Newton on Science Denial

The Huffington Post is not usually the go-to place for intelligent commentary on scientific issues, but sometimes they come through. Go have a look at this essay by Steven Newton, Project Director for the National Center for Science Education.

Science requires conclusions about how nature works to be rooted in evidence-based testing. Sometimes progress is slow. But through a difficult and often frustrating process, we learn more about the world.

Science denialism works differently. Creationists are unmoved by the wealth of fossil, molecular, and anatomical evidence for evolution. Global-warming denialists are unimpressed by mountains of climate data. Denialists ignore overwhelming evidence, focusing instead on a few hoaxes, such as Piltdown Man, or a few stolen e-mails. For denialists, opinion polls and talk radio are more important than thousands of peer-reviewed journal articles.

Denialists often appeal to the ideal of fairness, arguing schools should “teach the controversy” and address “evidence for and against” science, as in then-Sen. Rick Santorum’s proposed amendment to the No Child Left Behind bill in 2001. But they apply the ideal selectively to science they dislike: evolution, climate change, vaccines. They hope to cloak themselves in the mantle of science without being restricted by its requirements.

If denialists had evidence disproving global warming or evolution, they could submit it to scientific conferences and journals, inviting analysis by scientists. But, knowing their arguments don’t hold water, they spread misinformation in arenas not subject to expert scrutiny: mass-market books, newspapers, talk radio, and blogs.

Good stuff. Go read the rest.

Comments

  1. #1 The Science Pundit
    January 6, 2010

    And the denialists have already shown up in the comments over there. *sigh* That is typical of the Huffington Post.

  2. #2 Charlie B.
    January 7, 2010

    It’s typical of everywhere, Science Pundit. On the BBC Environment pages, on Real Climate, on any article on climate or evolution on Melbourne’s The Age, the denialists appear quickly and in numbers. Any sensible discussion is rapidly drowned out. It seems organised – the posting styles and arguments are familiar across many news sites and forums, but the names change regularly.

    Nice to see a decent critique of denialism over at Huffington Post though, given the editors’ apparent sympathy to antivaccination baloney in the past.

  3. #3 Julian
    January 7, 2010

    OK up to a point but the attempt to group together the three topics of climate change, creationism and vaccines is not in itself scientific. So much of what you quote includes loaded statements. For example:

    The very term “global-warming denialist” is used to discredit those who are sceptical about climate change and are legitimately seeking more information. It implies there are only two groups: those who accept climate change orthodoxy and those who deny it completely. That is factually incorrect and reinforces some people’s suspicions that techniques other than scientific ones are being used to close down any debate about the issue. The statement that “the science is settled and if you don’t accept it you’re no better than a creationist” is not a scientific one. Saying (as this article does) that climate change scepticism is wrong because creationism is wrong seems on rather shaky ground if that’s the best argument they can come up with.

    The term “a few stolen emails” is incredibly loaded. The emphasis on the fact that they were not released willingly is used to divert attention from what they contain. There were certainly more than a few (over a thousand plus many other documents and data files) and many contain information that was legitimately requested under Freedom of Information legislation. It is possible that they were collated in response to a requirement to release them under FoI and nobody actually knows whether they were “stolen”. That term is value-laden. One could say they were leaked by a whistleblower, which would be a lot more noble. The point is, we don’t know, and to imply otherwise is not scientific. Also, even if they cast no doubt whatsoever on climate science, they are prima facie evidence of some very dubious activities among climate scientists. This is a reason to be concerned rather than to dismiss the leak as irrelevant.

    Finally, a key aspect of the emails is a strong indication that every attempt was made to keep any sceptical articles from being published in peer-reviewed literature. That may not be accurate but there is enough evidence to warrant further investigation. The argument that climate sceptics should just publish peer-reviewed articles cannot be used at the same time as criticising the release of the emails. The emails appear to indicate (again, we don’t know but further investigation is needed) that the peer review process was compromised by having reviews carried out within a close-knit group with similar views.

  4. #4 Ashley Moore
    January 7, 2010

    Julian wrote:

    The statement that “the science is settled and if you don’t accept it you’re no better than a creationist” is not a scientific one. Saying (as this article does) that climate change scepticism is wrong because creationism is wrong seems on rather shaky ground if that’s the best argument they can come up with.

    No, the best argument they can come up with in the thousands of papers written over three decades in scores of different scientific journals. The argument of anthropigenic climate change was fought in the 80s and 90s, the pro-side won, due to massive supporting evidence.

    Comparing those who don’t accept anthropigenic climate change to creationsism is a non-scientific observation on the people who refuse to accept the scientific evidence.

  5. #5 Gerard Harbison
    January 7, 2010

    The comparison of climate change to evolution is very silly, and I’n going to be reevaluating my support of NCSE. Evolution is a 150 year old theory; AGW perhaps 25 years. The evidence from evolution is everywhere, and I’ve looked at some of it myself; I’ve dug fossils, run molecular phylogenetic comparisons of genes, etc.. There’s no doubt.

    I’ve also looked at climate records for several sites in the US, and the notable thing is, the evidence does not pop out at you. In fact, the major instrumental evidence rests on global average temperatures which require a great deal of correction and interpolation; the parts of the world experiencing the largest changes are the ones with the sparsest data. Much of the proxy data is cherry-picked; the models are heavily parameterized. The one unchallengeable scientific fact is the infra-red absorbtion of CO2, which increases (very weakly, by the way) when you increase atmospheric CO2, But how this translates into increases in global temperature is a complex question, and even the IPCC puts huge error limits on it.

    Is claiming the increase in global temperature for a given increase in CO2 is probably at the low edge or slightly below the IPCC’s error limits really equivalent to denyng evolution?

  6. #6 Julian
    January 7, 2010

    I have followed the climate change and creationism debates for quite a while. When creationists express doubts about evolution, many people (Jason included) explain patiently to them why they are wrong. Each argument (e.g. there are no intermediate fossils, information cannot be created, there is irreducible complexity, etc.) is addressed and explained in clear terms so that an honest enquirer can see that it’s false.

    What seems to happen with climate change sceptisicm is that the ulitmate argument from authority is the only one used. Ashley Moore says:

    “The argument of anthropigenic climate change was fought in the 80s and 90s, the pro-side won, due to massive supporting evidence”.

    In other words, the science is settled, everyone agrees, don’t ask questions.

    The reason climate change scepticism gains traction is because many claims made in support of climate change turn out on further investigation to be more nuanced or uncertain than was originally made out. There are many examples but I don’t want to turn this thread into a discussion about climate change by quoting them here.

    Evolution science, when subjected to challenge by creationists, has made its arguments ever more clearly and more crisply. You can now find superb summaries on the internet of every aspect of what is currently understood about evolution. Those who deny evolution have to pretend those explanations don’t exist and they never try to argue against them directly in a scientific way, because they can’t.

    On the other hand, the leaked CRU emails indicate that some climate scientists have been as unsure about the conclusions being drawn as some sceptics have been. However, climate change is presented as settled science and those differences of opinion are never allowed to surface in public.

    With evolution, there is no research that is kept secret, no arguments that are not entered into and no data that is the private property of the researchers. With climate science, all that is presented is the scientists’ conclusions. Requests to see how they have arrived at these conclusions have been met with refusals to release data and algorithms so that others can verify the results. One request was met with the response “why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?”. Suppose an evolution researcher said to a creationist “why should I let you see my fossils, when your aim is to disprove evolution”.

    We don’t know whether these types of behaviour are innocent or just driven by academic rivalry or something more sinister. Until there is as much openness in climate science as there is in the other sciences, the scepticism will not go away.

  7. #7 Jud
    January 7, 2010

    Gerald Harbison writes:

    I’ve also looked at climate records for several sites in the US, and the notable thing is, the evidence does not pop out at you.

    If you looked at records from several runs at the Large Hadron Collider, would the evidence for the Standard Model “pop out at you”?

    Your lack of knowledge or understanding of the evidence doesn’t mean the evidence does not exist, or is not utterly persuasive. This is part of what Newton is talking about when he says talk radio and opinion polls (i.e., popular understanding or lack of same) is more important to denialists than peer-reviewed journal articles (i.e., understanding by scientists who devote their professional careers to a subject).

  8. #8 Jud
    January 7, 2010

    julian writes:

    One request was met with the response “why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?”. Suppose an evolution researcher said to a creationist “why should I let you see my fossils, when your aim is to disprove evolution”.

    Don’t know if you realize it, but what you hypothesize has actually happened. Dr. Richard Lenski famously refused the request of Andrew Schlafly (founder of Conservapedia) to examine all of Lenski’s data from decades of carefully done and reported experiments on evolution in colonies of e. coli, for pretty much the reason you mention above. That is, why should the good doctor Lenski or any legitimate climate researcher go to the trouble of turning over mountains of data to someone who is not doing serious science?

    If you have an example of climate researchers refusing to turn over data to legitimate peers out of fear that AGW will be shown to be a myth, rather than the usual petty human reasons, please provide it.

  9. #9 Julian
    January 7, 2010

    “If you have an example of climate researchers refusing to turn over data to legitimate peers out of fear that AGW will be shown to be a myth, rather than the usual petty human reasons, please provide it.”

    The key words here are “legitimate peers”. Would a climate researcher ever believe a sceptic to be a legitimate peer? We are told the science is settled, so how can anyone who disputes that be a legitimate scientist? This is precisely what the argument is about.

    There has been a fundamental change in the way the world works as regards authority, which has been brought about by the internet, blogging etc. In the past, scientists expected to publish their results in obscure journals and for the public to accept them without question. Politicians expected to make decisions based on the science and have neither their decisions nor the science questioned.

    It isn’t like that any more.

    The term “legitimate peer” sends shudders down my spine. It says only the favoured few are allowed to participate in scientific debate and to question. Everyone else must just accept what their betters tell them. The times they are a’changing.

  10. #10 Collin Brendemuehl
    January 7, 2010

    #1 The unscientific approach that accepts only one model for CC (AGW) amounts to mere personal bias. Geological global warming, esp. as related to the Little Ice Age (see the History Channel documentary for an intro to this), is accepted by many as the best explanation for the last 150 years of warming. Not anthropogenic. Yet the GGW community is regularly ignored. Still, such uninformed remarks remain:

    In other words, the science is settled, everyone agrees, don’t ask questions.

    #2 I heard that the emails were leaked. But even if stolen, does that change the content? Does it eliminate the bad science, the intentional obfuscation and alternation of data that is the foundation for this anti-capitalism?

    #3 To add credibility to the data ought be trusted because it might have been “stolen” is equivalent to suggesting that HuffPo has credibility because Benjamin Barber justified the Ft. Hood murders for the cause of diversity. Ok, that didn’t work really well, but well enough. Weak analogical arguments are not suitable to sustaining your position. I know of no scientific field, except the various evolutionary models, which support this approach to evidence.

    #4 If the science is settled then why do the “scientists” sense the need to keep lying, hiding evidence, and participating in partisan politics?

  11. #11 SLC
    January 7, 2010

    The real scandal relative to the issue of global warming isn’t the emails which have been greatly quote mined and distorted by the denialists. It’s the attempts by the denialists to prevent the possible discovery of evidence for or against the theory.

    1. In the New York Times article linked to below, it is stated that the CIA is sharing information obtained form its secret spy satellites with climate scientists. Not unexpectedly, the climate change denialists are up in arms and screaming bloody murder about this. Just the possibility that the data might possibly invalidate their claims (it could also support them) is enough to demand that such activities cease as of this instant.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/05/science/earth/05satellite.html?hpw

    2. As Prof. Bob Park of the Un. of Maryland Physics department has been exposing for years, the global warming denialists in the Bush Administration prevented the launching of the DSCOVR satellite which was designed by NASA for the purpose of acquiring data on possible climate change. Even though the data might possibly support the denialist position, the denialists shrink in terror at the possibility that it might reinforce the theory of global warming.

    http://bobpark.physics.umd.edu/WN08/wn020108.html

  12. #12 Gerard Harbison
    January 7, 2010

    Jud:

    Temperature records aren’t exactly rocket science.

  13. #13 eric
    January 7, 2010

    Julian @3:Finally, a key aspect of the emails is a strong indication that every attempt was made to keep any sceptical articles from being published in peer-reviewed literature. That may not be accurate but there is enough evidence to warrant further investigation.

    So, let me just paraphrase. The idea that there could be some global conspiracy of mainstream scientists which prevent any evidence for design from being published in the literature, you find laughable. The idea that there could be some global conspiracy of mainstream scientists which prevent any evidence for vaccinations causing autism from being published in the literature, you find laughable. But the idea that there could be some global conspiracy of mainstream scientists which prevent any evidence for non-AGW from being published in the literature, you find worthy of consideration.

    Do I have that right?

  14. #14 Gerard Harbison
    January 7, 2010

    Julian:

    The Mysteries of raw station data are not for the eyes of the profane, but can only be perused by the Sacred Priesthood of Climate Science, who can divine the Hidden Trends and banish the Divergences from the Trvth of Anthropogenic Global Warming.

    Pray that you, too, might vouchsafe to be given the Trvth.

  15. #15 Julian
    January 7, 2010

    eric @13

    I am not aware of any evidence of a “global conspiracy of mainstream scientists which prevent any evidence for design from being published in the literature”. I don’t disbelieve it because it’s “laughable” but because I haven’t seen any evidence.

    I am not aware of any evidence of a “global conspiracy of mainstream scientists which prevent any evidence for vaccinations causing autism from being published in the literature”. Ditto.

    However, the leaked emails, which no one has suggested are faked, to my knowledge, contain messages which appear to show attempts to prevent sceptical articles being published in peer-reviewed journals. I know this by reading them myself, not from what anyone else tells me. Do I think this is a “global conspiracy”? No, but I would like to see the evidence in the emails investigated. The people involved are the most significant personalities involved in telling us how serious AGW is. If they are so worried about contrary views being published, it would not be unreasonable to think their case is not as strong as they would have us believe.

    As regards “climate change denial”, I am sure there are people who deny it for financial or political reasons. I could well believe oil companies are involved. However, just because some deny climate change dishonestly, doesn’t prove that those who warn us of it are whiter than white. I am equally concerned that vested interests might telling me there is no climate change, if the evidence points to the contrary.

    I want the evidence to be open and freely available to all, particularly when the research has been conducted at public expense. I don’t want to be told, for example, that the earth is incontrovertibly warmer now than at any time in the last thousand years and then find out (from the leaked emails) that not all cliamte scientists actually hold that view. Science can never involve withholding information or suppression of dissent.

  16. #16 Damian
    January 7, 2010

    However, the leaked emails, which no one has suggested are faked, to my knowledge, contain messages which appear to show attempts to prevent sceptical articles being published in peer-reviewed journals. I know this by reading them myself, not from what anyone else tells me. Do I think this is a “global conspiracy”? No, but I would like to see the evidence in the emails investigated. The people involved are the most significant personalities involved in telling us how serious AGW is. If they are so worried about contrary views being published, it would not be unreasonable to think their case is not as strong as they would have us believe.

    You see, this is why people call you denialists, because you haven’t even bothered, after all of this time, to find out exactly what that email was referring to, as well as the overall context involved.

    So, I’ll give you a chance to further explain yourself. Start by presenting email, and then explain what it is referring to? And for bonus points, see if you can explain what important piece of information effectively makes it a non-story.

    Look, you cannot blame us for rolling our eyes when you consistently reveal a profound ignorance, not simply about the evidence that has even been explained in popular articles, meaning that you don’t have the excuse that the technical literature is to complicated and confusing, but also about an incident in which you admit to having read the emails, and in the next sentence, reveal that you haven’t even bothered to attempt to understand the context.

    And that isn’t an excuse, because while some of the emails were unfortunate, none of them reveal what you have clearly been told that they reveal. So, let’s see if you can come up with the proper explanation, which is entirely factual, and not a spin on something much worse.

    I want the evidence to be open and freely available to all, particularly when the research has been conducted at public expense. I don’t want to be told, for example, that the earth is incontrovertibly warmer now than at any time in the last thousand years and then find out (from the leaked emails) that not all cliamte scientists actually hold that view. Science can never involve withholding information or suppression of dissent.

    This is again indicative of your thinking and reveals a profound ignorance of, it would appear, almost everything that pertains to climate science, and even the leaked emails.

    So, I’ll give you another opportunity to tell me which evidence has not been freely available, all along (hint: please don’t say the temperature data, for a number of reasons)?

    And could you please explain your comment about some scientists not believing that the earth is both warmer, as well as warming faster, than it has for some considerable period of time?

    What I am doing here is giving you an opportunity to either redeem or hang yourself. There are things that you should understand, and yet your rather vague comments appear to indicate that you don’t. I don’t have time to argue with conspiracy theorists, and even if I did, past experience tells me that it would be better spent banging my head against a wall.

    So, I hope that you can appreciate that I would like to know what it is that you think that you know, because it is crucial if I am to understand whether you are simply confused, or profoundly lazy and ignorant.

    I look forward to your reply.

  17. #17 eric
    January 7, 2010

    Julian @15:Do I think this is a “global conspiracy”? No, but I would like to see the evidence in the emails investigated.

    If its not a global conspiracy, then why do the non-AGW folks insist on publishing in trade books rather than peer reviewed journals? Clearly you think they could publish in the journals not controlled by the conspiracy. So why don’t they?

    I also second Damian’s request that you cite a specific email and tell us what you think it means. And just so you can’t say you don’t have them, here’s a link to where you can download them.

  18. #18 Jud
    January 7, 2010

    Gerald Harbison writes:

    Temperature records aren’t exactly rocket science.

    You’re quite correct, knowing how temperature records factor into global climate is far, far more complex than mere rocket science. Rocket science works with relatively simple Newtonian mechanics well known for centuries, while climate modeling involves mathematical and scientific theory regarding chaotic events that wasn’t around until a few decades ago.

  19. #19 Collin C
    January 7, 2010

    What if we go to all this trouble making the world a cleaner place and this whole global warming thing turns out to be a hoax? Paraphrased from a cartoon someone posted on SB.
    It seems that there are a few things that non-AGW folks would go along with regardless of the evidence. The machines of industry are “dirty”, use a lot of energy and put tons of pollutants into the atmosphere. It’s been proven beyond a doubt that some of those pollutants do harm the environment in pretty obvious ways (the hole in the ozone layer, ground level smog causing asthma). So, to me at least, it seems obvious that working toward more efficient, “cleaner” sources of energy would be an okay thing to do.
    While I may think it’s crap what a preacher spews on Sundays, I’ll still lend him a hand if he’s doing something good on Monday. Not exactly equivilant but…

  20. #20 Jud
    January 7, 2010

    julian writes:

    The key words here are “legitimate peers”. Would a climate researcher ever believe a sceptic to be a legitimate peer? We are told the science is settled, so how can anyone who disputes that be a legitimate scientist? This is precisely what the argument is about.

    What eric @ #13 said: You have no problem recognizing when those demanding ever more evidence re well-settled issues are mere denialists and not “legitimate” with regard to evolution and vaccination, but when it comes to AGW, you think those denying that it exists or demanding ever more evidence (or sometimes, inconsistently, both) may just have a point.

    This may be a result of not being as well informed regarding AGW as you are re the other issues. It seems that may be so if you are forced to rely on what e-mails reveal about the personal foibles of researchers, rather than referencing sound conclusions based on robust data. If what you are saying is that you’d like to become more familiar with the science and the data before coming to your own conclusions, that’s certainly a legitimate position.

  21. #21 Bill
    January 7, 2010

    Temperatures have shown very slight increases over the last 100 years or so. This shows scientific global warming. How much of an increase has made an impact? Is it due to humans and industry pollutants? Are we spending money and frantically changing our lives because of a scare tactic? These questions are still up for debate. Information is out there, but whose are we trusting?

    Evolution means change. This happens daily. Natural selection means the preservation of a species that already had the traits in the dna to begin with.–this too happens, but does not create a new species–they actually loose info and become “pure breeds”–which are more susceptible to disease. Mutations happen (rarely) and do in fact result in a loss of info (to the commenter above) which cannot be looked past.–however, no amount of mutation has ever shown to produce a new species. To the other side: It takes faith to believe in a creator (ID)/other. What you have are excellent theories with science in the middle and a faith in things not yet proven. To say: “it will be found out at some point” is not science–its faith. That goes for creationist and the evolutionist,–or the one who has faith in someone who says to change your life our we’ll all die out.

    What you have is science in the middle and different opinions as to what the evidence shows. We have to admit that both (or many) viewpoints have practiced unfair and deceitful science. There have been false statements made in hopes for grants, power, recognition in many cases for different “sides” of debate. You have to remain open-minded and separate the fact from the fiction.

  22. #22 Gerard Harbison
    January 7, 2010

    You’re quite correct, knowing how temperature records factor into global climate is far, far more complex than mere rocket science. Rocket science works with relatively simple Newtonian mechanics well known for centuries, while climate modeling involves mathematical and scientific theory regarding chaotic events that wasn’t around until a few decades ago.

    Now you’re waffling, guy, and you’re waffling the wrong person. Temperature is a metric of climate; it doesn’t ‘factor into’ it. If climate were chaotic, it would be by definition unpredictable. And rocket science these days requires inclusion of relativistic corrections. But thanks for playing, and good luck with your midterm exams.

  23. #23 sohbet
    January 7, 2010

    Thank you, nice post..

  24. #24 SLC
    January 7, 2010

    Re Gerard Harbison

    Actually, relativistic corrections are rather straight forward as they are treated as small (very small; the relativistic correction to the precession rate of the orbit of the planet mercury is 43 seconds of arc per century) perturbations, the treatment of which using the Hamilton formulation of classical mechanics is well understood.

  25. #25 Maezeppa
    January 7, 2010

    Creationists and AGW denialists post all over the internet. They spam “liberal” chat boards with special vigor. In fact, there are creationist professors at places like Liberty U. who give students credit for doing so (see articles at Pharyngula for confirmation of this).

    Huffingtonpost is guilty of including pseudoscience in it’s “health” sections, articles about “detoxifying” the body, for instance.

    To brand Huffpo readers (I’m one) as creationist or denialist or simply ascientific is inaccurate.

  26. #26 Paul
    January 8, 2010

    #7 If you looked at records from several runs at the Large Hadron Collider, would the evidence for the Standard Model “pop out at you”?

    Amen! And after a few centuries, we still haven’t much clue as to the mechanism of Gravitation, all we have are good expressions to characterize certain parameters of it. (unless someone here knows the speed of gravity?)

    The only reason the Theory of Gravitation is not ‘controversial’ is because the bible doesn’t say anything about it. It can’t be because we have figured it all out.

  27. #27 Jud
    January 8, 2010

    Gerald Harbison writes:

    Now you’re waffling, guy, and you’re waffling the wrong person.

    Obviously, since while mere mortals need supercomputers, you know all about AGW just by eyeballing temperature records of (how many?) locations in one nation of the world (over what length of time?).

    Temperature is a metric of climate; it doesn’t ‘factor into’ it.

    I’m sorry, I wasn’t aware we were in English class here. Fine, then, temperature is certainly a metric of heat, and that metric is an indicator of local weather, but the key is that local weather is not climate, and to what extent local weather in several locations over a limited period of time is an indicator of changes in worldwide climate is an incredibly complex question. (Though as we now know, not for the likes of you, Gerald!)

    If climate were chaotic, it would be by definition unpredictable.

    Err, no. First, here’s a quote from the Wikipedia article on chaos theory:

    An early pioneer of the theory was Edward Lorenz whose interest in chaos came about accidentally through his work on weather prediction in 1961. Lorenz was using a simple digital computer, a Royal McBee LGP-30, to run his weather simulation. He wanted to see a sequence of data again and to save time he started the simulation in the middle of its course. He was able to do this by entering a printout of the data corresponding to conditions in the middle of his simulation which he had calculated last time.

    To his surprise the weather that the machine began to predict was completely different from the weather calculated before. Lorenz tracked this down to the computer printout. The computer worked with 6-digit precision, but the printout rounded variables off to a 3-digit number, so a value like 0.506127 was printed as 0.506. This difference is tiny and the consensus at the time would have been that it should have had practically no effect. However Lorenz had discovered that small changes in initial conditions produced large changes in the long-term outcome. Lorenz’s discovery, which gave its name to Lorenz attractors, proved that meteorology could not reasonably predict weather beyond a weekly period (at most).

    So weather is chaotic and can’t be predicted over long periods of time. Climate results from the same systems that drive weather, plus more, so the chaotic nature of the total system is, if anything, increased. How then can we model climate change over extended periods of time?

    Analogously to the same way insurance companies run, Gerald. You don’t know exactly when you or I will get sick or die, just like you don’t know exactly what the weather will be in Poughkeepsie next month. But insurance companies make lots of money because there are regularities that emerge when such local events as individual illness and death are considered over large populations. Analogously, there are climate trends that emerge from data taken from myriad locations and time periods when those data are input into the appropriate models.

    And rocket science these days requires inclusion of relativistic corrections.

    Y’know, I actually considered adding a parenthetical to my comment like “(with negligible relativistic effects),” but I thought to myself, (1)the relativistic effects are small enough that one doesn’t actually need to know relativity to make the corrections, one could simply call it a “fudge factor;” and (2) Gerald wouldn’t be that much of a pill, would he?

  28. #28 SLC
    January 8, 2010

    Re Paul @ #26

    1. The speed of propagation of gravitational effects is the same as the speed of light.

    2. Gravitational effects are understood as due to the curvature of space due to the presence of large massive bodies such as stars, planets, moons, etc. known as the General Theory of Relativity. What is not currently understood is how General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics fit together. Fortunately, for most purposes, one can assume that in the domain where quantum effects are dominate (e.g. at the atomic level), gravitational effects can be ignored and in the domain where gravitational effects dominate, quantum effects can be ignored (e.g. problems in celestial mechanics). This assumption, however, breaks down in the interior of black holes where the predictions of General Relativity come into conflict with the predictions of Quantum Mechanics (e.g. General Relativity conflicts with the Pauli Exclusion Principal).

  29. #29 Collin Brendemuehl
    January 8, 2010

    That term chaotic is missing some weight.
    It does not mean the same thing as mathematical randomness. It is closer to what philosophers call contingency. And it is dependent upon other factors, and so is neither self-determined nor self-directional. It neither processes nor creates directionality.
    (And when evolutionists reconcile this with the idea of evolutionary directionality, that is when they become philospohers and not scientists.)

  30. #30 Julian
    January 8, 2010

    Damian @16, I may be “ignorant” or even “profoundly ignorant” as you suggest. I’m sure I’m “confused” and I may even be “profoundly lazy”. I can see why you think comments from such a pitiful creature as myself are not worth addressing.

    If I might precis your own long comment though, it was “the science is settled, you don’t understand it, shut up”. I think that was the point I was making all along.

    Happy New Year. I hope you have lots of snow where you are. We do.

  31. #31 eric
    January 8, 2010

    Julian, you’ve got it exactly wrong. We don’t want you to shut up. We want you to lay out your evidence. I didn’t claim to have read the emails or found evidence that mainstream scientists were preventing AGW-refuters from publishing. You did. I’m asking you to go one step beyond assertion and show me the email that lead you to that conlusion.

    Why do I think you bear the burden of proof, and not me? Well, frankly because I agree with you that, in general, the idea of a wide conspiracy of scientists preventing their opponents from publishing is laughable. So I hope you will agree with me that any person who asserts such a conspiracy exists has the burden of proof.

  32. #32 heleen
    January 8, 2010

    Off topic:
    Jason, did you blog about all of Dawkins’ book The Greatest Show on Earth, or did you comment on only about a third?

  33. #33 atheismisdead
    January 9, 2010

    the atheist sins not only against God, but also against man…

    Atheist:

    have you for but a moment considered that you have adopted a position against 98% of the human race, both past and present?

    do you think you are RIGHT and they are all WRONG?

    WRONG

    now listen to this arrogant puffed up son of a bitch….

    youtube.com/watch?v=ilWM7jIEN_k

    visit

    theologyonline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=63265

    to see how the NEW ATHEIST MOVEMENT has been annihilated

    please, some comment moderation on your blasphemy

  34. #34 Paul
    January 9, 2010

    Re SLC #28

    1. The speed of propagation of gravitational effects is the same as the speed of light.

    I meant the “how”, not the “what”.

    Two entirely different phenomenon, the curvature of space and the speed of EMR. Of all possible speeds Gravity could ripple, it happens to be C. The world is full of happy coincidence!

    We may be close enough for government work now, but I bet we’ll figure out how gravity works some day.

  35. #35 SLC
    January 9, 2010

    Re Paul @ #35

    I’m not quite sure what Mr. Paul is getting at. The gravitational equivalent of EMR would be gravitational waves which, according to the principles of quantum mechanics, would involve a spin 2 massless particle called a graviton. Thus gravitons would fill the same role in gravitation as photons (a spin 1 massless particle) do in EMR. According to the Theory of Special Relativity, then, a graviton would be expected to move at the same speed as a photon. Or in other words, gravitational waves travel at the same speed as EM waves.

    Of course, the question might arise as to whether photons and gravitons could conceivably travel at different speeds. I can’t answer this question as I don’t know enough about theories of quantum gravity, in particular, as to whether some symmetry law would be violated by a speed difference.

  36. #36 Mela
    January 10, 2010

    Earlier (didn’t note it being picked up): “The comparison of climate change to evolution is very silly, and I’n going to be reevaluating my support of NCSE. Evolution is a 150 year old theory; AGW perhaps 25 years.”

    AGW is more than 100 years old (Arrhenius, 1896). Indeed, Tyndall demonstrated the ‘greenhouse effect’ a few months before Darwin went public.

  37. #37 atheismisdead
    January 11, 2010

    the DANCE OF DEATH ON THE WORLD TRADE CENTER:
    youtube.com/watch?v=-NHUbdqNb1A

    THE END OF ATHEISM:

    thezeitgeistmovement.com/joomla/index.php?option=com_kunena&Itemid=99999&func=view&catid=8&id=217544

  38. #38 Peter
    January 12, 2010

    Darwins Church: open source mission statement / creed

    What would you add to the open source belief system of Darwins Church as a mission statement / creed ?

    It seems to me that famous quote by Voltaire “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him” is still true but we have evolved to the time when Darwins Church with an existing infinite life membership of all from amoeba to primate, religious order to atheist group, all faiths and philosophers accept the origin of species as the natural theology. It is possible that through Darwins Church atheist’s can always work through reason and ambiguity rather than in isolation / antipathy

    Your comments please

    Encompassing all entities
    The science of life
    Infinite congregation
    Interdependent
    Encompassing all primate belief systems, faiths, creeds, ……….. from totem poles to cathedrals all that once gave social order

    DarwinsChurch.com
    DarwinsChurch.org
    Will be an open source organisation

    We evolved religions to survive, what’s the point in believing something if you don’t think it’s true? Our fears created our superstitions at the dawn of our intelligence; beliefs are built into us through ignorance. We will always have belief systems, I see no reason why we can’t have a belief system where every living thing is a member by default and is based on reason

    a faith for reason.
    The emotional baggage is not carried by the term.
    Church
    any Christian – non-Christian religious society, organization, or “congregation”: the Jewish church.
    Congregation
    (in colonial North America) a parish, town, plantation, or other “settlement” = the planet

    Be a more interested r&E class

  39. #39 oldfuzz
    January 20, 2010

    One wonders how religion came about. For me it began with the first human thought, “What’s this?” which prompted further thinking, “What’s it about?” “Where did it come from?”

    Lloyd Geering has a new book, “Coming Back to Earth: from gods to God to Gaia” wherein he explores the evolution of pre-science culture (gods) which evolved into God which evolved during the scientific period and in progressing into a natural (secular) domain today with the intuitively obvious observation that those who can’t or won’t keep up with emerging scientific knowledge will rebel against it.

    Press on all ye who know knowledge is the goal of humankind with the full realization that how we treat ourselves,m others and the planet is the real test.

  40. #40 Robert
    February 1, 2010

    For a long time, I accepted the mainstream belief that CO2 was causing global warming. Once I started to dig into it I became a little more skeptical. The Hockey Stick Graph looks suspicious for a number of reasons; 1) error bars on readings back in the 1900’s are +/- .2 degrees. I can barely measure my own body temperature that accurately. 2) the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age have somehow been averaged-out. 3) in my personal experience that last couple of years have been ‘freaking freezing’ and 4) the IPCC seems to have a monopoly on climate analysis. Other pieces of data have also increased my doubt – man made contributions to greenhouse gases is only about .28%. Is global climate really teetering on such a knife edge?
    I would like to see 2 or 3 independent organizations analyze the raw data.
    Right now, I am more worried about unchecked population growth, the health of the oceans and deforestation.
    And no, questioning global warming is not the same as questioning evolution. Every time I dig into a claim about evolution, I get confirming evidence from many different sources. For global warming it seems it is the IPCC against everyone else.

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