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The Credulity of those Posing as the Champions of Science

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This post is NOT about global warming.  It is about the credulity of some religious fanatics who, ironically, pose as paragons of scientific skepticism.  Global warming alarmists often call skeptics of global warming alarmism “science deniers.”  The idea seems to be that the alarmists are the sober-minded champions of dispassionate science, and the skeptics are benighted opponents of scientific endeavor.

The reality is, of course, oftentimes just the opposite, as a recent exchange with wd400 illustrates.

In a previous post I noted how the recent “2014 Warmest Year on Record” headlines were almost certainly false.  The alleged record consisted of a .02C increase when the margin of error of the measurement was 0.1C.  In other words, the alleged increase was a small fraction of the margin of error, and the NASA director now says there was only a 38 per cent chance that his press release was correct.

Wd400 picked up on the following sentence from the post:

Global warming: The only area of science where researchers report as absolute fact claims that are almost certainly not true.

And the following exchange occurred:

wd400

62% is “almost certainly” and you are accusing others of being fast and loose with numbers?

BA

So you admit that it is overwhelmingly false; just not certainly false. And that makes you feel better?

wd400

I don’t even know what “overwhelmingly false” means, something is true or it a’int. Evidence might overwhelming support a hypothesis, but are you really trying to say a probability of 62% is “overwhelming” in addition to “almost certain”?

Well, wd, let me see if I can help you out.  First, the entire context of the discussion was the probability of the NASA report being false.  In that context “overwhelmingly false” is obviously shorthand for “an overwhelming probability of being false.”

And yes, ontologically speaking, something is true or it is not true.  Either 2014 was the warmest year on record or it was not.  But this is not an ontological issue.  It is an epistemological issue.  As in many scientific endeavors we cannot know with certainty.  That is why many scientific conclusions are cast in terms of probability, i.e., “there is a 97% chance that X is true.”  That is why the field of statistics was developed to begin with.  The issue, therefore, is about the confidence with which we can say 2014 was the warmest year on record, and it turns out that we cannot make that assertion with any confidence. We now know the statement is probably false.

And speaking of statistics, historically the threshold for scientific assertion was 95% probability.  In other words, a scientist worried about his reputation would not assert anything as scientific fact if there were even a 5.1% chance that he was wrong.

Well, of course, that all got thrown out the window with global warming hucksterism such as that demonstrated by the NASA report.  There NASA asserted as fact a proposition that had a 62% probability of being false.  In other words, NASA threw scientific standards out the window.  If 5% is a historically acceptable margin, NASA accepted a margin that was 12.4 times greater.

WD suggested I was playing “fast and loose” with the terms “almost certainly” and “overwhelmingly.”  Well, those words are relative.  In this case they are relative to the historically accepted scientific confidence levels, and in comparison to those levels the terms I used are perfectly appropriate.

Now that we have that cleared up, let’s go on to discuss the larger issue – wd400’s credulity.  His comments seem to suggest something like “there is only a 62% chance that the ‘2014 was the warmest year’ assertion was false; therefore the phrases ‘overwhelmingly false’ and ‘almost certainly false’ are exaggerations.”

To which I would say, what is your point?  You are the one who says he is on the side of science.  Scientists always say it is important to be skeptical, to insist on high standards of proof for scientific assertions.  That is why we have a confidence margin (95%) that is so high in the first place.

What does it say about you that you quibble with the words “overwhelming” and “almost false” when a claim falls short of that margin by a factor of 12.4X?  It says that the science is not important to you.  It says that your blind leap in the dark religious faith is comfortable accepting any assertion as scientific fact – even if that assertion is probably false – if the assertion is consonant with your faith commitments.  And that, coming from someone who claims to be on the side of science, is truly ironic.

Comments
Have I been banned? I'm missing some comments!rvb8
January 25, 2015
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PaV, thats a denialist myth http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11645-climate-myths-we-are-simply-recovering-from-the-little-ice-age.html#.VMVua0Y8KnMStarbuck
January 25, 2015
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Here's a more serious presentation of exactly what I was trying to demonstrate: Here's a sneak preview: Given that the Earth began emerging from the Little Ice Age in the mid to late 19th Century, it is hardly surprising–and a very good thing–that from then until now, temperatures have tended to rise. Alarmists shriek that 2014 was the warmest year ever! But that claim is absurd if put in the context of the Earth’s recent history. As Dr. Tim Ball writes: In fact, 2014 was among the coldest 3 percent of years of the last 10,000, but that doesn’t suit the political agenda.PaV
January 25, 2015
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StephenB,
The 1970?s Global Cooling Alarmism was real and is on the record.
Obviously. I don’t dispute that. I wasn’t questioning if it existed or not, it was a question of scale: Does the concerns about global cooling in the 70s compare to the concerns about global warming during the past 30 years? The answer is obviously “no”, and in fact any such comparison turns out to be ludicrous. In fact, the concerns about global cooling in the 1970s paled in comparison to concerns about global warming - even in the 1970s - which was the heydey of global cooling concerns and before the global warming concerns really took off.
Hilarious! Begin here:
Really? It’s hilarious that in a manual search about global cooling in the 1970s that I didn’t happen to come across the Jan 26, 1970 article in the Owosso Argus-Press or the Sumter Daily Item? Yes, I did find the articles you list once I used a web search. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that that’s how you found this list as well. ;-) My initial search indeed didn’t include newspapers. Going through newspapers is far more laborious and I was more interested in what the science community was saying. And, anyway, if a search required going through newspapers, the question of whether the 1970s global cooling compares at all to the global warming concerns of the past 30 years is already answered. Also, realize that there are a lot of newspapers in the US and Canada.  One can generate a rather impressive list of newspapers reports on even a very minor story by listing every report of a story in every newspaper across the nations.
Well, we are certainly changing our tune, aren’t we? Just yesterday, you thought that goodusername had done a good job of researching the subject when he claimed that only 3 or 4 articles on global cooling existed. Without hesitation, you signed on to that error.
Huh? I never said or implied such a thing.goodusername
January 24, 2015
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LH expelled? Intelligence not allowed?Piotr
January 24, 2015
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Silent banning appears to be the norm around here.Radioaction
January 24, 2015
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rvb8: It was meant to show the childish level of scientific rigor that is employed by the alarmists. The world has been a lot hotter. The CO2 level has been much, much higher----during an Ice Age! What does "on record" mean in terms of geologic time? The 'lie' behind Mann's "hockey stick" was that there was no warming in the middle ages or in the 1500's. There are cycles. Warming is better than cooling. We should be rejoicing-----------and buying property in Canada------instead of all this nonsense costing hundreds of billions of dollars. There is severe poverty throughout the world, and we throw money away on this nonsense. Why? Government contracts. Tax breaks. Etc.PaV
January 24, 2015
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Barry, You'll never get the respect you crave if you continue behaving like this.keith s
January 24, 2015
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Learned Hand has been silently banned. Here's the comment he was trying to post when he discovered his banning:
For what it's worth, the two comments I was trying to leave before I realized the conversation was terminated with prejudice:
1. Because the rest of the sentence was not ironic. Try to keep up. . . . Then why do you constantly launch character attacks at those who disagree with you. You are both a liar and a hypocrite.
I'm sorry that you think I "constantly launch character attacks." I don't think I do. That's why I asked you to cite some of the "dozens of comments" you mentioned, because I'd be alarmed if I was coming off that way. Speaking of irony, do you think it's ironic that you (a) rise the subject of irony, (b) accuse me of "launching character attacks," then ( c) call me a liar and a hypocrite without pausing for breath, in a thread in which you've called people who disagree with you credulous, idiotic, fascistic, hypocritical, liars, etc.? I make a conscious effort to be civil, especially in heated conversations. I have to remind myself sometimes that I'm not always successful, and I certainly can be a jerk. But I make an honest effort, and I think that's reflected in the way we've conducted ourselves here and elsewhere. I've defended you at AtBC; you've called me a liar and a hypocrite. Well, it's your party. You can say whatever you want about whomever you want, ban anyone who questions your standards of conduct, and then ban anyone who questions the banning. But like I said, I'd be pretty comfortable showing a stranger this thread as an example of how I conduct myself among strangers who disagree with me. Would you? You once wrote, "Simple charity demands that we assume our opponents are acting in good faith, and this requires us to deal with their arguments at face value. I am certain this is how they would want to be treated, and I hope that someday they will apply the golden rule and extend the same charity to us, instead of simply assuming we are liars and attacking us on that basis alone." I think you're finding that an easier standard to articulate than to achieve.
2. You get a 38% change of being right. RDW gets a 68%. He’s willing to bet you as many times as you want. Still think it’s a decent bet?
No, not the game you describe. The one I described is, for the reasons I set forth. That's how gambling works--whoever sets the rules makes the money. I articulated my game because I think it gets at the significance of these data. A 38% chance that last year was the hottest year on record is actually pretty meaningful if we look at the total span of all years with recorded temperature data.
keith s
January 24, 2015
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StephenB: I provided the answer to that question at @93. There's nothing in @93 that indicates “the world is 1.08 degrees cooler than it was in 1998.” The past year has the highest instrumental temperature on record.Zachriel
January 24, 2015
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I notice Learned Hand is over at AtBC claiming he has been banned. Is that true?Seversky
January 24, 2015
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Why should I keep answering the same question for every single person.
Because you have not answered it. So your source for a cooling of "1.08 degrees" since 1998 is your own imagination -- is that correct? If not, where did you take it from? Neither of the two sources you cite in #93 confirm your strange figure. Why not admit you made it up?Piotr
January 24, 2015
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Zachriel
We were addressing your false claim that “The world is 1.08 degrees cooler than it was in 1998.
I provided the answer to that question at @93. Those are not the only two sources I could cite. Why should I keep answering the same question for every single person. Pay attention to what is going on around you. Clearly, you are the one making a false claim by saying that I had made a false claim.StephenB
January 24, 2015
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StephenB: Did you even read your own chart? Yes. StephenB: It claims a mere .7 degree increase in 135 years. We were addressing your false claim that "The world is 1.08 degrees cooler than it was in 1998."Zachriel
January 24, 2015
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Paleoclimatology indicates that an unusually cold period is ending. The climatic truth is that we are still coming out of a Little Ice Age that more or less fully ended the last glacial period and at this rate it's a good idea to make long term plans for major cities draw upon the long experience of model cities like Venice, Italy. With our without humans it is expected that at some point the average temperature again heats up real fast then in not so many generations it's like a whole different world, all over again. The good news is that we have been through these fluctuations before. And the Theory of Intelligent Design I work on indicates that our molecular level intelligence systems already know many physiological strategies to help cope, which are epigenetically sensed then expressed when needed without "natural selection" removing future offspring from our future family trees. The more I learn about it the more it becomes as said in religion about a hard to conceptualize Creator with a memory that's part of what our "mind" contains with a recall dating back to at least billions of years ago are inside of us, to forever guide us through time. Religion and its celebration of making it to next stage of life is from a part of us that loves to keep making it happen over and over again and is again with there with us when we again do..Gary S. Gaulin
January 24, 2015
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I’m not surprised
I am giving you facts gleaned from your guys you silly boy. Do you contest those facts, if so make your case. You look ridiculous.StephenB
January 24, 2015
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Before you run away: you made the following claim here
I don't need to run away because I don't make things up. From NASA --..."some information sources -- blogs, websites, media articles and other voices -- highlight that the planet has been cooling since a peak in global temperature in 1998. This cooling is only part of the picture, according to a recent study that has looked at the world's temperature record over the past century or more. In their recently published research paper2 entitled "Is the climate warming or cooling?", David Easterling of the U.S. National Climate Data Center and Michael Wehner of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory show that naturally occurring periods of no warming or even slight cooling can easily be part of a longer-term pattern of global warming. and again, "Shaun Lovejoy, professor of physics, concludes that there has been a natural cooling fluctuation of about 0.28 to 0.37 degrees Celsius since 1998."StephenB
January 24, 2015
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David R. Legates (a professor of geography at the University of Delaware and former director of its Center for Climatic Research)
The same Legates who signed the Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming? We believe Earth and its ecosystems — created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence — are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting, admirably suited for human flourishing, and displaying His glory. Earth's climate system is no exception. I'm not surprised.Piotr
January 24, 2015
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Before you run away: you made the following claim here
The world is 1.08 degrees cooler than it was in 1998.
It would be OT in the other thread, so please show your evidence in this one or admit you are making things up.Piotr
January 24, 2015
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SB" Only 1% of scientists believe that humans cause global warming. Piotr
What’s your source for that?
David R. Legates (a professor of geography at the University of Delaware and former director of its Center for Climatic Research) and three coauthors [responding to a claim from a blogger named John Cook] reviewed the same papers as did Mr. Cook and found "only 41 papers—0.3 percent of all 11,944 abstracts or 1.0 percent of the 4,014 expressing an opinion, and not 97.1 percent—had been found to endorse" the claim that human activity is causing most of the current warming. Elsewhere, climate scientists including Craig Idso, Nicola Scafetta, Nir J. Shaviv and Nils- Axel Morner, whose research questions the alleged consensus, protested that Mr. Cook ignored or misrepresented their work. (I will be going to the latest thread if you want to continue the discussion)StephenB
January 24, 2015
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StephenB Does the graph support your claim that the mean temperature has dropped by more than one degree? Are you going to substantiate that claim or will you just try to weasel out of it? As for the "1%" claim, present your evidence first. Othewise there's nothing to refute there.Piotr
January 24, 2015
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Zachrieal
http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gist.....Fig.A2.gif
Did you even read your own chart? It claims a mere .7 degree increase in 135 years. Is that the statistic you want to hang your hat on? Don't you know that the ups and downs of the temperature cycles last hundreds of years. SB: Only 1% of scientists believe that humans cause global warming.
How many of those are named Steve?
Is that supposed to be a refutation?StephenB
January 24, 2015
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Why does it matter if you “don’t recall” a cooling scare. That is the same argument that Mark made. The issue is what happened, not what you recall.
And who do you think was spreading those "cooling alarms", whatever their scale? A few lay "science writers", and the media. The dominant view among climatologists was essentially the same as today. It's on the record -- a documented fact, not a vague memory. You can deny it at your peril.
Since 1998, the temperature has been dropping. The world is 1.08 degrees cooler than it was in 1998.
Can you offer any references to support this amazing statement? Preferably to published research articles.
Only 1% of scientists believe that humans cause global warming.
What's your source for that? Even if the number were correct (which seem extremely unlikely to me), the only scientists whose "belief" really matters are those qualified to express an expert opinion -- climate scientists involved in actual research. What proportion among them deny human-caused global warming?Piotr
January 24, 2015
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F/N: Onward links at WUWT and Pop Tech with sets of the links to original articles, here: https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/66785/#comment-543798 FTR. KFkairosfocus
January 24, 2015
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Barry @82, I agree. We have examples right here on this thread. The "champions of science," especially those who believe that all truth is found in the laboratory, will believe almost anything.StephenB
January 24, 2015
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StephenB: The world is 1.08 degrees cooler than it was in 1998. http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs_v3/Fig.A2.gif StephenB: Only 1% of scientists believe that humans cause global warming. How many of those are named Steve?Zachriel
January 24, 2015
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Piotr, Why does it matter if you "don't recall" a cooling scare. That is the same argument that Mark made. The issue is what happened, not what you recall. The broader point is that global warming is a total sham. The world has warmed only .36 degrees over the last 35 years. Since 1998, the temperature has been dropping. The world is 1.08 degrees cooler than it was in 1998. Only 1% of scientists believe that humans cause global warming. From the beginning, scientists recognized a predictable cycle from hot to cold and back again. The sham continues only because that's where the money is--22 billion dollars to be exact. People get paid to lie.StephenB
January 24, 2015
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SB, you are, of course, correct. There is no amount of evidence that Mark's faith commitments will not enable him to explain away. Irony, I bet he makes fun of YECs. And yet again, we see the point of the OP (read the title again please) being driven home.Barry Arrington
January 24, 2015
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SB I missed the bit where you indicated where goodusername had implied there were only 3 or 4 articles on global cooling existed. If you made a mistake that is entirely understandable but it would be nice to admit it. If there is any reason for denialists to be interested in the global cooling scare of the 1970s it has to be because it suggests the global warming scare is similar in turning out to be a false alarm. Therefore, comparison is absolutely the essence of the discussion. We all admit that some people wrote some stuff about global cooling in the 70s. By itself that is unimportant. What matters is how similar it was to the current alarm over global warming.Mark Frank
January 24, 2015
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StephenB, In the 1970s the direction of climate change was still a controversial subject; there were seemingly valid arguments pointing either way (or for no change at all). I was in my teens then, and I don't recall any "cooling scare", though I do remember some crazy ideas mentioned in the popular press, like sprinkling the Arctic with soot to "ameliorate" the climate. If, however, you look at the scientific literature from the period (journal articles published by actual climatologists, not selected quotations from the daily press), you will see that even then "cooling" papers were outnumbered by "warming" ones several times over (Reference); the latter were also cited more often. "Global cooling" was a minority, not to say fringe, view. By the late '70s there was a near-consensus among climatologists that anthropogenic warming was real and would continue.Piotr
January 24, 2015
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