Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Anthony Watts, about those AGW-critical "credible theories" and "best explanations"?

Anthony Watts featured an interesting innuendo recently, basically suggesting that Anthropogenic Global Warming skeptics have indeed developed some "credible theories" and "best explanations" supporting their claim that around 97% of active climatologists are wrong about their understanding of our global heat distribution engine, also known as our planet's climate system.

Mann on mathematics, alcohol, and ‘proof’ 
Posted on  by Anthony Watts
‘Proof? We don’t need no steenkin proof’ 
Rich Trzupek writes: 
In a post over at [The Policy and Commentary Blog of the Heartland Institute] Peter Guest’s blog, Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann is quoted making one of the most remarkable statements that I’ve ever heard coming out of a supposed scientist’s mouth: 
          “Proof is for mathematical theorems and alcoholic beverages. It’s not for science.” 
He goes on to explain that science is all about “credible theories” and “best explanations” and his gosh-darn critics supposedly don’t offer up any of those
Now it seems pretty obvious that Mann’s attempt to separate proof from science stems from increasing public awareness that the warming predicted by the high-sensitivity models that Mann and others have championed just hasn’t occurred over the last fifteen years. No matter. You don’t need “proof” when you have “credible theories”. {I have added a couple links to correct Anthony's misrepresentations.}
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To begin with, look at the source Anthony turns to: Heartland Institute's "Somewhat Reasonable" blog.  Remember Heartland?  That's the Chicago "think tank" folks who argue against scientific findings with logic like this:

Tip of the Hat to DeSmogBlog.com

Since they are a political advocacy group, guess it's only to be expected that they play the PR Game by the ruthless code of modern corporate political ethics, namely that pretty near anything and everything, no matter how underhanded or dishonest, is permissible if you can get away with it.  {Belatedly, some Republican big wigs are stepping up and admitting "the global warming debate is over"}

Whereas within the scientific community the focus is on working towards learning and better understanding with it's self-policing and correcting system based on openness of information and fair exchange of ideas {and here}.  A system that has its flaws, as all human enterprises do, however one that has a philosophical underpinning and more checks and balances than any other.

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Dear Anthony and Heartland: 
where's your steenkin science papers?

I invite Mann's critics to list some of these supposed "credible theories" and "best explanations" Anthony Watts and Heartland imply that skeptics possess?  Where is their evidence, let alone any proof?
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This brings us to the heart of the WUWT post, namely their continuing war on Dr. Michael Mann, or as science skeptics like to refer to him: Mr. Hockey Stick {neglecting to mention the many subsequent "hockey sticks" other paleoclimate scientists have documented - here, here, here}.  And since Anthony chooses to interpret Dr. Mann's words rather than share them unfiltered - allow me to share this portion of Peter Guest's article: "Chaos and the Hockey Stick

"... Mann compares it to asymmetrical warfare. 
“One side, us, the scientists, have to be true to our principles, have to be truthful to our audience, have to state our findings with appropriate caveats, and the other side sees absolutely no need to do that.” 
Communicating the threat and cause of climate change is extraordinarily hard for scientists, in part because statistics, projections and abstractions are very difficult to wind into narratives. 
Sometimes big events cause big events; sometimes imperceptible ones bring down entire systems—the climate is an Oslo Sand Pile. This chaos problem presents a very difficult narrative dilemma. Constantly looking for a straighforward cause-effect relationship is a feature of the news media. This is why coverage of stock markets is often tinged with the absurd and hard to believe—crowds are systems at a critical point. One fat finger, one misplaced tweet can cause a scale invariant collapse—up or down. It is not just that the system is irrational, it is that it is critical, and governed by the same chaotic interactions that describe the incidence and magnitude of earthquakes. 
It would be incorrect to say with conviction that Hurricane Sandy itself was the direct result of climate change, even though extreme events like Sandy are going to become more frequent, or at least more probable over any given time period, because of a rise in global temperatures. 
When asked: “Did climate change cause that drought”, the honest answer is not: “Yes, of course.” The answer is “Climate change made that drought more likely.” 
And, of course, scientists themselves have doubts over how to interpret individual events. When the pace of global warming seems to slow, the burden is on climatologists to evaluate the evidence; when the rate of carbon dioxide released by arctic melt is lower, they have to explain why. Their opponents need only sit back and say “I told you so.” 
“Proof is for mathematical theorems and alcoholic beverages. It’s not for science,” Mann says. “Science works in evidence through best explanations, most credible theories, and so in a sense we’re at a disadvantage because we have to play by the rules, the other side doesn’t… They’re not offering up credible alternatives or explanations. 
In most cases they’re trying to pick holes. Not real holes, just things that the public will think are holes, in the science. We are at a disadvantage.” 
Bound by honesty, the scientific consensus is going to struggle to overcome this problem, appearing unable to actually back up its results with tangible events, offering, Cassandra-like, warnings of a future that will go unheeded until it is too late. ..."
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Further reading :

Global Warming: The Folly of Certainty

August 4, 2013
Larry Jones is driving the minivan across the Utah desert on Highway 163, with Sally in the passenger seat and the two kids dozing in the back. According to the map they are approaching the town of Pawoopsie. The radio is on, tuned to a Pawoopsie station that plays country music, but the reception isn’t very good. Suddenly the music cuts off and an announcer’s voice comes in: “static–one sixty-three–static–Pawoopsie–static–bridge collapsed–static–highway patrol says–static”, and then nothing but static. 
Sally sits up. “Did he say that the highway bridge in Pawoopsie collapsed?” 
Larry shrugs. “I don’t know.”
“It sounded like that’s what he was saying.”
“I don’t know; too much static.”
“Aren’t we getting close to Pawoopsie?”
“Yeah, should be a couple more miles.”
Larry, don’t you think you should slow down?”
“Well, if the bridge has collapsed . . .”
“Are you sure that the bridge has collapsed?”
“No, but . . .”
“Then why should I slow down?” 
Here’s the thing about that story: it’s not at all hard to understand. You can tell it to 100 people, and 99 of them will realize that Larry Jones is being stupid. It doesn’t take a brilliant mind to figure out that when you’re hurtling toward possible catastrophe, only a fool would refuse to slow down and start paying attention. 
Unfortunately, when it comes to the current debate about climate change, the scientific community has somehow worked itself into the position of implicitly assuming that the public are too stupid to understand that story. We have been treating the public as though they are a large mass of Larry Joneses. That’s a blunder, and one that has cost us big time.
{ check out the rest here }
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Actually, I think Mr. Skaggs is being way too forgiving of the Republican Public who demonizes, and refuses to heed, anyone who threatens their comfort zone... thus it seems to me, they should be exposed as accessories to the fact.

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Global Warming Denial Is Science-Proof

"... So here I am again, shaking my head after reading yet another in a long line of global-warming denial articles making bizarre claims. This one was written by Rich Trzupek and is entitled “Michael Mann Redefines Science”
The title alone told me I was in trouble—Mann is actually a respected climate scientist (except in the antireality-o-sphere, that is)—and then I saw where this gem was posted: on the Heartland Institute’s blog. You remember the Heartland Institute, right? They’re the ones who put up billboards comparing climate scientists to mass murderers and dictators, which caused such a foofooraw that they hemorrhaged sponsors. They had to take the billboards down, but then declared the campaign a success
So it’s no surprise they’d publish such astonishingly wrong blog post. There are too many claims in it to go over one-by-one, but the author has kindly made one claim that is such a howler that it’s really the only thing one need read:
In a post over at Peter Guest’s blog, Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann is quoted making one of the most remarkable statements that I’ve ever heard coming out of a supposed scientist’s mouth:
“Proof is for mathematical theorems and alcoholic beverages. It’s not for science.”
Science is not about proof

A proof is when you know something for absolute 100% certain, and that never happens. 

However, as I’ll show, in real life you don’t need 100% certainty to still be reasonably sure about something, sure enough to take action. ... {link} 

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1 comment:

Lawrence Anderson-Hiuang said...

Perhaps the reason why Mr. Watts does not have a degree is that he never understood that science is not about facts and proofs but about relationships, synthesis, and model building. Facts are at the lowest level of Bloom's taxonomy and he never graduated beyond that. It might make him a good TV weatherman, but that is about it.