You Don’t Like the Scientific Consensus? Ignore it Away.

You Don’t Like the Scientific Consensus? Ignore it Away. October 9, 2015

scientific consensus evolution climate changeImagine this problem: you’re a layperson, and you dislike the scientific consensus on some issue. I argued recently that laypeople have no grounds by which to reject a scientific consensus—how could they when they’re outsiders to that discipline? But if you’re part of a vocal minority on the political Right, you just declare the consensus stupid and substitute your own.

Those who give themselves veto power over science sometimes argue that smart people (and who wouldn’t put themselves in that category?) are perfectly able to evaluate the conclusions themselves. Or they might poke around the internet to find conclusions they like better and adopt those arguments, unconcerned that these are fringe opinions, already evaluated and rejected by the relevant scientists.

Let’s take an example. Dennis Chamberland is not a climate scientist, but he’s good and mad at the current consensus within that discipline that climate change is happening and that it’s primarily caused by human activity (“The Tyranny of Consensus”). That’s not going to stop him from finding more pleasing conclusions on the internet and adopting those.

The dark cause behind all this

He begins by rooting out the underlying cause.

[Infecting science with politics] was accomplished for a reason, of course: specifically so that billions of dollars in global taxes may be levied at the point of a gun against the specter of anthropogenic climate change.

What’s next—black helicopters? The United Nations as world government? Reptoid shape-shifters controlling Congress? The Antichrist?

There seem to be lots of dog-whistle terms in this article to wake up the faithful. If I were in this community, I’d probably understand what he’s trying to say. I suppose that for those people, this vague claim works, but let’s move on to the more interesting point, Chamberland’s attack on the use of the scientific consensus.

Government’s conflict of interest?

Science struggles to do the right thing, but we’re told that government isn’t helping.

The task is made even more difficult by an across-the-board failure of ethics within the profession [of science], created by the billions of research dollars poured into anthropogenic climate change [by government].

Let me see if I’ve got this straight. Government money with an agenda bothers you, when on the opposing side is the energy industry? I’ll see your billions of dollars and raise you the many trillions of dollars of market capitalization of those companies.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the publicly traded energy companies Exxon Mobile, Petro China, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, Sinopec, Gazprom, Total, and British Petroleum? They have a market capitalization of $1.5 trillion. That turns out to be the low estimate for the market value of the world’s largest company, state-owned Saudi Aramco. It alone is valued at up to $7 trillion. Don’t forget the enormous state-owned oil companies in Mexico, Venezuela, Kuwait, Malaysia, Algeria, Iran, Indonesia, Nigeria, and other countries.

The fossil fuel industry is enormous and powerful, and they like the status quo just as it is, thank you very much. You don’t think they’re eager to spend billions studying climate change, do you? Sometimes the “follow the money” game can bite you.

He’s back with concern about the Dark Forces:

[The government is] entirely biased against any approach, study or theory except the one championed and paid for, solely reflecting the government’s predetermined, ethically conflicted, politically and economically motivated, self-serving theories.

Again, I’m missing the big conspiracy, so let’s set that aside. Was research on GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) burdened by some demand for a government-imposed finding? Smallpox vaccine? Internet? Cancer research? Or if they’re too goal-driven, consider work on the Higgs boson or the Cassini spacecraft. Science often just follows the evidence.

Evil consensus

This has been somewhat tangential to the main point, the attacks on the scientific consensus when it is unwanted. Nevertheless this has illustrated the kinds of games that can be played to defend an anti-consensus position.

As an example of the misuse of consensus, Chamberland gives the book A Hundred Authors Against Einstein, published in German in 1931 as a criticism of relativity. His conclusion:

This consensus-based, adolescent pile-on of Einstein historically backfired in a rather spectacular way, as all consensus schemes are wont to do.

Let’s consider this example. Suppose that

  • There were just 101 physicists in the world, Einstein and 100 others who wrote this book.
  • Einstein proposed Theory X.
  • The other 100 all thoroughly understood Theory X and Einstein’s reasoning.
  • The other 100 all rejected it.

Given that the relevance of a consensus is its value for outsiders like us rather than the practitioners, what do we conclude? Of course, we conclude that Theory X is not ready for prime time. What else could we conclude? Maybe the theory will mature to sway the other physicists, but we go with the consensus. When the consensus changes, so does our opinion.

Chamberland might handwave, “But Einstein was right with relativity!” I agree, but how do we know? Because (and only because) it’s now the consensus! When it’s Einstein vs. the Hundred, it’s not like there’s an arbiter who can settle the argument. Consensus as our arbiter is imperfect, but it’s the best approximation we have.

Let’s return to A Hundred Authors Against Einstein. This example crumbles because it wasn’t the clean thought experiment I’ve just outlined. By the publication date of this book, relativity was already well accepted within the scientific community, and the consensus was on Einstein’s side. More important, there was only a single physicist in the list! This wasn’t even an attempt at a consensus.

This is like the Disco Institute’s misguided attack on evolution, “A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism.” In it, around a thousand scientists skeptical of evolution have added their names, but how many are biologists whose critique of evolution would be relevant? Just like with the relativity attack, almost none have credentials relevant to the issue at hand.

How does Chamberland expect we laypeople to respond to the scientific consensus? Maybe he likes the Kim Davis approach where every elected official makes their own conscience the ultimate arbiter for any action. “Sure, I’ll follow the law,” she says, “as long as it satisfies my morality.” A Kim Davis world would have county clerks deciding who can get married, Jehovah’s Witness nurses avoiding blood transfusions, Muslim police officers arresting women dressing immodestly, and racist judges deciding cases based on white supremacist principles.

Chamberland analogously imagines each of us deciding things on first principles. “Sure, I’ll accept germ theory (or quantum theory or evolution),” Chamberland says, “once I give it a good review.” Nothing is settled for us, and a 6000-year-old earth is no less an option than one 4.5 billion years old. Creationism, phlogiston, ether, bodily humors, astrology, alchemy, flat earth—they are all in play if there is no consensus.

In his next tirade, I recommend that Chamberland acknowledge the elephant in the room, that he seems to accept scientific theories based on whether he likes the conclusion or not. That may not be his underlying drive, but it sure looks like it.

Evolution is as firmly established a scientific fact
as the roundness of the Earth.
NewScientist, 2008.

Image credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, flickr, CC

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  • busterggi

    Is Chamberlain a Christian because there are more non-Christians than Christians in the world and more than 40,000 non-agreeing forms of ‘Christianity’ as well. Anyone considering themselves a true Christian is a meber of a small minority at best.

    • jh

      a true christian is, I think the smallest minority group ever. You see, it would consist of just one person, the person who thinks (s)he is a ‘true christian’.

      • Max Doubt

        “You see, it would consist of just one person, the person who thinks (s)he is a ‘true christian’.”

        And it makes for one of the most bizarre mathematical paradoxes, what with hundreds of millions of those only one persons. 🙂

      • Odd Jørgensen

        Well, and the immediate family/church members etc that they are in sync with. Unless of course any of them turns out to be hiding some skeletons in the closet, like a sex scandal, or embezzling money, then they by default become a Fake Christian™, until they beg forgiveness and get born yet again.

        • XCellKen

          How do I make the TM
          sign like your’s

        • Dys

          Do a google search for TM symbol and copy/paste it out of there, or use the ALT codes and directions on this site:

          http://fsymbols.com/computer/trademark/

        • You can copy it from someone else’s comment.

          In Word, (TM) autocorrects into ™. Also, (R) into ®.

        • Ron

          ™ = ™
          ® = ®
          © = ©

          For more characters, see here:

          http://character-code.com

        • Odd Jørgensen

          https://www.facebook.com/chef.skai.juice/photos/a.290422841010087.83851.290318604353844/542075242511511/?type=3

          This is of course copyrighted and all that stuff, so monies are expected whenever you see fit to use any of the nice things I have made available to you, also too, this I typed here is Mine™ ® and ©
          Everything above i stoled from Some Other, or possibly some Otter™

        • XCellKen

          Thanx

        • XCellKen

          Thanx ™

        • Odd Jørgensen

          Sorry, did not see your reply until now. Hold down the alt key and type in 0153 ™

        • (You need to do it with the number keypad, not the numbers along the top row. And this obviously applies for a PC only.)

      • XCellKen

        Since the Gospels contradict themselves so often, even Jesus himself is not a “True Christian” tm

  • Charleigh Kimber

    If you want to make a climate science denier really angry, wait until they bring up the Al Gore Is Making Money conspiracy, and point out that he’d be making ten times as much if he had invested in oil instead of alternative energy.

  • pastasauceror

    Ah yes, all well and good if you don’t look at the evidence yourself or cannot understand the field, but when someone asks for the evidence and is met with “the consensus is…blah blah blah”, then *that* is a problem. Unfortunately in most cases, this is exactly what happens when people ask for evidence about AGW.

    I think one of the reasons this is happening is because none of the predictions of climate science are being confirmed by actual data. This makes it shaky science at best, and when climate “scientists” spend their time quoting percentage consensus figures instead of quoting facts, that is something that should make people start to doubt and do their own research. In fact, this is exactly how I came to do my research. I went in agnostic precisely because I hadn’t seen the evidence, and used only scientific sites with quoted data – no anti-AGW sites – what I saw (and continue to see) was that the predictions in the field are constantly being disconfirmed, and while they are continually being revised downwards, the underlying theory is not allowed to be questioned. Many in the field may think that the AGW theory needs a major overhaul and the models and assumptions need to be reassessed. but if they do we would never know it because the consensus pressure may be preventing them from challenging the status quo.

    I posted this on your last article and nobody said anything in disagreement so I’ll put it here again:

    Consensus is useless in all areas of knowledge. Why?
    1. If the evidence supports a theory then the consensus doesn’t matter, the theory is backed by the evidence.
    2. If the evidence is against a theory then the consensus doesn’t matter, as the theory is not backed by evidence.
    3. If there is not enough evidence either way then the consensus doesn’t matter, as we should be agnostic until further evidence comes in.

    (Evidence is ALL that matters.)

    Do you agree? If not, why not?

    • Kodie

      Bob said in the article.

      • pastasauceror

        Well, he tried, I suppose. But then he said “Chamberland might handwave, “But Einstein was right with relativity!” I agree, but how do we know? Because (and only because) it’s now the consensus!”

        That is not how we know Einstein was right, we *know* it because of the evidence! If Einstein wasn’t right we wouldn’t have all of the confirming fields based on relativity, nor would we have GPS or electromagnets. If we didn’t then the consensus (just like in every other field of science) would be meaningless.

        • That is not how we know Einstein was right, we *know* it because of the evidence!

          ??

          A quibble to start: we don’t know anything. Science is always provisional. Evolution, AGW, or germ theory could be wrong.

          It would never be the case where we think Einstein was right but the consensus said he was wrong. “Einstein was right” is a colloquial way of saying, “The relevant scientific consensus view is that Einstein was right.”

          When you say “because of the evidence,” that suggests that you would be the one evaluating the evidence. Unless you’re a physicist/cosmologist/whatever, no one cares what you think about the evidence since you’re not an expert in the field.

        • pastasauceror

          You’re the one who used the word “know”, I was attempting to use it in the same way you were using it in your article.

          But anyway, I disagree, you don’t have to be able to *evaluate* (I’m using this in the sense of understanding, not in the sense of making a decision) the evidence to be *provided* evidence for a theory. An evolutionary scientist can tell me “there are no rabbits in the Precambrian and, if there were, Evolution would be falsified” (this is one point where I must trust the consensus of scientists, if I don’t know enough about evolution to come to this conclusion myself). I can then check the facts/data to see if there are rabbits in the Precambrian (this is another point where I must trust that scientists are evaluating their evidence correctly, and are not mistaken in concluding that this rabbit skull they found was 55 million years old when actually it was Precambrian). After being provided those two things by evolutionary scientists then I certainly should be well informed enough to make my own “evaluation” of the theory.

          Now, I can’t *evaluate* the vagaries of collecting and reporting sea or air temperature because I don’t know enough about it, nor can I understand the physics of weather and climate systems. But when the climate scientists give me a model and say this is our future if we do not reduce CO2 and then later give me evidence themselves saying that the small rises (or in many cases no rise at all) in the temperature of sea and air are not reflecting the predictions made by their scientific model (whether that be the theoretical or computer models), then I should certainly be able to make the “evaluation” that their models weren’t correct and the theory based on those models is in doubt.

          If the consensus of evolutionary scientists, after years of saying it would falsify their theory, admitted that they had found a rabbit in the Precambrian but then in the next breath said that “these findings do not throw suspicion on [evolution] itself.” what would you conclude?

          http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2014/06oct_abyss/

          This is exactly what the climate scientists do in the above article, and then go on to say that they are looking for other things that could account for it, but also don’t find those (which is what the article is about), what would you conclude?

          BTW, If you think I’m off-base with my “climate science is falsified because their models have been falsified” stuff, then, as I requested in my other comment, I’m open to hearing what else is falsifiable in climate science that I can use to make my decision.

        • Just how skeptical are you? Do you check up on scientists in every area? Is that really the way you accept evolution—checking up to see about the rabbits in the pre-Cambrian? I’m looking for consistency here.

          After being provided those two things by evolutionary scientists then I certainly should be well informed enough to make my own “evaluation” of the theory.

          How do you even know to trust the input you’re receiving? You can find a truth-y article that will tell just about anything you want. Go to the Disco Institute and you can be comforted by its multitude of articles, PhD scholars, and excellent design that evolution is complete bullshit.

          then I should certainly be able to make the “evaluation” that their models weren’t correct and the theory based on those models is in doubt.

          You’re imagining a scenario where the consensus of climate scientists say one thing but you conclude another? Is this a conspiracy on their part or what? My first guess would be that your analysis was flawed since, as you’ve admitted, you don’t understand the evidence.

          If the consensus of evolutionary scientists, after years of saying it would falsify their theory, admitted that they had found a rabbit in the Precambrian but then in the next breath said that “these findings do not throw suspicion on [evolution] itself.” what would you conclude?

          Paleontologists found blood in a T-Rex bone … except that they didn’t. I would first look to the field of biology to make sense of what they’d found.

          BTW, If you think I’m off-base with my “climate science is falsified because their models have been falsified” stuff, then, as I requested in my other comment, I’m open to hearing what else is falsifiable in climate science that I can use to make my decision.

          You need to see if actual climate scientists (not just one) have responded to this puzzle. They usually have.

        • pastasauceror

          Guess you couldn’t answer any of my questions, and successfully sidestepped all of my points. Thanks for the “discussion”.

        • Two idiots arguing about a subject they don’t understand? No, I’m good. You can have that conversation by yourself.

        • Kodie

          Scientists would change their vote for emotional reasons or something other than looking at the evidence with training to do so? Come on.

          And I wouldn’t say you’re looking at the evidence, you’re looking at summaries and interpreting them.

        • pastasauceror

          Um, I never indicated that did I? But if you want to see what environmental science degrees are producing nowadays check out the youtube video of a 4th year student of one such degree in my other comment.

          And no I don’t need to interpret, the NASA article I linked in my other comment pretty much spells out, sans-interpretation, that none of the evidence is lining up with their theories (and then does some hand-waving, with NO empirical justification mind you, to explain it away).

          I hate to say it but the whole edifice is indistinguishable from faith now.

        • And when you run your concerns past the scientific establishment, how do they respond? Or haven’t you looked for that?

        • pastasauceror

          Like they’d listen.

        • Wait … I thought it was me running away.

          So the implied answer is, No, you haven’t bothered to run these questions past the experts, the people who produced the data and can interpret the data. You’d rather ask the question, let it hang in the air to dramatically make your point, and then declare victory without bothering to get the other side into the conversation.

          Sounds like you’re not serious about this discussion. You’re interested only in something that gets us to your predetermined conclusion.

        • pastasauceror

          Nope, sorry, you have judged me wrong.

          I have no predetermined conclusion. Just a hankering for evidence. (Maybe I’m wrong about the evidence, but at least I’ve looked for it, and haven’t just relied on consenus – and don’t think by this I’m trying to suggest you haven’t)

          Enjoy your echo chamber.
          Peace, out.

        • One wonders then at your aversion to seek out the opinion of the experts. It’s almost like you hate the consensus so much that you’re just going to ignore anyone who’s a part of it.

          On the subject of schools (which we’d discussed in a different thread), show me a scientific subject taught in schools that’s not the scientific consensus.

          That’s not just a coincidence; we know what to teach in school because it is the consensus.

        • Dessany

          that none of the evidence is lining up with their theories (and then does some hand-waving, with NO empirical justification mind you, to explain it away).

          This is why it’s always best to go to real scientists to explain what is happening rather than trying to figure it out from a NASA article.

          Are climate models running hot or observations running cold?

          http://variable-variability.blogspot.com/2015/09/models-and-observations.html

          Why I am writing this? What is left of “global warming has stopped” or “don’t you know warming has paused?” is that models predicted more warming than we see in the observations. Or as a mitigation sceptic would say “the models are running hot”. This difference is not big, this year we will probably get a temperature that fits to the mean of the projections, but we also have an El Nino year, thus we would expect the temperature to be on the high side this year, which it is not.

          An interesting look into how real scientists do their work.

          Edit: Another interesting look at the way scientists measure temperature and how measuring temperatures has changed.
          Measuring extreme temperatures in Uccle, Belgium
          http://variable-variability.blogspot.com/2015/10/extreme-temperatures-stevenson-screen-open-shelter-weather-variability.html

          I’ve always found reading real scientist’s observations of their work is fascinating. It’s a great blog. Bookmarked.

    • Perhaps we’re not in agreement on what the consensus is good for.

      I’m an outsider to, say, biology. I’m not so arrogant that I think that I know better about biology than the experts in the field, so I look to the consensus within biology (for example: evolution).

      Consensus is not useless; it’s the opposite. The consensus is what we teach in schools. The consensus is what we voters go to if there is a policy issue that needs to be backed with good science. And so on.

      • pastasauceror

        You can’t teach consensus in schools, you have to teach evidence, if the evidence doesn’t back up the consensus it can’t be taught and will produce thinking like this:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBu1_xPhOVk
        (hope I haven’t breached site rules by posting a video)

        That’s what teaching consensus in schools looks like, and if you want an example of using consensus to make policy (without the “good science” to back it up) then just look at what we have now with AGW.

        For something to be “good science” it has to be falsifiable, do you have an example for Climate Science that is equivalent to Evolution’s “rabbits in the Precambrian”?

        • if the evidence doesn’t back up the consensus it can’t be taught

          ?? The scientists who understand the evidence will evaluate it, and they decided what it means, hence the consensus.

          “The Consensus” is something that doesn’t much matter to the scientists; it matters to we laypeople. You don’t “teach consensus” in the science classroom; you teach the consensus view. Always.

        • Dessany

          You’re doing science creationist style.
          On consensus and dissent in science – consensus signals credibility Victor Venema
          http://variable-variability.blogspot.com/2013/05/consensus-dissent-credibility-science.html

          Since Skeptical Science published the Pac Man of The Consensus Project, the benign word consensus has stirred a surprising amount of controversy. I had already started drafting this post before, as I had noticed that consensus is an abomination to the true climate ostrich. Consensus in this case means that almost all scientists agree that the global temperature is increasing and that human action is the main cause. That the climate ostriches do not like this fact, I can imagine, but acting as if consensus in itself is in bad thing in itself sounds weird to me. Who would be against the consensus that all men have to die?

          Is Climate Science falsifiable? By Jos Hagelaars

          https://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/is-climate-science-falsifiable/

        • pastasauceror

          Very interesting. I guess we should talk in 30 years. Or when all of the warming of the 20th century is reversed, whichever comes first.

        • Dessany

          So you don’t want to explain why the list of how you can make climate science falsifiable is wrong? OK.

        • pastasauceror

          No, that was not my reason for asking that question. It is not my job to say those things are wrong, that’s for the scientists. I only have a duty to watch and see if their previously specified “falsifications” come about.

          I notice he didn’t include “the big one”; that is the climate models themselves not making accurate predictions. After all, in climate change the models *are* the theory to all intents and purposes, No one is questioning the physics of climate nor the theory that greenhouse gases warm the world. What people are questioning is whether the AGW models (that they are using to proclaim all of the problems we will face in the future) are accurately reflecting the effects of CO2 on long-term climate.

          I think he didn’t mention it because it is already falsified. Just look at this graph from the blog you linked me:

          https://ourchangingclimate.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/realclimate_compare_1997-2015_data-june-2015.png

          Figure 2 and 3. Above the comparison between observations and model calculations CMIP3 (IPCC AR4) for scenario A1B. Below (EDIT: I only included this graph) the same for CMIP5 modeling (IPCC AR5). The gray band includes 95% of the expected natural variability and the uncertainty in the calculations. Dashed lines denote updated calculations based on the actual evolution of radiative forcing.

          (EDIT: Sorry posted to quickly – This graph is from the most recent IPCC report AR5, it was falsified within a couple of years (the bit where observed temperature drops below the greyed in error bars) and was almost instantly rejigged.)

        • Dessany

          You do realize you are doing exactly what creationists do. You are playing gotcha. Don’t respond to all the other points and take one that you think will destroy the entire theory. Climate change is a huge theory with a huge base of evidence behind it. I’ll take a real scientists explanation for a. whether it was falsified and b. if it was “re-jigged”.

          Re-jigged. An interesting choice of words which places you in the group of people who are pushing a conspiracy of scientists to keep a false theory going for political purposes. This is exactly how creationists see evolution. You are digging yourself deeper with every comment you make.

        • pastasauceror

          No, I am not doing what creationists do. I presented a graph (from the same blog you referenced me to) showed how it had gone wrong (observations below the error bars – ie. the model produced garbage results and so must have had garbage inputs – and that’s garbage in the techie sense of GIGO, not in the pejorative sense), and then quoted the blogger’s own words saying that the “dashed lines denote *updated calculations* based on the *actual* evolution of *radiative forcing*. This sentence is the reason I said it was falsified (radiative forcing is almost the entire justification for AGW by the way), not through any justification of my own. He said “updated”, I said rejigged precisely because that is what you do to a model/machine when something is wrong with it (the other option is throwing it out altogether, would you rather…nah).

          I’m sorry but, you are the one holding to a theory despite disconfirming evidence. I am presenting evidence, you are ignoring it and calling me names (creationist? cree-a-shon-ist!! now that is low). 😉

        • Dessany

          Accepting your cherry picked “evidence” is not holding onto a theory despite disconfirming evidence. You haven’t shown any disconfirming evidence. What you have done is the same creationists do. You look for things you believe are wrong and then claim the whole theory is false.

          BTW, scientists look for anomolies to their theory and see why they are there. They don’t look at an anomoly and immediately say well there goes the whole theory. Might as well accept what the deniers have been saying all along. Just like in the evolution/creationism conflict, the creationists think that if they can just prove evolution wrong (with the smoking gun) then creationism will be right.

          If you read the article on your so-called global warming pause you’ll find that scientists are looking at how the changes in collecting temperature data has effected the results of their theory. You see if you have a theory that actually is working and you find an anomoly you work to find out why. You don’t just throw your hands up and give up.

          Look at physics. Newtonian physics worked. Over time more and more anomolies were showing up. Einstein provided an updated theory that answered many of the anomolies. This is how science works. Sometimes they do need to completely rework a theory, such as Plate Tectonics. That theory changed due to a strong scientific debate. If we did science the way you are proposing Plate Tectonics wouldn’t have been adopted.

        • pastasauceror

          Evidence is evidence. Disconfirmation of a model is disconfirmation of a model.

          I agree with everything else you said. Except I never mentioned a pause, that I can remember, in either blog post in any of my comments. Oh, and the theory is *not* “actually working” as the existence of the disconfirmed model would indicate otherwise. And no, unless I misunderstood you, if we did science the way *you* are proposing then relativity and plate tectonics would not have been adopted. (I’m the one saying the old theory is falsified remember, everyone else here is sticking to the consensus)

          So I guess they have *updated* their theory (downwards, again, just look at their original models from the earlier IPCC reports if you want to see by how much) since AR5. Let’s see what happens with the next IPCC report, it will be interesting. They might proclaim “Anthropogenic Business as Usual All the Graphs are Flat” next time.

          Have fun! (I’ll let you have the last word if you want it)

        • Disconfirmation of a model is disconfirmation of a model.

          Disconfirm the model then. When the consensus agrees, I’m on board.

        • Who cares about your critique? You know your limitations in this field, so you should be the first to doubt it. What you should be doing is looking up the response made by the IPCC or some other proxy for the consensus view. Give them a chance.

        • Victor Venema

          Pasta Sauceror, why did you link directly to the image and not to the blog posts where the reader could find more information, graphs and the interpretation of scientists of this graph?

          https://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2015/08/07/warm-2015-and-model-data-comparisons/

          http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2015/06/noaa-temperature-record-updates-and-the-hiatus/

          No, these graphs are NOT from the AR5 published in 2013. Hint: it contains data from 2014. The model spread comes from the same set of climate models used in AR5, but the graph is newer.

          And no, this does not falsify climate models; they were developed to study the long term warming due to greenhouse gasses.

          Short-term predictions are much more difficult and need a completely different approach. That is research that is just starting because it is important to prioritise expensive adaptation policies.

          http://variable-variability.blogspot.com/2015/09/model-spread-is-not-uncertainty-nwp.html

        • pastasauceror

          Actual measurements that fall outside the error bars of a model don’t falsify the model?

          Also, I just quoted the caption of the graph. How long after the model was published were the adjustments shown in the graph made?

        • Victor Venema

          Pasta Sauceror: “Actual measurements that fall outside the error bars of a model don’t falsify the model?

          Firstly, if you had taken the time to read to read the linked post I had provided for details, you would have learned that the “model spread” (which is shown in “your” graph) is not the same thing as “uncertainty”. The first hint is that the terms are different. Thus the measurements are sometimes outside of the model spread, but not outside the uncertainty. Here is is again:

          http://variable-variability.blogspot.com/2015/09/model-spread-is-not-uncertainty-nwp.html

          Secondly, like I already wrote, climate models give information on long term trends, not on short-term changes. These models also give a number for the sun shine duration on the 6th of February 2078 in New York. I would not use this number; it is not reliable. Data is not suited for any possible purpose; you need to study whether the question you are interested in can be answered in the light of the limitations of the dataset. In case of current climate models the limitation is that they are made for large-scale long-term changes over decades.

          Thirdly, it is important that a hypothesis is falsifiable, but falsification is not trivial. When you think you see a discrepancy, you try to understand the reason for this. From this understanding you may conclude that the hypothesis is false.

          This week I saw a leaf hanging in mid air. I did not conclude that the theory of gravity is wrong. I feel that is a justifiable response.

          Please read my post on this for details:

          http://variable-variability.blogspot.com/2014/03/falsifiable-and-falsification-in-science.html

          Would you say that the faster than expected decline of the Arctic sea ice falsifies the models and shows that climate change is underestimated by the models? Or would you like to study that first? How about the rapid decline of the AMOC or snow cover? Falsification candidates? How about the more rapid than expected increases in precipitation (5%/°C) and especially in severe short-term precipitation. Would you like to study that first or conclude immediately that climate models underestimate global warming?

          I do not understand your last question.

        • pastasauceror

          My apologies***, I’m back at work now and didn’t have time to read the article first. I understand your explanation, and take back my comments on its falsification. (My second question does not matter, now that you’ve answered the first question)

          So, I’d like to ask you, what is something that would falsify the climate models or the theory in general? Unfortunately, I mean immediately, not 30 years from now (as it won’t matter one way or the other by that stage), maybe this is not possible, but I’d be interested to hear what you think. (I’m not wanting them to be wrong, just want falsifiable in the scientific sense, also, I’m not talking about climate physics or the effect of greenhouse gases, I’m talking about whether we know the warming is man-made or not) Hmm, maybe you could comment on the “facts” I mentioned in other comments I’ve made (articles are fine, though I’ve read quite a few climate change sites that say these are wrong but don’t give evidence to back it up)

          From another post of mine (it might look like I’m claiming these to be correct, but if you see the rest of the post I’m actually asking for evidence that they’re not):
          “Fact: CO2 rise *follows* temperature rise (by 800 years in the data I’ve seen) in all of our empirical climate records (ice cores, etc), not the other way around.
          Fact: Temperature rise is not currently following the exceptional rise of CO2 in the atmosphere (edit to add: according to the forcing expected from the CO2 rise, while data shows that the extra heat is not going into the ocean as I’ve read from other explanations, ie. the NASA article I’ve referenced a number of times in other comments).
          …”
          I left out the third one, as you have already answered that.

          PS. Thanks for taking the time to school me (if you don’t have the time to answer these I completely understand), I’m always happy to find out when I’m wrong on something, and change my mind. As I’ve said in most of my comments, it’s evidence that matters, consensus means nothing (to me at least). BTW, I think it’s this 97% consensus thing that is driving people into the non-AGW-believing camp, I know it did for me…I would hear the “consensus” thing quoted, that would spur me to read some articles, from pro climate change sites, then find that the evidence looked at best sketchy and slide further to the “I don’t think this can be right” side. So, you know, if you can tell the powers that be: “more evidence, less we all think each other is correct” 😉 *joke joke*

          ***Apologies to you also Bob, I don’t mean to take over your comments section, but I only think it’s fair to get the questions I raised answered here rather than taking them offsite. If you’d rather I did take it offsite then let me know and I’ll copy my post and edit to remove. Thanks for your patience. 😀

        • Christianity is my main focus, but a civil conversation on something tangential like this is fine. Thanks for asking.

        • pastasauceror

          Thanks, I’ve been subbed to your blog for a long time (ever since I bought and read Cross Examined, which I thought was excellent) and have greatly enjoyed your posts in general, I’m just sorry that this was the first time I’ve really commented.

        • Victor Venema

          The above linked post by Jos mentions ten findings that
          would falsify the theory of global warming. Let me link it here again.

          https://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/is-climate-science-falsifiable/

          One does not have to wait for falsification. The rabbit in the Cambrian is already there and would falsify evolution. In the same way a better understanding of the climate could be based on new finding. If you would read the IPCC reports, you would see that scientists identify as the most likely candidates:
          1) Clouds and how they change due to particles in the air (aerosols).
          2) Land use changes.

          One we understand the reasons for all the changes in the climate system that go faster than expected that may also suggest additional reasons why the climate is changing.
          To repeat these fast changes:

          Would you say that the faster than expected decline of the Arctic sea ice falsifies the models and shows that climate change is underestimated by the models? Or would you like to study that first? How about the rapid decline of the AMOC or snow cover? Falsification candidates? How about the more rapid than expected increases in precipitation (5%/°C) and especially in severe short-term precipitation. Would you like to study that first or conclude immediately that climate models underestimate global warming?

          Given that there are so many different lines of evidence, which all would need to be wrong, it would also take many different findings to refute the theory of global warming. Do not expect a single Galileo paper to disprove everything.

          I work on the quality of station measurements. When it comes to attribution (is the temperature increase natural or man made) or past changes in the climate, I can explain some basics, but also quickly have to say: that is the current understanding of science (the consensus). There is nothing wrong with that on topics where one is not an expert.

          When I go to the doctor I trust that the consensus treatment is the right one. Theoretically I could start studying medicine to check everything, but normally I only check if the proposed treatment is the consensus treatment.

          The answer I would give you are the same ones you could easily find if you were looking for quality information on climate changes.

          Why don’t you search for quality information or read a book on climate change before misinforming your fellow man?

          Why don’t you make yourself expert, so that you can ask specific questions about how attribution is performed rather than vague general ones?

          Why do you think that you are so smart to see problems with multiple fields of study, which the domain experts are not able to see?

          Now the answers, which you should have heard very often, are: Science attributes the warming mainly to greenhouse gasses because this fits to the observed pattern of warming. Especially, more warming in high latitudes, less warming at equator. Warming near the surface, cooling in the stratosphere. The sun would give a different pattern, internal variability would give another pattern. You can observe the greenhouse effect by measuring downwelling infra-red radiation. And by looking at the radiation as a function of wavelength, it is nowadays even possible to observe the increase in the greenhouse effect due to CO2.

          CO2 did initiate warming before. Without the greenhouse effect of CO2, the Earth could not have escaped from Snowball Earth we got into when the sun was less bright.

          Your 800 years refer to the last ice ages. That you know this is because scientists studied it and that is not easy because the temperature signal come from the ice and the CO2 is in air bubbles in the ice. The ice is thus older than the time to air bubbles close and to be confident about the time difference has taken a lot of study. It is a clear example of scientists critically trying to understand their data.

          If you do the math, you will be able to see the the ice ages (glacials) are likely trigger by changes in the orbit of the Earth. They fit very well to this pattern. It is thought that this has initiated a small temperature decrease due to the orbit, which removed CO2 from the atmosphere (went to the oceans), which made the temperature decrease larger, etc. One think is at least clear: the change in the orbit (and albedo feedback) alone cannot explain the strong cooling in the glacials. So actually what you see as a problem is another piece of the evidence that CO2 is important to understand changes in the climate.

          For details and all the other standard “questions” the reader may have a look at this informative resource.

          http://skepticalscience.com/argument.php

    • Eric Sotnak

      One problem here is that evidence needs to be interpreted, and frequently interpretation of evidence (and even determination of what counts as evidence) requires significant expertise in its own right. Also, there are plenty of cases where it is naive to think that a hypothesis has evidential support only if all available evidence supports it. In a murder investigation, the testimony of a witness that it was the defendant who committed the crime is evidence of guilt. But this evidence can be undermined by other considerations (for example, that the defendant’s fingerprints don’t match those found on the murder weapon).

      With AGW, it is easy to find evidence that counts against it (locally recorded record low temperatures, for instance). But the question is really how all the evidence fits together, and how it all fits, or fails to fit, with general theoretical models.

      Just as someone without appropriate training can’t just pick up an x-ray and draw medical conclusions from it, it is reasonable to hold that climate data similarly require suitable training, knowledge, and expertise. So for those of us who are not climate scientists, there is a very simple argument for trusting the consensus there:

      (1) A significant majority of professional climate scientists affirm the reality of AGW.
      (2) In the absence of good reasons to think my own expertise is superior to that of such a majority of experts, the rational course of action is to accept what they say.
      (3) I do not have good reasons to think my own expertise is superior to that of such a majority of experts.

      (4) Therefore, I ought to accept the reality of AGW.

      Now since I think that rationality is a function of both evidence and competence in evaluating evidence, it is certainly possible for someone to be in a position to rationally dissent from the consensus view. But I think it is clear that the vast majority of people who reject AGW are not in that position — not even close.

      • Individual cold records are one reason that “climate change” rather than “global warming” is preferred, I believe.

        The rule of thumb, I hear, is that climate will be more extreme. Your place is hot? It’ll get hotter. It’s dry? It’ll get drier. Etc. Here in the Northwest, it’s predicted to get wetter.

  • John Hodges

    I agree that evidence rules. Consensus among those who are real, live, Climate Scientists, i.e. those who earn their living studying the evidence, is a useful shortcut for laymen to use when they don’t care to put in the time to study the evidence themselves.

    For evidence, try these to start:
    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/09/17/3702638/hottest-august-summer-year/
    http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/

  • avalon

    Since we live in the information age there’s lots of ways to look into the consensus and the data. For example, in regard to the “97% consensus” it’s easy to find out how many surveys were sent out and how many were returned. When it comes to the recorded temperatures it’s easy to find out if they’re using actual temperatures or if they adjust them and if they’re using the most accurate method of sensing the temperature or not. We can also look at previous predictions and see if they were accurate or not (Arctic summers ice-free ‘by 2013’ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7139797.stm ).

    I think the government does influence scientific research because I’m old enough to remember how the “latest” research on weed would change from one administration to another (from dire threat to harmless recreational drug).

    Bottom line for me is all this debate is beside the point. We’re gonna run out of fossil fuel eventually so we should be looking for alternatives that we won’t go broke using. The real problem with clean energy is the cost. As Bill Gates recently said, The cost of decarbonization using today’s technology is “beyond astronomical”, When we had a hole in the ozone in the late 80’s because of the refrigerants we were using it was pretty easy to get a global agreement to use a new refrigerant because it cost about the same. Problem solved! Science should be looking for alternatives to fossil fuels that are cost competitive. Then they’ll be accepted quickly and easily.

    • Dys

      Science should be looking for alternatives to fossil fuels that are cost competitive. Then they’ll be accepted quickly and easily.

      I think you’re being more than a bit naive here. Especially considering that some major political players have a vested interest in making sure certain industries that rely on those fossil fuels are able to continue making campaign contributions.

      It seems that what you’re advocating is that science just pass by on sources that look promising but will cost a lot of capital to develop in favour of something else that’s cheap and easy to exploit, but might not actually exist (or take far too long to discover).

    • One prediction by one model was wrong. That doesn’t get us very far.

      I strongly agree that this bickering helps nobody. We want energy independence. And, while the U.S. bickers internally, the Germans, Japanese, and others are developing the new technology.

    • RichardSRussell

      Science should be looking for alternatives to fossil fuels that are cost competitive.

      Check out the documentary film Who Killed the Electric Car? for a reality check on your naive assumption that simply being cost competitive is all it takes when you’re up against a terabuck establishment.

      • avalon

        Electric cars are a good example of how government ignores the real issues of competitiveness. The issues that make electric vehicles less competitive are:

        1) range
        2) time required to recharge vs time required to refuel

        3) high cost of battery replacement

        These could all be addressed by re-thinking the role of the battery. Here’s how it would work:
        1) Government sets a standard that all electric vehicles use an identical battery that can be easily swapped in minutes from the underside of the vehicle. (Such vehicles already exist in Denmark)

        2) A government/private partnership builds a multitude of battery swapping stations.

        Customers with an almost dead battery drive into the swapping station (think Jiffy Lube for batteries). (The old battery is removed and recharged on-site.) A different, fully-charged battery is installed. Customer pays a fee to cover the difference in charge, labor, and eventual replacement/recycling of the batteries.

        The swapping stations eliminate the disadvantage of range and charge time while also spreading out the cost of battery replacement by charging batteries after they’ve been removed and having a store of fully charged batteries on hand.When batteries wear out the stations send them off to be recycled.

        • RichardSRussell

          You’re blaming government for the hatchet job done on electric cars? You haven’t seen the documentary, have you?

        • avalon

          No, I’m blaming government for for not addressing the real issues. Instead of addressing the issues of competitiveness the government would rather bribe people to buy cars that takes hours to recharge vs the minutes it takes to refuel a gas vehicle.

        • Market forces would not have made the switch from leaded to unleaded gasoline. Sometimes the government needs to push things.

          More electric vehicles means more interest by car companies. A tiny market of people whining about car batteries’ slow charge time won’t spur industry.

        • I’m all for government interaction when that would be best, but Tesla is moving pretty quickly to make electric cars more practical.

        • avalon

          Are you claiming there’s no government interaction with Tesla?
          http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hy-musk-subsidies-20150531-story.html

          How would you rather see your tax dollars spent, subsidizing toys for the rich or building the infrastructure to make electric vehicles practical for everyone?

        • How would you rather see your tax dollars spent, subsidizing toys for the rich or building the infrastructure to make electric vehicles practical for everyone?

          And this is precisely Tesla’s stated goal: force the rich to drive down the costs so that they can get to their actual goal, an electric car for the masses. So far, they seem to be well on their way.

    • Zaoldyeck

      God that BBC article is terrible. I have *NO* idea what actual paper the scientists results were published in, and the quotes seem to have no context to search up either. (Were they interviews? What were the interviews? Was it taken from a press release? Where is the press release?)

      Googling just finds a bunch of people citing the same sources, sometimes even worse as just generic ‘scientists’, usually tracking back to that bbc article.

      I *think* the paper they’re talking about is this.
      http://www.oc.nps.edu/NAME/CiSE2007.pdf

      It appears to just be a paper that creates a model that responds well to atmospheric forcings, but is time-independent of the measured surface temperature, to try to capture shorter term climate related forcings.

      For example, heat exchange between the ocean and the atmosphere can be done by pure normal thermodynamic bouncing, but in a realistic model, there’s wind, hurricanes, waves, dynamics which change the rate that the ocean and atmosphere exchange heat not determined by the surface temperature. Same goes with salinity, which can adjust the rate water melts, but there are other factors going on.

      Is the model correct? Does it fail over certain timescales, if we look back far enough? (Do we even have the resolution to test very far back in time?)

      I don’t know, those are harder questions to answer, and would require I read a lot more into what the researchers published.

      Butttt, I can say that the BBC article does a terrible job in sourcing and quoting from scientific literature, and anyone with a ‘skeptic’ mindset claiming to be ‘pro-science’ really should not be getting their science from the popular press.

      Usually it’s just some regurgitated press release, which *hopefully* was written by someone with expertise in the subject, and *hopefully* read past the abstract, but that’s certainly not to be expected.

      Whenever the popular press tends to make ‘big claims’, reading the actual articles tends to muddle those claims considerably.

      Edit: It should be noted also that these aren’t US scientists, so… this isn’t just a US government thing, apparently this is a world conspiracy thing of scientists everywhere.

  • Rudy R

    Conservatives, for the most part, deny climate change science because it is counter to their economic philosophy. Rubio is a prime example. He’s not so much against climate change as he is against the unfair advantage the Chinese and Indian markets will have over the US, because China and India are major polluters and aren’t hampered with additional governmental costs. Conservatives need Big Oil and Big Coal industries to keep their party viable, so denying climate change is payback for their donor support.

  • Msironen

    “[Infecting science with politics] was accomplished for a reason, of course: specifically so that billions of dollars in global taxes may be levied at the point of a gun against the specter of anthropogenic climate change.”

    I wish someone would explain to me the endgame of this supposed climate conspiracy/hoax. Apparently it’s used to rip taxpayers (or whomever the ultimate victim is supposed to be) out of billion/trillions of dollars, but who then is the beneficient? Al Gore seems to come up pretty often, but as far as I know he doesn’t have a trillion dollars on his personal bank account.

    Even if it’s somehow totally illegitimate and nefarious, it seems to me that the worst thing going on here is shuffling money from non-clean/non-renewable industries to clean/renewable ones. I’m still not sure how that’s a bad end result even if against all odds climate science turns out a giant hoax. In other words:

    • That’s puzzled me as well. In this article, the author seems to not need to explain this in depth. His peeps already have an answer.

      But that doesn’t help us. Why US politicians would be motivated to send billions away for no good reason is beyond me.

      If you hang out at any “OMG, it’s the black helicopters!” sites, let us know once you figure it out. If you’re able to return, that is …

      • crazypreacher52

        It is my opinion, that all of the arguing about a million details, misses the point. First, let me say to Bob, that politicians will do most anytthing so a few elites can make a fortune. You don’t get that? Let’s get back to the core issues? Why is there anything, instead of nothing? If we can agree that we live in a real universe, then why does it exist? Or, why is there no purpose? Atheists will believe any far fetched thing, as long as it doesn’y affirm a deity?

        • politicians will do most anytthing so a few elites can make a fortune.

          Yes and no. The Gini index shows that 30 years ago, wealth inequality used to be less.

          Why is there anything, instead of nothing?

          Would nothing be the default? Show me that first.

          why is there no purpose?

          You want purpose? Assign your life purpose.

          As for an absolute/objective purpose, no, I don’t see any evidence of one.

          Atheists will believe any far fetched thing, as long as it doesn’y affirm a deity?

          Atheists tend to follow the evidence. There is paltry evidence for a deity.

        • crazypreacher52

          If we agree that the universe exists, wouldn’t it logically follow, that one would wonder how it came to be? Why it came to be? It seems like such an orderly universe to be the product of random atoms dncing? It is clear to me, that your primary purpose is to deny that there is a God. What are your credentials as a theologian? What do you make of Romans 1:18-20 ? Argument from design? Is there a real right & wrong? Why? No? Some say that right & wrong are simply subjective, but if that were true, our world order would make no sense whatever!

        • Dys

          wouldn’t it logically follow, that one would wonder how it came to be?

          Yep, and that’s one of the things science investigates.

          Why it came to be?

          Asking why presupposes a purpose. You’re jumping the gun.

          It seems like such an orderly universe to be the product of random atoms dncing?

          What is it with silly theists who seem to blindly think that if God wasn’t responsible for something, it must be completely random? It’s like they have to falsely boil everything down to false dichotomies.

          It is clear to me, that your primary purpose is to deny that there is a God.

          You forgot to fulfill your stereotype with the ‘something from nothing’ gambit.

          What are your credentials as a theologian

          Based on your questions, it appears you’ve mistakenly confused theology with philosophy. They’re not the same thing.

          What do you make of Romans 1:18-20

          It’s one of those convenient defensive verses in the scripture that believers can point to in order to shelter their beliefs from reality. But it’s not authoritative; it’s merely a lame excuse for believers to throw at non-believers.

          Argument from design?

          Is a flawed argument. It’s like you haven’t bothered to actually look at the counters to the arguments you like, and want to just really want to try and get ‘gotcha!’ moments where you can just yell “Argument from design proves God! Aha!”.

          Some say that right & wrong are simply subjective, but if that were true, our world order would make no sense whatever!

          What doesn’t make any sense is your assertion here. Morality is subjective, therefore atoms should behave differently than they do?

        • If we agree that the universe exists

          (Do many people disagree on this point?)

          one would wonder how it came to be?

          Sure. What’s your point?

          It seems like such an orderly universe to be the product of random atoms dncing?

          Orderly? It looks exactly like the product of random atoms dancing. The universe is very hostile to life, FYI.

          It is clear to me, that your primary purpose is to deny that there is a God.

          Wrong again.

          What are your credentials as a theologian?

          Is this the Courtier’s Reply?

          What do you make of Romans 1:18-20 ?

          “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

          I think it’s bullshit.

          Argument from design?

          Blogged about this one long ago. Seek and ye shall find.

          Is there a real right & wrong? Why? No?

          Search “objective morality” to find many posts.

          Some say that right & wrong are simply subjective, but if that were true, our world order would make no sense whatever!

          Oh? Read my posts on the matter and comment.

        • Kodie

          So, say you just don’t know. What makes you think a universe without a deity would be chaotically ordered and make no sense? Is that really the only reason you believe there’s a god? Because there’s too much order to be “accidental”? To people who think like you, I just don’t think you spend enough time learning about science or even looking around.

          If you wonder something, you stop wondering as soon as you place god as the answer. You’ve stopped short of an actual answer, and fixed on one that plugs up your wonderment. It’s sort of like ruining your appetite for dinner if you just fill your stomach with junk on the run. You feel fed, but you aren’t nourished.

        • MNb

          “one would wonder how it came to be?”
          Ah, now you’re on the right track. I have to withdraw my harsh words above.
          As soon as you ask “how” you imply that you adopt the scientific method and not religion. Indeed physics has some pretty good ideas about the “how”. Unfortunately empirical data are lacking and extremely hard to obtain.

          “What are your credentials as a theologian?”
          Ah, I was premature – I don’t have to withdraw my harsh words above. Theology is totally irrelevant for answering “how” questions because theology doesn’t have a reliable method.

          “What do you make of Romans 1:18-20 ?”
          Nothing. It doesn’t contain any science.

          “Some say that right & wrong are simply subjective, but if that were true, our world order would make no sense whatever!”
          Quite the opposite. Our ever changing world order makes a lot more sense on subjective morals. It might have escaped you, ignorant preacher, but the world order has changed quite a bit since your favourite Holy Book was written.

        • adam

          ” Atheists will believe any far fetched thing, as long as it doesn’y affirm a deity?”

          Sorry, but IGNORANCE doesnt affirm a deity…

        • crazypreacher52

          Name calling is preferred to debate? We must all think for ourselves, and beware of the possibility that the scientists may be wrong on some things!

        • No one is more aware that the scientific consensus might be wrong than those who embrace it. To do otherwise it simply to not understand science.

        • adam

          “Name calling is preferred to debate?”

          No, I prefer to debate, but you appear to be so stunningly ignorant of science to be able to participate.

          “We must all think for ourselves, and beware of the possibility that the scientists may be wrong on some things!”

          THAT is what science is.

          What science ISN’T: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5bd6077ef26e3f7539c0d2b4997a32e0573a2452f794051e0f1f73a9efb3aa4e.jpg

        • Kodie

          You also have to be aware that you’re neither capable or qualified to think for yourself. You’re only capable of being convinced that you’re doing the thinking because of a shitty argument, and you are ignorant, it’s not a name-calling thing, you are admitting your ignorance with every post, and it shows. You know nothing of science, you’ve been persuaded to be suspicious of it and get your information from liars who want everyone to think they are thinking for themselves instead of letting science be correct when it’s correct. And let’s get real – you believe and accept science without knowing anything about it all the time, except when you think in areas that it’s corrupt and trying to drive a wedge between you and your religious beliefs. If your religious beliefs stand on fantasy, so be it. You can’t fault science for being right and your religion for being wrong. You can reflect on how ignorant you are, and how you’re not actually thinking for yourself, but believing crafted lies meant to keep you from thinking for yourself, actually.

        • MNb

          “We must all think for ourselves”
          And that is exactly what you don’t do – with your “why” questions above you just parrot 20 Centuries of theologians. You have never asked yourself if those questions might be the wrong ones.

        • Dys

          Why is there anything, instead of nothing?

          Interesting question. Here’s another, related, one – Is ‘nothing’ possible, and if so, how do you know that?

          If we can agree that we live in a real universe, then why does it exist?

          As best as we can currently tell, because of the Big Bang.

          Or, why is there no purpose?

          There doesn’t appear to be one. That hasn’t stopped people from inventing them though.

          Atheists will believe any far fetched thing, as long as it doesn’y affirm a deity?

          Funnily enough, it appears you don’t have much more to offer than answering philosophical questions with god of the gaps style arguments.

        • Rudy R

          Why is there anything, instead of nothing?

          The default starting point could be something rather than nothing and that nothing is only possible in the abstract and not a possibility in reality.

          If we can agree that we live in a real universe, then why does it exist?

          It exists through physics and chemistry caused by the Big Bang. No other reasons required. Was there a reason for the universe during the first 3 billion years before life appeared on Earth?

          Or, why is there no purpose?

          You can’t decide your own purpose? You need someone else to determine your purpose? If you do, are you no better than a robot?

          Atheists will believe any far fetched thing, as long as it doesn’y affirm a deity?

          So by your definition, “far fetched things” are those things that don’t affirm a diety. So you believe in far fetched things if you don’t affirm the gods of Scientology, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and all the other thousand deities.

        • MNb

          “Let’s get back to the core issues? Why is there anything, instead of nothing?”
          And getting back to the core issues is exactly what you don’t do. Congratulations, ignorant preacher.
          The core questions are

          How come there is anything, instead of nothing?
          Then how come the Universe does exist?

          “Or, why is there no purpose?”
          And that is like asking “why is water not dry?”
          “Why” implies a purpose at beforehand.

          “Atheists will believe any far fetched thing, as long as it doesn’y affirm a deity?”
          A far fetched think like what?

          Yup – you’re the champ of asking the wrong questions.

  • Science is not about consensus, it’s about investigation and learning. The stupidest thing that has ever been said is “The science is settled” – science is NEVER settled, the moment Science is settled it ceases to be science and becomes a religion.

    Once upon a time the science was settled that the earth was flat until Pythagoras began to teach otherwise. Once upon a time the science was settled that the earth was the center of the universe, that was taught by the wisest of sage Greek scientists and philosophers.

    Right now the “science is settled” that the earth is warming, so settled in fact that governments are ignoring the needs and desires of their people to back this consensus… It appears that the only scientist who disagree with this scenario are scientists that believe that the earth is cooling. If the believers in warming are correct we win – they have the government backing, but if the scientists whose data shows that the earth is cooling is correct we all loose because the world is preparing for the opposite to happen. Millions of people will die due to exposure to the cold and the famines caused by crop loss in a world woefully unprepared for this to happen.

    And no, this isn’t idle speculation, historically people do better during warm periods than cold periods. During the little ice age the population of the earth was decimated by plagues, disease and famine, while during warm periods (much warmer than we have now) people flourished, and were even farming on Greenland.

    But what do I know – I’m just a student of history. By your reckoning I have no business voicing any opinion on science. I suppose if you were intellectually honest by your thinking you would also have to say that an Atheist has no business voicing any opinion about Christianity

    • Science is not about consensus

      Consensus is important for the nonscientists to know what the best guess at reality is.

      The stupidest thing that has ever been said is “The science is settled” – science is NEVER settled

      Agreed. Not what I’m saying here or have ever said in my entire life.

      historically people do better during warm periods than cold periods

      It’s not quite climate warming as it is climate change. The rule of thumb I’ve heard is that you’ll get more of what you’ve been getting. If you live in a dry area, expect it to get drier, etc.

      If you’re looking for a silver lining in climate change, yes, I’m sure there will be colder places that get warmer (say) and so produce more crops, but there will be plenty of new hardships according to the projections.

      By your reckoning I have no business voicing any opinion on science.

      Who are you talking to? I voice my opinion about science here all the time (though I universally and deliberately repeat the scientific consensus, if it exists). I frequently object, however, to numbnuts like Wm. Lane Craig who anoint scientific conclusions that they like as correct and conclusions that they dislike as crap.

      • voxvot

        Scientific consensus is nonsense. The supposition that a majority of scientists at any given time believe something to be true makes it true is the total antithesis of science. Science is based solely on facts and logic, and science is crucially based on mavericks like Einstein who reinterpret facts in more logical ways that refute consensus opinion, so whenever someone invokes consensus you can bet dollars to donuts that their motivation is power, status, politics or money…in fact, almost anything except science.

        • The supposition that a majority of scientists at any given time believe something to be true makes it true is the total antithesis of science.

          Who says this? Not me.

          whenever someone invokes consensus you can bet dollars to donuts that their motivation is power, status, politics or money…in fact, almost anything except science.

          Gotta disagree with you there.

          The value of the scientific consensus is that it helps we non-scientist knuckleheads figure out what to believe. That’s it.

        • MNb

          “mavericks like Einstein”
          Always nice, ignorance like yours. Einstein wasn’t a maverick at all. Check Henri Poincaré and Hendrik Antoon Lorentz, to name only the two most important ones. Plus Einstein didn’t refute any scientific consensus, simply because there wasn’t one yet on the Michelson-Morley experiment.

        • voxvot

          You guys use the word “ignorance” more than black activists. You say there “wasn’t one yet”, with the implication that there is one now, the validity of which is being called into question despite the present consensus, so thanks for your endorsement of my point.

        • MNb

          “You guys use the word “ignorance” more than black activists.”
          Ah, the sweet smell of racism in the morning. Are you a relic from South African apartheid or something? Of course how often black activists and I use the word ignorant is totally irrelevant. What matters is if I demonstrated your ignorance; I totally did by providing facts. You happily ignore them.

          “You say there “wasn’t one yet”, with the implication that there is one now”
          Indeed, there is consensus on Relativity and the Michelson-Morley experiment now.

          “the validity of which is being called into question”
          Really? Back up or shut up, my dear apologist. Name me one prominent physicist who questions the validity of the consensus on Relativity.

        • Paul B. Lot

          “whenever someone invokes consensus you can bet dollars to donuts that their motivation is power, status, politics or money…in fact, almost anything except science.”

          Wow. Don’t you think you owe Crichton an apology, or at least a citation?

        • Dys

          Voxxy, all you’re doing is creating sad excuses to believe whatever you feel like. If someone bucks the scientific consensus, they have to be prepared to demonstrate the strength of their hypothesis or theory. If they’re successful, then their ideas become the consensus. So all you’re really complaining about is that the scientific consensus isn’t always right. But you haven’t (and probably can’t) provide a better methodology.

          who reinterpret facts in more logical ways that refute consensus opinion

          In other words, the exact opposite of what creationists, intelligent design creationists, and others who pretend that “goddidit” is a viable alternative to science do.

          so whenever someone invokes consensus you can bet dollars to donuts that their motivation is power, status, politics or money

          Since you’re an expert on fallacy spotting, I’m sure you’re more than capable of recognizing which one you’ve committed with this statement.