Brad Keyes Does Angry

[This post is essentially by Brad, which is why his name is in the title, since WordPress won’t let me post under his name.]

Paul Matthews’ post “The Victims of Climate Alarmism” made a simple but telling point about the potential effects on fragile minds of scientists spouting nonsense. I wanted to comment on the article, being something of an expert on fragile minds, but felt inhibited, since comments have taken off in a quite different direction, as is inevitable on a blog, and to be welcomed.

Not to overlook excellent comments by John Ridgway, Dennis Ambler, Hunter, Ron Clutz and others, the thread over the past four days has been largely dominated by a three way conversation between Brad Keyes, Andy West, and Alan Kendall.

Serious-minded blogs sometimes give an estimated reading time for their serious articles, like twenty minutes for something really hard. I’d recommend about two hours for reading and understanding the hundred odd comments at Paul’s post. And that’s despite the fact that there’s hardly a single link to some exterior source. It’s all happening in the brains of the participants. For comparison, take a shoofty at any article at the PhDs-only which typically relies on autocitation and choral repetition in the comments for its dramatic effect. Here, you have to think. It keeps our readership down to manageable proportions, thank Gaia, but on the downside, the bastards can continue to get away with murder.

The question raised in this conversation, to grossly oversimplify, is this:

Are scientists (and we’re talking about ex-presidents of the Royal Society here, not just your average geography teacher) more like Pinocchio, the naughty puppet, or like Josef Mengele?

Anyway, here’s a comment (one of many) by Brad Keyes (03 Nov 18 at 11:18 pm) on Paul’s post.

I don’t know what else to do with it except publicise it here for those who find the thread under Paul’s post too long and erudite. What I’d really really like to see is a cast iron case made that Sir Paul Nurse or the Reverend Brian Cox are not just long nosed sawdust-brained marionettes, but something else. Then we could have a libel action and a real debate.

[…] Whoever asked me “don’t you essentially have to believe in a conspiracy among scientists”, the answer is yes and no. There is an empirically obvious passive conspiracy going on, a conspiracy of silence, omission and inaction, that involves an appallingly large quantity of individuals, each of whom has chosen omerta (from the Italian for “mortgage”) over truth in an unforgivable violation of whatever scientific values their field still pretends to hold dear. By truth I mean, in this case, honest communication with the other 8 billion people on the planet: the muggles. If you don’t believe me, you can’t explain the rise and rise of Oreskes, whose entire modus operandi is to miseducate everyone who’ll listen to her about how science works, and whose sole opponent in the science-education wars is YOURS FUCKING TRULY. I would dearly like to see someone with academic clout denounce Oreskes as a traducer and enemy of science. That might even redeem my vestigial faith in humanity. But I’m still waiting. In the meantime, it’s up to me—a person nobody has any prima facie reason to take particularly seriously—to bust a Harvard Prof’s vile myths. Pro bono. Not only pro bono, but at a measurable opportunity and financial cost to me per annum.

It’s left to the reader to identify 5 other conspiracies of silence that obtain across broad swathes of academia, and whose existence is proven by the kinds of shit our enemies get away with, not just with impunity but without a decibel of protest from anyone “serious.”

These people are not as good as the ‘good Germans.’ Ordinary people under the Third Reich had to choose between being killed and letting others be killed. That is a hard choice. There could be good people on both sides of that choice, and I assume there were good people that stayed silent, while other people, who were (not necessarily, but probably) better than them, spoke up.

No such excuse can save the scientists who’ve passively watch their colleagues delude eight billion people about how science works.

They are bad, or at best ethically valueless, people. Not necessarily bad, but not even slightly good. They haven’t had the micro-courage to voluntarily assume a piddling career risk in order to help arrest the dismantling of an entire generation’s understanding of science, and counting. As I said, such cowards might not be evil, but for all the good they’ve done they might as well not have been born.

If I sound unreasonable, I can only beg your pardon and remind you that, being courageous, I cannot comprehend the alibis of the lily-livered. My empathic powers, normally reliable, might well be blocked in this case by the psychological distance between a moral person and a moral non-entity.

But fuck’ em. I say to such pygmies:

Unless you risked assault or assassination, you have no excuse for not speaking up. Don’t tell me your sinecure in climate [insert Greek stem] ology was at stake, because nobody cares. That was a complete wank anyway, a glorified welfare scheme for the most unemployably-dim percentile of PhDs. You’re lucky we’re not asking for a refund of the hundreds of thousands of pounds you embezzled pretending to be a scientist despite adding nothing to human knowledge. Keep whining and we might have to rethink our lenience.”

But active conspiracies? Conspiracies to go out of one’s way and lie? These seem to me very limited in scope, where they exist. Very few scientists ARE lying. But that’s all it takes to keep the rot going. The vast, nameless, talentless bulk of climate-science backup dancers don’t have to do or say anything (including science), they just need to collect their cheques every month.


  1. I don’t believe there is a conspiracy for scientists to lie. However, I do think that the comments of many of them are driven by their emotive world view, rather than a dispassionate weighing of the evidence. They are activists and trading on their reputation to advance their cause. Getting the “right” answer by the wrong method is acceptable to them. That is why they won’t call out bad behavior by their own side.
    In the end, it will be science that is the loser, and that is the sad thing.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Scientists are passionate about paying their mortgages. Get them on a one-on-one in a pub and they’ll also be passionate about science but it evaporates after the booze stops talking the next morning. Climate change a is not a special issue. Vast majority of scientists don’t give a FF. There are lots of myths, created by scientists, which they keep mum on:
    * Linear No-threshold,
    * saturated animal fat causes artery cholesterol – causing heart attack (stop eating fatty meat?)
    * CFCs destroyed the ozone layer over the Antarctic,
    * Compared to saturated fat, sucrose is not so bad,
    * Fossil fuel particulates kill instantly.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Conspiracy is a fact, not a theory, of life.

    ‘Birds do it, bees do it, /something else that rhymes with bees do it.’

    Monkeys do it. Imagining they suddenly grow out of it just because they lose their tails and get a wax would be special pleading of the most heroic (if not the most evolutionarily-literate) kind.

    Yes, yes, I know about simians and pongids and hominids and hominoids, oh my!, so Darwin’s bulldogs should go and lecture sometbody who needs it, like Mark Maslin, because the above was not to be taken fundagelically.

    The well-known paranoiac Stephan Lewandowsky’s infantile work to smear us climate kuffar for accepting ‘conspiracy theories’* is just another illustration of one of the Six Characteristics of Anti-science. To quote the children’s propaganda text ‘My First Big Tobacco Playbook’ :

    We need to reposition fact as theory while our comrades in “science” continue to reposition baseless supposition as fact

    *In case this isn’t obvious, no, I don’t ACTUALLY mean that the unflushable Lew, PhD (Pun. Psych.) is trying to shame skeptics for being conpiracists like him. He’s trying to shame conspiracists like him for being skeptics.

    Commenters below can stop pointing this out, thanks. Any time you want.

    Sheesh, you people are almost a twentieth as literalist as WUWT readers.


  4. Geoff,

    you’re too kind to me as always, but [in]correcting ‘rort’ to ‘rot’ was NOT the kindest cut. 🙂

    Don’t you people keep up with Aust/NZ informal words for “scam; dishonest scheme to defraud” ?


  5. [Geoff, I corrected your scientifically-wrong font choices.

    It was either that, or finally get around to completing my draft post (estimated reading time: twenty minutes) demonstrating the ethical equivalency of people who set whole paragraphs (or more!!) of text in italics with other criminals against humanity—pirates operating in international waters, genocidaires and dirty-bomb entrepreneurs being some of the closest examples.]


  6. Brad.
    “The vast, nameless, talentless bulk of climate-science backup dancers don’t have to do or say anything (including science), they just need to collect their cheques every month.”

    Wonderful to read, full of venom and bile, but how true is it? I cannot judge, but I came perilously close to being incorporated amongst that hoard despised by you.
    I may have mentioned this before, so dear reader if you remember I crave your indulgence. On a holiday to Peru I flew over the Nazca Lines, the dating of which has been somewhat debated. I noticed that ephemeral streams crossed the lines, sometimes cutting across them (in which case the Line was older than the last time the river flowed), but elsewhere the Line cut the river sediment (in which case the Line was younger than the last river flow). If we were able to date the river flows we would be able to bracket the time when the Lines were constructed, and at least eliminate the more extreme guesses. Now, there is a technique that is used in archaeology that dates when pottery and some types of sediments become buried. I was proposing to use this technique.
    Funding this research would not come cheap. I thought we might interest National Geographic but we would need logistic support and permission from the Peruvian Government. I doubted they would be sufficiently interested. However survival of the Lines would be important to them. So I approached a member of CRU to discover if it might be possible to forecast future rainfall amounts (and therefore future destructive river flow events). I proposed that we should recruit a Peruvian student to do general research upon the Nazca Lines concentrating upon their age and possible future survival. I was prepared to sell my sceptical soul for CRUgeld.
    I would do the same today. The point I’m making, belabourably (sic?), is that science needs funding, and to get good science done commonly requires consorting with the climate devil. Not all that do so , your “backup dancers”, deserve your anger.
    Post script. my wife became extremely ill, so her care and taking over her teaching load took over all my research time including any I might have proposed doing. When I had time to indulge in research again, the Peruvian bug had gone as also had my potential CRU “collaborator”. So the ideas behind the research proposal are still valid and available for anyone to use.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Alan,

    that’s a moving anecdatum from the unforgiving Peruvian Serengeti, wonderful to read, full of color and choler, but how relevant is it?

    How much CRUgeld per month would it have taken to make you geld the content of your lessons?

    This ain’t about *soul.* How ‘perilously close’ did you come to selling your *nads* as an educator (your real career)?

    Sorry, but I just don’t see you as a braying geldling, content to add zis hoofprint to the asinine herd, or as you spell it: hoard (sic).

    You’re not the kind of cat I can imagine abandoning his pride. Integrity doesn’t just vanish with a hoof because some ass holds a few bucks under your nose.

    I’d love to despise you, believe me, but you’ve shown your cards (excuse the vulgarity) too many times. I doubt you’d roll over and let someone cut them for love or money or Latin fever or any other weakness to which flesh is heir.

    PS I’ve come down with the South-of-the-border bug myself. You can go back to the Protestant world and get over it, but it never really leaves your system, does it?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. How did this state of affairs come about?

    Once upon a time, long ago (like 50 or 60 years), science was a vocation. People became scientists to pursue science. They cared. Sometime in the 1960s, science became a career. Today, smart careerists know all about bending statistics, fiddling data, publication, getting grants, promotion. They don’t call it “bending statistics”. It is merely applying (sometimes in the case of a Mann) innovating tried and tested rules. Fiddling data is “cleaning data” to them. Consensus was an idea imposed by politicians but applied by scientists to stop criticism. Everything they do has a rationale to themselves; but the the sum total of what they do can barely be called science; even though it may often be.

    The difference between climate science and those others (above), is that the climate scientists have a Jesus complex too. They think they’re saving the world. That explains their fanaticism, intolerance, one-dimensional mindsets. There may be some small scale conspiracy here and there; but it does not railroad this.

    Why Most Published Research Findings Are False, by John P. A. Ioannidis. 2005

    Cargo‐cult statistics and scientific crisis, by Philip B. Stark Andrea Saltelli. 2018

    [Rescued from the spam bin]

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Geoff, you typography criminal you, you’ve unmasked yourself. We know you’re online. So I expect an email any moment now about the awful draft I sent you 🙂


  10. Left to its own devices, mankind is capable of centring upon any belief that keeps the people happy and under control, no matter how little it may obey the rules of scientific rationality. This can be achieved through a fair dose of plotting and scheming but, that said, one should also appreciate just how much can be achieved just by putting people together in a room and introducing the right admixture of naivety, fear and sociability. I can readily sympathise with Brad’s somewhat uncharitable take on the subject since, after all, the whole process relies heavily upon the intellectual ennui of individuals who value status and personal well-being above the thrill of crucifixion. However, my personal preference would be to avoid chastisement and focus instead upon humanity’s extraordinary ability to inflict the maximum of self-harm with the best of intent.


  11. Brad is quite right to get angry with the dogma of Oreskes.
    Below is an extract from Oreskes and Conway 2010 – Merchants of Doubt that Brad included in a satirical piece at Joanne Nova’s blog earlier this year.

    Oreskes belief is that any new idea should be judged against established beliefs, by the academics who hold those beliefs. The history of thought on the scientific method is has a huge number varied attempts to grapple with these issues. But from Aristotle to the current day, the underlying aim was to get away from understanding the natural world through the prism of established beliefs and rhetoric. For those not familiar with this history, there is a long essay covering the key issues at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

    Liked by 5 people

  12. John:

    “However, my personal preference would be to avoid chastisement and focus instead upon humanity’s extraordinary ability to inflict the maximum of self-harm with the best of intent.”

    Agreed, including how deep and fundamentally into humans those abilities are architected. And adding the thing that’s harder to get one’s head around, that over most of the length of humanoid evolution this system has been a large net benefit regarding our path of group existence, which is why it evolved.


  13. For an example of the Oreskes method, try Supran and Oreskes 2017 – Assessing ExxonMobil’s Climate Change Communications (1977–2014) 

    The article assessed the output of Exxon’s communications according to established beliefs. In particular the stated in the introduction.

    Research has shown that four key points of understanding about AGW—that it is real, human-caused, serious, and solvable—are important predictors of the public’s perceived issue seriousness, affective issue involvement, support for climate policies, and political activism.

    The point Supran and Oreskes tried to make was that the Exxon-commissioned research tended to confirm the mantra in italics, whilst the Exxon-funded ads disputed the claims. Supran and Oreskes do not allow for Exxon Executives looking at the research and concluding it is a load of twaddle.

    Geoff reviewed this paper last year

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Brad. I think you are missing the point (perhaps I didn’t stress it enough). In order to be able to do the research I really really wanted to do, I was prepared to link up with climate proselytizers, to stand up and be thought of as a climate heathen. Selling one’s soul for a mess of pottage, comes to mind. I doubt if my scepticism would have been really challenged, but I must also admit I would have been intrigued by what their models would have come up with. I don’t believe models predict winds very well and the Nazca Lines have survived not only because the plateau has extraordinarily low rainfall, but also because it has very weak winds that do not move sand around as dunes that would fill any man-made surface depressions.
    I believe many scientists who have no real interests in climate change doctor their research funding applications with links to climate because they know that those in charge of allocating funds are more likely to fund proposals with such links. Add more “climate science backup dancers” to your hate list, who I think don’t really deserve to be there.


  15. Alan,

    “I believe many scientists who have no real interests in climate change doctor their research funding applications with links to climate because they know that those in charge of allocating funds are more likely to fund proposals with such links.”

    This has been put to the test by someone who submitted a number of grant requests for fictitious research projects unrelated to climate change. None received any backing and so they were resubmitted with the original titles but with the appendage ‘…and the affect of climate change’. The amended proposals all received approval! For the life of me, I cannot dig out the relevant references and who it is that performed the investigation. I seem to remember one of the papers had something to do with moles, but beyond that memory fails me. I wonder if anyone out there can help me out.


  16. John. At UEA we had a procedure whereby research proposals were vetted by senior faculty members before being submitted. Invariably the advice came back to link your proposal in some way to climate change. Since many of the senior staff sat on research fund awarding bodies, the advice was almost certainly good advice. Eventually I got tired of playing games and refused to submit proposals. I spent my last years at UEA doing small scale research with colleagues or based upon undergraduate research that had research funding attached to it. This did not stop my publishing. It did, however, stop research I dearly would have wished to pursue, like upon the Nazca Lines, or the fate of Maldive islands.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Andy,

    “…over most of the length of humanoid evolution this system has been a large net benefit regarding our path of group existence, which is why it evolved.”

    Absolutely. If group existence was on balance to the detriment of the genes possessed by the group members, it is difficult to see how it would have evolved in the first place. However, from the perspective of a particular group, there is no guarantee that behaviour that has hitherto bestowed a survival advantage will continue to do so in the future. Cliodynamics anyone?

    Liked by 1 person

  18. John:

    “…there is no guarantee that behaviour that has hitherto bestowed a survival advantage will continue to do so in the future.”

    Absolutely. But this understanding sets the stage for realisation that in the biggest picture, there are likely serious upsides still, even if the net may now be negative (and we have no means to assess the total sign, that I know of, could still be positive). A problem being that we appear to still be terribly dependant upon culture in some ways, and if wider society grasps the downsides such as have occurred with CAGW (initially a very good thing), there may come a sudden rush to throw it all out rather than just navigate a lot more carefully, with potentially massive unintended consequences. What would replace it? Likely a system of co-operation that started with what we thought was the best reason at the time, yet one that could end up like other apparently logical secular schemes such as Marxism, i.e. very much increasing not decreasing the likelihood of yet another cultural rise. For better or worse I doubt we’re going to be evolving out of this any time soon, I guess mitigation would be the plan…


  19. @Brad, I had the wrong glasses on and thought you were working against the climate establishment “Pro-bonobo.”

    NERC has a handy transparency feature where all the dosh it has doled out is listed & searchable. Since whenever, it’s thrown away 2.25 billion squid. Search term = “climate” -> 970 mil. Scrolling down, just awarded, money still warm from the printer, half a mil for “’Fracking’, framing and effective participation”, and another half a mil for “Understanding the spatial and temporal dynamics of public attitudes and community responses to shale gas: an integrated approach.”

    I strongly suspect that the good drs involved do not leap out of bed with a strong desire to find out what the spatio-temporal community attitudes to fracking are. “RQ2 [presumably research question 2]. What is the lived experience of communities affected by shale gas site preparation, exploration and extraction?” What indeed, but who cares? Researchers from 5 universities just have to know.

    There is too much “science” done, and too many scientists. Probably 90% could be deleted without slowing the expansion of the envelope of human knowledge. But to give these 5 drs their head and let them work on something that excites them, that would be a start. That would involve giving grants to scientists having judged their merit as smart cookies, not whether their grant form ticks the relevant boxes.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. It’s only a conspiracy if it’s done in secret. If it’s out in the open it’s groupthink. When it massages one’s moral sense of purpose, then it can be powerful groupthink. e.g. US manifest destiny, UK Victorian colonial mission to bring the 3Cs to the world. The kind of groupthink where one demonizes one’s opponents as backward, uncivilized, shills and deniers.

    Yes, some of them conspire from time to time, but it’s not the conspiracy which motivates climate madness; it’s the groupthink.

    Liked by 4 people

  21. Brad, this one’s for you. Old Joke:

    Brain transplants have developed to the point that prices are being set for acquiring a brain. For example, an heart surgeon’s brain costs $200 a gram; a rocket scientist’s brain $400 a gram, while a climate scientist brain is rated at $2000 a gram. When asked about the last number, the researcher said, “You have no idea how many climate scientists it takes to get a gram.”

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Mark4ASP,

    pedantry well taken—there’s no such thing as an open conspiracy.

    I’ve occasionally had the presence of mind to make that distinction myself, you’ll be glad to know. (How quickly I relapse into lexical laziness!)

    For Instance, as I chronicled in the History of The Climate Debate To Date:

    2010: Operation Nonspiracy launched

    The climate leadership begins a concerted drive to hose down conspiracist ideation by removing all appearance of secrecy about its ambitions to re-engineer the world.

    Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chair of the IPCC’s Working Group III, explains in precise German that, “we are in fact redistributing the world’s wealth by climate policy… one must free oneself of the delusion that climate policy is [about] environmental policy.” It’s a message repeated ad nauseam by public figures from Tim Flannery and Christina Figueres to Pentti Linkola, Gina McCarthy and Jacques Chirac.

    But it seems as if no matter how openly the agenda is spelled out, how often, or in how many languages, skeptics will always portray it as some sort of clandestine plot.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Actually, climate scientists deserve some sympathy in view of looming global cooling. That’s an existential crisis, with many climatists likely finding themselves out of work. Unless they were quick enough to accept Macron’s largess by emigrating to France (climate refugees??). Even in France, wine production will be hit by a cooling climate, and don’t bet on Viking vineyards making a comeback in northern Britain.

    The ray of hope for climate scientists is that their experience could prove valuable in addressing other natural mysteries. The objective will be to settle the science on issues that have long been controversial. Climatologists are the logical choice to branch into these questions, given their demonstrated creativity regarding causes and effects of climate change.
    Several edge research issues await their attention, for example:

    More opportunties:

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Alan,

    I think it was you (which means it probably wasn’t, as I’ve learned in my struggles to remember what Andy et al are arguing) who said, supra or alibi, that scientists collaborating on a paper have to refrain from “applying the scientific method too early in the piece” OWTTE. That is (or was): they have to suspend their scientifically-mandated hostility to their own conclusion long enough to get the research done. Or something.

    But this didn’t make sense (to me, and I’m the only person whose mind I partially know).

    The scientific method devolves upon you the duty to *test* your hypothesis by ‘immersing it in the acid of reality.’ You’re under no obligation, however, to try to “tear down” any particular conclusion…. until you’ve actually got a conclusion to tear down (by finishing the study, then writing it all up, complete with a section headed Conclusions).

    Then, for your *next* paper, you can feel free to give full vent to your enmity towards that Conclusion. Or you can test a different hypothesis altogether.

    At no point, however, is there any danger of “applying TSM too early,” as probably-not-Alan put it; there is no such thing as applying it “too early.”


  25. Manic,

    thank you for understanding my revulsion.

    If anyone’s interested, the antidote to Oreskes’ Nu Epistemology (which works even without understanding the scientific method in great depth) is as follows:

    NO, bitch, knowledge is not “whatever the experts think,” as you would have the gullible imagine.

    It is JUSTIFIED, TRUE belief.

    This is a simplification, perhaps, but it’s better to gloss over some complications for now, as I’m doing, than to flush 3000 years of epistemological and psychological insight down an Oreskean S-bend.

    Truth is key. Or at least, I think so. Don’t you?

    Oreskes tellingly forgets to mention it, because in her savage misosophy of majoritarian science-by-opinion-survey, it’s unnecessary: might MAKES right. Popularity ESTABLISHES truth.

    There is simply no room in her ontology for an idea that is *accepted by all the experts* and yet *not true.* It does not compute. Not when you’re peddling such a babyish dichotomous [mis]understanding of the world. Anything requiring a Venn diagram is WAY above the IQ of her target audience, or if it isn’t, she intends to stultify her listeners until it is.

    Justified is key. Or at least, the modern scientific method seems to think so.

    And this is just as key, if not key-er: the ONLY justification a scientific claim can have is scientific evidence.

    Nothing else is allowed to be passed off as justification for a belief.

    Opinion polls don’t count; they’re worthless counterfeits, and “scientists” caught substituting them for evidence should go straight to fucking prison like any other forger of currency. (I’ll pretend I’m being hyperbolic here if it’ll make people happy, but I’m not.)

    When it comes to evidence for an idea about nature, i.e. reasons to believe something about nature, people’s opinions don’t mean shit. Expert opinion doesn’t mean shit. Consensus expert opinion doesn’t mean shit. Unanimous expert opinion doesn’t mean shit.

    At the risk of appearing to make an argumentum ad consensum myself:

    every scientist on earth knows this.

    (I’m not actually being hypocritical at all in making that appeal, however; can the astute reader see why I’m NOT guilty of the same crime I’d accuse [say] a climate consensualist of committing in his rhetoric?)


    PS If any active scientist with “standing” as such in the public mind is reading this comment, you are obliged (as a doctor scientiae) to speak out against Oreskes’ traducing of science and dismantling of popular scientific literacy, because people would actually listen to you. If you don’t, you’re valueless to humanity. You’re about as much use a good German who pinches his nose when the crematorium wind blows, but without any of his excuses. Go away and do your work. With luck, you might just discover something that makes up for your moral cowardice. If not, don’t look here for forgiveness.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Brad
    “The scientific method devolves upon you the duty to *test* your hypothesis by ‘immersing it in the acid of reality.’ You’re under no obligation, however, to try to “tear down” any particular conclusion…. until you’ve actually got a conclusion to tear down (by finishing the study, then writing it all up, complete with a section headed Conclusions).”

    First, I don’t believe I ever discussed tearing down “conclusions”. What I discussed was the popular misapprehension of what the scientific method entails – subjecting both the evidence and hypotheses built upon that evidence to critical appraisal from the outset. I don’t believe most scientists proceed this way, it would be extraordinarily inefficient. BTW to me conclusions have already undergone stress testing and have survived it.
    Second. For me much science is suspect because it settles on a particular hypothesis too early and concentrates all or most of its later efforts on finding more evidence to support that hypothesis. In geology commonly there commonly is insufficient evidence surviving the vicissitudes of time to reach firm conclusions. A methodology was formulated, termed the method of “multiple working hypotheses” whereby you deliberately attempt to devise many possible explanations that explain all of the surviving evidence that you possess. This allows different possible explanations to be explored further and to focus upon finding critical evidence that will eliminate some of the explanations. What I realized was that this methodology ought to apply to all cutting edge science where initially there is insufficient evidence to reach a single hypothesis. However, in most science this doesn’t happen. The available evidence is “explained” by a single hypothesis which scientists fall in love with, and the research is to provide backup evidence in its support. You sometimes hear of the multiple working hypotheses method being used, usually when other scientists are appalled by having to accept the proposed hypothesis. The example of particles (neutrinos?) apparently travelling faster than the speed of light is an example. Several alternative explanations of the data were almost immediately proposed.
    If ever a science needed to use the multiple working hypotheses method it is climate. But it settled upon a single favoured hypothesis involving anthropogenic CO2 and deliberately ignored or trashed all other hypotheses.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Alan,

    it’s interesting to note that even medical doctors (who aren’t scientists) know you have to come up with differential diagnoses first, then order/perform the tests necessary to disambiguate between them, THEN tell the patient what’s wrong with them and what to take for it.


  28. Gosh Brad, the writers of House (Hugh Laurie) would have had to abandon most of their scripts if what you believe about doctors is true.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Brad,As well as doing angry and absurd, you also do “subtle”. At 8:39 am you commented on an Richard Drake’s excellent post of 11 Jan 2017 Memories 1975-2016, 1917-2017. A key point, which Richard enlarges upon, is contained in a quote from Dominic Cummings (former Vote Leave campaign manager) in a long article on the successful campaign

    The foundation problem with the EU was best summarised by the brilliant physicist David Deutsch, the man who extended Alan Turing’s 1936 paper on computation into the realm of quantum mechanics. Deutsch said:‘The EU is incompatible with Britain’s more advanced political culture. I’m voting Leave… [E]rror correction is the basic issue, and I can’t foresee the EU improving much in this respect… [P]reserving the institutions of error correction is more important than any policy… Whether errors can be corrected without violence is not a “concern” but a condition for successfully addressing concerns.’Healthy and effective systems like our immune system and the English common law allow constant and rapid error-correction. Unhealthy and ineffective systems like the EU and modern Whitehall departments block error-correction. They are extremely centralised and hierarchical therefore information processing is blocked and problems are not solved. In politics this often leads to disasters when more and more resources are devoted to reinforcing failure. NB. This most fundamental question played effectively no role in the debate.

    A key aspect of a criminal court under English common law is that the onus is on the prosecution to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt. That means being very specific about the charges and how the evidence relates to those charges. Other key points include allowing the evidence to be cross-examined, and that the case is decided by those with no direct interest in the case.
    The scientific method (as applied to the pure sciences) is similar in that it requires constructing a hypothesis, and then verifying that hypothesis against experiment. Dependent on the results, the hypothesis is then accepted, rejected, or modified. Most research is about modification to obtain ever deeper understanding of natural phenomena.
    The climate consensus, as espoused by Oreskes and others, does not allow for any error correction of fundamentals, nor for any refinement or development of existing beliefs. It starts from the a priori truths of AGW as “real, human-caused, serious, and solvable”. In this light, any objection to these a priori truths must be due to some sort of denial, whether ignorance, blinkered thinking or outright lying. By establishing a monopoly of ideas, there is no challenge possible to the sacred truths, whether from people or reality. That Oreskes is blinkered by ideology is most clearly shown on the policy front. She continually attacks US and other Western Oil companies. But there is little or no attacking of fossil fuel corporations in China, India, Russia or the Middle East. To reduce global emissions to zero within 35 years or less will mean shutting down these corporations as well as successful Western companies such as ExxonMobil. Neither does Oreskes, and like-minded try to persuade the developing countries (with >60% of global emissions) to start reducing their emissions. It all appears to be about a power grab in western democracies, particularly in academia.

    Liked by 3 people

  30. On proposals for funding:
    The late Oceanographer Robert Stevenson wrote this in 1997:

    “At the time (1974), the disaster-is-coming atmosphere was so thick, that I submitted, tongue-in-cheek, a proposal to the National Science Foundation (NSF) asking for funds to study the Polynesians.

    My alleged rationale was that it would be useful to look at a population, which, for some reason, possibly environmental, had packed up all its members and possessions, and travelled via canoe thousands of miles to set up a new civilization on a faraway island.

    I requested funds for a three-year project that would outfit a large sailing ship, fully equipped, including medical specialists, in order to sail to the less-populated islands, and try to find out from the present residents, what events prompted their ancestors to move. (The idea of the doctors and dentists, was to offer islanders some services in exchange for their history.)

    To my great surprise, the NSF was ready to fund this proposal; the funders were crushed to find out it was a joke! The science funding agencies in this period, also gave birth to computer climate modeling. That action buried the actual science of climate, based on study of the solar-astronomical cycles and their correlation with long-term climate changes.

    It was then, in the early 1970s, that ideology, and not science, began to drive so-called climate science. If a disaster scenario for global cooling might promote the use of more fossil fuels, and hence more industrialization and more population, another scenario would have to be found–equally scary but more directly blamable on human activity.

    The driving force was to get people to blame science for environmental disasters, to use fewer resources, and to shrink the world’s population, particularly its brown, black, and yellow parts.

    And so the climate science funding proliferated, climate modelling proliferated, global warming and “greenhouse effect” propaganda proliferated–and climate science, based on study of solar astronomical cycles, oceanography, geology, and so on, was buried alive.”

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Alan,

    to clarify, I wasn’t arguing that geologists understand something that “even medical doctors” understand, I was arguing that if they don’t understand it (as you allege, credibly), then they should be acutely ashamed. And chronically, for that matter.

    BTW the writers of House aren’t constrained by medical realities, so the things I say about medical practice/culture/training can’t be disproven by the failure of the writers of House to abandon their scripts.


  32. Brad. Clearly you don’t appreciate the difference between using and not using the method of multiple working hypotheses and not using it. Not using it means that a hypothesis that seems to fit all the available information available is accepted prematurely when, further consideration may result in another hypothesis (that also fits all the available evidence) being formulated. Either interpretation could be the correct one
    Consider when one interpretation is replaced by another. The earlier interpretation fitted all (or sometimes most) of the data, as does its replacement. Deliberately seeking out a different interpretation, when already in possession of one that is a sufficient explanation of the data would appear to be unnecessary or at least perverse. Yet you blame geologists, chronically so for doing this.
    The last time I was diagnosed by a medical doctor, she (initially and based upon an incomplete examination) completely misdiagnosed my condition. It was only later, after telling me what was wrong with me and what I should do about it, that another observation (almost an afterthought) revealed my real situation, and I was rushed to hospital. So I believe, even doctors, commonly diagnose too early and don’t always act as you Brad think they do.

    Concerning House: Don’t you recognise when someone uses an argument at least in part in jest?


  33. Alan,

    I’m not sure why you think I don’t understand the perils of hypothetical fixity. But I can see why I might appear naive in my insistence that doctors DO understand it. All I meant was that the proper use of differential diagnoses (as opposed to latching onto one interpretation) is drilled into them at med school. I can’t claim—and your experience would certainly seem to disprove—that they actually remember these lessons later in their career. It’s a pity, because this stuff is emphasised in med school for a good reason.

    Your encounters with the medical profession sound frustrating, to put it mildly.

    Not to argue with you at cross purposes, but no, I don’t understand the idea of one hypothesis being “replaced” by another in science. I understand the concept of one hypothesis being replaced by its own null or by its own denial as a result of empirical falsification. But unless I’m mistaken that doesn’t require the intervention of any other hypothesis. It’s pure coincidence that a hypothesis is often abandoned at exactly the same time as another hypothesis comes into favor. The two hypotheses don’t, in reality, interact or compete in any way. (This is from an epistemology-of-science point of view.)

    In rē House:

    if I misread you I plead a medical excuse (irony deficiency). Having never been one for using facetiousness myself, I tend to project my own po-faced earnestness onto others, causing me to miss the “joke” 9 times out of 10.

    I wish people would stop “kidding” and being “sarcastic” all the time. Isn’t a joke a sort of lie? I was raised to be honest, and I’ve striven to honor the principles instilled at my four father’s feet all my adult life.


  34. Alan,

    a ctrl-F for the word “chronic” confirms you’re disagreeing with me needlessly.

    The only thing I “blamed” geologists for doing was prematurely eliminating all possibilities except their favorite. Which is what you accused them of doing, and I’m in no position to dispute that.

    When I described good medical practice….

    “you have to come up with differential diagnoses first, then order/perform the tests necessary to disambiguate between them, THEN tell the patient what’s wrong with them and what to take for it.”

    ….I merely meant that you tell the patient (unambiguously) what’s wrong with them ONLY WHEN (and ONLY IF) you’ve managed to obtain enough information to rule out the other possibilities. If it’s still not clear, then you treat them as if they might have any of a range of different (alternative) problems, e.g. with a broad-spectrum antibiotic, to cover as many different bases as you can.


  35. Brad. Re House. Further research indicates that every diagnosis, no matter how weird, was in fact realistic. More than that, the screenwriters were heavily advised by medical experts, not only about the final diagnoses, but also upon what the symptoms could be misdiagnosed for.


  36. Brad. Actually upon reconsideration House is an excellent example of the method of multiple working hypotheses in action. The usual plot has the team examining the patient to establish symptoms, then they gather around a board and suggest possible diagnoses. These may be immediately eliminated but usually several remain and suggest possible additional investigative tests that could be done to i) eliminate some diagnoses or ii) confirm others. i) of course you would regard as doing good science, whereas ii) you might consider as bad. Both of course are used in science.
    Some of the more interesting episodes involve eliminating a diagnosis too early because of false negatives – something that commonly occurs (or is believed to occur) elsewhere in science. Many has been the case where a favoured hypothesis is maintained despite contrary data because that data is disputed or explained away. Less commonly a correct interpretation is rejected because of false data, although multiple examples occur in climate “science”.


  37. Alan, the dialogue in House, and its episode structure (e.g. the order in which the revelations occur to the characters) are inconceivable, and could not happen in an actual hospital. That’s all. That’s the extent of the show’s flaws, as far as I can tell, having just watched one episode in the last umpteen years.

    The basic grounding in medical reality that I saw in that episode was apparent, and admirable, and as you say the end point (the final diagnosis) was “realistic” (if not statistically so). But the *details* were fictional in a way that would be obvious to any doctor.

    I have zero bone to pick with the overall diagnostic methodology they portray, and I’m not sure where I gave you the impression that I object to either of the broad techniques (i or ii) that are illustrated better in House, probably, than in most medical shows—albeit still in a way that, to a doctor, would stand out immediately as non-documentary.


  38. OK, on re-reading, this comment of mine definitely sounds too strong:

    “BTW the writers of House aren’t constrained by medical realities, so the things I say about medical practice/culture/training can’t be disproven by the failure of the writers of House to abandon their scripts.”

    They *are* of course constrained by medical realities… just not on a sufficiently fine scale to fool a doctor into thinking House is a documentary.

    And that’s what we mean by a “shibboleth.”

    (A subtle—but to a qualified observer, unequivocal—failure of mimesis.)

    Which is where we started this discussion, if you recall.


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