Science Eats Her Young – Consensus vs Correctness, the Scientific vs the Political and the happy news of the unkown unknown


Karl Popper, the godfather of falsifiability [Φ phi studios 2014]

Karl Popper, the godfather of falsifiability                                                           [© phi studios 2014]

There is a new guest article up at Judy Curry’s blog, Climate Etc. by Will Howard titled Appeals to the Climate Consensus Can Give the Wrong Impression that is of particular interest to Meme Merchants because it is both relevant in scientific current affairs and is also relevant generally in the discussion of scientific epistemology in regards to how people generally are supposed to know what the state of the science is at any given moment.

The article was originally posted at The Conversation.  Will Howard is a Research Scientist at University of Melbourne  School of Earth Sciences and is also the Deputy Chair of the Australian National Committee for Antarctic Research.

On the current events front of science, there is a bitter and on-going debate about the supposed scientific consensus regarding anthropogenic global warming due the volume of CO2 emitted by human activity.  The debate rages far and wide about this supposed consensus: what is this consensus actually? how many scientists hold this ‘consensus view’? which scientists [or who’s] really count in the matter?  who should do the counting? who owns the ‘consensus’, and what does all of this mean for the rest of us anyway?

No Meme Merchant is going to settle the debate about the specifics of the consensus about the catastrophic global warming debate – there are lots of places trying to do that – but we would like to take up a very confined look at the “what does all of this mean anyway?” specifically in regards to Mr. Howard’s article – before I launch into a rave about what’s so great about science as a way of knowing.

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The Conspiracy of the Like Minded-truth in data as big lie


The latest hack  [©METoffice 2014]  The official caption: Figure 3: Observed (black, from Hadley Centre, GISS and NCDC) and predicted (blue) global average annual surface temperature difference relative to 1981-2010. Previous predictions starting from November 1960, 1965,... 2005 are shown in red, and 22 Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) model simulations that have not been initialised with observations are shown in green. In all cases, the shading represents the probable range, such that the observations are expected to lie within the shading 90% of the time. The most recent forecast (blue) starts from November 2013. All data are rolling annual mean values. The gap between the black curves and blue shading arises because the last observed value represents the period November 2012 to October 2013 whereas the first forecast period is November 2013 to October 2014.

Fig 1 – The latest hack from the Hadley Centre                                                        [©METoffice 2014]    The official caption:  “Figure 3: Observed (black, from Hadley Centre, GISS and NCDC) and predicted (blue) global average annual surface temperature difference relative to 1981-2010. Previous predictions starting from November 1960, 1965,… 2005 are shown in red, and 22 Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) model simulations that have not been initialised with observations are shown in green. In all cases, the shading represents the probable range, such that the observations are expected to lie within the shading 90% of the time. The most recent forecast (blue) starts from November 2013. All data are rolling annual mean values. The gap between the black curves and blue shading arises because the last observed value represents the period November 2012 to October 2013 whereas the first forecast period is November 2013 to October 2014.”

Update – I’ve added a new figure Fig. 4a below, a version of the AR5 SOD Fig. 1.4 with the “grey swoosh” redacted.

Today, after giving my opinion on the subject of Syria, my sister told me I was being, “Negative, pessimistic, and paranoid” – all possibly true – but being a scientist I am driven to that position by the apprehension of the evidence.

Later in the day I came across the above graphic from the UK MetOffice’s 2014 Decadal Forecast over at Tallbloke’s Talkshop in an article entitled MET- Office: New four year ‘decadal’ forecast spaghetti.  This is what fellow WordPressian Tallbloke had to say:

Ed Hawkins tweeted up  the latest offering from the MET-Office this morning. It’s a “Decadal forecast”, which runs from now to the beginning (not the end, Ed) of 2018. Stop tittering at the back there! But compounding matters, the ‘forecast’ is a spaghetti of similarly coloured lines. I said STOP LAUGHING!

I thought the MET-Office was getting out of doing these longer range forecasts they’ve had so much trouble with them the last many years, not that I pay any attention to them since it seems that Met Office Global Forecasts Too Warm In 13 Of Last 14 Years.  And, if that’s not enough just scratch the surface of this iceberg.

Actually, that wasn’t the very first thing I noticed, what I noticed immediately was the curious way that the graph was constructed, namely that visually the tag end of the graph from 2010 on functions as graph within a graph. Its actually a little like a fractal – self-similarity at different scales  Maybe you noticed that too.

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A Froward Child Redux – some personal vindication, I may not be a complete dupe, and the inexorable advace of the Citizen Scientist


A froward child                                                                                      [Ghost of a Flea-Wm. Blake-1820]

Some exciting news for me in the last few days, and some possible intellectual vindication.  I may not be a [complete] dupe of the fossil fuel industry after all! – and – some of my long standing intuitions about the true state of science are presently being fulfilled.

Last March I was presented a copy of Naomi Oreskes and Eric M. Conway’s recent book, Merchants of Doubt: how a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to global warming, by a family member due to concern over my lack of appropriate conviction in the predictions of immanent environmental disaster and grave peril to the Earth, its ecosystem and human inhabitants due to [apparent] increases in global average surface temperature resulting from anthropogenic carbon-dioxide being released into the atmosphere due to mankind’s the burning of fossil fuels.  [notice how carefully I define my ignorance]  I took this ‘gift’ as a kind of intellectual slap in the face – thanks.

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When the Uncertainty Monster Rears its Wicked Head Should We Tell the Truth?-A Comment on Curry


The Incredulity of St Thomas - Caravagio c.1601 - Truth is vouchsafed to the doubter

I have a comment in over at Judith Curry’s blog Climate Etc. on her recent post, Should We Tell the Whole Truth About Climate Change?  – Good long title there, I approve.  There are already almost 400 comments, so I am promoting my comment to a slightly expanded post here to cut through the torrent of bits over there.

Judy writes:

In principle, yes of course.  In practice, many journalists, scientists and government officials are not so certain as to how to balance telling the whole truth and being truthful in an “effective” way.

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Point to Pointman-Commentary on The Climate Wars


The Pugilists - Richard Blome c.1710

Pointman has another interesting post up at his blog today The Climate Wars which is starting to draw attention from some of the heavy hitters of the shorter wavelength end of the global warming/climate change frequency spectrum.  Steve Mosher has weighed in comments, and Anthony Watts has elevated Pointman to Quote of the Week!

In all seriousness, well done Pointman, you’ve worked very hard at this.

The thrust of Pointman’s post seemed to me to be about the how the current scandal surrounding Peter Gleick [fakegate, heartlandgate, gleickgate –  what have you] has turned into a state resembling guerrilla or asymmetric warfare between the so called skeptics and the alarmists, where the alarmists find themselves fighting a swarm of gnats where they imagine themselves to be fighting a cyclops.

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