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Discussion > The chocolate teapot

@TheBigYinJames
"Steve Carson at SoD says (and I agree) in order to educate people against false theories, there is no point going over all the false theories to pick apart where they go wrong, it is more instructive to go over and over the correct one, and get that into people's minds."

The alarmists seem to have adopted this strategy some time ago. You can read about it in John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky's Debunking_Handbook.
http://www.skepticalscience.com/docs/Debunking_Handbook.pdf

The problem is that man never believed he could predict the vagaries of the climate to this degree (or saw much need to) until recently. The alarmists are the ones claiming to understand the climate with unwarranted certainty. It is not incumbent on anyone else to provide compelling counter theories (e.g. Svensmark). The burden of proof should be on them. But you cannot falsify an unfalsifiable theory (droughts/floods; heatwaves/snowstorms -it's all global warming). An unfalsifiable theory is not science. Sorry, preaching to the converted.

Jan 11, 2013 at 10:14 PM | Registered CommenterDavid Ross

TBYJ: It's not policing, it's pointing out that slayers often claim a great deal for their 'findings' and there are big consequences of taking that seriously. That's not what Rhoda does in his thread, by the way, but take the original book and indeed mydog/AlecM ... that's much clearer. The kind of claim made and its effect, when we all (ostensibly) want the same in terms of policy, is what this is about. None of us have any means to 'police' anything - no cells, no arrest warrants, nothing. But clear thinking helps.

David Ross:

It is not incumbent on anyone else to provide compelling counter theories (e.g. Svensmark). The burden of proof should be on them.

Very true, and I'm sure misunderstanding this is a big reason for the Slayer phenomenon. There's no need for it. The evidence of four billions years of stability testifies against high sensitivity, as does all the latest real-world data. We don't need to shoot down the GHE and if we try we end up shooting ourselves in the foot.

Jan 11, 2013 at 10:21 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Perhaps policing was too strong a word. There's a temptation that the left bien pensant have succumbed to, in that as enlightened ones they seek to guide and interpret the wills and ambitions of their political persuasion. Where the common man can be stupid, xenophobic and small-minded, the elite compensate by being ultra PC. My instinct is against elitism.

Jan 11, 2013 at 11:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

A Humble pie for Chris Huhne?
Air brakes on a lawn mower?
An elf an safety ban on chocolate teapots????

Jan 11, 2013 at 11:54 PM | Registered CommenterDung

TBYJ: Agreed. I think the recent threads spawned from Rhoda's have been fantastic. We must be able to consider any possibility. That's completely different from every thread, on any subject, being invaded by unlikely claims on something that, despite its billing, is far from crucial to our shared policy aims or our desire for truth.

Jan 12, 2013 at 12:06 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Richard, you can clothe your anti-Alec crusade in whatever way you wish. The latest being that paying attention to the slayers kills poor people. Not biting.

I would again suggest the same thing. Go back to the earliest popular descriptions of the so-called greenhouse effect. try to draw boundaries around ' the effect'. The greenhouse effect as far the CO2 global warming theory is concerned, is not a problem of physics. It is a systems problem.

Jan 12, 2013 at 5:14 AM | Registered Commentershub

It's much wider than the person(s) you signally fail to point to with a single name Shub. Martin A paid attention much more than most and there's no way I'm saying that this has had anything but good effects. I think if people read what I've written they'll get the message. If they read what you've written I've written they won't.

I'd like to go back to Arrhenius and the logarithmic relationship so we'll meet on that or somewhere else.

Jan 12, 2013 at 8:40 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Personally, I don't think it matters about slayers, mainstream science ignores them. It gives the Manns of this world something to point at to convince the waverers that they don't want to be on the side with the loonies, but that effect is lessening over time. Anyway, we don't need waverers, the whole 'trying to convince the unthinking masses' is a game we are still losing, and we shouldn't even be playing.

Scientific thinking will converge on a lukewarmer position, but it won't be because of slayers, and it won't get there any quicker if we didn't have them. It will be because the data doesn't lie - the Met office didn't downgrade their warming projections because of slayers. They did it because their previous position is now untenable in light of new data. We can argue the timing and style til we're blue in the face, but what will bring down alarmism is when the dangers consistently don't show up. In a way, the alarmists are the architects of their own doom, with various 50 days to save the world nonsense.

Slayers will be slayers and do we really need threads about them?

Jan 12, 2013 at 10:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Hey, I thought you liked my thread :) Thanks for your excellent contributions in any case.

The eponymous chocolate teapot depicts putting shit-or-bust weight on the arguments of the slayers. That I say has negative consequences. But wise birds in the UK debate like Andrew Montford, Doug Keenan, Nic Lewis, Matt Ridley, Jonathan Jones, Nigel Lawson, Benny Peiser and David Whitehouse have not made this mistake, so when something like the recent Met downgrading happens they have full credibility and we all greatly benefit as a result.

As I've made clear, Bishop Hill should have debate of all options and the recent discussion, since it was accepted by all parties that slayers were off topic for the Ridley-Romm-WSJ thread, has been remarkable. I don't think I've been in the least heavy handed, however, in pointing out why interruptions of this topic on main threads, explicitly on this basis

There are people ... who see many discussions as pointless when the GHE itself is not proven, the GHE underpins every other discussion one way or another

is a very bad idea. If people hadn't argued this point, together with demanding that the first person who disagreed should be banned from the blog, this thread would not have existed. On the other hand, if this argument had been accepted, even threads on the latest Met Office rowback would no doubt have been interrupted continually with the slayer debate. That would have benefited nobody, least of all the increasingly interested outsider. Much better safe than sorry.

Jan 12, 2013 at 12:56 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

"- the Met office didn't downgrade their warming projections because of slayers. They did it because their previous position is now untenable in light of new data."

Yes, but they have adopted a new position that doesn't even make sense. That 'extreme weather' is the result of warming, when actual warming hasn't happened. There is no mechanism for the weather to do something strange because it has somehow, somewhere, absorbed a lot of heat which could have gone to raise temps, but hasn't. Don't tell me it's hiding in the deep ocean until it's safe to come out. The met office chief scientist told us that the extreme weather (a term which apparently can mean anything) is the result of warming. That same warming that didn't involve getting warm.

Just a rant. Carry on with the thread now.

Jan 12, 2013 at 1:10 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

Like the climate itself, this blog has feedback mechanisms. They may be slow to act, but they do act, and decisively. For a while, MDGNN was all over every thread with his "why bother since it's all wrong" brand of argument, but it was dealt with. And others will be too, if they are disruptive to general discussion.

Jan 12, 2013 at 1:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Rhoda: totally agreed. The argument isn't remotely over. It should be - indeed it should have been, in my view, when Richard Lindzen gave the world a balanced account of the matter in September 1989 (h/t Robin Guenier). We all know that it isn't a simple matter of applying the scientific method by now. But, precisely because the battle is so long and drawn out, we must retain discipline. Of course we all have different perspectives, as I argued strongly the other day on your own thread. But there remains something that deeply unites us. Defining what exactly it is - that may be a bit harder. :)

Jan 12, 2013 at 1:45 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

An inflatable dartboard.

Jan 12, 2013 at 1:56 PM | Unregistered Commentersimon abingdon

You hit the bullseye there, Simon. But only once :)

Jan 12, 2013 at 1:59 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

A money back guarantee on a cyanide capsule?

Jan 12, 2013 at 2:11 PM | Registered CommenterDung

The consequences of the policies that will result from our loss of credibility [by indulging the slayers] will include massive scalding of the poorest.

These were your words, Richard.

TBY

Scientific thinking will converge on a lukewarmer position, but it won't be because of slayers, and it won't get there any quicker if we didn't have them. It will be because the data doesn't lie - the Met office didn't downgrade their warming projections because of slayers.

Forget about the slayers for a moment. In the canonical IPCC pathway where the efffects of different forcings are modelled and/or parameterized (not very many steps removed from your model in the simulation of temperature thread), there is no variation in the curve apart from what it is forced to do. There is no room in the theory and its realizations (the models) for the type of revisions the Met Office is now making. In other words, there are forces in the natural system that are at least equal and opposite to magnitude of the global temperature change attributable to CO2 in the earlier models. Now, if I showed you a graph of temperatures from 1998 to 2020 (assuming the same trend continues) and asked you about the greenhouse effect, would you attribute the change, whatever little of it there is, to CO2? It has only become clear that the greenhouse signal if any is perhaps best visible, if at all, at the centennial scale. The annual signal, the decadal and and now even the multidecadal signal it seems, is too much contaminated with 'noise'.

Given what we now we know about the hockey stick, can you be confident that the multidecadal signal won't be contaminated by noise as well? What we have here therefore is a failure to translate our understanding of greenhouse gas physics to a climatic effect in the earth system. Why call names on others' understanding of the greenhouse gas physics on the climate then?

Jan 12, 2013 at 2:15 PM | Registered Commentershub

shub:

These were your words, Richard.

Except for the ones you added in square brackets. The substitution of the slayers chocolate teapot for the low-sensitivity GHE one speaks not just of indulging the slayers but of accepting that this is a make-or-break issue. Profound loss of credibility flows from that, meaning that the scones (our shared desire for the ending of highly wasteful and unjust carbon reduction policies) are also ruined. If so the poorest will suffer far more than they have from the banning and sidelining of DDT - and that's saying something. Biofuel subsidies have already had a disastrous effect and have by no means been discontinued, even though Friends of the Earth and others have rightly turned their back on the idea and, less creditably, on any responsibility for it.

It's a complex chain of reasoning and events but to cause such loss of credibility to such an important humanitarian cause, based on highly improbable hypotheses, in some cases 'goobledegook to the power of tosh', is not a minor problem in my book. By all means rephrase it according to your own lights but as you do bear in mind the whole of the 'big picture,' as I've tried to. I'm sticking, so far, with what I originally wrote.

Jan 12, 2013 at 2:57 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

I am not aware of His Grace having decided that discussion of anti GHE scientific propositions is in any way at odds with his aims with the "Bishop Hill Project".
The Bish has generously provided discussion space for people to discuss their ideas. Until His Holyness states that any particular discussion is not to his liking, it should not be case that anyone other than The Boss attempts to take that role upon himself/herself.

Jan 12, 2013 at 3:11 PM | Registered CommenterDung

If a 'slayer' posts a comment, it doesn't mean that those who read it have accepted that what he or she says about the greenhouse effect is a make-or-break issue. That is how they position it, not the rest.

Remember, those who pick fault with the orthodox IPCC greenhouse position are claiming there may be, or presently are make-or-break issues with the consensus description. It is just that they don't position these to be in the most proximal portion of the whole causal chain as the slayers do. If you want to slam them as 'deniers', it is good to know that you are on the same slope they are on, only a bit higher.

Jan 12, 2013 at 3:28 PM | Registered Commentershub

I've been asked by the host not to reply to a certain nym but I'm sure nobody will mind me agreeing with the post of 3:11 PM. The problem addressed in this thread is those that make the GHE issue a make-or-break one, for example, those who in the past declared "many discussions as pointless when the GHE itself is not proven, [as] the GHE underpins every other discussion one way or another."

There's no suggestion of this argument being repeated in the post of 3:11 PM and I take it from this we are now in agreement. Once this is understood, I'm sure it will also be seen that my thrust here does not in any way conflict with the host's.

Jan 12, 2013 at 3:41 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

You know, when I think about it, the crux of my position is that the other side present as certainty that which is uncertain. We know they do that for tactical reasons, we have the IPPR 'warm words' document as proof. No serious scientific argument is taking place, just spin. My interest in the detail of the science, in 'proving' GHE, is to make sure I understand the arguments enough to avoid making a fool of myself. I don't expect to convince anybody. Or indeed be convinced myself of anything I intuitively reject.

Jan 12, 2013 at 3:44 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

Shub:

If a 'slayer' posts a comment, it doesn't mean that those who read it have accepted that what he or she says about the greenhouse effect is a make-or-break issue. That is how they position it, not the rest.

Absolutely. That's helpful. The next paragraph is more tricky and I'd like to think more before responding. Others brighter than me should of course feel free :)

Jan 12, 2013 at 3:47 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

shub's point is one I accept. As a lukewarmer, I doubt some things without absolute proof, on intuition, which places me outside the scientific mainstream. slayers doubt some other things as well, which places them farther outside than I am, but we're all outcasts in one sense or other because we believe in things we cannot prove.

Jan 12, 2013 at 3:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

TBYJ:

As a lukewarmer, I doubt some things without absolute proof, on intuition, which places me outside the scientific mainstream.

The scientific mainstream also believes many things "without absolute proof" - on shared intuition, often also called consensus. It's just less honest about it than you are. So it's your honesty that places you outside the mainstream, not this :)

Jan 12, 2013 at 4:09 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake