The great thing about Science is its enormous flexibility

The great thing about Science is its enormous flexibility January 9, 2014

Why, in the right hands you can use it to prove anything you like!

“Scientists have found other indications of global cooling. For one thing there has been a noticeable expansion of the great belt of dry, high-altitude polar winds–the so-called circumpolar vortex–that sweep from west to east around the top and bottom of the world.” –Time, June 24, 1974

“Not only does the cold spell not disprove climate change, it may well be that global warming could be making the occasional bout of extreme cold weather in the U.S. even more likely. Right now much of the U.S. is in the grip of a polar vortex, which is pretty much what it sounds like: a whirlwind of extremely cold, extremely dense air that forms near the poles.” –, Jan. 6, 2014

HT: Mike Flynn

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  • ivan_the_mad

    Ha! The issue of pollution has got itself wrapped up with the religious cause of man-made global cooling / warming / unspecified change by scientific fundamentalists. This is really unfortunate, since air and water quality are issues largely severable from that of climate change. It’s guilt by association in some quarters.

    • HornOrSilk

      I would suggest that was the propaganda plan by big corporate heads and people like the Koch brothers, because they don’t want to pay, now, for the costs to keep pollution down. They always whine about the high cost of proper environmental standards, and global warming (which, despite what some thing, still has positive scientific evidence for it) is brought up as an excuse to ignore the environment (I’m with the Vatican on global warming, but even if you are not, sane people like you understand the need for a good environment). Of course, not fixing things now, will make the cost that much worse in the future, even if there is no global warming. Do we ever learn?

      • ivan_the_mad

        Then they’ve useful fools in the climate zealots. I am ignorant regarding man-made climate change and so defer personal judgement on the matter (but not on its zealous proponents or opponents). Yet I should think it fairly obvious that easily demonstrable issues of localized air and water pollution are casualties of the politicized cacophony that passes for debate. Also, as you indicate, it’s not as though the Church has failed to provide guidance in the matter of environmental stewardship. The veracity of man-made climate change is to me very much a moot point, since our course of action ought to be the same regardless. I think we are largely in agreement here.

        ivan_the_mad is … sane? I’m clearly doing something wrong 😉

        • HornOrSilk

          Well, as long as toothpicks have directions explaining how to use them on their packages…. do you want to be sane in our society? 😉

          we are in agreement with what should be done, which is what is most important. And yes, the casualties are great — of course, this is the physical manifestation of sin, and the destruction of the earth without real concern (there is, often, a charade of concern, especially from so-called environmentalists who also hurt the cause) shows the sinful
          core of our modern society and how it eats way at the earth itself.

  • SteveP

    A fine examples of the “Have conclusion, will observe” methodology (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

  • Guest

    In fairness, while this appears to be a case of SCIENCE ™ contradicting itself, in fairness, this must be properly categorized as a case of TIME Magazine contradicting itself, and there is little to no connection between SCIENCE ™ and TIME.

  • Brett Powers

    While this appears to be a case of SCIENCE ™ contradicting itself, in fairness, this must be properly categorized as a case of TIME Magazine contradicting itself, and there is little to no connection between SCIENCE ™ and TIME.

    • introvert_prof

      SCIENCE(tm) “contradicts itself” all the time. It’s called new evidence, or bringing old evidence into harmony with other old evidence, or etc. This calling up of 40-year-old science to debunk current science would be impressive, if it were being done by someone actually working in the field.

      Or do you laugh at CERN because, after all, just 110 years ago it was entirely respectable to assert that atoms did not exist except as convenient fictions?

      • Excellent and timely point. Empirical science isn’t designed for certainty. Theories must be open to falsification for the scientific method to work. That’s why any who would call human-triggered global warming/cooling/climate change “settled science” or appeal to scientific consensus as an excuse to ignore contrary evidence have adopted a remarkably unscientific mindset.

        • introvert_prof

          Nonsense. By that reasoning, we should soberly give credence to every crank with a perpetual motion machine.

  • Raymond

    Gee, is there any other area of study that has source material that can be referenced to prove anything the students want? Seems like there might be, but I can’t seem to put my finger on it…

  • Elmwood

    Just like all those fools who believe the sun is the center of the solar system. What do the authors of 97% of peer-reviewed climate papers know anyways.

  • Ye Olde Statistician

    The humor appertains to the citation of the self-same datum to support two diametrically opposed conclusions. What that mean is that in neither case was there a causal link between cooling and/or warming and the polar vortex. It’s not whether one or the other is true (or that they are alternately true), it’s that propensity that when you believe X is true and you see A you immediately cry that A is new support for X. I have seen increased hurricane frequency cited as evidence of global warming; then, when hurricanes decreased in frequency, the decrease was cited as evidence. It’s like people who see the Virgin Mary in a bagel.

  • Elmwood

    Here are some theories of why this “polar vortex” and other extreme weather events may be related to global warming.

    The idea is that the Artic is warming rapidly because of loss of sea ice. This creates bigger meanders in the jet stream allowing extreme weather events: both drought and cold, to affect North America. So while it’s probably impossible to determine if hurricane sandy or this cold was caused by global warming, paradoxically, it is a possible that it extreme cold snaps could be caused by global warming.

    Here is a seemingly contradictory claim: In Much of U.S., Extreme Cold is Becoming More Rare.

    Maybe what is happening is that these extreme cold events are more rare, but relatively more extreme because of a warming climate.