    The idiotic "everyone's entitled to their own opinion, and nobody's opinion is inherently better" idea is resulting in homeopathy being immune from criticism because their opinions are equal to the opinions of qualified doctors. Here we have climate change skeptics, on the payroll of big oil getting the same weight as scientists with real, irrefutable data, thanks to this misguided "we are all entitled to an opinion and the right to promote it".

    This is one of the fundamental flaws in the concept of free speech for all; it does not account for relative differences in resources. One wealthy liar can out-campaign ten poor truthful scientists.

    I'm not against free speech, nor do I think censorship is the answer. I don't have a clue what the answer is, nor can I even suggest a solution.

    I only want people to recognize that "free speech" as an absolute principle, while being all nice and cuddly as a concept, has very grave problems.

  • Re:My take (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Artifakt (700173) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:09AM (#30419768)

    At this point, the East Anglia issues that have any actual evidence are twofold. Out of hundreds of thousands of e-mails, a very few seem to show signs of a couple of scientists wanting to make some data that has odd properties fit the rest of their data. The second issue is actually the bigger one - how can it be science if data is privileged and so not necessarily available to anyone else wishing to double check the original experiments. The problem of unverifiable sources is actually the bigger issue, IMHO.
            But the data problem itself is not unusual for science - people doing real science in perfectly legitimate ways sometimes have to make judgement calls about how much weight to give different data, and peer review and other methods sometimes involve meta-judgements about those.
            A legitimate example would be where there were, say, four studies that all included at least 100 cases or more in their sample size, and a fifth study that had a much smaller size, say 13 cases. There is more than one means of statistically weighting that fifth study so it can be included but not given as much significance as the others, and the question of which methods to use is not always clear. I'd argue that since the first e-mail to draw attention was about some tree ring data that gave pretty good predictions up to the early 1960's, but that didn't predict the actual observed numbers very well post 1960, and they had other tree ring data from multiple areas that kept on giving good predictions up to the latest samples (about 1999), they had a similar problem. High altitude or latitude tree samples are certainly a smaller database than those for more common regions, as well. So, the data that didn't match well with everything else and didn't predict now established observations very well either seemed to also come from a special case database in other ways.
            Yes, it shows that scientific integrity isn't always happening at every possible level. I don't think the researchers in question looked hard enough at how to treat the data fairly - they probably saw it as flawed enough that it simply couldn't be relied on, and wanted to have no part of it. Since the data had some useful predictive value for pre-1960 records, it was really more like a minority opinion than true bunkum, and the researchers should have considered what were the ethical limits of manipulating that data - but it does seem to be data where some types of manipulation (by which I mean mathematical normalisation, not a big red eraser approach) are justified.
          But I think we have always had that problem. People do get caught cooking data and publishing deliberate frauds. Anyone who follows science knows not every practitioner is infalliably honest, constantly committed to absolute integrity, or adheres to all the formal principles of science. If that's the standard for science to earn respect, there are enough doctors that don't fully follow the oath that we should have no respect what-so-ever for medicine, and I shudder to think what would be a proportionate response to politicians. Here, somebody literally stole those e-mails, and it seems safe to construe that theft as a politically motivated act. If anyone wants to argue that the theft was motivated by the noble persuit of the TRUTH, I'd listen, but right now, I don't believe it.

  • by pdabbadabba (720526) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:10AM (#30419776) Homepage

    You're right that non-PhDs can certainly do PhD-level work from time to time. But how do the rest of us know whether to trust the work without expert-level knowledge ourselves? Allowing us to know who to trust to make technical claims is part of the function of the academic degree as a social institution. Peer-review serves a similar purpose. So, yes, I think lay people generally should ignore the contributions of people without "credentials" until someone with credentials can give it their seal of approval (note that this does not mean I think that non-credentialed researchers should be ignored by the credentialed, only by laypeople), not because they are sure to be worthless, but because most of us just have no tools with which to evaluate the work other then just looking to the letters behind the author's name. Sad but true.

    So, I agree with your criticism of his implied claim that non-credentialed scientists can never contribute to advanced fields. But I think the thrust of his article (and, even, of the quote you selected) is quite correct.

  • I think the consensus is at quite different orders of magnitude. The Holocaust is a historical event that happened, and happened so recently and at such a large scale that there ample physical evidence, large numbers of photographs, and testimony from participants, and even thousands of eye witnesses still alive.

    Anthropogenic global warming is orders of magnitude trickier. In its strongest form, it's a prediction about what is likely to happen in the future, to an extremely complicated dynamical system with millions of variables. Even in the purely backwards-looking form, it's an attempt to reconstruct a temperature record from heterogenous and often problematic sources, factor out confounding factors, and attribute a portion of the observed data to human activity. It doesn't take skepticism in general to realize that no matter how well done an endeavor like that is, it can hardly hope to be as certain as the knowledge that a particular widely observed and well-documented historical event happened 55 years ago.

  • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:16AM (#30419814) Homepage

    Because it's a waste of time, that's why. Offering evidence to a denialist ostrich

    Not every climate skeptic is a denialist ostrich. Many of us can be converted with patience, lucidity and openness.

    Frankly, not that I've noticed.

    Here's a question: have you actually ever read the IPCC report on the physical basis for climate change? I don't mean, have you read the critiques of it written by other people who are telling you not to bother reading it. I don't even mean, have you read the summary for policy makers. I mean, have you actually read the report?

    Assessment report: The physical science basis [www.ipcc.ch], for what it's worth.

  • by TapeCutter (624760) * on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:17AM (#30419820) Journal
    Ah yes, it doesn't take long for someone to post a link to the fully qualified blogger Anthony Watts whenever the word skeptic appers in conjunction with climate, but if you call yourself a skeptic then consider the following...

    Well before Watt's stared his website scientists had already explained how adjustments are made to compensate for the urban heat island effect [noaa.gov] but that didn't stop our pluckly little weatherman from building a website to show those ivory tower dwellers where they were sorely mistaken. As Watts fame (and income) grew, NOAA thought it might be a good idea to try and add some clarity so they took 70 weather stations that Watt's himself had rated as the best. They re-ran their analysis with just those stations and compared the result to the original analyisis using all 1200+ stations. Lo and behold the two curves were virtually identical as can be seen on the first graph in NOAA's response to Watts [noaa.gov]. Why? - Because the trend does not rely on the abolute temprature, it relies on the changes in temprature. Such systematic errors in measurement have long been known and handled by mathematicians and scientists alike.

    Observant readers may note that a fully qualified political scientist by the name of McIntyre did manage to get a paper on the subject published in an obscure journal which was subsequently hyped so much that the US senate held an inqusition (err, inquiry) into Mann's 1997 hockey stick paper.

    The inquisition called on the US National Acedemies of Science to proffer an opinion on McIntyre's claims. Their testimony [nationalacademies.org] came down heavily in favour of Mann's conclusions but also made some minor crticisims of his confidence levels. Mann being the leading scientists he is took those critcisims seriously and subsequently published an extended study in the journal Science, yes that's right, the world renowned journal published by the very same organisation who critcised his confidence levels.

    McIntyre's paper failed to stand the test of time but rather than having another crack at science he went off to become yet another fully qualified blogger and created the popular front site "climate Audit", I say front site because both Watt's are McIntyre are stongly associated with the anti-science lobbyists at the CEI and the Heartland Institute (now there's a couple of targets for an email hack if I ever saw one).

    McIntyre used his site to continue pushing the claim that Mann had hidden his data (where have we heard that before?). To put it politely, I am highly skeptical of that claim. If it was true then how did NAS come to it's conclusions in their testimony, and how is it that many others have also replicated Mann's work? Why is it that both Watts and McIntrye take selective quotes from the testimony to loudly declare that they "discredited Mann's hockey stick"? - You would think that if the testimony actually came to that conclusion then they would want you to read it. Yet nowhere on either site will you find an link to the testimony because...well...skeptical people might actually go and read it.

    Considering the above farcical chain of events I don't blame Mann for expressing his desire to keep McIntyre's discredited paper out of the IPCC reports, I would have said the same thing. However this does not change the fact that the paper was subsequently included and discussed.

    For those who don't like to read scientific papers and abhore pdf's there is an excellent summary on the youtube channel Climate crock of the week [youtube.com], unsurprisingly Watt's abused the DCMA in an attempt to have the video removed.

    The skill of genuine skepticisim starts by learning to be skeptical of ones own ideas and beliefs. It's siad that a great scientist starts every day by
  • by DiamondGeezer (872237) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:18AM (#30419826) Homepage
    This happened three years ago when anyone attacked Wikipedia. Now everyone knows that Wikipedia is chock full of crap and is getting worse.
  • Re:Science (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:18AM (#30419828)

    I am instantly skeptical of any scientist that makes statements such as "this can only be understood by someone with a PhD in a related field"

    Many nuances are involved in many fields that may not be immediately obvious.

    And your point is certainly wrong when taken to the extreme, such as theoretical particle physics or the like.

  • Re:gone (Score:3, Insightful)

    by c6gunner (950153) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:18AM (#30419832)

    I am thoroughly convinced that no amount of evidence at this point can convince the skeptics.

    Calling them skeptics is a bastardization of what skepticism is actually about. It's like calling holocaust deniers "holocaust skeptics". It's correct in a purely technical sense, but it's a slap in the face to Skeptical organizations around the world. True skepticism is supposed to be grounded in science and reason, not personal bias and misinformation.

  • Re:gone (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:24AM (#30419874)

    Hmmmm.

    1. There have been a couple FOIA actions that still, after 2+ years, have not been filled by the NOAA/GISS.

    That doesn't help convince me of AGW.

    2. It's pretty damn freezing. Tell me when I can wear shorts and a muscle T in December and I'll believe in AGW.

    3. Why does the tree-ring data end specifically in 1960 when the plotted temps dive downward?

    4. Why are only some of the trees in Yamal selected rather than all of the trees?

    5. Why, at the end of the tree ring series, are there only a few trees selected at all rather than the entire set?

    6. Why universally the raw data adjusted in precisely the same way. Earlier temperatures are adjusted downward, later temperatures are adjusted upwards.

    7. Why is the Medieval Warming Period completely eliminated by AGW "proofs"? Are you suggesting that documented colonization of Greenland by the vikings during the MWP followed by the gradual destruction of the colony during the Little Ice Age ... didn't happen?

    8. Curiously in most areas of science it is the proponents of a theory that are responsible for proving it. Only in AGW is the onus on the detractors.

    Not impressive by any standard.

    9. I'm freezing my ass off and could do with some global bloody warming right now. So where the hell is it?

  • by timmarhy (659436) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:24AM (#30419878)
    hah i love the peer reviewed journal response. it's a perfect closed loop, you can make the challenge because you know no scientific journal is going to publish an anti AGW paper, and it lets you avoid answering any questions.

    ask yourself what's so threatening about someone like me asking why CO2 lags temperature gain? after all i'm just an armchair scientist, your mighty peer reviewing brain should be able to crush my arguements with ease, right?

  • by ArcherB (796902) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:24AM (#30419882) Journal

    Here we have climate change skeptics, on the payroll of big oil getting the same weight as scientists with real, irrefutable data, thanks to this misguided "we are all entitled to an opinion and the right to promote it".

    Of course, you should also point out that scientists at universities are funded by government grants. It's hard to get those grants if you say something that the politicians don't want you to say. While your position assumes that companies only have their own interests at heart, I contend that politicians are corrupt and wish to gain power. Global warming legislation aims to be the largest power grab since the civil war.

  • Wrong conclusion (Score:3, Insightful)

    by meburke (736645) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:25AM (#30419894)

    After wading through the article, I'm skeptical about the conclusion: There is no evidence that "peer review" significantly increases the validity of a scientist's conclusion; only that it will test the methods that led to that conclusion.

    There are many historical instances of "peer review" either bolstering false conclusions because the reviewers were inclined in the same direction, or denying the conclusion because it didn't fit in with the orthodox view.

  • Re:gone (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:27AM (#30419902) Journal

    With that mindset even proven false or corrupt datasets would have to be accepted

    One bad dataset does not invalidate all other datasets.

  • Re:gone (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ArcherB (796902) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:28AM (#30419908) Journal

    Oh, and by the way: October was the hottest month on record in Darwin, Australia.

    I am thoroughly convinced that no amount of evidence at this point can convince the skeptics. They are traveling on faith. This is why they are ridiculed. They don't like it, but hey, neither do people who believe that they've been abducted by UFOs.

    I see your Darwin and raise you one Houston. Houston Texas had the earliest snow this year in recorded history. You would think that someone with a PHD, claiming to be qualified to write articles on climate change would know the difference between climate and weather.

  • by c6gunner (950153) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:31AM (#30419944)

    Not every climate skeptic is a denialist ostrich. Many of us can be converted with patience, lucidity and openness.

    That's a fair enough argument. The question then becomes, what's the cost/benefit trade-off?

    Take another example - 9/11 conspiracy theorists. Yes, some of them can be deprogrammed and brought back into mainstream society. I've done it a few times myself. But how much time and effort should we really be putting into this? Do we REALLY need multi-million-dollar studies which 90% of them will ignore anyway? How do we approach the problem? Even if we put all our time and energy into it, how do we know when we've reduced the movement down to just those who are unable to listen to reason? Do we continue the effort for the next thousand years, or is there a point at which we can say "enough is enough"?

    Honestly, I was never 100% convinced that AGW is a problem that we should to be worrying about right now. Probably not even 80% convinced. What I do know that this "climategate" manufactroversy is complete fucking nonsense. If anything, it's put me further into the mainstream camp simply because it's exposed the sheer lunacy and ignorance of the other side. If you're at all swayed by the release of the CRU e-mails, you seriously need to re-examine how you discriminate between good and bad data.

  • by anonicon (215837) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:31AM (#30419948)

    Here's an idea: if you believe the GP and the majority of people who believe as he does are irrational, haul out your global climate data sets and indicate why they're irrational. It couldn't be worse and would probably be a lot better than the wretchedly stupid argument you just "formulated."

  • by Nazlfrag (1035012) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:32AM (#30419950) Journal

    Yet you have fallen prey to the same black and white thinking the GP was criticizing. Assuming all climate change skeptics are on the payroll of big oil is ludicrous, as is your suggestion that all scientists who are not skeptical have irrefutable data even when they refuse to disclose that data.

    Having a PhD does qualify you to hold an opinion, but it doesn't magically make that opinion valid, just as not having a PhD does not disqualify you from having a valid opinion. The problems you see in free speech pale in comparison to the problems with censorship.

    The answer is to engage in critical thinking no matter the source, and not to give too much weight to any authority or lack thereof.

  • To quote Fark (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:47AM (#30420058)

    THIS.

    Having something published in a journal is not the be-all, end-all, it does not mean that a theory is now correct one and for all time. It means it is time to start wider discussion and testing. The way science works is by trying to prove things wrong. You see phenomena in nature, and you come up with what you think is an explanation for them. You refine said explanation to the point that it makes testable predictions, the sort of thing like "If X occurs, Y will also occur," or whatever. You then set out to try and prove your theory wrong. You test those predictions. You say "Ok, well then let's try making X and see what happens, if we don't get Y, we know that we are wrong." Each time you fail to falsify your theory, you are more sure it is true.

    Others join in, they re-try your experiments, make sure you didn't fuck up. They find alternate explanations and test those (well maybe Z could also cause Y, not just X). The more times that everyone tries and fails to falsify your theory, the more sure you are it is the right one. Only by repeated testing by yourself and others, only by actively trying to figure out what is wrong with your theory can you reach one that you are certain (or at least as certain as we can be) is right.

    So publishing an article is NOT the last step in that, it is the first. You do some work, your write it up, you publish it. Some reviewers look at it to make sure there is nothing obviously wrong, and it then goes out to the larger community. That's when things start.

  • by Draek (916851) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:47AM (#30420060)

    Wrong. Occam's Razor says that, faced with alternate theories both explaining satisfactorily the same phenomena, you must assume as correct that which requires the least assumptions.

    Here it's between "people who have studied for many years the field have determined such, and have decided not to answer critiques from anybody who can't demonstrate having studied the field similarly" and "people who have studied the field for many years have conspired to create a false impression upon everybody else, and silence any critic who dares break the illusion". The one that requires the least assumptions is, obviously, the former instead of the latter, therefore that's what you must assume as true until proven otherwise.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:48AM (#30420064) Journal
    My problem isn't so much what's in the peer reviewed journals (maybe there are problems with the data, if so I assume we will eventually see that), most of the stuff I've seen in peer reviewed journals seems ok.

    It's the dramatic hysteria and propaganda that you hear outside of the peer reviewed journals that really gets to me. The idea that if we don't stop emitting CO2 the oceans will rise, flooding out ocean front cities. There is no peer reviewed article proving that, quite the opposite, actually.

    When you read peer reviewed articles, scientists are careful to put in qualifications and caveats, as they should. What I object to is the propaganda that comes after that fact, ie: "CO2 is a positive radiative forcing component (verified fact)..........therefore if we keep adding CO2 to the atmosphere the results will be disastrous (wild conjecture)." Carefully watch what politicians say when they start talking. Very often they will start with something that is verified in a scientific way, then extrapolate in ways that no good scientist would dare to do. The fact is, global warming as presented in scientific journals is not nearly as disastrous as the event presented in the news.

    In a way it reminds me of Y2K. At the time I would read articles in journals like Communications of the ACM, studying how much it would cost to fix various things, and estimating the number of computers that might have issues. Then I would look at the news and hear predictions of power plants exploding and airplanes crashing and wild unrest. At some point there was a disconnect between the science and the propaganda.

    I object to the propaganda.
  • Well, this article would have a lot more credibility, if the "Climate Gate" issue had not just hit the press. If you didn't read them, their were these emails promising to block any skeptical papers from appearing and to not cite papers in journals that accepted skeptical papers.

    Unfortunately, no matter how you feel about Global Warming, the folks in "Climate Gate" have stuck a grievous blow to the credibility of the scientific method, the peer review process, and positions like this.

    That said, if peer review was truly working in the field of Global Warming and skeptical papers which were backed up with legitimate data and arguments were able to get into peer reviewed journals, then this article would have a lot more weight and creditability.

  • by mellon (7048) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:52AM (#30420104) Homepage

    This is the situation we are in: we may or may not have a very serious problem. Most of the people who would have to do the work, and pay the price, of solving the problem do not have the time or the interest to study the matter deeply enough to know whether the situation is bad. So we have to choose who to trust. Do we trust the person who is telling us what we want to hear, or do we trust the peer-reviewed science?

    We don't have the third choice that you propose, where we figure out whether the guy who wasn't peer-reviewed is telling us something we need to know, because we don't have the time or the interest to check his or her work. We can *hope* that if what he is saying is valid, and can be verified, that it will make it through the gauntlet of scientific skepticism. But until it does, we simply don't know whether or not to listen to it.

    If we listen to everything that might be true, before it passes through this filter, then we *inevitably* are going to be guided by our own prejudices, because we simply have no other way to decide who to listen to.

    So yeah, I'm very sympathetic to what you're saying here. I'm in the same boat you are. But I just can't buy your argument, because it leads nowhere. And if enough people buy your argument, and refuse to use the tools that they actually have to separate the wheat from the chaff, and if this really is the serious situation that we are being told it is, then we are going to be begging our children for forgiveness, because it is they, and not we, who will pay the price for our choice.

  • by dmuir (964412) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:53AM (#30420112)
    Totally agree. I like how they've started calling people who don't believe in AGW "deniers" now instead of "sceptics". Is their "science" so flaky that they have to resort to character assassination? And BTW, it's called Climate Change now. Kind of hard to call it Global Warming when past decade has seen a downward trend. Luckily they chose a term that is sufficiently vague that any variation in weather would classify as proof of Climate Change.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:57AM (#30420132)

    You can't? pity, but chances are then you're no different from the thousands of other "armchair scientists" making outrageous claims with no actual backing, as the guy analyzed in TFA.

    Not quite... [wattsupwiththat.com]

    I’m a former television meteorologist who spent 25 years on the air and who also operates a weather technology and content business, as well as continues daily forecasting on radio, just for fun.

    Weather measurement and weather presentation technology is my specialty. I also provide weather stations and custom weather monitoring solutions via www.weathershop.com (if you like my work, please consider buying a weather gadget there, StormPredator for example) and www.tempelert.com, and turn key weather channels with advertising at www.viziframe.com

    The weather graphics you see in the lower right corner of the blog are produced by my company, IntelliWeather. As you can see most of my work is in weather technology such as weather stations, weather data processing systems, and weather graphics creation and display. While I’m not a degreed climate scientist, I’ll point out that neither is Al Gore, and his specialty is presentation also. And that’s part of what this blog is about: presentation of weather and climate data in a form the public can understand and discuss. .....
    . ..... While I have a skeptical view of certain climate issues, I consider myself “green” in many ways, and I promote the idea of energy savings and alternate energy generation. Unlike many who just talk about it, I’ve put a 10KW solar array on my home, plus a 125 KW solar array on one of our local schools when I was a school trustee. I’ve retrofitted my home with CFL’s and better insulation, as well as installed timer switches on many of our most commonly used lights.

    I also drive an electric car for my daily around town routine.

    I encourage others to do the same when it comes to efficient use of energy and energy conservation.

  • by WrongMonkey (1027334) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:58AM (#30420142)
    While I agree with you're basic premise of opening up the data, I think your view of the statistics is a bit limited. Anyone can draw a trend line and calculate error bars, but when multiple data sets have conflicting data, it requires to a great deal of understanding of experimental methods, theoretical models, etc. to determine which datasets are most relevant to make what kind of conclusions. The "tricks" come from matching up tree ring data, ice core data, satellite data, direct measurements and many others. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses these methods is where an expert is needed and why your undergraduate math major is less than useful.
  • Re:Science (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CAIMLAS (41445) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @01:08AM (#30420190) Homepage

    I'm one of those done armchair, a-priori reasoning on global warming. Here are my reasons for believing it's "not true":

    * Those behind the "global warming scare" (Gore and the others at the political forefront) are making money hand over fist for their efforts through things like carbon credits. That sounds like a profit scam moreso than someone(s) genuinely concerned.
    * The "man-caused climate change" argument has been made since my parents were in grade school, and now I've got kids that age. Yet, the arguments have been not only significantly, but drastically different. They are also emotional and alarmist arguments - what we typically call "propaganda" - not providing any actual facts or explanation with the presentation.
    * It is not because AWG "may come into conflict with one's own dogma, and thus psychologically one may be predisposed to oppose GW on that basis." It's because it will impact me, at my wallet, negatively. It will hurt everyone who falls under whatever "climate saving" tax that comes out of this, while helping (through our pain) countries like China (which have/enforce no such regulations).
    * There is enough of the data supporting "global warming" being found fraudulent, inaccurate, or intentionally misleading (with fairly regular basis, it seems) to call suspect to the rest of it.
    * If there is a dissenting voice supported by evidence of any type, they are usually ridiculed by the AGW establishment (publicly, on the news and what not) once or twice, and then promptly ignored.
    * Politicians have decided to politicize global warming by pushing a solution before we are certain - dead certain - that a) we are, indeed, responsible for the 'warming' and b) there is anything we can do about it, and c) what the actual causes are, and d) that anything we might do about it would actually be productive - ie, not result in more harm than good.
    * By that last point, I mean: don't destroy the economy outright, or make it less productive. Why? Because poor economies, and poor peoples, tend to not be environmentally conscientious. It won't do a hell of a lot of good if we're all driving EVs in 10 years if everyone is dumping or burning their motor oil to save money, or discarding their spent battery cores in the dump.

    Basically, I'm repulsed by the reactionary, emotional, and illogical approach the AGW supporters take, and the deceptive, immoral political means they will go to reach their ends. It's disgusting and not befitting of an intellectual mind. Furthermore, they're pushing for things which I know (as someone who has read at least a little about history) are ultimately more destructive than instructive.

  • by mellon (7048) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @01:11AM (#30420214) Homepage

    Right now a lot of the reason that we are so energy-inefficient is not because we aren't being taxed enough, but because things like building codes are heavily biased against energy efficient homebuilding. So most of the homes that are build are insanely inefficient. Office buildings tend to be more efficient, but still not at the level of efficiency that would be possible if the codes were biased in favor of efficiency, rather than against it. E.g., I'm building a house in Vermont. The guy at the local lumber company was *aghast* when I told him I wanted 14" thick walls and R40 insulation. Nobody does that! In *Vermont*! That's just lame - there's no excuse for building an energy-inefficient house. They're more comfortable, hugely cheaper to heat and cool, and don't cost much extra to build--yes, you spend more on insulation, but you can buy a cheaper heater or chiller.

    Another problem is the tragedy of the commons: nobody's willing to conserve first. So everybody buys an SUV, because everybody else is buying an SUV, and so we all need SUVs to avoid being crushed by other SUVs, or whatever. To solve this sort of mexican standoff, government regulation is actually a really effective solution. CAFE standards work. Unfortunately the anti-regulation climate of the past 30 years has prevented them from doing much good as technology has advanced--ironically, CAFE standards could have prevented the extraordinarily painful market correction that came to a head in 2008 in the auto industry, but since the auto industry lobbied so hard against it for so long, they had to be bailed out.

    So sure, maybe carbon taxes aren't the right idea. Maybe there are other things we should do first. But for some reason nobody seems to be doing them.

    The theory with carbon taxes is to offset them against other taxes, so that they are revenue-neutral for people who are being reasonably conservative, revenue-positive for people who are being very conservative, and revenue-negative for people who are being outright wasteful. So if you modify your behavior, carbon taxes *should* save you money. But sure, for people who aren't willing to do that, they'll suck. And consequently, they'll probably never be enacted, because nobody likes to tighten their belts. And so later on we'll all get to tighten our belts a lot, suddenly, instead of a little, steadily.

  • by ArcherB (796902) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @01:15AM (#30420240) Journal

    Actually, I have taken part in the government grant process. However, I am in one country. Are you sure that the process you describe is universal? Who are these scientists that review and approve grant money? How did they get that job? Can any scientist do it? Can I can go to my wife, (who has a science degree) and have her approve me some government money? Is it really that easy?

    Seriously. The Constitution spells out that Congress controls the purse strings. They allocate the money. If it requires the approval of other scientists, then congress chooses those scientists. It starts and ends with congress. And last time I checked, congress is a nothing more than a bunch of politicians who were able to make enough promises to get elected and will tell whatever it takes to gain more power and get reelected. Nowhere in the Constitution does it give the power to scientists to tax citizens and spend the money on their behalf.

  • by Kohath (38547) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @01:20AM (#30420282)

    You've made some good points and one bad one. Note how correcting you on the bad one (Greenland) seems to be a substitute for a genuine rebuttal.

  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @01:25AM (#30420306)

    The author raises good points about the dangers of over-reliance on the peer review system. It's a good system but it is not doesn't always work - crap gets through and good articles aren't published.

    And neither of you understand the peer review system. It's actually a very complex system, and one full of competition on many levels.

    First, there are many scientists trying to get their work published. Second, there are many journals. Third, each journal has a journal impact factor. Fourth, papers mention other papers. Fifth, journals and papers are not the only means for how scientists communicate their work or collaborate. There are conferences, groups invite speakers, etc.

    A journal impact factor is a simple calculation. On average, a paper published in Nature gets X number of mentions in other journal's papers. A paper published just about anywhere else gets much less. So people want to get published in Nature, obviously. But people are also realistic, and their PIs help them with finding the right places to get published. And if you don't, you can try again. Sound research is likely to be resubmitted, often times elsewhere.

    When a paper is submitted, you don't just get a "we're publishing it!" or a "DENIED!". You get questions from the reviewers, sometimes requests for more data. If it's rejected, often times it's rejected with some helpful, useful suggestions on how the reviewers feel the paper could be improved, and sometimes it's said between the lines that if you resubmit after taking some of those suggestions, you'll get the thumbs up from that reviewer.

    Yes, Nature and the like are the holy grail. But many, many people don't look only in Nature. They read the journals dedicated to their little niche, because they know that sometimes good, fresh thinking doesn't make it into Nature just because so many people submit. And guess what? So are all their true colleagues. So while you don't get your name in the newspaper or a mention on the nightly news, your research still sees the light of day, and often times, with more 'useful' eyeballs. And if it's good, you impress people, they collaborate with you, present your paper at their group's internal meetings, or hell, just toss the paper across the lunchtable and say to their colleages, "you should give this a glance." It's extremely common for labs/groups to have two weekly presentations- one presentation is the work of someone inside the group, and often someone in the same group presents research OUTSIDE the group. And often, it's presented regardless of how sound it is; it's meaningful to say "here is what so-and-so found" and then show why they were wrong, or what they did badly.

    Now, I'm on the outside of all of this as an IT person, but I've made many scientist-friends and their lives revolve around this stuff. "Willis" clearly doesn't understand it. The peer-reviewed journal system is complex, but also remarkably free of collusion. After all, if someone presents solid research that something widely believed to be true is not, it helps the journal because controversy sells copies, generates debate and discussion, generates mentions in other papers in other journals (hellooooo impact factor!), etc. The primary concern of a journal is not looking stupid by publishing something that isn't sound and well supported, not suppressing controversial research.

    Show me a scientist who bitches and moans publicly about his anti-global-warming research not being published, and I'll show you someone whose science wasn't sound enough to cut the mustard. Every day thousands of papers are submitted to journals and rejected partially or fully, and it's not a conspiracy. It's people doing research that isn't supported enough. There is certainly a dark side, namely, reviewers who don't recuse themselves or aren't qualified to evaluate a particular paper, but that's one reason multiple reviewers are involved, and you can always submit your work to another journal.

  • Re:gone (Score:3, Insightful)

    by c6gunner (950153) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @01:27AM (#30420316)

    There, FTFY in light of the CRU emails, their stacking of the deck for editorial bias in what is allowed to be published in journals, their refusal to produce the data and algorithms and share them with critics in their field as well as those outside the field and their politicization of what is obviously a very important issue into a vehicle for massive forced political collectivism the likes of which the world hasn't seen since Mao.

    Nice blurb, but completely unsupported by evidence.

    There is plenty of room to disagree that any significant climate change is caused by humans, or can be remedied by humans.

    Sure. So what? That doesn't excuse the idiotic behavior of the denialiasts. If you're going to object, do so in a rational manner, otherwise I'll have even less respect for you than for those with whom I disagree.

    the Human-caused GW side is making extraordinary claims...

    What's extraordinary about the claim that increased greenhouse gases cause an increase in temperature?

    and demanding extraordinary actions that threaten individual liberty, social justice and the quality of life on a global scale

    That's pure hyperbole. Even if your prior point were valid (which it's not) this follow-up "point" would have completely discredited your argument. Try to stick to the facts, and we can have a discussion. Produce FUD and I'll just ignore you. Your call.

  • by ignavus (213578) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @01:29AM (#30420326)

    All people are equal.

    All opinions are not equal.

    Sometimes we are not entitled to an opinion - to be taken seriously. If I walked into a heart surgery theatre (suitably sterile) and gave my opinion about the appropriate treatment, the surgeons there would be entitled to say "Throw the idiot out".

    The problem is, most of us humans know we don't understand heart surgery. Many of us humans don't realise how ignorant we are about other subjects too.

  • by Kohath (38547) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @01:30AM (#30420340)

    Sometimes you just have to accept that the other person just might know more about a topic than you.

    Other times, you don't.

    Peer review is essential. When the science is being used as an excuse to control everyone's life, then everyone is a peer, and we are all entitled to review the findings.

  • a common myth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuperBanana (662181) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @01:38AM (#30420380)

    Isn't this precisely the risk of overreliance on the peer review system? Unpopular opinions get silenced.

    That's a common myth. You see, there are many journals. All want to grow their subscribership, increase their impact factor (the scientific journal measurement of notoriety.) They do that by publishing the most interesting research they can.

    Doing research that mirrors what's already been done isn't very popular; grad students and postdocs, for example, have to clear what they're doing with their PIs. That's not likely to happen unless they've got some angle. This isn't apparent to the layman- or even someone who has "PhD" in their title, but even a minor difference in premise can be a big deal.

    Identical research also doesn't get published. New, fresh, interesting research is what journals want. So while Willis thinks there's a massive groupthink, there's actually little of the kind. It may LOOK like groupthink, because on the surface, yes, there's the gross layer of widely-accepted-fact. The devil is in the details, and that's where research is taking place.

    It's a special kind of arrogance to think that you can just stroll in and understand, much less analyze, a field where people dedicate years, if not decades, to their research.

  • by DoktorFaust (564453) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @01:40AM (#30420390) Homepage

    They see, somebody laying out refuting the points of the AGW crowd, which then responds with basically "U STUPID", that isn't going to gain any more fans.

    Here's the problem: the Economist article [economist.com] actually responded to the various claims by checking out sources, while Mr Eschenbach's reply [wattsupwiththat.com] ignores the informative responses to his questions from scientists and he doesn't actually show the statistics were bad (he just claims it's obvious they must be). YET, Mr Eschenbach continue to spout out his claims.

    So what now? Should the scientists continue to repeat the same thing over and over again back to Mr Eschenbach until he finally decides to spend a few weeks/months/years of his time actually trying to understand the issue? If they do keep responding, then it suggests there's real debate going on here. There isn't. The debate ended when Mr Eschenbach couldn't respond with actual science.

  • Re:PhD required? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @01:41AM (#30420402)

    I also find this canonization of PhDs very dangerous. For one, it is something of a religious thing (which is why I chose the term). "This person has a PhD and thus must be an authority on the subject, you have to list to what he says because you can't possibly understand what's behind it." Well to me that kind of things sounds a lot like "This person is a priest and thus must be an authority on the subject." You are being told "You can't understand, so just believe the authority." That is problematic, and is completely contrary to the scientific method. As such it can lead to bad science.

    For an interesting example, google around for James Randi's dealings with Homeopathy. You have to remember that this wasn't something that came out of nowhere, there was actually a respected lab in France getting results. Randi (along with others) came in to test it and in the end found it was bullshit. However a large part of the reason that this was going on was because a PhD was at the head of it, and there was a canonization going on. "Oh he's a distinguished professor so he MUST know what he's talking about! You can't question him, you aren't on the same level!" Good science was being left at the door because a PhD said it must be the truth.

    Then there is, of course, as you've mentioned that plenty of people have good understandings of obscure topics, despite no degrees. A degree means you trained in a formal academic setting and did what they required to get it. That's all. A great example of people who are experts without degrees would in the the programming world. People like Michael Abrash or John Carmack who don't have advanced degrees (or sometimes even undergraduate degrees) yet are experts in their field. They have an understanding in excess of almost anyone else, have done original research and so on. That they can't prepend "Dr." to their name isn't relevant.

    Finally, as you also noted, some things aren't even all that complex. Perhaps a journalist finds inferential statistics hopelessly complex, however not everyone does. You don't need a PhD to deal with that and indeed if you did we'd find it in far less use since there are few people with Math PhDs, fewer still with a specialization in statistics. Rather it is something that PhDs (and grad students and even undergrads) make use of in their work. A not especially complex tool in a large box of tools they use to do their research.

    To me, it just reeks of canonization, of the "academic priesthood" idea. There is no way the normal man could POSSIBLY understand this, thus we all have to accept it as holy writ. No, sorry, I don't like religion for that kind of thinking and I REALLY don't like it in my science. We need zombie Feynman to come back and slap some sense in to people with statements like this.

  • by joocemann (1273720) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @01:53AM (#30420488)

    Relevance

    Implications

    Weight

    Related-Information

    Significance

    It's not all numbers

  • by timmarhy (659436) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @01:54AM (#30420494)
    The whole thing is a giant strawman to begin with. they don't want limits on skeptics - if i piped up told them i believed in big foot they would be plenty skeptical. what they really want is AGW to be a protected subject, with no one allowed to rock the boat. it's completely stupid and typical of AGW fanatics, but it has one saving grace, the more of this bullshit they pull the more skeptics they will create. it has a streisand like effect when you demand no one challenges your authority.
  • Re:gone (Score:4, Insightful)

    by joocemann (1273720) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @02:02AM (#30420544)

    If you were a scientist with a relevant education in the field, you could answer all of those questions.

    Why did the dentist use a UV light on your teeth? Why did the doctor's hammer have a rubber coating on it when he hit your knee? What are your brake pads made out of? Why?

    There are lots of questions. But if you're not going to try to answer them the right way, by finding out on your own, you're just another Troll (aka Glenn Beck).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 13, 2009 @02:14AM (#30420610)

    Don't put words into parent's mouth, he's just saying that there is substantial domain specific knowledge required to make sense of the climate data.

  • by cetialphav (246516) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @02:18AM (#30420634)

    The way it works (in the US) is that Congress allocates funds for research in general. Agencies like the NSF (National Science Foundation), DARPA, etc actually administer the grants. They take applications and decide which are the best ideas that should be funded. The people running these agencies are academics, not politicos. For example, the National Science Board, which oversees the NSF, is listed here [nsf.gov]. While these groups control which projects get funded, they do not control the results of the research. If a funded project disproved existing theory, it is up to peer reviewed journals to publish or not.

    A common criticism of the system is that it encourages a sort of orthodoxy in research. So if the NSF things "dark matter" is a great explanation, then projects which try to find alternative explanations may receive less funding because it is viewed as a waste. This is unfortunate, but there is not enough money to fund all the possible projects so some sort of prioritization must be made. It is much better to have experts do this, even though they have biases.

    If the political parties really had that much control of research funding and the results of that research, you would expect that over the last several years you would see lots of peer reviewed research disproving human caused climate change. After all, Republicans were running congress and the White House for a long time.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 13, 2009 @02:27AM (#30420692)

    Yes... but the larger point is that IF 2 BILLION more people start demanding oil at the rate the U.S. does (or whatever country of choice that currently consumes a lot), the economic changes and market warping that will occur will cause some major issues around the world. Prices will skyrocket, entire industry segments will face shortages, etc.

    Shortages leading to higher prices is what will provide the capital to develop alternative sources. It makes existing alternatives more competitive now. It doesn't matter if you more slowly consume an non-renewable resource, it runs out if you use it. That means both we will transition to other energy sources and we will stop putting CO2 from non-renewable resources into the air at a certain level determined by physical reality rather than politics.

  • Oligopolies (Score:3, Insightful)

    by copponex (13876) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @02:28AM (#30420696) Homepage

    The issue you run into is that there is little incentive for the highly centralized players in fossil fuels to change their ways. It's an oligopoly and they all play by the same rules to ensure they are properly compensated for their massive capital investments. Shell and Exxon would ride our economy to the brink of failure in order to extract more profit. Good for them, not so good for us.

    Of course, the government can't just sit on the taxes. They have to use those taxes to invest in new technology to compensate for the damage to the economy for overtaxing the old technology. There's no use risking the entire future of our economy by being afraid of being "too early" to come up with alternatives for something as vital as energy production.

  • by aevans (933829) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @02:37AM (#30420754) Homepage
    Is it wrong to yell FRAUD to a HOAX? Or is that too close you an ABSOLUTE PRINCIPLE for you?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 13, 2009 @02:37AM (#30420758)

    Next thing you'll be saying is that everyone isn't allowed an equal vote....

    No, but I *will* tell you that taking a vote on a factual matter, such as "Does pumping raw sewage into a river pose a health risk?" should not be done.

    The purpose of voting is to determine how many people have an interest in a particular course of action, not whether or not something is true.

  • by cetialphav (246516) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @02:43AM (#30420792)

    That is very well said. The bottom line is that if I became King of the World and had to make decisions affecting the environment, I really only have three choices:

    1. Become an expert myself. This is totally impractical because it takes too long and I have a huge range of other responsibilities.

    2. Listen to lots of random people and make decisions based on which things I hear sound right. The upside is that I will hear an extremely diverse set of opinions and that the best option will likely be submitted to me. The downside is that many of the opinions are baseless claims by crackpots or people with selfish interests.

    3. Listen to the opinions of experts whose sole job is to study and test these issues. Baseless ideas will not pass this filter and so I will be presented with a narrower range of views, but the best options should still be present. The major issue here is making sure the experts are really experts and that they have no other axe to grind.

    Of these options, it seems like 3 is the most reasonable option and that is what our current peer review process is. It is always reasonable to question the expertise of the experts, but that same questioning should be targetted at random bloggers, too.

  • Re:gone (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 13, 2009 @03:33AM (#30420984)

    NONE of the data has been erased.

    Correction, about 5% of the data has been erased.

  • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @03:34AM (#30420996) Homepage

    This planet, and the life upon it, survived it before... it will do so again... even if we somehow actually were the cause of it (which as I said, I doubt).

    Umm, no one is arguing that. There is not one single AGW proponent out there that would claim that global warming is going to destroy all live as we know it.

    What it *will* do is alter the earth's climate such that it deviates from that which humanity is adapted to. Rising ocean levels due to polar melting and simple heat expansion of ocean water will result in coastline destruction, displacing millions, if not billions, of people. Meanwhile, changing weather will mean movements in fertile regions, destroying valuable cropland. I could go on, but I'm hoping you're starting to see the point.

    And if not, let me spell it out for you: Humanity is adapted to the climate as it exists today. Change that climate and, regardless of the nature of that change, the result will almost certainly be negative. So, will AGW destroy all life on the planet? No, of course not. That's absurd. But it could seriously fuck us up.

  • by Gadget_Guy (627405) * on Sunday December 13, 2009 @03:53AM (#30421060)

    When the science is being used as an excuse to control everyone's life, then everyone is a peer

    That is not the definition of a peer. A peer is someone who is knowledgable enough about the subject matter to be able to judge it intelligently.

    However, if you want to give it a try, read some papers about the climate published in scientific journals. That way you are not filtering the message through an blogger with an axe to grind (from both sides of the debate). You will then not find anyone who says that you should believe in climate change "just because" (as the grandparent put it), because in a published paper they have to show their working.

  • Re:gone (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 13, 2009 @03:58AM (#30421084)

    NONE of the data has been erased. Here's a quote: The research unit has deleted less than 5 percent of its original station data

    I hate to be a sourpuss, but it looks pretty bad when you begin your refutation of data manipulation by saying "less than 5 percent" is "NONE".

  • Re:gone (Score:4, Insightful)

    by c6gunner (950153) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @04:05AM (#30421114)

    I hate to be a sourpuss, but it looks pretty bad when you begin your refutation of data manipulation by saying "less than 5 percent" is "NONE".

    What I did by quoting that first bit is called "honesty". It's usually done by people who actually care about things like "honour", "truth", and "morality". Of course, the downside is that idiots who only care about sound-bites will focus exclusively on that single phrase, while ignoring the rest of the statement. That's the price we pay for maintaining our integrity.

  • by emmenjay (717797) <emmenjay@zip.com.HORSEau minus herbivore> on Sunday December 13, 2009 @04:24AM (#30421192)

    Whether you agree or disagree with AGW, there seems to be little debate, just name-calling. From my own (probably biased) view, I'd say the pro-AGW crowd have done a rotten job at explaining their side of the argument. At least the anti-AGW crowd seem to be prepared for a bit of transparency. The pro-AGW might well turn out to be right, but when issues are raised they tend to take offence rather than defending their position.

    Problem one is that we are talking about data gathered in various ways from various sources. There must, of course, be some numerical filtering to try to compare data from different sources. However much of the filtering appears (from the outside) to be poorly explained. We are estimating temperature from tree-rings, ice cores and antique thermometers and making decisions on variations of a couple of degrees or sometimes much less. In a day when it might be 50 degrees Celsius in outback Australia 20C in Tasmania and -120C in Canada, we try to produce an average.

    Now this data may be accurate enough to support the analysis, but it doesn't look that way to the uninitiated. Somebody needs to convince us.

    Second, much of the (mass-media) published information derives from Drs Jones and Mann and their colleagues. The recent revelations have raised *serious* doubts about their data integrity. Never mind the emails, the widely discussed "harry-readme" file chronicles the efforts of a researcher to identify correct data and understand the filtering source code. It tells a tale of confusion and some suspected sharp practises. Perhaps "Harry" is out of his depth and Dr Jones et. al. have immaculate data and source code. However Dr Jones' refusal to honour Freedom of Information requests leave us all with great suspicions. If we cannot trust Dr Jones and Dr Mann, can we trust any of the IPCC and related material? Maybe, but it has not been well explained.

    Third and perhaps worst is the number of morons who trumpet AGW concerns without any understanding what they mean. Mr Gore, for example, consistently makes impossible claims. It is too easy to look at these stumbling fools and think that their silly words represent the "scientific" view. When they are shown to lack credibility, by association the science seems to lose credibility. Why have serious scientists never told the buffoons to "sit down and be quiet"? Or have they? The media have seldom reported such.

    I don't know if AGW is real. I do know that most of what I hear about is gobbledegook. I'd like to be treated like a "grown up" and have the science explained in clear terms, without the black magic and the "oh, you couldn't understand this". I'd particularly like this before we destroy the world economy implementing schemes that probably won't even fix the problem, if AGW is real.

    OK, flame away.

    Michael J Smith

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOspaM.gmail.com> on Sunday December 13, 2009 @04:29AM (#30421208) Journal

    I think there is actually a very easy way to solve this problem...show us the code. Give out ALL the raw data, every little scrap, along with the source code for the programs they are using to manipulate it.

    I have to go with RMS and his traditional view on data, which is probably the one and only time I'll ever agree on ANYTHING with that guy, but in this case I see no other way. if you want to prove to me that AGW isn't a scam, and considering how much leaches like Goldman Sachs will make off of carbon credits it is hard not to be a little skeptical at this point, then share the code.

    I may not be able to read this data myself, but there are a LOT of really smart guys out there that can, so share it. Hiding from FOI requests is NOT the way to get anyone but the most fervent Koolaid drinkers to go along with your beliefs. After all we have had the creationists trying to debunk evolution for quite awhile now, but most folks won't believe them because the data is there for all to see. Considering that the changes required by the AGW bunches will cost the working poor untold mountains of money, can cause another bubble and enrich parasites like GS, and can cause the loss of many more jobs and folks falling deeper into poverty, I think having transparency with regards to the data, both raw and adjusted, is not too much to ask, wouldn't you agree?

  • by ArcherB (796902) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @04:31AM (#30421216) Journal

    I looked at the list. Thanx for providing it, BTW.

    Now, in the list, the majority of the people I see there are deans, college presidents, a few professors and some people that I have no idea why they would be there. Some of the people on the list don't even have Ph.D.'s.

    Mr. Arthur K. Reilly, for example, works for Cisco and has an MS in... well, it doesn't say.

    Dr. John T. Bruer got his PhD in Philosophy.

    Dr. Dan E. Arvizu is Director and Chief Executive of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Gee, I wonder where he comes down on AGW. Just think, if I, as a Dr. Venture style Super-Scientist could prove that AGW is a myth, this guy may be out of a job. I wonder how he would vote for my grant funding?

    Dr. Steven C. Beering is a Dr... as in MD. His science degree was honorary. He is the president of Purdue.

    Dr. Camilla P. Benbow's specialty is education.

    Dr. Ray M. Bowen is the President of Texas A&M. He does have a PhD in in mechanical engineering, although his resume is mostly academia administration.

    Now not all of these people are out of place. Kelvin K. Droegemeier is an excellent fit He has a PhD in a scientific field. He has worked in the real world and has actually done REAL stuff, not just research, not just academia. (And his name! He had me at Kelvin)...

    Still, I don't trust many of these people to know beaker from microscope, much less decide where money is being spent. Besides, should this many people in academia be deciding where government grants go? Aren't they kinda voting for their own salaries?

  • Re:gone (Score:2, Insightful)

    by HeronBlademaster (1079477) <heron@xnapid.com> on Sunday December 13, 2009 @04:34AM (#30421228) Homepage

    Wow. "He's a Mormon" is not one, but three of your problems with him. Interesting.

    Anyway, I don't want to get into an argument about Mormons with you right now (though you're welcome to e-mail me if you feel the desire to attempt to dissuade me of my crazy Mormon ways), so I'll just say this - even conservative Mormons might have a valid point once in a while.

    As for why I quoted him rather than say it myself, well, it's faster to copy and paste, especially when his point is the same as mine (in this case). I don't always agree with OSC, I do happen to agree with but the portion I quoted.

    [Conservatives claim] A call to stop building coal plants will 100% without fail lead to the complete collapse of the American economy.

    Actually we're just saying that a call to stop using coal power will cause the American way of life to collapse if all the other viable solutions are prohibited. That's just common sense. It's a shame the environmentalists can't understand it.

    The comment about bicycling is so intellectually dishonest that it makes me sick, so I'm not even going there.

    It's intellectually dishonest to point out that the people who most vigorously support measures to (somehow) stop global warming generally aren't the people you see riding around on bicycles to save energy and reduce pollution?

    It's intellectually dishonest to point out that Al Gore, who is one of the leading supporters of the "global warming" religion, has his own jet, which obviously is more damaging to the environment than just taking a regular plane like the rest of the population?

    It's intellectually dishonest to point out that many of the "global warming" supporters want the problems they're talking about solved, as long as they're not the ones that have to implement or live with the solutions?

    Are you really trying to claim that it's intellectually dishonest to point out hypocrisy?

    Everyone knows that nuclear power is a much more eco-friendly solution [...] but it's primarily conservative NIMBY types that prevent new nukular plants from being built.

    What "everyone" knows is that historically, the Democratic party has generally opposed nuclear power, while the Republican party has generally supported it. During his presidential campaign, McCain specifically mentioned a plan to ramp up nuclear power over the next few decades.

    As for what you call the "NIMBY crowd", well, I wouldn't mind a nuclear power plant in my back yard. I also wouldn't mind a wind turbine in my back yard, nor would I mind a set of solar panels on my roof. The "NIMBY" crowd covers both conservatives and liberals; it has very little to do with politics and very much to do with the desire to have and control one's own personal space (home, backyard, whatever).

    Show me a valid example and I'll eat my words.

    People propose solar power schemes all the time, and they're virtually always opposed by environmental groups. It's not hard to find examples. [lmgtfy.com] (Or by "realistic proposal" did you mean you want an example of a cheap solar power generation scheme? You know full well that solar power is still on the expensive side.)

    Again, the biggest opposition to something like this is the conservative "science is evil" crowd.

    I dunno... as a conservative, my impression has always been that it's mostly the liberals that are the "science is evil" crowd.

    But personally I haven't heard anything in particular from either political party about space-based power.

    Also, it's kind of a bad idea to just go around damming up every river in sight

    Nobody is suggesting damming up every river in sight - but to unilaterally reject all potential hydroelectric dams in the name of preserving the environment is silly

  • by andymar (690982) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @04:47AM (#30421294)

    "Climate encompasses the statistics of temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, rainfall, atmospheric particle count and numerous other meteorological elements in a given region over long periods of time. Climate can be contrasted to weather, which is the present condition of these same elements over periods up to two weeks." Wikipedia.

    You are saying the the complexity of weather is far too complex for our super-computers. This is evidently right since they can't accurately predict temperature for
    next days weather.

    How is it possible to predict that the temperature will rise globally with 2 degrees celsius in the next 50 years ? There should be some huge error
    bars rendering the results useless.

  • Not really (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @05:48AM (#30421470)

    You don't have to provide an alternate explanation to falsify a theory, you simply have to show that it doesn't do a good job of explaining what is going on. The "You can't explain it!" crap is precisely what the religious nuts try to pull. They say "Science can't explain everything about this, thus you have to accept our explanation." No, sorry, not how it works. Just because there isn't a scientific explanation at this point doesn't mean you are right.

    Well same deal here. You don't have to provide a perfect climate model to falsify an existing one, you only need to show how the existing one is wrong.

    Science isn't about being fair, it isn't a case of "Well YOU explain it better than me, or accept I'm right." It is a processes for learning about the natural world, and for separating what works from what doesn't. Showing something doesn't work is an important part of science. Ideally you'd be able to present a theory that doesn't but that's not always the case.

    Cold fusion was a good example. Group claimed to do cold fusion, other labs falsified their research, since their experiments were not repeatable. None of those labs provided a theory for working cold fusion, none had to. All they did was show that this particular theory was wrong.

  • by damburger (981828) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @05:57AM (#30421496)
    You are missing the point; if everyone's idiotic claims have to be subject to point by point analysis, then intelligence can be overwhelmed by stupidity when it has superior numbers. At a certain point you've got to say "My time as a scientist is costly, and not worth spending on such an obvious cretin"
  • by damburger (981828) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @06:00AM (#30421508)

    Yes, you are very lucky to have scientists to think for you. Thats our job. It takes time, dedication, and specific talent to become an expert in a field of science. Most people lack the talent and/or won't put in the time/dedication.

    Society has outsourced its heavy-duty thinking to scientific specialists, and so shouldn't be complaining when those specialists consider each others (peer reviewed) conclusions to be inherently more valuable than the rants of some-twat-on-tinternet.

  • by u38cg (607297) <calum@callingthetune.co.uk> on Sunday December 13, 2009 @06:03AM (#30421520) Homepage
    Or, it is a convenient way to allow published material to stand or fall by its own merit and not be interpreted through the prism of its author. I believe it also has the practical advantage that there is no article "ownership" at the Economist, and hence there is no ego about getting contributions or suggestions for changes from other staff members. Lastly, it passes the experience test: I've been reading it for ~6 years now and the quality of writing and journalism is far in excess of any other mainstream publication. Oh, and their staff list is online. You can check out their credentials if you really feel the need.
  • by Neon Aardvark (967388) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:38AM (#30421804) Homepage

    Which climate skeptics are on the payroll of "big oil" and are getting the "same weight" as pro-AGW-IPCC scientists?

    http://www.seattlepi.com/national/124642_warming02.html

    Your example doesn't meet both conditions. Having an attempted "research boycott of two journals that published the study" isn't receiving the "same weight".

    Having the "same weight" would be appearing in an IPCC report along side the paper that this was attacking (the Mann et al "Mike's Nature trick" paper).

    So when you see hacked emails showing scientists dissing people like them, or McIntyre, or any of that ilk, realize that the scientists *really do* think that these people are putting out garbage and have vested agendas.

    Granted, but the leaked emails and documents seem to allegedly show scientists that *really are* putting out garbage and have vested agendas. And they're receiving public money. And trillions of public money rest upon their "science".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:39AM (#30421810)

    as a research scientist in the field I never cease to be dumbfounded by the constant "they are making it all up to get more funding" theories.

    do you have any idea how badly a university professor gets paid? do you really think we work on this stuff for the money? Are you mad? Does it not occur to you that top numerical modelers can quit the game and pretty much walk into any financial house they want and make wheelbarrow loads of cash at any time they want? (don't tell my wife)

    and yet for some reason they do not. (well quite a few do just after finishing their phds, but they would have left anyway)

    just because you are primarily driven by greed it is a mistake to believe that all others are as well, especially those with lots of lucrative options open to them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:39AM (#30421814)

    The lynchings are most likely to be done by the global warming nuts, not to them. Manmade global warming has become a religion, in all but name. Millions upon millions of people who otherwise resent governement interference are squawking for their governments to "do something, before it's to late!" and to "Think of the children!"

    That glaringly obvious fake hockey stick that the messiah showed the world made all those converts, while at the same time, forcing honest men and women to ask, "What the fuck?!"

    You should read up on some of the past geological ages. Ice ages have come and gone. Global warming is a well established tradition - as is global cooling.

  • by Burnhard (1031106) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @08:04AM (#30421904)

    It's that to say that some random blogger likely doesn't have the tools to correctly analyze the data

    On the contrary, if the raw data is available and the method used to massage it, then the tools are readily available. It's interesting to me that when Prof Mann produces a paper where he's fiddled with the data (as shown by Wegman, McIntyre/McIntrick and as verified by Dr North of the NAS in congressional testimony), the paper is not retracted, it's `defended' (mostly by use of blogs). The same is true of Briffa's Yamal chronology and Steigs choice selection of PC's in his Antarctic Warming paper. We aren't talking particle physics here; you don't need a billion dollar accelerator to reproduce this kind of analysis.

  • by Glock27 (446276) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @08:20AM (#30421958)

    All people are equal.

    Do you really believe that? It's clearly not true.

    The quote from the Declaration of Independence is "All men are created equal.". Let's go ahead and extend that to "all people". Fine.

    The point of the statement was that there is in fact no "divine right of kings". I'm fairly sure you aren't arguing that there is.

    However, the fallacy in your statement is that, after birth, all humans are interchangeable (actually that's an argument for equivalence, not equality, but that's a lesser standard). There are wide ranges of intelligence, strength, courage, stamina, dexterity...OK I'll quit listing role-playing statistics. I'm sure you get my point.

    Any system that attempts to enforce the "equality" of people in general, such as socialism, is doomed to failure. The real world doesn't work that way. Those who excel, which generally benefits society, should be rewarded. Those who don't, not so much. That simple principle is responsible for the success of the United States, and is ignored at our peril. Yes, I strongly believe in American Exceptionalism, since it's an observed fact.

    FUBO! :-)

  • by Troed (102527) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @08:28AM (#30421974) Homepage Journal

    Yes. Facts, those pesky things standing in the way of your agenda! :)

    (I saw you linked to the same, factually incorrect, post several times in this Slashdot article alone)

    Anyway. Watt's lost a lot of money on his surfacestation-work - but since the end result is a better quality network I think it's important no matter what the actual conclusion might be. It can't be bad to know the actual siting locations and quality - can it? Thus, I'm one of many people who've donated money to surfacestations.org.

    Regarding the NOAA study on the 70 stations, they didn't do what they claimed - they instead studied the homogenized datasets which, of course, will show the same thing as the full dataset since they're ... homogenized with all those stations.

    Now, will you change your opinion based on facts - or do you go by dogma? ;)

  • by Glock27 (446276) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @08:28AM (#30421976)

    So when you see hacked emails showing scientists dissing people like them, or McIntyre, or any of that ilk, realize that the scientists *really do* think that these people are putting out garbage and have vested agendas. It's just that when speaking publicly, they usually have more tact.

    Wow, the hypocrisy here is stunning. Having read a lot of the leaked/hacked emails, it's more than clear the scientists have quite an agenda of their own. Intentionally distorting results, discarding inconvenient data, suppressing peer reviewed articles, and refusing to honor valid Freedom of Information requests all clearly happened. The first three are directly forbidden by good scientific practice. I hope those responsible have their credentials revoked, at a minimum.

    I think healthy skepticism of claims that would result in a complete re-ordering of the world economy is more than justified, whatever the source. A trillion dollars here, a trillion dollars there, and pretty soon your talking real money! :-P

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, and so far the IPCC position is looking far more like smoke and mirrors than honest, unbiased science.

    The fortunate thing is that plenty of folks see this deception for exactly what it is.

  • by dalutong (260603) <djtansey.gmail@com> on Sunday December 13, 2009 @08:50AM (#30422036)

    It isn't about gutting the current economy. It's about providing incentive structures for developing green technology.

    Businesses don't develop new methods and technologies unless they have a reason to. Sometimes that reason is that an entrepreneur saw that the future would be different and had a product that would advance us towards that new paradigm.

    Sometimes external factors, usually the government, create such incentives. For instance, look how much technology has been developed for military purposes. All of those were provided by the government.

    And the government can provide non-war incentives. Like carbon credits. That proposal has been the green-technology version of micro-loans, a private-sector way to assist a public-sector problem. Make it make sense to find ways to lower emission so you can sell your credits to another company and businesses will find ways.

    The GP said that China has become a leader in green technology. It has because the government realizes (all too well) that it can't keep down the same path forever. For many, standards of living have increased to the point where the cost of living can no longer be met by low-level factory jobs. Those jobs are moving to Vietnam and elsewhere. So China has focused on higher-level jobs.

    In the same way, it's realized that its water pollution and other problems like that can only be ignored so long. That they will slap them in the face (like pollution during the Olympics almost did) if they don't start addressing it. The big question will be, as the GP suggested, whether we (US), or other countries that eventually provide green incentives, will be buying Chinese technology and hiring Chinese contractors to pursue such incentives or if we will be on the cutting edge enough to use our own resources. The longer we wait to "jump on the bandwagon," the more likely that scenario is.

  • by pkphilip (6861) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @09:03AM (#30422066)

    For one thing, if you are given a data set with temperatures for various dates for various locations around the globe, you don't need a PhD to plot a simple chart showing temperatures along one axis and dates along another axis. A chart like that can be used to determine if the trend if towards higher temperatures or not.

    A second chart which maps CO2 levels for those same dates can be used to arrive at a simple correlation between temperature and CO2 levels. Again, I don't see why someone with even rudimentary understanding of statistics can't do this.

    And oh, if we are only going to be believing PhDs, allow me to point out that Gavin Schmidt's PhD is in Mathematics while IPCC head Pachauri's PhD is in mechanical engineering.

    Also, may I point out the simple fact that many of the skeptics have PhDs in climatology and atmospheric sciences (Dr.Roy Spencer, Dr. John Christy).

    And if the author is going to be making a big deal about peer-review process (completely ignoring the fact that the peer review process being used was completely flawed because of lack of data to do this peer review), may I point out this article from BBC which points out that IPCC got the dates wrong for the melting of Himalayan Glaciers by 300 years?! and it took their "peer-review" process only 2 years to figure this out.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8387737.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    Also, IPCC now acknowledges that many of the papers they referenced for their reports didn't go through peer review at all.

  • by knewter (62953) <josh,rubyist&gmail,com> on Sunday December 13, 2009 @09:48AM (#30422212) Homepage

    Most people lack the talent and/or won't put in the time/dedication.

    Right, those are the only two options. No one lacks the funds.

  • by argStyopa (232550) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @09:55AM (#30422234) Journal

    "The problem is that none of these articles have been successful in establishing an alternative model."

    Really? That's the standard?

    Because, as far as I recall, all the 'standard' and accepted models in the 1990's predicted warming, warming and more warming, yet the last decade hasn't seen it.
    The models predicted, if not more hurricanes, then at least stronger more devastating hurricanes. That hasn't happened either.

    So really, you're asserting that anti-AGW haven't proposed an alternative to a model that DOESN'T WORK?

  • by Bongo (13261) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @10:21AM (#30422376)

    Society has outsourced its heavy-duty thinking to scientific specialists, and so shouldn't be complaining when those specialists consider each others (peer reviewed) conclusions to be inherently more valuable than the rants of some-twat-on-tinternet.

    We also notice that being a specialist in one area does not make you a specialist in every area. We also notice that the climate is a system that involves many specialities. What looks like a concrete weight of evidence using data and methods of one speciality, might contradict the weight of evidence from the findings and methods of another speciality. Even if we only listen to qualified scientists, scientists in different fields disagree over the climate. When I've gotten into this point in the past, you know what scientists say? They just dismiss the other speciality.

    When scientists themselves start upholding the principle of respecting science, THEN you can ask the "uneducated" masses to do the same thing.

  • by Bongo (13261) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @10:37AM (#30422468)

    You are missing the point; if everyone's idiotic claims have to be subject to point by point analysis, then intelligence can be overwhelmed by stupidity when it has superior numbers. At a certain point you've got to say "My time as a scientist is costly, and not worth spending on such an obvious cretin"

    The question is largely irrelevant. The real problems with climate science are being highlighted by intelligent people, not by cretins.

    There are plenty of researchers out there, qualified, with careers, respected by their peers, who look at the IPCC stuff and say it is not working. These are researchers who know how to think about hard problems.

    As for the public opinion, most people appreciate that most predictions about complex systems unfolding in the future, tend to turn out wrong, especially when those predictions are made by experts. I really would like to see where people get the idea that predicting climate is a hard science. At best it is a soft science.

    Most of the controversy comes from scientists having decided that it is a moral stance that they need to uphold, that they must not give any openings to "evil" or "dumb" people who don't have the same moral principles, whereby they would willingly work to save the planet. So they have to try to make out that the science is watertight (but amongst themselves they use nuanced academic language, and that's how they get the respect of their peers).

    It is the idea that the public is dumb and evil that is causing the controversy. Scientists have decided that they have not just superior expertise, but also a superior moral stance. Well I've listened a lot to people of outstanding moral character, and wannabe world saviours don't impress me. Trying to scare the population into "action" does not impress me.

    Climate change is a moral issue. Many believe that the public is too weak morally to do anything about it. This is not unlike Tony Blair admitting that they lied about Saddam's WMDs to get the public to support the war, when they knew full well he might not even have any, but they just wanted, for "other reasons" to get rid of him, and that even if he had no weapons at all, it was "still the right thing to do". Sound familiar? Even Al Gore says this, he said that even if climate change wasn't man made, it was still right to do things "for other reasons".

    Stop treating the public like imbeciles and maybe you'll be surprised what they are capable of understanding.

    Just how many people do you know would go to a homeopath instead of a doctor? Sure there are some. But there are some green nuts too. Often they are one and the same. Funny that.

  • by cfortin (23148) <chris@fortins.org> on Sunday December 13, 2009 @10:48AM (#30422514)

    I think there is actually a very easy way to solve this problem...show us the code. Give out ALL the raw data, every little scrap, along with the source code for the programs they are using to manipulate it.

    This, right here. Scientists, real scientists, can support their findings even when others have access to the same inputs and methods as the scientist uses. If you hide data, you are no longer a scientist. If you 'correct' data with a certain result in mind, you are no longer a scientist.

    A real scientist is *happy* to let everyone look at their data, because a real scientist feels that pointing out an error to a colleague is one of the best favors you can perform. Having your peers look at your work in detail, and say "hey, that's some pretty good work" is the best.

    Hiding your data and still quoting the results removes you from the practice of science. Allowing, or encouraging people to make fundamental policy decisions on outcomes you are not willing to document and support is sinful.

    A core tenet of scientific study is that results should be independently reproduced. Real scientists hunt for people to reproduce their results.

      (IIAS, PhD in EE)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:20PM (#30423068)

    you would expect that over the last several years you would see lots of peer reviewed research disproving human caused climate change.

    You mean like all of the peer reviewed research [youtube.com] that Ian Plimer mentions in this talk? It's unfortunate that most people don't take the time to learn the science for themselves, because all they want to believe are the "we're killing our Earth", "think of the children" and "there's a scientific consensus" soundbites. It's more unfortunate that there have been a number of people taking the time to actually explain the data and the models [youtube.com], yet rather than trying to understand it, some people are so ingrained in their psychological viewpoint that they simply repeat the soundbites back.

    Finally, look up Climate gate. And look at the code of the models and the emails. And if you still don't understand, look up what "corrected" data and "artificially adjusted to look closer to the real temperatures" mean. Also note the destroyed data (what self respecting scientist destroys their data?!) and the emails telling everyone to delete their emails. And the people doing this are the MAIN authors of the data used in the IPCC reports, such as Mann and his famous "hockey stick". Complete fraud, except they weren't doing it for money, but for psychological reasons.

    After all, Republicans were running congress and the White House for a long time.

    And this means they controlled the media too? Now that the Democrats are in office, has everyone else shut up?

  • by arminw (717974) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:47PM (#30423262)

    ...I'll stick with the judgement of serious scientists....

    like those whose e-mails show that they massaged the data, refused FOIA requests, call it a "travesty" that the data do not support their agenda and work desperately hard to re-make the peer review process in their favor such as to exclude dissenting scientists who are more or equally qualified to publish on the subject.

  • by RocketRabbit (830691) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:53PM (#30423312)

    Many people are capable of thinking for themselves, and in fact you are advocating a new priesthood.

    People who don't wear the white collar that is awarded to scientists are not all morons, and many of them have serious problems, grounded in both logic and mathematics, with the so-called science that has been revealed as of late regarding global warming. The economic solutions appear even worse.

    So, adjust your attitude or prepare for a wave of Calvanism.

  • by rainsford (803085) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @01:42PM (#30423606)
    I see a lot of flaws in your logic, but perhaps the biggest one is that you are focusing on POLITICIANS and ignoring actual scientists. While it makes a great talking point, in the end, what Al Gore thinks or believes has no bearing on whether or not AGW is true or false.
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @01:56PM (#30423702)

    Yes, you are very lucky to have scientists to think for you. Thats our job.

    That's one of the dumbest things I've heard in a while. Scientists don't think for anyone but themselves, they are there to provide testable theories which fit testable facts.

    and so shouldn't be complaining when those specialists consider each others (peer reviewed) conclusions to be inherently more valuable

    The problem with this is that scientists who are skeptical are excluded and you end up with little cliques of self reinforcing dogma. Religion, if you will.

    The words "Fuck that" spring to mind.

  • by Foobar of Borg (690622) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @03:14PM (#30424210)

    Here's why I'm a "skeptic": If these politicians truly believed in AGW, would they be flying private jets to Copenhagen and riding around in Limo's (1200 of them)? Would you be wasting energy running your coal powered computer to read this message? Would Al Gore live in a mansion that belches more CO2 in a month than my neighborhood does all year? Of course not. But they would do all these things if they were using it to gain power, all while telling me that I have to cut back, obey their rules, and give them more money!

    So, you are skeptic of scientific research because of what *politicians* do? "Oh look, mom! There's a politician being a hypocrite!"

    Here's an idea. Why don't you try to learn about the actual scientific research and try to determine whether or not it is true instead of babbling about Rush Limbaugh-inspired irrellevancies?

  • by TemporalBeing (803363) <bm_witness.yahoo@com> on Monday December 14, 2009 @12:03AM (#30427830) Homepage Journal

    The answer is to engage in critical thinking

    The public's response to the movie 2012 demonstrates that the vast majority of people simply don't have the level of education required to engage in critical thinking. Public lack of scientific education is the core problem here.

    What do you expect from a generation that has been raised on "all answers are right, here's your reward even though you got -2 when adding 2+3." Seriously, the whole "gotta reassure their self-esteem" thing is the biggest problem in education today - not lack of scientific education.

    Then of course we get the to the whole critical thinking issues, which most colleges (and especially in science) have completely abandoned. I quotes a book on the topic a while back - where the author did a lot of research and found the liberal Christian colleges (Calvin College, Messiah College) did far better with critical thinking than the public colleges. Yeah go figure on that one - examine the issues at hand, debate them, and arrive at a conclusion does better than "evolution is the way, no other"...hmm...critical thinking, yep....gotcha there.

  • by pkphilip (6861) on Monday December 14, 2009 @07:06AM (#30429512)

    It does not matter in the slightest if they published their findings in thousands of papers.. what we are interested in is the data and the code they used to arrive at that result so that we can verify these findings for ourselves. That is how science is supposed to work.

    Climate scientists aren't going to get their free pass from this peer review just because they are concerned that those peers doing their review haven't already drunk their koolaid before starting on the review.

    Peer-review has no meaning if you don't provide the data for doing this review.

  • by ultranova (717540) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @05:08PM (#30463882)

    Socialism, first and foremost, is about the government's control over the means of production.

    No, that's communism, which is the extreme end of socialism and will very likely be made completely obsolete by personal nanomanufacturing.

    Your "minimum guaranteed quality of life" is a lie: once you make the electorate accept the need for a "certain minimum quality of life" for the "unfortunate", you will begin to continuously raise that minimum, until the "safety net" becomes a perfectly comfortable place for perpetual occupation.

    Yes, that's the point where I think our current level of technological progress, combined with current social fads - unfettered capitalism and the associated predatory behaviour - really ought to set the minimum bar. Ambition will make sure that people will reach higher, and the social safety net will encourage taking risks by making sure you'll survive.

    Unfortunately, the current system benefits robber barons instead.

    Another lie -- intended for the already mentioned establishing and maintaining the power to redistribute ever bigger share of the nation's wealth.

    Really? Getting 700 billion dollars as a reward for incompetence isn't enough to make someone a robber baron for you? Out of curiosity: just where do you draw the line?

    For the record: I'm all for putting the nation's wealth into the hands of all of its citizens, rather than just a tiny elite.

    Canada has the same geography -- even better, for they don't have a northern neighbor (hint: the only time, the residence of the US President was captured by an enemy, the enemy was Canadian.)

    Canada doesn't have the same geography as the United States. As you yourself said, it's as far North as a nation can get - there's nothing but the polar icecap further north.

    Brazil is even more wonderfully endowed -- Amazon alone is a treasure trove. Unfortunately, they've dabbled with Socialism too much -- some say, it is due to their being dominated by Catholicism.

    Brazil is a local superpower, and will likely increase its global influence in the future.

    Either way, US is not unique in its geography. The GP is right about American exceptionalism.

    Yes, it is, and no, he isn't.

It is impossible to travel faster than light, and certainly not desirable, as one's hat keeps blowing off. -- Woody Allen

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