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Earth Science Politics

Of Diamond Planets, Climate Change, and the Scientific Method 821

A few weeks ago, we discussed the discovery of a diamond planet in orbit around a pulsar. One of the researchers behind the discovery has now written a followup article about reaction to the news from the media and laypeople. Quoting: "The attention we received was 100% positive, but how different that could have been. How so? Well, we could have been climate scientists. ... Instead of sitting back and basking in the glory, I suspect we’d find a lot of commentators, many with no scientific qualifications, pouring scorn on our findings. People on the fringe of science would be quoted as opponents of our work, arguing that it was nothing more than a theory yet to be conclusively proven. There would be doubt cast on the interpretation of our data and conjecture about whether we were “buddies” with the journal referees. If our opponents dug really deep they might even find that I’d once written a paper on a similar topic that had to be retracted. Before long our credibility and findings would be under serious question. But luckily we’re not climate scientists."
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Of Diamond Planets, Climate Change, and the Scientific Method

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  • by fridaynightsmoke ( 1589903 ) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @08:29AM (#37385530) Homepage

    so, what your saying is you don't believe climate science even though it is overwhelmingly verified & agreed upon because it would make you uncomfortable & maybe inconvenience you a little bit?

    So blind, egotistical, self-interest trumps good science. Yeah, that'll work

    Try reading my post again. I have expressed no opinion on whether the science is right or not. I am saying that the stakes are much higher for the average person than for other areas of science.

  • by Eunuchswear ( 210685 ) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @08:44AM (#37385662) Journal

    "Climate science is being used to advance a political objective".

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

  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @08:47AM (#37385706)

    statistical methods and conclusions from correlated data (as in the global warming debate) just DON'T carry the same logical force as objective, emperical, experimental science

    Do you really believe that statistical analysis is unique to climate science? What do you think CERN publishes? What do you think its terabytes of storage are for? What do you think biologists, and epidemiologists, and biochemists, and evolutionary biologists, and developmental researchers, and medical researchers publish in their journals? What about chemists? What do you think these guys did to pull the tiny variances in data out that betrayed the existence of a planet made of diamond?

    You really have absolutely no idea what you're talking about.

    Besides, the author ignores the fact that the public and media scrutinity occurred because scientists themselves can't agree on the facts.

    The fraction of climate science researchers who come down on the side of anthropogenic global warming is over ninety eight percent. You won't find a stronger concensus on a front-line research issue anywhere. There is no scientific debate on this issue. It's settled.

  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @09:39AM (#37386368)

    Actually, scientists determined that the world was round, and pretty confidently settled on the issue, hundreds of years before one particular religious orthodoxy decided that it must be flat. And even then sailors knew to ignore it.

    The impact of the concensus amoungst climate scientists comes not from their numbers, but the vast body of evidence they have presented. We may suck at forecasting weather for obvious reasons, but climate modelling is very well-understood, in much the same way that individual-level medical diagnosis is still an uncertain art, but medical epidemiology is a settled issue.

  • by Sique ( 173459 ) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @10:37AM (#37387078) Homepage

    But for comparison purposes, Exxon spent $23 million for climate research in 10 years. The US government spent $79 billion on climate research and technology since 1989 - to be sure, this funding paid for things like satellites and studies, but it's 3,500 times as much as anything offered to sceptics. (Source [abc.net.au]) Exxon also spent $600 million on biofuels research.

    ... which is dishonest by itself. Most of the money goes to weather monitoring and weather forecasting. Some of the largest computer clusters in the Top 500 list are purposebuilt for weather simulation and weather prediction. Many civilian satellites are weather satellites. The weather modelling got pretty good in recent years. While about 20 years back weather forecasts very valid only for about 24 hrs to 36 hrs, today's models are good at predicting the weather for the next three days, and the week forecasts are often correct.

    So the infrastructure to collect weather data, to process it in simulations and to build models which resemble real weather processes is there - built for weather forecasting. And if someone starts to take all that raw data, processes it with all the dirty tricks and adaptions weather forecasters have developed to overcome faults and systematic errors, and which proved themselves in thousands of weather forecasts in the last 30 years, and then applies the same models that are so successful for the foreseeable future, to longer periods of the past and finds out that they work remarkably well even for runs over 50 years or 100 years and resemble the raw data results for those last 50 or 100 years, and then let the same models run 50 or 100 years in the future, he suddenly is a dishonest liar, whose only purpose in life is to get grant money from an overreaching government in its quest to control everybody?

    Most climate scientist run experiments all the time - they try to predict the weather for the next days or weeks or months. They are pretty good at it. But a large share of the U.S. population (AGW deniers are much less in other countries) doesn't like the conclusions they come to, if they run their models for a longer period, and suddenly climate scientists are an evil bunch.

    AGW deniers should stop believing the weather forecasts. It's pure hypocrisy to believe weather forecasts to be mostly correct and at the same time AGW to be a conjured scheme to funnel government money to climate scientists pockets. Because in fact they are the same people responsible for both, and the same theories backing their predictions.

  • by tmosley ( 996283 ) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @10:43AM (#37387166)
    Of course they don't SAY it. But it is a bias that exists. It exists in all humans.

    For example, ask yourself what North American Indians lived like for the several hundred years before the arrival of European colonists. Chances are you think that they were sedentary farming tribes in the East, nomads on the great plains, and sedentary village builders in the West. This was not the case (outside of the West). Rather, the east was a great culture that worked metal and had complex trade routes along the Mississippi. The tribes of the midwest didn't become nomads until the introduction of horses by the spanish.

    You tell me how EXACTLY are we going to reduce carbon emissions without reducing our economic output. You know, the economic output that the poor depend on for their survival. People are ALREADY starving in Africa. What do you think is going to happen when the fuel used to grow the grains we send/sell to them quadruples in price? You don't think, and that's why your meddling in markets is deadly.

Today is a good day for information-gathering. Read someone else's mail file.