The new rejection of science and reason

Liberals were aghast at President Bush, that pro-life evangelical Christian, for his alleged hostility to science. But Victor Davis Hanson argues that it is the current administration of President Obama and his postmodernist supporters who are showing the greatest hostility, not only to science, but to reason itself:

Barack Obama promised us not only transparency, but also a new respect for science. In soothing tones, he asserted that his administration was “restoring scientific integrity to government decision-making.”

In our new Enlightenment of Ivy League Guardians, we were to return to the rule of reason and logic. Obama would lead us away from the superstitious world of Bush’s evangelical Christianity, “intelligent design,” and Neanderthal moral opposition to human-embryo stem-cell research.

Instead, we are seeing an unprecedented distortion of science — indeed, an attack on the inductive method itself. Facts and reason are trumped by Chicago-style politics, politically correct dogma, and postmodern relativism.

He goes on to show what he means by discussing the government’s handling of the economy, the party line on global warming, and the treatment of radical Muslims such as Maj. Hasan. He concludes:

In short, we are witnessing the rise of a new deductive, anti-scientific age.

Instead of Christian, southern-twanged fundamentalists, we see instead kinder, gentler federal bureaucrats, globetrotting Ph.D.s, liberal hucksters, and politically correct diversity officers.

All are committed to the medieval fallacy that exalted theoretical ends justify very real tawdry means.

The result is the triumph of superstition, and the dethronement of science.

So does this herald what will come after postmodernism? Secularized superstition?

Notice that there isn’t much relativism among the true believers on the left, unless they are trying to undermine objective religions and philosophies. They themselves are very dogmatic about what they believe and about what they expect others to believe.

HT: Bruce Gee

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://uest fws

    I think the point is missed if we do not see that the same error can clothe itself in both gwbush and obama.

    liberal protestants look identical to the fundamentalist evangelicals they are a direct reaction to. same logic and overreliance upon it. same framework and points of reference.

    the only difference is what they fantasize a “fixed ” world is supposed to look like.

    for christians, we can and must give importance to the claim that the poor the widows and the orphans have upon us, but we should never think “fix” we should think damage control, or palliatives.

  • http://uest fws

    I think the point is missed if we do not see that the same error can clothe itself in both gwbush and obama.

    liberal protestants look identical to the fundamentalist evangelicals they are a direct reaction to. same logic and overreliance upon it. same framework and points of reference.

    the only difference is what they fantasize a “fixed ” world is supposed to look like.

    for christians, we can and must give importance to the claim that the poor the widows and the orphans have upon us, but we should never think “fix” we should think damage control, or palliatives.

  • Dan Kempin

    “Secular” is probably a word that should no longer be applied, since it implies a distinction from religious thought. This, as you say, is very dogmatic and behaves as a religion. It is not “secularized superstition.” It is just superstition. Another “new religion.” Another dark age. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

  • Dan Kempin

    “Secular” is probably a word that should no longer be applied, since it implies a distinction from religious thought. This, as you say, is very dogmatic and behaves as a religion. It is not “secularized superstition.” It is just superstition. Another “new religion.” Another dark age. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Note, also, that these medieval ideologues require penance for sins against their superstitious liberal pieties. Those who oppose government health care will be made to pay a severe economic and medical well being price. Those scientists who question the presumed anthropogenic crisis of global warming cannot get funding and are banned from the established scientific journals; the people who commit the sin of emitting CO2 are made to pay severely for indulgences through “cap and trade.” Principled religious people who question the pieties of “gay” behavior and marriage are placed in figurative stocks with the label of “homophobe” or “bigot.” Millions of potential human beings are slaughtered yearly in the name of “choice.”

    A good book to read on this parlous scene, which has much of its roots in the French Revolution would be Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism

  • Peter Leavitt

    Note, also, that these medieval ideologues require penance for sins against their superstitious liberal pieties. Those who oppose government health care will be made to pay a severe economic and medical well being price. Those scientists who question the presumed anthropogenic crisis of global warming cannot get funding and are banned from the established scientific journals; the people who commit the sin of emitting CO2 are made to pay severely for indulgences through “cap and trade.” Principled religious people who question the pieties of “gay” behavior and marriage are placed in figurative stocks with the label of “homophobe” or “bigot.” Millions of potential human beings are slaughtered yearly in the name of “choice.”

    A good book to read on this parlous scene, which has much of its roots in the French Revolution would be Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism

  • John C

    Global warming, abortion, gay marriage are not just Liberal concerns. Support for these issues does cross political boundaries. It’s all relative Peter.
    To apply ‘the triumph of superstition and the dethronement of science’ to the first year of a democrat administration after 8 years of GWB is just risible – a sin against hyperbole.
    We have just passed through a dark age and you think we are in another one Dan. Fair go mate, steady on, she’ll be right.

  • John C

    Global warming, abortion, gay marriage are not just Liberal concerns. Support for these issues does cross political boundaries. It’s all relative Peter.
    To apply ‘the triumph of superstition and the dethronement of science’ to the first year of a democrat administration after 8 years of GWB is just risible – a sin against hyperbole.
    We have just passed through a dark age and you think we are in another one Dan. Fair go mate, steady on, she’ll be right.

  • DonS

    As long as science matches political agendas, it has integrity. And, we will ensure that it matches those political agendas by funding and rewarding those “scientists” whose research supports the correct conclusions. Those who oppose the “truth”, as the establishment knows it, will be marginalized, ridiculed, denied publication privileges, and de-funded. Apparently, the new scientific method is to consult the politicians, develop your hypotheses accordingly, then ensure that your data supports those hypotheses, by any means necessary. After all, it is the end that matters, not the means to that end.

    Tolerance does not extend to those who dare to disagree with the officially tolerant viewpoints. This we immediately know, for example, upon visitation to any well known Institute of Higher Learning.

    The Scopes trial in 1925 occurred because a high school teacher wanted to teach evolution alongside creation in a public school. The Forces of Enlightenment argued that this was necessary and proper because a school was a place of learning and children deserved the opportunity to be exposed to many different ideas and viewpoints. So, how do those same Forces of Enlightenment respond today, a scant 80 years later, when a science teacher even allows the possibility of a possible Intelligent Designer in a public school classroom?

  • DonS

    As long as science matches political agendas, it has integrity. And, we will ensure that it matches those political agendas by funding and rewarding those “scientists” whose research supports the correct conclusions. Those who oppose the “truth”, as the establishment knows it, will be marginalized, ridiculed, denied publication privileges, and de-funded. Apparently, the new scientific method is to consult the politicians, develop your hypotheses accordingly, then ensure that your data supports those hypotheses, by any means necessary. After all, it is the end that matters, not the means to that end.

    Tolerance does not extend to those who dare to disagree with the officially tolerant viewpoints. This we immediately know, for example, upon visitation to any well known Institute of Higher Learning.

    The Scopes trial in 1925 occurred because a high school teacher wanted to teach evolution alongside creation in a public school. The Forces of Enlightenment argued that this was necessary and proper because a school was a place of learning and children deserved the opportunity to be exposed to many different ideas and viewpoints. So, how do those same Forces of Enlightenment respond today, a scant 80 years later, when a science teacher even allows the possibility of a possible Intelligent Designer in a public school classroom?

  • dave

    I guess Hanson is saying and Veith is agreeing that if you hold a different position than them on these issues, you are disagreeing with “reason”.

    Nice.

    Oh and thanks for blaming liberals like me for the treatment of Hasan.

  • dave

    I guess Hanson is saying and Veith is agreeing that if you hold a different position than them on these issues, you are disagreeing with “reason”.

    Nice.

    Oh and thanks for blaming liberals like me for the treatment of Hasan.

  • Bruce Gee

    Well, no, Dave. I think to a certain degree Hanson has his tongue in his cheek. Maybe he’s pulling your chain a little. He’s playing with the idea– and giving examples of it from real life–that the American media and academia may be tending toward something a bit dysfunctional and irrational. You, as a liberal, may be able to come up similar examples from the conservative side of things. But don’t, please, take it quite so personally. He’s just having some fun with us.

  • Bruce Gee

    Well, no, Dave. I think to a certain degree Hanson has his tongue in his cheek. Maybe he’s pulling your chain a little. He’s playing with the idea– and giving examples of it from real life–that the American media and academia may be tending toward something a bit dysfunctional and irrational. You, as a liberal, may be able to come up similar examples from the conservative side of things. But don’t, please, take it quite so personally. He’s just having some fun with us.

  • John C

    One more time Don. Intelligent Design is not science and does not belong in the science curriculum. Its inspiration and support is entirely religious.
    As an aside, I do that extreme Islamists in Turkey and Britain support ID and are trying to remove evolution from the science curriculum — the extremes of the Abrahamic faiths do have a lot in common.

  • John C

    One more time Don. Intelligent Design is not science and does not belong in the science curriculum. Its inspiration and support is entirely religious.
    As an aside, I do that extreme Islamists in Turkey and Britain support ID and are trying to remove evolution from the science curriculum — the extremes of the Abrahamic faiths do have a lot in common.

  • http://www.geneveith.com geneveith

    John, how can, say, Michael Behe’s books on the irreducible complexity of cells not be science? Maybe you disagree with what he says–though it is more frequently dismissed than answered (which doesn’t seem very scientific)–but you remove it from the whole realm of consideration.

  • http://www.geneveith.com geneveith

    John, how can, say, Michael Behe’s books on the irreducible complexity of cells not be science? Maybe you disagree with what he says–though it is more frequently dismissed than answered (which doesn’t seem very scientific)–but you remove it from the whole realm of consideration.

  • DonS

    John @ 8: Science is a methodology of developing and testing hypotheses, based on observation and experimentation. When it comes to origins, there is no possibility of direct observation, because no one was there. Any fossil evidence which has been developed is acknowledged even by adamant evolutionist scientists to be incomplete, and to thus require an element of “faith” in order to support the hypothesis of evolutionary theory. Strictly speaking, evolutionary science is not “science”, because it is not provable and cannot be confirmed by observation. Therefore, since the evidence does not preclude it,the best scientific approach would at least allow for the possibility of alternative origin modes, including that of an intelligent designer.

    I watched a TV program not long ago, during which a scientist having preeminent credentials in the field of origin science, Richard Dawkins, postulated that perhaps intelligent aliens seeded our world with life long ago. Anything to avoid uttering the word “God”, I guess. Much better for avoiding accountability.

    My larger point, though, was that the open minded authorities of the day, tolerant as they claim to be, are actually militant oppressors of ideas and philosophies other than their own. In my earlier post, substitute “social science teacher” for “science teacher”, and he/she will still be prohibited from referencing God in any way in the classroom.

  • DonS

    John @ 8: Science is a methodology of developing and testing hypotheses, based on observation and experimentation. When it comes to origins, there is no possibility of direct observation, because no one was there. Any fossil evidence which has been developed is acknowledged even by adamant evolutionist scientists to be incomplete, and to thus require an element of “faith” in order to support the hypothesis of evolutionary theory. Strictly speaking, evolutionary science is not “science”, because it is not provable and cannot be confirmed by observation. Therefore, since the evidence does not preclude it,the best scientific approach would at least allow for the possibility of alternative origin modes, including that of an intelligent designer.

    I watched a TV program not long ago, during which a scientist having preeminent credentials in the field of origin science, Richard Dawkins, postulated that perhaps intelligent aliens seeded our world with life long ago. Anything to avoid uttering the word “God”, I guess. Much better for avoiding accountability.

    My larger point, though, was that the open minded authorities of the day, tolerant as they claim to be, are actually militant oppressors of ideas and philosophies other than their own. In my earlier post, substitute “social science teacher” for “science teacher”, and he/she will still be prohibited from referencing God in any way in the classroom.

  • Bruce Gee

    In Thomas Kuhn’s book THE STRUCTURE OF SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTIONS he gives a basic history of science that includes one example after another of what he originally called “paradigm shifts”, where scientific thought went through a usually brutal reorientation to a higher level of thinking and insight. It almost always was accompanied by politics to the extreme. This has always been with us and always will be. It may be helpful to keep this in mind when observing the monied fields of scientific investigation that are ongoing.

    Having said that, it seems that as we’ve advanced, the risks have risen exponentially. We are able to do much more harm with our new fields of knowledge than ever before. So scientific and political pushback will be harder than ever to achieve and take much more effort than ever before.

  • Bruce Gee

    In Thomas Kuhn’s book THE STRUCTURE OF SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTIONS he gives a basic history of science that includes one example after another of what he originally called “paradigm shifts”, where scientific thought went through a usually brutal reorientation to a higher level of thinking and insight. It almost always was accompanied by politics to the extreme. This has always been with us and always will be. It may be helpful to keep this in mind when observing the monied fields of scientific investigation that are ongoing.

    Having said that, it seems that as we’ve advanced, the risks have risen exponentially. We are able to do much more harm with our new fields of knowledge than ever before. So scientific and political pushback will be harder than ever to achieve and take much more effort than ever before.

  • John C

    Michael Behe’s theory of irreducible design is not science Gene because the theory has been repeatedly and extensively rejected by the scientific community.
    Quoting Wikipedia, ‘in the Kitzmiller v Dover Area School District Trial, the court found that Professor Behe’s claim for irreducible complexity has been refuted in peer reviewed research papers and has been rejected by the scientific community at large’
    The judge, a conservative republican appointed by GW Bush, barred the teaching of Intelligent Design in Science class rooms.
    There is no ‘element Of faith’ in Science Don. Science is based on observable data. Evolution occurs daily in petrie dishes and in experiments with fruit flies.Just compare the similarity of a chimps DNA to that of an evolutionary biologist Don.
    Have faith ,good ideas cannot be supressed forever. I can assure though, ID is not on of them.

  • John C

    Michael Behe’s theory of irreducible design is not science Gene because the theory has been repeatedly and extensively rejected by the scientific community.
    Quoting Wikipedia, ‘in the Kitzmiller v Dover Area School District Trial, the court found that Professor Behe’s claim for irreducible complexity has been refuted in peer reviewed research papers and has been rejected by the scientific community at large’
    The judge, a conservative republican appointed by GW Bush, barred the teaching of Intelligent Design in Science class rooms.
    There is no ‘element Of faith’ in Science Don. Science is based on observable data. Evolution occurs daily in petrie dishes and in experiments with fruit flies.Just compare the similarity of a chimps DNA to that of an evolutionary biologist Don.
    Have faith ,good ideas cannot be supressed forever. I can assure though, ID is not on of them.

  • DonS

    John: Yes, I agree that science is based on observable data. That is the problem with origin theory. Most of the data has been lost over time (according to the theories, billions of years), and all that remains are scraps of fossilized data which have been pieced together to support theories. We have no way of knowing if that fossilized data can be linearly extrapolated to determine anything about the past, nor of knowing if physical laws have been unchanged since the origins. Even the most hard-core evolutionary scientists acknowledge that the evidence for evolution is not conclusive — there are serious gaps. The gaps are filled by faith — in the theories. The micro evolution which has been demonstrated in petrie dishes and the like, occurring over mere moments in time, is not comparable to the macro evolution posited in evolutionary theory.

    I cannot argue with your observation as to the similarity of a chimp’s DNA to that of an evolutionary biologist. :-) However, why does that not speak to the existence of an intelligent designer?

    And speaking of that issue, John, it appears that you do not believe that God had any part in creation. I would be interested in learning of your faith journey, and where you stand with respect to your belief in God today.

  • DonS

    John: Yes, I agree that science is based on observable data. That is the problem with origin theory. Most of the data has been lost over time (according to the theories, billions of years), and all that remains are scraps of fossilized data which have been pieced together to support theories. We have no way of knowing if that fossilized data can be linearly extrapolated to determine anything about the past, nor of knowing if physical laws have been unchanged since the origins. Even the most hard-core evolutionary scientists acknowledge that the evidence for evolution is not conclusive — there are serious gaps. The gaps are filled by faith — in the theories. The micro evolution which has been demonstrated in petrie dishes and the like, occurring over mere moments in time, is not comparable to the macro evolution posited in evolutionary theory.

    I cannot argue with your observation as to the similarity of a chimp’s DNA to that of an evolutionary biologist. :-) However, why does that not speak to the existence of an intelligent designer?

    And speaking of that issue, John, it appears that you do not believe that God had any part in creation. I would be interested in learning of your faith journey, and where you stand with respect to your belief in God today.

  • DonS

    John:

    One more point concerning the reliability of our peer-reviewed scientific community. I don’t know how old you are, but I was in school 35 or so years ago when the scientific community was adamant in insisting that we had a global cooling crisis because of particulate pollution. You can go back and read all of the journal articles on this, even today. Of course, now the “evidence” allegedly conclusively proves the exact opposite — a global warming crisis. Although I am a scientist, I am highly skeptical of “conclusive” pronouncements from the scientific community about theories which are proven using extrapolated data. This approach violates classic scientific method, and these scientists have no business stating their conclusions in such a positive way. It is irresponsible and highly political.

  • DonS

    John:

    One more point concerning the reliability of our peer-reviewed scientific community. I don’t know how old you are, but I was in school 35 or so years ago when the scientific community was adamant in insisting that we had a global cooling crisis because of particulate pollution. You can go back and read all of the journal articles on this, even today. Of course, now the “evidence” allegedly conclusively proves the exact opposite — a global warming crisis. Although I am a scientist, I am highly skeptical of “conclusive” pronouncements from the scientific community about theories which are proven using extrapolated data. This approach violates classic scientific method, and these scientists have no business stating their conclusions in such a positive way. It is irresponsible and highly political.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@14), I keep hearing this claim from you and others, so would you mind responding to the counter-claim found at this link?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@14), I keep hearing this claim from you and others, so would you mind responding to the counter-claim found at this link?

  • DonS

    tODD @ 14:

    It’s revisionist history, propagated by folks who are invested in the politics of AGW theory. I lived the era. I was in intermediate school from 1970-73, and still vividly remember school assemblies to watch films explaining exactly how pollution was going to freeze and starve us to death.

    Check out this article: http://ams.allenpress.com/archive/1520-0477/89/9/pdf/i1520-0477-89-9-1325.pdf

    Now, this is an article published in the American Meteorological Society Journal in September 2008, purporting to explain how this claim of a 1970′s global warming consensus was a “myth”. However, look at the first column on page 1327. Note the statement (emphasis added):

    “By the early 1970s, when Mitchell updated his work
    (Mitchell 1972), the notion of a global cooling trend
    WAS WIDELY ACCEPTED, albeit poorly understood.”

    So the article itself blatantly contradicts the title and thesis of the article. Yes, sure, maybe the theory of global cooling itself was a myth, but the fact that there was a consensus at one time about this theory WAS NOT A MYTH!

    It is as likely as not, in my opinion, that thirty years from now, the scientific community will be publishing articles entitled: “THE MYTH OF THE 2000′S GLOBAL WARMING SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS” and citing all of the articles which are now being published by scientists challenging conventional AGW theory and are being studiously ignored by the establishment.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 14:

    It’s revisionist history, propagated by folks who are invested in the politics of AGW theory. I lived the era. I was in intermediate school from 1970-73, and still vividly remember school assemblies to watch films explaining exactly how pollution was going to freeze and starve us to death.

    Check out this article: http://ams.allenpress.com/archive/1520-0477/89/9/pdf/i1520-0477-89-9-1325.pdf

    Now, this is an article published in the American Meteorological Society Journal in September 2008, purporting to explain how this claim of a 1970′s global warming consensus was a “myth”. However, look at the first column on page 1327. Note the statement (emphasis added):

    “By the early 1970s, when Mitchell updated his work
    (Mitchell 1972), the notion of a global cooling trend
    WAS WIDELY ACCEPTED, albeit poorly understood.”

    So the article itself blatantly contradicts the title and thesis of the article. Yes, sure, maybe the theory of global cooling itself was a myth, but the fact that there was a consensus at one time about this theory WAS NOT A MYTH!

    It is as likely as not, in my opinion, that thirty years from now, the scientific community will be publishing articles entitled: “THE MYTH OF THE 2000′S GLOBAL WARMING SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS” and citing all of the articles which are now being published by scientists challenging conventional AGW theory and are being studiously ignored by the establishment.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@16), it would appear from your reply that all I need to do to refute any scientist is to accuse them (baselessly) of having nefarious motives and then cite anecdotal evidence from “school assemblies”. Wow.

    Honestly, I don’t know why you think what you remember from middle school constitutes actual evidence against an article that cites its sources fairly meticulously. But if you’re going to present your argument as one that is superior to the claims of the scientists you deride, you really should do more than just slander and cherry-pick.

    I mean, honestly, I can’t believe you read much more of that article that you cite than the sentence you quote. Completely ignored by you is the survey of peer-reviewed literature at the time, which shows that the majority of articles were concerned with global warming.

    No, you somehow find the one quote that can be taken out of context, and you do just that. What you missed, however, was what that quote was referring to: that most scientists believed that, absent any influence by man-made causes, scientists accepted that the world was in a cooling trend at that point. And yet — and here’s the entire point of that article, which you somehow missed — there was concern that global warming due to man-made carbon dioxide emissions would overshadow this natural trend.

    Feel free to slander the motives of scientists you don’t know, and cherry-pick the data you need, but do keep in mind that you’re arguing that AGW proponents are doing that, and it does sort of undermine your case.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@16), it would appear from your reply that all I need to do to refute any scientist is to accuse them (baselessly) of having nefarious motives and then cite anecdotal evidence from “school assemblies”. Wow.

    Honestly, I don’t know why you think what you remember from middle school constitutes actual evidence against an article that cites its sources fairly meticulously. But if you’re going to present your argument as one that is superior to the claims of the scientists you deride, you really should do more than just slander and cherry-pick.

    I mean, honestly, I can’t believe you read much more of that article that you cite than the sentence you quote. Completely ignored by you is the survey of peer-reviewed literature at the time, which shows that the majority of articles were concerned with global warming.

    No, you somehow find the one quote that can be taken out of context, and you do just that. What you missed, however, was what that quote was referring to: that most scientists believed that, absent any influence by man-made causes, scientists accepted that the world was in a cooling trend at that point. And yet — and here’s the entire point of that article, which you somehow missed — there was concern that global warming due to man-made carbon dioxide emissions would overshadow this natural trend.

    Feel free to slander the motives of scientists you don’t know, and cherry-pick the data you need, but do keep in mind that you’re arguing that AGW proponents are doing that, and it does sort of undermine your case.

  • DonS

    tODD, the site you linked to is a political site. The writer has a point of view. He is actively trying to discredit the idea that the scientific community previously considered global cooling due to particulate pollution to be a serious problem. He is wrong.

    The purpose in me citing my experience in school was to let you know that this viewpoint regarding global cooling was so prominent that educational films were produced, and science teachers considered them to be sufficiently important to schedule assemblies during class time to show them. Like today, concerning global warming theory, the popular press was all over the crisis of global cooling. That is undisputed. So now, 35 years later, we have certain AGW proponents who realize they have a big problem — they want the world to take drastic action that will dramatically lower living standards worldwide, and pretty much ensure that it will be impossible to ever dig out from the global debt crisis (which really is a crisis). But these nagging “deniers” are inconveniently reminding the voters that pro-AGW theory scientists are claiming certainty where none can reasonably exist. So, what to do? Revise history, of course. Sure, the scientists weren’t unanimous in their belief in global cooling. Highlight the fact that there was disagreement regarding global cooling theory.

    But guess what, tODD? You may not know it in your green bubble in Portland, Oregon, but there are plenty of scientists today who do not agree that AGW is inevitable or man-caused. There are even more who know that, even if AGW is true, we cannot possibly change the equation by driving hybrids or changing out our light bulbs. We can’t even move the thermometer a fraction of a degree. Especially since the developing world, including China, isn’t going to join in. These AGW skeptics publish all the time. They are, as proved by the recent climate-gate scandal, denied publication in prestigious journals and denied access to media. But, they exist. And, so, when that article is written 30 years from now, folks like the guy you cite will easily be able to “prove” that there wasn’t really a consensus about AGW in the 2000′s.

    That one quote that you say I took “out of context” undermines the whole premise of the article. Your statement that it really means “absent any influence by man-made causes” makes no sense. If you read the whole paragraph, it is still saying that most scientists accepted a world cooling trend was underway, until further research was done later in the decade.

    Real scientists are seldom dogmatic. They are mere observers, and report their observations. They fill their reports with caveats, because their research is never done. There is always more data to gather, alternate hypotheses to consider. They leave politics to the politicians. That is, unless they have gotten used to slopping at the trough of public funds available to those willing to prostitute themselves to popular politics. It’s a sad fact of life.

  • DonS

    tODD, the site you linked to is a political site. The writer has a point of view. He is actively trying to discredit the idea that the scientific community previously considered global cooling due to particulate pollution to be a serious problem. He is wrong.

    The purpose in me citing my experience in school was to let you know that this viewpoint regarding global cooling was so prominent that educational films were produced, and science teachers considered them to be sufficiently important to schedule assemblies during class time to show them. Like today, concerning global warming theory, the popular press was all over the crisis of global cooling. That is undisputed. So now, 35 years later, we have certain AGW proponents who realize they have a big problem — they want the world to take drastic action that will dramatically lower living standards worldwide, and pretty much ensure that it will be impossible to ever dig out from the global debt crisis (which really is a crisis). But these nagging “deniers” are inconveniently reminding the voters that pro-AGW theory scientists are claiming certainty where none can reasonably exist. So, what to do? Revise history, of course. Sure, the scientists weren’t unanimous in their belief in global cooling. Highlight the fact that there was disagreement regarding global cooling theory.

    But guess what, tODD? You may not know it in your green bubble in Portland, Oregon, but there are plenty of scientists today who do not agree that AGW is inevitable or man-caused. There are even more who know that, even if AGW is true, we cannot possibly change the equation by driving hybrids or changing out our light bulbs. We can’t even move the thermometer a fraction of a degree. Especially since the developing world, including China, isn’t going to join in. These AGW skeptics publish all the time. They are, as proved by the recent climate-gate scandal, denied publication in prestigious journals and denied access to media. But, they exist. And, so, when that article is written 30 years from now, folks like the guy you cite will easily be able to “prove” that there wasn’t really a consensus about AGW in the 2000′s.

    That one quote that you say I took “out of context” undermines the whole premise of the article. Your statement that it really means “absent any influence by man-made causes” makes no sense. If you read the whole paragraph, it is still saying that most scientists accepted a world cooling trend was underway, until further research was done later in the decade.

    Real scientists are seldom dogmatic. They are mere observers, and report their observations. They fill their reports with caveats, because their research is never done. There is always more data to gather, alternate hypotheses to consider. They leave politics to the politicians. That is, unless they have gotten used to slopping at the trough of public funds available to those willing to prostitute themselves to popular politics. It’s a sad fact of life.

  • John C

    It was some time ago but yes I do remember predictions of global cooling Don. However,it is inevitable as more data is collected, published and contested and as propositions are either confirmed, amended or rejected, our understanding of climate science will deepen.
    The point is Don, the Globe is not cooling — temperatures are rising. NASA data is showing that 2009 has been the hottest June to October period on record. Adelaide has just had its spring temperatues match its summer temperatures.
    And the rise in temperatures seems to be confirmed in other areas of scientific discipline incuding oceanography, glaciology and marine microbiology.
    At this point in time (my only caveat),the evidence seems overwhelming.

  • John C

    It was some time ago but yes I do remember predictions of global cooling Don. However,it is inevitable as more data is collected, published and contested and as propositions are either confirmed, amended or rejected, our understanding of climate science will deepen.
    The point is Don, the Globe is not cooling — temperatures are rising. NASA data is showing that 2009 has been the hottest June to October period on record. Adelaide has just had its spring temperatues match its summer temperatures.
    And the rise in temperatures seems to be confirmed in other areas of scientific discipline incuding oceanography, glaciology and marine microbiology.
    At this point in time (my only caveat),the evidence seems overwhelming.

  • John C

    Don 13
    God would not be part of my science curriculm and unless you can marshal the data and present an argument that the scientific community would accept, God should not be part of your science curriculm either.
    I would add that both the Catholic and Anglican Churches have accommodated evolution. Why is this so difficult for the Christian Right in the US?

  • John C

    Don 13
    God would not be part of my science curriculm and unless you can marshal the data and present an argument that the scientific community would accept, God should not be part of your science curriculm either.
    I would add that both the Catholic and Anglican Churches have accommodated evolution. Why is this so difficult for the Christian Right in the US?

  • Peter Leavitt

    Anyone interested in the science as opposed to the politics of global warming would do well to read Richard Lindzen’s articleThe Climate Science Isn’t Settled
    Confident predictions of catastrophe are unwarranted.
    . Lindzen is a an atmospheric physicist at M.I.T. He begins the article as follows:

    Is there a reason to be alarmed by the prospect of global warming? Consider that the measurement used, the globally averaged temperature anomaly (GATA), is always changing. Sometimes it goes up, sometimes down, and occasionally—such as for the last dozen years or so—it does little that can be discerned.

    Claims that climate change is accelerating are bizarre. There is general support for the assertion that GATA has increased about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since the middle of the 19th century. The quality of the data is poor, though, and because the changes are small, it is easy to nudge such data a few tenths of a degree in any direction. Several of the emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) that have caused such a public ruckus dealt with how to do this so as to maximize apparent changes.

    Science is normally on ongoing dialectic process at both the theoretical and empiric levels. In the case of global warming the science has become egregiously politicized.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Anyone interested in the science as opposed to the politics of global warming would do well to read Richard Lindzen’s articleThe Climate Science Isn’t Settled
    Confident predictions of catastrophe are unwarranted.
    . Lindzen is a an atmospheric physicist at M.I.T. He begins the article as follows:

    Is there a reason to be alarmed by the prospect of global warming? Consider that the measurement used, the globally averaged temperature anomaly (GATA), is always changing. Sometimes it goes up, sometimes down, and occasionally—such as for the last dozen years or so—it does little that can be discerned.

    Claims that climate change is accelerating are bizarre. There is general support for the assertion that GATA has increased about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since the middle of the 19th century. The quality of the data is poor, though, and because the changes are small, it is easy to nudge such data a few tenths of a degree in any direction. Several of the emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) that have caused such a public ruckus dealt with how to do this so as to maximize apparent changes.

    Science is normally on ongoing dialectic process at both the theoretical and empiric levels. In the case of global warming the science has become egregiously politicized.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    It would seem that, in order to “prove” a scientific idea wrong, I merely have to label it as “politics” and poof!, I win.

    Plate tectonics? Pure politics. They won’t let tectonics deniers get published. They’re shut out of the media. It’s all a scam. See? Easy. And I don’t even have to understand the science of plate tectonics to make that claim, which is nice. I don’t know why they didn’t teach us this in debate club, honestly.

    Ahem. Moving on. Don (@18), your reply starts off humorously: “The site you linked to is a political site. The writer has a point of view.” Oh. Well, then! Let’s make sure we only factor in articles written by people with no point of view whatsoever. I’ll ask people I see walking down the street what they think about global warming, and if one of them says, “I don’t know, whatever,” then I’ll know he’s the one to ask for the truth!

    And I’m still baffled by why you think the place to go to find what scientists think is either (a) the media or (b) your middle school teachers. What an excellent educational system we must have where even junior high science teachers are plugged into the peer-review process, carefully considering the cutting-edge science of their day! You’re lucky, Don. And, of course, I know how much you love the media and tout their ability to be so dead-on accurate when it comes to anything, much less science.

    Yes, why, the only place one could go to find an even more accurate assessment of what the scientific community thinks would be to survey the scientific literature! Oh, hang on. That’s what that PDF you linked to (and to which the discredited Web site with “a point of view” also pointed) did. And yet, for some reason, you continually ignore that survey. In every comment.

    Why’s that? Because you found one sentence (which you seem to not understand), and what that sentence apparently tells you is that you can safely ignore the actual scientific literature at the time. Why debate what the scientists were actually publishing, when you have that one sentence (which, if it reads as you think it does, makes no sense whatsoever in the context of the article, and yet that is the reading you choose).

    And then, of course, the ultimate caveat of the denier. First, they denied global warming was even taking place. They had a hard time being taken seriously when the data kept coming in, so now they merely deny that its anthropogenic. Oh, but just to be safe, let’s also claim that, oh, even if it is anthropogenic, there’s nothing that can be done! How convenient. How tidy. Might as well sit back and enjoy it, right Don?

    And frankly, from your statement that “Real scientists are seldom dogmatic,” I have to wonder how many real scientists you’ve met. They are every bit as dogmatic as other people. They have their pet theories, and those theories die very hard. That doesn’t mean that every theory held by a dogmatic person is wrong, of course. The whole point of the scientific endeavor is to separate men’s foibles from the process of gaining knowledge.

    But then, it would seem that what you mean by “There is always more data to gather,” is, frankly: there is always more data to gather, until such time as the data point to the conclusion I have already drawn. Which is that there is no AGW. Or, if there is, we can’t do anything about it. But it’s all political, either way.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    It would seem that, in order to “prove” a scientific idea wrong, I merely have to label it as “politics” and poof!, I win.

    Plate tectonics? Pure politics. They won’t let tectonics deniers get published. They’re shut out of the media. It’s all a scam. See? Easy. And I don’t even have to understand the science of plate tectonics to make that claim, which is nice. I don’t know why they didn’t teach us this in debate club, honestly.

    Ahem. Moving on. Don (@18), your reply starts off humorously: “The site you linked to is a political site. The writer has a point of view.” Oh. Well, then! Let’s make sure we only factor in articles written by people with no point of view whatsoever. I’ll ask people I see walking down the street what they think about global warming, and if one of them says, “I don’t know, whatever,” then I’ll know he’s the one to ask for the truth!

    And I’m still baffled by why you think the place to go to find what scientists think is either (a) the media or (b) your middle school teachers. What an excellent educational system we must have where even junior high science teachers are plugged into the peer-review process, carefully considering the cutting-edge science of their day! You’re lucky, Don. And, of course, I know how much you love the media and tout their ability to be so dead-on accurate when it comes to anything, much less science.

    Yes, why, the only place one could go to find an even more accurate assessment of what the scientific community thinks would be to survey the scientific literature! Oh, hang on. That’s what that PDF you linked to (and to which the discredited Web site with “a point of view” also pointed) did. And yet, for some reason, you continually ignore that survey. In every comment.

    Why’s that? Because you found one sentence (which you seem to not understand), and what that sentence apparently tells you is that you can safely ignore the actual scientific literature at the time. Why debate what the scientists were actually publishing, when you have that one sentence (which, if it reads as you think it does, makes no sense whatsoever in the context of the article, and yet that is the reading you choose).

    And then, of course, the ultimate caveat of the denier. First, they denied global warming was even taking place. They had a hard time being taken seriously when the data kept coming in, so now they merely deny that its anthropogenic. Oh, but just to be safe, let’s also claim that, oh, even if it is anthropogenic, there’s nothing that can be done! How convenient. How tidy. Might as well sit back and enjoy it, right Don?

    And frankly, from your statement that “Real scientists are seldom dogmatic,” I have to wonder how many real scientists you’ve met. They are every bit as dogmatic as other people. They have their pet theories, and those theories die very hard. That doesn’t mean that every theory held by a dogmatic person is wrong, of course. The whole point of the scientific endeavor is to separate men’s foibles from the process of gaining knowledge.

    But then, it would seem that what you mean by “There is always more data to gather,” is, frankly: there is always more data to gather, until such time as the data point to the conclusion I have already drawn. Which is that there is no AGW. Or, if there is, we can’t do anything about it. But it’s all political, either way.

  • Trey

    Here is John’s line of thinking if the scientific community says it is science it is. So tomorrow they could say that poker is science and boom it is. Fallacious reasoning indeed. It is called appeal to popularity. Funny is that prior to Darwin’s theory, all evolutionary science was excluded. Early in the 20th century, science believed that blacks were inferior and degraded races too, yet science rejects them now. The so called scientific community or those who believe in evolution feel threatened by those scientists that hold to intelligence design. Intelligence design is not religion, but ascribes to the complexity of animals to an Intelligent Designer.

    Additionally, evolution is not observable. Where has scientists or anyone seen that all animals and humans came from the same organism? When did they see the big bang? What John describes is not science, observation and testing, but scientism, the deification of science. I am going to trust the one who overcame death, Jesus Christ and those who observed Him after He returned from the grave.

  • Trey

    Here is John’s line of thinking if the scientific community says it is science it is. So tomorrow they could say that poker is science and boom it is. Fallacious reasoning indeed. It is called appeal to popularity. Funny is that prior to Darwin’s theory, all evolutionary science was excluded. Early in the 20th century, science believed that blacks were inferior and degraded races too, yet science rejects them now. The so called scientific community or those who believe in evolution feel threatened by those scientists that hold to intelligence design. Intelligence design is not religion, but ascribes to the complexity of animals to an Intelligent Designer.

    Additionally, evolution is not observable. Where has scientists or anyone seen that all animals and humans came from the same organism? When did they see the big bang? What John describes is not science, observation and testing, but scientism, the deification of science. I am going to trust the one who overcame death, Jesus Christ and those who observed Him after He returned from the grave.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, plate tectonics, so far, has not been seriously questioned by scientists, though there are diverging views on the mechanics of it. Fortunately the field of plate tectonics hasn’t become politicized in the way of global warming.

    Serious scientists, including Richard Lindzen of M.I.T. argue that the climate science has far from proved that the degree of AGW has reached an alarming level. Lindzen writes:

    That said, the main greenhouse substances in the earth’s atmosphere are water vapor and high clouds. Let’s refer to these as major greenhouse substances to distinguish them from the anthropogenic minor substances. Even a doubling of CO2 would only upset the original balance between incoming and outgoing radiation by about 2%. This is essentially what is called “climate forcing.”

    There is general agreement on the above findings. At this point there is no basis for alarm regardless of whether any relation between the observed warming and the observed increase in minor greenhouse gases can be established. Nevertheless, the most publicized claims of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) deal exactly with whether any relation can be discerned. The failure of the attempts to link the two over the past 20 years bespeaks the weakness of any case for concern.

    The problem is that Lindzen and other scientists who question the degree of AGW have been vilified and systematically prevented from publishing their findings in the scientific journals that have been corrupted by the politicization and to some extent commercialization of climate science.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, plate tectonics, so far, has not been seriously questioned by scientists, though there are diverging views on the mechanics of it. Fortunately the field of plate tectonics hasn’t become politicized in the way of global warming.

    Serious scientists, including Richard Lindzen of M.I.T. argue that the climate science has far from proved that the degree of AGW has reached an alarming level. Lindzen writes:

    That said, the main greenhouse substances in the earth’s atmosphere are water vapor and high clouds. Let’s refer to these as major greenhouse substances to distinguish them from the anthropogenic minor substances. Even a doubling of CO2 would only upset the original balance between incoming and outgoing radiation by about 2%. This is essentially what is called “climate forcing.”

    There is general agreement on the above findings. At this point there is no basis for alarm regardless of whether any relation between the observed warming and the observed increase in minor greenhouse gases can be established. Nevertheless, the most publicized claims of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) deal exactly with whether any relation can be discerned. The failure of the attempts to link the two over the past 20 years bespeaks the weakness of any case for concern.

    The problem is that Lindzen and other scientists who question the degree of AGW have been vilified and systematically prevented from publishing their findings in the scientific journals that have been corrupted by the politicization and to some extent commercialization of climate science.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@24), you claimed, “plate tectonics, so far, has not been seriously questioned by scientists.” Well, sure, if you only listen to the groupthink scientists, who intentionally keep all anti-tectonics viewpoints out of scientific publications and media. That doesn’t mean no one questions plate tectonics, though. It just means that they don’t want you to hear any point of view except their own. Plate tectonics has become more a religion than a science at this point, and is utterly politicized. No one who wants to be elected would dare say a word countering plate tectonics, knowing that they’d be laughed at by the fat-cat tenured scientists in their ivory towers.

    Ahem.

    More seriously, while I applaud you for citing an actual climate scientist in this debate, what you haven’t explained is why his arguments outweigh those of the overwhelming majority of other scientists. That is: why do you believe him over the rest?

    Finally, you claim that “Lindzen … ha[s] been vilified and systematically prevented from publishing [his] findings in the scientific journals that have been corrupted by the politicization and to some extent commercialization of climate science.” Well, then, how do you explain that Lindzen’s online CV lists dozens of publications in the past decade alone?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@24), you claimed, “plate tectonics, so far, has not been seriously questioned by scientists.” Well, sure, if you only listen to the groupthink scientists, who intentionally keep all anti-tectonics viewpoints out of scientific publications and media. That doesn’t mean no one questions plate tectonics, though. It just means that they don’t want you to hear any point of view except their own. Plate tectonics has become more a religion than a science at this point, and is utterly politicized. No one who wants to be elected would dare say a word countering plate tectonics, knowing that they’d be laughed at by the fat-cat tenured scientists in their ivory towers.

    Ahem.

    More seriously, while I applaud you for citing an actual climate scientist in this debate, what you haven’t explained is why his arguments outweigh those of the overwhelming majority of other scientists. That is: why do you believe him over the rest?

    Finally, you claim that “Lindzen … ha[s] been vilified and systematically prevented from publishing [his] findings in the scientific journals that have been corrupted by the politicization and to some extent commercialization of climate science.” Well, then, how do you explain that Lindzen’s online CV lists dozens of publications in the past decade alone?

  • DonS

    John @ 19 and 20: Thank you for your reasoned responses.

    Trey and Peter have already more than adequately addressed your points. But let me just add that you basically echo my contention. The data is still coming in, and we have not even close to enough data at this point to make conclusive statements as to what is or is not occurring with respect to climate change, and whether 1)it is primarily human-caused and 2) humans can do anything meaningful to change it if it is. So, we should not be pretending that the science is settled, and we should not be imposing arbitrary political solutions which are going to result in untold hardship and the probably deaths of millions of people because of economic dislocations.

    As for your point about God, I never advocated making Him a part of a science curriculum. Just acknowledging the possibility of His existence and impact on the laws of science would be a reasonable step, however.

  • DonS

    John @ 19 and 20: Thank you for your reasoned responses.

    Trey and Peter have already more than adequately addressed your points. But let me just add that you basically echo my contention. The data is still coming in, and we have not even close to enough data at this point to make conclusive statements as to what is or is not occurring with respect to climate change, and whether 1)it is primarily human-caused and 2) humans can do anything meaningful to change it if it is. So, we should not be pretending that the science is settled, and we should not be imposing arbitrary political solutions which are going to result in untold hardship and the probably deaths of millions of people because of economic dislocations.

    As for your point about God, I never advocated making Him a part of a science curriculum. Just acknowledging the possibility of His existence and impact on the laws of science would be a reasonable step, however.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 22: I don’t know whether I just think you are a lot smarter than you really are, or if you just think it’s funny to completely misconstrue and/or misrepresent my posts. The end result, however, is that your post is so off the mark I simply don’t know where to start.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 22: I don’t know whether I just think you are a lot smarter than you really are, or if you just think it’s funny to completely misconstrue and/or misrepresent my posts. The end result, however, is that your post is so off the mark I simply don’t know where to start.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, the issue of group think simply doesn’t apply to tectonics and most fields of science that proceed forward through a careful and rigorous-minded dialectic. Lindzen in the abstract of an incisive 2008 article, Climate Science: Is it currently designed to answer questions? writes:

    For a variety of inter-related cultural, organizational, and political reasons, progress in climate science and the actual solution of scientific problems in this field have moved at a much slower rate than would normally be possible. Not all these factors are unique to climate science, but the heavy influence of politics has served to amplify the role of the other factors. By cultural factors, I primarily refer to the change in the scientific paradigm from a dialectic opposition between theory and observation to an emphasis on simulation and observational programs. The latter serves to almost eliminate the dialectical focus of the former. Whereas the former had the potential for convergence, the latter is much less effective. The institutional factor has many components. One is the inordinate growth of administration in universities and the consequent increase in importance of grant overhead. This leads to an emphasis on large programs that never end. Another is the hierarchical nature of formal scientific organizations whereby a small executive council can speak on behalf of thousands of scientists as well as govern the distribution of ‘carrots and sticks’ whereby reputations are made and broken. The above factors are all amplified by the need for government funding. When an issue becomes a vital part of a political agenda, as is the case with climate, then the politically desired position becomes a goal rather than a consequence of scientific research. This paper will deal with the origin of the cultural changes and with specific examples of the operation and interaction of these factors. In particular, we will show how political bodies act to control scientific institutions, how scientists adjust both data and even theory to accommodate politically correct positions, and how opposition to these positions is disposed of.

    As to your question about whom to “believe” among the climate scientists, this is not a matter of faith but dialectical science. Scientists are constantly involved in discussion about theoretical and empirical propositions, though when the discussion becomes highly politicized, as in the case of anthropogenic global warming, the truth gets shoved aside, mainly by scientists who accept the alarmist view. The parlous e-mails out of East Anglia rather prove this.

    Don’t kid yourself that Lindzen and other atmospheric scientists who question the alarming effect of AGW are not vilified and prevented from publishing in scientific journals. Lindzen has had to go outside the main journals in his field and for the most part outside of the government for funding of his research.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, the issue of group think simply doesn’t apply to tectonics and most fields of science that proceed forward through a careful and rigorous-minded dialectic. Lindzen in the abstract of an incisive 2008 article, Climate Science: Is it currently designed to answer questions? writes:

    For a variety of inter-related cultural, organizational, and political reasons, progress in climate science and the actual solution of scientific problems in this field have moved at a much slower rate than would normally be possible. Not all these factors are unique to climate science, but the heavy influence of politics has served to amplify the role of the other factors. By cultural factors, I primarily refer to the change in the scientific paradigm from a dialectic opposition between theory and observation to an emphasis on simulation and observational programs. The latter serves to almost eliminate the dialectical focus of the former. Whereas the former had the potential for convergence, the latter is much less effective. The institutional factor has many components. One is the inordinate growth of administration in universities and the consequent increase in importance of grant overhead. This leads to an emphasis on large programs that never end. Another is the hierarchical nature of formal scientific organizations whereby a small executive council can speak on behalf of thousands of scientists as well as govern the distribution of ‘carrots and sticks’ whereby reputations are made and broken. The above factors are all amplified by the need for government funding. When an issue becomes a vital part of a political agenda, as is the case with climate, then the politically desired position becomes a goal rather than a consequence of scientific research. This paper will deal with the origin of the cultural changes and with specific examples of the operation and interaction of these factors. In particular, we will show how political bodies act to control scientific institutions, how scientists adjust both data and even theory to accommodate politically correct positions, and how opposition to these positions is disposed of.

    As to your question about whom to “believe” among the climate scientists, this is not a matter of faith but dialectical science. Scientists are constantly involved in discussion about theoretical and empirical propositions, though when the discussion becomes highly politicized, as in the case of anthropogenic global warming, the truth gets shoved aside, mainly by scientists who accept the alarmist view. The parlous e-mails out of East Anglia rather prove this.

    Don’t kid yourself that Lindzen and other atmospheric scientists who question the alarming effect of AGW are not vilified and prevented from publishing in scientific journals. Lindzen has had to go outside the main journals in his field and for the most part outside of the government for funding of his research.

  • Cincinnatus

    Methinks everyone on this board–especially John and tODD–needs to read Michael Polanyi on the nature of scientific inquiry. Needless to say, it is silly to claim that science is somehow objective.

  • Cincinnatus

    Methinks everyone on this board–especially John and tODD–needs to read Michael Polanyi on the nature of scientific inquiry. Needless to say, it is silly to claim that science is somehow objective.

  • DonS
  • DonS
  • DonS

    http://www.forbes.com/2009/12/03/climate-science-gore-intelligent-technology-sutton.html

    Another take from Forbes Magazine on the tendency of some scientists and “science” reporters to wildly over hype short term climate data.

  • DonS

    http://www.forbes.com/2009/12/03/climate-science-gore-intelligent-technology-sutton.html

    Another take from Forbes Magazine on the tendency of some scientists and “science” reporters to wildly over hype short term climate data.


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