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Discussion > Evidence for Rhoda and Dung

Michael hart

Why the diversion into religion? I thought we were discussing scientific paradigms.

Speaking personally, I would be delighted if the AGW paradigm were to be falsified. Unfortunately I find the scientific case for AGW strong and the sceptic case weak.

Dec 5, 2015 at 11:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

I cannot think of a single example in which an old theory has been discarded without a replacement in place.
Dec 5, 2015 at 7:08 PM Entropic man

Ah, yet another EM Fallacy™. This time the fallacy of "I cannot think of a single example, which proves that none exists".

Well, forgetting about theories that were believed in their time but perhaps never really could qualify as science in today's sense (Vitalism, phlogiston as a substance, psychoanalysis as psychological science and so on).

Just off the top of my head here are a few theories that were known to be wrong *prior* to a correct replacement theory appearing:

■ Classical dynamics for gases was known to be wrong (inconsistent measured specific heat values) in the mid 19th century decades before the current theory appeared.

■ Rayleigh–Jeans black body radiation theory was known to be incorrect (ultraviolet catastrophe) prior to Planck.

■ Classic theory of photoelectron emission was known to be wrong well before Einstein's quantum explanation.

■ Methods for calculating the total mass of the universe today are known to be wrong (give contradictory results for unknown reasons). The correct theory has yet to appear. "dark matter" whatever that might be has been hypothesised.

Dec 5, 2015 at 11:45 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

It's not difficult, EM. The substantial predictions of cAGW are falsified, but many continue to believe, whatever evidence is presented. That falls under religion by many definitions.

Dec 5, 2015 at 11:50 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Unfortunately I find the scientific case for AGW strong and the sceptic case weak.
Whereas I find the opposite.
For most of my life I have been thought of (by others) as being reasonably open-minded and able to see both sides of an argument, frustratingly so on occasion. So why have I come down firmly on the side of scepticism, I wonder?
Without boring everyone with a re-hash of a lot of previous posts, it is mostly to do with trust. I believe what people tell me when I trust that they know what they are talking about.
If they refuse to explain their reasons, I tend to be suspicious. If they yell at me and call me names for not immediately agreeing with them. I don't trust them. If they fiddle their data I don't trust them. If they refuse to countenance any deviation from their "script" I don't trust them because the world, especially the natural world, isn't like that.
If they lie I don't trust them.
And I haven't started on the science yet! Exaggerations, cherry-picking, refusal to research where results might challenge the paradigm, prostitution of scientific method to the whims of politicians and activists.
Why should I believe a word they say?

Dec 6, 2015 at 9:26 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Mike Jackson

My opinions mirror yours. I look at the sceptic propaganda sites and the oil sponsored lobbyists like the Heartland Institute and I see the same behaviour you complain about.I certainly don't trust them.

I don't take the science on trust either. I take every opportunity to make my own calculations. To the extent that I can independently check the science, my own analysis agrees with the AGW paradigm.

Dec 6, 2015 at 10:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Mike Jackson - Why should I believe a word they say?

Yes. I suspect that, for you and me, even if "the science" were not so obviously flaky (homogenised data, original data 'lost in an office move' (© Phil Jones), models "validated" by comparison with other unvalidated models, 'proof by ignorance',..) the behaviour of its proponents would have left us profoundly sceptical.

Even without seeing evidence of unacceptable behaviour, I find that being subjected to a hard sell convinces me completely that the product has a serious problem - at very least that it is grossly overpriced.

But, look at it from the point of view of EM. (Who, it has to be said, is probably one of the most clear thinking CAGW believers that you are likely to come across.)

EM will, I know, find it hard to understand why the behaviour of the stars of climate science make people like you and me say "Why should I believe a word they say?"

EM has said that he finds surprising that, given a clear and convincing but purely technical explanation, someone will remain unconvinced purely for non-technical reasons. In the past, he says that he assumed that a technical explanation would suffice to convince and it was hard for him to come to terms with the fact that it did not.

EM has a fascination with prophesies of catastrophe - he is not really happy unless he is scared to death of something awful that will befall us all. I think he has mentioned, in addition to catastrophic global warming, mass starvation and catastrophic overpopulation as being things for which he fears the worst.

I have pointed out many times, including once or twice in this thread, EM has a tendency for something to enter his mind and if it agrees with his view of things, it becomes for him reality, without further need for evidence. (See previously in this thread for his views on the mental inflexibility of engineers for just one example.)

Although EM will happily believe a thing without evidence, he spends huge amounts of time and effort studying the data and the formulas searching for confirmation of his fears. If he'll believe something without evidence, then *with* something that appears to be evidence, any remaining doubt is removed, and he can enjoy his fears to the hilt.

EM does not find it hard to discover what he sees as evidence. He has a touching faith in simple mathematical formulas - eg the holy logarithm formula of climate science for radiative forcing, that you can compute meaningful confidence limits on climate data ( even though the data points are clearly not independent, not known to be normally distributed, and come from nonstationary time series). From starting points such as these, he reinforces his beliefs and he is perplexed why the things that he finds convincing leave apparently intelligent people such as you and me completely unconvinced.

I assume that his ramblings about the mental inflexibility of engineers is his attempt to rationalise this apparent paradox.

Dec 6, 2015 at 11:13 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Where is your evidence that the Heartland Institute is "an oil sponsored lobbyist"? Where is your evidence that the source of their funding is relevant? Where is your evidence that the oil companies are not major contributors to global warming research?

Like you, I try to check where I can. Indeed I am prepared to bet that I have probably read more of the IPCC's scientific output than most other people. I don't know how much you have read but perhaps you can explain why the IPCC draft papers bear (in many cases) only a nodding acquaintance with the SPMs, or why the final published documents are considerably less certain than the subsequent statements by activists.
Maybe you can explain this paradigm and why its supporters cling to it even as their own members thrash around looking for reasons for the pause (admitting that it is a "travesty" that they can't explain it). Or why they insist on sticking with their computer models when the evidence from observation is that they are crap and getting crappier by the day. Or why the trumpet "warmest evah!" on the back of 0.03° +/- 0.05. And that after one of their number has "adjusted" good readings to align with bad. (Because the good ones don't tell the story the climateers want to tell? Oh, perish the tbought!)
I could reel off another hundred examples of why these guys just cannot be trusted. Now how many can you come up with to prove they can?

Dec 6, 2015 at 11:16 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

I agree with Mike Jackson (Dec 6, 2015 at 9:26 AM – and such a nice man…).

What puzzles me is EM’s agreement with him! Try postulating a few sceptical thoughts on a few Believers’ sites, EM (nick a few ideas from this one, if you have to), then see what sort of response you get. It will give you an idea as to why I rarely post on them, and, when I have, I may not be able to cite them as evidence, as they get “disappeared”.

Dec 6, 2015 at 11:32 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

I've just posted a reply to ATTP on the subject of the Harde paper on the "Is Underlying Warming ...?" thread. It's relevant to what we are discussing here.
Setting aside links to the usual suspects (in this case the Rabbit) the quoted paper (from Pierrehumbert) says:

Water vapor is removed either by condensation or by diffusion into a neighboring drier air parcel. Let us suppose for the moment that diffusivity is so low that the latter mechanism is unimportant.
Note the swift shifting of the pea. Pierrehumbert continues to explain why Harde has overestimated the effect of water vapour on the assumption he has just made.
I'm not saying Pierrehumbert or Eli or Ken are necessarily wrong and Harde is right but Pierrehumbert's nifty footwork does nowt to improve my confidence and the more we come across this behaviour the more we assume that the first and only obligation is to prove [Harde]* wrong rather than to follow the facts wherever they may lead.
And the more we come across the related idea of "why should I bother to explain to a denier?" or variations thereon the more we are likely to believe that they don't explain themselves either because they are so bloody arrogant they think they don't need to demean themselves or because - put simply - they're wrong.

* Replace with any appropriate name in context!

Dec 6, 2015 at 1:38 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

There have been suggestions here that an engineering approach would improve climate science.

How would an engineering approach help answer these five questions?</>

Dec 7, 2015 at 12:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Er, what do you mean by "an engineering approach", EM?

Dec 7, 2015 at 1:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

1: Yes. There is strong evidence that they are a greater controller than CO2.
2: Yes. Not very fast – indeed, the rate may actually be slowing.
3: No. As all life is carbon-based, why should we fear it in one of our prime sources of food?
4: Probably. And releasing it, and absorbing it…
5: Not a lot.

There. Done it. Happy? (Not sure if it is “engineering” enough for you, though…)

Dec 7, 2015 at 1:40 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Come on EM, we are all gagging to answer but, since you clearly have a unique view of what "an engineering approach" is, it's hard to answer with that vital piece of information missing.

So, as I asked, what do you mean by "an engineering approach"?

Dec 7, 2015 at 4:55 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin A

From TheBIgYinJames

"Engineering is simply applied Science. Engineers may not invent as much new theoretical science as pure scientists, but they have to work out all the pesky real-world details which are absent from the pure models in order to get things to actually work. Sometimes this means actually working out new theoretical science. Also, pure scientists sometimes have to delve into Engineering principles in order to construct tests for their theories, because testing is all about eliminating or at least measuring all the external factors which you are truing to eradicate from an experiment in order to see a relationship.

The overlap is huge, and I would go so far as to say that any Scientist in a domain with empirical research is also an Engineer by necessity, and any Engineer who gets thrown a theoretical idea over the fence and has to come up with novel and sometimes speculative approaches to solve the design dilemmas is also a Scientist.

What engineers do actually do, that theoretical scientists sometimes do a minimum of, is they measure. A lot.

Engineering is most often trial and error, because the design constraints are sometimes unknown. They can estimate frictional forces, losses, external influences, hysteresis, efficiencies etc, but a lot of them time they just have to build the thing and then measure them. This means they get very good at looking at noisy signals, and picking out the influences of multiple factors, and going back to the science to see what contributions they should be making at which points, and matching up data and theory. They are looking at signals where they know what they are looking at may not reflect the ideas that were intended. And sometimes the pure, lovely ideas thrown at them by the theorists, simply don't work in reality."

From Ross Lea

Engineering is the application of science. In order to apply it effectively you need a sound understanding. Engineers are scientists with their feet on the ground and not with their head in the clouds."

Let's try the first question.

1. Do clouds intensify climate change?

Imagine that the world has taken research into climate change away from the scientists and given it to the engineers, hoping that they might engineer a solution. How would you approach the problem?

Dec 7, 2015 at 5:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

OK EM. I got tired of waiting so I did my own research to understand what you think about engineers.

Poor understanding of scientific method is something I would expect of an engineer.
Engineering courses teach old science. Orbital mechanics and optics go back to Newton.
Electricity and materials are 19th century science. Electronics is almost a century old.
The equations are written in stone, the doubts and uncertainties long resolved.
What engineers are not good at is new science. You hide from anything not yet settled. You reject anything whose equations are still provisional. You qualil before data uncertain enough to require statistical analysis.
(Copyright EM)

[My irrelevant comment about statistical communications engineering and statistical process modelling in quality engineering deleted]

EM – the profundity of your ignorance and your pride in parading it is inspiring to behold.

Anyway, I looked at the first question. 1. Do clouds intensify climate change?

Some time back, I learned that when asked a technical question by someone whose understanding was – shall we say - limited, it was often best to find out if they were really asking the question they needed to ask.

For example, if asked “How can we get a datacomms link between A and B with enough bandwidth to do X and Y?”, after asking a few questions about the problem, I'd probably come back and say something like: “Do you think it really makes sense to be splitting a key business process between two different teams, in different locations, reporting to different managers and working to different priorities? I don't think your problem is really a technical one at all.”

It is clear what the questioner here has in mind: Is warming due to increased atmospheric CO2 increased* by the presence of clouds? It is obviously a question asked by somebody who has uncritically bought into the idea that the notion of “feedbacks” makes sense and can be used to analyse climate effects.

Clouds are an intrinsic part of climate. Clouds are there as the result of other aspects of climate and other aspects of climate are affected by the clouds, where they are and what they are up to. I think that the question as asked is probably not a well-posed question and the fact that it still bewilders climate science perhaps confirms that.

I think a bit of linear dynamic system theory modelling (where all variables, in general, depend on all other variables) would probably give, at very least, some useful insights, and perhaps even some results that could be compared with real observations. You could probably use Kalman filtering methods to derive parameters for the model from multichannel observed data.

I'd have a go at it myself in the next hour or so, except that I have some hydraulic brake cylinders that I really want to get connected up this evening.

* Note the unscientific way that the result is assumed even in the question. As a scientific question it would have been better neutrally posed as "Do clouds intensify or reduce climate change?". Just one little illustration of the bias built into 'climate science' as it searches for confirmation of the CAGW hypothesis.

Dec 7, 2015 at 8:11 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin A

Feel free to phrase the question as you think best.

I don't ask rhetorical questions.

I was hoping for some insight into how you would approach the problem, particularly how you would do it differently from those already studying the problem.

"I think a bit of linear dynamic system theory modelling (where all variables, in general, depend on all other variables) would probably give, at very least, some useful insights, and perhaps even some results that could be compared with real observations. You could probably use Kalman filtering methods to derive parameters for the model from multichannel observed data."

A model needs data. Where are you going to get the data?

Dec 7, 2015 at 10:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

"I was hoping for some insight into how you would approach the problem, particularly how you would do it differently from those already studying the problem."

I thought that was what I just did.

Dec 7, 2015 at 11:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

Martin A

"I thought that was what I just did."

Not quite.

There is a subtext at BH that climate scientists are incompetent and engineers would do the job much better. Collecting data and using it to build a physical model is what the researchers are already doing.

What I am trying to tease out is how your approach and the climate scientists' approach would differ. For example, how you approach the need to work with sample data rather than complete data.

Dec 7, 2015 at 11:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

if you were not an idiot, the question could have been posed clouds have a bearing on climate......or weather? Do we have ways of working this out? The Dessler results were risible.....

Dec 8, 2015 at 1:03 AM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Let's try the first question.

1. Do clouds intensify climate change?

Imagine that the world has taken research into climate change away from the scientists and given it to the engineers, hoping that they might engineer a solution. How would you approach the problem?

Dec 7, 2015 at 5:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Entropic man, if you think about it for about 60 seconds, the question is so vague as to be meaningless. No need to call in a proper Scientist or Engineer until you have a proper question that needs answering.

Dec 8, 2015 at 2:48 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

EM, speaking of oil funded, why don't you list some of the oil funded sites that earned your mistrust?

Dec 8, 2015 at 3:48 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

EM, having just read your review of how blood transfusions are not perfect, I want to thank you for making clear the surprising limits on your reasoning ability.
I appreciate someone with such limitations being upfront about them so others do not accidentally over challenge or in cruel form make fun or belittle the limited person.
Enjoy your playdate.

Dec 8, 2015 at 3:52 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

EM, you have misunderstood the 'subtext' if there was one.

The discussion about engineering was not if it was a superior method of discovering climate mechanisms, only that it is not inferior. Your posts about engineering and its subordinate place to science prompted this. Engineering is just science with a practical bent.

You have now mis-stated this so that the poor engineers will scrabble about trying to prove to you the superiority of the 'engineering method' (which doesn't exist, since it's just the scientific method)

What a waste of time.

Dec 8, 2015 at 9:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

EM - I was not sure if you actually *read* what I said (as opposed to copy-pasting it). If you did read it, then, from what you say, I think that you may not have fully taken in what I said - perhaps I was too succinct and made assumptions about shared terminology. Here is a bit more about what I was on about.

I don't know you are familiar with the state-space formulation for representing continuous time lumped parameter linear dynamic systems. In brief, such system can be represented by a 1st order vector differential equation:

dx(t)/dt = A x(t) + B u(t) + v(t)

y(t) = C x(t)

where x(t) is an N-element state vector, A is an N × N transition matrix, u(t) is a vector of input variables,
y(t) is a vector of observed variables, v(t) is a noise vector.

To construct a model of a system consists essentially of constructing the matrices A, B and C. There are huge advantages in having a system model in such a form as all sorts of things (optimal control, estimation, prediction, model dimensionality reduction,...) can be computed simply as matrix manipulations.

Obviously, anything to do with climate is not actually linear, lumped parameter, but then nor is anything else in the real world.

If you know the internal details of the system you can construct the matrices by directly analysing it to get its differential equations and transforming them into state-space form. But if you don't understand the internal functioning of the system (as seems to be the case with clouds and climate), you can use statistical methods for estimating the matrices from whatever observed variables are available to you. There is a *huge* literature on doing this. Essentially you are treating the system as a black box whose internal mechanisms are unknown and have to be deduced from whatever is observable.

To me it seems as if it could be a promising approach for modelling the function of clouds in the climate system where the actual mechanisms are obviously not understood. I have never ever come across anything in climate science that uses state-space modelling - a bit of a mystery as, for fifty years or so, it has become the standard formulation for modelling dynamic systems. So there you are - a possible approach to modelling and understanding the interaction of clouds with the climate system based on what is today standard control engineering theory but which seems to have bypassed climate science.

But as BYIJ just pointed out, engineering is just science - it is not something inferior (as you seem to think) nor, (as you pretend we have claimed), is it something superior.

Except that, it has to be said, many 'climate scientists' do come across as not being all that bright, but that is a separate question altogether.

Dec 8, 2015 at 9:51 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Except that, it has to be said, many 'climate scientists' do come across as not being all that bright.

One place I do feel engineering is superior is that they personally suffer the consequences of their failure, so are more careful with their calculations. When was the last time a climate scientist was sacked or sued for mistaken calculations? They just move on to the their next fustercluck.

Dec 8, 2015 at 9:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames