Friday, August 15, 2014

necessary and sufficient falsifiable hypothesis statements

I finally got around to revisiting the "Climate Science Falsifiability" discussion at
to see where it leads.  It's pretty wild and there's no keeping up with K so I thought I'd take it from the top to review where this discussion began.

To start with some quotes from Hans Custers' article:
A very, ehhrmm… interesting piece on  
Variable Variability, Victor Venema’s blog: Interesting what the interesting Judith Curry finds interesting. And I don’t mean interesting in a rhetoric, suggestive way; I mean it is a well-written and well-reasoned article, worth reading.  
Victor writes about the meme regularly used by the anti climate science campaign, often supported by some straw man arguments, that the science of human impacts on climate would not be falsifiable. He shows it’s nonsense, by giving some examples of how it could be falsified. Or, more likely, already would have been falsified, if the science would be wrong. Victor’s post inspired me to think of more options to falsify generally accepted viewpoints in climate science. If there are any ‘climate change skeptics’ who want to contribute to real science, they might see this as a challenge. Maybe they can come up with a research proposal, based on one of the options for falsification. Like proper scientists would do. 
First, a few more things about falsifiability in general. Bart wrote a concise post about the subject four years ago, explaining that a bird in the sky does not disprove gravity. What looks like a refutation at first, might on second thoughts be based on partial or total misunderstanding of the hypothesis. Natural climate forcings and variations do not exclude human impacts. Therefore, the existence of these natural factors in itself, cannot falsify anthropogenic climate change. A real skeptic is cautious about both scientific evidence and refutations. 

One more thing. The philosophical principle of falsifiability and the feasibility of tests for it are two different subjects. ... Philosophy of science does not set a time frame for hypotheses testing. The issues involved in the testing of hypotheses are the story of almost every scientist’s life. They’re not sitting back, thinking of new and brilliant ideas, most of the time. Instead, they are busy digging for data, messing with measuring equipment, or evaluating errors in experiments. For climate scientists, one of the major issues is the pace at which they can get new information: one year of data every year. And one year of data is not a lot for climate research. There are no test tube planets for climate experiments. ..."

That’s it for falsifiability in general. Here are the 10 way to disprove the human impact on climate:

1. A drop in global temperatures for some period of time to the level of 50 years ago or longer, without a clear cause

2. A drop in global sea level for some period of time

3. A strong rise or decline in the atmospheric CO2 level

4. The discovery that climate forcings in the past were much larger, or temperature changes much smaller, than science thinks

5. Warming of the stratosphere

6. Major errors in equipment in satellites, measuring outgoing longwave radiation

7. Evidence of a substantial fall of relative humidity with rising temperature

8. A source of heat in the climate system that we do not know yet

9. A fundamental flaw in the scientific understanding of radiation physics or thermodynamics

10. CO2 molecules appear to behave differently in the wild, than they do in a laboratory

Highlights and review

krischel Says: 
May 23, 2014 at 21:13
"citizenschallenge – the trick is that trivial falsifications do not automatically add up to a falsifiable hypothesis.  
{Why do you believe you are qualified to judge what is trivial and what is not trivial?}
You need to have a necessary and sufficient falsifiable hypothesis statement. So,
1) a list of observations, which if observed, mean your hypothesis is false;
2) a logical argument that the lack of those falsifications means that your hypothesis must be favored over all others (including the null).
The null hypothesis, is of course, natural climate change explains all observed climate change."
{K is big on this null hypothesis that is "natural climate change explains all observed climate change" - yet he steadfastly ignores the fact that there is nothing "un-natural" about current warming in respect to how GHG levels impact our global heat distribution engine.  Adding extraordinary amounts of GHGs into our atmosphere will in turn substantial alter the operational parameters of our climate engine.
Look at his entire approach in this discussion, it is a Court Room Defense Strategy, where the substance of his opponent's arguments and evidence make no difference to him and are ignored at will.  All he is focused on is trying to find any flaw, real, imagined, or fabricated - substantial or trivial makes no difference.  Find the flaw, create a perception, then exploit it with shear personal force in order to misdirect attention away from the evidence being presented.}
krischel Says: 
May 21, 2014 at 06:27
A good start, but some pretty big holes there:
"1. A drop in global temperatures for some period of time to the level of 50 years ago or longer, without a clear cause"
We’ve already seen that in the ice core record. Certainly nobody claims they have any sort of climate model that accurately hind casts ice ages.
{K's dodge: we are talking about our globe's contemporary situation, not deep time.}
"2. A drop in global sea level for some period of time"
Same as #1.
{K's dodge: ignoring the question}
"3. A strong rise or decline in the atmospheric CO2 level"
Same as #1.
{K's dodge: we are talking about our globe's contemporary, not deep time.}
From K's approach to these first items it seems his Zero Hypothesis is that 'if climate change happened in the past, humans can't be accountable for current climate change.
Seems rather childish.}
"4. The discovery that climate forcings in the past were much larger, or temperature changes much smaller, than science thinks"
Argument from ignorance. Just because we can’t enumerate all natural causes of climate change doesn’t mean that we must find them to disprove the pet theory that human CO2 emissions overwhelm all natural factors.
{K's dodge: no one said "must" - the point was finding one would serve.  None have been found thus far.}
"5. Warming of the stratosphere"
No reason this cannot happen naturally.
{K's dodge:  CO2 is natural, so yes if other natural sources would spike our atmosphere with CO2 similar behavior would be witnessed.  But we know that society is the source of today's skyrocketing atmospheric greenhouse gas levels.
Your contrarian will play such rhetorical games that might even make logical sense in a linear sort of way, but when a full understanding of all the facts at hand are taken into account they evaporate. }
"6. Major errors in equipment in satellites, measuring outgoing long wave radiation"
Again, no reason why measured outgoing long wave radiation cannot be a natural phenomenon.
{K's dodge: The outgoing long wave radiation is a natural phenomenon so what's K's point?  The issue in question is measuring the changes in this radiation flux, and comparing that to other known geophysical conditions on our planet and observing it's current rate of change.
Your contrarian type always tries to compartmentalize, trivialize, disregard.}
"7. Evidence of a substantial fall of relative humidity with rising temperature"
Same as #5 and 6, but more importantly, this is one of the grand failures of GCMs that assume a feedback effect from CO2 to water vapor. The predicted humidity increases haven’t happened.
{K's dodge: Bearing false witness.  There is a long line of evidence indicating a global warming driven moistening of our atmosphere, here is the latest.}
Global warming is moistening the atmosphere 
Human-caused global warming is causing the upper troposphere to become wetter
"8. A source of heat in the climate system that we do not know yet"
Another argument from ignorance.
{K's dodge:  Running away from the question.  K seems in a rush to dismiss and ignore, no interesting in considering the suggestion, or it's implications.}
"9. A fundamental flaw in the scientific understanding of radiation physics or thermodynamics"
Necessary, but certainly not sufficient. You could claim that if the speed of light is wrong, then astrology is debunked, but the speed of light itself, or any other physical constant, does not imply a complex theory must be true.
{K's dodge:  Defamation by association.  
We are talking climate science but K's need for slander inspires him to repeatedly use astrology, religion and god examples as though they are interchangeable with the scientific process - which they most certainly are not.
The discussion is supposed to be concerned with better understanding the geophysics of our planet, but that's the last thing your typical contrarian will allow one to discuss.
Beyond that K's statement makes no sense.  A fundamental flaw in our understanding would change everything.  But the reality is that within a narrow margin, our planet is behaving exactly as fundamental physics implies it should.}
"10. CO2 molecules appear to behave differently in the wild, than they do in a laboratory"
Same as #9
{K's dodge:  Running away from the question. 
Regarding these ten items from Hans Custers:
  1. Hans Custers Says: 
    May 24, 2014 at 16:20
    "It’s obvious you missed the whole point of this post, as you write:
    If anything, the original list of 10 items was a Gish Gallop in the classic sense – as is the typical response of “look at all this evidence and ignore any contradictions you see!” "

HC: Contrarians don’t need to falsify all the items in the list to disprove anthropogenic climate change. They only need to falsify one. So it’s the opposite of a Gish Gallop: the longer the list, the easier it should be for contrarians to pick one item to falsify.

HC: Oh, and krischel, the list of 10 items is not the main part of this post. I had some fun trying to get to 10 items, after writing the rest of it. Not all items are supposed to be taken too seriously, although even the most nonsensical ones are based on claims by climate pseudoskeptics.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
krischel Says: May 23, 2014 at 21:40
1) you’ve got no citation for any models which can accurately hind cast prior ice ages. Searching google scholar for “modeling past ice ages” is hardly a citation :)
{To what degree of perfect are you expecting these models to be?  A look here makes clear that models have and are being used to refine our understanding of Milanovitch cycles.
2) your assertion that ignoring the ocean’s role in climate change is dishonest is an indictment of all the AGW supporters who insist that the oceans cannot be drivers of climate change, but must first be affected by human CO2 emissions;
{You rearranged and misrepresent what I said.  What is claimed is that oceans cannot be the source of global warming!
Oceans absorb, move and release heat.
That process of absorbing, moving and releasing that heat (and moisture) very much impacts global weather patterns, but the sun and our planet's atmospheric insulation layer are where the heat is produced.
Mind you weather is a reflection of the state of the climate.}
3) I don’t expect them to produce perfect images – but simply responding to observations with ad hoc special pleadings, in order to preserve the central conceit, is dishonest.
{Who says that's how they operate?  
It's a maliciously cynical view born in the heart of an Ad Man.  
Spend a little time listening to scientists who work with models, you will see they are seeking understanding and are as skeptical as a rational mind can be.  These people are not playing with models in order to create a preconceived notion - that's pure fabricated political yellow journalism stuff.  Scientists are working models in order to learn about what they are witnessing in our atmosphere, it's one of the most complicated undertakings of computational science, playing fudge games would send all the data to utter chaos in short order.
In the case of our planet's climate, the information scientists are gathering shows that the things we love the most are damaging it and our planet's future the most, it's that simple.
This has resulted in self-centered hostile special interests who believe only "corporate free market" and profits matter and that any information threatening their world view needs to be demonized, derided, marginalized and ignored.}
4) Insisting that the short term accuracy of weather forecast models can be extrapolated to long term climate models is a non sequitur;
{No one claimed that !  
The point was that the math to understand these complex dynamics has been proven in the success of weather forecasting (although K might suggest modern forecasting is a failure because it's success rate hasn't hit 99.9% ) 
Or to put it another way, no one is extrapolating weather forecasting models into climate models.  But, the same basic physics applies to both and the sophistication of weather models demonstrates the high level of scientific understanding regarding the geophysical basics of atmosphere, ocean, and weather patterns.
K's is another example of the contrarian need to misrepresent what an opponent is actually saying}
5) Asserting that CO2 levels in the atmosphere are simply a function of independent sources and sinks is unfounded;
{This makes no sense.  K seems to be asserting that there may be some metaphysical influence on our atmosphere's CO2 levels... or what?}
6) The claim that skepticism of failed predictions is “obsessing over minor details” sounds a lot like the response of an astrologist :)
{We are talking about our planet's climate system, it is big and it is somewhat chaotic within it's 'strange attractors' - K's expecting a perfect understanding, which is impossible.}
7) It’s ironic that you outsource your rational thought processes to “true experts”, but try to argue individual points :) Again, appeal to authority is a logical fallacy;
{What is this "outsourcing"? 
Here again is an example of the malicious twisting of words and forced hostile dialogue rather then engaging in a constructive good faith process.
I was explaining how I have loved reading about science and these days with the internet and YouTube listening to experts lecturing on their topics of expertise.  It's how I (we) learn, it's the usual process of absorbing as much information as I can and developing my own ideas consistent with my own previous learning tempered by my own personal experiences.  But K must put a negative hostile twist into it - demonstrating his need to portray me an idiot rather than another rational thinking person.
Such has been the approach of the AGW contrarian with any 'warmist' they engage.  It's like a formula to win an argument rather than a process to learn from with them.}
8) You can’t go from underlying physical properties of gases and extrapolate to some grand theory of global climate change dominated by human CO2 emissions (or any source of CO2 emissions in the past for that matter). You’re skipping important steps.
{Why not?
Atmospheric greenhouse gases insulate our planet.
Increasing atmospheric GHGs increase our planet's insulating ability.
Increasing our planet's insulation ability will increase our planet's global temperature, as long as the sun's output doesn't change.
Increasing our global heat distribution engine (read climate) temperature will increase the atmosphere's moisture holding capacity.
Increasing our planet's temperature and atmospheric moisture level will energize and supercharge the dynamics within our climate engine.
Humanity's society has developed into an extremely complex and vulnerable network over the past 8/10 thousand years of relatively stable global climate - 
Humans have been burning unbelievable quantities of the coal and oil that produces these great quantities of CO2 among other greenhouse gases.
This coming era of a warming world will radically enhanced the weather patterns our society depends on for it's health.  (As has been witnesses these past decades)
Ignoring the issue = CAGW}
- - - 
It’s funny, in the end, you assert that disagreement with your position is driven by politics, “clinging to our greed-based ever increasing consumerist life-styles”. And in this, you show your true colors – you’re a partisan, who has picked a side, and will believe it regardless of any observations that contradict it.
{Actually, I'm saying it's the ignoring or misrepresenting the information scientists offer along with K's refusal to digest information he don't like that indicated he's driven by politics interest rather than a rational learning process.
As for the cumulative dangers of increasing consumerism, what's the problem, why such contempt for the mathematical realities of cumulative compounding interest.
It's like contrarian types are incapable of allowing themselves to look at the dark side of all this consumerism we love, such as the destruction that has happened to the biological communities that used to live on the surface of our continental shelves, but have been destroyed by relentless fishing trawler dredging.  Or the degradation of rivers throughout the world.  Or the recent challenges beginning to be faced our global agriculture and distribution systems.  Not to mention what the insurance industry has been paying out and what they are warning us about.
Why do the "free marketers" have such deep disregard for the cost and harm being inflicted by these many systems.  Do they really think we are immune?}
~ ~ ~

There's much more to write but I've got little time these days and I must leave this dangling for now.  But, I'll be back, good providence willing ;- ) 

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