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)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

How to answer this one?

From Pajamas Media
Now, I am not a scientist. I am just a mother who raised 9 kids and trains horses for a living. Nothing scientific about that, but it seems to me everything should always be open for discussion. The idea that a subject like man-made climate change is a done deal just doesn’t make sense to me, yet reply after reply let me know in very certain words that there is nothing to talk about.
In addition, the shared attitude of arrogance towards me or anybody who would even consider such “propaganda” as an alternative view was surprising. Humorous at first, but then a bit hurtful. My intelligence, my character, and, just a few days ago, my faith were attacked by men, all much smarter then me, who for some reason felt they needed to smear me and our simple, small-town event.

Outrageous to me was one scientist who claimed our high school students would not be able to understand the information and especially when the opposing side was paid off and presenting lies.

All the replies seem peculiar to me. If my career had been based on investigating something and I was so certain of my data, why would I not want to defend it? Suspicious, to say the least. It’s like pleading the fifth; it usually means you are hiding or protecting something.

I wonder what these scientists are hiding.

Well, let's leave aside the business of what the 9 kids tells us about you, and how much time you've had to think about complicated grownup stuff. I'm not sure you want to go there, really. (NOTE: I seem to be in violation here of some social rule I didn't fully understand. Apparently grumbling about large families is tantamount to sacrilege in some quarters. It is this aside that has called so much attention to the present article. That wouldn't be so bad if people actually were willing to consider the actual point I was trying to make.)

And as for "If my career had been based on investigating something and I was so certain of my data, why would I not want to defend it?", this is obviously trickery. Science is not data. We are not collecting fingerprints. We are describing what is actually happening. The data are of course a consistency check, but this isn't a question of data at all. This, however was an out-and-out blunder. "Science is not data". OK. I stand by that. Data is part of science, but science is more than data. "It's not a question of data at all" is wrong and silly, though.

But neither the saccharine mom-n-apple-pie stunt nor this sleight of hand about science are the most interesting debating tricks used here.

The most alarming of all is here:
The idea that a subject like man-made climate change is a done deal just doesn’t make sense to me...

Outrageous to me was one scientist who claimed our high school students would not be able to understand the information and especially when the opposing side was paid off and presenting lies.
The question of whether scientists are hiding anything depends crucially on whether "man-made climate change is a done deal" and indeed whether "high school students would not be able to understand the information and especially when the opposing side was paid off and presenting lies". .

It is not clear how the writer would recommend addressing these matters if both of these facts are in fact true. Instead, the very idea that they could be true is greeted with mockery. There is not even an attempt at a pretense of an intellectual approach. There is just a rapid slam of the Overton window.

It's a very remarkable debating approach: you cannot hold these positions, which greatly weaken my case, because I will mock them as unreasonable, without any explanation as to why they should be unreasonable.

The peculiar fact that baseless acccusations are frequently self-referential appears here. They accuse us of evasiveness and defensiveness, yet they simply adopt a posture of refusing to consider on which side the dishonesty originates. This is just a distracting way to duck the serious questions: 1) are there professionals lying about climate science? (well, in fact this is exactly what they themselves claim, so I wonder how it can be so outlandish. We are just asking which side the liars are on!) 2) can high school students really get a clear picture of science when there are professional careers for people to lie about it?

Just who is being evasive and defensive here?

It's also an explicit know-nothing revival. A modern society cannot continue to exist for very long when people take this attitude of contempt toward expertise. No average person doubts that Colt McCoy is a better athlete than they are. Why do people refuse to acknowledge that there are smarter people than themselves? It is not just arrogance and ignorance. It's dangerous.

We are proud of our athletes in America. We used to be proud of our scientists too.

Update: Welcome, Climate Depot readers! It's been awhile! Pull up a chair, set a spell!

Here's something you might want to look at. Ask your buddy Marc Morano what, exactly, the US military's position is on climate change. There's news on that front, you know. You didn't know? Oh, a minor oversight, I'm sure. The climate change portal will be covering it in depth very soon I am sure.

Update: A couple of very useful and relevant links from the comments, from Steve Dutch and Julian Sanchez, with thanks respectively to King of the Road and Scruffy Dan.



Pictured: Texas Quarterback Colt McCoy (AP), who throws a ball better than you ever will, and Texas A&M Chemistry Nobelist Dudley Heschbach, via TAMU, who is smarter than you'll ever be.

91 comments:

Tony Lee said...

Note also the playing of the sexism card: the writer is a decent mother of nine, unfairly "attacked by men". In fact, the whole post is suffused with the sort of victimhood that conservatives love to point out in liberals.

Tony Lee said...

I agree with the writer: the fact that Isaac Newton defended his life's work makes the theory of gravity highly suspicious.

Also: sexism.

Mal Adapted said...

Michael,

Judging only from the excerpt you posted (i.e. knowing nothing about her but what she tells us), I'm going to say the lady has some legitimate complaints. She is the victim of a sophisticated and pervasive propaganda campaign, so she might be receptive to a more diplomatic response by an informed person. And her "attacked by men" problem is being discussed at length on a certain respected female scientist's blog right now.

Mal Adapted said...

OK, I just took a look at the linked blog. I take back my previous comment. Her complaints aren't legitimate. She's "a tea party leader in Wisconsin." She's not a victim of propaganda, she's an eager promulgator of it.

Michael Tobis said...

The gap between victims and promulgators is hard to define or understand. It is very hard for me to believe that any of these people really understand how much damage they might be doing. I think a few people are actively coming up with lies, while many others are stupidly repeating them, but in fact there may be a broad marginal grey area in between, where people are fooling themselves as much as others.

guthrie said...

I'm resigned to the fact that all too many people are incapable of weighing facts carefully to arrive at a sensible conclusion. Or they can, but they only choose to use this ability on specific occaisions, the rest of the time they think with their gut, which always tells them what they want to know.

Dano said...

Just who is being evasive and defensive here?

It's also an explicit know-nothing revival. A modern society cannot continue to exist for very long when people take this attitude of contempt toward expertise. No average person doubts that Colt McCoy is a better athlete than they are. Why do people refuse to acknowledge that there are smarter people than themselves? It is not just arrogance and ignorance. It's dangerous.


This attitude is exactly why I fled Michigan as soon as I could after puberty. I can't say my current place is much better, but at least the weather is fine and the landscape beautiful. I find much the same tone and quality of thought in our local paper's letters regarding the Citizens United decision.

Nonetheless, this is the human condition. No doubt Heraclitus and that Socrates dude lamented the very same thing, and maybe they too used such attitudes as useful indicators. Did they try to change individuals or small groups? Or did they think it was a waste of time?

It is too bad that the narrative for a certain ideology is allowing this nincompoopery to proceed so they can divide and gain power.

Best,

D

Oh, look: Word verif says "ortifist". Certainly.

Hank Roberts said...

http://img22.imageshack.us/img22/5919/acomicstripaboutglobalw.jpg

hat tip to http://mind.ofdan.ca/?p=2811
by way of the invaluable
http://members.autobahn.mb.ca/~het/enviro/gwnews.html

Scruffy Dan said...

I think they key point here, is that 'debates' like this, are not the proper venue to determine if AGW is valid or not.

Winning a debate like this depends not only on the facts, but on ones debating skills. Having poor debating skills is meaningless in determining what is true.

Michael Tobis said...

But not meaningless in determining what the public thinks is true...

Scruffy Dan said...

Also this post describing one-way-hash arguments is a great example why in debates like this the odds are stacked against the truth.
http://www.juliansanchez.com/2009/04/06/climate-change-and-argumentative-fallacies/

"The talking point on one side is just complex enough that it’s both intelligible—even somewhat intuitive—to the layman and sounds as though it might qualify as some kind of insight... The rebuttal, by contrast, may require explaining a whole series of preliminary concepts before it’s really possible to explain why the talking point is wrong. So the setup is “snappy, intuitively appealing argument without obvious problems” vs. “rebuttal I probably don’t have time to read, let alone analyze closely.”"

G-Man said...

I was in a discussion regarding Menne et.al. (2010) and WUWT at lunch the other day. It took me about 15 minutes to explain the data, information and techniques that Menne et.al. used to come to their conclusion.

The other person agreed with me - but then pointed out that all Watts has to show is a weather station next to an asphalt parking lot, and he "wins" in the eyes of the public.

How science can sway the public with sound bites is the problem. As we all know, there's a lot more to science than will fit on a bumper sticker, but that's what sells to the public.

How we get around that, I don't know.

Michael Tobis said...

I second Scruffy's very useful link. (many thanks!) Nothing really new to those of us in the trenches, but very well stated.

By the way I also highly recommend Scruffy Dan's blog, which has been particularly excellent of late.

Mal Adapted said...

Julian Sanchez demonstrates that "rational Libertarian" isn't an oxymoron.

Again, nothing really new to us, but let's remember the propagandists have the advantage that the "victims" want to believe them. AGW is an inconvenient truth, to coin a phrase 8^|. Who wants to take the blame for it? Who wants to pay more for goods and services because the hitherto-external costs of their luxury and ease have to be internalized? We're up against the tragedy of the commons, as I'm hardly the first person to point out.

Then there's the disconnect between science and morality. As I've said elsewhere recently, the problem isn't that science can't tell us, often with a high degree of certainty, what's going to happen; it's that science can't tell us why we should care. Even informed Americans expect AGW to hurt other people far away first, and the Deacon's grace is "bless me and my wife, son John and his wife, us four and no more." And as for future generations, well, "what have future generations done for me?"

I'm not ready to give up, but I'm not optimistic. YMMV, but I fully expect to see severe impacts of AGW in my life, made far worse by delay, denial and disquise. The most I can hope is that our efforts will limit the damage.

David B. Benson said...

It doesn't seem to help to point out that everyone can read W.F. Ruddiman's "Earth's Climate: Past and Future" or many another beginning climatology text for non-scientists.

What happens to me, almost always, is that such suggestions --- to actually read --- are routinely ignored.

A variant on the Gish Gallop.

Anna Haynes said...

An interesting strategy. What was the tobacco analogue? I remember "why can't we all just get along" message, but was there a "tobacco-control activists are meanies" one too?

From here on, we should expect efforts to goad or lure us into doing/saying things that can be tagged as "meanie"; once you recognize what's going on, it loses its punch, but until then it can be unfortunately effective.
(speaking from personal learning curve here)

guthrie said...

The problem is, as I am reminded in reading a biography of Trenchard, the man who effectively built the RAF, is that public pressure can affect the politicians who then change the playing field upon which our supposed rational investigation can take place.

So how did we manage to build such a setup as the entire scientific edifice which we have today?

EliRabett said...

Dudley Herschbach is nicer than you will ever be too and you are pretty nice.

Anna Haynes said...

Just for the record, re Mal's "And her "attacked by men" problem is being discussed at length on a certain respected female scientist's blog right now" -

Mal, I realize this is moot since you've backtracked, but anyway:

The referenced blog discussion was about *unjust* putdowns; to wit -

"Mansplaining is when a dude tells you, a woman, how to do something you already know how to do, or how you are wrong about something you are actually right about, or miscellaneous and inaccurate "facts" about something you know a hell of a lot more about than he does."

...which most definitely does not apply in the case of Dr. Tobis and Mrs. Simac.

Chuck said...

Thing is, our athletes don't tell us that we have to change the way we live. They just keep us entertained for 3 hours a week in the fall.

Clifton said...

Was it God (i.e. some book she found in a hotel) or Glenn Beck that gave her the opinion?

I have a hard time believing someone like this made up their own mind.

Martin said...

She doesn't need or deserve an answer. Ignore her, and hope she and her kids will live to see history's judgment.

Bryan Lawrence said...

The problem is: all the comments on your blog pretty much agree with you, and all the comments on her blog (nearly a hundred! as of now) pretty much assassinate scientists because they didn't come to tea (rudely, we're given to understand).

So the converted preach to the converted ... (with apologies, obviously this isn't about faith, at least on one side).

We just have to find some way of getting past this. When I was a youngster, I used to go to tea parties and defend nuclear power (very unpopular in NZ) and assasinate UFOs ... (very unpopular amongst a certain urban set). I genuinely believe I changed a few minds ... but clearly some were not for turning ...

I loved trying! Perhaps we have to set more teenagers lose at tea parties (they have the time and probably more patience than those of us longer in the tooth).

David B. Benson said...

Martin --- Unfortunately, she is a potential voter. So, later, will be her kids.

Michael Tobis said...

She is more than a voter. She is explcitly speaking for the Wisconsin branch of the Tea Party. Follow the link.

Alastair said...

It is no good telling her she is wrong, or should feel guilty about her nine kids, and the problems of over population.

What you have to do is use the same emotional arguments that she does. The first thing to do is point out that it is the future of her nine kids that is at stake. That you are not mad at her. It is those oil companies who are only out to make a fast buck, and don't care that there will be disaster when the oil runs out. That will be in her kids lifetime if no in hers.

So that wouldn't work either? Yes your right!

Cheers, Alastair.

Martin said...

What I mean is, nothing is going to change her mind or that of any of the other lunatics in that asylum. As for the kids... they'll grow up. Perhaps.

The problem here is that we landed in a situation where things had already happened. It was a tactical error of the scientists asked to answer angrily or 'talking down'. What they should have done is steal the victim's role from her. That wouldn't have been hard -- I'd bet that, already before this whole thing started, scientists as a group were being maligned in comments on her blog. You know it's true. You know you can find the goods.

What you have to learn then is put up a convincing 'victim' act (and remember, you are the victim here!). That takes some careful work. Be the honest, hard-working scientist dedicating his life to searching for the truth, studying for years to master the basics, and then working for more years to earn the recognition of his peers. Being accused of malpractice, or even fraud, hurts. For a scientist, the hardest part is having his integrity questioned. Scientists are just not trained to deal with that. It's not fair.

Work on it. Make it a good story. And then, point out that you don't see why you should subject yourself to any further abuse in the form of a 'debate' in an obviously unfair setting. But also offer, on the off chance that she is willing to learn (of course not aimed at her but really past her at 'lurkers'), that you would be happy to find her some good textbooks, and even explain in person whatever issue that particularly bothers her about the science position.

Be nice. Make her and her lot look like nasty brutes by comparison.

Mark said...

Martin

The scientists as victims of unfair criticism line doesn't seem to be going down too well at the moment, unfortunately.

The title of this blog refers to the ludicrousness of the "scientists are wicked people who are in it for the money" meme. but you have to admit it lines on nonetheless and predisposes people to think the worst.

I don't have a solution to suggest, I'm afraid, beyond patiently and quietly defending the work the scientists are doing.

David B. Benson said...

Maybe just Onionize 'em?

As over in the rabbet's hutch?

Martin said...

Mark, yep, I see your point, but 'unfair criticism' doesn't begin to describe it.

The point that needs to be made is that discounting the science, and the conclusion that AGW is real and serious, requires a conspiracy theory. It's not enough that some, or even many, scientists have been sloppy or less than honest -- no, the evidence is so robust and consists of so many independent threads that only a worldwide conspiracy including all of them will do.

That includes yours truly. That includes (important to point out!) "skeptics" Roy Spencer and John Christy, stewards of the UAH time series.

So, commend the lady with well understanding that discounting the science requires a conspiracy theory. And extend the victim act to include victims of past such theories, including a genocide in Central Europe. It's not even making things up: as a scientist, I feel deeply troubled -- and threatened! -- by the similarity of the current situation with the 1930's. It must be worse for Jewish scientists like Ben Santer.

Stephan said...

Following on from Martin's comment, the 'conspiracy' must not only involve ALL climate scientists, but also pine bark beetles, butterflies, moths, and a myriad other creatures.

Clearly, if it's a conspiracy, someone must have been telling the critters to move north to pretend that the climate is changing, or to mate more than once a season just to fool us into thinking it gets warmer. Who talked to them? Al Gore? Elvis Presley from North Korea perhaps?

In my experience, pointing to such biological markers of climate change is useful with all but the hardcore tinfoil hat crowd (aka tea baggers).

Stephan said...

Oh, and yes, I agree with Martin--the comparison with Weimar Germany is, alas, apt. For the first time since the 1930's, we are experiencing an unfortunate confluence of lunacy, angst, and BIG MONEY.

Normally the latter doesn't associate with the former two, but in this instance it does, just as it did in the 1930s, and therein lies a huge problem given the current structure of media ownership.

Martin said...

Stephan, but it's the biologists conspiring... don't expect today's city dwellers to independently check up on what is happening in nature :-(

Sean Houlihane said...

Odd.. Noone posting here seems to have an opinion.

Swami said...

I've noticed that in all the suggestions here, not one
includes "let's lay out our theory in as clear and convincing a manner as we possibly can, including our methodology, data, etc...

Ah. Yes. I see the problem there.

Well then, in that case, carry on with ad hominem attacks. A politically active conservative mother of nine can't possibly be smart enough to refute an argument as clever as "shut up you stupid-head".

Other theories in other disciplines have or have had better experimental support, but their opponents have never been subjected to the same level of vilification.

You know what I find ironic? I agree that the bulk of the science supports changes in the Earth's climate due to Human factors, but my growing revulsion towards the "global warming community" and their arrogance has made be increasinly sympathetic to the skeptics, to the point where I am rapidly losing my concern. It's an illogical, emotional reaction- but there it is.

And by the way, Tony Lee: The Theory of Gravity WAS highly suspicious. There were gaping holes, and inaccurate predictions. So along came Einstein. That's the way science goes. Astronomers didn't resort to a "trick" to "hide" the precession of Mercury's orbit.

Michael Tobis said...

Odd. I commented on Sean Houlihane's blog and my comment appeared immediately, but when I went to check for responses it had disappeared.

Hank Roberts said...

Someone asked about tobacco:

Articles - EveryRose Creative Services
Sep 23, 2009 ... By July 2010, the tobacco industry will be barred from using terms ... You can read the full Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act here. ... Way to demonize smokers more so than they are already. ... This is just one more step toward socialism and being controlled by an absolute ruler. ...
everyrosecs.com/articles/cigaretteban.html

Warning Signs: The War on Smokers Continues Jun 22, 2009 ... It is called the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. .... justify Tobacco Control are fraudulent - tobacco smoke being demonized out of all ... That acronym stands for the United States Socialist Republic. ...
factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com/2009/.../its-no-longer-land-of-free.html

Michael Tobis said...

Getting a bunch of nasty emails all of a sudden about this article. I wonder which site is featuring me. Better check the server logs.

Anyway given that nobody is actually addressing the prospect that the items the lady mocked might actually be true, and that some people might be better equipped than others to understand the situation, I guess they don't have a real answer yet.

Michael Tobis said...

Morano, of course.

Tanquam ex ungue leonem.

halfacanuck said...

"Well, let's leave aside the business of what the 9 kids tells us about you, and how much time you've had to think about complicated grownup stuff."

Alas, I think this might be an example of precisely the "attitude of arrogance" Kimberly Simac was referring to.

Perhaps you know of some causal link between the number of children a person has and their ability to understand complex topics? I'd love to see a plot of that, if you have time. (FWIW, my very brief research turned up that Darwin had 10 kids while Edison and Bohr had 6 each, yet they seemed to do okay as far as critical thinking goes. It's a small sample, I admit, but still 100% larger than yours.)

"Science is not data. [...] We are describing what is actually happening. The data are of course a consistency check, but this isn't a question of data at all."

Doing science "isn't a question of data"? You're joking, right? Maybe a refresher on the scientific method might help here:

1) Form a testable null hypothesis and decide on an acceptable level of confidence

2) Design and carry out experiments to gather relevant data

3) Use statistical analyses to either reject or fail to reject the null hypothesis

4) Publish both the results and the raw data

Notice how important data is in every step. First, while forming your hypothesis, you must consider what kind of data you might feasibly be able to collect in order to test it -- after all, there's no point trying to test a hypothesis for which the necessary data is impossible to obtain. Next you collect data, and then you analyze it. Then as well as publishing your results you make the raw data available so that your work may be verified.

Would you care to elaborate on what exactly it is scientists do, then, if it's "not a question of data at all"? What *is* the scientific method, in your opinion? How does one decide "what's actually happening"?

"Instead, the very idea that they could be true is greeted with mockery. There is not even an attempt at a pretense of an intellectual approach."

Perhaps you, in your capacity as a learned man of science, might consider leading by example rather than launching a personal attack against someone based on her lifestyle? Just my $0.02.

"It's also an explicit know-nothing revival. A modern society cannot continue to exist for very long when people take this attitude of contempt toward expertise."

Fair enough, but I would say that blind submission to authority is just as dangerous as thoughtless contempt for it. After all, science is about being skeptical. The notion that one should accept what one is told simply because someone (even an expert) says so is antithetical to this worldview. For a start, who decides when someone has enough expertise that I, as a layman, should just stop thinking for myself? What if the experts disagree?

Or, in Richard Feynman's words: "Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts."

Personally I would say that in a modern society the population would ideally understand the science for themselves, as far as that is possible -- or at least the basic principles. I think the lack of respect for science that we're seeing today is largely a consequence of a failure of the education system rather than stupidity.

"Why do people refuse to acknowledge that there are smarter people than themselves? It is not just arrogance and ignorance. It's dangerous."

Perhaps I'm misreading, but you seem to be conflating intelligence with the possession of truth. Very intelligent people have been very, very wrong throughout human history. You strike me as intelligent, and yet you might be wrong about things! As a thoughtful person you must conceded this, surely?

Michael Tobis said...

Received in email:

Michael, I won’t bother to post this on your blog. You’ll only keep it off the site. So instead, I’ll email you directly and dare you to post this comment.

Michael and others who've posted on this blog on this topic - You people HAVE TO be kidding me.

The woman should be smeared because she leads a Tea Party effort and is just sowing misinformation ("how much damage they might be doing"). But the Univ. of East Anglia CRU should be given a nice pat on the head, more funding, and told "well done" for manipulating data and fudging computer code, pressuring journal editors not to accept scientific studies that are counter to the AGW hyperbole, and criminally refusing to submit info under Freedom of Information laws? And that doesn't even count the intentional destroying of source data so that future scientists couldn't check their work.

She should be smeared but the UN IPCC deserves a Nobel prize for using non peer-reviewed eco-socialist NGO reports (WWF, Greenpeace, others) as references (Himalayan glacier melt, frequency/severity of tropical storms, Amazon rainforests, species extinctions and others coming out daily).

Mann, Bradley, and Hughes and Keith Briffa should be treated as heroes even after their “hockey stick” study and Yamal tree ring study (respectively) are shown to be totally fraudulent. That’s not “misinformation” or “lies”, huh?

Michael, you wrote in the comments post "I think a few people are actively coming up with lies, while many others are stupidly repeating them". And you made a comment about "what the public thinks is true". And in your and your reader’s minds, the only ones sowing misinformation and “Campaigns of Confusion” are Tea Party participants and organizers and the fossil fuel lobby.

Have you been living under a rock since the CRU ClimateGate? (any of us who’ve delved DEEPLY into the science and economics of this issue knew that many AGW proponent scientists were bending science to fit their policy preferences, for many years).

What will you clowns say when NASA GISS and NOAA are shown to have been complicit with HadCRU in abrogation of the scientific method?

How ironic is it that the very internet that Al Gore thinks he created is now being used to bring down the scientific equivalent of the Copernican dustup with the catholic church.

For those of you gaiarrhea spewers who think humans are killing the planet with CO2 emissions, familiarize yourselves with Copernican history. In a few years, history will view all of you in a similar light as the church in that historic episode.

And those of us committed to reducing pollution (CO2 isn’t pollution, despite EPA’s Endangerment Finding, which will NOT stand) and contamination to air, water, humans, wildlife, and ecosystems will NEVER let you eco-socialists live it down, either.

Move on to something that causes real harm/risk to human health and the environment. "Global warming" and "climate change" are politics masquerading as science. That's all it ever was and all it ever will be.

Boy are you people who think you’re so smart going to look stupid when history looks back at what you’ve written, said, done, and stood for. Let me know how that works out for you eco-sheeple.

Alan Bressler

Michael Tobis said...

Morano has posted my email on his site. Weird.

I guess that's a prank to up my spam count. Fortunately I have the Google on my side and never look in my spam folder at all. Of course he focuses on peripheral issues.

Hint to all; if you want to up your traffic, say something that some of Morano's readers might find disreputable.

I think in Texas "mother of nine" is no longer regarded as something to be proud of, though, even among the reddest of necks. But as usual, I appreciate the traffic spike.

Thanks, Marco!

Tom said...

Mr. Tobis, I am no friend of yours and never thought I would return. But I would like to offer you some well-intended and sincere advice. If you don't want your 15 minutes of fame to be wasted on this subject, apologise to this woman immediately, offer her space on your weblog to debate with you, and express regret for your choice of words. Defuse this today, or it will stick with you as long as you blog.

Michael Tobis said...

I think having more than two children per family in an overcrowded world is ethically dubious, first of all, unless you get triplets or something. I know people disagree with me on that. Hey, maybe she had octuplets, anyway. That's not the point, though.

The idea that she had time to keep up on complex issues and be a good mom is hard to imagine. The idea that being a mother of nine actually is a positive qualification for a debate on a matter of scientific substance is completely ridiculous.

Intelligent mothers of one or two who have most of the household duties are often heard to complain that they have no time for adult interests. What would you say about a mother of nine?

I suppose it's possible she had a full time nanny or house-husband or something, but even so, claiming nine kids as a way to start the conversation makes very little sense.

I'd start out by saying I am a father of zero. I own a thousand nonfiction books on a hundred topics, but that's mostly because my wife hates hoarding and has made me sell or give away most of them.

Now the fact that Morano thinks my restrained snark is the main point of the article just shows how he approaches debate. I know he wants to paint me as a lunatic, but I will continue to say what I think is appropriate to say.

I say that being a mother (or father) of nine is the opposite of a qualification for taking a substantive public position on a complex matter.

Martin said...

Swami,

I've noticed that in all the suggestions here, not one includes "let's lay out our theory in as clear and convincing a manner as we possibly can, including our methodology, data, etc...

Has been done. Big time. Ever heard of textbooks? Lots of them, on all levels, some of them very well written. Ever looked at them?

There's "History of Global Warming" by Weart -- care to guess how many hours went into that? And then there's the Protocols of the Elders of Geneva -- oops, sorry, wrong conspiracy.

You know where to find all this. If you want to. Do you? Or would you rather smear hard working scientists desperately trying to help people gain a better understanding, and only getting shit for thanks?

--

Alan Bressler, the red pill.

Tom said...

You are not only substantively wrong on the issue, you are being a stubborn fool. I have the feeling you are going to get quoted chapter and verse on the former--maybe you take pride in the latter.

Scruffy Dan said...

Here is what I don't understand. MT's words were absolutely mild compared with those on the 'other side'.

Yet they get pass after pass, while even the slightest transgression by people like MT is blown way out of proportions.

Why the double standard?

Michael Tobis said...

Lucia, at least takes the right bait.

guthrie said...

Swami - I don't know which part of the world you live in, but here in the UK AGW was around in the popular science press since the early 90's. It's been in the newspapers, in articles and comments of varying quality for probably 15 years. Its in the national curriculum.

Myself and many others have spent many hours linking to the sources which Michael has already mentioned. We've written letters to newspapers, and posted on the internet explaining the actual scientific facts behind AGW.

The information is available, you just have to spend the months required in order to learn about it.

That someone feels they've been told to shut up and not ask questions is of course regrettable, but on the internet you can ask away and have them answered.

At what point did you find that people were being arrogant? You don't think that the campaigns o lies and misdirection being waged against it might have something to do with people getting a bit fed up?

Jeff said...

What a ugly post. This is not good and I'm glad Lucia has taken you to task on this.

I'm sure we won't agree on a lot of things but my god man, going after a woman who had children like you did was uncool. I agree that her letter after the fact didn't read well but the dolt's who reacted to her like that could have taken a few minutes to explain they were not interested in debating science with high school students.

The worst part is that the lady is correct and there are good reasons to question global warming science.

Glenn said...

It is hopeless for scientists to try to convince the "common" people that they are smarter than they are. It is a Catch-22 situation. Scientists "know" that they must be smarter than others because of their degrees and other superior educational attainments. But to disparage others intelligence (openly implying that they are smarter)and acting superior is correctly taken by most sensible people as a sign of stupidity.

Scientists who try to build up themselves by acting superior and insulting others intelligence suffer from deep-seated feelings of inadequacy. While one can only speculate about the areas of functional inadequacy of said scientists, that they are most certainly present is a hypotheses of much more truth value than the theory of global warming.

Cheers!

Mr. Pitt said...

Thank goodness you're a father of none, Mr. Tobis. There must really be a God. No innocent child deserved to be saddled with your DNA, let alone be taught the types of things that clearly exist in your brain.

pough said...

How to answer this one? First, make sure everyone who isn't you thinks you're a dick. Seriously, as much as I like the rest of the post, that first paragraph is just awful. Even after your explanation. Channeling Mr. Wilson from Dennis the Menace isn't in the how to win friends and influence people guidebook.

Cartoonasaurus said...

Smarter than she is? Because, what, she has an "immoral" number of kids? LOL!
Your argument is weak beyond belief... Here's a concept for you - having a degree or doctorate or whatever is merely proof of time spent ATTEMPTING to educate oneself. Whether or not the attempt was successful can only be guessed at...

Michael Tobis said...

This doesn’t seem very complicated to me. There are 24 hours in a day. Hours you spend reading “Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooey” aloud are hours you do not spend doing the exercises in A. Papoulis’ “Probability, Random Variables and Stochastic Processes”, for instance.

It is not impossible to do both, of course, but it is more difficult.

If you find that insulting, explain it to me rationally without huffing and puffing. Are there magic powers of parents to devote many hours to their children’s development and many hours to their personal development at the same time?

All else equal, hours spent on one thing are hours not spent on another. You make your choices and you live with them.

Conceivably Mrs Simac had servants, or a full-time house-husband, and spent spare hours from horsetraining in diligent study of geophysics. But she herself says this is not so.

That being the case, the only way Mrs Simac's position makes sense to me is by beginning with the presumption that there is no significant skill set involved in climate science.

I have the sense that many people really believe this. That is the part I call dangerous. It's a failure of public education that such ideas are widespread, but given all the other crazy things people believe it's no wonder.

I wish I could weasel out of all this by saying that "9 kids is her choice, she just can't expect to be up on science".

Unfortunately, I can't escape my expressed belief that there's something fundamentally wrong with having nine children in our modern overpopulated world. I guess I'm not allowed to say that. Oops.

Bob Armstrong said...

What a really sad and empty post .

I continue to ask "show me the physics" . I have on my http://CoSy.com implemented the essential Stefan_Boltzmann+Kirchhoff relationships for radiantly heated gray balls which shows we are about 8c warmer than a uniform gray body in our orbit . I have never found a coherent quantitative explication of the physics from you catastrophists capable of even what my few lines of array programming code do . What I generally see is a naive one dimensional explanation starting from the non-physical and misleading notion of the planet absorbing as a gray body but radiating as a black body . If all you "scientists" who never come out with any quantitative predictions , but spout a lot of patent absurdities about the effects of an at most .5c change in the last half century from our restoring some of the gas which is half the respiratory cycle of life from previous lush ages , have such a crystalline understanding of the physics , why don't one of you write a not more than 10 page summary of the essential equations ? Better yet , publish the physics in one page of a modern array capable programming language so we all can play with the relationships ourselves ?

Frankly what I see is just a bunch of middlebrow hollow watermelons prone to ad hominems and appeals to ever more sullied authorities rather than actual hard science .

Kevin said...

Hi there,
I appreciate the chance to input here. My mother ( a mother of 5) taught me there is a difference between intelligence and wisdom. Perhaps wisdom is harder to gain? I sense you havent responded with wisdom to this mother who should be treated with kindness and respect.

Thanks,

Kevin

King of the Road said...

Michael,

I've linked to Dr. Steven Dutch in your comments before and you were fairly unimpressed. However, I find much of value in his rational approach.

In any case, he's addressed the issue of expertise in a manner that pulls no punches here.

King of the Road said...

I'm amazed,looking at Morano's site and the comments to your post, about this "Mom" fixation. As I navigate the tubes, it seems that about half the sites I visit have an advertisement saying "turn your teeth white with a trick, discovered by a mom..." or "lose 20 pounds of belly fat with this simple step, discovered by a mom..." or "use this method, discovered by a mom, to make big money working from home..."

Being a good mom is certainly something to respect but I'm unclear as to why it shields one from criticism for foolishness in other areas or lends credibility for opinions held with no expertise to back it up.

Giving birth is a skill humans have had for quite a long time. There was a time when survival of the species depended on giving birth to as many offspring as possible as soon as possible. That time is long gone. At the risk self-aggrandizement, I touched on the topic here.

Michael Tobis said...

KotR, thanks!

rustneversleeps said...

I'm actually looking forward to reading the essay that KotR linked to, but just glancing over it, the section called "Where In The World Do People Learn To Write Like This?" reminded me of this.

Here is the beginning of some sample output: "Let's talk again about an all-too-familiar subject: Dr. Michael Tobis and his self-serving publicity stunts. In the rest of this letter, I will use history and science (in the Hegelian sense) to prove that you can hear the fremescent clangor every time Dr. Tobis tries to wreck our country, derail our civilization, and threaten the human race with extinction. His actions are built on lies and they depend on make-believe for their continuation...", etc., etc.

hehehe... sounds oddly familiar...

Borepatch said...

Wow. I'll ignore the ad hominem arguments about how many children she has and whether High School students are intelligent enough to understand all the triple propeller-head rocket science stuff, and focus on two statements.

First: Science is not data. We are not collecting fingerprints. We are describing what is actually happening. The data are of course a consistency check, but this isn't a question of data at all.

So what happens when the raw data does not agree with the adjusted data? This seems to be happening all the time, most famously with the "Smoking Gun At Darwin" post, but repeatedly - New Zealand, West Point, Brisbane. As people compare the unadjusted data to what is reported from GISS and GHCN, they find that the reported warming is simply not present in the raw data, over 100 year intervals.

It absolutely is a question of data, a very serious one.

Second: No average person doubts that Colt McCoy is a better athlete than they are. Why do people refuse to acknowledge that there are smarter people than themselves?

Well, McCoy does not refuse to release his data and methods, does not use bogus statistical methodology (see McIntyre's demolition of Mann's R2 calculations), and does not "homogenize" data for grids that contain no thermometers (i.e. "make up data").

What McCoy does is transparent, meaning it's all out in the open for anyone to see. What's happening in Climate Science is very much the opposite, and is a scandal.

And just so you know, I'm not a housewife with nine children, I'm an electrical engineer. I used to think that the climate was getting warmer, but the more I see of the differences between the raw and adjusted data, the more skeptical I become.

The question is not "are Climate Scientists smart". It's "can Climate Scientists be wrong, and how would we tell?" There is quite a strong case to be made that the Climate Scientists are wrong in very serious ways, and that they are doing everything that they can to prevent other scientists from showing this.

Anyone who believes in the integrity of science should be insisting on full transparency of data and code. If the data are so overwhelming, then publish it.

One final point on Ms. Simac. While "only" a housewife, she learned two things in Middle School that are useful tools to understand the current debate:

1. Check your work.

2. Show your work.

Scientists are wrong all the time, for all sorts of reasons. The only way to catch mistakes is to show your work. Period. The issue has nothing to do with "smart".

pough said...

"Unfortunately, I can't escape my expressed belief that there's something fundamentally wrong with having nine children in our modern overpopulated world. I guess I'm not allowed to say that. Oops."

You're allowed to say it, but two things spring to mind. One is that there are better ways to express it than you did. You seem to have chosen a way that was demeaning without explanation. While I (now) understand your point, the person you are talking about (if not to) has a different moral viewpoint on children.

The other thing that springs to mind is you don't understand what it's like to have so many children. With so many, you have in-home babysitters. It's hardly impossible to have many children and a doctorate. It happens.

So go ahead and say those things, but keep in mind you'll do better with them if you explain yourself better. Also, they're a crappy lead-in, no matter what. Get to the meat first, snark pointlessly at the end. Or not. Your blog. Just IMO.

guthrie said...

Bob Armstrong- you clearly don't believe that the physics is settled, yet insist on letting us know. Us being a bunch of bloggers and commentators on a blog which is currently examining the gap between the publics appreciation of the science and the actual science.

So you don't think your obsession is a little bit out of place? There's loads of places to discuss the physics, from Greenfyres challenging the core science thread:
http://greenfyre.wordpress.com/2009/07/19/challenging-the-core-science-comment-thread/

And you could always try realclimate. Or maybe you could write up your claims and submit them to a journal. Just make sure the way you write it up fits the journal standards, and see what happens.

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

"...the only way Mrs Simac's position makes sense to me is by beginning with the presumption that there is no significant skill set involved in climate science."

If climate science demands a skill set that places any debate on the topic beyond the comprehension of high school students, why do high schools permit presentation of "An Inconvenient Truth"? Is it just the rebuttal to the AGW hypothesis that's beyond the comprehension of high school students?

I'm a skeptic all around. I see no a priori reason why 6 billion + humans cannot have a global impact on climate. I also expect that any trend deduced from noisy temperatures and proxy temperature data contains a large measure of uncertainty, given...

where I live, temperatures vary on a 24 hour cycle, a 365 day cycle, a 10-year PDO (where I live. I'm 60 so I've lived through six of them but can't say I observed them, because I wasn't looking), an 11-year sunspot cycle (previous caveat applies here), and astronomical cycles induced by precession, changes in the tiilt of the Earth's axis of rotation relative to the plane of the ecliptic, changes in the eccentricity of the Earth's orbit, on the order of tens of thousands of years, a (suggested) cycle on the order of 100,000 years induced by the solar system's orbit around the galactic core and passage through the galactic plane, and aperiodic events like cometary impact, volcanism, jet stream and ocean current redirection induced by mountain-building and continental realignment and the draining of massive glacial lakes.

The problem is not simple. What bothers me most about the AGW discussion is the strong relation between political predisposition and acceptance/denial of AGW. On both sides.

You know what is simple? Courtesy and honesty. Consider the treatment of Freeman Dyson by Joe Romm (Climate Progres) and the Tea Party mom by this blog. Consider intimidation of journal editors and selective data manipulation by the hockey team, revealed in the CRU hack. Advantage, skeptics. If AGW believers had a good case, they would not need to lie and argue ad hominem.

David B. Benson said...

I don't suppose it will actually cause commenters here to actually read it, but climatologist's popular "Plows, Plagues and Petroleum" is not beyond the comprehension of any middle school student.

I hope.

Bob Armstrong said...

Guthrie , I can't even find the physics .

You call me "obsessed" because I want to understand -- which to me is to quantitatively implement -- the actual science ?

How can you argue anything until you understand the physics ?

You point me to two conversations , similar to this one , which I already know are blind alleys . Even Pierrehumbert in his new book starts with the crude "cold earth" assumption I described above and never provides actual equations for the "forcings" that are added to this fictional base .

Perhaps some browsing these blogs have the mathematical and programming talent to follow the implementation of radiantly heated spheres in a few sentences of a modern array programming language ( which has been kindly translated into to a couple of more accessible dialects ) on my http://CoSy.com , and perhaps they might be motivated to translate it into a more "mass market" language like MatLab . These APL notations evolved from the notation for multidimensional algebra and are capable of implementing computations as or more succinctly than traditional mathematical textbook notations . I have little doubt that the hundreds of pages of now notoriously "messy" antique Fortran of , eg , the CRU models can be expressed more flexibly and understandably in a page or so of these notations , including orbital mechanics .

So , I want to motivate some bright young people take my start and develop a succinct , understandable "model" , open and explorable by anyone of sufficient ability .

There is only about 8c difference between our temperature and that of a gray body in our orbit to be explained , and the next obvious line to implement is the extension to full spectra , which should close the bulk of that gap . So I welcome anybody seriously interested in truly nailing down the science to study how far I've gotten , and help flesh out the remaining parameters .

jerry said...

Hey Mr PhD
As a mother of 6 I am VERY offended to the the way you keep referring to Mrs Simac's children and her intelligence level because of them. You should be ashamed of yourself. You have disrespected a mother who has raised 9 children, all because she is trying to debate an obviously debatable topic. You are a sick excuse for a man. Brains aren't everything Mr Tobis and in FACT in your case they're nothing.

Hank Roberts said...

> Plows, Plagues and Petroleum

Easy to find, and it must be readable --- look -- it even got an award from a fraternity!

http://press.princeton.edu/titles/8014.html

Scruffy Dan said...

@ Bob

We've talked before, and the fact that Venus is as hot as it is, is enough to cast serious doubt on your ideas.

Do you still claim that Venus must have an undiscovered internal heat source to account for the high temperatures?

Wouldn't it the existence of the greenhouse effect me a more plausible explanation?

ourchangingclimate said...

The main points of mt’s article still stand (despite all the yelling and screaming about the unfortunate comment about motherhood): It’s very difficult, if not impossible, for a lay audience to judge who is more likely right about a complex scientific topic, based merely on am oral debate. And a lot more is know about the causes for and direction of the changes in climate than “skeptics” may want you to believe.

If I were to hear a debate between someone who sais coffee is bad for your health and someone who claims the opposite, it’s damn difficult to know who is right and who is wrong. There’s nothing arrogant or foolish in pointing that out (though I can see how easy it is to portray it as such; a clear PR advantage for the “skeptics”). Isn’t it much more arrogant and foolish to think that you know better than the experts? The Dunning-Kruger effect comes to mind.

In a debate, the better debater has a huge advantage in appearing more believable. Surely it’s possible to use more cues as to who is more likely right (see some collected hints here http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2009/02/08/who-to-believe/), but merely using such cues rather than analyzing the detailed content is not foolproof.

Bart

Anna Haynes said...

Re King of the Road's "amazed...about this "Mom" fixation" -

In politics, I suspect Luntz or his successor recommended it.
(related, my recent contribution to the Tea Party mom meme)

Mom is innocent, apple pie. Not hardened. Mom is not a smoking, cigar chomping backroom poker player trading her children's birthright for personal gain, nor a diabolical chemist plotting to turn your health into profits; and nobody would suspect Mom of doing anything of the sort.

Bob Armstrong said...

Scruffy , yes , I see we interacted back in July . The one person really need to get back to is Brian Angliss with whom I ran out of available time when the discussion got diverted into definitions of gray other than having a flat spectrum - which is the essential condition for shade to be orthogonal to issues of spectra .

WRT Venus , if you have an alternative to internal heating , which exists in virtually all planets and satellites - extreme in some satellites of Jupiter for instance - just show me the equations . There is no question that a dense CO2 atmosphere will keep heat in . Your explanation must claim that there is something unique about asymmetrically heated spheres like planets heated by the tiny disk of the sun because I think it's patently nonsensical to anyone that the center of a sphere surround by a uniform temperature in all directions will come to a higher temperature than those surroundings . In fact , that's a statement of the 0th law of thermodynamics . The basic classical SB&K equation I have implemented calculates the mean temperature for even non-uniformly shaded balls surrounded by non-uniform temperatures . If there is a way to construct a sphere with will sustain at its core a temperature more than twice that calculated value , please show us how because surely we can construct such spheres on various scales here and tap that higher core temperature to solve all our energy problems for ever .

Michael Tobis said...

Oh, right, the Venus is self-heated guy. Great.

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

"Isn’t it much more arrogant and foolish to think that you know better than the experts?"

Who's an expert? Let them demonstrate their expertise. "I'm the expert and you're a stupid stay-at-home mom tax protester" does not cut it. It degrades any claim to expertise.

Further, I also woud like to see the physics presented. Temperature measurements at any point on the Earth's surface report three sources of heat: solar radiation, radioactive decay from the Earth's interior, and residual heat from the formation of the Earth. Everything above the 3 K. cosmic background is one of these. Introduce a cold (3 K.) body into orbit around the Sun, at a distance of 93 million miles. The equibrilum temperature --must-- be a function of solar flux alone, right?--Okay, I'll admit an Io-like tidal heating.--How can the composition of the body make any difference? Composition may determine how fast the body responds to changes (in solar flux) and changes in composition (say, by outgassing) of the atmosphere may cause the body to approach equilibrium more or less quickly, but I do not see how the temperature of the body reflects anything other than orbital radius and solar flux.

Maybe I'm wrong, but "you're stupid" does not sound like an explanation to me. It makes self-proclaimed experts look defensive. And rude.

Northwoods Patriots said...

It is something to read notes on your character from people you have never met. To Lucia Tom halfacanuck Kevin Glenn Mr Pitt Mr Bressler Swami Boar Patch Cartoonaurus amac all who defended a mom.Thanks your Mom taught you rightI will try to keep this in good fun. If I offend anyone accept my apologies. Here we go
I began inviting scientists the second week in Nov so I believe I was on target with the time line. Our group knew it was unlikely anyone would come from the AGW side. I thought I could do it. I was wrong, I apologize if it seemed some ulterior motive was in mind other than trying to get information on a subject that is being taught in our schools. Further, a subject that has been scrutinized recently due to the climategate or the Himalayan glacier controversies. A debate seemed like a good idea. The comments on travel and expenses would have certainly been addressed had anyone inquired about coming. As for the premise of the pajamas media story: I noted that not only did AGW scientists decline but many were rude. BINGO! Numerous posts here only enforce my conclusion that many in this circle are let me think…let’s put it nice, let’s see Snobs! That was polite!
As for being a mother of nine and a horse trainer I was just trying to relay how confusing it is to a “simple person like me” that discussing a subject is always worthwhile. If no one on a side of an issue will agree to face off it raises curiosity.
Let’s not talk about my doubts about AGW. That was never my role in the story though it was the subject of comments I never claimed to be an expert. All I said was it is peculiar no one would sit down to defend AGW and inconsiderate people are what I encountered.
As for my uterus I must confess my uterus gave birth (and I mean birth not birther here) to 6 children. I was divorced then re-married. Now at first Mr. Tobis is thinking “maybe her IQ is higher only six!” but “divorce” calculates data enforcing lower class statistics of broken marriages so you are still assured of my stupidity! While Mr. Benson is dismayed at the prospects of my vote and my children’s vote Let’s see: A 5 year veteran w/ a masters in military intelligence–Corporation owning daughter -Master Tradesman—Plumber-Nurse- Police Officer—Biologist—taxidermist (which is an interesting thought) I have tried to stop them from voting but these simpletons don’t listen!
Did I tell you I have 8 grandchildren?
Oh no..
I train about 100 girls a year in equestrian competition (or mere mucking stalls )and have been doing such for 25 years. Most alarming (no pun intended) is that after participating in my program year after year many girls report they hope to be just like me when the grow up OMG!!!!
Calculate that Mr. Tobis! 100 kids X 9 X 25= holy cow this is more serious then AGW!
Inferior breeding programs, over population of the nincompoops’! Save the world, save the world!
So while it has been a barrel of laughs I would say to my buds Martin, Clifton, Mr. Benson, Mr. Tobis and any who degrade faceless people on the internet that I am thankful Mr. Tobis is not part of my family because the thought of having to spend holidays with the likes of him would be more then I could take! That is my last joke!
Finally to our blog spot that seemed to be the reason some commented I was a “propaganda nutter” or whatever. Our patriot group is made of people who honor GOD live for their families and love this great country. That is our base. Whatever that makes us is exactly who we are.
As for the last year it has been an amazing. It was as if an alarm clock went off in my mind in my heart saying get going your country is in trouble. Since then it seems like each day is driven by something I cannot put a reason to other than that I love this country and I fear it is slipping away.Going to GOD is my first route after that I look to the Founding Fathers.
I believe you would hear similar stories from tea party people across America. If I am an idiot or an imbecile for these thoughts then so be it!
What is important to you?
Kim Simac

Michael Tobis said...

Mr. Kirkpatrick, how does your argument account for the difference in temperature between the earth and the moon, bodies at the same distance from the sun?

Yes, all the energy of any significance for climate purposes (leaving aside ice sheet dynamics) is solar. The twist is that the radiative temperature of the sun vs that of the earth are such that the atmosphere is more transparent to inbound energy than to outbound energy.

The rest is details.

Anna Haynes said...

Greetings Kim Simac and thanks for joining us in the comments here at Dr. Tobis's blog.

I have a question, if you don't mind.

Above, you said:
"It was as if an alarm clock went off in my mind in my heart saying get going your country is in trouble. "

First - I can sympathize, I know that feeling. I think an alarm like that has gone off for many of us.

Second - do you recall (and can you tell us) just *when* this alarm clock went off, for you?
(and/or what event set it off?)

Thanks -
Anna

Hank Roberts said...

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_2AYANb0P9Fs/S0YD5Ncb1SI/AAAAAAAABbo/Qi-dOaapI_c/s400/deep+thoughts+right.jpg

Tim said...

I find this strangely relevant to this thread:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0387808/

Michael Tobis said...

Mrs. Simac,

I do apologize for how I handled the matter of your family size. It was off my main point and I should have let it slide. I handled it in a way that was sure to be disturbing to you if it were called to your attention. I didn't expect that, and now I am embarrassed by it.

I am sure you are a great asset to your family and your community.

I appreciate that you are doing God's will as you understand it. I think I have to say that I am doing the same. Part of my role, as I understand it, is to try to explain to people that what is good for themselves and their families is not the same as what is good for the world.

Now that humans have covered the earth, we must stop multiplying. The multiplying part is done. I am deeply certain of this.

This is not to say that successfully raising a large family is anything but a great accomplishment. I congratulate you for all the good you have done in your family and your community, but caution you against being too overconfident when operating at a grander scale.

I am not interested in a debate about climate science with Willie Soon or anybody. I don't believe the debate format is useful, and for pretty much the reason you found outrageous. I don't know what to do about that outrage. The fact is that this is basically correct. A debate is not the best way for people to learn about a body of knowledge.

I would be willing to talk about sustainability issues to any group you care to propose in a non-debate format, next time I am in Wisconsin. I am usually up there around Thanksgiving time. You could also probably attract various faculty at UW and U Minn to talk to you.

No scientist wants to do this in a hostile environment. We have learned our lesson. While we have been studying the earth, others have been studying debating strategies. It's not doing anybody any good for science experts to lose debates to people who are mostly debating experts.

ourchangingclimate said...

Malcolm Kirkpatrick,

You can make a similar, superficially believable reasoning against your doctor’s diagnosis, saying how utterly unlikely it is that microscopic things that you cannot even see could possibly influence your health. Granted, a sensitive doctor wouldn’t respond with “you’re stupid”, but that doesn’t make your reasoning any more right. And you're better off by not (implicitly or explicitly) accusing your doctor of trying to fool you and being full of it. (http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2009/10/15/web-iquette-for-climate-discussions/)

Greenhouse gases affect the energy balance of the planet, by letting less outgoing IR radiation leave to outer space. Without any greenhouse gases, the average temperature on earth would be some 30 degrees K colder than it currently is. Check out http://www.aip.org/history/climate/co2.htm

Bart

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

"The New York Times has errors literally every single day, and sometimes they are significant errors. But news media don't act as if the NYT is totally unreliable and built on a hoax."

Maybe "news media" wouldn't, but if the NYT's errors are consistently in one direction and advance a partisan agenda, the rest of us will.

"You can make a similar, superficially believable reasoning against your doctor’s diagnosis, saying how utterly unlikely it is that microscopic things that you cannot even see could possibly influence your health."

How is this similar? Please explain how the equilibrium temperature of an inert body depends on anything other than the distance from the sun.

"...you're better off by not (implicitly or explicitly) accusing your doctor of trying to fool you and being full of it."

So's he.

Why are anti-malarials sold over the counter in Africa but require a visit to the doctor's office in the US? I went to a doctor's office and explained my itinerary to the nurse. She disappeared. The doctor emerged after 1/2 hour, spent two minutes in conversation, during which he spoke of sickle-cell anemia and the resistance it confers among carriers (I'm white). As a friend said, "Did he also explain why they have flat noses and curly hair?" He had to justify his salary, when the nurse alone was more than I needed.

I haven't seen a doctor in 20 years.

Pangolin said...

Michael,

Other than a slight correction as to the word order of the OP in the sentence regarding science and data there is nothing to apologize about. The tone of what was said was correct if the exact wording wasn't.

As the fourth of five children I can fairly say that childrearing and complex outside interests do not mix well. While mom was running a hospital our lives suffered; there are only so many hours in a day. My mother's five children had exactly five grandchildren and stopped. Population explosion was well understood in our household since at least the seventies.

It might be also fair to mention that the family responsibilities of having nine children do not always decrease when the youngest reaches adulthood. There are potential grandchildren, adults with illnesses or disabilities, weddings, etc. I find your criticism accurate and the protests of some kind of conservative feminism as so much hooey.

This comment forum has become the equivalent of one adult trying to talk over an auditorium of schoolchildren. The majority may be louder but it is unlikely to be correct. Does anyone here refer to a peer-reviewed paper disputing AGW? No? Shocking.

Michael Tobis said...

Don't worry too much about the comments, Pangolin.

I am looser as a moderator when I get Moranoed than otherwise. Normally, most of these comments would not appear in my moderation queue, and if they did, a good fraction of them would have been rejected.

Michael Tobis said...

Malcolm Kirkpatrick:

"Please explain how the equilibrium temperature of an inert body depends on anything other than the distance from the sun."

Seriously?

Try googling "greenhouse effect". Perhaps you haven't heard of it?

Venus is proof enough that distance from the sun is not enough.

Why is Venus, despite its greater distance from the sun and higher albedo, hotter than Mercury?

Michael Tobis said...

Bob Armstrong, I am not censoring you, I am creating something I (and others) find interesting. That is, I am editing. Please take your theory elsewhere.

Unless you come up with a dramatically more credible explanation of Venus than you have, I consider your theory as refuted. I do not find it sufficiently interesting to my readers to continue the conversation.

If you have a URL of your own, I will be happy to direct readers who believe otherwise there. Otherwise, please go away.

Michael Tobis said...

For those interested, Bob Armstrong's theories are on display at cosy.com.

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

"Venus is proof enough that distance from the sun is not enough."

Venus and Mercury. Okay.

eric144 said...

The basic problem here is that scientists are wage slaves. They aren't allowed to have personal opinions their owners don't approve of..

They should keep their stupid mouths shut, do what they are told, and stop pretending they are human beings. They are wage slaves and outside their wage slavery, my experience is that they are thick.

I have a brother who has published several papers in the Lancet. He is dumber than James Hansen and that takes some doing. Hansen, the liberal who endorses extreme eco nazi books.

Pangolin said...

"The basic problem here is that scientists are wage slaves. They aren't allowed to have personal opinions their owners don't approve of..

They should keep their stupid mouths shut, do what they are told, and stop pretending they are human beings. They are wage slaves and outside their wage slavery, my experience is that they are thick."-eric144


Actually, scientists are almost always paid a salary that comes with a contract to a university or government institution. By the time their names get to the tops of papers they have tenure or something equivalent that allows them to say what they like.

In order to get a tenure track position in the sciences the majority of your time must be spent researching and producing research papers; usually as a junior member of a team. The time left is spent teaching undergraduates, grading papers, sleeping and eating in that order. Lack of sleep or food is never sufficient excuse to miss a teaching assignment or fail to grade papers promptly. I watched a brother go through this process.

As such scientists frequently do not have the time or energy to develop outside interests in football, or vehicle repair or other "manly" hobbies. They are specialists in their fields. You do not ask a buddy from the office to do your gall bladder surgery or a neighbor to perform a root canal unless they have the proper certifications. Unless the question at hand is involved in the a particular scientists specialty he will have no more information on it than a random stranger off the street. Possibly less if they are working particularly hard. That isn't being "thick;" that is being focused. Anybody who gets a paper published in Lancet is pretty much at the top of their field. They don't have time for much else.