Kristof States it Plain

Nicholas Kristof has a good column in today’s New York Times. Here’s a taste:

From Singapore to Japan, politicians pretend to be smarter and better- educated than they actually are, because intellect is an asset at the polls. In the United States, almost alone among developed countries, politicians pretend to be less worldly and erudite than they are (Bill Clinton was masterful at hiding a brilliant mind behind folksy Arkansas sayings about pigs).

Alas, when a politician has the double disadvantage of obvious intelligence and an elite education and then on top of that tries to educate the public on a complex issue — as Al Gore did about climate change — then that candidate is derided as arrogant and out of touch.

The dumbing-down of discourse has been particularly striking since the 1970s. Think of the devolution of the emblematic conservative voice from William Buckley to Bill O’Reilly.

Well said!

I do have two little nitpicks, however. I really wish people would stop talking about “believing in” evolution. “Believing in” something is what you do when the something can not be supported with evidence. And I also wish people would stop making the joke where examples of poeple getting dumber and less sophisticated over time is taken as evidence that Darwin was wrong. That sort of naive progressivism was silly even in Darwin’s time.

Oh, and look for Bill O’Reilly to huff and puff on his show tonight about being labelled a conservative. He’s an independent and a straight talker, dammit.

Comments

  1. #1 royniles
    March 31, 2008

    What’s the politically correct way to refer to evolution then? “You know I really think there’s something to that otherwise unbelievable proposition?”

    And isn’t getting dumber more related to evolution in that the problems are getting harder? Oh I get it, brains should have been evolving accordingly, but they aren’t? But isn’t God supposed to be the great tinkerer in the sky?

  2. #2 MartinM
    March 31, 2008

    What’s the politically correct way to refer to evolution then?

    Presumably, I accept evolution.

  3. #3 Gerard Harbison
    March 31, 2008

    Al Gore’s ‘intelligence’ is by no means obvious to me. He got 1325 SATs, which isn’t dreadful, but is well below the 1490 average for a Harvard admit. He got a D in Nat. Sci. 6, a ‘science for poets’ course, and a C+ in Nat. Sci. 118. He took no college level math at all, and his high-school calculus grades were Cs.

  4. #4 Jason Rosenhouse
    March 31, 2008

    Gerard-

    Where did you get all this information about Gore’s grades and test scores?

    And surely you’re not arguing that grades and test scores are the proper measure of a person’s intelligence? That Gore’s intellectual acumen is not obvious to you simply reflects badly on your own intelligence.

  5. #5 JimCH
    March 31, 2008

    Gerald…
    Just to advance the point that Jason made. I’m sure that you, like most, have heard the anecdote about Einstein & his less than stellar math grades.

  6. #7 Mike
    March 31, 2008

    For another “believe in” moment… from Obama (Gould is everywhere!)

    Q: York County was recently in the news for a lawsuit involving the teaching of intelligent design. What’s your attitude regarding the teaching of evolution in public schools?

    A: “I’m a Christian, and I believe in parents being able to provide children with religious instruction without interference from the state.

    But I also believe our schools are there to teach worldly knowledge and science. I believe in evolution, and I believe there’s a difference between science and faith. That doesn’t make faith any less important than science.

    It just means they’re two different things. And I think it’s a mistake to try to cloud the teaching of science with theories that frankly don’t hold up to scientific inquiry.”

  7. #8 JimCH
    March 31, 2008

    Gerald stated that; “Al Gore’s ‘intelligence’ is by no means obvious to me.” Then, he listed his grades as an indicator for his doubt. I will assume that Gerald got Gore’s grade data from the same source that tomh linked, which also reports; “Though his IQ numbers and aptitude test scores were well above average, his grades were uneven…”. Interesting that Gerald weighted grades so mightily in his metric for Gore’s intelligence yet the general results of the test designed to, well … um, measure intelligence seemingly did not influence his opinion.

  8. #9 Left_Wing_Fox
    March 31, 2008

    Hmm, I guess I’m less concerned about “believe”, mostly because I take that word as being orthagonal to evidence: I.e. you can believe in something despite the evidence, or believe in something because of the evidence. If you want to narrow it’s usage down to mean the former, then there needs to be a word regarding the latter.

    I think given the range of possible reasons a person can hold that belief (I.e. on faith, on bad evidence, on misunderstanding, on the word of an authority, as the logical conclusion of an unproven theory, or on understanding of reliable and factual information) “belief” is probably a good catch-all term for a person’s position on a given subject.

    For framing purposes, perhaps the word “accept” might work better. But again, I think that’s splitting hairs.

  9. #10 SLC
    March 31, 2008

    Re Gerard Harbison

    I am curious as to where Prof. Harbison got the number 1490 as tha average College Board score for an entering Harvard freshman. When I was applying to graduate school, admittedly a million years ago, the college with the highest average entering College Board score was Cal Tech, at 1390. By the way, Prof. Harbisons’ hero, George W. Bush had a College Board score of 1217 which is decidedly below average at Yale. I understand he also got a D in a survey Astronomy course there.

  10. #11 Mike
    March 31, 2008

    Fox,

    Other words:

    faith: unjustified belief
    bad evidence: false belief (if bad means what I think it does)
    misunderstanding: ignorant belief
    authority: unjustifed belief
    logical conclusion of unproven theory: non-empirical belief if it involves claims about the world as it is in fact is.
    reliabale and factual belief: justified true belief

    they may all be true or false, but there is a difference I think. I may be all wet though, as I am not an epistomologist.

  11. #12 kevin
    March 31, 2008

    but today’s Kristoff is typical drivel:

    “But here’s something for the McCain campaign to remember: Democracies don’t always elect the man who has done the most for his country.”

    what? a) as if dictatorships do? and McCain has done the most? for who?

    “One can lament this “progress” of modern democratic politics, away from rewarding real merit based on past achievement, toward a present-oriented shallowness and a future-oriented wishfulness. One can regret that in our day, historical memory is so short, respect for past accomplishments is so thin, and gratitude for service rendered is so lacking.”

    what? if historical memory was longer everyone would know what a hack he is and how wrong he is all the time. We are supposed to be grateful to McCain? for felating Bush so many times?

    “McCain knows this. As an elected official, he’s never rested on his P.O.W. laurels, remarkable though they are..”

    Rested on his laurels?! what? bombing and killing women and children and then getting shot down oh yeah thems good credentials. and anyway McCain mentions he was a POW in just about every conversation….he dosn’t have that many ideas or think that clearly anymore.

    “Candidate McCain should be working overtime on a broad reform agenda ”

    OH Please…

  12. #13 Art
    March 31, 2008

    There are two sides to evolution. No, not ‘is it real’ or not.

    Evolution is a simple observable documented and well established fact. Species change over time. Even most of the Creationists, bless their twisted little minds, admit to what they call ‘micro-evolution’, minor changes in large species or larger changes in microorganisms, as opposed to what they describe as ‘macro-evolution’, creation of new species.

    So even they admit to evolution, as observable fact, being ‘real’. There is no need to believe in this. Any more than there is any major debate about the existence of the sun or that it rises generally in a direction we call East and sets in the general direction we call West.

    (Actually, as you science types well know, this is a bit of a over simplification.because the sun doesn’t rise or set. Not in the wider context of the solar system. The horizon recedes and rises. Letting the light be seen or blocked from out perspective.)

    Completely different, but related, is the ‘theory of evolution’. An addressing of the current understanding about how evolution occurs. This is the nut-and-bolts mechanism and science of evolution and its finer points are constantly under revision and subject to debate.

  13. #14 SLC
    April 1, 2008

    1. In a previous comment, I stated that the average College Board Score for entering freshman at Cal Tech was 1390 at the time I was applying to colleges. After some reflection, remembering that this was a million years ago, I now recall that the 1390 figure was actually the cutoff point (unless there were special circumstances such as winning a science fair first prize) so that the average was somewhat higher. I don’t know what the average was at that time.

    2. I seem to recall reading that the scoring for the College Board Tests was changed a few years ago so that it is difficult to compare such scores today vs the scores of 40 years ago, when Gore and Bush were applying to colleges.

    3. Since Prof. Harbison has raised the issue, it would be instructive to compare the College Board scores of the three candidates of today. I would be willing to bet a considerable sum that Senator Obama and Senator Clinton had much higher scores then did Senator McCain.

  14. #15 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    April 1, 2008

    Al Gore’s ‘intelligence’ is by no means obvious to me. He got 1325 SATs, which isn’t dreadful, but is well below the 1490 average for a Harvard admit.

    The American age of unreason reaches even to the highest levels; I heard that half of Harvard admittees are below average!

  15. #16 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    April 1, 2008

    “Believing in” something is what you do when the something can not be supported with evidence.

    That’s not the way I use the word. I take “believe” to mean to hold something to be true. To believe something based on evidence or rational argument is ok, to believe something based on faith is not.

  16. #17 Left_Wing_Fox
    April 1, 2008

    Mike: Right, but my point is that for a political survey like this, trying to determine what opinions people hold of the world, the term “believe” is perfectly acceptable as a statement of personal opinion held regardless of the veracity or level of understanding of that opinion.

  17. #18 conradg
    April 1, 2008

    And surely you’re not arguing that grades and test scores are the proper measure of a person’s intelligence? That Gore’s intellectual acumen is not obvious to you simply reflects badly on your own intelligence.

    I thought it was pretty obvious that Gore, while smarter than the average politician, is not very smart compared to, well, actual smart people. The guy is clearly just slightly above the Oprah level of scientific comprehension. His movie on global warming makes large and obvious scientific errors that Gore himself isn’t even able to comprehend. Nor does he really care. As with most people who are just somewhat above middle-brow intelligence, he doesn’t really care about getting things right in a scientific manner, he just wants science to support his political agenda.

    Not that he’s unsympathetic to scientific causes. He really did help get the internet going. But jeez, what kind of moron is it who loses to George Bush in 2000 after eight years of the most successful economic expansion and popular Democratic president in our lifetimes? How smart can he really be?

    As for SAT scores, his performance in life pretty well matches those scores. Above average, but not exceptional.

  18. #19 conradg
    April 1, 2008

    BTW, regarding test scores, I recall that back in the mid-70′s, when I was applying to schools (around the same time as Gore), the average Harvard SAT scores were about 1400-1420. A 1325 Harvard SAT score was a pretty good indication of a legacy admission. Gore’s family background certainly propelled him above many better qualified candidates. THe fact that Gore got the best possible private school education and had the best possible cultural advantages suggests that he just wasn’t all that bright, but probably beleived himself to be based on his upbringing and all the people around him telling him how great he’d be one day. Same problem as Kerry, who was also of rather middling intelligence and grades, but felt entitled to high office based on his own grandiose self-image. And let’s not even mention Bush…

  19. #20 Tyler DiPietro
    April 1, 2008

    “His movie on global warming makes large and obvious scientific errors that Gore himself isn’t even able to comprehend.”

    Such as?

  20. #21 slpage
    April 1, 2008

    “…Prof. Harbisons’ hero, George W. Bush had a College Board score of 1217 which is decidedly below average at Yale. I understand he also got a D in a survey Astronomy course there.”

    Plus, he was a cheerleader, for Christ’s sake…

  21. #22 conradg
    April 1, 2008
    “His movie on global warming makes large and obvious scientific errors that Gore himself isn’t even able to comprehend.”

    Such as?

    I don’t recall the details, but there were many reviews by scientists, quite a few of whom actually supported the general concept, that pointed out serious scientific errors. You could look up some of those reviews via google if you care to research it further. The point is, Gore didn’t even care. He was more interested in making a political film than a scientific one.

  22. #23 Tyler DiPietro
    April 1, 2008

    I’m not sure what your criteria is for a “serious scientific error”. The reaction to Gore’s film among scientific critics was generally positive, with quibbles here and there. Very few climatologists dispute the reality of AGW, but many on the denialist fringe made a lot of noise.

  23. #24 Crudely Wrott
    April 2, 2008

    Personally, I do not believe in evolution. Rather, I assign it a high degree of credibility based upon evidence. The nature of the evidence is plain to see when I contrast it to other observations to which I assign a high degree of probability. Further, the evidence in question is demonstrable in that it can be shared without anecdote; that is, the evidence has qualities that are not dependent on my own subjective interpretation or explanation. It stands on its own and is available to anyone independent of any description of mine.

    I do believe that I love my mother and that my children love me. I assign a high degree of probability (one) to these claims. The difference is that the evidence for these claims do not posses any quality that is independent of my personal interpretation. It is not freely available without my anecdotal testimony.

    As far as I can tell, this is the fundamental difference between accepting something as probably so and believing something is so.

    Accepting something as being true is, of course, provisional; new evidence can change certainty and the probability is subject to change. Believing something is so brooks no such meddling by fact or observation except in those cases where new evidence is subjectively interpreted as strengthening certainty.

    I read Kristof’s column and was duly impressed and heartened. Most refreshing during this silly season of political posing and posturing. More, Nick. Please.

  24. #25 Kevin
    April 2, 2008

    “but today’s Kristoff is typical drivel:”

    oooops .. I should check before I type.

    I was refering to, of course, William Kristol

    .. never mind…

  25. #26 conradg
    April 2, 2008

    I’m not sure what your criteria is for a “serious scientific error”. The reaction to Gore’s film among scientific critics was generally positive, with quibbles here and there. Very few climatologists dispute the reality of AGW, but many on the denialist fringe made a lot of noise.

    Try this article for starters:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2007/10/11/scigore111.xml

  26. #27 conradg
    April 2, 2008

    Speaking of serious scientific errors in the debate on global warming, why hasn’t this provoked more discussion of the kind of alarmist warnings coming from Al Gore and others:

    http://www.dailytech.com/Researcher+Basic+Greenhouse+Equations+Totally+Wrong/article10973.htm

  27. #28 MartinM
    April 2, 2008

    Try this article for starters

    Yeah, when I want to know about physics, I always ask a judge. Pretty sure Tim Lambert over at Deltoid collected some actual scientific responses to that, if you can find the relevant posts.

    Speaking of serious scientific errors in the debate on global warming, why hasn’t this provoked more discussion of the kind of alarmist warnings coming from Al Gore and others

    Maybe it’s just crap. Do you have any basis for supposing that it’s worthy of discussion?

  28. #29 Tyler DiPietro
    April 2, 2008

    “Lambert over at Deltoid collected some actual scientific responses to that, if you can find the relevant posts.”

    Indeed, he has already done exactly that. It appears conradg did not research the topic very thoroughly, this is an old, long debunked claim.

  29. #30 pough
    April 2, 2008

    For the nine “errors” (the judge used the scare quotes!) I like Hrynyshyn’s write-up. He gives the talk, so he has a good idea of what gets presented (including some changes).

    scienceblogs.com/islandofdoubt/2007/10/gore_take_the_prize_british_ju.php

    As for Miskolczi and the Daily Tech article, I’ve only seen a few off-hand comments about it, most (all?) of which regard it as a joke. William Connolly says, “Runaway Greenhouse is a strawman. I’m sure someone will take the paper to bits properly. The obvious problem for it is to explain the ice age cycle.” I get the impression that Moskolczi gets climate science like Behe gets evolution.

    A few more comments from the writers at RealClimate:

    “This paper is more nonsense of a piece with the unpublished MS by Gerlich and Tseuschner, though with the difference that this one is published in an obscure Hungarian weather journal rather than not being published at all. The main use of this paper is as an exercise in ‘spot the errors’ for a grad student in radiative transfer. We could comment on it, but on the whole it’s more worthwhile to spend time commenting on things that have passed review in the more major journals and don’t have such obvious flaws (even if they nonetheless have flaws).” -raypierre

    “I’d start with his assumption (g) which I have never seen applied to the Earth’s atmosphere before and the logic in section 3.1 – there he equates E_u (the upward LW from the atmosphere, a flux) with the total internal energy of atmosphere. That would appear to be an fundamental error in units (or description). The erroneous conclusion in section 3.3 that the greenhouse effect does not depend on optical depth presumably arises from this (i.e. the total mass of the atmosphere determines the gravitational PE (assuming hydrostacy), which sets the internal energy (via assumption ‘g’) and therefore the outward LW). None of this makes any sense, but I haven’t worked through his algebra in any detail (so it’s possible I’ve read this wrong). If you (or someone else) wants to do so, we’ll post it up.” – gavin

    realclimate.org/index.php?p=538#comment-83167

  30. #31 MartinM
    April 2, 2008

    Miskolczi’s making rather odd use of the virial theorem. As I recall, the relationship between potential and kinetic energy only strictly holds if the derivative of moment of inertia with respect to time is constant. Seems like a shaky assumption here. It’s possible that it’s a close enough approximation, but after my admittedly superficial skim of the paper, I don’t believe he addressed the issue at all.

  31. #32 conradg
    April 2, 2008

    No, I don’t know the scientific validity of the Hungarians’ work, but it does seem worth discussion. I don’t think the fact that it comes from Hungarians means that it’s dismissible, any more than the wierd ppaper on “special relativity” written by a guy working in the Swiss patent office in 1905 should be dismissed either. Whatever become of that guy anyway? The general notion that these computer climate models are incapable of creating serious predictive scenarios that match reality seem valid, and this may be just one of many reasons why.

    As for Al Gore’s taking liberties with the science, it seems pretty clear he did. The guys at RealClimate simply seem afraid to admit that Gore is more a propagandist than someone who actually understands the science, because he’s on their side. And saying that the runaway greenhouse argument is a strawman, while true, is a serious indictment of Al Gore’s movie, and his overall message, which is heavily weighted towards the notion that global warming is leading to the end of civilization, etc. The serious scientific attitude seems to be far more cautious and modest, and far less alarmist than he makes it out to be. And way, way less certain of what’s really going on, or will go on in the future.

  32. #33 Tyler DiPietro
    April 2, 2008

    “As for Al Gore’s taking liberties with the science, it seems pretty clear he did.”

    Even if we accept your premise, even the judge in the case you cite explicitly states that Gore’s film was “broadly accurate”.

    And try to stick to actual claims made rather than your subjective impression of what someone’s claims are “heavily weighted toward.”

  33. #34 JimCH
    April 2, 2008

    conradg stated:

    I don’t think the fact that it comes from Hungarians means that it’s dismissible [sic], any more than the wierd [sic] ppaper [sic] on “special relativity” written by a guy working in the Swiss patent office in 1905 should be dismissed either.

    This is not a valid comparison perhaps because you miss the intent of the point. During the cold war Soviet bloc countries were, as I’m sure you know, cut off from the rest of the technologically advanced world — including their scientists. As a result of being in a peer review/discussion vacuum some strange ideas were produced in the lab. This seems to be a result of having a vague idea of some marvelous end result but no means to the scaffold on which it is built. Since the cold war has been over for going on 20 years now you would think that that problem would have worked itself out by now. This just goes to show how richly interwoven the science-peer meme is. I see this all the time in the papers that I read in my own field of deformation tectonics from scientists from the former Soviet bloc.

  34. #35 conradg
    April 2, 2008

    Here’s a link to a guy who tries to do a balanced evaluation of the errors in Gore’s film, using both the Real Climate defense of Gore and the Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI)’s list of 35 errors in the film. It looks like a good analysis and has links to the relevant sites and articles. I can’t evaluate his evaluation, but it doesn’t sound at all crazy, and tries to be balanced.

    http://globalwarming-factorfiction.com/2007/10/26/35-inconvenient-truths-the-errors-in-al-gores-movie-part-1-of-5/

  35. #36 conradg
    April 2, 2008

    JimCh,

    Thanks for the Cold War history, but the Hungarian in question actually worked for NASA, so he isn’t merely some decadent product of lingering soviet medievalism. I assume NASA doesn’t hire people from the eastern bloc as a form of affirmative action, but actually felt he was a highly qualified scientist. Anyway, this is just ad hominem attacks, not scientific discussion. If the guy’s analysis is valid, it’s valid. If not, not. Don’t pretend our government doesn’t play politics with science either.

  36. #37 Gerry L
    April 3, 2008

    Kristof quotes heavily from Susan Jacoby’s The Age of American Unreason, which I’m working my way through. I noticed early on that she uses the phrase “believe in evolution.” But I put a marker in the book and made a mental note to send her an email when I read the part about the male penguin tucking the egg in his FUR to protect it from the cold.

    We can argue about whether “believe” is the appropriate verb to use with evolution, but no way do penguins have fur!

  37. #38 JimCH
    April 3, 2008

    conradg…
    You are equivocating on the issue. Pough reported a quote stating that, “it [the paper] was published in an obscure Hungarian weather journal rather than not be published at all”. You responded, “I don’t think the fact that it comes from Hungarians means …” After this you lectured me about NASA for some strange reason. But what is being described happens all the time — someone needs/wants more publications next to their name so they use a pet project that they haven’t rigorously pursued to publish in shaky-science journals. These publications are rampant in former eastern bloc countries, for the reasons that I described, & if he happens to be Hungarian himself (as you say) he would know just where to go to get a “quick publication fix”. If working for NASA makes him a qualified researcher (as you suggest) then it is his integrity that we should question.
    Now, as for the “balanced evaluation of the errors in Gore’s film…” if we go to the web-page you link us to they use for their analysis, as you mention, a group with a very pure sounding name, “Science & Public Policy Institute” (SPPI), complete with a green landscape in their web-header. I just picked one of their Gore “errors” at random (ERROR 8 Polar bear “dying”). They state:

    Gore says a scientific study shows that polar bears are being killed swimming long distances to find ice that has melted away because of “global warming.” They are not. The study, by Monnett & Gleason (2005), mentioned just four dead bears. They had died in an exceptional storm, with high winds and waves in the Beaufort Sea.

    If we go to the Monnett & Gleason (2005) paper we find:

    During September 2004 an unusual number of bears were seen swimming offshore (10 of 51 (20%) versus 12 of 315 (4%) in 1986-2003). Following an abrupt windstorm, 4 dead bears were seen floating far offshore (versus 0 in all previous years). Those bears are believed to have drowned as a result of the storm. The survey has about 10% coverage so it is likely that many other bears also drowned but were not seen.

    The SPPI account then is a little misleading, wouldn’t you say? If you wonder why such nice people with such a nice sounding name — complete with a green scene in their header, mind you — would be something other than advertised we need just look up their president’s bio. Seems he spent 20-so-odd years as chief of staff for two republican members of congress (one from Texas & one from Arizona); at the very least this should be a red flag. So, perhaps it is you that shouldn’t “pretend our government doesn’t play politics with science”. Oh, & if you don’t mind, please stop making other people do your homework for you.

  38. #39 MartinM
    April 3, 2008

    No, I don’t know the scientific validity of the Hungarians’ work, but it does seem worth discussion.

    The first part of that sentence rather undercuts the value of the second.

    I don’t think the fact that it comes from Hungarians means that it’s dismissible, any more than the wierd ppaper on “special relativity” written by a guy working in the Swiss patent office in 1905 should be dismissed either.

    That patent clerk published in Annalen der Physik.

  39. #40 SLC
    April 3, 2008

    Re MartinM

    The important point being that Annalen der Physik was, at the time, not an obscure physics journal, but one of the most prestigious and rigorous such publications in the world, quite on a par with its American counterpart, the Physical Review (in fact, it still is).

  40. #41 conradg
    April 3, 2008

    JimCH,

    Please, let’s not get nasty.

    I’m not suggesting the Hungarian’s theory is true, only that I wish it were discussed thoroughly enough by qualified people to see if it is so. I’m not one of those people, but I rely on the dispassionate examination of these matters by such people to form my own views on the matter. Whatever this guy’s qualifications are, he’s clearly good enough to be hired by NASA, so I think his paper is worth a serious look. Everything you’ve said in trying to impugn him because of his coming from eastern Europe is scientifically irrelevant, and I think you know that, and should simply withdraw that line of argument.

    As for SPPI, I didn’t link to them specfically because they are an interest group with an agenda. I linked to an independent guy who was trying to evaluate their claims, and if you read the link you would have noted that he invalidated a number of their objections to Gore’s movie, while confirming about 20.

    As for the polar bear death issue, the link I gave pointed out that this incident is a single incident which has no overall scientific validity in regards to global warming or the threats to polar bear populations, particularly in light of how polar bear populations have grown tremendously in recent decades. Why do you complain about my not doing “homework” when you are not doing much of your own? I’m not trying to promote some agenda on global warming, I’m just commenting on Gore’s lack of scientific integrity, which you haven’t addressed as of yet.

  41. #42 conradg
    April 3, 2008

    Tyler,

    I’m not about to run through every single claim of Gore’s. Others have done so. The point I’m making is that Gore’s movie and his overall message has been highly alarmist and distorted, and that he’s been free and easy with the facts in order to create the most alarmist atmosphere possible for this debate, which I think is counterproductive to dealing with the issue sensibly and sanely. He’s the guy who has said that global warming is the greatest threat to our civilization in its history, and that it could mean the end of the world if we don’t do something about it. I consider that to be scientific malarkey, and I don’t know of any scientific studies that support it. So what’s your beef?

  42. #43 JimCH
    April 3, 2008

    conradg…

    Everything you’ve said in trying to impugn him because of his coming from eastern Europe is scientifically irrelevant, and I think you know that, and should simply withdraw that line of argument.

    I should have learned this from the “Is Richard Dawkins a fundamentalist?” thread, but I’m afraid that your reading comprehension skills are just too god-awful to bother with.

  43. #44 conradg
    April 3, 2008

    I should have learned this from the “Is Richard Dawkins a fundamentalist?” thread, but I’m afraid that your reading comprehension skills are just too god-awful to bother with.

    Based on my experience in that thread, I will take this as a withdrawal of your put-down of this Hungarian’s ideas based on his ethnic background. I understand that some people here simply can’t be gracious, and I’m sure this is the best you can do.

  44. #45 MartinM
    April 4, 2008

    So pointing out that, for example, Rivista di Biologia is a low-impact journal with a long history of publishing crankery is actually a slam against all Italians. Who would have guessed?

  45. #46 royniles
    April 4, 2008

    Who would have guessed? In a true or false world, it would have to be the inferentially challenged.

  46. #47 conradg
    April 4, 2008

    So pointing out that, for example, Rivista di Biologia is a low-impact journal with a long history of publishing crankery is actually a slam against all Italians. Who would have guessed?

    Only if it were used as an argument against a scientific theory that an Italian came up with. Isn’t it rather obvious that a scientific theory stands or falls on its own merits, and not the ethnic background of the theorist? Or is that too complex a concept for you to grasp?

  47. #48 royniles
    April 4, 2008

    Perfect example of the deliberately missed inference.

  48. #49 conradg
    April 5, 2008

    Roy,

    I agree. You’ve missed the point entirely.

  49. #50 royniles
    April 5, 2008

    Conrad, I don’t miss your points as you never successfully make any. It’s hard to miss something that either was never there, or whatever was there was something one is glad to have gone.

    The closest explanation of the way you think you are thinking and why you wonder why nobody else thinks so is to liken you to the way thinking works in those with mild autism.

    I quote from a study that seems to explain it well:
    “The faculties of induction may be undeveloped completely in people
    with Autism. But given the fact that at least some people with Autism
    develop inductive faculties to some degree it seems plausible that a control
    system which regulates inferencing processes may in fact be covering or
    masking a normative faculty for invoking the three modes of inference, thus
    forcing the individual to favor the deductive and abductive processes and
    rendering the individual unable to access the inductive processes. In other
    words, there may be an person with Autism with intact normative brain
    faculties which support all three modes of inference, but such a control
    system might only be allowing the individual to invoke and sustain deductive
    and abductive processes exclusive of the inductive processes.”

    As you seem to see inference where none exists as often as you see none where it’s clear to others, the progression of all your arguments and responses to those of others clearly fits the above pattern.
    You simply cannot get from the specific to the general without error (and vice versa). You always stumble when it comes to anything like a correct inference. And there’s no way anyone can show you that except by using the same sort of inference that you are unable to grasp.

    Look at the way you try to connect Gore’s college grades and related items to judgement of the quality of something based as much on experience and on input from others as on any native intelligence. You cannot reliably infer that one has to be directly connected to the other, and consider that a significant step in determining his overall competence to do, and have done, what others think he has done well, even if not perfectly. There are many more steps to take before you could or should make any relevant connection between his suitability for a Nobel prize and his performance in an educational setting – which had entirely different goals and consequences for degrees of achievement.

    You just can’t handle inference with any degree of competence, and demonstrate that over and over. And have had that pointed out to you at almost every turn.

    Complex concept? I doubt if you ever saw one that someone else didn’t have to help you memorize.

  50. #51 MartinM
    April 5, 2008

    Isn’t it rather obvious that a scientific theory stands or falls on its own merits, and not the ethnic background of the theorist?

    Yes, it is. Good job no one claimed that Miskolczi’s ethnicity was relevant, then. The first statement which even mentioned Hungary in any respect at all was the statement that the paper was “published in an obscure Hungarian weather journal.” You somehow transformed this into ‘because it comes from Hungarians, it’s dismissible’ despite the fact that this is quite clearly not what was said. The remainder of the thread consists of various people trying repeatedly to hammer this remarkably simple premise through your incredibly dense skull. The fact that you’re acting as if it’s everyone else who is having difficulty just makes it all the more entertaining.

    Just in case it still hasn’t penetrated, nobody is complaining about the fact that Miskolczi is Hungarian. We just think that the credibility of a paper can reasonably be related to the credibility of the journal it’s published in.

  51. #52 conradg
    April 5, 2008

    MartinM,

    You seem determined not to notice what you, yourself, admit. That JimCH was trying to denigrate this Hungarian’s scientific paper because it was published in an eastern European scientific journal. I think it’s rather natural that a Hungarian would publish in a Hungarian scientific journal. Is it really all that suspicious? From the account, it’s the “leading” Hungarian weather journal, whatever that means. In any case, this has little to nothing to do with the actual merits of the paper, and the ideas expressed in the paper. Science shouldn’t be bigoted in that manner. I think it’s obvious that JimCh’s attempt to dismiss this theory because it appears in a Hungarian Journal is simply silly and evading the issue. Neither you nor JimCh nor anyone else here have given ANY evidence that the journal he published his paper in has credibility problems, other than that it is an East European journal, which I am supposed to take as a prima facia case of incredibility, without any specific evidence, or I have a “dense skull.” If you can, then I will be happy to examine that evidence and take it into account. Until then, it’s a non-sequiter.

    And now, in addition to the heaping pile of bs your guys are trying to load on me because I have the audacity to think the guy’s paper should be judged on its merits, I’m getting amateur medical diagnoses of autism. You think that’s a valid debate tactic? What’s with you people here? Is Al Gore such a sacred cow that you have to go to these extremes to defend his honor?

  52. #53 conradg
    April 5, 2008

    Royniles,

    You’re just plain nuts, is my professional diagnosis.

  53. #54 royniles
    April 5, 2008

    See Conrad, you missed the inference again. I compared your way of thinking to the way some autistic brains work to demonstrate this lack of inference phenomena exists. It could also exist in what some refer to as successful sociopaths. It could also facilitate a form of masochism.. But whatever the cause, you seem to have a need to call others out in a way that you must know from experience will end up with you being called incredibly dense or worse.
    And then you call them the same or worse, and the pattern repeats itself. Is it that when or if you try a more conciliatory approach, no-one pays any attention? Is this the only way you can get some feeling that you are an equal participant in a learned discussion, so you can exhibit what you have previously referred to as your level of sophistication?
    Really now, how’s that working for you?

  54. #55 conradg
    April 6, 2008

    royniles,

    Wow, you’ve got some nerve calling anyone out for calling anyone out. What pathological condition should I compare yours to?

  55. #56 royniles
    April 6, 2008

    Well, so far I don’t have your track record for pathology. But it would suffer by comparison to yours in any case.

    You’ve managed to create a workable and ultimately satisfying (to you) scenario where in your mind people are calling you dumb because in your reality they get angry when you inevitably find them wrong, and they can’t admit it. The fact that this happens all the time just shows you that everyone else is necessarily ignorant by comparison.

    But you see, if in fact this were the case, there wold be no need to go to these lengths to prove it, as believe it or not, many of us come to these sites to learn, and that requires a recognition of relative ignorance beforehand. Those confident in their ability to teach something to others don’t need to force an admission of ignorance on these others beforehand.

  56. #57 JimCH
    April 6, 2008

    That JimCH was trying to denigrate this Hungarian’s scientific paper because it was published in an eastern European scientific journal. I think it’s rather natural that a Hungarian would publish in a Hungarian scientific journal. Is it really all that suspicious? From the account, it’s the “leading” Hungarian weather journal, whatever that means. In any case, this has little to nothing to do with the actual merits of the paper, and the ideas expressed in the paper. Science shouldn’t be bigoted in that manner. I think it’s obvious that JimCh’s attempt to dismiss this theory because it appears in a Hungarian Journal is simply silly and evading the issue.

    There is so much going on here that shows me that you really have no idea what you’re talking about, but desperately want to be taken seriously. I’ll try one last time …

    If Miskolczi’s arguments are sound, I think it is obvious to anyone reading here who has first-hand science publication knowledge that he would have submitted the manuscript to Science or Nature, etc.: the implications would be enormous. But he submitted it to the low readership quarterly Hungarian meteorological service journal, Idojaras. Why? The article is written in English.* Think of it this way: if you just made a major breakthrough in atmospheric physics that would affect every single climate calculation made (& it would), you would not submit it to Idojaras.** As mentioned, he had the choice of many high profile journals — Science, Nature, BAMS, Climatic Change, J. Climate, GRL, JGR-Atmospheres, Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics, Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics,
    Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. Yes, I know, this doesn’t mean he is wrong. We’ll have to see how climate scientists respond to the paper. But it is odd & you would know just how odd if you had much experience with this.
    Having said this, experts in the field have better things to do than spend a lot of time looking at every paper with 40 pages of equations that claim to disprove a strawman — a runaway Earth — that nobody believes anyway, that is published in an obscure meterology journal — meteorology is not identical to climate science, by the way –, & claims to contradict a large amount of well established results. As I’ve said — as is well known by practicing scientists — such papers appear all the time. A paper appears with a new result claimed. If people choose to spend some time on it, it may generate discussion. If interesting enough, & if it holds up, it will attract more citations that support it. It’s exceedingly rare for a single paper to have a major effect all by itself. Some people seem to think one paper comes along & knocks down a whole body of work. Science very rarely works that way, although some want it to.

    So, no … you got me … nobody has disproved his thesis or proved that only quackery is published in Idojaras. But, if you somehow consider that a victory then you really have no idea how this works. The problem here though is that this is all basis information for practicing scientists, so when I try to at least give you the respect of not being patronizing, by not iterating basis information to begin with, I’m accused of being “bigoted” & “evading the issue” because an ignorant & credulous wannabe just doesn’t have the tools.

    * I never stated that the particular journal has an established credibility problem. I implied that it is very likely that it might, & gave reasons for that basis. Also, I supplied an additional reason as to why he might go to a Hungarian journal with low submission standards (as opposed to a British one, or a Canadian one, or an American one) — namely, because being a Hungarian he would be familiar with that particular “landscape”.

    ** Not because it’s Hungarian but because it just isn’t a flagship publication for high-impact science research. Because the highest impact, most rigorously researched papers are not submitted to them they have to publish from what they get based on some lower standards — this is giving every benefit of doubt though, but fine.

  57. #58 conradg
    April 6, 2008

    JimCH,

    You could have saved us all a lot of trouble if you’d just said, “I don’t know whether this is valid or not.” Obviously you simply have no idea what you are talking about, and are finally willing to admit it, while yet pretending that it’s somehow my fault. At least we’ve gotten back to the beginning. Now, maybe someone who does know what they are talking about will look at the paper and see how valid it’s claims are.

  58. #59 conradg
    April 6, 2008

    Royniles,

    I did come here to learn. I asked if anyone knew whether this Hungarian’s ideas were valid or not. No one here seems to know the answer to this question, but instead people go on and on about meaningless side issues that have no bearing on the validity issue, so I haven’t learned any answers to that question, except that some of you guys are just plain creepy when it comes to your sacred cows. Why not just admit from the start you don’t know anything about the guy’s ideas and can’t comment on their validity? Is that so hard?

  59. #60 royniles
    April 6, 2008

    Conrad, in all seriousness, I think you really believe you came here to learn, or at least that’s the motive you are most conscious of. But I suggest that there are motives you are not conscious of that continually get you into trouble. And that these results are satisfying in the sense that they seem to be reinforcing whatever preconceptions are behind that unconscious motivation.
    Now, I don’t think you are stupid, regardless of your expressing that opinion that many of the rest of us are. Our emotional calculating apparatus is in fact remarkably efficient in solving problems, even in the abstract. The problem is that it’s very hard for the rational brain to know and deal with the remarkable number of inaccurate assumptions that we have stored in that part (or parts) of our cranium. It’s these assumptions that we see the need to reinforce, and paradoxically this is often when something causes fear to arise from that same part of the brain that these assumptions are vulnerable to imminent attack.
    It’s these assumptions that give us, or add to, our powers of inference. To the extent that they are inaccurate, our abilities to make accurate assessments under any known system of logic (including inherent systems) are affected accordingly. Sometimes we can make adjustments for this on a rational basis, sometimes not.
    I suggest that this is where you need to try to apply some insight, and determine causes from results, again of course by inference, but perhaps with your more rational assumptive apparatus in control of that inference.
    The fact that you would be right to point out that we could all benefit from this type of introspection doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t get particular benefit in applying it to this particular situation.
    I expect to get all sorts of flak for the inevitable inaccuracies that seem evident in my own powers of observation and related inference. But I’m not going to defend myself by appearing surprised at any such reactions. That’s not a valid defense for having been in fact inaccurate.

  60. #61 Kevin
    April 6, 2008

    “Posted by: conradg | April 3, 2008 3:03 PM ”

    Conrad, I saw the film; I read the science; I read the commentary on the IPCC; on the stupid lawsuit in England..

    Gore never makes any claims as to what is going to happen except that rising CO2 Levels and rising temps are LINKED and that Human emmissions make up the greatest part of CO2 released, and fossil fuel makes up the greater part of that.

    And in his cute little comic video he explains some hard science in a way thay I thought even someone like you would get. light energy comes in, radiated infra-rad does not get out.

    Sure he said that if either the glaciers in the north or the south or if just half of both melt from the land into the ocean, there WILL be catastropic flooding with millions displaced. what? just because its 20 years in the future and will just give a bunch of poor people a bath we don’t have to worry about it?

    Have to love the headlines: Ice melting faster than expected….New massive breakup of sea-ice speeds glacier movement to ocean….melting ice reduces friction as glaciers move faster to the sea…

    Geez Gore is such and as and his film was so lame…

  61. #62 conradg
    April 7, 2008

    Royniles,

    I appreciate the free psychoanalytic and rhetorical analysis, but I think you would do best to simply stick to the subject matter. You seem addicted to talking about anything and everything not relevant to the actual discussion. I know you mean to help, but it doesn’t.

  62. #63 conradg
    April 7, 2008

    Kevin,

    I’ve been following the global warming debate since the 1970′s, when I first read about it. I’m long since over being enthusiastic about it, and at this point I’m mildly skeptical, and not much impressed by headlines. Besides, global temperatures have been pretty flat since 1998. My sense is that just about anything might be happening, but I think the highest probability is extremely unexciting and little more than a mild temperature rise.

    As for the future, I’m quite optimistic about solar tech and it’s nearly certain potential to revolutionize energy production and put the whole AGW debate into the dustbin of obsolete problems. Might take 20-30 years to fully kick in, but as it does, carbon fuels will decline to very manageable levels that will no longer threaten the ecosystem, if that was even in the cards.

    As for Gore, I think he’s a rather shameless alarmist. Yes, I’m aware the movie doesn’t make runaway greenhouse claims, but in his speeches and public statements Gore has gone there many times, claiming that AGW is threatening civilization itself and the entire future of the earth.

    As for catastrophic flooding in 20 years, that seems unsupported by any legitimate science, but who really knows? THe question is, what is the most reasonable thing to do now? I say it’s to put money into high tech energy production, and not trying to slow down the economy with restrictions on carbon fuels. Instead, money should be put aside to help people who are suffering from such things as flooding, etc. In the long run, it’s technological advance beyond fossil fuels that’s the real answer that will help the most people, especially the poor.

  63. #64 MartinM
    April 7, 2008

    Conrad:

    I don’t think the fact that it comes from Hungarians means that it’s dismissible…

    …the Hungarian in question actually worked for NASA…

    Everything you’ve said in trying to impugn him because of his coming from eastern Europe is scientifically irrelevant…

    I will take this as a withdrawal of your put-down of this Hungarian’s ideas based on his ethnic background.

    Isn’t it rather obvious that a scientific theory stands or falls on its own merits, and not the ethnic background of the theorist?

    Me:

    …nobody is complaining about the fact that Miskolczi is Hungarian.

    Conrad again:

    You seem determined not to notice what you, yourself, admit. That JimCH was trying to denigrate this Hungarian’s scientific paper because it was published in an eastern European scientific journal.

    Yeah, I see what you did there.

  64. #65 MartinM
    April 7, 2008

    No one here seems to know the answer to this question, but instead people go on and on about meaningless side issues that have no bearing on the validity issue, so I haven’t learned any answers to that question, except that some of you guys are just plain creepy when it comes to your sacred cows. Why not just admit from the start you don’t know anything about the guy’s ideas and can’t comment on their validity? Is that so hard?

    I commented briefly on the substance of the paper, and pough quoted others who had. You’ve ignored both.

  65. #66 royniles
    April 7, 2008

    Conrad, if you recognized some of what I wrote as rhetorical analysis, then its relevance to the discussion was confirmed. Your remarkably civil reply to Kevin is clearly an improvement in style. And your argument, substantively correct or not, has taken on a more positive tone. Of course, I can’t reliably infer that these effects had any one particular cause, can I? (Rhetorical question, no reply expected.)

  66. #67 conradg
    April 7, 2008

    MartinM,

    [quote]I commented briefly on the substance of the paper, and pough quoted others who had. You’ve ignored both.[/quote]

    I did appreciate those references, even if they were inconclusive. It got lost in the various attempts at non-sequitar dismissal, however. I’m simply wondering if the big guns have really looked into this matter and seen what affect these things might have on the climate models. Apparently not. Maybe they are just taking their time and trying to be thorough, which would be good.

  67. #68 JimCH
    April 7, 2008

    You could have saved us all a lot of trouble if you’d just said, “I don’t know whether this is valid or not.” Obviously you simply have no idea what you are talking about, and are finally willing to admit it, while yet pretending that it’s somehow my fault.

    Please show me where I stated that the guy’s work is definitely not valid. All I did was try to show you why there is every reason to treat it more skeptically than usual. Finally admitting to what? That I’m not a Climatologist? Never said that I was. In fact, I stated my research area right away. You have an interesting (& by “interesting” I mean “not interesting”) way of cherry-picking & misrepresenting statements (as MartinM has illustrated nicely). “At least we’ve gotten back to the beginning”. We never left the beginning because you won’t budge on why anyone & everyone with any special knowledge won’t drop everything they’re doing to verify what special magic this guy has shown. On this, I do happen to know something about; however, you clearly do not. I’ve given reasons why picking over this guys research isn’t/shouldn’t be a priority, & you just don’t want to hear any of it … it’s a distraction. The only question for you seems to be: Hey, some guy that used to work for NASA got a paper published in an obscure Meteorology journal where what he proposes not only contradicts well established results & current thought in the discipline (Climatology not Meteorology, again not a trivial fact), it also dissolves a strawman argument COMPLETELY … so why isn’t this guy taken more seriously?

    Since I know that you are a reasonable person I’m sure that your apology will be forthcoming. Meanwhile, I’ll be waiting for it with bated breath.

  68. #69 conradg
    April 7, 2008

    “As for Al Gore’s taking liberties with the science, it seems pretty clear he did.”

    Even if we accept your premise, even the judge in the case you cite explicitly states that Gore’s film was “broadly accurate”.

    And try to stick to actual claims made rather than your subjective impression of what someone’s claims are “heavily weighted toward.”

    It’s not just my premise, it’s Al Gore’s own admitted tactic. Here he is in 2006 saying,

    In the United States of America, unfortunately we still live in a bubble of unreality. And the Category 5 denial is an enormous obstacle to any discussion of solutions. Nobody is interested in solutions if they don?t think there?s a problem. Given that starting point, I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis.

    I’m not sure how you can say I’m being unfair to Gore when he openly admits to exagerating the facts in order to “overcome” political inertia.

    As for Gore being “broadly correct”, well, anyone can be broadly correct. What matters is being specifically correct and having the right response to the right problem. If one’s tactic is to deliberately distort the facts in order to acheive a particular end, don’t be surprised if one acheives the wrong end.

  69. #70 conradg
    April 7, 2008

    JimCh,

    I’m not asking or demanding that you or anyone drop everything and make researching this guy’s paper national security priority number one. I just asked what the actual merits of the case are. You and others keep harping on the fact that it wasn’t published in a leading journal, so it’s obviously not worth taking seriously. I don’t see that as a meaningful answer. I don’t see any evidence that this guy has some anti-AGW agenda in mine. He’s not a Behe. It’s a purely technical, scientific matter, and not a political one. The guy seems to think he’s being railroaded for political reasons, however, which is why he rushed his paper into publication. I’m just wondering, politics aside, if it has any genuine merits to it. It’s really a simple matter.

  70. #71 conradg
    April 7, 2008

    JimCH,

    Btw, your claim that you never impugned the guy because he’s from eastern Europe doesn’t seem to hold up in light of this agument of yours from above:

    During the cold war Soviet bloc countries were, as I’m sure you know, cut off from the rest of the technologically advanced world — including their scientists. As a result of being in a peer review/discussion vacuum some strange ideas were produced in the lab. This seems to be a result of having a vague idea of some marvelous end result but no means to the scaffold on which it is built. Since the cold war has been over for going on 20 years now you would think that that problem would have worked itself out by now. This just goes to show how richly interwoven the science-peer meme is. I see this all the time in the papers that I read in my own field of deformation tectonics from scientists from the former Soviet bloc.

    As I say, interesting history, but not specifically relevant to this or any other individual case. It does seem to argue that he shouldn’t be taken seriously simply because he’s hungarian.

  71. #72 JimCH
    April 7, 2008

    conradg…
    In the Gore quote above that you offer I’m guessing that you’re homing-in on the phrase “over-representation of factual presentations” as the smoking gun. Over-representation does not mean over-state; it means, in this case, to bombard the public with the facts. You know, “get out there & be more of a presence than the deneiers” … “over-represent them”. Didn’t it cross your mind as odd that someone would spell-out their diabolical scheme for the public record? If that wasn’t the offensive phrase then I missed it & you’ll be kind enough to point it out to me.

  72. #73 JimCH
    April 7, 2008

    conradg…
    You took my statement out of temporal context. My statement followed this one of yours:

    No, I don’t know the scientific validity of the Hungarians’ work, but it does seem worth discussion. I don’t think the fact that it comes from Hungarians means that it’s dismissible…

    I took from your statement that he was still in Hungary. I only learned after you made looking into the particulars of his life a necessity that he was not. I didn’t point it out because it would have further obscured what became the real issue; that he used a low profile publication to publish the paper in … & the discipline changing implications of what he was trying to show in a low profile publication … & that it isn’t a publication for Climatology … & a part of the paper was to knock down a strawman … & … what else … because he is a Hungarian scientist he would know that there’s a lot of journals in Hungary with sub-par submission standards & therefore would know just where to go.
    If you come away with only 2 points they are these: (1), I am not saying that it is definitely spotty work. Never did (I can read most of it but not all, I’m an Earth scientist but admittedly not a Climatologist). I am saying that there is so many questionable variables regarding it that it would be difficult for a practicing scientist in that field to make it a priority when there is so much other work out there that does not come with all the questionable baggage … it would be a big gamble for time expenditure. (2), That point (1) is relevant to the discussion. Anybody can come up with a wild theory, but just because it gets published does not automatically make it as worthy as anything else for discussion consideration. You seem to have a sort of post-modernism approach … if someone had an idea then it’s just as relevant as any other idea put forth. It takes time to go through the science-mill & there is a priority metric. It’s kind of like the legal system this way. Particular cases may be messy but the system has a self-correcting smoothing effect.

    I have some confidence that you may come with me, at least in part, on point (1), but you’ve made it clear that you’re probably not coming along on point (2). Fine. That’s as much as I can care about it.

  73. #74 Jason S
    April 7, 2008

    To “believe” in P is generally understood to means “to hold a mental state that P is true.” More accurately, in most circumstances, you believe something precisely because their is convincing evidence in its favor. Ironically, I’m sadly annoyed by the pro-evolution/pro-science types who eschew the label “believe” because of a misunderstanding of philosophical semantics.

  74. #75 conradg
    April 7, 2008

    JimCh,

    Yes, I understand your explanation. Yes, anybody can come up with a wild theory, but this guy seems to at least be qualified enough to work for NASA on climate theory. He seems to have openly admitted to publishing quickly because he feels NASA is playing politics with this. I have never assumed his theory is true, I’m just asking if it’s been looked into. From the description I don’t think it’s quite as discipline-changing as all that. It’s focused on one technical aspect of the climate models, that’s all. It’s just that changing that part of the equation may, indeed, have very significant effects. It doesn’t seem, on the face of it, to be all that revolutionary an idea. I think everyone knows the climate models have lots of problems in them, and they haven’t had a good record of making predictions. So there’s got to be plenty of things wrong with them at various levels. This is simply pointing to one possible error in the models. Now, it may be bullshit, or it may not. I wouldn’t know. The guy claims, however, that the models run much closer to the historical record with his equations in it. Now maybe that’s bullshit also. But it also seem inaccurate to state that his equations only apply to runaway greenhouse theory. It seems to apply overall, producing a more modest greenhouse effect than the models otherwise project. In general, that is in accord with what I think is actually going on, but it doesn’t make the particulars of his theory right. Whether or not someone of high reputation in the field takes the time to look at his work is up to them. I just don’t think that decision should be based on where he published his work.

    In general, however, it seems that climatologists working on these models should be in the business of almost constantly reviewing their basic assumptions about climate, until they get the models “right”. It’s an incredibly complex and difficult task, and looking at stuff from a new angle is usually a good idea.

  75. #76 conradg
    April 7, 2008

    JImCH,

    Regarding Gore, I think you are spinning his statement regarding the “over-representation of factual presentations” way too favorably. I think it’s very clear that he means that he’s exagerating the threat in order to get people to pay attention. This is quite in line with the way the movie is presented, and his emphasis on very dubious things like polar bear drownings purely because he knows polar bears seem like cute and cuddly creatures (unless you’re a seal) that people will empathize with. Throw in the numerous factual inaccuracies, and his often-stated exagerations of the effects of AGW, and what you have is not a scientist, but…drum roll please…a politician. Surprise, surprise.

    Now, I understand that some politicians believe that if one’s opponents are twisting the truth and understating a problem (which is certainly going on in some parts of the anti-AGW crowd), the way to fight back is to twist the facts yourself and overstate them, but I think that’s the wrong way to go about it. It’s certainly not the scientific way to go about it. I think it undermines his credibility, and the credibility of the whole debate, and leads to the wrong policies. It’s the old end-justifies-the-means methodology, and I don’t approve. Nor should anyone trying to be true to the science involved. At least that’s my opinion.

  76. #77 conradg
    April 7, 2008

    Jason S,

    I agree with you in general about using the word “believe” in the ordinary sense of thinking something is true, but the science/evolution debate has been poisoned by religious people claiming that when scientists say they “believe” in evolution, they do so in the same way that religious people do when they say they don’t believe in evolution, or do believe in ID or biblical scripture. Religious, faith-based belief is a very different animal from ordinary, practical belief in things, and trying to conflate the two is one of the dirty tricks of fundamentalist rhetoric.

  77. #78 Terry Burton
    April 8, 2008

    Greetings! Just dropped by to say HELLO, and read over your blog. Nice set up. Your welcome to visit mine as well. Have a Great Day !!!

    http://atheist-theory.blogspot.com

  78. #79 conradg
    April 9, 2008

    An example of “over-representation of factual presentations”:

    The temperature of Venus is 455 degrees because CO2 floats in the air. This is where is we are heading because we are drawing it out of the Earth, trapping it and increasing temperature.
    -Al Gore, 2008

    “[Global warming]is the only crisis we’ve ever faced that has the capacity to completely end human civilization.?
    -2006

    “When we had the prospect of an all-out nuclear exchange…even that would not have necessarily caused the kind of radical transformation of the whole planet’s environment in a way that was unstoppable.?
    -2006

    Al Gore has repeatedly warned that we are facing the possibility of runaway global warming in the coming decades. JimCH says that no scientists take this seriously, that it’s a straw man. So, how is it that Al Gore can be taken seriously by scientists, if he is promoting a straw man?

  79. #80 Cawdor
    April 26, 2008

    This is merely a symptom, the problem is education and the decline of quality we have gotten over 3 decades. Why the decline … The Dept. of Education.

    Look at the decline from the 70s to now comapred to the time before 1976 … This is a sel-inflicted wound we are have caused becuase we have this unreasonable trust that government will do what is best for us.

    The Politicians we elect are supporting a system that is reducing the quality of an education the electorate gets.

    Vicious cycle eh?

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