The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic. So if what I say now seems to you to be very reasonable, then I have failed completely. Only if what I tell you appears absolutely unbelievable, have we any chance of visualizing the future as it really will happen.

- Arthur C. Clarke (h/t Brin)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Reflections on Feynman per J. Case

My next serious read (what's yours?) is Competition, a (mostly nontechnical) plea by prominent mathematician James Case for a post-equilibrium economics. A browse in the bookstore reveals that he has little respect for the equilibrium models favored by quantitative economists. I think he is starting from results in game theory. More on this anon; I haven't read it yet.

For the present, I just wanted to discuss something from his epilogue. An important message for "believers" (as I (not to mention James!) am described elsewhere) and "skeptics" alike:
Seldom has anyone explained what science is - and is not - as simply and well as Richard Feynman in his 1974 commencement address to the students at Caltech. Science, he said on that occasion, is nothing more than a method developed over the years for separating ideas that work from ideas that don't. Anyone who observes the same natural phenomena day after day, such as the ebb and flow of the tides or the barking of dogs in a village street, will begin to develop ideas about them. Try it and see. There's nothing scientific about having ideas. Everyone does that. Science, said Feynman, begins when somebody figures out a way to test an idea to see if it works or not.

...

Feynman devoted a substantial portion of his 1974 commencement address to the subject of scientific integrity. Scientists, he said, have a responsibility to other scientists - and perhaps to the public as well - not to fool themselves. "after you've not fooled yourself" he assured his listeners, "it's easy not to fool other scientists." But not fooling yourself is far from easy because, liking your own ideas, "you are the easiest one to fool". Scientists have been learning for generations - indeed are still learning - ways of avoiding self-deception. One such way, he hastened to add is to divulge every reason you can think of why your conclusions are only tentative and may yet be proven wrong.

...

The perpetrators of pathological science are guilty not of fraud but of self-deception. Enamored of their own ideas, and fully expecting their experiments to confirm their theories, they find confirmation where none exists and - entirely too often - rush into print with results that are easily disproved.
Such behavior is irresponsible, because it creates unnecessary work for others. Yet those who engage in it are seldom accused of dishonesty.

...

There is a scene in Bertolt Brecht's play Galileo in which the master and his assistants are preparing to test the Copernican notion that the earth revolves around the sun. Galileo explains to the others that as a matter of discipline, their purpose must be to prove the earth stationary. Only if the ascertainable facts render that position untenable will they allow themselves to find in Copernicus' favor. In fact, says Galileo, "if we find anything which would suit us, that thing will we eye with particular distrust."
(Emphasis added; resemblance to any real "AGW skeptic" living or dead except those who happen to be economists is coincidental; Case is talking about the failure of mainstream economics to attend to this ideal.)

Let me add my own taxonomy here, back to the AGW issue and related themes. There are "skeptics" and "believers" and there are also investigators and pseudo-investigators.

Investigators cultivate certain habits of mind that enable the advancement of science, while pseudo-investigators cultivate those habits of mind which advance a particular agenda even as they attempt to make use of the justified credibility of the real investigators.

Unfortunately, and increasingly, the habits of mind of the investigator are somewhat unfamiliar to a public that when it rises above distraction and confusion retains a very utilitarian frame of mind. The network of trust among serious investigators no longer extends to the general public, which is prone to various distractions, some well-intended and some amazingly malign.

To be sure every auto mechanic and every plumber, every engineer and every MD, not to mention many other professionals of modest or exalted reputation, is an investigator in a very real sense. And one thing that infuriates me as well as some serious skeptics is the arrogant refusal of science to learn from more utilitarian professions some of the commercially successful techniques for refining a solution to a particular problem.

However, it doesn't follow that the expert in some domain understands and has thought about the methods by which the expertise was brought into the world. And here we see a certain hubris appearing again and again: "I don't understand it so it must be mumbo-jumbo". Not to say that every scientist really thinks about epistemology or needs to. But what scientists are looking for is deeper than a diagnosis or a repair strategy, and is based on a more diffuse platform. Furthermore, some things are hard to understand, because not many people understand them, and they may not be experts in explaining it, and there may not be enough demand for the knowledge to support people expending too much effort on the explanation, and it may take years of study to see the picture emerge.

The failure to provide a "complete explanation" is interpreted as caginess, but with twenty dedicated skeptics for each even marginally first rank climate scientist who has many other responsibilities, there simply isn't enough response to go around. Gatekeeping is the inevitable result. (Sometimes excessive gatekeeping happens for this and other reasons, but under the present constellations of forces and social groups some gatekeeping is inevitable.)

I've been exposed to a couple of great climatologists.

(Update: Specifically Ray Pierrehumbert and Francis Bretherton, who bear no responsibility for my beliefs, but whom I have been privileged to interact with at length, and who jointly hold primary responsibility for my deep respect for climatology as a respectable branch of physical science. And I cannot imagine myself or anyone else explaining much of what they say in a typical single hour's peer group conversation to an above-average electrical engineer (say, a graduate of Northwestern University's tech institute from the 1970s like myself) in less than three months of one-on-one full time exposition. )

There is more there than curve fitting or squashing facts into a preordained pattern. You can tell a person who has a healthy skepticism about his or her own ideas once you listen to them expound for a few dozen hours. That doesn't mean you can explain it.

On the other hand an AGW "skeptic" can be relied upon to celebrate certain results and mock others not depending on the quality of their evidence or their reasoning, but on whether or not the evidence is convenient for their beliefs. This is, in other words, pseudo-investigation, or in John McCarthy's formulation "lawyers' science".

On the other other hand, it is rare for a theoretical science of modest means and accomplishments (such as climate science) to abruptly become not only an applied science but a subject of controversy. And therein lies the reason we are still arguing over the parts of the picture that are not in great doubt among the community of actual investigators.

I don't think there is any poll, per Bi's recent suggestion, that can capture this. The only thing I can imagine improving matters is a re-established network of trust, a thing which has been deliberately undermined by the obvious malign social forces which seem to exult in promoting fear, division, hostility and suspicion whether it is warranted or not.

45 comments:

Dano said...

Frank is merely looking for a device to show the public the light of day.

His poll won't convince the scientific community, because the vast majority of the community already knows this.

Will such a poll shed light for the public on this issue described here? Is it worth trying, or will it be more attenuation in the S:N?

Again, sigh.

Best,

D

CoRev said...

I'm flattered to have been discovered as referencing your site (along with the many others.)

I try to provide a reference service, and in so doing be secular, but it is always difficult as we all start these things with some preconceived opinions.

If anyone has any suggestions for improving the site, I would be more than pleased to listen to them

CoRev, editor
http://globalwarmingclearinghouse.blogspot.com

thingsbreak said...

Nice post.

a thing which has been deliberately undermined by the obvious malign social forces which seem to exult in promoting fear, division, hostility and suspicion whether it is warranted or not.

I'd add to that the various "concern trolls" who may believe that they are actually helping by stoking controversy but are basically doing it for attention (e.g. Jr and Sr), as well as those who traffic in something a bit more insidious than fear, hostility, etc.: derision.

Derision is what CA, Watts, and in traditional media Horner (of Planet Gore and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming), Limbaugh, et al. use to dishearteningly successful effect. Derision is how in various corners of the internet and public commentary James Hansen is considered a fraud and laughable buffoon rather than one of the most respected scientists in the field heading of one of the most respected organizations involved in climatic studies.

There is no need to argue against something that one can dismiss, unthinkingly, with laughter.

Michael Tobis said...

CoRev, while it is understandable that I am cast as a "believer", having considerable respect for Mr Gore and unmitigated respect for Dr Hansen, I can't say I like it. I think what I am doing is "thinking", not "believing".

That said, I suppose your taxonomy is useful just to illustrate how badly us sensible folk are outblogged by those whom you call "skeptics".

pmiddents said...

Michael,

Could you expand on this statement?

"And one thing that infuriates me as well as some serious skeptics is the arrogant refusal of science to learn from more utilitarian professions some of the commercially successful techniques for refining a solution to a particular problem."

For corev,

I find the selection of graphs (Spencer's UAH) an interesting indication of your sense of balance.

Paul

Michael Tobis said...

Paul, see my Dec 27 '07 article for a start.

http://initforthegold.blogspot.com/2007/12/why-is-climate-modeling-stuck.html

CoRev said...

Paul, I thought the Spencer graph was illustrative of the time frame. If you have another I would be happy to a take a look at it.

Mike, do you have another group name you would prefer? I am not trying to be pejorative, so if there is a preferred category NAME/Title let me know!

Michael Tobis said...

CoRev tries to provide a service, but isn't up to speed on who is for real, accordingly treating Spencer as still a neutral source. I don't think this indiocates dishonesty.

It is a big world. All of us taking it on for real can feel both the delight of taking on a fascinating problem and the fear of steering the whole ship onto the rocks; all that differs among us is which rocks we fear most. So I don't hold CoRev at fault both for taking Spencer at face value and for that matter for focusing on the wrong time scale, I just wonder how useful of a filter he/shey/they/it is/are given that sort of mistake.

CoRev, I really dislike the way you parse the groups into "believer", "skeptic", and "neutral" because it accepts the "skeptic" model that there are two distinct camps with neutrality somewhere in between. Once you put the consensus on one extreme and the anti-consensus on the other, you skew the perceived middle, and grant the skeptics that which they want.

(Another thing is that you categorize people and sites rather than individual essays. This also trivializes serious thought and makes a sport of things that are not really zero-sum games at all.)

If you must categorize would prefer that you categorized my articles one at a time, perhaps into "high risk". "consensus" and "low risk" and "neutral". This puts the consensus where it belongs, in the middle.

As long as you portray climate change as a team sport, with two teams and some umpires in the middle, you are getting it wrong. There is a consensus; that doesn't mean unanimity, it means the conservative midpoint of opinion. Any taxonomy that puts the IPCC at one extreme does a severe disservice, no matter how well-intended the effort.

pmiddents said...

Thank you, Michael. I had forgotten about that very interesting blog and the even more interesting comments. The subject came up briefly in the comments on the most recent RealClimate thread.

Corev,

I would suggest this plot which shows all four major data sets as much more representative of the period:

http://tamino.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/watts1.jpg

Paul

bernie said...

It would be interesting to hear Feynman on the subject of AGW. We lost a great thinker when he passed on.

CoRev said...

Paul, do you have the link to the article? Tamino's site is not conducive to searching, and I couldn't find the originating article to reference along with the graph. Have a suggestion for the other two graphs in the set?

Mike, your proposal is interesting, but I am only one person and it would take way too much time and energy to get through just a handful of the articles daily and categorize them in the manner you suggest. Moreover, it would take a super renaissance person with the skill set needed.

CoRev said...

Never mind Paul. I found it. Thanks.

Michael Tobis said...

In short, I believe that any representation that would put the IPCC report itself at one end of a continuum rather than the middle where it belongs is misleading and deeply unsatisfactory.

CoRev said...

Mike, are you saying my blog does that? How? It is in a separate section.

CoRev, editor
http://globalwarmingclearinghouse.blogspot.com

Michael Tobis said...

I answer to "Michael", "mt" (pronounced "em-tee", or if you are at the extremes of buttering me up or being nasty, "Dr Tobis".

I do not answer to "Mike" or "Mr Tobis", and while the latter is understandable I really don't know how people get the idea that they ought to call me "Mike".

Humor me.

Yes, I am saying that "believers" and "skeptics" is intrinsically misleading. Perhaps "alarmists", "believers" and "skeptics" would be better, though "alarmist" is usually taken as a pejorative.

The IPCC is a consensus document. It represents a careful and serious effort to identify the exact center.

That doesn't make IPCC correct but it does make you incorrect to the extent that you portray it as a pole of a dichotomy, which it isn't.

CoRev said...

How about Dr MT? Thanks for the suggestions. I think I know what you are talking about now. I don't know how to fix it. If I move things around so that the sections are separated, I doubt if it will matter much, because from checking out-clicks neither are used often.

Soon I will clean out the materials not referenced to streamline the service side of the page frames. It is probably too busy, anyway.

Thanks, again.

pmiddents said...

Corev,

After blipping through endless repetitions of the Spencer graph I finally got to one that implies efforts to mitigate global warming will starve the poor.

Then I get to one from Icecap, some sort of we're not denialists but we don't really think anything needs to be done site.

These are consistent with your selection of Spencer as a sole source for a temperature graph.

I think Michael is being very tolerant. Your site looks to me like most other denial and delay sites. It doesn't enlighten.

If you don't have the time or expertise to evaluate whats on the sites you list, why bother? I've got Google Reader and can follow the relevant blogs for myself.

CoRev said...

Paul,you caught me out. I put up the interesting stuff as it appears. Your comment: "I've got Google Reader and can follow the relevant blogs for myself."

I go through the list of sources on the right side of my blog several times per day. If they have new materials on AGW/GW/CC and often energy and environmental issues I reference them. I try not to classify/emphasize relevance as that implies more bias than I have.

I think MT hit it on the head. There is more activity on the skeptical side. As a hint of my biases, my favorite sites are "science daily" and "climate debate daily."

bi -- International Journal of Inactivism said...

CoRev:

"I put up the interesting stuff as it appears."

In other words, you're just regurgitating. And pmiddents is right.

* * *

Michael Tobis:

"On the other other hand, it is rare for a theoretical science of modest means and accomplishments (such as climate science) to abruptly become not only an applied science but a subject of controversy. And therein lies the reason we are still arguing over the parts of the picture that are not in great doubt among the community of actual investigators."

There are also many subfields of science which are already applied science or are already reasonable accomplished, but are still the subject of controversy. Vaccination. Second-hand tobacco smoke. CFCs. DDT. Post-war Iraq mortality rates.

The real reason, I think, is simply that any scientific endeavour will inevitably attract cranks. (NP-completeness, anyone?) It just happens that

(1) climatology is a field with policy implications;
(2) the oil and coal lobbies have an obvious vested interest in the status quo, and indeed have been promoting doubt about AGW;

and as a result the voice of the cranks has been amplified a thousandfold. As I said, I still don't really know what to do about this, but I think you'll agree with my general point that we do need to experiment with new ways to talk about climate change. A "network of trust" (or as I prefer, a "network of reasoned mistrust") isn't just going to re-establish itself.

Michael Tobis said...

Bi, well yeah, figuring out what the hell to do about is is indeed the problem. The trouble with experimentation is that we only have one world to experiment on; given that we have enemies any error is also amplified a thousandfold.

I think not demonizing people because they hold a cluster of beliefs we find completely implausible is difficult but necessary.

Which sort of introduces a new topic.

I don't know quite how to engage with them though. For instance I am pleased when fundamentalists see themsleves as protecting Creation when they oppose greenhouse gas accumulation, but since they have a talent for rejecting certain evidence, and hence paeloclimate means nothing to them, the evidence on which they base their conclusions is beyond my capacity to fully understand. I don't know how to establish trust with people who have bought into bible literalism. These are good and decent people despite their belief in things that cannot be true. It's no wonder that they are easy prey for the pseudos.

It may be the case that our approach needs to be generational.

I believe that when I was young bible literalism was expected to disappear. Its resurgence seems to me a direct result of manipulative techniques, and is a symptom of a society where the conventional social fabric is very threadbare.

Anyway, I'm interested in experiments, but not in spectacular high-risk confrontations. We can't allow ourselves to be demonized, and in some circles this demonization is quite literal.

Regarding CoRev, I don't see any reason to recommend or frequent that site. My relationship to climate theory is not one of being a "believer". Any presentation that doesn't put IPCC in the middle as opposed to a pole is intrinsically misleading. I didn't mention the site because I like it.

Michael Tobis said...

Check out what Paul Krugman has to say:

"The only way we’re going to get action, I’d suggest, is if those who stand in the way of action come to be perceived as not just wrong but immoral."

Which shouldn't be that hard, because it is basically true. We just need to make the case in such a way as not to push people away. That is the hard part.

David B. Benson said...

CoRev --- Those fols do not deserve the label 'skeptic'. I am reminded of the quotation "Its good to have an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out."

bi -- International Journal of Inactivism said...

Michael Tobis:

"For instance I am pleased when fundamentalists see themsleves as protecting Creation when they oppose greenhouse gas accumulation"

Well, I'm becoming more and more convinced that any discussion with good-natured fundamentalist friends will just be playing right into the inactivists' hands.

As I stated in my petition text (and I really should listen to myself more), the truly important debates are in the courts and the chambers of parliament, and a real definitive debate in these places is exactly what the High Respectable Inactionosphere has been working to prevent. Lieberman-Warner wasn't killed by hostile debate, but by a filibuster.

If this is true, then the thing to do is to try to get the discussion as close as possible to the key decision-makers. Of course there's the problem of how to do that...

Michael Tobis said...

I don't think the decision makers are, on the whole, deluded anymore, though they still might lack the insight to grasp the enormity of the thing.

I think the problem is how to get the public on board. The decision makers are pretty much constrained from all directions, and one of them is the persistence of all the conceptual pollution out there on these matters.

Dano said...

I don't think the decision makers are, on the whole, deluded anymore, though they still might lack the insight to grasp the enormity of the thing.

Where I used to live, there was a preponderance of Republican lawmakers elected to office (changing now, but still the majority). As I often speak to electeds and appointeds, I knew most of these folk and I liked them (except for the knob Dem state House Rep for my district). One's wife is going to the Olympics after many many challenges, great story.

Anyway, during the 06 election season one of the Rs came to my town and I shepherded his entourage around and during a visit somewhere one of our colorful characters told him that he shouldn't make any laws about GLOBUL WARMIN because it was all a scam. His staff and I looked at each other uncomfortably for a moment then he skillfully changed the subject.

The point? He knew what the issue was. No one had to tell him about man-made climate change, because it was affecting us negatively. But using that in a campaign, esp a Republican campaign? Fuhgeddaboudit.

Best,

D

bi -- International Journal of Inactivism said...

Michael Tobis: "one of them is the persistence of all the conceptual pollution out there on these matters."

Dano: "one of our colorful characters told him that he shouldn't make any laws about GLOBUL WARMIN because it was all a scam."

Now that leads me to my current pet theory: it's not really the conceptual pollution that matters (although that's part of the story); it's the perception that there's conceptual pollution that matters. That's why God^H^H^H^H Satan created astroturf groups: to create the impression of broad-based grassroots opposition where there's none.

Perhaps one can depend on a Republican politician to realize that one person speaking out doesn't represent `popular opinion'. Then again, as Mark Twain said... "Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." Oh well...

Dano said...

Frank,

I agree. Dano has been sayin' for some time (since back in the day at TCS) that the PR campaign to sow FUD has a 'widespread' component to it.

A pet theory here is: fortunately for the corporate FUD program, their campaign rings true to a certain small minority whose voice isn't heard in public, as they are largely ignored/shunned. This program allows these people a channel to have their voice heard.

Anyway, it is hard for politicians, today, to count votes because of the minority fringe's energy, vim, and vigor at writin' th' letters to th' EDITOR that GLOBUL WARMINS A SCAY-UM!!!! and no one ain't changin' their ways so we kin go back to th' STONE AGE, yew green nazi I love my hemi, granola boy!!!!!!

Go over to DotEarth and see the scrum in almost real-time. Someone there has developed a filtering system (I have it) that allows one to see that the percentage of ardent denialists is single-digit, but their output is considerable.

Decision-makers need to see this phenomenon to help them understand the small minority fringe skews the public discursive output. I'm doing my part.

Best,

D

Michael Tobis said...

Dano, Frank,

It seems to me that when I meet an engineer or an MD outside of work channels the chances are more than likely that they are very suspicious of "globalwarming". These are community opinion leaders on matters scientific, and our failure to reach them effectively is an ongoing disaster.

While admittedly the dedicated letterwriters are a relatively small group, their influence is very broad.

Trying to convince oneself otherwise seems to me to be wishful thinking of the same order as the cosmic ray theory or the solar variability theory or the sunspot theory or whatever else. I don't think the evidence supports your reassuring conclusion, in other words.

bernie said...

Michael:
That is my experience as well - many who have had decent empirical science training and significant interactions with government policy making question the catastrophic global warming scenario. The polarizing of the discussion does not help. $4 per gallon gas will do more and faster to change people pattern of energy usage than any type of "galvanizing" and "motivating" that is readily seen as more hyperventilating from the usual suspects. That may not be fair to the motivations of the proponents of and the evidence for CAGW - but it is the reality of the body politic in North America.
A strong move by environmental groups in favor of nuclear energy would go a long way to break the stereotyping of many strong advocates of CAGW. Without such a demonstration of "realism" most will remain disinterested in the issue.

Michael Tobis said...

The 'c' in CAGW is what, "catastrophic"?

Well, there's some spin right there.

What sort of a thing is that? It certainly isn't a scientific theory. It is a scenario to be avoided, surely, but surely everybody wants to avoid it!

Perhaps you are talking about "ITTATACAGW" (it's time to act to prevent catastrophic anthropogenic global warming". I am an advocate of that theory, as are most people who understand the physics of climate. Nobody is an advocate of the catastrophe itself!

This isn;'t the first time I have seen people trying to push this word "catastrophe" down my throat as if it were part of a testable hypothesis.

I don't like it and I think it's some sort of polemical trap.

Perhaps this is the "conflation" thing John was talking about.

bi -- International Journal of Inactivism said...

bernie's trying to change the subject to the usual inactivist platitudes. I'll just ignore him.

* * *

Michael Tobis:

"when I meet an engineer or an MD outside of work channels the chances are more than likely that they are very suspicious of `globalwarming'."

How suspicious is "very suspicious"? And how durable or malleable is their `suspicion'?

I'm not saying the majority of people enthusiastically agree with the AGW theory. But I don't see much indication that most are openly hostile to the AGW theory either; rather, as I said before, I suspect most people are simply apathetic, and haven't really come to a conclusion one way or another.

But even apathy can be useful: if voters are seen as merely apathetic on AGW, rather than hostile, then it'll remove a mental constraint for a decision-maker of the kind of policies he can push!

* * *

"These are community opinion leaders on matters scientific"

Opinion leaders may be useful, but -- I'll say this again -- it's clear that the inactivists are playing a whole different game here.

Let me put it this way. As Korzybski said, "the map is not the territory." But the map is what the politician sees. And while you expend all your energy to conquer huge amounts of actual territory, someone else simply colours parts of the map as his own, and sends the map to the politician.

The territory is the actual public opinion, while the map is a politician's perception of this public opinion. You can try to talk to "opinion leaders" till your mouth runs dry, but someone else simply unilaterally adds your name to another `petition'. And the Republican politician Dano talked about may not hear from the guys you `converted', but he'll hear from the bloke who chose to speak out right in the politician's presence.

This is the game they're playing.

bernie said...

Michael:
I am unclear of your point. AGW is meaningless as it stands unless you put some scope to it. Nobody doubts that man has a warming effect on his immediate environment aka UHI. The issue is how much, to what extent and with what likely consequences. Let's agree that my "CAGW" = your "ITTATACAGW" - my prediction is that my acronym will be more popular than yours!!

Dano said...

I know quite a few engineers in different fields and AFAIK zero of them doubt that man-made climate change exists (quibbleicious Bernie parsing notwithstanding).

I know few MDs, altho my sister in Michigan does, and last time I checked the folk she knows (colleages all having advanced degrees) no one in her circles doubts that man-made climate change exists (quibbleicious Bernie parsing of empirical science training and significant interactions with government policy making notwithstanding).

I do know many developers in Colo. The forward-looking ones (that is: the ones who do more than slap up the same ol' subdivision) are looking at positioning themselves in the coming climate future (warmer, drier).

I also spoke, last year, at a day-long business gathering about my city's future plans wrt business. I was not sufficiently briefed on what not to talk about, so one of the things I discussed the city's plans for obtaining water in a future climate change scenario.

There was one guy - one - in the full room who started the "no warming" bit, and he was quickly shut down by a number of people in the group. These were big players looking to expand in Colo., big businesses. They knew. They know.

So, Michael, I make research happen on the ground. The folks I hang around with for business and pleasure are folks that make things happen on the ground. The vast majority of them don't share your

chances [being] more than likely that they are very suspicious of "globalwarming". These are community opinion leaders on matters scientific, and our failure to reach them effectively is an ongoing disaster.

Again, the structural, transportation, utility, chemical, environmental, geotech engineers that I know (many) in large part aren't suspicious. This brings it back to the very first comment in this thread. The community I know appears to be different than the community you know. Part of my community is local and regional decision-makers, and they for the most part aren't suspicious, because those who brief them aren't either.

Really. Bernie's parsing of AGW is meaningless as it stands unless you put some [scale] to it notwithstanding.

And I end with agreeing with Frank's assertion regarding vote counting. The denial industry is mis/malcoloring the map. Frank wants his poll to be an eraser. Is it worth trying? IMHO it will just prompt a reaction just like we're seeing with the tire gauge. Their infrastructure has been emplaced since the mid-70s, and is well-oiled and well-funded and well-publicized (Scaife, Scripps, ClearChannel, Murdoch, etc).

Best,

D

Michael Tobis said...

Dano, I have already recently asserted that people close to the decisionmaking are more fully won over, although I am personally acquainted with someone quite important in managing Texas infrastructure who strongly thinks otherwise.

I suggest that your circles are not random samples.

Perhaps Coloradans by nature are closer to Nature than people in other areas.

In any case we are a long way from winning the game, as can be seen from the fact that essentially things not only keep getting worse every day, which is unfortunately to be expected for some time, but they keep getting worse faster and faster, which I had once hoped we'd have gotten past by 2008.

bernie said...

Dano:
If you want AGW to stand for all levels of AGW then so be it. I don't think I was parsing anything. Do you think that 1 or 2 degrees C per century is a problem? Do you think the low end of the IPCC range is the same as the high end?

bi:
Jeepers, Michael says A, I agree with him and point to the type of argument that is likely to be listened to by non-specialist engineers and scientists and I am changing the subject?

bi -- International Journal of Inactivism said...

Dano:

"Frank wants his poll to be an eraser."

Well, actually I started the petition mainly to show the vacuity of inactivists' conspiracy claims.

A real "eraser" will be that unknown force which nixed Watts's bogus poll on Hansen (thanks to, well, whoever should be thanked). If the poll didn't produce an unfavourable result, can there be any doubt that Watts would've touted it to high-ranking people as a show of The Public Opinion?

Back to maps and map erasers: I was just listening to Tom Harris's talk at the Heartland conference.(*) At 15' 57", Harris discusses what he euphemistically calls "information sharing" and "coordinated local activism". Holy shoot.

- - -

(*) There are also slides for the talk, but the audio's much more interesting.

Dano said...

MT:

In any case we are a long way from winning the game, as can be seen from the fact that essentially things not only keep getting worse every day, which is unfortunately to be expected for some time, but they keep getting worse faster and faster, which I had once hoped we'd have gotten past by 2008.

Aaaaaa-men, brother. The possession of knowledge, sadly, does not turn into political will.

----------

Bernie:

Do you think that 1 or 2 degrees C per century is a problem?

Seeing as that rate is unprecedented in human history, and we'd have no referents with which to judge when planning socioeconomic systems, well golly who wouldn't?

Do you think the low end of the IPCC range is the same as the high end?

Wrt kikelihoods? No. Certainly not from an adaptive management perspective, as the high end being realized means lots of socioeconomic disruption and movement of capital.

Best,

D

David B. Benson said...

Here is a review of "Six Degrees", which estimates the disruption for each degree of warming, one through six:

Six Degrees review

Even two degrees looks to end modern civilization IMHO.

bernie said...

OK, so who has more credentials Lynas or Lomborg?

Michael Tobis said...

Credentials don't matter much once you already know what a person is saying, although they can give some indication as to whether to listen.

This recent article by Lynas is very good and very timely.

bernie said...

Michael:
I absolutely agree. The point is that one can added substantially and substantively to the debate without them and that therefore crticisms of Lomborg on that basis are without merit. I will check the Lynas article - thanks

Michael Tobis said...

He's probably gone, but I should have referred CoRev to this posting.

SteamGeek said...

How do you feel about scientists who say "Creation should be preserved" as concluding remarks after making technical science presentations to "sustainability" conference attendees?

Michael Tobis said...

I wasn't there so I don't know.

It's become very clear that if we don't actually voice our opinions in the contemporary climate, and strongly, the body politic will behave as if we had said nothing.

I do not believe atheism is a job requirement for a scientist, and while I don't discuss religion online, I myself am a theist of some sort. I'm comfortable with using the word "creation" to describe the universe.

Michael Tobis said...

The above was hopelessly off topic, yes. I am just practicing my new "new postings on old threads" widget.