Two views of good science

In this message for Christmas 2016 we go back seven years. Once we’ve taken a look at our two protagonists it’s likely to get us into matters of history, science and philosophy going back a hundred, then an odd reflection at the end of a far-from-normal year in the new century.

London newspaper-wise we’re talking The Times and The Guardian. On 20th December 2009 Simon Singh wrote this about public comments from Johnny Ball five days before:

On a night that was supposed to celebrate rationalism, Johnny adopted a faith position on climate change. He has become so blinkered that he focuses on every tiny observation that might vaguely back his position and denies everything that counters it. That is not good science.

Three months later Leo Hickman interviewed veteran scientist James Lovelock, who spoke of his disgust at what had been revealed in the Climategate emails, released by persons still unknown on 17th November 2009, then said:

What I like about sceptics is that in good science you need critics that make you think: “Crumbs, have I made a mistake here?” If you don’t have that continuously, you really are up the creek.

There’s no URL worth giving for the first article as The Times returns HTTP status code 301, meaning Moved Permanently. Probably into a permanent memory hole. I snipped a portion at the time though into my personal wiki . That’s how I came to spot in December 2016 that two men back then had used the phrase in our title in rather different ways.

Both have a point

‘Tis the season of goodwill so let’s begin with what’s right with both. If Singh was right in how he characterised what Ball was doing – and it’s a big if – fair enough. Neither good science nor good manners. Lovelock’s certainly a greater scientist than Singh, much though I enjoyed Fermat’s Last Theorem, published twelve years before, about Andrew Wiles emerging spectacularly from obscurity with a proof, like a rabbit out of a hat, at such an advanced age – of both mathematician and theorem. There were plenty of sceptics around then, of course, when the news began to break. But that’s pure maths. Lovelock speaks from experience, both long and hard, of applied science, in his appreciation of sceptics. And he gives just one name, from the climate field, as an example:

We’re very tribal. You’re either a goodie or a baddie. I’ve got quite a few friends among the sceptics, as well as among the “angels” of climate science. I’ve got more angels as friends than sceptics, I have to say, but there are some sceptics that I fully respect. Nigel Lawson is one. He writes sensibly and well. He raises questions. I find him an interesting sceptic.

That’s Nigel Lawson who studied maths at Oxford before he switched to economics – something else I only learned in 2016. The obvious example of a useful sceptic, from an assuredly great UK scientist, as no doubt Singh and his friends would agree.

As I said, ’tis the season of goodwill!

Playing the man called Ball

Johnny Ball had accepted an invitation to address the very first “Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People” at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London on 15th December 2009. Hard to get more Christmassy than that! What outraged Singh and those of like mind is that he used his allocated time – indeed, overran his allocated time – to launch a critique of climate alarmism. Here’s the full passage from The Times as I snipped it, with paragraph breaks lost long ago:

I have been discussing maths at Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People, an annual jamboree that mixes science, comedy and music in a rationalist celebration of the universe. Tuesday’s opening night made waves in the national press for one of the most bizarre and heartbreaking sights ever seen on a London stage: Johnny Ball, who presented children’s TV science shows in the 1970s, was slow-handclapped off the stage after trying to persuade the audience that man-made climate change is not a serious problem. The audience was largely made up of Johnny Ball fans, who gave him a warm reception, but this goodwill evaporated when a supposedly seven-minute routine turned into a 20-minute set that evolved into a rant. I was watching from the circle and my feeling was that the audience members were incredibly patient and tolerant. They sat quietly even though they were becoming increasingly frustrated at having to listen to a series of disjointed and unscientific statements. Apparently it is spiders’ flatulence that we really need to worry about, not burning coal. The slow handclapping started at the 21st minute after Johnny appeared to question the ethics of climate researchers and made a mildly racist pun concerning “crustaceans” and “crushed Asians”. The audience reaction was not an attempt to quash free speech, but rather a plea to allow others to get in a word. Johnny would probably still be ranting now if the audience had not made its feelings clear. On a night that was supposed to celebrate rationalism, Johnny adopted a faith position on climate change. He has become so blinkered that he focuses on every tiny observation that might vaguely back his position and denies everything that counters it. That is not good science. I should stress that in the past Johnny has done a huge amount in terms of promoting science to teenagers. Think of a Number inspired a whole generation of boffins, including me. But I now feel he has lost the plot. Over the past three years, I have offered to set up meetings where he can raise his concerns about climate change with experts. I renewed the offer on Wednesday morning, but it was once again rejected. He prefers to remain blinkered

Now let’s have the man speak for himself. This is from the Daily Mail in February 2011:

Mr Ball is a prolific author of maths books who has also produced five educational stage musicals. He said he has been sceptical of climate change arguments since the 1960s when scientists warned of an impending ice age.

And he said that anyone who seeks to make a common sense, measured comment about climate change is branded a ‘heretic’.

Yesterday, he called for the views from both sides of the climate change camp to be heard.

He highlighted a recent Independent Panel on Climate Change ruling that stated that there must be no more exaggeration about the issue.

Explaining his views on climate change, he told the Times Education Supplement: ‘The reason I take this stance is because several films have been introduced into schools which imply that the earth may not be able to sustain human life as we know it, in around 39 years’ time, which is unscientific, alarmist nonsense.

‘Of course mankind is a great burden on the earth, but at every turn we are learning to manage and better control our impact and the damage we do.

‘However, my main concern is that the alarmism is actually frightening schoolchildren to an alarming degree.

‘It is suggesting to them that the previous generation have all but ruined the planet, and unless they switch stand-by lights off, for instance, we could all be going to hell in a handcart.

‘This does nothing to promote confidence in our young. It sends the message that all technology is harmful. Yet, in truth, great strides are being made.

‘Gas-fired power stations now produce twice as much power for the same fossil fuel as they did 15 years ago. Cars have far cleaner exhausts and have doubled their mileage and tyre wear, and they are all recyclable or reclaimable.

‘These are success stories.’

A heretic among the congregation of the godless! Sometimes the irony’s too great for measured comment. Just hear the laughter and, if it feels possible for you, join in.

Meanwhile Singh’s summary of Ball now seems woefully inadequate. He’s clearly concerned about a wide range of issues connected to alarmism, not merely ‘the science’. His sense of responsibility for the next generation especially shines through. Couldn’t Simon Singh have found a way to praise this aspect of the older man’s concerns, even if he thinks Ball is neglecting legitimate evidence that should make adults sit up?

While on this train of thought I must take a stop to honour John Shade of this joint blog. Thank you for caring about the young and very young under the influence of such strong alarmist messages. Is there anything more important that passes through the mind of a climate sceptic? I doubt it.

Intuition and induction

A hundred years ago we were reaching the mid-point between the formulation of Einstein’s theory of general relativity in 1915 and Eddington’s spectacular confirmation that it better predicted the path of light near a massive body than Newton, through his observations on the island of Principe during a total eclipse on 29th May 1919. As someone wrote:

J.P. McEvoy, author of the “Eclipse”, encapsulated the significance of the announcement: “A new theory of the universe, the brain-child of a German Jew working in Berlin, had been confirmed by an English Quaker on a small African island.”

In fact, Simon Singh wrote that. Good bloke, isn’t he?

Let’s consider that at Christmas 1916 the human race really only had Albert Einstein’s intuition to go on. There were four years like that. With Wegener’s theory of continental drift in 1912 and Lemaître’s proposal of what became known as the Big Bang in 1927 we had a lot longer to wait.

What stage are we at with the claims of climate science? With that question the difference between Singh and Lovelock may become far more explicable. Lovelock feels we’re pre-1919 and Singh doesn’t.

Which claims though? Not just that temperatures have been rising or that man’s emissions have had something to do with it. The bigger, much more politically charged claim that man-made warming will soon be dangerous. Not anything like as well-defined as a scientific theory as the other three, the moment you think about it.

Pre-truth politics

An encouraging way to view 2016 then is that it’s when the English-speaking world emerged from pre-truth politics.

The rest is left as an exercise for the interested reader.

Merry Christmas!

82 thoughts on “Two views of good science

  1. Duly honoured. Thank you very much, Richard for recalling my really pretty modest toils.

    I attended a presentation by Johnny Ball on climate, one where there was also a presentation by a leading green fanatic. Unfortunately Ball was a careless, somewhat hot-headed speaker and the fanatic guy merely had to be quiet and let him get on with it in order to make himself look better. Ball’s heart was in the right place, but he was not well-prepared on the details of the case he could have made!

    It is a messy area, this climate ‘debate’, hampered by the presumably deliberate mis-use of ‘climate’ or ‘climate change’ sometimes to denote or imply CAGW, and sometimes just to have their banal, literal meanings. Hence the placards and articles urging us to ‘Stop Climate Change’, and the rude talk of ‘climate deniers’ deserve to be contrasted with the fury raised by such as Donald Trump when he tweets of climate change being a hoax.

    And, as you say at the end, the vagueness of the imagined threat itself is nothing like a well-defined scientific theory. That feature is one that has been readily exploited by those with financial or political or merely egotistical goals in mind: they can feel they have a pretty free hand to get carried away with.

    Merry Christmas to you as well, and to all our readers.

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  2. “An encouraging way to view 2016 then is that it’s when the English-speaking world emerged from pre-truth politics.”

    Do you really see Trump’s victory as a win for truth? Can you justify that? Your article certainly doesn’t.

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  3. Great news! Or maybe the better word would be “tidings”, a concept with which many mighty minds have grappled. Len Martínez, however, has cracked this knotty problem. It is something to do with the election, by deplorable people, of Donald Trump. If the corrupt team had won, after all their expenditure on worthless propaganda, would that have been a victory for truth? According to Dana Nuttycello in the Guardian, it was Putin’s influence that won the election for Trump. No doubt Len agrees with that. The only problem is that a mind that can believe that is capable of believing anything. Such a mind must lack any filters, any concept of truth.

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  4. Thanks John. My argument, such as it is, depends only on Johnny Ball having the correct intuition about climate alarmism, something he claims has been the case since the 1960s! That of course is when continental drift (in the form of plate tectonics) and the Big Bang (through the discovery of the cosmic background radiation) were both seen to go from intuitions to normative science. There’s certainly more to be said on all this. The crucial question is whether we are past the intuition phase with climate. My conviction since 1988 has been that it’s way too immature to support alarmism as a political creed. I’m firmly with Lovelock therefore on what good science consists of, especially at this stage.

    Len: All I’ve said is that we’re perhaps now post pre-truth! By that I mean that outright climate scepticism was clearly no obstacle to voters in considering Trump or Brexit. (It was never made an issue by Vote Leave but many of those I interacted with on Twitter clocked that there was a strong correlation between Brexiteers and climate sceptics. I’ll come back to that point, probably before the year is out.)

    What Trump makes of this opportunity is a completely different thing. But I’m very thankful that we seem to have left pre-truth politics behind. It was disastrous to take the intuitions of a few, without proper empirical confirmation, as the basis for wide-ranging, highly expensive and corrupting crony-capitalist-creating policies. Because of the vested interests now involved, rolling back the policies is going to be a quite separate challenge.

    MIAB: Steve McIntyre of course remembers an earlier Russian conspiracy theory:

    What a great man he is. Seven years. How time flies.

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  5. Unlike general relativity or the big bang and its cosmic microwave background radiation, CAGW is a more complex and less testable premise. What constitutes C? How much A in GW? Is GW a meaningful concept (We are enjoying 81F here in Fort Lauderdale; it is 34F at my townhome in Chicago). But I think we are emerging into a period where nuanced reality will overtake the previous warmunist alarm. For example, except for the now rapidly cooling 2015-16 El Nino blip, there has been no warming in this century except via Karlization. Yet this century has seen ~35% of all the increase in CO2 since 1958 (onset of Keeling curve). There is no tropical troposphere hotspot as in climate models, and observational ECS is half of modeled.

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  6. Both side lies and does nasty things Len, the difference is the the public are fed up with those who lie with a straight face. Trump isn’t a victory it’s an opening salvoy.

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  7. The topic here isn’t Trump. There are other nearby threads where he definitely is. What Rud (and John) have written is bang on topic. I’ll respond later to that.

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  8. Rud: You’re right of course about the profound differences with physics and cosmology. But I’d argue a strong case can be made that alarmist intuitions have been shown to be wrong just by this graph:

    There’s a hidden message in how I’m arguing here and it’s not to do with Trump, it’s about the author of that tweet (and the R ggplot code that produced it). True hero of Climategate. Seven years. My oh my.

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  9. 2016 was the year that those who lie for our own ‘good’ were stopped in their tracks. The BBC is doing much navel gazing as to why the elites were defeated, with little awareness that they are part of the elite the public rebelled against. Fundamentally they know that much of what they spout is flawed or at least very much more complicated than they are prepared to admit. What stumps them is the firm belief that they’re the only ones who know that they’re lying. Us plebs are supposed to be fooled. So when we don’t react as good little sheep, they seek for a more sophisticated explanation than that we know that they’re telling porkies. We must have been swayed by bigger, better lies. Can there be anyone over thirty who believes politicians or media whores? Parties are chosen because they are lying in the right direction but with little belief that they’ll live up to their promises.

    2016 was the year for ‘populism’ to be a dirty word. It seems democracy means you only get to choose what someone else tells you that you can have. Truly we are all born equal but Guardian readers are more equal that the rest. How dare we choose something not on the menu! But going off piste is a speciality of the voting public, although they’re usually subtle about it. Unlike the green movement, the sceptic public have, with dumb insolence, achieved more than all the militant marches put together. Making like the immovable rock works because the other side is no irresistible force.

    As Johnny Ball discovered, the doom mongers target the young. Brexit followed the same pattern. Listen to us or you will suffer. The older public know that suffering and the direction it comes from will rarely be what the politicians predict and any money thrown at problems in panic will invariably be wasted. Adults can’t miss the number of wealthy people supporting the ‘right’ side, who will get rich from their brave support. It’s the rest of us who’ll end up paying. All those right on rich people who sell themselves as being the people’s friend, but who are just using their supposed goodness to manipulate us as blatantly and ruthlessly as the Trumps and Murdocks of this world. We’re just not supposed to work it out.

    If climate science is to be saved it needs to start telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Its supporters need to be honest about the failure of renewables. How can you trust their judgement on something as complex as the science when they’re trying to pretend that we can run our societies on part time electricity? And most of all they need to stop treating the public as stupid pawns to be sacrificed in their game of policy chess. The concept that we will happily be felled to achieve some greater good is so rotten it stinks. It’s time that the elites take up the positions on the front line and impoverish themselves for THEIR causes. Let the truth of their ideals be expressed in their actions, not their well rehearsed words.

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  10. Richard, sorry to be off topic. Not sure really what is on topic if MiaB and TinyCO2’s comments are and mine are not, but hey, your blog, your supporters, your rules.

    Since the graph is important, apparently, perhaps you could link to it again. Chrome and Firefox on Mac don’t show anything.

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  11. Tiny:

    If climate science is to be saved it needs to start telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Its supporters need to be honest about the failure of renewables. How can you trust their judgement on something as complex as the science when they’re trying to pretend that we can run our societies on part time electricity? And most of all they need to stop treating the public as stupid pawns to be sacrificed in their game of policy chess.

    Very well said. Such an ethical revolution (aka a return to the scientific method – an interesting point in itself, on which it’s worth revisiting all of Lovelock in March 2010) would mark the death of pre-truth politics as I’ve cheekily christened it.

    Len: Tiny I think got my drift, based on their latest. Trump has been discussed by me before on this blog – and no doubt will be again. What I’m interested in here is climate (science and policy) and the exciting possibility that the western (or English-speaking) voter has had enough – and found a way to express it. This should, as Tiny suggests, lead to big changes flowing back into science itself. But all of that is a massive maybe. Something to look forward to in 2017.

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  12. Richard Drake says: 25 Dec 16 at 1:55 pm

    (“Tiny: If climate science is to be saved it needs to start telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Its supporters need to be honest about the failure of renewables.”)

    “Very well said. Such an ethical revolution (aka a return to the scientific method – an interesting point in itself, on which it’s worth revisiting all of Lovelock in March 2010) would mark the death of pre-truth politics as I’ve cheekily christened it.. This should, as Tiny suggests, lead to big changes flowing back into science itself. But all of that is a massive maybe. Something to look forward to in 2017.”

    I also do not get what you may mean by ‘pre-truth politics’. Any return to the scientific method will require the purge of current academic obscenity that calls itself ‘science’,along with their so called peer\pal review process. These folk lack any ethical behavior and will say\write whatever they are paid to express! “ich weiss nicht” needs become the standard for anything atmospheric! After that One can ask ‘What do you think?’, of any that appear capable of thinking!!

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  13. Richard, do you really think that western voters paid any attention to climate science in the recent votes. I think it is more likely that Putin had an influence than any candidate’s views on climate science or policy.

    As for the graph (found via the source; embedding Twitter conversations sucks; moreover, Twitter sucks!), what does it update? The original CMIP5 graphs were from models run without volcanic, ENSO, solar forcings from 2005. Adding a few extra years of observations to these doesn’t change that. So what do you think it proves?

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  14. Len, you need to open your mind. So someone called van Ypersele states opinions on a bunch of unknown Russians. And you claim the emails don’t mean what they clearly say. Rational people, who don’t give automatic, unthinking credence to the statements of poorly qualified scientists think differently. The automatic assumption is that the Belgian is doing a cover up.

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  15. Len: on the meaning of McIntyre’s latest update, the discussion in Update of Model-Observation Comparisons on 5th January 2016 will I’m sure be helpful. At one point the main poster asks a well-known ‘consensus enforcer’, with the deadpan irony for which he is rightly appreciated:

    Is this the sort of match between models and observations that you endorse?

    No answer was forthcoming. Another commenter expands on the question like this:

    Steve’s Tropospheric Temperature graph shows ALL the models (5% to 95% ) exceed the temperature records over the satellite era which now extends longer than that 30 year period.
    John Christy’s graph above shows the climate model mean prediction over the 35 year satellite error is now 400% of the actual satellite tropical tropospheric temperatures.
    If that does not constitute “wrong” and “failed” what does?

    The scientific method would for us require a drastic rethink of what I’ve been calling alarmist intuitions, expressed through GCMs, at this point. A rethink that would have to include root and branch changes at the policy level, especially once one takes into account further known problems with the social cost of carbon and integrated assessment models.

    As far as your question about the attention of voters is concerned – and Will’s about my intended meaning in coining ‘pre-truth politics’ – I will be coming back to both.

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  16. Richard, yes, that is McIntyre’s post from a year ago that also didn’t address the question I asked you. ATTP pointed out the same problem with the graph, but McI ignored it, just as you do now. It is hard to think that McI doesn’t understand the apples-to-oranges nature of the comparison he is making, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that maybe you don’t.

    So, asking again, the original CMIP5 graphs (the apples) were from models run without the eventual volcanic, ENSO, solar forcings after 2005. In other words, they modeled what would happen without knowing the intensities of various natural forcings that they were modeling; if the solar cycle after 2005 turned out to be low, they wouldn’t know about it, etc. On top of that McI has drawn the actual outcome (the oranges) that resulted from the real natural forcings (the solar cycle was low, ENSO activity was perhaps different). So, if you understand that now, what do you think it proves?

    MiaB, your comment is off topic. Perhaps Richard will be consistent and snip it.

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  17. Richard,

    At one point the main poster asks a well-known ‘consensus enforcer’, with the deadpan irony for which he is rightly appreciated:

    Is this the sort of match between models and observations that you endorse?

    No answer was forthcoming.

    You might want to read a bit harder? Also, bear in mind that one person’s deadpan irony is another’s leading question.

    Len,
    The apples-to-oranges issue is indeed the issue, and it’s not just to do with updating the forcings. There’s also that the instrumental temperature records are not simply 2m air temperature measurements, and there’s also the coverage bias. I’ve also been asking some people about how to do a proper comparison for the tropospheric temperatures, because you need to vertically weight the temperatures, and it appears to be very difficult. Would be good to know if McIntyre’s TLT comparison has indeed done this properly. Also, the TLT dataset has not been updated to version 4.0 (it is still version 3.3). The TTT version 4.0 not only has a larger trend than TLT version 3.3, it also has a larger trend than TTT version 3.3, and the TTT version 3.3 trend was smaller than the TLT version 3.3 trend.

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  18. Explaining away duff and dire forecasts is always of interest to those who make a living from said forecasts or from the fears and foolishnesses they engender. The Feynman notion of science, and the use of data to refute duff theories, is of course not admitted because it is a bit of a showstopper.

    Let us take a step or two away from science, and look at a parable. A sharp-suited fellow at a racecourse makes a living from selling tips. Tomorrow there is a race at Chepstow at 14:40 It is the Coral Welsh Grand National (Grade 3 Handicap Chase) and it has many horses down to run in it. He forecasts that the first three past the finishing post will be, in this order: Firebird Flyer, Mountainous, and Native River. Naturally, this forecast does not take into account the behaviour of the other horses on the day, and nor can it take into account whatever state the selected horses will be in. The forecast was made without knowing those things. Once the race is over, perhaps faced with critical comments and ire from his customers, our man will revise his forecast and explain what happened. He hopes to retain his imagined reputation as an expert. After all, he makes his living out that way. It is not his fault if his hapless customers were not aware of the complexities involved, and of the limitations of his forecast model.

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  19. John Shade says: 26 Dec 16 at 4:10 pm

    Explaining away duff and dire forecasts is always of interest to those who make a living from said forecasts or from the fears and foolishnesses they engender. The Feynman notion of science, and the use of data to refute duff theories, is of course not admitted because it is a bit of a showstopper
    After all, he makes his living out that way. It is not his fault if his hapless customers were not aware of the complexities involved, and of the limitations of his forecast model.

    What if the hapless customers notice that the forecast are always biased against “coal for fuel” so that the sharp-suited fellow always makes lots in his betting on\against “coal for fuel”? When have Len or Ken ever been able to present “The Feynman notion of science, and the use of data to refute duff theories”, or even present anything resembling observation that the Climate Clowns have any valid conjecture of how Earth’s atmosphere may operate?

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  20. Richard, Thanks for the updates from McIntyre. This is indeed in my mind the most glaring inconsistency that climate science needs to explain. Gavin Schmidt gets much the same discrepancy modulo various “trickery” issues having to do with the baseline period used and I doubt if he has fallen prey to any issues of how weights are applied to get the TLT values. It might be interesting to get Ken Rice’s explanation since he is here. The most obvious one is simply that the GCM’s are indeed faring badly at their primary job of “predicting” the trends. That should surprise no-one of course, but there are a lot of people who feign surprise very well or who have developed an almost religious faith in these models of complex systems.

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  21. Len, The problem here is that the old model versions are not saved in order to go back and run them with revised forcing. The community seems to prefer to always run their projections using the latest version of the model. That’s a profound invitation to bias. It happens in my field too. What tends to happen is that different “versions” can end up getting used for different problems and at different times. The version chosen of course always happens to match the data best. 🙂

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  22. Thanks David and everyone. Bit busy with post-Christmas socialising! I agree with David it’s highly unlikely McIntyre and Schmidt have both made such a basic mistake. But I’ll come back to it.

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  23. ATTP, yes, agreed. But I think just the non-updated forcings are enough to make an honest comparison difficult. I don’t know whether McIntyre acknowledges this, it would be nice to think so. People like Richard, who bizarrely seem to think that a Trump world implies an increase in ‘truth’ and think McI’s graph has some great significance, should question their own understanding of the subject and reflect on whether such an apples-to-oranges comparison can ever be valid. In my experience they never do. I’ve mentioned this to various sceptics over the years since this meme became popular and they wont address it – John’s daft horse racing analogy is as good as it gets from them. I hope that Richard will prove to be an exception to this rule.

    DPY, I didn’t think GCM’s “primary job” was ‘predicting trends, but maybe I have misunderstood. As to whether “old model versions are not saved”, are you saying that none of the worldwide modeling teams is using a version control system? Is that common or public knowledge or privileged information? My guess is that they are using such a system and could indeed re-run the models, but if you know better, I’d love to know how.

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  24. John Shade @ 26 Dec 16 at 4:10 pm
    Maybe I could make your analogy with betting on the horses a bit more pertinent to the issues of climatology.
    Suppose that a gambler, with skills in predictive computer modelling, decided to build a program for predicting the winners of horse races. It might contain such factors as the past performance of each horse, maybe related to the conditions of a course, distance travelled by each horse from stable to course, jockey, time of year, time of day race is run etc. This might give a predicted chance of winning. If those odds for a horse winning are shorter than the actual odds (when all odds are added and then apportioned to sum to one) then a bet would be placed. So a 10-1 outsider would have less than a 5% perceived chance of winning. If the model predicted a 15% or more chance, then you would take the bet.
    The test of the model would not be based on the outcome of a few bets, but whether over a large number of bets a profit was consistently made. It could be that the vast majority of predictions could fail, but if overall the winnings are greater than bets placed than the model works.
    However, there are dangers with such a model. New data is coming along all the time, so the person could excuse the failure to make a profit on ad hoc factors. They could then fail to update the model with certain types of new data that come along, or make unverifiable assumptions. Even worse, they could adjust the predictions on their intuitions, or random runs of successes, rather than stick to the model. But worst of all is if the modeller has a gambling addiction, and believes that their assumptions are prior to any experience. Failure is dismissed, as the model will come right in the end. The proof for them is in the occasional wins, but they never keep records on the predictive failures.

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  25. Len, I haven’t said a Trump world implies an increase in ‘truth’. I notice you misrepresent when you disagree. I assume therefore your real arguments must be very weak.

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  26. Len Martinez says: 26 Dec 16 at 10:48 pm

    “DPY, I didn’t think GCM’s “primary job” was ‘predicting trends, but maybe I have misunderstood.”

    If you would try thinking perhaps you would admit that the ‘only job’ Of the various GCMs is to promote the vicious scam that ‘coal as a fuel for stationary power production is somehow “BAD”‘!

    “As to whether “old model versions are not saved”, are you saying that none of the worldwide modeling teams is using a version control system? Is that common or public knowledge or privileged information? My guess is that they are using such a system and could indeed re-run the models, but if you know better, I’d love to know how.”

    Public knowledge, at least to the public there! Do you propose some ‘version control system’ for over 200,000 lines of parametrized FORTRAN spaghetti code, in a Navier-Stokes finite element computer model? These folk run such using an incompressible fluid version, for this atmosphere! Such code changes (revised) with every run. Not even the all parameters used are actually retained anywhere. That would make code falsification way to easy.

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  27. Len, Perhaps I should revise my remarks. I’m sure version control systems are used for GCM’s. However, I’ve not seen an old model resurrected and rerun with updated forcing with perhaps one or two exceptions by Schmidt. This is not surprising as explained below given our flawed science establishment reward system. The standard practice in CFD for example is to continue to make “improvements” to the models. Then you try to demonstrate success on cases that caused the apparent “inaccuracy” in the first place. Its far less common to rerun an entire suite of cases and tests to make sure nothing else changed. There is simply no mechanism to motivate academics to spent the time and computing resources. That’s why most of the literature on “applications” is hard to take very seriously without very extensive and strong replication results.

    With regard to turbulence models, codes have a whole suite of them with many different sets of constants, so its fairly rare for people to document carefully the differences in results from a large number of credible choices. The scientific “system” offers little incentive for that. That’s an invitation for bias of course. It’s often too easy to “run” the code for different cases until you get “success” for each case. But you perhaps lose track of all the parameters tuned differently for all these cases. It is usually not an intentional deception, just human nature to want to show “good results. GCM’s have many of these sub grid models that are just as complex as turbulence models of course.

    Summarizing, the situation for GCM’s is probably no worse than for CFD or many other simulations of complex systems. The scientific “system” as it exists (and as it is defended by apologists) is simply flawed in terms of the extensive documentation of model and parameter variations that are really needed for these simulations.

    Models of complex systems are used for far more than generating “understanding”, whatever that might mean. This appeal to “understanding” the system has an eerie similarity to theology. One should demand quantitatively accurate results. That is how science differs from theology.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. dpy6629 says: 27 Dec 16 at 12:20 am

    “Len, Perhaps I should revise Models of complex systems are used for far more than generating “understanding”, whatever that might mean. ”

    How very interesting! “understanding”, for religion is some “belief in the authority of those that ‘Command“.
    “Understanding”, for the ‘scientific’, is merely for one to become “comfortable\conversant with the language used by those ‘not in Command'”!

    Like

  29. Well, the producers of duff dire predictions have a suite of options when it comes to data which fails to agree with them. Here follows a report of one of the more dramatic choices being deployed:

    NASA’s James Hansen, who had already done more than anyone else to warn the world about the greenhouse effect, made the gutsiest call, issuing a precise prediction for how the planet’s temperature would shift, month by month, in the next three years. At first he seemed to have missed, and greenhouse skeptics jumped all over the early results, using them to call the whole theory into question. But at a memorable scientific meeting in Hawaii, Hansen stood up and said, “I believe this is one case where the model is right and the world is wrong.”
    Mckibben, Bill. The End of Nature (Kindle Locations 128-132)

    As reported here: http://defyccc.com/the-model-is-right-and-the-world-is-wrong-hansen/

    My spiv at the racecourse would never be so brazen!

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  30. Richard, if you say we have “left pre-truth politics behind” as we enter the Trump era then it is difficult to see how you are not saying you think there is or will be more ‘truth’.

    I agree with David it’s highly unlikely McIntyre and Schmidt have both made such a basic mistake.

    I don’t know what this refers to. Schmidt et al 2014 updated the forcings and might better be used as a reference than the 2005 estimates in the McI graph. ATTP linked to the paper in a comment he made at the CA link you provided. It is old news that using the output from models that used forcing to 2005 to criticise those models is invalid, yet McI is still doing it and you are still echoing it.

    DPY, Schmidt et al 2014 updated the forcings. I imagine there is little point to re-running the models given the resources that would be needed. The only purpose would be to try to convince people like sceptics and they, having refused (as here) to accept that the different forcings are an improtant factor, would be unlikely to drop their use of the old model plots if they told their story better.

    John, hubris aside, Hansen did actually turn out to be right about the temperature drop though, didn’t he.

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  31. Parking for the moment the idea that Steve McIntyre made a stupid error in his graph and all his preceding work comparing models and observations over a number of years (the series of comparisons being referred to in his post of 5th January 2016) I want to return to another of Len’s misrepresentations:

    Richard, do you really think that western voters paid any attention to climate science in the recent votes. I think it is more likely that Putin had an influence than any candidate’s views on climate science or policy.

    But I didn’t say that any western voter paid attention to climate science “in the recent votes”. The truth I was referring to is a good deal more subtle than that.

    (And as I type I see Len has now stated that I said ‘we have “left pre-truth politics behind”’. But I didn’t do that either. Originally I said

    An encouraging way to view 2016 then is that it’s when the English-speaking world emerged from pre-truth politics.

    The rest is left as an exercise for the interested reader.

    Merry Christmas!

    Later I said “I’m very thankful that we seem to have left pre-truth politics behind”. Note the “seem to”. It’s tiresome when such moderating phrases are ignored again and again in the interests of rhetoric, rather than a genuine interest in increased, shared understanding.)

    On western voters my view is that most people rate policies purporting to deal with climate change as a very low priority indeed. The UN poll is perhaps the most striking, highlighted by Bjorn Lomborg in September 2015 and by Kenneth Richard in September 2016. (Richard also provides other polling evidence from the United States.) Many people weren’t paying attention to climate science as they came to vote in the UK or the US but the success of climate sceptics in those elections is very much in line with their views. And that’s an extremely good thing.

    But, even given this (to me) indisputable truth, what did I mean by the “English-speaking world” emerging from “pre-truth politics”? That may well be next in our slow march to “joint ideas under construction” in this festive period!

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Richard, it is clearly not a “stupid error” by McI, as he is well aware that the about actual forcings were lower than those modeled – see the comment thread on your link. More of a deliberate strategy, it seems, and why there is no point in re-running models with updated forcings, as suggested by DPY; the forcings turned out lower than originally modeled and re-running the models can only depress the projections nearer to measured outcomes. Everyone who has thought about it knows this, which is perhaps why people like McI prefer to use the original model output as a more powerful, if inaccurate, propaganda tool. Of course you don’t know the above and your fellow constructors of joint ideas probably don’t either.

    As to whether the “success of climate sceptics in those elections is very much in line with their views”, you have no way of knowing this for sure. And as for leaving pre-truth politics or seeming to do so, you can’t stop yourself. You now say “what did I mean by the “English-speaking world” emerging from “pre-truth politics”?” with not hint of only “seeming” to emerge.

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  33. Richard Drake says: 27 Dec 16 at 2:20 pm

    (And as I type I see Len has now stated that I said ‘we have “left pre-truth politics behind”’. But I didn’t do that either. Originally I said:
    “An encouraging way to view 2016 then is that it’s when the English-speaking world emerged from pre-truth politics.” The rest is left as an exercise for the interested reader. Merry Christmas!

    Merry Christmas to you Richard. Thanks for the clarification!

    “But, even given this (to me) indisputable truth, what did I mean by the “English-speaking world” emerging from “pre-truth politics”? That may well be next in our slow march to “joint ideas under construction” in this festive period!”

    I certainly hope so! Ideas, discussion, clarification, then validation! The scientific method. Perhaps we can also safely ignore those that cannot discuss, but only have ability to Profess from their arrogant academic chairs!!

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  34. Len:

    And as for leaving pre-truth politics or seeming to do so, you can’t stop yourself. You now say “what did I mean by the “English-speaking world” emerging from “pre-truth politics”?” with not hint of only “seeming” to emerge.

    You are being immensely tiresome in making this completely null point. I wanted to clarify what seemed to me to have happened. I didn’t need to repeat the “seem to” to denote this. Get a grip please and start to deal with the larger issues in the original post. Do you agree that at Christmas 1916 humanity only had Einstein’s intuition about general relativity? Don’t you agree that the difference of emphasis I pointed out between James Lovelock and Simon Singh seven years ago could have been to do with their having different views of how much observational confirmation there had been of alarmist claims? You want to nit-pick – ridiculously so in this instance – and you also never give your view of the bigger picture. How typical of the consensus enforcer. What an empty shell of a game.

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  35. As for McIntyre’s stupid error I agree it wasn’t one. The chance of ATTP spotting something when Steve Mc, Mosh and so many others didn’t is for me vanishingly small. But if McIntyre perchance was wrong it was certainly stupid. I’ll come back to the detail having clarified the original scene in my own terms, pre-truth politics included.

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  36. As to whether the “success of climate sceptics in those elections is very much in line with their views”, you have no way of knowing this for sure.

    You don’t accept any of the polling that’s shown climate policies as low or the very lowest priority for western voters for many years? (Especially since Climategate, which ties in with another major underlying theme in my original post.) Which polling would you point to that proves your point that there is legitimate uncertainty on this?

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  37. Len, I found the Schmidt 2014 article on adjusting the CMIP5 GMST for updated forcings. As I suspected, they DID NOT rerun the models with the new forcings. Instead they “estimated” the effect of the adjusted forcings. There weren’t details of how they did this, but there are lots of valid ways of doing it. This just confirms my observations above.

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  38. Will, I don’t doubt that climate modeling groups use modern version control methods. That doesn’t mean however that they effectively track the changes caused by all the changes made. The codes are so complex, that may not be possible. The recent paper on GCM tuning shows that they recognize there is a problem here.

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  39. Perhaps Manabe’s words bear repeating: “Climate models are a great tool for understanding climate. They are very poor at predicting it. Despite this, people will claim that models can predict climate.”

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  40. One more point Len is that “updating forcings” is always subject to the elephant in the room, i.e., aerosol forcing. I was looking at something from 2011 in which Hansen estimated total aerosol forcing as ~-1.8 W/m2. I believe AR5 is somewhere between -0.7 to -0.9 W/m2. Stephens has argued that it might be as low as -0.5 W/m2. The problem here is that as I understand it in GCM’s aerosol forcing is an emergent property, not an input. Thus, any attempt to “update forcings” is it seems to me doomed to failure if the GCM’s are still overestimating aerosol forcings.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Yes, Thomas, it is amazing to me that anyone with an ounce of integrity still defends GCM’s as a climate projection tool. Perhaps it is because there is nothing else except extrapolating current trends. In 20 years we will have enough data to finally settle this issue. Those who were wrong will simply deny they ever defended these models, as our friend ATTP has elevated into a fine art.

    Liked by 3 people

  42. That point is occasionally made, Thomas, but how true is it?. My guess is that the models will be liable to go haywire unless they are carefully pampered. That’s how they seemed to be in the 1970s, but I would expect the code to be more sophisticated now to cope with some of that sort of behaviour on its own.

    Manabe and others have published results which provide the guidelines: about 1C per doubling without insisting relative humidity stays constant, and about 3C if it is fixed (as I recall off the top of my head). That helps determine which runs end on the cutting-room floor., with some spread allowed around the guides because as everyone knows, the climate system displays variability. – a set of model runs without it would lack credibillity, and therefore would be of little use for scare-mongering or grant-seeking.

    So in what ways has our understanding of the system been improved through these models? They do provide a playground, a world of their own, in which programmers can sport and play, and I would not be surprised if some advances had been made there in numerical analysis or coding techniques. But what insights can be attributed to them about the climate system?

    Given all the money spent, it would be a consolation if there were some. I suspect the best they can do is provide illustrations of effects already known or surmised about, but I am willing,to be persuaded otherwise.

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  43. Richard, it seems to me that you find it ‘tiresome’ only because it must now be clear that your idea of the English speaking world emerging from a pre-truth era is just silly. On the bigger picture of you article, the science behind global warming predates any of the big new ideas of the early 20th C that you talk about. And I have no idea what caused differences of opinion between Lovelock and Singh, neither of who is likely to be very expert in climate science (Lovelock seems to have been all over the place on the issue).

    McI didn’t make an error, as I said, and ATTP didn’t spot an error either. What they are discussing is an old story that McI woke up with a new graph and you parroted unthinkingly. Everyone knows that the CMIP5 graphs use real forcings to 2005 and that subsequently the real, random solar, volcanic and ENSO forcings are not included. Everyone knows that this leads to the graphs being overestimates, not necessarily because the models are wrong (which they might be) but because the estimated forcings are in most models wrong post-2005. McI knew this, ATTP knew this, I knew this. But despite my mentioning it several times, you cannot acknowledge it.

    It is clear from polls that climate change is a low priority for many or even most people. I have no reason to doubt that. But that in no way means that most people’ s views align with those of climate skeptics as you implied, except in the sense that skeptics don’t care about the color of my wallpaper and neither do most other people.

    DPY, why would they re-run the models? We know that solar and ENSO forcings in the models are higher than what turned out. Using the correct forcings will suppress the CMIP5 graph curves – you can say that for sure without running any models. I know nothing about aerosols in the models or whether they can be expected to have changed post-2005.

    John, if you have a complex system that you want to understand, would you model it or not?

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  44. Len: I find your claim that the science behind climate alarmism preceded general relativity to be not just silly but moronic. I think pre-truth politics is a clever – see also my groundbreaking work “Humility and how I achieved it” – and true description of the policies the West has been pursuing for the past decade and more. The only uncertainty is whether we are really emerging from it. But the moronic equating of Fourier, Tyndall. Arrhenius and co with recent alarmist theories does you and your fellow-travellers no favours. As I said before, get a grip.

    Liked by 2 people

  45. Here are 4 telling quotations which are all threatening to good science:

    (1) Quote by Chris Folland of UK Meteorological Office: “The data don’t matter. We’re not basing our recommendations [for reductions in carbon dioxide emissions] upon the data. We’re basing them upon the climate models.”

    These ‘climate models’ in the hands of the Met Office seem to have caused them, and us, little but grief. For example, see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/11938459/Met-Office-shown-to-be-wrong-by-its-own-data.html, and http://www.qando.net/tag/met-office/

    (2) Quote by David Frame, climate modeler, Oxford University: “Rather than seeing models as describing literal truth, we ought to see them as convenient fictions which try to provide something useful.”

    Useful for what? So far, it would seem that politicians have found the greatest utility from them, not least because they don’t really care about their veracity. For example:

    (3) Quote by Christine Stewart, former Canadian Environment Minister: “No matter if the science is all phoney, there are collateral environmental benefits…. climate change [provides] the greatest chance to bring about justice and equality in the world.”
    (4) Quote by Timothy Wirth, U.S./UN functionary, former elected Democrat Senator: “We’ve got to ride the global-warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.”

    The 4 quotes are from a must-know-about compilation here: http://www.c3headlines.com/global-warming-quotes-climate-change-quotes.html

    If Trump’s appointees turn out to be even just half as good as they seem to be, I am inclined to modify a sentence of Richard’s from the end of his post:

    An encouraging way to view 2017 then is that it will be when the English-speaking world elevated the status of ground-truth (i.e. observations) in both climate politics and climate science.

    Liked by 2 people

  46. Richard, can you really be saying that the science behind global warming was not developed by Fourier, Tyndall, Arrhenius etc? Do you really think the greenhouse effect is a modern theory?

    John, if you have a complex system that you want to understand, would you model it or not?

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  47. Len, the question is not whether to model or not, the question is whether the global climate models have helped make progress in our understanding of the climate system. My guess is that their direct contribution over cost ratio is quite small. Their indirect contribution because of their role in fund-raising may well be larger, since surely out of the thousands of new hires made possible by the funding-bonanza, some of them discovered something to add something non-trivial to our knowledge.

    Liked by 2 people

  48. Len: Before I answer can you please summarise the differences between Manabe and Wetherald’s explanation of the greenhouse effect in May 1967 and the pre-1915 theories? Which one do you think more accurately reflects real-world observations? What do most climate scientists think? Alarmist theory goes way beyond Manabe and Wetherald of course. Could you also give us your best estimate for climate sensitivity (both measures) and the social cost of carbon, so we know where you stand on the key inputs purporting to justify alarmist policies. Then we can begin to have a look at observational support, or otherwise, that underlies the claim that current policies are based at best on intuitions.

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  49. John:

    An encouraging way to view 2017 then is that it will be when the English-speaking world elevated the status of ground-truth (i.e. observations) in both climate politics and climate science.

    Won’t it be great if that turns out to be true

    Liked by 2 people

  50. [Snipped. There’s a misunderstanding here. Either you answer my questions or you take no further part in this thread.]

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  51. Len Martinez says: 28 Dec 16 at 11:42 pm

    “John, I thought you’d made “ground-truth” up, but I see that it is a thing. Also, as I said, you might ask climate modelers what they think they have learned. Isaac Held has a comment box on his site (e.g. https://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/blog_held/73-tuning-to-the-global-mean-temperature-record/)

    I was interviewed recently for a news article on climate model tuning, which said: … nearly every model has been calibrated precisely to the 20th century climate records—otherwise it would have ended up in the trash. “It’s fair to say all models have tuned it,” says Isaac Held . The word “precisely” changes the flavor of this sentence a lot, raising the spectre of overfitting. (I have no memory of using that word.) But I don’t doubt that I did say the part inside the quotes. I am not very good at provided sound bites. Consistent with this post, a more accurate and long-winded sound bite would have been something like — in light of the continuing uncertainty in aerosol forcing and climate sensitivity, I think it’s reasonable to assume that there has been some tuning, implicit if not explicit, in models that fit the GMT evolution well.

    The Global Mean Temperature (GMT); as John and Richard point out, has absolutely no physical or scientific meaning. Such is only part of the scam!

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  52. John Casor 3 months ago

    “In Eisenhower’s Farewell Address, commonly known as the Military-Industrial Complex speech, Ike warned us about the set of circumstances that would both create and give the AGW unassailable authority, at least among the “elites.”

    “Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.
    In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.
    Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.
    The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.
    Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific/technological elite.
    It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system — ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.” http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst306/documents/indust.html

    In other words tha same old:
    Don’t pee on my foot; then try to tell me it’s raining pilgrim!

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  53. Richard asks “What stage are we at with the claims of climate science?”. I think a major study, at the very least a well-funded Royal Commission over a couple of years, would be required to answer that.

    But individuals are contributing off their own initiative: McIntyre and McKitrick relentlessly pursued the MBH Hockey Stick and exposed it as junk science; Montford captured that saga in his superbly written work ‘The Hockey Stick Illusion’; Watts (of WUWT) and Curry (of Climate Etc) in their different ways cast their critical eyes and penetrating minds over many features of ‘climate science’, and encourage others to review what has been going on; Pierre Gosselin in Germany (‘NoTricksZone’ blog), Paul Homewood in England (‘NotALotOfPeopleKnowThat’ blog), and Steve Goddard in the States (‘RealClimateScience’ blog) highlight absurdities, contradictions, and destructive pretensions in that influential sub-culture; investigative journalists like Donna Laframboise in Canada (‘NoFrackingConsensus’ blog) and Jo Nova in Australia (‘JoanneNova’ blog) provide powerful, reflective and insightful commentaries on the climate science/politics nexus; and more and more examples could be listed – these are just some of the people I admire greatly for their work. All are helping answer Richard’s question.

    But here is another contribution in the making which is particularly interesting here, given the attention given to climate models in the thread. The blogger Chiefio (‘Musings of the Chiefio’) has downloaded one of the early climate models – one apparently used by Hansen et al, for a while – and is going to examine its entrails: https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2016/12/28/inside-gcm-model-ii/ . I would have thought that was work for a dedicated team of programmers and subject-matter experts (as part of that aforementioned Royal Commission perhaps), but he is doing it on his own. Let us wish him well with that venture.

    The providers of the model describe it thusly:

    EdGCM provides a research-grade Global Climate Model (GCM) with a user-friendly interface that can be run on a desktop computer. For the first time, students can explore the subject of climate change in the same way that actual research scientists do. In the process of using EdGCM, students will become knowledgeable about a topic that will surely affect their lives, and we will better prepare the next generation of scientists who will grapple with a myriad of complex climate issues.

    Our goal is to improve the quality of teaching and learning of climate-change science through broader access to GCMs, and to provide appropriate technology and materials to help educators use these models effectively. With research-quality resources in place, linking classrooms to actual research projects is not only possible, but can also be beneficial to the education and research communities alike.

    [source given here: https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2016/12/27/a-remarkably-tiny-global-circulation-model-you-can-run/%5D

    This may also serve to ‘better prepare the next generation of scientists who will grapple with a myriad of complex climate issues’ from a sceptical, critical perspective. Hoisting and petards come to mind, for the models have been exploited for their political impact by the science-side campaigners for alarm about CO2 . The Climategate Revelations exposed their unedifying schemings, and the mess they were making of climate data management (HarryReadMe file). An exposure of the doings inside their GCM software would be very welcome, whether they be innocent and genuine, or mendacious and corrupting of science.

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  54. [Snipped. There’s a misunderstanding here. Either you answer my questions or you take no further part in this thread.]

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  55. Here’s another recent development from those on the side of the angels when it comes to climate science: Scott Adams )of Dilbert fame) has announced The Climate Science Challenge. In his own words:

    I keep hearing people say that 97% of climate scientists are on the same side of the issue. Critics point out that the number is inflated, but we don’t know by how much. Persuasion-wise, the “first offer” of 97% is so close to 100% that our minds assume the real number is very high even if not exactly 97%.

    That’s good persuasion. Trump uses this method all the time. The 97% anchor is so strong that it is hard to hear anything else after that. Even the people who think the number is bogus probably think the real figure is north of 90%.

    But is it? I have no idea.

    So today’s challenge is to find a working scientist or PhD in some climate-related field who will agree with the idea that the climate science models do a good job of predicting the future.

    Hat-tip for this to Matt Briggs. His coverage, and the further links he provides, are worth a look: http://wmbriggs.com/post/20625/ He writes

    Climate politics insists on maintaining the status quo, i.e. the moneyed Consensus, and climate religion believes mankind is necessarily harmful to the environment. Both views aren’t keen on the points Adams makes.

    It is the key, fundamental, and only point necessary to understand that if a theory or model makes lousy predictions, then something is wrong with the theory which needs to be fixed.

    Global climate models make lousy predictions, therefore the models are in error due to, say, typos in the computer code, or the theory on which they models are based is in error due to mistakes in the physics or chemistry. Both the models and theory could be broken, of course.

    There we go, that Feynman criterion for good science appears again! Maybe climate scientists could get the UN to classify it as hate speech.

    Len, there’s a bit at the end of Matt’s post which made me think of you. He has had a request from a reader who says of himself ‘when it comes to statistics and sciency talk, it’s mostly gibberish to me. ‘. He wants Matt to explain stuff to him, and Matt kindly gives him a lead into posts which might help him, and I would commend these to you as well: http://wmbriggs.com/classic-posts/ . It is a good thing if we all try to help each other make sense of what is troubling us.

    Liked by 3 people

  56. Sorry Len, I’ve been treating you as if you were a responsible adult, interested in making up his own mind. These comment threads are not well suited to providing the help you need right now, so I suggest you look for a grown-up whom you trust and ask for their advice on what to study, and what to find out about – all by yourself – in order to begin developing informed opinions of your own. Just telling you mine is not really going to help you. I don’t want you to listen to me about what to think, I want you to discover and decide for yourself.

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  57. Richard Drake says: 28 Dec 16 at 5:30 pm

    “Len: Before I answer can you please summarise the differences between Manabe and Wetherald’s explanation of the greenhouse effect in May 1967 and the pre-1915 theories?”

    Richard,
    Please summarize just what “Manabe and Wetherald’s explanation of the greenhouse effect in May 1967” may possibly mean to you? To me that whole paper is about nothing; nothing but the difference ‘tween absolute and relative humidity of a single thermostatic profile, and static recovery times in days. The paper is fraught with countless technical error and is meaningless with an atmosphere that undergoes a complete revision of profile every 12 hours.

    [Thanks. Your opinion is noted and preserved for posterity! But I don’t actually want discussion of this point on this thread. See below.]

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  58. Sorry, I’ve been busy trying to connect Rust to Ruby. Exciting!

    Just in response to Will at 8:24pm:

    Whether we want detailed discussion of the greenhouse effect on Cliscep as a whole is something the core team has talked about briefly. Don’t bet on it. But maybe. We’d probably need a separate thread to have a public discussion of whether we want to have such discussions! And we may not even do that publicly.

    I asked Len about the Manabe & Wetherald in 1967 because I believe it’s been highly influential on today’s climate scientists and it certainly comes after Einstein in 1915! (Nullius in Verba thinks the same according to this summary on Judy Curry’s in November 2010.)

    Len needs to give me some answer on that and the other questions to take further part. But this was not an invitation to have a protracted debate on the details. Thanks for your understanding!

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  59. Richard Drake
    Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
    2101 Wilson Blvd.,
    Suite 550
    Arlington, VA 22201

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  60. H Jorgan: Are you intending to supply contact details for all the Richard Drakes on the Internet who are not me? Best to treat this as a rhetorical question by the way. I take you to be an absurdist (thanks Tom Fuller) and am likely to snip further such contributions.

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  61. On absurdism more generally I firmly believe it’s ridiculous to try to debate the greenhouse effect on this thread. ATTP didn’t seem to get the point and was put right by one of my Twitter followers two days ago:

    While we’re on the meta-discussion (briefly – other potential commenters please note) readers may or may not be amused by my reply to Derek here (click the date at the bottom of the tweet to see it):

    Twitter continues to have strengths blogs don’t and vice versa. We should come back to Steve McIntyre’s series of tweets on the absurdity, and possible dangers for world peace, of Putin-did-it conspiracy theories of the US election.

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  62. A useful interaction yesterday on Twitter clarifies something I called out as moronic from Len three weeks ago but in this case the person pushing the meme was a respected UK climate scientist. If such a thing still exists.

    Oxford professor of physics Jonathan Jones was having none of it:

    I showed my appreciation and got this response:

    So it’s not just brainless trolls, moronic misdirection comes as standard with climate science.

    Trump is right that it’s no way to run a railroad, let alone the world economy.

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  63. To recap, these were my questions to Len:

    … can you please summarise the differences between Manabe and Wetherald’s explanation of the greenhouse effect in May 1967 and the pre-1915 theories? Which one do you think more accurately reflects real-world observations? What do most climate scientists think? Alarmist theory goes way beyond Manabe and Wetherald of course. Could you also give us your best estimate for climate sensitivity (both measures) and the social cost of carbon, so we know where you stand on the key inputs purporting to justify alarmist policies. Then we can begin to have a look at observational support, or otherwise, that underlies the claim that current policies are based at best on intuitions.

    This was after he’d made the following claim:

    On the bigger picture of you article, the science behind global warming predates any of the big new ideas of the early 20th C that you talk about.

    This is essentially the same lie – or, if one feels like being kind, misdirection – as Ed Hawkins on Twitter:

    Man has caused vast majority of the warming since 1800s. We know this because of the basic physics of the greenhouse effect.

    As Jonathan Jones said in response:

    you’re better than that Ed; don’t sink to the level of the idiots who have brought your field into such disrepute in the past. it’s basic physics that the climate sensitivity is strictly positive, but the size of the effect is very complicated physics

    Climate policies are justified by a chain of reasoning and it’s completely fair to ask anyone wanting to engage on the questions raised in this thread what their estimates are for the quantities that run through that chain of reasoning. These are what need to be checked against observations, over time. Maybe a great deal of time. And until the observations fall in line we’re dealing with pre-truth politics.

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  64. Pingback: Gove meets Trump | Climate Scepticism

  65. I want to apologise for asking this question of Len Martinez:

    Could you also give us your best estimate for climate sensitivity (both measures) and the social cost of carbon, so we know where you stand on the key inputs purporting to justify alarmist policies.

    When this was about to happen:

    President Trump is preparing to take executive actions soon that will begin the process of unraveling former President Barack Obama’s climate change legacy, while clearing the way for the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

    Trump’s White House team will begin the climate rollback by striking down a controversial climate metric called the Social Cost of Carbon, which the Obama administration used to justify the cost of its environmental regulations.

    The carbon cost formula has been a big target by Republicans who have criticized it as a hidden standard that few people have access to and that appeared to be directly controlled and tweaked by the Obama White House.

    There again, I suppose it’s still going to be used elsewhere. From the Washington Examiner three days ago.

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