Changing Minds

Adam Ozemik:

Think about beliefs that you hold and imagine yourself changing your mind. Literally imagine waking up tomorrow with a changed mind and imagine how you would or wouldn’t discuss changing your mind with people you know. Feelings will be strong for beliefs that are important to our identities or that we value for some signaling purpose, like signaling affiliation with some group. Can you actually imagine yourself with these changed beliefs, or is it unthinkable?

I, for one, simply can’t imagine what this might be like.

Consider this an open thread.

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165 thoughts on “Changing Minds

  1. I can’t say I have ever gone to sleep with one belief and woken up with its opposite. Does that happen? Seems like we reserve the word ‘revelation’ for things like that, which I have not ever had.

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  2. The phrase “belief” here seems to refer to matters that are inherently unprovable one way or the other, like religion or morality. Matters of aesthetic taste or shorthand summaries of complex and ambiguous factual propositions (e.g., “I believe low taxes produce economic growth”,) are modest matters in which one’s ego and identity are not invested.

    It would be easy to talk about changing one’s mind about whether olives taste good or bad. Nor would it be difficult for most people to admit they were factually wrong about something, as in “I believe stress causes ulcers; no wait, new data shows that bacterial infections do and stress has nothing to do with it.”

    Harder would be admitting adoption of an unpopular belief. In some social environments, having a religious conversion experience is a matter of enthusiasm, joy, and pleasure. But in that same environment, converting to the wrong religion would generate disapproval and be a matter about which one would likely seek to be discreet.

    Beliefs about things of moral importance are very difficult for me to imagine changing. I can’t imagine changing my opinions about, say, slavery or rape, or what kind of experience would make me change my mind. Those things feel like they are inherently and inextricably a part of me, the way hunger and vision and cognition are a part of me. Granted, people have held different opinions and beliefs about those things historically, but those beliefs are so firmly embedded in my identity (or at least my perception of my own identity) that I would suffer a collapse of ego were they to be objectively disproved.

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      • I agree w/JB as well. My first answer was along the lines of that the thoughtful [or philosophical-type] person is constantly reevaluating his worldview with each new idea or fact[oid] he encounters.

        So JB’s process, waking up not be certain of X would or could be a step towards Y, if they’re diametric opposites.

        But certainly there are epiphanies, whether it’s on the road to Damascus or Buckminster Fuller contemplating suicide at the edge of Lake Michigan, age 32 [sort of an existentialist-modernist acceptance of Pascal’s Wager, I make it]:

        http://www.bfi.org/about-bucky/biography/guinea-pig-b

        Guinea Pig B

        I happen to have been born at the special moment in history in which for the first time there exists enough experience-won and experiment verified information current in humanitys spontaneous conceptioning and reasoning for all humanity to carry on in a far more intelligent way than ever before.

        I am not being messianically motivated in undertaking this experiment, nor do I think I am someone very special and different from other humans. The design of all humans, like all else in Universe, transcends human comprehension of how come their mysterious, a priori, complexedly designed existence.

        I am doing what I am doing only because at this critical moment I happen to be a human being who, by virtue of a vast number of errors and recognitions of such, has discovered that he would always be a failure as judged by societys ages-long conditioned reflexings and therefore a disgrace to those related to him (me) in the misassuredly eternally-to-exist not-enough-for-all, comprehensive, economic struggle of humanity to attain only special, selfish, personal, family, corporate, or national advantage-gaining, wherefore I had decided to commit suicide. I also thereby qualified as a throwaway individual who had acquired enough knowledge regarding relevantly essential human evolution matters to be able to think in this particular kind of way. In committing suicide I seemingly would never again have to feel the pain and mortification of my failures and errors, but the only-by-experience-winnable inventory of knowledge that I had accrued would also be forever lostan inventory of information that, if I did not commit suicide, might prove to be of critical advantage to others, possibly to all others, possibly to Universe. The realization that such a concept could have even a one-in-an-illion chance of being true was a powerful reconsideration provoker and ultimate grand-strategy reorienter.

        The thought then came that my impulse to commit suicide was a consequence of my being expressly overconcerned with me and my pains, and that doing so would mean that I would be making the supremely selfish mistake of possibly losing forever some evolutionary information link essential to the ultimately realization of the as-yet-to-be-known human function in Universe. I then realized that I could commit an exclusively ego suicidea personal-ego throwawayif to the voice of wants only of me but instead commit my physical organism and nervous system to enduring whatever pain might lie ahead while possibly thereby coming to mentally comprehend how a me-less individual might redress the humiliations, expenses, and financial losses I had selfishly and carelessly imposed on all the in-any-way-involved others, while keeping actively alive in toto only the possibly-of-essential-use-for-others inventory of my experience. I saw that there was a true possibility that I could do just that if I remained alive and committed my self to a never-again-for-self-use employment of my omni-experience-gained inventory of knowledge. My thinking began to clear.

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        • Though my own handle is derived from Blaise Pascal, I think Pascal’s Wager was the dumbest thing he ever wrote down.

          Blaise Pascal was converted, not on some prudential bet on the existence of God and Hell and the rest of it, but by the kindness of a family of Jansenists. More than any other man alive at his time, Pascal understood the rank hypocrisy and begged questions in the arguments of the clerics. Nobody can reason his way to God.

          At one point in my life, when things were very dark (burns and shrapnel), I contemplated suicide. My best friend (and atheist) said at the time something to this effect. probably quoting Sartre: contemplating suicide is an assertion of human will in the face of absurdity. It’s almost a comfort, like a parachute cord you can pull if you need to, but the survival instinct is just as much an assertion of human will. Made more sense than the weak tea nostrums and homilies the chaplain was serving up at the time.

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          • Blaise, as I’m sure you’re aware, there’s little evidence that Pascal’s wager is as a proof of God’s existence, or as a conversion tool even (at least not from atheism to theism), and it has naught of hell in it. It’s not really even an argument, since it’s a fragment of a note of what, we can assume, was to be an argument (in dialogue form, probably). It’s not even the fragment of one argument; it’s the fragment of three.

            What it points to, at least, is an argument for the reasonableness, from the perspective of Natural Reason, of faith in God, and for the notion that rejection of faith as irrational is not, thereby, a product of Reason but of feelings, emotion, whatever (we’d probably call it bias, these days).

            I fail to see how it’s a dumb thing, much less the dumbest thing that he wrote. Even in its fragmentary form, it’s really quite powerful.

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            • Proof of God is hardly the point, Chris. Pascal put his foot down on the Wager, as he never did with any other point he made.

              And don’t embarrass yourself. Pascal definitely believed in Hell: Entre nous, et l’enfer ou le ciel, il n’y a que la vie entre deux, qui est la chose du monde la plus fragile.

              Pascal’s Wager fails at many levels. Belief in God, well, which version of God? Surely Pascal’s fervent Catholicism would give some insight into which God he meant. This idea that the Pensées is some fragmentary thing is entirely overdone: they were the working notes for a full-blown book on Christian apologetics.

              What it points to, at least, is an argument for the reasonableness, from the perspective of Natural Reason, of faith in God, and for the notion that rejection of faith as irrational is not, thereby, a product of Reason but of feelings, emotion, whatever (we’d probably call it bias, these days).

              You have not read the actual Wager itself: If there is a God, He is infinitely incomprehensible, since, having neither parts nor limits, He has no affinity to us. We are then incapable of knowing either what He is or if He is. This being so, who will dare to undertake the decision of the question? Not we, who have no affinity to Him.

              Who then will blame Christians for not being able to give a reason for their belief, since they profess a religion for which they cannot give a reason? They declare, in expounding it to the world, that it is a foolishness, I Cor. 1. 21. [“For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”]; and then you complain that they do not prove it! If they proved it, they would not keep their word; it is in lacking proofs that they are not lacking in sense. “Yes, but although this excuses those who offer it as such and takes away from them the blame of putting it forward without reason, it does not excuse those who receive it.” Let us then examine this point, and say, “God is, or He is not.” But to which side shall we incline? Reason can decide nothing here.

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              • “Reason can decide nothing here.”
                Really?
                “The philosophers’ noetic search for understanding of the Whole is structured by faith in the divinity and intelligibility of the actualizing Beyond that attracts them to goodness, beauty, and truth through inclination.”
                Just sayin’.

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                • OK, that was dismissive, for which I apologize. I recommend reading the full text of the wager passages <a href="http://www.reformed.org/master/index.html?mainframe=/apologetics/classical/pascals_wager.html&quot;here. What you’ll find is a discussion that is, from the outset, taking place “according to natural light,” which is to say, Reason, or Natural Reason, or the Natural point of view. The wager takes you, the nonbeliever (and I don’t mean you specifically, Blaise — and this is getting strange now, calling you Blaise), through a few versions, ultimately to get you (the nonbeliever) to the realization that it is not reason that keeps you from believing, but “the passions” (“But to show you that this leads you there, it is this which will lessen the passions, which are your stumbling-blocks”). The whole point is that it is reasonable to have faith, even if that faith is in the existence of something the nature of which one cannot know. For Pascal, faith is precisely the means of knowing the existence of that the nature of which is unknowable. That’s where the passage you quote comes in.

                  Anyway, despite the fact that I am a nonbeliever, I find Pascal’s version of the wager to be a powerful outline of an argument: it says, in essence, that if all that is blocking your way to faith is the misguided belief that faith is irrational – a misguided belief that has dominated popular atheism for the last few years, it must be noted – then this perspective, the one in the wager, gives a fairly strong counter. Granted, it doesn’t stand alone, but there’s no reason to believe Pascal meant for it to, since a.) it’s not an argument for the existence of God, b.) it is part of a larger apologetics of faith in his fragments, and c.) it’s only aimed at someone who is, in essence, an agnostic. It has no real force for an atheist. If you take it for what it is, it is anything but stupid, which is why it’s not surprising that it was carried on by people like Arnauld or Locke, who weren’t exactly idiots (even if Arnauld and Locke’s versions are a bit more facile, and much less weighty).

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                  • Very well put, an entirely “reasonable” apologetic for your point. At which point, I should probably apologize and retract my assertion. Reasonable in the context you have further elucidated can be parsed away from Reason per se. It does no good to maintain an awkward and obtuse point on my part.

                    Blaise Pascal embarrasses me, as much as I admire him. His genius is indisputable, his terror is understandable, ultimately pitiable. The Wager, for all its flaws, forms the basis of much of my career in machine intelligence: it is the first decision tree we have on record. I despise the Wager: it is no proof of God, no convincing evidence for belief, a point you have made yourself. It is merely a matrix of begged questions and simplistic assertions. No “reasonable” man can be dragged willy-nilly to belief in God: this was also the greatest embarrassment in C.S. Lewis’ apologetics and to a very large extent the negatory arguments of Chesterton, that casuistic bully.

                    In my opinion, you are rather closer to God than you suppose. By categorically rejecting all the Received Wisdom of the ages, third-hand castoffs from manifestly stupid and hypocritical persons, the soi-disant atheist is the most-prepared of all sentient human beings to be enlightened by a God of Truth, who, like you, is capable of love. Even if God does not exist in any form we might imagine, the power of love governs your soul as surely as mine, and I shall follow that path all the days of my life. No other struggle is worth the cost and effort.

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                    • Meant to write Buckminster Fuller’s was a humanistic equivalent of accepting Pascal’s Wager: humanistic, historicist, modernist, existentialist, etc. Thought it an interesting proposition.

                      Still, the mention of P’s W triggered a very interesting discussion, and props to my reliable foil Chris for solidly defending it on formal grounds, and to namesake BlaiseP for allowing the validity of Chris’ argument.

                      We proceed on hypotheses or “working theories” all the time, provisionally, else we are inert. God is derived/hypothesized by the Completion Backwards method as the best available explanation for why we are here, hell having nothing to do with it.

                      Me, I’m with Lincoln admitting that “all men created equal” is merely a proposition; man [and men] offer precious little evidence for that proposition, yet still, per humanism or religion—I dunno which—I shall continue to proceed as though it’s gospel truth.

                      [Hmmm, nice rounding of the circle, I think. Didn’t quite have it in mind when I started typing this reply. Good discussions inspire, und so, props and thanks to all involved.]

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                    • Here is one instance of from a long-considered enumeration of my personal objections to the Wager: it begins with one of Christ’s parables in Matthew 21

                      “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

                      “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

                      “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

                      “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

                      “The first,” they answered.

                      Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.

                      Mere belief in God combined with his existence does not necessarily imply the payoff from the Happy Square. Consider all the monsters who have done great evil, wrapped all the while in the banner of Jesus Christ, or the credulous folks who repeat the Credo but whose lives remain unchanged for having repeated the words, week after week.

                      Conversely, what shall we say of those atheists who do the will of God on this earth, living humbly, forgiving others, bringing mercy and decency and benevolence and the milk of human kindness to their fellow beings, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, knowing these things are obligatory upon all enlightened souls? There are rather more of them than the monsters who have done evil in the name of atheism. If the atheist does not believe in God, he has only rejected religious doctrine. This is the son who said “I will not.”

                      The honest atheist stands with the faithful in having come to a conclusion: while the weak-kneed agnostic doubters hem and haw and swirl their cloaks like Hamlet, the faithful say belief in God is predicated on faith and the atheist says God doesn’t exist because there’s no evidence. Where, exactly, is the contradiction? There isn’t any. Only the atheists and the faithful have any money on the wager.

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                    • OK, remember again to whom Pascal is giving the wager (in a dialogue!): an agnostic, who, according to Pascal, a.) must choose, and b.) has not chosen because of an emotional prejudice that says that faith is irrational. Pascal’s only purpose in the wager is to show that faith is, in fact, rational, even if its object isn’t (and he readily admits, in the passage that you quote, that the object of faith, in this case, is not rational). If this is what we use the wager for, and this is what Pascal used the wager for, then there’s nothing in your objection that speaks to Pascal’s wager.

                      Your objection, it seems, is to later versions and uses of the wager. Nothing in Pascal’s version suggests that one should believe simply because the expected utility is higher, or even for practical purposes (like avoiding potential punishment, say; remember that Pascal doesn’t even use hell in his version). Instead, it says, “faith is rational, see? Now since that is your only real stumbling block, choose real faith.” Again, that’s not question begging, it’s not artificial or selfish or half-assed faith (it doesn’t run afoul of Matthew 21), and it seems like a pretty nifty little argument to me.

                      I’ll put it slightly differently: Pascal isn’t saying, “You should believe because if you don’t and you’re wrong the consequences are much worse than if you do and you’re wrong,” he’s saying, “Because the consequences are much worse for the nonbeliever if she’s wrong than for the believer if she is, faith is perfectly rational, so let go of the prejudice that faith is irrational, and choose faith.” It’s the prejudice he’s addressing with the wager, not nonbelief itself. It’s not a reason to believe, it’s a reason to see believing as rational.

                      What you have to do is let go of what others do with the wager and stick only to Pascal, if you’re going to criticize Pascal specifically for it. In fact, while we call it Pascal’s wager, the abused versions are more like, and more likely derived from, Locke’s wager, which he came up with through reading (most likely) Arnauld, not Pascal. So stick it to Locke and/or Arnauld, ’cause with the wager, they seem much more deserving.

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                    • First, I’ll grant your stipulations to the subsequent abuses of Pascal’s initial terms of the wager. But here’s another few objections from the aforementioned enumeration:

                      1. Which God shall the agnostic choose?

                      2. Why should I believe there’s any benefit to the choice for God? Wouldn’t I have to choose a deity from among the ones provided among the various dogmas? Why couldn’t the agnostic make up his own religion? Many have, you know.

                      3. This is a variant of my first objection: why would a just God demand I believe in him and commence upon worshipping him to the exclusion of any further struggle toward enlightenment? Wouldn’t further terms be put on this belief beyond mere stipulation to his existence?

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                    • Blaise, your questions are good ones, and as a general critique of Christian philosophy, they work quite well, but they don’t apply to the wager any more than they apply to the religious writings of virtually all of Europeans philosophers and intellectuals in general, from Augustine to Newton and beyond.

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                    • P.S. – an extension to Point 2. If I chose the Christian God, accepting John 3:16, in which belief in the saving work of Jesus Christ, I am promised eternal life, there’s the payoff, you’d think. But Jesus Christ said I must abandon everything to follow him, so there’s a cost to belief.

                      But if I accept the Hindu pantheon, I am merely promised a better rebirth in the future. My current sufferings can be attributed to sins in past lives and my prostrations before the various Hindu deities will counteract the summa of my bad karma.

                      Buddhism is much the same, there are many heavens and hells. A more abstract version of Hinduism.

                      And so on and so forth…. to determine the payoff, I’d have to accept provisions of the Fire Insurance Policy provided by that religion.

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      • I think Jaybird’s got it here, though even that ceasing to believe tends to be incremental – you move to doubting the truth of X and work your way toward believing Y over time.

        I’d think even an epiphany would only serve as a shortcut to not believing X – there’d still be some work getting to believing Y.

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    • I’m trying to come up with a list of beliefs that I hold, and entertainingly enough I can’t come up with any that aren’t pretty heavily qualified.

      Except mathematical beliefs, and I’m pretty okay with those being solid, assuming the axioms hold.

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  3. Jaybird observes it’s often a process of no-longer-believing something, an un-epiphany.

    Sometimes, though, a simple belief structure can go the other way, where the complexities come into focus through experience. I remember encountering fractals for the first time, looking at the math, incredulous, then watching one develop on the screen, awestruck, as a whole mountain range began to appear.

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      • I am sure this will put me firmly in the Camp of the Heretics, but why shouldn’t I see old Kepler, slaving away at his orbital mechanics as writing a gospel of sorts? “So long as the mother, Ignorance, lives, it is not safe for Science, the offspring, to divulge the hidden cause of things”

        If we live in an age of magnets, not miracles, isn’t it valid to assert mathematics has given us a view into the rules of the universe? There’s Steven Hawking in his wheelchair, rolling his wheelchair a few millimeters from the event horizon of a black hole, observing it as it slowly evaporates — dude, that’s as significant as the Buddha asserting all things are transitory or Christ preaching the Sermon on the Mount.

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        • It seems to me that getting into the tub and noticing that the water rises as I get in provides a serious “eureka” moment that has an entirely different nature than the one provided by a Vogelin-esque embrace of the numos or whatever it is.

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          • In fairness to Voegelin, he’d sternly reject religious hooey. He’s not asking us to embrace anything. He demands an explanation for our craziness, unrolling the scroll of history, pointing a bony finger at the evidence; the list of our sins and trespasses is very long.

            So, we’d respond to Voegelin, we’re a violent little hominid not long out of the trees — you’re so smart, what do we do, how do we respond.

            Voegelin says there is a way of seeing order in this madness. We must make a map of it. The word “transcendence” has been badly misused, but it’s a perfectly valid mathematical construct, the transcendental function. Sines, cosines, tangents, logs, exponential functions, all transcendental. Dimensionless numbers crop up everywhere in engineering and physics. We have to step outside of the problem in order to map it.

            Voegelin misuses the word Gnostic, but he’s part of a long tradition of misusing the word. Voegelin’s Gnostic rushes to conclusions. Refusing to eliminate his own confirmation biases, he claims some marvelous insight and gets upset with doubters. In software, we call this problem Rushing to Implementation. But on the flip side, there’s Analysis Paralysis, endless contemplation of the problem and dancing around it and nobody actually solves it.

            Jesus Christ made a curious statement and he repeated it many times “The Kingdom of God is within you.” That’s what I believe. We will be forgiven our sins insofar as we forgive the sins of others. All creation obeys the rules except for us. We kill each other, we kill what we will not eat, we live in self-imposed misery, imprisoned by ignorance and hate and guilt. I don’t need to be Born Again to work that much out.

            People do stupid, endlessly destructive shit, over and over: since the dawn of recorded history and even back into the myths which came before, it’s the same crap over and over. The prophets tell us to quit sinning and get right, we go overboard on the repentance, then dogma starts forming up and the religious idiots decay into spiritual despots and the cycle begins again. It’s time to get off the wheel. Religion isn’t the answer, it’s part of the problem. If Voegelin retreats into the Ancients, they had a pair of statements, gnothi seauton, know thyself and meden agan, nothing in excess, demanding a balance between the inner man and the world he inhabits.

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            • Excellent, you old doobie smoking veteran!
              Write a blog on the question that stands before you. Open yourself to criticism, to the inspection of your psyche. I have no idea how a believer in the Christ can be a registered, card-carrying Democrat?
              Everyone here loves, in one way or another.

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              • You must re-read your Voegelin. That worthy man preaches a mighty sermon on the congruence of political opinion and religious conviction. You must remember, Bob, I was once a fine upstanding Republican, right up to the point when an elderly B-grade actor fella best known for trying to teach morality to a chimpanzee started selling arms to Iran. A real mind-changer, that episode. I was especially impressed by this zinger:

                You’re no dope, Jane. You couldn’t be. You haven’t a university degree and you don’t teach logic.

                Jaybird earlier spoke of the process of what I call the un-epiphany. I have said elsewhere how much I love the word Disillusion. It is a word used by the stupid becoming wise against their will. Bertrand Russell observed most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so. People just will cling to the damnedest old fallacies and the more they’re pressed to look at the evidence, the louder they protest.

                Illusions are precious things, Bob. You may cling to yours though I sincerely doubt you feel better for attempting to preserve them. Mother monkeys are seen clinging to their dead babies, a pathetic spectacle to be sure. But there’s nothing sadder than a man clinging to his dead fantasies.

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                • It isn’t just that you are struggling with the idea of how to define the new symbols (in the midst of a collapsing civilization), we can’t even begin the process of symbolizing without beginning, anew, the noetic search, which requires a return to the classicists, prophets, and dusty olde priests.
                  And, there you are in all your glory struggling mightily in the tension described by the poles of the parrhesiast and the hermeticist. It will be of interest to see which personality wins.

                  “…ideology, in its various guises, is the form the ‘Gnostic attitude’ takes in the presence of modern science.”

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                  • We’re doing fine, thanks. A few hiccups here and there, and we do need to get a handle on greenhouse gases, but collapsing? Only in the sense that it’s all been downhill since the mythical Golden Age that never was.

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                    • Civilization is always collapsing to the generation that’s no longer in control of it. When we reach Bob’s age (assuming we haven’t already), there’s a good chance we’ll be convinced that civilization is collapsing too. It almost seems like it’s hard wired into us.

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                    • Chris, Mike: Yous young whippersnappers!

                      Le Collapse: Augustine, among others, envisioned man as baptized in the spirit and a child of God who’s objective was to endure the World-Immanent in the bosom of the Church which would serve as a necessary aide in overcoming human nature (see Kate’s line in ‘African Queen’) and achieving salvation.

                      In contrast ‘gnosis’, as an absolute, has infected our bipedial specie with a pneumatic infection either symbolized as, or resulting in ‘alienation and forlorness’. These deleterious conditions have reached a position where they represent the ‘norm.’ As we engage in the dialect on these sundry threads it is becoming more and more obvious that so many express those conditions in one form or another. The result is the individual tends to engage in behavior that indicates he is outside the order of being.

                      This condition signifies the most telling indication of the collapse. It is not new. It’s been among us since the beginning, waiting, in some spiritual equivalent to some warm, dark place. The great perversion is that this gnosis places its victims outside the order of being, while the telelogical ramifications are both subtle and stunning in not only the behavior of the derailed but in the interruption/severing of one’s relationship with God, to the point that ‘God’ is conceived as non-existent.

                      The classicists/scholastics used such words as agathon, nous, ration aeterna, and summum bonum to symbolize an order of being centered on rational discourse that pointed to a specific teleology grounded in the Divine that permitted man to achieve a certain ‘attunement’ to the Will of God.
                      …more later!

                      interrpreted human action as rational only if it

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                    • Bob, I’m going to just start calling religion, and your religion in particular, an infantile neurosis, and use a few other Freudian terms not so much in argument for that position, because it’s not like you ever argue for your position that we’re suffering from some sort of psychopathology, but to make it sound serious. It’s a good way to avoid having to deal with ideas you, or I, don’t like: call it a pathology, and a fundamental one at that. You take your Voegelin, I’ll take my Freud, and we’ll just lob psychoanalysis at each other. Other than that, I don’t see how it’s possible to engage you on this subject.

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                    • Bob, there were people before Christianity, and I’m betting there will be people after it’s gone. The notion that a specifically Christian world-view is necessary for our survival is simple provincialism.

                      And I would not be surprised if I was older than you are.

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                    • Mike, it’s a strange mindset that coopts a pre-Christian world view (that of the Greeks, particularly Plato), one that largely shaped Christianity, not the other way around, and decides that it shows that Christianity is not only true, but the only non-pathological conclusion at which one could possibly arrive from philosophy. It’s sort of like saying that the Shakespearean style proves that the only true, uncorrupted literature is the Victorian novel.

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                  • There is no wisdom in the Ancients that is not equally true in our own times. The older I become, I have observed two things to increase: the beauty of children and the thoughtfulness of young people. This may be a matter of perspective, for I grow uglier and ruder, but we do not lack for good music or literature or wisdom in those younger than us. I am cheerful when I consider the years to come and those who will take our place.

                    Civilization is not collapsing. We are collapsing, and good riddance to the lot of us, pesky over-privileged grumblers that we were. We have encumbered the earth with our insufferable pride and sense of entitlement. Spoiled children we were and never overcame that vice, slaves to the dream of consumerism, squandering a prosperity we inherited and did not earn. We have not left them much that was wise and good and lasting. They have fought our wars and they have been saddled with the burden of our profligacy and they will wipe our asses when we’re too old to do it for ourselves: they are a new Depression Generation. They are dutiful, caring kids and we do not deserve them.

                    Nor are the new symbols particularly difficult to interpret. It is a simple matter of asking those who use them. How wonderful is the English language, its catholic and acquisitive tastes, that we do not need to go a-questing in search of noetikos: for a pittance, I can subscribe to all the world’s scientific journals and for nothing I can read everything on Perseus. Anyone with an e-reader can carry around a world-class library. All around us in this place, excellent young minds seem to have processed the Ancients, perhaps not as we did, gribbling and dibbling with a copy of Plato’s Republic on one side of the desk and the Liddell-Scott Lexicon on the other, but they seem wiser at their age than I was at theirs.

                    In all my glory? Like Don Quixote, I am a ridiculous old man driven mad from reading too many books and that is the end of it. My paroxysms of parrhesia inevitably lead to a hoisting upon my own petard. If you have read the book, perhaps you will remember the ending of that story, where the dying knight wills his estate to his niece with the stipulation she does not marry a boy who reads books about chivalry.

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                    • When I see teenagers passing at the mall with their pants hanging down and their foul mouths, I might despair. But when I have them in a classroom and listen to their thoughts, I quickly shut-up. In my experience, they don’t know very much, but have a tremendous eagerness to think and learn and figure things out that will, I imagine, put them heads above my generation in due course.

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                    • Every new generation must find some way to harmlessly annoy the Old Farts. It’s getting harder with each successive generation, I’m told. It was hard enough in my time, harder for my children and even harder for theirs.

                      When I was consulting at a corporate public relations department many years ago, I saw an appeal made by the US Navy for funds to purchase Lincoln artifacts for CVN72, USS Abraham Lincoln. I wrote a check and stapled it to the application. The Navy sent me an engraved invitation to the weighing of anchor ceremony.

                      There I was in my cheap suit, next to captains of industry and finance, watching them explain how an aircraft is launched. Some mother’s son in an expensive fighter is lifted on a titanic elevator and its nose gear secured to the catapult with a launch bar. A blast shield is raised behind the aircraft. Below decks, a solution has been computed for catapulting that aircraft and the entire carrier turns into the wind.

                      The aircraft comes up to full thrust, pushing against the launchbar. On a signal, a button is pressed and the aircraft is propelled down the deck: too fast and the nose gear is torn off, too slow, the aircraft lands in the water. The catapult must be stopped with a huge water brake lest it damage the carrier itself.

                      And thus it is with parenting or teaching: there is no substitute for preparation. A thousand things can go wrong. The child must strain against the launchbar and the blast shield. The adult must pull the child along. But once that button has been pressed, the combination of forces is a thing of beauty, each child a singular marvel.

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                    • ^BlaiseP’s moving apologia in the 1st graf here for our young. Except the tats and piercings. Perhaps we did not tell them they are beautiful enough often enough.

                      I think he is right: they have turned out as far more decent human beings than we their self-involved parent generation[s] had any right to expect. I have found them polite and courteous, chivalrous even. And where they are ignorant, I have found them more curious about rather than defensive or dismissive of what they do not yet know.

                      Perhaps it’s the Beatles and Motown and Zep. Their generation’s art is derivative, not genuinely creative. This they know viscerally. Me, I blame a dependence on technology, specifically the drum machine. A drum machine does not impel you to grab your girl or guy and get up and dance. [Even disco had human drummers.]

                      But I digress; I admit to being inspired by your remarkable essay here, BlaiseP, and remarkable things should not pass without remark.

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        • The freaky-deaky triple-alpha nuclear reaction that creates carbon atoms is the one that gets me everytime. The triple-alpha reaction is anomalous, but there it is, and here we are.

          “Would you not say to yourself, “Some super-calculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be utterly minuscule.” Of course you would . . . A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”

          [Fred] Hoyle, an atheist until that time, said that this suggestion of a guiding hand left him “greatly shaken.” Consequently, he began to believe in a god and panspermia. Those who advocate the intelligent design hypothesis sometimes cite Hoyle’s work in this area to support the claim that the universe was fine tuned in order to allow intelligent life to be possible.

          http://www.optcorp.com/edu/articleDetailEDU.aspx?aid=1530

          So there’s one epiphany.

          And yes, I realize that we could be Hortas, silicon- instead of carbon-based, and self-aware “consciousness” could arrive some other way, or in some other multiverse with different physical laws.

          This lessens my sense of wonder at this anomaly no less. It didn’t have to be that way.

          For those interested in the tall weeds of this

          http://www.kurzweilai.net/the-physical-constants-as-biosignature-an-anthropic-retrodiction-of-the-selfish-biocosm-hypothesis

          [I’m hoping the International Journal of Astrobiology is peer-reviewed. On the other hand, Fred Hoyle himself didn’t have much patience for Conventional Wisdom.]

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          • IJA is, yeah. The Anthropic Principle is a matter of some contention (here’s a blog post that you might find useful: http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2009/07/the_anthropic_principle_good_o.php)

            Kurzweil is (IMO) something of a nut. A damn smart nut, to be sure.

            > The triple-alpha reaction is anomalous

            Sure, but lots of (fill in the blank) are anomalous, when taken from the standpoint of prediction from what is currently known. Hoyle committed one of the classical science fallacies: attributing a probability where he has no real basis to calculate one. It seems like an amazing design characteristic of the universe, that carbon atoms are created the way we suspect that they are; but that presupposes lots of stuff that’s inadmissible as evidence :)

            I take a coin and flip it. Mark where it falls, heads or tails.

            Now I do it again, a bunch more times. Writing down heads or tails each time.

            Now I look down that long list of “heads & tails”. I take a chunk out of that list, and I show it to you. Check that out, 128 heads in a row! That’s a miracle, right? That must be intended!

            Or must it? You don’t know how many times I’ve flipped that coin…

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            • Pat, I never expected science to prove the creator signed his work or even left fingerprints. But yawning at such splendid anomalies [as the blasé author of your link does] is tautological:

              Look at that beautiful sunset!

              —Of course it’s beautiful! So?

              [Well, she’s a cheap date anyway. Why drive to the beach when you can just stay home and look at the walls?]

              I don’t think Hoyle was guilty of fallacious hypothesizing. “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth,” said Holmes. Not strictly true in physics, as we learn every day it’s complexer and complexer, but the Completion Backwards method isn’t bad, and admittedly, that’s the heart of the anthropic method and argument.

              Because we are here and here we are. We can either ask how and why, or say, Of course we’re here! So?

              Feh. Philistines! Brutes!

              [Gnostics!]

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              • > But yawning at such splendid anomalies
                > is tautological:

                Heh. Only because you’ve granted the physical factoid the status of anomaly and the characteristic of splendid-ness.

                Anomalies are only anomalies if you presuppose that there’s a simple design in the first place. Since the design is expected to be simple, a sign that it isn’t means we experience wonder. We’ve rigged the game in the favor of delight, Tom.

                Which is cool. Delight is fun!

                > Because we are here and here we are. We
                > can either ask how and why, or say, Of
                > course we’re here! So?

                I reject the fork in the road, and climb a tree to look at the sky.

                We can ask how (we should). We can ask why (indeed, it’s wired into our little brains to seek meaning, so we probably should do this too).

                Neither of these two investigations necessarily has anything to do with what we ought to do, right now, though. The spheres of inquisition don’t necessarily intersect that way.

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            • Monseigneur Georges Lemaître, a Belgian priest and cosmologist, was the first to theorize an expanding universe and posit what he called The Day without a Yesterday, what Fred Hoyle (a proponent of the steady-state universe) would derisively call the “Big Bang”.

              Well, no sooner did Lemaître’s theory gain traction than the Pope decided this was proof enough for the Genesis account of creation. The Vatican astronomer had to pull him aside and sternly inform him Lemaître’s work proved no such thing.

              The Hand of God is not seen any more than we see Kepler’s hand in Kepler’s Laws. Kepler’s Laws are true. We believe them on the basis of proof. Fred Hoyle and all who presume to see the Hand of God in his creation are unscientific ninnies.

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              • Kepler’s laws were the result of very careful observation and some extremely clever pattern-matching. Now that we have calculus and know about the inverse-square rule for gravity, any math or physics major could derive them.

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          • I know what you mean, but I have the same reaction I have when people are constantly pointing out historical miracles: a true superintellect wouldn’t have to keep breaking his own rules to make things work out.

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  4. With the exception of my transition, and it was a years long transition, from Catholicism to atheism, I can’t think of any time when I’ve awakened, or even transitioned slowly, from one belief to a blatantly conflicting one. For the most part, my belief change has been the filling of holes where beliefs were missing.

    I suppose there have been cases in which I’ve learned new facts that have caused me to reevaluate something I believed. Hell, much of grad school was that, and much to my chagrin, doing research has been as well (argh, embodied cognition). But similar to what Jaybird said about calculus, this feels different from waking up with beliefs that have less to do with obvious empirical facts than with values or more amorphous foundations.

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  5. In the course of a scientist’s career, this happens with alarming regularity. Based upon incomplete understanding of some phenomenon, scientists construct what are formally called hypotheses. The practice of science, when carried out properly (at least according to advice from Karl Popper), involves developing experiments to disprove those hypotheses. When a large enough body of evidence accrues to support a particular hypothesis, it magically becomes a theorem. Many scientists mistake the hypothesis for the theorem, and begin to believe their results (one might replace belief with hope, but for reasons I shall point out below, this seems unlikely).

    Usually, it comes to pass that one’s pet hypothesis is disproved. Sometimes, the key piece of data derives from one’s own experimental results. It is in this instance that scientists change what they believe. More commonly, a scientist in another lab carries out the experiment which disproves the pet hypothesis, and then scientists tend to hold on to their initial hypothesis. [If the new data turns out to be robust, this digging-in phenomenon tends to ruin careers.]

    The reason that I use the term ‘belief’ is that scientists, despite their training as slaves to data, are human. As such, they develop self-reinforcing cognitive constructs that represent the most plausible interpretation of their data available. The evidence that scientists’ hypotheses morph into *BELIEFS* is that one’s own data is regularly perceived as more compelling than that of a competitor.

    Of course, not all scientists behave this way. Those most steeped in the difference between data and interpretation tend to be remarkably cautious about believing their own stories, and are most the ones who are most likely to change their minds when confronted with contradictory evidence. I would characterize such scientists as (extraordinary) gentlemen.

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  6. I will throw my hat in the ring here (and possibly get evicted from this wonderful site) by bringing up the belief de jure, “global warming”. For many years now and under various nom de guerre’s, I’ve fought the good fight on blogs bringing up my misgivings with the so-called consensus. My beliefs on this subject can be fairly neatly summed up in this gentleman’s article. I was recently removed from ever posting again on a certain site (ala Mr. Cheeks) because I dared to post a link to this on a site that has nothing to do with global warming but takes umbrage at “guests” not saluting the party line (apparently). I’ve found there are in fact many sites where “freedom of speech” in regards to this specific subject is indeed verboten. Having posts instantly disappear on realclimate.org and other sites does not fill me with the warm fuzzy feelings of truth finding a way. Quite the reverse in fact. And you should have a sense from my mediocre writing skills here that I am in no way being a bad guest, resorting to name-calling and other faux pas.

    All that said, and unrelated to this thread today, I had already been wondering how I would feel after more than a decade of fighting against what I felt was the anthropogenic global warming machine/business – if I were to change my mind. What would bring this about I haven’t decided, although I believe I found Trenberth’s missing energy flows. I even thought about contacting him, but that would bring up a number of issues I’d rather not submit to. It is also I admit a conceit that I would find what professionals keep missing yet it is so painfully obvious to me. That missing energydoesn’t necessarily prove the rest of their hypothesis but it might serve to give more ammunition to the ‘scientific/political/complex’.

    I long for the good old days of open scientific debate and non-politically aligned actors, well at least in the west. We all know how well it turned out for them in the Soviet Union where they tried it the other way. ;)

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    • “I’ve fought the good fight on blogs bringing up my misgivings with the so-called consensus.”

      I personally have no desire to block anyone from the site (not that I have authority to do so, in any event). However, I must say that if you want to maintain credibility when it comes to AGW (at least, credibility to this particular observer), you can’t beg the question, sir.

      You may have misgivings. You may, indeed, be correct. However, you can’t call it a “so-called” consensus.

      Scientific consensus has been wrong in the past. It is, of course, possible that it is wrong on the point of AGW (although, IMO, it’s more likely wrong in the conservative direction). But the consensus is there. The vast majority of climate scientists support AGW. To label it “so-called” is disingenuous at best.

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      • , I have no intent of reopening wounds or the AGW debate on this site at this time. For the first time here I noticed my post was “awaiting moderation” for almost 1 hr and had a sinking feeling I’d stuck my … in it again.

        My point about so-called consensus is from the scientific viewpoint itself. No one has to state there is a “consensus” on E=MC^2 – it isn’t even necessary because the facts on the science speak for themselves. Calling for “consensus” votes before all the facts are in (or if you read the link that got me bounced from another site for being too – shall we say, “damaging?”) well let’s see what the email itself says, shall we?

        ‘I am very strongly in favor of as wide and rapid a distribution as possible for endorsements. I think the only thing that counts is numbers. The media is going to say “1000 scientists signed” or “1500 signed”. No one is going to check if it is 600 with PhDs versus 2000 without. They will mention the prominent ones, but that is a different story. Conclusion — Forget the screening, forget asking them about their last publication (most will ignore you.) Get those names!’

        A bit disquieting wouldn’t you agree? Again I would ask, is this the way science is supposed to be conducted? It so happens I work with several scientists. Years ago, discussing AGW with a tremendously respected scientist there he said, “Well it must be right because of the consensus”. When I got him to examine the facts himself instead of accepting the orthodoxy, he rather quickly came to the heterodox opinion himself. He even signed that famous document signed by some 30K scientists. Interestingly those with an axe to grind in this question the veracity of those “scientists”. To which I say re-read the quote above.

        The context of this thread was how would I feel if I suddenly woke up with a diametrically opposed viewpoint and this is the closest thing to my personal reality where such an event could occur.

        Re-read Herr Reiner’s excellent post above mine. He said it better yet. I view the AGW debate as one set of pet hypotheses versus others. The difference is some scientists went out of class bringing in elements that have no business in scientific method nor debate. There is a lot of money involved so instead of a military industrial complex we have the AGW version alluded to in my post above. Indeed as Reiner said, “The evidence that scientists’ hypotheses morph into *BELIEFS* is that one’s own data is regularly perceived as more compelling than that of a competitor. “

        I had hit submit on my post 3 minutes or so after his was posted, it sat in “moderation” for almost an hour while the powers that be decided whether I was some kind of troll. I’m not, I think this site has some “extraordinarily” perspicacious gentlemen and I’m hoping not to be kicked out quite so soon while the ‘club’ figures out that I’m really of the lower echelons and barely fit to wait the tables. My kind of peculiar learning disability requires a kind of active kinethesis so merely being a lurker on a site isn’t going to work for me. I need active involvement to get (and keep) my juices flowing and I intend to continue my education here. Before last week I didn’t know (nor much care) who Voegelin was, today I can’t believe how empty and meaningless my life had been in that ignorance. And so it goes. [no emoticon for you dexter]

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        • Ward Smith: Anti-spam automation, not the management, delays comments until approval at this here blog. It’s triggered by putting in some arrangement or number of links, since spammers link to their Viagra or whatever sales websites.

          These are goodfellas here. The only rule is Don’t be a dick. It’s a society, a community, not a regime.

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        • Ward, you’ve got a fair point about using consensus as a proxy for factual correctness.

          However, that email quote makes enormous sense to me from a public relations standpoint, not a scientific standpoint.

          Trying to explain Einstein to the general public isn’t even really necessary: you can drive your car, and go to work, and do all the things that you do and never, not once, give two shits about Relativity, and it matters not to the scientific community, or anyone else for that matter.

          Vaccinations? AGW? Assume for a second that the science is correct. If epidemiological methods are a reasonable method of scientific inquiry, getting people to get their damn shots is very important (if what you’re trying to do is reduce disease: see Blaise’s point on another thread about what it means to eliminate smallpox in sub-Saharan Africa). If the current body of climate science is correct, then we are at the moment very close to an inflection point (if not past it already) beyond which major terraforming will be necessary to maintain our current biosphere. While I do have a lot of faith in humankind’s ability to engineer crazy solutions when the chips are down, I’d rather not tinker overmuch with our biosphere – let’s try it on Mars first, eh?

          If you assume the science is correct, then the wording of that email sounds perfectly reasonable and normal, doesn’t it? It’s only if you assume that the science is falsified that it sounds nefarious.

          You brought up the famous list of 30K scientists. Now, I’ve happened to read a bit about this list and some of the people on it are not, in fact, scientists. Some of the other people on it were put on it by someone, and even though they’ve asked repeatedly to be taken off, they’re still on the list. Some of the people on the list are in fact scientists, but they’re not climatologists.

          Creating this list of 30K scientists is *also* a *perfectly understandable public relations move*, if you accept that the person(s) who made the list actually believes that the science is *wrong*. I don’t have to attribute malice or nefariousness or “that guy is in the pocket of Big Oil” (all charges which others may levy); it’s a simple public relations move, to prevent what someone might believe to be bad policy. Putting non-climate scientists on the list makes sense from a PR perspective. However, keeping dead people on the list, or people who ask to be removed, that’s a sign that something else might be going on there.

          > I view the AGW debate as one set of pet hypotheses
          > versus others.

          I think this is a pretty odd characterization. If 90% of astronomers find dark matter to be a plausible explanation for observed behavior in the universe, and 10% prefer some other theory, would you call dark matter a “pet theory”? It might be *wrong*, but it at least deserves the characterization, “dominant theory”, doesn’t it?

          Speaking as someone who works around a large body of smart people: “Pet Theory” has a very specific, very negative connotation among the people I work with, Ward. It’s not a term one would use unless you’re actively trying to seriously piss them off.

          Climate science is hard. I personally know a *lot* of math, and a decent amount of physics and chemistry. I’m demonstrably a smart dude; by many measures, I’m in the upper 95+% of non-stupidness. I know just enough modeling to understand the basic construction of the models. I know enough physics and chemistry to grok the general principles. AGW, as a body of theory, is plausible according to what I know, and I know more than the vast majority of people on this score, allright? That said, I don’t have *any* standing to say much beyond “it’s plausible”, so I have to rely on proxies to evaluate the nuances of the science for me. I don’t have the time to verify it all; if I did… I’d be a *climate scientist*. I’ve got my own field upon which to concentrate.

          Now, if I have to rely on proxies, it’s pretty fair to say that almost everybody else does, too. Maybe you’re not one of them. Maybe you’ve got a handle on something that I don’t.

          But, I’ve found when I’m talking about AGW with Random Blogger Person, I usually find over time that the person with whom I’m having the conversation doesn’t even have access to a research library, at all. They haven’t read any of the top climate journals, they usually don’t even know which ones they *are*. Their knowledge of the actual science is based upon tertiary sources, at best. That’s kind of a hard position to argue that I ought to treat this person as even a proxy of equal standing.

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        • Here’s the problem I have with this argument- you have extremely high standards of proof when it comes to the AGW argument and, you know, rightfully so. So, if I was going to convince you of the plausibility of that theory, I’d have to amass a tremendous amount of evidence and, at any rate, more than has thus far been amassed. This is what we call “skepticism”, and I can appreciate its worth, especially since we’re talking about an assumed problem with very costly and difficult ways of addressing it. Anyway, I haven’t the interest in persuading you of AGW, since personally I find the theory plausible but that’s about it.

          The problem I have is that you seemingly require a lot less evidence to persuade you of the opinion you already hold that the orthodoxy of “scientists” is incorrect. Here, you’re not so skeptical are you? And there is a theory here; not just the absence of a theory. The anti-AGW counter-theory seeks to persuade others that tens of thousands of peer reviewed papers in at least a dozen scientific fields were all falsified over a number of years in order to reinforce an orthodoxy that is incorrect, and that this was coordinated across the globe, either accidentally or through a massive conspiracy. It’s funny because I’m more skeptical of that theory than the people who call themselves “skeptics”. So, as a skeptic here too, you need to marshal more evidence than a handful of cherry-picked and decontextualized emails in order to convince me. It’s not that I find the theory of AGW entirely persuasive- I don’t- but I find it frustrating that the standard of evidence for the counter-theory is so painfully low. Especially since the people who cheerfully buy into that counter-theory pride themselves on their skepticism.

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          • , read my post at the bottom, written before your response up here. Should clarify some things for you. I happen to work with multi-discipline scientists with Phd’s in chemical, mechanical and electrical engineering plus physics. In fact they work under me. I never presume to step on realscientists’ toes for subjects at which they are expert. However I hold everyone’s feet to the fire concerning facts and data. I prescribe 100% with Blaise’s statement above concerning data and his epitaph. I do not live in the ivory towers world of academia but in the harsh realities of the business world. Falsified here means death, of companies, careers, wealth and more.

            , you can say, “cherry picked” all you want, but when a scientist (who should know better) tells another researcher (with whom he happens to disagree) that he won’t release source data, then in those selfsame emails tells his cronies that he will DESTROY the data rather than releasing it under freedom of information and lo and behold said data is DESTROYED – you are smoking dope if you call that science. If ANY of these guys worked for me they would be summarily dismissed with prejudice.

            In REAL science you follow the data, you don’t hide it, you don’t obfuscate it, you don’t “massage” it, you don’t delete it, you FOLLOW it and too bad if it doesn’t lead where you want! This isn’t emails out of context, when the .zip file came up for grabs I personally grabbed the whole thing. It is a treasure trove including software modules with comments. I do not ascribe to the fiction that it was “hacked”. The file was specifically organized by someone at CRU probably in response to freedom of information requests. England’s laws on FOI are different than here and people could have (should have) been looking at jail time for thumbing their noses at those requests (for publicly funded information mind you). Then the file was placed in the /pub directory available for anonymous download. Because of the politics of the thing, the poor schlub who did so must have certainly claimed “hacked!” but every system operator in the world knows better.

            Finally the “counter theory” argument is null and void on its face. If you tell me the world government is populated by Martians in disguise am I obligated to “counter theory” that they are Venusians instead? Here’s a Princeton scientist showing you much of what’s wrong (with AGW) without me typing a single word. Don’t like what he says? Fine, but he is speaking facts not fiction and like many scientists he is undoubtedly embarrassed by the horrible behavior of the “climate scientists” and what they’ve done to the good name of science as practiced everywhere else.

            Perhaps you’re just afraid of clicking on a link? Should I just grab and paste a couple paragraphs here?
            A major problem has been the co-opting of climate science by politics, ambition, greed, and what seems to be a hereditary human need for a righteous cause. What better cause than saving the planet? Especially if one can get ample, secure funding at the same time? Huge amounts of money are available from governments and wealthy foundations for climate institutes and for climate-related research.

            Funding for climate studies is second only to funding for biological sciences. Large academic empires, prizes, elections to honorary societies, fellowships, and other perquisites go to those researchers whose results may help “save the planet.” Every day we read about some real or contrived environmental or ecological effect “proven” to arise from global warming. The total of such claimed effects now runs in the hundreds, all the alleged result of an unexceptional century-long warming of less than 1 degree Celsius. Government subsidies, loan guarantees, and captive customers go to green companies. Carbon-tax revenues flow to governments. As the great Russian poet Pushkin said in his novella Dubrovsky, “If there happens to be a trough, there will be pigs.” Any doubt about apocalyptic climate scenarios could remove many troughs.

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            • > I happen to work with multi-discipline scientists
              > with Phd’s in chemical, mechanical and electrical
              > engineering plus physics. In fact they work under
              > me.

              What is *your* background? I used to work in a company where the guy in charge had a bachelor’s degree and he had a bunch of PhD’s working under him; he understood selling the business well enough to raise an astonishing amount of money but he wasn’t a good enough businessman to stave off the dot com implosion nor was he as smart as many of the people he had working for him. Of course, that’s an anecdote; it doesn’t say anything about *your* particular expertise.

              > I never presume to step on real scientists’ toes
              > for subjects at which they are expert.

              Why do you have a qualifier in that statement? How do you rate a scientist as “real” vs. “unreal”?

              > However I hold everyone’s feet to the fire
              > concerning facts and data.

              That’s certainly a good approach. And in many complicated investigations, a single set of data with a single analysis is going to be very limited.

              > I do not live in the ivory towers world of
              > academia but in the harsh realities of the
              > business world. Falsified here means
              > death, of companies, careers, wealth
              > and more.

              I work in the “ivory towers of academia”. I’ve also worked in the non-ivory towers of non-academia.

              Use of the phrase “ivory tower” triggers all sorts of warning bells in my head, m’friend. Academia, like the business world or the non-profit world or any other organization domain has lots of problems. Being disconnected with the world is actually… usually not one of them. Yes, there are problems with the publication process. Yes, there are problems with the grants process. Yes, there are institutional problems at the institutional level. There are comparable problems with the private sector.

              And I regard the comparison of falsification between academia and the business world as “ivory tower” vs. “DEATH!” to be another warning bell. If nothing else, it’s a sign that you regard the research community as fundamentally unserious.

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            • “Rufus, you can say, “cherry picked” all you want, but when a scientist (who should know better) tells another researcher (with whom he happens to disagree) that he won’t release source data, then in those selfsame emails tells his cronies that he will DESTROY the data rather than releasing it under freedom of information and lo and behold said data is DESTROYED – you are smoking dope if you call that science. If ANY of these guys worked for me they would be summarily dismissed with prejudice.”

              Well I’m not smoking dope today anyway, and I never did call that science. Nor did I defend those emails that you selectively quoted from (there’s a term for that I think…) or their authors. I just don’t find them as damning of the entire field of climate research in the way you claim they are- the “Rosetta stone” of this massive global conspiracy that you’re alluding to, but not willing to call a theory or counter theory of its own. Your response, so far- to me not being as easily persuaded as you’d like me to be- has been to fly off the handle and accuse me of being “afraid” of the overwhelming truth you’re bringing, mixed in with a few other, equally shallow insults. I’m still not convinced. Sorry.

              As for the First Things article- which I read the first time you posted it- it has nothing to do with “not liking” what he says. I just don’t find that article as overwhelmingly convincing as you do either. As for the paragraphs you cited, that’s the smoking gun? The fact that climate scientists get funding? Should we only accept pro bono climate research? Incidentally, I enjoy the irony that you also expect me to be persuaded by the fact that he’s a real scientist at Princeton, while out-of-hand rejecting all scientists whose conclusions you disagree with as being corrupted by the scientific establishment.

              Look, I suspect that no amount of evidence could convince you of the theory of AGW, while a startlingly low amount of evidence suffices to convince you of this (unconscious?) global conspiracy. You can say that you’re not obligated to prove any counter theory, and fair enough- you haven’t.

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              • , glad to hear you worked for a company, sorry to hear it DIED. Sorry you have issues with the word “death”. As for my background, computer engineering. That means I know as much about software design as a computer science major and as much about chip design as an EE. In fact I’ve designed software that is still in use by multi billion dollar companies and designed chips that are quite likely involved in our communication over this thingy called the Internet. I’ve got multiple patents and have been accused of being a serial entrepreneur. This handle is not my real name so you won’t find my patents under wardsmith. My business interests would require me to be more circumspect in my comments and then I could never scratch that particular itch. There are of course places where I use my real name and soon I will be delivering a paper at an international conference with a member of my team. This is why I only occasionally parachute in to make posts and read the comments all at once.

                I would have thought my disdain for scientists who neglect to follow the scientific method was completely obvious and self-explanatory. Apparently my communications skills in English are lacking, my apologies. I LOVE research – properly done. I HATE so-called (there it is again) research that is more politics than rigor. It wouldn’t matter who did it or for what end, I would hate it all the same because it is an abrogation of the societal contract that “science” has accepted, that I accepted.

                You may find it interesting to know that it wasn’t me who coined the term, “ivory tower”. Therefore whatever baggage you associate to the meme is between you and the original coiner. However, in the real world of business there is no such thing as tenure as a simple example. Shuttered doors, bankruptcies, ruined lives, these are some of the collateral damage of failure in business, not to be confused with slight embarrassment that a tenured academic might (or might not) feel. From my perspective there is really no comparison. My utmost respect is reserved for those (rare) souls who are willing to step outside their comfortable zone and undertake the difficult and dangerous task of forming or joining a business, in the wild.

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                • It didn’t “die”, dude. In fact, it’s still around. I think they actually have a burn rate below income.

                  > Therefore whatever baggage you associate
                  > to the meme is between you and the
                  > original coiner.

                  You’re the one who is using the term, man. If you don’t intend to bring pejorative baggage to a conversation, don’t use the terms that come with those connotations. Or, expect that people will get irritated at you.

                  > I HATE so-called (there it is again) research
                  > that is more politics than rigor.

                  Fair enough. However, you still haven’t given any indication as to how you’ve come to the conclusion that this particular body of knowledge is more politics than rigor.

                  > However, in the real world of business
                  > there is no such thing as tenure as a
                  > simple example.

                  Heh. Donald Trump has business tenure. He can declare bankruptcy again, he’ll still have business tenure. He’s gotten “in”. There are scads of other examples; look at the CEO population. It’s like professional football coaches, or any other subpopulation – it self selects.

                  > not to be confused with slight embarrassment
                  > that a tenured academic might (or might
                  > not) feel

                  Actual research malfeasance, when proven, usually gets you effectively booted out of the academic community. It’s one thing that can cost you your tenure, and if you screw up that badly it’s very unlikely that you’ll ever get another academic position. So although the barrier may certainly be higher, I don’t really see much difference.

                  Again, it’s a warning bell that you regard the academic community as somewhat less serious. That plus an implied charge of widespread academic malfeasance are pretty serious overtones.

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                  • I cannot help that you are so thin-skinned about ‘ivory towers’ and consider it a pejorative statement. Interestingly I can use the phrase with no knee jerk reaction with my colleagues and friends still in academia. Methinks perhaps thou protests too much, guilty conscience maybe? Getting fired as a CEO or coach or whatever still means you were *FIRED* regardless of whether you manage to secure another job. This to you is somehow equivalent to lifelong employment? You claim to have intelligence in the top 95%, but I’m beginning to wonder, 95% of what?

                    You take a specific example I’ve given and documented with links and create straw man arguments against a generalization I *NEVER* made. We already saw the whitewash investigations of Mann and Jones et al. Those guys are “rainmakers” bringing hundreds of millions of dollars into their respective institutions. Do you seriously believe those institutions are going to take a hard look at possible “malfeasance”? But that’s your standard of proof so too bad for me. Keep that blind eye turned, you may need it for further ignorance of reality lessons to come.

                    Someone can claim to have created cold fusion and keep their jobs at university. Try that in the business world and it is put up or shut up. If it doesn’t work, the business doesn’t live. That’s the death I’m talking about. Is one more serious than the other? If we were to examine consequences there is an obvious answer. Do universities do excellent fundamental research? All the time, and companies I’ve founded and been involved with have funded that kind of research. We benefit, the university benefits and society benefits. You’ve been talking through your hat, and now you’re starting to irritate me.

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                    • > you are so thin-skinned about
                      > ‘ivory towers’

                      Let me clarify: I’m not. I find that others are.

                      I do, however, generally find that those who use the term when discussing climate science are doing it to poison the well. That, I do find intellectually offensive, because I’m not fond of well-poisoning.

                      You can call academics egotistical, that’s pejorative and generally accurate. You can call them intelligent but occasionally lacking in common sense, and that’s pejorative but generally accurate.

                      If you meant something else by “ivory tower”, hey, that’s cool. Tell me what you mean by it and we can move on.

                      > Getting fired as a CEO or coach or
                      > whatever still means you were *FIRED*
                      > regardless of whether you manage
                      > to secure another job. This to you is
                      > somehow equivalent to lifelong
                      > employment?

                      Job security is job security, Ward. Career security is career security. They are, in fact, different… I’ll grant you that. But in a practical analysis, they are remarkably similar. To claim that the private sector is “meritorious only” is just a garbage claim.

                      Also: getting tenure in today’s academic world is astonishingly difficult. Many institutions don’t offer tenure-track positions any more. And for every open tenure-track position, there are hundreds of qualified applicants, so competition is beyond fierce: I know grad students who have graduated from Caltech with PhDs in Physics who can’t find *postdoc* positions right now, let alone lecturer positions or non-tenure track faculty positions.

                      I will state that it is my firmly held belief, based upon talking to people I know in both business and academia, that from a career security standpoint, it takes less time to get it working in the private sector than it does working as an academic.

                      > You take a specific example I’ve
                      > given and documented with links
                      > and create straw man arguments
                      > against a generalization I *NEVER*
                      > made.

                      Eh? When prayfortell did I do this?

                      > We already saw the whitewash
                      > investigations of Mann and Jones
                      > et al.

                      Er. Wait. Okay, check me on this. Mann and Jones have been investigated how many times? That aside, their analysis has been replicated by other people, using other methodologies, yes? This is a “whitewash”?

                      Ward, let me ask you this: what standard of proof would you accept that Mann and Jones are in fact not giant fuckheads – what’s not a “whitewash”?

                      *Is* there a standard of proof that you would accept to convince you of this counterclaim? If someone else replicates their results again, are you still going to assume malfeasance?

                      > Those guys are “rainmakers” bringing
                      > hundreds of millions of dollars into
                      > their respective institutions.

                      I have no particular knowledge of the grants that have gone to their respective institutions. However, I personally know of no individual researcher who has ever brought “hundreds of millions of dollars” into any institution. In fact, “hundreds of millions of dollars” awards usually make the news, dude. Universities pimp those news reports out, it makes them look good. They are *extremely* rare, very rich people have to die for one of ’em to come down the pike.

                      The biggest grant award that I’m personally familiar with was $20 million dollars over 7 years, and that was an astronomically large sum to be granted to a research group (not a single professor). Anything over $5 million is typically (in my experience) a block-award to an institution.

                      But hey, I’m hardly a rainmaker or a grant manager, I could totally be wrong. On the face of it, though, I suspect this claim is just completely ridiculously overblown. You’re going to have to provide me with some evidence that this is anywhere near reality.

                      Since the amount of cheddar seems to be linked to your willingness to claim that Penn State whitewashed this investigation, will you revisit your willingness to carry this belief if it’s shown that Mann brings in a lot less money than you think? How much less?

                      > Do you seriously believe those
                      > institutions are going to take
                      > a hard look at possible “malfeasance”?

                      Please tell me how I’m supposed to parse this sentence without overgeneralizing and creating a straw man that you’ll get get all up in my face about.

                      Because to me, this is equivalent to the statement: “The academic world can be routinely bought off”. If you’re implying something else, please say why this is an accusation that can be leveled against the particular institution that you’re talking about, while simultaneously being not generalizable.

                      > You’ve been talking through your
                      > hat, and now you’re starting to
                      > irritate me.

                      My goodness, are you overcome with the vapors? Jesus Christ, dude, I’ve argued on this site with every person at one time or another. I have very few experiences of anyone not being able to maintain a civil conversation. If I’m irritating you, is that because I’m really out of line, or is it because I’m asking you uncomfortable questions?

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                    • Just searched, and found that Mann has been awarded a whopping $466,000 over a 6 year period. That works out to $77,000 a year, which is enough money to hire a desktop support technician and pay for his overhead.

                      The biggest single donation I found to Penn State was from a shale oil dude to support the hockey program: $88 million.

                      I think your idea of how much filthy lucre Mann generates is off by a tad.

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              • , fine, I suppose to satisfy you I should post the entire 65MB of emails here so I’m not “cherry picking”. Or was it your intention to be obtuse? These weren’t just bench warmers in the field of climate research, these are the star players.

                Again and this is my last time I’ll say it, I do not choose this forum or this time to try and “convince” you about AGW. Your mind is made up, if you were following the thread you’d have to think about how it would feel to wake up tomorrow with a completely opposite viewpoint. That was what I was talking about and the rest here is you and Pat trying to paint me into a corner. I am more than capable of jousting with the two of you on this subject unfortunately I’ve been there, done that. As I said, I was involved in this debate for a decade or more. Back then I was a lone wolf, the reality today is quite different. Amazing what years of declining temperatures will do to a hypothesis.

                Frankly there are more interesting things to me than this subject. If you want to debate someone, go to Watts’ site and see how you do. Unlike realclimate he won’t delete your contrary viewpoint if you put together a cogent and valid counter-argument. I’ve already had debates directly with the authors of those emails (long before they were released). We discussed the models, the source data and the suppositions. In the beginning their minds were not so closed as they have become. Like frightened settlers they chose to circle the wagons and engage in precisely the nefarious activities I was suspecting them of. There is nothing for me to rehash here with you.

                An atheist (denier) could state that if only Christians (climate scientists) had never done those deeds we know they’ve done, all would be well and he could believe.

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                • The entire 65MB of emails is in fact a cherry picked sample.

                  If you went through my email archive, you could easily build up a 65MB subpopulation of it that would include enough verbiage not intended for public consumption that it would put me on a terrorist watch list, I imagine.

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                  • Of course you must be right, you just said so. I didn’t create that “subset” someone at CRU did. Even the whitewashing “investigators” didn’t deny that. And yes, I feel that having CRU investigate CRU is akin to having only BP investigate the Macando disaster. Or are you so far down coolaid land that you believe a hacker was able to grab a decade’s worth of damaging emails place them in a /pub directory and was so brilliant he just happened to find incriminating emails? The “other” megabytes of emails would have totally exonerated their misbehavior? You’d better be careful if you intend to debate me with these tactics, much chagrin could ensue.

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                    • > Of course you must be right, you just
                      > said so.

                      That is, in fact, not what I said. What I said was that the 65MB tarball was a cherry-picked subset of the email archive.

                      That is, of course, my opinion. I suspect that it was cherry-picked.

                      I suspect that because a large volume of email is missing from that archive. When I see a large volume of something missing, I get suspicious. In any event, it’s hardly entire. Someone has edited it. Why?

                      > Or are you so far down coolaid land
                      > that you believe a hacker was able
                      > to grab a decade’s worth of damaging
                      > emails place them in a /pub
                      > directory and was so brilliant he
                      > just happened to find incriminating
                      > emails?

                      All of those emails are damaging? That is not what I’ve heard. In fact, the number that I see people talking about so vociferously on the web is considerably smaller. Picking a half-dozen emails out of anybody’s email archive and you can make them look stupid.

                      Oh, and I’ve dealt with large-scale security intrusions so yeah, I know a lot about hackers and their capabilities. But that’s an aside.

                      Again, I state that if you took my email archive and cut it down, you could release it to the world and there would be enough information to put me on a terrorist watch list. Heck, it’s entirely possible that I’m already on a NSA watch list for all the publicly-written documents I wrote about the NSA warrantless wiretapping project.

                      That in and of itself doesn’t make me either a terrorist or a national security threat.

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      • Mr. Cahalan issues a sage warning on so-called “scare-quoting.” “So-called” is scare-quoting without the “scare quotes.”

        Oh, there’s a whole post in this, begging the question instead of writing straight-up declarative sentences. Thx, but I’m not gonna guest post on it, mebbe someday. Hell, one could do a whole post just on what so-called “begging the question” “really” “means.”
        _________________
        To the matter of Mr. Cheeks and his banning at his former subblog at First Things, I make it that his abstract defense of the Confederacy—not unlike Barry Goldwater’s principled but abstract defense of so-called “states’ rights” vs. the Civil Rights Act—was an embarrassment to the blog since Bob was no mere commenter, but a contributor. Such abstraction of principle against reality and/or prevailing sentiment can be disastrous to the greater body. To this day, the GOP has never recovered from Goldwater along racial lines. If anyone has noticed…

        Bob, I was thrown off as a contributor to a groupblog for similar reasons, y’know. Except it was called Southern Appeal, and I called for burying the rebel battle flag once & for all because when when the overwhelming majority of black folk set eyes on it, they see horror, not honor. This did not digest well thereabouts.

        Just sayin’.

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        • Excellent!
          Actually, it was a pretty good discussion that, if I recall correctly, had gone back to Madison/Jefferson, the secession from GB, the Kentucky/Virginia Resolutions and the participants were pretty sharp dudes…learned a lot.
          If you’re gonna pull on superman’s cape you have to be prepared for the possibilities.

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    • I have been hanging around this site for a couple of years now and I have found only two things that will get you kicked off. You have to be very stupid or very mean, neither of which I would attribute to you.
      Although, since I don’t speak emoticon, I would banish those little inanities.

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  7. As long as we cling to an appreciation of the ‘open’ existence, it’s possible, I suppose to approach the truth. I suppose I should protest predicated on the ideological deformations but yous guys seem so happy. Let us not be infected this evening by the virus which ‘exploites the evil and weakness in man’s nature.’

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  8. To me, Jaybird has typed the one word that, and I think Jon Rowe has plenty to say about this, seems to strike at the core of the issue. Jaybird discussed all the way he thought the world *OUGHT* to be. And it is the “ought” with which we will always find ourselves in conflict. Anything that “ought” to be a certain way is, most likely, at this point in time, not that way at all. Thus, that it “ought” to be the way we think. But to argue with what “is” is to be wrong, but only 100% of the time, to quote Byron Katie.

    Full confession, three years ago, I’d have stood in a pool naked with a bunch of pirhanas to defend the idea of a welfare state; the idea that we can legislate economic equality with no detrimental effects and with an observable alleviation of poverty. I no longer think this is the case, and not because we can’t legislate economic equality (although some would argue rather convincingly using certain data that we really can’t), but that we shouldn’t. Yes, I find it strangely sad that we live in a society where a guy dribbling a basketball or the guy who owns his team or a CEO that runs his company in the ground while enriching himself or a guy who trades derivatives all day can amass in a year more money than whole communities of people will make in a lifetime actually working and producing things. And, whereas I do believe that there (and here I use the dreaded word that Jaybird threw out) “ought” to be some sort of minimal assurance that people who need help can actually get it, I’m not sure that transfers of wealth from those who make exorbitants amount of money to those who don’t is what will cure the ills of the world.

    Having said that, I also don’t believe that transfers of wealth up the tables through various operations and manipulations of those who actually have the power to manipulate is tolerable either. The problem here is that while we try to rectify economic inequality through legislation (which ends up looking like social engineering by “the man”), usually the unseemly and outrageous incomes of those in the upper echelons is called “good business sense.” And we will surely quibble about the details of this ad nauseum.

    My mind however was changed on this issue when I was writing opinion pieces for the local paper here in St. George. I would spend hours trying to defend my pieces from an extremely conservative population. And there was one guy who managed to finally rip a hole in the monolith of my liberal belief system to show me, by his own consistency, my inconsistencies.

    I’m what you would call a rather vigorous defender of same-sex marriage. This made me as popular as the ebola virus here in Southern Utah. This one, aforementioned commenter who disagreed with me vehemently on the economics of wealth redistribution, was somehow a supporter (albeit reluctantly) of same-sex marriage. He came at the problem from the view point of what maximizes liberty (or at least that’s what I concluded) no matter his religious opposition to the thing. And I realized (slowly and begrudgingly) that it was inconsistent of me to argue in one way that the government should not legislate against two consenting adults from having a contractual arrangement with the state that was the same as heterosexuals had, while also saying that the government did have the right to come in arbitrarily and say that this amount of money was too much or this amount was too little and move the piles around a bit to make things more fair.

    I realized that my insistence that the world ought to be more fair was at odds with the actuality of what “was.” And it was inconsistent to say that the government has a reason to meddle here while they don’t have a right to meddle there.

    And such is the problem with the word “ought”. I’d argue that we ought not use it if it weren’t so self-contradictory.

    (end long-winded and boring exposition)

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  9. Having faith is, for many people, perfectly rational. The world is dark, scary and cruel; believing that there is meaning to suffering can be comforting. Acting on faith, however, is usually irrational. Those who try to set public policy based on Revealed Truth rTher than facts tend to make a mess of things.

    Yes, the hosts at RealClimate can be prickly. But there are a number of well-traveled sites where a heterodox theory can get a fair hearing: Wattsupwiththat, Judy curry, Blackboard.

    Also, which part of AGW theory draws dissent: atmospheric physics, paleoclimate, sensitivity modeling, economic impact analysis?

    Trenberth was actually complaining about the inadequacy of the global sensor network, especially in the middle to deep ocean.

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  10. Those who try to set public policy based on Revealed Truth rTher than facts tend to make a mess of things.

    I read your “revealed truth [rather?] than facts” as precisely indicative of the global warming hysteria. Read my links, you’ll see other scientists with the SAME instruments as Trenberth were easily able to come to a completely different conclusion. It comes down to Reiner’s statement again, in spades. This has gone from science to faith.

    I’ve had direct discussions with the prickly pears at realclimate. We’ve had interesting dialog that covered a lot of ground, only to see the entire thread evaporate instantly as the “DM” (dungeon masters) of that site decide things are not going their way. And rather than trying to finesse the argument (which they were losing – and this was the scientists themselves such as Gavin Schmidt) best to simply excise the wound. I don’t much care that Gavin is a climate modeler at Goddard; Navier Stokes is Navier Stokes and I can lick his chops any day of the week. He too now knows this and that is why I’m persona non grata at the site. I wasn’t rude, just that my facts got in the way of his faith.

    So here’s the rub again. Bob uses his 50 cent words to talk about substituting new symbologies for old and those making said substitutions don’t realize they are doing so. We even have a new “religion”: Scientology, “study of science”. His definition of gnostics might be strange but it is consistent in his usage.

    The Freudian here should appreciate that my anal-retentive nature competes regularly with my attention deficit disorder. The topic of this thread was changing your mind overnight. An epiphany as it were. My view of climate “science” has been that it was polluted by acolytes decades ago and the true science has gone out the window. I predicted on multiple blogs that the high priests were cooking the data, protecting their biblical narrative and excommunicating the dissenters. The Rosetta stone of revealed emails merely confirmed what I had been suspecting for years. You can see the cognitive dissonance for me if I were to decide that in spite of their sins they were somehow correct after all – well that would be extraordinary gentlemen.

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    • > I’ve had direct discussions with the prickly pears at
      > realclimate. We’ve had interesting dialog that covered
      > a lot of ground, only to see the entire thread evaporate
      > instantly as the “DM” (dungeon masters) of that site
      > decide things are not going their way.

      Ward, I’ve never heard this particular allegation leveled against the folks at RC. There’s lots of contentious comment threads there, last time I checked.

      That said, while it’s certainly rude (and would piss me off if someone did it to me), it doesn’t say anything definitive as to how people approach science, just blogging.

      > My view of climate “science” has been that it was
      > polluted by acolytes decades ago and the true
      > science has gone out the window.

      And how did you come to this conclusion? Do you read all of the journals?

      > I predicted on multiple blogs that the high priests
      > were cooking the data, protecting their biblical
      > narrative and excommunicating the dissenters.
      > The Rosetta stone of revealed emails merely
      > confirmed what I had been suspecting for years.

      Can you include this in your analysis? How does it fit?

      http://articles.latimes.com/2011/apr/04/local/la-me-climate-berkeley-20110404

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      • I doubt we would want to publish anything on the topic. Policy solutions, perhaps. Original scientific claims, no.

        First, I don’t consider myself qualified to evaluate scientific claims in detail. I don’t think any of the League regulars are qualified in this area either.

        Second, overturning scientific consensus is a strong claim. And strong claims demand strong evidence. If the evidence is strong, then it doesn’t belong here — it belongs in a peer-reviewed journal. Contrawise, if the evidence is weak, we don’t want it here either.

        And finally, if you’re going to claim that the peer review process is a giant conspiracy, then you’re beyond help. Just give up now and admit that you’re a crank.

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        • Jason, you really shouldn’t lob such softballs over the plate

          And finally, if you’re going to claim that the peer review process is a giant conspiracy, then you’re beyond help. Just give up now and admit that you’re a crank.

          I’ll make it easy for you just click here (further actual clicks may be required).

          Now if you’re smart (and I truly believe you are) you’ll quickly hide behind the fact that you are talking about the *ENTIRE* worldwide academic peer review process and not the one hijacked by the proletariats of climategate. The fact that the keepers of ll temperature data are complicit in those emails shouldn’t discourage you. Please don’t make me go back and post dozens of emails from the stack that directly address this behavior, that will just upset dear Rufus because I’m cherry-picking (ie, responding to the question asked instead of handing him the entire encyclopedia). He’s been welcome since this discussion began to peruse said source himself (as have others), but that could lead to cognitive dissonance, and we all know where that <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=PpylGd5s93E&"ends up :)

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          • > Now if you’re smart (and I truly believe you are)
            > you’ll quickly hide behind the fact that you are
            > talking about the *ENTIRE* worldwide academic
            > peer review process and not the one hijacked
            > by the proletariats of climategate.

            Asking me to search through hundreds of blog posts by climate denialists isn’t really telling me *why* *you* believe what you do, Ward.

            Which is, entertainingly, the subject of the O.P.

            There are 201 peer-reviewed science journals in Caltech’s reference library that focus on Geological and Planetary Science.

            Please explain to me what you believe the mechanism is by which all 201 of these journals have been hijacked by the proletariat of climategate. I’ll grant for a moment that all of the biology, ecology, and physics journals that have also published studies that are in line with global warming consequences (which wouldn’t say anything about the source) could all be bamboozled into thinking humans done did it.

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            • All who sneer at the Ivory Tower do so looking up at it. Unwilling to undertake the long and lonely journey up that staircase to the top of the ivory tower, it’s easy to deny others’ conclusions.

              Those who do climb that staircase are lugging up a freight of data, all the while contending with the problems of writing papers and teaching classes and the petty viciousness of the other scholars on that same staircase.

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            • Pretty much what Pat said. If you can’t find a single journal to publish your material, don’t come crying to us. We’re not a scientific outfit, more like humanities and public policy. And we don’t even have a formal review process for that, let alone for climate science.

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          • Wow, if I had known that simply characterizing your posting a single inconclusive paragraph from ten years of emails and calling it the “Rosetta stone” of a massive global conspiracy as “cherry picking” would upset you so much, I’d never have done it. I’m perfectly free to peruse said source? Thanks. Maybe you could actually link to it along with all your blustering since googling that single Rosetta stone paragraph from 1997 that you cut and pasted gives me tons of hits wherein other skeptics posted the same exact paragraph in the comments sections of newspaper articles and claimed it as conclusive evidence of the massive global conspiracy. Independent thinkers all.

            Incidentally, you acting like an arrogant blowhard in these comments threads is impressing no one else but yourself. Trust me on that.

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          • Henry Kissinger once observed academic quarrels are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small. There’s plenty of debate among the AGW academics, but I’ll lay this out for you, as someone who works with predictive models.

            Everyone, regardless of his position on AGW, admits to certain facts, observable and observable changes. The most significant of these changes is atmospheric gas fractions we have obtained from ice cores. What do these changes imply? One conclusion, completely independent of man’s impact on the atmosphere, is that a longish Ice Age is coming to an end. Human civilization arose at the beginning of the end of that Ice Age, about 6000 years ago.

            The trouble arises when we try to do predictive work with this data. The gas fractions are changing, at a net level we can calculate how the temperature of an arbitrary atmosphere changes as varies its CO2 fraction. when exposed to sunlight. The greenhouse effect is real. But what does it mean for the future? We aren’t sure, because we’ve got no previous data from the ice cores which might give us a clue. The fractions have changed over time, that much data we do have from large volcanic eruptions and suchlike, but nothing remotely akin to the changes we see now.

            What should scare you is this: is is almost impossible to predict the effects of our indisputable impact on atmospheric gas fractions. This much we do know, chaos theory dictates the changes will be enormous. What sort of changes? We can’t say, things are changing too fast to accurately predict.

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        • Now his being banned, even if you don’t agree with banning, or even if you (and I mean don’t mean you in particular) agree with his position, looks pretty understandable, eh?

          As someone who has some experience with the peer review process, I can say with certainty that it is something that is incredibly difficult to hijack. It’s a system built around rejecting papers. It just is, and this isn’t me hiding behind the peer review system generally: I’ve yet to find a discipline where that’s not the case. I’m not sure what it would take for it to be so. At the very least, it would require a radically different culture among junior faculty, who make their names, in most cases, by creating conflict, and who as a rule tend to be the harshest reviewers (and who do a good portion of the reviewing, since reviewing sucks, and they give all the sucky jobs to junior members of a discipline). And that seems highly unlikely in such a multidisciplinary field.

          What’s more, since not only global warming, but anthropogenic global warming, is not just the consensus among climate scientists, but the overwhelming consensus, it would mean that all of the people involved in the conspiracy (and being charitable, we’ll just assume that WardSmith doesn’t think most climate scientists are in on it, just a few prominent climate change researchers) would have been fooled by fraudulent data and modeling, fraudulent in such an obvious way that people who know shit about climate science, like our Ward here, can spot it easily.

          Even more odd is the conviction that these scientists are all politically motivated. What obvious political conclusion does AGW lead to? Sure, some climate scientists and some policy makers, particularly on the left, see a need for much stricter environmental regulations for both businesses and individuals. However, AGW doesn’t necessarily lead to that conclusion; there are other ideas about how to deal with it (e.g., education, creating incentives for entrepreneurs to produce climate-friendly products, etc.) which aren’t particularly left wing. What’s more, people on the left don’t want to create broad environmental legislation just for the hell of it, and if they have to make up a reason for such legislation, then you have to assume that they do, in fact, want such legislation for the hell of it. I know there are some people on the right here, and therefore we can assume in the general population, who think that the only guiding principle of the left is more regulation, more power to the state, and that’s it, but that’s just silly. It’s particularly silly when we’re not talking about politicians, or people who would gain in political or economic power from increased state power, but talking about academics. Are they just screwing with us to screw with us? I can’t think of any other plausible motivation for their lying so prominently, as the conspiracy theorist would have us believe.

          It makes sense to be skeptical about scientific conclusions because they’re always provisional, to the extent that at any moment new data could become available that shows them to be false, but when all of the data points to a conclusion, and there is no data to suggest otherwise (there’s no cooling, as Ward pretends: 2010’s average global surface temperature was the hottest on record, with 2005 being the second hottest, and the intervening years being among the hottest; if that’s cooling, then I didn’t until now know the meaning of that word), nor any alternative explanation that holds up under scrutiny, then more than the usual skepticism of any scientific conclusion is just stupid.

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  11. Have you ever noticed how denialists end up looking a lot like conspiracy theorists? In fact, exactly like them, since it takes a conspiracy of the vast majority of climate scientists — a vast global conspiracy. Apparently their conferences are conspiracy-planning sessions, all because they’re dirty hippies who vote for Democrats or whatever the equivalent is in their country.

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  12. Sigh. I wish I’d never made that post. This used to be a fun site with folks talking about politics and philosophy and religion. That was all fair game. GOD knows the real religion here is genuflection to AGW climate science. Now of course I’m painted as a crank because I supposedly think the *ENTIRE* peer review process is fake. Of course I never said such a thing but why let facts stand in the way of a good narrative? Considering I myself have been published multiple times in !PEER REVIEWED JOURNALS! would make one think that I myself was suffering cognitive dissonance. When I’m on subject for dry publications I speak nothing like I do here, with good reason. That is work, this is (should be) entertainment. I took philosophy when it was required but was more interested in the predicate calculus and logic than what those old philosophers were saying. Now that I’m old, I am more interested in what was said than how the joins work. There is (was) a philosophical bent to this site that attracted me and I could find links for further rumination. I know Pascal’s wager and in fact applied it to a previous debate (as have others) on the economics of global warming action. They are in fact quite similar if one can think of it unemotionally. I am even nice enough to post a contrarian view to my own to show I am even handed about this. My own argument was more along these lines. There is an interesting discussion about the wager way up at post 8, I can’t imagine I am the only one here who sees similarities.

    multiple places. I didn’t want to get drawn into a debate on AGW itself and still don’t. This subject is passe to me, there are literally thousands of points on which you are not even current. You would have had to have been actively following the debates as they occurred, obviously you didn’t and I don’t have the time or patience to fill in your blanks. I do find it amusing that in your post 95 you succeed in contradicting yourself too many times to keep track of. Which is it, the emails are damaging or they aren’t? If they aren’t damaging, why the fuss and if they are, what does that do to your statement about them being cherry picked (all 65MB) and the (dare you say conspiracy?) *missing* emails? LOL

    Speaking of wells, I suppose this handle is now poisoned because all of you will forever more be linking me to a (gasp! godless, apostate, infidel, atheist, impious) denier! regardless of the discussion. Whether that speaks to your inherent prejudices or mine, I’ll leave to your own consideration. It will be a shame to lose my avatar, because it is spot on, blogs are indeed weapons in the war of ideas.

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    • > I didn’t want to get drawn into a debate on AGW itself
      > and still don’t.

      You brought it up, dude.

      > This subject is passe to me, there are literally thousands
      > of points on which you are not even current. You
      > would have had to have been actively following the
      > debates as they occurred, obviously you didn’t and
      > I don’t have the time or patience to fill in your blanks.

      Oddly enough, this can be totally true and still largely not relevant to the questions that I’ve asked you and you don’t appear to want to answer.

      > I do find it amusing that in your post 95 you succeed
      > in contradicting yourself too many times to keep
      > track of. Which is it, the emails are damaging or
      > they aren’t? If they aren’t damaging, why the fuss
      > and if they are, what does that do to your statement
      > about them being cherry picked (all 65MB) and
      > the (dare you say conspiracy?) *missing* emails?

      There’s actually zero contradictions in post 95. Would it help if I constructed a truth table for you?

      Note: “damaging” is context dependent. Does that help clarify?

      > Speaking of wells, I suppose this handle is now
      > poisoned because all of you will forever more
      > be linking me to a (gasp! godless, apostate,
      > infidel, atheist, impious) denier! regardless
      > of the discussion.

      You’re reasoning far, far ahead of your data. Before you grab your Martyr Outfit and cover yourself in sackcloth and ashes, why don’t you first, yanno, wait and see if your predictions come to pass?

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  13. Mr. Smith, being linked to “godless, apostate, infidel, atheist impious” people on this site makes you part of the majority. Your problems are twofold. You lack tact. The “so called majority” crack is the easiest example of your lack of tact. Your other problem is that you give no numbers.
    I am perfectly willing to change my mind on global warming, but I have seen no reason to. Another reason to try alternate forms of energy is that I would like to see less money going to regimes that I don’t like. If it were up to me, America would bring about half of the 360,000 soldiers on foreign lands home and have them build windmills in the Gulf of Mexico. The fisherpeople here need something else to do besides say the brown shrimp season is BAD. The platforms are fish magnets, and Lousiana’s work force is primed for making platforms. So even if I am wrong it is a win-win for the people in my state.

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    • Re: tact. Ok, I may be guilty there. English can be a harsh sounding language (but German is worse). Could not the paintbrush include others? What started as fairly cordial discussions quickly went downhill obviously less for /how/ I said something vs /what/ I said. I defended my positions with Pat and he persisted in telling me I was defaming all of science and academia when I had said no such thing. Others jumped onto that bandwagon. Re-read the posts and you’ll see what I mean. Focus on what /I/ said, not what Pat and others said I said. In terms of hijacking the peer review process, I give a link that has over 210K hits most of which give verbatim quotes of the incriminating emails and on topic discussion of the motivations of the researchers. Pat claims those are ALL denialists, but perhaps many are just concerned lovers of true science as practiced by ethical scientific researchers around the world? As for budgets, Mann personally might have gotten $600K but the department he heads ESSC has received over $75M in the past 3 years alone. Compare ESSC’s “revenues” before Mann came aboard and tell me there is no conflict.

      As to your second point, at no time have I felt inveigled to convince you or anyone here of anything at all. Nor had that ever been my intent. However the intransigence of opinions exists, me “changing your mind” was never part of the equation. The topic is “Changing Minds” agreed, but I did not read it as an imperative in fact I read it as one changing one’s own mind. Human nature is noted for resistance to change, especially of the “mind” variety. Attempting same often results in animosity. Already there are whispers (from Chris at least) that I should be banned – again I’m not even trying to change anyone’s mind, was just talking about a mind change for me that would be drastic and look at all the grief it has caused. Just sayin’

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      • > I defended my positions with Pat and he persisted in
        > telling me I was defaming all of science and academia
        > when I had said no such thing.

        (sigh). Tell me where I said you were defaming all of science and academia.

        For all this discussion on this thread, you haven’t answered any of these questions:

        Post 80:
        “If 90% of astronomers find dark matter to be a plausible explanation for observed behavior in the universe, and 10% prefer some other theory, would you call dark matter a “pet theory”? It might be *wrong*, but it at least deserves the characterization, “dominant theory”, doesn’t it?”

        Also Post 80:
        “If you assume the science is correct, then the wording of that email sounds perfectly reasonable and normal, doesn’t it?”

        Post 84:
        “Why do you have a qualifier in that statement? How do you rate a scientist as “real” vs. “unreal”?

        Post 106:
        “And how did you come to this conclusion? Do you read all of the journals?”

        Post 106:
        “Can you include this in your analysis? How does it fit?

        http://articles.latimes.com/2011/apr/04/local/la-me-climate-berkeley-20110404

        Post 110:
        “Please explain to me what you believe the mechanism is by which all 201 of these journals have been hijacked by the proletariat of climategate.”

        I’ve asked you all those questions, and you’ve not actually responded to any of them. In the meantime, you’ve used some verbiage that you yourself just conceded may have lacked some tact; which I’ve pointed out to you and you have responded to some of that… but mostly by *not* saying, “Yes, I can see how someone might interpret what I’m saying that way.” Mostly you just got angry, at least, that’s how I read your posts (granted, blog commentary threads are of course easily misread for tone, if I misread you I hereby apologize).

        To clarify post 110: There are at least 210 geoplanetary journals that I know of, and yet the number of articles I’ve seen published in the last two decades that are written by authors who don’t support AGW is quite small; even some articles that have been published in those 210 journals that have been held up by the anti-AGW community have been authored by people who support AGW. If AGW was in fact as bad of a theory as you seem to be claiming it is, I’d expect many, many more articles critical of AGW in those 210 journals. I don’t seem them.

        That implies to me that you believe that those journals are all complicit some way. Now, I might be *wrong* that you believe this, but how else do you explain the dearth of published research supporting the anti-AGW stance in those journals?

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  14. Sigh, against my better judgement I will respond to your post #125.
    “(sigh). Tell me where I said you were defaming all of science and academia.” Starts with your last sentence of post 84: “If nothing else, it’s a sign that you regard the research community as fundamentally unserious.” You put in no qualifier and your later comments (87) merely reinforced your meme. Denying it now would be – unserious.

    You made a large number of arguments in post 89 along a similar vein but my browser did not let me reply (although you could add your Mann piece, rebutted by me above).

    Dark matter is a pet theory of dark matter proponents. Fortunately for us we aren’t facing a minimum of $14TRILLION spent to deal with a dark matter menace, not yet anyway. Nor are governments and industries held hostage to contributing to dark matter mitigation. Nor do governments fund dark matter research to the tune of $10Billion per year. Nor is there a dark matter exchange where we can buy and sell dark matter credits. Shall I continue?

    This leads me to a “begging the question” point. At what time and place is it acceptable to add into the question the guaranteed acceptance of said question by inserting “appeal to authority”? Isn’t this begging the question fallacy squared? After all, by inserting CONSENSUS into the question isn’t it axiomatic that I have to accept the CONCLUSION of the CONSENSUS? I leave this as an exercise for the student and your own conscience.

    Wording of “what” email? The one where Jones says he’ll delete (and obviously has) public data? That’s acceptable to you as a scientist because he’s part of the “dominant theory”? No one else (including other scientists) get to verify for themselves this “dominant theory”? Where exactly are you a researcher again so I can worry about double-checking YOUR results, or is the source data and methods already gone? You can see how insidious this gets.

    “Real scientists” was asked and answered but I’ll do so again. Real scientists let the science speak for itself. They don’t resort to fear mongering, sending out blast email appeals for “signatures” so they can claim “We don’t need to debate, the science is settled – just look at our consensus“. You yourself readily admitted (before casting aspersions on my intelligence, background etc) that it was a POLITICAL move. I eschew the politics in science where it doesn’t belong. If it weren’t political, why is there an intergovernmental panel on climate change? I could not state this more clearly.

    , I’ve read my share of the journals, I haven’t read ALL of them, nor do I believe Mann or Jones or Schmidt or the rest of the “team” have. True science is like “real” science described above. One doesn’t have to resort to titles for articles such as the “team” have used, which themselves beg the question (assuming the legitimacy of their heretofore research but now gospel). The title of the Trenberth paper I linked to above is a case in point. So are many of the sentences enclosed therein. His tone was not so strident previously although he had access to the same data. I prefer dry, boring articles where questions are asked, methodologies are examined and results are pondered.

    I read that newspaper article but couldn’t find the original paper. Do you have a link? From what I’ve read, the work at BEST appears to be getting done by a doctoral student. Without the original paper (assuming it has even been published yet) I can’t say much more. Releasing preliminary information without all the underlying caveats and explanations of methods is premature, something Trenberth and others seem to have commented in that article IIRC.

    multiple journals hijacked. Obviously you haven’t read the emails nor the commentary on them. Now I am in a quandary. If I “cherry pick” quotes where “scientists” like Mann state things like, ‘It seems to me that this “Kinne” character’s words are disingenuous, and he probably supports what De Freitas is trying to do. It seems clear we have to go above him. I think that the community should, as Mike H has previously suggested in this eventuality, terminate its involvement with this journal at all levels–reviewing, editing, and submitting, and leave it to wither way into oblivion and disrepute. you’ll somehow claim it doesn’t mean anything and doesn’t represent a “conspiracy”. Of course if I then link to another 100 or so quotes, for certain I will end up in moderated purgatory (or worse). You won’t click on the links I gave you previously where you could read them for yourself in context and with commentary (just search within here for “peer”) but still demand I provide “proof”. What else is available to me?

    Finally I’ll kill a couple of birds with one stone viz realclimate censoring plus team behavior (when you take away the massage treatment). Note comment 43 therein. Note further that the object of the article was contrary to accepted practice a reviewer of the peer reviewed article criticizing his work, Eric Steig. He fought like hell to make sure it did NOT get published (as other members of the team have done for over a decade) then wrote 100 some pages of “critique” demanding response in the peer process of a 12 page paper. Then denied he was involved when he’d already been caught. Then deleted all references to the event on Realclimate. etc etc etc. No proof I know because whatever I tell you has to meet an ever moving standard. Just sayin’

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    • I’m not ready to go to the mat on this, but “peer-review” seems no less vulnerable than any other human institution to ideological corruption and peer pressure than any other, such as governments and churches. Where there humans, there are weasels, squirrels and lemmings, if you get my drift.

      I googled “peer review scandal” to see what popped up, and most of what came up was AGW—although not all. [Non-AGW peer review would be a better place to start, the meta-arg, but it’s too late for that here.]

      I don’t think WardSmith is doing a great job here of sounding rational, reasonable or dispassionate [sorry, Mr. Smith, but yr jihad is showing]. However—and I’m open to correction—the google turned up this allegation, as an intercepted email:

      This scandal goes beyond scientific journals and into other media used to promote the global warming dogma. For example, RealClimate.org has been billed as an objective website at which global warming activists and skeptics can engage in an impartial debate. But in the CRU e-mails, the global warming establishment boasts that RealClimate is in their pocket.

      “I wanted you guys to know that you’re free to use RC in any way you think would be helpful. Gavin and I are going to be careful about what comments we screen through…. We can hold comments up in the queue and contact you about whether or not you think they should be screened through or not, and if so, any comments you’d like us to include.

      [T]hink of RC as a resource that is at your disposal…. We’ll use our best discretion to make sure the skeptics don’t get to use the RC comments as a megaphone.”

      Do I trust the academic establishment as honest brokers? Sorry, I do not. They’re only human, too. I believe they genuinely believe what they believe, but humans not only cut corners, but we tend to see what we want to see.

      Source: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2009/11/24/the_fix_is_in_99280.html

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      • Tom, this is something that the scientists and the scientific-minded have had to deal with from creationists, as well. I bring this up not to tar religion, but to point out that the bloggers at RealClimate were largely using the model of blogging/promoting a field that came from sites like Pandas Thumb, and using their experience as well. I don’t find those emails either disturbing or all that odd, for that reason. We’re talking about a scientific discipline that is under attack largely not by scientists, or even people who know the science (witness Ward), but by politicians and businesses who have attempted to win the argument by having a better PR campaign. And in many ways, they’ve succeeded, because it’s hard to imagine another area, aside from evolutionary biology, that has this many deniers in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence. And people like Ward treat the scientists as the politically motivated ones, which would be amusing if it weren’t so depressing.

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        • Chris, I have no commonality with creationists, and demur from the analogy here. I have reservations–unresolved—about the right of people to believe stupid shit per freedom of religious conscience and how to accommodate that within our American religious pluralism.

          It has not yet come to a head in the US, but I think many Muslims are “creationists” as well. When I think of Christian fundamentalists, I see American Muslims too.

          Different set of concerns. Me, I’m fine with evolution, and think little of “Intelligent Design” and “irreducible complexity” as advanced by the Discovery Institute, etc. I like the carbon atom thing per Fred Hoyle, though, but it makes me wonder, not argue. If you missed it, I wrote that I never expected science to prove the creator signed his work or even left fingerprints. That would take all the fun out of the faith thing.

          Christ, could you imagine what would happen if science proved God exists?

          [Actually, probably not much different than it is now. Heh heh.]

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          • J.G. Ballard wrote a short story on this topic- computer proves the existence of God. As I recall in his story attendance at churches drops dramatically, people lose interest in persuing the question, and the various religious hierachies come out against the computer’s conclusion, which is finally forgotten about. It was an interesting one.

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          • Here’s one for you, Tom. Just to let you know that I still have some actual wonder buried down in a pocket, somewhere.

            I was asked by a relative of mine, while discussing my lapse into disbelief in the teachings of my church, if I could think of any empirical evidence that would support a belief in God. Just as a thought experiment.

            At first I was against the whole proposition, thinking that it’s utterly ridiculous to assume that a paranormal entity can be revealed in any way to observation when it can void the rules. But then I thought of one, at least for an active God. Assuming that what we know of the Universe, as it currently stands, is accurate, we have one verifiable unique event, something inexplicable by our current understanding, the Big Bang. However, one can argue that as the physical universe didn’t really exist at the instant of the Big Bang, it’s likely that we’ll never actually be able to investigate it in a way that leads us to a satisfactory understanding. We’ve got no place to stand to use a lever, in this case.

            However, we have as yet a possible second unique event, one that is actually embedded inside the Universe and is therefore actually subject to the laws of the party: the development of intelligent life.

            If we somehow manage to get off this rock, and explore a statistically meaningful chunk of the rest of the Universe, and find no other life (let alone no other intelligent life), then we have reasonable grounds to believe that intelligent life represents a unique event in the lifespan of the Universe.

            Anything sufficiently probable to occur once in a sufficiently large number of trials ought to roughly occur twice in double that number of trials. If there’s life here, and life ain’t no miracle, then it ought to be somewhere else too.

            If we find some, then the jury’s still out. But if we don’t find any (assuming the investigation becomes possible, which is itself not likely of course), that is sufficient empirical evidence for me to allow for the presence of miracles in the Universe. And that’s sufficient for me to say, that’s empirical evidence (not proof, mind you, as there are other explanations, but evidence anyway) that an active God might be around somewhere.

            Lemme know if you think of any others. I still come back to the question every once in a while.

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            • Thx for asking, Pat. I think about that too.

              I sometimes think that man is all there is in the way of self-aware consciousness in the universe, and that he seems hard-wired to ask “why” is plenty enough, that the creator put the whole universe here for man to wonder at.

              But if he littered this universe with uncountable zillions of other such beings, that would be cool too. Like the countable permutations of man and cultures and philosophies, if we uncountables could get together to compare notes, that would be very cool too. In the end, we would learn more about ourselves.

              Philosophers aspire to play that role, unbiased observers of the human condition, thinkers thinking about what is universal truth and not habit, convention or superstition. I suppose if we had plenty and good enough philosophers, aliens would be superfluous.

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          • I didn’t mean to imply to imply, Tom, that you were a creationist, merely that the types of assaults that climate scientists and biologists get from denialists and creationists, respectively, are similar: they don’t fight the science, they fight the public opinion.

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      • Tom, I’m not going to correct you. I just don’t really understand the content of that allegation. Real Climate is a website with an “about” page claiming it’s “a commentary site on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists. We aim to provide a quick response to developing stories and provide the context sometimes missing in mainstream commentary. The discussion here is restricted to scientific topics and will not get involved in any political or economic implications of the science.” My understanding of the site has always been that it’s run by climate scientists who want to respond to attacks on the AGW theory, themselves, and their profession in a public forum. So, the complaint here is that they’re claiming to be an objective forum of discussion, while appealing via email to climate scientists who support the global warming theory to think of them, off the record, as a resource, right? Also that they suppress the comments of skeptics? I’m willing to accept that this speaks poorly of the website, although it’s still not clear to me why Real Climate being a mouthpiece of climate scientists who accept the AGW theory is a revelation. And, if it helps, maybe they’re bad people to boot. Maybe it’s a lousy website.

        But how do I get from that to Tracinski’s conclusion that the scientific “consensus” on global warming is actually the largest scientific fraud in human history?

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        • Tom, to continue, it seems to me that there’s a soft criticism of the global warming theory and a hard criticism, and I’d imagine you’re more comfortable with the soft criticism. Actually, I am too. It goes something like, “the science is not as settled on this topic as the doom & gloom politicians with sweeping policy proposals claim it is. We need to be careful here.” That, to me, is a reasonable argument. I think I said something like this to my wife after we watched the Al Gore hagiography.

          But the hard argument begins with the assertion that the AGW theory is self-evidently ridiculous or wrong. Then, when you ask, what about all the studies that seem to support the theory, the response is that those studies are not really science, but are instead politics, propaganda, fraud, and so forth. This argument I don’t find entirely implausible, but it is pretty far-fetched to me.

          You want to argue that people might have made mistakes somewhere along the line, that they’ve circled the wagons after being accused for years of perpetuating the largest fraud in human history, and that they’ve acted like jerks at times? Sure, go ahead. People are indeed imperfect. But that doesn’t get me to the conclusion that this one particular area of research is so corrupted by “politics” that every study that contradicts the beliefs of the skeptics is self-evidently fraudulent.

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          • Rufus, thx for the considered replies. Like you, I’m soft on AGW either way. But I don’t trust the academic establishment a whit when it comes to any scientific controversy with partisan overtones. Weasels, squirrels and lemmings.

            Near as I get him, Bjørn Lomborg is not a denier, only a “let’s put it in perspective” guy. AGW is not a major crisis, and the policy solutions offered are elephant guns vs. mosquitoes, and the collateral economic damage would defy all sense of proportion.

            Lomborg is the anti-environmental anti-Christ, not fellow like out new friend Mr. Smith.

            But that doesn’t get me to the conclusion that this one particular area of research is so corrupted by “politics” that every study that contradicts the beliefs of the skeptics is self-evidently fraudulent.

            I do submit that any area of research that is subject to the corruption of ideology and partisan politics warrants strict scrutiny. You yourself note that the RealClimate site is unabashedly and self-admittedly an advocacy site, not a science site, a rapid response team.

            My skepticism extends to “peer review” as a tool of orthodoxy and not inquiry, an inevitable vulnerability of all human establishments. But that’s the meta-argument.

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            • > My skepticism extends to “peer review” as
              > a tool of orthodoxy and not inquiry

              This is a potential problem with peer review. Historically, it’s somewhat compensated for by a couple of factors, the first one, most reviewees are younger folk, as the older researchers have tendency to not participate as vigorously in the publishing process.

              There are lots of other problems with peer review, too (it completely removes negative results from the communal knowledge base and for crying out loud there has to be a way of keeping track of that, it would save *everybody* scads of time) but it’s demonstrably the case that you need some sort of gatekeeping function to keep utter bullshit from taking up your day. I personally don’t have time to read all of the IS literature. If you added every Tom, Dick, and Harry’s random musing I’d have to get through dozens of abstracts that sound reasonably plausible until I get far enough into the paper to say, “Oh, this guy is a nut.” Hell, I don’t like about a third of what I read that’s published, in terms of methodology or (more often) conclusion.

              Peer review is like democracy. It sucks in a lot of ways, but I don’t have a viable alternative.

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            • The meta-argument is an interesting one, Tom, but I guess I see what you’re talking about as more of a potential pitfall of the peer review process than a feature of the process. As for academics being squirrels, lemmings, and weasels, you realize I’m going to part ways with you on that, right? Lately, I’m finding there are huge swaths of the left where I go to take a powder when they start talking about businessmen-as-such and huge swaths of the right where I have to ask for the check, please when they start talking about academics-as-such or “so called ‘scientists” as such. I’m maybe old enough now to be the establishment. On occasion, I do wear a grey flannel suit.

              At any rate, I don’t actually think you were doing that. I understand the impetus on keeping a jaundiced eye out, but it’s only fair then to acknowledge that, if the peer review process poses the danger of reinforcing an orthodoxy, the way academics actually make their name in America incentivizes the hell out of them arguing with each other constantly and proclaiming (sometimes even proving) that everyone before them was wrong. It’s one of the strangest aspects of American academic publishing, in fact. You can read French scholarly works that at no time assert that they’re saying something completetly new that will challenge everything we’ve thought thus far on their topic. But about 99% of American scholarly books will assert they’re doing that in the introduction. Most of them at least try to do so. It’s how people get jobs. Sure, frequently it’s just bioviation or bullshit, but it’s at least worth acknowledging that there’s big money in upsetting the apple cart, contrary to popular belief.

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              • Thx Rufus. My meta- is specifically concerned with real-world issues with partisan overtones. I do not trust the even-handedness of the weasels, squirrels and lemmings—not so much as dishonest people, but per peer pressure, to which we’re all vulnerable.

                There’s also the added dimension of social/professional ostracism, and there are plenty of anecdotes for that, by virtually any academic who falls outside accepted boundaries of [left] political orthodoxy. Google Harvey Mansfield.

                As for string theory or French poetry, I trust the academics well enough, I suppose. But as an academic you know, even those battles can become bloodsport.

                This semi-famous essay has stuck with me for years, perhaps you’re already familiar:

                http://www.sfu.ca/~swartz/blood_sport.htm

                Add in current partisan politics, and it’s a powderkeg, boom.

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        • Rufus, when the line between scholarship and advocacy gets blurred, I cannot separate the emotion from the idea. Worse, I don’t think the author can either. I never liked the idea that the intellect is slave to the passions [Hume, yes?], but experience is bringing me around to agreement.

          Further, there are personal and professional pressures in the academy—not to mention the ‘follow the money” argument that each side uses on AGW, and perhaps both are right.

          My meta-argument, a suspicion of the integrity of the academy [peer-review, “consensus,” etc.] is based not on the AGW issue but far less important ones, triggered by my own studies of the scholars and prevailing wisdom on such “dead” issues as philosophy and history. And fishing forget sociology. Once our contemporary partisan battles are in play, I don’t trust a goddam one of them.

          They are people too, afterall. A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest. Lie-la-lie, lie-la-lie.

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          • 1. A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.
            2. Tom Van Dyke is a man.
            3. Thus…

            :)

            I understand your concerns about men and the passions and I certainly try a lot harder to mitigate those passions in my academic work than I do here. But, as long as universities are staffed by humans, we’re going to have to be vigilant. Lord knows there are admins trying to figure out how to do away with the need to staff them with humans.

            It’s funny you mention Hume. I’m just about to reread that treatise. I remember it begins with the notion that all ideas come to the mind first by the senses, and then goes all sorts of places from there. Does he say that the intellect is slave to the passions? Maybe so. I remember he’s going quite a few steps beyond Locke in there and that he wrote one of the more important works of Western philosophy when he was about a decade younger than I am now. Sigh.

            I think I’ll jump ahead on the canon and talk about the Empiricists, Rousseau, Condorcet and the rest in the Fall, if nobody objects. Yes?

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            • Got me, Rufus. I’m as vulnerable as anyone to bias, of course.

              My concern is peer pressure in the academy, and indeed perhaps the threat to one’s career if they step out of line.

              And of course there was Jonathan Haidt’s speech awhile back, where he reported great difficulty in even finding a “conservative” social psychologist.

              Now, Haidt does not charge bias as I do, but admits, “The problem is rather that the sum total of research on a topic does not address the full range of questions that would be asked, and psychological mechanisms that would be investigated, if our field contained more ideological diversity.”

              Close enough to my reservations, that perhaps needed questions are not asked. [I do not charge dishonesty on the part of the academy on the whole either. I believe they honestly believe what they believe.]

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              • Admittedly, I’m not the best person to ask about this right now. You’re catching me at a time in which absolutely nobody is hiring in my field, nobody I know personally can land a long-term position, and we’re all wondering how long we can make due with these random $125/week one-semester adjunct gigs all over hell and back before throwing in the towel; meawhile, everyone’s saying this “adjunctification” of academia is going to be the new norm. So, as a temp, I’m not in a position in which I can step out of line either, although honestly that has a lore more to do with “student satisfaction” than political pressure at my university. Maybe that political pressure kicks in if you end up on the tenure track, but not for us plebs. Here’s a deal- if conservatives start pushing for the universities to start actually hiring people again for tenure track positions, instead of so many of them pushing for the abolition of tenure altogther, I’ll gladly push for the universities to hire more conservatives.

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                • Rufus, my argument isn’t for affirmative action for conservatives, but a rejection of being ruled by the social scientists and their social science. This has been the trend for over a century: call it “scientism” or simply “modernity.” In ordering our society, we are urged to defer to the “experts.”

                  I think Will Wilkinson did a good job here

                  http://blogs.forbes.com/willwilkinson/2011/03/03/the-case-of-the-missing-conservative-social-psychologists/

                  and I’ll quote Haidt himself via WW:

                  “Sacred values,” Haidt said, “act like a powerful electromagnet, generating moral flux lines. Everyone and everything must fall into place along those lines. … Within a moral force field, deviance is deeply disturbing. Apostates and heretics must be banished or executed.”

                  This applies to religion of course, but the very self-professed “value-free” empiricism the academy prides itself on by definition is to me far from self-evident. We are assured that what appears to be leftist orthodoxy is simply [or synonymous with] empirical truth. But I believe there are “sacred values” at work here. And I do think the academy does its share of executing heretics [and esp apostates].

                  I fear there are many necessary questions that go unasked per the above. Social science can make valid arguments based on incomplete data, but “valid” isn’t the same as true.

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    • Madness. Simple madness. Your quarrel, you silly man, is not with anyone here or what we have to say. You have, thus far, put up 5,116 contumacious words in the comments and have changed no minds at all.

      This should come as no surprise to you, for your arguments are all borrowed and your missionarying skills have all the appeal of a whiskey fart. Furthermore, it is a miracle you have not wrenched your shoulder out of joint patting yourself on the back so vigorously. Matthew’s Gospel at chapter 6 observes we ought not to pray using vain repetitions, for we shall not be heard for their much speaking.

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    • > “If nothing else, it’s a sign that you regard the
      > research community as fundamentally unserious.”
      > You put in no qualifier and your later comments
      > (87) merely reinforced your meme. Denying it
      > now would be – unserious.

      If you put the emphasis on “it’s a sign” as opposed to “regard the research community”, does that change how you interpreted the statement? “It’s a sign” was a point that it’s a bit of evidence leading me to a conclusion. That’s somewhat different than “I think you are defaming *all* of science and academia”. This is one of those “I think this lacks tact” moments.

      > Fortunately for us we aren’t facing a minimum of
      > $14TRILLION spent to deal with a dark matter
      > menace

      If the minimum was $150, would this change your opinion on the matter? Why does how much it costs factor into this discussion? If the science is good, it’s good. If it’s not good, it’s not good. If you don’t want to mitigate at that cost, that’s an entirely separate discussion, no? I might believe in AGW and then think we shouldn’t do a damn thing about it.

      > Nor are governments and industries held hostage

      At the moment, I see no credible reason to characterize anti-AGW legislation in this manner. In fact, I find it politically unlikely that the U.S. populace is going to take any steps whatsoever to do what is necessary to have a meaningful impact on carbon emissions. That’s another entirely separate discussion, though.

      In any event, my country has spent almost 7 trillion fucking dollars on the military since 2000, and I wholeheartedly disagree with about 80% of that expenditure. So if we’re talking about the country spending too much money on something stupid, howzabout we start talking about money that we’ve already spent and demonstrably continue to spend, instead of arguing about money that nobody has yet added to a budget proposal?

      > At what time and place is it acceptable to add into the
      > question the guaranteed acceptance of said question
      > by inserting “appeal to authority”

      My dear sir, an appeal to authority is a fallacy when the appeal is to someone who is not, in fact, an authority. If the person in question is, in fact, an authority… it’s typically called “evidence”. If you choose to reject the consensus opinion on AGW, that’s fine with me, but you’re still not giving me any real reason to refute this consensus opinion based upon the credentials of the authorities in question. Any one individual researcher may be a blithering incompetent. Any one individual researcher may falsify his or her results. It’s even possible that a small group of researchers will falsify their results and get away with it.

      When it’s reported to me that over 90% of some large number of climatologists surveyed support AGW, it would seem to me that the proper step to take would either accept this as strong evidence or begin investigating the 90% in question to see if they’re all blithering idiots. Also, investigating the methodology whereby 90% of a given field all are awarded PhDs in spite of being a bunch of blithering idiots. You’re not doing any of that work, nor are you giving me any compelling reason to believe that such a scenario is even plausible. Even should I regard the evidence you cite against CRU and Mann as in fact damning evidence, that doesn’t explain the other climatologists who agree with AGW as a theory.

      > The one where Jones says he’ll delete (and obviously
      > has) public data? That’s acceptable to you as a
      > scientist because he’s part of the “dominant theory”?

      No, in fact, it’s not. Although I can certainly understand someone not wanting to invite someone that they believe to be a shill for Big Oil into their research methodology, that does not excuse this behavior. Of course, it’s not necessarily a sign that the science is bad if you think he may have done something bad for what he believed to be good reasons. In any event, Jones’s methodology and data set aren’t the only one supporting AGW.

      Hey, let’s do this: I’ll grant you that Mann and Jones are both actually completely fabricating their entire academic careers. And I’ll grant you that Penn State has for some reason given Mann a pass and buried deliberate academic malfeasance. I’ll even go one step further and give you a gigantic international conspiracy to collude to produce the IPCC report… for uh, some unknown reason hundreds of researchers in multiple countries all want to utterly tank their own economies just to screw over 5 companies.

      I don’t believe that last one for one second, but okay. So explain to me the other climate scientists and the other research centers and the utter lack of a statistically large number of publications in the last two decades supporting your stance (all the other points I’ve made) without referring to either Jones or Mann. We can take those two guys out back and shoot them later.

      > I prefer dry, boring articles where questions are asked,
      > methodologies are examined and results are pondered.

      So do I. As yet, though, I have no real reason to reject someone’s research based upon their writing style.

      > Releasing preliminary information without all the
      > underlying caveats and explanations of methods is
      > premature

      This is, in fact, something multiply disclaimed on the Berkeley Earth Science Project’s page. I bring up Muller because he was raged against (by exactly the dogmatic treehuggers you presumably dislike) as being in the pocket of the Koch brothers, and everyone on the environmental Left was frothing at the mouth assuming that Muller would come out with some biased study refuting AGW. In other words, those whom I call the crazy left was treating Muller the same way they were decrying what they termed the crazy right for treating Mann, prior to one bit of published anything. Instead, Muller’s team seems (so far) to be confirming Mann’s work, even though Muller himself is on record as being critical of Mann. I’m wondering if you would regard Muller’s study, when its completed, as joke science or not.

      > you’ll somehow claim it doesn’t mean anything and
      > doesn’t represent a “conspiracy”.

      Note: academics can be a pissy lot, and I’ve seen researchers decide as a group to boycott various conferences for various reasons that were petty but not in any way nefarious or even deleterious to science.

      Whether or not it means something isn’t relevant to whether or not it represents a plausible conspiracy.

      I accept, for the sake of argument, that there may be a conspiracy. What I don’t see is a possible conspiracy that explains the scope of the observable behavior. Conspiracies that cannot explain the breadth of the observable behavior seem very unlikely to me. And Mann being a Black Hat, or CRU being corrupt, does not explain the last 20 years of academic publishing in geophysical sciences, nor the other researchers who have different plots but the same overall confidence. It doesn’t explain IPCC – you need another conspiracy for that one. It doesn’t explain why the folk here at Caltech at the Resnick Institute believe in AGW. It doesn’t explain why Dr. Yung, here, has 100 papers in published journals and he believes in AGW. Eric Steig might be an asshole (lots of smart people are). Bad behavior on a blog is only marginally relevant.

      I expect we’re talking past each other at this point. You’re not actually answering my questions as I intend to ask them, but that may be because I’m not asking them well.

      Pity Glory and Oco both were lost on launch. I’ve got both ends of the conspiracy crowd giving it to me on that one; the rabid anti-Oil left telling me they were crashed on purpose to keep the doubt on AGW alive, and the rabid anti-AGW crowd telling me that they were lost on purpose to keep the orthodoxy alive.

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      • , I truly wonder whether you ever clicked on Adam’s article in the first place or just read the quoted portion? Doing a simple find for the word “believe” (which as we well know is a ‘sign 0f” what?) in this article shows one person (you) almost exclusively using the term. I’ll give you a hint, the word occurs in both politics and electronics. I’ll give you another hint, it is in Adam’s article spelled out. I’m quite certain you “believe” in AGW. I’m equally certain your dare I say “bias” is showing throughout. Furthermore your insinuation that I was damning all of academia was more than enough for other hounds here to jump on the scent, and I didn’t hear you correcting them for their misunderstanding. How soon from insinuation to accusation sir? Especially if others carry your water for you.

        Try being in the fossil fuel industry (especially coal) today and tell me that it isn’t held hostage. But as you have said that is another discussion.

        Appeal to authority: …it is not what the man of science believes that distinguishes him, but how and why he believes it. His beliefs are tentative, not dogmatic; they are based on evidence, not on authority or intuition. – Bertrand Russel.

        Not only is the evidence still out on AGW, but the witnesses are withholding it as I’ve already shown and as the article linked-to below still indicates is going on. There is I believe an attorney among the “gentlemen” who will be more than happy to inform you that at least in law a witness withholding information quite likely has something to hide. That the medical researcher (Nurse) quoted in the article (along with a suspicious number of Wards) happened to get his PhD from East Anglia is of course mere coincidence. I find it amusing that this comment (below article) has by far the highest user rating:
        So if members of the public look for information about a ‘science’ that has made some very shaky predictions and gotten egg on its face more than once, it could be evidence of harassment. Of course, it could be evidence of measured public skepticism which healthy democracies should encourage.

        Funny isn’t how academics seek to corner the market in academic freedom, while pouring suspicion on those outsiders seeking to explore their own bit of freedom of expression.

        The reason CRU (Climate Research Unit at East Anglia) is so important is that they are the temperature data repository for the entire world!. Want to know what the temp was in such and such a place? Got to CRU. Whoops, some or all of the data they’ve been compiling is now gone – missing. That means when BEST does a reconstruction they have to rely on interpolations between measuring stations rather than the point data previously archived. Is this a problem? You tell me, you’re a math whiz, in statistics is n important?

        Finally of course we have McIntyre himself asking is this a Nursery tale? since the insinuation (there’s that word again) is that he is the prime culprit “badgering” researchers. He’s already on the scent, but this particular hound is a bulldog, not to be trifled with once he suspects malfeasance as those with his canines on their posteriors can attest. The whole reason he created climataudit was because realclimate team members were debating with him, then were deleting his responses, then were claiming he was unresponsive to their arguments. But I digress.

        Is there a global conspiracy? Or is this just a meme that has been reinforced through countless retellings, elaborations, chicken little prognostications, 99% media support (100% of the mainstream media), ignorance is bliss followers and as Happer said, the “righteous cause” crowd. As for the supposed 10’s of thousands of papers, how many of them are real innovative research and how many are just rehashes of previously published results?

        Concerning the genesis of the “Consensus” in the first place, this quote from a *believer*:
        This is a complex issue, and your misrepresentation of it does you a
        dis-service. To someone like me, who knows the science, it is
        apparent that you are presenting a personal view, not an informed,
        balanced scientific assessment. What is unfortunate is that this will not
        be apparent to the vast majority of scientists you have contacted. In
        issues like this, scientists have an added responsibility to keep their
        personal views separate from the science, and to make it clear to others
        when they diverge from the objectivity they (hopefully) adhere to in their
        scientific research. I think you have failed to do this.

        Your approach of trying to gain scientific credibility for your personal
        views by asking people to endorse your letter is reprehensible. No
        scientist who wishes to maintain respect in the community should ever
        endorse any statement unless they have examined the issue fully
        themselves. You are asking people to prostitute themselves by doing just
        this! I fear that some will endorse your letter, in the mistaken belief
        that you are making a balanced and knowledgeable assessment of the science
        — when, in fact, you are presenting a flawed view that neither accords
        with IPCC nor with the bulk of the scientific and economic literature on
        the subject.

        It has been politicized ever since, the well has been poisoned and an ethical scientist cannot know whom to trust nor believe in this sad affair. As for TVD’s “Weasels, squirrels and lemming[s]”, they can even trap the unwary ethical scientist into their orthodoxy if she isn’t careful. There is a worldwide Milgram experiment going on here, you either join or you are outcast. I’ve had my own real life Milgram experience, I was of the (extreme) minority who said, “go to hell”. Life might be great as a lemming, if you’re a lemming I suppose. Adhering to an ethical core belief structure no matter what? Not so easy.

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        • > Furthermore your insinuation that I was
          > damning all of academia was more than
          > enough for other hounds here to jump on
          > the scent, and I didn’t hear you correcting
          > them for their misunderstanding.

          and

          > There is a worldwide Milgram experiment
          > going on here, you either join or you are outcast.

          I think you’re doing a good job of reinforcing that insinuation all by your lonesome, Ward. You can’t seem to get through a post without it. So if the rest of the commentariat is piling on, I’d go with, “You’re bringing it on yourself”, as opposed to, “All of these guys who routinely disagree with Pat on all sorts of affairs suddenly listen to him as if he is an Oracle.”

          Although I imagine I’d make a decent benevolent dictator, I don’t think the League is really all that into groupthink.

          > I’ve had my own real life Milgram experience,
          > I was of the (extreme) minority who said, “go to hell”.

          Do you accept the possibility that this may have provided you with a bias towards events that you associate with your experience?

          > The reason CRU (Climate Research Unit at East
          > Anglia) is so important is that they are the
          > temperature data repository for the entire world!.

          This is a factually completely incorrect claim, according to sources that I found with about 20 seconds worth of research. I’m firing off an email to a friend of mine at JPL to verify my understanding is correct.

          The folk at NASA, NOAA, and the USGS still maintain their raw data sets. CRU dumped their local copy of the raw data upon which they made their adjustments back in the 80s, which is largely unsurprising as the raw data was still available from the original source, and large capacity electronic storage devices were basically nonexistent back then.

          Those measurements are, to the best of my understanding, still available from their original sources, namely the NCDC and NASA Goddard. Do you contest this?

          > That means when BEST does a reconstruction they
          > have to rely on interpolations between measuring
          > stations rather than the point data previously archived.

          Dude. BEST is attempting to reconstruct the CRU data set from its original sources, using their own corrections for anomalies in station quality. That’s the *whole point of the exercise*.

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          • , re: Milgram, absolutely, it influences everything I do. I will expand on this in another thread here where it is more apropos and currently relevant.

            re: CRU data. BEST did not claim reconstruction of the missing CRU data anywhere on their site, which I just checked. At issue is GHCN-M (Global Historical Climatology Network – Monthly). Now of your “tens of thousands of published papers” roughly tens of thousands of them depend on GHCN-M. What is “missing” includes information directly related to the makeup of said data source, the data smoothing algorithms, statistical methods, raw data and more. Again if Jones had nothing to hide, why did he say things like, “Don’t leave stuff lying around on ftp sites,’ he warns, ‘you never know who is trawling them. The two MMs [McIntyre & McKitrick] have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone and “We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind” which he did.

            Perhaps you were busy changing the channel to the local rap station when NPR interviewed Muller:
            CONAN: And that’s, you would say, would be at the heart of the so-called Climategate story, where emails from some scientists seemed to be working to prevent the work of other scientists from appearing in peer-reviewed journals.

            Prof. MULLER: That really shook me up when I learned about that. I think that Climategate is a very unfortunate thing that happened, that the scientists who were involved in that, from what I’ve read, didn’t trust the public, didn’t even trust the scientific public. They were not showing the discordant data. That’s something that – as a scientist I was trained you always have to show the negative data, the data that disagrees with you, and then make the case that your case is stronger. And they were hiding the data, and a whole discussion of suppressing publications, I thought, was really unfortunate. It was not at a high point for science.

            And I really get even more upset when some other people say, Oh, science is just a human activity. This is the way it happens. You have to recognize, these are people. No, no, no, no. These are not scientific standards. You don’t hide the data. You don’t play with the peer review system.

            I fully applaud what BEST is doing, I personally wish they had more than a newly minted stats PhD working on the project but as Muller said, it is tedious work. Furthermore when BEST is done the dataset and their methods will be completely open and transparent, just like publicly funded science /should/ be.

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            • > Now of your “tens of thousands of published
              > papers” roughly tens of thousands of them
              > depend on GHCN-M.

              You’re saying that all the published papers depend upon a single data set. My reading is that this is incorrect. My reading may be wrong, but you’re going to have to support your claim with something more than an assertion.

              Why do you believe this to be the case? Have you seen a study that correlates papers with data sources? If you have, I’d love to see it. If you haven’t, then why do you make this assertion?

              Here’s a list of the four datasets used in IPCC:

              http://www.ipcc-data.org/obs/ar4_obs.html

              Note, as I’ve mentioned, the CRU dataset is not the only non-raw (ie, interpreted) dataset in use. And the others (from what I’ve read), are within a reasonable delta of the CRU dataset, with a differential explained by methodology.

              So either CRU didn’t nefariously mess with their data (and their actions have reasonable explanation), or they nefariously messed with their data but got results that were within a reasonable delta of everyone else’s interpreted data (so they are incompetent evil overlords and all of the audits of their actions gave them a clean bill of health for no reason whatsoever; they’re corrupt and deserve censure for it but the numbers are essentially correct and so everyone else using them is no big deal), or the composers of the other data sets *also* messed with *their* data, independently (huge conspiracy).

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              • , if you have the huevos read this speech with an open mind. Meant to send this 3 hours ago but have been on the phone nonstop.

                When I have the time later I will answer your questions and show you the common denominator you keep blithely missing. Also will correct your misunderstanding of set equivalence. ;)

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                • Ja, I read it.

                  Ward, I’ll grant you that among some political forces adoption of climate change policy is faith-based. There are people (predominantly on the left) who have accepted AGW on faith.

                  There are people who have taken the science and added their own narrative based largely upon their own narrative of best practices for public policy, who preach it on faith, and who treat people who disagree with their political narrative as heretics. Just like there are crazy eco-terrorists who firebomb car dealerships. That doesn’t make SUVs a great idea for personal transportation. It’s orthogonal to the underlying question.

                  > show you the common denominator you
                  > keep blithely missing

                  Hey, I totally grant that I might be missing something. If you can show it to me, that’s cool.

                  Be careful with assuming I misunderstand set equivalence, though. :P

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                • The NOAA and NASA sets are U.S., and from my reading raw measurements. The CRU data set is interpreted; it attempts to correct for inconsistencies in measurements to provide a uniform set. There is also a dataset compiled from a Russian source, about which I freely admit I’m am under-informed.

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              • , still don’t have time to do this justice but here goes more quick and dirty.

                Here’s a list of the four datasets used in IPCC:

                http://www.ipcc-data.org/obs/ar4_obs.html

                Oh really? Did you ever bother to click on the little blue links of the supposedly different datasets?

                Let’s just click on the “info” button of the first (apparently different) dataset from YOUR link shall we? After a redirect we immediately read the following:
                Note: Effective May 2, 2011, the GHCN-M version 3 dataset of monthly mean temperature replaced the GHCN-M version 2 monthly mean temperature dataset. Beginning with the April 2011 Global monthly State of the Climate Report, GHCN-M version 3 is used for NCDC climate monitoring activities, including calculation of global land surface temperature anomalies and trends.

                Now they are little smarter to my dirty little game of breaking the DaVinci code so instead of clicking on the “info” button for the next set and getting lost in the bloviation there, why not just click on the “data” button and see what that says shall we?

                GLOBAL Temperature Anomalies in 0.01 degrees Celsius base period: 1951-1980
                sources: GHCN 1880-04/2011 (meteorological stations only)
                using elimination of outliers and homogeneity adjustment
                Notes: 1941 DJF = Dec 1940 – Feb 1941 ; ***** = missing

                Now things become a little more sublime by your 4th record, clinking on “info” reveals:
                The mean monthly and annual values of surface air temperature compiled by Lugina et al. have been taken mainly from the World Weather Records, Monthly Climatic Data for the World, and Meteorological Data for Individual Years over the Northern Hemisphere Excluding the USSR. These published records were supplemented with information from different national publications

                I leave it as an exercise for the student (you) to find the dataset in question. BTW, I was a bit lazy before (and have a nasty papercut on my finger that makes typing a bloody nuisance – literally) so I didn’t bother listing all the datasets like HADCRUT3 and CRUTEM3 and so on that can all be visually parsed to include the magic letters “CRU” in them.

                Of course I could further back this up with an example link that pretty much puts another nail in a nail-filled coffin.

                On the “tens of thousands of papers” comment, I took your writer’s embellishment and parried it back to you. First the number is not a number and second if it were a number it would be an outright exaggeration. Be that as it may, I invite you as a brilliant mathematician to give me a set of numbers that satisfies both 10’s of thousands and “10’s of thousands” that are in fact not equivalent. Do you really want to play games with X/~ over this when you have a sinking feeling you are in fact on quicksand? ;)

                And yes, I would dearly love to have a beer with you, regardless of who buys. Not sure how that would work with me able to keep my identity secret. Perhaps you should just start accepting all drinking invitations with random strangers and ask yourself if one of them is me and not just an ax murder. I have had beers with a certain Stanford climate researcher who told me privately what I’m certain he would never admit to publicly, but I’m of the ethical makeup that what gets said while enjoying libations is of the confessional cloak. (A)

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              • , still don’t have time to do this justice but here goes more quick and dirty.

                Here’s a list of the four datasets used in IPCC:

                http://www.ipcc-data.org/obs/ar4_obs.html

                Oh really? Did you ever bother to click on the little blue links of the supposedly different datasets?

                Let’s just click on the “info” button of the first (apparently different) dataset from YOUR link shall we? After a redirect we immediately read the following:
                Note: Effective May 2, 2011, the GHCN-M version 3 dataset of monthly mean temperature replaced the GHCN-M version 2 monthly mean temperature dataset. Beginning with the April 2011 Global monthly State of the Climate Report, GHCN-M version 3 is used for NCDC climate monitoring activities, including calculation of global land surface temperature anomalies and trends.

                Now they are little smarter to my dirty little game of breaking the DaVinci code so instead of clicking on the “info” button for the next set and getting lost in the bloviation there, why not just click on the “data” button and see what that says shall we?

                GLOBAL Temperature Anomalies in 0.01 degrees Celsius base period: 1951-1980
                sources: GHCN 1880-04/2011 (meteorological stations only)
                using elimination of outliers and homogeneity adjustment
                Notes: 1941 DJF = Dec 1940 – Feb 1941 ; ***** = missing

                Now things become a little more sublime by your 4th record, clinking on “info” reveals:
                The mean monthly and annual values of surface air temperature compiled by Lugina et al. have been taken mainly from the World Weather Records, Monthly Climatic Data for the World, and Meteorological Data for Individual Years over the Northern Hemisphere Excluding the USSR. These published records were supplemented with information from different national publications

                I leave it as an exercise for the student (you) to find the dataset in question. BTW, I was a bit lazy before (and have a nasty papercut on my finger that makes typing a bloody nuisance – literally) so I didn’t bother listing all the datasets like HADCRUT3 and CRUTEM3 and so on that can all be visually parsed to include the magic letters “CRU” in them.

                Of course I could further back this up with an example link that pretty much puts another nail in a nail-filled coffin.

                On the “tens of thousands of papers” comment, I took your writer’s embellishment and parried it back to you. First the number is not a number and second if it were a number it would be an outright exaggeration. Be that as it may, I invite you as a brilliant mathematician to give me a set of numbers that satisfies both 10’s of thousands and “10’s of thousands” that are in fact not equivalent. Do you really want to play games with X/~ over this when you have a sinking feeling you are in fact on quicksand? ;)

                And yes, I would dearly love to have a beer with you, regardless of who buys. Not sure how that would work with me able to keep my identity secret. Perhaps you should just start accepting all drinking invitations with random strangers and ask yourself if one of them is me and not just an ax murder. I have had beers with a certain Stanford climate researcher who told me privately what I’m certain he would never admit to publicly, but I’m of the ethical makeup that what gets said while enjoying libations is of the confessional cloak. (A)

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                • > Effective May 2, 2011

                  This seems to be an important detail. Perhaps its not. Again, I’m told that at the time of IPCC, there were four distinct data sets, and I don’t see as yet a reason to revise that as being under contention.

                  > On the “tens of thousands of papers”
                  > comment, I took your writer’s embellishment
                  > and parried it back to you.

                  Oh, that’s fair. I freely admit I’m handwaving, albeit not entirely unreasonably. Here’s where I got the number:

                  Assuming the 200 number is relatively static (admittedly a big assume)

                  Assuming no more or less than a one article per issue is related to AGW either directly or tangentially (another big assume)

                  Average journal puts out 12 issues per year (assume, some are quarterly)

                  Times 25 years

                  gives an upper bound of 60,000 articles. That’s “tens of thousands”, but any of the above assumptions could be off by a large margin (although some may be off either way, you’ll grant).

                  Even if the actual number is only 1/10th of that, which is certainly a fair conservative number to use without either of us studying it robustly, that’s 6,000 articles on AGW. I still don’t find it plausible that they are all dependent upon a single data set. But if you can show me something to buttress that claim, I’ll look at it.

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                  • Had a great weekend, the grown kids have become fine young men, one even is working for Google now (glad he’s quitting Microsoft). In such a good mood I didn’t even want to continue the discussion and be accused of more “contumacious” language.

                    But in the interest of completeness, figured I’d clarify the last missing details and happily leave this entire thread in the dustheap of blogdom.

                    NCDC, which at first blush appears to be a different dataset on simple inspection proves to be based on the GHCN dataset as I proved above. The date is a red-herring – they were simply stating that the /current/ dataset is version 3, replacing the /previous/ dataset, version 2 (which no doubt supplanted the prior version 1). The GISS dataset likewise is based on the GHCN data. The only point in “contention” is the Lugina data, which I readily admit is only partially dependent on the GHCN data. My point, that the CRU data was the basis of the vast majority of both the literature and IPCC documents easily holds however on simple examination. Four datasets named, 3 directly use only the CRU data and the 4th partially uses the CRU data with some minor fill-in from some Russian stations. QED.

                    As for published papers, if 6K is real, than at minimum 2K rely on CRU data, 2K more refer to CRU data and the last 3rd presupposes CRU data and/or conclusions from the previous 66% of published articles.

                    30 seconds here got me six dense pages of papers, I could spend an hour or so I don’t have and create a fairly exhaustive listing of the entire “team”, but as I said, I’ve pretty much lost interest in this whole thing, changing (other’s) minds in general is simply a fool’s errand.

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    • IIRC, there was a deliberate attempt to use those laws for harrassment (e.g., ‘give us the data for zone A for year X’, followed by separate requests for data from each zone by each year).

      Or, in short, those who lost the scientific debate just keep trying………………….

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      • Barry:

        “Or, in short, those who lost the scientific debate just keep trying………………….”

        IIRC correctly some of those honest scientists had conversations saying they would violate the law and not release data. So, I don’t have any sympathy for them now.

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        • Do you believe in the idea of principled opposition to misuse of law?

          We can argue about “principled” and “misused” in a minute. I’m just grokking out if it is ever okay, to Scott, to disobey the law and still retain your sympathy.

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