Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Trust in Science

Nothing is more characteristic of a dogmatist epistemology than its theory of error. For if some truths are manifest, one must explain how anyone can be mistaken about them, in other words, why the truths are not manifest to everybody. According to its particular theory of error, each dogmatist epistemology offers its particular therapeutics to purge minds from error. (Imre Lakatos)

If no exception occur from phenomena, the conclusion may be pronounced generally. But if at any time afterwards any exception should occur, it may then begin to be pronounced with such exceptions as occur.(Isaac Newton)

When the physicists started to talk about "electricity," or the physicians about "contagion," these terms were vague, obscure, muddled. The terms that the scientists use today, such as "electric charge," "electric current," "fungus infection," "virus infection," are incomparably clearer and more definite. Yet what a tremendous amount of observation, how many ingenious experiments lie between the two terminologies, and some great discoveries too. - Polya [1954] v.1p.55 -p.95

I watched "Horizon: Science Under Attack" last night, in which Nobel prize winner Sir Paul Nurse went on a journey to find out why science appears to be under attack.

Geneticist and biologist Paul Nurse examines the reasons why public trust in key scientific theories, including the cause of global warming, the safety of GM food and the link between HIV and Aids, seems to have been eroded. He travels to New York to interview scientists and campaigners from both sides of the climate change debate, and meets a man who has HIV but does not believe the virus is responsible for Aids.

We knew that Nurse was a Nobel Prize winner because he told us. And a president of the Royal Society. And throughout the programme, the pedigree of various scientists was elucidated, to give us confidence. But this style of presentation was deeply inimical to Nurse's focus on "the facts" that really mattered. It was really little more than the "men in white lab coats" of countless advertisements on television in the 1960s and 1970s; it was the argument from authority, scientists giving pronouncements, couched in modern terms. It reminded me most of what Orwell noted in his essay on the shape of the earth:

Much the greater part of our knowledge is at this level. It does not rest on reasoning or on experiment, but on authority. And how can it be otherwise, when the range of knowledge is so vast that the expert himself is an ignoramus as soon as he strays away from his own specialty?

Here are a few of Nurse's arguments, and why I disagree with them.

a) Climate Change Deniers are involved in cherry picking data

"You cannot ignore the greater body of evidence in favour of something you would prefer to be true" said Nurse. But it is equally true that you cannot ignore the smaller body of evidence in favour of a greater picture into which it doesn't fit. In other words, there has to be some contradictory data, some exceptions, for the climate change deniers to focus on, and this is marginalised.

What seems to happen is that these exceptions are eliminated by what the philosopher Imre Lakatos termed "piecemeal exclusions", which is the mirror image of cherry picking.

Nurse had an analogies of a garden, and he said science (unlike deniers) say "look at the whole picture", but what he didn't really come to grips with was how are exclusions are dealt with - are they treated as seriously as they should.

In fact, when it came to deniers, he more or less argued that this was a psychological stance, they had a fixed idea, and just looked for evidence of that. He argued that science looks for refutations, yet gave no examples of how this was done with climate change. Instead he just produced pictures and talked to people who produced plenty of supportive facts, and told us how the models were improving all the time, but gave no indication of what would disprove their case.

There was a wonderful Nasa globe, in which real weather patterns could be matched with the mathematical model, and you could see visually how the model was improving all the time. This would be even more convincing if it had the ability to predict the weather, and for example, warn the Australians of the imminent danger of flooding. After all, a theory is only as good as its testing, as Nurse told us repeatedly. I suspect the Nasa models are very weak when it comes to future weather patterns, but very good in real time or retrospectively, which is more or less what we have with weather forecasting today, when we are told why a weather pattern has occurred, but not why the predictions failed (as anyone reading the papers will note).

There was a contradiction between his formal expression of science (as a Karl Popper style program of testing to destruction) and what he was actually presenting to support his case. He virtually came out with a Popper methodology - we test our most cherished science and try to refute it:

At the next step our tentative solution is discussed; everybody tries to find a flaw in it and to refute it.[producing] a competitive struggle which eliminates those hypotheses which are unfit. From the amoeba to Einstein, the growth of knowledge is always the same; we try to solve our problems, and to obtain, by a process of elimination, something approaching adequacy in our tentative solutions (Karl Popper)

In fact Popper often confused his own logic of scientific discovery with the practice of scientific discovery, as philosopher Mary Midgeley noted:

As we know, this is not really the way in which infant ideas get reared. From their first germination, they normally grow in public, in the common soil of the community. They occur to somebody, who mentions them, and they begin to be talked about. Their growth becomes possible because of shifts in the general climate of thought, and is fostered by half-conscious contributions from many sources for a long time before any one person thinks them out explicitly....People who get interested in them usually want to share them with others, and that fertile sharing is the main source of their further development. Of course elimination plays its part in discriminating among various emerging possibilities. But the main work of developing them is the positive, constructive, imaginative process of building them and thinking out better ways to use them, and this work is normally best carried on co-operatively, among circles of friends and acquaintances.

In fact, despite what Nurse was saying, he neither gave no examples of how scientists committed to climate change are trying to refute their own hypothesis, but on the contrary, provided lots of shots of scientists telling us that climate change was undeniable because of the "facts", which were presented in superficial glossy Horizon way. It was an opportunity missed.

There was no real consideration of the logic of refutations, which is no doubt why Nurse cannot understand how people don't accept his position when the evidence is so clear-cut. This is a sketchy approach (based on Lakatos) that I would consider to understanding the problems involved; it is probably a simplification, but I think it is more realistic than the Popperan approach suggested but not practiced here.

If a "proof" of a conjectures - such as climate change - can be broken down into subconjectures which support the main conjecture, then we may have a global counterexample, which contradicts all the subconjectures, or a local counterexample which contradicts a smaller subconjecture, but does not completely overturn the main conjecture. But that may mean that several supporting subconjectures are in fact false, or are not giving the complete picture.

Unless we can see this process clearly at work, and the weaknesses of the cases of exceptions (which may not matter, and we need to explain why), the production of exemptions will simply suggest that climate change scientists, as much as deniers, are shutting their eyes to what they don't want to see. That, I think, is the public perception, and why climate change science is so much under attack.

b) Look at all the evidence, science is evidence based.

This was Paul Nurse's other argument - we can see how the data is used, there are peer reviewed scientific journals, and scientific evidence is there, open to scrutiny by anyone who doubts.

Yet then he goes on to speak to the scientist at the centre of the "climategate" affair who complains about being bombarded with freedom of information requests for his supporting data. And the scientist in question says this is evidence of a conspiracy against him, not that he should have put all his data out into the public domain anyway!!

Even Paul Nurse realised there was a contradiction here, and said that the model way of doing things should be the Human Genome Project. Unfortunately the human element of science, namely staking a claim to fame by priority, still counts for a good deal.

"Scientists have got to get out there. They have to be open about what they do ... even if it does put their reputation in doubt", he said. Keeping evidence back from public view suggests that what does get on display may be selective, it certainly fuels suspicions, and rather than Nurse talking to camera about a more open public access to science and data, he didn't question the climategate scientist at all about keeping his data to himself, and why that somehow legitimate. Instead he seemed to almost let that slip by.

c) Cherry Picking

Paul Nurse cited selective use of evidence, and yet when it came to GM crops, there was an appalling amount of cherry picking in his presentation. For example, on GM foods, he said "of course they contained genes, everything does", suggesting that the public were somehow ignorant of this basic fact. This was patronising and completely untrue; it was a a gross oversimplification of the issues at stake. Somehow he forgot to mention:

1) gene splicing (such as introducing scorpion genes into vegetables) rather than selective propagation is one cause of concern, as no one has any idea about alien genes and long term side effects of these in the food chain.

2) GM crops are produced not just to be resistant to blight (his example of "good GM"), but also resistant to extremely strong pesticides, regardless of the environmental hazard to the ecosystem that produces

3) terminator seeds, are manufactured, which are designed not to be able to be propagated, so that the manufacturer retains a monopolistic control of the food chain.

"Trust no-one. Trust only what the experiment and the data tell you. We have to continue to use that approach if we are to solve problems such as climate change." said Nurse. If his presentation on GM crops is anything to go by, no one is likely to trust him on climate change.

He also provided his "killer question" -

Suppose you were ill with cancer would you wish to be treated by "consensus" medicine or something from the quack fringe? (Paul Nurse)

what he is in fact providing is a medical version of Pascal's wager, and it overlooks the fact that while most people will opt for "consensus medicine", it may still kill them.

Going back to the issue of hygiene and the work of Semmelweis, the "consensus medical practice" for doctors was (in the 19th century) not to practice strict hygiene and as a result were killing women by infecting them in childbirth. Semmelweis noted this and proved that these infections could be stopped with effective hygiene. He was hounded out by the "consensus".

Oxygen supplied to premature babies (as best consensus) caused blindness.

Thalidomide enjoyed a wide spread "consensus" among the medical profession that it was a safe and effective treatment for morning sickness in pregnant women.

It wasn't so long ago that the medical consensus was that stomach ulcers were caused by worry rather than helicobacter pylori.

I'm not saying one shouldn't seek medical advice rather than "quack medicine", but just that by overlooking the flaws in consensus medicine along the way (and I'm not going to start on psychiatry), Nurse is painting a much rosier picture than he should. You may have "consensus medicine" for cancer, but you may well die anyway. Either / or is simplistic - most people will go for both "consensus" medicine, and unorthodox treatments.

"I think today there is a new kind of battle. It's not just about ideas but whether people actually trust science... Science has created our modern world so I would like to understand why scientists are under such attack and whether scientists are partly to blame," Sir Paul said.

Overall my son was unimpressed. Why couldn't he show us the whole email in Climategate about ""Mike's Nature trick" rather than telling us what it meant? Why did they just show nice graphics, and not give much in the way of solid data? That, of course, is why he hates most Horizons nowadays, which eschew real science for glossy visuals, and dumbing down.

If you treat people like idiots, people won't trust you - that is more or less why people don't trust scientists like Paul Nurse. Watching the Horizon, I suspect he will have alienated more people than he won over to his point of view. And he will have been partly to blame.


Anonymous said...

hi tony,great posting

I believed in AGW until i read all the leaked/hacked CRU emails
(stored and searchable at science and public policy.org)
ugly reading for anyone who supports the scientific method.
This prompted me to take a closer look at the actual science of AGW

the Vostok ice core data shows CO2 lags tempreture by 500-1500 years

Milankovic cycles (earths wobble,tilt and orbit) are thought to account for glaciations and interglacials

we are living in a geological period of very low levels of atmospheric CO2

the bbc has a lot to answer for with their pro AGW activism

TonyTheProf said...

I tend to think the evidence is quite strong in favour of global warming, whatever the causes, but the evidence is more fragmentary (the pre-modern period) than is made out.

That's what upsets me. Not that I deny global warming, but that the supporters of the thesis do their own cherry picking. Both sides talk AT each other; there is no engagement, no discussion of what would constitute evidence, what could be discounted, and why.

In CP Snow's The Affair, the two lawyers have to agree on "common ground" before the case in question (involving scientific fraud) is argued. This is so that they can both present a case and get closer to what would count as undeniable facts.

Or to use an analogy from NT Wright on the Bible:

Too much debate about scriptural authority has had the form of people hitting one another with locked suitcases. It is time to unpack our shorthand doctrines, to lay them out and inspect them. Long years in a suitcase may have made some of the contents go moldy. They will benefit from fresh air, and perhaps a hot iron.

TonyTheProf said...

I should add that I totally disbelieve any George Soros funded global conspiracy to take over political control of the world. I'd put that in the waste paper basket along with the Da Vinci code. Or perhaps Dan Brown made that one up too?

DocRichard said...

If it were possible for decarbonisation of the owrld economy to be achieved by the free market operating alone, without any regulation, would you be more inclined to join the csnsensus of scientists?

TonyTheProf said...

I'm quite happy for some degree of regulation - after all the London smog only went after restrictions on coal burning. Years ago factories dumped into rivers; if they do so now, they get fined. Regulations can be made; they can be necessary. But a democracy can do that; it doesn't need a dictatorship.

The planets resources are obviously finite, and sooner or later we will certainly run out of oil. It's madness to think we won't.

But where Sir Paul Nurse / Horizon fail is that they present (as in the section of GM) just as much "cherry picking" as they accuse their opponents of doing.

Nick Palmer said...

Hi Tony. I'll hold fire until I've seen the programme, which I recorded, but I think you make a grave error - that both "sides" in the AGW "debate" have equal credibility. In a nut shell the difference is between the con man who uses magic/rhetorical tricks to separate people from their money using such as the three card trick, or the three cups, and the mathematician who shows you why you won't win at roulette. One is deceiving you and the other is trying to show you reality.

Your first comment contains three statements from anonymous who has been manipulated by the black propaganda from the likes of SPPI into believing these are some sort of counter evidence against AGW. They are frequently used by the deceivers to fool the naive public. In fact, this is one way that you can find out who is fooling who. The way these correct statements of knowledge are used to fool people has been shot down a million times. The reasons why they are NOT evidence that AGW is mistaken are simple and easily understandable. Any rational person, once they hear them, would see it. And yet the purveyors of propaganda don't care - they just keep on promoting the same deceits because they know that a brand new bunch of the naive, the ignorant and the wishful thinkers will be sucked in - there's one born every minute.

There are literally hundreds of these deceits. They have been manufactured by the denialist industry using exactly the same overall strategy that the tobacco industry came up with - in short, to manufacture doubt in the public's mind. It's a kind of "evil".

If anyone has one single piece of anti AGW "evidence" they think is rock solid true, I will destroy it for you. Anyone? It is not possible to easily answer what the denialists usually do which is to create a blizzard of false assertions and fallacious logical statements - the so called "Gish Gallop" - click for Rational Wiki article on this technique

TonyTheProf said...

My main grip was the presentation by Paul Nurse - if you think his presentation of GM foods was fair and open and transparent and good science, then I think we must disagree. This seriously damaged his credibility.

I've read the hacked emails and the explanation, and I think that's fair, but why do people need FOI requests for the data? This again damages credibility and fuels accusations of conspiracy. It is not to say there is anything damaging to the global warming scientists being hidden; I'm not saying that. I'm just saying that kind of approach doesn't help. It is like Terry Le Sueur's assurances where he says effectively "nothing to worry about - but I'm not giving the public any information out because of the code of blah, blah"

It is also clear that Horizon's own in-house style needs a serious re-think. My son (16) kept saying - give us some figures. Don't tell us. Information please. I think the NASA chap mentioned 2 figures for CO2, and gave very little in the way of how they were arrived at. It is dumbing down, and it doesn't work. In the end, he was so fed up he left watching after 40 minutes.

By way of contrast, my son watched the 1/2 hour lecture by Michael Sandel on BBC4 - no glossy visuals, just a podium, powerpoint presentation with 2 slides, and plain clear talking. But unlike Horizon, it was rivetting.

TonyTheProf said...

"Any rational person, once they hear them, would see it."

I'm afraid you are falling into the same trap as Paul Nurse, and on different subjects, such as the God Delusion, Richard Dawkins.

Pretty well everyone (except possibly someone who is borderline psychotic and aware of that) believes they see the world rationally. They are amazed why other people don't see the world the same way. They can produce evidence and facts to support their case.

What I think must be undertaken - and Paul Nurse did not do so - is a philosophical analysis of the basis for thinking that something is "rational". The opponents of global warming don't think they are irrational, they think they are the ones being rational and scientific, and it is the other side than are "con men" using tricks, and like Sarah Ferguson can produce volumes of counterexamples at the drop of a hat!

That suggests to me that we have two different frameworks of understanding, and within each one, facts are either consistent (and supportive) or can be filtered out (reduced in significance).

And so what is needed is a discussion first about what is common ground, a basis for both sides to agree on, before simply launching missiles at each other.

Nick Palmer said...

As I said I will wait until I see the programme.

"I'm afraid you are falling into the same trap as Paul Nurse, and on different subjects, such as the God Delusion, Richard Dawkins."


"that suggests to me that we have two different frameworks of understanding, and within each one, facts are either consistent (and supportive) or can be filtered out (reduced in significance)."

The frameworks are reality (or as close as we can figure out) and biased distorted twisted perceptions of reality. Call it borderline psychosis if you like but the "opponents" of AGW science are as effectively insane as someone who tells you that they can prove they are god by numerical analysis of the phone book.

There is a difference between reality and lies stupidity and B.S.

"but why do people need FOI requests for the data"

Perhaps you don't know the full story. Steve McIntyre from the disinformation website Climate Audit organised what looked pretty much like a denial of service attack on the CRU at U of E.Anglia. He got his minions to put in FOI requests for meteorological data. He asked each minion to put in five FOI requests and these were coordinated so hundreds were put in in a short time. Our favourite local denier politician was one of them. This politician, on Climate Audit even boasted about how her request might ruin their vacations.

Each individual FOI request had to have up to 18 hours devoted to it. Imagine if someone tried to force you to go through the source code for Internet Explorer line by line to find errors.

The whole stunt was not a brave quest to ascertain secret information because the vast majority of the data originated from third parties - if the quest was a genuine effort for McIntyre to get data to work with, he would have found it far easier to get it directly from the meteorological services of the hundreds of countries concerned.

Phil Jones and the rest knew exactly what McIntyre was doing. It was a harassment attack that could be used afterwards for propaganda purposes - as it was. Call them wrong if you like but their reluctance to comply was down to the fact that they knew any information they gave out would be misused not for genuine sceptical (critical friend) analysis but rather to be twisted and misrepresented to feed the denialist ehochamber.

Anonymous said...

a) why wasn't the data available in the public domain? There is clearly a debate about what should be there, about ideas of open and transparent science. If the raw data had been accessible, then the deniers would not have anything to do!

b)The Times notes that:

"SCIENTISTS at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based.

It means that other academics are not able to check basic calculations said to show a long-term rise in temperature over the past 150 years.

The UEA’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) was forced to reveal the loss following requests for the data under Freedom of Information legislation."

If it had been put in the public domain, it would have been duplicated and not lost.

Anonymous said...

hi again tony,

mr. Palmer talks of 'black properganda' and the 'denial industry'

i'm sorry but, the U.S. gov. alone has poured over $80 Billion into trying to prove man made CO2 caused global warming in the past 20 years,worldwide the money spent on AGW theory dwarves any other field of science (including CERN)

as far as climate science is concerned the only industry is the AGW one

as for properganda, 90+% of MSM are 'on board' AGW message, horizon is just the latest offering,
the use of the word denier for a sceptic is a particularly pernicious piece of properganda

there is not one bit of evidence to support CO2 as a major driver of tempreture- not one

I tend to side with physicists and mathemicians (lindzen,singer,spencer et al)
on this subject, and not dendrologists and GCM modellers

lastly, you dont need a conspiracy theory to explain scientific bias here

the gravy train does the job

TonyTheProf said...

"there is not one bit of evidence to support CO2 as a major driver of tempreture- not one"

I'd tend to disagree on the basis of Venus. No one really queried (on a newspaper topical level) anything about C02 resulting in a greenhouse effect when he was presenting his Cosmos series, and the queries (and denial) only really started when earth was the planet under consideration, and suddenly more personal and political equations started to enter the fray.

Carl Sagan note:

"The gas chromatograph on the Pioneer Venus entry probes gave an abundance of water in the lower atmosphere of a few tenths of a percent. On the other hand, infrared measurements by the Soviet entry vehicles, Veneras 11 and 12, gave an abundance of about a hundredth of a percent. If the former value applies, then carbon dioxide and water vapor alone are adequate to seal in almost all the heat radiation from the surface and keep the Venus ground temperature at about 480°C. If the latter number applies - and my guess is that it is the more reliable estimate - then carbon dioxide and water vapor alone are adequate to keep the surface temperature only at about 380°C, and some other atmospheric constituent is necessary to close the remaining infrared frequency windows in the atmospheric greenhouse. However, the small quantities of SO2, CO and HCl, all of which have been detected in the Venus atmosphere, seem adequate for this purpose. Thus recent American and Soviet missions to Venus seem to have provided verification that the greenhouse effect is indeed the reason for the high surface temperature."

Nick Palmer said...

Ok, I've seen the programme. I was a little surprised how accurate Nurse was. No doubt you will have seen how close his bit on the "climategate" emails was compared to mine.

"But it is equally true that you cannot ignore the smaller body of evidence in favour of a greater picture into which it doesn't fit. In other words, there has to be some contradictory data, some exceptions, for the climate change deniers to focus on, and this is marginalised."

Did you ever read "The Owl Service" by Alan Garner? The operative plot device was a set of plates which had a pattern around the edge which was ambiguous - depending on how you looked at it, it resolved into either stylised owls or flowers. Seeing owls led to unpleasantness.

The person who sees something in an ink blot is projecting their internal reality onto the ink shape. Those who quote evidence they claim is excluded because it conflicts with climate science are generally just ink blotting - they make the flowers into owls. I, along with others, have have just had a prolonged battle with a prolific spreader of disinformation across many sites who descended on one of the top world climate site blogs (Skeptical Science).

This person appears to be incapable of understanding the meaning of what he reads because it conflict with his extreme confirmation bias.

He kept on presenting a paper (Tsonis et al) as if it was proof positive that CO2 had no or very little effect on the total greenhouse effect. To the naive, reading his rhetoric, pseudo-logic and highly cherry-picked extracts he made a great case. The vast majority of people would have believed that they had seen someone authoritatively quoting a legitimate scientific paper that proved what he was saying.

He got comprehensively shot down a hundred times yet he kept on coming back like a Weeble, except he didn't wobble! If he goes away and starts talking to the scientifically naive, or those who haven't actually read the relevant paper, he just might convince a lot of people that there is nefariously excluded evidence and papers that knock holes in the consensus knowledge. Politicians will be glad to join in. The likes of Delingpole and Booker will be right there too.

see part 2

Nick Palmer said...

Most (and I'm saying "most" simply to avoid saying "all", in case any turns up) of the "excluded evidence" that the denialists focus on is NOT evidence against the majority view of climate science. It can be real work that they present as evidence against something they claim that climate science has said or predicted - they routinely use (and re-use) whole battalions of crafted deceitful strawmen.

Either that or it is maverick work that is not taken seriously by the mainstream, not because it doesn't fit in with their view but because it is garbage work. To the general public however, it is relentlessly presented as smoking guns in order to deceive them. There is a vicious dirty war out there going on between the black propagandists and the science unfortunately aided and abetted by too many gullible citizens who think they know enough to judge the merits.

They are like people who watch David Blaine and believe that he can do real magic - because they want to believe. I have said elsewhere that a big help to civilisation would be if spotting the techniques of magic, misdirection and the main logical fallacies were taught to primary school kids.

An example of several very common strawmen which exploit the confusion in the public's mind between weather and climate goes something like "it's been the coldest December on record and the records show that there has been no overall warming for 10 years therefore AGW must be a crock of crap, probably a conspiracy to get grant funds etc".

The strawman is the implicit claim that climate science said that the warming would be linear - ever upwards - and that the warming means that high summer temperatures will always be greater, that low winter temps will always be higher and that all places on Earth will get evenly warmer.

The denialists, of course can find plenty of evidence, mainstream and "excluded", that supports their strawmen but it really doesn't amount to anything real.

You raise "argument from authority" perhaps suggesting the logical fallacy? The thing about the fallacy is it only applies to the pronouncements of those who act as if, and believe, that people should accept what they say based purely on their social status - their importance. You are too knowledgeable Tony not to see the fallacy of applying that to the pronouncements of scientists when they are "speaking science" (which obviously they don't always do).

Science, and those who speak it, are expressing ideas tested and refined against ultimate reality which very few, if any, other people do. There is the way that the universe works and there is the way that people think the universe is and, in most cases, there is a gigantic gulf between the two.

When we were 1 billion strong, we had little need for the majority of the voting public to know how things really worked. Fairy stories and myths sufficed as a world view.

Now we have seven billion people and we are using the world up faster than it is replenishing itself. We cannot afford people believing simplistic politically/ideologically motivated garbage any more. It's dangerously irresponsible of them.

Oh, BTW. I agree with you on your point about his presentation of GM food science...

Nick Palmer said...

Anon 1 a) why wasn't the data available in the public domain?

Why did you write that? In case you didn't notice in your rush to spout denialist garbage, I previously wrote:

"The whole stunt was not a brave quest to ascertain secret information because the vast majority of the data originated from third parties - if the quest was a genuine effort for McIntyre to get data to work with, he would have found it far easier to get it directly from the meteorological services of the hundreds of countries concerned."

The raw data WAS available - freely available - still is from the 100s of meteorological organisations world wide who originally measured it. If you wanted to check world figures for population in the 60s and the original data waslsisng no longer held by the university whose recent papers you were reading are you truly incapable of realising that information would still be available from the census bureaus of the gloabl countries concerned?

Now do you begin to understand anon how your beliefs have been manipulated? Virtually the whole of the "sceptic"/denier case falls apart when examined closely, yet too many useful idiots keep on parroting the propaganda. They seem incapable of realising that they are gambling with the future of civilisation.

You also quote a journalist in the Times as saying:

"SCIENTISTS at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based. It means that other academics are not able to check basic calculations..."

Total and utter crap. You have misrepresented the article your quote came from which was a pretty inaccurate piece by Leake anyway. This the cherry picking which extreme sceptics or denialists (it means in denial of reality with a basic inability to comprehend where one goes wrong, like an alcoholic or drug addict who think they have no problem).

Here's some of what you left out:

"the data were gathered from weather stations around the world and then adjusted to take account of variables in the way they were collected. The revised figures were kept, but the originals — stored on paper and magnetic tape — were dumped to save space when the CRU moved to a new building."


"Jones was not in charge of the CRU when the data were thrown away in the 1980s, a time when climate change was seen as a less pressing issue"

Nick Palmer said...

Anon 2 wrote:
there is not one bit of evidence to support CO2 as a major driver of tempreture- not one

This shows astonishing ignorance. Try reading the science instead of disinformation websites jam packed with flat out lies and deceit.

"the U.S. gov. alone has poured over $80 Billion into trying to prove man made CO2 caused global warming in the past 20 years

The basic science that proved CO2 is a greenhouse gas and that increasing it will warm the planet has been known for over a hundred years. That our emissions have been a major cause of the increase since pre-industrial age levels has been known for decades. If you heard differently you have been lied to or you have listened to fools.


"I tend to side with physicists and mathemicians (lindzen,singer,spencer et al)"

Oh really? Well you must know that atmospheric physicist Lindzen is frequently on the record as saying that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, that CO2 has increased due to manmade emissions, that the planet has warmed because of the increased CO2 and that it will continue to warm because of them. He is also on record (multiple times) as stating that there really is a scientific consensus on the issue, which he does not fundamentally disagree with. Check it out if you don't believe me. here is one of his presentations - a pdf file". Look at page 3.

The only real difference that Lindzen has with the vast majority of practicising climate scientists is in his belief as to what the climate sensitivity figure is (the equilibrium temperature that the earth will rise to for each doubling of CO2). He thinks the eventual rise won't be dangerous. He thinks this because he believes that the sensitivity is very much lower than just about everybody else - largely due to his own work.

Even he is now admitting (on Wattsupwithat!!! - oh the irony!) that his recent paper Lindzen and Choi 2009, which initially had the credulous denialosphere in a tizzy of excitement, was wrong. Lindzen is a dinosaur who doesn't seem able to change his position (which he has held almost unchanged for decades) despite the evidence piling up that he is flat out wrong.

Without the use of a time machine it is impractical to definitively establish the climate sensitivity so it has to be estimated using multiple reinforcing strands of evidence from such disciplines as dendro-chronology and paleo-climatalogy in neither of which are Lindzen or Spencer experts.

Nick Palmer said...

sorry, Lindzen's basic comments go onto pages 4 and 5 too

TonyTheProf said...

The GM food was the really bigger trouble with Nurse's case. If he presents such a flawed presentation of the public distrust of GM food, is it any wonder the public thinks they are also being hoodwinked over global warming?

The "argument from authority" was not that I thought Nurse was saying that explicitly, but that there was an implicit tone to his presentation - I am a nobel prize winner, listen to me - etc which quite frankly put my son off from the start. As you know, Nick, science is not dependent on the status of the person making pronouncements, yet Nurse seemed to be implying that.

I'll be blogging further on this next week, but I think this badly needs a philosophy perspective rather than just a science one.

For now, the public is well aware (because no doubt of the effective arguments of the denialists) that "maverick work that is not taken seriously by the mainstream" has on a number of occasions turned out to be right, and the scientific orthodoxy wrong.

I'm not saying that is true with global warming - that the scientists are wrong - simply that kind of argument just doesn't hold up. One can adduce many examples, but one of the most notable is continental drift, now orthodox science, then the realm of a few mavericks.

"Science, and those who speak it, are expressing ideas tested and refined against ultimate reality which very few, if any, other people do"

Well Paul Nurse wasn't doing that with GM food! The trouble is that science is practiced by human beings, and it is nowhere near the nice pure image that you - and Karl Popper - give us.

How we test something against reality is of course restricted by our own knowledge; Lord Kelvin, in calculating the age of the earth, had no knowledge of radio-activity. All we can say is "the best science we have at our disposal", and there may be unexplained phenomena that future science can explain.

Anonymous said...

have I missed something?

yes, CO2 is a greenhouse gas,albeit a minor one compared to water vapour

and yes the worlds fossil fuel reserves are finite, I have never argued they were not

none of this has anything to do with the effect of increased CO2
on earths temperature

perhaps someone could point to evidence that increased CO2 has a large effect on the temp.

the current warming Milankovic cycle is comming to an end, this coupled with the weak sun cycle 24 will show how other natural forcings easily overwhelm the slight CO2 forcing

consensus is not science - it's politics

choosing to believe a theory based on ideology is dogma

nick said "They seem incapable of realising that they are gambling with the future of civilisation."

all things being equal (which they are not)the best estimates of a doubling of atmospheric CO2 is a 1 degree C increase in temperature

anyone who thinks this would be dangerous to our future is living in lala land

it is exactly this disjointed thinking and emotive language that characterise alarmist propaganda

TonyTheProf said...

David Brin had an interesting article when he distinguished between (a) climate change skeptics and (b)climate change deniers.

Not every person who expresses doubt toward some part of this complex issue is wedded to shrill, Fox News anti-intellectualism. Nor do they all parrot nonsense, e.g., that winter snowstorms refute general atmospheric warming. You are likely to know individuals who claim to be rational, open-minded "AGW-skeptics."

So here is the problem: What discrete characteristics distinguish a rational, pro-science "climate skeptic" who has honest questions about the AGW consensus from members of a Denier Movement that portrays all members of a scientific community as either fools or conspirators?

He then enumerates various characteristics of the skeptic versus the denier, and in conclusion his picture of the sceptic is as follows:

I suggest that the sincere and enlightened climate skeptic say something along these lines:

Okay, I'll admit we need more efficiency and sustainability in order to regain energy independence, improve productivity, erase the huge leverage of hostile foreign petro-powers, reduce pollution, secure our defense, prevent ocean acidification, and ease a vampiric drain on our economy. IfI don't like one proposed way to achieve this, then I will negotiate in good faith other methods that can help us to achieve all these things, decisively, without further delay and with urgent speed.

Moreover, I accept that "wastenot, want not" and "a penny saved is a-penny earned" and "cleanliness-isnext-to-godliness" and "genuine market competition" used to be good conservative attitudes. But the "side" that has been pushing the Denier movement hasn't any credibility on the issue of weaning America off wasteful habits. In fact, it's not conservatism at all!

And so, for those reasons alone, let's join together to make a big and genuine push for efficiency.

Oh, and by the way, I don't believe in Human-caused Global Climate Change! But if I am wrong, these measures would help deal with that too.

So there, are you happy, you blue-smartypants-eco-science types? Are you satisfied now that I ama sincere Climate Skeptic and not one of the drivel-parroting Deniers?

Now can some of your atmospheric scientists put on an extended teach-in and answer some inconvenient questions

Anonymous said...

it's funny how the AGW hypothesis has morphed into climate change

i know of no climate change sceptics,
the climate always changes,
in fact change is one of the universal truths-everything changes

I am a (catastrophic)AGW sceptic

when talking about climate the word denier is a weasel word of alarmist propaganda

no ammount of BS qualification alters this

ask yourself,
what other field of science calls sceptics deniers?

Nick Palmer said...

For now, the public is well aware (because no doubt of the effective arguments of the denialists) that "maverick work that is not taken seriously by the mainstream" has on a number of occasions turned out to be right, and the scientific orthodoxy wrong.

What they don't emphasise (more cherrypicking) is that for every maverick Galileo, Barry James Marshall (stomach ulcer bacteria) or plate tectonics guy there are huge numbers of eccentrics whose theories are rubbish. We are not, in any case, talking about a lone maverick overturning a medical convention (ulcers are caused by stress) or a geological convention hardly susceptible to experimental verification.

We are talking about people whose stance denies extremely basic physics massively verified by experiment over a period of longer than a hundred years combined with the knowledge from multiple reinforcing strands of evidence that our planet has responded to much smaller natural forcings than we are currently applying - such as the Milankovitch cycles that one of your anon commenters mentioned that take us into and out of ice ages - with climate changes that would be extremely hazardous to our current civilisation. Remember Bugs and Daffy Looney Tunes cartoons? "They said Galileo was crazy! They said Einstein was crazy! They said my Uncle Herbie was crazy!" "Who was your Uncle Herbie?" "Oh, nobody, he really was crazy."

Their denial is a denial of the basic reality that if you either put more radiant energy into something or reduce the radiant energy leaving it, then it will heat up to a new equilibrium temperature. That is as fundamentally obvious as getting blisters if you put your hand in boiling water or your warming up if you put a jacket on on a cold day. The overwhelming majority of popular "scepticism" is that blindingly obviously wrong. Most maverick types can't show different - they just demonstrate their stupidity or incompetence with their wacky hand waving aided and abetted by crafted poisonous propaganda. That doesn't mean that massive hordes of comprehension challenged deniers don't hang on their every word though!

see part 2

Nick Palmer said...

Part 2
As I have mentioned before, the ONLY sceptics really worth listening to are those who quote real climate scientists like Lindzen, Spencer and Christy; however, none of those dispute the basic physics. They only query whether the warming will be as bad as forecast. As I also referred to before, they are not experts in the field of science (paleo-climatology) that shows how our planet responded to external forcings in the past - which is a significant part of how the actual sensitivity figure is estimated.

Lindzen, Spencer and Christy are all atmospheric physicists. Spencer and Christy's flawed work with the satellite measurements at University of Alabama was originally responsible for a powerful denialist meme which still surfaces today - that the land surface measurements may show warming but the satellite record shows cooling. Singer was an enthusiastic and leading proponent of this completely wrong idea.

This concept was responsible for the rise of the execrable Wattsupwiththat disinformation website. Their modus operandi was to try and attribute the majority of the observed warming to the so-called urban heat island effect (UHI). They had teams of volunteers photographing weather stations which had tarmac, air conditioning outlets, car parks etc near them. While that nest of deniers was busy, Spencer and Christy discovered their errors and, surprise, found that their own figures now showed that the satellite record showed virtually the same warming as the land based record. As everybody else expected.

To be a Galileo you not only have to be persecuted for your contrary views, most importantly you have to be right. Climate science Uncle Herbie mavericks beyond those rather flawed examples I mentioned are just wrong.

TonyTheProf said...

"denialist meme"

Are we introducing imaginary pseudoreligious entities then?!!!

Anonymous said...

so the milankovitch cycles which take into and out of ice ages is a much smaller natural forcing than co2

what absolute tosh

TonyTheProf said...

Chris Evans on BBC Radio - just shows where our priorities are in studying climate change. I think he is spot on!

"What was fascinating by the way, is that NASA spend £2m a year with their satellites looking back down to the Earth, so they send things off to space to try and ensure the future safety of Earth, because all these things back in space looking back down to Earth. But they spend £2m a year studying Global Warming, which I don’t think is that much. It’s so crucial – if you think: Wayne Rooney earns £5m a year. Right, the world spends a third of his wages a year on studying whether or not we’re frying ourselves."

Nick Palmer said...

Anonymous wrote

"have I missed something?"

Dunno. What you are missing, and no doubt will not address, is the importance of the credibility of your sources. What your comment presents is a very mild form of the rhetorical "Gish Gallop" that I referred to before. Unfortunately, the Gish Gallop can be effective to sway the gullible because it takes far longer to answer each throwaway incorrect assertion than it takes to make them.

yes, CO2 is a greenhouse gas,albeit a minor one compared to water vapour

This is one of the classic simplistic (yet very deceptive) denialist assertions. While the words alone are sort of true the commenter's clear meaning is not. The following rebuttal unfortunately has to be very simplified. Briefly, water vapour is only called a major greenhouse gas because there is such a lot of it around at low altitudes. Molecule for molecule it is actually a weaker greenhouse gas than CO2. The very rough, and extremely simplified, proportions of the effect are as follows.

In places where there is a lot of water vapour, the H2O is about 70% of the whole effect and CO2 is about 10%. In areas where there is less water vapour, such as the polar regions (which are warming up very fast), the proportions are about 36% water vapour, 25% CO2. In areas where there is effectively no water vapour, like the 100 miles above the tropopause, CO2 is by far the "biggest" greenhouse gas, the rest being methane and ozone.

The most deceptive aspect of the commenter's meaning is that although, at low altitude, the greenhouse effect of water vapour dominates CO2, water vapour cannot be a "forcing" as CO2 is. If we put a lot of water vapour in the atmosphere by some means it would just rain back down again in a few days. The way to permanently increase the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere is to warm the planet up. A warmer atmosphere decreases the relative humidity thus allowing more water vapour to form. Water vapour thus acts as a powerful feedback to warming, which brings me on to the next point of anon.

all things being equal (which they are not)the best estimates of a doubling of atmospheric CO2 is a 1 degree C increase in temperature

See part 2

Anonymous said...

chris evans was talking about the horizon programme, he misheard the ammount nasa spends on climate change research

clearly at 7-16 into the film Nurse says nasa spends $2billion a year

the 2011 budget figures for ccr accross all federal agencies
are released by the american association for the advancement of science report

go to www.aaas.org/spp/rd/rdreport2011/

then go to chapter 15

over $2.4 billion for federal agencies alone, that does not include individual states or corporate spending

worldwide the total for 2011 will exceed $15 billion

I agree sportspeople,entertainers,city fat cats and the like are grossly overpaid

but lets not kid ourselves as to the vast ammounts being spent on climate change research, a field in which, some claim, the science is settled

a genuine mistake by evans or more bbc agw propaganda?

Nick Palmer said...

Part 2
Yet again, extraordinarily misleading. How do you so effortlessly get hold of the wrong end of the stick, anon? Firstly, the "best estimates" you mention are ONLY referring to the increase solely due to the CO2 for one doubling (from 280 to 560 ppm). As it is +1 C degree for each doubling, if we don't change the path we are on, we are on course to double CO2 again (to 1000 ppm) by 2100, which would be +2C degrees.

One degree would PROBABLY not be dangerous, but two degrees would have widespread bad effects. What anon left out is the feedbacks which are, initially, water vapour due to the aforementioned mechanism. The best science, agreed by almost all climate scientists, estimates the water vapour feedback approximately triples the equilibrium temperature one ends up with. Hansen and a few others such as Lovelock think the feedbacks multiply the effect about 6 times. Three degrees when we reach 560 ppm would definitely be very disruptive. Six degrees would be end-of-civilisation catastrophic.

If we follow business as usual and end up at 1000 ppm in 90 years, the moderate sensitivity figure means we would get the catastrophic six degrees. The high sensitivity figure means adieu.

the current warming Milankovic cycle is comming to an end, this coupled with the weak sun cycle 24 will show how other natural forcings easily overwhelm the slight CO2 forcing

This is just gibberish. The current Milankovitch cycle (these orbital cycles control the arrival of ice ages) is a cooling one. Long term, (10,000-50,000 years) we are heading towards a potential ice age although that theory is not rock solid. The fact that we are warming when the natural cycles say we should be in a cooling trend should be worrying. If the sun is currently weak and due to increase again that will be be like throwing petrol onto the global warming fire. We will truly be in deep doo-dah very quickly.

perhaps someone could point to evidence that increased CO2 has a large effect on the temp.

More misdirection. See basic feedbacks mentioned above. Incidentally an extremely dangerous potential feedback is that from sequestered methane which IS a forcing gas. This is not in the sensitivity figure the IPCC use because the melting of permafrost and the release of undersea methane was not thought to be an issue until the end of the century, on a business-as-usual ever upwards fossil fuel emissions curve.

Permafrost is unfortunately already melting and undersea methane is already being released 70 years ahead of the 2007 IPCC predictions, which have already proved to be far too complacent. Be very scared.

choosing to believe a theory based on ideology is dogma

Laughably wrong. Choosing to disbelieve the risks projected from 150 year old measured, tested and well established science, endorsed by every major scientific organisation in the world is perverse, to be extremely polite. Risking everybody's future and major ecosystem extinction events caused by something we would likely not be able to reverse for thousands of years is what? *&*^%^* insane? That's probably not strong enough.

I hope you never get elected, anon...

Nick Palmer said...

Your anon, comment #11 wrote:

"i'm sorry but, the U.S. gov. alone has poured over $80 Billion into trying to prove man made CO2 caused global warming in the past 20 years"

That's $4 billion dollars a year. Or about 50 cents per year per global inhabitant. The majority is NOT solely to prove the theory but is accounted for by energy research etc.

The actual up to date US figure for, broadly speaking, climate change research AND SOLUTIONS is $2.6 billion. Even the barking anti-global warming Fox news confirms this. They also say

"It ($2.6 billion NP) will bring funding to a level higher than under any administration dating back to 1989 -- when global warming first attracted federal budget funds."

So the current - highest ever - figure over the last twenty years budgets is $2.6 billion and the maximum is still nowhere near your AVERAGE figure for the last 20 years! You seriously need to check out the credibility of your sources because they are just feeding you lies and B.S.

So, in short, anon, your figures are just rubbish and your inferences are simply wrong.

This link shows a little of what the government are ACTUALLY doing with the money which is vastly more than the denialist misinformation suggests.

To get things in proportion. In the US, total combined budgets for DOE, NSF, and NOAA come to about $16 billion - out of a government budget of $3,518 billion. Federal spending on medical research, by contrast, has nearly quadrupled, to $28 billion annually, since 1979. Military research has increased 260 percent, and at more than $75 billion a year is 20 times the amount spent on energy research.

Nick Palmer said...

Anon wrote: so the milankovitch cycles which take into and out of ice ages is a much smaller natural forcing than co2
what absolute tosh

This comment comes from yet another who simply does not realise how gross their errors are. The answer is yes. Milankovitch cycle forcing is much, much smaller than the forcing from CO2 we have applied and are still applying. If you don't know that, how do you have the nerve to comment on this subject?

It really bothers me that there are so many people out there who, with total confidence, make ridiculous statements like "absolute tosh". You are wrong. Wherever you picked up this bit of garbage is ignorant or lying to you. In fact, could you please post your source so I can put it online on a rogues gallery of denialist junkspeak?

Anonymous said...

CO2 - the numbers

the atmospheres of venus and mars
contain 97% and 93% CO2 respectively

earths atmospheric CO2 content is 0.039% (or 390 parts per million)

mans burning of fossil fuels adds
7 gigatons (7 billion tons) of CO2 per year

insect respiration adds 48 gigatons p.y.
(look it up)

total natural sources of CO2 add 750 gigatons p.y.

CO2 that enters the atmosphere does not stay there,it is recycled by plants and oceans(lakes etc.)
the ammount of recycling is determined by biomass and the temperature of the water

A. CO2 levels fall in summer and rise in winter

throughout all of geological time
CO2 levels have only once before been as low as today (245mya)

the ice age of the late ordovician period (450mya) had CO2 levels nearly 12 times higher than now at 4400 ppm

finally a couple of quotes:-

"We have to offer up scary scenarios,make simplified,dramatic statements, and make little mention
of any doubts we may have.Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest."
Dr.Stephen Schneider R.I.P.
global warming proponent
(interview in discover magazine oct. 1989)

"In the long run,the replacement of the precise and disciplined language of science by the misleading language of litigation and advocacy may be one of the more important sources of damage to society incurred in the current debate over global warming."
Dr.Richard Lindzen (M.I.T.)-

Anonymous said...

forgot to add

the total mass of earths atmosphere is 5 quadrillion tons
thats 5 followed by 16 zeros

Nick Palmer said...

More massive and highly misleading cherry picking from anon. Too late to do much until tomorrow apart from pointing out that the 7GT figure is wrong. You, or your silly but dangerous sources, made the common mistake of confusing Gigatonnes of carbon with Gt of carbon dioxide.

Rest assured, innocent bystanders, that this Machiavellian rubbish will be shot down!

Anonymous said...

Graham Stringer MP (lab) was the only member of the House of Commons science and technology select committee (looking into the CRU e-mails affair) that had any scientific qualifications, he has a phd in chemistry and worked as an analytical chemist before entering parliment.
Below is his proposed ammendment to the SciTech report which was voted down by S.Mosley,S.Metcalf (both cons MPs) and G.McClymont (lab)

Particular notice should be taken of the first sentence

"There are proposals to increase worldwide taxation by upto a trillion dollars on the basis of climate science predictions. This is an area where strong and opposing views are held. The release of the emails from CRU at the University of East Anglia and the accusations that followed demanded independent and objective scrutiny by independent panels.
This has not happened. The composition of the two panels has been criticised for having members who were over identified with the views of CRU.Lord Oxburgh as president of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association and Chairman of Falk Renewables appears to have a conflict of interest.Lord Oxburgh himself was aware that this might lead to criticism. Similarly Professor Boulton as an ex colleague of CRU
seemed wholly inappropriate to be a member of the Russell panel.No reputable scientist who was critical of CRU's work was on the panel,and prominent and distinguished critics were not interviewed. The Oxburgh panel did not do as our predecessor committee had been promised,investigate the science,but only looked at the integrity of the researchers.With the exception of Professors Kelly's notes other notes taken by members of the panel have not been published,this leaves a question mark against whether CRU science is reliable. The Oxburgh panel also did not look at CRU's controversial work on the IPPC which is what has attracted most (serious) allegations.
Russell did not investigate the deletion of e-mails.
we are now left after three investigations without a clear understanding of whether or not the CRU science is compromised."

the above can be found in the formal minutes that appear at the end of the SciTech report.

Anonymous said...

Nick said
"too late to do much until tomorrow
apart from pointing out the 7GT figure is wrong.You,or your silly but dangerous sources,made a common mistake of confusing Gigatonnes of carbon with Gt of carbon dioxide."

no,i said CO2 and meant CO2

one source is that 'silly but dangerous' Dr. Bob Bindschandler from NASA GISS, see horizon-science under attack at 16m22s
this figure is agreed on by most sources both pro and anti AGW (but,hey,they could all be wrong)

in reading you comments Nick,I find most of your arguements are either appeals to authority, ad hominems or logical fallacies, none of which are science

alarmist AGW ideologues bestow CO2 with metaphysical properties unknown to chemistry or physics,
they then use this to claim mans 60ppm addition to A. CO2 (through combustion) to be a greater forcing agent than:- clouds,water vapour,planetary orbit-wobble &tilt,solar influences ie. irradiance,solar wind, sun spots,magnetic effects and coronal ejections, ocean oscillations,cosmic rays and a host of other variables

the strength of any scientific theory lies in its predictive abilities,from this alone AGW theory is crumbling faster than the walls of Jericho.Unfortunately because powerful and influencial people stand to lose money and the all pervading alarmist propaganda in the MSM,it will be some time before AGW theory is consigned to the scrapyard of junk science, along with phrenology,eugenics,alchemy,astrology and other pseudoscience.

"the urge to save humanity is always a false front for the urge to rule it."

Nicholas said...

Oh BTW, Tony didn't post a reply I made to some earlier rubbish posted by an anon, probably because I showed exactly how much respect I have for deniers of reality whose ideology based beliefs, if they fool too many, will threaten the rest of us big time. Clue: not very much.

Many deniers disingenuously call themselves sceptics but they are nothing of the kind. They pathologically doubt anything that supports the well established and measured physics of greenhouse gases and climate science but credulously believe almost anything, no matter how eccentric, illogical or just plain wrong that appears, to the inadequately knowledgeable, to attack it. That is not scepticsm, that is blind prejudice.

I mentioned, at the beginning, that there are at least 140 denialist crafted simplistic, yet oddly plausible, false arguments.
A measure of the comprehension of too many deniers is that a fair number of these arguments are mutually grossly incompatible. Having one's cake and eating it. Laughably, two of the denialist movements biggest "stars"
"Lord" Christopher Monckton and Professor Ian Plimer, who toured Australia together last year, presented (on the same stage, on the same night!!) totally incompatible arguments. The point is the audience cheered both despite the logical certainty that one or the other (probably both) was talking through their hat (polite enough for you, Tony?).

Finally, seeing as you tried to smear a dead person (Steven Schneider) with your deceitfully edited and cherry picked quote I have to correct you yet again. I'm not accusing you of deceit but I certainly do so accuse the originators of the black propaganda. Read "The Merchants of Doubt" by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway which lays bare the dark heart of the denialist propganda machine. Here is the actual original quote before it got hacked and twisted by denialist ideologues. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

"On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but – which means that we must include all doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climate change. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, means getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This “double ethical bind” we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both."

TonyTheProf said...

I haven't posted on this for a while because I'm working on a new post, probably to be entitled "Paradigm Wars", next week, on the subject.

Anonymous said...

Nurse told us of his qualifications in genetics and biology,his shared Nobel prize and his pride at becoming president of the Royal Society.

what he forgot to mention was that he gained his PhD at the University of East Anglia

so we have an 'ourchap' t.v. show
backing up 'ourchap' inquiries into CRU